Monday, June 29, 2009
You’ve probably never heard of it. And even if you have odds are it’s because of recent token media coverage now that Obama has decreed June to be Pride Month, and for a month people act like they care about the homos. But if you haven’t heard of it, don’t feel bad. I didn’t know what the hell a Stonewall Inn was until about a year ago when I happened to come across it on Wikipedia while combing through articles, following one link to another. Nobody told me about it in school, my mother never brought it up despite being a child of the age, you get the idea. I knew who Stonewall Jackson was, but I doubted and still doubt his name bears any relation to the place in New York City.
To make a long and complicated story short and neat in the interest of time and space, the Stonewall Inn was, 40 years ago yesterday, the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and much of the world. New York’s Finest had taken to raiding gay bars under the auspices of enforcing the law, but the queerbaits at the Stonewall unexpectedly showed some resistance. The NYPD quickly lost control of the situation, and for five days a community shouted out their collective window and proclaimed they were mad as hell and they weren’t going to take it anymore (seven years too early I know, but the line fits perfectly). Exactly a year after the riots on Christopher Street the community held the world’s first gay pride parade, marching from the Stonewall Inn to Central Park.
Now, four decades removed from the riots where do we find ourselves? Everything those couple hundred pissed off queens could never have even dreamed of, for one. For a civil rights movement that started such a short time ago, the gay community has made truly remarkable progress. Prior to 1969, coming out anywhere was a formal request to be disowned by your parents and/or fired by your employer. While “the heartland”, Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, and huge swaths of Asia still have a long way to go, at least there are places on this planet where gay people can be somewhat accepted by other people and where the wandering can find refuge.
The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, South Africa, and Canada are currently the only five countries on the planet where same-sex marriage is legalized without restriction. The marriage debate is an easy one nowadays to coalesce the whole gay rights movement into. It happens every day. And while the right to marry is certainly a very important one it would be irresponsible to assume the marriage issue is the only stain left unwashed.
In Ohio, I can be fired from my job effective immediately if my employer decides she doesn’t like queers. In Florida, if my landlord feels the same way he can kick me out of my house for no other reason than that. In Jamaica I can be beaten and harassed by police officers. Half a world away, I can be tortured, mutilated, raped, hunted and killed–legally or otherwise–for daring to be myself. But no LGBT person anywhere is immune from rejection by so-called friends and family. Old habits die hard, and it’s easy to say you accept gay people before your son or daughter, or even spouse comes out to you. Several people I know learned that the hard way, and it’s something I am legitimately afraid to face. I don’t know if people are born gay or not, but I can say with absolute certainty that it is not a conscious choice.
It’s always amazing how much things change and how much they can manage to stay exactly the same. Our current president promised to be a “fierce advocate” of LGBT rights. He promised to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, opening the doors for the United States to eventually become #6 on the previously mentioned list. Infamously, he has taken no action against DADT and his administration defended DOMA in court using the Bryantesque comparison of homosexuals to pedophiles. Simultaneously, he declares June to officially be Pride Month as if that’s supposed to make amends. The notion of a homophobic federal government sanctioning “Pride Month” reeks of the tokenism of Black History Month immersed in White History Year. And it’s disgusting.
Bob Dylan once asked a world, “How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?” Like the black civil rights movement, and like the process of coming out for every LGBT person, there is no definite end but death. So long as there are gay people and straight people, institutionalized discrimination will always be something to struggle against. The point of the gay rights movement is not to reach some sunshiney, saccharine promised land. The point is to be free to live and love as we see fit. It’s that simple. A freedom to be yourself is not just an American right, it’s a human right. If a handful of broke, homeless, slightly drunk queers can stand up on a lonely New York night and spark a cultural movement, imagine what millions can do.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Billy Mays, infomercial and internet royalty, has died. He was 50.
If America were a bearded middle aged white man with a loud, obnoxious voice commanding your attention and trying to get you to buy something (who are we kidding, that is America), then Billy Mays was the majestic eagle soaring over the suburban mega-mall and crapping on the BMW’s in the parking lot. And with that precious eagle now extinct, all we have is Vince the garden variety ShamWow pigeon. There can be only one Billy Mays.
