Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Robert's Rules

It's really dumb to reduce a person's life to a blog post, but Robert Hilferty, who died suddenly July 24 after a months-long suffering from a head injury, was one of my more pivotal early friendships among the ACT UP tribe.

Peter Staley writes about him for the POZ blog. The two were the Cutest ACT UP Couple hands down.

David Adler remembers Robert, and includes a short video of him dancing in the streets of Morocco.

Michael Petrelis posted a string if emails that tell the specifics.

The Village Voice and New York Magazine have links to his recent articles. But his own blog collects them in a better order.

Time Out NY includes an obit and a clip of Robert interviewing author William Gibson.

My connection with Robert goes back to my first days with the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, when he was boyfriends with Peter Staley. Robert could out-talk anyone, and his erudite charm inspired me to look beyond the lockstep rhetoric of activism and gay rights. I was also a freshman arts writer by then, and he offered advice and flirtatious camaraderie.

It was at an early organizational meeting for the infamous Stop the Church demo that Robert handed me his video camera, since he knew I'd worked on films. I got to shoot a few minutes of footage for what became Stop the Church, his controversial mini-documentary of the St. Patrick's Cathedral protest. When the PBS show POV cancelled its scheduled airing of the video, I interviewed him for the San Francisco Sentinel (I was still in NYC). I'll find that article among my boxes of files and scan it, or among my Word files.

I think Robert would be amused by this description of his video, from the National Alliance Against Christian Discrimination:
"Robert Hilferty's film, Stop the Church, won an award for the 'Best Commentary' at the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Mr. Hilferty is a member of Act-Up, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power. This film is filled with epitaphs against the Roman Catholic Church because of its position on homosexuality. The church is described as hypocritical and filled with hate. One man on the film states that the 'Catholic church is an archaic, anachronistic, futilist leftover which practices ritual sacrifice on the bodies of gay men, lesbians, women, and people of color.'" (Scenes from the Documentary PBS Yanked, Washington Post, Aug. 14, '91 at C-1.)

Robert also shot the hilarious documentation of TAG activists placing a huge condom over the DC-area home of Jessee Helms.

Anyway, Robert went on with his life in New York, continuing to be a successful arts critic. One of the stories I found online was his feature article about choreographer Merce Cunningham, who died only a few days after Robert.

In the midst of this odd flurry of celebrity deaths, Robert's passing has struck me hardest. Perhaps because I recall how naive and impressionable I was when we met, how great a turn my life took in those days, how the power of the written word, the media moment, the vibrancy of well-placed anger, and how it could each effect change. Perhaps it's the suddenness when someone your own age dies. Perhaps it's the remorse of not staying in touch.

I remember some post-ACT UP meeting group dinner where pretty much everyone else had grown tired of our rapid-fire dialogue about some arts theory or criticism. I don't remember what it was about, just that he could argue some point with such persistence, and still smile and joke about it.

Music critic Alex Ross states that Robert Hilferty was "an elegant writer, a passionate listener, a gifted filmmaker, and an uncommon bright spirit, whose beaming face was a fixture in New York concert halls. I hope his wonderful film about Milton Babbitt, Portrait of a Serial Composer, will soon be released."

Oh, Ricky, You're So Fine

Ricky Berens' Victorian swimsuit suddenly became a Bruno costume at the Rome World Championships. And I thought watching Alexandre Despatie dive was the hottest thing.

Hey, if Huffington Post shows the cute butt pics, so can I.

For info on the actual race
, read on.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jay (Song)Bird

The folk-influenced melodies of Jay Brannan reveal a tenderhearted musicality. But listen closer to his lyrics and a harder edge reveals itself. Mix in a few appropriate yet blunt naughty words, and you've got one of the sweetest angst-ridden crooners around.

The cute folk indie singer who starred in the film Shortbus returns to Bottom of the Hill, Friday July 24. Brannan will play his own catchy songs and covers from his new CD, In Living Cover. Terra Naomi and Two Sheds also perform. $12-$14. 9pm. 1233 17th St. at Missouri. 621-4455. www.jaybrannan.com www.bottomofthehill.com

Read more at www.ebar.com

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wheely Awful

From YouTube via JoeMyGod: Why bike messengers and cyclists get a bad reputation; some of them are violent jerks.

Turning right on your bike into an intersection with pedestrians; it's something I do each day, several times a day.

Rule 1: Walking humans ALWAYS go first, jerk.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hits and Misses

The worst of the best? Pretty much, since while I'm happy I got medals in each of my three field events (discus, shotput and javelin), while in truth, I was the least accomplished of all competitors, being bested by seniors 20 years older than me.

Of course, I'd only trained a few hours this year (aside from gym-going, which added strength, but not skill) in my events at San Francisco Track and Field's third annual Pride Meet.

Yet, since it was held at San Francisco State University's Cox Stadium, I felt a sense of pride outside of it being a predominantly LGBT event. Several straight field veterans and some younger college-level guys threw, ran, and jumped. And we did it on the field of my alma mater (Masters in English/Creative Writing, Class of '97) and the site of the first two Gay Games track events, held in 1982 and 1986. (Team cofounder Rick Thoman is shown throwing shotput).

That bit of sports history was well documented in a 1982 video made by the late Robert I. Hunter. His footage was shown in Sporting Life, the exhibit I curated for the GLBT Historical Society. A DVD transfer of that was shown at the Gay Games VI film festival in Chicago in 2006.

And a few clips of Hunter's video, including his verité footage of the first Gay Games opening ceremonies, were included in the new documentary Claiming the Title: Gay Olympics on Trial, which premiered at this year's Frameline LGBT Film Festival. When the directors contacted me about footage for their film, I told them exactly where on a shelf in the archives they could find this amazing pair of films.

So, it wasn't just the fact that I threw a few objects on a field. It was an extension of the legacy I have come to cherish and admire. I sucked, but I felt good, despite the subsequent sunburn, heel blister, and sore back.

Then, there was one historic moment I was glad to have avoided. When distance runner David Serrano (shown running the foreground on the track pic) offered me a ride home, exhausted, I gladly accepted. We passed a few police cars blocking off a street near the West Portal station, but didn't know what had happened, and what I missed witnessing by half an hour. I'd been taking the M train to and from practices, and regularly passed through the West Portal Station.

Only a short time before I avoided the train ride home, I missed what would have been a very long wait for a train. At that station, the worst accident in MUNI history had just occurred. Nearly 50 people were injured. It was a terrible mess, and a horror for those involved, reports the SF Chronicle.

So, I'm relieved to merely have a few small sore spots, and good timing, at least off the field.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

High Ride

Remember Missy Giove, the out lesbian mountain bike champion?

Well, she's in jail, as reported in the Denver Post.

The iconic mountain biker, who resided in Durango for more than a decade, won 14 national titles and was the world champion downhill racer in 1994. She screamed down slopes on the edge of control, landing in either an ambulance or on the podium.

Her persona — she dangled a dried piranha around her neck and tucked her dead dog's ashes in her bra when she raced — and talent made her mountain biking's highest-paid athlete, earning her well over $2 million.

Then last month, six years after she formally retired from racing, federal agents busted the 37-year-old and an accomplice with 400 pounds of marijuana and $1 million in cash.

"Everyone in the circle of
Missy Giove was mountain biking's "first rock star." She faces drug-trafficking charges. (The Denver Post)
mountain biking is shocked by the news — not because she was arrested, because that was not surprising. She had numerous car wrecks and slight problems with authority," said Giove's longtime friend and former bike racer Craig Glaspell. "The fact she might be involved in some pretty heavy drug trafficking is the crazy thing. I mean, real crazy."

According to authorities, on June 16, a team of federal drug cops watched Giove meet a confidential informant at a hotel in Albany, N.Y., and drive away in a rented truck pulling her own trailer. Cops had already found 350 pounds of marijuana in the trailer. Giove drove the rig to the Wilton, N.Y., home of Eric Canori, 30, where police found another 50 pounds of the weed and $1 million packed into a duffel bag in a hallway closet.

Days after her arrest, her public defender, Tim Austin, alleged the drugs were planted in Giove's possession, possibly by police. Her next hearing is scheduled Tuesday.

While it was shocking to hear of Giove's arrest, her friends say it is not that surprising that "Missy the Missile" would be found at the top level of anything she was doing.

"When she was riding, she was willing to throw it all out there. She was either going to win or crash hard," said Scott Montgomery, who, as vice president of marketing for Cannondale in the mid-1990s, enlisted Giove to ride for his team. "She was mountain biking's first rock star. She transcended the sport. She was larger than life."

She was sponsored by Reebok. She appeared on MTV, Conan O'Brien's show and David Letterman's "Late Show." She drew thousands of fans to formerly obscure mountain-biking events.

She was unquestionably gifted on her bike and carefully fostered her Dennis Rodman-esque image.

"That got her a huge amount of publicity, attention and money," said Alison Dunlap, a professional mountain biker who raced cross country during Giove's downhill blitzkrieg. "She knew what she was doing."

But she didn't roll like a rock star. Yes, she trained part time in the south of France. But in Durango, she drove a modest car and lived in a yurt behind a friend's house. It was her father, who died three years ago, who secured big dollars for his daughter.

Montgomery remembers a "shrewd and tough" Ben Giove, working with executives at Cannondale and Volvo on her sponsorship contract. She earned $250,000 a year after her world title in '94. In 1997, Cannondale-Volvo upped Giove's year-long contract to $450,000.

That's a lotta pot. Dang.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Wheely Chic

Oh, Georgio. We all knew that bicycling is gorgeously chic. And oh so greeen. And nothing proves the existence of God more than a hunky shirtless man on a bike.

But thanks for making it official in the fashion world.

More from Riding Pretty, Cyclelicio.us, OhLaLa, and Fashism.

Notice the trend back to big thick tires. Take that, Fixie snobs.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Patriotic Dissent

Two distinctly American landmarks were blessed by some very well-planned demonstrations this week.

Twenty-six AIDS activists were arrested
in the Capitol Building's rotunda this morning is a protest over President Obama's refusal to lift a ban on needle exchanges, something he promised to do during his campaign.

By 10:45, police had arrested 11 men and 15 women. Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said they would all be charged with unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct, loud and boisterous. Schneider said the protesters bound themselves together with plastic chains. They then became “really noisy,” she added, and officers decided that they should be arrested. Those arrested are being transported to a processing facility at 67 K St. SW. The activists, who come from a coalition of groups, could be heard yelling “clean needles save lives” as they were being handcuffed. Eustacia Smith, a volunteer with Health Global Access Project, said Obama had made a “number of promises” on AIDS funding and so far had not delivered. Those arrested come from several groups, including Health GAP, Housing Works, DC Fights Back and ACT UP Philadelphia.

Greenpeace hung a banner over Mount Rushmore.

The 65-foot by 35-foot banner — which read "America Honors Leaders, Not Politicians: Stop Global Warming" — was hung to the immediate right of Lincoln at about 10 a.m. local time, said Patty Rooney, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service's Midwest Regional Office. She said an undetermined number of people were taken into custody following the incident. Daniel Kessler, a spokesman for Greenpeace, said 11 people were detained, but it was not clear how many of them were Greenpeace employees. No injuries were reported. Park workers are trying to remove the banner, Rooney said, but strong winds have complicated the process. "It is not down yet," she said shortly before noon. She said park workers will assess damage to the 5,725-foot mountain once the banner is down.

And in relentless online beverage protest department, My Facebook pal Aaron got a good bit of appeasement from RockStar "Energy" (i.e. noxious caffeine and sugar) Drink. They tossed some cash their way and said they don't hate the gays, even though the father of the owner is psychotic twit Micheal "Savage" Wiener.

For dessert? Candy. Not.
See's Candy prefers to close its Union Square shoppe rather than comply with San Francisco's LGBT-inclusive employee practices. Buh-bye, fundie chocos. Go make some other city fatter.

It's so tough to boycott things you'd never consume anyway. I'd go protest, but doing it in front of a candy store?

As Greenpeace's Michael Crocker, said, "There are times when you have to break the law to do what's right."

Or even what some would call stupid. Whatever it takes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Palin, failin', keeps wailin' while bailin'

Rachel Maddow dares to examine the folksy faux fish front of Mrs. Alaska Crazy with that darn LOGIC.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Wave this Flag


This is an evolving protest flag for equal marriage rights in the United States.
The stars on the Jan 1, 2010 flag represent the states that actively perform same-sex marriages. Stars are arranged on the blue field in order of each state's admission into the union.

The six-star flag of equal marriage

The stars are:
Massachusetts - #6 - May 17, 2004
Connecticut - #5 - Nov 12, 2008
Iowa - #29 - Apr 24, 2009
Vermont - #14 - Sep 1, 2009
Maine - #23 - Sep 14, 2009
New Hampshire - #9 - Jan 1, 2010

We want the flag of equal marriage to be complete, with all 50 stars lit up. We see three ways equal marriage, as we define it, could be achieved:

1. Every individual state could pass a law allowing same-sex marriage.
2. The federal government could repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and allow same-sex marriage at the federal level, overriding all state-level bans.
3. The term "marriage" could be removed from state and/or federal laws, turning all "marriages" into civil unions in the eyes of the government. PLUS, same-sex civil unions would need to be recognized in all 50 states or at the federal level.

Our protest flag helps you track our progress toward completion of one of these three goals.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Quittin' Time

From her tacky back yard in Wasilla, Alaska, sociopathic Gov. Sarah Palin accomplished one thing as she announced her impending resignation.

She bumped the endless stream of Michael Jackson news stories off the TV and interwebs for a day.

As a scathing feature article about her in Vanity Fair hits newsstands, rightwing blatherers are simultaneously going through the five stages of grief, and spinning her quit act as a smart "strategery" that'll give her the freedom to apparently do her little Klan Burlesque act at Elks lodges nationwide.

Or, who knows? Maybe the monstrously clueless woman thinks that not being governor will prevent her from being sued for her numerous impending ethics violation citations.

The loose cannon will be even more loose, not unlike her strange rambling quit speech (see video posted on JoeMyGod). Let the people see what a true nutbag she is.

Oh, wait. They did, and she lost the presidential election for McCain. Meanwhile, Alaskans heave a sigh of relief.