Misfits Rising

NYC Public Library had a free exhibit documenting the Stonewall Inn in 1969. NYC lights the Empire State Building in rainbow colors. #LGBTPRIDE uses social media to promote the celebrations. STONEWALL 50 has been branded with its own logo.

There is a lot of attention when a milestone anniversary is reached in America. This year marks 50 years since the Stonewall Inn, a dive bar in Greenwich Village, became the epicenter of the modern Gay Rights movement.

Despite the importance of this moment in history it is not taught in public schools. Until this moment in time all homosexuals were thought to be deviant, perverse, and mentally ill.

A history not taught is a history made invisible to the mainstream.

Today many groups that include Women, African-Americans, Latin-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Lesbian, Gay, Trans, Bi, Questioning peoples are struggling to have their stories told. To be rendered visible begins the process of becoming equal under the law.

Following World War II in which many homosexual and lesbian people gave their lives the straight white politics of America reinforced its culture by driving homosexuality into closeted oblivion. No visibility allows demonization. For hundreds of years homosexuals have been murdered and outcast without legal recourse.

Nazi Germany murdered countless homosexuals. Paragraph 175 was a law written when Kaiser Wilhelm was in power. Re-written by the Nazi regime to outlaw homosexuality. A clear example of the danger of letting hate become enshrined in law.

America’s laws have been cruel to minority people since its inception. Only straight white property owners were fully recognized as equal under our laws.

The hard struggle for the emancipation of slaves led to their being set free from their brutal owners. Freedom meant that white men were free to murder them. Their civil rights were not fully recognized until the 1960’s. Their struggle continues to this day. Not allowed to build wealth of any kind, African-Americans have never been able to catch up with whites.

Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bi/Queer/Questioning black people are for this reason not even on par with their white queer brothers and sisters. This must be stated because Stonewall happened in the crucible of the civil rights movement. Collectively our struggles must help each other.

The Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Rights Movement enabled the moment when homosexual and lesbian people could collectively rise together against their oppressors.

In the 1960’s the law proscribed that nobody was allowed to wear three or more articles of clothing that were not gender conforming. Men could not wear any clothing deemed feminine and women could not dress as men. Homosexuality was illegal in many states. You could be fired if you were out. Our culture thought it normal to make fun of homosexuality; violence against our community was deemed legally fit.

Stereotypes of the homosexual as less masculine were reinforced in movies, television shows, and music. Then one fateful day the patrons of Stonewall stood up for themselves.

Keep in mind that many homosexuals were closeted for decades due to the shaming of our queerness for generations. Loss of family, work, and potentially lives were the reason so many remained silent.

This was the reason organized crime took ownership of The Stonewall Inn. Gay bars were not allowed to serve alcohol; dancing was not legal in many establishments.

Before the raids took place someone was usually tipped off that the cops were coming. The liquor would get stashed away. Anyone who was not gender conforming could escape before the patrons were taken away to jail.

On June 28, 1969 the police raided the Stonewall without warning. Several of the patrons in the bar that night refused to take the ill treatment of the police anymore.

Police raids on gay bars was common during the 1950s and 1960s. Patrons would get lined up, names taken, and some officers took it upon themselves to degrade trans people, people of color, lesbians, and gays. The newspapers would publish their pictures. Forcing gays out of the closet without any legal standing happened daily.

The Stonewall Inn’s patrons backed out of the bar leaving the cops inside. They filed out into the narrow streets. They rose up to resist the police. Despite many being dispersed after that first night many people gathered in the following days and nights that resulted in several confrontations with law enforcement.

There were peaceful protests too. Kick lines formed to mock the stereotype used to define and defile the gay community. Judy Garland had just passed away. The myth that her death fueled the riots is pure nonsense. The uprising took place because not being treated as human finally reached the breaking point.

Rocks, bottles, and fists were used to fight back the brutal opposition. Stonewall burned in the ensuing riots. The aftermath would result in other cities taking notice of the new visibility of homosexual and lesbian people. A movement began. San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, and L.A. soon followed with new groups to defend the rights of LGBTQ people.

The first year anniversary of the riots were marked by the first Gay Rights March in Manhattan. It was titled Liberation Day.

In just a few years hundreds of groups would form to defend the rights of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgendered people. The Human Rights Campaign and GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis) are two of the groups I have supported for years.

The first march took place on the first anniversary of the uprising.
Anti-war, Anti-Fascism, and Pro Gay Rights in 1970.

The marches have promoted themes of equality, protest against Presidents who stood against LGBTQ people, and called out policies that hurt our community.

There are still many people in power who choose to oppress rather than lift up minority people.

For the millions who stand up for equality we are not claiming special rights. We want equal rights under the law. To love, marry, raise kids, and live together in a peaceful world. Displaying our bodies in the public square allows us to claim our person hood, bond with others, and be ourselves.

Gay Pride Day has evolved over the decades since the Stonewall Uprising. Today, the march down 5th Avenue to that bar in The Village represents tens of millions of people around the world. Holland, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Russia, Israel, Poland, France, Netherlands, Thailand, Hong Kong, England, Ireland, Chile, and on and on celebrate LGBTQ pride.

The image gallery below shows expressions of pride: Top Left: 3 gay couples kiss. Middle Left: Gay Leather men march. Bottom left: Trans youth celebrate. Top right: A young man celebrates pride, perhaps coming out for the first time. Bottom right: a lesbian couple embrace.

Despite the ongoing threats of ignorant policy makers, hate groups, and others the LGBTQ community includes everyone in our celebrations. Our democratic ideals cannot otherwise be realized.

Thank you reader for taking time to read my blog! Evan’s Gate continues throughout the summer. Feel free to follow this page.

Yours Truly, a couple of years ago.
Showing leather pride in New Haven, CT for Queen’s jukebox musical, “We Will Rock You”.

(Let’s Not) Go Crazy

Middle-age is a great teacher. Like a light switch has flipped. My taste for groups I once obsessed about has ceased. I feel free. Open. Unfortunately the young generation has been trapped into the never-ending selling of a now bygone era.

Classic Rock is the brand stuck to the music released in the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s. The groups/artists that make up that time are old. But they are intent on playing for you if you will pay the exorbitant prices of $90—$500 a seat in a basketball/hockey arena near you. With or without a record to sell, people are going regardless of who is left from original line-ups.

Thinking back on when it began for me….

Since my childhood in the 1970’s the long-playing record or L.P. that rotates at 33 1/3 per minute on a turntable was the only format. There were also 45’s or singles that had 2 songs on them. The A side was the hit; the B side was a song from the same record or a unreleased song that was only available on this 7 inch disc.

The compact disc came along in the mid 1980’s. Bands were expected to make longer albums. In general, longer recordings are not favored by most. Double-albums were shunned by labels due to the difficulty of marketing such releases. The industry went through contractions of big sellers and flops.

That is until our current time when every famous artist of the 20th century has had their demos, radio specials, and other rarities released. The record biz became obsessed with keeping their cash cow, rock music of the 70’s and 80’s, producing revenue for a dying industry.

Most bands stay together 10 years if their lucky. Perhaps 4 albums in their respective catalogs are classics. The business of keeping the hit sellers on top into perpetuity seems to be the end game.

Today there are many hit makers. The middle-aged classic rock mob derides a lot of them. The sad truth is they are unable to let go of their favorites, now oldies. If only people would make space for what is going on today the vinyl record format might return to its former glory at $9.99 a piece.

The concert and artist merchandise has become the main source of income for labels and musicians. The digital downloads of the 21st century have trained the young and old alike to stop buying physical units of music.

I was too young to attend concerts in the 1970’s. The 1980’s was my time. There were plenty of great record stores. In 1982, I remember getting the new releases from Billy Squier, Queen, Iron Maiden and the debut of Men At Work. I loved coming of age during that time. I had some sense that it was special. Records were $9.99 a piece. Concerts were $25—$30. The classic rock canon was still being compiled.

In 1984 Billy Joel at the Garden was $15 for every seat in the house. You had to mail in for the tickets. I got 4 tickets for less than a concert today. Mr. Joel was still in his prime. Today, his fans are spending 4 times this amount to see him in old age. No new records are being made. Nevertheless he is now a franchise playing an ad nauseum open until death run of shows.

I cannot go crazy for this trend of expensive 2 hour events. I am guilty of still being a listener of music. My tastes have changed recently. After a few upcoming shows I will retire from concerts. I will still attend more intimate shows. The rock era is really over.

The next step on keeping old players on stage are holograms! This summer has 2 major hologram tours of literally dead artists. Spoiler, it’s Frank Zappa and Dio.

This brings me to Record Store Day, created primarily to get young people into vinyl records. The event has brought back live recordings, many of which are over priced, back into the spotlight.

I avoid the crowds and lines. I go late morning. As a grown-up I will not wait for hours in lines after which I may or may not get the record I want. I got my first blues record. It’s a new start anyway….at a reasonable price.

This documentary by The Sex Pistols tells of an industry bent on greed.
Neighborhood record store of the 20th Century.

Thank you for reading! More to come….

That Other Vinyl Craze

The ROCKS series of vinyl figures includes icons like Alice Cooper (above).
Ramones, Guns N Roses, Elton John, Prince, Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix, Metallica, and the newest addition to this series—-Queen!

The icons in this series have been among my faves in the long line of vinyl Pops!

Think of how many vocalists are considered iconic. Funko has only begun to scratch the surface.

Fans can request specific Pop figures on social media that the company will then consider for design and distribution.






If you have walked into any big box chain store recently you may have noticed a collectibles department with the heading, Funko. This is the name of a company based in Everett, Washington that holds licenses to dozens of pop culture entities. This has enabled them to design and manufacture over 13,000 figures representing a seemingly infinite variety of esteemed favorites in our beloved popular culture.

I resisted them for years until now. This is because I discovered the line of ROCKS icons that was produced in recent months. My Barnes & Noble’s stores in Manhattan have POP! sections in them. It’s a guilty pleasure to search through the stock to see what they have in store. I research them online before venturing into the field. There is fun to be had from looking at them. You don’t have to buy a lot. The different lines of characters bring up different feelings for each person who encounters them.

There are dozens of categories of figures including: Television, Movies, Animation, Rocks, Books, Sports, AD Icons, Games, Holidays, Looney Tunes, Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and on and on and on.

Think of a favorite program from yesteryear. A moment in a movie. Perhaps a cartoon character from childhood? There is a more than likely chance there is a Pop! figure of it. And the price range is broad: $3.99 up through $20 a pop (literally). A few figures that are much larger in size than the average figure can sell for as much as $30 to $50 a piece.

A recent example of this pricing was late last year, Disney celebrated the 90th birthday of Mickey Mouse with a group of Pop! figures. The largest size Mickey was $50! In New York’s Chelsea there was a Pop-Up store just for Funko Mickey Mouse Pop! vinyl figures. This is an incredibly big business.

I worried for a short while if this became a fad what would become of the joy this brings. Then I pushed those thoughts away to just enjoy them while they are here.

When I considered these fun little accents to my end table which has 4 picture windows for such use I thought of cost. After researching on YouTube and Amazon I made decisions about price. I discovered on sale in stores you can find them for $9. In some cases there are clearance items in stores like B&N and Gamestop. These are $3 to $6 items. I also had a focus on total number of Pop vinyl figures to have and which ones to acquire.

Pairs were a good idea. Two at a time. Perfect for small spaces. From yesteryear I discovered my first Pop! From the Movies line, Wayne & Garth from Wayne’s World; From the Animation line, Boris & Natasha from The Rocky and Bullwinkle show; From the Rocks line, Alice Cooper; From the Rocks line, Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. The last two are only mutual as being icons in music. These figures allow you to express the full range of diverse tastes you have across the broad spectrum of pop culture.

Certain Pop! figures have 3 or 4 or 5 different takes on the same subject. Especially in the ROCKS line: there are 3 Jimi Hendrix; 3 Freddie Mercury, 4 Prince, and 5 Michael Jackson figures! Just 2 Elton John and 2 Alice Cooper.

Surprises happen all the time with Pops. Recently, Funko put out George and Louise Jefferson from the long running sitcom, The Jeffersons. Like I said at the top, just think of a favorite from the culture! I am not buying these figures, but I think it’s fun to see them on a store display. Someone will react to it.

To be released on Tuesday January 29, 2019.
Queen:  Top Row Freddie Mercury (Hot Space Tour); 
Freddie Mercury (News of the World Tour; Freddie Mercury (The Magic Tour) ;
Bottom Row: Roger Taylor (Drums/Vocals); John Deacon (Bass); Brian May (Guitar/Vocals).


The Top Right image mentions FYE Exclusive; Diamond Collection.

Next blog: Exclusives.

The Beatles’ Revolution/ Essay

The most written about music artists of the past century are the fab four from Liverpool: The Beatles.

During their prime parents, politicians, and potentates all had their scouring opinions about them.  Their long hair, loud guitars, and threat to middle class decency pitted them in the role of agitator.

What did they want?  I think they wanted peace.  And this was simply too radical an idea for the war profiteers of the sixties when the band hit upon what I think is their most powerful anthem.

Revolution, written by John Lennon, credited to Lennon-McCartney, is for me the best track on their self-titled masterpiece a.k.a. The White Album.   This record has just been re-issued to celebrate its 50th Anniversary.

If you look at the lyrical structure of this piece it’s quite poetic. Clever use of the words Revolution with Evolution in the song’s first section strongly suggests John Lennon’s belief that change is inevitable.  Over long stretches of time all things change.  He smartly puts forward the question of the methods to apply.  The proposal of destruction is rejected.  And he remains a healthy skeptic with the request to see a plan!

The Beatles managed to anger the movement of war protesters in 1968.  They could not convince anyone that peace could be the end result of our evolving past militarism, tribalism, racism, and plain systemic cruelty.

Now in 2018 this song is still resonant.  Released back in the hippie days as the B-side to Hey Jude, it remains a gem.  Our governments still apply military action over more peaceful proposals.  And our institutions are failing large groups of people.

Solution and Contribution are the next word pairing.  Again we get a plea of everyone is doing what they can.   And ‘if you want money for minds that hate then brother you’ll have to wait’ is a great response line.  Why did right wing pols miss this lyric?  Perhaps their angry minds filtered it out.

And the final pairing of Constitution and Institution is expressing an idea upon which  most people could find common ground.  That it is a personal responsibility to free your mind instead of being so dependent on the mechanics of legal issues.

Be careful about wishing for revolution for the act could be quite destructive.  After all ‘don’t you know it’s gonna be alright’?

We are still here.  I hope we get closer to peace someday.  For now play this song because it offers hope.

revolution

(Above) The sheet music for “Revolution” (1968).

Killer Queen Exhibit/ Review

At the Morrison Hotel Gallery at 116 Prince Street, 2nd Floor in New York City, an evening with legendary photographer Mick Rock was on tap to celebrate the band Queen in the wake of their new film, “Bohemian Rhapsody”. This is an exhibition and sale of images taken between 1974 and 1982.

Upon entering the space the song Killer Queen was setting the mood as I saw the first photographic images of Freddie Mercury and Queen from 1974 when Mr. Rock created the now iconic images of the Queen II cover and interior gatefold sleeve.

Sitting down at the left side end was the man himself.  I approached to find a distinguished fellow who insisted on a fist bump.  I informed him of my love for his work as well as Queen.  Thanks to prodding by my very loving husband, Brian Lipton, and his press credentials that allowed me to have this amazing experience, I met one of my heroes.

After decades of appreciating his work for artists like David Bowie, Lou Reed, The Ramones, and many others it’s his photos of Queen that have had the most staying power.  Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon have had this mania inducing power over me since I was a kid.  They were a fab four like creation.

The songs they wrote included story songs like “Brighton Rock” about two kids off to have a love affair away from prying parents.  “March of the Black Queen” on the second album was about a Lewis Carroll type monarch whose wrath you do not want to feel.  Like the Beatles the lyrics are very tounge in cheek.  And Mick Rock’s portrait of Freddie is like the darkness incarnate of this character he sings about.

Inspired by golden age of Hollywood star Marlene Dietrich the photographic image of Freddie with arms crossed, eyes totally askance as if in trance,  and sexually alluring.  This is the image I was fortunate to gain as an early birthday gift from my Brian.  Thank you my dear for being so supportive.

The Morrison Hotel Gallery is open This showing is open to the public through November 10th.

Monday – Saturday: 11:00am – 7:00pm
Sunday: 12:00pm – 6:00pm
212.941.8770

20181108_114645 Mr. Rock (top right corner).  The inner gatefold image of Queen II (middle left).  Bottom L-R:  Freddie Mercury 1974 in his Marlene Dietrich pose, onstage with chainmail glove; in Zandra Rhodes designed frock for their tour.

 

Barbra Streisand/Walls

barbra-streisand-walls-1538052960-640x640

This Friday, November 2nd, “Walls” will be released on Columbia by Sony Music marking Barbra Streisand’s 36th album release.  Ahead of the record are 3 singles now available on Amazon music and YouTube.  I will review these songs in today’s blog.  

“Don’t Lie To Me” (3:57)  

A very strong protest against the total lack of empathy shown by the current President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.  This track has a lustrous pleading tone throughout with its constant cry of the desperate need for real truth telling in this age of isolation and hate.  Not a partisan mea culpa, this record’s first 3 singles make a broader statement that we are a people not a party, and we must look to each other for a brighter future.

With very somber opening piano chords Ms. Streisand sings the opening line, ‘Why can’t you just tell me the truth?’ like a mother to a son.  But in this case it is a citizen expressing a grievance to the sitting President,  which makes it even more powerful.

Then she connects this message to all of the public protests that are taking place on a variety of issues like immigration, police brutality, and basic civil rights.

In the vocals you can hear the anger, the tears, and the absolute defiance of a citizenry who refuse to believe that one man could undo so many of our democratic principles.  She intones, “how do you sleep when the world is burning? …everyone answers to someone”  let us all hope this rings true so we may rebuild our democracy.  Next up is a mash-up of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World”.

“Imagine”/”What A Wonderful World”  (5:20)

The album’s title, ‘Walls’, is a stark reminder of why walls are a bad idea.  They box us in total isolation, blocking out the light, and blinding us to what is possible when there are no limits.  Walls restrict.  Like borders imagined they separate us.  This is the core of this new album.

Common themes of breaking down walls resound as she sings the first verse of ‘Imagine’ which asks the listener to see a world without countries and religion;  beyond personal borders and beliefs to see we are all connected by common humanity.  She then leads into the genuflection “skies of blue and rainbows” that are possible in this wonderful world.

A perfect match of imagination and reality.  Our best politics do this as well.  A vision is expressed and then comes the hard work of persuading people that it will result in a brighter future.  Despite our hard times this mash-up is a reminder that we need to remain optimistic that we can lift each other up and see our way to  a better tomorrow.  This takes us to the 3rd single about that lady in the harbor…

“Lady Liberty” (3:52)

A stirring ode to the ideals of American democracy.  Ms. Streisand reminds us that Lady Liberty is a constant witness in our darkest hours; “she cried with us on that terrible September day” is a great lyric sung here.  This iconic statue is a personification of true empathy.  Our door is open, not closed as she sings, “give us your tempest tossed.  Tell the universe there is room for all of us and more.”  Remember we welcome newcomers. We do not turn them away.

Barbra Streisand could never have known that the week of these songs’ release bears even more weight with acts of domestic terrorism filling the news.  Whatever your politics, this album deserves a listen by all of us.  Because our common humanity  must break down walls to rise above and find our better horizons and selves.

 

Music Video:  “Don’t Lie To Me” written & directed by Barbra Streisand is available now on YouTube.  Here is the link:      https://youtu.be/kNrj87Q-4Yk