Tag Archives: history

HUSH, HUSH SWEET CHARLATON

Essayist & Author
Marguerite Quantaine

My late sister, Kate, believed in truth. She thought she recognized it, practiced it, and that it would prevail. But I’m no longer sure truth ever was, or will be — nor am I certain of it’s prevalence in society today.

Because all truth stems from whatever is written as fact, and even the most inspired of wordsmiths are writers-at-soul choosing multiple elements of speech, edicts, merged thoughts, external influence, doubt in some entities rarely balanced by confidence in others, and a necessity for meticulous punctuation in order to advance beliefs, all the while knowing the end result will be subjected to individual interpretations using numerous mediums regardless of the author’s intent.

Enter our willingness to believe whatever we’re being told and — worse yet — our parroting of those narratives, as if each utterance was an original thought from which we’ll eventually justify any errors of our ways by citing a misdirected faith in the charisma of charlatans dressed in fleece.

Now, don’t get me wrong by taking me out of context.

I harbor no objection to people having  faith. It’s often a convenient, efficient, popular, time-honored tradition that’s easier to embrace than most are willing to admit, and necessary to the survival of even the unfittest.

What I question is our inclination to believe the worst in others, as if in doing so we’ll esteem ourselves in the presence of those whose alliance we crave.

What I find dubious is our rallying for the very rights we join school cliques, and group cliques, and office cliques, and organization cliques, and awards cliques to deny to those unwilling to join our cliques.

What I cannot fathom is the instant exclusion of those we’ve never met and never spoken to based solely on what we’ve heard from a friend, or associate about the stranger.

Think of how many times you’ve united against bullying in our schools over the past decade, assailing the abusiveness of name-callers as detriments to society.

And yet, nearly half of us voted for a name-caller to lead us and participated in the notion of locking up a person who has never been arrested, booked, tried, or convicted of a crime in her lifetime.

In a patriarchal society — which ours is — I can understand how misogyny can flourish among males.

But the implausibility of misogyny is such that I can’t understand how it thrives among females.

Except, maybe I do?

Perhaps it’s because every news anchor, commentator, journalist, politician, and figurehead over the past year failed to question (what I’m inclined to recognize as) the ecclesiastical elephant in the room.

I first felt the enormity of it’s presence forty years ago when I refused to attend the wedding of my brother.

At the time I’d been in love with my Elizabeth for seven years, a woman who’d not only been crucial to saving my life after a catastrophic car crash, but had eagerly, earnestly, and single-handedly tended to my long-term recovery for five of those seven years.

Nevertheless, the invitation to my brother’s nuptials didn’t list Elizabeth’s name, nor did it include her as a plus-one option.

As a result, I declined the invitation.

Now before you feel any politically correct indignation on my behalf, please don’t.

Remember, it was 1977. Homosexuality had only recently been declassified as a mental disease, while me and mine were still labelled by law as felons at risk of being arrested, indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced as such. We were social misfits. Deviants. A cause for embarrassment.

Even now there remains places in America where being homosexual is still regarded as a detainable offense, though not prosecutable; municipalities where dissident profiling can prevent police from responding to assaults, or delay ambulances from arriving in a timely manner; where medical treatment is subpar, and getting away with causing a death could go unnoticed, or be ignored altogether.

(It’s here you should take umbrage.)

But I digress.

My brother’s wedding was viewed as a big deal because, of six children (all of us in our 30s) only two were married, and the likelihood was that his union would mark the last chance for my mom to ever again be a mother-of the intended.

So, even though it was discreetly discussed and agreed that my Elizabeth should have been welcomed, I was demonized for my decision not to go.

That is, right up until the portion of the actual ceremony where the bride agreed to obey her husband. It caused my sisters and mother to storm through our front door several hours later echoing each other, “Thank God you weren’t at the wedding, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, oh my God, thank you for not coming! You would have caused an uproar. Even we nearly did!”

It’s true. They knew me well. I’ve never taken kindly to being submissive to, or even particularly respectful of male authority. At very least, the sacred pledge to obey would have made me gasp conspicuously, if not trigger a knee-jerk audible “No-o-o!”

