November 2002 Archives

White Columns followup

I mentioned the show a few days ago, and now the images are up. I really liked the paintings by Jackie Gendel, based on her comic book -- see the first two images in the second row.

The photos by Sarah A. Martin are somewhat creepy once you read about them. They are the first two images in the fourth row.

NY Arts has a description:

Sarah Martin also found her photographic material close to home. The photo shoots Martin documented, which she describes as somewhere between soft porn and swimsuit issue, were conducted by young women with whom she attended church or Christian high school in Knoxville. All in their mid-twenties, the women swore an oath to remain virgins until they are married. Many now find themselves without college degrees, unmarried, and living at with their parents. Martin’s interest in documenting the clique’s semi-erotic photo sessions is not an ironic commentary on the situation, but rather an investigation of why the women seek to portray themselves in this manner.

... at least in a few papers, after today's strip.

I love Aaron McGruder.

Tim Miller

Andy convinced me. I'm going to see Tim Miller tonight (Saturday) at P.S. 122.

Is anyone else going? Let me know.

End of year giving

I have a few of my favorite charities, such as Housing Works, SAGE, and Hetrick-Martin, but I plan to look into the charities of Foolanthropy too.

No queens please

The Republicans didn't mean THOSE kinds of homosexuals when they promised to pass SONDA to get Pataki the ESPA endorsement.

So we should make them wait another 30 years? The bill was first introduced in 1971, but the GOP-controlled Senate wouldn't even allow a vote on it until this year.

It reminds me of a scene in a work I saw by Madeline Olnek at WOW Cafe a few years ago, in which two lesbians watching the NYC pride parade are talking to a reporter while pointing out people in the parade, saying "oh, we're not like those people."

US wartime intelligence believed the Nazi salute may have been copied from American cheerleaders, rather than Mussolini's fascists.

Where is the NY Times?

Arguing that this city faces a far more perilous world than once imagined, New York's police commissioner wants to toss aside a decades-old federal court decree governing the limits on police spying and surveillance of its own citizenry.


To infiltrate lawful political and social organizations, police must establish a suspicion of criminal activity and gain the permission of a special three-person authority.

This three-person authority consists of two high-ranking police officials and a civilian appointed by the mayor. Civil libertarians argue this is hardly an onerous burden for law enforcement.

-- from the Washington Post

There is also a small article in the NY Daily News on this today. I find it disturbing that there is no article on this in the NY Times.

Do you trust the NYPD to police itself?

Our tax dollars at work?

Santorum has told the White House that, during the debate over welfare reform, he will fight for a provision to allow religious groups to discriminate against certain people -- gays, for instance -- when hiring if they don't share their religious beliefs. "I will make that stand," Santorum said.

Don't just stand there

James Ridgeway in the Nov. 13 Village Voice:

Power may be wielded to advance ideology, but more often, ideology is a front for the simple protection of power. Bush may pose as a Texas wildcatter, a Bible-thumping Christian zealot, a war-ready patriot, and a champion of the common man. But in reality, he's a blue-blooded New England Methodist who dodged the draft by joining the National Guard and pledged for Skull and Bones at Yale. And he's never had anything remotely like an ideology, with the possible exception of the 12-Step Program. If Bush succeeds in spite of an elitist pedigree, it's because he heads—and epitomizes—today's Republican Party. This is a party that wields the money and power of Big Business, shrewdly woven into a populist, patriotic ideology designed to appeal to a country so desperate for passionate ideals that in return it will give them the license to rob their pensions and send their children to war.

Those who fail to fall for all this are left feeling powerless and depressed, wondering where to go next. The answer is not terribly hopeful, but it is very simple—and it has nothing whatsoever to do with party politics. Take every opportunity to oppose the power structure: March on Washington, go on strike, organize a boycott, start a resistance radio station, take to the streets with the anarchists. If you are looking for models, they are all over the rest of the world: the East German Christian opposition to the Honecker police state that led to the toppling of the Berlin Wall, the massive Czech uprising, the South African overthrow of apartheid, the protests in Seattle. Don't wait for the Democrats to do it. Do it yourself. Stand for something.

Henry F-ing Kissinger!


He gets extra points for the Mark Bingham remark at the end.


I'm not sure if "admire" is the right word, but I'm impressed with what the Bush regime can get away with. They've appointed a man who orchestrated secret bombing during the Viet Nam War, and can't travel freely overseas at the risk of being arrested or subpoenaed for his role in helping Pinochet's Chile kill its opponents, even in the U.S.

Interestingly, the NY Times hasn't mentioned Chile once in connection with Kissinger in yesterday's article on his past or today's editorial, which argues that he's not a very good choice.

Pyongyang Robogirl

I just saw a very cool short: Pyongyang Robogirl (2001).

The next time any of you visit me, ask to see it.

