Thursday, August 31, 2006

photo from The National Trust for Historic Preservation

It took a couple years longer than planned, but the Far East Cafe in Little Tokyo has reopened. Los Angeles mystery author Naomi Hirahara will be taking a lucky winner on a mystery walking tour of Little Tokyo. I found out through this great site I stumbled across, Murderati, that I'm sure will be taking a lot of time away from my writing (though well spent).

The Far East Cafe has been renovated with a not-so-unique-these-days combination of grants and private monies. It doesn't exactly have all the ambiance that it did when I was in high school, but close.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New Orleans' African American Museum

The African American Museum has by now reopened, according to New Orleans Renovation. Click on the header above for a list of blogs from New Orleans.

A sure sign of life returning to New Orleans

Beaucoup Books is scheduled to reopen on September First. The Maple Street Bookshop is not only open for business, but has an array of events scheduled.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

And Still I Rise ---Maya Angelou

Photo by Dave Orchard

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Do you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Explain to me why this guy isn't on trial in The Hague for genocide?

Monday, August 28, 2006

At 6:10 a.m. on August 29, 2005, hurricane Katrina made landfall over Buras, Louisiana

As overwhelming as all of the barrage of images in Katrina's wake around the Gulf Coast have been, last year as I listened to the first news reports that the hurricane had made landfall over this tiny village downriver from New Orleans, I recalled that I had first come to know of this place through the WPA Guide to New Orleans. As the storm passed, and authorities were able to assess the damage, even before the levees in New Orleans had failed, I waited to hear of the fate of Buras. I didn't see any news crews make their way that far down the Mississippi, although I'm sure some must have.

Here was a village, described by locals as a virtual paradise on Earth, that bore the full brunt of Katrina's fury.

With all of the attention on New Orleans tomorrow, I wanted in some small way to remember the town of Buras, and ask that as you recall the events of a year ago, that you pan you vision out of the city to remember the countless villages and hamlets affected.

Their stories of loss and survival number in the thousands. So many of them will in all likelihood never get told. Of all the benefits, fundraisers and relief efforts for those affected around the Gulf Coast, I hope you will think of those towns like Buras. Think of them as your town. They are, after all, part of America. Your America. This could easily have been the town whre your family lived, where your roots were. When the next disaster hits --and there will be a next time, these images well be from the place you call home.

The header at top has a link to the Plaquemines Parish, where many more images of the destruction and recovery efforts may be found, as well information on how to assist. When an entire town is flattened, I'd think there is no contribution too small or insignificant that one could make. The worst you could do is to look away.

And then who would you have come to your aid, when disaster strikes?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The confluence of two anniversaries

I'm fond of blasting Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a Dream" speech on the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington (most of my co-workers got to expect such things out of me). This year, on the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall over the tiny village of Buras, Louisiana, I have noticed there are more programs on television and radio on the devastation and aftermath than is humanly possible to watch or listen to.

Yet it seems vital --both as individual human beings and in the development of our humanity-- as well as our citizenship in the world and as Americans, that we not just passively observe these dates. That we react, and how we react, will be the true measure of our character.

While searching on line, I came across the excellent site, which has a vast array of information, recollections, and resources on how to be part of the ongoing recovery. There is also an excellent pamphlet that may be downloaded, "One Year Later: Surviving the Katrina Anniversary," by Carol McClelland, PhD. It will probably serve to help deal with the emotions soon to arise from the anniversary of 9/11 as well. Don't presume that you are over it all. When the movie "World Trade Center" was released, pundits kept asking, "are people ready to relive 9/11?" My response was, "when did we stop living it?"

Click on the header at top to be connected with a site that will allow you to actually experience the "I Have A Dream" speech.

We can't get gay and lesbian history in schools yet, and I have no doubt that it will be a while before --if ever-- how we witnessed and experienced these events will be taught in schools in the future.

The Times-Picayune link to the left has a mind-boggling collection of articles, videos, and material on what happened one year ago in the Gulf region --and since.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Rule 62*

I'm sorry, but I can't look at this picture and not laugh. It's so... evil. And so inapproriate.

And so f'ing funny.

I saw this site once before, and came across it again, and laughed to no end: The Fake Gay News.

*don't take yourself so seriously.

For more on the history of the Stonewall Inn

The following sites have information on the designation of the Stonewall Inn as a National Historic Landmark and why it matters to GLBT history:

Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

The National Park Service

Why save the Stonewall Inn?

The continues gentrification of the Greenwich Village is about to claim a most significant victim: the Stonewall Inn, site of the 1969 clashes with police that threw gasoline on the fire of the nascent gay liberation movement.

It has gone through a number of ownership changes over the years (it's almost as tawdry in it's current incarnation as it was in 1969), yet the singular importance of the site in GLBT history is far greater than it's most immediate --or prior-- uses.

This meaning of this little building has taken on mythical proportions to the gay community worldwide, far more than to just the American or even New York gay history.

For the gay community, it is as much a pilgrimage site as Stratford-on-Avon is for literature.

