Saturday, October 13, 2007
On the heels of a Nobel Peace Prize this past week, supporters have run have a full page ad in the New York Times urging the former VP, Al Gore, to run for President in 2008.
In a bid to prompt a response in the affirmative, the "open letter" to Gore, reminds the tireless environmental activist of comments he made in December, 2000,
"I do have one regret: that I didn't get the chance to stay and fight for the American people...especially for those who need burdens lifted and barriers removed, especially for those who feel their voices have not been heard. I heard you and I will not forget."
The group then takes a leap and argues that Gore has obviously not fallen out of love with his country, and that the country needs him now, as does his party and the planet he is fighting hard to save.
A quote by Jarret Wold, Minot, N.D. is the capper, though,
"There's no higher calling than when a Nation asks for you to lead. We're asking you now to lead, and hope you'll rise to it."
If he throws his hat into the ring, the political arena should heat up.
And there should be a lot of fodder for the pundits to feed off...
I've coined this one in anticipation of the race,
Can Al "Gore" Hillary in the next election?
If he does run, it may also be a case of "two stars" colliding...
Gore, after all, is the "main constellation " in the galaxy on Global warming, whereas Fred Thompson is a "star" in his own right - having played a handful of high-profile types in several big-budget Hollywood productions - on occasion, even walking in the shoes of imaginary presidents!
Then, there's the case of Obama...
Gore goes for Barack - er - broke?
Yeah, with a little play on words, the cartoonists should be able to make hay while the sun shines.
In the final analysis, can we really endure another tiresome round of "hanging chads" and sleight of hand at the polling stations?
I say give the man a shot...
But, is he "gore-ho" - uh - "gung-ho" enough to fight the good fight?
Or maybe he's just a sly suitor, waiting to be courted?
You can do that, by signing a petition at: www.draftgore.com
By casting your vote, the man - "that almost was" - may be able to size up the stakes and hazard a guess as to where to hedge his bets!
In the closing "argument", his dream team notes,
"Mr. Vice President, there are times for politicians and times for heroes. America and the earth need a hero right now - someone who will transcend politics as usual and bring real hope to our country and to the world. Please rise to the challenge or you and millions of us will live forever wondering what might have been."
But I am inclined to give Gore some slack with a couple of campaign promises...
One, that he arrange for a chauffeur for Al Gore, Jr.
After all, we don't want him maiming any trees along the highway now, do we?
And, that the former VP pass on "passionate" kisses with Tipper - particularly the showy, forced kind, he's prone to plant smack dab on her lips in the most awkward of moments when a camera's present.
Also, please...no further claims to have invented the Internet!
But, I will concede: Mr. Gore did not create "global warming" as a gaggle of his skeptics accused when "Inconvenient Truth" was released.
And, as Columbo would say, "...just one more thing"...
Try not to be so wooden when you stand at the podium - or anywhere, for that matter - and keep the boring talk to a minimum; yeah, spice up the dialogue with a couple of colorful anecdotes, or maybe a few "Reaganisms", for good measure!
That's about it...
And yes, may the best man - you, too, Hillary - win!
Friday, October 12, 2007
Last evening as I was attempting to wind down after a high-energy rally in front of the Governor's Headquarters in downtown Los Angeles (protesting DEA raids and the failure of Governor Schwarzenegger to take a stand on the compassionate use of Medical Marijuana) reports filtered in about a raid at the Healing Arts Center.
The information was sketchy, but sources and eye-witnesses alike, confirmed that a full scale search was underway.
In today's LA TIMES, Stuart Silverstein reported that Federal agents seized marijuana and cash Thursday night (October 11th, 2007) from the high-profile center in the loft district.
There were allegedly twenty agents in tow who proceeded to search the two-story building for about three-and-a-half hours.
Although a number of items were seized, there were apparently no arrests.
However, the action appears to have been a retaliatory act by the FEDS.
Earlier in the day, protestors at the rally lamented to the press - and anyone within earshot - about the abusive conduct of DEA Officers in recent weeks.
Although there was no "visible" evidence of DEA presence at the protest, it is apparent from what transpired later in the evening, that agents must have been among the crowd undercover.
After a woman distributed hand fliers inviting protestors to an after-party at the Healing Arts Center to celebrate the success of the rally - in a matter of hours - the DEA organized a posse, then sprang into action.
Can't U.S. Citizens protest in the streets of America about relevant social, legal, and political issues, without the threat of retaliation?
It appears there is a turf war between the FEDS and the State of California.
Unfortunately, patients in dire need of medicinal marijuana are caught in the middle.
