Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Happy Birthday, Baby

Today is my wife's birthday. I'm a sucker for romance, in case you hadn't figured it out, and I'm a sucker for her. I have very fond memories of the first birthday we spent together, mainly because she bolted like a hooker in church (or was that like a priest in a bathouse busted by a camera crew). We knew we were in love, but it was way too scary for her because this relationship was just what she wanted. You know, that's the funny thing about love, which hardcore hets just don't get. Don't share the gender of the people in a sweet love story, and they'll assume it's a man and woman. Tell them afterwards it's two men, or two women, and they just can't put it together. Oh, well. Sucks when love works and it ain't what you thought it was suppose to be, eh? But this isn't a gay rights post. Trust me, one will come soon.

This is an ode to an outstanding woman. She's selfless. I often have to remind her to save some for me. She's incredibly kind, and incredibly sweet. She's the smartest person I know, and one of the hardest-working. I, on the other hand, am a lazy waste-sack, but that's due to my own insecurities about my real vocation, the subject of another post. The wife is beautiful and sexy, funny, and great to be around. If she's having a bad day, you'd never know it, because it would interfere with your day.

So, here are my birthday wishes for you, my love. Take them to heart.

1. Please take care of your physical health. You're now 40. The things you used to do are history. We've talked about what you need to do, and the health legacy you come from.

2. Stop trying to make other people's dreams come true, and work on your own, even if it means you stop trying to make other people's dreams come true.

3. Keep laughing. You have a great laugh, and laughing keeps you young.

4. Take risks and ask for what you want, whether or not you know what the answer to your question is. You might be wrong -- it is possible.

5. Cry when you want to, even if it means that people will see you at what you think is your worst. Who gives a rat's ass anyway?

6. Remember you have people in your corner, and even if they don't do what you want the way you want it done, they'll still do it, so ask for help.

7. Remember I'm your biggest fan and always will be.

Happy birthday, baby.

Prayers

I send my prayers for everyone affected by Hurricane Katrina. I ask God to comfort, deliver, and give courage.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

And More WTF News

It was announced today that the nation's poverty rate rose. Screw whatever the numbers are for they're irrelevant except to anyone who isn't living below the generous poverty line of less than $19,000. Of note:

The South is the poorest
Blacks are the poorest ethnic group
The city with more than one million residents that saw the highest increase in the number of people living under the poverty line is New York, despite the Northeast having the highest increase in income, along with the West
Incomes dropped only in the Midwest

Looks like red staters got the old red-bum salute. Can we please start thinking about a better President? Now?

Today's WTF News

Okay, I'm starting to hit the news wall, and it's only morning. A man in Kansas is about to go to jail for statutory rape. That's not the bizarre part. The bizarre part is that he's married to his victim; he's 22, she's 14. And both their parents are in favor of the marriage because they have a 5-month-old daughter.

In addition to the support of the parents for this guy, there are also state residents who think the Attorney General ought to go after "real" criminals. Sorry, what part of sex between a grown man or grown woman and a teenager isn't a crime? Didn't Mary Kay Letourneau go to jail for her relationship with a 14-yer-old? Why shouldn't this guy go to jail -- because he's a present father? If he's such a stand-up guy, why didn't he ABSTAIN from having sex with a 14-year-old, no matter how persuasive she may have been, or mature she may have seemed? And, if he's such a non-criminal, or pseudo-criminal, since there's such a clarion call for catching "real" criminals, why didn't he wear a condom?

I really need to stop reading the news. It's sending my blood pressure way up.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Will The REAL Christians Please Stand Up?

I'm sorry, but is every Christian in America, in North America,in the free world completely asleep? When did Pat Robertson become such an icon of Christianity? Surely you've heard the news by now, but if you haven't, read this.

Oh, for the love of God.

Monday, August 22, 2005

They Just Don't Get It

According to an article in The Progressive, a group of people were strong-armed and bullied out of questioning Rick Santorum at a book signing at a Pennsylvania Barnes & Noble. Read the article for the details. Essentially, it's typical of the "I don't have an answer, but you're just wrong anyway" culture we've adopted.

In 5th grade, I asked my teacher, Mrs. Miller, to explain why the Declaration of Independence said all men were created equal, but slavery, applying only to Blacks, existed at the same time. She couldn't. In her defense, she didn't make me feel like a troublemaker, nor did she dismiss my question. She said she just couldn't explain it.

Ask a conservative why same-sex marriage is such a threat to families in America, when divorce rates are around 50%, and were, long before gays expressed public interest in legal protection for their relationships, and they'll give you a wordy, confused answer like marriage protects children by providing both a mother and a father, blah blah.

Ask a Christian to explain why homosexuality is wrong, but eating cheeseburgers isn't, they'll give you some nonsensical answer like, God said it (homosexuality) is an abomination, but never tell you that the same was said of mixing meat and milk, which is what a cheeseburger is.

Ask a Christian to explain why abortion is a sin, but capital punishment is justified, and they'll give you a hack answer like "God created life, and it isn't up to man to take it away."

Ask a war-supporter to explain why we're about to spend four more years in Iraq, and they'll tell you it's to help spread freedom and democracy and stop terrorism, but we still have young Black men and gays and lesbians falling victim to hate crimes, women still being killed by their psychopath partners, and abortion clinics being bombed here on American soil.

