Saturday, July 2, 2011

It's a Small, Small State of Rhode Island

I wouldn't give you even this much for 
your new legislation.

Here's a misnomer for ya: Rhode Island.  It's not an island.  It's also not a Rhode, but I won't split hairs. 

Something else that's misleading is the idea that civil unions achieve some sort of parity to marriage.  They don't.  Neither legally nor metaphorically are these things the same.  Plus, there's no getting around the fact that popping the question, "Will you unionize with me?" lacks a lot in eloquence and sense.  Unless you're Norma Rae Webster.

This past week the governing body of Rhode Island passed legislation to permit same-sex civil unions, piggybacking onto the historic New York state passage of same-sex marriage.  There are so many reasons why this is just a ridiculously poor effort that is also badly timed.  Even Rhode Island's governor, Lincoln Chafee, knew he was on the wrong side of the civil rights highway.  He bashed the bill even as he signed it into law.

Here's my feeling: From now to eternity there's a line in the sand, on one side is marriage, on the other institutionalized bigotry.  And all the rest is just chin music by bloviating, prevaricating politicians and their lackeys.

The state legislators of the little (in all senses) Rhode Island can take their piece of unions sop and shove it up their asses.

See what I mean about misnomers.  We're really not that civil.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Why is Tracy Morgan doing this to me?

Raise your hands if you're a bigot.

Aargh.  The webosphere is all aflutter about Tracy Morgan's bitterly homophobic rant during a stand-up performance in Nashville.  People are outraged.  People are virulent.  This is fine, but let me explain something to you all: Mr. Morgan is not behaving badly in order to hurt you.  He's doing this to hurt me, personally.

A few years ago Mr. Morgan was caught up in similar scandal.  That is, acting like a tool about gay folks.  I had a dark night of the soul where I considered no longer watching 30 Rock - then my very favoritest show.  But then came the apology.  It seemed sincere.  Or maybe I just wanted it to seem sincere.  Because I got to keep watching my beloved show, without any heavy guilt weighing down on me.

But it's deja vu-time.  (What's that famous George W. Bush proverb?  About the fool who can't get fooled again?)  I can't be that foolish, can I?  Because I still love you 30 Rock.  Admittedly not as much as I love Community or The Good Wife, but still oodles and oodles.

I guess I could compartmentalize.  I could rationalize.  Like when you watch Triumph of the Will, and think it's okay to acknowledge that this is superlative filmmaking.  I'm just responding to the aesthetics, not the message or the meaning is what you say, you know, at parties.  But I don't really want to do that here.  Sitcoms should be fun and easy, not demanding.  I really shouldn't have to work to suppress feelings of rage or anger.  That's why I won't watch anything called Two and a Half Ann Coulters.

Tina Fey, I bought your book in hardcover (something I do so rarely - because I'm nearly out of shelf space).  So you know I support you, but...

Here comes the classic break-up line:  I want to tell you Liz, Jack, Jenna, Kenneth, Frank, Pete, and Danny - It's not you, it's Tracy.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Single Female Director

One is the loneliest number

One of the least involving or distinguished Oscar ceremonies in memory is over.  And everyone is rushing to point out what was so very bad about every aspect of it.  Some of it's deserved criticism, some just catty and pointless.

But I must take issue with Television Without Pity's condemnation of Hilary Swank's intro, highlighting the sex of last year's Best Director: "Really? We're still singling Kathryn Bigelow out for being a female director? What year is it, again, Oscars?"

I'll answer that.  It's just one short year after a female director finally won that award.  After 82(!) straight years of men winning the damn thing.  So, why mention it?  Maybe to prevent such a staggering drought from happening again.

Better yet, to prod this year's Academy voters toward the realization that Winter's Bone and The Kids Are All Right didn't direct themselves into Best Picture Nominees.  In fact, for my money (a paltry sum to be sure), Lisa Cholodenko should have won.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A big hole in the doughnut revolution

Here's something that bothers me: When the zeitgeisters decide there's a revolution happening all over the world, that's really occurring within about a three to four block radius.

Over the past couple months I've been reading articles and seeing reports about the gourmet doughnut industry that's sweeping the nation.  That's right, the whole big nation.  Provided every state except New York and California has recently seceded from the U.S.

Because, as per usual, if you want the scrumptious, handmade, locally sourced, free-range, touched-by-angels, lumps of organic lard pictured above, you're going to have to live in New York City or Los Angeles.  Otherwise, you'll be enjoying the same overly processed, husks of sugar and fat that are available at the corporate donut emporiums on every street corner.

And doughnuts are a stand-in for everything.  Not just food (but, really, the food is better - compare the baked goods at Bouchon Bakery to anywhere else).  But also, more significantly, prosperity.  Wall Street and the big banks have returned to their natural fiscally overabundant state, while teachers in Wisconsin and Indiana are staging the fights of their lives so the government can't railroad their unions.  Los Angeles and San Francisco housing prices have come back to record levels, while the rest of the country has seen housing dip again.  In December, home prices were at their lowest since before the recession began.

The hole most Americans find themselves in now stretches from sea to shining Nevada.  That's too big.

So here's my plan: Let's all move.  Big cities are designed to accommodate millions - so what's a couple hundred million more?  Yes, it will be messy.  There will be a culture clash to end all others.   Closet space will overnight become the new gold standard.  But it will prove a point - that we're all tired and crazy.  That trendwatching is not a real job.  That "we the people" are a damn lot of people.

