Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pole Dancing, the 1st Amendment and Zoning

From the Post-Gazette:

The Butler County woman who got national attention last year when she sued Adams Township for its refusal to allow her to open a pole-dancing studio has settled her case.

Stephanie Babines, of Cranberry, will receive $75,000 in damages
and attorney's fees to end the federal lawsuit in which she claimed a violation
of her First Amendment rights to freedom of expression.

Ms. Babines, who has a master's degree in project management, has been involved in pole dancing for about three years. Last February, she leased space at 222 Mars-Valencia Road to open a dance studio. After spending about $10,000 on renovations to the former children's clothing store, she was told by the township code enforcement officer she would not be allowed to open because he believed it was an adult business.

I find this an interesting story and turn of events. Personally, I think it is laughable that teaching exercise classes with a sexual theme counts as an "adult business" while Pittsburgh lets a bath house operate as a health facility. While I don't really get the appeal of pole dancing, I have to be honest that the only person I ever knew who took it for exercise was someone who behaved in sexually inappropriate ways in the workplace all the time so my insight is limited. (It is one thing to pole dance, it is another to demonstrate it for your clearly uncomfortable coworkers.)

Granted, these are two different governing bodies with different regulations. Still, the facility that allows women to express their sexuality in what really does amount to a healthy way (exercise) is labeled "adult entertainment" while the club (Club Pittsburgh) where men "allegedly" engage in sexual contact and film pornography gets a pass? Come on.

Ms. Babines teaches several classes, including striptease, hoop aerobics, power
lap dance, Stiletto Strut, belly and salsa dancing, SeXXXercise -- an ab and
core workout -- as well as pole dancing.

Again, we can have a discussion about the impact of her business --- does it exploit the culture of female objectification or turn it on its head? But unless she has a viewing room with private booths and popcorn, it is hardly an adult business.

Still, Ms. Babines fought her battle in public with the assistance of the ACLU because she wasn't trying to skate beneath the surface of zoning regulations -- she had a legitimate appeal. What she did not do was "pay to play" with the Mayor to get the zoning commission to turn their heads the other way. Good for her. Her club is properly zoned and will be properly inspected.

I have a few thoughts still rolling around in my head:

1. Is this form of exercise exploitative?
2. Would I feel differently if a man opened the club?
3. If she had been zoned adult entertainment, but given a permit, would it have been an acceptable solution for Ms. Babines?
4. How different are these classes from the belly dancing classes that are all the rage in Pittsburgh's women and feminist communities?

What do you think?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Lynn Cullen Facebook

I set up a group on Facebook to share the WAMO contact information and see how many people will sign up. A long, long time ago, I tried to get a petition going to bring another former radio talk host back on the air and learned that it really does boil down to advertisers. So while joining a group and sending an email is important, talking with the people you know who advertised on Lynn's former show is the way to go. If you know someone at Castle Windows, call them up.

What will be helpful in that regard is if you can say XXX amount of people signed up in support of Lynn.

Here's the link

My $.02 --- diversifying Pittsburgh's airwaves is a good thing. Making way for new voices isn't going to bring in a group of young fresh perspectives. That's going to happen online. Lynn is my ideal top choice to get back on the air because she's smart, liberal and engaging. She may not be 100% on all liberal issues, but who really is? I can't think of another talk show host that shares the same or more of my personal values. Besides, the important thing is she gets people thinking about my issues with good information and that's all I can ask.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Can we get Lynn Cullen back on the air again?

My friend Gina sent this email:

Chuck McDermott, is spearheading a campaign to get Lynn Cullen back on the radio.

Please contact Chuck, (not me, I know nothing!), if you have ideas or can help

It seems that WAMO is interested but may need a little encouragement.

Here's the summary of Chuck's email:

Date: Monday, January 26, 2009, 9:46 AM
lynn cullen's latest show was canceled because the station, wptt 1360, went to an all business, all the time format... it was reported that lynn's show was the station's only money maker

lynn has informed us that many fans have emailed KDKA radio asking them to put her on the air they're falling on deaf ears.

