‘What their sexual persuasion is does not enter into it’

A little over twenty-five years ago, the last raid on a gay club happened in South Florida:

In a Friday night show of force, 100 armed officers masked drug agents and the U.S. Border Patrol raided the gay bars.

Sheriff Nick Navarro, his wife Sharron and a visiting Soviet military man showed up to watch.

Officers flashed pictures, recorded the scenes with a video camera, sought out illegal aliens, ran criminal checks on customers and asked people where they work.

The law enforcement team made six arrests — and with its timing and tactics, infuriated members of South Florida’s gay community.

“It’s the most outrageous and unjustifiable exercise of police power that I’ve ever heard of, ” said Greg Baldwin, chairman of the Dade Action PAC, a gay rights group.

Besides making the arrests, authorities suspended the liquor licenses of both establishments, Club 21 in Pembroke Park and Copa Cabaret near Port Everglades.

“They are not licensed to sell cocaine. And we did find cocaine all over the floor after we got in there, ” said Maj. Ralph Page, a spokesman for the Broward Sheriff’s Office. “What their sexual persuasion is does not enter into it. This to me is a bum rap.”

Owners of the Copa declined comment Monday. Club 21’s lawyer, Norman Kent, said the raid was “a made-for-TV bust. They’re targeting a gay establishment for being too gay.”

Responded Page: “This is not gay bashing. This is enforcement of narcotics laws.”

The investigation began with a tip earlier this year to the sheriff’s South Broward substation. Accompanied by confidential informants, a sheriff’s detective and an investigator from the state Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco began frequenting the clubs in February.

They had no trouble finding drugs, state records show: Investigators made deals with disc jockeys, bartenders and patrons, handing over $20, $30 or $40 for bags of cocaine and $50 for marijuana. Detectives witnessed live sex acts between paid dancers and customers at Club 21, they wrote.

Nick Navarro, for those who don’t know, declared war on 2 Live Crew in 1989, arresting record store clerks who sold As Nasty As They Wanna Be. The claim about finding coke on the floor is a delicious touch — no one has to prove it’s true to float the claim. I mention the story to remind younger readers that this happened not so long ago. If we weren’t dealing with HIV, we had to fend off cops zealous about enforcing Leviticus.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the limits of GOP compassion

In 2008, fuming over Barack Obama’s support of the so-called Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and his obvious waffling over gay marriage when Florida had an amendment on the ballot defining marriage between a man and woman, I didn’t vote for him. Instead, I voted for my representative, a supporter of the most pernicious foreign policy embarrassments of the Bush administration, including unconditional support for Israel and whose U.S. attorney husband has a history of ethical questions following him. Here’s why:

The day Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen told his prominent parents about his new gender identity, he did so in a letter that he left on their bed. Then he grabbed a packed bag and, unsure of whether he would be welcomed back, went to a friend’s house to see if his family would love him or leave him…

…“I worried about his safety and about his well-being,” Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said, noting that inflammatory debates like the one about school bathrooms serve to further alienate transgender youths and subject them to more bullying and animosity. “I didn’t want him to be depressed. You think of all the parade of horribles that could happen.”

Lest you accuse me of having a heart of stone, I teared up when I read the following:

A turning point came when he told his 86-year-old abuelo in 2010. “We were terrified to tell him,” Mr. Heng-Lehtinen said. Instead of becoming angry, his grandfather shrugged. At his age, he said, nothing was more important than the happiness of his grandchild.

It was an incredibly simple and loving response,” Mr. Heng-Lehtinen added.

The concern for LGBT rights in Congress has made such an impact that Ros-Lehtinen is the only GOP member of the LGBT Equality Caucus after eight years. Eight years. To admit to a sense of dismay and frustration gives her party a question to take to their rural voters. Two hours ago, flipping between channels, not a single one of FOX News’ panelists on Chris Wallace’s show expressed a scintilla of compassion for Barack Obama’s directive to public schools about transgender access. The discussion centered on executive overreach and the horror — shown in the hangdog, insolent expression on career hack Brit Hume’s face — of a child purportedly walking into a bathroom in which they face a person with genitalia belonging to the other sex. In office since Claude Pepper resigned, Ros-Lehtinen knows her caucus. And she knows her party.

‘We see you’

This is immense, folks:

Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself. Some of you have lived freely for decades. Others of you are still wondering how you can possibly live the lives you were born to lead. But no matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration wants you to know that we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward. Please know that history is on your side. This country was founded on a promise of equal rights for all, and we have always managed to move closer to that promise, little by little, one day at a time. It may not be easy — but we’ll get there together.

