One of the things I love about living in New York is having a few friends who are well connected in the theatre world. Wednesday afternoon I got a call from my friend Tom who just happened to have two free tickets to the invited dress rehearsal that night for Eugene O'Neill'sMoon for the Misbegotten starring Kevin Spacey. While technically it's a dress rehearsal, it's pretty much treated as a performance. There are no programs or ushers and the director's table is still set up in the house, however. Mostly it's industry professionals who get invited to these things: actors and directors, producers, designers etc. For the cast it feels almost like performing for family one last time before they start with preview audiences and during the final dress there is always a real feeling of community support and an appreciation for the work on the stage. In the case of Moon for the Misbegotten, this showbiz crowd did not have to work hard to fulfill their role as cheerleader--the show was fabulous.
The production came from London's Old Vic theatre where Kevin Spacey is the Artistic Director. The show opened toexcellent reviews last September with a limited run through December. It was such a success they decided to bring it to Broadway with Spacey and the two other London stars: Eve Best and ColmMeaney. These three actors gave beautifully crafted, multi-layered performances of their complex characters. As an actor I found it particularly interesting to see where they were in their process having been away from the show for a couple of months. The energy onstage had the feeling of freshly oiled the cogs and reignited chemistry that the anticipation of a Broadway opening brings.
The play is classic O'Neill with richly human characters and tremendous emotional depth. I was truly moved by this beautiful production on many levels and left the theatre reminded of why I want to go back to school for acting--to someday be able to give as fine a performance as this cast did.
To counteract my series of American Idol posts, I thought I'd talk about a couple of the books I've been reading lately. Because I do read. Really. I do.
Scott first recommended Fun Home by Alison Bechdel to me after receiving it for Christmas this year and loving it. Bechdel is the cartoonist behind the popular gay comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. She bills her book as a "Family Tragicomic" and tells it in comic book form. What I expected to be a light-hearted fun read was actually Bechdel's moving memoir of her father's death and supposed suicide, his closeted homosexuality and her coming of age as a lesbian. The characters are true to life and Bechdel tells a compelling and intelligent story rich with literary references from Greek mythology to F. Scott Fitzgerald.
In a recent articleBechdel describes having to tell her mother that she was writing a memoir about one of the most painful and devastating times in their family's history. Her mother took the news surprisingly well and followed up by sending Alison a quote from William Faulkner which read "The writer's only responsibility is to his art. … If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate."
Speaking of mothers, my own mother recommended Dan Savage's The Commitment to me which I also read recently. You may be familiar with Dan Savage's regular sex advice column "Savage Love" and his prickly editorials for The Stranger, a Seattle based alternative newspaper. (Check out his...ahem..."colorful" responseto Garrison Keillor's recent homophobic remarks.) Savage's book, also a memoir, recounts the story of organizing an anniversary-party-pretending-to-be-a-wedding-reception after a secret Canadian wedding ceremony with his boyfriend.
I think my mother could relate particularly well to the role of Savage's own mother who shows up periodically throughout the book with strategically timed visits and phone calls always with another bullet proof argument for why Savage and his boyfriend should get married. The story is told with much good humor and love. Savage also presents a very well researched and balanced argument in favor of gay marriage. It's a good read.
So that's what I've been reading. How about you? Read any good books lately?
Scott sent me word of this storytoday. No, I am not the blogger in question.
IDOL'S SANJAYA STICKS AROUND Wednesday night's American Idol results show, which saw the elimination of singer Chris Sligh, while the much belittled Sanjaya Malakar remained out of the bottom rankings, once again dominated the ratings, registering a 17.6 rating and a 27 share. Meanwhile, support for Sanjaya via the website votefortheworst.com appears to be growing, helped by frequent plugging from radio personality Howard Stern. One blogger has gone on a hunger strike to protest against Sanjaya's continued presence on the show.
While our young men and women in Iraq fear roadside and suicide bombers on a daily basis where over 3,000 American troops have already been killed, Karl Rove got down with his bad self last night at the Radio and Television Correspondence Dinnerdancing around as "M.C. Rove" and in general making an ass of himself.
This past weekend I visited with my 13 year old niece, Katie. During our time together I took the opportunity to try and get inside the mind of a representative of one of the most powerful demographics in our country today: the 13 year-old girl. Since Katie admits she likes Sanjaya, I was hoping to gain some insight as to why he keeps making the cut week after week on American Idol. What secret attribute does he possess that only seems to register on the radar screens of the 'tween market? What is it that makes middle school girls hear beautiful music when the rest of us want to run screaming from the room? So finally I asked her, "Katie, what is it about Sanjaya you like?"
Her answer? "I like his hair."
And there you have it ladies and gentleman--the secret to Sanjaya's success revealed! But I have to ask, after this week's appearance, do you still like his hair, Katie?
Anyway, that said, enough is enough with this kid. It's not funny anymore. It is more embarrassingly clear than ever that Sanjaya does NOT belong in this competition. Let's hope he's finally put out of his misery this week. I feel bad for the kid now. He's become a joke. It's not fair to him or the contestants with any real talent.
