Thursday, February 07, 2008

Anglican Church Predicts Sharia Law
For Parts Of Britain

Dr. Rowan Williams, head of communion for England's Anglican Church, says that it is "unavoidable" that Islamic Sharia law will be adopted in parts of the country and that a "reasonable accommodation" must be made over the issue.
"It seems unavoidable and, as a matter of fact, certain conditions of Sharia are already recognised in our society and under our law, so it is not as if we are bringing in an alien and rival system," said Dr Williams.

"There is a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law as we already do with aspects of other kinds of religious law.

"It would be quite wrong to say that we could ever license a system of law for some community which gave people no right of appeal, no way of exercising the rights that are guaranteed to them as citizens in general.

"But there are ways of looking at marital disputes, for example, which provide an alternative to the divorce courts as we understand them. In some cultural and religious settings they would seem more appropriate."
There are almost as many variants of Sharia law as there are Islamic sects, but a few of the laws in Mohammed's hit parade include a ban on all intoxicants, pork, tobacco, and pornography. Criminals are subject to amputations of hands or feet. In many places, women are not allowed to hold prominent jobs and are forbidden to work in government.

Homosexuality is punishable by death.

And here's where we resurrect the Bruce Bawer debate.....

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The Pet Psychic

The Grill, First Avenue, 1pm

Wild-Eyed Man: Your dog is looking at me. Make him stop.

Woman With Corgi: I can't help it if he looks at you.

WEM (Shouting at dog): You don't know me! You don't know SHIT!

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Equal Rights & Appletinis

HRC head Joe Solmonese appeared on The Colbert Report last night and played "straight" man to Steve Colbert's usual convolutedly hilarious logic. Here's Part 1 of Solmonese's bit.

Part 2 will air tonight.

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Romney Drops Out

ABC News is reporting that Mitt Romney is dropping out of the presidential race. His announcement will come shortly at the CPAC conference in Washington, DC. With the increasing chumminess between McCain and Huckabee, it appears that the Republican side may be settled.

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Make Thee Sharp Knives

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled that a mother who didn't like the way her baby's circumcision looked cannot sue a Fridley hospital for medical malpractice.

Dawn Nelson sued Unity Hospital and Dr. Steven Berestka, claiming the doctor removed "the most erogenous tissue" after the boy was born on Jan. 21, 2000—without consulting either parent. Nelson and the boy's father, David Nelson, were unhappy with the result.

But the Appeals Court noted in its Tuesday decision that the mother indicated on a prenatal form that the baby should be circumcised. Attorney Zenas Baer, who is representing the mother and son, said he was disappointed with the court ruling.

Dawn Nelson initially sued the doctor, alleging assault and battery and negligence. That claim was settled separately. The claims against Unity Hospital and its parent company, Allina Health System, went forward.

Nelson claimed the hospital had a duty to verify that the doctor obtained informed consent and she claimed the hospital had been deceptive or misleading in its informed consent policy.

A Hennepin County judge disagreed and dismissed the case. The appellate court affirmed the lower court decision. As for the child, another surgeon "performed a revision for cosmetic purposes" shortly after the initial circumcision, the ruling said.

Mark Whitmore, an Allina attorney, said the company was pleased with the ruling.

According to Baer's Web site, he "contributes substantial amounts of time to ending the barbaric practice of routine infant male circumcision worldwide, insuring genital integrity for all citizens of the world."
I'm an agnostic on the cut/uncut issue, but I am rather devout on the "pretty" issue.

(Thanks to JMG tipper Roger.)

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Breaking News: Cher Has Gay Fans

"On every list, I was always on my way out. Gay men understand that I understand what it's like to be an outsider. To singers, I wasn't a singer. To actors, I wasn't an actor. I know what it's like to fight for your place. Besides, gay men are very choosy, and they have great taste." - Cher, telling USA Today why she's proud to be a gay icon.

On being 61: "How did this happen? I used to be the youngest one around. I remember talking to my grandmother when she was in her 80s, and I said, 'How does it feel?' She said, 'I only notice it when I go to the mirror.' She was up for anything. So am I. I'd better do what I can do while I can do it."

Watching the pop starlets of today aggressively court the gay male audience, I often wonder if they are truly feeling the love for the gays. Or... have they have merely looked at the short list of female pop stars whose careers successfully span decades and noted that the one thing those artists have in common is rabidly adoring gay male fans?

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Hillary Running Out Of Money

Hillary Clinton's campaign is running out money. Yesterday it was revealed that she has just "loaned" her campaign $5M and that senior staff members have "volunteered" to go without a salary this month.

Clinton: "I loaned the campaign $5 million from my money. That’s where I got the money. I loaned it because I believe very strongly in this campaign. We had a great month fundraising in January, broke all records, but my opponent was able to raise more money. And we intended to be competitive, and we were. And I think the results last night proved the wisdom of my investment."

Pam Spaulding isn't buying it: "I always wonder why politicians even bother with BS like this; it only adds to the impression we have that they think we're stupid. You wouldn't need to loan your campaign any cash unless you're cash-strapped. Sound familiar? Rudy Giuliani dealt just as poorly with this scenario in the waning days of his campaign, declaring the staff pay cuts were voluntary and they were showing their loyalty and belief in the former NY mayor's campaign. We know how that ended up. Can't they just be straight up with folks?"

