Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"You gotta give them hope" --Harvey Milk

I watch as two young men walk hand in hand down San Vicente Boulevard, immersed in their own private world. So easy is it to bash this town, to dismiss it as trite and given over to surface as opposed to substance.

So simple a scene cuts through all the hype and pretense as I not only consider a world where such is possible, but I am able to witness it first hand.

Spring is still a long way off; though here we're blessed with the warmth of a hazy sun today, much of the country is slushing through rain, snow and frigid cold. Here in this oasis, there is calm and an imperceptible cocoon of safety. The wounded are here, true, masking their pain in arrogance and pride in such numbers that at times one cannot see the beauty of the moment or that the very ointment for what ails us all and would sustain us exists, and is present and bountiful enough for us all.

The young couple amble out of my line of sight. It does not matter if I will ever see them again, if they are attractive or unformed and inarticulate in their ambitions and goals or engrossed in the mindless pursuit of that which is so fleeting in our lifetime.

There is the promise, such as I get when I climb to the top of Corona Heights and gaze down at The City, close my eyes and feel the gentle warmth of the sun on my skin. We are certain to be nurtured by the proof that we cry out for, and yet so often refuse to see is right at hand.

I might think myself alone, but I am not. You may look at the gym bunnies with their supposedly flawless physiques and feel hopelessly inadequate. We may be surrounded by so much illusion of the plentiful possessions of others and feel only the emptiness in our pockets. Truth is, we are all in equal measure filled with all that is truly needed to sustain us; to give us true worth and purpose. And to become aware of this gift we need merely be ready at a moment's notice to give it to those in need; for it comes from an inextinguishable source.

I need not be somewhere that I am not or with some one that I am not or have that which I think I do not possess to feel right and in the right place and alright with myself.

I can take a solitary stroll up the boulevard by myself with my thoughts and not be alone and be happy. I need only take a step, breath, smile, be aware... of the colors and sounds and all that surrounds me. I will share this with anyone I see who does not have it, for there is no impediment to anyone being able to receive it if they want it. It is my duty to give it away in order to keep it, to be willing to share it in order to have it always with me...

Resquiescat in Pace, Dr Betty Berzon & Coretta Scott King

I'd no sooner read that Dr. Betty Berzon had died on Jan. 27 than I heard on the radio that Coretta Scott King died last night in her sleep.

No listing of their achievements is necessary here. The impact they each have had on the lives on millions can not be described, much less contained here.

Dr. Berzon, through her tireless work on behalf of gays and lesbians in psychology in general and her dedication to LGBT youth in particular will never be equaled. She was a pioneer, an activist, an educator, a leader, a survivor and veteran who challenged those who would harm us; she not merely supported the community but created many of the organizations and devised the strategies to strengthen us and combat homophobia. I have witnessed her take on homophobes and gays wracked with their own self-hatred who offered support and comfort to our enemies and bring them down; discount, debunk and disprove the notion that gays and lesbians are any less human beings with worth and talents to benefit all humankind. She provided real avenues for gays and lesbians t heal, to love and to grow. Not only did she assemble the curricula for us to learn how to lead our lives, when none existed she created the essential texts and guides for us to utilize.

Mrs. King moreso than any other woman in my lifetime, personified justice and dedication to ideals and perseverance in the face of very real danger and adversity. She was dignity; leading by example that taught us courage with unwavering commitment. As she lived, so should we live; as she continued even through her --and our-- unspeakable grief and shock, so should we continue. Her commitment was a model for us to follow just as our struggles she took on as part and parcel of her own.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Burns Night: Haggis and Tatties and Neeps, oh my!

No, this doesn't refer to James Frey's butt after his grilling by Oprah. I think I recall he tried to dissuade her from choosing his book in the first place, but, what the heck; I understand it makes for a pretty good read as fiction anyway. And with all the #@?! coming out of Washington these days, it isn't the worst thing to be "embellished" or "passed off as the truth," eh? It isn't like he told the CIA where to aim that missile in Pakistan or anything. Where is the outrage over that? Oh yeah, outside the U.S. I understand the president's State of The Union has his handlers reaching for their vicodin refills.