In spite of the fact California voters approved Bill 215, and the Governor signed the measure into "Law", Schwarzenegger has been derelict in his duties.
To date, he has not offered up any assurances, or even publicly spoken out on the behalf of patients, medical marijuana providers, doctors in the middle of the fray - you name it!
Citizens who were unable to attend the protest on Thursday, are urged to call Governor Schwarzenegger's office and demand that he take a stand on behalf of California citizens with the aim of protecting their rights and putting an end to the DEA raids sanctioned against patients and providers.
The Governor may be reached in Sacramento at: 916-445-2841
In addition, California voters should get actively involved in the e-mail campaign designed to pressure the Governor, as well.
Concerned citizens are urged to send e-mails to the Governor to demand that he ask George W. Bush to recognize California Laws as they pertain to the compassionate use of marijuana, and subsequently, end the "war on patients".
*Interested parties may use ASA's online action center to e-mail a form letter.
In reviewing "Lars and the Real Girl", one critic referred to the project as a love story, but the assessment is misleading.
Through the grapevine, you probably got a whiff of the synopsis for the film.
A shy young man - played expertly by Ryan Gosling - falls in love with an anatomically correct doll he mail-orders from the Internet.
Then, Lars proceeds to introduce the young lady - Bianca - to family and a circle of friends and co-workers as his girlfriend.
Early on, as the story quickly unfolds, it's apparent that Gosling's character is using the "dummy" to bridge an inadequacy while maintaining a grip on reality at the same time.
For example, in spite of the fact the whole idea of a love affair with a manufactured doll seems way out in left field, Gosling's charming character quickly conjures up a support system to protect his imaginary little world.
For example, he quickly figures into the scenario a "wheelchair" to get Bianca around; after all, in the inner-most recesses of his mind, it's obvious that a non-living companion without flesh and blood, cannot walk.
Here, we have the opportunity to glimpse the fascinating machinations of the mind - and witness what its complex reasoning and problem-solving skills are capable of - in the most awkward and unusual circumstances.
This is undoubtedly due to the fact that writer - Nancy Oliver - wrote an insightful compelling script which was just awarded a Humanitas Prize this past week (shared with Ronald Harwood of "The Diving Bell) which honored her for "exploring the human condition and revealing common humanity".
Indeed, the subject matter is handled with good taste and surprising sensitivity; for instance, the segments where Bianca becomes ill resonate deeply and are thought-provoking, at best.
In fact, the tale turns down an intriguing path at this juncture in the film.
A local physician (also a psychologist) treats Bianca under the guise that Lars' companion is the focus of medical care- when, in fact - the "wise old owl" is using the occasion to surreptitiously observe her true patient, Lars.
The functional role is played with understated simplicity by Patricia Clarkson, who turns in an affecting crisp performance, which is right on the money.
The town's people are in on the "skinny" and treat Bianca like a real person.
Initially, the townsfolk react in a classic way: in disgust, with surprise, and full of curiosity!
It stretches one's credulity a bit, though, to imagine that in a small red-neck town - the guys would warm up to the idea and forgo on any taunting of Lars about what appears to be a "fetish", though.
In one humorous moment, one stud retorts:
"Heh, a woman that doesn't talk back, I want one!"
Of course, if you think that the message is that women are expendable: wrong!
In the closing scenes, the underlying theme is underscored, quite explicitly.
There is no substitute for the real thing!
Hence, the title, "Lars and the Real Girl".
You'll figure it out.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Earlier tonight, I posted a report on today's rally at the Governor's office in downtown Los Angeles, about the protest against DEA Agents who have engaged in abusive attacks in recent weeks against the users of medicinal marijuana and the providers.
Word is now filtering in at 8:08 this evening, that the DEA is raiding the ARTS DISTRICT HEALING CENTER, at 620 East 1st Street, in Los Angeles, as I write this post.
Curiously, the ARTS DISTRICT HEALING CENTER, was handing out fliers at the rally, for an after-party at their center, to follow the success of the event earlier in the day.
In retrospect, it appears that undercover FEDS may have snatched up a handful of the fliers, organized a posse, then headed over to the center to retaliate against the protestors!
This is a shocking, disturbing turn of events.
Can't U.S. Citizens protest in the streets, or speak their minds about relevant legal issues of the day, without the threat of retaliation?
As the reports come in, there will be more later...
Today, a rag-tag group of protesters met in front of the Governor's Los Angeles Headquarters to throw a spotlight on DEA raids focused on the suppliers of medical marijuana and Schwarzenegger's failure to take a stand on the issues.
In a post yesterday, California residents were urged to attend and show their support.
