Does anyone recognize David Axelrod anymore?
As I write this, Congress is gearing to come back to work for its lame duck session – a last chance Texaco before the new, more conservative class takes over as midterm victors.
And Harry Reid, Democratic majority leader on his last hurrah, has already indicated that his top priority bills are a stopgap economic measure and the Bush tax cuts, which everyone suddenly seems to agree on in principle but which no doubt will consume the entire two weeks before Thanksgiving in hashing out just exactly how much they disagree in fact.
Off that legislative list? The defense budget authorization bill. And even if it were to somehow miraculously re-appear on the agenda, it’s quite likely it would be without the amendment to repeal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," the odious policy which bars openly gay people, no matter how qualified or committed, from serving in the U.S.
Last summer, before my bride and I stepped out on a bright and clear Iowa afternoon to be married in her parents’ backyard, we kept peering through the windows to see who’d arrived. My cousins. Her cousins. Aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, siblings, a sea of friends: white, Latino, black, Jewish, Asian, queers, non-queers, Christians of all sorts, agnostics, atheists – I kid you not, at least two Muslims.
We were in Iowa to celebrate our union because, like a lot of other couples, we wanted it to happen in a place that had meaning. And Iowa is where my bride was born and raised, where her family still resides, and where I’ve come to believe all that is good about America is plentiful.
“When we imagine threats, we figure they’re around our being queer, or a combo of queer and Jewish,” says Larry Edwards, the rabbi with Or Chadash, the LGBT synagogue that found itself a target of a potential mail bomb sent from Yemen this weekend. “And the combo threats we imagine are from the radical extreme anti-gay right wing of the Jewish world,” he continues, “but even that’s far-fetched because in reality we have support even in certain Orthodox quarters.”
Or Chadash, like Emanuel congregation, which houses it, is associated with the Reform branch of Judaism. Or Chadash moved from the Unitarian Church whose address was used on the potential bomb eight years ago, shortly after Edwards became the rabbi, at Emanuel’s suggestion that they share space. “Frankly, we never imagine ourselves as an actual Jewish target of Islamic terrorists – I mean, we’re so tiny!” Or Chadash has about 100 members at any given time, but it fluctuates. “People come and go,” he says. “Thirty five years ago, when it was founded, people wanted to be gay and be able to express their Jewishness. But institutions take on a life of their own. People love it, find meaning and family in it.
It doesn’t really look anything like a typical dance club. For starters, the lights are on, blazing. They serve zero, zip, when it comes to beverages. And it only happens on Sunday nights.
But Battle Groundz, on 87th just east of Stony Island in Chatham, isn’t a very typical place. This is where a good bunch of Chicago’s hardcore footwoorkers -- from the South Side, the West Side, the suburbs, even a few stragglers from the North Side -- come to practice, compete, and hang out.
“I think of footworking as hyper tap dancing,” explains Maurice Fulson, 31, who started Battle Groundz two years ago in the empty front room of an insurance office, in a space donated by a sympathetic friend. Since he first opened, the floor tiles have been nearly worn through from all the sliding, jumping, skimming, popping, tapping and slamming involved.
“There are different types of spins, combos and crossovers,” says Fulson, a father of five who makes a full-time living from coaching and teaching footworking.
Jeremiah Sterling loved nothing more in this world than dancing.
“I met him when he was 12 or 13,” says Aaron “Ag” Neal, 25, one of the founders of Terra Squad, the footworking crew where Jeremiah found a spiritual home. “He was all ‘I wanna be in your group, I wanna be the king of your circle’.”
But, in fact, Jeremiah didn’t get in to Terra Squad at his first try out.
“He was kinda chubby,” Ag says with a laugh. “He danced real slow, you know?”
But Jeremiah surprised everybody.
“He came to every practice, just staring through the window,” says Ag.