Thursday, August 26, 2010

We Can Be Heroes.

The interwebs and the gay blogoshpere are aflutter with the recent announcement from Ken Mehlman that he is gay. This came as no surprise to those in the elite social/political circles in Washington DC. Mehlman who was the campaign manager during Bush version 2's reelection run oversaw some of the most homophobic, anti-gay campaigns--specifically getting 11 states to pass anti-gay and anti gay marriage amendments. He also was a key supporter of everyone's favorite homophobe Mr. Rick Santorum.

In recent interviews Mr. Mehlman claims that he was only one person in the Republican party and he could not change what was going on because he wasn't comfortable with who he was. His exact words, "As I’ve said, one thing I regret a lot is the fact that I wasn’t in the position I am today where I was comfortable with this part of my life, where I was able to be an advocate against that [strategy] and able to be someone who argued against it. I can’t change that – it is something I wish I could and I can only try to be helpful in the future." As a practicing Buddhist, I am all about forgiveness and I hope Mr. Mehlman has a happy, 'comfortable' life living in the posh Chelsea area of NYC. I hope he will make amends for the carnage he unleashed upon millions in the LGBT community.

What concerns me about this whole ordeal is that some gay folks will call Mehlman a 'hero' for coming out so publicly--I am referring to the Log Cabin republicans and 'gay patriots.' Evidently Mehlman gets a free pass from these groups since he's still a Republican. But I digress. In a few years the gay community will all but forget what Mehlman did because he will pull out his Rolodex and get some of his rich friends to fund another insipid HRC event or sponsor a log cabin republican gala. Ta, Da! Hero status achieved! Throw money at any problem or give money to an LGBT organization and all is forgiven. But not so fast--before we give Ken his cape I have a name we should consider: Lawrence King. Do you remember him?

Lawrence was a 15 year old gay boy who was shot twice in the head by one of his fellow class mates. He died two days later after he was taken off life support. The story in itself is tragic as King came from a broken home and was constantly bullied in school for being effeminate and flamboyant. King had the balls to embrace who he was and come to school everyday were he was being beat and taunted by his peers--he was fearless.

Unfortunately King's bravery cost him his life; but for those short 15 years he lived them with honesty and integrity--now that is what I call a HERO. We should remember people like Lawrence King, Charlie Howard, Rebecca Wight, Brandon Teena and Andrew Anthos who died for having the courage to live their life openly and with honor.

So before we start calling Ken Mehlman a hero, let's not forget those who walked the walk and didn't have the luxury to hide behind their political ideology for hear of being 'found out.' As I said before, I wish Ken all the luck in the world, but I believe he has a long way to go before he reaches hero status.

House Cleaning.

Yes, I have been away for a while. Time for me to clean the cob webs off my blog and start taking names and kicking some ass. More to come.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Make it Go Away! Or Why I Don't Like Auto-Tune.

I love music, really I do. I am a child of the 80s and I love the fact that most artists from the 80s were willing to try anything different. Hence, most of the artists from the 80s [Prince, Elvis Costello, Simple Minds, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Pet Shop Boys and early hip-hop] had a distinct sound. While some say most of the 80s music was 'over-produced'--a term I think does a disservice to the era, I will say that many of the artists weren't willing to sound like each other and tried to make a sound that was there own. I believe the artists from this era have not discovered that sense of musical experimentation.

Case in point, the artist [I'm using that term lightly] Ke$ha professes she doesn't use auto-tune. But as I was listening to her sing in the video Blah, Blah, Blah it sound like yes, she does use auto-tune and other studio wizardry to enhance her vocals. But she's not the only one who uses auto-tune; Little Wayne, TI, Miley Cyrus, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Cher, Drake and countless others have used this tool. Now, I don't mind if an artist uses a studio gimmick to create a certain sound, but when several artists start to use the same trick, well, it gets tiresome. Top 40 radio is filled with songs that have artists vocal tracks laced with the infamous studio trick--it's as if all the songs were sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks--and that's not a good thing.

