Saturday, October 31, 2009

Victor, Oscar, Thomas, Edward!

This Tuesday is Election Day in America, and those four guys in the title of this post spell VOTE, which is exactly what you need to do. Voting is one of the most important things you do as an American citizen, and voting is still the most powerful expression of your voice in the affairs of our government. Last year, voters made history in electing Barack Obama to the Presidency, amid the greatest voter turnout of the past 50 years. We in the LGBT community are now seeing benefits from that election, as just a few days ago, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Act into law, granting federal hate-crimes protections to gays and lesbians. Obama became the first President to sign legislation specifically for the LGBT community, because YOU, the voter, put him in the White House to do it.

It's worth remembering that President Obama began his political career at the local level, as a Chicago community organizer. This bears out the oft-repeated (and little-noted) maxim that all politics are local. City Councilmen become State Senators, State Senators become Governors and Congressmen, Governors and Congressmen go on to become Presidents and high Cabinet officials. It all starts at the local level, which is why those seemingly "boring" local elections are of critical importance. The LGBT community in particular is dependent on local elections, especially in New York City, where four LGBT candidates are in the running for City Council seats. I will focus on the NYC election here, but wherever you live, it's always important to vote every year. Elect the candidate of your choice, as is your right.

New Yorkers are voting for most of the major Citywide offices, as well as City Council seats in Districts 1 through 18, or one-third of the Council. Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R-UES) is running for a third term, something only Mayor Koch and the legendary Fiorello LaGuardia have accomplished. LaGuardia is widely considered to be the greatest of all the NYC mayors, (he was offered a chance for a fourth term, but demurred) and both his and Koch's tenure evoked the qualities of the "quintessential New York City mayor". Despite two referendums retaining term limits, Bloomberg used the power of his high office and masive wealth to cajole the City Council into revising the New York City Charter to repeal term limits. He is opposed by NYC Controller Bill Thompson (D-Harlem).

Thompson, the city's chief fiscal officer since 2001, is running on a platform which, like his opponent's, includes a strong plank of support for LGBT community issues. However, the record shows Thompson has demonstrated a greater level of involvement and commitment with the gays and lesbians of the city. He is a frequent speaker at marches and rallies against homophobic violence, and lobbies City Hall for greater City support of the LGBT community. This is in sharp contrast to Mayor Bloomberg, who, while he has advocated legalizing gay marriage and marched in the Heritage Of Pride Parade, has been conspicuously absent from other LGBT rallies, marches and functions. Both Bloomberg and Thompson have not yet stated their position on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) or on the afotementioned Shepard-Byrd Act. As of this writing, Thompson was said to be enjoying a 17-point lead among gays and lesbians, over Bloomberg on these and other issues of the day. Mayor Bloomberg, however, has a 15-point lead over Thompson citywide. Other Mayoral candidates on the ballot include Stephen Christopher (C-Park Slope), Francisca Villar (Socialist Liberal, West Fordham), Dan Fein (Socialist Workers, Inwood), Billy Talen (Green-Coney Island), Jimmy McMillan (Rent Is Too High, Bed-Stuy), and Joseph Dobrian, Libertarian, Kip's Bay).

The number-two office in NYC government is that of the Public Advocate. In the event that the Mayor dies or cannot fulfill his duties, the Public Advocate becomes mayor, until a mayoral election can be held. The Public Advocate is your watchdog in City Hall. Acting as a kind of ombudsman, his or her job is to call attention to issues raised by New Yorkers, and make sure the city fathers address them in a timely and correct fashion. The candidates running for Public advocate this year from the major parties are Bill De Blasio (D-Park Slope)and Alex Zablocki (R-Great Kills). Both candidates indicate strong support for such crucial issues as mass-transit improvements, strengthening the Rent Control Board, and better funding for the Police and Fire Departments. On other city issues, such as Charter reform and accountability of City officials, the candidates differ along Party lines. DeBlasio has been a consistent LGBT supporter, and is well-known for his efforts as a City Council member in pushing for greater recognition of LGBT rights, as well as better housing and senior-citizen care. Zablocki's record on LGBT issues is less clear, but he "maintains a concern for the rights and freedoms of all New Yorkers."

