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View Article  Bitch is Back!

Last week, I posted a little banner to help generate some donations for Bitch magazine -- my favorite (and among Ledcat's top 5).  While the little weiner dog indicator doesn't seem to work, the good news is that they met their fundraising goal in 3 days!  The flip side is that independent voices in the print media are going to continue struggling without our help.  I took down the dog-mometer b/c it isn't accurate, but please consider Bitch when making your donation decisions. 

We're thrilled to announce that in just three short days, you've rallied together and propelled us beyond our $40,000 fundraising goal. In fact, by the time we looked up from our computers, you'd already donated $46,000! On top of that, you've spread the word far and wide, and offered powerful and inspiring words of support.

This tremendous and swift outpouring has been honoring and humbling?particularly because you've offered it during the worst days the U.S. economy has seen this year. Thank you. We're deeply grateful.


View Article  If I ran the City Paper and other stuff ...

Here are some articles I would like to read in the City Paper.  In no particular order.

1.  Who are the Flower People?  You know them.  They walk up and down the lanes of traffic at busy intersections, hawking flowers.  There is one older gentleman along Penn Avenue.  I want to buy flowers b/c I feel sad that someone has to do something so risky to earn a living.  But I never have cash and usually get the light.  So I drive off wondering who he is and how he came to sell flowers.  There used to be a woman at the intersection of Penn and Fifth Avenue, but she disappeared one day.  What happened to her?  The guy selling flowers at the insection of Allegheny River Blvd and Washington Boulevard wore the same outfit every single day and seemed fearless in traffic.  What is his story? 

2.  Profile of the Apple Guy at the Farmer's Market (Northside).  The gentleman with the white mustache who offers everyone a free slice.  His fruit is delishus and his cider - so tangy. His lines grow longer and longer. One of my coworkers wonders if he's married. What is the secret to his appeal?  Where is his orchard?  Does he have any recipes to share? 

3.  Can anyone save Century III Mall?  Is it destined to become the next Eastland? 

Is there anything you'd like to see the City Paper explore?  Send me your ideas.  Or send them to Chris Potter. He doesn't get nearly enough email. 

I'm going to go wait for Gab Bonesso to post her review of her show and watch Young & the Restless.  Then I might get my first ever pedicure.  Maybe.  These are my planned activities during vacation instead of spying on dumpers in the field behind my house and moving stuff around the attic in a futile attempt to convince Ledcat I've been productive. 

View Article  Deliberative poll on same-sex marriage

The Post-Gazette's "Next Page" featured a fascinating article on the implementation of deliberative polling around marriage issues. 

My interpretation of this process is that it strives to create an informed voter, rather than create systemic changing dialogue grounded in consensus. 

At the core of deliberative polling lies the belief that to develop an informed opinion citizens need two things: access to balanced information and the opportunity to engage in deliberation with a range of alternative views.

Sounds interesting.  Proponents of gay-rights have long argued that when our opponents get to know us, they will experience our issues in a personal way that should overcome the us/them dichotomy. 

Saturday's event is sort of an all-day education session.  Participants have homework, they engage in small groups and they learn the facts about the history of marriage in our culture.  I'm going to read that booklet myself.  At the end of the day, participants will be polled for their individual views, not a collective decision.  That polling data will be made public. 

The poll is designed to have a policy impact, presumably by turning out informed voters (and informing their networks).  I wonder about the choice of this issue.  Neither Presidential candidate is in favor of gay marriage and the issue is fairly dormant in Pennsylvania.  Equal protection would seem more fitting since it has legislative life.  However, those pesky State House elections remind us of the importance of retaining as many progressive reps as possible.  As progressive as Pennsylvania goes. 

This strikes me more as an intellectual exercise on a hot button issue, but not necessarily a Pennsylvania issue. 

