Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Out and About – Winter 2018-2019

Well, the spring equinox has been and gone. . . . High time, then, to take a look back over the recently ended winter in Minnesota. And what a winter it was!

But first, regular readers will be familiar with my "Out and About" series, one that I began in April 2007 as a way of documenting my life as an “out” gay man, seeking to be all “about” the Spirit-inspired work of embodying God’s justice and compassion in the world. I've continued the series in one form or another for the last 11 years – in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 . . . and now into 2019.

So let's get started with this latest installment . . .

In the image above, I'm pictured at the February 23, 2019 rally in Minneapolis which saw approximately 100 people gather to voice opposition to the Trump administration's rhetoric of “regime change” in Venezuela and talk of seizing that country's vast oil reserves (the largest in the world).

For me it was important to take a stand against what looks and sounds like yet another build-up to an illegal U.S.-led invasion of a sovereign nation. It was also a way to stand in solidarity with the majority of Venezuelans who oppose both U.S. military intervention and sanctions. For more on both this event and issue, click here.

Last September I began working part-time as the Palliative Care Chaplain at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, MN. That position went full-time in January.

Above: With fellow members of Mercy Hospital's Palliative Care team – March 2019.

Above: A portrait of my boyfriend Brent, whom I've been dating since October 2015. Did I capture him in a moment of deep reflection? Of prayerful introspection? . . . No, he's checking his phone. 🤣

Above: Also checking his phone is my friend Mahad. I took this pic when we were out on the evening of Wednesday, January 2, 2019.

In mid-December I moved house. I'm still in south Minneapolis, close to Minnehaha Creek, but a few blocks east of where I was on the 52nd block of 2nd Ave South.

Pictured above is my new housemate Connie and my friend Deandre (with Connie's cat Charley on his lap!) – Saturday, January 19, 2019.

Above: My room in my new south Minneapolis home – January 2019. And trust me, it's not always this tidy.

Above and left: On the evening of Saturday, March 3, 2019, my friend Deandre came over and put together for me a desk I'd bought at IKEA!

Later that night a winter storm came through, ensuring that everything the next day looked like a winter wonderland!

Above: Charley – January 2019.

Above: With friends Darlene & Tom, Kathleen, Brigid, and Nikki – December 2018.

Above: At a dinner hosted by my friends George and John on Saturday, February 9, 2019. From left: Brent, Joan, Matt, John, and George.

Celebrating Christmas 2018 with friends in Minneapolis (above) and St. Paul (below).

For The Wild Reed's Advent 2018 series, "Guidelines for the Advent of a Universal Mysticism," click here

For the special Wild Reed post, "Christmas 2018 – Reflections and Celebrations," click here.

Above, right, and below: Celebrating Amelia's 5th birthday . . . with snakes! – Saturday, January 19, 2019

My friends Pete and Jeffrey hosted the eighth Queer Movie Night on Saturday, February 2, 2019. The film we watched and discussed was the 2015 Spanish-language Irish drama film, Viva.

Pictured above are Joan, George, John, Hae, and Matt.

Directed by Paddy Breathnach and written by Mark O'Halloran, Viva is set in modern-day Cuba and tells the story of a young drag performer (played by Héctor Medina) who must come to terms with his sexuality after reuniting with his estranged father.

Viva was selected as the Irish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards. It made the shortlist of nine films, but it was not nominated.

Film critic Deirdre Molumby notes that the film’s screenwriter Mark O’Halloran “looks at marginalized figures in society and exercises the minimalism he demonstrated in his previous work. . . . Very little actually happens in Viva and there is a tangible sense of realism in this. We are given a real insight into the place, its characters, and are granted a much more satisfying cinematic experience which opposes escapist fantasy as a result. At heart, Viva is an age old story about being true to oneself. But with its talented cast, stunning Cuban backdrop, and slowly enrapturing screenplay, it is one with a difference.”

For more about our Queer Movie Night series, click here.

Above: Jeffrey and Pete – Saturday, February 2, 2019.

