Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Good Golly Miss Dolly

Over a dinner of pasta and shrimp, M,J,and I discussed how the philosopher Descartes needed a belief in God to get from his solipsistic certainty only of his self (Cogito, ergo sum), to a conviction of the reality of the material world. In other words, to believe that Dolly Parton's boobs are real, we have to first proove the existence of God. Perhaps that is what her final song of the evening, Jesus and Gravity, was all about. Here's a review from the Washington Post that sums up the show we saw last night at the Fox Theatre:

Dolly Parton salted the show with stories.
Dolly Parton salted the show with stories.
(2006 Photo By Kevin Winter -- Getty Images)

Parton Playing 'Barbie': Schlock, but Also Awe

Wednesday, April 30, 2008; Page C03

Dolly Parton the entertainer got more stage time than Dolly Parton the genius at the Patriot Center on Monday. But the lines between the two Partons were blurred often enough to please fans of either.

Parton, 62, is touring behind "Backwoods Barbie," her first CD in years that isn't dominated by rootsy country or bluegrass tunes. The best of the new came when she played a tin whistle and let her voice soar on the Chieftains-like "Only Dreamin'," a somber folk tune she said she wrote a cappella while alone in a New York hotel. Oh, those lucky bedbugs.

She spent much of the night telling stories, and usually put herself in the punch line. Parton made fun of her growing commercial irrelevance ("I'm just Hannah Montana's aunt to kids!"), her political ignorance ("I thought McCain was a John Wayne movie!") and all the kids in her family (her mama always "had one on her and one in her!").

Parton also devoted chunks of the show to sure-thing crowd-pleasers that aren't from her own songbook, leading her large band on one medley of vintage pop-gospel (which included "When the Saints Go Marching In") and another of old-time rock-and-roll ("Johnny B. Goode" and "Great Balls of Fire"). Reba McEntire is probably the only other country star who could get away with delivering something with as much extra cheese as Parton's "Eagle When She Flies."

But even when the show was at its schlockiest, Parton remained lovable. And she did occasionally flaunt her musical brilliance, faithfully rendering several of her timeless tear-jerking ("Coat of Many Colors," "I Will Always Love You") and country-pop singles ("9 to 5," "Here You Come Again").

She ended the night with "Jesus and Gravity," a new song that shows her belief in intelligent design. Then again, whenever Parton sang, the room seemed filled with proof of a higher power.

-- Dave McKenna

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hello Dolly!!

Dolly Parton will be struttin' into town Tuesday to perform at the Fox Theatre... and Maggie, Joce and I will be there!

Here's the story:

spacer Dolly: “Of course I believe in gay marriage. Why shouldn’t they have to suffer just like us straight couples do? (Photo courtesy The Fox)
Not so 'Backwoods Barbie'
Dolly may be country, but she also supports gay marriage

APR. 25, 2008

“I'm just a Backwoods Barbie in a pushup bra and heels/I might look artificial, but where it counts I’m real/And I’m all dolled up and hopin’ for a chance to prove my worth.”

With lyrics like these from the title track of her latest album, “Backwoods Barbie,” it’s no surprise that living country legend Dolly Parton strikes a chord with gay and lesbian fans. Throughout her career, spanning 40-plus years of big hair, bigger boobs, and enough makeup to paint the faces of Mt. Rushmore twice over, Parton easily earns her place among other gay icons of the era.

Still, it isn’t just the diva factor that will have gay fans out in droves when Parton performs at the Fox Theatre on April 29. Country music may be known for its redneck roots, but Parton is outspoken in her support for gay marriage and her work on a transgender movie, and even jokes about the lesbian rumors that have surrounded her for years.

“Sometimes because I love all people I do get a lot of flack from the Bible Belt,” Parton told freelance journalist Lawrence Ferber in a 2005 interview that appeared in several publications. “So be it. I have many, many gay and lesbian friends, many people I’ve worked with through the years, many people in my own family. So I’m certainly not going to sit in a seat of judgment, nor am I the kind of person who’s not going to say what I think and feel. I’ll pay the consequences.”

Proving the adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Wild Mustang hosts a Dolly Look-Alike contest for Atlanta fans on April 26, with the winner scoring two tickets to see the real deal onstage.

Given Parton’s popularity, contest host Bubba D. Licious, aka Jim Marks, expects to see a sea of Dollys come contest night.

“I would imagine that quite a few of the drag queens and non-regular drag queens would do anything for a couple of tickets worth several hundred dollars to see Dolly,” Marks says.

It won’t be the first time Parton’s influence on drag is made obvious. Both Marks and fellow Atlanta drag performer Kitty LeClaw, aka Blake’s general manager David Stark, cite Parton as influences in the creation of their drag personas.

“Dolly definitely had an influence on the development of the Kitty LeClaw character,” Stark says. “She’s an entertainer, and I’ve always admired and enjoyed her work.”

Marks isn’t surprised drag queens relate to Parton either, given that the singer herself so resembles a drag performer.

“She once said that if she hadn’t been born a woman, she’d probably have been a drag queen,” Marks says. “She is as a female performer as close to drag queen as you can be.”

IT’S NOT JUST DRAG QUEENS who adore Parton, who has amassed a loyal following of gay and lesbian fans over the years. Much as with the drag contingent, part of the appeal may certainly be the singer’s over-the-top personality and appearance.

