20160927

The Fantasy of Violence

A few weeks ago, I was jumped in Baltimore.

I had a few beers earlier, but was already close enough to sober to recognize that I had been followed for a few blocks.

I was also sober enough to recognize that getting into random street fights with civilian children is not something I should be actively seeking out.

Now, this line of thought is, in my opinion, completely valid.

While I couldn't tell you what race they were, they way they moved and their build suggested they couldn't be old than 18. Most of the self-defense I know is based around re-directing force and trapping limbs. On hard pavement, executed by anything other than an expert, what I know and have practiced can kill even without my meaning too.

I was about a block (or so, maybe 200 meters at most) from the Ottobar, an establishment where I know most of the security staff and they know me. I was able to sprint about 10 meters before they caught up with me and proceeded to prove that were excellent at harming unarmed people who had no intention of doing them harm.

It is also of note that had it not been for another citizen of Baltimore running them off and scraping me off the pavement, I could very well be dead. Or equally bad: one or both of them could be.

My frustration and anger at the event is astonishingly high.

It starts with my decision to attempt an escape, which I think is not only valid and humane, but understands my place in the social landscape. I am not just a guy in the social context. I am An Iraq Veteran (TM).

This is important, because my actions will reflect upon every Iraq War Veteran (TM) regardless of who they are or where they are from. Many thoughts of headlines ran through my head as I walked.

The only way this business wouldn't result in another "Crazy Veteran" headline was if I escaped.

Slowly but surely, I am healing with a lot of emotional support from my fiancee and friend, and some financial support from a GoFundMe that a friend of mine basically bullied me into starting otherwise he would pay any and all medical bills himself out of his life savings.

It's strange to think about the missing pieces. One moment I was sprinting, the next I was on the ground with my fellow citizen helping me. Other citizens have not responded so well.

Broadly speaking, people have very, very weird ideas about violence.

I understand violence in one capacity, sadly, because it often took the form of communication between me and the adults in my life when I was a child. This is not acceptable behavior. I know that. However, there are other contexts where violence is completely acceptable and maybe even the right thing to do.

That said, even if it is the right thing to do, a lot people get this idea that if you just "know what you are doing," everything will be fine.

This assumes that you are in amazing shape. I am no slouch, but the stamina required to do battle with another human being hand-to-hand for more than five minutes at a stretch is beyond me and 90% of the population. Second, a lot of the super-cool Mixed Martial Arts style fighting you see today on the TV, if executed properly outside of the Octagon or a fictional world, will permanently cripple or kill.

That limit on average or above average stamina, coupled with the potential to straight up die is why people who run around assaulting random people travel in at least a group of two. It is also why the military discourages its members from ever acting alone is most capacities; after I would have been exhausted actively battling one, the other stabs me or shoots me or whatever.

That was among the many thoughts that swirled in my head just before everything went south.

Thankfully, neither of them was armed, but the did put a nasty hurt on me that required stitches on the inside of my face and a debriding of a superficial wound on my hip in addition to a broken collar bone.

After all was said and done, of course, people thought I should start carrying a gun. Because apparently, with firearm and a time machine, I could go back in time and prevent myself from being mugged. Which is obviously a bad idea because it would cause a paradox.

But the anger is very much there, like it or not. Part of me wishes for some sort of comeuppance for them, but to be perfectly honest, wishing for that is a fool's errand.

I have sincere concerns, however, about the next person who dares attempt to even look at me funny next time.


20160118

Why It Might Be Okay if Finn is a Calrissian If They Do It Right

(Disclosure: Spoilers will be discussed in great detail and/or at length)


A mild controversy swirled across my social media portals a few days ago when it was suggested Finn from Star Wars: The Force Awakens may be a Calrissian. This was coupled with wild speculation as to the origins of Rey, a character of such focus and capability that she was accused of being a Mary Sue, an easily refuted point, to be sure.

Now, the most obvious issue to come up was that it's kinda racist to say that because a character is "black" they must be related to the only one of the only other black characters in the fictional Universe. This is true in the real world; it's beyond ignorant to assume that everyone who looks remotely similar is related.

I mean, no family resemblance, except
looking damned good with draped clothing
But when we think about Star Wars as a concept and coherent universe? With a massive family narrative about legacy and its impact on a galactic level? Finn should be a Calrissian, and there are quite a few reasons why.

