Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Does Madonna need Coachella?

I've got mixed emotions about Madonna playing the Coachella Valley Music Festival, which happens at the end of April. She'll be performing in the festival's dance tent on April 30, among an interesting bill of rock, pop and dance acts including Depeche Mode, Daft Punk, Massive Attack (maybe Maddy ought to get together with them to do that cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Want You"), Franz Ferdinand, Scissor Sisters, Bloc Party, James Blunt, and Sleater-Kinney. It makes me wish that I was in California. Being on such a bill will give her more credibility among the music intelligentsia both in the US and aboard.

On the other hand she needs to do more promo in her native country. While her album Confessions on a Dance Floor debuted at #1 on the US album chart (along with the rest of the world on their album charts), her videos have gotten major airtime on MTV and VH1, and the excellent first single "Hung Up" went to #7 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, her current single "Sorry" isn't doing too well here--while the song has been topping the international charts, it has only gotten to #58 the same Hot 100. (Though at least it had charted on there, while three singles from her last album American Life have failed to do that.) Part of the problem is the US radio has been reluctant to play the single. Even many of the stations that did play "Hung Up" haven't taken up this one. It could be a number of reasons why...she's considered to be too old for Top 40's youth demographic (even though "Hung Up" went to #1 on MTV's TRL), some radio corporation honchos think that "she doesn't care about this country anymore" (because she lives in England now, or that she doesn't support Bush's war with Iraq, or both), or that she's doing dance music, a genre that hasn't gotten much love from radio in the past few years--it could be that the Top 40 stations that have been playing dance tracks like Cascada's "Everytime We Touch" or Rihanna's "S.O.S." have decided that adding the Madonna track onto their playlists would have been one dance track too many and decided to pass on it.

What Madonna needs to do if she wants her album to have to same staying power in America as it has been internationally, she needs to do more active promo here. A promo tour of the top ten/fifteen cities with stops at various radio stations and some in-store signings, not just in New York and L.A. And she needs to do more television appearances in the US as well, such as Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show, and , and she needs to be seen performing the songs, not just giving interviews (like she did on Ellen, what a blown opprotunity to showcase "Sorry"). America had to wait until February to see Madonna perform "Hung Up" at the Grammys, while she has been treating Europeans to the same song for the prior few months. By that time Grammy time came around that single had peaked on the US charts and "Sorry" was getting prepared to come out.

And when she's giving interviews, Madonna ought to concentrate on the music. No more of that high falutin' Kabbalah mama act, stop telling how Lourdes is becoming a fag hag like her mother, and just get over that she fell off that horse, she's doing fine now. For a change talk about the difference on how dance music is treated between America and the rest of world. About why America needs to embrace dance music. Discuss why a post-911 America turned its back on dance and embraced macho hip-hop with a vengance. She needs to be reminded why she's doing the interviews in the first place: to get people interested in buying the new album.

If Madonna had taken a more active stance in promoting the album in the states and did the following...not just doing some music festival on the coast where the majority of Top 40 radio station listeners don't care about, "Sorry" would have fared better on the US airwaves. (And maybe "Hung Up" might have topped the US singles charts as well, like it has in the rest of the world.) But maybe she didn't want to do that, she does have a family after all, and America is not the world. It's not like she'll be collecting food stamps if Americans stopped buying her music. She'd rather aim at being credible, thank you very much. Hence her appearence at Coachella.

Still I look at the US charts reflecting a long night of despair with its constant diet of scowling rappers. The airwaves would be brighter and American life would be more endurable if Madonna would be singing her current songs on the radio. I hate to think what Americans are missing what the rest of the world are hearing.

And yes I do wish I had the money to go see her at Coachella. Oh well, I guess I can always hope that when she does a proper tour this summer she does come to Philly.

