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Archive for the ‘Civil Rights’ Category

Upstairs Lounge3

N O T E:

In conjunction with Pride Month I thought I would repost this piece I did sometime back.  I’m doing it after reading this article on nola.com

Note:  some of the links from the original piece may not still work

 

Monday marked the 40th anniversary of a terrible tragedy in New Orleans; the arson fire at the Upstairs Lounge in the French Quarter.  Twenty-eight men died at the scene of the fire, one died on the way to the hospital and three died later from their wounds so a total of 32 people died as a result of this arson.  All but one were men.

This post is going to have a lot of quotes pasted in so I hope you don’t mind that.  But the story needs to be told outside of nola and some of you might consider it a history lesson, while some of us lived through the times.

Essentially, here’s the story.  The Upstairs Lounge was a gay bar in the French Quarter.  This was 1973.  A lot of people (hell most people) were not out back then.  The French Quarter itself was different back then.  If you’ve been there, it wasn’t the elegant (Royal Street and its antique stores) touristy area it is now.  Rather, think in terms of what you saw if you saw the movie A Streetcar Named Desire.  It was a rundown area, filled with, as one person said, “thieves and queers”.  Many times, gay men carried fake i.d.s to the bars, not so much to prove they were over the age of 18 (the drinking age in La at the time), but in case there was a bust at the gay bar, so their real names would not be printed in the paper.

According to Frank Perez, a writer for Ambush magazine in New Orleans,

“The way things were at the time was really pretty bad. Raids of gay bars were very high and discrimination was profound,” Perez said.

A description of the Upstairs Lounge was given this way:

In 1973, the gay and lesbian scene in New Orleans was still largely underground, and patrons remember the UpStairs Lounge as not just any bar, but as a gay community hangout where locals could gather without fear of social persecution.

Songs were sung around a piano, “nellydramas” were performed with the help of local playwrights, and couples competed in tricycle races, according to former 9th Ward resident Johnny Townsend, the author of “Let the Faggots Burn: The UpStairs Lounge Fire,” a comprehensive retelling of the events of that night in 1973.

The walls of the French Quarter watering hole were covered with flocked wallpaper, adorned with memorabilia including an iconic Cosmopolitan magazine spread of Burt Reynolds lying naked on a bearskin rug.

To get into the bar, you had to ring a buzzer at the entrance on the ground level and then after you were let in, you went upstairs to the bar.  The gist of the story of the arson is this:  A local hustler and regular Rodger Nunez, had been thrown out of the bar and it was said that he remarked, “I’m gonna burn y’all out.”.  (Note: Nunez committed suicide the next year and an acquaintance of his said that when he was drunk he confessed to setting the fire but denied it when he sobered up)  The fire was determined to be arson but no one was ever arrested or convicted of the crime.

That night:

about 60 people held court at the French Quarter bar. A weekly “beer bust” had just ended, a jukebox was blaring near the entrance and people were gathered around the bar’s piano, where two men took turns banging away on the keys, as patrons joined in and sang along to “United We Stand”.

An incessant buzzing at the bar’s door, however, got the attention of bartender Buddy Rasmussen, who eventually asked 47-year-old Luther Boggs to go answer it. The buzzer was located at the street level where another door entered onto Iberville Street. Upon pushing open the lounge door, Boggs was met with a wall of fire that had been building in the stairway, causing flames to explode into the bar, instantly setting the whole place ablaze.

Rasmussen, an Air Force veteran, was able to lead about 20 people to safety through a rear door near the stage, which led out onto the roof of the building.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The good part is the Irish referendum to repeal their forced pregnancy 8th amendment. Marvelous photos of people converging to vote (they don’t have absentee ballots, I guess??). #HomeToVote. The hashtag is worth reading on the twitter machine, but have a box of tissues handy. The wonderful women and men of Ireland buried, just plain obliterated, the bigots who think women are a cheaper version of artificial wombs, who refuse to see that women are human beings.

