Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Something to Think (and Chuckle) About . . .


Related Off-site Links:
NBA Star Steph Curry Calls Trump an "Ass" – Jennifer Calfas (The Hill, February 8, 2017).
Top Ten Reasons Trump is an Asshole – IndieCentrist (Daily Kos, July 18, 2016).
The Internet Is Losing Its Mind Over a Photo of Justin Trudeau's AssDaily Hive, February 24, 2017).
To No One's Surprise, People Love Justin Trudeau's Butt – Chloe Bryan (Mashable, February 24, 2017).
Donald Trump's Strange Handshake Style and How Justin Trudeau Beat It – David Fanner (The Guardian, February 13, 2017).
Trump Wastes Little Time Breaking His Key Promises In a Cruel Budget – Steve Benen (MSNBC, May 23, 2017).
Justin Trudeau Navigates World of Trump and Brexit: "Globalisation Isn't Working for Ordinary People" – Ashifa Kassam and Laurence Mathieu-Léger (The Guardian, December 15, 2016).
Justin Trudeau Is Not Your Friend – Jordy Cummings (Jacobin, September 9, 2016).

Sunday, May 21, 2017

It Is Happening Again

The groundbreaking TV show Twin Peaks which, among other things, writes Matt Zoller Seitz, was an unrelenting and mystifying meditation on grief and trauma, returns after 26 years.

The revered TV show Twin Peaks returns tonight on the Showtime channel . . . 26 years after it last aired.

The series that begins this evening is considered the show's third, and takes place 25 years after the events of season two. In the last episode of that season, the murdered Laura Palmer tells FBI special agent Dale Cooper in the otherworldly Red Room of the Black Lodge that "I'll see you again in 25 years." . . . And so here we are.

(NOTE: For a 5-minute video recap of the Twin Peaks story so far, click here.)

As with the two original seasons, season three, also being called Twin Peaks: The Return, is created by Mark Frost and David Lynch. It's a "limited series event," consisting of 18 episodes. Two episodes have been selected to be screened at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.

Many original cast members have returned for season three, including Kyle MacLachlan as Dale Cooper, Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer and Maddy Ferguson, Ray Wise as Leland Palmer, Grace Zabriskie as Sarah Palmer, Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey Horne, Mädchen Amick as Shelly Johnson, Dana Ashbrook as Bobby Briggs, Warren Frost as Dr. Will Hayward, Michael Horse as Tommy "Hawk" Hill, Harry Goaz as Andy Brennan, Kimmy Robertson as Lucy Moran, James Marshall as James Hurley, Everett McGill as Ed Hurley, Wendy Robie as Nadine Hurley, and Peggy Lipton as Norma Jennings. Director David Lynch will also reprise his role as the hard of hearing FBI Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole.

Above: The three different covers for the March 31, 2017 issue of Entertainment Weekly, featuring some of the returning Twin Peaks cast members. From left: Wendy Robie as Nadine Hurley, Everett McGill as Ed Hurley, James Marshall as James Hurley, Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer, David Lynch as Gordon Cole, Kyle MacLachlan as Dale Cooper, Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey Horn, Mädchen Amick as Shelly Johnson, Dana Ashbrook as Bobby Briggs, and Peggy Lipton as Norma Jennings.

I was sorry to hear that one of my favorite characters in the show, Catherine Martell (played by Piper Laurie [right]), won't be present in season three.

Talking to Entertainment Weekly earlier this month, Laurie said: "I did send a note to David [Lynch] that I would be delighted to return, but I think most of the material that I was in on the original didn’t really involve the darker aspects of the show, and I can guess maybe that’s where David and Mark Frost are going, but I really don’t know. My character was more on the silly, comic, fun side."

Another notable absence is Lara Flynn Boyle as Donna Hayward. According to a recent story in Deadline Hollywood it was the actress's choice not to return.

Above: Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) and her best friend Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle) in happier days.

There will, however, be a large number of new additions to the cast, including Laura Dern, Naomi Watts, Michael Cera, Jim Belushi, Richard Chamberlain, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Eddie Vedder.

I don't get Showtime, so unfortunately I won't be tuning in tonight to watch the return of Twin Peaks. I'm definitely curious about it, though. For one thing, I have absolutely no idea what the plotline will entail. In fact, apart from those involved in the show's making, no one does – and the official trailers that have been released reveal very little (see, for instance, here and here). I must admit I have concerns about how good it will be. I mean, the original series ended so dismally (as is discussed here). And then there are the thorny but crucial questions that Melanie McFarland raises in her May 20 Salon piece: "Can a classic succeed at being happening again? . . . Twenty-seven years after a series has broken ground, how can new storylines match the quality of all the shows it spawned?" I suppose I'll just have to wait for the new series to come out on DVD to find out.

