Puerto Rican pop singer Ricky Martin confirmed on his Web site yesterday that he is a gay man, surprising ... well, no one, really.
Rumors that the former Menudo star is homosexual have been rampant since before he broke out into mainstream success with a solo career that began in 1991. And he only fanned the flames by refusing to publicly comment on his sexuality either way (otherwise known as "pulling a Spacey"), specifically in a 2000 Barbara Walters interview that some credit with ruining his career. (Walters has since said she regrets having asked him the question.)
He said he finally decided to come out of the closet because of his two sons, whom he had via a surrogate.
"This is just what I need especially now that I am the father of two
beautiful boys that are so full of light and who with their outlook
teach me new things every day," he wrote. "To keep living as I did up until today
would be to indirectly diminish the glow that my kids were born with.
Enough is enough. This has to change."
Now that he's openly gay, the obvious question is ... is that up collar a smidgen too much?
As of, well, just about now, it's once again time to break out the matzoh and argue about whose mother makes the best gefilte fish and matzoh-ball soup (more schmaltz or less?).
Of course, Passover traditions vary widely from household to household and culture to culture, from the New York Yankees yarmulkes that aren't uncommon in Reform Jewish households in the American Northeast to the lamb that's customarily served in observant Sephardic homes.
To non-Jews, one of the most striking parts of an observant Passover is the burning of the chametz, aka grain products that are fermented, to which the non-Jewish reaction is often something like, "Hey, man, waste of a perfectly good donut."
The photo above, in which ultra-Orthodox Jews burn chametz in Jerusalem, can be baffling unless you understand the context of the holiday. Most would probably immediately pinpoint the location as Israel, but might guess the burning pyres had something to do with a conflict, religious dispute, or the destruction of offensive materials.
What was your first guess as to what was going on?
Needed: A bold, out-of-the-box thinker willing to use his head to defuse potentially difficult situations. Job includes loads of travel, plenty of play with animals, the opportunity to meet exotic inhabitants of distant lands, free popcorn. No cat allergies, please. Proficiency with a whip and chair a plus.
It's sometimes hard to believe how far we've come in less than a lifetime. In 1965, some 8,000 people led by the Rev. Martin Luther King walked from Selma, Ala., to the capital of Montgomery, Ala., over five days and four nights. Their march ended with King on the steps of the state capitol building, demanding that he and his fellow African-Americans be treated like human beings. Inside, Alabama's virulently segregationist governor, George Wallace, cowered in his office.
As Lady Liberty looked on yesterday, a 25-foot-tall statue of Anubis, Egyptian god of death and mummification, floated to New York for an exhibition on the age of the pharaohs. (Favorite detail: Note the sticker-festooned suitcase on the barge.)
Headline ideas that immediately popped up:
"Give Us Your Hungry, Your Tired, Your Ancient Death Gods ..."
It's hard not to think how today's Hollywood stars consciously or subconsciously seem to be emulating Steve McQueen (think of Brad Pitt on a motorcycle, or Tom Cruise when he was in his race-car phase). And it's hard not to conclude that, when it comes to cool, even they are falling short.
We got another reminder of that this week, when LIFE uncovered a set of never-before-published photos of the King of Cool going about his daily life with first wife Nell and pals in 1963. Life fotog John Dominis hung out with the then-33-year-old and (eventually) caught glimpses of McQueen unguarded, who, he quickly discovered, was obsessed with speed.
"At any opportunity with anyone who's interested, in stores, at the studio, or at home, Steve will talk about racing," Dominis recalls.
He later recounts McQueen taking a sand buggy out to the desert:
"With his rough handling and desire for speed, he stalled the car and couldn't get it started again. He had to work several miles to a road to call the owner."
There's an old saying in our nation's capitol: Washington is Hollywood for ugly people.
And, boy, did it get ugly in D.C. over the weekend.
No matter what either the Democrats or the Republicans tell you now, only time will tell whether the health-care reform bill will be a good thing or a bad thing for America. But some of the behavior on display during the pro- and anti-reform protests was just plain bad for America any way you cut it.
Congressmen on their way to hear a speech by President Obama Saturday were confronted by protesters at the Longworth Hall office building. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, of Missouri, was spat upon. Rep. John Lewis, of Georgia, was called a "n***er." (Both men are black. Lewis was a leading civil-rights activist, and suffered a fractured skull at the hands of Alabama state police during the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965.) Someone shouted "faggot" at Rep. Barney Frank, of Massachussets, who is openly gay, as others mocked him with stereotypically homosexual lisps.
And it didn't stop there: Rep. Bart Stupak, of Michigan, a Democrat holdout who insisted on strong anti-abortion language in the bill, was called a "baby killer" by a fellow congressman inside the House. (Rep. Randy Neugebauer, of Texas, apologized later, and said he was talking about the bill, not Stupak. High-ranking politicians on both sides of the aisle have condemned the racist and anti-gay incidents outside.)
The bigoted name-calling and assault is a stark reminder of how far our country has come ... and how far it hasn't. "Contributing to the discourse" about the future of America by evoking the most shameful moments of our nation's past?
Tomorrow marks the seventh anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq. Along with the simultaneous war in Afghanistan, the U.S. has been fighting for nearly nine years.
An anniversary's an essentially arbitrary milestone, but it's worth taking the time to assess the conflict in hard numbers: 4,386 American troops dead, 31,716 American wounded, and anywhere from 95,000 to 1.36 million "unnecessary" civilian deaths, depending on who you talk to. In Afghanistan, the U.S. has sustained 1,023 deaths to date, 5,190 wounded.
Those figures are the flip side to the thrilling photograph above (of a Marine moments after being airlifted into a combat zone in Afghanistan in 2009.) It captures the almost movie-like excitement of a battle as observed from the outside, something that inevitably becomes romanticized from the comfort of a living room or office cubicle.
In reality, the photographer found the real experience less than fun.
"The feeling of vulnerability when running off the back of the
helicopters was very intense," Joe Raedle said.