Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Batter-Up!

It is the beginning of the baseball season! Take me out!

Like all sports, baseball is maximizing its profits by extending its season to ridiculously unpleasant lengths. No sport is a ludicrous as hockey, of course, but baseball should start in the middle of April, if you ask me.

My favorite American poet (of the 20th century?) is Marianne Moore. Miss Moore was born in and raised in Brooklyn, then moved to Manhattan. She was an avid baseball fan and wrote this piece in honor of the American pastime.

Baseball And Writing
Marianne Moore


Suggested by post-game broadcasts.



Fanaticism? No. Writing is exciting
and baseball is like writing.
You can never tell with either

how it will go

or what you will do;

generating excitement --

a fever in the victim --

pitcher, catcher, fielder, batter.

Victim in what category?

Owlman watching from the press box?
To whom does it apply?

Who is excited? Might it be I?


It's a pitcher's battle all the way -- a duel --
a catcher's, as, with cruel
puma paw, Elston Howard lumbers lightly

back to plate, (His spring

de-winged a bat swing.)

They have that killer instinct;

yet Elston -- whose catching

arm has hurt them all with the bat --

when questioned, says unenviously,

"I'm very satisfied. We won."
Shorn of the batting crown, says, "We";

robbed by a technicality.


When three players on a side play three positions
and modify conditions,
the massive run need not be everything.

"Going, going . . . " Is

it? Roger Maris

has it, running fast. You will

never see a finer catch. Well . . .

"Mickey, leaping like the devil" -- why

gild it, although deer sounds better --

snares what was speeding towards its treetop nest,
one-handing the souvenir-to-be

meant to be caught by you or me.


Assign Yogi Berra to Cape Canaveral;
he could handle any missile.
He is no feather. "Strike! . . . Strike two!"

Fouled back. A blur.

It's gone. You would infer

That the bat had eyes.

He put the wood to that one.

Praised, Skowron says, "Thanks, Mel.
I think I helped a little bit."

All business, each, and modesty.

Blanchard, Richardson, Kubek, Boyer.

In that galaxy of nine, say which

won the pennant? Each. It was he.


Those two magnificent saves from the knee -- throws
by Boyer, finesses in twos --
like Whitey's three kinds of pitch and pre-

diagnosis

with pick-off psychosis.

Pitching is a large subject.

Your arm, too true at first, can learn to

catch the corners -- even trouble

Mickey Mantle. ("Grazed a Yankee!

My baby pitcher, Montejo!"
With some pedagogy,

you'll be tough, premature prodigy.)


They crowd him and curve him and aim for the knees. Trying
indeed! The secret implying:
"I can stand here, bat held steady."

One may suit him;

none has hit him.

Imponderables smite him.

Muscle kinks, infections, spike wounds

require food, rest, respite from ruffians. (Drat it!

Celebrity costs privacy!)

Cow's milk, "tiger's milk," soy milk, carrot juice,
brewer's yeast (high potency) --

concentrates presage victory


sped by Luis Arroyo, Hector Lopez --
deadly in a pinch. And "Yes,
it's work; I want you to bear down,

but enjoy it

while you're doing it."

Mr. Houk and Mr. Sain,

if you have a rummage sale,

don't sell Roland Sheldon or Tom Tresh

Studded with stars in belt and crown,

the Stadium is an adastrium.
O flashing Orion,

your stars are muscled like the lion.



All author works published at Dick Mac (alive!) are published without permission, and forgiveness and mercy are begged.

Peace.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

What's A Nice Girl Like You Doing In A Place Like This?

The 9/11 Commission is conducting hearings in an effort to learn how the tragedy at the World Trade Center might have been avoided.

The current presidential administration, while cloaking itself in the mantle of patriotism, has insisted that an invasion of Iraq was necessary to combat the terrorism that led to the 9/11 crimes. When using the current administration's lies as the basis for analyses, we must take into account that we are discussing the deaths of over 3,000 people on our own soil and in Iraq.

All of these dead people have families, and most of them seem to want answers about why their loved ones are dead. The 9/11 Commission is hoping to find some answers for them.

Testifying in front of the 9/11 Commission is no place for a nice girl!

Enter, the National Security Advisor.

Condoleezza Rice is not a nice girl, and she's not even a tough broad. She is a scoundrel ultimately swimming in the same slime that adorns the current American president, there is clealry no place too low for her to go.

Currently, this queen of scum is embroiled in a battle where she refuses to testify before the 9/11 Commission. She gets on television saying she wants to testify, but she cannot because of executive privilege. Of course, there is no law anywhere in America that says she is protected by executive privilege; but, since this presidential administration is the biggest gang of crooks and liars since Richard Nixon, she simply states her opinion as fact and law, and the media just rolls over because they don't want to be deemed unPatriotic.

This shows Condascumbucket Rice for the slime bucket she really is; because if she had a modicum of integrity, she would tell the families of the dead what they need to hear: the truth. Since she has no integrity and wouldn't know the truth if it slid off her slimey self, she slinks around Washington, poisoning American freedom, abusing freedom of the press, and denigrating our way of life.

There is no good moral, legal, or patriotic reason for this evil woman to remain silent at this time, especially when she happily evokes the memory of 9/11 whenever it is convenient for her to do so.

Condoleeza Rice represents everything that is bad about the United States. She is a lying, profiteering, self-serving criminal cloaking herself in the American flag while the children of real patriotic Americans toil in the sun and sacrifice their lives in Iraq.

Miss Thing, you are beneath contempt!

Monday, March 29, 2004

Fundamentally Entertaining!

As fundamentalists around the world use holy writings to perpetrate their inhumanity against humanity, it's time we had a little fun with them. While American fundamentalists are using the teachings of Christ to disenfranchise homosexuals and women, and Israeli fundamentalists are using the Bible to disenfranchise the Palestinians, and the Iranian fundamentalists are using the teachings of Mohammed to disenfranchise pretty much everyone in their nation, I found this take-off on the 23rd Psalm entertaining. I received it from my friend Karen who received it from her mother. If the fundamentalists can distort the Bible, so can we!

Bush is my shepherd, I shall be in want.
He leadeth me beside the still factories.
He maketh me to lie down on park benches.
He restoreth my doubts about the Republican Party.
He guideth me onto the paths of unemployment For the Party's sake.
I do fear the evildoers, For thou talkst about them constantly.
Thy tax cuts for the rich and thy deficit spending,
They do discomfort me.
Thou anointeth me with never-ending debt,
And my savings and assets shall soon be gone.
Surely poverty and hard living shall follow me.
And my jobless children shall dwell in my basement forever.


Peace.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Kudos to Senator Daschle

One of the sleaziest tricks of American fundamentalists and their apologists currently running our presidential administration is their absolute and complete distortion of patriotism, integrity, religion, and honesty. When their immoral and illegal dealings are exposed, they hide behind a mantle of so-called Americanism rooted in the notion that freedom only exists because we kill people and earn dramatic profits from allegedly de-regulated industries. They ignore issues of morality and trash basic tenets of Western civilization that are rooted in a simple Judeo-Christian heritage.

I can't even type about American citizens (regular people I otherwise respect), who are educated and rather intelligent, supporting this president because they are too small-minded to admit their right-wing party has totally failed them and is selling this country to the highest bidder, irrespective of the consequences. These little men and women who have one or two issues in mind (and issues that rarely affect their personal lives, like men against abortion) have to keep voting Republican because their shallow ideas of themselves as Americans need hate and avarice to assuage their fears.

Fortunately, there are some Americans who have been educated, and who are life-long tax-paying citizens, who have not been arrested for drug offenses, have not cover-up their shameful past, and whose family has not bilked the elderly of their life-savings. Some of these men and women remain elected officials, though I have no confidence that intelligent people will ever again be elected to office in the USA.

