Thursday, November 10, 2011

Don't Forget to Remember

Sacrificing two minutes of our time is the least we can do in remembrance of so many that have sacrificed so much.
Dad, Alex Meunier on upper left ,1939

(The following is a repost from November, 2010)

The fact that Remembrance Day isn't  recognized as a statutory day of observance in Ontario, Manitoba and Québec is outrageous. 

If we can take a day off to celebrate Queen Victoria with a 2-4; we can certainly take a day off to remember and observe the sacrifice of generations of Canadians who paid dearly for the country we have today.
How we feel about the politics and ideologies that precipitated these global conflicts is irrelevant.  

Whether we are peace-niks or raving warmongers, Remembrance Day is about saluting our veterans not the wars they fought in.

My Grandfather and Father served in both WWI and WW2 respectively.  They rarely spoke of their experiences.  If I did hear of anything of what happened overseas, it was from a family friend and usually after a few beers ( and by few, I mean cases).  There was only one time that I asked my father the proverbial: “What did you do in the war, Dad?”

The reply was quick and short: " I drove a motorcycle through the fucking mud in Sicily.

He was a bike courier in Italy with the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's) and served in France and Holland as well.  

November the 11th was a big deal growing up. During the late fifties and middle sixties in Moncton, we all took 11/11/11 very seriously. My parent's social life revolved around the local Legion.  In school, we prepared for the day in class by making poppy cut-outs and drawing white crosses with the words "Lest We Forget" on faux parchment paper.  We stood in class and recited "In Flanders Field" then kept a two minute silence which was effectively policed by Nuns with rulers. 

In Flanders Fields 
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) 
Canadian Army 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Later, as I entered the Beatles generation, the whole sixties anti-war movement was in full form. We were anti-war, anti-authority, anti-establishment. We perversely viewed veterans as the honour guard for the military machine. What we didn't see was that the universal soldier was as much victim as victor. Ironic then, that at the dawn of the enlightened age of Aquarius, life was so black and white; so good guys and bad guys. 

World War I was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Greed and revenge ensured that wasn't to happen. After a brief time-out for a global depression, the world blew up again.

The world will likely not change. As long as men are greedy for power and money, we will have the abomination of war. The world even more dangerous now. There are no rules of engagement, only rules of terror.
But the human spirit is resilient.

My Father and I were never close. I wasn't the tool carryin', car fixin' kind of son he could relate to.  Nevertheless, with age, I have come to appreciate how difficult it must have been to have served six years of his young life in a land so far away; so strange and so dangerous. 

I wonder what future my Dad must have imagined as he boarded that train in 1939 or how it might have been if he hadn't.

How will you remember?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Want to see my vacation photos?

First poutine Caissie Cape
Enjoying the first of many poutine rapées.
Sometimes it's nice to hang up the keyboard and hang out with people in the real world.

We did just that this summer and not to bore you with vacation photos - well, ok, I will. It's a short compilation and takes just a few minutes.

I wrote about this trip on my post on NewRayCom so won't go on about it here.

Seeing my family after so long and visiting the countryside that was my playground left a indelible impression on me.

I can’t wait to go back.

(Oh, and Georges liked it too!).

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thank You Arthur Laurents

050203Celebs23ARI'm sad at the news of the death of Arthur Laurents. I understand that while he wasn't universally loved as a person; he was respected by everyone that could hum a Broadway tune.

In the fifties, with West Side Story and Gypsy, Arthur Laurents made theatrical history. Later he became famous for his lacerating tongue. At 91, both he and it made a comeback.

Arthur Laurents was famous for saying what was on his mind and doing what he thought was best. These traits made his work courageous and his personal life prickly.

Arthur Laurents met Tom Hatcher in LA in 1954. They moved to NYC, beginning an openly romantic relationship during a time when the practice was far from common, or safe.
Mr. Laurents, whose partner of 52 years,Tom Hatcher passed away in 2006, had this to say about their relationship:
"I had the most marvellous life that anybody could have with another person - that I’m proud of. That’s an achievement - ‘cause most people quit on each other, and we never did. "
In a New York Times Magazine article, Tom Hatcher was described as  part enforcer, part enabler, and part keeper of Arthur's flame and of the grudges. Hatcher made Laurent's writing life possible.

Arthur Laurents, the director, playwright and screenwriter who wrote such enduring stage musicals as "West Side Story" and "Gypsy," as well as the movie classics "Rope" and "The Way We Were," died Thursday. He was 93.

This is one of my favourite sequences from the movie version of "Gypsy".

Friday, April 15, 2011

What Colour is Your Hanky?

Everyone knows that Montreal is one of the gayest destinations in the world. And it's a fact that Tourism Montreal is very eager to promote. 

