Concert Notice: Sleigh Bells and ‘not gay’ gay band CSS come to the Granada in April

Sleigh Bells was one of the big buzz bands of last year. At first, I have to admit, I kinda hated them. That distorted loud sound pretty much drove me nuts. After being beaten into submission on many year-end lists, I could appreciate them a bit for what they were doing thanks to this one song.

CSS, however, hasn’t had a release since 2008′s Donkey. No word I can see of an album on the horizon, but who cares, their Brazilian dance-rock is fantastic fun and by the looks of their live show, I’d imagine just the same. The two bands are making their way to Dallas this spring.

Just don’t call them a gay band per se. When asked if she was by The New Gay, Luiza Sa answered: “I am gay, but that has nothing to do with our music. We’re just young people trying to make music. We don’t want to be a role model. That has nothing to do with our personal lives.” Who couldn’t applaud an honest answer like that?

CSS and Sleigh Bells play the Granada Theater April 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

—  Rich Lopez

Whether aboard elephant or donkey, ‘culture war’ wall-writing is easy to see

More and more Republicans are admitting that regardless of their own personal feelings on the subject, LGBT civil rights are clearly headed in one easily discernible pattern. A pattern that will surly remain mired in some level of a culture war swamp for the foreseeable future, but that will undeniably make professional anti-gay activists look silly (At best) for wasting so much time on a fight they were never meant to win.

This from conservative pundit Michael Barone:

On gay rights, we also see something in the nature of a truce. Polls suggest majority support for Congress’s repeal of the ban on open Screen Shot 2010-12-30 At 2.26.24 Pmgays in the military, and the Marine Corps commandant, who opposed the change, promised to work hard to implement it.

Same-sex marriage is accepted in Massachusetts and nearly gained majority support in referenda in Maine and California. But many states have passed constitutional amendments banning it. It is unlikely to pass muster with voters or legislators in most of the South anytime soon, if only because most black voters are opposed (blacks voted 70 percent against it in California).

There’s a sharp difference between old and young voters on same-sex marriage, and my guess is that young voters will continue to favor it by wide margins as they grow older — but maybe not. In the meantime, discrimination against or disparagement of gays and lesbians is increasingly frowned on by larger and larger majorities.

A Truce in Culture Wars as Voters Focus on Economy [National Review Online]

We would add that as discrimination and disparagement decrease, the already-unlikely chance that young people will grow older and swing more conservative on marriage equality concurrently dwindles. Because we’re not talking about a mere policy matter or fiscal issue, subjects where opinions do sometimes change in accordance with life experience. When we talk about equality, we are talking about people. Neighbors. Friends. Loved ones. Roommates. Talk show hosts.

Among the current crop of young people, there are very few who can say they’ve grown up without knowing an LGBT human being. When considering this, the familiar mantra surely rings true: When they know us, they don’t vote against us.

As for the one area where Barone sees potential for delayed progress: marriage in Southern states? Well, it likely won’t matter any way, as it’s highly likely that this conversation will ultimately decided by the courts, where minority rights are not, should not, and will not be stymied by majority resistance. And In fact, continued resistance in the face of court victories will only help to highlight how wrong-headed it is to use personal, largely faith-based condemnations to stop equal protection and due process. There will be more actual dialogue which will shush down the contrived talking points.

When we have these important conversations, we win. And by “we,” that means everyone who’s ready to put these tired, offensive, personally weakening conversations behind us so that we can move on and discuss actual societal issues. Like that new show where the brides compete for plastic surgery.




Good As You

—  admin

Oat, bray, love

Gay men in Argyle, Texas, give lives to livestock with Ranch Hand Rescue

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer stevencraiglindsey@me.com

When Bob Williams walks into the barnyard, there’s a near stampede as miniature horses big and small, llamas and a donkey run to greet him. This is the man who’s given them a better life of love, safety and, most importantly, hope. At Ranch Hand Rescue in Argyle, Texas, it’s easy to believe that animals can have such complicated feelings and emotions. You can see it in their eyes, and in the case of Ozella the donkey, hear it in her enthusiastic brays.

For the former telecom executive, rescuing farm animals was never part of his long-term plan. But a stroke in October 2007 changed everything.

“I decided it wasn’t about money any more. The stroke was pretty devastating and scary. I decided to do something I loved, but I never pictured myself with farm animals,” Williams laughs.

But that’s where he ended up. After the stroke, Williams retired and began helping out more with his partner Marty Polasko’s business, the American Spa & Pet Resort.

