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August 25, 2018

My Two Fathers: a catholic Tale of Trauma

Pittsburgh priest rape, catholic family trauma

Trigger warnings: rape, beatings, jail, prisoner, Catholic, priest, family.
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The adjective catholic (with a lower-case c) means: universal, comprehensive, widely shared.  Something that's catholic is bigger than you might think.  

I need to set down my own catholic experience. You might not know anybody affected by the Catholic systemic child-rape scandal. Maybe you do know a victim and you just aren't aware of it yet. I'm one of them.

I volunteered to became an altar boy because on school-day funerals, you got out of class and sometimes you got $5. It seemed like a good deal. My dad recommended it. The old GI rubric holds true: Never Volunteer.

From September 1965 to June 1968 - Fourth through Sixth grades - I was repeatedly raped by a parish priest. It happened in the rectory on Monday afternoons, and on overnight trips to a vacation home his family provided. I was 8, 9, and 10 years old.

To belabor the point in a vulgar manner, he was in my ass and in my mouth for three years.


Ordinarily I would never tell my father (a cop) about a problem but I told my dad about the priest early on. I needed grown-up help. My dad did not believe me and tried hard to get me to recant. He seriously beat me (which was a thing he did) and I wouldn't give in. He said, you think you're tough? We'll see.

That weekend we went to the police station where he worked. He had arranged for an empty cellblock, no prisoners. He put me into a cell. He said, we'll see how tough you are. He shut the cell, locked it; he walked out and closed the cellblock door behind himself.

Everything you've read about the sound of a closing jail cell being the loudest sound in the world is an understatement. It was an earthquake rattling my skeleton. There was a single bunk, a thick board on a hinge and chained to the wall. It had a thousand profanities scratched into it. There was a coarse wool blanket. There were cockroaches.

I don't know how it is for anybody else.  Being locked alone in that cell is the essential, core experience of my life.  I had made a terrible mistake by telling my dad. He betrayed me.

Now I was in a cage like the animals at the zoo. They talk about humans responding to threats with "fight or flight" but neither was an option. My universe was about 6x9 feet.

I was probably only alone for as much time as it took him to have a smoke and a coffee. He came back into the cellblock and looked at me through the closed cell bars. I told him, I'm not taking it back. He opened the cell and led me out. We never spoke of it again.

In less than ten minutes, I was profoundly and forever changed. Ever since I have a visceral dread of "getting into trouble" because for me, being in trouble means the cell is a possible outcome. In some ways, I'm still in that cell.


Between the priest and my dad, the floor had dropped out from under me. It was terrifying that my world could change so fast. Certainty was lost. Safety was an illusion. Grownups were threats.  The rest of my life is a footnote to being raped and being locked up. 

The priest continued at me. My dad had a fave phrase he'd continually impress upon the kids: "suffer in silence", and that's just what I did. I would never rock this boat again.

When Seventh grade began I expected to be summoned but the priest never sent for me. I asked another kid who was involved, what was going on? He said, he's got some new fourth graders. I had mixed feelings. I was both glad and jilted. Replaced by a younger kid.

They're both dead now, the priest and my dad. They live on inside my head. I really try to stay out of trouble and to be a good boy. I am so fucked up.


  • This is not about gay priests. This is about pedophile rapists in positions of authority
  • The church must release all documents including the 'unsubstantiated' events
  • Promote nuns into parish management positions with full authority
  • Make Women priests now
  • Pay men and women clergy living wages rather than off-budget 'fringe benefits'
  • Release all legacy settlements from non-disclosure agreements; let the stories flow
  • The Pope saying he's on the victim's side is onanistic rhetoric without action


When I read about the kids separated from their parents at the Mexican border, I think about eight year old me, sitting in that jail cell, terrified. If you think that what happened to me in 1965 is wrong, then if follows that what we're doing to these kids is wrong in 2018.
--  --
August 20, 2018

Bishop Zubic DID go to prosecutors in 2013

I am so glad that Bishop Zubic went to the authorities and demanded that criminal charges be filed.

I refer, of course, to the April 2013 event ("the spring fine arts parade") in which student Katherine B. O’Connor, 19, of Pittsburgh, dressed the upper half of her body as a Pope, and left the lower half of her body naked except for some topiary work in the sign of a cross. As she marched, she handed out condoms.

Bishop Zubic, who knows a wrong thing when he sees it, went to the head of CMU and insisted that criminal charges be pressed against the woman. She was arrested.

The student eventually made a deal with prosecutors, agreeing to perform 80 hours of community service work in exchange for the prosecutor dropping charges. A conviction would have meant she'd have to register as a sex offender.

I remember at the time thinking: When did Jesus ever go to a prosecutor and demand that charges should be filed? Didn't He say, "let you who is without sin throw the first pitch?" So why is this Bishop acting like this?

