Monthly Archives: March 2017

And now New Jersey

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EARLIER this year, defenders of marriage as we have known it enjoyed a string of victories in the courts. Several state and federal courts turned back challenges to states’ marriage laws, leaving it to voters and state legislators to decide whether those laws should be changed to allow for legal recognition of same-sex “marriages.”

At the time, some commentators took the decision as proof that constitutional protection for marriage was unnecessary. Those of us who had warned that the courts were going to impose same-sex marriage on a balking public were dismissed, as we have been before, as alarmist.

Our response was twofold. First, we pointed out that the tenor of the judicial decisions was in part a response to the political success of the campaign for the marriage amendment–without it, more courts would have followed the lead of the Massachusetts high court, imposed same-sex marriage, and patted themselves on the back as civil-rights pioneers. Second, we observed that as welcome as those decisions were, traditional marriage laws–and the right of the people and their elected representatives to draw them up–would exist only on judicial sufferance without an amendment. If the judicial mood changed, for example because the campaign for an amendment had flagged, then judges would recommence altering the marriage laws. And, of course, some bold court might decide to impose its conception of justice, political consequences be damned, by rewriting the marriage laws.

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New Jersey’s supreme court has, alas, now proven us right. Even in that liberal state, protective of gay rights, the political process did not yield the marriage policy liberal legal activists have sought. So they have gotten the court to hand them victory.

It is being described as a partial victory, because the court has said that same-sex couples must have access to the same benefits as married ones but not that their relationships must be officially called “marriages.” Do not be fooled. The court has accepted the premise that treating married couples differently from same-sex couples is a kind of irrational discrimination. That premise leads fairly directly to same-sex marriage in logic, and may do so in future litigation.

There is another reason to expect that this attempt to split the benefits from the name of marriage will collapse. Portability is a real benefit of a state-recognized marriage. When Texas declares you married, in the normal course of things Arkansas does too. You can cross state lines without worrying whether your marriage remains legally valid. For good reasons, the federal government has allowed states not to recognize same-sex “marriages” in other states. Whether that federal policy will withstand the activism of liberal courts remains to be seen. But even if it does, same-sex couples in New Jersey may legitimately ask: If we are to have all the benefits of marriage on an equal basis, then are we not entitled for the state to give us the best shot it can at ensuring that those benefits are portable? And does that not mean that we are entitled to the word “marriage” as well as to its accoutrements?

The basic move that the New Jersey court made was from a constitutional guarantee of equality to same-sex marriage rights. It is the same move that has been made in other courts. And it is the same move that has been made by social liberals in the court of public opinion: To deny marriage to same-sex couples is, supposedly, to treat homosexuals as less than full citizens. Not a few advocates have even said that it is to treat them as less than fully human.

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Against this sentiment, conservatives have countered first that equal rights for individuals do not entail a right of couples to have marriage redefined to suit their desires, and second that it would not be up to courts to draw out that implication even were it true. There is an argument for letting the people of each state decide their own policy on marriage, although a uniform national definition of marriage has its advantages too. But there is no good argument for letting judges redefine marriage in one state after another and calling it federalism.

A healthy culture of marriage is, among other good things, a crucial prerequisite for self-government. We fear that both marriage and self-government will suffer if a constitutional amendment does not rein in the courts.

>>> Click here: Lovin’ La Vida Loca

Lovin’ La Vida Loca

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They looked so good, Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin, as only the truly beautiful can, and even then only by the genius of the hairdressers to the truly beautiful. Skintight, designer suedes and leathers gave way to lacy nothings and tighter leathers. A hand crept here, a hip dipped there. But even so, all was not right in the Manhattan photo studio. With each progressively slinkier outfit, Lopez stopped for a reaction from Sean (Puffy) Combs, who was along to offer support and direction. Lopez describes the rap impresario as just a friend. Now he demonstrated the range of his friendship. The earpiece from his mobile phone dangling from one ear, he approached Lopez, silently, palm extended. Everything froze. The actress parted her perfectly glossed lips and deposited her chewing gum in his hand. Jennifer and Ricky were now ready for their close-up.

Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez–does it get any hotter than this? His new album, “Ricky Martin,” his first in English, debuts this week at No. 1 on the Billboard chart, and his in-store appearances have stopped traffic on both coasts. Lopez–star of “Out of Sight” and “Selena”–releases her debut album, “On the 6,” next week. Multiskilled, multilingual entertainers, Martin and Lopez are riding the first important demographic wave of the next millennium: by 2009, Latinos will pass African-Americans as the largest minority group in the United States. Sales of Latin music in the United States neared $600 million in 1998, and are up 46 percent so far this year. In her plush hotel suite in New York recently, Lopez made light of the timing. Hugging her knees to her chest, bare ankles peeking out from her tight Capri pants, she smiled mischievously. “It’s always,” she said, “a good time to be Latin.”

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Before Ricky Martin began his English-language album, his managers called for an anthem in Spanglish: something Anglo audiences could rock to, with enough Spanish to gratify his core Latino base. “Also,” says the veteran songwriter Desmond Child, “we wanted to write the millennium party song from hell.” They came up with “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” a caffeinated rock number drenched in swing. Before the English-speaking public even knew his name, Martin, an alum of the Puerto Rican boy band Menudo and later “General Hospital,” had launched an enormously successful solo career. His previous four albums, all in Spanish, sold more than 15 million copies worldwide and scored No. 1 hits in 30 countries. “Livin’ La Vida Loca” made it 31. After a decade of grunged- or thugged-out male pop stars, here was a wholesome, safe-sex symbol for all persuasions. “If you go to a concert of mine,” he says appreciatively, “you can see the guy taking the girl, a bunch of guys alone, parents and grandparents. I want people to see that.”

In a luxe villa on Lake Como, Italy, Martin offers an Indian greeting called a namaste. The reverent bow, which also closes every performance, is a humble counterpoint to his global-size ambitions. He has come here to perform the English songs for the first time, small challenge for his European fans: they’ve already loved him in Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese. He picked up the namaste on a recent trip to India, which he calls a spiritual awakening. “I felt a comfort I never felt before. If you listen to Hindi music, it connects to the Gypsy music from Spain, which connects back to Latin America.” A volcanic live performer, in person he is soft-spoken and formal as few American pop stars are. After 15 years in the spotlight, he still seems to enjoy it. “I meditate every morning,” he says. “The adrenaline you deal with every day can be fatal. Not to be dramatic, but there’s a lot of people in the entertainment business who aren’t [around] today.”

Martin’s songs are less Latin workouts than frothy cocktails of global pop styles. “La Copa de la Vida,” which he sang at the Grammy Awards, is vaguely Brazilian in rhythm and instrumentation. “Be Careful (Cuidado Con Mi Corazon)” features Madonna, mother to the most famous Latina baby in America, singing in Spanish, while Ricky responds in English. “I play with cultures,” says Martin, who was raised in Puerto Rico, where he discovered Journey and David Bowie before Tito Puente. “I can play with Anglo sounds, but in my blood, in my veins, it’s Latin.”

Martin takes pains to assure his Latino audience that he isn’t deserting them to sing in English. But his fans live a crossover existence: translating ideas and experiences from Spanish into English, then back again, every day. At a CD signing in Miami’s South Beach, Leana Villareal, 21, a student at the University of Florida in Gainesville, is tired but eager after waiting in line since the night before. “I became Ricky’s fan when he was on a Mexican soap opera called ‘Alcanzar Una Estrella II’,” she says. Villareal met her friend Maribel Alicia, 24, online at the Ricky Martin Web site. “I love the way he’s always true to himself and true to Puerto Rico,” says Alicia, who is half Chilean and half Cuban. “You’ve got to be proud of the way that he’s broken down so many barriers.”

In the pantheon of Latina America, Lopez cuts a very different profile. “Jennifer’s butt,” says Nely Galan, the first female president of the Spanish-language TV network Telemundo, “is to die. [Latina] girls grow up with hourglass figures and big butts, and the women you see become movie stars are tall, thin and hipless, more like Gwyneth Paltrow. Now all these Latina girls are going, ‘Good, my butt is hot’.”

