The Gaston Gazette is reporting that conservative state senator Jim Forrester died today at age 74. Forrester represented Gaston and Iredell counties for nearly two decades, but the Republican was more recently known for his opposition to same-sex marriage.
Forrester earned a legislative victory in September when the Legislature approved a statewide constitutional referendum on whether to ban gay marriage in North Carolina. Voters will decide the fate of that referendum in May. Forrester has pushed for the constitutional amendment for several sessions.
Forrester had also come under some fire for comments he made about African Americans, in 2010.
PFLAG invited the 10-term Republican senator from Gaston County to meet with its membership after he reportedly said, “slick city lawyers and homosexual lobbies and African-American lobbies are running Raleigh,” during a Tuesday meeting of the Iredell County Young Republicans.
While some groups didn't like what Forrester said and stood for, a look at the user comments on the Gaston Gazette's web site shows that he had his supporters.
Statement from state senators Bill Purcell and Martin Nesbitt:
We had the honor to work with Senator Forrester during his tenure in the state Senate and know that he always worked hard for the citizens of his district. Although we come from different political parties and often had differing opinions, we hold great respect for Jim and called him a friend. We worked with him closely on the Health and Human Services Committee over the years and as a doctor he brought a necessary level of expertise to Senate deliberations on health care matters. We are deeply saddened to hear of his passing and our thoughts go out to his family. He will be missed in the state Senate.
LGBT advocate and blogger Pam Spaulding from Pam's House Blend said this to Creative Loafing in an email about Forrester's death:
"It’s tragic that the man didn’t leave this earth with a more compassionate view of humanity. Even in this terrible, emotional situation for Forrester’s family, his anti-gay wife, Mary Frances, made it publicly and politically clear with the “go out with his boots on and support the causes in which he believed to his last breath” comment to ensure the public that there would be no deathbed conversion regarding the discrimination amendment or his views of the civil rights of LGBT North Carolinians.
I’m not sure why Mrs. Forrester felt the need to politicize her husband’s health decline and passing like this; it would certainly not be foremost on my mind in this kind of situation, but there you have it. It's quite sad."
Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, Oct. 31, 2011 — as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.
• Bad Moon Rising Film Series, screening An American Werewolf in London at Neighborhood Theatre
• Buff Faye's Halloween Murder Mystery Drag Diner: Who Gone & Done It? at Hartigan's Irish Pub
• $1,000 Halloween Costume Party at Flying Saucer
• Night of Terrors: Vampires Vs. Space Zombies at Central Station
GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain has been hit with a report claiming that he sexually harassed women in the 1990s while he was head of the National Restaurant Association.
The claim comes at a time when Cain's star is on the rise — for better or worse. Over the last month, he's been winning straw polls, taking attention away from once GOP favorite Mitt Romney. Just last week, his smoking-man campaign video went viral.
In the video, posted this week on YouTube, Cain's top aide, Mark Block, in a close-up, says the candidate "will put the united back in United States. … We've run a campaign like nobody's ever seen. But then, America's never seen a candidate like Herman Cain."
The kicker: Block takes a long thoughtful pull on a cigarette and blows smoke into the lens.
No one but villains has smoked onscreen for decades, so Block's drag quickly became the puff of legend. The video was picked up by political news shows and blogs and parodied on Comedy Central's Colbert Report. It scored more than 870,000 views on Cain's YouTube channel.
It was also awarded a slot on several lists of the wackiest political ads ever. Democratic consultant James Carville, echoing a pundit consensus that the ad made little sense, concluded Block was "drunk or stoned,'' he said Thursday on ABC's Good Morning America.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Cain has raised $3 million in October alone.
And now the sexual harassment.
In a statement to The Associated Press, his campaign disputed a Politico report that said Cain had been accused of sexually suggestive behavior toward at least two female employees.
The report said the women signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them five-figure financial payouts to leave the association and barred them from discussing their departures. Neither woman was identified.
The report was based on anonymous sources and, in one case, what the publication said was a review of documentation that described the allegations and the resolution.
Cain's campaign told the AP that the allegations were not true, and amounted to unfair attacks.
