Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Senator Murkowski: Please Do the Right Thing and Vote NO on This Disastrous Health Care Bill

Dear Senator Murkowski,

Your constituents know it, and deep down, so do you: Trump Care is a DISASTER for Alaskans.

According to the 6/26/17 report from the Congressional Budget Office, 64,500 Alaskans will lose access to health care under the Senate version of the AHCA, including 17,200 on Medicaid and 47,300 in the individual market. 

That's almost 10% of our population, many of whom voted for you, not that it should matter.

I am fortunate to have good health insurance here in Alaska that is not jeopardized by Trump Care, at least for now. But this battle is not about any one individual. It's about the morals and ethics of letting people whose welfare you are sworn to protect suffer and/or die on your watch as a result of this unconscionable legislation.

It's good that you are reportedly working with Senator Collins of Maine to ensure ongoing funding for Planned Parenthood, and presumably opposing cuts to Medicaid and opioid addiction programs. But it's not enough. Please stay strong and push back full throttle against Trump Care and any attempt to sell out the health of your constituents to tax breaks for millionaires.

I know you are facing outsized pressure given the powerful position you hold, but you work for us, not Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan or other men in Congress, whose only real goal is to kick down Obama's tower of blocks in a childish vendetta that will cost your constituents their lives. 

Please remember people like me: people who voted for you, who have met you in person, who know you are smart and reasonable and ultimately want to do the right thing by the Alaskans who send you to D.C. again and again to do exactly that.

Look to your conscience. Please put our lives ahead of partisan games, make us proud, and join the right side of history. Alaskans--and the whole country--are counting on you.

Libby Bakalar
Juneau, Alaska

Monday, June 26, 2017

The NYT Fashion Section HAS to be Trolling Us With This Story of Millennial Socialites Trying to Contact Leonard Bernstein in a Seance

Full disclosure: I don't believe in ghosts. In fact, I got into a heated debate about the spirit world (or lack thereof) this weekend with two of my oldest and closest friends. 

I think they're both nuts for believing in ghosts, and they both think I'm a stick-in-the-mud cynic who isn't tuned into and open to the right spiritual energy frequency. I'm willing to entertain this possibility, but it would take a pretty dramatic personal experience to change my mind.  

Let the record show that this experience would not be attending a seance in the Dakota on Central Park West, hosted by two 20-something sibling socialites, a millennial Persian princess, and the alleged ghost of Leonard Bernstein.

I'd like to think that even if Leonard Bernstein's ghost were lurking within summoning distance, the musical genius composer of West Side Story would not stoop to appear before a Steinway piano flanked by Toby and Larry Milstein, two rich-to-the-point-of-it-should-be-criminal-but-never-will-be-because-America-is-an-oligarchy-masquerading-as-a-free-market-capitalist-democracy children who are dressed for the occasion in a "striped Fendi halter dress with matching booties and Gucci fur-lined leather slippers with a Club Monaco top."

Toby, 24, took a break from her job as a "business developer for a tech startup that makes interactive photo albums" to let the NYT fashion and style section into her parents' 8-zillion square foot apartment on behalf of its former occupant: a long-dead Broadway legend who almost certainly would find them repellent. Not deterred, Larry, 22, implied that hosting a seance was a great use of everyone's time because surely Leonard Bernstein would appreciate Larry reaching out toward his "vibrations."

Then there was this, which I will just leave here without comment:

The author of the Times piece seemed distinctly unimpressed with the seance, noting that by the end, all the assembled living souls had to show for their efforts in terms of "spirits" was Jack Daniels whisky and the rumbling of the A-Train.

Even though the Milsteins intended this spread as a promotional effort for their "philanthropy" (read: tax-sheltered redistribution of wrongly-acquired wealth) it didn't quite come off that way. These two aren't impressing anyone, living or dead.

As the also-dead Leonard Cohen would say, "everybody knows."


Sunday, June 25, 2017

I Have ALL the Questions for Donna SueMa, Alaska Family Man and Drag Queen

Steve Suewing and I have been social acquaintances for years here in Juneau, running into each other at kids' sports games, birthday parties, and on the streets during the week in our state-worker professional attire.

I've always known that Steve has a drag queen alter-ego--Donna SueMa--and have chatted with him briefly about performing in drag, but didn't get around to seeing him perform until this year's Glitz drag show.

