Wednesday, November 28, 2007

City Snapshot(s): The Street Where I Live

I took these photos about a month ago and filed them away to save for a rainy day post. It's not rainy here, but I thought I'd post them before the weather changes too much and the photos are no longer current. When I took these photos I was inspired by Matterday's 12 of 12 posts in which he can find beauty in the most common every day sights. (Matt credits Chad for his inspiration.) These are the sights I see every day on the street where I live.


Sunday, November 25, 2007


Thanksgiving this year was spent by the sea. My sister, Lisa, hosted in Asbury Park. It was a small affair since most of my siblings were with their in-laws. The weather was freakishly warm. We enjoyed wine and cheese on the front porch before dinner. Everything was perfect–in a Martha Stewart-y kind of way. This is ironic because Lisa isn’t exactly the Martha Stewart type, although she’s an excellent cook and even brined the turkey which is all the rage on the cooking shows this year, including Martha's. (So much safer than that deep-frying fad of a few years ago.) I made the apple pie and did the flowers for the table. I am the Martha Stewart type. So is my mother. But not in a controlling, obsessive way. In a make-your-own-pie-crust way. I, on the other hand, can be a little controlling and obsessive, but I’m working on it. ("Hello, my name is Michael and I’m a Martha Stewart junkie.")

All in all, it was a wonderful day. My sister may well have inherited future Thanksgiving duties with this performance, something my mother is all too happy to give up knowing it has passed into to capable hands.

The next day, fat from Thanksgiving dinner, I attended my 20th high school reunion. Sparing Scott the agony of such an event, I went with my friend Cara who I’ve been in close contact with since grade school. She was my Homecoming date Junior year, too. We also went to college together. I did the flowers for her wedding. You get the idea. We were invited by another friend, Andy, who I keep in touch with as well, for a glass of wine at his place before the big event. I needed it, too. I was a nervous wreck for some reason.

As is the case at these reunions, by and large the girls looked better than the boys. Not that I was judging or anything. It was fun and overwhelming all at the same time. It was interesting to look around the room at a sea of virtual strangers to see the occasional classmate who looks unchanged from high school. (Sons of bitches!) Thank God for friends like Cynthia who provided a familiar face and a break from the overwhelming intake of catching up with people’s lives over the last 20 years. I am always struck at things like this, and at smaller, impromptu college reunions, that there are certain people, like Stacey, who you haven’t seen in years but can pick up a conversation with as if no time had passed at all. The evening flew by. At midnight it felt as if we’d just arrived. There were still so many people left to talk to.

These two days provided a great deal of perspective for me to reflect and give thanks. I’m thankful for a wonderful family whom I wouldn’t dream of spending holidays away from. For parents who can sit at the dinner table with me and my boyfriend and my sister and her partner and feel proud and happy at the adults we have become. I’m thankful for friendships that go back 20, even 30 years that are still part of my life. I’m thankful for the people whose lives touched mine long ago who I will always remember fondly and who remember me the same way. Most of all, I’m thankful for the good health to enjoy it all.

Reunion pictures: Andy and Cynthia
Me, Cara and Stacey

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 22, 2007

City Snapshot: Thanksgiving Eve

A tradition on the Upper West Side on Thanksgiving eve is to watch the inflation of the balloons for the famous Macy's parade. Baracades are set up along 81st Street and Central Park West, where the parade route begins, for spectators to gawk, snap photos and watch these characters come to life. I'll admit they look a little gruesome face down under netting like this and Shreck and Mr. Potato head appear to be eating people in the crowd below, but I assure you no one was harmed here last night. I particularly like the shot of the parade workers enjoying a break for during what I'm sure is a very long night for them.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Leave Santa Alone!

For some reason the PC police have set their sights on Santa Claus this year much to the dismay and disappointment of children all over the world. First, there was the story out of Australia where Santas were forbidden from saying "Ho, ho, ho" because it might be offensive to women. Instead, Santas were instructed to say "Ha, ha, ha!" But why grown women who understand the adult meaning of the word "ho" would find themselves on Santa’s knee in a position to be offended in the first place is beyond me. (Perhaps it’s a cultural difference. Those madcap Aussies.) And secondly, isn’t Santa supposed to say "Ho, ho, ho"? It says so in all the books. And isn’t that laugh supposed to be accompanied by a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly?

