Saturday, March 29, 2008

City Snapshot: Riverside Drive Overpass @ 125th St.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bill Clinton Should Just Shut Up

Okay, before anyone gets upset over this headline let me first say that I loved Bill Clinton as president. He presided over eight years of peace and prosperity. He is one of the great political minds of our time. His impeachment was unwarranted and the investigation into the Lewinsky affair was a witch-hunt and, yes, a vast right-wing conspiracy. Hillary was right.


His role in her campaign has shattered an illusion and leaves me with a lack of respect for the man. He has been disrespectful, undignified and dare I say, unpresidential. He runs the risk of ruining his already shaky legacy and diminishing Hillary's presidential hopes. I firmly believe that his inflammatory remarks in South Carolina caused Hillary to lose so many races on Super-Tuesday and were the deciding factor in my becoming an Obama supporter.

I have tried to keep from Hillary-bashing on here (apart from a little good-natured fun over some cheesy YouTube videos) and I'm not about to start now. But I think Bill-bashing is fair game with some of the things he's been saying. Now, I said nothing about his implied racist Jesse Jackson remarks, I didn't comment on his implication that Obama doesn't love his country and I let slide his arrogant defense of DOMA the other day, but for some reason this remark really got my goat:
"If a politician doesn't wanna get beat up, he shouldn't run for office...I don't give a riff about all this name-calling that's going on...I've heard them say all these things about [Hillary]. Apparently it's okay to say bad things about a girl."
WHAT??? Damn right it is! We should give Hillary a pass because she's a girl??? Excuse me, but is this 1895? Doesn't Hillary profess to be a feminist? Isn't she always talking about breaking the highest glass ceiling in the country? Now, if he was referring to sexist remarks he should have clarified that, but I'm not sure he's talking about that here. And didn't he just say that if a politician doesn't want to get beat up he, and he did say "he", shouldn't run for office?? And isn't a comment like this inherently condescending and sexist which ultimately diminishes his wife?

Hey, Bill. Shut up. You're not helping.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Idol Chat 2008 (Part 3)

Sadly, this proved to be another lack-lustre week on American Idol. The singers had to choose songs from the year they were born which made me feel incredibly old. Very few of the singers seemed to resonate with their material which made it hard to choose any stand-out performances. Also, this early in the competition the singers haven't really stepped up their game. They are just trying to make it to the next week. It's only after almost all of them have spent a week in the bottom three that you start to see who's in it to win. So, on with my top three and bottom three picks for the week:

Michael Johns "We are the Champions" Finally Michael lives up to his potentional. Perfect song choice. Great presence. He seemed like a star tonight. I'm so glad--I was beginning to worry about him.

David Cook "Billy Jean" David gets extra credit for taking a risk with a really wierd three quarter arrangement that I thought for sure was doomed when I first heard it. But he pulled it off. It was a really strong performance. I was impressed. I do find him smug and affected though which could be his demise in the end. And I'm really over the Valerie Cherish yoga bow.

Carly Smithson "Total Eclipse of the Heart" Great vocal. She's got a great stage presence but I could have used a little more commitment in this performance. Still, even Carly on a bad day ranks among the top three for me.

Jason Castro --I forget the name of the song because the performance was so forgettable. This kid has nothing to offer except a pretty face and a nice presence. But to quote what Simon always says: "it's a singing competition". He just doesn't have a good voice. It's weak and breathy. He's not a good vocalist.

Ramiele--"Alone" I believe Ramiele has a good voice, but she never seems to bring anything fresh or new to her performances. She seems to lack the sophistication that should accompany a mature sounding voice like hers. I know she was sick this week, but this just seemed like a lot of screaming to me. She probably over-rehearsed and wore herself out. I'm getting a little tired of her.

Kristy Lee Cook--"Proud to be an American" This was Kristy's best week by far, but she still ranks among the bottom three for me for the sole reason that she has serious pitch problems. There are moments that are absolutely agonizing to listen to. I give her credit for a brilliant song choice, though. She knows it's the country bloc that's keeping her in the competition and to use the anniversary of the war to manipulate the audience into voting for her was a wise strategic move.

Who I'd like to see go: Jason Castro. This one-trick pony has worn out his welcome with me. He will live to see another week though because he's precisely the kind of non-threatening pretty boy the 13 year-old girls voting out there love.

