Texas: A not-so-great state

As Perry eyes the presidency and Dewhurst makes a bid for the Senate, let’s look at the story the numbers really tell

Phyllis Guest | Taking NoteGuest.Phyllis.2

It seems that while David Dewhurst is running for the U.S. Senate, Rick Perry — otherwise known as Gov. Goodhair — is planning to run for president. I wonder what numbers they will use to show how well they have run Texas.

Could they cite $16 million? That’s the sum Perry distributed from our state’s Emerging Technology Fund to his campaign contributors.

Or maybe it is $4.1 billion. That’s the best estimate of the fees and taxes our state collects for dedicated purposes — but diverts to other uses.

Then again, it could be $28 billion. That’s the last published number for the state’s budget deficit, although Perry denied any deficit during his last campaign.

But let’s not get bogged down with dollar amounts. Let’s consider some of the state’s other numbers.

There’s the fact that Texas ranks worst in at least three key measures:

We are the most illiterate, with more than 10 percent of our state’s population unable to read a word. LIFT — Literacy Instruction for Texas — recently reported that half of Dallas residents cannot read a newspaper.

We also have the lowest percentage of persons covered by health insurance and the highest number of teenage repeat pregnancies.

Not to mention that 12,000 children have spent at least three years in the state welfare system, waiting for a foster parent. That’s the number reported in the Texas-loving Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, the Legislature has agreed to put several amendments to the Texas Constitution before the voters. HJR 63, HJR 109 plus SJR 4, SJR 16, and SJR 50 all appear to either authorize the shifting of discretionary funds or the issuance of bonds to cover expenses.

Duh. As if we did not know that bonds represent debt, and that we will be paying interest on those bonds long after Dewhurst and Perry leave office.

Further, this spring, the Lege decided that all voters — except, I believe, the elderly — must show proof of citizenship to obtain a state ID or to get or renew a driver’s license. As they did not provide any funds for the issuance of those ID cards or for updating computer systems to accommodate the new requirement, it seems those IDs will be far from free.

Also far from free is Perry’s travel. The Lege decided that the governor does not have to report what he and his entourage spend on travel, which is convenient for him because we taxpayers foot the bill for his security — even when he is making obviously political trips. Or taking along his wife and his golf clubs.

And surely neither Rick Perry nor David Dewhurst will mention the fact that a big portion of our state’s money comes from the federal government. One report I saw stated that our state received $17 billion in stimulus money, although the gov and his lieutenant berated the Democratic president for providing the stimulus.

And the gov turned down $6 billion in education funds, then accepted the funds but did not use them to educate Texans.

The whole thing — Dewhurst’s campaign and Perry’s possible campaign, the 2012-2013 budget, the recent biannual session of the Texas Legislature — seems like something Mark Twain might have written at his tongue-in-cheek best.

We have huge problems in public school education, higher education, health care, air pollution and water resources, to mention just a few of our more notable failures.

Yet our elected officials are defunding public education and thus punishing children, parents, and teachers. They are limiting women’s health care so drastically that our own Parkland Hospital will be unable to provide appropriate care to 30,000 women.

They are seeking a Medicaid “pilot program” that will pave the way for privatized medical services, which will erode health care for all but the wealthiest among us. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep the EPA from dealing with our polluted environment. They are doing absolutely nothing to ensure that Texas continues to have plenty of safe drinking water.

They are most certainly not creating good jobs.

So David Dewhurst and his wife Tricia prayed together and apparently learned that he should run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat. Now Rick Perry is planning a huge prayer rally Saturday, Aug. 6, at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

God help us.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Movies: Alex Pettyfer Doubled. Plus, Gael & Luis

Pettyferellen
 Alex Pettyfer taking his shirt off for Ellen two weeks ago. "It's customary"

GuestbloggerNATHANIEL ROGERS
…would live in the movie theater but for the poor internet reception. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.

 
 NOW PLAYING
Hollywood isn't as obvious a star-making factory as it was in the studio days when actors got long term contracts and were carefully molded To Be Loved By You. Now it's every struggling actor (and high powered agent) for themselves. Still, every once in a while you do feel that someone is being thrust at you eagerly by Tinseltown like, they're smiling in a grocery store under fluorescent lighting "free sample! free sample!" 

That seems to be what's going on with Alex Pettyfer, the British 20 year old model/actor who was taking his shirt off for Ellen Degeneres two weeks ago, presumably as a way of losing his American talk show virginity with enthusiasm. He's now on 3,000+ screens as the alien "number four" in I AM NUMBER FOUR. In the movie he seems to have acquired every actor's dream superpower, the ability to generate one's own key light.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP

Iamnumber4

He's broodily romancing Dianna Agron (Pettyfer's real life girlfriend). Since it's Dianna Agron from Glee and they're being all angsty in high school, you half expect someone to throw a slurpee.

Two weeks from now Pettyfer will be back on thousands of screens (maybe the same ones!) as the star of BEASTLY, a modern retelling of Beauty & The Beast. Surprisingly, he's not playing Beauty. Instead he is cursed with ugliness, which will require all of his thespian imagination to relate to. Said ugliness involves only bald headedness and some Edward Scissorhands style scarring plus tattoos, so it's not so much ugliness as imperfection, since there's still that bone structure and the bod'.

Pettyferbeastly

Weirdly his Beast look almost makes him a dead ringer (at a distance) for his foes in I AM NUMBER FOUR who are also baldheaded with scarring and tattoos.

 If this sounds like grasping at straws subject matter well you didn't really want to talk about BIG MAMMAS: LIKE FATHER LIKE SON, did you? Some weeks are… challenging at the multiplex.

EvenrainALSO OPENING 
In limited release the Mexican horror film WE ARE WHAT WE ARE arrives (and will be on IFC On Demand next week) featuring a fatherless family who uh…dine together. There's a gay subplot involving the eldest son and some heavy handed metaphors but it's completely scary and sickening which is probably the point of horror films, right? (I plead ignorance of the genre.)

