tv Book Discussion on Bettyville and Bobby Wonderful CSPAN April 30, 2016 4:35pm-5:46pm EDT
has been much remarked upon in this cycle, as they say, this election year, is the decline of the speech writer. i have a lot of speech writer friends in washington, and a lot of them are making a lot less and doing a lot less than they used to because the age of the big speech -- you remember, whatever the candidate was, we'll be giving a big foreign policy address today or a big education address today. that's not what moves the news these days. it's twitter and these -- the tweet writers, because they don't -- politicians don't know how to do 140 characters. they -- somebody tweets for them and it's back and forth and sped up and there is something, i think, rhetorically infantile about it.
reagan's two-minute radio addresses looked like the decline in fall of the american empire in terms terms of breadtd so forth. i think i've been one more thing that's wrong with politics is instantaneous nonsense communication. >> one of the big e appeals of the rise of social media is that it allows the candidates or their tweet writers to communicate with their supporters without the filter of editors and tv shows and it's very appealing in that record. one thing i think is really an interesting question for historians like me is, have things really changed or is donald trump unique? and the rules were different until trump came along. it was expected that people would have these speeches. they would talk about domestic issues and foreign policy.
trump seems to have changed the rules and he has established a set of ground rules, at least, that other candidates are playing by. if trump should find his way to the white house, then that would be the model that is shown to work. if trump doesn't find his way to the white house, then maybe things haven't gone so far that's seem to have right now. maybe next go-round we'll be back to where we were four years ago. >> i think we have to wrap it up there. i know we have a lot more questions but i want to thank all of you for coming and please join me in thinking our great authors. thank you so much. [applause]
[inaudible conversations] >> from the final panel from the fourth annual san antonio book festival, is a conversation between george hodge many and bob morris on their respective memoirs. [inaudible conversations] >> okay, welcome, everyone to the fourth annual san antonio book festival. i want to say that it's said a sign of a good film festival and book festival is a bun dance -- abundance of good programs that overlap and have you sprinting
between each one, and the sign of a good book festival, following this program, i am told the authors seated to my left will be at the door, which is reached by going outside, to sign books, and a portion of the proceeds of the sales will go to the san antonio library information, which is a sponsor and creator of the book festival. don't stop at one copy if at all possible. this also would be followed bay brief q & a, when we're done with our conversation. two authors here, george hodgman, a professor -- written
for entertainment weekly, happer's bazaar, and a few others he lives in new york city, and bettyville is his first book. bob morris, the author of -- this is your third book -- first two being -- >> just loving [inaudible] >> and christian the terrible. as you know his commentary from npr, and you know his writing the new the the "the new yorker" bob and his -- in manhattan.
and it's thrilling to have you two here today. want to start with asking you to silence your cell phones, and let me ad, this will be shown on c-span 2, on the 30th of april. for your information for our -- delving into these wonderful topics. i want to basically dive into this from a gay sensibility point of view is the gay sensibility. how does -- how aware are you of that as you -- has that changed over time? was it particularly strong and tugging in this case? >> whatever you want.
>> talk about how i think this is true for george. >> you may have a lover but what is the other primary relation palestine your life? it's to your parents. and these are examples of whether we wanted to or not, an intimate relationship with these people who we have -- to speak about a point of view, whether it's a gay point of view. to me, you know, we maded by, as
and -- meaning that it's this colony of man that is so impeccable looking that one could haste themselves if day didn't look like superman. >> my excuse is a deer bit me. i think the feeling that we have is a tender exasperation. >> that's a beautiful term, actually. >> i just thought of it. >> it's in my new book title.
