One day God was looking down at Earth and saw all of the rascally behavior that was going on. She decided to send an angel down to Earth to check it out. So She called one of Her angels and sent the angel to Earth for a closer look.
When he returned, he told God, “Yes, it is pretty bad on Earth; 95% are misbehaving and only 5% are not.”
God thought for a moment and said, “Maybe I had better send down a second angel to get another opinion.” So God called another angel and sent her to Earth to investigate.
When that angel returned she went to God and said, “Yes, it’s true, the Earth is in terrible shape; 95% are misbehaving, and only 5% are being good.”
God was not pleased. So She decided to E-mail the 5% that were good, because She wanted to encourage them, give them a little something, to help them keep going.
In honor of Labor Day, here’s a first person report of someone who was not quite as successful as he had hoped to be in the job market:
As a young man
My first job was in an orange juice factory, but I couldn’t
concentrate on the same old boring rind, so I got canned.
Then I worked in the woods as a lumberjack, but I just couldn’t hack
it, so they gave me the axe.
After that, I tried out in a donut shop, but soon got tired of
the hole business, and the boss always had this totally glazed look.
I manufactured calendars, but my days there were numbered.
I tried to be a tailor, but I just wasn’t suited for it. Mainly
because it was a sew-sew job, de-pleating and de-pressing, and the foreman couldn’t stop needling me.
After that I took a job as an upholsterer, but I never recovered.
In my prime
Next I signed on in a car muffler factory, but that was
I wanted to be a barber, but I just couldn’t cut it.
PITTSBURGH (The Borowitz Report)—Eating classified documents was “an essential part of President Donald Trump’s super-healthy diet,” Dr. Mehmet Oz has claimed.
Oz, the longtime television host and, more recently, Pennsylvania’s G.O.P. nominee for the U.S. Senate, said that “classified documents, including the nuclear codes, provided the roughage necessary to keep President Trump’s digestive system humming along at the highest possible level.”
In March 1947, a Florida court ordered the Ha Ha Club — a nightclub famous for its “female impersonators,” as they were called at the time — to close after declaring it a public nuisance.
The order came just a month after Frank Tuppen, a juvenile probation officer with political ambitions, filed a complaint against the venue. He argued that the club’s performers were “sexual perverts” who had embedded “in the minds of the youngsters” who lived in the area “things immoral” and were “breaking down their character.”
The owner of the club, Charles “Babe” Baker, appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, but in October 1947, it affirmed the lower court’s decision that the club was a public nuisance. “Men impersonating women” in performances that are “nasty, suggestive and indecent” injure the “manners and morals of the people,” the court ruled.
The 2022 complaint, filed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, threatened to revoke R House’s liquor license, arguing that the establishment violated a state public nuisance law by becoming “manifestly injurious to the morals or manners of the people.”
Historians say the parallels between the R House and the Ha Ha Club complaints, and the fact that DeSantis’ administration cited a 75-year-old court decision, reveal how conservatives are resurfacing a decades-old moral panic about LGBTQ people to target queer spaces.
‘Seeding America with queer consciousness’
Baker first opened the Ha Ha Club in April 1933 in New York City’s Midtown Manhattan neighborhood, where it became “Broadway’s favorite hangout spot,” said Michail Takach, who researched the Ha Ha Club for a book he co-authored, “A History of Milwaukee Drag: Seven Generations of Glamour.”
Later that year, Baker traveled south and opened the club in Hallandale, Florida, about 13 miles north of R House, which is in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. He opened the club toward the end of the so-called Pansy Craze, which was a time period when drag surged in popularity, particularly in cities, Takach said.
Same-sex sexual relations were illegal at the time in most states, and cross-dressing was criminalized in many cities, though Miami never officially had an anti-cross-dressing law on the books. As a result, Takach said clubs like the Ha Ha Club catered primarily to seemingly straight, cisgender audiences, because drag drew attention and could be a liability to club owners.
However, Takach wrote in his book that female impersonator clubs offered gay and gender-nonconforming men that performed at these venues “a safe sanctuary where they could not only embrace their identities but make a name for themselves.”
In Baker’s court testimony, he described how he stood at the club’s door every night and greeted all of the guests. The club held three shows from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., with more than 40 performers who sang, danced and told jokes, according to court documents.
Baker featured some of the most famous female impersonators, including Jackie Maye, whose wardrobe was estimated at the time to have been worth $50,000, Takach said, which would be worth over $1 million in today’s dollars.
