Is the M word divisive?

Wow, Uncanny Avenger’s # 5 identity theory throwdown just keeps getting murkier. I was intrigued by the idea of some mutants desiring a ‘post-mutant’ world as some minorities view or work towards what they see as a ‘post minority world. Of course we all want to see a day when we’re not given third class citizenry status due to our skin, sexuality, gender identity, choice of belief. Some of course though see the very idea of a post anything world as a utopian fairytale at best, an ignorant, willful denial of your roots and identity assimilation at worst.

Since comics are still stories played out issue by issue, I’m hoping this story is the start of an ongoing debate by characters with a range of feelings within the comic. Other mutants would obviously be pissed at Havok’s words. Some would agree with some aspects of moving beyond a mutant-centric identity, but think he went too far in his full disdain of it. Havok is in a self-reflective funk though. That happens when you’re suddenly the mutant figurehead of a whitewashed group formed to put a happy face back on human/mutant relations. Seriously: 1. In a brave, new world of X-Men and Avengers on one core team, every current team member is white (Havok, Captain America, Thor, Wolverine, Rogue, Scarlet Witch.) When Red Skull, Marvel’s defacto Nazi villain, has a more diverse team, that’s kind of, really flat out bizarre. And it’s not an attempt at ‘varying people that come together to oppose the gay community metaphor.’  2. These feelings of self loathing, anger, and guilt can come from your older brother, Phoenix possessed and taking Magneto as his new role model, blasting your mutual former bald mentor to smithereens.

Rick Remender’s “hobo piss” response to the critcism though? Stupid. Also incentive to Marvel to get more diverse writers, how about, yesterday? I loved Remender’s dark humor tinged and bleak deconstruction of the warrior ideal in Uncanny X-Force, but his work on Uncanny Avengers has been shakier, and now this. If you’re going to set up wellstones for minority readers, as a white, straight, male writer, you better educate yourself. That goes for Marvel as a whole:X-Men used to be representatives of minorities in a New York city that didn’t want to talk about the reality of minorities. Now they are super powered mutants existing on an East Coast of the United States being constructed and led by minorities, with an African American President and multiple non-white politicians, gay marriage in City hall, and diverse families of every race, faith, sexuality, sexual identity, and political ideology being the path makers. Marjorie Liu writes Astonishing X-Men, Kelly Sue Deconnick writes Captain Marvel…and please world, tell me if I’m forgetting anyone else! Comics are not just read by white guys anymore, they need to be created more than just white guys too.

Seeing more of the panels though, with Havok “hating” the “divisive” word ‘mutant,’ I’m uneasily reminded of this:

Don’t become a de-power fanatical, “ex-mutant” Havok! Jubilee can coach you through many “gee, being a mutant is rough…but woah, cool exploding powers that are a symbol of vibrant individualism!” sessions.
For an acknowledged queer point of view on the issue, see this:

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A Small Hardcore Pulse in an Emerging Queer Heart

I went to a Balance and Composure show at DC9 last week and was waiting in the entrance line by the jukebox. An extremely cute guy who had that perfect slightly taller than myself height, came up searching on the jukebox for an early Red Hot Chili Peppers song. Finding and selecting what he wanted, he patted my shoulder as he excused himself to exit the increasing crowd, with a genuine smile. He didn’t know me, I didn’t know him, and his attractiveness aside, it was a weirdly open nice moment by another guy at a rock show. If I had seen him again, I would have at least said Hi. Led me to thinking about the Apathy song ‘When I Tried to Live’ from high school and this:

You saw a show in a garage? Familial laughter ensues.
2001- I went with my friends Dan and Dave, who were getting me into the suburban Maryland hardcore/nu metal scene, and in the process, unknowingly to all three of us at the time, rebuilding my senses. This was probably the second live show I had gone to with them, and where the first one was at the Woods Holy Ground church youth center/coffee house, this was in a cinder block. Dropped off by my dad, who took the tale of the music locale back to not only my mom and older brother, but my visiting grandparents, aunt, and two cousins, the giggling bounced off my still buzzing ears on returning later. This hardcore show was in a small cinder, cubed building, renovated into a show space with former notes of storage use of paint chips and plywood against the walls. The hallway leading in had the width of a finger bone, shaved down again with the press of bodies up against merch tables with literal homemade burned Memorex CD-R albums. Were there even any quick screened band shirts? Opening up from this corridor was the closed in performance space, worn carpet holding every rising pulse of teenage eagerness.

