Snap shots: ‘Bill Cunningham New York’ turns the camera on fashion’s most influential paparazzo

LENS ME A SHOE | The Times photographer documents foot fashion in ‘Bill Cunningham New York.’

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

Maybe Project Runway’s to blame, maybe The Devil Wears Prada, but for the past few years there has been a surplus of documentaries about the fashion industry, with profiles of designers like Valentino (Valentino: The Last Emperor), Yves Saint-Laurent (several in fact), even young designers (Seamless) and Vogue magazine’s editor (The September Issue). (By contrast, I can only recall one fashion doc from the 1990s: Unzipped, about a young designer named Isaac Mizrahi.) Is there really that much to say about dressmaking?

Maybe not, but while Bill Cunningham New York fits broadly within the category of fashion documentaries, its subject is unusual because he eschews the trappings of haute couture even as he’s inextricably a part of it — a huge part, really.

If you don’t read the New York Times, you might not recognize Cunningham’s name, and even if you do read it, it may not have registered with you. For about, well, maybe 1,000 years, Cunningham has chronicled New York society with his candid photos of the glitterati on the Evening Hours page. At the same time, however, he has documented real fashion — how New Yorkers dress in their daily lives — with his page On the Street, where he teases out trends (from hats to men in skirts to hip-hoppers allowing their jeans to dangle around their knees). Anna Wintour may tell us what we should wear; Cunningham shows us what we do.

“We all get dressed for Bill,” Wintour observes.

What makes Cunningham such an interesting character is how impervious he seems to the responsibility he effortlessly wields. He loves fashion, yes, but he’s not a slave to it himself. He scurries around Manhattan (even in his 80s) on his bicycle (he’s had dozens; they are frequently stolen), sometimes in a nondescript tux but mostly in jeans, a ratty blue smock and duck shoes, looking more like a homeless shoeshiner than the arbiter of great fashion. He flits through the city like a pixie with his 35mm camera (film-loaded, not digital), a vacant, toothy smile peaking out behind the lens, snapping the denizens of Babylon whether they want it or not.

One of the funniest moments is when strangers shoo him away as some lunatic paparazzo, unaware how all the well-heeled doyens on the Upper East would trade a nut to have Cunningham photograph them for inclusion in the Times. Patrick McDonald, the weirdly superficial modern dandy (he competed as a wannabe designer on the flop reality series Launch My Line a few seasons back), seems to exist with the hope that Cunningham will shoot him. And shoot him he does.

Many artists are idiosyncratic, even eccentric, but Cunningham is supremely odd by any standards. He lives in a tiny studio near Carnegie Hall filled with filing cabinets cluttered with decades of film negatives on the same floor as a crazy old woman, a kind of urban variation on Grey Gardens. He knows tons of people but most of them seem to know very little about him. By the time near the end when the filmmaker, director Richard Press, finally comes out and ask him outright whether he’s gay, Cunningham arches in that prickly New England way, never really answering outright, though he says he’s never — never — had a romantic relationship. Things like that were simply not discussed by men of his generation.

In some ways, we never really know any more about Cunningham at the end than any of his friends do, and perhaps even him. Cunningham comes across as defiantly non-self-reflective. He lets his work do all the talking for him. And that work has a lot to say on its own.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

Anti-gay hate groups continue to duck and lie about their motives

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monters

This is a combination of two posts

The whining of religious right groups newly named as anti-gay hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center is reaching the levels of absurdity.

Witness this statement regarding the designation by Concerned Women for America:

The SPLC began as a civil rights organization in the 1960s, but has been marginalized by “gay rights” organizations. They no longer simply focus on the noble cause of fighting racism and have, instead, become another tool for the left. This time, the SPLC has taken their liberal propaganda too far. By demonizing traditional family groups that support traditional marriage, they just put a huge portion of the African-American community in California in the same category with the rest us so-called bigots.

According to an Associated Press exit poll, 70 percent of African-Americans in California who voted for Barack Obama also voted for Prop 8 and in support of traditional marriage in 2008. The very people the SPLC supposedly seeks to protect from bigotry and “hate crimes” are heavily in favor of the very institution that the SPLC is fighting against.

I hope CWA's statement alerts everyone to the true cynical nature of this so-called pro-family groups.

Seems to me that the simplest thing for the CWA (and the other organizations named as anti-gay hate groups or profiled) is to address SPLC's charges head on with a simple statement such as “SPLC is inaccurate because we never said those things or took those stances,” or “our statements and actions have been misconstrued.”

