November 07, 2006


So, I must admit, I've become a bit fashion-obsessed since this summer.

I'm sure it has more than a little to do with living in Los Angeles.

You can also chalk some of it up to having a European girlfriend who was constantly harping that I'm too old to keep dressing like a student.

Of course, it really started with Ozwald Boetang. He is, by far, the coolest brother I've ever seen in an orange, hand-made suit. And, after seeing his handiwork, both on his show, as well as in movies like "Miami Vice" and "Gangster No. 1", not to mention Jamie Foxx for the last two Oscars, I've now determined that I need to make a big sale JUST to have a hand-made suit from Boatang.

But what REALLY pushed me over the edge was the film "The Devil Wears Prada". I'm not going to give a big, long, Macroscopic review like I usually do. Let's just say that I got a subscription to Men's Vogue that night.

Yes, it's true. I think I'm officially a metrosexual.

Of course, I've always been aware of clothes. Old friends are quite familiar with my "Theory of Ugly Uniforms" - i.e. sports teams with ugly uniforms NEVER win championships. Think about it - if you have on whack gear, how can you feel good about yourself? And if you don't feel good about yourself, how can you possibly feel like a champion? And if you don't FEEL like a champion, how can you possibly BECOME a champion?

Consider the Detroit Pistons - during the "Bad Boys" era, they had the classic, simple blue & red uniforms. They won back-to-back championships. But, for years, despite having a guy like Grant Hill, one of the most talented players in the game, they could never match that success.

During those same years, they also had this rediculous teel uniforms with some stupid iron horse logo.

Then, a few years back, they changed to a modernized version of the classic blue & red. Got some great talent.

Champions again.

L.A. Clippers - take note.

Point being, the same, ultimately, applies to non-athletes. You can't really expect to conquer the world in sweatpants and a thread-bare t-shirt. I have a good friend who used to call that particular combination of clothes her "I Give Up On Life" uniform.

I once argued with a friend that I refused to buy silk boxers - after all, why spend so much money for something that is ultimately going to wrap around my ass?

And my friend replied - "Of course you should spend alot of money for something to wrap around your ass. It's YOUR ass!"

In short, I put alot more thought and care into what I put on my body these days.

But it was only after I'd walked out of my local polling place today that I realized what I'd done:

My favorite crimson polo shirt from Structure, great pair of jeans LagunaSport jeans, and these excellent cream-colored Italian sport shoes I got as an absolute steal on Melrose.

Yes. It's election day, and I'm wearing red, white, and blue.

In case anyone was wondering, I am an American.

I'm a patriot.

And, just like anyone who's sick to death watching something they love sink deeper and deeper into corruption and dispair, today is, as Andrew Sullivan said, not an election. It's an intervention.

I'm also a liberal. So, here are some things I believe, and how they dictate how I vote.

1. Generally speaking, I only vote for candidates I believe in. Which means I didn't vote for anyone for governor. It also means that I didn't vote for Diane Feinstein (she's too conservative for me) or Diane Watson (what the Hell does she actually DO, anyway?) - no big loss for these ladies, seeing how they're running unopposed. I also didn't vote for Cruz Bustamante - call it payback for running in the stupid recall election, splitting the Democratic vote, and helping to give us the Governator. See ya later, Cruz.

2. I don't vote for bond initiatives. No matter what they're for. Unless it's an emergency, like the War Bonds they issued to defeat the Nazis or something like that. Generally speaking, bonds represent a certain point of view on how government should work that I don't agree with. And bonds have only become really popular because we've come to deify the market while simultaneously demonizing the notion of taxes. If we, as a people, collectively agree that something is important, instead of of selling off pieces of the country to the highest bidder to help pay for it, why don't we just pony up ourselves for the things that matter? Instead of asking each person to contribute a fair share to the maintenance of the nation, we're begging the rich to lend the state the money, at a significant mark-up. That just strikes me as fundamentally unpatriotic. I mean, think about it - George Bush is saying that the War in Iraq is the definitive conflict of our lifetime. And yet, not only is he asking us to give LESS money to support said effort (in the form of these insane, unfunded tax cuts), but we've issued treasury bonds that we have to pay interest on to pay for it.... most of which are being bought by China.

So, generally speaking, bonds are bad. We have the money. Let's just pay for it. Moreover, I think bonds encourage waste on the legislature's part. It's like having a high limit credit card - it doesn't exactly encourage fiscal responsibility.

3. The ONLY exception I'll make on bonds are those that are issued for education-related initiatives. Especially now, since we've been saddled with an unfunded Federal mandate called "No Child Left Behind", the future of the country, dare I say, even the world, depends on us getting education right. Don't believe me? Watch "The Wire" on HBO. You'll see what I'm talking about.

4. I don't vote for Republicans. With VERY few exceptions. When I lived in New Jersey, I voted for Christine Todd Whitman for governor back in the mid '90's against Jim MacGreevy (even then, as a born & bred Democrat, I had a sense that MacGreevy couldn't be trusted -
who knew?). And I think, given the fact that her new book is called "It's My Party, Too: Taking Back the Republican Party", you get the idea that she's not your typical Republican. As you know, my brother is a Republican, and I have nothing but respect for his opposing viewpoint. But the way his party's leaders conduct themselves politically and during elections themselves - voter surpression (usually targeted against Blacks), exploitative ads (usually done at the expense of Blacks), push polls, robo-calls, sometimes down-right violence - these people are fundamentally un-American. You want to legitimately debate the issues, fine. But Jim Crow is illegal, gang. Until the stink of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove and the Nixon "Southern Strategy" is washed away from the GOP, they will NEVER get my vote. I'll sooner leave the ballot blank.

So, yes, friends, I DID vote, today. I always vote. But I did not vote for Phil. Or Arnold. Or Peter Camejo. I know longer vote for fear.

But I happily voted for Mark Ridley Thomas and Jerry Brown and Debra Bowen. I gladly voted for Prop 87, to tax the oil companies to fund alternative energy research. And I gladly voted for public financing here in California.

And now, I'm going to the movies. :-) After all, nothing else is really going to happen this election day until midnight.

November 03, 2006

Inaugurate Yourself

From the moment I sat down in the movie theatre last night, I knew I'd have to write something today.

And by the time the movie ended, when I was literally wiping tears from my eyes, I was worried that there was no way I could possibly convey all that I wanted to say surrounding this film in a blog post.

So, let's just start with the obvious:

Last night, I saw a screening of Emilio Estevez's new film, "Bobby", about the day in 1968 when Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in the Ambassador Hotel just after winning the California Democratic Primary for that year's presidential election.

I very rarely make Oscar predictions, but, this time, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this movie will win Best Picture next February.

It's that good.

And not because Emilio Estevez is a particularly exceptional screenwriter or film director. His visual style borrows alot from Oliver Stone's "JFK" and "Nixon", and the multi-character storytelling that seems to be in vogue this year (even yours truly is getting in on the act on that one) is not especially remarkable.

It's not even because it has the most insanely all-star cast I've seen in years:

Harry Belafonte, Anthony Hopkins, Martin Sheen, Helen Hunt, Christian Slater, William H. Macy, Heather Graham, Demi Moore, Aston Kutcher, Nick Cannon, Joy Bryant, Josh Jackson, Freddy Rodriguez, Laurence Fishburne, David Krumholtz, Sharon Stone, Lindsey Lohan, Elijah Woods

And I hear the budget of the film was only $10 million.

Just so you can understand how much of a big deal that is, Lindsey Lohan got paid $7.5 million to star in "Just My Luck" earlier this year. All of these actors took a serious pay cut to do this film.

"So", you may ask,"What is the big deal about this movie?"

As many of you know, I literally had a real political "Come-to-Jesus" moment during the 2004 election. And I wrote about it the very next day, in a post called "The Sun WILL Rise".

In that post, I talked about how that election was really a referendum on fear, and that fear won in a landslide.

I made a decision that day, that I would no longer vote for fear.

Which means that I no longer vote for the lesser of two evils. I no longer vote against someone or some policy or to send a message.

Instead, from now on, I will vote for what I truly desire.

From now on, I will vote with courage. And with faith. And with hope.

So, as you can see from my previous post about the California Democratic Party, I will NOT be voting for either Arnold Schwartzenegger OR Phil Angelides. Because neither of them represent the kind of leadership, or, quite frankly, the kind of California that I choose to live in.

Now, since there are more than a few people like me out there, who have not been pursuaded by Mr. Angelides, it will probably mean that Arnold will get re-elected. And that makes me sad.

But, the fact of the matter is, I know that I have the ultimate power over my life and the circumstances surrounding it. Arnold being governor may present me with new challenges, but they are all within my power to surmount.

And that's not because I have such-and-such a job, or because I know this or that person, or because I have a couple of degrees from so-and-so university.

One of my favorite Bible passages is where someone asks Jesus why he and his disciplines eat with so-called "unclean" hands. And Jesus replies:
"Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'? For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body...What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'"
I don't fear Arnold because there is, truly, nothing Arnold can do to me that I don't first do to myself.

Just like I don't fear George Bush.

Or Al Qaeda.

I don't fear them because I am eternal.

In the cosmic, Biblical, spiritual, esoteric sense of the word.

Certainly, I can bleed. My bones can break, just like my heart. My body can be killed.

But all of those things are, in the end, not me.

I am something More.

And, as such, I choose to live my life as More.

To have More. To be More.

So everything I do must be More.

And so, I cannot vote for these candidates who are on the ballot for Governor next Tuesday, because they are not More.

And, since I am, they cannot possibly represent me.

There have been those in the past who were More.

Kurt Schmoke, the old mayor of my home town of Baltimore, was More.

Some of Howard Dean was More. Some, but not all - he caught the tail of it, and I love what he stands for, but he's still, at a level, playing the other game. Because when you exist only in opposition, you exist in a state of lack. In many ways, I think Dean will be seen by historians as the political equivalent of a progressive John the Baptist. But I've said plenty about him.

And, of course, Bill Clinton.

After all, he was, is, and continues to be, "The Man From A Place Called 'Hope'". And what is Hope but the faith in More than what is before you today?

And I'm beginning to suspect that Barack Obama is More. Because, like the title of his book implies, hope is a courageous exercise, and to even suggest that that could be the cornerstone of a campaign in the age of Karl Rove, demonstrates, at least, in my mind, how much More he may be.

And More is like porn.

People know it when they see it, and once you've seen it, sometimes, you can never get enough of it.

Which is why Obama is selling out crowds all over the country, and he isn't even running yet.

And, in all honesty, I think the last person on a national scene who was truly MORE was Bobby Kennedy.

I have a friend who told me she saw RFK speak at a rally in New Orleans back in '68. She said the only way to describe the energy in the room was "sexual".

Now, some people think that's a dirty word. But I see it another way. Because that which is sexual is that which creates life.

It's that creative spark that reaches down and touches something deep in your soul.

Your greatest lover.

Kennedy, for all of the things he was - a child of priviledge, a lieutenant of McCarthy's during the commie witch hunts, a fairly cut-throat Attorney General, a carpetbagger - all of that was transcended by the energy of the moment of America at that time, for which he was the ultimate, perfect vessel.

A vessel of hope.

That was shattered.

And when that moment, the assassination, comes in the film, and I see the characters weep for all that seemingly is lost in that instant, I suddenly found myself in tuned with MY America, today, and all that has seemingly been lost in the last six years.

And, when those celluloid characters wept on the screen, I wept with them.

Because their America is my America.

But, even in death, Bobby's voice still carries on, from the famous speech he gave in the wake of Martin Luther King's murder:
"Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again."

Even in the midsts of sorrow and pain, we know that, in the end, nothing has truly been lost.

Bobby may have bleed. His body may have been broken.

But he was More.

And so was the vision and the dream of his America that he brought to light.

Those things are eternal.

And his America is OUR America.

So, remember, when you exercise your civic duties next Tuesday, if you're choosing the lesser of two evils, you're still choosing evil.

Know that nothing that those who oppose you and your beliefs can do can ever touch who you TRULY are.

Have the courage to choose More.

That could be picking a candidate, or, it could mean staying at home, not out of absentmindedness, but out of a willful decision.

Vote with your heart first. Let it tell you what you should do with your body on Election Day.

Choose More.

Then have More.

Go see "Bobby" when it premieres.


Elephants in the Closet

No link this time - just a musing.

An old acquaintance of mine was an openly gay man who went to Dartmouth in the late-80's and early '90's, during a time when the Dartmouth Review, a conservative student newspaper, was making national headlines for it's incidiary rhetoric against gays, women, & people of color - so much so that some were starting to blame the paper for acts of harassment and intimidation against diverse students and faculty on that campus.

And, in the midsts of all of this right wing hatred, my friend tells me that he was actually sleeping with one of the staffers for the Review - someone who was responsible for some of the most viralent anti-gay diatribes the paper had ever published.

In light of Mark Foley, Jeff Gannon, and Ted Haggart, I now understand why so many Republicans think Gay Marriage will somehow destroy the institution of marriage and the fabric of our society.

There are so many of these guys who are in the closet, pretending to be straight, and they're terrified of a world where they can be fully expressed. Many of their straight marriages WOULD end, because the world would move that much closer to letting them truly fulfill their hearts' desires. The temptation might be too great.

It reminds me a bit of Klute, the old Jane Fonda sexual thriller from the 70's, where the villain wants to kill her because she helped him find his true sexual expression, even though he still thinks he's a dirty dirty boy for doing it. Damn her! If only she would have left him alone, then he could be normal, missionary sex, repressed like everyone else!

I guess the people who have the hardest time accepting their nature become the biggest pursecutors - punishing the outside world as standins for the punishment they think that they, themselves, deserve, but hide from.

Anyway, just a thought.

Dead? or Alive?

One of my favorite comics in the last few years was Mark Millar's WANTED, about weakling slacker kid who discovers that he's the heir to the world's deadliest super-assassin and has inherited his father's superpowers as well as place in a fraternity of comic-book supervillains who secretly took over the world in 1986 and made it the not-quite-so-super place we all see around us today.

It's brillant, and wickedly fun, with characters like Shithead, who's literally a living pile of morphing excrement, and Johnny Two-Dicks, a schizophrenic gangster who reluctantly takes his criminal marching orders from his talking, evil superfluous penis. These characters are unrepentently evil - they kill, rob, & rape with total impunity, and the drama comes from watching a total wuss find his true self by getting in touch with his evil side - but still recognizing that, even among bad people, there's such a thing as loyalty, duty, even love.

So, when I heard it was being adapted for the screen, with James MacAvoy, currently starring opposite Forest Whitaker in the incredibly powerful film about Idi Amin, The Last King of Scotland, cast in the lead role, I was VERY excited.

Until today.

When I read the official synopsis of the movie adaptation. See it for yourself here at this link for
SuperHero Hype.

"Mythological Fates"? WTF?!??!?!?!!

Who's brilliant idea was THAT?!

I'll reserve final judgement until I see a trailer, but, suffice it to say, I'm not pleased.

I suppose, once you go beyond a certain budget threshold for a film, the suits assume that no one will pay to see bad people do bad things.

And, to those folks, I have only one word for them:


Who was the inspiration for the visual look for the main character in the comic in the first place!

But I imagine Mark Millar himself has the best attitude about the whole thing:
One thing you WON'T see me doing is bitching. JG and I own this and had the right to keep it from ever being a movie, but we decided to take the plunge and hope for the best. They paid us well and we can only hope they do a good job. Like I said, I'm hopeful. Even if it's nothing like the book in the end (I have no idea), The Shining was nothing like the book and was still great. I wish them nothing but the best.
Anyway, read the comic. It's excellent.