FEEBACK: Thanks!

Thanks!

We want to extend a very special “thank you” to all the merchants who donated to the Round Up Saloon’s annual Easter Basket Auction this year. And thanks as well go to the generous buyers who showed up to bid on and purchase the baskets.

We especially thank our staff that worked so hard to get the baskets decorated, cataloged and presented for sale. Louis Ramos coordinated the entire event, and our auctioneer, R.D., has donated his time now for 15 years to doing our auctions.

And to all the Resource Center Dallas staff, TGRA members, The Dallas Tap Dazzlers, Michael Doughman and all our donors, buyers and entertainers: THANK YOU!

We are proud to announce that $14,400 was donated to The Nutrition Center and TGRA as a result of the Easter Basket Auction. The economy and the crowds are returning, and this charitable event is back on the way to recovery following a couple of pretty lean years.

Again, thank you to everyone.

Gary Miller,
Round-Up Saloon

—  John Wright

Yee, haw! Bull-riding for bucks (and bucks) is harder than it looks

Me before the fall (more pics after the jump)

Being atop of a mechanical bull in the middle of Cowboys Stadium is no place for a fat, middle-aged gay man to be on a Wednesday afternoon. But there I was yesterday, risking life and ego for eight seconds of possible glory.

The idea was a valid one: Raise money ($2,500 for first place; $1,000 for second) for my charity of choice. I chose two beneficiaries: Legal Hospice of Texas, for which I am committed to raising $500 by the middle of next month; and Mercy for Animals, because I thought it would be cool to give an animal rights group money for basically abusing a cow. (Since it was mechanical, it didn’t really count as animal exploitation, although Eddie Garza, MFA’s Texas coordinator, said he’d take the donation even if it were on a real bull — and he seemed unconcerned that my body would be the one taking the real beating.)

Cowboys Stadium is a charmless cavern when there are no events taking place other than something as small as this one, though admittedly, the lack of crowds was nice. On the huge screens play a continuous loop of Dallas Cowboys highlights, all of them winning plays — in other words, none from last season. Ten days earlier, the eyes of the world were focused on this billion-dollar temple to excess; today, the field looks like the parking lot of an abandoned strip mall. Gone is the Astroturf, revealing ugly concrete underneath where dirt is being shipped in. The rodeo will be there this weekend, and they need to dust it up.

That’s kinda what we’re all here for. Dickies is sponsoring, again, a media mechanical bull-riding challenge, where members of the press are invited to a bracketed elimination competition to see which pencil pusher can claim, briefly, some degree of athletic prowess. And they asked me to participate.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

SWEET TOOTH: Touring this time holds a lot less pressure for Sugar & Gold’s Philipp Minnig

SUGAR SHOCK | Minnig, left, and Dobbratz bring a different kind of sexy back to the men of Dallas.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

When Philipp Minnig finds downtime between shows on a tour, he mines YouTube. Sometimes the videos serve as a source of inspiration for his music, but mostly, he’s just enjoying his free time. His current obsession is in a video which title translates to “The Doctors.” This prepares him for the next day’s show.

“I’m taking a break today researching,” he laughs. “I do have a hard job: Watching videos. But yeah, when we have any kind of downtime, that’s pretty much it for me. “

The frontman for the duo Sugar and Gold has had a hectic 2011, coming off an already busy 2010. The band toured last year for the disc Get Wet, which garnered the dance-rockers some nice acclaim. They turned around to release the EP Bodyaches and are back on the road stopping at the Jack Daniel’s Saloon this Saturday. Only this time, the two-month tour is less of a job and more of a party.

“When we toured the record we had to do that whole promo push,” he says. “After you just finish a record, there is a lot to deal with. Personally I get sick of my face and the record that goes along with it. But this time, we’ve been having a ball so far.”

While Minnig and bandmate Nicolas Dobbratz emphasize fun in their music, there is work to be done. But with an EP that contains two new songs and remixes from Wet, S&G didn’t have that much pressure with promoting the disc. The tour schedule is short and they planned for the show to be free-flowing.

“This just hasn’t been as daunting,” Minnig says. “We’re having fun with the wardrobe and we’re just loose onstage. The music is still tight but the relaxed feeling allows giving better shows with lots of spontaneous energy. And we’re having more fun with the crowds.”

A lot of those crowds are primarily gay. S&G has come to be closely identified with LGBT audiences due to their electronic dance grooves and a nebulous masculine tone. S&G are in that some dance rock vein as other gay faves Scissor Sisters and Of Montreal. In fact, the band is closely associated with OM in that musically incestuous way. If members of S&G aren’t touring with OM, then members from both are working on their side project Yip Deceiver, which is incidentally the opener for this show.

Minnig, who is straight, can see why LGBT audiences have embraced his band — especially the boys.

“Oh it’s wonderful. We’re big on male sensuality,” he says.

