6/28/2008

Anti-Gay = Anti-American

They won't stop. Religious extremists and American Taliban members like Cathi Herrod (nice name, eh? Wonder how many heads she's enjoyed on a platter or innocents slaughtered?) - I digress - extremists like her will even resort to quasi legal means to subvert the legislative process if it means denying people equal protection under the law and filling her own pockets with cash from the ignorant bigots who make up the Republican Party and its supporting churches.

On Wednesday the AZ Senate voted down her handcrafted anti-gay amendment for the upteenth time. Not satisfied, she and her Republican minions along with the pedophile Catholic lobby decided to go in again through the back door. This is how they managed to get this most anti-American, possibly illegal and certainly immoral deed done according to eye witnesses in the gallery who were monitoring the debates:

Integrity Lost

Tonight's debate was intense for everyone on the Senate floor and those of us watching in the gallery. But what happened to our openly-gay Senators by their colleagues was absolutely disgusting. Senate extremists strategically broke the rules of the Senate, which govern the processes for discussion and voting on bills. During a filibuster-like discussion on another bill during Committee of the Whole, Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor (R-22) and Majority Whip John Huppenthal (R-20), among others, devised a scheme with committee chairman Jack Harper (R-4) to outright violate the rules of the Senate and the rights of Senators Aboud and Cheuvront.

In the middle of their discussion, Senator Harper turned off the microphones of Senators Paula Aboud (D-28) and Ken Cheuvront (D-15) and called on the Majority Leader to make a motion. Then, when Senators Aboud and Cheuvront loudly called for a Point of Order several times, even walking to the front desk where Senator Harper sat, he deliberately ignored their calls. To add insult to injury, these people attempted to justify their actions, even after the Senate President and other Senators admonished them for deliberately breaking the rules. Tonight's actions of these and other Senators have forever tainted that body, and it's important that we all let the people of Arizona know how these individuals acted so unethically.

Heroes Emerge

In the end, it was Senators Aboud and Cheuvront who gave the most impassioned remarks ever heard on the floor of the Arizona Senate.

Senator Aboud spoke eloquently about the irrational fear Senators were expressing by their yes vote, asking, "Do I scare you?" She talked about family values that matter, like love, caring for elder parents and hospital visitation rights, and reminded her colleagues that these are all rights currently denied to people who cannot marry.

After listening to Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-5) describe what she considered her moral superiority to protect families citing civilization from the 18th century and how same-sex marriage will signal the end of civilization as we know if today, Sen. Cheuvront hit the majority hard when he defined the many ways in which the integrity of the Senate was lost today.

Accurately listing the many ways in which the legislative process was prostituted for political gain, Sen. Cheuvront admonished fellow Republican Senators by exposing the tactics of the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP). This sentiment was echoed by Senate President Bee, who pointed out the extreme measures that CAP used to secure votes, while he was explaining his vote on the bill.

Today's Senate session was the culmination of not just a battle over a bill introduced at the beginning of the session in January but in fact was the end result of CAP's tantrum over the defeat of Prop 107 in 2006. Having lost this session on several other bills, including abstinence-only, abortion, school vouchers and a number of other issues, CAP needed this win to fill their coffers.

No one can deny this bill was nothing more than a referendum on the LGBT community – a political fundraiser to fuel the anti-gay industry in Arizona.

Both Sen. Cheuvront and Representative Steve Gallardo sent messages to those in both chambers, stating those who would vote for this divisive measure may not be very secure in their positions after this session and once voters realize how abusive and out of touch they really are.

6/27/2008

The Monsoon Begins

I got to experience the first storm of the Monsoon that hits Southern Arizona yesterday. The North American Monsoon as it is "officially" named occurs in late June across Southern and Central Arizona when the extreme surface heat combines with the a weakened high pressure over the state. The moisture from the Gulf of California to the Southwest then creeps into the area as the prevailing winds reverse.

The result are wonderfully strong afternoon thunderstorms that sweep through the region dumping large amounts of rain. They also tend to be preceded by strong winds and lightning making quite a show across the desert.

Yesterday the temperature went from about 105 degrees to about 73 degrees in just a few minutes as large storms moved up from Sierra Vista and Benson bringing strong winds and rain. The relief in temperature was amazing and made for a cool evening. The wind on the backside of the storm combined with the higher humidity and cool temperature made me almost feel I was at the beach!

I've missed thunderstorms this Spring which are a big part of life back east as the weather changes from winter to spring to summer.

This afternoon, there's been no rain but the temperature has remained in the mid 90's and the sky is overcast once more. It doesn't look like we'll be getting a good storm today but the relief is palpable when you're outdoors!

Certainly, the monsoon shows how different weather can be from what most people normally expect in the "desert"!

6/25/2008

Riding the Marrakesh Express

Sometimes delayed gratification is worth it. After almost 30 years of being a fan of Crosby, Stills, & Nash I finally got to see them live in concert on Monday night.

