File this one under "Are You For Real?"
Readers, forewarned, this is the kind of shit that makes GG lose his mild-mannered-mind . . . . .
OneNewsNow reports that Home Depot is making America's kids gay. To quote the news agency -- I use the term 'news' lightly--Home Depot is "introducing children to the homosexual lifestyle." Read the news story.
In brief: Home Depot, my new favorite hardware empire, donated to the Nashville Gay Pride celebration and sponsored a special booth there where kids could do crafts. I can only assume that these were wholesome American crafts, like making a potholder on a loom, not making a studded leather harness out of felt.
Home Depot: "Building a 'Le-Gay-Cy' for Children." For real? Building a gay? Is it in a kit? DIY from random parts? What aisle at Home Depot?
Okay, you effing crazy conservative Christians, I ask you, What is it that you want? What will it take to feed your beast? You want us to be straight, we play in a hardware store booth. What more can we do?
SG, schlep my city guy ass out to the suburbs this evening, find me a Home Depot, and wait for me while I buy, I don't know what, a light bulb or something.
Check out these print ads (click to enlarge) from camera manufacturer Omax. They might not make sense until you see the set of three, all selling wide-angle lenses.
Ha. Ha. I get it. We (straight guys) aren't really interested in photographing landscapes, animals, or skylines. We just want to capture topless sunbathers, cleavage, and booty shots without anyone noticing us. I'm glad we connected on this, Omax, and since you've labeled me as a stalkerish pervert, I'm eager to purchase your products.
Sarcasm off. Look, I know that sex sells, and that a certain amount of objectification is the price we pay to make that system work. I've never been in a bebe store (or even know how to pronounce it... bee-bee or bay-bay?) but I am brand-loyal to them because they regularly update the bus stop shelter I pass every day. What will it be today, bebe? Classy, sassy, or skanky?
But am I wrong in thinking that Omax crosses a line here? That objectification is one thing when bebe, the model, and I are all in on the deal. But it's another thing to promote stealing secret shots of unknowing subjects -- no matter how hot they are, right?
So, I think I'll take my business elsewhere, Omax.
Nikon, Olympus, what new products do you have to offer? And how will you communicate their benefits?
Oh, jeez. Readers, why must camera companies advertise through visual puns which probably go to far? More is better... Auto focus... Get it? Ugh.
It's been a busy week in swimsuit news. I can't say that I follow swimsuit news, but it was hard to avoid it this week.
FINA, the international governing body for swimming, voted to ban the high-tech body suits we saw so much of at the Beijing Olympics. I listened to the story on NPR on Saturday morning while I was sipping coffee and trying to come to life. Imagine me, in my still-dreamy state, awaiting a story about competitive swimmers who wear too much. Heaven. Listen to the NPR story or read the transcript.
Turns out that FINA sets maximum coverage for swimsuits. Yes, maximum. Just in case you want to know, FINA's new swimsuit standard for men is: "The swimsuit shall not extend above the navel or below the knees." SG, I am sure there also are standards for women's suits, but I didn't read that far.
BTW, FINA needs to extend its reach beyond the competitive arena and zoom over to my neighborhood pool. Read the rules. Suits at the navel, guys. Not under the armpits, Pop Pop, or hanging off your hip bones, Dude.
Back to the news.
FINA also put out some regulations about approved fabrics. And not a moment too early. Yesterday I learned that this magic, uber-high-tech swimsuit material has been tearing, causing wardrobe malfunctions. The swimsuit tears are "becoming increasingly common as swimmers sought the tightest-fitting suits possible for the greatest performance-enhancement," swim pub Reach for the Wall reports.
Oh, the inhumanity! On Sunday, U.S. Swimmer Ricky Berens, competing in the 4x100 meters freestyle relay at the World Championships in Rome, experienced a backside blowout.
Here's more from Reach for the Wall about the suit malfunction, but indulge me as I refer to my favorite paragraphs.
"As Ricky Berens, scheduled to swim third for the U.S. morning swim squad, bent over on the pool deck for a drink of water moments before the race, his suit -- a Jaked01--split significantly in the back, exposing his rear end.
"There was no time to change the suit, so U.S. anchor leg Cullen Jones urged Berens to forget the gaping hole and swim."
Not even Gay Guy would try to pull off that kind of reporting.
