Archive for January, 2015

Kalman Halasz

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Kalman Halasz would have turned 100 years old this year (2015). He died young on this day in 1972 from pancreatic cancer. Kalman was the assistant director of the Texas Boys’ Choir when I was a member.

Kalman escaped his native Hungary during the 1956 revolt against Soviet occupation. He left Peter (his son), wife, brother, and everything he owned or knew.

Kalman Halasz (1915-1972)

Kalman Halasz (1915-1972)

As his small group of escapees were sneaking across the frontier into Austria, they were chased by an East German soldier. Kalman knew a zillion or so languages, so he tried to explain … to ask themsoldier not to shoot … only Kalman was really nervous.

“Nicht scheißen,” he screamed. He was staring down the barrel of a Sviet army rifle and didn’t notice he messed up the vowels. What he said was “don’t sh*t” instead of “nicht schießen” (“don’t shoot”). Oops. The soldier was laughing so hard, Kalman and his friend were able to cross in to Austria.

Kodaly Method

Solfège hand signs

I remember Kalman leading the choir in 4-part solfège (“doe a deer, a female deer”), using hand signals. He coordinated the parts using the position of his hand. Right hand too care of first and second sopranos. Left hand was for first and second altos. It was the Kodály Method, which made perfect sense when you know Kalman and Zoltan Kodály were friends in Hungary.

The man knew everybody in mid-20th century music. He and I bummed around Europe together in 1966. In Vienna, he spent a delightful evening in the apartment of György Ligeti, the composer. His wife served us ice cream, apologizing the it was Thursday (i.e., not Sundae).

György Ligeti (1923-2006)

György Ligeti (1923-2006)

They laughed at how Ligeti was banished from pipe organs in Europe. The composer went to record a new piece on a pipe organ in Lübeck (East Germany) that J. S. Bach famously played when he was visiting Dieterich Buxtehude in the early 1700s. So Ligeti is at the organ, only it was a kind of negative song. Weights held down **all** the keys. The music showed which keys to let up. The man was certifiably insane. Ligeti and his music blew out the organ. As it turns out organs that old weren’t designed to handle every key being pressed at the same time. “Who knew?” he said with a devilish grin.

That was in Vienna. We also visited Zsuzsanna, his girlfriend during the yeas he spent in Vienna. We all went to Prater Park, an amusement park. I thought it was bizarre to come all the way to Austria to ride a Tilt-a-Whirl. Then I saw Kalman and Zsuzsanna off in the distance. I was on a ride so they could have some alone time without the kid.

In Bayreuth (Bavaria) Kalman and I went to the,Richard Wagner festival. I think I was being punished because I don’t like opera, and Wagnerian opera is the worst. Kalman went around to the stage door, where he asked for Mr. Böhm. In a few minutes, an older guy appeared. It was Karl Böhm, the famous conductor of Wagnerian operas. They were speaking in German (which I understand but not at a 90 mile an hour gait).

The opera was Meistersinger, a 6-friggin’ hour thing. SIX hours. SIX. It’s so long that they break for SUPPER. Kalman and Böhm took me to a nearby restaurant where they got me completely blasted on Bavarian Beer (Weißbier). I was passed out for the entire second half of the opera (which was a win/win situation for me).

Kalman Halasz (1915-1972)

Kalman Halasz (1915-1972)
master organist (Budapest University),
assistant directory (Texas Boys Choir),

On choir tours, Kalman was pianist. Heaven help you if he caught you singing any note other than the prescribed note on stage. He also was the one who figured out room assignments, using a hand-drawn chart that enforced an evenly. When I caught him changing his chart in his front row bus seat, Kalman explained that he knew one kid was gay, and the chart was putting him with a really hateful prick. He got everyone into rooms with a minimum of teeth gnashing. I don’t know what other criteria he used to override the chart, but I know he quietly tried to maintain harmony on and off the stage.

Pancreatic cancer took Kalman away from us way too soon. I still miss him.

Tony Dungy: NBC’s trouble for gay kids

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NBC football punditpundit
➤ (n) someone who has been admitted to membership in a scholarly field
Tony Dungy thinks Michael Sam has been a distraction. He isn’t kidding about it. Could somebody tell him that’s the same term used when Jackie Robinson became the first black player in major league baseball. Michael Sam is gay: get over it.Super Bowl XLVI

If pissing on Michael Sam’s parade were his only thing, I could live with it. Dungy is a public figure, and impressionable LGBT kids listen to his demeaning chatter on TV, but Dungy has a history.

In 2007, he helps fund California’s “prop 8” — the anti-marriage law that tried to undo existing same-sex marriages. That was hateful. Oh but he didn’t stop with his own pocketbook. Tony Dungy was a fundraiser for the anti-LGBT campaign.

