Oct 25, 2010

Interview with Mega Ran





SFCB: Explain for those who may not know, about your moniker of "Mega-Ran" and your relationship with CapCom who puts out the MegaMan games.

Mega Ran: Well, Mega Ran began when I hit a bit of a creative wall in my career, around late 2006. I had released my first album, The Call and felt like I had said all I had to say in the realm of underground hip hop. So I imposed a little hip-hop exodus and wound up coming back to video games, the ones I had played as a youth particularly, and Mega Man was the one I played the most.

The music inspired me to make an entire album using Mega Man tunes, and so I named the album Mega Ran.  The name kind of stuck, and people started referring to me as Mega Ran, so much so, that now I've become Random, aka Mega Ran. I called up my favorite producers who had helped me on the previous album; DN3, Samik and Storyville, among others, and got to work.

Later, Capcom, the company that makes the games, heard of my music online and to my surprise, told me that they were fans of my music and wanted to officially back the project. Fast forward and I'm appearing in places I never thought I'd see myself; from Wired Magazine to Nintendo Power to Comic Con. Real talk, I used to draw ideas for Mega Man bosses in my sketch book in middle school. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this would be successful, let alone something I'd still be talking about 4 years later.

SFCB: I have noticed that a lot of the really good music that has come out, particularly in hip hop, has been of the indie variety.   It seems that when you're on a major label, that the ability to be creative and think outside the box is curbed, out of fears of not succeeding.


An example I always use is Bubba Sparxxx's sophomore album Deliverance.  An album I think is his finest, and one of my favorite albums of all time.   I thought it was very creative and intelligent, and yet it only sold about 300 thousand copies.  After that he was dropped from his label, and then he put out that atrocious single Ms. New Booty and the equally atrocious video for it, and yet that was a hit.  On the Rock music side, George Michael put out his debut album Faith and it sold a ton of records.  Then he came out with a more introspective and intelligent album of socially aware music which was nothing like his debut called "Listen Without Prejudice Volume 1", and it didn't sell as well, and as a result he ended up in a bitter back and forth with Sony.


It's the same with virtually any type of music.  In the old days bands could put out 10 or 20 albums, nowadays if you have an album that doesn't sell a million or more copies, you're looked at as a liability, and the artist no longer has the luxury of time to grow and evolve their sound.


Why do you think the music industry has become like this?

Mega Ran: I know a million examples just like the Bubba Sparxxx one. I'd like to think that I'm a music fan first, to quote Eric Roberson's album title. I hate to sound like an old fuddy duddy, but the game has changed.  I'm glad you brought up the George Michael example, to show people that it's not just hip hop.  In general, being independent is so liberating,  you get to create without someone looking over your shoulders. There's no major label in the world that would have let me make video game music, then conscious hip hop. They want you to find your audience, your lane, and stay in it until it ends. I can't do that. I have friends with deals, both major and indie, and the ones on majors never seem as happy, and quite frankly aren't making music as strong as those on independents.

You're right, there's no time these days. I had a rep at Def Jam tell me that she wanted a song that could go on the radio, TOMORROW. There's no time or money for artist development, these labels want a ready made star who can record themselves and motivate themselves. They're out there, on YouTube, mostly, haha. But if you intend on building a solid career, it's best to not worry about the major label approach. Its a trade-off that most true artists shouldn't have to make. Anytime you have to sacrifice your art, or integrity, it's a bad deal, no matter what they're offering.




SFCB:  You put out a critically well received album with Panacea producer K-Murdock this year called Forever Famicom.  Talk about the Forever Famicom project, and how your Kickstarter campaign went.

Mega Ran: The Forever Famicom project was an extension on the Mega Ran idea of rapping over video game beats, but this time around all production was done by K-Murdock of Panacea, and all of the beats were beyond Mega Man, including all NES and SNES samples. We took our time with the album, the promo was on point, we did some great shows including showcasing last year's SXSW festival, and I think everything was just done really well. I love the album and still listen to it today. The album has taken on a bit of a life of its own, as we're now working on a DVD movie and vinyl release of the album, thanks to our immense Kickstarter success.

