Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pride Day Song of the Day - Same Love - Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay,
'Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She's like "Ben you've loved girls since before pre-k, trippin' "
Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn't she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.

Happy Pride Day!  Today is New York City's Gay Pride Parade, the culmination of a week-long celebration that's the biggest in the world.  The events in the Supreme Court this week have given cause for even more celebration, more pride, as a long, hard battle for equal rights has been won.


I remember doing the math like, "Yeah, I'm good at little league"
A preconceived idea of what it all meant
For those that liked the same sex
Had the characteristics

This will be the third time that I am featuring this song as Song of the Day in a relatively short period of time, but I can think of no better tune to represent this day, and I feature the lyrics here because they're so profound, especially coming from a straight ally who's so popular right now.

The right wing conservatives think it's a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don't know
And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago
I don't know

There is a guest vocalist in this song, Mary Lambert, who sings the chorus in such a way she hearkens back to the folk singers on the sixties and seventies who so often spoke out for their own causes.  Her voice is beautiful and melodic, and the words ring so true for anyone who is gay.

And I can't change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can't change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love, my love, my love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

Then Macklemore goes on the attack against a community who's harsh rhetoric hidden behind lyrics often goes unnoticed and unspoken, who's fraternity regularly demonizes "faggots" and the like.  Like the rapper says, it's actually surprising being that this particular community comes from a place of oppression, yet their words fan the flames of oppression upon the gay community...

If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
"Man, that's gay" gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we're saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don't have acceptance for 'em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser

It's the same hate that's caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It's human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself

The song continues with words never truer spoken.  It's advice we all need to take, no matter what our prejudices may be.  Though I've never really been the object of such discrimination personally, the fact that it happens gives me a pain in my heart, and no one deserves to face ridicule just because of how they were born, whether it's skin color, gender, or sexual orientation.

We press play, don't press pause
Progress, march on
With the veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
Till the day that my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking 'round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn't gonna solve it all
But it's a damn good place to start
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it's all the same love
About time that we raised up

So please press play. The song is really very good.  Happy Pride Day to everybody, and if you happen to be LGBT, or even just different in any way, stand up and be proud of who you are...

And I can't change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can't change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love, my love, my love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pride Song of the Day - Love You Better - God-Des & She


After a little fiasco with yesterday's Song of the Day posting (the video has been posted now!), I hope things are back to normal with this one.  Today's song is from a couple of years ago, and it was very, very popular with Logo viewers, who voted it #1 for 15 straight weeks just a couple of years ago.  I've always loved this tune, a little bit of hip hop, a little bit of soul, and a great jam playin' in the background!  Enjoy!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Flashback Friday Pride Week Song of the Day - Another Man - Barbara Mason

Here's a song from 1984 with a kinda unique story....well, for its time anyway.  Check out the first couple of verses and you'll see what I mean:

Do you remember when I said
she's got the papers and I've got the man

But the man that she had, that I took from her

Is not the manchild that we thought he was at all

Caught in the middle I don't know what to do
What can you do when your man is untrue
There's another man oh baby
in my life (in my life)
He looked very normal till I opened my eyes
The man I loved and married loves another guy
There's another man (Another man) in my life
Oh in my life, Oh ah

Yes, poor Barbara!  She just realized her man was a friend of Dorothy and she just doesn't know what to do.  Ooh child!  Anyway, this is a problem that's been plaguing women probably for centuries, and all they've needed to do all along was open their eyes, like Miss Barbara does here.

I had gone out one day and bought me a very, very sexy dress

and opened up my closet and it had dissapeared

Lord I hope the man is not wearing my...oooh child

And I also pick up other little things

like you and I making love the other night

I thought he was calling out my name
but it evidently it was not my name

And I passed him on the steps one day
And he was switching more than I was
And I even caught him holding hands
walking right down market street
we all know what market street is

Mm, hmm, sista knows what time it is.  Anyway, this sort of thing happens even today, and in a couple of the cases I know of personally, it's hard to believe the girl had no idea.  I mean really?  It's a shame that such people don't have a clue!

