Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pete Seeger (1919 - 2014)

by Dick Mac

Pete Seeger
I stood-up to relieve my discomfort after listening to a brilliant man, elderly now but with a legacy that rivals any other intellectual’s legacy, eulogize his wife.  They were both well-known American activists associated with some of the most famous and infamous names of the 20th Century:  from Ella Baker and W.E.B. Du Bois to Che Guevara and Kathy Boudin.

The elderly man was stately and regal-looking, he had the powerful voice of a litigator and orator, and his advanced years, though showing physically, had not affected his brilliance.  He had started weeping and it turned to sobbing, and he was unable to continue.  He did not look broken, just sad, very sad.  He was escorted from the stage by one of his sons.

Somebody else began speaking from the stage at the SEIU 1199 Hall at 43rd and Eighth while many of us fidgeted back and forth one foot to the other, empathizing with the pain of this widower.

I found myself standing next to an older man who was not wearing a suit as most of the men were.  He was pleasant and when we made eye-contact, he extended his hand:  “I’m Pete.”  He smiled.

I knew his name was Pete.  I suspect everyone in the room knew his name was Pete.  He was present to pay homage to his friend, the late Joanne Grant.  It was her husband, Victor Rabinowitz, who had just eulogized her and left us all feeling deeper compassion than I knew I had.

I thought it must be awkward for Pete to be in these situations, these gatherings, but he was relaxed and pleasant.  I introduced myself, and he said he would miss Joanne, that her death was a big loss for the world.

I did not know Joanne personally, I was friends with her son, Mark, and it was because of him I found myself in the midst of Leftist New York this particular evening.  I was there because he was my friend and his mother had died.  I felt awkward, not knowing anyone personally, but everyone was very gracious and open and welcoming.  Pete and I exchanged a few pleasantries, and I did not want to behave like a groupie or be a burden on him; so, I eventually trailed off the conversation and let him move to the next mourner cum well-wisher.

He did not take the stage and sing a song of protest, he did not make himself the center of attention.  At that event, Pete Seeger was the most humble famous person I'd ever met.  I now regret ending the discussion so quickly, because when would I have a chance to meet him again?

Well, it appears, never.

Godspeed, Pete Seeger.

Monday, January 27, 2014

What do you do when your club becomes the richest in the world?

by Liz Tray
Manchester City
This week I went to Upton Park to see my beloved Manchester City play West Ham in the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final. I had asked for the ticket (I’m a member of the Supporters’ Club, a benefit is requesting tickets) before we won the first match 6-0 but I grab any chance I can to see my team – having moved to London in 2000 away games are pretty much my only chance to see us play. I average a home game a season (this time it’ll be Fulham in March) when I go home to visit but away matches are rather unique. It’s a constantly singing, buzzing, boiling cauldron of intensity. It’s not like that at home, where the size of the stadium dissipates the noise – away fans are the real deal, a devoted band of travellers who follow the team home and away, across not just England but Europe (to think of the days when we were a million miles away from even playing in the Europa, let alone the Champions League). It ain’t cheap (£50+ a ticket – when I moved here it was £35; better team now, they charge fans more: so the club is rich, we are too?) but I can’t complain as most of the away fans have come down from Manchester. Mind you, there are a few ex-pats like me, and I even meet fans from London and the south who started supporting us decades ago (why, I wonder, what did we have to offer then?! I inherited City from my dad, and he from his, whereas they picked us quite randomly).

The vibe at Upton Park was unlike any I’d experienced because of the bizarre scoreline (already 6-0) before we even kicked off. It was an odd atmosphere, with us virtually certain of getting to the final. I’m usually a bag of nerves and stress, as you’d expect, but here we were, one professional display away from our first League Cup (as opposed to FA Cup) appearance since 1976, the year of my birth.

Near the end a bad tackle, ludicrously unpunished by the referee, brought down our new Spanish striker, a complete player if ever I saw one, Alvaro Negredo. He fell very awkwardly and grabbed his shoulder in agony. Anger at the non-award of the free kick fell away quickly, to be replaced with genuine concern, as fans held their heads and covered their mouths in hope that he’d be ok. At worst, it could be a dislocated shoulder, we all thought. The medical team attended to him and he went back on, holding his arm, refusing to go off the field for the last 5 minutes. Tough lad, that one. Then, the sound of what a TV audience must think is booing filled the night air. In fact, it was the low hum of the City fans chanting his nickname: Beast. Certainly, some of the worry was about the possible loss of such a fantastic player to injury but mostly it was of simple concern that a person was hurt. It made me think about what these men mean to me, and it’s why I chose to write this blog.

During the match we pulled out our full repertoire of songs, this is my favourite:
Oh Pablo Zabaleta, he is the fuckin’ man, he plays for Argentina, he’s harder than Jaap Stam. He wears the blue and white, for Pellegrini’s men, and when we win the league we’ll sing this song again.
A little hubris at the end, possibly, but rather said with a wink. We sang songs about Kompany, Touré, Silva, Aguero, all stars of this team that we’re lucky to have. There’s still a disbelief that such talent turns out in the blue shirt. We even found time to have a little chant about one of our only good players of the 90s (Georgi Kinkladze and Ali Benarbia are the only other good players that spring to mind of that era) – a German called  Uwe Rösler (now the Wigan manager; his 13-year-old son is named Colin, after City legend Colin Bell, and he’s at the City Academy). It ends with the line: ‘Uwe’s granddad bombed the Stretford End!’ Old Trafford, you see, was bombed during the Second World War and from 1941-49, if you can believe this, United shared our ground. It might be a bit of a sad testament to the nature of football now that that would seem so unbelievable but until a few decades ago many in Manchester supported both teams. My dad’s dad, Eli, was a diehard Blue but my mum’s dad, Cyril, went to City one week and United the next. In the end, though, I like to think that his heart lay with City, as he and dad went to matches together for over a decade until he passed in 1990. Dad marvels now how he dragged himself to watch terrible football on cold, wet Manchester nights when he had a season ticket (1977-1995). As we sang the Rösler song I thought back to what seemed like only a few years ago, and how we barely had any players worth composing a song about. How on earth did this happen to us?

