04/6/15

People You Prefer

It’s amazing how infrequently the news cites or links to original source material. The hardest part of posting today was finding the dang statutory language.

In relevant part the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) stipulates that

a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion . . .[unless it] (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

Guess what? This is literally already the law.

Indiana didn’t make these words up. And they aren’t words without meaning. “Substantially burden” and “compelling governmental interest” and “least restrictive means” are legal terms of art.

It’s called strict scrutiny. Strict scrutiny is the test courts must apply to any governmental action (law) that attempts to regulate the free exercise of religion. It’s literally already what is required by the United States Supreme Court. See Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972); Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 546 (1993).

That’s why the federal RFRA analog to the Indiana bill has been deemed constitutional. It’s just not applicable to the states and that is why twenty some states have passed their own version, including Indiana.

But, in the wake of protest over it, the Indiana legislature has agreed to compromise language, which specifies that the new religious freedom law cannot be used as a legal defense to discriminate against patrons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Well what about race or national origin? Or pregnancy or sex? Can Indiana’s RFRA justify disparate treatment on account of those characteristics? Well those immutable qualities are already protected from discrimination either by constitutional interpretation or specific federal statute. It’s not necessary to accuse Indiana’s RFRA of enabling discrimination on those grounds because it is understood already that it can’t. But, no such comparable protection yet exists for sexual orientation and gender identity, thus the necessary specificity.

So, here’s the amazing result. The public pressure on Indiana’s RFRA has transformed a law that was simply an echo of the legal status quo into literally an affirmative protection for sexual orientation and gender identity that did not previously exist (at least expressly).

I think in wrestling that’s called a reversal. And pin.

Regardless of the legal merits and effects, the cultural ones continue to be sort of ridiculous. On both sides. The controversy over RFRA sure involves a whole lot of can’t. You can’t eat here. You can’t tell me I can’t eat here.

I know there is some mutually-exclusiveness between the positions, but I sure would just prefer that both can. The religiously orthodox or shortsighted bigots can exercise discretion over their business interests and the LGBTQIA community can take their business and prodigious wealth just about anywhere else. I don’t believe this is going to result in significant exclusion.

When the equal access battle was fought for racial minorities in this country 50 years ago, there was no cultural capital on that side. To have waited on a cultural tide or the greed of capitalism to erode the segregation wall would have been a long, tortured wait.

It’s not the same cultural or economic ecosystem that the LGBTQIA community faces. First, our economy is so pluralistic, for every one fundamentalist burrito spot that denies you, there is an organic burrito, gay burrito, sports burrito, actually mexican burrito, or anti-burrito burrito restaurant to direct your appetite and dollars. Second, the momentum is now all on the LGBTQIA community’s side. The people who would deny service on these grounds are officially outliers. That’s not a value judgment; it’s just true. As a business person you’re somewhere along the following spectrum: (1) wildly, enthusiastically Andy Dick pro-gay; (2) gay friendly; (3) neutral; (4) personally uncomfortable but professionally ambivalent; (5) personally and professionally intrepid; or (6) passionately, comfortably Chik-Fil-A against-gay. (That’s not fully fair to CFA; I don’t even know a public enough name for this camp; which is the whole point.) I just don’t think the number and quality of the businesses desiring to publicly be (6) can be that significant. It’s just generally not very cool anymore or good for business. That’s not to say there isn’t financial opportunity in bigotry; there is. There’s just a whole lot more in non-bigotry.

And, speaking of the hipness of the relative positions, it has officially flipped. It wasn’t sexy to be an abolitionist or a non-segregationist. It definitely wasn’t cool to stand beside AIDS victims in the Eighties. But, as soon as it’s cool to be for a particular civil right, you’re on the wrong side of the issue. That’s the whole point. The community being denied the right is, by definition, marginalized not popularized. If you actually gain cultural cache among the masses by being so outspoken on a topic, you’re not a hero or martyr; you’re bandwagon. So no one should be patting themselves on the back for the most obvious possible observation that deep proponents of the RFRA are probably and mostly bigots on this topic. But, if you really count yourself a civil libertarian, the fight is now officially on the other side. People are entitled to be wrong. And, live wrong lives in furtherance. Let’s please not forget that.