Forever Famicom is an album created for people like myself-- gamers and hip-hop heads. It's an album combining 8-bit and 16-bit samples of videogames on the Nintendo and Super Nintendo consoles with hip hop beats. All rhyming is done by myself, all production by K-Murdock of Panacea. We worked on the album for almost 3 years--slow cooked to perfection, ha. 

The support for Forever Famicom has been amazing-- it's only been 5 months and it's been selling better and faster than my previous projects.

So since the support never died for the FF album, we wanted to extend the movement somehow. A sprite artist, Griff Morivan, came up with the idea to draw up sprite videos for each song, led by a storyline, and those have been hugely popular. We developed a Kickstarter campaign to get the funds to get the album onto vinyl and DVD and that worked out greater than anyone could've imagined. The vinyl and DVD will be ready before year's end. I'm just so blessed and thankful to have supporters who believe in what K and I did.. this album is special for a lot of reasons. It just showed me that when you have a great idea, and don't rush it, things can work itself out.



SFCB:  You've had the honor of having your music being taught at several Universities, joining Tupac and the HBO series The Wire in that respect.   How does it feel knowing college students are listening to your music and getting school credit for it?




Mega Ran: It's amazing. This summer I did some guest lecturing at a few of the schools the album is in, and it's such an incredible feeling to know that some young child is not only listening to, but studying my lyrics and message. One of those achievements that I'd never set out to accomplish, because I never thought it was possible. It's a trip. This has really encouraged me to write a book, and God willing, in 2011 I will get started on that.


SFCB:  You were a teacher for several years, and I was wondering how the fact that you were also a rapper go over?  Was there any reactions from other faculty members about this, or was it really a non factor?

It always went over well.. I don't expect my co-workers to become huge fans, but the kids love it. I performed for my school dance once and the principal said, "Now that was very...interesting!" my ex-coworkers hit me up about shows, come out and support, it's great.

SFCB:  How did your students react to your music?  Were they all trying to get early releases or free tickets to shows?  Promising to do their homework if they get free tickets?

Mega Ran: I have always taught middle school, so they were too young to come to most shows. The kids would act like they were too cool when they saw or heard me, but during parent-teacher conferences the parents would come up to me and say "My kid plays your music videos all the time at home."  Their motivation is the freestyle, which I only do if the class averages 90% for their reading for the week.

Also I do a weekly drawing for CDs.  I've had some parents ask me to do private birthday parties for their students, which I can't do, but it's an honor that they even ask. I love the feedback I get from parents on my music, it's so awesome.


SFCB: Growing up it seemed that many of the teachers I had wanted to be there less than I did, and I often didn't wanna be there at all.   I wondered if it was a situation of a teacher simply biding his time, having put in decades already, and simply riding his time out, or if it was a situation of the older teachers being unable (or unwilling) to adapt to the newer generation of students?


Mega Ran: I guess its a combination. When your time is almost up, its easier to just let those students be,  than to take the time to learn what makes them tick. Kids are great in that they keep you on your toes.  They're like a puzzle... in a blender, haha. You have to take the pieces out and try to put it together on the fly. Today's kids are different, and I'm not that far removed from 7th grade. These kids know so much these days, and are bigger, stronger and quicker mentally. We just have to find out how to use it for good and not evil.

SFCB:  I don't suppose it was a coincidence that most of the "cool" teachers that were most able to get through to students and make learning fun, were the younger teachers.

Mega Ran: This is true.  I try not to tell the kids my age, but I think just because of the fact that I REMEMBER these years and situations, I know how to address them better.  Doesn't mean I don't freak out when one of my kids get a period for the first time  (laughs) but I think for as much as kids may think they want a hip teacher, they probably would prefer getting away with murder with an older teacher, because I know all their silly slang words, so I catch them in the act.

