Author Archives: Alyson Chadwick

Diary of a random white woman

I am probably one of the whitest people on earth. I did the thing and learned I am 90 percent English/Irish/Scottish/Welsh and 20 percent French and Norweigan.

When people see me, they see a well educated, very articulate woman who grew up in an upper-middle-class area on Long Island. All of that is true. None of that tells the whole story. It is true that I had a lot of advantages from all of that. Advantages that have not always been afforded to people who are black or brown. These advantages have opened doors for me that might not have been opened for other people of other races.

Having said that, my life is not what people may think.

Here’s what that view of me misses:

Neither of my parents was really ready to have kids. My dad was a violent sociopath and my mother is a raging narcissist. After he cheated on her and was physically abusive, she left him. I cannot blame her for that but she left me, too.

She went to Iceland and I was left in an untenable situation. Not only was god old dad physically and emotionally abusive, no one wanted to take actual responsibility for me. We only had food in the fridge because I demanded it. I never had more than two pairs of pants because no one wanted to pay for clothes for me. I love my grandmother, Judy, but she always kept me in the newest tennis attire but refused to buy me clothes for school because “that’s your father’s responsibility.” You can guess what his response was.

Having only one or two pairs of pants is something they notice in the upper-middle-class area I grew up in. I was always the outcast. The teasing was unrelenting and horrible. By day I was teased non-stop (and it did not help that my parents were divorcing — Why are your parents getting a divorce? Is it because they hate you?) and by night I was abused by daddy dearest.

When I was 17, I moved out of my father’s house and in with my grandmother. He had tried to kill me (twice) and I didn’t feel safe. Years later I would wonder why that didn’t happen sooner. The real reason is that Judy didn’t want it to. I wasn’t her daughter or her responsibility. These are issues that haunt me today.

I am writing this from a beautiful house in Stony Brook, NY. My view is incredible. I have this house now because after I moved away from my father, he bought the house I was living in. To put a finer point on this, my grandmother sold her house to the man who had tried to kill me leaving me SOL. At the time, I saw the silver lining. Eventually, I would get the house.

Last year, my dad choked on a piece of meat and I got the house (along with a large mortgage). I feel like, in addition to the second mortgage I am paying, I paid for this place with blood, sweat and tears. I am grateful to be able to live here but this was not an easy row to hoe.

I am hurt when people say things like “white women are the worst” or when they look at me only through the prism of white privilege. I grew up isolated, alone and horribly sad. I am lucky in a lot of ways but my life is not what people think it has been.

I am sorry we all had to say goodbye to Kobe Bryant

So, the world lost Kobe Bryant this week. I read this piece about how white women have reacted to this news. I was offended by it before I read it. Then I did read it and saw way too much of myself in it. Hearing about high profile people raping or sexually assaulting women hits a nerve. It would also not be a stretch to say I am obsessed with serial killers.

To be honest, when I heard the news about Bryant’s death, I was just shocked. You don’t expect to hear about healthy 41-year-old men dying suddenly. Like many other women, I hope most, I did not jump on social media to rant against people who are in mourning. I did think about the charges that were leveled against him about 20 years ago and I reflected on that and why that was my first thought.

There are a few reasons for this. One, I don’t follow basketball all that closely so I was not up to date on Bryant’s life. More likely is that as a rape victim and a victim of sexual harassment, it just strikes a nerve. A very painful nerve.

But I reflected on that and read up on Bryant. Like every other person, including me, he made mistakes. Afterward he did so much for so many people in the world of sports and beyond that, I realized that, as I hope to be forgiven for my mistakes, this was a person who deserved more than to be judged on one incident.

This is a quote from that piece:

“In my opinion this all stems from the fact that America can’t see Black people as human. Humans can make mistakes, humans can be redeemed, humans can be exonerated, and humans can be forgiven. Monsters and beasts cannot.”

Neruda Williams, Comedian, NYC

I hate that this is true. I hate that we judge people on things like their skin color, religion, sexual orientation, gender or gender identification to form our opinion of them. I have written a lot about how we need to stop treating people like they are disposable because none of us are.

I was also offended by “Dear White Women” because I felt personally slandered and judged by how other white women are behaving on social media, which is also unfair. No one should be judged by social media. Do people go there to be polite or compassionate? Not in my experience.

I am sorry to everyone who is in mourning for Kobe Bryant, whether you knew him or not. I am ashamed that my first thought was about an event that may or may not have happened decades ago.