The headlining band, Age of Ruin, with a mournful, guttural tone of apocalyptic embrace (and skeleton fire jugglers!) for all of us not yet nineteen world-weary kids, dazzled, but it was the prior band that lodged in my mind by the end of the night. Apathy, compared to Age of Ruin, was still in a smaller stage-their CD’s were those CD-R burns with computer print out covers, while Age of Ruin had fully produced CD’s with glossy liner notes and a full color layer of inky black and liver red on the disc. Apathy though, burst out with this song, When I Tried to Live. There was the classic nu metal structure, that is now as numerous and wide-ranging as our zombie metaphors, of screams intertwined with sung vocals, but that night it was a spark set to brighten and explode in the darkness of the room. When the vocalist hit the lyrics, ‘you took the light away from me,’ the reaction was encoded like a new DNA strand, in everyone but me. The crowd, previously moshing, limbs flailing in widening circles, surged forth as one beast, multi-armed, swarming on top of, around, fingers grasping as close as the space and slip of sweat allowed, onto the vocalist wailing into the mic. I couldn’t make out Dan or Dave in that mass, but I could hear every voice building alongside the lead singer; they knew every word as the song built to a defiant, pleading end. I stood still, not trying to maintain my grounded spot, but awed, humbled, and fearful. They knew every single word. No hesitation to slam their bodies forward, expel their voices. No conscious notion of pause in their hearts, only thriving forward to bond with the band and each other as music fans.

Why didn’t I go as well? It would have made a breathless story of initiation into an intense world that I still felt apart from. I feared the bodies; getting bruised maybe, but also the effect of my skin on another guy’s skin. Two shows in, I recognized the masculine pulse that was a catharsis of emotions, a thrill seeking, and a unity in the small Pasadena hardcore scene, and I knew my strengthening glances at guys would be something at odds here. Was I the only one noticing the lean, pierced bodies as something I wanted to meld against, instead of jostle off of in a mosh pit? Probably not, but it would be several years before I recognized and claimed hardcore and metal bands that spoke to their queer fans as well as all the straight ones. Standing several feet from my friends linked with the others, I was still a more timid, too straight-laced kid. If an occasional glance at these shows reminded me of this, I could melt into a different area of the wall. I could not deal with the ideas, imaginary conjecture or not, that an eye would pin me as a homo. Exposing me, like the lyrics stripped from all of us, to the bone: to friends and family unknowing at the time, to myself still trying to assemble how this would reform my life in the coming days and months before graduation. ‘I stand alone, that’s when I tried to live.’

I went home that night to the jibes about that cinder building. Every teenage experience is a unique moment to those of us experiencing it, but a rueful acknowledgment of the stranger excesses of the next generation by our parents, a silly interest to mock for our divisive siblings. One song though can harness us to moments that fracture and break off in our brains, to later emerge as personal revelations. Unlike the rest of my family, I had a small awareness that something had occurred that night, and so their kidding evaporated when I remembered that swirl of bodies that echoed along with the chorus in my head over and over,and I wished faintly, with a glimmer of audacity,  that I had done something different. It was the crack of a spark in my brain and a shifting pulse in my heart. Other days came when I would join my friends in mosh pits and with one eye brazen, the other eye nonchalant, check out the guys slamming spine to spine, bicep to bicep, with me, before I toppled out. Other days might come when slamming next to a guy, we notice a similar spark in eyes fastened and calm, hear a pulse only sounding to us, and meld to each other.

Apathy ‘When I Tried to Live’:

I’m so tired of saying words/take my eyes I don’t want to see/I pound the walls to plot escape/but I can’t run to you for shade or strength/though I keep searching there’s no forgiveness in me/if I stay I’ll die trying and trying searching and finding my loss/you took the light away from me/you’ll never know you knocked me down in the sunlight fearing your eye/I stand alone that’s when I tried to live.

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It Was a Dark And Story Dark Knight…

Snoopy’s ‘great American novel’ was given homage in a Batman comic. No clue why, but it’s a very neat little nod.

All from:

COMIC LEGEND: Len Wein came up with an amusing tribute to Snoopy’s Great American Novel in a Batman short story he did with Walt Simonson.