A curious mix turned up for the rally...patients in wheelchairs protesting Schwarzenegger's failure to stand behind Bill 215, a vocal faction moved by the cause, a handful of reps on behalf of the cannabis providers, and activists from a myriad of splinter groups joining hands with the specific aim of calling attention to the critical problems that have arisen in recent weeks.
The event was well-planned.
Organizers from "Americans for Safe Access" provided placards for the vigilant to wave to passers-by, bottled water to quench the thirst of the enthusiastic crowd (protestin' is sweaty work, ya know?), and snazzy, eye-catching postcards ready to sign and slip into the mail to the Governor's office in Sacramento urging immediate action against the FEDS.
When I was offered a stub for a raffle, I thought - whoa, nellie - samples of you-know-what; turns out, the coveted prize was for a curious piece of paraphernalia known as a "volcano".
Yeah, I confess, not one to partake in the sweet, pungent-smelling stuff, I am somewhat naive about the rituals of such curious things. Apparently, a "volcano" is used to heighten the potency of the medicinal effect of marijuana. Pardon my innocence!
For an impromptu sidewalk rally, the event was well-equipped with a nifty podium, a quality microphone, and crackle-free loudspeakers. In sum, the impressive array of electronic equipment was at-the-ready for speakers to reach out. And, they did.
A couple of brief, to-the-point speeches, from representatives with "Americans for Safe Access", got the crowed revved up.
Next up, a politician from the Orange County Board of Supervisors, Chairman Chris Norby (who could not attend the rally in person) expressed his solidarity with the protesters via e-mail.
Ah, with a whole spectrum of multi-media gizmos at our fingertips today, it's so easy to reach out and "touch" someone, eh?
In his timely communication, Norby urged Schwarzenegger to implement Proposition 215, the ballot initiative California voters approved in 1996, that legalized the sale and use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Indeed, that was the main thrust of the demonstration today.
In essence, protesters were calling for an end to the illegal and intrusive raids conducted by federal drug agents on Los Angeles marijuana dispensaries that sell the drug to anyone with a doctor's prescription.
"An attack on safe access is an attack on patients," said Don Duncan, a man whose Hollywood dispensary, California Patients Group, was shut down by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on July 25, 2007.
And, at one climatic point, the protesters began to vigorously chant "set Stephanie free", "set Stephanie free", when a young woman, Stephanie Landa, who is serving three years for running a medical marijuana clinic, called in from a State Prison.
Los Angeles City Councilman, Dennis Zine (unable to appear in person), released a statement in support of the dispensaries.
"This year has seen a dramatic increase in federal law enforcement activity surrounding medical cannabis, including raids, confiscation of medicine and plants, and indictments," he stated.
His statements appeared to resonate more sharply when one angry man stood up at the mic, and emotionally recalled the day his front door was bashed in, DEA Agents trashed his home, and then proceeded to haul him away after reading him his rights.
His voice trembled at the memory of the horrifying, humiliating experience.
All the protesters were moved to rally behind him when he cried out passionately,
"Did this man who broke down my door, and arrested me, have a medical license?"
The answer from the crowd was a resounding, "no".
And, what of the children, he wondered aloud?
In this nasty scenario, would the offspring of busted medicinal marijuana users, be placed in foster homes? And, if so, at what cost?
Experts, in their respective areas of specialization, proceeded to briefly discuss the issues from their unique perspectives.
Bottom line, it was apparent to everyone at the rally...if a patient has a prescription for compassionate use of marijuana in California, shouldn't the FEDS look the other way?
Steph Sherer, Executive Director of "Americans for Safe Access", urged Schwarzenegger to coordinate with the 12 other governors whose states have legalized medical marijuana, and send recommendations to Washington.
One has to wonder, after all, who issued the order to step up the gutsy raids?
If it was the Bush Administration's directive, then clearly, Schwarzenegger has to approach the President, and his legal advisers, and come up with an equitable solution to the problem.
At this juncture, with the important business at hand squared away at the podium, the protesters were ready to vent their angst and shout from the rooftops, if necessary.
It was unclear whether the Governor was upstairs in his office, out-to-lunch, or conveniently elsewhere - so, everyone began a chant designed to echo up through the canyons of the city streets to the 14th floor - with the express intent of raising the Governor from his slumber.
No one, not even a representative from his office, dared show their face afterwards.
In my estimation, the Governor owed the protesters the courtesy of a "thank you for coming", or an "I'm glad you brought this to my attention" - a written statement, something!
Yeah, no cigar!