I'm growing increasingly tired of being the person who sees the elephant in the room when no one else does. They just don't get it, and something has to give.

Sigh.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

What Will You Do on Sept. 11?

An article in today's Times discusses two sides of the 9/11 (or worse, 9-1-1) commemoration: go on with life and plan things like celebrations on that day, or mark it solemnly; conduct no business, hold no concerts, volunteer.

I think it's all hypocrisy. We can barely commemorate Martin Luther King's birthday; it's usually a sale day, or the Monday off from work creates an excuse for a Sunday night party. We don't mark the bombing of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City (April 19, by the way) or the Columbine shooting (April 20). We don't note the bombing of Hiroshima, where more than 200,000 died at American hands,except through newspaper articles. We don't mark Juneteenth, the day when slaves in Texas learned of their emancipation, several months after the Emancipation Proclamation. We don't have a real reason for President's Day; which used to be two separate days, but lumped together for whatever the reasons.

We pay attention to the things that make us most comfortable. Groups are fighting the International Freedom Center's placement at the World Trade Center memorial site, yet they haven't come out to say anything about rebuilding the site. If it's such hallowed ground, why build anything over it at all? Sacredness didn't stop the new federal courthouse in lower Manhattan from being built over a Negro burial ground, nor did the development of towns and cities over native American burial grounds cease. No, the issue is not about what is holy or sacred. The issue is what will keep anti-American sentiment, which the IFC has insisted will never be a part of its exhibits, minimized, or quashed altogether.

I'll get reamed for this, and that's fine. Each time we lose someone, we reopen the wound caused by their death whenever we recreate, relive, retell the story of their demise. Does the retelling, the replaying of images of that fateful day, make them any less absent? Bring them back? Isn't the re-publishing of the photo of the second plane in proximity of the second tower the same as picking at a scab that hasn't completely healed? Will the wound ever heal?

I believe we should never forget the loss of a loved one. But I also believe that we'll never heal if we don't let them go. They're gone, and aren't coming back. I believe we honor life by living. Living a life filled with pseudo-politeness is hypocrisy. Do you tell your children born on September 11 that they never get to celebrate their lives? Make them feel guilty for living when others died? Do you avoid getting married, celebrating a wedding anniversary? For that matter, we should never laugh, sing, or dance on April 19, April 20, June 19, or August 6.

Let's live. Let's celebrate life. We need to stop romanticizing the deaths that occurred on September 11th. 3000-plus people died needlessly, even the rescue workers who did their jobs. It's bad enough that corporations and governments handed out money to surviving families, as if that would ease the pain of grief. It's bad enough that victims' families get to drag out the nation's grief, and the government puts us in a war we still don't understand. Let's live. Enough already.

Enough With The Niceties

Okay, I'm back because I'm bordering on depressed and pissed; don't know which one is stronger at the mo, but who cares.

Anyway, let's start with the pissed.

The Cindy Sheehan Story
I haven't said much about the Cindy Sheehan story, but I'll offer this: did she have a meeting with GWB, as in, they spent some time together, they shared their POV's, they came to an agreement, even if it was to agree to disagree, or did they meet, as in shake hands at a pancake breakfast or something? If it was the former, okay, she probably should go home. If it was the latter, it wasn't a meeting, and the tools accusing her of letting the pinko anti-war movement use her are full of caca. Feel free to let me know. Oh, and the nice guy who ran over a bunch of crosses with his truck was probably a Christian. Nice way to win one for Jesus, dude.

The Gaza Situation
Here's another one, where I welcome edification. So, according to a very informative editorial in today's New York Times, we learn that Israel seized the Gaza strip in the Israel-Egypt war in 1967, meaning it wasn't really Jewish land to begin with, but then neither was the nation of Israel, formed with the help of the U.N. in 1948. The faces of the Jews appearing in the news that are so devastated by the Gaza handover are young, clearly too young to know how their settlement was created. And,while I'm making no effort to appear either pro-Palestinian or pro-Israel, no one's hands, Israeli or Palestinian, are clean. Europeans got one more chance to seize another piece of land held by brown people, and brown people fed up with being treated like crap have waged a war since then that has spread across continents and hit anyone and everyone indiscriminately. No one is right, and something has to change or we'll all end up nuclear dust under the cockroach's feet.

The Housing Bubble in New York City
I've really held my tongue on this one because it's an extremely sensitive subject, which moves me from furious to depressed. So, similar to my comments on gay life, and whether or not we've created the dysfunction we now see (thanks PK for the spot-on comments), have we created the "fabulous" monster in the housing market? What the hell is going on when putting stainless steel in an apartment makes it worthy of twice the rent for one with a reconditioned stove, both in a crime-ridden, grocery store-free neighborhood? Why the hell should I pay half a million dollars for 500 square feet -- just because it's in a "fabulous" neighborhood? Brooklyn used to be a great place to live because it wasn't Manhattan, and you didn't have to pay Manhattan dollars. No one wanted to live in Harlem, which is another subject, and now shells without a roof and no walls are selling for $800,00 and climbing. I have to build my own fucking house, and still pay nearly a million dollars to do it? I'm seriously considering not just leaving New York City, but leaving the state, and possibly the country. On a household income of $98,000, what the fuck am I supposed to live in, a studio in the projects?