From TMP Election Central: "The revelation suggests another emerging dynamic in the race: Now that the campaigns are committed to grinding it out for weeks and weeks, perhaps all the way until the convention. The Hillary camp faces the prospect of being dramatically outspent by the Obama campaign, which has enjoyed huge fundraising success. In January, for instance, Obama raised $32 million -- well over double the $13.5 million Hillary raised in the same month. This perhaps explains the self-financing loan at the end of last month."

Do the Clintons have enough personal wealth to keep up with Obama's seemingly bottomless internet ATM?

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Donatello/O'Neil '08!

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Open Thread Thursday

OMG! Where you at? A/S/L? LOL!!1!!!


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Obama On Clinton

"I assure you that having engaged in a contest against them for the last year that they've pulled out all the stops. And you know I think what is absolutely true is whoever the Democratic nominee is the Republicans will go after them. The notion that somehow Senator Clinton is going to be immune from attack or there's not a whole dump truck they can't back up in a match between her and John McCain is just not true." - Barack Obama, responding to Hillary Clinton's statement that she would not allow herself to be swift-boated in the manner in which John Kerry was in 2004.

Obama added: "I have no doubt that I can get the people who vote for Senator Clinton. ... It's not clear that Senator Clinton can get all the people I'm getting."

Next up on the primary schedule: Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington vote on Saturday; Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia on Tuesday.

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California Supreme Court To Hear Gay Marriage Suit On March 4th

The California Supreme Court announced today that they will hear arguments over the state's ban on gay marriage on March 4th in San Francisco.

The three-hour hearing will consider a 2004 lawsuit filed on behalf of Equality California, the Our Family Coalition, and 15 same-sex couples denied marriage under the ballot measure approved by voters in 2000. Oral arguments will be presented by Shannon Price Minter of the National Center For Lesbian Rights, with co-counsel provided by the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and two private law firms.

When the lawsuits were first filed in 2004, a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled that denying all Californians the right to marry was in violation of the state constitution. That ruling was then overturned by the Court of Appeals. Shortly after that, the state Supreme Court agreed to review the suits to consider the constitutional issue. Dozens of California municipalities and counties and more than 250 religious and civil rights organizations have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of marriage equality. The Supreme Court usually issues their decision within ninety days of a hearing.

The California legislature defined marriage as between a man and a woman in 1977. It was that legislation that the voters reaffirmed in 2000. Since then, led by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-SF), the state legislature has twice passed measures that would permit gay couples to marry, most recently in 2007, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed both bills, saying that the matter was for the state Supreme Court to decide, which will now finally happen. The March 4th hearing will be carried live on the California Channel.

Even if the Supreme Court rules favorably on the side of marriage equality, conservative and religious groups are already planning a new ballot initiative to write a ban on same-sex marriage into the state constitution and to overturn existing domestic partners laws.

And round and round we go.

It's unclear to me how soon after a favorable ruling that gay couples could marry. Can somebody help clarify this? I suspect that as in Massachusetts, once the dam is broken and the world continue to keep spinning, opponents will have a very tough battle for a new initiative.

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Ghosts In The Machine

Even though MetroNorth runs trains past 2am, by 12:30am Monday night, I found Grand Central almost completely deserted. In thousands of visits, I've never seen it like this. Eerily beautiful. I could actually hear the echo of my footsteps. This month, PBS's American Experience devotes an hour to the history of Grand Central Terminal, calling it "the greatest station of any type in the world." It's certainly my favorite public space in NYC. The PBS documentary runs several times this month.

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Fox News Headline Of The Year

(Via - Language Log) Thanks to JMG tipper, James.

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Feds To Announce $1B
Biometric Tracking Program

The Minority Report is coming true.
The FBI is gearing up to create a massive computer database of people's physical characteristics, all part of an effort the bureau says to better identify criminals and terrorists.

The FBI wants to use eye scans, combined with other data, to help identify suspects. But it's an issue that raises major privacy concerns -- what one civil liberties expert says should concern all Americans.

The bureau is expected to announce in coming days the awarding of a $1 billion, 10-year contract to help create the database that will compile an array of biometric information -- from palm prints to eye scans.

Kimberly Del Greco, the FBI's Biometric Services section chief, said adding to the database is "important to protect the borders to keep the terrorists out, protect our citizens, our neighbors, our children so they can have good jobs, and have a safe country to live in."

But it's unnerving to privacy experts.

"It's the beginning of the surveillance society where you can be tracked anywhere, any time and all your movements, and eventually all your activities will be tracked and noted and correlated," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Technology and Liberty Project.
Fly Clear was just the beginning.

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Ass Wednesday

Karl Rove started his new gig at Fox News yesterday.
Rove has been contributing opinion pieces to The Wall Street Journal, which also belongs to Murdoch's NewsCorp, and will debut on the television network with live coverage on Tuesday of the biggest day of the presidential primary election season, Fox said on Monday.
Talking Points Memo described Rove's new job as "an interdepartmental transfer." Snork!

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Bad Day For The Tabloids

The New York City medical examiner has just ruled that Heath Ledger's death was due to "accidental overdose of prescription drugs." Not a suicide. Not a heroin or cocaine overdose. The tabloids weep.

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HomoQuotable - Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan, October 30th: "Allowing this guy [Donnie McClurkin] to preach strikes me as a step far too far. [snip] I don't blame any gay American for jumping the Obama ship over it."

Andrew Sullivan, February 6th: "They [California gays] go for Clinton by 2 to 1 in the exit polls. Will they never learn?"