But, the ubiquitous crowd attracted a lot of hoopla down on Spring Street and the surrounding environs, nonetheless...drivers slowed, honked their horns, and gave the big "thumbs up".
And, quite a few members of the press turned up, genuinely interested.
If it has escaped the Governor's attention, he'd be wise to recognize this is a hot-button topic, which is not going away.
Someone shouted out, "Arnold, maybe you're a girlie man."
The crowd roared!
One cop with a bit of a stick up his butt, persisted with a little whining and pettiness from the sidelines (street traffic, curb duty, that sort-of-thing), but the crowd graciously followed his suggestions, then went on their merry way.
A small contingent of officers from the Sheriff's Department stepped out of the State Building to take a lookie-loo; but - were more curious, than concerned - and left the crowd alone.
Otherwise, the rally was peaceful and went off without a hitch.
All in all, the gathering was positive, and upbeat - an important event.
However, Schwarzenegger's failure to take a stand infers a lot.
In the final analysis, ignoring the issue has shown not only how wishy-washy he is, but underscores his tendency to flip-flop.
If you recall, in spite of the fact sufficient signatures were obtained to pave the way for "Gay Marriage" earlier this year, Schwarzenegger vetoed it on the grounds that California voters already voiced their objection in a ballot initiative.
In this instant case, California voters not only approved Bill 215 for the compassionate use of Medical Marijuana, but the Governor signed it as well.
Based on his previous statements and actions...he is morally and legally obligated to stand by the "will" of the people, now.
So, Arnold, when do you intend to honor the wishes of California voters?
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
The legendary figure cut a wide swath, sported a ubiquitous handlebar moustache, possessed mischievous twinkling eyes and had an innate flair for publicity.
Known for his dripping clocks, surreal depictions of Christ, and a myriad of eye-catching avant-garde prints which have circulated the globe in major collections - of course - the man is Salvador Dali!
The eccentric artist with the showy public persona was one of the greatest surrealist painters of our time and best known for his ability to translate "dreams" into artwork.
According to Dali, the distinctive creations were for all intents and purposes "hand painted dream photographs".
Dali was born the son of a successful notary in Figuera (Spain) and enrolled in his first drawing classes when he was ten years old.
Undoubtedly, the influence of his first art teacher – well-known Spanish impressionist painter, Ramon Pichot – impacted the early stages of his development.
Later, Dali studied art formally at the Royal Academy of Art in Madrid. When he failed to graduate for declining to take his final examinations a controversy arose.
The mercurial businessman poohed-poohed the scandal by arguing to everyone within earshot that he was more "qualified than those examining him".
When he uprooted himself and moved to Paris, he quickly fell in with noted artists Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro and immediately established himself as a principal figure in a "surrealist" group of painters headed up by Andre Breton (often referred to as the "schoolmaster" of surrealism).
Salvador Dali unveiled his first one-man show in New York in 1933.
A few years later on the heels of success, Dali elected to seek permanent residence in the United States in 1940 to avoid the war.
Spectacular exhibitions – a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York – for instance, put him on the "artistic" map.
Dali was drawn to the cultural elite like a moth to flame.
In time, Dali was such an iconic figure in art circles that celebrities like Jack Warner and Helena Rubinstein shelled out large sums for the commission of portraits.
Unknown to many, Dali was also a capable sculptor, filmmaker, and writer.
At the end of this week a much-anticipated exhibition is being unveiled at the Los Angeles County Museum of art sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
While Dali's main focus was on painting he also maintained a deep connection with film as an artistic medium.
On occasion, the visionary artist collaborated with the likes of such film greats as Luis Buñuel and Alfred Hitchcock.
In the words of the LACMA curators - "Dali: Painting & Film" - aims to illustrate the cinematic influences and elements that are present in Dalí's work as well as the contribution he made to cinema.
The dynamic exhibition brings together a variety of key pieces from Dalí's oeuvre and incorporates painting, film, photography, sculpture, and texts.
The stellar collection was organized by the Tate Modern (London) in collaboration with the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres (Spain) and the Los Angeles County Museum.
The exhibition was curated by Dawn Ades, Montse Aguer, Fèlix Fanés, Matthew Gale, and Helen Sainsbury.
LACMA Curators were Ilene Fort (American Art) and Sara Cochran (Modern Art).
The Los Angeles presentation was made possible in part by LACMA’s Wallis Annenberg Director’s Endowment Fund and was also vigorously supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
Salvador Dali quote,
"The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot."
LACMA will obviously explore Dali's work in full bloom...
