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Horse Meat Disco

September 30, 2010

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Born in London, Horse Meat Disco is four DJ’s who curate vintage New York disco, real Italo, and new rarities to form a different kind of dance party. They’ve successfully grown their schtick to residencies at The Eagle, London, Lux in Lisbon, Tape in Berlin and Cihan in Istanbul. Currently, they are promoting a new mix, “Horse Meat Disco Volume 2″ out now on Strut/k7! Records. On Thursday, October 7th, Horse Meat Disco lays it long for Stardust’s 2nd Anniversary at Berlin Nightclub. This will be their Chicago debut, and they’ll be joined by Clique Talk (Live), Chrissy Murderbot and Kid Color. I was able to get them to answer some questions about their scope, their party and their style (FYI, they love American breakfast). Read the Q & A and check out a download link and teaser mix below!

The name “horse meat disco” is really “out,” maybe even confrontational. What kind of limitations or opportunities has this presented?

The name came from a newspaper headline that read “horse meat discovered in british salami.” James noticed it had been partially obscured so the name was a mistake really – it just sounded slightly sleazy. People love the name and really want to know where it came from but it hasn’t presented any limitations, in fact quite the contrary.

How long have you been doing this? What has changed?

Seven years, the scene has got bigger that’s the major change–that people’s eyes and ears are more open to the sound out in clubland.

Who is your audience? How is it different from other gay communities? Are you concerned with creating a community?

Our audience has always been a pretty mixed affair. We started the club seven years ago because we were tired of the same old gay clubs in London where women and straight people weren’t made to feel at home. We cut our teeth in mostly straight clubs and we wanted a queer space where all our friemds were welcome – gay, straight or otherwise.

What about trends? There’s new-disco, fashion, ebbs and flows of house music. Since all the “real” disco was made back in the day, how does Horse Meat Disco relate to current and passing trends in order to keep the party relevant?

We have always tried to keep a hand in what’s playing out there at the minute. A couple of us play newer records as well as real disco  really tend to dig deep into the vaults. Having said that, I think part of our success is the shared knowledge we all have and the sense of diversity that we all tend to introduce to our sets.

What’s exciting to you about touring the states? What’s exciting about chicago?

The musical heritage in America feels greater in terms of soul, funk, disco and dance music so people are really open to what we do. We love the breakfasts, the record shopping and the scale of the USA. Chicago is the home of HOUSE! I’ve only been there once a long time ago and can’t wait to play there

MP3 of “Cherchez Pas” by Madleen Kane, from Horse Meat Disco 2

Preview mini-mix for “Horse Meat Disco 2:”

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Trust Me: Selected Works by Latham Zearfoss

August 26, 2010

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Queer Film Making. It’s a concept/endeavor which declares humility. To make transgressive moving pictures that advocate for hope in the face of internal and external hostility is not only noble, it’s urgent. Chicago-based film-maker Latham Zearfoss knows this, but he also knows that you can’t successfully make a case for “feminist trespass” without having some technique, wit, or humor. Calls for action and protest will fall on deaf ears if you’re constantly calling but don’t have anything clever to say.

Trust Me: Selected Works by Latham Zearfoss provides us with an overview of these clever calls, showcasing films and installations from 2006 to the present. His life in Chicago, time as a student and love of music are front and center here – but instead of just providing autobiography, these details enrich his point of view that ownership of your identity (regardless of the advantage or disadvantage it gives) is crucial to your ability to communicate.Trust Me, as a title, is a cheeky reference to the favors we do for our community leaders and taste makers: without our trust, they wouldn’t get very far. However, considering Zearfoss’s position as a Chicago culture maker (Zearfoss founded queer dance circuit Chances Dances), it visits the question of colonialism— it’s an easy trap to fall in when you have more access to be heard and you use it for another’s voice. Other’s fears and dreams can never become yours, you’ll always just be the advocate. As a gay white cismale, Zearfoss uses film to explore his privilege while making the big ask to trust him. In Chicago’s small community, the answer might seem like simple “yes.” But if you consider that in 2010 you have Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right and Bruce La Bruce’s LA Zombie as opposing extremes of progress in queer film-making, Zearfoss’s examinations of queer culture, religious indignance, and the historical context of our present problems are executed with an accessible and realistic perspective.