For my own part, I moved to London the year after we were promoted out of the old Division Three in 1999 (now called League One, and just to confuse you it was called Division One then). At that time we were playing in our charming but crumbling home since 1923 – Maine Road. My grandfather Eli, who I sadly never knew, had been to the very first match there. My father’s first game was in 1960. Mine was in 1988. It has been a long family road. A story from the 1990s goes that the Maine Road groundsman wasn’t able to even paint the white lines on the pitch without handing over cash into the hand of the local paint suppliers. That’s how broke we were. Two decades of financial mismanagement had brought the club to its knees. When I was a kid in the 80s a local businessman called Peter Swales, a diehard Blue with a spectacular comb-over, was the chairman. He was a passionate man but an utterly hopeless businessman and we lurched from one crisis to another. The fans revolted and he was ousted in 1994 and replaced as chairman by Francis Lee, a legendary former player of ours. Unlike most players of that era, who were paid little and ended up getting real jobs after their playing days were over (very few went into management and punditry as it is now didn’t exist then), he had become a successful, wealthy businessman. He had made his fortune recycling paper, primarily toilet rolls. I, literally, shit you not.

He was another terrible choice, as it turned out. Ex-players put in charge at the higher levels always want to run the team and he undermined the many managers he hired and fired. His friend, the late great Alan Ball (brilliant player, World Cup winner) was a hopeless case and relegated us in 1995. And then the managerial merry-go-round started. Let me put this into perspective with a statistic: during Alex Ferguson’s Old Trafford reign of 27 years, we had (excluding Cup and League-winning captain Tony Book’s brief caretaker manager reigns) 17 managers. From August to December 1996 we had 3 managers. In 5 months. That’s what it was like in those days. We were relegated 3 times, up and down, up and down. During our tenure in the 3rd tier in 1998/99 we lost 1-0 at home to Bury. A local team now in League Two (the 4th tier) who, on average, draw 3,500 fans a home game. Even in the 3rd tier we averaged 28,000, over twice as many fans as any other club. I have several friends who are Bury fans; I tell you, they’re real fans, schlepping to watch a team that will never win anything, home and away. I was at Bury College at the time of this defeat. You can imagine what Monday morning was like.

In 1998, finally, a good man took charge and, essentially, fixed everything. He is responsible for where we are now (as is Paul Dickov, but that’s another story: this goal changed the club forever:

David Bernstein (a very clever and rich man, the then-CEO of fashion retailers French Connection and an accountant by trade) was a lifelong Blue and couldn’t bear the disaster any longer. He transformed the club from the ground up, securing financing and doing the deal that got us, at a nice price thank you very much, the 2002 Commonwealth Games stadium, which we moved into the year after. Later, Bernstein was appointed as FA Chairman (he just retired – you have to at 70 – and has been replaced by the very stupid TV mogul Greg Dyke) and he just received a CBE for services to football.

But still, even then, we stumbled around for a while, though we were now financially on better footing, and were unfortunately bought by a Thai crook (a former PM and oppressor of his people, a murderer, some say) called Thaksin Shinawatra. Like many fans, I was deeply unhappy with this ownership, and it enhanced the geographical distance somehow. I feel disconnected from the team for the first time in my life and I hated it. Then, the unimaginable happened. In 2008, thanks to the beauty of the stadium apparently, the ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mansour, saw us as the perfect investment. A sleeping giant, as they say. Five years later he’s spent £1 billion and transformed us into a club that can compete at, we hope, the highest level. He has hired smart football people: our Spanish lynchpins, CEO Ferran Sorriano and Director of Football Txiki Begiristain, were both, essentially, poached from Barcelona. He installed our chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, his main connection to the team, who visits Manchester often. Khaldoon has an American accent thanks to his degree, in finance and economics, from Tufts in Boston and is a very clever, tough but likeable man doing a spectacular job – he is supportive and does not interfere in football matters, as so very many idiotic chairmen do (central casting Disney villain Vincent Tan at Cardiff and the moronic Assem Allam at Hull, I’m looking at you). Our manager, Manuel Pellegrini, another shrewd appointment, is now giving us the stable, drama-free, leadership we need. In personality, he is everything the over-emotional, difficult, passionate and impatient Roberto Mancini was not.

Only five years ago I was going through a period of feeling totally disconnected from the team. And now, that feeling is a world away. I still can’t quite believe what’s happened.

Those players are working for me. Yes, for themselves, for the manager, for their money, but when you’re there watching a game live, you can’t help but marvel at how they’re toiling in the cold, getting kicked all over the pitch, working their backsides off, for you. For all of us. There’s a giddy glee now to City fans, after years of longing and disappointment and being kicked in the teeth. Yes, there’s still a fear, which really is unfounded, that it may all end tomorrow… but it could go on forever, as the Smiths song goes.

Nothing stays with you for life like football does. You lose jobs or move houses, or cities, and your team is still there. You lose family members and your team is still there, providing a distraction during unimaginably tough times last year, in my case. I know that these men are highly paid but none of that matters during a game, when you dream and fear and wish and want and they work to try and please you. To gain your love. These men are not machines, devoid of sentiment. They were kids once, who stood on a terrace like the one you’re standing on, cheering their team, worshipping their heroes. They get to do it, for real, they get to be the guy they dreamt of being. Most people have a rather craven view of money. That it fixes everything, that it’s all that matters. I know someone who loves his team but cannot stand any football players. He says they are all yobs. He constantly talks of how they’d rather be paid a ton and sit on the bench than earn less and play every week. He cannot see their humanity. He cannot see past the 5% who are pictured with women not their wives or get into nightclub brawls. I feel sorry for him. These are human beings, with families, and they work hard every day. For you. For me. If anyone doubts that take a look at a feature on our website called Tunnel Cam. We are, it would seem, the only club that does it.

As an example of anthropology it is fascinating. It shows in the clearest way I have ever seen the dividing line of the match and what happens before it – the white line of the pitch, and what goes on before it is crossed. We all know what happens after. But before, players greet each other as friends, as on each team there are connections: the same nationality, a player who used to play with you at a former club, a player who you play with for a national team. It’s all cordial reunions and hugs and European cheek-kissing and shirt-swapping. Lines of mascots (kids aged between 4 and about 10 who accompany the players onto the pitch) stand in the tunnel, holding their hands out to be high-fived by the players, who are charming and kind to them. Sometimes players will have their own children as mascots. These big, tough, tattooed men, gently picking up and kissing their tiny toddlers, who are wearing matching strips to them. You’d have to have a hard heart not to be touched. It’s important to humanise players, not least because it lets you feel connected to men who, in my case, play 200 miles away from where I live (that’s a lot in England!). Additionally, our dual fandom is one facet of my relationship with my dad; it’s an unbreakable bond with him as much as the team.