Berens has been a good sport about it: "I felt I was putting on a pretty good show," he said. Nice to see a guy who doesn't take himself too seriously. Not so much for swimmer Flavia Zoccari, who couldn't go with the flow, and withdrew from a race in tears when her suit tore in a similar fashion in competition in June.
Just how tight are those suits? I know I am just being an adolescent boy with my giggles over the candy spilling out of the Speedos.
The most fun all the coverage on the coverage, if you will, has been seeing the range of detail in the photos of Berens' bare back end, from the modest to the marvelous--as in the photo above.
Spied this article on gay living in the New York Times last week.
The article portrays a gay life that I don't have any familiarity with . . and probably don't want any familiarity with. Do straights think this is how gays live, at least urban, professional gay couples without kids. For me, the guys in the article might as well live on another planet.
First of all, this couple -- who've now broken-up, which is the nut of the article--are only in their early 30s and must have well over $1 million in mortgages on their two places. My friends (gay and straight) and I live more modest lifestyles still: We are still safely under the six-figure salary mark, are saving to buy, or live in condos or starter houses. My coupled friends can afford bigger and better space, but we all live in a normal zone. Those of us who own our places appreciate the tax deduction, but also spend a certain amount of time listening to and waiting for appliances to die. In my condo, it's a photo finish to see which memorial service comes first -- the dishwasher or washer/dryer. My one friend with a grand townhouse and beach house has a now-ex partner who has an unnaturally good head for real estate. The now-ex partner got the house, my friend found freedom in a condo.
In other words, the men in the NYT article just live a different life and breath different air than I do. Part of me is jealous of the New York apartment and country house straight out of the movies. Part of me knows that money doesn't buy happiness, thank you Mom, as the article points out.
Two things to note in the article:
1) Blogging about their lives contributed to their break-up. The one blogged about didn't want such a public existence.
2) The article is a bird's eye view of a party they gave. They were to have a commitment ceremony and had invited friends from afar and made deposits that couldn't be returned. Although they broke up three months before the event, they went ahead with it.
One half of the now-dissolved partnership brought a date to the commitment ceremony turned final lake house hurrah.
Mom was also right that money doesn't buy class, good manners, or sensitivity either.
In a recent post, I snarked on a YouTube wedding proposal (staged!) where the music and choreography sucked any authenticity out of the moment.
Maybe you've already seen the new bridal party video above. It's been out less than a week and has amassed 5 million hits and climbing (plus a visit to the Today Show). Oh, how I wanted to snark on this couple, too. Let me count the possible ways. But I just can't do it. They got me.
Here's a few comments from those not feelin' the love:
This must have been the first song they grinded to after too many jello-shots down at the sports bar. So gross. All that wobbly pale flesh. What a memory to cherish. Excuse me while I pry my eyes out with a spoon.
It's ostensibly about celebrating a couple's love and future together, but it seems to now serve as the one sad last-gasp opportunity for ANY attention. Dorky fun has its place but this is painful and embarrassing. Very, VERY Midwest and I DON'T mean that in a good way... pasty, chubby, farmstock in ill-fitting clothes doing the whiteman overbite cos it's 'funny' is just distasteful in this context. Bleurrgh.
And a few one-word reviews: Gay!
But most folks are on the other side of the fence...
a very genuine feeling expression of sincere joy that doesn't matter if it looks a bit cheesy at times.
This reminded me not just of the joy in my life, but of the opportunity I have to surround myself with love and the power of being confident, out there, and silly. There is a delicious freedom here. Men unafraid to dance in public, a perfect handstand, a crowd that loves you. I'm going to hold less in and move towards love.
What a fantastic way to begin your life together! You made me laugh and smile and I even found myself with few tears of absolute joy for you - ha, complete strangers!
My wife and I have been married for 36 years and if we got married tomorrow I would do it just like this! What an incredibly meaningful display of love and humor -- two of the most important ingredients for a lasting marriage.
And there's this from Sarah Kaufman at the Washington Post (where they've been running some surprisingly astute coverage/commentary on web trends).
More important, this ceremony went deeper than behaviors. It elicited all the right feelings, in the way that good dancing transfers energy and emotion to its audience. In the way they moved -- and were able to corral their friends and family into the act -- the couple told us a lot about themselves, and about their bond....This didn't look like a reluctant groom being dragged to the altar, nor a micromanaging bridezilla who had locked down every detail. They were open to music and movement and untucked shirts and sweat, and they gave to their guests what had to be the best party favor of all. An actual party.