It's on a DVD of queer shorts called Queer as F**k. I originally bought it because it has a short with David Drake as co-writer and star.

Happy Thanksgiving

Yum gargoyle

Hell Gate

We went for a tour of Gracie Mansion last week. Next to it is a park overlooking Hell Gate:

Comments visible in archives

For those with the stomach for it, comments are visible now in my archives. The Nov. 20 post that has some people up in arms is here.

I hesitate to link to anyone else at the moment for fear of bringing pool-pah down on others, but the comments by epenthesis on Dan's post are infuriating. I never said I thought her murder was a "good thing", and having to defend myself from homosexuals whose reading skills are on a par with National Review readers isn't something I should have to do.

My posting was sarcastic, and anyone who takes a post titled "Is it good for the gays?" as a statement of my position needs to just calm down. James said "The woman who did such great evil", not that she was evil.

Homos need to stop being such wimps. I shall not beg for a place at the table by swearing my allegiance to God, Apple Pie and the Ten Commandments before I post on such topics. Mr. Benedetto writes:

I think that if gays are going to continue to have any credibility in politics, our sympathies in cases like this are going to have to lie first and foremost with the victims. And that's one upsetting thing about Barry's and James's posts: until the criticism started to roll in, the only sympathy they expressed was for the wrong person.


Barry and James could have said what they had to say much better than they did, but they instead let their emotions get the better of them and ignored the most important truths of the case. They brought the outrage on their own heads.

I shall begin to preface my remarks with such niceties as soon as all monotheists (shall I refrain from calling them "sky god worshippers"?) posting on our sites, or writing about their faith, or invoking faith during their political speeches, preface theirs with apologies for:

I could go on posting more examples -- involving birth control, people who say they aren't anti-gay but donate to anti-gay churches every Sunday, etc. -- but people with a brain will get the point.

Don't even get me started on people going to Lebanon, a country that went through a religious-based 15-year civil war, to convert Muslims. If you want to go help the less fortunate, do it. People that tempt poor children with toys to indoctrinate them into their cult are beneath contempt.

Over 200 years ago, a very wise German named Gotthold Ephraim Lessing wrote a play called Nathan the Wise about religious tolerance. I recommend reading it to remind ourselves of the ideas of the Enlightenment that the forces of religion fight to destroy. A full text in translation is available here.

I don't think I want to stay on this topic any longer. We shall now return to our regular coverage of art, culture, and pretty things.

Martinu and an opera hunk

On Monday night we saw two short opera by Bohuslav Martinu at Henry Street Chamber Opera. We've seen all of their productions, and I can't recommend them enough. They do smart, well designed and directed operas with young casts that actually act -- opera as theatre, not the semi-staged concerts that pass for productions at the Met. One was a Dada opera from 1928 Paris, which included things like a young girl who falls in loved with a hanged man. The other, written in the more grim historical moment of 1935 Prague, was more of a fairy tale set in the forest, and featured Kathleen Chalfant as a rather arch narrator. I would watch that woman read a phone book. She has a voice that makes one realize what a trained voice really is, rather than the wimpy voices of actors that are only interested in TV or film.

On the way to the Lower East Side on the subway, we both noticed a very hot guy standing near us with a great speaking voice. Once we saw him again in the lobby, I heard people talking to him and realized he was David Adam Moore who was an incredibly sexy Aeneas in their production of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, complete with leather pants, a couple of tattoos, and a pierced nipple and belly button. Swoon.

We had a great dinner afterward, including a bottle of Alella, at AKA Cafe. Since it was the Monday before Thanksgiving, it was really quiet. The maitre d' reminded me of James Urbaniak, and the whole staff was attractive and smart. A strange guy, after finishing his meal, told them they better do something about Monday nights, or they weren't going to make it, since eventually every store on the block would be a restaurant. He described himself as an "impresario" who owned a restaurant in South Beach. It's the first time I've heard a person actually use that word outside of a period film.

The LES certainly has changed. I remember my friends in a Target Margin production at Nada (on Ludlow) telling me about a shootout over drug turfs one night during a performance. I first went to the neighborhood in 1989, to go have dinner at El Sombrero. I had just moved here from Texas, and my friends and I were researching every decent Mexican restaurant in the city. I lived in Chelsea, which wasn't exactly prosperous then ("excuse me sir/madam, but can I get in my building as soon as you're finished"), but going to the LES felt very "edgy".

Soma FM returns!

Happy Happy Happy!

Soma FM has returned. My productivity can soar once again.

Comments turned off

My comments have been turned off until I stop getting "sick fuck" and "people telling homosexuals that God doesn't approve are good people" posts on my Nov. 20 post.

I'll fix the archives so that you can see them when I get time, but I'm too busy with actual paying work at the moment.

Thanks, Otto, for the one amusing comment in the set.

I guess I should just be a good homo who only writes about stupid TV shows, Madonna, and sex.