The final citywide office on the 2009 ballot is for Controller, the city's chief accountant. The Controller manages funding for all of the city's departments and agencies, oversees municipal bond issues, and advises the Mayor and City Council on the fiscal health of the City. With sums running into the hundreds of billions of dollars, the monster New York City budget is bigger than that of many states, and some small countries. Competing for election to this daunting task are City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) and longtime securities analyst Joe Mendola (R-Greenwich Village). Councilman Liu is a vocal proponent of fiscal reform in lean economic times, and has been pushing for greater frugality in City spending while representing Flushing in the City Council. His GOP opponent Mendola brings the experience of his long career in finance to bear in addressing the City's fiscal woes. The Controller's office is a critical post in City government, because this office affects everything the City does, from the price of a subway ride to the functioning of city services we all depend on. It's not a race to be taken lightly.

Other major elections on the New York City ballot include five judgeships in The Bronx, the Bronx Borough President, and 18 City Council races. It should also be noted that participation in government is not limited to voting. We are the government, and running for public office is also available to us. In City Council District 8 (Spanish Harlem), incumbent Melissa Mark-Veverito (D-Harlem) is running unopposed. While she boasts an excellent record representing her District, the fact that she runs alone points to a lack of interest in political affairs in that area. That's a shame, because when we don't vote, run for office, or otherwise pay attention to who is in our government and what it is doing, we often end up with the government we don't want. On Tuesday, get over to the polls and cast your vote, no matter where you live. Your government arises out of your choices, so don't let others make that decision for you!

Zolra's Corner: Do Gays Love Romantic Comedies?

For me, I love romantic comedies. I think it's the best genre of movies in the world. I started writing screenplays, and the first script I wrote was a romantic comedy called Jen loves Stephen. I love to see the way how romance occurs in a comedic way. It's funny, and pays attention to the attraction towards the two characters at the same time.

Days ago, I went to see Along Came Polly, a romantic comedy I have been dieing to see for years. After watching it, tons of questions came in my head. I went out with some friends for dinner in order to keep myself entertained.

While some were talking about their relationships, I was talking about what's going on in the movies. Tons of questions were still in my head. Then it brought me up to the question. My relationships, my friend's relationships, the movies we love, the way we run our lives. This one question ended all questions.

Do gays love romantic comedies?

After that question popped up, I began searching and researching. Then I began to believe it's possible. For most of us, it's hard to find that one person that will treat you well and not move along the second they see someone that is hot and fresh. Going to the movies looks like the one way where we can find ourselves trapped in another world positively.

I have a shelf full of mostly romantic comedies. I have Straight and gay romantic comedies. I love them all. There are other genres, but romantic comedies are 98% on the shelf. As long as they keep me entertained, I will put them on my shelf. Relationships is something I take seriously. One thing romantic comedies do is teach me the good and bad parts of a relationship. One of the best romantic comedies I have seen years ago was created by Maurice Jamal called The Ski Trip.

It's pure original. It's something I have never seen before. The characters Omar and Corey resembles so much of me. In general, it's one of the best romantic comedies surrounding our community. Ever since I saw this movie, I have seen alot of gays and lesbians talking about this movie for a full year. It was like this film was this years Oscar winner for Best Picture. Then let's not forget the one movie that everyone is still talking about.

These are a few differences I see between Noah's Arc the tv series, and the movie. The tv show is considered a dramedy. It centered around the character's relationships and everyday life. Then there was the drama surrounding the issues around the gay and lesbian community. So when I went to see the movie, I considered it to be the same as the tv show. Then I when I saw it, I said to myself "This is a romantic comedy".

There were no issues surrounding the community at all (unless you include the problem surrounding Wade's side of the family). This was mostly about how the characters fixing their relationships, and it also centered around a wedding. If you been to a gay wedding like this in the movie, you will believe me by saying it's a romantic comedy. The press agrees too.

We might never know what types of movies we love. As long as the relationship between two individuals captures us, we will hooked on it no matter what the genre is.

