Ew! Faggots!

30 11 2010

It’s hilarious how pathetically hare-brained and schizophrenic Americans can be about anybody who doesn’t poke the right hole–if any hole at all. No matter what rationale you throw at them, they’ll always find something to come back at you with–demise is a slippery slope for the rabid bigot.

The Pentagon recently released a report stating that 70% of U.S. military personnel and their spouses believe allowing gays to serve openly in the United States military would be beneficial, would make no difference, or would pose only a negligible risk. Finally, once and for all, the Pentagon accedes to the body of scholarly research presented by the American Psychological Association which reflects a consensus that gays aren’t bad for the military:

1) Empirical evidence fails to show that sexual orientation is germane to any aspect of military effectiveness including unit cohesion, morale, recruitment and retention (Belkin, 2003; Belkin & Bateman, 2003; Herek, Jobe, & Carney, 1996; MacCoun, 1996; National Defense Research Institute, 1993).

2) Comparative data from foreign militaries and domestic police and fire departments show that when lesbians, gay men and bisexuals are allowed to serve openly there is no evidence of disruption or loss of mission effectiveness (Belkin & McNichol, 2000–2001; Gade, Segal, & Johnson, 1996; Koegel, 1996).

3) When openly gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals have been allowed to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces (Cammermeyer v. Aspin, 1994; Watkins v. United States Army, 1989/1990), there has been no evidence of disruption or loss of mission effectiveness.

4) The U.S. military is capable of integrating members of groups historically excluded from its ranks, as demonstrated by its success in reducing both racial and gender discrimination (Binkin & Bach, 1977; Binkin, Eitelberg, Schexnider, & Smith, 1982; Kauth & Landis, 1996; Landis, Hope, & Day, 1984; Thomas & Thomas, 1996).

But, really, who cares what those scrupulous, scientific-minded experts think? They’re only experts, after all. I mean, who do they think they are, telling us about things which we know nothing about, and which they know scores more about? By no means is it a form of reverse snobbery to downplay knowledge and glorify redneck anti-intellectualism. Oh, no.

I think it’s pretty clear among rational people that DADT is a ridiculous relic of a benighted past, and that the United States is an embarrassment to other industrialized nations for preserving a policy (in several Courts of Appeal) which even Israel long ago threw out. Yes. Israel–where people get bombed in the street and drag queens get abducted by their families and beaten black and blue by their male relatives for three days straight before they are able to escape and call the authorities. However, the type of fascism hatched by 19th-century thinkers such as Hegel and mastered by 20th-century drones such as Germany’s National Socialists is adept at pulling virtually any chimera out of its butthole. The usurious Jews are the cause of our economic inflation and poverty, not the reparations due France as stipulated in the Treaty of Versailles. It is the homosexuals who threaten our unit cohesion, not a recalcitrant or belligerent attitude. Besides, it’s not as though homosexuals spend their lives conforming in order to survive.

You see, truth and reason are less palatable when one’s appetite is better sated by the raucous noise of charismatic crying and the saccharine bray of teary-eyed sophistries.

The argument supporting DADT can be said to take one or more of the following forms, and these are just as easily disproved in the accompanying textual interpolations. (Shockingly, all of the following arguments were also provided me by a homosexual servicemember, who appeared almost schizophrenically self-defeating about his sexuality.)

1) “Most military personnel do not wish for gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military”.

Yes they do. The Pentagon report provided above indicates that most personnel and their spouses either do think gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military, or they don’t care. Besides, military authorities are not obliged to seek the permission of their subordinates when making policy. For example, drill sergeants do not ask their subordinates, “Do you want to do a push-up?”, let alone, “Do you want to work alongside women and black people?”

2) “Gay people shouldn’t be professing their sexuality in the military anyway. The military is about conformity–everybody is the same whether they are male or female, black or white, or gay or straight.”

First, gays do not have to profess their sexuality to be kicked out of the military for it. We already know that military authorities consciously seek out homosexuals by conducting investigations into the private lives of suspected cock-gobblers (which effectively violates the terms of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell anyway by “asking”).

