Archive for August, 2011

Poet and author Maya Angelou says a recently unveiled monument to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. is inscribed with a quote taken out of context that makes the preacher seem “arrogant.”


I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness, the inscription on the 30-foot-tall statue of King reads.

“The quote makes Dr. Martin Luther King look like an arrogant twit,” Angelou told The Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten, and added that she thinks it should be changed. “He was anything but that. He was far too profound a man for that four-letter word to apply.”

The quote was taken from a sermon King gave shortly before his death, where he imagined what his own eulogy would sound like.

“If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice,” King said. “Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”


Angelou, who read a poem at Bill Clinton’s first inauguration, told Weingarten that taking out the “if clause” at the beginning of the quote makes King sound conceited, as if he were praising himself for no reason.

Angelou was on a committee of historians who helped choose the inscriptions, and the memorial’s chief architect, Ed Jackson Jr., said that she didn’t attend any of those meetings. But it also appears that the historians chose the entire quote, not the shortened version memorial officials eventually selected due to space constraints.

The Washington Post’s Rachel Manteuffel expanded on Angelou’s criticism, noting that King’s original sermon was actually “about the desire in the human spirit to be great without doing any great, difficult things. To be at the front of the pack, drawing all the attention. This is folly, King says.” King admits in the sermon that he is also prone to this weakness like everyone else, but hopes that he will be remembered for fighting for noble causes and helping others, not for seeking attention. The shortened quote conveys none of that interpretive context.

Angelou isn’t the only one who has found fault with the four-acre, $120 million monument, which sits on the National Mall alongside monuments to Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Much of the criticism centers around the statue of King, which was controversially designed by a Chinese artist and built by Chinese workers. (Critics said an African-American artist should be chosen.)

Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer objects to the 30-foot-tall statue, which was sculpted by Lei Yixin, an artist from China who has also sculpted monuments of Chairman Mao. “His flat, rigid, socialist realist King does not do justice to the supremely nuanced, creative, humane soul of its subject,” Krauthammer says.

The New York Times’ Edward Rothstein writes that the imposing statue and choice of quotations turns “the minister into a warrior or a ruler.”

“The mound’s isolation from any other tall objects, its enormity and Dr. King’s posture all conspire to make him seem an authoritarian figure, emerging full-grown from the rock’s chiseled surface, at one with the ancient forces of nature, seeming to claim their authority as his,” Rothstein writes.

The Economist writes that it’s disappointing “that a man who fought so intransigently, bravely, and beautifully for equality, of all things, has been set up for worship as a towering idol, more mountain than man.”

“The image that we chose is one that, from our point of view, presents Dr. King as a philosopher of ideas, someone who was strong in his belief of what America stood for and where America should be going,” the architect, Jackson, told The Root. “The goals he set have not been reached, but we have a memorial that allows us to champion his message, so that we don’t forget to pick up where he left off in trying to make the world a better place.”

Correction: Due to an editing error, Angelou was incorrectly referred to as the former poet laureate of the United States.




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Who’s Chaz Bono’s Dancing Partner?

See the 12 New Pairs

Every star needs a Dancing pro. ABC has revealed the 12 pairs for Season 13 of Dancing with the Stars.

Defending champ Kym Johnson will aim for back-to-back Mirrorball trophies with David Arquette, while fellow two-time champs Mark Ballas and Cheryl Burke are partnered with reality stars Kristin Cavallari and Rob Kardashian, respectively.

Chaz Bono is partnered with former finalist Lacey Schwimmer.

After taking last season off to film a movie, Derek Hough will gun for a record fourth Mirrorball with Ricki Lake.

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Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who made it no secret this summer that he wants to be paired with soccer star Hope Solo, got his wish. His brother, Val Chmerkovskiy, joins the cast as a pro this season and will be paired with George Clooney’s ex, Elisabetta Canalis.

Peta Murgatroyd and Tristan McManus, who were in the Dancing troupe last season, are the other newbie pros. Murgatroyd will hit the hardwood with Ron Artest; McManus, Nancy Grace.

Dancing with the Stars premieres Monday, Sept. 19 at 8/7c on ABC.

Check out all the pairs below:

David Arquette and Kym Johnson
Ron Artest and Peta Murgatroyd
Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer
Elisabetta Canalis and Val Chmerkovskiy
Kristin Cavallari and Mark Ballas
Nancy Grace and Tristan McManus
Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke
Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskaya
Ricki Lake and Derek Hough
J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff
Chynna Phillips and Tony Dovolani
Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy











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Rye Playland was shut down Tuesday after cops scuffled with Muslims upset that women wearing head scarves were barred from the rides, witnesses said.

Fifteen people, including three women, were charged with disorderly conduct and assault in the chaos, authorities said.

The Westchester County park was packed with Muslims celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr –  the holiday marking the end of the Islamic holy month ofRamadan.

One woman, Entisai Ali, began arguing with cops over the amusement park’s head scarf, or hijab, rule, said Dena Meawad, 18, of Bay RidgeBrooklyn.