At the very least it will put the fear of God into our corporate overlords at Dunkin' Donuts.

Charlie Sheen does not have cancer

Now that CBS is considering dumping their eternal problem child, it appears the "Save Charlie" campaigns are about to commence in earnest.  The first salvo being fired by his father, actor Martin Sheen.  He told Sky News of his undying support, saying "If he had cancer, how would we treat him? The disease of addiction is a form of cancer..."

I like Martin Sheen as an actor and a person.  I think it's only right that he stand by a son in crisis.  But I think comparing his troubles to the ones facing persons with cancer is just egregious bollocks.

People choose to take drugs.  No one has ever chosen to have cancer.  Moreover, if the addiction is too strong for an individual, there are many facilities that will train you to be better.  There is no rehab for cancer patients painfully dying from disease.  Therefore this is the falsest of equivalencies.

Memo to CBS:  I hear you're worried about whether the show can continue without Mr. Sheen.  Trust me, if his exploits so far and the fact that the program has become awful and unfunny, have not turned away viewers - well, this thing is pretty much bulletproof.

Maybe look into the availability of Liz Lemon's soul-mate.  He's funny, and you wouldn't have to change the name on the parking space.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Support David Wojnarowicz, Stop the Smithsonian

Dear reader(s),

When I was in high school, I knew I was gay and never breathed a word of it.  Back then the motto of AIDS activists was "Silence = Death."  It could have wound up being my epitaph.  Because, during my moratorium of gay expression, I found myself growing ever more isolated and depressed.  I entertained thoughts of suicide.  One day while looking through an art exhibition article I discovered the image and text reproduced above: a work by David Wojnarowicz.

It changed my world.

The dark vacuum of my experience burst into a litter of stars.  All these points of sunlight that linked me to persons and ideas that came before, a constellation of freedoms denied and desired.  I knew I was not going to extinguish myself, because that was not the correct answer to any of the questionable punishments the world might try to inflict on me.  It's all made clear in Mr. Wojnarowicz's text, and I knew it was true in the heart inside my head.

After that I found Mr. Wojnarowicz's memoir, Close to the Knives.  Perhaps the most significant book I've ever read.  You will search and search for something as shimmeringly beautiful, heartbreakingly honest, and vigorously pitiless--and likely come up empty.  Everyone should read it.  In my opinion, everyone on planet Earth should read it.

When I found out that the Smithsonian was pulling the David Wojnarowicz work "A Fire in My Belly" from the National Portrait Gallery's landmark Hide/Seek exhibition, my heart sank.  Because it was possible that someone who needed very badly to learn from Mr. Wojnarowicz would not have that opportunity.  They would be stymied by uninformed Republican leaders and bigoted religious leaders, now, when a message of hope is ardently necessary for gay (and straight) youth.

If you can do something, please do it.  If you can help someone, help them now.  Don't follow the shameful example of the Smithsonian directors and detractors.  Censorship has never helped a single person in history.  But people die from what can't be found in sight every day.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Don't Call It a Closet

One thing that happened during the depression of the 1930's was that entertainments (films, plays, etc...) became more and more lavish.  The thinking being that people wanted to visit worlds that lifted them out of their burdensome existence and placed them someplace grand and rarefied--financial security being so very rare.  It was a sound principal, and many of these flicks made a profit because of it.

However, the unrich patrons were not being duped by anyone.  If you read some news-clippings from that period, the ticket-buyers were well aware of the placebo effect of a few hours spent admiring mansions bedecked with women in festive ball-gowns, all wondering how to get Cary Grant to kiss them before the big fade out.

Our own Great Recession has been a whole lot less egalitarian.  There are no cleverly crafted distractions, no attempts to massage the knotted minds of those who are struggling.  Of course, without a prevailing studio system that really can't happen now.  Instead, what has cropped up is a newfound favoring of the Arts & Leisure & Design & High Fashion crowd as entertainment.

There's just one problem: It's disgusting.

Because these endless articles and shows and websites seem to exist solely to delineate the impenetrable line between the having much and the having little.  And those persons connected to the super-wealthy (who may or may not be such themselves) don't want to be thought of as aspirational, merely exclusive.

Take a recent Home and Garden article in the NYTimes.  A woman who is known for her exclusive and expensive home-cleaning service is supposedly having her apartment profiled by the paper of record.  But instead of descriptions of her wainscoting, we get a description of the intensely comprehensive method her cleaners use for her famous clients.  She mentions how her people will actually take apart cabinets and dressers, simply to clean the runners.  This is nuts.  But she defends her insanity, saying some people have specially designed closets by, for example, Linda London, and these can cost as much as $20,000.

So far, so wasteful: but here's where it gets better.  Someone from the Times must have contacted Ms. London about her services being mentioned.  And she insisted on correcting these erroneous statements.  She does not design closets, but "dressing rooms."  Moreover, the cost for these rooms is typically far above $20,000.

Apparently the suggestion that she would create a storage space for only twenty grand would give the impression that she works for paupers.  I think the oxygen must be pretty thin way up on Ms. London's high horse, if she thinks such comments are appropriate in this economic climate.  Or, truly, anytime ever.

But her attitude is indicative of a whole culture gone flooey.  You're either a someone who's worried about the possible posting of an eviction notice, or someone whose fiefdom might as well be littered with signs that read, "No peasants allowed."  Certainly not in the dressing room.