Rainbow curtain | 5 years ago | June 8, 2001 | Robert David Sullivan likened our handling of homosexuality to the way we dealt with communism.
“Few people worry about The Communist Manifesto anymore, but many parents still freak out over the ‘gay agenda.’… They’re not out to change anyone’s sexual orientation; they just don’t want to encourage any of the non-standard options. Embracing the dubious assumption that impressionable teens ‘choose’ to be gay, they do all they can to make homosexuality appear less attractive. It’s the American policy of containment all over again.
“During the Cold War, most Americans felt that Communist China and the Soviet Union were too perverse to change, and that it was more practical to concentrate on preventing communism from spreading to other nations. Europe was divided by an Iron Curtain, separating ‘Eastern Bloc’ countries under Soviet influence from the West. Likewise, some see a Rainbow Curtain in the US today, separating God’s Country from Sodom and Gomorrah – the Northeast, the West Coast, the larger cities around the Great Lakes, and the southern half of Florida … By targeting school boards and other local offices, particularly in border states such as Virginia, the religious right is trying to stop gay-rights legislation from affecting any more fine citizens than it already has.”
Tricks of the trade | 10 years ago | June 7, 1996 | Geoff Edgers chronicled the day-in, day-out life of a subway performer.
“Nowhere in its thousands of pages of regulations does the MBTA have a rule that prohibits playing ‘Wonderwall’ five times an hour. Which is a good thing for Chris Palermo.
“The 24-year-old subway performer wears a black leather jacket with a Kiss Army patch on the left shoulder and strums a battered Ovation acoustic guitar. He doesn’t even like the song, but, as a veteran of the subway stage, he knows the more he plays Oasis, the closer he’ll get to his rent check.
“Every musician has his own rules. In the dog-eat-dog world of street music, the right rules mean the difference between making it and going broke.
“It is lunch hour, and Palermo and his roommate, Rich Jestings, also 24, are playing guitar near the Green Line tracks at Government Center. More than 50 people wait for the train, most of them with their backs turned to the performers. This is what they call ‘the butt brigade.’
“And then, like rainwater collecting in a bucket, money starts to trickle in. A kid in an AC/DC T-shirt tosses coins into Palermo’s guitar case; a gray-suited older man with a tiny ponytail follows, as does a tall, red-headed college type.
“Then the music stops.
“Palermo’s Rule: stop playing if several trains pass through the station at once, clearing out an entire audience before a single run-through of ‘Wonderwall’ is complete. That way, you get another full shot with the money-maker.”
Sweet release | 15 years ago | June 7, 1991 | Stephanie Zacharek reconsidered Stevie Wonder’s most treacly pop song.
“It’s a dirty shame that, at least in the minds of those who follow pop music only casually, Stevie Wonder’s 1984 hit ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’ relegated him to the Soft Hits ghetto. There, the song blows like a restless tumbleweed, sharing the desolate EZ-listening landscape with lighter-than-air confections by the likes of Christopher Cross and Lionel Richie. You can’t tell me that’s what becomes a legend most.