March 1, 2014
We're happy that Arizona governor Jan Brewer has vetoed a ridiculous law that would have allowed business owners to discriminate against LGBT people if the business owners felt their religious believes would be impacted.
You know it was an especially hateful law if Jan Brewer vetoed it. Brewer spearheaded Arizona's 2010 law that allows law-enforcement officers to stop anyone they suspected of being an undocumented immigrant. Since the only way to make that call is to racially profile a suspect, it was a bad, bad law.
The sad thing is that Brewer caved into pressure from big business interests. She vetoed the law to protect Arizona's economy, not because she believes members of the LGBT community should be treated equally.
In real terms, it does show how far the LGBT community has come. There were boycotts over the show-us-your-card law in 2010, and back in the '90s when Arizona's voters refused to make Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a state holiday. It wasn't that long ago that pressure this great in defense of LGBT people was unimmaginable.
The enormous pressure put on Brewer to veto the new law, from major airlines to the NFL (whose next Super Bowl is in Arizona and dodged a big ol' political bullet thanks to Brewer's veto) demonstrates how many people now back equal rights for the LGBT community.
That, and the law would have been a constitutional clusterfuck. Like a good many hateful laws, those drafting it did so with blinders on. Not only could Christians disriminated against gays and lesbians, but theorectically a fundamentalist Muslim could have legally refused to serve a single worman, or a woman not modestly dressed enough for him. The law could have been used for racial and gender discrimination. In fact, with the Bible, Koran and Talmud being the vaguely worded tomes they are, nearly anyone who's religious could have refused service to anyone they wanted.
Again, good for the veto. Good for the corporate pressure. Bad that it was for economic, not ethical reasons.
We've come a long way. Long way to go.
February 9. 2014 We support Michael Sam, the Mizzou footballer who's come out as gay. If he's taken as high in the upcoming NFL draft as projected, he'll be the first openly gay player in the NFL. On the other end of the cool-crap spectrum are the quotes from eight NFL front-office officials in an SI.com story. That the quotes are given anonymously, to encourage honesty (so SI.com claims) demonstrates a) their acknowledgement that what they're advocating/endorsing/espousing is evil, and b) their cowardice at not owning their remarks. As Deadspin puts it, these NFL execs' remarks read "like a briefing from a class-action lawsuit." The quotes do seem implicatory. Collectively, they're saying it's okay to hate on an openly gay player in the NFL.you've gotta understand that the NFL is a hetero culture.it's understandable for Sam to drop in the draft because he's gay.it's acceptable to hurl gay slurs in the NFL.no NFL team wants to be the ones to "break that barrier," i.e. the gay line.we don't want all the extra publicity on Draft Day from media outlets curious about a gay player.[This from a league that whores itself for every bit of worldwide coverage during the Super Bowl.]we're more concerned with immature homophobic players' feelings in the locker room.that's just the way it is, so get over it. It reminds me of LGBT demos at the St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York many years ago. Those of us protesting the parade's exclusion of queer Irish contingents were told by politicians, the cops, and even judges' rulings, that it was for our own good that we couldn't march. In other words, the way for society to handle this conflict is to deny LGBT protesters' civil and political rights rather than arresting people breaking the law by harassing and beating those protestors. Sadly, this is hardly surprising coming from the NFL. Now, a lot of NFL players have come forward supporting Michael Sam. Maybe the front-office people quoted in the SI.com story should talk to their players before talking to the press. -- Scott M.X.
February 6, 2014
Gigs can take forever to get going. The band is hopped up and ready to go, but it all moves in slo-mo. Pile gear into the venue, soundcheck, and wait. Wait. Wait. Sweat the details. Wait.
Amber Shine from the band The Yev took this at the Central Saloon in Seattle, back in December 2013. RebelMart, The Yev and the Brian Marshall Band. It was a good night, all three bands knew it would be. We wanted to kick it into gear the moment we walked through the doors.
Everything before the gig feels like seeing the world through eyeglasses that need cleaning with a fresh handkerchief. I hear you. I see you. I’m listening. I am. But the lead-up to hitting the stage isn’t the best time to have an in-depth conversation with someone in a band.
The explosion’s coming. We’re lucky there’s a surety to the process. Bands are some of the few entities that can’t wait for that light at the end of the tunnel.
That light is you and the songs and the camaraderie and the energy and the combined forces of everything that’s brought us together in this one place.
For RebelMart, the start of a gig is like a particle-accelerator: all that pent-up energy finally released.
That moment when the waiting’s over.
January 28, 2014
We've lost Pete Seeger.
I thought he would live forever. I truly did. He was old the first time I saw him, in Massachusetts in 1976.
I was so naive, I thought he was might be related to Bob Seger. I've never been one for spellchecking. When I wrote home to my mom about the show, I made sure she knew it was Pete, not Bob I'd gone to see play. Mom wrote back and said, curtly, "I know who Pete Seeger is."
Since that bicentennial year, I've learned who Pete Seeger is -- and will continue to be as long as we sing his songs.
This has been a bad stretch for losing people the likes of which we'll never see again...Mandela, now Seeger. If you've ever sung or played one of Pete's songs or the ones he popularized and made sure stayed radicalized, go get a guitar or warm up your voice and give it a go.
There's nothing a songwriter activist wants more than for the songs she writes to continue to be woven into our lives, to be signposts on the long road -- especially the rough stretches -- and to be the sustenance everyone needs. Not to be focused on, just to be of help, to be the stewards and docents of the struggle.
There'll always be struggle, there'll always be the way forward, there'll always be the singers and the songs. And there'll always be Pete.
-- Scott M.X.
January 20, 2014
There's no mistaking the dream that Martin Luther King, Jr. eloquently pushed that day on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It's a universal message of love and equality.
It's convenient for the U.S. in 2014 to leave it at that. Rarely do MLK Day tributes extend past the two go-tos: "I have a dream..." and King's martyrdom.
Each year the good doctor's increasingly revolutionary and combative politics are left on the cutting-room floor. In his last few years, King was a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War. Sure, war in any form is incompatable with King's Christian values. King went further than the easy "God=peace and love" (which history has shown it often doesn't). King was attacking the United States' global imperialism.
A year before he was murderd, Dr. King gave his "A Time To Break Silence" speech. He called out the U.S. government for its many abuses against working people and the crushing of independence struggles one after the next. He also challenged U.S. citizens to take action -- not just for civil rights at home, but for human rights everywhere. Many argue that King was losing patience with non-violence, and at the least was coming to terms with armed revolutionary struggles against U.S. and European exploition in the developing world.
David Bromwich goes through "A Time To Break Silence" and highlights all of King's revolutionary statements.
not so different, these two princes...
KIng's assassination a year after "A Time To Break Silence" was a tragedy. What was lost in its aftermath is incalculable.
Happy MLK Day. The happiness comes in applying King's principles to our own lives. Not just the notion of dreams of children playing together, but of finally breaking the silence...a silence more deafening in 2014 than when King was alive.
January 5, 2014
There was an article in today's New York Times about the Marriott hotel chain.
The company is trying to expand into a line of "boutique" hotels, following a trend set by the W company and, more locally and whimsically, the McMenamin's and Ace chains.
Marriott is concerned that travelers have related the chain to boring, fuddy-duddy status. Travelers want an exciting destination to include the bed, bathroom and amenities under the roof where they stay -- so says the industry.
It's also easy to charge a lot more if your four walls are now all boutiquey.
It seems to play to a common element in the U.S. today -- nobody in big biz trusts us to decide for ourselves that something's exciting and dramatic. Sports telecasts force drama on us with cinematic closeups of pitchers and batters before a crucial last-at-bat pitch, drops of sweat in high def. Newspaper websites report a cell-phone video of a plane crash with the woods SEE IT! and WATCH IT! in huge font.
And now hotels. They might be boutique, but they're still carefully planned by corporate HQ to excite your senses and empty more of your wallet. They also fail to reflect the place your visiting as much as an old family-run motel can.
Maybe the worst part that it's the cost that defines how good something is. A boutique hotel, with all of its trendy furnishings, DJs in the lobby and cucumber-facial spa treatments might not be any better than a boring old Marriott. You're not on vacation for the hotel. But our aspirational ladder-climbing is sated by the notion of boutique accommodations.
Comfort, cleanliness, location and amenities come at any price. But increasingly, our self-worth is judged by pricier notions set in corporate playbooks far from our hearts and souls.
December 28, 2013
Getting to the end of another year. Everyone compiles lists at this time of year -- forget Santa and the naughty-nice business. Every media outlet, from the smallest blogs to the largest conglomerates, has some kind of recap.
Lists, usually. Those are generally crap. For the same reason Battles of the Bands are. Whose to really say these or those are the best or worst. Yes, we all have opinions, and even if we don't like someone else's, it should be voiced. Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson's say, and A&E Network's pathetic ass-covering cash-cow saving embracing of Robertson's vile homophobia.
Best-Of lists, though, are more than opinions. They're run through with a pithy arrogance that says "I'm smarter and more clever than you" for compiling this list. One or two entries on any list are guaranteed to be a "here's one you haven't heard of" or "you don't expect on this list" or "was underrated" or "my personal favorite."
Hey, list-compilers -- you're no different than the rest of us. We ALL have personal favorites, ALL can't understand why only we loved a certain work, ALL champion a band or album or t.v. show. We just don't sit around obsessing over whether the shock killing in Game Of Thrones was more shocking than the shock killing in Homeland. SPOILER -- neither one was shocking, the former having appeared in one of George RR's tomes, the latter telegraphed for seasons.
Robert Christgau, who's been called the Dean Of American Rock Critics so often it might as well be on his birth certificate, used to write a weighty year-end analysis of the Village Voice's Pazz & Jop poll. It made Nate Silver's 538.com look like a drunken guess. But the thing was, it's all just albums we like or don't like.
Reviews, great. Weighty reviews that parse all manner of socioeconomicpoliticalcultural angles, terrific. When it's about ranking Yeezus, Vampire Weekend and Miley Cyrus, it's an absurd waste of time.
Think about it -- Time's Person of the Year is Pope Francis. Hard to disagree with that honor, if you're gonna agree that everyone on earth is tossed in the some eligibility pool. Coming in second is Edward Snowden. It's so thoroughly subjective that it loses structural integrity.
We, the readers of these lists, need to examine not just the list, but the writer, the editor, the publication or website, the publisher, the advertisers, the owner, the country, the political leanings of everyone just mentioned before the list can really come into focus.
It's week 'tween Christmas and New Year's. There's Boxing Day, and this is Listing Week. People who like year-end compendiums might also enjoy Christmas crowds at the mall, Times Square on New Year's, Irish bars on St. Patrick's night. Listing Week is good for punishment gluttons.
Of course, if everyone would just agree that RebelMart's Black River Rising were the album of the year, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
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