It was epic, and I finally worked up the courage to ask Steve ALL the questions I had long been harboring about Donna SueMa, which he enthusiastically answered and agreed to let me publish on O.H.M.

Q: How did you first get interested in performing in drag? In other words, how did you become a drag queen?

A: I dressed as a woman for parties in college a few times. In 2002, I was in Skagway and up for trying almost anything. A fabulous Queen had an idea for a drag show and was looking for volunteers to perform. What could possibly go wrong? The show was super camp, but I really enjoyed the process of transformation and felt a huge rush from being someone else for a while. I enjoyed the attention from the multiple reactions and those that thought I was courageous for putting myself out there. I did not really think about whether people would wonder how I identified sexually and I really didn't give a damn. I still don't today. If someone wants to label me then so be it. I don't see myself as a drag queen. Yeah I dress in drag and perform, but I feel like I am still trying to earn Queen status. I call myself a Queen in some circles, but still not comfortable enough to use the title all of the time.

Q: What was your first big drag show and how did it go?

A: My coming out of my drag closet was in 2015 at the locals show/competition at Femme Fetale. This was my first "big" show in Juneau. I don't think that people knew I had drag in me and I surprised a lot of people. My make-up was really crazy now that I look back on it. I can also see some progress, which feels good. Glitz 2016 was my first huge show. 600 peeps in Juneau, Alaska is a big deal. I have spoken in front of a crowd this big, but worrying about a bulge, my tights slipping down, or my wig falling off is a whole different deal. I did trip down the stage, but saved myself. That was super scary for a moment.

Q:  How do you "identify" along the LGBTQ gender/sexuality spectrum?

I don't identify. Fact: I am married to a woman. Almost every one of my drag family in Juneau are friends with me on social media and know my partner is a woman and that we have sons. None of them have ever asked about how I identify, and they just give me space to be who I am and I give them the same. It doesn't matter. Life is too confusing for me to worry about someone else's identity, and mine is mine.

Q: How did you pick the name Donna SueMa for your drag alter-ego (is that what they're even called? alter ego doesn't sound correct).

A: I was struggling to find a drag name. The kick ass pediatrician that is our son's doctor gave it to me. At first I was pretty lukewarm about it, but I have grown into it. Yes it's a play-on Don't Assume and with the SueMa it makes a nod to my real name and Chinese heritage. It's fun I get to keep this when I am a woman too. 

Q: How much work is it/how long does it take to get into the full Donna SueMa getup?

With hair removal operations, probably 2.5 hours. It's work for sure, but every time I get a little better with it and/or learn ways to be more efficient. I can do it in two hours if pushed, but almost always stress hard at the end. I actually paint my nails at the end just for a calming activity.

Q: You have a wife and two little boys ages 9 and 5. What do they think about Donna Sue Ma and what is their overall attitude about it?

I usually do a lot of prep at home so they have seen me in drag pretty frequently. I wouldn't say that they have met Donna because she is who I am when I leave the house. "Dad do you have show tonight?" is their usual question. Dad getting ready for a show and dressing as a woman has been normalized for them. I have done 8 shows in Juneau in the last 22 months and they are used to it. I did take the 9 year old to a drag show recently, but they have not seen Donna out or performing. I think it will be fun when they finally get to see Donna doing her thing.

Q: What about your extended family, friends, and colleagues? Are they supportive of Donna Sue Ma or are they confused about why you do this or supportive, judgmental, or . . . ?

My parents have seen me in quasi-drag for a family super bowl party we had a couple of years ago. They made no comment. As conservative Christians, I am sure they were freaked out but it's not the first surprise I ever gave them! They are not on social media, so that is a blessing in that I don't think they have ever seen glammed-up Donna. If they know they haven't asked, and I haven't told. Most of my friends have either been supportive or they don't say anything. I have seen some comments on social media about it being "gross" or "go back to being you" but not enough to think it was harassing. This was early on and now I think they just ignore Donna if they don't like me being her when she pops up on my feed. Sometimes I like to change my personal profile to Donna to fuck with everyone on Juneau Community Collective or other pages. I do it less often now but I do get a wild hair now and then.

Q: Have you ever faced hostility, discrimination, or judgment of any kind for being a drag performer?

If people are judging me, it's behind my back and I like it that way. Joke! With so many Kings and Queens in Juneau, we usually travel with one another when out in Juneau. I think it's our safety net. I feel fortunate to say I have not experienced any hostility, discrimination, or judgment. I have experienced a lot of old and drunk guys groping me, but I think it's probably just the realities of a woman in the scene.