His production was also a traveling show, called the Ha Ha Revue, which was inspired by the Jewel Box Revue, a famous touring company of female impersonators — and the first racially integrated drag revue in the country — that operated from 1937 to about 1960, according to Takach’s drag history book.
The traveling version of the Ha Ha Club’s show and the Jewel Box Revue “really did a solid job of seeding America with queer consciousness,” Takach said. “And you have to wonder how much of that played into the gay liberation era — how many children that went to these shows, how many adults that watched these shows, were later part of the gay liberation scene.”
The shows brought queer representation to many cities across the U.S. at a time when gay people were being criminalized and also at a time when drag had fallen “violently out of favor,” Takach said.
“They brought it back in a big way and created a mid-century drag craze in the 1950s that, in some ways, is a parallel and a rival to the RuPaul drag craze of this decade,” he said.
‘A home of perverts, queers, phonies’
On Feb. 2, 1947, after operating his club in Hallandale for 14 years, Baker tried to stop a fight between two customers at the club and called the police. Both he and a customer were arrested for assault and battery, though Baker was never charged, according to court documents.
Just three days later, on Feb. 5, Tuppen — who was running for sheriff of Broward County in an upcoming election — filed his complaint against the club. He claimed multiple men he had arrested for having same-sex sexual relations said they frequented the Ha Ha Club.
James Lathero, the lawyer for the state, asked Tuppen what the general reputation of the Ha Ha Club is, and Tuppen said, “General knowledge, it is nothing but a home of perverts, queers, phonies.” Tuppen’s complaint also alleged that the venue had contributed to “juvenile delinquency” in the county that was “injurious to the manners and morals of the people” residing there.
Baker’s lawyers called more than half a dozen locals who testified that they enjoyed the club’s shows. Baker also testified that his cast had performed for a church and the Kiwanis Club and that it had raised money for the March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization that supports mothers and babies. He also denied that his club was associated with homosexuals and said there was no evidence of “crimes of perversion” at the club.
But the Broward County Circuit Court ultimately declared the Ha Ha Club a public nuisance and ordered it to close in the spring of 1947.
Baker appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, and one of his lawyer’s, Robert Lane, wrote in the appeal that there were no complaints against Baker’s club during its 14 years in business “until an aspirant for a political office decided to complain,” referring to Tuppen and his run for sheriff.
Lane also argued that “there are different views as to what may injure the manners and morals of the public.”
Despite Baker’s efforts, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s decision in October 1947.
“The lawful evidence presents a dirty picture; the Ha Ha Club looks as if it were a cross between a ‘honky tonk’ and a ‘speak easy,’” wrote Justice William Terrell, who later went on to defend segregation after the Supreme Court struck it down in Brown v. Board of Education. He added that the lower court determined that the Ha Ha Club’s “major connotations were evil, that it was exerting a corrupting influence and that the time had arrived to abate it.”
The case against the Ha Ha Club happened at a time when public support for drag had waned, because law enforcement and media nationwide claimed that gay people were a danger to women and children, Takach said.
“There was a very strong reaction to the liberation that people had felt, and the visibility that gay and lesbian people and gender-nonconforming people had earned during the Pansy Craze,” he said. “It led to many cities creating drag bans, shutting down drag clubs, banning female impersonation completely — silencing the queer nightlife and the queer representation that had really flourished during the Pansy Craze in the early parts of the 1930s.”
‘A cultural panic moment’
Last month, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation alleged in its complaint against R House that a “nearly nude dancer was filmed parading a young girl through the audience” on or about July 3 and that the video ignited public outrage.
Inquired about it during a news conference, DeSantis said the video prompted the department to investigate further, “and what they found was not only were there minors there — and these are sexually explicit drag shows — the bar had a children’s menu. And you think to yourself: ‘Give me a break, what’s going on?’”
The complaint threatened to revoke R House’s liquor license and cited the Ha Ha Club case, noting that the Florida Supreme Court recognized that “men impersonating women” in the context of “suggestive and indecent” performances can constitute a public nuisance.
R House’s ownership said in an emailed statement last month that it is aware of the complaint and that it is working with the department through its attorney to “rectify the situation.”
“We are an inclusive establishment and welcome all people to visit our restaurant,” the email said. “We are hopeful that Governor DeSantis, a vociferous supporter and champion of Florida’s hospitality industry and small businesses, will see this as what it is, a misunderstanding, and that the matter will be resolved positively and promptly.” Ownership has not returned an additional request for comment.
There are multiple parallels between the Ha Ha Club case and DeSantis’ complaint against R House, historians said, revealing a cultural cycle.