Readers, Gay Guy (arts lover) knows not to invite me to anything that can be labeled as "interpretive dance." More than simply not liking it, it makes me angry. I'm sure those with a better-educated eye for dance can see otherwise. But my criteria is simple: entertain me, don't indulge yourselves. So how does this joyful mess of a bridal procession get through my filter and leave me so happy and hopeful? I can't really answer except to say that somehow they got right what so many people get wrong. And if you try to copy them, you'll get it wrong, too.
Hell yeah, it's gay. But in the first definition, cheerful, no worries, kind of way... and who doesn't need more of that?
Got back a few days ago from the family odyssey with my parents. Two days down, two days there, two days back. On the whole, a nice time, but I happy to have back my bed and my space.
We got back to the city in time for the three of us to make the baseball game. The park has something called the fourth (maybe fifth) inning flex. There's a big announcement instructing the crowed to flex their stuff, and the cameras pan around the stadium. Lots of kids flexing pipe cleaner sized arms.
The camera panned on a really hot guy with amazing arms. He didn't even have to flex; he just casually laughed about being on camera and leaned back in his seat with his ever-more-amazing arms behind his head.
"Wow," said Gay Guy. "He's really got the goods."
"Yes, he does," agreed Gay Guy's mom.
They've had roommates who were of different races, different cultures and different religions, and have gotten along fine. Bob would prefer a straight roommate. ...
The university (a Jesuit school) has no policy for gay/straight roommates, other than that they don't permit discrimination.
In doing an informal poll of my older children and their friends, I discovered that all but one had a gay roommate and didn't stay roommates for long. Is it discrimination when a straight man doesn't want to room with a gay man?
Here's Amy's take. She's right. But why these folks continue to write to nationally syndicated columnists instead of coming straight to us is a mystery. We'll take a shot at it, anyway.
STRAIGHT GUY RESPONDS: Why isn't there any method to screen out roommates who are obviously momma's boys like "Bob"? My freshman roommate was both gay and mom-dependent, and the latter was by far the bigger issue. We survived, and were mostly cordial and polite throughout.
It was a rough year for many reasons, and I've never been an advocate for the stranger-as-forced-roommate scenario. Just cut those dorms into more, smaller, single rooms and everyone will be fine. Sure, a few loner-antisocial-phobics will shut themselves in, but that's a small price to pay for greater harmony all around. Out of the 20 roommate pairings on my freshman hall, only 2 really clicked, and one of those pairs knew each other from their hometown. That's not great odds.
Still, if you're stuck in the system, deal with it. And, no, you can't segregate the dorms by orientation. Give me a break.
Lady, if you want your son to meet nice girls, there is no better social lubricant than a gay friend. As I've mentioned, they often have advanced their social skills far beyond the capabilities of the average dude of 18 years. Or, you can trust the fraternity system to teach your son how to deal with respectable young women and hope for the best. Those aren't the only options, of course. But please read Wolfe's "I Am Charlotte Simmons" as a primer.
Hey, no guarantees, though. Anyone, gay or straight, can be a friend... or a jerk... or have a mom who is a control freak. Let's limit our phone calls to the administration from now on, but keep the care packages coming.
GAY GUY RESPONDS: Oh, a gay guy's work is never done.
Mom, I hear how proud you are that you've allowed your kids to have such great exposure to the world. Before you pick up your diversity trophy at the next PTA meeting, try reflecting on what you've learned, or not learned, about diversity. On a practical level and for the sake of expediency on the upcoming rooming issue, let's cram having a gay roommate into the "different cultures" pigeon hole Bob's already flourished in, and just assume the kids will get along fine.
Bob, I hope you are cringing and hiding your face in public. Strap on some nuts and keep your mom out of your business. What's the problem with a gay roommate? Oh, that's right, he's going to stare at your junk and hit on you, right? Can't you straight guys come up with something more original than every gay guy in a tight space is going to jump your junk? Bob, right now, this is your problem and yours alone. Keep mom and student affairs out of it.
