Sunday, July 29, 2007

Colombia Dispatch: Last one for now





Today´s Miami Herald has an article on recent gay rights advances in Colombia ("Colombia is moving forward on gay rights"). It talks about the recent efforts to grant rights to same-sex couples in the nation, about the first LGBT Center in Colombia (in the Chapinero neighborhood of Bogota - I might visit before this trip is done) and about the LGBT rights advocacy organization Colombia Diversa for which I have acted as an informal advisor from time to time. Thought you might want to read.

Anyway, this is probably the last of my hiatus break postings until I get back to the States in mid-August so I thought I´d share a photo of yours truly relaxin´(and channelin´"Ray of Light") as well as some stunning (if I may say so) shots of the Medellin skyline. Yes, even makes the smog look beautiful, doesn´t it?

Colombia Dispatch: The Botero Square

In 2000, well-known artist and sculpturist Fernando Botero, a Medellin native, donated 114 of his paintings and 23 of his sculptures to the Museum of Antioquia in Medellin. Some of the sculptures now adorn what is called The Botero Square which is heavily trafficked and just outside the museum.

Most recently, Botero made a splash with a series of paintings inspired by the revuslion he felt at the abuses by the US military in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq (some can be seen here and here). Personally, at least artistically, the series seemed to me mediocre at best and almost exploitative. But, hey! That´s just me.

Then again, if you´ve seen one Botero and you´ve pretty much seen all Boteros. To be fair, earlier works do jump at you with their playfulness and colorful depiction of Colombian life. For what is worth, I do like the hand and horse statues below.

PS - Below you can also see a crowd watching the antics of a hefty man who asked four spectators to volunteer and stand on his stomach as he laid down on broken glass; he later pulled out nails out of his nose. Yay!.









Saturday, July 28, 2007

Colombia Dispatch: Streets of Medellin

Downtown medellin...
Built to resemble a threading needle, the Coltejer building has been the emblematic building structure of Medellin since it´s construction back in the late 1960´s (much like the Empire State Building is emblematic of the Big Apple). After all, Medellin has long been famous for its pioneering and still leading textile industry. At 140 meters and 35 floors, it remains the tallest building in the city. It did look taller to me when I was a kid (or before I became a worldy man of adventure).
Here´s a look at downtown Medellin from the grounds of the Medellin branch of the National University. Yup, that´s the Coltejer in the background.
There´s some uglyness to this particular urban structure but for some reason it has always fascinated me. Build a building on top of a steep hill, access to public transportation is on ground level. Solution? Build an elevator tower on the outside that gives easy access to the bottom of the hill. Very practical.
Yes, there are Citibanks in Medellin...
One of my favorite movie theatres as a kid, El Cid, long ago ceased to show wholesome family fare. Yesterday´s movie: "Suzanne, the pervert waitress," only U$2.50!
This requires some explaining: Tarrao is a particular slang word used in Medellin to describe someone who is hot. It can be used as a noun as in "Damn, what a tarrao" or as a term of enderment as in "You´re my tarraito." But it denotes, mostly, that you come from a poor neighborhood (where gonorrhea is sometimes also used as a term of endearment as in "How are you, gonorrhea!"). So I had to laugh when I saw this billboard right in the middle of the city advertising tarrao underwear (funny thing - the imagery on their website shows the Boston skyline instead of Medellin´s).
Although there are fewer young men in Medellin sporting anime cartoon spiky hairdos than in Bogota, pink power seems to have taken over women all over the country regardless of age. Pink IS the fashion color of the season, or - to be more exact, fucsia, which happens to be the name of this pink shop.
Second, perhaps, to Caracas, Venezuela, Medellin women are known for their curves, their slavery to fashion, a high rate of bulimia and anorexia and sky-rocketing rates of plastic surgery, even among adolescents. Not for nothing do they call Medellin the fashion capital of the world (the city is still buzzing about the 1st ever appearence by designer Carolina Herrera at the recent ColombiaModa fashion show).

