Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Happy Birthday, Andy! Playing on his 23rd birthday Tuesday night, World #3 Andy Roddick lost to World #68 Gilles Muller of Luxemborg 7-6(4), 7-6(8),7-6(1). This has started something of a whispering campaign doubting the tennis abilities of the American #1 male player. I have never been a Roddick fan. He has always been too one-dimensional to me (huge serve and huge forehand and that's it!) but I disagree with people who say that he's a "one-slam wonder." Muller is 6'5" and is a talented player who made it to the final of an ATP event just a few weeks ago, losing to Agassi in two close sets.

World #1 Lindsay Davenport started off slowly against World #40 Na Li of China, but eventually won 6-4,6-4 in a surprisingly tough first round match.

James Blake had a great first round win versus Greg Rusedski of Great Britain, while the very young Gael Monfils lost a controversial match against another 18-year old, Novak Djokovic from Serbia-Montenegro.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

US OPEN: Day 1

No really big surprises. Venus and Serena had nearly identical scores (6-3, 6-1 and 6-1, 6-3) but the matches were very different. Venus was very calm and was never really threatened or agitated (except about some line calls) while Serena was down 1-3 breakpoint on her serve but managed to muscle out the next 5 consecutive games. Kuznetsova was upset in the first round, but it wasn't really a surprise. Serena looked better than she did at Wimbledon but still seemed a bit out of it against the #261 player in the world. Her draw is much kinder than Venus' so I now think she will make it past the 3rd round, but lose to Venus.

African American phenom 16-year old Donald Young (with suspiciously bright blue eyes) had a set point in the first set but lost in straight sets after blowing a 4-2 lead in first set tie break. He has yet to win a set on the ATP Tour. 19-year old African American Scoville Jenkins who got blown off of Arthur Ashe Stadium by Roddick last year won his first Grand Slam match in a 5th set tiebreak. Shenay Perry took out #14 seed Alicia Molik 6-4, 6-4.

Sharapova looked very sharp, although Eleni Danilidou played well, she couldn't win the important points and became discouraged. The final score was 6-1, 6-1.

Monday, August 29, 2005


This is my 200th blog post since I resumed blogging in earnest on January 14th, right before this year's Australian Open, so it seems fitting that I should hit this milestone right before this year's U.S. Open. I would note that I wasn't completely specific earlier in the week about my week about who I expect to win. However, Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated and I are in agreement that Kim Clijsters is the favorite to win the 2005 US Open. I'm not quite ready as Mr. Wertheim to predict the two semi-finals to be Clijsters vs Sharapova and Henin-Hardenne vs Davenport. I'll wait to see how well my quarterfinal predictions of Sharapova vs Kuznetsova/Petrova, Clijsters vs V. Williams, Henin-Hardenne vs Mauresmo and Davenport vs Not Dementieva (Chakvetadze?) stand up. I do agree that Davenport and Sharapova will make the semi-final round but the other two semifinalists could be Clijsters or Venus and Henin-Hardenne, Mauresmo, Pierce or Somebody New (Groenfeld, Karatancheva, Srebotnik?).

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Logophilia Alert!

The 2005 Scrabble Championships have been completed, Stefan Fatsis of NPR and the Wall Street Journal has been covering the story at an online journal all week. The new champion is David Wiegand. However, the most incredible news to come out of the tournament is the report of the play of a 14-letter word: REmATERIALIZED. (In Scrabble notation a lower-case word indicates that letter was in the board prior to the play.) In addition, Stefan's online column is full of sesquipedalian gems:
FRENA, PEPO, KRAAL, ADUNC, JUCOS, PISO, ZORIS, WATERZOOI and ATRESIA.Logophiles myself love these kinds of obscure words which are possible in Scrabble; it's about the joy of discovery and an acknowledgement of the vastness (and peculiarity) of the English language.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

D-Day Set In MA Gay Marriage Fight

State legislators in Massachusetts have set the date of 1:00pm on Wednesday September 14 as the beginning of a State Constitutional Convention where an amendment to nullify current and prevent future gay marriages will be considered. There are 200 members of the joint session of the legislature. In March 2004 a similar amendment passed 101-94. If the amendment passes again it will be sent to voters in November 2006. If you know anyone who lives (and votes) in Massachusetts and who believes in equality, urge them to support "no discrimination in the Constitution."