And, Who Bleepin' Asked You, Asswipe?

This piece of stained toilet paper was a comment on one of my posts (not the one from the Nuggster, the "newsletter"). Because I'm still trying to learn the ins and outs of Blogger.com, I haven't figured out how to delete it, or better block this shit. If I find out who the fuck you are and why you've littered my space, may the Almighty have mercy on you. Anyone else feel like leaving their detritus behind, think twice, because I'm not in a good mood. Don't do it.

In conclusion, I leave you with the immortal words of Drill Sargeant Harvey Walden IV, from the VH1 show, "Celebrity Fit Club," have a great BLEEPING day!

The Hot List

Summer is winding down. I'm feeling a little cranky, and there are far too many rotten things to write about, so I'll shift my focus instead to something completely frivolous, if only for a minute.

So, here is my current list of the 10 most beautiful women in my opinion.

10. Kate Beckinsale -- stunning in The Aviator, luscious in Van Helsing.
9. Keira Knightley -- I think I have a thing for British women, although she's a bit too skinny for me.
8. Jada Pinkett Smith & Beyonce Knowles -- lest you think I don't like Black women. I just like pretty women.
7. Halle Berry -- skinny too, but really pretty.
6. Monica Bellucci -- after peepin' her in a latex dress in The Matrix Reloaded and watching her breast struggle to stay in the red vinyl joint in The Matrix Revolutions, I felt kind of guilty thinking she made a hot Mary Magdalene in The Passion of The Christ, but there was something a bit de Sade-ish about the movie anyway.
5. Jill Scott -- I also like thick pretty women.
4. Halle Berry -- Gorgeous. What the hell was Eric Benet thinking?
3, 2, and 1 -- Catherine Deneuve. Oh, my God. She gets her own paragraph.

Catherine Deneuve is the kind of old broad (not literally, but she will be 62 this year) I would love to be. Actually, she's the kind of old broad my wife will be. Great features, great body, smoky voice, the accent. You want to walk the streets of Paris with her, share a meal with her, drink too much wine, and wake up to have cafe au lait and brioche with her. Like most over-30 lesbians, I saw and loved her in The Hunger, but she's smoldering in 8 Femmes (8 Women), a French murder mystery/musical (you have to see it to get it). Check this out for yourself (she's on the far left, top row). Actually, this one is my favorite.

Okay, after you submit your nominee for hottie, stay tuned. I promise I'll get back to some good old-fashioned ranting before you know it.

Friday, August 12, 2005

And How Could I Forget...

70,000 people were stranded in London's Heathrow Airport thanks to a strike by catering staff. Numerous flights were canceled, leaving people scrambling for alternate arrangements.

I thought bomb threats and racial unrest in London was reason enough to skip my planned trip this year, but damn! At least my black ass could get home.

WTF News & Other Goodies

Happy Friday, friends! Short & to the point today, although things can change.

We Knew This Was Coming

Actor James Woods shares his opinion on why Hollywood movies are crap. Blah, blah, blah, blather, blather, blather, eventually summing up by saying the problem is that White heterosexual guys have to be low lifes, or ths movie won't sell. Read it here if you don't believe me. The endangered straight White guy was bound to speak out some time.

I'll Get You, My Pretty, and Your Little Dog Too

Crybaby Jarrod Crowley, a sausage & lemonade vendor ratted out 2 kids running a lemonade stand, claiming they were undercutting his business because they were too close to his. I suppose I understand his position. He has to earn a living, and it's not like people won't see two kids selling lemonade, and not succumb to the all-Americanness of it, thus skipping ol' Jason's stand. But, for pete's sake, dude, quitcher bitchin. It's lemonade. These are kids. It's not like they're running a thousand-dollar Girl Scout cookie stand. And how about the owner of the sausage franchise, opening his heart and making the boys subcontractors to him. Wonder what his cut is, the benevolent prince?

Pot & Kettle

Anyone who doesn't think this madness is tragically funny doesn't know what funny is. Or tragic. As anyone paying attention to the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church knows, there's a lot of, shall we say, protection, going on, as well as Moral Superiority. So, in the latest CathChurch scandal, Monsignor Eugene Clark, the number two guy at St. Patrick's Cathedral, resigns amid allegations that he's having an affair with his married secretary (who, in almost relieved tones, is always clearly stated as female). The secretary's husband suspected something fishy was going on, and hired a private dick to tail the wife, busting her and the good father leaving a motel room dressed in clothes other than the ones they arrived in some FIVE HOURS LATER. The padre's statement is this:

"It appears to me that events and circumstances have been portrayed in such a false and sensational manner that I will no longer be able to effectively serve the archdiocese."

Read that carefully, kids. He doesn't say that what he's accused of is false, just that the events are circumstances were portrayed falsely. What makes this so damn delicious is that this man has made a point of blaming priest pedophilia on immoral American culture and the admitting of homosexuals into seminary. He was the host of a cable show on Catholic family life, which is scary in its own way, but I digress. According to news reports, the woman has spent weekends with the Monsignor, even if it meant skipping time with her own family.