If you live on the coasts, you can see the return of the awesome Gael García Bernal in EVEN THE RAIN (pictured left). The film was Spain's Oscar submission though it did not end up securing a nomination for the big night coming up (February 27th!). The film co-stars baldheaded Luis Tosar (who just lost the Spanish Oscar "The Goya" to Javier Bardem) who does not appear to have scarring or tattoos but who is, like Bernal, totally sexy. Just because Hollywood keeps saying bald = ugly/scary, that doesn't make it so.


Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet

Loughner’s parents may issue public statement shortly; plus the MSM and its ‘expert’ interviewees

Since the elder Loughners have not been accessible to the media since the tragedy, so this would be the first time the public would hear the family’s reaction to their son’s arrest. This WSJ article paints a strange portrait of the Arizona shooting suspect’s parents, perhaps unnecessarily negative since, as usual, the MSM has to hunt around for neighbors to talk to to fill space on a hot story.

Even in normal times, many on his block describe the elder Mr. Loughner as a reclusive man who had little time for neighborhood niceties…The parents told investigators they didn’t realize the severity of their son’s problems, say people familiar with the matter.

…Residents interviewed on the block said they barely knew the Loughners. Stephen Woods, who lives next door, had run-ins with Mr. Loughner over uncollected trash that he said were vituperative and hostile.

Once, Mr. Woods said, Mr. Loughner spotted him from a distance in a Wal-Mart parking lot and repeatedly shouted “Trash people!”

Speaking of filling space/air time, I saw a pathetic interview the other day on MSNBC. I don’t recall the anchor, but she was interviewing some young woman who “knew” Jared Lee Loughner.

It didn’t take long to figure out that the person didn’t know anything about the suspect that was worthwhile — she last saw/interacted with him in 2007! All she could convey is that he told her that he said he wanted to “change the world.” Of course that only led the anchor to try to ascertain what that meant, which led nowhere. The whole segment was a flush down the crapper. I know producers want to book “experts” but this was so pathetic I just had to turn the channel.

***

PLUS: Interview with Tucson’s mayor

There was an interview with Tucson’s Mayor Bob E. Walkup by Gwen Ifill of PBS Newshour about the attempted assassination of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. She asked about the tragedy’s effect on Tucson, and his thoughts on the political discourse that may have fueled the rampage. The transcript is below the fold.

GWEN IFILL:  Now, for more on the tragedy in Arizona, we turn to Mayor Bob Walkup.  He joins us from Tucson.

Welcome, Mr. Mayor.

You are quoted at saying this weekend that this was a tragic lesson.

For whom?

ROBERT WALKUP, Mayor of Tucson, Arizona:  Well, it is a tragedy.  It’s a tragedy for the city of Tucson clearly.

But it’s also a tragedy for the state of Arizona, and I think it’s a national tragedy that something like this has occurred.  It is a time for learning and it’s a time for prayer.  And it’s a time for understanding how something like this could really happen.

GWEN IFILL:  As an elected official, as a lawmaker in Arizona, in Tucson, what is it that you think you could have, should have, should be done to avoid something like this?

ROBERT WALKUP:  Well, I can tell you that since I got word of this on Saturday morning, and I went directly to the hospital, and then late in the evening participated in the candlelight vigil outside the hospital, I think it’s becoming very clear that the citizens of the city of Tucson believe that it’s time for us to get back to civility.

It’s time for us to start caring about each other.  It’s time for us to be kind to each other.  And we really need to start the process, so that all of us don’t have to fear an event like this that takes the lives of six people and injures another 14 people.  That’s what I’m hearing from the citizens of Tucson.

GWEN IFILL:  Are they asking you to do anything in particular, rather than pray and hope that things get better?  Is there anything specific they’re asking of their elected leaders?

ROBERT WALKUP:  Oh, absolutely.

And I think that they’re — not only what they’re asking, but we really need to take a look at the issue of security and how did something like this happen.  And a lot of people are trying to figure that out.

But what I think that we need to do is, we really need to — as a society, we need to establish civility, a pledge that all of us are going to get back to how we treat each other and kindness.  That does not mean that we can’t debate issues.

But we don’t have to target people.  And we don’t have to deal with people in great anger.  I — this is a time for caring.  This is time for understanding.

GWEN IFILL:  Mr. Mayor, you’re making a link between people caring for each other and civil discourse and a person who allegedly is unstable, mentally unstable.

In fact, we hear tonight late reports that his family has built a barricade and won’t let people in the house, the FBI in the house.  How do you make that link between those two kinds of behavior?

ROBERT WALKUP:  Well, I think this is something that society has really got to work with, because mental illness is not just a local issue.  This is a national issue, where we really need to put more emphasis in really understanding mental disease and mental issues.

This individual had, apparently, a considerable history that we should have begun to understand.  And we really need to — we in the political jobs in support of the people that have elected us, we get that kind of e-mail all the time.  And I think that it is time for us to say, you know, these are serious threats that we get.

We just cannot dismiss them as being somebody that cannot effect damage within a community.  We need to take it seriously.

GWEN IFILL:  You have been to the hospital.  And you have met with Gabrielle Giffords’ husband and also relatives of other victims.  How are they holding up?

ROBERT WALKUP:  Well, we’re down to a total number of the — total number of 14 people that were injured that were treated.

We’re down to 10 people, and it looks as though another three have been released today.  So I think we’re going to be starting tomorrow with about five to six people that are still — maybe seven — still remaining in the hospital.  

They’re doing well.  Gabby is doing as well as we could expect.  Her husband and I had a chance yesterday to go to her bedside and just stand and kind of look at her and kind of talk to her, even though she couldn’t hear us, and just pray for her recovery, which we all believe is essential and a great possibility for her to come back and do the job that she was elected to do.

GWEN IFILL:  You obviously worked closely with the congresswoman in her years in Congress.  She’s been there for a few years.  You have been mayor for a while.