Which returns us to those questions unwritten by journalists, unspoken by news anchors and commentators, unsought by pollsters, unaccounted for in election booths, unstatesmanlike in Congress, unaddressed by constituencies, unadulterated, unanticipated, unalterable, unapologetic, unassuaged, unappeasable, unsettlingly, unstudied, and (perhaps) unassailable, untouchable, untenable and even unrighteous in the final analysis. 

But not unaskable.

Does a woman’s pledge to obey her husband require being dutiful to his choice when casting her ballot?

And, if so, does that mean America has become a Silent Theocracy?

#   #   #
.
Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist and author.
Her novel, IMOGENE’S ELOISE : Inspired by a true-love story
is available on AMAZON, in paperback , and on Kindle.
.
.
Note: Please share this on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and add your thoughts by selecting Leave A Message here. I’m all eyes and heart. 
.
.

I’M EATING CROW HERE

#7 ad

I remember when the first articles were published by researchists revealing that hot dogs were dangerously bad for us (I stopped eating them), as was peanut butter (I cut back), and eggs (I wasn’t dissuaded), and donuts (get outta town!).

Much like telling those who bet on the horses that races are rigged, or lottery hopefuls that the odds are stacked against them, or fans that an event is sold out, or kids younger that seven that there is no Santa Claus — learning the dire details involving comfort foods did more harm than good, because (regardless of fact accuracy and well-intended truths) it robbed the partakers of the enjoyment of doing what wasn’t necessarily wise, or profitable.

And that’s about all my 15 hour post, And The Winner Is … Not Me, accomplished. It exposed something that everyone probably knew, but no one wanted to admit, because the happy habit was universally shared, and the group addiction did no harm.

I was wrong.

I apologize.

I took the long way down a wary road best navigated by denial, when only the end result was required reading.  That, in essence, is this:

The finest award a writer can be given is the feeling of joy that comes from writing a worthy book. It’s incomparable. It can’t be taken away. It’s what makes you a winner.

And, should your book receive a good review, or is given as a gift, or mentioned to friends, or ordered by a library, or suggested to a book club, or introduced at meetings, or touted at functions, or buzzed about on buses, or pondered by strangers, or discussed by family members, or serves as dining repartee  — well, that’s the mustard on the hot dog, the jelly on the Jif,  the sun in the sunny side up, and the icing on the donut.

Gobble, gobble.

#     #     #

Copyright by Marguerite Quantaine 2015


Whether you agree or disagree, please
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS BY SELECTING: REPLY.
I’m all eyes and heart.


http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00O6BOB2M/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

PLEASE DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK
without first taking advantage of the 7 chapter free read
to determine the caliber and worthiness of content.

After that, you’re on your own.

NOW THRU VALENTINE’S DAY : $1.99
At the KINDLE nearest you.
(Also available in paperback.)

SIGNING OFF

Me, Minus 33 Years

Me, Minus 33 Years

My face popped up in the right hand corner of the screen as guest anchor, Peter Jennings, introduced the closing story on ABC World News Tonight one Friday in 1981. I’d authored an oversized, limited edition reference book under the Americanized spelling of my last name and it somehow engendered enough interest to garner a mention on national television.

I look back at it as pure luck now because, as any author (past or present) will confirm, writing a book can be exhilarating — but marketing it is exhausting.

Back then, individualized press releases were expected to be composed and printed to accompany personally written letters, each snail-mailed at considerable expense to those listed in Editor & Publisher Yearbook nationwide. Even for a book as minor as mine, the effort required to sell it seemed mammoth compared to the time it took to write. That made getting featured during prime time on ABC with Peter Jennings equal to an eagle feather in a yarmulke.

The follow-up was a headline and shout-out in the Sunday New York Times — not by a book reviewer, but by the much respected and often feared antiques and arts columnist, Rita Reif. I’d caught a wave, did some appearances, signings, a few more interviews, and a stint on PM New York, all culminating in a monthly column syndicated in a dozen trade publications for a couple years. It was a flattering, generally enjoyable, often tiresome experience that I was grateful ended after it contributed to resurrecting a fad that others were tooth-and-claw dedicated to treating as a full time endeavor.

