Friday, December 30, 2005

Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re

I hadn't put much thought into anything special for the final post of 2005.

Foremost on my mind is that today is the last day Laura Frakes will be the head librarian at the West Hollywood branch of the LA County Library.

If this town had any sense, they'd honor Laura as the Grand Marshall in next year's pride parade (better late than never). That's just the type of accolade that she'd never seek for herself, though she deserves that and more.

One expects as a matter of course for a librarian to be able to assist with the most challenging of research requests. It would be natural for a librarian to be a champion of the written word, a surrogate teacher to the legion of students that depend upon her. Then there is the ever evolving technology that is as promising as it is challenging to stay abreast of and formidable to operate and maintain.

Then there are the unique situations that occur with such frequency in this community that require ingenuity to navigate, along with the incredibly diverse populations to serve.

Laura has made the West Hollywood Library a sanctuary during a most uncertain period for me particularly. She has safeguarded and nurtured the special collections at the WeHo Library with vision and enthusiasm.

And West Hollywood can't be discussed without mention of the sanity challenged and sensitivity deficient. Many a time, I've seen Laura diffuse a potentially volatile situation stoically with diplomacy and tact.

With creativity and good humor, Laura has moved the West Hollywood Library into a model institution whose special collections have served as a prototype for many other facilities. She has been the very embodiment of the all the best that her profession entails. To see her treat society's cast asides with the same dignity and grace that she has greeted world famous authors is a reminder to me of that aspect of what a learned person should be.

With every end comes a beginning, so it would be only right to wish Laura well in her future endeavors.

The New Year ought to be a time of new opportunities, and we should all be so fortunate as to look ahead with anticipation to new horizons and successes, even as we remember those no longer with us.

Change is inevitable; how we change with it or how it is to change us we can only hope for the best on the road ahead.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Plus ca change...

I started yesterday in San Francisco with an lemon citrus body wash from the Hotel Vitale that was so aromatic that I almost choked-- then ended the day with my sister wearing some kind of hair product that was so peppermint my eyes felt like they'd been singed and the back of my throat itched. A lot less calories than a bowl of Chunky Monkey for dessert, I'll give you that.

I read this morning in an account of life for the gay community in New Orleans by Rex Wockner that if just 2,500 people around the country were to give $20 each, they could save the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of New Orleans --which I doubt is likely to see much in the way of funds from Washington to keep the doors open. Perhaps some of those financial wizards in LA could work their magic on New Orleans behalf, or gay community centers around the nation could get the word out. Donations may be made out to and sent to LGCCNO, 2114 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA 70116.

My favorite tofu scramble at the Bagdad Cafe on Market Street in San Francisco is no more. After reminiscing about it for years, and holding other restaurant's similar dishes up to it and always finding them lacking, I've fallen victim to that time-honored practice of harboring not a false memory, but clinging to the memory of a past I assumed still existed in some other universe.

This memory did not center on a single dish; it was just a good meal in a pleasant cafe, one always anticipated with delight that never failed to deliver. Always a great spot for people watching the passers-by on the busy stretch of Market Street --especially with the nearby gym.

No degree of fondness for The City could hold time in check. True to form, The City upholds it's longstanding allure from afar. For years, I have told friends it was virtually an obligation for gay folk to have a period of habitation in San Francisco. Permanent residency is not expected --nay, it is far too difficult for many and just plain not suited for others. It is a life-altering experience, though, a form of living the expat life within the United States. Folks around the Bay Area both intramuros and extramuros rather acerbically and usually good-naturedly jibe that not everyone who comes here is cut out to live here.

Like so many gay ghettos around the country, SF has long been a mecca. San Francisco offers a magical allure that makes it such a popular vacation place as well as a place to live.

Lemme tell ya, no matter how many weekend visits to The City one makes, trying to live there day in and day out the same at all. It is not as easy as it would seem--indeed, it can be confusing and to more than a few not worth the effort.

Not readily acknowledged is that many who come to The City with their psychological baggage in tow, which tarnishes the experience of living there considerably.

That isn't meant to discourage anyone from making the attempt, but to temper one's expectations and fervor of going there. Living in The City won't fix some damaged people, yet for all that it still provides an incomparable experience one is far more certain to regret only if it is never attempted.

I ought to insert here that I'm not alone in my family in experiencing the jolt of change in The City. We all had our points of reference -- as with the seismic faultlines-- moved from what they were (or as we remembered them to be).

Not many gay folk have had the priviledge that I've had of actually being in The City with my family of origin, having a meal on a bustling main street of the gay ghetto a mere few blocks from the world's gay Greenwich meridian.

So, like the Port Deli before it and so many other personal landmarks of life in The City, the present becomes the past, as it always has and always will.

This morning, I did get to lead the meeting at the alano club, as the "guest out-of-towner," although I'm not exactly a visitor without ties to SLO. It was a nice meeting, much more homey than my regular morning meeting, but rustic enough to make me appreciate and look forward to my meetings back home.

The meeting helped to return perspective to my life, sobriety and the holiday-- which is what it's purpose is whether it's in the Tenderloin or in Beverly Hills, right?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Fog in my Blood

California Soul

Like a song you hear
That lingers in your ear
But you can't forget
From sundown to sunset
It's all in the air
You hear it everywhere
No matter what you do
It's gonna grab a hold of you
California soul, California soul
They say the sun comes up every morning
And if you listen oh so carefully
The winds that ride on the high time
Whistle in melody
And so the people started to sing
And that's how the surf gave birth untold
To California soul, California soul
When you hear the beat
You wanna pat your feet
And you've got to move cause
It's really such a groove
Puts a brand new kind of thinkin' in your mind
And you can't go wrong
'Cause you're groovin' all day long
California soul, California soul
They had the melody and the beat
But it still didn't seem complete
Until they saw two lovers kissin'
They knew just what was missin'
So happy they were rockin' and reelin'
Because that added that lovin' feeling
To California soul, California soul
Like a song you hear
That lingers in your ear
California... soul
California... soul

December 26, Highway 101: Moss covered Mission San Miguel sits just off the highway, as it has for over two centuries. In it's perfect setting, it has a quiet dignity; quite untouristy, yet inviting. It looks as though no one has ever bothered to pull off the highway to visit.

Alongside the highway we pass green velvet hills that roll past in an endless procession; we amble beneath Maxfield Parrish clouds. The Nascimiento River, flat as glass, lazily meanders back and forth to the right of us, then to the left, and back again. Shadows of clouds rest on hillsides, here and there, their only purpose to add contrasting shades to the palette of the California landscape.

This section of Highway 101 is sponsored by -- no kidding -- "Ghosts are Everywhere." Hmmm.

There's something peculiar about a propane truck leaving a pasture populated by cows.

December 27. San Francisco. The Embarcadero. Dawn: The sourdough bread truck is the very first delivery truck of the day to pull up to the Ferry Building, and it doesn't seem kitschy at all. The commuters trudge with determination like the March of the Penguins off the ferry, scurrying up Market Street to skyscrapers still illuminated with holidays lights. The only San Franciscans to meet them are the joggers who turn out rain or shine and the elderly Chinese woman doing Tai Chi on the pier, all with expressions of intense concentration. In contrast, the tourists amble aimlessly -- even in front of traffic.

I never will forget Jeanette MacDonald
Just to think of her, it gives my heart a pang
I never will forget, how that brave Jeanette
Just stood there in the ruins and sang, and sang...
San Francisco, open your Golden Gate
You let nobody wait, outside your door
San Francisco, here is your wanderin' one
Saying I'll wander no more.
Other places only make me love you best
Tell me you're the one in all the Golden West
San Francisco, I'm coming home again
Never to roam again...
San Francisco, right when I arrive
I really come alive
And you will laugh to see me,
Perpendicular, hanging on a cable car
San Francisco, let me beat my feet
Up and down Market Street
I'm gonna climb Nob Hill, just to watch it get dark
From the Top of the Mark
Oh, there's Brooklyn Bridge, London Bridge,
And the bridge of San Luis Rey
But the only bridge, that's a real gone bridge,
Is the bridge across the bay
To San Francisco, I'm coming home again,
Never to roam again, by gum
San Francisco--don't call it Frisco
San Francisco, here I come!

Judy Garland live at the Herbst Theatre

Monday, December 26, 2005

Ars Longa, Vita Brevia

Storms in Africa

Though I walk through
Warm sands in Africa
Winds will grow soon
To storms in Africa.
How far to go
I cannot say.
How many more
Will journey this way?
Dark skies fall on
Black earth and ivory
Far from your sun
Clouds now close over me.
How far to go
I cannot say.
How many more
Will journey this way?
Storms have come!
Rains wash the earth away
Dark skies fall down
Into another day.
Rains have now come
From storms in Africa
Time will go on
Through storms in Africa

No other song could describe the swirling clouds dissipating from over the peaks surrounding San Luis Obispo this morning. That I could only scan my sketches of Cerro San Luis! Yesterday's log was one of the few times to available to post my entries 'til I get home from Northern California... we'll see. Maybe I can even learn a few overdue things from my far more computer proficient brothers... I have a lot of catching up to do. Next to my brothers, I'm practically writing on the cave wall in woolly mammoth blood.

There are threads emanating from BM in my mind -- most of which have little to do with the film or the politics of watching two straight boys swap spit. I think it was like a breach of the 17th Street canal of my mind. There were things I've been ruminating and other topics I've avoided thinking about that seeing the film merely acted as a catalyst -- the holidays have been kerosene on the fire.

This morning Cerro San Luis majestically sits with a crown of fog clinging to the summit like laurels of an ancient Olympian athletes. The town is quite for Boxing Day; since Christmas was on a Sunday, only a small number of retail outlets offering post-Christmas sales are open. Few places in the world will be as breathtaking as the scenery from here to San Francisco. It is nature's church in all it's splendor. Thankfully, few places in the country have residents as cognizant of their responsibility to safeguard the natural beauty as here. It never ceases to amaze me how many people rush from LA to SF without taking the time to take in this incredible sight.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

There's No Place Like SLO For The Holidays

Seasons of Love
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure - measure a year?
In daylights - in sunsets
In midnights - in cups of coffee
In inches - in miles
In laughter - in strife
In - five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life
How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life
Of a woman or man?
In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned
Or the way that she died
It's time now - to sing out
Tho' the story never ends
Let's celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends
Remember the love
Remember the love
Remember the love
Measure in love
Measure, measure your life in love
Seasons of love...
Seasons of love.

December 24. The Grove may be crowded, but everyone is upbeat for Christmas shopping.

--Did I mention the Abercrombie and Fitch hunks at The Grove were cuter than their A & F counterparts at the Third Street Promenade? Especially one dark-haired puppy! The "Hunky Santa" at the Beverly Center... wasn't. There were plenty of shoppers that could have (and should have) put him out of a job. Maybe they rotate more than one actor/model/waiter/Hunky Santa. Likewise, today, perhaps due to the Santa Ana-induced summer weather, brought out the beauties to The Grove.

Could this movie [Brokeback Mountain] have been made earlier in the epidemic? I think not. As the film ended, I got hit with the memory of the AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco, Mike's and Dennis' funerals at the Higashi Honganji Temple in Little Tokyo, and catching the plane from Stockton when my visit to Albert was over, and other memories so obscured I couldn't picture them clearly enough to see what they were. I don't know if I'd've wanted to see this film for the first time with a big crowd as Dacarla had originally planned. A team of theatre employees earnestly thanked the last of us stragglers out of the theatre unlike any time I've left a movie before. They were almost like church ushers at a memorial. Was it akin to when the AIDS Memorial Quilt was first displayed around the country? No doubt this film has been sucker-punching quite a few patrons since it opened. I detoured into the restroom to try to let the tears finish; it didn't work. I thought I was okay, but I could barely keep it together as I crossed the huge lobby and exited the theatre.

As hot and summerlike as it was when I went into the theatre, it's dusk now, with a slight chill already in the air. "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" sung by Bing Crosby pouring out of the hidden speakers so feels out of place for my state of mind -- yet The Grove is still filled with people caught up in holiday cheer.

...And it's everything I can do to keep from losing it in the middle of the crowd.

This is an aperture into a chamber of my subconscious that I have not visited for a very, very long time. I cannot run from it; it isn't frightening, other than the response in my gut similar to when a person choking runs from a restaurant from some innate fear of embarrassment or public impropriety.

I had forgotten, caught up with the swirl of feelings coursing through me, that it was Christmas Eve. This hardly seemed like the time or the place to unleash the pent-up tears that were hammering to get out.

How many other people viewing BM could say they were actually living in Wyoming in 1963? A disassociated part of me wondered how odd I must have looked to all those throngs of happy people strolling through The Grove.

Less than half an hour after I left the theatre, I was shivering by the time the bus came. Never mind the well-deserved buzz from the critics, the film made a deeper emotional impact that I couldn't possibly be alone in feeling. Time will provide us with the proper careful analysis of the movie's importance -- along with no end of shallow, ill-informed critiques, I'm sure. It would be too much to hope that people would allow others the right to their own emotional responses.

Circumstances have unfolded to make me a loner so much of time -- not that I'm antisocial or even prefer solitude to the company of others. All those moves when I was growing up, constantly dislocating me from my peers; sticking my head in a book; feeling so different and apart from those around me so often; perhaps there's something in my DNA that tilts me in this direction. I know well enough that I didn't deliberately cause it, nor am I likely to be able to change it at this point of my life. I can live with it, as best I can, since it's part of who I am -- but not all that I am.

Looking through my address book to see who else I should send cards to reminds me that I have been loved; I haved loved; I am loved. I should be grateful for having had so much more than most people could ever hope for (even if that doesn't include lots of money... at the present moment). Who knows, right? Like love itself, always maybe just around the corner.

I think I superimposed my life over that of the two main characters in the film for purpose of comparison. The endless discussions, debates and criticisms about the sexual orientation of Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal is not the point here that people ought to be focusing on. But for a twist of fate here or a lucky opportunity seized (or not) there, how do I measure the distance of my life experience from the two protagonists? Is this divine intercedence in my life that has given me a history of many and varied relationships --and my sobriety, that so rare gift that has been entrusted to my tending-- really possible to acknowledge and comprehend?

In diapers - report cards
In spoke wheels - in speeding tickets
In contracts - dollars
In funerals - in births
In - five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you figure
A last year on Earth?
Figure in love
Figure in love
Figure in love
Measure in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love

December 25, Hollywood. Thick morning fog melted away by ten o'clock, leaving a hazy, warm sky. The trade-off for a window seat on the ocean-side of the bus is a guaranteed stream of sunshine. So this is Christmas morning, 2005, in the company of disparate strangers all with unknown destinations, unknown stories. The familiar California viewed through the window, hills and peaks rounded and jagged, covered with indigenous vegetation as opposed to the cities with non-native landscaping and ever more construction pushing the boundaries of urbanization.

From Camarillo on, though, the fog returns overhead. Out to sea a thin line of sunshine can be viewed on the horizon; the Channel Islands are for the most part obscured.

San Luis Obispo. The town is shut down tight. Even the air is... Christmasy.

2:30 a.m. Monday morning. Leave it to SLO to have the first political stickers I've ever seen on bottles of alcohol. I dunno -- maybe they've been doing that for a while. After all, booze and politics have a long and checkered relationship.

I was thinking of the song "When I Think of Home" from "The Wiz," to try to illustrate what it's like to have a family home that isn't technically my familial home where I grew up. Yet I'm no stranger to SLO, it having been part of my life for ...half my life now. I am at once the exile,, the immigrant, the migrant, and with family in as much as a home as our crazy family wanderings can allow for. When I read the lyrics to that song, though, it didn't fit my mood as much as "Seasons of Love," from "Rent" which has been haunting me for days along with Tevye's introduction to "Tradition" from "Fiddler on the Roof." It is the violin solo as much as the words that follows me around all day.

So now, Christmas is over... as soon as I go upstairs to bed. Tomorrow we'll head up to San Francisco and I'll get to see my littlest nieces and nephews. :)

For some years now, I've made a tradition of playing the greatest hits of the Fifth Dimension when crossing over the Bay Bridge into San Francisco or passing the San Mateo-San Francisco county line by Candlestick Park (of which now only the ghost remains) that harkens back to my fondest memories of my family's earliest days in California.

Et en Arcadia ego.

Friday, December 23, 2005

LA: 86 degrees Chicago 30 degrees NY 33 degrees

I think I can live with those temperatures... as long as I don't have to endure any long lines at the mall!

I need a scroll to go with the mezzuzah I got for my sister's new house--as soon as I find out what color they're going to paint the doorway.

At sunset, the little white lights on the palm trees in the median of Santa Monica Boulevard are shimmering (from the rising heat of the day?)... Neat.

I cannot get this song out of my head! It has been on an endless loop for two days now! They had Nina Simone singing part of her version on a perfume commercial that has been playing the last few days. It so happens that it was one of the two records I bought in Paris when I went for my 21st birthday (although that was the Santa Esmerelda version). It was the most popular song in Europe that week.

Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

Baby, you understand me now
If sometimes you see I'm mad
Doncha know that no one alive can always be an angel?
When everything goes wrong you see some bad

Well, I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood.

Ya know sometimes baby I'm so carefree
With a joy that that's hard to hide
Then sometimes it seems again that all I have is worry
And then you burn to see my other side

But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood.

If seem edgy,
I want you to know
That I never meant to take it out on you
Life has it's problems
And I get more than my share
But that's my one thing I never mean to do

'Cos I love you
Oh baby
I'm just human
Don't you know I have faults like anyone?

Sometimes I find myself alone regretting
Some little foolish thing
Some simple thing that I've done

I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh, Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood.

I try so hard
So don't let me be misunderstood.

Not exactly your typical holiday carol.. but if I can find it at the mall (the first store I went to was sold out of the Nina Simone greatest hits CD) I'm gonna drive the neighbors crazy playing it, along with my other holiday favorites, "It's Christmas and We're Jewish," "Have Yourself A Drag Queen Christmas" and Rupaul's version of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch."

...and we'll see if I get my hands on the soundtrack to "Brokeback Mountain."

Yes, it's official: I'm won over by "Brokeback Mountain." The state of Wyoming is already fending off rumors of a "Sideways" styled invasion of tourists to see the sites from the movie... which was actually filmed in New Mexico and Alberta, Canada. The towns of Sage, Lightning Flat, and Riverton, however, which figure in the original Annie Proulx story, are real. Sage is on one of main the routes from Utah into Southwestern Wyoming; Lightning Flat, however, the town where Jack was born, raised and buried, is on a little road to nowhere off a minor highway right up alongside the Montana border. Riverton is the one town from the original story that is actually a town with stores, motels, and somewhere to eat... and a number of grocery stores...
(hint, hint).

The January 2006 issue of "American Cinematographer" has an interesting story about how Rodrigo Prieto shot BM. Look for a brief cameo of the cinematographer as the male prostitute in the street in Mexico that Jack meets.

Likewise, the Nov/Dec 2005 issue of "Script" magazine has an interesting backstory on the eight year journey of BM from Annie Proulx's short story to script to the screen.

Last post until after Ex-mash. Ho ho ho, and a bottle of mocha frappuccino!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Happy Winter Solstice (or "Midsumma," if you're an Aussie)

As my good fortune would have it, there was a loud, obnoxious drunk sitting next to me on the bus a few minutes ago finishing off his King Cobra, uttering homophobic threats and yelling at anything and everything. I'm still shaking a little, even though I'm safe and sound and will probably never see him again (I should be so lucky. I've a feeling, though, that this character may not make it to the rooms of AA.)

This morning's meeting had me feeling rather chipper, actually. The underlying theme was 'I'm not in the holiday spirit, and nobody can make me.' It was as if all the anti-Christmas people --some with good reason to hate the holidays, I might add-- were all tucked away in one little spot.

Before the meeting, I found the following in the Dec/Jan issue of Soul Brasil magazine:

Water or Coke?


1. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.

2. In 47% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.

3. Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as much as 3%.

4. One glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study.

5. Lack of water, the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.

6. Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.

7. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.

8. Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is
50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

And now for the Properties of COKE

1. In many states (in the USA) the highway patrol carries two gallons of coke in the trunk to remove blood from the highway.

2. You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of coke and it will be gone in two days.

3. To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowl and let the "real thing" sit for one hour, then flush clean. The citric acid in Coke removes stains from vitreous China.

4. To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers: Rub the bumper with a rumpled-up piece of Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil dipped in Coca-Cola.

5. To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: pour a can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.

6. To loosen a rusted bolt: Apply a cloth soaked in Coca-Cola to the rusted bolt for several minutes.

7. To bake a moist ham: Empty a can of Coca-Cola into the baking pan, wrap the ham in aluminum foil, and bake. Thirty minutes before the ham is finished, remove the foil, allowing the drippings to mix with the Coke for sumptuous brown gravy.

8. To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of Coke into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle. The Coca-Cola will help loosen grease stains.

9. It will also clean road haze from your windshield.

For Your Info:

1. The active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. Its pH is 2.8. It will dissolve a nail in about 4 days. Phosphoric acid also leaches calcium from bones and is a major contributor to the rising increase in osteoporosis.

2. To carry Coca-Cola syrup (the concentrate) the commercial truck must use the Hazardous material place cards reserved for highly corrosive materials.

3. The distributors of coke have been using it to clean the engines of their trucks for about 20 years!
Now the question is... would you like a coke or a glass of water?

You just know I'm going to answer that last question like the alcoholic that I am.... but can I get it with lime?

Happy Winter Solstice... now to look at pictures of Brasilian beach boys to get in the holiday spirit ;)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

'twas the night before the Solstice...

First I lose my therapist. Now our favorite librarian is getting transferred to another branch. After dealing with the crazies of WeHo (undisputed champion of libraries for their assortment of local eccentrics) I suppose Laura is due for a less challenging post where she can relax a bit and catch her breath. After all of the machinations and oddities here, anywhere else could be considered boring. She might end up in a library where it looks and acts like... a library. Culver City is up-and-coming; but I doubt even for all the studios and galleries near her new library that they have as many screenwriters, actors, or real California fruits and nuts like in WeHo.

My sister closes escrow after New Year's (hopefully) on her new home in Concord. It's closer to the City, yet somehow manages to be smack-dab in the middle of nowhere, one of those areas that San Franciscans will think might as well be on the moon, even if it is BART-adjacent. Thus, there is the threat that the siblings may not get together for Christmas at Dad's, with Scott and Satoe fresh from the Florence biennial and Brice possibly working through the holiday... :( If I'm going to have my poor-little-match-girl/starving artist's holiday, at least I wanna get to play with my nieces and nephews! It just isn't Christmas if I don't get to chase the shrieking little monsters around the tree...
It looks like my holiday is going down the tubes. :(

My favorite newsstand was playing the Gypsy Kings... a pleasant respite from the omnipresent "contemporary" Christmas carols that are just plain awful. I might just play my Halloween CD at full blast at home in my little artist's garret to drive the neighbors up the wall. That, or my Rupaul holiday CD. I think I have a classical/new age CD from Japan of the planets that ought to be sufficiently out there...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

You gotta have hope

Just when there really seems to be no real logical point in our existence, some silly thread through a television program like last night's Sex in the City, or this morning's Saturday Survivor's meeting jogs the purpose back (somewhat) on track. Imperfectly, maybe even a little unsteadily, but just maybe we'll get a moment out of the day where we get the opportunity to make a small gasp at some unexpected beautiful vista, or be of service to another human being in some small way, that allows for a reason why we should exist, that there is a purpose for our being where we are, when we are there, that only we can experience... even if we aren't allowed to grasp the importance of our being chosen to be there at that particular time while it happens (or, perhaps, ever). Just to know there is some God given scheme to why the molecules and matter that we are made of is here, right now, being who we are, doing what we're doing....

Yeah, just maybe. That's a pretty big what if, ya know?

Friday, December 16, 2005

That moon is hangin' lower over my head like...

The Man That Got Away

The night is bitter,
The stars have lost their glitter;
The winds grow colder
And suddenly your older -
And all because of the man that got away.

No more his eager call,
The writing's on the wall;
The dreams you dreamed have all
Gone astray.

The man that won you
Has gone off and undone you.
That great beginning
Has seen the final inning.
Don't know what happened.
It's all a crazy game!

No more that all-time thrill,
For you've been through the mill -
And never a new love will
Be the same.

Good riddance, good-bye!
Ev'ry trick of his you're on to.
But, fools will be fools -
And where's he gone to?

The road gets rougher,
It's lonelier and tougher.
With hope you burn up -
Tomorrow he may turn up.
There's just no let up the
Live-long night and day!

Ever since this world began
There is nothing sadder than
A one-man woman looking for
The man that got away...
The man that got away.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Full Moon Over WeHo

Moon River

Moon River,
Wider than a mile,
I'm crossing you in style,
Crossing you in style,
Some day,
Oh, dream maker,
You heart breaker,
Wherever you're going,
I'm going your way.
Two drifters,
Off to see the world.
There's such a lot of world
To see.
We're after the same rainbow's end--
Waiting 'round the bend,
My huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.

I had a feeling it was going to be a weird full moon when someone tossed an egg at me while I was waiting for the bus. Fortunately, they missed, but not by much; I had a little egg shell on my pantleg. No yolk, though, so I lucked out. Then today I broke the fan in my bathroom.
Maybe I should just be locked up 'til the full moon passes... and somebody gets hurt.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

Let's see if I can go 24 hours without anyone talking about Tookie Williams or Brokeback Mountain...

I was up every hour last night from a weird dream about Christmas from about 1960 to 1965. Every gift I remember in our home that was in some fashion heterocentric, American or Western civilization-centric propaganda, homophobic, sexist or racist (including those by omission or lack of inclusion of people of color) from the era flashed before me.

We spent all of a half an hour in the mall after my nephew's birthday brunch, coupled with a holiday-themed episode of "Gray's Anatomy" that pitted the pro-holiday characters against the against-the-holiday or just-not-in-the-holiday-spirit characters. That's what I assume brought on the strange dream. America has a lot to hold itself accountable for, from what I could gather. It was my good fortune to have come of age during the golden era of the marriage of the American toy industry with the promolgation and promotion of so-called "American" values. In some ways, it was supposed to be bucolic, yet on deeper inspection it was an insidious brainwashing of children, a fraud perpetrated on the young impressionable minds of the time. Someone ought to be held accountable for it. All the body dysmorphia, low self-esteem, and inexplicable rage of young people of color can find some connection to the constant barrage of images and ideas that came at us: the first generation to have grown up in the televised era of mass media.

And among the crimes committed is an unwillingness by the perpetrators to see the damage that they have committed against America's (and the world's) future. The very existence of the species could be said to be tied to the undoing of the damage of a relatively short period of time in human history. It is probably as important as a solution to global warming or sustainable energy supplies. If we want to truly develop the minds that will be responsible for fixing the problems created by humans in the 20th century, we'd best work to undo the damage already done and stop heaping more harm on the minds of our youth.

Then, maybe we won't have any more Tookie Williams, or need for a death penalty; or Brokeback Mountain, or need to teach and preach tolerance and understanding among people.

Or maybe I just need some chocolate... and nobody will get hurt.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Enough with the cowboys already!

Something is up when even my lesbian friends are all running to see BM. Granted, a strong opening weekend will make it easier to greenlight projects more pertinent to me in the future, and chances are there will be lots of eye candy in the audience, too, and all teary-eyed in need of a supportive shoulder :) after the movie...

Part of me can hardly wait for the gay pc crowd to light into the film, magnifying every real or imagined flaw as much as possible. Might as well get it over with. The first wave of snotty WeHo "oh, I already saw a screening at the studio" queens have already been flaunting their exposure to Jake & Heath to anyone within earshot. Maybe the ending will go down in gay cinematic history alongside the scene of Leonardo sinking into the freezing Atlantic out of Rose's grasp...

No, I'm really not that cynical, but the whole issue begs to be parodied and gotten past... as one tongue wagged, "How long before a porn film comes out entitle 'Bareback Mountain?'

File it under, 'so, you call this progress?'

I have to remind myself, that if I'm going to be in a community overrun with folks who work in 'the industry,' I'm gonna have to learn to put up with their sense of all-importance. This is WeHo, and it's filled with WeHoids. Been that way since this town was a soybean field. Frankly, I am confused as to how this film is going to feed one more starving child in Africa, bring about world peace, or get me excited.

I have been wrong before, of course. Maybe I'll even be the one hogging the hankies on the way out of the theatre. And then again, maybe a cute latin gogo boy will drop out of the sky and into my arms. What store at The Grove does one go to get registered for that gift, I wonder?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg

ABC is not doing right by its viewers. So I finally find out after searching through myriad ABS sites that 'Invasion' is on hiatus until January... so no Eddie Cibrian 'til then. Coupled with the way they tease their 'Lost' and 'Desperate Houswives' fanbase, watch 'em take a tumble in the '06-'07 year...

And I can't even get 'Miami Animal Planet,' so my Miami television addiction is sorely tested.

My brother Scott and his wife Satoe are getting ready for the Florence Bienniale. So big things are happening in the family.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

...and it started out such a nice day, too

At the post office I received a package of books from Robert Manners that I'll either open when I get home as a late birthday present, or hold off until Christmas. Who am I kidding? I can't wait to see what's in it!

Outside the post office, though, the LaRouche people had set up their table again. I evaded them on the way in, but upon exiting, one of them tried to engage me in conversation. He was a [presumably] heterosexual black man. I had an impulse to grab him and shake him and ask him what he was doing working for such a racist, homophobic asshole as La Rouche. As I still remember the time during the Prop 96 campaign when I was surround by a bunch of them at the LA County Fair, I have since thought better than to engage them in any way or even acknowledge their prescence. At times I want to tell them that they have some nerve, coming right into the heart of the gay ghetto and getting unsuspecting people to sign their petitions and take their literature. The people working the LaRouche table might be doing it for nothing more than the pay check, and have no idea (or could care less) that he went to prison for fraud, or that he's nothing more than a brilliant opportunist.

Hmmm... I think I have a subject to send to Ryan at WeHo News in regard to this. It would be a lot more therapeutic (and with less chance of being charged with assault) than trying to confront them directly.

But why should I have to chop off yet another piece of my shrinking turf until there is no place left I that I can feel safe? Why should we be made to endure their presence?


Monday, December 05, 2005

a summer day in December...

Whoa... it is waaaaay hotter outside than the 60 degrees the news said it would be today. Blue skies, tourists everywhere assuming this is how it always is in California... to live here is to lose sight of all the hype and hoopla about it. After all, without unsustainable manipulation of the environment, this is supposed to be a semi-arid desert scrubland. Today, though, it is definitely paradise...

In her introduction to her book, The Faith of A Writer: Life, Craft, Art Joyce Carol Oates quotes Sigmund Freud,

"beauty has no obvious use; nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it.
Yet civilization could not do without it."

Thus it is that WeHo gets a reprieve for being what it has become. The beautiful,
or wish for beauty, those who traffic in beauty, or seek to possess objects of beauty (both inanimate and human) all cross paths in this artificial oasis like the background characters in Rick's Cafe Americain in Casablanca. Like Rick, they are lured for the waters. And alas, they, too, are misinformed. Beauty strolls and struts up and down the boulevard, perches by the pool, showing itself off, but always just out of reach... It is not unlike going to Las Vegas, knowing that the house always wins, yet betting anyway on games of chance which in truth, offer little or no chance of bestowing those illusive riches upon the supplicant.

Yet, is the view not pleasing to the eye? Are not the melanoma-laden sun soothing to the skin? Is that the promise of attainment whispered on the breeze?

The carcasses and skeletal remains of those who sought beauty in vain are carefully out of view. The palm trees shield us from harsh realities of life. Fantasy is the chief industry here, and though of late they've been castigated for saying so, many of the early writers wooed to Hollywood tried to say as much.

And now for something completely different. I am enjoying my nightly television --even if I don't have an enormous, color flat screen tv like Dad-- and my various, for the most part harmless, forms of escape, perhaps in part because the alternative is just so damn unpalatable. Okay, so I live on the fringes of the Great American Riviera, yet am not of it. I am close enough to peer over the fences into the gardens of a life seemingly without care from my hovel with more than enough cares I'd like to forget. Such is our world. Such is my day.

And now, out into the gilded cage I wander, to get the room ready for my artists' meeting tonight.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Sunshine Saturday

So despite my feeling out of alignment with the standard WeHo crowd (like hearing those whispering voices in the jungle on "Lost", I get the word that this is not a place where I'm wanted or needed; I'm an interloper...) I stayed for the meeting last night anyway, and as always happens, it was the perfect share to hear (besides, some old rule from way back when says I'm not allowed to leave a meeting once I'm there; recognizing that a different meeting might be more comfortable or appropriate is another issue) and I was glad I stayed until the voices passed. Having time is weird, ya know?

When I was 20-something --even 30-something-- it was no big deal, but now I'm feeling more than the mere tyranny of youth that so permeates LA (especially WeHo). There is the palpable sense that most of my generation is gone... so few of my peers are left around whether in the rooms or around the neighborhood. That's part of why there seem to be so many of these young puppies around while I'm not a troll (I don't think so, at any rate) I out of sync with identifying with the other 40-somethings I see around. They all seem so much... older than I feel. Like fable of the grasshopper and the ant? While I wasn't looking, I got old. Yet, I don't feel old.

Granted, I like to carry on a conversation with someone in the English I was taught to speak, which seems a tad more formal than the standard twinktalk, and what I like to talk about --as well as what interests me-- seems a lot more grown up. Then again, in this neck of the woods, even those my own age have an inordinate amount of investment in vapid throw-away culture.

This town--this country--is so prepossessed with petty, silly stupid vain shit. When I was a shmata, the people who worked in the heart of the fashion industry understood that clothes were but mere rags; they didn't measure a person's real worth. Even within my own family, though, pop culture reigns supreme.

It isn't like I don't like to really, really laugh out loud and have a good time. Maybe out of the ruins of this morass there will arise those who have some sense and a few brains in their heads.

...and it's a beautiful day out, and I need to explore it, and embrace it, and enjoy it.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Siste viator

Well, the apartment next door is really empty. You have any idea how hard it is to find good neighbors (not to mention really cute ones)?

I'm still reeling over my television viewing of this week. Who knew that Oprah's appearance on David Letterman was "the television event of the decade?"

Wednesday night's "Lost" segued into "Invasion" without even a break in between. No time to even catch your breath! For a bona fide bookworm, I'm enjoying this television season thoroughly. My one bone to pick with ABC is that they promo'd "Alias" taking over the Invasion slot as well as implied that "Invasion" would be back next week without any mention of a day or time change. I'll just have to keep my ears and eyes open. The thing that really ticks me off, though, is this pattern of airing deleted scenes from "Lost" or "Desperate Housewives" on "Good Morning America." Hey guys, like, some of us are not glued to the tube morning, noon and night! That is so rude! Like charging over a hundred bucks for an ill-promoted fan convention (at the same hotel where AALA meets). Not a way to push brand loyalty. What, do they think we're addicted? Really, I can quit anytime I want! Like, say, every 108 minutes...

This business of the Catholic Church and gay priests is beginning to get under my skin. Mainstream media has been all over it. Even the "liberal" or "unbiased" television media have failed to talk about what's behind all this: THE GAY COMMUNITY AND GAY PRIESTS ARE NOT MOLESTING CHILDREN! Studies have repeatedly shown that the overwhelming majority of those who molest children are heterosexual (let's see the Church throw all of them out!) and most child abusers were themselves abused as children. I think I'm as worried about what would happen if the Church imploded in on itself when it runs out of clergy following their misguided stratagem since far more virulent fundamentalism sects are already hacking away at the (bloated) number of Catholics worldwide. That combined with the "stepinfetchit" mainstreaming of gay culture is going to be detrimental to the existance of gay life as we know it in the 21st century. It ain't gonna help our straight friends and family too much, either.

But enough doom and gloom... under all this crap, as the old story goes, there has to be a pony...

...and hey, John Stamos is coming back as a mid-season replacement. Yeah, it was far below the quality of my other favorite beefcake shows, but he did take his shirt off once or twice to show an impressive bod during his brief run last summer. Ah, Rebecca, please do tell us if the goods were as fun to enjoy as the package... or is it another case of mediocre performance in pretty wrapping? I try to remind myself that beauty isn't everything (outside of West Hollywood, that is), especially as I mourn the loss of The Boy Next Door...

I couldn't watch all of that alien attack of Deputy Lewis on "Invasion," as much as I wanted to. I'm a real wuss when it comes to that. What I did see as I peeked I must say was very well filmed. The murdering of the innocent deputy was a lot to take, though. And what will happen when Eddie Cibrian's kids eventually find out their mom is dead? Oof. Too heavy. What an adrenaline pumping show (and that's even without Eddie Cibrian walking around shirtless or in his shorts)!

So tonight, I'll go to my WeHo meeting, reminding myself what my primary purpose is there; and tomorrow the same. There's a holiday boat parade in San Pedro tomorrow night; maybe I'll go watch. As with the trailers for "Little Manhattan" though, I'm tired of going solo to events tooted as "perfect for dates." The ol' fifth wheel syndrome. arrrgh. At least the meetings in WeHo have eye candy ...and I'm not blind... and I will behave myself as befitting someone with as much time as I have.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Dec 1

Why is today unlike any other day?
A day to remind me of an individual's responsiblity to hold the whole of society accountable... sometimes not by shouting, but by our most seemingly benign actions...

I think part of the reason I was so down on WeHo the last few days is that...
I have a headache, sore throat and stuffy nose?
Some Aleve, a nasal spray and some OJ will take care of that, for the most part (but WeHo will still be WeHo, and there aint no meds to fix that disfunction yet!)

Hmmm... is WeHo toxic?

So to make matters worse, I run into the Boy Next Door, who tells me that he's moving... today! He has a boy friend... :( with whom he'll be spending the holidays in Punta del Este! Sigh! :\ That's what I get for being attracted to the boys who can travel in those circles. Oh well. Nothing like a nice fantasy, at least, to give you some hope. I guess I'll just have to find another fantasy... or maybe a real boyfriend. Now, that would be a change!

Yesterday, I ran into a number of program people as I walked down the street, then a fellow walked up to me and said he remembered me from 10 years ago, dancing at the local clubs: "You had it going on!"

The pessimist says, yeah, that was then; but it was cause for speculation that, maybe, just maybe, I still got it going on somewhere, I only I could find it. The more I remember my youth, the more I'm shook by just how much I really got to see and experience of life that most people only dream about... and it ain't over yet!

When I looked up at the Stahl House, there was a photo shoot going on. I couldn't see the people, only the equipment and the flash of a camera every so often. It was rather fun to watch.

Last night, there were no stars to be seen in the sky; a far cry from the heavens above San Luis Obispo. One lone planet shone through, however. And how many lights in the sky does it take to hang one's hopes and dreams on?

Maybe next year, it'll be me going to Punta del Este for New Years with the man of my dreams. And I don't want to forget, today of all days, all the beautiful moments I was privileged to share with the most wonderful men one could ever want to know.

All said and done, I've been one lucky s-o-b, and I don't dare dishonor the memory of all those incredible people I've been allowed to know along the way by thinking otherwise.

I've had my Punta del Este... over and over again, dammit. Maybe moreso than most people could ever hope to dream of. That means not worrying about if I've already had my ration of life's experiences...

Maybe around the next corner... who knows?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Le vie en la cite

So much to do now with so little time to do it! The holidays are really, really here and I feel six months late getting ready for them (when I was a shmata I'd have all my holiday shopping done before the 4th of July... and at wholesale!)

I'm trying to reconcile my love-hate relationship with WeHo... somedays it acts like the best place to perfect the neutron bomb --the one that leaves the architecture but wipes out all the people. Other days, the boys are lovely to look at, but that's all... don't dare try to talk to one of them if you aren't in their cadre...

I'm getting used to the idea (if one ever truly does get used to it) that I'm aging in a fetid pool of youth that lowers the bar on idiocy every season. Other days, the sun is shining and all is right with the world.

It is a time of year when normal emotions are heightened, so the best I can do is keep close to my meetings, keep my chin up, and watch how I react.

...and it may not be a misconception that the lunatics are running the asylum. this is, after all, LA..

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

More of the same

Beautiful day in WeHo... still have a fridge full of leftovers from t-day with the folks. We had a great meeting last night, and I can see nothing but more of the same on the horizon....

Sunday, November 27, 2005

We Are A Gentle Angry People

We Are a Gentle Angry People
We are a gentle angry people,
And we are singing,
Singing for our lives.
We are a land of many colors,
And we are singing,
Singing for our lives.
We are gay and straight together,
And we are singing,
Singing for our lives.
We are a peaceful, loving people,
And we are marching,
Marching for our lives....
lyrics by Holly Near, Arlo Guthrie, Ronnie Gilbert and Pete Seeger

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Night Sky Over San Luis Obispo

Wow! On the way back from downtown to Dad's house around 11 p.m., the sky overhead was a blue-black bowl filled with stars. The air was chilled; it was hard to believe that there was any night light pollution overhead. To the South, the Little Dipper and Saturn were among the stars that were crystal clear. This was a sight not to be had in LA or San Francisco. Had I forgotten how bright and numerous the stars could be?
By the time I got in the front door, I was well aware of just how cold it was outside. Oh, but the enormity of the brilliant sky was worth the shivering!
Tomorrow will be the anniversary of the assassination of Harvey Milk and George Moscone. I watch the sky for a moment in silent remembrance.