So here's my quick rundown of this week's contestants:
The Girls: Melinda, Lakisha,Jordin and Gina all did wonderfully this week. Excellent song choices, all. Gina rebounded nicely from last week and gave her best performance to date. Melinda and Lakisha both chose more youthful songs and delivered them with all the expertise of the divas from the golden age of disco. Jordin continued to use her youth to her advantage perhaps being the only one of the top girls who could pull off a Gwen Stefani song. Haley suffered from poor song choice this week but looked absolutely stunning. That alone could keep her in the competition for another week.
The Boys: A much improved showing from Chris Richardson which will hopefully keep him out of the bottom two this week. Although the judges loved Blake this week, I thought he played it a little safe. But as Simon said, he is still the leading male contender in the competition at this point. Phil Stacey delivered the goods once again this week. I never want to like him but he always wins me over with really good vocals. Chris Sligh has the dulcet tones of an angel but seems awkward and uncomfortable on stage. He should leave the mic stand carrying trick to the memory of Bo Bice and find his own personality. In fact if he doesn't soon, he could be the next casualty of the competition.
Who should and will be voted off this week: If there's a God in heaven--SANJAYA! I hope after this weeks performance the voting viewers have finally come to their senses. At this point he's not just bad, he's ridiculous--especially with this week's hairdo!
Sunday was the 96th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company Firein New York where 146 young girls perished behind the locked doors of their sweatshop workroom. They ranged in age from 12 to 23 and were mostly Italian and Eastern European immigrants working 70 hour weeks for $1.50 sewing shirtwaists in cramped conditions. The story of the fire, the worst workplace disaster in New York City history outside of 9/11, is legendary. The fire started on the eighth floor and spread quickly due to the multitude of cotton material, shirtwaists, fabric scraps and paper patterns which filled the workroom. With the doors locked to prevent the girls from taking breaks or leaving early and to keep out union organizers, the girls had no chance of survival. Some died plunging to their deaths in the elevator shaft, some held each other as they leapt to their deaths on the sidewalk below and others were overcome with smoke or burned alive.
The tragedy led to major reforms of not only fire and safety laws but improved working conditions for women, garment and factory workers. Yesterday several dignitaries including Cardinal Edward Egan, City Council Speaker Cathleen Quinn, members of the Fire Department and the New York Department of Labor were on hand at the corner Green Street and Washington Place, the site of the fire, to commemorate the victims.
This story has always resonated with me. Perhaps because my great-grandmother, my Nanny, might have very easily been one of those girls toiling away at a sewing machine in those days. She and her five sisters immigrated from Austro-Hungary just about 100 years ago, teenagers at the time, all of them.
They were the lucky ones who found posts as domestics in fine New York City homes. One sister working as a cook, another a maid and Nanny was just that, a nanny to the young children of a wealthy doctor on Central Park South. She told many stories of New York in those days as a carefree and exciting place. She went to dances with her sisters in Yorkville where she would meet other young German and Eastern European immigrants making their way in a new country. She told of occasions when the doctor would entertain and she would impress him with her baking skills whipping up an apple strudel from a recipe of her mother's carried across the sea in her memory. She eventually met and married a young man from her hometown back in the old country who had also moved to America. The two of them established roots here and started a family.
When I hear the story of the horror those girls in the Triangle Shirtwaist fire suffered, I can't help wonder if Nanny knew any of them. Did they go to those same dances? Did they live on her block in Yorkville? When she heard how they died did she cry? Did she pray for them? Did she realize how easily she could have been one of them?
Certain events in history affect the collective consciousness of not only the city but the whole country. Almost 100 years later New York City is still honoring the victims who gave their lives so that others would never have to suffer a similar fate. But aside from the historical affect the fire had on us, it's the humanity of the story that lingers in one's mind.
Below, next of kin identify the remains of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire victims.
Malkin concludes that Manhattan Mini-Storage must be run by a bunch of "Bush Derangement Syndrome loons." That's a new one on me. Never heard that expression before. Interesting.
Kecher Talk calls the ads "weird" and says that I believe "the ad campaign is just great." With all due respect to Kecher Talk, I do not believe the ads are just great. In fact, I described them as "a sad sign of the times." Would that we had an administration that did not supply so much fodder to comedians and ad companies alike. Frankly, it's not funny any more. It's upsetting.
Finally, Right Thoughts supplies the most "fair and balanced" analysis of the ad campaign saying:
Call me crazy, but when the same person/company mocks Brokeback, Queer Eye, Bush and Cheney...it’s hard to claim they have Bush Derangement Syndrome. Seems to me they just like to be edgy and satirical with their ads.
Right Thoughts credits me for pointing out both sides of the political spectrum being skewered in the Manhattan Mini-storage ads but then goes on to call leftists "reactionary jerks." Sort of a back-handed compliment but oh, well. Anyway, I appreciate the attention.
After an exhausting month of stress and anxiety, my MFA Acting auditions for grad school are finally over! Here's the rundown on my progress in case you've been following along:
As you know, I totally blew my first audition for School No. 1. It prompted my cathartic 21-stanza Audition Haiku. What can I say? I was depressed and writing about it helped. But I didn't really want to go there anyway, so it's all good.