This person is writing quite well on the subject at the moment. Check out this and that.

That's how I realized that The National Review is linking to James and that's how these wackos found our two sites. Creepy. We're being attacked in a magazine founded by someone who advocated mandatory tattoos for HIV+ people in a 1986 NY Times editorial.

Austria's headed the other direction

I've always felt that Haider's popularity in Austria was more about frustration with the corruption of the decades-old Red-Black coalition/divide-up-the-spoils-system than a real desire for a neo-Nazi party. Well, his party's popularity plummeted in the latest election.

I recently came across the weblog -- in English! -- of a lefty Austrian, living in Vienna, who is worth reading if you care about that part of the world. I know I do.

Let's talk about art instead

On Friday we had a studio visit with Fred Holland, an artist with the P.S.1 Studio Program. We had first seen his work, and met him, at the Momenta benefit. In his honor we had the curried onion fritters at Le Zinc afterward, spotting Michael Dvorkin having lunch.

This afternoon we were planning to see the "Time to Hope" exhibit at St. John the Divine -- which includes works by Goya and El Greco -- but the wait was too long, so we just spent some time looking at the cathedral instead, and walked north to see a less than exciting show at The Project. We then headed back downtown to see a show I highly recommend: "Regarding Gloria" at White Columns. I will add some links to some of my favorite works from the show once they put some up!

We also went to only two (unfortunately not more) programs at the Mix Festival.


I'm glad to see Scott and Andy are pissed off about the joke our country has become.

I can't decide how much I want to even write about politics at this point. The American people have had the right to vote for many years, a right for which many people have died, a right people in East Timor walked days to exercise, but they can't even be bothered to vote or pay attention to what's going on beyond the crap they see for 5 minutes on the 6 o'clock news. The last election's turnout was 40% or less.

I'm not going to have children, so I'm not going to have to worry what the world looks like in 50 years. I'm in my mid-30s but I doubt I'll live another fifty years. I don't understand how people can vote for a party that stands only for 10,000 or so rich people, environmental degradation, and fundamentalist religion. As I said, people have the ability to vote or pay attention if they want, and they have relinquished that privilege. They would rather choose a president based on which one to have over for a visit than on self-interest. Were people really voting for those things? Half of the voters were, plus right-wing control of the courts for a generation.

A lot of my friends don't seem to understand why I'm such a Europhile. They look at what happened during World War II and immediately decide that Europe isn't for them, particularly Jewish friends. Grab a clue, people. We are gradually marching towards a fascism that combines religious fundamentalists (including those who advocate "conversion" of Jews) with corporate power, and with no significant protest from any quarter. The fascists of Italy, Spain and Germany had political prisoners -- Dachau was built as soon as the Nazis came to power for political prisoners. Our leaders don't have to bother. They don't even have to suspend voting. They win anyway, and the fact that about 20% of the possible voters put them into power seems to convey some legitimacy. Why shouldn't they act like they have a mandate? It's obvious that not enough Americans are opposed to them to even bother voting.

My other argument regarding the USA vs. Europe is that the USA is giving up all of the things that are in its favor -- our constitutional protections and our Bill of Rights. The right to privacy and freedom of speech have not always been priorities in the democracies of post-war Europe. Those restrictions, however, are combined with a social compact with the government to provide a welfare state that has made Europe one of the best places to live in the world, with good public services, nearly universal access to healthcare, and much lower levels of violence. The regime we have now is preparing to revoke one end of our country's understanding of its citizens' relationship to their government without giving us anything in return. They are proposing a police state -- we should not be seeing the phrase "secret court" in headlines -- combined with a Darwinian capitalism that cares nothing for anyone but those who are rich and powerful. We are rolling back the New Deal while shredding the Bill of Rights. Who will protect us from corporations that knowingly create defective products, or lie about the drugs they sell us, or abuse their employees? No one.

If New York didn't exist, I would have left the USA long ago. It's one of the few redeeming features of America at this point, and the fact that it's the likely target for future terrorist attacks is depressing, when we represent what is good and diverse and pluralist in our society. I don't think I can really turn off my desire for reading newspapers and watching what's happening in politics, but a certain amount of inner emigration is attractive.


See James for his take on this too.

But he is a moron

I wish more of our allies would speak the truth about our duly-selected president.

Good for the Chicago Tribune

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Yes, the picture is real.


Music/Theatre recommendation

Target Margin is reviving The Sandman, the opera they premiered this summer. If you buy tickets before 12/26, they're only $15. It's certainly worth $15!

Civilians benefit

If any of you out there would like to join me for The Civilians' benefit on December 9 at The Cutting Room, you can now buy tickets online.

There's a cash bar, so I promise to buy any of you who come at least one drink during the evening of entertainment. It's hosted by Stephen DeRosa, currently The Baker in Into the Woods.

