Friday, February 26, 2010

A Better Day To Be Cindy Jasmin

Image from WCBS-TVby Dick Mac

Cindy Jasmin, a suspect in the hit-and-run of Erinn Phelan and Alma Guerrero on Flatbush Avenue broke her silence yesterday and publicly explained that her sister was driving her car and is responsible for the crime.

Frances Jasmin will speak to police when she is released from the psychiatric hospital where she has been hospitalized since suffering a mental breakdown after her crime.

I hope that justice will be served.

My Sister Was The Driver Of The Car, at WNBC-TV






Thursday, February 25, 2010

Weiner On Health Care Reform

by Dick Mac

As my patience has dwindled with the Democrats, including those I have helped elect, I longed for one of them to show some testicular fortitude.

The inability of the Democrats to function as a majority is embarrassing. I've said before: "If there is anyone who can screw-up the Democratic majority, it's the Democrats."

Well, a ray of sunshine has appeared in the darkened clouds. I give you my Congressman, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY):







To learn more about Rep. Weiner's campaign for health care reform, visit his Countdown To Health Care site.






Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cindy Jasmin In Additional Traffic Incident. This Time With A Bus!

by Dick Mac

Hit-and-run suspect Cindy Jasmin says it was not her that struck Erinn Phelan and Alma Guerrero on Flatbush Avenue; and in more traffic-related drama has thrown her sister, Frances, under the bus.

Frances Jasmin is in a psychiatric ward in Westchester County, ostensibly because she had a break-down after the accident.

The manager of a car service on Flatbush Avenue insists that it was Cindy Jasmin and has provided police with surveillance video showing a woman fitting her description entering the business after the incident where she explained that she had an accident.

According to press reports, Cindy and Frances Jasmin do not look similar.

I am fascinated by this story, and look forward to police making a determination of who was driving the car.

Read more at the Daily News: Hit-and-run suspect Cindy Jasmin: My sister mowed down Bloomberg aide Erinn Phelan, not me







Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Not A Good Day To Be Cindy Jasmin

Image from WCBS-TVby Dick Mac

Errin Phelan, a 22-year-old volunteer coordinator in the Mayor's office was walking towards a cab stand on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn the other night, with her college friend Alma Guerrero. A green Acura came towards them. Errin pushed Alma out of the way and was struck by the car.

The driver fled.

The car, which was found ditched a short distance away, had been involved in a hit-and-run collision on Flatbush Avenue shortly beforehand, and is owned by Cindy Jasmin. Police want to talk to Ms. Jasmin, but she is nowhere to be found.

Meanwhile, Errin Phelan lies in a coma, on life-support systems, and Alma Guerrero is in stable condition.

My experience as an expatriated New Yorker (hailing from distant New England) is that New Yorkers help each other. No matter how silently people may shuffle the crowded streets, look at their feet on the subway, ignore the din of the city, when someone is in trouble, New Yorkers respond. I see it everywhere.

I don't know if Cindy Jasmin ran down these two women; but it is reported she has an atrocious driving record, and has disappeared. Her family will not cooperate with police to find her, so it is up to the citizenry to keep their eyes open.

It's possible she is innocent. If she is innocent, I look forward to her exoneration and will write about it here. If she is innocent there is no reason to stay in hiding.

If she is guilty, then it is truly is a very bad day to be Cindy Jasmin.

Police On The Hunt For Cindy Jasmin






Monday, February 22, 2010

Domestic Terrorism

by Dick Mac

A guy is angry at the IRS. He refuses to pay taxes. He finds himself in a legal wrangle that he cannot win. He owns a home and a private plane. He is not a poor man. He is capable of paying his fair share of building and maintaining a civilization, and he wants to have a piece of the action.

But, he doesn't want to play fair, and he won't pay his taxes.

The stress of fighting with the government becomes all-consuming and he is filled with self-righteous anger. Anger that is defended with facts and analysis of the laws of the land.

He becomes more and more despondent about his situation.

Sadly, he takes his life.

He leaves a long suicide note that discusses his conflict with the government and the weight of his worries and concerns. Yet, he is dead.

The media give the man's suicide quite a bit of sympathetic attention. There are no discussions of the selfishness of suicide, or the plight of those left behind to carry the guilt and pain of his last selfish act.

A truly sad situation, as are all suicides.

His daughter connects with the liberal media at ABC News and explains that her dad is a hero. Fox News agrees. They publish this article: Daughter Calls Pilot in Texas Plane Crash a Hero in which it is reported that his daughter believes he killed himself because " . . . if nobody comes out and speaks up on behalf of injustice, then nothing will ever be accomplished."

But, wait . . .

The real story is not a sad and poignant tale of man's trials and tribulations and a sad suicide. This is the story:

A guy becomes a right-wing, teabagger-type who thinks that by deconstructing the tax code and the Constitution he can absolve himself of any responsibility for paying his fair share of the cost of civilization. He rants and raves, but refuses to pay the piper. He demands freedom of speech and the right to bear arms and the privileges of property ownership, but he doesn't want to pay for the expense of these freedoms and privileges. He blames religion and government for society's ills and demands that he be absolved of any responsibility for community, country, civilization, and society.

