Were We Just Less Clumsy In My Day?


We swung on swings and climbed on monkey bars and rode bikes and skated and even rode horses without any protective gear of any kind. We even did all this on bare CONCRETE! Of course, we also ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and drank Kool-Aid. How the fuck did we all survive all these years?

Monkey bars alert: Playground concussions are on the rise

LINDSEY TANNER,Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — Playground concussions are on the rise, according to a new government study, and monkey bars and swings are most often involved.

Most injuries studied were mild, but all concussions are potentially serious and the researchers say the trend raises public health and safety concerns.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study examined national 2001-2013 data on playground injuries to kids aged 14 and younger who received emergency-room treatment. Of almost 215,000 kids on average treated yearly, almost 10 percent — about 21,000 annually — had traumatic brain injuries including concussions. Only nonfatal injuries were included.

Here are some key findings, published online Monday in Pediatrics:


In 2005, 23 out of 100,000 kids had traumatic brain injuries, a rate that jumped to 48 out of 100,000 in 2013. The rate declined in the previous years but increased steadily after that. By 2013, the annual total was almost 30,000 kids treated for these brain injuries.

The rise may mean parents are becoming increasingly aware of the potential seriousness of concussions and the need for treatment. It’s also possible more kids are using playground equipment, the researchers said.


Only 3 percent of kids with concussions were hospitalized or transferred elsewhere for additional treatment; 95 percent were sent home after ER treatment. Half of the head injuries were in kids ages 5 to 9 and injuries were more common in boys. Symptoms weren’t listed but signs of concussions after a blow to the head can include headaches, dizziness, confusion, nausea and vomiting.


Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury typically resulting from a blow to the head that jostles the brain and temporarily disrupts brain function. Symptoms can last days or weeks and while most kids completely recover, repeated blows to the head have been linked with brain damage — most notably in some retired NFL players.

Dr. Jeneita Bell, a CDC brain injury specialist who co-authored the study, said the results highlight “that sports is not the only important cause of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries for children.”


Playground equipment most commonly involved in concussions included monkey bars and swings. The study lacked details on how kids got hurt but many concussions result from falls and the researchers’ recommendations include using soft ground surfaces including wood chips or sand, rather than concrete.

The researchers said adult supervision is key to helping prevent these injuries. They also recommend checking to make sure playground equipment is in good condition.

Bell also recommends reading playground signs “and using playground equipment that is right for your child’s age.”

In The Beginning, God Was Bored


Was God bored?


In the beginning, God created the world.  This was a good idea.  Then he put humans in it.  This was not such a good idea.  He then added Satan in the guise of a deceitful, cunning serpent to crawl in and “tempt” Eve with some forbidden fruit. TEMPT. Now,  “tempt” to me suggests a Krispy Kreme waved in your face when you’re on a sugar, dairy and gluten–free diet. “Tempt” suggests lifetime free beer when you’re struggling to maintain sobriety. What Satan did was offer to Eve the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the opportunity to become like God.  Actually, gods, because in the beginning, God wasn’t a lone wolf.  He was a plural.

So how does Eve respond to this “temptation”?  She protests, of course.  She says to Satan the Serpent “God told us not to eat of that tree because we will die”.  Then Satan/Serpent ups the ante.  “No”, he says, “You will not die.  You will become gods.”  So she eats it.  So does Adam.

Now Adam was obviously a really wimpy dude.  He doesn’t even have the balls to refuse.  He just takes the fruit from Eve and devours it.  But somehow, Eve ends up being the bloody manipulative harpy that cursed all humankind for eternity (until the Jews came along a few thousand years later but we’ll come to that).

God is omnipotent and infallible.  God knows everything and everyone.  God knows what people are going to do before they even think it.  Not only does he know ahead of time that Satan Serpent will crawl in and make this offer, he knows the foolish humans will fall for it.  And it’s not all that hard to predict what happens next.  The sorry and naked humans are banished from this paradise of Eden and go off to sweat and toil and procreate incestuously in pain and misery until such time as they return to the dust from whence they came.  (Or at least until God decides he’s sorry he made humans and sends a flood to destroy all but Noah, Noah’s family, several thousand species of widely geographically and biologically diverse fauna, and then sends a rainbow to show he will be merciful in the future).  All in accordance with God’s plan, because after all, he foresaw this whole episode.  Right?


