Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Video #25: Rufus bringing April Fools

Since April Fools Day will be on Sunday, I thought that I'd bring you the video to Rufus Wainwright's "April Fools," which was made in 1998. In it Rufus romps with five tragic opera heroines: Cho-Cho-San from Madame Butterfly, Carmen from Carmen, Mimi from La Boheme, Tosca from Tosca and Gilda from Rigoletto. These women go on to meet their pre-determined deaths, with Rufus coming in too late to save them.

Martha Wainwright, Rufus's sister and sometimes musical collaborator, plays Cho-Cho-San. Melissa Auf Der Maur, the bassist from Hole and Smashing Pumpkins, is Gilda. And watch for Gwen Stefani as a waitress in a dinner where Rufus and the divas go to.

The video was directed by Sophie Muller, who has directed a lot of music videos, including those by the Eurythmics, Hole, Bjork, No Doubt, and Gwen Stefani's solo stuff as well. Sophie found making this video to be a challenge. "The real problem was trying to figure out when and where to kill people," she said in an interview.

"April Fools" is one of my favorite Rufus Wainwright songs, which has a really poppy vibe to it. If there was any justice this song would have topped the pop charts everywhere. You can find this song on his 1998 self-titled debut album Rufus Wainwright.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Circuit City seeking slave labor

On Wednesday Circuit City announced that they're going to cut 3,400 jobs from their stores, mostly "better paid" workers, and replace them with lower-paid new employees as soon as possible. The workers that are laid off will get a severance package and the chance to reapply for their old jobs at lower pay after 10 weeks.

Speaking as someone who had a similar thing happen to me with a previous day job, I think that sucks. How can the Circuit City clerks make a living with meager wages? And no word on their multi-office executive staff, which I'm sure that they're "better paid" than the clerks they're letting go? I'm sure that those changes will lower the workplace morale and the service will go downhill. I don't think I'll be shopping there again sometime soon; who wants to encourage a company that uses Third World methods to pay their employees? If you believe that workers ought to get a living wage, don't patronize Circuit City until they reverse their decision.

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Spring Days

Today is the third straight day of sunny weather. Tuesday the temperature rose up to the lower 80's (F, that is). Not as warm yesterday or today but still it's a big inmprovement to the messy winter weather two weeks ago.

Picked up Mika's Life In Cartoon Motion CD on Tuesday and I'm enjoying it. It's a combination of Scissor Sisters, vintage Elton John, and Rufus Wainwright funneled through a Disney-esque glass. Great music for sunny spring days. Lots of technicolor daydreaming.

Last night saw a local theater production of Bent, a play about the persecution of gays in 193o's Berlin, at West Chester University. It was quite moving. Was a little painful to watch at times.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday Video #24: Fun Fun

A video of "Happy Station" by the Italo-Disco act Fun Fun circa 1983. Somehow having the group dance in front of a car crash to a happy bouncy dance tune (with some Herbie Hancock "Rockit"-like scratching thrown in well) makes an odd pairing indeed. It's like Taffy Davenport from Female Trouble had lived and went on to make music videos.

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No More Disco Parties For America?

This week the 2007 Winter Music Conference is happening in Miami, Florida. Since it one of the biggest dance conferences in the world, I thought it would be appropriate to show my latest column, which discusses the state of dance music in America (and Philly too, since my column is supposed to take a gay local spin on things). The inspiration for the article's title come about when I came about Moby's blogging about how his US label wasn't going to domestically release his latest CD compilation of his remixes (Go: The Very Best Of Moby: Remixed) and he said: "Sorry, North America. I guess the man doesn't want you to have a disco party." Sometimes I feel that it's the same way in the US as well.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Kevin Aviance gets some justice

Larry Kramer kicks ass!

Writer and activist Larry Kramer writes an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times:

An 72-year-old gay activist isn't hopeful about the future.

By Larry Kramer, LARRY KRAMER is the founder of the protest group ACT UP and the author of "The Tragedy of Today's Gays."
March 20, 2007


Why do you hate gay people so much?

Gays are hated. Prove me wrong. Your top general just called us immoral. Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is in charge of an estimated 65,000 gay and lesbian troops, some fighting for our country in Iraq. A right-wing political commentator, Ann Coulter, gets away with calling a straight presidential candidate a faggot. Even Garrison Keillor, of all people, is making really tacky jokes about gay parents in his column. This, I guess, does not qualify as hate except that it is so distasteful and dumb, often a first step on the way to hate. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama tried to duck the questions that Pace's bigotry raised, confirming what gay people know: that there is not one candidate running for public office anywhere who dares to come right out, unequivocally, and say decent, supportive things about us.

Gays should not vote for any of them. There is not a candidate or major public figure who would not sell gays down the river. We have seen this time after time, even from supposedly progressive politicians such as President Clinton with his "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military and his support of the hideous Defense of Marriage Act. Of course, it's possible that being shunned by gays will make politicians more popular, but at least we will have our self-respect. To vote for them is to collude with them in their utter disdain for us.

Don't any of you wonder why heterosexuals treat gays so brutally year after year after year, as your people take away our manhood, our womanhood, our personhood? Why, even as we die you don't leave us alone. What we can leave our surviving lovers is taxed far more punitively than what you leave your (legal) surviving spouses. Why do you do this? My lover will be unable to afford to live in the house we have made for each other over our lifetime together. This does not happen to you. Taxation without representation is what led to the Revolutionary War. Gay people have paid all the taxes you have. But you have equality, and we don't.

