by Eric Resnick
Events were held in Cleveland and Columbus last weekend commemorating the second annual National Scouting for All Rally Week in support of gay Scouts and youth.
Both events were held in protest of the Boy Scouts of Americaís ban on gay members and leaders. Organizers of the Cleveland event also urged participants to help cut the Boy Scouts funding by cutting off their United Way funding.
The events were organized by independent groups committed to the principles of Scouting for All, a non-profit organization founded in 1997 by then 12-year-old Steve Cozza as his Eagle Scout project.
The Cleveland event included a rally held on Public Square August 25. An initial crowd of 63 more than doubled as speakers shared their personal experiences and denounced the Boy Scout policy as bigotry.
Rev. Laurinda Hafner of the gay-affirming Pilgrim Congregational Church in Tremont told how the Greater Cleveland Council of the Boy Scouts pulled the charter of their 90-year-old troop because of the churchís public stand on non-discrimination.
"No person should be judged unfit to be a role model just because of their sexual orientation," said Hafner.
Hafner also told the crowd that they need to care about the Boy Scouts because of their prominent place in our culture.
Hafner added that because of the gay ban, scouts are learning "bigotry and prejudice clothed in the sheepskin of an American institution."
Uniform placed in time capsule
"As an Eagle Scout, I thought about this a long time," said Jan Cline of the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center, "I lived it."
Cline, who helped organize the event "on behalf of gay youth," told the story of how he joined the Cub Scouts at age eight and had a model Boy Scout experience, which included seven years on Buckeye Councilís summer camp staff and attainment of the Eagle rank.
Cline packed his old uniform, his camp jacket, his merit badge sash, his Eagle badge, and his honors into a time capsule that will be kept at the Lesbian-Gay Center.
"This will not be opened," said Cline, "until the Boy Scouts change their standard to include all of humanity. And if thereís no change, I donít want to see this stuff again."
John Harrison, also of the Cleveland center and also an Eagle Scout, told the crowd that "gay youth do not exist in a bubble" and said his protest was of the lost opportunities for community leadership faced by gay youth who are not allowed to be Boy Scouts.
Harrison called for the support of other youth organizations that allow gays and lesbians, including the Girl Scouts, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Cleveland, Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Cleveland YMCA and YWCA.
Robin Richmond, president of P-FLAG Cleveland, shared the national policy of Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays on the Boy Scouts, and said, "This is not a victory or a celebration. We are here to mourn the lost opportunities of gay youth."
Lance Williams of Cleveland Anti-Racist Action said the local United Way organizations and school districts should be questioned for their support of the Boy Scouts.
"In order to solve [the problem of their Boy Scout support], it has to first be confronted," he said.
Some in uniform
Among the crowd were a few in scout uniforms, mostly in opposition to the gay ban. One in favor of the ban, who would not give his name, described himself as "a scout involved at the district level." He added that he was "becoming a minority very quickly."
"If you are a white male, a heterosexual, and a Christian, you are becoming a minority, in my opinion," the unidentified man said.
But also in uniform was Robert Mathias of Shaker Heights, who says the Boy Scout position on gays is one of the reasons for his retirement from the organization after serving as a volunteer for 17 years.
"Scouting is wrong in this argument," said Mathias.
Mathias and his wife said they still give to United Way, but they stipulate that their money not fund Boy Scouts.
"I have two sons who are both Eagle Scouts," said Mathias. "They are 22 and 25 now and they are both ashamed to tell people they are Eagle Scouts because of this."
Dr. David Newmarker, an openly gay Lyndhurst dentist, wore his old merit badge sash.
"I loved Scouting," said the former Eagle Scout. "And it is something that our kids wonít have because they are not welcome."
The Columbus event was organized by Beacon Fellowship and the Kaleidoscope youth drop-in center. Rather than a rally, they used the Internet to collect signatures on Scouting for Allís petition to make the Boy Scouts inclusive of gays and atheists and mobilize letters of protest to the Boy Scouts.
An August 24 social drew eight youth and five adults. "It was a success because these lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning youth saw that adults are supportive of them," said organizer Perry Sloan, Beacon director.