Friday, August 26, 2005

US OPEN Seed Predictions

The fourth and final Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year starts on Monday August 29th in New York: The United States Open.

The womens' seedings are:
  1. Maria Sharapova (RUS). "The It Girl" recently became #1 by amassing 6 tournament wins in the last 12 months. Needs to go deep into the tournament to show that she deserves to be #1 though it is already clear this 18-year old has the goods to win multiple majors in the future. Semi-finalist.
  2. Lindsay Davenport (USA). America's "Top Gun" ran out of gas against Serena at this year's Australian Open and came thisclose to winning at Wimbledon against Venus but has been injured for the almost entire hardcourt season this year. Semi-finalist.
  3. Amelie Mauresmo (FRA). "The Artiste" has every weapon in her arsenal except for mental toughness. Semi-finalist.
  4. Kim Clijsters (BEL). "Miss Congeniality" has been the hottest player on tour all year. She has only lost one match in the United States all year and is eligible for double prize money since she placed first in the US Open Series by winning in Stanford, Los Angeles and Toronto. Finalist
  5. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS). "The Contender" has not been much of a factor during the U.S. hardcourt season and is unlikely to reach the U.S. Open final again this year. Quarter-finalist.
  6. Elena Dementieva (RUS). "The Sweetheart" has miraculously managed to remain near the Top 5 in the ranking despite being unable to repeat her 2004 performance of being the only woman to appear in two Grand Slam finals. Her serve has nowhere to go but up. Early round loss.
  7. Justine Henin-Hardenne (BEL). "The Comeback Kid" was flawless during the clay court season, culminating in the 2005 French Open title but lost in the first round at Wimbledon and has been injured for most of the hardcourt season. Quarter-finalist
  8. Serena Williams (USA). "The Diva" is nursing several injuries, the least of which is her pride. She looked like a hot ghetto mess at Wimbledon and has yet to really show that she is as interested in tennis as all her other pursuits. Despite this, somehow she was able to muscle her way to her 7th Grand Slam title at the 2005 Australian Open. Will not play.
  9. Nadia Petrova (RUS). This Russian has yet to win her first WTA Tour title and has been flying so far under the radar that the marketers for the US Open Series didn't come up with a cute sobriquet for her! Quarter-finalist.
  10. Venus Williams (USA). "The Goddess" proved everyone wrong, including yours truly by winning Wimbledon in stunning fashion in the longest women's grand slam final ever. Quarter-finalist.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

US OPEN: Highlights of the Draw

The 2005 U.S. Open tennis championship starts on Monday, and the draw was released on Wednesday. Some highlights:
  • Top Half of Top Half of the Draw. Maria Sharapova (1) has a possibly tough first round against Eleni Danilidou who took out Justine Henin-Hardenne in the first round at Wimbledon. After that Sharapova should cruise until she plays either Petrova(9) or defending champion Kuznetsova(5) in the first quarterfinal.
  • Bottom Half of Top Half of the Draw. Venus has a really hard set of rounds: Kirilenko followed by Hantuchova followed by Serena (if she gets that far!). This is the second grand slam in a row where the sisters are set to meet in the fourth round. Honestly, I expect Serena to withdraw before this weekend. Her draw is better than Venus'. She just has to worry about playing Peng Shuai, the only player to beat Kim Clijsters on U.S. soil this year, in the third round. Whoever gets out of the fourth round will be playing Clijsters in the second quarterfinal.
  • Top Half of the Bottom Half of the Draw. A very interesting quarter with Henin-Hardenne(7), Myskina(13), Pierce(12), Karatancheva and Mauresmo(3). The third quarterfinal should be Mauresmo versus either Henin-Hardenne or Pierce (who meet in the 4th round).
  • Bottom Half of the Bottom Half of the Draw. Dementieva(6) has a very easy path to the fourth quarterfinal where she should meet Davenport(2). The only seeds who could stop that are Schnyder(11) in Elena's fourth round and Dechy(15) in Lindsay's.