Just for fun, here's my freshman roommate story. I was assigned to room with a nice-enough, straight, popular, soccer/basketball playing BMOC guy. We were friendly, but not really friends. I wasn't sexually experienced enough then to understand that he was chipping away at acquiring some same-sex sexual experience, and, in tiny cautious ways, he was hitting on me all year. I was so innocent. Should I have realized that asking me to help him work on his abs by holding his thighs around my waist while he did sit ups was sketchy at best? About two weeks before the end of our first year, he did more than hint about what he was looking for. Not one of the more memorable sexual experiences of my youth, nor did we decide to room together second year. No huge loss. Amusingly, given the lack of action my first year of college, BMOC soccer boy was likely to have been the "gayer" of us.
Good Lord, what have I done? I'm gayer than Perez Hilton (39%)!
I realized that when GG and I started this project, there might be a little "gay by association" nonsense to deal with, but that was the whole point. We hoped that other folks could see that there's no need to self-segregate, or fear gay cooties (or straight cooties, for that matter).
Of course our subject matter might sway the results a bit. But completely? Now I might have to rethink my tweets. Can someone feed me about 500 straight-sounding 140-character essays? Some of the "found words" causing my present ranking: cola, sugar, fries, and wow. Sorry, not seeing the connection. Fries are gay? Wow. Oops! Would tweeting about Mr. Pibb and Tater Tots raise my score?
Perez ranks higher with the found words: Madonna and bitch. I even scored lower than Hugh Jackman who tweets about opera and South Beach. See what I mean? Hey Stockholm Pride, stop stereotyping me just because I'm friends with Gay Guy.
And I don't even like cola. I like lemonade. Wait, does that help my score?
Readers, if you tweet, run your feed and let us know how you do.
Kids and games of war are nothing new. I played with toy guns all the time to no ill effect. So, I'm not against soldier, cowboy, or cops 'n' robbers games. I think the stereotype that boys gravitate to violent games and aggressive role playing proves true from some deeply rooted evolutionary need. Kids start honing ancient survival skills at a very young age. But, for us, it was mostly a fun, innocent, and fairly naive way to pass the time. (When we were shot dead, we had to count to thirty until we could pop up and fight again.)
But what's with the fatigued, I've-seen-too-much, PTSD looks on these Matchbox kids faces?
Reread Calvin and Hobbes to appreciate the joy a young boy feels in games which emphasize power and destruction. That's the point of war games and superhero fantasies, that weak and powerless kids can envision themselves as strong and powerful. It's fine. Healthy, well-adjusted kids can separate fantasy and reality, whether it's comic books, Three Stooges reruns, or violent video games.
So, what's bringing these boys down? They should be having the time of their lives. What's Matchbox trying to say? Trying to sell?
Does the next campaign take them upriver to the Heart of Darkness?
Rolling back home. Now that I have good Internet access again, here's a quick post to tell you a surprise I learned.
My parents are Republicans.
It's less surprising than learning, say, that they are water skiers or getting a divorce, but still jaw dropping.
Mom and I were having a coffee and waiting for my dad for breakfast at the lodge in the state park where the reunion was being held. I told her that when I am in restaurants, airport lounges, etc., I look around at other people and play a silent game called "which ones are Democrats and which ones are Republicans." I said to her, "I think we've got lots of 'Rs' in here."
To which she answered: "You have two at this table."
Turns out my parents are registered as Republicans. The only words that I could get out were that I hoped they voted their conscience and not their party when they got into the voting booth.
My parents are pretty middle of the road, in all things, but certainly in politics. They don't talk about politics much at all. Well, they don't talk about their beliefs, obviously, since I didn't get their party affiliation. I would have said they were conservative Democrats; now I guess the one bright spot is that I'd call them liberal Republicans.
Gotta run. More later on the final leg home.
Road Trip with Parents: Day Two.
Day Two is not as serene as day one. Not that anything bad has happened, it's just that there are some worn nerves. Mine. Maybe everyone's.
I'm just realizing what a mumbler my father has become. Was he always one? He's a soft speaker to boot. My mother is something of a soft-speaking mumbler, too, but not nearly as bad as dad. Add that my father's hearing is fading. So, mom's in the back seat of the car, dad's driving, the air conditioning blowing, and so they have to keep asking each other to repeat themselves. "What? What? What did you say?" I'm the interpreter.
