The Queen Died…So?

I can only imagine many Britons are still in mourning over the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8.  But, like many Americans, I don’t really care.  While much of the American media still treats the British royal family as iconic figures, the overwhelming majority of us couldn’t care less what they do or say.

The only member of that tribe I liked was the late Princess Diana.  I always felt she had more class in her little finger than the entire gang put together.  When she and Prince Charles wed in 1981, many Britons had begun questioning the purpose of a royal family.  Their political power had officially been stripped decades earlier.  They’re figurative leaders, and Elizabeth was considered a “Sovereign Head of State”.  But there’s no question the Windsors remain deeply influential.  They were among the few European royal families to survive the carnage of World War II.

Regardless of their heritage, I consider Elizabeth and the entire Windsor clan representative of the legacy of colonial repression and European superiority complex.  What purpose do they – or any of the other royal families around the globe – truly serve?  The Windsors own a multitude of properties in the British Isles and cost local taxpayers billions every year.  England is currently in an economic crisis.  The Windsors pay some taxes, but – like the wealthiest citizens of most every society on Earth – the actual percentage is questionable and unknown.  That’s by design.

If you want to get an idea of what many in the British Commonwealth think about Elizabeth, watch this piece on Jamaican reaction to her death.  Like the peoples of many former British colonies, Jamaicans were forced to give their lives to enrich the “Crown”.  England, like France and other European powers, slaughtered millions of Indigenous Americans and then snatched millions of Indigenous Africans to replace them.  After World War II, the British Empire was compelled to relinquish two of its biggest colonial prizes: Canada and India.  The fought bitterly to hold onto the Falkland Islands in 1982, but eventually gave up Hong Kong in 1997.

I have to commend the British for doing something positive overall to make some kind of amends for their activities in many parts of the globe, especially Africa.

Years ago many conservative Americans criticized President Obama and his wife, Michelle, for not bowing or curtsying to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.  I reminded many that our president doesn’t bow or curtsy to the British monarchy or any royal family.  While the U.S. and England are historically and inexorably bonded, the American Revolution was about divorcing ourselves from the power and influence of British royalty.  We represent a true democracy – not a monarchial federation.

The world knows what the French and Russians did to their royal families.  I don’t suggest the same fate befall the Windsors or any other regal clan.  But no one can seem to answer – what purpose do these people serve in a modern world?

I have a tenuous connection to the Windsor clan – emphasis on tenuous.  Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, was a chronic smoker.  So was my paternal grandfather, Epigmenio De La Garza, who was born in 1893.  In February 1952, both George and my grandfather had surgeries to remove part of one lung.  Both the surgeons who worked on King George and the ones who worked on my grandfather attended the same medical school.  King George died.  My grandfather survived and lived for another 17 years.

Fate, like irony, makes for strange outcomes in life.

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October 2022 Literary Calendar

Events in the month of October for writers and readers

  • National Book Month
  • National Reading Group Month
  • October 1 – International Coffee Day
  • October 2 – Name Your Car Day
  • October 3 – Techies Day
  • October 7 – World Smile Day
  • October 6 – Mad Hatter Day
  • October 9 – Curious Events Day
  • October 10 – Indigenous People’s Day
  • October 11 – Myth and Legends Day; National Coming Out Day
  • October 12 – Cookbook Launch Day; Moment of Frustration Day
  • October 13 – International Skeptic’s Day
  • October 15 – Mario Puzo’s Birthday
  • October 16 – Noah Webster’s Birthday; Oscar Wilde’s Birthday; Dictionary Day
  • October 16-22 – National Friends of Libraries Week
  • October 19 – Evaluate Your Life Day
  • October 20 – National Day on Writing
  • October 21 – Alfred Nobel’s Birthday; Babbling Day
  • October 22 – Smart Is Cool Day
  • October 25 – Pablo Picasso’s Birthday; Howl at the Moon Night
  • October 27 – National Tell a Story Day (Scotland; U.K.)
  • October 29 – Hermit Day
  • October 31 – Increase Your Psychic Powers Day

Famous October Birthdays

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Banned Books Week 2022

I know I’m running late with this, but it’s Banned Books Week, the annual commemoration of free speech and free press.  As always, some people feel they have the authority to determine what the rest of us can see and read.  They start with the schools and libraries under the familiar guise of protecting the children, but the ultimate goal is to restrict literature and education.