First of all, if we consider all seven movies as a coherent timeline, Episodes I-III are more or less the Star Wars galaxy timelines pre-World War I era. An age of prosperity, but more importantly, complacency, sets the stage for a massive conflict that would drastically alter the political landscape of the galaxy if not the local group of galaxies.

Then, we have our World War I, Episodes IV-VI. For many members of galactic society? This would be the conflict where they would have to pick a side, after so many people complacently let the galaxy slide into a totalitarian regime. Attempts to stay neutral, such as Solo and Calrissian attempted to do for as long a possible, are a fools errand.

If the way Lando Calrissian basically had his entire business confiscated by Darth Vader under some sort Imperial eminent domain or civil forfeiture is any indicator, the Empire's legal and military reach is well beyond anything reasonable. Calrissian's  utilitarian decisions to trade Han Solo to secure the jobs and lives of everyone on his gas mining station could not have been easy. However, when Vader constantly changed his terms with Calrissian, the gambler turned entrepreneur realized the mistake he made, and decided at least initially, to undermine Vader's immediate plans.

Now,  Cloud City's population is estimated in the millions, and all those people had to be evacuated the station and just go where? Do what? Every person in that station gives us a variable for at least becoming a Rebel or an Imperial. Out of a sense of duty or revenge or both, Calrissian threw in with the Rebellion and eventually became one of the most obvious heroes of the rebellion.

Thus, the name Calrissian joins the Solos, the Skywalkers, the Antilles, the Ackbars and quite a few others among the famous names of a fledgling government.

Already uses a different kind of elegant weapon from
a more civilized age. 
However, the head was merely cut off the Empire, and countless resources, commanders and formations are scattered throughout the galaxy. In the context of Episode VII? The First Order is the Nazi Germany incarnation of the Empire. They are nastier, uglier and do not negotiate with their enemies.

The Starkiller base, as a deterrent weapon, would have been incredible. One demonstration on a lesser solar system would have made the point, but that's not how the First Order works. Their goal is annihilation of all who have, do or would oppose them.

But The First Orders isn't merely brutal, there are also doubley sinister in their strategy. Those famous names? The Skywalkers? The Solos? The Calrissians? Their children are targets.

First, Benjamin Solo turns to the Dark Side. Then? Lando and his wife's bouncing baby boy disappears. Someone, someone where, is trying to destroy the enemy before they are even old enough to know they are an enemy.

Whoever Rey's parents were, they knew that a Solo and then a Calrissian disappearing was in no way a coincidence. The Galaxy is entirely too big. Not knowing exactly who or where the danger would come from, they had to spirit her away and hope that the less than reputable Unkar Plutt would, for whatever money or promise they could give, mind their daughter long enough for them to either secure a definitive victory or die trying.
Oh look, a fucking asshole and his asshole friends
and his asshole army and his asshole weapon. 



20150106

Starve Less: A Personal History of Trying to Make Art (and Not Make Art)

I've been trying to draw more, but I'm trying to also never buy art supplies again.

I learned at a junior art college that art supplies were expensive. Entirely too often, it was a choice between lunch and art supplies. Eight hour studio classes blurred into shaking hands and hunger pains.

Kinda gay for Bagley Spider-Man.
It didn't help that I liked to work big, at least two feet by two feet at minimum. This was probably a side effect of acute malnutrition: my hands would shake too much to work small. It looked like Egon Schiele or Gustav Klimt had too much coffee and no talent.

Seriously, how can you not love Buscema? 
There was another reason I liked my lines to look like thick pieces of metal, though: I must have checked out How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way one hundred times from the Reisterstown Public Library.

Later, Mark Bagley's sharply drawn, ultra-athletic Spider-Man, with the same thick lines, but now built like he was a track running, weight lifting, aerial ballet dancer.

Very soon into art school, definitely looking like Bagley's Spider-Man had starved himself for a month, I realized that I couldn't do it anymore. I was tired all the time and hungry all the time and I could barely focus. When I got a job working construction and could eat more than once every two days, I kept drawing, but it quickly became clear that even when making a decent wage, I wouldn't be able to make rent and be an artist even on the side.

I had spent so much time in a fugue state of hunger to create that I didn't even believe I was naturally an artist. I thought I had to be nearly starving to create, like an alcoholic or a drug addict that had to get high to create. I was hoping I was done with it.

I gave up doing art even more, for money.  I limited myself to a few sketch pads and never opened my art case. It was a sacrifice, though. Art for me, the best things I ever do, always involve something personal. Usually dream or an idea or a thought that would just not go away.