>> minimum could be call a deer bit me on fire island. not -- pop culture book came out called the velvet rage, and the idea of it interested me a lot. did you ever hear this? >> no. >> basically the idea is that a if you're a gay guy growing up -- well, you deal with a relatively small town, me, too on long island, and you're alienated yaws you don't know exactly what you are and you don't want to get beat up, and you are just doing on the out of things and one of the most natural things is to move to new york and try to dominate -- achieve world domination. as a result of wanting to prove yourself, that, look at this,
look what became. you might have the chased me on the playground or i may have barely gotten away, but now i'm a writer for "the new york times," i'm going to have interesting friends and have an interesting scintillating life and career. somewhere in there the rage. do you have rage? >> i think i used to but i didn't know it. >> that to me when i think a of gay sensibility i think there's something in us that wants to prove something. all the beautiful design and all these things, to make our place in the world, successful. david geffen who decided to give this money but to take avery fisher's name off the building
and put his name on it. >> your stories are very different. one is in the middle of the country, one is the new york and metropolitan area, and the way your fathers dealt with your identities,or sexualities, is also very different. markedly so. and as you read each other's books and get to know each other's stories, do you a elaborate on that to yourself? does it distract you, the particularly different ways to have been brought up, to have lived and dealt with -- >> mine is probably more different to you than yours is to me. because yours -- lived in new york for a lot of years, and for 25 years, and also kind of your
milieu is one that i have experienced through books myself. but -- >> you know where that commonality is, your mother was a son of a gun my son was a son of a gun, and when you get to the end of life with these people and you can't help but want to help them, right? that famous scene i blogged about where your mother had shoes so old that she was tripping and were a danger to herself and others, right? >> yes. >> and you hid them in the closet. i so relate to this what can i do to make my father feel better? i will nag him to exercise because exercise is next to godliness for my generation, and then therefore he won't have problems, won't end then a wheelchair, blah blah blah, but that need to control these
wilful people is where the comedy and conflict. >> yes. i also think you are hitting on something that -- because i'm gay and i think i always felt -- it's like hillary clinton. i always felt i had to do it just a little better. i had to be -- >> but that bill clinton. >> i don't want to hear about your sexual experiences -- no. i think that you want to be a little bit -- you need to feel like you have done it okay and nobody can criticize you, and so i felt very, very much under
pressure to do it right, to do right, and i also wanted to give my mother happy days. i wanted to give her as much as pleasure as she could have to. >> to do it better more than right. beyond right. >> to do it perfect. there was that part of the desire, but also a kind of social expectation but there was also the love. >> you know, i'm thinking back to your original question. i don't know what other people's experiences are, will be, when their parents are at the expend they -- at the end and they want to not just help them but cheer them in a deep way, and so maybe this is gay.
i don't know, but i know every show tune in the world and my father loved to sing, and so when i talk about this phase of life where you have to go through this very difficult thing, i always tell people, this is all over your book, too -- try to figure out how to have the best possible time you can for yourself, because it will show up. it will trickle right down to your parents, who is confused in your case your mom was very confuse, but didn't you work to get her to her choir practice? so singing for me, every time i could, sitting down at the piano, bringing my ukelele. that was so gay. oh, my god. >> i wanted to -- with the
question about the comments of the settings, the world you come from, i thought it would be nice to pause and read just a bit from each of your books. >> okay. >> in terms of -- >> do you have something? >> sure. do you want me to go? >> go ahead. >> do i have something? >> how do you set this up? >> i think they can follow along. >> dive in. >> last night my cousin lucinda, who tries to appeal to my interests, invited betty and me to a benefit for the missouri review magazine. throughout the dinner i fretted, knowing there was a reading to come. glancing now and then at betty i wished for brevity. i hoped our entertainment would not be a poet but, no, a poet it was. despite the weather she was wearing a jacket.
i was sort faux zebra. her name is jude nutter. where, my mother asked, did that jacket come from? i cringed as betty glared at me with an expression with which i'm very familiar. it seems to suggest that i am personally responsible for every particle of bullshit lose in the world. what was her name, my mother asked loudly after the introduction in nutter, i said, jude nutter, what? my mother inasked? jude nutter i said, nutter, my mother said again, even more odd blue than before? n-u-t-t-e-r. yet, i repeated again. nutter. misassign was slightly uncomfortable as jude nodded at our table.
betty smiled back, gave a bit of a wave as if to acknowledge the attention if new things were going to get worse when jude confided she had grownup a house on a lat adjacent to the concentration camp. she continued telling us about her special kinship with insects which she said she likes to feel on her body. this is send sewell -- send sewell and pleaing for her. i began to bring more regularly. then jude started to recite her first poem, a work that opened with an image of flies on the bloody eye of a dead lamb. again, betty shot me the look. it is always me. i'm always responsible. how, betty pondered, did we get involved with this? she threw her half consumed brownie down on the plate at if it war horseshoe. jude nutter mourned the lamb.
the second poem began. jude nutter read to us about the dentures of her deceased mother in a small con tearer in a bathroom at home. soon there were germans in the poem, then the teeth, and then the insects and finally the teeth again and the poem. well, built to quite a dramatic conclusion. jude kissed the teeth and threw them into the river. she is going to have a hard time topping that one, said my mother. >> you read so well. okay. >> moving on to new york. >> moving on to new york, to in the new york great neck area. it's a moonless night in may of 2006 and i'm seeding down from a holiday weekend to get to my father in the hospital. will i make it to him on time?