He publishes posts on the internet where he explains why he doesn't have to play by the rules.

Things go poorly for him. The IRS applies more and more pressure to get from him everything he owes. he resists. He becomes more maniacal about his insane political position. He decides the government must be taught a lesson and he is the one, the savior, who will make things right.

He sets his house on fire, ostensibly so the government can't take it; leaving his family homeless. He gets in his airplane and flies it into a government building, killing an innocent person and himself, and causing tens of millions of dollars of damage.

The media has handled these stories before: disgruntled person with a grudge against America flies an aircraft into a building causing death and destruction. The media calls these people terrorists. We round-up their associates and family members. Many are imprisoned here in the United States, and some are secreted to black sites in Europe or to the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

This time, though, the criminal is a white, middle-class American man, and suddenly the word 'terrorist' is nowhere to be found in the reports. Fox News and other liberal media began a campaign to turn him into a hero. His family is presented as rational victims of the bad government, his associates are interviewed about their opinions, and every one is free to go.

If this guy's name had been Kareem, instead of Joe, and his family's name had been Mohamed, instead of Stack, I think liberal media like Fox News and ABC would be handling this a little differently. I think the Department of Homeland Security would be talking to a lot of people at his mosque, probably would have arrested anyone who had discussed the government with him, and there we be calls to spend more money investigating brown people around the world.

But, a hero he becomes. A poor, disgruntled, white man who was driven to suicide by the mean government.

Sorry, folks: this guy is a terrorist and the media should be calling him a terrorist.






Friday, February 19, 2010

Queer Books Save Lives!

by Al Falafal

A recent article posted at the website CarnalNation.com is titled “Queer Books Saved My Life.” It is worth a read.

I can totally relate to the idea of queer books saving lives, my own included, as well as many up and coming queers I've known over the 35 years that have passed since I came out. And I think the time has come for us long-term survivors to remember and appreciate the people who have struggled to create the environment that brought queer books and queer authors out of the closet. Let us not forget those brave and determined queer pioneers who began to venture into the commercial book world nearly half a century ago and ultimately drew queer literature into the mainstream market where you may find it today. More or less.

To many of us Queers of a Certain Age it was a sad awakening indeed, the day we realized that the phenomenon of the Queer Bookstore, so important to our queer development, has become an endangered species. A dying breed. Almost anyone who wants to buy a queer book today seems to follow an automatic impulse leading them to log on to Amazon.com or, if they’re feeling adventurous, to seek out a Borders Bookstore in some nearby mall. Do they even know how the modern queer book market that everyone takes for granted owes its very existence to an all-but forgotten network of local lesbian-and-gay-focused shops that began to open then in cities across the US and, in fact, around the world?

Is it just me or does anyone else think it's important to preserve the memories of those heady days when it seemed that wonderful new queer bookstores were springing up in every city you'd visit? Queer bookstores were dependable spots to find all the information you'd need to get your bearings in any new locale. This was long before the rise of the mega-chains and their hostile takeover of most storefront book selling and before Amazon.com came along to sack what remained of the market originally created by those now mostly bygone independent booksellers. In those days, kids, only a smidgen of the mainstream bookstores would dare risk carrying the few lesbian and gay titles that came into print before 1973. And few queer book buyers would have even thought to look to the mainstream stores for what they wanted: there were no sections in straight bookstores designated for queer titles. Most positive queer books of the time only came to be by way of self-publishing or in very limited print runs put out by the random independent small press in search of their niche market. The big publishing houses were often tinged with homophobia and, in any case, could not be convinced that there was any real money in queer books.

Into this virginal, but surprisingly fertile field stepped a few bold lesbians and gay publishers with a passion if not a mission. They came looking for themselves as much as to try and fill a vacuum in the market. They risked everything to take chances on a new generation of emerging authors who had begun to create contemporary queer genres – chances the big publishing houses dared not take. As yet unknown and untested, the potential profit in these authors and genres would only be noticed by the big publishing houses after a return on investment was proven through a sound track record of sales. The only place those sales were happening was out of the storefront bookstores that gay people had opened in gay neighborhoods of most major cities. These early shops included Oscar Wild Bookshop in New York, Glad Day Books in both Boston and Toronto, and Giovanni’s Room in Philadelphia.



The gay bookstore movement began in 1967, two years before Stonewall, when Craig Rodwell opened the Oscar Wilde Bookshop in New York City. By the late '60s and '70s people were opening gay bookstores in other cities at a time when censorship laws were being repealed.

’After Stonewall, gay bookstores began opening up in different places across the country, and I think that interestingly, gay bookstores grew up at the same time that the phenomenon of the adult bookstores came into being’ says Michael Bronski, an occasional contributor to Bay Windows who is an author, journalist, and scholar of LGBT studies. Around the same time women's bookstores began to spring up around the country, and lesbians began gravitating towards these stores, particularly since they were often underserved by the predominantly male-oriented gay bookstores. Bronski says all of these stores became hubs of different branches of the LGBT community as de facto community centers and as cruising areas, sometimes both at the same time.”
-- From a 2005 article by Tom Jackson @ gaybookblog.net.