Should be interesting! I'll try to blog daily on the US Open this year...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

New Police Commission Gets An Earful On Devin

Both the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News have stories today about Tuesday's meeting of the 5-member Los Angeles Police Commission. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently appointed 4 new members (former Los Angeles Urban League president John Mack, bank executive Shelley Freeman and attorneys Andrea Ordin and Anthony Pacheco) and members of many communities are extremely interested in how the newly reformulated Commission will execute its duties to be the citizen oversight panel for the Los Angeles Police Department.

John Mack (who was unanimously elected President of the Commission) had the meeting moved to a large auditorium in Parker Center after "about 200 community activists packed the commission's hearing room to decry the pace of the investigation into the February 6 killing of [13-year old] Devin [Brown]. They demanded the firing of Officer Steve Garcia, who shot the teenager after he backed a stolen car toward a police cruiser. Garcia and his partner had begun pursuing Devin after he ran a red light."

The group contrasted the six-month lack of action against Garcia with Los Angeles County Sherriff Lee Baca's expeditious finding in 30 days that deputies who fired nearly 120 rounds at unarmed motorist Winston Hayes had violated both tactical and pursuit policies. Pastor Lewis Logan of the group Community Call to Action and Accountability warned that if the "police commission doesn't strongly recommend that this officer's service be terminated" then future commission meetings would be filled with protesters. Nation of Islam Minister Tony Muhammad said "We will shut this city down" if Devin's shooting is not adequately investigated. Surprisingly, John Mack agreed with the speakers. "These investigations go on forever…. This has to be done in a more timely fashion," he said.

However, Mayor Villaraigosa who sat through the nearly two hour meeting quietly in the audience said afterwards that he did not want to second-guess the LAPD on the pace of the Brown investigation, noting it is an "in-depth and exhaustive" probe that a federal monitor, mandated by a consent decree upon the department, will examine carefully.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

There's a Big Black Dyke on the Cover of the LAT Magazine!

What is an African American lesbian doing on the cover of this week's Los Angeles Times's magazine? I hadn't really intended to read the article since the teaser focussed on the disparate treatment of two African American basketball players accused of sexual assault, both employed by branches of the same corporate entity.
(I'm soooo over the whole Kobe thing!) In The Glass Closet, the story of Latasha Byears, an openly lesbian, 5'10 203 lb., WNBA player who was summarily dismissed from the team following an accusation of sexual assault upon an unnamed female victim. (Following an official investigation of nearly two years the matter has been closed "due to lack of evidence.") The numerous details which are highlighted in the article are extremely enlightening. For example, there is a staggering difference in pay between male and female basketball players (Byears was a clearly essential and valued player on a 2-time Championship team and made $60, 000 per year, Kobe's salary is $19+ million per year, excluding endorsements). Also, the revelation of the level of anxiety that corporate minders had over the public's awareness of the sexual orientation of their players and the supposed harm that would befall them if the information got out. The article also makes some sharp comments on the marketing of women athletes like Lisa Leslie, Serena Williams and (new world #1) Maria Sharapova who combine "athleticism and sexuality" by asking the question:
If these remarkably pretty women (and fantastic athletes) were also openly gay, would they be marketing icons?

The answer is of course, "hell, no!" and this unmasks the heterosexual and male privilege of the people to whom these sports are marketing themselves to. Anytime, gender and sexuality privilege is clearly revealed in a mainstream media outlet it should be noted and applauded. Kudos to the Los Angeles Times!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Six Feet Under Over

R.I.P. "Six Feet Under"! Last night's premiere of the season finale was heart-rending and stunning. As today's review in the Los Angeles Times agrees, the final sequence which featured the incredible song "Breathe Me" by Sia (Furler, of Zero 7's Destiny fame) was the highlight of the episode, and the fifth and final season.