“What wouldn’t draw gay fans to Dolly?” asks Jay Dempsey, a gay man in Atlanta. “My God, there’s the big hair, the chest, the wardrobe, the makeup that says, ‘only Tammy Faye wore more.’ Dolly just has that ‘it’ factor, and she also seems to have a genuinely friendly personality that makes you just want to hang out with her.”

A big part of Parton’s appeal is also her self-professed affinity for her gay fans that goes beyond mere tolerance. Parton talked to USA Today following her nomination for an Academy Award for the song “Travelin’ Thru” from the movie “Transamerica.”

“Some things are strange to me, some things are odd, but I don’t condemn," she said at the time. "If you can accept me, I can accept you.”

Dempsey says Parton is courageous.

“Dolly is one of the brave artists that has stood up for us, despite what criticisms it may have brought her,” he says.

And stood up she has. In 2004, a Tennessee gay organization began promoting Gay Day at Dollywood, urging gay men and lesbians to attend Parton’s Pigeon Forge amusement park on a certain day.

The park asked the group to remove the name Dollywood from the event, prompting the organizing group to rename itself Out in the Park, but Dollywood did not discourage the event, nor did it cower to anti-gay protesters who gathered outside the park.

“We’re a place of business, and all people are welcome,” Parton said in the Ferber interview. “But the gays need to help me, too, because you have no idea what I put up with by accepting and loving everybody. I do get crucified in many ways. In fact, I have rounds with my business people as well as the park. I say, ‘What would you have me do? Am I going to say they’re not welcome here?’ Of course not, because they are. It’s just one of those things, damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

Parton also took heat in 2006 over her involvement in “Transamerica,” telling USA Today, “Having a big gay following, I get hate mail and threats. Some people are blind or ignorant, and you can’t be that prejudiced and hateful and go through this world and still be happy. One thing about this movie is that I think art can change minds. It’s all right to be who you are.”

Still, Parton doesn’t seem to regret the uneasy balancing act between her gay fans and her more conservative fans, telling Ferber that if it comes down to losing Dollywood or other business ventures as a result of her tolerance of all people, so be it.

“If that’s the way it should go down, I would give up the park before I would say anybody’s not welcome — certainly not because of sexual orientation or color or any of that,” she said. “You’ll always be welcome in my heart and home.”

PARTON ALSO EXCITED lesbian fans with the possibility that she may secretly be among their ranks, when she made a teasing remark in 2007 about how her mind wanders during sex with her husband, Carl Dean.

“When I have sex with my husband these days, I fantasize I am with someone like Keith Urban or a petite, hot young woman,” Parton told a European magazine, Star Pulse reported.

Those comments only added fuel to the fire of long-running rumors that Parton has been involved in a lesbian relationship with Judy Ogle, her friend since childhood.

“I’ve never really had a desire to be with a woman, and that’s the honest truth,” Dolly told Ferber in response to the Ogle rumors. “I love them all. I think women are beautiful. I have five sisters. I’m close to women and know them inside out, but I’m a guy’s gal.”

Despite facing fire from anti-gay groups, Parton has managed to thrive in the entertainment industry, building one of the most successful and long-lasting careers in country music. Stark has his theory on why she’s been able to maintain that balance for so long.

“She’s the type of woman who’s gotten so far that she says what’s on her mind, and she follows on what she believes in and doesn’t look back,” he says. “I don’t think she’s as concerned about what people may think or say about her. If she believes in something or that what she’s doing is right, she’s going to follow that course.”

Perhaps it’s just the lovable way she peppers her comments with down home charm and humor that allows her more conservative fans to forgive some of her views.

“Of course I believe in gay marriage. Why shouldn’t they have to suffer just like us straight couples do? But I am for everybody,” Parton said in the Ferber interview. "I believe everybody has the right to be who they are, do what they do, and have all the rights they can have. If you’re going to live as a family and be a family, you should have the same rights as everybody else.”



Friday, April 25, 2008

Existential Dilemma

Paul Krugman gets it right today in laying out the choice that is dividing the Dems;

Soaring idealism, a new liberalism, or a down to earth pragmatism that deals with the ongoing problems of the middle class...

here's his analysis:

Op-Ed Columnist

Self-Inflicted Confusion


Published: April 25, 2008

After Barack Obama’s defeat in Pennsylvania, David Axelrod, his campaign manager, brushed it off: “Nothing has changed tonight in the basic physics of this race.”

Paul Krugman

He may well be right — but what a comedown. A few months ago the Obama campaign was talking about transcendence. Now it’s talking about math. “Yes we can” has become “No she can’t.”

This wasn’t the way things were supposed to play out.

Mr. Obama was supposed to be a transformational figure, with an almost magical ability to transcend partisan differences and unify the nation. Once voters got to know him — and once he had eliminated Hillary Clinton’s initial financial and organizational advantage — he was supposed to sweep easily to the nomination, then march on to a huge victory in November.

Well, now he has an overwhelming money advantage and the support of much of the Democratic establishment — yet he still can’t seem to win over large blocs of Democratic voters, especially among the white working class.

As a result, he keeps losing big states. And general election polls suggest that he might well lose to John McCain.

What’s gone wrong?

According to many Obama supporters, it’s all Hillary’s fault. If she hadn’t launched all those vile, negative attacks on their hero — if she had just gone away — his aura would be intact, and his mission of unifying America still on track.