(We seem to be gearing up for a government filled with Renee Zelweigers and Ben Afflecks who will change the Constitution so that Arnold Schwarzenegger can be elected President. The trend started with Reagan being elected president, and I haven't seen any Republicans who can read aloud elected since).

God bless Tom Senator Daschle, of South Dakota! He is constantly standing up and speaking-out. Last Tuesday he spoke again, and below is the text of his speech:

Floor Statement of Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle on the Administration Attacking Good People for Telling the Truth

March 23, 2004

"I want to talk this morning about a disturbing pattern of conduct by the people around President Bush. They seem to be willing to do anything for political purposes, regardless of the facts and regardless of what's right.

I don't have the time this morning to talk in detail about all the incidents that come to mind. Larry Lindsay, for instance, seems to have been fired as the President's Economic Advisor because he spoke honestly about the costs of the Iraq War. General Shinseki seems to have become a target when he spoke honestly about the number of troops that would be needed in Iraq.

There are many others, who are less well known, who have also faced consequences for speaking out. U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers was suspended from her job when she disclosed budget problems that our nation's parks are less safe, and Professor Elizabeth Blackburn was replaced on the Council on Bioethics because of her scientific views on stem-cell research.

Each of these examples deserves examination, but they are not my focus today.

Instead, I want to talk briefly about four other incidents that are deeply troubling.

When former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill stepped forward to criticize the Bush Administration's Iraq policy, he was immediately ridiculed by the people around the President and his credibility was attacked. Even worse, the Administration launched a government investigation to see if Secretary O'Neill improperly disclosed classified documents. He was, of course, exonerated, but the message was clear. If you speak freely, there will be consequences.

Ambassador Joseph Wilson also learned that lesson. Ambassador Wilson, who by all accounts served bravely under President Bush in the early 1990s, felt a responsibility to speak out on President Bush's false State of the Union statement on Niger and uranium. When he did, the people around the President quickly retaliated. Within weeks of debunking the President's claim, Ambassador Wilson's wife was the target of a despicable act.

Her identity as a deep-cover CIA agent was revealed to Bob Novak, a syndicated columnist, and was printed in newspapers around the country. That was the first time in our history, I believe, that the identity and safety of a CIA agent was disclosed for purely political purposes. It was an unconscionable and intolerable act.

Around the same time Bush Administration officials were endangering Ambassador Wilson's wife, they appear to have been threatening another federal employee for trying to do his job. In recent weeks Richard Foster, an actuary for the Department of Health and Human Services, has revealed that he was told he would be fired if he told Congress and the American people the real costs of last year's Medicare bill.

Mr. Foster, in an e-mail he wrote on June 26 of last year, said the whole episode had been "pretty nightmarish." He wrote: "I'm no longer in grave danger of being fired, but there remains a strong likelihood that I will have to resign in protest of the withholding of important technical information from key policymakers for political purposes."

Think about those words. He would lose his job if he did his job. If he provided the information the Congress and the American people deserved and were entitled to, he would lose his job. When did this become the standard for our government? When did we become a government of intimidation?

And now, in today's newspapers, we see the latest example of how the people around the President react when faced with facts they want to avoid.

The White House's former lead counter-terrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, is under fierce attack for questioning the White House's record on combating terrorism. Mr. Clarke has served in four White Houses, beginning with Ronald Reagan's Administration, and earned an impeccable record for his work.

Now the White House seeks to destroy his reputation. The people around the President aren't answering his allegations; instead, they are trying to use the same tactics they used with Paul O'Neill. They are trying to ridicule Mr. Clarke and destroy his credibility, and create any diversion possible to focus attention away from his serious allegations.

The purpose of government isn't to make the President look good. It isn't to produce propaganda or misleading information. It is, instead, to do its best for the American people and to be accountable to the American people. The people around the President don't seem to believe that. They have crossed a line–perhaps several lines–that no government ought to cross.

We shouldn't fire or demean people for telling the truth. We shouldn't reveal the names of law enforcement officials for political gain. And we shouldn't try to destroy people who are out to make country safer.

I think the people around the President have crossed into dangerous territory. We are seeing abuses of power that cannot be tolerated.

The President needs to put a stop to it, right now. We need to get to the truth, and the President needs to help us do that."


God bless you, Senator Daschle!

Peace.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

One Man's junk . . .

So what is junk?

Junk was a slang term for heroin in my youth, but I don't hear it used that way anymore, though a heroin addict is still called a junkie.

In the late 1970s, the junkman who collected metal and paper and old furniture stopped being a junkman and became a recycler. I know all about that, because when I was a punk I was in the scrap metal business. We were not junkmen, were were recycling engineers (nor were we junkies).

One man's junk is another man's collectible. Everything your parents discarded from their attic when they sold the family house became the treasure of some urban gay household; and now your parents are decorating their retirement home with the same items they are now buying from antique shops in Dade County!

Those of course are all noun forms of the word junk. The adjective forms of the word junk are much more amusing.

The website dictionary.com defines the adjective form of junk as:

- Cheap, shoddy, or worthless: junk jewelry.

- Having a superficial appeal or utility, but lacking substance.

I often refer to fashion, music, literature, television, food, mail, or other forms of expression and communication that I find beneath contempt as junk. Designer labels, boring commercial music releases, sitcoms, McDonalds, advertising circulars and the such all deserve the monicker of junk. And we thrown those words about readily (unless it refers to something we like or admire).

In the 1980s a number of financial scandals shook the American market when many people, especially elderly people, were bilked of their savings in the purchase of junk bonds. I know a little bit about capitalism, but I still don't know why brokers are allowed to sell junk bonds to consumers, and I don't know why McDonalds is allowed to sell its food to consumers, and I don't know why Sony is allowed to sell that music to consumers, but . . . I can't know everything!

Yesterday I read an article that discussed Bowie Bonds. If you don't know what they are, I will try to explain . . .

In 1997, rock god David Bowie decided that he would like his royalty payments up front. Whey wait around for people to purchase your records and play your songs to get paid? It's a brilliant idea, and other musicians followed-suit. The bonds were given a rating of A3 which was fantastic for a bond issue that was so strictly experimental at the time.

David Bowie raised $55 million in the bond issue, which was purchased in total by Prudential-Bache Securities. In 1997, $55 million was still a lot of money, and rumor is that Bowie parlayed that cash infusion into a remarkable fortune. Some say he is worth half-a-billion dollars, he modestly insists it is much less. His current net worth is neither here nor there. We all know he is wealthy and I applaud him for his business acumen. No other man, save Milton Berle, has made such a long, storied, and successful career by starting off as a drag queen.

OK, so you take umbrage at me calling the David Bowie of 1972 a drag queen. If that wasn't drag honey, I'm not a white guy!

Anyway, as usual, I digress . . .

Yesterday's article was a shocking revelation that Moody's, the company that rates bond issues, had dropped the Bowie Bonds rating from its lofty and impressive A3 to a disturbing and near-valueless Baa3! This new rating is one step above junk-bond status. I think this means that, even though the interest has been being paid from royalties earned, those royalties earned are no longer expected to be able to support the issue.

Now, I own a lot of David Bowie records. I own some David Bowie art. I attend every David Bowie tour. David Bowie could tell you that Dick Mac is a fan. I have spent a lot of money on David Bowie, and I know many who have. So, how can this have happened to his bond issue? I am perplexed, but I do not understand the intricacies of the bond market. But, because David Bowie has been one of my heroes since I was fourteen years old, it is hard for me to accept that anything connected to his name could be junk.

