Via Naked Came I
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Friday, March 29, 2013
...I've told my hippie/hipsters friends not to shop Urban Outfitters.
Everyone and their mother has been going red in the past few days in support of marriage equality, including several high-profile brands — Bud Light, Smirnoff, Absolut…we’re sensing a trend here.
Others have remained silent on the issue, but a new Tumblr is forcing companies out of the closet. Brand Equality features dozens of brand logos stylized with the Human Rights Campaign’s red equal sign — giving the assumption that they support marriage equality.
Brands have the option to say nothing and let the assumption ride; confirm their support; or request that their logo be removed, implying that they do not support marriage equality.
A sort of “public shaming,” if you will; or complete transparency, if you won’t. However, as Business Insider notes, it’s possible that these brands “don’t allow for their logos to be reproduced for legal, trademark or intellectual property reasons.”
Either way, these four brands asked to have their logos removed. Brand Equality has replaced their original comments (below) with the more equitable — “So, do these brands want to be removed? Or to replace the image sent in with a ‘neutral’ stance? Just let us know. This is all about transparency.”
The other 3 brands? Exxon, Walmart, and Chick-Fil-Lame.
Via Page Views
A couple of hours ago, Amazon announcedits purchase of “social cataloguing” site Goodreads. From a business perspective, the move was both expected and wise: Goodreads provides Amazon with a social network of readers, alongside its data, book recommendation technology and 16 million users; meanwhile, Apple and Barnes & Noble are twiddling their proverbial thumbs.
The popular reaction to the purchase, however, was somewhat less exuberant than that of business analysts...
I may be going back to my original way of keeping track of the books I read: pen and notebook. :(
Here's more via GeekWire
Richard Griffiths, who millions of Harry Potter movie fans loved and likely despised as the cruel Uncle Vernon Dursley, has died.
"Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter alongside him, led tributes to the actor whose 'encouragement, tutelage and humor' made work 'a joy.' Radcliffe, who also performed with Griffiths in the stage play Equus, said: 'Richard was by my side during two of the most important moments of my career. In August 2000, before official production had even begun on Potter, we filmed a shot outside the Dursleys', which was my first ever shot as Harry. I was nervous and he made me feel at ease. 'Seven years later, we embarked on Equus together. It was my first time doing a play but, terrified as I was, his encouragement, tutelage and humor made it a joy.'"
Griffiths won multiple awards for his New York and London stage performances in The History Boys. He played the teacher, Hector. He was also well known to those who love the 1987 movie Withnail & I for his role as Uncle Monty.
The actor's IMDB bio page includes a trivia section, which notes that he was:
- "Considered by producers for the role of "The Doctor" in Doctor Who ... had the series' original run continued past 1989."
- Not shy about telling audience members to get out if their cellphones rang. In July 2005, "he ordered a man out of the National Theatre, London, when his mobile phone went off for the sixth time during a performance of Alan Bennett's The History Boys. The actor stopped in the middle of his lines, fixed the offender with an icy stare and said: 'I am asking you to stand up, leave this auditorium and never, ever come back.' Other members of the audience applauded as the man left the theatre."
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Image via POLITICO
The Democrats are “zero for 10” in recruitment for the race, the National Republican Senatorial Committee declared Thursday, following actress Ashley Judd’s announcement that she’s out.
But Senator McConnell, who is trying for an unprecedented (for Kentucky) sixth term, can’t sit easy. Polls show he’s unpopular, both on the left and the tea-party right, and Democrats have another potential candidate in the wings: Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Former President Bill Clinton met with Secretary Grimes earlier this month and encouraged her to run for the Senate, not the House or for governor, as she is reportedly considering, according to ABC News. Grimes is young, photogenic, and politically connected. Her father, Jerry Lundergan, is a former state party chairman and longtime supporter of both Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Granted, if a twinkie hottie played the theme music to LOTR to me on an recorder, I'd probably dance like this too.
Sorry, this is a day late. I couldn't make myself get on the internet last night for anything other than lol-style memes. :(
As Mary Richards’s lovable and self-deprecating best friend Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Valerie Harper, too, turned the world on with her smile. Viewers could relate to Rhoda, native New Yorker and struggling working girl, who was unlucky in love and insecure about her weight but who always kept her sense of humor.
Valerie was an unknown actress when she won the part that made her famous, and by the time Rhoda, her popular spin-off show, ended, she had won four Emmys and a Golden Globe. The role was groundbreaking. On-screen, she represented a self-reliant new identity for women of the 1970s while off-screen she fought alongside feminists Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug for equal rights, among other issues that were important to her.
Valerie’s showbiz journey has taken her from Broadway, where she performed as a dancer and eventually found herself onstage with Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason, to Hollywood, where she went down in history as one of television’s best-loved characters, and back to the Great White Way, where she recently won a Tony Award nomination for her critically acclaimed role as Tallulah Bankhead. Her inspiring story is laced with triumphs and a few transformative obstacles along the way, but she remains upbeat and funny throughout, always confident that no matter what, she’s going to make it after all.