i go faster while trying to find anything on public radio besides reports about the infuriating iraq war. what will i tell him when i get there? how much i love him despite his unnerving, unswerving runnism? i want to say goodbye, hold his hand, sing him a song. i walk into the hospital, and ride up in an el visitor. i'm scared. will he be able to talk? will i be able to apologize for being so critical of him or is it time to just listen, maybe we'll be able to have a conversation about the spirit, his spirit, a quiet talk that will bring closure. i knock on the door with pounding heart, open it. panicked when i don't see him in a bed. i'm too late, i think. then i see something opposite the bed. legs. his legs. he is sitting on the far side of the room in his wheelchair,
clear oxygen tubes in his nose attached to a portable tank on little wheels he is on his cell phone. no, the issue is peak minutes, he bell lows. i guess he is not dying. he has been contending that good argument makes him feel better. i'm not too old to switch my service, he threatens, and then the smiles, that's great. thanks very much. i hardly know what to think. not only is he not dying, he's just brought his cell phone service provider to its knees. bobby. delighted to see you. i'm thrilled, he says. same here, i say. i was worried you were dying. false alarm, he says, and terms up a mets game on tv. i'm not even close. well, what to do now. usually tend when it might finally be time to relent and give the man what he wanted his whole life, son who watches sports with him on tv, i refused. i want to squeeze some meaning
out of this visit, to lift it above the rest, make is redemtive. look, said, dad, grabbing ahold of the oxygen tank. can't we wait until the commercial? as much as i never wanted him in wheelchair there's something enjoyable of the control i have of him. push him into the bright and empty hallway. we get to a small lounge, where a big flat screen tv plays in the dark. turn it off but don't turn on any lights. the room is a small as a confessional booth. but dad, i was thinking about you. always nice to hear that, he says, then we go silent. i scan my head for ideas and then see the head lon of the "usa today" on a coffee table. that war in iraq is not going so well issue say. he lets off the sigh of an old steam engine, in defense of the
administration it has been an embarrassment to me, more than a real sore point. he is after all nothing but humane when it comes to gay and women residents rights, immigration, social 'opolicy think world's most democratic republican but also stubborn, and now even when the tide of public opinion has risen against the president, he goes on with his blind support and harangues -- then expands until i clear my throat. dad, do you think the end of life is a time to take stock and reconsider things? he tilts his head and looks at me. that's what they say, i guess, bobby. well, i have a proposal for you as a kind of gesture of redemption. i would like you to renounce the republican party. you've got be kidding, he says. no, i drove four hours to get to you because i thought you were dying. sorry i disdisappointed you.
but you should know it mean the world that you're here to be with me. you know what the funny thing in writing, i say, i'm just asking you to tell me if you regret being such a staunch republican your whole life? and he breathes out, as if his soul is leaving him. you are always pushing me, bobby, trying to get me to see things your way. why bother? dad, i'm just trying to seize the moment here. you really don't think i'm going live much longer? i just want to ask, even if it's a little premature, would you consider renouncing the republicans? he shakes his head and stares into his lap and looks me in the eye. i can say that i would not vote for the current george bush as president again, he said. as soon as he says it i feel light pour into the brain and see angels reflected off his aviator glasses and circling the ceiling with tennis rackets. my heart races. well done, sir, i say, thank you
very much. well, you pushed me into it. what could i do? but in you're right mind and you mean it. yes, i'm afraid i do. yes, he says, i'm afraid i do. i feel triumphant as i lean in, and i feel his chest heaving against mine. can i give you a hug? his eyebrows lift, he miles, always open to any kind of affection. so i put my arms around his neck and very careful to avoid the oxygen tubes, lean into his face, my big nose to his bigger one, and we hold ourselves there like teenagers in a slow dance. i love you, dad. i love you, too, bobby. and then i get up, turn his chair around, find a remote control, turn the mets game volume all the way up, and settle in to watch with him for the rest of the night. he takes my hand, we hold on to each other in the glow of the tv screen.