“Our music is about softening the male image and reintroducing sexiness to males. Male doesn’t have to be tough and uptight. It feels freeing when males in the audience are responsive to what your doing.”

Musically, Minnig comes from that indie queer background. He calls that scene his own and he found his music very active in underground gay communities. And that affects how he writes his tunes.

“To some degree, I toy with side projects and play with other musicians, but S&G is its own beast,” he says. “The way we write our music puts an individual spin on things.”

Even though he’s been feeling good about the chill approach to this mini-tour, Minnig is surprisingly anxious to be done with it.

Despite being non-stop the past couple of years, it’s like a drug for him to keep going.

“These shows have affected us positively,” he says. “Just on this leg, it’s such a pleasure hanging out with like-minded, electronically geeky, socially open people and that opens up inspiration. I’m psyched to get to the end of the tour because I wanna write already.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.

—  John Wright

Online comments and the death of civil discourse

When you can spout off anonymously and don’t have to talk face to face, it becomes too easy to attack one another

DAVID WEBB  |  Special Contributor

I sometimes wonder if the blogosphere was designed for a class of people that enjoys animal fights over a good movie or a football game. That’s what the blogs of practically all publications often resemble today — a dogfight between readers and journalists, readers and readers, and even journalists and journalists.

There’s something about the ability to instantly lash out at another person without having to look them in the eye that generates written warfare on blogs’ comments sections. The added benefit of being able to exchange written blows without the writers providing full names or even first names seems to make going to battle even more inviting.

The blog spectacles draw crowds of invisible observers sitting in front of their monitors watching the warriors and cheering them on to more aggression. Occasionally, the observers get so caught up in the action that they even get drawn into it.

It’s turned out to be a highly contagious atmosphere, and journalists themselves have become infected with some of the more severe cases of what I’m calling blogoitis.

One of the more spectacular blog slugouts in Dallas occurred about four years ago between two high-profile columnists from competing publications.

The gentlemen, both of whom I’m acquainted with in a casual sort of way, let loose on each other like it was World War III — and the plan was for no one to be left standing.

The funny part about it was that both writers are pretty laid back individuals that in person seem incapable of such hostility.

And on Dallas Voice’s blog, Instant Tea, there have been countless battles waged between all of the parties I mentioned above. I admit to succumbing to it myself in more than one category.

Given that no one is actually getting physically bludgeoned, it might seem almost harmless — if it were not for the resulting complications. It’s one of the laws of the universe: According to one of Newton’s laws of physics, “Every action is accompanied by a reaction of equal magnitude but opposite direction.”

In that regard, I think we’re probably seeing a chilling effect arising. I’ve had journalists and readers tell me the experience of a blog fight had left them feeling bad for several days. If a journalist or a reader knows that their words will result in an immediate, symbolic public stoning, it could easily lead anyone to keep their opinions to themselves.

Since the relevantly recent birth of the Internet’s blogosphere, the phenomena of cyber-bullying has also developed. One example of it is the presence of activist groups that maintain e-mail lists for the purpose of launching campaigns to flood blogs with complaints anytime something is written that they don’t like.

I’ve had a few unpleasant, unforgettable experiences with that.

I wrote a column last year that a group of activists didn’t like. One of the members of the group admitted to me that he had heard about the column over dinner one night and immediately launched an e-mail campaign against me without even reading the column. He told me about it because after looking at my blog and seeing how supportive I had been of his group over the years, he actually read the column and then decided to call off the dogs.

Unfortunately, the damage had already been done. It appeared that most of the people who sent complaining e-mails also hadn’t read my column. In fact, they so distorted what I had written, that even I was becoming unsure of what I had actually said.

In any event, criticism does come with the territory for anyone who steps into the public domain, so none of this is meant to imply that criticism and debate shouldn’t take place.

But it does seem like everyone, myself included, should think about what they are writing before posting a comment on a blog — and then strive to be respectful. Otherwise, it’s just too easy to write something that is unfair and could be regretted later.

David Webb is a former staff writer for the Dallas Voice. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28.

—  John Wright

In Spain, Pope greeted by small crowds and gay kiss-in

The other day I reported on the head of the Belgium Catholic church assaulting the LGBT community by claiming that AIDS is “justice” for gays. I guess Pope (Ratzinger) Benedict heard and wanted to get in on the action. He went off on women’s rights, decried increasing secularism and gay marriage in Spain.

POPE BENEDICT has denounced abortion and gay marriage, recently legalised in Spain, at a Mass to consecrate Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia church as a basilica in another criticism of what he called Spain’s “aggressive secularism”.

Leave it to the Spanish to provide the pontiff with an appropriate welcome!

On Saturday the pontiff visited Santiago de Compostela, where he paid homage at the tomb of Saint James in the cathedral, and later said Mass in the main square before a large congregation – many of whom were pilgrims who had completed their Holy Year pilgrimage. Leader of the conservative opposition Mariano Rajoy, a practising Catholic, was present with his wife and took Communion during the Mass.

