Flashback Friday: Queer Eye (2018 to 2021)

One of the myths about gay men is that they are more stylish and culturally aware than the average straight man.

The Netflix show Queer Eye (2018 to 2021) is a reboot of the early aughts reality makeover show of the same name that aired on Bravo. As with its predecessor, five gay guys with expertise in various areas (fashion, food, grooming, culture, and design) helps (mostly) hapless heterosexual males to improve their physical appearance and their lives.

This show is so much fun to watch, mainly because the stars of the program are having fun. As an audience member, I am rooting for that episode’s subject, wishing that they get everything that they want from this experience. It also opens the door to see the LGBTQ community as something more than stereotypes and boogeymen for those with conservative beliefs.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The Holocaust ended 78 years ago. Though it may seem like ancient history, the truth is that it happened in the lifetimes of our parents and grandparents.

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day and specifically, the liberation of the survivors of the Auschwitz death camp.

When I think of what has been happening in the past few years, I see scary signs of what could happen again. I think it goes without saying that we don’t want to make the alarm bells ring all of the time. But, given recent events (Kanye, for one), I can’t help but make connections to the recent past.

One of the things that I wish was more well-known was the persecution of the LGBTQ community. Before the war, Berlin was known for its openness to those who were not heteronormative. The ended in 1933. Thousands were murdered and many more were persecuted.

The problem is that many continue to turn a blind eye to this hatred, even those of my faith. Ben Shapiro (whom I dislike with every bone in my body), has been open about his association with the right and their hatred of everyone who is not them. What he conveniently forgets is that at the day, he is still Jewish. The antisemites would still slap a yellow star on his chest and send him to his death.

It has been said that we die twice. The first time is when shuffle off this mortal coil. The second is when we are forgotten. Many of those who were killed have died twice.

May the memories of the millions who were murdered always be a blessing. Z”l.

Heretic: A Memoir Book Review

The path from childhood to adulthood is a rocky one. Along the way, we make decisions that can affect the rest of our lives. One of these choices is how to live our lives. If our adult selves are different than the rest of our family/community, do we have to courage to go our own way? Or do we put on a mask to feel included and loved?

Heretic: A Memoir, by Jeanna Kadlec, was published last fall. Raised in an Evangelical Christian family, Kadlec grew up in a world in which the rules were unbreakable. Everything revolved around their faith. Because she was a girl, Kadlec was expected to be quiet, and obedient, and act as a female was supposed to act.

But Jeanna Kadlec was not one to follow the rules. Her memoir is not just her story of finding herself. It is the revelation how of Evangelicalism has seeped into every aspect of American culture, regardless of whether it is wanted or needed. She also talks about how women are perceived and treated, and how those who are queer are seen.

This book is amazing. Kadlec’s journey is raw, emotional, troubling, and hopeful at the same time. The only way to solve a problem is to first identify it. In sharing her tale, she puts a name and a face on an issue that many refuse to see.

There is nothing wrong with religion, there are many benefits to believing in a higher being and coming together to pray to that deity. The difficulty comes when one group decides/believes that they have the right to tell the rest of us what to think.

I admire the author. She chose to be true to herself instead of staying in her marriage and pretending to be heterosexual. Though it was the road less traveled, it was the one that felt right to her. If only we could all have the courage to do the same.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Heretic: A Memoir is available wherever books are sold.

Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody Movie Review

In every generation, there are a handful of people who can truly be referred to as a G.O.A.T. One of these is the late singer Whitney Houston.

The new biopic, Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody, was released on December 23rd. Naomi Ackie steps into Houston’s very large shoes. Playing her equally famous mother Cissy is Tamara Tunie. Supporting her career is legendary record producer/mentor Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci). The film (directed by Kasi Lemmons) follows her life and career from her late teens (when she signed her first contract) to her iconic songs to her tragic death in 2012.

There are good and bad aspects to the film. Ackie disappears into her character. Like Austin Butler in Elvis, she becomes Houston. There is little differentiation between the actor and the person they are playing. The music, as expected, is fantastic. I found myself singing along to the film.