I cannot even think about our 2012 title win without blinking tears from my eyes. We who had been let down for decades were finally going to win. And we very nearly ruined it. We choked, and then remarkably, United choked. And then, with one kick of a genius boot, I felt like I will never feel again. Because whatever happens next, it will not feel like that day did. That utter darkness until the goal went in:

This clip from that day is a moment that dad and I still talk about, as everything we felt is encapsulated in this few seconds of sheer relief and exploding emotion.  Where a huge, shaven-headed burly City fan sinks to his knees and weeps for everything he’s been through, before being picked up and hugged by another man – a friend? A total stranger? It didn’t matter. It never matters during a match. You’re all friends, you’re all in it together:

Winning the FA Cup the year before had been lovely and a relief but was tainted by Tevez having been on strike for 6 months, abandoning the club. A ridiculous situation caused by the over-emotionality of Roberto Mancini as much as by poor player behaviour. When Tevez, and not the rightful captain, Vincent Kompany, held the cup aloft it left a sour taste. Winning the league was as pure as it gets. It will never feel like that again. I wished I was in Manchester that day – as soon as the game ended I got on a train and made it up in time for the TV highlights. Dad and I watched it and wept. The day after we went to a parade with about 100,000 other people. Two weeks later my mum was gone. That’s why it’s all so important, that’s what football gave me. Something else to think about that, along with support from friends (including the very owner of this blog) and family, saved my sanity.

When I get to the away games, I am consumed by joy, win or lose, in being able to be with my people, my fellow Mancs: in all their happy, sad, angry, thrilled, hilarious, nervous, anarchic, relieved, sometimes disappointed foul-mouthed glory. This is football. At its core, this is what it is. You belong, for life. You love them and they love you. They never leave you, and you never leave them, even if and when they let you down. At the end of the West Ham game, after 90 minutes of brilliant banter (We sang: ‘You’re getting Moyes in the morning!’ They sang: ‘We only need 10!’ (we were 3-0 up by this point, 9-0 on aggregate) and when Stevan Jovetic, a new player who has been unlucky with injury came on, we sang: ‘Who the fucking hell are you?!’) the Hammers fans did a little Poznan (our backs to the pitch, arm over arm, jumping goal celebration) and we did one back to them. Then we all did it together.

The brave, hardy Hammers were 9-0 down and those fans love their team as much today as they did yesterday, as they will tomorrow. That is football. That used to be me. I remember one week in the early 2000s where we played Liverpool twice in a week, Cup and league. We lost 6-0 and 4-0. Times change but people do not. I’m stuck with this club for life.

When I was growing up, Manchester was a very tough place to be a City fan. In my school year, of 100+ girls, I was one of three Blues. Not everyone supported a team of course but there were probably 60 or 70 United fans. What will that number be in a decade? I see kids now at the matches who won’t remember how bad things were. Talking recently with a United fan friend, he told me I was willing to pay any price for success – meaning, in reference to our owners and where their largesse is derived from, I’m turning a blind eye to the terrible human rights conditions in Abu Dhabi in exchange for, one hopes, trophies. If I’d experienced 20+ years of unrivalled success, like he had, and my club was bought by people who treat their citizens like crap would I abandon the club? United may be owned by people sucking the financial life out of the place but at least they’re not human rights abusers. Do I turn a blind eye because I’ve toiled and loved and, through thin and thin, supported a club that let me down every week? Do I think I deserve some success now, at any cost? I wish I was stronger, and I admire people who have turned their backs on the club, in a way. They’re better people than I. Why do I continue to support a club run by people who treat women and gays and immigrant workers like shit in their own country? A regime that if City had a Jewish player he would not be allowed into the country. I cannot defend that, and thus I cannot defend myself. It’s a complicated issue and one I have no answer for. All I can say is that, in daily life, we are all complicit in demeaning others, whether we want or intend to or not. We all own clothing from sweatshops, we all buy computers (and TVs and DVD players) made by Chinese slave labour. I’m just trying to do my best, every day, like everyone else. Unless you live in a tree and wear clothes made of hemp and forage for food you’re complicit too. So I take a little bit of pleasure when I can from football, because it took and took from me for so many years and hardened me to misery and now finally I’m getting something back. What can I do about it except cut my nose off to spite my face? I’ve mostly, not entirely, made my peace with it.

Some City fans take more pleasure in United losing than City winning. I never understood those people even when I was living in Manchester and taking shit from United fans every single day. They pitied, bullied, patronised and laughed at us. And we were pathetic – I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it does feel a little nice that they don’t get everything their way now. But, I always say to dad – I don’t care about what other clubs do, who they play, who they lose points to; we can only control what we do, how we play, and do our best. These players are the best that City have ever had. Sometimes I can’t believe what I’m watching. It’s like a gift. Like someone decided that we’d taken enough shit one day and said: it’s your turn. I’ll take it.

Thank you, Liz, for this wonderful article.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Electric Warrior, T.Rex

This is the next installment in a series of articles I am writing about the music of my life. Because I began listening to recordings in 1964, most of my experience is rooted in vinyl recordings (with occasional 8-tracks and cassettes thrown-in); and I am still surprised how the experience of digital media is so different from my memories of analog media.

I hope you enjoy these articles, and that they inspire you to remember the music of your life and celebrate the greatness that was the music industry.

* * *

When my family moved out of the projects and into a white working-class neighborhood, I began listening to more rock music and less soul music.  Soul music did not vanish from my rotation, but lots of rock and (white) pop music was added.

The people in my new neighborhood listened to white music.

We walked to the Zayre's on American Legion Highway to look at the 45s, we had our choice of one of the forty Top 40 songs of the week.  They were displayed in order from #1 to #40 and rarely could you purchase a record that had moved off the charts.  It was on one of these trips in 1970 that I purchased my copy of "Lola" by The Kinks.

My primary source for new music became WBCN-FM, which had an anti-Top-40 format (for lack of a better description) and was an early album-oriented rock station.  A popular musician might have a Top 40 hit being played on the AM dial, and 'BCN would play alternative tracks from the album.

I got my copy of the "Electric Warrior" LP sort of by accident.  I joined a record club and selected 12 free albums to start my subscription.  I remember being attracted to the most excellent cover art of Electric Warrior, so I selected it.  If I thought about it hard enough, I might actually remember the other 11 records that arrived in the thick cardboard mailer.  Another time, perhaps.

I opened Electric Warrior first and listened to Side 2 first because I noticed that "Get It On (Bang A Gong)" was one of the tracks.  I knew the song from Top 40 radio, but had not made the connection that it was a T.Rex song, until the record arrived.

