aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Australia to Remove Almost 100 Anti-Gay Laws
Australia will remove almost 100 discriminatory laws preventing gay couples from sharing financial and social entitlements enjoyed by married and defacto couples, such as superannuation and pension death benefits.
But the legislative overhaul, to occur when the Labor government sits for its first budget session in May, will not change marriage laws to include gay marriages.
“The government believes that marriage is between a man and a woman so it won’t amend the marriage act,” Attorney-General Robert McClelland said on Wednesday in announcing the changes.
“But in all other areas that we’ve identified, the issue of discrimination against same-sex couples will be removed,” McClelland told reporters.
Madonna’s 11th released today
You know, I waited tables with her sister back in the day. And once she asked me to put something of hers on the sound system. I put on the 12” of Burning Up, my own copy. She mouthed the words and danced in the booth.
Ahh, those were the days.
“Hard Candy” sculpts and buffs the renovated nymphet of “Confessions” to a brilliant sheen. It’s like one of those Yoko Ono sculptures made of a bronzed version of one of her old sculptures. If the songs seem straightforward and simple, with titles like “Dance 2 Nite,” “Beat Goes On” and “Give It 2 Me,” it’s because they are. Only a few bother with a metaphor, like “Candy Shop,” or tell a story, like “She’s Not Me.” Thematically, they are in exactly the mode of manufactured disco performers of the late ‘70s like (you might not recognize so many of these names [uh, I do]) France Joli, Rosebud, Taka Boom or Musique. In other words, she’s mining her original source material—the same songs that informed and shaped the Madonna of “Burning Up” and “Physical Attraction.” Could be blah, but Williams, Timberlake and especially Timbaland seize on these disco clichés and make them sound remarkably fresh.
For “Heartbeat,” Williams swipes the beat from Timbaland and Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous,” and adds retro-sounding Donna Summer/Giorgio Moroder synthesizers, and the occasional cowbell. Over a surprisingly poignant melody, Madonna defends her ongoing, almost visceral commitment to club life: “It may feel old to you/ But it feels new to me,” she tells us. “When I dance I feel free/ Which makes me feel like the only one/ That the light shines on.” Sounds as honest as she’ll ever get. The production’s delightfully plastic, as some of her surgery might be also, but Madonna doesn’t stretch credibility by trying to sound younger. Aside from using the term “pimp your style,” she doesn’t jam any rap slang or teen-speak into these songs, nor does she try to fill them with media-ready catchphrases like two of her collaborators did on the way overquoted “Sexyback.”
The honesty is important: Madonna has managed to throw parenthood into the mix without losing too much of her edge, or seeming like a bad mother. If the idea of a 50-year-old woman inviting you to try her “raw, sticky and sweet” confections, as she does on “Candy Shop,” sounds off-putting, first check your ageism and sexism, then recognize that the song can work in terms of parenting too—especially, I’d imagine, the adoptive kind. If you came from poverty in Malawi, and Madonna made you her kid, you’d certainly find her candy-shop lifestyle irresistible. This tightrope M walks between sex, nurturing and aging on “Hard Candy” is more than most rock-star parents, let alone middle-aged ones, could manage gracefully. (Hey, Britney!)
Short on philosophy and long on groove, “Hard Candy” might be the friendliest Madonna record since her debut, not including “The Immaculate Collection.” The songs about sex and dancing simply invite you to dance and have sex, no dysfunction necessary—more important, they make you feel like you might actually want to do one or the other, maybe both. The love songs find Madonna in a position of resolute sorrow—jilted on “She’s Not Me,” the victim of multitasking on “Miles Away”—that’s all the more convincing because of its ironic understatement. “Uncomfortable silence can be so loud,” she observes. You may even learn a few phrases in a foreign language from the moderately goofy “Spanish Lesson.”
A Catered Affair gaily splits Broadway
Friends don’t want to go. The reviews have been tepid. And Harvey’s musical has stirred a debate about the history of gay people in America:
The critics (the same ones who loved Mr Fierstein’s Fiddler) pounced on A Catered Affair for numerous reasons, especially complaining about verisimilitude. The Village Voice claimed that Mr. Fierstein “makes the uncle openly gay to a degree that Chayefsky certainly wouldn’t have contemplated”. Focusing on a scene in which Mr. Fierstein’s character drunkenly insults a society lady (played with splendid Margaret Dumont-like aplomb by Lori Wilner), Newsday called him a “jarring ... anachronism”, adding that the “character feels too flip for the era”. The New Yorker described the character as “surprisingly uninhibited for the Bronx in 1953”. New York gossip columnist Michael Musto, who delights in outing closeted celebrities, expressed doubt about whether “such a gay [would] exist in the Bronx in the ‘50s”.
That such questions are even discussed may be part of the canny Mr Fierstein’s self-appointed role as agent provocateur in the guise of entertainer, which has included incarnating Mrs Santa Claus in the starchy, all-American Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Of course, there were out gay men in 1950s America, like Harry Hay, born in Worthing, Sussex, who founded the Mattachine Society and the Radical Faeries movement. To prod so many spectators of his new play into merely discussing the topic may be Mr Fierstein’s ultimate goal and achievement.