Because, regardless of how glamorous it may sound or look, that’s what even miniscule fame and fleeting fortune boils down to; an eagerness and need to become the product by foregoing (and oft times, forgetting) the person.

I was never willing to put anything before my personal life.

I’m still not.

Fast forward to the present when everyone can be an author, cyberspace has taken over the vast amount of book promotion, cable and YouTube have obliterated the allure of network news, and most the magazines and newspapers in which my name, or byline once appeared are history.

In a time when Amazon gives every author a one-time-only opportunity to write a description of one’s novel for access by book reviewers nationwide — and even after being reminded that the 25,000 word maximum description must entice those reviewers to choose my novel over all the other hundreds of cyberspace book releases bombarding them every week — I chose to submit just 35 words about Imogene’s Eloise in free verse form:

“This is a history you haven’t read elsewhere,
about people you don’t realize you know,
containing phenomena you’re unaware of,
within a love story you’ve never heard,
that has an ending you can’t possibly predict.”

Thank you, Peter Jennings.

And, rest in peace.

# # #

This essay is copyright by Marguerite Quantaine © 2014.

°

I’m genuinely interested in
what you’re thinking and feeling.
PLEASE SELECT REPLY
to add your comments here.

°

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0940548011/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_kOpBub0DCT8E8

DIVIDED WE (STILL) STAND

Ergo, E Q U A L I T Y

Ergo, E Q U A L I T Y

Gays are scary people.

Not the gay next door who provides for his parents and carpools his nieces to day care. Or the fellow who fixes my car. Or the lady who cuts my hair.

It’s only the media-hyped homosexual that makes me cringe and withdraw. Those clusters of erotic exhibitionists captured on camera for our viewing displeasure. Scurrilous straights cause me discomfort. But vulgar gays make me ashamed.

Harvey Fierstein has expressed impatience with people like me. He once called us “leeches” sitting silent on the sidelines while proud gays pave the way to equal rights for the majority of us “slackers.”

I like Harvey a lot. I admire and respect him for his courage and integrity. I think he’s a superb actor and writer and a fine role model. He gives gays spirit.

But I don’t think he understands that most gays don’t want to be enslaved by the duplicities of straight society. We don’t want to clone our ethics, or edit our emotions, or conform our lives to any corrupted concept of happily ever after.

If I could sit down with Harvey Fierstein, I’d tell him I’ve been hopelessly in love with the same woman for 43 years. But we won’t wed, not even though we work to support those who choose to. Not even if the Supreme Court makes marriage rights a reality.

Because, for most of my generation, love is our legacy. Not marriage. We aren’t joined by dowry, arrangement, prestige, or necessity. We aren’t bound by license, law, or nuptial contract. We don’t stay together for the sake of religion, parents, children, social stigma, economics, or expediency.

We’re connected only by love. Since time began, it’s has been the code of our culture. And, since love is holy, what we have is sacred.

So, I’d assure Harvey that – even though the alleged “gay agenda” seeks to stir us into the debauchery of that marriage melting pot – wedlock isn’t the priority of our majority.

It isn’t even our dream. Our culture is just more valuable, valiant, imaginative, romantic and hopeful than that.

I’d tell Harvey we dream of the day when gay men, who have the highest rate of disposable income in America, stop wasting their resources on purchasing the promise of eternal youth and utilize it to create safe havens in the heartland instead.

We imagine gay doctors, nurses, therapists and health care officials joining forces to build medical centers. Gay lawyers combining talents to establish legal firms. Gay singers and comedians backing gay-owned-and-operated restaurants and nightclubs. Gay athletes creating gay health complexes. Gay financiers building banks. Gay actors starting theaters. Gay educators forming charter schools. Gay religious leaders developing denominations that embrace gay people by interpreting ancient text in the spirit of divine law.

Our desire is to cultivate our culture, not to abolish it.

To elevate, not to assimilate.

To create, not to copy.

To lead, not to follow.

To record our history, not to erase it.

I’d question Harvey as to the purpose of new laws, when the constitutional law of equality has not yet been upheld for all Americans – guaranteeing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable.