The music industry has taken so many hits in the past decade I guess the big wigs figure if they can make music with a gimmick, people will buy it. Unfortunately,  we now have music that is boring, bland and doesn't challenge the listener. While I blame the record execs for this trickery and wanting to make a quick buck, I also have to call out the 'artists' who are too lazy to challenge their fan-base and themselves to grow and try something new. I don't like auto-tune because it's the easy way out for making a hit record and it has become the fall-back production tool for enhancing vocals.

I'd like to see some like Ke$ha scrap the whole auto-tune trickery and do something brave. Hey, maybe her next CD will be in the same vein as ABC's "Beauty Stab." Somehow I doubt she's willing to take that bold step and grow as an artist and challenge her listeners like Martin Fry did--but I could be wrong. Only time will tell.

Monday, May 10, 2010

In a World Full of "Amazing" Singers, We Really Lost One This Time.

Lena Horne was a class act. When people talk about 'amazing' singers they are usually referring to those who prance around a stage with rhythm track and lots of dubbed vocals. Ms. Horne represented a class of singer that we no longer see--one who has the ability to render any song into something beautiful and otherworldly. Lena you can now sing with your fellow songbirds; Ella, Billie, Dinah, Nina, Blossom, and Minnie. Thanks for your fantastic contribution to American culture! You will be missed. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lies the Governor Told Me.

It seems that Gov. Chris Christie has wasted no time in doing what he promised those who voted for him--that is to really screw up the state of New Jersey. Now he's ousting the only black justice and nominating a lawyer with long experience in private practice [meaning a corporatist lawyer]. While I am no fan of John E. Wallace, he was the only black justice on the supreme court of NJ. 

This does not look good for minorities of NJ. I suspect that Christie is trying to reshape the court so that it will side with corporations and his political views rather than handing out justice and protecting those who need it the most. 
Another thing: What happened to 'everyone' sacrificing to fix the skyrocketing deficit? IT seems that those who make over 400K a year will be getting tax cuts, while those who miss the mark will pay dearly

To those who voted for him and are feeling the effects of his callous cuts in education and social services, I don't feel sorry for you--You Deserve the Government You Voted For. For those who didn't I hope you can ride out the disasters that are to come for the next few years. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Watching Reality Shows is No Way to Get Over the Winter Blahs

It's been a while since I did a blog post. I want to thank all of my loyal fans [all three of them] for not throwing in the towel and giving up on me. I must say, this winter was awful and I think all the snow made me want to just hide under the covers and sleep. Not to mention the fact that cold weather makes me lazy.

While I was luxuriating in my home, I took the time to watch some television--to be specific, I watched reality television. I must say that many of these show are a cheap way for TV studios to get money and fill their programming slots. But on a deeper level, a lot of these shows are an exercise in human misery. I think the most disturbing show I watched was Hoarding: Buried Alive. I can tell you that some of these folks who are hoarders are truly tortured souls. I mean it's one thing to be a collector, but it's an entirely different ball of wax when a person has pizza boxes, diapers, scraps of paper and trash piled to the top of the ceilings in their home. There was one woman who was in danger of having her house condemned by the public health authority because she had so much trash in her house it became unsuitable to live there. I think only in America where we have so much stuff that it literally can be dangerous to have 'too much'. Which brings me to my next reality show.

I watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution last night and I must say I was horrified at what I saw. The premise is simple; Oliver goes to Huntington, West Virginia to get the people there to change their unhealthy eating habits. The town received the infamous claim as being the most unhealthy town in America. The opening shot shows the children of Huntington eating the school 'breakfast'--which happened to be sugary cereals and pizza.Oliver was gob-smacked at what he saw and things only got worse when it was time for lunch. Let's just say, the way the lunch cooks made mashed potatoes was not appetizing or very nutritious.

This episode primarily dealt with Oliver fighting the school bureaucracy, lunch cooks, and a rather surly radio host who didn't want to eat 'salads' all the time. The irony in all of this was that as I watching Oliver try to get the people in Hamilton to make better food choices, the health care bill passed. So now we have a bill that will ensure all who need health insurance no matter what. While I think this is fantastic and KUDOS to President Obama--I'm worried what this will do for our culture. I mean, here is Oliver telling people that their decision to eat crappy food will make the sick and more than likely shorten their life, but they aren't listening. They want to have pizza for breakfast, fast food for lunch, and eat lots of sugary, fatty foods. To be succinct, in their view, more is better no matter what the consequences.

