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Classic Psrhea: Not Ready For Prime Time

A reprint from the groundbreaking Psrhea Magazine literary website.
This article saw first published in April 1997.

Not Ready For
Prime Time

Makes Me Wanna Hollar
by Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

Have you ever watched premium cable television in the wee hours of the morning – that time of the day when most sane people are either asleep or burning the candle on both ends while still out partying? The 1:00 AM – 6:00 AM range on cable is usually reserved for those B-movie straight-to-video schlock flicks with loads of blood flying, body bags and skin slapping featuring second- and third-rate “stars” such as Shannon Tweed, Andrew Stevens, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock, Corey Haim, and Shannon Whirry. Every now and then, however, the premium cable channels will broadcast a rare underground movie or cult independent film that has received a modicum of critical acclaim but is deemed to not have the drawing power to sustain an audience through a prime viewing spot.

Early one weekday morning recently I was channel-surfing through the four main premium channels (HBO, Showtime, Cinemax and The Movie Channel). On three of them was the aforementioned “schlock flicks” with no limits on the blood flying, bodies slapping and sweat slinging. On one of them, though, was a three-year-old independent film called “Bar Girls.” The film was an offbeat drama with a virtually all-women cast that examined the topsy-turvy romances that befell gay female denizens of a local lesbian tavern. While the movie was not as raunchy and in-your-face as would be expected at that time of day, it did take a moderately no-holds-barred look at emotional, mental, spiritual, and – dare I say it – physical concerns and anxieties of its gay female subjects. The characters held nothing back in their dialogue and there quite a few intimate scenes between women.
Lesbian angst.

I had heard about “Bar Girls” when it was first released in 1994. Needless to say, because it was a small independent film with no major distributor, the film was distributed in limited release to small art-house theaters. But it opened to generally good reviews; I had not recalled any film critic disliking the film. So having a familiarity with the film, I decided to delay going to work and watch.

It was while watching one of “Bar Girls” all-female love scenes that I realized why this film had been relegated to the early-morning hours. Despite how well this movie was made, the perceived “delicate nature” of the subject matter made it “unsuitable” for mass consumption during a time when a majority of the populace may have had access to it. This puritan society is simply not ready to deal with the affairs, interests, and concerns of a subsection of the population which the mainstream, while outwardly giving lip service to their own open-mindedness, considers morally corrupt. Ellen DeGeneres notwithstanding, as long as this traditional society and its institutions don’t have to acknowledge that homosexuals have values, customs, beliefs and rights that are just as worthy of exercising as anybody else’s, then keeping homosexuality “out of sight and out of mind” becomes instinctive to the greater society.

In essence, what I’m saying is that broadcasting “Bar Girls” at a time when it is virtually guaranteed to draw the fewest viewers is a form of keeping it “in the closet…”

Invisible.


The city of Huntington Beach, California, is proud of its record as a place that is free of the problem of homelessness. The city government never ceases to make the claim that there are no homeless “people” aimlessly wandering the streets and that the city, ever so clean and spotless, has not needed to address a problem that in this community does not exist. A town like Huntington Beach, in the middle of the urban problems that plague surrounding southern California, is nothing short of miraculous.

Or surreal, when you consider what’s going on there. What is left unsaid here is an implied yet very well hidden policy which is practiced by the Huntington Beach Police. It seems that when a police officer happens upon a homeless person within the city limits, said person is picked up and transported to the city of Costa Mesa on the southeast border of Huntington Beach and dropped off.

Costa Mesa is known around southern California as having a somewhat more serious homeless problem than its neighbors. Now we know why.

This program of denial allows Huntington Beach to make the unsubstantiated claim that it does. You see, they’ve found a simple way of pushing the problem out of people’s consciousness – get rid of it and make it somebody else’s problem. Somehow I have to believe that the city government knows – and probably quietly signed off on it. The police couldn’t have come up with this idea on their own – as we’ve seen, southern California cops just aren’t that clever.

So no, I guess there is no homeless “problem” in Huntington Beach, but there sure as hell is a problem with the “solution”…

Invisible.

