In the mid-’90s, I had a relative visit me at my home in Raleigh, N.C. on her way up to Washington D.C. We’d known for years that she was gay. But on that occasion, she started dropping hints to me regarding her gender.

At the time I reacted with shock, though I did not show this person such. But I could not help but imagine scenes from Jerry Springer and Rocky Horror. It skeeved me out. I was skeeved.

Today, that person is my uncle.

I witnessed his transition and got to know a bunch of other people in his shoes, too. I got to the point where I got it. Or so I thought. But I still expected gender to be binary.

Later, I met other folks who disabused me of that notion as well; people who approached gender as a fluid notion. I have a long time been a person who says “yes sir” and “yes ma’am,” a habit established as a news editor in rural communities in North Carolina. I realized I was gendering people, so now that courtesy is exercised in fewer situations than before.

That’s where I’ve arrived since the mid-’90s, from feeling skeeved out because someone I cared about even remotely hinted that they felt a different gender identification to now, when I consider that, in the complex human animal, why is it difficult to imagine that something as basically identifying as gender could be a bit more complex than a light switch?

So I watched AM Joy on MSNBC Saturday with keen interest. Joy Reid, the show’s host, has come under fire off late for some seemingly hurtful blog posts in the distant past, posts that don’t always reflect the greatest acceptance of the LBGTQ community. She went so far, she said, as to hire an IT security analyst to be sure she hadn’t been hacked, and she admitted she could not prove as such. It is a good segment to watch, as she had assembled a panel of various leaders in that community and invited them to savage her. They were unanimously supportive, actually.

But I think it goes to show you how far we have come on this, not as far as we can go, but: We live in an America where a certain “F” word has been relegated to the tiny pile of words we consider so offensive they should not even be uttered when one is alone at 3 a.m. We live in an America where equality in marriage is beginning to feel as inevitable as some of us once proclaimed. As one of Reid’s panelists said, it’s not that individuals have moved. Our society has moved. Wholly. Finally. And resolutely.

This past week, my Mom and I thought about her Mom on what would have been her 94th birthday. For many years, my grandmother, who was remarkably progressive for the most part, was a resolute homophobe. I remember one time in a checkout line with her, I picked up a magazine that had Ellen DeGeneris’ photograph on the cover. The scorn she registered for that person was downright tactile. It was as if she’d witnessed her grandson pick up a dead bird. Ellen, she told me, was disgusting.

But even Mrs. Gwynn had come around by the time she left us. Mostly because of the reason many of us do: So-and-so’s son or daughter is. Look. If you are above a certain age and you HAVEN’T “evolved” on what you think or even how you speak about people in the LGBTQ community, shame on yinz. I did. Preznit Obama did. Even my grandma did. It stands to reason that AM Joy Ann Reid has done a bit of that, too.


Let me get this straight. The Preznit of these Untied States just repeated the argument–an argument he has made previously–in public, in front of television cameras, that the Attorney General of these Untied States should have given him warning before accepting the job that he would recuse himself from matters relating to Russia; that HAD TRUMP KNOWN BEFORE that Sessions’ actions would lead to the appointment of a special prosecutor, he would not have hired him in the first place? This is his * defense * ? This is his defense * against charges that he has obstructed justice * ?

Brandi Carlile and Tune-Yards

It was about 3 a.m. that I learned of the existence of Brandi Carlile.

I hadn’t yet heard her segment on The Howard Stern Show. I knew it had aired because many Stern “fans” in my social media stream were bitching about it. Bitchy group, Stern fans. So I was having some trouble getting to sleepyland, and often when this happens, I put on the Stern show. They were playing the last half of her appearance in the studio. I was disappointed not to get to hear the entire segment, but I did get to hear Carlile and her “twins” perform her song “The Joke.”

This is a tremendous performer, and she has written a truly touching song. Her story of how she came to pen the song was even moreso: She met a son of her friend’s, and he was at that age, about 13, where he just didn’t feel comfortable in his own skin, and she noticed he had a habit of tugging on his big white t-shirt, as if he was hiding in it. And she felt herself wanting to call him to offer reassurances about life and how it would improve.

She wrote a song instead.

Here’s NPR’s take on it, and it includes a live performance of “The Joke.” But, hey, a warning: Don’t listen to it if you’re not feeling like having your chin and lip quiver a little.

Then, if you’re like me, you’ll wash that down with a little Tune-Yards.

What do you mean, who? I haven’t gushed all over you yet about Merrill Garbus and Nate Brenner?

The article referenced (in the Financial Times, of all places) immediately compares Tune-Yards to Talking Heads, which is an apt comparison.

But. To really dig the Yard-Tunes, you must see the live performance. It’s really something. Got an hour 20 to kill?

How about a half hour?

Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda Clasica, 2015

Let’s talk Bonarda grapes.

As WineFolly.com announced in November 2016, “Bonarda is a stealthy red wine option from Argentina that we think is going to make a big splash in the coming years.”

Indeed. If the Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda Clasica, 2015 is a typical specimen of this genre of vino, it is well worth seeking out. This wine is the reason you drink red wine; it marches down the center of your tongue, offers you a taste from your palette to your scalp, then leaves you with a pleasant, floating finish, which is indicated in the flavor profile at the previously cited article: “Bonarda wines are at first very fruity on the nose, with notes of black cherry compote, fresh blueberry, and plum.”

I would register its balance between dry and sweet as right on the money, and it has a tangy quality. This is my new favorite wine. It is delicious.

I am having it tonight with smothered oxtail on risotto.

This wine was $7.99 at Marketplace Liquor in Henrietta, N.Y.