TrusTed? Google ‘trus’

Posted on 05 Feb 2016 at 10:48am

Screen shot 2016-02-05 at 10.17.34 AMSo Ted Cruz wants everybody to trust him. He is building his presidential campaign around that idea — the idea he is totally trustworthy, the idea that we can all “Trust Ted.” His oh-so-clever advertising folks even came up with an oh-so-clever campaign slogan: TrusTed, with the first four letters in white, and the last three in red

But maybe his advertising folks and whomever in his campaign staff approved that slogan/logo should do a little research before launching such slogans/logos. Why? Just Google “trus”:

transrectal ultrasound

Abbreviation: TRUS

Imaging of the prostate gland and periprostatic tissues with an ultrasound transducer inserted into the anus and directed toward the anterior rectum. It is used to identify malignant tumors, guide biopsies, and provide assessments of tumor staging.

Synonym: endorectal ultrasound (2)

Ummm, yeah. One more reason not to vote for Ted Cruz. And here’s a campaign video that will help reinforce reasons not to vote for him.


National LGBTQ Task Force launches free tax preparation guide

Posted on 05 Feb 2016 at 9:57am

gay-dollar1It’s tax season. Do you know where your receipts and pay stubs and 1099s are? Do you even know what you can and cannot deduct?

Well good news: the National LGBTQ Task Force has launched a handy new income tax preparation guide for the LGBT community. Despite all the help you may receive from a trusted advisor or handy program like Turbo Tax, it wouldn’t hurt to take advantage of this free guide.

The new publication is part of their “Queer Our Taxes” effort, a public education and advocacy campaign focused on securing economic justice for LGBT people.

“LGBTQ people are disproportionally more likely to live at or below the poverty line – they are also often the most in need of income tax information and least able to access it. The straight forward information in this guide will empower LGBTQ people to get credits and deductions that lift millions of people out of poverty,” said Meghan Maury, criminal and economic justice director at the Task Force.

Even as Obergefell streamlined the process for joint filings, adoption forms and other barriers to access (and tax deductions,) Maury said all members of the LGBT community will benefit.

“Most LGBTQ people don’t know that you can deduct out of pocket costs for transition-related care including surgery. Many of us also don’t know that you may be able to claim a large credit for adoption related expenses,” Maury said.

The last day to file taxes is April 18.


Black history, black excellence

Posted on 05 Feb 2016 at 7:50am

Make change happen instead of being a line-item on someone else’s agenda



Jalenzki BrownSo. It is Black History Month, right? Do you care? Should I care? There is constant debate among white people — and even black people — about the need for a Black History Month. As someone who studies the lives of black people and works to unite the race, to me every day is a matter of Black History — living in it and reflecting on it.

But before I continue, let me give this disclaimer: I’m not a big fan of labels — i.e. black, white, gay, straight, top, bottom, masculine, feminine, etc. And before y’all go jumping down my throat uninvited — as y’all did to Raven-Symone when she denounced being African-American — please understand that my dislike for labels has nothing to do with being ashamed of being black or white or gay or straight or top or bottom or masculine or feminine or … . You get the idea.

The truth is, no one label can sum up the totality of a person’s human experience. But labels can provide a point of reference and insight into someone’s reality.

People often find themselves at the intersection of many labels, which can be conflicting. I believe labels give rise to the division which fuels conquest. In other words, one group is always going to think that their agenda and way of life is better or of greater importance than the next.

Additionally, labels are social constructs. “Black” and “white” were created by America as a result of the Atlantic slave trade and slavery. Europeans brought Africans — from all over the continent, by the way — to the Americas, and thus the Africans became the black race and the Europeans became the white race.

Let us remember that black and white people alike were often left in the dark about the great achievements and excellence of black people. Black history hasn’t always been taught and included in American history classes in our educational system.

It wasn’t until the efforts of Carter G. Woodson, in the early 1900s, and the birth of Negro History Week that the larger society in America began discussing black history.

Even today, black history is often taught as an elective or a month’s worth of curriculum, while white history is generally considered “American history.”

Growing up, I don’t recall Black History Month being a big deal at home, because my family frequently discussed our history. And I was always right there, soaking in all the wisdom of my elders.