The Invisible Man is neither a movie creation nor Claude Rains. He was first publicly revealed through Ralph Ellison’s now-famous novel. He most recently was among the 600,000+ other obviously-invisible men that the Washington, DC Park Services failed to count during the Million-Man March.

Copyright 1996 Accurate Letters Enterprises/Psrhea Magazine

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Classic Psrhea: Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

 

This is the first in a series of reprints from the groundbreaking Psrhea Magazine literary website. This article saw first published in August 1996.

Out Of Sight,
Out Of Mind

Makes Me Wanna Hollar
by Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

I was sitting outside the television station where I work, under a tree trying to shade myself from an oppressive early spring heatwave one afternoon. Cooling off on the lawn near the side door of the station, I noticed two co-workers walk out having a very quiet conversation. Both of them white, one female, they stole a quick glance at me and continued their conversation, oblivious to my presence. I could overhear them talking about an upcoming studio production they were planning, and the conversation turned to who they were considering getting to direct.

After bantering about a few names they would ask, my name was mentioned by the male. The female replied to her co-producer, “I think we can ask *&^%$#@ now if he’ll do it. I seem to recall seeing him here somewhere.” She and her partner then proceeded to glance around for me, remembering that I was outside the building yet not remembering where they had seen me just a few short moments before, and absolutely unconscious of the fact that I was right under they’re noses.

I waited a few precious seconds, while they just totally overlooked my plane of existence, before I spoke up. Taken aback by my sudden appearance, the male exclaimed, “Oh, *&^%$#@, there you are.”

Hide in plain sight – I am The Invisible Man

…But I didn’t just get this way because of a lab experiment gone awry. I’ve been this way all of my life. I just wasn’t acknowledged until Ralph Ellison discovered me and gave countless others like me a life. I call it Invisible Man Syndrome – IMS for short. It is an affliction particularly characteristic to North America…

…You know us, the ones brought here centuries ago against our will, then cast aside as so much rubbish when we demanded recognition as human beings, with the right to participate in this society just like anybody else. Well, that is when we ceased to exist. Don’t acknowledge the problem and there is no problem —

Out of sight, out of mind.

But it’s not just me and people like me. Ralph Ellison just scratched the tip of the iceberg when he discovered that it was sometimes convenient for society to think of me and people like me as invisible. Take a look around, though, and you discover that there are several subsections of the population who are not thought of.

Ever notice how it is that you never really hear about Native Americans much any more. This society has succeeded in putting them on reservations and isolating them from the rest of the world. So much so that Native Americans have the highest mortality rate of any group of people on this continent.

Did you know that? I’ll bet not…

Out of sight, out of mind.

Ever notice how people avert their eyes when they see a homeless person, or ignore them when they ask for a little change? We then demand from our elected officials that we “do something about the homeless.” Not “something about the problem of homelessness.” We demand that laws be passed deterring the homeless from soliciting us, hoping that they will just go away…

Out of sight, out of mind.

Ever notice how a neighborhood watch program will take a stand to drive the neighborhood crack house out of business, oblivious to the fact that the crack house has not been put out of business, they’ve just been driven into another neighborhood?…

Out of sight, out of mind.

Same with prostitution. You never really get rid of it, but the police crack down on where they do business, and get enough of them off the streets long enough for a big convention to take place in the city. Then, as soon as said convention ends, back on the streets go the ladies of the evening…

Out of sight, out of mind.

Recently, the “problem of the moment” has been homosexuality, same-sex marriages, and gays in the military. This would not have been a problem if those that think this is a problem had not been so concerned about what we do with our orgasms. Having concerned themselves with such high-minded things, however, they want to legislate them out of existence, claiming things “were so much better when they were in the closet…”

Out of sight, out of mind.

When voicing this to a group of lunchtime friends once, a nearby eavesdropper — whom I’d never seen before, will never see again, and was neither directly nor indirectly a part of the conversation — felt it his “patriotic duty” to straighten me out by rudely interrupting my conversation with: “You know, you could be living someplace else like Iran or North Korea. You wouldn’t have the right to say any of this stuff. Is this the greatest country in the world?”

