From the first Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade; June 28, 1970.
Old school queer anti-militarism
From the first Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade; June 28, 1970.
Old school queer anti-militarism
Reasons why Vera is awesome #203256: sometimes she comes downstairs to cook dinner cosplaying Death from The Sandman without realizing it
I drove down Ridge Avenue and made my turn onto Master Street. I found myself tapping my hands against the steering wheel and nodding my head slightly as I immersed myself in the Dr. Dre song I had flowing through my car’s stereo. As the numbered streets made their way into the 20’s, things became much more barren. The abandoned homes and businesses appeared to outnumber the occupied. The Norman Blumberg Housing Projects kissed the sky and overlooked the entire Sharswood neighborhood. Alas, I parked my car at 23rd Street, and began my journey.
Today, I decided, I would do a photo essay on two schools located within a quarter mile of each other on 24th Street: Roberts Vaux High School and John Reynolds Elementary School. Vaux High School is a 4 story building built between 1936 and 1938 between 23rd and 24th Streets along Master, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. It was named after Roberts Vaux, a jurist, abolitionist, and philanthropist born in Philadelphia, and was initially a junior high school before being converted into a high school.
Reynolds Elementary is also a four story building, but is pretty much just a giant square on the corner of 24th and Jefferson Streets. It was named after General John Reynolds, who served in the Civil War and was killed early on in the Battle of Gettysburg. Both Reynolds and Vaux served the Sharswood community for decades before being closed due to budget cuts at the end of the 2012-2013 school year.
Walking down Master Street directly in front of the entrance to Vaux was an almost eerie experience. Across the street stood a vacant house and a garden, presumably tended to by students at Vaux at one point. It was also seemed unusually quiet for a Saturday morning.
After examining the front facade of the building, I made a right down 24th Street and began examining the sides of the building. Immediately, I noticed an enormous dumpster filled with miscellaneous things and garbage strewn about. This was all stuff that I presumed had been ripped out of the school to prepare it for its next life. Suddenly, I hear a voice.
"Yo, you coming to clean this shit up," the voice asks. I look down 24th Street and there are two men there. One man is sitting in a lawn chair, and the other man is standing next to him sipping a Bud Ice wrapped in a black plastic bag through a straw.
"No, I’m just here to take pictures of Vaux," I explain. We begin talking about Vaux and its closure. The two men, who introduce themselves as Lucky and Saint, live in the neighborhood and felt very strongly about the school’s closure. "Man, it’s so backwards," Lucky says, "you got all these kids traveling miles just to go to school. This place was important to us. I miss seeing all the kids around here. It’s like a ghost town now, like we been forgotten about, you know?" I nod my head, listening with great intent, when Saint chimes in.
"Let me tell you, my brother, this shit don’t make any sense. A few years ago they built this nice fence around the school. Then they built these handicapped ramps and shit. Then they built that nice parking garage jawn over there. They sink all this money into a school that was giving kids an education and helping out our community and then just like that it’s gone. If that’s how the city feel about us, why bother putting money into it? Just close the thing and stop playing with us." Saint takes another sip of his drink and shakes his head. "It’s fucked up man…but you’re doing a good thing calling attention to it."
After we exchanged handshakes and well-wishes, I continued my walk. The amount of access I had to Vaux was quite staggering. The garage that Saint had told me about was still completely open and accessible. The school itself was not fenced off entirely, making me wonder if this could become a whole different problem in the community. As I walked back up 23rd Street towards Master, I noticed a sign for the Vaux Health Center and another sign informing people where to go for their services. This was an example of the community services that Saint had discussed. The last thing that I saw was probably the hardest to see: the empty “Roberts Vaux High School” sign. What once informed parents and students of upcoming events was now empty, just like much of the neighborhood.
I began my short walk up to Reynolds when I came across an elderly woman who identified herself as Scott (she requested not to be photographed for this project). “Good morning,” I say to her.