Above: At Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis with friends Kathleen and Brian for the Minnesota Orchestra's 16th Annual Young Composer Institute, showcasing the work of seven young composers – January 18, 2019.

Above and left: On Saturday, February 16, I joined with several hundred others in Minneapolis for a rally and march against President Donald Trump's declaration of a State of Emergency by which he intends funding the building of a wall on the southern U.S./Mexico border. Those who rallied view the building of this wall, a pet project of Trump since his presidential campaign in 2016, as an appeal to his base and as a means of further promoting his racist, anti-immigrant agenda.

For more about both this event and issue, click here.

Above: An Oscars night gathering with (from left) Jeffrey, Pete, Brent, George, and John – Sunday, February 24, 2019.

Right: With friends George and John. I'm wearing a Black Panther t-shirt as I was hoping that this film would nab the Best Picture Oscar. It lost to Green Book.

For more about Black Panther at The Wild Reed, click here, here, here, here and here.

Above: Pete and Jeffrey, filling out their Oscars ballot – February 24, 2019.

Above and below: I have to say that I found this past winter to be a particularly hard one!

For more images and commentary on my experience of it, click here, here, here, and here.

Above: My friend Adnan, with whom on March 31, 2019 I spent time at Diamond Lake in south Minneapolis. Here we enjoyed the warmth of the sun in that in-between time well known to Minnesotans. It's that time when the snow and ice of winter have mostly gone but the greening of spring is yet to take place. . . . Oh, and on that day, too, I introduced Adnan to ginger ale! And, yes, he liked it.

NEXT: Spring and Summer 2019

Winter 2018-2019 Wild Reed posts of note:
Brigit Anna McNeill on the Meaning of Winter Solstice Time
Forbidden Lover
Something to Think About (and Celebrate)
Christmas in America, 2018
Christmas 2018 – Reflections and Celebrations
A Blessing for the New Year
Midnight Garden
A Prayer for the Moment Between
Michael Greyeyes’ Latest Film Provides a “New Understanding of How History Repeats”
For a Loved One Struggling With Addiction
Remembering Mary Oliver’s Queer Pagan Spirit
Nakhane’s Hymn to Freedom
“Something Special,” Indeed
Talkin’ ’Bout An Evolution: Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid
Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate
Remembering and Celebrating Carl Anderson
Carl Anderson: “Pure Quality”
Carl Anderson’s Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar: “The Gold Standard”
Carl Anderson’s Judas: “A Two-Dimensional Popular Villain Turned Into a Complex Human Being”
Carl Anderson: “Artist and Vocalist Extraordinaire”
Playbill Remembers Carl
Remembering the Life of Carl Anderson: “There Was So Much Love”
In the Abode of the Heart
Daniel Hochman on What Causes Addiction
Saying “No” to Trump’s “Patently Illegal Power Grab”
Happy Birthday, Buffy!
A New Snowfall Record
A Call to Halt an Illegal Invasion of Venezuela
Remembering Dusty, 20 Years On
Progressive Perspectives on the Ilhan Omar “Controversy”
President Trump, “We Hold You Responsible”
Prayer of the Week – March 17, 2019
Winter . . . Within and Beyond

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Out and About – Autumn 2018
Out and About – Summer 2018
Out and About – Spring 2018 (Part I)
Out and About – Spring 2018 (Part II)
Out and About – Winter 2017-2018

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Remembering and Celebrating Dusty

Before the month of April ends, I want to acknowledge and celebrate the late, great Dusty Springfield (1939-1999) who, if still with us, would have turned 80 on April 16. (In the images above and below, Dusty is shown recording the album that would turn out to be her last, 1995's A Very Fine Love.)

