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21 October 2010 @ 09:57 pm
[Poll] Things That Are Normal  
Earlier this year, I posted about the LA Conscious Life Expo, which I hope to god someone is attending and liveblogging. (Someone not leading a conscious life, obviously, since those people will presumably be ascending and whatnot and thus not really reliable recorders.) And misspamela said, in response to my discussion of the free magazines available at our local diner (mostly on the themes of Cocks Are Awesome, Marijuana Is Awesome, and I Hear Shiny Lights in My Pancreas), "Oh, California."

I stared at that comment for quite a while before asking her what, precisely, was so California about that. I mean - these are normal magazines! Right? And after she wiped away the tears of laughter, she said, basically, that everything was. Apparently the free magazines out in her neck of the woods are on - the woods or something. I don't know. What do you write a free magazine about if it's not semi-hysterical political ranting, cocksucking, semi-legal drugs, or the way your consciousness is currently in orbit around Saturn? (Without the benefit of the cocksucking or the semi-legal drugs, I mean.)

Since then, I have spent a certain amount of time analyzing my experiences in that diner, asking myself if something that seems normal to me is actually normal, or just very California. (Always keeping in mind that there are very conservative areas of CA, too. I just don't live in one. Nor do I live in the most liberal area, I might just mention.) I mean, the free magazines within reach of a small child that feature Adam Lambert and mostly naked men in bondage gear pretending to go down on each other - normal? Or California normal? I don't know. I've lived here too long. I mean, obviously I find it normal - I let my kid carry around those magazines, and everyone in the diner, including the old people, thinks it's cute. (We go there not just because we like the food but because everyone likes the earthling.) No one has suggested he's going to be warped, not even by the one that simultaneously showcased men in bondage gear (bondage gear is something of a feature of this particular magazine) and Disney characters. But maybe that would be weird somewhere else. Hard to say.

Recently, at another visit to this diner (where I picked up a catalog of this year's Conscious Life Expo, and I tell you what: I yearn to attend this thing, because I want to know if these people make any more sense when they're speaking as opposed to writing), I overheard a conversation between four guys at a nearby table. These were middle-aged guys, maybe in their forties, of various races, and at least one of them was a blue collar worker (judging by an earlier conversation). It's always nice to hear what the other half thinks, hence the shameless eavesdropping. Their conversation turned, in short order, to two major news stories of the day. The first was gays in the military, and keep in mind as you read this that the guys were fairly obviously censoring their speech because of the presence of a small earthling who kept looking over to see what food they had. (If they had heard how one of his mothers talks, they might have been less concerned.)

Guy 1: You know, it's the emotional intimacy I worry about.
Guy 2: Hmmm?
Guy 1: In the Navy. You're out there on those boats for a long time. All packed in close together, doing stuff together. You can't tell me they won't get attached to each other. Involved.
Guy 3: Yeah. I see that.
Guy 4: Now, in combat.
Guy 1: Can't really see any problem there.
Guy 4: It's all crazy. They do it anyway.
Guy 1, nodding vigorously: It's really just the Navy I think is gonna have a problem. With the romance and so on. The rest of it, that's just normal.
Guy 4: Exactly. I mean, if you're gonna go to Afghanistan or Iraq, well...

(When I related this conversation to BB later on, she said, "So they're fine with blowjobs. They just don't want the people involved to like each other?" I was more interested in the part of the sentence Guy 4 elided. Is there any way to interpret that other than, "If you're going to Afghanistan or Iraq, you might as well suck some cock while you're there?")

A few minutes of fascinated listening later, the conversation moved on to some propositions on our latest ballot, one of which involves legalizing marijuana.

Guy 2: I've gotta vote to legalize.
Guy 3: They've done studies. You know, which is the most harmful: alcohol, pot, tobacco. And it's not pot, let me tell you.
Guy 1: If tobacco's legal, marijuana's gotta be.
Guy 4: Yeah. Can't really see it's an issue, there.

So I pondered this on the way home. Is it normal - like, everywhere normal - to have middle-aged men talking about what amounts to military slash (because they aren't really talking about the gay sex - they're talking about the emotional connection involved in the gay sex) and advocating the legalization of pot? Or is that just where I live?