[applause] >> does bob's story strike yous as geo -- it would be hard to -- >> get closer to the mic. >> do i need to repeat that? it seems to me with unfair advantage of knowing the books, but the authors, but they seem geospecific. it's kind of hard to imagine those particular encounters taking place in the other's -- >> well, a lot of my book take place in palm beach and that is geopacific. it's people in track suits wait tech airport for children to get off with their children and grandchildren and these people all stand there with a look on their face after either fear of what's going to happen when their children move into their
apartment for the week, or this expectation of absolute and total joy, like these children are going to come and turn their lives around, and i was fully aware because i would go down there, season after season to see my pointers that wasn't the case. people needed therapists, from having children to have their own eating habits and wouldn't want their parents buy their children ice cream cones and watch tv and the whole thing -- that was a very sober part of my story. the fact that people who are at the end of their lives and didn't really have that much to do with themselves, were all in the same community, and the arrival of the children was like some kind of religious occurrence. >> you know, when i picture -- picked up your back to read it, i'm always drawn by voice, and the voice of your story, and
the -- i just -- i was just immediately there with you, and i stayed with you the entire book. didn't -- i didn't really think so much about where you were or anything like that. when i heard you read your piece, i was focusing on things that -- the way you feel when you go into the room and it's like, are they there? are they dead? are they -- you know, is she okay? what am i going to find when i go in here? the surprise of like oh, yeah, everything is okay. she is yelling at someone. on the phone. one of us is always yelling at someone on the phone. but i'll never forget that bizarre orchestration and choreography of dealing with the
breathing tubes and the pipes. i was always tripping over those tubes and yanking them out of the thing, or yanking them out of her nose, or figuring out how to get them in right or whatever, and that's what i -- i went right into your reality through mine, through the images. >> i didn't get a sense -- i read your book a while ago but i didn't ever get a sense you were very bored, which is something that -- you have so much anytime you're not in new york and not at "vanity fair," but there was a -- an energy to what was going on in they world in that little house. >> i tend to bring an energy to -- >> that is important. that's your voice,, too. >> but i was never bored. was never bored.
because i'm interested in the place, for one thing. i'm interested in what is going on there and what's happening there. we both share a political bent, and -- no, i wasn't bored, and i think i was actually very relieved because during my career i have -- i worked with some really difficult people. a woman at shim mon and schuster who was difficult. tina brown, she was cute. and it's like, by the time i got to missouri i think i was relieved that nobody was chasing me and screaming at me, and so -- and i still feel that way. i wake up in the morning in
missouri and so happy that somebodysen going to be cussing me out about something in an hour. >> are you living in the house? >> yes. >> in case you didn't know that, george's story is fascinating help kind of melted down in new york, wouldn't you say, lost your career. >> a couple of times. >> moved in with his mom in a small town, perhaps an hour, 45 minutes from st. louis, right? >> it's two hours. >> host: two hours, and you're still living there. that's amazing. >> yeah. i think -- >> did you change the house yet? >> everybody asked me that. are you going to sell the house? >> no. did you redecorate. >> i haven't had time. i'm thinking -- it looks like it's more like my house. and it feels more like my house, but i've traveled so much, i haven't been there that much,
and my hope is that i'm going to get a tiny little apartment in st. louis and keep my mother's house until i can have a country home. and after all these years. and -- >> do you think a post new york sensibility wraps around your stories because of -- that the city is behind you think held behind you, the sadness, intensities? >> sounds like maria von trapp. >> and you're living still in new york, and these books are published there. but that seem to inform. >> i'm not a romantic about new york. i do think that a lot of my
scenes of some kind of uplifting value take place in places out of the city. a lot of people remember from my book who read it when after my mom had died, she had a very difficult death and my brother and his son, who was five years old, they were really like athletic, job, kind of a young guy, a sensitive kid. we were watching the sunset on this lovely island in florida, the west coast of florida, and this little boy -- i don't know where -- are you thinking of grandmath egg the right now? and he looked ahim and said why? said, she always liked to look at the sunset from her kitchen window. and he said, you know, i know you're sad but don't worry about it. you're going to see her again. and i said what too you mean?
he said, well, you know, when you go to heaven, you're going to open your eyes and see her again like when you were born, like the first time you were born. and the reason i was able to write that scene, i think, was that we were in this beautiful place, to get back to your question. we were in this sunset state where there was a spiritual atmosphere there, and that may have been the thing that made me decide i wanted to write this book, is that death, when you're ready to observe it and receive it, and look at it, is of course an incid -- incredibly important thing and i tried to see what was humorous about it and also wanted to live in it because we are deeper people for that. >> this program is called
burying the past, this panel is titled that. could also be unburying the past, seems to me. why two gay men return home, and -- >> where's the shovel? >> when i tried to get my mother to talk about death she said i hope they don't put me near nixon. >> is he buried in st. louis? >> no, i think she just meant up there, in -- and another time she said, i said you think you're going to heaven? she said maybe the suburbs. on the geographical thing, i have been to 30 cities this year. i'm like mick jagger. on the road.