But how negative has the Clinton campaign been, really? Yes, it ran an ad that included Osama bin Laden in a montage of crisis images that also included the Great Depression and Hurricane Katrina. To listen to some pundits, you’d think that ad was practically the same as the famous G.O.P. ad accusing Max Cleland of being weak on national security.

It wasn’t. The attacks from the Clinton campaign have been badminton compared with the hardball Republicans will play this fall. If the relatively mild rough and tumble of the Democratic fight has been enough to knock Mr. Obama off his pedestal, what hope did he ever have of staying on it through the general election?

Let me offer an alternative suggestion: maybe his transformational campaign isn’t winning over working-class voters because transformation isn’t what they’re looking for.

From the beginning, I wondered what Mr. Obama’s soaring rhetoric, his talk of a new politics and declarations that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” (waiting for to do what, exactly?) would mean to families troubled by lagging wages, insecure jobs and fear of losing health coverage. The answer, from Ohio and Pennsylvania, seems pretty clear: not much. Mrs. Clinton has been able to stay in the race, against heavy odds, largely because her no-nonsense style, her obvious interest in the wonkish details of policy, resonate with many voters in a way that Mr. Obama’s eloquence does not.

Yes, I know that there are lots of policy proposals on the Obama campaign’s Web site. But addressing the real concerns of working Americans isn’t the campaign’s central theme.

Tellingly, the Obama campaign has put far more energy into attacking Mrs. Clinton’s health care proposals than it has into promoting the idea of universal coverage.

During the closing days of the Pennsylvania primary fight, the Obama campaign ran a TV ad repeating the dishonest charge that the Clinton plan would force people to buy health insurance they can’t afford. It was as negative as any ad that Mrs. Clinton has run — but perhaps more important, it was fear-mongering aimed at people who don’t think they need insurance, rather than reassurance for families who are trying to get coverage or are afraid of losing it.

No wonder, then, that older Democrats continue to favor Mrs. Clinton.

The question Democrats, both inside and outside the Obama campaign, should be asking themselves is this: now that the magic has dissipated, what is the campaign about? More generally, what are the Democrats for in this election?

That should be an easy question to answer. Democrats can justly portray themselves as the party of economic security, the party that created Social Security and Medicare and defended those programs against Republican attacks — and the party that can bring assured health coverage to all Americans.

They can also portray themselves as the party of prosperity: the contrast between the Clinton economy and the Bush economy is the best free advertisement that Democrats have had since Herbert Hoover.

But the message that Democrats are ready to continue and build on a grand tradition doesn’t mesh well with claims to be bringing a “new politics” and rhetoric that places blame for our current state equally on both parties.

And unless Democrats can get past this self-inflicted state of confusion, there’s a very good chance that they’ll snatch defeat from the jaws of victory this fall.



Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Spat Inspires...

I have to put the Latest Dowdism on my blog-- it's just too priceless to ignore, especially the Dr. Seuss ending. Enjoy:

April 23, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist

Wilting Over Waffles

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Maureen Dowd

He’s never going to shake her off.

Not all by himself.

The very fact that he can’t shake her off has become her best argument against him. “Why can’t he close the deal?” Hillary taunted at a polling place on Tuesday.

She’s been running ads about it, suggesting he doesn’t have “what it takes” to run the country. Her message is unapologetically emasculating: If he does not have the gumption to put me in my place, when superdelegates are deserting me, money is drying up, he’s outspending me 2-to-1 on TV ads, my husband’s going crackers and party leaders are sick of me, how can he be trusted to totally obliterate Iran and stop Osama?

Now that Hillary has won Pennsylvania, it will take a village to help Obama escape from the suffocating embrace of his rival. Certainly Howard Dean will be of no use steering her to the exit. It’s like Micronesia telling Russia to denuke.

“You know, some people counted me out and said to drop out,” said a glowing Hillary at her Philadelphia victory party, with Bill and Chelsea by her side. “Well, the American people don’t quit. And they deserve a president who doesn’t quit, either.”

The Democrats are growing ever more desperate about the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. With gas prices out of control, with the comically oblivious President Bush shimmying around New Orleans — the city he let drown — and Condi sneaking into Baghdad as rockets and mortars hail down on the Green Zone, beating the Republicans should be a cinch.

But the Democrats watch in horror as Hillary continues to scratch up the once silvery sheen on Obama, and as John McCain not only consolidates his own party but encroaches on theirs by boldly venturing into Selma, Ala., on Monday to woo black voters.

They also cringe as Bill continues his honey-crusted-nut-bar meltdown. With his usual exquisite timing, just as Pennsylvanians were about to vote, Hillary’s husband became the first person ever to play the Caucasian Card. First, he blurted out to a radio interviewer that the Obama camp had played the race card against him after he compared Obama’s strength in South Carolina to Jesse Jackson’s. And then, with a Brobdingnagian finger-wagging on the screen, he denied it to an NBC News reporter.

“You always follow me around and play these little games, and I’m not going to play your games today,” he said, accusing the reporter of looking for “another cheap story to divert the American people from the real urgent issues before us.”

If there’s one person who knows about crass diversions, it’s Bill. But even for him, it was an embarrassing explosion, capped with some blue language to an aide that was caught on air.

The Democrats are eager to move on to an Obama-McCain race. But they can’t because no one seems to be able to show Hillary the door. Despite all his incandescent gifts, Obama has missed several opportunities to smash the ball over the net and end the game. Again and again, he has seemed stuck at deuce. He complains about the politics of scoring points, but to win, you’ve got to score points.