If you haven't donated the cost of a martini at the Abbey to the New Orleans Gay Community Center yet, what are you waiting for? We know that the administration in Washington is already jockeying to downsize what aid they said they were going to provide to the people along the Gulf Coast. Alito may be a done deal, but let your Congressmember know not to abandon the victims of the hurricane. And I'm not just saying that just 'cuz I live near the San Andreas fault, mind you... anyone could be next, and with this culture of denial of responsibility at the federal level, let's just say we're sliding down a slippery slope.

Another way you can help (if you can't do without that one $17 martini) is to donate books to the New Orleans Public Library. The state and local librarians are co-ordinating an incredible effort to replace all the books lost in the disaster. You may send books to :

Rico A. Trigs
219 Loyola Ave
New Orleans, LA 70112.

They will sort through them and distribute them throughout the area affected by the hurricane. I don't know about you, but the thought of entire libraries being wiped off the face of the earth is a scary one... not that libraries get the support they deserve as a whole nationwide as it is.

Now that would be a fine way to honor Robert Burns, eh?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Truditor Dies Die

So a beautiful day it is; after I log off, it will be off to Malibu to meditate and contemplate and pray a bit. I picked out a recent Paul Madonna comic to leave at the labyrinth, a generic San Francisco street corner, yet beautifully rendered. I think in part because he chooses not to put people in his images of The City, as well as how he captures the many ways how light affects the view make his drawings so spiritual.

I thought I ought to pull out an old column I wrote about seven or eight years ago. I use it often as a starting point for my meditation.

We Are One

This just in from physicist Paul G. Hewitt: every breath you exhale sends out about 10 sextillion molecules of air. Your breath takes about six years to travel throughout the earth's atmosphere. But that's not just your breath you spewed out. Once your breath is mixed with all the rest of the air, about one molecule of your breath will be drawn into every person in the future.

This means that there is something here, all around us, of everyone we have ever loved. Even though we can't see it, touch it or smell it --it sustains us. Somewhere, here and there, all around the world, the breaths of my late mother, of my grandparents and great-grandparents, of all the friends and lovers I lost to AIDS, are all circulating, giving life to all the living things that came after them.

There is something both overwhelmingly powerful and beautifully simple about knowing this, knowing that anyone who ever meant anything to you lives on in such a way. And what of all the people we never knew? The breath of every man, woman and child who died in the death camps feeds our lungs. Every African who died during the Middle Passage, every untold story of pain and suffering, of joy and triumph, passes in and out of our bodies, and on to the next person, and the next, and the next. We are all part of something even when we think we are not. Pass it on.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Experto Credite

This is a particularly weird couple of days I'm coming up on. The 25th anniversary of RR's inauguration this weekend is also the day my mom died, and I'm not sure what it's going to feel like. I never know from year to year what it will feel like... it's as if there's some thin trail of thought in my mind that I'll see her again, that it can't be forever that she's gone. I know in a way, she is still with us, but, how many times have I looked at the calendar backwards to think of how I might have let her know how much I cared for her had I known how little time was left?

25 years? I still see her in my mind, and wonder what she would be like were she alive now. Each time I look into the face of my newest little baby niece or nephew, I think of what she missed, and what they will never know. She would have made one heck of a grandmom. Sigh. I can't quite get my mind wrapped around the idea that it has been this long. My mother's death is part of the swell of feeling inside me that reminds me that I'm approaching my anniversary clean and sober. Almost every week, along every section of Santa Monica Blvd., there will be some reminder of my hitting bottom and getting into recovery... I call it my Twelve Stations of the Cross. Especially when I'm around WeHo, as I can't seem to adjust that I'm now 25 years older than when I first got sober. And the puppies around this town have such a 'Logan's Run' attitude about older people. I don't feel like I'm 25 years older. Most of the time, that is.

I try to use those jarring memories as a part of my meditation, and what I have to be grateful for.

At this morning's meeting, out of over a hundred people, there was only one person with more time than me. The rest of them I've watched come in to AA. It is impossible to describe how many faces scroll by that have been in the rooms that are no longer with us. Some of them, I expect, still, to run into at a meeting, or their ghost is occupying an empty seat
somewhere in the room. There are so many people I think about this time of year who aren't here now, Mom, Dennis, Michael... That I'm still here, when so many others are gone...

A certain columnist is annoyed that GLAAD has called upon the gay and lesbian community to support the mid-season replacement television show, "The Book of Daniel." He did mention that he hadn't even seen the show yet. It should be more than clear that whenever the Focus on the Family or Jerry Falwell, Donald Wildmon or that other fake reverend Lou Sheldon call for a boycott of something, it's gotta be fun, immoral (in their eyes at least), or fattening.

Actually, I watched the first two episodes of the show, and almost laughed myself out of my seat. It is such a clever look at uptight WASP America, I can see where the humor might have hit too close to the bone for the anti-gay fundamentalist right wing. If anyone has their corsets on too tight... But seriously, the show is funny-- and would be even if it didn't have a gay character. The AFA and other rightwing groups have protested about how Christ is depicted on the show. Well, now you know how 90% of the worlds thinks. Visually, they got the blond haired Christ in white flowing robes right out of any Christian school textbook... although the actor has a tendency to sound a little too much like a rock n' roll lovin' slacker. He seriously needs to work on his speech and diction. Other than that, the whole premise of the show as a priest having this very personal relationship one-on-one with Christ is a cool idea that I might not have suspected I'd go for.

If I have a pet peeve about where this year's television season is going, it would be about the gay character on 'Desperate Housewives.' Creator Mark Cherry has been quoted as having modeled Bree and her family after his own upbringing, so if that is the case, the son must be modeled after his own adolescence. It might stand to reason that what he's telling about a hundred million people is that he was a despicable person growing up. He is a gay Republican, after all. I'm holding out hope that the character will have some sort of epiphany and become a more likeable person. As it now stands, the openly gay creator of one of the most popular shows on television has created a thoroughly unlikeable gay character. It really cuts into my being able to enjoy the show.

Another unexpected pleasure among the new mid-season shows was Tom Cavanagh's new show, 'Love Monkey.' Any aficionado of rock and roll will really like the show. Nice little Negro boys ought not to be even able to get most of the classic 60s rock 'n' roll references in the program. It is both an intelligent and funny show--both shows are, in fact. And what's this? One of the members of the posse of the lead
character in 'Love Monkey' is gay but his friends don't know? I guess that goes well with one of the actors on the show being well known around Hollywood for having a closet with an airtight door (oh, but he's married with a kid, so he can't be gay, right?)... Okay, everyone who's ever dated a married man raise your hand. Ooooh, look at all those hands... !

It's like that argument about the existence of bisexuality. True bisexuals --and they do exist, just like fairies-- won't acknowledge that the fence-sitters and those who refuse to come completely out of the closet and deal with who they really are have artificially swelled the number of actual bisexuals.

That some people can be so oblivious to the threat that exists outside the bubble of LA or San Francisco or New York in regard to where people's mindset still is... they seem to think that the conditions that existed in 'Brokeback Mountain' belong to some distant past, and not be aware that for many --many-- people, being out of the closet, or the chance of being happy in their gay skin, or existing safely in their communities is just not an option. That goes for Dan Savage, too.

What is more of an enigma to me these days is Dan Savage's articles. A recent column of his had me in stitches, I laughed so hard. Another one was written with the smug arrogance of a child of privilege that it really worried me, how some folks can take for granted how few people in the world go to bed at night
well fed and feeling safe and secure. I don't know if Dan's getting better on the whole as a writer, or maturing or I'm just getting used to his style of humor. There are times when he's so way off the mark, I almost groan out loud; it's enough to make me not read him for months at a time. Then I'll read something of his that is so right on, it blows me away.

I read several of his recent columns during the road trip up North to the Bay Area, which were closer to the latter. I cut one out and saved it which I meant to mention when I brought him up, but I haven't even finished unpacking yet and have no idea where it is... one of these days, if he's in LA, I'd like to buy him a coffee... as long as he doesn't bring the kid (or the boyfriend).

There is a dance remix of "The Wings" from BM that I heard yesterday for the first time that some people have a problem with. It isn't bad... in fact, it's quite good. I heard it right after I listened to Michael Silverblatt's excellent interview with Annie Proulx on KCRW's "Bookworm." The interview is archived on line and can be found at kcrw.com along with a number of Michael's other recent interviews. It is always a delight to hear author's appreciative response to Michael, as he invariably mentions something that no other interviewer noticed. I should think that English teachers (among others) all over the country ought to listen faithfully to his program. Now that it's on line, there is no excuse for those folks not lucky enough to have his show syndicated
show on the air where they live.

If this weather holds out tomorrow, I guess I will walk the labyrinth at the Malibu United Methodist Church. Since Mom's ashes were sprinkled out at sea, I can sit on the beach afterwards and read in peace, being that it's off season.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"Make Every Moment Count"

So, yes, I went to see the new Queen Latifah movie, "Last Holiday." This weekend will be the 25th anniversary of my mother's death (on RR's inauguration day) and I thought I ought to do something a little extra special to mark the date.

I will probably go out to the labyrinth at the Malibu United Methodist Church by Zuma Beach next Saturday, so I went to see the movie on during the MLK weekend.

Yes, it's formulaic; yes, it's so predictable a ten year old might be able to write out the script before seeing the film. Every review I've seen has panned it as trite and overly simplistic. So fucking what? It works. Yeah, that's right, the movie does what a movie is supposed to do. It moves you from wherever you are to a slightly better place. Tell me when we have too many movies with a strong African American woman lead, by the way. It won't be up for any awards, in all likelihood, other than perhaps an NAACP Image Award. There's no cursing, no car crashes. And (spoiler alert!) nobody dies. Give yourself a treat: see the movie. And take somebody you care about. Too many good people I know (spoiler alert!) never got a fax telling them that they were going to live after all. So we all have to live a little more for the folks who aren't with us --except in spirit. Maybe you'll laugh just a little more through life than you might have otherwise...

It is far too easy for folks in the program to see an encoded message related to see a recovery-related theme in just about anything, (Greg Garcia's "My Name is Earl" has got to be penned by program folk, for all the inside jokes it has) but the message is there. Not that folks in recovery have ever laid claim to any monopoly on spiritual teachings or messages. It's pretty damn universal.

It isn't too much to ask that our entertainment media do something to make us maybe just a wee bit more conscious of how precious life is, and the gift each of us has to offer the world around us. If that's too fucking corny for you well excuse me. Go drown a cat or something. I'd like to think I'm gonna leave this Earth at least an iota better off more me having been on it.

So go see the movie with somebody. Take the kids. Take a neighbor. You remember them: the people who live all around you? Take yourself for a pick-me-up. Unless you'd rather get a $17 martini at the Abbey to feel good.

A Love That Will Never Grow Old

Go to sleep, may your sweet dreams come true
Just lay back in my arms for one more night
I've this crazy old notion that calls me sometimes
Saying this one's the love of our lives.

'Cause I know
A love that will never grow old
And I know
A love that will never grow old.

When you wake up the world may have changed
But trust in me, I'll never falter or fail
Just the smile in your eyes, it can light up the night
And your laughter's like wind in my sails.


Lean on me, let our hearts beat in time,
Feel strength from the hands that have held you so long.
Who cares where we go on this rutted old road
In a world that may say we're wrong.


I'm glad that the song by Gustavo Santaolalla and Bernie Taupin from Brokeback Mountain won a Golden Globe last night. I could easily see where a piano or harp arrangement would make it a wedding favorite for years to come... and not just same-sex weddings, either.

(Two lost posts)

Jan. 7. A beautiful Saturday for a stroll up Santa Monica Blvd. passing "Daddy Starbucks" (or as I like to think of it, the "Westmount Beach"). More Texas A & M graffiti on the walls --were fans staying at the Ramada? Of course! What a hoot for them!--

Nothing like a lunch at the quintessential center of queerdom, Eat Well, to make one feel as though one's gay card had expired.

This is supposed to set the tone for the road trip; instead, I feel like I've already gone into exile.

It's impossible to tell that it's January, looking out the restaurant's plate glass windows at the green hills and cloudless blue sky.

At the Bagdad Cafe, I lamented the past lost; here, however, there never was a present for me.

Then, while walking to the French Market, twice people from the program call out to me to say hello from a passing car or a table at the coffee house.

Outside is breezier than it had seemed at the meeting this morning, when the magnified sun warmed the back of my neck through the window.

Jan. 8. All Over Coffee.

While looking for the stuff to pack for the jaunt up North, I found a couple of Paul Madonna cartoons.

If you've ever lived in San Francisco, wanted to, dreamed about, or wondered what it was that makes The City so special or the people so captivated by it, his 'enigmatic' depictions of San Francisco that appear a few times a week in the San Francisco Chronicle tell the tale.

As intriguing as his art is, the story of Paul Madonna's coming to San Francisco and becoming it's unofficial artist-poet laureate is a tale in and of itself worthy of the artist --and The City-- who so keenly and intuitively lays open the spirit of it's soul.

Who better, then, to illustrate the San Francisco Literary Map published by 826 Valencia?

To view the archive of Paul Madonna's work, go to http://www.sfgate.com and click on "comics" and "Paul Madonna" or go to his website at http://www.paulmadonna.com

San Francisco, where everyone leaves their heart, is a city with so many of them. The official geographical center of San Francisco is on the East side of Grandview, between 23rd and 24th (just below Upper Market). In 1980, I mapped every address then in my phone book. The center of my personal San Francisco at the time if I recall correctly was near Duboce Park. While that address book does not survive, the map does, somewhere. Given that over a quarter of a century has passed, since then, it would be interesting to do an updated version--maybe for both San Francisco and LA.

When most visitors think of San Francisco,, nearly every landmark except for Golden Gate Park, the Golden Gate bridge, the Legion of Honor, the Presidio and Haight-Ashbury are compressed into the northeast quarter of The City.

LA having so much more land mass begs the question, what is the center of my LA? The official geographical center of LA is somewhere in Franklin Canyon near the reservoir-- a place very few Angelenos have ever visited despite it's popularity with hikers and the horse set. It has been on my 'to do' list to visit as well for some time as well.

Friday, January 13, 2006

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Jan. 9. 12:32 p.m. On Interstate Five, north of Route 46, East of the infamous site of James Deans' fatal accident.

A desolate trailer park has a few scrawny palms and eucalyptus trees shading empty plots. There is only a single forlorn trailer and two RVs. The trash cans are a freshly painted light blue; everything else looks windworn and like it's been backed into a few times. The Hartford Sentinel announces Home Garden is getting a health center. All of the music for sale is southern rock/country or cumbia, save for a single Cajun cassette. The other side of the display stand features the biggest beef jerky I've ever seen-- leathery sheets the size of a page in a paperback novel.

It seems the perfect place to put on Phideaux's Fiendish CD, in this desolate landscape.

Endless rows of leafless reddish brown trees lift their boughs in supplication to a sky sealed off by fog.

In waves, the trees wash by, perfect rows and perfect columns.

The brown and amber fields appear so barren when I think of the beauty of the Salinas Valley over Christmas, seemingly only a free hundred yards to the West over the Ciero Hills. In actual distance, Soledad and Gonzales are over 60 miles away; the low hills obscure mountains further on. A rare break in the hills reveals their grey silhouettes.

At last bands of green mark the hand of man alternating with the hand of nature on the hillsides.

Strange machinery speaks of science proudly doing for nature what it cannot do for itself next to fields summoned back from their winter slumber.

The sign at the rest stop proclaims we are in "PETAREA." The rest stop is almost equidistant from Mexico and Oregon, two thirds of the distance from Nevada to the ocean.

Loma Prieta, the epicenter of the 1989 earthquake, is nearly due West; Manzanar due East.

There are far more shades of green than brown here; a canal slovenly delivers the element more precious than gold: water.

This seems the one place where all races may mix freely -- if courtesy guarding caution could be said to be free.

Now our hills are a hand-tinted relic of early photographs. Ponds to the East shimmer in an endless promise of bounty all the way to the horizon.

We are gazing down upon the promised land; more than once in the past the floor of an ocean. The vastness of the San Joaquin Valley is beyond comprehension. How the settlers-- whether Spanish or American-- must have felt to come over the mountains and see this! All of England could fit here. It would seem improbable anyone must live elbow to elbow with their neighbor anywhere on this Earth.

A ranch house offers a passing glimpse of an early farmer's prosperity. The pre-Victorian home has settled into itself, an elegant if impractical alternative to the more modern homes with wood siding not yet weathered. It seems improbable the newer homes will ever match the grace of their predecessor.

The time worn grooves of roads no more than ruts appear picturesque-- from the smooth-surfaced modern superhighway. Even the wooden fences are more aesthetically pleasing --if less efficient barriers-- than their chain link descendants.

Yet, into this sylvan landscape must intrude the occasional cell phone tower, a necessary evil of the present age interrupting the symmetry of the pastoral scene.

The most jarring sign of the imminent end of this verdant paradise and our approaching the city is a golf course, a garish affront to nature and ironic given the poster back at the rest stop warning against the introduction of non-native plant species and the havoc they can wreak.

The horizon is marked now by fields sprouting suburban homes as the preferred crop. Urban detrius appears --still in bits and pieces-- out of sight and out of mind of the developers and residents of town.

Jan. 10. Clyde, California. Next door to my sister's new home, a sad excuse of a flamingo that has seen better days adorns the front yard, along with a statue of a little dog lifting it's hind leg for all eternity on it's own little fire hydrant. How quaint.

The orange tree has more ripe fruit on it than can be counted. Clover has taken over both front and back yards --a magnet for bees, my sister tells me. Japanese maple were lovingly planted in front of the house. Pine trees --two of which are enormous-- are in the front and back yard. A walk made of broken pieces of concrete and stone leads clear through to the street in back.

Jan. 11. San Ramon. The San Francisco local television news is a hoot. For such a high tech savvy region of the country that produces so much of the information delivery software in the country, the Bay Area news programs are still so provincial it's downright funny.

I'm hoping to get to pop into Cliff's Variety store in the Castro, if anywhere, once we get into The city. So many place familiar to me are gone or changed now. Medium Rare Records is still there, but whereas it once was the preeminent gay diva record store without par in the country --or the planet?-- now, alas, it is given over entirely to dance music. A sign of the times. It is still the ultimate incomparable shop for what it offers both professional DJs and music aficionados near and far, but don't look for that obscure 78 of your favorite cabaret singer from days of yore. Not that I have anything against dance music, I love it in fact; but this was my one resource for anything and everything Eartha Kitt ever recorded.

No place can anchor the long distant past with the present as Cliff's Variety store. Cliff's, perhaps alone in The City, is still as it always was: a wonderland of discoveries up and down every aisle, whether you are rehabilitating an entire home, finding that perfect gifts in housewares for a wedding or housewarming, or just looking for a rare retro toy for a present --or for yourself. Especially for yourself. Who needs a mall for comfort shopping? Cliff's has it all--right down to the kitchen sink! As much a landmark as the facade and sign for the Castro Theatre, Cliff's represents the neighborhood, a microcosm of The City as a whole.

You can get the fabric to make everything from new drapes for Tara to Scarlet ball gown, or outfit the costumes for an entire show. Then there is the stationery department-- yet another store within a store, with the hardest to find of office supplies like one would get from a mom-and-pop establishment but aren't to be found in a big box office supply store.

The plan includes trying to get to a
meeting on this trip, whether in while in The City or in San Ramon. I brought with me the entire meeting schedules for both San Francisco and Contra Costa counties.

Another kind of certainty I can look forward to is the ingenuity with which
local artists depict San Francisco. In no city in America do as many residents treat their town as member of the family, or have as many images from postcards to magnets to fine art and photographs in their homes. The locals probably buy more images of The City than all the tourists ever will. Floridiana has long been recognized for it's collectible kitsch, but for so small a place, The City has all other places beat. The mystique of San Francisco probably even extends to extraterrestrials.

Not long ago, I tried to describe to someone what it was like to witness the visual onslaught of AIDS in the Castro and LA's gay ghettos. The scene around the Castro has changed so much from the 1980s in a way that defies description. It is not --will not ever-- return to be what it was like before AIDS, but it has come back to life anew in it's own inimitable San Francisco way. Though the battle against the encroachment of chain stores has been lost left and right around the Castro, it is still the Castro without a doubt.

Where was that little picturesque corner grocery store that was so San Francisco, and yet so European? It was the quintessential blend of continental ambiance and San Francisco style. There is probably one in or another such place in every neighborhood in The City. Turns out it was the New Upper Terrace Market at 17th and Uranus, on the way to my brother's new home across from Sutro Tower --yes, right across from the base of the tower!

At 12:28 p.m., we finally pulled out of my sister's home in San Ramon, to make it as far as the Bishop Ranch shopping center on the other side of the freeway.

The Hotel Carlton is just too cool. It has a perfect "Rough Guide meets Lonely Planet with the amenities of Conde Nast" vibe to it. Even the room key cards are have cool multi-culti photos on them. Kitty Carlisle Hart is performing on the next block at the Empire Plush Room.

Jan. 12. 8:20 a.m. Well, the morning meeting at Church and Market is one more item on the itinerary that I won't make it to. I woke up just as the meeting would have been getting started. I might not make a meeting this trip at all, it seems.

10:00 a.m. Get Lost, the ultimate travel store on Market Street, Cliff's and any other stops I wanted to make will just have to wait for the next trip. The car was broken into last night while parked on Hyde at Sutter. Nothing was taken, although they rifled through everything. A number of other cars were hit too. We spend the rest of the morning getting the paperwork for the insurance company to fix the window at the SFPD Central Station on Vallejo. At least I get to peek in City Lights bookstore while getting a piece of cardboard for the window.

Jan. 13. 2 p.m. West Hollywood. We're back home in LA. Damn, but it's nice out--on the hot side of warm tempered with a breeze to ease the transition back to LA.

A reality TV crew is filming on the field at the playground at Cahuenga and Santa Monica. The bus passes by a youth with a shaved tattooed head and a huge snake around his neck, then a plus-size black tranny hooker in a tasteful black cocktail dress.

A silver Rolls Royce glistens in front of the Amazon pet shop. The bus driver is listening to Elton John's "Levon" on the radio.

The Joan & Melissa LIVE "Red Carpet Royalty Tour" bus rolls by.

Tourists roll down the window and ask, "Hey, where's Rodeo Drive?" from their car on San Vicente.

As I leave the library, I come around the corner in time to catch the most spectacular sunset framed by palm trees. A seagull cries overhead. Is LA trying to win me back? I don't want to be yearning for a San Francisco that is more illusion than real. A full moon hangs low in the Eastern sky... perhaps this is not the Friday the 13th to be out and about, even as I see locals and tourists alike descending on Boystown for happy hour.

The beautiful people are gathering like wildebeests at a watering hole.

Just as I have discovered over the holidays that the 9 a.m. meeting at the West Hollywood Recovery Center is far less pretentious (and easier to get a seat at) than the Sunday morning meetings across the street at the Log Cabin, now, too, I make my way in search of a new Friday night meeting.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Jan. 3: One thing West Hollywood has over San Francisco: while what precious greenspace there is in The City is usually tucked away, hidden from view behind homes and apartment buildings, WeHo has an abundance of landscaped lawns, some miniature versions of their suburban cousins, seemingly all in competition with each other in as myriad a selection of fantasies and follies as one can imagine. It makes walking down nearly any residential street a delight, no matter what time of year.

Jan. 4: Today is much brighter than yesterday. The whole week in LA will be stuck comfortably
between Spring and Summer.

A piece in the LA Times on the Disney Hall downtown reminded that when I was on jury duty as the building was nearing completion, I was struck by a blinding reflection off the surface as I crossed First Street. It was an accident waiting to happen, I thought, watching them finish putting the metal surfaces on the exterior of the building. Dad assured me that they run endless tests to make sure that accidents of design like that don't happen... but they've now finished sanding the surfaces after countless complaints and threats of lawsuits from neighboring businesses and residents. The sun's reflection was practically frying the residents of one nearby highrise. Frank Gehry just shrugged it off... he'd already cashed his check and run.

There have been Lyndon Larouche volunteers in WeHo all through the holidays outside the mall and post offices. It's all I can do to keep from confronting them. There is something intriguing about the chutzpah of Larouche's racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic organization setting up tables in the middle of a liberal, gay bastion like West Hollywood. I couldn't help but listen in to their spiel that they offer passers-by, most of whom apparently have no idea of the history of Larouche. Methinks I have a story for the WeHo News in the making here.

Twice this week, there has been the most incredible pink sky behind the hills at dusk; the rains over New Year's cleaned the air enough to get rid of most of the smog, but just enough remained to give the sky this gorgeous color for a few minutes.

Jan. 5: It appears our first California road trip of 2006 is set for Sunday: a repeat of the Christmas trip up North to San Luis Obispo, San Ramon, Clyde and San Francisco with my brother, since he had to work over the holidays and didn't get to see the rest of the family. And we'll get to see my sister's new house!

California Road Trip 2006 Play List

(partial list)

I Left My Heart in San Francisco--Tony Bennett
Manha de Carnaval, Samba de Orfeo--Black Orpheus soundtrack
Romanza--Andrea Bocelli
Brokeback Mountain soundtrack
Sail Away, Storms in Africa--Enya
Club Sodade--Cesaria Evora
California Soul, Aquarius/Let the Sunshine--The Fifth Dimension*
San Francisco--Judy Garland (live)
American in Paris, Rhapsody in Blue--George Gershwin
Cast Your Fate to the Wind--Vince Guaraldi
Here, There & Everywhere--Emmylou Harris
Canadian Sunset--Eddie Heywood
State of Independence (with Chrissy Hind)
Sicilienne--Georgia Kelly & Steven Kindler
Danzas Afro-Cubanas, Malaguena, Siboney--Ernesto Lecuona
Innamorare--Ottmar Liebert
San Francisco--Jeannette MacDonald

If You're Going to San Francisco--Scott McKenzie

Rock & Roll Queer Bar--Pansy Division
Chupacabras, Fiendish--Phideaux
La Goulante de Pauvre Jean--Edith Piaf
Amanacer--Mongo Santamaria
Fairground--Simply Red (dance remix)
Sinnerman--Nina Simone (Felix da Housecat remix)

Gregorio Valdivia (various CDs)
Key Largo--Sarah Vaughn
Linus & Lucy--George Winston


Cafe del Mar
(dance mix)
Flowers' Duet (dance remix)
Mama, Yo Quiero Cha Cha (artist unknown, Cuba circa 1959)
Moments (dance remix) & Moments in Love (original version)
State of Independence (with Chrissy Hind)

plus my new Christmas CDs of Cuban music,
Bhangra & African music CDs
and much, much more...

*that I'll play as I enter the City/County of San Francisco

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Edward Allen is on the NSA no-fly list. He's four years old. Ladies and gentlemen, this is where
are going, as opposed to, say, fighting this mythical war on terror. Of course, some of us have always known that the people running this country have always thought of little black boys as terrorists, so it was merely a pre-emptive strike on their part.

I've lost count of the number of gay men of color I've seen today in WeHo wearing their Abercrombie & Fitch sweatshirts. Good thing the company settled those four anti-discrimination lawsuits, eh? Yes, those Abercrombie boys are lovely to look at, but not to hold up as the preferred archetype of beauty --or behavior. To the powers that be, I suppose the A & F model represents the ultimate compliant, class-race-mentality ideal. Sigh. It's far too beautiful a day to get pissed off at such things, trivial though they aren't.

I may have erroneously given the impression that gay men in San Francisco are less emotionally healthy than those in West Hollywood. Rest assured, that is not my intention nor my belief. Where one would find an impartial social anthropologist to determine if one group fares better than the other is beyond me. Perhaps a foreigner with no ties to either city? And what would be gained by learning that one city is, in fact, more unbalanced than the other? Would we have to flee to Fresno? Are we trapped in paradise with our own worst nightmares?

I'm just in too funky a mood today. Perhaps it's because my apartment building hit an iceberg during the New Year's storms, and was leaking water over my bed and my stereo in over a dozen places.

He was a Friend of Mine

He was a friend of mine
He was a friend of mine
Every time I think about him now
Lord I just can't keep from cryin'
'Cause he was a friend of mine

He died on the road
He died on the road
He never had enough money
To pay his room or board
And he was a friend of mine

I stole away and cried
I stole away and cried
'Cause I never had too much money
And I never been quite satisfied
And he was a friend of mine

He never done no wrong
He never done no wrong
A thousand miles from home
And he never harmed no one
And he was a friend of mine

He was a friend of mine
He was a friend of mine
Every time I hear his name
Lord I just can't keep from cryin'
'Cause he was a friend of mine.

Willie Nelson (from the "Brokeback Mountain" soundtrack)

The haunting instrumentals by Gustavo Santaolalla are what really seem to go with the clear blue skies and the backdrop of brown-and-green hills behind Hollywood. I'm not one for country music as a rule (Emmy Lou Harris' cover of "Here, There, and Everywhere" is a notable exception) but today just seems like a good day to get into a melancholy, contemplative sort of mood.

I'll probably end up buying the BM soundtrack and driving my neighbors crazy with endless replay.