30 second gesture
Like an insect bite, the itch won't stop until I drew it. And the itch would make me angry because I didn't want to be the person that did art anymore.

I think my friends noticed this and they got together and bought me a easel large enough for even a two foot by three foot canvas.

It's among the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received. It was something I truly needed but wouldn't admit to even wanting. The next year they would get me my first digital tablet. Later, I would pass it along to struggling artist friend who was encountering the same roadblocks I was. I couldn't not help them.

I used the easel when I ever could, but money was money and the less I had the less I painted. I completed about four pieces.

But I was still fighting it. I wanted nothing to do with art. So I enlisted in the Army.

I drew very little for a long time.

Sir Darius Rope, third draft
Those four pieces ended up at my father's house. About two after I got back from a military tour, my father died, and I would throw them away and I promise myself I'd never paint again. My father had worked himself hard his entire life to create a place where I could become an artist.

I was ashamed. Even as he was proud of me for joining the military, I felt like it was a plan B to him. It sort of was to me, too. However, the art world was so subjective, and the military was so objective that I was able to claim a kind of outsider status in both communities. And the paintings looked awful to me. No depth, worthless junk from an amateur that had no business holding a brush.

Bird Rider, fourth draft
Soon after, in a fit of rage, my sister would burn the easel after leaving it out in the spring rain for a week to prove that I was not supposed to keep any of my things in that house. The point was made. I was not supposed to make physical art. It clearly made people hate me. This is not a logical conclusion, it is clearly an emotional one. But emotional conclusions are part of what art is and also part of what it does.

But the itch was still there.

I became a sort of patron of the arts, but I still couldn't afford to buy any. Instead I gave away all my text books to people who wanted to learn how to draw or paint or what have you. I doodled and sketched a lot.

Another thoughtful gift would find its way into my hands, now a much larger Wacom tablet. Initially, I found myself just doodling. Gestures. Line drawings. I started using photo-references more.

I think the strangest part is translating everything I learned in art school, every technique and style and method, into a weird new medium. The cross hatching, the chiaroscuro, texture, light and line all had to be re-worked to work with these new tools. It's like a baseball player expecting to just be able to play a baseball video game and finding out everything is wrong. You don't swing a bat, you push a button. Blending colors to create light and shadow is a whole other process and that requires you accept completely different limitations than you would with paper or canvas with charcoal or paint.

So much time and it STILL doesn't look like a cylinder...


I go to a paper drawing class called Dr. Sketchy's to stay sharp. I tend to give away most of my drawings to the models, due to mild a superstition about keeping them.

I don't view myself as an artist. I probably never will again. I draw because I have to. Because there are things in my brain that I need to show people so maybe they'll understand me better. Maybe they'll see something that helps them. Maybe they'll see they can try it too. Hopefully it will help someone.

20141216

Six MORE Things White People Need To Stop Doing.

Well, the good news there is a dialogue that has been opened like the Grand Canyon in regards to race in America. Awesome! However, the internet proves that everything has a dark side.

So, once again, white folks, here we are, with me as your guide to how not to act like a fucking cracker. That first post was more the moderates who weren't sure. This one is more for my white friends who – while I love and respect them – are digging in like an Alabama Tick, the most tenacious of Ticks, to ensure that we all know that they think black people are wrong to demand equal treatment by law enforcement.

As with the previous post, if you are not a white person who enjoys the pleasures and buffers of white privilege, by all means, skip this article.

6. Stop Acting Like Guns Are Going to Fix Everything. 

This could be the dumbest thing you can do. You assume that if only these black people could wield a deadly arsenal then they would surely be able to shoot these corrupt police before they made the fatal decision to end their life.

It's dumb for two reasons: who was talking about guns? "This child is dead!" and your knee jerk response is "what about guns, won't those help?" I can tell you, you don't mean guns, you mean your guns. Your first and possibly only concern - in light of the corpse of a child - is only your rights. "Your dead child doesn't trump my rights," has actually been said at one point. Which let's face it, is something people only say on the goddamned internet. If you said to an actual parent of a dead child in a public place, you may get punched until you die. Not saying that should happen, but you will look like a cold-blooded lunatic.

Second? You're defending the right that you use to buy assault weapons that you'll probably never need to defend your home because you're both white and only religious enough to go to church on Easter and Christmas.