Anyway, throw in some funky, bassy beats and a catchy chorus to this one and you've got one funky 80's tune with that lil bit of humor thrown in for good measure.

Another man is beating my time (Another man is beating my time)

Another man is lovin mine (Another man is lovin mine)

Another man is beating my time (Another man)
Another man is lovin mine (Another man is lovin mine)

Anyway, click play below and take a listen.  It is quite good and quite funny, too!

Pride Weekend!  Get out there and show off yours!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pride Week Special Song of the Day - Marry You - Glee Cast

It's a beautiful night 
We're looking for something dumb to do 
Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you...

"Love Is Love" -Barack Obama, the second-term first African American President said on the day the Supreme Court made huge strides toward equality for gay people. Its an exciting time to live in. 

Two years and three days ago, the State of New York made the Marriage Equality Act a reality, legalizing same sex marriage in the state.  It was a joyous occasion for many LGBT's out there, and  it came just in time for the NYC Pride Parade, which broke records for attendance.

The ensuing celebration was joyous, to say the least.  It was in fact the most joyous ever, but even back then things weren't totally right yet.  At the time, New York was only the 6th state to recognize same sex marriages, and only a couple have followed suit since.  With yesterday's ruling by the Supreme Court, both the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Prop 8 were invalidated, clearing the way for same sex couples everywhere to legally join in the state of marriage just like everybody else.

As I've been saying for a long, long time, those arguing against gay marriage have done so with religious ideologies in mind.  However, the institution of marriage has two definitions, both a religious one and a legal one, with many rights and privileges previously only afforded to heterosexual couples.  That is the one we've been after, and finally we can now stand on equal ground.

So New York City's Gay Pride Parade is this Sunday, and I'm sure that two year old attendance record will be broken, and I will be there just like I was then.  And for those who still feel strongly against gay marriage?  Just listen to the lyrics of this song and you'll see that that "something dumb to do," we can also finally do now.  So there!

[GLEE] Full Performance of 'Marry You' — 2x08, Furt from Wellington Vargas Gomes on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013's "#willpower" Track Reviews: "Far Away From Home," with Nicole Sherzinger


As we finally make our way towards the end of the tracks on #willpower, which, by the way, I am listening to more and more as I do these reviews, we come to track #14, my absolute favorite!  Far Away From Home is a mid tempo song that features the vocals of Pussycat Doll Nicole Sherzinger, and there's something about the tune, with it's storytelling verses and uplifting chorus that makes me hit the rewind button every time I take a listen.  Absolutely love it!  Luckily, there's an audio for it on DailyMotion that lets me share it right here.  Check it out... - Far Away From Home (Audio) (Explicit) by WoudaRecords

Did ya like it?  Ooh, I'm pressing play again!  Anyway, check out the lyrics below and my other reviews of the tracks on #willpower:

Good Morning

Far Away From Home

She comes from a small town,
She would've stole her mom's car
Crazy baby, she says she gonna make it far uptown,
She wanna be a superstar right now.

She says she gonna throw a party wild
She wanna be on movie screens,
Pretty baby, she made it on that magazine,
Tuck down, she ain't the only one,
This happens all the time and it goes on and on and on.

Let's go far away from home,
Run on a rocket,
Come down the boulevard, burning it up.
Let's go far away from home,
Run on a rocket,
Come down the boulevard, burning it up.

I wanna run away from home,
I don't wanna think about it,
Run baby, run, I don't wanna think about it.
Run away from home,
I don't wanna think about it,
Come down the boulevard, burning it up.

[Verse 2:]
He's a boy from the ghetto,
He wanna buy his momma a house
Little baby, he's trying to move her up that town
Got a job, he's selling drugs, but she don't know
Momma's proud.
He said he's going to Hollywood,
Up on a hill next to the nail
Sister know now, she's mad as hell, but she won't tell,
Mama, he ain't the only one, this happens all the time
And it goes on and on and on.

Let's go far away from home,
Run on a rocket,
Come down the boulevard, burning it up.
Let's go far away from home,
Run on a rocket,
Come down the boulevard, burning it up.