Okay I've ranted enough about her already. I think I'm going to stop posting about Madonna now. (At least for the time being.)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Gay rugby night

Philly's gay rugby team the Philadelphia Gryphons had their 3rd annual Bachelor Auction at the Westbury this past Friday night. I usually don't go in the city on Friday nights since I have to be at work the next morning, but I wanted to check it out. Place was packed. Believe it or not there were quite a few straight women in the crowd being loud and drunk. (Well they looked striaght to me.) The bar's jukebox was out of service (I didn't like their current TouchDial jukebox anyway) so they had a tape of Top 40/R&B/hip-hop music playing. This type of music has been starting to sneak into the gay bars such as here and Key West and crowding out the more traditional dance/house music that's been the standard gay bar fare for so long. Anyhow six Gryphons were auctioned off, with the more bear-ish ones getting the higher bids. (The highest bid was over $400.) Didn't stay around long after that. Not a bad night but standing around in a crowded bar on a Friday night is not something I'd usually do.

Slits reunite

The great post-punk band the Slits are the latest act to reunite. Members Ari Up, Viv Albertine, and Tessa Pollitt have scheduled two shows in May so far, in Ireland and Germany. On-U Sound's Adrian Sherwood (legendary dub/reggae producers who's mixed the likes of Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails) will mix the shows live. A new Slits album is also in the works for a fall release.

The Slits formed in 1976 as a punk band. By 1977 they were on the White Riot Tour, opening for the Buzzcocks and the Clash. By the time they recorded their first album Cut in 1979, they had evoled into a post-punk/reggae sound. The album would be critically revered throughout the years, even though it would not be released in the US until 2005. (You can also check their Peel Sessions CD, which contains six of the songs that would wind up on Cut, but done in their more earlier punk style.)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Some spring music

This past Monday was the first day of spring. Here are a couple of albums that I always take out when spring comes around:

Rufus Wainwright - Rufus Wainwright
The Next Best Thing - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Solace - Mandalay

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ding dong, the Limp Bizkit is dead...I hope

I'm glad of the possiblity that the poster-boys of date-rape rock Limp Bizkit are done and over. Their last two albums have been commercial disappointments, and the band's on-again, off-again guitarist Wes Borland has gone on to say: "We're officially on hiatus, maybe even officially over...No one said, 'We're done as a band.' Everyone's just doing their own thing, and [some members] don't have time for this band anymore. I haven't quit, but I've also decided to stop thinking about Limp. I'm not going to keep trying to breathe life into a dying animal. We just basically stopped talking. I feel bad for the fans that [might] think something's actually going to happen with Limp [in the future]. It's not happening."

I hate Limp Bizkit and their lead "singer" Fred Durst because they helped set back whatever progress was made in rock in the 90s. When altenative rock gained popularity in the early 90s, it exposed the public to more progressive views of women and gays then they had in the previous decade. There were the riot-grrl and homocore movements. Kurt Cobain would say in interviews that women were going to be the future of rock. Green Day would have the queer-core band Pansy Division open up for them on their headlining stadium tour. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam spoke out for pro-choice concerns. And even though there were few female alternative stars that crossed over and became iconic figures in the mainstream a la Nirvana or Pearl Jam, there were more females in alternative rock than before--in the mid-90s you could look on Billboard magazine's Modern Rock chart and notice that about half the acts on that chart were either female or bands that had women in their line-ups. That was a fry cry from, say, Axl Rose spewing out anti-gay lyrics on "One In A Million" just a few years before.

But then things started to change in the late 90s. Acts like Limp Bizkit, Korn, Kid Rock and Eminem started to become popular on those modern rock stations-as well as on regular rock and pop stations, with their I-wanna-be-black swagger, their aggressive and sometimes violent hyper-macho persona, complete with 'bitch ho" type lyrics. Limp Bizkit personified that cultural shift when they were invited to perform at Woodstock 1999, where fans started to tear up the stage and there were reports of several rapes and sexual assults in the audience during that performance. Some blamed Durst for inciting the violence, and Durst fought back saying that he wasn't to blame. (What were the promoters of Woodstock '99 doing, hiring a band that had violent lyrics like "Break Stuff," for a concert that was supposed to be about "peace and love?") But with their misogynic lyrics it would be hard to set the band apart from their actions. If you were a woman in a Limp Bizkit song, you were either a groupie ready to suck their microscopic dick, or a bitch that deserved to be beat down. You hardly were going to be proclaimed as the future of rock-and-roll like Kurt had done.

