Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Law and Order: Hamtramck

Tonio Dace, the 21 year old man responsible for the kidnapping mayhem that took place during the Metro Times Blowout in Hamtramck this past March, has been sentenced to 15 to 45 years in prison.

I would love to feel that "justice is served!" feeling, but instead I am left with a "this is as close to justice as we're gonna get, so I guess I'll take it" feeling. It's a frustration with society and the criminal justice system as a whole, not with this case specifically. To be sure, I believe that Dace should be put away for a long time. But by locking him up, he doesn't disappear. Even if we want to think he and the over 2 million other Americans behind bars are invisible and not our concern.

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said,"the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice," I think he meant a more "capital J" version of the word, not what passes for "justice" in our current judicial system. Crime brings out our most visceral emotions. It makes us feel indignant, afraid, angry and anxious. But when we use those same emotions to shape our punitive measures, we don't end up with "capital J" Justice: We end up with the highest incarceration rate in the world, deplorable conditions, the death penalty, systematic racial and economic disparity, and a recidivism rate so high we may as well put revolving doors on our jails and prisons.

The term "Department of Corrections" has lost all relevant meaning. We've privatized our prisons and slashed virtually any aspect of this quaint notion of "correcting" from our prison system. We want to see criminals "pay" for their crimes, and affording them any opportunity at rehabilitation strikes us as counterintuitive to punishment. Jobs programs? Continuing education? A library? The public response is often,"No! Let them rot." The problem of course, is they do rot. And soon they'll be out on the streets in your neighborhood again. With new skills - skills they've acquired, not through any kind of job training program, but from other more seasoned criminals. Now they're your neighbor and even more rotten than before. This doesn't even feel like "small j" justice to me. It feels like a giant sham and a dangerously broken system.

So yes, I want to experience that "justice is served" feeling. But I feel like we have a long, long way to go before that's really possible.

Update 7/2: ProPublica put together a great list of investigative reporting on U.S. prisons. Read some of this stuff.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Thoughts on Top 40's current hits and hit makers

Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" has been taking the planet by storm for a bit now, but I just heard it for the first time the other day. During a segment on NPR's "All Things Considered." Like there's a nerdier way to be introduced to the most popular song in the world, right? As much as I love music, I'm basically Amish when it comes to exposure to current Top 40 tunes. That's not to say I eschew popular music. As an OCD music fanatic, I consider listening to commercial radio a lazy and passive way to hear stuff. I am too antsy and opinionated to let somebody else call the musical shots in my life. I even hate Pandora.

But my current "Call Me Maybe" obsession got me thinking: I wonder if there are other pop gems on the Billboard Hot 100 that I'm missing out on? Through the beauty of Spotify, I found a playlist of the current crop of hot tunes and listened to them. Though I didn't find anything as great as Ms. Jepsen's song (in fact I couldn't even get through one full listen of many of the songs), I did learn a few things. Here are my observations.
  • I hope a friend or therapist has gently suggested to Gotye that, due to his erratic and overly dramatic post-break up behavior, cutting him off was, rather than a mean choice, perhaps a prudent and necessary decision on the part of whoever this song is about.
  • Train still exists?
  • Even the most upbeat contemporary country hit is, even if loosely or subliminally, musical propaganda for the Tea Party agenda.
  • Rihanna's "Birthday Cake" should simply be avoided by anybody who smokes weed. There's not much that can get a stoner off the couch and whip them into a violent frenzy, but even sober listening to her sing, "... cake, cake, cake, cake, cake, cake, cake, cake..." made me want to smash the front window of a bakery in the middle of the night.
  • I cannot hear LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" and not immediately think of North Korea. This is a prime example of why, despite our many problems, America is a truly great nation.
  • I do not have the stomach for the uber-sexified lyrics of today's popular rap songs. I couldn't get through the first 45 seconds of many of them without feeling embarrassed and turning it off.
Now excuse me as I listen to "Call Me Maybe" for the billionth time in two days... I might take a break to watch this again though:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Congratulations Michigan Republicans!