Q: What motivates you to continue performing in drag?

I want to be a Queen and this is what motivates me. There is so much to work on. My make-up game, better costuming, better performances, etc. What motivates me is that I know I can do drag at a certain level, but I want to hit that next level. Now that I have some idea what I should be doing and have such a supportive network of drag brothers and sisters, I am gaining even more confidence and enjoy myself even more than I have before. For example, this last show was my first show with some boom-curvy hips. It felt different but it felt good. Now it's time to get more used to them and move on to the next drag challenge.

Q: What has been the most fun/rewarding thing about performing as Donna SueMa?

I am still surprising people that I do drag and that I am OK at it. That's rewarding. One of the most rewarding moments was when Donna appeared at home to head to a show, and my sons didn't skip a beat about how I looked and what I was doing. That felt rewarding. Just finishing a number is rewarding and having a crowd happy to see me and cheer for me still feels really good. Getting pats on the butt and compliments from my drag family feels really good too because they are so talented and they know where I started from.

Q: What has been the most difficult?

A: In-grown 
chest hairs! I am a hairy dude and the amount of hair removal that needs to happen before a show is a pain but it's getting close to routine. I am still not super comfortable with my make-up game the learning curve has been steep for me. I look forward to be able to be consistently good with it. I think that may be the most difficult thing for me.

Q: Do you ever dress in drag other than when performing as Donna Sue Ma?

Getting Donna ready is at least a two-hour process. I wish I had other opportunities and time to take her out, but I haven't yet. Unfortunately, it would need to be scheduled with my current life commitments.

Q: Are you an exception in the drag community---like a family man with a wife and two kids is not what one thinks of as the typical drag performer. Have you met others "like" you?

A: Daphne DoAll LaChores is married to a woman. I am not sure if they have kids. We have connected about our similarities. I think we have a kinship of sorts. Maybe I am an exception in the Drag Community at large, but it's not something I think a lot about now. I love doing drag. Drag makes me feel good, special, and honest with myself. I am not hurting anyone. Drag queens are just not typical. Unlike other people, they just show their human complexity differently. I have so much respect for people that drag. It's hard but so rewarding if it's what someone wants to do.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

This Takes Commitment

A friend of mine went to Chareston with her husband for her 40th birthday and came back with this pic which is just like, so ... I don't even know what. 

Amazing? Confusing? Committed? What's the word? I don't even know.

Just imagine being SO committed to your identity as a confederate ... Fan? Descendant? Superfan? Stan?

I don't even know what to call it--but whatever it is, imagine being so committed to ANY identity, that you're willing to risk your life (and the lives of others) by covering your entire back windshield with stickers commemorating that identity.

Like that's already bad enough. Then add to it that the identity in question is a traitorous militia of slaveholders that the rest of the world isn't supposed to criticize because it's some wackass version of "heritage" that includes HUMAN FUCKING CURRENCY!


Okay, leave that aside. Let's pretend this isn't confederate swag, and it was just maybe like, Seahawks stuff, or Beanie Babies, or like a collection of stickers of Calvin pissing on a Ford sign or something. 

It's just so fucking over the top.

I feel like maybe ONE Calvin pissing or Seahawks sticker is enough. We get the idea. Do we really need enough to cause a car wreck?

It's like we get it. We get it dude. You're a big rebel with a huge cock who's trying to take it back to 1861. Fuck black lives matter and watch out because you're gonna shove a gun up the ass of the first person who looks at you funny.

Like ONE of those stickers, I think, would be sufficient to get this message across. To let the world know where you stand on the Union versus the Confederacy. And yet you're in the Union now, so maybe just LAY OFF THE THROTTLE like the tiniest bit?

Even I, who could easily cover my entire vehicle with unflattering stickers of Donald Trump's face merged with the poop emoji know better than to dial it up to this level.

This takes some serious commitment (or at least a serious commitment to advertising your commitment) to a cause, and a distinct failure to master the art of subtlety.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Paige Has Been on the East Coast for Less Than 24 Hours and Has Complained About Heat 490 Times So Far

Although this photo was taken in the Seattle Airport, it accurately coveys Paige's feelings about east coast heat and car traffic in Boston, where as I write this it is 88 degrees on a Friday at rush hour.