He knew he tanked in the Philadelphia debate, but he was so irritated by the moderators — and by having to stand next to Hillary again — that he couldn’t summon a single merry dart.

Is he skittish around her because he knows that she detests him and he’s used to charming everyone? Or does he feel guilty that he cut in line ahead of her? As the husband of Michelle, does he know better than to defy the will of a strong woman? Or is he simply scared of Hillary because she’s scary?

He is frantic to get away from her because he can’t keep carbo-loading to relate to the common people.

In the final days in Pennsylvania, he dutifully logged time at diners and force-fed himself waffles, pancakes, sausage and a Philly cheese steak. He split the pancakes with Michelle, left some of the waffle and sausage behind, and gave away the French fries that came with the cheese steak.

But this is clearly a man who can’t wait to get back to his organic scrambled egg whites. That was made plain with his cri de coeur at the Glider Diner in Scranton when a reporter asked him about Jimmy Carter and Hamas.

“Why” he pleaded, sounding a bit, dare we say, bitter, “can’t I just eat my waffle?”

His subtext was obvious: Why can’t I just be president? Why do I have to keep eating these gooey waffles and answering these gotcha questions and debating this gonzo woman?

Before they devour themselves once more, perhaps the Democrats will take a cue from Dr. Seuss’s “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!” (The writer once mischievously redid it for his friend Art Buchwald as “Richard M. Nixon Will You Please Go Now!”) They could sing:

“The time has come. The time has come. The time is now. Just go. ... I don’t care how. You can go by foot. You can go by cow. Hillary R. Clinton, will you please go now! You can go on skates. You can go on skis. ... You can go in an old blue shoe.

Just go, go, GO!”

She's going alright, one state at a time...


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On and On and On

Hillary Clinton wins Pa. by 10% (as of 11:00 PM)...

Well, I have to say, she still gets my hopes up for her. I like her and I like Obama-- and therein lies the problem: we Democrats just can't decide whom we want to have as our nominee.

Somehow we are going to have to turn the approaching convention into a love fest for whomever we do choose. I take back nothing of all my previous blog entries for the two of them, contradictory or not!

Good Night.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Give it up for Barack Obama

omorrow, after the Pennsylvania primary, enough is enough. It is time for the Democrats to stop fighting and rally round a leader. Having been a big supporter of Hillary Clinton, I have to say now that I support Obama. It is not just a matter of tides, trends, and momentum. It is that Hillary has made huge mistakes and failed to connect with voters. Yes, the media has been against her and slanted her comments, taking them out of context. Yes, the media had distorted the role and comments of Bill Clinton. They would continue to do so were Hillary the final candidate. The simple urge to clean the slate, to be rid of the Bush-Clinton-Bush dynasties, to start over with youth, vigor, and a completely new look is too powerful to resist. There are more thoughtful reasons to support Obama, see the essay in:

The Dark Side of the Presidency

And read the current:

Obama Talks All Things LGBT With The Advocate

And of course....

Brush It Off


Published: April 20, 2008


Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Maureen Dowd

It had to be the first time in history that a presidential candidate had a hip-hop moment.

Barack Obama, who says he listens to Jay-Z along with his “old school guy” favorites like Earth, Wind & Fire and the Temptations, alluded to the rapper’s 2003 hit “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” on Thursday to sweep away concerns about his pugnacity.

After conceding that the Philly debate was tough, he brushed the imaginary lint of Hillary, George and Charlie from his shoulders, in a wordless reference to Jay-Z’s lyrics in his anthem about not letting anyone crimp your ride as you cruise from the bottom to the top: “Got some, dirt on my shoulder, could you brush it off for me.”

There’s no doubt the cat is cool. It’s easy to imagine the wild reception many parts of the world would give a President Obama as he loped down the stairs of Air Force One in his aviator glasses, the chic and chiseled Michelle on his arm.

The imagery of the 2008 race is all about cool and hot.

Obama is cool in a good way. He continues to look to the stars as the Clintons drag him down to the gutter, even when Hillary suggests he should scamper out of the kitchen since he’s so obviously sensitive to heat.

The Clintons are still scalded over the cool new kid in school precociously usurping the dream of Hillary, granddaughter of a Scranton lace mill worker and wife of a man who thinks he owes her the presidency.

This spurred the delicious spectacle of Bill Clinton, king of self-pity, suggesting that Obama was whining too much about the tone of the debate.

Like Bill, John McCain has his hot-headed flashes and struggles to stay cool.

But before it’s signed, sealed and delivered, as his campaign song goes, Obama will have to balance his cool with some heat, as J.F.K. did. He seems too imperious about the power of hot-button values issues that have proved so potent for most of his lifetime.

Sometimes when he answered questions at the ABC debate, you could see white letters on a black background scrawling across the screen of a Republican attack ad.

He can create an uplifting new kind of politics if he becomes president, but first he’s going to have to get past the shallow and vicious old politics he says he disdains (even if his campaign knows how to dip into the Clinton toolbox).

The thorny questions Obama got in the debate were absolutely predictable, yet he seemed utterly unprepared and annoyed by them. He did not do well for the same reason he failed to outmaneuver Hillary in a year’s worth of debates: he disdains the convention, the need for sound bites and witty flick-offs and game-changing jabs.

He needs to be less philosophical and abstract, and more visceral and personal. Some of the topics he acted dismissive about are real things on the minds of many Americans.