At Sony recording studios in Manhattan, Lopez is feeling her roots. Today she is dressed in tight T shirt and jeans for an MTV interview in a subway station. The famous makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin and equally famous hairstylist Oribe are on hand to perfect the look: Latina girl from the Bronx. It is an easy stretch. Born and raised in the Bronx, the daughter of a Puerto Rican teacher and computer specialist, Lopez always wanted to be an entertainer, even back in Holy Family Catholic School. She got her first break as a dancing Fly Girl on TV’s “In Living Color,” and has simply added careers from there. “If I could describe myself in a few words,” she says, ” ‘strong’ would be one of them. I know what I want, and I’m willing to go after it.” Her album, a slick mix of R&B and Latinish grooves, is a testimony to that ambition, a funky extension of the Lopez brand. Singing almost wholly in English, Lopez carries the songs simply, without much fuss. “Now,” she says, “the world is starting to see what it’s like to grow up in a Latin family: the flavor and the culture and the passion and the music. We’re a very passionate people.” She laughs about having jumped a subway turnstile at the MTV interview. “I’ve gotta work out,” she gasps, patting her hip. “My ass!”

Will Martin’s success open the floodgates for other Latin musicians? Desmond Child is doubtful. “When people say the Latin music explosion, I beg to differ,” he says. “There’s been one artist, and his name is Ricky Martin.” Celia Cruz, the queen of salsa music, says of the American audience, “Si no entiende, no atiende: if they don’t understand, they don’t pay attention. They’ll play Gloria Estefan, and now Ricky Martin, who has recorded in English.” But salsa legends like herself and Tito Puente, she says, still “don’t get played. We’ve advanced, but we’re not where we want to be.”

The salsa star Marc Anthony, who is recording his own English-language album in the studio next to Lopez’s, stops in to say hello. Anthony sang a duet on Lopez’s album–all in the Sony family, under the eye of corporate impresario Tommy Mottola–and he has just returned from a meeting at the label. “I went shopping today,” he tells Lopez. “Oh, yeah,” she asks. “For what?” “Money.” This surely is where the real advances will be made, in the corporate suites. A decade ago Latin music was a niche business, as were rap, country and alternative. In the splintered new world order, says Mottola, “this is a core business for us.” Timing, after all, is everything. Ricky and Jennifer are ready for their crossover.

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LATIN MUSIC: A DOZEN OF THE BEST AND BRASHEST

PURISTS LOVE “BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB” (NONESUCH), AND “AMERICANOS” (ATLANTIC) PROVIDES A GREAT MULTIGENRE INTRODUCTION. BUT FOR THE BEST OF WHAT’S IN LATIN HOMES TODAY, FROM TRADITIONAL TO PURE POP AND BEYOND, HERE’S OUR FANTASY BOXED SET. COMPILED BY THOMAS HAYDEN AND ANA FIGUEROA.

Cubanismo!, ‘Reencarnacion’ (Hannibal) Cuban troubadours keep it real while updating traditional styles

Los Tigres del Norte, ‘Contrabanda y Traicion’ (Fonovisa) Norteno accordions, tubas. What’s not to like?

Vicente Fernandez, ‘Entre el Amor y Yo’ (Sony Discos) The King of ranchero, with the sombrero collection to prove it

Alejandro Fernandez, ‘Me Estoy Enamorando’ (Sony Discos) Takes Dad’s ranchero to new romantic heights

Marc Anthony, ‘Contra la Corriente’ (RMM) East Harlem singer-actor is most visible of the young salsa stars

Elvis Crespo, ‘Suavamente’ (Sony Discos) Seriously suave Puerto Rican provides deeply danceable merengue

Juan Gabriel, ‘Juan Gabriel en Bellas Artes’ (Ariola) Flamboyant balladeer celebrates 25 years in the biz

Luis Miguel, ‘Todos los Romances’ (WEA Latina) Swoon-inducing Mexican romantica crooner’s boxed set

Ozomatli, ‘Ozomatli’ (Almo Sounds) New millennium arrives; L.A. powerhouse plays the street party

Mana, ‘Suenos Liquidos’ (WEA Latina) Rock en espanol megastars channel the Police, add Latin flourishes

Shakira, ‘Donde Estan los Ladrones’ (Sony Discos) The Latin Alanis: frank songs, big pipes, solid riffs. All rock.

Big Punisher, ‘Capital Punishment’ (Loud/RCA) Top Bronxster boasts most rhymes per line in hip-hop

Photo: PUERTO RICAN PRIDE: Martin passed on starring with Lopez in a ‘West Side Story’ remake. ‘It would represent gangs and stereotypes about my culture.’

Photo: Lopez’s new video (above), Madonna and Martin at the Grammys. ‘Madonna’s a great salsa dancer,’ he says.

