There is enormous pressure on me lately to join Facebook. Truthfully, I've been avoiding the trend for a year now which seems requisite for actors these days. My friend Tom who teaches acting at a university claims it's a great way to keep up with his students. His students are undergrads. And honestly, I always thought Facebook was a place where teenage girls post pictures of their boyfriend du jour, destroy the reputations of other teenage girls and flaunt their popularity by how many "friends" they have. But apparently I'm wrong. The only two members of my graduate program who are not on Facebook are myself and our most senior member who is 57 years old. I'm starting to feel a little out of the loop on some things. In fact, our program itself even has its own Facebook page which I have never seen. But here's an example of why I'm hesitant to join:
A couple of months ago my friend Tom called me and said "Do you remember Steve So-and-So?" (not his real name). "Uh...yeah," says I. Steve So-and-So was a guy I dated for a month or two back in 1993 when Tom and I were roommates together in our first apartment in New York. "Well," says Tom, "He found me on Facebook and remembered I was your roommate...he says hi." Now you see--THAT'S why I don't want to join Facebook. I don't want to hear from Steve S0-and-So. Or anyone else from my past I just as soon not ever run into again. On top of that I hear it's highly addictive. I watched an episode of Bravo's Flipping Out where a guy got fired for checking his Facebook page 150 times in three hours. I don't need that kind of distraction right now. But I may just cave to the peer pressure. Stay tuned.
The news story rivaling the economy and the presidential race this weekend is the death of beloved Hollywood acting legend, Paul Newman. But Newman was exemplary in other roles in his life as well. As a husband his 50 year marriage to actress Joanne Woodward was proof positive that indeed a happy marriage could exist in Hollywood. As a father he shielded his 3 daughters from the spotlight choosing to raise his family in quiet Westport, Connecticut. As a philanthropist he established the Hole in the Wall camps for terminally ill children and of course the famous Newman's Own food products to fund the camps and various other charitable causes.
Newman has been described as an "actor's actor" and indeed he was. He trained at the Yale School of Drama and at the legendary Actor's Studio under Lee Strassberg along with such actors as Marlon Brando and Montgomery Cliff. We are lucky to have some of his early performances on film such as Sweet Bird of Youth and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof which serve as a snapshot to the state of the art of acting at a critical turning point in the craft as we know it. Newman went on to star in Butch Cassidyand theSundance Kid, The Sting and The Color of Money, for which he won an Oscar, among dozens of other films. He died of lung cancer at his home in Connecticut. He was 83.
I live not far from the Human Rights CampaignHeadquarters here in Washington. One of my instructors here at school told me that he was an intern many years ago for HRC back when their offices consisted of two rooms in an old building down near Eastern Market (then an unfashionable neighborhood) where space was so crowded they kept a file cabinet in the bathtub of the restroom. As you can see, they've come a long way. The HRC is one of the biggest gay rights lobbying groups in the country right now but they haven't lost some of their old grass roots ideas.
On one of my first weeks in town I passed a guy on a corner wearing a sandwich board. Yes, an old-time advertising sandwich board with the message "Human Rights Campaign Bake Sale! 1 Block. Vegan baked goods!"
At first I thought the idea was quaint. But then it also explains why they don't seem to have much power if this is one of their fundraising tactics. (Otherwise Don't Ask Don't Tell would have been repealed long ago!) And selling vegan baked goods? Yeah, ought to get the dough rolling in. (pun intended)
But I kid. I believe in the HRC and what they stand for. I haven't always been thrilled with the way they operate or some of the candidates they've endorsed in the past, but in the struggle for LGBT rights, every organization we have advocating for us is deeply needed and appreciated.
One of my classmates sent me this clip. Perhaps only the other Shakespeare geeks in my program will find this funny, but I thought I'd post it just to give you all a little insight into how I've been spending my days here. Enjoy.
