Thursday, May 10, 2012

Christmas in New York - 2035

As I sit here on the Battery Dikes and look out over New York Harbor, I am amazed I am still alive.  At the ripe old age of 85, I am still traveling and speaking and sometimes even playing tourist with my boy, a senior himself. 

My eyesight is not as good, but I can still see the Statue of Liberty rising from the waters of the harbor, her pedestal now converted to a dock for the tour boats that visit the aging monument.  I still remember taking the J train to Coney Island for a dinner at Garguilos on West 15th.  Of course that is all gone now.  What land is left there is mostly estuary and marsh and the wind turbines that power much of Brooklyn slowly spin in choreographed motion.

My boy hugs my shoulder as I reminisce and soon we decide to head uptown for dinner.  The walled lower Manhattan area is busy during the day, but not much good for an evening meal.   “If only the people in these buildings had listened to scientists and not Fox News,” I say as I shrug my shoulders.

The boy clucks and shakes his head.  “Greed always seems to win out.”  He is still a bit of a cynic and frankly so am I.

It’s getting colder and for us desert dwellers from Dallas the chill in the air is unfamiliar.  It reminds me of my youth, when we had all four seasons in Texas and the dusty plains were lush with vegetation and grazing cattle.  Now just a distant memory.

Tomorrow, we will watch the Macy's Parade as they carry the big balloons down the street like huge beach balls past the crowds.  Most of the kids never saw them when they flew overhead filled with the rare gas we wasted so quickly.  

(Sorry to be so morose, but I have come to believe that we have passed the tipping point on climate change, so we had better adapt or we will not survive.   The truth has become not just inconvenient but entirely conceivable.)

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Detroit Dungeon Party Taped on Hidden Camera by TV Station

What happens when you invite a TV reporter to a dungeon play party?  You end up on TV and in the middle of a real media circus.

In Detroit, a reporter for the NBC affiliate, WDIV got invited to a local play party as he was investigating a murder.  The suspect in the case was a participant in the BDSM community, but the murder was not BDSM related and in fact may be a murder for hire committed by a third party.  The story is still developing, but the damage to the local BDSM scene has already happened.

The report which played last night on Detroit TV had little to do with the murder or the suspect other than to lean heavily on his involvement with BDSM.  The majority of the piece was blurry video with lurid descriptions of the activities that take place at the party.  Now to those in the community, these are almost commonplace, but when sensationalized, and in this case really sensationalized it seems dangerous and scary, especially to vanilla folk.

To make things worse the report gave the address of the party, a local VFW hall.  All the footage of the event was shot with a hidden camera, so the participants did not know they were being filmed.  Luckily the TV station blurred out all the faces but to the participants it must have felt like a violation of their privacy, and it was just that.

The report added no new information to the story of the suspect murder and was designed specifically to scare people with the “debauchery” going on in the peaceful suburban neighborhood.  Never mind the fact that this party has been happening on a regular basis for a long time with no complaints, it is great stuff for ratings and TV news is all about ratings.

Now lots of people who attended that party are frightened, perhaps more than the viewers who saw the shadowy figures and blurred video on TV.  They are afraid of being “outed” as kinky.  Sadly in this country “kinky” is not a protected class and often people lose their families and jobs by being exposed. 

The fears of the BDSM community in Detroit may be unfounded, but the hubbub this incident has caused should give people a few valuable lessons.  If you are not “out” as kinky, then you need to make sure any event you attend is really a private party. That means invited folk only and/or all participants have signed some sort of release that assures they are not offended by the activities taking place and agree not to photograph or reveal names and identities of any other attendees.  These are pretty standard at most play parties, but apparently in Detroit they were not used. 

Secondly, do not invite the press to a play party!  News folk look for sensational images, specifically TV journalists and whips and crosses make for sensational images, even if the reality of a play party is far from the imagined images vanilla people might have in their minds.  Additionally, once the press splashes something like this all over peoples TV screens, some folks will complain to local authorities and next thing you know, the police are visiting any event that looks remotely out of the norm.  In most cases what we do in a dungeon might not be illegal, but police will arrest first and ask questions later.  I would not be surprised if a wave of “vice” operations followed closely on the heels of this report in Detroit.

The unintended consequences of this might be very severe for some people and that is what makes this even worse. 

Now, to be honest, most cities have some kind of BDSM activity going on, and the police and authorities are not blind to it.  I have spoken with law enforcement people about this and to a great extent their attitude is, if no one is getting hurt and there is not any prostitution going on they have bigger fish to fry.  The difference in Detroit may be the murder investigation and just how much involvement BDSM may play in the crime.  My suspicion is it is completely tangential, but that is for the police and courts to find out.

Meanwhile, kinky folk in Detroit should take a deep breath and then use some common sense next time they get an inquiry from a reporter about attending a party. 

We don’t want to scare the Muggles!