But rather than doing this, CWA is attempting to drag the African-American community into this argument in a sad attempt to play that community against the lgbt community. And let's face it – the CWA does not give a flip about either community.

No one should address the racial component of CWA's argument because it is irrelevant to the facts, which is according to SPLC:

(CWA founder Beverly) LaHaye has blamed gay people for a “radical leftist crusade” in America and, over the years, has occasionally equated homosexuality with pedophilia. In 2001, she hired prominent anti-gay propagandists Robert Knight  . . . and Peter LaBarbera . . . to launch CWA’s Culture and Family Institute. Matt Barber was CWA’s policy director for cultural issues in 2007 and 2008 before moving on to similar work with the Liberty Counsel  . . .

While at CWA, on April 12, 2007,  (Matt) Barber suggested against all the evidence that there were only a “miniscule number” of anti-gay hate crimes and most of those “may very well be rooted in fraudulent reports.” In comments that have since disappeared from CWA’s website, Barber demanded a federal probe of “homosexual activists” for their alleged fabrications of hate crime reports.

CWA long relied on and displayed Knight’s articles and talking points, including claims that “homosexuality carries enormous physical and mental health risks” and “gay marriage entices children to experiment with homosexuality.” Most remarkably, Knight cited the utterly discredited work of Paul Cameron to bolster claims that homosexuality is harmful.

Today, CWA continues to make arguments against homosexuality on the basis of dubious claims. President Wendy Wright said this August that gay activists were using same-sex marriage “to indoctrinate children in schools to reject their parents’ values and to harass, sue and punish people who disagree.” Last year, CWA accused the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a group that works to stop anti-gay bullying in schools, of using that mission as a cover to promote homosexuality in schools, adding that “teaching students from a young age that the homosexual lifestyle is perfectly natural … will [cause them to] develop into adults who are desensitized to the harmful, immoral reality of sexual deviance.”

As a gay man, I am amused by CWA's sad attempts to drag the black community into the argument. But as a black man, I am very angry. The way the CWA has label lgbts as oversexed monsters seeking to molest or “indoctrinate” children is no different than the way racists labeled black men as mindless brutes seeking to rape white women.

How's that for a racial component to the argument?

Meanwhile Bryan Fischer, the main reason why the American Family Association is considered as an anti-gay hate group, lodged his complaints against the designation.

It was one of those Freudian moments:

The Southern Poverty Law Center last week added five members to its list of “hate” groups, one of which is the American Family Association.

This illustrates one point and proves another. The point it illustrates is that the first and last refuge of a man without an argument is name-calling.

That would be an excellent point to make, except for one thing. As People for the American Way put it:

. . .it should also be noted that Fischer's entire professional career is based on calling gays names like nancy-boys and sexual perverts and sexual deviants and pedophiles and domestic terrorists who are part of a “deviancy cabal” who “want to use the anal cavity for sex.”

People who live in glass houses definitely shouldn't throw stones.

This sad attempt by CWA and Fischer to sidestep SPLC's charges continues to prove the main point of this entire controversy – you can't portray yourself as a victim when a paper trail reveals you to be a bully.

And the lies continue

Last night on the news show Hardball, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council sought to defend his organization's claim that gay men molest children at a higher rate than heterosexuals.

In attempting to do this, Perkins cited research by the American College of Pediatricians. However, there are several things about this group that Perkins omitted:

The American College of Pediatricians is not a legitimate medical group. It is a sham organization dedicated to the laundering of junk science about the lgbt community, i.e. the kind of “science” which demonizes the lgbt community. One of its chief researchers was George Rekers, that is before he got caught coming from a European trip with a “rentboy.”

Earlier this year, it tried to push a webpage, Facts About Youth, to American schools.

Among other things, this site made the following claims about gay men:

Some gay men sexualize human waste, including the medically dangerous practice of coprophilia, which means sexual contact with highly infectious fecal wastes

In addition, it also contained several errors in regards to research and other claims about the lgbt community.

But these things are irrelevant because the big story is how the American College of Pediatricians benefits people like Perkins.

Just as he did on Hardball, Perkins can cite the ACP without going into details about its errors. The official sounding name of the organization obscures all of that, and thus makes Perkins's position sound accurate.

The sad thing is that I think Perkins knows this.