WAMO is very interested in giving her a regular time slot if her former advertisers commit to buying time on wamo. she said that this process is at least a month off.

it seems an opportune time to conduct a communication campaign with wamo to give the station a bit of a nudge. we should employ all forms of communications, ie. telephone, email, postal mail, etc. with the basic message--we have heard lynn is being considered and we want her on wamo.


matthews was a jerk too in my eyes.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Now that's good eatin'

I've been cruising down the internet byways today & came across this tidbit...

The dining industry has coined a new term, "breastaurant", easy to guess what THAT refers to, right?

Hooters is the ubiquitous first place holder, although they, too, are experiencing a reduction (had to say it) in business & are trying to market themselves as a family restaurant.

For those not in the know Family Restaurant is different from Horny Men Restaurant. In order to change from a Horny Men Restaurant to a Family Restaurant I'd imagine more than a new coat of paint'd be involved. But what do I know?

A smarty pants up & coming competitor is "Twin Peaks", no I am not kidding, I wish I was.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

New Post Gazette Resource

Speaking of letters to the editor, here is a new opportunity to engage Post-Gazette readers. It is an online Community Forum.

You can participate in general forums, but also comment on letters to the editor and other pieces. I still encourage you to write letters for the print edition. I'm pleased by how many people read them.

PG Letter

Following up on Gloria's earlier post, two letters appeared in today's Post-Gazette. One decried the opposition to the County Anti-Discrimination ordinance. The other tackled the dreadful coverage of the public hearing. Democracy in action.

My God's Better than your God

As I watched Rick Warren give his invocation I did alot of yelling at the t.v.

Here are a few of the BIG screams:

1. RW, "...everything we see and everything we can't see exists because of you, (God), alone..."

So all people exist b/c of God, right? I bet RW believes God is good, by extension, wouldn't that make all of God's creations good?

2. RW asks God to help us all "...remember that we are Americans, united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all."

RW, you've done enough preaching about this stuff - howsabout practicing some of it?

3. RW tells God "...When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the Earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us."

All by his lonesome, Rick's keeping God busy 24/7 on this.

P.S. Even though Rick sprinkled his hypocritical blather with phrases closely associated with other religions, he makes it abundantly clear that by 'God', he means his, Rick Warren's, God.

Not yours.

Minimize 'em.

My friend was talking about how he approaches conversations about issues like pro-choice and gay rights with conservatives.

He doesn't get into a debate with them, instead he kinda grunts and says, "Well. I'm for limited government. The less I see of them, the better." This not only presents an apathetic view (although I know that he's not apathetic on these issues) but it minimizes their concerns while offering the same argument that many conservatives are always fighting. What conservative is going to say "I want more government"? If they do, he just says, "Well I really hate taxes, too."

I thought this was an interesting way to go at this. Tonight, a pro-life friend of mine started talking about pro-life stuff.

I calmly listened, said, "Well. You know, the economy's pretty bad right now. Most people don't really vote on that [the pro-life/pro-choice] issue. And frankly, I'm all for limited government."

She didn't really have much to say in response and the conversation ended.

She's welcome to her opinion and I respect her but it's not going to change my mind and I hate listening to her pro-life views. My point of view isn't going to change her mind, either, and I know this.

I was really relieved when this tactic worked and the conversation shifted.

Limited Government. Get outta my bedroom. I keep my guns in there.

I like this strategy.


-Agent Ska-

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Google Groups

Anyone else having trouble logging in to Google Groups to manage groups? I log in, see my groups, but when I click the message comes up that I am not a member. I am able to send a message to the group owner which comes right to my email address. I cannot access the groups to which I am just a member, either.

I am able to log into GoogleGroups using my work email to access work groups of which I am not an owner at all.

