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Boston Phoenix - News and Features





 



Republicans, large and small

January 13 - 19, 2006

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Republicans, large and small
Bush, Alito, Abramoff ... and Healey

Going into the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Judge Samuel Alito Jr., prevailing wisdom held that the acid test would be abortion rights. But it has become much more than that. (Although Alito has so far refused to say anything to suggest that he’s not on the wrong side of that issue.) The convergence of other issues, such as warrantless domestic wiretapping and the sort of expansive and unchecked executive power that George W. Bush has arrogated — and Alito’s political record seems to support — now define what Bush hoped to diffuse: the essentially imperial and lawless nature of his presidency.

In the view of professor Sanford Levinson of the University of Texas Law School, "The major issue before the Court, and the nation, both now and in the foreseeable future ... [will be] the ability to stave off ever more aggressive assertions of executive power unchecked by either Congress or the judiciary." There is a great deal of evidence in Alito’s record, on and off the bench, that i...




The new consensus

January 13 - 19, 2006

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The new consensus
Don’t be fooled by the friction. By and large, the Massachusetts House and Senate are on the same ideological page.

Can’t the Massachusetts House and Senate just get along?

As legislative business wound down in 2005, the buzz on Beacon Hill had Senate president Robert Travaglini (D-Boston) and his colleagues growing frustrated with the slow pace set by Travaglini’s House counterpart, Speaker Sal DiMasi (D-Boston). And while the new year is still young, there are fresh signs of friction, especially in the debate over how to extend health care to the state’s uninsured. DiMasi wants to impose an employer mandate, which would tax employers who don’t cover their workers. But Travaglini, along with Governor Mitt Romney, thinks such a step would be economically foolhardy.

The battle seems to be escalating. Just last week, three key senators — Richard Moore, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care financing; Senate Ways and Means chair Therese Murray; and Minority Leader Brian Lees — pointedly questioned the House’s approach in a letter released to the media. It was a striking show of brinksmanship, and a pos...




Dr. Strangelove

January 13 - 19, 2006

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Dr. Strangelove
The man who wanted to "cure" homosexuality succumbs to a lifetime of controversy

On December 25, Dr. Charles W. Socarides, one of the last of the old-school scourges of the gay community, died at the age of 83 in New York. A popular guest on television and radio talk shows in the 1960s, Socarides is today remembered only by a small number of conservative psychoanalysts and aging gay liberationists who — after the birth of the modern gay-rights movement in 1969 — vehemently, and effectively, protested his view that homosexuality was a mental disorder that, with proper treatment, could be overcome.

Born in 1922 in Brockton, and educated at Harvard and New York Medical College, Socarides was, by the mid 1950s, a leader in New York psychoanalytic circles and an "expert" on the causes of and cures for homosexuality. Psychoanalysts never viewed same-sex desire as "normal" or healthy, since they argued that it is the result of inappropriate sexual and gender identifications in childhood. But from the field’s beginnings in early-19th-century Vienna, analysts’ attitudes toward homosexuali...





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Gratis expectations

January 13 - 19, 2006

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Gratis expectations
Free booze! Free books! Free movies! Free iPods! A guide to getting something for nothing

Now is the winter of our discontent. That last heating bill nearly caused a coronary, and this month’s will only be worse. Holiday credit-card bills are coming due. And tax time is just around the corner. A buck don’t buy what it used to. So how about something for free?

Music and movies, books and booze, electronics, furniture, even a car — all can be yours for nothing (or next to it). You just gotta know where to look, and how to avoid gimmicks and scams. From thousands of legal MP3 downloads to cool public-domain movies to e-books and even free phone service, the Internet is a treasure trove of freebies. You’d be surprised by the largesse of big corporations, especially when they’ve got new products to spread the word about.

"The Internet has totally revolutionized everything," says Bob Kalian, who’s scored "many thousands of dollars" of free stuff over the years and has been authoring the continuously updated The Best Free Things in America (Roblin) with his wife Linda since 1979. "I...




Satellite of love

January 13 - 19, 2006

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Satellite of love
Inside the studio on Howard Stern’s first Sirius morning

About 100 reporters and photographers are milling around the plush Sirius Satellite Radio reception area in midtown Manhattan, waiting to be ushered into a press conference to document Howard Stern’s first day on satellite. Omelets are being served. Cappuccino is being poured. And we’re all listening to a woman describe the details of putting finger after finger up a man’s ass.

The new Howard Stern Show — the one he has been dying to share with America since he first took to the air 25 years ago — is being piped into the room. The idle chatter of the media is muffled as the audio play builds to a climax. The Associated Press reporter sitting next to me noticeably winces as the Stern regular they call "Evil Dave Letterman" asks sex-talk queen Heidi Cortez for the whole fist.

The theater of the mind has returned with a vengeance.

Fed up with the FCC’s murky guidelines as to what qualifies as indecent, Stern announced in the fall of 2004 that he was leaving "terrestrial" airwaves for ...




Hidden agenda

January 13 - 19, 2006

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Hidden agenda
Caché plays forbidden games

When David Lynch plagued a married couple with covert videotapes in Lost Highway eight years ago, he knew people would be creeped out. Today, such surveillance meshes unnoticed with the fabric of everyday life, as it does with unsettling formal wit in the beginning of Michael Haneke’s Caché.

