Blog For Free!
Steal This Blog
|06.07.04 (10:27 pm) 
I grew up reading Mad Magazine,
as one of my childhood escapes from the doldrums of elementary school
and catechism classes...and a rather conservative, cold
Protestant/Catholic family. Now, I realize Mad's
not for most adults who enjoy more sophisticated parody, but it sure
was a satisfying "forbidden fruit" for loner kids like myself, whose
nerdiness and strange allergies often forced us into isolated lives, even at school among our peers. For us, Mad Mag
was a wholesome rebellion against conformism and bullies; for our kind
grew cynical at an early age, already awakened (at least in part) to
"family values" hypocrisy and adult dictatorship.
I discovered Mad at a large variety store (across the street from Nunley's Happyland & Jolly Rogers
on Hempstead Turnpike), where I'd often lose myself among science
fiction paperbacks and fantasy mags...somewhere around the age of nine
or ten. (I was a precocious reader...instead of praising me, my
father'd often taunt: "You think you're such a know-it-all." My fantasy
world was my compensation.)
Many Sundays were spent with relatives in Brooklyn, who played Michigan Rummy and Pokeno
while I sat like a diminutive elf on a vast, cushiony couch bursting
with flower petals and butterflies. I often took pleasure then, reading
the latest issue of Mad Magazine,
after purchasing a copy at the corner candy store run by an old, old
man with thick eyeglasses, whose face I no longer remember...and in
fact, never even thought about until this very moment.
I do remember discovering exotic candies,
like gummy-red "silver dollars" (raised impression of a founding father
on one side), pastel candy buttons on long scrolls of blank white
paper, cherry-flavor whistle rings, and other sweetly edible curios I
never imagined. I was a child of the sterile 'burbs. Surrealistic
candies like these did not exist in the outlands of Long Island. Our
housing tract was called the "Arrowhead Development", because living on
Shawnee, Mohawk, or Iroquois Drive, one could easily find real
arrowheads simply by digging a garden in the backyard.
childhood was indeed lonely in a profound way--though not at all
unusual for children raised in dysfunctional Amerikan nuclear-family
homes in the post-war, pre-Beatles 50's. Fortunately I was bright, and
blessed by a vivid inner world. Which world was happily populated by
many characters out of comic books, sci-fi movies, and, thankfully, Mad Magazines.
But when I became an adult, I put away childish things (as the saying goes), including Mad Mag.
Not that I felt "above" such material, but I truly came to enjoy other
kinds of humor and parody. It wasn't until a week or so ago--here in The Castro where I've lived and/or hanged out since 1973--that I decided to buy my next issue of Mad...the
first one in over 32 years. Truly, nostalgia forced my hand...though in
a gentle, friendly manner. It was the June 2004 edition.
"$3.50 - Cheap!" the cover boasted.
What a laugh. I remember when it went up to 35 cents, then a couple
years later 50...and how offended I was over such drastic increases.
(50 cents was a lot for a kid back then!) Now, with the hindsight of
eight or nine days (as I type this), it occurs to me that I bought this
latest issue of Mad
out of gratitude for the fact this magazine was still kickin' ass, and
waiting here for me, like a faithful guardian who years ago, watched
over me to make sure there'd be smiles scattered throughout my
difficult formative years. Waiting for me to awaken to that level of
appreciation where I can look back and say:
Thank you Mad Magazine!
For, just like Looney Toons, Crusader Rabbit, Soupy Sales, Froggy the Gremlin, and Abbot & Costello: the wonderful authors of Mad Magazine
made sure that so many of us children living lonely lives were granted
these oases of laughter and parody, that we may not only survive a
stark childhood, but hopefully thrive as adults, thanks to the peals of
laughter they brought to our wizened little hearts. I remember once, in
5th grade, reading a Mad
that I had surreptitiously slipped inside my grammar book...and our
teacher Miss Murphy sneaked up from behind, pulled it right from my
tiny birdlike hands. She chastised me for exposing my innocent widdle
mind to such trash, and sent me home with a letter. What a delicious
memory! (If you also loved Mad Magazine as a kid, why not share one of your own youthful memories, here in my ZekeBlog? Just click on "comments" below.)
So, last week having purchased a copy of Mad
in a local Walgreens, I went on home, prepared a snack, then sat down
to read that delightful collection of crazy satire, like I used to as a
little boy, a long, long time ago, sitting by myself at the kitchen
table while my brother played his 45 rpm's in the bedroom, and my
parents dressed up for a dance at the American Legion Hall (Post 86,
Bethpage). And there on the front cover, were the unmistakably familiar
freckled nose, mischievous eyes and gap-toothed grin of Alfred E....staring
at me through a very broad, green face, with these strange, tubular
ears that poked out like stalks. At the bottom of the slick cover,
stamped in a large, bold, vegetable-green, electric-aura 3-D font was
the title: "Shrek!". (Beneath that, in smaller purple letters: "Yecch!")
With that, my love affair with Mad Magazine
burst forth anew. The fabled slogan "What, me worry?" soothed my
troubled heart like a wholesome balm, and for a while I forgot all
about the Religious Reich, homophobia, Dubya, Iraq, the increasing
violence in San Francisco's own black ghetto, Bay View/Hunter's
Point...and my advanced middle age of almost-54.