I'm not going to jump on the "this is why celibacy for the priesthood doesn't work" thing, because I believe a promise is a promise. If you take vows, which aren't kept secret from you until you take them, then stick to them. Otherwise, step down or don't swear yourself in. Just don't be a hypocrite. You've got to be endowed with steel cojones to decry immorality, and then bust up a home, and violate one of the foundations of your vocation. Sheesh!

Oh, well. It is what it is. Thanks for tuning in, kids. Until next time!

What The Hell Happened to TV?

Great Caesar's Ghost, what the hell happened to tv? You're either stuck with shows featuring teeny boppers, or 20-somethings posing as teeny boppers, or grown folks sharing the stage with teeny boppers. Or, you're stuck with the 2 most unimaginative, stupid subject matters on the planet: doofus White guys and their never-ending pursuit of the puss, or the reality show, a.k.a. "I can't come up with a real story, so let me find a burned out group of people, like has-been or pseudo celebrities, and convince them to humiliate themselves on national tv with the promise of fame and fortune, or at least fame."

The latest of the former of my targets is "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," a summer entry on FX. What a pantload, considering that FX has turned out gems like "Nip/Tuck" (which I don't actually watch, but my wife loves), "Rescue Me," featuring eternal dark horse Denis Leary, and critically-acclaimed "The Shield." "Blah blah blah Philly" is the brainchild of three doofus White guys who I think play themselves, who run a bar, with a female friend in Philly. In the first episode, one of the guys tries his best to prove he isn't racist by picking up a girl at predominantly-Black Temple University (the alma mater of one William H. Cosby). He makes an ass of himself, and she dumps him in front of his actual love interest. Another character buddies up to the Black gay friend of the female because Brotha Man is a successful party owner. The twist is that he turns the crew's tanking bar into the new hot gay spot, but of course, the doofus crew can't handle the gay thing, so they bail. Tonight's episode, the second, features another two-headed story, that of possible paternity by the Black booty-chaser, and another dude picking up women at, drumroll please, an anti-abortion rally. Needless to say, Dumb Ass finds and nails a hot pro-lifer, but gets dropped like first-period calculus by a stoner when he suggests she should get an abortion at a pregnancy scare.

In contrast, is the strangely clever "Starved," a Schadenfreude-esque dramedy centered around a compulsive overeater who prefers watching football over sex with his wife, an anorexic actress who pretends to be gay because her fans prefer her gay, a hot Black male cop who is bulimic, and an anorexic/bulimic White guy with a slight addiction to Nemo's chocolate frosted caked that he tries to avoid eating by covering with cleanser before throwing away, although he figures out how to eat around the cleanser. You can't help but laugh at the misfortune of these freaks; a successful accountant jonesin' for corner-store cake, who in the second episode, tries to hook up with his colonic technician; the schlub who, in the real world, couldn't get laid if a vagina was surgically attached to his penis, has a wife who is always horny; a Black man who binges and purges -- what Black man is tryin' to throw up one of Big Mama's meals?

Now, the writers of "Starved" need to talk to the producers of reality tv, which just needs to die as natural a death as low-carb diets. Does Omarosa not have a real profession that she manages to show up on reality show after reality show? Few reality shows manage to be almost as imaginative as "The Real World," the MTV show that started it all. At least TRW brought serious social issues to America, including AIDS, class and race, honest portrayals of gays and lesbians, and substance abuse. What the hell is "Fear Factor" doing? How compelling is watching couples eat pig testicles week after week?

I suppose this means I should really watch less tv, but like the freaks on "Starved," I'm addicted in my own way, even paying more than a hundred bucks a month for digital cable with hundreds of channels. I don't want to give up tv, I just want it to get better.

Gone are the flights of fancy like "Good Times," "Charlie's Angels," "All In The Family." In the immortal screech of Archie and Edith Bunker, those were the days.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Great Sites & Blogs

Although I've tried BlogRoll, I can't seem to figure out how to get the sites & blogs I recommend up on my blog, so apologies to y'all who have added me to your sites. Help a sista out -- sned my dumb ass some instructions so I can share the love properly!

Anyway, in the meantime, here are folks you must check out.


Angry Black Bitch -- eponymous; smart, right on chick out of St. Louis with interesting take on lots of things. We're starting a revolution of angry black bitches, so be on the lookout for the t-shirt, mug and keychain.

the blog of edroso.com -- this cat's vocab is scary. One of the smartest and coolest guys I know.

ThoughtNuggets -- she does put the FUN in dysfunctional.

Keith Boykin -- Black gay man who I think is an outstanding voice of the Black gay & lesbian community. Visit some of the blogs he links to.

IllumiNation Chorale, a choir destined for great things.

Michael Allan Moore is a friend, a talented singer, and a gifted photographer. His work is photography mashed up with watercolors. Buy his stuff now before he blows up.

I'm going to try to keep this list updated as I'm always finding new faves.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Have We Created a Monster?