Graphic: Latin Music: A Dozen of the Best and Brashest

Copyright 1999 Newsweek Inc. All rights reserved. Any reuse, distribution or alteration without express written permission of Newsweek is prohibited. http://www.newsweek.com

>>> View more: Now here’s a real cheating scandal: forget the NFL. The big-money, truly audacious cheaters are overseas

Now here’s a real cheating scandal: forget the NFL. The big-money, truly audacious cheaters are overseas

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Though he never became the sex symbol he was supposed to, Australian actor Patti Hogan did teach us a very important lesson about cultural perspective, most notably in a scene from the first Crocodile Dundee movie. Approached by a New York mugger wielding a switchblade,’ Michael J. Dundee produces a huge Bowie knife, famously instructing, “That’s not a knife. That’s a knife.”

The world of professional sports had its own Dundee moment late last week. On the same day the NFL fined the New England Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick US$750,000 (plus an early draft pick) for a spying incident, FIA, the governing body for Formula One racing, dealt McLaren an impressive $100-million penalty (plus disqualification from the team championship) for its bit of athletic espionage against Ferrari.

Sporting comparisons are hard to come by. In the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves were once fined $3.5 million (and several draft picks) for violating league salary cap rules, while Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was once penalized half a million for questioning the competence of league referees. But $100 million? Nothing remotely close. For what it’s worth, only 23 of the 122 teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball have payrolls that total more than $100 million.

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Still, McLaren chairman Ron Dennis seemed unmoved. “If you read our accounts, we turn over roughly $450 million to $500 million a year, and we are debt-free, so obviously we are a very strong company with phenomenal growth.” The British press similarly sniffed. “McLaren’s $100m fine will sound a lot to the outside world, but Dennis will not be asking for time to pay,” wrote the Guardian’s Richard Williams. “McLaren are among the sport’s biggest earners and biggest spenders, and the fine will make no difference to their activities.”

There is a difference, then, between a fine and a fine. And a lesson in cultural perspective is perhaps necessary. In 2000, shortstop Alex Rodriguez signed a 10-year, $252-million contract with the Texas Rangers that is widely considered the most lucrative in sports history. But, on a per-year basis, he earns considerably less than Kimi Raik konen, the highest paid driver in F1, who makes somewhere between $32 and $51 million per year with Ferrari, depending on the estimate. And Raikkonen is but the second-highest-paid racer in F1 history, the legendary Michael Schumacher having reportedly earned $62.4 million at his peak.

According to the estimates of Formula Money, an authority on F1 finances, McLaren’s budget for the current year is $445.4 million, the highest of any team. The McLaren Group, the team’s parent company, is part owned by DaimlerChrysler and the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company (an extension of the Kingdom of Bahrain) and sponsored by Vodafone (one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies). “Even if it loses $100 million off next year’s budget, this will only put it on a par with rivals such as Honda and BMW” says Formula Money co-author Caroline Reid.

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On a practical level too, the NFL scandal is amateur by comparison. Where the Patriots are accused of sending a relatively inexperienced 26-year-old staffer to tape the hand signals of opposing coaches, McLaren managed to acquire a thumping 780-page dossier from a disgruntled Ferrari employee. The information from the manual concerned such matters as weight distribution, braking and a mysterious gas Ferrari used to inflate their tires.

What’s more, the European version of Spygate has spun off a separate scandal–this one involving McLaren teammates and rivals Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Alonso, currently sitting second in the overall standings, is alleged to have threatened to go public with what he knew of the dossier if McLaren didn’t make him their No. 1 driver ahead of Hamilton, F1’s top racer so far this year. At Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, Hamilton (who finished fourth) accused Alonso (who finished third) of trying to settle the matter by sideswiping him at 190 km/h. “It’s been a tough week, and for sure a lot tougher week for me than for Fernando because … I won’t say any more,” Hamilton said, adding, “I feel more attached to the team, I guess, and I care a bit more.”

With that Hamilton set the stage for a furious end to the F1 season. And, once again, reminded North American sports fans not to overestimate their own scandals.

Not the Marilyn Kind; Christopher Caldwell, unmoved by Marilyn

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Byline: Christopher Caldwell

“Decaying industrial cities” are no longer a blot on the American landscape. What we have now is decayed industrial cities. From a certain vantage point–the consumerist one–the empty shells of these places are more pleasant than the actual, living cities were. Factories, tanneries, and high schools have been refitted to serve the people who survived them, whether as malls or as assisted-living facilities. The firehouse is now the Firehouse Pub. Stan’s Muffler Shop has become Melissa’s Muffin Shop. It is not urban planning so much as taxidermy.

