Broken Mould

Queer punk pioneer Bob Mould turned an abusive childhood into a musical movement, but memoir targets hardcore fans

2.5 out of 5 stars
SEE A LITTLE LIGHT: THE TRAIL OF RAGE AND MELODY
By Bob Mould (with Michael
Azerrad). 2001 (Little, Brown)
$25; 404 pp.

………………………….
It all starts with “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” It continues with the itsy-bitsy spider, the ABCs and being a little teapot. From there, you embrace whatever your older siblings are listening to until you develop your own musical tastes. Maybe you started with records, moved on to the cassette tapes, CD and now, your iPod is full.

The point is, you’ve never been without your tunes.

But what about the people who make the music you love?

When Mould was born in 1960 in the northernmost end of New York, he entered a family wracked with grief: Just before he was born, Mould’s elder brother died of kidney cancer. He surmises that the timing of his birth resulted in his being a “golden child,” the family peacekeeper who sidestepped his father’s physical and psychological abuse.

“As a child,” he writes, “music was my escape.”

Mould’s father, surprisingly indulgent, bought his son guitars and young Bob taught himself to play chords and create songs. By the time he entered high school, Mould knew that he had to get out of New York and away from his family. He also knew he was gay, which would be a problem in his small hometown.

He applied for and entered college in Minnesota, where he started taking serious guitar lessons and drinking heavily. His frustrations led him to launch a punk rock band that made a notable impact on American indie music.

Named after a children’s game, Hüsker Dü performed nationally and internationally, but Mould muses that perhaps youth was against them. He seemed to have a love-hate relationship with his bandmates, and though he had become the band’s leader, there were resentments and accusations until the band finally split.

HUSKER DON’T | Bob Mould turned his youthful rage and homosexuality into a music career. (Photo by Noah Kalina)

But there were other bands and there were other loves than music, as Mould grew and learned to channel the rage inside him and the anger that volcanoed from it.

“I spent two years rebuilding and reinventing myself,” writes Mould. “Now that I’ve integrated who I am and what I do, I finally feel whole.”

If you remember with fondness the ‘80s, with its angry lyrics and mosh pits, then you’ll love this book. For most readers, though, See a Little Light is going to be a struggle. Mould spends a lot of time on a litany of clubs, recording studios, and locales he played some 30 years ago — which is fine if you were a fellow musician or a rabid, hardcore fan. This part of the book goes on… and on… and on, relentlessness and relatively esoteric in nature.

Admittedly, Mould shines when writing about his personal life but even so, he’s strangely dismissive and abrupt with former loves, bandmates, and even family. I enjoyed the occasional private tale; unfortunately there were not enough.

Overall, See a Little Light is great for Mould fanboys and those were heavy into the punk scene. For most readers, though, this book is way out of tune.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Clay Aiken performs tonight at Verizon Theatre

Clay Aiken went from ‘American Idol’ to gay icon — and more

It should come as no surprise that singer Clay Aiken would be a gentleman. With his Southern twang and clean-cut persona, he’s both personable and professional in an interview. But the kid is also pretty slick.

“Not many people can deal with the scrutiny of bullshit.”

Whoa — did Clay Aiken just drop the “S” word? The remark comes on the heels of a question about his much blogged-about new relationship with Jeff Walters, a local actor with recent parts in such shows as Uptown Players’ Closer to Heaven and Ohlook’s The Rocky Horror Show. Perez Hilton and many others (our own Instant Tea blog even got in on the action) were quick to highlight the guys’ night out on the town, complete with pics at Theatre Three and the Gaylord. What soon followed were pics of Walters from Grindr and his work as an underwear model.

“I’ll save you the trouble of asking and not answer,” Aiken laughs with that underlying tone that he’s tight-lipped about his personal life.

Read the entire article here.

—  Rich Lopez

Feat of Clay

DAPPER DUDE  |  Clay Aiken doesn’t spill the beans much on his personal life, but talks up his activism work with LGBT organizations because he takes them and the work they do very personally.

Clay Aiken went from ‘American Idol’ to gay icon — and more

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

It should come as no surprise that singer Clay Aiken would be a gentleman. With his Southern twang and clean-cut persona, he’s both personable and professional in an interview. But the kid is also pretty slick.

“Not many people can deal with the scrutiny of bullshit.”

Whoa — did Clay Aiken just drop the “S” word? The remark comes on the heels of a question about his much blogged-about new relationship with Jeff Walters, a local actor with recent parts in such shows as Uptown Players’ Closer to Heaven and Ohlook’s The Rocky Horror Show. Perez Hilton and many others (our own Instant Tea blog even got in on the action) were quick to highlight the guys’ night out on the town, complete with pics at Theatre Three and the Gaylord. What soon followed were pics of Walters from Grindr and his work as an underwear model.