Last night, Britain's BBC2 aired a documentary called "Sad to Be Gay," the story of a Black gay man in Britain who explores sexual orientation re-programming, talks about his sad childhood, and his loneliness as an adult gay man. Although he identifies as gay, he believes he's really bisexual, and spends time in the U.S. at Love in Action, a now-notorious ex-gay "camp" to look at his desires for men, and how he can refocus them, including classes for men on learning to like auto repair and football.

Exploring David Akinsanya's life, we learn that his White mother placed her child, sired by a Nigerian father, in care (what we'd call foster care), and he has some understandably jacked-up family issues. Essentially, he's raised fatherless. Actually, he's kind of non-parented. Mostly, he sounds really lonely.

I haven't seen the program. I've only read a couple of online stories about the documentary, but he sounds like most (not all) of the ex-gays you hear from. They're lonely. They had lousy childhoods. They've tried to fit in to the narrow definitions of "gay life;" i.e. parties, bars, drag, lots of acquaintances, lots of anonymous sex, unfaithful boyfriends (if there is, or was, one), emphasis on a beautiful face and body, camp. David wants to love and be loved, like everyone else. But is his search for love based solely on being gay?

My partner has a dear friend, someone she calles her sister, whose story is remarkably similar to David Akinsanya's. After experiencing horrible self-esteem issues, emotional, sexual and physical abuse, an abysmal family system, abusive partners, both male and female, "Little Sister" found our merry band of friends, consisting of my partner and I, and another lesbian couple. We adopted her, held her while she cried, helped her move and welcomed her on our couches until she acted out her pain on us, forcing us to ask her to leave. She was there when our friends announced their pregnancy. She was one of my partner's bridesmaids. She was there to celebrate my 35th birthday. We were there when her last female lover had her arrested on trumped-up charges of menacing and theft. Little Sister, previously living near the four of us in Brooklyn, moved herself to a far end of the Bronx, stopped attending the gay-affirming church we all went to, and submitted herself to a church so intent upon removing the stain of homosexual desire that they orchestrated a sexual encounter with an older male deacon of the church, a married man. We rarely see her, and rarely hear from her. Every now and then she surfaces, convinced that it was her desire for women that put her in the predicament she's in now; lonely, isolated, depressed.

Putting aside non-gay or lesbian or SGL Judeo-Christian fundamentalist rhetoric, are gays, lesbians, SGL, queer people responsible for people like David Akinsanya and Little Sister? Have we made "the life" seem so glamorous that they can't keep up? By glamorous, I mean shiny and bright, extremely social, convivial, hedonistic, even. Have we bottled and sold a brand of hubris that drives some straight into the pseudo-rescue of ex-gay programming? Are we expecting baby dykes and newborn twinks to drink the kool-aid of fabulousness, only to have the artificial colors and flavors in the glass bring on a case of emotional anaphylactic shock to the allergic?

There are some in the queer community (I'm getting tired of the initials -- if you don't identify as queer, just exchange it for your own definition) who think that we are so different, that we are shiny happy people, that anything resembling what straights are thought to have, who've created their own brand of hubris, is assimilationist. Perhaps it isn't that those of us who do prefer a quiet life of monogamy, a kid or two, a nice place to live, and even a ceremony ritualizing the commitment we've already emotionally made, are trying to be like everyone else, but that we're the odd ones. Lesbians are stereotypically accused of being ugly, mannish, humorless man-haters who bring a U-Haul on the third date. Yet, we see younger lesbians throwing their own circuit parties, dropping E and having as much sex as possible -- who are they imitating? The white gay men often cited as representatives of gayness. But why? Black queers, reacting to what they perceive as racism or exclusion from traditional Pride celebrations, have formed Black Pride events that look oddly similar to, yep, you guessed it, traditional Pride celebrations. Some sort of arts program (fashion shows, poetry slams, balls, art exhibit) is thrown in, the requisite picnic (probably the only thing you don't see in a traditional Pride celebration) and beach party, complete with a beautiful body contest. There are parties on each night of the weekend, with a dance music diva performing. I don't see a substantive, this is what we've been missing kind of thing difference at all. Is this not, again, imitating what White queers have done for years and years?

Maybe we've created the monster we love to hate. Maybe it isn't all so shiny and bright.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Let The Bitchfest Begin

New York Republicans are quietly slipping in the chick factor to bolster the Senate race between incumbent Hilary Rodham Clinton and Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, the GOP's candidate positioned to unseat Clinton. What's the GOP's strategy, you ask? Classic bitchery, drag out the spotted past of Mr. Clinton, William Jefferson Clinton, that is, one of the finest Presidents of this great country (it's my blog, so piss off if you don't like my assessment). He was impeached, after all. Not that Mr. Pirro is an innocent. Why, old Al, a fundraiser for the GOP, was jailed for 11 months for income tax evasion, charges that included illegal deductions for luxury cars, the costs of fighting a paternity suit, and care for the family's pet pigs. Bill got busted for lying about getting a hummer from an intern who made the mistake of telling a big mouthed hag. Impeachment merely means you've been charged with a crime. Charged with lying, going to jail for stealing. I'd rather have the liar, thanks.