Today, Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto, the first such Canadian store, is the longest surviving lesbian and gay bookstore worldwide. A critique in a Toronto city guide says of Glad Day, it is “a pain to find and no fun to browse… (quite cramped), but it does have an astonishing range of queer titles.” This description could have been applied to nearly every queer store at one time, even before there were enough books to fill more than one wall of shelves. Small, cramped spaces were the rule, not the exception, as real estate affordability has always been an issue. Profits from retail book sales, even in the best of times, always limited the status of queer bookselling to that of a labor of love, a de facto not-for-profit enterprise.

Back in time and on US soil, Giovanni’s Room opened shop in a typically cramped South Street storefront in Philadelphia, when rents were still low enough to make a go of it there. It was 1973, almost twenty years after the first appearance of the novel Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, perhaps the most prominent author of the 1950s to deal openly with the subject of homosexuality from a personal perspective. No less typical of books at the time with its bleak portrayal of gay life (Giovanni, a murderer, sits awaiting the guillotine throughout the story) but for once, gay men were presented as complex characters with some room for sympathy.

By 1979 Giovanni’s Room, the book store, had moved to another small, first floor space on Spruce Street, in closer proximity to the gay bar area, though not yet beyond the reach of homophobia. In their wisdom the storeowners would soon decide to take advantage of Philadelphia’s relatively inexpensive real estate market of the time. They signed a mortgage that year on a charming corner-property, a century-old shop in a nice part of town that some would eventually refer to as the “Gayborhood.” This gave the store a permanent home that could not be pulled out from under them for reasons of anti-LGBT discrimination. This happy outcome followed a hateful eviction from their rented space after the Spruce Street property changed hands. Philadelphia landlords were free then to exercise blatant homophobia by overtly refusing to extend a lease if they objected to the renters’ (or customers’) sexual orientation – a practice that was outlawed in the City soon after (1982). For whatever reasons, queer bookstores in other locales facing similar situations did not follow the lead of Giovanni’s Room. No other storeowners chose to invest in property ownership as a hedge against further disruption of business, no doubt due to the commitments required of their time and money. By one (unverified) count I heard recently, there now exist only six queer bookstores in North America.

By the mid-'80s the market for independent bookstores as a whole began to take a downturn. [Former gay bookstore owner, John] Mitzel says one of the greatest difficulties faced by bookstores has been the shrinking availability of affordable real estate. [Boston’s] Glad Day closed down, despite strong sales, when the owners of its Copley Square location decided to transform the location into luxury condominiums. When Mitzel was looking for space to open up Calamus [Books], he was told that no one would rent to him in the Back Bay or South End.” -- Ibid.



An aspect of Giovanni’s Room that may speak of something else unique to Philadelphia is an undeniable sense of commitment to the store shown time and time again by the local LGBT community. When the store purchased its new building an army of volunteers came forward to invest hundreds of hours and quality effort into lovingly renovating the space. Scores of volunteers have devoted time to staffing the store on a regular schedule, some continuing to do so over decades of time without compensation. Like all the other queer bookstores who have suffered in the failing economy Giovanni’s Room has been forced to make steep cutbacks in levels of paid staffing, hours of operation, and certain store amenities. But the Philadelphia LGBT Community and our allies have clearly shown that we are far from ready to lose this beloved landmark. We have rallied once again to keep our Giovanni’s Room from fading into obscurity as so many others have. We will not let it fall victim to the times, a bad economy or - as almost happened last year – to the forces of gravity. You may have heard the story.


The local customer base - hit hard as anyone by the bad economy - has thinned considerably, with many presumably won over by the deep discounts that internet-based services offer through aggressive online marketing. How can you blame anyone for counting pennies, trying to save money? But when word got out that the store was facing extremely tough times due to an overwhelmingly expensive but necessary rebuilding of the fa├žade/supporting wall, the community snapped into action once again. Customers may not have been drawn back to the store in massive numbers yet, but over six months time another virtual army of volunteers and contributors have rallied to help plan and participate in an on-going series of fundraising events to benefit the store. Author appearances, readings, dinners with the likes of Edmund White and Christopher Rice, a street fair and a raffle have all been part of the soon-to-be successful effort to reach the more than $50,000 goal, which is the amount needed to pay the construction bills.

Giovanni’s Room’s affable owner, who everyone knows as Ed, is naturally very encouraged by the community’s response and by the support he’s received from customers and authors from near and far. A number of customers who have never even seen the store have pitched in from their homes as far away as Alaska and Hawaii. They learned of Giovanni’s Room’s problem through the store’s website, www.queerbooks.com. Yes, the store has an online presence and books can be ordered through it as easily as they can through Amazon, which continues to undercut all independent booksellers mercilessly with outrageously aggressive advertising. Amazon has volume, volume, volume! But they certainly don’t have the heart of a queer bookstore owner. Nor do they have the queer community’s interest at heart. Nor do they have any interest in anyting about you other than your money.

