Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Gratuitous Brunette: Sarah Silverman

It always amuses me to read about how someone's been offended by Sarah Silverman; I mean, one doesn't often read about how someone's been informed by Brian Williams, although there is a plethora of material on the Internet about exactly who's spanking it to Gisele Bundchen...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBy offending you, you see, Sarah Silverman is only doing her job; besides which, anyone offended by Silverman had better stay away from Lisa Lampinelli, Jason Rouse, or Karl Rove. There's far worse out there, is all I'm saying.

Not that I'm not easily offended - far from it; I have thinner skin than an apricot. I just prefer to be offended by a co-worker uttering a hateful epithet - or even by a seatmate on the bus directing their invective directly at me - than anything a person who's being paid to shock me with jokes might have to say. There's more than enough out there to keep me offended without my going out looking for more, thank you very much. Yet many of the professionally offended continue to take her bait time and time again; honestly, I don't know how they manage to get through the day...

In the meantime I plan to go on admiring her fearless takedowns of bigotry and misogyny and yes, occasionally even homophobia, for a long time to come. In the meantime, I guess, I can always dip into the vault and rewatch an earlier show of hers, the pseudo-raunchy puppet-fest Greg the Bunny. In fact, I can't think of a better way to celebrate this lady's birthday!
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"You Do Something To Me" by Sinead O'Connor

And finally, what World AIDS Day video hat trick would be complete without Sinéad 'Don't Call Me Shine-Head' O'Connor, who recorded the classic 1929 Cole Porter song You Do Something To Me for the 1990 album Red Hot + Blue...

That's Sinead in there, stifled under a lot of wig and slap, disguised as Veronica Lake in a beautiful 1940s-themed video very stylishly directed by John Maybury.
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"That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne Warwick & Friends

That's What Friends Are For is the granddaddy of all the AIDS charity songs, released as it was all the way back in 1985 to benefit AmFAR; alongside Dionne Warwick are Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Burt Bacharach (who co-wrote the track with Carole Bayer Sager). Originally introduced by Rod Stewart for the soundtrack of the film Night Shift, the cover version shown here eventually raised $3 million for AIDS relief early on, when the stigma around the disease hampered such fund-raising efforts.

The song would eventually spend four weeks at the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1986, and was later certified as the best-selling song of that year in the United States.

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"The Day After That" by Liza Minnelli

This 1993 song was written for, and the proceeds from its sale were to benefit, AIDS charities; it's performed here by a little-known singer named Liza Minnelli, who apparently has quite a following among gay men - just in case you were as in the dark about that as I was!

In all seriousness, The Day After That was written by Kander and Ebb and recorded by their muse to shed light on a crisis which kills indiscriminately, weakens economies in the developing world, and is still very much with us after all these years...
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What's The Occasion? World AIDS Day

Today marks the twenty-second observation of December 1st as World AIDS Day; to date, AIDS has killed more than 25 million people worldwide, and more than 38 million are currently living with HIV. In both cases most of these are in the developing world...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketDecember 1st also used to be called The Day Without Art, a day on which creative types were to let their hands fall silent in memory of their colleagues who'd succumbed to the disease; understandably, I never observed this custom, and it seems to have fallen out of favour in general, although I'm sure there's no connection between the two.

I believe in using my art - not just on this day but throughout the year - to bring to light into the darkest corners; the idea of sacrificing that form of expression to remember people who did likewise seemed counter-intuitive, as my art is not only how I remember but how I remind myself that I am alive.

I'm very lucky when it comes to my friends and AIDS/HIV; one death and only a few infections - not so bad considering the devastation caused to some. I fear though, since HIV infection is currently on the rise - thanks to the prevalence of bug-chasers and the universal notion that HIV is somehow survivable - that my numbers have nowhere to go but up...
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Pop History Moment: Rosa Parks Overcame

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOn this day in 1955, mild-mannered seamstress Rosa Parks refused bus driver James Blake's order to give up her seat to a white passenger (despite the fact that three of her fellow passengers complied with the request), and so rode that bus all the way to history...

The ensuing Montgomery Bus Boycott launched the public career of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., made Parks a household name, and changed race relations in the United States for all time by challenging Jim Crow laws which attempted to create segregated space in 'The Land of the Free' where 'all men are created equal'. Despite the cruelties of the White Citizens' Council the boycott lasted more than a year, with the US Supreme Court finally resolving the impasse by forcing the desegregation of buses.

For her trouble, Rosa Parks was arrested, and fined $14.
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Happy Birthday Your Imperial Highness

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMost little girls are perfect angels, who never cause anyone anything but joy; Princess Aiko, The Princess Toshi, on the other hand, caused an entire constitutional crisis in Japan all by her cute little self.

Women, you see, aren't allowed to be Emperor (or even Empress regnant) of Japan; the notable exceptions being from the time of Empress Gemmei - who was followed onto the throne by her daughter Empress Genshō in October 715 CE - and before. While Empress Genshō had been Japan's sixth Empress regnant she was also the last...

But the Imperial Family, while renowned for their learning and charity, can't seem to produce a Y chromosome for love nor Yen. It looked like clear sailing all the way to the Chrysanthemum Throne for little Aiko here (born on this day in 2001); until, that is, the arrival of Prince Hisahito in September 2006.

Only time will tell if the Japanese - whose society has been straining at the seams for a couple of decades now owing to its hidebound adherence to orthodoxy - will some day choose a little girl to lead them...
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Dick Cavett Interviews Woody Allen (1971)

I first came across this interview when I was reading Eric Lax's great biography of Woody Allen a couple of years ago, and as a result was eager to explore examples of Woody's early career as described there.  When I first encountered it, of course, there were six parts to this interview, and I watched the entire thing; that's since been removed, but I thought when it came to repost something today on the occasion of Woody's 75th birthday the clip where he talks about psychoanalysis somehow seemed the most apt for these proceedings.

Watch it and savour the interplay between its inherently earthy Woody-ness and its Cavett-y insouciance... Or whatever.
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POPnews - December 1st

[George Jorgensen's meeting of Sweden's Dr. Christian Hamburger brought about the startling transformation known as Christine Jorgensen; rattling the staid sexual orthodoxy of the 1950s in the process was just a bonus.]

1640 - The Iberian Union came to an end when Portugal acclaimed João IV as its king, thus ending a 60-year period of personal union of the crowns of Portugal and Spain and the end of the rule of the House of Habsburg (also called the Philippine Dynasty) in that country.

1768 - The slave ship Fredensborg sank off the Norwegian coast near the town of Tromøy.

1822 - Pedro I was crowned Emperor of Brazil.

1834 - Slavery was abolished in the Cape Colony in accordance with the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which called for the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire.

1860 - Charles Dickens serialized the first part of his novel Great Expectations in his own magazine, All the Year Round.

1913 - Crete - having obtained self-rule from Turkey after the first Balkan War - was annexed by Greece.

1918 - The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) was proclaimed.

1919 - Lady Astor became Britain's first woman Parliamentarian when she took her seat at Westminster as a Unionist, representing the constituency of Plymouth Sutton, three days after her election.

1941 - New York City's Mayor Fiorello La Guardia - doing double duty as Director of the Office of Civilian Defense - signed Administrative Order 9, creating the Civil Air Patrol.

1952 - The New York Daily News reported the news of Christine Jorgensen, the first notable case of a gender reassignment operation.

1955 - Seamstress Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man and was arrested for violating the city's racial segregation laws, an incident which led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

1958 - A fire at Chicago's Our Lady of the Angels School claimed the lives of 92 pupils and three nuns.

1959 - The Antarctic Treaty - which set aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve and under its own Article I banned military activity on that continent - was opened for signature; the first 12 signatories were Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. The treaty's Article I was the Cold War era's first such proscription against militarism.

1963 - Nagaland became India's 16th state.

1973 - Papua New Guinea became self-governing, and would obtain full independence from Australia following a peaceful transition of power in September 1975.

1981 - The AIDS virus was officially recognized; today this event is commemorated around the world as World AIDS Day, which has been observed since 1988.

1982 - Michael Jackson released Thriller, which would go on to be the biggest selling album of all time.

1989 - The right-wing military rebel group Reform the Armed forces Movement (RAM) - comprised principally of Ferdinand Marcos loyalists - attempted to oust Philippine President Corazon Aquino in a failed coup d' etat.

1990 - French and UK Channel Tunnel excavations met in the middle - 40 meters beneath the seabed of the English Channel/La Manche - joining Britain to mainland Europe for the first time in 8,000 years.
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