In the meantime, Matt Zoller Seitz has a timely and insightful piece at Vulture in which he deftly examines why Twin Peaks is "not the series we’ve convinced ourselves it was."

One aspect of the show that Zoller Seitz explores and which especially interests me (given my current training in chaplaincy) is to do with how the original Twin Peaks was "a meditation on grief and trauma."

Following is that part of Zoller Seitz's article which explores this idea.

Twin Peaks was a meditation on grief and trauma that expressed itself in unrelenting, deliberately unreal, often mystifying ways. People tend to forget this when they talk and write about and remember Twin Peaks. That show did not go down easy. It was charming and weird, but it was also creepy and upsetting and sometimes genuinely horrifying. It gave you a spoonful of sugar, then it punched you in the gut. The gut punches had to do with the psychological effect of loss on individuals and their community.

Twin Peaks is often described as a mystery or a soap opera, and it was definitely both of those things. But it was also the story of a small town reeling in shock after a random act of violence, acting out in strange and terrifying ways, and purposefully and accidentally disclosing not just their naughty secrets (an element common to the soaps that Lynch and Frost emulated, as well as films like In the Heat of the Night and Anatomy of a Murder), but the persistent sadness, desperation, and dread that lurks under the surface of mundane reality. The deeper FBI agent Dale Cooper and his fellow investigators dug into the soil beneath those magnificent Douglas firs, the more ugliness they unearthed. There was incest, sexual exploitation, drug abuse, drug trafficking, domestic violence, smuggling, murder, and corporate crime happening in those cottages and hotel rooms and in the gloom of the woods.

But more impressive – perhaps more daring, considering Americans’ limited tolerance for sincerity – was the show’s willingness to plumb the emotional depths of its characters with the white-hot intensity of a 1950s melodrama or a 1970s Italian horror film, without distancing devices, and often without facetiousness or irony.

The latter was eerie and moving to behold and, for 1990 network TV, unexpected. But it was also upsetting and depressing and occasionally confounding for mass audiences, which is one reason why the show’s ratings, which were immense for the premiere, kept falling by the week, until it became clear a few episodes into season two that ABC was likely to cancel it. Twin Peaks wore the comedy mask and the tragedy mask with equal confidence, and sometimes it put them both away and put on a mask that had live worms in it and might have been made of human flesh.

The audience didn’t just reject the series over the long haul because viewers wanted closure on the question of who killed Laura Palmer, and Lynch and Frost seemed to be in no hurry to provide it. It was also a reaction to the series itself – all of its elements, but perhaps especially the intensity of its darkness. Twin Peaks was not just physically brutal (Leland Palmer’s murder of his Laura-look-alike niece, Maddie [left], is still hard to watch nearly three decades after its airing). It was also emotionally wrenching, in a way that was uncharacteristic of TV in the early ’90s. Supporting characters were forever weeping, sometimes wailing in grief as they remembered Laura. It was an open wound of a show, right up through the end.

The characters’ pain was hilarious if you were a callow teenager or college student who didn’t understand loss and the many, equally valid methods by which art can examine it. You have to permit yourself a certain vulnerability when watching Lynch, otherwise the simplicity of the characters’ needs and fears and the nakedness of their desperation will seem hilarious. Viewers over the legal drinking age had to decide to be okay with a certain level of emotional exposure while watching the original Peaks.

Twin Peaks was playful about everything except pain. It took pain so seriously that over time, an increasing proportion of its initially big viewership did not know how to process it, except to squirm, snicker performatively, or stop watching. Everybody who watches the new Peaks has to recognize this and not be surprised or upset by it. It’s going to be part of the package, because it’s an area of life that is of deep interest to Lynch, the director of such light and peppy movies as Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway, and Inland Empire.

A 30-something friend of mine quit watching it after a few episodes because his mother had recently died of cancer; Twin Peaks made him feel as if he was reentering a space he never wanted to be in again.

That Twin Peaks is also coming back.

