Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Body and Soul



Although many New Yorkers grudgingly swear that more than half the
city’s residents are part of some loosely organized mass exodus to
a beach house on summer holiday weekends, those are actually the
weekends that the “left behind” can find the most memorable of New
York treats.

In fact, the non-jet ski set can sometimes find a dose of urban
spiritual nourishment that benefits the soul for months to come.

Not a religious experience, per se, but instead, a gathering of like
minded spirits, all very much alive, enjoying the fellowship of each
other, coming together for one reason, the music, at least that’s
what happened this past July 4th weekend.

The Body and Soul reunion party shook a collective booty to its core
at the PS-1 space in Queens, bringing together a cocktail of
cultures, families and sexual orientations that surely reminded
more than one participant that New York truly is a magnificent
mosaic as former Mayor David Dinkins once proclaimed.

Although Sunday afternoons at the Tribeca club Vinyl (later named
ARC) was the spot to meet the music on a weekly basis for many
years, the weekly Body and Soul party disbanded after facing
difficulty with the club space and other issues among the Djs and
organizers. But for one holiday weekend afternoon, Saturday from 3
til 9 was the time for church, as many of the party faithful liked
to call the Body and Soul experience, back in the day.

Djs Danny Krivit, Francois K and Joe Claussell did not disappoint a
crowd of thousands who had paid a ten dollar admission fee, and
another $6 each for ice cold draft beers that flowed far too easily
under a hot Queens sun in the concrete fortress of music at PS-1. The temperature kept getting hotter as a troubled nation moved another day closer to the 30 year anniversary of its highly celebrated bicentennial, a year that at least a third
of this party’s crowd, might actually remember.

A crowd wide chronic music infection was evidenced by smiles on faces
of every color of the human rainbow, every size on the scale, every
age from 3 to 65, all making moves to the beat of a different drum.
No judgment passed on who was cool and who was not, just pure
un-adulterated fun, joy, release and soul.

Occasionally, after a longer re-mix, or extended session people
would erupt into cheers and hollering this or that or whatever, it didn't matter as long as it felt good, real and true.

All the while, pulsing bodies poured in and out of the building at PS-1, moving among dancers on crowded steps that were crowned at the top with the DJ’s canopied booth. The sun gave everyone a glistening tone, some more than others, as sweat
flowed like a fountain, but, at this party, sweat was a badge of
success, a sign that you’d truly felt the light.

Speakers surrounded the main courtyard of the former school and
sound boomed against the old red brick walls rising up like a volcanic
eruption, only the lava was the sound, carried even further by
speakers in the back of the complex where others danced and played
in wading pools with their kids.

In its later years, Body and Soul saw pilgrimages by the curious
who’d heard about this place where the emphasis was on the music,
not the “scene.” Even European tourists began to make Body and
Soul part of the New York itinerary. According to those who’d
been, Sunday nights at Vinyl (ARC) were where one could still find
the real spirit of New York.

Certainly, like every nightclub party, there was rivalry,
differences, and any other number of shady events or normal human
interaction issues, but unlike most other dance club experiences,
Body and Soul was true to its name.

Martha Graham once said “I am absorbed in the magic of movement and
light. Movement never lies”.

Body and Soul did not lie to the participants left in the city this
past July 4th weekend. That day in Queens let everyone at PS-1 know
that movement is alive and well in New York City and New York is
still filled with magic.

Are you as open minded as you think out loud NYC???

;">A bashing in New York City and Politics make strange bed fellas
by Cody Lyon

This past Friday night, in New York's east village, the performer Kevin Aviance was assaulted by a group of men who taunted him with numerous anti-gay epithets. Aviance's face was beaten so severely, that he has to have his jaw wired shut for healing. Kevin's beating has resulted in outcry among the gay community, but also local public officials, including the Mayor, who called it unacceptable.

A brutal violation of dignity, not only adds another statistic to the hate crimes roster of NYC, but another grim reminder that quietly simmering homophobia, is still spewing fumes in homes and halls of power across America. Often, it appears that the gay community itself forgets, falsely assured by comfort zones like the Castro's, Christopher Streets, 8th Avenues or high profile television shows and celebrities. But then, along comes an incident right in your liberal bastion’s front yard.