The ban, which is not Muslim specific, was imposed about 3 years ago mostly to prevent hats from falling onto the tracks of roller coasters and other rides, park officials said.

“The cops started getting loud with her and she started getting loud, too. They pushed her on the ground and arrested her,” Meawad said.

Her cousin, Kareem Meawad, 17, went to try to protect the woman and was beaten by cops and also arrested, she added. Her brother, Issam Meawad, 20, was pushed to the ground and taken into custody when he tried to help his cousin, she said.

“She just wanted to get on a ride. That was it,” Dena Meawad said of the initial confrontation. “It’s clear, this all happened because we’re Muslim.”

John Hodges, chief inspector of Westchester County Public Safety, insisted that police did not use excessive force.

He said up to 100 cops from surrounding departments converged on the park.

Two park rangers were injured in the melee, prompting felony assault charges against two people arrested, officials said.

The ugly incident happened just after 1 p.m. The event was organized by the Muslim American Society of New York, and attracted 3,000 Muslims from Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Westchester County.

Ali’s sister, Ayman Alrabah, 24, of Brooklyn said her husband, brother and father were all tackled by cops and put into handcuffs when they tried to help her sister.

Alrabah said she was unaware of the head-scarf rule until she and her sister tried to get on the park’s Dragon Coasters.

“We requested a refund and all of a sudden an argument became a riot,” Alrabah said. “Cops came. They were hitting my brother, my dad. My husband was on the floor and they were handcuffing him.

She said her 4-year-old son was “traumatized” by seeing his father arrested.

“They treated us like animals, like we were nothing,” Alrabah said. “They came with their dogs and sticks. We came to have fun.”


‘It’s clear, this all happened because we’re Muslim,’ says Dena Meawad. (Norman Y. Lono for NY Daily News)


The park was closed for about two hours because of the fracas. It reopened at about 6 p.m.

Peter Tartaglia, deputy commissioner of Westchester County Parks, said the Muslim American Society of New York was warned in advance of the rule barring head scarves on rides for safety reasons.

“Part of our rules and regulations, which we painstakingly told them over and over again, is that certain rides you cannot wear any sort of headgear,” Tartaglia said. “It’s a safety issue for us on rides, it could become a projectile.”

Many Muslims were given refunds as they left the park disappointed.

“In this heightened state of Islamaphobia, a woman wearing a hajib is an easy target these days,” said Zead Ramadan, president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – New York. “Unfortunately, this turned ugly due to a lot of miscommunication.”

Photos: Top: Police respond to Rye Playland on Tuesday (Norman Y. Lono for NY Daily News)

Bottom: ‘It’s clear, this all happened because we’re Muslim,’ says Dena Meawad. (Norman  Y. Lono for NY Daily News)


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They’re back, darlings!

BBC America and Logo plans to resurrectAbsolutely Fabulous for three new specials, starring everybody’s favorite drunken dynamic duo Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley).

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“We are thrilled to be able to celebrate our 20th birthday with all of the original cast,” Saunders said. “We hope that, like a good bottle of champagne, we have grown better with age but lost none of our sparkle.”

Premiere dates for the specials have not been set.

Who else is excited Ab Fab is back?


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The MTV Video Music Awards is one of the few award shows where wacky antics are expected and encouraged. This year was no exception. Among the standout moments: Beyonce’s baby bump rub, Justin Bieber’s appearance with his pet snake and a Lady Gaga-Britney Spears kiss, with Gaga dressed as a man.


To present Spears with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, Lady Gaga dressed as her drag king alter-ego Jo Calderone. When Spears walked on stage, the two shared a polite smooch. A few minutes later, Gaga tried to recreate Spears’ infamous 2003 Madonna liplock, but Spears pulled away saying she had already done that. Gaga looked disappointed.


More Here: http://new.music.yahoo.com/blogs/awards/58656/buzziest-moments-from-the-2011-video-music-awards/

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VIRGINIA CITY, Mont. (AP) — The Gypsy sat for decades in a restaurant amid the Old West kitsch that fills this former gold rush town, her unblinking gaze greeting the tourists who shuffled in from the creaking wooden sidewalk outside.

Some mistook her for Zoltar, the fortune-telling machine featured in the Tom Hanks movie “Big.” Others took one look at those piercing eyes and got the heebie-jeebies so bad they couldn’t get away fast enough.

But until a few years ago, nobody, not even her owner, knew the nonfunctioning machine gathering dust in Bob’s Place was an undiscovered treasure sitting in plain sight in this ghost town-turned-themed tourist attraction.

The 100-year-old fortune teller was an extremely rare find. Instead of dispensing a card like Zoltar, the Gypsy would actually speak your fortune from a hidden record player. When you dropped a nickel in the slot, her eyes would flash, her teeth would chatter and her voice would come floating from a tube extending out of the eight-foot-tall box.

Word got out when the Montana Heritage Commission began restoring the Gypsy more than five years ago, and collectors realized the machine was one of two or three “verbal” fortune tellers left in the world.

One of those collectors, magician David Copperfield, said he thinks she is even rarer than that.

