Archive for March, 2013

Cygnus Radio playlist 3/29/13: Good Friday and the phantom pitch

March 30, 2013

The Baseball ProjectFor the archived links to this and all my other Cygnus Radio shows, click here. The show airs live from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT Fridays.

March 30, 2013

Yesterday’s Franorama 2.0 show on  Cygnus Radio started out as the Good Friday it was and then took some weird turns at Albuquerque.

Started out with lots of inspiration. “Open Up Your Door” came from my Musical War Stories post earlier in the week. “99th Floor” was to commemorate the decades-later reunion of The Moving Sidewalks (Billy Gibbons’ band before ZZ Top) and their show tonight at B.B. King’s in Midtown Manhattan. Stark Raving Lulu is my favorite new local band; I just saw them Wednesday night at Best Video in Hamden (though we were distracted by Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! playing behind them).

And the second set was a twisted bit of spontaneity. I had two songs I didn’t get to the previous show: the original 1962 version of “Misery” by Detroit R&B group The Dynamics and the 2012 remake by Scottish beat boys The New Piccadillys. (It’s the song Pete Meaden ripped off when he wrote “Zoot Suit” for The High Numbers, aka The Who.)

And, since tomorrow is the start of baseball season, I had a mostly baseball show planned after that. Had to abort after five innings.

Started the second hour with the 2008 debut album by The Baseball Project, Vol. 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails. (That’s the alt-rock all-star team of Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn, Peter Buck and Linda Pitmon.) That’s when the glitches started.

When I imported the songs to the playlist queue on my station-in-a-laptop (they automatically cue up and play), the third song somehow ended up first. I was having trouble with the sound levels again. (I need a windscreen or some other cover for the mic on my headset.) Then, a software glitch meant the sound levels on the background music stopped automatically going low when I hit the mic button, meaning I had to do it manually. (And this was with a software update the day before …)

And the clincher: After a Jonathan Richman interlude to send the grounds crew out to dance to “Walter Johnson” as they dragged the infield, on to the second Baseball Project album, 2011’s Vol. 2: High and Inside.

Oops. The entire album disappeared, Yet another glitch. Meaning the final hour would be pure off-the-cuff inspiration mixed with discouragement. The last baseball song before the game was called due to inclement technology was from my pals The Remains — their 2010 ode to ’60s Red Sox pitcher Bill Monbouquette, “Monbo Time.”

(And between that and “Ted Fucking Williams,” you’d swear I traded in my Yankee pinstripes for the colors of my esteemed enemies. Not true. But the way this season’s shaping up, I might sneak in some of the orange and black of the defending World Series champion Giants from time to time.  No bandwagon-jump here; I lived in their Triple-A city, Fresno, for eight years.)

Oh well. That’s the beauty of baseball — you get to play another day. Most of the time. Anyway, hopefully no phantom pitches or hidden-ball tricks next Friday.


Musical War Stories: Open Up Your Door (to the garage)

March 25, 2013
This was the song that started it all.

This was the song that started it all.

(c) 2013, Fran Fried

It was a Friday night, late winter 1983, the last semester of my senior year on the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. (I thought it was mid to late February, but my usually reliable memory might have been off; I remember that Sunday being the launch of the United States Football League, which would’ve made this the first Friday of March.)

I was wiped out after a long week, and, without a car and with nothing huge going on that I knew of on campus — and it being pretty damn cold for late winter — I did something unusual for me: I took a nap after dinner. Just flat-out crashed on my bed in the Nassau Hall room (123) I occupied all four years there. (Yes, I got out with my diploma in four.) Right on top of the bedspread.

It had been a pretty blissful Z session — at least until the phone rang. And the black New York Telephone-issued phone anchored to my wall was pretty fucking loud by anyone’s standards. And even louder when you’re asleep.

I mumbled something along the lines of “Who the fuck’s calling me?” and stumbled off the bed and to the phone and slurred in my best groggy voice, “Helllllo?”

I keep hearing there are no coincidences. And this call — entirely out of the blue, from an acquaintance who had never called me before — would take me on a trip that did nothing less than change the course of my musical tastes for the next … well, rest of my life.


Cygnus Radio Playlist 3/22/13: ‘Please Please Me’ and other delights

March 23, 2013
Released on this date in 1963.

Released on this date in 1963.