Perturbed, I looked up at the interloper and replied, “You know, this probably is, but that’s just like being the best player on the Los Angeles Clippers. When was the last time anybody mistook him for any good?”

* The title is borrowed from the book Makes Me Wanna Holler, authored by Nathan McCall of the Washington Post. We give credit where credit is due, and we certainly think that Mr. McCall’s book title certainly conveys how the author of this article feels about his subject matter.

Makes Me Wanna Holler is a regular feature of Pshrea, penned by a guest writer each month. The identity of the Invisible Man of the month will remain just that.

Copyright 1996 Accurate Letters Enterprises/Psrhea Magazine

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Brexit vs Trump vs Clinton

First off, I am a law abiding, legal resident of the United States of America – and have been for almost 30 years – but I did not have the right to vote yesterday where Donald J. Trump was elected to be the 45th President.

Secondly, I work in the technology sector and I work with a lot of data so in many ways, with what happened recently in my home country and the ways that I interpret and translate data on a daily basis, I more than anyone should have seen this coming. Now that I have started to look at the polling data from the yesterday and compare it to that of the Brexit vote earlier in the year, the parallels are ominous.

Urban vs Rural

Just as in the UK referendum where the large metropolitan areas voted to remain in the European Union, urban areas voted for Hillary Clinton while rural areas voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, who railed against the “elite establishment” on behalf of the “down-trodden everyman” at every rally.

This image shows the Brexit results, with London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Cardiff (as well as all of Scotland) voting to stay in the EU:

Brexit vs Trump vs Clinton: Brexit Results
Brexit Results

Compare this to the election results from the state of Texas – almost everyone’s idea of a traditional Republican stronghold – and you see an eerily similar layout. While Trump took the state (and its 38 electoral votes) with 52.6% of the vote, you can clearly see in the image below that Clinton took all the major urban areas of Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and El Paso.

Brexit vs Trump vs Clinton: Texas results from the 11/2016 election
Texas results from the 11/2016 election

The exact same pattern emerged in New York, where Clinton took the electoral votes, with this time the combined New York City, Syracuse, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo urban areas outweighing the pro-Trump rural areas.

Brexit vs Trump vs Clinton: New York voting results from 11/2016
New York voting results from 11/2016

Young vs Old

This election broke the hearts of a generation of American voters. Just as young Brits had voted overwhelmingly in favor of remaining in the EU so too had young Americans rallied first behind Bernie Saunders, but then behind Hillary Clinton against the misogynist, anti-LBGTQ, anti-immigration platform of Trump.

Bresit vs Trump:  Brexit results by age
Brexit vs Trump vs Clinton: Brexit results by age
Brexit vs Trump vs Clinton: Election 2016 results by age
Brexit vs Trump: Election 2016 results by age

White vs Not

Finally more than anything, Trump rode to victory on the backs of white males whipped up into a frenzy by his xenophobic rhetoric. The BBC reported that of the 250 US counties with the highest white population, 249 of them voted Republican with Trump taking at least 58% of the overall white vote, perhaps as much as 70% according to USA Today. There are no polling numbers for the Brexit referendum with regards to race but a telling fact is that the five areas with the highest percentage of “leave” votes were all in the east Midlands where the population is overwhelmingly white but has also seen some of the largest influxes of Eastern European refugees seeking employment.

What Does It Mean?

Months after the likes of UKIP fearmonger Nigel Farage declared, “The the dawn is breaking on an independent nation”, the British government has yet to trigger Article 50 and begin formal talks to leave the European Union. Just last week the UK High Court ruled that Parliament must vote on whether to begin the process, further delaying the timetable.

Will this be the same fate awaiting President Donald Trump’s aggressive, nationalist policies that he pledged to begin upon entering office? Most probably.

Will they be starting “The Wall” come mid-2017? I highly doubt it.

The man who stated during a televised debate that his opponent should be in jail, thanked her for her service to the country during his acceptance speech. Just as Farage lied through his teeth to sway the UK to leave the EU, Trump was willing to say literally anything to get elected.

Duping millions was easy. Now comes the hard part.

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