Please Save NBC’s “The Voice”

Open Letter Sent To NBC:

Even a casual observer can see and hear the exponential leap into mediocrity The Voice takes as soon as it is opened up to unchecked American audience voting.  Compelling and durable television is smart, unique and inspiring.  But those qualities completely go away when the producers allow the audience to start determining all.  Adam Levine’s notorious lament of frustration last year, “I hate this country” is totally understandable given the overwhelming country music leanings which surface over and over again in the face of audience votes.  A lot of us feel there should be a separate country music version of the show.

Matthew Schuler is one of the most talented artists to emerge anywhere in recent memory. His dismissal last night is the latest harbinger of the show’s inevitable descent into unwatchable wasteland.  The show’s popularity may seem unassailable – but if the producers are smart, they will see the need to change the voting mechanism to temper unbridled audience opinion as the sole driver.  Instead of Twitter, find a way to bring the coaches expertise and opinions back into the equation.  Or maybe there’s a way for the opinions of the initial co-coaches to weigh in at points of elimination.  It is a mistake to suddenly render the celebrity coaches completely impotent at a certain point in the show.  Unfiltered mob rule is always wrong and dumb.  The audience wants and needs the opinions and decisions of the celebrity coaches they revere.

It will be depressing to watch the blind auditions knowing what will inevitably happen to the best and brightest.  The Voice has always been one of my favorites.  But unless there’s  a change in the voting process, I doubt that I will watch next season or ever again.

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Father’s Day

My Dad looked a lot like Barack Obama when he was young.  And like Barack, he saw the world the way he thought it should be instead of the way it was.  As a religious conscientious objector and Army Corporal, my Dad carried an officer’s heavy typewriter on his back during WWII.  He was wounded in a jeep accident and you can still see the deep diagonal scar on his forehead.

When the war was over and my Dad finally came home, the first thing he wanted was a piece of apple pie and ice cream.  And so, on that very first day home, in his country’s capitol of Washinton D.C, still proudly wearing the uniform of the United States armed services, and fresh from wartime duty – my Dad walked into a lunch counter to order a piece of that most American of all symbols of freedom, happiness and just deserts. But as he stood beaming and eagerly awaiting this smallest of rewards, he was turned away and refused service because, as he was told, that lunch counter “just didn’t serve Negroes”.  I was 13 when my Dad shared this story.  He was washing dishes at our kitchen sink and it was the first time I ever saw him cry.

My dear Dad and I now live on opposite sides of the country and we aren’t as close anymore as I think we’d both like to be.  But I worked and volunteered for President Obama so that in his lifetime, my Dad might see a transformed reflection of himself in our nation’s capitol – from lunch counter outcast to White House Commander-in-Chief.

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He Kinda Did Start The Fire

(written in response to the original Mother Of All Bailouts ordered up by George W. just before he left office.  Remember?)

Privatizing Profits, Socializing Losses: The Familiar Face of Terror

Does anyone else smell a rat that’s far bigger than anything brought to light thus far?  The Bush administration has always been adept at using the tactic of fear to motivate action in the direction it prescribes.  The President’s address tonight was a carefully crafted study in sky-is-falling panic inducement. And now McCain is adding his apocalyptic warnings of imminent doom and gloom. What a surprise.  We are too slowly – and too late to save the lives of thousands of Americans and Iraqis – beginning to realize how effective and enormously costly this tactic has been.  Why should we believe for one instant that this 700 billion dollar bailout for their fat cat Wall Street cronies is any different?

This administration knows its days in power are numbered. Its craven and transparent favoritism and imperialistic lack of accountability and integrity have left wholesale wreckage of our nation both at home and abroad. Given that they are going down and on the way out, the possibility that this 11th hour appeal to panic and terror in an already skittish economic environment, begins to look more and more like exactly what one congressman called it:  “The biggest grab for money and power in history.”  Let’s wake up and realize that this is the scene  in the movie where the crooks who are being chased out of town, bamboozle the mayor, the sheriff and the town council into emptying all of the remaining coffers, and paying the bandits’ way to happily ever after on a tropical island somewhere.

We have already demonstrated our squeamishness around impeachment and our hesitancy to pursue any of the Bush gang for war crimes.  So if there’s a slight “miscalculation” or a tad of “over reaction”, and the gargantuan bail out plan actually becomes a catalyst for the epic economic disaster it supposedly is designed to avert – no one will be pursuing or prosecuting anyone.  The players in this administration will be cooling their heels and counting their cash enjoying retirement on a lavish scale.  The rest of us, including the new President, will be a bit too busy fighting for survival to care too much at that point.  And yes, I think the Bush boys know that.

I’m not an economist. But fundamentally this has little to do with economics.  This is about as close to abuse of power and manipulation through terror as the institution of American democracy has ever approached.  There is a somewhat disturbing prediction from Australia’s Kevin Burton and other so-called Pattern Recognition Specialists that a major terrorist attack on the U.S. is highly likely during the final weeks before the Presidential election and that, unlike 9/11, this attack would be quiet and very difficult to detect. The attack, Burton postulates, may already be underway. A bail out is much quieter than a bomb.  And this time we still may not be ready to believe that these terrorists can be found in our own backyard and are actually living in the big White House in Washington D.C.

