Friday, November 20, 2009

Garden Multiplex 8 Opens in North Adams

Two daring entrepreneurs have taken over the closed cinema complex in North Adams. Life partners George Gohl and Bill Gobeille have not only brought the eight screens back to life, but promise programming that is both more adventurous and diverse.

They have renamed the complex the North Adams Garden Movie Plex Eight. The theatre opened at midnight last night with New Moon, the hottest movie of the fall. Their new website contains their full schedule which begins today, and there is a newsletter you can sign up for to stay posted.

The pair also operates Greenfield's Garden Cinemas in an 80 year old vaudeville house they purchased in 2001. It draws just under 100,000 people a year to its screenings. These guys know how to operate a movie complex. Best of all, they have open minds regarding programming. While aggressive in courting the latest Hollywood blockbusters, they are also aware of the diversity of the Northern Berkshires, with its artists, internet mavens and small but growing LGBT community joining long time residents.

Greenfield's Garden Cinemas light up the nights.

According to iBerkshires, Gobeille said the North Adams cinemas may also add independent and art films to cater to the colleges and growing arts community. Like the Greenfield theater, which holds monthly fundraisers for local youth groups, they would like it to become "a real presence in the community."

We are delighted at the news, and know that we will be finally visiting the movie complex again. They have hired back much of the old staff, and no doubt will be tending to the annoying problems of noisy doors slamming, boring snacks, and that vast empty hallway leading into the complex itself. If nothing else, perhaps they will put up some poster vitrines and artwork to bring it to life.

It is amazing that within hours of taking over the location, films were booked, staff rehired and a website created to serve our community. It goes to show what excellence is all about, and we have no doubt that the Northern Berkshires will soon be abuzz about the changes. Let's hope the new owners keep the standards high and the prices low. If so, they should be rewarded with the volume of customers that will make the new Garden Movie Plex a success.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is Taylor Lautner the new Brad Pitt? Watch New Moon and Decide.

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Taylor Lautner's headshot for New Moon

There is a lot of excitement in the air about tonight's midnight opening of the new Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield which includes a sold out screening of New Moon, the latest, ummm, "outing" in the Twilight Vampire series of films. There is a fascination about this film that transcends gay and straight lines. One factor may be the gorgeous cast, including the new Brad Pitt, Taylor Lautner, as Jacob.

Whether he can act or not remains to be seen. And in terms of eye candy, this is a bon bon for the ages. Reports are that the formerly typical 17-year-old did some serious working out to get in shape to be part of the Wolf Pack.

Taylor is 17. How will he handle the craziness?
In the film, Taylor is forced to wear a dreadful wig - he complained that it was not only itchy but the long hairpiece kept flying into his mouth, mangling his lines. However, when he become a vampire himself, he gets a haircut as well as a new focus on his life!

The women hold their own against the men. Lookswise.

In any case, this cast is so cute, so delectable to see that I fully expect the irReverend Fred Phelps to soon be picketing Kansas theatres with signs that say "God Hates Fangs!". Not that the bloodless bastard has any human fluids left in that rotted cadaver and mind of his.

Bloodsucking Beauty

I still can't figure out what it is with vampires, gays and teenage girls. But others have theories.

According to Esquire Magazine, "Twilight's fantasy is that the gorgeous gay guy can be your boyfriend, and for the slightly awkward teenage girls who consume the books and movies, that's the clincher. Vampire fiction for young women is the equivalent of lesbian porn for men: Both create an atmosphere of sexual abandon that is nonthreatening. That's what everybody wants, isn't it? Sex that's dangerous and safe at the same time, risky but comfortable, gooey and violent but also traditional and loving. In the bedroom, we want to have one foot in the twenty-first century and another in the nineteenth.

This fascinating article on New Moon is in Esquire Magazine

You've seen the wolfpack pictures with them shirtless. Here's a change of pace.

Meantime, I expect I will be lining up soon to see this film. And I am not so sure I will wear a garlic necklace either. After all, these days, one has to take what they can get.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Berkshire Stonewall's Thanksgiving Potluck Sunday

"For a second I thought they cooked the NBC peacock!"

Many of us have two families, and as a result, two Thanksgivings. One of course is reserved for family and the other for our friends. For many of us that means our LGBT friends.

One of the great get togethers is sponsored by the Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition which takes place this Sunday, November 22, 2009 from 1:00pm - 4:00pm at St. Stephen's Parish Hall in Pittsfield, MA. (Use the side door and park in the bank parking lot nearby.)

But even if it is last minute, please don't forget to make reservations for the Potluck. They provide the turkey; you provide the sides. BUT they need to know how many people to expect so we know how many turkeys to order.

"Lesbian chefs can be creative, too."

Please call coordinator Karla Kavanaugh 518-392-4905 so we can set enough places and coordinate what people are bringing. Leave a message if you get the machine.

"Um, boys, you can't all sit at the children's table...."

It's going to be a nice get together. This event is open to all; friends, family, allies . . . Bring your family and enjoy a holiday affair with the larger family in the Gay Berkshires!

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Berkshire Transgender Vigil Friday at Williams

The transgender community in the Berkshires is modest in size, but helping to lead our state on important legislation. On November 20, they will take time out to remember those who have lost their lives to bigotry and hate. Members of the Berkshires gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) and straight communities are all invited to participate.