In addiction to being an infomercial personality, Billy was an internet (read:4chan) icon. Fox News, the it-getters that they are, clearly understand this as they cast aside yet another South American military coup to devote Sunday’s headlines to the one and only Billy Mays–and in all caps too; he would have approved. Fox’s storied relationship with 4chan, tracing back to hackers on steroids and corruptions of “lol”, is one of but a few support mechanisms the internet community has in troubled times like these. Now who will yell at us through the television and computer screens? Where will the internet get its infolols from now? Today the internet weeps, for it has lost one of its few heroes.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to buy some Mighty Putty. To mend my soul.
Friday, June 26, 2009
All I can really say is poor Ed McMahon and poorer Farrah Fawcett. This was supposed to be their week of mourning, and in comes the King of Pop to Bogart his way into the dead celebrity scene and steal all of their thunder. McMahon was just as recognizable as Johnny Carson and Fawcett was not only a 70’s pop culture icon but she died the one of the worst ways someone can die, at the hands of a rare and highly lethal cancer. I didn’t even follow her slow descent into death but seeing the occasional video of her in her dilapidated state was incredibly saddening. I suppose you could make the same argument about Jackson’s public character and facial features, but living with someone in a similar state as Farrah, I can tell you it’s just not the same.
At any rate like, like it did in life, in death the name “Michael Jackson” cannot be treated with moderation by the mainstream media, and by extension most people. Anyone who has a facebook account can tell you about the flood of “RIP MJ” statuses, and the occasional stray mention of Fawcett or McMahon. One of them even called Thursday “The Day The Music Died”, an allusion to (for those of you who don’t know) the 1959 plane crash that killed Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson (known as The Big Boppper), and Buddy Holly; three young rock and roll musicians who only enjoyed a year or so of fame before their deaths.
To me though, the loss of potential is what earned that 1959 day its moniker. Holly et al. had already become somewhat famous, yes, but they did not have full musical careers to their names by the time of their deaths. Rather than being able to fully flesh out their talent though, their influence lives on in the works of pretty much any guitar player/group that got their start in the late 50’s and early 60’s. had the three of them survived the crash, rock history as we know it would be a lot different. Contrast this with the life and death of Michael Jackson, who had been performing for 40 of his 50 years on this planet. Jackson already had a critically acclaimed and incredibly successful career under his belt, one that effectively ended in the 1990’s. Michael had already explored his wealth of creative genius, if not fully then certainly moreso than Buddy Holly ever had a chance to do. Yesterday a great talent was lost, yes, but not much unfulfilled potential.
I was talking to Omar over MSN this afternoon when he said to me that, in regards to solo acts, there are three giants in western popular music: Sinatra, Elvis, and Michael. While you could argue for having more names among that holy trinity, there’s no disputing that at least those three definitely belong there. And in terms of appreciating the man’s talent for crafting incredible pop songs and putting on equally impressive shows, his freaky nose, Jesus Juice cans, and possible sex with underage boys is irrelevant. I can’t really call myself a Michael Jackson fan but also as Omar said, for millions he was and is a generational phenomenon. Someone that’s it’s difficult to imagine life without, in one form or another.
Monday, June 22, 2009
The RIAA is an organization ‘representing the interests of record labels’, or perhaps more accurately, representing the interests of Universal, Sony, Warner Music, and EMI since they’re the only ones with any money. And they certainly have a lot of it–it’s estimated that together the big four own the distribution rights to about 70% of music. So depending on how you look at it, it’s understandable or absolutely puzzling as to why the RIAA goes after illegal downloaders with such a fervent passion. It’s not about the artists, it’s about the corporate bottom line–and that’s even if illegal downloading actually hurts legitimate music sales.
Pardon the socialistic venom, but the corporate brutality of the RIAA is evident in the case of Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a single mother and Native American reservation employee who is to date the only individual to be successfully sued in US courts over matters like these. She was found guilty of willfully violating the copyrights on 24 songs owned by the plaintiffs (Capitol Records, owned by EMI) and fined $80,000 per song–a total of $1.92 million.