But back to the estrogenity. So, in newspaper stories, the GOP pushes Ms. Pirro as the best person to unseat Hilary because she's an ethnic Catholic who is a blue stater on social issues, and a red stater on fiscal and criminal issues. Hilary is portrayed, again, in the most tiresome way, as a carpetbagger, using New York as a stepping stone for her own climb up the political ladder. And Jeanine isn't? Isn't moving from Attorney General to state Senator a move up? What about her alleged claim that the run, win or lose, puts her further in the public's eye, scoring her more national visibility (she's already a legal analyst for Fox News, according to today's New York Times)? According to Republican commentator Michael Edelman, are New Yorkers "sophisticated enough to make a distinction between Jeanine and whatever Al may have done in the past," but not sophisticated enough to make the same distinction between Hilary and Bill?

It's all smoke and mirrors. The Times has quotes from as many women as the New York State GOP could trot out since this is a blue state, after all. We want to hear from women, even if it's a crock. Editorials are flying about whose husband is the most dastardly. And quite frankly, I'm not convinced it wouldn't happen if these weren't two women running against each other, thus the bitchery. The race, which should be based on who can best represent the people of New York State on the national level, is instead turned into a mud wrestling contest. The hottest chick with the longest claws will be declared the winner.

Yet again, Republicans have demonstrated that their first priority is maintaining the high status of the White, heterosexual father. They'll trot out the "others" when necessary, or court them when necessary, but it all comes back to good ol' boys being good ol' boys.

Let the bitchfest begin.

Not Our Finest Hour Indeed

When did hip hop go from an urban subculture, replete with its own visual and aural language, to a commercial and trivial expression of the worst depictions of urban life?

When did "keepin' it real" become a glamorization of urban warfare?

Who decided that real hip hop was exemplified by lyrics that encourage carefree violence?

When did our righteous anger at unemployment, undereducation, poverty, and racism degrade into celebrations of drug dealing, denigration of women, and materialism without responsibility?

Why is 50 Cent supposed to be more real than Common?

When did hip hop go from being the love of one's life to being an aged street whore?

Why must every hip hop disagreement end with violent threats or death?

Why do poor Black and Latino kids aspire to be rappers and not doctors?

Why do so many of our kids know rap lyrics but can barely read?

When did White people get permission to morph hip hop into grotesque buffoonery? Why did Black people decide it was okay just to get a piece of the pie?

When did young women become convinced that slapping each other as hard as possible was an acceptable form of entertainment and way to make a fast dollar?

America's fascination with the grotesque, the violent, has found its way into urban America. New York's major hip hop radio station, Hot 97, no stranger to controversy, agreed to pay a punitive fine of $240,000 for its production of "Smackfest." In Smackfest, two young women are pitted against each other in a contest where they slap each other in the face as hard as possible, with the winner declared by the radio personality (or personalities). Five rounds, $500.

Sure, it's easy to criticize Smackfest and say little about Extreme Fighting, televised contests where average guys risk life and limb in an organized brawl. It's easy to hold Smackfest under a microscope, when boxing is one of the highest grossing forms of entertainment (I'm not sure for me, if it's a sport), and when professional wrestling, staged or not, is as well. Violence sells as well as sex. We can only look at video games, and the proliferation of those games that employ fantasy violence or animated crime, and how much money they earn, as examples. What disturbs me so much about Smackfest is the message it sends to young Black and Latino women. The voluntary participants in this fiasco are young women who either believe they're "representin' " for their 'hood, or believe a simple slap is an easy way to make money, or an easy way to prove how whatever they are; tough, survivors of an ugly way of life, capable of overcoming crappy circumstances. These girls are duped into thinking this is cool. Why Emmis Communications, the parent company of Hot 97, issued a lame statement:

"Despite the fact that the contestants voluntarily participated in what was supposed to be harmless entertainment, it was not our finest hour, and New York City deserves better."

Is the voluntary participation what makes gratuitous violence acceptable? What exactly is harmless about slapping someone as hard as possible? Among the videos available on the web, is one where a contestant ends up with a bloody lip. And what is entertaining about it?

Hot 97 is no stranger to controversy, and neither is radio in New York City. From Opie and Anthony's staged sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral, to terrified screams accompanying dialogue after 9/11, to song lyrics rife with racial epithets and profanity accompanying dialogue after another tragedy, that of last December's tsunami disaster. While I am not a fan of Howard Stern, what distinguishes Stern's antics from those of Hot 97's is that he's a White guy, paid by other White guys, targeting everybody, but staying just above the mire enough to be annoying. Opie and Anthony are also tasteless White guys, paid by other tasteless White guys. The mostly Black staff of Hot 97 takes its marching orders from White guys, and they've been duped into thinking it's okay to drag other people of color through the muck, egged on by White guys.

I'm not saying Smackfest, the Tsunami Song, the shootings outside Hot 97's offices, and probably more offensive things, would be any more acceptable if they came from a Black-owned station. We're certainly critical enough of BET, which incidentally is now partially White-owned. It is sad that Black folks are willing to whore themselves, accept any line of bull handed to them, and turn around and criticze you for calling them on it. And, too many of us are willing to forgive and forget; Emmis Communications, in addition to the fine, is donating $60,000 to Safe Horizon, an anti-violence organization.