In American Honor Killings, straight and gay guys cross paths, and the result is murder. But what really happened? What role did hatred play? What were the men involved really like, and what was going on between them when the murder occurred? American Honor Killings explores the truth behind squeamish reporting and uninformed political rants of the far right or fringe left. David McConnell, a New Yorkbased novelist, researched cases from small-town Alabama to San Quentin's death row. The book recounts some of the most notorious crimes of our era.
Beginning in 1999 and lasting until the 2011 conviction of a youth in Queens, New York, the book shows how some murderers think they're cleaning up society. Surprisingly, other killings feel almost preordained, not a matter of the victim's personality or actions so much as a twisted display of a young man's will to compete or dominate. We want to think these stories involve simple sexual conflict, either the killer's internal struggle over his own identity or a fatally miscalculated proposition. They're almost never that simple.
Together, the cases form a secret American history of rage and desire. McConnell cuts through cant and political special pleading to turn these cases into enduring literature. In each story, victims, murderers, friends, and relatives come breathtakingly alive. The result is more soulful, more sensitive, more artful than the sort of “true crime” writing the book was modeled on. A wealth of new detail has been woven into old cases, while new cases are plumbed for the first time. The resulting stories play out exactly as they happened, an inexorable sequence of events—grisly, touching, disturbing, sometimes even with moments of levity.
Sake began with a grain of rice. Scotch emerged from barley, tequila from agave, rum from sugarcane, bourbon from corn. Thirsty yet? In The Drunken Botanist, Amy Stewart explores the dizzying array of herbs, flowers, trees, fruits, and fungi that humans have, through ingenuity, inspiration, and sheer desperation, contrived to transform into alcohol over the centuries.
Of all the extraordinary and obscure plants that have been fermented and distilled, a few are dangerous, some are downright bizarre, and one is as ancient as dinosaurs—but each represents a unique cultural contribution to our global drinking traditions and our history.
This fascinating concoction of biology, chemistry, history, etymology, and mixology — with more than fifty drink recipes and growing tips for gardeners — will make you the most popular guest at any cocktail party.
In this lively and illuminating discussion of his landmark research, esteemed primatologist Frans de Waal argues that human morality is not imposed from above but instead comes from within. Moral behavior does not begin and end with religion but is in fact a product of evolution.
For many years, de Waal has observed chimpanzees soothe distressed neighbors and bonobos share their food. Now he delivers fascinating fresh evidence for the seeds of ethical behavior in primate societies that further cements the case for the biological origins of human fairness. Interweaving vivid tales from the animal kingdom with thoughtful philosophical analysis, de Waal seeks a bottom-up explanation of morality that emphasizes our connection with animals. In doing so, de Waal explores for the first time the implications of his work for our understanding of modern religion. Whatever the role of religious moral imperatives, he sees it as a “Johnny-come-lately” role that emerged only as an addition to our natural instincts for cooperation and empathy.
But unlike the dogmatic neo-atheist of his book’s title, de Waal does not scorn religion per se. Instead, he draws on the long tradition of humanism exemplified by the painter Hieronymus Bosch and asks reflective readers to consider these issues from a positive perspective: What role, if any, does religion play for a well-functioning society today? And where can believers and nonbelievers alike find the inspiration to lead a good life?
Rich with cultural references and anecdotes of primate behavior, The Bonobo and the Atheist engagingly builds a unique argument grounded in evolutionary biology and moral philosophy. Ever a pioneering thinker, de Waal delivers a heartening and inclusive new perspective on human nature and our struggle to find purpose in our lives.
"I wish I could tell everyone who thinks we’re ruined, Look closer…and you’ll see something extraordinary, mystifying, something real and true. We have never been what we seemed."
When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the “ungettable” Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner’s, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and take the rest as it comes.
What comes, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined attention and success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time. Everyone wants to meet the dashing young author of the scandalous novel—and his witty, perhaps even more scandalous wife. Zelda bobs her hair, adopts daring new fashions, and revels in this wild new world. Each place they go becomes a playground: New York City, Long Island, Hollywood, Paris, and the French Riviera—where they join the endless party of the glamorous, sometimes doomed Lost Generation that includes Ernest Hemingway, Sara and Gerald Murphy, and Gertrude Stein.
Everything seems new and possible. Troubles, at first, seem to fade like morning mist. But not even Jay Gatsby’s parties go on forever. Who is Zelda, other than the wife of a famous — sometimes infamous — husband? How can she forge her own identity while fighting her demons and Scott’s, too? With brilliant insight and imagination, Therese Anne Fowler brings us Zelda’s irresistible story as she herself might have told it.
