On the Absurdity of It All …
An open essay for so many it’s hard to count them all — I shall need the fingers of a crowd for sure … like the many who applaud my piano music … anyway …
My dear Walquidia — Manny — Clifton – Yvette at Mt Sinai – HASA, HRA – who knows who else all? – Anyone in Arizona for sure — those evil people –egad. To everyone else in this vast system so diligently trying to assist me — which all of whom you are free to share this email – which is an essay by an erudite fellow at the same level as you in life. I hide nothing, and what you might learn about me is beyond your current understanding. I have been a public person for nigh on 45 years. I boldly speak out where few others dare to go. I do greatly appreciate your efforts. I am indeed confused about this all. Not in the sense I don’t understand it – nor addled or befuddled – oh no – quite the contrary – I see it all so clearly as a Kafkaesque farce! You all are so charmingly convoluted as to confound any rational fellow.
We all live last I knew in a society where the “seven bad words you can’t say on TV” of George Carlin fame are uttered ceaselessly in every corner of the culture from gutter punk to NBA stars, to comedians and radio hosts, to Netflix shows and from the mouths of presidential contenders, from people in your very halls to screeching out car windows in Harlem where I live now. Do you know this comedy routine? Do you know these 7 very bad words? Short Anglo-Saxon 4 letter words – but 2 or three a syllable or two more. And quite a few other words – all uttered with wild abandon. Are you unaware of these words? Are you so delicate that even Queen Victoria might have said “Mein Gott! Ist du verklempt und verrucht?” – The gal didn’t really speak English. Are the 7 bad words so offensive to you that your delicate souls might chastise me for uttering one of them in jocular discussion with a fellow I enjoy every much? Even if he did dye his hair “Trump Orange” to what? “offend me”? Because our crass president is a dolt? I even asked him – in a flirtatious way – “are you mad?” – and if this sort of camaraderie between a member of the club – not a client – a member – is a problem – then the world gone mad.
I want to be clear – Clifton is a wondrous fellow – he seems to be grasping who and what I am. I enjoy every moment of my time with him – and with all of you really, mostly (more about that below.) But if the mere utterance on one of the 7 bad words about some confounded aspect of NYC and the vaunted “System” I am stuck in – is troubling to the fellow, well, then – perhaps something should change. Yes? It’s not going to be me. Find a more stout and resolute fellow to handle my “case.”
I mean – I don’t want to bother anyone. But to be chastised about the mere use of a word or two that permeate the public culture of this nation is just – absurd. It’s a bother? Really? Well, I apologize for my many shortcomings. Well, still, I’m not sure WTF to say. Have any of you seen facebook? The many memes there with the F word and so many others? Have you not seen the articles in many a publication using these words? What then are you reading? This concerns me – your lack of knowledge about modern America. Are you all that unaware of modern Rap Music – Rap Crap as I call it? Are you all so sensitive to a mere word of a 1000 years provenance?
You are scared of a word that was used by Northern Republican Civil War soldiers in letters back to their wives while they were ready to die to free the Democrat’s Slaves? – Really? You can’t be serious! No – just no. And I am sure you are all Democrats, oh yes. Oh, don’t fear – Faboo – Facebook as I so endearingly call it – has pronounced me an anti-gay Christian Fundamentalist. Really! It’s amazing. I can’t even reference a Queer Studies Program at a modern university without a warning or ban. Most amazing indeed. That I fought the word “queer” for all my life seems to just be irrelevant to you. That’s amazing too. But I am not for Republicans – they don’t like gay men, seen? I have argued rather nationally with them. I am libertarian – for Liberty 🙂 oh yes.
I want you to know that Facebook – the premier social network on earth – bans me from using the word “Queer” – I can’t even reference Queer Studies programs at Harvard – where various professors hold courses on the use of the F-word – so delicate you all apparently are – I dare not use it in this email. Eh, maybe I will! But I will point out to you that in my life I experienced NINE bar raids – where police lined me up and checked my pockets while waving their nightsticks into my face while calling me far worse than “fucking queer” – and this was legal! And many were African and Hispanic American- trashing a good Czech fellow. Amazing, eh? And the NINE times I was fired from jobs with an invective you would blanch at … using so many short 4 letter Anglo-Saxon words that one wonders where such damsel women could know them from. And this now today in our culture in this nation – bothers you? Really? Color me – just flummoxed. I think it’s near taupe or mauve in tone.