“It was a dark and stormy night” first appeared at the beginning of novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 novel, Paul Clifford. It has become one of the most famous example of “purple prose” ever.

In July of 1965, Charlie Brown’s dog, Snoopy, first began working on his novel, and sure enough, the phrase opened his work.

As a quick example of just how brilliant of a comic storyteller Charles Schulz was, just check out the progression of strips from the next few days following that first strip…

Pretty impressive riffing off that one basic gag, no? Schulz continued on for another few days – each time building the joke up more and more. Great stuff.

1969 was a good year for Snoopy’s novel.

First it had the famous Sunday strip showing Snoopy working on the novel (this strip has been reprinted many times over the years, and even served as the cover of a book about writing!)…

Later, in August and September of 1969, Schulz devoted a few weeks’ worth of strips to Snoopy’s novel. I’ll show you the parts where we actually see what he is writing.

How awesome is that pirate ship line?

These strips were collected in a very popular early 1970s Peanuts collection called Peanuts Classics.

So these were very well known strips.

SO well know that Len Wein even came up with a brilliant (and hilarious) short story tribute to Snoopy’s novel in 1981′s Detective Comics #500. Outside of the famous opening story, “To Kill a Legend,” by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano, Detective Comics #500 had a series of short stories by different writers – Len Wein wrote one with Jim Aparo starring Slam Bradley, one of the original features in Detective Comics (in the pre-Batman days of Detective Comics #1-26). He also wrote a two-pager with art by the great Walt Simonson.

The story has no dialogue. It only has captions.

The captions? All lines from the aforementioned Snoopy novel!!

How awesome is that? Well done, Wein and Simonson!

Charles Schulz released a strangely meta-commentary picture book, with comic strip illustrations of Snoopy writing the book, the Peanuts kids giving him advice, and eventual ‘publication.’ Mid-way through, we get the novel itself, printed in thicker, glossier paper (with a cover by Linus Van Pelt, and a dedication to Woodstock), and after a return to the comic strip style, with Snoopy emotionally dealing with reviews. I have a copy of this 1971 book from my Dad, and actually attempted my first full story as an homage to it when I was eleven or twelve.

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Up, Up, and…Uh Oh-Thoughts on Orson Scott Card writing a Superman comic

Orson Scott Card is writing a new Superman digital comic. It seems like you either have fond memories of his Ender’s Game series, and maybe include him in the canon of the greatest science fiction writers, or you’re not too pleased with his more recent (decades long) screeds against all things gay, and cast the books aside. Including the novella reprint where Hamlet’s father was an evil gay demon possessed molester. No, really. The actual prose was also apparently atrociously bland. Card also wrote a strange Iron Man reboot, that honestly didn’t seem to get as much attention. However Tony Stark has taken his share of knocks and bounced back from the bottle, villains that originated as racist caricatures, rocket skates, and making Captain America a magnetic shield. Notice in that last reference that Captain America is simultaneously a partner, wonder boy, and uncle to Iron Man. Oh the ’60’s.

Out of indulging in super hero comic wackiness and back to the symbolism at hand-well exactly that. The reason Orson Scott Card writing Superman has people in a fury more than him writing Iron Man is the symbolism that Superman represents. He started as a fighter of corrupt officials, before Luthor and Braniac, and whether he’s been Christopher Reeves, critiqued our modern murky disbelief in a moral core, had his own stark confrontations with the reality of fear and prejudice in our world leak over into his, or is just being a Freudian metaphor like all superheroes, Kal El/Clark Kent has inevitably been reflection. A reflection of what we believe about him. We believe that an immigrant, alone and apart from his own people, can be adopted by Earth, and with a kind upbringing, use uncanny abilities to make the world a better place. In turn, Superman is mostly the one super hero who isn’t cynical, mistrusting, or despaired by us. I prefer to believe in a Superman that encourages the human race to rise as high as star faring aliens and be as decent as a kid raised by his parents to stick up for what is right and for all those being treated unjustly. It looks like others believe similar things- Boing Boing, a gay comic store owner putting in his two cents, and a few years back, Grant Morrison laid it out in several panels:

1. Image

2. Image

So do yourself a favor and pick up this Superman, or this other Superman. Even when he’s a communist, a real life person, or even an homage of himself, Superman’s still a symbol of trying to be someone better.