– Matt Zoller Seitz
Excerpted from "Why Twin Peaks Is Not the Series
We’ve Convinced Ourselves It Was
May 19, 2017

For more about Twin Peaks at The Wild Reed, see:
The Fizzer Finale of Lost Brings to Mind the Unraveling of Twin Peaks
London Calling

Related Off-site Links:
Everything You Need to Know About the Twin Peaks Revival – Jethro Nededog (Business Insider, May 20, 2017).
Twin Peaks: Can a Classic Succeed at Being Happening Again? – Melanie McFarland (Salon, May 20, 2017).
How Twin Peaks Got Lost, and Found Its Way Back – Finn Cohen (The New York Times, May 17, 2017).
Was Twin Peaks Ahead of Its Time? Let’s Look Back and See – James Poniewozik and Mike Hale (The New York Times, May 17, 2017).
Here's Where Twin Peaks Left Off 26 Years Ago – Eliana Dockterman (Time, May 17, 2017).
Twin Peaks Is Coming Back! Here's Everything You Need to Get Up to Speed for Season 3 – Mayer Nissim (Digital Spy, May 15, 2017).
In 1990, Twin Peaks Was Not Ready for Prime Time. And Vice Versa – Jeremy Egner (The New York Times, May 12, 2017).
Your Complete Guide to Rewatching Twin Peaks – Margaret Lyons (The New York Times, April 26, 2017).
Twin Peaks Cast List: 11 Major Omissions, from Lara Flynn Boyle to Heather Graham – Chris Eggertsen (Uproxx, April 25, 2017).

UPDATES: Twin Peaks 2017: TV Review – Daniel Fienberg (The Hollywood Reporter, May 21, 2017).
TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return – Sonia Saraiya (Variety, May 21, 2017).
Review: In Twin Peaks, an Old Log Learns Some New Tricks – James Poniewozik (The New York Times, May 21, 2017).
Review: The New Twin Peaks Is Strange and Not In a Good Way – Daniel D’Addario (Time, May 21, 2017).
Twin Peaks Review: Woeful Revival Plays Like Fire Walk – No Run – Away – Michael Ausiello (TV Line, May 21, 2017).
Twin Peaks Revival Premiere Recap: The Meaning of the Box Is Threefold? – Kimberly Roots (TV Line, May 21, 2017).
Twin Peaks Review: "I Am Dead, Yet I Live" – Eric Goldman (IGN, May 21, 2017).
Twin Peaks Review – David Lynch Reboot Will Baffle and Irk Even Hardcore Fans – Mark Lawson (The Guardian, May 21, 2017).
Twin Peaks Season 3 Will Baffle and Delight – First Spoiler-free Reviews – Adam Sherwin (I-News, May 21, 2017).
Twin Peaks Premiere: Debating Whether the Return Lived Up to Expectations, and What David Lynch Is Trying to Say – Hanh Nguyen, Michael Nordine and Liz Shannon Miller (Indy Wire, May 21, 2017).
Twin Peaks Season 3 Premiere Review: David Lynch Remains a Master – But the Brutality Toward Women Feels Dated – Liz Shannon Miller (Indie Wire, May 21, 2017).
Twin Peaks Review: WTF Was That & Did David Lynch Just School Peak TV? – Dominic Patten (Deadline, May 21, 2017).
Twin Peaks Review – David Lynch's Revival Is Dark and Intriguing, But It Lacks the Original's Chutzpah – Patrick Smith (The Telegraph, May 22, 2017).
Twin Peaks, Season 3, Parts 1 & 2 Big Questions: Has Cooper Flown the Coop? – Tristram Fane Saunders (The Telegraph, May 22, 2017).
In Its Nightmarish Two-part Return, Twin Peaks is Pure Lynchian Horror – Emily L. Stephens (A.V. Club, May 22, 2017).
Twin Peaks 2017 Review - Season 3, Episodes 1 and 2: David Lynch Makes a Twisted, Triumphant Return – Mayer Nissim (Digital Spy, May 22, 2017).
Talking Twin Peaks: The Return Parts 1 & 2 – Alan Sepinwall and Keith Phipps (Uproxx, May 22, 2017).
Twin Peaks Is Back, As Strange and Stunning as Ever – Alan Sepinwall (Uproxx, May 22, 2017).
Twin Peaks: The Return, Episodes 1 & 2 Recap: Do Not Drop Up – Keith Uhlich (MUBI, May 22, 2017).
Lynch Unleashed:
The Twin Peaks Reboot Is Pure, Outrageous David Lynch – and It’s Glorious
– Laura Miller (Slate, May 22, 2017).
Twin Peaks: The Return Is Riveting, Horrifying, and Patience-Taxing – Matt Zoller Seitz (Vulture, May 22, 2017).