You can’t conceivably be serious. Apparently yet, so you are. Good enough. I apologize to the fellow who has heard the word countless times in his life – without uttering a word of complaint – and now this time – is once too much. I am sure NEVER has he uttered the word – so Godly Perfect is the fellow – I bow at such abstinence. None of you I am sure – have ever uttered the word – so pure and pristine and perfect are you all. Puritans upon my case. Well, that’s going to be an issue – I am not fond of Puritans.
Is me being a “White Czech Caucasian Male” an issue to him? I must ask! After all – in our times of ethnic purity and consolation and consoling – I should know. I’m not “white” – I am a tawny yellow pinkish reddish fellow – I am also not “Caucasian” because no European “white” people come from there. The steppes of Central Asia? Sure. No one quite knows where Czechs came from – I am 100% Czech – for a provable 600 years. (well, except that one French guy Pierre Toutcee, a probable deserter from Napoleon in 1815, but, that’s deep family history.) Before that? Eh, who knows – but not the Caucasian Mountains which are along the border between Iran, Georgia, Ossetia, Chechnya and other such lands – where no Czechs ever were. I am rather miffed at this asking Americans about their ethnic heritage gives everyone a geographical place name – and we white guys are white – what? This is maddening. To whom do I lodge my complaints about the bigotry?
I also seem to keep getting identified with people of no relation, like oh say, transgendered. But to be clear – I have no troubles with F-word using fine fellows with orange hair gasp cultural appropriation … complaining about Czech fellows. As my mother said decades ago to my legal guardian, a Black Woman from Guyana … “Just you remember – the NAACP stands for the National Association of Czech People” – and I can play the ethnic game well – trust me. And I, like all Americans, you all included – utter the F word – DO NOT tell me you don’t – don’t you dare. It would be lying.
Sorry, but well, I am who I am …. I shall now endeavor to explain me. A fellow who can explain me better is Carl. You know how to reach him. He knows me like you can’t – and even like he doesn’t know the extent – but more than enough. He will explain “did I ever tell you about the male manikin Hlavac put up on the wall in bikini underpants and endowed?” – Y’all got no clue. But – for you to help me – to serve me better – to move me to a better place – now back in NYC after 30 years away in an astonishing life of wonder. I am trying to help you help me – for I am not anything like you ever encountered before. I know it. But you must realize this too. I don’t want to be mothered, or tended, nor taken care of. I just want a house of my own. Where I can shut the door and finally be in peace. Separated from the very active and involved life I have led. A life trashed in Arizona by earnest social service workers who lied about me – to the point of police at my door – and me writing a book about it – “Kafka Lives.”
I have waltzed into your life. And you must wonder “why?” And your instinct — is to wonder what is wrong with me? Your every question is about drugs and booze and harm and jail and the destruction of lives. Yes, I am well aware of this dimension of our bizarre nation – and bureaucrats galore. It’s an unholy fixation as far as I am concerned. But there’s little I am going to do about it. Though I could – I am quite a fellow of action. But I am tired. I was told I would die over and over again. I still trundle along. And I find myself in this situation at the behest of family and friends who told me – “New York City is where you ought to be.”
Great – so 3 months ago I came back to the city in which I was born and lived and went to college and worked as a vastly skilled Journeyman Union Printer from the subbasements to the 105th floor of WTC Tower II where my Jewish FDNY brother-in-law was last seen on the 31st floor going up – he’s in every documentary – you know him.
Still – you all are obsessed with negatives, and so blithely tell me “we have to ask … “ and I am getting tired of telling you “stop this!” So I suggest – you stop asking – and I will stop getting ornery. I find it insulting and demeaning. I am told I should not have to put up with such things. Well, there you are doing it yourselves to me.
For I am not part of any of that.
Who I am is to put it as politely as I can, but yes, as bluntly as I am prone to do — one of the most extraordinary men you could ever encounter in your lives. And my dear Lady Walquidia — I want you to spread this message. I am someone to be reckoned with – not because I am full of “it” – but because I did too much good as to amaze anyone. I can prove my life. Someone will write a biography or two of me yet!
To start off with — my name — Jim Hlaváč is a Czech sentence “jim hlaváč” — yep, right out of the dictionary. Two Czech words — of the language I speak well, because I am the 2nd born grandson in America — from 4 Czech immigrant grandparents who barely spoke English. As my grandpa said to Boy Scout Troop 52 in Baldwin Long Island – after I was beginning to be bullied and I said to him “to je hrozny” – it’s terrible – he stood up and said “you vill nut vuck vit mein grandzohn” in a thick Czech accent you can’t know … for I was so OUT I was never “in” any damn closet. I am history. I am a magical person. He and my grandma said “Naše dívni“ – “Our different one.” All my vast family has known I was gay since I was oh, 13, 14. I didn’t say “I’m a homosexual” – oh no – I said “oh my lordy, is that guy cute!” My grandma then told the story of Jiři, a young fellow she knew as a girl – and he had hung himself – for he was dívni – and she said “no one will do this do my Jimmy” – you may not call me that, you ain’t my grandma. In the most magical gay bar on earth, the Ninth Circle – the coat check gal Millie Riesova – a refugee from the Prague Spring – we spoke in Czech – and all were sore amazed – when they asked her “Do you understand him?”