I do, however, remember Black History Month and the limited lessons of black excellence we received in school. It started with slavery and ended with Martin Luther King Jr.

As someone who is at the intersection of black and gay, I would’ve liked to have heard about what those like me contributed to society. Seeing yourself and others like you reflected positively has a positive impact on self worth, and how others place value on your life.

Black Gay History is Black History, too, right?

I was so happy to see Jada Pinkett-Smith release a video on Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, looking like an African goddess radiating in the sun, boycotting the Oscars for the lack of diversity among the nominees and standing firm on what she believes.

And I really loved and enjoyed Snoop Dogg’s response to the matter at hand. He gave me all the life I needed.

But if you think Jada’s video was merely about the Oscars, I think you’re missing the whole point.

In her video, she asks the following questions:

“Is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence that we have amassed that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere? … Have we now come to a new time and place where we recognize that we can no longer beg for love, acknowledgment or respect [from] any group?”

She goes on to say that true power lies in our ability to love, respect and acknowledge ourselves the way in which we ask others to do so. I’ve always told people that I love me enough for all of us. When you cultivate self-love, there is less of a need to receive love from others.

“It is our responsibility now to make the change. Maybe it is time we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, into our programs, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways we see fit,” Jada added.

(In case you missed Jada Pinkett-Smith’s and Snoop Dogg’s videos, find the nearest portal to YouTube and check them out.)

I think Jada’s wisdom can be applied to many areas of life and positively impact how we work, live and play. We need more people with big platforms to bring awareness to issues of inclusion and diversity.

My good buddy Ray Jordan, who is working on a doctorate in public policy and social change, with an emphasis in Martin Luther King Jr. studies, recently led an awesome discussion on the legacy of MLK Jr. and the Civil Rights movement, hosted by United Black Ellument’s B.L.A.C.K. Chat series (B.L.A.C.K. is an acronym for Building Leaders and Cultivating Knowledge).

Ray believes that the black experience has created arguably some of the strongest people on the planet, merely by the mechanism of survival of the fittest. This statement definitely holds true when you consider all that black people have had to endure and continuously deal with: slavery, Jim Crow, the new Jim

Crow, police brutality, emotional distress — and the list goes on.

There aren’t any weak Americans of African descent left!

With that being said, I’m definitely proud to claim the black experience (too bad I can’t say the same for Raven). And I’m so grateful that we now live in an age of information and connectivity, because seeking new truths is not as hard as it once was.

Let’s all reflect on how far we’ve come as humans — individually and collectively — and build on the strengths of our ancestors. Don’t be afraid to push past mediocrity by striving for better.

If there is a need for something in society, gather the resources needed and create it, even if doing so means no longer being a line item on someone else’s agenda.

It is my hope that one day we can live in a society where labels matter less and living is about the human experience and growth of all people. The world is much bigger than any one person or racial groups.

Regardless of how you group or regroup people, construct or deconstruct society, we’re all interconnected.

Jalenzski Brown seeks to find peace, love and happiness in every moment of his human experience and help those around him do the same.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 5, 2016.


eXXXotica plans to return to the Kay Bailey Hutchison

Posted on 04 Feb 2016 at 5:00pm

These were last year’s dates, but the exxxpo is planning to return this year

EXXXotica, the porn expo held last year at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, wants to return to Dallas.

Mayor Mike Rawlings isn’t thrilled. His concern is the exploitation of women. The Dallas City Council was just off on a two-day retreat and apparently they went into executive session to discuss eXXXotica.

I’ll bet.

While the mayor isn’t thrilled about welcoming eXXXotica back, the Dallas Convention Center, unlike the former senator it’s named after, can’t discriminate. So it looks like eXXXotica is coming back to Dallas.

If they’d like to keep the Kay Bailey Hutchison a holy place, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence may be able to help.

“I wonder if they need some Sister volunteers,” Sister Lawna Jocqui asked.

Yes, Lawna, with you there, it would certainly be respectable.

EXXXotica is trying to schedule its event when it would be “least disruptive” to the Kay Bailey Hutchison’s business. In other words, when the facility would otherwise be empty and the city taking in no revenue.

Why Dallas and not Houston?

