Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Interview: Augusten Burroughs Discusses Memoirs, Memory, Media and More

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2009 at 8:01 AM

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Best known for his harrowing yet hilarious memoir Running With Scissors, Augusten Burroughs will be in town to promote the paperback release of his latest, A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father. The reading, discussion and book signing, presented by The Brooks Fund, is free and open to the public 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, at Vanderbilt's Ingram Hall. The Scene recently had the chance to correspond with Burroughs via email.

For readers familiar with the cringe-worthy comedy of your previous memoirs, what should they expect when sitting down with A Wolf at the Table?

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Rick Warren's AIDS-Crusade Card Gets Trumped

Posted By on Fri, Jan 9, 2009 at 6:00 AM

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When the hullabaloo erupted over Obama's inclusion of Rick Warren in his upcoming inauguration ceremony, I couldn't seem to clarify my feelings on the matter. I was initially pissed-off that Obama would blatantly add to the let-down I experienced over the anti-gay measures that passed around the nation at the same time that he was elected. Then I tried to be the bigger person and see it as a reaching-out of inclusiveness.

And then I was just annoyed at the fact that religion is even included in the ceremony at all. It really has no place if you actually believe in the separation of church and state. (But I'm one of those crazy people who is against the red-scare-edited version of the Pledge of Allegiance that added "under God" as well as the fact the our cash includes the phrase "In God We Trust"--at least I can avoid that by using plastic for most of my purchases.)

The Oath of Office would mean a lot more to every American if the President-elect placed his hand on a copy of the Constitution rather than a historical document of questionable origin with even more questionable revisions that only means something to a segment (even if large one) of the United States' citizenry. (This lawsuit is at least a step in the right direction.)

But back to Warren. Some who defend him claim he's a man who preaches for social causes, including poverty and pollution. And while he may use his power to demean gays, he's done considerable work crusading against AIDS in Africa. (See, gays, AIDS!)

Well the dirty truth behind Warren's African AIDS crusade has been brought to light by a post at The Daily Beast...

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Take the Music City Star to See the Titans...for $20 a Head

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 5:05 AM

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From my record, it's seems I only blog about gays and trains. (But usually not at the same time--I don't write those kinds of posts.) While I don't care for football, I do have a football-fan friend. And if you're a Titans (or Steelers) fan and plan on going to the game this Sunday, you can avoid the traffic snarls downtown by taking the Music City Star's Game Day Express service.

The train will depart Lebanon Station at 10 a.m. and arrive at Riverfront Station at 11:05 a.m. (stopping at Martha, Mt. Juliet, Hermitage and Donelson Stations along the way). A limited number of round-trip tickets are available, and they can be bought in advance for $15 or on the day of the game from conductors for $20.

During the week, the maximum round-trip commuter fare is $10. A colleague asked me if the high price is an attempt to gouge people during football games. Wondering myself, I asked Deborah Varallo, head of PR for the Music City Star, who explained, "Early on, it was determined that the special train run needed to pay for itself or at least come as close as possible. The Game Day Express takes a special crew, and the crew has to stay for the duration of the game and then take the people back to the station."

I understand the explanation, but my colleague makes a valid point. If this is someone's first impression of riding the Star, they'll probably feel gouged, even after a hassle-free trip to and from the game. A family of four who showed up on game day to take the train would be out $80. I don't know how much parking costs for a game, but it can't be that high, even factoring in gas, which is now stupidly cheap.

I have to imagine the special train runs are used not only to provide a service, but also to advertise the value of train service itself. However, if you can't offer an economical value these days, most people will miss the true value of public transportation in Nashville: less-congested roadways, lower fuel consumption, decreased pollution, stress-free commutes (goodbye, road rage), safer travel, etc.

If you're not a die-hard tailgater and live near the train line, consider the long-term cost of driving your car and take the Star. Visit to see the full schedule and where you can buy advance tickets.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Day With a Gay

Posted By on Wed, Dec 10, 2008 at 11:46 AM

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As Caleb Hannan posted last week, today is the national Day Without a Gay. So, as people with a "nasty case of the homo" (as Mr. Hannan so politely put it), why are my partner and I both at work today? Why are we risking losing the Rainbow Points gays earn each year for making contributions to the community, which can be redeemed for fabulous prizes at the year-end Rend-gay-vous?

First of all, our Rainbow Points total is so low that our only prize option is the keychain. But most importantly, have you seen the economy lately? With people living week to week, just waiting to see if their employer stays open, the Day Without a Gay idea may be a clever way to raise awareness, but it's not logical for most gays--especially ones that live in a state like Tennessee (and the majority of the others), where you can still legally be fired for being gay.