Obama does not need to wear a flag pin. By the time NBC colored its peacock logo with the Stars and Stripes after 9/11, it was clear that patriotism had been co-opted by commercialism. And he’s right that W. and Cheney used patriotism in a corrosive way to goad Americans into going along with their trumped-up war.

But when a voter from Latrobe asked in the debate why he doesn’t wear a flag pin, he high-hatted it as a “manufactured issue,” then, backing in tepidly, added, “I could not help but love this country for all that it’s given me.”

Asked about his friendly relationship with the former Weather Underground anarchist William Ayers — an association that The Wall Street Journal suggests could turn into the Swift Boat of 2008 given Ayers’s statement that “I don’t regret setting bombs; I feel we didn’t do enough” — Obama defended him with a line that only the eggheads orbiting his campaign could appreciate. Ayers, he said, is “a professor of English in Chicago.”

Obama has to prove to Americans that, despite his exotic background and multicultural looks, he shares or at least respects their values and understands why they would be upset about his associations with the Rev. Wright and an ex-Weatherman.

Even though his supporters raised Cain about ABC, Obama is smart enough to know he will need a better game against a canny war hero. Campaigning in Pennsylvania on Friday, he seemed eager to show he was not highfalutin. He said he and Michelle weren’t born with silver spoons; he shared how “burned up” he was when his sick mother could not get health insurance; he hugged a disabled veteran who thanked him for getting into the race, and he left a rally with a lusty “God Bless America.”

He’s trying, as Jay-Z says, to get flow.

Don't forget to vote.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

My Corot



My Corot

The small, green oil by Camille Corot is mine.

My farmland, my gossamer trees.

The horde herds to O'keeffe's oils: bright red,
white, purple. dazzling.

One man, middle-aged, leads three women

To see, in gallery three, the long, silver slit.

Like a boy, seeing an aunt's tit,

The man covers his mouth and giggles.

He is unaware that all the rest of us envision

Georgia's flowers as vaginas.


Over the curves of the white

The moon glides its full self toward the scaffolding that lines

Peachtree Street, a street with no peach trees.

Loud jazz, a trumpet, follows me.

Myriad masses of society pass by-- "Broadway Boogie Woogie" by Mondrian.

Oh how
Peachtree longs to be Manhattan. And fails.

Georgia was once my green Corot,

All native harmony and nature. quiet. No jazz.


My love looks for harmony and nature

On an island of lava, orchids, and ocean waves.

He is O'Keeffe in the hills of New Mexico

Whose lover remains in the East. In New York.

Still, the round, white moon is full for us both

The night is
O'Keeffe's purple-black Iris;

And gossamer clouds wash the moon with arriving rain.

Georgia O'Keeffe



Go West: Cornel West

He was brilliant on Bill Maher; he was brilliant the times I heard him speak live to the Coalition of Essential Schools Conferences I attended; and he is brilliant in the You Tube clips that abound when one searches for him there.

Cornel West, present day Socrates, gadfly to the establishment and the moneyed interests, speaks his mind, and does so with such mastery of the language, that he delights as he deconstructs.

Good starting place : Wikipedia on Cornel West

Here are eight action-packed minutes :

Go West! Go Maher!


Thursday, April 17, 2008


oing to Hawaii

(photo by Jack)

Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream...

music by Eliphalet Oram Lyte of
Millersville University

A dream: Kalani

So, do I wake or dream here in Hawaii ?
Has a dream ever been more lucid?
Find out at Kalani:

Dreaming and Awakening

On Dreams



From The Nation:

Famous Are the Flowers: Hawaiian Resistance Then--and Now

News from
The Star Bulletin

From our lanai overlooking Diamond Head to the pool of Kalani, we again immerse ourselves in Being.

Visions of Hawaii



Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tut's Man

Darryl and Peter Lacovara
sail the Nile


Curator's digging unearths Tut for Carlos Museum

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/16/2008

Peter Lacovara wanted to be an archaeologist for as long as he can remember.

Joey Ivansco/AJC

On an upcoming expedition, Peter Lacovara will lead the survey and mapping of Marqata, a city that was the home of Tut's grandfather.

In 1997, Peter Lacovara excavated the settlement where the workers who built the Pyramids of Giza lived. Town planning is one of his specialties.

Peter Lacovara works in Abydos, in middle Egypt, at a center for the cult of Osiris, the god of the dead, during a 1996 dig. The archaeologist's relationship with Egypt's antiquities czar helped the Carlos Museum land the Tut exhibit.

"Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs,"
is scheduled for the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center from Nov. 15 to May 22, 2009.
Group tickets (10 or more) are already on sale. Call 1-866-52GROUPS (866-524-7687). Individuals can register for tickets now; they will be given purchasing priority before tickets go on sale to the general public in September. More information is at


Tut exhibit a coup for Carlos Museum

Photos: King Tut artifacts

Carlos Museum

As a child, the Michael C. Carlos Museum curator entombed hamsters in pyramids in his backyard in Flushing, N.Y. He still loves digging in the dirt, but now, his passion takes him all over Egypt. Expeditions over the past 25 years have yielded not only the respect of his peers but a web of connections that has benefited Atlanta since he arrived here in 1998.

Thanks to Lacovara's relationship with Egypt's antiquities czar, Zahi Hawass, the Carlos Museum this fall will be host to the debut of "Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs," the newest tour of Boy King artifacts.