"Inside-the-Beltway media have begun to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on Cain," spokesman J.D. Gordon said in a written statement. "Dredging up thinly sourced allegations stemming from Mr. Cain's tenure as the Chief Executive Officer at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, political trade press are now casting aspersions on his character and spreading rumors that never stood up to the facts."
Asked if Cain's campaign was denying the report, Gordon said, "Yes."
Cain, whose staff hasn't responded to two email requests for interviews from Creative Loafing, is the former CEO of GodFather's Pizza and made his presence known nationally in GOP debates by focusing on his 9-9-9 economic plan.
Now he's facing the two words that can derail a political career — sexual harassment. It will be particularly difficult if this is how he plans to address it:
In its report, Politico said it confronted Cain early Sunday outside of the CBS News Washington bureau, where he had just been interviewed on "Face the Nation."
"I am not going to comment on that," he told Politico when asked specifically about one of the woman's claims.
When asked if he had ever been accused of harassment by a woman, he responded, Politico said, by asking the reporter, "Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?"
Early Saturday morning, an investigative reporter for Creative Loafing's sister publication in Nashville, the Scene, was arrested along with 25 Occupy Nashville demonstrators and hauled off to jail. Jonathan Meador, 26, had been covering the protest at Legislative Plaza around midnight when some 60 to 75 Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers gave a 10-minute warning and then moved in and made the arrests. Demonstrators were held on charges ranging from public intoxication to criminal trespass.
Within hours of the arrest, Chris Ferrell, CEO of SouthComm Media — owner of the Scene, CL-Charlotte and CL-Tampa, as well as The Pitch, in Kansas City, Mo., and Leo Weekly, in Louisville, Ky. — fired off an email to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam's press secretary. "I expect the Governor to publicly apologize to [Meador] for this violation of his rights and to assure the people of Tennessee that this administration will not interfere with the right to a free press..."
On Oct. 27, Haslam's administration imposed a 10 p.m. curfew on several government properties, but the magistrate that heard the cases early Saturday told police he could “find no authority anywhere for anyone to authorize a curfew anywhere on Legislative Plaza,” according to a report in Nashville's daily paper, The Tennessean.
The American Civil Liberties Union says it will challenge the curfew in court as early as Monday morning. "This is sort of a basic, core right to protest," Hedy Weinberg, director of the ACLU's Tennessee chapter, told The Tennessean. “The state cannot change the rules in the middle of the game, which is what’s happening, and the state knows that they cannot change the policy and selectively apply it.”
In the past week, officials in other cities have begun cracking down on the Occupy movement, most notably in Oakland, Calif., where police badly wounded protester and Iraq veteran Scott Olsen in a clash with occupiers there. In New York City, 30 to 40 firefighters descended on Occupy Wall Street's campsite at Zuccotti Park to confiscate the generators and gas canisters that were keeping the occupiers warm. In Charlotte, comments from former Mayor Pat McCrory indicated that he might have imposed restrictions similar to those in Tennessee had he become North Carolina's governor in 2008.
"You can't allow people to take over," McCrory told WBTV on Oct. 19, referring the Occupy Charlotte campsite at the Old City Hall on Trade Street. "You allow them to protest, that's what our Constitution allows, but you can't allow them to occupy."
McCrory may be constitutionally incapable of understanding the "right of the people peaceably to assemble" part of the First Amendment, but city council member Michael Barnes seems to have a pretty good handle on it. Barnes, a member of Charlotte's public safety committee, told WBTV it concerned him "to have political leaders talking about curtailing peoples' Constitutional rights." He said the occupiers have the right to "stay as long as they want. As long as they're not damaging property or violating any local ordinances or other laws, I have no issue with them staying here."
That said, Charlotte city officials are considering an ordinance that could mean the removal of tents at the Occupy Charlotte campsite, according to a Friday story in the Charlotte Observer. Officials claim they're considering the ordinance in anticipation of next year's Democratic National Convention, and that, interestingly, they may "expire" the ordinance after the convention is over. Democratic Mayor Anthony Foxx told the Observer that he is more interested in public safety than First Amendment rights during what Democrats are calling the "people's convention." When asked if the city could use the proposed ordinance to evict the Occupy protesters after they've already been allowed to pitch their tents at the Old City Hall grounds for weeks, the mayor commented, "I don't have a legal answer to that question yet."
