Did Judy (Garland) Cause Stonewall (Riots)?

June 22 is the 40th anniversary of Judy's death -- like Marilyn's, the result of an overdose that whether accidental or intentional will never be clear. Some think that Garland's gargantuan two-day funeral -- 20,000 fans and friends attended -- was the last straw for the harassed and brutalized drag queens, faggots, dykes and proto-twinks who were pushed, hit, arrested and shoved into a big wagon early the next morning by the cops who raided the Stonewall Inn. What was happening on Christopher Street? That sinkless, mob-owned, wretched bar … [Read more...]


"I'm trying to be a singer, not a civil rights leader," says Adam Lambert -- remember him? -- as he comes out in the new Rolling Stone. Quelle, quelle surprise, but congratulations nonetheless.  Yet comments like that are as boilerplate as the mag itself. Dear Adam: Popular culcha has long ago rendered any such division into schmaltz. In case you have or anyone has any doubts about that, check out the quite subversive 1952 Disney cartoon short called Lambert the Sheepish Lion. See any parallels, sweetie? The … [Read more...]

Paradox: Podcast About Photos (of Sufi Memorials)

Lisa Ross's photos of obscure Chinese shrines to Sufi saints have an impact that goes beyond anthropological or political record-keeping. I have written recently about her show at New York's Daneyal Mahmood Gallery, up until June 13, for online's Obit Magazine. But here is a brand-new podcast, interviewing yours truly about the work, as well as a listen-while-driving version of the piece. … [Read more...]

Archie Pops the Question, to …

So who will the wrinkled redhead bring to bed -- assuming he hasn't already? As a fourth-grade student at Midwood, Brooklyn's P.S. 238, I struggled with my carrot-top best friend, another Jeffrey, over who was Archie and who Reggie. (Jeffrey and I also shared the same weird middle name!) But as any constant Out There reader can anticipate, although I studied those comics hard to see which of the two I wanted to be, I was much more "interested" in the other light-dark pair, sunny blonde Betty and well-born brunette … [Read more...]

‘American Idol’ — the Judy-Deanna Version

        Now that our Idol hangover is over, we may regain some composure and perspective about the relative importance of a manipulated mass election -- sounds presidential, no? -- within the body politic of popular culture. Right? Then how do I explain why I woke up literally singing the word "swing" -- but like a cat wail, "swiiiiiiinnnnnng." Judy was talking to me again. "Didn't you see me?" she asked. "I was hard to miss. I had to share some space with Freddie, but I like Freddie, and even with that awful Lee" -- I … [Read more...]

Helen Levitt — Pictures and Words

I don't usually like my own voice, but the pictures make the sound easier to bear. Here are links to Obit Mag and also Daylight Magazine, where this appears. For an automatic alert when there is a new Out There post, email jiweinste@aol.com.     … [Read more...]

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective — With Apostrophe, Praise

Rarely has this writer, even in the guise of critic, thought it wise to promote a product without immersing the recommendation in a cleansing bath of context. A pleasing exhibition? Look at the history, the economy that produced the work. A fine restaurant? Look at the economy, the history that ... .  Yes, I know. But the result need not be hortatory or didactic, and may be at least a bit more defensible than writing long-form blurbs. Except in this case. I want you to watch a new HBO series, period. It's … [Read more...]

Yes, the ‘Q’ in Quiznos Stands for ‘Queer’

  It was 1 a.m., and I was sipping from the ever-full pitcher of That '70s Show, but then a commercial came on that by some bit of late-night laziness I didn't mute: "Scott, I want you to do something." "Not doing that again. Got burned." What!? My cultural gaydar  -- infinitely more accurate than my personal one, and we won't go there -- started the beat beat beat of its tom-tom. Then as I watched, my socks, which were still on, got knocked off, and you will see why when you click on the ad … [Read more...]

‘Obama Fingers’ — Surprise, Food Has Race

I thought this was old news. The link to the report from Deutsche Welle I'm adding here is dated March 10. But the story hasn't been widely seen. In short, a frozen product called "Obama Fingers" has appeared in German freezer cases: just pieces of fried chicken (with curry sauce, yikes). When asked if anyone was aware that a racial, uh, problem arises when you link an African American "brand," even a presidential one, to a fried-chicken product, the Fingers spokeswoman basically shrugged her shoulders and said, "Warum?" We … [Read more...]

Depression, Saltines, and I

I was fascinated with his "nicotine-stained" fingers -- that's what everyone called them then, even though the chemical is colorless -- as he plucked saltines one by one from the box and crumbled them into the soup. Campbell's Chicken Gumbo, Beef Noodle, or Cream of Anything, made no difference, in they went. "Thickening," he said, and of course Dad was right, because after he stirred it, the mingy housewife shortcut became something a man might want, a solid stew, a filling meal. Yet his stained fingers treated the crackers with a delicacy … [Read more...]