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Quote of the Day

[Roger Ailes (1940-2017)] was a bigot, with well-documented prejudices against people of color, Muslims, women, and LGBTQ people. The network he created ran on division and hatred, consumed by an unslaked thirst to oppress the oppressed and comfort the comfortable.

He was a conspiracy theorist, and so were the hosts he hired, channeling ridiculous accusations from fringe websites to the masses, creating for their audience an alternate reality in which dark liberal forces were ever ready to steal away their freedom.

Over the last two years, his network has been devoted to propagandizing on behalf of Donald Trump, an Ailes friend who shared his bigotry, misogyny, and spite.

For power and money, Ailes turned Americans against one another. He made the nation a meaner, less informed place. That is his legacy.

Related Off-site Links:
How Roger Ailes Degraded the Tone of Public Life in America – Stephen Metcalf (The New Yorker, May 19, 2017).
Roger Ailes: The Man Who Wrecked Conservatism – Bret Stephens (The New York Times, May 19, 2017).
Roger Ailes Was One of the Worst Americans Ever – Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone, May 18, 2017).
The Right Builds an Alternative Narrative About the Crises Around Trump – Jeremy W. Peters (The New York Times, May 17, 2017).

Friday, May 19, 2017

In Too Deep

So have a little faith
in where we're going to
Don't ask me where,
you know I just can't tell you
All I know is I'm swept away,
taken by this undertow
The waves are crashing in
Don't let go

– From "In Too Deep"
by Rick Nowels
(recorded by Jenny Morris for her
1995 album Salvation Jane)

This evening for "music night" at The Wild Reed I share New Zealand-born Australian singer-songwriter Jenny Morris's "In Too Deep," a track from her 1995 album Salvation Jane. It's definitely one of my favorite tracks on a collection of recordings that comprise the fourth studio album of Jenny's illustrious career.

I first came across Salvation Jane in the (Australian) summer of 1996-97. I had just turned 31 and was home for the first time since relocating three years earlier to the U.S. in 1994. I'd admired Jenny and her music prior to my move; she had been an acclaimed and popular singer-songwriter since the early 1980s. And so I was excited to discover in a Sydney record store that she had a new album out – her first since 1991's Honeychild. (To hear "Break in the Weather," a track from Honeychild previously highlighted at The Wild Reed, click here.)

In many ways, Salvation Jane provided an appropriate soundtrack for that particular visit home to Australia, my first since coming out to family and friends. Take for instance the lyrics of "Digger," one of the album's tracks . . .

Don't need a thing
when you're running wild
No complication
All you can feel is the wind on your face
Loving the rush of the river
that opened and gave you your dreams

Brave and mighty is the man
with passion he can show
Wise the tall the boy with soul
as pure as driven snow

Don't need a thing
when you're running wild . . .

– From "Digger"
by Jenny Morris, Mark Cawley, and Bill Baker
(recorded by Jenny Morris for her
1995 album Salvation Jane)

Lyrically, "In Too Deep" doesn't reflect the same feelings and experience of liberation as conveyed in "Digger" and some of the other tracks on Salvation Jane. However, its call to have faith in the journey, despite not always knowing the path or even the exact destination, definitely resonated with me when I first heard it, and still does to this day. Also, musically, "In Too Deep" was, and remains, one of my favorite tracks on the album.

About "In Too Deep," Wikipedia notes the following.

"In Too Deep" is a pop song written by Rick Nowels and produced by Andrew Farriss for Jenny Morris's fourth studio album Salvation Jane (1995). It was released as the album's fourth single but was not successful, peaking at #143 on the Australian ARIA singles chart. The song was covered by American singer Belinda Carlisle, produced by David Tickle for her sixth studio album A Woman and a Man (1996). Her version was much more successful commercially, charting at #6 in the UK and #11 in Australia.

Wow! That must have been a bummer: to have someone else score a hit with (to my ears, at least) an inferior version of a song that you first recorded but which didn't take off. I guess it happens a lot, though, in the music world.

As you probably have gathered, I definitely prefer Jenny's more acoustic-sounding recording to Belinda's more poppy, sing-along one. I also prefer the music video made by David Nelson to accompany Jenny's recording of "In Too Deep" – even if the one made for Belinda Carlisle's cover does feature a handsome man splashing around in a bathtub!