For the attorney general of the United States to speak so unequivocally about a group whom even mainstream lesbian-gay organizations had treated as second class speaks to the progress of something or other. Meanwhile the governor of North Carolina wriggles like spaghetti in a colander, masking a repulsive past in twaddle about saving children from non-existent dangers.

The LGBTQ-liberal dilemma

I suppose it’s dandy that corporate interests and LGBTQ rights align in 2016, for which I’m grateful, but what it portends for the future of the future of grass roots activism is hard to say. Certainly the number of corporations that have threatened to pull out of North Carolina and Georgia after they passed versions of “religious freedom” laws wouldn’t have done so if they hadn’t sensed that their bottom lines weren’t threatened.

Months ago I wrote a post based on Fredrick deBoer’s reluctance to applaud the trend of using bureaucratic channels to address university grievances:

Defining, roughly, corporatism as a system that exists to protect itself, deBoer calls for an activism that recognizes the danger of the institutions which the activists think need reforming. And his conclusions echo the shrewder critics of the American social compact. Ellen Willis was reminding her leftist readers in the late nineties that every right enjoyed by Americans since the nineteenth century came as a result of radical social movements: labor, the New Left, black and feminist liberation movements, gay pride. The role of the state since the heyday of the New Deal, Willis writes, was “to manage potentially destabilizing social conflict by offering carefully limited concessions to the troublemakers.” Hence the Nixon administration’s use of affirmative action to encourage social mobility instead of fixing the endemic racism. Which is not to dismiss the achievements wrought by this compact between the state and social movements; but Willis and deBoer remind us that investing too much energy in the institutions that once guaranteed these concessions results in skepticism if not hostility when the institutions err.

The last sentence is important because creating skepticism if not hostility towards institutions has been the GOP plan for twenty-five years. I don’t see a way through the dilemma. Embracing federal and state institutions when trust in them is so low that a political party is about to stick a samurai sword in its gut is its own (mild) kind of suicide. And Hillary Clinton doesn’t strike me as the establishment figure around whom liberals can rally to preserve these tenets; the Clinton have done their bit to undermine those tenets too, recall.

But a report by Victory Fund shows a correlation between anti-queer legislation and the number of queer state legislators:

“Nearly all of the states facing anti-transgender bills have only 1 or no openly LGBT people serving in their state legislatures,” the report notes.

“One of the reasons the LGBT movement has seen such rapid progress is because our allies have really stepped up. But allies aren’t enough. When LGBT people are serving in public office, and especially in state legislatures, they directly change the conversation,” Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of Victory Fund and Institute. told me. “Their visibility and their relationships with their colleagues mean the discussion quickly becomes about a real person with a real family. It’s not just political grandstanding on one side and allies pleading their case on the other. Representation matters. Our voices make a huge difference when we’re in those rooms.”

The first “but” is crucial. Representation is a crucial first step.

It gets better…sometimes

The scariest moment of my sexual life occurred fourteen years ago when an unknown male person tapped on the back window of my SUV when I was in it with my lover at the time. I don’t know if he was a cop or passing stranger who — what exactly? Wanted to warn me? Was interested in joining? Acted like an asshole? I was aware that anyplace other than Miami this might have occasioned a beating. And in Miami it still does, as the fracas below details:

Surveillance video from the March 14th incident captured the fight take place as more than a dozen people waited in line to order food.

Miami Beach Police said the confrontation happened after Schaeffer and his partner, 25-year-old Eric Danko, engaged in a display of affection. The couple told police their kiss offended a man in a dark shirt and shorts, who confronted them and harassed them “using derogatory words.”

“The subjects in this case happen to be gay individuals and that’s part of our investigation to see what provoked that attack,” explained Miami Beach police officer Ernesto Rodriguez.

That led to things getting physical and within moments, the men were wrestling on the restaurant floor.

“Had some sort of exchange with victims, a verbal exchange which escalated into a violent physical attack,” Rodriguez said.

This happened last night, let me repeat, in Miami Beach, long the shorthand for “homo.” the Whopper Bar a block from South Beach’s longest standing gay bar. And this incident happened in Atlanta not long ago.

No matter how often I remind students that we South Florida gays have it good danger lurks everywhere, and rising sea levels got fuck all to do with it.