I wanna run away from home,
I don't wanna think about it,
Run baby, run, I don't wanna think about it.
Run away from home,
I don't wanna think about it,
Come down the boulevard, burning it up.

Run on a rocket ship,
Run on a rocket ship,
Run on a rocket ship,
Run on a rocket ship.

Let's go far away from home,
Run on a rocket,
Come down the boulevard, burning it up.
Let's go far away from home,
Run on a rocket,
Come down the boulevard, burning it up.

I wanna run away from home,
I don't wanna think about it,
Run baby, run, I don't wanna think about it.
Run away from home,
I don't wanna think about it,
Come down the boulevard, burning it up.

Let's go far away from home,
Run on a rocket,
Come down the boulevard, burning it up.
Let's go far away from home,
Run on a rocket,
Come down the boulevard, burning it up.

I wanna run away from home,
I don't wanna think about it,
Run baby, run, I don't wanna think about it.
Run away from home,
I don't wanna think about it,
Come down the boulevard, burning it up.

Pride Song of the Day - Vogue - Madonna


One of the gayest tunes of all time....Happy Hump Day!

Madonna - Vogue by zocomoro

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pride Week Song of the Day - Some Lovin' - Kristine W.


Anybody out there remember Queer as Folk? Or Kristine W?  Well I sure do, and this song, if I remember correctly, helped open up the third season of the series, and the cast members all did cameos in the vid alongside Ms. W., who's always had one helluva voice.  Oh, I miss those guys, Michael, Brian and Justin, Emmett, Ben, Melanie and Lindsay, Uncle Vic, and of course Debbie Novotny, played by Sharon Gless.  What a great show that was!

Kristine W - Some Lovin' by iryaangelus's "#willpower" Track Reviews: "Love Bullets," featuring Skylar Grey

The 13th track on #willpower is a slow-moving love ballad that features the vocals of singer/songwriter Skylar Grey.  It's one I usually skip when I'm's alright, but just a bit too slow for me.  Eh!  Take a listen to Love Bullets.

Check out my reviews of the first 12 tracks on #willpower:

Good Morning

Monday, June 24, 2013

Time to start living again

Thirteen years ago, I made a huge change in my life. It started with me quitting my job at Citibank and deciding to go back to college to become a teacher. Obviously, it was a time of great change for me. Around the same time I was feeling adventurous and alive, and I had also set my mind on going to Italy for the first time. I was determined, and worked out ways to save enough money to pay for the trip and for college.

 Life for me was way different back then. Of course, I was younger, but I was also in an established relationship and things were much easier in a lot of ways. A lot of things have changed for me in the years since, and I've been feeling like I've stopped being adventurous. My pal Rich says it's natural to become a little more conservative as you get older, but hell, I'm not that old! A couple of years ago I decided that I was at a crossroads in my life. I was contemplating selling my house and moving to New York City, something I'd still like to do, but unfortunately the economy got in my way. Ever since that time, I've felt a little lost, just living life trying to stay afloat financially...and not taking chances. It's affected my social life as well, where I've made myself too busy for any sort of romance, shunning people away without really giving them a chance. In other words, I've been playing it safe and keeping myself busy to make sure of that, which to me is not living. With that said, I'm hoping that things are about to change...

Me and Jorge at his farewell party

It all started with a Facebook chat with my friend Jorge, with whom I had become a really good friend of mine a few years back. Jorge had decided upon losing his job that he was destined to return to his native country Chile, and two and a half years ago, he made that brave move (and I got his car!). Luckily, we've had Facebook to keep in touch ever since and be kept up on one another's lives. A couple of weeks ago I decided to ask him how he was doing...out of the blue. 

That question turned into a mini-conversation, and of course, the "When are you coming to Chile?" question came up. I responded that I'd love to visit and that maybe I'll start saving my pennies. At the time, it was just a requisite answer, but later on that night I laid in bed thinking about my trip to Italy and going back to college and well, what not. I decided that I wanted to do it...go to Chile. Maybe it would be another jumping off point for me, a new way for me to grab life by the balls and just live it. I messaged Jorge the next day to tell him.

Are you f'ing kidding me?, was his immediate response.