When I was a young homosexual-in-training and gays had yet to march out of the closet twirling batons and blowing trumpets, I was educated in the refined skill of "code-reading". Upon meeting someone for the first time, there were ways to discern whether your new acquaintance was also "on the bus". 
Was there a copy of Oscar Wilde on the bookshelf?  Does he wear a pinky ring? 

These were the days before decriminalization, before rainbow flags and pink triangle pins. Before the state was kicked out of our bedrooms.
Coding is a common way to show affinity to a group or tribe, i.e. secret handshakes, passwords, Louis Vuitton bags.

In the seventies a subset of gays very ingeniously used a hanky colour code to signal their sexual activity preference. Surprisingly, it was one of the few things that straights hadn't appropriated.

In this article, Alex Dunphy who is waaaay too young to remember the original codes, comes up with some new ones of his own in this Tourism Montréal article.
  • BLACK HANKY – INTO S&M: For all those interesting in the black hanky, sounds like your kind of place would be L’Aigle Noire on Sainte-Catherine. Full of all the leather and chainmail you could wish for, it’s definitely the place to get your kink on.
    GREY FLANNEL HANKY – LEFT: OWNS A SUIT, RIGHT: LIKES MEN IN SUITS: Grey flannel means you love a nice crisp suit. Worn in the left pocket means you own and like wearing suits. 
    Hanky Code - Peaches

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fran Lebowitz: Reflections on Austen

Fran Lebowitz explains why she thinks Austen is popular for all the wrong reasons.

"Any artist who has that quality of timelessness has that quality because they tell the truth. Jane Austen's perceptions don't date because they are correct, and they will remain that way until human beings improve themselves intrinsically, and this will not happen."

Saturday, March 5, 2011

But I Don't Want to be the Black Swan!

russiandancecortes_2This post is inspired by the film, The Black Swan. I loved the movie; even with it's Red Shoes melodrama and totally over the top direction.  I was moved by Nina's hunger for fame and cried when her obsession for perfection destroyed her.  She won the role of Odette, the beautiful white swan of Swan Lake, but was destroyed when the evilness of the Black Swan, Odile possessed her.
Like many, I was very eager to fit in as a teen; especially that period of moving from elementary school to junior high.
I was the kid that other kid's moms loved; always eager to help with the dishes, polite and amusing. Yeah, you guessed it.

And if being gay wasn't enough, I was English in a Acadian Canadian household, my mother (Protestant) wasn't married to my father and we lived in a part of town that "nice" people warned their kids to stay away from.

Unlike my friends in the "Bowery" (as my dad liked to call our street), I took the other tack and choose to live a life as a saint.  This engendered some martyrdom at the hands of one bully in particular, but I was sure that if I stoically suffered through it, that I would sit at the right hand of God and close to Father Kelly.

Now, being the best little boy may have worked in pre-puberty, but once hormones kicked in and  my friends started swapping spit with girls instead of swapping comics with me, I realized I had to pull a "Sandy" and shake things up a bit.

So I starting sneaking smokes. But because of an unfortunate incident when Tommy and I, in a rush to get rid of the evidence, smoked a whole pack of Export A's behind the church, I couldn't look at another cigarette for at least -  a year.

I tried swearing; no more grammatically correct  sentences with polite "thank you's"  and "you're welcome's".  This, of course didn't apply to my friend's parents. How hard could it be?  Swearing was the lingua franca of home.

The result was humiliating.  My girl friends (platonic), would just giggle. It wasn't working. Seems I was just too good to be bad.

I was to play out the rest of my life as Sal Mineo to James Dean, as Jimmy Olsen to Clark Kent (okay, maybe not the best example).

Even today, I hesitate to let it all out – to let my evil queen reign supreme.  Yes, I may lose my temper on occasion and may not always at my best, but in public, or on a public platform such as a blog; I tend to be "safe for general consumption".

This is not a way to gain a following or to be noticed.

You have to be controversial. You have to have some edge – be a bad ass.
However, I find that there are many very nice people who are huge stars in the blogosphere. Even Perez Hilton has become well, nice. 

Do I have to pull a Sandy again to get noticed?  Is this grade nine all over again?

No, I'll just be me. But if someone thinks they can come by and slap me around, well, this martyr can now kick some butt!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Too Early for Cocktails?

It's Friday!

Is it too early for cocktails?
Seems Spike Jones never thought so. This trailer is from 1945.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Diana Day on Oprah!

My gal pal, Fanny has invited me over to her pad this afternoon to watch Diana Ross on Oprah. Knowing that I'm a huge Miss Ross fan, it was an offer I couldn't refuse.

Although Miss Ross has aged (haven't we all), she has done so well. Aside from a few unfortunate DUI incidences at airports and highways caused by that demon liquor, she has, for all her diva statue, remained remarkably sane. And I might add, after watching Cher in "Burlesque" still human.

