Daily Sketch

Happy First Contact Day to all you Trekkies out there!  To celebrate the holiday, I sketched this picture of Mr. Spock.  “Live long and prosper!”

© 2017

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Daily Sketch

15 years ago today, Halle Berry and Denzel Washington both won Oscars at the 74th annual Academy Awards ceremony.

 

 

© 2017

 

The Fun Is Back in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

Yoda Shirt

Finally!  After months of all of the promotion surrounding Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, it is here.  A chance for all lovers of the Force and haters of the dark side, or vice versa depending upon where your sympathies lie, to throw themselves right back into the most celebrated galactic conflict in cinema history.  The Force Awakens begins with resistance fighter pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Lor San Tekka (Max Von Sydow) under siege on planet Jakku. The First Order, which is the name given to a ruthless military organization whose tactics are similar to the Galactic Empire’s under the villainous reign of Darth Vader, has invaded Jakku to locate a map.  But not just any map.  It is a map that will lead them to the secret dwelling place of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).  Luke vanished years ago after helping to defeat the evil Galactic Empire. The map is hidden within a droid named BB-8.  With it, the First Order can reach their ultimate goal which is to kill Luke Skywalker, the most famous Jedi that ever lived.

When First Order Commander Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) captures Poe Dameron, an order is given to kill all of the villagers.  The stormtroopers open fire on the unarmed crowd.  But one stormtrooper refuses to follow the order.  His name is Stormtrooper FN-2187 (John Boyega) or Finn for short.  BB-8 escapes the clutches of the First Order stormtroopers.  He keeps the map given to him by his master Poe Dameron stored in his memory.  Although this information is discovered by Kylo Ren during his interrogation of Poe Dameron, BB-8 successfully finds a new temporary master named Rey (Daisy Ridley) who is a poor inhabitant of Jakku.

Finn intercepts Poe Dameron after Kylo Ren learns the location of the map from him, and colludes with Poe to defect from the First Order. Together they commandeer a First Order TIE fighter ship and escape.  In flight their fighter ship is shot down and they crash back onto Jakku where Finn eventually finds Rey and BB-8.  When Kylo Ren orders his forces to go back to Jakku and retrieve BB-8, the newly formed resistance trio flees in the famed Millennium Falcon.  The Millennium Falcon’s rightful owner Han Solo (Harrison Ford) soon locates his ship with Finn, Rey and BB-8 on it.  He and his furry co-pilot Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) retake command of the Falcon.  If the resistance has any chance of fending off the First Order’s plan of galactic domination, it will take the efforts of everyone aboard the Falcon.  A little help from the Force wouldn’t hurt either.

Storm Trooper

If you go to see The Force Awakens, do yourself a favor and see it in 3D.  It is well worth the extra few dollars to see this ultra vivid world that J.J. Abrams has conceived-lush, verdant forests, arid desserts, snow capped mountainous terrains and cavernous space stations.

The hollowed base of the First Order, which is of a planetary scale, is so much more so than the Galactic Empire’s death star.  If such hollowness directly corresponds to the soul of its operators, then the galaxy is in trouble.  The Third Reich, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS combined have nothing on the First Order.  These are really bad dudes.  Really bad!  And their leader is the biggest “badest” dude ever. His name is Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and whenever he is summoned, or doing the summoning, he is a monstrously imposing figure.  In those scenes where Snoke’s hologram is consulted, the cinematography leaps off of the screen with a gorgeous shower of light in a space mostly draped in a black pall.

Everything feels familiar with this seventh episode of Star Wars.  The fun is back. The Millennium Falcon’s junky hull is back along with Han Solo and Chewy.  R2-D2 is back and still annoying the hell out of C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) with his insolent chirping.  Princess Leia, I mean, General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) is back and still giving Han hell over his detached narcissistic patronizing ways.  And Luke Skywalker is back.  Finally!  Sort of.

