Thursday, June 30, 2005

Zach's Story Featured on This Week's "This Way Out" Podcast

The radio program I told you about a few days ago is now available for podcast. You can download this week's This Way Out which ran on a number of public radio stations this week. The feature story is regarding how Zach's story has spread throughout the internet and created a movement of it's own. Click here for links to an HTTP and FTP download of the radio show. Huge thanks to Jerry Trowbridge for covering the story & to the producers at This Way Out for selecting it as their lead story.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Nerd Thing Of The Nanosecond: Google Releases Google Maps API

Following the release of Google Earth on Tuesday, Google swept in and released the Google Maps API. I've always been fasinated by the concept of mapping (yes I'm a robotic nerdmobile moving in slow motion through the time-space continuum) and so now I can create custom maps for custom things. If you want to see something mildly woo-hoo like, you can click here to be ahh'ed and ooh'ed at a map of the most important part of Memphis to know.

I mean, really...what else do you need? (via Boing Boing)

No Updates Today, I Took A Day Off.

OK, more like a couple of days off, whatevs. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to my bandwidth dilemma, my overages are paid down & I can get back to the business of writing. I haven't had much to report, so I essentially took the day to relax. I've been experiencing some type of latent funk-like feeling the last couple of days, probably due to having my focus switched away from my normal routine for so long.

Suffice to say, I owe enormous thanks to Bruce Garrett, Terrance Heath (did I spell that right this time?) Abby and her dad, Wappy and Pamela Ol' Cranky without whose support you'd be looking at a different page right now.

Your continued support and assistance is always appreciated, so I'll leave the donation link in this post for the time being.

In the next 24 hours or so, I should be updating Scenestars with new music from Wolf Parade and Supergrass. Be sure and check that out. I'll not be far away from here, though, and I'll be checking in.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Tennessee Department of Health: No Child Abuse At Love In Action

I just left the QAC Rally and I want to commend everyone there for the incredible turnout. Among the many supporters and friends was Peterson Toscano, still in town after graciously performing his one-man show at MeDiA Co-op over the weekend. Also among the many supporters was Dr. Arnold Drake, the President of the Memphis chapter of PFLAG (or Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Dr. Drake, whose son is openly gay and in a committed relationship for the past 15 years, faced down the "media consultant" for Love In Action in a clearly heated debate in front of ABC-24/UPN-30's cameras. What will come of the footage is unknown, but watch the 10pm news on those channels for sure.

It was at the rally where I was informed that the State of Tennessee Department of Health has completed its investigation into allegations of child abuse at Love In Action/Refuge. According to my best information, the State of Tennessee determined after its incredibly in-depth and lengthy week-long investigation that there was no child abuse occurring at LIA/R. A phone call to the TN Dept. of Health has not been returned as of this writing. News of this story will likely spread quickly through the blogosphere, but it should be done with the caveat that I did not hear this from anyone at the TN Dept. of Health directly.

This should not be seen as a defeat because it is, after all, only one investigation. This particular investigation, as many of you reading will know, is very difficult to prove -- we are talking about proving psychological abuse after all. There are a series of ongoing investigations by watchdogs, concerned citizens, and others regarding LIA/R's practices in regards to children.

More news as events warrant. For now, go visit Peterson's blog where he recounts what will forever be known as "the vegan bbq nacho experience".

Political Cartoon of the Moment

Bruce Garrett explains it all for you. See you at the rally.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


What: Queer Action Coalition Rally at Love in Action Head Quarters

When: 4:30-5:30pm Monday June 27th,2005

What you can do: Attend the rally and/or publicize this event to your friends and family and get in touch with your local politician here.

Queer Action Coalition invites all interested members of the public to show their support for the youth going through the Love In Action program Refuge. Refuge is a program that aims to change the sexual orientation of youth and adults through "Bible based reparative therapy". Come and show your support on Monday for open and honest dialog and for all people affected by this issue.

This rally will be fun!! We also encourage all those that couldn't make it to the previous rallies to come to this one. The more people the stronger the message.

4780 Yale Road, Memphis, Tennessee, 1.5 miles north of I-40 on Austin Peay Hwy

Click here for directions.

See you there! (via Queer Action Coalition blog)

The Associated Press Is Carrying The Love In Action Story.

It started out as one little story on two or three little blogs...etc. Ok, enough of that crap, I knew this yesterday, but totally forgot to mention it to you. The Associated Press has now picked up on the story and, as you can see, the mainstream media is soon to follow. According to Mike Ditto, "John Smid from Love in Action is directly attributing the investigation to the internet campaign that you have waged." Wow. Now if he and others like him would just stop doing this we could all move on.

Next week, a piece will run on the radio program This Way Out detailing how the news of the story spread through the internet. Myself, Peterson Toscano, Terence Heath from The Republic of T, Michael Cranky of The Disenchanted Forest). The show is carried on a number of NPR stations, here's hoping it reaches many people. I've heard the story and the accuracy is remarkable.

To everyone who has been a contributing force in spreading news of LIA/R's activities around the globe, give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it.

Good work everyone. No wait, eff that -- Great work.

Things I Learned Over BBQ Tofu Nachos Last Night.

Like, whoa.

First off, I am here to report that Peterson Toscano's one-man show which I told you about here is a must-see show for anyone interested in finding out more about the ex-gay movement. It is alternately gut-clutchingly hilarious and gut-wrenchingly disturbing, but it is performed rather seamlessly. I have to hand it to Peterson Toscano, he's a very brave soul to bare his life before an audience. People will take away different important pieces of information about the ex-gay movement, about LIA/R, and get a first-hand account of what life on the inside of the program is like.

Peterson spoke with great candor regarding his experiences to the audience and answered questions after the show last night. One of the more interesting things he shared was regarding a BBC film crew that was allowed inside Love In Action's headquarters. In January of this year, apparently, LIA/R opened its doors to their camera crew who was following a man struggling to "recover" from his homosexuality. Peterson will, hopefully, read this and correct me where I am wrong, but I believe he stated that the man who was inside the program could not bring himself to stay more than four days.

The man's first-hand account of what went on inside the facility included relating the presence of a 16-year-old lesbian female in the program. It was not clear from what Peterson said as to whether or not the girl was there against her will or, more importantly, if she was part of the residential program (something which Love In Action claims they do not allow). It was also related that teenagers who are inside the program are required to participate in group "therapy" sessions with adults -- some of whom are dealing with issues of sexual addiction such as bestiality and pedophilia. What this ostensibly means: LIA/R is asking teenagers to equate their homosexuality with issues like bestiality and pedophilia

Peterson, at the time, was unaware that they allowed minors into the program and sought verification of this startling development. He contacted Exodus International (the world leader in ex-gayness) who, in turn, referred him back to (guess who?) John Smid. Via a chance encounter, Peterson ran into Smid in the Atlanta airport a few weeks back (literally days before the story broke here). Smid confirmed to Peterson that they had been accepting minors into the program against their will but did not elaborate on the presence of the 16-year-old female. Further, in regards to group sessions, Smid related that while teenagers are in some of those sessions I mentioned, adults do not actually talk about the issues directly -- only their feelings.