GeoGrands #7

“You’re doing just fine, Logic,” Density said in a coaching voice.
“My head feels like it’s going to burst open,” Logic replied quietly. He was using his telekinetic power to levitate himself, Buff and Elle through the air over the ocean. Density was using her own power to float through the air.
“Breathe deep and concentrate,” Elle said. She had miniaturized herself and was perched on Logic’s shoulder.
“Where are we at anyway?” Buff asked. “We need to find someplace to land soon before you drop us.”
“Not…helping…,” Logic said through clenched teeth.
Density was a little worried. As a telekinetic, with the proper time and training, Logic would have easily been able to carry massive amounts of weight with his mind that he couldn’t physically carry. He was nowhere near that level of expertise, however, and he wasn’t very strong physically. Density was still slightly impressed that he was handling his own weight and Buff’s albeit just barely. Elle had shrunk herself as small as she could to ease the burden.
“Do you think we lost the Polygens?” Elle asked.
“I hope so,” Density replied. “We dropped low enough out of airspace that hopefully their radars won’t pick us up, or if they do, they might mistake our mass size for a flock of birds.”
“I see land!” yelled Buff causing Logic to temporarily drop altitude suddenly.
“Do you have to yell?” Elle fussed. “He’s trying to concentrate.
“That’s weird,” Density said. “We’re not quite near Emthira yet, but we do need to land.”
Logic wanted to respond, but all of his concentration was focused on just keeping them aloft in the air. I’m going to drop altitude, he thought as hard as he could, hoping the others would hear his thought via his telepathy.
“I don’t know if I’m ever going to get use to hearing your voice in my head,” Elle said.
“At least that means he is getting more control over his telepathy,” Density said as she smiled and gave Logic a reassuring look.
Soon, the foursome landed on a beach of what appeared to be a tropical island. Off the shoreline were a row of thickly arranged palm trees and behind them was a huge pyramid.
“Where are we?” Logic asked wearily as he collapsed on the beach.
“I’m not sure,” Density said. “Let’s rest a minute and then we’ll go exploring. That pyramid up ahead looks as good as any place to start. How long do you think it will be before you can morph again, Elle?”
“Awhile, yet,” she replied. “My arm is still very sore, and changing shape could reopen the wound. I don’t want to risk it. I’m just relieved that morphing into another shape usually takes care of serious injuries.”
“What’s wrong, Logic?” Buff asked. “You looked like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“I don’t know. I get a strange vibe off of this island. And the pyramid, I feel drawn to it. Like I have to get there no matter what.”
“Are you rested and ready?” Density asked.
“I just have a horrible headache but I’ve been dealing with headaches all my life,” he replied.
“Alrighty, then. Let’s go see what’s up with that pyramid,” Density said.

The Case Of Gay NYPD Officer Jai Aiken, Part 2

The story of former NYPD officer Jai Aiken's ordeal at the hands of his employer continues this week. Last Saturday, we began with a look at the NYPD's repeated attempts to ensnare Aiken in a criminal "sting" investigation. After an initial investigation into an allegation that Jai and his brother were running "guns and drugs" using their side business, a moving company produced no evidence, the NYPD wasn't satisfied. Instead of closing the case, the department's Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) embarked on an even bolder investigation of Aiken. Aware that Jai was an openly gay cop, the IAB came up with a plan in which an undercover operative would be sent in, pretending to be gay. Ostensibly interested in Jai as a sexual partner, the undercover was directed to entice Jai into buying merchandise "at a discount" from the undercover, who alluded to the possibility of his sleeping with Jai in exchange for purchasing electronic gear.

The entire operation was documented on hidden-camera video, and when Jai, believing the undercover to be a retail worker who was getting the items at an "employee discount", finally gave in and bought an iPod, and later a big-screen TV set, the IAB piunced. Jai was arrested, suspended from the NYPD and eventually tried in Manhattan Supreme Court, where he was acquitted of all charges by a jury. The jury found clear indications of entrapment, and were "outraged and incensed" by the NYPD's treatment of Aiken. Although the prosecution lost the criminal case against him, the NYPD was still trying to punish Jai for "departmental-rules violations" arising out of the IAB investigations. According to Aiken, the NYPD "was using whatever means it could" to remove him from among their ranks. A Future Forward investigation into the Aiken case, performed at Aiken's request, revealed some interesting facts:

Although IAB trial judge David Weisel, in commentary on the case, stated "[Aiken's] sexual orientation had nothing to do with the investigation, the NYPD specifically singled Aiken's sexuality out as a basis for creating a role to be filled by an undercover. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, remarked during the criminal trial that "this was the first time an undercover was placed into the role of a gay man" to perform a sting operation. According to city records, at the start of the operation against Aiken, the undercover was sent to Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, a well-known gay cruising area. The operative was instructed to approach Aiken, then already under surveillance, and appear "sexually interested" in Jai. This would seem at odds with the NYPD's assertion that this was nothing more than a criminal investigation. The undercover was further instructed to "keep Aiken interested" in him, purportedly to convince Aiken that "helping" the undercover would lead to sex between them.