What kind of a colleague was she?  What kind of a congresswoman was she, is she?

ROBERT WALKUP:  Well, I — yes, is she.

And it goes back to the time before she was even elected to the state legislature, back in the late 1990s, when she was a businessperson in the city of Tucson.  I knew her then.  But, interestingly enough, in the 2000-2003, she was a legislator and we worked on what we can do in Tucson to ensure that the University Medical Center had a very high-tech, functional, world-class trauma center.

She was involved in that process back in 2003.  And we have one of the best.  And, as I looked down at her, I was reminded of how we worked together to provide the trauma center that is saving her life.  And it was — for me, it was a very moving event.

GWEN IFILL:  Are there any plans so far for a public memorial or observance?

ROBERT WALKUP:  Yes, there is.

As a matter of fact, we haven’t scheduled it yet, but we believe that we’re going to try to get everybody together, bring in all the people that would like to — in a public way to be able to say we’re praying for all of the victims, the people that have died.  Funerals are scheduled for this week and next for all those people that just want to come together.

I believe that it’s going to be some time this Friday that we will have a public memorial service in the city of Tucson.  For all of the people that want to come and say, boy, we’re sorry, and we’re praying for you, and we’re praying for gabby to recover and get back on the job.  We love her dearly.

GWEN IFILL:  Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup, thank you so much for joining us.

JIM LEHRER:  The aftermath of the Tucson massacre unfolded on two fronts today.  The accused gunman was in court, while Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords lay gravely wounded in a hospital.

“NewsHour” correspondent Tom Bearden begins our extended coverage.

TOM BEARDEN:  Mourners gathered again today at a makeshift memorial in front of the University Medical Center in Tucson for wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of the shootings.

Inside, her doctors continued to express guarded optimism.

DR. G. MICHAEL LEMOLE JR., Chief of Neurosurgery, University Medical Center:  With regard to Congresswoman Giffords’ recovery at this phase in the game, no change is good.  And we have no change.  That is to say, she is still following those basic commands.  On top of that, the CAT scans are showing that there is no progression of that swelling.  We’re not out of the woods yet.

TOM BEARDEN:  During the evening, a steady stream of well wishers came to add to the memorial, leaving flowers, lighting candles.

WOMAN:  I mean, it’s just an absolutely profane act.  It’s shocking.  It’s been surreal.  And, you know, it really has, you know, obviously taken a toll on everybody here in Tucson.  It’s very, very saddening, deeply saddening.

TOM BEARDEN:  Giffords remains sedated three days after being shot in the head at point-blank range.

She had been greeting constituents at a supermarket in her Tucson area district when a lone gunman shot her, then opened fire on the crowd.  The suspected shooter, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, was apprehended at the scene.

Six were killed and 14 others were injured, including Giffords — among the dead, Gabe Zimmerman, Giffords’ director of community outreach, who had organized the day’s event, federal Judge John Roll.  He had just left church and stopped by to support Giffords, a good friend.  Phyllis Schneck, a retired librarian, Dorothy Morris — her husband is also among the wounded — Dorwin Stoddard, a retired construction worker, and 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, recently elected to her school’s student council.  She was there because of her interest in government.

In Phoenix, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pronounced her state grieving, but strong.  She appealed for unity in her annual state of the state address.  And she praised the young intern who applied pressure to Giffords’ head wound soon after the shooting.  The young man used his bare hands on a spot where a bullet entered her head and applied pressure to stem blood loss.

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), Arizona:  Daniel Hernandez, a University of Arizona junior, showed no fear in the face of gunfire.  His quick action in going to Gabby Giffords’ aid likely saved her life.

Daniel is here today.  And I’m going to ask him to stand and receive the thanks of a very grateful state.

Daniel.

(APPLAUSE)

Arizona is in pain, yes.  Our grief is profound.  We are yet in the first hours of our sorrow, but we have not been brought down.  We will never be brought down.

(APPLAUSE)

TOM BEARDEN:  In Washington, President Obama led the nation in a moment of silence to remember the victims.

Down Pennsylvania Avenue, members of Congress and staff filled the steps of the Capitol, and, at the Supreme Court, justices paused between arguments on two cases.  And in Earth orbit, Giffords’ brother-in-law, Commander Scott Kelly, led NASA ground control in a moment of silence from his position aboard the International Space Station.

SCOTT KELLY, NASA Commander:  As I look out the window, I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful.  Unfortunately, it is not.

The crew of ISS Expedition 26 and the flight control centers around the world would like to observe a moment of silence in honor of all the victims, which include my sister-in-law Gabrielle Giffords, a caring and dedicated public servant.

TOM BEARDEN:  And, at the White House this afternoon, President Obama again expressed remorse.

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States:  Obviously, all of us are still grieving and in shock from the tragedy that took place.  Gabby Giffords and others are still fighting to recover.  Families are still absorbing the enormity of their losses.

We have a criminal investigation that is ongoing, and charges that no doubt will be brought against the perpetrator of this heinous crime.

TOM BEARDEN:  The shopping center where the shootings took place partially reopened this morning, but the crime scene itself is still surrounded by yellow tape.

FBI agents used metal detectors to comb through the gravel in the parking lot median looking for more evidence.  The accused shooter is maintaining his silence, according to police.  He made his first appearance in federal court in Phoenix.

Loughner made no statement, but answered questions from the judge and said he understood the charges against him.  He was ordered held without bail.  Authorities filed five counts against Loughner yesterday, including attempted assassination of a member of Congress.  More charges are expected.

Meanwhile, more details emerged about Loughner’s life before the shooting, with friends and fellow students painting the picture of a disturbed and paranoid social outcast.  He had a history of drug use and was rejected by the Army for failing a drug test when he attempted to join after high school in 2008.

This fall, he spiraled deeper, dropping out of community college after being cited for multiple disruptions and receiving a suspension in September.  Loughner was told he would need a mental health review before returning.

