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Joyce Brabner’s ‘Second Avenue Caper: When Goodfellas, Divas, And Dealers Plotted Against The Plague’: Book Review

BY GARTH GREENWELL

SecondavenueJoyce Brabner’s nonfiction graphic novel recounts the early years of the AIDS crisis as experienced by a tight-knit circle of “gay artists, writers, actors, musicians, dyke activists, drag queens,” who respond to the devastation of the disease with acts of remarkable daring and generosity. 

Brabner’s story centers on Ray, a struggling playwright who earns his living as a nurse. When a doctor he works with offers to hook him up with his “connections in Mexico” in “a potentially beneficial business deal,” Ray begins selling pot to his circle of friends. “The NEA isn’t giving grants to Avant queers,” his partner Ben reasons. “This is our Colombian Arts Council Grant!”

They’re careful to sell only to people they know, and we meet Ray’s vibrant circle of friends, most of them artists, writers, and performers—among them Brabner herself—as they come to his apartment to buy weed. “Fabulous herb…fabulous fantasies…and fabulous friends,” Ray muses, and his apartment becomes the site of “a celebratory, slightly stoned, queer-communal pleasure.”

BrabnerThese early pages of the book are exuberantly joyful, as Ray’s apartment is packed with friends eating and drinking and smoking together, playing games and singing songs, throwing out ideas for plays and musicals, and above all gossiping, cattily and lovingly. Mark Zingarelli’s direct and emotive illustrations capture beautifully the intimacy and trust between these queer outsiders, who create a rich and sustaining family for themselves.

The strength of that community will be tested by the new disease afflicting Ray’s patients. He cares for a man who is “the 24th known case” of what would eventually be called AIDS, and as the scope of the crisis becomes clear, he calls on his friends to “locate gay doctors, researchers, people with some medical training,” quickly creating a network both for information gathering and for providing care to those caught by the wave of infections that sweeps through Ray’s community.

Ray is terrified by the speed with which he loses his friends. “One went so suddenly,” he says, “we knew about it only when we learned he had been buried in a potter’s grave because no one had come to claim him.”

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Alaska News Reporter and Marijuana Advocate Quits On-Air In Dramatic Fashion: WATCH

Greene

In a bid to help drum up support for Alaska's Ballot Measure 2 - which would legalize recreational pot use in the state - Anchorage news reporter Charlo Greene announced on-air that she would be quitting her broadcast job to devote all her energy to the green cause. 

“Now everything you've heard is why I, the actual owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all of my energy toward fighting for freedom and fairness, which begins with legalizing marijuana here in Alaska," she said. "And as for this job, well, not that I have a choice but, f--k it, I quit.”

Watch the segment and a video of Greene explaining why she quit, AFTER THE JUMP...(warning: language)

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Short Film '420' Celebrates The HomoStoner Lifestyle: VIDEO

Homostoners

Jacob Brown's new short film "420" is straightforward, sexy, and psychedelic. A prolonged, lip-lock-filled toking session, the movie aims to promote respect and acknowledgement of a hybrid cultural niche: that of the 'homostoner'. One part homosexual, one part stoner, both parts woozy fun, the film is a fantasia acted out by a real-life couple.

Brown's Vimeo descriptions reads:

In the past few years, mainstream America has warmed to two formerly taboo trends: gay rights and marijuana. New York boyfriends Carlos Santolalla and John Tuite sit at the intersection of the two––their shared Instagram handle @jarlos420 is a showcase of their homostoner lifestyle. This video celebrates 420 and homoeroticism. “It’s about how weed can act as an aphrodisiac,” Santolalla explains. “A fantasy about when ‘lemme hit that’ becomes ‘lemme hit that.’”

Enjoy the short film, AFTER THE JUMP...

(Warning: work-unfriendly)

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Thursday Speed Read: Clay Aiken, Closeted on the Job, Heather Mizeur, Maryland, HIV Criminalization

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

AikenAIKEN VICTORY STILL PENDING:

North Carolina election officials will review the outcome of the Congressional District 2 Democratic primary race on May 15, after they’ve had a chance to tally in absentee and challenged ballots. As of Wednesday afternoon, openly gay candidate Clay Aiken, of American Idol fame, held just over 40 percent of the vote with a 369-vote lead over businessman Keith Crisco.