I wonder if the guys who run Moody's actually listened to David Bowie's latest record and suspected it ain't gonna bring home any bacon, never mind the gravy for the bond holders. Is Moody's as fickle as a fan like me? Maybe the president of Moody's tried to attend one of the shows on Bowie's current tour, then learned that you could only purchase a good seat if you also purchased a $1,000 hotel room, so he passed and took a lesser seat then yawned through this rock star languishing on a spartan stage singing songs that he cannot convincingly deliver (maybe he will sing his good songs whose royalties are not part of the bond issue). Maybe someone at Moody's joined David Bowie's website for six bucks a month only to learn there is no discography or tour history or participation by the rock star and is really not a representation of the future of the internet as it was a few years ago. Maybe someone at Moody's has a modicum of social consciousness and was appalled to see that David Bowie, a champion of children's charities, accepted money to do an advertisement for Nestle, the corporation on this planet that does more harm to infants than any other two corporations combined. Maybe someone at Moody's opened GQ and saw the appalling advertising campaign that Bowie has done for Tommy Hilfiger and realized that this icon of style and creativity has fallen a few notches.

Maybe in 1997 Moody's had been hypnotized by the beauty and the wonder that is David Bowie. Impressed by the remarkable career, creativity and staying-power of this artistic genius they enthusiastically gave his bond issue a rating the rock star could only have dreamed of, but now they have their doubts as they watch his iconic stature turn to a bas relief of mediocrity.

All of that is unlikely, however. Or is it?

I will always listen to my David Bowie records (will probably buy more), and I still have his art on my walls. I will probably be kinder to him than Moody's is being to Prudential-Bache, but I have to say that "Reality," its tour, the Nestle ad, and the Hilfiger campaign are grave disappointments for this once-unwavering fan.

Definition of junk at dictionary.com:

Moody's Cuts Ratings On Bowie Bonds

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Episcopal Church Supports Gay Civil Marriage

In an unprecedented vote of confidence for the Massachusetts Supreme Court's ruling that allows same-sex marriage, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts passed a resolution affirming the decision.

I must say that it is refreshing to hear about a Christian organization actually taking a Christian stand against the tyranny of fundamentalism.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, is using its resources (i.e., its money) to fight the decision and continue its long heritage of bigotry, hatred, and terror. Most recently the Bishop of the Brooklyn Diocese got on the radio and compared gay marriage to bestiality. To make this comparison is to invite hatred, not nurture love. To nurture love is part of Christianity, to foster hatred is the work of the devil.

Men who have never had sex should not be making pronouncements about the sex lives of human beings. Catholic priests, and the entire organization for which they work, have made themselves useless to humanity. The priests and the church serve only one vital function: to raise money to perpetuate their existence. This is the worst type of business.

The Episcopal Church continues to carry a message of hope and love in the spirit of the teachings of Christ, and the Catholic Church continues the tradition of hatred for which it is most known.

I can't believe the Catholics continue to throw their hat in with the fundamentalists. The fundamentalists HATE Catholics! Bishops and cardinals are educated men, and they must know that they have no future with the fundamentalists taking over our government and courts.

The word catholic means universal. It is supposed to mean that Rome runs a church for everybody. When did everything go so horribly wrong?

I say "thank-you" to the Church of England, and I might be looking you up this Sunday.

Definition of the word catholic from dictionary.com

Read about the Episcopal resolution here.

Read about the Catholics.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Campaign Attire

What does one wear when working on the campaign trail? Whether you are an unpaid volunteer or a high-level campaign operative, you must wear clothing that speaks to your efforts.

Historically, the addition of a campaign button to your outfit was sufficient. Wearing a "re-elect My Candidate" pin on the lapel of your jacket worked perfectly.

Even after the Summer Of Love, when American youth attire plummeted from being stylish and utilitarian to being ridiculously colorful and second-hand, even after Arnold Palmer's mortal sin of convincing our fathers and grandfathers to switch from wool suits to banlon shirts and polyester trousers, the simple act of attaching a campaign button to your clothes spoke volumes about your intentions.

Fashion, like the electoral process, has become increasingly complicated and convoluted. Americans no longer know where their clothes are made, and they are rarely, if ever, made in the USA. Over the past couple of decades, many efforts have been made to expose which designers and manufacturers use slave-labor in third world and developing countries to make their clothes. Some manufacturers and designers have actually made efforts to move their operations or improve the lot of the slaves making their clothes.

In some cases, things are so bad that the United States government has actually banned imports from particular nations because the workers' rights, human rights, and safety violations are so bad that even a scumbag Republican like the current American president can't sleep at night knowing the facts.

One example is the former Burma, now known as Myanmar. The human rights record of Myanmar is so bad that Americans are not allowed to import products made there.

Enter the Spalding Group, who at their website explains they are "the nation's premier provider of printed campaign materials and campaign related products and services, providing expert campaign marketing solutions exclusively to Republican candidates and organizations."

The Spalding Group, being exclusively Republican, obviously sees themselves, as all wealthy Republicans do, as being above the law and immune to prosecutorial retribution. And for good reason! They are supplying the current American president with his campaign attire and if the President can't protect you . . . well, who can?!?!?!?

In these days of branding and logos, he quaint, if sometimes oversized and garish, campaign button isn't sufficient for either a political campaign or the profiteering of scum like The Spalding Group. Now we have an entire line of clothing emblazoned with candidate and campaign logos. Not only are the clothes ugly, of course (and this is true irrespective of the candidate or party affiliation), but they are ludicrously expensive. Visit any candidates online store and you will see that you no longer get a t-shirt for free, but you have to pay for your own lawn signs now!

But I digress . . .

The Spalding Group decided to sell Bush-Cheyney '04 fleece pullovers. A popular item. Problem is, they were made in Myanmar (formerly Burma) which is a nation on our country's banned list. In fact, the ban was signed not by some sneaky Democrat, but by the current American president himself!

This may seem trivial, but it is not. This is exactly the way the Republicans operate. As long as they are making plenty of money, then they are patriots. If they have to break the law a little, well too bad. It's not the Republicans fault that Myanmar workers are paid less than seven cents an hour, and the only people complaining are unAmerican unPatriotic left-wing liberals. No decent American would ever speak-out against this.

And they are correct. We all go around in our Nikes, eating Nestle products, buying CDs from multi-national conglomerates and complaining about our lot in life without taking any responsibility for the state of world affairs.

The Republican party has made a mess of America, and they are convincing consumers that acquisition of money and material is the road to freedom, patriotism and happiness. This is not true and this notion is part of what has taken America on its recent downward spiral.

If you buy Nike, you are part of the problem.

If you buy Nestle, you are part of the problem.

If you vote Republican, you ARE the problem.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Charlotte

So eager to see the world she arrived a month earlier than expected!

16 MAR 04 16:14
42cm 1730gms

Beautiful. Loud. Active. Hungry.

Peace.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Priests' Tough Questions

In January of this year, the National Catholic Reporter published an editorial discussing The Vatican's continued attacks on homosexuals, woman, and sexuality in general. It is not the kind of article I ever expected to see in a Roman Catholic publication. The publication of the article gives me hope that there really are people with brains working within the Church, and their compassion combined with their intellect might provide a beacon of hope to the millions of Catholics who are confused about their love for humanity being in direct conflict with the political positions assumed by Church leadership.

PRIESTS' TOUGH QUESTIONS ARE A SERVICE TO THEIR PEOPLE
NCR Editorial 010904


So what's going on with U.S. priests?

No small irony attaches to the fact that at a time when speaking out or raising tough questions could quickly derail a cleric's career, more and more priests are uniting to publicly confront their bishops over leadership matters and to take stands on some of the most difficult issues confronting the church. We're not certain why this recent flurry of activity has taken place, but it is one of the healthiest signs we have observed in the priesthood in recent time. In an institution aching for leadership, some priests are finding the courage to step up and, in a true example of pastoral service, to raise the deep concerns of the people they serve.

Perhaps no step has been as remarkable or courageous as that taken by 23 Chicago priests who signed a letter strongly objecting to "the increase in the use of violent and abusive language" in Vatican declarations directed at gays and lesbians. The letter particularly objects to the use of such expressions as "serious depravity," "grave detriment to the common good" and "intrinsically disordered" when referring to homosexuality. "Does anyone consider this vile and toxic language invitational?" The letter asks. It goes on to urge "a new atmosphere of openness to dialogue, which includes the lived experience of many Catholic members."