In a June 14 e-mail, a classmate wrote: “We have a mentally unstable person in the class.  He is one of those whose picture you see on the news after he has come into class with an automatic weapon.”

Prosecutors also said a letter found in a safe at the home where Loughner lived with his parents indicated he planned the rampage ahead of time.  The note contained the words, “I planned ahead, my assassination and Giffords’.”  There was also a letter from the congresswoman thanking Loughner for attending an event at a Tucson mall in 2007, indicating they had had previous contact.

?MDNM?CAITLIN ANN PARKER, Friend of Jared Lee Loughner:  He asked her some question that made absolutely no sense to me.  But he said: “I can’t believe she doesn’t understand it.  Politicians just don’t get it.”

TOM BEARDEN:  Also providing clues, several YouTube videos posted by Loughner featuring rambling text against a dark background.  In one, he described inventing a new U.S. currency and complained about illiteracy in Giffords’ Arizona congressional district.  And versions of MySpace page since pulled from the Internet included a mysterious “Goodbye friends” message published hours before the attack.  He also added, “Please don’t be mad at me.”

Saturday’s deadly shooting spree was not a surprise to one of Loughner’s neighbors.

MAN:  I told my mother I thought he was a serial killer the first time I saw him.

TOM BEARDEN:  Back in Washington, congressional business was postponed, including a vote scheduled this week to repeal the president’s health care law.

Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York said she planned to introduce legislation in the coming days to limit access to the type of gun Loughner legally purchased, a Glock .9-millimeter handgun.

Nine-one-one calls released from the scene describe that weapon.

CALLER:  Looks like the guy had a semi-automatic pistol.  He went in.  He just started firing.  And then he ran.

CALLER:  She’s hit.  I do believe she’s breathing.  There’s multiple people shot.

911 OPERATOR:  OK.  Oh, my God.

TOM BEARDEN:  There was beefed-up security at Giffords’ office today, and federal law enforcement officials are planning a security briefing for members of Congress on Wednesday.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

New Year’s Day Open Thread – plus a guide to debating a ‘Christian’

Happy new year everyone — best wishes to all the PHB Baristas, Blenders & peers who make working, writing & fighting for LGBT equality worth it all. It’s an open thread to chat, share links and hand out the java for those who over-imbibed…

***

A bonus — from the folks at AtheismResource.com, a handy guide to taking on non-reality-based fundies (should you wish to expend any energy doing so).


Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

MUSIC NEWS: Duffy, Natasha Bedingfield, Erasure, Hercules and Love Affair, Kylie Minogue, Daft Punk, ABBA, Deadmau5, plus five free mp3′s

DUFFY_header

GuestbloggerMODERN TONIC

Modern Tonic — a free daily email delivering gay-approved pop culture gems before they get co-opted by everyone else — presents a weekly music update here on Towleroad.

RoadTODAY’S FEATURED NEW RELEASES:
 
EndlesslyAfter winning a Grammy® for her retro-fabulous debut Rockferry, Welsh singer Duffy doesn't stray far from her hit-making template on her follow-up Endlessly. Yet why should she? The highlights of her debut — the aching title track, the London tube-station inspired "Warwick Avenue," and the soul sparking "Mercy" — were guided with expert ears by the formed London Suede guitarist Bernard Butler. For Endlessly, Duffy recruited Albert Hammond of "It Never Rains in Southern California" fame (he's also the proud papa of the Strokes' guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr.). Hammond brings Duffy's blue-eyed Motown soul into the early 70's and mines her sensitive vibrato for a gritty AM-radio vibe. The premiere single "Well, Well, Well," with backing from the Roots, could fit perfectly between Al Green's "Let’s Stay Together" and the Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There" on a 1972 radiocast. "My Boy" harkens to the danceable soft rock that predated disco. And the title track is a gorgeous ballad as languid and warm as a long summer's day. The Euro-disco of "Lovestruck" sounds like it floated over from Kylie Minogue's Aphrodite; a baffling misstep that mars an otherwise pristine collection.   
 
Natasha As good as Natasha Bedingfield's songs can be, she's always seemed a bit anonymous, one in a line of solid but undistinguished pop singers. But her third album, Strip Me, might change all that — not only does it play like a non-stop singles machine, it's infused with more personality than ever before. First single "Touch" — produced and co-written by veteran Steve Kipner (Christina's "Genie In a Bottle") — is a bottom-heavy pop rave with crossover club potential. The title track, co-written with Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, has a mid-tempo beat so slinky you're likely to start removing your clothes before the end of the first chorus. And Swedish beat-master Andreas Kleerup steps out of his dance-friendly comfort zone to offer up the airy synth ballad "Break Thru." Bedingfield’s in great voice throughout — clear and gritty; if this is her stripped, we wouldn't mind if she got naked more often.


Towleroad December 7, 2010 by moderntonic.com

RoadMUSIC NEWS:
 
ErasureRoad Erasure has re-recorded "A Little Respect" with the youth chorus from the Hetrick-Martin Institute as a fundraiser for both the Institute (home of the Harvey Milk High School) and Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Fund. It's available now at digital outlets.

Road The worst album covers of 2010.

Road No U.S. release date for Hercules and Love Affair's sophomore album Blue Songs yet (it's out in Europe January 31). Listen to the album's lead single, "My House," here.

Road An early review of Michael Jackson's posthumous Michael, out next week: "Not as terrible as you may think. I mean, we're not saying it's good, but…"

Road Kylie Minogue has released a digital bundle featuring her cover of "Santa Baby" from a few years back, plus a brand new recording of "Let It Snow." Stream the new track in our player above.

Road Katy Perry joined Glee hottie Darren Criss for a few lines of "Teenage Dream" during a live a cappella performance (with the Warblers!) at a Trevor Project fundraiser in L.A. Sunday.