SFCB:  How did you go about making learning fun for the students, many of which probably would rather be somewhere else than school?


Mega Ran: Its draining, but I have to literally jump through hoops to keep them entertained and educated. They love moving around, so I try to incorporate things that'll allow movement.  They love music so if I can turn them onto new music and get them to see things for more than what they are, I feel good. They want Lil Wayne, but I just want to open them up to something that'll make them think outside the box a bit. They never know what's coming next. I played them Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody last week, haha.



SFCB: I have the utmost respect for anyone who's able to be a Teacher.  My mother has been in the education field for decades, first as a teacher and then as a professor, and now a Dean of Education at a University.   My brother is also a teacher in the Virginia/DC area. 


One thing that I always would be nervous about is how you read seemingly all the time about students making false allegations against teachers, sometimes for no other reason than they just wanted to see if they'd be believed.   Or the teacher punished them for something they did, so they lie about something and get them in trouble.  In some instances, such as allegations of sexual misconduct, the teacher's reputation would be ruined no matter if they were exonerated or not, just based on the accusations.


Having been a teacher, have you seen that type of thing where you have taught, or is it something that you feel perhaps is blown out of proportion?   And how do you protect yourself against things like that?

Mega Ran: No I've never seen it firsthand, since I teach the younger grades. I've heard stories of kids making up stories, getting behind each other to get a staff member fired, and I've seen it work. I can't say it's blown out of proportion, because it seems like it's happening every few months in the schools.

I was taught from a young age that as a teacher, especially a male, you are to never be alone with a female, or even a male student. Never have one kid in the room with you, and avoid situations that would look suspect to a passerby. So, knock on wood, I've been fortunate to avoid that type of drama.

SFCB:  In recent months there's been many instances of teenagers committing suicide after being bullied.   How do you deal with that in school?  I remember being in school and seeing this, and sometimes dealing with others doing that to me, and it sometimes feels like there's nothing that you can do to stop it, at least from a student perspective.  From the teachers angle, is there really anyway to put a stop to that, or is it something that is going to happen no matter what?

Mega Ran: I've seen it in school and it disgusted me as a student and even more as a teacher. I don't know if there is any way to stop it as a teacher, but we have to be vigilant and stop it when we see it. I have actually gone to students' houses when I couldn't get a response from parents, of bullying victims and bullies. I want them to realize the severity. Many people think you shouldn't stop kids from being kids, and I agree, but no one wants the worst case scenario on their hands. Better safe than sorry I say.

SFCB:  In a recent poll the United States ranks 21st in Science and 25th in Math (for 15 year olds) compared to their peers the world over.  The education system has been in the news a lot in recent months, with many politicians from the Tea Party openly suggesting that the Public School system idea be abolished, and everything go back to the way it was prior to the government running and funding the schools.


Then you have those on the Texas School Board removing anything that conflicts with their political and/or religious views from the textbooks that are used nationwide.


What are your thoughts on these?  The School system can definitely use some repairs, whether it's getting responsible and qualified teachers, to making sure the history being taught is the ACTUAL history, but what would be your ideas for fixing the Education system in this country?



Mega Ran: Man, I wouldn't know where to begin on education reform,  but one thing we have to do is add teacher accountability WITHOUT stressing standardized test scores. Teachers literally break down at the thought that if their students have a bad a test day, their job is on the line. And don't get me started on the pay. It'd be a lot more of a motivator if I knew that the guy making my coffee in the morning wasn't making more than I am. It's the most overworked and underpaid position ever, but no one gets into education for the money, but nowadays they're pulling non-education majors who just need a job and putting them into 2 month crash courses and making them teacher.

Not sure how you can expect great results. People with education get out of the classroom as soon as they can and jump into administration or higher ed, there just needs to be some motivating factor for teachers to stay in the classrooms and excel. It's that simple.  You listening, Obama? haha.

