All posts by Mikeylito

I'm a New York-bred transplanted Californian who is now stuck on Long Island.

On The Occasion of My 25K Birthday

Today is Tuesday, 25 January 2022 and it’s my birthday. 

It’s not an ordinary birthday and by the strictest definition of the word, it’s not a birthday at all. However, it’s very significant to me even though I wasn’t born on January 25th. For today, I have lived on this planet (and for those wise guys out there, no other) for 25,000 days. I’ll leave it to the disciples of Andrew Yang to discover my birth date. 

In these times of the third decade of the 21st Century, 25,000 days seems like a significant milestone. For someone like me with a chronic disease, living in the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic seems significant enough. After all, I’ve lived to see buzzards flying over the towers of New York City. I would think that’s significant. I feel very fortunate to have lived 25,000 days in this time when life seems so perilous. 

I was a young boy when two jumbo jets collided over the skies of Brooklyn and Staten Island. I was significantly older when I saw another two jumbo jets fly into two towers in Lower Manhattan. I was a young man when I lived in Washington Heights, and I lived with another young man who I desired but whom I didn’t have the courage to tell how I felt about him because society and my family didn’t accept people like me. Some of them still don’t. 

I’ve also seen some marvelous things.  I’ve seen men walk on Luna, which most of you call The Moon and I saw it before I graduated high school. I’ve seen any number of people who celebrate life by celebrating who and what they are. I’ve took part in two Marches on Washington, not the famous one where Martin Luther King spoke, but in 1993 and again in 2000 when I and others marched for human rights for those of us celebrating their gender and sexual diversity. I watched other young people march for their lives in 2018 and understood what a powerful feeling they must have felt as they marched among those alabaster buildings in our nation’s Capital. 

I’ve seen wonderful movies like Casablanca, 12 Angry Men, Mildred Pierce, Twelve O’Clock High, Psycho, JAWS, Fail-Safe, my current love tick, tick…BOOM! and the most successful movie franchise in history, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’ve seen some crappy movies in that time too, because I’m a lover of disaster porn and monster pictures. So, count The Day After Tomorrow, The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, Gorgo, The Giant Behemoth and so many others among my favorite films.  I’ve laughed at the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Lemmon and Matthau, Murphy and Hall, Tucker and Chan, Smith and Lawrence and so many other unexpected combinations down through the years.

I’ve seen a lot in 25,000 days and I’ve lived a lot too, but not necessarily as much as I’ve liked and especially not as I should. Some of that will change and a lot of it will not, but I’m looking forward to doing as much as I can in the future. 

For the time being, you can follow this podcast. It should be available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and wherever you listen to podcasts. I’m trying to develop a YouTube channel, which you’ll find at Mikeylito.live. You’ll find opinions like this on my opinion blog at Mikeylito.com and other more comfortable opinions about fandom on my leisure blog at Mikeylito.blog. Finally, I can be found on most social media platforms @MikeylitoLIVE, and you can email me at mikeylitoLIVE@gmail.com. 

Until next time, #Civility. 

Ciao for now! 

Video Version

I’m really starting to dread Fridays.

Fridays should be a happy time. New movies usually open on Fridays, at least officially anyway. New episodes of some excellent streaming series and features debut on Fridays, depending on the streaming service. New episodes of a YouTube show top off many of my late-night Fridays.

However, bad news tends to crop up on Fridays in the recent and the not-to-distant past.

Friday, August 28, 2020, Chadwick Boseman was taken from us.

Think about this. The entire time Chad Boseman worked for Marvel, he fought colon cancer. My father had cancer. I remember the moments before he died how much pain he was in. From Captain America: Civil War to Avengers: Endgame and the Disney+ series What If, Boseman fought cancer. What is fandom’s reaction to all this? Re-cast the character. I get it. Down through the years, there have been multiple Batmans, Supermans, Spider-mans, and Blades. Guess what. There will be multiple Black Panthers as well. What Kevin Feige, Ryan Coogler, Nate Moore, and the rest of Marvel are trying to tell you is that Chadwick Boseman embodied T’Challa. Another character who inhabits the Black Panther suit can accomplish whatever feats the Black Panther accomplished in the comics.

Friday, December 31, 2021, Betty White was taken from us. For weeks leading up to the end of the year, nearly everyone was planning to celebrate Betty White’s 100 birthday with the premiere of a documentary on her 100th birthday, January 17, 2022. White was sexy and sassy, and she brought life and laughter to millions, perhaps billions, of us around the planet. Yet, her death 18 days before her planned birthday celebration teaches us that life is precious and promised to no one. It is a lesson that is taught to us repeatedly.

Friday, January 7, 2022, Sidney Poitier was taken from us. Well, that’s not actually accurate. Like Jonathan Larson before him, Mr. Poitier was taken on a Thursday, but we didn’t learn about it until Friday. I spent my youth watching Sidney Poitier in movies. A lot of them you may have watched:

  • Lilies of the Field
  • To Sir With Love
  • In The Heat of the Night
  • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
  • Sneakers

A lot you may NOT have watched.