As promised in an earlier post, CL is bringing you voices from the occupation of Charlotte — individual participants, in their own words, talking about why they joined the local Occupy movement.
We asked each person the same three questions: Who are you? Where are you from? Why are you here?
Here's a list of the voices we've collected so far, with more to come:
Rederanged: "I'm tired of not being able to find work."
Dom and Jacob: "I'm here to help fight for the democracy."
Matthew: "Corporate America has really gone to the shits."
Joseph: "We have so much ability to provide."
JusCaus (aka J.C.) "Getting money out of politics."
A song called "Dick" from local musicians
Cole: "He got laid off ... had to declare bankruptcy"
Tiger: "We need clean air; we need it now."
David: "Something needs to be done."
Deacon Don: "There's been an injustice."
Steve: "Silence is consent."
Voices from students at OccupyUNCC
Raleigh occupiers get arrested, Charlotte occupiers get a bank account
24 Hours with Occupy Charlotte
Occupy Charlotte: Working Out the Glitches
CMPD holds Occupy Charlotte press conference
Listen to voices from Wednesday's #OccupyUNCC
Who are the 99 percent?
Oct. 1: The birth of Occupy Charlotte
In discussing social-media websites like Facebook and Twitter, some are guilty of looking the gift horse in the mouth, complaining that ever-expanding online communities are huge time-sucks that take people away from physical interaction. Others, however, believe social media can be a catalyst for social change, an important tool in uniting and empowering like-minded people. The Social Media Masquerade at Gil Gallery Thursday night highlighted the positive effects of this staple of the Digital Age on young Latinos.
The event celebrated the group Latinos in Social Media (LATISM), a nationwide non-profit organization which has launched five new chapters in the last three months, including one in Charlotte. The nonpartisan group, dedicated to advancing the social, civic and economic status of the Latino community, has a strong online presence, with about 90,000 Facebook members and 10 million hashtag impressions daily on Twitter.
Brian Cockman, director of LATISM Charlotte, describes himself as “a 100% gringo who is somewhat of a Latin-phile.” He first got involved with LATISM by browsing through Twitter. “Every Thursday night at 9 p.m. there's a LATISM party on Twitter, and it's people discussing education, health, and other issues affecting Latinos," Cockman said. "I just started joining the party, at first as a voyeur." A little more than a year ago, LATISM national's communications chair Elian Ramos contacted Cockman and asked if he would be interested in starting a Charlotte chapter. Cockman was thrilled: "I said, 'most definitely!'"
Edwin Gil, the artist whose gallery hosted the launch, learned about LATISM through Cockman. Gil said the group seemed like a “great way to promote Latin culture through social media," so he decided to mix LATISM with an art exhibit. The party proved successful, with more than 100 mask-wearing attendees mingling among Gil's colorful conceptual paintings. “These relationships were formed through Twitter. Until tonight I had never met any of these people in person," said Cockman. “One of the main things that we wanted to do here in Charlotte was to take all of these online conversations and turn it into off-line community action.”
Halfway through the night Cockman, along with Rafael Rodriguez, co-director of LATISM Charlotte, spoke more in-depth to the crowd about the group's goals. “Technology has changed the way we communicate,” said Rodriguez. “Now we have the power to tell our own stories, not only for ourselves. Social media is here to stay, to open up communication channels.”
Cockman stressed the importance of community on LATISM. “You don't have to be a Latino to be part of Latinos in Social Media," he said. "You just have to be willing to support your fellow brothers and sisters, no matter where they come from or what kind of accent they have.”
We are surrounded by fully-professional theater companies here in Charlotte — all we need to do is drive about 100 miles or so to see ‘em. That’s what I did last weekend, driving up to Winston-Salem last Saturday evening for a preview performance of the Festival Stage production of The Exact Center of the Universe. My wife Sue and I stayed overnight, visited some close relatives, and caught the Sunday matinee of Ibsen’s A Doll House, presented in Greensboro by Triad Stage.
Homegrown professional theater productions, acted and stage-managed by members of the Actors’ Equity Association, are a fine idea, even in cities that don’t aspire to hosting a national political convention. They could work here, I’m absolutely sure.
If you’re interested in seeing two extraordinary performances by actresses in peak form, I’d recommend getting onto I-85 and following in my wake this weekend.