So now when these people get sick [and they will believe me] they can tap into the free healthcare provided by the government. Which leads me to the question: Should we hold these people accountable for their actions? For the most part they knowingly contributed to their plight and chose to ignore the facts that diets high in meat, fat and processed sugars will eventually kill you. Wouldn't our health care system be more efficient if we taught moderation in our eating habits? Yes, I know I may be a bit simplistic in my approach, but sometimes I think the simplest solutions work best. In this case more in NOT better.

I wish Jamie Oliver the best of luck because he has an uphill battle in changing how the people in Hamilton, WV think about food and how eating crappy processed food can negatively effect their health.

As a side note, I don't want to come off as some blow-hard food snob in the post. I love junk food, but I do not eat it on a daily basis and I also tend to make most of my meals myself. There--I'm off my high horse.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Death of a Genius.

I was saddened to hear that Alexander McQueen died today. While I must say that his clothes were always out of my price range [even when they were drastically discounted] they were nothing short of innovation and pure genius. I saw pictures of his last runway show in the fall of 2009 and they were astounding and surreal. Yes, he was one of those designers that made 'art that you wear', but he was always willing to not play it safe. His design aesthetic reminds me of Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto.

The fashion world has lost a true visionary and I don't think I will ever see someone like McQueen in my lifetime. I hope he is now at peace.

[Shout out: The Emperor's Old Clothes]

Sunday, February 7, 2010

An Old High School Trick.

While being 'grilled' at the tea-bagger's convention, Sarah Palin uses a cheat sheet! Her own hand! Talk about old high school antics! This from a woman who teased Obama for using a teleprompter!

[Shout out: Andrew Sullivan]

Saturday, February 6, 2010

What the 'Tea Bagger' Party is Really About.

Racism. I'm sorry, I just don't get this 'movement'. I really think it's just a bunch of white people who are afraid of a black president.

[Shout out: the raw story]

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hurry Up February 9!

I have been following the band Massive Attack ever since I heard "Unfinished Sympathy" at a party in 1991. Blue Lines, Achtung Baby and Nevermind were in my CD player for months on end--they provided the soundtrack to my life that year. While Nirvana fell apart and U2 have disappointed me with some of their releases, Massive Attack always seemed to hit the mark for me. Their musical style has a sound all its own and leaves me wanting more;  which is a good thing. 

Next week Massive Attack will release their latest effort entitled Heligoland. Needless to say, I am counting down the days until February 9! So far the reviews have been favorable, but I honestly don't care what the reviewers say. This is one band that produces carefully, thought-out other words ART. They don't have  flashy videos, gimmicks or tons of hype behind them, just talent and the willingness to take chances. 

As a bonus for February 9, Hot Chip and Sade are releasing new CDs as well. I know where I'm going to be spending my money next wee!. If I'm feeling ambitious, I may even write a review of the CDs I purchase. 

Know Your Math!

Just in case you encounter a dimwit who believes that homosexuals molest children, drop this little piece of science on them!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Three Words for Today.

Flat . Screen. Television! 

I may never leave the house now!

Cry Me a River

Now that Coco is off the air [sadness], Jay Leno went on the Oprah show to talk about how he and the NBC execs shafted Conan. No sorry, let me get that straight--he was on Oprah crying how he has been vilified in this debacle. To quote el Leno "It all comes down to numbers in show business."

Really? I wonder if that would have been your sentiment say when you took over from Johnny Carson. Remember, your ratings weren't great? Wouldn't it have been funny if the NBC execs said, "Sorry Jay, but your ratings are in the tank and we gotta let you go. It all comes down to numbers in show business. See ya!" Conan wasn't given a real chance to succeed or fail. Just remember that when you come back to the Tonight Show in March--don't expect your ratings to be back for a while, either...David Letterman has stolen your thunder. 