The letter is the latest in a string of correspondence involving hundreds of priests who have publicly signed messages to the hierarchy. The first occurred in Boston when nearly 60 priests signed a letter asking for Cardinal Bernard Law's resignation for his role in the sex abuse scandal, That letter reportedly was significant in convincing the Vatican to move Law out of Boston. More recently, 170 Milwaukee priests wrote an open letter asking for reconsideration of the celibate male-only rule for ordination, a move that has inspired similar letters signed by hundreds of priests across the country. And in New York, two groups of priests have asked their bishops for face-to-face meetings about issues of leadership and about due process for priests accused of sex abuse.

The Chicago case provides some valuable measures for evaluating both the requests of the priests on the whole range of issues addressed by the various initiatives and the chance that any dialogue will progress beyond the request stage. Chicago Cardinal Francis George responded to his priests, acknowledging that church language ("a philosophical and theological barrier to welcoming homosexuals and indicating he would be willing to discuss the matter." However he also made clear that any dialogue would be tightly circumscribed. God "knows the difference between right and wrong," he told his priests, "and he expects us to know it, to live accordingly and, as ordained priests, to preach the demands of the Gospel with integrity to every group." And that means calling homosexuals to conversion and acceptance of the churchÂ’s teachings on "the use of the gift of sexuality."

So ever the stalemate. It is correct to wonder what the priests expect. Just as it is correct to wonder how this church, in which the search for truth should be the oxygen for the sanctuary lamp, has become so absolutely terrified of questions and new revelations about human behavior. The priests questioning the language used about homosexuals might not be experts in human behavior and sexuality, but they are expert in observing the lived experience of their people. Not a good basis for doing theology? For understanding deeper truths?

Church history would say otherwise. Change in thinking has always come from the bottom up, not from the top down. From slavery to usury to the very mechanics of the heavens, to a grudging acceptance that sexual pleasure is not necessarily sinful, the impetus for change has almost always derived from lived experience of the people or from understanding born of experimentation and study. Not all change is good, but popes and cardinals deny the best of the Catholic tradition when they consistently resist even the questions that could lead to reconsidering traditions and assumptions.

One might reasonably expect church leaders to be especially careful when claiming to know the mind of God in the area of sexuality. This is, after all, the church that perpetuated the Manichean pessimism of Augustine on matters of sex; that bore the Thomistic notion that "woman is defective and misbegotten"; that gave rise to the Irish "penitentials," lists of sins and penances -- in effect an extensive catalogue of offenses regarding sexual positions and attitudes; and that taught that menstruation was a special sign of impurity.

How well, really, in all that, did we understand God's mind? How many poor souls were unjustly subjected to tortured lives because their experience, their understanding of God's goodness, of right and wrong, did not march with hierarchical assertions eventually shown to be wrong?

Certainly there is something to be said about the dissonance that church language will generate at times in contemporary culture. But it is impossible to find even that ecclesiastical vacuum where language is scrubbed entirely of psychological and political meaning. The language of recent Vatican decrees on homosexuality arrives dripping with political and cultural baggage -- a linguistic Molotov cocktail thrown into the circle of civil discourse.

To the priests, we say it is impossible to know where your initiatives will lead. Who can say if you'll find someone to talk to, an honest dialogue that doesn't begin with all the questions already answered? WE can only encourage you not to abandon your questions -- about ordination, about leadership and accountability, about the church's approach to homosexuals. Know that your concern for the welfare of the eucharistic community -- the entire community -- is deeply appreciated. Keep leading. Keep listening to your people.


I know a priest who was removed from his position as pastor of a Boston parish after signing his letter to remove Bernard Law as Cardinal of the Boston Archdiocese. It was a typical Vatican business move: you speak-up and you will be discredited. His parishoners were flabbergasted, but the powers-that-be paid them no heed, and some walked away.

It is wonderful that some priests are standing-up and saying that the Church's continued anti-woman, anti-sex, and anti-gay stances are wrong.

Church leadership needs to examine its position on human sexuality and 21st Century humanity. Catholics are not just a bunch of mindless bigots awaiting the latest orders from Rome. Most Catholics in the United States are upwardly-mobile, over-educated, politically active, civic-minded citizens. Many (most?) of them are not homophobic and most Catholic hetereosexual couples I know share equally in the efforts and bounty of theur human efforts. The woman is not necessarily subserviant to the man!

For the Church to continue to promote dogma that is unChristian, unAmerican, and inhumane is counter-productive, and I hope the idiots in Rome will listen to the priests who are speaking up.

Peace.

The NCR editorial

Monday, March 15, 2004

National "I'm Embarrassed By My President" Day

"Are you embarrassed by the arrogance, greed, shortsightedness, selfishness, and outright lies told by George W. Bush?" asks democracymeansyou.com.

This year, the folks at Democracy Means You want to make April Fools Day about the biggest fools in the world: American voters.

Instead of sharing some urban myth in hopes of tricking your friends and shouting "April Fools!" on Thursday, April 1, 2004, take action by admitting what fools we are and how embarrassed we are about our nation by wearing brown to say: "I'm Embarrassed By My President!"

Go to Democracy Means You to get details.

Peace.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Dear Stephanie Accaputo, How About A Civics Lesson?!?

My friend Karen sent the article below from Common Dreams. It is amazing!

Howard Zinn, a professor at Boston University with whom you may or may not agree, was invited to speak to a group of "upper-level" students at a High School in Rhode Island. This sounds great! Bringing in college professors to discuss and debate with high school students. A brilliant idea!

Bob Tingle, a parent who has a daughter at the school, was so angered by Zinn's presence that he addressed the local School Committee. I may think Tingle is a total ass for having such a narrow, incorrect and stupid outlook on America and freedom, but he at least exercised his civic duty of meeting with his elected officials to make known his feelings, and for that I applaud him.

Stephanie Accaputo, "who has three young children in the school system," on the other hand, expressed a position so unAmerican that it is embarrassing to think she might have received ANY education in the United States. This woman says that political discussions have no place in a high school (guess she never heard of Civics class or Debate Club) and that Zinn should leave the country if he disagrees with the government!

Holy shit, Stephanie Accaputo, I know fascism had quite a run of popularity in the first half of the last century; but, don't you realize the things you are condemning (open debate and the right to disagree) are part of what made our nation great, and why immigrants like your ancestors came to this country?

Please, Ms. Accaputo, consider taking a basic civics class or relocating to some totalitarian dictatorship where people with your opinion are first applauded, then marched off to prison for having an opinion. It's idiots like you who are destroying our great nation!

Thank God the students at this school have minds that are open to differing opinions and know the value of open dialog. Maybe they can teach their parents a few things.

The article:

Activist's Talk at High School Irks Parents
by Katie Mulvaney
(Published on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 by the Providence Journal)

SOUTH KINGSTOWN -- Bob Tingle was incensed to learn how his daughter Kimberly had spent last Tuesday at school. She and more than 200 other South Kingstown High School students had attended a lecture by historian and anti-war protester Howard Zinn.

The author and activist told the students of his objections to American foreign policy and to President Bush.

Last night it was Tingle who took a stand before the School Committee. He described Zinn's message as "poisonous venom." He demanded to know who authorized the controversial speaker; which students had been invited to the lecture; and why parents had not been required to sign permission slips.

"My daughter missed three periods to hear this garbage," Tingle said. "This has crossed the line; this is way over the line."

He read excerpts from articles by Zinn calling Iraq an occupied state and drawing a parallel between America and Nazi Germany.

A professor emeritus of political science at Boston University, Zinn is best known for his book A People's History of the United States, which presents American history through social movements.

Tingle asked for an apology from whoever authorized Zinn's speech and that future lectures be more "mainstream." The person responsible should be fired, he said.