The audition at School No. 2 went very well which I posted about here. Thank you all for your words of encouragement and support after both these posts! I had my visit to the campus of School No. 2 earlier this week which was enlightening. This school's program probably has the best reputation of any of the schools I'm applying to, so I was expecting a lot and for the most part what I observed lived up to my expectations. However, I've come to the realization that I will have to get over the fact that a lot of what I'll be studying in these programs are things I already know from my professional experience or from my undergrad studies. This became quite evident in a voice/verse class when the professor stepped out of the room to leave the students to do a scansion analysisof their Shakespeare monologues. I began to help the girl I was looking on with (because she needed it desperately) which prompted a chain reaction of other students seeking my advice for this line or that or in some cases whole sections of monologues. It made me feel like the big man on campus--or more accurately, the "old man" on campus, which is another thing I'll have to get over.
I got to meet briefly with one of the faculty members at School No. 2 who will be making the admissions decisions and expressed to her my interest in the program once again and tried to glean some information on my chances of acceptance. I left with no better idea than I came with though, so we'll see. I should know by mid-April.
School No. 3's audition went well for the most part, too. I was slightly thrown because of the space in which I had to audition and the fact that I wasn't really provided with any warm-up space for preparation. This audition was slightly different, too, in that the faculty wanted to see a scene rather than monologues like at the other schools. So I had to enlist the help of a friend to do the scene, burdening not only my own psyche with this anxiety but someone else's as well. I ended up getting wait-listed there. Better than a flat out rejection, and it's my third choice school anyway.
My audition for School No. 4 was last weekend. This by far was the most pleasant audition experience. The students who checked me in were extremely friendly and accommodating giving me a choice of warm-up rooms. There were at least six faculty in the audition room (more than any other school) and after I presented my monologues they did a very thorough interview. Each question was very thoughtful and almost every faculty member in the room had a question for me. I was called back the next day along with 20 other perspective students. They ran a very pleasant yet thorough call back process in which we were led in everything from voice and movement exercises to improv. I left there feeling like they had a good sense of who I am and what I can do. I can't imagine why I wouldn't be accepted there. But ya never know... It's my second choice school.
Anyway, that's it in a nutshell. For now I'm in wait-and-see mode. I'll keep you all abreast of any news. In the meantime thanks again for all your well wishes and support. It's nice to know there are folks out there in cyberspace pulling for me in addition to those here at home, too!
I love this commercial. First, because it pokes fun at the homophobia in men's sports. Second, because it sends the message that "there's no shame in soft skin" (read: homosexuality) and third, it's pretty hot.
I regret to report that homophobia is not restricted to just men's basketballbut has reared its ugly head at the women's college level as well. Penn State women's basketball coach Rene Portland (pictured here looking cranky in a strand of pearls) announced her resignationWednesday night after a 27 year career and a record of 606-236 amid allegations that she discriminated against lesbian players.
She was fined $10,000 for violating Penn State's anti-discrimination policy last year following complaints from a team member perceived to be gay who said Portland has a "no lesbians" policy. The player suffered much humiliation and was berated for not appearing feminine enough. In addition to being fined, Portland was ordered to take professional development courses "devoted to diversity and inclusiveness."
The news of Portland's homophobia sparked an on-campus demonstrationduring which students demanded she be fired. One protester stated "The Rene Portland case is about hate and discrimination. We have to speak out." Thank God for the next generation!
When you think about it, a women's basketball team without any lesbian players is like a Broadway musical without any gay chorus boys. Sure, it can be done but the show is gonna suck. That probably explains why Portland's record was 15-16 and 13-16 during her last two seasons at Penn State.
Begone, Portland, before somebody drops a house on you!
The "Priceless Idol Moment of the Week" belonged to the little Jan Brady lookalike who was moved to tears by the vocals of Sanjaya. During his solo the camera panned in to reveal a blubbering prepubescent girl not unlike those in the audience of the Ed Sullivan Show when the Beatles made their 1964 American television debut. And THAT ladies and gentleman is the one and only time you will ever hear me liken Sanjaya to the Beatles.
Anyway, here's some information via defamer.comabout the emotional young lady in question. She is 13 year old Ashley Ferl from Riverside, CA. Here's more:
"The family...obtained tickets on a website to attend a taping of "Smarter Than a 5th Grader" a day passage that included not just the taping of the show itself, but also the dress rehearsal of either "Grader" or "Idol." The fates were kind, and the mother and daughter found their way to the "Idol" rehearsal, where Ashley's waterworks began. Her prowess was quickly brought to the attention of "Idol" producers who summoned the clan to a ringside seat of honor at the final taping."
Last night I had the pleasure of watching American Idol from start to finish with Cara, one of my oldest friends in the world. We met doing a production of The King and I together when we were both 10 years old. We went to high school and college together, moved to New York at the same time and I even did the flowers for her wedding. We both have musical and theatrical backgrounds so we had a lot to say about Idol and each one of its contestants last night. Her husband quite wisely let us have the TV to ourselves excusing himself to his office likening our passion for Idol to that of his for hockey. "So this is like the equivalent of watching a hockey game for you two, right?" Yep. That's pretty much it. So on with the idol chat for this week.