UPDATE:  Well, Chikezie is out.  I'm sorry to see him go because there is no denying he is a great vocalist.  He's also very likable.  But where I think Chikezie fell short was as a performer.  He came on like gangbusters a couple of weeks ago with a great arrangement, tried unsuccessfully to repeat it the following week, then changed gears with a rather old-fashioned R&B ballad this week.  He seemed to be searching for his niche but never quite found it.  


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Quadruplet Meme

So Gavin of Why Oh Why tagged me with this meme. I haven't done one of these in a long time so I guess I'm overdue. This tag came just in the nick of time because I couldn't think of anything else to blog about today. So here goes...

Four Jobs I Have Had In My Life
— Singing Waiter
— Florist
— Chorus Boy
— Gay Cliche

Four Movies I Would Watch/Have Watched Over And Over
— Gone With the Wind
— Bringing Up Baby
— From Here to Eternity
— The Sound of Music

Four Places I Have Lived
— Syracuse, NY
— New Jersey
— Christopher St.
— The Upper West Side

Four TV Shows That I Watch
--Designed to Sell (HGTV)
— American Idol
— The Office
— 30 Rock

Four Places I Have Visited
— Tuscany
— Paducah, KY
— Malaga, Spain (Gavin's been there, too)
— St. Petersburg, Russia

Four People Who Email Me Regularly
— Scott
—My Mom
—My Brother, the Obamaniac

Favorite Food
— Macaroni and Cheese
— Meatloaf
— cheesecake

Four Places I Would Like To Be Right Now
— The Beach
— Italy
— Hawaii
— home (I’m at work)

Four Things I Am Looking Forward To This Year
— The Beach
— Starting Grad School
— Getting into a gym routine and losing my winter fat (which you could have probably guessed by my favorite foods listed above. )
--A Democratic president! (Oh, please, God!)

And that's all folks--nothing too earth shattering, but maybe you found a surprise or two among my answers.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

It's Called Acting

This kind of stuff drives me nuts. NY Post Broadway columnist Michael Riedel questions whether Sean Hayes of Will and Grace fame is "virile" enough to play the male lead in a workshop production of Promises, Promises which may eventually move to Broadway. The question of why anyone would invest the millions of dollars required to produce a Broadway show into a revival of Promises, Promises not withstanding, Sean Hayes is, by profession, an actor. Jack McFarland was a character he played. He acted that role, just as he will act this role. Riedel's argument is based on the fact that Broadway veteran Jerry Orbach, who, as Brian Juergens of After Elton put it, "could crush buildings with his bare thighs", originated the role.

It is precisely musings like these in the press that keep gay actors in the closet. You won't hear these same reporters questions whether an actor is "white enough" or "too Jewish" for a role. Why the double standard? This kind of talk reinforces stereotypes and contributes to the toxic homophobic atmosphere that permeates our society.

By the way, before his role on Will and Grace, Sean Hayes made a career of doing commercial work playing roles like beleaguered husbands and beer-drinking sports fans.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Idol Chat 2008 (part 2)

Last night on American Idol the theme was expanded from Lennon and McCartney songs to the entire Beatles oeuvre. Clearly the producers of AI are satisfying their six year hunger for the song rights that were heretofore unattainable. While these are the standards of the rock era and an excellent test for any up and coming artist, week two of Beetles songs revealed the contestants' second-choices songs and which made for less exciting performances across the board.

As with last week here are my top and bottom 3:

TOP THREE David Archuleta--"The Long and Winding Road" After a shaky performance last week the wunderkindt was back in top form. I know there are some who are already suspect of his "aw shucks" humility, but to me it's sincere. This kid is a star. He has the voice of an angel. He picked the perfect song. His performance was simple, pure and vulnerable--exactly the right tone for the song. He was right on point throughout.
Carly Smithson--"Blackbird" She gave a great hard-rock performance of "Come Together" last week only to turn around and show a beautiful vulnerable side this week. She revealed a rich deep register that we had not heard before and still managed to find the height of the song as well. This was beautiful. I have a feeling this girl can sing anything. A consummate pro.
David Cook--"Day Tripper" I'm very surprised to be putting David Cook in the top three because I really don't like him. I find him smarmy and affected. I detested his interpretation of "Eleanor Rigby" last week for reasons I could write a thesis on, but this week I kinda liked him. He chose the perfect song and arrangement. I could have done without that weird voicebox thing and frankly, his guitar playing does him no favors. It ended up looking like an uncomfortable prop. But I thought he sounded good and he sold the song and the style well.