To quote my friend Mrs. J., "When he first announced Conan would take over 6 years ago or so, he was all, "I wish him the best, I want nothing to do with it." Suddenly it comes time for him to leave and he's like "Waaaah, let me have the 10 o'clock hour!" and screws up Law & Order among other good shows, and that gets terrible ratings, and he's like,"Well I'm not leaving until you give me the Tonight Show back." Now Conan is out on his ass and as far as I am concerned Jay Leno is the biggest asshole in Hollywood (reminder: Mel Gibson is in Hollywood) and he's not even funny. Well said Mrs. J., well said. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Surprise! Kids Will Turn Out OK If They Are Raised by Gay Parents.

This just in! Kids raised by gay parents are better off than being raised by a single parent.. This is great news especially in light of what's going on in California right now. In the current issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, it states that, "it's ideal if a child is raised by two parents who are "responsible, committed, stable," but that the gender doesn't cause radical differences. [More here]

However, I must say that being raised by a single parent, my mom did one heck of a job. So, I have to give props to my mom! And to all those kids out there who were raised by a single parent--you have them to thank for your success!

The Future is HERE!

Today Apple unveiled its new toy the iPad [you think they could have come up with a better name, but go figure]. I have been reading all the speculation and hype about this gizmo with calm reserve. However, when I saw the pictures of it today, I must say that it is a work of art and will probably be the demise of the NOOK and the KINDLE.

I immediately thought of how I could get my hands on some cash to buy one, but then I stopped. Why? Sure, I am a self-professed gadget-boy. I love my i-Pod, my Zune, and my laptop. But as I thought about it, the iPad is nifty, but what purpose will it serve in my life? I don't like e-readers [as politically incorrect as that may sound] and if I want to surf the internet with a light portable device, I'd rather take my 500 dollars and spend it on a decent notebook. So no, I will not be drinking the Apple kool-aid this time. Now I just have to find some other shiny object to pique my interest.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rest in Peace, Teddy.

I was shocked and saddened to discover that R&B legend Teddy Pendergrass passed away yesterday. I can still remember when my mother would play his records when I was a kid. His sexy baritone and smooth lyrics were hard to resist! "Turn off the Lights", "Close the Door", and "Come Go With Me" were definite baby-makin' songs! Philadelphia lost another fantastic singer, but his legacy still lives on. I'll miss you Teddy. Thanks for making music for us grown and sexy folks!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Crazy Ass Religious Leaders...I Mean Lunatics.

I'm sitting here reading my afternoon updates of the Huffington Post and stumbled across this wonderful gem. It seems Mr. Robertson believes that the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti yesterday was the result of the people of Haiti making a pact with the devil so they wouldn't be under French rule. Seriously? Is this for real? But I guess I shouldn't be surprised as this was the same moron that blamed 9/11 on homosexuals and abortionists. How's that for being a good "Christian?"

For something even more absurd, the Pope has decided to criticize the movie "Avatar." According to the Prada-wearing-Pope, the movie is, "flirting with the idea that worship of nature can replace religion." If only, Miss Thing! How about this; instead of you making comments about some action flick, how about you turn your introspection back on to your religion and look at some of it's flaws. Not so pretty, huh? So do me a favor and let Mr. Cameron stick to making action movies and you can continue to preach your arcane relgious doctrine. Thanks!

Go Team Conan!

When I heard that Jay Leno was stepping down from the "Tonight Show" last year, I was elated. I never found him to be funny and his jokes are for a lack of a better term--awful. So, imagine my surprise when NBC announced they are giving Leno his own show at 10:00. I felt betrayed by NBC because by moving Leno 10:00 all of NBC's dramas would air an hour earlier. Now I am a huge Law and Order fan and having that show moved messes up my entire TV schedule. Thanks, NBC.

