Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Diva Who Sparked a Revolution

Whether it's Cher or Barbra, Bette or Madonna, every gay man has his favorite diva. Why? What is it about these women that touches gay men on some deeply personal level? My own hypothesis is that they represent the disenfranchised. First, they are women. Second, they don't conform to the ideals of conventional beauty. They often come from humble beginnings or highly dysfunctional families. They are criticized for how they dress, who they marry (or how often), how outlandish they act, how much they drink, what they look like or how fat they are. Yet in the face of society's harsh stares, these women manage rise from all the ugly unpleasantness of their lives and the world and somehow emerge nothing less than fabulous! We gay men can relate. We know it feels to be put down for how we act or what we wear, or who we love. Many of us want so desperately to shake the dust of the redneck towns we grew up in where we were never understood or appreciated and come out...well...fabulous!

Perhaps the mother of all gay men's divas is my personal favorite, Judy Garland. (Pictured above with her gay fans reaching out to her across the footlights of Carnegie Hall.) But Judy, who always sang of rainbows, was much more than a gay icon. It was her untimely death in 1969 that sparked the outrage at the Stonewall Inn 38 years ago today and changed history.

On June 22, 1969, Judy Garland was found dead in a hotel in London. Her body was sent home to New York where a funeral was planned at the Frank Campbell Funeral Home for June 27. Thousands of fans turned out lining the street for her funeral procession and memorials for her were planned at gay bars around the city. These bars had been the target of increasingly aggressive police raids that year. The establishments were being shut down and their owners and patrons arrested and humiliated. The Stonewall was one of the bars with a planned memorial for Judy. According to some witnesses, in the wee hours of June 28 while "Over the Rainbow" was playing on the juke box, plainclothes officers raided the Stonewall. At first it appeared to be a typical raid, some patrons were allowed to leave and the owners were arrested. But things turned ugly when a police wagon showed up and officers forced some drag queens and lesbians to get in. The crowd on the street was outraged and began attacking the police who locked themselves in the bar. The crowd then grew even more violent hurling bottles and bricks through the windows. More police arrived and the disturbance grew into a full scale riot.

The event at the Stonewall that night sparked three days of similar disturbances and protests on Christopher Street and by the end of July, 1969 the Gay Liberation Front was founded starting the modern gay rights movement.

The day of Judy's funeral was just not the day to go picking on the fags.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Pride--The Next Generation

My sister Diane, who lives in the West Village, spent Gay Pride day with her two year-old daughter, Charlotte (above, sporting tiara) at a neighborhood park. One of the reasons Diane and her husband Neal have chosen to raise their children in the city is for the exposure to the vast range of people and culture here. After reading my last post, Diane expressed in an email to me some of her thoughts about the changing face of Gay Pride, what it has become and what it means to her family:
I took Charlotte to the park on Bleecker Street. The whole time I was sitting there, I was thinking how vastly different the crowd (and spirit of things) felt from the first Pride Parade I went to in DC with (our sister) Lisa back in 1991, an event that was predominantly white, and VERY political...Charlotte had fun playing with kids who were visiting from all over the country with their parents for Pride -- which was really nice...These people were obviously so thrilled to be in NY for pride and their kids were excited to say why they were visiting New York. But the trash cans were overflowing and getting worse, and then there were roving bands of hot revelers who would hop the fence into the children's playground to cool themselves off under the sprinklers. As I was getting annoyed that Charlotte was being frightened by these people, I thought to myself "this is the Gay Pride Parade -- an incredibly important issue for you and your family. Let it go -- or are you just racist?" And then I thought, no, I just hate parades! That said, best moment of the day was when two queens, complete in grand matching pink gowns and tiaras, wandered into the playground to sit down for a bit. Charlotte LOVED them. She asked me "who's that?" and I told her they were royalty, that's why they were wearing crowns. She had the most awe-struck look on her face.

At least there's still someone left in New York who's impressed by drag queens.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Got Pride?

There has been a lot of talk lately on many of the blogs about whether New York City's Gay Pride celebration has run its course. Has it lost its importance? Many of the blogs site a New York Observer article cleverly titled Goodbye Mr. Chaps which examines the issue of the dwindling popularity of the Gay Pride Parade among white, affluent gay men in New York. While I question the reporter's choice to survey patrons of Chelsea's G Lounge, a bar that has always appealed to a very specific kind of elitist crowd (why not walk around the corner to Rawhide or down the street to Gym for a more accurate sampling?), he makes a point about a certain indifference among New Yorkers toward Gay Pride. And to a large extent it's true, I understand his point.

You see, we're lucky in New York. We live in one of the easiest cities in the world to be Gay. We're everywhere, in every neighborhood, we don't have to hide, we have laws protecting us. In a sense, we've achieved what those rioters at Stonewall wanted back in 1969. So, maybe our inclination to wave a flag is not quite as enthusiastic as it once was, simply because it doesn't need to be. Also, New Yorkers exhibit pride in different ways. When we can freely sit at a sidewalk cafe sharing a romantic dinner with our partner, or mix at a straight cocktail party or discuss our lifestyle freely with co-workers without fear of prejudice, are we not proud?

The article also goes on to say that the Pride Parade has become increasingly ethnic and that's what's keeping the rich, white gay folks away, essentially calling them racist. I'm not sure that's quite the reason. But could it possibly be that gay men and women in communities of color experience more prejudice than those in white mainstream culture do nowadays and therefore feel more of a need to come out and celebrate their Pride than their white counterparts? The parade was once almost exclusively white, but now the movement has spread to other communities. So isn't that a positive thing? New York Pride also attracts a huge tourist demographic. Gay men and women from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware or other places where they can't be as visible as we are lucky to be here in New York come out to express their Pride as well. For many of them, it's the only time of year they can really do so.

Also in his article, John Koblin waxes nostalgic about the days when the gay community had a unifying cause to bring us out to Pride. Another valid point. In the 70s and early 80s the Pride Parade was simply about visibility: We're here and we're not going away. After we established that, in the late 80s and 90s we had AIDS to unify us, once again, to make ourselves visible to a government who was ignoring the issue and later to march for those who were no longer here to do so. But due to major advancements in AIDS treatment and medications, thankfully, this cause is not quite as pressing as it once was for the gay community. So, our focus has shifted to another cause, that of gay marriage. The difference between this cause and the other two is that marriage is about assimilation, not visibility. We are now fighting to live our lives quietly and peacefully with the same legal rights as any other tax paying American. It's not about flag waving.

One other piece to this puzzle is that New Yorkers are curmudgeons. We have a parade for everything around here. If it's not St. Patrick's Day, it's the Puerto Rican Day Parade, Columbus Day or Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. To many New Yorkers parades mean crowds, noise, garbage and traffic jams. We're jaded. It's kind of our job. I'll admit I'm one of these New Yorkers. I usually plan to be out of town for Pride weekend. But I lived on Christopher Street for 7 years in the 90s. I hosted the brunches, had people hanging off my fire escape to watch the parade and even did the Pier Dance. In a sense I feel like I've done my Pride thing.

Now I choose to go to New Jersey's Pride Parade in Asbury Park. There's a fledgling gay community still taking shape there. In a sense I feel they need the support more than New York. Gay Pride is still about visibility there. Also, I was lucky enough to attend the True Colors concert with Cyndi Lauper at Radio City this week. The event benefits the Human Rights Campaign, and therefore I feel like my support there is going to a group who will further LGBT causes (although I've had some issues with the HRC's actions in the past.) There was a tremendous sense of community pride at the concert that night, one I haven't felt in years at the Gay Pride Parade. So the point is there are many, many ways to celebrate gay pride these days. We don't all necessarily need a brass band. Or go-go boys.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Italy, The Last Post (I swear)

My last full day in Italy we visited the neighboring village of Montefegatesi, where my paternal grandfather is from. It's another remote hill top village. As in Coreglia, the cemetery is full of our family names going back hundreds of years. This is a kind of a bizarre phenomenon. As an American we just don't have the same sense of history as Italians where the village church was built in the 12th century and homes are built into the surrounding medieval walls. My father spent his childhood between these two villages, shuttling back and forth, usually on foot, to find safety from the war raging around him and his family. He has many stories to tell of a life that is so foreign and unfathomable to me. By the age of six he knew difference between British and American spent shells, and like the other boys in town, collected them. He and his friends fashioned toys out of left over or discarded military supplies from the armies passing through. These are his earliest memories and yet he still loves this place, and has shared that love with his children.

Almost all of the land and houses in the family have been sold off over the years, most going to finance the family's new life in America. But looking out over the garden wall of La Penna across the breathtaking view of this valley in the Garfagnana section of Tuscany at a tract of land once owned by my great grandfather, I can't help but feel a gravitational pull. There is a sense of being part of something bigger than myself. Of being part of the 1000 year old soil under my feet where my ancestors toiled, ate, laughed and worked. There is a sense that this is where I belong. Almost like being returned to my natural habitat. I'm not going to pick up and move mind you, but there was talk of the family maybe buying back something in one of these villages, a tract of land or a little house in the old country. Imagine that.

Below are photos of my ancestral villages of Coreglia (above) and Montefatesi (below).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Italy, Day 10

The day after we returned from Rome, Scott and I took it easy. After three days at a break-neck pace seeing all the sights in Rome, we were tired. We slept late, did some laundry and in the afternoon headed to Pisa with my parents to pick up my sister who would be arriving at the airport later that day. Pisa is a lovely city but there's really only one major sight to see there and that is the famous Leaning Tower. The tower is actually part of a composition of three buildings begun in 1173. The Cathedral, bell tower and baptistery make up a beautifully harmonious assemblage of structures on the emerald green grass of the Campo dei Meracoli (Field of Miracles). The leaning tower aside, the buildings themselves have much architectural importance. The cathedral is a beautiful example of Romanesque architecture with a beautiful interior and a pulpit carved by Pisano. The baptistery, modeled after a Pope's hat has perfect acoustics inside. And the tower--well--leans, although originally not on purpose. The tower has now been reinforced to keep it from toppling over, but also to maintain it's signature lean. Below are some pictures.

Below are photos of Pisa's Cathedral, Leaning Tower and Baptistery.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Roman Holiday (Italy Day Six thru Nine)

Day Six in Italy, Scott and I decided to give my weary parents a break from driving us around sightseeing. It's not just that the parking in these old cities can be a nightmare, but these treacherous mountain switchback roads, crazy Italian drivers who will gladly risk a head on collision around a blind corner just to get ahead of you and a double line down the center of the road is merely a suggestion and not a law, makes driving very stressful. So we decided to take the train into Florence from Lucca to visit some of the sights we missed including the interior of the Palazzo Vecchio and more of Santa Croce as well as doing some shopping which gave me a chance to practice my phrase book Italian. We had a great day and it was good practice for our train ride down to Rome where we spent three days together exploring the city.

We stayed in a strictly no-frills hotel in a gritty neighborhood near the train station. But it was clean, comfortable and cool, each room coming with its own air conditioner--a rarity in Italy. Like many of the businesses in Italy, the hotel is family owned and operated. The older couple who runs it speaks no English, but we managed to communicate anyway. Luckily I can understand a bit of Italian and could express myself adequately enough to get by. For example when we walked in to check in, the husband yelled up the stairs to his wife who was cleaning rooms as to which one was ready. She yelled down to him and then he led us up the stairs to our room. The lady's tone changed immediately when she saw us, suddenly becoming the gracious hostess and then began apologizing in Italian and yelling at her husband when she saw we were two men because the beds were not "separato." I assured her it was "non problema" which gave her a chuckle and that was that. After we got settled in, we left with the tourist map the husband had given us with all major sights circled and the best routes to take penciled in and headed for the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. We even managed to toss three coins in the Trevi Fountain before sitting down to a late dinner.

On Wednesday, we decided to dedicate the entire day to seeing the Vatican. We also vowed to conquer the subway system after coming home with aching feet the night before. The system was easily navigable (only two lines) and we zipped up to the Vatican in no time. The Pope happened to be saying mass in Saint Peter's Square when we arrived, but don't worry, I dropped Dave's name to illPapi57, and we got right passed the guards. (By the way Dave, he still feels really bad about the lousy job he did covering your blog, he told me to make sure you knew that--again.) Anyway, we toured the Vatican museums which contain an inordinate number of naked male statues and paintings---WAY more than female ones--that's all I'm sayin'. And of course the tour culminates with Michelangelo's masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel. It's been cleaned since I saw it last and is truly more magnificent than ever. The figures appear to float in the air. It's truly inspirational. Later we toured St. Peter's Basilica in all its grandeur, marveling at Michelangerlo's dome and Pieta. We ended the day there with a gelato outside the Vatican gates and took the subway back to the hotel where we crashed before dinner.

Our third day in Rome there were still a few sights left to see before catching our 4:00 PM train back to Tuscany. Now masters of the Roman subway system, we made our way to the Pantheon, Spanish Steps and the Piazza Novana. We also made one more visit to the Forum so we could actually walk around in it. The first day we were there we arrived after 6 PM when
the sight closes. We snapped pictures, read the guidebook to fill us in on what we were seeing and then made a mad dash to pick up our bags at the hotel and catch our train. We cut it close though and had to run all the way to the very last track where our train was leaving from and collapsed for the ride home. All in all, we covered a lot of ground in Rome and I'm glad I was able to share it with Scott.