According to Men’s Health, the gay men’s health magazine for straight men, Dallas is the second most sex-happy city in the country after Austin. The magazine rated cities based on condom sales, birth rates, sex toy sales and STD rates.

Of course, when it comes to communicable diseases, we’re No. 1, but how can high condom sales and high birth rates jive? I guess straight guys here are buying lots of condoms and using them wrong or forgetting to put them on in the first place, resulting in lots of unplanned parenthood.

Houston only ranked No. 10.


Best Bets • 02.05.16

Posted on 04 Feb 2016 at 4:10pm

Friday 02.05


Texas Theatre, Cine Wilde team for screening and party of ‘The Hunger,’ honoring David Bowie

The death of the pioneering artist David Bowie continues to resonate, and Cine Wilde — the monthly gay film fest — has paired up again with Texas Theatre to screen one of his most outrageous and stylish films, Tony Scott’s 1983 film The Hunger. Bowie and Catherine Deneuve play modern-day vampires in a cat-and-mouse pursuit of Susan Sarandon. The screening with be followed by a after-party featuring punkish DJ music. Come ready to dance.

The Texas Theatre
231 W. Jefferson Blvd.
9:20 p.m. screening;
11 p.m. after-party

Friday 02.05 — Sunday 02.28


Dallas Theater Center revisits the Bard with ‘Romeo & Juliet’

For the first four full seasons with Artistic Directed Kevin Moriarty, the Dallas Theater Center performed one of Shakespeare’s plays — a comedy, a history, a tragedy and a so-called romance — each season. The tradition dropped off, though, after King Lear. Well, it’s back, with another of the major tragedies, Romeo & Juliet. Unlike the last four, Moriarty isn’t directing this one (that role falls to the talented Joel Ferrell) and it moves from Downtown’s Wyly Theatre back to the DTC’s Uptown haunts at the Kalita Humphreys.

Kalita Humphreys Theater
3636 Turtle Creek Blvd.

Saturday 02.13


BalletBoyz dance troupe makes its Dallas debut with graceful muscularity

With its innovative combination of weightless elegance and brute muscularity, the U.K.’s BalletBoyz is one of the most intensely exciting dance troupes in the world today. The company makes its Dallas debut on Feb. 13 with a sensual performance at the Winspear. This may be the most anticipated local premiere of TITAS’ all-dance season.

Winspear Opera House
2403 Flora St.
8 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 5, 2016.


Ed-U-Care presents compassion fatigue symposium

Posted on 04 Feb 2016 at 2:35pm

Ed-U-Care CEO Sharyn Fein

Ed-U-Care, an organization that provides programs and volunteer opportunities for groups and families that have traditionally been marginalized or neglected including older LGBT adults, presents “Compassion Fatigue Awareness, Education Cultural Humility Training for Caregivers.”

According to Ed-U-Care CEO Sharyn Fein, the program is designed to educate and teach seal-healing methods for those who provide care. The day is designed for professionals who can receive CEU credits for the day as well as individuals who are caring for an elderly parent or a partner with an ongoing condition.

Burnout can be so severe, Fein said, the caregiver dies before the person being cared for in some cases.

Fein said the sessions will be fun with presenters who including a music therapist, Nia practitioner and trainer, QiGong Master and more.

“Find what makes us happy,” she said. “Live without guilt.”

AIDS Arms and Lambda Legal are among the sponsors. The Dallas area Alzheimer’s Association, Parkinson’s Society and Senior Source are some of the others presenting the symposium.

The event takes place from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on April 1 at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, 9200 Inwood Road. Early bird registration is $30 until March 1. After that it’s $35. The price includes two catered meals.

Get tickets here.


National Black HIV Awareness Day

Posted on 04 Feb 2016 at 2:25pm

Phillip Turner

Sunday is National Black HIV Awareness Day. Look for our stories in this week’s paper, but here’s the testing information for the weekend:

• Abounding Prosperity will hold a testing and fish fry event from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6 at Abounding Prosperity, 2311 MLK Blvd.

• Turner and other AHF staff will be testing for HIV and other STDs from 3-6 p.m. at Out of the Closet, 3920 Cedar Springs Road. AIDS Walk South Dallas director Antoine Wiley will speak. Chips, dip and margaritas will be served.


Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum ends presidential campaign

Posted on 04 Feb 2016 at 1:37pm

Rick_Santorum_Dallas_2012_Rally_by_Parick_HoffmanFormer Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign yesterday, Wednesday, Feb. 3, throwing his support behind Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

“[My family and I] decided that I think we could be better advocates for that in supporting someone who shared those values and is in a better position to do well in this race,” Santorum told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren.

Before endorsing Rubio, Santorum said he “wanted to find a candidate that really espoused the values that we believed in, someone who really focused their campaign on trying to help … those who are struggling on the margins.” Those priorities include helping lower-to-middle class Americans, supporting traditional family structures (i.e., not same-sex couples) and defeating the Islamic State, or ISIS.

Santorum decided Rubio was his choice after an hour-long discussion.

Rubio remained quiet before the announcement, telling CNN he thought Santorum is “fantastic.”

Santorum won the Iowa caucuses in 2012 by in part campaigning on social issues, including abortion and a variety of LGBT issues. He was a vocal opponent opponent of same-sex marriage. But his campaign did not catch the same traction as last cycle, which had fewer Republican candidates.

He’s the third candidate to drop out since Monday’s Iowa caucuses, joining Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Though he may be officially out of the race I still encourage you to Google “Santorum” if you never have.


And then there were 4: Spot-checking the NYT’s historic Per Se review

Posted on 04 Feb 2016 at 7:26am

Dish 1Editor’s note: I was having lunch last month with Howard Lewis Russell — our snarky advice columnist of Ask Howard. He mentioned over beef Wellington and a chicken appetizer that, two weeks’ hence, he would be headed to New York City and had reservations at Per Se, Thomas Keller’s acclaimed prix-fixe dining institution. He’d been before, but it was a rare treat.

Then, less than a week later, the New York Times’ dining critic Pete Wells issued a stunning review that set the food world on edge. Not only did he knock down Per Se’s star rating, he went from four all the way to two. The review even landed Wells an interview on Fresh Air, so monumental was its impact. I asked Russell — a savvy eater with whom I frequently dine when on my reviewing excursions for Dallas Voice — to write up his experience dining there just days after the review heard ’round the world. Here’s what he found. 

Daniel, Del Posto, Eleven Madison Park, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, Per Se: These are the ambrosial half-dozen New York City restaurants to regularly garner four-stars from The New York Times, the most storied and reliable restaurant criticism in journalism. (FYI, there exists no such thing as an actual five-star restaurant — it’s merely a Hollywood tinsel-and-pasteboard creation. Four stars is the pinnacle.)

New York City boasts northwards of 25,000 restaurants — more than even Rome, London and Sydney combined (only Paris can lay claim to more eateries than does the isle of Manhattan). And every Wednesday, this comparatively small island’s premier restaurant critic (currently Pete Wells holds the title) chooses but a single restaurant within its boroughs’ boundaries upon which to cast a review of deserved deliciousness (or not). Theoretically, four stars can be bestowed, yet the unspoken caveat is this: Never in the newspaper’s history has it ever permitted more than six NYC restaurants, maximum, to simultaneously earn its zenith of culinary achievement at any given time. Which means if you want to honor a new one, something has to drop off.

Dish 3Lately, the mighty have begun to slip from their mountaintop perch; shockingly, master chef Daniel Boulud’s Upper East Side eponymous flagship restaurant, Daniel, was first to fall two years back (demoted from four stars down to three), then more recently another thunderbolt struck down from the culinary heavens: Per Se was electrocuted down two full stars! To put this in proper perspective, no four-star restaurant in the entire history of NYT has ever plummeted two entire stars overnight. Until now.

To quote Wells’ reasoning: “With each fresh review, a restaurant has to earn its stars again. In its current form and its current price, Per Se struggled and failed to do this, ranging from respectably dull at best to disappointingly flat-footed at worst. In 2004, the year Per Se opened, the price for nine courses was $150 before tax and tip; in January 2016, it went up to $325, with service included.”

This contributor simply had to check it out. I’d once lived in NYC, after all, and now make a point to visit Manhattan’s four-star fine food emporiums on a rotational basis during my bi-annual return visits — I’d eaten at Per Se three times previously; this would be my fourth stop. (What can I say? I married well.)

view 1

The view from Per Se

Here’s exactly what I can say: Every single one of Per Se’s nine courses, for a fixed price of $325 per person (prior to the bill’s ultimate, grand tally, once cocktails and wine were also added in, plus tax and tip) was truly . . . F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S.