I assured him that I wasn't, and we decided to speak within the next couple of weeks to discuss it.  Finally last night I had the chance to speak with Jorge live and in person and he was as excited about me coming as I was about going.  As we spoke, I booked my reservation.

So I am going to Chile, South America, the other side of the world.  It'll be a long flight, but I'll worry about that when it comes.  I'll be visiting Jorge and his partner Rodrigo during the Christmas break, and I'll be there for both La Navidad and the New Year.  If you had asked me even just a month ago if I ever thought I would ever go to Chile, I would've said probably never, but here I go.  I think it's time to start living again!

Stay tuned...

Pride Week Song of the Day - I Love a Man in a Uniform - Gang of Four


Today is the first day of NYC Pride Week, and we'll be celebrating here with with special songs of the week an gay old twist.  Here's one from 1982 that's a little punk, a lot of new wave, and very gay, lol.  Happy Pride Week!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Song of the Day - S&M - Rihanna


Oh, I am so in a dancing mood this weekend!

Na na na na na c'mon! 

Happy Sunday!

Rihanna - SM (Official Music Video) [HD] by Henrietta-Aime-Fumer_Tv

Saturday, June 22, 2013

My Four Graduates

Today is Graduation Day for the high school in which I work, and I always attend when I have students taking that last, glorious walk up to the podium to acknowledge their accomplishments.  This year I have two current and two former students of mine walking the walk and I couldn't be prouder. I have histories with each of these four kids and for me as a teacher, watching them graduate high school having battled against all of the odds stacked up against them, gives me a feeling of satisfaction like no other.  Here's a little background on my four graduates:

Former Students

That's Rommel to my right, with Jonathan and Kevin, 
the students of my first elementary ESL class


I first met Rommel when he was 8 years old.  It was my first year as an ESL teacher and he was one of my first students, a third grader.  Rommel and I have had an on again/off again kind of relationship ever since, and I'm happy to say that after several years of an uncomfortable separation, we've come full circle and I will be there cheering him on today.

You see, when Rommel reached 5th grade, another teacher had been hired full time in the elementary school and I left for the secondary school full time.  Before that I had been the only full timer, teaching three classes in each school.  I had made the move in January, the middle of the school year.  When Rommel reached 7th grade and was in my school, I reached out to him, making sure he knew he'd still be a part of our family, but after only one or two visits, he stayed away.

That smarted a bit, but only a year or two ago, he started making short forays again into my classroom, along with some of my students he'd become friends with.  And this year, maybe because he knew the end was near, he's really come around, spending more and more time with us.  Just a couple of months ago, he told me how hurt he had been way back when I'd 'abandoned' him.  I hadn't realized how my move had affected him.  Once I did, however, I became filled with a sense of both understanding and relief, and was only too happy that he and I had come full circle and that somehow I had made a difference in his life.

Rommel, I want you to know that I am happy for this and that I am also proud to have been a part of your life for the better.  Congratulations buddy!

Can and I in Central Park, NYC


Can (pronounced "John") is an affable, quick-learning Turk who will probably be in my life in some capacity for a long time to come.  He first came into my class at the age of about 13.  He was in the 8th grade, and what I remember most about Can back then was that he always had a smile on his face and he was fiercely proud of his country.  During many a class discussion, he would throw in a "did you know that Turkey was the first to..."  Lol.

Can really learned English quickly and he exited my program a few years ago.  But that doesn't mean that he disappeared from my class.  No, even right up to the end he was in my classroom practically every day, either for help with an essay or just to hang around.  He took a college level culinary arts class this year and treated me with many a surprise delicacy.  Thanks buddy!

Can has become more Americanized than most of my students, learning both the pleasantries and not so great things about our culture, especially materialism, but it's all good.  A couple of years ago, other students found out his other given name was Mohammet, and they thought it was cool, so one day he comes into my classroom and says to me, "my name is not Can, it's Mohammet!"  Yeah, right!  I refused to call him that, not for any other reason than I'd always known him as Can.  Besides, his family calls him Can, too!  