The one thing that people always want to know when they fall in love with characters and the medium that the characters reside in ends is "what happens next?" Triple hyphenate (writer, director and creator) Alan Ball answered all these questions in flash-forward by showing us glimpses of exactly when and how each of the major characters died (sequentially: Ruth, then Keith, David, Federico, Brenda and finally, Claire at the ripe old age of 102 in 2085). As Sia's chords and haunting voice envelop the viewer one is able to piece together the arc of each of the main characters lives. David and Keith stay together, get married, their kids follow in the mortuary business and Keith dies in a shooting at an armed car robbery. Brenda and Billy are together at the end of their lives just as they were in the beginning of their lives. Claire (looking fabulous with straight strawberry blonde hair) re-unites with her cute but conservative Republican lawyer who loved her at Ruth's funeral and marries him, but dies alone in her bed, rheumy-eyed and remembering at the ripe old age of 102 in 2085!

It was sad and poignant and exciting--a fitting end to the best drama on television for 63 episodes from 2001 to 2005.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Spitting Hairs: A Porn Dilemma

As I was telling some acquaintances about the Porn-A-Thon being held at Faultline (4216 Melrose) on today (proceeds to benefit Being Alive Los Angeles an organization on whose Board of Directors, I serve) from 1-7 pm an interesting question was asked: "Will they have barebacking porn there?" The tone was disapproving, and it made me stop and think. As a Board Member, should I know the answer to this question? But there were even more interesting underlying philosophical questions....

The question is, does images of men having "bareback" (unsafe, no condoms) sex with each other cause people to fetishize and long to also engage in such behavior, or is it a safe sexual outlet to watch sexual behavior that the viewer (or voyeur) will not engage in, but is still aroused by? Does it matter if the people on screen are now dead, or that the unsafe activity happened before AIDS, say circa 1975-80? What if the "performers" are HIV+ and have agreed to engage in bareback sex with other HIV+ men? (Of course there are other STDs which could be transmitted through the unsafe sex besides HIV.)

The person who asked the question thought that all barebacking porn should be banned, except perhaps for porn which is clearly dated prior to the AIDS epidemic. To, me the question is analogous to the violence on television question. Does seeing images of violence on television and in video games make people more violent? How suggestible are humans to moving images? The cliché is that "a picture is worth a thousand words," of course. So, is a moving picture worth a thousand thousand words?

Last night I saw Brian Graden, openly gay President of MTV Networks recieve a 2005 Equality Award from the founders of South Park. During his acceptance speech, Graden extolled the impact of the media. For example, he cited the polling result from MTV research that people in high school are much more supportive of equal rights for same sex couples, particularly the legalization of same-sex marriage, than their older peers. This he said, is a result of MTV's pioneering and inclusive programming.

So, if one accepts the premise that viewers are influenced by the images they see, then it seems like one should promote the idea that barebacking porn is dangerous. However, for me, there's still a distinction on defining exactly what kind of influence images of unsafe sex between men will have on other men who have sex with men. Why make the assumption that the primary effect will be to encourage the production of similar images, in real life with the viewer in the "star" role?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A Tale of Two Cities: S.D. and L.A.

San Diego. Lesbian Mayor (Toni Atkins). Lesbian County District Attorney (Bonnie Dumanis). Uppity city council.

The San Diego City council voted unanimously last Monday to prohibit write-in candidates from run-off elections. City Councilwoman Donna Frye, who as a write-in candidate had more votes than the official candidates in the run-off for Mayor last November voted for the ordinance. The "winner" of last November's election, incumbent Dick Murphy resigned effectively July 15th, and his successor citycouncilman Michael Zucchet resigned after he was indicted by a federal grand jury investigating municipal corruption 5 days later. Openly Lesbian Citycouncilwoman Toni Atkins became acting mayor. Sensing an opportunity, Steve Padilla, the mayor of neighboring Chula Vista, came out of the closet also.