In addition, although Aiken made it clear in both the moving-van case and the subsequent sting operation involving the merchandise, that he was not interested in breaking the law, the undercover was instructed by his handlers to "redirect [Aiken's] attention from sex to guns, drugs, and stolen goods." The video played during Aiken's trial bears this out, and suggests extreme intent on the NYPD's part to set Aiken up for a fall.

When a NYPD police officer is brought up on charges of any kind, the usual procedure is for the Police Benevolent Association, the NYPD's union, to send a delegate to ascertain the facts of the case, and together with a PBA lawyer, defend the accused cop against legal or administrative actions brought by their employer, the NYPD. However, in Aiken's case, the PBA was quick to wash its hands of any involvement with the Aiken case, saying Aiken's activities while off-duty were not covered under the PBA's mandate. Yet the PBA, in the case of off-duty officer Andrew Kelly, had assigned PBA attorneys to represent both officers involved in the case, which involved Officer Kelly's car fatally striking a pedestrian on a Brooklyn street. Two other cops in that case have been suspended for allegedly helping Kelly hide his apparent intoxication from investigators. The other officer in Kelly's car, although also off-duty at the time of the accident, has been suspended for fleeing the scene. All have been given PBA representation.

Unable to obtain PBA representation beyond his arraignment, Aiken next looked to the Gay Officers Action League a support organization for gay and lesbian cops. But he was rebuffed again by this organization, despite mounting evidence suggesting the department was targeting Aiken based on his sexual orientation. Eventually, Aiken was offered a settlement in which the NYPD would agree not to fire him, and award him a "three-quarters" disability pension in exchange for a pledge by Aiken not to sue the police department for its conduct in his case. A "three-quarters" disability pension is given to officers who become disabled beyond the ability to work as cops, as a result of injuries or illnesses related to their jobs. The offer made to Aiken was worked out on the theory that Aiken, who developed severe psychological symptoms as a result of stresses incurred during the NYPD's pursuit of him, qualified for the pension as a result. However, on the advice of his attorneys, Aiken has opted to refuse the agreement and take the city to court. The NYPD then moved to fire Aiken, which they did after a departmental trial in late 2006.

Aiken then sued the city and the NYPD for $15 million, charging civil-rights violations, wrongful arrest and imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. "I was harrased and prosecuted by the department", Aiken recalls, "even though I had a perfect record working for the NYPD 13 years." The lawsuit is still pending in Brooklyn Supreme Court. The long, sad story of Jai Aiken and the city's perhaps homophobically-fueled investigation and prosecution is not yet over, but there are some troubling questions raised by this episode involving one of the few openly-gay black cops on the force:

What caused the NYPD to investigate Aiken further after the initial moving-van case revealed no wrongdoing by either aiken or his brother, after nine months and thousands of man-hours? The NYPD's Public Information Office told Future Forward that the decision to continue investigating Aiken was made as part of an "ongoing investigation." Yet Aiken points out that normal IAB procedure when a case yields negative results, is to close the matter out.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Paul Browne insists, as did the IAB trial judge, that "Officer Aiken's sexual orientation was not at issue in this case." If that's true, why use a purportedly gay, black undercover officer to set Aiken up, using sexual advances? Even as the NYPD asserted that Jai's sexuality was not the issue, they were also publicly stating that the Aiken case was the first time an undercover was instructed to act in the role of a gay would-be lover. They can't have it both ways.

The NYPD has, in fact, made considerable advances in its relationship with New York's LGBT community in recent years, even going so far as to create an in-house LGBT committee, complete with a full-time NYPD detective to address the concerns of the LGBT community. Yet, in its treatment of gay and lesbian cops on the force, it appears the NYPD has a long way to go. The Aiken case brings to light some profound issues for gays and lesbians of color who are on the force or considering a career with the Police Department. Its ultimate outcome will have far-reaching effects for the NYPD and those who wear the blue uniform under the rainbow flag.

Friday, October 30, 2009

My Eye-Opening Experience At A Forum For The Transgender Community

Very rarely, I would attend an event or participate in a situation for which I know little information, especially upon invitation. Yesterday, going to an event blindly paid off for me mentally and spiritually.

Check out my testimony in the video below. I talk about how I was invited to a "networking event" by a friend who really did not know what the event was about. Instead of a networking event for the unemployed, we entered into a forum discussion about transgenders in the workplace, transitioning and transformed.