Limp Bizkit weren't above pulling any fag-baiting bullshit either. While LB were in Australia for the Big Day Out rock festival in 2001, Fred would incite the crowd into calling Brian Molko, the fey lead singer of the British rock band Placebo, a "faggot." And when a Chicago audience pelted the band with garbage a couple two years later, Fred responded with a slew of anti-gay epithets.

And as knuckle-dragging rap-rock mu-metal bands like Limp Bizkit gained staggering popularity, the modern-rock stations were starting to shut out more and more women musicans from the airwaves. Female acts such Elastica and Belly that had considerable success on those stations in the mid-90s would have a hard time getting on those same stations a few years later. If women wanted to gain fame through music, they would have to do that through teen-pop a la Britney or R&B a la Beyonce or J-Lo, certainly not through rock. (Real rock, not the faux-"rock" kind of Avril Lavigne either.) Women and gays were being set further apart from rock's mainstream. The growing conservatism of rock at the turn of the millennium would reflect the same condition on American political landscape as it went from Clinton permissiveness to Bush stifleness. Courtney Love, who once was seen as a visionary singer and songwriter who saw the condition of the female spirit, would in a few years be reduced to a harpy druggy shrew that would exploit her late husband's estate every which way the wind blew. And Liz Phair, who once could be counted on as a real "woman of rock" with songs like "Supernova" back in the ninties, would make a desperate comeback bid in 2003 with a bunch of faux-rock songs that put together by Avril's production team the Matrix, and started parading around in skimpy schoolgirl outfits like she was barely eighteen (she was twice that age at the time).

If Kurt Cobain was alive during that time, he would have likely ended up being tagged as the Alan Alda of rock. Manly men would say that he was being beaten in PC feminist passivity, isn't it glad that we were able to go beyond all that? Women want a real man, not some wimp telling them they're equal. Isn't it great that the likes of Limp Bizkit and Eminem were able to show us the way?

Fortuneately, as this decade went on more and more men started to see Durst's hyper-macho persona as ridiculous. When the band released their 2005 album The Unquestional Truth (Part 1), it sounded like the title of a bad 70s prog-rock album, and it had an album cover to match as well. But there wasn't a lot of promotion for that record. As a matter of fact the only big promotion for the album seemed to be a homemade porn film featuring Fred Durst, screwing some anonymous bimbo and telling her to "grab my ass and balls," that got "leaked" onto the internet a couple of months before. Durst then threatened to sue some websites that showed the footage, saying that the video was stolen. Whether it truly was stolen or was just a calculated effort to boost Durst's heterosexual credibility, it didn't help album sales; the album was a commercial disappointment, getting only to #24 on Billboard's album chart and selling only 37,000 copies in its first week. A "greatest hits" compilation, imaginatively titled Greatest Hitz, would come out in November of that same year. Even though it did get some aggressive promo, it would sell even less than Truth, getting only to #47 on the same album chart.

Even though I'm glad that Fred Durst and his band's cultural influence has wained greatly recently (it was scary during 1999-2003 there were teen-age boys that wanted to be just like him), he'll still be around the industry dealing with his women issues in his usual fashion. He signs bands to his Geffen Records label imprint, Flawless, such as a deriative Bauhaus/Joy Divison outfit She Wants Revenge, who have song lyrics like "Tear You Apart" that wouldn't sound out of place on a Limp Bizkit album, and an album cover featuring a photo of a young woman posing in her underwear, but her head is cropped out of the picture. Durst also has been talking about directing movie features as well. Like he'd be willing to direct the next Brokeback Mountain. He's even threatening to develop a TV talk/"reality" show. Like the world needs a skater version of Jerry Springer. But for now I'm glad that a rock act that has been promoting sexist, hyper-macho and homophobic attitudes has been losing their popularity. Now only if the same thing could happen to Eminem and 50 Cent!