I’d wonder aloud why we continue to chase after a society that doesn’t rise to the talent and tenderness of our own.

Why we insist on being accepted by those who haven’t earned our respect.

Why the blessing of love isn’t regarded as its own reward.

And why we must diminish the sanctity of ourselves by kowtowing to those who quietly curse us.

Finally, I’d extend my arms in friendship to Harvey Fierstein, asking his pardon on behalf of all (perceived) leeches marching proudly, quietly, differently, but wholeheartedly beside him.

Because I think he understands we hold these truths to be self-evident:

That cowards follow the crowd.

That courage follows the heart.

That virtue makes equality inevitable.

And, that straights are scary people – too.

# # # #

This freshly edited, updated essay by Marguerite Quantaine first appeared in the St. Petersburg Times nine years ago. (Copyright by Quantaine © 2004 • 2013)

Please select REPLY to share your thoughts on love, marriage, and equality here.

I’m all eyes and heart.

IMMORTAL KISS

Marguerite Quantaine

Marguerite Quantaine

Eighty days after Bobby Kennedy kissed me he was killed. I don’t know why it happened — either the kiss, or the killing. Each time, he was caught up in the joy of the moment. Both times, he got whisked away.

As happenstance had it, Kennedy was frolicking with friends in the back seat of an inconspicuous car crawling down Fifth Avenue when he spotted me — a young, vibrant, redheaded Breck-replica in a Kelly green, worsted wool coat, weaving through revelers lining Fifth Avenue for the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

I was pugnacious. The flock in front of the 666 building was so sardined, it turned my two-minute sprint to the Primeburger into a twenty-minute tussle.

Hearing the crowds crescendo as a car of paraders slowed to a stop behind me, I poised myself to push through an advancing pocket of people.

Suddenly, someone grabbed my elbow and pivoted me into his arms, gently tilting my chin upwards before planting a quick kiss. His thicket of hair reflected like flax in the midday sun veiling two hazel, sleep stripped eyes conferring a dilatory blink – not unlike that of a tomcat purring thanks.

Then, just as instantaneously, he was hustled back to his locus in that long procession trekking towards his untoward future.

“You’re never going to guess what happened to me,” I nudged my friend, Marion, during the elevator ride up to our offices at Fuller & Smith & Ross the next morning. “Bobby Kennedy kissed me.”

“Ohmigod, you gotta be kidding!” Marion gasped. “What’d’ya do?”

“Do? What could I do? I was stunned. That’s all.”

“Did anyone see?”

“Well, yes. I guess. How could they not?”

“I mean, anyone here. Because it might not set well. Him being in the running now and all.”

That hadn’t occurred to me. “It was just a kiss,” I dismissed.

“Yeah,” Marion nodded. “But Bobby Kennedy for cripes sake. Who gets kissed by a Kennedy?”

“Who doesn’t?” I scoffed.

Fuller & Smith & Ross is an advertising agency footnoted in history. As Manager of Purchasing & In-House Printing I’d been privy to a confidential meeting detailing departmental procedures for handling the 21 million dollar account we’d secured two months earlier. My first assignment was to have business cards engraved for our new client. The inscription: Richard Nixon, 577 Chestnut Ridge Road, Wood Cliff Lake, New Jersey 07675.

Upon completion and delivery to his Park Avenue address, Nixon graciously sent me an autographed card. Seeing his inked signature on that ivory colored Bristol board proved pretty heady stuff to me — a small town transplant and political novitiate.

I was young, eager, and altruistic back then; a cookie cutter copy of that last generation of Americans who hadn’t a true clue as to what went on inside our nation’s governing bodies or outside our autonomous lives.

So, while I excelled at my job of vetting vendors, overseeing offset runs, getting offices decorated, equipment updated, carpets cleaned, prototypes printed, supplies stocked, and locks on doors changed whenever a colleague left — it wasn’t until I was entrusted with the billing of telephone lines linked to a network of chameleon operatives that I started to sink with the sinking-in.

“Cause and effect, people,” was the daily drill. “Never has so much money been amassed to elect a candidate. Our targeted buyouts of principal advertising airtime will efficaciously shut the Democrats out. Cause and effect.”