Which is not to say he isn’t experimenting. Having a child re-enact Sinead O’Connor’s infamous 1992 Saturday Night Live performance and juxtaposing it against another child faking an accent to read a 2010 Vatican PR statement about child abuse is more than just culture sampling. When the actors stammer or pause, their innocence is amplified to a deafening shock—the age-old desire to make the world a better place for future generations is obliterated by the realization that 18 years later, we’ve more or less failed. I Give You Life, with it’s stark text, flapping red white and blues, absence of a visual narrator and warped soundtrack of Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” chases you like a restless ghost you into the room where Matthew Shepard’s father addressed his son’s murderer. The political momentum Shepard’s death caused cannot be underestimated—his story is still an arresting part of our community’s timeline. In I Give You Life, Zearfoss measures the worth of personal vs. judicial justice, thereby adding needed reflection to a civil rights struggle that is increasingly partitioned into self-important factions.

As a first show, Trust Me is pulled back to earth by Zearfoss letting us see how he’s learning; there are student moments for sure. The length of audio segment World Peace featuring Jane Fonda drags the premise that feminism is a large part of world peace, and the last film, the animated fairy tale Myth of My Ancestors, leaves us with whimsy but not much else. Considering the depth of his other statements, World Peace and Myth work better on their own rather than attempting to close the show on an up beat. Regardless, Zearfoss’s clearly communicates that as far as we’ve come with visibility and self-reflection, there is still a void that we can and should strive to fill. His wide lens is keenly focused on our humble steps in the march toward freedom, queer and beyond; things will get better if we keep rolling.

Trust Me: Selected Works by Latham Zearfoss screens
September 4th, 2010, 7pm and 9pm at The Nightingale Theatre, 1084 N Milwaukee Ave. $5 Admission, Q & A after each screening.

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Bar AIDS Thursday August 26th

August 19, 2010

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Berlin Nightclub is participating in Bar AIDS, the city-wide effort to raise money for AIDSCare Progressive Services. From 5-11pm, come to Berlin and help your fellow humans help each other. Specials include $6 Effen Bruised Cherry Cocktail, 10pm Pub Crawl Stop & Girls from Downstate Drag show,
Hosted by Jama & Sister Porna Forna-Kayshun with The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. See the facebook invite! I’ll be there spinning from 9-11 and probably wearing something cute!

From the website:

On August 26th, Participating Bars in the Chicago area will pledge a portion of their proceeds to benefit AIDSCare Progressive Services, a member of EdgeAlliance. As an additional fundraiser, Bar AIDS Ambassadors are assigned to each bar to sell raffle tickets, mingle with patrons, and help raise HIV/AIDS awareness in the community.

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ALMA Beach Picnic

August 19, 2010

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The Association of Latino Men for Action (ALMA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower Latino gay, bisexual, and questioning men by providing support, advocacy, and leadership opportunities. ALMA has a twenty-one year history of continuous work bringing together the Latino and GLBTQ communities in Chicago. Recognizing ALMA’s leadership, The City of Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame inducted the organization in 2000 as it’s first Latino member. To advance its mission, ALMA continues to develop innovative programming and key partnerships with numerous local, state, and national communities and organizations. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@almachicago.org or visit our website for more information regarding our current projects: www.almachicago.org

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Maybe You Feel Like Staring at Sufjan Stevens Today

August 17, 2010

He’ll be playing at the Chicago Theatre on October 15th, tickets here.

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The Kids Are All Wight

August 16, 2010

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The Kids Are All Right, a movie about a privileged suburban family headed by two women, is a visible new entry into queer film history. Mostly, I’m glad it’s there–you have two A-listers playing a lesbian couple raising a family, and as such it deserves all the attention it’s getting. “Why can’t they get actual lesbian actors to play 0n-camera lesbians?,” “Why was their sole sex scene so polite?,” “Why does the femme always have to cheat with a dude?,”and “Why wasn’t Nic more butch?,” are valid questions, but I’m putting them aside for what I think is a much larger problem. I’ve been calling this movie “The Kids Are Alwight” because the film has three non-white characters, and each one of them is treated as “less than.” It’s not something that I’m concerned about because of its mere presence in the film, my problem comes from how its dealt with–it’s not. The racial issues that TKAA brings to the table are left there, cold and unattended to, and that’s not only irresponsible, it’s an unfortunate hint that writer Lisa Cholodenko is also a privileged white person that doesn’t want to or doesn’t know how to deal with race. It’s not her responsibility to absolve us or guide us through our own ties to inequality, but if you’re serving up racial undertones, medium-rare is a bloody mess.