A vanity confession

For the past few years I have been dyeing my goatee to fight from it going gray. Unfortunately it appears that in the past two weeks my skin has gotten irratated when I apply the stuff to my beard (I use the Just For Men beard and moustache formula). The beard starts to get itchy and some redness flares up. Which is funny since I've been using it for years and I haven't had any bad reaction to the stuff until now. So I'm going to lay off the stuff for a couple of weeks and see what happens when I apply it then. And if the irratation continues, I'll have to do one of three things:

1. Find a different dye formula for my goatee.

2. Just stop dyeing it and just let the grey go in.

3. Just shave it all off.

I have no intention to shaving my goatee off. I like the way it looks on my face. I'd feel castrated if I had to shave it off. But then I don't like having to see the gray come into my beard either. I don't feel as old as I am, so I don't like looking into the mirror and having my facial hair remind me that I'm getting older. I just hope if I lay off the Just For Men beard stuff for a couple of weeks maybe my face won't get irratated when I do start applying it again.

Or I could just remind myself that I'm not as young as I'd like be anymore...

Friday, March 17, 2006

Boycott St.Patty's Day

Smug hets rule in the state capitol

On Wednesday the proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania state Constitution banning same-sex marriage and civil unions passed the House State Government Committee on a 15 - 13 vote, sending it to the full House for a vote sometime this spring.

This happened in spite of hundreds rallying against the amendment the day before.

Opponents of the amendment say it is so poorly worded it could affect all non married couples in the state - gay or straight. It could be used to nullify domestic partner benefits for public employees. It also would likely interfere with publicly funded universities’ ability to offer those benefits.

I'm afraid that if this is written into the state constitution, it's going to ruin a lot of lives just so a few hets can feel smug and entitled.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Cascada update

You might want to check out the new bio on Cascada's My Space page, which was written by yours truly. I got the assignment through the dance act's US label Robbins Entertainment, which had noticed my inital post on Cascada on this blog. The label execs needed to write a new bio and they liked what I had written and they thought that I'd be a good choice. So I wrote them a first draft and they decided to use it. So I'd like to thank the staff at Robbins for giving me this opprotunity!

BTW Cascada's "Everytime We Touch" cracked the US Top Ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this past week at #10. This week it's at #11.

A night in Baltimore

This past Saturday a bunch of us Philadelphians went down to Baltimore (which I've haven't been since one of my sisters went to Towson State back in the late late 80s/early 90s), where we had a joint barnight with our sister club to the south, C.O.M.M.A.N.D. MC, at the Baltimore Eagle. This would be my first event attending as a full member of the Philadelphians. A couple of club brothers picked me up that afternoon for the drive down to Charm City. A couple of guys from COMMAND were very nice to let us stay at their place for the night, which was in the northern suburban part of the city. First there was cocktails and dinner at another COMMAND member's place, then it was off to the city's leather bar, the Baltimore Eagle.

First time I've been to the Eagle. It's on the corner of North Charles Street and 21st Street, but you have to enter it through the door on the the 21st side. It's mainly a narrow but very long bar with a somewhat black and metallic decor, with on its side a couple of smaller pool rooms, an outside area to catch a smoke or some fresh air, and a spacious leather and video shop. Everyone there was having a blast with jello shots being bought and consumed like candy, $1 Yuenglings, 50/50 raffles, and a lot of talking, cruising, and shooting pool. At the end of the night over $500 was raised for Brother Help Thyself, a Baltimore/Washington DC non-profit foundation that funds various GLBTQ and HIV/AIDS organizations in the area.

Sunday a bunch of us got together for brunch at Tyson Place on West Chase Street in the Mount Vernon section. There we went to the backroom bar to eat and gab and put some money in the jukebox. After that we went to the Lambda Rising bookstore which was a couple of stores down the block, and looked around the bookshelves for a while. (I got the latest issue of Out magazine, which had Madonna on the cover.) Then it was time to go back home.

BTW there was no sightings of John Waters, but Lambda Rising did have a nice little display of some of his work, with some pink flamingos thrown in as well.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The three newest full members of the Philadelphians MC

This past Monday evening me and my two fellow pledges Marc and Ron finished our pledging period and were voted into full membership.

Here's another picture of the three of us (from left to right: Ron, Marc, and me) at the Tri-Cen XVII run back on New Year's Day weekend. Photo courtesy of tonyboi at

Oh Boy! Part 5

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

No Lourdes, I'm just passing on my energy

In the new April issue of Out magazine, Madonna says she had some explaining to do when her daughter, Lourdes, asked about that onstage smooch with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards.

