Friday, March 31, 2006

NASDAQ-100 Open Women's Final Preview

Svetlana Kuznetsova (12) vs. Maria Sharapova RUS (4). After winning a heart poundingly close battle with Martina Hingis in the Round of 16 (13-11 in the 3rd set!!) "Sveta" took out her doubles partner and new "best buddy" (ESPN2's Mary Joe Fernandez's innocuously sapphic term) Amélie Mauresmo 6-1, 6-4 by blasting dozens of winners past the World's #1 player. Sharapova had a much harder time (along with boos from the crowd) with hometown favourite Tatiana Golovin who saved four match point in the second set but completely rolled over her ankle in the 8th game of the final set down 3-4 and was forced to retire. After both Russian players defeated the French players in the semi-finals this sets up an all-Rusian final, reminiscent of 2004's French Open final (Myskina d. Dementieva) and Wimbledon final (Kuznetsova d. Dementieva). Recall that another Russian player won a major title in 2004: 17-year old Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon over Serena Williams. The all-Russian finals are not usually very good matches and one would expect a nervy gutsy match to go to Sharapova. But if you saw the way Kuznetsova was blasting balls past Mauresmo on Thursday, no one could beat her. Hopefully, she will continue to remain in top form for Saturday's NASDAQ-100 final.

PREDICTION: Kuznetsova in 3 sets.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

MA: Supreme Judicial Court Limits Extent of Gay Marriage Ruling

Today the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court refused to strike down a seldom-used 1913 law which banned citizens from getting married in Massachusetts if the marriage would not be valid or recognized in the couple's home jurisdiction. The law was initially passed to prevent interracial couples from getting married in Massachusetts since most states banned interracial marriages at the time.

Today, 38 states officially ban gay marriage either through statutes or initiatives generally called "mini-DOMAs" after the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act which was signed into law by (former University of Arkansas Law Professor) President William Jefferson Clinton.

Today's ruling only ruled that couples from states which have banned gay marriage can not travel to Massachusetts to obtain a legal marriage but remanded the case back to a lower court to determine whether the law applies to couples from states like New York and Rhode Island which have not officially banned gay marriage.

Oral arguments are set for May 31 before New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals, on the question of whether gay marriage is legal in that state. The attorney general Eliot Spitzer, while arguing that current New York law does not allow gay marriage is running for Governor this year and has recently issued a statement in favor of gay marriage.

Nasdaq-100 Open women's semifinal preview

Amélie Mauresmo FRA (1) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS (12). After becoming #1 last week again after winning her first Grand Slam title in Australia in January, Mauresmo is demonstrating in Miami that she intends to play formidable tennis all year long. However, Kuznetsova has repeatedly been described as "the most talented" of the current wave of female Russian players (featuring former Wimbledon champ Maria Sharapova, French Open champ Anastasia Myskina, Elena Dementieva and Nadia Petrova) by none other than Martina Navratilova. Kuznetsova won a heart poundingly close battle with Martina Hingis in the Round of 16 (11-9 in the 3rd set!!) and appears to be coming back from her 2005 slump. The supremely confident Mauresmo will be able to withstand the Russian power and romp to a win. PREDICTION: Mauresmo in 3 sets.

Maria Sharapova RUS (4) vs. Tatiana Golovin FRA (22). Although Sharapova has not been playing the excellent tennis which won her first tournament in over 6 months last week at the Pacific Life Open over Dementieva, she is finding a way to just continue fighting and scrapping until she gets a win. Golovin had a good win over Dementieva in the Round of 16. Expect lots of photographers at this match between two long-legged blonde beauties who like to blast the ball around the court. PREDICTION: Sharapova in straight sets.

Monday, March 27, 2006

FOOD: Joan and Sisters Restaurant Surprises and Pleases

I have been looking for decent home-style West Indian/Caribbean food in Los Angeles ever since I discovered that it exists all over Brooklyn about 5 years ago. Derrick's Jamaican Cuisine? No. Cha Cha Cha? Good, but too fancy. Coley's Place? Close, but not the same thing as real West Indian (Eastern Caribbean) cooking. Tigeorge's Chicken? Good, but Haitian, not West Indian food. One criterion is does the place sell roti. Interestingly, writing up this post has led me to a website which claims there is a "rotishop" in Inglewood, called the Caribbean Treehouse Restaurant, which I will check out and review at a later date.