Credits run over a single shot of a nondescript door front on a Parisian side street, a shot typical of security-camera surveillance. Voices squabble in the background; then a cut reveals that the image is playing on a screen within the screen, part of a tape sent anonymously to Georges (Daniel Auteuil) and his wife, Anne (Juliette Binoche). Such images ordinarily provide bourgeois citizens with a sense of security, shielding them from threats outside their nests, whether real or imagined. In Haneke’s chilling scenario, the images instead unravel their complacency, thrusting them into the alien terrain of their memories and experiences.

Too bad neither character is remotely sympathetic...




Emasculation in a jiffy

June 10 - 16, 2005

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Emasculation in a jiffy
Nothing makes me feel less like a man than going for an oil change

EVERY 3000 miles, whether I need it or not, I am emasculated. Of course, the owner’s manual calls it an oil change.

It’s not the act of paying someone to do something I’m too lazy to do myself that I find so humiliating. I do that all the time — car washes, my cleaning lady, McDonald’s — and normally I’m more than happy to pass off my responsibilities to the lowest bidder. But that’s because I at least feel I could do them myself. In theory. And if I knew where I kept my sponges. The point is, I know enough about what’s involved to prevent being taken outright. My cleaning lady never calls me in the middle of the day to say, "Alan, I’ve noticed it’s been three months since I’ve hot-waxed and sealed your countertop. We could let it go another few weeks, but there’s a chance some ketchup could seep underneath the tiles, and then you’d need new cabinets. And obviously your toilet water needs to be refiltered. I can do both for an extra $89.99."

But with an oil change, I’m an easy mark. They...




Milking the cow

January 13 - 19, 2006

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Milking the cow

I’m a married guy with a good job, a wonderful kid, and my wife’s a good lady. The problem? Sex. She rarely wants/needs it, and when I can get her in the mood it’s the same old, dull routine. Same position, I do all the work — she won’t even touch my dick! — and it’s over in 15 minutes.

I’ve tried to talk about it with her, even counseling, but she’s very defensive. She claims that I am treating her as an "object." She also claims she got adventure out of her system years ago. How nice for her. I never got enough. Never had a blowjob, never had intercourse in any position but missionary. I’m frustrated, angry, and desperate. I never wanted to cheat, but this has gone on for years and things just aren’t going to change.

Now — act surprised! — there’s an opportunity. This other woman is sexy, smart, and adventurous, and she has a very healthy libido. I want her, she wants me. The problem? She’s going to be leaving soon for a job in a new area. Part of me wants to go with her, but...





January 6 - 12, 2005

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FREEDOM WATCH

January 13 - 19, 2006

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FREEDOM WATCH
The only question for Alito that matters
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THE PRESIDENTIAL HUNT

January 13 - 19, 2006

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THE PRESIDENTIAL HUNT
Romney charges up the national campaign trail

 

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DIRTY POLITICS

January 13 - 19, 2006

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DIRTY POLITICS
Wonkette trades blog for books
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QUOTES AND NUMBERS

January 13 - 19, 2006

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QUOTES AND NUMBERS
India's baby ban
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O.C.’S SETH COHEN

January 13 - 19, 2006

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O.C.’S SETH COHEN
Indie-yuppie, Yindie, or Yupster?
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Blood from a stone?

January 13 - 19, 2006

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Blood from a stone?
The local arts community reacts to the Globe buyouts

No one outside 135 Morrissey Boulevard watched the Globe buyouts more closely than members of Boston’s arts community, who greeted the prospect of losing so many long-time critics and writers at the region’s largest paper with a combination of concern, hope, and what could best be described as a wait-and-see attitude.

"Our commitment is not lessening by any means," asserts arts editor Scott Heller, who will be responsible for new arts hires and who has tried to reassure arts officials of the paper’s good intentions. "I think we’ll lose a little bit in institutional memory; that is inevitable. I think frankly, when all this shakes out, readers in the arts community will recognize that arts coverage in the Globe is as strong as ever."

"They’re really going out of their way ... that we can be assured the coverage is not going to change," responds Janice Mancini Del Sesto, general director of the Boston Lyric Opera. "The bigger burden is on them. They’re using fewer staff to do...





January 13 - 19, 2006

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The Boston Phoenix has been covering the trends and events that shape our times since 1966. These selections, culled from our back files, were compiled by Ian Sands.

DESPERATE MEASURES | 5 years ago

January 12, 2001 | Chris Wright came to grips with his gambling addiction. | "It’s not easy to say these words. I — am — an — addict. A screw-up. A sucker. A sicko. I cannot be trusted. I need help. I cannot help myself. These were a few of the topics kicked around recently when my wife and my father came at me with a sort of mini-intervention — like a surprise party, but with self-help books instead of balloons. There were cups of tea involved, a lot of whys and how could yous. There was talk of ‘healing’ and ‘support.’ It would have been laughable if it weren’t so final. See, I didn’t want to stop. Didn’t even want to think about it. But I didn’t have much choice in the matter. I’m an addict, and addicts don’t choose."

JOHN Q. COLUMNIST | 10 years ago | Janua...