So what was the point of this lawsuit, you ask? I can tell you it’s not to make up for lost profits; “they can’t take money I don’t have” contends Thomas-Rasset, and even the full 1800 songs she downloaded aren’t worth $2 million. Setting an example? Of the tens of millions of filesharers nationwide (and countless more worldwide), only about 20,000 have ever been threatened with legal action. And all but 19,999 were settled out of court or never went to trial. You’re more likely to win the lottery. Like anything free and beneficial to the user, illegal filesharing is here to stay. But as they don’t like to publicize, the vast majority of music listeners actually buy their tunes legitimately. The record industry needs to find ways to preserve this status quo, ways that don’t involve mercilessly suing single mothers into bankruptcy. Somehow, I’m not sold on Don’t Copy That Floppy 2 being much of a success.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Genital hygiene is important. Of course you should really try to keep everything clean, but some things take priority over others. There are three things I always make sure are clean–my face, my hands, and my junk (why do we call it junk? It’s certainly not useless). The asshole is important too because you never know what’ll happen, and if someone catches a whiff of White Castle while they’re down there you’ve got a problem. In short, cleanliness is key. And when I see people who neglect to clean themselves while having the means to do so, I shake my head a little bit inside. Take for example Miss Barbara Boxer, Democratic Senator from the so-called great state of California.
Interrupting a Brigadier General mid-sentence to passive-aggressively tell him that his addressing you as “ma’am” (that’s military protocol, by the way) is unsatisfactory, when you could have easily requested to be called Senator before the hearing started, is a prime (albeit subtle) case of poor hygiene. Perhaps because it hasn’t seen much activity in her later years, Senator Boxer’s vagina must be nearly hopelessly caked with sand. Senator, if you need a spoon or something to help you scrape all those years of sand out, my email is in my profile.
There are times, however, when hygienic concerns go too far. Enter the Comfort Wipe. Billed as the first improvement to toilet paper since the 1880’s, the Comfort Wipe is no ordinary bathroom accessory. Not only does it protect against the Bolshevik onslaught against your lavatory, but it provides that extra reach you sometimes need when taking care of business. After 130 years of waiting, toilet paper on a stick has finally come to the United States of America. “The Comfort Wipe allows you to maintain your dignity while you maintain your personal hygiene,” claims the advertisement’s sort-of-British saleswoman. Maybe they do things differently in the UK but my mother always told me that anything on a stick is undignified by definition. And clean? I think something can be said about someone that embraces rubbing a plastic stick on their muddy crack as hygienic. They’re probably the same kind of person that lets sand mummify their genitals.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
You know them. They’re everywhere. Invading our homes, eating our food, spreading disease with their every footstep. They’re nothing but a nuisance and yet there are far too many of them to do anything constructively destructive about the problem. I am talking of course, about the common house fly. Emphasis on “common”. Because you see, for normal people it’s no big deal when we kill a fly. It’s just a fly, there’s billions–if not trillions–of them on the planet and ending their simple existence is as simple as crushing the pea-sized things. At most you can be a little impressed with yourself if you catch one in the air with a smack of your palms, but that’s really about it.
Which is why I find myself genuinely confused and more than a bit disappointed with the small media circus over Barack Obama’s latest antics. In case you didn’t hear he was conducting an interview, and mid-sentence he stopped to start tracking a fly buzzing around the area, killed it, and then continued answering the question. If I saw it live I’d think “oh, that was cool” but I really don’t care nearly enough to merit it being on the news. The only place I’d expect that to be reproduced is on The Soup or The Daily Show, shows like those. But apparently news anchors are idiots and love talking about it. Bill Maher summed up everything nicely; “I don t want my president to be a TV star…[Obama’s] getting a puppy! He’s eating a cheeseburger with Joe Biden! He s taking the wife to Broadway and Paris–this is the best season of ‘The Bachelor’ yet!”