Peterson said, and I have to agree, "Folks at the BBC? Now would be a good time to let someone see that footage, please."

After the show, a whole crew (including the QAC, me, and one Abby Lady Cutie Troublemaker) headed to R.P. Tracks and loaded up on the equivalent of 11pm vegan heaven, sweet potato fries and BBQ tofu nachos. If I understood correctly, it was learned that many of LIA/R's statistics on homosexuality come from a group called (surprise!) International Organization of Heterosexual Rights. A quick Googling turned up this website which, after reading it, begs the question: I thought heterosexuals already HAVE all the rights?

If you are in Midtown this afternoon or tonight, I cannot recommend highly enough Peterson's show and showing your support to the MeDiA Co-op. It's FREE -- I mean, that's the lowest price in town, right?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Doin' Time In The Homo No Mo Halfway House Tonight and Saturday!!

Fresh off my shift at a world-famous hamburger restaurant, I ran into some dude on the street who insisted on having his picture taken with me. After frisking me for fresh, hot, small, squares, he asked me to remind you -- come out this weekend for a chance to check out his world-class one man show at the MeDiA Co-op! He'll be there both tonight and Saturday night. Oh, who is that guy next to me? That's Peterson Toscano, and he's going to make you laugh so hard, your aunt Bertha's weave will come unglued! See you tonight!

@ The MeDiA Co-op 1000 S. Cooper Memphis, TN

PETERSON TOSCANO ( ), a former Love in Action client, will be coming to Memphis to perform his one-person play, "Doin' Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House".


See for yourself what happens behind the doors of America's zaniest ex-gay residential program! Through five characters Toscano takes you on a tour of the Homo No Mo Halfway House, a 12-Step Christian program that attempts to save men from the snares of homosexuality through bizarre rules, a masculine resuscitation regime and brain numbing reconditioning. Based on Toscano's real life experience floundering in various Ex-gay ministries, he weaves together humor, program jargon and outrageous eyewitness accounts to form a piece that is hilarious, poignant and inspirational.

"The play is intelligently written, hysterical at times, poignant, and most of all, deeply spiritual because of its underlying themes of self-examination and self acceptance...Toscano's acting skills as well as the format of the piece recall the one-woman shows of Lily Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg whose character studies unearth the neurotic complications in all of us."
-John W. Sykes, in newsweekly

Perterson also will be doing "Talking Trash in the Homo No Mo' Halfway House --Language, Life and Lies in the Ex-Gay Movement", a more lecture-stylized piece.

For more info

Thursday, June 23, 2005

State of Tennessee Launches Investigation Into Love in Action

It's official. The State Dept. of Health has launched an investigation into Love in Action in response to allegations of child abuse. The story, reprinted with kind permission from the New York Blade. Thank you to Eartha Melzer for the story.

Tenn. investigates ex-gay camp
Teen's blog leads to outcry, charges of abuse at unlicensed facility
Jun 23, 3:41 PM

The state of Tennessee has begun an investigation in response to allegations of child abuse at Love in Action, a Memphis facility that advertises homosexual conversion therapy for adolescents, according to the state department of health.

K. Daniele Edwards, a spokesperson for Child Services at the Tennessee Department of Health, confirmed an investigation is underway but declined to comment on the details. She noted that she presumes the Love in Action program would require licensing by the state.

Love in Action is not licensed by the Tennessee Departments of Health, Mental Health, Human Services, Child Services or Education, according to Rachel Lassiter of Gov. Phil Bredesen's communications office.

Refuge, Love in Action's program for adolescents, became the focus of public concern earlier this month after a Bartlett, Tenn., teen who uses the blogger name Zach, posted online entries that say his parents had responded to his coming out as gay by sending him to a religious institution to be converted to heterosexuality.

"Emotional abuse is difficult to prove in the state of Tennessee," said Pamela Dickey, director of the advocacy center for Childhelp USA in Knoxville. "You have to document that the child is undergoing depression or suicidal ideation, that he can't sleep, or can't eat."

Officials from Love in Action had appealed for "tolerance" of their program at a June 16 news conference.

"It is our spiritual conviction that sexual behavior outside of heterosexual marriage is considered wrong in the sight of God," said John Smid, the program's director, who describes himself as "ex-gay," according to a partial transcript of the news conference.

"This program is operated on the will of the guardian or parent. We will work with the minor children as long as they are not overtly distracting to their own program or the program of others," Smid added. "If it is shown that the client is overtly treatment resistant, we will work with the parent towards alternative options for their care and overall relational health."

Blogger E.J. Friedman said that he had been corresponding with Zach via e-mail since March and became alarmed when he saw that Zach had begun to write that his world was coming to an end and that his parents were isolating him.

"When I saw Zach had written in his blog, 'all I can think of is killing my mother and killing myself' I felt that clearly something needed to be said about the program," Friedman said.

No word from teen

Word of Zach's situation quickly spread around the blogosphere. By press time, more than 1,000 messages of support had been posted to Zach's blog and an online petition demanded that he be released from Love in Action. Comedian Margaret Cho contributed a message of support.

But Zach has not posted to his blog since the first week in June and sources contacted by the Blade would not confirm Zach's full name. His parents also could not be identified.

Morgan Fox, 25, who said he was a friend of Zach's, said he believed Zach was in a two-week Refuge program.

Meanwhile, a group called the Queer Action Coalition has begun daily demonstrations in front of Love in Action offices to raise awareness of the dangers of "ex-gay" therapy. (via New York Blade)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

You Got A Reaction....You Got A Reaction Didn't You?

Creative Commons LicenseThanks to Abby over at Pro-Active Busybody, you can now learn all about what the heck a Creative Commons license actually is with the help of Jack & Meg White, Steve from Redd Kross, my hard-to-track-down old friend Neil Strauss, and...well, of course, the Creative Commons people themselves! Watch this short flash movie and learn a little something in the process. I think it's pretty cool. (via Pro-Active Busybody)

Stop The Frickin' Broadcast Flag Once And For All Or Live With It Forever.

We've heard rumors that the Broadcast Flag that Cory, the EFF, and a coalition of pressure groups have fought so hard against (and beat in the courts) will be sneaked back via an amendment to the giant Senate Appropriations Bill in a sub-committee at 2PM EST on Tuesday 21st. This week is Hollywood's last chance to ram the flag past Congress, and they're working hard to get it under the radar.

There's no time to write letters or start a media campaign: but folk in the states below have just enough time to warn their senators, who are all on the sub-committee. People of Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin - it's up to you!

There's a sample script after the phone list. Remember: be cool, collected and polite. Most of these senators won't know a thing about the flag, until one of them makes it a throwaway amendment tomorrow. Make sure their ears twitch when they hear "broadcast flag" today.

ALABAMA Senator Richard Shelby (202) 224-5744
ALASKA Senator Ted Stevens (202) 224-3004
HAWAII Senator Daniel Inouye (202) 224-3934
IOWA Senator Tom Harkin (202) 224-3254
KANSAS Senator Sam Brownback (202) 224-6521
KENTUCKY Senator Mitch McConnell (202) 224-2541
MARYLAND Senator Barbara Mikulski (202) 224-4654
MISSOURI Senator Christopher Bond (202) 224-5721
NEW HAMPSHIRE Senator Judd Gregg (202) 224-3324
NEW MEXICO Senator Pete Domenici (202) 224-6621
NORTH DAKOTA Senator Byron Dorgan (202) 224-2551
TEXAS Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (202) 224-5922
VERMONT Senator Patrick Leahy (202) 224-4242
WASHINGTON Senator Patty Murray (202) 224-2621
WISCONSIN Senator Herb Kohl (202) 224-5653

"Hello, Senator _________'s office"

"Hi, I'm a constituent. [Remember: Only say 'I'm a constituent' if you really are -- if you're calling the Senator from _your own state_] I'm registering my opposition to the broadcast flag amendment being introduced in the Senate Commerce Justice and Science Appropriations subcommittee mark-up on Tuesday, and in full committee on Thursday."

(*** You can give your own reasons for opposing the flag here. Here's a sample: ***)

"The Broadcast Flag cripples any device capable of receiving over-the-air digital broadcasts."

"It give Hollywood movie studios a permanent veto over how members of the American public use our televisions."

"It forces American innovators to beg the FCC for permission before adding new features to TV."

"It will prevent fair use of copyrighted works: critical review, and use of material in distance learning"

"This is an important issue which will affect all Americans, and should not be inserted in a large bill, at the last moment, with no debate."

"Please oppose the broadcast flag amendment. My name and address are ___________________."

"Thank you for your time."

Good luck! (via BoingBoing)

Update: You can now fax and email appropriation committee members for free at the EFF's action center. Do it tonight, or live with the consequences of a Hollywood veto over your PC forever.

Blood Runs Through Your Veins, That's Where Our Similarity Ends.

Bram Cohen, the author of the now-world-changing BitTorrent protocol that swept computers around the world the last couple of years, is none too pleased with Microsoft's proposed new "copycat" alternative to BitTorrent, Avalanche.

The concept paper, released as a series of proposed algorithms, appear to do little more than offer built-in error correction to already existing BitTorrent technologies, a concept which Cohen has, since the creation of BitTorrent, consistently called "a dubious idea".

People wanting to have a crack at it are going to have to wait, though -- Cohen points out that Avalance currently amounts to what Cohen calls "vaporware", a technology idea with no known useful model in place for testing. You can read Cohen's LiveJournal on the matter by clicking here. (via Boing Boing)

Monday, June 20, 2005

I'm Going To Call 2005 The Best Year For New Music In, Well, Years.

I've been rifling through hundreds of CD's since January of this year, through pre-release samplers, pilfered pre-release versions of albums sent to me by friends and acquaintances in the music industry, and just stuff that hans't made it out of the gate yet. Not since I was a teenager have I been so consumed with the incredible quality of new recordings that I've been in contact with this year. Could it be because I'm getting to hear so many great new things so far ahead of the game, I feel a sense of empowerment? I don't think so, really.

2005 has been an exceptional year for new full-length recordings from a number of established artists and innumerable indies I've had the pleasure to hear. The year is only halfway over with, which means I've got six more months of gems to look forward to from a number of places.

Add to that our local music scene in Memphis being burgeoning and strong, I can't help but think I'm the proud owner of the luckiest set of ears in the world right now.

Over the course of the next few days, I'm going to try to compile a bunch of my personal favorites from the year in that "Stream And Listen" column. I'm starting off the foray with an album that will be on my top 10 list come years end, a band from the UK called Editors with their debut album, The Back Room. I wrote about it on Scenestars, but I don't think my words alone could do justice to the record. Hearing it, it's as if someone unearthed an amazing Echo and the Bunnymen record that was never released. Check it out for yourself.

I've got to get some sleep, I know there must be something I have to do tomorrow that I haven't done. Goodnight.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Thank You, Margaret Cho.

I just want to thank Margaret Cho for her thoughtful assessment of Zach's story which you can find by clicking here.

The power of the internet is amazing. Seeing Margaret Cho's blog reminds me I have to thank every single person who has reached out to try and help Zach end his plight. You're an amazing group of people -- I hope we can all do something so this will not happen to more kids.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Congratulations, Zach. You've Been Lied To. Again.

First time visitors to my website: thank you for continuing to follow and spread news of Zach's story. In a million billion years, I never could have imagined the response it would generate. I am grateful to each and every one of you. Please take a moment after reading through this posting to visit this page, it should be self-explanatory.

Today's news is that our friend Zach is to remain in the program for 6 weeks at this point. John Smid could not wait to seize this opportunity to make an example out of him because, after all, now Zach is his pet project. He wants to be 100% sure he can get a result that he can parade around in front of the media, so he will spend the next six weeks breaking him in this facility to turn him into the clone that only his family can love. To Smid, he couldn't be more thrilled. He will start to claim, I'm sure, that there are suddenly people lining up to pay him to put their child through his "indoctrination" program.

His parents, for whom I asked mercy and consideration, are being complicitous with this intent. I no longer ask my readers to be meritorious towards them: someone please use the proper legal channels in place to put a stop to this right now.

One of the things people need to understand: there is a coalition who has been fighting this whole thing from day one. There is only one coalition who has been there since day one, and if you've been touched by this story then they need your support. They need for you to work with them.

If you have plans you'd like to execute, something you'd like to see happen, a course of action you think might be helpful in putting an end to all of this, it would be a good idea to write to them and find out how you can help before flying off the handle. BELIEVE ME, everyone is upset. Everyone is tense right now.

However, one of the things everyone here has learned over the last two weeks is that there is an effective way to deal with things and an ineffective one. When you concoct news stories from pieces of other stories, then create and attribute quotes to members of the coalition without even contacting them, you look irresponsible and you make everyone look stupid. Are you listening to me, you certain widely-read gay & lesbian news source?

Adding to the chaos have been a number of people who've decided to take matters into their own hands in regards to this tragedy without first considering what the potential outcome of their actions might be. People are acting because they are angry, not in spite of their anger. That's going to screw things up, folks.

To those people and/or groups, I suggest you get in touch with the Queer Action Coalition at before you proceed with your plans.

To people in the community at large in Memphis, don't be scared off because of that big ol' "Q" word. Whether you're straight, gay, bisexual, lesbian, black, white, red, yellow, purple and polka dotted -- whoever you happen to be, your voices need to be heard. Community leaders, church leaders, people in the theraputic community, civic leaders -- now is the moment where you're called upon to do something that prevents the endangerment of a child.

It's not just up to me. It's up to all of us to just do even one thing. If everyone works together, we can all be a part of history in the making.

If we all work apart, nothing good can come from the chaos.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I Love A Parade. If You Didn't Think They Were Kooks Already, LIA/R Probably Helped You Today.

Things I did not establish today during the press conference that I'd like to get a direct answer on:

(1) The press release calls Love in Action a "Local Ministry" then refers to itself as a "theraputic intervention". In the form people sign when they enter Love In Action, it clearly indicates that this is not a substitute for actual therapy. Is Love In Action a ministry or is it a form of therapy? Well, according to John Smid, it's both.

(2) When someone finishes the program and must engage in sexual relations with their loved one/wife for the purposes of procreation, is it done with lack of feeling? According to John Smid, that's a form of lustful behaviour.

(3) Where are the theraputic credentials of your staff? Well, apparently, they have one doctor (whom they paraded before us today) who has studied psychology and psychotherapy. Coincidentally, he's the head of the Christian Dentistry Association. Short version: someone on the board of directors is a dentist and he says what they're doing is fine. Remind you of any infomercials for weight loss or hair regrowth products you've ever seen?

One thing is certain: they can't decide which door they want to walk through with their arguments. People like this give Christianity a bad name.

You can check out the live coverage here, and an audio recording of the press conference is forthcoming. Stay tuned.

BTW, Zach's last day in the program is tomorrow. I hope he comes out just fine. If prayer is your sort of thing and you're gonna pray for someone tonight, pray for Zach.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The World Has Eyes And Ears, And They're Reading And Listening.

I got word about an hour ago that Love In Action/Refuge is holding a press conference tomorrow morning to discuss something.
Press Conference
LIA will be hosting a press conference on Thursday, June 16, 2005 at 11 a.m. at our facility at 4780 Yale Road. For more information, contact Tommy Corman at (901) 751-2468 or
to download a Press Release,
click here
Could be they are trying to parade their "normalized" gays in front of the national press to prove that what they say is true. More likely, what this usually means is that something dramatic has occurred -- something, perhaps, like an ongoing investigation into a report filed today with the City of Memphis over allegations of child endangerment?

Be prepared to hear more on this tomorrow. Welcome to the jungle.

Has anyone else noticed that the acronym for that group is L.I.A./R.?

UPDATE: You should read the press release. Here's an excerpt for you:

Local ministry calls for open-mindedness and tolerance

MEMPHIS, Tennessee, June 15, 2005: Love in Action International, a Christ-centered Memphis-based international recovery treatment center, is calling upon the community to extend open-minded consideration and tolerance towards young people with same-sex attraction who are currently undergoing the organization’s youth program called Refuge.

Controversy over an individual’s right to self-determination and choice in sexuality has recently been the subject of current debate. Also under assault is the right of parents to determine appropriate therapeutic intervention for minor children according to social and personal conscience. Community and youth leaders, as well as individuals, who have been through the Love in Action International program, will address these issues at a press conference being held tomorrow.

Oh good. I love a parade. Bring on the hot dog vendors and the clown car, the circus is in town.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Drue Diehl Had A Birthday, And I Didn't Forget The Pictures!

With much thanks to Miss Hellion, I was able to capture a few stellar moments from Drue Diehl's Birthday at the Hi-Tone last week. What with all the frenzy of the last week, I might have forgotten to upload the pics. But, now I've got a gallery online where I can stick pictures if'n I obtain them. I don't actually own a digital camera right now, but who knows? Maybe one of you nice people out there will donate a digital camera to me! Anyways, click here to see Drue's birthday in Technicolor. A great time was had by all.

Monday, June 13, 2005

My Favorite Restaurant Is Having A Show! Punk Wok Buffet Friday June 17 9pm At Pho Hoa Binh

Like I Told You People Before, Michael Jackson Is Innocent.

I can remember, as a child, being in rehearsals for a performance of "OLIVER!" at Southwestern (now Rhodes) college. I carried my walkman with me everywhere and in the player, like millions of other kids, I was listening to "Thriller" by Michael Jackson. It even today is one of the most well-produced, best-sounding albums ever created. My friends and I had a pizza party to celebrate watching the first airing of "Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' Video" on MTV. He made a record with E.T. He drew out the spirit of every performer he worked with, and the mere mention of his name brought hushed whispers over rooms of adults and children alike. Michael Jackson represented the child in all of us then, and with today's verdict one might be tempted to think that still holds true.

The years of pilfering Michael's notorious goodwill by neer-do-wells, grifters, con artists, and people with an affliction related to celebrity have done much to interfere with the wunderkind of Michael Jackson's creative ability. It has affected his mental stability, his health, and yes, sadly, his career as one of the world's top performers.

The worst part, I fear, is that the verdict will not be enough to refocus people on Michael Jackson the artist. People in America don't seem to like anyone that has more money than they do, and people will use the same tired phrases to explain away the verdict -- "If I had millions of dollars, I could get off, too!" Michael's statements about sharing his bed with boys is, to people like you and me, way too repulsive to be considered acceptable -- "What other 46 year old man would you let share a bed with your child?" Too much has been said by people with an agenda, too many hard feelings have been pressed around, the sound bytes that people have picked up, convictions of the pundits and those repelled by the allure of Jackson the person will still seek to weigh him down. Can anyone tell me what O.J. is up to these days?

Michael's fascination with circus freaks, with P.T. Barnum, with what most of us deem as oddball and eccentric notwithstanding, is it such a stretch to see him as representing the sheer innocence that we each lose as we grow older? To see him as something more pure than we can understand? If we can believe that the people who have been around Michael Jackson over the last 46 years have a certain practical level of good judgement, there has to be a valid reason why reasonable people would behave differently around him than they would around anyone else. Maybe he's not such an evil, horrible creature after all.

Or maybe in his own mind, he is one of Barnum's freaks himself.

Part of me still resembles that kid rocking out to "P.Y.T." and "Beat It" in the dressing room. Part of me occasionally longs for that pizza party and my friends, most of whom I will never see again. But the way that I understand Michael Jackson will never be the same again.

It doesn't matter whether anyone ever thought he was guilty or innocent in the first place. The verdict is the verdict, and you're going to think about it whatever you thought about the whole damned thing before.

But wouldn't it be ok if we simply tried believing that there might be a love so pure in the world that it destroys all of our myths and notions about the worst in humanity?

Congratulations, Michael. On the off chance that the jurors were wrong about their decision today, maybe you should get some help.

But don't go to Love In Action for it, please?

Thanks To Mike Ditto From Janus Online -- Hey Media Folks In Memphis, John Smid's Quote Is Verified. When Does Your Story Run?

According to Mike Ditto of Janus Online, he received an email from the editor of the gay periodical called We The People based in a Santa Rosa, Ca. We The People, in March of 1994, published the original article written by someone named Dennis Anderson which carried that heinous quote from John Smid. Not familiar with it? The one in which Smid suggested to Tom Ottosen, a current ex-ex-gay, that "I would rather you commit suicide than to leave Love In Action and return to a homosexual lifestyle wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery."

News media in Memphis were hesitant to run the quote on the 5, 6, or 10 o'clock news. But now, please hear me: you can run the story. According to Mike's comments at Ex-Gay Watch Blog:

I received the following in an e-mail from the editor:

I can verify the quote attributed to John Smid, director of Lone in Action, San Rafael's ex-gay organization. An ex-member, then 24-year old Tom Ottosen recalled Smid's words while speaking with We the People's Dennis Anderson. At the time, Ottosen was grappling with suicidal thoughts and was considering leaving Love in Action.

So the quote is verified (i.e. it hasn't been altered since it was gathered), and should be given as much weight as any second-hand quote--not as much as a first-hand quote, but not discounted either. Nixon denied saying the things Deep Throat and other sources said he said, until the tapes came out and confirmed the stories.

Peggy? Darrell? Anybody? Are you listening? That means it's okay for our local news to quit playing mumblypeg with children's lives and air the quote. This sound byte should make it much easier to denounce conclusively Love In Action as harmful to attendees so that more people in our community and in the United States will become outraged. Thank you to all the local Memphis media for your support and unbiased reporting of this story.

I highly recommend a review of Love In Action over at Janus Online. Michael Ditto, thank you so very much.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

I Feel The Need To Say Something About The Parents.

One thing is for sure: everyone who has read about this controversy have rushed to judgement about Zach's parents, wondering privately and publicly how a family could do something like this to their child. I don't know about you, but I am fortunate in that I have a loving, caring family. We have had our spats as I was growing up, but I know that love to be unconditional in spite of our minor differences.

I would like everyone who has expressed anger with his parents to consider the possiblity of using some restraint when rushing to judgement. His parents are people whom I don't even know (nor do most people reading this).

Everyone who has ever been a teenager has had problems with their family. Some families choose to employ methods that you and I find to be archaic, inappropriate, or inconceivable to work thru their problems. Are they punishing their child for being gay, or is it that they simply don't understand it fully and made a rash decision?

I have no doubt that this program was chosen in conjunction with counseling by a pastor or other family confidant and not entirely by the family itself. This is a case which has brought that focus of the controversy to light: what we are dealing with here is a family matter.

One thing is certain in Zach's writing, and I want to emphasize it to you: in spite of his feelings regarding his parents' collective decision-making, he does not hate them and he urges all of us to do the same. After all the name-calling and threatening people on the internet have done, perhaps his parents are not the monsters. Maybe his parents are hard-working, church-going people who were lulled into believing, incorrectly, that the program they were placing their child into would save him from their perception of life as a homosexual. It is possible that they are just as fallible and human as all of us.

Since nobody has spoken directly with his family at this point (and how could anyone, as spooked as they are by the controversy), I am urging you to consider a different approach and think about this differently for a second. Perhaps we should approach this with a bit more love of our own, maybe give them the benefit of the doubt and say that it is entirely plausible that in their own world, they might not have the capability to farm out the resources that many of us have. Their ignorance to the thousands upon thousands of people whom this story has reached is purely unintentional. In order to imagine this horror, I still have to believe that his parents love their son and have no intention of harming him directly or indirectly; maybe they want what they deem to be best for him because they believe what they are doing is the right thing.

It's easy to think of them as horrible, evil people. What if we think of them as we think of ourselves: people trying to do the right thing for the well-being of their son? What if that's really all his parents are? Wouldn't you do anything so that your son or daughter could have the life you would want them to have?

As reprehensible as I find this one decision of his parents, and as one of the fortunate people whose family has mutual unconditional love, I don't know them. It's one decision made over the course of a lifetime as a parent. I have to at least consider taking the high road where his parents are concerned and instead focus on the irreparable damage programs like Love In Action are known to cause. I don't know that I can place blame entirely on them. What's that whole thing in the Bible about "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do"? Perhaps it comes down to one reality: maybe, just maybe, his parents have been lulled by the work of a charlatan, and his name is John Smid.

There are plenty of things we would all do differently if we had them to do over again. Just something for you to think about. I merely want to present a possiblity for all of us to consider. I am not taking a side in the matter with this posting. Your comments are welcome.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Here's Some "Love In Action" For You -- Send Someone A Letter And Tell Them How You Feel.

This came from a comment left on Zach's blog. Why didn't I think of this before? Thanks to Paul, whoever you are.

UPDATE ON THAT QUOTE ABOUT "SUICIDE": I'm waiting on a confirmation from the paper that ran the original story that carried the quote in March of 1994. Smid claims he was misquoted, but confirmed all other details of the story. Now, why do you suppose that is? Sounds like someone's trying to cover up the fact they wrote a check with their mouth that their ass can't cash.

Start writing now


Marsha Blackburn
Email Address:


Harold E. Ford, Jr.

Email Address:

City of Memphis

Mayor Willie W. Herenton

Web Form:

Memphis City Attorney

Sara Hall

Email Address:

Memphis Chamber of Congress

R. Marc Jordan

President and CEO

Email Address:

Suzanne Dangerfield

Executive Assistant to the President

Email Address:

John Threadgill

Chief Administrative Officer

Email Address:

Memphis City Schools Board of Education

Stephanie Gatewood
District 1

Email Address:

Deni C. Hirsh
District 2

Email Address:

Patrice Jordan Robinson
District 3

Email Address:

Michael Hooks, Jr.
District 4

Email Address:

Dr. Jeff Warren
District 5

Email Address:

Carl Johnson, Sr.
District 6

Email Address:

Tomeka R. Hart
District 7

Email Address:

Wanda M. Halbert

At-Large Pos. 1

Email Address:

Sara L. Lewis

At-Large Pos. 2

Email Address:

The Office of the Honorable Al Gore
2100 West End Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: (615) 327-2227
Fax: (615) 327-1323

Oh Windows XP, You Miserable Piece Of Crap...

I finally did it, folks. I actually broke something on my computer, and now it's stuck in an endless loop. With the thousands of folks now visiting my website thanks to Metafilter and others seeking news of the protest, now I need your help.

For some reason, every time I reboot Windows XP Media Center Edition, it says "You must activate this copy of Windows before you log on. Do you want to do this now?" I hit yes, and it takes me to the activation screen. When the activation screen pops up, it says, "Windows is already activated. Click OK to exit." When I click exit, it logs me off.

I have Googled this until my head is about to explode. Every forum has a different solution that does not seem to work. Clearly, something is boffed with the activation on my product.

Does anyone have any earthly idea how to resolve this problem? Your help is greatly appreciated. Leave me comments, lets talk about this. I have two days before it becomes a serious problem. Barring fixing it, I'm going to have to reformat my hard drive and start over.

Friday, June 10, 2005

UPDATE YOUR LINKS -- Day Five of Demonstration Against "Love In Action"

Please take a minute to update your links for information regarding these demonstrations. People who are planning to visit from outside Memphis, please send an email to to contact the organizers.

IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO JOIN THE DEMONSTRATION: Please arrive no later than 8:30 AM any day Monday thru Friday of next week. The address is 4780 Yale Road.

Take Austin Peay past the Raleigh Springs Mall, take a right on Yale Road. The church is on your left at the next light. You can take a left on the street next to the church and park. It is a residential neighborhood, so when parking be sure and be considerate of the neighbors.

Driving Directions from Downtown Memphis

Driving Directions from Cordova

Driving Directions from Germantown

Driving Directions from East Memphis

Driving Directions from University of Memphis Area

Driving Directions from Southaven, MS

Driving Directions from Little Rock, AR

Driving Directions from Nashville, TN

Queer Action Coalition (OFFICIAL Site of Love In Action demonststrations in Memphis
The Flypaper Theory (Which Everyone Should Be Reading)
Metafilter - Linked to me June 10
AMERICAblog - John Aravosis
Love In Action Protest Forum
Morgan's LiveJournal
Psych Central Info On Ex-Gay Movement
American Psychological Association Info On Sexuality

Thursday, June 09, 2005

In Times of Great Human Suffering, Silence Is The Voice Of Complicity; Neutrality A Crime.

This is a cross-post from something I wrote in Morgan's LiveJournal. It occurred to me that someone else might see it here first, so I'm putting it here to be read as well.

Our friend, without whose words this demonstration would not be happening, needs to see his friends. I understand everyone has jobs, I think that many of his friends are also minors, many without their own transportation. Add to that reality over-protective parents who have told their kids "stay out of it", and you've got the very people who should most be there unable to be.

His close friends and their parents who have been reading this, please hear me: you've gotta show up. Just show up once if you are physically able to. It's half an hour of your life that would probably mean everything to your friend/the friend of one of your children.

The great writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once said, "In times of great human suffering, silence is the voice of complicity; neutrality, a crime." If you have any thanks for the fact that you are loved or that your children are loved, neutrality will yield any efforts at making a difference null.

If you are willing to act in spite of your fears, you will have done more than simply a good deed. You will have taken part in something which might save a young man's life.

He needs to see your faces, friends of his. At 8:30 every morning M-F until June 17th, you have a chance to let him know that complete strangers are not the only people who heard his cry for help.

The choice is yours to remain neutral or to say, once and for all, "I don't agree with this, and I cared enough to show up in person and let you know."

Oh Hay, Scenestars Is Back -- Tell Your Mammanem.

Scenestars was offline for a few days, but at last it is back. Go check out some new music & tell your friends. We apologize for the delay, but technical problems with our domain registrar prevented us from serving you. Go on now, listen to some music, k?

Putting It Out There -- Day Four

I woke up with the worst headache of my life. I could barely focus on anything. My head was swimming with thoughts of how far this thing has reached, with confusion about my role, and with the thought of a teenager trapped in the jaws of someone else's opinion about what love is.

But I still got out of bed and went.

I went to the protest today to see what was happening first hand, to be with the people who have been demonstrating every day this week. I just needed to see for myself what I was dealing with, to find out in what way I could continue to help. I came to the realization that beyond my simply being there and updating this blog with links, there was not much else that needed to be done. Things were moving forward.

I recognize today that the extent of this debacle goes far beyond one center in Memphis, far beyond one group proselytizing to the unwilling in the hopes that some of it would stick. My conclusions remained the same:

The use of rehabilitative technique to achieve a change in a person who, in the opinion of the American Psychological Association, does not have a choice, is a form of torture and abuse. It is akin to hypochondria, it is ineffective, and it is wrong. If someone seeks out this type of treatment, it should always be their choice. When the element of choice is removed, it becomes a violation of civil and human rights.

In the days and weeks to come, I'm sure we will all be hearing more about this. But if I just do one thing every day to further the cause of cutting off the head of this great Hydra with which I've been presented, I've achieved a goal. I encourage everyone reading to do the same.

Below, please find links to all resource sites that you would need to continue to follow, and feel free to keep checking here.

To the demonstrators, bloggers, journalists, friends, parents, and others visiting, I say thank you for caring enough to take the time. If you've already done something, thank you.

If you're trying to figure out what to do, all you have to do in order to figure it out is to do what these kids are forced to do every day: show up and ask someone.

Queer Action Coalition Blog (OFFICAL SITE for the Love In Action/Refuge Protest)
The Flypaper Theory (Which Everyone Should Be Reading)
AMERICAblog - John Aravosis
Love In Action Protest Forum
River City Mud Company
Psych Central Info On Ex-Gay Movement
American Psychological Association Info On Sexuality

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Risking Alienation -- Day Three of Protests Against "Love In Action"

When I first read Zach's plight in his own blog, I was moved to write about it in my blog. That's how blogging works -- you tell people what you know to be going on. Because of the atrocity of the situation, I worked to attract attention to it. I never imagined or envisioned the level to which things have gotten in such a short period of time. Blogospheric synchronicity, interviews for local news, looking up old friends for help. At the center of the debate the last 24 hours has been whether or not to use Zach's name or links to his blog for fear of repercussions by the Love In Action/Refuge people, his parents, or others.

At the heart of the controversy is an incident which occurred Tuesday when one of the young protesters was seen on the TV news by their father. The father, according to what I have been told, took away car keys, cell phone, and personal possesions of the protester in question. These items have not been returned to the best of my knowledge. This sent a signal to everyone involved to work at protecting the connections and identities of minors who are involved in the protest and, of course, that of Zach himself.

As I told the TV news last night, I am responsible for my words on the internet. When I put something out there for people to read or see, I'm inviting them into my head. I'm giving them a call to arms or some inclination as to what I'm thinking -- good or bad. Once the idea leaves my head, I know it's already been co-opted somewhere. Of course, I am an adult. I'm not subject to the same merit of protection that, say, a 16 year old boy is.

But the question I wrestled with privately and publicly: do I start censoring myself and trying to "un-ring" the bell once it has happened? How does that do any kind of service to Zach or his situation? Am I helping Zach by trying to initiate some kind of spin on my original story? Am I the jerk because I decided to post his picture and links to his blog on my page to allow people to humanize the horrors he is dealing with? Am I responsible for what happened to the young protester?

Unlike those who were involved in the protest those days, I agreed of my own free will to be filmed for the news -- solely because the cause itself has gained momentum and people wanted to know why. Were it not for the demonstrators being filmed and having that footage placed with television news, this probably wouldn't have happened. I think the best has been done to curb usage of that footage at this point & I'm not making a point that anyone does not recognize.

However, the protests do not carry the weight or intention that a demonstration should carry. This is why more people need to show up -- parents, kids, friends, teachers, pastors, whomever. Just being there for them is enough to let them know you care.

After many long discussions, I think that the entire process has started to come together. The people showing their love and support to those kids being taken to and from the center every day is extremely important to those kids. Though they may not know the extent of the support now, they know that something is going on outside on their behalf. If it were me, I would have to think it at least makes it far more tolerable to sit in those rooms all day with that knowledge.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Protest Against Love In Action - Day Two - "I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action..."

"I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery." --The Final Indoctrination from John Smid, Director, Love In Action (LIA)

That quote came directly from the mouth of that man. So now I ask you, my readers: what will it take? Is this what it will take to get you to realize what is going on over at Love In Action? Protest day two appears to have continued in much the same way day one did. About 30 people showed up at the center to show their love & support. While people stood outside with signs and began to organize more effective measures (including plans to protest twice a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays), I made a few phone calls to some old friends.

