Linda Gebroe

It’s Fleet Week around San Francisco Bay and soon the aerial acrobatics of the Blue Angels will be thrilling some and infuriating others, or maybe both. Linda Gebroe has this Perspective.

I am one person with two opinions on one topic.

I can’t stand the Blue Angels. They are ear-splittingly loud. They pollute the skies in ways I can only imagine. With huge crowds pouring into San Francisco to see their so-called sky-jinx, the Blue Angels cause traffic jams of epic proportion here on the ground. They’re military and militaristic, hawks in crisp uniforms here to sell us a bill of patriotic goods. Meanwhile, we the taxpayers are footing the actual bill. Each of those jets is priced at well over $20 million. That’s $300 million dollars that could be sheltering, feeding and educating a lot of people.

Yet — and I really hate to admit this — there’s a part of me that kind of loves the Blue Angels. Those planes fly within 18 inches of each other. 18 inches! Like the very best ballet dancers, their elegant maneuvers become brilliant art. Unlike the dancers, the pilots’ lives can be lost with a single misstep, and that notion thrills the audience even more.

What I like best is how the Blue Angels bring the community together. From a San Francisco hilltop, you can see sailboats clustered on the Bay, throngs of fans gathered on the waterfront and neighbors congregating on the city’s street corners, hoping to get a good look at the airborne troubadours. The collective anticipation is palpable, and the cheers that follow can be deafening. Like the Blue Angels themselves, dammit.

So I hate the Blue Angels and I love them, too. How can that be?

How can it not be? Loving and hating the same thing happens a lot, if you think about it. The things in life that stir our passion are often multi-dimensional. Some parts we love, others we hate. Every year, the Blue Angels remind me of the risks we take when we love. We get close to each other. We make ourselves vulnerable and our hearts get all tangled up. Sometimes we get hurt real bad. And sometimes we are thrilled.

This weekend I will batten down the hatches and curse the Blue Angels as they roar over my house. And then I will look to the skies, hoping to get a glimpse.

With a Perspective, I’m Linda Gebroe.

Linda Gebroe stays firmly and securely attached to the ground in San Francisco.

You know that old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it”? The most recent Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has proven exactly what that means. By featuring size 16 model Ashley Graham on its cover, the magazine supposedly made a bold statement. It showed that beauty comes in all sizes, or at least in sizes other than thin. As a full-figured gal myself, I have long wished that magazines and other media would stop exalting tiny, skinny women. And I applaud Sport Illustrated for trying.

But really, I cringe when I see the photos of Graham sprawled by the ocean, back arched, head lolling, her position suggestive and seductive. This is not what I had in mind when I wished for inclusion. To be fair, Sports Illustrated gave its thinner models the same salacious treatment. So it could be argued that the magazine exploits all its swimsuit models equally, regardless of size.

I take no comfort in that. Yes, bigger women can be as attractive as others. I would even venture to say that there are at least as many full-figured women as petite ones in this country; and therefore we should be featured in ads, television shows and more.

But being welcomed into a group that is objectified and exploited is not the answer. It simply validates objectification and exploitation. And what Sports Illustrated does with its annual swimsuit issue is a sham. In 55 issues a year, the magazine features quality, in-depth reporting and stunning photography. Then for one week in February, the gloves and pretty much everything else comes off, as the magazine shifts into soft-core porn mode.

How can they get away with this? This being America, quite easily. According to Business Insider, Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition sells between 10 and 15 times as many copies as its regular issues. Customers demand T & A, publishers publish T & A. And if the T’s and A belong to a full-figured woman, so be it.

Okay, so the decision-makers at Sports Illustrated made an effort to be inclusive, and that’s a step. I’m just not sure it’s one they made in the right direction.

With a Perspective, I’m Linda Gebroe.

Linda Gebroe lives in San Francisco. 

Here I thought I was an American citizen, contributing in dollar and in spirit to what makes this country great. But it seems something called Sportsman Channel has pulled the red, white and blue right out from under me.

The only television network providing hunting, shooting and fishing programming, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Sportsman Channel claims to celebrate a lifestyle that is "truly American." The problem is, that lifestyle is not my lifestyle. And the question is, does that make me truly un-American?

With the upcoming launch of a show called "Amazing America," hosted on Sportsman Channel  by Sarah Palin, I have to wonder. A press release explains that the program will honor the American spirit and the great outdoors in equal measure. When I first read this, I thought, "Cool. I'm an American. I have spirit. I love the great outdoors.  Maybe Sarah Palin will want to interview me."