This video from one of the Diana Ross and the Supremes host The Hollywood Palace shows a side of Diana that many people haven't seen. It's not the "Baby Love" or "I'm Coming Out" diva here. It's a very young Divette who, in a very rare moment for her, gives her total attention to her co-star on stage. You can see that she is totally in awe of Ethel Waters. As well she should be.

Ethel Waters was a legend. Her singing of Irving Berlin's "Suppertime" tears me apart every time I hear it.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Is Glee Causing Homophobic Backlash?

I came across this disturbing story in the Toronto Star today: Dozens in Gay Village harassed by teens
kurt-gets-pushed-2_6Crossing guard Phil Ogison has had slushies thrown at his face.
Gay Village local Buddha Poitras spends many afternoons scrubbing pop off his windows.
And three weeks ago, Barbara Brown watched two teens walking down the street, loudly musing whether they should go “gay-bashing again…
In January, local florist Paul Winsor told police a group of 12 students believed to be from nearby Jarvis Collegiate Institute doused him with frozen drinks.
Days later, 30-year-old Ryan Lester, was kicked in the face and called a “faggot” at a Church St. restaurant.
Does this sound familiar? If you’re a fan of GLEE, you may find a familiar theme here: slushing, harassment, bragging about bashing gays…

It seems from the report that a source of some of this behaviour is a high school situated nearby, Jarvis Collegiate.  I don’t remember this kind of shit going on when I lived in the neighbourhood – and this was before the major advances in LGBT civil rights. 

Could this be a Glee backlash?  Are the meatheads in school proudly associating themselves with the football team and head bully (and closet gay), Dave Karofsky?

Just as incidents of homophobic assaults have risen with the rise of equal rights for gays, has Glee, by being so G-A-Y, contributing to boys establishing their masculinity by over compensating like Dave?

It reminds me of how the most racist and bigoted adults I knew in the seventies would split their guts at things that Archie Bunker said.  And you’d ask yourself –“Don’t they get it?”  I guess they felt it didn’t apply to them. Or maybe they didn’t give a fuck because the dude’s funny and validates their own prejudices. 

Maybe that’s what these punks are doing; wearing their bigotry like shields to protect them from deadly gay rays.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Black Swan 2: Epidemic

Might be lost on you if you haven't seen The Black Swan, but I think you still get the point :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Carol and Eydie Duet

I know, I know; I'm showing my age.
But great talent and good taste is timeless.

Exhibit A:

Friday, January 21, 2011

My Favourite Musical…Today.

"Well, someone tell me, when is it my turn?
Don't I get a dream for myself?
Starting now it's gonna be my turn.
Gangway, world, get off of my runway!
Starting now I bat a thousand!
This time, boys, I'm taking the bows and
Everything's coming up Ray!
Everything's coming up Raymond!
Everything's coming up Ray!
This time for me!
For me! For me! For me!"
Think they'd ever remount an all male version of Gypsy?

Louise's story of always being second resonated with me so much when I first saw this musical classic. I was always silver, never gold; always the B student who had potential, never the A one whose potential was always very evident and celebrated.

I rooted for Louise. I shouted from my seat - "Sing out, Louise".  I felt her pain when she wasn't the girl Tulsa needed.  And when she morphed into Gypsy Rose Lee, me and a million other ugly ducklings strolled down that ramp right along with her and were FABULOUS!

I was thinking of about trying to decide what my favourite musical would be should anyone ask.  It's an impossible question. Like anything, your favourite changes depending on the mood you're in.

I love Sondheim, love Bernstein, love Rogers. But if I really had to give one show as the one I'd take to a deserted island, it would have to be Jules Styne's fable of Miss Gypsy Rose Lee.
It's got it all: comedy, drama, song, dance and a bit of burlesque.

"You either got it, or you ain't and this show's got it!?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and Ethel Merman Belt It Out!

I love the comment left on the YouTube site:
"Streisand! Merman! Garland! My god, it's the Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt of gayness"
Streisand mentions her next project - a little something called: Funny Girl! Heard of it?

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Dream is a Check–Time to Cash It!