Anyone else having problems? There are dozens of email messages at the Google Help Forums with the same problem. Does anyone actually know someone at Google? A buddy at CMU you can call? :-)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lily Tomlin heads to Pittsburgh

Saturday, February 7, 2009 8 PM
Benedum CenterPittsburgh, PA

An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin is a nostalgic and warm presentation of Lily's "greatest hits" with more than a dozen of her famous characters -- including the precocious 6-year-old Edith Ann, the irascible telephone operator Ernestine, the aging beauty adviser Madame Lupe, Lucille the rubber addict, prim Judith Beasley from Calumet City, Indiana, and Lily's most profound character, Trudy, the schizophrenic street lady who starred in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. It will be a night of cerebral comedy and prescient social commentary woven among Lily's affectionate reminiscences about her childhood in the Midwest.

Lily Tomlin has won six Emmys, two Tony awards and a Grammy for her astounding body of work that includes the landmark comedy series, “Laugh-In.” Her one woman performance in Jane Wagner’s “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe” also won a CableAce Award for its film adaptation. Other movies include Robert Altman’s THE PLAYER and SHORT CUTS, Joel Schumacher’s comedy THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WOMAN, Woody Allen’s SHADOWS AND FOG, 9 TO 5 with Dolly Parton, ORANGE COUNTY, FLIRTING WITH DISASTER and I HEART HUCKABEES. Her memorable television roles include “Murphy Brown,” “Will and Grace” and “The West Wing.”

Tickets to Lily Tomlin may be purchased at the Theater Square Box Office 655 Penn Avenue, near 7th Street (Mon-Sat 9-9, Sun Noon-6), charge by phone at 412-456-6666 or online at Prices are $100, $67 and $57.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Promoting Things

I just want to go on the record as saying that all bloggers in The Society are welcome to promote events and activities of their interest. We receive occasional press releases (see two previous posts) announcing upcoming events that might be of interest. Typically, Agent Ska and I manage to post the most interesting things.

But please feel free to post things, too. And add us to press release distributions. This isn't meant to be a calendar of events, but it can be a great way to get a little content out there explaining why folks should pay attention to your events.

Jennie McNulty - Lesbian, Comic, Pittsburgh Bound on February 13

Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents will have an interview with Jennie posted prior to her show. This is a good chance to show your appreciation for openly LGBTQ performers stopping in Pittsburgh. It is only $10.00! Plus, Valentine's Day eve ... perfect gift for the queer woman in your life, lover or not.

For Immediate Release
As seen on MTV Network's LOGO TV and AFTERELLEN.COM
Comedian Jennie McNulty to perform at Club Café Pittsburgh, PA
Friday February 13, 2009 at 7:30 PM
Jennie McNulty's humor is smart, quick and hysterically funny. Her playfully sarcastic style and easy delivery engages every crowd. Whether calling on crazy life experiences or something the audience just said, her material is refreshingly unique and her show is full of laughter and guaranteed fun. The New England Blade called her "One of the premiere female comedians in the country." Jennie was voted one of the Top 10 Funniest Lesbians in America recently also.
Jennie can currently be seen on the premier episode of the successful comedy series, "One Night Stand Up" on MTV Network's LOGO channel ( And she is also the host of the weekly video blog, "Walking Funny With..." on ( This unique new vlog is a walking talk show where Jennie takes a walk with fabulous women from the worlds of comedy and sports while she interviews them. The viewer is encouraged to download the show and walk along. Hilarious conversation, motivational fitness tips and comedy clips from Jennie's shows and clips from the guest's comedy or activity are all packed into one of the most exciting new video blogs to hit the internet.

In addition to headlining in comedy clubs all over the US and Canada, Jennie has traveled the world doing comedy – literally. She has entertained the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. McNulty also does comedy in more peaceful settings as one of the favorites of Olivia Cruises and Resorts. Jennie spends her summer seasons performing nightly in Provincetown, MA. In addition to touring as a solo stand up comedy act, Jennie tours with the Improv Troop she founded called, "Queer on Their Feet." She produces a monthly "Rainbow Comedy Night" in Ventura, California also.