The School Committee did not respond to Tingle's questioning, as per its policy during the public comment period. But Supt. Robert Hicks explained earlier in the meeting that a student had approached Zinn, whose talk was in keeping with issues upper-level students were analyzing in class. A stimulating point-counterpoint exchange followed the lecture, he said, adding that the school has a policy of academic freedom.

Tingle's comments drew supporters, and objectors. "If [Zinn] doesn't like the way this country's run, he shouldn't be here," said Stephanie Accaputo, who has three young children in the school system.

She suggested that a conservative speaker be invited to address students. But, she said: "Political ideas shouldn't be discussed in high school."

Sophomore Simon Riley explained that the students who attended Zinn's lecture were selected "based on intellectual ability." They are capable of taking various political opinions "with a grain of salt."

He welcomed the prospect of a conservative lecturer. "I think the more conversation there is, the better."

Andy Tran, also a sophomore, agreed. "I would just like to say opinions shouldn't be extinguished."


Let's hope Simon Riley, Andy Tran, and the other students of South Kingston High School can educate the irked adults in their community!

Peace.

The Bill Of Rights (Ms. Accaputo, please note Amendment I)

Common Dreams

ZNet's Howard Zinn Page

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Offshore

The biggest failure of Reagonmics, supply-side economics, the re-engineered workplace, and globalization is not the disappointment that prices have gone up instead of down, it is the shameful exploitation of pro-business legislation that allows your employer to simply pack-up and move offshore (taking your job with him) while still enjoying all the tax and business benefits of being a US corporation.

I don't care what the corporate apologists will say about this trend, it is wrong.

These companies give NOTHING back to America, while taking everything they can get!

Lou Dobbs of CNN has distributed a list of companies outsourcing American jobs.

Next time you are doing business with one of these companies, tell the representative that you know they ship American jobs off-shore and you do not like it.

3Com
3M

A
Accenture
Adaptec
ADC
Adobe Systems
Advanced Energy Industries
Aetna
Affiliated Computer Services
AFS Technologies
A.G. Edwards
Agere Systems
Agilent Tech.
AIG
Alamo Rent A Car
Albertson's
Allen Systems Group
Alliance Semiconductor
Allstate
Alpha Thought Global
Amazon.com
AMD
American Express
American Household
American Management Systems
American Standard
AMETEK
Amphenol Corp.
Analog Devices
ANDA Networks
Andrew Corp.
Anheuser-Busch
AOL
A.O. Smith
Apple
Applied Materials
Art Leather Manufacturing
ArvinMeritor
A.T. Cross Company
AT&T
AT&T Wireless
A.T. Kearney
Automatic Data Processing
Avanade
Avaya
Avery Dennison

B
Bank of America
Bank of New York
Bank One
Bassett Furniture
BearingPoint
Bear Stearns
Bechtel
Becton Dickinson
BellSouth
Bentley Systems
Berdon LLP
Best Buy
BISSELL
Black & Decker
Bose Corporation
BMC Software
Boeing
Braden Manufacturing
Bristol-Myers Squibb
Brocade
Bumble Bee

C
Cadence Design Systems
Candle Corporation
Capital One
Carrier
Caterpillar
Celestica
Cendant
Cerner Corporation
Charles Schwab
ChevronTexaco
CIBER
Ciena
Cigna
Circuit City, Inc.
Cisco Systems
Citigroup
Clorox
CNA
Coca-Cola
Cognizant Technology Solutions
Collins & Aikman
Columbia House
Comcast Holdings
Computer Associates
Computer Sciences Corporation
CompuServe
Continental Airlines
Convergys
Cooper Crouse-Hinds
Cooper Tire & Rubber
Cooper Tools
Countrywide Financial
COVAD Comm.
Crown Holdings
CSX
Cummins
Cypress Semiconductor

D
Dana Corporation
Daws Manufacturing
Delco Remy
Dell Computer
Delphi
Delta Air Lines
Delta Apparel
Direct TV
Discover
Document Sciences Corp.
Donaldson Company
Dow Chemical
Dresser
Dun & Bradstreet
DuPont

E
Earthlink
Eastman Kodak
Eaton Corporation
Electroglas
Electronic Data Systems
Electronics for Imaging
Eli Lilly
Elmer's Products
E-Loan
EMC
Emerson Electric
En Pointe Technologies
Equifax
Ernst & Young
Ethan Allen
Evolving Systems
Expedia
Extrasport
ExxonMobil

F
Fair Isaac
FCI USA
Fedders Corporation
Federal Mogul
Federated Dept. Stores
Fellowes
Fender Musical Instruments
Fidelity Investments
Financial Techologies International
First American Title Ins.
First Data
First Index
Flowserve
Fluor
FMC Corporation
Ford Motor
Foster Wheeler
Franklin Mint
Franklin Templeton
Freeborders
Frito Lay
Fruit of the Loom

G
Gateway
GE Capital
General Electric
General Motors
Gerber Childrenswear
GlobespanVirata
Goldman Sachs
Goodrich
Goodyear Tire & Rubber
Google
Greenpoint Mortgage
Guardian Life Insurance
Guilford Mills

H
Halliburton
Haggar
The Hartford Financial Services Group
HealthAxis
Helen of Troy Corp.
Hershey
Hewitt Associates
Hewlett-Packard
The Holmes Group
Home Depot
Honeywell
HSN
Hubbell Inc.
Humana
HyperTech Solutions

I
IBM
iGate Corporation
Illinois Tool Works
IMI Cornelius
IndyMac Bancorp
Infogain
Ingersoll-Rand
Innodata Isogen
Innova Solutions
Intel
Intl. Paper
Intuit
Invacare
ITT Educational Services
ITT Industries

J
Jabil Circuit
Jacobs Engineering
Jacuzzi
JDS Uniphase
Jockey International
Johnson Controls
Johnson & Johnson
JPMorgan Chase
Juniper Networks

K
KANA Software
Kaiser Permanente
Keane
Kellogg
Kellwood
Kemet
KeyCorp
Kimberly-Clark
KLA-Tencor
Kraft Foods
Kulicke and Soffa Industries
Kwikset

L
Lawson Software
Lands' End
Lear Corporation
Lehman Brothers
Levi Strauss
Lexmark International
Lifescan
Lillian Vernon
Linksys
Lionbridge Technologies
Lionel
LiveBridge
Lockheed Martin
Lowe's
Lucent

M
Marathon Oil
Maritz
Marshall Fields
Mattel
Maytag
McDATA Corporation
McKinsey & CO
MeadWestvaco
Medtronic
Mellon Bank
Merrill Corporation
Merrill Lynch
Metasolv
MetLife
Microsoft
Midcom Inc.
Monsanto
Morgan Stanley
Motorola

N
Nabco
Nabisco
NACCO Industries
National City Corporation
National Life
National Semiconductor
NCR Corporation
neoIT
NETGEAR
Network Associates
Newell Rubbermaid
New York Life Insurance Co.
Northrop Grumman
Northwest Airlines

O
Office Depot
Ohio Art
ON Semiconductor
Orbitz
Oracle
OshKosh B'Gosh
Otis Elevator Co.
Outsource Partners International
Owens Corning

P
palmOne
Parker-Hannifin
Parsons E&C
Pearson Digital Learning
PeopleSoft
PepsiCo
Pericom Semiconductor
Perot Systems
Pfizer
Pitney Bowes
Planar Systems
Portal Software
Pratt & Whitney
Primus Telecom
Procter & Gamble
ProQuest
Providian Financial
Prudential Insurance

Q
Quark
Qwest Comm.

