Jones of the Nile

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Sometimes I think the most creative people in the world are social justice activists.

Take these cats at the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), who staged a Thanksgiving protest/demonstration during Chicago's annual Thanksgiving parade. McDonald's happened to be the lead co-sponsor of the parade, and also target number one of the CIW.

The CIW has been trying to dialogue with McDonald's for the past two years over the labor conditions and wages of the farmers who pick the produce that's used in McDonald's supply chain. These farmers are not employed by McDonald's. Nonetheless, the campaign is an effort to get companies like McDonald's to use their considerable influence to ensure that their food providers are treated fairly, equitably, and humanely.

McDonald's has refused to dialogue with the CIW, though. As a result, CIW activists, including "Ronaldo the Clown" - Ronald's "ethical half-brother" according to the CIW - descended on this McDonald's sponsored parade with a message: dialogue with us, bitches.

There are some great photos here. The CIW passed out flyers during the parade, educating parade spectators on the efforts made by McDonald's to silence farmworker organizers, and push them away from the negotiating table.

If you're interested in writing your local McDonald's a letter (and we all have a local McDonald's, unless we live on the last space of pristine earth around!), you can download a template here. The CIW is encouraging folks to speak out about the rights of farmworkers. One letter to a local manager might not mean much, but the action reverberates up the corporate ladder. These tactics worked successfully against Taco Bell, and though it took more than four years, CIW activists were able to get Taco Bell to come out and support efforts to make work more humane, just and fair for the workers who supply the restaurant with its food.

Let's make McDonald's do the same.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Love 'em or hate 'em?

Nothing like a hot photo of Carol Channing in pink to liven up a blog!

Channing is currently in the midst of a war of words with the press over her reported comments to the Gay Peoples' Chronicle. Rumor has it that Channing, long beloved by the gay community, might have some issues with the gays. Here's what she supposedly said:

"I don’t think about them. I’m grateful that they seem to like me. They’re terribly loyal to me. But I’m knee-deep in the Bible and you know what it says about that."

Channing's publicist blew a gasket...most likely because 95% of Carol Channing's fans probably swing to one side of the Kinsey scale. He cries misquote.

Me? I cry "Cut back on the eyeshadow, Dolly!"

I guess we'll see where this goes.

Oh, in other news, Nancy Pelosi was approved by her colleagues to be the next Speaker of the House. So stop reading my blog and go check out or something!

Personally, I'll still hum along to her rendition of "Hello, Dolly."

Sunday, November 12, 2006


I always knew Sen. Russ Feingold was a long-shot for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination, but I was at least hoping he'd run for the selfish fact that it would give me someone to feel good about voting for.

Alas, Sen. Feingold has decided against running, which will probably be in the best interests of his health, sanity, and overall demeanor.

Meanwhile this week, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack announced he would seek the nomination. I don't know Tom Vilsack from a hole in the wall, though he was born in Pittsburgh, which scores automatic points with me.

Wow, not even one week after the midterm elections, it's already time for 2008. I think we're living in a political industry complex.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Keeping up with the Joneses

Yeah, I know I should be blogging about how wonderful it is that the Democrats now control the House, and possibly soon the Senate (Viva Webb!).

But, hey, there are other things happening in the world, too, like this world-record-setting convergence of Joneses in Wales. Wales is my home country, so to speak, and people tell me that this fact should guarantee that I'd have a nice singing voice. What a crock! I'm somewhere between a cricket and...a dead cricket.

But let's hear it for the Joneses. They even got Grace Jones to show up and sing Slave to the Rhythm!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Good Grief

Later this morning, I'll be attending a church service to mark "All Souls Day," a day in which people remember those who have died and gone before. This year the day feels especially relevant to me, as earlier this Fall I lost a dear friend, Jeff Mendez, to cancer. It only took about three and a half weeks from the time his cancer reoccured to the day his kidneys stopped working and shut down. Another friend of mine is currently with her mother, who is in hospice, another victim of cancer.

Death and loss are such a heavy burden to bear. Whether it's the physical loss of a loved one, the loss of time, or the end of a life's chapter, the grief can certainly leave us broken and beaten down. I know there are moments where I ache to go back five years, ten years, twenty years, and be back in a moment that felt particularly special. Like the last time my entire family sat down at a table and ate, before brothers and sisters went to college, got married, took jobs out of town. Or back to a time when my dad or mom could carry me up to bed when I fell asleep on the couch, before my mom had her stroke, before I got older.

I think the fact that life is just too god damn fast can really leave us broken.

But as Ernest Hemingway said, "The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong at the broken places." Doesn't that account for a healthy chunk of life: tending to our broken places.

For those that weave down the path of remembrance every once in a while, here is a poem by Washington Allston that usually makes me teary, especially as I watch my own parents grow old.

Especially as I watch myself grow older.

It all goes by so fast. It's good to remind ourselves that time can't take everything with it.