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Lincoln thoughts

“The white cracker who wrote the national anthem knew what he was doing. He set the word ‘free’ to a note so high nobody can reach it. That was deliberate. Nothing on earth sounds less like freedom to me.”– Belize, Angels in America: Perestroika, Tony Kushner

Saw Lincoln with Mike last night. It was really interesting, wonderfully executed in terms of acting (as much hype as DDL is receiving, it really was a great ensemble), filming (Mike had a good comment on the clutter and drabness of everything, this wasn’t silken waistcoats and pomp), and writing. Kushner being Kushner of course, but I was drawn in by the wealth of emotions in an obviously ideologically intense drama about war and the question of equality: the bawdy humor of vote coercing and the House sessions, the (ok, totally Spieldberg-esque) affection between Lincoln and Tad, the fierce emotion, and one great scene of marrying grief with verging on the tip of overacting camp between Lincoln and Mary Todd.
Since one of the great questions of the movie was the 13th amendment, you enter into the murkiness of the reality that it was white politicians ultimately deciding the fate of an entire race kept unjustly in slavery by white people of the same nation. There are black characters at strategic points within the screenplay (Lincoln’s freeman servant in the White House Mr. Slate, Mary Todd’s dressmaker Elizabeth Keckley, several soldiers at the start)  but we’re not given the historical facts that black and white people worked together to end slavery for decades in this country, until it was officially, only symbolically ended by the amendment’s passage. PBS covered this in a recent documentary. Capitulation to people’s racism in the North and South, and disbelief in true equality, would run for decades and decades more obviously.  Or put in shorthand- I know I  missed a few minutes in the first half hour for a bathroom run, but where was any presence or hint of, say even, Frederick Douglass in the movie? (Jeffrey Wright, who has spoken Kushner’s words before, would have rocked that role.) Of course the full reality of history can never be set down fully in one work: you have to read multiple books and view new documentaries, that take previously silenced or unacknowledged voices into account.

Lincoln in the movie is a weary leader, burdened by keeping the country aloft on tattered wings, but the complexity of his doubts on full equality are not touched on in the screenplay-like so many people in 1865 he was in the middle between believing the institution of slavery evil but uncertain of the equality of the fellow human beings that institution kept bound. Thaddeus Stevens, who for all known records lived fully and personally in equality as an abolitionist, is deemed a political danger by all sides for his values. The hedging of beliefs for politics and the immediate truth of equality have never been comfortable allies. Kushner being Kushner, having written on America’s greatest historical divide as a people in Angels in America and now Lincoln, made Belize’s speech at the top of this post reverberate in me as the credits rolled. Yet perhaps the best scene in Lincoln was a conversation between Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley on the White House steps, speaking of the reality of the commonality of human grief and the divides between people in America at the time.

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Adam Lambert Maryland for Equality Show at 930 Club


I should do this more often, and write openly how concerts affect me. I’ve had the fortune of experiencing many stunning shows with friends, or told them about it afterwards, or texted them during. After a friend I go to metal and hardcore shows with sent me a link that had broken that morning about Adam Lambert playing a benefit show for Marylander’s for Marriage Equality (MD4Equality), I debated whether to go or not, given the $125 starting price for tickets. Marriage equality activism in this country, or any country, is not perfect by any means. It usually targets a specific class of glb people, forgetting often transgender people, and still not confronting the basic idea that other queer activists do put forth: that the institution of marriage affords specific rights, tax breaks, and social/economic benefits over all, to only those select people who go into a marriage contract, rather than working for those rights for every one in a country, regardless if a committed relationship between two individual is government sanctioned or not.

I still decided to go though, even with my fully honest waffling of beliefs on marriage. There too are emotional ties to the idea of marriage in society, and seeing my parents, my brother and his wife raising my nephew, and one of my best friend’s from college marrying the love of his life a few weekends ago, it’s a relationship I hope to find with someone with emotionally some day, if that’s the way my fate is destined to go. And, despite not being a die hard Glambert (if I ever was) anymore at all-I cracked up at a friend of a friend first declaring that Lambert sounded like the snake from Disney’s Jungle Book singing Ring of Fire, and then that the snake from Jungle Book should eat Lambert; the original friend hates, hates, hates snakes-I still find the guy a blast for reasons that shift. I was slightly bummed out that the crowd only covered a scant front of the balcony, and a fourth of the floor right in front of the stage; truly there I wish the tickets had a cheaper starter than $125. How much more money could have been raised if tickets had started at $35-$50, and so many more people might have come? Though also, Tuesday night.