For the archived links to this show and all my other Cygnus Radio shows, click here.

My fourth Franorama 2.0 show on Cygnus Radio was the first show of spring .. and for the first time all week, I could look out my window and see pure sunlight. And, after some stormy goings my first three shows, as I adjusted to the new and sometimes-balky software, this episode went smoothly. I felt the same comfort in my bedroom studio that I’ve felt for years in front of the board at WPKN.

And that’s a good thing, because, while I do have a general idea of where my shows are going musically, it did take some detours because of events I didn’t know about when I woke up two hours before.

During my morning romp through the Interwebs and the Book of Faces, I discovered three things that changed the course of the show:

  • This morning was the 50th anniversary of Parlophone’s release of The Beatles’ debut album, Please Please Me. And it was also the 52nd anniversary of John, Paul, George and Pete debuting as a quartet at the Cavern Club. As such, my opening set was loaded with The Kaisers (the ’90s Scottish beat band with the 1962 Cavern Club sound), The New Piccadillys (the current Scottish beat band, with two ex-Kaisers, doing one of the best remakes I’ve ever heard — The Ramones’ “Judy Is a Punk”), The Rutles … and, of course, “Please Please Me.”
  • On the sad side, I learned of the death of another mainstay of the early New Haven alt-music scene; Tom Hosier passed in the wee hours after a long battle with lung cancer. I only met Tom once — sushi dinner with some mutual friends at Miso in New Haven in August 1998 — but I heard nothing but good things about him from his many friends. He was one of the guitarists/singers in Disturbance, which was actually the first New Haven alt-music band I ever saw (Oxford Ale House, January 1980). Tom moved in the early ’80s to New York — where he lived until his final months — and for a long time booked Nightingales, the semi-legendary club on Second Avenue and 13th Street in the East Village. And Craig Bell’s CD care package from the week before proved to be serendipitous; among the discs was the CD version of the ’80s New Haven compilation “It Happened … But Nobody Noticed,” so I was able to play Disturbance’s “Somebody Move.”
  • And a news story came over about the Library of Congress’ addition of 25 more recordings to the National Recording Registry. Included were the 1949 original cast recording of South Pacific; the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack; Van Cliburn’s historic 1958 performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1; Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come; a D-Day radio broadcast by George Hicks; the first recording sent into space, recorded by Dwight Eisenhower and placed aboard the first communications satellite in 1958; Philip Glass & Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach … and the three recordings that made up one set: Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence,” the best-known track from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Chubby Checker’s version of “The Twist” … and four songs from the first Ramones album.

And there were the usual dig-em-ups that were a staple of my WPKN Franorama shows before the exile in California. Through the magic of downloads, I found four especially cool gems you never, ever hear.

One was one of my favorite cartoon songs from childhood: “Makin’ With the Magilla.” Never knew who recorded it until recently — that queen of the New York surf, Little Eva. Also, Squeeze’s “Squabs on Forty Fab” — the band’s cheeky response to the “Stars on 45” craze of the early ’80s; they recorded it as the English B-side of the “Labelled With Love” 45, which languishes in my storage space. Another was the original version of my favorite song from my favorite band’s last album — Jamaican singer Ken Parker’s 1970 single “I Can’t Hide,” raved-up by The Fleshtones two years ago on Brooklyn Sound Solution. And there was the original of one of Simply Red’s greatest hits — The Valentine Brothers, out of Chicago, with the 1982 recording of “Money’s Too Tight to Mention.”

Well, that was too much fun for one week. More to come next and every Friday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT (7-10 a.m. PDT, 3-6 p.m. GMT). Or link here to the archives. I guarantee you’ll get more work done with this show than with a six-pack of Red Bulls.

And if you have an act you feel should be played on my show — well, if I like it, I’ll play it. Just message me here or on my Facebook Franorama 2.0/Franorama World page for a mailing address. Ciao for now …


Cygnus Radio playlist, 3/15/13: Chasing away winter

March 18, 2013

cygnusNewlgMarch 19, 2013

For the links to this and all my other archived Cygnus Radio shows, click here.

So, now that my broadcasting software is going full guns with no glitches, Franorama 2.0 on Cygnus Radio is starting to find its place. I’m getting more comfortable with the software, with the voice levels, and I’m able to turn the show on a dime if and when I have to — to get reacquainted with the thousands of songs in the music folders of my laptop.