When I can understand them, I've found that my parents now read aloud road signs and whatever they see out the window. As in, "Applebees. Olive Garden. Arbee's. 35 miles an hour. Coin operated laundry." Just one long string of nouns looking for a verb and a purpose.
Our gay/straight moment of the day: My dad asked if Mark Sanford is still governor of South Carolina, or if he had stepped down after his very public admission of having an affair -- some of it on the state's dime. I went on a petite tirade about Sanford's hypocrisy: He opposes marriage equality for gays and lesbians because we'd bring down the straight marriage property values. Sanctity of marriage must be protected, etc. I put out there that I think no one could bring down the institution of marriage any faster than the adulterous Mark Sanford himself. Governor "Marriage Should be Between One Man and One Woman . . . With a Few Other Women Sandwiched in Between."
It's always the finger-pointers. I just love when the finger-pointing, conservative, Republican prick who opposes gay marriage on moral grounds gets caught in his own moral trap. As a gay man, Sanford et. al would say that my morals are questionable but I can show the governor how a zipper works. I'm so pissed that the death of the King of Pop pushed Sanford off the front page.
My parents maintained silence.
Now that I think of it, Mark Sanford should blame gay marriage for corroding the moral bedrock of his marriage. Blame gay marriage for everything, like in this old but still wonderful video, It's All Because (The Gay are Getting Married)."
Be patient with my blogging. I'm in a state park on the side of a mountain and internet is spotty at best.
Badass details here.
"He raised his chainsaw and met the lion head-on as it pounced."
Just for contrast, my excitement for the day: Reese's Pieces are now in the vending machine near my office. I don't even really feel fully alive right now.
Hope you are well.
Readers: Gay Guy is on a multi-day road trip with his parents. Will it be nifty, neutral, or nightmare? Anything is possible.
Old news, but long story short: crazy Canadian (and obviously very lonely) guy decides to upgrade a marginally
Upside: He gets a little action every time he puts on his socks.
Downside: Dude is a complete idiot. Oh yeah, and his body profoundly rejects the implant only a few weeks later. Read the gross details here.
PS: If you've got an interest in a fail blog where mistakes are permanent, more madness (some NSFW) at ugliesttattoos.com
"Kids, teens, pets, husbands... Ever wonder how you can keep your house clean?"
Children, animals, and straight guys. Run for the hills! This carpet's done for.
Sorry about the quality of the embedded video (lucky to find it all), but I saw this Stanley Steemer commercial recently and had to share. It's another example of using straight guys ("husbands") as a safe stereotype for advertisers. Who's bringing your home values down with those stained floors and carpets? Yeah. It's us and our crazy milkshake nonsense, and that's just for starters. Deal with it. But please call in the professionals while we're away, because someone's got to expunge all this dad-related filth, and it ain't gonna be us.
I guess they know their demographics on this, and frustrated moms and wives are probably their number one customers. I won't argue with that. But don't carpets sometimes just get dirty over time? Does there have to be a villain in this scenario?
How bad is it for straight guys? Well, Stanley often runs these short spots back to back... check out the company we share:
So, ladies, take your pick. Would you rather share carpets with your husband, or Skoots, the dog with tapeworms? Either way, you are doomed.
Gay Guy, you're in the clear. Please feel free to enjoy your shiraz and gazpacho anywhere you like.
Oh well. Milkshake time! Who's with me? Skoots?
Remember Harry and Pepper, that nice gay couple in San Francisco I told you about? Sure, it looked like it was "just a phase" for a while, but they've been together for ages. They even raised a kid together. They looked so happy, right?
You will not believe it: They broke up. And, worse: Harry was led off by a female, a dame, a broad... a bird.
Don't take my word for it: Read all about the tragic breakup of Harry and Pepper.
It's that fast piece of feathery baggage, Linda, the one who threw herself at old man Fig, when his missus was barely cold. Skank. Soon as Fig's dead, she's on to Harry. Gold digging, black widow bi-atch that Linda is.
I don't like to gossip, but Linda, Harry, and Pepper got into such a row that the authorities had to be called.
I am brokenhearted. Poor Pepper. I was thinking about having him over for a cold beer and the Miami Social premiere. A little Bravo makes everything go down easier.