Strong support among women was key to Obama’s reelection. At the start of his second term, it is time for Barack Obama, forty years after Roe v. Wade, to finally help lead us to demystify abortion. One-third of all American women will have an abortion by the time they are 45, and most of those women are already mothers. Yet, the topic remains taboo. In this provocative book on the heels of the Planned Parenthood controversy, Sarah Erdreich presents the antidote to the usual abortion debates.
Inextricably connected to issues of autonomy, privacy, and sexuality, the abortion debate remains home base for the culture wars in America. Yet, there is more common ground than meets the eye in favor of choice. Generation Roe delves into phenomena such as "abortion-recovery counseling," "crisis pregnancy centers," and the infamous anti-choice "black children are an endangered species" billboards. It tells the stories of those who risk their lives to pursue careers in this stigmatized field. And it outlines the outrageous legislative battles that are being waged against abortion rights all over the country. With an inspiring spirit and a forward-looking approach, Erdreich holds abortion up, unabashedly, as a moral and fundamental human right.
Single mother Elise is completely devoted to her eleven-year-old son; he is her whole world. But that world is destroyed in one terrifying moment when her son is killed in a car accident just outside their home. Suddenly alone, surrounded by memories, Elise faces a future that feels unspeakably bleak — and pointless.
Lost, angry, and desolate, Elise rejects everyone who tries to reach out to her. But as despair threatens to engulf her, she realizes, to her horror, that she cannot join her son: She must take care of his beloved cat. At first she attempts to carry out this task entirely by herself, shut away from a frightening new reality that seems surreal and incomprehensible. But isolation proves to be impossible, and before long others insinuate themselves into her life — friends, enemies, colleagues, neighbors, a former lover — bringing with them the fragile beginnings of survival.
Powerfully moving and deeply humane, The Cat is an unforgettable novel about the extraordinary resilience of the human spirit.
From the acclaimed author of Citizens of London comes the definitive account of the debate over American intervention in World War II — a bitter, sometimes violent clash of personalities and ideas that divided the nation and ultimately determined the fate of the free world.
At the center of this controversy stood the two most famous men in America: President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who championed the interventionist cause, and aviator Charles Lindbergh, who as unofficial leader and spokesman for America’s isolationists emerged as the president’s most formidable adversary. Their contest of wills personified the divisions within the country at large, and Lynne Olson makes masterly use of their dramatic personal stories to create a poignant and riveting narrative. While FDR, buffeted by political pressures on all sides, struggled to marshal public support for aid to Winston Churchill’s Britain, Lindbergh saw his heroic reputation besmirched — and his marriage thrown into turmoil — by allegations that he was a Nazi sympathizer.
Spanning the years 1939 to 1941, Those Angry Days vividly re-creates the rancorous internal squabbles that gripped the United States in the period leading up to Pearl Harbor. After Germany vanquished most of Europe, America found itself torn between its traditional isolationism and the urgent need to come to the aid of Britain, the only country still battling Hitler. The conflict over intervention was, as FDR noted, “a dirty fight,” rife with chicanery and intrigue, and Those Angry Days recounts every bruising detail. In Washington, a group of high-ranking military officers, including the Air Force chief of staff, worked to sabotage FDR’s pro-British policies. Roosevelt, meanwhile, authorized FBI wiretaps of Lindbergh and other opponents of intervention. At the same time, a covert British operation, approved by the president, spied on antiwar groups, dug up dirt on congressional isolationists, and planted propaganda in U.S. newspapers.
The stakes could not have been higher. The combatants were larger than life. With the immediacy of a great novel, Those Angry Days brilliantly recalls a time fraught with danger when the future of democracy and America’s role in the world hung in the balance.
"Sustainability is about contributing to a society that everybody benefits from, not just going organic because you don't want to die from cancer or have a difficult pregnancy. What is a sustainable restaurant? It's one in which as the restaurant grows, the people grow with it." - from Behind the Kitchen Door
How do restaurant workers live on some of the lowest wages in America? And how do poor working conditions - discriminatory labor practices, exploitation, and unsanitary kitchens - affect the meals that arrive at our restaurant tables? Saru Jayaraman, who launched the national restaurant workers' organization Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, sets out to answer these questions by following the lives of restaurant workers in New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Miami, Detroit, and New Orleans.
Blending personal narrative and investigative journalism, Jayaraman shows us that the quality of the food that arrives at our restaurant tables depends not only on the sourcing of the ingredients. Our meals benefit from the attention and skill of the people who chop, grill, sauté, and serve. Behind the Kitchen Door is a groundbreaking exploration of the political, economic, and moral implications of dining out. Jayaraman focuses on the stories of individuals, like Daniel, who grew up on a farm in Ecuador and sought to improve the conditions for employees at Del Posto; the treatment of workers behind the scenes belied the high-toned Slow Food ethic on display in the front of the house.