And I devoted this show to chasing away winter. And I didn’t want to get wrapped up with  March 17th, so I settled for two songs by my pal Larry Kirwan, of New York by way of Wexford — one with Black 47 near the top of the show and the show-ending single that he put out my senior year of college with Major Thinkers (and which I heard plenty on WLIR back then).

“Avenue B” was one of the tunes I dredged up from the online world thanks the the magic of mp3 downloads.  Been finding some really cool things to share on the show there. One was one of Connecticut’s greatest gems from the days of ’70s FM rock, The Dirty Angels’ “Tell Me.”

Another was a segue I’ve had kicking around in my head since my early 20s. One of the many singles my father brought up from the cellar when I was eight years old — along with a ’50s RCA 45 layer — was “Love My Lady,” Bobby Helms’ obscure 1958 follow-up to “Jingle Bell Rock.” I always thought it was a song Stevie Ray Vaughan would’ve had a field day with had he known about it and/or lived to record it. So I found Helms on the download and ran it right into “Pride and Joy.” You can hear for yourself.

I also took advantage of another musical care package — this one from old friend Craig Bell. Craig was on the ground floor of two cities’ alt-music scenes in the ’70s — Cleveland, with Rocket From the Tombs (where he wrote “Final Solution” with the pre-Pere Ubu David Thomas, a song later cut by Bauhaus), and New Haven (The Saucers, with a pre-Miracle Legion Mark Mulcahy). My first night as part of the New Haven scene, as it were,  was the night before Easter 1982, at Brothers in West Haven, seeing Craig’s band at the time, then called Future Plan (later The Plan, later The Bell System).

Anyway, Craig and wonderful wife Claude live in Indianapolis these days, where he leads The Down-Fi, also goes on the road occasionally for Rocket From the Tombs reunion shows, and recorded an EP two years ago as Second Saucer with all the Saucers except Mulcahy. And he sent me a little of all the above, as well as the enhanced, 2000s double-CD version of It Happened but Nobody Noticed,” his compilation of early New Haven bands (including The Excerpts and The Bats, two groups that featured the young Jon Brion before he moved to L.A. and became king of the pop scene there).

I also read my recent blog post of Lou Reed stories and played the two songs that accompanied it.

There was also the incongruous segue that only made sense to me — the dark moodiness of Mary Gauthier (from her recently released Live at Blue Rock album) into a raucous early, garagey gem by The Guess Who.

Thanks to the kindness of my friends Sascha and Jim, I saw Mary perform the night before at Cafe Nine in New Haven (a most excellent show), and her backing musicians, keyboardist/guitarist Scott Nolan and drummer Joanna Miller, were also the opening act. I was talking to Scott outside while he was having a smoke break; he and Joanna are from Winnipeg (and how they hooked up with a Louisiana woman is beyond me), and I was asking  about the scene there. He told me how thriving it is, and how on any given night, anyone can come walking in, and he mentioned Burton Cummings. Hence, the connection from Mary to The Guess Who, because most anything goes on this show.

And what would March 15 have been without The Ides of March?

Anyway, drop on in, even archivally. I love company. The show airs live on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET (7-10 a.m. PT, 3-6 p.m. GMT). And if you like what you hear, please tell your friends and other wonderful people. I want this thing to turn into a monster. And if, like Craig, you want to get your CDs played on the show — well, if I like it, I’ll play it. Message me here on the Cygnus Radio Facebook page and I’ll get back to you with a mailing address.

Well, this should have chased away the winter. See you in the spring!


Cygnus Radio playlist, 3/8/13: Before I was so rudely interrupted …

March 18, 2013

cygnusNewlgMarch 18, 2013

For a link to this and my other archived Cygnus shows, click here.

So, a funny thing happened on the way to doing my second Franorama 2.0 show on Cygnus Radio:


I was prepared for March to come roaring in like the proverbial lion; instead, the first of March greeted me with deafening silence — except for the frenzied voice of yours truly, wondering what the hell happened and trying for three hours over the phone to fix what was wrong.

Remember when I said last post that technology could be pretty cool sometimes? Well, I lied. It could be pretty fucked-up.

Apparently, the broadcasting software didn’t like the fact that had gone out and bought a new USB mic/headphone headset from Target, and even though I plugged the new set into my laptop a couple days before, just to make sure everything was on the same page, when it came time to do the show that first Friday, I was on for about four seconds — then nothing. The software froze.

A quick, frantic call to Gary Gone? No good. Same with Swannie down in Maryland. The three of us wasted three hours trying every diagnostic thing they knew, tried improvising and running every possible contingency … nothing. The software somehow was totally corrupted. I felt badly because I had talked up the show so much to everyone, and then it didn’t even happen.

Anyway, the following Monday, I was over at La Casa de Gone, and we ripped out the offending software and downloaded an updated version. A little tinkering, some abracadabra, and that was more like it. And, that Friday, a week late, my second show was good to go. The mic volume controls and the delay echo in my headset are still a little boggling, but I’m slowly adjusting and ironing out the sound levels..

Anyway, it was an ugly late-winter Friday morning. I had driven in the snow down to Bridgeport the night before to do a midnight-to-2 a.m. show on WPKN as part of its special Speaking of Women programming, coinciding with International Women’s Day. A 40-minute drive home became an hour-and-a-half ordeal, driving very slowly in second gear uphill on state roads that hadn’t even been plowed. When I pulled into the driveway, there were three inches of snow; there would be about nine more by the time it ended in the afternoon (twice what the TV weather clowns had predicted — true to form for them this winter).

I got to bed around 4 and was up at 8 to get the Cygnus show ready and make sure the software was simpatico with the headset. And outside my window, the snow was damn near horizontal. Didn’t let up ’til about 2. So, thanks to the magic of radio imagination, I was able to give a summery feel to the show, especially early on to set the tone.

Also threw in some CDs that musicians had sent me (Edward O’Connell, Stark Raving Lulu, The Zambonis). In addition, I had received a huge care package of CDs from Sharon, a Facebook friend in Minneapolis. Some things I had, some files I had lost in the midst of a couple mass computer file transfers the past year, so I stocked up on my early Stones material, as well as The Left Banke.

A couple of visual elements also worked their way into the show. Earlier in the week, guitartist extraordinaire Deke Dickerson had posted a YouTube video compilation of the legendary R&B group The Treniers; while they were one of the most underrated musical acts of the rock’n’roll era, you just have to see them in action, too. Also, a couple nights before the show, I watched the Showtime premiere of the intense, totally depressing, yet somehow inspiring documentary Family Band: The Cowsiills Story.

And, the fun thing about doing this here show is that I’m starting to find mp3s of really cool songs that are awfully hard to find in physical form. There was The Ronettes’ original version of “I Can Hear Music” — which, until recently, was omitted from Phil Spector compilations. Or “Guess I’m Dumb,” the song Brian Wilson gave to Glen Campbell when he was launching his recording career. And especially Johnny Cash’s “The Folk Singer” — a very obscure song he recorded in 1958, which Nick Cave recorded as a 12-inch B-side at the time of his Kicking Against the Pricks album in ’88.

Anyway, technology sucks, but radio is fun. The show airs live on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern (7-10 a.m. Pacific, 3-6 p.m. GMT).  Hope you can drop in and keep me company. And please pass the word to your friends and loved ones — we want to grow this show and this station.

And if you’re a musician who has a CD and wants to get some airplay here — well, if I like it, I’ll play it. Drop me a message here on or the Cygnus Radio Facebook page and I’ll get you my mailing address.

I’ll finish catching up to playlists asap.


Cygnus Radio playlist, 2/22/13: Iiiiiin myyyy roooooom …

March 18, 2013
Yeah, that's what I look like without coffee. In the bedroom -- I mean, the studio -- for the first show.

Yeah, that’s what I look like without coffee. In the bedroom — I mean, the studio — for the first show.

Feb. 22, 2013

To listen to the mp3 archive file of the show, click here.

The world will little note, nor long remember, what we did here … but it was a hell of a lot of fun.

It took a couple of go-rounds with the software the past week — and there were a couple of glitches during the show, such as songs disappearing from the play queue instead of cueing up to play, but I didn’t tell you that — but after 22 years of terrestrial radio (plus streaming the last three or four years) at WPKN in Bridgeport, my Franorama 2.0 show made its online debut the final Friday of February on Cygnus Radio. (I’m still doing fill-ins at PKN, though.)