New York has a rather bittersweet record of preservation history -- all history. Even Fraunces' Tavern wasn't assured preservation until virtually the eleventh hour. Most recently, historic preservationists lost a battle to save a home occupied by Edgar Allan Poe.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Save the Stonewall!

Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

This was one of my favorite views of the Parc Monceau, mysterious and romantic, quiet and tranquil... I had a book of Atget's photographs (edited by Jackie O, no less), that I lost in my fire of '98.

On this, the hottest day of the week, here in the middle of the bustling city a half a world away, I can't help but hear Erik Satie as I
daydream away the afternoon...

I've fallen into the habit of asking friends on their way to Paris to drop by the Parc Monceau for me to say hello... That and Rue du Dragon and the Pont Alexander are among my favorite places to walk in Paris.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What's the most important news story in LA?

Could it be 38,000 city employees going on strike?

An unprecedented ecological disaster in the Eastern Mediterranean caused by Israeli bombing that threatens the livelihood of at least half a dozen countries and millions of people?

A thousand deaths in Lebanon from the Israeli air raids?

No: it's a nutcase being extradited from Thailand to face a murder charge that he may very well not have committed.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Because They Have No Words: September 2 - 30, 2006

A new play by Tim Maddock & Lotti Louise Pharriss; Directed by Emilie Beck

The story of one man's journey as an animal rescue volunteer in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Reservations are available by calling 818/786-5834 or through

Saturday, August 19, 2006

There's a bird trapped in the library...

The header above has a link to the Sherry Frumkin Gallery. And the correct link to the Sydney Indy Media is here. What a difference a little dot came make!

When it comes to speaking out for human rights, I wonder, am I that, "little dot?" Are you?

Celia Cruz at the California African-American Museum

It may technically have already passed, but I really liked that poster for the 2006 International Human Rights Day. While wandering around the web to see what else I'd missed, I found that clever image from the Sydney Indy Media. There's a link to click on to connect with them. I might as well post a link to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I thought.

The pas de deux is one of a series by artist Alex Donis, who has a new exhibit at the Shelly Frumkin Gallery. His website appears to be out of date, but I'll get around to checking for the Frumkin Gallery site at Bergamot Station when I have the time.

Today, however, I'm off to the California African-American Museum to see the new exhibition on the life of Celia Cruz.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Friday, August 18, 2006

Magnetic Words

A Friday in paradise

Victor has returned from South America in one piece, and looking like he never skipped a workout the entire trip. There were earthquakes and volcanoes erupting while he was there, so the spirits must have been excited to see him...

To top it off, one of my favorite secret, impossibly beautiful crushes sat down next to me this morning. Nothing will ever come of it, but for a few moments he had his hand on the back of my chair, and I could feel the hairs on his arm. It was almost unbearable. No, it was unbearable. There is such a thing as beauty that makes you gasp with joy and feel grateful to be alive. Does he have any idea how beautiful he is? I saw him one day driving down Santa Monica Boulevard, singing to the radio.

Ah, the dreams of summer.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

It seems the internet superhighway has some rough cobblestones as well...

For reasons I as yet cannot understand, none of my spelling corrections would go through on the last post. Damn you, Blogspot! Bad Blogspot!

At least the links are all correct, though...

I've read enough grousing on various sites to know that it's just one of those things that happens without rhyme or reason. Grrrrrrrr....

Little Tokyo

I pulled out a pair of comfortable old sneakers this morning for my sojourn to Little Tokyo, worn and unstylish by West Hollywood standards, perhaps, but imminently preferrable for our exploration though Little Tokyo, a part of the city where the original cobblestones pavement often appears intermittently and without warning. In Boston's Beacon Hill or 18th century Philadelphia, such pavement would be without question a part of a neighborhood's historic cultural heritage and charm; in the central core of Los Angeles, where the transformation of land use has reached fever pitch, cobblestones either be considered as quaint embellishments or an impediment to progress; if not immediately imperiled with replacedment by modern surfaces as telecommunications and powerlines are discreetly rerouted and tucked underneath, then by the crushing weight of heavily laden trucks bearing both the raw materials and the finished goods of Progress back and forth.

I should advise you that one needn't be an urban planner or cultural historian to find this to be a fascinating community, remarkably unvisited by most residents in Los Angeles.

The study of Little Tokyo, the history of how it ame to be where it is, shaped by such disparate events as American racism and imperialism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, natural disasters, and migrations of peoples to California; it's near total obliteration by the forced removal of the entire population to --depending on your preferrered terminology-- concentration camps or the more euphamistically named 'relocation centers' during the hysteria of the Second World War; the miraculous rebound of Little Tokyo in the post-war years even as its population and prominence within the Japanese-American community shrank; to its late 20th and early 21st century resurgence as a symbolic center for an ethnic community and a newfound urban oasis of cultured living to upscale young professionals that know little to nothing of Little Tokyo's legacy.

The community is the locus for a vibrant design community and artists, as well as urban planners and students of urban land use and ethnic or cultural history and landscapes. And then there's the food. If you're going to go exploring, ya gotta eat, and you might as well dive in and immerse yourself in the experience of Little Tokyo with your tummy, too.