Oh, and about that belly, Santa, the PC police also think you’re too fat. On the news last night I saw a story that perhaps Santa is sending the wrong message to children. After all, we have a childhood obesity epidemic in this country and apparently it’s all Santa’s fault. It has absolutely nothing to do with the example parents set for their children or the processed fast food being shoveled into our kids for convenience sake. NO. Santa’s the bad guy.

When interviewed by a reporter for this story, school children overwhelmingly favored an overweight Santa rather than a thin one. So it seems Mrs. Claus from the Rudolph special was right all those years ago when she said "Eat, Papa, eat! No one likes a skinny Santa." Imagine the disappointment of a child after waiting in line for hours at the mall for his big chance to tell Santa the one and only gift he wants most for Christmas and when he finally gets to the end of the line there’s a skinny guy there in a red suit who says "ha, ha, ha" and wants him to sit on his lap. That’s not Santa! That’s just some creepy old guy.

Can’t we just keep our twisted adult thoughts to ourselves? Must Santa suffer from our own loss of innocence? Santa isn’t a pimp. He doesn’t have any hos. He’s love and generosity and good cheer. He’s not heart disease and diabetes. He's magic and wonder and happiness. So, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus–he’s fat and he says ho, ho, ho! And may he "continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Locust Tree, A Haiku

Ev’ry Fall I wait
For this burst of gold color
Outside my window

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Don't Let This Happen to You

Today is the Great American Smokeout. I work in an office with four women who smoke like chimneys. In the workplace. Even though it's illegal. They got me an industrial strength air purifier but I'd rather they just not smoke. I am outnumbered. Thank God I'm off today.

Oh. Coincidentally, it's also National Bundt Cake Day. Enjoy.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Crazy Keyword Search

Okay, I haven't done one of these for a while, but someone in Mexico found my blog by Google searching "Patrick Dempsey is circumcised." No joke. It's odd this person should be directed here, for despite Dempsey's "dreaminess" I've never given the subject much thought.


Monday, November 12, 2007


As you probably know, the stagehands' union, I.A.T.S.E. Local 1, are on strike darkening many of Broadway's theaters. Today I picked up a flier from one of the strikers being handed out in front of the Palace Theater where Legally Blond is playing. The flier says:

We are Local One, the stagehands who work behind the scenes for all the shows on Broadway. We truly regret that there is no show.

Theatre owners and producers are demanding a 38% cut in our jobs and wages. They have built a $20 million fund to be used against us from the sale of theatre tickets to the public.

Broadway is a billion dollar industry and has never been more profitable than now.

Cuts in our jobs and wages will never result in a cut in ticket prices to benefit the public, but only an increase in the profits for producers.

Unlike the producers, we are not fighting for our second or third homes; we are fighting to keep the one that we have.

We ask for you understanding in our efforts to defend ourselves and protect our families.

The brothers and sisters of Local One, I.A.T.S.E.
As a union actor I have to support my fellow union members in this strike. These are the regular working stiffs who truly make the magic happen on stage every night. We actors wouldn't look or sound very good without them.

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 11, 2007

City Snapshot: Times Square Recruiting Station

For Veterans Day here's a city snapshot of the US Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Times Square. Such a station has existed on this spot since the end of World War II. Situated at the crossroads of the world, the Times Square Station has out recruited every other station in the country over the years and has also served as a target for many anti-war protests. The current station was redesigned in 1998 to include flashy neon siding to match the then "new" Times Square. Happy Veterans Day to all our veterans.

Labels: ,

Friday, November 09, 2007

What a Headache!

You may have noticed an absence of posts from October 31 to November 6. Just where was I? Well, I’ll tell you. During the last three or four weeks I’ve experienced a great deal or stressful personal and professional situations. I fought a constant dull headache right between my eyes the whole time chalking it up to stress. Once this turbulent period passed, I decided to be good to myself, get back to the gym and started working out with Jim, a dear friend and ex-boyfriend who also happens to be a personal trainer.

Last Thursday I woke up with the same dull headache so I figured I’d work it out at the gym. But following our session I ended up with the worst headache of my life. The WORST. I could barely walk down the street. So I hailed a cab and headed to my doctor’s office. Once inside , the doctor took my blood pressure: 185 over 120. "Okay Michael, I’m going to call 911." said the good doctor in his characteristically calm bedside manner. He stepped into the hallway for a minute then in ran his two on staff nurses who hooked me up to an IV in record time. I barely felt the stick of the needle. I called Scott who hurried to the doctor’s office and soon we were off in the back of an ambulance headed to the ER.