I rarely if ever call on old acquaintances for help, but this story grabbed me far too deeply to simply write about it in my own column. I know the national media needs to know what is happening here & I have a feeling that we will be hearing more from them very soon. Emails were sent out to some of the best people I know of in terms of gay activism and media outlets. I'm not at the point where I can name anyone's name right now, but once they see this quote, I can't imagine those folks not being steaming mad.

Essentially, John Smid is using rhetoric employed by a number of other self-help programs and applying it to homosexuality. To someone coming to terms with their sexuality, this type of statement is both inflammatory and irresponsible. Someone needs to expose this man and his organization for the fraud that it is.

Here is a link to the story that ran last night on WMC-TV 5. You'll need Windows Media Player to open it.

Seattle Tops List for Wireless Web Access, Memphis Asks "What's Wi-Fi?"

Hey, Memphis? Why can't we get somewhere on this list?


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Seattle and San Francisco are the most "unwired cities" in America - top spots for computer junkies who send e-mail and surf the Web at restaurants, libraries or public plazas.

Metropolitan Seattle percolated past the San Francisco Bay area this year thanks to an abundance of Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) outlets, which have wireless "hot spots" where patrons linger over latte and laptops, according to Intel Corp. (INTC)'s annual ranking. Seattle also benefited from wireless access at its Pike Place Market and the Space Needle.

San Francisco finished second, thanks to wireless hubs at bars, convention centers, office parks and strip malls from Oakland to San Jose. Hundreds of residents build wireless access towers on their roofs, providing free connections for neighbors.

Also in the top 10: Austin, Texas; Portland, Ore.; Toledo, Ohio; Atlanta; Denver; the Research Triangle area of North Carolina; Minneapolis; and Orange County, Calif.

Santa Clara-based Intel ranked cities based on the number of commercial or free "Wi-Fi" points from January to April 15 in the 100 largest urban regions in the United States.

Short for "wireless fidelity," Wi-Fi delivers high-speed Internet connections through a small radio tower. About the size of a can of beer, the radio can provide access to any mobile device within 300 feet.

Intel, which makes chips for wireless devices, is bullish about Wi-Fi. But the newest survey shows the nation as a patchwork - not blanket - of access.

College campuses, technology hubs and even golf courses boosted rankings, while poorer urban centers trailed. Low-ranking regions included Jersey City, N.J.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Allentown, Pa.; Youngstown, Ohio; Bakersfield, Calif.; and McAllen, Texas.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Before You Ask, No I Am Not A Radical.

That being said, I wholly support any action which results in changes that promote awareness of human rights violations anywhere at any time -- even when I cannot participate. Radicalism is merely a cog in the machinery of change, in my opinion. Radical activity resulting in direct and immediate change is generally not the status quo. Successful radical groups do not act in haste, they plan their actions carefully and skillfully. They know the enemy of their cause well before taking any action and, in some cases, are successful in achieving results.

Ok, why am I saying all this gobbledygook? Nothing makes me happier than to see Morgan Jon Fox quickly organize and assemble people to come to the aid and defense of our new friend. He is in a crisis situation and the most important thing that can happen to a person in crisis is to let them know that someone cares.

However, as the person who generated this story to The Pesky Fly, Morgan's call to action puts me in a difficult position. If I say that I think the action was done in haste, then I will be told that I don't support the cause. I will be said to be dismantling the cause or, in some way, portraying it as "stupid" to visitors.

On the other hand, if I say that the action taken today was done correctly and that I agree with the effectiveness of it, I'm lying to you and to myself.

One has to ask onesself if the purpose for calling attention to a cause is for personal glory or for the greater good. The very reason that I leaked this story to The Pesky Fly before blogging about it myself was that I wanted to instill the same upset I was feeling to someone within the press whose audience is much broader than my own and whom I know to be an ally. Initially, I thought to stay out of it altogether. Now, I feel a sense of responsibility to everyone I've gotten involved-- to my readers, to Morgan, and primarily to Zach and others like him.

Much of my thinking today is the result of my own choice to seek out self-help groups, to see things from a different perspective. The difference between my experience and what this young man is experiencing is the element of choice. Forcing someone into self-help has never been proven to be effective, and less than 5% of those who, by choice, are involved in the self-help groups with which I have been involved remain focused on the ideals of that self-help group for more than 1 year.

I'm grappling with all of these concepts meeting headlong in an issue that I have strong feelings about. Now I feel like I've been twisted every which direction, not really knowing what to say or do.

At the end of it all, there is the young man at the center of things. He is the person whom all of this is about. It's not about me or Fly or Morgan or anyone else. It's about a violation of his human rights being carried out in the name of Christianity or God. It's about granting him the freedom of expression to be the person he already is without fear of repercussion. It's about sending a message that this type of mind-numbing fundamentalist behaviour induces people to live in fear of themselves constantly.

You can pray for lies to become the truth, but no matter how hard you pray they will never be true.

I was just informed, moments ago, that the ACLU is on the case. For our friend's sake, I hope this makes his life better.

And Then, Beggars Group Turns Out To Be So Nice To Me.

Sometimes, the job of writing a blog is a humbling experience. I've just finished a phone conversation with an extremely nice man at Beggars Group in the UK wherein I realized that everyone is given barking orders -- sometimes even at the expense of the little guys. I was unsure of how that phone conversation would go, given the nature of its content. I was not only surprised but left with the feeling that if I were an artist signed to a label, these are exactly the people I would want working on behalf of my interests.

It stands to reason that people obtain positions of authority because of their ability to carefully weigh even the smallest of details. The sign of a truly great leader, co-worker, or business person is their ability to manage all facets of situations which arise with equal temperance and intellect.

All that long, drawn-out stuff is to say thank you to the folks at XL Recordings and Beggars Banquet in the UK for being understanding in light of some miscommunication.

Andy Gershon at V2 Tells Hits Magazine To Stuff It.

According to Coolfer, on Friday the Hits' Rumor Mill took some unnecessary jabs at V2 Records, calling them an "understaffed company" and suggesting the possibility of what an "underperforming White Stripes" record might do -- "cause the company to fizzle?"

Andy Gershon, who is a friend to this blog and to dozens of other music bloggers around the world for willingness to expand into new medias to promote his artists, issued a hard and fast response to the editor-in-chief at Hits, Leonard Beer. Click here to read the article on Coolfer's blog with more incendiary quotes. Below is the reprinted email in which Gershon says that the only thing Hits magazine has ever given to V2 is invoices. A worthwhile read and with thanks to Glenn @ Coolfer for the story.