New Yorkers are busy living individual lives, forgetting that like it or not, as a community we are involved, directly and indirectly, in a tug of war that is a battle for the full civil and individual rights of our very own self identity and being.

Over the past few months, there have been other allegedly hate based physically violent assaults involving friends or acquaintances that hit close to home for myself. It's been a blood boiling experience to hear about each of them. Face it, any attack that is motivated by the attacker’s perception that his victim is gay, is an attack on every individual gay person, regardless of how big one’s "gay" badge is. Hate crime perps may perceive a less masculine looking victim as weak and a prime target for violence, but, the hate, anger and insecurity motivating the behavior is directed towards all members of that group.

(IN spite of all the gains, you still gotta respect the kids with the big badges, cause they put themselves out on the frontline.)

Most people, regardless of sexual orientation, have the same angry reaction when they hear about violence, and even more outrage when it’s motivated by hate. But among most gay people, there is also a cruel flash of awful self-doubt, the sense that somehow full acceptance by society is generations away. Currently, a symptom of the disconnect from full equal acceptance is spelled out, in sometimes very shrill language in daily newspapers and talk radio or tv programs around the country.

Of course it would be wrong to politicize the actions of five young men who beat someone to a pulp, peppering their viciousness with anti-gay language. A deplorable crime can’t be simply written off as a reaction to high profile issues like gay marriage or gays in the military etc. Nor can we neglect to consider the sad upbringing that leads to an individual capable of such madness. Instead, an attack like Kevin’s could be seen as a violent example of homophobia's most virulent tip. And unfortunately, it is homophobia that happens to be the most basic fundamental component that is now located at the very base of those who loudly express opposition to gay marriage. Although, a number of people would say the argument is over the definition of marriage, not the gays, the fact is, much of the opposition to gay marriage, the very language itself, can serve as a barometer of the acceptance of gay people in America. (well at least portions of it!)

When a Senator from Oklahoma can stand on the floor of the senate proudly proclaiming that none of his 30 children or grandchildren have ever been involved in homosexual affairs a clear example raises its ugly head.....Senator "Okie" puts on a show, contributes to the sharp divide over gay marriage for CSPAN listeners across the land, goes home a hero to many of his "right" leaning consituents. His name is Senator Inhofe and just last week, he stood in front of a rather large picture of his brood, and lambasted gay marriage, by claiming his family was "gay free". The Senator provided another solid piece of evidence that the state of gay acceptance in America is a long ways off, because if he can get away with that kind of talk...wrong, sorry....if he can win votes with that kinda talk, that's a bad sign.

Politicians serve as spokespersons for their constituents, which leads to an even more compelling fact of the matter... Violent attacks on gays motivated by hate, are rooted in a society that still accepts or at least tolerates homophobia. Enter exhibit B which is provided by a desperate President and his political party. Republican leaders are smart, and love going for the shrillest denominator (fear, manipulation, sin, flags, tittle tattle). That’s why, when times get tough in the polls, it might be politically strategic to use a hot off the press issue like gay marriage as a tool of engagement and jockeying for votes. The pool of proof is available for inspection in the passage of anti-gay marriage amendments in 19 states from coast to coast. And, as we’ve witnessed during this debate, a true test of any politician’s real resolve and commitment to fairness shows up in the political arena, forcing many of the nation’s more supposed “enlightened” liberal political leaders into an uncomfortable corner, when the motto "What would Jesus do" turns into "How would Jesus win" often resulting in courts taking the heat, changing the world for the better and making life a little more just. (just google Judge Frank Johnson sometime)

(All of that is a little grain of dust when compared to the legacy of anti gay sentiment of this ol world of ours...but truth be told, eventually political grandstanding trickles down through the complicated and messed up economic inequity and ignorance floating through streets,valleys into homes finally ending up minds and hearts or filters or perhaps even fanning flames of intollerance....or worse defining acceptable objects (people) for discrimintation, ridicule and abuse.)

Most perpetrators of violent hate crimes are not as politically engaged as a Senator. But several Senators and the President are politically wise enough to know that many Americans are not “fully” accepting of homosexuality, and sometimes, politicians choose to be real cheap and capitalize on the intolerance, fear and religion.