Well, which is it, Andrew?

Weighing the many pros and many cons of Hillary and Obama, the Donnie McClurkin incident was certainly my deciding factor. And Andrew, what's this "they" jazz?

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The Donnie McClurkin Effect?
Hillary Wins CA Gay Vote 2-1

As expected, yesterday's Super Tuesday primary did little to reveal a clear Democratic frontrunner. Hillary Clinton took eight states including the biggest: California and New York. Barack Obama took 13 states, including Illinois, his home state.


Clinton's big win in California came via women, older voters, Latinos, and gays - who voted Hillary by more than a 2-1 margin there, taking 60% to Obama's 25%. I knew that Clinton would win the gays, but didn't anticipate such a huge margin.

It's still a horse race, 2025 delegates are needed to secure the nomination.

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Haggard Quits Re-Straightifying Program

The new pastor at Denver's New Life Church, former home to Ted Haggard, has issued a press release announcing that Haggard has requested to leave the team created to "restore" him as a Jeebus-fearing breeder and that as Haggard's restoration is "incomplete", he is not welcome to return to New Life. It appears that the best brainwashers in the business have failed with their most famous subject.

Via Colorado Confidential:
Brady Boyd
Senior Pastor
New Life Church
Colorado Springs, CO


Ted Haggard's leadership of New Life Church for many years was extraordinary and the depth of spiritual maturity that is found today in the church is in large part attributed to his leadership as the founding senior pastor.

In January 2007, Ted Haggard voluntarily agreed to enter a process of spiritual restoration. He has selected Phoenix First Assembly and Pastor Tommy Barnett as his local church fellowship and is maintaining an accountability relationship there. He has recently requested to end his official relationship with the New Life Church Restoration Team and this has been accepted by them.

New Life Church recognizes the process of restoring Ted Haggard is incomplete and maintains its original stance that he should not return to vocational ministry. However, we wish him and his family only success in the future.

Because spiritual restoration is a necessarily confidential process, the church does not anticipate that it, or its Overseers or Restorers will make further comment about it.
Could it be that Haggard has been unable to give up the menz? Should we be alarmed by the prospect of Haggard finally coming out, however unlikely? Would you welcome him to the family? It would certainly prove an interesting experiment to see the wingnut reaction, not to mention the spin gay activists might put on such an outcome.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Broadway Backwards 3

In which my journey towards full-blown theater queen
approaches Platinum Level....

Last night I attended the fantastic Broadway Backwards 3, the annual benefit for the NYC LGBT Community Center in which Broadway stars perform classic musical theater numbers from a gay perspective - changing pronouns or singing numbers written for characters of the opposite sex. The cast (and the audience!) was a Broadway who's-who not seen outside of the Tony Awards. This year marks the 25th anniversary for the Center.

Some of the performers:
Neil Patrick Harris (TV's "How I Met Your Mother"); Tony Award Winners Gary Beach (The Producers) and Len Cariou (Sweeny Todd); Tony Award nominees Brooks Ashmanskas (Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me), Charles Busch (The Tale of the Allergist's Wife), Sandy Duncan (TV's "The Hogan Family," Peter Pan), Malcolm Gets (TV's "Caroline in the City," Amour), and Lainie Kazan (My Favorite Year); Cheyenne Jackson (Xanadu, All Shook Up); Kerry Butler (Xanadu); Anthony Rapp (Rent); Ann Harada (Avenue Q); Julie HalstonGypsy); Michelle Blakely (Annie Get Your Gun); Aaron Lazar (The Light in the Piazza); Tituss Burgess (The Little Mermaid); David Burtka (Gypsy); Tastiskank (Broadway duo of Kate Reinders and Sarah Litzsinger); Karen Mason (Mamma Mia!); Julia Murney (Lennon, Wicked); Jen Colella (High Fidelity); Jose Llana (...Spelling Bee, Rent); Disney's Ariel in The Little Mermaid, Sierra Boggess; and more.
The show was created and directed by Robert Bartley and this year actually played on Broadway in the American Airlines Theater, which was donated by the Roundabout Theatre Company. Co-chairs for the event were the legendary playwright Terrence McNally and composer John Kander.

Emceed by manic man Seth Rudestsky (above left), twenty-one numbers were performed to simple, yet effective and often quite emotional staging. Some personal highlights:

-Lainie Kazan's (left) torchy The Gal That Got Away, from A Star Is Born.
- Neil Patrick Harris and his boyfriend David Burtka singing Take Me Or Leave Me, from Rent. Funny and very sexy.
- Charles Busch's (above right) lovely rendition of The Music That Makes Me Dance, from Funny Girl.
- Little Mermaid lead Sierra Boggess flipping her own show's Kiss The Girl as A Chorus Line's Jessica Lee Goldyn danced for her. Bonus: simulated muff-diving! From a Disney star!
- Len Cariou's (right) moving take on Send In The Clowns from A Little Night Music, which Cariou revealed was originally to be his number in the show.
- Mermaid's Sebastian The Crab, Tituss Burgess ripping the roof off with Maybe This Time from Cabaret. Liza with a Z, Tituss with a T!
- The male ensemble, lead by the impossibly sexy Danny Beiruti and Kevin Reed stripping on stage to I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair from South Pacific. Shower scene! Ripped almost-nekkid hotties! Also: singing.
- The hilarious Brooks Ashmanskas (think a Nathan Lane/Paul Lynde combo), who wowed me in The Ritz, rocking the house with I Want It All, from Baby. I would see anything Brooks Ashmanskas does.
-The closing number, Suddenly Seymour from Little Shop Of Horrors, performed by Anthony Rapp, Cheyenne Jackson and the full ensemble.