The women of Medellin are extremely fashion conscious, no matter what age, weight, economic class or looks. The preferred look is tight jeans, bare midriffs, high heels, long hair, big breasts and some pink. It probaby would look sluttish anywhere else in the world but Medellin. Above, grandaughter and grandma at the meat rack in a supermarket waiting for a ticket. Loved the stylish grandma wearing that tight, tight, tiiight red full-body jumpsuit.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Colombia Dispatch: Park of Light

Continuing with our blog hiatus break, this time I am bringing you images from my birth city of Medellin (medallo or "medal" to the locals, metrallo to those who want to make fun of the city´s no-longer-deserved ultra-violent reputation - metralleta is the Spanish word for "machine gun" - or medhaleen to English-speaking tourists who haven´t taken any Spanish classes).

In any case, I´m not sure that these were in place the last time I visited Medallo but I couldn´t help but feel awe as I walked off a downtown side-street earlier today and smack into the
Parque de la Luz (the Park of Light) near City Hall and right next to the old main train station.

On their own, each cement stick looked pretty damn ugly and the lack of real foliage would make it seem a monument to anti-environmental causes, but standing together and with the high-noon sun shining down on the "trees" it was pretty darn impressive. So if Bogota was about horseys, Medallo, at least for today, was about cement sticks, sunlight and shadows.




Thursday, July 26, 2007

Colombia Dispatch: Bogota

Bogota is all about....
Sudden downpours in the middle of a sunny day...
Kids in the playground celebrating the Independence Day - July 20th - by channeling their favorite historical figure (so cute)...
Anime grafitti artists who one day might make it to New York City and be utterly disappointed by the blah grafitti work on the walls of the Big Apple (they might do much better if they visit Spain). BTW: What is it with all the young men in Bogota sporting a Speed Racer spiky hairdo?
The hubby walking through a quaint but colorful neighborhood with his mom...
Pesky if somewhat domesticated waterbugs (remember the sudden tropical downpours?)...
The hubby and I posing in front of butterflies that light up with the colors of the Colombian flag...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Colombia Dispatch: Horsing around

Original it is not. I still remember the 2000 ¨CowParade¨ charity event which brought a herd of fiberglass cows - each painted by a different artist - to the streets of New York.

Calling themselves "the world´s largest public art event," the organizers have since set up similar outdoor exhibits throughout the world, auctioning different cows at the end of each exhibit as a fundraiser for different local charities in the host cities.


Enter
Equus Arte in Bogota. Walking around the 93rd Street Park in Bogota over the weekend, the hubby and I ran upon several fiberglass horses that had been set up onthe periphery, each with a different design and look, some of them sorta `blah´but some actually quite stunning (the exhibit actually runs through September at various public sites throughout the city and features 74 different horses).

The event, set up by
Fundacion Corazon Verde (Green Heart Foundation), seeks to raise money "to improve the quality of life of the widows and orphans of Colombian policemen."

On Thursday, El Tiempo profiled some of the artists, including Maria de la Paz Jaramillo who did "Azul," the blue horse below (next to the hubby). Sorry to say I didn´t take note of the other artists´ names.

Still, in the photo above you can also see how one of the artists took the opportunity to pose the question "Do kidnapped gays have the right to liberty?"


This is an allusion to the outpouring of emotion that erupted earlier this month through the streets of Bogota in reaction to the death of 11 politicians that were being held by the left-wing FARC guerrillas, who had kidnapped them a few months ago.

Tragically, the guerrilla still hold dozens of kidnapped individuals, some whom have been held for a decade or longer, some whom have a lower public profile than the various political leaders that still remain in their hands (including cause celebre Ingrid Betacourt) and some whom were kidnapped when they were very young. Among them a number of small town policemen who, in this country, usually come from the poorest regions and neighborhoods in the country.

The organizers have said that some of the funds raised throug Equus Arte will also go towards helping the families of those kidnapped policemen.





Update: Judge declares mistrial in Eddie Garzon murder case

In last week´s Gay City News , Duncan Osbourne filed a follow-up story on the proceedings in a Queens courtroom where 39 year-old John McGhee stood accused of murdering a gay Colombian man, 35 year-old Edgar Garzon, in the streets of Jackson Heights in the Fall of 2001.