I am writing this in an exceptionally pleasant place in such a city–a coffee shop with high-speed Internet. The people who run it are Albanians. How the place is decorated probably has a lot to do with when it opened: in the years just after September 11, 2001, when the distrust of newcomers that is usual in blighted cities was running high. What Americans know about Albania is easily summed up, and some of it may even be true: It’s full of Muslims. It once had a king named Zog who was 7 feet tall and sailed away with its national treasury. Bill Clinton bombed Serbia to smithereens in order to enlarge it. Its economy is dominated by what you might call, if you were being polite, an impressive stolen-car sector.

Aside from a couple of photos of the owners’ native village, this place is a shrine to American culture. There are photographs of American haystacks, American country lanes, and the New York skyline. There is one of those “old-fashioned” pressed-tin ceilings that materialized simultaneously in every yuppie eatery in the country around 1998. The Weather Channel plays all day long on a flat-screen TV. This is immigrant assimilation of the more-Catholic-than-the-pope variety. If a native doesn’t feel comfortable here, there is something wrong with him.

And that is why the gigantic black-and-white photograph of Marilyn Monroe in modest autumn dress leaves me ill at ease, as photographs of Marilyn Monroe always do. If she is the great American sex symbol, then there is something I am missing about either sex or (preferably) America. Really, this is not contrarianism–from almost four centuries’ distance, I can see quite clearly what Charles II saw in Nell Gwynne, and from two I can see the Maja through Goya’s eyes. But Marilyn Monroe?

The message that that big black-and-white poster in the Albanian coffee shop intends to convey is: “Her matchless beauty haunted the dreams of passionate men, and goaded them to scale the summits of poetic eloquence.” But the message it conveys to me is something more like: “Her tuna-noodle casserole is always a hit at the PTA potluck.” Or maybe: “She has a kind word for everyone who walks into the hardware store.”

Over the years, I have confided to a few friends this terrible secret: The feelings Marilyn Monroe arouses in me can be printed in a family magazine. To my relief, I find I am not alone. At the end of the day, she is a bit like Marmite: Either you love it or you miss the whole point of it. The question is how she came to be considered the cynosure on which all American libidos converged.

Since those inclined to make a big cultural deal of Marilyn Monroe have tended to be either (like Norman Mailer) pretentious or (like Andy Warhol) frivolous, one suspects a cultural fraud. Many of the values that dominated life in the period from 1914 to 1989 proved to be not waves of the future but ephemeral delusions: Communism in politics, Modernism in the arts, Freudianism in social relations. What makes us so sure the culture’s conception of sex appeal was not similarly misdirected?

But there is a second possibility: that her appeal, while genuine, was never so much sexual as social. In a sexist age, masculine power of various kinds swirled around her. She became iconic because Arthur Miller, Joe DiMaggio, and the Kennedys saw her as iconic. How come? It is probably not an accident that all of those men were of recent immigrant stock. The Sicily that Joe DiMaggio’s parents fled produced great things, but not Marilyn Monroes. Back then she was a symbol of America, not for America. We shouldn’t expect her to reflect the average American’s idea of sex any more than Maurice Chevalier reflects the average Frenchman’s idea of culture. The prize she represented was not sex but belonging. The wall of an immigrant-run cafe in a changing American city in the Internet age is probably the most natural place on earth for her to be.

Christopher Caldwell

From sex god to truth seeker

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Vannelli’s latest album, ‘Yonder Tree,’ is much different from his earlier works. Instead of rock and pop and a macho image, Vannelli sings jazz-style music in the new album, which is an account of his own spiritual journey.

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In the 1970s, Montreal-born Gino Vannelli was the quintessential Italian stallion, a hairy-chested prince of synthesizer rock and disco pop. He was a genuine sex symbol, drawing thousands of screaming female fans to sold-out concerts across North America. But by the mid-1980s, Vannelli had grown disillusioned with his macho image–and his Roman Catholic faith. Adopting an existentialist outlook, he went through a life-altering experience while hiking alone in the Peruvian Andes, coming face-to-face, he says, with a “superior being.” That spiritual awakening has since led to an exhaustive study of Hindu, Buddhist and mystic Christian values. Four years ago, Vannelli left his longtime home in Los Angeles, moving with his wife and son to the quieter city of Portland, Ore. The following year, while on tour in Japan, he spent several weeks with Zen monks near Tokyo. Now, the 42-year-old Vannelli is surprising his followers again: his new recording, Yonder Tree, is a jazz-drenched–and soul-baring–account of his spiritual journey.

