Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"All governments lie"

I.F. Stone, one of the greatest journalists this country ever produced, once said:
All governments lie, disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.
What governments lie about most are wars: why they are starting them, how they are going and when and how they will be victorious. The founders of this country gave the exclusive responsibility of declaring war to Congress, therefore Presidents who want to start and/or escalate wars have to lie in order to convince Congress to let them. That's why governments hate people who tell the truth. Nothing interferes more with the smooth workings of U. S. administrations than the truth. Granted the "Afghan Papers" don't compare with the "Pentagon Papers" in terms of what they reveal, but what they are doing is provoking a new conversation about Afghanistan, that may be reward enough. We need to thank those who tell the truth, not harass them.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Kids are All Right

We saw The Kids Are All Right last weekend. The most important thing about The Kids is, as the title tells you, the kids are all right. In fact, I think, they're better than all right. That's important to counteract all the homophobic nonsense about gay men and lesbians parenting children. And I would add that it conforms to every gay and lesbian household I personally know. The same, however, is not true of the moms. Nic (Annette Bening) is a doctor and has a full professional life. Jules (Julianne Moore), on the other hand, has done the bulk of the parental chores. Now that the kids are leaving or on the verge of leaving the nest, she is trying to build a work life for herself and getting very little support from Nic, in fact, Nic can be quite derisive, even in front of the kids. I think the reason Nic witholds support is because she is a bit of a control freak and sees Jules building her own work life as a threat, but it's at the core of their problems.

The second most interesting thing about The Kids is that it's a very traditional film. The only contemporary aspect of the film is the lesbian-headed family; otherwise it's a very conventional story that could have been made 20, 40 or even 60 years ago with a man and a woman in the leads. It's essentially about how an existing unit (Nic, Jules, Joni and Laser) are affected when a new force enters the picture. Especially when there is a chink in the original unit (Nic's lack of support for Jules' ambitions).

The new element enters the picture when the kids, particularly Laser, seek out the sperm donor "father" (the same one for both kids) who turns out to be Paul (Mark Ruffalo) a thorougoing womanizer who owns a restaurant. It's his garden that sets the stage for film's real drama. Unlike the unsupportive Nic, Paul can offer Jules her first landscaping job in the garden and is very supportive as she proceeds. She is very grateful and falls into bed with him. As far as I can tell neither of them intended it to happen but not surprisingly it does. One other thing that's important to emphasize is that I don't think Jules ever questions her sexuality - she identifies as a lesbian and continues to be a lesbian. She falls into bed with Paul because she's greatful for his support and unhappy at home - hardly an unusual scenario. It is important to note that after a good deal more drama in the end Jules and Nic remain together.

The moral of this story is that whatever our sexuality, we don't always make the smartest choices, but movies would be unbearably boring if we did. From Jerry Springer to Shakespeare, after all, drama is the product of our human frailties and stupidities. But don't forget the kids are alright. Go see it. It's a very good movie.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuli Kupferberg - Poet, musician and all-around political provocateur - dies at 86.

Tuli Kupferberg, one of the founders of the 1960's anti-war band the Fugs, who LA Times music critic Randy Lewis calls "A songwriter, poet, author, cartoonist and all-around sociopolitical provocateur" died yesterday (Monday). Village Voice music critic Robert Cristagau dubbed the Fugs: "the Lower East Side's first true underground band." His Beat comrade Alan Ginsburg had already immortalized Kupferberg in Howl as "the one who “jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown." Just for the record it was actually the Manhattan Bridge, but Ginsburg's entitled to some poetic license. Kupferberg was also also mentioned in the prose poem "Memorial Day 1971" by Ted Berrigan and Anne Waldman. Tuli was born Naftali.

Rarely do we lose two such significant counter-culture icons in one week as Harvey Peckar and Tuli Kupferberg. We are poorer for their passing.

Harvey Pekar, comic book icon, dead at 70

Harvey Pekar was born in Cleveland (1939) and died in Cleveland (yesterday-Monday) and he became a comic book icon by turning his life experience - as a music critic and 40 years as a file clerk in a Veterans Administration hospital into a graphic series he called American Splendor. If you never read any of his work, you may have seen the movie version of his story - American Splendor - with Paul Giamatti playing him. Pekar was not an artist so his friend and also comic book great R. Crumb did the illustrations for the early issues of American Splendor. Other artists took over later.

In the 1980s there were a number of theatrical versions of American Splendor, one starring Dan Castellaneta (the voice of "Homer"). For Harvey Pekar everyday life in America was the meat of his art. In addition to American Splendor he also created Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History (2008), The Beats (2009) and with his wife, Joyce Brabner, Our Cancer Year (1994) about his struggle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.He also had an on again off again relationship with David Letterman (on NBC) when he heavily criticized NBC-owner General Electric.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Federal Judge Rules Ban on Gay Marriage Is Unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro took a stand in favor of equal rights for gay man and lesbians by ruling in Boston Thursday that the federal law banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right of a state to define the institution and therefore denies married gay couples some federal benefits.

He ruled in favor of gay couples' rights in two separate challenges to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law, the repeal of which the Obama administration has supported. The rulings apply only to Massachusetts but could have broader implications if they're upheld on appeal. These rulings still leave states free to discriminate against gay men and lesbians.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

July 8: Move the 2011 All-Star Game Out of Arizona

JULY 8, 12 noon

NYC Rally at Major League Baseball headquarters

MLB Headquarters – 245 Park Ave (46St & Park Ave)

Move the 2011 All-Star Game Out of Arizona
Protest Arizona Anti-Immigrant Laws!
Support Immigration Reform not Racial Profiling!

Let’s send a message to Arizona: we oppose the un-American law (SB1070) that threatens civil rights and undermines basic notions of fairness. We call on MLB to do the same.

This rally is co-sponsored by (list in formation):
New York Immigration Coalition,
American Immigration Lawyers Association New York Chapter,
African Services Committee,
Boycott Arizona NYC,
Cabrini Immigrant Services,
Democracy for New York City,
Greater New York City for Change,
Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition,
La Union de La Comunidad Latina,
Long Island Immigrant Alliance,
Minkwon Center for Community Action,
NAACP New York State Conference,
New York Civic Participation Project,
New York Civil Liberties Union,
Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrants Rights,
Queens Community House, Sikh Coalition.

For more details/to co-sponsor the rally, contact Fliu@thenyic.org or
212-627-2227 X246 at The New York Immigration Coalition.

July 8: Protest Netanyahu in New York City

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is coming to New York to justify continued colonization and slaughter.

The media will be there to relay his “facts” to the world.

Let’s make sure they hear the real story.

Thursday, July 8, 12-2 pm

Council on Foreign Relations

58 East 68th St, near Park Ave