Oppressed Christians

Has anyone else seen this video? It’s unbelievably paranoid, no?

I’m not sure what part of “your religion stops where my government starts” they don’t understand. They can say anything they want, and usually do. What they can’t do is fire someone for being homosexual, or censor television whose morality they don’t approve of. That’s it. They just don’t get to control shit for the rest of us. But they are perfectly free to avoid watching shows with gay characters, they don’t need to go to same sex weddings, etc. etc.

I’m never going to get this kind of “I don’t get to control you therefore I’m oppressed” type of thinking.


Oy. I got entirely roped into the CSI marathan that was on Spike this weekend, and today they’ve moved onto CSI: NY episodes.

I come home from teaching Gender Studies 100 (specifically a piece by Ana Castillo) and it turns out the “Jane Doe” is really a “John Doe” — which conclusion they come to by looking up the dead trans woman’s skirt.


Maddow Style

Did anyone else notice that Rachel Maddow seemed “poofier” tonight? Maybe it was just her hair. Maybe it was an accident. It’s not so different than how she usually looks, but different enough that I noticed. And was distracted by it.

Please, MSNBC, don’t make her over into a fembot, not when she can look like this. Which jeez louise, even I find hot hot hot. Personally, I love that she makes all the women on TV look kind of overdone with the big hair and big jewelry and pounds of makeup. It’s like she’s introduced a new gender to television, and it’s about time someone did!

& Here’s an article from New York magazine about her, if you can’t get enough!

Sunday Night Shimmy

An old friend of mine is in town, and she was asked to guest drum at a bellydance performance tonight. As I’ve rarely gotten to see her drum, I went, & dragged my sister with me. (Betty, sadly, is not very mobile). I’ve seen bellydance performed before, but tonight, on top of my usual introverted discomfort, I kept thinking about how I was supposed to be in that room.

The dancers were all lovely. The first act, Sri Devi, was (I’m guessing) still pretty young to dancing, but she was fabulously talented and funny and fun in her performance. She seems like the type of performer who has a real star in her.

The final performance, by Hannah Nour, was really a hit out of the park. She had what I call “sea legs” for a performer – the way sailors are more comfortable on a boat than on land, some people are more comfortable performing than not. (Betty was that kind of actor.) She showed no self-concsiousness, seemed like she was really engaged and enjoying herself, and was technically stellar. And her clothes! Like a Hindu Love Goddess, all light blues and greens and whites and pinks – like a female version of the traditional representation of Rama.

Because on one level bellydance is a seductive art, sexual, exhibitionist, and yet it’s also social. It’s not burlesque. And I couldn’t figure out how to watch, at all. Most of the guys sit there just kind of ga-ga (in a more or less sexualized gaze) and a lot of the women were other dancers who were there to cheer on their friends or learn or just to appreciate the art.

But I was just there, looking like a dyke in the corner, and now that I’m aware people see me as a lesbian, it’s all I think about. I suppose if I actually desired women, I’d sit there like most of the guys, enjoying the sensuality & beauty of the ladies dancing without feeling weird about it. But because my desire, per se, is not engaged, I just sit there wondering how to watch, because it’s still titillating – dance is innately seductive, no?. I find myself tied up in knots, and kind of uncomfortable despite the performers being very comfortable with themselves and the dance form.

(I know, I know; I’m self-conscious & I think too much. Tell me something I don’t know.)

But despite my own silliness, DO GO see bellydance if you can! It’s a cool art form. The night I saw tonight happens every Sunday (thought with different performers, I think).

More Death Shows: Cold Case

I watch a lot of death shows, as I call them – the forensics, the procedurals, the investiigation shows. I’m a big fan of Cold Case, especially: the premise is that they have to take on a cold case – a case where the leads died, mostly – and solve it. So there’s a kind of historical quality to it, and some of the early shows I saw involved a woman who got an abortion when it was still illegal, and another about a gay bashing. Every episode I’ve seen involving LGBT folks is sympathetic, like the one my mom saw about an FTM, and “Best Friends,” which I saw recently, about an inter-racial lesbian relationship in 1932; Tessa Thompson played the African American half of the couple, and wore some natty suits.

But I find this show’s real appeal is the cultural history & the music: because it’s historical, they play a lot of good shit when they’re recreating a scene in the 1950s, or 60s, or 1978, or 2004. Lo & behold, someone has compiled all of the music from all the different episodes. Like Episode 21, “Torn,” which has music by Bessie Smith and Jelly Roll Morton, or Episode 6, “Static” with Gene Vincent and Little Richard.