But with a bit of hindsight and the recent release of the PA Grand Jury report, I can see that Bishop Zubic was adhering to the same consistent standard that is still in use:

  • young women challenging the patriarchy must be prosecuted and kept in their place
  • no church officials (men) should be prosecuted; especially not for raping altar boys.
January 13, 2017

Calling the Horses amid the Hostages at the Potemkin Racetrack

In the Senate, any one Senator can oppose legislation via filibuster which means: normal legislation requires 60 votes to beat a filibuster. The R's have 51 votes, so they can't meet the 60-vote requirement to pass a partisan Senate bill. However, the Senate can pass a Budget Reconciliation bill, which can only contain basic additions or removals from the budget. No sweeping legislation or procedures; just "adds" and "takeaways".

The R's vowed to cancel ACA. Reconciliation is the only tool they've got to accomplish the thing they vowed. They can't do it in the Senate through normal procedures because of the filibuster/60-vote process, so they're doing it via Budget Reconciliation which only needs 51 votes. Which brings us to the start of this year's sporting events.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the first event for this year's racing, the Senate's midnight cancellation of Obamacare aka ACA at 1am via a budget reconciliation process. If the House approves it, and President Trump signs it, ACA is dead in two years - including such wildly popular features as: 25 year olds on their parent's insurance, no pre-existing conditions, and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHiP).

Why would they do that? Why would they cancel without a replacement at hand? Why would they specifically reject options to preserve the cherished parts, like: CHiP, 25 years old, pre-existing conditions? Because they can cancel (that is, destroy important things) with only 51 votes. You might think that's a problem, I might think that's a problem, but if you think like a thug, like a gangster, you might say: Ooh, maybe I can make this somebody else's problem, and maybe it's an R-opportunity. Because that's thug-thinking.

Whatever they want to introduce as TrumpCare, or R-Care, will need to get 60 votes in the Senate. The 50-vote reconciliation rule can not be used to implement programs. They're going to need D's in the Senate to vote for TrumpCare.

I think the cynical strategy goes like this: With their 51 Senate votes, they've sentenced precious programs to death in two years. Now - just saying - if the D's want to cooperate, maybe the terrible thing won't have to happen. I mean, people can work together, right?

This is just the first event in a two-year race, the timing of which was established by the Budget Reconciliation Bill.

As time progresses, the nation will come around the curve and begin to line up for the straight-away.

In ten months, when they've developed TrumpCare, Team-R is going to look at the Senate Dems and say: Here's our program - sure it does a lot of things you don't like, but hey- it restores 25 year-olds, it restores NoPreExisting Conditions, it restores CHIP. We've heard you on these issues. We've listened. We're meeting you in the middle.

In the final stretch, the R's will say to the Dems: Will 10 of you support TrumpCare to restore these vital programs, or will you make Americans suffer to force a debacle in the name of politics? And the NPR announcer calling the race will be quite excited,

It's Charade in the lead, with Booker and TrumpCare by a neck, and Kabuki close behind, then ChIP and Trumper and Warren and Bernie close - and Booker stumbles, ladies and gentleman, Booker is down, and riders down everywhere and at the wire it's TrumpCare, it's TrumpCare followed by Charade and Kabuki, Chip survived, PreExisting got through, looks like TwentyFive made it, and there's horses and riders everywhere.. There's carnage in the field..

I think the R's will get 10 D-Senators to vote to restore CHiP, 25 year-olds, and NoPreExisting Conditions. This week's news doesn't make any sense if you're a normal human, but it makes a lot of sense if you're a gangster thug.

September 22, 2016

The Blue Mayor Problem: Bill Peduto and Blue-City Mayors Run the Police Depts Killing Black Men

Red State, Blue City North Carolina state politics have fascinated me for a few years.

North Carolina is a Red State, with a Republican governor and a Republican legislator. The biggest city is Charlotte, NC - a Blue City with a consistently Democratic body of elected officials.

In this - a Republican state with a Republican rural zone and Democratic cities - it represents a lot of American politics, and possibly provides a preview of where American local-state politics is going.

The Charlotte airport is a money-maker, a tax-collector, a source of jobs for people and contracts for businesses. It's a power center which has been operated by the City of Charlotte since 1937. The State of NC wanted to move the power center away from the City/Region and into the State's hands, so the State formed an Airport Commission to take over the airport. Charlotte said: we don't think so.

Major brouhaha. At one time, there were two separate airport commissions (City and State) each claiming Authority over the Airport. City and State looked to the Feds to choose, and the Feds wisely said: This is not my circus, y'all decide.

Then President Obama selected a new Secy. of Transportation - who happened to be the mayor of CLT. Lots of sturm and drang, ending up with: seems like CLT still runs the airport, although the State intends to keep chipping away.