And if that weren’t enough to make you rage, PETA has taken exception to Obama doing what hundreds of millions of people worldwide do daily. Apparently flies are people too and their lives are precious, going so far as to call the ‘incident’ (if it can even be called that) the “executive insect execution”. Yes, execution. Commenting on the President’s inhumanity, a PETA blog said “In a nutshell, our position is this: He isn’t the Buddha, he’s a human being, and human beings have a long way to go before they think before they act.” Funny, I seem to recall from my 11th grade history class that Siddh rtha Gautama (better known as Buddha) never claimed to be a God, a son of God, a messenger of God, or even a casual acquaintance of any sort of deity. He was but a human, like you and me and Barack Obama. Idiots.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I often wish I had a flair for making up things on the spot. Stories, paintings, games, but usually words. I like writing quite a bit and I look at the proficiencies other people have in making up words, even nonsense words, and I think “why can’t I do that?” To throw salt in the gunshot wound, their words always seem to make some sort of charming sense despite the fact that they make no sense. Take the hook of #9 Dream: “Ah! B wakawa, Pouss , Pouss !” While I know it’s unfair to myself to compare my wordsmithing abilities to those of a genius, and pouss is an actual French word, the phrase as a whole means absolutely nothing. And yet it flows so beautifully and gracefully. It came to Lennon in a dream; even while he’s asleep he’s more creative than I could ever imagine (ha) being!
Speaking of dreams, for the past two months or so I’ve had a steady stream of remembering them I dont retain them for a long time like I would the memory of a good night out or something, but they stay with me well into the day. It might have something to do with the reefer which I picked up around April but didn’t experience to the fullest until mid-May or so. I heard one person somewhere say mary jane kills your dreaming habits, but that was just one person on 4chan so odds are if they weren’t trolling they have no idea what the hell they’re talking about. At any rate, I enjoy remembering my dreams if only for a few hours. If Lennon can craft a masterpiece in his sleep, maybe I should dedicate more of my thus far lazy summer to slumbering. But then again, what about this post? I sat down and started typing, not a subject in mind, and this is what came out. It’s coherent, it flows, not necessarily gracefully but whatever. I must be some kind of smart, right?
Monday, June 15, 2009
Judging from CNN’s homepage this evening you’d think a revolution was imminent in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Yes, Ahmadinejad more likely than not stole the election from his major challenger and yes, these are easily the largest protests in Iran since the 1979 revolution. And for good reason; the Iranian people are led to believe they live in a republic with certain democratic rights. Even though all their presidential candidates are chosen by the country’s religious leaders (or so I hear), they still have a right to pick amongst the pre-selected. Ahmadinejad bucked that, and they’re upset. But upset enough to start a revolution? I doubt it.
The Iranian elections have been marked with, besides violence, remarkable foreign access to the country. Western journalists poured intto the country to cover Iranian democracy in action. But their visas expire this week, and the government is not renewing them. With virtually all foreign media gone from the country authorities will have free reign on how to crack down (I’m surprised they haven’t blocked sites like Twitter and Facebook yet). Lucky for the dissenting though, Khameini doesn’t seem intent on slaughter.
In the face of the drama, the Ayatollah ordered a review of the election results to ‘ensure the people’s will was executed properly’ or something like that. Considering that Khameini has allowed Ahmadinejad to stay in power this long and that he was one of the first people to accept Ahmadinejad’s declaration that he had won a landslide, it seems pretty obvious what the results of this review will be. However much time it takes for this review to happen though, that’s also time for the fervently angry to calm down. With time comes apathy, and Khameini is betting on most dissenters simply not caring in a week or so.
And what of foreign reactions to Tankless Tiananmen? Like those even matter. You got the usual round of stern criticism from any country resembling a democracy, rousing support from Venezuela (and in this case Syria), and most everyone else doesn’t care. But depending on how quickly Mousavi’s movement loses steam it could force a small bit of change within the government, especially in regards to relations with the United States. Ahmadinejad’s legitimacy is already trashed and unless Khameini is careful he and his advisers could find themselves the victims of (legitimate) guilt by association. Should that become the case, then who knows what the hell will happen? Stay tuned.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Does listening to Lady Gaga make me gay? Yes, no, maybe; either way I make no apologies, The Fame through a set of Bose headphones sounds amazing. And, believe it or not, its an appropriate album choice in a couple of ways. It’s been a year partially (okay, mostly) fueled by alcohol and drugs and made fun with the company of excellent friends. I tend to think that once you’ve met someone you literally can’t imagine your life without in one way or another, that’s the kind of person you keep in touch with until one of you dies. And no, I don’t necessarily mean that in a romantic or sexual way.