SFCB:  What's your current gen console of choice?  360 or Ps3, and why do you prefer it over the other?

Mega Ran: I'm a 360 gamer tried and true. I can't say I prefer one over the other, the games are the same these days....but the price of the PS3 intitially turned me off. I've been anti-Sony for a long time, but that's only because I was so pro-Dreamcast.  But, I've been an Xbox gamer since day one. and Xbox Live vs. Playstation Network?? come on son, no comparison.

SFCB:  This might be a bit obvious, but what's your favorite video game soundtrack?  Old School AND Current Gen?

Mega Ran: By far, Mega Man 2. I used to record the tunes on my tape recorder and play them on my walkman, sandwiched between Public Enemy, Chubb Rock and Big Daddy Kane.  Final Fantasy II has some super memorable music, as does Sonic 2.

Current gen soundtracks aren't what they used to be, but I really loved the soundtrack to Bionic Commando, Rearmed. However to avoid sounding like a total Capcom company guy, I also dig the Bioshock soundscapes as well.. I've even sampled a few into some beats, haha.

SFCB:  What's your favorite studio (aside from Capcom lol) that is making games today?

Mega Ran: I'm a big 2K games fan.. these guys don't seem to make any junk. I like pretty much everything they drop.

SFCB:  What do you view as the most complete video game ever made?  Where the graphics, story, voice acting, etc is just the best you've ever seen?  For me, that has to be Uncharted 2 with God of War III just a tad bit behind.   I can't see anything topping that.

Mega Ran: I've never played Uncharted, but I'd agree on God of War 3. If there was any one game worth buying a system for, that'd be it. That game is about as close to perfection as one could get. God of War 2 was incredible as well. To me, the greatest game playing experiences I've had were playing Metal Gear Solid, Shenmue and Final Fantasy 7. I'd call those pretty complete games.

SFCB:  Have you played Megaman 10?  What are your thoughts on how the game has progressed over the years?

Mega Ran: I played it, and I'm one of those conflicting, angry fans who complained about how hard Mega Man 9 was, and then complained that they put in an easy mode. I love the game, but I started to feel like I felt around Mega Man 5, like they were milking the franchise and running out of ideas, so I loved the new gameplay innovations, with different playable characters and such. I loved the game, the soundtrack didn't move me as much as MM9 did, but I thought they did a great job. Retro done right, I'd say.

SFCB:  So how long before we see a MegaMan game with a complete soundtrack done by Mega Ran?


Mega Ran: Haha! Man I get asked that one so much. I wish I knew. I just would be happy with ONE song, or being a hidden character... I can dream, at least.  I DO however have some great stuff planned involving Capcom that I can't speak on, but in the meantime, please ask your friendly neighborhood Capcom representative that same question...often!

RANDOM QUESTIONS FOR RANDOM

SFCB: What's your favorite album that was deemed "commercially unsuccessful"?

Mega Ran: La The Darkman, Heist of the Century. I think I was the only person I knew who had that album.
SFCB: What's your favorite out of the mainstream comic book?

Mega Ran: Not sure if it's out of the mainstream, but X-Force. Honesty moment: I never was a big X-Men fan, but I loved all the smaller spinoffs.

SFCB: Favorite hip hop remix?

Mega Ran: Tie: Shut Em Down, then Flava in Your Ear.


SFCB: Favorite NES or SNES game?

Mega Ran: NES - Super Mario 3. SNES - Super Metroid

SFCB: Favorite Mainstream Rapper or Group?

Mega Ran: Jay-Z, then Nas.

SFCB: Favorite Non-Mainstream Rapper or Group?

Mega Ran: KRS-ONE..does he count? If not then I'd say Murs.

SFCB: Favorite Non-Hip Hop Album?

Mega Ran: Marvin Gaye - What's Going On

SFCB: Favorite Movie?

Mega Ran: Casino.

SFCB: Favorite Hip Hop Sample?