Your heroic efforts against one woman's utterance of the word vagina has brought worldwide attention to our state and all the vaginas therein! If your delicate sensibilities were shaken by the words of Rep. Lisa Brown, I can only imagine you're reeling after yesterday. You had to endure hearing a giant crowd chant the word "cunt" and then listen to that uppity loudmouth Eve Ensler yell about "uninvited penises up our anuses and vaginas"on your precious Capitol steps!* Zoinks! Keep it up you guys, you're really doing an awesome job!

* Oh, and those aren't your precious Capitol steps. They're ours.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Get your Extra Value Meal out of my uterus

How about the Michigan House of Representatives, hmm? They're really using their time wisely getting this state of ours back on track. Unfortunately that track is one that leads not to a progressive future, but right back to the good old days where Roe v Wade was but an unthinkable Blade Runner-like dystopian nightmare, women actually clutched their pearls and good girls kept their legs closed until God told them it was time to make a baby. And they're doing it under the guise of "protecting women's health" with what's being called a "super bill" of anti-abortion legislation. Presumably it gets that name by wearing a little cape as it destroys women's lives. Fantastic.

Because politics is confusing, a lot of folks don't take action when their elected officials do egregious things. Even fairly politically astute people don't know who to contact. But at this point, if you're feeling a little bit pissed about the fact that Michigan's elected officials are more worried about your vagina than your having a job, you might wanna give somebody a call. The next step on this bill's journey will be to the Michigan Senate. According to this article, that probably won't happen until September. So clearly the House's sense of "urgency" to ram these "important laws protecting women" through was totally legit. The good news is that gives you plenty of time to type your address in to this handy website, find out who your Senator is, and call 'em up or even go visit them. Tell them you think House Bill 5711 is bullshit. While you're at it, go ahead and throw a couple of dollars to Planned Parenthood. We need them right now.

I can't help but notice that the same people who freak out about "the nanny state" whenever anybody suggests that perhaps eating six pounds of fast food and a gallon of soda for every meal might be making America the land of the fat and the diabetic an unhealthy choice are the same people who want to prevent gays from getting married and take control of my reproductive choices. It astounds me that these people don't see the contradiction here. If you're for "less government," please stop trying to eat your Biggie fries out of my uterus. In return I'll do my best to not look disgusted every time you break into a full-on sweat walking up the one flight of stairs to your apartment while carrying a White Castle Crave Case. Sounds fair to me.

Monday, June 11, 2012

"It's queer how gradually I've become invisible..."

Start my Monday morning off with a new song and video by the Pet Shop Boys? Sounds pretty perfect! I've basically loved the Pet Shop Boys since I was a little girl and the videos for "West End Girls" and "Opportunities" were in heavy rotation on MTV. I still get excited about new Pet Shop Boys material and can't wait to hear the new record this fall.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Local News investigates SG ban compliance in Wayne County

With a Wayne County ban on Spice Girls (or "SG") and all related products in place, it appears shops in the county are complying with the ban. 

The group isn’t illegal yet, but it’s widely known that young people are playing the “Spice,” and some are having violent reactions to it, are becoming addicted to listening to it and there are reports of overdose deaths from it.

At a BP gas station in Livonia at 6 Mile and Middlebelt, the shopkeepers there apparently trying to keep up with the demand for SG, built a glass “one stop SG shopping center” and placed it right by the register. 

The glass case contained dozens of CDs, VHS tapes of unauthorized video biographies, previously viewed DVDs of the movie Spice World, dolls, and even personal compact disc players emblazoned with the SG logo. The case contained everything anyone would need to purchase SG and consume it immediately. 

Though the regular Spice blend is most popular, stores are also carrying specialty strains called "Sporty," "Scary," "Posh" and "Ginger." Law enforcement warns that, while the specialty strains are all dangerous, the four blends are most potent when used together.

On Wednesday, the products had been removed from that case. BP has ordered it’s operators to stop selling K2. We asked the clerk if it was BP or the Wayne County ban that got them to remove their SG merchandise. “Both,” The clerk said. He did not want to give his name.

“Good. I’m glad. They shouldn’t sell it. I don't care if Meat Loaf was in that movie. It doesn't make it right.” Roddie Smith said. The Livonia mother of three says she’s spent the last week warning her kids to stay away from the band and their music. 

Dearborn gas station owner Hassan Jawad tells Local 4, he’s hearing that most shops are complying with the ban. “I would never sell it, they shouldn’t either. Over 20 years later and we're finally seeing a crack down. About time.” Jawad said.