Today's post is about Joan and Sisters Restaurant. Interestingly, this is Belizean Restaurant, which is not West Indian or East Carribbean but does seem come closest to the food I am looking for which is always available at Gloria's West Indian Restaurant in Brooklyn. On the recommendation of a Jamaican friend I went to the "Two Sister's Restaurant on Western and Exposition" (i.e. Joan and Sisters) and ordered the short ribs meal for lunch. Absolutely delicious. The meat was well-spiced, but incredibly tender. The red beans and rice blended together in a comforting mixture. They also provided generous slices of lemon pie and bread pudding for dessert. Unfortunately, both of these confections were overly sweet. Overall, Joan and Sisters was a pleasant surprise.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Insanely Ignorant Immigration Initiative Incenses Immigrants

For the past few weekends there have been huge street protests in major U.S. cities (Chicago, Phoenix, San Jose, etc) to call attention to H.R. 4337.
In Los Angeles, a crowd estimated at over 500, 000 strong marched yesterday on City Hall to call attention to the contributions of immigrants to this country (and city, county and state). The bill, authored by U.S. Rep. James Sensebrenner (R-WI), passed the U.S. House of Representatives on December 22, 2005 by a vote of 239-182.The bill, titled "The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005" would make radical changes to current immigration law:
  • Makes the status of being undocumented an aggravated felony
  • Authorizes the building of a 800-mile fence along the USA-Mexico border
  • Mandates that within two years of enactment every employer in the United States must verify the legal employment status of every (future and current) employee
  • Eliminates judicial review of visa revocation
  • Increases penalties and sets mandatory minimum sentences for immigrants who fail to respond to deportation (now renamed "removal") orders
  • Increases the number of penalties for which a legal immgrant (documented resident alien) can be deported (i.e. three drunk driving arrest, social security or identity fraud, etc)
  • and, many, many more!

The provision which raised the ire and provoked explicit statements of noncompliance from the Roman Catholic U.S. Conference of Bishops was the idea that anyone found assisting an immigrant would also be committing a felony and subject to arrest. It's not clear to me if some of the more explicitly racist provisions like prohibiting pregnant women from travelling to the United States to give birth and modifying the legal doctrine of jus soli (birthright citizenship) to children who are born in the United States who have parents who are either already citizens or permanent residents ae still in the bill.

georgia10 at has done an excellent job of highlighting this issue. Even Senator Hillary Clinton has called the legislation "mean-spirited." President Bush called for a comprehensive approach to immigration reform in his weekly radio address to the Nation.

MadProfresssah and the nearly one million people who have rallied in support of immigrants in the past few weeks are watching the immigration debate very closely. We shall see...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Venus and Serena Skip Tier 1 Tournament Near Home

The NASDAQ-100 Open tournament started in Key Biscayne, FL on Wednesday without defending champion Serena Williams and the #10 player in the World, Venus Williams. They both withdrew due to injury, even though the Williams sisters have a residence in Palm Beach Gradens, which is very close to the site of the tournament.

REVIEW: V for Vendetta

The movie V for Vendetta, written by the Wachowski Brothers (the creative force behind The Matrix movies) opened on Friday March 17th with a weekend gross of $25.6 million. I saw the movie on the opening day because I was intrigued by James Wolcott's rave review last month and I wanted a nice day out before my trip back east. After the movie, we had lunch at the famous Pie 'n' Burger at Lake and California in Pasadena.
The film is indeed "the most subversive cinematic deed of the Bush-Blair era" as Wolcott so delightfully phrases it.

The movie is set in a near-future Britain, where a neo-fascist government has taken hold. It has slogans like "STRENGTH THROUGH UNITY, UNITY THROUGH FAITH" which are plastered all over the metropolis which looks identical to London. Natalie Portman plays Evey, who is the audience's surrogate as she and we discover the despicable nature of the government, whose leader is played with spit and vinegar by John Hurt. The other main character is "V" who we are introduced to in a delightful set piece where he says what seems like twenty-five words beginning with the letter V in succession. It's quite an ostentatious display of wordcraft by the Wachowskis. V is played (voiced?) by Hugo Weaving (The Elf-King Elrond in The Lord of the Rings movies, Agent Smith in The Matrix movies) and he is very impressive in the part, despite the fact we never see his face.