Increasingly, Americans are choosing to dine at restaurants that offer organic, fair-trade, and free-range ingredients for reasons of both health and ethics. Yet few of these diners are aware of the working conditions at the restaurants themselves. But whether you eat haute cuisine or fast food, the well-being of restaurant workers is a pressing concern, affecting our health and safety, local economies, and the life of our communities. Highlighting the roles of the 10 million people, many immigrants, many people of color, who bring their passion, tenacity, and vision to the American dining experience, Jayaraman sets out a bold agenda to raise the living standards of the nation's second-largest private sector workforce-and ensure that dining out is a positive experience on both sides of the kitchen door.
A decade in the writing, the haunting story of a son’s quest to understand the mystery of his father’s death—a universal memoir about the secrets families keep and the role they play in making us who we are.
Michael Hainey had just turned six when his uncle knocked on his family’s back door one morning with the tragic news: Bob Hainey, Michael’s father, was found alone near his car on Chicago’s North Side, dead, of an apparent heart attack. Thirty-five years old, a young assistant copy desk chief at the Chicago Sun-Times, Bob was a bright and shining star in the competitive, hard-living world of newspapers, one that involved booze-soaked nights that bled into dawn. And then suddenly he was gone, leaving behind a young widow, two sons, a fractured family—and questions surrounding the mysterious nature of his death that would obsess Michael throughout adolescence and long into adulthood. Finally, roughly his father’s age when he died, and a seasoned reporter himself, Michael set out to learn what happened that night. Died “after visiting friends,” the obituaries said. But the details beyond that were inconsistent. What friends? Where? At the heart of his quest is Michael’s all-too-silent, opaque mother, a woman of great courage and tenacity—and a steely determination not to look back. Prodding and cajoling his relatives, and working through a network of his father’s buddies who abide by an honor code of silence and secrecy, Michael sees beyond the long-held myths and ultimately reconciles the father he’d imagined with the one he comes to know—and in the journey discovers new truths about his mother.
A stirring portrait of a family and its legacy of secrets, After Visiting Friends is the story of a son who goes in search of the truth and finds not only his father, but a rare window into a world of men and newspapers and fierce loyalties that no longer exists.
Image via Brickhorizon
Article via Kentucky.com
FRANKFORT — Kentucky House Democrats voted Monday night to override a gubernatorial veto of controversial legislation known as the "religious freedom" bill.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, declined to give a final tally for the vote to override Gov. Steve Beshear's veto of House Bill 279. The vote was taken behind closed doors in the House Democratic caucus late Monday. It was not clear if the full House was going to vote on the bill Tuesday, and then send it to the Senate.
It takes 51 votes to override a gubernatorial veto. House Bill 279 passed the Democratic-controlled House 82-7 earlier this session. Monday was the 29th day of the 30-day session.
Stumbo said the discussion was heated.
Beshear vetoed the measure on Friday, saying that while he values religious freedom, the bill went too far. Earlier in this legislative session, the religious freedom bill passed overwhelmingly in the Democratic House and Republican Senate. House Bill 279 would allow someone with "sincerely held" religious beliefs to disregard state laws and regulations.
Beshear said he vetoed the bill on Friday because it was too vague and could result in costly lawsuits for state and county governments.
More than 50 organizations had opposed the bill, arguing that it could lead to more discrimination and could overrule ordinances in Lexington, Louisville, Covington and Vicco that protect gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination.
But backers of the bill said that in 16 other states with similar religious freedom laws, there have been few if any lawsuits.
Beshear met behind closed doors with the House Democrats earlier Monday. He said he explained to them why he ultimately decided to veto the bill.
"I don't have any idea on what action they might take," Beshear said. "I obviously don't want them to override my veto, because I think I made the right decision."
The Republican-controlled Senate has already said that it has the votes to override the veto if the House Democrats opt to vote for an override.
Several other issues remained unresolved as lawmakers headed toward the end of the legislative session.
Legislators have yet to take action on bills including one to allow members of the military to vote overseas by email. Another proposal awaiting approval would allow a Christians-only health care plan to operate in Kentucky.
BTW, the Christians-only health care plan has since been given the right to operate in Kentucky.
Here is the roll call vote. Yes means override the Veto, No means keep the Veto. Passes and moves onto Senate to vote.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Monday, March 25, 2013
Image and quote via Accidental Bear
To a certain type of gay man, the thought of dating someone who is openly HIV positive can feel like social suicide. They certainly aren’t the best version of our culture, but any homosexual can attest to the reality of some sects of our society who view people’s HIV status like designer labels. When it comes to a negative man choosing to date someone who is positive, they may run the risk of someone confusing their Prada suit in a Banana Republic bag. But Joshua Stearns knew that rumors didn’t transmit the virus and that the potential for a loving relationship with Andrew was worth a few whispers over a mismatched label.