"(Lourdes) is really obsessed with who is gay," Madge explains. "And she even asked, 'Mom, you know they say that you are gay?' And I'm, 'Oh, do they? Why?' And she says, 'Because you kissed Britney Spears.'"

"And I said, 'No, it just means I kissed Britney Spears. I am the mommy pop star and she is the baby pop star. And I am kissing her to pass my energy on to her."

The infamous gay icon goes on saying that her 9-year-old daughter likes to use her gay-dar. "Oh, and the other thing she likes to do when we go out, she says, 'Mom, do you want me to point out who the gay men are?' And I say, 'Okay, but I think I already know.'"

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A couple of music videos

I know this video is about a month and a half old, but I've just now come across the video to "Stupid Girls" by P!nk and it's, conservatively speaking, a hoot. Here she skewers bimbos who are rewarded for being idiots, just like Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton are. Pop-culture feminism lives! Now what this culture needs next IMHO is a male version of that song/video, where the male singer (I don't care if that guy is gay or straight) attacks the hyper-macho attitudes of the likes of Eminem, 50 Cent and Limp Bizkit, and the way they are made to some sort of twisted ideal that young boys are supposed to grow up to be. "Where, oh where, have the smart people gone? Oh where, oh where could they be?" indeed.

Also here's Public Image Ltd. performing on the May 17, 1980 edition of American Bandstand. This is likely the most bizarre moment of the show's history. And the way those kids ends up plasticly grooving to John Lydon and Company as if they were some disco band is kind of creepy.

Giovanni's closing...earlier on Saturdays that is

Went into Philly last night. First went to Giovanni's Room around 8:00pm only to find it closed--they were closing early on Saturdays now at 7:00pm instead of 10:00 as before. As someone who lives an hour's drive away from the city but who perfers to buys his gay-themed books from an actual gay bookstore instead of Amazon or a nearby Borders, I found that very frustrating. Later that evening I heard a rumor that the store would soon be closing altogether, which would suck indeed if that happened, since I've patronized that store over the years.

Bike Stop was jumping. A visitng motorcycle club from NYC was hosting a bar night on the main floor. Saw quite a few guys from the Philadelphians that night. Also finally got to meet face-to-face with a follow blogger. Overall it was a good time.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


This past Saturday night I spent half an hour at the Village Coffee House in Philly before heading over to the Bike Stop. While I was sitting there and drinking some coffee, I heard some tracks from Life's Too Good by the Sugarcubes and Strangeways, Here We Come by the Smiths. Hearing those songs took me back to late 80s college days when I was involved with the local college radio station. I remember liking that Sugarcubes record quite a bit at that time (with "Birthday" as its prime merchandise), but I wasn't that fond of that Smiths album, having much perfered The Queen Is Dead instead. I thought that Strangeways sounded sort of wimpy in comparison to Queen. But listening to "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish" and "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" while sitting in that coffeehouse made me think that there were some good songs on that record, and I figured I ought to give this album a second chance. So I'll probably pick up a copy of this sometime in the next couple of weeks.

More gay marriage news in Pennsylvania

The Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights is coordinating the Value All Families Coalition rally opposing the anti-gay state constitutional amendments in Harrisburg, PA on March 14th. The rally will occur in the Capitol Rotunda at 2:00pm. Lobby training will be held a block away from the Capitol building at 11:00am at St. Michael Lutheran Church,118 State St., Harrisburg. The coalition encourages people to visit legislators that day in Harrisburg from Noon to 1:45pm. Click on this link for talking points and tips on how to schedule a meeting with your legislator. The Center is trying to organize bus transportation to Harrisburg from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. (I hope some people from Chester COunty will be representing as well.) If you are interested in taking a bus to the rally or need additional information, call the Center at 215-731-1447 ext. 10, or go to their website.

1st Amendment rights? Who cares? The Simpsons are on!

A new survey, taken by the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum, found that 22 percent of Americans could name all five Simpson family members, compared with just one in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms. (Those five are freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition for redress of grievances.) Also, more people could name the three “American Idol” judges than identify three First Amendment rights. I guess that they won't miss those freedoms as Bush whittles them away bit by bit. "D'oh!" indeed.