Just as there was a public backlash to increasing queer visibility after the Pansy Craze, historians said conservatives are now pushing back against LGBTQ people winning major rights such as same-sex marriage.
But unlike in decades past, those who oppose LGBTQ equality cannot “attack gay people per se, so the people they attack are actually trans people or trans youth or drag queens, and then only in connection with children,” said Michael Bronski, a professor of women and gender studies at Harvard University and author of “A Queer History of the United States for Young People.”
Bronski called the backlash against drag today part of a “cultural panic moment,” and Takach said it’s happened throughout history in the U.S.
“People get drawn in by the glamor, and it’s a novelty,” he said of drag, “and then something happens, and the entire community turns on it.”
Maxx Fenning, the president and founder of Prism, a nonprofit that works to expand access to LGBTQ-inclusive education in South Florida, said the complaint against R House, like the one filed against the Ha Ha Club 75 years ago, shows how laws related to “public morals” can be used to disproportionately censor LGBTQ people and topics.
“This Florida Supreme Court case noted that men impersonating women is not in and of itself a verifiable offense, but it’s doing it in an indecent fashion,” he said. “You see very often this use of vague and subjective language to be able to create laws and rulings that seem common sense, but have just enough vagueness to be applied in ways that unnecessarily silence the queer community.”
As for the Ha Ha Club, Babe Baker didn’t shut down his performance after the club was forced to close. In fact, he moved it to about a mile away, to a club called Leon & Eddie’s, a nightclub first opened in New York City by Leon Enker and Eddie Davis and later moved to Miami.
He also started advertising in a “curious” fashion, Takach said. He placed ads in the Miami Herald that prominently featured the word “gay” in phrases like “gay laughs,” “gay surprises,” “gay faces,” “gay music” and “gay dancing.” Even though gay wasn’t widely used at the time to refer to queer people, Takach said Baker chose the word intentionally.
Prior to opening the Ha Ha Club in New York, Baker worked at the Howdy Club, which Takach described as “an unapologetic lesbian bar” and one of the first places in Manhattan to hire lesbians as entertainers and allow women to gather and drink without male company. Takach said it was raided by police regularly, and that the word “howdy” became synonymous code for queer.
The word “gay” similarly became a code in Baker’s newspaper ads, and the Miami Daily News caught on in 1952, Takach said. The paper criticized the Miami Herald, its competitor, for running ads for clubs like Baker’s on one page and then condemning the clubs in the Herald’s editorials. “The words ‘gay,’ ‘ha ha’ and ‘howdy’ have become beacons pointing to the hands of the perverts,” the Miami Daily News wrote, according to Takach.
Baker’s cast performed four times a night at Leon & Eddie’s, and they also went on tour across the country, selling out weeks of shows in cities including Milwaukee; Detroit; Dayton, Ohio; Minneapolis; and Spokane, Washington, Takach said.
“You could say that Broward County won the battle, but Babe Baker won the war.”
Daniel Trotter was a weighty Friend of his day, who often observed solemnly that “There is nothing but trouble this side of the grave.”
One day at a Friend’s funeral, he stood to speak by the freshly dug mound, just as a curious sailor poked his head into the Quaker burial ground to see what was going on. Trotter was gazing down into the pit and said, characteristically, “There is nothing but trouble this side of the grave.”
“Well in that case,” called the sailor helpfully, “come on over to this side, there’s no trouble over here.”
Putting A President In His Place
The story goes that Herbert Hoover could be rather gruff in manner when he felt irritated.At one private White House dinner he became piqued when one of his guests, a Quaker minister, responded to his request for a blessing by praying in a very low tone.
The exasperated president finally interrupted the prayer with a curt, “Louder, Fred–I can’t hear!”
Without looking up, the minister paused, then said, distinctly: “Herbert Hoover, I was not talking to thee.”
Preaching the Word
Our British correspondent Ben Vincent recalls an incident from his youth, in the early years of the last century. In his meeting it was then customary, when a Friend was exercised in vocal prayer, for the rest of the congregation to rise.
One First Day morning, a family coachman came in after meeting had started, sat down unnoticed on the back bench, and soon fell asleep. While dozing he began to slide off the bench, finally slipping right off and onto his knees with a bump, whereupon he was heard to exclaim, “Oh, Christ!”
At this, the entire meeting stood up.
Fortunately, the coachman was a well-versed Anglican, and after gathering his wits about him, he proceeded to recite one of the Collects from the Book of Common Prayer. His message impressed most Friends greatly, as they had never heard it before.