Tinadico Road MPFREE: We've got a great collection of free mp3's in our player today. In order: "Synchronize" by Discodeine (aka French producers Pentile and Pilooski) featuring vocals from Brit-pop legend Jarvis Cocker, out today on DFA Records; Album track "Love All Around" from songstress Tina Dico's seventh studio album, Welcome Back Colour (a collection of greatest hits and new acoustic recordings), out February 1; "Cover Your Tracks," the new single from Canadian indie rock/ethereal pop band Young Galaxy; and a cheerful slice of holiday pop called "California Christmas" from NYC-based Sleepy Rebels off their new album Bah! Humbug!; the Razor N Guido Bango mix of Austin, Texas dance siren Zayra's "Baby Likes To Bang" off her EP of the same name.

Road Adam Lambert on his Grammy nomination and the American Idol "stigma."

Road MORE NEW RELEASES:
 
Tron The dancing French robots of Daft Punk return for their sinister, bleak and ambient soundtrack to — mais oui!Tron: Legacy.

A hybrid documentary, Feist's Look At What the Light Did Now (DVD/CD) follows the journey of her Grammy®-nominated release The Reminder and includes live footage, videos and more.

ABBA — the Swedish Beatles — offer a remastered edition of Gold, including 19 classic hits and a DVD's worth of remastered videos for all the dancing queens on your holiday list. (Play an ABBA quiz here.)
 
Deadmau5 Though a giant mousehead is involved, it's not Disney World when Deadmau5 returns with 4×4=12, eleven fresh dance tracks that prove that it must be hard to multiply inside a hot and sweaty mask.

RoadMUSIC VIDEOS:

Sufjan Stevens — "Too Much"
To go with the experimental orchestral folksiness of his latest The Age of Adz, Sufjan Stevens offers this pixilated, eye-popping video.

Darwin Deez — "DNA"
A couple dances through the end of their love from the kitchen to the outdoors to the bottom of a pool in New Yorker Darwin Deez's jumpy tune.

Edei — "Loved"
Twenty two-year-old Londoner Edei pines in her U.K. bedsit on this sweetly longing single — featuring the bass line from Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" — from her forthcoming, hotly anticipated 2011 debut.

Hurts — "All I Want for Christmas Is New Year's Day"
The dour Manchester duo Hurts forgoes the holiday blues by yearning for a bad year to end and a happy new one to begin. Lots of snow, a graveyard, an open grave, and a very Gothic vibe is attained.








Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Saturday Open Thread…miscellany plus Rachel on KO, and a grave injustice for Oscar Grant

It’s an open thread, chat away…here are some things I’ve been Facebooking and Tweeting about since yesterday:

The benign:

* I finally finished paying off my Subaru Outback! (Yes it’s a stereotypical lesbian household – both of us have Subarus)

* WTF happened to Fall in the Triangle? @durhamncalert “FREEZE WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 2 AM TO 8 AM EST SUNDAY.” http://s3z.us/cm.htm. The Good News: we broke out the flannel sheets…nice and toasty. The Bad News: the furbabies got me out of bed to feed them. Brrr.

The hardcore:

* Lesbian ‘Corrective Rape’ Victim has her day in Court.

This is the face of South African lesbian who was beaten and raped for five hours by a man who told her he wanted to “turn her into a woman”.  This is the face of a warrior who despite all odds, trauma, and police victimization, found her way to Court today by public transportation, to testify against her brutal attacker, who remained free on bail  to in essence board the same bus. The Police were simply not willing to give this young woman a ride to the Court. A spokesperson for Millicent Gaika contacted us back in April and we have been shedding light on the plight of Lesbian “corrective rape” in South Africa ever since.  Today was Millicent Gaika’s day in court.

* Cop Johannes Mehserle receives 2 years w/credit for time served for shooting Oscar Grant, an unarmed, subdued man, at point blank range. (San Francisco Bay View) The judge tossed out gun enhancement charge.

Today we had a gross miscarriage of justice. Judge Robert Perry threw out the gun enhancement clause that could have added 10 years and then gave Johannes Mehserle a sentence of two years with credit for 292 days for time served. Football star Plexico Burris did more time shooting himself than Mehserle. Michael Vick did more time [for dog fighting] than Mehserle.

* Rachel Maddow on the suspension of Keith Olbermann. “On cable news and cable not-news”:


Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

FALL 2010 MUSIC PREVIEW: Mark Ronson, Robbie Williams, Liza Minnelli, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, Vincent Minor, Antony & The Johnsons, OMD, Yaz, George Michael, Hurts; plus eight free mp3s

Markronson_lead

 
6a00d8341c730253ef0134864b9b2f970c-piMODERN TONIC

Modern Tonic — a daily email that delivers gay-approved pop culture gems (before they've been co-opted by everyone else) — presents a weekly music update here on Towleroad.

Road SPECIAL EDITION: FALL 2010 MUSIC PREVIEW

Unlike the business-as-usual that happens right after Labor Day — back to school, back to work — this fall is full of welcome returns, from old-school influences like Yaz and OMD to that crazy Cee-Lo Green and Liza with a Z. Plenty of fresh upstarts have us excited as well. For the full audio/visual experience, we have twelve new tracks for you to stream or download just below. Here's to a season of kick-ass music!



Towleroad – Fall 2010 Music Preview by moderntonic.com Road

IT'S RAINING MEN:

Markronsoncover Mark Ronson & the Business Intl — Record Collection
(September 28): The man who brought Amy Winehouse to the masses returns with Record Collection, an album that curbs his retro soul proclivities for a trek through the ‘80s and ‘90s on 14 original songs. The busy DJ-producer (pictured above) gets help from Boy George (vocals on "Somebody to Love Me"), D’Angelo ("Glass Mountain Trust"), the London Gay Men’s Chorus ("Introducing the Business") and debuts his own vocal chops for the first time, singing on two songs, including the title track (backed by Nick Rhodes on keyboards and Simon Le Bon!).