"Good morning. Are you coming to buy this building," she asks. I say no, and I explain my project. "I wish someone would buy this. I live across the street and it just hurts me to look at it. All these kids live in the projects. They have so much to worry about already, and now they have to walk to schools far away. My son worries about how they will be successful, I worry about whether they’ll actually get home from school," Scott says as she grasps my hand.
"How have things changed since Vaux and Reynolds closed," I ask Scott. Scott looks at the ground briefly and looks at me with a sense of pain in her face. "It’s very different. Very quiet. We don’t have much around here. We have the schools, we have Girard College down there, but we never see those kids around. My kids went to Vaux, my grandkids went to Reynolds. It’s very quiet. I hear the kids over there (points towards the Norman Blumberg Projects) playing outside and that makes me smile, but I know what they are up against and what they are doing during this time of day during the week. I used to sit outside and the kids would walk by with their textbooks or musical instruments and say, ‘Hello Miss Scott,’ and I always enjoyed that. Now it’s gone. All gone."
Scott’s words were hard for me to hear, but it was something that seemed to be a reoccurring theme: people in the community enjoyed having these schools around and miss them dearly. To close two schools that are less than a quarter mile apart seemed more than just wrong, it just seemed cold-blooded and heartless. Along the side of Reynolds stood a blacktop with two basketball hoops that was fenced off, meaning people who lived across the street in the projects couldn’t even play basketball there any more unless they hopped a fence. Scott’s words began to resonate even further with me as I came across an area that was locked off and filled with litter. I began to realize that if Reynolds were still in operation, this would have been cleaned up. Since it’s not, why bother?
Feeling as though I had finished what I set out to do, I slowly sighed and began my walk back to where I had parked my car on 23rd and Master. Before I got there, however, I noticed a quote painted on the fence surrounding the garden across the street from Vaux: “A garden to be free of stress; to have the freedom of choice, thought, and creativity. Free to imagine freedom in all its forms.”
Education teaches us from the time we are put into pre-school all the way to the day we graduate high school to utilize our freedom of developing independent thought and ideals, and how to be creative enough to find our own unique path towards success in our short time on this earth, and make the garden that is our mind, grow. This particular garden had been left, neglected and abandoned much like so many other homes and businesses in Sharswood and like Vaux and Reynolds were many years ago. The flowers in the lush garden that was once education in Philadelphia have become wilted, and unless the receive water from the powers that be, they will continue to die and never bloom again.
Related post: Elizabeth Gillespie Junior High School.
Book Burning Memorial
'In the center of Bebelplatz, a glass window showing rows and rows of empty bookshelves. The memorial commemorates the night in 1933 when 20,000 “anti-German” books were burned here under the instigation of Goebbels. There's a plaque nearby that says something like “Where they burn books, they will also burn humans in the end.” '
Interesting but rarely mentioned: most of the content burned that night came from the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (institute for the science of sex) headed by Magnus Hirschfeld. The institute and Hirshfeld himself were some of the first to openly campaign for the right to have sex with someone of the same gender, the right to transition if you did not identify with your birth sex and for the general acceptance of queer people. The team had already performed the first SRS operations in Germany and in addition, the institute advocated sex education, contraception, the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and women’s emancipation.
Photographs of the night of the book burning are plastered across history books world wide, but the queer movement that was destroyed that night often goes unmentioned.
Probly no Shove It Out Of The Nest story this week because I’m going through some really intense personal difficulties that called dibs on the time slotted to write it, so please accept as a token of apology this reminder that I am completely fucking adorable.
Welcome to the second installment of the Shove It Out Of The Nest series! For those of you who missed the last one, the idea is that every other week I write a full short story in one sitting, do one round of edits, then shove it out of the nest and move on.
The idea was that my ambitions were getting too big for me to ever finish a story, but this week’s story is probably one of the more ambitious things I’ve written. Commentary on the security state, gentrification, the stratification of cities and the idea that there’s a unified trans community, all wrapped up in a sci-fi/fantasy/surrealist porn story about a submissive trans guy having a brutal, sexy hookup with a trans woman. Funny what falls out of my subconscious.