I love subway movie critics

Theatre recommendation

Hurry -- it's only through the weekend. Go see Three Birds at Gale Gates in DUMBO. The playwright is still in her 20s, and she has invented a brilliant language of her own, in a retelling of the myth of Tereus and Philomela. We had dinner afterward around the corner at Water Street Bar.

Earlier in the evening we went to A.R.T. to see J. Morrison's show.

I think I hurt myself

Is this good for the gays?


Probably not, but maybe it will strike fear in the hearts of a few fundamentalists:

A gay Chicago-area man stands accused of killing a woman who allegedly tried to persuade him to change his sexual orientation.

Friends and relatives of Stachowicz said the idea of her trying to convince Gutierrez to renounce his homosexuality was not out of character.

"Those of us who knew her immediately hear her soft voice saying something like, 'God wouldn't approve of the way you're living your life,'" Mary Coleman, a friend and neighbor, told the Tribune.

Where do I send a check for his defense fund?

I love Placido Domingo

Placido Domingo is to sing an unprecedented duet in Arabic with an Egyptian singer at a concert in Dubai next month.

He's the "smart tenor".

What would Jesus Drive?

Yes, that's an actual quote from a new media campaign linking conservation with godliness.

"We are under a commandment to be faithful stewards of God's creation," said Paul Gorman, executive director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, an umbrella organization of Christian and Jewish groups. "This is a crisis in God's creation at the hands of God's children."

Leaders of many groups within the partnership have signed a letter to the Big Three's chief executives asking for improvements in fuel economy. They say they have a biblical mandate to be good stewards of God's creation and a responsibility to the poor who are especially harmed by pollution. And they decry supporting "autocratic, corrupt and violent" governments that produce oil.

I think the more likely outcome, if there a lot of such ads, is that it will lower the power of religion, but not oil. This country manages to combine one of the highest rates of believers in God in the rich world with a depressing lack of concern for anyone less fortunate.

Another good thing from the world of religion this week: Nuns arrested during protests against the formerly-named School of the Americas.

See Mattitude, I do show this side too.

Research is fun

For an article on credit cards and adult sites, the NY Times has a picture of the owner of an S&M site. I wonder which Times employee volunteered the site name for the article?

Nancy Pelosi

If I see one more member of the Liberal (ha) Media talk about whether Nancy Pelosi is too far left for America, I'm going to scream. Who is the House GOP Leader? It's Tom DeLay, a man who attacked my alma mater (Texas A&M) for failing to teach creationism.

Good write-ups on this may be found from Joe Conason and No More Mr. Nice Blog.


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We didn't make it to Williamsburg for The Civilians last night. The weather was awful, and the downtown trains weren't running, so we gave up.

We did go today, for a studio visit with the sweet and talented Meredith Allen, followed by visits to Plus Ultra and Bellwether.

We had a great dinner at M -- and I see they're having an Eileen Myles reading on December 18.

Sick Bionic Woman

If I were in SF, I would go see the latest show by Assume Vivid Astro Focus at Peres Projects.

Check out Sick Bionic Woman.

Our Country's Good

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We went to see "Our Country's Good" tonight at Culture Project. Loved it -- go read James's account.

The other highlight of the evening: I met Dakota in person finally, rather than only via email. I hadn't realized she was so beautiful. I have a thing for smart attractive New England girls.

Temple to Antinous found

Archeologists have found a temple near Roman Emperor Hadrian's villa dedicated to his lover Antinous.

If you haven't read Marguerit Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian, go do it right now!

What you crave

what you crave






Barry vs. Joshua Michael Marshall

My letter, and Mr. Marshall's response, regarding UNSCOM weapons inspectors, is featured on the front page of Salon today.

He chooses to ignore the fact that the weapons team had U.S. spies on it.

Salome's Last Dance

I just saw a fabulously weird Ken Russell movie -- yes I know that seems redundant -- called Salome's Last Dance, in which Oscar Wilde's play is presented in a brothel.

It's worth seeing, especially for what seem to be the only movie role of Imogen Millais-Scott, as Salome.

I was going to watch Y tu mamá también, but my DVD's subtitles were a bit wacked. Even two or three line subtitles would appear for only a second (or less). Has anyone else seen this?

Illegal Art / Civilians in Williamsburg

We went to the opening for the Illegal Art show at the CGBG Gallery. We went mainly because of Eric Doeringer -- we have #1 of the CD 2002 project, but we also ran into the lovely Simon and Dan.

We're going to see some theatre by The Civilians on Saturday night at Galapagos. Who wants to join us?

I want to use that phrase for a sign the next time I'm at a queer demonstration, courtesy of French Prostitutes.

Go buy some books

From the BBC(!), Oscar Wilde bookstore in danger of closing.

"Progress" is putting businesses like them out of business.

Goin' to Boca

We're going to see Boca tomorrow night (Monday the 11th). Are any of my lovely readers planning on joining us? Leave a comment or send an email.