Can was the student who spoke up at the Board presentation I did back in February and got everyone all worked up into a love fest (see A Blissful Validation).  He'll be going to St. John's University in the fall and I couldn't be happier for him.  Way to go Can!  I'm so proud of you!

My Current Students

Me and Missael, December 2012


Missael is the one student who's been with me the longest.  This quiet, reserved young man from Guatemala first came to me when he was in the 7th grade and he took a long time to learn English, so long that I even left him to repeat 7th grade in his second year.  But time and perseverance eventually won out and I am still amazed when I have a conversation with him today, his proficiency has improved so much.

Missael is somewhat of a loafer, and I've spent many a frustrating time trying to get him moving.  He came into this year having to pass two state exams, one in English and one in US History, which made for some very tense moments over the last month or so.  To his credit, though, Missael put his head down and got to business, even giving up two weekends to do so, and I am so proud to say that he made it!  That was one of the happiest phone calls I've ever had to make.  Awesome job Missael!  I am so proud of you!

Yunus, me and Eli on Nerd Day


Eli is the sweetest, prettiest and hard working students I've ever known.  Having come to the US only two and a half years ago and in the 11th grade, Eli's path to graduation was monumental.  She had to not only learn English, but pass four out of five state exams to boot.  And to top it off, this young lady's life has been besieged by tragedy, having lost her brother to violence earlier this year back in Guatemala.

For the past three years, Eli has been voted as both the 'Hardest Working' and 'Best Friend' in our annual polling for the ESL Awards, a testament to her character.  Eli had to pass three exams this year, another monumental task, and with hard work and tenacity from the get-go, I am so proud to say she did it!  Eli, I've been rooting for you for almost the past three years and I could not be any happier and more proud of you!

So this is my testament to four youngsters who've all come from faraway places to live the American Dream. I cannot emphasize enough how much I admire them for all they've accomplished in such a short period of time, having had the difficult task of learning our language while at the same time having to meet the rigors of our educational system.  I hope that today is not a finish line, but a jumping board for even better times to come for Rommel, Can, Missael and Eli.  They deserve all the happiness in the world and I'll be rooting for them all the way!

Song of the Day - Let Me Think About It - Ida Corr & Freddie Le Grande

Ah, today is the first day of summer vacation, the weather is absolutely gorgeous and I just know I'm gonna be dancing a lot this summer.  To celebrate, here is my all time favorite dance/club tune, Let Me Think About It, by Ida Corr and Freddie Le Grande.  Ooh, this music track is so slamming it always gets me going!

Ida Corr vs Fedde Le Grand - Let Me Think About It by dunyaerk

Friday, June 21, 2013

Flashback Friday Song of the Day - Juicy Fruit - Mtume

Oh yeah, I completely forgot about this gem. Back in 1983, this R&B, slowed down and sexy gem was literally all over the place, and I'm still hearing samples of it on new songs. If ya love R&B and you were around back in the day, this one's definitely gonna bring back memories!

Mtume - Juicy Fruit by PeteRock

Thursday, June 20, 2013's "#willpower" Track Reviews: 'Fall Down,' with Miley Cyrus

When I first downloaded #willpower, the order of the songs was all mixed up in my iTunes library, and this one, the 12th track on the album, came up first.  And so until I began this endeavor of reviewing the tracks I thought that it was the opener, and a good album starter it would have been.  Fall Down is a happy, whistley tune with will and Miley playing off nicely with one another.  One of my favorites!  Check it out:

Will.I.Am feat. Miley Cyrus - Fall Down by I_Love_Munich_Music

And check out my take on the first 11 tracks on the album:

Good Morning

Song of the Day - Treasure - Bruno Mars


I tell ya, retro seems to be the word in music today, and Bruno Mars does retro as well, if not better than anyone out there.  Great tune!  Check it out...

Bruno Mars - Treasure (Music Video) from ILL PHIL on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Song of the Day - Evacuate the Dance Floor - Cascada

Haven't heard this one in awhile, and all I did was see Cascada's name on Twitter yesterday and have ben singing this song in my head ever since.  Great dance song!  Happy Hump Day!

Evacuate The Dancefloor from Cascada on Vimeo.