Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bunnydrums reforms!

Bunnydrums, IMHO one of the best bands that came out of Philadelphia's New Wave scene, has reformed. I've heard from DJ Robert Drake that original members David Goerk and Frank Marr are recording a new album and planning a reunion concert. David and Frank will be appearing on Robert's Rock-of-the-80s monthly radio show The Land Of The Lost on WXPN this Friday to discuss their reunion plans and might even play a brand new Bunnydrums track. You can listen to The Land of the Lost this Friday June 30 from 7pm to 11pm either from WXPN's website at or on 88.5FM in the Philly area. "Holy Moly" indeed!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Panic attacks on vacation

Yesterday afternoon I had a bad panic attack driving up from the shore. I was halfway back home when my muscles started tensing up and it felt like my brain was freezing. And to top it off I had to drove in a huge rain downpour. I was feeling like if I didn't continue driving back home I would probably black out or something like that. I had to keep telling myself that I was fine and I was just having a panic attack. It seemed like I had to stop at every red light at every intersection for the last hour, making the trip seem longer than it was. Needless to say I got home in one piece and somehow managed to wind down.

Anyhow this was a ugly end to an otherwise agreeable two-day trip down to Ocean City MD to spend some time with my family, including one of my two sisters, who now lives in Nashville. Did go up to Rehoboth Beach Saturday night. The crowd for the Double L was light for a Saturday night during summer--people must have been going up to New York City for Gay Pride there. I also stopped at the Lambda Rising bookstore on Baltimore Avenue and bought a book there, Hard by Wayne Hoffman, which I'll start reading in about a week or two.

I wish I could have been up to NYC for pride as well...Kevin Aviance rode the HX float in the New York Gay Pride Parade and got lots of applause. (He had to get his jaw un-wired for one day so he could make his appearance there.) There was a good turnout for the parade in spite of the rain.

Oh Boy! Humiliation or humility?

Yesterday Boy George was threatened with jail by a New York judge for not completing the community service requirement because he didn't want to sweep the streets. Criminal Court Judge Anthony Ferrara gave George until August 28 to complete the five days of community service, which was imposed in March when he plea bargained for falsely reporting a burglary, escaping more serious charges of drug possession.

Earlier this month George's lawyer argued that wanted to do something for an AIDS charity instead. It would be humilating for him to be sweeping the streets of New York City because "it would turn into a media circus."

The judge, insisting that George would be treated no differently than any other offender, said: "This is a simple matter. Five days of community service. It's up to you as to whether it will be an exercise in humiliation or an exercise in humility. Your choice." He then threatened George with jail time if that community service requirement was not done.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Village Voice Queer Issue 2006

The 2006 edition of the Village Voice's Queer Issue is out now. Not as good or cutting-edge as the coverage of previous years (hello The New Times, which owns the paper now), but still some interesting stuff. The fight for gay marraige in New York State, the controversy of the competing gay games in Chicago and Montreal, Canada, a polysexual gender-bending crew throwing parties in Brooklyn (I can see the Bruce Bawer types getting their panties in a bunch over this), and Edmund White waxing positively on new gay fiction.

Oh, and as for the cover, I much perfer the picture that was making the rounds over a decade ago of Bill Clinton and Al Gore's faces pasted on the bodies of a couple of gym queens. (I'd post a picture of that as well but so far I haven't been able to find it on the net so far.)

PA Senate tacks gay marraige ban to constitution

To my disgust and horror, the state Senate approved the proposed state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages 38-12 on Wednrsday. At least they rejected the House language that would have prevented civil unions and potentially other types of relationships for unmarried couples, which had passed the House (HB 2381) on June 6. According to The Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, the effort to revert to the original version of the amendment passed by the House was defeated in the Senate by a 31-19 vote. A motion to further amend the language to prevent same-sex marriages, civil unions or legal unions that are the "functional equivalent of marriage" was then defeated 27-23. The Senate then removed the language from the House bill that also stated that "neither the Commonwealth nor any of its political subdivisions shall create or recognize a legal union identical or substantially equivalent to that of marriage for unmarried individuals," and it passed then.

The new version of the bill now goes back to the House for approval before it recesses for the summer. The House must approve the language by June 30 in order to be placed on the ballot as soon as 2007. If the House does not approve this version of the legislation, it cannot go to the voters until 2009 at the earliest.