Last week Christopher Ricalde, a former friend of McGhee´s, took the stand as the prosecution´s star witness and vividly described how McGhee viciously beat up Garzon, causing his head to hit the ground repeatedly, which allegedly caused the massive brain injuries that left Garzon in a coma until his death days later.

Ultimately, McGhee´s attorney, Charles D. Abercombie was aparently successful in raising questions about Ricalde´s credibility:

While Osborne says in the article that the case had gone to the jury, he tells
Queerty that the presiding judge declared a mistrial yesterday after the jury became deadlocked on the charges against McGhee.

Duncan tells us, through e-mail, that the Queens District Attorney´s Office has vowed to push for a second trial which might possibly come this fall.
Previously on Blabbeando:

Monday, July 16, 2007

For the love of Senator Chuck Schumer

Well, kiddies, it's time to bid farewell. El Blabbeador nearly went crazy these past couple of weeks dealing with the US Department of State and their processing of a passport I'd submitted for renewal more than three months ago.

We even called Senator Chuck Schumer's office (we saw a report on New York 1 last week in which they helped a woman get her passport as well) and they said they would submit an inquiry on my behalf last week.

So, I'm still not sure if it was the many hours I spent on the phone trying to push the issue (I was finally told that the passport had been processed and mailed on Friday) or the love of Chuck Schumer (well, at least the love of his courteous staff members) that minutes ago I finally got my hands on my new passport (and I travel early tomorrow).

I might check in in a few days if I get access to the internet. Otherwise we'll leave ya with a photo comparison:
























circa 1996


















circa 2007


Yeah, I know... Don't worry though! We'll be back in mid-August or so.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Musica: Andrés Duque was acceptable... in the 80's


[This is a good review, so bear with me...] Yes, my friends, we have arrived a the exact moment at which Blabbeando sells out for no money whatsoever (and no, stop snickering 'cause it wasn't when we placed the Google Ads on the site).

Sneak Attack Media has adopted this puppy by endearingly placing the Blabbeador on their advance music release mailing list. And we're like all happy.

Can't say we weren't dreading it though. The moment they sent links to remixes for fields (only one of which I truly liked), we checked them out and found out that they were setting to promote the debut CD by Calvin Harris. Immediately I thought "Oh-oh! Hope they don't ask me to review that shit!" (pardon my French).

Calvin who? Well, you must not be European, Italian, Australian, British, Argentinian or from anywhere else except the United States because the man has achieved world domination in just a few steps with his recent single "Acceptable in the 80's" (video above MP3 here).

Yes. Acceptable in the 80's. Electro synth stabs. Neon colors. Shoulder pads on men and women. George Michael is straight. Make up on long-haired "rockers." Love is a Battlefield. Dynasty. Scott Baio. You get the point. But wasn't New York's own Fisherspooner trading on this stuff half a decade ago?

Then I actually heard the song and I was all "holy-mother-of-god! this is so bad I hope it never invades my sensitive ears ever again." Hence the apprehension.

I mean, imagine a Debbie Gibson type of bumpty-bump track (I mean the cheesy synths, not the vocals) with lyrics such as "I got love for you if you were born in the aight'ies, the aight'ies. Yeah!" - Yikes?
Hm. Apologies to Mr. Harris. Now I just can't get it out of my head along with so many other neon-colored leg warming tracks from his debut CD "I Created Disco."

Tongue firmly planted in cheek (check grandiose album title above) Harris has the balls to begin the album all LCD Soundsystem-like with "Merry Making at My Place" - a knock-off of LCD's own "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" - and he actually comes out on top.

With all those orgasmic ah's and oh's and lyrics in his opening track such as "I've seen it before, lots of people at my front door, lots of people in my front door, trying to get into my house" and the chorus "Merry making, drug taking, at my place, baby, at my place" how can you not drop your guard and love all the geeky boasting and groovy beats?