Photo_BrandonFl_300RGB-1 Brandon Flowers — Flamingo (September 14): The Killers’ flamboyant frontman drops his first solo release, Flamingo. He’s still in thrall to the cinematic sweep of Bruce Springsteen on the single "Crossfire," with a sprinkling of New Wave influence, as on "Only the Young." Still, it’s more Sam’s Town than Hot Fuss, with songs about his biggest inspirations, namely, his Mormon faith ("Playing with Fire") and his hometown of Las Vegas ("Hard Enough," a duet with Jenny Lewis).
 
Cee-Lo Green — The Lady Killer (December 7): For anyone predetermined to dislike The Lady Killer — the Gnarls Barkley singer’s first solo album in six years —  Cee-Lo Green has two words to say:  "F**k You." That song’s received about five million hits so far on YouTube. (A clean version, "Forget You," went to radio.) It’s the peppiest kiss-off we’ve heard in ages and could become as ubiquitous as Gnarls Barkley’s unstoppable "Crazy." He’s got our attention and now we can’t wait to find out if the rest of the album’s as much nasty fun.

RW-hits-520x520 Robbie Williams — In and Out of Consciousness: The Greatest Hits 1990-2010 (October 12): Right, he’s still not a star here and the Brokeback Mountain video for his latest single "Shame," featuring his old Take That mate Gary Barlow, isn’t going to change his fortunes. But it’s a gorgeously earthy mid-tempo ballad that fits alongside what’s now an impressive collection of songs from over 20 years. On two discs, the neophyte can hear such gems as "Rock DJ," the Pet Shops Boys-assisted "No Regrets" and, of course, "Angels" (so popular in the U.K. it’s practically a national anthem). For Robbie fanatics, two other configurations, available as imports, include a third CD of B-sides and rarities (Deluxe Edition) and three DVDs of live performances and videos (Ultimate Edition).

Also: Chromeo — Business Casual (September 14); Maroon 5 — Hands All Over (September 21); Seal — 6: Commitment (September 28); Neil Young — Le Noise (September 28); Tricky — Mixed Race (October 5); Ursula 1000 — Fuzz EP (October 5 digital/October 19 physical); Simian Mobile Disco — Is Fixed (October 12); Styrofoam — Disco Synthesizers & Daily Tranquilizers (October 12); Elton John/Leon Russell — The Union (October 19); William Orbit — Pieces in a Modern Style 2 (October 26); Bryan Ferry — Olympia (October 26); Jamiroquai — Rock Dust Light Star (November TBA); Lee Dewyze — title TBD (November 16)

RoadSingle Ladies (Put a Ring On It):

Liza CD cover - photo credit Ruven Afanador Liza Minnelli — Confessions (September 28): The 14 tracks of Liza’s twelfth studio album are a piano bar lover’s wet dream. Accompanied by her long-time pianist Billy Stritch, Liza — yes, we’re on a first name basis — offers straight up, elegant takes on some songbook classics ("At Last," "All the Way") with a few esoteric choices. Our favorite? It’s a toss-up between the Billie Holiday chestnut "I Must Have That Man" and Sonny Burke’s "He’s a Tramp." Meet us downtown at the Duplex and we’ll decide it in a sing-off.

Mariah Carey — Merry Christmas II You (November 2): While the blogosphere has been focused on Mariah Carey's yet-to-be-confirmed pregnancy, Mimi herself has been hard at work on yet another holiday record. This time, rumor has it, she's written and recorded two songs with Hairspray composer Marc Shaiman, "Christmas Time Is in the Air Again" and "One Child." Perhaps it's redundant that Our Lady of the Octaves is going all Christmas on us again, but since her 1994 release Merry Christmas was a contemporary holiday classic, we're all ears.

Photo_NickiMina_300RGB Nicki Minaj — Pink Friday (November 23): The Trinidad-born American rapper/collaboration queen will release her long-awaited debut in time for Thanksgiving. It looks to be a cornucopia of fresh rhymes and beats, with some smart sample choices; single "Your Love" — which features a vocal sample of Annie Lennox’s "No More 'I Love You's'" — is a salty slow burn, the grime-y "Massive Attack," with rapper/producer Sean Garrett is bottom-heavy hip-hop reggae. She’s also released some fantastic one-offs: her turn with will.i.am on "Check It Out" quotes The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" on its way to AutoTune’d glory, she added spice to Mariah Carey’s "Up Out My Face" and her "mixtapes" are genius (be sure to seek out the super-filthy "Ice Cream Man"). This is one artist to watch.

Also: Olivia Newton-John — Grace and Gratitude Renewed (September 14); Michelle Branch — Everything Comes and Goes (September 14); Zayra — Baby Likes to Bang EP (September 14); Paula Cole — Ithaca (September 21); Jane Monheit — Home (September 21); Shontelle — No Gravity (September 21); Nellie McKay — Home Sweet Mobile Home (September 28); KT Tunstall — Tiger Suit (October 5); Ciara — Basic Instinct (October 5); Shelby Lynne — Merry Christmas (October 12); Juliette Commagere — The Procession (October 26); Rihanna — Loud (November 16); Keri Hilson — No Boys Allowed (November TBA); Norah Jones — …Featuring (November 2); Annie Lennox — A Christmas Cornucopia (November 22)

RoadJohnny, Are You Queer?

Vincentminor3 Vincent Minor — Vincent Minor (September 21): Has Rufus Wainwright made the world safe for opulent gay singer-songwriters? We think so. L.A.-based Michael Mangia — who records as Vincent Minor — is a maverick in much the manner of Wainwright, able to compress a century of compositional genres at will. The result? A stunning debut as at home with a momentous music-hall whimsy ("Late Night Show") as it is with twisted psychedelic balladry (the Harry Nilsson-meets-George Gershwin of "So F**ked Up"). His is a fresh, innovative voice, and anything but minor.
 