The Best Girls: Melinda Doolittle, once again. Proving she can sing anything she chose another standard showtune "As Long As He Needs Me" from Oliver! Not exactly a British Invasion song but obviously no one cared. She sold the song both emotionally and vocally but a word of caution to Melinda: start picking more youthful pop songs. While the adults in the audience appreciate her sophisticated, polished performance, the demographic of 13 year old girls out there might grow weary of standard after standard each week. Lakisha also had a strong showing vocally. The girl could sing the phone book which is a good thing since her song choice "Diamonds Are Forever" is only one step above that. She should have listened to Lulu and sang "You Are My World." She might have taken top honors with that song. Honorable Mention: Jordin Sparks gave the two aforementioned divas a run for their money with her guts-on-the-floor version of "I Who Have Nothing." Also, she has that youthful pop star quality the other two are missing.
The Best Boys: Blake, Blake, Blake. His song "Time of the Season" was a brilliant choice to show off his beat-box skills. He manages to work that in every week without it being overkill. Plus, he has originality, musicianship and good vocal chops. Besides that, he's a born pop star. He looks like one and has the stage presence and sex appeal required for the job. He could go all the way. Chris Richardson, just because I think he's adorable. His vocals are just okay but who cares when you're that cute! Seriously though, that combination is enough to go quite far in the recording industry. Phil Stacey, once again delivers vocally and his alien-like looks didn't bother me that much this week. Maybe I'm just getting used to him. He has to stop holding his mic with his pinkie up, though. Girl, your slip is showing!
The Worst: It pains me to say it but Stephanie was a disappointment this week. "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" is a song which should have been a vocal and emotional showpiece but fell short in both areas. She backed off it emotionally and her pitch was off in a lot of places. Gina Glockstein: Great personality as always but a really poor song choice. It was too rangy for her and she was sharp on the bottom notes. Also, I think it's very hard for a woman to pull off a Mick Jagger song. And speaking of women singing Mick Jagger songs, Sanjayawas once again the bottom of the barrel for me. (Meow! I know.) Every one is saying how much improved he is this week, but that's because he chose to shout a lot of the lyrics (which you can get away with in that song) cleverly concealing the fact that he can't sing on pitch.
Who Should be Voted Off: Sanjaya! Who Will be Voted Off: Chris Sligh or Phil Stacey. Phil was in the bottom 3 last week and I don't think the audience knows what to do with Chris, although he probably has the best voice of all the boys.
Results: Stephanie Edwards gets the boot. It's a shame as she was one of the best singers on the show but failed to perform up to her full potential two weeks in a row. And we can thank votefortheworst.comfor keeping Sanjaya so comfortably in the running.
I first met Dave Brousseau, cartoonist and author of the episodic gay comic strip A Couple of Guys, when I was on tour in Louisville several years ago. At the time I was a chorus boy living in the Village on Christopher Street with my boyfriend and a Jack Russell Terrier. Coincidentally, Eric, one of the main characters created by Dave for the strip, is a chorus boy living in the Village on Christopher Street with his boyfriend--and a Jack Russell Terrier. Dave came up with the character before he ever met me, but when we did meet it seemed destined that we should become friends.
Since Dave lives in Louisville, KY and his strip takes place in New York's Greenwich Village he makes trips out here every so often to take pictures of the neighborhood to try and keep the strip as accurate and current as possible. His mutli-racial cast of characters represent the unique cross section of people drawn to Greenwich Village life, from a Black militant lesbian to a bi-curious teenage skater dude. A Couple of Guys has sometimes been described as the gay Archies but with wittier characters who deal with a range of topical issues that would be completely foreign to Jughead and the gang.
Once in a while Dave will consult with me about specifics of showbiz or most recently enlisting my help to snap some pictures of the Oscar Wilde Bookshopin which an upcoming strip takes place. During a visit to New York a few years ago Dave took some pictures of my current apartment which made it into the strip as the home of a sex crazed slutty bartender who bears NO RESEMBLANCE TO ME WHATSOEVER, Mom. I've never tended bar in my life!
A Couple of Guys appears in many gay publications around the country including the Dallas Voice, In Newsweekly (Boston), HotSpots! (South Florida), and The Letter (Louisville). Archives of A Couple of Guys can be found on Gmax and Planet Out. Check your local gay papers and see if they run A Couple of Guys. If they don't, contact the editors and tell them to! (They should contact Qsyndicate.com) You won't be sorry. Below is the strip featuring my apartment. Dave turned my dog into a cat, but that's my kitchen, my bathroom, exposed brick, etc. But don't worry, I got rid of those floral pillows a while ago. (Click image to enlarge.)
The Manhattan Mini-Storage Company likes to push the envelope with their ad campaigns. Last August they mounted a campaign that poked fun at both Queer Eye For the Straight Guy and Brokeback Mountain. There was some discussion about it on Joe.My.Godat the time. Not everyone was thrilled with the depiction of the "queer guy" (a pink polo and over-waxed eyebrows) but mostly it was in good fun.
