that toddlin’ town

November 14th, 2008 | Uncategorized

When I got to Chicago yesterday, my literary escort (my ex Amy asked me if that meant a well-read hooker, but no, it means the person who picks authors up at the airport on their book tours and carts them around) gave me a tour of Obama’s neighborhood. This is his street, all blocked off by the Secret Service. But we didn’t go to Hyde Park just to gawk like these people are doing. Mainly we went there so I could sign books at the 57th Street Bookstore.


Can you imagine George Bush being a member of a co-op bookstore? Oh. So my escort guy worked on the campaign, and was still really, really amped up about everything. He would have stopped the car so we could walk down the street and be frisked by secret service agents, but I demurred. But look, he insisted that I take pictures of Grant Park, and I did my best as we whizzed by.
It’s there, behind that SUV, okay?
So I said in the last post that there was a really lovely, large, ardent crowd at my Women and Children First event last night. I don’t have any photos because I was too busy to take any. I was at the store signing books till 10pm. Near the end, a police officer on her beat happened in. She said her wife was a big fan, and she had me sign a book for her. As I did that, I was also chatting with three young seminarians of various genders, from the Chicago Theological Seminary. Isn’t that kinda wild? That wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago, a cop in uniform and three ministers coming to one of my booksignings.

45 Responses to “that toddlin’ town”

  1. Ginjoint says:

    Thank you, Amy Rubin. You know that hoary old cliche about “you made me spray Coke all over my monitor!” Well, I just sort of snerked pinot grigio into my nose, thanks to you. Yes, it burns.

    Hey, I was just down in Hyde Park today, but not far enough north to warrant a search. If I move again, it might be to that neighborhood, thus ending several generations of North Sidedness in my family. I don’t know why, but lately I’ve just felt the need to be around overeducated people.

    And speaking of the crowd at Women & Children, does anyone know what a white bandanna hanging out of someone’s left rear pocket means?

  2. Ian says:

    After doing some research but only being able to find hanky codes for gay men, a white bandanna (depending on what material it’s made of) means she’s a top and wants someone to jack her off??? If it was white velvet apparently it means she’s a voyeur!

    I like the idea of the hanky code, but in a dimly-lit nightclub or sauna (not that I ever go to either these days) I couldn’t imagine remember what robin’s egg blue even looked like, never mind what it stood for.

    Anyway, speaking of things that wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago, Martina Navratilova is going to be on British reality show I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here starting this week! Complete Dykon on UK TV for hours and hours! In Primetime!

  3. Ian says:

    PS, this hanky code (seen as a colour wheel) is fantastic!

  4. Ginjoint says:

    Ian, I’ll never even be able to look at paint chips the same way again. That link was AWESOME. Of course appearances can be deceiving, but based on what I saw, I think it had something to do with being a top. Hm. Either she or I is an anachronism – and I’m not hip enough to know which.

  5. sillipitti says:

    I think its a scheme for selling hankies! And Ginjoint–you’re not “hip” enough? Har!

  6. Dale says:

    *bookmarks the codes* Nice one, Ian!

  7. Alex K says:

    Hanky colours. The language of flowers, the armamentarium of Victorian silverware, of heraldry, of school ties. Sheesh.

    Yet another guild with secret handshakes and passwords, in- and out-groups. Yet another occasion for someone with a £50 haircut to hiss at you as you walk past.

    How fearful we are of difference, of rejection. It’s not just timorous humanity: Orchids and pollinator wasps, ducks and drakes, have their implausibly frilled and corkscrewed genitalia; in every species, the Prince searches (oddly enough, it’s he who has the glass-slipper vagina) for the single perfectly phallic Cinderella-foot. Warning! Warning! Only the pre-selected ideal mate need apply! IF YOU AIN’T (S)HE / DON’T TALK TO ME!

    And yet improvisational flair and verve can turn surprises into undreamt-of delights.