+ – + – +

The appalling, horrible, devastating, dire, harrowing, terrifying part is the US government forcibly separating mothers and fathers and children. Some of the children are just a year old. One. year. old. And some have been handed over to somebody, anybody. Some unaccompanied minors given to human traffickers.

Earlier on my blog I had a post about the USA’s continued slide into depravity.

Burned mosque in Victoria, Texas. January 2017. (Bob Daemmrich)

But bad as a hate crime is against a symbol of religion, a hate crime against living, breathing children is even worse.

The sad thing is I think all of us screaming about the atrociousness of it are missing the point.

It’s not like they (the Bully in Chief, his administration, ICE, etc.) didn’t realize the suffering they would cause. It’s not like us pointing it out is going to lead to a big “D’OH!” moment and they’ll quit it.

The suffering is the point. That’s the worst of it. This is fully intentional.

The point is to stop immigration. And I can see where it could slow it way down. If the choice is murder by a local drug gang or losing your children to traffickers, I could see deciding to take a chance on avoiding the murderers. And then the monsters running the US will crow about how well their crimes of state worked.

I just … this has to stop … I wish I knew how. Yes, November. But November is not now. It has to stop now. It has to. It won’t.

Crossposted from Acid Test

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hello Widdershins! It’s been almost a year since many of us marched, in the largest protest in American history, to show our solidarity with women across the nation. The inauguration of this cruel, bigoted and misogynistic President brought out people who had never marched before – even my 75-year-old father! Martin Luther King Jr. would have been proud of us.

That terrible, yet fortifying and loving day spawned the resilient, organized and powerful movement called #TheResistance. I don’t think any of us knew it would be as widespread and passionate as it is. On social media, in the streets, with calls and emails and signed petitions, we are now, and for the foreseeable future, making our voices heard. Hear us roar!

In these days, when we have “human error” causing Hawaiians to fear for their lives while the President golfs and tweets about his press coverage; when the racism of the leader of the free world causes more and more damage every day; when the Republicans lie shamelessly and continuously to protect their political futures and (I think) their dirty, dirty money; well…it’s hard to believe that we are living through it and somehow, hanging on to our sanity. So let’s take a look at the various ways #TheResistance is still alive, well, and thriving.

Here are a couple of photos from our very own Contrask, who protested last weekend. Amazing!

Yesterday, hundreds of Haitians protested near Mar-A-Lago, explaining to Drumpf (as he golfed on MLK Day) that Haiti “is not a Shithole.” (Still incredulous. I’ll never get over what he said.)

And oh my! What terrible reviews Trump properties are suddenly getting on Yelp!

It didn’t take long for people offended by President Trump’s remark that African nations were “shithole countries” to turn the insult back around on his family-owned company’s properties. The Yelp page for the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue has been swamped since Thursday afternoon with one-star reviews calling the 263-room luxury hotel a “shithole.”

“It’s a shithole. The owner is a racist senile old man. Don’t waste your money. #shithole,” reads one review. Another tells readers, “But I hear you can get incredible ‘service’ if you bring in your own Russian hookers to give you the ‘golden treatment.’”

Speaking of Shithole activism: I think this is my favorite.

There are Women’s March Anniversary protests set up for this weekend. Get out there and march if you can!

This is an open thread.


Good Monday, all. We have certainly had some very good news this past week. The amazing victory of Doug Jones in Alabama took us all by surprise…and for once, it was a happy surprise! Roy Moore’s refusal to concede is both embarrassing and ridiculous, and makes both him and the Republican Party look worse (if such a thing is even possible). It won’t get him anywhere except the loony bin, which, frankly, is where he has belonged for a long time.

As DYB pointed out on Saturday, Senator-Elect Jones ran as an unabashed liberal on social issues, with the requisite full-throated support for a woman’s right to choose. It’s important to note this actual fact, as I’ve been hearing an alarming amount of noise from white men in the media who don’t seem to feel Jones had the winning strategy.

“Why can’t Democrats allow some room for pro-lifers in the Party?” bemoaned well-known sexist jackass “Tingly Leg” Chris Matthews last week. “I mean, most people are against late-term abortions. It would make such a difference in red states.” (I can’t seem to find this video – sorry folks, maybe someone else can?) Now, let me get this straight…a 70-year-old white Catholic man is advising Democrats to throw women’s rights under the bus, even after it has been demonstrated time and again that women have been critical to the special election sweeps since 2016? This was before Jones’ victory, I admit…but if moderate white Republican women didn’t go over to Jones, he wouldn’t have won. Do you really think they were worried about abortion when they went to the voting booth? Somehow I think they were more worried about their teenage daughters running into Moore in the mall!

If only Matthews were the only one pushing this crap. But alas, he’s not. White male, and now-former Republican Joe Scarborough jumped on the train that same week. Surrounding Democratic 2020 candidate John Delaney (yes, I know, who?) with an all-conservative, almost all-male audience (the sole female being Peggy Noonan), white male Delaney was mercilessly quizzed about his Catholicism and how he feels about abortion. Delaney said he feels that pro-life Democrats should “join the big tent” as long as they support the other planks of the platform, like “economic values.” Really, John, really? And how will women gain economic equality if Democrats don’t consider their rights as human rights? Or are we really supposed to accept the idiotic Sandersian myth that a $15/hr. minimum wage will magically erase the institutionalized racism and misogyny that keep women and people of color from earning their fair share of the dollar?

I’m going to bang on an old drum here: Democrats have not done right by their female supporters in decades. They never pushed through the ERA when they had the chance. When they had their first viable female candidate for the Presidency in 2008, the National Party decided Obama was more “historic,” and demonstrably rigged the nomination for him. Perhaps this innate knowledge that we are an afterthought for most Dems, is why so many of my white sisters vote Republican? Certainly after the debacle of 2008, many of us frustrated women (and the men who support us) re-registered as Independents, but came back to the fold when the Tea Party rose up and took the Republicans on the final leg of their long trip to CrazyTown.

After the Democratic Party once again allowed a sexist man to run a misogynistic campaign against Hillary in 2016, contributing to her electoral defeat, women started getting a lot smarter. They stopped passively expecting the Party to help them, and decided to take it over for themselves. The leadership of the Party should have noticed this by now. Women are running for office in unbelievable numbers, and winning, and are the backbone of the Resistance which helped defeat the overturn of the Affordable Care Act and fueled the anti-Trump furor across America. Yet, if my Maryland brother John Delaney is any indication, it’s clear that the Democratic Party still cannot get over its encrusted and myopic focus on its…male members. (Wink.)

I admit I have just started to fully understand my privilege as a white female living in a blue state. There is not a chance in hell that a pro-death Democrat will beat a pro-choice one here. And in fact, I couldn’t care less what people think privately, as long as they don’t vote to curtail a woman’s right to choose in any way. But should we really invite this kind of ambiguity into the Party, when so many women have lost access to not just abortion, but any form of pre-natal care at all? And when our maternal mortality rate has gone up so much, we’re now the only developed country where it’s increasing?

This excellent Slate article explains why we’re going backwards instead of forwards in the area of women’s health. There are three reasons: poverty, lack of access to health care, and regressive contraception and abortion policies. All of these issues disproportionately affect African-American women, who die in childbirth at 3 times the rate of white women, and 98% of whom voted for Doug Jones, a pro-choice Democrat.

I hope we’re seeing the connection here.

I’m not going to threaten to leave the Party. I’m over that; as I’ve said a few times now, I’ll vote for an artichoke if it has a D next to it. Our democracy depends on wresting power from the wanna-be Fascist in the White House, and the cowardly, corrupt Republicans who are enabling his blatant dismantling of our sacred rule of law.

But I will say this. If the Democrats do not get their sh*t together and start respecting women’s rights as much as they respect that cranky old Socialist’s annoying rants, they will most assuredly hear from me. And I suspect millions of my sisters and brothers will do the same.

This is an open thread.

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2017 (which is almost over) will be remembered for many things. I can’t think of any good things. I’d be willing to take all the celebrity deaths in 2016 over what we’re living with now. But time travel is not an option.