"We wanted to make a statement of support for youth in general and in response to the high rates of gay youth suicide and the never ending violence in our schools," said Sloan.
United Way unchanged
Neither United Way Services of Greater Cleveland nor the United Way of Central Ohio have taken action to reduce their funding of Boy Scout programs in the Cleveland and Columbus areas.
Neither United Way organization, which are the two largest in Ohio, has changed its public position on Boy Scouts or reduced funding since they were surveyed in November 2000.
United Way funding accounts for 20-25 percent of Boy Scout councilsí operating budgets. Throughout the state of Ohio, the 13 Boy Scout councils recieved a funding increase of 5-7 percent from the stateís 101 United Way organizations for 2001, compared to 2000.
The United Way of Central Ohio, formerly the Franklin County United Way, has a policy of non-dicrimination that includes sexual orientation. Although other funded programs are held to that policy, the United Way of Central Ohio has not held the Boy Scouts to that standard.
Spokesperson Sharon Keaney said that "there is dialogue happening around the issue" but there has been "no change" in how the Boy Scouts will be funded in 2002.
United Way Services of Greater Cleveland does not include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy, but, according to marketing manager Gail Stuehr, "We donít discriminate."
"We are looking at the support we give [the Boy Scouts]," said Stuer.
In November the Cleveland United Way said its volunteers would be discussing the issue. To date, there has been no plan to reduce funding of any Boy Scout programs.
No United Way in Ohio funds any program specific to the GLBT community or questioning youth.
"We certainly hope and wish that United Ways would stop funding discriminating agencies like the Boy Scouts, and do it soon," said Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center director Linda Malicki.
Lawmakers consider anti-gay discrimination
by Bob Roehr
Washington, D.C.óThe Employment Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was re-introduced in the House and Senate on July 31.
The current bill is similar to measures introduced every consecutive session of congress since 1994. If passed and signed into law, the bill would give federal protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to nearly every American.
Federal law currently gives such protection on the basis of race, religion, national origin, age and disability.
Twelve states already protect the rights of gay and lesbian workers. Ohio is not one of them, but Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Youngstown, and seven smaller Ohio cities have human rights ordinances that include sexual orientation.
Gay activists have filed a lawsuit to stop a repeal of Marylandís anti-discrimination law.
Neither Ohio Senators, Mike DeWine nor George Voinovich, both Republicans are co-sponsoring the bill, but 42 other Senators, Democrats and Republicans, are, including James Jeffords, who noted his support as an Independent made this a "tri-partisan bill."
181 members of the House are co-sponsors, including Ohio representatives Stephanie Tubbs-Jones of Cleveland, Sherrod Brown of Lorain, Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland, Tom Sawyer of Akron, Ted Strickland of Lucasville, and James Traficant of Youngstown, all Democrats. Deborah Pryce of Columbus is the sole Ohio Republican co-sponsor.
According to David Smith, communications director for the
"This is something we should have passed a long time ago," said Pennsylvania Republican Senator Arlen Specter, who left the FBI confirmation hearings to attend the press conference. "There is simply no reason in 21st century America to have discrimination in employment based on race, religion, creed, sexual orientation, or any other reason."
"Civil rights is the unfinished business of the nation," said Massachusetts Democrat Senator Edward Kennedy, who also pointed out that the bill does not apply to the armed services or religious organizations.
Openly gay Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Barney Frank, a lead sponsor of the bill in the House pointed to a June Gallup poll showing that 85 percent of Americans favor equal rights and opportunities in the workplace for all citizens, including gays and lesbians.
Referring to statements made by anti-gay activists regarding what ENDA does and doesnít do, Frank cited the "extent to which our opponents lie about it" as a positive sign toward passage. "Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice plays to virtue," said Frank.
Florida Republican Mark Foley pointed out that 266 of the Fortune 500 companies already have policies protecting workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation. "The bottom line of their company is based on the skill and ability and quality of their workers, not who their workers sleep with," said Foley. "I think it is time for congress to wake up to reality."
According to HRCís Smith, the bill is expected to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate without much difficulty, but passage in the Republican-controlled House may be more difficult.