Then there's the fact that there's thirteen more fun electro groovers from where that came from - including the now lovable - not shitty - first single and the infectious "Industry" (robotic chant: "I am in tha in-das-tree, you are in tha in-das-tree, we are in tha in-das-tree, this is tha in-das-tree" OMG, so funny!), the great "Neon Rocks", "Vegas" (fake disaffected teutonic accent: "I got my drugs, and my stuff and my pills, when I go to Vegas! That's right! I've got my girls and my boys and my girls! That's right! When I go to Vegas!") and the faux sex-grinder instrumental "Love Souvenir." It's all good!

Even the clunkers like "Electro Man" ("Electro man, eeelectronic man. Electro man, eeelectronic woman") makes you giggle like crazy.

And rumors that he's upset because the songs he produced for Kylie Minogue's upcoming album were dropped from the final product fit in nicely with the duffus act.

In a stupid way, a classic album that strips away what kills most neo-electro acts (their seriousness) and gets all giddy and silly with the genre's possibilities.

For more info you can always check the following:
  • Calvin Harris TV here
  • Calvin Harris MySpage page here
  • Calvin Harris on WikiPedia here
Funny, the press materials say that it will be out in the US on September 4, 2007 on Almost Gold Recordings (great website by the way) but Amazon.com has the release date listed as this Tuesday.

In the meantime, the newest single: "The Girls" - Enjoy!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Jean-Yves is Free (and sexy and naked)


Talk about bringing SexyBack: With all sort of badly lit and shot images going around the internet (none of me, I swear! At least any that are badly lit or shot), it was nice to stop by JockoHomo's blog and hook up to BearFight - a Germany-based site that not only focuses on male beauty but also has high standards about image composition and artistic representation of masculinity (read more here).

Surprisingly I realized that I recognized the man featured in the welcome page - and in some of the galleries - as the groovy, sweet and hot Jean-Yves Dubart (the first image above is from BearFight) so consider this a companion piece to the JockoHomo entry.

From the first time I saw a picture of his, it was obvious that there was care in the framing and lighting as well as the pose. So when I found out he was a Paris-based amateur photographer I dropped him a couple of notes and told him how striking his images were. As JY says:
I have always been fascinated by photography (Herbert List, Duane Michals, Robert Mapplethorpe, Arthur Tress, Bruce Weber, Jim French, Herb Ritts, Pierre et Gilles, Hoyningen-Huen, Gian Paolo Barbieri, Helmut Newton, Norman Hatton, Geg Day....). I had the dream to be able to make some very beautiful photographs, and because I adore the beauty of the guys, the emotion that a guy can give you, because I like pleasure, love and sex, then I decided to take photographs which speak to all of this.
Currently, he's made various galleries of the photos he has taken over the years available on Jean-Yves is Free (NSFW), his own website (see second photo above).

Did I mention he's also a sweetheart?
Well, he is. But if you think Dubart is a catch, back-off boys! The man is taken (his man is just as beautiful though not as camera-friendly). Oh, and the fact that Dubart is not some pumped-up steroid-filled meth-driven porn star is kinda cute too.

So there you go: It was just about time we celebrated some hotness on Blabbeando and you certainly can't go wrong with some J-Y goodness.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Trial begins in the slaying of Edgar Garzon

Duncan Osborne at Gay City News and Ikimulisa Livingston at the New York Post cover the opening statements in a trial to determine whether John L. McGhee killed my friend Edgar Garzon in the summer of 2001.

"I will prove to you that this defendant did this because Mr. Garzon was a gay man and he made the mistake of hitting on this defendant," said prosecutor Karen Ross representing the Queens District Attorney's office.

McGhee was arrested in June of 2006 upon returning from the UK based on a statement given by a witness who came forward a year after the attack and statements made later by people close to McGhee.

According to the Post, Defense lawyer Charles Abercrombie said McGhee is innocent and pointed out that there "is no DNA evidence, no fingerprints and no weapons connecting McGhee to the crime."

Despite attempts from Abercrombie to have the judge limit the testimony of Leonor Garzon, Edgar's mother, to simply identifying her son in a photo, Ms. Garzon gave moving testimony as she weeped on the stand. Quoting from Gay City News:
Before Leonor testified, and with the jury out of the courtroom, Abercrombie asked that she be limited to identifying Edgar from his hospital photos and she not be allowed to discuss his life or achievements.

"The character of the victim is not an issue in this case," he told Robert J. Hanophy, the judge in the case. Ross and Hanophy agreed.

Questioned by Ross, Leonor went on at length about Edgar's work as a film editor, restaurant owner, and set designer. He was "very creative," she said. She wept when asked about first seeing Edgar in the hospital.

"His face had no shape at all," Leonor said through a translator. "I kept talking to him and I was afraid to kiss him."

When Ross asked, "Did he respond to you at all?" Leonor burst into tears and said only "No, no."

While Abercrombie could have objected, given the earlier agreement with the prosecutor and the judge, interrupting a weeping mother's testimony could anger the jury. It was only when Ross paused to introduce two hospital photos of Edgar that Abercrombie got a discussion out of the jury's hearing and Leonor was dismissed from the stand.

Hanophy later told the jury that both sides had agreed that Leonor had identified Edgar.

With the jury out of the courtroom, Abercrombie asked for a mistrial or that the jury be told to ignore Leonor's testimony. Hanophy denied both motions.
Trial resumes on Monday.

Update:
Previously on Blabbeando:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

ITN: The Latino edition of GayNewsWatch

In the news: As we prepare to go on hiatus (El Blabbeador is taking some much needed vacation time and it's not certain if I will have access to the internet starting on Monday through mid-August), we'd like to point out that someone seems intent in driving Blabbeando out of business (in a good way, I mean).

I haven't had much time to devote to covering some of the latest news from Latin America but, with increasing frequency, I log on to GayNewsWatch and I find English-language blurbs and links to English-language blog posts that have beat me to the punch anyway.

If you want to see what I mean, bookmark this link:

http://www.gaynewswatch.com/Page.cfm?PageID=8&RID=3

It will lead you to the latest LGBT news stories and blog posts related to Latino / Hispanic culture or Latin America on the site.

Among the recent stuff they have covered that I have not: Federico Garcia Lorca's ode to Walt Whitman, Puerto Rican political parties seeks out gay candidates, Carlos Gardel now said to have been gay, Border city hosts bi-national Brazil-Bolivia pride and Caribbean gay man wins damages for police harassment.

I am also thankful for their prominent featuring of this blog on their site.

Point Foundation grants scholarships to Latino students

The Point Foundation, the nation's largest publicly-supported organization granting scholarships to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in the United States, has announced this year's list of scholarship recipients.

Among the 37 lucky scholars two are Latinos.

Lilia Espinoza grew up in Chicago, IL, in the Rogers Park neighborhood. Lilia has been an active member of the Chicago Children's Choir for ten years. Her experience in the choir, a not-for-profit organization founded as an outgrowth of the Civil Rights movement, enabled her to see firsthand the unifying potential of music. Lilia is a National Hispanic Scholar as well as a National Merit Finalist. This fall, Lilia will be an undergraduate at Columbia College at Columbia University in New York, NY. She especially hopes to work with queer youth who have encountered extreme adversity in both their homes and schools.

Born in Mexico and raised in San Diego, Allan Acevedo grew up surrounded by a predominately conservative Latino community. In school, Allan pursued challenging courses and was a cross-country runner and the President of his school's Gay-Straight Alliance. Allan served for three years as a Student Coordinator for the GLSEN Jumpstart Leadership Team, a Trainer for GSA Network, and most recently as a leader of the Stonewall Young Democrats. He has also spoken across the country advocating and promoting youth involvement in social justice issues. Allan will attend San Diego State University in the fall. He aspires to go to law school and be able to take a more direct role in ending social and economic inequalities.

Blabbeando congratulates Lilia and Allan and wish them much success in their studies.