“Marty’s whole philosophy for the pet resort was the best of everything, Disneyland for dogs. That’s why you’ll see swimming pools, play parks and suites. When people come here, they see that it’s all about animals. It’s designed for dogs and cats. Everything he’s done is just overwhelming,” he says.

Soon, rescuing horses and donkeys became part of the equation.

“We started off saving them one at a time,” he says. “Then about a year and a half ago, a guy walked into the lobby and said he wanted to make a $250 donation to us for our animals. I thought, ‘Wow, what are we going to do with that?’ We couldn’t take his money because we’re not a private charity.”

Williams soon realized that he and Polasko were all about the animals and giving back to the community. Thus Ranch Hand Rescue was created. What started out with donkeys and horses has grown to encompass everything from neglected and abused ducks, geese, turkeys, pigs, rabbits, goats, even turtles.

The goal is to rehabilitate the animals and bring them back to good health, then adopt them out into loving homes as companion animals. In a few instances, the animals remain with Ranch Hand Rescue and join the on-site sanctuary to live out their lives in comfort and safety. Goats in the sanctuary will never be milked again; horses will never be ridden; turkeys enjoy a permanent pardon from Thanksgiving dinner.

Since forming in April 2009, Ranch Hand Rescue has saved more than 85 farm animals. The efforts have required building a new barn, creating a quarantine area for the sickest of animals, hiring staff and leasing additional land, all of which is costly and ongoing.

“We get three to four calls per week from people reporting possible abuse or neglect,” Williams says. Cases are turned over to the sheriff’s department and investigated before Ranch Hand Rescue is tapped to make an assessment. In most cases, people are given the opportunity to take corrective action to bring their animals back to health, but that often never happens.

During a recent tour of the facility, a call came in to Williams from Deanne Murillo, an animal cruelty investigator making a site visit to a farm. Neighbors had complained that they’d noticed horses that were tied to a fence post with a rope, limiting their ability to run and roam. They appeared seriously malnourished with no access to food or water.

“There was not a blade of grass on their property,” Murillo says. “The [owners] were very nice to me, but things were all very iffy. There were 20 or more puppies there, too. Some were walking on three legs and had sores on their bodies.”

Bob Williams
FARM  TEAM | Bob Williams, right, tends to Lips, an abused horse; Ozella the donkey, facing page, enjoys a good life now. (Photos by Steven Lindsey)

The horses in particular were suffering though.  “I’m going to go back and check in three weeks and if things haven’t improved, they could have their animals seized,” Murillo says. “I left copies of the law, I read the law to them, I told them where they were in violation and we don’t want to take their horses.”

Even though the family was cooperative and seemed concerned, it was doubtful things would improve. That’s when Ranch Hand Rescue would rescue the horses, adding the new horses to four others currently in the quarantine barn.

“This is Lips,” Williams says walking up to a stall. “He’s a stallion that needs to be gelded. He has severe nerve damage to the face. Lips was beaten, so he’s skittish.”

Indeed, Lips immediately cowers, moves to a far corner and begins to shake. He won’t even look up because there’s somebody else there besides Williams, whom he’s just barely beginning to trust.

“One of the ways we get them to get used to people, I take a lawn chair and I come in and sit down. The best way for them to rebuild their trust with humans is to spend time with them, so I’ll bring a newspaper or magazine or the Dallas Voice and just hang out. He’s getting a little better, but only time will tell if the nerve damage is permanent.”

It’s heartbreaking to hear these stories and see the fear in an animal’s behavior, but simply seeing Williams’ passion for the animals prevents the mood from being one of sadness. Instead, there’s a palpable energy of healing and compassion. Perhaps it’s because this former executive who never dreamed of this new life has clearly been won over by the beasts in his care. He calls each animal by name, softening his voice and cooing like a doting father to a newborn child.

“Hi there, Sweetie! Come to daddy,” he calls to the horse. “It just brings tears to your eyes. There’s no reason any person or animal should have to go through this,” he says as Lips finally raises his head and slowly makes his way to the front of the stall, stopping halfway. It’s progress, but just barely.

Rehabilitation can be a very slow process and patience is paramount, which Williams and his staff have in abundance. Spending time with the animals that have been brought back from the brink of starvation is all it takes, however, to understand that it’ll all be worth the wait. And in the end, Ranch Hand Rescue is the best place any of these animals could ever hope to be.

The cost to maintain one horse averages $3,000/ year. Donations can be made either to Ranch Hand Rescue, Inc., 8827 Hwy 377S Argyle, Texas 76226 or online at RanchHandRescue.org. Tours available Saturdays, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Volunteers always needed.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens