Wednesday, April 30, 2008

GLBT Film Fest's 'A Four Letter Word'

For the seventeenth consecutive year, the MFA presents a dynamic, international roster of films exploring gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience and culture.

This year's festival comprises 24 programs including the men's opening night screening of "A Four Letter Word."

In the edgy romantic comedy about gay life in NYC, Luke flits from guy to guy until he meets his match in the gorgeous Stephen. Their blazing romance has Luke contemplating monogamy, but Stephen is hiding a secret that may tear the two apart with the many complications of a four-letter word called love.

Discussion with the director and a reception follow the screening.

8 p.m. Wednesday, May 7. Museum of Fine Art, Remis Auditorium, 465 Huntington Ave. $12-$15. 617-369-3395 or www.mfa.org.

Free tickets to 'American Violet' screening 4.30.09

Here's a free pass to a special screening of "American Violet" with a Q&A from filmmaker and Harvard grad Bill Haney at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 29 at the Regal Fenway 13 located at 201 Brookline Ave. Simply print out the flyer above and present at the door for your first-come-first-serve tickets.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Madonna on Madonna :: Confessions From a Dance Floor Goddess

On Tuesday, April 29, turn off your car alarms, lock up your dogs and hide your precious glassware.

Every few years, Madonna releases a new album. And on that day, the high-pitched shrieks heard round the world will emanate from every gay man, Gen-X girl and occasional, interloping straight man ("I’m just buying it for my girlfriend!") who line up like cattle on the dance floor to see what the Divine Miss M is delivering next.

In 2008, prepare to crunch on "Hard Candy." The album is Madonna’s swan song for Warner Bros. Records, the label she’s leaving for an industry-shattering, $120 million and 10-year deal with Live Nation Inc (virtually guaranteeing her fans another decade of delight). It’s also her final release before her big 50 birthday this summer, a milestone that will not only kick off a summer/fall concert tour but is sure to incite the prerequisite VH1 retrospectives on the unparalleled longevity, reinventions and pop cultural impact of her career.

When she arrived with her first single in 1982, few would have predicted that disco dolly would still be churning hits almost three decades later: Hard Candy’s" first single, "4 Minutes" featuring Justin Timberlake, has already ascended to the No. 3 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

Getting an interview with one of the world’s most famous women is a daunting task. But Madonna, forever the queen of personal evolution, has always revealed herself in the most obvious place: her music. For insight into her development, her growth and her mind at any given moment of her booty shaking life, one needs to look no further than the lyrics she’s penned.

Join EDGE writer Scott Kearnan as he traces the journey of Madonna, in her own words, one evolutionary album at a time. Click here for the full story.

Boob Tube :: The Omarosa Effect

Thanks to the pioneering work of Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth on the first season of "The Apprentice," producers of the so-called unscripted TV genre have a template to work with when casting and crafting a successful reality show.

Reality rule No. 1: You need an Omarosa. You know, the show’s villain, the anti-hero, the hellraiser, the bully.

MTV and VH1’s latest crop of reality shows embrace what I call the "Omarosa Effect," with a slew of series villains that raise Omarosa’s over-the-top antics one step higher. Here’s my list:

*Amanda Lorber, the cheeky editatrix from MTV’s "The Paper," comes across more like an Andrea Zuckerman archetype from "Beverly Hills 90210" and less like a real high school editor. However, it’s her off-the-cuff remarks to "The Circuit's" staffers like when she commented on news editor Giana Pacinelli’s first-day-of-school wardrobe that earns her Omarosa-in-training status.

*ANT, host of "Celebrity Fit Club," has his claws out in the new VH1 series "Celebracadabra." After approaching singer/talk-show host Carnie Wilson to join his "magical alliance," a strategy she rebuked, he successfully staged an Omarosa-esque coup d'état which resulted in the Wilson-Phillips singer to get the boot. Based on the season sneak peek, ANT is out for blood.

*Dustin Diamond, known for his compelling work as Screech on "Saved by the Bell," maintained his Omarosa status in a return visit to the boot camp version of "Celebrity Fit Club." However, it was little Miss Joanie Cunningham also known as Erin Moran, the former spunky sis from "Happy Days," who became the show’s ultimate Omarosa by sabotaging the red team with her lackadaisical "I’m in it for the money" approach. By not giving a damn, she cost her teammates thousands in prizes.

*If Gigi Hunter, the human lie detector on Danny Bonaduce’s "I Know My Kid’s a Star," spent more time coaching her daughter Alai Divinity and less time raising hell and calling her fellow cast mothers liars, she would have a shot at winning the "Kid Star" title. In fact, the daughter Alai acts more like an adult than her Omarosa-esque mother.

*Vinci Alonso, the 26-year-old bad boy model from MTV’s "8th & Ocean," is starring in the new reality show "VH1’s Viva Hollywood!" and promises to knock off his cast members one by one. After being thrown into the "La Massacre de la Mascara" and ultimately winning the duel last Sunday, Alonso’s lion within is plotting to devour his teammates.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Povo.com Hotspot :: Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Looking for that perfect Mother's Day gift? Povo.com is organizing a must-read online guide chock full of ideas:

* Is your mom an EVOO fanatic like the Food Network’s Rachael Ray? The limited edition Chateau d’Estoublon Le Flacon Olive Oil may be the perfect Mother’s Day gift for the die-hard foodie mom.

* Why not honor your mother by making her a permanent part of Boston history? Organizers at the Rose Kennedy Greenway Mothers' Walk are offering 6" x 6" pavers as a way to honor your mom. The $500 gift allows you to immortalize your mother's name, a certificate that cites her as the honoree as well as an invite to the Greenway inaugural event in the fall of 2008.

* What busy mom couldn't use more time? It is the perfect gift--extra hands to help out with the day-to-day grind. Time is priceless, precious and every mom deserves it. Click here for a creative concierge.

Also, I recently crafted a Mother's Day Pop Quiz for Povo.com.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Random Shot :: Lansdowne's Avalon

Avalon, which closed Oct. 1, 2007 and was sold to the House of Blues by the Lyons Group, is slotted to be transformed into a live-music complex that will accommodate 2,500 including a 350-seat lounge and a 125-seat restaurant. Click here for more photos from the "Loaded Gun Random Shots" series.

Photo by Sam Baltrusis

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Taylor Greeson's 'Meadowlark' sings

What happens when an admitted non-confrontational filmmaker confronts the many monsters from his past--including the man who murdered his brother as well as the adult predator who took his 12-year-old virginity?

The result is "Meadowlark," an explosive film-school project turned tour-de-force documentary by Taylor Greeson.

The beautifully shot full-length feature is making its world premiere at the Independent Film Festival Boston (IFF Boston) 10 p.m. Thursday, April 24 and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 26.

Click here for my profile on the young filmmaker. Also, Film Stew mentions "Meadowlark" and my interview with Greeson here.

UPDATE: The filmmaker e-mailed me a thoughtful note after the screening.

"I just wanted to quickly email you to say thank you for the article you wrote about Meadowlark for the EDGE," he writes. "I thought it was a wonderful piece and it brightened my day to read it. The screenings went very well and the Q&A sessions were full of interesting questions. I had a really wonderful time in Boston."

Thanks Taylor!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

‘Celebracadabra!’ is an ace in the hole for VH1

Celebrities pulling rabbits out of their hats? Score. VH1 dabbles in a little hocus pocus with their new celebreality show "Celebracadabra!" premiering 9 p.m. Sunday, April 27.

For the handful of folks who got a sneak peek of the program last Sunday at midnight (VH1 aired the premiere episode to test the waters), you know that openly gay comedian and "Celebrity Fit Club" host, ANT, steals the show—for better or worse. Whether he’s vying to be "Celebracadabra’s" Omarosa or he seriously has pent-up animosity toward singer/talk-show host Carnie Wilson, his claws were out throughout most of the episode.

Of course, former "Queer as Folk" cutie Hal Sparks (pictured above) takes a less combative approach and ultimately wins over the judges as well as the crowds on the street with his goofball approach to magic.

Hosted by actor and magician Jonathan Levit, "Celebracadabra!" transforms a crop of celebs into masters of magic. ANT, Sparks and Wilson as well as C. Thomas Howell, actress and comedian Lisa Ann Walter, Chris 'Kid' Reid and the Pussycat Doll's Kimberly Wyatt learn some eye-catching and jaw-dropping tricks from a crew of the most respected and noteworthy magicians in the world.

The judges include master magicians Max Maven, Jeff McBride and host Jonathan Levit who will determine which celebrities advance to the next round and get a shot at facing off in a battle of ultimate illusions in Vegas for a grand prize of $100,000 from Ellusionist.com.

The tagline: "Seven wannabe magicians enter the castle but only one can be, ‘The Best Celebrity Magician.’’

Based on last Sunday’s sneak peek, "Celebracadabra!" is another ace in the hole to add to VH1’s growing arsenal of must-see celebreality programs. Click here for the lowdown.

UPDATE: In an unexpected twist, '80s film actor C. Thomas Howell beat out Hal Sparks take home the show's top prize, bragging rights and $100,000.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Boston Marathon photos for Povo.com

Povo.com posed the question: How Boston are you?

Hundreds of Boston Marathon enthusiasts along the race route on Monday, April 21 responded by customizing free signs provided by Povo with their creative words of encouragement--notes ranging from “You Rock!” to “Can I have your number?”--cheering on their favorite runners.

I started off at Cleveland Circle at 9 a.m. and walked to the Boston Marathon finish line handing out Povo.com signs along the way. I ended up distributing around 500 free signs to the masses.

Click here for my photo gallery on Povo.com.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sandra Bullock hit by drunk driver

In town filming the romantic comedy "The Proposal," actress Sandra Bullock and her husband Jesse James of TV’s "Monster Garage" were hit by a drunk driver Friday night in Gloucester.

While both cars in the accident were totaled, no one involved in the wreck are hurt.

Back in August 2007, adult film star Ron Jeremy and XXXchurch founder Craig Gross--in Boston discussing the pros and cons of pornography in the "Great Porn Debate"—had a similar experience last year after a drunk driver almost careened into their tour bus on the Mass Turnpike.

Click here for more info on Bullock's wreck and here on Jeremy's crash.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

No Canadian Beer Served!

In case you haven't heard, the Bruins battled against the Canadiens today forcing a game seven in Montreal. I was walking around the North End this afternoon and snapped the above photo outside of The Greatest Bar on Friend Street. There was a definite anti-Canada sentiment on the streets. Go figure.

Is MTV’s ‘The Paper’ fact or fiction?

After laughing through the premiere episode of MTV’s "The Paper" this week, a few red flags were raised while watching what seems like one of the network’s not-so-real reality shows like "Laguna Beach" and "The Hills."

Back in 2007, MTV held an open casting call looking for video submissions from students willing to give the inside scoop from their newspaper office, including their responsibilities at the paper, what interests them about the news as well as important stuff like who they’re dating.

As a former editor-in-chief from Florida, I hate to admit that I identified with Amanda Lorber’s supposed real-life caricature of a high school overachiever. When she says, "Journalists are the most important part of the world. They really are," I cracked up because, well, that could’ve been a quote pulled from my journal back in the day.

However, is this show for real? While you can find the editor’s cheeky column online here, Lorber comes across in "The Paper" more like an Andrea Zuckerman archetype from "Beverly Hills 90210" and less like a real high school editor.

After checking out the Cypress Bay High School Web site in Weston, Fla. they list The Circuit on their homepage. In fact, you can read articles from the paper’s archives here where they confirm all of the staffers featured in the MTV reality show, including Lorber.

My question: Where are the archives of The Circuit prior to Sept. 2007? According to the premiere episode, Lorber was the copy editor during the '06-'07 school year before MTV started filming but the paper's online archive doesn't reflect this backstory. (Note: After posting this blog, the old site is accessible here.)

According to an article in Broadcasting & Cable, The Circuit "won several local journalism accolades including awards from the Florida Scholastic Press Association and the Sun-Sentinel’s 'best overall' award in 2004 and 2005."

While the history of the paper checks out, it still seems a little fishy to me. The whole thing gets creepier after reading comments from the staff here where they state over and over that "The Paper" is no "Laguna Beach" and that it's 100 percent real. Um, OK.

Cypress Bay is a real high school. In fact, it’s one of the largest schools in the country. But I wouldn’t be surprised if MTV did some creative casting by shipping in a few students from across the country to manufacture some made-for-TV drama for "The Paper."

Meanwhile, get the inside scoop on the show here. "The Paper" airs 10:30 p.m. Mondays on MTV.

UPDATE: Compared to last week’s premiere, tonight's episode came across a bit more "real" except for Lorber’s disillusioned soliloquies and "Eye of the Tiger" sing-along. The editor talks about how she had a crush on Alex, the managing editor, back in Hebrew school which gives some backstory.

However, "The Paper" still comes across eerily contrived and, well, scripted.

UPDATE 2: Amanda Lorber from "The Paper" is off to NYU, but she’s not looking to capitalize on her MTV fame. Lorber tells NYU's Washington Square News, “I want to have a fresh start, and I want to be kind of a normal student, not that girl who was on an MTV reality show.” (Washington Square News)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dirt on RateMyCop.com

Have you checked out the new Web site, RateMyCop.com? The California-based start-up allows users to comment on uniformed police officers based on their fairness, professionalism and satisfaction.

"Officer Baston is a great officer," comments debarros on RateMyCop.com. "She does not put herself above someone just because she is on the police force."

While the handful of posts focusing on Boston cops are complimentary, there’s at least one rant slamming the BPD.

"Steven P. Ashman is a young, rude, arrogant bully," writes drkboston. "He has only been on the Boston Police force since the Fall of 2006 and is assigned to the Area D-4 police station. He used his position as a Police officer to fabricate the most outlandish story about a citizen and in doing so committed perjury."

Visit RateMyCop.com here. Also, the Jamaica Plain Gazette reported on the site here.

Boston Marathon madness

I spent the past two days walking around Copley Square taking in the sights and sounds of folks preparing for Monday’s Boston Marathon.

From my perspective, there’s nothing more authentically Boston than the annual trek from Hopkinton to the Copley Square area. Some of the world’s top runners converge in the Bay State on Monday, April 21 bringing with them the thrill of competition and the agony of de feet (I know, bad pun).

Wanna check out the Boston Marathon? The closest MBTA stations to the finish line are Hynes Convention Center and Kenmore Station. Unfortunately, Copley Square is closed on race day. Also, even if you have the desire to run the marathon as an "unofficial bandit" runner, don’t do it. Organizers strongly dissuade participation without registering.

Early Monday morning, I’m handing out promotional material for Povo.com near the Cleveland Circle area on Beacon Street. Meanwhile, check out Povo’s handy-dandy insiders’ guide here.

Also, the BPD has issued a smackdown on drunken revelry along the race route here.

UPDATE: Click here for photo gallery from my Boston Marathon adventure.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fallen film critic returns with ‘Big Screen Boston’

After a scandalous debacle in 2006 when Boston-based film critic Paul Sherman pled guilty to copying and selling DVD promo screeners of soon-to-be-released films, the writer has re-emerged from the ashes to release a new book, "Big Screen Boston: From Mystery Street to The Departed and Beyond."

Sherman, who was axed from the Improper Bostonian as well as the Boston Herald, is slotted to do a book signing at the Museum of Fine Arts’ Remis Auditorium at Noon, Saturday, May 3.

At the MFA shindig, Sherman will introduce the infamous documentary "Titicut Follies." The flick, released in 1967 and once banned in Massachusetts, is the classic first film by Frederick Wiseman who offers a stark and graphic portrayal of the conditions that existed at Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane.

According to the MFA press release, Sherman’s novel "digs deep into Boston ’s varied history as a cinematic backdrop just as Massachusetts filmmaking activity is reaching an unprecedented level. Sherman’s book covers over 80 Boston movies in depth —from the biggest Hollywood productions (‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle,’ ‘Good Will Hunting’) to the most inspired local features (‘Girltalk,’ ‘Lift’)."

The ultimate irony? The MFA press team offers DVD screeners (the same thing that initially got Sherman in trouble) of the film "Titicut Follies" to interested members of the media. Go figure.

UPDATE: The Boston Phoenix did a great write-up on "Big Screen Boston" here.

BostonNOW says bye-bye

According to the Associated Press, the daily rag known as BostonNOW announced its immediate shutdown today after a year of competition with papers like the Boston Metro and long-time stalwarts like the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald.

BostonNOW had 52 full-time and 100 part-time staffers now out of work.

Like many Boston-based writers, I contributed to BostonNOW for awhile. However, after not receiving checks for my freelance work and the editor accusing me of holding an article "hostage," I wrote a scathing "no pay, no way" letter to the special sections editor predicting the downfall of the free, five-day-a-week newspaper:

I am livid about how you handled this situation. Not even a phone call. It shows your inexperience. After weeks of positive feedback, you terminate our agreement claiming I was holding the article for hostage.

Can you say "DRAMA!" Plain and simple, I asked for my check.

There was nothing malicious or unprofessional about my request.

The local press, and the public I've interacted with, considers BostonNOW to be a boil on what was once a city with superior journalistic standards. Based on the topics you've assigned me in the past coupled with the drivel the paper's "staff" puts out, I'll give you guys less than a year before the paper folds.


Shame on you!

--E-mail sent Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2007

Bloggers on the EDGE

Loaded Gun is featured here in an article by EDGE writer Scott Kearnan:

Once upon a time, blogging had a bad name.

In the early days of the Internet, blogs (you know, online, regularly updated repositories of first-person musings) were not considered venerable written work. No, back in the gay old ’90s--when I used to walk 20 minutes uphill in the snow, just to get to an FTP server--blogs were not widely written, widely read or widely esteemed.

Online blogs were perceived as the domain of angst-ridden teens and self-absorbed computer nerds. You know, the kind of people who posted pictures of their half-eaten bagels and a riveting play-by-play of their latest exercise in watching paint dry; somewhere along the way, a personal epiphany worked its way into the confessional equation.

But thanks to the incisive politicking of people like Arianna Huffington, the incessant star stalking of pod people like Perez Hilton, and the--ahem, interesting--haikus of "celebrity authors" like Rosie O’Donnell, blogging is big business.

Once cottage cheese, it’s now a cottage industry; legitimate news sources implement them, millions upon millions of people read them (Blogger.com, an automated publishing tool, regularly ranks in the top dozen US-based Web sites) and the lucky few are able to make substantial livings off writing them.

For EDGE staffers, keeping a steady writing gig at your favorite online source of gay news and entertainment isn’t a Plan B, it’s a favorite exercise in flexing the journalistic muscle many have been training for years. But there are some stories, some anecdotes and some editorialized rants that, for one reason or another, just don’t fit for inclusion in mainstream media.

But you know writers; we never know when to shut up.

Rather than stifle the voice within, some of your favorite EDGE editors and reporters--the very writers whose work you enjoy every day (and you are enjoying it every day, aren’t you?!) maintain their own blogs. Some are simple side projects, some are outlets for a burning editorial passion; some are personal, some are political; but all provide a behind-the-scenes perspective on the writers and editors that make EDGE a reality.

Interested in what EDGE journalists have to say off the record? Here’s a guide to their unique sites and styles:

Click here for the complete article.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Onslaught of recycled reality stars

There must be slim pickings in the topsy-turvy world of unscripted programming. With the continued onslaught of reality TV shows hitting the small screen, I’ve had a lot of déjà vu lately. Here’s my list of recycled reality stars:

*Vinci Alonso, the 26-year-old bad boy model from MTV’s "8th & Ocean," is starring in the new reality show "VH1’s Viva Hollywood."

*Megan Hauserman, a former contestant on the Season 3 of "Beauty and the Geek," recently vied for the affections of Poison's Bret Michaels on VH1’s "Rock of Love 2."

*Before Boston’s Status Quo made it into the finals of MTV’s "Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew," dancers E-Knock and Jamal auditioned for Fox’s "So You Think You Can Dance."

*Bethany Frankel, currently making waves on Bravo’s "The Real Housewives of New York City," was a finalist on the ill-fated Martha Stewart edition of "The Apprentice."

*Theo Van, former contestant on MTV’s "Road Rules" and comic on NBC’s "Last Comic Standing," is now on the prom committee of ABC Family’s "America’s Prom Queen."

*Blake McGrath, a finalist on the first season of NBC’s "So You Think You Can Dance," was also a featured dancer on Jennifer Lopez’s reality show "DanceLife."

*Alison Irwin, the bad girl from "Big Brother 4" and "Big Brother All Stars," also competed on "The Amazing Race 5."

*Adrianne Curry, the winner of "America's Next Top Model: Cycle 1," appeared on "The Surreal Life," "My Fair Brady" and "My Fair Brady ... Maybe Brady."

*Toccara Jones, the fab plus-size model from "America's Next Top Model: Cycle 3," is now kicking butt on the "Celebrity Fit Club: Boot Camp" and has appeared on VH1 "Celebrity Paranormal Project."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Random Shot :: Davis Square Weather Vane

Weather vane near the Davis Square T station on the Red Line. Click here for more photos from the "Loaded Gun Random Shots" series.

Photo by Sam Baltrusis

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

National Geographic goes ‘Inside Straight Edge’

Two years ago, I did an in-depth cover story for a weekly in Florida called "Living on the Edge," a feature that explored the two sides of the “straight edge” culture.

Straight edge? You know, the don't drink, don't smoke subculture of usually younger middle-to-upper class white males connected with the philosophy of abstaining from what they call poisons—everything from the consumption of illegal chemicals such as ecstasy, speed and pot to legal substances such as alcohol, cigarettes and sometimes caffeine.

Sounds like a parent's dream? Not so fast.

The National Geographic Channel explores straight-edge crews in an explosive documentary called "Inside Straight Edge" airing 10 p.m. Wednesday, April. 9.

The program also airs 1 a.m. Thursday, April 10 and 4 p.m. Sunday, April 13 on NGC.

The special, narrated by Sonic Youth legend Thurston Moore, touches on the handful of reported cases of straight-edge violence in Salt Lake City, Reno and even in Boston (a crew known as FSU, "Friends Stand United," allegedly assaulted drug dealers and users on Lansdowne Street).

For the record, a large majority of those who claim "edge" are good kids with a strong passion for hardcore music. However, like any group, there are a few bad apples in the bunch.

Back in 2006, I interviewed Ian MacKaye, founder of Dischord Records in Washington D.C. and former frontman of the punk band Minor Threat, about the term he coined. He wrote the song "Straight Edge," however, he doesn't claim responsibility for the entire movement.

When asked if he had issues with the contemporary evolution of the lifestyle, MacKaye shoots back.

"You have the five percent who are fundamentalists," he says. "And, within that five percent, you have even a smaller group that has a fascination with violence."

MacKaye continues: "Their issue is not sobriety. It's with violence. People with violence in the belly are in search of a trigger and way to get the violence out."

The outspoken musician is referring to the handful of militants who claim edge—called "hate edge"—where the straight-edge crews attack people for smoking or sometimes liken themselves as soldiers of sobriety.

Near the end of the documentary that airs tonight, a Boston-area eighth grader talks about the violent side of the movement.

“We’re not going to go out and kill people, but I’m not going to tolerate drugs around me and the ones that I love,” he adds.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Steven Wright headlines Ding Ho reunion benefit

For those who long for the good ol’ days when Inman Square’s Ding Ho was the center of Boston’s comedy universe, you’re in luck.

A handful of old-time Ding Ho regulars are gathering for a one-night-only benefit to help out comedian Bob Lazarus called "One Of Our Own" kicking off at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 4 at the Regent Theatre in Arlington.

Local stand-up legends like Steven Wright, Lenny Clarke, Barry Crimmins, Steve Sweeney and Jimmy Tingle will gather for this must-see evening of comedy.

Political satirist Crimmins, who founded the infamous Ding Ho Comedy Club in 1979, is coming out of retirement and stepping up to the mic to help out his friend.

"I have made no appearances since last year. None. I always said that if there was a really good reason I'd show up to help. My dear friend Bob Lazurus's illness is just such a good reason," Crimmins remarks.

Lazarus has toured all over the country with Wright and has been seen on Comedy Central and in film with cameos in flicks like "27 Dresses," "Mystic River," etc. Lazarus was diagnosed with leukemia last summer and has been in remission since his hospital stay in August.

With 10 months of outpatient treatments scheduled, proceeds from the show will be donated to help offset Lazarus’ medical costs.

7 p.m. Sunday, May 4. Regent Theatre, 7 Medford St. Arlington, MA. $45-$50. 781-646-4849 or www.regenttheatre.com.

Click here for my previous interviews with Jimmy Tingle and Barry Crimmins.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The controversy surrounding ‘gay face’

Radar magazine editor Dale Hrabi gives some historical context behind the blogosphere’s new favorite term, "gay face," an expression that has emerged on the Internet and supposedly gives outsiders a way to differentiate between gay men and metrosexual wannabes.

I laughed out loud after looking at a collage of photos in the April issue of Radar with mugs ranging from Paul Lynde circa 1963 to Marcel Marceau in 1947 to modern day "gay facers" like Lance Bass and Zac Efron.

According to the article, the expression is characterized by arched eyebrows, pursed lips and exaggerated pop eyes.

Hrabi’s take was light-hearted and, well, funny as hell. I spent a few minutes looking at my reflection in the mirror trying to strike my best Zoolander "gay face."

However, the Urban Dictionary’s take on "gay face" hit me the wrong way.

"The use of certain expressions can become ingrained in the musculature of the face over time," the contributor writes. "Since effeminate gay men utilize similar facial expressions as women, they develop female aging and muscle contraction patterns in their face."

And this part from Urban Dictionary especially pissed me off:

"Gay face includes an eye expression that is both surprised looking and predatory," the definition continues.