Meet Tom Miller

One of the first people I met in Florida was Tom Miller. When I first moved to Gainesville several years ago, I wanted to get involved in my new community. As a comedian, I also wanted to perform comedy but wasn’t optimistic about my prospects. One person I met my first week in the city told me about an open mic/variety show Tom Miiller did. Here is one of my first performances at the Tabernacle and another one.

Enter the Tabernacle of Hedonsim hosted by Tom Miller

The Tabernacle of Hedonism hosted by Tom Miller just celebrated its 35 birthday recently. Some have called it the “longest-running variety show in America.” It has a very dedicated audience who have followed it from venue to venue around the city, which he likes to call “the center of the known universe.”

What is a typical show like? There is no typical show. Every week offers a different experience. No matter what happens at the weekly show, it is always entertaining. But all of this sounds like a very clinical report of something that is not. Miller is a great promoter of the freedom of expression. There is NO censorship. At one show, they had the stage in the windowfront of the venue and the “Naked Poet” took it all off. Passersby on the street had no idea what to think. Neither did I.

Artists need a space to feel safe to create

For me, the best part of the show is the feeling of safety in what I did. I am a comedian. I want to make people laugh. I also am a satirist and sometimes good satire is not always funny. Add to that the fact that sometimes I just want to rail against a society that has turned its back on truth and facts and you get me searching for a place to express that. I found opportunities to do all of that at the Tabernacle. Whatever I did, I always found support for it here. Even when I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, people supported me.

But wait, there’s more

So, Tom Miller is a performance artist. Yes and no. Miller has done some amazing performance art — installations? Exhibits? I am not sure what they are called officially but from his tribute to Truman Capote to staring at Ted Cruz‘s mouth for hours on end, his pieces work on every level.

Lest you think that is all he does, Miller has more for you. He writes stage and screenplays. The Accrosstown Theatre ran his play, UMMU last year. I have been lucky enough to have read several of his screenplays, including Elmer’s Saucer. If that does not get made into a movie, it will be proof to me that everything good in the world has died.

Recently, I started to seriously listen to his music. I am currently obsessed with Little Green Girl, which reminds me of David Bowie and David Byrne but like everything he does, his music is just fantastic. And I have not even gotten to his paintings.

I could go on for days about how impressed and inspired I am by Miller. While I was in Gainesville, he made me want to be more creative. Now that I am in New York, his influence is still there. I am pursuing my creative dreams more than ever before. I also want more of the world to experience the genius of Tom Miller. We all need a little more of his brand of art in our lives.

Here is my most recent video that I have from there. Learn more about him here.

not safe

We are less, not more, safe now

This is not going to be a nice post. This is an angry post. This is me asking all of you Trump supporters to pull your heads out of your asses. The lack of air is destroying your brain. When President Trump, never one to rely on empirical facts, said the United States was in a better position and Iran is weakened now, he was either lying or just as dumb as dirt. We are less safe now.

Here are the reasons we have emboldened Iran and made the world a much more dangerous place for Americans and American interests.

The Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader, has said the military strike against us was “not enough.”

What does that mean? Iran could have hit the sites with much more lethal weapons. Why didn’t he? Because Iran doesn’t want a full-on war with the United States. To make that problem go away, they launch a less than lethal strike. Iran informed Iraq that the attack was coming so they could move people out of the way. Also, an Iranian commander has vowed “harsher revenge on the U.S.” Using the Don’s favorite medium, the supreme leader tweeted this:

How are we safer again?

But Iran doesn’t have the ability to attack the U.S.

How would they alone fare against the U.S? Not well. The problem is they are not alone. First of all, they have proxy groups all over the region. Their allies are all over the Middle East. Who are they? They have Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and others. What Iran may not want to directly, they have friends to do the job. Then, they can claim “we had no idea” and avoid that all-out war with us. This means the world in a much more dangerous place for us and our friends (Israel, I am looking at you.) Does that look like increased safety?

Let’s not forget about cyber attacks.

If North Korea can hack into Sony’s systems, leak unflattering emails and force a film to go directly to streaming services, you can bet Iran can do something similar or worse. This is one of the ways it works its terrorist mojo around the planet. Remember the entire U.S. intel community said Russia hacked a number of systems around our country. Check this out if you need a refresher course on that.

When we killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, we killed a national hero .

We also made him a martyr. We united a nation against us when they had been against their own government. From that Los Angeles Times piece:

“Religious leaders in Iran are extremely apt and capable in producing symbolism and creating a culture of politics in which they can incorporate nationalism and faith,” said Ali Akbar Mahdi, a sociology professor at Cal State Northridge. “They are utilizing all kinds of symbolism and tying it in sense of victimhood and how Shiites have suffered and now have to fight.”

