Archive for September, 2010

Yabba-dabba-gee-I-must-be-getting-old! (‘The Flintstones’ turn 50)

September 30, 2010

You know, I don’t feel old …

But I just ran across Google’s home page, and instead of the usual logo, I got the above. And it hit me — could today be the 50th anniversary of “The Flintstones”?

And of course, being such a slave to logic, I clicked on the cartoon.

Yep — it was a half-century ago tonight that ABC aired the first episode of TV’s first prime-time cartoon comedy.

And now you know what the reaction’s gonna be, on a grander scale, in January 2040, when “Simpsons” fans say the same thing … (And can you imagine “The Simpsons” intro — at least before network TV chopped openings to pieces — without the classic “Flintstones” intro? Or even “Family Guy”?)

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The long arm of fear

September 30, 2010

One of the biggest fears I’ve had since starting my gender transition nearly three years ago has been the fear of violence.

My experiences with people as a woman have mostly been great; just a couple of drunk assholes who said stupid things and got a very unladylike verbal barrage from me in return. But as receptive as much of Fresno seems to be to the LGBT communities on some level, I know there are goobers out there who wouldn’t mind inflicting some physical violence, especially to a T. So I usually keep one eye open behind my head at all times.

And that fear has gone hand in hand with the fear of being stopped by a cop. Especially a Fresno cop.

And there’s good reason. I had never encountered a problem with any of them individually, and a couple of them have even been nice to me, but the city’s police department has a long, even proud, legacy of brutality — of homeless harassed, of people beaten, of people killed, some unarmed. Not all cops fall into this category, naturally, but the preponderance of documented evidence, let alone the hearsay, suggests a mindset of “We are above the law,” “We are the law” or “Fuck the law,” take your pick. And despite public attention and outcry — even national attention, after the video of two officers beating a homeless man last year made it to CNN and the blogs — it continues.

It’s very much an us-vs.-them mentality here — not much respect for the cops, just fear. And that’s among the innocent. And in a city with a very right-wing, old-boy establishment, I could only speculate what would happen if the wrong cop stopped me — a person who doesn’t fit the description of “normal” — and maybe he and his buddies decided to have a little fun … I’ve actually had daydream nightmares about this. I just keep my head low and stay away from trouble.

Well, since I’ve had to come up against most of my fears the last two years, guess what finally happened a couple nights ago?

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Love those fortune cookies, Part 6

September 29, 2010

A sure sign of my progress in losing weight (and finding my girlish figure, or something closely resembling one) is that I haven’t gone to a Chinese buffet in more than a month.

But I did go to a Chinese restaurant last night for the first time in even longer — a different place than where I usually go, but the same result: a relevant fortune cookie message:

“Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.”

What about a woman? I’m discontented enough to fill a nation right now …

Ask Aunt Fran: The pronoun thing

September 27, 2010

Hi, boys and girls (of either sex). Welcome to a new feature in Franorama World, one I’ve been threatening to start for a long time, and, well, honey, I ain’t getting younger …

Welcome to Ask Aunt Fran.

This is where I help my friends, family and total strangers understand this creature who used to be a boy — or at least look like one — but is now a girl. I’ll be using this space regularly to answer — anonymously, of course, unless you want the attention — questions you might have about the hows and whys of this wild trip of mine.

If I can make at least one person understand this a little better — help one person not have to go through as much agonizing, moralizing, debating, wailing, gnashing of teeth, fear and just plain bullshit as I did for 40 years, then I’ve succeeded. If I can cut through the mist of ignorance and lack of information and make you understand better what’s happening, then that’s great.

Please understand — oh God, here comes the lawyer weasel-type disclaimer — that my answers are based on my own experiences with transgender matters. Everyone’s experience is different — similar but different. I’m not a psychiatrist or any other sort of mental or physical healthcare expert. I’m just one of the girls who’s going through this.

Anyway, I have a bunch of questions I’ll be addressing as I go along. If you have any questions about my gender trip or trans matters in general, please email them to franoramaworld@gmail.com. (Or if you know my personal email, that works fine, too.) And remember: Your identity will remain anonymous unless you request otherwise.

OK, the introductory portion of our program is over. Roll ’em …

And the first question is …

“So do I call you ‘he’ or ‘she’?”

Yes, the pronoun thing …

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This car of mine …

September 27, 2010

The sun is setting on my car at last.

Note: This post was just about good to go a week and a half ago, but all the big stuff in my life got in the way. So now, without further interruptions, roll ’em:

Monday (Sept. 13) I reached an anniversary I wasn’t anticipating for a number of reasons. Well, location and economic necessity and just plain resilience, to name three.

And in a disposable society, it’s inconceivable that anyone holds onto a car for 10 years unless it’s a classic.

Well, I consider my 1993 Toyota Celica GT a classic — even if, like an old stadium, it’s starting to crumble. And it was 10 years ago Monday that I bought it.

I hope it lasts me another 10 more, though I know full well it won’t. I’m just hoping it holds up until I get another job.

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It’s a girl!

September 22, 2010

A better version of what will appear on my license when it arrives.