Kristy Lee Cook
--"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" This was painful. Her pitch is all over the place. She consistently sang the same wrong note through the entire song. Hopeless. She is beautiful though.
Michael Johns--"A Day in the Life" It pains me to put Michael Johns in the bottom three because I think he's really cute and pretty talented, but he chose the wrong song for the second week in a row. It's not worth it to cut a song like this down to a minute and a half. He has a habit of choosing songs that are sentimental to him but don't necessarily show him off very well. He claims to have a deep emotional connection to them, but it almost seems like those connections are too fresh or painful to reveal in a performance. He needs some distance from these songs and to revisit them in five years.
Jason Castro--"Michele Ma Belle" I guess Jason's beautiful performance of "Hallelujah" from a couple weeks ago was a fluke because he hasn't been able to deliver since. He gave a pretty bad performance last week and this week was even worse. Jason is the kind of guy who is very cute and charming but feels he doesn't need to do anything else. He seems to let his performances happen by chance, giving no thought to the lyrics or emotion of the song. He was boring. He didn't even sound good. He'll be around for a while thought because 12 year old girls think he's cute.

Kristy Lee Cook
Oh, please, God, put her out of her misery. The only reason she's lasted this long is because Danny Noriega and David Hernandez were too gay for prime time. But the party's over--it's time to go, Kristy.

UPDATE:  Sadly, one of the most unique contestants to ever appear on American Idol goes home tonight--Amanda Overmeier.  Unfortunately, she probably had a little too much edge for middle America.  They prefer a marginally talented bland Barbie doll--So Kristy Lee Cook lives to see another week.  Oy.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Italian Boys

It's no secret I'm not a fan of St. Patrick's Day. The whole thing just smacks of homophobia to me--at least here in New York it does anyway. In response I will do a completely homo-centric post featuring men who share my Italian heritage. Yes, they happen to be HGTV hotties, too. I have no life.

They are: Designer Frank Fontana of Design on a Dime, Carpenter Anthony Gilardi of Myles of Style and Carpenter/Electrician Marc "Sparky" Bartolomeo of Save My Bath. In addition to their good looks Gilardi and Bartolomeo have working class Boston and Brooklyn accents, respectively, making them even hotter.

Click here for photos from Sparky's "fitness model" days.


City Snapshot: Crocus, Riverside Park

After the weekend's tragic accident, the promise of Spring and new life:  crocuses in Riverside Park.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hazard: Crane Collapse

About a month ago the category for Glenn & Dave's weekly photo challenge was "Hazard". So I dutifully ran around town snapping photos of things that looked hazardous to me. On my way to work I took a photo of this crane precariously situated over 51st and Second Avenue. Today, that crane came crashing down, breaking in two, flattening a small 4 story apartment building and damaging two larger ones, in one case shearing off a corner of the building and the apartments it contained. This is yet another construction accident in what seems like a record number this year. This particular site was cited for nine safety violations in January. Nine. So far, four people are reported dead due to this accident and 17 injured, some seriously.

Scott and I first got word of the collapse from our friend, The Flaming Curmudgeon, who lives in the neighborhood and witnessed the commotion minutes after the fact as emergency vehicles arrived on the scene. Check out his blog for a first-hand account and some haunting photos.

Below is another shot of the construction site in the distance as it appeared on February 7th, just two blocks south of the one in the foreground. As far as I know, Plaza Construction had nothing to do with the site of the crane collapse.

Beware the Ides of March.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Three Reasons Not to Vote for Hillary Clinton

What is it about Hillary's Campaign that inspires such cringe-worthy youtube posts?

Seriously, I could not take four years of this.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Idol Chat 2008!

And so it begins! Another season of American Idol for me to review, dissect and speculate. With apologies to my non-Idol watching readers, I love this stuff so please indulge me. Anyway, let's launch into it, shall we?

The theme this week was Lennon and McCartney songs, a first-ever for American Idol. I believe till now the rights to many of those songs have been tied up in litigation or were being held hostage by Michael Jackson or some such non-sense. At any rate, it was long overdue and provided the contestants a wealth of excellent materials to choose from. All in all it made for an entertaining evening.

