Michael Jackson's Thriller, the pop album to end all pop albums, and influenced virtually every pop and R&B star of the last two generations, came out 30 years ago today. You know the stats, or if not, a quick rundown: seven top 10 hits, number one on the Billboard charts for 37 weeks, seven Grammy awards, over 100 million copies sold worldwide.
Music videos for "Thriller," "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" raised the bar for ever other artist on MTV, and officially ushered in the video era. The songs and visuals helped break down musical and racial barriers at radio and MTV, paving the way for other superstars like Whitney, Prince, Madonna and Janet. Even metalheads got a little love via Eddie Valen's classic guitar riffs on "Beat It." Thriller was one of those all-consuming pop culture moments--like Madge's Like A Virgin/Boy Toy era, The Bodyguard soundtrack, TLC's Crazysexycool, or for the closest modern equivalent, Adele's 21--that totally encapsulate an era, something that seems increasingly rare, if not impossible, in our current niche-driven musical landscape.
What's your favorite Thriller track and/or fondest memory of that era? I can't exactly reminisce on 1982-85, so I'll respond with my favorite track below.
George Zimmerman is stepping up fundraising plans to pay for his defense while awaiting trial for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. According to his attorney, Zimmerman plans to launch the New George Zimmerman Defense Fund next month. Hmmph. Just in time for the holiday season.
"Donors will receive “thank you” cards individually signed by Zimmerman. Attorney Mark O’Mara said an existing fund has raised $140,000 since last May, but the money it is running a bit low. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and claims the shooting was self-defense under the state’s “stand your ground” law. A trial is set for June, but a “stand your ground hearing” could be held by April."
Thank you notes? Really? Even Casey Anthony or O.J. didn't have the grapes to hand out thank you notes. Can he really be that arrogant or is he just delusional? I can't decide.
In today's SMH news, a Michigan teacher has been suspended for three days, two of which are without pay, after she let a student play a rap song about being gay in her performing arts class. The song in question, Mackelmore's "Same Love," details the journey of a gay man as he comes out, falls in love, and deals with bullying and harassment. Johnson felt the song spoke to current issues and decided to play it in her class.
"This is one of the things in my school that we're trying to practice," Johnson told Fox 2, "and we're trying to instill in our students — is tolerance to diversity, and also [against] bullying." But another student in Johnson's class was offended by the message of the song, and complained to school administrators. Centennial Middle School officials wouldn't speak on the record, but Johnson offered paperwork she says the district gave her explaining her suspension. That paperwork claims the song had controversial content, including homosexuality, religion, political views, and a sexual slur. The song does use the word "faggot," but only in the context of calling out passive reactions to hate speech. "If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me," sings Macklemore. "Have you read the YouTube comments lately? / 'Man, that's gay,' gets dropped on the daily / We become so numb to what we're saying / A culture founded from oppression / Yeah we don't have acceptance for him? / Call each other 'faggot' behind the keys of a message board.'"
Johnson says she's shocked by the school's decision, and very "disappointed in the bias, the bigotry that I feel that they're really hiding behind."
Sacre bleu. Muhammad Ludovic Lutfi Zahed, a gay French-Algerian man will opening France's first gay mosque by the end of the month. Zahed, whose marriage to Qiyam al-Din (pictured left) was reportedly approved by an imam, said the mosque will not have the gender exclusions other mosques do.
“In normal mosques, women have to sit in the back seats and wear a headscarf and gay men are afraid of both verbal and physical aggression," Zahed told reporters. "After performing the Hajj, I realized that a mosque for gays was a must for gay Muslims who want to perform their prayers.”
Obviously this is a extremely courageous move, but I fear for the wrath that may rain down on this mosque from the contingent of fundamentalist Muslims that seem to be growing like crab grass in France. Hopefully they can try to secure some type of government assistance against any potential violence.
This is awful. 23-year-old Mallory Owens was invited to celebrate Thanksgiving with her girlfriend's family, but was attacked her brother, 18-year-old Travis Hawkins Jr. Mallory sustained multiple injuries, including crushed cheek bones, a broken nose and skull fractures.
"Travis Hawkins, Jr. was arrested and charged with second-degree assault. but Owens' family and supporters are calling for hate crime charges against the man. There is a Facebook group, Justice Today for Mallory, which Sonia Mason, owner of The Red Carpet in Pensacola, Florida, started to get the word out about the tragic crime. Posts on Facebook have been cropping up all over the U.S. today in support of Owens. There's also a petition on Change.org is aimed at pushing Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich to to meter out the proper justice for Travis Hawkins, Jr."