One part of this year that has sent shockwaves through all of our collective lives is the slew of allegations (and confessions) about sexual assault and harassment done by powerful men in professional settings over decades. The first brick to fall was Harvey Weinstein’s long history of abusing Hollywood actresses. He is now joined in infamy by Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., New Republic president Hamilton Fish, journalist Mark Halperin, New York Times’ Glenn Thrush, Charlie Rose, film producer and director Brett Ratner, director James Toback, actor Casey Affleck, and his brother Ben too. This list is not at all up to date and it will grow longer. (I didn’t even mention Trump or Roy Moore…)

In some ways the most interesting names on that list, to me anyway, are the reporters. People like Fish, Halperin, Thrush and Rose (I’m sure that list will expand.) It is important to remember that these men, in their positions of extraordinary power and influence, helped set the narrative for the 2016 election. They helped paint Hillary Clinton as unlikable and untrustworthy. Not just in 2016, but long before that. How does one process the revelations about them with the filter of misogyny turned on? Because certainly their misogyny – which is no longer an abstract accusation, but now something very concrete and definitive – helped drive their coverage of the first female nominee for a major party. We had complaints about the coverage of Clinton and the election before. But now our complaints have something very tangible attached to them. These men, who do not respect women (at best, hate women at worst) helped paint Clinton as an untrustworthy, lazy, unlikable shill.

There is another aspect of this topic that I think is worth discussing. The wave of accusations was long-coming. But – there are risks involved. The tag “Believe women” carries a risk with it. Because not all accusations are true. This isn’t to bring up the irrelevant statistics about false accusations (which have historically been statistically insignificant.) It’s just to point out that we now live in highly polarized and divisive times. And some people will take a positive – believe women – and weaponize it. We may have seen some of that in the accusations against Al Franken. As a liberal Senator he has been the number one enemy of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. That marked him. A day before accusations against him were publicly made, Roger Stone said that Franken’s time was coming soon. How did Stone know this? We know Franken’s accuser is a Trump supporter and some of her accusations about Franken harassing her on a 2006 USO tour have come under question. Is it fair to question her when liberals have said “believe women” until now? Does it reveal a bias? Or is it a necessary realization that “believe women” can and maybe has already been weaponized by the unscrupulous Right? Franken – if he survives the allegations – is damaged. (Another accusation was made against Franken by the NY Post on behalf of Arianna Huffington, claiming Franken grabbed her inappropriately in 2000 during the taping of the Bill Maher show. Huffington eventually responded defending Franken, saying she was not assaulted by Franken and the accusations printed by the Post were false. “I think I’m a better judge of how I felt in that satirical photo shoot with Al Franken than the recollections of an anonymous bystander,” she wrote. But that’s too late. I’m now seeing references to Franken as having multiple accusations made against him.) Perhaps we need to revise “believe women” to “take women seriously.” Accept the accusations and investigate. See where the investigation takes you.

Another – slightly different – example on Tuesday was The Hollywood Reporter story about the Pixar/Disney executive John Lasseter. Lasseter has been responsible to a very large degree for the animated masterpieces that have come out of Pixar over the years and he directed “Toy Story.” Lasseter has stepped away from Pixar after the allegations were made public. But in their article THR said the actress and writer Rashida Jones left “Toy Story 4” project (which she was helping write) because of Lasseter’s unwanted advances. By attaching a famous woman’s name to the story they made it travel so much further. The problem is that Rashida Jones’ statement (written with her writing partner) about why she left the project say THR was wrong. Nothing sexual in nature drove her away.

The break neck speed at which journalists have been naming the next perpetrator renders some reporting irresponsible and, in fact, counterproductive for the people who do want to tell their stories. In this instance, The Hollywood Reporter does not speak for us. We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances. That is untrue.

They go on to say they left over creative and philosophical differences with Pixar. So whatever Lasseter’s behavior with other women, by throwing Jones into the mix, THR has also weaponized the sexual assault accusations and done a disservice to the actual victims. As reporters rush to find out more dirt, more and more mistakes (malicious or not) will be made. And there is a trip-wire to the whole cause, because once mistakes start happening the entire movement is at risk of crashing down.