but the places i think are the interesting -- new york is just too much. it's money. just money. and portland, san antonio, st. louis, kansas city, i like these kind of medium places where the young, who can't afford to go to new york, are going and building these new kind of creative places. >> in new york it's a capital of many things, including mediocrity, probably. i remember seeing brokeback mountain film in two different cities, one from new york and there was a very nervous snickering when the men kiss and make love, and in outside of austin, and near georgetown, there was raptor. that always impressed me. somehow that audience was more worldly than the new york film audience. >> i also refer to new york issue especially downtown where
i live, as the parent-free zone. that a lot of people move to new york to shed their past. right? and to pretend as if they emerged fully sophisticated and designer clothing, impeccable snobby taste in food and culture, and then -- but like in the background, probably for three-quarters of them there is a buddy and a joe, right? who, to their credit, created life that made us feel that we could be successful in the world and achieve and have a love culture, and yet i have to laugh because you see these just exquisitely dressed. statue-action -- statueesque young people walking around with
vinyl sneaker with polyester pants and -- new york is very funny that way. the extreme there, people really just flee where they're from to be something new. >> what's interesting is how -- >> when my mother died, i could go to the grocery store and walk down the aisle and get three stories about my mother that told me about something that she did in her life that i didn't know about. and i can go to the -- i read at the st. louis library, and this little woman had a note passed up to me and said, i grew up on bart avenue across the street from your father and his parents and your aunt. and there's just something at this particular moment in my life that -- where if you're --
if the people are gone, it's like the place is my family now. that kind of the way i feel. and new york, i -- you now, i miss a lot. there's so much about new york that i do love. the last time i was there i was walking early in the morning, going to a meeting, and this woman appeared and she was like this apparition and she was blonded, the hair like sarah jessica parker, the ringlets and a dye job and ten thousand shades of blonde and a $10,000 purse and a -- fir or whatever and he was like a pack thing that was loaded with
money. money shit. and i was like, okay, don't -- i hope your back doesn't break today. don't let your hooves slide on the ice. >> the place is its people more and more. houston to me is a place where i love certain people, and new york is what makes the impact. increasingly. >> when i hear you talk about being back there and hearing these stories, it does make me have this idealized -- maybe idealistic but i do kind of secretly wish that some of these really interesting, funny, artistic, gay people in manhattan and san francisco
would go home and would interact and seep into where they're from, because -- there was an issue in the book we live in cluster right now. people in the same politics want to live in the same neighborhood and there's no conversation. what was so fascinating about your book, not mine. didn't hit that -- was that you were mixing back in, and definitely most of us who knew you in new york thought of you as a man of the world and sophisticated and so -- i think the whole thing about politics now has to do with how we can't have conversations anymore, and i'm sheer you're having a lot of different kind's of political conversations in inhabiting your mother's old home. >> i am. i am. mean, everybody knows that with politics, no matter where we
live, obsessed mostly with the fights. we want to have -- what we're fighting about but my relatives and family, people are really conservative. they -- it's like -- i say, well, the republicans are doing these laws that take away my rights that are -- they're making it legal to discriminate against me, these people thatow voting for. and they're like, they are? well, that's -- they don't kind of -- just not really following it. and i think a lot of people have kind of tuned out of the media and -- but your betty's son. you're the guy -- now you're there having a conversation
north even an argument. you're just like a gay person who just maybe wants to quietly point out that there are people that want to take your right away or make your female friends miserable or -- i think it's a very positive thing if think that the more time we can all spend and enjoy our parents, i think it just brings the conversation to another level. >> the memories that will stay -- one of the memories that stay -- the last nine days 0 of my mother's life are imprinted in my brain. a couple months before i would -- i'm really bad days and take my mother to st. louis -- the car was a good place for a person with dementia, kind of soothed them.