With these past twelve (yes, twelve) months being my first as an out-ish man, its been a whirlwind of emotions people usually first experience when they’re around the age of 12. I have found though that aside from sex, flirting and making out are the greatest things in the world. Except for maybe handcuffs, but because of time constraints we didn’t get to explore that notion to its fullest. That’s really the only thing I can complain about; so much has happened in the past two weeks that it could warrant a post of its own. In short, two weeks isn’t nearly enough time to get anything satisfactory done. And while I currently find myself feeling quite lonely the feeling will pass, just like it always does.
Some people use the drink or the weed with roots in hell to help them cope with their problems. This may come as a surprise to you, but I’m not one of those people. I know some of them, but I don’t indulge with them. My only vice is that I enjoy my vices a little too much, and in that respect I think this will be the summer of detoxification. I don’t feel addicted to anything, hell it’s been three weeks since I went drinking, but there still comes a time when it’s all too much. And when you find yourself at the hookah bar on almost a nightly basis, that’s a time when it’s too much. Will I quit my hookah and my drinking? Allow me to be upfront and honest–no.
With all this talk of sex and drugs, you may wonder why I don’t post much about my academic life It’s really quite simple: academia is boring. There’s not much I want to talk about there. I’m guessing that after this quarter’s grades are finalized my GPA will be somewhere around a 3.4 or 3.5, and I managed to pass logic with a B-. Oh, and I’m taking a course on the Vietnam War in the fall. See? While it’s all good news it’s not necessarily reportable news nor is it fun for me to write about, at least not compared to the time I downed half a bottle of Smirnoff, asked to be waterboarded and then didn’t remember in in the morning. I remembered most of everything else that night, including going to bed, just not the torture conversation. Never start your evenings with double shots.
So aside from the previous sentence, what lessons have I learned from my freshman year of college? If you’re uptown, make sure to leave at least 10 minutes before the bars close for the night. Tequila is sin. Ask what’s in the bowl before smoking it. Hookah flavors are not to be mixed erratically. Don’t forget to play for bonus stars. One night stands are reserved only for the jaw-droppingly sexy, if anyone at all. Handcuffs are awesome. You can tell your very best of friends by how much they pay attention to your problems. If you’re ready to give up hope and stop putting forth effort, don’t. Use what little time you have wisely. Everything you’ve ever known is just a pale blue dot and whatever you think is so vital really doesn’t matter that much. Just be sure to enjoy yourself.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
To say the least it’s been a busy end-of-the-quarter. I know I’ve made a habit of posting highly irregularly, as opposed to the daily rantings of old, but these past few weeks have been in one way or another quite hectic. And being concurrently hit with an utter disinterest in writing much of anything doesn’t help matters much, either. So, the question arises, what have I been up to this whole time? If I told you I had been doing something productive, I would be partially lying.
I’ve been failing logic, experiencing sexual frustration, blacking out (or so I’m told), enjoying/being terrified by Paper Mario vision (without playing Paper Mario), stealing music from a gay English professor, excelling at my political theory class, discussing shallow ponds and the scores of babies drowning in them, giving myself flavored emphysema to the sweet sounds of Frank Sinatra, easing into Lady Gaga, taking the problems of my friends as dead weight on my shoulders, and getting excited at the prospect of killing some Turks online. Orhan knows what I’m talking about.
Last night though, somewhere between my dorm room and the hookah bar uptown I lost my iPod. Good news is all my music is still comfortably on my computer (knock on boners), bad news is unless I’m engaged in conversation or in class I’m listening to my iPod. So going cold turkey here is like taking the pipe away from the crackhead. Will it turn up? Hopefully so but probably not. At times like these I would say “fuck my life”, but a friend of mine was greeted not ten minutes after waking up with a special phone call from his mother. Not only is his uncle being taken off life support, but his father apparently has skin cancer. Suddenly the iPod doesn’t seem so troubling, but the loss of that frustration is replaced by this strange thing people call “sympathy”.
In somewhat related news, as it turns out today was my grandmother’s birthday. A stubborn 84 years old. And while this is the first year I’ve forgotten it, she had to be reminded of it too. The Alzheimer’s will do that to you, you know? Anyway, I did give her a call once my mother reminded me to and we had a brief little conversation. I told her I was a political science major here, and she asked if I was going to be the next President. “You’ve got a vote–well two votes, mine and yours!” I don’t think the Presidency is on my radar, but it was still nice to smile on an otherwise dreadful day. The sun didn’t even come out, so I guess those words’ll have to do for today.