Mustaches and gay panic: The Killers

For a couple years I got more hate mail for this piece than anything I’d written to date. I was happy to be proven right: Brandon Flowers’ queer envy and talents finally meshed on the daft and intermittently powerful The Desired Effect, and he shaved the mustache.

——————–
The Killers
Sam’s Town
10-02-06

More than a few critics have knocked The Killers for recording a soupy version of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, but they haven’t suggested which Springsteen albums the band should have been emulating. I suggest Born in the U.S.A., 12 synth-anchored nuggets which get down to basics instead of shilly-shallying with poesy as unfathomable to Springsteen as it is to Brandon Flowers. Face it: “She’s the One” and “Jungleland” are silly songs no matter whose neck veins are straining at the mic. Whatever Sam’s Town’s scant merits, the album reminds artists to be more careful about their role models—and to avoid Bono’s phone calls.

While promoting 2004’s Hot Fuss, Flowers’ interviews proffered a hermeneutics of Mormonism acceptable to Teen Beat subscribers and fans of Duran Duran’s first eponymous album: he drank and smoke on occasion; he admired the Pet Shop Boys and Morrissey; he tacitly acknowledged that, while the Killers may have been his first band, he’d had the smarts to hire three of the ugliest men in rock so that only he could hog the spotlight. If Hot Fuss was intermittently powerful enough to support Flowers’ pretensions, the album’s uncertain amble signaled that either The Killers didn’t believe a fucking word of their interviews or that they could mime New Order performances like their namesakes when the albums don’t ship platinum.

Sam’s Town
puzzles, like Flowers’ new mustache. It is simply appalling that no one reminded the band about the album’s ridiculous sequencing. A reminder, kids: an “Enterlude” should be, you know, the first song, not the second. Burying “Read My Mind,” the album’s only surefire hit, in the second half when it should have followed first single “When You Were Young” smacks of carelessness or stupidity: Flowers can spell “hurricane” but not “gestalt.” The spectacularly named “Bling (Confessions of a King)” is a showcase for guitarist Adam Keuning’s imitations of The Edge, not Flowers’ duet with Jay-Z. The cautionary tale “Uncle Jonny” fails to work up a sweat about drugs or rhyming dictionaries (“When everyone else did cocaine / My Uncle Jonny did refrain”); it must rankle Flowers that Justin Timberlake’s recent “Losing My Way” deploys anti-crack bombast more affectingly.

Romantic tropes, as Byron and Kate Bush understood, are useful simulacra for coitus. If Flowers has had sex since the release of Hot Fuss, Sam’s Town is a woeful advertisement. The low bass throb of “Read My Mind” evokes the cumulatively desperate crawl of Jacques Lu Cont’s Thin White Duke remix of “Mr. Brightside”; but where Flowers limns the latter’s paranoid scenario in garish three-dimensional hues, the former has restless-hearts, promised-lands, and other Springsteenian table scraps that won’t impress anybody on a first date. It doesn’t help that Flowers sings his big numbers like a soccer ball had winded him a minute before opening his mouth—a damn shame, since a pip of a tune like “All the Things That I’ve Done” showed what a singer whose emotional range compensated for a limited physical range can do. In a touching display of solidarity with their leader’s hysterics, the band insert awful fills and accelerate the tempos on sex-jive like “Bones” and (really) “The River Is Wild.” It’s not that Flowers writes songs he’s physically incapable of singing; he writes songs that no one wants to sing.

An album as straight as Sam’s Town forces one to deploy grad school jargon like “hetero-normative,” but from the new influences to the performances this is a classic example of gay panic. Perhaps Flowers was genuinely unaware of how many men watched the “All The Things That I’ve Done” video just to swoon at the sight of him washing his hair (I’m not one of them, but he was dorky-cute in a ten-gallon hat like Dave Gahan’s circa 1990). Perhaps he fails to note the relish with which he bites down hard on the “beautiful boy” line in “When We Were Young.” Perhaps he forgets that he used to wear makeup and love the Pet Shop Boys and Morrissey. Their susceptibility to a homo reading lent those early songs their soupcon of subtext. Despite Flowers’ gaseous poetry and weedy melodramatics he carried the flag for a new prototype: the straight guy who wishes he was as cool, stylish, and awesomely self-assured as he imagines his gay best friend to be. To realize this synth-swish/muscle-queen mythos, he will have to understand that Born in the U.S.A. showed a more variegated Springsteen than its mega-sales (not to mention Born to Run) suggested. The Boss also had the foresight to wear jeans as tight as the gates on Max Weinberg’s drums—the little boys and girls understood.