It is a sad but fascinating exercise to do a Google search for information on Queer or Lesbian and Gay bookstores. What you’ll find are so many websites that contain outdated information about scores of defunct queer stores across the country and lists of links to websites that just don’t lead anywhere anymore. Some of these sites seem to stand as eerie ghosts of queer bookstores past. You quickly learn not to trust their currency and you’ll find more often than not something like “last updated on Sunday, April 20th, 1997” as you can still see at http://www.qrd.org/qrd/www/media/print/bookstores/glbbnets.html.

This particular website stands as a forlorn monument to the golden age of queer bookstores. Words of warning unheeded, pleading, a cry in the desert is frozen there in time as a prophecy fulfilled, much to our detriment...

Please consider this before you make your next book purchasing decision: Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered bookstores exist in a fragile ecosystem made up of the members of our community who support them with their purchases, the small gay, feminist, and lesbian publishing houses which supply them, the authors who write the books, and the stores themselves. This living web is very fragile and easily disrupted. It could possibly even be destroyed if we let the large "discount" chain stores influence us into "discounting" the efforts of all these people and saving a few cents on the purchase of a book, even the latest Times bestseller, at the expense of our sisters and brothers and friends.

Make no mistake our bookstores are under attack, as are all independent bookstores. The large chains (and there are only a very few) want to control all our book-buying decisions and are deliberately targeting areas where large independent stores have a loyal customer base. You'll pardon me, I'm sure, if I say that I believe feminist, lesbian, and gay stores are under particular assault. A recent issue of Ms. Magazine (May/June, 1995, Volume V, Number 6) had a graphic illustration of this in the form of a photograph of the new Borders Bookstore which "just happened" to open up directly across the street from Sisterhood Bookstore in West Los Angeles, California. Look it up if you haven't seen it. It's scary.

Fight back! If you're browsing in a big chain store and see an interesting title your local store might not carry, jot down the name and author and have your local gay and lesbian bookstore order it for you. They need the business and you need them. Many of these stores, and the publishing houses and authors who depend on them to sell their books, may not be there when you want and need them unless you continue to support them with your purchasing power and with your time
.”

RIP Queer Bookstores. You are missed. Long live the surviving stores! Which can only happen with our help, of course. If you're lucky enough to live in a city with one of these gems that has not closed down, please support your local queer bookseller. And when you must buy books online, why not give www.queerbooks.com a look? You may be surprised how good it feels to place an order with one of the last virtual queer bookstores.





Thursday, February 18, 2010

We Are Plastic Ono Band at BAM

by Dick Mac

The We Are Plastic Ono Band concert took place at Brooklyn Academy of Music ("BAM") last Tuesday, February 16, 2010.

Re-conceived by Sean Lennon, the son of Yoko Ono and John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band's only original member is Yoko. Sean gathered the additional members, and his mother is the lead singer.

Plastic Ono Band performed last Summer in London, and this led to creation of a new album "Between My Head And The Sky" by Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band, the same moniker used on original Yoko Ono-fronted Plastic Ono Band records.

This Winter, two concerts were scheduled, BAM and a show next week in Oakland, California.

The BAM line-up was impressive: Plastic Ono Band, Mark Ronson, Scissor Sisters, Justin Bond, Haroumi Hosono, Gene Ween, Sonic Youth, Bette Midler, Paul Simon and Harper Simon, and then, as if that weren't enough, original Plastic Ono Band members Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, and Jim Keltner.

Martha Wainwright was scheduled to appear, but was unable to perform. The recent death of her mother, the great Kate McGarrigle, likely played a role in her absence.

BAM's lobby was decorated in Yoko Ono art spanning her career from the 1966 installation "Apple" and the film "Bottoms" to a brand new "War Is Over" banner and "Wish Tree For BAM."

When tickets were first on sale, I failed to get through on time and believed I would not see this show. The next day, the band decided to make the Dress Rehearsal on Monday a Public event and tickets were sold, promising only that POB would perform, none of the special guests were promised. This was plenty for me, because I had never seen Yoko perform and as today is her 77th birthday, it is unlikely I will have many more chances in the coming decades. I saw both Eric Clapton and Bette Midler perform in the 1970s, so their absence from this rehearsal was not a deterrent. I called as soon as the Rehearsal was announced and got seats 3rd Row Center.

Last Saturday I was up and surfing around the web when I read that additional VIP seats had been released for the show. I clicked and typed as fast as I could and got two seats in the 15th Row Center.

My date would be my five-year-old (actually 5 and 11/12ths year old), who would see her first BIG ROCK SHOW.

Having attended the dress rehearsal the night before, I knew there was nudity in many of the films and I told her so. She was nonplussed. When we arrived her first view was of the movie "Bottoms" which is footage of male and female bums in motion. She took it in stride and although she giggled at first. it appeared that she got it, that she understood that this was "art." We collected our tickets from Will Call, checked our coats, and made our way inside the theater.

The usher explained that our VIP gifts were being distributed in the VIP Lounge back in the lobby and we made our way to collect our autographed posters and copies of the band's CD. We relaxed on the couch and chatted about the art, before making our way inside.