As if reunited with a beloved friend on a higher level than before, a special treat lay in store for me on page 33:
and then again (back peddling), on page 7:
Looking at them in brief, you might not comprehend why my present gratitude for Mad
increased in leaps and bounds after viewing page 33...and then, once
more on page 7. For both pages were parodies that give honor to sexual
minorities, not ridicule! (Page 33 presenting in a casual, fun, and
non-bigoted manner, two males who suddenly discover romance in each
others' arms...Page 7 a satire on the hypocrisy of the "ex-gay" movement.)
For Mad Mag
is doing exactly what society needs, to rise above its evil hatred of
gays and other sexual minorities: exposing America's youth to humorous
entertainment depicting gays as normal and decent as any hetero you'd
ever want to befriend. For it is in these formative years that
prejudice takes root...and if children do not witness gays as a healthy
part of our every-day lives, in cartoons, plays, TV shows, Sunday comics,
and magazines...then they will not grow up to respect and appreciate
gay people for their own special brand of humanity...as one more facet
on the brilliant diamond of cultural diversity.
So, with all my heart--with all my child within that heart--I say: "Kudos Mad Magazine!
You're one great bunch of fine, outstanding crew of artists, and
challengers of the status quo! As you always have been, and always will
be (I'm sure of that, now)."
And guess what? Mad Magazine now has a website! With a message board! So why not go there now, and tell them "thank you", too!
Tonight after uploading this article, I'm replacing one of the posters in my bedroom (that depicts a hot dude standing naked in a wooded copse, which I found in a calendar someone discarded), with a poster of Mad Magazine's own Saint Alfred.
May Alfred E. Neuman's
smile grace all our queer lives with joy, and affirmation of our Great
Destiny soon to emerge across this sorry, tired, jaded little
homophobic (but not for much longer) planet we call earth.
What, me worry?
Did you know that Mad Magazine
was (probably) the only comic medium that refused to sign the
McCarthy-era "Comics Code Authority" covenant? Their happy work-around
was to morph from a comic book into a magazine. Did you also know that Mad Mag's circulation is now down to 500,000 annually, from a peak of 2,800,000 back in '73? To read more, click here.
I think Mad well deserves my subscription payments, for all the good they've done throughout a most difficult childhood; don't you? Don't let Alfred E. Neuman down at this, his most challenging last-minute trump, about to be played on the human race. Show Mad your love, TODAY!
|!!! Gay Ghost Online Censorship Rages On !!!
|06.02.04 (7:54 pm) 
You may recall my disappointment (posted Tuesday 05.25.04) when I discovered that one of my favorite escape-fantasy sites of all time, "Castle of Spirits",
censors the word "gay". Their site hosts a large and ever-growing
collection of true ghost tales. I debuted my first blog ever, by
featuring that site...'cause that's how much I enjoy spooky tales (and
if true, all the more thrilling). A couple of days after I praised
their site, I logged on to their guestbook, with the intent to invite
Castle of Spirits' owner to read my angelic review. But when I posted
my entry, it showed up with word "gay" censored! So that my website URL
came out "***-bible.org", and my self-description as "free-lance *** actvist".
So I posted my grave disappointment to this web log, and to various LGBT newsgroups:
and to the Gaynet mailing list.
Shortly after that, Castle of Spirits shut down their guestbook signing for several days...
me wonder if others posted criticism to their guestbook, after having
read my haunting critique. Well, I believe that is precisely what
happened (so thanks to all you good LGBT faeries) as their guestbook
signing is now back up, with this caveat:
--begin Castle of Spirits caveat:
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT ABUSE
we have had to filter out some words from their use in the ghostbook, I
have had some comment about this with people taking offense to it as
they cannot use these words in the PROPER CONTEXT that they are meant
to be used.
The problem is the MISUSE of these words and the
usual thing of people spoiling it for everyone else due to their
childish behavior and selfishness.
There is a constant problem
with what appears to be a certain uneducated age group of young people,
who do not have the maturity to understand how offensive they are being
and continue to overuse and be extremely offensive on purpose by
continuously misusing these words and targeting our ghostbook with it.
We hope they will grow up one day :o) .......but so far it's not
Of course, we do not wish for this sort of thing
in our ghostbook and try to deflect this by taking the option to leave
those words out at this time.
Castle of Spirits does not
discriminate against anyone of different race or choices in their
lifestyles and we do feel a certain responsibility to try to stop the
offensive use of certain words. We welcome genuine visitors to our
ghostbook for genuine comments and apologise for any inconvenience or
offense that may be taken.
Thanks for understanding! :o) .
--end of Castle of Spirits caveat
doesn't this strike you as disingenuous at best, and sinister at worst?
Wait, before you show them any kind of empathy, please realize they do
not ban words "homosexual" and "lesbian"...which I just tested. By
censoring "gay" under grounds that some immature posters use that to
insult and disrupt thier guestbook...then, by default, all good gay
folk are condemned along with the guilty parties. Once more, we are
scapegoated for the sins of others, and relegated to the same ghoulish
status as our own homophobic enemies.