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Recorded with an acoustic trio (pianist Randy Porter, bassist Phil Baker and drummer Graham Lear) and various guests, including the illustrious saxophonist Tom Scott, the album ventures musically into the lush, 1950s style reminiscent of Frank Sinatra’s romantic ballads. But Vannelli takes a decidedly un-jazzlike approach to his lyrics. Songs such as A Little Bit of Judas and Jehovah and All That Jazz wrestle with issues of temptation and desire. Fallen in Love, which features a tap dance solo from Gregory Hines, charts Vannelli’s inner quest with such wry lines as, “Found Jesus and Siddhartha in a bar in Djakarta.” That decidedly personal lyrical agenda sets Yonder Tree apart from the work of Harry Connick Jr., Canada’s Holly Cole and other vocalists who have explored older jazz styles. But one sign that the jazz community is willing to give Vannelli serious consideration is his June 29 appearance at this summer’s Montreal International Jazz Festival.

Sitting in a Toronto cafe recently, Vannelli appeared unconcerned about his new album’s chances of commercial success. Wearing blue jeans, a black tuxedo jacket and tinted aviator shades, and without his Afro hairdo of the ’70s, the singer talked about how he came to make Yonder Tree. “I’ve always liked some of the jazz-standard melodies, the brush-sweeping ballads,” he said. “And I wanted to write something in that vein without sounding nostalgic.” He added: “The album represents the journey I’ve been on, and this wanting to break through and do something I’ve always wanted, without being afraid of whether or not I’m going to sell a lot of records.”

Vannelli notes that his father, Joseph, a onetime singer himself who died four months ago, was also a big influence on the new album. “My father was a Sinatra afficionado who played me all those classic Sinatra albums from the late ’50s and early ’60s,” says Vannelli. “When you’re brought up with the best tunes and arrangements, it’s hard to top that. Sinatra’s singing was impeccable–everything a singer wants to be.” One of three boys born to barber Joseph and his wife, Delia, Gino had his own rock band, the Cobras, before he reached his teens. After he and brother Joe formed another group, inspired by Motown and called the Jacksonville Five, Gino went solo and began shopping tapes of his music around. Travelling to Los Angeles in 1973, Gino landed a recording deal with A&M Records, after impressing part-owner Herb Alpert with his vocals and charisma.

The singer’s albums over the next few years spawned several hits, including People Gotta Move (1974) and I Just Wanna Stop (1978). Vannelli was soon touring the United States, opening for acts such as Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight and the Pips. He earned several Grammy Award nominations and, by the end of the 1970s, the Vannelli brothers–Gino, Joe and Ross–had established themselves as a powerful triumvirate, earning Juno Awards as Canada’s top male vocalist, producer and engineer respectively. Although Gino enjoyed one other major hit, 1985’s platinum-selling Black Cars, musical tastes had largely overtaken him, and he became haunted by his image as a 25-year-old, self-described “stud.” In fact, the singer now says that the whole time he was idolized as a sex symbol he was deeply conflicted. “I was taught that my lusts and sex were something devilish,” says Vannelli, who attended a strict Roman Catholic school in Montreal and later became an altar boy. “The image that I portrayed and my feelings towards women were constantly on trial, and I wound up unhappy and confused.”

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Having rediscovered a new, deeper faith, Vannelli seems more at peace with himself. On the liner notes to Yonder Tree, he thanks his wife, Patricia, and their eight-year-old son, Anton, for “putting up with this daylong dreamer, having to be pointed in the general direction of the corner grocery store.” But he dedicates the album to his late father who, he says, quit music out of a fear of failure. Recalls Vannelli: “He once told me, `Don’t ever be like me.’ But we all feel that fear. I have to ask myself, `Will the public accept me, or can I grow old with them thinking that I’m not good anymore?’ That’s the trap of having been some sort of sex god. And it’s very hard to get past that.” During his spiritual wanderings of the past several years, Gino Vannelli has struggled to reinvent himself. On the evidence of Yonder Tree, he has at least succeeded in leaving the carnal side of his performance far behind.

>>> View more: All you need is love: brain sex and the mating game