Time to send some negative light to the State Crapitol and hope that both State and House will end up fighting over the language of the bill and not agreeing on which version to use, causing the amendment to die and diginity of gay people of this state will be spared. Or if you live PA, just contact your state representative and tell him or her to say NO! to HB 2381 in any form.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Folsom Street East X report

This past Sunday I spent the day up in New York City for Folsom Street East, a leather/S&M block party that is held in NYC on the Sunday before New York's Gay Pride (which BTW is the last Sunday in June). This year is the tenth year this street fair has been running; this is the fifth one I've been to.

That morning I took a three hour plus train ride, taking the local lines from Paoli to 30th Street Station in Philly to Trenton NJ to NYC. The train got into Penn Station at 12:45pm. Since Folsom didn't start until 2pm, I took a walk down 8th Avenue to Chelsea, which maybe took ten minutes and killed some time there browsing in a few shops. I stopped at the View Bar, got an iced tea from their coffee bar, and sat in a nice chair and just watched the people walk by for a while; it was kind of a nice substitute for the Big Cup coffeshop, which had closed last August. The city was still buzzing about Kevin Aviance getting gay-bashed the prior weekend; there was a big anti-gay violence rally the day before, which Kevin spoke at.

I then walked over to FSE, which was held on 28th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. And I had a lot of fun for the next four hours. It was very hot that afternoon, highs in the sun-beating-down-on-you 90s, but there was some shade to duck into. Drank a lot of water. I also kept cool by going into the Eagle, New York's prime leather bar, and I got a great view of the street from their rooftop deck. Ran into several people from Philly. Also spotted a few leather titleholders in the crowd as well. Dozens of booths to stop at. I bought a couple of things, including a pair of leather shorts from the Leather Man booth for only fifty bucks (they usually go higher than that). They look really good, I'll have to take a picture of me wearing them some day.

I left the street festival a little before 6pm so I could catch the train back. But first I went back to Chelsea and had dinner at Better Burger, which featured fast-food-styled hamburgers made of organic meat. I then walked back to Penn Station and got on the 7:13 out of the city. I would get back to the Paoli station a little bit after 10:30pm, and I would arrive home fifteen minutes later.

I wish that I would have been able to stay there longer, since the crowd was still going strong when I left. The Eagle was very crowded by then. Another bar on the same block, Scores, a notorious strip bar that usually caters to straight guys, was holding a benefit for Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project featuring a bunch of male strippers. Hopefully the next time I come into New York for FSE I'll stay at a hotel and I'll be able to take a more bigger part of the festivities. Three and plus hour train rides each way can really cut into that time.

I was thinking about taking pictures at Folsom, but I didn't feel like dragging a camera around. Fortuneately, other people were taking photos. Click here and see what went down that day.

One more thing--here's an account of Kevin Aviance performing at one of the first FSE's, which sounded like a definite hoot indeed.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Oh Boy! The Saga Continues

This past Friday a Manhattan judge issued an arrest warrant for Boy George after the singer failed to show for a court appearance. But Judge Anthony Ferrara stayed the warrant pending his return at a later hearing.

Last year police found cocaine in Mr. O'Dowd's New York apartment after he had reported a burglary. He wound up making a plea bargain of being guilty of filing a false report. He was to enter a drug program in England and do five days of community service in Manhattan as well as pay $1,160 US dollars for fines and surcharges. In addition he was to avoid arrest for any reason during the next six months.

Judge Ferrara pointed out that George had neither paid the fine nor reported to begin fulfilling the community-service requirement. "I put people in jail who don't pay fines,'' he told O'Dowd's lawyer Louis Freeman.

The singer was scheduled to appear Friday to explain why he wants to change the terms of his sentence. His lawyer stated that he told George, who was in England, he did not have to appear Friday but should be ready to fly to New York on a moment's notice. He said the singer would be present for his next court hearing, which is on June 26.

Freedman said that O'Dowd wanted to do something more worthwhile as part of community service than sweeping New York City streets. "There's nothing wrong with that if that's part of his punishment, but it will turn into a media circus and the press will be following him every day.'' George does intend to comply with the terms of his conditional discharge, but he had hoped to work with an HIV/AIDS charity instead. The judge scoffed at George's lawyer's proposals for community service--which included holding a fashion/makeup workshop and serving as a DJ at an HIV/AIDS benefit-- but did understand the objection to street-cleaning.

Judge Ferrara said on June 26 he will issue a final order as to what O'Dowd must do.

Anti-smoking ban in Philly

I've got mixed feelings about the new anti-smoking ban that was just passed by the Philadelphia City Council. On one hand I don't smoke and I don't have to worry about leaving a bar and my clothes are smelling from smoke. But I have friends who do smoke and it would inconvenient for them to step outside if they do want a smoke. As long as they're not blowing smoke in my face I can tolerate it.