Star Wars

© 2015

Get on Up (A Film Review)

The Godfather of Soul gets the royal treatment in the Mick Jagger production “Get On Up.” The life of James Brown, who was also known as “the hardest working man in show business,” is grittily portrayed by Chadwick Boseman.  The nonlinear film jumps in and out of the life and times of James Brown, opening with the humorous yet tragic incident that landed him in jail. Incensed by the neighboring business’ refusal to refrain from using his dry cleaning business’ bathroom, Brown interrupts their meeting with a diatribe for the ages-riffle in hand.  We then are ushered back to Brown’s roots in rural Georgia.  We see him as an innocent child who witnesses the complex abusive and sexual relationship of his father (Lennie James) and mother (Viola Davis).

Brown’s childhood is wrought with a multidimensional sphere of experiences: Poverty, domestic abuse, abandonment, lynching, bordellos, and religious ecstasy.  It’s not long before Brown winds up in prison for the petty crime of stealing a suit, and thanks to the Jim Crow south, he spends years behind bars.  It’s in prison where he meets Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis), who takes him in once paroled, and together they form the first of many installments of future James Brown lead bands: The Famous Flames.  The rest, as they say, is history.  And were it not for the two-sided nature of the music business (the music and the business), the rest of the story would be dull.  But of course it’s not.  It’s anything but.

Playing James Brown is a daunting enough task as it is.  After all, who could possibly reproduce all of the quirks that simultaneously made you chuckle and scratch your head while listening to James Brown?  Never mind the dancing, stage presence, vocal performance, showmanship, etc.  There will never be another James Brown.  And knowing that Jamie Foxx forever set the standard for the music biopic genre with his incomparable imitation of Ray Charles (although he had the benefit of sitting at the piano with the master himself), the bar has been raised to a virtually unattainable height.  Frankly, there’s nowhere for Chadwick Boseman to go.  Despite this, although Boseman never really becomes James Brown in the way that Foxx became Ray, he does manage to emphatically tell the wildly entertaining story of one of the greatest performers to ever take the stage-and do it on the good foot!

The music of James Brown is the true driving force of the movie.  At one point during a rehearsal, Brown goes around the room of musicians and asks each band member to state what instrument they play.  He then corrects each band member and informs them that whether it’s a trumpet, a saxophone or a trombone, what they’re really playing is a drum.  The groove in the music comes from the beat.  The rhythm of those songs, layered with brass winds, is an ultra magnetic force spanning time, space, and race.  Good God!, no wonder it feels good.  And for all of the tragedy and heartbreak you’ll learn about during the course of the movie, you’ll need that musical pick-me-up to get through it.

© 2014

Jon Batiste and Stay Human

If you look up the word human in the dictionary, you’ll get a fairly nonspecific definition: of, belonging to, or typical of mankind [the human race].  My Webster’s New World Dictionary, in an attempt to further clarify the meaning of the word human, adds the following two entries: 1. consisting of or produced by men [human society]  2. having or showing qualities characteristic of people [human values].  These definitions leave much to be desired in the way of understanding what it means to be human.  Perhaps, the best way to understand what it means to be human, is to experience it.  So, in the interest of humanity, last night I went to see Jon Batiste and Stay Human perform in concert at the Rinker Playhouse in West Palm Beach, FL.

I first heard about Jon Batiste and Stay Human at Barnes & Noble’s music department, where I work part time.  A couple of months ago, we received their new album titled Social Music for our in-store play.  After weeks of listening to Social Music, I realized that Jon Batiste and Stay Human had achieved what all recording artists hope to do, when in my apartment, I began to hum some of the melodies I had been hearing on the CD.  This new jazz band’s music, which Anthony DeCurtis quoted Jon Batiste describing as “…a montage of many different music traditions,” and reflecting “that spirit of advancement, collaboration and connectivity while still remaining human” in an age of technology, had slowly infiltrated my subconscious.

Some time after that, I checked out a film titled Red Hook Summer directed by Spike Lee.  It’s a film about a young boy from Atlanta who spends a summer in New York with his preacher grandfather.  To my surprise, Jon Batiste was cast as the organist for the preacher’s church.  I then found out that Jon Batiste and Stay Human would be in concert at the Rinker.  I thought this might be an opportunity to catch a glimpse at what could become one of the legendary jazz movements, and jazz artists of the 21st century.

