Discriminatee to discriminator 

Ah, progress

It was like a roller coaster or a horror movie -- scary but entertaining.

I'm talking about Saturday morning's giant fiesta of self-proclaimed moral superiority organized by Bishop Eddie Long and his Lithonia-headquartered New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. The No. 1 purpose of the event, according to the church's website, was to promote "a constitutional amendment to fully protect marriage between one man and one woman."

"Protect marriage" is, as usual, political double-speak meaning "let's pretend that everything we think is wrong with the world will get worse if gay couples can share health insurance, visit one another in the hospital and inherit each other's 401K savings accounts." The New Birth Missionary position is that allowing gays to marry will destroy the institution of marriage -- kind of like how self-satisfied ministers arbitrarily anointing themselves "Bishop" have destroyed the meaning of that institution.

The party began around 9 a.m. as a crowd of thousands coalesced around the grounds of the King Center. The bulk of the crowd arrived via MARTA and chartered tour buses. Among the buses was a giant rainbow-colored one from Rainbow Coach Lines. Upon seeing it, the 50 or so gay-friendly counter-protesters stopped their chanting to laugh and cheer in unison.

The only attendee I recognized was "Webster" star Emmanuel Lewis. Michael Jackson's 1984 Grammy ceremony date arrived behind the wheel of a big blue Suburban SUV. A group of teenagers recognized him and pointed while a nearby adult asked aloud, to no one in particular, whether he could even reach the pedals.

The morning's most popular outfit was a black T-shirt printed with the words "Stop the Silence." Bishop Long referred to the motto when he spoke around 9:30 a.m. He referred to the march as getting "back into the conversation," by which he meant public political dialogue. He then passed the mic to another speaker who elaborated that the march was a statement "against separation of church and state." Naturally, there was no reference to the fact that the Bible Belt states that have already obliterated that separation have a divorce rate roughly twice as high as the rest of the country. Nor did Long & Co. mention that the 10 states with the highest divorce rates voted for Bush and the 10 states with the lowest divorce rates (including super gay-friendly Massachusetts) voted for Kerry. Why bother with logic when there are fags to kick around, eh?

After a prayer, the march began with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter Bernice handing Long a torch lit by the flame near her father's tomb. Long then started the march to Turner Field. Despite their "Stop the Silence" T-shirts, the thousands marching behind him were, well, silent. March organizers shhh'd them repeatedly so they wouldn't engage the counter-protesters.

Love and marriage: While the rest of you were busy celebrating the birthdays of Bob Barker and Edvard Munch, I was at Johnny's Hideaway celebrating Frank Sinatra's birthday. Ol' Blue Eyes would have been 89 on Sunday. To mark the occasion, Johnny's Hideaway hosted two Sinatra tribute performances by Charlie Fellingham. Fellingham ignored Sinatra's hard-drinking, ill-tempered, two-broads-a-night, Mafia-flirting side and instead focused on his timeless music. The shows were free, so go ahead and feel extra bad about missing them.

Sporting a tux and a fedora, Fellingham entertained the crowd with a short set of Sinatra tunes from the Capitol and Reprise years. Torch songs were ignored in favor of more breezy, ring-a-ding-ding, uptempo stuff like "Fly Me to the Moon," "Witchcraft" and "Summer Wind." During instrumental passages, Fellingham broke out into ballroom dance moves, which I found a little jarring. Don't get me wrong. I liked it, but my brain is fixated on the Sinatra I saw in concert in 1991 -- the grumpy, chairman of the nursing home board who stood rigid onstage so he could read the lyrics from a teleprompter. During the finale, Fellingham got a big laugh when he "introduced the members of the band." He was singing along to an instrumental CD.

Timber: The 2004 Festival of Trees was held at the Georgia World Congress Center last week. Did you see it? Did you? I did. The cheerful, Christmas decoration-themed event raises big money for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. I took my neighbor and friend Omar. He was a big fan of the ASO, violin-decorated tree, and the cookies we bought. I liked the tree with the autographed books. It wasn't all that pretty, I'm just amazed at how someone could hang hardcover books on a Christmas tree.

Outsider art: Last Friday night, I attended a fantastic photography show and auction at the Atlanta Photography Group gallery in Buckhead's Tula Art Center. The auction was benefiting the Our Voices project at the Peachtree-Pine Photography, which gives the homeless and underhoused people at downtown's Peachtree-Pine shelter the chance to express themselves by teaching them basic black-and-white photography techniques. Of the Our Voices works on display, the most moving to me were two photos by Brian Studdard. One was a self-portrait of a torso and legs, taken while lying in a bed. The other, a shot of the Bank of America building as viewed from a cold room through an old window. The photos conveyed both loneliness and a strong desire to escape loneliness by seeking out little snippets of beauty and fun.

Entertainment at the opening was officially provided by a two-person group called the Selmanaires, and unofficially by a candy-red-haired man named Johnny D'Farmer. D'Farmer handed out fliers for an Internet petition asking to change the airport's name from Hartsfield-Jackson to Gandhi, King, Carter International Airport. He also discussed, at great length, how the Big Chicken in Marietta is actually a monument paying tribute to a living, 55-foot chicken named Dulcinea. According to D'Farmer, Dulcinea helps people cultivate courage. "There's nothing more important than cultivating and excelling in COURAGE, because if we can grow in this one important area, then we will also grow in every other important area!"


For more on Dulcinea, the 55-foot chicken, visit www.andy2000.org.



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