Juxtaposed against the success that Cholodenko had in creating fully realized, complicated personalities, the three non-whites and their problematic plot lines are straight forward, in my opinion. Daughter Joni’s love interest, Jai is used as a sex object, Paul dumps his friend-with-benefits, Tanya, because he’s thinking about starting a family, and Luis the gardener is fired after Jules realizes he knows about her affair. Taken as isolated incidents, each of these scenarios is complicated enough that you wouldn’t have to read racial inequality into it. However, because Jai, Tanya and Luis are all brown and they all get the shaft from the white main characters, the issue of race can’t be ignored.

Jai as a sex object–of the three, this story line is the least charged for me but still relevant due to the presence of the other two. Jai and Joni are just friends, but their relationship is filled with sexual tension, and he’s obviously interested. The awkward non-commitment from Joni could be seen as hesitation due to his race and it’s not until she’s drunk and about to leave for college that she goes for it. The way she kisses him without saying much and then abandons the situation is very objectifying. On its own, this doesn’t have to be about his skin color, but this occurrence is the most minor of an alarming pattern in TKAA. 

Paul’s friend-with-benefits, Tanya is a younger hottie obviously disappointed when Paul dumps her because he’s thinking about “starting a family.” Why can’t he start one with her? It could be their age difference, but again–she’s one of three non-whites in the movie and she’s treated as less than. Paul is a douche, let’s be honest. His character is an immature guy who loves a thrill (motorcycles, filming the skateboarding, bagging a lez, etc). He’s an environmentalist and sustainable farmer, but a player and a douche for sure. His disinterest in Tanya as a long-term partner isn’t explained more than with a simple statement about “getting serious,” and since we know he’s betting on Jules,  he’s not exactly basing his decision on Jules’ stability. He found something that’s only better because its whiter. 

Finally, Luis the gardener is fired after Jules realizes he knows about her affair. This was pretty shocking for me, mostly because it was so sudden, but also because it was presented with all kinds of tension and unspoken slants. Until I read Holly Hughes’s note, I hadn’t noticed that at the moment Jules realizes she’s been caught, in her panic she interprets Luis’s pause as him leering at her in a suggestive way. When she asks him, “What’s that face?,” his expression changes to that of confusion. Their language barrier, coupled with all the fast-paced regret, prop this vignet up as the movie’s powerful and realistic slice of human complexity. However, Jules never apologizes or corrects her mistake, leaving the impression that his livelihood is not worth as much as hers, but also that it doesn’t matter. This exchange and its implications are the most heated and questionable loose threads in Cholodenko’s flimsy handling of her story’s racial inequality.

I don’t think mainstream depictions of queer life MUST resemble my ultra-left ideal. I mean, it’d be nice but I’m not holding my breath. I’m still glad this movie was made and has gotten so much attention–the overt message of The Kids Are All Right is that we are all complicated people making tough decisions all the damn time. At its best, Cholodenko coaxed brilliant performances from most of her cast. However at its most disappointing, TKAA brings up very plausible, racially-charged afterthoughts without exploring them enough to justify their presence. Leaving these sub-plots unresolved only HINTS where it should DECLARE that these racist detachments happen every day, and they are examples of  our modern age’s willingness to overlook a certain amount of unspoken discrimination. Could their inclusion be intentional? Sadly, I don’t think this is a case of something being shown as a self-evident injustice. This movie was made to teach and preach about the many ways family life is hard; Cholodenko obviously won’t lose the chance to illustrate a lesson.  The things that happened to Jai, Tanya and Luis are the kinds of passing and accepted ways privileged classes step on people of color, and it’s unfortunate that these slights were included AND ignored in an otherwise competent film.

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I Took A Vacation And It Was Great

August 13, 2010

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One of the best parts about keeping this blog is that it’s mine. This type of autonomy comes with a nice freedom, but is also involves a chunk of self-imposed pressure. There’s a slew of things I enjoy and stress out about keeping this thing running, and for the first time since I started keeping it in late 2007, I took a break. It was great! Some of the things that have happened since June:

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I turned 32. One of the snarkiest jokes I’ve heard in a while comes from my buddy Amy Nicole Miller. We’re always talking about identity –  amidst jokes and earnest declarations, we learn from each other. I share anecdotes about gay male culture and she explains a lot about being Femme.