Mega Ran: Bob James "Nautilus," James Brown "Funky Drummer," Skull Snaps "It's a New Day" 


SFCB: Favorite Instrumental?

Mega Ran: Nas' "Represent," Marley Marl "The Symphony," Fabolous "Breathe," A Tribe Called Quest "Verses From The Abstract"

SFCB: Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to do this interview!  Before we go, please let everyone know what you have planned for the 2011?

Mega Ran: Glad you asked! Myself and K-Murdock are heading out on tour in November, make sure you catch us, the live show is UNREAL!

Nov 11, 2010 @ Headhunters, 720 Red River St, Austin, TX, w/Crew 54 and more, FREE 21+

Nov 12+13, 2010 Yule Con @ American Airlines Training Center, Ft Worth, TX w/Brentalfloss and more! $15-25
Nov 14, 2010 @The Highball, 1120 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX $7 21+

Nov 16, 2010 8PM @ Super Happy Fun Land 3801 Polk St Houston, TX $7 all ages w/MC Router and more

Nov 17, 2010 2PM @ Bedrock City Comics 4602 Washington Ave, Houston, TX all ages (performance & signing)

Nov 18, 2010 9PM @ Smoke And Barrel Tavern 324 W Dickson St, Fayetteville, AR w/The One Ups FREE 21+

Nov 19, 2010 8PM @ 331 Nightlife Cafe, 331 W Forsyth St Jacksonville, FL $5 21+
Nov 20 @ A Comic Shop 114 South Semoran Blvd. $10 all ages

Monday Morning Music Post: Spoken Word Poets Edition

Today I'm going to highlight some excellent artists in the Spoken Word area.   This is just some great great music here.

Some of these tracks have music behind it, some don't.   All are definitely worth your time!

W. Ellington Felton - She Devil in the Garden.

I first heard Wes Felton on the K-Murdock produced project The CrossRhodes along with Raheem DeVaughn.  Very cool cat, here.   Strong lyrics and nice production.



Carl Hancock Rux - Languid Libretto (I Can't Love You Better).

Rux is that dude!  Years back when I was homeless, I used to carry a backpack full of CDS (this is pre-Ipod) and I prided myself on the fact that I had a wide array of musical tastes.  I had discovered this cat named Reg E. Gaines  that just blew my mind.  On one of his tracks he had two other poets doing each verse on a track, and Rux was the final poet on the track.  I had never heard him before and was just captivated, not just by the powerful lyrics that he was uttering, but also by his strong and commanding voice. 

This song is off his album "Rux Review" and I could listen to this shit on a loop forever.   Dope video as well.



Saul Williams "Amethyst Rock Star".

I first discovered Saul Williams when seeing the film "Slam", in which he played a drug dealer with a penchant for creative and intelligent word play.   Suddenly through some unfortunate events he finds himself faced with an impossible choice to make.   The film also starred Sonja Sohn (Kima Greggs on The Wire) and featured a stellar soundtrack from artists like Black Rob, Big Pun, Goodie Mobb and Brand Nubian.  But it was William's scene below that just knocked me on my ass and had me rewinding that shit like a hundred times.

I don't pretend to be able to understand the vast majority of the work he's put out there as it's way above my intellectual understanding, but the stuff I DO understand just reinforces that Williams is one of the great minds of my generation.

I was also fortunate enough to meet and speak with him when he came up to Spokane several years back.   Very cool and approachable guy.

Oct 24, 2010

The Buffalo Man Cometh: The Return of Jamiroquai

One of my favorite bands out there has to be Jamiroquai, a very cool jazzy/funk/pop band from London that's had several hit songs like Virtual Insanity, Canned Heat (featured in the film Napoleon Dynamite) and Feels Just Like it Should.

Now they've returned after a four year hiatus with a new album on a new label.   The album, Rock Dust Light Star will be released in another week (currently in European Import only, as there's no North American release date) and already the first two videos have been released.  One thing they're definitely known for is having really cool videos, mostly with Jay Kay, the lead singer, dancing a fool.