Los Angeles. Latino Mayor (Antonio Villaraigosa). Latino City District Attorney (Rockey Delgadillo). Uppity city council.

The Los Angeles City council last week failed to endorse Mayor Villaraigosa's plan to extend the City's contract to continue hauling trash out to the Sunshine Canyon Landfill after it expires on July 1, 2006. They also couldn't agree on who should be the next City Legislative Analyst. This from the same council that a few short weeks ago "unanimously" endorsed(apparently Bernard Parks and Grieg Smith walked out of the room before the voice vote on) gay marriage.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Kanye West Tries To Put Gay and Hip-Hop Together

This Quick Takes item in Friday's Los Angeles Times Calendar section caught my eye: "Rapper calls for truce over 'gay.'" Apparently, Grammy-winning rapper and producer Kanye West made the comment that "Not just hip-hop, but America just discriminates. And I wanna just, to come on TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, 'Yo, stop it.'" Word, bruh! 50 Cent and Eminem were unavailable for comment to respond to this blog post.

Bush Breaks The Presidential Vacation Record

Props to kos for noticing that George Walker Bush finally has a unique accomplishment he can be proud of: he has spent more time (336 days) on vacation than any other President (Ronald Wilson Reagan, who was twenty-five years older and shot in the chest in his first 100 days of office, previously held the record of 335 vacation days over 2 full Presidential terms). The kicker: Bush still has 2 more weeks of summer vacation to go and nearly three and a half years of his presidency left.

14th District City Council Race: Who is Jose Huizar?

Jose Huizar has been endorsed for Mayor Villaraigosa's former city council seat by seven current members of the council despite running against former city councilperson Nick Pacheco: Tony Cardenas, Wendy Greuel, Tom LaBonge, Alex Padilla, Ed Reyes, Grieg Smith and Jack Weiss.

This is a pretty unprecedented level of support for a challenger of an "open" Council seat. The question is, why does Jose Huizar have such support and who the heck is he? All I know about him is that he's been on the Los Angeles Board of Education since 2001.

As for his opponent, I have received email from something called "Team Pacheco" touting the accomplishments of the former 14th District Councilman and current candidate for the position.

Neither of the two seem to have campaign websites up yet even though the special election is November 8, 2005.

There is some talk about some other third candidates but I think most people think either Pacheco or Huizar (likely Huizar) will be the next 14th District City Councilman.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

WA Marriage Ruling Imminent

An article in Monday's Moonie-owned Washington Times shows that the right wing understands the importance of the pending marriage case before the Supreme Court of Washington State.

Just last week the California Supreme Court refused to expedite a similar marriage case, denying that state what Washington State could get any day now, a final legal resolution of the seemingly perennial adnd ubiquitous same-sex marriage debate.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Attention Well-Hung Target Shoppers!

So, as many of you know I recently moved into my new house in Montecito Hills. So, of course I have to do a lot of shopping at Target (Tar-jay, to the light-in-their-loafers set) for odds and ends that a new homeowner simply must have.

I believe it is a law of economics that one can not get out of Target without spending $50. There's just so much stuff there that one realizes that one needs (though of course one did not walk into the store realizing one needed it). Speaking of stuff everyone needs..., let's talk about love!

Well, if not love, the next best thing is sex. And of course in 2005 all sex is safe sex. Has anyone noticed that Target has the lowest prices in town on condoms? Specifically, Trojan Magnum XL condoms that come in the golden foil wrappers. Note the suggested price: $11.51. Target's price: Under $6 for a packet of 12. I have been unable to find any other store in Los Angeles which sells them for less. Most supermarkets: $9 or $10. I haven't noticed whether Target is cheaper for all brands of condoms, since I (*cough*) only ever use magnums.