Our seats were more than adequate, and an usher appeared a moment later with a thick black booster cushion for my daughter. We giggled approvingly about the "Welcoming Birds" video by Jordan Galland showing on the stage. It was a drawing of Yoko by Sean with her mouth open in song and a soundtrack of birds chirping, and as the video looped, birds would appear to fly out of Yoko's mouth. My daughter was anxious about the show starting and then, only a couple of minutes after eight, the lights went down.

Yoko performed an a capella version, alone in a spotlight in front of the black curtain, of "It Happened."

The curtain rose and the new Plastic Ono Band appeared. Sean Lennon looking frighteningly like his father was the band leader, and although his leadership skills are a tad awkward, he will likely get better with experience (I mean, look at the genes). The band then performed a medley of "Waiting for the D Train" and "Why," then the title track of the new release "Between My Head And The Sky," a wonderful rendition of the early-century "Rising," a very danceable "Walking On Thin Ice," and "Calling."

Next was a real treat as she performed 1971's "Mind Train" and "Ask The Elephant." The first act ended with the beautiful "Higa Noboru" from the new CD.

The band member who stands out, after the initial shock of Sean looking just like his dad, is the striking beauty Yuka Honda on keyboards, who I may have to write about some day as I learn more about her. It was not only her magnificent and stylish stage presence, but the way she was fully engaged in the process of making the music, of performing and creating. She oozes music and sophistication.

A short intermission preceded Act II.

When it was announced that today is Yoko's birthday, the audience belted-out an impromptu rendition of "Happy Birthday" that made Yoko very happy.

All the artists performed Yoko Ono or John Lennon songs.

"The Sun Is Down" by Scissor Sisters kicked off the fun. A spirited dance number played by Plastic Ono Band and sung by Jake Shears and Ana Matronic had both of us bopping in our seats.

Justin Bond is a transgender/drag performance artist who performs as Kiki of Kiki & Herb fame. "What A Bastard The World Is" from Yoko's "Approximately Infinite Universe" 1973 record was delivered perfectly by this chanteuse who seemed to become enmeshed, interwoven with the lyrics and the desperate spirit of the song. His dramatic, almost exaggerated, gestures during the plaintive song was both humorous and moving.

Although I was aware of the band Ween, I was never plugged-in. Aaron Freeman (a/k/a Gene Ween) joined Sean Lennon for a trying, but lovely guitar duet of John Lennon's "Oh Yoko." Neither could truly hit the high notes that made the original such a tender love song; but their dedication to the effort and their good-humored presence made it a wonderful rendition.

I have been a Sonic Youth fan since the mid-198s when I saw them perform in Boston. I liked the No-Wave movement, and their station at the top of the heap may or may not be well-earned and well-deserved. I happen to be a fan of James Chance and think his No-Wave work was much more entertaining. Nonetheless, Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore hold seats of esteem in the pantheon of No-Wave. They have always expressed their gratitude to Yoko for her inspiration and encouraged her to return to music after the assassination of her husband. For this performance, Yoko wrote a new song based on her experience during war-time Japan when many children were sent to the country, to be safe from the world's conflict. She remembers picking mulberries for her younger siblings to eat during a beautiful sunset on the mountains. "Mulberry" is the piece that emerged. During the rehearsal on Monday, I remember that the word Mulberries was actually sung/spoken at moments during the song, but I do not recall a single utterance of the word during the actual performance on Tuesday.

Gordon and Moore manipulated their guitars to create a discordant background, completely devoid of rhythm or motion, and Yoko yokodeled along with them.

The result was neither impressive nor entertaining and provided comic relief for many sitting around us. Nobody guffawed, but the giggles were louder than they should have politely been. At one point I found myself quietly laughing under my breath and I received a glaring stare from my daughter for the disrespect.

There are few entertainers as entertaining as Bette Midler. Her choice for the night's performance was "Yes, I'm Your Angel" from the Double Fantasy album. Midler chose a playful rendition that was missing only a calliope from the band. She delivered a sensuous and loving song that made me tingle inside. I wanted her to stay and sing more.

The black curtain dropped on the stage and Sean's lifelong friend, Harper Simon, and his father Paul Simon took the stage with guitars and performed loving renditions of "Silverhorse" from Yoko's 1981 Season Of Glass release, and John Lennon's "Hold On" from the original John Lennon Plastic Ono Band release of 1970. Both songs were wonderful, but the Simons' rendition of "Hold On" was moving and beautiful.

As the Simons left the stage, the black curtain rose to show Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, Jim Keltner and Sean looking like an old-fashioned rock band. Clapton stood in place, detached but not vacant, seemingly bemused as opposed to amused by the event. When the opening chords of the Lennon-McCartney classic "Yer Blues" were struck, Yoko began emerging from a large sack in the middle of the stage. Spirited and well-done versions of "Death of Samantha" and "Don't Worry Kyoko" followed, along with anecdotes about the original POB and the recording sessions. Laughs and smiles all around.

I was amazed by this performance and could not have ever in my life imagined that I would have witnessed a performance by Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band.

I was flying high as that performance ended and the entire cast, except of Eric Clapton, took the stage to lead the crowd in "Give Peace A Chance" for a finale.