While the number of contestants remains high, I will restrict my comments to who I think are the top three and the bottom three of the night. That said, I was hard pressed to choose a top three despite the judges gushing that this is the most talented crop of singers on the show to date. True, I think the bar has been raised across the board, but I didn't find that there were three clear top contestants last night. But I'll take a stab at it:

Chikezie--I'm as surprised as anyone to be naming Chikezie as one of the top three. Frankly I thought he should have been ousted in favor or Danny Noriega last week. But, like Hillary Clinton on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, he finally found his voice. The arrangement of turning "She's a Woman" into a country tune, then taking off 180 degrees in the other direction as a hard-rock tune was quite a risk. It paid off in spades for him though as he managed to pull off the transition seamlessly.
Carly--The Irish lass sang "Come Together" an atypical Beatles tune with risky lyrics for primetime, but she breathed new life into it by committing to the hard-rock nature of it. Also, being a woman, she offers a new perspective on the song. Performed like a pro--one of the best of the night.
Amanda--Another class-A rocker chick singing "You Can't Do That". I put her in the top three by default--I felt she was only slightly better than the rest of the pack last night. She is unique, committed and interesting, but I want to start seeing more variety from her.

Syesha--"Got to Get You Into My Life" Perhaps it was because she was the first to perform on the new stage and all, but she seemed overwhelmed by the space. The arrangement was a watered down 70s variety show version of the song and the performance milquetoast. Unimpressive.
David Hernandez-- "She was Just 17". Poor David Hernandez has had a hell of a week with rumors swirling around about his gay-stripper past. (And they tried to make us believe he used to work in a pizza parlor!) That said, the poor boy was trying way too hard. There was no bite to the song. It was a cheesy, lame arrangement. Karoake.
Kristy Lee--"Eight Days a Week" Oy. This was bad. She took the suggestion to go country too literally. The song didn't quite work with this "Hee-Haw" arrangement and she spent a lot of the time fighting the old rhythms. Perhaps she deserves credit for taking a risk, but in this case it didn't pay off.
Who Should Go? Kristy Lee--definitely. She probably should have been gone already but her pretty face (and possibly a strong block of country enthusiasts) have kept her in the competition. But it's time to go.

UPDATE:  Well, my bottom three were spot on, but unfortunately David Hernandez is out. (No pun intended)  I think his exit from the show is a bit premature.  I suspect he was the victim of bad publicity.  Pity.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Geraldine Ferraro Loses Her Mind

Geraldine Ferraro made history in 1984 as the first woman to run for vice president. Not surprisingly, she is backing Hillary Clinton for president and apparently, losing her mind. This week she had this to say about Barack Obama's candidacy to a california newspaper:

"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

Hillary Clinton has wisely refuted the remarks.

UPDATE: Ferraro resigns from Hillary Clinton's finance committee.


St. Dina, the Martyr

One can hardly expect a political sex scandal to unfold these days without the press weighing in with Dina McGreevey, patron saint of wronged political wives. While I was very upset to learn of Elliot Spitzer's involvement with a prostitution ring, nothing can cheapen a political scandal like words of wisdom imparted by Mrs. McGreevey. Here are her profound thoughts on the plight of Spitzer's wife, Silda Spitzer:
I looked at her face and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, that was me just three years ago.’ I could see the pain in her eyes and I know what she’s feeling and empathize with her.
"Oh my gosh" indeed! I guess Dina McGreevey can rest assured that as long as politicians lead lewd double lives, she will have a calling. Of course any chance to hawk her lame book "Silent Partner" can't hurt either.

I actually attended part of her "reading" and book signing at Barnes & Noble when her book was released. (Yes, I admit it. I had to get a glimpse of her in person. Besides the Barnes & Noble is right around the corner from my house. I mean, seriously, not even a block--closer than the grocery store. I just stumbled in there on the way to buy coffee or something--I swear!) The readings at this Barnes & Noble happen to attract an over-educated, intellectual older crowd reflecting the neighborhood's Jewish roots. Anyway, I think Dina McGreevey's character can best be summed up by the three old biddies I overheard discussing her "reading" after the fact. Here's what they had to say:

(Read the following with over-educated, heavy New York accent. Think Ed Koch.)