"After I transitioned, I had this fantasy that I would take hormones for a few years and then 'blend in' effortlessly. There are [many] trans women who do that and that is sometimes presented as the goal. When I realized that I wasn't 'blending in' effortlessly, I had to re-evaluate things. Then I thought it was time to 'own' [being] transgender."
Watch Laverne's interview, which is part of The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition and GLAAD's "I AM: Trans People Speak" below.
I turned the big 2-6 today. As for B-day plans, I may catch a late movie with the BF, seeing as I don't have to work tomorrow (another reason to rejoice--love my job, but those hours:). Or maybe stay low key and chill at the domicile--I just don't feel the irrepressible urge to hit up the club or run the streets until sunrise like I used to.
NYC’s own Boody & Le1f have unleashed their latest video for “Soda.” Directed by Sam Jones, the clip definitely lives up to its title--it's a burst of bright colors and garish outfits. And it take its title literally, with folks being "baptized" in carbonated holy water.
If you ain't up on Boody & Le1f (and don't feel bad, 'cause I wasn't either, though I may have read something about Le1f in Details about a month ago), a little background: Le1f has been building quite the buzz since dropping his mixtape, the aptly titled Dark York, featuring grimy cuts that contain both traditional rap boasting and queenly shade.
Now Le1f has hooked up with longtime partner in crime Boody to release Liquid, their debut EP. And judging from "Soda" these gals clearly now their house music. The song chops up Masters at Work’s classic “The Ha Dance,” with Le1f rapping lines about "slaves to the rhythm" over minimalist kicks and aqua drops, creating a track that instantly snatches you by the ear drums and demands you listen.
The video has the same effect, which can a good or bad thing, depending on your visual taste. I'll be honest; upon first viewing, my thoughts were "What the hell is this? Clearly somebody's sugar daddy is bankrolling their "baby's" music career in exchange for lil' sumthin' sumthin'. But after watching it a few times, the sheer absurdity and ballroom energy--the vogueing, hair whipping, catwalking, the Space Channel 5 wigs, the soda--won me over.
I deem it CUTE.
But what do you think? Watch the “Soda” video and listen to a few tracks from Le1f's Dark York.below.
As if I needed another reason to adore Pink. This bitch is a showstopper. Doing an emotionally powerfully and physically challenging performance while maintaining near perfect vocals? Yeah, she did that back in '10 at the Grammys. This was some next level fabulousness. Chile I'm OVA. Watch below.
I don't know why, but I've listening to this non-stop all week. Love all the girls (R.I.P. Left Eye), but T-Boz is serving in this video. I'm willing to bet more than a few guys bit her swag back in the day.
This is good news, at least if you're not on a quest to secede from the union. Today President Obama nominated William Thomas to a judgeship on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. If the appointment is confirmed, Thomas will become the first openly gay black man to become a life-tenured federal judge.
Currently a judge on the state court in Florida, Thomas was recommended for the nomination by the Presidential Appointments Project, coordinated by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. Previously out black lesbian Deborah Batts was appointed by President Clinton, becoming not only a judge in the Southern District of New York, but the first out LGBT federal judge overall.
If Mike Huckabee's election ad--ya' know the one where he insinuates voting for marriage equality and/or abortion will be recorded with the Almighty in fire for all eternity--made you go "hmmmmm," you weren't alone. Jon Stewart grilled him about the ad during a Daily Show interview. Ok maybe it wasn't so much grilled as sauteed. Either way, get ready for five minutes and forty-four seconds of denials and back-tracking.
Three states have legalized gay marriage through the ballot box, and Minnesota voters said "hell to the no" to a constitutional ban against gay marriage. Could Oregon be the next state to see the light?
"Organizers are looking for the midterm election year, 2014, as the goal date for legalizing marriage equality through a ballot initiative. Currently the state offers domestic-partnership rights to gay couples, but voters also approved a ballot initiative to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage in 2004. Basic Rights Oregon's Jeana Frazzini told the Religion New Service this week that Washington, Maine, and Maryland have set the stage for other progressive states to leave the decision up to voters. "I am more confident than ever that we will be the first state to overturn a constitutional ban on marriage," she said."