“Ja,” she said “he zpeaks Czech verry vell” – And I was added to the VIP list of every club in Manhattan – before you were born – as “Special Guest of Millie of the Ninth Circle.”
Those little marks on top of the last two letters — are strange, yes? well, á — maybe not so much. But it is not at all like the Spanish one — nope.
In Czech is makes the vowel longer – so — it’s HLA-vaa — that’s a head — a Hlavá is your head.
The “áč” is for “big” — like “…ito” and “…ie” is in Spanish and English for small — Czech has a “big” – and smalls like few can grasp — many smalls — tinier and tinier – ček, ič, ičky, ičku, ičkičku … and more – every tinier – čekičkyčku … that makes the Spanish “…ito” seem so big. Spanish and English don’t have a “big” suffix.
So – Hlaváč is a “big head” – yep! The name was mostly given out in the 1400s to the village printer family. I come from 6 known and 7 or 8 probable generations of Czech Printers. My father, his father, his father – on and on – all printers – I started leaning the family trade when I was 10 years old.
Big head — boss, stubborn, big cheese, full of himself — anywhere in English “big head” might be used in any way — that’s Hlaváč. yep
and I am told in writing by the many fine and well meaning organizations I have had to acquaint myself with as I rejoin NYC — My ethnicity is very important. As it is to me. As I have joked endlessly — my Czechosity is amazing.
My ethnicity is to be respected — and given honor — and my name is to be pronounced as I wish.
Why — mužu mit přeložitniki jako ja chci == I can have translators as I want … I will not put that burden upon your limited resources. I am almost sure you’d have to hire me as your Czech translator for me to translate my Czech. We are very rare, I’m sure.
I will now say — I don’t intend to inflict upon you all the correct pronunciation of Hlaváč as my own cousins in the former communist Czech lands can say with quite some ease. HLA is simply beyond your ability. However, for a good fee, my freelancing self would be glad to give Hlessons ….
But — if pushed — I will so demand — and strike up a complaint about Ethnic Heritage Discrimination.
My first name – Jim — I like it. Use it. Spread the word. I could have been named Vaclav, Ladislav, Brodumil, Vratislav, Bohumil, Josef, Vladislav, Zdenek, Ctibor — and any of another dozen or two common Czech boy’s names
my parents Kamila and Karel — opted for something more American at the height of the Cold War.
On the very day I was born – before I was “James” – the hospital in which I was born – where my mom got her training as a nurse — and worked — and got a free baby birth — their paperwork — spells my Hlast name wrong.
I have had much merry with this reality — all my life.
So – on to “jim.” — this word — what does it mean in Czech? It means “I eat.” – yep. “Jist” the verb “to eat” — said like “yeast” in English.
“jim” “jiš” “ji” “jite” “jeji” and “jime” — I eat, you eat (singular) he, she, it eats, you eat (plural/polite) they eat and we eat.
just like in Spanish — or any European or African language — all languages are conjugated as such — only English stands out alone among 6,000 languages and dialects on earth — except Louisiana Cajun, which uses the English system of “Frankly, we don’t give a damn”
and so — my dear lady and all – my name — literally means “I eat big head.”
And I am a cranky old gay bastard — and I make no bones about it.
I was the Temporary Honorary Consul of the Czech and Slovak Republics to Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina —
both of the ambassadors – the mayor of Prague — and all the news agencies of the 2 lands — joked with me about my name — in Czech and English — and the two very different connotations they denote.
I am a world renowned Czech and Slovak scholar — for I wrote a seminal historical work — “A Hidden Impact: the Czechs and Slovaks of Louisiana from the 1720s to today”
I am also the creator of the Louisiana Crawfish Farmers, Alligator Farmers, Plantation Homes, African-American Museum associations. I also created the Cajun and Creole food industries. And the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. The first statewide music directory …
and an Indigenous People’s Casino in Marksville — where I am a honorary member of the Tunica-Biloxi People — and ran their Pow Wow Website for 15 years.
and so — I really do NOT like endless questions about imagined drugs, abuse, prison, homelessness, alcoholism, nor gender confusion — and the vast horde of negatives which seem to permeate the modern — what? health care system? — Agencies? — the nurses — doctors – hospitals – it’s endless. Why are you all so obsessed with negatives I do not know.