I could have sat in my seat all night just chatting about the show and reminiscing about what had just taken place. My daughter and I did that for a little bit to let the crowd thin, and many of our neighbors asked her about it. She liked it, a lot, except for "Mulberry" and the stinky perfume of the man sitting on my other side.

We took a photo in the lobby and made our way home both completely energized. We stayed up until 1:30 AM, just aglow for the experience.

Happy Birthday, Yoko!


Dick Mac Recommends:


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Listen, The Snow Is Falling - Yoko Ono

by Dick Mac

John Lennon & Yoko Ono released "Listen, The Snow Is Falling" as the B-side to "Happy Xmas (War Is Over), and it appears on the "Wedding Album."

It is a beautiful song that has been mostly ignored.

It was produced by Phil Spector, and recorded in April, 1969, by John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Klaus Voormann, Nicky Hopkins, and Hugh McCracken.

Please enjoy this scratchy video made from a 7-inch 45 RPM single.








Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We Are Plastic Ono Band Dress Rehearsal

by Dick Mac

Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon have formed a new Plastic Ono Band for shows in Brooklyn and Oakland. Tickets were in such high demand that last night's dress rehearsal was made an open event and tickets were sold. I sat third row center, and was treated to performances by the new Plastic Ono Band, Mark Ronson, Scissor Sisters, Sonic Youth, members of the original Plastic Ono Band, Harper Simon, and a "Give Peace A Chance" finale.

At tonight's show, which coincides with Yoko's seventy-seventh birthday, they will be joined by Eric Clapton, Bette Midler, Paul Simon, Martha Wainwright, the rest of the Scissor Sisters, and a cast of thousands.

Sean Lennon looks remarkably like his dad.

Although it's a crappy shot taken with a telephone, I share this picture with you:



There are some tickets left.






Monday, February 15, 2010

Woman's Last Stand - Humor

by Dick Mac

This is a spoof of a commercial for the Dodge Charger.

I have never seen that commercial so I don't know if this is a funny take-off; but it is funny on its own.






See it at youtube.com:

Woman's Last Stand: Dodge Charger Commercial Spoof






Friday, February 12, 2010

Marvel Comics Apologizes for Reference to Teabaggers

by Dick Mac

Captain America is a patriot, in every fictional sense of the word. Like all real patriots, he is opposed to the Teabaggers who are passing themselves off as good Americans, when in reality they are a mob of racist, homophobic, sexist, neo-conservative ideologues hell-bent on eliminating liberty and personal freedom in the United States.

Of course Captain America would oppose Teabaggers!

In Issue 602, Captain America and his sidekick, Falcon, infiltrate an anti-government hate group that uses similar slogans as the real-life Teabaggers. The real-life Teabaggers are upset, of course, because they think they are the patriots and that actual thinking people who support liberty and good government (that is, liberals)are somehow against America.

Well, it is the Teabaggers who are destroying America and jeopardizing the Constitution and Bill of Rights; and Captain America is right to want them stopped.

Marvel Comics, the spineless publisher of the comic, who plays either side of the fence as needed, has apologized to the Teabaggers. Marvel had no problem denigrating people who exercised their freedom of speech during the Vietnam War, why are they having a problem exposing a bunch of anti-American Teabaggers who are destroying our nation? Why apologize? Who knows? It doesn't make sense! Did Marvel apologize to the Nazis or the anti-war demonstrators? No! Then why apologize to the Teabaggers? Probably because Marvel is owned by spineless profiteers who are afraid to come down on the wrong side of white people.

Well the Teabaggers don't represent all white people, and I am offended that Marvel has apologized! There was no reason to apologize to that slime who cloak themselves in the mantel of patriotism while destroying our nation.

Shame on you, Marvel! Take a stand to support American freedom and liberty! Stand up to the Teabaggers the way you stood up to the Nazis!

Below is a web cast by ddarko2012. It's not clear what position he takes on the comic or the Teabaggers, but he does mention the sex act of teabagging more than once. I share it because he refers to Sarah Palin near the end of the web cast.



See also, Marvel Comics' depiction of anti-tax protesters inspires anger, apology







Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jackson 5 - I Want You Back

by Dick Mac

As time passes, I believe more strongly that Michael Jackson is the greatest entertainer of all time.

Whether it was as a 10-year-old fronting the Jackson 5, a disco King making cutting-edge videos before MTV, a sad and tortured young man addicted to surgical enhancement, a protective father, a generous benefactor, or a traveling sideshow, there is no other entertainer who has brought so much joy to so many people.












Wednesday, February 10, 2010

People always talk about the weather

by Al Falafal

When you're Blizzard-bound there's little else to do, little else to say.
"In summer you wish it were cooler and in winter you wish it were milder. Conditions, they are never in your favor. You can always talk about the weather."

Might as well sing about it. Hit it, Yonderboi.





Support Doctors Without Borders in Haiti

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Vendor Client relationship - in real world situations

So, just a trim then . . . by Dick Mac

This video reflects a very real attitude in the business world, including the company where I work.

I have sat in meetings where directors badger vendors over tiny bits of money, try to cheat them out of their due, and if possible, hijack their intellectual property.

