Archives for the month of: November, 2013
Museum of New and Old Art (MONA)
at Moorilla
A cool and wet Thanksgiving in Tasmania, Australia. This year our traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey and pumpkin pie was replaced with fish and chips at the Manning Reef Cafe in Sandy Bay, just outside Hobart. I don’t remember a better fish and chips than this. Being in a place where no one pays any attention to Thanksgiving seems almost surreal, but I’m enjoying the break from the intensity associated with this holiday in the USA. For dinner, we had an excellent take-out meal at the Cripps DT & JL Bakehouse in the small village of Bellerive. The food was quite good and the prices were remarkably affordable for Australia.
Museum of New and Old Art (MONA)
at Moorilla
A cool and wet Thanksgiving in Tasmania, Australia. This year our traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey and pumpkin pie was replaced with fish and chips at the Manning Reef Cafe in Sandy Bay, just outside Hobart. I don’t remember a better fish and chips than this. Being in a place where no one pays any attention to Thanksgiving seems almost surreal, but I’m enjoying the break from the intensity associated with this holiday in the USA. For dinner, we had an excellent take-out meal at the Cripps DT & JL Bakehouse in the small village of Bellerive. The food was quite good and the prices were remarkably affordable for Australia.

A skateboarding culture in the former East Germany? This Ain’t California is a documentary film celebrating the hidden East German skateboarding culture. Even if you’re not a skateboarding enthusiast, this movie is a fascinating look at three young men driven to excel. There are breathtaking displays of nose wheelies and ollies, including entertaining sequences filmed in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz during the mid-1980’s. It’s worth a view just to see how Berlin has changed since reunification.

People magazine has just named Adam Levine, the Sexiest Man Alive for 2013. I’ve never heard of the guy, but I’m not People’s demographic audience. So my opinion doesn’t count for much. Nevertheless, this annual award got me thinking. How have past winners fared over the years? 

Nick Nolte wasn’t bad in 1982,
but what happened?





Mel was certainly cute in 1985

Tom Cruise looks the same
23 years later. Who is his plastic surgeon?

Looked good then.  Looks good now.
I would say Graceful Aging 




Here’s an interesting survey conducted by the Gallup polling organization. According to Gallup, the percentage of U.S. adults who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) ranges from 10% in the District of Columbia to 1.7% in North Dakota. The national average is 3.5%. Of the fives states with highest percentage of LGBT adults (D.C., Hawaii, Vermont, Oregon and Maine), only Oregon has yet to legalize same-sex marriage. Oregonians will have an opportunity next year to change that in a voter referendum.

The states with the lowest percentage of LGBT adults (Utah, Tennessee, Mississippi, Montana, and North Dakota) are deeply conservative and unlikely to let their gay and lesbian citizens marry any time soon. 

Most Americans now back same-sex marriage according to recent polls. Personally, I don’t like the idea of letting states decide constitutional issues and rights. The U.S. Constitution enshrines certain rights and liberties as so important that they are above the politics of day. Freedom of speech and religion are never put to a vote. Why then the right to marry? The whole point of the U.S. Constitution was to protect the rights of the minority from the bigotries of the majority. Simply put: the right to marry, as protected under Equal Protection clause of the Constitution, should extend to all Americans, gay or straight. 

Jimmy Justice (not his real name) is a Brooklyn, New York video activist. He posts videos on YouTube showing NYC traffic enforcement officers breaking the law. His videos are not only entertaining, but they document a very real problem: police officers and other public servants who think they are above the law. 

Whatever happened to “Mr. De Leon, may I call you Fernando?” That may seem stuffy, but the whole part of needing permission to use a first name was that it implied intimacy. We all use first names more than we used to, but we still have surnames for strangers and first names for friends. It’s no wonder I’m always irritated by a grocery store clerk, waiter, or office receptionist presuming to sound like a friend. But do they really think we’re touched by their “friendliness?” In fact, it’s more likely to be the opposite.

In Germany, addressing a stranger by his or her first name is considered rude; yet, some German’s think it’s perfectly acceptable to address Americans by their first name and everybody else by their surnames. It’s one of those cultural differences that drives me crazy. I know people mean well, but it would be nice for people to understand social boundaries.    

Jailed Members of Pussy Riot

Here’s an update on yesterday’s posting. A member of the Russian punk band, Pussy Riot has called for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics as a way to oppose the Putin regime. 

The Olympics are and have always been political. They have lent legitimacy to repressive states like China and the former USSR and made a mockery of freedom in Mexico. The Nazis used the 1936 Olympics to present an image of a peaceful and tolerant Germany. Now, 77 years later, there is an ominous parallel with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

In less than three months, the Winter Olympics will begin, but I won’t be watching because of the anti-gay laws passed by the Putin regime. These laws ban “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” Even among the Russians, it’s unclear what this exactly means, but people could be arrested for giving pro-gay speeches, discussing homosexuality or even holding the hand of a same sex friend. (I suspect this posting also breaks the law.) Violators face fines, imprisonment, and deportation. Already Russia’s crackdown on gays has seen it ban gay pride parades, arrest hundreds of people protesting the laws, and outlaw adoptions by same-sex couples. 


In effect, Russia has given the green light for hate, bigotry, and aggression of the country’s LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community. In recent months, there have been attacks and even violent murders against gays, including 23-year-old Vladislav Tornovoi, whose killers raped him with beer bottles and then killed him by smashing his head.

At a time when most western countries are recognizing the rights of gay people, Russia is taking a giant step backward. A civilized world cannot tolerate Russia’s behavior and should condemn it for denying its citizens basic human dignity. Moreover, Olympic sponsors and broadcasting networks share in Russia’s culpability. Sitting back idly is tacit acceptance of Russia’s actions and can lead to more repression and persecution of gay people in the future. If Russia’s laws today were targeted against the Jews, as the Nazis did in Germany, would we support the Olympics?

The Olympics are and have always been political. They have lent legitimacy to repressive states like China and the former USSR and made a mockery of freedom in Mexico. The Nazis used the 1936 Olympics to present an image of a peaceful and tolerant Germany. Now, 77 years later, there is an ominous parallel with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

In less than three months, the Winter Olympics will begin, but I won’t be watching because of the anti-gay laws passed by the Putin regime. These laws ban “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” Even among the Russians, it’s unclear what this exactly means, but people could be arrested for giving pro-gay speeches, discussing homosexuality or even holding the hand of a same sex friend. (I suspect this posting also breaks the law.) Violators face fines, imprisonment, and deportation. Already Russia’s crackdown on gays has seen it ban gay pride parades, arrest hundreds of people protesting the laws, and outlaw adoptions by same-sex couples. 


In effect, Russia has given the green light for hate, bigotry, and aggression of the country’s LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community. In recent months, there have been attacks and even violent murders against gays, including 23-year-old Vladislav Tornovoi, whose killers raped him with beer bottles and then killed him by smashing his head.

At a time when most western countries are recognizing the rights of gay people, Russia is taking a giant step backward. A civilized world cannot tolerate Russia’s behavior and should condemn it for denying its citizens basic human dignity. Moreover, Olympic sponsors and broadcasting networks share in Russia’s culpability. Sitting back idly is tacit acceptance of Russia’s actions and can lead to more repression and persecution of gay people in the future. If Russia’s laws today were targeted against the Jews, as the Nazis did in Germany, would we support the Olympics?