Second, if a person’s sexuality doesn’t matter in the military because everyone is treated as the same anyway, then it shouldn’t matter to military authorities whether a person is openly gay. By simply stating that sexuality is irrelevant in the military, one only contradicts one’s own anti-gay position by admitting that it doesn’t matter.

Third, homosexuals are masters of disguise–they have to do it to survive.

Fourth, even if homosexuality were a choice, so is religious faith, yet one could not expel a servicemember for openly professing a religious faith, thus, just as one would be unable to expel a servicemember for professing a religious faith,  one would be unable to expel a servicemember for professing a sexual preference. They would both be choices, and both would be professed, no?

3) “Americans are different from Europeans, Canadians, Israelis, etc., so they shouldn’t be expected to follow the same ethic of equality.”

This is perhaps the stupidest argument I have ever encountered in support of DADT. This argument consists of an informal logical fallacy of the following type: “A is different from B, therefore A should not be like B”. This is a fallacy because it is a non sequitur. If A is different from B, it does not follow that A shouldn’t be like B, because the term “is different” does not equate with “should be different”. That Americans do not value equality as much as, say, the French does not mean that Americans shouldn’t value equality as much as the French. Indeed, if anything, the whole body of thought and reasoning supporting the principle of social equality suggests that Americans should emulate the Europeans, Canadians, etc.

Besides, if Americans are less tolerant than Canadians and western Europeans, don’t you think the problem is with the intolerance itself, and not the attempts to eradicate it? Re-affirming the military’s endemic prejudice rather than nipping the problem in the bud and holding the military accountable is kind of like dealing with bullying by telling the victim of the bullying to be less of a sissy rather than telling the bully to stop bullying. The bullying victim should be allowed to be a sissy without being bullied for it; similarly, homosexuals should be allowed to serve openly in the military without being kicked out for it. So don’t punish the homosexual for preferring members of the same sex–punish the homophobe for being homophobic. And, no, they aren’t allowed to use “religious freedom” as an excuse for their behaviour any more than they would be allowed to use “religious freedom” to excuse slavery or stoning adulteresses to death, for we know that such “freedoms” also constitute grave violations of freedom.

Compare the above image from a 2001 (really, it’s from 2001) anti-homosexual military manual (called Dignity and Respect) with the 1950s anti-homosexual propaganda at the beginning of this post. What I want to know is, where is the poster on appropriate heterosexual conduct? What about assaults against women, which are probably a bigger problem? (It’s probably out there–but is it pegged as a “heterosexual” threat?) Apparently, in the eyes of the military, homosexuals are more sexually “disrespectful” than heterosexuals, even though the vast majority of rapists are heterosexual males. All gay men want to do is suck each other’s dicks and have some neat butt-sex. Hardly a threat to women. If the military viewed heterosexuals as being every bit as capable of sexual misconduct as homosexuals, there would be no need to publish content geared specifically towards homosexual misconduct. Once again, we see how easy it is for individuals possessing below-average IQs to confuse the concept of “homosexuality” with that of “sexual perversion”.

Maybe the intent of that particular page in the manual was to say, “Look, we have to kick them out for being gay, but we have to show them dignity and respect in doing so.” But that is like asking a death-row inmate what flavour of ice-cream they would like for their last meal. How is it showing a person dignity and respect by kicking them out of the military for being gay? Discharging an individual in a “respectful” manner doesn’t change the fact that the action of the discharge itself is still demeaning, so trying to be nice about the way you do something mean is just pretentious and contradictory.

I just don’t understand why this is such a big hairy deal for a country that constantly brags, day in and day out–and they won’t let you tell them otherwise, or you’ll be pegged as unpatriotic–that it is “the best country on earth” or the “land of the free” or “blessed” by God (what a joke). First, if God is to bless America, it is because it needs it, not because it deserves it, given how much it has lagged behind other countries in terms of human rights and standard of living; second, it isn’t the “land of the free” when citizens aren’t free to serve in the military because they’re attracted to people of the same sex (or marry each other for that matter); third, it isn’t the best country on earth. It might have been in, like, 1781, but now that honour probably belongs to Sweden or Finland. If you want to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. And that means getting over your irrational, childish fear of two men licking each other or two women caressing each other’s breasts, looking at the evidence (which overwhelmingly supports repeal), and doing what other countries have done, because the title “God’s Gift to Earth” isn’t heritable–you have to earn it (and even then, you’d still sound like a vainglorious douchebag). You have to take your head out of your arschloch, admit you have mistakes, take others as examples, and change yourself accordingly before you will deserve that title.