and she loved to go to st. louis to get her hair done, and we would all -- she wanted to go to baskin robins and get himon custard ice cream so we would go -- drive there and it was kind of complicated because you have to get her into the truck stop, and go to the bathroom, and -- it was like all these things would happen, but she would go and we went to this hair salon where rich people would go and my mother would like at these young ladies and i could tell that she was jealous a little built of the younger women and the fact they still had kind of social lives, and -- but i'll always remember those trips and everybody who was kind to me. there were so many people on the journey with my mother that were kind to me, and i will never
forget them. i don't like doctors anymore, though. i think doctors are awful. >> have they commented on the book, these people? >> it's like a cab driver. they have terrible reputations. >> we all have 15 minutes to live. let's make the most of it. >> i was taking my mother to her hematologist, and traffic, and frantic and i get my mother out of the car, pull her, holding her, lifting her, and this cab driver says, the grace of god to me when i see him. he said, it's the grace of god to do this work as a son. in new york. with rain and mud and angry
people everywhere, and traffic, and the doctor, and bad news coming. and i do think it's soften peoples hearts when they see you've with an ailing parent. i really do. >> the woman who was my mother's colorist was named helen, and my mother was looking in the mirror, and my mother was looking very forlorn and helen said, honey, wore going to do you up. woulder going to take this shit to a new level. we're taking this shit to a new level right now. >> do you feel like this has raised the profile of your neck of the woods, st. louis and environment? in the midnight in the garden of good and evil kind of way. >> are you going to -- i didn't know you were this bad.
>> places and people. shall we have some questions? we have a few minutes? >> welcome to san antonio. i grew up in san antonio. spent most of my career in new york. i now live between the santa fe and here because i have a lot of family. also lived though the aids epidemic, and the sacredness of being with somebody at the end of their life, you feel totally significant and insignificant at exactly the same moment. it's a very sacred thing. but i guess my real question is, assimilation seems to be the name of the game, and our culture is -- i don't want us to lose our identity. i've produced gay filmed. they're disappearing. gay literature is disappearing. i want to congratulate you on the moment moyers but i guess that's the question i want to
ask -- memoirs. i goods that's the question i want to. and we're available and most of the people of my generation are doing the same thing. just have a lot more experience dealing with it than some of my compatriots, and for those of us who were raised by benign neglect, we're now dealing with parents who we love but present a challenge to us. i congratulate you on the books. my question is about assimilation, and i don't want -- santa fe is so -- we have incredible communities and gay communities in san antonio, houston, dallas, in santa fe, it's into blended that you don't know what is gay and what is not, and i don't -- i do believe in gay sensibility, but i guess my question is, how do you feel about assimilation? is that really something we want? and you haven't mentioned at all shame, and what -- i believe in the anger, but also shame certainly drove me to new york. the first place i ever felt in
16 years old i walked into julius's' and i felt part of something for the first anytime money life. >> well, i -- for the first anytime my life. >> i don't know if this answers your question but shame is definitely -- drives -- i think it drives a good percentage of writing, don't you? personal writing and fiction writing. i don't know. i think we each have our individual stories. mine had to do with -- i was packing to go take a job washing dishes on fire island one summer and i was first year in college, and i was home packing, and my father comes up to my room and basically outs me. just like we think you might be gay. you didn't have a girlfriend in college. i said what are you talking about in n he said that friend of yours with the ponytail. and i said, yeah, i am. and then i just basically it saved me $25,000 in therapy
bills right there. so, do i have shame? of course. i think a lot of gay people are still working through that. >> should feel so much less shame at this point, after all. >> i don't feel ashamed of how -- i feel guilty, of course, like anybody but do not feel ashamed how i treated my parents at the end. that i could be there for them and be present for them is the moe important thing for me, and that's why i wrote the book. >> i think you are -- if you are of a gay kid, you have a certain -- if you grow up different in this culture, you have a certain kind of antenna. it's like being jew or being anything that is different. maybe everybody has it. we're all alienated by something. we all feel imperfect or different or a lot of people do. at least everybody i know.