The horror of the North Carolina experiment

Please understand: the North Carolina General Assembly went into special session to fight the evil of transgender citizens using bathrooms which don’t correspond to their birth gender. But the passed bill is worse:

On Wednesday, members who could make it in time traipsed back to Raleigh to overturn the Charlotte rule. (Some missed the session, saying they did not have time to travel.) What exactly would be in the bill remained a mystery almost up to the moment the session gaveled in—the text was made public just minutes ahead of time.

Once released, it was clear that the legislative language was more sweeping than expected. Not only does it prevent local governments from writing ordinances that allow people to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender with with they identify, it also preempts cities from passing their own nondiscrimination standards, saying the state’s rules—which are more conservative—supersede localities. Local school district would be barred from allowing transgender students to use bathrooms or locker rooms that don’t correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificate. The bill would also ban cities from passing their own minimum-wage laws.

It’s a striking example of how North Carolina’s Republicans have decided that culture war issues ought to take precedence over traditional conservative preference for local control.

By all accounts the most liberal state in the Old South, North Carolina leaped off a cliff in 2010 when its legislature decided to implement every kind of Koch Bros-tested idea about corporate non-governance. Because same sex marriage is now allowed in every state in the Union — I use the phrase for a reason — the battle has shifted towards “religious liberty” and the rights of the transgendered, the latter of whom until recently the Human Rights Campaign was willing to sacrifice for the sake of cocktail parties with the Clintons.

RuPaul on the young: ‘They’ll figure it out’

For all the talk about “community” gay men and women have to construct their identities on their own from the flotsam and jetsam of pop culture, folklore, upbringing, art, whatever works; in this life, as a pansexual imp named Prince Rogers Nelson once sang, things are much harder than the after world. Although I’ve never seen RuPaul’s Drag Race, I’ve long thought the star was a hep cat: shrewd about marketing, a survivor in the best sense, for how could it be otherwise when he’s seen dozens of friends and lovers die since 1981. He is gimlet-eyed about the acceptance of gayness; he worries about it becoming another accessory. He wants to keep the danger. There’s also this bit from a recent interview:

Q: How do you view drag’s relationship to the trans community?
A: I think it’s a boring topic. I don’t really want to talk about that because everybody wants to ask about that. It’s so topical, but they’re complete opposites. We mock identity. They take identity very seriously. So it’s the complete opposite ends of the scale. To a layperson, it seems very similar, but it’s really not.

Q: Right. But I mean, it is complicated, too, because …

A: I don’t think it’s complicated. Some people take identity very seriously. I don’t. I choose to laugh at identity and play with it. I’ll wear a suit or I’ll wear a sailor’s outfit. I’ll dress femme. I’ll dress butch queen, which is the name of my new album, by the way. I’ll do whatever. All of the experiences I’ve learned and every ascended master you’ve studied will say the exact same thing: Life is not to be taken seriously. Most people are dumb as fuck. If you look at their voting habits and their eating habits, you realize people are stupid. So we could talk about stupid people or we could just stay with smart people who know how to have fun and not even focus on what dumb people do. It’s not worth it. I tell you this as someone who’s a smart motherfucker: Don’t waste your time fooling with dumb people or trying to figure them out or trying to educate them. It doesn’t work. It’s a lose-lose situation.

On why the variety on television does not stave off boredom:

This is my twisted little theory: that because more and more people became narcissistic and became self-analyzed or in therapy, their own personal issues became omnipotent, and they wanted the whole world to know, “My personal issues are important, dammit, and so I need to be around people who understand me.” Rather than the other way around, and fixing yourself from the inside out, they wanted the outside to reflect who they are.

This coincides with one of my peeves: our cultural obsession with “issues.” As in, “My boyfriend has jealousy issues.” To say “My boyfriend is jealous,” as my students say with sheepish grins, sounds harsh. It also suggests finality; he can’t change his jealousy. Which happen to be true — personality traits can be controlled but not expunged.

Finally let me return to my first point:

I don’t know. I don’t really care about them. The truth is, they’re on their own. They’ll figure it out.

We did.

Profiles in discourage

Members solicit signatures on campus once a week. “Do you have a minute for gay rights?” they ask. In 2006 they had trouble stopping students. Now they draw a crowd. In a couple of conversations I’ve learned they’ve even refined their message: now the transgender population is among the segment for whom Human Rights Campaign lobbies.