Marcus Garvey, whether you love or hate him, was right when he said "Up, you mighty race. You can accomplish what you will." New York does deserve better. So does this mighty race.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Endings

Peter Jennings, the handsome and charming news anchorman that brought his own brand of delivery to the news. More than just the facts, and more than stilted delivery, he made the news kinda sexy.

"Queer As Folk," which represented everyone and no one in the gay community. Love it or hate it, I was probably the only queer in America that didn't expect it to represent me, and was able to appreciate it for that reason.

Ibrahim Ferrer, the gifted voice of the Cuban music renaissance. The wife and I had the extreme pleasure of seeing him live in Montreal on a snowy February evening. Simultaneously cool and spicy, his voice made you want to stare deeply into the eyes of the one you love while sitting on a moonlit beach.

"Like sands in the hourglass, so are the days of our lives."

Studies in Black & White

Why is it that White people find it so easy to dismiss real consideration for people of color as deference to political correctness? Of course, it's a rhetorical question, as there is no real answer, just as Mrs. Miller, my 5th grade teacher, didn't have an answer for the question I posed, which was, "why did slavery exist if the Declaration of Independence declared that all men were created equal." Please don't misread my question as limiting the question of racism to Whites only. In the wake of the debate on the use of profiling, pro and con, in subway searches, we've heard from people of color, Muslim and not, who not only support the searches, but think they should take place in every station, and should be more thorough. My question is about broader considerations of race and ethnicity, considerations of difference in society.

A young Black man was attacked in the Flatlands neighborhood of Brooklyn, a neighborhood with a mix of Jews, a few Italian families, and Caribbean immigrants. Walking home early Sunday morning, he was beaten by a half-dozen White men. Were it not for the intervention of a couple driving by, he would have been killed. In contrast, a human interest story in this morning's Metro, profiles 14-year-old Medina Parrilla, a young Black girl who recently represented the U.S. in the World Youth Championship Chess Tournament. Already, she being touted as the Bobby Fischer of the Bronx.

Would Medina Parrilla be as interesting if her ethnicity wasn't mentioned, just that she was one of only two Americans to place in the top 25 percentile, 24th out of 110 international competitors? Would Alex Moore have been the victim of a reprehensible attack by a pack of thugs? Will a term like "wilding" be coined to describe the behavior of these hoodlums, and Nicholas Minucci, the bat wielder accused in the recent Howard Beach incident? What about the attacks on Sikhs following 9/11?

When attacks woven with racist elements take place; e.g. racial epithets, targeting a group of people by the way they look, it's not a lack of "political correctness" that is upsetting, as if we should sum up the disgusting behavior of assailants as a case of boys-will-be-boys. Those of us who know all too well that we could have been in the victim's shoes aren't being sensitive. We're pissed off, and with reason. What is politically incorrect is shrugging off this stuff as simple. It isn't.

And because society hasn't yet become comfortable with the notion of difference as just a notion, there isn't anything simple.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Day of Fame or Infamy?

Saturday, August 6 will be filled with mixed emotions. 60 years ago, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. 43 years ago, the island nation of Jamaica was granted its independence from Great Britain.

Interestingly, the first film in the British-produced 007 series, "Dr. No," takes place on the island of Jamaica (released in 1962), with the eponymous villain possessing a nuclear warhead which he threatens the world with as part of operations for the criminal organization SPECTRE (Special Executives for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion). The villain, half-White, half-Asian, in a conversation with hero James Bond, says: "East, West, points on a compass, each as stupid as the other."

I'm no expert on atomic energy, but it is said that Albert Einstein, arguably one of the greatest minds of our time, was instrumental in harnessing its use. He is quoted as saying:
"The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one."

I wonder what the existing problem was, considering how urgently the world needs to manage the problem of readily accessible (okay, maybe not a accessible as bread, or a newspaper, but still) nuclear ingredients and bomb-making info. I wonder too if Einstein ever envisioned the crucial reality of terrorism, which invariably is accompanied by counterintelligence, revenge and extortion. I wonder if he ever imagined that his work with the atom, the smallest component of any thing, would morph into the greatest potential source of destruction imaginable.

I wonder if the approximately 2 million Jamaican residents know that the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, three days later, killed what would amount to approximately 10 percent of Jamaica's population. I wonder if the 50,000 expected to commemorate the bombing of Hiroshima in Japan know that while they cry, Jamaicans commemorate something entirely different. I wonder if both countries, with the U.S. in the middle, share concerns about the impossibility of maintaining peace while preparing for war.

"World domination. Same old dream. Our asylums are full of people who think they're Napoleon or God. " -- James Bond

Let's hope and pray they remain in the asylums and not end up controlling things.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Profiles in Cluelessness

And in this week's edition of WTF News, Brooklyn Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Jew (representing gentrifying Flatbush and mainly Jewish Boro Park), and Republican Councilman James Oddo, an Italian-American representing parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn (including Bensonhurst, no stranger to racial unrest), both think the subway searches should be based on profile. I mention the locale, party affiliation, and cultural distinction for a reason.

Both politicians, who could be unseated in the next races, believe that because terrorists of late have been mostly young Arab men, the police should stop any young man who is, or looks Arab, or Muslim. Says Hikind:

"There is a terrorist profile for a potential suicide bomber, and it's not the 75-year-old grandmother with sloping shoulders, who has an oversized tote bag firmly tucked under her arm."