Homing in on their tenth anniversary, Triad has already produced two Ibsen classics, Hedda Gabler and Ghosts. Preston Lane obviously has an affinity for the Norwegian father of modern drama, for once again, the Triad artistic director has newly adapted the work he’s bringing to the Pyrle Theater stage.
The Human Rights Campaign of North Carolina needs your help in selecting people worthy of being honored. The group issued a press release today calling for nominees for its annual gala.
Here are the details:
The Human Rights Campaign North Carolina Gala Steering Committee is now accepting nominations for its awards and scholarships surrounding the Gala, scheduled for Feb. 25, 2012 at the Charlotte Convention Center.
"It's important that we celebrate our successes and recognize the hard work of our community," says Gala co-chair Rich Hurley. "The gala committee is excited to open the award nomination process for the 2012 HRC North Carolina Gala. We encourage everyone to nominate a person or organization they feel has made a significant impact over the past year."
Awards to be presented at the HRC NC Gala will honor individuals and organizations that have furthered the progress of civil rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community. Nominations are now being accepted for the following honors:
The 2012 HRC NC Equality Award: an organization and an outstanding individual that has demonstrated a passion and drive to eliminate discrimination for LGBT people.
The 2012 Legacy Award: an individual who has a consistent and significant list of contributions to the LGBT community and be seen as a role model to others.
The Community Service Award: an individual or an organization that has made superior contributions at the grassroots level to issues or concerns of the LGBT community and its allies.
The application/nomination process for NC Gala scholarships and fellowships is now open as well. As an Emerging Leader Scholarship recipient, you will receive a free ticket to the dinner and you are asked to provide volunteer support at the Convention Center the day of the Gala. Also, you will be eligible for an opportunity to attend training at HRC national headquarters.
The annual HRC NC Gala aims to be inclusive, regardless of level of income and other differences. A limited number of fellowships to those who demonstrate need and would not otherwise be able to attend the dinner without financial assistance. Those receiving the fellowship can attend the Gala at a reduced dinner ticket price.
The application/nomination deadline for awards is Monday, Oct. 31, 2011. The deadline for scholarship application/nomination is Monday, Nov. 28, 2011.
For more information on awards and scholarships (including application forms), and to purchase 2012 HRC North Carolina Gala tickets, visit www.hrccarolina.org.
By Matt Brunson
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)
DIRECTED BY John Landis
STARS David Naughton, Jenny Agutter
Writer-director John Landis' tongue-in-bloody-cheek horror yarn is considered in some circles to be the best werewolf film ever made, yet as I’ve stated before, I belong to the group that prefers 1981’s other wolfman hit, The Howling (to say nothing of 1941's definitive The Wolf Man). Still, until it derails at the end, Landis' piece does a nice job of mixing its horror with humor.
Yankee tourists David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are backpacking across the English moors when they're attacked by a frightful man-beast; Jack is killed, but David is only injured and shipped off to London to recuperate. A lovely nurse (Jenny Agutter) takes him under her wing, but David begins to doubt his own sanity after he's confronted by a decomposing Jack, who informs his friend that he'll turn into a werewolf during the next full moon.
Landis goes with the flow here, referencing classic wolfman flicks through the dialogue, cramming the soundtrack with appropriately titled oldies ("Blue Moon," "Bad Moon Rising"), and even taking some good-natured digs at English mores and manners. Unfortunately, he runs out of steam just before the finish line, as the film ends with the sort of chaos (crashing cars, falling bodies) that was appropriate in the director's previous hits (National Lampoon's Animal House and The Blues Brothers) but proves to be embarrassing and insufficient here.
For his excellent work, Rick Baker won the Best Makeup Oscar in its first year as an annual (rather than occasional) award. For the record, the only other nominee that initial year was fellow makeup/FX great Stan Winston, cited for transforming Andy Kaufman and Bernadette Peters into shiny robots in the box office disaster Heartbeeps.
(An American Werewolf in London will be screened at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31, at the Neighborhood Theatre, 511 East 36th St. The movie is being shown as part of the Bad Moon Rising series presented by The Light Factory, The Neighborhood Theatre, Actor’s Theatre, and Visart Video. Doors open at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Details here.)
I normally don't get involved in little debates like this, and I want to preface…