I'm quite surprised that the city council were able to get it passed, considering all the difficulty such bills had trying to get through in the past. A lot of other cities like New York and states like New Jersey and Delaware have such laws on the books; it seemed that until now Philly wouldn't be able to play catch-up as far as passing anti-smoking laws.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A few Philly Gay Festival photos

Me at the Philadelphia Gay Pride Festival at the Great Plaza at Penn's Landing on June 11, 2006. You can see the Delaware River and Camden, New Jersey behind me.

Another view of the Great Plaza.

A giant puppet taking advantage of the shaded area.

Writer, Sirius satellite radio host and comedian Frank DeCaro was one of the speakers at Pride.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Language in PA's anti-gay marriage amendment

On Tuesday the Pennsylvania state Senate committee threw out language in a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage that would have prohibited the state or any municipality from recognizing domestic partnerships. They voted 9-5 to strike the language. The panel then sent the amendment in a 13-1 vote to the chamber floor.

It is not known when the full Senate will take up the amendment. If the state House and Senate do not agree on a single anti-gay marriage amendment that could reach voters in 2007, state law would require them to start from scratch in the next two-year legislative period, pushing the earliest date for a vote back to 2009. The 2005-06 session will end on or around June 30, though the lawmakers eager to finish up their work may go over that deadline.

Stacey Sobel of the Center for Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights stated that while the LGBT community does not support any type of anti-marriage amendment, at least the stripped-down version that survived the Senate committee "does not take away existing rights" from gay and lesbian couples. The House version had such broad language that it could be interpreted as it would be okay to dismantle legal ties between unmarried heterosexual couples as well.

House-approved amendment:
"Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this commonwealth, and neither the commonwealth nor any of its political subdivisions shall create or recognize a legal status identical or substantially equivalent to that of marriage for unmarried individuals."

Senate committee version:
"Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this commonwealth."

State Senator J. Barry Stout (D., Washington) exclaimed that he was ashamed that the committee was being used to divert attention from issues that were more important to Pennsylvanians, including the budget and property tax reform. He received applause for his statement.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Philly Gay Pride 2006 weekend recap

Drove into the city Saturday afternoon and attended the Pennsylvania LeatherSir and Leatherboy 2006 Contest which was held at the main floor of the Bike Stop. The contest, which started around 5pm, drew a good sized crowd. One man was up for the title of LeatherSir (but he still had to get a 75% score from the judges to win the title) and three vied for the title of Leatherboy. In the end Ryan Tittel won the LeatherSir title and Just Costellos won the Leatherboy title. They both go off to Baltimore, MD to compete at Mid-Atlantic LeatherSir and Mid-Atlantic Leatherboy 2006 on July 8.

I went out to grab a burger and came back to the Bike Stop where the Philadelphians held their pre-Pride Social in the main bar from 8pm to midnight. Much of the crowd (which included some titleholders) that was there for the LeatherSir/boy contest remained for the social. It turned out to be a big success. I helped out with selling tickets for the 50/50 raffle. There was also a door prize of the Hollywood Royality Edition of the Mommie Dearest DVD. Near the end the drawing for the 50/50 cash prize of $114 was held but each time a number was drawn and called out no one was there to claim it. After the third time it was decided that there would be no more numbers drawn and that prize money would go into the travel fund for the PA LeatherSir and Leatherboy. After that I decided to go home around midnight so I could get a few hours sleep for the Gay Pride parade the following morning.

On Sunday the Philadelphians and the people that were to be on the Bike Stop float gathered at the bar at ten o'clock-ish. We got the stuff for the float and went to 13th Street between Walnut and Locust where the float, which featured a firemen's theme, was assembled. The Philly Gay Pride Parade kicked off at the corner of 13th and Locust at noon. The Philadelphians marched in front of the Bike Stop float. It was a rush being cheered by the crowd as we march through the street. There were the usual Christain supremicsts holding their God-is-gonna-git-you-sodomites signs, mostly at 11th and Market, but we mostly ignored them. We saw a lot of gay people sitting at the outdoor cafes in Old City as we marched down Market Street.

We finally around arrived at Penns Landing around 1:30pm, where the Gay Pride Festival was held. It was good to have the festival back at the Great Plaza section; the last time it was there was back in 1999. It certainly was a better location than it was last year (which was at some hot vacant lot on Washington and Broad Streets), with the breeze coming from the Delaware River and taking the edge off the 80F degree and very sunny weather. People were still filing in and the onstage entertainment didn't begin until 2:15, which I didn't really pay too much attention. Walked around and checked out the various booths for the next two hours. Found out that the Bike Stop had won the Best Bar Float Award, as well as the Fruit Bowl Grand Prize, for the parade; Congrats! By 4pm I was starting to get tired and decided walk back with a club brother and a friend of his back to the gayborhood, where I cooled off with a soda at the BS before I drove home.

