Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Fireworks of several kinds

Anderson Cooper

Just for the record, the first big bang of the day occurred in a back yard in this neighborhood at 6:15 a.m. and there have been a couple of more distant explosions since. So it must be the 4th --- and yes, private detonations are illegal here, as they should be --- but not in Missouri. So there's always a supply of explosives at hand just down the road across the state line.

On the one hand, I have pleasant memories as a kid somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 of private pyrotechnic displays in the front yard of our neighbors down on the farm. On the other hand, I can point you toward a couple of lives permanently scarred by fireworks, so it's best to leave them to those trained to deal with them; in Chariton, the fire department.

The display here will be at 10 p.m. in Northwest Park --- visible from the hilltop I live on so there's not even the need to leave home. The parade begins at 1 p.m. Today's predicted high is 99 --- fireworks of another sort. I always preferred what now is Yocum Park as a fireworks site, but the neighbors there for some reason objected to the flaming shards that landed on their roofs.


There were few explosions in the media or otherwise last week when journalist, author and televsion personality Anderson Cooper confirmed in a widely circulated e-mail to blogger Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast, "the fact is, I'm gay." Probably because anyone who paid attention already knew that. And also because once the flat-earth fields in which  some religious traditions still play are left behind, the majority really doesn't care.

Previously, he'd sidestepped gracefully around the issue for 20 years in order, he said, to preserve elements of privacy in his personal life and to avoid becoming the news rather than a reporter of the news.

Insinuations that he was somehow ashamed of his sexual orientation seem to have been a factor in this shift in course as well as a conviction that he can make a difference by being frank: "I do think visibility is important, more important that preserving my reporter's shield of privacy." Even though homosexuality can be an additional hazard for those working in Islamic cultures or cultures heavily influenced by Christian missionaries. Good for him.

I like Anderson Cooper, who seems to have turned out quite well despite circumstances that most of us thankfully haven't had to deal with. For insight, see this lengthy 2011 program featuring Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. Stick it out to the end and you'll see Judy Collins perform "Amazing Grace."


The closet also can be a hazardous place, as 37-year-old Chad Upmeyer, of Ankeny, proved last week after being charged at Creston with indecent exposure and committing lascivious acts with a minor in a Creston park early Saturday.

Upmeyer would have received less attention if his mother weren't Iowa's (Republican) House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake, who has carried on for some years the political tradition established by her late father, also a long-term state representative, Delwyn Stromer.

And there is some doubt about the lascivious acts charge, since the youngest of the three males involved has been identified as 16 years old, recognized in Iowa as legally capable of giving his consent for consensual  carryings on. The other young man was 23.

None of this implies that there's anything appropriate about any 16-year-old's sexual involvement with someone of any sexual orientation 20 or so years his or her senior --- even if such relationships are a long-established heterosexual tradition, as nearly any family history file will demonstrate.

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