The plot is involving and is fueled by a sense of outrage which comes from a surprisingly powerful extended film-within-the-film sequence which is very salient to LGBT viewers. I didn't know about this aspect of the movie going into it, and was pleasantly surprised by its inclusion. For those readers who have seen the Wachowski Brothers' first cinematic feature, the sapphic suspense classic Bound, you will not be disappointed.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

U.S. Says Hell No to Trademarking 'Nigga'

I previously reported that Damon Wayans was trying to trademark the word "Nigga" so that he could put on t-shirts, coffee mugs, baseball caps, etc. Well, while I was out of town (in "Chocolate City") came word that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has denied his application, just like it has denied all the other people who have through the years have wanted to profit off of selling "n-----."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack

I'm back from my DC trip with a whole backlog of things to talk about! I'll be posting about those in the upcoming days.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Till Tuesday

I'm in the DC area visiting the National Science Foundation in Arlington, VA until Tuesday. Light blogging until then. Hope to have a review of V for Vendetta which I saw before I left.

Friday, March 17, 2006

REVIEW: C.S.A.: Confederate States of America

I headed out to the Regency Academy Theaters in Pasadena on Monday to see C.S.A: Confederate States of America. Kevin Wilmott's film is a very clever spoof of public television documentary, network television programming and American history. The premise is that the audience is watching two hours of network programming featuring the premiere of a documentary produced by the "British Broadcasting Service" which for the first time tells viewers in the Confederate States of America a view of their American history from an outsider, unvarnished point of view.

The movie is a smart, funny, incisive commentary on contemporary race relations which is far more subtle and interesting than the highy heralded (and much maligned) "Best Picture of the Year" Crash. GO SEE C.S.A. NOW!

Los Angeles City Council To Vote on School Board District 2 Race Friday

I live in District 2 of the LAUSD Board of Education. The seat was vacated by Jose Huizar to become City Councilperson in Council District 14 (which was vacated by Antonio Villaraigosa to become Mayor). Still with me? On March 7 there was a special election with 10% turn out where Mónica García (47%) and Christopher Arellano (19%) were the two top votegetters.

However, after getting the endorsement of the teacher's union and spending $200, 000 of their money promoting his candidacy, Arellano announced Tuesday that he was dropping out of the race (hours before the union was going to meet to very likely withdraw their endorsement of Arellano for suppressing details about his educational background).

However, word came on Thursday that the City Clerk would not allow Arellano's name to be removed from the June 6, 2006 ballot. It is now in the hands of the Los Angeles City Council, who will vote on a motion to consider the results of the special election in its Friday March 17th meeting (Item 34 on the agenda):

Recommendation for Council Action:

ADOPT a RESOLUTION declaring the results of the Special Election held March 7, 2006, to fill the vacancy in the Second District of the Board of Education of the LAUSD for the portion of the unexpired term remaining though June 30, 2009.

Fiscal Impact Statement: The City Clerk reports that declaring the results of the Special Election held March 7, 2006, to fill the vacancy in the Second District of the Board of Education of the LAUSD for the portion of the unexpired term remaining though June 30, 2009 will have no impact on the City's General Fund.

Considering that a majority of the Board endorsed Jose Huizar's bid for City Council and Mónica García is the Mayor and Huizar's choice for School Board, I think it is likely the Council will vote to declare Mónica García the winner of the District 2 seat. Mayor Sam says that the City Clerk tells him that he is suggesting that the Council keep Arellano and García on the ballot even though only one of them is running for the seat in a run-off election!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Czech Parliament Overrides Veto, Enacts Partnership Law is reporting that, as speculated by MadProfessah, the Czech parliament has voted to enact a registered partnership law for same-sex couples, overriding President Vaclav Klaus' previous veto of the legislation. Trips to "Praha," (Prague) anyone? Congratulations to the Gay and Lesbians League and other activists in that country for enacting such important legislation.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bush Hits Record Low Poll Number (Again)

In the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted March 10-12, 2006 comes this delightful news:

Bush's approval rating of 36 percent is the lowest mark of his presidency in a Gallup poll, falling a percentage point below the 37 percent approval he scored in November. The previous CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted February 28-March 1, put his job approval at 38 percent.

