Monday, July 04, 2011


Fourth of July 2011. Can you believe we've gone from quills to twitter in less than 300 years? A long way in a short time, huh.
Because of all the gay civil rights action and discussions happening recently, I thought this was a good day to take an honest look back at those U.S. presidents who we celebrate as civil rights heroes.

First of course, the founding fathers. I would think that Black Americans would agree that the brilliant framers of our nation, many of whom became president, need not apply for this particular honor.
Kennedy, Lincoln, Johnson, were they great men of justice for all?
LBJ would not have even been considered for president or vice prez today. He would never have passed today's vetting with his atrocious civil rights record. And, did Kennedy voluntarily tackle the civil rights problem?
Lincoln freed the slaves and made great civil rights speeches of inspiration and importance. The debate has always been whether Lincoln freed the slaves because it was the only way to save the Union, not because it was a horrid inhumane institution.
Do motivation and intentions diminish hero status?

Kennedy didn't want to intercede on behalf of the jailed Martin Luther King and was provoked into interceding into the Jame Meredith and Bull Connor high profile cases.
Lyndon B. Johnson, after the JFK assassination, took the opportunity to force through sweeping new laws that changed this country forever. In the South, democrats became republicans and republicans became democrats. Concessions were made to get the bills through so most of the laws did not fully protect those they covered. The South became more sinister and the North became more stealth in it’s racism.

Don't get me wrong, Lincoln, Kennedy, and Johnson were all good caring men but none acted on that goodness alone. They acted on political expediency and only when it was imperative or opportunistic to do so. All gave famous speeches of civil rights and equal rights, all suspect in their behind the scenes opportunity for greatness and motivation for their actions. All considered great human rights leaders. They are indeed.

Barack Obama is being criticized for his lack of proclamations regarding gay marriage. Although he has done more for the GLBT community than all other presidents combined, he is being accused of waiting until his second term to speak out. I think he is doing just that. Some say this a failing on his part? We know he is capable of inspirational speeches and is known for his patience in wanting a law passed that will endure. Is the president a coward or a hero for holding his tongue now to not jeopardize progress in his second term?

So, how do you measure these men as civil rights heroes? Is it for their public proclamations of civil rights for all. Is motivation important, doing the right thing because they truly feel it is the right thing? Or, should they be considered great based on their enduring legacy of policy?
I think Barack Obama will measure up and deliver it all.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

SIGNED Sealed Delivered, New York, New York!

Congrats to New York State for passing the Gay Marriage Bill and becoming the sixth and largest state to do so. Big hat tip to Governor Andrew Cuomo who wasted no time SIGNING the Bill and to the senators (including some republicans) who came on board for equal rights. There are amendments to the bill to insure that no religious organization can be forced to perform a marriage ceremony that goes against their beliefs. Well of course, as it should be.

Soft spoken, GOP conservative, Senator Roy McDonald, got huge support and became an Internet hero when he decided he just couldn't hold the party line against giving equal rights to New Yorkers who have been denied forever.
"You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn't black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing."

"You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, fuck it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing."

"I'm tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I'm trying to do the right thing, and that's where I'm going with this."

Senator McDonald a grandfather, followed his heart, changed his vote to yes, helped make history and set an example of courage.
It's been a long journey from historic Stonewall to this Pride weekend celebrations with civil unions in Chicago and Marriage in New York State. Federally recognized rights are now at least on the horizon.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

To all the dads, granddads, great-grands, pops, papas, uncles, nephews, brothers, sons, cousins, and friends who are fathers and father figures, we honor and salute you! You are vitally important in the lives of children and society. Have a great day!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Flash Mobs Attack

This really makes me mad! Flash Mobs are creative and fun experiences for the participants and the surprised onlookers. Now a bunch of thugs in Chicago and other cities are using twitter and text technology to flash meet to rob a store or beat up and rob individuals.

10-15 or even 20 thugs beating up one person? This is most distubing because the purpose of these attacks on one or two people is lost on me. They get one cell phone or two ipods, maybe a wallet. What good is that for 15 people? Many attacks are just malicious, throwing people in the water at the beach, knocking them off their bikes or just kicking and beating them and then running away.

I realize these are hard financial times. I know there are a lot of unemployed, under-educated, disenfranchised, angry young men in our society. But, whether they are expressing their collective anger or angst or whatever by attacking people en masse, or just thugs who like to hurt people, I put them in the same category as those who drive by shoot or prey on the young and the elderly. They are cowards.

These young men were attacked by Flash Thugs in Chicago on Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Donald Knows....what?

Donald Trump is a great disappointment and more. I actually thought he was a smart, fair, and honorable (as honorable as possible in his financial wizard world) funny, creative type guy. I don't know that I admired him but I thought he was kind of cool. His Apprentice shows are full of personality bumping fun, and strategically intriguing challenges. Celebrity Apprentice is one of the very few reality shows I could stand.