In both cities there were smaller crowds than expected; hoteliers, bar and restaurant owners complained over lack of business, and many locals were annoyed at the amount of money spent on the visit. Five hundred gays and lesbians staged a “kiss-in” along the route of the papal motorcade, and other groups demonstrated against the visit and the church’s opposition to contraception, abortion and same-sex marriage.

I’m quite sure the sight of all those handsome Spanish men kissing gave Her Eminence the vapors. ¡Viva España!




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Judge Walker’s Prop 8 Ruling and the Foolishness of Crowds

Glen RetiefCrossposted from A Musing blog.


In reflecting on the recent Prop 8 ruling which now allows marriage equality in California once again, my partner, Glen Retief, considers mob mentality and the need from time to time for an "adult" to step in and burst the bubble.
~peterson

By Glen Retief

Are crowds wise or foolish?  This is the deeper philosophical question underlying Judge Walker’s judgment that California voters’ restriction of marriage to a union between a man and woman amounted to illegal and irrational discrimination.

This may not have been the literal legal principle at stake—whether hordes of people acting together tend to make good or bad decisions about matters such as minority civil liberties.  But it certainly was a subtext, as Judge Walker, in his robes and book-lined study, displayed an elegance of logic, a depth of thought, and a breadth of knowledge about human sexual diversity for which even his critics expressed admiration.

I’m certainly not out to insult the average Calfornia voter, here.  When I think of the folks who voted both for and against Prop 8, I picture, in fact, someone much like me—a middle-aged man or woman in a Ford Escort, stopping by the voting booth between grocery-shopping and picking up the cats from the vet.  I’m an educator and a memoirist, with little time for legal debates.  When exactly does your regular teacher, accountant, or bricklayer get the leisure to read through tomes on the equal protection clause or on the changing social function of marriage?


Yet, it seemed clear that for a significant portion of the American population, in a democracy it is precisely ordinary people—however ignorant and unqualified—who should be allowed to vote on their neighbors’ basic rights.

Some full disclosure, here:  As a partnered gay man I had a great deal to celebrate last week in the Prop 8 ruling.  If the decision stands, I won’t have to worry about my partner lacking Social Security benefits if I die before he does.  We’ll save precious thousands of dollars a year on simple things like federal taxes on the health insurance my employer buys him.  If we get into a car accident, no apathetic or homophobic nurse is going to stop us visiting each other.

As a South African immigrant, too, I was happy about Judge Walker’s logic: I could finally see my adopted country catch up with my home nation regarding civil rights.  South Africa banned antigay discrimination, along with lots of other kinds, in its 1996 Bill of Rights—the same year as the Defence of Marriage Act in this country.

There is something inherently humiliating about having to ask my neighbors’ and lawmakers’ permission to get married—as if, instead of just having to ask the father of the bride, a young man had to ask 300 million Americans if it was OK to wed his sweetheart.  Judge Walker restores me some of my dignity.

But as I mulled over the import of Walker’s reasoning last week, I actually found myself reacting much less as a gay man than simply as a human being, someone who thinks a lot about human discernment and idiocy—and quite avidly participates in both.<em></em>

&Ever since I lived through the Florida housing bubble from 1997 to 2006, I’ve enjoyed reading a book called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, by Charles MacKay.  In it, MacKay discusses all manner of fashionable insanities, from the Dutch tulip mania of the early seventeenth century, when single bulbs sold for more than quaint country cottages, to the European witch trials, which resulted in the brutal burning of thousands of innocents.

What I recall most vividly about the Florida housing bubble—the most vivid illustration of mass delusion in my lifetime–was how astonishingly universal the enthusiasm was: cocktail party talk revolved endlessly around how everyone was getting rich.  Unbuilt condos were bought and sold months later for six digit profits.

Wander around a South Beach bar today, and you won’t have go far to find someone to rail against Alan Greenspan for not raising interest rates in the mid-2000’s—this in a state now suffering mass unemployment and expanding soup kitchens.

Yet, Greenspan would have been roasted from Peoria to San Diego had he done anything of the sort in 2002.  While things were going well, our collective judgment felt gloriously infallible.  The last thing we wanted was “a monarch in a robe”—to use a phrase used to describe Walker—to tell us we shouldn’t be watching our house valuations soar.

Which brings me back to last week’s ruling.  The learned judge is simply right about the sheer irrationality and insanity of heterosexism, about its lack of grounding in any facts at all, about its cruelty.  Antigay persecution is perhaps as sadistic and unnecessary as the medieval witch hunts discussed by MacKay, even if much less violent.

For many Americans, Walker’s message clearly wasn’t a welcome one.  But when is it ever fun to learn about one’s ignorance?  For most of us, that’s about as pleasurable as watching our house’s value plummet.

Glen Retief teaches creative nonfiction at Susquehanna University. His memoir, The Jack Bank, will appear in April 2011, from St. Martin’s Press.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright