Yet, I am still alive

A friend and collaborator took this picture as I got
into character to rehearse a theatrical piece.

My friend snapped this shot as I danced and spoke
my lines.

In fact, I was switching into character, though no one
in my circle of friends knew what that was.

It was a dark time in America, but one goes on with life.

This is a journal entry from the day of that shot:

July 16, 1987

It is July and I am still alive.

The AIDS epidemic is in its sixth year and those six years have passed slowly and cruelly. I had hoped that AIDS would fade like a fad, but it is still around and killing, and the fact that a reactionary movement has gained momentum by openly discussing it as a form of divine retribution sickens me to my core.

Thank God for Joni Mitchell.

I’ve lived so long without a future that the thought of having one terrifies me.

Yet, I am still alive.

And I intend to stay alive.

(c) Rob Goldstein 1987-2017

Inherit their voice

from the Feathered Sleep


2012610_1809dSat facing away from the sun

an old man wipes years from his eyes

drawn over with cataract like milky bath water

he strains to see the outline of motion

where are all the old men? He thinks

once so barrel chested and neatly trimmed

with mustaches and shiny hair like Cover Girl teens

where are all the eighties queers who painted beaches

with tight abs and tiny shorts in tropical shades?

now half empty, the beach longs for color

only rotund women with bristly chins

unkempt hair chopped without thought

some with children or children’s children

placing sensible shades and thick UV factor 50

on slow-moving parts of themselves

in previous years you could

reach out and paint a rainbow

in their courage of being twenty

though lesbians and gay men do not

always a palate make

such contrasts in their expression

these women without restraint

mopping the brows…

View original post 805 more words

Lethal Neglect: American Eugenics in the 21st Century

Update: October 12, 2017

I’ve updated this post to reflect the ongoing GOP sabotage of the Affordable Care Act and Trump’s fascist refusal to provide meaningful aid to Americans in Puerto Rico who are still without access to power, food, water and shelter.

In 1918 by the American Eugenics Movement proposed extreme poverty as a means of executing undesirables and mental defectives.

Eugenicists called it Lethal Neglect or Lethal Selection

“Selection by death may result either from inadequate food supply, or from some other lethal reason. ” Review of Applied Eugenics, By Paul Popenoe and Roswell H. Johnson, Eugenical News (vol. 4)

A page from Applied Eugenics by Paul Popenoe, that recommends using poverty to reduce the population of 'inferior people'
A page from Applied Eugenics by Paul Popenoe.

Nazi Germany was the most extreme expression of a global movement started by wealthy Americans in the late 1800’s.

The American Eugenics Movement provided the template for Nazi Germany.

The use of the Warsaw Ghetto in Nazi occupied Poland meets the criteria for mass murder by Lethal Neglect.

“On October 12, 1940, the Germans decreed the establishment of a ghetto in Warsaw. The decree required all Jewish residents of Warsaw to move into a designated area, which German authorities sealed off from the rest of the city in November 1940. The ghetto was enclosed by a wall that was over 10 feet high, topped with barbed wire, and closely guarded to prevent movement between the ghetto and the rest of Warsaw. The population of the ghetto, increased by Jews compelled to move in from nearby towns, was estimated to be over 400,000 Jews. German authorities forced ghetto residents to live in an area of 1.3 square miles, with an average of 7.2 persons per room. ” Holocaust Encyclopedia

Nothing was allowed through the wall; no water, no food, no medical care and no way out.

The Nazi’s took daily photographs of the residents to document their decline.

In January 1942, nearly 6,000 people – and perhaps 100,000 people, 1939 to 1942 – died of starvation and disease in the ghetto.  The Warsaw Ghetto, 1940-3

The American Eugenics movement was such a powerful global movement that Nazis on trial at Nuremberg after World War II cited American Eugenics programs as a defense of their policies and mentioned Buck v. Bell in their testimony.

This brings us to today:

After 40 years of the passive neglect of the mentally ill the GOP is openly embracing policies that will cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.


A young well dressed man on a cell phone passes a homless man sitting on the sidewalk in San Francisco.
And the streets are perfectly clean

Oct 5, 2017Republicans let health insurance expire for 9 million American children.

Life Unworthy of Life
Lethal Neglect: the failure to provide the goods or services necessary for functioning or to avoid harm.

Oct 12, 2017  Trump signs new executive order to sabotage the ACA

Photograph of an elderly homeless man staggering as he pushes a heavy shopping cart through Clarion Alley in San Francisco
Lethal Neglect is targeting specific people for death by poverty.