Says Oddo:
"Plain and simply, young Arab fundamentalists are the individuals undertaking these acts of terror."

I'm not going to dwell on the obvious, like the White kids in Columbine, or Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma, who were also White. And I'm also not going to dwell on Randall Terry, the recently convicted bomber of reproductive clinics. And I'll leave it to Dov the Mensch to read the report of the former Israeli soldier who, wearing his yarmulke, opened fire on a bus full of Arabs, killing 4. I'm sure he's familiar with the 1990 killing of 7 Palestinians, and the 1994 killing of 29 Arabs, both by Jewish extremists, both young men. I'm just gonna keep it simple.

James Oddo doesn't have much of a positive track record outside of his mostly White, working class, 50 and older constituency. In fact, in a 2004 op-ed piece in the New York Daily News, he basically said it was a waste of time to try to get the attention of young voters as most 18 to 24-year-olds were more interested in their iPods than in politics. In 2002, he sponsored legislation (complete with a 5 1/2-hour discussion) to ban aluminum baseball bats from schools and little league games because a kid got beaned, and severely injured.

Dov Hikind has either been absent for or has voted against strengthening hate crimes legislation, and has voted for deregulation of rent, which allows landlords to increase rent on a vacated apartment by 18%. He didn't bother to vote for legislation calling for coverage of contraception by health insurers. When 40 cars had their tires slashed around Thanksgiving Day, he called it a hate crime because the neighborhood is largely Hasidic.

They've become allies suddenly, even though Hikind's sister-in-law attempted to unseat Oddo.

These two dunderheads couldn't poor piss out of a boot, much less fairly represent all the members of their neighborhoods. Now they want to put their two cents in on a policy with broad-sweeping effects? These White guys, who will very likely experience little maltreatment because of their ethnicity or cultural identification (even yarmulke-wearing Hikind), think it's okay to go on the record in support of profiling just because of one's appearance?

Give me strength.

Turning Back The Clock

In "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," Hermione Granger, overachiever and all-around genius, uses a device called a time-turner to alter time slightly so she can attend two classes that take place at the same time. The device is used later in the story to alter events with far-reaching consequences should they have occurred as intended.

We find ourselves increasingly in similar time-turning circumstances. Since Goldwater's mainstreaming of conservatism in the late 60's, White heterosexual males, and their admirers, have tried their best (and occasionally succeeded) to change the face of America, literally and culturally, to make real the post-World War II setting of "Ozzie and Harriet." The show featured a family of four, playing fictionalized versions of themselves, exploring everyday issues like growing pains, school, dating, and the social life of teens. Never having seen the show myself, I can't tell you how bland it actually was, but from all accounts, it was. Debuting on television in 1952 (according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications website), it was originally a radio show that moved to t.v., with Ozzie Nelson scripting and directing the show. Much of what is remembered about the program focuses on son Rick Nelson's musical performances, but the focus was to have been Dad's steering the course for the family, and Mom Harriet making sure slightly goofy Dad doesn't kill himself in the process. Classic "the man is the head of the household," with the woman submitting stuff. I usually think of this line from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," delivered by Lainie Kazan's mother of the bride: "If the man is the head, the woman is the neck; without the neck, the head won't turn."

What none of the conservative O&H'ers conveniently forget, or choose to omit in their hubris, is that first, it's fiction, a story, bogus, crap. Second, the off-screen Nelsons weren't as perfect as one would think, with Ricky's (later Rick) post-show music career descending from flame to fizzle, with rumors of cocaine abuse surfacing around the time of his death in a plane crash, David's currently fodder for "Where Are They Now?" shows. Ozzie admitted in his autobiography that he was an atheist. He was also extremely controlling, keeping his family under his thumb. And these same O&H'ers also skip over t.v.'s "My Three Sons," a single-parent household headed by Fred MacMurray, with help from his father-in-law (until actor William Frawley's death), followed by Uncle Charlie. A single man moves not one, but TWO single men into his house and can't find a wife to take care of his kids? Hmm...

It's all well and good to long for simpler days. God knows I'm tired of living in post-9/11 America, with civil liberties being rapidly crunched underfoot in the name of patriotism. And, I'm sick of being on the defensive every time "gay" hits the news. But it just isn't possible to turn back the clock. It's no accident that GWB's nominee for the Supreme Court, John Roberts, is shown with his perfectly blond wife, and perfectly blond kids (when was the last time you saw a little boy in short pants?), as we're sure that's what much of America wants to get back to. But it's not possible. As my brilliant wife says, you can't unlearn what you've already learned, and we've learned far too much to go back. Conservative Christians can't say they live by the Bible, and not work actively and openly to re-legalize slavery; they prefer to do it by using the law to strike down things like affirmative action. Or conveniently forget Paul's writing in the book of Romans that there is no male or female in Christ, and simultaneously chip away at Title IX provisions. Or cite Leviticus to demonize gays & lesbians while enjoying shrimp parmigiana.

No matter what we want, the clock can't be turned back. We can't undo anything, we can only try to improve or undo the damage done. And we need to work tirelessly to make sure the clock isn't turned back.