Then I got to the part that said the network is geared toward people who like to hunt, fish and shoot. I am not one of those people. I like to hike and look at flowers and birds. I don't care for killing game. Not that I've done it; in fact, the very thought disgusts me. I believe there is nothing sporting about using a high-powered semi-automatic weapon to obliterate an unsuspecting animal.

Now I'm thinking maybe Sarah Palin won't want to interview me, which is her prerogative and she's entitled to it. Let her and her employer feature whatever they want. But please don't let them decide what's truly American.

This whole issue reminds me of the days of "family values." We don't hear the term so much anymore, now that gay marriage is here to stay. But not so long ago, there were people who used it to mean that straight, married people were the sole proprietors of the positive values that made for good families. Their words and their actions excluded full-blooded, tax-paying citizens like me from equal treatment under the law.

So excuse me if I get irked when someone defines the American spirit, and that definition doesn't include my spirit. This is a free country, I'm told. Let's keep it that way, shall we?

With a Perspective, I'm Linda Gebroe.

Linda Gebroe lives in San Francisco.

Grilling season is upon us, and that brings up two things at which I excel. Grilling. And complaining. Today, I would like to complain about grilling. Not grilling per se, but how its image is conveyed to we, the people. If we didn't know better, we might think that grilling was a guy thing. We'd be half right. Grilling is a guy thing and it's a gal thing. Like I said, I excel at it and I'm a gal.

Have you ever seen a woman on TV commandeering a grill? I didn't think so. Greeting cards that show Barbie barbecuing? Yeah, right.

So let's say you wanted to buy me a birthday card. You would head to an area of a card store that says "For Her."  That section would be full of pink cards that joke about sagging boobs and nagging kids.

Now shift your gaze to the blue cards, and that's where you'll see some grilling. With Father's Day coming up, you'll see loads of cards portraying dudes who not only grill, they golf, they fish and they drink beer. My father, may he rest in peace, did none of those things. Okay, he played some golf…with my mother. So golf is one of those guy and gal things, too. As are cooking, gardening, astrophysics, driving a bus, teaching, governing, nursing and accounting.

I've been complaining about this gender stuff ever since I was a young teen who was told I couldn't play full-court basketball. Something about running hard being bad for the lady parts. It might sound quaint now, but you try screeching to a halt just as you're hitting your stride.

Which is what I've done with my grilling. I have come up with marinades that could make you weep. My grilled salmon, I'm told, is better than anything you'll find in a restaurant. Hand me a skewer and behold a genius at work. Still, the card companies, the media, the grillmakers themselves insist on portraying me, a non-feller, as a non-griller.

Some skills diminish with age, but neither my grilling nor my complaining are among them. Check out those pink and blue cards and you'll see what I mean.

With a Perspective, I'm Linda Gebroe.

Linda Gebroe grills in San Francisco.

A controversial bill, now moving through the state Legislature, seems to be ruffling some conservative feathers. Measure SB48 would require teaching California school children about the contributions to society made by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other minority Americans.

A parent who opposes the bill recently complained that his kindergarten daughter learned in school about two gay penguins who nurtured an egg in New York’s Central Park Zoo. He said that, “When you start at the age of five and six teaching these children about gender preferences, you’re confusing them.”

Really. I have a great-niece who is six. Recently, I showed her some pictures, including one of my wife.

“That’s Rebecca,” I said.

“I know,” replied she. “You guys are married. My dad told me.”

Later, I asked her dad about that. He said he told his daughter that men can marry men and women can marry women, as long as they love each other. Basically, he told her that love, not gender, defines a family. And that dispelled any confusion my great-niece might have had about gender preferences.

Here’s what is confusing: telling kids that only men and women make a legitimate couple or that only males, females and their biological babies make a legitimate family. In their towns and cities, in zoos, in parks, on television, kids see other ways of living.

I doubt that Roy and Silo, the two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo, had a homosexual agenda in mind when they incubated an abandoned egg and raised the resulting baby together. I do know that they are not the first or only male penguins to couple up. And I must admit, I enjoy picturing a contingent of their species waddling down Fifth Avenue for New York’s Gay Pride Parade.

The conservative parent I mentioned earlier probably wouldn’t be amused. He already finds the notion of same-sex coupling offensive, and that’s his loss. Society is made up of more than straight, white, able-bodied people. Teaching this man’s daughter  — or any child — about the incredible contributions made by all sectors would be a great step in their education.

With a perspective, I’m Linda Gebroe.