I took some photos at the parade and festival, which are being developed right now. They should be up in a day or two.

More bummers during Gay Pride

Was getting ready for the Philly Gay Pride Parade and Festival yesterday morning and saw the local paper was running a front page story on the recent passage of the anti-gay marriage amendment in the State House this past Tuesday. It upset me for two reasons--one, they had the bigots get in the last word. And two, the paper waits until Sunday to publish a story, while the Philadelphia Inquirer ran their frontpage story the day after the vote.

Stopped in a convenience store on the drive into the city and walked by the newspapers and saw this on the cover of the New York Daily News. Singer and drag queen Kevin Aviance was gay bashed by six thugs when he was walking home from a performance on late Friday night/Saturday morning. He had to get to get his jaw wired shut. Four of the youths were arrested.

As Joe My God observes, "As long as our Republican leadership continues to tell the youth of America that gay people are contemptible, these contemptible crimes will continue."

Boy when you're gay the positive reinforcement never stops, not even on Gay Pride.*

(* - sarcastic remark.)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Reflections on Pride

This weekend I'm going to be taking part in the festivities of Philly Gay Pride such as the Philadelphia Gay Pride Parade and Festival (which will be held at the Great Plaza section of Penns Landing, the first it's been there since 1999). Anyhow I'd like to take the to reflect on the state of Gay America.

I do like taking part in Gay Pride every June, it can be so uplifting. But it doesn't come enough for me. It's a couple of days away and I feel so depressed and alienated right now (no thanks in part to the Pennsylvania State House passing the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment earlier this week), and in a few days after Pride I'll still feel depressed and alienated. Just having a march down Chestnut Street once every years is not enough for me for sustain my self-esteem as a gay man living in a society that considers me less than human.

Self-esteem seems to be at an all-time low for gay men these days. So many are engaging in self-destructive behavior. Taking crystal meth. Knowingly having "bareback" (unsafe) sex when they have the info and the smarts not to do that. Thinking that Eminem, a rapper who writes viciously anti-gay lyrics, is "cute" and "sexy" and is "an artist." The homophobic right-wing culture in this country keeping egging this self-destructiveness on. There has to be way for this to stop since I don't think that this is necessary. It's sort of like when slavery was running in the South; at the time people were convincing themselves that it was the only way to run the culture. Which is bullshit. Chewing up a major portion of the population in order for a few people like Rick Santorum to feel special and entitled is just not necessary.

I remember when I was first coming out around 1989-1990, direct-action groups like ACT-UP and Queer Nation were at their peak. They were kicking homophobic ass and they weren't afraid to stir shit up. Fighting for dignity and for a cure. They weren't going to be passive tragic little victims anymore like they were a few years earlier when AIDS first came onto the scene. I found them to be so inspiring.

I look at the current state of gay politics and I can't find anything like that. It's like what Susie Bright once described as "continued celebrity-valorization without any actual leaders emerging." All too willing to compromise in order to get a few crumbs. Like when Democratic leader Howard Dean went on the the Religious Right TV show The 700 Club and stated that marriage ought to be between one man and one woman, no gays or lesbians need apply. Well gay Democratics started making excuses for Dean, starting to sound just like those pathetic Log Cabin Republicans trying to convince themselves and others that the GOP isn't really so bad. It's politics as Looking For The Good Straight Father once again, when what we ought to be doing is realizing that there's no such creature to help protect us gay people. We ought to take a page out of Sylvia Plath and say "Fuck you Daddy" once in a while when politicans fail to stand up for us.

I want to know where has my Queer Nation gone? All I see in the contemporary mainstream gay movement are timid boring Mattachine people. I want another Stonewall rebellion, where people come out of the closets and into the streets. I hope that will happen in my lifetime.

In the meantime, have a Happy and Safe Gay Pride.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sad news just in time for Gay Pride

In Pennsylvania anti-gay marriage amendment passed the state house Tuesday night 136-61. Next it has to go to the state senate. From there, both bodies will need to vote on it again in the next session - if they vote yes, it will end up on the ballot either in 2007 or 2008.

When I heard the news it was like you would have punched me in the stomach. Every day I tell myself that I am a good person worthy of love. Hearing that I'm being blamed in toto for the downfall of The American Family and being denied any rights fucking hurts.