Recently, I reported about the raids by FEDS on local Medical Marijuana suppliers. (Boys Town Pot Busts)
In spite of the fact California voters approved a measure to allow compassionate use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, the DEA has been cracking down on the local suppliers, alleging that their outlets are engaging in conduct which amounts to the "...illegal sale of an illicit drug which is outlawed by the Federal Government."
Although local officials (West Hollywood City Council & Los Angeles Board of Supervisors) held emergency meetings with local law enforcement to try to stave off future arrests until the conflicts in State & Federal Statutes could be resolved - bottom line - the FEDS noted their intention to pursue the matter to the full extent of the Law.
Now, Americans for Safe Access, are calling on Governor Schwarzenegger to step into the fray and resolve the issue...
According to ASA,
"Over the past several years, President Bush's Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has victimized patients and providers throughout California, undermining State Law and stooping to new levels to shut down access for sick and dying patients in California."
In view of this, Americans for Safe Access have launched a pressure campaign, with the aim of putting the spotlight on Governor Schwarzenegger, so that he will take a stand in respect to patients' rights.
According to ASA, Governor Schwarzenegger can accomplish the goal by taking constructive action now on the part of medical cannabis patients and caregivers, and give a nod to the will of the voters in California at the same time, by standing up to the Bush Administration.
In sum, ASA is urging the Governor to take a stand against Federal medical cannabis Law Enforcement efforts, and in the process, work at harmonizing Federal law with the compassionate laws of California and eleven other states that allow medical cannabis use.
ASA's new campaign consists of statewide call-in days, legislative visits from constituents and lobbyists, and sign-on letters from key public officials and organizations.
The campaign, building momentum in recent days, will be successful if concerned citizens take action now - by drafting letters voicing their concerns, sending e-mails stressing the urgency of the situation, or by appearing on the rally day in person to let their voices be heard in uproarious union!
The bold-faced effort is expected to climax at a mass mobilization effort on Thursday, October 11th, at 12:00 p.m., in front of Schwarzenegger's local office in Los Angeles:
Governor Schwarzenegger's Los Angeles District Office
300 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Additional info: Sonnet@AmericansforSafeAccess.org
Citizens unable to attend the protest are urged to call Governor Schwarzenegger's office and demand that he take a stand on behalf of California citizens with the aim of protecting their rights and putting an end to the DEA raids sanctioned against patients and providers.
The Governor may be reached in Sacramento at: 916-445-2841
In addition, an e-mail campaign designed to pressure the Governor is also underway.
Citizens are urged to send e-mails to the Governor to demand that he ask George W. Bush to recognize California Laws as they pertain to the compassionate use of marijuana, and subsequently, end the "war on patients".
*Citizens may use ASA's online action center to e-mail a form letter.
See you at the rally, Thursday, October 11th!!!
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
The John Templeton Foundation asked a handful of scholars the profound question...Does the Universe have a purpose?
Here is a sampling of the responses:
Yes. The fact we can ask such a question at all suggests an affirmative answer...
- John F. Haught, Science & Religion, Woodstock Technological Center, Georgetown University
Unlikely. While nothing in biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, or cosmology has ever provided direct evidence of purpose in nature, science can never unambiguously prove that there is no such purpose. As Carl Sagan said, in another context: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence...
-Lawrence M. Krauss, Professor of Physics & Astronomy, Case Western Reserve University
Not sure. To assert that the universe has a purpose implies the universe has intent. And intent implies a desired outcome. But who would do the desiring? And what would a desired outcome be? That carbon-based life is inevitable? Or that sentiment primates are life's neurological pinnacle? Are answers to these questions even possible without expressing a profound bias of human sentiment? Of course humans were not around to ask these questions for 99.9999% of cosmic history. So if the purpose of the universe was to create humans then the cosmos was embarrassingly inefficient about it...
-Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist, Director, New York City Hayden Planetarium
Yes. Frankly, I am psychologically incapable of believing that the universe is meangingless. I believe the universe has a purpose, and our greatest intellectual challenge as human beings is to glimpse what this purpose might be. My belief is not the result of a blinding flash of a road-to-Damascus revelation. Nor is it the imprint of a nurturing home environment.
- Owen Gingerich, Professor emeritus, Harvard University, & Astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Institute
Yes. Namely, to defeat and rise above our animal natures; to create goodness, beauty, and holiness where only physics and animal life once existed; to create what might be (if we succeed) the only tiny pinprick of goodness in the universe - which is otherwise (so far as we know) morally null and void.
-David Gelernter, Professor of Computer Science, Yale University
Indeed. The question of purpose is closely related to the question of whether something like the God of Western monotheistic religions can be known to exist by studying the order, goodness, and grandeur of the universe. Already, around 1750, David Hume pointed out that if one is looking at evidence of design, then all of the evidence must be taken into account: not only order and goodness but disorder and evil as well.