And there's no sign that this situation will change anytime soon. President Bush will leave a legacy of hate for us that will take many decades to cleanse. He has packed virtually every court and every civil service position in the land with people who don't like us. So, even with the most tolerant of new presidents, gays will be unable to break free from this yoke of hate. Courts rule against gays with hateful regularity. And of course the Supreme Court is not going to give us our equality, and in the end, it is from the Supreme Court that such equality must come. If all of this is not hate, I do not know what hate is.

Our feeble gay movement confines most of its demands to marriage. But political candidates are not talking about — and we are not demanding that they talk about — equality. My lover and I don't want to get married just yet, but we sure want to be equal.

You must know that gays get beaten up all the time, all over the world. If someone beats you up because of who you are — your race or ethnic origin — that is considered a hate crime. But in most states, gays are not included in hate crime measures, and Congress has refused to include us in a federal act.

Homosexuality is a punishable crime in a zillion countries, as is any activism on behalf of it. Punishable means prison. Punishable means death. The U.S. government refused our requests that it protest after gay teenagers were hanged in Iran, but it protests many other foreign cruelties. Who cares if a faggot dies? Parts of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. are joining with the Nigerian archbishop, who believes gays should be put in prison. Episcopalians! Whoever thought we'd have to worry about Episcopalians?

Well, whoever thought we'd have to worry about Florida? A young gay man was just killed in Florida because of his sexual orientation. I get reports of gays slain in our country every week. Few of them make news. Fewer are prosecuted. Do you consider it acceptable that 20,000 Christian youths make an annual pilgrimage to San Francisco to pray for gay souls? This is not free speech. This is another version of hate. It is all one world of gay-hate. It always was.

Gays do not realize that the more we become visible, the more we come out of the closet, the more we are hated. Don't those of you straights who claim not to hate us have a responsibility to denounce the hate? Why is it socially acceptable to joke about "girlie men" or to discriminate against us legally with "constitutional" amendments banning gay marriage? Because we cannot marry, we can pass on only a fraction of our estates, we do not have equal parenting rights and we cannot live with a foreigner we love who does not have government permission to stay in this country. These are the equal protections that the Bill of Rights proclaims for all?

Why do you hate us so much that you will not permit us to legally love? I am almost 72, and I have been hated all my life, and I don't see much change coming.

I think your hate is evil.

What do we do to you that is so awful? Why do you feel compelled to come after us with such frightful energy? Does this somehow make you feel safer and legitimate? What possible harm comes to you if we marry, or are taxed just like you, or are protected from assault by laws that say it is morally wrong to assault people out of hatred? The reasons always offered are religious ones, but certainly they are not based on the love all religions proclaim.

And even if your objections to gays are religious, why do you have to legislate them so hatefully? Make no mistake: Forbidding gay people to love or marry is based on hate, pure and simple.

You may say you don't hate us, but the people you vote for do, so what's the difference? Our own country's democratic process declares us to be unequal. Which means, in a democracy, that our enemy is you. You treat us like crumbs. You hate us. And sadly, we let you.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Video #23: Gigi D'Agostino

Well it's an ice storm outside and I won't be going anywhere tonight. So here is the video of "Bla Bla Bla" by the Italian DJ and dance music producer Gigi D'Agostino, which came out in 1999. The vocal samples from the song are taken from "Why Did You Do It" by the British band Stretch. Two years later the same vocals would be reused in the "Bla Bla Bla Edit" remix of "L'Amour Toujours" (a/k/a "I'll Fly with You"), which would hit #78 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart in the US that year.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Baltimore 2007

This past Saturday night and Sunday morning was basicly a repeat of the trip I took down to Baltimore this time last year--Philadelphians's joint bar night at the Baltimore Eagle with follow club C.O.M.M.A.N.D. MC, and Sunday Brunch at Leon's/Tyson Place. This time I drove into Philly right after I worked Saturday morning, where I was picked theme up by a couple of fellow Philadelphians for the drive down I-95 to Baltimore with lots of music being played on the car stereo. The Eagle wasn't as crowded as the last time I was there, but still had a good time and the two clubs did raise some money. Nice brunch at Tyson's but this time there was no stopping at the nearby Lambda Rising bookstore afterwards (if we had stopped in there I probably would have picked this up--do I sound like a tourist or what?). Then it was time to home again; another too-short visit in Charm City.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday Video #22: Spring Madonna

Since spring is around the corner I thought this video would be appropriate. Here is the remix video of the Headcleanr Rock Mix of Madonna's "Love Profusion," which came out in 2003. The original verison was one of my favorite tracks from her IMHO uneven American Life album. This remix is availible on her Remixed & Revisited EP.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday Video #21: Randy Andy

I used to watch a lot of Night Flight on the USA Network back in the 80s. It was quite a good alternative to MTV, playing music videos that the other channel ignored. One video I strongly remember from that program was "The People (Livin' In The USA)" by the Los Angeles act Randy Andy, which came out about 1983. This video memoriably uses the special effect of pixilation, which is stopping and starting the camera to give the finished picture a speeded-up effect. Obviously someone in Madonna's camp must have remembered this video, since Madonna's 1998 video for "Ray Of Light" would be done in a similar fashion and would wind up winning five MTV Music Video Awards that year.

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