At the hospital they ran a battery of tests including a CT scan of my head which showed nothing extraordinary except sinusitis–probably the cause of my headache all those weeks. But still no explanation for the elevated blood pressure. They gave me some medication to lower it and while we waited for that to kick in, my temperature spiked to 102.4. They decided to admit me–to a private room in case it was meningitis. They took blood cultures, took care of the pain in my head and hooked me up to a heart monitor and high doses of mega-antibiotics. Within 24 hours I felt perfectly normal and healthy again, but they were not about to let me go anywhere.

Cutting to the chase, the blood cultures revealed bacteremia, a pneumococcal blood infection. Apparently this is some serious sh*t and can come out of nowhere. It’s the same infection that cut Muppets’ creator Jim Henson down in the prime of his life. So, I remained on high level IV antibiotics while in the hospital for a full 6 days and must continue to do so at home for another week.

The irony is that high blood-pressure is not normally associated with pneumococcal infection, but it’s what got me to the hospital. Endocarditis was ruled out as the source of the problem so it’s possible the sinusitis spread to my bloodstream causing the infection. My doctor says it’s one of those things we’ll never know for sure. Luckily it seems they were able to catch the bacteremia just as it was attacking therefore leaving me with virtually no ill affects. I felt pretty much fine and dandy the whole time I was hospitalized and still do.

So it seems I dodged a bullet. And I’m counting my blessings.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What Price Visibility?

Scene1: A tragically trendy salesman of diminutive stature wearing white framed eyeglasses and a pastel outfit holds up an equally diminutive sparkly evening bag, pinky extended, and says to his wide-eyed female customer something to the effect of "I have here a little piece of heaven that’s a great investment for any wardrobe." In barges a sensible, "regular" looking guy who advises our damsel, who apparently is unable to think for herself, that said evening bag will end up in the back of her closet in six months and instead she should invest her money in a "real" investment–his sensible mutual funds. Or something.

Scene 2: A hopelessly straight, schlub of a man is being dragged along by his stylish wife/girlfriend who, despite his indifference, asks his opinion on each item she selects in every store then chooses the opposite. While in a shoe store, she presents him with the choice of "wedge or espadrille" our clueless schlub unwittingly chooses "espadrille" to which the lady replies "oh really? ‘Cause I was thinking wedge." Cut to a salesman with obvious "gay face" who rolls his eyes in disgust, exposes all his teeth and hisses "wedge" in solidarity with our leading lady. By the third store, our dim-witted husband has caught on and decides to use reverse psychology and when presented with a choice of a new red or blue mobile phone tells his wife he likes the blue one, so naturally she chooses the red one for herself leaving him with the blue one, which he wanted all along. For in matters of real importance–say, technology–even this dim-witted boob knows how to get what he wants.

These are two commercials currently running on tv. The first for ING Direct investing, the second for T-Mobile. At last the GLBT community is being represented in advertising. But as who and as what? In both of these cases the gay men are minor characters and in order to instantly recognize them in a 30 second spot, they are reduced to stereotypes. Besides just looking the part, they are represented as vapid, shallow individuals having nothing of real importance to contribute to the situation except purses and shoes.--things that wouldn’t interest "real men" in the least. The first is also misogynistic in that it portrays the woman as completely clueless in matters of money. But at least she might be able to be talked into making a "sensible" investment. Our foppish salesclerk on the other hand–hopeless.

Tell me--am I just being a spoiled sport? Should we be happy to even have gay characters represented in advertising? Wasn’t it only a dozen years ago or so that advertisers would pull their ads from shows that dared deal with gay subject matter? Or is this the price we have to pay on our way to true visibility? I heard the phrase "pink face" coined recently. It’s a comparison to the racist, black-face minstrel show stereotypes of the 1920s and 30s. In essence, these effeminate salesclerks, decorators and hairdressers are the tap-dancing, watermelon eating black servant roles of the 1930s.

But what to do? Grin and bear it, thankful for any representation in the mainstream media? Or do we raise a stink? Would this make us too controversial to deal with thus dooming us to invisibility once again? Are there enough well-rounded gay characters, or better yet, actual gay men and women on television to counteract these negative images? And does that therefore make these stereotypes all in good fun–if there can be such a thing where stereotypes are concerned. What do you think?

Labels: , ,