Despite his 53 years, Lacovara still looks a bit boyish himself, particularly when he cracks his impish grin. Only an archaeologist could find a thing in his office, stuffed with seemingly centuries worth of books, papers and Egyptian-themed souvenirs. So he repairs to a courtyard on the Emory campus to discuss his field, his projects and his hopes for Atlanta.

Q: How has archaeology changed since Howard Carter discovered Tut's tomb in 1922?

A: We used to dig up only temples and tombs, so we know how Egyptians died. Now we want to find out how they lived. The old school was more art historical and object-oriented. Modern archaeology is interested in the social aspects. It's more anthropological.

Town planning is one of my specialties. It's hard because while tombs were made of stone, towns were constructed of mud-brick, and they have disappeared. Since the sites are not tourist attractions, the Egyptian government can't afford to maintain them as well. It's easier for development and farming to encroach on these sites.

Q: Tell us about your upcoming expedition.

A: I will be leading the survey and mapping of Marqata, a city that was the home of Tut's grandfather. It's 5-by-2-mile area and will take 10-plus years. I'm working with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We are collaborating with Georgia Tech's Imagine Lab to do a 3-D reconstruction of the palace and a virtual fly-through of the ancient city.

Q: What was your roughest experience?

A: It was an expedition with one of the many eccentrics who seem to populate the field. I slept in a tent in the desert in a sleeping bag. It was raised off the ground on a box made of palm fronds to keep away the horn vipers [better known as asps]. They're cute but deadly.

This man was afraid of Egyptian food and had all the supplies packed by Fortnum & Mason [the British purveyor] before he left. He was very abstemious. Once a day, for lunch or dinner, our meal would be a can of tuna split three ways. I lost 20 pounds in two weeks. I was so hungry that at one point, I fell asleep while I was working. I woke up to see vultures circling.

Q: Getting "Tut" was a coup for the Carlos, but you've said "Lost Kingdoms of the Nile," the museum's current exhibit of Nubian art, is more important. Can you explain?

A: The ancient Nubians [in what is now southern Egypt and Sudan] are always in the shadow of Egypt, but in many ways their civilizations were just as remarkable. They produced some of the earliest towns, pottery and technological advances.

And it's not in the history books. This exhibit is important because it shows that ancient Africa has a cultural history as rich and varied as Europe and the Middle East.

Q: What are your goals for the museum?

A: To build the collection. Ironically, Egyptian art is the most popular draw at the museum but also the smallest collection. There are no endowed purchase funds. People love it, but they don't support it.

You can't build a museum on loans, and it's going to get harder to get loans, too. Transportation and insurance costs are going up, and the museums with the great collections only want to play with the big boys.

Time is running out. Prices are rising because there are fewer artifacts, and the Gulf states have started collecting. Now is our very, very last chance.

Q: When you're not on the job, what do you do in your spare time?

A: My idea of fun is going to see Egyptian art. House restoration is my only hobby. I renovated an 1850 house in Hudson, N.Y., and now I'm working on one in downtown Albany, N.Y., which is an affordable Boston. It's great, even though its [from] 1870, which is a little too modern for me.

"Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs" is scheduled for the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center from Nov. 15 to May 22, 2009.

Group tickets (10 or more) are already on sale. Call 1-866-524-7687. Individuals can register for tickets now; they will be given purchasing priority before tickets go on sale to the general public in September. More information is at

Dig it!


Monday, April 14, 2008

Harmonious Convergence

From Frankfurt, from Charlotte, from Atlanta, we all gathered in Savannah for three days of gorgeous weather, strolls on the beach, swimming, partying at Pinkie's, dining at the Crystal Beer Parlor, where budding philosopher Brady waited our busy table, and enjoying a meal at Johnny Harris.

Good friends Wolfgang and Donald enjoyed getting to know Georgia and its merry inhabitants: from the Georgia Aquarium, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Mary Mac's and the Colonnade (the collard greens and okra were new delights), to the charms of Savannah and its denizens (especially John, Jane, and Dave). On Tybee Island Lee and Steve Killian were our hosts on a halcyon day of 90 degree warmth.

Here's a glimpse of the trek to Savannah and Tybee;

Next stop Hawaii...



Sunday, April 06, 2008

Three Transforming Films (seeing is believing)

hree films show how coming out gay has gotten happier and better, and is the moral thing to do. Films from the 1960s and 70s such as The Children's Hour, revealed how traumatic coming to terms with being gay used to be. Only towering figures like James Baldwin could write about and be gay in an appreciative way in those decades. Suicide, lobotomy, prison, murder, psychosis... were the picture of homosexuality until the film Making Love (click) in 1982 showed that gay love is essential to wellbeing. Coming out in 1965, as I did, was pure anguish and tears. The tears may still flow, but now they turn quickly into tears of joy.

The three films that reveal the joys of coming out, however painful the process, are Beautiful Thing, Summer Storm, and Shelter. The first was set in England in 1996 (the play was produced in 1993), the second in Germany, 2004, and the third takes place in California. Here are clips from all three. To go with the metaphor of the third, let's hope this is the wave of the future:

1) Beautiful Thing

2)Summer Storm

3) Shelter (2008) {Read the reviews}

A Gay Kiss isn't just a kiss.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Deep in the Bat cave

Nice analysis:

Slate Magazine

The Caped Crusader

Frederic Wertham and the campaign against comic books.