Well, that calculated move by NBC and the one who doesn't want to retire [Leno] backfired and caused the company millions in lost ad revenue as most people didn't tune into see Leno deliver the same tired shtick. So, what do Leno and NBC do? Move Leno back to the 11:30 spot. Aw Hell No! Sorry Jay, but you had your time in the sun--move on and let the younger, more talented comedian shine. Conan deserves his chance to be in the 11:30 spot. Not to mention that if this does go through, Jimmy Fallon won't be on until 1:00. So how about you show show a little grace and move quietly out of the limelight?. Remember Johnny Carson? He was class all the way. Maybe you should take this as your cue to get out of television for a while. Learn from your elders and use the time to shine all those cars you purchased! As for the bean counters at NBC, please heed what Conan said and give the man a chance to succeed.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Music, Makes the People Come Together.

With 2009 a done deal and all sorts of publications proclaiming what were the best music releases in 2009, I decided to give my two cents about what's worthy of praise. To be honest, I cannot say that I am impressed with what is called art these days. Case in point: While I appreciate Beyonce and all her bootyliciousness, I don't see her as an artist. While she knows how to shake her thing and lip-sync with the best of the prefabricated 'divas', she really shouldn't be called an artist. [Sorry, Beyonce.] I think people like Jill ScottMinnie Ripperton, Joni Mitchell, or Bruce Springsteen are artists. They write their material and know how to sing. More importantly they know that true art isn't about bling and hype, but more about writing good songs and creating music that is timeless. In today's world of Top 40 and American Idol, it's all about artifice, flashy videos, controversy, dance moves but nothing else. I keep waiting for the next music zeitgeist a la NIRVANA, but I have a feeling I won't see that happen again.

However, I was pleasantly surprised that most of my favorite artists released CDs in 2009. For me it was an embarrassment of riches and I hadn't see such a bounty of great music since the 80s. So, in my humble opinion here are my top 20 CDs from 2009. Rolling Store eat your heart out!

20. Zero 7: Yeah Ghosts: I must admit, I was saddened that this duo decided to take a different approach to their sound. But I do give them props for trying something new.

19. Verve: Forth

18. Lily Allen: It's Not Me, It's You

17. Q-Tip: Kamaal The Abstract. Finally this one saw the light of day and it was worth the seven year wait!

16.Weezer: Rattitude

15. Skye: Keeping Secrets

14. Bad Lieutenant: Never Cry Another Tear

13. Dangermouse and Sparklehorse: Dark Night of the Soul. This is the best CD that was never released.

12. Peter, Bjorn and John: Living Thing

11. RES: BlackGirlsRock: Another CD that was never released. Fortunately, you can get it here.

10. Bob Mould: Life and Times. Bob Mould just keeps getting better as he gets older!

9. Basement Jaxx: Scars

8. Massive Attack: Splitting the Atom EP. OK, so it's not a full length CD, but I had to put it on here since they take forever to release new material.

7. Green Day: 21st Century Breakdown

6. Mos Def: The Ecstatic

5. Friendly Fires: Friendly Fires [Re-release] This is the best new wave/ dance music since Duran Duran's Rio

4. Depeche Mode: Sounds of the Universe. DM use old synths, but never sacrifice song craft and pop hooks with this release. I will go on record by saying DM are our generations' Beatles! Nuff Said!

3. Pet Shop Boys: Yes. Another stunning effort from Neil and Chris. I dare you not to dance to All Over the World!

2. Doves: Kingdom of Rust. I never got tired of listening to this CD. As a matter of fact, the more I listened to it, the more I fell in love with it. I got a chance to see Doves perform live and it was one of the best concerts I have seen in a while.

1. Maxwell: BlackSummer'sNight. This is the real deal! As Michael Baisden would say, "This is music for the grown and sexy folks." Indeed, BlackSummer'sNight has it all, slow jams, deep grooves, sexy lyrics and Maxwell's lovely falsetto. Though it may have taken eight years for him to release BlackSummer'sNight, it was well worth the wait. 

Looking forward, the first quarter in 2010 seems promising with artists such as Hot Chip, Massive Attack, Corrine Bailey Rae and Sade releasing new CDs. I look forward to spending my hard earned cash on these artists and hopefully I'll be able to do another top 20 for 2010!