Dear Lenny,

Ain't we pals, anymore? You know, it is much easier to spread misinformation and be a pathetic golfer than it is to work at a record label these days. Lenny, let's face it and call a spade a spade. You got your facts wrong, not that you care about getting them right (the Moby record is actually profitable) and the Stripes record is set up quite well with a ship out of 600,000 records. Not that we are whores and trying to outsell Coldplay; we won't. They are a bigger band, but you know what? I don?t need to defend the label to you and you know why. You trash people that don't pay you. Pure and simple. You have run a business that has always played upon the insecurities of the executives of the record industry and it is about time you get called out on it. You and I have had these conversations about what exactly Hits ever delivered for V2, and the only conclusion I could ever come up with is invoices.

Isn't it ironic that the White Stripes new single has been in the top 10 at Alternative Radio for the past several weeks (according to factual reporting services like Mediabase and BDS) and it somehow isn't even listed on your charts? Could it be that since we are not paying you for the White Stripes that it somehow doesn't exist on your chart? Your tactics remind me of the mob's protection schemes, but the only difference is that with the mob, at least my garbage got picked up weekly.

You used to be nice and write nice things, WHEN we paid you. But in a difficult business environment you pay for services that get you results and thus, that is why you haven't received any money from V2 in the past year plus, and that is why we are profitable on many of our records. You are grasping to get every last dollar while you can, continuing to try to instill some sort of fear with your power of the pen and your so called influence with MTV and radio. You are nothing more than a two bit hustler at the end of the day, relying on strong arm tactics of fear in a very tough, transitional period in the music industry. Instead of working to make it a better place, you try to keep it at your gutter level. You are nothing more than an armchair quarterback, bullying through your paper-thin magazine and amusing website. Perhaps when your magazine eventual withers away, you can get a job at the New York Post.

Bets reagrds,

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Meet Zach. While You're Enjoying Your Summer, He's Being Sent To A Camp Where They Make Gay Kids 'Normal' Again.

Zach is 16 years old. I've never met Zach, but it's pretty obvious he is in for a summer he never planned.

At first glance, he seems like a normal kid. He has lots of friends, he goes to school in Bartlett, he likes bands like The Killers, Josh Groban, Perfect Circle. This summer, he was probably looking forward to doing what kids do -- hanging out with his friends, maybe working, reading, video know, regular kid-type stuff?

The only thing that makes him different is the fact that he's gay. Coming to this realization, he told his parents that he was gay. The news clearly rocked their Christian values and beliefs -- so much so that they made a plan. Zach went about his normal life for a while, never knowing that just around the corner was an intent -- that he would be sent to a camp where they try to use Christian beliefs to make gay kids "normal" again.

You should visit his MySpace page and add him as a friend if you're on MySpace. Make sure and read his blog -- read the laundry list of rules he is forced to endure in his visit to Refuge at the Kirby Woods Baptist Church on the corner of Poplar and Massey where they will try to make him normal again. Leave comments for him. Link this thread all over the blogosphere. Send a message that this type of psychological torture being inflicted on people in today's world is unforgiveable.

Christianity, if I understand it, is not about changing people. It's about accepting them for who and what they are even if you don't like it. To his parents, please remember that the only people who think of Zach as different are you. The only reason why he knows you think of him as different is simple: because now you're treating him that way. This type of thing should be considered child abuse.

Zach, for all the attention, seems to be M.I.A. right now. But he's checking in. Let him know you care.

UPDATE 6/7: Links removed. Thank you for your support.

Friday, June 03, 2005

What The Hell Is Wrong With These People? The Internet's Not Big Enough For The Both Of Us, WebSheriff.

The self-proclaimed "police of the internet" over at WebSheriff apparently sent a DMCA Copyright Violation notice to Scenestars' domain registrar this afternoon (unbeknownst to me until 30 minutes ago). The "violation" revolves around a complaint from Beggars Group over "MP3 Downloading" of tracks from the new White Stripes Get Behind Me Satan album.

Now, I don't know how people with no brains get hired to work for a company that peddles itself as an "On-Line Rights Enforcement" group -- but apparently they can. Anyone with any internet skills at all knows the difference between downloading an MP3 and listening to streaming content. But not these dimbulbs. Like regular police, they get a complaint and act upon it, frequently without doing any investigating of their own.

What's the end result? Well, you can't get to Scenestars by typing in your browser for a few days until we get it resolved. However, nobody says you have to type www before the domain name, do they?

The nice folks at V2 Records (who have been more than generous) were kind enough to work with me on making sure that the streaming of the record was timed to coincide with similar streams being offered by websites much bigger than Scenestars. Apparently, the people at V2 are much brighter than the people at Beggars Group, which leads one to wonder who at Beggars Banquet doesn't have the balls or brains to send me an email personally about something like this. Instead, they just pulled out the big guns like we're trading some huge inside secret. RELAX, FRANCIS -- the record is out on TUESDAY and you can already pre-order it. In fact, I put up links to allow visitors to do just that -- sending them to iTunes or Amazon to actually purchase the single or album for keeps.

Who is policing the police to make sure that the rights of people who are in compliance are not being violated? That's what I want to know.

What I'd really like to know is what Beggars Group is going to do when people like me stop promoting their artists for fear they are going to do the same thing again? I guess they'll have to find out the hard way how many of us are out here doing exactly that -- marketing their bands for free and asking nothing in return.

You want to put a stop to that? Be my guest. Just don't bitch when your label goes bankrupt due to a slump in sales caused by a tarnished reputation and a ho-hum catalog of has-beens. You label dicks need to recognize: we're the little guys. You keep pissing on us, you'll have nobody left to talk about your product but a bunch of over-privileged glam rags -- which, coincidentally, people like us little guys purchase and read!

I guess the only way to make a bully go away is to fight him head on. I've got my gloves on, let's fight.

Weekend Update! Saturday NIGHT!

I didn't like the other flyer so I made my own. Bah! BE THERE!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

That's Right, Bitches. Jack White Is A Married Man.

Via This Modern Age. It has been confirmed. Rachel sweety, I guess you'd better get cracking on that Ryan Adams dude.

Digital Camera Places In Brooklyn? OH, SNAP.

I really liked this piece from Brooklyn Vegan (via Boing Boing) about digital camera stores in Brooklyn. Now, see, it's funny that people are actually hip to the dirty storefront with the wack awning being the place to get the bargain. Back ten or fifteen years ago in NYC, you couldn't walk down the street without coming face-to-face at least once with a veritable electronics warehouse in an ugly storefront. You'd see all that shit crammed into the window and then walk inside. Once in there, you'd realize all the boxes were mad dusty, the batteries were all "Durraccell" brand (yeah, with two 'r's and two 'c's), and the dude behind the counter spoke English only slightly better than your cab driver. You could get deals on gear that would make any rational person go, "THESE PRICES ARE INSANE!" You knew something had to be really wrong, but you didn't care. You bought your goods, paid cash, and prayed that NYPD wasn't onto them.

Yeah, well, Crazy Eddie didn't know about the shady biz going on in the stockroom of that place, either. Neither did we, we just liked the fresh gear for the low-low. Regardless, if you're in the market for a digital camera, Brooklyn is *the* spot to do your buying. Check this link for pics and addresses of digital camera dealers in Brooklyn, yo.

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