They performed at the AVA Amphitheater just south of Tucson at the Casino del Sol. Michael and I met our friends from SPI, Sandy and Jeff at the concert. We had seats on the "lawn" which is a grassy area in the back where you can spread blankets and lay back and enjoy the show.

The concert was great, despite the fact that all the guys are now well into their 60's. David Crosby can still power out their classic songs with a nice clarity and Graham Nash can still carry great harmony. While Stephen Stills voice seems to be failing him at this stage sometimes, his guitar playing still can bring the crowd to its feet.

The guys started the show with "Marrakesh Express" and then segued into some of their newer stuff. Just before their intermission they gave us a taste of what was to come in the second half with a great rendition of "Our House".

After intermission they returned to their acoustic roots with one of my and Michael's favorites "Guinevere" and followed it up a bit later with a really rocking version of "Wooden Ships" that featured some great licks by Stephen on guitar. David Crosby thrilled the crowd with "Almost Cut My Hair" which, considering the age of the crowd and the number of bald heads was a bit ironic. They also had an audience sing along with "Teach Your Children".

For an encore the guys reached way back into their Buffalo Springfield roots with "For What It's Worth" which kept the crowd on their feet and singing along.

The whole experience was great. Despite our jokes at the beginning about the drugs of choice being Viagra or Caduet we did get some great whiffs of grass during the night. At least some things never change!

I have to admit to a lot of emotions during the night. It was great to be with our friends Sandy and Jeff to share such a great experience. During the concert I couldn't help think how cool it was to finally be at a rock concert with Michael. We've been to a lot of operas, classical concerts, and theatre events together but never a real rock concert.

Over the past year or so we've really developed sort of a new level to our relationship since I love the music from the early 70's despite being in high school in the early 80's. After many years, Michael has rediscovered his enjoyment of that musical form recently and we've enjoyed sharing what some of that means to both of us.

He'd never seen CSN in concert either, despite their music being a big part of his life as a high school and college student. The fact that the first time we saw these legends in concert was together was a real treat.

I also had to think back to my high school days as well. One of my favorite and most influential teachers is only a couple years older than Michael. She introduced us to a lot of the political thought and culture of the late 60's and early 70's. Her influence was key to my love of CSN and I can recall discussing the song "Ohio" in her class in high school. Recently, I have reconnected with her via email and we've come to exchange emails frequently. Besides being a teacher she was a great friend to her students and got many of us involved in theatre as well. She's one of those people whose influence on my life is indelible and to whom I owe a great deal.

All in all, Monday night was incredible and a night I will always remember, despite not getting to go backstage and doing some hits of Prograf* or Cellcept* with David Crosby!

*anti-rejection medications for liver transplant patients.

6/23/2008

George Carlin "Passes Away"

A comic icon died in Los Angeles yesterday evening. George Carlin, known for his astute with and commentary on politics, religion and American culture died of heart failure about 6pm.

6/20/2008

Feeling Old

Another birthday is fast approaching. Barely more than a week now until I hit 42. In some ways that makes me very happy. After all, this is a birthday I might not have enjoyed without the liver transplant.

But, in some ways I'm feeling a lot older. I've been working with Sonoran Paranormal for a few months now and the majority of people in the group are significantly younger. That tends to make me feel my age culturally if not physically.

Recently, I began working on a project with some of them. It's a talk radio show done at BlogTalkRadio. Since Michael is a musician they asked if he'd do some ambient type stuff for the show opener. He obliged and came up with something sort of reminiscent of the old sci-fi and horror stuff of the 50's and 60's. Very creepy and interesting.

So, I began the work of mixing that down into an opening for the show and after several hours of playing around came up with something that was, I thought, pretty good. It was atmospheric and serious and set a nice tone for the show, at the very end I added a clip from Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Karn Evil 9: "Come inside the show's about to start. Guaranteed to blow your head apart".

I put the finished product out to the people working on the project only to find that they'd already decided to hold a "contest" for someone to write a "jingle" for the show. Then I got the feedback on the work I'd done for them. One of the first was, "I liked it but then there was this crazy 70's music at the end." OK, figured that might be a problem and wasn't sure about it anyway, so I dropped it out and gave them the new cut.

But then, they decided that it wasn't the change in mood they objected too it was just the "old" music. They began wanting to mix in all this current music and versions of Ghostbusters theme among other stuff.

I realized then that I was old. I was completely out of touch with these people and their tastes. I found most of what they were wanting to use banal, insipid, and completely without musical merit. It was drivel at its worst.

I'm not one of those people who can fake being "hip" and "current" and pretend that I actually think the anti-music that people enjoy today has any value as art. If I'm listening to rock music then I'm listening to the great rock bands: Wishbone Ash, Yes, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Band, The Allman Brothers, etc.

At the gym we go to our 20 something manager plays music through the speakers. What he plays is exactly the type of stuff my cohorts in the paranormal group seem to like. Normally, I make sure to take my MP3 player but the other day couldn't find my earbuds so had to forego it and listen to his choices.