On Friday, with State Senator Benjamin Dowling in attendance, the Williams College Queer Student Union and Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition will host a candlelight vigil in honor of the 11th International Transgender Day of Remembrance from 8-9 pm on Chapin Lawn in front of Paresky Student Center. Senator Downing is the sponsor of the bill “An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes” (H. 1728/S. 1687), in the Massachusetts State Senate now. He and members of the community will speak briefly.

You can learn more about the bill and the Massachusetts efforts that are ongoing by visiting the Transgender Political Action Coalition.

The annual Day of Remembrance memorializes individuals who have been killed throughout the world in the previous year because of gender expression discrimination and anti-transgender hatred. Since last year's event, 99 people are known to have been murdered because of their gender identity or gender expression (this is more than twice as many from 2008).

The vigil is only one of many activities during Transgender Awareness Week which begins today and ends Friday. (November 15-20). There are a host of statewide events to both celebrate the liberation and mark the difficulty of the struggle for equal rights.

Massachusetts bill (H. 1728/S. 1687) was heard by Massachusetts’ Joint Committee on the Judiciary this past July. “Bills such as this give citizens equal protection under state law regardless of gender identity or expression,” said Justin Adkins, Williams College Queer Life Coordinator, “In doing so it will send a clear message that all citizens of the Commonwealth should be able to work, go to school, and live without fear.”

Thirteen states, including Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont already have similar laws. Within Massachusetts, only the cities of Boston, Cambridge, Amherst, and Northampton prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. One hundred fifty-five major Massachusetts employers, such as Stop & Shop, Williams College, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield have non-discrimination protections covering gender identity and expression.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people. It publicly honors the lives of people who might otherwise be forgotten. And it gives transgender allies a chance to step forward in community and stand in vigil.

All are welcome at the Williams event which will be held rain or shine.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

The angrier she gets, the more I love Kate Clinton...

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My love affair with Kate Clinton continues unabated, and unrequited, and we do make the odd couple. Normally you wouldn't expect to hear our names in the same sentence, but politics makes strange bedfellows.

In her latest message to her loyal fans, she takes on the health care bill, gay marriage and "don't ask-don't tell." She talks about abortion too, and I almost fell off my chair when she came up with an idea of a "sperm tax" to pay for them.

She is just plain brilliant. Listen, laugh, and think about doing what she suggests:

Friday the 13th with Donna McKechnie in Concert at MCLA

Lovers of Broadway and cabaret will be happy to learn that Tony Award winning singer-dancer-actress Donna McKechnie will be in North Adams for one evening at MCLA's Church Street Center on Friday, November 13, 2009 at 8:00 PM. It is a fundraiser for the college's scholarship fund. MCLA students can attend for free, other students pay $15 and everyone else $25. You can call for tickets at 413-662-5185.

She won her Tony as Cassie in the original A Chorus Line, and has since starred in How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, On the Town, Promises-Promises, Company and State Fair. She recently published a memoir TIME STEPS, My Musical Comedy Life which will be on sale, and available for autographs.

No specific information about the program or musical accompaniment (whether she will sing show tunes or other material) was available.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Second Civil War for Equal Rights

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Two hot issues for the LGBT community are enacting Gay Marriage Equality, and repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Even in America, it is an uphill struggle to gain equal rights for all, despite the founding fathers, the Constitution and our ability to petition the government for the redress of our grievances. For every leap forward, there is a step backward, such as what happened in Maine this week.

Those of us who have been around for awhile know that it takes work and commitment to advance the issues that affect the LGBT community, and tend not to let defeats stop our efforts. That would be exactly what those who wish to hold us down would like.

There are things you can do to help, and they start with being informed and up to date. A simple step is to bookmark the organizations that are leading the charge for our equality. The Civil War lives.

Bryant got a pie in her face.

Those of us who are old enough remember Anita Bryant and her initially successful 1977 efforts to deny our gay rights and existence. She was dethroned, and so will our current opponents, from Fox News to the religious right.

To help counter the defeat in Maine, and make a better case for same sex marriage, is collecting "Happily Ever After" stories from married couples. It would be nice to have some from the Berkshires. You can read about this new effort on the Marriage Equality Home Page.

“We must continue to heed the advice of Harvey Milk and ‘come out’ to everyone we meet as supporters of marriage equality, as LGBT people, as sisters, brothers, parents and friends of gay people,” said Pamela Brown, Marriage Equality USA Policy Director. “Last night, we achieved victories in Washington State and Kalamazoo, seven openly gay candidates won in elections spanning the nation from St. Petersburg, Florida to Salt Lake City, Utah and two are in run-off elections in Houston, Texas and the 58th District in Georgia.

"As people witness same-sex couples happily married in six states, living their lives, mowing their lawn, paying their taxes and as our families become woven into the seamless web of community and citizenship, the injustice of separate of unequal treatment will grow more and more apparent.

To help highlight our common humanity, Marriage Equality USA is launching a stories project, particularly in states where marriage equality is a reality. We want to encourage same-sex couples, their families, straight allies, and other community members to share their experiences on the impact and importance of extending the freedom to marry to all loving, committed couples. The stories we collect will be presented through a digital stories project that we will release during February’s Freedom to Marry month.”

To keep up to date on Don't Ask, Don't Tell, go to Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. It's no secret that I was discharged from the Navy for being gay, well before DADT and it is an issue that still resonates deeply.