I wanted to rank my favorite Easter candy just because I like ranking things. Growing up, I spent most of my Easter mornings trying to brandish various candies to my father but blinded by the Damascus Road movie camera flash. It looks like interrogation footage. Seriously.

5. Jelly beans. And, not just Jelly Belly snobbery.
4. Giant bunnies. Anything oversized at seven years old gets top 5 billing.
3. Whoppers Robin Eggs. Because someone still has to stand up for malt.
2. Mini Cadbury Cream Eggs. Am I the only one who gags trying to eat the original?

aaaaaaand

1. Grayson Allen. A delicious Easter candy too??! What can’t this kid do?

What are the chances that the vintage Paas image I chose for today would advertise “Gay Calicos”? 98. 100%?? Seriously. Total happenstance.

paas

Written and performed by sintax.the.terrific. Music produced by Dalama Jones.

Today’s blong here:

Resurrection

04/4/15

And When From Death I’m Free

I will sing.

easter

Performed by the sintax.the.terrific and playdough (collectively deepspace5). Music produced by Alex Goose.

Today’s blong here:

Rise

03/24/15

Double Dirty Chai

As confessed, I’m out of time to produce new content right now. But, there’s news still to be covered in song and you look to me. So, I’ve tried to be diligent to recycle blongs relevant to timely news stories, but sometimes you just don’t have a prior rap news song to reboot. I know you know exactly how that feels. Rummaging around: “Where the hades did I put that Creflo Dollar Hurts Taxpayers rap verse?!”

Well, no fear. I’ve devised a fix. Introducing:

The Flong.

Blong + Blong = Fusion Blong

or Flong

So when you don’t have time to write a song concerning the CEO of Starbucks addressing shareholder concerns on the issue of same sex v. traditional marriage, you post together a song about Starbucks, and then one about same sex marriage, respectively, and you get a Starbucks-On-Same-Sex-Marriage Flong.

Sounds sort of delicious actually. Maybe that’s a flan.

Anyway, it’s like Pictionary.

X045BR_600x500

+

images

=

images

I’ve never meant to anyway, but I certainly have lost all standing to moralize. And, there’s painful prescience in today’s songs. But, the values stay the same, even when our hands and feet fail.

One Venti Flong coming up.

Star Buck-Bucks! Written and performed by sintax.the.terrific. Music produced Fab da Eclectic. Originally posted concerning Howard Schultz open letter to gun owner patrons

A Little Less Somewhow written and performed by sintax.the.terrific. Music produced by Gudo. Originally posted concerning NY State’s legalization of same sex marriage.

Today’s flong here:

Star Buck-Bucks! A Little Less Somehow

03/21/15

Extinction Level Event

I originally posted today’s blong upon news of his trade to the Lakers. Steve Nash has formally announced his retirement.

Maybe the last of a breed.

nash

Performed by the sintax.the.terrific. Music produced by dj clutch.

Today’s blong here:

On Top

03/18/15

March Mental Breakdown

There isn’t a billion dollars at stake this year, which sucks because I finally guessed a perfect bracket. Anyhoo.

This year has brought a whole new meaning to the phrase “March Madness” for me. Basketball and my own.

But, tomorrow the ball is tipped.

Yours truly knows a little something about banging on the boards:

me and kris rotated updated

Not to be racist but but guess who’s not getting the ball here?

Please bear with me until April and I’ll be back on the grind. Until then some blong classics.

Performed by sintax.the.terrific. Music produced by djclutch.

Today’s blong and annual tradition here:

The Madness

03/12/15

Watership Down Redux

I’ve been in desperate need of some good news. This qualifies.

After literally a lifetime of hop(p)ing, the following cinema news:

“A 21st-century CGI resurrection of the English rabbits of Watership Down is underway at the BBC and hopes to begin production soon.” (hat tip, Conduct Latimer)

I mean it’s inconceivable, but in case you haven’t heard, I have an album thematically based on Richard Adams’ Watership Down. Is there a news story I don’t have the angle on??

Undisputed champ of rabbit news rap.

Bonus Track, Shining Wire, featuring manCHILD:

03/8/15

Personal Anthem (Phoenix Jones and Last Fan Standing)

Because, well, everybody needs one.