It took quite a while for me to flip the record over and listen to Side 1.  Before the advent of the compact disc, an album was released on a disc of vinyl with music cut into both sides.  You had to WANT to listen to the other side of a record to be bothered to flip it over.  I rarely could be bothered!

Side 2 played repeatedly for days or weeks, until I knew the words to every song, and every song was a keeper for me:

"Get It On" was the hit, and although I didn't quite understand why, it was a controversial line for AM radio. "Planet Queen" was a fey-sounding tune with hard-edged lyrics that included oxymoronic references to revolvers and dragons, Cadillacs and flying saucers, and a gratuitous reference to somebody's daughter.  "Girl" had a verse about God, and a line that I thought was "limp in society's wrist" and has always been that for 40+ years and will always be that for me!  "The Motivator" was about the most straight-forward rock-sounding song on Side 2, and had just as many poetic references as the more sophisticated cuts:  Egypt, royalty, clothes, cats, revolution.  It all worked for me.  "Life's A Gas" had more references to outer space and girls along with a faux-religious mention of a priestess.  "Rip Off" was the shocker.  Where "Get It On" included a subtle reference to sex, "Rip Off" was loaded with sex, nudity, transsexuality, violence, politics, sadomasochism, and more.  I really liked it.  The previous Summer I had learned about drag queens by listening to "Lola" and now T.Rex was taking me to new depths (heights?)!

If I recall correctly, about the same time "Get It On" broke into the AM Top Ten, a T.Rex concert was announced for the Aquarius (nee Orpheum) Theater on Washington Street.  I had been to concerts, but had not been to this venue.

I assumed it would be impossible to get a seat for a top ten artist, but when I showed up at the box office one day after school, I was told there were plenty of seats available.  The ticket seller actually pushed his map of the theater half-way under the grate and pointed to various sections.

He started in the Balcony: "These seats are $2.50."

Then he moved to the back of the Orchestra, under the balcony and waved his finger across the entire width of the map:  "These are $3.50."

"Which of those are available for $3.50?" I asked.

He reached to the shelf of tickets, pulled out a massive stack and said:  "It looks like ALL of those seats are available for $3.50."

The show was in ten days, and all those seats were available?  Did I not know something?  This might not be a good idea.

He moved his finger to the Front Orchestra and said: "These seats are $4.50.  How many seats do you need?"

"Just one," I admitted, a tiny bit embarrassed.  Any fantasy of having a date for a rock concert was always trumped by the fantasy of getting drugs (any drugs) for a rock concert.

He pointed to the second row near the aisle on the left side:  "I have a single right here, if you want to sit close."  Then pointing to the fifth or sixth row, dead center, he said:  "And a single here in the middle."

"I'll take that seat," I blurted out, not believing my good fortune, and forgetting that my plan had been to purchase a cheap ticket and then sneak down to the good seats during the show.

I had a five dollar bill that quickly transformed into a concert ticket and two quarters.

Not to worry, I had a really amazing budgeting method:  If I had $5.00 for a night at a concert, I'd spend seven or eight dollars.  Not smart, but lots of fun!  I quickly did the math as I walked back to the subway:  $2.50 for a half-pint of whiskey and $1.00 for a tab of acid or a Seconal.  When accounting for the fifty cents in my pocket, I'd need another three dollars.  Yes, I could do this, but it would have been easier if I'd bought a balcony seat.

I think that this was the day I finally flipped the album on the record player to hear Side 1.

I am a music geek.  I play no instrument, I am as tone-deaf as they come, I can only carry a tune if I attempt to perfectly mimic the original vocalizations and still miss many of the notes, or I place it in a bucket.  I love songs.  I really love songs.  And I love data, facts, and information.  I am a guy who read Encyclopaedia Britannica, and studied maps all my life.  Rock albums were loaded with a lot more than songs and lyrics:  there were listings of musicians and producers and recording studios and publishers and time and addresses and I became a liner-note freak.

I became (and perhaps I still am) one of those irritating guys who would say:  "Yeah!  Rick Wakeman played piano on that cut and on Bowie's 'Hunky Dory' album while he was still a member of Yes."

Oddly, most people could not have cared less about these little facts; but those facts mean a lot to me.  They showed me connections I knew must exist in a world I found intriguing.  Just like reading an encyclopaedia or a map!

The following winter I heard "Changes" by David Bowie, and then "Space Oddity" was re-released to ride the wave of his new-found popularity.  I got both the "Hunky Dory" and "Space Oddity" albums and while studying the liner notes of the latter I saw the name 'Tony Visconti.'  I rushed to my modest library of albums and pulled out "Electric Warrior" and there was the same name:  "Produced by Tony Visconti"!

I knew all about Motown and the cross-pollination that made Berry Gordy's small stable of talent into a huge wealth of product by mixing and matching writers and singers and producers; but I had not discovered any of those connections or references in rock and roll.  Here was Tony Visconti.  He's the guy who produced both T.Rex and David Bowie.

Honestly, I didn't even know what it meant to be a "producer"!  I had no idea what a record producer would do, or if the producer even really mattered.  But, something did matter: I'd discovered a link between David Bowie and T. Rex.  This was my entrance into glam, a new world that would change my perception about so many things:  music, dance, fashion, gender, make-up, sex.  All brought to me, as far as I was now concerned, by some guy named Tony Visconti.

Thirty years later I was at CBGB (I know it sounds cliche, but it's true) seeing a Kristeen Young show, and a friend introduced me to Tony Visconti.  Here he was in the flesh, the guy who brought glam rock into my life.  He was (and is) charming and friendly and smart and chatty, and we had other mutual acquaintances and interests.  Soon thereafter I sent him a mash note via email, and I think it was the first and last mash note I'd ever sent.  In that email I told him the story you just read.  His reply was incredibly gracious.

"Electric Warrior" by T.Rex changed my life and opened my mind to David Bowie and Roxy Music and Iggy Pop and so many other artists I adore.

If you haven't heard "Electric Warrior" then you have missed an important record in the history of modern music.  Buy it and listen to it.

If you have heard it, but it was decades ago, buy it and listen to it again, and see what it evokes.

(It's OK to listen to Side 2 first!)