Until last night, I would have quickly balked about such invitation since I can openly admit that I have not been open to socializing and associating with the transgender community. (By the way, this has been my preference, and my views are not uniformed with The Future Forward team.) Additionally, I have classified the transgendered community minimally to clubs, pageants, female impersonations, low-paying/less-skillful employment and the ball scene. Fortunately, my mind has opened and views has changed as I decided to check out what the symposium entailed. At the panel discussion, four transgendered men and women shared their stories of success, guilt, shame, stress and laughter as they transitioned from one sex to the other while they were in their executive positions. In fact, one of them manages accounts in excess of a billion dollars and transitioned during the height of her success. [She was born as a male.] Their stories wowed me as I would have never imagined people of the transgender community being successful outside of the GLBT and mainstream entertainment circuit.

I was more impressed by the message the last speaking panelist gave than the collective's transformation during employment. Though the forum was about fighting for rights and discussing the disparities of equality for transgenders in corporate America, the panelist spoke a message of empowerment and ownership of self. When people of ownership when people talking about being victims, I listen because solution brings progress where problem remain.

In fact, people [still] think that Blacks, gays and other groups cannot succeed in certain things. Who would have thought they would live through a Black man becoming President of the United States?

At that point, I knew that setting limitations on a group limits my perception of life. Everything is possible, and people are capable of accomplishing whatever their hearts desire. Even if we have never seen such a benchmark set for a demographic, one can ensure that someone will achieve that notoriety and pave the way for others someday.

Each of us have a bias toward a group or demographic. Yes, you do too. Think about the characteristics you associate with that group. Now, I challenge you to meet or find someone in that group that defies your classification of that group. You, too, will be more enlightened and open-minded as I have last night.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Notes from Nathan: Control Your Anger

We live in a world where we are trained to judge one another.  We are fed information from all angles, be it the internet, newspapers, magazines, television and other outlets.  Television is saturated with shows where contestants are judged by the way they look, dance and create.  We are individual creatures with our own God given talents.  Each of us should take time to further develop who we are as individuals instead of allowing others to dictate our fate.

Being criticized can cause one to become angry and ill feelings fester.  The only remedy to anger is to not have it run your life.  Deal with it dead on.  When you are criticized, wait 2 weeks before you get angry or upset. After 2 weeks if you still wish to get angry, add on an additional 2 weeks of wait time.  If after the end of those 2 weeks you still want to get angry, write the critic a long letter.  In this letter detail  why you are interested in becoming angry.  After this time and the process of purging your concerns through the letter, you may no longer have the destructive anger.  You may not even wish to send the letter.

Express your anger, but don't let it ruin your life and kill your spirit.

WATM - 10-29-09 - Exclusive Coverage Thurgood Marshall Event

Me -N- My Gay Son with Lady D

1. Did you ever envision marriage for my future?  How do you feel about 2 people of the same sex, getting married?

I never envisioned you getting married to another man. I have wondered what it would be like to have a grandchild, though.  It can still happen, you do have the tool  and the juice (smile). About same sex marriage, being a Christian, I believe in what the Bible says about a man and a woman becoming. However, I think that when individuals of the same sex care and love one another, a civil union should exist for them.

2. What advice would you give to mothers who have young sons and they suspect them to be gay? How should they approach their child or should they?

If mothers notice their son having effeminate behavior such as dressing up in girl's clothing, or playing games traditionally created for girls, then they should take on having a conversation with them after having educated themselves on homosexuality.  On the flip side, there are some mothers that know that their child is gay but may think of it as a phase and believe that they will some day grow out of it.

3. How do you feel about gay men of God, ministers, evangelists and clergy men?

I am totally against gay men preaching from the pulpit.

4. Have you ever wondered how our lives would be if I were straight?

If you were straight, I think our lives would still be as it is now, filled with fun, love, laughter and honesty. However, I think perhaps you would be in a relationship married with children. I don't think that you would be put under so much pressure to prove yourself as a man. You would be more embraced the world we live in.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Arts.Advocacy+Wellness: "The Night Watcher"

The Night Watcher
written and performed by Charlayne Woodard

Do you remember the woman who charmed us as Amelia in the original production of Ain't Misbehavin' alongside the late Nell Carter? Or do you remember Will Smith's aunt Janice from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air? Then, you'll remember that these characters were played by the multi-talented actress/storyteller/playwright Charlayne Woodard.