Not gonna lie: I'm straight up worried this Alaska girl is going to fail to adjust to real summer, even in slightly-cooler-than-most-of-the-lower-48 New Hampshire where she will be away at camp for a month. 

Whether Paige's intolerance for heat is the result of some genetic predisposition, her Alaskan roots, or some combination of the two, the end result is intermittent bitching--from a kid who in all fairness rarely bitches about anything--about how hot it is.


It's really quite dramatic. 

It's moments like this that I realize what it means to be born and raised in a temperate rain forest where, global warming notwithstanding, 45 degree days in July are the norm and the mercury rarely even hits 75. 

We did, however, spend the hottest part of the day in the air conditioned Boston Science Museum where Paige convinced my septegenarian aunt to go on a mini roller coaster and built a huge tower out of Jenga blocks. 

For science. 

Paige did experience her first ever planetarium show and announced that she was going to be a rocket scientist. I told her not so fast, homeslice. 

It's REALLY hot at Cape Canaveral.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Are You Here for Man Bun Ken?

Because I am, bros n' bitches!

Man Bun Ken is one of several new Ken Dolls Mattel introduced to the world in order to deal with the fact that regular blonde Ken is 80s AF, and no little girl wants to play pretend Barbie sexy fun times with Blaine from Pretty in Pink or the water skier from the Juicy Fruit commercial anymore.

As you can see below, there's also a Justin Bieber, a Bruno Mars, and a Taylor Swift boyfriend with nerd-chic Buddy Holly glasses.

But by FAR--by FAR--the best new Ken is "Man Bun Ken." The creation of Mattel Man Bun Ken™ is the canary in the man bun coal mine. But before the man bun goes the way of Flock of Seagulls hair, let's pretend that Man Bun Ken has a little computer in the back where you can press a button and he says like 10 different man bun things.

Twitter already had kind of a field day with Man Bun Ken, but no one so far--I think--has put words in the mouth of Man Bun Ken other than someone who claimed he looks like he would interrupt her and say "Bernie Would Have Won" which is just . . . MWAH.

Anyway, here are 10 things I think Man Bun Ken would say if he could talk:

1. "There's a great new brunch spot in Silver Lake."

2. "I am CRUSHING Tinder."

3. "OMG. I am SO OLD."

4. "I'm moving to an organic farm for the summer to do their creative."

5. "Please engage with my brand."

6. "I'm DJ'ing at Kompromat tonight." (Kompromat is the name of a made-up bar in Williamsburg)

7. "I'm doing a multi-media performance art installation at Kompromat tonight."

8. "Follow me on Instagram."

9. "I love your aesthetic. It's so authentic."

10. "My hair products are locally-sourced."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fucking Really? Why Do Mass Murderers Always Wash Up in Alaska?!


According to the Juneau Empire, four people possibly "connected" to the execution style-killings of 8 people in Ohio "took a vacation to Alaska" in "recent weeks" and authorities "believe the family has now relocated to Alaska, but would not be more specific." 


DUDES. Alaska is  663,300 square miles. So for Ohio authorities to imply that the public should be on the lookout for a family of four murderous rednecks is a bit of a needle in a haystack proposition, at least initially. (Then again, there's hope, see below).

Further research reveals that a child traveling with the wanted fugitives is named "Bovine," which speaks to questionable judgment (though not necessarily homicidal behavior), since it's kind of mean to name a kid after a cow and it also makes you pretty conspicuous if you register for daycare while on the lam (or lamb? BOOM!) 

Even in a state where naming children after mountains, trees, and weeds is common,"Bovine" sticks out.

For some reason, sketch-ass fugitive motherfuckers have this delusional fantasy that Alaska is going to be like their secret haven where they can just hide out forever. 

couple problems with this myth:

1. It's not as easy to hide out here as you think. Alaska has a very small population (738,500) and the lowest population density in the U.S. So everyone is six degrees of separation from everyone else. Newcomers are duly noted everywhere.

2. There's plenty of wilderness to hide out in. But the average fugitive who is dumb enough to shoot 8 people and hit the road is unlikely to survive here very long without Alaska kicking their ass to the point of serious injury or death.

In sum, there's good news and bad news to this story. 

The bad news is that homicidal rednecks still run away to Alaska and the myth of escape.

The good news is that the myth of the Alaska escape is just that, a myth, and people and sketch who live and belong here know how to flush out the people and sketch who don't.

Tick-tock, motherfuckers!