This was a few months in the making. I’ve known Gary Vollono, aka Gary Gone, who runs the station, since the manager of the mail room at the New Haven Register (when it still printed its own papers) and I was the entertainment editor music writer. He would get a hold of me sometimes as I was heading from the composing room (remember those, ex-jourmalists?) back to the newsroom and talk tunes. Anyway, Gary has built himself a nice little indie label called IndepenDisc, and he started doing his online show here while I was in exile in California, and now he runs the show, and when I moved home, he asked me if I was interested in doing a show. And here we are.

Gotta tell you — the weirdest part of the whole inaugural show was the best. I did the show from bed — well, not under the covers; I was sitting on top of a made bed — but still, I was doing radio from my bedroom. When I started at WPKN, who knew the technology would one day be available to not only not need an actual radio transmitter, but to do a full show off a laptop computer in my room? And without a single record or CD? Yep — I have thousands of songs right here on this here laptop. Technology sucks a lot, but sometimes it’s kinda fun.

I did the show with no coffee, and I looked like a wreck, and while I wasn’t quite a wreck beneath the airwaves, I was a little bit tense, as will happen with something new. But, aside from needing to work on adjusting my voice levels, I think it went well. And I paid tribute to the memory of the legendary Shadow Morton with a set of Shangri-Las, plus the 2007 album by their lead singer, Mary Weiss (with The Reigning Sound), and Neko Case doing her killer version of one of their best tunes.

And it can only go up from here. I hope.

Anyway, if you like what you hear, please tell your friends and loved ones. We’re trying to grow the station. If you’re on the East Coast, it’s a great substitute for coffee. If you’re on the West Coast, it’s your Friday-morning kick in the ass out of bed. And if you’re over in Europe, it makes for great music leading into dinner.

Here’s what I played for openers. Plenty more where that came from — especially as I get the energy up to dig into my storage space and rip some CDs into this machine here. Anyway, have fun …


Five Songs, Part 106 (The Black 47 Edition)

March 17, 2013

black47logoMarch 17, 2013

I don’t do a hell of a lot of drinking, so that aspect of St. Patrick’s Day is lost on me. I prefer to stay clear of the pubs and the drinking thang on one of America’s three biggest amateur days (along with Cinco de Mayo and New Year’s Eve). So I’ve brought Five Songs out of cold storage (aka Winter) and will commemorate in my own way — with a band long near and dear to my half-Irish heart, Black 47. In particular, a magnificent seven of songs that have to do with Ireland or the Irish-American experience.

I was disappointed when “The Big Fellah” wasn’t used in the film Michael Collins, but surprised when it eventually turned up in, of all places, a series about a California biker gang (Sons of Anarchy).

Also here, of course, is the other big Irish martyr in Larry Kirwan’s pantheon, James Connolly, as well as the instrumental “The Reels,” a highlight of any of their shows, when girls usually come up on stage and show their stepdancing prowess; and the cheeky (is it true or not?) “I Got Laid on James Joyce’s Grave.”

The other three songs deal with the Irish-American immigrant experience. “Funky Ceili” recounts the circumstances behind Larry leaving Wexford for New York in the mid’-’70s. “Living in America” speaks for itself. And, since Black 47 has always been against playing the traditional Irish fare (and, as such, paved the way for Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys), there’s Larry’s spin of “Danny Boy” into a tale of a young gay Irishman in the City.

Anyway, it’s time to go. Slainte!

The Big Fellah — Black 47

James Connolly — Black 47

The Reels — Black 47

Funky Ceili — Black 47

Livin’ in America — Black 47

Danny Boy — Black 47

I Got Laid on James Joyce’s Grave — Black 47

Musical War Stories: Lou Reed

March 12, 2013

lou-reed-sizedOct. 27, 2013

Editor’s note: Lou Reed died this morning. I never did get the Musical War Stories category too far off the ground — between job hunting, finding a job and job hunting yet again — but I’ll let this stand as kind of an obit to him.

March 12, 2013

By way of introduction to a new category in this here blog, Musical War Stories

Got a call this afternoon from my old pal Tom Hearn, who lives in the neighboring town of Cheshire. Tom, a tall redhead who wears glasses like the ones my father wore in the early ’60s, is so low-key and unassuming that you’d just never know, unless you knew him, that he has done some pret-teeee cool things in his life.