View Article  On pundits and politics

Last night, Ledcat and I stayed up very late to go see John McIntire's show at a new season of Late Night Cabaret at Theater Square.  It was a fun evening with lots of snark and wonderful off the cuff comments.  And in the great Pittsburgh tradition, the panel on sexism and racism included three straight white guys (with the host) and one straight black guy.  No women.  No women (including me to be fair) even asked a question. One woman did some heckling from the audience.  I think we know how that discussion came down. 

Actually, the conversation was thoughtful and the lone Republican was a very good sport (and very, very smart).  I could listen to Chris Potter and Tony Norman agree with each other all evening.  It would be great if they added a woman for the November performance.  I nominate Maria from 2 PJs. 

The most magnificent moment from the entire evening was Gab Bonesso's performance.  I love her to pieces and think she's hysterical and edgy and brilliant.  Last night, she transcended her comfort zone and demonstrated the potential to do amazing political comedy.  She gave a layered performance that drew on her underground comedy themes with a deft political twist.  I'm not all suggesting she should abandon her stoner fanbase (relax, shlubs), but she clearly has the talent to walk through the abortion-joke gasp to find that one single a ha moment of humor and observation.  I cannot aptly descibe that type of comedy, but I did read about it in Rolling Stone.  I wanted to stand up and cheer, because she did not "tone down" her stuff last night ... she went in a different provacative direction. That's the talent of a woman who has stuff to say.

John did a good job with her first venture into cabaret and, hopefully, we'll see more of this.  I like smart comedy. 

View Article  Power and 'Piscopals

Today's Post-Gazette includes a reflection from a member of Calvary Episcopal Church on the impending vote of the local diocese to leave the US branch and join a more conservative branch.  It is very flourishy, too much so for a beautiful late summer Sunday in the sense that I prefer to go for a drive to look at covered bridges and enjoy my time with Ledcat rather than rail further against yet another example of religious intolerance and bigotry.

I will say that the essay rightfully questions the motivation of Bishop Duncan and his ilk.  Is the homosexual/female ordination question really the cause of such a drastic rip in the very fabric of the worldwide church?  Or is an excuse for a power grab?

If that latter, it does not absolve Duncan and his merry minions of their responsibility for sowing intolerance and hatred into the hearts (and actions) of the faithful.  If they indeed are not true believers, perhaps their culpability for hateful actions infused with theocratic righteousness is even weightier.  That's not my call to make. 

I do urge you to read the reflection.  Then go outside and enjoy the only real evidence that God has walked among us this holiest of weekdays -- the loveliness of a September afternoon.

View Article  Episcopals and Closeted Gays

Two articles in today's Post-Gazette caught my attention.

First, the ongoing drama  of the Pittsburgh Episcopals.  First, the local diocese decides to vote themselves off the American Episcopal Church island over the ordination of woman and gays.  A few Pittsburgh churches stay on the island.  Then the island itself (American Church - stay with me) debishops the Pittsburgh Bishop, Robert Duncan.  Then some worldwide dioceses headed by a truly heinous man, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, deemed Duncan a "martyr" and welcomed him and his merry flock of bigots to their island. 

All that's left is more finger pointing and the sorting out of the diocesan possessions.  What a nasty, ugly divorce this has been and too bad for the kids. 

One does not, however, have to look too far for the fallout of this type of theocratic driven intolerance and hatred.  Just flip to this story in the Post-Gazette of a 75 year old man who was murdered by an 18 year old young man.  Guess what brought them together? 

We have evidence the defendant offered to have sex with Mr. Jones, left the room and when he returned, he either beat Mr. Jones or stabbed Mr. Jones," Mr. Peck said. "And as a result of the stab wounds, according to Dr. [Cyril] Wecht who performed the autopsy ... Mr. Jones died."

Detectives said Mr. Mowry beat Mr. Jones with chimes from a grandfather clock, a candlestick and his fists. He then stabbed Mr. Jones and cut his throat. After that, Mr. Mowry said, he "stuck around" for a while drinking, then took $400 in cash from Mr. Jones' apartment and the keys to his gray 1990 Cadillac.