It's like Mapquest. But for gay people.

For people who like gay theatre (as if there's any other kind, right?!) you're in for a real treat this month: The Ringwald Theatre in Ferndale is proud to announce the 3rd installment of its wildly popular Gay Play Series. The "GPS," as it is called by gay thespians with a penchant for acronyms and a hearty internal compass, features a One Act Festival showcasing 11 new, one act LGBT plays. These 11 plays were picked from upwards of 175 submissions, and one of them was co-written by me and the amazingly talented, (probably) magical Cara Trautman. It's called "Mate Trade" and is the first play I've ever written or co-written. I am very proud of us.

I'm super excited to see how our play turns out. You see, at this point, it is out of our hands. After the plays are selected, they're given to different directors who then cast and produce them. So when you see our play for the first time, Cara and I will be seeing it for the first time too! I'll just know what the words are going to be. Fun, yes? It will be! 

Along with the one act fest, there's a slew of other cool events in the series including Motor City Miscast Cabaret, Vince Kelly recreating Judy Garland’s Carnegie Hall Concert, and a performance of Shakespeare's most famous work Making PornCheck here to make reservations (recommended) and to see the whole schedule. Go as often as you can, but for sure make it out on one of the following days:
  • Saturday, June 16 at 8pm
  • Friday, June 22 at 8pm 
  • Sunday June 24 at 3pm 
Why? Because "Mate Trade" will be performed on those days. You have three chances! Also, audience members get to vote for their favorite script. The winning script will receive an additional performance at the closing ceremonies on Monday, June 25 at 8PM and will subsequently receive a full production at The Ringwald Theatre! I am so excited to be a part of this and to see the other 10 plays and also to be the winner so vote for us for the sake of all things gay and theatrical.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

“None. I don’t want any of those pieces of shit CDs.”

I just finished reading Mish Way's awesome Noisey piece "Why I Hate CDs and How They've Made Me Mental" and highly recommend it. I am quite fond of anecdotal evidence that CDs are stupid and the worst. Of course, I didn't alway hold this opinion. The wall of carefully alphabetized CDs at my house makes this glaringly obvious. But at this point in time, if I like an artist enough that I want to give them money, I want the record. If your band doesn't have a vinyl version of the recording, I'll settle for a download and a shirt or tampon case or some other such exciting merch option. But there are only two ways I'll spend money on a CD today: if I come across a fun/rare disc in the bargain bin of a record store, or I find a Paula Abdul CD (preferably Spellbound) at a garage sale which I will purchase for the sole purpose of someday leaving it under the windshield wiper of a poorly parked car with a note that says, "I'm sorry it has to end this way, but I can't live with myself anymore. I know you'll never leave your family for me. At least we'll always have 'Rush Rush.' Think of me."

It even bothers me when  I see strangers buying CDs. I went to see Langhorne Slim with my girlfriend on Memorial Day and watched a young lesbo walk up to the merch table and hand over money for his new CD. It literally took everything I had not to smack it out of her hand while yelling, "Nooooo! What are you doing?!" Because not only was there a (beautiful white!) vinyl version for sale as well, but it came with the CD in it. But it's not my job to teach the young lesbians of the world how to live their lives - otherwise we'd see a lot less awful hats and faux hawks. 

Also, as an added bonus, Way's article led me to her band White Lung. Their new album Sorry is pretty effing rad. Listen to it. And then go buy it. On limited color vinyl (duh).

Monday, June 4, 2012

"Guys like me girl, we never learn..."

Sadly, I have already RSVP'd for a party on this date at which both "moderate entertainment" and a "cat fashion show" have been promised, so it's hard to say if I'll make it out to the Berkley Front this Saturday. Tough choices! But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't go. Destroy This Place and Hospital Garden are releasing a split 7" so you'll not only see a good show, you'll leave with a little record. Like a door prize. What fun! 

I'm particularly excited about this new record, because one of the Destroy This Place songs, "We Never Learn," is actually a John Nelson & the New Girlfriends song. And that's my band! But since John wrote the song and is in both bands, I guess he's totally the boss and can do whatever the hell he wants no matter how furious it makes me. Ha. That's a joke - no fury. It will always be our song first, Ryan Allen!

Blog Archive