Chad White by Jeremy Kost via American Idle
In other news, I've made the switch from Google Reader to Feedly...funnily enough, I used Google Reader this morning. Old habits die hard.
Also, in the past month, 2 1/2 friends have come to me to tell me about the new HIV+ statuses, and I am done.
I say 1/2 because it was a different friend who passed on that a particular friend was poz and when I gave that friend an opportunity to tell me, he avoided as much as possible.
There's also about an inch of snow on the ground...sarcastic yay.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Image and article via The New Yorker
In a myth told by the Igbo people of Nigeria, men once decided to send a messenger to ask Chuku, the supreme god, if the dead could be permitted to come back to life. As their messenger, they chose a dog. But the dog delayed, and a toad, which had been eavesdropping, reached Chuku first. Wanting to punish man, the toad reversed the request, and told Chuku that after death men did not want to return to the world. The god said that he would do as they wished, and when the dog arrived with the true message he refused to change his mind. Thus, men may be born again, but only in a different form.
The Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe recounts this myth, which exists in hundreds of versions throughout Africa, in one of his essays. Sometimes, Achebe writes, the messenger is a chameleon, a lizard, or another animal; sometimes the message is altered accidentally rather than maliciously. But the structure remains the same: men ask for immortality and the god is willing to grant it, but something goes wrong and the gift is lost forever. “It is as though the ancestors who made language and knew from what bestiality its use rescued them are saying to us: Beware of interfering with its purpose!” Achebe writes. “For when language is seriously interfered with, when it is disjoined from truth...horrors can descend again on mankind.”
The myth holds another lesson as well—one that has been fundamental to the career of Achebe, who has been called “the patriarch of the African novel.” There is danger in relying on someone else to speak for you: you can trust that your message will be communicated accurately only if you speak with your own voice. With his masterpiece, “Things Fall Apart,” one of the first works of fiction to present African village life from an African perspective, Achebe began the literary reclamation of his country’s history from generations of colonial writers. Published fifty years ago, it has been translated into fifty languages and has sold more than ten million copies.
In the course of a writing life that has included five novels, collections of short stories and poetry, and numerous essays and lectures, Achebe has consistently argued for the right of Africans to tell their own story in their own way, and has attacked the representations of European writers. But he also did not reject European influence entirely, choosing to write not in his native Igbo but in English, a language that, as he once said, “history has forced down our throat.” In a country with several major languages and more than five hundred smaller ones, establishing a lingua franca was a practical and political necessity. For Achebe, it was also an artistic necessity—a way to give expression to the clash of civilizations that is his enduring theme.
Image and article via NPR
In 2011, Irish milliner Philip Treacy made waves across the world when he designed 36 different hats for the royal wedding. Remember Princess Beatrice's unforgettable hat? Treacy made that.
Treacy was born in County Galway, Ireland, in a rural village of about 500 people. He was one of eight children. His father was a baker, his mother a homemaker. Although it was certainly uncommon for young Irish boys at the time, he tells NPR's Jacki Lyden, he was interested in fashion from a very young age.
"I was just, as a child, very different from the others, and didn't really care what they thought because you know, a child doesn't really have inhibitions, you sort of gain your inhibitions later," says Treacy, who used feathers from his mother's chickens in his earliest designs. "But I was interested in everything that everybody was not interested in."
He and his hats are the subject of a new book by photographer Kevin Davies, Philip Treacy by Kevin Davies.
Click over for Interview Highlights and some very posh pics of Grace Jones.
Achebe is (was?) one of my favorite authors. I've read Things Fall Apart several times and have gone out of my way to read many of his other works not available here in Kentucky.
Image and article via NYT
Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian writer who was black Africa’s most widely read novelist and one of the continent’s towering men of letters, has died after a brief illness, his publisher and agent said in London on Friday. He was 82.
Few details were immediately available.
Besides novels, Mr. Achebe’s works included powerful essays and poignant short stories and poems rooted in the countryside and cities of his native Nigeria, before and after independence from British colonial rule. His most memorable fictional characters were buffeted and bewildered by the conflicting pulls of traditional African culture and invasive Western values.
For inspiration, Mr. Achebe drew on his own family history as part of the Ibo nation of southeastern Nigeria, a people victimized by the racism of British colonial administrators and then by the brutality of military dictators from other Nigerian ethnic groups.
Mr. Achebe burst onto the world literary scene with the publication in 1958 of his first novel, “Things Fall Apart,” which sold millions of copies and was translated into 45 different languages.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Conner Habib via BuzzFeed: Why Are We Afraid to Talk About Gay Porn?