"We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.
In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. 
Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood -- it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. 
Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, "Too late." Martin Luther King Jr.
This quote was included in Seth Godin's blog this morning. As a subscriber, I read his posts every morning. I'm reposting it here in full as there is little to add or comment on other than to say - it's so true.  We all have checks in our pockets that remain useless until we cash them. 
(via Seth's Blog)
Cashing the check
A check in your wallet does you very little good. It represents opportunity, sure, but not action.
Most of us are carrying around a check, an opportunity to make an impact, to do the work we're capable of, to ship the art that would make a difference.
No, the world isn't fair, and most people don't get all the chances they deserve. There are barriers due to income, to race, to social standing and to education, and they are inexcusable and must fall. But the check remains, now more than ever. The opportunity to step up and to fail (and then to fail again, and to fail again) and to continue failing until we succeed is greater now than it has ever been.
That LIFE cover above is especially poignant given what happened last week in Arizona.  The sixties saw visionaries and champions of civil rights cut down by a society afraid and suspicious of change; but we must change.
Today we seem to be bankrupt of leaders whose vision extends beyond their own political party's interests; whose decisions are determined not by the latest constituent poll but by principles. To take control of our leadership deficit, we've got to support visionaries and reject pragmatists; encourage idealism and urn our back on ideologues. Are politicians our holding a lot of our checks in their pockets. It's time they cash them.

Yes We Can Can - Alan Toussaint

Friday, January 14, 2011

Much Ado About Money For Nothing

It looks like I maybe swimming against the current on this one, but after turning this around in my head for a couple days, I am coming out as a supporter of the recent Canadian Broadcast Standards Council  CBSC decision to prohibit the word "faggot" in the song Money For Nothing, to be heard on Canadian airwaves.
The council (CBSC) is an independent, non-governmental group created to administer standards established by its members, Canada's private broadcasters. Its membership includes more than 700 private radio and TV stations across the country. 
Last year, a listener to radio station CHOZ-FM in St. John's complained that the '80s rock song includes the word "faggot" in its lyrics and is discriminatory to gays.
The broadcaster argued that the song had been played countless times since its release decades ago and has won music industry awards.
A CBSC panel concluded that the word "faggot," even if once acceptable, has evolved to become unacceptable in most circumstances
"See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup
Yeah buddy that’s his own hair
That little faggot got his own jet airplane
That little faggot he’s a millionaire"

Do those lyrics do make you wince? They certainly did me in 1985. But we were all mesmerized by MTV then and watched the story of this little narrative play out with totally cool computer animations. The offending words made you take notice. But they were lost in the song's wicked music hook. And, it had a great beat to dance to. -  well, so does dancehall music.

We have evolved since 1985. Gays have put up with a lot of shit up until a short time ago. The hearing of that word shouted at you freezes your soul and fills you with panic. The word was and is often followed by sticks and stones. (and much worse)

Much of the defense of these lyrics lies in the context of the song. Mark Knopfler was singing in character as an appliance delivery guy bitching about rock stars and the cushy lives they have. He says he wrote down what they were saying almost verbatim. Not everyone got the irony. Go to any karaoke bar and listen to a bunch of drunks when that lyric rolls up on the monitor. It's right up there with the improvised bridge in Mony Mony.

Mark Knoefler has himself censored this song.   They're not to be found on the Dire Straight's Greatest Hits compilation, nor their live concert footage.  Seems times and sensitivities do change. Point is, the song isn't banned, those words are.
The song is great, with or without the offending word. 

Am I being too sensitive?

Dire Straits - Money for Nothing

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Words. Kill. People.

We can play a little "Travis Bickle" with these words. But no matter where you put the inflection, the meaning is clear. Words do have the power to incite violence and murder.
As a result of what has happened on January 8th in Tucson AZ, there is now a very heated debate with much handwringing from the left and mudslinging from the right taking place. 

Normally, I brush off Sarah Palin, the Tea Baggers and the Fox News assholes who vomit  misinformation and fear mongering as extremists who couldn't possibly be taken seriously. 
Well, guess what?  They are - and by millions of gun-toting Americans.
Her speech today struck me as being very revealing not only because she  made herself and her movement the victim but she said something so ridiculously hypocritical that I  realized these people; Beck, Limbaugh, Roberts etc. are so immersed in extremism that reality is whatever they say it is.  

"Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible." – Sarah Palin, Jan12, 2011

To use the term "blood libel" demonstrates an incredible amount of ignorance and insensitivity.  Do you think she knows what blood libel means? Does she know how loaded those two words are with centuries of prejudice and horrific persecution? The most galling thing about her speech is that fostering a climate of fear and hate is her movement's modus operandi.

And with the collaboration of Fox News who has a loyal audience representing a third of Americans, Sarah and company have a huge  bullhorn with which to broadcast their messages of hate and paranoid unabated.

I agree totally with TV critic, John Doyle who states in today's Globe and Mail:
"It has come to pass: Fox News does indeed define the U.S. political culture and the manner of debate inside that culture. It is to blame, but blame must be tempered by our understanding that Fox News is America and America is Fox News. There will be neither silence nor a change of tone until the Fox News Channel changes, or shuts up. That’s not going to happen. Look at the ratings. The ratings don’t lie."
Words do matter
It's been a while since politicians engaged in civil discourse – on either side of the border. Fox News and the ideologues that speak from it's soapbox are reaping what they sow. 
It's time to plough the crop of crap under.

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