Track Listing

Side One:
Mambo Sun
Cosmic Dancer
Lean Woman Blues

Side Two:
Get It On
Planet Queen
The Motivator
Life's a Gas
Rip Off

Total Playing Time 39:02

Produced by Tony Visconti

Recorded at multiple studios, including Trident Studios, in London

Released September 24, 1971

Reprise Records

Marc Bolan – vocals, guitars
Mickey Finn – conga drums, bongos
Steve Currie – bass guitar
Bill Legend – drums
Howard Kaylan – backing vocals
Mark Volman – backing vocals
Rick Wakeman – keyboards on "Get It On"
Ian McDonald – saxophone
Burt Collins – flugelhorn

Dick Mac Recommends:

Thursday, January 02, 2014

2013 - The Year In Review

by Dick Mac

Ramiro Ocasio
Ramiro Ocasio lives in Astoria, Queens, and works in Midtown Manhattan.  When you meet him you notice two things: (1) he is just like thousands of people who trudge to the subway every morning and are hurtled underground to the office, hopefully without delay; and (2) his amazing passion for every topic about which he is engaged (especially soccer and politics).

Ramiro was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and during his childhood returned to his mother's native Honduras where he spent his formative years.  As a young adult, he returned to America, arriving in New York City on his way back to his native Boston.  As he tells the story, he sounds just like the character in Stevie Wonder's "Living For The City."  He got to Port Authority after a very long ride from Miami and decided he had to see New York City while he was here.

He rushed to the street with the little time available before his bus departed, and walked the block of 8th and 9th Avenues and 40th and 42nd Streets:  "'Skyscrapers, and everything.'"

He bought a hot dog from a street vendor and called his waiting family in Boston to tell him he was on his way.  While he was walking around Port Authority he was bitten by that bug that infects so many of us with the irrepressible notion that we must live in New York City.

It wasn't long before he was back.  He secured a full-time job, and with the help of extended family settled in Queens.  He is a hard worker.  Those who know him will tell you stories of his commitment to projects, paid and unpaid alike.  Eventually he brought his son from Honduras and raised him as a New Yorker with a good education.

With humility you seldom find in Americans, Ramiro would save some of his wages each year, travel back to Honduras at Christmas and spread his good fortune by distributing food, books, clothes, and anything else he could afford, to the neighbors of his former village. Each year, as he earned more money working in his new hometown, he spread more of his good fortune during his annual visits.

When friends and co-workers learned of his efforts, small donations from them increased how much he could give to those who have so little.

The Friday before Martin Luther King Day in January 2013 was just like every other Friday before a long weekend.  His employer closed a couple hours early and he headed to the 59th Street subway stop to catch the N train home.

Ramiro Ocasio
He had his backpack on over a winter jacket and started the walk along the subway platform to wait at 'his' spot. All of us have a spot on the subway platform, the same spot we stand on every day while we wait.

He noticed and heard a commotion up ahead and when he looked he saw that an older man had fallen into the tracks.

Without a second thought, he pulled the backpack and jacket from his back, threw them to the subway platform, leapt onto the subway tracks, picked up the now-disoriented man, and threw him to others on the platform. A super-human feat, just like you read about. He then realized that the platform was too high to climb to, and it took a great effort by the others on the platform to pull him to safety.  Seven seconds later, the train rumbled over the spot in the tracks where the entire incident transpired.

Ramiro was a hero to everyone on that platform, and every resident of New York City. The police and paramedics arrived, and those emergency calls attracted reporters and photographers. Ramiro was thrust into the spotlight. Without betraying himself or putting on airs, he took the attention in stride.  He answered the questions and posed for pictures.  s the day turned into evening and Ramiro made it home, the attention grew.  Reporters called, he had television crews in his apartment, and bloggers posted the story almost immediately.

His employer received an amazing amount of press, and got lots of calls about him,  and they were proud of him. He did what all of us hope we would do in that situation.

He became the toast of the town and was invited to events you and I would never even consider an option. He posed for pictures with important people who wanted to shake his hand, and he took it in stride. He never lost the sense of awe that makes him the passionate man you will meet when you shake his hand.

As I write this, Ramiro is back in his village in Honduras, distributing food and books and supplies to his neighbors in need. The other day I saw a picture of him building a modest one-room cinder-block house for a family that had been living in squalor.

The notoriety has not impacted him at all. He remains loud and boisterous and passionate. And humble. He is still shocked by the attention he got, and he has used his notoriety and new connections to expand the work he does for those in need.

Ramiro Ocasio is a hero, and my choice for the most important person in 2013, not just because of that singular act of bravery and selflessness; but also because he lives the dream, he walks the talk, he makes people smile, and every part of the world he touches is better for it.

If I could be half the man . . .

Boston Strong
The Bombing:
I have watched the Boston Marathon from many vantage points over the years: Heartbreak Hill, Kenmore Square, the finish line. At one point I lived in an apartment at the Prudential Center with windows that overlooked Boylston Street, and I watched from there. The Boston Marathon is a big deal. I know people who run it, people who work it, people who host parties along the route, people who volunteer for the event, people who work in public safety during the race, people who just sit there and watch. It's a big deal in Boston.

With all this in mind, the news of the race being bombed at the finish line hit me like a ton of bricks.  Where was everybody?  Especially the runners I know.  My nieces and nephews?  Did they watch from Brookline or Kenmore Square?  Did they go down to the finish line?  What about my brother, a firefighter?  Was he on duty at the finish line?  I was at the office when word came to me, and I watched the videos online in horror.  I was paralyzed.  I dialed phone numbers and sent emails and dialed more phone numbers and sent more emails and was in a panic.  I couldn't work any longer.  At one point I put my face in my hands and just wept, sobbed really.  I should be there, I thought to myself.  That's my hometown, those are my people.

I tried to work, but couldn't.  I called my supervisor and explained that I had to go home, that I wasn't able to get information that I needed and I wasn't going to be able to get any work done until I heard that everyone was OK.  There was no question from him at all.  Of course I would go home.

Eventually everyone was accounted for and none of the dead or injured were my relatives, friends, or acquaintances.  Conflicting and confusing news reports came in every minute.  The news was horrific.  Then two guys were cornered in Watertown and had a shootout with police.  One of them died at the spot and the other got away.  The next day the manhunt intensified and the city was shutdown.  Police combed the area with military precision.  There were reports that he was seen coming out of the Charles River, having swum some distance to escape, people's homes were raided for one reason or another, the best and worst of humanity shone through.

The second guy was found just as the shutdown was lifted.  A guy noticed the cover on his boat in the backyard was flapping.  When he investigated he saw blood and called the police.  That was that.  The bad guy was apprehended.