These show off his driving (he owns multiple classic and exotic cars) and his newfound skill of flying a helicopter.  Enjoy the videos, "Blue Skies" and "White Knuckle Ride".



Oct 20, 2010

Obama cancels trip to Sikh temple over fears of Muslim Smears



How did we get here?  How did we get to the point that the President of the United States has to forego a trip to a Sikh temple, because of fears that photos of him wearing the traditional scarf over his head would fuel ignorant Right Wing attacks saying he's a secret Muslim?

I'm actually ashamed that my country would have people that would do shit like this.  It's incredible that due to the racist Right's attacks, that President Obama isn't going to go there because of fears that they're going to attack him.

Trust me folks, the racists out there are going to make shit up and attack him no matter what. 

Ridiculous.

courtesy of Raw Story:

US President Barack Obama has canceled a visit to a Sikh temple in India, sources said Wednesday, over apparent concerns that photos of him with his head covered would revive claims he is a Muslim.


During his state visit to India early next month, Obama was scheduled to tour the Golden Temple in Amritsar -- Sikhism's holiest shrine -- where he would be required to cover his head in line with the religion's practices.
But aides feared images of him with a traditional scarf over his head could be used by opponents in the United States to portray him as a closet Muslim.

"He will not be going to Amritsar now," a diplomatic official in New Delhi, who declined to be named, told AFP. "The headscarf is one issue and there were other logistical issues that led to the cancellation."

Oct 18, 2010

Durham County Season 3 Official Trailer

The third and final season of this excellent show begins next week on October 25th. on HBO Canada.   Find more information on this show either at the official Facebook page for the show (run by two exec producers) or the official website just up and running today!

Oct 8, 2010

Press Release: Durham County Season 3 Returns


Press Release courtesy of HBO Canada

(October 6, 2010 – Toronto, Canada) – Dangerous relationships, family tragedies, a new murder investigation and the haunting side effects of war all begin Monday, October 25 at 10 p.m. ET/MT, when HBO Canada, a multiplex channel of Astral’s The Movie Network (Eastern Canada) and Corus Entertainment’s Movie Central (Western Canada), presents the third and final season of Durham County, the Gemini nominated one-hour Canadian drama series that explores the secrets buried deep within suburbia.

“Durham County is first-in-class in terms of offering premium-quality, critically acclaimed, daring Canadian original drama,” said Aubie Greenberg, Director, Original Programming, Movie Services, Astral Television Networks. “Viewers can expect a riveting final season full of twists and turns at every corner, with even more spellbinding storytelling from a remarkable production team.”

“Hugh Dillon has taken the character of Detective Mike Sweeney into dark and raw crevasses rarely seen in television”, said Jocelyn Hamilton, Corus Entertainment, “Like a rare gem, Durham County has shown how creative, unrelenting and edgy television can be.”     

Starring Hugh Dillon as the tormented Mike Sweeney, now Superintendent of the Durham police precinct, Season 3 of Durham County picks up as Mike’s home life is blossoming: his wife Audrey (Hélène Joy) is expecting a baby and his daughter Sadie (Laurence Leboeuf) is about to graduate from the police academy. Alongside new detective and ex-soldier Ivan Sujic (new cast member Michael Nardone), Mike is on the task force investigating the gruesome murders of two young brothers who were accused of being drug runners along the 401 highway corridor.

As the case deepens, Mike’s life begins to spiral out of control as he suspects that Ivan is hiding something about the mysterious disappearance of his wife Katya. At the same time, Sadie’s role in an undercover operation and her contact with a known drug dealer has put her in grave danger. Meanwhile,a sudden tragedy occurs that may tear Mike’s family apart forever. Durham County also stars Greyston Holt as Ray Prager Jr., Krista Bridges as Sabina Leung, Andreas Aspergis as Miro Cercu, Cicely Austin as Maddie Sweeney and Bénédicte Décary as Eva Arcady.