I can't be sure, but it looks like Jenny's video was filmed among the wharves and warehouses of Sydney Harbour. I love the diverse group of people she assembled for the video, some of whom are members of her backing band, the psychedelic pop group Electric Hippies. (This group, which included members of the revered Australian hard rock band Noiseworks, also co-produced Salvation Jane.) There's even a famous (and quite elderly) Australian artist thrown into the video's mix of eclectic characters!

For years, the only version of the video available on YouTube was a rather crappy one, quality-wise. I'm happy to report that that's no longer the case, thanks to "ohnoitisnathan75." True, it's not what you'd call top quality; it is, after all, clearly an uploaded home recording from the Australian TV music program rage. Still, it's certainly an improvement on what was once available.

So without further ado, here's Jenny Morris with "In Too Deep" . . .

So you may be wondering what Jenny Morris is currently up to. Well, unfortunately, she's no longer singing as in 2005 she was diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia, a voice disorder characterized by involuntary movements or spasms of one or more muscles of the larynx during speech. Her last album was the sublime Hit & Myth in 2002.

She may no longer be recording but Jenny Morris is certainly not forgotten. Just this past Wednesday, for instance, Jenny was honored by the music industry at a special ceremony in Sydney. I'll close with the following piece by Iain Shedden from The Australian newspaper.

There was a lot of love in the room on Wednesday when singer Jenny Morris was honoured by the music industry at a ceremony in Sydney. Morris was the recipient of the Excellence in the Community award in recognition of her achievements behind the microphone and as a fundraiser for charities such as Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia and Support Act, the industry body that offers financial and other assistance to musicians in difficulty. Support Act was the host for the fundraising Music in the House event at the Ivy Ballroom on Wednesday and a star-studded roster of talent turned up to lend its support as well as to honour Morris. Actors Sam Neill and David Wenham were there, as was actress Rachel Ward, who hosted the event.

There were stellar performances of some of Morris’s best-known songs by other artists including Montaigne, who offered an admirable acoustic reading of "She Has to Be Loved," and Morris’s younger sister, Shanley Del, who did "Everywhere I Go." The star trio of the afternoon, however, featured Mark Lizotte and Neil Finn, Mark Lizotte and Jimmy Barnes.

The large crowd got more than it bargained for when the supergroup of sorts accidentally performed the two songs on its set list — "You I Know" and "Tears" — together instead of leaving "Tears" for the finale. Suddenly aware of their mistake, the three musos had to scurry off to the green room and learn a few more tunes with which to finish off the show after Morris’s gracious, funny and emotional acceptance speech. That turned out to be a blessing that sparked a standing ovation, with Morris, who had to stop singing after being diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia in 2005, joining the three stars and members of her family for a spirited performance of "Piece of My Heart," before the trio closed the show with Crowded House’s "Don’t Dream It’s Over."

The auction part of the function, conducted with some aplomb by ABC broadcaster Simon Marnie, raised thousands of dollars for Support Act, including $2600 from the sale of a black-and-white portrait of Morris by photographer Tony Mott.

Above: Jenny Morris with fellow luminaries of the Australian music scene Jimmy Barnes, Mark Lizotte and Neil Finn – Sydney, May 17, 2017. (Photo: Adam Taylor)

For more of Jenny Morris at The Wild Reed, see:
Saved Me
Crackerjack Man
Sometimes I Wonder . . .
Break in the Weather

Related Off-site Links:
Jenny Morris: Singer Reveals Career-ending Spasmodic Dysphonia Diagnosis, Hailed a "Real Hero" for Charity Work – Ben Cheshire (ABC News, October 12, 2015).
Jenny Morris Honoured for Fight for Musicians’ Rights as She Reveals She Was Assaulted on Stage – Kathy McCabe (The Daily Telegraph, March 25, 2017).
Singer Jenny Morris on Sharing a House with Michael Hutchence – Christine Sams (Domain, March 27, 2017).
Singer Jenny Morris Honoured in Sydney Ceremony – Iain Shedden (The Australian, May 20, 2017).