“I think it’s only one of one,” Copperfield said in a recent telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Copperfield wanted the Gypsy to be the crown jewel in his collection of turn-of the century penny arcade games. It would occupy a place of pride among the magician’s mechanized Yacht Race, Temple of Mystery and various machines that tested a person’s strength.

Copperfield acknowledged approaching the curators about buying the Gypsy a few years ago but declined to say what he offered. Janna Norby, the Montana Heritage Commission curator who received the call from Copperfield’s assistant, said it was in the ballpark of $2 million, along with a proposal to replace it with another fortune-telling machine. On top of that, he pledged to promote Virginia City in advertisements.

But Heritage commission curators, representing the Gypsy’s owner — the state of Montana — rejected the idea, saying cashing in on this piece of history would be akin to selling their soul.

“If we start selling our collection for money, what do we have?” said Norby, the commission’s former curator of collections.

The commission’s acting director, Marilyn Ross echoed Norby’s sentiments: “That is not something we would ever consider, selling off these antiques.”

That dismissal has set collectors grumbling. Theo Holstein, a California collector and renovator of such machines, said he thinks the Gypsy is wasted in Virginia City and should be placed in a private collection for proper care. He said he is trying to gather investors to make a $3 million bid that would top Copperfield’s offer.

“They don’t have any idea what they have. It’s like they have the world’s best diamond and they just pulled it out of their mineshaft,” Holstein said. “It’s good that it’s there and it survived, but now it really needs to be part of the world.”

Holstein said he wouldn’t be surprised in the machine ultimately sold for $10 million or more. Copperfield also said he is still interested in purchasing it.

That could put pressure on the state, which, like the rest of the nation, is facing hard fiscal times. Montana’s budget is in the black, but keeping the effects of the recession at arm’s length has meant deep budget cuts.

Those cuts have hit the Montana Heritage Commission particularly hard. Just weeks after Norby spoke to the AP, her position and three others were eliminated as part of a larger reorganization to cut $400,000 from the commission’s budget, Ross said.

The state agency that oversees the commission, meanwhile, is not so quick to reject the idea of selling the Gypsy. Department of Commerce deputy director Andrew Poole said he has not seen any offers in writing, and if one were made, it would go through a bid process that includes the scrutiny of the commission and input from the public.

The state inherited the Gypsy in 1998 when it paid $6.5 million to buy nearly 250 buildings and their contents in Virginia City and nearby Nevada City from the son of Charles Bovey. The Montana collector spent years buying up the buildings to preserve the two crumbling ghost towns and he stocked them with his ever-growing collection of antique games, music machines and oddities.

Bill Peterson, the heritage commission’s former curator of interpretation, said the collection includes hundreds of thousands of items, so many that curators are still discovering them.

The Gypsy was made sometime around 1906 by the Mills Novelty Co. In restoring her, the curators either replaced or repaired frayed, worn or broken parts with exact replicas. When they couldn’t find replicas or period materials, they didn’t replace the parts.

“We don’t want to make her anything that she wasn’t,” Norby said.

In 2008, they installed the Gypsy as the centerpiece of the Gypsy Arcade amid the ancient wooden buildings of Virginia City’s main street. Calliope music spills out into the street, beckoning the tens of thousands of visitors to enter and view the stereoscopes, shock tests, tests of strength, fortune telling machines and love letter machines. The Gypsy presides over the menagerie in the rear, ropes keeping visitors at a distance.

All of that care in restoring, preserving and displaying the Gypsy causes state curators to reject Holstein’s argument that the machine should be removed from Virginia City and placed in a private collection.

“A lot of these collectors, they come and say the same thing: ‘Why is this out in the public? Why don’t you just take the money and have a collector restore it the way it should be restored and have it in his private collection?’ Well, nobody would ever see it,” said Peterson, whose position also was eliminated in the cutbacks.



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We know those Supernatural boys have some very protective (cough cough, kookoo crazy) fans.


And while Jared Padalecki and Genevieve Cortese have been keeping a low profile when it comes to the gossip mill, Jar’s bromantic counterpart, Jensen Ackles, and wife Danneel Harris haven’t been so lucky. The latest word on the relatively new newlyweds? Pregnancy!


So should we expect a Jensen Jr. soon?


“Nope! It’s not me,” Danneel dished to us when we said we’d caught wind she might be knocked up.


Ya hear that, Super-fanatics?


See, we didn’t think this was so much a baby bump-watched based on behind-the-scenes whispering (ya know, the way most rumors are started), but one created from nada by some gossip mongers on Twitter.


But figured we’d check in with the über-cool chick anyways.


So when can we expect the Ackles brood to add a baby or two?


“We are waiting till the Supernatural ends,” Danneel spilled. “That guy works too much.”


That, and nothing would start pandemonium amongst the Jackles fans like a preggo wife—heck, even Danneel knows that she’s mucho, uh, debated amongst her hubby’s fans.


Well, D., we can’t wait till you’ve got a bun in the oven—that’s sure to be one adorable offspring.


See you soon, babe!





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