This is not to say Wells was wrong; rather, it suggests Keller hopped the first red eye from Napa’s French Laundry to oversee every detail of the operation and re-earn those twinkly stars. And you felt it.

From Keller’s Per Se trademark-opener experience of Oyster and pearls: Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar” to the herb-roasted turbot; from the charcoal-grilled Stonington Maine sea scallop to the Thomas Farms pigeon “en crepinette” to the hand-cut tagliatelle pasta with shaved black winter truffles; from the saddle of Elysian Fields Farm lamb to the Twig Farms’ “Crawford” honey-crisp apple marmalade, granola, mache, candied English walnuts and aged balsamic vinegar and the seemingly never-ending  ”assortment of desserts” lavished on us in profusion, the meal served to my table (compliments of Per Se’s chef de cuisine, Eli Kaimeh) was a rock-solid, four-star dining triumph all the way.

What’s significant is: Nothing about the meal was noticeably different from any of my three prior experiences there. There was no sense of panic or desperation; no fawning, over-the-top obsequiousness grasping to retain its well-heeled clientele, the Fourth Estate be damned; no pallor of sadness and suspicion amongst the diners. No, the experience was, as it has always been, exquisite — precisely what the four-star appellation was intended for.

Who am I to fancy myself remotely a legitimate restaurant critic? But I am well-traveled and well-fed. Nonetheless, I do lament that the four-star NYC restaurants remaining today (from a pool of 25,000!) have been “officially” whittled down now to an all-time-low of four survivors: Del Posto, Eleven Madison Park, Jean Georges and Le Bernardin. All of which deserve it.

To quote that former loftiest of legends herself, Sophia Loren: “It’s far easier clawing rock over rock, up to the top, than it is staying there when they start hurling the rocks back at you.”

— Howard Lewis Russell


Review: ‘Bridges of Madison County’

Posted on 03 Feb 2016 at 8:59pm


If you weren’t around when Robert James Waller’s novel The Bridges of Madison County dropped in 1992, you probably can’t fully appreciate its cultural impact. It was, in retrospect, the Midwestern equivalent of 50 Shades of Grey: Poorly written treacle masquerading as grand romance. It was almost a parody of itself from the start, with a love interested who was masculine and mysterious, but also a feminist and vegetarian. (The message was: Adultery is wrong, unless it’s with the right guy.) Waller even included a foreword to the book insisting the story was true (it was not) and asserting that anyone not moved by his prose was a soulless ghoul.

I hated it, of course … at least until Clint Eastwood’s 1995 film adaptation. It took Hollywood’s least sentimental director to turn a work of literary diabetes into a palatable meal. Waller’s follow-up book was a comparative flop (critics never liked him, and audiences caught on)and the property drifted off, like Brigadoon, into the mists of poor decision-making, like mullets and Alicia Silverstone movies after Clueless.

At least until composer Robert Jason Brown got ahold of it, and crafted a musical version (with book by Marsha Norman) in 2014. Despite a Tony Award for best score (it bested If/Then, which just closed in Dallas), Bridges lasted just 100 performances, so a tour was not a certainty. But there it is, planted into Fair Park Music Hall for a two-week run. At capacity, almost more people could see it here than in New York — its Broadway home was fewer than 1,100 seats, not even a third of the Music Hall’s cavernous auditorium.

Which may be the principal failing of this production. Form the opening song (more like an aria), Elizabeth Stanley as Francesca — the Italian war bride living a life of quiet desperation in 1965 Iowa —cannot be heard or understood. It’s as if the actress wasn’t prepared for the vastness of the space she would be expected to fill in what’s essentially a chamber musical (albeit one that runs nearly three hours). Her Arianna-Huffington-speaking-Russian-with-socks-in-her-mouth accent garbles the lyrics; it’s not until Andrew Samonsky as the sexy NatGeo photographer Robert Kincaid belts out a few numbers that we really enjoy the aspiring beauty of Brown’s folksy-pop operetta.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 5, 2016.