Previous featured artists at The Wild Reed:
Dusty Springfield | David Bowie | Kate Bush | Maxwell | Buffy Sainte-Marie | Prince | Frank Ocean | Maria Callas | Loreena McKennitt | Rosanne Cash | Petula Clark | Wendy Matthews | Darren Hayes | Jenny Morris | Gil Scott-Heron | Shirley Bassey | Rufus Wainwright | Kiki Dee | Suede | Marianne Faithfull | Dionne Warwick | Sam Sparro | Wanda Jackson | Engelbert Humperdinck | Pink Floyd | The Church | Enrique Iglesias | Yvonne Elliman | Lenny Kravitz | Helen Reddy | Stephen Gately | Judith Durham | Nat King Cole | Emmylou Harris | Bobbie Gentry | Russell Elliot | BØRNS | Hozier | Enigma | Moby (featuring the Banks Brothers) | Cat Stevens | Chrissy Amphlett | Jon Stevens | Nada Surf | Tom Goss (featuring Matt Alber) | Autoheart | Scissor Sisters | Mavis Staples | Claude Chalhoub | Cass Elliot | Duffy | The Cruel Sea | Wall of Voodoo | Loretta Lynn and Jack White | Foo Fighters | 1927 | Kate Ceberano | Tee Set | Joan Baez | Wet, Wet, Wet | Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy | Fleetwood Mac | Jane Clifton | Australian Crawl | Pet Shop Boys | Marty Rhone | Josef Salvat | Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri | Aquilo

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Quote of the Day

I rise today with a sense of responsibility and duty to the people who have elected me, a sense of duty to this country, a sense of duty to the Constitution of the United States of America.

I rise today, Mr Speaker, to call for the impeachment of the President of the United States of America for obstruction of justice.

There is a belief in this country that no one is above the law. And that includes the President of the United States of America.

Rep. Al Green (D-TX 9th District)
Quoted in Andrew Buncombe's article,
"Congressman Calls for Donald Trump's
Impeachment on House Floor
The Independent
May 17, 2017

Related Off-site Links:
A Presidency Falls Apart – David A. Graham (The Atlantic, May 17, 2017).
Rep. Al Green: Trump Must Be Investigated for Obstruction of Justice, Impeached If Found to Have Done So – Andrew Scheider (Houston Public Media, May 10, 2017).
Senate Panel Asks Comey to Testify on Flynn and TrumpThe New York Times (May 17, 2017).
Is the Comey Memo the Beginning of the End for Trump? – David Remnick (The New Yorker, May 17, 2017).
James Comey’s Memo Has Shaken a Presidency. Here’s Why Memos Have Always Mattered – Michael S. Rosenwald (The Washington Post, May 17, 2017).
The Hidden Bombshell in the Comey-Trump Story: Trump Asked FBI Chief to Jail Journalists – Peter Certo (Common Dreams, May 17, 2017).
CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou: We Should Be Considering Impeachment If Trump Obstructed FBI ProbeDemocracy Now! (May 17, 2017).
Republicans: It’s Time to Decide – Party or Country? – Robert Reich (, May 17, 2017).
Donald Trump Is a Stress Test for Democracy, and We Are Failing – Jamelle Bouie (Slate, May 16, 2017).
Donald Trump Is a Serious Threat to American National Security – Yochi Dreazen (Vox, May 15, 2017).
The Law Can’t Stop Trump. Only Impeachment Can – Jonathan Chait (New York Magazine, May 15, 2017).
Trump’s Madness Invites Mutiny – Charles M. Blow (The New York Times, May 15, 2017).
Dancing With the Devil: Trump's Politics of Fascist Collaboration – Henry A. Giroux (TruthOut, May 16, 2017).
Maxine Waters Talks Impeaching Trump, and Why She Has Hope – Tessa Stuart (Rolling Stone, May 16, 2017).
The Impeachment Trap: Be Careful What You Wish For – Jeff Alson (In These Times, May 17, 2017).
Is the End of Donald Trump’s Presidency Drawing Nearer? Either Way He Will Have Done Great Harm to America – Chauncey DeVega (Salon, May 17, 2017).
Could the 25th Amendment Be Used to Remove Trump? – Michael Walsh (Yahoo! News, May 17, 2017).
The Right Builds an Alternative Narrative About the Crises Around Trump – Jeremy W. Peters (The New York Times, May 17, 2017).