“I’ll save you the trouble of asking and not answer,” Aiken laughs with that underlying tone that he’s tight-lipped about his personal life.

Fair enough. There is much more to Aiken, after all, than mere gossip fodder, as he’s proven with his staunch activism for the welfare of children and youth. His service with the National Inclusion Project (formerly the Bubel/Aiken Foundation) and UNICEF has been notable, but his work with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) may have his most personal vested interest at heart.

“I think that I chose to work with GLSEN more vocally than other equality organizations because it hits home more,” he says. “All the organizations are incredible, but I got picked on growing up as a kid. For being a nerd, for being gay before I knew I even was. And I still get picked on. Being a celebrity doesn’t protect you and it can be worse when it’s more public.”

Aiken says that without any sign of whining. He focuses less on what people are saying about him (there is a lot out there that’s not-so-nice, starting when he was still an American Idol contestant) and is more interested in directing his attention to anti-bullying causes and making schools safe.

“I understand that mission from my personal standpoint. From the scars,” he chuckles. “But as a former teacher, I want to be sure schools are safe places for kids.”

Interestingly, as a fairly new dad (his son is 2 now), Aiken says his passion didn’t necessarily grow from parenthood. Instead, he says he’d like to think he was always that passionate. But having a son did add a perspective that he thinks might be missing in today’s LGBT parents.

“Well, it’s one thing to protect yourself, but an entirely different thing to protect your child,” he says. “I understand that if my son is gay, I want him to have rights and protections. I think that idea is somewhat lacking within the community. It’s easy to forget that the rights we’re fighting for are for another generation.”

Aiken hesitates to liken the struggle for equal rights for LGBT citizens now with the civil rights movement of Black America in the ‘60s, but he connected with the idea that then, people were working and fighting for rights so that generation’s children didn’t have to. Aiken encourages that thought for LGBT parents.

“We don’t have as many opportunities to look at it that way,” he says. “The generation before us may not have been able to get married and we may in this lifetime, but as a father now, I want to make sure and set up a future for my son.”

Lest we forget, Aiken is first and foremost a musician and singer. He’ll remind North Texas of that as his tour stops at Verizon Theatre on Tuesday in support of his fifth full-length studio release, Tried and True. He recorded old-school tunes from the ‘50s and ’60s, putting his indelible vocal stamp on classics like “Mack the Knife” and

“Unchained Melody.” Ironically, Aiken doesn’t listen much to any music. He’s more of a news junkie.

“I really don’t. I listen to NPR and watch CNN,” he admits. “I love top 40 stuff like Katy Perry and Gaga when it’s on in the car, but I guess I’m kind of a music-less musician.”

Highly doubtful.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Starvoice • 02.11.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYBillieJoeArmstrong1

Billie Joe Armstrong turns 39 on Thursday. The Green Day frontman has grown into quite the artist since his early punk rock days. From 1994’s brash Dookie to the epic American Idiot in 2004 and now Broadway based on the latter album. He came out as bisexual in ’95 to The Advocate but now refrains from talking about his personal life out of respect for his wife.

………………..

THIS WEEK

The Sun lining up with Neptune in Aquarius, and in a rare combination of aspects with Uranus (for the last time in our lifetime!), offers an unusual boost to intuitive clarity.

………………..

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Birthday splurges carry hidden costs. Think ahead. Take time out to consider where you’re going in life. Maturing is a process of adaptation. Aging offers opportunities for insight and liberation.
PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
Take time out from worldly demands. You need to be able to charge your batteries to intuit the big changes coming up both globally and personally. Trust your instincts and act on them.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
Enjoy the company of good friends; talk about where you expect to be in 10 or 20 years. That triggers hunches about the future. Talking about them gives a clearer vision of what will be.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
The future is uncertain. Don’t let that worry you. Focus on what you really want and expect of life. That will alleviate concerns about your career and give direction in your planning.

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Believe in yourself. Even that may be difficult while you are in the midst of redirection, but look into your own heart, your own guiding light, to see what you know to be true.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
Discuss your fantasies with your partner — or someone you can trust. Something new is likely to come up. You may not be ready to act on it, but at least consider the notion and what’s behind it.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
The bedroom is a great place to clear up misunderstandings. Be willing to let your lover lead you to places and positions you’d never considered. Return the favor. It’s about trust and empathy.