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Retro Christmas Music Countdown!

27 11 2010

Anybody who knows me knows that I am a big, fat Christmas whore. Not because I like to celebrate the advent of Christ’s coming to earth–neither I nor my family are religious–but because of the music, cooking, decorating, and, perhaps most of all, the seasonal postmarks, which are still honoured by pagans everywhere as “yule”, or the “wheel” of the year. Recognizing the seasonal cycle was important for pre-industrial peoples, who used them to determine when to sow, when to harvest, when to ration, etc. Winter solstice, co-opted by Christians, marks the dark night of the year–the beginning of the return of light. At this, the shortest day of the year, there is a unique tension between a supreme darkness and a creeping luminescence. I still like to recognize the cycles created by these forces, since they keep me grounded in nature.

Because of all of this suspense, Christmas is an exciting time of the year. Perhaps the funnest part of the Christmas season (which begins with Advent–itself beginning four Sundays before Christmas–and ends with Twelfth Night, in January) is the music. I don’t mean Mariah Carey’s latest Christmas album–I mean the golden age of popular Christmas music, which extends roughly from 1940 to 1971, and includes every genre from jazz to pop to motown. For some reason, the Christmas music recorded during this period has a melodic, magical warmth that is almost haunting. It is filled with chimes, bells, soft drums, gingerly-strummed guitars, and rich, resonant solos backed by sweet, Disney-esque choirs. None of it is ever over-wrought.

It also brings back memories (and I am not nostalgic). The selections in the following list of Christmas tunes (which range from ca. 1942 to 1971) were all recorded before I was born, but they were recorded largely, although not exclusively, by my grandmother on a cassette tape in 1979 (the year after I was born) as a Christmas present, and I have attempted for the past two Christmases to collect the very same tracks from the Internet in digital audio format. Serendipitously, I have found not only the majority of these Christmas relics, but also a smattering of other magical-sounding mid-century tracks which should warm the heart as well as any hot toddy.

I think the following list of songs should provide the most adorably kitschy and memorable soundtrack to Christmas for any child or adult. Unfortunately, try as I could, I couldn’t find a pleasingly retrospective rendition of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”. I wanted to find one, because I know I’ve heard it before, but, alas, I came up empty-handed. I entreat any one of you to present me with a truly retro version of that sacred tune.

But that is just splitting hairs. Let us focus on what we have. Right now, I have enough to make anybody want to drink a glass of spiked egg-nog in a poodle skirt next to her vintage record-player as she stokes the fire and the snow coats the window panes.

Here is my magical Christmas soundtrack. (If you cannot find the track on itunes.com, try the file-sharing download site Soulseek, at slsknet.org:

32) Twelve Days Of Christmas – Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters
31) The Christmas Song – Nat “King” Cole
30) White Christmas – Bing Crosby
29) Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Frank Sinatra
28) Christmas Dream – Perry Como
27) Yingle Bells – Harry Stewart (as Yogi Yorgesson)
26) Mary’s Boy Child – Harry Belafonte
25) Silver Bells – Brenda Lee
24) The Christmas Party – Harry Stewart (as Yogi Yorgesson)
23) Tell Me A Story – Frankie Laine
22) Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes
21) I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas – Harry Stewart (as Yogi Yorgesson)
20) Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
19) Silent Night – Nat “King” Cole
18) Winter Wonderland – Connie Francis
17) Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
16) Do You Hear What I Hear – Andy Williams
15) The Happiest Christmas Tree – Nat ‘”King”‘ Cole
14) All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth – Spike Jones
13) Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley
12) Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Tony Bennett
11) Mrs Santa Claus – Nat “King” Cole
10) Jolly Old St Nicholas – Eddy Arnold
9) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Gene Autry
8 ) ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas – Steve Lawrence (husband of Eydie Gormé)
7) I Saw Three Ships – Nat “King” Cole
6) O Holy Night – Perry Como
5) Toyland – Doris Day
4) Be Kind to the Street Corner Santa Claus – Harry Stewart (as Yogi Yorgesson)
3) The Little Drummer Boy – Harry Simeone Chorale
2) Frosty the Snowman – Nat “King” Cole
1) Up on the Housetop – Eddy Arnold





Kennis the Menace!