Try to remember, or imagine: In 1968, PBS was still in the proposal stage, there were just three major networks, prime time was essentially over by 10 p.m., a 30 second spot in the top rated markets cost about ten grand, and a million dollars was an unimaginable sum to most. But 21 million? That was whew!

By day, Nixon commandeered Town Hall meetings answering random questions in primary states while being filmed at three angles — front, back, and side. By night, our media technicians removed audio from side and back-shot tapes, replacing it with Nixon voiceovers of perfected responses. These were the videos offered to the media for viewing and airing. This was the foundation for creating many of the 15, 30, 45 and 60-second spots and news feeds.

Apparently, audience participants were so elated at seeing themselves on television that they failed to notice Nixon’s edited answers. At least, I heard no rumors of suspicion outside the office. I saw no evidence of complaint.

But within our ranks, long hours involving similar scenarios (and the disillusionment such capers caused) was taking its toll.

Perhaps that’s why Kennedy’s assassination registered as an amplified aghast to us. Because, by the time he announced his candidacy, we’d already been entrenched in a predetermined campaign victory for 10 weeks, believing everyone working on the inside of both political parties concurred from the get-go. Our jobs seemed only a matter of proper execution.

Sure, Bobby Kennedy added glamour and excitement to the illusion being painted for an impressionable public. Sensational headlines and endless editorials promised he could change things. And would.

But factuality was, by the time Kennedy won the California primary, every projection we’d been made privy to in January had confirmed itself by June. Ad copy, speeches, rebuttals, and press releases were written and delivered verbatim, leading a nation of primary voters to the polls and persuading them to push the Republican button. We knew if the Democrats had been wealthier in ’68, only the names would have changed to protect the process.

It’s no wonder a spate of shame beset our rank and file the day Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. His was an incomprehensible loss for no comprehendible reason. Arguments erupted. A mutiny ravaged the art department. Secretiveness ensued. Most of us continued to carry on until the battle was won in November, but long before then we were lost.

So, it’s little wonder I and others resigned within weeks of Nixon’s victory without revealing the true reason for our departures — that suffocating feeling of complicity and defenselessness when slapped in the face with reality. Relentlessly.

As a souvenir I kept the screen-printed Peanuts prototype of Snoopy endorsing the Nixon/Agnew ticket that was spurned as a possible campaign poster by our California office after Charles Schultz threatened suit. Saving it seemed somehow fitting. I put Nixon’s business card in my pocket. I surrendered my two tickets to an Inaugural Ball and left my 18kt. gold, RN lapel pin in an ashtray on the desk. I signed the purchase order to change the locks on my office door.

Marion and I were alone on an elevator going down when she asked, “Did you ever think yours was his kiss of death?”

Angst kept me from answering.

“You know,” she nudged. “Cause and effect. It’s all we’ve heard for eleven months.”

“So?”

“Well, go figure. If he hadn’t stopped to kiss you, he’d have been five minutes faster for the rest of his life. He’d have finished his speech and left the hotel, alive. Maybe you were put on earth to slow him down. So he could meet his destiny on time. D’ya think?”

“Gee, Mare. Thanks for that,” I groaned. “And, no. I don’t think.”

But, yes, I have. And, yes, I do. Occasionally, while maneuvering crowds. Crossing streets. Riding elevators. Hearing cars slow. On some March mornings and one June afternoon. Whenever wearing Kelly green.

And ever since.

# # #

Did you have a brush with history that remains vivid in your memory? What are your feelings about the assassination of Robert Kennedy?

Please share your thoughts, here, by selecting REPLY. I’m all eyes and heart.

(This freshly edited, updated essay was first published in 2011 in Venus Magazine. Copyright by Marguerite Quantaine © 2011 & 2013.)
.
.
Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist and author.
Her novel, IMOGENE’S ELOISE : Inspired by a true-love story
is available AMAZON, in paperback , and on Kindle.
35 Rave Reviews
.
“… crisp…clever…unique…saucy humor…delicious writing…fabulous…funny…historically accurate…genius debut… This will be a classic; buy it now. ”

—— SHE Magazine Reviews IMOGENE’S ELOISE: Inspired by a true-love