See? Platinum status.

After the show, Broadway Backwards publicist Cathy Renna finagled my entry to the cast and "big donors" post-party (open bar, hello) in the rooftop lounge of the theater where my press pass allowed me to elbow into the crowd of TV crews and print journalists jostling for shots and interviews. So there's me with my digicam and them with their fancy big-boy cameras. Sweet. Uh, except I totally walked into the shot while some network was interviewing Cheyenne Jackson. Big, big oops.

ABOVE: Tituss Burgess and Andrea McArdle.ABOVE: Julie Halston, Ann Harada, Charis Leos, Kathryn Kendall. (In what order, though?)ABOVE: Anthony Rapp and Neil Patrick Harris.ABOVE: David Burtka, LGBT Center executive director Richard Burns (sticking his tongue out at me!) and Neil Patrick Harris.ABOVE: Director Robert Bartley.ABOVE: Terrence McNally and his partner Tom Kirdahy, the chair of the the 25h anniversary committee for the LGBT Center.

Just a wonderful, perfect evening for the LGBT Center. Big thanks to Cathy Renna for schmoozing me, Theater Mania photographer Joe for playing Andrea to my Miranda Priestly by pointing out major players unknown to me, and my elusive buddy, writer Josh Moss (right) for being his usual funny self.

More coverage: Photo recap from Theatre Mania. Photo recap, review, and set list from Broadway World.

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Paper Trail

Watching the New York Giants roll through the Canyon of Heroes in this morning's ticker-tape parade, the first such NYC event since 9/11, it's more than a little disquieting to watch thousands of pieces of paper tumble from lower Manhattan's skyscrapers.

That image is so vividly seared into the brains of New Yorkers (and the rest of the world), it's almost hard to focus on the celebration at hand. Still, count today as one more baby step in Gotham's probably permanent couch therapy. It's a good thing.

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DOJ Approves Gay Employee Group

A fascinating change of policy at the Department Of Justice:
Five years after a gay advocacy group was told that it could no longer use the e-mail, bulletin boards and meeting rooms at the Justice Department, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey has reversed that decision and issued a revised equal-employment-opportunity policy barring discrimination against any group.

Mukasey informed leaders of DOJ Pride last week that the department would give it the same rights as all other DOJ employee organizations, said the group's president, Chris Hook. In a statement, Mukasey said the department will "foster an environment in which diversity is valued, understood and sought" and maintain "an environment that's free of discrimination."

DOJ Pride and its 110 members had been barred from holding an annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Month celebration since 2003, when then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft told the group that the Bush administration observed an unwritten policy of not sponsoring events without a presidential proclamation, Hook said. The group also was told it could not post notices of general meetings and events on department bulletin boards, he said.
DOJ Pride president Chris Hook says about Attorney General Mukasey: "He has gone out of his way to ensure that the department has a new air of inclusiveness and an open and welcoming environment for all employees." Kinda unexpected, innit?.

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Hillary Guest Posts On LGBT Blog

Hillary Clinton has guest posted on The Bilerico Project, the country's largest group LBGT blog where dozens of prominent gay activists contribute.

An excerpt:

"As I have traveled around the country these past twelve months, what I sensed in my heart has been confirmed – America is embracing its LGBT sons and daughters with an acceptance and understanding as never before. On the campaign trail, a father of a gay son will ask about ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. A woman will ask why she can be discriminated against just because of who she is. Sometimes they wait furtively for the crowd to thin and then whisper their confidences in a soft voice and sometimes they stand up proudly at town meetings and want me to share my views on how I will help lead the change to assure that this country fulfills its promise to everyone.

"Let me tell you what I have been telling voters across America. I am fully committed to the fair and equal treatment of LGBT Americans. For seven long years, the Bush Administration has tried to divide us - only seeing people who matter to them. It's been a government of the few, by the few, and for the few. And no community has been more invisible to this administration than the LGBT community."

Read the rest of the post, in which Clinton talks about pride parades, HIV, and Matthew Shepard. And good for Bilerico editor Bil Browning for getting the statement. Let's see if Obama does the same.

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Morning View - Upper East Side

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Caption This

(Photo via Princess Sparkle Pony.)


Yes We Can Can

In reference to the clip below this one, I'm surprised that the Obama campaign hasn't co-opted the Pointer Sisters' 1973 classic first single, Yes We Can Can, from before they became a trio and veered into largely forgettable (but enormously successful) pop-disco. Yes We Can Can was originally recorded by Lee Dorsey in 1970 and the Pointers took it to #11 on the pop chart. This live clip features a funky drum solo from the legendary Gaylord Birch.

Trivia: In 1975, the Pointer Sisters first Grammy was for Best Country Western Vocal Performance for Fairytale, a tune later covered by many country artists including Elvis Presley. The Pointers were the first black female artists ever to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.

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Obamarock: Yes We Can

More candidate rock, this one produced by Will.I.Am of Black Eyed Peas. Of the two dozen or so performers, I only recognized Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Herbie Hancock, and the wheelchair guy from Oz. Shows how I keep up. This is compelling bit of art and I have to admit it gave me goosebumps.