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Your ideas at work are brilliant, but support is a problem. Let others think they had some part in your ideas if you don’t mind giving up some of the credit.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
Being a team player does include some actual play. Morale-building fun-and-games help you get into better sync with your colleagues. Even solo, new techniques will improve your game.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
Scandals open quite a can of worms. In the end it could prove very healing, although the catharsis could put some big bumps on the path to resolution.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
Confusion is the first step to enlightenment. Remember that when things get a little crazy. Their deception is probably not deliberate. Be patient, forgiving and alert.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
A choice between diplomacy and honesty tests your values. Being kind is a mistake. Gentleness and finesse will be appreciated while pussyfooting and sugarcoated lies will not.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Gay porn actor calls for condom use

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — An adult film actor who tested positive for HIV says he now wishes he had known more about the risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases in the industry and is calling for mandatory condom use in porn films.

Derrick Burts, 24, identified himself to the Los Angeles Times as the performer who tested positive at the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation in Sherman Oaks in October. He had previously been known as Patient Zeta.

Burts, who performed in straight films as Cameron Reid and gay films as Derek Chambers, described the panicked call he got from clinic staff on Oct. 9 about the infection that sent fears through California’s adult industry.

Clinic staff told him they wanted to perform a follow-up test and begin notifying performers he had worked with since his last negative test result Sept. 3. He was told those performers would be placed on a quarantine list and also would be tested.

When Burts returned to the clinic Oct. 23 to review the second test results, he said he was told that the clinic had traced his HIV infection to someone he had performed a scene with, someone they described as a “known positive.” The clinic would not identity the performer because of patient confidentiality.

Burts said he believed he may have contracted the disease during a gay porn shoot in Florida.

Despite Burts’ account of what he was told, clinic officials released a statement last month that said “Patient Zeta acquired the virus through private, personal activity.”

“That’s completely false,” Burts told the Times. “There is no possible way. The only person I had sex with in my personal life was my girlfriend.”

She tested negative, he said.

An e-mail to the Adult Industry Healthcare Foundation seeking comment late Tuesday, Dec. 7 was not immediately returned.

Burts said the clinic promised to put him in touch with a doctor affiliated with the clinic and promised to arrange for his follow-up care. But he said no one called him back and when he contacted the clinic, he received no response for two months.

In frustration, Burts said he went to an AIDS Healthcare Foundation center in Los Angeles on Nov. 24 but didn’t identify himself as Patient Zeta.

Burts said he was pleased with the care he received there and contacted the head of the organization last week and identified himself as Patient Zeta. He said he wanted to speak out in favor of enforcing mandatory condom use in porn productions.

The Times reported the foundation had scheduled a news conference with Burt on Wednesday.

Burts grew up in Whittier and Hemet and graduated from Hemet High School and a hotel management school in Florida, according to the Times. He worked as a hotel manager and cruise ship magician before becoming a performer in the lucrative porn industry.

“Making $10,000 or $15,000 for porn isn’t worth your life,” he told the Times. “Performers need to be educated.”

—  John Wright

WATCH: Gov. Perry makes a complete fool of himself trying to defend abstinence education

This is embarrassing to watch, but it’s no wonder Gov. Rick Perry refuses to debate Democrat Bill White and declined to interview with newspaper editorial boards this year.

Asked by The Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith on Friday to defend the state’s abstinence-only education policy, given that we have the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, Perry was at a total loss.

“Abstinence works,” Perry responds, to laughter from the audience. “Abstinence works. Maybe it’s the way it’s being taught or the way it’s being applied out there, but the fact of the matter is it is the best form to teach our children.”

Smith then asks whether Perry can give a statistic suggesting that abstinence-only education works.

“I’m just going to tell you, I’m going to tell you from my own personal life, abstinence works,” Perry says, to another round of laughter. “And the point is, if we’re not teaching it and if we’re not impressing it upon them, then no. But if the point is we’re going to go stand up here and say, ‘Listen, y’all go have sex and go have whatever is going on, and we’ll worry with that, and here’s the ways to have safe sex,’ I’m sorry, call me old fashioned if you want, but that is not what I”m going to stand up in front of the people of Texas and say …”

We’re not calling you old fashioned, governor, we’re calling you a freakin’ moron. And we can’t wait to see the rest of the Tribune’s interview on Monday.

—  John Wright

DART accused of transphobia

Judge reversed order after transit agency fought longtime employee’s gender-marker change last year

John Wright | News Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

TRANS FRIENDLY? | Judge Lynn Cherry, right, is shown alongside drag performer Chanel during Stonewall Democrats’ 2008 holiday party at the Round-Up Saloon. A few months later, Cherry ruled against a transgender DART employee and overturned a gender-marker change. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

DART stands accused of bigotry and transphobia after attorneys for the local transit agency intervened in family court last year to challenge a gender-marker change granted to an employee.