Charlayne Woodard is back with yet another beautifully written autobiographical one-woman show. In The Night Watcher, she's charming onstage and story tells with so much passion and honesty. Her delivery is very intimate, like a child being read a bedtime story at night, which foreshadows the story of The Night Watcher. That's her role - "Auntie," who has a list of god kids (nieces and nephews) who she cares for religiously, as if she was a birth mother.

The Night Watcher is an intimate look at the various definitions of parenthood, weaving together stories of the ordinary and extraordinary ways she has mentored the children in her life. As she tells these delicate and amusing stories of her god kids, she dives deeper into the personal by sharing her struggles of not having kids of her own. Touching on societal and familial pressure of women, marriage, and procreation. For Charlyane, who is happily married and childless, caring so fervidly for her host of god kids allows her to be a mother - her blessing. That's what works for her - her gift from the Universe and her contribution back to the Universe.

You know, there's a huge difference between being a biological parent and being a parent. Some folk were born with both gifts, some only one. This story speaks to one women's gift of being a parent and a mother to those many kids who are lacking or missing that parent figure...and we all know at least one. We all can appreciate and benefit a lot from a 'Night Watcher.'

There's only a few more days left to see this awesome one-woman show, presented by Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters. It closes this Saturday, the hurry! Your hearts will be warmed and your spirit will be renewed.

There's a lot of great theater happening Off and Off-Off Broadway these days, so, check out a show!

For more info:

written and performed by
Charlayne Woodard
directed by Daniel Sullivan
presented by Primary Stages

Theater A, 59E59 Theaters
59 East 59th Street
(between Madison & Park)
New York, NY 10022

last show Saturday, October 31, 2009

For Showtimes and Tickets:

Arts.Advocacy+Wellness: "Torya and Her Notes on Ubuntu"

Ubuntu Education Fund featured in South African Media

“THERE are no quick fixes when it comes to fundamentally changing a vulnerable child’s life – it is a longtime commitment and a complex journey. This is one of the many lessons the team from the Ubuntu Education Fund in Zwide in Mandela Bay have learnt over the past 10 years.”

        - Yolandé Stander WEEKEND POST REPORTER 2009/09/09

Ubuntu Education Fund founder Jacob Lief was in South Africa recently to check on the progress of our new Ubuntu Centre. While there, he spoke with many local journalists who were eager to hear about Ubuntu’s 10 year history and the Ubuntu Center, set to open in May 2010.

Click here to read the full article:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Face the Book in Business

The MEGA World of Lil Mogul
by Lil Mogul & Jaime Tedford
We humans, it turns out, are social. Whether in the real world or on the interwebs, we like to connect, share and express ourselves. Detractors of the social networking phenomenon diminish it to a telescope and microphone for creeping, stalking, and peeping.
In my experience, it's just the opposite. It's a magnifying glass and megaphone putting me out there for discovery and exploration. Our profiles are a window into our lives, or at least a carefully crafted version of our lives. We have reversed the peepholes on our apartment doors, office windows and invited the world to see us in our natural habitat.

It's an idea one of my associates labeled "reverse voyeurism" and betting on it is the closest thing to a guarantee of social media success that I know. Here's a pass at trying to translate this observation into some actionable social media opportunities.

Facebook starts with a face
Reverse voyeurism is a sister of vanity and a cousin of exhibitionism. The very idea of a "face book" starts with a photo, matching just another face in the crowd with a real identity. If social networking were only about vanity and exhibitionism, then this match would be the end of the story.

Real, honest-to-goodness social networking at its core is about the subtle invitation for my friends to get to know me better. Like a well-poured drink, it's also a powerful social lubricant. Would I ever have been so presumptive as to place 40th birthday photos in an envelope to send to 200 of my closest friends? Not likely. Yet with click of a few buttons on my new HTC Sprint phone (I still do not know how to use it fully) and the through the magic that is my news feed, it's almost like you were invited to my birthday bash (no need to send a gift, I understand).

Yup, something deep in my DNA wants all my friends and family, extended or close, to know I turned 40, had great weekend, partied and don't look a day over 29. Facebook is the number one photo site in the world not because it's a better photo utility than companies dedicated to that pursuit, but because it makes it more OK to share photos. The context is casual. "Hey everyone, check these out ... or not, whatever."

Obvious marketing observation: Incorporate photos into your social media strategy. Nothing captures and extends the lifespan of a moment in time like a simple digital image. Be the company that extends live experiences with your brand to the social web.

