It was 44 years ago, almost to the day, when our brave brothers and sisters in the Stonewall Inn decided they’d had enough abuse from the NYPD, and took to this very street with their bottles, beer cans, and bricks. Now the police cordon off the street while we revel in our victory, and keep an eye out for those who may try to do us harm on our day of celebration.
Forty-four years. My mother and father were graduating from high school. My grandfather was, as it happens, driving a paddy-wagon for the NYPD. He was not at Stonewall, as far as I’m aware. Just look what has changed in forty-four years.
I want to congratulate all the couples whose marriages are, as of today, really equal. I want to thank my former colleagues at the ACLU, and my allies at the organizations and law firms who helped to fight this fight. But mostly I want to thank my LGBT elders, the people who came before me, who had it so much harder than I’ve had it. I want to thank those drag queens and fags and dykes who threw bottles and cans and punches, and finally declared on behalf of the whole queer population of America that we had enough. I wonder what it feels like for them, those who are still with us, to see the NYPD protecting us.
I felt a sense of awe tonight every time I heard the name of this case, Windsor v. The United States of America. Edie Windsor is five feet tall, she just turned 84, and she can’t weigh more than the average seventh grader–but she took on a country. And she won.
Richard Matheson is to genre fiction what the Beatles are to music: Every artist working today is influenced by him, even if they don’t realize it. Matheson wrote a bunch of Twilight Zone episodes, including arguably the most famous episode, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, wrote the novel on which I Am Legend and The Omega Man are both based, and wrote a slew of other stories that have been adapted many times and in many different forms.
Matheson’s Born of Man and Woman, his first published short story (when he was 24 years old), remains one of my favorites. I can’t remember how old I was the first time I wrote it, but he’s one of those authors whose work I’ve enjoyed for as long as I can remember.
He died today, aged 87, and leaves behind a family of writers.
In the fall of 2009, I sat in an apartment in Center City Philadelphia with a dozen or so ACLU donors and staff members, and a handful of area Intellectual Property attorneys as ACLU attorney Chris Hansen outlined the organization’s strategy in a new lawsuit challenging the patenting of human genetic material. Earlier that same year, I was with a group of ACLU staff gathered in New York as we learned about a groundbreaking new effort by the organization. For decades, medical treatment and research had been limited by laws granting patent rights to the companies and corporations who isolated and identified human genetic sequences. Experts had long opposed such patent protections, but the ACLU thought they had an answer. We had a coalition of researchers, geneticists, cancer survivors, and health advocates, and we had a strategy to challenge the patents on two genes linked with breast cancer.
The ACLU’s argument, first dreamed up by Hansen and his team, was radical. The IP lawyers gathered in that Philadelphia apartment treated Many had argued that naturally occurring products like genes should not be patented. To grant a patent to the scientist responsible for its identification is like granting a patent on coal to the first man to dig a chunk from a mountain. Patents are meant to protect the invention of a product or process, not to grant proprietary ownership of a natural resource. Many had argued that the first gene patent was an error, made by a patent office who didn’t understand the new science they faced. What no one had ever argued was that the Constitution protects an individual’s right to own the genes in his or her body–that ownership of one’s body was a civil liberty.
Even for the lawyers in the room, it was hard to understand the argument. It was crazy. More than that, it was destructive. In the decades since that first erroneous gene patent, an entire industry had grown up around isolating and patenting genes–corporations had engaged in a race to identify, a race to patent, so that IP law would grant them the exclusive right to experiment, test, and license the genes they found.
…and I would not mind at all a Muppets Game of Thrones. I imagine Fozzy would make a rather smashing Robert Baratheon–and Guy Smiley as the Kingslayer. But who to cast as Tyrion?
I happened to be at the Highline just in time for sunset.
The Watchers in the Dark, a modern Lovecraftian tale, goes live at Jersey Devil Press in one month, on July 3. This image won’t likely accompany that–this is for the e-book version that will be available sometime in September or after. I thought I’d share a little preview–more to come as July 3 gets nearer.
One or two weekends a month, Liz and I spend a couple hours volunteering for City Harvest, distributing free healthy produce to hungry people in New York City. This morning we trekked out to Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn to sling onions for a while. A long trip from Harlem, and a hot day, but it felt good anyway. Somewhere between 400 and 600 families come through the Brooklyn Mobile Market in one day, and each one leaves with 20+ pounds of produce. It takes an awful lot of volunteers to do that in one day.
Today it was white potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage, and apples. There’s a chef on site who prepares a recipe with the ingredients (today, carrot and cabbage slaw) and distributes the recipe. The idea is not just to distribute food, but to change the way people relate to food. The targeted neighborhoods have astonishingly high rates of obesity (as high as 70%) and diabetes, and in many cases it’s partly because healthy food just isn’t easily available elsewhere.
Tonight we’re going to see Alan Cumming in Macbeth. I probably won’t provide photos of that.