All writers and bloggers should always stand up to any kind of censorship.  Remember, no one – absolutely no one – has the right to select what you can and cannot read!

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In Remembrance: September 11, 2001

“Without knowledge of the past we shall lose the future.”

Celtic Proverb

911 Memorial

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Labor Day 2022

“Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?”

Edgar Bergen

Image: Loose Parts

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Bothered

As all my followers well know, The Chief is always asking the tough questions about our world.  For example, how do sexual harassment policies work in adult film production companies?  I realize that’s a hard one to think about, but just try.  You never know what you’ll come up with!

I will now refrain from posting anything for the rest of the weekend.

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In Memoriam – Barbara Ehrenreich, 1941-2022

“No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.”

Barbara Ehrenreich

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September 2022 Literary Calendar

Events in the month of September for writers and readers

  • Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month
  • Library Card Sign Up Month
  • National Literacy Month
  • Read a New Book Month (also December)
  • September 4 – Richard Wright’s Birthday; Newspaper Carrier Day
  • September 6 – Read a Book Day
  • September 8 – International Literacy Day
  • September 18 – Read an E-book Day
  • September 18-24 – National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week
  • September 21 – Stephen King’s Birthday
  • September 22 – Hobbit Day
  • September 22 – Dear Diary Day
  • September 24 – National Punctuation Day
  • September 24 – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Birthday
  • September 25 – National Comic Book Day
  • September 25-October 1 – Banned Books Week
  • September 29 – Miguel de Cervantes’ Birthday; National Coffee Day in the U.S.
  • September 30 – Truman Capote’s Birthday

Famous September Birthdays

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Missing This

In 1995, the British pop duo Everything But the Girl released “Missing”, a song that would become their greatest hit.  Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt paired up 40 years ago to create EBTG.  They found their title in the slogan of a store in their home town of Hull that promised to sell shoppers “everything but the girl”.  I feel they’re one of the most underrated musical acts of recent decades.  There was once a time – before the internet – when people could vanish from our lives and we relied on music like this to fill the void.  Music always seems to fill the void of whatever or whomever we’re missing.

My old friend, Paul Landin, had discovered EBTG in the late 1980s and became instantly fascinated with them.  He was especially enamored with Thorn.  I know he traveled to England at least twice in the 1980s, but I don’t know if he ever saw EBTG in concert there or anywhere.  Paul died in April after a year-long battle with liver cancer.  Shortly after his death, a mutual friend, Mike*, sent a Tweet to Tracey Thorn advising her that “one of her biggest fans” had passed away.  Paul and Mike had met at New York University in the early 1990s where they both studied filmmaking and found they had a mutual love of EBTG.  They couldn’t have been more different: Paul, a Mexican-American born and raised in Texas and Mike, a traditional “WASP” from upstate New York.

A few days after Paul’s death Mike told me he’d dreamed of our old friend.  “It might have been the edible I had last night,” he said via text, “but I felt his presence sitting across from me in the living room.  He was smiling and he said don’t worry, everything is going to be okay.”  Still, Mike lamented, he feels Paul had been cheated out of fulfilling his dreams of being a successful filmmaker/screenwriter.

Paul and I had a strange friendship; almost a love/hate type of interaction.  I supposed that was because we were so much alike in many respects.  Our fathers grew up together in East Dallas.  Paul and I even attended the same parochial grade school in the 1970s (I vaguely remember him) and were altar boys at the accompanying Catholic church.  We shared a love of good food and good cinema.  As fraught as our friendship could be at times, I still miss him and his quirky nature.