I won’t presume to question God’s infinite wisdom and ability to the predict the future, nor question his motives for this seemingly incomprehensible behavior.  On second thought, yes-I will presume.  God seems to me a sadistic and petulant little boy.  Why would anyone create something bound for failure?  I know Christians think it wasn’t so much his failure as much as Adam and Eve’s (mostly Eve’s).  The whole point of this exercise was to show God’s infinite benevolence and forgiveness despite the atrocious sinful nature of humans.  He, after all, gifted us with “free will”.

God loves unconditionally.  But does he?  Basically, if you obey him, never question his judgment and don’t fall for his deceitful little tricks (i.e., Satan as Snake), he will bless you forever.  Otherwise, if you only have the knowledge God gave you but fuck up anyway, off you go to burn in hell forever.  Free will?  Unconditional love?  That doesn’t sound very free and unconditional to me.  That doesn’t sound like a father who dotes on his children despite their flaws.  What it sounds like is a father who intentionally places grape juice within grabbing distance of his toddler, knowing full well how risky this would be, and then goes into a vengeful rage when the kid predictably behaves irresponsibly and spills grape juice all over dad’s nice cream Berber carpet.

Now in my family, we kids weren’t allowed to be kids.  Spilling milk, let alone grape juice, was frowned upon as a sin tantamount to farting, which wasn’t allowed either.  We were prohibited from even uttering the word “fart” as adjective; never mind engaging in the act as noun.  All bodily functions were looked upon as horrors to be fought against, silenced and certainly never mentioned aloud.  I didn’t fart until I was 22 years old.  Was this unique to my family?  Hardly.  I’m sure it was just the residual Victorian generational modesty which produced my parents’ timidity.  Or maybe it was one of the few things they actually had control over.  Parents, like most people (and God), like to have control.

Making too much noise, splashing in the bathtub and coloring outside the lines was also not allowed.  As far as my parents were concerned, perfection wasn’t all that difficult to aspire to.  That we continually fell short of attaining perfection was fodder for resentment and pretty unabashed contempt.  Once, when I was about 7, I was trying to help my dad build a deck in our backyard.  He sent me into the garage for some 16 penny nails.  I didn’t know from 16 penny-I just guessed that since pennies were small denomination coins, the smallest nails must be what he was looking for.  If I had murdered the next door neighbor’s cat, I couldn’t have committed a worse crime.  He looked with disgust at the the handful of nails clutched in my tiny little fist, made a sarcastic remark about the subterranean level of my intelligence and went off to fetch the correct nails.  I did threaten to murder the next door neighbor’s cat, by the way.  I was pretty sure kitty had eaten Charlie, our pet box turtle.

When I question God about all these things, I get no reply.   So I ask Satan instead.  Satan answers me.  He says people were given free will and the choice of living a good life or an evil one but I argue that God told him to tell me that.  He says no, we really do have choices.  If we follow him (Satan), we will have a profitable and charmed life on earth but eventually we’ll have to follow him to his bargain basement below street level abode where the environment would be tropical and rather noisy.  God made Satan, he tells me.  But God is good, I counter.  Yes, says Satan.  But God knows people can’t follow rules and do the right thing no matter what consequences there might be and so he made Satan as a not-so-subtle reminder of what awaits them after this earthly life is finished.


“Who is responsible for all this politically correct, New Age bullshit – you or God?”  Strictly a human construct, Satan tells me.  Why would I give a rat’s ass if you are offended by another person’s words or actions?  “What about God?  Doesn’t he have a stake in this Universal paradigm and how people interact within it?”