(Quick lessons for you: 1. Queer female households are ALWAYS surprised by the amount of noise dudes make when they pee and 2. Lots of  Femmes are in a unique position in queer culture because they can pass as straight but also get can get overlooked/talked-over in queer social settings )

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Back to the snarkiest thing. One day Amy was joking about identifying as someone in their mid-twenties (she’s not) and was adamant that no one could question it because it was how she identifies. It was a smart, sassy take on the sacred shroud queers tend to place over their uniqueness and if I could remember the cracks that ensued after that back-handed indignance, you’d be jealous. Don’t get me wrong, I love people’s individuality. However, I also think the queer community could benefit from laughing at itself. If we did more of that, our differences in age, gender, styles and levels of awkwardness would be embraced and used as a basis to be CHARMING. I love charming people. I want to be around more of them.

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What else? I saw “The Kids Are Alright,” which is a cute movie about a privileged family with seriously undercooked racial issues.  My girl Holly Hughes started writing something and inspired me to do the same. That will have its own post for SURE.

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My best friend adopted a baby. A truly gorgeous, perfect gayby. I have a new life as the uncle I could never be with my own blood nephews, and I’m THRILLED. Of course, this has started all kinds of inner dialogue about what it means to be radical, and I think I’ve decided I’m on the right path. Questions I’ve asked and not yet answered: Is moving to the hills, the country or otherwise being off the “grid” radical? Can you hold your head up high as an environmentalist while still living in and consuming in a major city? Is gay marriage a worthy fight? If you don’t want to get gay married, should you still prioritize it? Are you in a position where your once-radical friends are now only concerned about gay marriage and baby poop? I take comfort in the fact that once-radical people have the option to settle down and safely make and raise innately progressive gaybies. As complacent as it seems to still-picketing queers, it’s an option that has only developed in the past 10 years, and that’s fucking amazing. And just to throw a little fire, the struggles that gay parents are undertaking on a personal level are every bit as vital to the struggle as protests and boycotts. Do you think a gayby isn’t going to get harassed in school? Do you think gay parents aren’t fighting for the right to be present AND comfortable at teacher meetings and block parties and birthday parties or otherwise casual scenarios? While some of us risk money or safety, others risk their pride and their relationships. They are all worth our respect.

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Camp Trans had a major incident with violence and might not ever be the same. I’m still reading about it, but basically some trans women were bashed at the gates of Mich fest, and people in and out of trans circles are pointing fingers of blame and assimilationism. It’s a mess. This will also get its own post.

Dyke March Chicago moved to the South Side and reclaimed…a bike path? I might be ruffling the wrong feathers here, but to be sure, these are supportive ruffles. A  move to the South Side is vital to the essence of the Dyke March as a protest and vehicle for visibility, but we spent most of our walk on a bike path, away from residents. Full disclosure: I did not help plan the March, so you could say I should STFU. But I wasn’t the only person asking why we were so secluded from the neighborhood, and I hope to have more time on South Side streets next year. I’m sure the fine folks at DMC are already talking about it–The City of Chicago is marvelous but it’ll be damned before it doesn’t make you pay for a permit to sneeze in public, and charge you extra to cough into a microphone. Let’s keep this momentum going!

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Hm. What else? OH YEAH. America is taking its frustration about the economy out on immigrants, and HOLY SHIT is it getting ugly. What is most horrifying to me is that this effort is all about South of the Border skin color–no one is targeting our many European immigrants. Arizona’s law is about skin color. The newest rumblings about the citizenship of children of undocumented immigrants? They are directly tied to statistics about the growing Latino population. The brave people behind The Dream Act and the basic concept of being out as undocumented is INSPIRING to say the least. This is one of the most radical things I’ve seen in my lifetime, and how this plays out will probably be one of the most charged and emotional processes in legislation reform. These are Latinos we’re talking about, after all.

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So, I’m back from blogging vacay, but let’s be honest–this place don’t pay the bills. I MUST prioritize the things that provide me with stability. This blog provides me visibility and sanity, but I can’t be either of those if I’m homeless. Love y’all. If you miss these posts, follow my tweets! I’m FUNNY.

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