Imagine being able to go back in time and see Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five play Heebie Jeebies in front of a live audience for the first time.  What if you could clumsily trip into a time warp, and come out on the other side in time, to catch Thelonious Monk, debuting his trademark, trans-like dance along side his piano.  Or catch John Coltrane at the start of Avant-garde jazz, and hear him play standards free of standard conventionality.  Although Jon Batiste is no novice to the jazz world (the HBO series Treme is in part based on his New Orleans family musical legacy), he and Stay Human are currently on their first tour.  Strike up the band!Jon Batiste

The show opened with a short montage projected onto a screen above the bandstand.  Images of iconic entertainers, primarily from the African-American community, were repeatedly flashed at an intense rate, only appearing for milliseconds: Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Beyonce, Wynton Marsalis, etc.  As the collage of iconography was interwoven, Jon Batiste’s voice could be heard explaining the motivation for creating a new jazz movement.  He talked about how he wanted his music to “bring people together from all walks of life,” and because of that, he and his band chose to name their new album Social Music.  After a few moments, the screen went blank and the whole theater darkened.  The silhouettes of Jon Batiste (Piano/Vocals), Eddie Barbash (Alto Saxophone), Jamison Ross (Percussion), Ibanda Ruhumbika (Tuba/Trombone), Joe Saylor (Drums), and Barry Stephenson (Bass) floated onto the stage, like wraiths.  The screen then came alive with color (throughout the show the band’s technician displayed vibrant red, blue and green backdrops) and the spotlight beamed on Jon Batiste.

From the outset, it was evident that quite a bit of thought was put into the organization of the show.  There was a scholarly tone to the performance, led off with the lecture hall style introduction of the projection screen welcome.  Jon Batiste, as well as several other members of Stay Human are Julliard graduates.  Batiste is a lecturer as well as a musician.  Step by step, Batiste and Stay Human presented various facets of New Orleans style musical performance.  This included Batiste playing at the piano alone, and then joined by Joe Saylor on snare drum, using both brushes and feet as accompaniment.  It also included Barry Stephenson trading in his six string bass guitar for his upright bass. Stephenson then joined Batiste and Saylor in an improvised trio with a single drumstick and wine bottle.  The band then would revert to a traditional set with Saylor going back to his full drum set, only to then pick up his tambourine, and anchor the band, in a single file line into the middle of the stage.  There they played and danced jubilantly.

Jon Batiste’s musical versatility shined through as he played in vast musical styles including ragtime, blues, gospel, classical, and jazz.  His personality was equally as brilliant as he playfully toyed with, and teased the audience, using dramatic pauses between piano chords.  He transformed the Rinker Playhouse into a New Orleans style night club or music hall.  People in the audience began to actively participate in the show, shouting out “c’mon boy,” and “have fun with it!” in encouragement.  A chorus of call and response rang out during Batiste and Stay Human’s rendition of On the Sunny Side of the Street.  At one point an overly boisterous audience member finished the song lyric before Batiste could sing it, prompting an infectious laugh from Batiste, that spread throughout the theater.

It wasn’t long before Batiste abandoned his Steinway and Sons piano and picked up his melodica. The melodica is an instrument which is part trumpet, part keyboard, and part harmonica.  Batiste led the band in a cover of Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly With His Song.  He cleverly incorporated Wyclef Jean’s exclaim of “One time!…two times!” in the chorus, reminiscent of The Fugees’ version of the song on their album titled The Score.  Batiste’s superb execution of vibrato on the melodica at times caused the instrument to sound more like an accordion than harmonica.  With melodica in hand, he led the band off stage and into the audience where he sought out couples.  Batiste then began to offer serenades much like an accordionist might do on the streets of Paris.  Only this serenade included a parade, New Orleans style, made so with the generous, melodious vibrations of Ibanda Ruhumbika’s tuba.