Personally I think federal legalization of marriage equality would be better than state-by-state recognition. After all, if voters can giveth, can't they also taketh away? It's also less hassle on married gay couples to prove their status if they say, happen to go on vacation in a state that doesn't legally recognize their relationship. On the other hand, gay marriage becoming legal in multiple states is probably helping to change minds, and indirectly setting the stage for a federal law.
I guess this shouldn't come as too much of a shock. After all, folks in the Long Star state are trying to secede from the union. Then again, so is my home state, so maybe I shouldn't throw too much shade.
Anyway, it seems a play involving two male penguins raising an abandoned chick is too much for The Austin Independent School, who canceled 10 scheduled performances of Along Came Tango. The play is based on two male chinstrap penguins who adopted an abandoned egg and raised it together.
Playwright Emily Freeman said the play is about different families, which she believes is appropriate according to state law. "I can't see the argument that it's not age appropriate for kids in second and third grade."
However, other folks feel the play is dangerous. "We define marriage very clearly in the state of Texas," Jonathan Saenz, president of the conservative Texas Values group said. "So if you have a play that tries to push and promote a different marriage definition, which is clearly illegal, it leads students to ask questions about it, and it leads to the discussion of sex."
Ooh, talking about sex. Can't have that. Let's just wait until the babies and STDs pop up, then we can gab about the birds and bees. If they would even come up, seeing as this play focuses more on raising kids rather than how they're made. Damn those gay penguins.
What did you think of last night's episode? What do you think of this season compared to the last two? Ponder that while watching a sneak peek (though the show's creators seemed to have taken on the Mad Men teaser model of "show something, reveal nothing") for next week's episode.
A Minnesota pastor who participated in an "ex-gay" ministry has been charged with sexually assaulting two men he was counseling. According to the Star Tribune Rev. Ryan J. Meuhlhauser, a senior pastor at Lakeside Christian Church and counselor at Outpost Ministries, has been charged with eight felony counts of fourth-degree criminal assault. The article also cites the criminal complaint, and reports:
"One of the men told investigators that Meuhlhauser has 'blessed' him by cupping his genitals outside of his clothing several times and that Meuhlhauser asked the man to masturbate in front of him for 'spiritual strength.' Meuhlhauser would also fondle the man at times. Their encounters occurred over a period of nearly two years."
The complaint also reports similar accusations by another man, who claims assaults happened at the church, in its prayer cabin and at the home of one of the victim's relatives.
I don't know about you, I don't remember being taught ball cupping was a blessing or the five knuckle shuffle was a source of spiritual strength in Sunday school. I mean, wasn't Onan was killed for spilling his seed instead of knocking up his dead brother's wife? Then again, our teaching materials could have been a little dated. e
Like most "ex-gay" organizations, Outpost has distanced itself from Meuhlhauser while spinning the whole mess as the reason for their "pray the gay away" crap. Read the rest HERE.
Ms. Maddow is giddier than a carful of ganga smokers while talking about Tuesday night's election results and "conservative delusions" of a Romney landslide victory with Stephen Colbert on last night's The Colbert Report. Watch below.
First things first: YAAAAAAAAAAAAAS! Obama won! Okay, on with the show. The first time I put fingers to keyboard in the name of K. Clark's Corner was on November 5, 2008--the day after Barack Obama made history as the first black president, breaking down one of the biggest, if not the biggest, barriers to racial equality in America, if not the world.
However, November 4, 2008 was also the day California voters decided to insert discrimination into the law in the form of Proposition 8, with Arizona and Florida also approving gay marriage bans and Arkansas banning gay couples from adopting. It was a definitely a day of mixed emotions: elation at the fact a black man was elected leader of the free world, but disappointment at others'--especially black folk's-- unwillingness to let other people be free to live their own lives.
Four years later, things are not perfect, but have certainly shifted. While Prop 8 is still in litigation, voters Maine and Maryland voted in favor of marriage equality, the first time gay marriage has won on the ballot. The nation's first openly gay senator has been elected. Don't Ask Don't Tell is dead. And a sitting president has gone on record as being pro-gay marriage.
The last fact is one that sits in my mind the most. That President Obama, instead of playing the oppression Olympics, can see LGBT rights as civil rights, speak directly to our community and champion our struggles is, along with all the other events, a huge cultural step forward. I can see all parts of myself--black, gay, humanistic--in the president's vision for America.