Former KKK wizard David Duke, for example, has been proclaiming on Twitter that Trump’s election and cabinet picks are the first steps toward “taking America back” — that is, taking America “back” from anyone who isn’t descended from fair-skinned Europeans. In white nationalist ideology, only white Americans have a true right to the country — and the rights that go along with citizenship, like voting. Think Progress

Indiana Republican: ‘No One Has the Guts’ to Let the Poor ‘Wither and Die’

For almost three generations people, in some cases, have been given handouts,” Johnston said. “They have been ‘enabled’ so much that their paradigm in life is simply being given the stuff of life, however meager.”

“What you see is a setting for a life of misery is life to them never-the-less,” he continued. “No one has the guts to just let them wither and die. No one who wants votes is willing to call a spade a spade. As long as the Dems can get their votes the enabling will continue. The Republicans need their votes and dare not cut the fiscal tether. It is really a political Catch-22.” Indiana Republican John Johnston

Photograph of a disabled homeless man with his arm in a cast sleeping on a filthy mattress on a street in San Francisco
San Francisco shows its guts


(c) Rob Goldstein 2016-2017 all rights reserved























Letters From Home: Bobby and Bob

A digitally painted Black and White photograph of a house in a housing project in Charleston South Carolina named for white supremacist, John C. Calhoun
This is a photo of a house in John C. Calhoun Homes, a housing project named for white supremacist, John C. Calhoun. I lived in this house when I was a kid.


In the 1980’s most of my alternates were as
active as they are now.

They used performance writing as a cover.

To other people they were characters.

Though our username was Rob Goldstein, by the late
1980’s the dominant alternate was Bob.

Bob carries anger and depression.

Bob was certain he’d die from AIDS.

In 1988, when Bob tested negative for HIV, his reaction
was fear and bitterness.

His function in life was dying.

Bob had already written his suicide as a character
named Loleeta, who is almost a separate alternate.

Bobby carries our hopes and dreams.

He can watch the family from inside and Bobby
was confused: if the body isn’t dying, why does Bob
want to die?

Bobby wrote a letter to Bob in late 1988 and started
a correspondence.

He had also placed a hidden penknife on Bob’s nightstand.

Bob found it and thought it was something he’d lost. He
also found the letter on his desk and thought he was
writing in his sleep.

As with the penknife that Bobby left out for Bob, I discovered a
large stash of writing in October of 2010.

I read the Letters from Home but didn’t understand what
they were about or how to edit them.

They make sense now.

I am the Narrator.  My job is to make sense of our story.

As strange as it sounds, I have a Father’s affection for Bobby.

He will always believe that God has work for us.

He will always do what he must to keep our faith alive.

#illustration #VirtualReality #secondlife, #virtualworlds
Letters From Home – Bobby

Letters From Home

Bob feels bad.

Diarrhea is caused by fear; he’s read that somewhere.

His tiny room stinks of sweat and stale cigarette smoke.

Oh, the danger of all that smoke and what it’s done to his lungs; oh, the danger that Xanax will do for him what Valium had done to Rosemary Clooney.

Morning for Bob is 4PM. He wakes and has his first cup of coffee. He wakes and has his second. He wakes and has his third.

Bob flops into bed and thinks. About bitches, boredom, and trendy
cynicism. About sensitive poets sucking their way to anonymous

A 4PM as black as night.

He takes three more Xanax and sleeps.


Photoshopped virtual phtograph of a male avar used as an illustration for Letters From Home
Bob flops into bed and thinks

He wakes and finds a penknife on top of a handwritten note:

Dear Bob,

I got this penknife from my Dad. I think it’s a treasure ’cause it’s full
of love. I want you to have it ’cause I love you. You might remember
me as a friend.

I think you need to start eating apples, dude.

That penknive is good at slicing apples.

Love Bobby.

Bob throws the penknife into the trash. Then he sits
at the laptop and writes:

Dear Bobby,

I’ve wanted a pen knife ever since I was that little fag.

At that time, I kept wax models of movie monsters on
my bed stand to protect me from the human monsters

Have you considered writing a real friend, someone
whose grief won’t spoil your soul?




virtual reality avataar that depicts and adolescent male of about 16 as an illustration for Letters from Home
I watch the birds or smell the ocean and think something wonderful has happened

Bobby’s letter is bright is full of reconciliation.

Dear Bob,

I’m at Battery Park where I go to when I want to figure things out.

I watch the  birds and smell the ocean and think something
wonderful has happened.

When I feel the rain it feels like everything magic!.

I guess I like to talk to older dudes because they’ve got things
more figured out.

I bet you have stuff figured out, right?

Yesterday Mom was drunk again.