Musicheads, do check it out. They show hours & hours of it late at night on TNT.

Next Stop

Anyone else catch any of the July 4th Twilight Zone marathon? Great stuff. I just saw Of Late I Think of Cliffordville which is particularly cruel, and stars Albert Salmi, who also played Smerdjakov in The Brothers Karamazov in 1958.

I also caught the only Jack Klugman TZ I’d never seen – Death Ship. & I love Jack Klugman, yes, because of The Odd Couple, but mostly because of Quincy, which, imho, gave birth to all of the forensic shows on TV now (most of which I watch).  But I have to go to sleep, despite the next one up being Printer’s Devil with Burgess Meredith. (It’s a good one.) I used to tape these when the marathons were on WPIX here in New York, but now they’re all on DVD, which makes it a bit easier. (& It took me borrowing the DVD collection to finally see the Buster Keaton TZ, which they never, ever show during these marathons.)

I really do love this series, and love Rod Serling – not just for The Twilight Zone, but because he fought and fought and fought the censorship that came with advertisers’ sponsorship of television, and during an era when they almost didn’t win. As he put it:

“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”

Now there was a fine tilt at an inexorable windmill, but at least he got a few stunning seasons of work done, which we’ll have forever.

A Good Catholic Boy

The memorials for Tim Russert have been like one huge celebration of the culture I was raised in – working class, political, Catholic, and Democratic. I bawled straight through Bruce Springsteen’s performance of “Thunder Road” because I grew up with Bruce; whenever the E Street Band came on WNEW-FM, someone cranked it up and most of my family sang along while the rest of us shook our heads and rolled our eyes at the sheer silliness of it, the life of it. The only people with dry eyes at Russert’s memorial had to be the people who didn’t know the lyrics.

He was raised by Jesuits, and like Jack McCoy once said on Law & Order: “When you’re raised by the Jesuits, you end up either obedient or impertinent.” But it strikes me, upon hearing so much about who Tim Russert is, and the ways his culture and community cross paths with my own, that a well-raised Catholic is not one or the other, but both.

There is nothing like an Irish wake to bring out the story-telling, the luck & the blarney as well as the earnestness and moodiness of this part of the American pie. There’s a sense of grief under all of it, the foreshadowing of the grief that will come later, at night, when the doors close and the phone stops ringing. But I get the feeling that for those in Russert’s circle, there won’t be a time late at night when there isn’t someone on the phone to tell another story of the person who is so sorely missed.

Thanks, Tim Russert, for all those Sundays watching Meet the Press, but moreso, for always choosing the one kid for his team who he thought might never otherwise get picked. That’s the kind of underdog empathy that my upbringing foregrounded, and apparently it was in his, too.


New Law & Order : Criminal Intent tonight at 9PM. Oh, how long it’s been!

#1 Reason to Come to NYC

Tonight Betty & I were watching some combination of Burn Notice, Keith Olbermann, and Law & Order (always L&O), when we heard fireworks out our window. There were some last week too, so we kind of responded with a “must be more of whatever that was.”

It turns out that yesterday, May 22nd, was the 125th Birthday of the Brooklyn Bridge.

So Happy Birthday, bridge of bridges, and well done, Msrs. Roebling: we still love your bridge.

The Brooklyn Bridge is often listed as one of the top three attractions the French come to NYC to see. The other two? That answer tomorrow, but guesses are welcome.

Review: Becoming Drusilla

Nettie, one of our regulars on the MHB Boards, wrote a fantastic review of this book, and I thought more people should see it.

My sister is frustrated, she tells me, because she feels as though she’s the only one struggling with somebody else’s transness. When she goes to her oracles of emotional support (Oprah and Dr Phil), their trans families are in some polished, effortless space where they can say polished, effortless things about their support for their trans relative or friend.

Imagine that: inarticulate struggle doesn’t play well on television. Not a lot of room for “hmm” and squirm and “I don’t really know”.

Now, two weeks spent walking in the rain … there’s a place for a lot of hmming and squirming and “I don’t really know”. Two weeks in which the rain is too loud on the hood of your anorak to hear the other person talk. Two weeks being with somebody, but mostly thinking and reminiscing rather than talking. It’s the antithesis of television.

Becoming Drusilla is as close to the antithesis of television as any book I’ve read. It’s a piece of travel writing, really. Travel writing and a bit of biographic exposition. Because Beard is a very open, clear and entertaining writer the result is a book which is a pleasure to read. Continue reading “Review: Becoming Drusilla”