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
Drooling Fan Girldroolfangrrl on October 22nd, 2010 05:12 am (UTC)
"that feature Adam Lambert and mostly naked men in bondage gear pretending to go down on each other "



You are evil and mean and have no love for your fellow human beings.
Grey Bardgrey_bard on October 22nd, 2010 05:22 am (UTC)
Our free newspapers/magazines where I am in PA (aside from classifieds et al) tend to be an entirely different type. What kind, might you ask?

Bob's barn burned down, Tastee Diner has specials going on this month, awkward firsthand local history from your neighbor, this adorable child made an amusing craft item which is now on display and other things Grandma Wants To Know written by local accountants and hairdressers who at heart want to be Clark Kent.
lilacsigil: 12 Apostleslilacsigil on October 22nd, 2010 09:41 am (UTC)
We have to pay for that here!
(no subject) - lunabee34 on October 22nd, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
anoneknewmoose on October 22nd, 2010 05:24 am (UTC)
I live in a teeny tiny town in Texas. Most of our free magazines are about cows or horses for sale, and most of the discussion at the local diner is about the rodeo, the high school football team, or where they're gonna get drunk this weekend.
cricketkcricketk on October 22nd, 2010 05:25 am (UTC)
Our free magazines are largely all about music. I think we have 3 now that are music based, we have a large number of free community newspapers (I'm in the distribution region for 4, although 3 of them are owned by the same company) and the inevitable 'Conscious Living' magazine.
Rosfoi_nefaste on October 23rd, 2010 12:19 am (UTC)

I'm in Montreal, and the free magazines are mostly hipster music, indie films, and Teh Arts Scene(tm).

Unless you go to the Village, where you can pick up free gay porn magazines. Because the city loves us like that.
09 f9 11 02 9d 74 e3 5b d8 41 56 c5 63 56 88 c0: MA gay weedlaura47 on October 22nd, 2010 05:48 am (UTC)
Those things (the gay and marijuana things) are not so weird here in boston, with our gay marriage and our barney frank and our decriminalized marijuana under an ounce, but we are also an anamoly.

The bondage and the consciousness, that's pretty damn california. :-)
Teeny Gozerteenygozer on October 22nd, 2010 06:02 am (UTC)
Our freebies include the Metro (mostly AP stories), Stuff at Night (even the articles are adverts--they'll interview a bartender or a designer), and The Boston Phoenix (famous lefty-liberal paper).
Katejuliansinger on October 22nd, 2010 06:15 am (UTC)
Can't forget the Improper Bostonian! (Well, one can, but it's so glossy and vapid.)
(no subject) - teenygozer on October 22nd, 2010 01:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
je suis marxiste, tendance Groucho: alice disappointed duchessshinealightonme on October 22nd, 2010 06:13 am (UTC)
My friend shot a short film in a cafe that sound eerily like the one you're describing. But, um, it's a California cafe, and the kind that lets students film on the premises for free, so, not exactly a representative sample there.
Sometimes You Get Marshmallows: crackedflorahart on October 22nd, 2010 07:11 am (UTC)
Normal for California from the bay area south, for the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and for much of the area more or less adjacent to the Sound in Washington. Eastern Or and Wa, not so much, and Northern Cali, also probably not so much. I think.

One of the local free papers features a sex column and a personals section not entirely unlike the casuals on craigslist. I don't very often pick up many others. I don't see much of the men in drag pretending to go down on one another type thing, but I mean, I don't go a whole lot of places.

Oh, but we do have an annual parade which features the Slug Queen, which is someone who has picked a name for hirself usually involving the word slug (like, Slugarella), and has created a costume which often involves a slug theme (and a tiara) (some years the slug queen is a guy in drag; no one seems to be under the impression that this is in any way related to anyone's sexuality--which, this is totally fair as it totally doesn't, but I expect that in some parts of the country comments and assumptions would be made). It's possible this means that the word normal cannot actually be applied to the behaviors and/or publications to be found here.

