Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Kids Get It. Why Don’t Adults?

OMG, as the kids say (via text, of course). Calen, possibly but probably not quite a fifth grader, figures it all out.

Possibly my favorite YouTube video ever.


Filed under: gay rights, , , , , ,

Murakami’s Musical Comrade: Jonny Greenwood

Synergy is a dubious prospect.

Take any two items, two artists, two ingredients (chocolate and peanut butter, anyone?) and hope for the best. Jonny Greenwood’s announcement that he’d be scoring the soundtrack to the film adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s nostalgic novel Norwegian Wood perked up my ears.

Greenwood’s score is an outgrowth of work he composed for the BBC Orchestra:

“I wrote [the] piece mostly in hotels and dressing rooms while touring with Radiohead,” he told TwentyFourBit. “This was more practical than glamorous – lots of time sitting indoors, lots of instruments about – and aside from picking up a few geographical working titles, I [don’t] think that it had any effect where, on tour, it was written.”

Greenwood (of Radiohead fame) and Murakami are two of my favorite artists. The moody, funereal riffs on Greenwood’s soundtrack for There Will Be Blood a few years ago is almost difficult to listen to: the violin strings are like violent pricks to the skin, the elongated musical phrases that echo the frontier landscapes perfectly.

I’m dying to know: How will Greenwood imagine the fictional world of Murakami’s coming-of-age novel, Norwegian Wood? What’s the musical thoughtscape of a shy college student named Toru in late ’60’s Japan? What influence will the Beatles, iconic to Toru and Murakami himself, affect the musician’s score?

Filed under: literature, music, , , , , , ,

Jon Stewart’s “Gaywatch: Virginia Edition”

Getting skewered by Jon Stewart means you’ve reached a certain level of notoriety. Virginia’s AG Kenneth Cuccinelli has achieved this television infamy.

I’ve posted recently about Cuccinelli’s move to discriminate against gays at public colleges and universities. Jon Stewart breaks down Cuccinell’s shameful actions with his characteristic humor.

Adds Stewart in mock exasperation: “What the f**k: You can’t be gay in college? That’s the whole point of going to college.”

Filed under: gay rights, humor, , , , , ,

The Power of Two Men Kissing

What’s in a kiss? How does a photograph of a gay couple kissing differ from written text of the same image?

The Washington Post‘s ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, responded to reader criticism (and subscription cancellations) over a recent front-page photograph of a couple kissing. That the kiss was photographed and published was not the issue; that the kiss involved a same-sex couple was.

Alexander likens the response from outraged Post readers to public anger when photos showed blacks mixing with whites. He defends the Post’s publication of the photograph as a mirror of societal change:

Did the Post go too far? Of course not. The photo deserved to be in newspaper and on its Web site, and it warranted front-page display.

News photos capture reality. And the prominent display reflects the historic significance of what was occurring. The recent D.C. Council decision to approve same-sex marriage was the culmination of a decades-long gay rights fight for equality. Same-sex marriage is now legal in the District. The photo of Ames and Ariga kissing simply showed joy that would be exhibited by any couple planning to wed – especially a couple who previously had been denied the legal right to marry.

More than two dozen readers cancelled their subscriptions. Reasons varied from outright vitriol (one angry caller said: “That kind of stuff makes normal people want to throw up. People have kids who are being exposed to this crap. I will be glad when your rag goes out of business. Real men marry women.”) to the wish to relegate coverage of gay rights to the inner pages of the paper.

Wrote Lee Miller of Columbia: “I would appreciate it if your cover pictures would not be so disturbing where my kids can see it easily on the kitchen table… please don’t shove this “Gay” business in our face. This is something that should have shown up on an inside page or two (without the picture).”

I’m often troubled when arguments of what’s good for children are raised. Two people in healthy relationships expressing their love are depicted in the media constantly–as long as it’s a man and a woman. There’s a double standard–and, as the philosopher Martha Nussbaum recently wrote, a literal disgust–when the two people in love are of the same sex. We can’t stomach the notion of gay sex, and for many, this is what is implied with the image of a kiss.

Though the Washington Post‘s photo generated vocal response, it’s somewhat heartening to know that the end result was only a few cancelled subscriptions. As Alexander notes, there is a societal change happening in perceptions of gay marriage. The newspaper’s reportage of this change, in which LGBT lives are more accepted both in D.C. and on a national level, is valid and unbiased.

Filed under: gay rights, media, , , , ,



» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
March 2010
« Feb   Apr »


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About Me


About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More