And, most undoubtedly, Jennie is one of the only professional comics who also happens to play on a women's professional football team, The California Quake

Jennie McNulty will be performing at Club Café 56-58 South 12th Street Pittsburgh, PA 15203 on Friday February 13, 2009 at 7:30 PM. Advance Tickets sold online via TicketWeb. Tickets are $10. For further show information contact 412-431-4950.

For Information, Booking and Interviews Contact: Taylor Santo at or 408-202-5564

Saturday, January 17, 2009

CCAC Looking for Speakers on Women

Good afternoon! It is my pleasure to be writing to you on behalf of the Department of Student Life at CCAC’s South Campus in regards to our Women’s History Month Activities.

We are currently seeking speakers, presenters, athletes, artists, and so forth that may be willing to travel to our campus and spend time with our students. Topics that we have a special interest in are:
- Women in the arts
- Women in sports/ title IX (this semester we are excited to be offering softball and basketball for women as new programs)
- Pay equity
- Women and violence, with an emphasis on the historical conditions that have contributed to violence against women
- Young women/men and their need to understand women’s history
- Women and environmental advocacy

If anyone could be of assistance, could refer us, or knows of other organizations that would be able to refer us we would appreciate any kind of assistance. We are open to a wide range of presentation styles and topics!

Many thanks, Tara Zirkel Director of Student Life
CCAC South Campus,

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sending Letters to the Editor

There's been discussion/displeasure with the article the P-G did on County Council's public hearing last night. Perhaps a few letters to the editors of papers that have covered this story are in order.

Keep letters to the editor brief, sane & personalize/referencing an article in the publication. Send them via email, it's easier for paper's staff to use, include your name/phone/email/address.

Articles on last night's County Council Hearing:

1. Post-Gazette
"Discrimination bill draws large crowd" by Karamagi Rujumba
Email letters to the editor:

2. Tribune Review
"Council hears debate on anti-discrimination bill" by Tim Puko
Email letters to the editor:

3. Pittsburgh City Paper
They've done several fair & thoughtful articles on this issue.
Email letters to the editor:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Oh what a night!

I wasn't able to go to the Public Hearing on the non discrimination ordinance, but I've read some reports & heard a story on WTAE's news.

In a nutshell, attendance was standing room only, approximately 100 people were outside of the meeting room, waiting to get in.

Attendees were about 2/3 in favor of the ordinance's glbt inclusion, 1/3 against.

Council Prez. Fitzgerald remarked that the huge turn out was record breaking! They're getting your calls & emails too.

Thank you, thank you all for supporting HUMANS' rights in Allegheny County!

Tonight, tonight

Baby, I know it's cold outside. It's also cold in the hearts & minds of some of our elected officials, they don't believe that equal rights are for everybody.

Whether you're glbt or hetero or whatever, if you're HUMAN, please attend tonight's Public Hearing on inclusion of the glbt community in County's non discrimination ordinance.

County Council Public Hearing
TONIGHT, Thursday, January 15 - at 5 p.m.
Gold Room, 4th Floor County Court House, 436 Grant St.

While it's too late to register to speak, a large attendance of allies will go a long way in 'speaking' to our elected officials.

If you can't attend, please contact them soon:

Our hero, sponsor of the legislation:
Amanda Green District 13 350-6585
Rich Fitzgerald, Pres. District 11 350-6575
John DeFazio At-Large 350-6516
Chuck McCullough At-Large 350-6520
*Matt Drozd District 1 350-6525
Jan Rea District 2 350-6530
James Burn, Jr. District 3 350-6535
*Michael Finnerty District 4 350-6540
Vince Gastgeb District 5 350-6545
Joan Cleary District 6 350-6550
Nicholas Futules District 7 350-6555
Charles Martoni, VP District 8 350-6560
*Robert J. Macey District 9 350-6565
William Robinson District 10 350-6570
*James Ellenbogen District 12 350-6580

* County Council Members who withdrew support to include GLBT rights protection in Cty. ordinance

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Today's LGBT rally is on

This just in from Sue Kerr:


Weather be damned, here's the scoop:

Saturday, January 10 Time: from 2 - 4 p.m.