Old Biddy 1: It makes you wonder how the two of them ever got together. (referring to ex-governor Jim McGreevey)
Old Biddy 2: Yeah--you get the impression she was just arm-candy or something.
Old Biddy 3: Yes. And she made several grammatical errors.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Finally--Some Good News

Longtime readers of my blog will remember that I made an unsuccessful bid for graduate school last year to get my MFA in Acting. In retrospect I did not research or apply for the right programs. Instead, I opted for programs that were close to home, figuring it didn't matter where I got my masters, as long as I got one. This plan ended up backfiring on me and I was forced to come up with a Plan B. That Plan B has come to fruition. Yes, dear readers, I have been keeping a secret from you. Since December I have been busily filing applications, working with my acting coach and quietly attending auditions for grad school. Finally, I am pleased to announce I have been accepted into two fine MFA Acting programs with another possible offer in the works from a third school.

These offers came all while the drama of my unpleasant work situation was playing out, and indeed, it was hard to let myself truly experience the joy of achieving my goal of graduate school. But now that it is in the past, the letters of complaint have been sent and it is up to the powers that be to rectify (or not ) the situation, I am able to concentrate on my wealth of graduate school choices at hand. I will post more specific information once I have it. Stay tuned.


Friday, March 07, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Ridiculous...

First of all, thanks to all of you who left such supportive comments on my last post. It meant a lot to know that others felt the same indignation over this that I did. My company is in the process of dealing with the situation and working to get "the offender" removed from his position. I'll let you know how it all turns out.

In the meantime here's a fun little quiz to lift everyone's spirits. Come on--everyone loves these things. I picked this up over at Bitter Cup of Joe--someone who definitely knows coffee. By the way, the results I got fit me TO A T! Enjoy.

You Are an Espresso

At your best, you are: straight shooting, ambitious, and energetic

At your worst, you are: anxious and high strung

You drink coffee when: anytime you're not sleeping

Your caffeine addiction level: high

What Kind of Coffee Are You?


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sticks and Stones

I apologize for being MIA. It’s been an intense, busy, emotional week. One of highs and lows, and it’s taken me this long to figure out what I wanted to say about it. Let me start with the low. I’ll follow up with the high later in the week, I promise. But for now, I need to post this.

Last Tuesday at work we had one of our regular industry networking events held at a venue we use about three or four times a year. We organize the event; provide exhibit tables for vendors, guest speakers, a buffet, etc. While the venue usually does an excellent job for us, there is one particular employee there, a manager, whose uncooperative, surly manner is always a test of our patience. Last week he was in rare form. He initiated several rude exchanges during set up. Nothing new really. But then, in front of my colleagues, some vendors and the catering staff, he dropped a bomb. Quite loudly and with the intent to embarrass me, this man called me "a queen.”

I was dumbstruck for a few agonizing seconds. Then I tried to fire back with threats of having him fired. I pointed out how many people were witness to his remark, but truly nothing I could think of could match his words. I felt helpless in the face of such ugly and blatant homophobia. I called his supervisor immediately and informed him of what happened. I could barely dial the phone I was shaking with such rage. There was still a lot of set up to be done for the event, but I could concentrate on nothing but the ugly word that polluted the air. The humiliation was unspeakable. With one word I was reduced to the lowest, basest, dehumanizing definition possible.

The guy was sent home on the spot and his boss apologized profusely for the altercation. He also explained that try as he might, this man’s job is “protected” and not much could be done to have him fired. He encouraged me to go over the management of the venue directly to the owner of the building. We’ve been following up at work with letters and some form of recourse, but honestly, the situation feels helpless.

What struck me afterward was how powerful and paralyzing the situation was. Usually, homophobia is just a feeling we gay people have. We can sense the eye-rolling and whispers behind our back, but often this homophobia go unvoiced. So we learn to develop a thick skin and look the other way. But this--this blatant, aggressive hatred is something else entirely. One word, and suddenly no matter how competent, accomplished, professional, smart, funny, or butch you think you are, it all goes away when someone’s ugliest thought is voiced. Intellectually I understand I shouldn’t give this man that kind of power. But it smacks of childhood taunts, of pain buried so deep and of shame I’ve been conditioned to feel. I couldn’t even tell my family about it and was too ashamed to post anything about it here though I could think of nothing else for days.

The reason I decided to post about this is to actively reject the shame. This shame is not mine. Giving in it to it allows the bigotry and hatred to win. I felt I had to expose the situation lest we forget how this ugliness still pervades our society—even in New York—and ruins lives every day. Truly, I have nothing to be ashamed. Nothing. The shame here lies with someone else.

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