    You want to know what I do in the sack, in the alley behind the bar, spraddled across the back seat of your car down the farm road with the comet blazing overhead? Buy me a drink, let’s talk, let’s see where we want to take things. Maybe even if I don’t do your favourite twattwiddle for just anybody, I’ll do it for you.

  8. BrooklynPhil says:

    Very Cool Obama as a coop member! I can’t imagine W in a bookstore, let alone being a member of a coop (though several sources say he reads a lot).

    On the sign in the bookstore window it says the store “Congratulates Long time customer and Sem. Coop Member… ”
    What’s Sem? anybody guess/know?

  9. Ellen O. says:

    The Sem. stands for Seminary.

    More information at “”

  10. judybusy says:

    I love the lettering on the sign! I’m still floating on his election, even with all the anti-gay stuff goin’ on. Then I read AB’s story about a cop and three ministers walk into a bookstore…. 😉

  11. --MC says:

    All the news about the new President makes me feel odd. The American public put an intellectual into the White House. How unlikely is that? He reads poetry! He writes poetry! He uses a Mac! He collects (or collected) “Spider-Man” comics! ..

  12. I know, MC. Didja see the recent New Yorker therapy cartoon? The therapist is saying to the patient, “So you’re a Democrat, and you won. How do you feel about that?”

  13. Ian says:

    Judybusy – that sounds like the opening line of a joke – “So, a cop and 3 ministers walk into a bookstore …” Sadly I can’t think of a punchline!

  14. notpeanut says:

    Ian, I thought the same thing, and also couldn’t think of a punchline. An easier joke related to the discussion would be:

    George W. Bush walks into a bookstore.

    [end of joke]

  15. Maggie Jochild says:

    Jeez, the stuff buried in my memory. Need a colonic.

    Okay, in my crowd back in the early 1980s (Bay Area), white meant virgins or Victorian scenes, left meant top, and robin’s egg blue mean groups (more than two). We didn’t distinguish between front and rear pockets.

  16. Em says:

    George W. Bush walks into a bookstore and says “ow”

  17. judybusy says:

    It _was_ the beginning of a joke, and I am sure that some clever person around here will be able to come up with a punchline!

    Also, I went to our local gay marriage rally today in Minneapolis–about 2000 people showed up! I found out that some of our local legislators are going to introduce a bill to legalize marriage for all in our state. Hmmmm, maybe that marriage license the wife and I got on 12/29/07 in Quebec will be more than just a cool thing displayed in our home! Yes, it will, in my lifetime, yes it will.

  18. LondonBoy says:

    Maggie and I obviously mixed in different circles. In the early 80s in London, white meant masturbation, with the side you picked signifying whether you wanted to do it to another guy or have another guy do it to you. Ginjoint doesn’t specify whether the person involved was male or female: I’ve never heard of women using bandanas to indicate sexual preference, and in the 80s to do so would probably have been interpreted as some form of “aping male sexuality”, which would be extremely p.i.. Personally, I’d interpret a woman with such an accessory as simply making a fashion statement.

    By the way, do you have any idea how difficult it is to get a “robin’s egg blue” bandana? Over here robins lay eggs that are a much paler (that is, more white added to the tincture) or almost a pale blue-brown, with little red flecks, than the colours I see cited as robin’s egg blue in the USA. I remember we used to go birds-nesting when I was a child, as a couple of my friends collected birds eggs (take just one egg from the nest, blow it, and preserve the shell), and I don’t remember ever seeing a bright blue egg in a robin’s nest. Maybe it’s just the natural American desire for a showy lifestyle extending itself into the animal kingdom.

  19. Maggie Jochild says:

    It definitely was aping male sexuality — the code came to us from gay men. With some modifications, as you’ve indicated. For instanced, red meant on the rag or looking for someone on the rag, instead of cutting per se.

  20. ksbel6 says:

    Em: seriously, that made me laugh so hard!

    I gotta say, using hankies to let the world know exactly what type of sex one wants is way too forward for me. I met my partner 3 years before we had our first date. To say I like to take it slow is an understatement.

  21. Heidi says:

    Victorian scenes? There were enough people into that that it had a code? Never would’ve guessed that one.

  22. HGD says:

    I just got my hands on a copy of Essential DTWOF and I want to hug and kiss it. I have to say, I’m kind of glad that it doesn’t include everything, because I still feel special for having all of the other books.
    I love the cover so much, I want a poster of it. I had the idea to remake the Gossip painting with pictures of my friends a long time ago, and maybe this is the inspiration I need. If you come back to the downtown Denver Tattered Cover we’ll take you to the Mexican restaurant with that painting hanging in the women’s bathroom.

  23. Hiya, Hill God Destroyer! Thanks for the kind sentiment. I’d love to go to the women’s bathroom of the Mexican restaurant with you next time I’m in Denver.

  24. cybercita says:

    and speaking of our next president being an intellectual, i’m deep in the middle of his book, dreams from my father. he is a fantastic writer!

  25. Jana C.H. says:

    I remember wearing a colored hankie in the Eighties, but for me it was a joke. I wore it sometimes square dancing, and over 90% of the gay square dancers in Seattle were men, so I knew no one would take it seriously. Since I’ve always been tiny and weak I made it as ridiculous as possible by picking a color that involved one of the more forceful activities (No, I won’t say what it was). Looking back I realize that maybe not everyone realized that it was all my twisted sense of humor. That’s always been a problem with me. I try to keep it under control now that I’m older and more boring, but sometimes I miss the crazier, even-less-tactful Jana.

    By the way, to get the odd colors, you buy a quarter of a yard of fabric in the proper hue (quilting supply stores have practically everything) and make your own hanky. It’s not complicated sewing; you just need to cut and hem.

    Happy stitching!

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Oscar Wilde: Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

  26. bstngal says:

    For some reason I was expecting you to say, My ex Amy asked if that meant a well-read hooker and I said, no I’m not that lucky! Hee hee

  27. Okay, I didn’t get myself to the VT anti-prop 8 rally today. But I’ve been getting this stream of email reports from Rex Wockner about various massive demonstrations around the country. Wanda Sykes came out at the rally in Las Vegas! Here’s the audio. I’ve only ever seen her on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” but she’s awesome.

  28. Holly and I made a movie about garbage tonight. It’s on her blog.

  29. Ready2Agitate says:

    The anti-H8 rally in Boston today was AWESOME. Many thousands strong in the spit-rain. The hand-made signs were SO creative. (loved the gay man w/sign saying, “Do you REALLY want ME to marry your daughter?!” Cute.) But Rex Wockner’s pix remind me that it is WARM in San Diego – whoa.

    And the garbage video is my perfect nightcap. Holly Rae Taylor is the best. Reminds me that it’s totally OK *and* cool to be so picky with my garbage-separating, even when it drives others batty. 🙂

  30. ksbel6 says:

    so maybe prop 8 passing was what the GLBT community needed to get really mad? I heard that throughout the country there were 2 million protesters (even in some small towns).

  31. ksbel6 says:

    Oh, and without ruining the ending, I took my offspring and a friend of hers to see Madagascar 2 yesterday…it ends with a scene that is a nod to marriage equality.

  32. Jaibe says:

    I’ve been a member of that coop since 1982. There was an article in the NYT/IHT that name dropped all the places any U of C alum would know and I have to say that while I generally think the world is about to become a better place with some good Hyde Park mentality getting spread around the place, I’m fairly disturbed to be in the “in” group of that particularly conceited paper for the first time.

  33. notpeanut says:

    Ugh! Holly is a brave woman, sticking her hands into a trash can with as yet unknown trash in it (especially as we discover what’s in there). Cool video though:

    1) I love lapsang souchong too
    2) I didn’t know you could compost wax paper

  34. NLC says:

    I’m certainly not telling Holly anything she doesn’t already know perfectly well, but just to point out that for some of us –depending on where we live– there’s a separate, perfectly selfish reason for not leaving smelly foodstuffs in our trash: It will all but guarantee that it will get ripped to shreds by raccoons (or, as in at least one case, bears) while waiting to get picked up.

    Yet one more reminder from Nature that Composting is Good.

  35. Ginjoint says:

    In other news, from the Associated Press: America’s Healthiest City? Burlington, Vermont!,0,5113498.story

  36. Ian says:

    I was always told not to put meat on a compost heap for the fear of attracting rats! Or possibly foxes, although foxes are much cuter.

  37. Okay, this is Totally Egregious Product Placement, Ian, but check out these amazingly critter-proof compost bins that, um, my girlfriend happens to make.

    Lemme tell ya, I’ve “composted” for years, but that basically meant dumping my food scraps into a crappy plastic bin, laboriously bungie-cording the lid on, then marveling next day at how the racoons and bears had managed to undo it and eat everything inside.

    But these babies Holly makes? I have two of ’em, in different locations in my yard, and I’m throwing chicken bones and old cheese and all kinds of animal products in them all the time. I’ve got bears and raccoons and god knows what out there, but no one’s gotten into one of these compost bins yet.

  38. Heidi says:

    Our compost bin DID attract rats, unfortunately, and we didn’t even put meat in it. They were a pain to get rid of, but now we have a critter-proof bin. If I’d known about Holly’s bins a month or so ago, we could’ve bought one!

  39. Tom says:

    Hey, well, I’m bummed that I missed your Chicago visit (cooking for the co-op), but it was great to hear about your visit from one of my seminary friends (yes, one of the three) – and read about it on your blog no less! Please come back soon!


  40. Andrea says:

    Here is a photo of you signing!

    Thanks for coming. We loved your presentation.

  41. Joe In Akron, OH says:

    This reply is a bit late considering how the post has been up for at least a couple of days. However, I had to chuckle about the comment about the three ministry students from the Chicago Theological Seminary. I’ve been a member of Lutherans Concerned/North America ( since 1992 and have been on the national committee for the inclusion of Bi and Trans folks into our Reconciling in Christ (RIC) program since 2002. The RIC Bi and Trans committee met in 2003 in Chicago at one of the Seminary houses! Our committee chaplain at the time was the Dean of Rockefeller Chapel and she was the one who set up the meeting. This thankfully shows that there are indeed Christian clergypeople, seminarians, etc. who are GLBT or allied or otherwise “with it.”

  42. Ian says:

    Thanks for the tip on the compost bins AB! They do look raccoon, fox and rat proof, although I can’t see how they’d keep out a really hungry bear! (You have bears? Yikes!) They must be really strong!

  43. Mame says:

    Hi. This is apropos of nothing in the chat thread but I just wanted to pass this along. In spite of alot of bad news from various states on Election day, we are still gaining a little bit of ground, so don’t lose hope and keep up all your efforts..

    The relationship Web site has agreed to start providing male-seeking-male and female-seeking-female matching services by next March 31. The agreement settles a discrimination suit that the N.J. Division on Civil Rights filed in 2005 against ‘s eHarmony Inc., which was heavily promoted by Christian evangelical leaders and had held to a heterosexuals-only policy. The settlement says the company can set up a new or differently named site for same-sex matches but must use the same or equivalent technology, charge the same fees and offer the same quality and terms of service. eHarmony did not admit to liability, and its attorney Theodore Olson issued a statement making clear the company did not agree to offer gay matches willingly.

  44. Amyx says:

    There are many of us out here who could join the group “Pastors for DTWOF”!

  45. Antoinette says:

    My compost bin is like the machine they pick bingo numbers out of. It’s a ball on a frame with a crank on it. You take the lid off (kinda like one of those hamster exercise balls), put in your eggshells, coffeegrounds and what-have-you. You put the lid back on and give it a spin. I feel like a dung beetle when I use it, but I love the idea of not wasting stuff.

    As far as I can tell, it is raccoon- and possum-proof (I’m not too sure about the bears, though).

    Appropos of Prop 8, no one has ever explained to me in a way that I can understand why or to whom same-sex marriage is a threat. Why do they think granting legal rights to others takes something away from them?