And apparently this was not the only distortion Perkins committed during his Hardball appearance. Perkins said the following:

If you go back to the Archives of Sexual Behavior, a peer-reviewed reviewed journal, that stated that in self-identified… 86% of men, homosexual men, or who engage… or men who engage in molestation of children, 86% of them identified as homosexual or bisexual. That study has not been refuted.

However, according to the site Box Turtle Bulletin:

The study was not “refuted,” in Perkins’ terminology, simply because the finding was not considered to be significant, not even by its authors. The study, “Behavior patterns of child molesters” by W.D. Erickson, N.H. Walbek, and R.K. Seely which appeared more than twenty years ago (1988, to be exact), didn’t set out to determine the sexual orientation of child molesters. The study, of 229 convicted child molesters in Minnesota, (which, by the way, was never intended to be nationally representative in any way) was focused on the types of sexual contact the men engaged in with their victims — vaginal or anal penetration, oral contact, and so forth. In this particular sample, 63 victims were male, and 166 victims were female. The “finding” that Perkins and company found so exciting is encapsulated in just one sentence: “Eighty-six percent of offenders against males described themselves as homosexual or bisexual.”

That’s right, one lone sentence out of a ten page document, buried deeply within the text. In other words, the authors themselves didn’t see it as a significant finding. And it may be because the authors didn’t delve into the adult relationship makeup of these offenders, or what criteria the offenders used in their self-labeling. Nor did they attempt to investigate whether there was any validity to their self-labeling.

 

Hat tip to People for the American Way.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

DADT report will be released tomorrow as lame duck schedule presents a major impediment

During the White House press briefing, Robert Gibbs responded to questions about the Pentagon’s DADT study from Chris Johnson from the Washington Blade:

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday confirmed that Obama was meeting the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Oval Office to discuss “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Pentagon report on the matter.

“I think the president right now is in the Oval Office meeting with the Joint Chiefs about the issue and about the report,” Gibbs said in response to questioning from the Blade. “We look forward to the presentation by [Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates and [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] Adm. [Mike] Mullen tomorrow and then their testimony later in the week.”

Gibbs said he believes the president has seen “parts of” the report on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which is due for release Tuesday. Still, Gibbs said he would need to double-check whether Obama has indeed seen the study and doesn’t “want to ahead of” the release of report “in terms of commenting.”

The Obama administration agreed to the schedule for the Pentagon’s DADT report. The geniuses in the White House wanted it released after the midterms, hence the December 1st release date. Given the time crunch in the lame duck, Secretary Gates magnanimously agreed to release the report one day early. You do recall that on April 30th, Gates told Congress in a “strongly worded letter” that he didn’t want any votes on DADT repeal before the report was released. That provided a key talking points for opponents of repeal. Now, timing is the enemy. Unless things move seamlessly in the Senate over the next few weeks (and that never happens), passage of the DADT language is in big trouble.

The President really needs to step up his game here. He’s meeting with Congressional leaders tomorrow, but the President did not list the Defense Authorization bill as one of his priorities, according to The Hill. We need to put pressure on the President. Sign our letter to Obama, which asks him to start calling Senators, here.

And, via SLDN, Senators need to hear from all of us, too. If you live in any of these target states (or contributed to any of these Senators), call them:

UPDATED LIST: KEY SENATORS WHO NEED TO HEAR FROM REPEAL SUPPORTERS NOW:

–Harry Reid (D-NV);

–Susan Collins (R-ME);

–Olympia Snowe (R-ME);

–Mark Pryor (D-AR.);

–Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)

–Richard Lugar (R-IN);

–Judd Gregg (R-NH);

–Scott Brown (R-MA)

–George Voinovich (R-OH);

–Kit Bond (R-MO);

–Joe Manchin (D-WV)

–Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

–Mark Kirk (R-IL)

–James Webb (D-VA)

ACTION ALERT BY REPEAL ADVOCATES: http://bit.ly/dBKRcd

The Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Setting the stage for lame duck, Mitch McConnell’s office takes a swipe at DADT

Sure looks like the GOP Senate Leader, Mitch McConnell, is prepared to fight the effort to pass the DADT language:

Democrats see in the weeks ahead a final opportunity to pass priority legislation before Republicans have an emboldened presence in Washington.

But a spokesman for Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said voters were not interested in the Democrats’ priorities.

“It’s like the election didn’t happen — if you look at what their priorities are,” spokesman Don Stewart said. “The American people’s priorities are not the Dream Act, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal and the START treaty. Their priorities are not getting a tax hike — and keeping spending under control.”

This is important.