I couldn't believe my ears with most of the stuff. During the entire hour we worked out I never heard one real instrument played on a song. Everything was done with electronic "clips". Every single song played used exactly the same drum beat. Not even a riff but just a double beat on bass, no toms, no snares, nothing. There was not a single real guitar just guitar sounds mixed through keyboards and other stuff no riffs, no actual playing. Even the voices were highly enhanced by computers. All I could think was that there was no such thing anymore as real rock.

Even the supposed "rock" acts today can't actually play. I was watching an old MadTV episode yesterday and they had Green Day on as a guest. As I watched them I thought, these guys really don't know how to play these instruments. There was no sense of artistry. Everything sounded the same, no virtuoso licks, nothing. Their drummer played like a high school kid, nothing interesting in it at all. Yet, today, they're considered one of the best rock acts.

But, I suppose that's the way things are now. One of the few bands after the mid-70's that I think ever wrote an interesting lyric was Nirvana. In their song "Teen Spirit" they make a pretty astute observation not only about their own industry but about their own fans:
Here we are now
Entertain us
We're so stupid
And I'm famous
Ain't that the truth. It's all about entertainment now. It's about the money to be made not the music to be written. We don't want to think, we don't want to get involved, we don't want to explore our own desires or feelings, we just want to be entertained and the closer you can get "music" to the other preferred forms of entertainment like TV or Porn then the better it sells.

After all, when you really look at real rock the word "sex" in "Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll" seems to be in there by mistake. The great rock songs weren't about sex, didn't even mention it usually. They were about life, philosophy, changing the world, commenting on the world, or just enjoying what we had.

Today, on the other hand, it's about sex. When Marvin Gaye sang "Let's Get It On" it was wonderfully sexy but also wonderfully romantic.
I've been really tryin', baby
Tryin' to hold back this feelin' for so long
And if you feel like I feel, baby
Then come on, oh, come on
Whoo, let's get it on
Now, as a counterpoint to Marvin we have "Lil Wayne" and "Lollipop":
I get her on top she drop it like it hot
And when im on the bottom she hit the very bottom
Then we in the bed givin gettin head ( givin gettin hed givin gettin head )
Call me so I can make it juicy for ya
Call me so I can do it juicy for ya
See, today it's about entertainment. We went from romance to a porn clip in the span of 30 years. Marvin had a full band behind him including brass. "Lil Wayne" just steals other people's music and plays it on electronic equipment. No, it's not art, it's not the "urban condition". It's a bunch of lazy people with no musical ability making money off of other people who don't have the sense to know they're not even listening to music anymore.

So, on the eve of my 42nd birthday, I feel very old, but at the same time I feel very fortunate to be among those people who can still appreciate good music be it rock, soul, or classical. And to celebrate that fact me, Michael and our friends Sandy and Jeff are going to see Crosby, Stills, and Nash in concert Monday night. Take that Lil Wayne, Evanescence and any of you other posers!

6/09/2008

Sunday Fun

There was a big meeting of my paranormal group this afternoon about a major investigation coming up next week. After the meeting we decided to go bowling. Here are some photos from the games!

6/06/2008

Mesa's Gay Prom King


A high school in Mesa, AZ (near Phoenix) crowned a gay prom king this year. According to a news story:
It was the proudest moment of Kyle Hutchinson's life. As he stood before the crowd at Villa Siena in Mesa on May 3 and was crowned king of the Red Mountain High School prom, he couldn't stop smiling. The velvet hat that read "Prom King 2008." The matching cape. It was all so perfect.

Then the boos came.

It wasn't from everyone, but the dissent rose up from a small, but loud, group of people who were upset, not just because their favorite hadn't been chosen, but because the boy who did win had done something that had never before happened at Red Mountain.

He was prom king and he is openly gay.

His mother and father, who were in the audience to root for their son, described feeling sick at the sound of the jeering.

"He kept telling me he was going to win and he had convinced me," said his mother, Doreen Hutchinson. "When they called his name, we heard the cheering, but then we immediately heard the boos. My heart went into my stomach. It was so awful. My husband said he was expecting it, but I wasn't prepared. It was so sad."

Hutchinson said he felt bad that his parents had to hear his classmates who weren't supporting him. But he also said that their reaction is something he has known his whole life, and he wasn't about to let it ruin his moment. (full story)
What a great kid this is! If only more people had that courage at that age. Of course, this isn't the first time a gay person was prom king or on the court. After all, Roncalli High School, which is a Catholic high school in WI, had a gay runner up for Prom King in the early 70's. They just didn't know their blonde sports star was gay!
"I refuse the idea that 'being gay' is a reason to hate someone. I refuse to accept it, it has become obsolete. Those who do hold that hate in their hearts, well, after my crowning it is obvious they are now the minorities." - 18 year old Kyle Hutchinson

As If We Didn't Know....

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