"The Republican leadership in the House has a perfect record of not allowing anything to come on the floor that would be supportive of the rights of gay and lesbian people," added Frank.
Senator Kennedy said that if the House refuses to act on a separate bill, Senate Democrats will add the language on to other legislation in a similar manner as was used last summer to add the hate crimes legislation to a defense authorization bill.
"This issue isnít going to disappear," said Kennedy, "We will use every parliamentary means that we possibly can."
The current bill, like its predecessors, does not include protection for transgender employees or those who do not conform to gender stereotypes.
In a press release, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays called for the inclusion of transgender protections in the legislation as well. "Many employees are discriminated against because of their gender presentation in the workplace, not necessarily their sexual orientation," the release noted. "Any and all discrimination is immoral and unconscionable."
Oregon Republican Senator Gordon Smith summed up the issue in a written statement saying, "ENDA is a simple, narrowly-crafted solution to a significant omission in our civil rights law," he wrote. "No one should be denied employment on the basis of sexual orientation or any other factor not related to ability to do a particular job."
ĖEric Resnick contributed to this story.
by Eric Resnick
Washington, D.C.-President Bush told senators July 26 that he is willing to drop the part of his "faith-based" initiative that allows religious groups to sidestep state and local civil rights laws that protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in order to soften opposition.
The measure passed the House of Representatives with the anti-gay language intact July 19 following a day of behind-the-scenes deal making with moderate Republicans. The bill is a top legislative priority for the president.
Democrat Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who is one of the few Senate Democrats in favor of religious groups having greater access to public funds, announced the presidentís change of stance. The Senate version of the bill has not yet been written and Senate Majority Leader Democrat Tom Daschle of South Dakota stated reluctance to schedule the bill for Senate debate adding that the Senate would not pass the bill if it contained the anti-gay provisions.
Openly gay Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who lead opposition to the bill in the House, said he is encouraged by the White House announcement, but said there are still dangers with the bill.
Frank says the negotiations being led by openly gay Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe and defended by the gay political group Log Cabin Republicans do not remove the religious discrimination allowed by the bill.
During floor debate, Frank insisted that the motion to recommit, a move to re-open the bill to amendment following the Rules Committee vote to close it, address both discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and religion, and had the backing of every civil rights group in the country.
Kolbe, who voted for the "faith-based" bill, even though it contained the anti-gay provisions, expressed difficulty with the amendmentís dual provisions, stating "this was further than I was prepared to go since it had not been debated in committee."
Frank noted that the president and the gay Republicans are willing to accept a version of the bill requiring recipients of federal funds to follow state and local equal rights laws that include sexual orientation. However, they are refusing to prohibit religious discrimination against people hired or served using federal taxpayer money.
"In our culture, religion is often a stand-in for race and other classes," said Frank. "There arenít a lot of black Mormons, or very many white members of AME [African Methodist Episcopal] churches."
Frank pointed out that religion could be used as a way to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation as well. "You are always going to find religious groups that justify discrimination against gay people with religion," he said.
Frank also mentioned that hate groups often masquerade as churches.
"So, while it may prohibit explicit gay discrimination," said Frank, "as long as the bill permits religious discrimination, there is still danger of gay discrimination."
by Eric Resnick
CincinnatióAn international group of human rights professionals
meeting in Cincinnati unanimously passed two resolutions July 24 denouncing
the cityís anti-gay
In the process, the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies chastised itself for holding the meeting in Cincinnati, and not being fully aware of the anti-gay provisions in the cityís charter passed by referendum in 1993. That measure, first known as Issue 3, now known as Article 12, repealed the cityís ordinance protecting citizens from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and forbids the city from enacting any laws protecting gays.
Cincinnati is the only city in the nation with such restrictions, and many groups concerned with human rights have avoided Cincinnati because of it. The Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau, which has now joined other community groups in a study to gauge public opinion and set the stage for a campaign to repeal the amendment, estimates that the city has already lost more than $64 million.
According to Stonewall Cincinnati executive director Doreen Cudnik, the IAOHRA was not given all the details of the human rights situation in the city before it contracted with Westin Hotel last winter. Cincinnati had racial unrest and riots this spring, also after the hotel arrangements were locked up.
"The IAOHRA is a progressive thinking group of people," said Cudnik. "Once they learned the situation, they decided to make it an issue of the conference."
Cudnik said she and Gary Wright of the Citizens to Restore Fairness, a group working exclusively on the repeal of Issue 3, met with IAOHRA president Beverly Watts, and planned ways to raise the issues and draft the resolutions passed by IAOHRA.
"They scheduled a workshop focusing on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights, and I presented the history of what went on in Cincinnati," said Cudnik.
Seth Kilbourn of the Human Rights Campaign came from Washington to talk about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has not yet passed the US Congress.
The resolutions passed call for Cincinnati to repeal its anti-gay charter amendment and sets minimum civil rights standards for cities hosting future IAOHRA conferences, standards that Cincinnati currently could not meet.
The human rights groups held a joint press conference July 24 to announce the resolutions. That day coincided with the day United States Olympic Committee members were touring Cincinnati to assess the viability of its bid to host the 2012 summer games.
"We just couldnít resist that link," said Cudnik.
CRF co-chair Lycette Nelson said, "I think it would be a giant step backward for the USOC to ignore laws discriminating against gays and lesbians in making its decision on where to hold the 2012 games."
In 1996, the Atlanta, United States and International Olympic Committees made a joint decision to relocate all people and events scheduled in neighboring Cobb County to other venues because of the anti- gay ordinance in the county.
Cudnik stressed that the coalition of human rights groups does not want to hurt Cincinnatiís efforts to get the games, but wants to point out how the charter amendment is an obstacle to the bid.
HRC has said it wants the USOC to reject the Cincinnati bid if the charter amendment is not repealed.
by Eric Resnick
ToledoóOf the record number of openly gay Ohioans seeking election to municipal seats this year, only one, Louis Escobar, is running as an incumbent.
Escobar, 51, the Lucas County Democratic Party endorsed candidate, was first elected to an at-large seat on the Toledo City Council in 1997, winning the open seat by nearly 3,800 votes. That year, he and Dayton City Commissioner Mary Wiseman, became the first openly gay office holders in Ohio history. This year will be Escobarís first re-election bid. Wiseman said in January that she would not seek re-election. Her term will end December 31, 2001.
The co-chairs of Escobarís campaign are State Representative and House minority leader Jack Ford and State Senator Linda Furney, who were also his co-chairs in 1997.
"[Escobar] is one of the best we ever had on council," said Ford. "I expect him to go to a higher office, like in Washington or Columbus some day."
Escobar also has the support of Rep. Marcy Kaptur. She and Ford appeared in a campaign commercial with him in 1997.
Escobar, a native of Toledo, left the priesthood in 1981 after five years.
He is currently the executive director of Adelante, Inc., a mental health
agency. Escobar has been in social services for the past 20 years, working
in the criminal justice system as a forensic counselor and probation officer,
and in mental health as a program manager, a substance abuse therapist,
and AIDS program
Escobar estimates this race will cost $60,000. Of that, he has already raised $11,000 and spent $8,000.
The Washington-based Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund announced July 26 that Escobar is one of their endorsed candidates and seek to raise $5,000 for him.
Toledo political organization Gays and Lesbians United chair Stuart Tart is also on Escobarís campaign committee. Escobar is a co-founder of GLU.
Tart credits having Escobar on council with the ease of passage of Toledoís human rights ordinance, which protects against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender.
"Where we had access to the members of the community, Louis had access to the members of council who actually voted," said Tart.
Escobar has never made his sexual orientation just an incidental part of his personality or his campaign. "I look forward to the day when we can be like the heterosexuals and not have to mention it," said Escobar. "But until then, I tell them I am gay right from the start."
"People do care to know that you are gay," said Escobar, "but once you are elected, people really want you to worry about doing the job they elected you to do."
Escobar credits being openly gay with a positive effect on the city council. "I hear from them that they have more realistic ways of dealing with gays now that they have gotten to know me," he said.
"They have gotten to know that gays are down-to-earth, real people, and that all of us in council run on issues that effect all Toledoans, including those who are gay."
Because of the way Toledo elects council members, openly gay Republican council-at-large candidate Dennis Lange is competing with Escobar for votes. Openly gay District 4 candidate Democrat Scott Robinson is only running against the incumbent.
The three Toledo men are joined by gay Clevelanders Buck Harris, Joe Santiago, and Edward Huson-Bey, who all seek ward council seats, and James Moore-McDermott, who is seeking a council-at-large seat in Bucyrus.
ĎTheyíre lyingí to block rights for lesbians and gays
Annapolis, Md.óSupporters of Marylandís new law banning anti-gay discrimination filed suit July 30 seeking to block a vote on efforts to repeal the law
The suit alleges that local election boards certified as many as 6,000 invalid signatures and that if they had been rejected, there would not have been enough to stop enforcement of the law until voters get a chance to approve or reject it next November.
State election officials said last month that opponents collected signatures of 47,539 registered voters, only 1,411 more than the number required to force a vote on the law approved by the General Assembly last April.
The suit filed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court alleges that many of the petition forms should have been rejected because they did not comply with state law, including a requirement that a printed summary of the law appear on the back of each petition. Other petitions contained signatures that were not dated as required and some petitions were witnessed before the signatures were even added. Additionally, the lawsuit argues that the law cannot be brought to a referendum because it applies to places that serve alcohol. In Maryland law, such legislation cannot be placed on referenda.
Other charges include reports that petitioners lied about the objective
"Theyíre scaring people who donít know what the law is and lying to them," Della Post, 51, of Port Republic, one of the plaintiffs, told the Baltimore Sun. "Iím in favor of the referendum process, but what theyíve done is corrupt the referendum process by lying."
The state law would provide protection to gays and lesbians in Baltimore
and all 23 counties. It would guarantee equal rights in housing, employment
and places of public accommodation such as restaurants and
Canadian PWAs can grow pot
OttawaóCanadians suffering from terminal illnesses and chronic conditions such as arthritis or AIDS can legally grow and smoke marijuana, or designate someone else to grow it for them, under regulations that took effect July 30.
The new rules are part of the first system in the world that includes a government-approved and paid-for supply of marijuana, now being grown in a former mine in northern Manitoba.
Eight U.S. states have taken some kind of step toward permitting the medicinal use of marijuana: California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada and Colorado. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, ruled earlier this year that there is no exception in federal law for people to use marijuana, so even people with state medical-exemptions could face arrest if they do.
Canadaís new rules permit drug possession for the terminally ill with
a prognosis of death within one year; those with symptoms associated with
specific serious medical conditions; and those with other medical conditions
who have statements from two doctors saying conventional treatments have
not worked. Eligible patients include those with severe arthritis, cancer,
Medicinal use of marijuana has been strongly advocated in the cases of
people with HIV/AIDS, since a number of the medications used to battle
the disease, including AZT, can cause severe nausea and loss of appetite,
side effects that have been
Blind manís helper shot to death
Nashville, Tenn.óA man was shot to death in a parking lot after he went into a restroom holding a blind manís arm and carrying his girlfriendís purse, police said.
Willie Huston, 38, his girlfriend and another couple had just returned from a cruise on a showboat - which docks beside the Grand Ole Opry - when he was shot the morning of July 29.
Hustonís girlfriend had apparently asked him to hold her purse while she and the other woman went to the restroom, police said. Shortly afterward, Hustonís other friend - who is blind - asked Huston to escort him to the restroom.
Police say the two men encountered the suspect, who began teasing them. The suspect then followed them out of the restroom, grabbed a gun from his car and shot Huston at close range, authorities said.
Huston "was there to have a good time with his girlfriend and his other friends," said police spokesman John Lash. "This guy jumped him because he came in holding a manís arm-a blind manís arm- and carrying a purse."
Police say two other men were with the suspect. No arrests had been made as of late Sunday.
German gays & lesbians say ĎI doí
BerlinóGerman gays and lesbians exchanged vows at partnership ceremonies August 1, gaining rights previously reserved for married couples as a new law went into effect despite fierce opposition from some conservatives.
Dozens of ceremonies across the country marked a victory in a decade-old fight by gay rights groups to bring Germany in line with other European countries that have passed similar legislation.
The law allows gay and lesbian couples to register their unions at government offices and requires a court decision for divorce. Same-sex couples also will receive inheritance and health insurance rights previously given only to married spouses.
Berlinís mayor sent congratulations to couples registering in Berlin.
"You have taken the first step into new territory," wrote Klaus Wowereit, who became Germanyís most prominent openly gay politician when he took power in June.
Countries that have granted legal status to same-sex couples include France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. The Netherlands legalized same-sex marriages in April.
Lesbian can sue in dog mauling death
San FranciscoóThe lesbian partner of a woman mauled to death by dogs in San Francisco won a surprising victory July 27 when a judge said her wrongful-death suit could proceed to trial even though she is not a "surviving spouse" under the law.
At issue was whether the woman, Sharon Smith, had the legal standing to sue. Under California law, only surviving spouses or other relatives can bring wrongful-death claims.
But Superior Court Judge A. James Robertson II said that because state law does not allow gay couples to marry, the surviving-spouse rule should not apply to same-sex couples. The judge agreed with Smithís attorney that the rule violates the equal protection clause of the California Constitution.
"This is a remarkable day. This is the first decision of this kind, not just in California but anywhere in the country," said Smithís attorney, Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "Itís a tremendous victory for lesbian and gay people in the United States."
Smith sued the caretakers of the two large Presa Canario mastiffs that
No trial date has been set for the lawsuit against husband-and-wife lawyers Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller.
Noel and Knoller remain behind bars on charges related to the fatal attack. Knoller, who was present at the time of the attack, faces the more serious charge of second-degree murder, while Noel was charged with manslaughter.
But you can still clean up the trash
Sioux Falls, S.D.óThe American Civil Liberties Union is threatening legal action after the state Department of Transportation refused to let a group that advocates on behalf of gay men and lesbians post a sign as part of the Adopt-A-Highway program.
The Sioux Empire Gay and Lesbian Coalition wants the sign in exchange for picking up trash along two miles of state Highway 38 west of Sioux Falls. But DOT officials said the group did not qualify because it is an advocacy group.
Jennifer Ring, executive director of the ACLU of the Dakotas, said her organization will go to court if the state does not give in.
Courts and legislatures have sent mixed messages on similar issues. An appeals court upheld the right of the Ku Klux Klan to participate in the cleanup program in Missouri.
Jeffrey Gustafson, DOTís region operations engineer, sent letters to
"We believe that the Sioux Empire Gay and Lesbian Coalition is an advocacy group. For that reason, we can allow you to adopt a section of highway, but we will not put up recognition signs," Gustafson wrote.
Himmel-Roberts replied that any group that supports a cause is an advocacy group.
DOT records show political parties in Edmunds and Yankton counties have been allowed to take part, however.
Styx member comes out
ChicagoóChuck Panozzo, bassist for the band Styx, announced at an HRC meeting on July 28 that he is gay and has AIDS.
"I was denying who I was," the Chicago Sun-Times reported
Panozzo said. "Iíve seen people have this illness and die cowardly.
When you die, everyone knows your
Panozzo told his bandmates he was gay shortly before the band went on a six-year hiatus in 1984. The band re-formed in 1990.
Panozzo was diagnosed with HIV in 1991, and had full-blown AIDS by 1999.
He is currently on the AIDS "cocktail" therapy and his health is improving, he says. He joined his bandmates for 40 concerts this year, playing three songs at each gig. He will not join the band on their European tour, although he hopes to continue playing with them at some upcoming concerts.
Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.
An autumn crop of music,
live by request
Reviewed by Anthony Glassman
Must-have releases are hitting the stores in August, September and October from megastars, neophytes and grrl-rock veterans.
First off, Warner Bros. released k.d. langís Live by Request CD, to back up a DVD and VHS release of her December 14, 2000 show at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at New Yorkís City University.