Those of us that were there though, had a blast. Lambert Live is always the best way to experience him-whether going by an earlier theory I had that the studio tamps him down, or by the fact that he’s more open and loose on stage. Tonight I really found myself thinking he really is a cabaret style singer writ into pop star large: a swooping, ranging voice formed more in musicals, an incessant good natured bawdy chatter on stage.

Bit highlights:

  • Lambert’s enthusiasm across the stage, vocally and physically. He’s looser and more dynamic.
  • The gloriously nonsensical moments: the keyboardist/musical director and Lambert’s discourse on the wetness of the mic handle, and then the audience: “Wet.” “Sweaty.” “Steamy.” “Glistening.” Then Lambert coming back from offstage and the band’s riffing, to a just as vocally tight performance, but a loopier demeanor. I apologize Adam if I’m dead wrong on this, but I would love whatever Amsterdam magic you had backstage. Even if was just Netherlands sparkling water. The band intros near the end, after the back up singers and female bassist, then the male members of the band- “having no idea of V-jay, but these cocks are fine!” Oh yes.
  • Officially jealous of Tommy Joe Ratliff’s purple hair. Props to Ratliff and Lambert for little nods and grins toward their first tour blatant fan service, which the female fans still go crazy nuts for. You’re stronger men than I.
  • Reminding us all on the purpose of what we had paid for that night, Lambert was matter of fact and open on his lack of political knowledge, but his support of human emotional commitment. (And apparently his brother, a poli sci major, will remind him.) The defining moment came not in piping for the cause of Vote for 6 and Marylander’s for Marriage Equality though, but in the performance of Outlaws of Love ‘Everywhere we go/We’re lookin’ for the sun/Nowhere to grow old/And always on the run/They say we’ll rot in hell/But I don’t think we will/They’ve branded us enough/Outlaws of Love.’ Instead of just seeing numerous live videos of other shows from other persons videos, but being there in person, there was a simplicity and strength in the vocals and lyric delivery that spoke of a weariness. We’re tired of arguing, compromising, fighting endlessly for equality of emotions and rights, and we’re ready to just embrace our loved ones and relax for a moment-but we can’t, can we?
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I write a quick letter to Robb Flynn of Machine Head, one of my favorite metal bands

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of going to see Machine Head, one of my favorite metal bands since high school, and my appreciation of them quadrupled after they kept us writhing and head banging for almost two hours straight. They’re unusually open and self deprecating on the nuts and bolts of being in a long term band, including that every song or album doesn’t always fulfill every single fan’s expectations. I also gave them a spot on my 2012 PRIDE play list, for a song that is essentially a metal head anthem/dedication to their fans, but I think it works great as a unity anthem in general: Who We Are

So tonight on The PRP blog, I noticed Machine Head lead singer Robb Flynn having some choice words about Metallica and Lou Reed’s art project record Lulu, and more: Machine Head’s Robb Flynn slams Lou Reed, Slams on Band’s Past Stinkers. Once again, I like Flynn’s honesty on the creative ebb and flow of the band, but then there were other things he said…

Mr. Robb Flynn-

Robb, Robb, Robb, love you guys, and we can all agree Lulu was something that should have never been broadcast beyond Lars Ulrich’s gold-plated 3rd tropical island, but dissing Velvet Underground and the early solo Lou Reed? Them’s fightin’ words Robb! You + me + the court yard and the largest, bulkiest head phones this side of 1969: Pale Blue Eyes

Also, The Cure-“super gothy”? Yes, in the best way ever. “Gay (laughs)”? No. Pick a new word for expressing your opinion that something sucks brah; The Cure likely got so many straight guys laid in the ’80’s as a band that made baring your emotions the coolest thing ever. You want something “super gothy and gay” (assuming both are derisive), may I suggest googling ‘Twinklight.’ Keep stretching the variations of metal with each new CD (that I would hate to have to use as future drink coasters.)  All the best from my icy, dark, queer heart- Chris

PS-(For the love of the 12 Lords of Kobol, no one really google that! The implication is obvious!)


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