It's not on the front page of any newspapers here, but there was a huge demonstration in Florence yesterday protesting war with Iraq.

Good pictures: 1  2

Theatre recommendations

I've seen two things in the last few days that I highly recommend. I'm too tired to do a good writeup on either one, but here they are:

David Drake: Son of Drakula at Dance Theater Workshop. David has amazing range, and just gets better every time I see him. This work goes from his research into the Drakula family tree (his real last name) to his visits with possible family members in post-war Yugoslavia. I was very impressed by the writing and his performance.

Landford Wilson's "Book of Days" at Signature Theatre. Some of the reveiws were uneven, but I thought it was excellent. I can't say for sure whether I would think so with a less stellar cast and direction, but its politics are in the right place, and as someone who grew up less than 100 miles from its setting in Missouri, it certainly felt accurate. Miriam Shor, of Hedwig fame, was amazing as a small-town Missouri girl with a love for hunting and a chance to play Joan in a local production of Shaw's St. Joan. It was hard to believe I was seeing the same actress I saw on stage in Hedwig.

I love Jimmy Breslin

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His latest column.

All these years later, I didn't realize there was an election this week until the Sunday before. On election day, I was in neighborhoods where they should have been calling out Carl McCall's name. There was no sound. Then I realized that this silence was right, that there was no election. McCall was the candidate, but he did not ruin the politics here. It was shameless Bill Clinton who used the Democratic Party and left it with a hyphen. Not because of his trailer camp sex, nor his lying under oath to a grand jury. Rather, he merged the Democratic Party with the Republican Party. The Democratic-Republican Party. He left the Democrats with no issues, no purpose, no aim, no desire for anything except keeping the job. Do whatever the Republicans do. They want a tax cut that can break us? Good. Vote for it. They want a war? Of course. Let's kill.

Quiet Party

What a good idea!

Wegman in Times Square

If you find yourself in Times Square between now, and January 22, 2003, look up at the big TV screen to see videos by William Wegman, courtesy of Creative Time.


I thought Dan and others would appreciate this quote from the obituary of Brian Behan in today's NY Times:

His first play, "Boots for the Footless," which played at a London theater, was picketed by Irish groups objecting to what they considered its stereotypical portrayals of Irishmen as drunk and violent and Irish women as contradictory and conniving.

He was unrepentant. "I regard being stage-Irish as something of a trade like any other," he said. "It's something we Irish are particularly good at. After all, we have no other natural resource that I know of."

Me so war-ny!

Mullet Haiku

The latest from Mark Morford:

Let's go to Wal-Mart
Need cheese puffs and wine coolers
Damn, the house won't start


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WFC sunset




Subway reader




UN Resolution

The BBC has a good summary of the timetable for the next steps, now that the Iraq resolution has passed.

White Box benefit

Aaarrrgh. I can't help myself. I said I was going to try to concentrate on politics a bit less after the election, but I'm not succeeding.

OK. Here's a non-politics post, except for the fact that White Box is one of the few non-profit art spaces that still has the nerve to do political shows.

We attended the benefit last night, and picked up some works by:

Carlos de Villasante

Rey Akdogan

Alejandro Diaz

Michael Meads -- We already had 3 photos by him. There's an opening tonight for his new show at Nikolai Fine Art on West 22nd Street.

Corporate Media

This is an interesting page from the Media Reform Information Center.

Number of corporations controlling the vast majority of all news media:


I guess the Republicans are waiting until the number is one -- and it's Rupert Murdoch's Fox News -- to stop whining about the "liberal media".

Nice photo blog

Thanks to Jessie for this one:


NYC turnout - record low

From the NY Times:

New York City registered what may be a record low in voter turnout on Tuesday, with an estimated 34.2 percent of registered voters casting their ballots. The last time city voters came out in similarly low numbers was in 1990, when 38 percent of registered voters voted. New York State may also have reached a new low with an estimated 40 percent of voters casting their ballots.

Another reason to ban religion


After the teacher-parent council decided to allow a Gay-Straight Alliance to meet at a high school in Boyd County, Kentucky, 420 of the school's 990 students boycotted school.

Those 19 kids in the GSA are very brave.

Here's a another nice bit:

The Rev. Tim York, a Baptist minister and president of the Boyd County Ministerial Association, said the association is planning a community rally against the gay-straight alliance on Sunday.

"The community is really upset," York said about the alliance meeting in the school. "There's a moral issue here that's brought us to a place of discussion."

That's like all of the "religious" people in my home state of Arkansas who couldn't be bothered to help all of the hungry or homeless people that needed help, but they couldn't wait to protest restaurants serving alcohol, or "special rights for queers".

Remain calm?

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Two test positive for bubonic plaque.

They're from New Mexico. Another reason not to visit "fly-over" country.