Sixty percent of those surveyed in the latest poll said they disapproved of his performance in office, the same figure as in the last poll.

What is the Commander-in-Chief's response to such a stunning rebuke from the American public? Well, Bush was asked this very question on Friday and this was his response: "I understand some of the things I've done are unpopular. But that's what comes with the territory. If you're afraid to make decisions and you only worried about, you know, whether or not people in the classroom are going to say nice things about you, you're not leading."

Argh! Where to begin deconstructing this statement? First, it's anti-academic ("people in the classroom"). Second, it assumes that leadership means that you don't have to "worry" think about what people think about your leadership (has this man ever heard of the concept of the c onsent of the governed?) Third, what does George W. Bush know about leadership anyway? The reason why he's unpopular is that he is acting like he is on a mission from God and taking the country in directions more than 60% of those polled do not want to go!

Hingis Stuns Davenport in 3 Sets

Former #1 Martina Hingis continued her much heralded comeback by defeating the the #1 player for the last two years, Lindsay Davenport 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California. It was the player's 25th meeting, the second longest rivalry among active players on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour (Davenport versus Venus Williams is 27 matches long, Davenport leading 14-13). Davenport now leads 14-11.

The match was quite exciting, although it was clear that Davenport was not at 100%. She is clearly still bothered by her back injury and says that she will take 4-6 weeks after next week's NASDAQ-100 Open to prepare for Wimbledon. That said, Hingis was able to witshstand Davenport's powerful shots over and over again and played a much cleaner match. One was still left with the impression that the match was on Davenport's racquet, if she had not made so many errors, she would have won. Interesting stat: The total number of points each player won was 86.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

(Who Decides) What Is A Commercial Sex Venue?

But, ya are, Blanche, ya are! From the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times California section comes the news that a number of gay sex clubs and bathhouses with names like "Slammer," "Flex" and "Zone" are suing Los Angeles County:

Beginning this month, the county is requiring "commercial sex venues" to obtain a county health license, pay an annual fee of more than $1,000, allow quarterly inspections and provide on-site testing and counseling for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases for at least 20 hours a week.

The county defines a commercial sex venue as a business that "as one of its primary purposes allows, facilitates and/or provides facilities for its patrons or members to engage in any high-risk sexual contact while on the premises."

But that definition doesn't fit these nine bathhouses and sex clubs, the lawsuit contends, because they have "always sought to prevent high-risk sex."

The suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, asks a judge to void the regulations or exempt the nine bathhouses and sex clubs.

Although it pains me to say so, I think I must agree with the odious Michael Weinstein, the head of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the world's largest AIDS services organization, who the article delicately refers to as "an outspoken and sometimes controversial figure in AIDS prevention" (to say the least!). It is highly unlikely that the commercial sex venues are going to succeed in this lawsuit. So, what is the point of the lawsuit? Well, let's look at the history of how we got to this point.

This most recent ordinance was approved by the County Board of Supervisors January 17, 2006 after more than a year and a half of negotiations with the targeted businesses themselves. In September 2004, the Board of Supervisors had approved the original ordinance which led to the most recent regulations which the nine bathhouses and two sex clubs are now suing to say do not apply to them. There's no question in my mind that the definition of "commercial sex venue" defined in the ordinance does indeed allow them to be regulated in this manner (or basically any manner the County sees fit). In fact, Los Angeles County Public Health Officer Jonathan Fielding probably already has the power to close all commercial sex venues as part of a public health emergency. Clearly, the owners of these venues don't want to see this happen.

What these businesses should be doing is not making laughable claims of violations of constitutional freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and privacy, but instead arguing that the ordinance is excessively overbroad and that they are being subject to unfair prosecution. What business does not have a bathroom? Doesn't a bathroom with a locked door "allow, facilitate and/or provide a facilit[y] for its patrons or members to engage in high-risk sexual contact while on the premises"? Of course, just because a business has an area in which high-risk sexual contact could occur, does not mean that this is "one of the primary purposes" of this business. This is my point. This question is a matter of judgment. Who decides?

I think this argument ("There are lots of businesses one could could construe as a commercial sex venue under this definition, why are you picking on us?") is a more fruitful venue of attack on the County's commercial sex venue regulation than to say that the County is "imposing 'excessive fines and cruel and/or unusual punishment'" on the businesses. How different are "Rage," "Here Lounge," "Circus of Books" or "24 Hour Fitness West Hollywood" different from "the Hollywood Spa" when viewed through the prism of the ordinance's definition of a commercial sex venue?

Davenport versus Hingis, Round 25

3-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenportand 5-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis have played 24 times so far (Davenport leads the series 14-10) with 16 meetings in finals. Tomorrow they meet in the fourth round of the Pacific Life Open.

Prediction: Davenport will win in three sets.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Is Brad Pitt a Frontrunner?

Following on the financial and critical success of Brokeback Mountain, the film version of Patricia Nell Warren's seminal 1970's gay novel The Front Runner has begun to be talked about in Hollywood more seriously. Last week, the rumor that Brad Pitt (People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive TWICE) is interested in playing a gay role and a part in The Front Runner specifically made the rounds of the gossip blogs and rags. Brad Pitt is now 42, but the part of the coach in the script is for a still-handsome, fit, middle-aged ex-Marine who falls in love with a naturally talented long-distance runner on his team. Presumably, Brad is not interested in the 22-year old Billy Sive character, but rather the old-enough-to-be-his-father Harlan Brown character.

Thoughts on the casting of the Billy Sive character? How about Mehcad Brooks? After all, an interracial same-sex love story set in the world of sports would really kick things up a notch wouldn't it? Too bad it's already been done: Peter Lefcourt's The Dreyfuss Affair. (And it's a comedy!)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Black Republican Manifests Typical Pathological Personality

Claude Allen, a Black Republican and anti-gay religious conservative who used to be a spokesperson for Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), and who was nominated by President Bush to a federal judgeship in 2004, resigned as Bush's Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy (a.k.a. Chief Domestic Policy Adviser) on February 9 to "spend more time with his family."

Now the real reason for Claude Allen's sudden departure from the employ of the Bush administration has been revealed.

Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Retail Theft Unit arrested a man yesterday for a continuing retail theft scheme.

Claude Alexander Allen, age 45, of the 7200 block of Cliff Pine Drive in Gaithersburg, was charged with theft scheme over $500 and theft over $500. He was released on his own recognizance.

On January 2, 2006, a Target store Loss Prevention Manger observed an unknown man enter the store located at 25 Grand Corner Avenue in Gaithersburg. He was observed in the store with an empty Target bag in a shopping cart. The man was then seen selecting merchandise throughout the store and placing items in the Target bag. He put additional items in his cart. The man then went to guest services where he produced a receipt and received a refund for the items he had just selected from the store shelves. After receiving the refund he left the store without paying for the additional merchandise in the shopping cart. He was apprehended by the store employee.

Please note that Claude Allen was the most highly paid civil servant employee in the White House at the time of his alleged pre-meditated kleptomanic spree. His federal compensation (paid for by your taxes and mine!) was $161, 000 per year, identical to "Bush's Brain" Karl Rove, erstwhile Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers and National Security Adviser Stephen Headley.

Also note that Claude Allen's previous claim to fame was his insistence that Stop AIDS San Francisco and other AIDS service organizations be repeatedly audited for using federal funds to produce explicitly sex-positive and gay-supportive HIV prevention materials.

Mad Professah has blogged repeatedly about the peculiar phenomena of Black Republicans, but the case of Claude Allen is a truly pathological example.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Black Gay Mayor of Palm Springs to run for State Assembly!

