SHOCKER: Red Ribbon Worn At Golden Globe Awards
January 16, 2012
Yes, you read that right- an actor of prominence wore a red ribbon on his suit jacket at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday night. Before I laud praise, I gotta say that it was wonderful to see one of those little suckers. Really. I paused the screen to inspect it, I was so excited.
Back in the 1990s, actors routinely wore red ribbons to award shows to express their solidarity with the plight of those living with HIV. But once treatments became available to those in privileged areas of the world, the red ribbons started to disappear. By the end of the 90s the red ribbons had gone the way of the parachute pants, deemed unworthy to enter the new millennium. So big ups to the one and only Steve Buscemi, who continued his tribute to the 90s by losing a Best Actor Award in the TV Series to Kelsey Grammer.
If there’s ever a ribbon made for actors who lose acting awards to Grammer, I’m wearing one in your honor, Steve.
I Victory Crouch You by Synthetic Division (Halo Tribute)
October 12, 2011
Did you hear the story last month about how a group of gamers solved a problem with HIV that has been baffling scientists for over a decade? Click here to learn more about how a University of Washington program transforms scientific problems into computer games.
I, on the other hand, use gaming for less noble purposes. Inspired by the insane amount of time I’ve logged on Halo in the last year, I decided to pay tribute with a Synthetic Division song and music video. The song was co-written with one of my good friends, Micah Consylman. We got together, had a beer, and took turns pecking away at a synthesizer and laying down vocals. Though it’s not discovering the elusive structure of a retrovirus protein, I believe “I Victory Crouch You” is more than a song inspired by an act that is perpetrated on fallen opponents in the game. I think this song will have a reverse effect, and eventually inspire scientists to find a cure for HIV so I can dedicate every waking moment of my life to playing video games.
Two and a Half Men: Did Charlie Harper Have HIV?
September 20, 2011
I’m not a big Two And A Half Men fan- in fact I’ve never watched an entire episode until last night. Morbid curiosity drew me in, as I was wondering how they would kill off the womanizing, drug-usin’, freerollin’ Charlie Sheen’s character, the womanizing, drug-usin’, freerollin’ Charlie Harper.
Well, I wasn’t disappointed.
The opening scene is the funeral. His grieving brother Maxwell (Jon Cryer, “Maxwell” is a guess) is saying a few words, but can barely finish a sentence before the angry mob of hot ladies chime in. “My brother gave so much, to so many people…” “Yeah, he gave me herpes.” “… and me gonorrhea.” “I got genital warts from him.” Then another man chimed in about how much drug money he was owed, and who he should collect from. When Maxwell suggested hiring a lawyer, then man said he’d rather keep the law out it. Later, while grieving at home, Maxwell is visited by a slew of people, including John Stamos, who admits to a threesome that involved he and Charlie Harper as well as a female, which became a twosome after the female passed out.
Oh, and he died because he fell in front of a train, but it was insinuated that he was pushed by his girlfriend; hence no open casket at the service. It was all funny stuff until the script went up in a puff the moment Charlie’s ashes were accidentally scattered across the living room floor.
Anyway, based on the post-mortem fleshing out of Charlie Harper’s character, is it not a stretch to think that maybe he was a positoid? That somewhere along the way, during a decade of heavy partying and drug use, he contracted HIV? Let’s rip this one from the headlines, since “AIDS monster!” stories are always popular in the media…
Maybe Charlie’s girlfriend went to donate blood, found out she was positive, went back to Charlie. “I don’t have HIV!” “Well, have you ever been tested?” “No- I use condoms when she says she won’t have sex without them…” “Who is SHE?” “Uh, wait baby, I didn’t mean-” One shove later and Charlie Harper is splattered by a train. If that sounds too dark for a sitcom, you must remember that a laugh track can sooth the seriousness of any situation.