At least there's more rationality in DC, where yesterday the gay marriage constitutional ban failed to get a two-thirds majority to pass the US Senate. But the fact that the Republicans up for re-election this year will ride this issue until they are re-elected in November even made me more sick to my stomach.

And I thought that June was supposed to be GAY PRIDE MONTH. The irony.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Rufus Wainwright - Poses

It was five years ago today that Rufus Wainwright's second album Poses was released. If there was an album that defined the summer of 2001 for me this would be it. I was traveling to New York City quite a bit around that time--taking the train by Manhattan and back, going to gay events there--and that album seemed to be a perfect (pre-9/11) reflection of the city was at that time.

I'd refer to Poses as Rufus's Summer album (his first four albums each seemed to reflect a different season of the year). To me the album has a hazy, wistful presence feel about it just like a summer day. I can see the leaves of the trees become full-on green, the increasing sun and heat coming down on the city sidewalks.

Back in 2000 following the critical success of his debut album, Rufus moved into the imfamous Chelsea Hotel with a piano and for the next six months wrote songs for the album. He would also go to local places like the Big Cup where the Cheslea Muscle Boy aesthetic ruled, and he would later milk his clashes with the locals for publicity, such as two Chelsea Boys passing by him at the Big Cup and muttering to him to get a haircut. “A lot of gay people adore my music,” Rufus would later say, “But the Chelsea kind of gay stereotype—that world in general—I’ve always felt sort of out of that world.”

The production of this album, mostly done by Pierre Marchand (best known for working with Sarah McLaughin), is lean in comparison to Rufus's other albums. It's not as flowery and eccentric as his debut album, it's more of a live feel here. But still you can recognize his brand of chamber pop here with its envoloping sound, as on the opening track "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk." A couple of tracks also add some understated drum loops and gritty beats courtesy of Alex Gifford of the electronica act the Propellerheads, such as on "Shadows."

The theme of Poses deals with Rufus's exploits in the city as an artist on the verge on fame, where he, as stated in a 2003 interview, "was partying a lot and treating New York as if it was 1927." The asformentioned "Cigarettes" wittily goes on how fun having vices can be, even if they can mess you up. In the poignant and graceful title track, he observes himself trying to keep up with the party crowd and not to be too revealing to others in the process. The sunny poptastic "California" has a satirical edge about the wonders of the fame machinery of that state.

Of note is his cover of "One Man Guy" by Loudon Wainwright III, his father. The song, originally written about being self-reliant, would add new and different meanings sung by openly gay Rufus. Rufus sings it over a simple accoustic guitar and a fake campfire setting, with his sister Martha Wainwright, and Teddy Thompson singing harmonies on the chorus of the recorded version. When the song would be perfomed live, a slightly different approach would be taken by having Rufus, Martha and Teddy each taking turns singing the verses before all joining in on the chorus. These three grown children of the folk movement of the 60s and 70s covering a song by one of their elders would get quite a bit of critical notice by the music press.

A little more than a year after the CD's release, Rufus would going to rehab for drug problems. It's funny yet poigant to now listen to "Poses" and hear him sing "Baby you said watch my head about it...Oh no oh no no kidding." You get the feeling that while he can get messed up and fall on his ass, there's no doubt that he will get up, take care of needs to be done, and that he'll wind up okay.

(As a postscript, Poses would be re-issued in Feburary 2002 with an additional track, a remix of his cover of the Beatles's "Across The Universe." IMHO that version is far better than the one that appeared on the I Am Sam soundtrack; the production of the former doesn't drain the life out of the song like the later had done.)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Memorial Day weekend

Overall my Memorial Day weekend went well. Spent Friday night packing listening to "Land Of The Lost" on WXPN. Went to work Saturday morning, got off at 1pm, went home, changed, and was off by 2. Traffic wasn't a problem going down. Made a brief stop in Rehoboth Beach to see what was happening that weekend. Got to my parent's place at the shore in Ocean City MD by 6. Unpacked and had dinner. Drove up back up to Rehoboth to get to the Double L Bar around 9:30pm, where I ran into several people I knew during the course of the evening.

It was sunny the next day until around 3-4pm when a heavy fog started rolling in. Originally made plans to go back up to Rehoboth but I didn't feel great, so I just had a couple slices of pizza at a nearby place. Monday I left to get back home around 10:30am in order to beat the traffic. Stopped over in Rehoboth to have some lunch. The drive back was the most part okay, apart from a couple bits of heavy traffic. Also bought a copy of Supernature by Goldfrapp at a Circuit City in Wilmington Delaware, which was selling all single CDs for $9.77 for two days only. Got back home around 3:30pm.

Now my vacation is done and it's back to the same depressing grind.