How noble. In its unstoppable quest for funds and influence, HRC issued the following endorsement:

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, announced that the Public Policy Committee of HRC’s Board of Directors, comprised of community leaders from across the nation, has voted today to endorse Senator Mark Kirk for re-election. The endorsement was issued along with a first round of endorsements for pro-equality incumbents in the House and Senate.

“Whether it was becoming the first Republican Senator to co-sponsor the Equality Act, co-sponsoring a bill to help schools combat anti-LGBT bullying or supporting marriage equality, Senator Kirk has demonstrated time and again that he believes in full federal equality,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Senator Kirk’s leadership on the Equality Act sends a strong message that fairness and equality are bipartisan values. Senator Kirk has fought for us, and we are proud to support him in his re-election campaign.”

Again, how noble, adducing HRC’s reputation for bipartisan selling out. Kirk’s opponent Tammy Duckworkth scored a perfect 100 percent score on HRC’s own ratings system. The endorsement will win them no support from the ashes of the Republican establishment and will be meaningless when Kirk loses in November. Should Kirk win, he’s one more vote in Mitch McConnell’s anti-gay Senate brigade.

And remember this ten days ago:

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Profile in courage.

‘Get out of my house with all that gay’

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When as an icebreaker I ask my students what they did last weekend I’ve had two different straight male students admitting to going on a double date with their girlfriends and their gay best friends. Young Hispanic males, mind – that’s how much acceptance of homosexuality has come in the last decade.

But we live in South Florida, where acceptance has always come a little easier for us in the post-Anita Bryant years. Miami Dade and Broward counties don’t even count as the South. But homophobic violence still exists in cities as diverse as Atlanta:

A month ago, Tolbert, 21, and his boyfriend Anthony Gooden Jr., 23, were jolted out of sleep by the feeling of boiling water splashing across their torsos, faces and limbs. Gooden’s mother’s boyfriend, Martin Blackwell, stood over them, pouring the water, they say.

For a moment, Tolbert had no idea what could have provoked the alleged attack. Then Blackwell allegedly yanked him off the mattress and yelled, “Get out of my house with all that gay,” Tolbert recalled to WSBTV.

“We were just burning,” he later told Project Q Atlanta. “My body was just stinging. It was like a really, really severe kind of stinging. I could hardly think straight.”

[snip]

According to an incident report from the College Park Police Department, Blackwell told police that he was angry at the sight of the two men together.

“They were stuck together like two hot dogs … so I poured a little hot water on them and help them out,” he said to police, according to the incident report. “… They’ll be alright. It was just a little hot water.”

Recovering from second and third degree burns, Tolbert and Gooden said they endure psychological torment too, as who would not. This happened in the second decade of the twenty-first century in a major metropolitan area.

Homosexuality in the Reagan administration

1/18/1983 President Reagan during a meeting with Rupert Murdoch with Charles Wick Roy Cohn Thomas Bolan in the Oval Office

The Reagan White House, reports Steve Weisman as quoted by Charles Keiser, “was definitely a place where you would hear one staff member call another staff member ‘a fag’ behind his back.”

he Reagans came from a Hollywood milieu that had always embraced discreet homosexuals; that was probably the reason for their occasional displays of enlightenment. Besides Rock Hudson, Nancy Reagan’s gay friends included the decorator Ted Graber, who supervised a $1 million renovation of the family quarters at the White House. After Mrs. Reagan’s sixtieth birthday celebration, her spokesman confirmed that Graber had spent the night at the White House with his lover, Archie Case. Graber was also a frequent guest at state dinners, as was the ubiquitous Jerry Zipkin, the New York socialite and marathon walker of wealthy women.

The story of the co-chairman of the president-elect’s inaugural committee shows the extent to which publications used code to refer to gay men and women:

Coded references to Mr. Gray in the New York Times included descriptions of him as a “a trim, precisely groomed man” and a “perennial bachelor noted for his charm and connections.” In New York, the gay power broker Roy Cohn boasted of his influence within the Reagan White House, and his law partner, Tom Bolan, became head of the screening committee for federal judgeships in New York State. Six autographed pictures of Reagan decorated Cohn’s office, including one inscribed, “With Deepest Appreciation for your Love and Support.” On New York op-ed pages, Cohn wrote of Reagan’s “generous nature, great warmth and reluctance to inflict personal hurt.” In some ways, Cohn was the ideal gay friend for the Reagans, because he was not only deeply closeted but also publicly self-hating. Asked about the persistent rumor that his ballet dancer son, Ron Jr., might be gay, the presidential candidate said in 1980, “He’s all man—we made sure of that.”