But, Mr. Trump has shown himself to be a stupid arrogant racist who would sell his country for some ratings. He is supposedly considering a run for president. He is starting off his pre-campaign by whipping the birther thing into a frenzy. Yes, he is appealing to the folks who just cannot believe Barack Obama is an American because he is too smart and he got voted into the White House by a damn landslide. There are Americans who have belief systems that just can't accept that. I mean, there are Americans who can entirely accept a brilliant black man without any prejudice as long as he comes from somewhere else and has an accent. There has to be something wrong or different about Barack Obama. He can't be just a black guy from Chicago. Trump does not feel this way, he's just using the people who do. Yep, using and feeding them while on his campaign to plant doubt, feed distrust, discredit and devalue this president, by insistantly hinting, gently accusing him of purposely perpetrating this fraud on the United States government and all of it's people.

Now, Mr. Trump declares he has some information about the president's birth but he is not gonna tell us yet. "Just wait and see what happens." Maybe until the finale of Celeb Apprentice? Hmmmm Does he have proof that will end this birther stuff cold? But first, we must watch to see if Star beats LaToya.

Trump wants to be president and this is how he demonstrates his political savvy? Does he not realize the president is constantly making decisions that effect our lives, our nation, and the world? He may have info that would show this man to be a poser and he sits on it? Goes on TV and brags about it, teases about it. Does he think this is some kind of reality show game?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor - A Profound Loss

When the regular TV programming was interrupted with the news bulletin that Elizabeth Taylor had died, I was weirdly overcome with sadness and to tears. I didn't know her of course, yet I grew up with her in my life. She was a sparkling star and remained so. My sister called and said "it doesn't seem right that Elizabeth Taylor is not in the world." She is right. I felt a profound sense of loss.
Blog and Facebook posts went up with pictures and clips, messages of thanks and gratitude for her charitable work and for her courage and caring filled the social networking media. There seemed to be a collective feeling of profound loss.

Like her friend Michael Jackson, I suspect Elizabeth Taylor will have a whole new generation of fans who will now become aware of her legendary importance, talent and movies. I got email from a young friend who marveled after watching some movie clips from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, "I knew about her because of Michael and about the perfume and that she had those unusual eyes but, I didn't know she could act..was that good. I'm gonna check out her movies." That's funny and wonderful too. I told him he had a treat in store and gave him some titles.

Elizabeth was a Hollywood legend, and has been called the most beautiful woman in the world. But she was not just a glamorous movie star who always got her man, and married him, she was so much more. She was not afraid to reach out to a friend in need. Her caring and support for friends like troubled actor Montgomery Clift is well known. She was said to have a great sense of humor. For me that says a lot about a person. She had an incredible laugh.

In the mid 1980's, an AIDS diagnosis was nearly always fatal and yet public figures including the president, did not want to be associated with even the word AIDS. Elizabeth Taylor said:

"I kept seeing all these news reports on this new disease and kept asking myself why no one was doing anything. And then I realized that I was just like them. I wasn't doing anything to help."

So, Elizabeth fearlessly stepped forward. And when I say fearlessly, I mean in yo face fearless. She debunked the fears of being close to people with AIDS by doing just that. Elizabeth knew she was high profile and she used it to fill the vacuum with attention for her immediate concern, ensuring the dignity and care of people living with and dying with AIDS. Elizabeth Taylor then took it to the public, the arts and fashion industries, the medical community, and lawmakers. In 1984 she organized and hosted the first AIDS fundraiser to benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles. She could care less about the religious community uproar, the controversy and personal risks or the silence of others. In 1985, with a small group of physicians, she founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).

In 1991
the Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation (ETAF) was created with a focus on direct services for people living with AIDS. ETAF provides funding to AIDS service organizations throughout the world to assist those living with HIV and AIDS. Liz became a worldwide activist visiting hospitals and raising funds the world over.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, through her foundation, Taylor commissioned a $500,000 37-foot "Care Van" equipped with examination tables and other medical equipment and dispatched it to New Orleans to care for HIV/AIDS patients of the city. She also donated $40,000 to the New Orleans Aids Task Force.

Through the years, Elizabeth organized, hosted, or appeared at countless fundraisers for HIV/AIDS charities in spite of facing numerous health issues including chronic back pain.
With unbelievable commitment and generosity Elizabeth also personally underwrote all expenses for fundraising and administering her foundation funds.

In 1997 Elizabeth had surgery to remove a brain tumor. She allowed herself to be photographed bald (front and back) to support women who had such surgeries or had lost their hair due to illness. The most beautiful woman in the world did not let vanity stop her from being a champion. Or maybe it was vanity. I'm not mad at her. Her beauty was deep. Perhaps it was her understanding of beauty, her lack of shame that drove her empathy for others in a world where shame is so often used as a weapon. Elizabeth was not only an actor and activist, she was a teacher.

Now, a few Elizabeth Taylor movies. She was not just good to look at, she was an artist.

First film in 1943 with MGM was Lassie Come Home with her lifelong friend Roddy McDowall and Donald Crisp. Absolutely worth watching. Get those hankies ready.