Antony and the Johnsons — Swanlights (October 12): It’s nearly impossible to describe the otherworldly contours of Antony Hegarty’s astonishing voice. Whether he’s elegizing the destruction of the planet (as he did on last year’s The Crying Light) or plumbing new depths in a cover of Beyoncé’s "Crazy in Love," his vibrato-drenched phrasing is a sucker-punch to the gut. What new surprises and depths of feeling are in store for us with Swanlights? If recent R&B-tinged song "Thank You for Your Love" is any indication, we can expect simpler arrangements but the same expressive directness, plus cameo-weirdness from Bjőrk on duet "Flétta."

Diamond Rings Face Close Up Diamond Rings — Special Affections (October 26): John O’Regan — the gangly Canadian with an affinity for Bowie-esque eye shadow who records as Diamond Rings — traffics in a hyper-melodic strain of New Wave revisionism on his debut Special Affections. He meshes the icy grandeur of OMD with the romantic swoon of the Magnetic Fields on "On Our Own," and sounds like The National in love with New Order on "Wait & See." We miss the house-jumping rhythms of his single "Show Me Your Stuff" — not included here — but there’s plenty to love without it.

Dark Dark Dark — Wild Go (October 5): If Regina Spektor fronted world-music aficionados Beirut, they might sound something like the Minneapolis group Dark Dark Dark. Songwriters Nona Marie Invie and Marshall LaCount’s sophomore album Wild Go is a gorgeous indie hybrid. On the single "Daydreaming," Invie speculates about "all the unspeakable things" with all the intensity of Fiona Apple thrashing half-naked on a floor. And LaCount’s reedy tenor anchors Invies’ haunting countermelody on the eerie waltz "Heavy Heart."

Also: La Cage Aux Folles: New Broadway Cast Recording (September 28)

RoadPop Muzik:

OMD2 Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark — History of Modern (September 28): Though we love the bands we like to call "retro electro" (La Roux, Kids of 88, etc.), we still enjoy getting our kicks at the source. OMD’s eleventh release, History of Modern, stands tall as a follow-up to their classics Architecture & Morality, Junk Culture and Crush. Opener "New Babies: New Toys" is sleek New Wave goodness. The single "If You Want It" updates the yearning openness of "If You Leave." And — wait — is that Aretha Franklin’s sampled vocals on the robotically funky "Save Me?" Why, yes it is. Damn!

Yaz — Reconnected Live (September 28):  Whether you call them Yazoo or Yaz, the New Wave duo’s 2009 reunion concerts were special, and here’s proof — a double-disc of euphoria featuring the hits "Nobody’s Diary," "Don’t Go" and "Situation" (not about the Jersey Shore himbo). Alison Moyet’s never been in finer voice — that husky soul croon’s like a warm blanket of memories — and knob-twiddler Vince Clarke’s better here than he ever was with Depeche Mode or Erasure.

Faith George Michael — Faith (Special Edition) (October 5): When he isn’t trying to cop a feel from the Beverly Hills police or driving under the influence of Class C narcotics, George Michael — you might remember — is a pop star. If you want to jog your memory, along comes this Special Edition of his bestselling Faith, with two CDs featuring the remastered album, 12-inches and B-sides, and a special edition with a DVD of interviews and music videos.
   
RoadNew Moon On Monday:

PastedGraphic-4 For those always on the lookout for fresh meat (and you know we’re talking to you), this autumn check out Deluka (pictured) and Shit Robot. The U.K.’s Deluka offers stomping retro electro on You Are the Night (September 21 digital; October 12 CD). Front-woman Ellie Innocenti is not so innocent on tracks like the glitchy opener "OMFG" and power popping single "Cascade." DFA artist and DJ Marcus Lambkin — who records as Shit Robot — drops (the brilliantly titled) From the Cradle to the Rave (September 21), nine club-friendly tracks like the Barry White send-up of "I Found Love" and the sweet modern disco of "Losing My Patience," with vocals from Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor.

Also: Hope — Hope (October TBA)

RoadTODAY'S NEW RELEASES:

Hurts1 Out yesterday in the U.K. (no U.S. release date set yet), Hurts’ much-anticipated debut Happiness is synth-duo drama at its most heightened. The Manchester pair of Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson channel Tears for Fears on single "Wonderful Life" and invite Kylie Minogue along for a menacing ride on "Devotion."

California's Sara Bareilles follows up her smash Little Voice and its number one hit "Love Song" with Kaleidoscope Heart, 13 easy-rocking tunes that will wind down your summer and warm your heart.

Robyn_Body-Talk-Pt-2_500x500 Disco pixie Robyn keeps cranking 'em out this year. Body Talk Pt. 2 consists of eight tunes of streamlined dance highlighted by a full-band version of the previously acoustic "Hang With Me" and "U Should Know Better," a raging slab of electroclash with Snoop Dogg.

The gloomy New York quartet Interpol bid farewell to bassist Carlos D on their self-titled fourth, 10 sinuous tracks of dark indie tunes. Mr. D. goes out in style on the bass-heavy "Summer Well" and the prickly single "Barricade."

Also: Jerry Lee Lewis — Mean Old Man; The Thermals — Personal Life; Venetian Snares — My So-Called Life; Ludo — Prepare the Preparations; Brendan James — Brendan James; Helmet — Seeing Eye Dog


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

AZ Gov. Jan ‘SB 1070′ Brewer says no future debates for her (plus a poll)

If you haven’t seen the video, you’ll get a chance after this:

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is apparently done with participating in gubernatorial debates, because she is terrible at them. Per Jillian Rayfield at TPM:
Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has put the kibosh on all future debates with her Arizona gubernatorial opponent Terry Goddard (D), after her rather embarrassing display at Wednesday’s debate. “I don’t believe that things come out in proper context in an adversarial atmosphere,” she defended herself.

My follow-up question would have probably been, “What is the proper context for your statement, and I quote, ‘…’” in which the ellipsis represents twenty seconds of silent dumbfoundment, but that’s beside the point.

Here’s where you get to figure out the context: drunk, brain-fart, brain-dead or “overprepped”…


Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

NC: PHB exclusive video of NOM’s Brian Brown at Raleigh rally – plus I am mistaken for a fundie (!)