The people of Iran were mad at their supreme leader for a number of reasons. Reformers railed against him and wanted real changes to the way things are done there. If you believe the whole, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, you can see why killing a national hero is going to bring some backlash. If you think they all just hate Americans for the sake of hating Americans, you should do a Google search you can find reports of the candlelight vigils they had for us in the aftermath of 9/11. You can do some of your own research. Time Magazine put it this way:

For several months this fall and winter, tens of thousands of Iraqis poured into the streets in giant protests against government corruption and against Iran’s dominance in their country, nearly bringing Iraq to a standstill and forcing Iraq’s Prime Minister Abd Al-Mahdi to offer his resignation; he remains as a caretaker head of government while the fractious parliamentary groups squabble over who will succeed him.

Vivienne Walt — Time Magazine

Iran has pledged to go “full speed ahead” on nuclear weapon development.

Sure, #ConDon has told the world that by withdrawing from the Iran deal, they have stopped but they just announced they are going back to it. When that deal was in force, they had stopped. What incentive do they have now? None. And if you think the money they received was some kind of gift, I reiterate my call to take your head out of your ass. That was money they had paid us for military technology they were buying but we never delivered because of the revolution of 1979 and the ouster of the American backed Shah. Look it all up. If you don’t believe something I write, I invite you to look it up. I am not making this up.

Iraq will kick our troops out of their country.

There has been a movement to get us out for a while and who can blame them after we assassinated a high ranking member of the Iranian military on their own soil. Do you think the Iraqis wanted to be stuck in the middle of a U.S./Iran war? Would you?

The war on ISIS has been paused making us all less safe.

In the first place, some Iraqis think it will harder to fight ISIS now that Suleimanu is dead. Did your jaw just drop? From the aforementioned Time piece:

The U.S. strike against Soleimani has handed the ISIS remnants an unwitting victory, by stoking anger among Iraqis against the group’s archenemy, the Americans, and diverting their attention from other grievances.

Vivienne Walt

Not only that but NATO has scaled back their work to fight ISIS and have paused their work on this Iraq completely. While Trump has proposed getting out of NATO in the past, this week he asked for their help and after his statements about article V, they don’t seem to be inclined to step in. Can you blame them? We have said we may not follow through on our commitments unless we are paid for it. That is not a good way to keep us safe either.

I am not going into the long American history of harming people in other nations to advance our national interests and assassinating political leaders with whom we disagree. (Don’t believe me? Do some research. There are many reasons we aren’t always trusted and sometimes hated.) We have not always been seen as the “shining city on a hill,” that Ronald Reagan spoke of but I think we strive to be.

When I think of America, I see that shining city on a hill. Assassinating people we don’t like is not something we should be doing. That is what dictators do. That’s what leaders of banana republics do. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said it best when she said, “This is not about how bad they are but how good we are.” I saw her say that this morning and am sure I butchered the quote but you can see the point.

Bottom line: Neither Americans nor American interests are safer today than when this saga started. This is President Trump’s tale/tail wagging the dog to get attention off the impeachment process.

Stony Brook Saga

It’s beautiful, right?

This is the view from my bedroom in Stony Brook, NY. When I was growing up, my grandmother, Judy, lived here and this was her room. Although I grew up with this view, I never appreciated it. It’s funny, I was quote the north shore of Long Island snob and appreciated splitting my time between here and San Francisco. I appreciated that but not the view.

The journey back has been a little overwhelming. As a renter, I never had to worry about getting the ducts cleaned or the chimney repaired. I just called someone and whatever problem I was having was taken care of tout suit.

This is where I always knew I would end up. When my father bought the place from Judy, I was excited because I knew I would up here when he died. That happened last year. Truthfully, I also always knew that I would not know how to react to this. I cannot count how many nightmares I have had that he is still alive. And then there is the part of me that wishes I could punch him the face. Karma took care of him. He died choking on a piece of meatloaf.

My first visit back was surreal, to say the least. I had been warned that the place was a mess and while it was habitable, it was gross. The basement reminded me of the basement of American Horror Story; Murder House. I even found my other grandmother’s cremated remains. So creepy.

And now here I am. In a place with a memory for every emotion. Happiness, joy, sadness, loss, hurt, anguish, teenage angst, loss, love and some hate is thrown in for good measure. I am slowly getting the house into better shape. The basement will be redone soon and the carpet (installed in the 1980s) is gone. I got rid of a lot of stuff and moved my stuff in.

I was looking at the view the other day and I felt some things I have not felt in a long time. Happiness. Contentment. Joy. Just looking at the window, I have finally come home.