Batiste and Stay Human stayed true to their name by adding a human touch to the show, when they came into the audience, sat down in vacant seats, shook hands with people, and invited people to sing along with them as they continued to play.  They became the accompaniment for the audience, and allowed a communal experience to take place.  When finally they stopped playing, Batiste thanked the crowd and told everyone that he loved them.  As Batiste and Stay Human exited the Rinker Playhouse, the crowd applauded and began begging for more.  Batiste and Stay Human obliged the audience, by marching back into the theater to the tune of Just a Closer Walk With Thee.  A religious, spiritual mood filled the place, and the band and audience swayed back and forth in harmony, singing, humming, moaning and crying out together.

(From left to right) Barry Stephenson , Joe Saylor, and Jon Batiste

(From left to right) Barry Stephenson , Joe Saylor, and Jon Batiste

There were other moments in the show when the human factor arose in a not so desired fashion.  Like when Eddie Barbash struggled to get through a vocal solo, proving that he was much more of an exceptional (and exceptional he was!) saxophonist than crooner.  Or when Barry Stephenson had to do a high wire act on the stage, upon a cargo net of amplifier wires, just to make his way to Joe Saylor’s drum set.  And there was also a moment when Batiste passed the microphone to Jamison Ross in an ill-timed exchange, and Ross flubbed his lyric on Sunny Side of the Street.

But the energy of Jon Batiste and Stay Human made the few human errors forgivable.  These were people performing, not computers.  The ergonomics can be worked out later.  Everyone knows Batiste is the lead vocalist, so who really cares if he lets someone else in the band sing a song.  In fact, all of the band members were called on to sing.  The little mistakes, unedited by audio and video software, for me, are what give certain musical performances character.  For example, I love hearing the squeaking of John “Jabo” Starks’ high hat pedal on some of James Brown’s recordings with the J.B.’s.  It reminds me that there was a human being behind all of those incredible drum grooves, that were later sampled over and over again, in loops, for hip-hop records (coincidentally, James Brown’s music played in the theater’s audio sound system between sets).  And when it comes down to it, that’s what it’s all about-being human.  We’re all human, right?

After the show, Jon Batiste and Stay Human met the audience outside of the theater.  They sat at a table and signed autographs for people who bought their CD.  They took pictures with fans.  They were very down to earth and approachable for anyone who wanted to meet them.  I walked out, looking at the smiles on the faces of people who seemed genuinely touched by what they had just seen, heard and felt.  I then felt an appreciation for what Anthony DeCurtis quoted Jon Batiste as saying in the playbill: “And Stay Human, then, is a reminder of what connects us all.  It’s our mantra.  With so many ways to communicate at our disposal, we must not forget the transformative power of a live music experience and genuine human exchange.”  I guess being human isn’t such a bad thing after all.

(From left to right) Barry Stephenson, Eddie Barbash, Jon Batiste, Joe Saylor, and Ibanda Ruhumbika

(From left to right) Barry Stephenson, Eddie Barbash, Jon Batiste, Joe Saylor, and Ibanda Ruhumbika

© 2014

I Love Lucy (Who Doesn’t?)

Today is “I Love Lucy” Day. On October 15, 1951, I Love Lucy made its television debut. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of I Love Lucy, I decided to share this article again!

The Tempo

Lucille Ball (colored pencil)

Every morning when I wake up (usually between 6:30-7:00 am) it’s 1951, telephones have rotary dials not apps, televisions are black and white not HD, people are reading the newspaper not their lap tops, and husbands and wives are sleeping in separate beds with matching pajamas and are happily wed.  If you haven’t guessed why yet, I’ll tell you now; it’s because I’m watching I Love Lucy.  A tougher question to answer is how come?  How come I watch this show each and every morning while eating breakfast, ironing my clothes and getting ready to head out the door for work?  I live in the 21st century and wasn’t even born when the show was originally on the air.  In fact, my parents were kids when I Love Lucy took America by storm and became a television phenomenon.  I think the answer lies in the personalities behind the characters…

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Oz the Great and Powerful

The Wicked Witch of the West (Oil Pastels)

Quadlings, tinkers, and a china doll join the familiar cast of Munchkins, flying monkeys, and witches to conjure a tale of a conniving carnie named Oscar Diggs’ rise to power in Oz the Great and Powerful.  This prequel, of sorts, to the 1939 film titled The Wizard of Oz is based on works by L. Frank Baum who wrote the original book titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which was published in 1900.