"He then set the house on fire in a number of different places," Mr. Peck said, and left in Mr. Jones' car.

Now here's the thing.  Mr. Jones was a 75 year respected businessman from a prominent family.  Why is he trolling for sex with an 18 year old?  How on earth does a 75 year old get to the point that he picks up a practical child to have sex?  There are tons of ways he could be having sex in a healthy, constructive manner even with 18 year men-children.  On the flip side, what's going on with Mr. Mowry's self-loathing?  Beating an old man to death with a candlestick to steal $400?  After using himself as bait?  What?

It is a lurid, horrific tale that I'm sure the Episco-bigots could spin three ways to Tuesday to describe why gay people are immoral.  I choose to look at this tragedy as a consequence of a society and societal institutions -- LIKE CHURCHES -- that promote this distorted perspective on homosexuals and promulgate the self-loathing that was coursing through the veins of these two men. 

While Bishop Duncan and the members of his former diocese are not directly to blame for the obviation of these two men, there is certainly some culpability in the fact of their outright rejection of Bishop Gene Robinson's homosexual identity.  It sends a message to the entire community that you think we are second class citizens, folks. And you bear some moral responsibility for that message.  Because it is your example that parents invoke when they boot their 17 year old gay son out on the street.  It is your example in the minds of young men who beat up two men for looking queer.  Your example that underscores the hisses of "dyke" when women who don't conform to gender normative behavior walk across the parking lot of the Waterfront. 

You all may be good church going, God-fearing people who would never lay a hand on another individual or deny a child a place to lay his head at night.  But the tremendous amount of energy you have put into this message of hatred and intolerance has forever scarred American faith communities.  You can run away to Nigeria and seek refuge with other defenders of a faith that condemns human beings for simply being gay.  Your self-righteous hate may protect you from remorse or regret.   

But who is protecting the next William Jones?  Or the next Anthony Mowry?

View Article  Pittsburgh Pundits - Sexism, Ageism, Racism, Politics & Comedy

Knowing this group, homophobia will be part of the conversation.  Right, John?

Pittsburgh Pundits presents...Sexism, Ageism, Racism, Politics & Comedy! Pittsburgh Comedian and TV/Radio Political Pundit John McIntire leads a Pittsburgh cast of political and socially conscious comics and pundits in a combination comedy/political analysis show. Some would suggest there's a thin line between what's happening politically in the country these days and straight-up comedy. This show will perhaps prove that. We'll be examining the roles the "isms" played in this year's race so far, and which, if any, has been the dominant "ism." It will be interactive, which means we'll be taking questions. Among the pundits joining John for an at least semi-serious analysis of this year's crazy Presidential race and local political hot potatoes...Chris Potter of The City Paper and Tony Norman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Among the comics joining John for the comedy portion fo the program Disgruntled Hillary Supporter Gab Bonesso. She was completely gruntled until Hillary lost. Additional comics and pundits will appear.

Presented by: The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Venue: Late Night ? Cabaret Theater
Next performance: Saturday, September 20, 2008 10:30 PM
Tickets: $5.00 at the door / Free for District Patrons (see details)

$5.00 to see Tony Norman?  I'd pay twice that! 

View Article  Voter Registration: October 6 is the deadline

Have you registered anyone to vote in this election?  A friend, a comrade, a work buddy, your godmother, the neighbor, the dog walker, the fence sitter, the guy on the corner, etc? 

Here's the link to the PA Voter Information page.   http://www.votespa.com/   All you need to know. 

Now, if you are looking for some guidance as to who deserves you vote, check out the Steel City Stonewall endorsements and recommendations .... http://www.steel-city.org/

View Article  Pittsburgh Lesbian & Gay Film Society prepares for festival

I love that we have this cool film festival every year and always feel bad for missing most of the films.  I think we managed to get to two last year.  We did not like the after-party at the Cheesecake Factory so I think we'll skip that this year.  It must be very hard to find the right mix of films, location and events to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse LGBT community.  I spoke with some committee members last year who said how hard it is to find quality lesbian movies. 