Durham County is a Canadian original production from Astral’s The Movie Network and Corus Entertainment’s Movie Central, developed and produced by Muse Entertainment Enterprises Inc. and Back Alley Film Productions Ltd. The series is produced with participation from the Canada Media Fund, and is distributed internationally by ITV Global Entertainment Media. Durham County was created by Laurie Finstad Knizhnik, and Adrienne Mitchell and Janis Lundman of Back Alley Film Productions Ltd, and is executive produced by Knizhnik, Lundman and Mitchell, and Michael Prupas of Muse Entertainment Enterprises Inc.

In addition to being the winner of five Gemini Awards in 2008, and two recent Directors Guild of Canada awards, Durham County is nominated for seven Gemini Awards this year including Best Dramatic Series, Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role (Hélène Joy) and Best Direction in a Dramatic Series (Adrienne Mitchell). The 25th Annual Gemini Awards are scheduled to be presented on Saturday, November 13 in Toronto, Ontario.


SNEAK PREVIEW OPPORTUNITIES

The Movie Network and Movie Central will offer subscribers and non-subscribers a chance to sample the premiere episode of Season 3 beginning Tuesday, October 12 via the following online and on demand platforms:

Free of charge online at www.hbocanada.com

In Eastern Canada on The Movie Network OnDemand and available free of charge to Rogers customers through Rogers On Demand and Rogers On Demand Online

On Movie Central On Demand and video on demand services of participating broadcast partners in Western Canada.

Via HBO Canada OnLine with Rogers, Bell TV and Videotron

Oct 1, 2010

Another LGBT bully victim commits suicide?


UPDATE #3: Dharun Ravi was found guilty of Bias & Intimidation of Clementi, and faces 10 years and deportation.  His lawyers are pleading for probation.  Turns out that Ravi had passed up a deal that would have meant no jail time and the state dept. would have helped him avoid deportation.  However many have said that his worry was deportation and that if the Federal government wanted him gone, the state would not be able to do much about that, so he rolled the dice on the trial.

UPDATE #2: According to the Prosecutor in the case, Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei may potentially face Hate Crime charges in relation to Tyler Clementi's suicide.

UPDATE #1: October 2nd 2010: According to David Badesh over at TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com, there's unfortunately been more than just five in the past 30 days.

Billy Lucas.

Seth Walsh.

Asher Brown.

Tyler Clementi.

Raymond Chase.

Since September 9th, a span of just over three weeks, we've had five suicides that have resulted from bullying.  Bullying that came about, because the five young men were Gay.   Five in three weeks.   When will it be enough before anyone outside the LGBT rights movement, or those who are supportive of the LGBT cause gives a damn enough to start asking questions about how we stop this?

I wrote yesterday about columnist Dan Savage who created the Youtube Channel "It Gets Better" to show these LGBT kids that it may suck right now in school, but that things DO get better.   As I said yesterday, I dealt with bullies as a kid all the time, and at the time it seems like that's never going to end.   You often keep that to yourself and don't tell others about it, even family.   A lot of times you are embarrassed and humiliated by the whole thing, and you don't want to go to school.

You make up excuses not to go, or if you're really desperate you just flat out skip school, figuring you'll deal with your parents being upset later.  Anything to avoid another day of torment.    And it seems like it's going to last forever.  That you'll be stuck in that town forever and have to see these people every day and constantly be reminded of where you seem to stand in life.

Yet that's not how it ends up.   It was amazing for me when I moved away, because suddenly I had a fresh start.  No more dealing with those insufferable assholes that I'd dealt with, for what seemed like, forever.   I moved away and met new people.  Everything that I had gone through before meant nothing now.

And eventually it all just became a memory.  Something I looked back on and was glad I didn't have to deal with anymore.    As kids everything is focused on the here and now.  Nobody thinks they're going to live to 70 years old.  When you're in Jr. High you think of someone in their 40's or 50's as "really really old.".   Kids tend to have blinders on and can only see what's in front of them.  And what is in front of them, more times than not, is bullies.  Is everyone they know laughing at them.  Or at least it seems that way.