In Brief

Posted on: October 18, 2017

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Hello Widdershins,

My apologies for being an absentee poster. I run out of hours in the day and have no computer at work. Only a very weak signal on my iPhone. But I’m sure the news keeps everyone busy. I’ll be back to my regular schedule in a week!

The worst thing I read all day is Dump’s awful phone call to the widow of slain U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson. After ignoring the 4 American soldiers killed in Niger for weeks (he golfed though), he finally brought himself to call a family. And he told the pregnant Myeshia Johnson: “He knew what he signed up for.” There truly is no end to Trump’s depravity. But we should read the names of the 4 soldiers killed and a hold a moment of silence because our president doesn’t care.

From one kind of depraved to a very different kind of depraved, the story of Harvey Weinstein is continuing to reverberate in the entertainment industry. There are now at least 47 women who have accused Weinstein of harassing or assaulting them. Of the well-known actresses the most recent story comes from Lena Headey, who plays Cersei Lannister on the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones.” The story, of course, is bigger than Weinstein. The singer/actress Björk, who has starred in only one movie, critically acclaimed “Dancer in the Dark,” wrote a letter in which she referenced being abused by a Danish director. Since she only appeared in one film and that film was made by a Dane, the unnamed director is Lars von Trier. Von Trier makes controversial films (I personally detest each and every one of them). In 2011 he stunned the Cannes Film Festival when he announced during a press conference:

“I found out I was actually a Nazi. My family were German. And that also gave me some pleasure. What can I say? I understand Hitler…I sympathize with him a bit.”

Molly Ringwald has also said she’s had “plenty of Harveys of my own.” She says she was first assaulted when she was 13. Reese Witherspoon says she was sexually assaulted by a director when she was 16. And America Ferrera said that she remembers the first time she was assaulted was when she was 9.

On Monday I went out to grab a Starbucks while at work. Crossing the street on 49th St and Park Avenue (a short distance from Grand Central station), I saw an SUV almost run over a young woman. He was backing up against his light and not paying attention. He side-swiped this woman (she was not breaking any laws), and only reason he didn’t actually run her over was because she jumped out of the way in time. So she started yelling to him to watch it, he hit her with his car. This man, big man, in his late 40’s, looked out of the window and said: “Oh did I hit you? Let me see. Where? In the back? Show me. Turn around baby, let me see you from the back.” As she began to turn to show him…she froze. I think all the witnesses did. It became obvious he was literally trying to see her ass. He was sexually harassing woman in the middle of the street that he just literally hit with his car… You could see her face changing as she realized what was happening and that dumbass grinned at her. It was truly breathtaking.

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To make you feel maybe 1% better about all this insanity – there is the story of the immortal Carrie Fisher. After being told by a friend, screenwriter Heather Robinson, that a studio executive sexually assaulted her, Carrie Fisher took matters into her own hands. She personally delivered to the executive a Tiffany box. Inside the box – a cow tongue. And a note: “If you ever touch my darling Heather or any other woman again, the next delivery will be something of yours in a much smaller box.”

And finally, if you follow reporters on social media you may have noticed that a few voices have been oddly missing for several days. New York Times voices. The normally rambunctious Maggie Haberman has been MIA. Glenn Thrush quit twitter altogether. And then we found out why. The bosses have slapped down their on-line behavior. Dean Baquet (a man who has a lot to answer for as far as the 2016 coverage) announced new social media rules for his reporters. And poor Maggie and Glenn, their entire gig is up. The stuff they are best at – snide condescension and sarcasm are discouraged. I think these rules broke Maggie.

So what’s on your mind Widdershins?

Good Monday, all. As happens every weekend, we’ve been treated to a cavalcade of terrible and not-so-terrible news. Here are some numbers that have struck me lately.

The way the media reports on how people feel about gun control makes it seem that everyone in America is totin’ and shootin’. This statistic, multiply sourced, contradicts that perception – and it’s staggering.