Below are pictures of the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Roman Forum, the Vatican Dome from the Tiber River, the interior of St. Pater's Basilica featuring Bernini's Baroque canopy beneath Michelangelo's dome and finally the Pantheon.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Pace Yourself

Pardon the flurry of posts from Italy. It’s hard to find time to sit at an internet café and write posts when there is so much of Italy to see, so I’m posting days one through five all at the same time. Scroll down and start with Day 1. Enjoy the photos and take your time reading the posts. I probably won’t find time to post again for another four days or so. Enjoy!


Italy Day Four (and Five)

Day four we spent touring the Tuscan countryside south of Florence into the Chianti region stopping in Siena, San Gimignano and a storybook town called Monteriggioni on the way.

Siena is truly one of my favorite cities in Italy. Despite being just below Florence as a "must see" in Tuscany in all the guide books, it never seems crowded or overrun with tourist. We wandered into town soaking in the atmosphere of the medieval architecture and into Il Campo, the largest Piazza in town where we had lunch. This is also the spot where Siena hosts its annual Palio, a raucous horse race between the nine districts in town. The entire city is decked out with banners and finery and residents dress in period medieval costume.

Siena also has one of the most beautiful Duomos in all of Italy. The work of Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, the cathedral features a combination of Romanesque and Gothic architecture and houses some of the great art masterpieces of Italian art from the 13th to the 16th centuries including Nicola Pisano’s pulpit, Bernini’s chapel of the Blessed Virgin and Donatello’s baptismal font.

On our way to San Gimignano we stopped off in the idyllic village of Monteriggioni. We only spent an hour there as the town is so small you could plunk it down in the middle of New York City and it would scarcely take up on city block. It is completely enclosed by medieval walls and until the 1960s housed a co-op of farmers who grew mostly grapes, this being the Chianti region. These days the main industry in town is tourism which benefits greatly from the town’s convenient access just off the Autostrade.

We finally ended up in San Gimignano which also possesses the classic storybook charm of the previous two cities. Most known for it’s medieval towers, San Gimignano once housed roughly 70 such structures, but only 13 survive today. Still, they make an impressive skyline over the Tuscan countryside from its hilltop perch affording visitors views the stuff that fills guidebooks and Tuscany calendars. After taking in the atmosphere of the city we had a delicious meal featuring classic Tuscan dishes like Tagliatelle Ciangiale, Ribolita, and a variety local cheeses and salume all accompanied by the fabulous wine of the region. Before we hit the road we stopped in Piazza Cisterna for one more gelato, supposedly the best in all of Italy according to a contest they won. It was pretty damn good.

Below are photos of Il Camp and the Duomo in Siena. The walled village of Monteriggioni and one of the many quaint residences there. Finally, some of the many towers of San Gimignano and the beautiful Tuscan countryside surrounding it.

Day five, Sunday, we rested. We ate, sat by the pool, read and I worked on these posts.


Italy Day Three

On day three, we woke up above the clouds. This was the view from our window as we opened the shutters that morning. The next photo is of the mist just over the garden wall.

After this spectacular show we headed to Florence to take in some of the major sights. It was particularly fun to do this with Scott who had never seen Florence before. We managed to park right on the river which provided us with a view of the Ponte Vecchio as we walked along the Arno into town–a perfect introduction to the city. From there we went to the Duomo featuring Brunelleschi’s legendary dome. I insisted Scott climb to the top of it since the view from there is unmatched anywhere in Florence. Even though I’m deathly afraid of heights, I optimistically volunteered to go along with him. I chickened out half way up, however, and the first opportunity I had to head back down I took, my heart rate accelerating all the way accompanied by a cold sweat. What we do for love. From there we went to Santa Croce to see the tombs of anyone who is anybody from Italian culture from the Renaissance through the present day including Galileo, Michelangelo and Rossini.

After that we went to the Accademia which houses Michelangelo’s masterpiece, David. It is truly one of the great inspirational pieces of art in the world. The affect is just as stunning no matter how many times you see it. I remember literally gasping as I rounded the corner the first time I saw it and this time I got chills as I beheld it under the skylight from the end of the gallery. My father on the other hand thought David could use a cleaning. I don’t know. He didn’t look dirty to me. Well–no more than usual anyway.