God told Neale Donald Walsch there is no right and wrong, at least according to Neale Donald Walsch.  Charles Manson told his “family” the same thing, at least according to some members of his “family”.  Satan says right and wrong are relative; killing isn’t always wrong.  Sometimes it’s justified.  Like beheading Saudi women for driving cars and being unfaithful.

“Why is it this right and wrong thing only seems to happen in the US”, I ask Satan.  “Don’t people in Muslim countries have a sense of right and wrong, too?”  Satan laughs.  I think he thinks I’m a hopeless case.

Whether you live in the US or Iran or China or Rwanda or South Africa, or places where no one ever engages in evil like Switzerland, Sweden, Finland and Norway, evil is everywhere and in everyone.  God knows this; God made you, after all.  He knows you have a weak nature and have trouble resisting evil.  By the same token, he knows you have a propensity for pretending otherwise; that you are strong and always do the righteous thing, and denigrate others for not being more like you (Jesus-like).

I personally can’t deal with all this cognitive dissonance.  So I guess I’m doomed.

OK, non sequitur (sort of):

Just today I read that Austrian scientists find 86 percent of Holy Water contains fecal matter and high bacteria levels.  Which I happen to find appropriate.




Sears Goes Bye Bye (Who Cares?)


Blaming the downfall of Sears (and every other American tradition) on Obama or Democrats is like blaming Muslim terrorists for the existence of war. You can lay blame on puppet kings, other people’s religious beliefs, or political ideology that doesn’t gel with yours, but the fact is, we have no one to blame but US! If we weren’t so enamored with cheap plastic “goods” made in China, if we weren’t so quick to enslave Chinese workers who supply the Walmarts, Targets, Best Buys, etc. If we weren’t so sure losing our own jobs, manufacturing and small town America was what we as capitalist trumpeters wanted, we wouldn’t be in this economic and political mess. Bring jobs back to US! Stop blaming the Jews, Islam, gays and lesbians, women, fat people, teachers, transgenders, Obama, et al. for the downfall of US! It’s our own damn fault! Boycott Walmart. Boycott Chinese made “goods”. Insist on term limits. Don’t allow oligarchical government. Vote. If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Revolution now!

Social Studies Common Core! Wanna Bang Your Head Against The Wall?

The following is an example of how a US Civics lesson will be “taught” if Common Core extends to social studies:

The question is: 

How many seats are in the US Senate?

The answer is:

There are 50 states in the US. There used to be 13, which were the original 13 colonies, which were settled by immigrants who were escaping religious persecution in England. England is a country in the United Kingdom (i.e. UK).  The UK is a group of countries across the Atlantic Ocean from America. An ocean is a large body of salt water. Salt water is fresh water with a high sodium content. Sodium is a substance used as an additive in most manufactured food products. It used to contribute to high blood pressure but now it doesn’t. Manufactured food products are pretty much anything you presently eat that you haven’t raised or grown yourself.

OK, so the 13 colonies became states and the US eventually expanded into 48 states, Hawaii and Alaska being the last 2 to achieve statehood which brings us to a total of 50 states. Now there are 2 senators from each state. If you take all 50 states with 1 senator each, that equals 50 senators. You can either multiply 50 x 1 or you can count out one 50 times.  But there are actually 2 senators in each state so you need to double that figure to 100. You can do this by multiplying 50 x 2 or you can count 2 100 times. Therefore, there are usually 100 seats in the US Senate, unless someone falls ill or dies, in which case there could be fewer in session until another election is held. An election is a process by which citizens vote for whomever has the most expensive ad campaign. Ad campaigns are public relations attempts to use media in order to denigrate the opposing candidate. “Denigrate” is a transitive verb which means to “criticize” or “disparage” in a derogatory manner. “Derogatory” is an adjective usually employed to describe honest remarks said to or about an easily offended demographic.

But the approximate answer to our original question is 100 seats, more or less.

Show how you arrived at this solution.

852-05451361 © Ikon Images / Masterfile Model Release: No Property Release: No Frustrated businesswoman worrying in thought bubble
© Ikon Images / Masterfile

By Gwin DeMatteo

University of Southern California



Identity Crisis?