The Aftermath:  
The term Boston Strong started appearing.  At sporting events everywhere, there was a moment of silence followed by fans chanting "Boston Strong."

I am a member of the Viking Army, a supporters group for Red Bull New York, the local soccer team.  We had a midweek match on Wednesday and across the southern end of the stadium, the supporters groups stretched a massive (massive) banner announcing "New York Stands With Boston."  Amazing!

Coincidentally, the following Saturday (5 days after the bombing) we were hosting the New England Revolution, the Boston soccer team, in a match at Red Bull Arena.

Thursday saw the front office staff of the two teams and the representatives of the supporters clubs for both teams trying to coordinate some type of unifying event that would bring the opposing sides together in a sign of solidarity and support.  This was a tall order, and it was unlikely that anything could be put together in such a short time.

Soccer has a fan culture that other professional sports do not enjoy.  Large groups of passionate fans form groups that cooperate with the team and the front office, have sections of the stadium reserved just for them and their friends, and lead the crowd in chants and songs for the entire 90 minutes of the match.  Some of these supporters groups, like Viking Army, organize trips to follow the team to other cities for away matches.  Security teams for every MLS stadium have developed logistics that define where each team's supporters group will congregate, what time they will congregate, and what route they will take to their seats.  Drunkenness and high spirits often make it a disorderly march to the seats, but one thing never happens:  supporters for opposing teams never come in contact with each other, and never see each other until they are all in their seats.  All teams' security personnel have done a commendable job year after year.

One thing the security teams have no experience with, is arranging for supporters groups from opposing sides to meet on the street outside the stadium, march together into the stadium, then go their separate ways to their designated sections.  It has never been done.  There has never been a reason to plan for it, because it just wouldn't ever be done.  Bringing opposing supporters groups together is like throwing gasoline on fire:  it might sound pretty nifty when described in bright colorful terms, but in reality will likely be disastrous.

At our pre-game tailgate we learned that our march from the Ironbound district of Newark would take a slightly different route and stop at the intersection of the road that leads to the front doors of Red Bull Arena.  Once there, we would unfurl our massive banner from Wednesday night, which was so big it was wider than the boulevard fronting the stadium, and we would wait for the New England supporters to march from the opposite direction when they left their gathering spot in Harrison.

While we were assembling in front of the stadium, a cop who is regularly assigned to work match day asked me:  "What's going on?"  I said:  "We're waiting for the New England supporters to arrive so that we can march together into the stadium."  He actually laughed and said:  "Yeah.  Right!  Like that would happen."

We stood behind our banner and then we saw them approaching from a quarter-mile away:  waving their flags, singing their songs, shouting their chants.  The enemy!  Here came The Midnight Riders and The Rebellion, the two New England supporters groups, marching towards us, Viking Army and Empire Supporters Club, the New York supporters groups.  The tension was palpable, but not negative or hostile.  It was just kinda confusing and tense.

We all raised our scarves over our heads, and began chanting: "Boston Strong.  Boston Strong."  The New England supporters went silent as they approached and when they got to the intersection you could see they were smiling and laughing and crying and completely overwhelmed by the support.  And you could see it in the eyes of the Vikings and other New York supporters.  It was an incredibly emotional moment.

Anatomy of a Boston Strong hooligan.
It turned into a receiving line.  We stayed behind our banner and they walked the length of it, shaking hands and trading scarves and laughing and crying and hugging.  Every one of them said it over and over:  "thank you, thank you, thank you."  As the receiving line ended, we mingled together and the leaders started the march up the road to the entrance.  There we were:  people in Revolution jerseys holding Red Bulls scarves aloft and people in Red Bulls jerseys holding Revolution scarves aloft, all marching together, shaking hands, hugging, chanting "Boston Strong.  Boston Strong."

It was remarkable.  It was shocking.  Everyone was awestruck, including the security team, the police, and the front office staff that were monitoring the situation.

Someone got on a bullhorn and said a few nice words, and then someone else said something.  Then we stood in silence, and then someone started singing "America, The Beautiful." I lost it, most of us lost it.

We shook hands, they marched North to their entrance, and we marched South to our entrance.

It was a huge success.  Something that had never happened before and will likely never happen again:  opposing supporters groups marched to the stadium, chanted, laughed, cried, and sang together.

In the following days, we received accolades from the Red Bulls front office, the Revolution front office, the opposing supporters groups, and everyone else who had witnessed this remarkable event.

Soon our team was scheduled to visit New England for an away match.  Since Foxboro is so close we generally get a fairly big crowd to travel.  The leaders of The Rebellion and The Midnight Riders, and the Revolution front office called and asked to have a joint tailgate.  We arrived early and it was rainy.  There they were:  New England supporters in the rain to greet us so that we could celebrate together.  The front office set up a tent with grills and were giving away burgers and dogs.

The bombing at the Marathon was a horrible event, a murderous, frightening, bloody incident that has left a mark on all of us.

And the aftermath allowed us, as human beings, to show our mettle, to show what we are made of, to come together as one and find common ground on which to mourn and celebrate.

The Boston Marathon Bombing is the second event on my list not because of the carnage and terror, but because of small groups of people like The Midnight Riders, The Rebellion, Viking Army, and The Empire Supporters Club, who with organizations like Red Bull New York and the New England Revolution, rose above the fray, transcended the obvious and came together to show just how resilient we are.

Nelson Mandela
During my lifetime there has been no other human being who so perfectly embodies the notions of struggle, dignity, success, and forgiveness.

In the 1970s, people started talking about apartheid.  Then boycotts of South African exports began, especially the Krugerrand.  South Africa is a nation built on mining.  If nobody buys your gold, you are looking at a limited ability to maintain a society, especially a police state that requires so many resources to keep the people in line.

Eventually, performers began refusing to play Sun City, the South African resort that was a regular stop for every entertainer on a world tour.  Sun City was segregated.  Although blacks worked at Sun City, only whites were allowed to visit as paying customers.  I recall Diana Ross being particularly embarrassed and defensive when she learned too late that all the other black entertainers were refusing to travel there.  I don't think she went back.

The imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, an early anti-apartheid leader and president of the African National Congress, became part of the international dialog.  Why was this guy in prison?  What had he done wrong?

Now that the entire world was seeing the South African apartheid-based government as illegitimate (if not illegal), the sins of the activists seemed not terribly sinful at all.