Right now, the film society is seeking volunteers.  You can help make it another huge success. 

The 23rd Annual Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (Oct. 17-26th) is rapidly approaching and we need your help to make it a success!
As an all-volunteer organization, the Pittsburgh Lesbian and Gay Film Society relies on the support and hard work of its volunteer members. Please consider volunteering in one (or more!) of the following ways:
(1) helping to distribute posters/flyers around town in LGBT-friendly venues;
(2) usher/ticket ripper at one of the 26 films being shown at the festival (volunteers get in for free at any movie at which they help in these roles); and
(3) helping to serve food/drinks at our Opening Night party and VIP party.
Interested? Please attend our Film Festival Volunteer Meeting on Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 6:30 p.m. at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center on Forward Avenue in Squirrel Hill. At the meeting, we will explain the logistics of helping at the festival and also work on getting out our festival mailing. We hope you can attend!
If you have any questions or if you would like to volunteer at the Film Festival but are unable to attend the meeting, please contact our volunteer coordinator, Tara Pfeifer, at volunteers@plgfs.org.

I'll publish the schedule when it becomes available.  This is a great way to get involved. 

View Article  i hate bronchitis, but 311 is sorta okay

thank goodness my doctor told me to go home and stay in bed AFTER the electricity came back on.  we may only get four channels, but if i had to lay here in the dark without being able to see what Jack, Carly, Holden and Lily are doing ...

i hate bronchitis. i hate the sticky feeling inside your chest that brings to mind those hideous mucinex commercials.  i hate those deep rumbly coughs that catch you off guard.  i hate not being able to converse for more than 5 minutes without choking.  but i hate pneumonia and being in the hospital worse, so i'll deal with it.  thank god for steroids.

Rich Lord wrote about 311 in today's Post-Gazette.  my own experience with 311 has been mixed.  the service is pretty so-so.  you call and this booming male voice brands the service as Luke Raventstahl territory before you know anything else.  then you enter a land of waiting and incredibly awful music that is distorted and far too loud.  a pleasant female voice tells you 1 caller is ahead of you, more bad music and then somehow 3 callers are ahead of you.  if and when you finally get through, the workers are very, very grumpy.  i'm sure their jobs really suck.  they've been assuring me for months that someone was working on the loud music/caller line jumping issue.  ha.  most of the time, they don't even ask for my name or offer me a service ticket number. it is just on to the next disgruntled yinzer. poor blokes.

so the service needs some plucking.  the follow through has been so-so.  much better during election years and until Kevin Quigley figured out that i wasn't a Ravenstahl fan and didn't return any of my email messages about his fishing derby.  the tree in front of my house was cut down, eventually, after i emailed pictures of the dangling limbs to every email address i could find.  being sent a card telling me you can't do the work i requested is almost as annoyin as the card telling me you did the work.  stop spending money on cards and hire more workers. 

i think the system has some merits, but the fact that people get bumped ahead of me in line on the telephone end is just weirdly symbolic about the actual work getting done.  sometimes you have 1 campaign contributor ahead of you and sometimes there's 3.  you never know.

my favorite moment in all of my 311 dealings.  well, there are two.  one is when the lady told me that BBI doesn't fine dumpers so don't bother reporting it.  ha.  the second is when the BBI dude was shaking hands with the twice-convicted gun and drug thug instead of citing his mother for having a crappy ass drainpipe that is damaging at least three other roofs.  if i only had a camera phone that day. 

ah.  i am never satisfied.  or maybe i still have a fever.  i can't find any soup.  there is no soup for dinner on the northside.  well, except soup i don't like. 

i know there is gay stuff happening in the world.  being sick has drastically shrunk mine.  losing a good friend who was so young.  well, that shinks it some more. 


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