We followed our trip to the Accademia with a walk through the Piazza Signoria where the original David stood (a copy is there now) as well as the famous fountain of Neptune and statues of Hercules and the Rape of the Sabine Women. It was here I annoyed Scott by singing selections from The Light in the Piazza. We strolled past the Palazzo Vechio and through the Ufizzi courtyard. We were all so tired at this point we practically crawled back to the car. We stopped for one more view of Florence from the Piazzalle Michelangelo which sits in the hills above the city. Again, a perfect "arrividerci" to this beautiful city.

Below are pictures of David, the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza Signoria.


Italy Day Two

Our first sightseeing trip was into the town of Lucca which is the closest city to my father’s village. It boasts one of the only completely in tact fortified city walls left in Europe dating from the Renaissance period. The city itself however dates from long before that. The Romans set up an ancient city here and in fact some of the city still follows the old Roman plans. We had lunch in Piazza dell’Anfiteatro (Amphitheater Square) which was once the site of a Roman Amphitheater. We then toured a couple of Lucca’s more famous sites, the Church of San Michele and the Duomo of San Martino before having a gelato and a couple of macchiatos. This gave us just enough energy to climb to the top of Torre Guinigi, one of a few medieval towers left in the city. At one time Lucca’s skyline was dominated by such towers. Just as rich men of today buy fancy cars, rich men of medieval times and the Renaissance built towers to prove how important they were. Exactly what these towers were built to compensate for is left to speculation, but let’s just say some things never change. In any event, Guinigi was one such man and his tower, which has a rooftop garden of sorts where trees are planted, affords one a spectacular view of old Lucca with its surrounding walls.

Espeically for LSL who loves Lucca, below are pictures of Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, San Michele’s wedding cake facade and a view the Duomo of San Martino from atop Guinigi’s tower.


Italy 2007 Day One

I left for Italy from JFK Tuesday evening and landed in Milan on Wednesday morning. From there I was supposed to catch a short connecting flight to Pisa where I would be met by my parents. Because of technicalities with frequent flyer miles and work schedules, Scott and I did not take the same flight. As it turned out, my flight to Pisa was cancelled and I was booked on the next flight which was five hours later. So, I spent the bulk of day one in the Milan airport. When I finally arrived in Pisa, Scott, my parents and I all piled into the rented Renault and headed for Coreglia, my father’s hometown in Tuscany.

We’re staying at Villa La Penna, a three story house with breathtaking views, a beautiful garden and a pool. It’s like something out of a Merchant Ivory film. One could not ask for a more beautiful vacation setting. The place is owned and run by a gay couple, Leonardo and Leonardo, or gli Leonardi as we call them (The Leonardo’s) in Italian. My sister discovered the place last year and somehow managed to find the only two gay men in this hilltop village. They are of the Martha Stewart variety. The house has been painstakingly renovated, painted, furnished and landscaped mainly by one of gli Leonardi who is also a furniture restorer trained in Florence. The place is full of antiques typical of the region, some which have been in the house for a 100 years. Gli Leonardi are very friendly and happy to have people enjoying their beautiful villa. Unfortunately they don’t speak any English so communication without my father as interpreter is challenging. Nevertheless, they have been nothing but gracious and accommodating since our arrival last week.

Below are pictures of La Penna’s front door, the garden with its breathtaking view and pool just outside our bedroom window.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Look to the Rainbow

Before I leave for Italy later today, I thought I'd leave you with one last image of Pride. It's the Pride fountain featuring a real rainbow. Kelly at Rambling Along in Life with a Stern Point of View has started a yearly tradition, the Celebrate Diversity Pride Challenge. He posts a rainbow image during pride and asks as many other bloggers as he can to post the picture on their site as a celebration of our diversity, solidarity, visibility and pride. So here ya go, Kelly. How can I say no to a guy who's got no pants on in his profile pic?

I'll try to keep the posts coming while I'm away on vacation, but I'm not sure what my wifi options will be where I'm staying, etc. Anyway, stay tuned! Ciao!

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Images of Pride

This past Sunday I was down in Asbury Park, NJ for the New Jersey Gay Pride Parade. Once the crown jewel of the Jersey Shore, Asbury Park fell on hard times following race riots in the 70 and corrupt local government in the 80s. Finally, around 2000, gay men and women being priced out of trendy Fire Island and the Hamptons discovered the potential of this charming seaside town and have begun turning it around. Every year I go back more and more glorious old Victorian and Craftsmen homes are being painted, renovated and spruced up. I love driving down the wide tree-lined avenues past house after house with rainbow flags hanging out front.