R
Rainbow Technologies
Radio Shack
Rawlings Sporting Goods
Raytheon Aircraft
RCG Information Technology
Regence Group
Rockwell Automations
Rogers
Rohm & Haas
RR Donnelley & Sons
Russell Corporation

S
Sabre
Safeway
SAIC
Sallie Mae
Sanmina-SCI
SBC Comm.
Schumacher Electric
SEI Investments
Seton Company
Siebel Systems
Sikorsky
Silicon Graphics
SITEL
SMC Networks
Sola Optical USA
Solectron
Sovereign Bancorp
Sprint
Sprint PCS
Square D
Stanley Furniture
Stanley Works
Starkist Seafood
State Farm Insurance
State Street
StorageTek
StrategicPoint Investment Advisors
Sun Microsystems
SunTrust Banks
Supra Telecom
SurePrep
The Sutherland Group
Sykes Enterprises
Symbol Technologies
Synygy

T
Target
Tecumseh
Telcordia
Teleflex
TeleTech
Tellabs
Tenneco Automotive
Teradyne
Texas Inst.
Textron
Thomas & Betts
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
Time Warner
The Timken Company
The Toro Company
Tower Automotive
Toys "R" Us
Trans Union
Travelocity
Trinity Industries
Triquint Semiconductor
TriVision Partners
Tropical Sportswear
TRW Automotive
Tumbleweed Communications
Tyco Electronics
Tyco Intl.

U
Union Pacific Railroad
Unisys
United Airlines
UnitedHealth Group Inc.
United Online
United Technologies
USAA

V
Valence Technology
VA Software
Veritas
Verizon
VF Corporation
Vishay
VITAL Sourcing

W
Wachovia Bank
Warnaco
Washington Group Intl.
Washington Mutual
WellChoice
Werner Co.
West Corporation
Weyerhaeuser
Whirlpool
White Rodgers
Wolverine World Wide
WorldCom
Wyeth

X
Xerox
Xpitax

Y
Yahoo!
York International

Z
Zenith


We all do some business with some of these corporations. It probably seems impossible to avoid them all. What is important is that you take SOME action, ANY action. Pick one of the companies and refuse to do business with them. Write them and tell them why. Then call your elected officials and tell their office that you want NO government contracts, tax dollars, tax breaks, or grants to go to that company, ever.

Talk to your friends and family about this list. Spread the list around and tell people that these are the companies destroying the American dream by pushing unemployment to all-time highs.

Peace.

The List Online

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Forgotten

The Forgotten Wins Sedona Film Festival's Best of Fest Award


The Sedona Film festival celebrated its tenth anniversary last week, and an indie film of which I am a fan won the Best of Festival Award!

According to the Festival's website: "Our schedule includes a Southwest Classics and Emerging Filmmakers Series, childrenÂ’s hands-on filmmaking and highly regarded industry professional workshop series hosted by our Workshop Founder and Academy award winner Frank Warner. Of course, features and short films from around the world are screened in competition with world premieres. All films are channeled through our selection committee in Sedona, Los Angeles, New York, Canada, Austria, Denmark and Australia. For 2004, we anticipate an engaging and entertaining festival as we celebrate our 10th anniversary."

The festival schedule lists "The Forgotten" this way:

October, 1950 (North Korea) - - As the war intensifies, a young soldier and his tank crew find themselves isolated from the company. Fighting against unseen enemies and waning spirits, Corporal Byrne and his men crisscross the landscape in search of allies. Struggling with his faith in the face of this chaos, William must lead his men to safety and - with hope - to those they've left behind.

Director/Filmmaker: Vincente Stasolla
Producers: Vincente Stasolla, Mark Rabinowitz, Henry Simonds, Laura Berning
Cinematographer: Learan Kahanov
Editor: Joel Hirsh
Principle Cast: Randy Ryan, David McMahan, Salim Rahman, Stephen Kilcullen, Malcolm Barrett, B. Ouyang
Print Source: Headwater Films LLC, 412-877-3528, henrysimonds@hotmail.com


Last year, I enjoyed the privilege of attending a screening of the film while the producers were looking for a distributor.

This is not your standard glitzy, gleeful war movie. There are no Hollywood affleck-tations presented as tedious, nonsensical love interests. No plot twists based on the self-centered emotionalism of some half-baked proto-television cum pin-up star. No schpielberg-ian special effects. The movie is a well-crafted, almost noir production that is elegant in its sparsenesss. The story grabs you without the aforementionedd mainstream tricks so familiar in modern cinema.

The film follows a tank crew who have become separatedd from the rest of their company in enemy territory north of the 38th Parallel, in 1950. The intensity of the stressful relationships between soldiers is amazing, and is complicated when a wounded POW is taken and cared-for while the crew searches for the rest of their company.

Done in a style that harkens back to the films of Sam Fuller, the sparseness of the production and the minimalist cast also reminded me of the television show "Combat" which I remember quite fondly from my childhood. (The production is of a much higher quality than that television show, and I got goosebumps from the memories.)

When "The Forgotten" comes to your city, go and see it.

Congratulations to the cast, crew, and producers of this wonderful film!

Peace.

Links:

The Forgotten Official Site

The Sedona International Film Festival and Workshop official site

Here is the flaglive.com write-up

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Remember Laura Schlessinger?

Laura Schlessinger rode a wave of hatred and intolerance to fifteen minutes of fame as a fake doctor dispensing advice and hateful swill during the mid-late 1990s.

Then it all went awry for the good doctor! Seems she had pulled a St. Augustine and had a lovely past for us to chat about. Dr. Laura, she who brought the good word that everything in the bible was accurate and everything about anyone different from her was bad, had herself posed nude for a series of photographs in the 1970s! Suddenly her morality was bared (no pun intended) for the shallow marketing ploy it really is!

You can see a collection of these pictures for free at Bashful Monkey. WARNING! This is a link to an adult site. If you will be offended, then don't click the link!

So repulsive and out of the mainstream was her message that she was brought down in no time by five friends who got together and started a website to expose her evilness (not her breasts). Just as Paramount Television launched a syndicate television show for her, the Stop Dr. Laura website with a budget a mere eighteen grand, brought her fascist little career to a stand-still!

Stop Dr. Laura was a fave website of mine, and you can read it's history at the site.

Things got bad for her and then got worse when her breasts were bared.

She is now on the hot circuit of Bakersfield, CA, Rockford, IL, Thousand Oaks, CA, Pasadena, CA, Roseville, CA, and Salt Lake City, UT! I'm sure Dr. Laura would explain that she is on this circuit because this is where God-fearing people reside, and her message is heard by those who most appreciate it. Sadly, the truth is that Bakersfield and Salt Lake City are as good as it gets for her holiness because nobody residing in a real metropolitan area would have anything to do with her! She's a friggin' idiot!

Like most fascists, Dr. Laura is now picking on libraries and trying to have them shuttered or their books banned because they do not fit into Dr. Laura's Zieg Heil! image of a decent America where Jews marry other Jews, goyim keep to themselves, homosexuality is cured, the races never mix, wives are beaten, pregnancy is enforced, and we are all the willing slaves of her hateful g*d.

Fortunately, librarians are fighting back. Check out the Anarchist Librarians.

I was moved to write and post this blog when I received an old email from my friend jendi.

You've probably read it before, but it's worth reading again because it is hysterically funny!

Laura Schlessinger is a US radio personality, who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. On her radio show, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination, according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a US resident, which was posted on the Internet.

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18 22 clearly states it to be an abomination ... End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21: 7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. T e problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1: 9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev.24:10-16). Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 24:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan


If you see Dr. Laura, give her hell! The woman is scum of the lowest form and should be humiliated wherever she goes. She may be off the radar now, but scum like her always comes back. Beware!

Peace.

Links:

A nice little bio and timeline from Rotten.

Dr. Laura wins a Rush Limbaugh Award for Excellence in Conservative Hypocrisy!

A page by either.or.com with a TON of links!

An article by webpan.com

Monday, March 08, 2004

England's Football Association Fights Homophobia




I never think of sports associations, sports clubs, or athletes as getting involved in the fight against homophobia. In fact, I never think of these groups doing anything but getting more money for themselves, irrespective of the impact it has on those around them.

I am pleasantly surprised to learn about the England Football Association's (the FA) campaign against homophobia. The FA is leading the way in the fight against homophobia in sport, and the Dutch and Spanish football associations are turning to the English model for plans in their countries!

