R.I.P. Teena Marie, 1956 – 2010

Teena Marie passed away suddenly on Sunday, December 26. (Teena is pictured here at the far left with Ruth Garland-Dewson at an awards ceremony in Beverly Hills in 2008).

Known as the “Ivory Queen of Soul”, a white woman in the black world of Motown R&B, disco and then rap, Teena was a force in the music industry to be reckoned with. A protege of “Super Freak” singer Rick James, she played rhythm guitar, keyboards and congas, and had huge hits in the ’80s, like “Lover Girl” and “Square Biz”.

But what’s less known about Teena Marie (born Mary Christine Brockert) is how she was a “musician’s musician” and broke down more than a color barrier in the music industry. When Motown refused to release material she recorded in the early ’80s, she sued – and won, setting a precedent to this day that makes it illegal for a record label to keep artists under contract if it will not release their work in a timely manner.

What’s saddest about the loss of Teena Marie is that this innovative musician was still making music and performing. So many people had yet to experience the day when they discovered one of her songs or albums in that great mass of music to download and could eagerly anticipate in the months and years ahead hearing something new.

UPDATE: April 2010: Smooth jazz tribute to the songs of Teena Marie now available from Amazon.com. Hey, I know – I hate smooth jazz, too, but if anyone could ever give it some cred it would be Teena. So much of her music epitomizes what was good about the ’80s. In retrospect, these smooth jazz covers make me want to puff up my hair, grab a pina colada and hop off the Internet. See ya!

Sources: Wikipedia “Teena Marie” and NPR.org “Farewell to Teena Marie: The Ivory Queen of Soul”.

Photo by KazzaDrask Media.

Now that DADT Is Gone, Same-Sex Binational Couples Need to Focus on Full Federal Equal Rights

With President Obama’s signature on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this morning, 2010 ends on a high note for gay rights. With the defeat of the DREAM Act in the Senate last week, the year ends on a low note for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR).

Same-sex binational couples have long been caught in the vortex of these two important movements in American politics. We are, first and foremost, gay and lesbian, yet at least half of us are first-generation immigrants. The other half of us though are American citizens and US permanent residents. The citizens among us (second-class LGBT citizens that we are) are denied thousands of rights – including the right to sponsor our same-sex foreign-born partner for immigration purposes.

As far as political movements go, same-sex binational couples are a small group. In spite of efforts to estimate that there are far more of us than 36,000 couples – 36,000 remains the accepted figure. Split that in half and you have 18,000 gay and lesbian American citizens at any one time facing the unconscionable – leave the country you love to be with the person you love, or live a life apart from your life partner – which is no kind of life at all. (By contrast, it’s estimated that 2 million children of undocumented workers would have benefited from the DREAM Act.)

With the momentum shift that’s occurred with DADT repeal, it’s time for same-sex binationals to remember why we are being discriminated against in the first place. It is not because half of us are immigrants. It is because all of us are gay and lesbian. US immigration has no problem with opposite-sex binational couples. In fact, it is the heterosexual American citizen’s inalienable right to marry the person he or she loves and build a life with that person in the United States – whether that person is another American, or from another country. (Read more)

You’re Invited – An Online Culture Christmas Tale

This post originally appeared on OpenSalon.com.

In the old days, before iPhones and Facebook, Google maps and email, people used to give parties. Especially around Christmas and, occasionally, Fourth of July. You got an invitation in the mail. Or, if it was your party, you sent one. You bought boxes of invitations at this place called a stationery store. A place you’d been going to with your mother since you could remember. It’s where she went to buy boxes of invitations and note paper and sympathy cards and fasteners and clips, adhesives and ink cartridges for those fancy pens she used – the ones that let her hold her place on the page while she guided though names and addresses on the envelopes of invitations. The simplest of names –

Mr. & Mrs. Phillip M. Popkins

the plainest of addresses –

19 Red Robin Lane

transformed into what looked like snippets from the Gettysburg Address.
Four Score Square. c/o the Lincolns.

This was before CostCo ran the little stationery store out of town. (Read more)

Top 10 FAILs of 2010

Dont’cha just love typing “FAIL” in all caps after something you post? It’s so succinct, such a way to sum up something that there’s really not much else to say about, and so immature. And sometimes, it feels so good, too!

The people at FAIL Blog obviously think so. Not only have they devoted a blog to picking up on the biggest “FAIL”s happening around the social media sphere, this year they even have their own list of Top 10 FAILs. We bring you their top video, the Watermelon Launch FAIL in lieu of bringing you the top overall FAIL, which was Justin Bieber. Not because we don’t agree that Justin Bieber is certainly worthy of that title. It’s just that we already ran a post today with a Justin Bieber photo! (And we don’t want people thinking we’re fans or anything….)

Other top FAILs we like include Snooki and The Situation from “Jersey Shore”, Tiger Woods, the Kardashians, Bristol Palin, and well…you get the picture. (Read more)

Source: FAIL Blog: “Top 10 Fails of 2010.”

HMU, Justin Bieber Among 2010 Top Facebook Status Trends

The 2010 trend lists are upon us. Obviously, no surprise to anyone (except those who might have spent the better part of 2010 under a rock, or trapped in a Chilean mine), teen poptart Justin Bieber makes the Top 10 words and phrases used in Facebook status updates, as does “HMU” (“hit me up”).

Full report on the list, which compared frequently used words and phrases from 2009 vs. 2010 from 236 countries, is at Mashable. While “HMU” was the number one trend, number two was “World Cup”. “Miners/mineros” (from aforementioned Chilean mine) as well as “Haiti” also placed in the Top 10, proving that the world uses social networking to keep connected during times of tragedy (or near-tragedy, in the case of the miners) just as much as we do during times of new-gadget frenzy (“iPad and iPhone 4” also on the list). In a nod toward social networking never looking back, and the future as something that is happening now, “2011” was also a top buzz word for 2010. (Read more)

Source: Mashable, “Facebook Reveals Top Status Trends of 2010.”

Video: Fran Leibowitz on Microwave Texting

Fran Leibowitz is probably more famous for not writing than she is for her books (Metropolitan Life, Social Studies and an obscure children’s book). Currently, she’s the talk of the town (the global town, that is) with an HBO documentary about her called Public Speaking, directed by Martin Scorsese.

Leibowitz does not own a computer. According to this video, she doesn’t even own a typewriter – so social media and all our tweets and pings mean nothing to her. How long can she get away with being so disconnected? Until you can send a text from your microwave!

Postscript: Just came across this great take on la Leibowitz, who has managed to live the glamorous life of a writer without actually having to write much in the last 30 years. On her refusal to use social media, this writer says, “If you are the kind of person who is interested in Fran Lebowitz, you have at least four or five friends who are every bit as witty and amusing as Fran Lebowitz. They have the funniest Twitter feeds, and probably a Tumblr, and then are always ready to tell you a hilariously elaborate story about the crazy homeless guy who tried to feel them up on the train….” which of course they snap a photo of with their iPhone and then post to their blog!

Rachel Shukert, The Tablet “Boulevardier”.