All of song blogging is anthem writing, in a sense. Anthems for events and times and people. Taking topics uncommon, maybe even corny, to song writing and trying to find the kernel of real passion and humanity. Where is the glory and the grit in the story and sh!t?

From Diana Nyad to Work to Ride, the all black polo team, to Dallas Wiens, the face transplant survivor, I’ve been writing theme songs for years, even as I was just attempting to cover the people and stories, of the news, in art. And by “art” I may mean reconstructive surgery raps.

Most famously, the Phoenix Jones theme song:

Phoenix Jones was recently profiled in this ESPN expose. He was previously a regional MMA fighter. Apparently, it gets a little slow around Bristol after football season and before the NBA playoffs.

His ex-colleague in crime fighting and domestic abuse prevention heroin, Purple Reign, had these kind things to say about the anthem:

purple reign facebook
There are two takes. That we overuse hero or that there’s a little bit in all of us. I break slightly toward the latter. Of course, by contrast to Jones, my entire career in heroing consists of a broken arm jumping off a porch, caped, at four and rescuing my cat from the sewer. And, what little Superman I had in me has recently all been evacuated. I feel a lot like this:

So here’s to Phoenix Jones and the imperfect hero in all of us. You have a Personal Anthem. Your day has a soundtrack. Your show has a theme song. Your crew has a battle hymn. I just maybe haven’t written it yet.

In other anthem news, I am happy to officially announce that I have recorded the theme song to Bruce Campbell’s game show, Last Fan Standing, to premier on ConTV, the television adjunct to the famous Comic Cons.

Last Fan Standing Key Art

The show begins next week and the song is available now at iTunes and Amazon and can be streamed on Spotify. Search “Last Fan Standing.”

The real irony of the show is that people have spent a gob smacking number of hours actually sitting to be the fan, last standing. Celebrating the nerdist in each of us, today’s blong below.

Performed by sintax.the.terrific. Music produced by Sir Chamberlain.

Lyrics here.

Last Fan Standing (Official Game Show Theme)

03/5/15

Free Running

As the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev begins, I thought I’d recycle my Boston Marathon blong.

I’ll plagiarize myself from two years ago. I can’t say it any differently:

If you’ve ever been to Boston you’ve probably been forced to walk, likely by a mom or wife, some portion of the “Freedom Trail” against your will. You have to wonder why one must abandon so much self determination to walk a trail named “freedom” but, anyway. The Freedom Trail is, of course, a walking tour of Boston’s historic sites, where I’m proud to say I had a pair of Stan Smith’s re-cobbled only a few years ago. I also had a bracelet smithed out of a soup spoon.

Liberty is a type of collusion. An agreement among everyone to respect the rule of law in service of freedom. It’s completely voluntary.

Collusions, however, are easily broken. In fact, there is extraordinarily high incentive to do so. Our susceptibility to violence, therefore, is evidence of how well and complete the collusion of our liberty is working. We’re easy pickings. When an assailant from within or without violates the contract — the agreement not to fall into anarchy — they exact from us a cost. A toll for being so free, so open, so liberated. Our martyrs, whether at a marathon or in an elementary school or on a skyscraper, are a kind of penance paid to democracy and inalienable rights. Like a soldier or revolutionary, when we are murdered exercising our freedoms, even ones as routine as a road race, it is literally a kind of patriotic act. Every mundane act of our lives is a declaration that we would be free in spite of the ongoing danger to do so.

Pronation. It’s not just the roll of your foot when you run. It’s what we are when we run. Pro-Nation.

And, they’ll run again every year. Regardless the verdict. A marathon and a freedom trail.

boston-marathon-map

Performed by sintax.the.terrific. Music produced by Sir Chamberlain.

Today’s blong here:

Pronation

03/1/15

Frank Lloyd Write

I’m excited to officially announce MidCentury Modern. Me and rheomatic. A tribute to old things made new.

Our first album, The Goodness, debuts later this year on Illect Recordings. We were in Nashville this week making things happen. More details to come. Includes some vintage guest spots.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @midcent_modern and on Facebook at MidCentury Modern. #NewBecauseItsOld

IMG_7122

World premiere sneak preview. Shhhhhhhhhh! Rheomatic is going to be furious, yo.

Frank Lloyd Write