The FA's commitment to this campaign is not just political or theoretical. In 2002, the Stonewall FC (Football Club) won the top of Middlesex County League Premier Division and reached the finals of the League Cup. It's name should give away its uniqueness, but for the uninitiated, Stonewall FC is a team comprised of gay men. In most sports, gay men and lesbians must form their own leagues and compete against one another. I am amazed that a team of gay men is in a league that is part of a nation's professional association. This must be unprecedented.

Discussing homophobia in public is the only way to eradicate it. The more you speak up about it, the more likely it will become unacceptable.

As an American, I can't imagine any official sports governing body allowing a team of gay men to participate in their sport. There'd be some Bakke-like cries of reverse discrimination, and talk about homosexuals being bad role-models for children, and a bunch of other fundamentalist lies. In our so-called free country, there is little room for those who do not fit into a rigid mold of normalcy.

Any effort to fight homophobia is noble. The FA is to be applauded for taking this bold and unprecedented step!

Peace.

The FA's article about the "Football For All" program

The Official Site of Stonewall FC

The European Gay & Lesbian Sport Federation

Friday, March 05, 2004

Bush's Re-election Advertising Disgrace

In January, 2003, while discussing the tragedies of September 11, 2001, President Bush said "I have no ambition whatsoever to use this as a political issue."

Like every other promise this man and his fundamentalist posse has made, it is broken.

Bush has released an election ad that uses footage of firefighters emerging from the ruins of the World Trade Center. After spending the past three years de-funding fire fighting agencies from coast to coast, even after so many firefighters voted for him in 2000, Bush is now using their precious and heroic images for his own personal gain.

Fire fighters are the bravest Americans. We rely on them for so much. While they battle to protect us, we undermine them by electing fundamentalists who take away their funding and jeopardize their safety. It is time to pay homage and respect to our fire fighters by getting Bush out of office and embarking on a campaign to take control of our country away from the Republicans and the fundamentalists who would have all of your public services privatized and failing.

The General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, Harold Schaitberger, has condemned Bush's campaign.

"Bush is calling on the biggest disaster in our country's history, and indeed in the history of the fire service, to win sympathy for his campaign. Since the attacks, Bush has been using images of himself putting his arm around a retired FDNY fire fighter on the pile of rubble at ground zero. But for two and a half years he has basically shortchanged fire fighters and the safety of our homeland by not providing fire fighters the resources needed to do the job that America deserves. . . ."

Read Schaitberger's eloquent words at the IAFF website.

George Bush and the fundamentalists he fronts are the most despicable human beings on the planet. They protect scum like Henry Kissinger, Osama binLaden, Neal Bush, Ken Lay, and corporate raiders coast to coast, while dismantling the social programs that maintain our infrastructure and human services. They line their pockets with your tax dollars while we fight about athletes on steroids, gay marriage, and Janet Jackson's breasts.

Stop them now!

I am angry about Bush's exploitation of America's 9/11 tragedy, and if you are, I hope you will take action. Speaking-out is the most powerful tool Americans possess. Our Consitution guarantees us the right to speak-out whenever we want, and you should try it before Bush and his crew abridge that freedom.

Every community has at least one newspaper that serves it. MoveOn.org suggests writing to the editor of your local newspaper to express your outrage at Bush's ad campaign and his mistreatment of fire fighters; and MoveOn.org offers these tips on writing an effective letter:

- Brevity is the soul of wit. 250 words is the absolute maximum, 150 words is even better.

- The key to publication is to pounce on something specific you've seen in the newspaper -- such as a story on the Bush advertising.

- Be sure to include your name and address, and especially your phone number when submitting your letter. Editors need to call you to verify authorship before they can print your letter. They don't print your phone number.

- Your newspaper's letters page should give you an email address or fax number to use, or you can try Congress.org's website


After you mail the letter, visit MoveOn.org and tell them you have done it.

Get active. Start writing. Make noise. Save your nation from the fundamentalists who want to silence you!

Peace.

The IAFF website

You can see the despicable "Safer, Stronger" ad at Bush's own website

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Cremaster Cycle



I went to the Guggenheim to see Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle exhibition at the Guggenheim last year. This is what I wrote about it then:

I watched parts 2-5 of the Cremaster series. Now I need to see part one (because I arrived too late).

I was absolutely floored by the series. Absolutely amazing. He forced me to question and examine every relationship I encountered: wet/dry, good/evil, penis/vagina, order/disorder, short/tall, soft/hard, right/wrong, the dynamics of sexual intercourse, consumption of food, comfort, death were all skewed in such a way to be downright uncomfortable.

Part 2 is a Western and was the most disturbing of the pieces I watched as it included the Gary Gilmore story and lots of imagery about prisons and death; but also included gorgeously incongruous footage of the Canadian wilderness. It made me uneasy, but it was beautifully done. Barney played Gilmore and Norman Mailer (I am no fan) played Harry Houdini, who is alleged to be Gilmore's grandfather (in real life, not in the film).

Part 3 (the most recent release) really should have been two movies. The first half is about the creation of the Chrysler Building and uses images of food, violence, Masonic cults, automobiles, sex, alcohol, crime and human relations. The finale of the first half includes amazing footage of the tower's spire being wrapped in ribbon (and, of course, a mandatory murder). The second half is a sort of celebration of the Cremaster cycle I would call Guggenheim-A-Go-Go. Each level of the Guggenheim museum was turned into a fantastic level of stimulation. The first level was a bubble bath of beautiful woman moving up to The Rockettes tapping and dancing, then to a rock 'n roll shootout between punk bands Murphy's Law and Agnostic Front, next was a sensual (then violent) display between the protagonist and Aimee Mullins, the legless beauty who transforms into a leopard for the not-so-nice sequence between them, moving on to a plastic sculpture of fellowship completed by Barney by tossing pieces in the air and hoping they land properly, then finally to a scene of sculpture Richard Serra throwing melted paraffin or petroleum jelly against the wall at the top of the museums ramping galleries so that it then flowed down the length of the museum.

All of these scenes are successfully installed in the main gallery now while the films play in the theater.

Part three was three hours long and clearly delineated between the Chrysler Building and the museum. It was almost perfectly executed with only two or three continuity errors (shortcomings?) in the entire piece. Not bad for three hours!

Part 4 is the weakest of the series. It was made first and the idea was clearly still germinating. Technologically it is uncomfortable, but the creative force shines through in spite of the technology. The protagonist satyr is a wonder to look at, and the Isle of Man is a beautiful site, but the incongruity of the racing sidecars made me fidget in my seat too much. So, it is successful.

Part 5 is an opera that completes the creative cycle of ascension to descension. It is beautifully filmed in the Budapest opera house, is easy to watch and wonderfully acted. Ursulla Andress plays the Queen. I love her because she is part of so many adolescent 'happy memories'!

Half of Cremaster 3 is now available on DVD. I wish the series could be purchased on DVD or VHS. I would love to own them. I saw DVDs on display in the galleries, but they are not for sale. I got the book.

If you can see it, do it!

Peace.

Cremaster

The Guggenheim

Cremaster at The Gugg

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Next Step? Defeat Bush

Now that John Kerry has secured enough delegates to win the Democratic nomination for November's presidential election, it is time to move on to the next step: defeating Bush.

Many of us with anti-Bush sentiments feel strongly that he will be defeated in November. I caution you that we musn't let history repeat itself. If any of the states are close, you should count on the Supreme Court giving those states electoral votes to Bush.

We must work to ensure that each of our states are won by Kerry with a clear majority.

The Bush campaign has over three billion dollars to spend on this election, and their campaign will start very soon. That money will be spent mostly on television advertisements, because Americans mostly sit numbly in front of their televisions asking to be told what to do. They are going to be told that George Bush is a good president who has moved our country forward into a new era of prosperity. As you might know, this is a lie. Things have never been worse, and this president could make Herbert Hoover look like a god-send.