It's embarrassing, really.

Sure you negotiate, but don't insult.








Monday, February 08, 2010

Focus On The Aftermath

by Dick Mac

I received notice from 18 people who either read this blog, or who joined the Focus On The Super Bowl group at Facebook, confirming that they made donations to Planned Parenthood in light of the Focus on the Family advertisement during the game.

Thank you!

If you made a donation in this same vein, whether or not you did it in honor of the Tebow family, please let me know and I will increase the count total.

I didn't watch the game, but I had purchased 'squares' in an office pool and the money I won will be sent to Planned Parenthood this week.

Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints and their fans (in spite of their hideous owner, who tried to abandon the city in the aftermath of Katrina). I wish I was in New Orleans celebrating with them. I am sure the party will go for a few days.

I send my regrets to friends and readers who are Colts fans. You still have one of the greatest quarterbacks to have ever played the game; and my bet is that you will be back to the Super Bowl in the not-too-distant future.

If you watched the game, thereby giving tacit endorsement to the NFL's and CBS's endorsement of the right-wing, anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-liberty company Focus on the Family, and you haven't yet made a donation to Planned Parenthood, it's not too late.

Please consider the following options:

This link brings you to the Planned Parenthood page for giving "In Honor," and I recommend you give in honor of "Tim Tebow, c/o Focus On The family, Colorado Springs, CO, 80995" and please note that there is no street address. See this example:



This link brings you to the standard Planned Parenthood giving page. Use this link if you want to make a generic donation with no mention of an honoree.

This link brings you to the "Monthly Giving" form. Use this link if you can afford to become a regular contributor.

I am proud to have made efforts to keep this issue as an open dialog, and I am prouder still of my readers, friends and the strangers who gave of themselves by boycotting and/or donating to Planned Parenthood.

I will keep the Facebook group open. Please use the link below to join, if you haven't already. And I will continue to blog here about choice, equality, civil rights, and liberty.

The battle continues. Right-wing hate groups like Focus on the Family will continue to spend millions of dollars to deny taxpayers their liberty. Don't give up the fight.



If you are on Facebook, please join the group:
Focus On The Super Bowl

Friday, February 05, 2010

Focus On The Giving

by Dick Mac

So, you can't boycott the Super Bowl broadcast. Even though you know that watching the broadcast endorses an anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-liberty organization, you still have to watch. I understand. I really do. Sometimes we endorse companies like Focus On The Family without really wanting to or intending to.

I still watch English soccer even though it's on a sports channel owned by News Corporation, and there is no way I can avoid it. So, I am sympathetic to those who cannot consider a Super Bowl broadcast boycott.

If you care about a woman's right to her own reproductive decisions, and you cannot boycott the Super Bowl, you can counteract your tacit endorsement of Focus On The Family by making a donation to Planned Parenthood in honor of the Tebow Family.

Your donation will be used to help keep abortion and other reproductive health services safe and legal for all women.

The link below will bring you to the "Honorary Giving" donation page at Planned Parenthood. Donate as much as you can and be sure to put "Pam Tebow" or "Tim Tebow" as the name of the person in whose honor the gift is being made.

Donate to Planned Parenthood

I suggest a minimum donation of $35.




If you are on Facebook, please join the group:
Focus On The Super Bowl

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Focus On Watching The Super Bowl

by Dick Mac

Oh! And there are two teams playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday: the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts.

For the record, I hope New Orleans wins.

I accepted an invitation to a Super Bowl party way back in December before Christmas. The whole family will visit some friends and enjoy the party. I won't stay for the Super Bowl, but I'll eat the food and enjoy the company. There's always a gang of people who have no interest in the game, and I will chat with them until kick-off, then I will go home.

I know there are people who must watch it. People who oppose Focus On The Family, or are indifferent about them, who care about choice and gay rights and sex education. I know some people I love and respect will watch the game and I will still love them and respect them.

My challenge to those who are going to watch is that you make a monetary donation to Planned Parenthood or NARAL in honor of the Tebow family. Tomorrow's blog post and the Facebook group Focus On The Super Bowl will provide links to these organizations so you can honor the Tebow family by supporting choice.

Here's an article that made me feel like I am not terribly cynical: Tebow's Super Bowl ad is fine, but it does open the floodgates, by Andrew Heller



Support Doctors Without Borders in Haiti

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Focus On The Love & Respect

by Dick Mac

The problem with the Focus on the Family ("FotF") advertisement to be aired during the Super Bowl is not that it expresses an opinion; but that the company wants to change the laws of the land so that women are not allowed to make decisions about their own health care.

Nobody denies Ms. Tebow her place in the sunlight of the spirit for delivering her baby through adverse conditions. God bless her. FotF, however, wants to deny all other women, women who make a different decision than Ms. Tebow, the legal, safe options that most Americans agree should be available.

There are many companies in the same reproduction policy business as FotF, and they do not deny the beauty and the wonder of Ms. Tebow's story. On the other hand, unlike FotF, those companies work hard to ensure that all women have the right to make a choice from all the options available, and they work to keep all those choices safe and legal.