AH, then how sweetly closed those crowded days!
The minutes parting one by one like rays,
That fade upon a summer's eve.
But O, what charm or magic numbers
Can give me back the gentle slumbers
Those weary, happy days did leave?
When by my bed I saw my mother kneel,
And with her blessing took her nightly kiss;
Whatever Time destroys, he cannot this;--
E'en now that nameless kiss I feel.

- Washington Allston

Have a great day, everyone.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Shout Out

Congratulations are in order for my former boss, Dave Robinson, for landing top billing on for his article, This Election, Values Voters Should Choose the Common Good Over Fascism.

My favorite line:

Today, the polarization that infects our nation and its political discourse works as a ready tool for current day fascists to deflect and divide. There is no room for common ground when a cynical manipulation of “faith” demonizes all “others.’ There is no room for common ground when every challenge is framed as “us’ against “them.” This elimination of common ground leaves little place to make the case for the common good. But it is that very case that we must make.

The "Celebrity Trifecta" is complete

Doogie Howser M.D., aka Neil Patrick Harris, is gay. My first reaction?


But I do find it interesting that in less than three months, three male celebrities have come out (or been outed, depending on who you talk to and how you look at it). Lance Bass, T.R. Knight (George from Grey's Anatomy), and now Harris. Do these things always come in three?

Creativity is not the work of a few

As more and more Mike Jones' continue to make national news (2001 - we saved the superbowl for the St. Louis Rams; 2004 - we became superstar rappers; two days ago, we came out as a male escort and knocked a megachurch pastor down a peg), I'm feeling this weird need to prove myself in this world. I know, it's stupid. But no one wants to be invisible.

But perhaps invisibility is the point sometimes, so long as we're living lives rooted in some sense of connection to the other. Here's a great quote from writer Elizabeth O'Connor, taken from the Pax Christi USA website.

“We are to cast out demons, be healers, artists, musicians, the builders of caring institutions. Creativity is not the work of a few. … We each have the task of making the earth into a fairer, kinder place. The first step is imaging a better world, and that is most apt to happen when we suffer or look upon suffering.”

Friday, November 03, 2006

Haggard fallout

Great post from Amy Sullivan on the Ted Haggard gay sex scandal. She hits a's not about finger-wagging on the left, even though it's tempting, given how vitriolic Haggard has been in his anger toward the gay community. Take it away, Amy:

This, however, is a scandal involving a shephard of the flock itself. If it turns out there is truth to the allegations, the story will reverberate further and longer than any of the scandals of the 1980s (Swaggart, Bakker, etc.) because it involves not just personal behavior, but an issue that conservative evangelicals have made extremely clear is one of their two top priorities. And I wonder how or if this will affect the condemnation of homosexuality in general within conservative evangelical circles. After all, we know that people's attitudes change once they learn that someone they know is gay. A lot of evangelicals know (or at least know of) Haggard. If indeed he has been involved with a gay man, that could blow a lot of evangelical minds.

Leave it to Mike Jones

For those who don't know, my real name is Mike Jones. There was a point in time where I thought, "Hey, I don't want people to know my real name online."

Then it hit name is Mike Jones. If you google "Mike Jones," it would take you an entire weekend just to muddy through the search results. In other words, it doesn't matter who knows who I am, as there are so many of me I could form a small army.

As many of you have probably heard by now, megachurch preacher Ted Haggard (who once made it known that President Bush returns his phone calls within 24 hours) has admitted to some gay indiscretions. I have no idea if by indiscretion, he means full on anus to penis shenanigans, or if he just got some action in a gym shower room, or whatever. I don't care.

What I heart about this story is the dude who leaked this to the press. Read on...

Local news in Colorado is now reporting that Pastor Haggard admits to at least some of the charges levied against him by former male escort Mike Jones -- presumably the ones that can be verified by voicemail messages Jones claims to have saved for posterity.

First, I am not that Mike Jones. He's 49, and I'm 27 (for two more days). And yes, a former male escort probably isn't the pillar of moral sanctity in our society (but then again, former drug addicts get elected president nowadays, so what do I know?). But I have to admit...even I get a chuckle out of this one.

I could philosophize now on how this is just one more example of how repressing your sexuality just really f*cks you up. But why bother? Whether it's Mark Foley, Ted Haggard, or Jim McGreevy, their stories are riveting lessons themselves of the damage caused by not being who you are.

The sad thing in all of this are the broken families that get left behind. McGreevy had a wife and kids, Haggard has a wife and a bushel of children, and Foley...well, I don't really know about him. Chiding folks for not "coming out" of course isn't the way to go...I mean, I have to respect that everyone is in different circumstances, and we all come with our attache cases full of emotional baggage. But herein lies the argument for creating a society that welcomes all sexual orientations, so that fewer and fewer people are forced into living lies to conform to who they are not.

It will be interesting to see how forgiving the evangelical community is over the course of the next few days and weeks. I think the answer to that question will show which folks actually take the message of Jesus to heart, and which folks use their religion as a form of demonizing the other.