Huh … predatory? While I’m notoriously not PC, this statement sounds a lot like something anti-gay crusader Anita Bryant would’ve said in the ‘70s.

Or, better yet, something Jay Leno would ask actor Ryan Phillippe to imitate for the "Tonight Show" camera.

On the surface, "gay face" is harmless fun. However, the term borders a dehumanizing caricature in my book.

Q&A on Loaded Gun blog

Here's a Q&A excerpt from an upcoming feature on journalists who blog tentatively called "Bloggers on the EDGE." It gives some insight into my views on blogging versus print journalism:

What’s Loaded Gun about?
The official tagline is "Pop. Culture. Controversy. Boston." However, it’s specifically a Boston-based pop culture blog focusing on the controversial voices who fuel the local news, media, arts, film, politics, music, GLBT and comedy scenes. I recently moved back to Boston a little less than two years ago and I’ve migrated the blog, along with its editorial direction, to focus specifically on the Boston market.

When did you start blogging?
The blog started in 2006 as an online offshoot of a snarky, pop culture column I penned while I was an A&E editor at the Independent News, an alt-weekly based in Northwest Florida. Before Loaded Gun, I worked for MTV and VH1 in NYC and I had a lot of pent-up venom against the pop culture mainstream that needed some sort of release. My blog has become the perfect outlet to inform the public and test material that I’m working on for other publications.

Where did the name Loaded Gun come from?
Most people think it’s a rip on The Smoking Gun. It’s not. The title is pulled from an Emily Dickinson poem, "My life had stood – a Loaded Gun" which tapped into the MTV-manufactured rage I felt back in 2006.

How does blogging differ from your work with EDGE and other mainstream publications?
I use Loaded Gun to test the waters, especially if it’s a potentially controversial topic that I plan to use in print. I definitely take more chances with my blog and have a lot more interactivity with the readers compared to my print work. If a story is a complete misfire, trust me, folks who read Loaded Gun will let me know.

What are the similarities?
Journalistically, my print and online work are similar. I definitely spend more time researching and crafting my print articles with a stylistic flair. However, I can be a bit more subjective with Loaded Gun and a helluva lot more direct.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

VH1 Rock Doc: ‘The Night James Brown Saved Boston’

As a former NYC-based researcher and associate producer at VH1, I was a bit apprehensive when I first heard about the new Rock Doc called "The Night James Brown Saved Boston."

I waited to watch the tighter, VH1 version of the documentary in its entirety tonight before commenting and, after sitting in awe for an hour, I’m pleased to say the work is a stunning achievement of narrative storytelling.

The documentary focuses on the night of April 5, 1968. Race riots were erupting throughout the country and Boston, a deeply segregating urban enclave at the time where African-American Bostonians primarily lived in Roxbury and the South End, was on edge the day after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

Brown's concert on April 5 was on the verge of cancellation because the new mayor of Boston, Kevin H. White, thought it would exacerbate an already inflammatory situation. Also, politicos were afraid that the Boston Garden concert would erupt into a violent, emotional outburst.

Instead of canceling the concert, White decided to televise the show on WGBH, Channel 2. Whether the decision to air the Brown performance actually saved Boston from burning is debatable, however, David Leaf’s account of the event is storytelling at its best.

Not only does Leaf effectively use first-person accounts of that fateful night including recollections from former mayor White and city councilman Tom Atkins but he intersperses commentary from critical thinkers like Al Sharpton, music journalist Tom Vickers, Princeton University’s Dr. Cornel West and Northeastern’s Dr. Robert Hall.

Brown, who passed away in 2006 due to complications from pneumonia, is featured in the documentary via audio interviews, rare news footage and highlights from the actual 1968 WGBH telecast.

James "Early" Byrd, the first black DJ in the Boston market, added some interesting insider information. "If that concert didn’t happen," Byrd says, "we would have had the biggest problem since the Boston Tea Party."

As someone who once specialized in acquiring archival footage for VH1, I was blown away by the news clips filmmaker Leaf was able to find for "The Night James Brown Saved Boston." One clip, pulled from the Channel 2 performance, shows how Brown quelled a potentially combustible situation when a group of kids stormed the stage.

Leaf, who is known for "The U.S. vs. John Lennon," will release the full 74-minute documentary of "The Night James Brown Saved Boston" in August. After watching the 45-minute version on VH1 tonight, I will be the first in line to buy the DVD.