The Day Without a Gay campaign isn't asking people to just take the day off and stay home to watch an Iron Chef marathon. It's encouraging people to take the time to volunteer with services to aid the gay community. Today was picked because Dec. 10 is International Human Rights Day. So instead of just focusing on the rights that gays are denied in the U.S., I think it's important to remember the people suffering from human rights violations around the world whose situations are far worse than being the second-class citizen that I am.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ride the Music City Star to See Santa

Posted By on Thu, Dec 4, 2008 at 3:46 PM

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I don't really care for parades, though I do have fond childhood memories of Dothan, Ala.'s National Peanut Festival parade in the fall. My scout troop would head down early to set up and rent out seats, then we'd spend the rest of the parade waiting for the payoff that lay at the end of the seemingly endless stream of politicians, high school bands and plastered-smile beauty queens being pulled by tractors.

Finally, the cement truck would come into sight. However, instead of being filled with cement, it was filled with the festival's namesake: peanuts. At this point, the entire parade audience would rush out into the street to grab as many free peanuts as you could fit in a scout hat, bag or just the lower half of a T-shirt. The key was to hurry up before the final appearance. The horses made any remaining peanuts undesirable.

And on that note, I won't be attending the 56th Annual Nashville Christmas Parade, which begins tomorrow at 7 p.m. downtown. But if you are and you'll be out east I-40 way tomorrow afternoon, you can avoid the downtown parking hassle by taking the Music City Star.

This isn't a special train service like the embarrassing July 4 Fireworks Express debacle*. It's just the usual Friday service, which features a late train that departs downtown at 9:30 p.m. (The rest of the week, the 5:45 is your last chance to escape downtown via rail.) Take advantage of the free parking at one of the outlying stations (Lebanon, Martha, Mt. Juliet, Hermitage or Donelson) and enjoy a leisurely ride that helps support the continuation of my preferred commute to work. See for specific departure times and more info.

*Potential riders needn't worry that they'll be left at the station due to overwhelming demand. The Christmas Parade just doesn't have the draw of the Fourth of July, and unfortunately, lower gas prices seem to have driven some riders back to their selfish and antisocial ways of private internal combustion commutes. Asses.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Florida's Gay Adoption Ban Overturned

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2008 at 1:23 PM

In the wake of setbacks for gays this November, a glimmer of hope has appeared in Florida. Of course, it was done by what spewers of right-wing rhetoric will undoubtedly label an "activist judge."

Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Cindy Lederman struck down a 31-year-old Florida law that banned gays from adopting. Florida is the only state that specifically banned "homosexual" individuals. Newer actions by other states have been more clever in their wording by refusing adoption rights to unmarried partners--such as the recent "activist mob rule" by Arkansas residents--after first denying marriage rights to gays.

I've mentioned before that the Arkansas initiative particularly bothered me because if it had passed a year ago, I wouldn't have the wonderful nephew that my sister and her partner adopted there. I recently had a chance to visit with him, and I wish anyone who voted for the initiative or others like it could see his happy face and the love bestowed on him by both of his mothers, his grandparents, his great-grandmother and the rest of our family. Then, just maybe, they'd realize the happiness and love they are potentially denying to other children, just because of a fear or hatred of gays derived from misguided interpretation of a religious document.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back for Gay Americans

Posted By on Fri, Nov 7, 2008 at 5:50 AM

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I went to bed Tuesday night elated that, as a country, we'd taken such a huge step forward for civil rights by electing the first black president. Obama didn't win by as much as I'd hoped, but a win is a win. I thought of Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and other black comedians who've joked about it over the years, and here we are to experience the reality of it. No joke. But as I woke up on Wednesday to an America that has made such a symbolic opening up of the table, I found that, as a gay citizen, plenty of America stood up to say, "Sorry, we still don't have room for you."

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Les Is More

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2007 at 11:02 AM

For over 20 years, Les Claypool has entertained music fans with his frenetic bass playing and his eccentric personality. But Claypool's artistic talent refuses to be bound by one medium. Last year, he published his first novel, South of the Pumphouse, and this year brings the theatrical release of his first feature-length film, Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo.

It's a mockumentary following the journey of the fictitious jam band Electric Apricot, best known for their anthem that asks an important hippie question: "Hey, are you going to Burning Man?" It opens Friday for a three-day run at the Bellevue 8, the Thoroughbred 20 in Franklin, and the Wynnsong 16 in Murfreesboro. Claypool not only directed, but acted as well, playing Apricot's drummer Lapland "Lapdog" Miclovich.

I recently spoke with Claypool by phone from the recording studio of his California home.

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Friday, September 7, 2007

Choo-Choo-Choosing Public Transportation

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2007 at 2:12 PM

When I lived in Boston, I took the T to work every day. Since then, I've missed the ability to read, reflect or simply relax between work and home. My morning commute currently involves the rage-inducing delight of downtown interstate traffic now that the Scene's office has moved to the Gulch. But not today because I took my first trip on the Music City Star.

I bought my ticket from the on-site kiosk at the Hermitage station, and easily boarded the coach. Because it was my first trip, I spent most of the time checking out the scenery: the car, the passengers and the route. A leisurely 20-minute ride later I was downtown and starting on a pleasant 15-minute walk to the office.

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But as the picture indicates, I didn't exactly have to fight the crowds to get on the train. The cost is actually comparable to what I pay for gas, but the limited schedule means I won't be able to use it every day. I plan on riding it as often as possible, though. It beats the hell out of merging.

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