Their most recent campaign popping up on the sides of phone booths and in subway cars pokes fun at the current presidential administration. The ads are funny but also shocking in a way (which I guess is the point). To mount this kind of campaign Manhattan Mini-Storage has to make a lot of assumptions. They have to assume that it is so safe to joke about the administration's incompetence and extreme conservative positions that people will actually reward them for it with their business. Considering their target market (Manhattanites) they are probably right. But I thought it was a sad sign of the times that our administration is so far out of touch with the American people that it's become a joke. But I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
Click on the images to enlarge. You will notice the file in the Bush ad reads "War Decisions" and the button the lapel in the Cheney ad reads "I 'heart' Haliburton."
Okay. Up till now I've spared you my obsession with certain reality shows. So far you have not had to endure my musings on which of the Amazing Race teams deserves to win and which play dirty. You have not been subjected to my fashion critiques of the creations by Project Runway contestants, but I simply can't keep quiet about American Idol and plan to do weekly recaps till the end of the season. I have chosen not to comment on the ridiculous audition episodes or even the top 24 because by May who even remembers all of them anyway.
First, let me explain why I like American Idol so much: It is a very thorough test of young talent. By the end of the competition the singers have had to prove themselves in a variety of popular genres from country to disco to standards. They have the rare and wonderful opportunity to work one on one with legends of the recording industry like Diana Ross from last night. It is entertainment that literally brings the whole family together. I can sit and discuss this show with my mother or my 13 year old niece. It fills the void of variety entertainment that was missing from television for many years. It's wholesome, those awful numbers they make the kids perform and the Ford commercials are downright adorable. It's like watching kids in a college production. I find the progress of each singer exciting to watch. Finally, the show has credibility. They have several Grammy awards, multi-platinum album sellers and even an Oscar winner among their alumni.
That said, for now I will limit my remarks to who I think were the top two (boy and girl) and my thoughts on who should be voted off and who will be voted off.
Top Female: Melinda Doolittle. The contestants were asked to choose a Diana Ross song and Melinda quite wisely chose "Home" from The Wiz, something with real dramatic meat to it that she could sell not only vocally but also emotionally. She delivered on every point with the poise and professionalism of a veteran performer. Brava!
Top Male: This was hard for me to say, but last night it was Phil Stacey. I think he is a perfect example of why not every balding guy should shave his head and I can't help conjure up images of Speedy the Spermwhen I look at him, but the boy does have chops. He can sing. He is far from my favorite of the boys, that would go to Blake (who did himself in with a weird arrangement) or Chris Richardson (who has to watch the whiny unsupported "Justin" sound which will not carry him through to the end) but the best voice of the boys is Chris Sligh who has an absolutely beautiful, God-given instrument but has a look that works against him.
Who Should Be Voted Off: Sanjaya! Oh God, please put this kid out of his misery! But Diana Ross provided some insight as to why he's still around. He's so pathetic he's actually lovable. He has had to endure harsh, sometimes cruel criticism from the judges while maintaining a smile and a good attitude and for that reason people call in to vote for him. There's one of these every year.
Who Will Be Voted Off: Brandon. He's not a bad singer but lacks stage presence. I find him extremely forgettable. He should have been out last week and Jared should have stayed in, but who can figure out the way people vote on this thing.
RESULTS: My predictions were correct. That's all I'm sayin'.
Gossip about American Idol host Ryan Seacrest's sexuality has been swirling around for almost as long as the show has been on the air. He's tried some desperate attempts at distancinng himself from the rumors like publicly mauling a pair of bleach blond female strippers and his much publicized "date" with Terri Hatcher last year where the two were caught on camera in a momentary kiss. But then Terri blew ol' Ryan's cover by essentially outing him on the David Letterman Show last year. Then there was this little exchange between Seacrest and Simon Cowell on tonight's American Idol:
Seacrest: (Referring to Melinda Doolittle's complaints of having to wear such high heels on the show) Simon, any advice on the high heels?
Simon: You should know Ryan.
Seacrest: Stay out of my closet!
Simon: COME OUT!
Yeah, Ryan, come out already! You're the host of a TV talent competition and a radio host, does anyone really care if you're gay? It's not like you're a sex symbol or anything. Gimme a break. "Seacrest Out" indeed!
With all the anti-gay rhetoric we've heard spewed over the last few months from the likes of Isaiah Washington, Tim Hardaway and Ann Coulter unfortunately there is one more name to add to the Homophobic Hall of Shame: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace who said regarding the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy this week "I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts."
Rep. Martin Meehan (D-MA)who has reintroduced legislation which would repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell had this to say: "General Pace's statements aren't in line with either the majority of the public or the military. He needs to recognize that support for overturning (the policy) is strong and growing (and that the military is) turning away good troops to enforce a costly policy of discrimination.''
And cowardly Republican Presidential front runner, Rudy Giulianiwho has historically been pro-gay rights issued this unfortunate statement: "We're at war and now isn't the time to question our military's admissions policy." Just in case you needed another reason to dislike Giuliani.
While it's hard to keep score of who is saying what or who is for and who is against these issues, at least there is discussion about them. And when fellow Republicans speak out against discriminatory statements and hate speech, that is real progress. So, Peter Pace, shame on you, but thanks for showing your true colors. It's nice to know not all the rank and file feel the same as you do.
UPDATE 3/14/07:From Former Senator Alan K. Simpson: "As a lifelong Republican who served in the Army in Germany, I believe it is critical that we review -- and overturn -- the ban on gay service in the military." There's only one thing wrong here though--the word "former" before the title of "Senator."
As I've mentioned before, I'm a fan of the ABC hit Ugly Betty. I am also a fan of Broadway legend Patti LuPone. So imagine my delight when I learned that Ms. Lupone will grace the cast of Ugly Betty with a guest appearance to air this Thursday night at 8PM Eastern. Yes, it's true. Patti and Betty--TOGETHER. A gay man's dream come to fruition hatched in the recesses of some brilliant casting director's twisted uber-homo mind, no doubt.
The episode is entitled "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Ms. LuPone will play the mother of Marc (Michael Urie), who is the assistant and "seeing-eye gay" to Willamina Slater (Vanessa Williams). Here's how the episode has been described:
"Marc, promising to help Betty with inside info for Daniel, convinces her to pretend to be his 'girlfriend' when his suspicious mom, Mrs. Weiner (LuPone), arrives in town. Things go from bad to worse when Mrs. Weiner invites herself to dinner at the Suarez home and Betty's whole family has to play along..."
Hilarity is sure to ensue! It always does, doesn't it? That wacky Betty always finds herself in a pickle! As if that weren't enough, Judith Light will also appear on the episode in her recurring role as Claire Meade, the drunk domineering matriarch of the Meade family.
But more than the sheer delight of Patti AND Betty AND Vanessa AND Judith Light appearing in the very same Ugly Betty episodeis the impact the rare phenomenon of Musical Theatre royalty colliding with campy TV has on a generation of gay youth. Years from now in a bar somewhere a group of gay men will be swapping stories about "when they knew" as gay men often do, you know. And no doubt one of them will say "I knew I was gay the night I saw Patti Lupone guest star on Ugly Betty!"to which his peers will exclaim "ME TOO!" If, perchance, you overhear them, offer to buy a round of drinks, sit them down and tell them the story of the night Ethel AND Carol AND Della AND Ann Miller all co-starred on an episode of The Love Boat. Our story goes on.
Allow me to introduce you to one of my friendly neighborhood characters: Mr. Crack. I haven't actually met Mr. Crack the person, just seen his van parked around my block. At first glance it's hard to tell if Mr. Crack is for or against drug use. After all Mr. Crack's white van could easily be mistaken for a kind of drug-dealing Good Humor truck. He proudly displays an American flag on the roof of the van complete with flashing lights. He also has what appears to be a PA system presumably to play enticing, tinkly Mr. Crack music alerting the children of the neighborhood to break open their piggy banks and scramble into the street. The boys pictured on the side of the van puffing their bongs blowing a big cloud spelling out Mr. Crack's name appear to be having a reasonably good time and depending on your point of view, the chains wrapped around them might indicate they're having a very good time.
On closer examination though, Mr. Crack is quite clearly against drug use. His van conveys a variety of anti-drug messages from the instructional "Kids tell your parents no drugs today" to the imploring "Save our babies." He draws a couple of worst-case-scenario conclusions such as "You smoke crack you will be homeless" and if you try drugs "you will be a slave." He throws in some good old fashioned American fear like "Drugs support terrorists" and for good measure "Support our troops." But above all, he appears to be selling a book and advises that every person read it.
You'll have to forgive me if it seems like I'm making fun. Mr. Crack's cause is noble, but his van cracks me up. (Click on the photo to enlarge for greater detail.)
You may have noticed much discussion on the comment section last night as to whether or not Republicans or Democrats truly have the interests of gay Americans at heart. As I said, I think the voting records of both parties speak for themselves, but just to be somewhat "fair and balanced" I'd like to report that perhaps there is hope for the future when hopefully gay rights will no longer be an issue.
Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, spoke out in a legislative committee against a measure that would have allowed Wyoming to deny recognition of gay marriages granted by other states or countries...Zwonitzer told the House Rules Committee on Feb. 22 that he needed to publicly oppose the measure -- even if it cost him his seat -- because he believed that was the right thing to do. He told the committee that gay rights were the civil rights struggle of his generation."I will tell my children that when this debate went on, I stood up for basic rights for people," he said.
Well, it's been quite a week for irony. Yes, indeed boys and girls. Let's see, where to begin? How about with one of my favorite people: Grey's Anatomy star, Isaiah Washington. Somehow, the NAACP has decided to honor Mr. Washingtonat this year's Image Awards for best actor in a Dramatic Series. Interesting. I had no idea the "image" the NAACP was trying to promote involved anti-gay epithets. If you click on the link for the Image Awards you will notice that the words "The ideals of civil and human rights" flash across the screen. If those ideals involve hate speech, I suggest the NAACP aim higher.
