Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Private Idaho" by The B-52s

Well, I decided to mark the birthday of Ricky Wilson in March, and since I can't seem to get enough of The B-52's, I thought I might as well mark the occasion of his death - on this day in 1985 - as well. He was, of course, the first member of the band to die, in addition to being one of the first celebrity casualties of AIDS; the band's most successful album, Cosmic Thing, was recorded as a tribute to him.

Private Idaho was the first single off the band's second album, Wild Planet, in 1980; the song was to later inspire director Gus Van Sant's 1991 film My Own Private Idaho.

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Happy Bjirthday Kristen Bjorn

In the years since I first published birthday wishes for noted filmmaker Kristen Bjorn - on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday in 2007 - that post has driven my traffic like a model drives another model in any of the videographic masterpieces he's produced. Even though it wasn't done through any intention of his own, Kristen Bjorn has done more to help my business than anyone aside from me. Alas, the best way I have to show him my appreciation he don't want, so I decided to write this as a consolation prize - for both of us...

PhotobucketBjorn's career in all-male erotica began in the late 70s - in front of Fred Bisonnes' camera, appearing in über-classy orgasm outlet Advocate Men Live; graduating from still photos to video, Bjorn likely realized early on that the only real money in porn is in production. In 1988 he shot Tropical Heatwave, his first feature, but his first shot at actual hardcore came during his next video, Carnival in Rio. (And I do mean came!)

Bjorn's specialty as a pornographer is and has always been ethnic men; at a time when the majority of the world's porn was being produced in LA's San Fernando Valley and featured the finest of California's gym, disco, and/or beach clones, Bjorn made the genius decision to visit Brazil, Eastern Europe, and even Australia in search of unique looking hot men willing to have sex with each other for money. Thanks to him, gay porn is now being made all over the world; as if this act of foresight wasn't enough, Bjorn not only refused to play coy over whether or not his models were 'all the way gay' but decided to accept that some gay guys prefer to watch straight guys going at it, and decided to market it.

Of course, the downside of getting all these straight guys to bang each other on film is that there is always the risk of creating a Matt Sanchez - who appeared in Bjorn's North-of-the-Border epic Montreal Men as Pierre LaBranche, despite being neither gay nor Canadian. Sanchez later proved a versatile performer; while on camera in porno he was a top, when it came to later parroting Republican bilge on cable news shows he's a very naughty puppet indeed. (If you know what I mean...) Still, for all the good Kristen Bjorn has done in the world, I suppose creating the occasional Matt Sanchez doesn't seem so bad.
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The Death of Nancy Spungen

In many ways, Nancy Spungen never had a chance...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBorn six weeks premature and suffering from cyanosis, she exhibited a violent streak early; diagnosed with depression and paranoid schizophrenia in an age before effective treatments for these conditions were available, at the age of 17 she left home and paid her way to London by stripping and prostitution with the express purpose of nabbing herself a rock star boyfriend (she'd reportedly set her cap for Jerry Nolan of the New York Dolls).

She met Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols instead, and moved in with him almost instantly. There followed a famous (and famously stormy) relationship, memorialized by the film Sid and Nancy, in which Spungen was performed with great verve by Chloe Webb.

Nancy Spungen was found in Room 100 - which she shared with Vicious at the Hotel Chelsea - on this day in 1978, dead from a single knife wound to the abdomen; she was just 20. Some blamed Sid Vicious for the crime, others Rockets Redglare*, or one of two drug dealers known to visit them.

In any event, Vicious himself died the following February; having gotten clean while incarcerated at Rikers Island he was dealt a small amount of very pure heroin by his mother - herself an addict - which was all it took to bring the foremost love story of the punk era to a sad close.

*Who himself died in May 2001 at the age of 52.
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"Take Me Home Country Roads" by John Denver

Singer-songwriter and humanitarian John Denver died on this day in 1997 when the small plane he was piloting crashed shortly after taking off from the Monterey Peninsula Airport near Pacific Grove, California.

Frequently mocked for his wholesome image, Denver's message of kinship with the Earth resonates especially today; here then from his 1971 breakout album Poems, Prayers, and Promises is Take Me Home, Country Roads.
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Pop History Moment: The Death of Matthew Shepard

On October 7th, 1998, student Matthew Shepard met Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney at the Fireside Lounge on the campus of the University of Wyoming in Laramie...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhat happened next will never be fully known; Henderson and McKinney have since given contradictory testimony (as have their 'girlfriends'), and Matthew is dead. What we do know is that his attackers savagely beat him and left him for dead on a fence in a remote area, where he wasn't found for 18 hours...

Matthew died on this day in 1998.

Clearly a somewhat effete man - 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighing 105 pounds - was a major threat to his two larger and stronger attackers; they later claimed that he propositioned them sexually, and in court invoked the uber-weaselly gay panic defense in support of this claim.

Personally, I believe the only gay panic involved in this instance belongs to these monsters who were so insecure in their sexuality that they killed Matthew, rather than just - oh, I don't know - saying no. Hopefully their years in jail have sorted out Henderson and McKinney's ambivalence towards man-on-man action.

Matthew Shepard's murder had an immediate impact upon me that the years have done little to assuage. Of course, I have always lived with the idea - as do all gay men - that at any minute I could be murdered by closet cases like Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney. The reluctance I have always had in dealing with straight men became full-on paranoia that fateful day, and resonates still, twelve long years later...

[S O U R C E]
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In Memoriam: Edward VI

Despite being physically slight, the boy who became Edward VI at the age of 9 was intellectually mighty; of course, as heir to one of Europe's most learned Kings, he had access to the best of tutors, including Bishop Richard Cox, Sir John Cheke and Jean Belmain. The first King of England to be Protestant from birth, he was also renowned as a humanist in the fashion of Erasmus.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour (whom Henry VII always described as his 'true wife', and whose death when Edward was 12 days old threw the King into a grief from which he never fully recovered), Edward VI had the great misfortune to come to the throne at a time of ambitious men, most of whom used their place on the 16-member Council of Regency stipulated by Henry VIII's will to advance their own interests above either the king's or their country's.

Among these was the Duke of Suffolk, whose machinations (possibly with Edward's approval) would have had his daughter Lady Jane Grey succeed Edward in lieu of the rightful heir, his half-sister the Catholic Princess Mary.

Edward VI died in July 1553, propelling Lady Jane Grey toward her grisly fate, raising Mary to the throne - where she would become known as Bloody Mary - and leaving the kingdom in much turmoil for five years, until Edward's other half-sister, the Protestant Elizabeth I ascended the throne and finally afforded England some stability.
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Gratuitous Brunette: Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman is among the elite group of celebrities upon whom I have actually laid eyes...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAnd if it were up to me I'd have laid more than my eyes on him. Badump-tish!

Thank you. I'll be here all week... Try the veal!

No, but seriously, I was walking in Vancouver's Yaletown one bitterly cold morning near the end of 2006 when ahead of me I spotted a very tall man hulking towards me. The first thing I noticed (okay, it about the fifth thing, but it all happened in a flash) was that he was wearing these huge Wolverine-style sideburns.

For just a nanosecond I thought: 'What a wannabe...' That's when it hit me. The parking meter I walked into, that is.  I had just seen Hugh Jackman in the immense, muscular flesh!

He loped across the street, oblivious to my goofiness, and I got a good four or five second glimpse at his ass before he ducked behind a BMW and then out of sight.

Those were the best four or five seconds of my life to date, and I have Hugh Jackman to thank for that, so thank you Hugh Jackman, and Heppy Burthdye Myte*!

*The written approximation of Happy Birthday Mate in my notoriously shitty Australian accent.

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"One More Colour" by Jane Siberry

I've always loved this song for it's loopy ethereality; One More Colour is taken from 1985's The Speckless Sky, birthday gal Jane Siberry's follow-up to her 1984 break-through album No Borders Here.
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POPnews - October 12th

[As badly damaged as it was, Brighton's Grand Hotel
was nowhere near as bombed as it is possible to
get in this seemingly genteel seaside town.

1216 - England's King John lost his royal treasure - including the Anglo-Saxon Crown Jewels, a fortune in coins, and many faithful retainers but thankfully not the Great Seal of England - in The Wash, possibly near Fosdyke or else while crossing Sutton Bridge; so distraught was he by the terrible turn of events, he died within a week during a visit to Newark Castle.

1654 - The Delft Explosion devastated that Dutch city, killing more than 100.

1792 - The first Columbus Day was celebrated in New York City.

1793 - The cornerstone of Old East - the oldest state university building in the United States - was laid on the campus of the University of North Carolina.

1810 - The citizens of München joined in the celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen at what was to become the first Oktoberfest.

1822 - Pedro I was declared Emperor of Brazil.

1892 - By an Executive Order of US President Benjamin Harrison the Pledge of Allegiance - written by Francis Bellamy - was first recited in unison by schoolchildren in honour of the 400th anniversary of the 'discovery' of America by Christopher Columbus.

1915 - Edith Cavell was executed for allegedly helping hundreds of soldiers to escape from German-occupied Belgium.

1918 - A massive forest fire killed 453 people in northern Minnesota; hardest hit was the town of Cloquet.

1933 - The US Army Disciplinary Barracks on Alcatraz Island was acquired by the US Department of Justice for possible use as a prison.

1953 - Herman Wouk's play The Caine Mutiny Court Martial - itself based on his 1951 novel The Caine Mutiny - opened in Santa Barbara; following a national tour it made its Broadway debut at New York City's Plymouth Theatre in January 1954 where it ran for 415 performances, while it was being made into a film.

1960 - Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev pounded his shoe on a desk at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly while protesting an assertion by the Filipino delegate Lorenzo Sumulong that the Soviets were then attempting colonialism in Eastern Europe.

1968 - Equatorial Guinea gained its independence from Spain.

1978 - Sex Pistols lead singer Sid Vicious was arrested on murder charges arising from the sudden, unexplained death of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen in Room 100 of Manhattan's notorious Hotel Chelsea earlier that morning.

1984 - IRA bombs damaged the Grand Hotel in Brighton, where Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party were attending a conference; although the bombs narrowly missed killing the Prime Minister, 5 people died, several were permanently disabled, and 34 others hospitalized.

1986 - When Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the People's Republic of China it was the first-ever visit there by a British Head of State.

1988 - Constable Steven Tynan, 22, and Probationary Constable Damian Eyre, 20 - two officers of the Victoria Police - were gunned down execution-style in Australia's Walsh Street police shootings.

1999 - The Earth's population was said to have topped 6 billion.

2000 - The USS Cole was badly damaged by suicide bombers.
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