I love the conversation these men had, and I am so so amused their concern is the EMOTIONAL intimacy. Because as we all know, when one of your guys you've played cards with and sat with when he found out his baby was born and shared porn with and gone drinking with and and and...when one of them gets blown to bits (not for any good value of blow), that doesn't tear you up. Not at all. But if you add emotional intimacy, well shit. *facepalm* and this is why I sometimes find myself puzzled by institutions built by men.
Beck: DW - Rose Confused by kikibug13beck_liz on October 22nd, 2010 10:17 am (UTC)
I love the conversation these men had, and I am so so amused their concern is the EMOTIONAL intimacy.

*snort* Yeah, this. Men are weird.
vanillafluffy: Florida orangesvanillafluffy on October 22nd, 2010 07:57 am (UTC)
Free 'zines around here:

Listings for local real estate -- way more sellers than buyers

Auto dealerships, mostly trying to unload Bubba's SUV

General purpose classified ads, mostly featuring Bubbs's ad: "Hey, y'all, wanna buy my bass boat?"

And something for seniors, with ads for doctors, cemetery plots and little articles cribbed from AARP...and despite the fact that it's aimed at seniors, it's still printed in nine-point type.

Beckbeck_liz on October 22nd, 2010 10:18 am (UTC)
That sounds pretty much exactly like the kind of stuff we get here. None of the really INTERESTING stuff TFV mentions, anyway. *pouts*
AQ aka Syredronning: trio_2syredronning on October 22nd, 2010 09:52 am (UTC)
Gays in the German military were never officially forbidden, so...

Legalization of marijuana, that depends on the group you're hanging out with. I guess more people would be for legalizing alcohol _less_ :)
penknife: analysispenknife on October 22nd, 2010 12:14 pm (UTC)
Our free magazines are mostly aimed at a student audience (we have three large universities within commuting distance), and so run heavily to approving reviews of incomprehensible indie movies and bands that sound like industrial noise, disapproving reviews of movies that are actually popular, complaints that local government is dominated by the forces of darkness, and rants about how the local environment is being destroyed RIGHT NOW AS WE SPEAK, so everyone should sober up long enough to save a tree.
joyce: queer2joyce on October 22nd, 2010 12:18 pm (UTC)
I live in rural NC [eta, but close to non-rural NC. They generally aren't that far apart, around here].

Conversations about non-straight folks in the military are a crap shoot around here. It totally depends on who you get. It would not be surprising to have middle-age men being okay - at least, one some level - with gays in the military, but it would also not be odd for them to be holding a prayer meeting about it.

I am out in both of my workplaces, with no issues. Then again, I teach college. Then again, one place of work is a community college that largely draws on surrounding rural counties.

The pot conversation? I've had that conversation with everyone. I can remember the last time that I ran across someone that didn't favor decriminalization or legalization, or at least, was willing to say so.

North Carolina: solidly purple, with some red and blue ends, and we like it that way. :)

[eta: I forgot about the magazines. It all depends, but a lot of hunting and fishing, real estate, travel, and a solid dose of "women's" magazines, which are usually a hoot.]

Edited at 2010-10-22 12:19 pm (UTC)
Gninegnine on October 22nd, 2010 12:28 pm (UTC)
The pot conversation, as that one played out, I've heard quite a few places...the gay one...yeah, CA...well, and Boston/MA, as someone else said, but, well...yeah.

The whole Concision Life/Aliens thing, however, rather *screams* CA to me...
Imaginary Researcher: San Francisco #2 - kaleys_iconshannahrorlove on October 22nd, 2010 01:31 pm (UTC)
I'm living in New York City right now, so I can get just about any sort of free magazine I want if I go to the right street corner - but having grown up in California, I've learned to walk right past most of the kiosks without doing any double-takes.
jarrow: _ducksjarrow on October 22nd, 2010 01:48 pm (UTC)
free magazines available at our local diner (mostly on the themes of Cocks Are Awesome, Marijuana Is Awesome, and I Hear Shiny Lights in My Pancreas

*chokes on my cereal*