Unfortunately, it was a gray day for Pride this year but the rain held off till after the parade. Below are some snapshots featuring representatives from Asbury Park, a burly biker bear, the Argentina/Uruguay LGBT Group float featuring who else? A drag queen dressed as Eva Peron. Next is New Jersey Leather Pride, followed by the Bus for Change featuring gay-friendly political candidates and finally the cast and crew of a local production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Barbershop Banter

I've been on the hunt for a new regular barber shop ever since Richard, my barber of 10 years, seems to have disappeared from the shop I normally frequent. In fact, most of the barbers I knew from there seem to have flown the coop over the past six months or so. I recently heard through the grapevine that Richard and a couple of the other guys have opened their own shop but due to some top-secret hair dressing confidentiality agreement, no one can tell me where it is. So my search continues. But if anyone knows where Richard from Free Time Haircutters on Christopher Street is, please let me know! But I digress...

The other day I tried out a new shop with the fussy name of Mr. Joseph's on Greenwich Avenue between Chirstopher and 10th Street. I was attracted to the shop because of the kind of youngish, cute but not overly stylish guys who work there. They also had quite a few men waiting for haircuts which is always a good sign, too. The three barbers all appeared to be Eastern European immigrants, Romanian perhaps, one of whom is the present owner of Mr. Joseph's, but not actually Mr. Joseph. While Franco was cutting my hair, in a walked an older gentleman; a regular who probably knew the original Mr. Joseph some 40 years ago judging from the sign out front. He was a gruff but good natured fellow with a lot of coarse wavy grey hair. He plopped himself down in the barber chair next to mine and began the typical barber shop banter of women and sports as he was getting his hair cut. Somehow the subject of age came up.

"Ya know what I heard today?" said the old-timer, "Joe Namath turned 64! Can ya believe it?" The foreign barbers were nonplussed. "Ya know who Joe Namath is, right?" The barbers admitted they did not.

"He was only the greatest quarterback the New York Jets ever had!" said Mr. Old-Timer in a beautifully pure working-class New York accent. "Predicted they'd win the Super Bowl when no one believed it."

"That's right, he won the '69 Super Bowl," I piped in wondering where the hell I pulled that fact from. I must have heard it on Jeopardy. I'm not sure why I felt compelled to participate in the conversation except in an effort to educate our cute foreign friends.

"Yep! He was a character--used to stand on the sidelines wearin' a fur coat!" the old guy added with a chuckle.

"Broadway Joe they used to call him," I said, still wondering what phantom sports nut was possessing me, causing me to blurt out 40 year old sports trivia.

"That's right, Broadway Joe!" Said the old guy.

I decided to leave it at that thinking it best not to mention that the image of Joe Namath I'm most familiar with is his pantyhose commercial.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Too Much Information

When Google Earth first launched I was a little shocked at the stunning clarity of the images and details of landmarks, buildings and businesses that could so effortlessly be accessed by anyone with a computer and a cable modem. Recently I've read on a couple of other blogs that I'm not alone in my concern that this information can easily be seen by just about anyone.

So, it was only a matter of time before we read something like this:
Four men have been charged with conspiring to blow up jet fuel supply tanks and pipelines at John F. Kennedy International Airport...Officials said the "defendants obtained satellite photographs of JFK airport and its facilities from the Internet and traveled frequently among the United States, Guyana and Trinidad to discuss their plans and solicit the financial and technical assistance of others."
Well who didn't see that one coming?

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Musical Moments--Anything Goes

Anything Goes is one of the most successful Broadway musicals of the 1930s. It originally starred Ethel Merman and features an absolutely cracker-jack score by Cole Porter which includes such hits as "You're the Top," "It's De-Lovely," "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" and of course the title song. Although the book has been revised and updated for the movie versions and revivals over the years, it has always managed to retain the screwball comedy feel of the original book writers, Lindsay and Crouse.

This clip is from the 1987 Lincoln Center revival which starred the incomparable Patti LuPone and the dreamy Howard McGillan (whom you can see at the very end of this number). I was in college at the time studying musical theatre when I saw this production no less than THREE TIMES. I can safely say I learned as much from watching those three performances as I did in four years of college. Ms. LuPone's performance in this role has become Broadway legend. She was that good.

Anyway, enjoy this clip of the Act 1 closer which the cast performed at the Tony Awards that year. Incidentally the conductor's arms you see waving around in the foreground belong to my friend Eddie Straus who was the musical director of that production. I didn't know him at the time though. But enough about me--watch the clip!

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