Angry Dems

I'm not sure if I'm even a big-D Democrat anymore, but I just signed the world's shortest petition -- "Terry, you're fired!" -- at

John Cage: Credo in Us

Yes, it's 11MB, but it's worth it! This work from 1942 was composed for Merce Cunningham (Cage's partner until the end of his life). People like Cage and Cunningham created the NYC that we love, as opposed to the parts we don't. Imagine "sampling" a Shostokovich symphony in a composition for dance during WWII!

John Cage: Credo in Us

Burritoville, West 23rd, 3:30pm

Geeky gay boys, sitting alone at tables with their burritos, cruising the other geeky gay boys. Teenage girls from the Fashion Industries High School, sketching new fashions. Skinny straight boys with Central Park Conservancy t-shirts.

Quote from Mencken

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Question: If you find so much that is unworthy of reverence in the United States, why do you live here?

Answer: Why do men go to zoos?

Not much to be said - yesterday sucked

A party that will not criticize the incumbent president cannot defeat him, now or two years from now. A party that has nothing to say about unfair tax breaks, a vanishing surplus and a looted economy cannot expect anyone to listen when it asks for votes. A party without passion or vision is hardly a political party at all. Even in their righteous defense of Social Security, Democrats too often sounded as if their chief concern was to preserve their own institutional position. Today the future looks grim for them because they blurred the purposes of their partisanship.

-- Joe Conason in Salon



Far from Heaven

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I haven't looked at any election news yet, having finished dinner after attending a preview screening of Far From Heaven, the new Todd Haynes film. It's set in 1958, and is like a neo-Douglas Sirk film.

Like Safe, his previous film, this one has me thinking about whether I really liked it. (I eventually decided Safe was brilliant, even though it's an excrutiating movie to sit through.)

The film pulls off the whole 50s claustrophobic suburban environment very well, to the point that I was squirming in my seat. I didn't even grow up in that world, unlike James.

In the end I think it works, but it is very melodramatic and heavy-handed in a weepy movie kind of way. The plot involves a suburban housewife (brilliantly played by Julianne Moore), whose life starts to fall apart when she catches her husband (played by Dennis Quaid) with another man. As he struggles with being homosexual, and goes to a psychiatrist, she starts to fall in love with her African-American gardener. Having grown up in the South, I found the latter story totally believable, and incredibly disturbing. In a way, I could imagine a gay white man in that world finding a way to live a decent life more easily than I could a white woman who loved a black man. James found the racism in the film rather heavy-handed, and he found it hard to believe that the North would be that bad in this era based on his experiences in Michigan and New England. As I said, having grown up in the South a generation later, I find the whole thing quite believable. If any of you reading this have an opinion on late 1950s Connecticut or New England, I would love for you to add a comment to this post.

One of the most amazing scenes in the film is when the husband and wife try to have a conversation after she has caught him in his office kissing another man. They talk around each other, not quite forming sentences, and their voices become hoarse with the strain. It's a brilliant piece of film-making. (I realize I'm using brilliant too much here.)

I think it's worth seeing, but in a way I find it a bit indulgent for a filmmaker to try to recreate a 50s film, but add the racial and sexual twists. The score is over the top, like a 50s film, but it seems ironic rather than sincere in our era. The audience -- an odd mix of New Festival members, women-in-film organizations, and random elderly ladies from the Upper West Side with tickets through Equity --- laughed at odd times, because the dialog seems so "knowing" to a modern audience.

One of the amusing lines in the film, where they talk about how "radical" Julianne Moore's character is, has one of the women she went to college with talking about her doing summer stock with "steamy Jewish boys".

The only celebrities I spotted in the audience were Christine Vachon (the producer) and John Cameron Mitchell.

George Clooney is listed as one of the executive producers. Maybe he really is gay.

One quibble with Dennis Quaid. He's hot, but a 50s sales exec would not have a six-pack like that. I give him points though for being believable as a married man struggling with his sexuality -- and he is shown kissing a man, unlike Tom Hanks who wouldn't be shown kissing Antonio Banderas in Philadelphia. I hated the whole vibe of "I'm not really gay, just playing gay" in that film.

Another fabulous actress in this is Patricia Clarkson, playing the best friend of Julianne Moore's character. I've seen her a few times on stage, especially in Nicky Silver plays.


I see from IMDB that there is a film before Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, which I do have, called Assassins: A Film Concerning Rimbaud. If any of you out there know how to get a copy of it, let me know.

Yikes! Who's in charge here?

From the London Times:

Attack Iran the day Iraq war ends, demands Sharon

ISRAEL’S Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has called on the international community to target Iran as soon as the imminent conflict with Iraq is complete.

In an interview with The Times , Mr Sharon insisted that Tehran — one of the “axis of evil” powers identified by President Bush — should be put under pressure “the day after” action against Baghdad ends because of its role as a “centre of world terror”.

Britain's Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, responds.