Enough about me, what do you think of me? Speaking of sharing little gems about me, the results of the last few Quizzes I've taken reveal I am; a "Audi" (What car-type ARE you?), a fashionista undercover (How fashion forward ARE you?) and Tennis (Golf or Tennis? The Game of choice). Honestly, it has baffled me for a long time why my friends, sophisticated and educated people, kept taking these personality quizzes.

It wasn't until I started considering the effects of reverse voyeurism that the answer came to me. We don't do it to learn more about ourselves; I already know I am a undercover fashionista that LOVES The Williams Sisters. We do it to provide one more puzzle piece to our friends. Hoping they continue to be interested in piecing together the 1,000-piece jigsaw that is me.

Oversimplified social strategy: Be the brand that asks me about me, but not so you can sell me more stuff. Do it so I can help my friends know me better. You'll get to know me better in the process, and eventually will sell me more stuff, I promise.

Duhh, Social Media Observation: I am what I'm a fan of. Give me a reason to add your brand to the mosaic that is me. Respect and recognize my permission to market to and through me. And how about a little something, you know, for the effort?
Ready, set, reverse your voyeursim
So is your brand ready to practice reverse voyeurism? As tentative as we all were putting our personal lives in that window, it's understandable the hesitation of many brands. Remember however that full transparency is a myth in person as it is in business. We still curate, put our best features forward, select the tidbits that we broadcast about ourselves.

Don't get all hung up on your own brand's transparency; you're not that interesting. Instead, keep asking how you're helping real humans be more transparent to other real humans who are their friends. When you turn the peephole around, I think you'll feel much less creepy, more like an invited guest and maybe even a friend. - Rick Pelzer

Front Row Fashion with TMCF

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) once again celebrated the spirit of innovation in fashion with a presentation of the collection of established and emerging African and Latino American fashion designers at Front Row, its 4th Annual Fashion Show on Saturday, October 24, 2009, at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City.

The show hosted by Actress & Comedian Sherri Shepherd, paid tribute to trailblazers in the fashion industry with its Fashion Icon Award, saluting individuals who have influenced style and fashion and embody the spirit of leadership and commitment to their craft to their craft. The 2009 honored this year were Supermodel Naomi Campbell; Celebrity Makeup Artist & Author Sam Fine; Emmy Award Winning Hairstylist Andre Walker and Fashion Institute of Technology President, Dr. Joyce F. Brown. The 2009 Avante Garde Award will be presented posthumously to the ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson. Marlon Jackson accepted his award.

Sherri Shepherd

Design by Montgomery

Seven Brown & Marlon Jackson

Design by Amsale

Design by Bryon Lars

Bethann Hardison

Naomi Campbell

Emil Wilbekin & Sam Fine

Photos Courtesy of Dexstar G. The Peoples Photographer his blog

Rihanna - Russian Roulette

Rihanna is exposing her fans to more than her music with her new single, "Russian Roulette."

The singer is featured nearly topless on artwork for the song, covered only by what looks to be barbed wire.The photo fits the apparent theme for her new album, "Rated R," which is due out Nov. 23. It will be her first CD since 2007's "Good Girl Gone Bad," which went multiplatinum. It will also be her first solo single since she was attacked by ex-boyfriend Chris Brown

DJ Hero Launches


While working on "DJ Hero," DJ Z-Trip nearly broke the upcoming rhythm video game.
For one of his musical contributions to the "Guitar Hero" offshoot, the mash-up maestro crafted a strand during his mix of Public Enemy's "Bring the Noise" and Justice's "Genesis" that would have required wannabe disc jockeys to scratch on the game's turntable-shaped controller for several seconds. The developers at FreeStyleGames told him it wasn't gonna happen.

"They were like, 'Yeah, we love that tune, but that moment where you are extending that scratch for those eight bars, we can't actually do that because the game will not allow it,'" said DJ Z-Trip. "You can't hold a scratch for that long. They had a laundry list of stuff you could and could not do because of the game's logistics, and that was one of them."
DJ Z-Trip — whose real name is Zach Sciacca — relished the task of creating three original tracks that would be both interesting to listen to and challenging to mimic. He's one of several DJs providing their mixes and likenesses to "DJ Hero," the Activision-published music game set for release Oct. 27 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and Wii.

