Saturday, April 16, 2011

Open letter mostly to the Transgendered

If you recall, I volunteer as a community organizer with in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.  I wrote this letter to an upset transgender (TG) person who essentially wants to know what do do about discrimination as she is tired of waiting to be equal:

When the Democrats had control of the entire government they failed to take the opportunity to guarantee TGs equal access to housing and prevent job discrimination.

These two inexpensive things would have allowed TGs to have better lives and to integrate with others thus showing they aren't that different after all. However, the Democrats aren't going to fall on their sword for three tens of a percent of the population which is basically broke.

Sadly, the GLBT movement is generally led by people with no feel for the political process. The best they seem to be able to do is try and copy the black movement, which suffered from different forms of prejudice, and, on occasion, quote Marxist philosophy which no one takes seriously anymore. In turn, political operatives use GLBTs for fund raising and action, but they have no intention of helping them. I call it the "long con." I have taken several runs at these people, but they live in their own world which is funded by donations by often poor TGs. (Last study I read said the disabled were the number one economically disadvantaged group, followed by TGs, and then gays...)

Most people are fixated on unemployment (It would have been better to help GLBTs in "good" times.), which is understandable, plus they do not see GLBTs as part of the American fabric. (In fact, most people think they don't know any TGs...part of why coming out is important.) The tools tried so far don't address these problems. In fact, I think the only think an outsider that has helped is Oprah who got regular folks talking.

One of the problems with the parades is the supposedly sympathetic media picks out the weirdest people to show on TV undermining the whole process. Though gays support TGs and bisexuals more than straights, it might not be as by as much as you might think. When you march in a gay pride parade, you're marching for gay rights; not TG rights. Often, viewers do not understand the difference anyway. When I brought up the problem with parades and how they should be re-focused or discontinued, I get told I don't understand its "part of the culture." Yeah, so are show tunes, but they haven't helped either.

The way the polls have moved, I think TGs (and bisexuals) would be better going it alone. To a certain extent, this has happened. I was surprised with how many well know singers have come out as bi in the last year.  (I've also been somewhat surprised by the non-reaction to Rhianna and Britney singing about leather sex and similar adverts.)

TGs can help themselves a lot by not being fixated on their situation and not being so narcissistic, because re-enforcing the stereotypes.

Sadly, things like this amount to slow and steady progress, though you have to be prepared to make your move if you see an opening.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Which Instruments?

When I was a kid, most of us were lucky to have a beginner guitar. In my case, I wore out the original bridge and two sets of tuning keys on mine before I got a professional instrument.

But, several have asked me how many instruments do you need?

Professionals often have several guitars they are comfortable to use as backup and to address the needs of the different styles of music they play. For example, a "classic rock" player might have two Gibson Les Pauls and one Fender Stratocaster along with an acoustic guitar or two.

If you're a hobbyist or play in a "tribute" band, perhaps what you need is an instrument, amps, and effects similar to your idol or just ones that captures your fancy. Just remember, that buying an instrument like your idol won't automatically make you sound like him. Beyond talent and playing technique, I find other things including body mass can influence your sound.

If you're a collector, then you need to buy what you like of course, but be mindful of which instruments are likely to gain in value over the time you plan to own them. I suspect that most of the instruments popular with "baby boomers" are already about maxed out in value. I'd target a Jackson Randy Rhodes and early Paul Reed Smith guitars. Just remember, they all need to be maintained, kept in a controlled and secure environment, and played.

If you're an artist yourself, it important to be hip to the classic tools of the trade as well as the latest things, but you might find that a mixture of products best addresses your needs as your goal is to sound like you and not the Rolling Stones. One thing I've found is that experienced players tend to look for certain things in "their sound", so they often sound "like themselves" even on instruments that don't belong to them and could be of marginal quality.