By Jeet Heer

For comic-book fans, Fredric Wertham is the biggest villain of all time, a real-life bad guy worse than the Joker, Lex Luthor, and Magneto combined. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Wertham was the intellectual spearhead of the anti-comics crusade, arguing in many articles and his 1954 best-seller, Seduction of the Innocent, that comic books stultified the imagination of normal kids (giving them a taste for blood and gore that would prevent them from ever appreciating literature and fine art) and severely damaged the socially vulnerable, contributing to juvenile delinquency. For Wertham, even the most beloved comic-book heroes were suspect: Superman reminded him of Nazi Germany's SS (a cadre of self-styled supermen), the adventures of Batman and Robin had homoerotic overtones, and Wonder Woman threatened to turn healthy young girls into lesbians. At the time Wertham made his attack on comics, the medium was at the height of its popularity, selling between 80 million and 100 million copies every week in scores of genres, ranging from funny animals and superheroes (for kids) to romance and horror (for teenagers and young adults).

As David Hajdu reminds us in his new book, The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, Wertham's ideas had remarkably wide currency in postwar America. Countless religious and patriotic organizations organized book burnings to set comics aflame, and leading politicians held congressional hearings where William Gaines, the owner of EC Comics, publisher of the gory Tales From the Crypt and the satiric Mad comic book (later retooled as a magazine), was grilled as if he were a mobster.

As a result of this moral panic, the once-thriving comic-book industry went into a severe decline. In the two years after Wertham's book came out, more than a dozen publishers and hundreds of cartoonists left the field. Those publishers that remained were severely restricted by a self-imposed code that prevented comics from publishing anything but the most anodyne kiddies' fare. Only with the rise of graphic novels in the last few years have comics recovered from the stigma of the Wertham years. For Hajdu, the comic-book crackdown was a "purge," a precursor to later panics over rock music and video games.

No wonder Wertham has often been caricatured by fans as a prissy, cold Germanic elitist who wanted to deprive American kids of their entertaining reading material. Catherine Yronwode, a popular historian and comic-book fan, spoke for many when she wrote, in 1983, "We hate [Wertham], despise him. He and he alone virtually brought about the collapse of the comic book industry in the 1950s." Easy enough to mock, Wertham showed up in a brief and unsympathetic cameo in Michael Chabon's prize-winning book The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

And yet Wertham is not without his defenders, primarily scholars who argue that the view promulgated by authors like Hajdu and Chabon is pure calumny. Chief among these academic defenders is Bart Beaty, a Canadian communications theorist whose 2005 book Fredric Wertham and the Critique of Mass Culture argues that the psychiatrist's work has been unfairly dismissed. Wertham, Beaty notes, is often libeled as a pop-culture McCarthyite, when he was in fact a progressive scholar who ran a clinic in Harlem, and his research on black children was used in the legal challenges to segregation. Beaty contends that Wertham had legitimate questions about the social impact of art on socially vulnerable children.

Wertham was particularly concerned about the violence, misogyny, and racism that were endemic in comics (and other popular art forms). He wasn't wrong on this point. Many of the comics now nostalgically celebrated by Hajdu and Chabon were extremely unsavory in their social attitudes. EC comics regularly featured husbands and wives ending marital spats with knives, axes, and poison. On the racial front, Will Eisner's much-loved Spirit featured a Sambo-like sidekick named Ebony White, who was childish, had thick lips, and spoke in an illiterate minstrel dialect.

Finally, Beaty notes, Wertham actually never advocated censorship: He wanted a rating system to keep the most violent of comics away from kids. (Although it's worth remembering that Wertham's rating proposal was extremely draconian: Under his plan, it would be illegal to sell or display any comic book to anyone under 15.) The comic-book crackdown, according to Beaty, was caused by unscrupulous publishers who were unwilling to regulate themselves until forced to by a huge public backlash. Wertham, by his account, was the most reasonable voice during this sordid debate.

So, who is right, Hajdu or Beaty? Did Wertham have a point? Beaty's revisionism is valuable in forcing us to see Wertham as a complex historical figure, not an easy-to-dismiss cardboard crank. Still, Hajdu is right to point out that Wertham's ideas of proof were extremely primitive, more forensic than scientific. (Wertham had often testified in court cases, which skewed his sense of evidence.) Wertham thought he could prove his point by stringing together many anecdotes collected from his clinical research, making his claims virtually unverifiable.

More to the point, much of what Wertham thought was harmful could be seen as nurturing. Take Wertham's contention that stories about Batman and Robin have an unhealthy homoerotic subtext. Wertham noted, "Sometimes Batman ends up in bed injured and young Robin is shown sitting next to him. At home they lead an idyllic life. They are Bruce Wayne and 'Dick' Grayson. Bruce is described as a 'socialite' and the official relationship is that Dick is Bruce's ward. They live in sumptuous quarters, with beautiful flowers in large vases, and have a butler, Alfred. Batman is sometimes shown in a dressing gown. … [I]t is like a wish dream of two homosexuals living together." For this reason, "only someone ignorant of the fundamentals of psychiatry and psychopathology of sex can fail to realize the subtle atmosphere of homoeroticism which pervades the adventures of the mature 'Batman' and his younger friend 'Robin.' " Wertham's fear was that the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder would pervert the sexuality of young readers.

Wertham was half-right on this point: There is something "campy" about Batman and Robin. As numerous gay writers (notably, novelist and book designer Chip Kidd) fondly recall, the Caped Crusader was irresistibly attractive to young readers whose sexuality was already inclined away from heterosexuality. But for many of us today, that's an argument in favor of Batman. Isn't it good for gay kids to have a role model like the Dark Knight? And the element of causality is worth keeping in mind: Batman didn't make readers gay; gayness made Batman attractive to readers.