Tom is the oldest childhood friend of the man who gave punk its name: Eddie “Legs” McNeil. He’s also the frontman for a band of local renown, The Big Fat Combo. (They have chops. And I’m proud to say I made my recording debut with the combo 10 years ago — under the name Fran Fried & the American People — cutting a tune called “(All I Get Is) Letters” for Let’s Get Furious, a two-disc tribute to that quirky, beloved and longtime New Haven duo, The Furors.)

Tom Hearn, front and center, with The Big Fat Combo.

Tom Hearn, front and center, with The Big Fat Combo — March 2, 2013, the Old Dublin, Wallingford, CT. Coincidentally, Lou’s 71st birthday.

And Tom’s also a photographer extraordinaire. He shot a great many photos of the early days of the punk scene — lots of Debbie Harry, lots of Ramones — and some of his shots wound up in Punk, the magazine started in 1975 by fellow Cheshire refugee John Holmstrom and Legs to chronicle a Lower East Side music scene that didn’t have a name … at least until it came time to figure out what to call the magazine. Mr. Hearn, oddly enough, was so low-key about his work that it didn’t occur to him to get around to showing it until about seven years ago.

Anyway, Big Red called to ask me if I want to contribute any stories, musical lists, etc. to, the website whose nucleus is Please Kill Me, the acclaimed 1996 oral history of punk by Legs and Gillian McCain. Several writers are contributing items to the site.

Yeah, I know, another non-paying thang. But at least it’s people I know (or at least know of), their hearts are in the right place, and they’re not getting paid, either.

Anyway, I cobbled these first tidbits together a week and a half ago — grabbed them from some fold in the memory bank — the day Lou Reed turned 71 and originally posted them as two separate items on my Facebook page. So anyway, whether Please Kill Me picks this up or not, this might be the start of something new on my blog. I figure hey — Lou was the cover boy on the first issue of Punk; why not start this new trip with Lou as well?


The bathroom thing again — or, the need for federal anti-trans discrimination laws

March 1, 2013
Coy Mathis: Does this 6-year-old girl look like a bathroom menace?

Coy Mathis: Does this 6-year-old girl look like a bathroom menace? Photo from

Feb. 28, 2013

My parents watch the local TV news almost as religiously as they attend Mass (or at least watch it on TV). That would mean WTNH, Channel 8, the ABC affiliate in New Haven, which airs newscasts from noon to 12:30 and 5 to 6:30.

The station has a comments segment on its dinnertime hour-and-a-half called “Voice of the People.” Generally, it tends to be a slightly less vile version of the comments that follow online news stories — it’s moderated and edited, of course, and the language is tamer.

But it can still be vile, nonetheless, and mainly populated by the people in the foil hats, just as newspaper website commentaries tend to be.

My folks and their transgender firstborn daughter were watching when the anchors mentioned that among the stories commented on was one I hadn’t heard up to that point: that of Coy Mathis, a 6-year-old transgirl in Colorado who, suddenly, after a year and a half in the school system, was told by her school district that she couldn’t use the girls’ room anymore. She’s now being home-schooled as her parents fight it in court. (And she and her parents also appeared on Katie Couric’s show yesterday.)

“Just saw your segment on the 6-year-old child that’s being allowed to live a transgender lifestyle,’ said one Channel 8 viewer, a Diane from New Haven. “I think people have sunken to an all-time low. That is a 6-year-old child! What is wrong with these parents? Have they gone nuts? Has the whole world gone nuts?”

“Yes, Diane — has the whole world gone nuts?” asks Albie and Rita’s firstborn, who heard the bile in the caller’s voice rise to the surface the longer she talked into the station’s voicemail.

Has the world gone so nuts that people still get so twisted out of shape over gender identity? Over a 6-year-old kid needing to go to the bathroom? Over some perceived heinous perversion? Has this world gone so nuts that people are so outraged because a couple chose to be loving and supportive of their child? And what the hell is a “transgender lifestyle,” anyway? (Please tell us, Diane, since you seem to know so much about the subject …)

And — on the day the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to take a big step toward recognizing civil rights and void California’s Proposition 8 — it further stresses the need for federal laws protecting not just gay rights, but trans rights as well.