Where I grew up, just outside of Allentown, PA, I watched, right through my adolescence into adulthood and early college years, while straight people paired off and experienced sex. They were able to engage with a basic aspect of human life that seemed unavailable and distant to me. Unlike today, there was no discussion about gay marriage, nor were there many gay characters on TV. But even if there had been, neither would have rounded out my experience as a man with homosexual feelings because so many of those feelings were — unsurprisingly for a young man — sexual. Gay sex was a lonely venture. It wasn't easy to find, and was only mentioned in slurs and the butt of jokes. "Cocksucker" and "butt fucker" were insults; stand-ins for "faggot."
Whether I bought it from the adult video store or, later, downloaded it, gay porn helped me encounter positive images of gay men enjoying the act of sex. Gay porn was a window into gay sexuality that was free of shame and guilt, and revealed a different world where sex wasn't a lonely prospect, confined to the shadows or just my imagination.
This same concern is amplified in places where homosexuality is criminalized or even punishable by death.
As a porn performer of Arab descent, I've received hundreds of emails from men in Middle Eastern countries expressing gratitude and relief for my having portrayed gay sex in a positive light on camera. When a gay man lives somewhere where his identity is threatened, it's clear how sex - including pornography - and sexuality are intertwined. His sexual imagination, which is criminalized, matches the sexual images of gay pornography (which are also criminalized). Since acting out his imagination through sex would be to risk his life, the access to the images is safer. The images, created by gay men wherever it's legal to create them, provide empowerment and diminish alienation.
As a young gay man, porn stars became heroes of mine, joining authors, punk rock musicians, and leftist political thinkers, because they lived as I wanted to. Without them, I would have only had a partial picture of my life - a thinking and creative one, perhaps - but one that ignored my sexual thoughts and imagination which were constantly activated and in motion.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Image via fine art america
“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”
— Hal Borland
Kentucky's been known for the crack-addict nature of Mother Nature come the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring, but with 70 degrees one day and snow the next, she's going balls out this year.
Today we're in the 40s.
Via Huffington Post
The Westboro Baptist Church is about to get a big surprise in the form of a new neighbor who plans to give the notoriously anti-gay group a taste of its own medicine.
Aaron Jackson, one of the founders of Planting Peace, a multi-pronged charity that has in the past concentrated on rainforest conservation, opening orphanages and deworming programs, bought a house that sits directly across from the church's compound six months ago. On Tuesday, March 19, he and a team of volunteers are painting it to match the gay pride flag.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Tim Hetherington (1970-2011) was one of the world’s most distinguished and dedicated photojournalists, whose career was tragically cut short when he died in a mortar blast while covering the Libyan Civil War. Tim won many awards for his war reporting, and was nominated for an Academy Award for the critically acclaimed documentary, Restrepo. Hetherington’s dedication to his career led him time after time into war zones, and unlike some other journalists, he did not pack up after the story had broken.
In Here I Am, journalist and freelance writer Alan Huffman tells Hetherington’s life story, and through it analyzes what it means to be a war reporter in the twenty-first century. Huffman recounts Hetherington’s life from his first interests in photography, through his critical role in reporting the Liberian Civil War, to his tragic death in Libya. Huffman also traces Hetherington’s photographic milestones, from his iconic and prize-winning photographs of Liberian children, to the celebrated portraits of sleeping U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Here I Am explores the risks, challenges, and thrills of war reporting, and is a testament to the unique work of people like Hetherington, who risk their lives to give a voice to people ravaged by war.
For the last twenty years, John Corvino — widely known as the author of the weekly column "The Gay Moralist" — has traversed the country responding to moral and religious arguments against same-sex relationships. In this timely book, he shares that experience — addressing the standard objections to homosexuality and offering insight into the culture wars more generally.
Is homosexuality unnatural? Does the Bible condemn it? Are people born gay (and should it matter either way)? Corvino approaches such questions with precision, sensitivity, and good humor. In the process, he makes a fresh case for moral engagement, forcefully rejecting the idea that morality is a "private matter." This book appears at a time when same-sex marriage is being hotly debated across the U.S. Many people object to such marriage on the grounds that same-sex relationships are immoral, or at least, that they do not deserve the same social recognition as heterosexual relationships. Unfortunately, the traditional rhetoric of gay-rights advocates — which emphasizes privacy and tolerance — fails to meet this objection. Legally speaking, when it comes to marriage, "tolerance" might be enough, Corvino concedes, but socially speaking, marriage requires more. Marriage is more than just a relationship between two individuals, recognized by the state. It is also a relationship between those individuals and a larger community. The fight for same-sex marriage, ultimately, is a fight for full inclusion in the moral fabric. What is needed is a positive case for moral approval — which is what Corvino unabashedly offers here.
Corvino blends a philosopher's precision with a light touch that is full of humanity and wit. This volume captures the voice of one of the most rational participants in a national debate noted for generating more heat than light.