According to court records, a transgender DART employee obtained a court order in February 2009 directing all state agencies to correct their records by changing her gender-marker from male to female, including on her birth certificate.

As Dallas Voice reported last week, many Dallas County judges have been routinely granting gender-marker changes to transgender people who meet set criteria — including documentation from licensed medical personnel — since the Democratic sweep of 2006.

The DART employee, who’s name is being withheld to protect her anonymity, later presented the court order to the transit agency’s human resources department and requested that her personnel records be changed to reflect her new gender.

But DART’s attorneys objected to the gender-marker change and responded by filing a motion seeking a rehearing in court. DART’s objections prompted 301st Family District Court Judge Lynn Cherry to reverse her order granting the gender-marker change.

“Where does this stop when an employer can start interfering with your personal life and family law decisions?” said longtime local transgender activist Pamela Curry, a friend of the DART employee who brought the case to the attention of Dallas Voice. “She was devastated. This should be a serious concern to a lot of people — everybody — and I just think this story needs to be told.”

Judge Cherry, who received Stonewall Democrats of Dallas’ Pink Pump Award for her support of the group last year, didn’t respond to messages seeking comment this week.

Morgan Lyons, a spokesman for DART, noted that Cherry reversed her order before the agency actually filed its motion for a rehearing. However, Curry alleges that DART’s attorneys met with Cherry privately and pressured her into reversing the order.

As is common with gender-marker changes, the case file has been sealed, but Dallas Voice obtained copies of some of the court documents from Curry.

In their motion for a rehearing, DART attorneys Harold R. McKeever and Hyattye Simmons argued that Texas law grants registrars, not judges, the authority to amend birth certificates. They also argued that birth certificates could be amended only if they were inaccurate at the time of birth.

“It’s not a DART issue, it’s a point of law,” Lyons told Dallas Voice this week, in response to the allegations of bigotry. “The lawyers concluded that the birth certificate could not be altered by law, unless there was a mistake made when the birth certificate was completed, and again, the judge changed the order before we even wound up going into court with it.”

Asked about DART’s LGBT-related employment policies, Lyons said the agency’s nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation but not gender identity/expression. The agency, which is governed by representatives from Dallas and numerous suburbs, also doesn’t offer benefits to the domestic partners of employees.

Lyons didn’t respond to other allegations made by Curry, including that the agency has fought the employee’s transition from male to female at every step of the way.

Curry, who helped the employee file her pro se petition for a gender-marker change, said the employee has worked for DART for more than 20 years and has an outstanding performance record.

The employee began to come out as transgender in 2003 and had gender reassignment surgery more than three years ago, Curry said. Curry said DART supervisors have at various times told the employee that she couldn’t have long hair, couldn’t wear skirts to work and couldn’t use women’s restrooms at work.

The employee has responded by showing up at work in her uniform so she doesn’t have to change and using public restrooms on her bus route, Curry said.

Supervisors have also told the employee she can’t talk to the media and can’t join political groups, such as Stonewall Democrats, Curry said.

“She’s intimidated and she’s scared,” Curry said. “One supervisor even suggested to her that if she doesn’t lay off it, they will mess up her retirement.”

Elaine Mosher, a Dallas attorney who’s familiar with the case, also questioned why DART intervened. Mosher didn’t represent the employee in the case but has handled gender-marker changes for other clients.

Mosher said the employee’s gender doesn’t have any bearing on her ability to do her job at DART.

“My argument in any gender marker matter is, the birth certificate was wrong, that’s why they had to go through the transition surgery, in essence to put them in the correct gender,” Mosher said. “All I can tell you is that it seems strange to me that DART would care one way or another what the gender marker of anybody that works for them is.”

Moster added that she believes someone at DART may have been “freaked out” by the employee’s transition from male to female and developed a “vendetta” against her.

“I wish I had a good explanation for why [DART got involved] other than the fact that I know there are people out there who are utterly blind and prejudiced for no other reason than they are,” Mosher said. “I compare it to some of the nonsense African-Americans had to live through in the ’60s.”

Mosher also said she’s “very surprised” that Cherry reversed the order granting the gender marker change.

Erin Moore, president of Stonewall Democrats, said she’s heard “bits and pieces” of the story but isn’t sure of all the facts.

Moore said in response to her questions about the case, Cherry told her she couldn’t talk about it because it’s still within the timeframe for a possible appeal.

“Lynn is a longtime supporter of Stonewall and I would think she would be fair in the case,” Moore said. “I’m confident she’s an ally to this community.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 19, 2010.

—  admin