Do you remember my Mom’s problem?

Do you remember we talked about how the real problem is she
thinks she don’t have one?

I try to help her but all she says is laters.


4PM at on a hot September day at the Laundromat on 16th Street and Mission Street; a toddler screams and Bob’s skin crawls.  He takes a Xanax and writes:

Dear Bobby,

I’m may stuff a nerve wracking  baby into a hot drier; it sounds like your Mother needs to dry out too. Charleston must be a beautiful town; I’ve read that it reeks of Magnolia and racism. It’s nice that they let the poor visit parks like the Battery. Science will eventually discover that everything is magic. Why do you write to me? I’m a hateful
old man.



In the early 1960’ss a bacteria infected the Spanish moss in Charleston. Bobby has watched the Spanish moss vanish from the tall oak trees that line Battery Park. An old woman shares a bag of peanuts with the squirrels. Bobby jots her down in his notebook. Then he writes another letter to Bob:

Dear Bob,

I just read a bunch of books about astrology. You’re a Scorpio. These books say Scorpio is a dark and passionate sign. They say we’re shamans and can turn dark into light.

I’m back at Battery Park and there’s a sweet old woman hand feeding a squirrel.

It’s hard to make a frightened creature trust you.

How come when I say I believe in magic adults say grow up..

 Do you still believe in magic?



The cruising was vicious last night. Bob watched the boys dance at the End-Up and wondered what sign they were. He stumbled home at 2 and took enough Xanax for 12. He woke at 4 and had his third cup of coffee.

He wrote a reply to Bobby.

A Male avatar that depicts an older somehwat grimy man who is poor and possibly homeless

Dear Bobby,

We think of children in terms of potential.

When children believe in magic, we call them imaginative; when adults believe in magic, we call them devout.




Virtual Reality Avatar used as an illustation for Letters from Home
Two women tweaked out on dexys had a fistfight today.

Two women had a fist fight in front of Bobby’s house that day.

They were tweaked on dexys.

They called each other names and chased each other around the courtyard.

Bobby watched from the porch and wrote Bob:

Dear Bob,

Sorry it took so long for me to write but I thought you didn’t want to hear from me no more. I thought you was being polite in that way adults are sometimes polite to kids by being rude.

Two women beat each other up in the Courtyard today. They called each other a whore- dyke-bitch and how one of them said ‘I can buy and sell you!’

I gotta laugh when poor folks say shit like that cause everyone knows we’re slaves.

Momma says they was fighting over a man.

Do queers in San Francisco fight over men in public?

We can’t even look at each other here.

I bet it’s nice to hold your boyfriend’s hand in public.

Bob, why are you so unhappy!

You sound like you got no hope.

Maybe your planets are outta wack!

Astrologers say that when your planets go outta whack things get crazy

Love and Friendship,


Bob was too high to read all Bobby’s letter. He tossed it into the trash but decided to reply:

Dear Bobby,

I’m fucked up and listening to Aretha’s Gold.

I wanted sex but got high instead and decided to answer
your little letter.

Did you know a drag queen won the Barbie doll lookalike contest?

Is it a coincidence that when I toss an r into your name it’s Borbbie.

See-Saw—Life is like a see-saw baby .

What Aretha really wants is Respect.

But if a woman has to beg for this from men what about us poor faggots:
once removed?

There is nothing like cutting to make me feel like one of God’s hated children, Borbbie.

I flop on my bed, a bloody wrist draped over my eyes.

I imagine my sufferings are  those of a great artist; a dying drama queen.

One day you’ll grow up to know how this feels.


Bobby read Bob’s letter and hid it with the rest.  He knew he had to do something.

Dear Bob,

When I was little I believed in ghosts.

I thought we had the bones of an old woman stashed in the attic.

One day I threw a chewed up old chicken bone up there and begged Daddy to go up  and look.

He said it was nothing but a chewed up old chicken bone but I knew it was the leg of that old woman.

When I was little, I slept with a wax devil’s head on one side of my bed and a picture of Jesus on the other side; I wanted to get in good with both.

When I was little, I opened a medical book backwards and saw pictures of a baby shrink down to a dot. It was years before I figured out that ain’t how folks die.

I tell you these stories to remind you of the magic, to make you remember faith because faith and faith in God’s magic is all we got.

I know what a drama queen is and sometimes they die for attention.

I can’t let you kill us.

You gotta stop dying.

You gotta go away.




Avatar portrait that represents a character in the blog post, Letters from Home
Portrait of Matthew, born,  January, 1989.


(c) Rob Goldstein 2016 All Rights Reserved