My interest in and admiration for Dusty is well documented here at The Wild Reed, most notably in Soul Deep, one of my very first posts. Other previous posts worth investigating, especially if you're new to Dusty, are Dusty Springfield: Queer Icon, which features an excerpt from Laurence Cole's book, Dusty Springfield: In the Middle of Nowhere; Celebrating Dusty (2017), which features an excerpt from Patricia Juliana Smith's insightful article on Dusty's “camp masquerades”; Celebrating Dusty (2013), which features excerpts from Annie J. Randall's book, Dusty!: Queen of the Postmods; Remembering Dusty, my 2009 tribute to Dusty on the tenth anniversary of Dusty's death; and Remembering Dusty, 20 Years On, my tribute this year on the twentieth anniversary of her death.

And, of course, off-site there's my website dedicated to Dusty, Woman of Repute (currently only accessible through the Internet archive service, The Way Back Machine).

My website's name is derived from Dusty's 1990 album Reputation, and as I explain in Soul Deep, it was this album that introduced me not only to Dusty's music but also to her life and journey – much of which resonated deeply with me. Indeed, my identification with aspects of Dusty's journey played an important role in my coming out as a gay man.

In honor of the April 16 80th anniversary of Dusty's birth, I share today a few of my favorite images of Dusty, accompanied by a series quotes about her that I first shared on the introduction page of Woman of Repute. I also share today one of my favorite recordings of Dusty's, the rather obscure "I Believe in You."

Recorded in 1971 for Dusty's third album with Atlantic Records in the U.S., the languid and blusey “I Believe in You” was one of two single releases from these sessions, the other being “Haunted.” Both failed to chart. Soon after, a rumored falling out with company executives lead to Dusty's contract with the label not being renewed. The album suffered an even crueler fate; it was shelved and never given a catalogue number or title, though “Faithful” had been its working title, taken from the name of one of the album's tracks, “I'll Be Faithful.”

A fire in the mid-1970s at one of Atlantic's storage sites was thought to have destroyed the “Faithful” session tapes, leaving only the two singles (and possible third single) and their b-sides from the sessions intact. However, in the 1990s the album's producer, Jeff Barry, was asked about the sessions and revealed he had kept completed stereo mixes of all the tracks. Most were released as bonus tracks on the Rhino/Atlantic deluxe remastered edition of Dusty in Memphis in 1999, though “Someone Who Cares” and “Nothing is Forever” had been released on Springfield's UK-only 1972 album See All Her Faces.

In April 2015, Faithful was released as a proper album, forty-four years after its planned release was shelved, with an additional bonus track, “Nothing Is Forever,” which was the B-side to the aforementioned single “Haunted.”

Additionally, Faithful marks Springfield's 14th studio album release, chronologically speaking, first in two decades, and first posthumous release.

It's gone way beyond just lovin'
And for a long time now
It's been more than just a thrill
Oh, honey, I believe in you.

. . . I've waited a long time
To have me this feelin'
A Sunday kind of feeling
All peaceful and out of sight
Oh, honey, I believe in you . . .


Maybe it's the sultriness. The urgency in the gentlest whisper, the subtlety in her boldest proclamations of love, loss, heartache, and ascendancy. Maybe it's the way she can capture both the ecstasy of the afterglow and the despair of a breakup's aftershock. But there is something about Dusty Springfield that makes her contribution to pop music - hell, to life - particular, peerless. There are plenty of divas, plenty of blue-eyed soul sisters, but there is only one Dusty, and when I think about it there is no other singer who reaches me in so many ways so deeply as Dusty. . . . While remaining incredibly true to her own sensibility and spirit, no other singer has as effortlessly proven that soul is not a matter of color or nationality but of feeling. Dusty knows not just the look of love but also its essence.

Barry Walters
American writer

The way she looked was easy to impersonate -
the panda eyes and the bouffant hair.
But the voice was impossible to imitate.
Dusty was the perfect pop singer.

Petula Clark
Legendary British vocalist

Being the first British artist to chase The Beatles up the U.S. charts, Dusty used her celebrity to champion the cause of soul music in England, bringing over Motown acts [including Martha and the Vandellas] before anyone had heard of them and featuring them on her TV specials. Her affinity with blacks didn't stop with their music. In 1964, she was deported from South Africa after refusing to perform for segregated audiences, long before apartheid was a cause celebre. "I wasn't making any major statements," she told the British press. "I just thought it was morally the right thing to do." If that isn't textbook soul, it ought to be.