To say that wielding a firearm will void the bias against black people – not African Americans, black people it’s about hue, trust me – would suggest that all these unarmed black people were merely at disadvantage of hardware.

That isn’t so, and you know it. You know it because extremely well armed white people have been “taken alive” after killing multiple people, while unarmed black people have been killed for allegedly committing petty crimes.

5. Stop bringing up black on black crime 

Now, I know you’re scrambling for some reason why black people are killed more often than whites for the same crime. In light of hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite, you surely must be foaming at the mouth to prove that this is some how ONLY the fault of black people.

So the first you do is bring up “black on black crime.” To put this in perspective, that’s like saying “Well, the Hatfields and McCoy’s shoot each other all the time, who cares if the cops shoot them, too?” Except the cops probably wouldn't shoot either of those families because they are white.

But you do see the fallacy here if you think about it for… say.. three minutes?

Yes, you do. Using how a civilian population treats each other to justify how police should treat them is utter horse feathers, at least in America, the country we live in. A vast majority of those “black on black” crimes are related to a number of things, yes. But are you going to stand there and tell me that the police are permitted to act like a street gang because… that’s how a street gang acts?

Further, you surely are the first to howl about how "not all cops" while pushing the hashtag #AllLivesMatter. Well, if all lives matter, full stop, then #BlackLivesMatter is just stating a factual component of that statement, isn't it? But that's not what you mean. What you mean is "I don't want to think that black people are devalued by the law or society, because that would make me feel bad."

They make you feel so bad that you will say anything, bring up any incident in a desperate scramble to win the argument.

4. Also? Stop bringing up Waco, TX.

This one sort of threw me for a loop because it’s one of those out of context problems. It's also why I referenced only being just so religious in the first point.

So yes, I will concede the Waco Siege was massive misstep that didn't need to happen the way it did. However, the MOVE movement involved black people and police department of Philadelphia, and no one is bringing that up. No one is saying that dead children are not a massive misstep on behalf of a government body, but a bunch of white people? Oh, now you care about justice.

So once again, you bring up the white examples of epic government failure without considering how badly the government has failed black people. That's not justice.

Like some kind of hipster of government mistrust, you claim to have mistrusted the government first because of Waco, TX. But MOVE happened in 1985. Women and children were also burned to death in a siege, this time within an urban area in Philadelphia.

That’s the problem, you are acting like “the government is not to be trusted” is some sort of radical truth you came to before black people did and now that black people seemingly only just now figured it out, you get on a high horse and say "I told you so!" with bullhorn, because you'd rather be right than compassionate.

But black people have never been able to trust the government and have always had to demand equality. And when they do so you have the brass balls to act like it's somehow unfair that they want that equality.

3. Don't act like Justice for black Americans is "a double standard." 

This one would be hilarious if it weren't so goddamned sad.

The idea that police shouldn't shoot first and ask questions later when it comes black children? That’s not a double standard. The fact that police DO shoot first and ask questions later when it comes to black children? THAT is a double standard. That’s the definition of double standard. And that's not equality. And that's what black people are demading, equality.

As I said in point 5, white people with a goddamned arsenal are taken alive, and black children armed with Skittles ™ and iced tea are shot. That is a double standard.

Now my fellow fish-belly, I know what you’re thinking, “That’s because black on black crime!” You go back to that well again. Except that makes no sense. Because a white man recently waved a gun around children and was taken alive. While a black man selling cigarettes was choked to death. THAT is a double standard.

And if you found the above paragraphs to be redundant, I must tip my hat to you, because for the first time in your life, you might actually be paying attention.

2. Stop acting like you can only vote for one side. 

I was going avoid quoting other people here, but Jon Stewart blew it out the water with "You can truly grieve for every officer who’s been lost in the line of duty in this country, and still be troubled by cases of police overreach. Those two ideas are not mutually exclusive. You can have great regard for law enforcement and still want them to be held to high standards."

In the divisive political discourse of America, where everything is needlessly politicized, people are getting the impression that they must choose a side in situations that are much more nuanced. I'm not saying you have to believe everything from one side or the other and I'm certainly not saying all police are gun toting lunatics hell bent on murder (though, the ones that are protected to an absurd degree) or that all black people are saints or that all white people are evil. I'm saying a combination of many different factors leads to a disproportionate number of deaths of black Americans and that we can and should do something about it.

Every factor here can be examined, managed and fixed.