Considering the truth, that the hate of someone who is perceived as "different" begins at home and is then subtly cultivated by a culture’s long held disapproval or non-acceptance, we can make a safe assumption that politicized social issues and violence do function in a cooperative manner. Politics often reflects deeper lying truths, and politicians have been known to rubber stamp violence, usually through antagonistic divisive policy.

Gay marriage probably didn’t have a direct role in the Friday night beating of an innocent, productive and talented soul on a busy east village street. But, at the root of the passionate defense of heterosexual couples only marriage in America, there is a volume of evidence that speaks to the subtle homophobia that still quietly cooks its poisons in homes across America.

President Bush and George Wallace...welllll a number of Politicos

President Bush, perhaps a very distant political cousin to George Wallace
by Cody L

President Bush demonstrated his moral integrity again today, by using a hot button social topic to steer people's attention away from the real issues that affect their day to day lives.

The President, is engaging in ridiculous bully pulpit politics that many on the left poo poo as pandering. But, the Gay community could suffer tangible trickle down effects in part because his rhetoric.

President Bush, like Alabama's infamous civil rights era Governor George Wallace, pays lip service to discrimination (and violence) by attempting to write exclusionary policy into the constitution. In the early 1960's, Wallace's inflamatory rhetoric, gave a rubber stamp of approval to violence that rocked my home state to the core. The Governor, like other Southern leaders, could use race to steer attention away from a sorry education system, tax inequity, the threats of organized labor, poverty and the potential for other ladders of opportunity in a region left behind. For political gain, Wallace fanned the flames of hate that resulted in a disturbing legacy he tried to alter til the day he died. President Bush is not far from the fire himself.

No matter how many millions of Americans support a ban on same sex marriage, the President has the moral obligation to be a leader, a "uniter not a divider". But hey, when did politicians ever listen to what is morally correct over votes. That's why we have those activist judges.

One wonders if years from now, President Bush will regret his unnecessary political game man ship, especially when this sort of pandering gives a subliminal greenlight to other forms of discrimination of gay people. George Wallace certainly did. Fortunately for Wallace, he was forgiven by many of his African American consituents, and went on to win that state's highest office a few more times.

But, perhaps a more pressing question....will George Bush ever be invited to a gay wedding? And if he is, what will he bring? Regret?

Reasonably minded, tax paying, God loving and law abiding citizens of the United States will hopefully see through this current sad charade. There is hope that each and every American man woman and child gay straight or asexual or what not, will feast their eyes of political engagement on issues that truly matter, like a war in Iraq that has cost over two thousand American lives, countless Iraqi civillians and the wrath and distrust of billions of world citizens. (just to mention one of the more obvious important subjects worthy of getting voters to polls)

Maybe we in New York can safely tisk tisk those in the middle while silently marveling at the President and his incredible talent to deceive large portions of the American people. After all, it is this President's knack for being shrill and smug like a playground bully who came from money, that fuels his success at further deepening the cultural divide. But, there is no mistaking the wave of sad realization sweeping the thinkers of the world, as they witness another American leader using discrimination as a tool for winning votes. Yes, it appears that President Bush has signed the "Family Research Council's" new "marriage protection plan"...A plan that wreaks of misguided principals and cheap fear mongering.

So, as a reaction, here's a proposed plan of action...

Perhaps it is time, that those who subscribe to reason, and not reaction, will start demanding nothing less than the same sort of attention to an issue that might change the fate of millions ordinary daily lives. This President gave attention to and served as spokesmodel for the the shrill forces on the Right Wing..much in the same way Wallace did when he blocked the Univeristy of Alabama's college admissions office in Tuscaloosa back in 1963. Perhaps reason based types should demand that a politician they identify with, propose universal health insurance or something attention grabbing along those lines....but, unlike the convenient topic gay marriage, Universal Health care legislation would fundamentally change millions of lives and involve spending money and lots of it....and it may prove unpopular since it would make one of the special privileges offered to the "working" (I'm better than you) married... health insurance for your spouse.
PLEASE NOTE rule required by the new FRC MARRIAGE PLAN ...available for politickin signing if you wanna win!

(One of the suggested guidelines in the new FRC marriage protection plan is that newly married married couples buy homes in fortified bunker style neighborhoods located on former farmland in tiny small towns turned mega-developments. These developements are located far outside the major urban centers where gays tend to congregate and form communities. Gays are allowed buying rights as long as they refer to themselves as bachelors or bachellorettes (roomates are okay). These highly heterosexually secure areas are only accessible by two hour drives in traffic that is usually identifiable by large numbers of SUV's, Hummers, women applying makeup on the way to work-while driving, bouncing children, fast food restaurants, and unbearable suburban physical sameness that screams of...poor planning.

flag from codyco

FLAG AMENDMENT- Who's your leader, who's your leader, who's your leader

A proposed Constitutional amendment that would have allowed the Congress to prohibit desecration of the United States Flag has failed by one vote. The close, by the hair of our collective chinny chin chin's vote is good news, but also, a chilling reminder that in these times of hair brain political cabarets and get a vote by any means thinking, all moves are possible, as the land of liberty toys with some of its most fundamental ideas, including, one of the most sacred values of all, freedom of speech. And, as has been shown by numerous media hog public figures who hide behind thin masks of patriotism, symbols that are easily worn as a demonstration of dedication to a deeper principal or cause, can end up cheapening the true, complicated, hard fought and sacred values of what those symbols are meant to represent.

Since the horrible days right after 9/11, plenty of politicians have taken to wearing flag lapels. The last Republican convention looked like an Oscar ceremony in the 90's when celebrities wore red ribbons in the earlier days of AIDS awareness campaigns. After a while, the ribbons seemed to almost cheapen their important message, in much the same way, the flag lapels have become an even cheaper self righteous fixture on the "I'm more patriotic than you" circuit.

But patriotism is not cheap. And, it certainly is not for sale at Tiffany. Nor, is it defined by the world's largest flag flying proudly at your local interstate car dealership or town hall. Instead, patriotism is more complex, and indeed filled with controversial, passionate definitions that are debated constantly in our beautiful freedom based Democracy. The American system of Democracy, served by a few real leaders and the dedicated souls who would like to believe in what they say, is one of the things that earns the nation's loyalty and ultimately its patriotism. The freedom to say, and express one's self, debate our policy and inform our public of the truth, is what America holds closest to its heart. God forbid that policy makers begin legislating what specific freedoms of expression are protected, and which are not. We would all be at the mercy of reactionary whims that could evolve faster than a 1970's mood ring (or a spooky assed color coded terror alert). The country survived the flag burning craze of the Vietnam era and there's no doubt that it will survive any burn, poo, rip or bleach desecration trends now. What it won't survive are politicians who claim to be leaders but instead pick up easy hot rock non-relevant issues on the campaign trail and try to write them into the Constitution, a document that more leaders should wear in their hearts and minds rather than a suit pocket or pretty blouse. (btw...although the red ribbons heightened awareness, the real test came when it was time to cough up a dollar to the cause)

Even if the Flag Amendment had passed, we would still have to watch, as citizens in other nations burn our flag, motivated by a real disdain for what we represent, not our current policies. Besides, in this war on terror, it's pretty easy to spot a smoke plume coming from a burning flag, I mean, if that's really what the war on terror is all about, who better to wiretap? (know your enemies warned Nixon)

It seems to me that a true example of patriotism is a politician who can stand and say, although it burns my buns, makes me sick, bites my soul, rips at my heart to see someone disrespect old Glory's stars and stripes....(GOT IT!)....I will still defend the right of any American to desecrate the flag because, that is what makes us seperate from the rest of the world. Unlike China, where...welllll, you get the picture.

Rhetoric that takes a difficult and non-reactionary path earns the respect of millions. It's that stance for freedom, no matter how distasteful, that takes pure ol wise political guts. Of course, that politician is then subject to the political wrath of cheap opponents and other less than savory groups who choose to steer voter's attention(s) away from real issues that truly affect a democracy, such as making sure that the principals the flag stands for, the comittment to liberty and justice for all are upheld. Of course, one can't wear either of those on a lapel or blouse, nor can it be sewn and flown in towns across America. The laws that protect the principals of Liberty and Justice flow down from the decisionmakers we call leaders.

A few politicians, like Medal of Honor winner Senator Daniel Inouye, a veteran of World War Two, took a stance against the ammendment idea.

The Senator from Hawaii displayed one of those increasingly rare moments when a politician ceases to be a "politician" and becomes a real "leader."