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HomoQuotable - Bob Mould

"I have a very small life now. Literally, this street, down ten blocks, then two streets each way, it's a box, and that's my whole life. Inside this box, I'm comfortable and safe. I have a room I work in at home that's a special place to me. But the rest of D.C. is weird, because both the military and the government are based here -- aggression and deception. And it takes a certain kind of person to move here to work in the industries of aggression and deception.

"The best is when I go to some upscale bar and guys come up to me and ask what I do -- to me, this is the "district line" in D.C., always the first question. So I say I'm a musician, and they say, "Oh, can you make a living at that?" and walk away. If they only knew the things I've done and will continue to do. So my life is really simple inside of a very complex, bizarre place." - Bob Mould, talking to Spin Magazine about his life in DC and explaining the title of District Line, his new album, due out tomorrow. You can stream the tracks of District Line on Mould's MySpace page.

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Huckabee's Girl

"Riding on a Jesus-horse, you and me." Is this same chick that did Obama Girl? This is the best so far of the increasingly large genre of candidate-rock.

(Via - By The Bayou.)

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New Demographic: Gay Grandparents

The Philadelphia Inquirer published a sweet story about gay grandparents yesterday.
"Lesbian grandmother" or "gay grandpa" used to sound like a contradiction in terms. But now gay grandfolk are a quietly emerging demographic - men and women who married in the 1960s and '70s, had children, and came out later, sometimes only after their children were grown.

There's still no grandparent equivalent of the children's picture book Heather Has Two Mommies. But a recent novel, Grampa Jack, chronicles a gay grandfather's fight for custody of his 6-year-old grandson. And an online boutique sells kids' T-shirts emblazoned with the words "I love my. . .trailblazing. . .woman-loving. . .out and proud grandma."

"There is a growing number of gay grandparents who are looking for ways to explain to their grandchildren who they are and who they love," said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council.

Even the youngest gay and lesbian grandparents, those in their early 50s, can remember the Stonewall riots that kick-started the gay civil rights movement in 1969. In 40 years, the world has changed. And so have they.
I have a couple of gay grampas in my circle of friends. They are all much older than me, of course. Uh, although, if a certain incident had gone a different way for me in 1979, I'd guess I'd probably be one now too.

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Do You Double Dip?

If yesterday's Super Bowl party has left your gut in distress, a Clemson professor says you might blame the double-dippers.
Last year the food microbiologist's undergraduate students examined the effects of double dipping using volunteers, wheat crackers and several sample dips. They found that three to six double dips transferred about 10,000 bacteria from an eater's mouth to the remaining dip sample.
Unlike George Costanza, I never double-dip. If anybody's looking.


Operation Frozen Grand Central

Improv Everywhere struck again, this time with a couple of hundred "agents" who, on cue, froze in place for five minutes at Grand Central Terminal. One of their more amusing pranks. I seriously gotta do the next one.

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According to the latest Gallup national poll, Clinton and Obama are effectively tied going into tomorrow's primary. You gotta admit, this has been quite the exciting primary season.

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Gay Couples Advance In NY, Oregon
Florida Haters Make Ballot

A state appellate court has ruled that all public and private employers in New York must now recognize same-sex couples legally married elsewhere.
A New York appellate court ruled Friday that valid out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples must be legally recognized in New York, just as the law recognizes those of heterosexual couples solemnized elsewhere. Lawyers for both sides said the ruling applied to all public and private employers in the state.

Even though gay couples may not legally marry in New York, the appellate court in Rochester held that a gay couple’s 2004 marriage in Canada must be respected under the state’s longstanding “marriage recognition rule,” and that an employer’s denial of health benefits had discriminated against the couple on the basis of their sexual orientation.
And in Oregon:
A state law allowing gay couples to register as domestic partners belatedly took effect Friday after a federal judge ruled the state's process of disqualifying petition signatures was consistent enough to be valid.

The state quickly announced that the domestic partnership applications were available online, and jubilant gay-rights activists predicted hundreds of couples would line up on Monday morning at county offices to register.
One bit of bad news: thanks to a last minute push outside polling places during last week's primary, the haters in Florida did succeed in getting enough signatures to put an anti-gay marriage amendment on this year's ballot.

Two steps forward, one step back. But a good start to the week, overall.

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Virginia Is For (Twink) Lovers

Responding to "citizen complaints" about this in-store poster, Virginia Beach police charged the manager of the local Abercrombie & Fitch outlet with displaying "obscene materials in a business that is open to juveniles." Police say they only acted after store management refused to heed previous warnings. The cops took the poster away to use it as, uh, evidence. Yeah, that's it. Evidence.

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Manhattan Monday

- It's raining men. And scaffolding. And concrete. Construction workers are falling out of the sky on almost a weekly basis these days. Manhattan's high-rise boom has created an 83% spike in construction accidents over the last year.

- Despite what my Punjabi cabbie told me last week, it looks like NYC's massive Indian community is voting Clinton, as are many new citizens around Gotham.

- Approved by the state traffic commission: Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan. Although only 5% of Manhattan's commuters drive to work, the plan (which must now be approved by the state legislature) will charge drivers $8 to drive below 60th Street on weekdays between 6am and 6pm.

- Verizon admits to overcharging NY'ers $14M on those little surcharges that crowd the bottom of your bill. That's what they admit to, anyhow. Them pennies add up.

- DKNY tackily usurps the Ghost Bike memorials to cyclists killed by cars.