I really don't understand
why an innocuous word like "gay" is targeted; for I sincerely doubt
homophobes would use that word for an expletive, when a choicer one is
more obvious, like: "fudge packer", "pervert", "faggot", "jizz
guzzler", "cock sucker", and "rump ranger". Hmmm, methinks 'tis the host of Castle of Spirits that interprets "gay" as intrinsically filthy, and not these so-called spammers. (Do I spot a mote in my neighbor's eye?)
of Spirits: I think you need to show us some proof that your claim is
true...I for one, find it hard to believe. But even if true: your
particular strategy only gives the enemy victory, not loss...for they
succeeded in getting you to censor any gay presence on your site.
You've played right into their hands (and I suspect, even willingly).
Your apology rings hollow. You won't even type the word "gay" in your statement...which you should, in some sort of relevant context, if it's really an issue!
add insult to injury, their newly posted guestbook policy does not stop
with the above caveat, but continues with a further warning:
of Spirits.com will record any IP address of anyone signing or posting
any material in our ghostbook or any other online form where
information is submitted (including submitting stories and discussion
group). Your details will never be used EXCEPT FOR:*1. if you choose to
purposefully place any type of unwanted abuse/spam or other offensive
material, including any type of terrorist threat or information,
through any of our online forms, including the ghostbook (guestbook).
Under current Australian law (Spam Act 2003 which came into effect 10th
April, 2004) it is now illegal to place any spam through or target any
spam at any visitors of castle of spirits.com causing them to receive
unwanted e-mails, or unwanted spam links/information placed in the
ghostbook (guestbook). Castle of Spirits.com has the right under
Australian law to take full action upon any spamming information placed
in any of our forms, including the Guestbook and also therefore records
all IP addresses for this specific purpose.
Your IP information
and any other form of communication you placed through
castleofspirits.com may then be passed on to Federal Authorities who
may choose to use this information to track and or monitor your use of
the Internet and action may possibly be taken against both you and your
This is currently a serious matter and we hope that you
will take another thought about placing anything unwanted and or
irrelevant in any of our forms.
you wonder if they're chastising pro-gays who posted complaints about
censorship, to their guestbook--rather than to the original
miscreants--miscreants who, AFAICT, were conjured up by Castle of Spirits in the first place. Now, if some pro-gay elements spammed their guestbook to invoke a DoS attack, I'd have to deem it a successful act of civil disobedience.
against these phantom miscreants, but aimed at those who criticise
their censorship of "gay". And for this reason, I judge their response
to my criticism (and consequent rallying outrage by others) as
heavy-handed and two-faced. There is some level of homophobia going on
here, by Castle of Spirits' host; typical of liberal heterosexuals who
think being familiar with some aspects of queer rights, gives them the
Goddess-given right to have the last word on this matter, as well. "So
we have to censor the word 'gay' to stop these scoundrels. Okay, no big
dealie" is their heterocentric answer. Doesn't matter to them how this
abruptly silences any gay voice.
So the battle rages on. Please convey to them your feelings, by either sending them a message, or posting to their guestbook.
put an end to Castle of Spirits' devilish hypocrisy. Then treat
yourself to a frappucino, you darling armchair quacktivist, you!
what other underworld celebrities have to say about Castle of Spirits'
gay censorship. (Note: some had to be resurrected for a post
"I signed their guestbook with someone else's blood."
"I'd give my left nut, if it'd make a difference. Wait: just kidding, give it back!"
- Frankenstein's Monster
"I'm not queer; stop saying that!"
- Casper the Friendly(?) Ghost
"Gay rights go hand in hand with succubus rights."
- Morticia Addams
"Mother, Castle of Spirits is censoring the gay word!"
- Norman Bates
"Some of my best fiends are homosexual."
- Teenage Werewolf
"People often call me Penis Breath. So I do feel your pain."
- Alien Baby
"This is too much to absorb all at once."
- The Blob
"Some of my best feasts are homosexual. Especially with fava beans. And arugula."
- Hannibal Lecter
"It's wrong to leave anyone out in the cold."
- The Thing
"Here, have a slice of homophobe meat pizza with scream sauce!"
- Freddie Kruger
"We don't discriminate against anyone. Show us how."
"Homophobes are playing with fire."
"That Zeke has big balls!"
- King Kong
"Censor gays? They must have a heart of stone."
- Pet Rock
"Hot scaly monster with severe eczema, seeks...oh, this ain't a dating service? Never mind!"
"Not one cent of my bountiful charity money goes to LGBT issues."
- Richest breeder on earth
"This is not a good thing."
- K-Mart bag lady
"What, me worry?"
- Professional slacker
"I'll be bare-backed!"
- Governator of Kalifornia
"Ghostbook sensoryship vylates nucular famly valyooz."
- Baboon zoo escapee
Do you have a favorite quote from a monster celebrity? Please share by clicking on the comment link below.
I just checked their guestbook again, and once more, it's down, down,
down! It couldn't have been up more than several hours.)