Location: Schenley Plaza in Oakland, between the Carnegie & Hillman Libraries.
Free hot coffee and warming tents will be provided.

Assorted speakers from various walks of life have confirmed they're coming.

I hope you'll be coming too, see you at 2

Friday, January 9, 2009

Rally Tomorrow for GLBT Equal Rights in Allegheny County

It's tomorrow, see you there.

Big kudos to Sue Kerr & Lance Friedman for all of their organizing & outreach efforts.


Pittsburgh, PA - A rally supporting inclusion of GLBT residents’ rights to Countywide nondiscrimination in housing, employment and other contexts in Bill No. 4201-08, now before Allegheny County Council. Last November's Join The Impact rally drew 500 people - let's use the active support generated to focus on local and national issues, (like DOMA's repeal).

Date: Saturday, January 10 Time: from 2 - 4 p.m.
Location: Schenley Plaza in Oakland, between the Carnegie Library and the Hillman Library.
Free hot coffee and warming tents will be provided


Several Council members have withdrawn their support of inclusion due to intense lobbying by ultra conservative groups from outside of Allegheny County, they are: Councilmen Drozd, Ellenbogen, Finnerty and Macey. Rally co-organizer Sue Kerr states, “We lost another co-sponsor, Councilman Bob Macey, (a former steelworker), from my hometown of West Mifflin. I could actually show Councilman Macey the dents in the lockers at West Mifflin High School where the gay kids were shoved on a regular basis. I could take him to my parent's living room and have a man with 40 years in the mills, many Republican votes and a regular attendance at Mass explain why his daughter's partner is part of the family.”

Event Emcee: Gab Bonesso

Event Speakers: Sponsor of the County’s ordinance, Councilwoman Amanda Green, State Representative Chelsa Wagner, (co-sponsor of HB 1400 which takes anti-discrimination protection to the state level), City Council President Doug Shields, City Councilmen Bruce Kraus and Bill Peduto and City Controller Michael Lamb.

Additional Speakers: Reverend Janet Edwards, Dana Elmendorf, political pundit John McIntire, Kris Rust, Reverend Deryck Tines, Sandra Telep, trans activist Miranda Vey and representatives from organizations including Steel City Stonewall Democrats.

Rally co-organizer Lance Friedman states, “I urge people to contact their County Council Members before coming to the rally. People can go to for their County Council Members’ contact information and talking points about the Ordinance.”

Attendees will also be encouraged to speak at/attend County Council’s public hearing on Thursday, January 15 at 5 p.m., in the County Building downtown. To speak at the hearing, contact John Mascio at or (412-350-6495).

Rally Sponsors: the after8pgh blog,, The Delta Foundation,, Marriage Equality USA -SW PA, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, Pittsburgh PFLAG, Pittsburgh, Steel City Stonewall Democrats,


by Lucille Clifton

me and you be sisters.
we be the same.

me and you
coming from the same place.

me and you
be greasing our legs
touching up our edges.

me and you
be scared of rats
be stepping on roaches.

me and you
come running high down purdy street one time
and mama laugh and shake her head at
me and you.

me and you
got babies
got thirty-five
got black
let our hair go back
be loving ourselves
be loving ourselves
be sisters.

only where you sing,
I poet.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


wishes for sons
by Lucille Clifton

i wish them cramps.
i wish them a strange town
and the last tampon.
I wish them no 7-11.

i wish them one week early
and wearing a white skirt.
i wish them one week late.

later i wish them hot flashes
and clots like you
wouldn't believe. let the
flashes come when they
meet someone special.
let the clots come
when they want to.

let them think they have accepted
arrogance in the universe,
then bring them to gynecologists
not unlike themselves.