I’ve always had a hard time saying “when I was a little girl-”, even when I was one. I never felt like one. Garbo used to refer to herself in the past tense as a young man but I wasn’t so bold. I tended to say instead “when I was a kid-”.

When I was a kid, I pretended I was Errol Flynn. To be more specific; Errol Flynn as Robin Hood. I could really get into this role. I was good at riding horses, archery and fencing. I had green tights and soft leather booties. I even made facial hair. Now, did I ever truly believe I was in fact Errol Flynn or that if I thought about it long and hard enough that I would become Errol Flynn? Not that I can recall. I was a child with a huge imagination (like most children) and I am not Errol Flynn and all the wishful, magical thinking in the world will not make me Errol Flynn.


My identity now dictates that I only pretend to be Errol Flynn in the privacy of my own home, laughable since now I’m middle aged, fat and can hardly hold a sword, let alone swashbuckle it through the air. My reality  may very well be that I identify as Errol Flynn , but that does not make it real, any more than a delusional person’s belief that they are the Christ.

In junior high, a bunch of us pretended to be horses-prancing around the quad like Lipizzaners. I don’t remember any of us thinking we really were equines.

Nowadays we risk offending someone every time we open our mouths. It’s getting old; that anxiety about who in our orbit might blow a verbal gasket over some imagined or over- inflated “slight”.


Regardless of how/who/what you identify as, my struggle now is asking why I must unlearn 54 years of my reality and a whole new language in order to accommodate someone else’s personal reality? I could understand (to a point) unlearning Negro for Colored for Black for African American for People of Color. I get that it hasn’t been cool for 20 years or so to refer to my same sex partner (if I had one) as “my lover”.  I know it’s no longer PC to say “Oriental Rug” and “Mongolian Beef”.  And I really AM trying my best to unlearn binary definitions of gender and learning to substitute other terms to describe, reference and address certain fellow beings.

I can respect your self identity and your reality as long as you can accept and respect mine. I won’t insist you be cis or gay or bi or genderfluid or hetero or non-binary if you won’t insist I juggle a dozen or more designations to come up with the correct one, or failing that, to be subjected to your “offendedness”.

I suffer from face blindness (Prosopagnosia) and have difficulty recognizing human faces. You may not share this “disorder” (or whatever you want to call it) and probably cannot really relate to what it might feel like. Your reality is that recognizing human faces is really pretty easy. My reality is different. Yet I would NEVER presume to ask you to go around wearing name tags and context references so I don’t have to be humiliated when I have no clue who you are when we encounter one another at BiMart.


Moving on…

Cultural appropriation is in the news again, this time a clash between 2 students at San Francisco State University.

An African American (Black, Person of Color?) woman (womyn?  cis-gendered female?) confronted a white (male? genderfluid?) person about his wearing dreadlocks. Apparently, she  felt he  was not allowed to sport dreads because he isn’t African American. Yet her  name is Bonita, which I’m pretty sure is Spanish for “pretty”. Shouldn’t her name be Ty’Neesha Zimbabwe or something?  I don’t know…it just seems there are plenty more things to be “outraged” about. ..

This  very much reminds me of my Queens born and raised Jewish friend who decided to become a Santero. Or my New England Blue Blood friend who suddenly turned Native American. Or the Eastern European Elmers Glue gal in the next block who identifies as Chinese Sufi. You don’t suddenly embrace a culture you didn’t grow up in as your own and turn into a human example of that culture.  It’s as ridiculous as “turning” gay.

Or me turning Errol Flynn.