One of those other companies is Planned Parenthood.

Former NFL player Sean James and Olympic medalist Al Joyner have made a video for Planned Parenthood in response to FotF's Super Bowl ad.




Messrs. James and Joyner talk about what it really important: loving and respecting the women in their lives without the need to control what choices they make.

Love and respect are hard. We give-up a lot when we love somebody, and we make an effort to respect people. These are not easy things.

What is easy? It is easy to criminalize things we do not like, and demonize those who would disagree with us. That is what the so-called "conservatives" at FotF are doing. FotF and the Tebows are not conservatives, and they are not promoting a conservative agenda. They are promoting degradation, hate, and dangerous medical practices.

I urge you to promote love and respect; to reject Friends of the Family, the Tebow family's tainted missive, and the entire so-called "conservative" agenda.

Donate to Planned Parenthood here.

Donate to NARAL here.

Thank you.

See the video at youtube, if you prefer.



If you are on Facebook, please join the group:
Focus On The Super Bowl

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Focus On The Fraud

by Dick Mac

Tim Tebow's mother is the star of an advertisement by Focus on the Family to be aired during the Super Bowl.

Ms. Tebow is opposed to abortion, as is every single other person on the planet (I don't know anybody who promotes abortion or thinks it's a good thing), but she thinks her opposition to abortion means that nobody else should have an abortion; including women in crisis, victims of rape and incest, and women whose lives are endangered by the pregnancy.

Her argument is that she got really sick when she was carrying her son, but she stuck it out and he's now a successful sports star. The tale doesn't stop there. Ms. Tebow goes on to explain that she was pregnant while working in The Philippines, and that her illness was so acute the doctor suggested that she terminate the pregnancy.

This is an odd story.

Abortion has been illegal in The Philippines since 1930. Performing or receiving an abortion is punishable by six-years imprisonment, and a doctor who performs an abortion loses his license to practice.

Tim Tebow was born in 1987, in The Philippines, and abortion was completely and totally illegal. His mother would have had to have left that country to even be advised to terminate.

So, the story is questionable, at best; and seems to have been enhanced from the story of a brave woman who struggled through illness to deliver her baby, to the story of a soldier of God who stood up against the abortionists to save the life of her innocent unborn fetus.

If Ms. Tebow was advised to terminate her pregnancy in The Philippines, she was obligated, as a soldier of God, to inform the authorities about this doctor's advice and see him imprisoned under Articles 256, 258 and 259 of the Revised Penal Code of The Philippines.

In reality though, Ms. Tebow was probably never advised to terminate her pregnancy in The Philippines, and her brave journey through serious illness to delivery room is just that: the story of a brave woman who delivered her child in adverse conditions.

I challenge Ms. Tebow and her handlers at Focus on the Family to produce the name and address of the doctor who illegally counselled her to break the laws of a sovereign nation.

It won't happen, though; because there was no doctor advising abortion, and Ms. Tebow has turned her wonderful story of bravery and motherhood into a cheap political tactic to further the agenda of a so-called conservative movement that cares nothing about families and human worth, but is bent only on restructuring the laws of the United States into an economic boom for a small number of people.

You will meet your maker one day, Ms. Tebow, and you will be held accountable for this campaign of hate into which you have dragged your child and your nation.



If you are on Facebook, please join the group:
Focus On The Super Bowl

Monday, February 01, 2010

Focus On Employment Issues


by Dick Mac

Focus On The Family is a right-wing hate group spending millions to deny American taxpayers their civil rights.

In case you haven't heard, Focus On The Family ("FotF") is the first advocacy group, and first hate group, to be allowed to purchase advertising time during the Super Bowl. Historically, the NFL has avoided allowing political messages to air during the Super Bowl. It seems, however, they've found a message of hate and intolerance they can wrap their arms around.

FotF is a well-funded company that uses reproduction rights and sexual orientation to promote a political agenda with the goal of changing the economic and social laws of the country to benefit a small few.

My understanding is that they have purchased two Super Bowl ad slots on CBS, so FotF has spent at least five million dollars to run anti-choice advertisements. Oddly, three months ago, the company laid-off 75 workers. Seventy-five people who have families lost their job so that a group that claims to focus on the family could keep more of their money to run hate ads.

How are those 75 families impacted by these advertisements?

FotF's Vice President of Media Relations Gary Schneeberger said he did not want to speculate "what the employees who were affected by that situation would say."

Since FotF can make the leap from gay marriage to hurting families, and from terminating a pregnancy to murder, I'm surprise they can't extrapolate people's reaction from being fired to seeing their former employer spend millions on advertising.

Well, Mr. Scheenberger, I think they might be a little pissed-off that they were told the company had to lay-off seventy-five workers, including them, but has the money to buy the most expensive advertising available on television.

Just a guess, but I am comfortable hazarding that guess.

What do you think is happening to those families, on whom you are alleged to be focused, now that a job has been lost in these economic times?

I think FotF is clearly out-of-focus when it comes to real family matters.

Focus Paying For Super Bowl Ad Months After Layoffs


If you are on Facebook, please join the group:
Focus On The Super Bowl