"I've never made a song with gameplay in mind," said DJ Z-Trip. "That was a brand new concept to me where you have to make a song, have it sonically be something, if you close your eyes, that connects at all the right parts. I had to really rethink about how to put in something that wasn't abstract and weird but would still work with the flow of the tune."
Unlike "Guitar Hero" or "Rock Band," which usually feature unaltered tunes, "DJ Hero" is comprised of over 90 tracks mixed by DJs specifically for the game, such as a DJ Jazzy Jeff mash-up of LL Cool J's "Rock the Bells" and The Verve's "Bitter Sweet Symphony," and a mix of Bel Biv DeVoe's "Poison" and the Beastie Boys' "Intergalactic" by the late DJ AM.
"I'm glad that he's in the game," said DJ Z-Trip of DJ AM, the celebrity spinner who was found dead in his Manhattan apartment of an accidental drug overdose on Aug. 28. "It's been really hard to process AM's passing because he was a friend. I'm glad that his legacy is able to live on, but it's tough. It's been a tough thing to process for me."

Playalong music games continue to be a popular genre among gamers. Both "The Beatles: Rock Band" and "Guitar Hero 5" were among the top 10 best-selling games in September, according to market researcher NPD Group. Besides "DJ Hero," other rhythm games set for release this later this year include "Lego Rock Band," "Band Hero" and "Guitar Hero: Van Halen."
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

GeoGrands #6

“Thanks for coming into the city with me,” Plasma said to Soleil. “I needed a break from the GeoDome.”
“I did, too.” Soleil replied. “Plus, Nina is ranting again about not being made team leader. A few hours apart is just what I needed.”
Plasma smiled. “I don’t believe I’ve ever heard you complain,” he said.
“Oh, I’m not complaining,” Soleil said, smiling back. “Just stating a fact. I understand why she feel s so strongly about it, and I can appreciate it. I just need a break from it,” she continued, laughing.
The pair were taking a shopping excursion in midtown on fashionable 5th avenue, shopping at such stores as Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor, and Fendi. Together they were quite the attractive couple; Plasma with his tanned skin, dirty blonde hair, lean muscles and a chin that could crack walnuts, and Soleil, whose long legs carried her thin body quickly and powerfully making her long, thick ebony hair, that constrasted with her ivory teeth under her angular cheekbones, sway gracefully from side to side. In every store they entered, the attendants treated them with dignity and respect, and the two GeoGrands graciously and politely interacted with them, asking them about their day and their loved ones and leaving genorous tips whenever they would leave one department to began shopping in another.
While Soleil was examining a bright, yellow velour suit in Juicy Couture, and young toddler-aged girl ran up to her and said loudly, “You’re pretty!! Are you a model?”
Soleil smiled sweetly and replied, “No, sweetie. But thank you for the compliment. You’re very beautiful yourself.”
“Can I have your autograph?” the girl asked, beaming as Soleil knelt down to talk to her and Plasma patted her soft curly hair.
“Miriam! How many times have I told you not to bother people you don’t know?” a woman scolded coming from around a display of sunglasses.
“I’m sorry,” Miriam said sheepishly as she head her head.
“It’s alright,” Plasma said. “She’s very adorable.” Miriam beamed.
“Is she your girlfriend?” Miriam asked.
“Yes, yes she is, Plasma replied quickly. Soleil smiled again but wondered why Plasma lied when he knew full well she was dating Glitter.
“I’m sorry again,” Miriam’s mother said looking down toward Miriam with a scowl on her face. “Thank you for being so kind. We really must be going.”
“Do we have to?” Miriam said. She grabbed Soleil’s hand tightly and would not let go.
“I’ll tell you what,” Soleil said as she removed her gold encrusted sun hairpin from her hair. “Here’s a present for you to remember me by.”
“Oh, wow! Thanks!” Miriam yelled again, the sparkle returning to her eyes.
“Thank you,” Miriam’s mother said, as she dragged Miriam away through the crowd of patron in the department store. Soleil watched them as long as she could before they disappeared from sight.
“You love children, don’t you?” Plasma asked, as Soleil stood in a trance.
She replied wistfully, “Yes. I would love to have a couple of kids one day.”
“Your time will come. I’m sure you’ll make a wonderful mother.”
“Maybe,” Soleil said as she sighed.
“What’s wrong?”
“I’m a lesbian so my options of bringing a child into the world are somewhat different.”
“I’m sure it’s easier than two men having a child together,” Plasma replied. “Lesbian couples in Emthira have children all the time.”
“Yeah, but they’re not dating Nina,” Soleil said softly.




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