UPDATES: The White House’s Absolutely Brutal Night, in Six Headlines – Aaron Blake (The Washington Post, May 18, 2017).
How Does This End?: Four Alternatives for the Scandal-plagued Presidency of Donald Trump – McKay Coppins (The Atlantic, May 18, 2017).
As Impeachment Talk Grows, Have Trump’s Former Top Aides Already Cut Deals with Federal Prosecutors? – Steven Rosenfeld (AlterNet via Salon, May 21, 2017).
Rep. Al Green Faces Lynching Threats After Calling for Trump’s Impeachment – Daniel Politi (Slate, May 21, 2017).
The Obstruction of Justice Case Against the Trump White House Just Got a Lot Stronger – Leon Neyfakh (Slate, May 23, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – May 13, 2017
Quote of the Day – April 2, 2017
Quote of the Day – March 26, 2017
Quote of the Day – March 16, 2017
A Profoundly Troubling and Tragic Indictment
Let's Hope So . . .
"The Movement of Love and Inclusion Has Just Been Unleashed"
Something to Think About – January 20, 2017
"It Is All Connected"
Quote of the Day – January 11, 2017
Quote of the Day – December 25, 2016
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump as President of the United States
Carrying It On
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump
Trump's Playbook

Image 1: Bill Clark/Newscom.
Image 2: Yuri Gripas/Reuters.

On International Day Against Homophobia, Voices from Georgia

Italian documentary photographer Emanuele Amighetti (right) recently had an incredibly powerful photo essay published on the Politico website.

Entitled "In Pictures: Russia Looms Large Over Georgia’s LGBTQ Community," Amighetti's informative and moving collection of images and quotes documents the experiences of a number of LGBTQ people as they live with – and speak out against – the discrimination and mistreatment experienced in the former Soviet republic. In neighboring Chechnya, the situation is even worse, as recent media reports have highlighted.

Writes Amighetti about the situation in Georgia:

Protected – on paper at least – by laws and anti-discriminatory measures, LGBTQ people in Georgia are frequent victims of institutional discrimination and, often, violent physical assault.

Their exclusion from mainstream society, many of them say, can be chalked up to the outsized influence Russia still holds on the country.

. . . Russia has used prejudice against the LGBTQ community as a way to rally support among Georgians, claiming the country is at risk of becoming a “temple of decadence and “homosexuality” if it continues to seek closer ties with the EU, a path that includes enshrining protections for minority groups.

In recent years, the rhetoric of Orthodox priests has become more extreme. It is not uncommon to hear them call gay men “sons of the devil,” and the growing number of Russian media outlets in Georgia have acted as a megaphone for homophobia.

With today being International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, I share a selection of images and quotes from Emanuele Amighetti's powerful photo essay. (NOTE: To view and read Amighetti's "In Pictures: Russia Looms Large Over Georgia’s LGBTQ Community" in its entirety, click here.)


The way Russian propaganda influences media and society is still working, especially on the older generations. But I have to believe in the future and next generations. Many people are coming out. Thanks to the internet and social media, we have to build up our self-consciousness.

Giorgi Kikonishvili, 29
LGBTQ activist, co-founder of Muzame magazine
and columnist at

In 2013, we tried to organize a great public manifestation for celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Our group cooperated with the government but members of the Orthodox Parents’ Union and the Georgian Orthodox Church physically assaulted us. There were 100 to 200 of us. There were 20,000 of them. Police evacuated us. We risked our lives. No one was punished for that.

Natia Gvianishvili, 31
Activist and administrator at Women’s Initiatives Support Group

In Georgia it’s very difficult to accept your own identity and to be accepted by others in society. You have to fight for that every day. You have to assert every day that you are just like everyone else. You feel the pain, love, and worry like them. Your life is not only about sexual desires. You need the happiness that everyone tries to kill.

Gocha Gabodze, 27
Blogger and public relations manager

As an LGBTQ person here, you are always in danger. We can’t show ourselves in public, on the streets. I can’t take public transport with this makeup. I really would love to go out as a normal person but the risks are too high at this time.

Giorgi Qistauri, 20
Transvestite, activist and artist.

When I first came out I was living in my hometown, Poti. The situation was so hard that I had to run away, because of my father, relatives and friends. Once, soon after I came out, I was returning home and my neighbor met me at the entrance and threatened me. I returned home and locked myself inside. It is difficult to be gay here and doesn’t matter if you come out. It is always hard to say that you are gay, lesbian or transgender, because the end could be fatal.

Kako Kvatidze, 21
Worker at Bassiani nightclub

I realized that there is a problem not only in the traditional part of society but also inside of our community. That even some community members are quite homophobic towards each other was a shock for me. Several of my friends knew about my last relationship, but my girlfriend at the time was hiding her orientation in public and from her family. Ultimately, I decided to break up with her and become an activist and fighter.