And not everyone is able to deal with that appropriately.  If there is an appropriate way to deal with it.   Some people would suggest to avoid confrontation (which was always my mode of dealing, yet it never worked), although that's not always an option if those who are tormenting you are in your classes all day.

Some would suggest you stand up and fight back.  Well, that's not always a great thing either.  You always see in the movies where the bullied kid stands up and ends up beating up the bigger kid who was just compensating for his own lack of self esteem.   And suddenly everyone respects the little kid, and even the bully shows begrudging acknowledgement of  the kid, and there's no more bullying.

That's a nice story, but it's not realistic.   That's not how the world works, unfortunately, and while standing up for yourself is a must, simply fighting back physically doesn't always work out like it's supposed to.   Going to the authorities is a great suggestion, but often backfires and makes it worse.  Especially if your school has some mindblowingly ignorant faculty who thinks it's just something kids do, and there's no real harm in it.


So when you're stuck and you seemingly have no way out, sometimes kids take the worst way out, albeit one that seems so simple:  Suicide.

Back in January a kid named Justin Aaberg stabbed himself in the stomach with a knife.  In the Hospital he told his parents it was because he had been outed by someone in school, and he was humiliated.   Then despite his parents telling the school about bullying, they did nothing.  And Justin killed himself in July.

Seth Walsh (Tehachapi, CA) was a 13 year old who hung himself after being taunted and bullied due to his being perceived as being Gay.

Billy Lucas (Indiana) , 15, also hanged himself, on September 9th, after enduring years of humiliating torment by classmates over his sexuality as well.

Asher Brown (Harris, TX), 13, had recently come out as a Gay teen, and after his school had refused to address the bullying that his parents had told them was happening, Asher shot himself in the head on September 23rd.

Tyler Clementi (New Jersey), 19, was a college student at Rutgers, whose roommate was unhappy with having a Gay roommate.  So his roommate put a hidden camera in their room, and recorded and uploaded to the internet Tyler and another male having sex.  Three days later, on September 22nd, Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge in New York.

Raymond Chase, (New York), 19, hanged himself in his dorm room this past Wednesday, the 29th.  The circumstances around his death is uncertain right now, so we don't know what role if any his sexuality played into this.

Five kids from across the country in three weeks.  When is enough enough?  When are people in authority going to step forward and say ENOUGH!   How many kids have to die due to this?  How many LGBT have to die before these fearmongers that parade around under the guise of Christianity have their fill?   How much longer are we going to allow people like Tony Perkins, and Pat Robertson, and James Dobson, and the disgraced Eddie Long, and others like them who pretend that they are good faithful Christians and yet they have no problem with this.

They can talk all they want about how Gay people are "an abomination" and deserve death, and yet when people who are following their guidelines and treating innocent kids as pariahs and "abominations" and mercilessly taunting and harrassing and bullying and beating these kids until they crack, there's nothing.

No comments from any of these "Men of God" about how horrible this is?  Nothing?   I wonder if they're happy.   I don't think we'll hear anything from them, unless someone puts their feet to the fire, and then they'll throw out a half ass comment about how sorry they are, but they'll probably end up releasing some rambling ass message along the lines of noted homophobe Maggie Gallagher.

Yet they will never admit that their over the top violent rhetoric is fueling our society's embrace of anti-gay behaviors.   They'll never admit that they're hiding behind their Bible and acting like "oh it's not me, it's God saying it" is a cop out and a disgrace.   And they should be ashamed of themselves.

They should be forced to attend every funeral of every LGBT kid who ever got tormented and tortured into ending their own lives, and see what they have wrought.   See the pain in the eyes of the family members who no longer have a son or daughter.   To see how truly loving people react to tragedy, rather than taking political advantage of it.

But that would be a human moment, and these scumbags are nothing remotely close to being human.