Gaze in the Military

A beautiful post from David Ehrenstein. Don't forget to check the Whoopie Box.

Nina Hagen at the Gershwin tonight!

I already have plans to go to a preview screening of Far From Heaven, the new Todd Haynes film, otherwise I would go see Nina Hagen for $8 at the Gershwin Hotel.

Go, Cornell!

This post is in honor of Chris:

Cornell University Health Services is currently debating whether to sell vibrators in their dispensary.

Many students feel it would be helpful for Gannett to have vibrators available because Cornell is located in Ithaca, not a major city.

"At this point, you either go online or go downtown to the sort of scary and not very woman-affirming place sex-shop downtown," Frazer said.

Some students agreed that access is important.

"I'm sure there are people who are dying to find vibrators and they don't know where to go, so Gannett, go ahead," Keith Hermanstyne '04 said.

Others took a more practical approach.

"I think one of the most important things is for women to be able to get themselves off. It's better than going to the sketchy shop downtown where they have to check the batteries for you," Sara Jacobs '05 said.

From "Open Letter" / Paul Wellstone

Here is a good election day post from Open Letter.

It reminded me of something I had in the back of my mind. I knew there had been at least one reason why I had some negative feelings about Paul Wellstone:

Whatever can be said in favor of Wellstone's record has been said by the editors of The Nation, the leaders of NARAL, and indeed by the editor of Open Letter. But the crude contempt the Democratic Party leadership shows for the historical record will also now be inscribed on the same historical record. Paul Wellstone's votes for the Defense of Marriage Act, the Afghanistan war, and the Patriot Act reflected the rightward drift of his own party. That party is dominated by the Democratic Leadership Council, which even Wellstone never troubled to deny.

Are young people too smart to vote?

Not to encourage Dan, but Alternet has a good article titled Are Young People Too Smart to Vote?

Other necessary changes include instant runoff voting, Election Day as a national holiday, Election Day voter registration (Prop. 52 on the California ballot) and public financing of elections. Not surprisingly, nations that employ these practices enjoy much higher rates of voting among all people, including young people, poor people, and others who are left out of our political system.

More than adults, young people seem intuitively to recognize that our political system is broken. And they register their awareness on Election Day by not bothering to participate in what to them is a pretty meaningless exercise. So when you see the low numbers for voter turnout this time, don't think of it as apathy. Think of it as the wisdom of youth.

I think Instant Runoff Voting is a great concept. It's already used in a number of places.

How does it work? Voters rank candidates in order of choice: 1, 2, 3 and so on. It takes a majority to win. If anyone receives a majority of the first choice votes, that candidate is elected. If not, the last place candidate is defeated, just as in a runoff election, and all ballots are counted again, but this time each ballot cast for the defeated candidate counts for the next choice candidate listed on the ballot. The process of eliminating the last place candidate and recounting the ballots continues until one candidate receives a majority of the vote. With modern voting equipment, all of the counting and recounting takes place rapidly and automatically.

If we used it everywhere, I could vote for the Green or Working Families Party candidate, and put the Democrats' candidate second. It would allow me to register my desire for alternative parties without being a "spoiler".

Pretty pathetic


The Democrats didn't even field a candidate against Senator John Warner or Representative Tom Davis in Virginia.

Go Vote!

Illegal Art

My friend Eric Doeringer is in an interesting show called Illegal Art, dealing with the increasing use of copyright and intellectual property laws to stifle creative works that comment on or borrow from other works and images.

The laws governing "intellectual property" have grown so expansive in recent years that artists need legal experts to sort them all out. Borrowing from another artwork--as jazz musicians did in the 1930s and Looney Tunes illustrators did in 1940s--will now land you in court. If the current copyright laws had been in effect back in the day, whole genres such as collage, hiphop, and Pop Art might have never have existed.

The irony here couldn't be more stark. Rooted in the U.S. Constitution, copyright was originally intended to facilitate the exchange of ideas but is now being used to stifle it.

The Illegal Art Exhibit will celebrate what is rapidly becoming the "degenerate art" of a corporate age: art and ideas on the legal fringes of intellectual property. Some of the pieces in the show have eluded lawyers; others have had to appear in court.

Peggy Noonan channels Tupac

A hilarious parody of an actual Peggy "Thousand Points of Light" Noonan's WSJ column, in which she imagines what Paul Wellstone would say (from heaven) about his memorial service, appears here.

Remember how outraged all of the right-wingers were when the firemen booed Hilary Clinton at one of the 9/11 memorial services one month after the event? Right, I don't remember them doing that either.

Goodness that woman is scary. It's amazing that real reporters (such as the late Daniel Pearl) work for the same newspaper that puts out that editorial page.

Link via RubberNun.

New Yorkers: Vote for the WFP

If you're not crazy about my Vote Green idea, there is still something you can do to try to make politics better in NY State. Vote for the Democrats, but vote for them on the Working Families Party line.

