Wednesday, August 25, 2004


(On the demolition of the Norfolk & Western terminal)

After our candlelight vigil, we returned the next day
for an unauthorized tour of the Art Deco terminal
that will be razed to make way for a jail.
We could not find a room with a window
overlooking the past that we knew.
Like prisoners of the twentieth-first century,
we went from office to office, from floor to floor,
looking for memories undusted by asbestos,
stepping over wires ripped from walls and ceilings,
stubbing toes on clunky beige telephones
that were once the last word in style.
Faded green files lay on the floor like salmon
that had spawned obsolete data and died
of irrelevance, shamed by change.
Schedules beneath our feet lay at the bottom
of a tributary that had run dry
when America, captivated by cloverleafs,
sold its soul to the infernal combustion engine,
and trains stopped carrying passengers
in love with rail, and salesmen, servicemen,
fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts –
when Americans of every kind –
with faith in the future, reverence for the past,
with destinations as close as the town up the line,
or as remote as places existing only in the mind,
departed for the last time from the terminal.
Departing is such sweet sorrow.

Robert Forrey

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Straight Talk and Gay Bashing

What a week!

In an interview in Playboy Terrell Owens, a former teammate of Jeff Garcia, implied that the former quarterback of the San Francisco Forty-Niners was a homosexual. “Like my boy tells me,” Owens said about Garcia, “if it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, by golly, it is a rat.” Ricky Williams, the record-setting running back of the Miami Dolphins, is rumored to have retired prematurely because he is a homosexual who wants to do other things with the rest of his life than knock heads with Mike Ditka-like linebackers. And then New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey, the highest ranking elected official ever to do so, publicly admitted to being a homosexual. Actually, with a wife and children, McGreevey could qualify as bisexual, but just as 1/32 of Negro blood during the slave era made one legally a Negro, one homosexual grain of sand is enough to convince homophobes the whole beach is gay. And now John Welton has discovered that back in 1981 the Daily Times reported that Lee Scott, among other things, had allegedly been involved in a homosexual relationship.

I had not heard that before, but during the Recall Bauer campaign I heard more than once that the mayor was a homosexual. I wouldn’t mention this rumor if someone who is in a position to know, and who is not a political enemy of the mayor, had not confirmed that the rumors were true.

In the interest of full disclosure I’ll admit that I’m faculty advisor to the Gay and Straight Student Alliance at Shawnee State. I know the Bible condemns homosexuality, but that is one of the issues I don’t agree with the Bible on. I think the world would be a less hate-filled place without homophobia, but I’m not suggesting we should be tolerant of drug-dealing and political corruption, two of Portsmouth’s prevailing vices. What I am suggesting is that we should not think homosexuality has some inherent link with drug trafficking and political corruption. The vast majority of drug-dealers and corrupt politicians are heterosexual, but that does not make heterosexuality a vice.

It is to the credit of Welton and Scott that, in spite of their being the victims of a sleazy “ex-con” flyer in the Community Common, they did not sink to making Bauer’s sexuality an issue during the recall campaign. During that bitter campaign, I asked Scott about the Bauer rumors, and he said the sex life of the mayor, though no secret in Portsmouth, was not a relevant recall issue.

A homosexual relationship Scott allegedly had almost twenty-five years ago is even less relevant than his drug conviction almost twenty-five years ago. He readily admits he was guilty of trafficking, for which he expresses contrition. He may have to answer for being a Benedict Arnold and a sell-out, just as Bauer may have to answer for being a pawn of the corrupt Portsmouth powers-that-be, but Scott does not have to answer for his sex life any more than the ex-mayor does.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Legal Corruption

State investigators found nothing illegal in the city’s purchase of the Marting’s Building. That may be the case. Just because something is corrupt or unethical or unwise does not mean it’s illegal. The mayor may not have done anything illegal, but that does not mean he hasn’t facilitated the legal corruption that flourishes in Portsmouth. Because someone is un-indicted does not mean he is honest. Because someone is un-indicted does not mean he should not be recalled from office. Even in Portsmouth, we need to hold people who occupy public office to a higher standard than whether or not they are indictable.