Special AKA (i.e., legendary ska band The Specials), a multiracial British band released the single "Free Nelson Mandela" and everywhere in the world (except the USA) the song played over and over again.  In the USA, it played only on alternative and college radio stations (which really did used to exist).  Still, the anti-apartheid dialog was taking place in the USA, too.  Coin dealers kept their Krugerrand locked-up in back, not displayed with other coins.  Shareholders began demanding that corporations divest their interests in South Africa, and the tide began shifting fast.

The apartheid government of South Africa started negotiating with the African National Congress.  Mandela was released from prison, elections were held, white people fled in droves, and Mandela was elected President.

These were bright times and dark times for South Africa.

The change could be painful, and it was.

Mandela proved to be a brilliant leader.  The story of the all-white South African rugby team is the stuff of legends.  Mandela insisted that they continue as a team, they were successful, they could unite the citizenry.  And they did.

Mandela was hailed around the world as a keeper of the peace, a bearer of the flame of liberty and righteousness.

When he died in 2013, he was lauded as a man who changed the world, changed humanity.  Even former adversaries praised him.

There were very few negative testimonials (mostly from Americans on Fox News), and they were minimized as ludicrous (even by other Americans on Fox News).

I hope and pray that his passing will lead to a continuation of his philosophy, not an opportunity for the banksters to destabilize South Africa and return to raping it of its riches.

Nelson Mandela changed the world.

He changed me.

I'll bet he changed you, too, even if you don't know it.

Affordable Care Act
The vast majority of Americans, including the vast majority of elected officials that run the United States government have little or no grasp of socialism.  They think they know what it means and that often includes the notion that they have to lose something so somebody can gain something.  That's how the bankers want it:  stupid working people fighting amongst themselves over bogeymen.

In 1994, Hillary Clinton, then First Lady of the United States, led a task force of really smart people to design a single-payer health care system that would address the American embarrassment of sick and dying people who either receive little or no care, or go bankrupt paying for whatever care they can afford until the money runs out and their treatments cease.

The United States House of Representatives was led by Newt Gingrich, and he led the charge against health care reform.  He called it socialism.  He and his buddies presented a plan that would put affordable care under the control of private insurance companies.

The First Lady, her supporters, and the President said "Absolutely not"!

This is what stupid people think
of affordable health care
Fast-forward about twenty years and things had gotten worse, really bad in fact, and it was obvious that any change, even the ludicrous notion that corporations could provide affordable care, would have to be tried.  ANY change had to be tried.  President Barack Obama put forward a health care reform solution that was basically the system the Republicans of 1994 demanded.   As soon as the current cast of characters running the Republican Party had their chance, they put a stop to the plan that mimicked, almost exactly, the plan they said they wanted, and they called it socialism (even though it had been their idea originally).

Despite the idiocy of Republicans and the moronic following of millionaires, billionaires, and Fox News viewers they've assembled, the current Administration passed the Affordable Care Act.

To this day, Republicans and right-wing banksters are doing everything they can to undermine the plan and the well-being of America.

With all its problems, the ACA is an important milestone in the United States becoming a civilized nation.  We aren't there yet - not even close actually - but with little glimmers in the darkness like the ACA, there is hope.

Mike Petke - Red Bull New York
My soccer team is classic:  the most overpaid lineup that wins nothing.  Zero championships.

In 2013, the owners decided to give control of the team to a young local coach who had been a player for the team.  No fancy-pants European coach with tons of experience.  Instead, a local guy.  Almost a kid.

It was a bumpy start, but not a disaster by any stretch of the imagination, and then it happened.

A report came out of the training ground that the new coach, Mike Petke, had had a run-in and shouting match with the superstar, Thierry Henry.  They had to be separated and the entire team witnessed it.  The players would never betray confidence, but enough leaked out to let me conclude that this could be the end of Petke's tenure as coach or Henry's stay with the team.

Coach Mike Petke and Superstar Thierry Henry
The following Saturday, Petke announced that Henry was benched because of the incident.  The superstar would not start the match - maybe wouldn't play at all.  We sat in Red Bull Arena talking about it, predicting the outcome, reading as much into it as our imaginations would allow.  Henry on the bench.  This is huge.

The broadcast showed Henry relaxed, not sullen or angry, sitting on the bench with his teammates.  A few laughs, a few conversations behind their hands, some shouting and cheering.  It looked OK.  It looked like Henry was taking the high road.  This could only be good for the team.  We all knew it.

What we didn't know when Henry came on as a substitute in the second half, is that this incident would change the course of the season, and the character of the team would mature by leaps and bounds.

We made it to the top of the table, number one in the standings, best record, most wins, most points in Major League Soccer.  For the first time, our team was collecting silverware:  the Supporters Shield.  In every soccer league in the world, the Supporters Shield (as it's called in MLS, the Premier League in England, Serie A in Italy, etc.) is the pinnacle of success:  you win it, you are the champions.

Photo: Vipers Nest

Used without permission
However, this is the United States and Major League Soccer, a nation and a sports league controlled by television contracts and advertisers, not sportsmen and athletes.  In the United States you have to have a playoff system.  The longer and more complicated the better.  In fact, post-season for most American sports leagues is like the second half of the season:  weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks of playoffs that in the end determine the championship.

MLS also has some rules that make it different from every other soccer league in the world.  One of these rules led to RBNY being eliminated in the early rounds and going home with their now-meaningless Supporters Shield while Salt Lake City and Kansas City ultimately played the final match.

Mike Petke transformed this team.  He has impressed the entire soccer world, not just MLS!  His coaching was noted by soccer experts on every continent.  He is one of the most exciting and dynamic young coaches in the world today.  I predict he will be the first American coach of a European club.

Oh . . . and how did I know that Henry and Petke were OK with each other?

After the match at which we won the Supporters Shield, the players were celebrating with the trophy and moving closer to the South Ward, where they would show it to the supporters.  Henry pushed all his teammates aside, forcefully took the Shield walked Petke to the edge of the field in front of the stands, and handed Petke the trophy so he could raise it to the fans.

Petke gets it.  Henry gets it.

Edward Snowden
He changed the world.  In 2013 he sought asylum in Russia, which is better than a prison (but maybe not much).

Edward Snowden
All of our allies pretended to be shocked and appalled by his disclosures.  They have now learned that we were spying on them, tapping their phones, intercepting their communications.

Most of our allies don't seem to be so mad at him anymore.

So, we Americans are required to carry the "Edward Snowden Hates Our Freedom" torch all by ourselves, and I'm a bit surprised at some of my friends who have taken the position that he deserves to be punished.