Next, we have Matt Sanchez of the US Marine Corp. who has been paraded around on all the conservative talk shows as the poor put-upon corporal who has been unjustly taunted for his service in Iraq by those ne'er-do-well radicals on the Columbia University campus where Sanchez, 36, is a junior. You can click hereto watch a clip of his tale of woe. Well, it seems our military hero has quite a past--in GAY PORN! Yes, bloggers like Joe.My.God. and Tom Bacchusfirst reported on the story yesterday. Sanchez also appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week where Ann Coulter made her now infamous "f*ggot" remarks. At the event Sanchez posed for photos along side such champions of family values like Newt Gingrich, among others. Sanchez, who also works as a New York City escort, uses the nomde porn Rod Majors. Ironically, one of his credits includes a compilation video titled Patriot Ass.
Finally, you may remember Andrew Giuliani as the annoying fat kid who stood next to the podium and made funny faces while his father, Rudolph Giuliani, made his inaugural mayoral address back in 1994. Now it seems that there is bad blood between father and son, and not over the funny faces. The younger Giuliani has statedthat he will not participate in his father's presidential campaign, placing higher priority on his golf game and says that he and his father have been estranged for quite some time. Rudolph attributes the tension to a strained relationship between his children and his current wife, Judith Nathan. Perhaps that tension originated when Mayor Giuliani tried to move Nathan, his then mistress, into Gracie Mansion with his children and wife, actress Donna Hanover, before the two were divorced. The city (and common decency) stepped in saying the move was inappropriate. Giuliani then moved from Gracie Mansion and into the home of some friends--a gay couple. Rudolph Giuliani hopes to become the Republican Presidential nominee, the party that claims to uphold conservative family values.
Well, well, well, it seems Ann Coulter's venomous remarks regarding John Edwards in which she used the word "f*ggot" have come back to bite her in her bony ass, or rather, the part of her that feels the most pain--her pocketbook. Three advertisers whose ads appeared on AnnCoulter.com (pardon me for not providing a link) have pulled their support for the trash-talking wench. This from CNN.com:
At least three major companies want their ads pulled from Ann Coulter's Web site, following customer complaints about the right-wing commentator referring to Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards as a "f*ggot."
The companies in question are Verizon, Sallie Mae and NetBank. Thanks guys, you did the right thing and by doing so are sending a message that this kind of hate speech is NOT okay anymore.
Update: This morning I read on Joe.My.God. that Coulter's column has been dropped by a Tennessee paper called the Mountain Press because of her now infamous "f*ggot" remarks at CPAC last week. Here's a link to their statement. How about that! Tennessee. A RED STATE! (Shout out to Traci and Bobby!)
Update II: More papers have reportedlydropped Coulter's syndicated column, among them The Oakland Press and Lancaster New Era who said "Lancaster County residents of whatever political view -- conservative, moderate, or liberal -- deserve intelligent discussion of issues. Ann Coulter no longer provides that."
My grad school audition went very well this past weekend. They seemed very pleased with my work that day. I've been invited to the campus to observe some of the classes in the program and have been assigned an MFA student liaison to contact with any questions and concerns. Does this mean I'm "being courted" by them? Hmmm.
The good news is I actually want to go to this school. We'll see. Please keep your fingers in the crossed position. Thank you.
Mercifully we haven't heard much from dragon lady Ann Coulter since the story broke about her committing voter fraudin Florida last year. However, it seems the miserable hag has crawled out from under her rock to spew more of her hate filled rhetoric at the Conservative Political Action Conference this week. By now you've undoubtedly heard her charming remarks regarding John Edwards saying:
"I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘f*ggot.’"
Here's a link to the videoof her saying it if you actually want to see her in action. Just don't look her in the eye while you watch lest you turn into stone. What is chilling is the audience's reaction to it. First they gasp, then break into applause as if to say "Did she really say that? I can't believe it. But ya know what? Edwards is kind of a f*ggot, and we HATE f*ggots! Yeah, GIVE IT UP FOR ANN COULTER--WOO HOO!!!" It's very, very creepy. All of the major Republican presidential candidates were on hand for the remarks with the exception of John McCain.
Quite wisely, three of the Republican presidential candidates respondedquickly to Coulter's remarks. Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Mitt Romney said: “It was an offensive remark. Governor Romney believes all people should be treated with dignity and respect." A spokesman for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told The New York Times Coulter's comments "were wildly inappropriate." Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said, "The comments were completely inappropriate and there should be no place for such name-calling in political debate." We're still waiting to hear from the other Republican nominees. Brownback, you out there? How about Huckabee? Bueller? Anyone?
This week my two year old nephew, Nate, learned a lesson in one of the values we hold dear in our family: rooting for the underdog. We are, after all, lifelong Democrats, champions of the working man and due to our proximity to New York growing up, die-hard Mets fans. Why Mets and not Yankees? That would be too easy. Where is the challenge in being a Yankee fan? Anyone can do that. No. We prefer to suffer, thank you very much. We’re also Italian Catholics, so there you go.
I’m not sure exactly how we came to be Mets fans. My mother grew up with only a mild interest in baseball and rooted for the Yankees (she was Presbyterian back then). My Dad, as a 10 year old Italian immigrant, moved to Brooklyn and was consequently indoctrinated as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. So perhaps it was out of respect for him that we chose to become Mets fans. After all, no self-respecting Dodgers fan could just turn around and start rooting for the Yankees, even after suffering the betrayal of the Brooklyn Dodgers moving to Los Angeles of all places. So, that left us with the Mets, an upstart new team from the1962 season.