One thing that surprised me was her long-time relationship with Robyn Crawford (Nafessa Williams). Though it started out as friendship/romance, it became a professional partnership when it became clear that it would impede Houston’s professional orbit.

The bad is that the narrative slows down considerably during the second half of the movie. While it hit all of the expected story points, it was just a little too cliche for me.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody is available in theaters.

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George Santos Lied to Get Into Congress. Should He Be Allowed to Keep His Seat?

We all know that politicians tend to fib every now and then. It has unfortunately become an expected part of the job. But to lie about your entire biography is another story entirely.

In the last week or so, a number of media outlets revealed that Republican Congressmen elect George Santos lied about who he was as a person and a candidate. Let’s look at some of the untruths he claimed as fact.

  1. He said that he attended both NYU and Baruch College in New York City. Neither school has any record of him as a student.
  2. He was employed by two major Wall Street firms. Again, there are no records of him as an employee.
  3. His mother survived 9/11 and died a few years later. A little digging revealed that she died in 2016.
  4. His mother was the daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors from Ukraine. After extensive research, no documentation has been found to support these claims. This is both an insult to survivor and their families, and spits on the graves of the millions who were murdered. It also opens the door to Holocaust denial.
  5. Four members of his staff were murdered in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. Santos has yet to disclose details about these supposed employees or the company they all worked for.
  6. During the campaign, he often spoke about being gay and receiving a warm reception from the party. The reality is that he was married to a woman until September 2019. Given the right’s outright discrimination against LGBTQ Americans, this statement is doubly dishonest.

In another world in which Americans were not so politically divided, I would argue that the voters should decide if they want him to represent them. Traditionally, that area (which is divided between Eastern Queens and part of Long Island) is heavily Democratic. Though I personally have no skin in this game, I think he should he should resign. I would not want someone speaking for me whose entire identity has been revealed to be a complete falsehood.

What makes me angry is that by pretending to be a double minority and a survivor by extension of 9/11, he is devaluing the experiences of everyone who legitimately goes by those identifiers. In the private sector, if it is discovered that your resume is not truthful, you are either fired or taken out of the running for the job. I don’t get how this rule does not apply to the political sector.

At this point, we cannot predict how the party and his constituents will react. Whatever that decision is, it will speak volumes about this nation, her beliefs, and her values.

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P.S. Santos now states that he “embellished” his biography. An embellishment is stating that your G.PA. was 4.0 instead of 3.8. A two-point difference on one G.P.A. is not going to potentially change the world. But an elected official who fabricated his entire resume does have the potential to change the world.

Our Red Book: Intimate Histories of Periods Growing, & Changing Book Review

A woman’s time of the month is completely natural and normal. Without it, we are unable to have children and further our species. The problem is that it is seen as a mark of evil, unnatural or g d forbid, a sign of sexual activity.

Our Red Book: Intimate Histories of Periods, Growing & Changing was published last month. Edited by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff, the book contains a series of essays about a woman’s period. The writers come from all backgrounds and parts of the world and range in age from young to old. Each tells her story of growing up and the moment she knew that her life was about to change.

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I enjoyed this book. It spoke to the universality of this small, but momentous event. One of the highlights was the inclusion of transgender women. In including them, the editor is making the case that we are all female. Despite some surface differences, we are the same inside. We all have our monthly visit from Aunt Flo and deal with it as previous generations have for centuries.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Our Red Book: Intimate Histories of Periods, Growing & Changing is available wherever books are sold.

Brittney Griner is Free. Many Republicans Wish That She Was Not.

It has been said that the punishment should fit the crime. The question is, when is the punishment used as a tool of revenge?

After nearly a year, WNBA star and former Olympian Brittney Griner is free. Instead of spending the next nine years of her life in a Russian prison, she will be home with her family.

Of course, it would have been preferable that Paul Whelan would have also been on the plane. I have faith in the administration that they will put the same effort into bringing him home as well. While it is regrettable that Griner had to be exchanged for Viktor Bout, it feels like it was the best decision to be made.

Of course, the Republicans are crying foul. Is it because she is both African American and married to a woman? Or because they salivate for the day when America becomes an autocracy and you know who sits on the proverbial throne?

