You’re quiet out there now that your leader is gone. Don’t expect us to lower the volume while celebrating this victory.

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Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

It’s funny how an election changes situations.

Many of you have been uncharacteristically quiet over the last couple of days, or maybe Facebook’s algorithm gods are just sparing my sanity. Either way, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the silence right now. Crickets all over.

Unfortunately, posts from some of you popped up all through Election Day/ week, when President-elect Joe Biden pulled ahead of Donald Trump in those crucial swing states. You started to plead with everyone to suddenly get along and sing “Kumbaya.” …

Notebooks, typewriters, and landlines didn’t need warning labels.

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Photo: Sarah Klockars-Clauser/flickr

I’ve never agreed with the title of Blur’s 1993 album Modern Life Is Rubbish. Sometimes modern life is positively magical. I will, however, concede this: It now can be considerably more perilous than I remember it being back in the ’90s, before the 20th-century technology we’ve come to take for granted made almost everything infinitely easier.

Most of us are smart enough not to take a bath with our plugged-in laptop, but how many of us have stopped to think of all the possible unfortunate consequences of capturing a potentially viral scene on our phone (see number 10 below)? …

How a four-day African safari adventure became a crash course in me.

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All photos from the author’s personal collection

It’s amazing how much you can learn about yourself while hanging out with lions, elephants, and zebras in the wilds of Africa. During the year I spent based in Cape Town, I booked a 10-day, nine-night overland trek from Tanzania to Kenya, with a four-day Serengeti safari in the middle of it. While preparing for my departure, I knew I’d get to see a lot of incredible wildlife, but I didn’t expect to make so many discoveries about myself driving along those gorgeous dusty trails and sleeping with lions roaring right outside my tent.

In this excerpt from my forthcoming book, Storms in Africa: A Year in the Motherland, I reveal eight of my favorite personal revelations and confirmations. …

When they don’t care about Black pain, they make it worse

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Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Throughout my adulthood, I’ve been blessed with loyal and generous friends. They’ve been hanging in there with me for years, through ups, downs, and sideways, across multiple countries and continents. They’re among my staunchest supporters; some of them happen to be White.

But these are indeed times that can try Black souls — and our friendships, too. Ever since George Floyd used his last breaths to plead for his life while a White cop strangled him with his knee, I’ve discovered that not all of my relationships with White people are what they seem.

I can now separate most of my White friends and acquaintances into two distinct groups. Some may not feel my pain but try their best to understand it. When our conversations turn to race, they don’t let White fragility get in the way of listening and learning. …

I still can’t believe I literally stopped and smelled the roses.

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Photo by the author

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Too soon? How about 10?

The five- or 10-year projection is one of those clichéd job-interview questions that, thankfully, I’ve never been asked while groveling for a gig.

Before spending my first six months in Southeast Asia, if I had been, I probably would have come up with some canned response — an answer invented to convince average employers that I was a man with a plan. It would have served to make myself look confident yet humble, ambitious but not ruthless, the perfect team player.

That I would have had to “invent” something is not to say I was living without aspirations. For many years, they revolved around climbing the rungs of the ladder of success in magazine journalism, though I wasn’t quite sure where that ladder would lead. …

I miss having the luster of Barack Obama reflecting off me overseas.

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Joe Biden and Barack Obama in Springfield, Illinois, on August 23, 2008 (Photo: Daniel Schwen/Wikimedia Commons)

Aside from my 30th birthday and my wedding day, I can’t remember waking up feeling more hopeful and happy to be alive than I did on November 5, 2008.

That morning, I was walking down Avenida Santa Fe in Buenos Aires, where I’d been living for a little over two years, on my way to the gym in my usual somnambulistic strolling state when something jolted me out of my reverie.

The wake-up bomb? A picture of Barack Obama on the front page of the now-defunct Crítica de la Argentina newspaper and beside it, in bold type: “MARTES NEGRO” (translation: Black Tuesday). …

Scenes from a European heatwave.

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Photo: pxfuel

I don’t bruise easily, but I overheat just like that — and I married someone who does, too. A four-block walk to Trader Joe’s or Target in the low 60s can leave my shaved head covered with beads of sweat, while my husband’s underarms (which is where heat hits him hardest) are gasping for air.

This is why for both of us, air conditioning is never just optional; it’s a necessity. Without artificial cooling indoors in spring and summer (and sometimes even in fall and winter), I risk melting or spending all day complaining.

This can be particularly problematic and challenging when I travel, especially in older cities with antique buildings that weren’t designed with central air in mind and are too beautiful to be defaced by ugly cooling boxes hanging from the windows. …

But Fleetwood Mac’s unsung heroine just might be their real MVP.

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Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks with John McVie and Mick Fleetwood onstage in Tulsa in 2018 (Photo: flickr)

In a Billboard chart twist no-one saw coming (at least I didn’t), Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is top ten again, more than 40 years after becoming one of the best-selling albums in history. Although a viral Tik Tok video featuring the band’s “Dreams” led to the resurgence of the 1977 album and sent its number-one single inching toward the top 10 once again, Fleetwood Mac’s popularity has never waned.

Myriad line-up changes haven’t dimmed FM’s star power (Lindsey Buckingham was fired in 2018 and replaced by Neil Finn of Crowded House and Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) nor the perception that they owe it mostly to Stevie Nicks, who sang lead on the band’s only US chart-topping single. While Nicks and Buckingham might appear to be the core of Fleetwood Mac’s long-running success, we shouldn’t underestimate the creative and commercial might of Christine McVie. …

You can’t change the world while you’re sitting on the fence.

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Photo: Pikrepo

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

My sister sent me this quote the other day, and as I read it over and over, 401 years of history flashed through my mind. The words are usually credited to the Irish philosopher Edmund Burke (as they were by U.S. President John F. Kennedy in a 1961 speech before the Canadian Parliament), but there is some disagreement over whether Burke actually said them or if anyone said them at all.

It doesn’t really matter. It’s the thought that counts, and the idea is as relevant today as it was in 1961 or when the first African slaves arrived in the United States. Good people who did nothing helped make America the bastion of racism and White supremacy it is today. …

What do you say to a friend who wishes he were someone else?

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Photo: pixabay

“Can I talk to you about something important?”

I’ve always welcomed questions from gay men that fall outside the predictable range — “Where are you from?” “What do you do?” “Top or bottom?” — and I’d do anything to help a friend, but I can’t think of eight scarier words in the English language. They’re right up there with “We have to talk.” When has “Can I talk to you about something important?” ever been followed by anything good?

At least I knew my friend wasn’t about to dump me. But after a dramatic brace-yourself-for-a-whopper build-up that had him apologizing in advance over what he was about to say, what he revealed may have been as heartbreaking to hear as “I want to see other people” or “Let’s take a break.” …


Jeremy Helligar

Brother Son Husband Friend Loner Minimalist World Traveler. Author of “Is It True What They Say About Black Men?” and “Storms in Africa”

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