Monthly Archives: April 2013

“Diagnostic Manual of Mishegas” Jay Neugeboren, Michael B. Friedman, and Lloyd I. Sederer, M. D.—Review Coming Soon

Diagnostic Manual of Mishegas

A different version of the famed manual of mental disorders

(Tablet Magazine)

Potchkied together and .com-piled by Jay Neugeboren, Michael B. Friedman, and Lloyd I. Sederer, M.D.

Based on a newly discovered document by the brilliant if frequently farmisht Dr. Sol Farblondget, M.D., Ph.D., P.T.A.

The Diagnostic Manual of Mishegas (DMOM) is a delightful parody of the American Psychiatric Association’s “Bible of psychiatry,” the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). In a playful send-up of the DSM, the authors—all of whom are distinguished writers with deep roots in the field of mental health—cut through the hundreds of categories in the 1,000-page DSM by dividing all mental disorders into two realms: mishegas major and mishegas minor. The full manual can be purchased here.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Origins of the DMOM

2. Introduction: How Diagnostic Criteria Are Organized

3. Categories of Mishegas

1.0 Nervous Conditions of Everyday Life

1.01 Tsuris Reactions and Sequelae

1.02 Tsuris-addiction

1.02A The Wisdom of Gornish Helfin

1.03 Verklempt

1.04 Finster in di oygen

1.05 Tsimmis

1.06 Plotz

1.07 Farmisht

1.08 Fartoots

1.09 Fartsadikt

1.10 Fertummelt

1.11 Ferdrayt

1.12 Farfolen

1.13 Fershlugginah

1.14 Spilkes Minor and Spilkes Major

1.14.1 Spilkes Minor

1.14.2 Spilkes Major

2.0 Cockamamy Conditions of Character

2.01 Schmuck

2.02 Schlemiel

2.03 Schlemazel

2.04 Shmegegge

2.05 Shmendrick

2.06 Shnook, Shmo, Shlub, Yutz, Putz

2.07 Shnorrer

2.08 Kvetch

2.09 Noodj

2.10 Yenta

2.11 Momzer

2.12 Chalaria

2.13 Alrightnik (masculine), Alrightnikeh (feminine)

3.0 Categories of Mishegas Relating to Food, Sex, and Age

3.01 Alter Kocker (AK)

3.02 Dementia With Benefits

3.03 Fresser

3.04 Chazzer

3.05 Mishugener Eating Categories Not Elsewhere Classified

3.06 Shikker

3.07 Farshlepteh Krenk

4.0 Appendix Relating to Ethics and Matters Otherwise Unspecified

THE DIAGNOSTIC MANUAL OF MISHEGAS

Introduction: How Diagnostic Criteria Are Organized

Organized?! Who are we kidding? This book—boruch hashem and hallelujah!—is splendidly dis-organized. If you want organized, you’re reading the wrong book. But if you want wisdom, laughs, and astonishing insights into just how mishugah life can be—if you want to learn how to cope with mishegas and glory in it, then read on! Because what we have here are diagnostic categories—cannily ongepotchket (slapped together creatively, as in a Rube Goldberg contraption), and arranged according to Doctor Sol Farblondget’s cunning reductio ad absurdum (and when we say absurdum, we ain’t just talking) that reduces the mishegas of this world into two major categories: Mishegas Major … and Mishegas Minor.

Mishegas Major: As Sol explained to the shmendricks who were working on the DSM, mishegas major refers to someone who is really, really mishugah—for example, a man who, persuaded by his doctor that he is not a chicken, continues to lay eggs.

Mishegas Minor: This category refers to most of us most of the time. We’re all a little mishugah, right? For example, a young woman who worries because the young man she is engaged to is more excited by a New York Knicks victory than oral sex.

Some ethnic and religious groups, such as Jews, Puerto Ricans, Italians, and SCLIFs (Senior Citzens Living in Florida) love dwelling on their mishegas (as in familiar conversational tropes such as “You think your mother-in-law is mishugah? Ha! Wait till you meet mine!”). Others, such as WASPs—the mishegoyim—insist on giving highest priority and value not only to non-expression of feelings and to an insistence on buying retail, but to tight lips and tighter asses (for an analysis of this phenomenon, see Sol Farblondget’s seminal paper “The Riddle of the Sphincter: WASPS, Sexual Inhibition, and Bowel Retention”).

Cultural variations complicate diagnosis, and differences between mishegas major and mishegas minor may not always be clear. A for-instance: Is a man alone in a car and hearing voices having an attack of mishegas major or mishegas minor if he keeps shouting to the empty seat next to him: “I told you a thousand times, Esther—I know which way to turn to get onto the Merritt Parkway, so stop hocking (nagging) me already!” And does the diagnosis depend upon the hearing of voices, familiar or imagined (as in: “Now listen to me, God, you sadistic momzer—if you tell me one more time that ‘Yes, my child, bad things happen to good people, and this too shall pass,’ I’ll drive this car right through your pearly gates with Esther lashed to the hood!”), or on whether or not the voices enable him to make the correct turns?

About the authors:

JAY NEUGEBOREN is the author of 20 books, including two novels, two books of non-fiction, and four collections of stories. He has been keynote speaker for many mental health organizations, including the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, and has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization. His most recent book is The American Sun & Wind Moving Picture Company.

LLOYD I. SEDERER, M.D., is Medical Director of the New York State Office of Mental Health, and Medical Editor for Mental Health for The Huffington Post. He has served as Mental Health Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and as Medical Director of McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts. His most recent book is The Family Guide to Mental Health Care.

MICHAEL B. FRIEDMAN, M.S.W., a former Regional Director of the New York State Office of Mental Health, is a founder of The Center for Policy and Advocacy of the Mental Health Association of New York City. He teaches health and mental health policy at Columbia University’s Schools of Social Work and of Public Health, and publishes regularly in The Huffington Post and Mental Health News and other periodicals.

“I’M SO EXCITED”— Almodovar’s Gayest Film

los amantes pasajeros

I’m So Excited” (“Los amantes pasajeros”)

Almodovar’s Gayest Film

Amos Lassen

If I say that there is something about an Almodovar film, you probably know what I mean and if you do not, then you will by the time you finish reading this review of his newest and gayest film, “I’m So Excited”. Almodovar’s films usually make us laugh and make us think simultaneously and this is no exception—it is more than a comedy and I would classify it as a political allegory about Spain suffering an economic crisis. As viewers, we also become second-class airline passengers asleep on a plane and have really no idea about what is happening and do not deserve to know. The first-class passengers, however, are wide awake and have not been manipulated and therefore can know the truth—they are the technocrats but have other problems and the way they became “first class” is what Almodovar looks at here. We see a world where no one does his job properly as reflected by Almodovar’s cinema “darling”, Penelope Cruz, who represents those who care only about their own personal worlds and not the larger world of political corruption and economic scandal. The world of our passengers (and our own, ala Almodovar) is one of individualism and sex.

excited1

Almodovar is saying something even about the current situation of Spain and Europe and the last scene with empty interiors and shameful waste of money seems to be to me, at least, a clear statement from the author about what should be actually called a “disaster” in today’s world.

excited2

The plane develops technical problems. The crew is made up of five gay (or bisexual) males and the females are asleep. In First class we have a 40 year old women, a virgin who has visions, a male actor, another woman who has slept with the 600 most powerful men in Spain, a serial killer who does not kill women, newly-weds (the male has drugs in his rectum and the woman sleep-walks) and a businessman. In the second class are sleeping passengers of which one has had sex with the virgin in First Class (while he was asleep).

excited3

Some may think that Almodovar has taken a break from serious drama to bring us this comedy which is actually as serious, if not more so, than his most serious films. Yet this is also a return to comedy that contains the kitsch and pop taste that is his characteristic. There is a great moment when the stewards sing to the playback of “I’m So Excited” by Pointer Sisters. Narrative structure and meaning are missing perhaps but there are gag sequences and paradoxical situations that are excessively funny sexual moments that are not vulgar. There are viewers and critics that will hate it—and many already do. It is heavy camp, surreal and sexy but so life can be. It is a matter of taste—crude and ridiculous and I love it. While I may seem to contradict myself in this review, I defend that by saying life is a contradiction and while there is a lot of talk about fellatio, the line is never crossed into vulgarity.

almodovar

“The Albino Album” by Chavisa Woods— A Queer Epic

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Woods, Chavisa. “The Albino Album”, Seven Stories Press, 2012.

A Queer Epic

Amos Lassen

Chavisa Woods brings us “The Albino Album”, a queer epic about a little girl who accidentally feeds her mother to an albino tiger and then grows up to become a domestic terrorist. This is quite a look at domestic life in rural America. Woods paints a big color picture of what adolescence is “in the sticks”— the story of a girl with an unpronounceable name (Mya)who wears a dirty black tutu and combat boots as she travels on her journey of human desire and faces strange and bizarre experiences. Whether she is at the New Orleans (my home town) Mardi Gras, an Illinois cornfield or the Empire State Building, she is who she is, a member of a group of “contemporary misfits of fire-dancers, gutter punks, pseudo Nazis who breed albino animals, horse thieves, and the archangel Gabrielle”. 

We do not often get a book that grabs and holds us for over 500 pages and then says “Start over and read me again”. Mya is a feral character who comes of age in rural America. Because she has led a life that is not urban she has to create her own world that is neither here nor there. It is a strange world and while this is probably classified as a Southern gothic novel, it is totally unlike anything you have ever read.

Sarah Schulman says,“A natural and philosophical writer, Woods is propelled by her commitments to language and desire to illuminate ghettos of consciousness: geographic, economic, and emotional.”  It is unpredictable as it tells us what it is to grow up Southern, poor and queer while within are raging opposite traits and characteristics. Mya is both radical and conservative, educated and not book worldly, desirous and yet has it all. It is also a very difficult book to describe and is more of an experience than a read that will teach you something and make you a better person (I hope) for having read it.

 

“Surprising Myself by Christopher Bram— A Boy and His Friend

surprising myself

Bram, Christopher. “Surprising Myself”, 1988, Open Road Integrated Media eBook reprint, 2013.

A Boy and His Friend

Amos Lassen

Christopher Bram who gave us the wonderful look at the history of our literature in “Eminent Outlaws” this year has had his first novel, “Surprising Myself” released as an eBook. It is the story of the relationship between Joel Scherzenlieb, a young gay boy and his straight friend. Joel has been sent to Boy Scout camp while his father, a CIA agent is off to work. Neither his dad nor Joel know anything of Joel’s homosexuality and right after finishes that summer as a counselor; he is off to his mother’s farm in Virginia. There is no money for college so Joel works on the farm with his mother, grandmother and sister, Liza. Then he meets Corey who has been his friend at camp and they eventually become sexually involved and they later move to New York. At just about the same time as Joel begins with Corey, his sister becomes involved with Bob, another guy Corey knew at camp.

In New York, Joel begins visiting bars in Greenwich Village and then Liza suddenly comes to his apartment, baby in tow. Her affair with Bob is over and now she looks to her brother and Corey to help her and to show her that there are relationships that have stability. It is not longer after that Bob comes looking for Liza and the story deals with issues of loyalty, blackmail and the meaning of love.

Corey and Joel actually had fallen in love at camp and when we read this, we begin to think that this is going to be one of those coming-of-age, coming-out novels that deal with adolescent problems but soon realize that this is something else altogether. This is Joel’s book and his story and he is a young man (or boy, if you prefer) with parents who are a bit odd—his mother has returned to the earth to work it, his father is a spy, his sister is in a bad marriage and has a child and Joel is alone with no emotional support and is indulgent and self-criticizing. He has no goal in life and is opposite of his “lover”, Corey who is confident and successful in his world.

The novel is set in the 1970s and when we meet Joel he is straight with dreams and fantasies which are broken when his father does not let him return to the Swiss school where he has been studying and instead goes to live with his “hippie” mother and then falls in love with Corey. What we really see is the weakness in those in the book which mirror for us the weaknesses we see in ourselves or are maybe blind to and need to be aware of. We also see that although decisions might be made for us, ultimately we are responsible for our lives and control our own lives. The way Bram draws his characters is uniquely his, I believe and their sexuality is secondary to their humanity. Joel actually believes he is straight until he falls in love with Corey and it is only then that he realizes reciprocal love. I really felt that is was not necessary to classify this love as gay or straight—it is love and that should say enough even though our world demands otherwise.

 

 

Allan Sherman’s Last Laugh— A thorough new biography chronicles the rise and fall of the big, Jewish self-destructive funnyman

Allan Sherman’s Last Laugh

A thorough new biography chronicles the rise and fall of the big, Jewish self-destructive funnyman

By Josh Lambert|April 29, 2013 12:00 AM|

Allan Sherman. (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Related Content

Lenny Bruce Everywhere

Acknowledging the comic’s gift to Zappa, Mailer, Roth, and the other macho titans of eccentric 1960s pop

My Son, the Assimilator

Allan Sherman’s page in the American songbook

Is there any lower form of comedy than song parody? Dirty limericks and knock-knock jokes may be worthless, but at least they have the decency to be brief. A parody song almost always lasts a chorus or two longer than necessary, and that’s just the beginning of the trouble.

Which makes the best work of Allan Sherman all the more astonishing. Fiddling with the lyrics of recognizable songs—transforming “Frère Jacques” into “Sarah Jackman” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” into “The Ballad of Harry Lewis”—the heavyset, bespectacled comic turned himself into a star, sold millions of albums, won a Grammy, and headlined concerts from Hollywood to Capitol Hill. (JFK was a fan.) He also managed to say something about the place of Jews in 1960s America.

That’s why Sherman merits as scrupulous a biography as Mark Cohen has just given him, the appropriately corny-pun-titled Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman. And it’s why the rise and fall of a big, self-destructive funnyman fits into a series of otherwise serious academic monographs from Brandeis University Press.

***

Sherman has been rediscovered as often as he has been forgotten, but Cohen’s book is exhaustively definitive, offering enough detail to satisfy even the most annoyingly punctilious comedy nerd. Cohen has dug up every scrap of Sherman’s writing, published or unpublished, going back to his eighth-grade compositions, as well as school report cards, yearbooks, divorce papers, and even dentist registration records. Cohen actually tracked down the 1937 and 1938 Birmingham, Ala., phone books, just to let his readers know that in the latter year, Sherman’s father’s auto parts company was listed “in boldface type, a more expensive option”—suggesting business may have been picking up.

Cohen also offers up every street address at which Sherman or his parents ever lived, and how much each house cost, by way of telling the tale of a broken, bizarre family. Sherman’s parents moved back and forth across the country; after they split up, Sherman’s mother hooked up with a con artist while his obese father did something even more self-punishing. On Aug. 27, 1949, he embarked on a 100-day fast in a tiny custom-built house hoisted atop a 20-foot metal pole in Tarrant City, Ala. This was national news of the wacky variety, until the stunt killed him.

Sherman had good reasons to be cynical about familial relationships and the promise of adulthood. But there can be upsides to having lunatic parents: While pawned off for months at a time on his grandparents in Chicago, Sherman learned Yiddish expressions and the behavioral patterns of immigrant Jews and their communities, and he drew from that well when he sat down to put together a quick album of public-domain song parodies in the summer of 1962. By then, Sherman was a veteran TV hack; he had produced game shows and award shows and buddied up with celebrities including Jack Benny, Harpo Marx, and Steve Allen while entertaining friends privately with his parodies. On Aug. 6, 1962, he gathered an audience, served them drinks, turned the microphones on, and started doing his shtick.

The result was My Son, the Folksinger, and it sold 400,000 copies in three weeks. Half a century later, the most striking aspect of the album is just how many of Sherman’s punch-lines are names. Just Jewish people’s names, sung fortissimo. On the tracks, you can hear the audience responding to this, laughing raucously, whistling, pounding the floor at times. On Sherman’s parody of the folksong “Greensleeves,” he gets a 10-second laughter break after introducing “a knight who was known as the righteous Sir Green”—pause—“baum.” That’s the joke. The song ends on another joke name in the same vein: The Jewish knight retires to marry “Guinevere Schwartz.” Hallelujah becomes Harry Lewis, Harry Belfonte’s “Matilda” becomes “My Zelda,” and in “Shake Hands With Your Uncle Max,” Sherman spins out a dizzying list of Jewish family names with irrepressible ebullience:

Merowitz, Berowitz, Handelman, Schandelman,
Sperber and Gerber and Steiner and Stone,
Boskowitz, Lubowitz, Aaronson, Baronson,
Kleinman and Feinman and Freidman and Cohen,
Smallowitz, Wallowitz, Tidelbaum, Mandelbaum,
Levin, Levinsky, Levine and Levi,
Brumburger, Schlumburger, Minkus and Pinkus,
And Stein with an E-I and Styne with a Y

This was a time when most Jewish comedians were still taking deracinated stage names (Allan Stewart Konigsberg, Melvin James Kaminsky, Jacob Rodney Cohen, and so on), but Sherman clearly had no shame. His own name came not from his father but from his maternal grandparents, who, he said admiringly, “were shamelessly unselfconscious about being Jewish.”

An ethnic revival had begun in America a few years earlier, and no one captured the moment better, in comedy, than Sherman. Cohen emphasizes, cannily, that what differentiated Sherman’s first albums from other Jewish song parodists, like the delightful Yiddish-and-klezmer fueled oeuvre of Mickey Katz, and from much midcentury Jewish culture in general, was that most of his humor rested not on descriptions of Jews as they had been in some imagined immigrant or old country past, but as what they were becoming in America: model suburbanites. Sarah Jackman and her relatives read John O’Hara, work for law firms and talent agencies, identify as Freedom Riders and “nonconforma”s. Sherman’s “Hava Nagila” parody, “Harvey and Sheila,” is a love story about an MIT-trained accountant and a girl who works in the clerical department of the advertising firm BBDO. If Cohen’s claim that Sherman anticipated the ethnic style of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm seems farfetched, consider that Jason Alexander blurbed the book, and both Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David have been heard lately singing Sherman’s tunes, or his praises.

Songs that Sherman couldn’t record, for fear of getting sued, went a step further. Introducing what he called his “Goldeneh Moments from Broadway,” Sherman would explain that his Jewish versions of show tunes had been inspired by the thought, “What would have happened, how would it have been, if all of the great Broadway hits of the great Broadway shows had been written by Jewish people—which they were.” The joke was that the great Jewish Broadway composers and lyricists had rarely, if ever, written shows about Jews. Sherman presided over the return of the repressed, turning the Gershwins’ “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess into a Catskills lament, and deforming a song from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific into a paean to smoked salmon. Bootleg recordings of some of these, including a whole set of songs from My Fair Lady, survive, but others remain only as lyrics in an appendix to Cohen’s book, where they wait for some sympathetic young performer to rediscover them.

If that first album and those mostly unpublished Broadway parodies are what make Sherman worth remembering, what granted him immortality, for better or worse, were 174 seconds of goofball fun he called “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah! (A Letter From Camp)” and released as a single in the summer of 1963 and then on his third album in a year, My Son, the Nut. It was a massive hit, climbing to the #2 spot on the Billboard charts, inspiring sequels, a board game, and even a sitcom. Seemingly no talent show at any English-speaking summer camp since 1963 has ever omitted some localized version of this chestnut.

Because Cohen seems to have scoured high and low for every available snippet of Sherman’s biographical record, it seems odd that he neglects to mention one crucial source of “Hello Muddah.” Surely the song was inspired, as Cohen notes, by Sherman’s son’s unpleasant experience at a summer camp in upstate New York, but it seems equally likely that it was also Sherman’s riff on a Tonight Show bit that Jack Paar called “Letters From Camp.” In the memoir Penny Marshall published last year, she recalls that she and her brother Garry went to “a kosher camp for rich Jewish kids” despite being “neither,” and that was whence her brother derived the material—including a joke about “Camp Nehoc” being “Cohen” spelled backward—that he later wrote for Paar. Which makes “Hello Muddah” an excellent illustration of the strange place Sherman occupied. When a Jew borrows material from a show that Lenny Bruce called “very goyish,” maybe written by an Italian who got it at a kosher summer camp, and then turns it into a hit by adding a tune from Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” and singing it badly—that’s America.

***

Given the variety of Sherman’s achievements—he discovered Bill Cosby, voiced the Cat in the Hat, guest-hosted Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show—the speed of his slide into oblivion is shocking. Sherman was never exactly a rock star, but he managed to flare out like one, killing himself over the course of a decade with food, drink, drugs, sex, and heartbreak. He walked out on his wife and kids. His creative output turned to junk. His Jewish material was outshined by the work of less self-destructive talents—Woody Allen, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks—and his nonsectarian material turned out to be mostly cliché, pap, or grumpiness. His later albums flopped, his TV appearances floundered, concert opportunities dried up, and the Broadway musical he wrote closed after four performances and a withering New York Times pan. Sherman died of a heart attack at 48, in 1973, with all his albums out of print.

Cohen details the attempts to rehabilitate Sherman’s reputation with obituaries, Best Of collections, an Off-Broadway revue, etc. But the truth he won’t quite acknowledge is that Sherman was never a great comic genius, and the form he worked in—the song parody—didn’t give him a chance to be one. The reason people enjoy parody songs at all is that they’re so accessible. When you hear a song over and over, you can’t help but substitute new lyrics. A 3-year-old will do it. And can do it. That’s why parody songs are a default gesture for lame radio DJs, high-school talent shows, and viral videos, which means that a song parodist has to be truly brilliant to escape being thought of as an excited 11-year-old.

A handful of “Weird Al” Yankovic parody songs clear this bar, and a few by Tom Lehrer. If Sherman was no better, he wasn’t much worse. Along with a whole lot of forgettable silliness and a grim personal life, he left a few treasures worth preserving—and he did as much as anyone to bring Jews out of the American pop-culture closet. One can hope that, thanks to Cohen, his legacy is now safe.

Spartacus Traveler as an Ebook Now Available

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Spartacus Traveler as an Ebook Now Available

SPARTACUS TRAVELER INTERNATIONAL is the new travel magazine especially created for iPad and Android tablets. It is made for gay men within the United States but also reaches out to English speaking members of the gay community from all around the world.

The magazine combines new and innovative technologies for e-magazines such as interactive links, sliding photo galleries and embedded videos, as well as high quality editorial content to featured destinations, accommodations and travel gadgets for the LGBT market.

 With over 1.7 million copies sold since 1981, SPARTACUS INTERNATIONAL GAY GUIDE is the most recognized publication related to gay travel. The winner of IGLTA’s 2011 hall of fame award is already part of gay history when it was first published in April 1970 – just one year after the Stonewall riots in New York City .

After being launched in the spring of 2012, the new SPARTACUS iPhone App has been downloaded over 40.000 times already, 35 % of the purchases were made within North America .

Summer 2013 will see a re-launch of the iPhone App as well as an application for Android devices – including a free version which shows LGBT hot spots around the world.

Based on the well known gay travel brand SPARTACUS and Germanys longest established  and most successful travel magazine SPARTACUS TRAVELER the English e-magazine is made to inspire its readers with richly illustrated travel reports and news from all around the world.

As partner of Pocketmags.com the leading digital distributer for LGBT e-magazines (Attitude, GT Gay Times, DNA, Winq) SPARTACUS TRAVELER INTERNATIONAL will be available through all main e-shops – including iTunes and Google play.

The editorial team under the leadership of American journalist and LGBT travel expert Dan Allen (OUT & ABOUT, Passport, The OUT Traveler) together with Dirk Baumgartl, editor in chief of the German issue of SPARTACUS TRAVELER will provide unique content for the American LGBT community.

  Frequency

4 issues per year – starting in June 2013

 

Price: $2.99

“THE RUGBY PLAYER”— A Hero Redefined

rugby player

The Rugby Player”

A Hero Redefined

Amos Lassen

Mark Bingham was one of the passengers on United Flight 93 on September 11 and while we have heard a great deal about him, this is the first feature length biography made of his life. It looks at the close bond between mother and son. Mark’s mother, Alice Hoagland, is a former flight attendant for United Airlines and here we see a personal look at the tragedy through a story of loss and love. We also learn what a hero really is.

“STUD LIFE”—Urban England and Love

stud life poster

Stud Life”

Urban England and Love

Amos Lassen

JJ is a butch lesbian and she and her best friend, Seb, a good looking gay male are wedding photographers. They both work and play together but when JJ falls in love with Elle she has to find time for both and her relationship with Seb is put to the test. Campbell X both wrote and directed this look at a darker side of gay life and looks at taboos in gay life and sex and sexuality. Set in urban London, here casual sex and using drugs are considered deviant behavior. Gender here might be fluid but there are very strict rules for desire and love and violence and street attacks are common. The people here adhere to Black culture and reject the mainstream gay world.

 

 

“STATE 149”—Moving Toward Middle East Peace?

PALESTINIAN-GERMANY-DIPLOMACY

State 194”

Moving Toward Peace?

Amos Lassen

The general consensus of the world is that peace in the Middle East requires a two state solution if not an independent Palestine as accepted by the United Nations. Yet there still acts of terrorism or new settlements by Israel that cause the stoppage of political negotiations. Dan Setton follows the life of Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad from the years 2009-2011 as he attempts to prepare the society of Palestine for eventual and hopeful statehood. Fayyad is a charismatic technocrat tells us that the model he has used is the same one that Israel used to gain recognition by the United Nations in 1949. He travels all over the West Bank to the governmental institutions—schools, hospitals, cultural institutions and we become more aware of the support Palestine has by international opinion makers and see that the younger generations of Palestinians and Israelis have a common hope while the government of Israel has panicked over the idea of a Palestinian state.

Dan Setton, an Israeli, is an Emmy and Peabody Award winner and he has written and directed this documentary about Fayyad and his hopes that Palestine will be welcomed as the 194th member state of the United Nations. The major problem has been the unfortunate resignation of Fayyad because here we see a different Palestine than we are used to seeing. Here Palestine is a cultural state and not a terrorist or corrupt political entity. Fayyad was educated in the United States and speaks in ways that we can both understand and respect. We see Palestine as a partner for peace. Fayyad has been committed to non-violence and the plan he suggests very much is the same as that plan used by the early Zionists as Israel prepared for statehood before the granting of independence in 1948. Of course, the film brings about the question as to why Fayyad resigned and who was responsible for his resignation.

Fayyad has always been respected by Jewish American leaders and by the government of the United States and Europe and in the past he has been in conversations with Israeli and Jewish groups. He is a captivating man who sincerely wants peace and is committed to non-violence. His idea is to “build the future Palestinian state from the ground up while instituting squeaky clean governance and fighting corruption. That way, he would grow the Palestinian economy and give the people of the West Bank a stake in a peaceful future”. This has worked for some years—the Palestinian Authority has built1,700 community development programs, 120 schools, 50 health clinics and three hospitals and paved over 1,000 miles of road and installed 850 miles of water pipes. This was never matched politically or diplomatically and what Fayyad worked so hard at never became the reality of a peaceful Palestinian entity. Israel continued to build settlements on the West Bank and the idea of peace was not embraced by either side.

Fayyad’s hope for an independent political base that would shelter him began to erode when the West Bank economy slowed down and Arab nations provided little or no financial aid. When Palestinian officials pushed to raise their status in the U.N. to that of a full member state, Fayyad’s plan was doomed. He opposed this but was overruled. The United States blocked two hundred billion dollars in aid to Palestine and Israel withheld Palestinian tax revenues to the tune of one hundred million dollars and Fayyad could not pay his public employees.

With President Obama’s visit to the area recently, America gave five hundred million dollars in aid to Palestine and Israel brought back tax transfers but it was too late and Fayyad resigned his position. We immediately learn, once again, of just how fragile the entire process is and how easily it can fall apart. Fayyad’s resignation shows us that the United States is unable to manage the status quo and if a plan for a two-state solution does not re-emerge, an economic meltdown could cause the collapse of the Palestinian authority and a third intifada could be the result. Fayyad was a man who tried to do good but was thwarted and the world has learned an impotent and valuable lesson. There is no status quo to be managed.

 

“HOT GUYS WITH GUNS”— Danny and Pip

hot guys with guns

Hot Guys with Guns”

Danny and Pip

Amos Lassen

Danny Lohman (Marc Samuel) and Pip (Brian McArdle) become involved in a crime spree that is after the gay guys that seem to run Hollywood, the Velvet Mafia. Danny simply wants a job on his favorite show, “Crime and Punishment”. The lead, a renegade private investigator is about to be recast and Danny is ready to do whatever it takes to get the part including enrolling is a night class in how to be a private investigator at Santa Monica Junior College.

But Danny is actually very good at it and his teacher who is a private detective and his teacher is upset that his best student is only so he can get a television job. Part of Danny’s studies include spying on his ex-boy friend, Pip, a popular Beverly Hills party boy who is now living in the pool house at his mother’s. That is exactly where his mother wants him—she wants him away from Danny. She has the rights to the family trusts and actually it was she that broke Danny and Pip up.

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When Pip is the victim of a robbery, Danny gets a chance to show off his detective skills but this is a crime that cannot be reported to the police because Pip and other members of those who are on the A-list for sex parties and should the names be publicized jobs would be lost, contracts would be declared void, marriages would be over and reputations would be ruined.

When Pip loses his father’s antique watch, he begs Danny to help him get it back and Danny reluctantly teams up with Pip but they find much more than a watch. Anything else I might say would be a spoiler so go and see for yourselves.