The economy has never been worse, the tax laws passed by this administration are crippling our nation, the wars we are involved in are endless and unwinnable, the social backlash against the disenfranchised is appalling, and Bush's friends are lining their pockets with the money from our Treasury. If there has been a darker time in American history, I do not know about it.

MoveOn.org has started a political action committee to help defeat Bush, and they are looking for help. I received this message from them:

On Thursday, President Bush will go on the air with his first campaign ads -- a $3.6 million blitz.

This is it, folks -- the fight is on. So today, we're launching the MoveOn PAC and our major campaign to beat President Bush in the fall election. We'd like to know if we can count on your help and how much time and energy you're willing to give to the cause.

As a member of the campaign to take back the White House, we'll send you special emails that identify ways in which you can help swing the election -- from writing post cards to voters in swing states to distributing flyers to holding house parties for the nominee. We're asking for a commitment of a certain number of hours per week on average -- if you don't have time to help out one week, you can make it up another.

We'll need MoveOn members to pledge over 1,000,000 hours between now and November 2nd to beat George Bush and take back our country. It's a big number, but if we each pledge just a few hours a week, we'll far exceed it. We've posted a running tally of the hours pledged on the page above.

President Bush has already raised hundreds of millions for his bid. Our great hope is in our collective power to get out the vote. We'll work via the Internet, the telephone, and face-to-face conversations with voters. And we'll take back our democracy, city by city, block by block, and voter by voter.

It's clear that our nation needs new leadership. We can make that a reality if we work together.

Sincerely,
--Adam, Carrie, Eli, James, Joan, Laura, and Wes
The MoveOn PAC Team
March 2nd, 2004

President Bush has already raised hundreds of millions for his bid. Our great hope is in our collective power to get out the vote. We'll work via the Internet, the telephone, and face-to-face conversations with voters. And we'll take back our democracy, city by city, block by block, and voter by voter. Are you in? Sign the pledge:

"I pledge to help defeat George Bush and take our country back."

Those of us who live in states where we think Bush will be defeated must work just as hard as those in Republican stronghold states. Even Kerry's home state of Massachusetts (which elected that scumbag Mitt Romney as the Governor) must work to ensure that Bush does not steal another election.

Please consider becoming active in your community.

Peace.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

California Grocery Workers

I have been following the California grocery workers strike for months and began writing articles several times, but never got anything finished to blog here.

The crux of the strike was the workers standing up to chain store management and refusing to take pay cuts to keep their jobs. The scenario is happening everywhere: employers say they have to make cuts, so you will receive fewer benefits, less pay, and little or no retirement. At the same time, the boards of directors and officers of the corporation are given huge bonuses, vulgar salaries, free stock options, and golden parachutes that allow them to retire in maximum comfort at an early age.

In these days of government give-backs to corporate America, it is deemed unpatriotic to question this sort of plan and most of us are so grateful to have a job that we are happy to pay more for our health benefits and worry about retirement later.

I am proud that the California grocery workers stood up and fought to save their health care benefits and the chains' demands to freeze their pension funds.

For five months, over 59,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers stood on picket lines and lived on strike wages until the stores came to the table with a fair offer. This weekend, the union voted in support of a new three-year contract with Safeway, Kroger, Ralphs and Albertsons. If negotiations continue to go smoothly, they could be back to work this week!

The lack of affordable health care for US citizens, and the threats by Alan Greenspan to eliminate Social Security have put all of us in a bad situation. Sadly, nobody wants to talk about these things. The media wants you to talk about Janet Jackson's breast and gay marriage while the owners of the media outlets work with the fundamentalists in the White House to eliminate all worker benefits, pension funds, and job security.

The heroism of the California grocery workers should be celebrated, not ignored! By fighting Safeway, Kroger, and Albertsons, they have proven that we can defend our jobs and our families and future. Maybe we could even demand that our elected officials pass some laws that protect our jobs, pensions and health care! The media is going to do little to promote this victory because they do not want their own workers to get any ideas about demanding fairness. So, you must tell others about this, and promote the idea that we can stand-up and take our country back from the avaricious fundamentalists trying to destroy our great nation.

I know that many say boycotts don't work, and most of us can't be bothered honoring a strike, but please spread the word that the strike by the California grocery workers worked because of boycotts and picket-line honor. Safeway reported losses for the last quarter of 2003 in the area of half a billion dollars. Why did they lose so much? Because people refused to shop there during the strike!

These losses forced Safeway to the bargaining table and forced them to treat the workers fairly.

Strikes work! Boycotts work! Letters of protest work! These actions have worked in America for well-over a hundred years and they still work! If you are angry or fed-up, take action!

Peace.

Links:

Current News Stories at Yahoo

Working Families e-Activist Network

United Food and Commercial Workers

Monday, March 01, 2004

Another Corporation's Callous Disregard

As you may or may not know, most of the music industry is controlled by corporations that know nothing about making music or producing records. Music holdings are now just another item in the portfolios of huge multi-national corporations bent not on distributing art, but maximizing profit.

This has had a terrible effect on the music industry over the past twenty years, and things are not getting any better.

I received the press release below from longtime punk music producer Marty Thau. Marty is the owner of Red Star Records and has released records by the New York Dolls, The Real Kids, Richard Hell, The Ramones, Blondie, and others.

When Heineken Beer started its foray into the music industry a few years ago, they used the "Red Star" monicker, which was an infringement on Thau's business. Through negotiations described below, Heineken agreed to some rather simple points that allowed them to continue their project without infringing on Red Star Records' standing in the music community.

Of course, Heineken has breached the agreement. And since big corporations are rarely held accountable or liable, small business owners, like Thau, are forced to continually battle them to secure their place in the industry.


RED STAR RECORDS VS. HEINEKEN MUSIC INITIATIVE
(PART 2; MORE CALLOUS DISREGARD)

Do you remember last year's dispute between punk producer Marty Thau and Heineken Beer? Thau claimed Heineken's usage of his Red Star Records name was a violation of his rights. Heineken claimed they didn't intentionally or maliciously violate anyone's rights but since Thau hadn't trademarked the Red Star Records name back in 1977 they assumed it was free and clear and usable.

Well, it seems Heineken didn't do their homework because, even without a trademark registration, Thau is legally protected under what is known as Common Law Rights, having operated as Red Star Records for 26 years and releasing records by seminal punk artists like the Ramones, Blondie, New York Dolls, Suicide and Richard Hell.

Thau agreed to settle the dispute amicably, and proposed Heineken use the name Red Star Sounds instead of Red Star Records and only release a limited number of urban music CDs per year with the proper acknowledgement that their Red Star entity was a non-profit corporation designed to benefit urban musicians and was not to be confused with Thau's Red Star Records, a rock 'n roll label. Heineken agreed with Thau's proposal but are not sticking to their urban music only pledge. Thau contends Heineken are violating it by sponsoring and promoting rock videos on Canada's Much Music TV network under the Red Star Sounds name.

It seems that brand marketers, especially beverage companies, are hoping to establish broad connections between music and their products and marketers are looking at all sorts of models for hitching their wagons to digital music.

Some, like Heineken's Red Star Sounds are sponsoring rock music programming, even if it means violating the terms of their agreement with Red Star Records.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: RedStarUSA@aol.com


Thau is no johnny-come-lately! He has been in the music industry for a long time and deserves to have his business protected by the same laws Heineken expects to protect them.

Please consider telling Heineken that you object to their heavy-handed treatment of Red Star Records.

Visit the Heineken Music Initiative site, click "Community" and post on their message board that you support Marty Thau in this conflict!

There is only one way to let the powers-that-be know you are dissatisfied: TELL THEM!

Peace.

More Links:

Article by Thau at cursor.org

Bio Article about Thau

Craig's Booknotes Entry with a Call for Boycott

Article at Hollywood Investigator