Tracey Thorn’s reply to Mike* back in April

I miss a lot of aspects of my life.  But isn’t that what happens to us as we get older?  With more years behind than ahead of us, we sort through the intricacies and chaos of our lives and wonder how we managed to make it this far.

I miss the gatherings my parents and I used to have at this house.  There often wasn’t a particular reason.  Third Saturday of the month?  Good enough!  Family, friends and neighbors would convene upon this simple home and have the best time imaginable.  We had food – real food!  Not just chips and dips.  People often brought dishes out of courtesy, but everyone knew they could actually have a meal.  Ours became the fun house; where people could gather and always feel they were loved and appreciated.

I miss Sunday lunches with my parents.  It was always a special occasion – even when I moved back here in 2007.  We talked about anything and everything.  Like music, food helps people bond.

I miss the 1990s and the excitement of heading into a new century and a new millennium.  In some ways I miss the apartment I moved into in May of 1991; a relatively small one bedroom/one bath abode.  For the first time in my life, I was truly on my own.  I miss happy hours with colleagues at the bank where I worked in Dallas at the time.  I still relish the period from 1996 to the spring of 2001, when most everything in my life seemed to go right.  I know I can never go back (past perfect is only possible in grammar), but I wish I could recapture that feeling of freedom and happiness.  I miss my blue and white lava lamp.

I miss the German shepherd, Josh, my parents and I had from 1973 to 1985.  When we moved to this house in suburban Dallas in 1972, my parents had promised they’d get me a dog.  Somehow I’d become enamored with German shepherds.  My mother had a phobia of big dogs.  As a child in México City, she’d seen a man attacked by a Doberman.  But she swallowed her fears for my sake.  Early on I noticed his eyes seemed to be tri-colored: mostly yellow-gold, but also green and blue.  We didn’t realize how big he was, until we brought him inside the house.  We would bring him in during the torrid Texas summers and (in his later years) during the occasional harsh winters.  Putting him to sleep on Easter Saturday 1985 was one of the most traumatic experiences we ever endured.  It’s not that we expected him to live forever, of course; we just never prepared ourselves for the end.

I miss my last dog, a miniature schnauzer I adopted from a former friend and roommate and named Wolfgang.  I loved the sound of his breathing at night, as he slept.  It remains one of the most soothing sounds I’ve ever heard in my life.  My parents also fell in love with him, after I moved back here in 2007.  My father especially developed a deeply personal relationship with Wolfgang.  I realized how strong that connection was on the day my father died in June of 2016, when the lights flickered, and Wolfgang ambled down the hall.  He stood before my parents’ closed bedroom door and turned to me.  I knew my father was gone.  Wolfgang died less than five months after my father did.  I still maintain my father returned and got him.

I miss my father, George De La Garza, Sr.  I love and miss my mother and everyone I’ve ever known and lost, but I miss my father the most.  We had a unique bond that couldn’t be matched by anything or anyone.  In my worst moments, I often wish he’d come back to get me.  But then, all the plans I’ve made for myself wouldn’t come to fruition.  And when I call to him and get no response, I realize it’s just not my time.  I know.  We could communicate without words.

My father and me, Christmas Eve 1992

So I continue and recollect the best moments of my past years and look forward to what I have left.  Still, I’m always missing someone or something.

We all miss someone or something from our lives.  Who or what do you miss?

*Name changed.

Image: Aeviternitas

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Still in Rhythm

It’s been 30 years since the group SNAP! released their signature song “Rhythm is a Dancer”.  It remains one of my favorite tunes and was a favorite of one of my closest friends, Daniel, who died of AIDS in 1993.  Another close friend, Paul (who died this past April), also liked it.  It’s so emblematic of the 1990s.

Looking back – as I have the tendency to do – things were pretty good for me in 1992; a time before cell phones and personal computers were common and when the future seemed wide open, as the world moved closer to the new millennium.

My sentimentality may be getting the best of me now, as I’ve been going through some times these past few months.  Still, music always has a way of soothing the troubled mind.

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