The first book to celebrate the irreverent and original style of Katharine Hepburn — icon of stage and screen. Glamorous when she wanted to be and tomboyish when she didn’t, Katharine Hepburn developed her personal style and public image as a style rebel. Whether on stage, on screen, or in private life, Hepburn had a firm grasp on the power of her appearance. Rather than submit to studio image makers, she controlled her image and drew on her own proclivities to create a distinct antifashion persona. This book presents the famously headstrong star in a new light: as a style icon. Through images of Hepburn’s on-screen and off-screen wardrobes and essays by top fashion historians, this book reveals how modern Hepburn’s insouciance and idiosyncratic manner of dressing really was and shows her as an inspirational, self-styled counterpoint to the over-managed looks of celebrities today. Full of never-before-published images of Hepburn’s costumes and personal wardrobe, Katharine Hepburn is a refreshing look at a true fashion original.
If you really want to know a people, start by looking inside their bedrooms.
As political change sweeps the streets and squares, the parliaments and presidential palaces of the Arab world, Shereen El Feki has been looking at an upheaval a little closer to home — in the sexual lives of men and women in Egypt and across the region. The result is an informative, insightful, and engaging account of a highly sensitive and still largely secret aspect of Arab society.
Sex is entwined in religion, tradition, politics, economics, and culture, so it is the perfect lens through which to examine the complex social landscape of the Arab world. From pregnant virgins to desperate housewives, from fearless activists to religious firebrands, from sex work to same-sex relations, Sex and the Citadel takes a fresh look at the sexual history of the region and brings new voices to the debate over its future.
This is no peep show or academic treatise but a highly personal and often humorous account of one woman’s journey to better understand Arab society at its most intimate and, in the process, to better understand her own origins. Rich with five years of groundbreaking research, Sex and the Citadel gives us a unique and timely understanding of everyday lives in a part of the world that is changing before our eyes.
Mary Beth Keane, named one of the 5 Under 35 by the National Book Foundation, has written a spectacularly bold and intriguing novel about the woman known as “Typhoid Mary,” the first person in America identified as a healthy carrier of Typhoid Fever.
On the eve of the twentieth century, Mary Mallon emigrated from Ireland at age fifteen to make her way in New York City. Brave, headstrong, and dreaming of being a cook, she fought to climb up from the lowest rung of the domestic-service ladder. Canny and enterprising, she worked her way to the kitchen, and discovered in herself the true talent of a chef. Sought after by New York aristocracy, and with an independence rare for a woman of the time, she seemed to have achieved the life she’d aimed for when she arrived in Castle Garden. Then one determined “medical engineer” noticed that she left a trail of disease wherever she cooked, and identified her as an “asymptomatic carrier” of Typhoid Fever. With this seemingly preposterous theory, he made Mallon a hunted woman.
The Department of Health sent Mallon to North Brother Island, where she was kept in isolation from 1907 to 1910, then released under the condition that she never work as a cook again. Yet for Mary — proud of her former status and passionate about cooking — the alternatives were abhorrent. She defied the edict.
Bringing early-twentieth-century New York alive — the neighborhoods, the bars, the park carved out of upper Manhattan, the boat traffic, the mansions and sweatshops and emerging skyscrapers — Fever is an ambitious retelling of a forgotten life. In the imagination of Mary Beth Keane, Mary Mallon becomes a fiercely compelling, dramatic, vexing, sympathetic, uncompromising, and unforgettable heroine.
The Silence and the Roar takes place in an unnamed Middle Eastern country resembling Syria. The story follows a day in the life of Fathi Chin, an author banned from publishing because he refuses to write propaganda for the ruling government.
On this day, the entire country has mobilized to celebrate the twenty year anniversary of the reigning despot. The heat is oppressive and loudspeakers blare as an endless, unbearably loud parade takes over the streets. Desperate to get away from the noise and the zombie-like masses, Fathi leaves his house to visit his mother, but en route stops to help a student who is being beaten by the police. Fathi's ID papers are confiscated and he is forced to return home and told to report to the police station before night falls.
When Fathi turns himself in, he is led from one department to another in an ever-widening bureaucratic labyrinth. His only weapon against the irrationality of the government employees is his sense of irony. The Silence and the Roar is a funny, sexy, scathing novel about the struggle of an individual over tyranny. Tinged with a Kafkaesque sense of the absurd, it explores what it means to be truly free in mind and body, despite the worst efforts of the state to impose its will on its citizens.
A literary event — the long-awaited novel, almost two decades in work, by the acclaimed author of The Tunnel (“The most beautiful, most complex, most disturbing novel to be published in my lifetime.” — Michael Silverblatt, Los Angeles Times; “An extraordinary achievement” — Michael Dirda, The Washington Post); Omensetter’s Luck (“The most important work of fiction by an American in this literary generation” — Richard Gilman, The New Republic); Willie Masters’ Lonesome Wife; and In the Heart of the Heart of the Country (“These stories scrape the nerve and pierce the heart. They also replenish the language.” — Eliot Fremont-Smith, The New York Times).