It was a difficult birth after one of the longest labors known to humankind. But the baby finally arrived at 4:30 p.m. PDT.

Name: Fran J. Fried. Height: 5-9 1/2. Weight: You don’t want to know. Date of birth: Sept. 21, 2010. Place of birth: California Department of Motor Vehicles Branch, Olive Avenue and Weber Street, Fresno.

It’s a girl.

As of yesterday (Sept. 21), the state of California officially recognizes me as female. Certainly not your usual chica, but a girl nonetheless.

I am now free to move about the country. And get a passport with F on it, too, since the State Department recently relaxed its rules on gender identity to fall in line with most of the rest of the world.

And since I’m not planning on having sexual reassignment surgery, barring some incredible circumstance, this is about as official as it gets. Almost all the heavy lifting is over. Almost. This effectively ends a process that was set in motion 2 years, 8 months and 12 days before — the night I had my epiphany about the gender thang — but in reality has been ongoing since, well, my actual birth.

And this rebirth brings up the philosophical question: Is it possible to have your second birth after you begin your second adolescence?

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Joke of the day

September 20, 2010

Want something funny to start off your week? Here goes. From AP:

The longest recession the country has endured since the Great Depression ended in June 2009, a group that dates the beginning and end of recessions declared Monday.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, a panel of academic economists based in Cambridge, Mass., said the recession lasted 18 months. It started in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. Previously the longest post World War II downturns were those in 1973-1975 and in 1981-1982. Both of those lasted 16 months.

The NBER decision makes official what many economists have believed for some time, that the recession ended in the summer of 2009. But it won’t make much difference to most Americans — especially the nearly 15 million without jobs.

Americans are coping with 9.6 percent unemployment, scant wage gains, weak home values and the worst foreclosure market in decades.

They’ll be hear all week, ladies and gentlemen. A big hand for the National Bureau of Economic Research! Let’s hear it! Stick around for the Starland Vocal Band …

MOVIE REVIEW: Much to ‘Howl’ about, some to bitch about

September 19, 2010

“I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the Negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix …”

James Franco owns Allen Ginsberg in "Howl," coming soon to a theater near you. Photo: Oscilloscope Laboratories

And thus, at a reading at San Francisco’s Six Gallery on Oct. 7, 1955, began the skyrocket ascension of an unpublished 29-year-old poet, a New Yorker, an openly gay Jewish man then living in San Francisco. Allen Ginsberg unleashed his word-shattering “Howl” on the world and influenced subsequent generations of poets for better and worse.

And, with his liberal use of sexual and drug imagery, he created a major test case; Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights Bookstore and City Lights Press, who first published “Howl and Other Poems” in 1956, was brought to trial on obscenity charges in San Francisco the following year.

With a general lack of intellectual curiosity in this cowtown of a half-million, plus one small organization (Fresno Filmworks) that only has the wherewithal to show one film for two screenings one night a month, it’s rare that we get any first-run art-house fare here. But not only did we get that, we were fortunate to see “Howl” a week ahead of its widespread release, thanks to a screening Friday (Sept. 17) at Reel Pride, the city’s 21st annual LGBT film festival.

What the rest of you will get to see in the coming weeks is a fantastic, perhaps career-defining performance by James Franco, who’s not only excelling in showing his versatility, but reveling in it. Also, we see some excellent editing and pacing. But at the same time, we also get a pedestrian story and some annoying and wrongheaded animation.

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What’s in a name? (Name Day, Sept. 16)

September 17, 2010

Francis Joseph Fried.

There — I said it. I can’t believe I wrote it of my own free will.

For one of the final times in my life.

If you don’t know me well — or maybe even if you do — you don’t know how much the name sends nails on blackboard through me.

My own name.

But it was the one I was given when I popped out of Mom years ago. And while I’ve gone by Fran since, say, freshman year of high school, it keeps popping up in my life. And it reminds me of years of pain. I might be a lot happier these days, unemployment aside, but I’m blessed/cursed with a damn good memory, and the memory of pain, especially emotional pain, never truly goes away.

And thanks to Big Brother’s tightening of rules on official ID names in recent years — most especially in air travel — I’ve been forced against my will to use the name on flights and at the Department of Motor Vehicles. And it’s made me cringe to have to just type the damn name in, in a way that you might not comprehend.

Well, no more.

This was something I was planning on doing when the time was right, long before I even had my gender epiphany. The time was finally right.

I call it my last official act of manhood.

I went to court yesterday morning as Francis; I left, legally in the eyes of the state of California, as Fran.

Three little letters. One huge bit of relief.

I no longer have to cringe when I book flights. I no longer have to use that name on official documents. From here on out, it’s Fran Fried, plain and simple.

Free at last. Or should I say Fried at last.

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What the hell am I doing?

September 11, 2010

One of the most annoying — but most necessary — parts of this whole gender transition trip of mine is what I call the mental speedbumps.

I get to a certain point in the journey when everything is going wonderfully, it seems, and from out of nowhere, a voice inside yells out:

“What the hell are you doing?”

It seems to happen just as I’m about to take a big leap of some sorts.

Like next week.

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