For that reason, along with what I feel is a good list of accomplishments in the face of an economy on life support and a party of no, is why I voted for him again. Are we aren't completely out of the hole yet? Nope. But I believe the president will work to help anyone who's willing to grab a shovel and dig themselves out, rather than a privileged few while burying the rest of us alive. Some felt Mitt Romney was the better man for carrying out this task.. We'll have to agree to disagree on that. But I digress.
Perhaps he felt more sensitive than most to our plight after being subjected to some of the most egregious, racist and just downright shitty (I'm looking at you Donald Trump) treatment a commander in chief has ever had to withstand. In some weird, wrong way, said shitty treatment has been a good thing, as it has exposed our supposedly "post racial" country's lingering underbelly of racism and prejudice, just as Hilary's, and to an extent Sarah Palin's *shudders* potential candidacies unveiled its sexism.
All that being said, here's what I took away from last night's victory and the immediate aftermath:
1. President Obama's speech was inspiring, humble and sincere. I thought he did a great job of extending an olive branch to the other side without coming off as weak or condescending.
2. Though I've spent the last century (at least that's how long it feels) reading, shading and otherwise criticizing Mitt Romney, his concession speech was pure class. Ironically last night felt like his most natural, human moment of the whole campaign. It was like something real woke up inside.
3. Speaking of waking up, it looks like Republicans have finally realized catering solely towards white voters will not win elections anymore. Unless that's just post-election depression talking. Either way, America is now irreversibly multicultural, and they must find a way to deal with it. I think cutting loose the whack job/Tea Party wing of the party is a good place to start.
4. Compromise. Both sides must learn this word and learn it well--hell, tattoo it on your neck like Chris Brown--if the next four years are to be better than hostile stalemates while our impending financial doom looms closer. Bump all the political theater; people's livelihoods are at stake. In some cases, their actual lives are at stake. Both sides need to be willing to give up some ground and see beyond party lines.
Honestly, seeing beyond party lines is something all of us could stand doing a little more of. We may not be in a position to create policy, but we can change how we treat others we disagree with. Color me optimistic, but most liberals aren't leeches who let the government to pay all our bills, wipe our asses, and tuck us in at night as we mercilessly milk the system and cackle all the way to bank to cash unemployment checks. Just as most conservatives aren't racists and/or homophobic fearmongers who think all should be sacrificed in the name of capitalism and rape is god's intent.
There is fraud, craziness and bigotry in every bunch. There probably always will be, and it should be stamped out wherever it rears its divisive head. However, if we don't mentally make "whomp, whomp whomp" (think Charlie Brown's teacher:) sounds in our heads the second someone reveals a political affiliation opposite our own, we'll have better chance of keeping out the crazy, and letting in our common humanity.
NYC-based songstress Beca's new single "Born To Fly," a sexy, bare bones R&B track, is giving me all types of Kylie Minogue-meets-Kelis teas, with a bit of Britney sprinkled in. Her Born To Fly EP drops on November 20. Take a listen below.
Ice Cube on Mitt Romney: "He just reminds me of somebody who's trying to sell me a Mercedes Benz. He'll tell me that it looks good on me and this is my color and I can afford it and everything, just to get the sale. It's astonishing that people are buying into that at the rate they are."
Looks like Cube's getting political again. Listen to his new song "Everythang's Corrupt," the title track of his upcoming album, below.
I just can't with Chris Brown. Everytime I think he can't go higher up the ladder of tomfoolery, Breezy cooks up something--smashing windows on Good Morning America, fighting with Drake in the club over Rihanna, tweeting his "battle scars"--that proves me wrong. Like the hot mess pictured above. Some folks over at The Grio are trying to cry foul, saying those who say Chris is a terrorist since he has a gun is the same as labeling any black man who owns a gun a criminal.
Um....no. If Chris went as Alladin, Abismal, Alibaba and The Forty Thieves or even fucking Jafar, and someone called him a terrorist, that would be stereotyping. This fool posed with a gun and a vest of spare bullets. I think we all know what he was going for. Seriously, does he even want to have a career at this point?
Maine Republican Stacey Fitts voted against marriage equality while in office in 2009, but now he says the decision was a "chicken thing for me to do." Fitts is now appearing in ads encouraging other voters to support marriage equality as well. "As I watched that evolve, it became clear that I wasn't in support of the veto effort," he told the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. "And that I wouldn't necessarily take a role — which, looking back, probably was another chicken thing for me to do."