Rusa Jijelava, 23
Blogger and activist

I feel that the church here is really powerful and has a huge influence on society. One of my friends told me that in Batumi there is a priest who regularly says during Mass that "all gay people are children of the devil and they will go to hell." After the 2013 collisions the Georgian Orthodox Church proclaimed May 17 as Family Day. Local LGBTQ people are now afraid to support LGBTQ Day.

Iraki, 27
(who didn't want to give his real name)

To view and read Emanuele Amighetti's photo essay "In Pictures: Russia Looms Large Over Georgia’s LGBTQ Community" in its entirety, click here.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Prayer for International Day Against Homophobia
To Be Gay in Iraq is to Be a “Defenseless Target”
Coming Out in Africa and the Middle East
The Scourge of Homophobia in Economically Impoverished Countries
Quote of the Day – March 10, 2014
In Uganda, a “Fearless Voice” for Gay Rights is Brutally Silenced
Sanctuary for Gay Syrians Danny and Aamer
Catholic Theologian: "Heterosexism, Not Homosexuality, is the Problem
The Ashes of Our Martyrs
Liberated to Be Together

Related Off-site Links:
Here’s Why We Still Need an International Day Against LGBTQ Hate – Jeff Taylor (LGBTQ Nation, May 17, 2017).
Gay Chechens Denied US Visas after Attempting to Flee Horrors of Government Crackdown – Clark Mindock (Independent, May 17, 2017).
Chechen Police Are Telling Families to Kill Their Gay Sons – Michaela Morgan (SBS News, May 4, 2017).
40 Gay Men Have Been Rescued From Chechnya's Concentration Camps – Dmitry Lovetsky (Associated Press via Out, May 10, 2017).
Meet the Man Helping Gay Men Escape From, April 28, 2017).

Sunday, May 14, 2017

"Imagine, Heal, Resist" – Mayday 2017

As I mentioned in a previous post, I attended the 43rd annual In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre's Mayday parade in Minneapolis last Sunday, May 7. This year's Mayday theme was "Imagine, Heal, Resist."

As I've noted previously, the Mayday parade never fails to embody story and ritual at their best. And because the themes of the parade are always concerned in one way or another with journeying, growth, transformation, and the seeking and embodying of the best qualities of the human condition, I have no hesitation in calling it a religious ritual. It feeds my spirit – and the spirits of the hundreds who participate in it and the thousands who line the streets of Bloomington Ave. in south Minneapolis to witness it.

Following is the beautiful and profound welcoming statement from this year's Mayday celebration program.

Imagine, heal, resist . . . and love, love love!

At this time of great upheaval, we come together to Imagine a just and joyous future for all; Heal personal, cultural and historical wounds; and to stand as a circle in Resistance to false myths of separateness that perpetuate violence and inequality.

We look to inner, outer and ancestral light for guidance, brilliant rainbows of visions and energies.

Oh Beauteous Neighbors! Thank you for weaving our community together with such GREAT LIGHT!

As I've done in previous years, I spent time before the start of this year's Mayday parade walking around and taking photos in the staging area. That's where the images in this first of two Mayday 2017 posts were taken. Enjoy!

Note the good folks at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre:

Puppetry's power lies in the act of transformation – of bringing something inanimate to life. This act in itself speaks to our lives, which rise and fall and rise again. As we share this act of building and performing, we find that art brings people together. It creates and expands community.


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Photo of the Day – May 7, 2017
"Radical Returnings" – Mayday 2016 (Part 1)
"Radical Returnings" – Mayday 2016 (Part 2)
"Our New Possibility": Photo of the Day – May 1, 2016
"And Still We Rise!" – Mayday 2015 (Part I)
"And Still We Rise!" – Mayday 2015 (Part II)
Mystics of Wonder, Agents of Change (Mayday 2014 – Part 1)
"The Spiritual Dialectic of WONDER?!" (Mayday 2014 – Part 2)
See the World! (Mayday 2013)
The End of the World as We Know It (2012)
"Uproar!" on the Streets of South Minneapolis: Part 1 (2010)
"Uproar!" on the Streets of South Minneapolis: Part 2 (2010)
Getting Started: Mayday 2009 (Part 1)
Celebrating Our Common Treasury: Mayday 2009 (Part 2)
Mayday and a "New Bridge" (2008)
The Time is Now! (2006)

Images: Michael J. Bayly.