- Barista-free: new LES coffee joint makes your java with computers and pneumatic tubes. Mmmm, tubey.

- An 80-story Four Seasons hotel designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects will go up near Ground Zero. The building will include 143 "super-luxury" condos, some of which will exceed 6500 square feet. Construction to finish in three years, condos to sell out immediately, of course.

If you're apartment hunting, the 2007 year-end Manhattan rental recap is out.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

East Rutherford Giants Win Super Bowl

The Super Bowl was pretty exciting this year, wasn't it? My back is bothering me a bit so I watched the game at home with Shelter Kitty. She liked the team in the aubergine blouses (she's that gay), but I was happy to see the New Jersey York Giants win it. Plus, the Miami Dolphins get to keep their perfect season record. Speaking of which, upon hearing that the Patriots had already trademarked the expression "19-0", the New York Post trademarked "18-1". Snork!

When the Giants won in '87, then mayor Ed Koch called the team "foreigners" and wouldn't allow a victory parade in Manhattan because the team actually plays across the Hudson River in New Jersey. That position would be contrary to Mayor Bloomberg's welcoming stance on immigrants, so on Tuesday the Giants will have their parade along the "Canyon of Heroes", a stretch along Broadway from the Customs House to City Hall.

What was your favorite commercial? I liked the one where the tow-truck driver attached jumper cables to his nipples. Somehow, I can't recall what the product was.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

I Will Hold You Ten Times

As longtime readers may know, there are four or five JMG entries that I repost every year. My dear friend Daniel Johnson, who threw the most kickass Groundhog's Day birthday parties for himself, would have been 51 years old today. His was a life that burned brightly and I am illuminated still. Daniel Johnson, 1957-1997.

I Will Hold You Ten Times

1. I will hold you, Daniel

2. The lesions don't bother me. I will hold you.

3. I will pretend nothing is wrong when you want me to pretend and when you want me to hold you, I will hold you.

4. I will make plans with you to go to your favorite places that we both know you can no longer go and I will sit with you and look at your pictures of these places and I will hold you.

5. I will ride with you on the train to your doctor's office and when you get sick in the station, I will hold you.

6. I will see the Post-It notes you put all over the house reminding yourself to do everyday things like "Turn off stove" and "Lock front door", and I'll pretend the disease isn't robbing your mind and when you tell me something for the third time in ten minutes, I won't let you know, I will hold you.

7. I will go to Safeway with you because you need to get out into the world, and when the diarrhea overwhelms you and you shit your pants in the middle of the store, I will call us a cab and in the cab, I will hold you.

8. I will make you mix-tapes of our favorite songs from last summer, just like you asked me to, and when the memories make you sad instead of happy and you throw the tapes in the trash, I won't get angry, I will hold you.

9. I will sit up all night with you because the fevers and night sweats won't let you sleep. In the morning, I'll change your drenched sheets and help your out of the shower and when you weep from the sight of your withered body in the mirror on the bathroom door, I will hold you.

10. I will hold you, Daniel.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Janet - Rock With U

Let's close out today's 80's icons love fest with some Janet Jackson. Island hasn't sent me the track yet, so head over to Janet's site where a pop-up player will stream her next two singles, Rock With U (not a remake of MJ's song by the same name, thankfully) and Luv.

Man, I freekin' love the Rock With U track. Get that? I like a new pop single. The album, Discipline, comes out Feb. 26th. The single isn't available yet, but if you pre-order the album on iTunes, you get Rock With U on Feb.5th. Interesting tactic.

Somehow I don't think Paula Abdul's Super Bowl performance this weekend will live on in pop culture history like Janet's has. Who was the last pop star to give the world a catchphrase as enduring as "wardrobe malfunction"?

UNRELATED: Next month GLAAD gives Janet their 2008 Vanguard Award.

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Operator, Get Me Jeebus On The Line

My landline has been getting drilled all week by a telemarketer with a blocked ID. I don't pick up for blocked callers, but Google reveals that the number, 866-266-6277, is owned by United American Technologies. From Wikipedia:
The telemarketing campaign, run by a nonprofit organization called "Faith, Family and Freedom" begins its pitch by asking the callee if they were opposed to same sex marriage. If the callee responds positively, they are then transferred to a United American Technologies representative who will explain to them how the more common telephone service providers, such as AT&T, MCI and Verizon are supporters of gay marriage and child pornography, and that United American Technologies is "the only carrier that is taking an active stand against same sex marriages and hardcore child pornography".

"Faith, Family and Freedom" is a 527 organization created by Lance Cargill, the Republican floor leader of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. A percentage of the profits from each caller who switched to UAT would be directed back to the 527 to pay for conservative political campaigns.
I cannot fucking wait for them to call again. "Praise Jeebus! I luuuuuuve hardcore child pornography! Here, let me put my daughter on so she call tell you all about it." It also occurs to me that softcore kiddie porn must be OK with these Christers. By the way, this company must be having some success, Wonkette blogged about this campaign back in 2005.

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Microsoft Bids For Yahoo

Microsoft has made a $44B bid for Yahoo!, which has been struggling of late and is set to lay off over 1000 employees.
Microsoft said the booming online advertising market "is increasingly dominated by one player" -- a reference to Google -- and suggested that with Yahoo under its wing it could better compete in the bonanza.