but i do -- i think the assimilation that you speak of is something that i do fear because i do worry about this kind of oscar wilde driving a volvo station wagon with little children. i feel like we're losing the great repressed creative genius iowa want to hang on to, but the lucky thing about this culture is that it's always fucking up someone, and it may not be you but, look, right now, like, the whole transthing, the whole gender thing. that's where the -- a lot of the interesting stuff is happening. read mage nelson's argonauts
which took me into a whole new world. so, it may not be our turn to be the most wobegon or -- >> that's very well said. my concern is actually to the right -- the rights of a lot of other people. >> your question reveals you see these as gay books, and by gay storytellers and we all would be in and out not to, but as you transcend this as well. >> this lady needs to ask a question. >> yes. on the shame thing, i am one of the -- i'm going to be 70. i'm one of the activists since 72, and have cried at the good thing that happened that i didn't think i'd see in any lifetime, and you know what those are. i asked one of my activists --
because i write a little did -- why do we call it a pride festival? he said because the opposite of pride was shame. so we decided to call our festivals pride festivals. wow. i was alive when almost all the men i knew had aid aid and almost all the women i knew brought them meals. i want to comment on this especially. this is not funny but funny. so, some anonymous person say why its harder to be gay than to be black? i asked that of a black activist. i said, don't hit me. wait until i tell you the answer. y'all now know the answer? it's anonymous. because if you're black, you don't tell your mother. that's a hard thing to tell your parents.
>> you talk about this, how you can hide as a young gay. >> there's one point i want to make. don't know it's quiet ... before this book came out i thought i was going to have to take drugs because i was so nervous about what everyone was going to say. i was 6 years old again and my piano teacher was reading about my sex life and this and that but the thing is they were wonderful. they were so sweet. it didn't matter.
maybe people said nasty things that people always say nasty things behind our backs but i think, this relates to the political discussion we were having, there are people and what they can give and what they can accept on an individual level which is really high and there is political activity in this country which is manufactured and rage, this is used as a wedge issue in a political gain, my mistake, you small-town bible thumper's, you are the enemy. they are there, they are just fine.
a lot of them. it doesn't make my wedding cake if i pay. there is another thing being engineered and everybody has set up against what is being engineered, to divide us all against each other. >> i will say. less than five minutes i will say this, when george says people were open and kind to him it is possible we have you to thank for pushing the culture along so that these people were educated enough to not have it be so difficult to acknowledge your sexuality, maybe. >> i totally -- yes.
>> millions of people from the 1900s through the 50s, when they heard supreme court cases that some people were brave enough -- millions of us -- >> thank you. the reality of discrimination exists but there is another truth, and that is that most people are less interested in your sex life than ted cruz thinks. [laughter] >> one more question. >> i on the other hand see both your books as quite universal, i don't see it just as a gay theme but people dealing with elderly parents which i just did myself, my father in january, all of us baby boomers are going through
that. my question, i haven't read either of your books, but i wonder if you are being optioned for a screenplay. i can see it looking very good on screen or on the stage. >> mine is not. mine should maybe be a candle. my first book was. my mom died at 81, my dad at 80. that has been at nbc forever and now it is going to be a play. almost like a prayer book, a spiritual little book, being lucky enough to be there and be present and write about what happened and help people feel that it is okay not to do things that people can only do the best that they can when facing this.
>> i wouldn't say never. >> a lot of people are obsessive about it. but yours, the fish out of water thing is perfect and i am sure it is going to be something. >> the screenplay, oh my god. that is what i think too -- they don't seem to believe it. it is a strange feeling to have someone say, the screenwriters, i put a lot of my experience into a too. why didn't they option your experience? not just your experience.
i don't like it. >> is the publication of the books the same year, that is coincidence, the way single ladies books came out. does that occur -- and talk about something. you raised the bar because you did really well, and didn't sell very much. and sales went the right way i think. >> the baby boomers we are all dealing with, and my books got a
little more attention, we were different and approached it different. when i was reading books about this experience, and safely women, and you all are so funny, we could be a comedy team. >> that was the same with my dad, same thing and i couldn't -- totally lost it, he was my news and that is an opportunity and that may be a particular thing gay sons and daughters could do really well.