Ron Oden is making it official today: He is not resigning as Mayor of Palm Springs. He is running for the 80th District California Assembly seat currently held by Republican Bonnie Garcia who was elected in 2002 and would be termed out in 2008. If elected, Ron Oden would be the first openly gay African American elected to statewide legislative office in California. MadProfessah knows of no other African American gay or lesbian inidividuals elected to a statewide legislative body. There have been African Americans elected to numerous legislative city or countywide bodies. Presumably, Oden will be asking for (and should receive) the endorsement of the Victory Fund, an organization which supports the election of LGBT officials, and which currently only has three endorsed candidates running in California.
This is very exciting news for people in the Coachella Valley (although maybe not as exciting as the news that Madonna will be performing at the Coachella Music Festival April 30th) and for progressive Californians. It can only be a good thing as more and more diversity enhances legislative deliberations in Sacramento. Madprofessah supported Ron Oden's race for Mayor of Palm Springs and fully intends to support his bid for the Assembly? All I need to know is: Where do we send the checks?

Black Tennis Report for February

Thanks to reader Bernie Tarver, who sent me this link to the USTA's Celebration of Black History Month, the Black Tennis Report for February (yeah, I know, a tad late) has some interesting stats.

There are now a record 7 African Americans in the list of Top 20 USA Women Tennis players: Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Mashona Washington, Jamea Jackson, Shenay Perry, Asha Rolle and Angela Haynes. (Former World Top 10 Chanda Rubin is injured and has not played a WTA tour match for over a year.)

Neither Venus Williams nor Serena Williams played a single tennis match in February 2006! If Serena doesn't do well at Miami's NASDAQ-100 Open which she won last year, her ranking will fall out of the Top 50.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Instant Replay Accepted By WTA and ATP Tours

The long nightmare of tennis fans will soon be over: instant replay is coming to professional tennis. It was announced on Monday that starting with the Tier 1 tournament in Miami, the NASDAQ-100 Open, the electronic line calling system named "Hawk-Eye™" will be available at some ATP and WTA Tour events, with its Grand Slam debut at the 2006 US Open.

As the image to the left shows, it is somewhat ironic that ELC (electronic line calling) will make its debut at the US Open, where in 2004 Serena Williams got completed ripped on (at least) two incorrect line calls in favor of Jennifer Capriati at crucial stages of their quarterfinal match.

Apparently the details are that each player will get two chances per set to be wrong on a challenge to a line call by a linesperson. If they are constantly correct they can make as many appeals to ELC as they wish. If the set has a deciding tiebreaker they get one more appeal to ELC. If they do not use all their ELC appeals in one set they can not carry over their unused ELC appeals to the next set.

Bring it on!!

Garcia gets 47% of the vote

Madprofessah-endorsed school board candidate Mónica García got 47.15% of the vote in an election which had a measly 10% turn out! Second was the controversial candidate Christopher Arellano with 19.11%. It's unclear to me if this means that there will be a run-off between the top two vote-getters since no candidate received a majority of votes cast or whether Ms. García has been elected. I suspect it's the latter.

UPDATE: Thanks to a comment from James from Martini Republic, it's confirmed that Mónica García did not win the District 2 seat but has been forced into a June 6 2006 run-off with Christopher Arellano.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Mad Professah Endorses Monica Garcia for LA School Board

I live on the East Side of Los Angeles, in District 2 of the Los Angeles Unified Schol District Board of Education. My mailbox has been deluged with mailers from candidates in the March 7 School Board Election. The frontrunners for the seat are Villaraigosa-endorsed Mónica García and United Teachers of Los Angeles-endorsed Christopher Arellano. This weekend it was announced that one of these frontrunners for the seat vacated by now-Councilman Jose Huizar, openly gay Christopher Arellano had misrepresented the facts regarding his own educational credentials! And this was after he had previously admitted that he had been convicted (not once, but twice!) of criminal infractions which resulted in jail time.

The bizarre thing is not that we have a candidate for the school board whose commitment to the sanctity of education is in question (not to mention his probity and honesty!). No, the bizarre aspect of this story to MadProfessah is the refusal of many to un-endorse Arellano. Sherriff Lee Baca and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party did, but both City Council President Eric Garcetti and outgoing 45th District Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg did not.
While I had not previously made an endorsement in this race, MadProfessah wishes to go on record as having endorsed Mónica García for the District 2 seat on the LAUSD Board of Education. Please vote!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Czech PM Claims He Has Votes To Override Partnership Veto

Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek says that he is "optimistic" that he has the votes to override the veto by President Vaclav Klaus of legislation that would have established civil partnerships for same-sex couples in the Czech Republic.