Most likely though, it was probably my jock eldest sister who grew up to become a Sports Medicine doctor that is responsible for our allegiance to the Mets. In 1969, about the time my sister was old enough to understand what was going on in baseball, the Miracle Mets won the World Series turning her into a lifelong fan. Since we younger kids did what ever she said, our fate was sealed.
Like my mother, I had only a mild interest in baseball as a kid. I played Little League (badly) which didn’t exactly inspire me to follow any particular team religiously. But then, Lee Mazzilli (pictured below) joined the Mets in the late 70s.
That was it. I, too, became a rabid Mets fan. I even started collecting baseball cards hoping for more pictures of Lee with every pack of Topps bubble-gum trading cards I purchased. Besides, the "Mets," I learned, was short for "Metropolitans" which appealed to me for some reason. Probably because it sounds like a gay street gang.
Anyway, when my nephew Nate was born, my brother Peter had him in Mets garb from the time he came out of the womb. By the tender age of two, Nate was enjoying a regular male bonding ritual with his Dad: Wednesday night pizza and B-ball where the two of them would root for their beloved Mets. Earlier this week tickets went on sale for opening day and the pre-season subway series where the Mets will face their crosstown rivals, the dreaded Yankees. Peter and Nate donned their Mets finery just for the occasion. This was not for the actual series mind you, merely the ticket sales. My brother then had to explain to Nate that the series in question was not the World Series, for although the Mets had a great season last year, they didn’t make it that far. Nate did not take the news well.
My brother then had to sit Nate down and explain to him the hardships of defeat and the lesson that every Mets fan must learn sooner or later: That our team can’t always win but "there’s always next year." That losing builds character which will make us stronger in the end. That "you gotta believe" you can still win another time. Being born into a family of Mets fans doubtless this is the first of many times poor Nate is doomed to hear this pep talk. But learn it well, Nate, for someday you will have to teach it to your own son. (Pictured below: Nate's first pep talk.)
I received very sad news that Jay Harnick, the man who gave me my Actors Equity card and very first union job right out of college, died this weekat the age of 78. I was friendly with his son Aaron in college and knew their family a little. Jay was a very kind man and a true believer in fostering young talent. He gave so many kids I knew their first break. He dedicated his life to bringing educational theatre to young audiences through the company he founded, Theatreworks/USA, one of the oldest and most well respected children's theatres in the country.
Coincidentally, he lived around the corner from me here on the Upper West Side with his wife Barbara Barrie in the same apartment where they raised Aaron and his sister. My thoughts of course go out to Aaron and his mother. I'll try to keep Jay's spirit with me as I audition for yet another grad school acting program this weekend. Hopefully I'll get another break.
* "On the Side of the Angels" is a song from Fiorello! one of the many Broadway shows written by Jay's brother, lyricist Sheldon Harnick.
Well, as much as I'd like to believe that it was MY email that made the Cosi corporate big wigs reverse their decision regarding the Family Photo Album exhibit, apparently there was quite a rally outside the New Rochelle location yesterday at noon organized by the Empire State Pride Agenda that might have had a little more influence. Today on their website the Pride Agendais claiming victory saying:
We commend Cosi restaurants for re-evaluating its decision and deciding to adhere to the terms of it signed contract to keep the exhibit up for one month. We thank all of you who contacted Cosi corporate to let them know about your unhappiness with their initial decision and we thank our local partner, The LOFT (the LGBT community center of the lower Hudson Valley) for all the work they did turning out local supporters.
Cosi's Chief Marketing Officer is also quoted as saying that they realize that they "had done the right thing."
However, this sentiment is slightly different from the email I received from Cosi corporate last night in response to my initial complaint on the subject. They cite what amounts to a technicality as the reason they took the display down in the first place. Here' s what they told me:
Recently, one of Così's stores allowed artwork to be displayed without following its established policy and procedure for approval of such displays. Così allowed the artwork to remain on display for its debut showing Monday evening, but advised the display organizer that it would be removed the following day and could be resubmitted through the proper application process. After an expedited review of the application, a decision was made to permit the artwork to be displayed within Così's guidelines.
Hmm. Does anyone else see a discrepancy here? According to the Empire State Pride Agenda, it sounds like the correct contract was in place all along. But I guess it doesn't matter how or why the display was taken down and then put back up, just that it was put back up and will remain there in the New Rochelle Cosi till the end of the month. And operating on the theory that there is no such thing as bad publicity, this display will probably reach more people than if no flap had been made about it in the first place.
Just as the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy is being challenged once again and will likely be repealed, people are speculating as to whether it's the result of years of LGBT activism paying off or the military's current dire straits that will bring about the change. In the end does it matter? A generation from now when gay men and women are allowed to proudly serve their country without fear of dishonorable discharge simply for who they are will they know the reasons that brought about the change? Probably not. All they will know is that they can serve and that's all we really want, isn't it?