>> i think your book is very honest and real, that always works. >> okay. [applause] >> that does it for booktv coverage of the fourth annual san antonio book festival. you can see each of these panels firstname.lastname@example.org. [inaudible conversations] >> we are watching booktv on c-span2, television for serious readers. here is a look at what is on prime time tonight. we kick off the evening at 6:4:05 pm eastern with sebastian who weighs in on how to defeat
isis. after that charles leyland on how banking and monetary systems work. at 8:45 michelle hooker on why we recognize and act on obvious dangers and on afterwards, at 10:00 pm eastern, america online cofounder steve case speculates on the future of the internet. we finish prime time programming at 11:00 with a look at ali baba, the chinese e-commerce site that rivals amazon. that happens tonight on c-span2's booktv. >> ryan anderson is the author of a book called "truth overruled: the future of marriage and religious freedom". what is the point of your book? >> this is the first book length response to the supreme court ruling on the same-sex marriage decision. i explain why the court got the ruling wrong as a matter of constitutional law and a matter of philosophy, the nature of what marriage is and why
marriage happens and from there i go to say what americans should do to defend religious freedom, those who believe the truth about marriage aren't penalized by the government. >> host: how in your view did they get it wrong constitutionally? >> guest: the supreme court says the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment required states to redefine what marriage is but everyone in favor of marriage equality, we all want the law to treat all marriages equally. we disagreed about what type of relationship is a marital relationship and 5 unelected judges have no greater insight than you or i do for the nature of marriage, the constitution is on the silent on the issue of marriage so the people should have voted to say what consenting adult relationship is a marital relationship. that is the only way the question should have been answered. >> host: is is a moral issue? >> a moral issue, political issue, public policy issue, ultimately for the legal question what sort of relationship should the government be treating as a marital relationship and that
won't be answered to appealing to principles of equality. equality alone doesn't tell us what sort of relationship we should treat equally. for that you need philosophy, a philosophy of what marriage is was what i do and "truth overruled: the future of marriage and religious freedom" the first two chapters his philosophical defense of the conjugal union of man and woman, husband and wife, mother and father. >> host: so much of our society is built around marriage and so many laws are built around marriage too. aren't a class of people being denied those same rights? taxes come to mind immediately. >> guest: i wonder which class of people you're talking about. some would say you are talking about the polyamorous or people who don't want to get married. no matter what law you have on marriage that will be included in the definition and some relationships are not going to be included. what you need is the right definition of marriage. every marriage policy draws a line between what is a marriage and into marriage, the right line to be drawn you have to know what the truth about
marriage is and what get the government interested in marriage in the first place. i argue in "truth overruled: the future of marriage and religious freedom" that marriage is an anthropological truth that men and women are distinct and government, biological fact that requires a man and woman and social reality that children deserve a mother and father and these are the reasons, secular reasons why every society up until the year 2000 recognized marriage is the union of male and female. the second half of the book what do we do now? now that the court has overturned those marriage laws what can we do to protect tolerance and pluralism, diversity and religious freedom so that people who don't support the new vision of marriage aren't harassed or penalized by government? >> host: what is one of your solutions? wikipedia >> guest: after the roe v wade decision, the constitutional right to abortion we said pro-life doctors and pro-life nurses shouldn't be forced to perform abortions, the supreme
court said you have the right to choose an abortion, congress created a law that said you have a right not to perform, same thing here, the supreme court said same-sex couples have a right to states recognizing the relationships as a marriage, we need congress and others to say that means bakers, florists, photographers, adoption agencies don't have to help celebrate, violate their beliefs that marriage is a union of a man and a woman. >> host: what is your background? what drove you to write this book? >> guest: i was an undergraduate at princeton and most of my classmates disagreed with me about marriage and it wasn't they disagreed, they couldn't even understand the other perspective on this, they thought it was something inconceivable. i did my phd on political philosophy at the university of minnesota day so i came at this as a question of political philosophy. many come at at as a typical perspective. i am looking at it as a philosophical question about public policy and the audience i have in mind is my former classmate at princeton, a well-educated individual who is a secular liberal, this book is
written for them to understand why half of america thinks the way i think and to better articulate what it is they believe. it is written for all americans. >> host: right now is it a truth that it is up to congress, has to be on a national level if any changes are made to the status of gay marriage? >> the supreme court itself would have to reverse its decision like the roe v wade decision. states can make good laws on abortion but the court might strike those down unless it says we find a way to have wiggle room in which we reaffirm roe v wade but allow states to regulate abortion. same takes place on the marriage issue, they say you need to have something for situations that don't need to be marriage, civil unions or something like that. religious liberty act, can be done by local government, state government and federal, every
level of government can say we won't penalize catholic charity adoption agencies because they want to find orphaned homes and moms and dads. and three jurisdictions they have been shut down because they didn't want to do same-sex adoptions. i'm suggesting if we want to have civil peace after the same-sex. we have to agree or disagree, if you are -- if you are not in favor of don't have the government force you. >> host: we are at cpac where the c stands for conservative but a lot of libertarians support gay marriage and a lot of libertarians at cpac. >> the panel i am on in a tweet few minutes, two libertarians and two conservatives, one of them is a gay conservative, we disagree about marriage, two of us are in favor of the historic definition, two in favor of the new definition but i'll four of