For those who hate Snowden so much:  while you were complaining about him, your government extended the area of our country that can be exempted from Constitutional Law to everywhere within a hundred miles of the coastline.  So, in Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Hawaii, you as a citizen cannot be guaranteed your Constitutional rights.  Even if you're white and rich.

Boy, that Snowden sure wrecked everything!

Mario Jorge Bergoglio
Since accepting promotion to the papacy and taking the name Francis, the current pope has rattled a lot of cages.

Photo by Telegraph
Used without permission
He has audaciously suggested that the church stay out of other people's sex lives, use Vatican resources to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless, and teach the illiterate.

He has decried modern-day capitalism as a serious threat to humanity.

He kissed a leper.

He said that Western conservatives are not accurately reflecting the teachings of Christ.

He doesn't like living in a palace.

This is all pretty scary stuff if you're a right-wing reactionary fuckhead Catholic; but, it's great news for we Catholics who were raised believing that our religious lives were for working towards social justice, helping those in need, and practicing the moral teachings of Jesus.

Catholics like me have been pretty unpopular since Pope Ronald Reagan, er . . . , I mean, Pope John Paul II, moved the church further to the right than Pius XII.

The last pope who talked about these things (John Paul I) was snuffed 29 days into his papacy.

I hope this pope lives long enough to piss off more 'conservatives' and move the church back to the left, where it belongs.

Perhaps next year I will write about him again and it will be good news.

David Bowie - "The Next Day"
On his birthday, in January, David Bowie released a new single.  WHAT?!?!?

Then he announced that an album was forthcoming.  WHAT?!?!?!?

David Bowie The Next Day
Produced by Tony Visconti, this record was two years in the making, and somehow everyone involved in its production kept it a complete secret.

The video for the title track was directed by Floria Sigismondi and starred Gary Oldman and Marion Cotillard.  It does almost as much for Catholicism as the new Pope Francis!  It's fantastic.  I'll bet Pope Francis would not be offended by it.  The stigmata scene is a bit much, but not because of its religious message.  It's just kinda bloody and messy.  Still, I like it, and I get it.

The wacko fringe 'group' The Catholic League, which isn't so much a group as it is a crazed gazzilionaire, denounced it, which was perfect because it means that all the Catholics then watched it.  I'm a Catholic and I know a lot of Catholics.  Everyone I know thinks it's a pretty accurate depiction of today's Catholic Church and an enormously entertaining video.

I can't say there is a single cut on the album that I dislike.  I love "Dirty Boys" and "I'd Rather Be High"; and the title track is quite excellent.  They all sounds like classic Bowie.  It's almost like he went through his catalog and said:  "let's make a song that might have been on this album or that album."  It's really quite good, and it is not surprising to me that it's made many of the world's 2013 top ten lists.

Visconti and Bowie have been nominated for a Grammy!

Congratulations and kudos to all involved.

Chelsea (Bradley) Manning
Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for sharing military secrets with Wikileaks.

She is having trouble as a female prisoner because she used to be a man.  The military has no mechanism to handle this change.  Actually, our military has few mechanisms to deal with anything anymore since we've privatized so much of it.

I am fascinated that this case has now shifted from a discussion of information security to a discussion of transgender rights and needs.

Stay tuned.

113th Congress
One positive thing that's come out of this Congress is filibuster reform.  I can't think of anything else.  Can you?

This Congress uses military spending to funnel money to their friends and associates.  This has always been true with congresses, of course.  Somehow I didn't mind so much when 75% of the Congressmen were military veterans.  It's almost like they'd earned the right to do that.  This Congress' membership includes only 18% military veterans.  This should mean a dramatic cut in military spending, not an increase.

The 113th Congress makes my list because of their futility and desire to successfully dismantle the United States of America (which they seem to be doing).

Gay Marriage
I have a daughter attending 4th Grade at a Catholic school.  To her, gay marriage is a perfectly normal and obvious thing.

She and many of her peers don't think it should be anyone's business.  They know homosexuals of both sexes, some are single and some are married, and they are all just regular, normal people:  uncles, aunts, siblings, neighbors.

While my generation drags its feet through bigotry they pretend doesn't exist, future generations have already buried the issue.

I do not use marijuana, but I have in the past.

I have always thought it should be legal.

Hell, even Barry Goldwater thought it should be legal.  Well, Barry Goldwater and I will be enjoying the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana throughout the United States over the next couple of years because in 2013 the flood gates began to open.

Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn got its first major league team in 56 years when, in 2013, the New Jersey Nets, who used to be the New York Nets, moved to the Barclay Center and became the Brooklyn Nets.  It's been a huge success for the team, the fans, and the league.  It's been a nightmare for those who live nearby or lost their homes to the development of the arena.

Next year, the NHL New York Islanders will abandon their current home at The Nassau Coliseum and join the Nets in Brooklyn.

Exodus International Shuts Down
Remember when you could get cured of your homosexuality?

Exodus International opened its doors and was managed by an "ex-gay" (whatever that is) who explained that he could cure people of their homosexuality.  It was popular for a while.

I met a guy whose parents sent him there.  He said the best part of it was all the easy sex he got with the other soon-to-be-ex-gay boys.  In his case the cure didn't work.

It appears that his experience was the norm (for lack of a better word).

Even the famous ex-gay founder, Alan Chambers, has admitted that he still gets hot for guys.  And why wouldn't he?  He's bisexual, a perfectly normal sexual orientation.

Mineshaft - NYC
It's obvious that the cure fails when so many of the patients (all?) are still hot for sex with people of the same sex.

So, Miss Thing . . . I mean, Mr. Chambers, closed the organization, apologized for his actions, and announced he is going to re-open The Mineshaft, which will be used to turn straight people into homosexuals.

I only fabricated some of that!

These are some of the other living people I noticed in 2013:
Miley Cyrus: her ass, her vagina, and her tongue.
George Zimmerman: his acquittal, his guns, his cars, his women, and his temper.
His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge: they all look alike.
Robin Roberts:  her cancer and her girlfriend

These are the other deaths I noticed in 2013:
Margaret Thatcher, U.K. prime minister
Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan president
Van Cliburn Jr., pianist
Ed Koch, New York mayor
Doris Lessing, novelist
Stan Musial, baseball player
Peter O'Toole, actor
Lou Reed, rock musician
Ray Dolby, sound innovator
Mikhail Kalashnikov, assault rifle developer
Jean Stapleton, actress
James Gandolfini, actor
Edgar Bronfman Sr., philanthropist
David Frost, journalist
Joan Fontaine, actress

Happy New Year!