McConnell exercises very tight control over his caucus. We need Senator Susan Collins, who voted for the DADT language in the Senate Armed Services Committee last May, to stand up for equality in December. That means Collins will have to defy her leader. She doesn’t do that very often.

McConnell can play all kinds of procedural games over the next few weeks to block the Defense bill, with the DADT language. If Republican Senators play along with McConnell, we’re screwed.

Susan Collins knows that if the DADT language doesn’t pass this year, it won’t happen for a very long time. Let’s hope she’s negotiating directly with Harry Reid — and negotiating in good faith. If Collins will vote the right way, she’ll bring several other GOPers. If she won’t side with equality, don’t expect any other Republican Senators to do it.

There is going to be an intense battle in the Senate to pass the Defense bill over the next few weeks. We need the President fully engaged. Sign our letter to Obama asking him to get actively involved by calling wavering Senators. We need to pressure him to make sure he’s pressuring them. Sign here.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Momentum Continues for Lame Duck DADT Repeal

Today a coalition of groups working on repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law released a joint statement pointing out that momentum for repeal in the lame duck session of Congress is continuing.  The statement from the Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Servicemembers United, the Center for American Progress Action Fund and Third Way came after last evening’s reaffirmation of the Senate leadership and the White House’s commitment to end DADT, along with this morning’s Senate press conference.

There is no reason why the Senate cannot complete the work of repeal this year which is supported by nearly eighty percent of Americans, said the groups.

This morning, advocates joined Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Mark Udall (D-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Roland Burris (D-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Chris Coons (D-DE) in calling for action on the National Defense Authorization Act – the bill to which DADT repeal is attached – before the end of the year.  Sen. Lieberman said, “We are here to make clear that the reports of death of the movement to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ have been greatly exaggerated”

Last evening, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) welcomed the Majority Leader’s announcement of his intention to bring the NDAA to the floor following the Thanksgiving recess.  He announced he would hold a hearing in early December on the report of the Pentagon Working Group studying DADT implementation.  Media reports on a draft copy of the report last week indicated that troops are not opposed to repeal and that doing away with the policy will be a non-event for the military – an expectation buttressed by the experiences of other countries that have repealed gay bans including the United Kingdom, Australia and Israel.

At a confirmation hearing this morning for Gen. Carter Ham, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), who originally voted against DADT repeal in committee but for the NDAA, said: “I can’t, again having spent five years in the Pentagon; I can’t remember a study on this type of issue that has been done with this sort of care. Not even having seen it or knowing the results, but I know the preparation that went into it. So it’s going to be a very important study for us to look at and examine.”  Gen. Ham concurred saying the study was, “the most comprehensive assessment of a personnel policy matter that the Department of Defense has conducted.” 

At the Pentagon, spokesman Geoff Morrell today reinforced the Pentagon’s support for repeal this year saying, “that’s what we as an administration are pushing for, and we certainly see the merit in using that as the legislative vehicle to ultimately get to repeal.”


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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WH and Reid: Defense Authorization bill with DADT language will move to Senate floor in lame duck

I’m just going to post this entire joint press release from SLDN, HRC and CAPAF:

Key Senate leadership and Administration officials this evening met with representatives of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), and the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF). The officials told the groups that Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama are committed to moving forward on repeal by bringing the National Defense Authorization Act – the bill to which “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal is attached – to the floor in the lame duck session after the Thanksgiving recess. Further the Majority Leader and the President made clear their opposition to removing the DADT provision from the NDAA. Information on the exact timing and procedural conditions will be announced by the Majority Leader’s office.

Present at the meeting with representatives from HRC, SLDN and CAPAF were: Jim Messina, Deputy White House Chief of Staff; Phil Schiliro, White House Director of Legislative Affairs; Chris Kang, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs; Brian Bond, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; David Krone, Chief of Staff to Majority Leader Reid; and Serena Hoy, Senior Counsel to Majority Leader Reid.

Interesting that the White House and Reid’s office were willing to name the participants of the meeting. Apparently, this is supposed to signal that they’re all really engaged. Better late then never, I guess.

Let’s not get too excited. This is just one step forward. There are still many hurdles to get over. The President, the Majority Leader and all of these meeting participants have a lot of work to do to make sure the bill get to the Senate floor — and passes.

The key to success lies in “the exact timing and procedural conditions.” We keep hearing that the Senate wants to go adjourn on December 10th. That can’t happen if this effort is going to succeed.