But if I can choose my pronouns — and gender …
I can choose which questions might be asked of me …
I do not wish at this point in my amazing life to press the issue …
It’s really not my business – except to say – clearly — stop it — no one had better ask me these questions again.
if I am allowed to choose which pronouns I like – and which gender — I surely can like to not be asked such absurd questions.
Without any modesty — and with plenty of proof — I will tell you and all — I am one of the most gifted and accomplished old gay bastards you could ever have met.
My Hlast Name is amazingly weird — and so easy to find on Amazon for my 18 books so far — more to come ….
at youtube for the 285 videos of my music I created — and the life and arts of my life as the pictures set to them will show …
My 700 paintings are not quite that known — nor are my repeated appearances in the press of the Czech lands and Louisiana – and the USA on TV, Radio, Press, Blogs etc —
my position in Phoenix and New Orleans and Baton Rouge and Mazatlan and Prague – will stun you …
my creation of Modern Louisiana — is a story beyond which anything I can say here will tell you — or for you to believe.
And I am a groundbreaking Old Gay Bastard — who took on the Christian Ring Wing Tea Party Republican blogosphere — in ways amply proven but stunning to behold – and I was the Ring Leader of an unauthorized and attempted to be prohibited public protest on July 4th, 1986 – when me and a few of my closest 10,000 gay male friends wandered into the frolic of the 100th anniversary of Slečna Svoboda – Miss Liberty – out there in the harbor – and were met by water cannons and a line of police horses with fellows in riot gear that was amazing. Made the NY Post! “Queers Invade Lower Manhattan”
And in later years, as I told these resolutely anti-gay — and very anti “L(g)BTISAQPGNC consortium” whackos – the CRWTPR “community” websites – “gay is good” – and got published. I am the ONLY such man in this nation who has done this. One reason I do not take kindly to be asking if I have been in jail. I have been to the Mountain Top!
Like Frank Kameny said all those years ago. “Gay is good” … I have followed in his footsteps ….
Mr. Kameny – an American Rights for Gay Men pioneer — is of Czech heritage. His name means “stones” — oh yes. Metaphors galore there too …
I was defended on the National Stage by a well known anti-gay crusader – “Listen to Mr. Hlavac, he is rational on this.” It was the only time that this website, American Thinker, ever defended a contributor on the day his article on an astonishingly complex and contentious matter was published – I am someone. Nationally. But – well, a bit broke – I spent all my money after so many doctors told me I would die.
And all I want now – is an apartment – in the city where this all started – where I helped set up the job you hold today. You are employed – all of you – because of what I did back then – there. Think about that. You live in a house – paid for by my effort. Sweet, eh?
And when I was 20 years old — I met Harvey Milk. I was drinking buddies with Rock Hudson. I was friends with the Village People in the Village. I know several Stonewall Veterans.
Oh, my dear lady — there is so much more. So much. I smuggled illegal Rock’n’Roll into Communist Czechoslovakia in the 1970s … I must have an FBI/NSA/CIA file so thick it would astonish even me.
My letter to Jimmy Carter about Gay Men in 1978 — is in his archives. I would vouchsafe to say — I am the only cranky 20 year old to ever get a letter from the White House in those times about the issue of my existence. Before “it” – before GRID – before HIV and AIDS – before the plague – I wrote to the president of these United States – and said “it’s time to take care of gay men in this nation” and he had his senior adviser respond to me. I am history. I was well before all of it. And now – I am at the end of it. And I expect respect – and quite some leeway in whatever you think you are all going to do for a guy like me – you can’t comprehend.
And my fellows – who I am prone to call “a few of my favorite ninnies” – and 1000s of times I referred to as “Sissy Smoochers” across the vast internet – oh, the term is out there – oh yes … have always marveled at my gung ho damn the torpedoes attitude about it all. I am the ONLY gay guy to extol the virtues of gay men to never have his posts deleted from the Family Research Council and American Family Values websites – I am that decent and rational. To hear today from anyone at the GMHC that I helped set up – decades ago – that I am less than decent and rational – is obnoxious.
And so — yes — I am cranky. I admit it. And I have my reasons. None of which are related to anything you could ever imagine.
There’s so much more I hesitate to even mention my selling 1.2 million poinsettias across the Deep South in 1998 🙂
And now your mission is to assist me in getting an apartment – so I might find solace – instead of being hounded by absurdity. Such as none of you pure of heart innocent folks ever use the F-word in common conversation. Don’t make me laugh my tuchus off. Thank you very much.
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