Does Tony Dungy have the right to hate me because I’m gay? Sure. What he thinks about me is none of my business.

He crosses the line when he talks on public media (NBC) in a way that hurts gay kids. It’s hard enough to be a gay kid under the best of conditions. When NBC broadcasts demeaning and causticcaustic
➤ (n) any chemical substance that burns or destroys living tissue
➤ (s) harsh or corrosive in tone
➤ (s) of a substance, especially a strong acid; capable of destroying or eating away by chemical action
opinions, they should be ashamed.

NBC SportsI personally turn to a different channel when his face comes on. Imagine what happens when a family is watching, and daddy jumps in with a few f-words after Dungy has his say. What’s a 14 year old gay boy supposed to think?

NBC is broadcasting this year’s Super Bowl.

NBC needs to get their pundits to stick to football or get them off the air.

Tony Dungy: asshole of the year

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Asshole of the Year

Asshole of the Year

Outsports has names Tony Dungy as the Asshole of the Year. Here’s why.

There are two main reasons Tony Dungy is Outsports’ Asshole of the Year.

The first is his very public homophobia. While it happened several years ago, Dungy spent part of his social capital in 2007 raising tens of thousands of dollars to fight against marriage equality in Indiana, saying that if you’re with God you have to be against equality for gay people. Dungy was at it again this year publicly declaring that he wouldn’t have wanted Michael Sam on his team.

That leads us to reason No. 2. Instead of just owning up to his anti-Sam homophobia, Dungy tried hiding behind the “distraction” nonsense and Oprah Winfrey’s TV show in claiming he didn’t want Sam on his team. What Dungy seems to forget is the Book of Proverbs’ enumeration of abominations, several of which Dungy has committed by not owning up to his truthful homophobia: a lying tongue… a heart that devises wicked plans… a false witness who breathes out lies… and one who sows discord among brothers.

Dungy’s lie was proven when he publicly said he would welcome Ray Rice onto his team. Wife-beater Rice would attract far more questions and media than Sam, yet Dungy would embrace him with open arms just as he did with dog-killer Michael Vick (who incidentally had a reality show following him too) when he was released from jail.

Wife-beater and dog-killer? No problem for Dungy. A man who loves other men? No way in hell!

That outward homophobia and clear disdaindisdain
➤ (n) lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
➤ (n) a communication that indicates lack of respect by patronizing the recipient
➤ (v) look down on with disdain
➤ (v) reject with contempt
for gay people has led many to openly wonder whether Dungy’s son, who killed himself in 2005 (may he rest in peace), was gay. It’s the No. 1 question I get from people regarding Dungy. The latest round has brought that all bubbling back to the surface, even though there is no public evidence to that effect (of course, the homophobes at Breitbart call the questioning of someone’s sexual orientation an “attack”). But you can certainly understand – with Dungy’s open, public attacks on gay people – why any gay person around Dungy, family, athletes or otherwise, would feel uncomfortable around the man. His comments continue to tell young gay kids they don’t belong in this world and will go to hell after it – and that is the saddest part of all. Whether it’s his son or someone else, Christians like Dungy, who manipulate the word of God, drive kids to kill themselves.

It’s shameful that NBC continues to give this man a platform from which he can push LGBT athletes and youth deeper into the closet.

Just like most of the big playoff games he was involved with as a coach, Dungy ultimately lost the battle to discriminate against an entire class of people, as Indiana has legalized same-sex marriage and the rest of the country will have it soon.

On the flip side, until now Dungy has been successful in keeping Michael Sam out of the NFL (we’ll see if he can get Rice back in). His comments have also helped keep other gay NFL players in the closet.

People like Dungy are the worst part of sports: heralded for their “fatherly” position to some players and given a pass for creating a dynamic in sports where gay athletes are driven by fear. He needlessly gives Christians in sport a very bad name, and his designation of “father figure” in the NFL gives validity to the anti-gay beliefs of others.

When we asked our Twitter followers who they might nominate for the award, almost every single person mentioned Dungy. Yes, he is that big of an asshole to the LGBT community.

Dungy was previously nominated for the award in 2007 when it was just “Jerk of the Year.” We’ve elevated the name of the award this year, and deservedly so.

Asshole of the Year runner-up: The fact that Dungy beat out Vladimir Putin, an anti-gay dictator of a nation with 140 million people, should tell you how bad Dungy is for LGBT people in sports. Yet Putin was put in the runner-up position because LGBT athletes did participate in the Olympics and won medals, and because much of his damage is being done politically and socially, not in the sports world. Though his government’s attacks on the Open Games was particularly egregious.