-Nancy Murphy, Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary
No. In the absence of evidence, the only reason to suppose that it does is sentimental wishful thinking and sentimental wishful thinking, which underlies all religion, is an unreliable tool for discovery of truth of any kind.
- Peter Atkins, Fellow, Professor of Chemistry, Lincoln College, Oxford
Very likely. It turns out that the observed features of the natural world appear to be fine-tuned for biological complexity. In other words, everything from the mass ratios of atomic particles, the number of space dimensions, to the cosmological parameters that rule the expansion of the universe, and the formation of galaxies are all exactly what they need to be to create stars, planets, atoms, and molecules. But where does this apparent fine-tuning come from? Is it the manifestation of a plan for the universe? An arrangement by a superior will to prepare the way for complex creatures? Is it God's signature? People of faith believe it is so. They read purpose in the universe as a painter sees beauty in a view on the ocean.
- Bruno Guiderdoni, Director, Observatory, Lyon, France.
*To read the complete excerpts: http://www.templeton.org
Just yesterday, I encountered a publicity still promoting San Francisco's Annual Folsom Street leather celebration...
I was shocked by the sight!
The fetish club used Leonardo Da Vinci's famous religious painting, "The Last Supper", as a model for its ad, with notable transformations...
In place of the disciples, the leather enthusiasts inserted images of drag queens, and individuals cavorting in outlandish sexually-inspired costumes, to celebrate their kinky cause.
What else would you call it?
In particular, items on the table featured prominently in the original masterpiece, were replaced with dildos and all manner of sex paraphanelia - of intrigue and worthy of exhaltation to their discerning membership, no doubt.
Frankly, the whole scenario was a gross error in judgment!
In recent years, because of the outbreak of HIV, the lifestyle and sexual practices of homosexual men came under scrutiny by religious figures, the media, and the American people in general.
When it was revealed that there were wild, deviant, unsafe sexual encounters rampant in the "gay" community, there was a lot of finger-pointing.
In heated arguments, all around the Nation, many argued,
"No wonder so many homosexuals are being infected with a modern-day version of the 'great plague'."
In the wake of this vicious attack - many influential celebs, politicians, and high-ranking members of the community - stood tall in support of the gay lifestyle, and for good reason.
Their vigorous efforts were pursued in a bold-faced attempt to end the discrimination, the unfair treatment of those inflicted with the killer disease, and put a screeching halt to the witch-hunts which were damning, to many.
Now, in spite of all this "past history", for some inexplicable reason, the Folsom Street Fair had the audacity, in my estimation, to craft and distribute a promotional tool that was not only an insult to Christians and decent citizens across the country, but an outright blasphemy!
One does not further the "gay cause" by deviantly trashing a symbol of the Catholic faith...
Homosexuality used to be referred to as the "love that dare not speak its name", but today, it appears to be the love that "won't shut up".
In my opinion, if you're gay, bisexual, straight - whatever - it's okay in our intelligent, sophisticated, adult-permissive society to pursue those romantic pursuits ardently, and without shame...
But in a civilized society, there are some rules that go hand-in-hand with the privilege, without saying.
All participants should act with discretion, proceed in a healthy, nurturing way, and profess their love with dignity.
The recent conduct of the Folsom Street "gang" was irresponsible, disturbing, and a slap in the face to the whole community.
I say, shame!
If there is a backlash towards the gay lifestyle in the future, I can only sadly conclude from this corner of the world that they - to paraphrase a line in the hit musical - "Chicago - "had it coming"...
Monday, October 8, 2007
Over the weekend, thousands of activists marched overseas to protest the shocking and disturbing mistreatment of Monks in recent weeks by the Military junta in power in Myanmar.
The conflicts originally began a couple of weeks ago when Monks - engaged in peaceable assembly, protesting the rise of fuel prices - were beaten and dragged off to prison to face criminal charges for allegedly causing a disturbance in the region formally known as Burma.
When I initially reported the issues, an unnamed spokesperson for the Military junta, assured the media that a higher authority had issued a command not to "arrest" or interrupt the religious leaders' peaceful marches in the streets.
Shortly after my post appeared - within twenty-four hours, in fact - information leaked out on the Internet that there was a violent confrontation in the streets, in which a handful of Monks were killed, and others were dragged off to face prison terms of up to six years.
As the news reports travelled with lightning speed around the globe, again...the junta assured concerned onlookers - world leaders, the media, the UN - that the situation was under control, a curfew had been enforced, and that there was peace in the streets.