3%

Proportion of people who own half of the country’s guns, according to an unpublished Harvard/Northeastern University survey result summary. Anchoring this group are America’s gun super-owners – an estimated 7.7 million Americans who own between eight and 140 guns.

Let that sink in. 7.7 million Americans own between eight and 140 guns. Who in the f*cking f*ck needs 140 guns? And how could we require Sudafed to be registered and tracked, but not guns?!

After the horror in Las Vegas, the NRA is still desperately fighting against any suggestion that there’s something wrong with our gun laws. Our national insanity on gun regulation has long been a threat to all of our personal safety, and it’s getting exponentially worse. Any one of us could be going to a mall, to school, to church or temple or mosque, to the movies, or to a concert – and any one of us could be shot and killed for no reason. Your “Second Amendment right” does not overrule my right to conduct a peaceful and law-abiding life without fear of being gunned down by a terrorist or a madman.

This is why I have zero patience for any argument against gun regulation. It’s just dumb. I refuse to accept that 4 gun deaths a day – A DAY – is inevitable. We must change this, and soon. Yes, a gun registry is required. And yes, the number of guns per person should be SEVERELY limited. One per person is MORE THAN ENOUGH. If I were President, I would g*dd*mn well take people’s guns away, and I don’t care if I’d have to send in tanks to make it happen. 140 guns? Oh hell to the no. You can have one, and NOT an automatic or semi-automatic. A hand gun, or a rifle. Take your pick.

This is Reason #8,782,495 that I will never be President, of course.

Here are some more numbers that may make us feel a bit better.

We learned this weekend that der Drumpfenfuhrer is very, very unpopular. He’s hit an all-time low, and I don’t think he’s going to go anywhere but down from here, because he’s started to lose his base.

Few Americans believe that President Trump understands their needs and problems, and most would not describe him as honest, level-headed, or a strong leader, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Nineteen percent of Americans say President Trump understands the needs and problems of people like them extremely or very well, 17 percent say moderately well, and 64 percent say he understands their needs and problems not very well or not well at all.

Twenty-six percent believe President Trump is a strong leader, 23 percent view him as honest, and 16 percent say he is level-headed. Republicans are most likely to use each of these terms to describe the president.

[snip]

While 67 percent of Republicans still approve of the job the president is doing, support among Republicans has decreased significantly since March when 80 percent of Republicans expressed approval. (bolding mine) Twenty-eight percent of independents and 5 percent of Democrats say they approve of Trump’s handling of his job. Among Democrats, this also represents a decline since March when 11 percent said they approved.

You know the Republicans in Congress are watching these numbers, and none with more glee than Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), who, having decided to retire from the sh*tshow his Party has become, is absolutely DONE with pretending to respect the Marmalade Moron. Corker is out and about, talking about how he’s worried our pResident will start World War III just to get back at Obama, or because his daddy didn’t love him, or whatever insanity caused Drumpf to become the narcissistic dickwad he is today. Here’s the interesting part – the Senator purported to speak for the entire Republican caucus.

All but inviting his colleagues to join him in speaking out about the president, Mr. Corker said his concerns about Mr. Trump were shared by nearly every Senate Republican.

“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” he said, adding that “of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

Come on, fellas and ladies. Step right up and take the baton from Bobby C. It’s time to throw that orangutan under the bus. The 25th Amendment will do just fine till Mueller comes and makes a clean sweep.

What’s on your mind today? This is an open thread.


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Kellyanne Conway’s new job

Take the kids to work? NO!

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

“The” Book

Nice picture of our gal

Time till the Grifter in Chief is Gone

Hopefully soonerJanuary 21st, 2021
2.5 years to go.

Mueller Time!

Wise Words from Paul Ryan

B-I-N-G-O!

Only the *best* politicans bought by the NRA

Marching for their lives

Perfect Picture

Rudy: oh shit the pee tape IS real!

Need Reminders?

Never too early to shop for Christmas

“Look this way”

Manafort’s Jail Photo

Indeed who?

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