So, Bright-eyed Readers, is this some secret conspiracy by Target (formerly Dayton-Hudson) Corporation to entice well-hung shoppers into their stores and then hit them with a huge mark-up on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 3 DVDs? Or something more sinister? Discuss!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

REVIEW: August Wilson's "Radio Golf"

Just Above My Par."Radio Golf" is August Wilson's final play in his award-winning ten play cycle about African American life in the 20th Century, primarily set in Pittsburgh, PA. I saw the production at the Mark Taper Forum at The Music Center on Wednesday night. In Thursday's Los Angeles Times they select the play as a "Hot Ticket" for this weekend and in Friday's edition there is a rather vague review of the play by Daryl Miller. That review almost completely ignores the performances of the actors, except for laudatory remarks about Anthony Chisholm who plays Elder Joseph Barlow ("Old Joe") and is a veteran of Taper productions of Wilson plays. This review will be more forthcoming for people who are considering going to see August Wilson's "Radio Golf."

The play is a thought-provoking meditation on the multiple competing visions and values of people who are adjacent in racial classification but not social stratification. There are only 5 characters: Harmond Wilks, Mame Wilks, Roosevelt Hicks, Sterling Johnson and Old Joe.
Harmond and Mame are a classic Clintonian "buppie" (Black urban professional) couple. The way that the two actors portray this relationship, it is hard to tell whether Mame and Harmon are business partners, romantic partners or both. This is due to the lack of chemistry between Denise Burse and Rocky Carroll. It is commendable that the actress playing Mame Wilks is trying to give the audience the energy of Condoleezza Rice (subdued emotions combined with Republican ambition and greed). However, while she looks the part (lots of Reagan red power suits and Thatcherite helmet hair chock full of ozone-depleting chemicals) she doesn't really inhabit the part and so the audience ends up being distanced from her (or at least I did).

Roosevelt Hicks, a golf-loving, money-hungry bank vice president who is Harmond's business partner and college buddy, is played effectively by James A. Williams. Sterling Johnson is an unschooled, street-smart handyman played amusingly by John Earl Jelks. These two characters, along with Mame and Old Joe are pairs of opposing forces attempting to influence Harmond and his actions which will have a great impact on the future of a suddenly crucial parcel of real estate in the City of Pittsburgh, 1839 Wylie Avenue, and possibly the future of the city itself. At this address is an apparently abandoned house which both Old Joe and Harmond Wilks both think that they own (coincidently this house was apparently Aunt Ester's, a character who appeared in many of Wilson's other plays in the cycle). The play revolves around Harmond's dilemma and turns upon whether he will put his political ambition before his sense of "right and wrong."

The problem is that although Rocky Carroll is able to communicate the character's avarice, joy in his own self-importance and moral clarity, he does so in a way which seems to lack nuance. Either he's blazing hot, shaking and shouting with moral inidignation or he's engaged in a cold embrace with Mame following a should-be-poignant anecdote about the day he fell in love with her. It doesn't help that at some points Harmond's hesitancy at a moral crossroad looks indistinguishable from text forgetfulness from seats in the middle of orchestra right.

Thus the play's real center revolves around Anthony Chisholm's Old Joe, whose crushed-granite voice lovingly caresses August Wilson's language with the similar care that Shakespearean-trained Patrick Stewart delivers technobabble on Star Trek with inimitable convincing authority. Besides having some of the best lines, Chisholm also does the cast's best job of merging his character's voice with the author's during the play's many meaningful soliloquies.

Play: B+. Performance: B-.

Friday, August 12, 2005

1965 to 2005: Same As It Ever Was

Today is the 40th anniversary of the preciptating event of the urban civil unrest in Los Angeles known as "the Watts Riots." Today's Los Angeles Times has a huge article with numerous first-person accounts with a sobering graphic that reveals that not much has changed in several significant measures since 1965. The percentage of renter-occupied housing was 66% in 1965, and it was 68% in 2000. The unemployment percentage was 14% with males and females in 1965 but was 21% and 25%, respectively in 2000. What has changed is the racial make-up of the 1965 "curfew zone" which encompassed Watts in 1965. Then it was 90% Black, 8% Latino and 2% "Others." In 2000, the same area was 38% Black, 61% Latino and 2% Other.