Serene Dominic
American music critic

She didn't write the songs, and if you had never heard her sing, you could argue Dusty was a '60s version of the non-writing, so-called divas of today, the Celine Dions, Mariah Careys, et al. But the difference is that she was an interpreter, not just someone who hit the right notes. Like Sinatra, she didn't write the songs but she sounded as if she had lived them.

– Bernard Zuel
Australian music critic

[Dusty's voice] stirred up strange feelings and mysterious longings, unearthing anything you thought was buried for good. It was the voice of experience. . . . [She] refused to indulge in anything as ordinary as excess. Her voice could sound as big as a hurricane, but the British pop icon never blew a tune away just because she could. She used her power sparingly, unleashing the gospel diva within only when necessary. She treated the songs she recorded like scripts, and she negotiated their emotional peaks and valleys like an Oscar-winning Sherpa. No wonder songwriters loved her. . . . Whether she was holding back ot letting her big voice fly, Dusty Springfield sang like a woman whose interior life was as rich as the melodramas she played out on vinyl. She sang with intelligence and intuition. She gave the songs room to breathe, but she always made them her own.

Karla Peterson
American music critic

Dusty Springfield's voice wafts through her recordings like smoke, spiraling into shadowy plumes, echoing in a sexy mist. Listening to her records, you can never quite locate the center of her voice. She seems to be everywhere and nowhere in the song, permeating the pianos, vibrating between violin strings. It's a bewitching mix of messages her voice exudes, expressing both power in its barreling range and vulnerability in its airy tone. Match a sound that engrossing to top-rank material, brilliantly ornamental arrangements, and a singer decked out like a Christmas tree, and you've got a certified legend on your hands . . . Dusty's authority comes through in more than just her honed persona. It also rings through the command of her voice. What other singer could combine the power of Barbra Streisand, the grace of Julie London and the soul of Martha Reeves? That Dusty can explains why her songs will always appeal to anyone who ever had a heart.

Jim Farber
British music critic

Most of the queer boy bands of contemporary rock music, as well as such androgynous or sexually ambiguous women performers as Annie Lennox, Allison Moyet, Chrissie Hynde, and even Madonna, demonstrate the musical, visual or aesthetic influence of Dusty Springfield, one of the first women in rock who dared to 'strike a pose.'

– Patricia Juliana Smith
Author and editor of The Queer Sixties

She's unique, alien, an enigmatic amalgamation
of black soul and Brit melodrama,
private passions and popular myth,
fantasy and reality.

Who was Dusty?
Did she ever really exist?
What did it all mean?
Now all we have is the music.
Just listen to the music.

– Christian Ward
British music critic/writer

Related Off-site Links:
Remembering the “White Queen of Soul” on the 80th Anniversary of Her Birth (Part 1)Daily Kos (April 16, 2019).
Remembering the “White Queen of Soul” on the 80th Anniversary of Her Birth (Part 2)Daily Kos (April 16, 2019).
Remembering Dusty Springfield on What Would Have Been Her 80th BirthdayAlbumism (April 16, 2019).
Rediscovered: Dusty Springfield’s Faithful – Ken Paulson (Americana Music News, April 25, 2015).
The Unexpected Historical New Release from Miss Dusty Springfield – Faithful – David Cocas (The Real Music Divas, April 15, 2015).

For more of Dusty at The Wild Reed, see:
Soul Deep
Dusty Springfield: Queer Icon
Remembering Dusty, 20 Years On
Remembering Dusty (2018)
Celebrating Dusty (2017)
Celebrating Dusty (2013)
Remembering Dusty (2009)
Remembering Dusty – 14 Years On
Remembering Dusty – 11 Years On
The Other "Born This Way"
Time and the River
Remembering a Great Soul Singer
A Song and Challenge for 2012
The Sound of Two Decades Colliding