While we're all getting run over by the Brüno hype machine, another GG/SG themed movie is sneaking into limited release this weekend. "Humpday" tells the story of two thirty-something college buddies who reunite and get caught on the wrong side of a drunken challenge: to star in a gay porn film, with each other.
Here's a synopsis from the movie's promo site:
Late into the night at a wild party, the two [Ben and Andrew] find themselves locked in a mutual dare: to enter an amateur porn contest together. But what kind of boundary-breaking, envelope pushing porn can two straight dudes make? After the booze and "big talk" run out, only one idea remains — they will have sex together...on camera. It's not gay; it's beyond gay. It's not porn; it's art. But how exactly will it work? And more importantly, who will tell Ben's wife?
Scott Tobias of the Onion raves:
The ideal way to experience Humpday is with little to no knowledge about where it’s heading—and if you have that kind of faith, please go now — because it sounds so outrageous on its face. ... Shelton and her cast have an awfully steep challenge in making the “straight porn” idea plausible, but in scene after scene, Humpday carefully raises the stakes until it hits a finale loaded with humor, tenderness, and delicious ambiguity.
Kurt Loder of MTV rants:
If two straight guys decide to have sex together for an "art project," does that make them gay? Brave? Or just arty in a new and pathetically pretentious way? ... So, will they get it on — will they do it? We eventually find out, but the concluding scene is hardly revelatory — it powers down into awkward badinage and then just pretty much stops.
I find this unsettling for two reasons... One, Kurt Loder is still working!? For MTV? He was already the aged authority of pop-culture news back in the 80s. Calm, cool and collected throughout whatever Madonna madness came his way. And two, I had to look up "badinage" to confirm that it meant what I thought (only half right on that one - it means witty banter). MTV reviews are apparently over my head. For shame. But cut me some slack, standard issue straight guys are notoriously bad at badinage, right?
I'm not down on "Humpday," the trailer looks good. But I'm pretty convinced that a middle-aged, guys-gone-wild indie dramedy won't be the sleeper hit of the summer. It won't be "My Big Fat Experimental But Ironic Gay Porno!" Sleeper hits have to pass the grandma-test, and I don't think this will even enter Nana's Midwestern realm of awareness.
Gay Guy is on a mini-vacation to wine-country (oh, how I miss his badinage), so let me know, readers.
(A) Dude has massive cajones
(B) Dude has a massive secret
(C) She's in on it, the whole thing is fake
Whatever it is, it's worked as viral marketing (we're here to help, corporate America!)
This video will hit a million views on YouTube soon. Reaction is wildly mixed, from joyful tears to all-caps rage that anyone got suckered by this, and, oh yeah, not a few "he's so gay" comments. At any rate, requests for special proposals at Disneyland are way up, and don't come cheap.
Links: Reuters, OC Weekly, YouTube
What do you think, GG? Readers?
As America quickly divides into opposing camps on Michael Jackson's legacy, gifted saint vs. freaky perv, I'm still hoping for quality commentary on the complexity of the man from people who can honestly admit that he was probably both. And if he was both, then to sadly acknowledge that so much of his potential was wasted by his narcissistic antics and and self-destructive addictions.
He never gave himself the chance to evolve from pop sensation to something deeper, like the Beatles and Sinatra did. That path was open to him (though following it can take it's toll, too, a la Brian Wilson and Elvis Presley).
What would these memorials have been like if Michael's legacy was untainted by self-generated scandal, if his philanthropy had not been greatly diminished by the financial indulgences that left him half a billion in debt? It's hard to imagine anything grander than the funeral he got. But would it have been so hard for anyone speaking at the memorial to at least acknowledge that Jackson obviously struggled profoundly with his own identity, or that he was brought down by addiction? That wouldn't have been disrespectful in the least, and might have helped as a message to the kids he seemed to care so much about.
Al Sharpton's comment to Jackson's own children: "There wasn't nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what he had to deal with." Great line (got the biggest applause of the day), and fair enough as therapy for grieving kids, but not what I would call intellectually honest. Michael Jackson was unique. Many of his struggles and conflicts were of his own making. He WAS strange, complex, and confusing. Let's not quickly parse his legacy to make it easier to digest for either the lovers or the haters.
Here's one take on a topic that most are avoiding, Jackson's confusing sexuality. I have no idea whether he was gay or straight. He's probably beyond classification in the LGTBQ scale (though heavy on the trans-something, right?). Whether HE was confused or not, he's still a mystery to us.