The Last American Virgin (1982)
July 21, 2011
Either way, the only scene I could remember is how the teens in the movie spent an afternoon soaking their genitals in a public pool in a misguided attempt to drown the crabs they’d picked up from an encounter with a prostitute the night before. (“$30…” “Oh cool, that’s $10 each…” “No! $30 a person!”) Ah, 80′s movies, nothing like a scene that features three high school kids on a street corner negotiating with a prostitute.
When I first saw Virgin, those three characters seemed so much older and wiser than me. I knew there was more to life than just the Fraggles, and at the time high school was mystery to me that could have easily included random visits to the neighborhood prostitute. I was just clueless. The plan to revisit the movie was sealed when Gwenn had no idea what the hell it was; I figured a goofy 1980′s, pre-AIDS sexually charged comedy would be fun.
And it was. This time around, the teenagers seemed young and reckless to me. The movie was entertaining and ultra-enjoyable, but I couldn’t believe the big guy in the group let scrawny Gary drive himself home after a rager in which Gary found himself shit-faced. “Drive safe!” was his buddy David’s words of advice. Incredible, Gary made it home without incident, though later in the movie he would find himself driving a convertible into the ocean.
The theme of the movie isn’t a riddle- Gary is looking to get laid. Husky David is there for most of the big laughs, as is their handsome friend, the cock-blocking Rick. After a few good runs of fortune, the trio hit their first stumbling block in class, when they can’t stop scratching their pubic regions. This leads to a great scene in which Gary awkwardly tries to ask a pharmacist for a remedy. It’s a cool scene that lets you see how someone who could negotiate with a prostitute twice his age the night before cannot say that he has crabs in the harshness of daylight. I figured once the crabs were gone, it would be back to the hijinks. I didn’t remember that ol’ cockblocking Rick ends up impregnating Gary’s object of affection, Karen.
After that, Gary becomes the hero when he cobbles together enough money to spring for her abortion. The movie is set to a wonderful soundtrack of 80′s classics, it must have been way cheaper in 1982 to get that many awesome songs into one film. Anyway, the ending is one of the most depressing things I’ve ever seen. As the credits rolled, Gwenn and I sat in stunned silence. I’m not sure who broke it with a “….. REALLY?”
I’d highly recommend this movie, and love the ending because it’s just a realistic portrayal of teen life and love. After it’s over, just go to Scene Selection and chase the end with one of the lighter moments, like when David gets slapped by Gary’s mom, or when he’s pounding away on the prostitute, or when he’s getting pushed into the pool, or chased down the street by the sailor.
Tracy Morgan’s Dad Had HIV
June 15, 2011
Usually when someone apologizes for a public/personal misstep, the only thing that comes across is that they are sorry they got caught. On Monday I blogged about Tracy Morgan’s homophobic rant at one of his stand-up gigs earlier this month. In the last couple of weeks the story got major legs- he was chastised by his 30 Rock co-star Tina Fey and the rant was retweeted and reposted ad nauseam…
Shortly afterward I received a comment that my linking his story with HIV was a stretch. When I posted the blog entry, I had no idea just how close HIV hit the Morgan home. Here is Tracy’s statement:
“I know how bad bullying can hurt,” he said. “I was bullied when I was a kid. I’m sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean it. I never want to use my comedy to hurt anyone. My family knew what it was like to feel different. My brother was disabled, and I lost my father to AIDS in 1987. My dad wasn’t gay but I also learned about homophobia then because of how people treated people who were sick with that.
“Parents should support and love their kids no matter what. Gay people deserve the same right to be happy in this country as everyone else. Our laws should support that. I hope that my fans gay, straight, whatever forgive, and I hope my family forgives me for this.”
Since the rant, it’s come out that Tracy’s had a history of anti-gay remarks. Now, he’s talking to GLAAD and will be working with them on ads targeted at the entire issue of bullying as it pertains to the gay community. Is it a wise career move? Undoubtedly. But I’m glad he opened up about his personal connection to HIV, and revisited how his own family was made to feel less than human as a result.
Either way, here’s to hoping his homophobic history is, well, history.
Tracy Morgan’s “Scare Tactics” and HIV
June 13, 2011
In early June, during one of his stand-up comedy routines in Nashville, Tracy Morgan made some anti-gay remarks that didn’t come across as a laughing matter. During what has been described as a rant, Morgan said he would kill his son if he learned he was gay. The punchline, I guess, involves the visual of Tracy repeatedly punching his son to death with his fists.
I’m not surprised to learn that a funnyman is uncomfortable with gay people. I’m not surprised when any famous, rich or connected person does something stupid. Morgan has apologized, and he is still feeling the backlash of his night in Nashville. My perspective of the whole thing is that Tracy, as a black comedian, let loose some deep feelings on homophobia that has ravaged the black community. Homophobia puts people at risk for HIV infection.
Think about it. Some young black kid hears violent remarks from friends and family for years. When he comes out to himself, privately, and then begins to have sexual relationships, that homophobia that keeps him closeted tinges each sexual encounter with shame. A sexual encounter that is shameful is more likely to be one that is unprotected- how can you ask a partner to put on a condom if, in the back of your mind, you’re worried that if your dad found out you were even gay, he might kill your ass?
Is Tracy Morgan is spokesperson for the black community? Absolutely not. Did some of the sentiments behind his words shed some light on why HIV/AIDS has been such a terror in the black community?
Eloquent with Rage, ONE Condoms and Will.I.Am.A.Moron
May 7, 2011
My good buddy Bob Geise noticed a prompt from ONE Condoms over on Facebook to write a poem about condoms. Being the good poet and writer that he is, Bob channeled his frustration over a recent interview that Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas conducted with Elle Magazine. Here’s the interesting part:
Elle: If you walked into a woman’s house, what one item would convince you that you weren’t compatible?
W: If she had condoms in her house, that would just f[---]in’ throw me off. That’s just tacky.
Elle: Well, okay, I could see if she had a
candy bowl full of them on the coffee table. But if she’s got a few in
a drawer, wouldn’t that simply suggest she’s health-conscious?
W: I just think, like, if you’re into someone
and you guys get to that level, then that’s something you should
converse about together and say, “Hey, maybe we should get some.”
I thought that his awful music would be Will.I.Am’s worst contribution to society. But just when you think you have all the answers, someone changes the questions. And the question that prompted this whole thing was a softball of epic proportions. He should have said a sawed-off shotgun. Or a body in the closet. But he said what he felt, and now I’ll never feel guilty again for bashing his band for being awful musicians.
by Bob Geise
i‘d like to say to will.i.am
what planet are you from again?
if you ain’t got ONE*, hit the road
god knows what bugs are in your load
the condom I keep in my purse
could save my life–it’s not perverse
you want to feel my velvet love?
you best put that thing in a glove!
Bob also wrote the following Note on Facebook about why he entered the contest, and why he supports ONE Condoms. I was moved by his kind words, wanted to share them here.
Bob wrote: Yesterday, the ONE Condoms page here on Facebook had a small poetry contest, the winner
receiving a ONE party pack. I wrote a trifle of a poem (short and
sweet) and submitted it; there were about fifteen other poets who
offered some rhymes (and even a haiku!). Turns out that I won! Said
Storm Tussey, ONE’s Digital Brand Manager: “Terrific job, the entire
office thought yours was the best.” Yay!
I admire ONE Condom for a very specific reason. When my friend Shawn Decker was
looking for a condom sponsor for his band Synthetic Division’s tour
last year, ONE helped him out with free condoms and swag, including
some very cool metal condom holders, which they actually branded for
the band! None of the other major condom companies would even talk to
Shawn. Why? Shawn has AIDS, and he and Gwenn, his “wife partner,” tour
the country educating young people about safer sex in relationships and
the issues that arise in serodiscordant couples (in which one partner
is positive and one is negative, as Gwenn is). Also, themes related to
HIV and AIDS pervade much of Synthetic Division’s music. The bottom
line is that condom companies do not want their product associated in
any way with disease, let alone HIV. I assume there is some perceived
liability issue. All the same, while those corporations may quietly
disclaim in small print that the proper use of their condoms can be
effective in stopping the spread of disease including HIV, they surely
haven’t minded the bazillion dollars they’ve made since HIV and AIDS
arrived exactly thirty years ago. ONE Condoms has not distanced itself
from the fact that people use condoms to prevent disease as well as
I wholeheartedly approve!
One of the most frustrating aspects of educating for me, for well over a decade, was the cold response Gwenn and I received from condom companies in regard to supporting our message of safe sex. These same companies sponsor Snooki’s birthday party, and would willing throw mounds of cash at Will.I.Am if given the slightest opportunity. Speaking of Will.I.Am.Stoopid, it’s strange that someone who writes party down songs like he does would be so conservative when it comes to a female having a proactive stance regarding safer sex.
You’d expect more from a guy who looks like a human condom when he performs on stage.
Video Reviews, Depeche Mode Covers, Cobain Remembered
April 8, 2011
Got lots swirling around in the ol’ nugget today, but I want to lead out with yet another remembrance of Kurt Cobain. I know many think he’s overrated and overmentioned, but this week marked 17 years since he took his own life… time flies, doesn’t it?
Near the end of high school, I really got into Nirvana. The first time I heard them was just before Teen Spirit blew up. It was a random group of guys, hanging out in someone’s basement. A cassette tape was pulled out and played, and despite the different musical tastes of everyone in the room (from Primus, to Depeche Mode, to Phish fans) we all agreed: Nirvana was awesome.
One thing I loved about Cobain was his understanding and empathy of the underdog. Back before the modern era of Lady Gaga- a strong advocate for the gay community- Cobain rose to fame on the strength of a catchy guitar riff and an intense music video that MTV played with the feverish excitement that is now solely reserved for reality TV shows. At the height of his fame Cobain did an interview with The Advocate Magazine, appearing on the cover to talk about how he appreciates the gay community. Since we all know his music, I thought it would be more interesting to share this.
At the time, I probably appreciated his stance of gay issues because I’d taken a small amount of shit for in junior high and high school for having Depeche Mode as my favorite band. They were European and played keyboards, in Waynesboro, Virginia that somehow qualified as being gay. I don’t know how many times I was told my favorite band was gay- so many times that I figured it didn’t matter if they were or not. It’s funny, but even the thought that a band was gay, a band that had influenced me and helped guide me through the somewhat treacherous experience of puberty, probably had a lot to do with my opinion that sexual orientation is not something that matters in the slightest.
Speaking of Depeche Mode- I had the great experience of helping my friend, Andy Deane of Bella Morte, with a cover of one of Depeche Mode’s classic songs. It sounds great- I’ll reveal the song when Andy does. It’s being done as part of Bella Morte’s Kickstarter campaign to help fund their new record, After the Flood. The Depeche Mode cover is an exclusive giveaway to anyone who donates to their campaign, which ends of April 16. So if you want the tune, and want to help a very gay-friendly group of musicians in their own right, you have a week to donate.
It was a lot of fun singing back-up vocals on a song that I’d drive circles around Waynesboro singing in my car back in the day. Glad I could put the harmonies I worked out twenty years ago to good use!
Lastly, I’m humbled by the kind response that the Synthetic Division music video has received. If you want to hear me talk about music more, then check out an interview I did for Horrorshow Radio this week, The Life and Times of Shawn Decker. Geek Crafts also featured the “Out of Time” video, and called me a “geek chic trifecta” due to my involvement in music and writing, as well as the fact that I named my band after math… Speaking of the music video, if you look closely you’ll see a Depeche Mode music video within the Synthetic Division music video. (It’s not a clue as to which song Bella Morte covered, btw!)
Hope you have a great weekend.
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