Apparently chief of staff and treasury secretary James Baker wasn’t trim and precisely groomed enough for thew New York Times.

One of the forgotten subplots of the Reagan years involved characters for whom the subordination of sexuality to duty and manhood bloomed in the form of Oliver North’s grotesque sentimentality. But in the circles of Carl “Spitz” Channell the homosexuality was overt: North’s chief fundraiser died of AIDS. Christopher Hitchens’ “The Hate That Dares Not Speak Its Name” delineates the depth of the gay money-power nexus in the mid eighties, and Thomas Hallon’s superb recent novel Finale features a protagonist who is National Security Council aide, a Richard Nixon spy, and a closeted man having an affair with a young man in the Channell circle. It worked, if you’ll pardon the metaphor, both ways: gays could suppress their sexuality beneath the carapace of machismo and the machismo exacerbated the lying.

Roy Cohn is another story.

Heroes: Suede and Kevin Gates

Suede – Night Thoughts

As crunchy as “Metal Mickey” sounds in retrospect, it didn’t capture the affected homoerotics that singer Brett Anderson would yammer on about in every stateside interview the spring of 1993. To succumb I needed the full album: Anderson shouting “What does it take to turn you on?” again and again in “Animal Nitrate,” failing to smother Bernard Butler’s guitar; the stacks of junk guitar in “Pantomime Horse” piled like exhausted post-coital bodies; the fully convincing homoerotic rush of “The Drowners”; Simon Gilbert’s martial tapping on “Moving.” Four songs too long, reliant on balladry for “sensitivity,” Suede’s eponymous debut nevertheless remains a must-own: not an antidote to grunge so much as the overwrought, camp British response to the era’s new hyperemotionalism.

On 1994’s Dog Man Star, Brett Anderson stabs his cerebellum with a curious quill, pouring out fantasies about Hollywood adventures gone awry, fucking under chemical skies, and quoting Byron while framed by precisely timed guitar blasts. He constructs a glass house in which he can project like Liza Minnelli in Radio City. Imagine if Roxy Music had recorded an album’s worth of “Mother of Pearl”‘s and “If There is Something”‘s. I could say this even in 1994 when I bought Dog Man Star and immediately considered it the most dangerous record in my possession. Less overt about (pan)homosexuality, it evokes the kind of dissolution confused by sex-starved teenagers with romance and realism; it’s the best Gregg Araki film ever made. 1996’s Coming Up was the last boner before the band needed Viagra, but I don’t care for it. The reissues of Suede and Dog Man Star, complete with the best set of B-sides recorded since The Smiths’ peak, is the band’s testament. That’s one more album than most British hypes manage to make.

Like 2003’s Bloodsports, Night Thoughts suffers from harsh mastering that’s the aural equivalent of kerosene poured on a newly painted car. The songs are the right length. “Tightrope” aside, Anderson is in excellent form: full-throated, present, unafraid. Richard Oakes’ junk riffs still sting and crunch; for a crew of recovering fortysomething roués to write a song called “Like Kids” with the hook “Oh, it belongs to us” and avoid looking like prats is no small thing. “The Fur & the Feathers’ confirms that Suede remains the only British band of their generation who can write and sing ballads. So why does Outsiders sound tentative? Return to the fortysomething point. To record songs celebrating anthemic and hysterical responses to adversity is a hallmark of the young. There are moments on Night Thoughts when Anderson-Oakes include self-actualization paeans for sodden executives.

Kevin Gates – Islah

Broad with short vowels, touched by sadness, Kevin Gates’ frogmouth is so singular that it can obscure the merit of the material. His official debut has plenty of merit, though: among the most raucous and lived-in of recent debuts. No way is it “Juicy,” but “2 Phones” shares its I-made-it-Ma ebullience, a sequel to the graceful, sweet hip hop tracks he’s released since 2013, and he seizes the chorus like the steering wheel of his Ferrari (a pity about the bitch boasting though). It deserves to break as wide as “Trap Queen.” Working with a bevy of producers convinced it’ll happen, the Baton Rouge rapper finds hooks as big as his voice: the acoustic strumming on “Hard For,” the “she says I’m a dog but it takes one to know one” chorus on another.