Greg Sargent is right: Action on DADT “could still happen, if the Dem leadership tries to make it happen.”




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

GetEqual at Reid’s office. Staffer on commitment to lame duck repeal – ‘I don’t know’

UPDATE: GetEqual is at Sen. Harry Reid’s office. A Tweet from Scott Wooledge:

@ltdanchoi asks Deputy Chief of Staff if @HarryReid will commit to repealing #DADT in lame duck: “I don’t know.”

If Dan is permitted to speak with the Senator, keep in mind what happened at Netroots Nation this year. I was at Dan’s table when he strode onto the stage and gave him his West Point ring and a letter:

This summer, Lt. Dan Choi made headlines at Netroots Nation in Las Vegas when he approached Senator Harry Reid on-stage at a main conference event and gave his West Point cadet ring to Senator Harry Reid. At that time, Senator Reid – in front of this large crowd of progressive/liberal bloggers and activists, Senator Reid promised Dan that he would return the ring by the end of this year when the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is repealed.

Dan’s question to Senator Reid – “can I expect my ring back this year or not?”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Reports That Pelosi Wants Lame Duck ENDA Vote ‘Not True’

Yesterday, Politico posted a report that Nancy Pelosi wants a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the lame duck session of Congress:

Pelosi "As Democrats discuss what, if anything, they can deliver to the base in the lame-duck session, one possibility may be the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, seen by many as the easiest lift among various pieces of stalled gay rights legislation. My colleague Jonathan Allen reports that Speaker Nancy Pelosi talked about wanting to do ENDA on a leadership conference call today. Pelosi didn't set a timeline, but Allen's source said she appears to want a vote before the lame-duck session ends."

The Washington Blade says that just isn't true:

A gay rights activist with the connections to the speaker’s office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a blog posting in Politico on Thursday reporting that Pelosi wants a vote on ENDA before lawmakers adjourn for the year is “not true.”

“The speaker brought it up during a leadership call in a list of unfinished bills, and all of the sudden, it got leaked out as she is going to bring this to a vote by the end of the year,” the activist said. “Whoever did leak that took it completely out of context.”

The activist said the speaker didn’t mention “anything else that would have implied she was foretelling a vote by the end of the session.”

Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesperson, said “no decisions” have been made on any legislative items for lame duck.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Is a Lame Duck ENDA Vote Nancy Pelosi’s Last Chance To Secure a Gay Rights Legacy?

A day after a report circulates that outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will call for a lame duck ENDA vote (a report that's already been shot down), the Bay Area Reporter runs the headline, "LGBTs express disappointment with Pelosi's speakership." Though please don't include the Human Rights Campaign in that list of "LGBTs."


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Queerty

—  admin

Shouldn’t matter, but top House and Senate GOPers on Armed Services vow to stop DADT repeal in lame duck

This should not come as a surprise to anyone. We know Rep. McKeon and Senator McCain opposed DADT repeal. They’re going to try to stop it in the lame duck. Pushing this. Those Log Cabin Republicans and GOProuds have their work cut out for them:

Already, the Republican widely expected to be the next House Armed Services chairman signaled that Republicans are not on board with trying to push for a vote in the last few weeks of the current session, while the Democrats are just a few votes shy of pushing it through.

“Republicans on both sides the Capitol are committed to passing a National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 that is not weighed down by the current majority’s social agenda items,” said Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-California, in a statement released Wednesday morning.

Before the election, the top Republican on the Armed Services committee, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told an Arizona television station he would “absolutely” filibuster any attempt to vote “until we have a thorough and complete study on the effect of morale and battle effectiveness.”

“The reason they tried to ramrod it through the Senate is they knew that the Senate will look different next January,” McCain said on 12 News’ “Sunday Square Off” on October 17. “I will filibuster or stop it from being brought up.”

This shouldn’t matter. McKeon and McCain don’t run the commmittees — yet.

Obama and the Democrats need to really focus on the passing the Defense bill as is. They let the GOPers get away with filibustering the Defense bill in September, which was a huge mistake. We’re in two wars, which should be reason enough to force the GOP’s handgs. Also, the Defense bill has to be one of the biggest jobs bills that Congress passes. It funds millions of salaries in both the government and private sectors. And, as the President noted yesterday at his press conference, there is a huge amount of support for ending DADT.

Let this be the first fight with the Republicans. But, make it a fight.

And, if you haven’t seen it, watch Alex Nicholson’s video on how we can prevail. He spells it out quite clearly:




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin