Monday, October 31, 2011

It's Alive! It's Alive!

In celebration of Halloween, I'd thought I'd combine my love of the holiday and off-beat artistic expression and post something a little different. That, and since I can't get off work and hit up a party/club dressed as Chun-Li (there's always next year lol), this is the next best thing. Check out a few these extremely lifelike looking pumpkins carved by former art and model designer Ray Villafane below. View the whole gallery HERE.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Homophobic Uganda Group Says Kill The 'Kill The Gays" Bill

This is a surprise. The National Coalition Against Homosexuality and Sexual Abuse in Uganda has come out against the 2009 "Kill Gays" bill after politicians recently revived the legislation.

The "Kill Gays" bill, which includes strict penalties against homosexuals, including the death penalty for some, "is unrealistic and also diversionary," NCAHSA leader Solomon Male said, according to local media.

The legislation would require people to report incidences of homosexuality; that will be impossible to enforce, Male believes. The pastor also added that Uganda already criminalizes homosexuality and that the African nation hasn't executed anyone since 1999, so a new death penalty charge would be meaningless.

Now if they could just realize gay people are not only deserve to live, but to enjoy equal rights, we'd be getting somewhere. Read the rest HERE.

Two Snaps, A Twist And A Kiss!

I shouldn't even have to tell you where that phrase comes from. "Men On Film" critics Blaine Edwards and Antoine Merriweather may be making their return to the small screen as In Living Color is slated to be resurrected by Fox.

According to The Advocate, an update of the hit sketch show, which originally ran from 1990-1994, will air on the network this spring in the form of two-hour specials co-executive produced by Keenan Ivory Wayans.

Of course, one of In Living Color's most popular sketches was "Men On Film," in which hosts Edwards and Merriweather (a.k.a Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier) reviewed movies with dialogue laced with gay puns and racy sexual humor while dressed in over the top clothes. While I'll admit as a child I found this funny as hell (I still occasionally snap in Z formation), when I view it now I can't help but squirm a little bit at the extreme stereotypical behavior.

Is it because pop culture has evolved so much when it comes to homosexuality and LGBT visibility (of course things aren't perfect; but you know what I mean) in the past two decades that the sketch now seems hopelessly antiquated and offensive? Or were we as young queens in training (particularly us black gay boys)  so starved for gay images that we'd settle for anything? Perhaps, as several posters in The Advocate's comment section stated, if they bring the skit back they should throw out the frilly tops and little hats and add a little more nuance to the jokes.

Watch an old "Men On Film" clip and decide if Antoine and Blaine still tickle your funny bone below.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Long Island Couple Seeks Trademark For 'Occupy Wall Street'

Hmmmm. In a way I'm surprised, but not surprised. Apparently a Long Island couple is looking to trademark the name "Occupy Wall Street," citing the movement's potential to become a global brand. According to The Smoking Gun:

In a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) application, Robert and Diane Maresca are seeking to trademark the phrase “Occupy Wall St.” so that they can place it on a wide variety of goods, including bumper stickers, shirts, beach bags, footwear, umbrellas, and hobo bags.
The October 18 filing, made in Diane Maresca’s name, cost the couple $975, which Robert Maresca, 44, termed “something of a gamble” in a TSG interview.

Maresca, pictured at right, lives with his wife, an occupational therapist, and three children in West Islip ... asked if his move to stake a legal claim to “Occupy Wall Street” might be seen as a crass attempt to cash in on a movement that has a harsh view of corporations and capitalism, Maresca answered, “No.” Noting that he has a “practical business side,” Maresca added that, “If I didn’t buy it and use it someone else will.”

For the record, I support OWS. High unemployment, a too-big-to-fail mentality and corporations using bailout funds to line their own pockets with bonuses as a reward for screwing the economy faster than two jack rabbits hopped up on speed are things we should all be speaking out against.  And while we're on the subject, I don't believe any company in a capitalist system should be too big to fail. After a certain amount of assistance had been given, the government should've told AIG, Fannie and Freddie and the rest of them to get off the teat and fend for themselves. After all isn't that Republican gospel? And don't even get me started on the supposed 53% 'backlash,' which really seems to be a band of fools who have deluded themselves into thinking massa in the Big House actually cares about them and that working yourself to death and having nothing to show for it is some kind of noble, all-American sacrifice. But I digress.

However, this branding talk makes me a little uneasy. Part of the reason I feel OWS has succeeded so far is because it has operated outside of the mainstream. It has been an organic, grassroots movement born out of real anger at how messed up things are in our country right now, and has spread through alternate channels like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, free from the reach of media and pundits, who want to define and categorize it as another version of the "Us vs. Them," conservative vs. liberal divide that has been American politics for the past decade.

In the interest of disclosure, yes I do work in the (very local) media (chile I'm light years away from working for Brian Williams), but I'm talking about those who want to water the movement down into a 30-second soundbite for the 24-hour news cycle, in lieu of doing real investigation.

Anyway, my fear is that this trademark, which will not likely make a dent in the long haul--Maresca doesn't seem all that powerful and influential--could inspire others to do the same, turning OWS from something with the potential to truly shake things up into the latest trend. Pain and frustration could simply be funneled into another fad to be co-opted by corporations, sold to consumers and tossed aside. I can see XXX-sized, airbrushed t-shirts being sold at gas-stations, "real" housewives clutching "99 percent" handbags and vacuous queens pumping down the street with glittery fitted tees that say "Occupy Me Bitch" now....

Read the whole article HERE.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WATCH: Mo' Nique's Americans For Marriage Equality Video

Academy Award-winning actress Mo'Nique has lent her voice to the Americans For Marriage Equality campaign, the Human Rights Campaign-backed nationwide public education initiative.

“I believe since we’ve all been given free will, let’s use our will to let others be free,” says the Precious star and talk show host. “Gay and lesbian couples, they believe in commitment, family and love. If you don’t believe me, did you happen to notice that all that’s being asked for is the right to be married, which ironically promotes commitment, family and love? Join me and support marriage equality. It’s the right thing to do.”

According to The Advocate, the campaign, which launched last week with a video from Newark mayor Cory Booker, aims to release themed videos that including Republicans for Marriage Equality, African-Americans for Marriage Equality, Latinos for Marriage Equality, and Elected Officials for Marriage Equality. Watch Mo'Nique's video below.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

True Blood's Alan Ball Developing HBO Medical Drama

Alan Ball is developing a new show that's worlds away from supernatural blood suckers.

The True Blood showrunner is developing Wichita, an hourlong drama about a Kansas surgeon who inadvertently becomes the focal point of a contemporary political, cultural and ethical war.

Ball is set to executive produce the HBO project with writer Devin Friedman, the author behind the 2010 GQ article "Savior vs. Savior" about the late Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita, Kansas, doctor who was one of the few physicians who provided late-term abortions.

Tiller, who was the medical director of the Women's Health Care Services facility, survived an assassination attempt in 1993 and was shot in the eye and killed by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder in 2009. Roeder was convicted of murder last year.

Ball would executive produce the hourlong project alongside Jimmy Miller with Friedman penning the project and serving as co-executive producer.

In a way the show sounds like vintage Ball, dealing with themes of morality, life and death, and contentious subject matter, albeit in a less surreal way.

Are you looking forward to this?

You Betta Werk!

For those still laboring (pun intended) under the delusion that all gay men are fashion and/or interior designers or hairstylists, and lesbians are Paul Bunyan-esque lumberjacks, The Advocate's 'A Day In Gay America' a photo gallery of pictures taken of the magazine's readers at their job, shows just how diverse and *gasp* ordinary most of our jobs really are, celebrity encounters notwithstanding. View the whole gallery HERE. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Random Jam: Tears For Fears 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World'

Pure 80's pop goodness (with deep and surprisingly insightful lyrics about power, war and conflict). Get into it below.

Transgender Center To Open In Philadelphia

The city of brotherly love will soon have its own health center geared exclusive towards transgender people. While a specific site has not been released yet, there are hopes that The Morris Home will open next month, according to Sade Ali, deputy commissioner of Philadelphia's Department of Behavioral Health.

“We are hoping to get the doors opened in November,” she said. “Everyone deserves access to services and a place to go.”

Such facilities are needed, as transgender people like Jaden Hensley find themselves being turned away by some of the city's other homeless shelters. Hensley, a transgender man, was told "we don't accept transgenders" by security guard when he visited the Appletree Center homeless intake center last month.

“It’s against city policy to discriminate against LGBTs in city-funded programs,” said Ali.“Can we monitor 24 hours a day the actions of folks who don’t understand the ordinance? I wish we could.”

The center will be funded by the city and will offer comprehensive health care for trans men and women.

Monday, October 17, 2011

WATCH: 'Pariah' Trailer

Via Rod 2.0:

View the trailer for Pariah, a film about 17-year-old 'butch' lesbian Alike discovering her sexuality, much to the chagrin of her conservative, Christian family (I've gained a newfound respect for Kim Wayan's acting ability after viewing this). In an interview with, director Dee Rees said Alike's story mirrors her own.

"As I was coming into my sexuality, I started to become comfortable with who I was. But I didn’t know how to express that," says the 34-year-old filmmaker. "Some of the awe and anxiety the lead character feels were things I experienced when I was coming out, coming into this world," she said.

Rees admits the principal conflicts in the film are similar to her own. "Parental conflict is something I really went through," she says. "When I came out, my parents weren’t accepting ... For a few months, they sent emails, cards, letters and Bible verses to make me change," she says. She cut off communication, alienating herself, but eventually started talking to them again. "Things are better now."

The film, originally a short, was developed into a full-length feature and debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The film is set to premiere nationwide January 2012.

Watch the trailer below.

That's My Money Honey...

We've all heard the phrase 'rolling in dough' but I guess this gal decided to make the fantasy a reality. Celebrity photographer Tyler Shields took shots of billionaire heiress Tamara Ecclestone rolling around in 1 million pounds of her own cash. So does this come off as decadent and fabulous or spoiled and bratty? Watch the first part of OMG's report (the second is about George Clooney and his girl--who I think use to wrestle in the WWE-but whatever:) or clicking the link above to view more pics and you decided.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Random Question: Are We Stereotyping All White Republicans?

Often we as black and/or gay voters (with the usual exception of GOP Proud, or the delusional queens from Logo who invited Ann Coulter on their show....chile, let me not even turn the ignition and get goin' on that one!) view Republicans as a party responsible for pushing policies and encouraging attitudes that are harmful to our communities. And this is sometimes true (DADT, Welfare reform, Reagnomics, DOMA etc.). But do we cross into hypocrite territory when we lump all Republicans, specifically white Republicans, into the backwoods racists category?

Case in point: I recently came across an article by's Alex Alvarez, discussing  a recent MSNBC interview, one of my fav social critics Michael Eric Dyson gave his opinion of presidential hope-not Herman Cain. Here's an excerpt.

On Wednesday night, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz‘s brought on Georgetown professor and author Michael Eric Dyson to discuss Herman Cain‘s assertion that race is a non-issue for his supporters. In his segment, Schultz refers to our exclusive audio recording (Thanks Ed!) of Cain’s appearance on Neal Boortz‘s show.

In their radio interview, Boortz asked Cain to define what it could possibly mean to be an “authentic black” person. Cain responded that he didn’t know, before proceeding to trace his family tree back to his ancestors’ experience as slaves in Georgia (which prompted Boortz to ask whether he had any relatives who may have been slaves on the South Carolina plantation owned by members of his family). Cain then called talks about “authentic blacks,” a “crass, desperate attempt to try and, here again, insult me. What do they mean by ‘authentic’?”

Cain had also told Boortz that many black Americans on the left, despite their claims to the contrary, end up being more bigoted than “the white people that they’re claiming to be racist.” Later on, he and Boortz agreed that Barack Obama has never been a part of the “black experience” in America — a sentiment which contradicts and undermines Cain’s earlier frustration at the idea that there exists such a thing as an “authentic” black person, who acts and thinks and speaks a certain way.

Dyson’s reaction to the Boortz interview?

He seems willing to say anything in order to curry white favor [Italics mine].

So. Responding to a sweeping and racially problematic assumption with more sweeping and racially problematic assumptions… Is that really an answer? Is it productive? Does it move the conversation forward, or simply help it circle faster down the drain ... for pundits to continue to frame Cain’s campaign of one of “selling out” his race by pandering to white Republicans — who, not sure if you’re aware, are apparently all uniformly afraid of black people — is, hi, also not exactly a noble demonstration of progressive attitudes towards race.

Again: Everyone loses. Always. Forever.

Now, do I agree with Professor Dyson (who, true to loquacious form, said a lot more than that one italicized sentence) that Herman Cain is pandering to white Republicans by saying race is a non issue in the Republican party, racism isn't a barrier to success and other gibberish? Yes. Remember, this is the same man who got caught in a lie about his reasons for not getting involved in the civil rights movement back in the day. Which I must say is not a horrible thing in and of itself. Lots of black folks didn't march, get attacked by dogs or blasted by fire hoses, contrary to what I call the Madea-visionist history spouted by some older blacks. But what's not okay is Cain not only lying about his reason for not getting involved, but turning around and saying he's become successful only by virture of being an American, forgetting  the success of the civil rights movement is largely responsible for the opportunities that became available to him.

However, I do agree with Alvarez's point that labeling all white Republicans as foam-at-the-mouth racists who terrified of black people doesn't exactly help matters. Are there members of the party, particularly the Tea Party faction, who are racist, religious fanatics who would love to see all gays destroyed and Jim Crow laws reinstated? Yes. But I would like to believe that Cain is only pandering to those people, and that his words aren't resonating with the whole base.

Call me crazy, but I'd like to think that there are some conservatives who don't see President Obama and make some bigoted, Planet of The Apes-style joke, or see the marriage of two men or two women as one of the signs of the apocalypse. Do we miss out on those types of Republicans when we direct all our anger and attention at the imbeciles? Are we guilty of the same racial stereotyping and generalization that we abhor?

Watch Dyson's MSNBC interview with Ed Schultz  below and Discuss.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

God Spills The Tea on Adam And Steve's Story

For those who've ever had to suffer the indignity of hearing the phrase "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" shouted at them during a sermon or by an ignorant homophobe, fear not! Because God, with a little help from David Javerbaum, former head writer and executive producer for The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, has come down to clear up this controversy once and for all.

In an excerpt from Javerbaum's upcoming book The Last Testament, a memoir by God, the Almighty explains why he created Adam and Steve. The book comes out November 1. Read and enjoy after the jump.

Toronto Health Organization Launches Antibiphobia Campaign

A public health organization in Toronto is looking to strike back against biphobia with a new campaign aimed at raising awareness of bisexual people based on the results of a study done by Researching for LGBTQ Health. According to The Advocate:

The organization, Re:Searching for LGBTQ Health, started with a survey of 55 bisexual people. It's not much of a surprise, but bisexual men and women of different races, ethnicities, religious affiliations, and cultures tend to feel excluded from everyone else.

The study mentioned that certain groups, such as bisexual mothers, transsexuals who identify as bi, racialized bisexuals (i.e. two-spirit Native Americans) and bisexual youth, often face harassment and isolation from both gay/lesbian and straight communities, and are more likely to seek out mental health services. Bisexual youth in particular are more likely to experience harassment than their gay and lesbian peers.

To combat such attitudes the organization has come up with a color poster campaign designed to dispel myths about bisexuals and show that they are an active part of the LGBT community. Eighteen-year-old Aintony (pictured aboved) volunteers with the Connect-Us-Mentoring Program and Malvern Action For Neighborhood Change. He is starting his own business and aspires to run a youth group.

Read the study results HERE.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Here I Come To Save The Day!

This self-style Seattle-based superhero (who clearly worships at the altar of Spawn) found himself in handcuffs after he was accused of assaulting several people with pepper spray. This guy needs better gadgets.

"Police officers arrested the 23-year-old man who calls himself Phoenix Jones early Sunday after he was accused of assaulting several people with pepper spray. He was booked in county jail on four counts of assault, with arraignment set for Thursday, police said Monday.

Jones, who wears a black mask with yellow stripes and a bulging muscle bodysuit, said he was only trying to stop a street brawl.

"Just because he's dressed up in costume, it doesn't mean he's in special consideration or above the law. You can't go around pepper spraying people because you think they are fighting," said Seattle police spokesman Det. Mark Jamieson.

In capital letters, Jones wrote on his Facebook page that said he wouldn't "ever assault or hurt another person if they were not causing harm to another human being."

Jones was accompanied on patrol by a second superhero, known as Ghost, videographer Ryan McNamee, and Milwaukee-based writer Tea Krulos, who is writing a book about real-life superheroes."

The capeless crusader has released a video shot during the alleged assault that he says proves his innocence. Watch it below, and read the full story HERE.

Phoenix Jones Stops Assault from Ryan McNamee on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Eye Candy: Brad Pitt

Ahhh. Brad Pitt. There's no reason to delve into what make him so sexy, but let's do it anyway. Those beautiful, intense eyes. That boyish grin. The chest, arms and abs, not super-ripped, but muscular and toned just the same. Those lips. And that deep, cool voice. Speaking of cool, Brad is almost zen-like. You'll never see him spaz out or jump on a couch because he believes he's finally convinced the world he's not strictly dickly (you know what gal I'm talking about).

The man is gorgeous no matter how his looks change--long hair, short hair, Jesus beard, no beard, blond, brown, purple hair-- he just looks flawless. And he's nearly fifty years old. I mean does he age? Plus he's given back to my home state with his Make It Right Foundation, building energy efficient homes for Hurricane Katrina victims. Fine and socially conscious chile. Anyway, get into the pics below (as well as a few NSFW ones, and Brad and Angie's sex scene from Mr. and Mrs. Smith) after the jump.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lady Gaga Biopic In The Works

Gaga is about to get the Lifetime movie treatment. According to The Advocate, the network has sent out a casting call for a female lead for a film entitled Fame Monster, adapted from Maureen Callahan's book Poker Face, set to film in Chicago. Check out the description:

“[STEFANI GERMANOTTA (LADY GAGA)] is a bright rebellious Catholic school girl who dreams of fame. The story covers her from age 16 to 22. When we first meet her she is a dark haired, offbeat, very talented and intensely ambitious teen. She comes from a Italian/American well off, close knit, Upper West Side NYC family. She never felt she ‘fit in’ with her fellow students in high school and was disappointed when her college experience at NYU didn’t meet her expectations. So, with her parent’s reluctant permission at 19, she drops out and moves downtown to the Lower East Side where the artists are. Independent and strong willed, Stefani learns she must be something more than a talented young girl and to really stand out, she must change. The story covers the ups and downs of her amazing rise and eventually to her transformation to Lady Gaga. We are seeking an actress who can physically resemble Lady Gaga and who can believably span ages 16 to 22. Singing is preferred but not required.”

I hate to sound cynical, but I'm betting this film is going to a grade A, first-class piece of crap. First off isn't it too soon? I mean, yeah Gaga is super-famous, but technically she's only been out for three years. Even when my grand diva Madonna got the TV bio hatchet job with Madonna: Innocence Lost (a horrible film of ghastly proportions--it's hard to enjoy in even an ironic, Showgirls way. But I could be biased:), she'd been famous for over a decade. Aside that, I don't hold out much hope for Gaga's prime-time flick.

I can see it now: cringe-worthy scenes of Gaga being picked on as a child, sitting all alone at the lunch table and dressed in all black and raccoon eye-liner, eating her homemade tuna fish sandwiches; the cliche rebellious stage where she screams "YOU'RE RUINING MY LIFE!" or some other Miley Cyrus-ism at her parents while she stomps up stairs to her room to listen to generic, "rebellious" heavy metal; a close up shot of Gaga holding a bottle of peroxide in one hand and a disco stick the other as she discovers their latent magical powers; and the inevitable "I've hit the the big time bitches!" performance of "Just Dance" or "Poker Face" at the end.

Your thoughts?

Study Says Gay Men Offered Fewer Job Interviews

Well this might explain why I didn't get a few callbacks. According to a study published yesterday in the American Journal of Sociology, men whose resumes indicate that they're gay are 40 percent less likely to called in for job interviews, especially in the south and midwest. Quelle surprise! (note the sarcasm:).

Pink News reports that Harvard University researcher Andras Tilcsik submitted two “realistic but fictitious” resumes to 1,700 white collar job openings. One indicated that the applicant had served as a treasurer of his college gay society, while the other mentioned involvement in the “Progressive and Socialist Alliance.”

Tilcsik reasoned that employers were likely to associate both applicants with similarly left-leaning political views, which would increase the likelihood of rejection being based solely on the gay affiliation.

The story says, “The results showed that applicants without the gay reference had an 11.5% chance of being called for an interview. However, [resumes] which mentioned the gay society had only a 7.2% chance. The difference amounted to a 40% higher chance of the heterosexual applicant getting a call.”

Florida, Texas and Ohio were the states with the largest difference in callback rates among gay and straight applicants, while job candidates in California, Nevada, Pennsylvania and New York were given more equal treatment. Again, not a big surprise that big east and west coast cities would be more gay-friendly, even if it does contribute to the idea that the south and the Midwest are home to close-minded, homophobic wingnuts who don't want fruits in the workplace. But then again, the facts don't lie. At least my state Louisiana didn't top the list.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Principle Assaults Teen For Wearing Gay-Straight Alliance T-Shirt To School

Is there something in the water in Tennessee? First a pastor 'sics' his deacons on his own son and boyfriend and now this?

'30 Americans' Explores Black Identity In America

Washington D.C. based  Corcoran Gallery of Art recently unveiled a new exhibition entitled 30 Americans, a compilation of provocative artwork and photography by black artists. According to

The Rubell family—the collectors who provided the artwork—left "African-American" out of the exhibition name for a reason: "Nationality is a statement of fact, while racial identity is a question each artist answers in his or her own way, or not at all," the family said. The images in this slide show offer a sneak peak at some of the collection's 76 drawings, sculptures, photographs, paintings, and videos, all of which explore the theme of black identity in America.

While a few of the images are a little too artsy for their own good, others, like Xaviera Simmons One Day and Back Then (Pictured above) stop you in your tracks. Of the photo, Simmons, who portrays the figure says "“I look a lot at the history of photography and painting and how different figures are placed in them. Simmons won’t comment directly on what she intended to say with this work, but Corcoran curator Sarah Newman gives it a shot: “To me it seems to [invoke] the agricultural history of the South.”

Other pieces, such as Barkely L. Hendricks's piece Noir and Robert Colescott's Pygmalion, explore how style and substance converged to help form contemporary black identity and the pressure put on black women to conform to white standards of beauty, while another piece, Sleep by Kehinde Wiley, (depicting a phine, muscular man---now I got your attention!) uses Jean-Bernard Restout's 1771 painting Somus as inspiration to challenge the lack of black men in Western paintings.

View the rest of the images HERE.

Monday, October 3, 2011

WATCH: Tennessee Deacons Attack Gay Couple

I guess the leaders at this church follow the "hate the sinner, kick his ass" doctrine. Jerry Pittman Jr. and his partner were assaulted by church deacons when they tried to attend a service at Grace Fellowship, pastored by his father. Yes, Pittman and his boyfriend were assaulted at his father's own church. What makes it even worse is the pastor ordered the attack on his own son.

"I went over to take the keys out of the ignition and all the sudden I hear someone say 'sick'em,'" said Gibson County resident, Jerry Pittman Jr.

Pittman said the attacked was prompted by the pastor of the church, Jerry Pittman, his father.

"My uncle and two other deacons came over to the car per my dad's request. My uncle smash me in the door as the other deacon knocked my boyfriend back so he couldn't help me, punching him in his face and his chest. The other deacon came and hit me through my car window in my back," said Pittman. He said bystanders did not offer assistance. He said the deacon yelled derogatory homosexual slurs, even after officers arrived. He said the officers never intervened to stop the deacons from yelling the slurs.

"If I was on the scene I would not have allowed that. The deputy should not have allowed it if he did," said Gibson County Sheriff Chuck Arnold.

Pittman said neither he nor Lee were allowed to press charges while at the church.

"I haven't talk to him but that would be out of character for my deputy to say unless they were causing a problem themselves," said Sheriff Arnold.

Watch a report about the assault HERE.

Random Question: How Much Would You Sacrifice For Success?

Sacrifice and success. Usually when we put the two words together our minds conjure up the classic image of the multi-millionaire entertainer, actor, singer or business person who has accumulated untold wealth and fame, but feels unhappy or incomplete. Inevitably this person admits to having some regrets about the bridges they've torched and the bodies they may have stepped on whilst climbing up the ladder, and usually cite certain choices they've made along the way as the reason for their emptiness.