Online advertising sales will double from 40 billion dollars in 2007 "to nearly 80 billion in 2010," it forecast. Yahoo would offer Microsoft a search engine to compete with Google, a popular web portal for email, shopping and news, as well as one of the most recognized brands among online users. Microsoft said a combination of the companies would lead to cost savings of 1.0 billion dollars per year.
Garsh, I hope this helps Microsoft finally make some money. Seriously though, just about anything that further pushes the wealth of Bill Gates, the single greatest philanthropist in the history of mankind, is more than fine by me.

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Broadway Friday

- The Broadway test run at Carnegie Hall of London smash Jerry Springer: The Opera was well received by most. But not by gossip columnist Cindy Adams: "Jerry Springer - the Opera is filth. The dregs. Despicable, debasing, disgusting, degrading, dehumanizing, revolting, repugnant, repulsive, frightful, awful, disgraceful, discreditable, shameful, terrible, horrible, horrendous, horrific, nauseating, offensive, depraved, loathsome, vile. It is taking a roll in a sewer. It is the pits. The lowest. The slimiest. You not only need a bath after, you need an exterminator. This puke played a two-nighter at Carnegie Hall? Carnegie Hall?"

- Morgan Freeman and Frances McDormand will star in Clifford Odet's The Country Girl, set to play a limited engagement on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre beginning Thursday, April 3rd. Mike Nichols will direct.

- The surviving original cast members of A Chorus Line (1976) have reached an agreement with the estate of director Michael Bennett. They will now receive a portion of the proceeds from the current Broadway revival of the show and all future productions by the company. "The artists who were in the forefront of these discussions include Tony Award-winning actresses Kelly Bishop (the original "Sheila") and Donna McKechnie (the original "Cassie"), as well as Priscilla Lopez (the original "Diana"), Robert LuPone (the original "Zach"), Tony Stevens and Michon Peacock."

- Broadway bound: a revival of Brigadoon. It's almost like being in love.

- Bernadette Peters' book Broadway Barks is due April 28th. The book includes a CD featuring a reading of the story and an original tune written and performed by two-time Tony winner Peters. Via Amazon: "In a park in New York City lives a lonely little dog. He remembers when he used to get taken for walks, fed dinner every night, and told he was a good dog. Now, he's all alone and must fend for himself. But everything changes one day when he sees a lady reading in the park and decides to follow her—all the way to a place where he might become a star!" Broadway Barks is the annual pet rescue fundraiser founded by Peters and Mary Tyler Moore.


Coulter: I'll Campaign For Clinton If McCain Is GOP Nominee. Elsewhere: Satan Places Order For Parka, Space Heater

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Mistake Number Three

Since we're talking Boy George today, I thought I'd put up my personal favorite, Mistake Number Three, from 1984's Waking Up With The House On Fire. Rumor at the time was that "mistake number three" was the girl that Jon Moss was then pursuing. Mistakes one and two were the two times that Moss and George had been boyfriends. So the folklore went, in 1984 at least. This track really showcases the Boy's gorgeous Smokey Robinson-like sound. Hey, remember beautiful, elaborate, memorable music videos?

Mistake Number Three reached #33 on the Billboard singles chart.

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Afternoon View - 33rd & Broadway

The odds of me leaving my nice new umbrella on the train when the temp is around 40 and rain is blowing sideways in icy sheets: 100%. Now I have another crap $3 street-vendor umbrella. Also 100%: the odds of not remembering to put the client proposal in something waterproof. Damn canvas bag.


Monkey Meat & Machetes

Right-wing radio blowhard Michael Savage took issue with the AIDS plan Dubya announced during his State of the Union address on Tuesday. Via Media Matters:
On The Savage Nation, a caller identified by Michael Savage as "Kojo" asked Savage: "[D]o you know how the AIDS got there [Africa]?" Savage responded: "It got there because it was spread from eating green monkey meat, my friend. If you study the science -- but I don't think you have the capacity to understand science, my dear friend Kojo." Later, Savage stated: "See, we don't live in Africa where people settle arguments with machetes. We live in a country where we settle it with arguments. Something you apparently don't know anything about. ... Couldn't use the machete so his mind went blank. There, that's what we got. There's multiculturalism for you. There's immigration for you. There's the new America for you. Bring them in by the millions. Bring in 10 million more from Africa. Bring them in with AIDS. Show how multicultural you are. They can't reason, but bring them in with a machete in their head. Go ahead. Bring them in with machetes in their mind.

We're not supposed to criticize the president because he wants to send $45 billion to that corrupt continent -- for AIDS, which is a behavioral disease. It can be controlled only by behavior, not by money. Oh, education has really worked for the AIDS epidemic in America. It's really stopped the homosexual community from interacting in their well-known manners."
Incidentally, the movement to demand that advertisers pull their spots from Savage's show is seeing some success. In December, Savage admitted that over a million dollars in ad commitments have been pulled for the 2008 season.

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HomoQuotable - Boy George

“We live in this kind of culture now which pretends to accept everything. So there’s this kind of pseudo-acceptance of everything that’s different. But the reality is: it’s not true. Today’s gay pop stars are out of the closet, but they don’t express anything about their sexuality. They don’t ever use the word “he” in their songs. They think they don’t need to, because they think everybody loves them, and they think they’re all accepted. You see, they’ve been lulled into this false sense of security! (Laughs) When I write a song about a boy, I’m not thinking about the radio or any of that; I’m thinking about what I feel.” - Boy George, speaking to music journalist Mike Atkinson, aka JMG blogroller Troubled Diva. It's a great interview, read the entire thing.