Oscar “Oz” Diggs (played by James Franco) begins his journey in Kansas as an unsuccessful carnival magician who pulls upon more strings attached to women’s hearts than upon rabbit ears from out of hats.  Oz yearns for greatness instead of the mediocrity he sees within his own existence.  He despises his assistants and highlights their faults by angrily shouting insults at them.  The sullen tears of a disabled girl (Joey King) who believes his powers will make it possible for her to walk again have no effect on him.  Even the news from Annie (Michelle Williams), his beloved girlfriend from years passed, that she has received a marriage proposal from another suitor, does not persuade him to choose the promise of fulfillment that stands in front of him, that of a family life, over his dubious prospect for prominence.  Enter the gale!

I will stop short of sounding a spoiler alert for all you stragglers out there who have not yet seen the movie.  Giving away the details of a story’s denouement is wholly unforgivable.  I’m still pissed off at the guy in front of me in line for Attack of the Clones who, talking to his buddy, loudly informed him and anyone else within an earshot that “Anakin gets his arm cut off in this one.”  Thanks Jerk!  But what I will say is that the extra few dollars to see the majestic Land of Oz in 3D is well worth it.  The classic corridor themed opening credits are equally phenomenal, as is the water-spewing river fairy which made me blink, the storm of raining spears which made me flinch, and the billowy entrance of the Wicked Witch of the West which made my inner child cower.

The Wizard of Oz has always been a character that I’ve struggled to view as favorable.  He is after all, a “humbug,” as the Scarecrow played by Ray Bolger in The Wizard of Oz put it.  The genius of Oz the Great and Powerful lies in its ability to convince us to trade the trickery for the ingenuity, and to overlook the dastardly for the stealthy.  With wicked witches in pursuit and the precious china in pieces, haggling over the would-be wizard’s virtuousness may not be the wisest course to take, depending on the seriousness of the character flaw in question and provided that he can indeed rid the land of the greater evil.  And of course, for all of his slyness, we do need the Wizard to rid the land of the greater evil.

But for all the genius Oz the Great and Powerful exudes, one thing it cannot do is replicate Judy Garland (Dorothy), Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow), Jack Haley (The Tin Man), Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion) and Terry (Toto) on the yellow brick road.  Though I’m told a sequel is in the works that may reprise The Wizard of Oz characters we all have grown to love over the years, nothing will ever compare to their songs.  The innocence of Judy Garland’s voice in Over the Rainbow, Ray Bolger’s whimsical If I Only Had a Brain, the tenderness of Jack Haley’s If I Only Had a Heart, and the hysteria of Bert Lahr’s If I Only Had the Nerve and If I Were King of the Forest are what I would have asked the Wizard for if I was a Hollywood director in Emerald City.

© 2013

Searching For Sugar Man: The Music of Rodriguez

Rodriguez (Graphite pencil, color pencil and oil pastel)

The story of Rodriguez, the folk musician from Detroit, Michigan, whose music in America laid dormant for 4 decades, continues to amaze me.  If you’re a music fan like me, you already know the story of how his albums released in the 1970’s sold poorly and he subsequently vanished into the unassuming life of a construction worker in the “Motor City.”  He earned a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, and while he was going about his life after music, unbeknownst to him, thousands of miles away in South Africa, his music was being celebrated.

His fans in South Africa reportedly sang his songs with the same fervor as any Elvis or Beatles enthusiast.  A persistent rumor circulated amongst his fans that Rodriguez had committed suicide.  But after a while his fans managed to track him down and disprove the rumor, and what happened next would seem like pure folklore if it wasn’t true.  The obscure American folk musician whose music was largely ignored in his own country became a living legend and his career was resurrected.

The documentary Searching For Sugar Man released in 2012 chronicles this modern day legend.  The movie was shown in select theaters around the country and I did not get a chance to see it.  However, I have plans to watch it on DVD very soon.  In the mean time, I’ve read several articles about it and caught the 60 Minutes broadcast in which Rodriguez was featured.  I also caught Rodriguez’s performance on the Later…With Jools Holland program.

Every time I watch video of Rodriguez walking around his inner-city Detroit neighborhood, I can’t help but envision him as some sort of musical superhero, merely wearing the disguise of an everyday Joe.  If Rodriguez walked by you, you wouldn’t think he was capable of superhuman feats, sort of like if Clark Kent or Bruce Banner happened to stroll by you on the sidewalk.  But instead of being able to fly or lift automobiles over his head with his bare hands, Rodriguez does the impossible with an acoustic guitar; he inspires the poor who are victims of economic injustice and gives a voice to the voiceless in the presence of deafening tyranny.

I purchased a copy of the soundtrack to the Searching For Sugar Man documentary, and I love how on the back of the CD it says: “Rodriguez receives royalties from the sale of this release.”  It feels good to see an artist of Rodriguez’s stature finally get his just due.

The CD includes 14 of Rodriguez’s songs, heavy anti oppression anthems rich with imagery and metaphors.  In the song titled Cause, Rodriguez sings,

Cause I lost my job two weeks before Christmas

And I talked to Jesus at the sewer

And the Pope said it was none of his God-damned business

While the rain drank champagne…

Rodriguez’s songs like this, the ones that call in to question everything I learned about religion, cause me to think about the world today.  It makes me think about Pope Benedict XVI retiring and the news about fresh scandals in the church.  It makes me think about unemployment and the millions of people who live in poverty in America – the wealthiest nation on earth.   It makes me wonder how these songs could have been written 4 decades ago and yet sound like they were inspired by today’s newspaper headlines.

It is thrilling to be a part of a generation in America that is just now getting acquainted with the music of Rodriguez.  A story like this doesn’t come along all that often.  We’re a little bit late on this as Americans, but as the old saying goes, better late than never.

Have you seen Searching For Sugar Man or listened to the soundtrack?  If so what did you think?

© 2013

Banning Internet Porn in Iceland

ava-devine

The buzz this week on the internet regarding the nation of Iceland proposing to ban online pornography caught my attention.  Apparently, pornography is already illegal in Iceland.  Nevertheless, there are members of the Iceland government who feel that by banning internet porn they would be taking a huge step toward protecting children who may be exposed to harmful images via their browser.  The proposal has started a debate over free speech, censorship, and promoting societal wellness.

I first experienced pornography by accident as kid.  I must have been around ten years old when one day in the basement of my suburban, middle class home, while digging around with a remote control in the vast sinkhole of cable television,  I struck erotic oil; scrambled porn was being broadcast on channel 99.  Through the wavy discolored images jumbled up in a ubiquitous stream of signals, I could make out distinct body parts for seconds on hand; a woman’s bouncing breast, a man’s pulsating penis, gazing eyes, grasping hands, gasping mouths and dangling extremities.  The orgasmic groaning, sometimes with or without musical accompaniment, helped to compensate for the distorted images on my television screen.  Regardless of the fact that I could not see what was going on clearly made no difference to me.  The simple fact was, from that day forward, I was officially hooked on pornography.

I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a child today and have the universe at your beckoning call with the simple tap of a finger.  As addictive as scrambled porn was to me as a ten year old, how can something as outdated as a blocked Playboy channel compare to a Google search for porn.  Such a search will return images and video of alluring women, commanding men, and bedroom rendezvous loaded with ecstasy. But they also may return sexually violent content that can ultimately shock, harm or endanger children incapable of properly processing such type of exhibition for years to come.  And to think that parents can successfully safeguard their children from this type of danger with the type of technology at our disposal in the 21st century is nothing short of naive.