Many media outlets are covering the anniversary with extensive features. KPCC has been covering it on their numerous public affairs shows. The L.A. Weekly has three pieces on the riots, including this disturbing final graf from Joe Hicks:

Any remembrances of the 1965 Watts Riots must include sober
discussion of why, 40 years later, large parts of this city continue to labor
under the weight of poverty, low educational skills, and rampant gangs and
violence, as well as a less than vibrant business life. Some would say that this
is because the “system” still conspires to exploit, suppress and oppress black
and brown people. I say it’s because some continue to look in the rear-view
mirror, focused on yesterday’s realities, and serving up excuses and
disempowering theories of victimization rather than exploring realistic answers
to troubling problems.

Why does it have to be one or the other? Arguably, both perspectives contain some truth, though I would say that my evaluation leans toward the former, not the latter. For example, in another section of his article Joe Hicks derides those of us who resist using the term "riot" to describe the 1965 and 1992 "civil unrest events." Again, the truth is somewhere in between , or perhaps someplace completely different.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Gray Lady Thinks Her Sh*t Don't Stink

So a few weeks ago I got a call from The New York Times offering free home delivery for two weeks. However, right before the two weeks were up I received a bill in the mail so I called the 800 number to cancel so I wouldn't be charged. I was amazed by the bill, to subscribe the paper it cost $5.75 per week, or $23 per month or $276 per year. "But that's nearly 3 times it cost to get The Los Angeles Times, doesn't a subscriber get some kind of discount?" The helpful telephone operator immediately responded: "The Los Angeles Times?? They haven't won over 89 Pulitzer Prizes, have they?" "Well, no," I said, "but do you really expect me to pay 200% more because of that?" The operator then mentioned the size of the Sunday edition, how it has so much stuff in it (The Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, et cetera) that it takes the entire week to read. I mentioned that I currently had a special deal with the Los Angeles Times that gives me a full year's subscription for $59 and asked whether there was anyway they could match that. "Good afternoon, sir, thank you for your time" was the only response.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

CA Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Gay Marriage Case

The California State Supreme Court refused to bypass the appellate level and presumptively decide the question of whether same-sex marriage is legal under the State Constitution of the State of California, despite being asked to do so by both the Attorney General of California as well as the appellant-defendants (The City and County of San Francisco and several same-sex couples).

The importance of Wednesday's ruling is that it means that a final decision from the State Supreme Court on the legality of same-sex marriage will not be known before a ballot measure (or two) being circulated by heterosexual supremacists to ban gay marriage and eliminate state recognition of same-sex registered domestic partnerships either qualifies for or is voted on in the June 2006 primary or November 2006 general election.

The moral of the story, is that if you think that "equality for all" really means that all couples should have access to the same rights and responsibilities of marriage regulated by the State, then don't sign those !@#@^*^%&! petitions now being circulated at your local Target/Wal-Mart/Home Depot.

I'm baaack!

After driving for over 2000 miles, I'm back in L.A. I did the Las Cruces, NM 88011 to Los Angeles, CA 90032 in just under 11 hours (765 miles) ...

Sunday, August 07, 2005

It's Hot Out Herrrre!!

In the last three days I have driven nearly 1200 miles, from Los Angeles, CA through Barstow, CA to Williams, AZ (near Grand Canyon, AZ) and from Gallup, NM to Las Cruces, NM via Albuquerque, NM.

Here are some observations. (1) The countryside is beautiful! (2) It's hella hot. (3) These are big, big states. (4) 65 mph speed limits are impractical. When one is driving 400 miles in one day, on a 4-lane highway (2-lanes each way) with one or two hundred mile perfectly straight stretches with almost no traffic, 65 miles an hour simply doesn't cut it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Go West, Young Man!

Well, since I'm already waaaaaay West, I'm actually going to drive East, to see (the Grand Canyon) Arizona, (Albuquerque and Las Cruces) New Mexico and possibly (Bryce Canyon and Zion) Utah in the next few days. There is probably light blogging until about Tuesday....

Roberts More Like Souter After All?