Again, the pap amounted to lies and deception.
The next day, disturbing reports emanated from within Myanmar's borders, confirming that - with photos of protesters in hand - the guards proceeded to frantically turn houses upside-down in search of participants in the protest marches, so they could be hauled off to jail.
In my own post, I recommended that citizens of the world contact their respective leaders, or government officals, and urge immediate action.
Seeking to do "my part", I e-mailed my "post" to my own Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, in Ottawa (Canada); with additional copies to the PM in England, the Head of State in Japan, and our own President here in the U.S., George W. Bush.
Within twenty-four hours, a representative of the Prime Minister's office in Canada responded with assurances that my protest had been turned over to the Minister of Foreign Policy for review and appropriate action.
In addition, I received a heartfelt thanks from the Head of State in Japan, thanking me for my communication.
Likewise, Prime Minister Brown's office promptly responded with an e-mail.
A few days later, Gordon Brown announced to the press,
"The anger of the world has been expressed about the outrages that have taken place against the people of Burma."
And, he noted that he called for new European Union sanctions against the junta, including a ban on future investment in the country.
At this juncture, the Military agreed to meet with a UN Representative, confessing their aim to avoid unwanted sanctions.
In fact, the junta expressed a willingness to work with the UN envoy...but once again, their dishonesty was laid thread bare for the world to see.
Photos of more violence, and reports of more atrocities within Myanmar's borders, leaked out...so, in a deceitful effort to curb the negative press coverage, the Military "pulled the plug" on the Internet.
Now, there is a pot hole - a black hole, if you like - on the Internet Information Superhighway!
The world had been watching, and in view of the Internet leaks, the junta had to quash the source of their troubles.
If the power of the World Wide Web was not apparent to some, the truth now rings out loud and clear! The internet is a potent tool, an omnipresent instrument of communication, that just may be able to topple governments!
In the final analysis, at this stage of the game, demands must be made; no one on high or in any low place, can let up.
The marches at the end of this past week were intended to send the message to the junta that the "world is still watching".
"Burma is not a human rights emergency of today, last week, or last month," said Amnesty Secretary-General Irene Khan,
"It is a human rights emergency that the world has chosen to ignore to forget for the last twenty years. We will not forget this time around; we will not let the people of Burma down."
In a recent press conference, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said that the United States would introduce a resolution demanding sanctions if Myanmar did not cooperate with the the U.N. envoy recently involved in talks to mediate the issues.
He noted in particular that he was,
"...greatly disturbed to see that the regime resumed unlawful detention of citizens just hours after the U.N. envoys' departure."
While China and Russia appear to be reluctant to align themselves with the military's detractors, the U.S. plans to apply pressure in the form of new measures - such as the freezing of the U.S. assets of 14 senior officials and a U.S. travel ban that would apply to more than 200 officials and their family members.
Meanwhile, Monks toss flower petals in the river Thames, and chant,
"free Burma, free Burma"
I pray there is an accord on the horizon, and a transition to peaceful shores that is swift, problem-free, and without any further violence.
I nearly fell out of my armchair this morning when I opened up the LA TIMES and Parade Magazine popped out unexpectedly with actor, Brad Pitt, featured on its face.
Although the publicity still on the cover was OK - depicting a fashion savvy, stylish man, caught in a pensive moment - it was a second, staged shot inside the tempting pages, that jarred me!
In sum, it was a cutesy shot of Pitt - looking just past the camera lens into the distance - gripping a mug, with an odd "heads up" kind-of-expression on his face, and a golfing cap roundly perched atop his head.
The image of the hat struck a chord, and I recalled an old expression my elderly Aunt used to use,
"Looks like a pimple on a pig's ass..."
Like putty in hand, Pitt undoubtedly followed the directions of the photographer to a "T".
With fashion stylists hovering about, the scenario obviously unfolded something like this,
"Slight smile, Brad". Or,..."Raise up the cup a tad, please".
I've modelled enough over the years to fathom when a photographer's hand has dabbled in the scheme of things!
Wake up, Brad! You're being manipulated and the image ain't good.
But wait, there's the pithy article, too.
"I've always felt a persuasive sadness," reflects Pitt - with a straight face, I assume.
What kind of philosophical crap is this?
Then, he adds with a distinctive air,
"When I see someone without basic health and education, without supportive family, I feel a connection."
Curious...since he noted in the interview, "...my Dad made sure our needs were met", and asserted to the writer that his family was very loving, too.
In a nutshell, this interview was a pile of hooey, a calculated effort to spoon-feed the fans, and spin the best possible image of Pitt to an adoring public.