What to do?  Although I am a proponent for free speech and do not like the idea of censorship, I wouldn’t mind seeing a ban on internet porn that is not provided by an authorized source.  In other words, make everyone pay for the porn they watch online.  By purchasing porn from authorized sources, you minimize the risk of acquiring viruses when you download it, as well as see the risk of inadvertently viewing content that is illegal, i.e. child pornography, diminish.  If you regulate internet porn, you make progress in shutting down providers of illegal content who hide in the shadows of unregulated internet space, and also help to prevent the victimization of people who are forced to work in the sex industry against their will, whether they be immigrants or below the legal age limit.  This is also why I believe prostitution should be legalized.  Sex workers and businesses exist, so why pretend that they do not when you can regulate it, tax it, and prevent the inhumane abuses that go on everyday in the world when a pimp takes advantage of a woman or a child.

The simple fact is that sex has been around forever and it isn’t going away anytime soon.  Neither porn, on or offline, nor prostitution, on or offline, are going out of business.  I firmly believe that a society that embraces sex rather than shuns it is paced for ensuring its citizens live sexually healthy lives as opposed to degenerating into an existence of denial where abnormal sexual traits manifest in the most unlikely and unwanted places, like churches and schools.  I’m sure there are many people who place pornography in a deviant status with regard to its role in society.  I used to be one of them, due mainly to my strict religious upbringing.  But no matter how many times I “prayed the porn away,” I always found myself enjoying it.

Frankly, I don’t find pornography offensive or obscene.  I made the choice to start purchasing porn in addition to viewing it online, sparingly however, for the reasons I listed above (not to mention viewing internet porn can be as time consuming as a full time job, with less benefits and a sharp cut in pay).  Buying my porn outright helps me to enjoy it in moderation, like everything should be enjoyed.  I don’t pay by the hour, I pay by the unit.  And why not pay for it.  I watch it and get satisfaction from it, like the music I buy and the movies I pay a ticket to go see.  Are porn-stars and adult film studios somehow less worthy of having their careers and businesses spared the ever-present threat of bootlegging?

What do you think?

lisa-ann

© 2013

A Very Drag Queen Christmas at Rooster’s

Rooster's

The holiday spirit was in abundance at a drag queen show I attended Saturday night at a bar called Rooster’s in West Palm Beach. Upon entering the bar, I was inundated by multicolored flashing lights, dazzling ornaments, and cotton snow dangling from the top liquor shelf. I greeted the party that had arrived earlier (I was late coming from work) and had a Stella Artois placed in my hand. The sounds of PSY’s Gangnam Style entranced the bubbling crowd and induced them to dance while an air of jolliness permeated throughout. Although I was there to see my first ever drag queen show live and in person scheduled to begin at 11:30pm, the queens arrived fashionably late. But no matter, the show was worth the wait.

The MC for the night was Melissa St. John who was also the featured performer. She changed wardrobe at least 3 times, looking drag-fabulous as she worked the crowd over with jokes, opportunities for audience participation, and lip sync. Melissa’s song of choice was Whitney Houston’s One Moment in Time and as the lyrics rang out, patrons approached the stage with tips and hand shakes as gestures of approval.

Melissa St. John

Next up was Daisy, dressed like a sexy Mrs. Claus. Daisy came across as a seasoned pro; a veteran stage performer, who picked the perfect moments to vogue for the cameras while mimicking the singers’ audio tracks. Daisy even changed out of her Mrs. Claus attire and into a Christmas oriented clown costume to perform Shirley Q. Liquor’s 12 Days of Kwanzaa.

Daisy

The final performer of the evening was Eddy who strutted out to Shania Twain’s Man! I Feel Like a Woman! Eddy’s routine was graceful. She moved from side to side on the stage, underneath a rainbow disco ball and next to a rainbow Christmas tree, seeming to enjoy every moment of the audience’s attention, which erupted in applause when she was done.

Eddy

When the show was over, I felt happy to have witnessed it all. Around the bar were symbols of holidays from various religious and cultural traditions: A Hanukkah menorah, Christmas trees, and a life-sized Santa Claus. I felt no sense of animosity, hatred, violence or intolerance. I guess after watching 2 straight days of news coverage in Newtown, Connecticut, of the gruesome mass shooting that occurred on Friday, it was healing to be in the presence of loving people, who’s only intended target was to celebrate life.

Leslie and KC

© 2012