I would hope that it goes without saying that if Griner and other players in the WNBA had pay parity, that she would have had to go overseas in the first place. But of course, we are only women. What do we know?

Welcome home, Brittney.

Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew

These days, there is a lot of talk about identity politics. Though it is used by some to manipulate the voters, there is also another angle to it. If we have the balls to dig beyond the labels, we may discover that we have a lot in common.

Cookbook author Michael W. Twitty transverses multiple identities. An African American Jew who is also gay, he speaks to what this nation can become (if we are willing to do the work). His new memoir/cookbook, Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew, was published in August.

In the book, he dives into both Jewish cuisine and African American cuisine and how both have evolved over time. He also goes into the history of both peoples and how the image of both has become what it is today. In addition, Twitty talks about his own life and his choice to convert to Judaism.

The book is amazing. if nothing else, it speaks to the fact that we are all human. If we are willing sit-down and break bread with one another (so to speak), we might learn to actually like one another.

I also appreciated that Twitty goes beyond Ashkenazi food. He also references recipes from Sephardi Jews, Mizrahi Jews, etc.

Some of the dishes also sound pretty good.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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The Recent LGBTQ Supreme Court Ruling Was a Waste of Time and Taxpayer Dollars

The purpose of the Supreme Court is to parse our laws and determine the direction that they should take. Its purpose is not to cater to an individual’s beliefs.

On Monday, a bullshit case was brought to the nation’s highest court. Lorie Smith, a wedding website designer from Colorado sued for the right to only work with heterosexual couples. Her claim came via her faith.

Obviously, as a business owner, Ms. Smith has the right to decide which customers she works with. She also has the right to be open and free in her beliefs. By the same turn, an engaged couple has the right to determine which vendors they work with in regard to their big day.

There are two problems here:

  1. The situation that was presented to the court is purely hypothetical. She isn’t open for business yet.
  2. It harkens back to the days in which the following sign appeared on the doorway of a business: No (enter ethnicity or racial background here) allowed. In this case, the (digital) sign says LGBTQ. I want to believe that this idea is in the past, but I know better.

This was nothing more than a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. In an effort to legitimize her own prejudice, she took space away from a real case that could affect our future as a country.

This is shameful. We are better than this, I know we are. Unfortunately, there are people like Lorie Smith who keep us in the past instead of moving forward.

Should President Biden Run Again for President in 2024?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one election cycle ends, another begins.

Now that the 2022 midterms are in the rearview mirror, the focus is on the 2024 Presidential election. As of last month, President Biden has not said he will not run in 2024, nor has he said he will run.

The question is, is there enough support among both the voting public and the political Democrats class to support him?

Earlier this week, the question was posed on WNYC‘s The Brian Lehrer Show.

The argument for and against are as follows:

For:

  1. He took a political lemon and made lemonade: Given the mess he was handed in 2021 (and what has happened since then), I think he has done a good job of bringing us back to some version of normal.
  2. Compared to his predecessor, Biden has kept his promises and has genuinely led the country.
  3. He understands the job and who he is responsible for.
  4. He comes off (to me at least) as an everyman. Biden wants the US and her people to thrive. He is not interested in pursuing politics for personal gain.

Against:

  1. He is 80 years old. If he does win in 2024, will he have the cognitive ability to handle whatever comes his way?
  2. At the end of the day (as good as he is), Biden is just another old white man. Do we really want to pretend that in 2022, that the only people who can lead are Caucasian men of a certain age?
  3. We are a divided nation, that is a fact. One of the things I disagree with him about is that he thinks we can still negotiate with the right. Given the behavior of the Republicans in the past few years, I think we all have to be more realistic.
  4. Overall, we need new blood in politics. Preferably younger, female, possibly LGBTQ, and not Caucasian.

Only time will tell if Biden runs in two years. But the one thing that I do know is that I thank G d every day that he is President.

P.S. What is up with the Republican’s obsession with Hunter Biden? There are far more important issues to deal with than Hunter’s alleged (and private) past business dealings.

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