Povo.com Hotspot: Vee Vee

This swank new restaurant recently opened in Jamaica Plain. Vee Vee is a New American Bistro on Centre Street, serving mid-priced, modern American food, with a focus on fresh seafood, vegetables and grains.

The menu, which changes seasonally, features local products whenever possible and caters to the herbivore within (Vee Vee boasts a no-meat menu). Also, the JP hotspot's stunning decor is minimalistic with a contemporary flair.

Click here for the Povo.com lowdown.

Also, both the Boston Phoenix and the Weekly Dig gave the new Jamaica Plain restaurant favorable reviews.

UPDATE: The start-up chef at Vee Vee is out. Co-owner Dan Valachovic says the restaurant will transition to their spring menu over the next few weeks. The change will be helmed by a new, yet to be named, chef as well as Andy Husbands of Tremont 647.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Random Shot :: Provincetown Horizon


After an extremely enjoyable experience at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival last September, I snapped this photo.

Speaking of P'town, Bay Windows columnist Jeff Epperly has an interesting take on the PPD police brutality case involving DJ Barry Scott.

Epperly declares, "No surprise, then, that in 20-plus years of going to Provincetown I’ve witnessed police-public interactions that were models of law enforcement professionalism, and others that were textbook examples of how officers and the public can purposefully push one another’s buttons."

Click here for more photos from the "Loaded Gun Random Shots" series.
Photo by Sam Baltrusis

GQB takes over Lansdowne’s Tequila Rain

Yes, the whole Guerrilla Queer Bar phenomenon has officially been accepted by the mainstream.

Today’s Boston Globe features GQB on the front page of their style section.

Because of the max-capacity crowds at their last event at Faneuil Hall’s Bell in Hand, organizers Daniel and Josh have opted for the larger Tequila Rain venue for their Friday, April 4 straight bar takeover.

Tequila Rain, known for its drunken Spring Break revelry 52 weeks a year, has some odd dress code rules that solidifies its straight-bar rep, including no sneakers after 8 p.m. and a ban on sleeveless T-shirts.

Click here for the Boston Guerrilla Queer Bar lowdown.

UPDATE: Jillian's, next to Tequila Rain, is being designated as the official-unofficial second takeover spot for the evening in case of max-capacity crowds.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Margaret Cho :: 'All-American Girl' Gone Wild

Comedian Margaret Cho is a bit preoccupied lately because, well, she’s making a skin flick.

"Is it raunchy? Absolutely," she jokes, giving the lowdown on the simulated sex scenes for her upcoming celeb-reality project, "The Cho Show," which will mark the comedian’s return to primetime TV after a 14-year hiatus. The VH1 series, currently in production for seven episodes, will follow the 39-year-old and her eccentric entourage as she deals with her family and friends while working a hectic stand-up career.

Camera crews will chronicle all of the scandalous, behind-the-scenes drama as the veteran comic takes her "Beautiful" tour on the road, which includes a pit stop at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston on Saturday, April 5.

Cho, who had a disastrous experience with her ABC sitcom "All-American Girl" before it was cancelled in 1994, says she has no fear as she prepares to make a triumphant return to the small screen.

"I don’t have any reservations about being back on TV because it’s a reality show and I love the reality-show format," she says. "It follows my day-to-day life so it would be really difficult to go bad this time around.'

Click here for the complete article in EDGE.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Liam Sullivan summons alter ego 'Kelly'

Here's a recent profile on comedic actor Liam Sullivan, a native of Norfolk, MA and opener for Margaret Cho at the Orpheum Theatre on Saturday, April 5, by EDGE writer Scott Kearnan:

Her lipstick is smudged, her wig is askew, her fashion sense sucks, and--oh yeah--we’re pretty sure we spot an Adam’s Apple underneath that five o’clock shadow on her rosy-cheeked face.

On the surface, Kelly doesn’t exactly sound like the kind of fabulous diva you expect Web-savvy gay folk to swoon over.

Yet throughout the last two years, "she" (and her creator, comedic actor Liam Sullivan) has become an internet phenomenon. Armed with a designer handbag full of catchphrases ("Betch!" "Deck!" "Shetbag!"), a viral online video named "Shoes" and a seemingly limitless array of vacuous stares and finely honed wit, Sullivan has parlayed his Kelly character into a one-woman empire of bumper stickers, T-shirts, mp3s and shet like that.

Click here for the complete article in EDGE.
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