About the Point Foundation: Point scholarships are substantial and multi-faceted; the average annual award is $13,600, and will be renewed annually for the remainder of their degree program as long as a student maintains academic standards. Point runs a formal mentoring program that matches each scholar with a successful professional in a field related to that particular scholar's area of interest. Finally, Point also hosts a leadership conference each year for all current scholars.

Prospective donors and potential applicants can learn more about Point Foundation and Point Scholars at
www.pointfoundation.org.

Argentina: Amazing television commercial


Amazing television commercial for the Provincia Bank in Argentina called "Perla."

Translation:

[Man interrupts two women who are engaged in a conversation in a small-town sidewalk]
Perla (surprised): "Don Luis, strange to see you around here.."
Don Luis: "I wanted to know... when they gave you the loan from the bank to open your hair salon, did they ask for ID?"
Perla: "Yes"
Don Luis: "The document says that you are a man..."
Perla (turning less friendly): "Yes."
Don Luis: "They still gave it to you."
(woman nods)
Don Luis: "It's the same bank that gave me the loan for the car..."
Perla: "Hm."
Don Luis: "It made me think.. and it made me come to ask for forgiveness for having treated you badly all this time. For not knowing how to treat you... Take this, keep it" (hands the woman a figurine of a ballerina)
Perla (surprised): "For me?"
Don Luis: "Forgive me."
Perla (smiling warmly): "Thanks so much, Don Luis."
Don Luis: "Good-bye."

CAPTION: YOUR LIFE CHANGES WHEN THERE'S A BANK THAT DARED TO CHANGE
Voice-over: "You have a life, you have your bank"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

BFF: Paulina Rubio

My best-friend-forevah Paulina Rubio (pictured above with el Blabbeador) stopped by to wish me a happy birthday a few weeks ago (yeah, right!). We love La Pau because, as you already know, she has been crowned in Mexico (and Miami) as the Queen of the Gays for a number of consecutive years (sometimes even twice a year, depending on which gay bar in Mexico you are talking about).

Once-rumored to be a lesbian and having played coy with the rumors, La Pau recently got married to a man - which did not tamper our admiration or our enjoyment of her song-craft (except with that unfortunate attempt to sing in English).

I must say that she is a stunningly beautiful woman, even in fluorescent lighting. Or maybe her make up was better than mine?

We absolutely love La Pau. For the uninitiated we recommend Paulina, released in May of 2000. Too bad you missed her recent Beacon Theatre concert.

Rubio recently became the New York-based Latino Commission on AIDS first official godmother, a designation which sounds cooler in Spanish than in English ("madrina") - a great reason why the United States should not become and English-language-only country. Yay for La Pau!

[NOTE: Click once on the YouTube image below, then wait a sec and click again and it will open up a YouTube window to the PG13-rated version of "Y Sigo Aqui" with lots of lesbotastic stuff - something about biting into ripe mangoes]

Sports Illustrated Latino is gay-inclusive

The June-July issue of Sports Illustrated Latino has two different covers depending on where you buy it.

States in which the predominant immigrant population is from the Caribbean (read: the Eastern coast) can oggle at Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees because residents in these latitudes like baseball a lot, or so tell us the editors. Residents in states where the predominant immigrant population is from Central America, South America and Mexico (read: the rest of the states) get a cover story on Copa America, the soccer tournament taking place right now in Venezuela in which Uruguay and Brazil will duke it out for the championship this coming Sunday, because they like soccer a lot (thanks SI Latino editors! Now I really know my peoples!).

Not happy to pander to two different Latino populations, the editors have sneakily targeted a third: Los marico... ehem... da gays!

In a photo gallery featuring fourteen of the "most colorful" Mexican lucha libre fighters (that's wrestling to you muchachos) they include Maximo (pictured above):

"This exotic [character] (a wrestler who interprets a homosexual) causes confusion in his rivals by flirting with them. He's been a professional [wrestler] for five years" says the caption.

Considering the machismo in Latino sports, it's good to see SI Latino promote tolerance in it's pages. Not that the US-based WWE hasn't been just as inclusive in the past.