But what about us regular, everyday folk? For example, what if you're trying to move to another city to further your career or realize your potential. Would leaving old friends, family and possibly a lover behind be worth it for a leap into the unknown, where you could possibly find youself alone and isolated? Or what if you're trying finish school or obtain a higher degree in order to earn a bigger salary? Would putting off certain things, like settling down in a serious relationship, or having/adopting children for what could be years of hard work be a worthy sacrifice?

Or perhaps you already got a dream gig, but are starting at the bottom of the totem pole. Would weekends be better spent finishing assignments instead of curled up under the covers with him? Would off days be readily relinquished in favor of punching the clock whenever bossman or bosslady says "We need you," so you can throw it in his or her face whenever it's time to make that premeditated plea for a pay raise or promotion?

Most of us would probably answer these questions with a resounding yes. But then again the definitions of success and sacrifice can mean more than just more money and career advancement. For instance, maintaining successful relationships with friends, family and lovers requires a certain amount compromising, a.k.a sacrifice. You may temporarily put aside or tone down your passion for certain hobbies, or attempt to share in ones your friends/lover/family members have in order to form a deeper bond or connection with them. But at what point do the small sacrifices and compromises turn into you shape-shifting your own personality for that person or persons?

In the past (well, let's be real, a few times in the present, though not as often), I've been guilty of sacrificing too much of my own identity, opinions, personal taste/interests etc., in order to be a 'successful' friend, son, or boyfriend. As I've grown older and worked to become more assertive (I'm a people pleaser by nature, so it's been a battle for me to learn to say "NO" and mean it), I look back on certain instances where I caved in to a friend, family member or lover's wishes and realized I should've erred on the side of selfishness. Because while I may have succeeded at preserving a friendship, parent-child bond or romantic relationship, in truth I was failing. By acquiescing (or giving away my power if you will), I actually weakened the bond between me and that person because I did something I didn't want to.

Of course we all do this on occasion, like waking up in the middle of the night to help jump a friend's car, or mowing an older family member's yard when you'd rather be home watching TV. In those instances, you're giving assistance to someone who genuinely needs it, and usually that warm feeling inside that erases any temporary incovenience you may have suffered. But I'm referring those times when we do something because we're afraid we'll get guilt-tripped by the other party, be accused of selfishness, or we fear this person won't like us anymore if we don't say yes.

Many times these fears are unfounded, but still have real consequences that can manifest as feelings of resentment or anger towards an individual you now feel is using you. A friendship that could've been saved by an instance of selfishness (i.e. saying "I don't want to do that/I don't feel comfortable doing that" etc.) is instead destroyed by the an act of self-sacrifice . Ironic isn't it? A side note though: if someone is consistently making you out to be the bad guy or feel guilty for saying no, what you have is not a friend, but an energy-sapping frenemie on your hands. Run fast! But I digress.

Perhaps the question isn't so much success versus sacrifice, but personal automony versus group solidarity. In other words, is it possible to both diligently pursue the things you want in life while not alienating or distancing yourself from those around you (assuming you have no desire to do so), or do you have to settle for not chasing some dreams in order to maintain successful friendships and/or romantic/familial relationships?

Personally I feel it is a delicate balance. How to go about consistenly striking this balance is the tricky part though. It's easy to get so caught up in reaching for the brass ring that we miss the other gems around us, allowing them to collect dust. Or, in a sad twist we lose ourselves the pursuit of the becoming the person we want to be. Whatever goals I achieve, be they big or small, I'd like to have others around to share my triumphs with, cliche as that may be. Because whatever success we achieve, sooner or later we have to get back to real life.

So how much would you sacrifice for success, both personal or professional? And how would you find a middle ground between being super successful and alone and having all your dreams deferred? Discuss.

And if that line about getting back to real life reminds you of a certain old-school movie, it's on purpose. Check out Margo Channing's, a.k.a Bette Davis's, classic monologue about the conflict of family and career in All About Eve below. Even though her speech focuses on women, I think it could apply to anyone.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Random Jam: Chaka Khan: "What Cha' Gonna Do For Me?"

I heard this at work yesterday and almost started to dance in the aisle, dustmop and all! Chaka put her foot in this one (but then again, doesn't she always?:) Get into it below.

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