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Open Letter To Barack Obama

(first published in the online publication of The Advocate, appearing on the front page for over a week in April 2008)

Mr. Obama:

Like you, we are all Americans.  Like you, some of us are men.  Unlike you, some of us are women.  Like you, some of us are African-American.  Unlike you, many of us are not African-American.  Like you, some of us are tall and thin.  Unlike you, some of us are short and wide.  Like you, some of us have spouses, families, and children.  Unlike you, some of us are still single.  Like you, we are Christians.  Unlike you, we are gay and lesbian and bisexual and transgender.

Your and Senator Clinton’s voting and legislative records are for the most part identical on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues and are generally supportive of basic GLBT civil, social, and legal rights and protections.  Although both you and Senator Clinton decline to support gay marriage per se, it is your statements on this issue that seem alienating, divisive, and uninformed and that subtly contribute to the persistence of one of this country’s worst forms of religious persecution and social bigotry.  Even the possibility that you and your platform — wittingly or unwittingly — may contribute to the perpetuation of bigotry and prejudice in any way against anyone is, to our sensibilities, unthinkable.

While you are careful to appear to uphold and defend the GLBT community’s basic safety and legal rights, in a March 25, 2007, Chicago Tribune story that referenced comments you made during your 2004 run for the U.S. Senate, you led off your objections to gay marriage with the statement “I’m a Christian”.  On its own as a part of your personal profile or in answer to a query about your personal beliefs, this statement is both appropriate and informative. But linked to your objections about gay marriage and by extension the gay lifestyle, it serves to entrench modern attitudes of religion-based bigotry and persecution and effectively implies that “gay” and “Christian” are mutually exclusive.  This is not only wrong and uninformed but also flies in the face of the most basic Christian values and beliefs of unconditional love and acceptance.  There are over 500,000 GLBT Christians attending over 200 churches like my church, Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles, as well as hundreds of similar open and affirming churches all over America and around the world.  We do not believe that you or anyone in thought, word, belief, or action can separate us from our religion, our faith, and our rightful place within the heart and love of Jesus Christ.

And while we recognize the sensibilities of many of our fellow Americans concerning the traditional configuration of the institution of marriage, our loving and lifetime commitments to our partners, our families, and our children cannot be diminished in heart and spirit and are fully as valuable and sacred as your own.  Regardless of convention and interpretation of the word marriage, your brave new American Dream must embrace us and our loved ones as sincerely and unconditionally as you have extended it to all other segments of our society.

Considering that you represent and are clearly the preferred candidate for a majority of African-Americans, we are also concerned about the quiet but pervasive problem of homophobia among blacks — a problem that is deeply rooted in the Christian fundamentalist context of many black churches and denominations.  This undercurrent of belief-sanctioned fear and ignorance continues to divide families, separate loved ones, break hearts, and exacerbate the pathology of rejection and social alienation within the black community.

While we vigorously uphold all freedom of religious belief, we also challenge you as the candidate who professes coalition, unity, and visionary change to be willing to work for acceptance of those who appear different and to foster an understanding of the full range of diversity that is not based on personal or religious judgment.  You of all people cannot forget that once upon a time not so long ago, many of those who made the case against civil rights for blacks and who condemned interracial marriage also cited religious beliefs as their justification for separation and conditional treatment.

You and your presidential campaign are living proof of an evolution in the consciousness of a nation.  We are living proof of an evolution unfolding in human consciousness: namely, the awareness that love transcends gender as surely as race and that spirit is not contained by black or white or male or female or any other characteristic of human condition or appearance.  As this nation’s first truly viable African-American candidate for president, you must lead the way against bigotry and prejudice by all names and in all forms.

Mr. Obama, you have clearly stated your reluctance to allow your private religious beliefs to shape your public policy.  This is wise in theory but difficult in practice, because while you are free to interpret your personal religious beliefs in any way you choose, as a talented orator you realize that words are powerful and can also crucially shape both public policy and public opinion.  This letter is not an attempt to change your personal opinions or religious beliefs on this or any other issue, but it is an invitation for you to reexamine your spoken expressions and public statements toward a segment of Americans about whom you clearly evidence a lack of knowledge and experience.  Can we be gay?  Can we be Christian?  Perhaps now, Mr. Obama, you may be a bit more aware of the possibilities and the answer that must include us all in your visionary new world: Yes, We Can.

Sincerely,

Ann Canas, one of over a half million worldwide members of the Christian GLBT Community
Los Angeles

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a blog is the ultimate individual avatar formed by words in lieu of pixels.  a personal kaleidoscopic playspace of unlimited parameters.  relevance is often irrelevant.  resonance is often restive.  recognition is usually random.  a blog is an opportunity to create and define your world in words, and accept or reject modification as you see fit.  a blog is an exercise in enthusiasm, conviction,  faith, and  fun.

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