Wertham shouldn't be mocked as a simpleton or censor, but he was rather prissy and uptight. As terrible as many comics were, they had a wildness and vitality that he couldn't appreciate. Comics had a raw, visceral power, reflecting the plebian underside of American culture. To put it another way, it's a racist and sexist culture that makes racist and sexist comics, not the other way around. And however wretched these comics were, they spoke to real psychological needs in children and teenagers. Kids need monsters and ghouls, supervillains and superfoes, as much as they need parents and teachers. The guardians of childhood face a difficult balancing act: They have to let kids give imaginative rein to their more destructive emotions while also protecting the young from genuinely harmful words and images. With his blunt language and crude simplifications, Fredric Wertham made this balancing act harder, not easier. If he had paid more attention to comic books, Wertham would have realized that he was following down the path of villains like Lex Luthor and Dr. Doom, who start off with good intentions only to become prisoners of their own blind arrogance.

Jeet Heer, a Canadian cultural journalist, is co-editor, with Kent Worcester, of Arguing Comics. With Chris Ware and Chris Oliveros, he is editing a series of volumes reprinting Frank King's Gasoline Alley comic strips. His writings can be found on the blog Sans Everything.

Article URL:

"I am the night!"


Holy Molars, Batman


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Tut to Atlanta

New Tut exhibit to stop in Atlanta

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/02/2008

At last, after a year of rumors, we know the truth about King Tut.

The Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University will host an exhibition of artifacts belonging to the boy king this fall, but not the one that already has toured the United States, as previously speculated.

The Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University will host an exhibition of artifacts belonging to the boy king this fall, but not the one that already has toured the United States, as previously speculated.

"Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs," a new exhibition featuring more than 130 artifacts from Tut's tomb and other sites, will have its U.S. premiere at the Atlanta Civic Center from Nov. 15 to May 22, 2009, the museum announced Tuesday. After Atlanta, the exhibit will continue to six other U.S. cities.

Included are artifacts spanning 2,000 years of ancient Egyptian history. Also to be displayed: the latest scientific research about the young royal, who has piqued imagination since his tomb was excavated in 1922.

The team that organized the recent "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" will re-create the four rooms of Tut's tomb for the new exhibition. The king's golden sandals and one of the bejeweled canopic coffinettes that contained his mummified internal organs are among the artifacts displayed.

Tickets can be reserved for the Atlanta run starting Wednesday at or

The new King Tut exhibit will have its U.S. premiere at the Civic Center on Nov. 15.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

More Rem

Music Release today


Release Date: Apr 01, 2008; Lead Performance: R.E.M.; Genre: Punk

''You had placed your trust in me,'' Michael Stipe sings on ''Hollow Man,'' a self-effacing interlude on R.E.M.'s otherwise loud and proud 14th album, Accelerate. ''I went upside down/I emptied out the room in 30 seconds flat...'' You'd almost think Stipe was apologizing for the room-clearing qualities of their last studio album, 2004's somnolent Around the Sun. Ever since drummer Bill Berry left the band in '97, R.E.M. had essentially ceased to rock on record, and fans drifted away during mellow albums both great (Up) and prosaic (Reveal). But it wasn't until the attenuated, keyboard-smothered Sun — where guitarist Peter Buck seemed to have gone on strike — that even hardcore defenders wondered if the group was begging to be put out of its misery.

But this time they signaled a will to live by hiring producer Jacknife Lee, who'd brought out the aggro side of those other alt-stadium rockers, U2 (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb). And damn if Accelerate doesn't live up to its pedal-to-the-metal title. The opener, ''Living Well Is the Best Revenge,'' starts with Buck's ''Paperback Writer''-on-speed guitar riff and gets even better once Mike Mills' high, McCartney-esque bass fills kick in. Yet it's less the Fab Four's ''I Feel Fine'' than an ''It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)'' redux, thanks to Stipe spitting out his most rapid-fire delivery, cheerfully lashing out at journalists who'd counted them out. This kickoff is a breathless three minutes and 12 seconds, and many of the remaining songs clock in at closer to two — from ''Horse to Water,'' a herky-jerky rave-up, to ''Houston,'' a lovely but too succinct post-Katrina ballad. It all speeds by so quickly, you half expect to hear a traffic cop knocking on their window, asking where the fire is.

That four-alarm blaze R.E.M. are trying to get to is located somewhere around 1984, and they're flooring it in reverse, in a sense, barreling back to the driving energy of their indie beginnings. But Accelerate doesn't really sound nostalgic. Buck isn't busting out the Rickenbackers; he's playing aggressively melodic riffs again, yet they're full of contemporary crunch and compression, not jangliness. Stipe's also striving to make the album feel timely — railing against ''business first flat earthers'' (''Until the Day Is Done''), among other anti-conservative broadsides. Occasionally his lyrics fall prey to politicized smugness, but mostly he commits to confronting tough times with a mixture of thoughtful self-examination and playful combativeness. ''You're going down down down,'' he promises any sparrers on ''Horse,'' the punky high point, after describing himself as ''a bantamweight with a mouthful of feathers.'' Heavyweight champeen or not, Stipe's got his fighting spirit back, and so does his band. A-

DOWNLOAD THIS: Hear ''Horse to Water'' and the rest of Accelerate at