I recently visited Kansas, and I'm pleased that such a liberal thinker as yourself is writing a column to address the pressing political and moral issues of the day. I'll be interested in seeing how your plans develop after you're born. Have you given any thought to what you want to be when you grow up?
New York City
It's always nice to get a letter from a reader, particularly one from the Big Apple. But you have to understand, Carol, it's difficult to think about the future when you're no bigger than a gum ball and you're still sporting a tail. Naturally, my felicity with biblical scholarship makes me think a calling as a megachurch ringleader may be a canny career choice. But that would mean I'd first have to go through the obligatory period of being a shiftless drunk, porn addict and street hooker's sugar daddy before I could build up the proper credentials. Of course, years of chasing she-male threesomes in cheap motel rooms makes the conversion to self-righteous, self-appointed morality watchdog all the more dramatic. But seriously, who wants to pay that kind of price for a gated mansion and a crappy show on cable access? Maybe I'll just stay right where I am.
Got a moral quandary? E-mail Jimmy at email@example.com.
Who Tipped Fred?
Kansas City rocker-girl Kristie Stremel doesn't make political music, but she's not shy about being gay, either. In fact, maybe it was anticipation of this weekend's Gay Pride Festival that made her all cranky when she saw WDAF Channel 4's predictable sweeps-month "Secret Sex" news story last week.
We're all pretty sure that men having sex in Penn Valley Park isn't news to anyone. But it was the tone of the story that bugged Stremel; the sensationalism made it feel like a slam against all gay people, not just a few jackasses in the bushes. So like any engaged viewer, she fired off an e-mail to the station, which, OK, might have been written a little hastily.
"Your piece probably made many men and women feel ashamed of there [sic] sexuality simply due to the fact that your story was put together in a shameful way!" she wrote. "Please do the gay community a favor, and DO NOT cover our gay pride festival this year! I fear you will make it out to be an 'orgy in the park'!"
Reporter John Holt vigorously defended himself, noting that sex in public and soliciting sex are illegal, whether in Penn Valley Park or on Independence Avenue. "Bottom line, this story was about illegal sex in a park that is trying to rebuild itself," he wrote back to Stremel. "It just so happens that sex tends to be men on men. That is a fact. No one in our story, or in our reporting, has any agenda against homosexuals."
But Stremel is baffled that her e-mail to Channel 4 seems to have made it to Fred Phelps' in box.
Several hours before Holt wrote her back, Stremel got another e-mail: "Well carpet muncher, maybe before you start Bitching at people, you ought to use spell check before you make yourself look so stupid. I am a anti gay person and I'm very familiar with Fred Phelps in Topeka, and is how I came to get a copy of the email that you sent to WDAF. Maybe, I should have Mr. Phelps come and picket your house. By the way it is a orgy in the park when it comes to your people's ways or why would they feel that they have to hide it, they must be ashamed of something. Signed, A very straight and NORMAL person in Shawnee :)"
(Actually, in the spelling-grammar-typo controversy, we can authoritatively say that Stremel's was the least offensive of the e-mails -- hers, Holt's and the mysterious Phelps lover's.)
Did someone at Grandpa Fred's Topeka compound really have access to Channel 4's e-mail? Or was someone in the station's IT department happily forwarding fodder to Fred's followers?
As of last week, the computer jocks at Channel 4 were busy trying to figure that out. They told Stremel that, orgy or no orgy, they did not "condone this abuse of our system."
Meanwhile, if any TV stations want shots of thousands of gay people sitting around on the grass or browsing booths full of brochures or eating hot dogs, they can get the footage this weekend -- at the Liberty Memorial in Penn Valley Park.
Notes from KC's blogosphere.
My husband and I have become officially, at 25, the most boring people that exist. It's Friday night. We've um ... talked with our clothes off, had leftovers while listening to the new System of a Down and now my husband is in the other room clipping his fingernails. I'm not placing blame, I just get frustrated with us. I'm a poor decision maker and so is husband so when you put us together you've got two nerds driving around for an hour because neither will say where they want to go to dinner. Often this ends up with me frustrated insisting we just go home at this point. The job is sucking. I'm an ungrateful piece of shit, apparently. We've really got no friends. I complain way too much. I can't seem to get my jollies fulfilled anywhere. I guess life is what you make it and if I want something fun I've got to make my own. This is the eternal quest. I'm a bitch. I need friends and activity but I'm being a passive piece of crap. Haven't I written about this a thousand times before? From "Pomegranate Pretty," the online diary of a recently married bank employee