The biggest factor is still police bias, and you need to accept that before you decide to type "WHERE ARE THE PARENTS?!" on your Twitter or complain that #CrimingWhileWhite doesn't fairly represent all white people on Facebook.


1. Stop acting like freedom and justice are in finite supply.

This is key. Freedom and justice are no secreted away in some hidden reservoir of a gated white community to be gently pumped from the aquifers of liberty only to ensure you get to use the n-word with impunity and can own all the guns you want. They are literally created by the government at the behest of the people, specifically at the behest of the people who demanded it.

So you see, either you are demanding "justice for all" - a term you may have heard used from time to time in these United States - or you're supporting justice only for some, probably only the people that look like you.

You've probably noticed this last one is the shortest, because they're not much more to it. You're either supporting your fellow Americans or your sitting on your ass, cleaning your guns and hoping it all blows over before the next Super Bowl.

20141128

Five Things White People Need To Stop Doing

Dear Persons of Color and non-whites in general: You can skip this article. These behaviors, while the result of truly astonishing mental gymnastics, sadly, will be nothing new to you. I reckon you have better things to do with your time that be reminded that white skin apparently gets in the way of basic human empathy. This is my attempt to tell my fellow crackers to stop acting like crackers.

However, if you are a regular user of the narcotic that is white privilege, I must encourage you to read on, because I have observed you fucking up and I would like you to stop it. The first reason, before I get to the rest of this list is this: The concept of whiteness robs EVERYONE of his or her identity. That means you, too. You are not Scandinavian, English, Irish, German, French, Syrian, Afghani, Kenyan, Egyptian, Libyan, Israeli if you are too light-skinned. You’re white. Does that suck? Hurt a little bit? Yeah, it’s like that for non-whites but 350% worse, dig?

 5. Justifying Police Brutality When It’s Convenient to Your Point

This one drives me insane, because every time a police officer or officers unloads an entire magazine into a minority, someone will first say “It’s not about race” and then turn around and post a story about an alleged black criminal who killed a white person with a shrill “this isn't being reported! This is being CENSORED!" which is so often not true it's absurd.

Now, I’m not one of those Luddites who thinks the internet is evil, but I do know you can find pornography based on 8-bit characters and actual 8-bit characters IN pornography in very little time. So it won’t surprise me that you can find a news article - some of which are horrendously re-written to emphasize race - about a black citizen killing a white citizen.

You know the difference don’t you, my lily white friend? Yes, it’s that a black person murdered a white person is not backed by a state entity in the U.S. Further, I do often note that on your bad days you will post a video of some crazy red-neck open-carrying a rifle having his rights verbally questioned by a cop and thus will shrilly declare that “THE POLICE ARE OUT OF CONTROL.”

At least you are right about that, but it actually is all police all the time, not just the ones trying to take your assault rifle with double ammo drums.

4. Saying “Not All”

And when I say “all police,” you will backtrack and say “well, not ALL of them.”

Now, I know quite a few police officers and they’re good people. However, they are the first to admit they compromised by murderous demon people who wear the same uniform. Law enforcement institutions, for reasons I’m not quite clear on, cover for these monsters wearing human faces. So when these institutions cover up for their worst members, they do indeed all become complicit.

Now here's the weird part: at some point before we were all born, police forces became more about sustaining themselves than they were about supporting and protecting the community. Now it's about securing power and money through politics, and that attracts a certain personality type.

The fact is, the cop hassling Whitey McStickofButter in Alabama is the same class of person as Officer ShootAllTheBlacks, but he won’t just dump a clip into a white citizen because the second amendment has way more lobbyists than the thirteenth. If you've never been shot by the police and you are in the White Crayola Crayon to Taupe range of epidermal hue, I have news: you enjoy white privilege and you are probably ignoring it.

3. Ignoring One’s Own Privilege

Ever shop lift? Ever get angry in a public place? Ever commit a felony or even just be a jerk to a law enforcement officer? Well, if you are white and did any of those things or a countless others, you’re probably still alive today because you are white.

There is an incident after incident of black or Latino people being either arrested or just shot for doing things that would get a finger wag and a citation from police. Looking through your pockets in front of your own house can get you shot. Trying to get into your own house can get you arrested. Not shooting someone but firing a warning shot can get your jail time. All if your are black.

To understand your privilege, consider this: when was the last time you asked to condemn the actions of the Ku Klux Klan or Westboro Baptist Church or Ted Bundy or Charles Manson? After all, they are white and your are white, you must have something to say as a white person, right?