Pass the Seasoning
Upper Creek Monthly Meeting was once visited by a new young elder from Philadelphia.The visitor preached eloquently at First Day worship–so eloquently that Lucretia, Upper Creek’s senior minister, suspected him of being infatuated with city notions and affectations, and in need of seasoning.
Her suspicions deepened when she heard the young elder declaiming after meeting to some of the male elders.
“Friends,” he asserted, “the truly wise are always in doubt. Only the foolish are sure of their case.”
Lucretia spoke up quietly. “Is thee sure of that?”
The young elder did not hesitate. “Yes,” he answered. “Absolutely.”
“That’s what I was afraid of,” Lucretia murmured.
—- From the collection, Quakers Are Funny, by Chuck Fager
It was a week of crazy change, a couple of big wallops, and here I am still standing, head bowed but marching forward. An ace ophthalmologist broke the news that my dimming eyesight is the result of glaucoma, which makes me grateful that I’m 80 because if I were young this would be very bad news but at my age I can see a way around it.
And on the same day, the University of Michigan found out that its prized Galileo manuscript is a fake, in which Galileo noted his observations of Jupiter, which led him to challenge 17th-century dogma that the universe revolves around Earth, which made him a heretic — it’s the work of a 20th-century forger — which means (Yes!) that the universe does revolve around Earth and that FBI agents attempting to distract the nation from the Galileo hoax planted top-secret papers at Mar-a-Lago in hopes of unseating the one truly elected (by a landslide) president, Mr. Trump, who is the center of the center of the universe.
If you step outside and look at the night sky, you see clearly that indeed we are the center. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a loser.
The glaucoma news was definitive and I was glad to have it. No need to sit in more ophthalmologists’ chairs, chin on the chinrest, looking at the doctor’s earlobe as he or she peers through the scope into my dilated eyeball — I have the answer: I am (very) slowly going blind. So look to the future and make the best of the deal.
I never was a sight-seer. I know too many amateur photographers who compulsively take pictures of dewy meadows, sunsets, sunrises, wildlife, birds, more birds, and they bring out portfolios of pictures and you’re required to glance at each one and sigh — well, they don’t pass their portfolios to a blind man. He is free of it.
My wife loves fine art. I don’t. Andy Warhol exposed the art world for the sham it am and who needs it? When I gain my blindness, I’ll accompany her to the Met and I’ll wait in the coffee shop and overhear young women discussing their relationships. Mark Rothko is an empty shell compared to women’s descriptions of their partners. They know more about humanity than Van Gogh ever guessed at.
I’ve always preferred music and conversation to the visual arts. Dance is a bore, all the extensions and twirling and dippy-hippy moves. Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lakeis all you need to know, and Mahler’s Fourth and the Brandenburgs and some Chopin. Listen to them in the dark and you feel the emotional force full-strength.
My new career, beginning now, is octogenarian stand-up performance and I look forward to the day — in ten years, maybe twenty — when I walk onstage wearing black glasses, carrying a cane, and feel a wave of sympathy from the crowd and I sing:
The blind man stood in the road and cried,
Crying, O Lord, show me the way to go home.
The song is so heartfelt, people get teary-eyed and no longer do they see a white man of privilege, they see a fellow sinner in trouble, and when I have them on the verge of anguish, I go into my storytelling. Homer was a blind man who gave us the Iliad and the Odyssey and in his honor, I shall proclaim:
Speak, Memory, of myself the hero,
Lost time and again, at sea, confused,
Blinded by reckless ambition, and now,
I the wanderer have, by loss of sight,
Regained my memory and found my way
Home to my wife.
It’s a great opening. I’ll tell of my own history — I’m 80, I’ve got buckets of it — and recite poems and sing and when needed go into some blind-man jokes, many of them dirty. A sighted man couldn’t tell them, he’d be lynched, strung up, only a blind man can tell them, so I will.
Blindness is an opportunity, not a problem. Other writers give readings; I don’t. I have no paper, I let memory speak and it does and I’m amazed at what it recalls. My Crandall ancestors were driven out of the colonies in 1776 by my wife’s ancestors, the Spencers and Holmans and Griswolds, and my grandpa James Crandall came to Minnesota where his descendants crossed paths with my wife’s Holmans, and ancient enmity was buried and I fell in love with the family that stole our silverware and drove us to Canada.
So when my blindness is complete, so long as the sun keeps going around the Earth, I’ll be the greatest glaucomedian of all time. You read it here first.