It's an illustration of Red-State, Blue-City politics. Cute sidebar: The Red-State airport panel tried hard to bury a lot of poisonous coal ash under the runway and taxiway projects at the airport. Stuff like that.


Then the City passed an ordinance expanding their LGBT laws to address transgender issues and the use of bathrooms. In response, the State passed a law insisting people go poop in the bathroom consistent with their birth certificate, and also specified that no local ordinance could trump the state ordinance.

This is why the NBA, the NCAA, and a lot of people are avoiding NC. Meanwhile if you are a transgender person flying American Airlines and get diverted into CLT, figuring out where to pee is very stressful. Interestingly, all the boycott action hurts Charlotte more than the State. Funny.


The police departments killing black men are in cities.
City government is often Democratic

Now a Charlotte police officer has shot and killed a black man, who was reading a book in his car, waiting to pick up his kid at school. Doesn't get much more American than that. This is a debacle, a tragedy, both in the instance and in the great multitude of these killings.

The NC Governor has declared a state of emergency in Charlotte, and will send the National Guard and State Police into the City. You have to understand how happy the Red-State is to send armed forces into the Blue-City, for so many reasons. The Red-State was having trouble taking over the airport; now they're going to take over the whole city. #ThrowMeInThatBriarPatch

  • Taking over the city reinforces the Red-State base's opinions about Blue-City politics and government.
  • Demonstrating to the African-American community that they suffer tremendously under the leadership of Blue-City Democratic leadership is a perfect wedge issue for the Republicans.

Because if you look at it, Blue-City politics are a coalition of Black voters, educated Women voters, and young people who cluster around Universities. Demonstrating that Blue-City democrats run the police departments which kill Black Men is a legitimate wedge issue that is easily demonstrated in cities across America.

Blue-City Democrats run the police departments killing black men.
Blue-City Democrats run the cities displacing black people


Even Donald Trump has seen the rhetorical opportunity, saying to black voters: Why do you support these Democratic leaders? Look at how they're treating you! They're killing you!

When urban cops kill a black man, those cops usually report to a Democratic mayor or country executive. Those officials, and the urban Democratic party in general, will not survive or win elections without the Black vote. And yet, Black Americans are being killed by police departments that work for Democratic officials.


Consider Blue-City Pittsburgh's Racial Performance

Each of the recent Mayoral administrations has seen forced economic dislocation of Black Americans out of Pittsburgh. Police-on-Black violence is a Pittsburgh problem.

This is Pittsburgh's problem. This is Bill Peduto's problem. We notice: the Pittsburgh FOP endorsed Trump, and has expressed No-Confidence in Peduto's Chief. Bill Peduto is another Blue-City leader who is not in charge of their police department. I have to imagine Peduto falls asleep at night hoping, Please don't let it happen here.

The question is: who seizes the initiative and defines the moment? Will Blue-City leadership exert control over their police departments, or will continued police killings dissolve the Democratic base?

September 10, 2016

42 Beats 39 Great Game

a really great game if we overlook
the likely brain damage inflicted
on young unpaid interns by
multi-million entertainment franchises
masquerading as schools, perverting education,
operating as tax-free entities in
publicly funded coliseums
which the citizens voted against building.
42 beats 39. great game.
August 24, 2016

Whiten Up, Pittsburgh! And in the interim, use Gentrification Grey paint.

Once upon a time in East Liberty, before money arrived and created East Side (a name with less baggage), there was a mural titled "Lend Me Your Ears". It featured faces of black children.

The developer-owners wanted to repurpose the building as upscale housing - which to them was inconsistent with the mural, so they painted over the mural

Now, the new owners are seeking new artists to create a new artwork that reflects that vision; "a new generation of art for the new East Liberty'. I bet the new mural looks much different.

Once upon a time in Lawrenceville, there was a mural on a place called New Amsterdam. It draws on (perhaps appropriates?) Calavera imagery, used in Mexican culture (see, José Guadalupe Posada, and the Day of the Dead). You know: Mexicans. Gangs. Let's build a wall.

But that mural got painted over. (The observant reader will note the still-present Uneeda Biscuit advertisement painted on the adjacent building).

And on 8.23, an artist is painting a new mural, consistent with the new vision. Title unknown, my nickname is: "Ode to Car Culture, Which is really more threatening than Mexican mysticism".

Arrrggghhhhh. I envision that the East Liberty NextGen mural will feature pictures of Auto-Autos (autonomous Uber Volvos) discharging people from Fox Chapel. I would also like to start calling the type of gray paint used to cover a minority-theme mural, to wait a sufficient period of time, to be eventually painted over with a new image less threatening to commerce and white people: Gentrification Grey.