53 PERCENT CLOSETED ON THE JOB:

A report released Wednesday by the Human Rights Campaign’s educational arm says that 53 percent of LGBT people keep their sexual orientation secret at their places of employment. According to the report, only 17 states and Washington, D.C., have laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Another four states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation only. The report, “The Cost of the Closet and the Rewards of Inclusion,” surveyed 800 LGBT workers and an unspecified number of non-LGBT workers.

MizeurMIZEUR HANDLES FIRST DEBATE:

Openly lesbian Maryland gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur stayed above the fray and focused like a laser on the need to increase the minimum wage and the virtues of legalizing marijuana. Mizeur, a delegate in the state House, was participating Wednesday night in the first debate in the three-way race for the Democratic nomination June 24. Mizeur ranks behind both Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler in polls. But a transcript of the debate published by the Washington Post, indicates Mizeur managed a solid performance.

MarijuanaMARIJUANA FOR CHILDREN?

At one point during Wednesday night’s debate, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur was questioned about her support for legalizing marijuana. She noted, among other things, that legalization could provide tax revenue to pay for a universal pre-Kindergarten. Mizeur then added that it would send “an important message about the fact that this is a substance that is arguably less harmful to the body than alcohol and tobacco.” That awkward juxtaposition of pre-Kindergarten and marijuana being “arguably less harmful” apparently prompted this question from moderator David Gregory of Meet the Press: “Are you comfortable saying to the children of this state, ‘marijuana’s okay’?” “We’re not saying that to the children of this state,” replied Mizeur, noting that, in fact, her plan calls for spending $4 million a year to make sure children know marijuana is a “a very dangerous substance for a developing mind.”

HolderREPORT URGES DOJ ACTION:

A report Wednesday from a coalition of groups working on fair treatment of people by the criminal justice system recommends the U.S. Department of Justice amend its guidelines to stop profiling of LGBT people and people with HIV by federal law enforcement agents. The “Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations for Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People with HIV,” was developed by former NGLTF Executive Director Urvashi Vaid and former AIDS Project Director at Lambda Legal Catherine Hanssens and others. DOJ announced in January it would revise its rules for federal agents to prohibit the use of sexual orientation and other characteristics to prompt investigations. In April, Attorney General Eric Holder said the department would begin to collect data on people stopped or arrested to “reduce” the possible effects of bias. But he did not make specific mention of LGBT bias. In a preface to the coalition report, former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous notes that New York City police have used “stop and frisk” practices against LGBT people. Another of the Roadmap’s authors, Andrea Ritchie, co-coordinator of the LGBT group Streetwise and Safe, said the coalition members have spoken with DOJ about some of their recommendations and look forward to conversations in the future.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Stephen Colbert On The Link Between Gay Marriage And Marijuana: VIDEO

Weed

As many of you may know, come January 1 it will be legal to purchase marijuana in Colorado. Stephen Colbert, meanwhile, is none to pleased with this because, he argues, marijuana leads to that "other moral sinkhole slowly swallowing America": gay marriage.

As Colbert put its, if "you've got the munchies bad enough, you'll put anything in your mouth."

Watch Colbert discuss Satan's oregano AFTER THE JUMP...

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Pastor Blames Colorado Floods on Gays, Marijuana, and Abortion Rights: AUDIO

Colorado Pastor Kevin Swanson, in a talk with Generations Radio co-host Dave Buehner, blamed the deadly Colorado floods on "decadent homosexual activity" (offering the example of a kiss between Denver House Speaker Mark Ferrandino and his partner which appeared on the front of the Denver Post), abortion and marijuana rights, Right Wing Watch reports.

SwansonSays Swanson:

Let me ask you this: is it a coincidence that this was the worst year politically in the history of Colorado, at least if you use God’s law as a means of determining human ethics, our legislators did the worst possible things this year than I have ever witnessed in the twenty years I’ve been in Colorado. Our legislators committed homosexual acts on the front page of the Denver Post, do you remember that? So here we have the very worst year in Colorado’s year in terms of let’s kill as many babies as possible, let’s make sure we encourage as much decadent homosexual activity as possible, let’s break God’s law with impudence at every single level, at every single level let’s make sure that we offend whoever wrote the Bible, so we have the worst year possible politically in the state of Colorado and it happens to be the worst year ever in terms of flood and fire damage in Colorado’s history. That is a weird coincidence; interesting to say the least.

Swanson then goes on to also name marijuana as another cause.

Listen, AFTER THE JUMP...

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