No immediate medical needs (bless all of you who hit the tip jar last week!), but I’m disabled and permanently broke (plus, tomorrow’s my birthday), so if you like the story, please do drop a couple bucks in the tip jar and/or reblog. Thanks!
Shove It Out Of The Nest Stories #2: Control
by Rachel K. Zall
Marble, glass, steel. Cameras peering down from above the doorways. He looked directly up at one of the old buildings, one of the ones still left from the old days of the city, and a gargoyle spread it’s jaws back at him, its granite claws digging into the cornice of the building. Inside its mouth one glass eye stared passively back, a bright red LED drawing in the attentions of anyone who looked up, just to let them know they were watched, to let them know they were safe, to let them know that if they looked up from a crowd of people, someone somewhere was going to look back.
Somewhere a computer ran the picture of his face through its databases and confirmed that he lived nearby and that his score was acceptable: no outstanding warrants, no criminal records, no radical activities or associations with extremist religions, solid credit, good job. That he’d had a name change raised a red flag, but an officially approved doctor’s letter on file confirming he was transsexual lowered it. His score was a 96, the computer decided, a good citizen who could be reassured that the cameras were only there keep him safe.
The woman to his left, on the other hand, was impossible for the eye to understand. Her hair made scribbles across her face that baffled the software, puffed out like a black and white spray of frizzy spikes and hid her from view. The computer calculated her height as being above average and she seemed to be keeping pace with the 96, so it could guess her birth assignation from that, but couldn’t determine if she was properly identified to be sure she was even officially a she. Her picture was passed along to a human operator, who took one look at her and knew perfectly well that she didn’t live anywhere nearby.
The operator sent a signal out, and a nearby police officer set down his coffee and drove slowly past them, the camera on his car a next-generation model that was capable of thwarting the standard ways of avoiding facial recognition software. Bad credit, questionable associations, an arrest for soliciting but no conviction, officially male. No outstanding warrants. The officer took into account that her company was a 96 and decided not to stop and frisk her, but he drove past several times as they walked so she would know she’d been noticed. As though she’d had any doubt.
But then they walked north and crossed the line out of his district, into the place where she no doubt belonged. The officer wondered what a 96 would be doing walking over that line with her – there was no record of drugs or even public intoxication, but why else would someone from the district be walking so far north? The officer pulled into a “no parking” zone right near the line, and decided to sip his coffee and wait. He notified central that cameras should keep an eye out for where the 96 reentered and do a full analysis on his behavior.
Mostly drawn with brush and ink, plus some typeset. Not a bad page.
(EDIT: I just learned that the pic links to the Deviant Art page, and that you can’t see it without an account. You can see the full page and get the details of Christi’s beautiful art here.)
This begins the 4th scene of the comic, which is the big soap opera scene (with sex, because sex), which I’m super nervous about because a) writing melodrama is much trickier than writing orgies, and b) I probably made some egregious mistake with the Spanish.
The full, absolutely-final draft of the script is finished (the full script was finished before we started, but changes made to the format along the way have meant that it’s been in a constant state of revision since) and Christianne has set ambitious deadlines, so hopefully the last five pages should come in at a steady clip from here. (And thanks to everyone who’s been patient with the longer-than-planned process!)
Also! just to plug other projects, if you missed it I’ve started doing a series of free erotica stories called “Shove It Out Of The Nest Stories" which is updated on alternated Mondays. (Which means the second one will be up tomorrow! Woo!)
Female blues singers in the 20’s had this whole “shamelessly queer” thing down a good five decades before glam rockers started dipping their toes (or other body parts) into it.
Seriously, check out this glorious anthem from 1928:
Ma Rainey - Prove It On Me
Went out last night, had a great big fight
Everything seemed to go on wrong
I looked up, to my surprise
The gal I was with was gone.
Where she went, I don’t know
I mean to follow everywhere she goes;
Folks say I’m crooked.
I didn’t know where she took it
I want the whole world to know.
They say I do it, ain’t nobody caught me
Sure got to prove it on me
Went out last night with a crowd of my friends,
They must’ve been women, ‘cause I don’t like no men.