To me, the puff piece fell flat!
The writer heightens the absurdity of the whole fiasco by closing with this gem,
"I glimpse world weariness in (Pitt's) blue eyes, affecting and sad."
Dotson Rader (journalist?) give me a break!
Do you think no one saw through the transparent coddling of a movie icon, or likewise, failed to notice the stardust Pitt expertly tossed in your eyes?
Wonders never cease!
When I received the invite to the sneak preview for "Outsourced", I was in the dark about the project.
Without any buzz, or advance hype unduly influencing me, I settled in for the long haul as the lights went down.
In the opening scenes it is quickly established that the lead character, played by Josh Hamilton, is a manager in a "fulfillment" office which takes online orders for kitschy knickknacks manufactured in China by an American Novelty Company.
Without warning, "Todd" gets summoned into his boss's office, and is summarily hit with a bombshell.
With a curt reminder that his No. 1 employee loves spicy food, his superior informs him that the company has arranged to "outsource" the unit to India, in a bold-faced effort to save on salaries and production costs.
Todd is adamant that he won't go overseas to set up the office, but before you can say "curry", he's jetting off to meet his quota.
At the airport, he runs into all-manner of upsets.
Then, once on foreign shores, he is thrown headlong into the midst of pushy taxi-drivers jockeying for his fare, primitive modes of transportation he chides as "taxi go-cart thingies", and wild bulls blockading the busy, and the carnival-like streets of the "quaint" Indian city.
He quickly settles in, after some tutoring on foodstuffs (which hand to use for eating and "wiping") and that sort-of-thing.
Because Americans are apparently turned-off by foreign-sounding operators answering customer service in far-off countries, our clever dude proceeds to Americanize his eager crew.
A particularly hilarious scene unfolds when one employee gets up, pauses, then emotes in his best New York-ese, "You talkin' to me?"
Of course - ya got it - the dialogue was lifted from the infamous scene in the psychological thriller - "Taxi Driver" - where Robert DeNiro talks to an imaginary companion.
Another staffer tries his linguistic skills on a piece of movie dialogue.
"Of all the gin joints in the world, she had to walk into mine."
Casablanca, of course!
One pointer "Toad" - as he is erroneously referred to by natives unfamiliar with American names - is particularly useful.
Our conquering hero notes that when they inform a caller they are in "Chicago" (which they're not, of course) that it would be wise to pinch their nose to effect the right nasal sound.
"Outsourced" amusingly takes a jab at Americans and their - at times - cheesy tastes and overt sentimentality.
When the project stalls because of cultural differences, Todd takes the advice of an attractive female in the office.
After establishing a keen willingness to learn about the "Indian" way of life, an accord is struck; consequently, he meets with success in the endeavour.
Unfortunately, Mr. Hamilton lacked the screen presence to carry the film.
In fact, his minimalist approach to acting left a lot to be desired, in my estimation.
At times, he struck me as a stranded traveller in an American Express ad.
In contrast, the female lead - charismatic Ayesha Dharker - was well-cast in her role; in fact, she conveyed the right blend of - mystery, intelligence, and wit - necessary to carry off the complexity of the role with aplomb.
In cameo roles, a number of Indian actors handled their parts well - by virtue of finely-tuned comedic timing - and a precise interplay with the each other.
The underlying message resonated, was timely, and presented in a natural, palpable way.
Essentially - the "little independent" - is a tale about American values, clashing cultures, and the changing norm.
As I left the theatre, the audience bubbled over with superlatives in the foyer.
They liked it! They really liked it!
From the snatches of conversations I overheard, it was evident the filmgoers found "Outsourced" entertaining, a worthwhile see, and deserving of recommendation to friends.
No great earth-shattering entry into the film arena, nonetheless, the romantic little comedy is a charming film that touches the heart.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Last week I wrote a post in support of Governor Schwarzenegger's objective to divest pension funds with financial interests in Iran...(September 25th, 2007)
Imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail from the former bodybuilder slash actor, thanking me for my support!
In his unexpected, but welcome communication, Arnold said,
Thank you for taking the time to send me your kind words of support. I appreciate hearing from individuals who care about the future of California.
I am working hard to make state government more responsive and responsible to the people of California. My initiatives include providing the highest level of state education funding in California's history, improving California's business climate to continue our record job growth and protecting future generations with historic commitments to our infrastructure and environment.
Again, thank you for your words of encouragement. Your willingness to add your voice to the civil discourse will help me ensure a better future for our great state.
Now, if I could just wangle an autographed 8 X 10 glossy for my trophy wall!