My apartment in DC is only 3 and a half blocks from Dupont Circle, the big gay neighborhood down here. I'm even closer to Logan Circle which has begun eclipsing Dupont's gay reputation in recent years. The two neighborhoods are right next to each other and much like the West Village and Chelsea (or Chelsea and Hells Kitchen for that matter) once we came in and gentrified the neighborhood we priced ourselves out and had to move on to the next one.
Believe it or not, I did not choose the apartment based on the neighborhood (I didn't even know about Logan Circle at the time), I just got lucky. I have to say I really like living in a gay neighborhood again. There is a very nice sense of community here. It's a different feeling from the gay neighborhoods in New York which seem centered around gyms, bars and restaurants. Here there are still things like gay bookstores (Note Lambda Rising in the second photos) which have all but disappeared from New York. In addition to supplying specialized literature, Lambda Rising provides a brick and mortar meeting place for social and political activism. This being DC there are constant reminders of politics whether its the Human Rights Campaign gift shop or volunteers for the DNC or Greenpeace on every corner. Oh, and I never forget my earth-friendly reusable grocery bag down here. They give you the stink eye if they see you walking down the street with a plastic bag.
The photos above are a couple of boys in Dupont Circle, the stretch of Connecticut Avenue just north of the circle which includes Lambda Rising, and the fountain that graces the center of the circle. It's usually surrounded by people taking time to read a book, friends catching up or those just looking to get some sun.
The exterminator is coming today. NOT that I have roaches or pest problems of any kind, but the building as a matter of routine exterminates every apartment every few months whether you need it or not to prevent any "situations". So at 7:30 this morning, I got out the vacuum cleaner and began furiously vacuuming the apartment and tidying up the areas where I know he'll be spraying. Not only that, but I have wall to wall carpeting in this apartment and found myself making neat little vacuum patterns on the carpet which I was careful not to step on. Why? So the exterminator will be impressed with my vacuuming skills I guess. What's wrong with me? Never mind the fact that the types of apartments exterminators are used to seeing are those with pest problems and therefore probably not the tidiest of domiciles. I guess I didn't want to be mistaken for one of those.
Blame it on my mother (and on her mother for that matter.) I was told from the time I was a child that you should always leave your house in "dying order". I guess this means that if you drop dead and they go to clean out your house everyone will be impressed with what a good housekeeper you were and hopefully discuss it at your funeral. When we went on vacation a major housecleaning was always called for as well. Why? So that if someone breaks in the burglars shouldn't think we're a family of pigs. Also, it's nice to come home to a clean house.
Scott laughs at me when I extend this consideration to take-out delivery boys as well. I'll tidy up just what they can see from front door. Mind you, the rest of the apartment can be a complete disaster area, but the vista from the front door should be one of well ordered domesticity. I suppose I'd be the type to clean up for the cleaning lady, too, but then I've never had one so I don't know for sure. Can anyone out there relate?
I feel compelled to write a post after my first week of grad school. I'm not sure what to write exactly because there is so much to digest. It's like a total immersion course into acting. 9 to 5 everyday, an hour for lunch and then home to do homework. So much of the course is physical, too, so it's exhausting but at the same time, exhilarating. There are 16 of us. We range in age from 23 to 57. So, thank god, I'm not the oldest one in the class! In fact most are around my age. I have my first paper due Friday, which I wrote over the weekend and my first monologue today--TODAY. I feel ready though. I apologize for the slap-dash post here, and truthfully I'm still learning how to manage this schedule so I'm not sure how much time I'm going to have to blog, but check back periodically. I might surprise you.
Following the landfall of Hurricane Gustav mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, who was somehow re-elected after his somewhat dubious leadership through Katrina remarked that this storm was not as bad as Katrina. The storm was being described as "the mother of all storms" despite its male name. Nagin said "I wouldn't call it the mother of all storms, more like the mother-in-law or ugly sister."
There ya go! Insult every female member of the family! Congratulations on your misogynistic triple play, Ray! And he's a Democrat. Yikes.