UPDATE: The override vote has apparently been scheduled for next week, according to

Blake Beats Hewitt for 5th Title

James Blake beat former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 to win the Tennis Channel Open in Las Vegas, NV. This was Blake's first win in seven tries over the tenacious, repugnant Australian. A few years ago at the 2001 US Open, Lleyton Hewitt made enemies of very many Black tennis fans around the world by making a racially insensitive mark during a hard-fought second round match against James Blake. This only one of the very many reasons to hate Lleyton Hewitt and cheer when he loses.

But MadProfessah is also cheering for an African American tennis player winning another ATP tour title and reaching a career-high rank of Number 14 in the World. And he's phyne!

Oscar Voters Spread The Gold

Well, there was a surprise after all! Although Oscar voters did choose the controversial Crash over the groundbreaking Brokeback Mountain, they did not pick a single movie to be the "Most Honored Film of the Year." Brokeback Mountain (Director, Adapted Screenplay, Score), Crash (Picture, Original Screenplay, Film Editing), Memoirs of a Geisha (Art Direction, Costume Design, Cinematography) and King Kong (Sound Editing, Visual Effects, Sound) all won 3 Academy Awards.

Although I am happy that Crash won since I think it is important that many more people see that film. However, I think the statement that a film with explicit gay themes winning Best Picture of the year would have made would have been even more thrilling. Sadly, it didn't happen this year. Perhaps, Brokeback Mountain opened doors for another future gay themed film. It is somewhat curious that Memoirs of a Geisha won in categories like Cinematography ahead pf Brokeback Muntain and that Crash won Film Editing ahead of Walk The Line. All in all, a nice symmetric, forgettable awards season!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Sexuality versus Race: 'Brokeback Mountain' versus 'Crash'

Roger Ebert thinks that Crash will (and should) win the Academy Award for Best Picture over Brokeback Mountain. MadProfessah thinks this is another example of race and sexuality being placed in oppositional ideological stances to each other.

I finally saw Halle Berry's Introducing Dorothy Dandridge this week and it highlighted for me the significance of the Best Actress and Best Actor Academy Awards going to African Americans (Halle Berry for Monster's Ball and Denzel Washington for Training Day in 2002. I had not realized that Dorothy Dandridge was the first Black woman to be nominated for an Oscar and what a huge star she should have been/could have been/was. Her contemporaries (and equivalents) were Ava Gardner and Marilyn Monroe! But the zenith of her stardom was 1954's Carmen Jones and the immediate aftermath which was right in the middle of the "good old days" of the racially segregated 1950s. Clearly, America and more specifically Hollywood, which acts as both a mirror and a microcosm of society's values, have made advances in racial understanding since then. But what about in the area of sexuality?

There have been no Oscar wins by openly gay or lesbian actors in recent memory although both Jodie Foster (The Accused, The Silence of the Lambs) and Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects, American Beauty) have won twice each. Openly gay actor Sir Ian Mckellen has been nominated twice but not yet won. Numerous avowedly heterosexual actors have won Oscars for playing gay or transgendered individuals (William Hurt in Kiss of the Spider-Woman, Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry, Tom Hanks in Philadelphia, Greg Kinnear in As Good As It Gets). This year Felicity Huffman in Transamerica is nominated for playing a male-to-female pre-op transsexual.

So, the ramifications of which movie wins (Crash or Brokeback Mountain) will be perceived as evidence of which issue is more salient to Academy voters (and by extension the entire American film going public): race or sexual orientation. The problem with treating the issues of race and sexuality as two distinct, discrete concepts is that it elides instances where race and sexuality intersect: namely Black gay men, Asian lesbians, Latino transexuals et cetera. But then again Hollywood hasn't really been doing a great job of representing these groups in popular media! And this is the crux of my argument, the distillation of multifaceted works of art like Brokeback Mountain and Crash to simply a pissing match scored by which privileged Hollywood insider takes home a gold statuette on Sunday night in Los Angeles does a disservice to anyone interested in either (or both) of these issues.


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