Irene Monroe, from HuffPost:
Just as Michael was black, he was also queer, because he did not conform to our society's heterosexist norms. And as the man in the mirror faded from black to white, so too did his staged gender performance, from cute straight boy lead singer of the Jackson 5 to an effeminate male solo artist donning outfits in sequins.
And as the consummate drag performer he was not only a singer and dancer, Jackson was also a shape-shifter.
Jackson's transitioned himself first into looking like Diana Ross and then later into looking like his baby sister Janet and then later he transitioned himself into something, well, as inhumanly ghastly as he became more ghostly looking.
Jackson's gender blending was as transgressive, tabooed, and subversive as his skin bleaching.
He wore many masks until the masks became him....
When Jackson tied the knot first with Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis's daughter, in 1994 following the first child molestation charges in 1993, everyone knew that Jackson was in damage control mode. And in his second marriage, rumored to be not consummated, in 1997 to Debbie Rowe, who is the mother of two of Jackson's three children, you get to see how compulsory heterosexuality exacted a toll on his life.
For my part, I would have been fine with a gay Michael Jackson. I would have preferred it to the contortions he went through to prove otherwise. I bet he would have been healthier in all parts of his life.
Maybe my hopes for a thoughtful discussion were too high for the first two weeks of media frenzy since his death. I guess I'm waiting for the 800-page biography from someone who has access to those who really knew him but doesn't have an predetermined agenda. That's a tall order, I know. But I'll wait.
For understanding and deconstructing an American pop icon, I can recommend P. Guralnick’s two-volume biography: Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley (1994) and Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley (1999). They only took about 20 years. Let's get him to work on MJ right away.
UPDATE 7/9: Nelson Montana, also a blogger at HuffPost, chimes in on this theme:
He wasn't an amazing child prodigy who ran his course and moved on. He grew as an artist and went on to have a career that overshadowed anyone else in the industry. ... He had talent beyond mere mortal proportion. And he died mysteriously at a young age. So stop trying to make it out like the coverage is overkill...
Now to anyone who extols the magnificence of Michael Jackson and feels compelled to defend him, you too have to accept certain realities. Michael Jackson was crazy. No, not eccentric -- crazy. In a way that was fearful. It couldn't have been any clearer. And he was stupid. Yes, let's get real. The guy was dumb as dirt. Why is that so hard to accept? Because it's "mean" to say so? If you want to find meanness, you're looking in the wrong place. The biggest culprits were those closest to Michael. ...
As a New Yorker, I can't understand that with so many friends and family, (many of whom were so very tearful at the funeral) no one ever approached Michael to do what any self respecting New Yorker would do. Just say; "Hey Mike, stop being such an asshole." And keep saying it until it sinks in.
I just read today that Mrs. Slocombe . . . err, I mean, Mollie Sugden, the British actress famous for playing Mrs. Slocombe on the long-running and perpetually repeated BBC series "Are You Being Served" died on July 1. She was 86.
Read her obit in the Telegraph.
Sugden's rich and very British acting career lasted through the relatively new series "Little Britain," in which she was the highlight of a long-running joke. (Rather like the never-seen Maris on Frasier.)
Mrs. Slocombe was the fierce manager of the Ladies Separates and Underwear department of Grace Bros. department store on "Are You Being Served." Her store counterpoint in menswear was the over-the-top camp Mr. Humphries, played with deadly seriousness by John Inman. In every episode, Mrs. Slocombe unwittingly engaged in double-entendre-laced, but clueless, gay humor with Mr. Humphries. The barbs are completely politically incorrect and would be protested if on TV today, but I find them hilarious nonetheless. It's an example of humor about gays that needs to be left in the past, but is part of our collective history.
The chronicles of Mrs. Slocombe's cat, that is to say, her "little pussy," never failed to be recounted in every episode. The gag, to Sugden's credit, never got old. Watch this and see for yourself.
It was camp and just plain wrong, but I loved it. Somehow I doubt it endeared itself to you, Straight Guy.
What, exactly, are you trying to say, Miller? Since you've labeled yourself as the "Champagne of Beers," why fear sophistication and hoity-toity-ness? As for credibility, you blew that one with your "unpturned" typo. Let's keep the product-tasters and the copy editors at different ends of the hall from now on.
I hate to break it to you, Miller, but there are hundreds of beers "straighter" than High Life.
What's your take readers? Funny? Mean? Homophobic?
I find myself thinking about summer camp and other outdoor activities these days.
Summer camp was such a miserable failure for me -- or, more accurately, I was a failure at camp. I stuck it out through one week of church camp with the help of my best friend, as well as a few overnight Boy Scout ventures. But everyone knew that they were forcing a square peg through a round hole. A weeping, vomiting, insecure, non-compliant square peg.
Did I like or dislike camp activities? I don't remember. I do remember our cabin being read to every night by "Aunt Shirley," our cabin mom. I got to ring the dining hall bell to announce dinner. That was nice. I remember getting a demerit for leaving my jacket outside on the cabin porch. That never happened again.
I was just too prone to homesickness to go to camp. The one week of family church camp we went to was fine: my family was there, some of my friends were there. But, being away from home was really traumatic for me; I missed my mom, my routine, my stuff.
I am amazed when I meet people who went to camp for the entire summer. I would have been found dead by the end of the first week, curled up under my cabin steps, a copy of the New Yorker clutched to my chest.
Part of camp that didn't work for me even as a child is all the enforced gaiety. You are supposed to be having a wonderful time and loving every minute of it. Like a long, hot, buggy New Year's Eve party.
And camp didn't work because I already knew that for reasons not yet clear I wasn't like other boys.
All of this is a big send up to the video above and website for Camp Camp. It's summer camp for adult gays and lesbians. Where in the security of our brothers and sisters we can camp it up. The video is long, but worth watching.
Most of the people interviewed characterize Camp Camp as simply summer camp for adults, someplace that rekindles fond memories of childhood summers. But, a few of the folks seem to be finding the magical summer experience they never had. Claiming as adults something they were never able to claim as children.
Close to the beginning of the video, there's a guy who slips down some sort of rope course. He looks fearless. And happy. He says he was never secure in this ability to do "manly man" things, but he's doing them. He's the guy I identify with.
I was never secure in my ability to do anything physical. I relied on my wit, cunning, and charm, but not my body. In the past few years, I've made a real effort to take to the great outdoors. Not sports, but the outdoors. Hiking's cool and I can manage kayaking and canoeing. I don't want to play baseball, but going to games is fun. I still hide when people try to round up teams for sports that involve balls moving at fast speeds, but I am learning to trust and enjoy a different side of myself, and that feels good.
That rock climbing wall at Camp Camp looks pretty fun. And, the chance to do it with -- and, more importantly, in front of-- people who won't judge me feels right. Maybe Camp Camp's in my future.
What about you, Straight Guy? Were you one of those kids who went off to camp with nary a backward glance?
I heard a mocking tone in your comment about my spinning class. (Don't worry, readers, it's all for show. He's just egging me for a new post.)
So, you think spinning is gay? For girls?
Okay, maybe the second class of the week o' Michael Jackson tribute was too much. Maybe no one needed the instructor to scream out to the class, "Any objections to a second round of 'Beat It'?" Let me tell you, though, spinning kicks my ass.
I swore I'd never take any kind of class at the gym. First, I don't really like group settings of anything. Second, spinning instructors scream -- you can here them all over the gym, and spinning and aerobics classes both emanate horrific music. I guess aerobics is dead, or at least my gym doesn't offer it.
I started spinning this winter to beat the seasonal blues. I can see how it's addictive; I could almost hear my endorphins rushing about. Before I started, I was worried about being the only guy in class, but there's always at least one other. There's one guy who's a regular, he's totally into it. He out spins and and out jumps everyone. And, he's straight as an arrow.
Or at least, I thought he was; now I am not sure. One night, right after class we were both in the grocery store. He was with another guy, and they were sharing a grocery basket. Exhibit A. They could be room mates, but the other guy had that, "Can't help loving that man of mine" look to him. Exhibit B. The gay people rest their case.
Anyway, I've started taking a new yoga class. This one gets away from the seated, slow poses with meditation. The new class never stops. One pose after another. After the hour, I was dripping. My t-shirt was a wash rag. Almost a week later and I am still sore.
I'll challenge the grungy softball league guys to a yoga smack down any day.
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