It’s true I wear a collar and a tie,
Makes the wind blow all the while
Don’t you say I do it, ain’t nobody caught me
You sure got to prove it on me.
Say I do it, ain’t nobody caught me
Sure got to prove it on me.
I went out last night with a crowd of my friends,
It must’ve been women, ‘cause I don’t like no men.
Wear my clothes just like a fan
Talk to the gals just like any old man
Cause they say I do it, ain’t nobody caught me
Sure got to prove it on me.
If you want to send letters of love and support to Chelsea Manning, here’s the address at which you can do so:
Commander, HHC USAG
Attn: PFC Bradley Manning
239 Sheridan Ave, Bldg 417
JBM-HH, VA 22211
[It’s nasty to have to use her old name, but it’s the only way the mail will get to her because cissexism.]
cover to 7 Year Bitch’s “Gato Negro”
One of the best album covers ever.
So true! Jaime Hernandez is a god. ♥
Have you ever read Love & Rockets? If you haven’t, I definitely recommend you run right over to the library and track down the big omnibus Locas I & II books. (I think they’re out of print, but lots of libraries have them, so you can probably get ‘em via ILL if your own library doesn’t.)
cover to 7 Year Bitch’s “Gato Negro”
queerlyliable replied to your post “Shove It Out Of The Nest Stories #1: Secret Identities”
Unnnnnffffffff….. Is possible to reblog?
If by “possible” you mean “greatly appreciated,” then yes, it’s very, very possible. :D
Free erotica! But also I need help.
I have some medical stuff coming up at the end of the month that I can’t afford, and although I’m far too proud/obstinate to just put up a donation ask, I’m comfortable putting up some free erotica and including a tip jar. That way, even if you’re not interested in erotica and you’re just a lovely person, I can still pretend I was providing something in return.
Also, I think this is going to be a bi-weekly series. I have a history of endlessly working and reworking stories until they’re so large that they can’t ever be realized. (The Exile, for instance, was cannibalized from the remains of a story I did 11 drafts of over the course of 6 months.) So this series is going to be one draft, one revision, and done. Shove it out of the nest and move on.
Anyway, on to the porn!
Shove It Out Of The Nest Stories #1: Secret Identities
by Rachel K. Zall
Jean’s lips part just a little as Linda hunches over a pillow in front of her. Linda’s arms stretch as though she is reaching for the bars of the headboard, though with the scarf tied around them she could hardly reach elsewhere.
The scarf is wool – neither of them wears silk – red with a pattern of yellow chevrons, knitted by Jean’s daughter. Jean watches Linda’s muscles strain at her bonds and hopes that her daughter’s knitting is built to last. Jean’s not sure how she’d explain it to a daughter who has never been told why her parents divorced so close their 40th anniversary , who probably has no idea her mother likes women. How do explain that to the grandchildren? How do you even bring that subject up? Certainly not by explaining that a woman you met in the grocery store damaged a handmade gift while arching her back and pulling in frustrated helplessness.
“Now then,” Jean says, tightening the warm leather straps of the harness around her waist, “are you going to scream? I prefer to know these things in advance.”
Linda sticks out her lip defiantly, but she fumbles through her mind trying to think of what the right thing to say is. Her late wife never had any interest in tying Linda down; this is all new. Should she promise to be good? Threaten to scream and be exquisitely tortured for it? How did those fantasies practiced with a belt go when she was 16?
Linda sucks in a deep air of embarrassment – how can she not know things like that at her age? When she was 20, she was sure she’d know everything by 30; at 30 she was sure she’d have it by 40; at 40 she set a more modest goal of 60. And now poor 59-year-old Linda, living in a freshly renovated body and trying on new lovers as the pain of mourning recedes to muffled ache, realizes she doesn’t know any of the answers anymore.
“Do you want me to scream?” She asks, calmly as she can.
Jean smiles. “Good,” she says, “very good. Yes, I think we should let the neighbors know what we’re up to, don’t you? I do so enjoy jealous neighbors.”
i mean ok
Please and thank you.