23 11 2010

One of my favourite artists is Kennis Chow, a native and current resident of San Francisco who attended the Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena, California, and graduated from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, in Vancouver, British Columbia. Chow’s art reflects great versatility, ranging in medium from painting to drawing to photography to digital art. Thematically, her art deals largely with the disorientation of urban life, imaginary creatures, and popular culture. In her art we are faced with the serendipitous beauty of small, oft-ignored cultural artefacts, jarring cityscapes, and hybrid animals; ultimately, we are forced to resume posession of our neglected, but highly powerful, imagination. The fact that her family hails from Hong Kong, and that she has visited that city several times, lends an even more cosmopolitan credibility to her works. (All images within this blog entry are created by Kennis Chow.)

One of Chow’s most striking works to date is a 3-dimensional self-portrait in two parts. In the piece on the right, we see her wearing a plain, old, domestic shirt beneath spindly, outstretched, E.T.-like hands which wrap around from the sides, and in the piece on the left the shirt has been replaced by a cityscape being embraced by the same extraterrestrial fingers:

I like the expressions in these portraits. It looks as if she is smiling in her sleep–or in her coffin–as if she knows what is going on and how she is affecting you. I also like the disturbing colours. I like the fact that on the left, her skin is a vegetable green and her eyeshadow crimson, while on the right, her skin is an icy blue and her eyeshadow a jet black, basically creating deep, black pits for eyes. I think the reason I like this work so much is that I am constantly surrounded by canned, boring, Midwestern, meat-and-potato standards of beauty, and this piece is just so refreshing in all of its disturbing cleverness.

Another provocative work by Chow is “Peacock Hunter”, made with acrylic and pen on paper with egg shells.

First of all, I love the fact that the pig-nosed face resembles that of Tubbs, the inbred, bizarrely fetishistic, northern English housewife from the BBC comedy series The League of Gentlemen. If anybody reading this knows about Tubbs, you’re probably already spitting out your blood pudding and tea in a gurgling and pathetic sort of hysterical laughter right now. But moving on from such obscure references, again we see the knowing, almost nonchalant expression on the face. Then the peacock feathers trailing away from the broken egg shells and into the mouth on either side, as if the “hunter”, if that is what she is, has eaten the contents. Now if THAT is not provocative, what is? I mean, where do you ever get to see a depiction of a woman eating peacock foetuses? It makes me think of Sylvester the Cat popping Tweety Bird into his great feline maw–but with a far subtler humour. In all seriousness, though, I think it’s the mark of an Edgar Allan Poe or Stephen King of the darker, more shadowy side of the visual art world.

The following digital series perfectly epitomizes the urban disorientation of Chow’s work. In it, we see a mélange of characters juxtaposed in an unintelligible heap, with cut-outs of architectural motifs serving as a background:

These images remind me of my days working at an independent, single-screen movie-house in the well-heeled west side of Vancouver, which consists largely of single-family houses with front lawns and backyards. The movie-house itself is located in a strip-mall which includes a Chinese restaurant, a bowling alley, an educational supplies shop, a hardware store, a McDonald’s, and an upscale urban grocer. So, already, it is random. The theatre had a high turnover, quirky and eccentric employees–idiots savants–with clashing personalities, and a retrospective/vintage ambience. It was also a regular venue for the Vancouver International Film Festival. Boy was that a crowded, frenetic mish-mash of personalities on-the-go. To top it all off, a scene from one of the “Twilight” movies was filmed there, and the film crew added even more retro decor for the event. Afterward, the theatre occasionally entertained the small throng of teenage girls asking sheepishly if they could step inside upon the hallowed ground graced by Pattinson himself to take photographs of the teen heartthrob’s scary vampire lair. Normally they would have been filming in Forks, Washington, in the rainforest just west of the Seattle coastal region. So it’s the perfect depiction of that weird, hodge-podge coalescence of diverse personalities in an urban/suburban setting.

Finally, there is the most disturbing work I have encountered yet. I think it is my favourite. It is a monochromatic self-portrait of the artist wearing a mask, steeped in pitch black:

Have any of you ever watched the 1980 David Lynch film The Elephant Man, starring the renowned British actor John Hurt as the title character? It was a cenematic biography on the life of John Merrick, a disfigured Victorian intellectual who fought against prejudice to be treated like a human being despite his deformity. His deformity was so severe that he was forced to sleep upright, lest he suffocate; he ended his life one night, as the film purports, by choosing voluntarily to sleep horizontally–like “normal” people–as an act of ultimate defiance against his fate. Inevitably, as he knew he would, he suffocated to death. This is in the days when, according to rumour, people would visit insane asylums and poke sticks at the “crazy” people behind the bars of the prison cells in which they were sequestered. And then we have the black-and-white stripes of Chow’s shirt, which so uncannily resemble the bars of the padded cells that such social outcasts might be forced to call home. Except in this case, the elephant man is an elephant woman. This work also reminds me of that Twilight Zone episode in which a woman suffers a severe third-degree burn on her face, undergoes an unsuccessful surgery, and is found to be as ugly as before, yet the camera reveals the judgemental and prejudiced medical personnel to be uglier than she, because of their deep, dark fear of something alien. Look at the eyes. They are creepy and limpid, ugly and pleading–filled with the richest human emotion. Beautiful, in other words.

By the way, Kennis Chow and Modenski, Inc., have innovated on the now-utilitarian USB flash drive. They have created an environmentally sustainable version of this product which consists of an inherent technological core and an outer shell made of bamboo with what almost looks like dovetailing in the joints. So, basically, if you buy this product, you get the very same data storage as a normal USB key (I think in this case it contains the storage that would cost you about USD$50 normally), but you get a technological art-piece which has a natural warmth to it, the greater mass of which decomposes almost instantly upon disposal, thus aiding the environment. The device is called Bobo.

Anyway, I highly recommend anything by Kennis Chow. Everything from Elephant Woman to Bamboo USB Key. Now that is what I call provocative. Creative. Innovative. You can view more of Chow’s work by visiting http://www.kennischow.com. Last time I checked, she also sold t-shirts through her Web site.





Well, Hello

18 11 2010

Well, hello.

And welcome.

To my blog.

I thought long and hard (oooh yeah, baby) about what subject matter to base my blog on, because I knew I had so much to say about so many things. At one point I pondered the viability of creating a blog which followed trends in lipstick lesbian hairstyles:

Oh. That’s a picture of Justin Bieber. Well, you get my point. I pondered the idea for a while, but I decided that the subject matter wasn’t substantive enough, so I then decided that I would create a blog about sex, music, and politics. Yes–all three melded into one salacious, seething mass of pithy commentary dripping at times with venom, and other times, the sweetest nectar. I could not separate one from the other–they were like Siamese twin kittens lying in the snug crevasse of my lap, mewing at me with alternating kitten croaks like a fluffy little hydra. But what unites these three seemingly disparate topics, you might ask? In fact, they are not so disparate as they may seem. You see, music and youth culture, sex and gender theory, and politics all reflect opinions about what is right, good, and fair. Music represents aesthetic ideals, politics, views on a justly governed society, and sex, well, sex is perhaps the chief preoccupation of morality–the prime source of all our fears and pleasures.

In this blog, I wish to explore the culture wars and the ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, concomitant to them, to make sense of these ideas inside my own head, and to regurgitate the finished product on top of you, the reader, to sort out for yourself. I cannot promise I will not sneer at your cherished values and flush them down the toilet, but you will certainly make me think harder. That is probably the most important thing of all, even for somebody who is already an inveterate and compulsive thinker.

 

Dante and Virgil in Hell (or, Nasty Studs at the Folsom Street Fair), by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1850)