  • For Love of Ivy
  • Buck and the Preacher
  • Uptown Saturday Night
  • Let’s Do It Again
  • A Piece of the Action

I spent last Friday watching four different films, two of which are big favorites of mine: the aforementioned Sneakers and the 1965 Columbia Pictures nuclear drama, a tense B&W thriller with Richard Widmark titled The Bedford Incident. Widmark and Poitier did a few other films together, including the first of the other two I watched that Friday, a film titled No Way Out. Widmark played a man who was shot during a robbery with his brother. Poitier, in his breakout role in 1950, three years before I was born, played a doctor in the prison ward. Poitier’s character diagnosed the brother with a brain tumor. However, the brother died during a spinal tap conducted by Dr. Sidney, attempting to confirm his diagnosis. The rest of the film was about the tension between the Widmark character who threatened to kill the Poitier character.

The second of the two films I had never watched was the 1958 film, The Defiant Ones. Poitier and Tony Curtis played two convicts who escaped from a chain gang after a truck accident in the rural South. The hook is that the two, one black and one white, are bound together by the 20-foot chain attached to each one’s wrist.

What’s unique about these latter films is that I seriously doubt either would be produced today. Both films contain liberal use of what is euphemistically called the “N”-word. I almost typed out the word, but who needs the aggrevation. Such is life in the third decade of the 21st Century.

So, before I go any further, I assure you that I am just fine. I am more pensive than melancholy. It’s what I’m thinking about as I decide whether or not to risk going into a movie theatre on Friday to watch Scream. I’ve already risked getting COVID going to see Spider-Man No Way Home in a packed movie theatre with a couple sitting maskless right next to me. I dodged that one; do I want to risk my health for another film, or will it join The King’s Man and The 355 on the list of movies I wait to see on some future streaming service?

My apologies to the reader if this is a downer. Just my thoughts as 2022, year 3 of the plague, rolls on. Like a friend said last Friday, I’m getting antsy, and I want to get out and about. I’d love to hang out with her again and get to meet that a few other people, in person. I’ve lived the metaverse for over 27 years. Trust me; real life is better.

Ciao for now!
Mike

Touched by History

To her birth parents, she was known as Anna Pauline Murray.

Born in 1910 in Baltimore, MD, she was orphaned at a very early age and sent to live with her aunts in Durham, NC. That part of her story can be found in the first of two autobiographies she wrote about her life, family, and journey.  That book is Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family, published by Harper & Row in 1956, twenty years before a similarly titled book by Alex Haley.

To me, she was Aunt Pauli, one of my father’s four sisters, along with one brother. She would enter and hover over my life throughout my childhood, sometimes as a distant figure and other times like a third parent.

My earliest memory of Aunt Pauli was of a tree-lined street in Brooklyn known as Chauncey, which she shared with her two aunts from Durham and the fictional characters known as the Kramdens and the Nortons. However, Aunt Pauli and great Aunts Pauline and Sallie were nothing like those folks.  Aunt Pauli was working at the Manhattan law firm of Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison and about to take a sojourn to Accra, Ghana, to teach at the Ghana School of Law. History records that journey took place in 1960; so, I was but seven years old.

While there, Aunt Pauli apparently researched the government and constitution of that fledgling republic, founded 1 July 1960, and became somewhat more involved in Ghanaian intrigue than she intended. Subsequently, she returned to the United States and published, along with Leslie Rubin, a book on the Government and Constitution of Ghana in 1961.

She moved to New Haven, CT, to study for her doctorate in law. During that period, I can remember traveling to New Haven many times.  My memories of New Haven are ephemeral. I remember that she bought me my first watch there. I remember she lived on Dixwell Avenue, and I used to walk her dog around the block.  Aunt Pauli had three dogs that I remember throughout her lifetime.  She probably had more, but I knew of Smokey, Doc, and Roy. I don’t remember which of the three dogs I was shepherding at the time, but New Haven was where I gained my dislike for what I call “rat dogs.” These are small dogs that feel like they can take on the world and are constantly yapping, especially when a larger dog happens by.

Aunt Pauli received her JSD at Yale University’s School of Law in 1965. I was twelve by then.  When Aunt Pauli returned from Ghana, she imported the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia she had purchased there. Until 1974 Ghana, unlike the United States, drove on the left side of the road.  So, the steering wheel and drive mechanisms were on what would be the passenger side in the USA.  Until 1983, the Connecticut Turnpike had nine toll plazas; four in the stretch between the New York State border and New Haven. So, Aunt Pauli had to devise a method of paying the tolls from her driving position.  Imagine, if you will, driving up to a toll booth to be greeted either by a dog, a young child, or a fly swatter attached to a yardstick. Like many differently-abled, the world is what you make of it. If it doesn’t fit, you make alterations.