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ACLU Sues School Over Free Speech

On behalf of a 16 year-old named Heather Gillman, the ACLU is suing a Florida high school for suppression of free speech. This comes after school officials ruled that any declaration of support for gay rights, such as a rainbow sticker on a notebook or saying "I support gay people" were signs that the students belonged to a "secret/illegal organization."
“Because the Supreme Court has held that students have a right to free speech at school unless that speech disrupts the educational process, many administrators think they can just slap the label ‘disruptive’ on anything they don’t like and get away with stomping on students’ First Amendment rights. The law doesn’t work that way,” said Benjamin James Stevenson, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Florida. “School should be a marketplace of ideas, where students share new ideas and learn about themselves and others. Just talking about gay rights or any other topic outside of class isn’t inherently disruptive.”

In the complaint filed today, the ACLU asked the court for an injunction to stop Ponce de Leon High School officials from suppressing students’ First Amendment rights in the future.

“Writing something like ‘I support gay rights’ on your notebook doesn’t mean you’re part of some secret conspiracy or shadowy organization,” said Christine Sun, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s national Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project. “Schools shouldn’t be in the business of trying to frighten students into silence.”

Ponce de Leon High School is located halfway between Pensacola and Tallahassee, in Florida’s panhandle. According to the school’s website, about 400 students are enrolled there. Heather Gillman is represented by Stevenson and Robert Rosenwald of the ACLU of Florida and Sun of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project.
The ACLU will be holding a press conference with Heather Gillman today.

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Clinton & Obama Make Kissy-Kissy

The two remaining Democratic candidates played BFFs on last night's CNN debate, with the only real bristling coming during questioning about the Iraq war. But the best part came in the final ten minutes when Wolf Blitzer asked them about the possibility of a co-ticket, drawing roars from the elite crowd at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre. That bit comes at the end of the above clip.

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Winter Party: Circuit Survivor

The ad for the Winter Party that appears on this and many other blogs this month has been nagging me to mention that despite the recent spate of stories about the dwindling of gay nightlife, the Winter Party Festival continues to thrive. This March will see the 15th annual Winter Party, an event I've attended more times than any other event in my life, nine times in all, making regular treks back to South Florida after I moved to San Francisco, and twice since I've been in New York.

Nationwide, the circuit scene is quickly winding down. As Steve Weinstein noted in an Out Magazine article titled Save The Last Dance, "Where an earlier generation saw the drug-fueled all-night dances as liberating, those in their 20s are as likely to view them as archaic throwbacks that bear little relationship to the way they live their lives." So as the original circuit party boys "age out" of the scene, younger gays have scant interest in replacing them. And the parties are closing up shop in droves.

The party graveyard includes huge marathons like Hotlanta, Saint at Large’s original White Party, and Chicago’s Fireball as well as regional events like Pittsburgh’s Steel party, Detroit’s Motorball, and Columbus, Ohio’s Red Party (considered the nation’s first circuit party). Even legendary man magnets like the Miami and Palm Springs editions of the White Party and Montreal’s Black and Blue—once North America’s largest circuit party—are suffering greatly reduced attendance.

Others struggle to survive, like Philadelphia’s Blue Ball, which moved from January to May, and Washington, D.C.’s Cherry, which keeps changing sponsors and venues.
So why, in the face of all this (generally agreed to be good) change in the way young gay men socialize, does the Winter Party buck the trends and continue to thrive? Obviously, their hugest draw is that while the rest of the country shivers, the main Winter Party event (the largest beach party in the country) takes place in toasty subtropical weather and plays out against the gorgeous backdrop of South Beach's Art Deco District.

But now run by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, the Winter Party has morphed over recent years from that single perfect beach party to include a week-long series of events with broad appeal to those both in and out of the circuit scene. This year there's an LGBT family picnic, a fundraiser for the South Beach AIDS Project, a fashion show, a lesbian jazz brunch, a dinner party to support the transgender community, and the unveiling of the Gay American Heroes exhibit, a "traveling memorial that honors LGBT persons who have been murdered because of their sexual orientation or gender identity."

Unlike those events listed in Weinstein's "party graveyard", somehow the Winter Party organizers saw the writing on the wall and reacted. I asked Task Force head Matt Foreman about the changes his organization have brought to the Winter Party:
"We’re extremely proud that over the four years the Task Force has been responsible for the Winter Party Festival we’ve broadened its reach by adding programs for people of faith, young people, transgender people, and women. We’re proud that the festival continues to be 100% of, by and for our community with 100% of its proceeds staying in our community. In fact, so far we’ve generated nearly $650,000 to support local organizations serving Miami-Dade’s LGBT community. And finally, we’re proud to be preserving and building a family of events that celebrates our sexuality, our diversity, and our community."
Since its beginning, the Winter Party has raised over $1.6M with two-thirds of that staying in Miami-Dade County to benefit a broad array of local LGBT charities. I've always contended that the volunteer-run charity parties are somehow the most fun. It's just a general vibe that I get. (Another example would be Folsom Street Fair's fantastic Real Bad party.)

The hot-bod scene is there at the Winter Party dance events (see the photo at the top of this post), but the recent inclusiveness of those outside of or uninterested in that milieu is surely at the core of their continued success.

As I've got friends that have been tirelessly toiling for the Winter Party for many years, I'm happy to pimp their good work on this here website thingy. Just don't deluge me with requests to pimp your party. This one is, happily, very personal.

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