National Velvet in 1944 with Mickey Rooney. Story of young Velvet and her passion for horses and racing. A triumphant underdog story that will warm your heart.
This is the film that made Elizabeth Taylor a star.

Life with Father 1947 a teen (15) Elizabeth in a warm and very funny family flick with William Powell as the tyrannical father, Irene Dunne and Zasu Pitts. I Love this one too.

Elephant Walk,1954 One of my favorites growing up. Beautiful color and beautiful Elizabeth faces rampaging elephants.

Giant 1956 with James Dean and Rock Hudson,and Sal Mineo. Epic film about Texas cattle rancher.

Raintree County 1957 with Montgomery Clift. Liz got her first Oscar nomination but lost to Joanne Woodward for Three Faces of Eve.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1958. IMHO One of the best movies ever made. Burl Ives, Paul Newman, Jack Carson and Elizabeth as Maggie the Cat, are SUPERB in the Tennessee Williams masterpiece. Gotta love Liz in her hatred for those no neck monsters. Second Oscar nomination but lost to Susan Hayward for I Want to Live.

Big Daddy and Maggie.

Brick and Maggie the Cat.

Suddenly, Last Summer, 1959. Katherine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift in the strange disturbing Tennessee Williams story where Elizabeth's character Catherine, witnesses a death so horrid she goes insane. Third Oscar nom but this time lost to Simone Signoret for Room at the Top.

In 1960 Butterfield 8 with Laurence Harvey, Eddie Fisher and Dina Merrill finally got Liz, who plays a call girl, the Academy Award for Best Actress.

1963 Cleopatra, with Richard Burton. Elizabeth was the first actress to earn $1,000,000 for a film. More drama going on off screen than on with this epic picture. Liz and Dick sizzle on and off screen.
The media, already crazed after the Elizabeth/Debbie Reynolds/Eddie Fisher spectacle, practically went insane over Taylor/Burton. This is said to be the beginning of the crazy stalking paparazzi.

1966, Elizabeth, Richard Burton, Sandy Dennis and George Segal in Edward Albee's masterpiece, Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf. Excellent ensemble cast. College professor George and wife Martha (Liz and Dick) invite a new young prof and his wife over for drinks after a college function and it turns into a night of verbal war games fueled by alcohol and the need to hurt each other and a strange dependence. The young couple are not exempt as they are probed and prodded and emotionally laid bare. Bawdy, loud, sexual, passionate, and beautiful Martha, and George who pokes at everyones wounds with a pointy stick and then rips off scabs for fun are two of the greatest character ever written. Sandy Dennis is remarkable as the daft vulnerable young wife of her handsome trapped hubby. Fasten your seat belt. I give it Five strong Stars *****

Taming of the Shrew, 1967. I love Burton and Taylor in this Shakespeare romp with emphasis on romp. Burton is master of the Bard of course and Elizabeth has you howling with her bawdy braying strong performance. Talking about food fight. OMG!

Elizabeth was also famous for owning some of the world's most magnificent jewelry, including the the 33-carat "Krupp Diamond", the Duchess of Windsor diamond brooch, the Grand Duchess of Russia emeralds, the "LaPeregrina Pearl" (which was a Valentine present from her from Richard Burton), and the famous pear-shaped 69-carat "Burton-Cartier Diamond" Burton gave her in 1969 (subsequently renamed the "Burton-Taylor Diamond."
Liz wearing the 500 year old LaPeregrina.

When Elizabeth presented her perfumes to the public it was no surprise that they are mostly named for precious gems. The first in 1987 and was fittingly named Passion, followed by White Diamonds (1991), Diamonds and Rubies, Diamonds and Emeralds, Diamonds and Sapphires and Black Pearls (1995).

Elizabeth Taylor, the most beautiful woman in the world, was laid to rest at Forest Lawn near her friend Michael, and Clark Gable, Carol Lombard and other Hollywood legends. By her directions she arrived 15 minutes late, for her own funeral. She
had left instruction to have the last laugh.
Her legacy will live on in film and the media will talk of her marriages and her diamonds and her violet eyes, and her two Academy Awards. That is her legacy. But, she stepped out front and center with no Oscar in sight and her only reward was winning the dignity and care for people sick and voiceless. Before the red ribbons she was there and after the ribbons she was still there pushing and charming and winning for those she helped to give a voice and helped to live. I have profound gratitude to Elizabeth Taylor for damn near singlehandely prodding a nation away from ignorance and fear and jump starting a movement for life.

Rock and Elizabeth R.I.P.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sweet Day

Happy National Gumdrop Day!
Gumdrops are such a colorful bright sweet treat and decoration. Drops are not my favorite candy with it's sugary outside and gummy jelled inside. Just a bit too much sugar for me. But I do like the orange ones best.

Gumdrop Art

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Great Man

"We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny...I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be."

"I've always felt that homophobic attitudes and policies were unjust and unworthy of a free society and must be opposed by all Americans who believe in democracy."

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

"I have worked too long and hard against segregated public accommodations to end up segregating my moral concern. Justice is indivisible."

Dr. Martin Luther King