The wearing of dreadlocks is not the exclusive indigenous right of any culture.
Dreadlocks have been around since the dawn of time. Ancient Egyptians wore them, ancient Asian emperor’s wore them, cavemen wore them, even John the Baptist and Samson wore them.
The first writing we have about dreadlocks is in the Veda scriptures of India, the earliest piece is dated to 1800 BC. But many peoples and tribes have worn dreadlocks the Germanic tribes, the Greeks,Samson and other Nazorites, John the Baptist, the Pacific peoples, and the Naga Indians also wore dreadlocks. King Tut himself had dreadlocks, and they are still intact to this day. The Mau Mau tribe wore dreadlocks to intimidate the colonizers of Kenya in east Africa. Even Caesar claimed that the Celts wore dreadlocks by describing them as having “hair like snakes”.
The actual word dreadlocks comes from Jamaica, made up in the early movement of the Rastamen, dreadlocks came from the word dread for the meaning of fear and horror.
Locks are now worn in India by Sadhus (holy men), the Somali, the Galla, the Maasai, the Mau Mau, the Kau, the Ashanti, the Fulani, the Aborigines, and the New Guineans.
(Unknown author but I like his/her/their/its style)


Some FAQs About Gwinny

I once had my hair lit on fire. Then got smacked in the head by the girl who did it in order to put it out.

I spent my sophomore year of high school locked up in a convent reform school in Portland.  I was never Catholic, though.  Nor was I reformed.

I was incarcerated many times as a juvenile.  I spent more time behind bars for running away and skipping school than some kids today spend incarcerated for murder.

When I was a juvenile delinquent, I briefly dated a fellow delinquent boy who is now on Death Row.

I was living in Portland when Mt. St. Helens blew.  It was really loud.

I got drunk with Big Bird in La Crosse WI.

I worked for Natalie Cole, Manhattan Transfer, and Melissa Etheridge.

I was in a CBS TV film with Robert Urich.

I turned 18 in Portland, 21 in Los Angeles, 30 in San Francisco, 40 in New York City and 50 in Phoenix.  Didn’t plan that; it just turned out that way.

I attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

I went to JFK University School of Law.  1 year.  It was enough.

I have a Masters from USC;  I graduated Phi Kappa Phi.  Another useless piece of decorative paper for my wall.

I slept with Eddie Fisher and Richard Gere.

I was living in Manhattan and on JetBlue Flight 93 from NYC to OAK on 9/11.  What a day.

I had a 6 hr. cardiac ablation procedure.

I have been institutionalized quite a few times. Apparently – I was fond of delousing showers and women with huge key rings.

I am related to FDR, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

I can trace my descent back to the Mayflower.  Not that I’m proud of that.

I was an Oregon State champion English and Western Quarter Horse rider.  I AM proud of THAT!

I once had an IQ of 147.  This is no longer true.

I have Hidradenitis Suppurativa. It sucks.

I was born left handed.  This is also no longer true.

I was abandoned at birth and adopted 3 months later.

I worked in costumes on Broadway and at The Met.

I played drums in a polka and rock band.

I cleaned house for the Doris Merrill Magowan family (daughter of Merrill Lynch and Safeway founders) and mother of Peter Magowan, General Manager of the SF Giants.

I’ve been on aircraft carriers and submarines.  I think they are really cool.

Brian Boitano let me drive his BMW SUV.  It was my birthday.

I lived on Lou Reed’s property in Hardwick, NJ, across from the Boy Scout Camp where they filmed “Friday the 13th”.  His ex wife Sylvia (who rented the property to us) was a lot scarier than Jason Voorhees’ mom.

I’ve ridden on an elephant.

I sat on one of the Budweiser Clydesdales when I was 4.

I’ve held Edward Anhalt’s Oscars for “Becket” and “The Member of the Wedding”.  They are surprisingly heavy.

I have Misophonia.  It sucks, too.

Bebe Neuwirth (Dr. Lilith Crane) offered me a chocolate chip cookie in the wings of “Fosse”.  It was the only time we had any interaction during the run of the show.  The rest of the time, she stared at me a lot.

I worked on the Tony winners for Best Musical 3 years running.

I’ve lived in 8 states and been in all 50.

I can fly a plane.  But not solo.  The FAA won’t let me.

I can drive a semi.  I CAN do that solo.  The DOT lets me.

I have Prosopagnosia. This used to suck, but now I just say “fuckit”.

I’m afraid of the dark.

Just another day in utopia…