Good political weblog added to my list

I just added Eschaton to my list of favorite blogs. I've been reading him for a while after finding a link on David E's Fablog.

He mentions a purely election-oriented weblog here. That's where I found this lovely story:

Unless turnout is ridiculously low, there is no way that voters in Broward county will have enough time to vote using the new touch screen machines. It is estimated that it should take on average 15 minutes per voter. There are 987,000 registered voters in the county. There are 5765 machines. With, say, 500,000 voters turning out that means 86 voters per machine. With polls scheduled to be open for 12 hours, that means that just over half of voters would have time to vote - assuming an even distribution of voters across machines. Election officials in Florida have declined to allow paper ballots to supplement the machines in case of long lines, and two congressmen are taking it to Ashcroft and possibly to federal court.

I can see why some weblogs I read refer to that state as Hell Florida. Couldn't we just give the state to Cuba?

Maybe it's the Citibank bird

I was doing my online banking when I saw this in the right margin:


That's about what ours looks like.

Bird likes Bruckner

The bird seems to like Bruckner

... but he really, really likes Golden Boy and Miss Kittin. He started whistling and singing after hearing her "rap".

Depressing Afghan women post of the day

The Afghan Supreme Court has dismissed a female judge for not wearing an Islamic headscarf during a meeting with President Bush and his wife last month, government sources said on Saturday.

Marzeya Basil was among a group of 14 female government officials who attended computer and management courses in Washington at the invitation of the U.S. government and who met Bush and his wife, Laura.

To repeat myself: I don't want to keep hearing about how we bombed the hell out of an already crushed country because we cared about its women.

Despite a shortage of qualified Arabic linguists in the intelligence and defense fields, the Army has fired a significant number of trained language specialists from the military’s Defense Language Institute, or DLI, in Monterey, Calif., because they are gay.

Lower Manhattan

After making a brunch stop to get our invitations to The Civilians benefit on December 9, we headed downtown for two of LMCC's current projects.

The first, called Looking In, consists of quite a few site-specific installations on the ground floor of a new luxury rental building at 50 Murray Street. We mainly went to visit with Nancy Hwang. For the current project (through November 9), you can make a reservation by or telephone (917-887-9892) to spend time with her for a nice chat, with free tea or coffee and pastries from Ceci-Cela. Drop-ins are also welcome if she's not already busy with someone. One of these events was how I first met Nancy. Whether you can schedule a visit with her or not, the art is worth seeing, and you can go anytime, since it's all in windows and other spaces on the ground floor of the building.

Afterward, we went to see New Views: World Financial Center, the successor to their WTC studio residency. I went mainly to see Charles Goldman's work, but the whole things is really great. I used to work in the WTC, and later in the WFC, and it's a very refreshing change to see good art in those hallways. So much of the time public art exhibits are very dissapointing. My other favorite works in the show were the videos by Pia Lindman, but all of the work was of really high quality.

C. Mazzalupo / H. Nolan / Parakeet

The parakeet is resting quietly in its cage. Suggestions for what we should name it are welcome. James's take on the whole thing is here.

We went to an opening at M3 Projects in DUMBO for Christina Mazzalupo and Harry Nolan. We have several works by Christina, and I've been watching Mr. Nolan since we first saw his work in a big Mixed Greens show in Williamsburg in 2001. He was also in the first show at Plus Ultra (titled "Skank"), one of my favorite Williamsburg galleries.

If you go to the show, I highly recommend starting with Christina's big wall of works on paper before you look at her paintings. Those contain her ruminations on Atlantis, alchemy, and other myths -- mostly from Internet sources -- without which the paintings are a bit baffling. Harry's examinations of the imagery of war are quite powerful. My favorite work is titled "Debriefing", with images inspired by Operation Anaconda.

My regular visits to DUMBO and Williamsburg make me feel that Manhattan is pricing itself out of being interesting.

After the opening, we went to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Bistrot Margot. It's the anti-Nolita restaurant -- an oasis from the Mercedes SUV-driving trendoids that make that neighborhood so annoying. As we walked back to the subway, we passed a former cyber cafe that I remember from when I worked in Soho in the late 90s. It's now empty, with a single payphone hanging on the wall.

Parakeet in the House

This just flew into our apartment. Updates to follow.

Deric Carner

Deric Carner, an artist who amuses me greatly, has just updated his web site. Go take a look.

He's also a great print or web designer, for those looking for a designer...

Just trying to be fair by making sure people see this.

I have never argued that attacks on civilians are justifiable. I think it really lowers the world's view of the Palestinian struggle.

I hope "There will always be an England"

Harry Hay

Even though I'm posting a lot, I'm still not finding time for everything I want to mention. I was very remiss in not talking about the passing of gay hero and activist Harry Hay. James has several good posts about him.

Buy Bush a Playstation

It's already too late to donate.

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