I have stated elsewhere that I am a child of the television generation. So, much of what I remember over the years is formed by what I saw on The Tube. In 1968, while turmoil was raging in Chicago, Aunt Pauli and I traveled in New England to a small privately owned island in Machias Bay known as Yellowhead Island (now known as Yellow Head Island).

We may have traveled from Boston or New Haven. I can’t remember.  What I do remember is traveling during the trip to Campobello Island, New Brunswick. It was my first trip outside of the United States. She took me there to see the Roosevelt retreat. Aunt Pauli was friends with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She once took my entire family to lunch with Mrs. Roosevelt at her home in Hyde Park, NY. Aunt Pauli’s friendship with Mrs. Roosevelt is chronicled in the book The Firebrand and the First Lady by Patricia Bell Scott.

Anyway, that August of 1964, I had just celebrated my 11th birthday. We were traveling to visit the summer home of Dr. Caroline Ware and her husband, Dr. Gardiner C. Means. They had a cabin on a bluff on Yellowhead Island, and, at that time, there was no television, only radio.  Dr. Means often took me out on his boat, and I learned how to steer a boat with a rear-mounted outboard motor. Whatever turmoil was happening in Chicago, we could only grasp by nightly listening to the radio.

At that age, I was only marginally aware of my sexuality.  During the day on the island, left to my own amusement, I would strip out of all my clothes and run around naked on the backside of the island. If anyone ever saw me, it was never mentioned to me. When the tide was low, I would venture across the cove to the head of the island, which was cut off from the rest of the island when tides were higher.

Eventually, probably around Labor Day, the time came when we left Yellowhead and traveled across Machias Bay and climbed back into the Karmann Ghia. We returned home by way of Vermont and the Green Mountains. Along the way, Aunt Pauli picked up a young sailor who was hitchhiking back to his base. I remember feeling unusually excited for reasons I didn’t understand then but clearly do now.

If Aunt Pauli knew I was gay, I don’t know. 
She never discussed it with me.

Over the years, in Boston and New York’s East Village, I would often get together with Aunt Pauli at her apartment and work as her office assistant, clipping out newspaper articles about the news of the day. Aunt Pauli was constantly on her typewriter writing letters to the editor or op-eds or letters to Presidents and other officials. We would listen to classical or folk music. My aunt would lecture her young nephew on grammar, spelling, and the awesome power of words, which, in careless hands, could be what she called psychic violence.

As I grew older, our contact became less and less.

In the winter of 1984-85, succumbing to the pressures of family and society, I decided to get married. On 11 May 1985, 13 days after my father’s death, Aunt Pauli officiated my wedding. 51 days later and 25 years to the day after Ghana became a nation, Aunt Pauli was dead.

Her second autobiography, Song in a Weary Throat, was published posthumously in 1987 by Harper & Row.

As the years have passed, something Aunt Pauli never desired while she was alive began to occur in her wake. Many have become aware of her accomplishments and her actions. As she becomes more well-known, those of us who treasure her memory become less able to control how others view her. People are projecting their hopes and desires upon her, choosing identifications and pronouns she never used herself.

People would do well that Aunt Pauli never defined herself as Black, but rather as Negro. We would often have discussions about this. I remember her telling me that her generation fought hard to capitalize the “N” in Negro, and she wasn’t willing to give up the fight so easily.

Giving up the fight was unlike Pauli Murray. Armed with her typewriter, she fought the good fight. Her story is told in her own words in her two autobiographies, her book of poetry, Dark Testament and Other Poems, and all of her works.

Her life is chronicled in a 2021 documentary produced by Talleah Bridges McMahon and from the directors of the award-winning documentary RBG, Betsy West and Julie Cohen.
Its name is My Name is Pauli Murray.

I have been touched by history.
I have known that for a very long time.
My life was shaped, in part, by her as well as my own hard-working parents.
I hope you will learn about her.
I will never forget her. I hope you won’t either.


“I’ve lived to see my lost causes found.”

— Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray

The Current Occupant Complains… AGAIN

One of the benefits of the #MLSisBack Tournament is that I spend less time watching political news and commenting on it. (There was no game this morning, which is why I am more active on @Twitter.)

I understand The Current Occupant held a taxpayer-paid rally at the White House Thursday evening. I was confused by some of the reports I've heard about said rally.

So, I understand @BarackObama and @JoeBiden are responsible for showers, dishwashers, light bulbs, and various other sundry items.

I’m surprised he didn’t bring up low-flow toilets.
Those are pretty annoying.

#FakePresident

#VOTE

Please vote.

-30-

Originally tweeted by Mikeylito ❎🏳️‍🌈✊🏽 (@Mikeylito) on Friday, 17 July 2020.

Henceforth

Until 3 November, I will not refer to The President by his surname because that is his brand; I will not publicize his brand. Henceforth, he will be referred to as The Current Occupant [of the White House].

He will be referred to as the President if he does something Presidential.

I may quote content that uses his surname, but no content produced by me will use his surname.

Originally tweeted by Mikeylito ❎🏳️‍🌈✊🏽 (@Mikeylito) on Friday, 17 July 2020.