Gass’s new novel moves from World War II Europe to a small town in postwar Ohio. In a series of variations, Gass gives us a mosaic of a life — futile, comic, anarchic — arranged in an array of vocabularies, altered rhythms, forms and tones, and broken pieces with music as both theme and structure, set in the key of middle C.
It begins in Graz, Austria, 1938. Joseph Skizzen's father, pretending to be Jewish, leaves his country for England with his wife and two children to avoid any connection with the Nazis, who he foresees will soon take over his homeland. In London with his family for the duration of the war, he disappears under mysterious circumstances. The family is relocated to a small town in Ohio, where Joseph Skizzen grows up, becomes a decent amateur piano player, in part to cope with the abandonment of his father, and creates as well a fantasy self — a professor with a fantasy goal: to establish the Inhumanity Museum...as Skizzen alternately feels wrongly accused (of what?) and is transported by his music. Skizzen is able to accept guilt for crimes against humanity and is protected by a secret self that remains sinless.
Middle C tells the story of this journey, an investigation into the nature of human identity and the ways in which each of us is several selves, and whether any one self is more genuine than another.
William Gass set out to write a novel that breaks traditional rules and denies itself easy solutions, cliff-edge suspense, and conventional surprises...Middle C is that book; a masterpiece by a beloved master.
"Sarduy is the master of wordscapes that dip, shake, and explode." — The New York Times Book Review
For the first time in English, Severo Sarduy's most autobiographical work, centered on two transvestites who undergo oppositional sexual surgeries (one is castrated, the other is given a new member). This convention-defying, scatological, and very funny novel is a paradise of words, "paradisic by plenitude" (Roland Barthes).
Severo Sarduy (1937-1993) was a Cuban poet, author, playwright, and literary critic, as well as a leading intellectual in the Cuban Revolution. His novel Cobra was awarded the Prix Médicis.
For the first time in English, Vladimir Nabokov’s earliest major work, written when he was only twenty-four: his only full-length play, introduced by Thomas Karshan and beautifully translated by Karshan and Anastasia Tolstoy.
The Tragedy of Mister Morn was written in the winter of 1923–1924, when Nabokov was completely unknown. The five-act play — the story of an incognito king whose love for the wife of a banished revolutionary brings on the chaos the king has fought to prevent — was never published in Nabokov’s lifetime and lay in manuscript until it appeared in a Russian literary journal in 1997. It is an astonishingly precocious work, in exquisite verse, touching for the first time on what would become this great writer’s major themes: intense sexual desire and jealousy, the elusiveness of happiness, the power of the imagination, and the eternal battle between truth and fantasy. The play is Nabokov’s major response to the Russian Revolution, which he had lived through, but it approaches the events of 1917 above all through the prism of Shakespearean tragedy.
Combining the stories of the real hero and his Disney-enhanced afterlife, Born on a Mountaintop delves deep into our love for an American icon.
Pioneer. Congressman. Martyr of the Alamo. King of the Wild Frontier. As with all great legends, Davy Crockett's has been retold many times. Over the years, he has been repeatedly reinvented by historians and popular storytellers. In fact, one could argue that there are three distinct Crocketts: the real David as he was before he became famous; the celebrity politician whose backwoods image Crockett himself created, then lost control of; and the mythic Davy we know today.
In the road-trip tradition of Sarah Vowell and Tony Horwitz, Bob Thompson follows Crockett's footsteps from the Tennessee river valley where he was born, to Washington, where he served three terms in Congress, and on to Texas and the gates of the Alamo, seeking out those who know, love and are still willing to fight over Davy's life and legacy.
Born on a Mountaintop will be more than just a bold new biography of one of the great American heroes. Thompson's rich mix of scholarship, reportage, humor, and exploration of modern Crockett landscapes will bring Davy Crockett's impact on the American imagination vividly to life.
Revisiting L. Frank Baum’s Oz with all-new stories, this anthology showcases up-and-coming talents as well as acclaimed writers such as Jane Yolen and Tad Williams. Gems include “Beyond the Naked Eye” by Rachel Swirsky, about revolution in the heart of the Emerald City; Seanan McGuire’s “Emeralds to Emeralds, Dust to Dust,” in which adult Dorothy is the new Witch of the West, trying to help Oz’s less fortunate; Ken Liu’s “The Veiled Shanghai,” contrasting pre-Communist Shanghai with an Oz-like mirror city; and Jonathan Maberry’s touching “The Cobbler of Oz,” starring a brave young flying monkey. Others are less successful, notably Simon Green’s “Dorothy Dreams,” about Dorothy ailing in a nursing home, and Jeffrey Ford’s “A Meeting in Oz,” in which Dorothy becomes a murderer. Less comforting than Baum’s original stories, this anthology will appeal to Oz lovers looking for new perspectives.