And the thing about privilege? It doesn't just keep your safe from persecution from law enforcement agencies that are armed well enough to invade Somalia, it affects the very way you perceive the world.

2. Building a House out of Fundamental Attribution Errors

The Fundamental attribution error is a psychological term that states that you believe yourself to be make decisions rationally and correctly, while everyone else, even when doing the same thing, is utterly selfish and horrible.

You see this all the time, and with riots over race and justice, I see countless white people looking down their nose “why are they destroying their community?” However, when white people do it due to the loss or win of a sports team, oh, that’s just us being us. It’s totally okay.

That’s how white privilege allows you to not see what’s really going on. If your every movement and action must be so calculated as to avoid scaring people because scaring people can be fatal, you are not free. But if you were to fight back against it you’d call yourself a Freedom Fighter as you waved your Don’t Tread on Me flag.

If a black man does it, he’s a thug. If an Arab does it he’s a terrorist. A Latino? An illegal immigrant. Where are all these gun-toting, not recognizing the authority of government types when riot cops bear down on minority communities? They are at home, watching it on the news and acting like they have nothing in common with oppressed people. After all they have their guns.

1. Acting like you are not somehow racist.

Now, this may be similar to number 3, but I’ll level with you, my melanin impaired brother or sister, I am racist. I KNOW I am racist. Being racist as a white person is like genital warts. You may not be showing it today, but you carry it with you all time.

However, like any person afflicted with a disease, that part is not your fault. The part that is your fault is not getting “tested,” not “treating the disease” or even not acknowledging this disease exists. What you must do - and don’t gimme any lip about “I’m not obligated,” trust me, ya are - is to manage and cure this awful plague that gets my fellow Americans murdered in the streets.

 The reason why you have a responsibility – at the minimum – to not be racist is because this is America. Yeah, life’s not fair, yeah you need to be your own person, but racism is you actively making life harder for other people for no goddamned reason.

 Do not point to more obviously racist persons or entities and say “Well, I’m not as racist as that.” That’s not having a standard, that’s making an excuse. Being not as racist as the Ku Klux Klan isn’t an achievement, it’s merely the average that’s why they are called “extremists.”

20141022

An Article About Millennials.

This generation get off my lawn. Get off my lawn get off my lawn, however get of my lawn. Get of my lawn because get off my lawn.

World War II get off my lawn get off my lawn. Get off my lawn because Vietnam. Get off my lawn because 1970's. Get off my lawn because video games. Get off my lawn because feminism. Get off my lawn because gay marriage.

Let's be honest get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn. If they want better lives they should get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn.

Finally, it's time these kids too take responsibility and get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn. If they don't get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn get off my lawn.

20131006

Matrimony

I've known Josh (Joshua) for over decade now. I've known Lani (Kilani) for almost a decade.

It was funny to me. . . all the things that were right about it. To start, both of them have names that no one actually uses. Joshua is Josh. Kilani is Lani.

Josh's family is pure New York. The accent, the swagger, the directness. Lani's family is from Every Where Else. She lived in so many states, so her father told me. Both families were gregarious. Over joyed. Suddenly good at dancing. They all had accents from everywhere, but after years living in Baltimore, the bride and groom had mostly lost theirs. Their accent was between them. That secret language of people in love. You know it when you see it.

It was like meeting the bride and groom for the first time, when their families were there.

Now I understood.

Family is the DVD commentary on the movie of your life.

In roughly an hour, I suddenly understood these two people better than I ever did. Initially, I was pleased in abstract "Happy for you," kind of way. Weddings are good. They make people happy. Therefore, I should be happy about this thing. Then? After all the new information, it became this giddy elation. It was like seeing the end of war, it was like the discovery of new star. What was arcane ritual on paper became joyous celebration. What was something that felt like mere social obligation became necessary as breath.

It was a beautiful ceremony. Probably because before it, there were so many things in the way.

Before we went to dance hall that used to be a church, in the hotel room, Josh said that after the all the obstacles of bureaucracy and craziness in the District of Columbia where he lives, nothing else could really stand in their way.

And then there we all were. All the fears and anxieties of the day to day faded away, like mist in sunlight. Death and Taxes seemed finite. Then we had just the facts. The earth revolves around the sun. The moon revolves around the earth. And Josh and Lani love each other.