My high-quality vid is still uploading, but I have this lower-res version for those excited to see the flopsweat on Brian Brown’s brow ASAP. So the background first — I did this on my lunch hour (kind of a long lunch since it takes about a 1/2 hour to get to Raleigh), and I drove a work colleague with me who hadn’t been to one of these fundie rallies before. Robyn was quite excited as I described the decomposing influence of NOM as its tour has worn on.

It’s hot here this week, so it was over 95 degrees and when we drove down Morgan Street, which was the dividing street between our anti-NOM rally and NOM’s zombies, our side had signs saying “Honk for Equality” which was the rallying call to drown out NOM’s speakers, which was quite effective in rattling Brown. We found a parking space a block away (!) and I quickly got up the block, turned the camera on, and got a pass of the protesters and then marched up to the NOM crowd and zeroed in on Brown, who was just getting warmed up…you may hear my editorial “OMG” comments in the background. :P



Brian Brown urged supporters this afternoon to stand and urge their legislators to support a constitutional amendment to protect marriage: “If you move forward with a marriage amendment in North Carolina, you will show the government where we stand.” The way will not always be easy, however: “In Atlanta, some attempted to attack Dr. Alveda King and smear her – she greeted it with love.”

And for even greater effect, there were two NOM supporters behind me at various points getting the spirit inside them and they would yell out “Yes! Praise Jesus” or some such nonsense in response to the speaker spouting outright homophobic blather. I was having a hard time not cracking up at the sad spectacle.

As I said in my earlier post (“NC: NOM’s pathetic stop in Raleigh – another FAIL-O-RAMA“), the National Organization for Marriage continues its disastrous tour that has crashed and burned repeatedly here in the South, with today’s embarrassment in Raleigh a festive smackdown of bigotry. There was no organized effort on our side — all of it was grassroots activism via Facebook groups that turned out over 200 people. On NOM’s side – maybe 50. It may have been even less, since some of the people I counted looked to be lunchtime curious onlookers, not the hardcore faithful. And there were a lot of cops, as in way too many for the given task, and there was a large media presence, so when you see the photos in the slideshow of the shaded area where NOM is, that thin crowd if you take tha latter away, would be pitiful.

There were several stand-up comic natural marriage advocates present, including was the head of the local bigot parade in this state, the North Carolina Family Policy Council, Bill Brooks and Mark Creech, Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina. Creech was particularly entertaining.

Ian Palmquist, the executive director of Equality North Carolina was at the rally and I grabbed him for an interview to ask him about the reaction to the grassroots demonstration and NOM’s weak, bizarre stop in our state.

When my colleague Robyn got a glimpse of Brown as the event was breaking up, she said:

“Oh, my he has a history, doesn’t he?

I said:

You mean as he’s in the closet?

Robyn:

Who on earth is he kidding? There’s no way he’s straight. He’s a desperate man.


Robyn.

Now what happened next was beyond surreal. This middle-aged woman with a floppy hat on and a clipboard in her hand, looking a bit wild-eyed, came over and asked us if we wanted to sign up for some “scientifically-based information on marriage.” Robyn and I looked at each other and knew exactly where this was going. I said:

Pam: Scientific information? What are you talking about?

Fundie: I’m with The Ruth Institute (a “project of the National Organization for Marriage) and I have literature I can share with you…

Pam: I’m sorry, I’m not interested…I’m married to a woman.

PREGNANT PAUSE…FUNDIE JAW OPEN. Clearly she thought I was straight and on her side.

Robyn: I am married to a woman as well.

PREGNANT PAUSE…FUNDIE JAW OPENING WIDER. Oh NOES, her Gaydar is broken for sure! A fly could have entered and buzzed around in her piehole. Finally she regains her composure and says…

Fundie: You’re marriage is not real. You’re not married in the state of NC.

Pam: No, you’re right. But when I go to visit my relatives in NY, I’m married. If I go to Iowa, I’m married, if I go to Massachusetts I’m married…

Fundie (interrupting, voice shaking): Your marriage is a legal fraud, that doesn’t matter, what matters is natural marriage.

Pam (interrupting): My marriage is not a fraud…and I don’t need your literature.

Fundie (turning and walking away, head exploding in anger): You’re being rude…

Pam: Hey you’re the one who came up to me first…(laughing).

Robyn and I laughed the entire ride back to work because this woman 1) pegged us both as straight and kindred spirits, 2) clearly hasn’t run into this “problem” before, and 3) had a meltdown that was priceless.

***

The also random oddities about the event today.

While I halfway expect to get fan mobbed at Netroots Nation, I really don’t expect that down here at home. When I walked up to the corner to shoot more video, a whole bunch of people demonstrating were yelling out my name and cheering, and saying hi.

Of course this was a bit embarrassing, because I’m standing here next to my co-worker who knows me as the IT Manager at Duke Press, a position that clearly isn’t what is causing the commotion. The old alter ego thing, worlds colliding.

But I know that the greeting was genuine, and I do like meeting readers, so I waved and yelled out hi and crossed the street over to them and spoke to those who wanted to say hello or take photos with me. Sigh. I guess my days of local anonymity are numbered.

***

Anyway, when I went back across the street to do more NOM taping, I’m just walking all the way up to the front with the media (I had no credentials) walked around the side of the speaker stand, getting good shots. I go back across to our side to take photos of the rainbow rally. I do this a few times and then I run into one of those attending on our side and he alerts me that the police had chased him away from the NOM zombie side. Apparently they did not want anyone on the pro-equality side anywhere near where they had their permit to speak.

Well I was all up NOM’s butt taping and none of the cops came up to me to say anything, even though I was clearly shooting on the conflicting sides and wasn’t designated as press. That was really strange. I’m not complaining, but I thought I stuck out like a sore thumb. Then again, if that fundie with the clipboard was fooled…  

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright