aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, December 29, 2006
Sipple had served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, where was wounded twice. Following his discharge in 1970 he moved to San Francisco, living on a veteran’s disability pension.
With the media clamoring for information on the man who saved the presidents life openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk told a reporter that Sipple was gay and had worked on the campaign that made Milk the first gay local politician in the US.
But while Milk and Sipple’s friends in San Francisco knew he was gay his family did not. Following the press report his mother disowned him.
Sipple, shocked by the outing issued a statement: “My sexual orientation has nothing at all to do with saving the President’s life, just as the color of my eyes or my race has nothing to do with what happened in front of the St. Francis Hotel.”
He then sued the San Francisco Chronicle and six other papers for damages, and the mental stress he suffered as a result of his mother’s action. The lawsuit dragged on until it finally was dismissed in court five years later.
The distress that Sipple was going through led him to drink. He was found dead on February 2, 1989 in his apartment. Police at the time said they believed he had been dead for two weeks. [...]
Only 30 people attended Sipple’s funeral.
Savion’s Happy Feet
In New York I passed on the opportunity to see Happy Feet. I wasn’t the least bit interested in seeing March of the Penguins, why would I want to see a rip-off? Turns out, the Happy Feet idea was hatched first. But the real reason…
I went to imdb.com, the Web site for all things cinematic, and printed out the film’s complete cast and crew. There, on Page 13 of 14, between the listing for Lucinda Glenn as production coordinator: animation, and Alexandra Gunter as additional production coordinator, is Savion Glover, motion capture dancer. This is giving tap new recognition? [...]
Mr. Glover himself professes total satisfaction with his credit. “My job was to be a stunt man,” he said yesterday through a spokesman in his office. “I love George Miller, and was happy to be a part of the film. I have no problem at all.”
Maybe a proper credit for Mr. Glover just slipped everybody’s minds, including Mr. Glover’s. Maybe dance, even in a film whose entire plot hinges on dance, is so far from the concerns of most people that Mr. Glover’s credit escaped everyone’s attention. But that omission seems especially worrisome when the dance being slighted is deeply rooted in the black American tradition.
“I was just so excited that someone was putting dance in the movie,” Mr. Glover told Ms. Kaufman. “I didn’t ask any questions. I was just going on the strength of tap-dancing - someone wants tap-dancing.”
Well, someone did, and maybe Mr. Glover is as happy as he says he is with his, and tap’s, new prominence. But if tap is to be respected, its greatest living exponent must be respected too. To win respect, you have to do more than be the best there is. You have to fight, meaning negotiate, for the recognition you deserve.
Maybe Savion’s mellowed; I always thought him to be a fighter. Here a promo for Happy Feet featuring Savion on how the dance sequences were put together:
Ford’s pro-gay post presidency remembered
Condemn me if you will but I supported the pardon of Richard Nixon and voted for Gerald Ford for president. I was young and dumb; always a registered Democrat, that was the last time I voted Republican.
Interesting to remember that Ford would become the first past or current president to join a gay advocacy group:
In a widely read interview in October 2001 with lesbian columnist Deb Price of the Detroit News, Ford called on his fellow Republicans to join him in supporting equal treatment for gay people.
“I have always believed in an inclusive policy, in welcoming gays and others into the party,” Ford said. “I think the party has to have an umbrella philosophy if it expects to win elections.”
When asked by Price if gay couples should receive the same economic benefits as married couples, such as Social Security and tax deductions, Ford said, “I don’t see why they shouldn’t. I think that’s a proper goalÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I think they ought to be treated equally. Period.”
Ford’s gay-supportive comments in the Price interview prompted the Republican Unity Coalition, a gay-straight alliance that advocated support for gay issues within the Republican Party, to invite Ford to join its advisory board.
To the amazement and delight of the group’s executive director, Charles Francis, Ford accepted the invitation…
LATER: The original October 21, 2001 Deb Price Detroit News column.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Video ads that work in a YouTube world?
Earlier I read this Chris Anderson 2007 prediction in the LATimes:
I’M WILLING TO bet that 2007 is the year that somebody figures out how to make video advertising work in a YouTube world. And if I’m right, the TV industry is going to get very rocky, very fast.
Later I came across this from Cory Bergman at Lost Remote:
Earlier this year, Google rolled out click-to-play video ad units as part of its AdWords network (demo here). Now Google is testing in-stream video ads, a sort of video AdSense for content publishers. Here’s how it would work: Publishers upload video to Google Video, embed the players on their own sites and the Google-powered ads are embedded in the streams (currently as post-rolls). The revenue is then split. Google has been testing the in-stream ads on Beet.TV (although I didn’t see them when I checked today) and also working with MTV. Add YouTube to this equation and you have a massive network of video blogs that are shooting, posting and embedding video content, a market ripe for video advertising.
The iPod vending machine
The top treat in the sleek, high-tech machines operated by her company and ZoomSystems at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is a top-of-the-line Apple iPod that fetches $349 before tax. It comes with a money-back guarantee, and it doesn’t drop from anywhere.
A sophisticated robotic arm gently guides the mini-music machine to the buyer’s hands.
Not only did various versions of Apple’s iPod comprise the hottest-selling consumer electronics item on Amazon, but the fifth-generation 30-gigabyte model with video playback topped Amazon’s list as the most wished-for product and the most popular gift item in the consumer electronics category for the year. [...]
Hitwise reported that Apple’s iTunes Store saw a 413 percent increase in traffic between December 24 (Christmas Eve) and December 25 (Christmas Day). And the company saw a 110 percent increase when comparing Christmas Day 2005 with Christmas Day 2006.
As goes Kansas, so goes Red America
[A] dramatic shift...has taken hold lately among gay and bisexual Kansans, many of them well into midlife and ensconced in long-term relationships. An energized culture of coming out has emerged, apparently in reaction to what many see as the anti-gay climate that led to the marriage ban.
Nowhere is this change more obvious than in a new analysis of census data by Gary J. Gates, a demographer at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, a think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles. He found a 68 percent jump in Kansas households headed by same-sex partners between 2000 and 2005. In 2005, 11 out of every 1,000 couples living together in Kansas reported themselves as same-sex, according to Mr. Gates’s review of the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey data, a figure closer than one might expect to those recorded in New Jersey and New York, where 12 and 14 out of every 1,000 couples, respectively, are same-sex.
What the increase suggests, Mr. Gates said, is not so much that gay Americans are flocking to the state, but that the ones who live there have been galvanized to declare themselves to their neighbors and communities.
Here‘s the Gates’ study. Kansas wasn’t the only state to see a dramatic jump in households self-identified as headed by same-sex partners (see p.12); Colorado is up 58%, Indiana increased 54%, Iowa 58%, Missouri 56%, Nebraska 71%, Ohio 62%, Oklahoma 42%.
Overall same-sex couples in the U.S. grew by more than 30 percent, an increase five times the six percent rate of growth in the U.S. population. We in Georgia are up 27%, but then we already had the 8th largest gay population in the country.
I’m betting stories like this are going to be told more and more:
Ms. Slayton found that the more she opened herself up, the more she found solace. The day after the marriage amendment passed, her handyman, a Rush Limbaugh fan who came to install her air conditioner, expressed his sympathies. “He came upstairs and said ‘I’m just so sorry, Cyd, I know how hard you worked on this,’ “ she said. “He put his arm around me and it was just about as touching a thing that happened around this whole issue.”
MORE FROM KANSAS: Kansas Sen. (& Pres hopeful) Sam Brownback wants a Senate panel to question a judicial nominee who has already been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee about attending a lesbian commitment ceremony; said the Times, “Whether someone has attended a same-sex commitment ceremony is not a worthy litmus test to impose on someone seeking an important office. Whether someone holds hateful views toward gay people certainly is.”
Lawrence, KS is considering a domestic partnership registry that would be run by the city. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius will be chair of the Democratic Governors Association. Check out the LeftyBlogs Kansas feed. And in case you missed it, The Onion’s Kansas bans evolution is a hoot.
Not you, “us”
The important movement online is not about “you.” It’s about “us.” It’s about our profound need to connect and share. It’s about our remarkable ability to create among circles - each person contributing a little bit to a poem, a song, a quilt, or a conversation.
So it’s not about your reviews on Amazon. It’s about how we as a community of Web users choose to exercise our collective wills and forge collective consciousnesses. So far, we have declined to do so. We have not harnessed this communicative power to force the rich and powerful to stop polluting our air and water or to stop the spread of AIDS or malaria. We have not brought down any tyrants. We have simply let a handful of new corporations aggregate and exercise their own will on us. And we have perfected online dating.
But there are signs of real profound triumphs of “We.” Wikipedia is the best example. Blogs are another. Communities - both local and global - have generated amazing collections of content and communication in recent years. They have truly challenged the status-quo in ways that Time hypes so well.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Georgia’s New Years Eve Blues
ATLANTA - The Halo lounge is a vision of Space Age chic, with midcentury-modern lounge chairs, a 40-foot bar made of white onyx, and a custom sound system thumping sinuous dance music.
It’s the kind of “stimulating” nightspot city officials describe in Atlanta’s latest marketing campaign, the one with the slogan “Every day is an opening day.”
But this New Year’s Eve, the Halo will be closed for business - because New Year’s Eve falls on a Sunday, and Georgia law dictates that bars cannot serve alcohol on Sundays.
Space Age, meet Bible Belt.
It’s not so bad as it sounds. In Atlanta - and my town - restaurants, hotels and bars with special permits can serve alcohol. The laws are an anachronism; even here.
I’ll be back
Regular readers will have noticed the dearth of holiday posts.
I had a terrific holiday vacation in the north, but on my way home Sunday I was felled by a bout of food poisoning. I’ve been down and out since.
I can only say I’m glad that it was not worse and I hope to be back posting soon.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
The way we were
LATER: A friend of Sam’s says, “I know those old photographs and they are adorable even though the men were not gay but very unselfconsciously embracing, something bred out of them now.”
My work decades ago on the film Before Stonewall tells me it’s not so clear; the photo essay - and its sentiment - are legitimate either way.
The perfect gift
Politically active family from Portsmouth, NH gave me Barack Obama’s Audacity of Hope last night. They got it at his book signing there, and were among those impressed by his charismatic speaking style:
PORTSMOUTH, N.H.-Brenda Bladen was trying to explain why she liked Barack Obama so much-he was authentic, selfless, and inspirational. He was restoring her faith in politics. “I’m not comparing him to Jesus Christ but Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ “ she said, before talking about the senator’s humble beginnings.
No description or venue seemed big enough to accommodate Barack Obama’s first visit to New Hampshire. In Portsmouth, it was standing room only as he signed his book The Audacity of Hope in a community ballroom normally used for wedding receptions. The 750 tickets for the event sold out in 24 hours. (One thousand people showed up.) [...]
It’s easy to see why New Hampshire Democrats were in a frenzy over Obama. He is a winning presence in a room. He is stylish in his uniform of white shirt, no tie, and dark blazer. He carries himself with the weightless self-possession men’s magazines achieve only by employing a team of stylists and wardrobe artists. Even his left-handed signature is elegant-a B and an O connected by confident slashes. If he really were a rock star, he’d have it etched into the side of his private plane. “I didn’t know about the charisma factor,” said Jessica Hayes leaving Portsmouth. “Now I know. I’m in love.” (In Portsmouth, people waited in line for over an hour to have him sign a copy of his latest book.)
Mine is not an autographed copy.
Friday, December 22, 2006
If i were to live in, say, Minneapolis, MN rather than somewhere near Macon, GA, I’d need to keep this in mind:
ADVANCES like electronic traction control and all-wheel drive make it possible for many cars to get through winter on all-season tires, which provide good grip in a wide range of conditions. But in regions with heavy snowfall and prolonged low temperatures, a set of specialized winter tires may be the difference between getting to your destination or spinning off a slick road.
About 20 years ago, winter tires were much the same as summer tires except for a tread pattern that was deep and blocky - a design intended to help the car claw its way through snow. But winter tires have improved a lot in the last decade or so.
The sex-offender panic is evidently a global phenomenon:
In a development that would make the Grinch smile, Santa Claus is said to be in danger of disappearing from British homes, stores and streets—a victim of the fear surrounding child sex abuse.
According to the Manifesto Club, a free-speech group, stringent British child protection laws are threatening to ruin the traditional Christmas custom.
In recent years, the British press has focused increasing attention on the threat sex offenders pose to young children. Because of pedophile scandals, the group said in a new report, most adults playing at Santa in schools, churches and stores are now required to undergo costly criminal background checks before donning the red suit.
Concern about lawsuits has prompted many department stores to ban children from sitting on Santa’s knee, touching him or visiting him in the traditional grotto (Santa’s workshop).
Via Joe Gandelman.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Tonight’s our last night in New York. Last night we went to see Spring Awakening:
‘’Spring Awakening’’ is a withering attack on a rigid, hypocritical society that cares only about outward appearances and refuses to deal openly with natural sexual urges. The plot [based on an 1891 German drama by Frank Wedekind] focuses on three adolescents—Wendla Bergmann, Moritz Stiefl and Melchior Gabor—who are grappling with the emotional turmoil that is triggered by their sexual awakening. With wit, if not always subtlety, Wedekind skewers Victorian conformity (whether from liberals or conservatives) and evasiveness about masturbation, homosexuality, sadomasochism and more. The 14-year-old Wendla, for example, futilely begs her mother to tell the truth about how babies are born instead of more fairy tales of storks flying down chimneys. By the end this sort of repression and enforced ignorance lead to suicide, abortion and violence.
To Wedekind theater was about expressing emotional truth. Uninspired by naturalistic drama and the surface reality it portrayed, he stretched and bent traditional dramatic structure, using stylized dialogue, fragmented sentences, episodic storytelling and bizarre scenarios to capture an interior world of feeling and fantasy. Forerunners of Expressionism and the Theater of the Absurd, his theories and techniques would undergird modern drama.
In the current Broadway musical Duncan Sheik, the composer, and Steven Sater, who adapted the book and wrote the lyrics, deploy pulsating rock music to transport the characters from their 19th-century reality and get at their inner lives: ‘’See, each night, it’s, like, fantastic—tossing, turning, without rest,/’Cause my day’s at the piano—with my teacher and her breasts,’’ sings Georg Zirschnitz, a boy in Melchior’s school, as he daydreams during Latin class about sex. Two other students sing: ‘’See there’s showering in gym class/Bobby Maler, he’s the best/Looks so nasty in those khakis/God, my whole life’s, like, some test.’’
Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, whose sexual relationship with U.S. President Bill Clinton led to his impeachment, has graduated from the London School of Economics, her publicist said on Wednesday.
Lewinsky, who was 21 when she became involved with Clinton, is interviewing for jobs in Britain, publicist Barbara Hutson said. [...]
She completed a thesis entitled “In Search of the Impartial Juror: An exploration of the third person effect and pre-trial publicity.”
An interesting thesis topic too!
The nearly three-minute digital film, shown on “Saturday Night Live” last Saturday, was a parody of two boy-band singers (including one played by the real Justin Timberlake) crooning a holiday song about making a gift to their girlfriends of their male anatomy, which they appeared to have wrapped in boxes (strategically placed) and then topped with bows.
Given the subject matter, it was little surprise that NBC bleeped a recurring word in the chorus 16 times. But soon after the broadcast concluded at 1 a.m. Sunday, viewers who’d seen the bit on TV (and others who had just heard about it) could find the uncensored version online. That’s because the network itself had placed it on its own Web site (nbc.com) and YouTube.com, under the headings “Special Treat in a Box” or “Special Christmas Box.”
In less than a week the official uncensored version of the video has been viewed by over two million people on YouTube alone. In the process “Saturday Night Live” appears to have become the first scripted comedy on a broadcast network to use the Web to make an end-run around the prying eyes of both its internal censors and those of the Federal Communications Commission, whose jurisdiction over “Saturday Night Live” effectively ends at the Web frontier.
The common denominator in “Special Treat” and “Lazy Sunday” - as well as another “Saturday Night Live” favorite on You Tube featuring the actress Natalie Portman and her supposed bad-girl side - is a performer on the show, Andy Samberg, and a supporting cast of producers he brought with him to “Saturday Night Live” from a pioneering Web site called Lonely Island.[...]
As yet another production featuring Mr. Samberg spreads like electronic wildfire, the performer said he was pleased that the show was becoming so adept at finding alternate routes to viewers, beyond the 6.5 million who, on average, watch the show on NBC each Saturday night, according to Nielsen Media Research. (A figure that is down slightly since last year at this time.)
“A sign now of success with a certain audience when you do a short comedy piece, anywhere, is that it gets on YouTube and gets around,” Mr. Samberg said. “It’s always something you’re thinking about unconsciously. It’s not our main objective. But there’s no part of us that doesn’t want to be on YouTube.”
Here’s the uncensored Dick in a Box video from NBC’s YouTube page (it’s been removed from everyone else’s). The Times’ story details its genesis and concludes with SNL lead writer Seth Meyers’ observation that “it’s actually not funnier uncensored.”
Jeff Jarvis has his fingers crossed hoping that the tough time federal appeals court judges gave the FCC yesterday over fines against Fox for graphic language in a live broadcast portends something good:
The judges bored in on the FCC argument. Noting that the hearing was being broadcast on C-Span, the judges quizzed Mr. Miller about whether news programs that subsequently air the oral arguments - where the offending words were sprinkled liberally throughout - would violate FCC standards.
Mr. Miller said likely not, as the words are used for legitimate news purposes.
“This seems to be a scheme that depends on what you [the FCC] think instead of having objective criteria,” said Judge Rosemary Pooler, part of the appeals-court panel. “Are you just telling the networks Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ to make some sort of cockamamie claim and they’ll survive?”
Judge Pooler kept Mr. Miller on the defensive throughout his half-hour long argument, telling him he seemed to contradict himself over whether broadcasters can claim virtually anything has news value. Later, she asked why the FCC had cited a need to protect children from profanities when it had cited no studies finding children were injured by them, but yet had never sought to penalize broadcasters for violence in programs when many studies show they do injure children.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
***LATER: I don’t get what’s going on. My Dick in a Box link goes to a YouTube error page, even after I correct the link. Does YouTube have some technology that remembers that I linked once so won’t let me link again??? Click here to go to a page (scroll down) that links to the uncensored Dick in a Box video. Grrrr!
Reality Check: 95% of Americans had premarital sex
My parents conceived me that way. And I’m in my 50s so that was well before the sexual revolution. CNN:
More than nine out of 10 Americans, men and women alike, have had premarital sex, according to a new study. The high rates extend even to women born in the 1940s, challenging perceptions that people were more chaste in the past.
“This is reality-check research,” said the study’s author, Lawrence Finer. “Premarital sex is normal behavior for the vast majority of Americans, and has been for decades.”
Finer is a research director at the Guttmacher Institute, a private New York-based think tank that studies sexual and reproductive issues and which disagrees with government-funded programs that rely primarily on abstinence-only teachings. The study, released Tuesday, appears in the new issue of Public Health Reports.
Via Pam at Pandagon:
The WaPo reported in March that those virginity pledges touted by head-in-the-sand organizations like True Love Waits and the Silver Ring Thing are doing nothing to stop STDs either. Among the 20 percent of kids that took a virginity pledge, 61 percent of the consistent pledgers and 79 percent of the inconsistent pledgers reported having intercourse before marrying or prior to 2002 interviews. Almost 7 percent of the students who did not make a pledge were diagnosed with an STD, compared with 6.4 percent of the “inconsistent pledgers” and 4.6 percent of the “consistent pledgers.”
2006 Year-End Google Zeitgeist
Hm, I’m out of step with the spirit of the times:
Google.com - Top Searches in 2006
3. world cup
Google News - Top Searches in 2006
1. paris hilton
2. orlando bloom
5. hurricane katrina
7. martina hingis
9. 2006 nfl draft
10. celebrity big brother 2006
LATER: John Battelle, “The top list is not very revealing, save the instance of “rebelde” - a telenovela - or Radioblog - makes me wonder what the parameters are for their filtering. Obviously they filtered out sex searches. What else? What was the methodology? Google doesn’t tell us.”
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Practicing the Viper
Typical GrooveLily-style scheduling: Ted had mentioned late on Thursday that he’d like to try the new “Wonderful” reprise with solo violin accompaniment, instead of Brendan accompanying himself on piano - so the only time to write and practice a violin part before performing it was in the rental car between Menomonie and Fairmont, during our Saturday afternoon drive between gigs. For anyone reading this who has not seen us yet, I should mention that my violin is not typical - it’s a crazy flying-V-guitar-shaped six-string fretted electric instrument called a Viper, which attaches to my body with a tripod/guitar strap harness. It’s bigger than a traditional violin, has the range of a violin, viola and cello combined, and has no chinrest so it’s much easier to sing while playing. The good news (for those attempting to practice in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle): it’s quite sturdy. The bad news: it’s really hard to a) get it out of the case, b) strap it on while wearing a seat belt, c) maneuver the empty case into the rear cargo area, d) move the bow at all without whacking the driver and/or the ceiling, or e) hear anything you’re playing with no amplification and above the roar of the highway.
They say they conceived the show, in part, so they could stay home off the road for the holiday. After the performance Saturday, I asked if they’d be back on the road (duh, they’re musicians, of course they’ll be on the road!) and had they played Georgia?
Ineffective pandering to hyped sex panic feeds the crime
California was the first state to establish a sex offender registry, in 1947. Now every state has one and California is again in the lead (Georgia’s right there with them) in the use of GPS to monitor offenders for lfe.
Effective? Not particularly.
Pamela D. Schultz, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, is skeptical that broad application of GPS technology will do anything to prevent crimes like the one she suffered as a girl, which was committed by a neighbor. Now an associate professor of communications at Alfred University, a private school in western New York, she is the author of “Not Monsters: Analyzing the Stories of Child Molesters.” Schultz is also a mother of two, who has a daughter in the second grade and a 21-month-old son. Regarding the new California laws, she says, “I think it’s another example of feel-good legislation to get communities to feel that actual action is being taken to stem the problem. GPS monitoring and residency requirements are not going to do anything with the vast majority of offenders. They’re just not."[...]
In fact, many sex crimes, notably those committed by family members or acquaintances, go unreported. Schultz fears that residency requirements and GPS tracking will have the unintended consequence of making victims of these crimes less likely to turn an attacker over to authorities. “When the bulk of abuse happens within families and close relationships, there is going to be less of a tendency to report those crimes,” she says. “If something happens inside your family, and you report that, it’s going to be plastered all over the place. Not only is the offender under public scrutiny, so are the families of the victims.” For these types of offenses, adding GPS monitoring and strict residency requirements into the mix adds “another level of pressure into silence.”
Schultz would rather see the tens of millions of dollars California is about to spend monitoring felony sex offenders be poured into counseling for victims of sex crimes and into programs for offenders that aim to prevent recidivism. “As a society we need to become less hysterical and more informed about sexual abuse,” she says in an e-mail. “When we demonize the offenders, we’re pretty much feeding the crime. We further isolate and alienate the offenders, which is a precipitating factor in many offenders’ impulses to act out. We’re so focused on the minority of offenders who seem to fit our skewed perceptions of what sexual abuse and sexual abusers should be, we fail to recognize that the crime actually occurs closer to home.”
If reporting goes down, arrest rates will go down too and lawmakers can claim success while no actual progress has been made or remedy has been found. There is a real problem to be addressed; our legal system is not addressing it.
Billed as “a cross between a rock concert and a holiday show for people who don’t like holiday shows,” it is everything I miss when I’m home away from New York theater. I thoroughly enjoyed it. From the NYTimes review:
Its sweet-and-sour story line is simple: The cranky hero is seduced out of his emotional cubbyhole by a visit from a kooky urbanite, played by Ms. Vigoda, who goes door to door selling “special full-spectrum holiday light bulbs” geared to keep New Yorkers from succumbing to seasonal affective disorder. Musing on her plaintive reaction when he brings up a comparison to the Little Match Girl - “Do you know what happens in that story?” she asks darkly - Mr. Milburn’s character pulls out his handy Hans Christian Andersen. Forgoing an evening of trolling through the holiday offerings on television (cue a hilarious parody of “Law & Order"), he rereads that touching if gloomy tale, and it springs to life in song. The show then toggles between the urban fairy tale and the classic one.
The most important ingredient for a successful musical, it has long been acknowledged, is a first-rate score, and this one is terrific. The rhyme schemes aren’t particularly complex, but the lyrics are alive with wit and humor, and they don’t shy away from surging emotion either. I was hooked by a single, lovely pair of lines that manages the tricky feat of encompassing both: “I would not dwell on the past/If time would not go by so fast,” Mr. Milburn sings in “Last Day of the Year.” The music is rhythmic pop founded on a rich vein of melody, with Ms. Vigoda’s electric violin adding a distinctive note to the clean but potent arrangements. (Although music and voices are amplified, this is the rare musical that allows you to hear virtually every word of every song.)
The photo is of Valerie Vigoda and drummer Gene Lewin of Striking 12 signing what will be a Christmas gift for my nephew (who is himself a very talented drummer) after Saturday night’s performance.
Monday, December 18, 2006
On Genarlow’s cruel & unusual punishment
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The sentence sounds mandated by state statute, and I don’t think there’s any Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause problem here...But while the conviction is constitutionally permissible, it hardly seems like a just result.
How can it be that, in the judges own words, a “promising young man with good grades and no criminal history [is sentenced] to ten years in prison without parole and a lifetime registration as a sexual offender because he engaged in consensual oral sex with a 15 year old victim only two years his junior” and THAT IS NOT CONSIDERED CRUEL AND UNUSUAL???
Thankfully, someone at Sentencing Law and Policy disagrees:
I am not sure I have a fully evolved and sound-tight approach to this provision. But I think a common-person test ought to be of some use. And I have to think common persons would surely view imprisoning a Georgia teenager for 10 years for consensual oral sex as far more “cruel and unusual” than imperfectly administering a lethal injection to a condemned murderer in California.
Again, the key facts are that Georgia Legislature has now said that the defendant’s type of behavior should be treated as a misdemeanor, and many studies suggest that the defendant’s sexual behavior is quite common among teenagers. Yet prosecutions for consensual oral sex between teenagers is extremely rare, and I doubt anyone in recent decades has every received more than a year in prison for such an offense, let alone ten years. Why don’t these facts alone make out at least a plausible case of the infliction of a "cruel and unusual punishment"
So we’re left with a case for executive clemency. Be sure to read the comments:
It seems as if there was a day when the judiciary was more robust and served as more of a real check on the excesses of the political process in the criminal area.... I understand frustration with judicial activism. But there is just so much evidence of disfunction in the legislative branch in dealing with criminal justice—particularly sentencing—issues. And one cannot realistically expect the Executive Branch to function as an adequate check… I don’t think the reason political reform is not coming is because the majority of reasonable people (or legislators) think things are fine with sentencing the way they are. The reality is we pretty indisputably have real problems with over-incarceration in this country, but it is an terribly hard issue for politicians to deal with.