In today's newspaper is an intriguing report that John G. Roberts, Jr. assisted in the appellate preparations of the "good guys" in the 1996 landmark Supreme Court case of Romers vs Evans. Romer is an important case (6-3, Kennedy majority opinion with RehnquistScaliaThomas dissenting) because it made it clear that sexual minorities were no longer "a stranger to [the] law." In other words, for years, constitutional experts could look at numerous cases involving gay rights which clearly seemed to fall into the category of equal protection violations (i.e. treating this class of people, queers, differently--usually worse--than another class of people) but for some reason courts were loath to take that step. It was known as the "gay exception" to the Constitution. One egregious example is the 1986 Bowers vs Hardwick decision (5-4, O'Connor in majority, Powell the swing vote) which rejected a "fundamental right [to] homosexual sodomy" (even though Georgia's statute in question did not specify the sexual orientation of the participants). That decision was overturned in an even more landmark (6-3, Kennedy majority opinion) ruling, Lawrence vs Texas, in 2003.

Anywho, the idea that Bush's nominee to the Court actually participated in mock moot court oral arguments with Jean Dubofsky (who argued Romer before the USSC), playing the role of Scalia with gusto is velly interesting... Especially, since Roberts apparently "forgot" to list it as one of his pro bono activities in his 67-page written submission to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.

Methinks beads of sweat are starting to run down C. Boyden Gray's face....

CA Supreme Court Clarifies 'Marital Status' Discrimination

In a victory for couples either unwilling or unable to marry in the state of California, on Tuesday the California Supreme Court in a unanimous 6-0 ruling (Janice Rogers Brown's seat is still vacant) said that private businesses must treat married couples and registered domestic partnerships equivalently. The 45-page decision came in a case resulting in a lesbian couple who had registered as domestic partners under California's far-reaching Domestic Partnership Act but had been denied a family membership at an exclusive (and expensive) country club in San Diego.

It's not clear what impact this ruling will have on pending cases before the Court arguing for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the State of California or the attempt by heterosexual supremacists to repeal the domestic partnership law and prevent the enactment of same-sex marriage in the future.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

LAPD Does The Right Thing

Hmmm, well perhaps the bar for LAPD behavior has been raised slightly since Bratton arrived. On Thursday, a LAPD disciplinary board recommended that an LAPD officer be fired for his videotaped actions last year in the flashlight beating of an unarmed Black motorist named Stanley Miller. Officer John Hatfield was "an out-of-control officer at best," said Captain Gary Williams, the chair of the 3-member panel (which has only one civillian member). Other disciplinary actions which have been taken in response to the "Stanley Miller incident" include the suspensions for "misconduct" of four other LAPD officers: Michael O'Conner, Todd Behrens, Peter Bueno and Phillip Watson. Another officer, David Hale is scheduled to go before a similar panel in the fall.

This is a step in the right direction and I commend the LAPD for doing this. So, let it not be said I never say anything nice about the LAPD. I do, still, think Jack Dunphy is a clueless idiot.

Also, in my opinion, District Attorney Steve Cooley's decision to decline to file charges against any of the officers involved in this egregious incident is troubling and leads to the ongoing mistrust of "the [justice] system" by communities of color. We know that the only reason anything was done in this case was that the incident was caught on videotaped and broadcast on the local news stations in Summer 2004 repeatedly. What about all the other "unfortunate incidents" which become a "we said, cop said" argument due to the lack of videotape?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Kim Downs Venus To Continue U.S. Win Streak

After a very streaky, but very close first set where both players had many unforced errors and repeatedly broke the other's serve, Kim Clijsters prevailed over Venus Williams 7-5, 6-2 to win her 3rd Bank of the West title at Stanford, and her 4th title of the year. After the first set Venus basically ran out of gas, continuing with the unforced errors, while Kim became sharper and more aggressive. Since winning Wimbledon 3 weeks ago, Venus had been on eleven(!) flights, participating in a losing Fed Cup performance for the U.S., and promoting her ABC Family reality TV show ("Venus & Serena: For Real") she stars in with sister Serena.


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