The August 14 release covers the lang bases, featuring an array, stylistically, of music covering the extremes of her career. "Big Boned Gal" gives the listener a feel of langís rockabilly, Canadian country-western style, off her 1989 album Absolute Torch & Twan. Her reinvention as a glamor-dyke extraordinaire appears with songs like "Constant Craving" (from the 1992 album Ingenue) taking her out of the realm of the crooner and into the domain of the chanteuse, the torch singer.
The crowd noise, as is often the case with live albums, can be quite intrusive, but if that is not a concern, then this album deserves a spot on every music loverís CD rack.
Itís interesting, in a way, that being a vegetarian has been more of an issue for k.d. langís career than being Canadian or lesbian, and this album quite brilliantly shows why: Sheís just that damned good.
(On a side note, what ever happened to the Reclines? Back in the day, k.d. lang had a bunch of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation specials, crooning to the masses with this band. Where are they now?)
Langís "Black Coffee" can practically out-blues Ella Fitzgerald, and her solo rendition of "Crying" almost makes the audience forget that Roy Orbisonís duet on the song with lang launched her career in the United States. One can almost detect a touch of wistfulness in langís voice as she sings it, as if itís the first time since his death that she belted it out. The French café feel of the "Miss Chatelaine" opening accordions is met with thunderous applause before the vocals even think of beginning.
Once it gets to "Constant Craving," all bets are off. That song is enough to remind the most jaded of listeners why lang has become a crossover success on so many different levels. Her voice is at its most heavenly.
September sees the release of Bitch and Animalís Eternally Hard. B íní A just played the Michigan Womynís Music Festival, where they held the audience enraptured.
For those that didnít make the festival, Bitch and Animal alternate between sounding cute, thoughtful, angry and funky on their sophomore effort. Sometimes they even hit multiple tones in a single song, like the standout "Pissed," where funky and angry cohabit and end up producing some interesting harmonies.
Harmony is kind of the name of the game in this album; some otherwise low-key songs are really brought to life with the harmony of the womenís voices giving an added level to the songs.
In addition to the usual array of love songs and anger songs, there is also humor in abundance, like in the song "Sparkly Queen Areola," a Celtic-sounding song with blessings for the modern day, like "May your MetroCard never run out," and "May the city not degrade you." The best would probably be "May your nipple always serve you."
And, of course, if good music and wicked wit arenít enough to sell someone on an album, both Bitch and Animal (and itís hard to tell one from the other) are cute lilí sprouts.
The album was co-produced by Ani DiFranco, one of recent historyís most notable victims of identity politics, and Wayne "Dutch Boy" Schrengohst. Both did a fantastic job, and the range of instrumentation on the album is phenomenal.
One of the problems with listening to an album as you write its review is, oneís favorite song can change while writing the review. This CD is getting turned off before it changes again. Just listen to track ten, "Ganja." Itís hysterical.
In October, Le Tigre puts out their third release, Feminist Sweepstakes. Kathleen Hanna and Johanna Fateman are joined by a new bandmate, J.D. Sampson, for this tour-de-force grrrl-rrrock album that shows the bandís influences quite clearly.
Thereís a dash of the seminal chicks-with-guitars band The Runaways, who introduced the world to Lita Ford (boo!) and Joan Jett (yay!). Thereís a cupful of early-80s British post-punk. And, of course, a heaping helping of do-it-yourself electronic music, since Le Tigre is as much a queer electronic band as anything else.
Another thought should be voiced here. Many bands suffer sorely when a founding member leaves. For Duran Duran, the loss of a couple of Taylors was almost a death blow, for instance.
However, the loss of Sadie Benning, who left Le Tigre to pursue her career in video art, may have changed the tenor of the band slightly, but her replacement J.D. Sampson, a founding member of Dykes Can Dance, a dance/activist troupe, should serve the band in good stead.
Reviewing a Le Tigre album, or any Kathleen Hanna work, for that matter, is next to pointless. Nobody walks into a museum and points to a Rembrandt and says, "I donít think he really captured the feel of the scene."
Similarly, Hanna and the people she works with are consistently the yardstick by which the new wave of womenís music are measured. They are to the current generation what Phranc and Michelle Shocked were ten years ago, what Cris Williamson and Tret Fure were twenty years ago. History will find them to be what those other women are, legends.
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