In searching briefly for the photographs below that would illustrate, in brief, my Little Tokyo, I came upon a number of interesting sites worth checking out.
In addition to the link on the header above, I would suggest checking out these sites:,,, and

Join me now for an urban adventure for all your senses...

On KPCC this morning, there was an all-to-brief summary of the history of Little Tokyo, which is celebrating the 66th Nisei Week. Not the 66th annual Nisei week, mind you, for as they neglected to include in their broadcast, the Japanese-American community was summarily uprooted during World War II, and incarcerated. During those years, Little Tokyo reverted to Bronzeville, as African-Americans seeking work in the rapidly expanding defense industry across Southern California returned to the area.

In the period from approximately 1880 to 1910, what is now known of as Little Tokyo had been the center of the African-American community in Los Angeles, centered around East First Street and Wolfskill, later renamed Central Avenue. As whites urbanized and developed farmland to the south, the African-American community slowly followed in their wake. Due to restrictive covenants, the African-American community by and large could only live within the tracts adjacent to Central Avenue, thus giving birth in the decades to follow to what became known as "South Central."

In the segregated era of the day, the only portion of Los Angeles where newly arrived Japanese immigrants were allowed to live was within the colored community. The Japanese-American presence mushroomed after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. As the center of the African-American community moved south, Little Tokyo emerged.

There is a link above to the official Nisei Week site, but beware: the site is as unnavigable as it is lacking in detail concerning the exact times and locations of dozens of events taking place around an area comprising more than 20 city blocks.

Friday, August 11, 2006

"I have had it with these muthafuckin' snakes on this muthafuckin' plane!"

Um, people, this was supposed to have been a PEACE march...

Photo from Towleroad


Just for today, I will try to do as much as I can with what little I'm given in the small amount of time I have without any clear or substantial direction
while others get credit and acknowledgement
and I'll try not to feel anger,, resentment, or frustration
because this is just --after all-- just a job.

I only have to keep telling myself to breathe, and to learn to let it go

--thanks to Walt at for the meditation. After I read this and a few slow measured breaths, I wasn't anywhere nearly as disillusioned with the human race as I had been. Actually, I'm even once again quite hopeful. It might be a sort of reverse discrimination and chauvinist, but with the exception of Alexander the Great, the Empress Catherine the Great of Russia and a few other notable exceptions, I suspect that most gays are God's teachers, spiritual workers and peacemakers. That's the spiritual experience that I had when God revealed to me that I was gay. I guess some of you didn't get the memo.

Oh well. We may all have special duties and abilities assigned to us by our higher power, but not all of us will get to know what they are or understand the message when it is received. No matter how idiotic or destructive some human's behavior may be, I know that they're still God's kids. The ones that give God a headache, perhaps, but still God's work when all is said and done.


"There are days when we say, 'I'm going to move out of this damn place. I'm not going to take it anymore.' But the next day you have a quintessential, magical L.A. day, where you meet interesting people, go to some concert in an open-air theater, have a great meal, listen to great music, and you go, 'Yeah, that's why I live here.'"

--Huell Howser to Allison Milionis in the August 3 Citybeat newspaper

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

It could quite easily be Hollywood, or Mount Diablo behind Oakland, couldn't it?

"Burned children were yelling, 'Mommy! Mommy!'.. "

So, people: what will it take? Will the war have to spread to Lebanon, Kansas, the geographical center of the United States? Then will it become personal?

I'm disgusted with the human race. Just plain downright ashamed. The American media is all upset because a photographer photo-shopped an image (he didn't add any victims, he only tweaked the color). Meanwhile, more bombs are falling. On a funeral. On a truck filled with food. On more children.

I thought I would be full of hope today for the future of humankind. Then I made the mistake of turning on the news and getting the latest toll in human life from the war in the Middle East.

I just don't fucking know.

You goddamn heterosexuals are gonna blow up the whole goddamn planet and yet you go running around whining about gays getting married or being accurately depicted in textbooks. Well, I want textbooks that will tell future generations just how hard you motherfuckers tried to wipe out all life on the planet.

Now go to your room for a time out and think about what you've done (or haven't done). All of you. And no dessert.

You know, I couldn't curse if I tried until I was in college and spent a couple of quarters trying to see if I could cut it as a teacher like my parents. They stuck me with a class of eighth-graders. And they gave me a vocabulary I've used sparingly ever since. I wouldn't mind if I never cursed again, but as in Italian, it isn't which words themselves you use, but how you use them that truly matters.

Outside the window I see a beautiful summer day; not a cloud in the sky. The fountains are dancing in front of the Pacific Design Center. Less than 25 meters from where I sit, children are playing in the playground. Swimming in the pool.

And yet, all I can see is Nagasaki and Beirut.

Well, no more caffeine today for me.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"Silence is a powerful enemy of social justice." --Amartya Sen

They had to kill it in order to save it

AB 1437 has been neutered in order to save it from a threatened veto by the governor. The California Assembly voted 56 - 2 to remove the portion of the bill that mandated inclusion of gay and lesbian history in schools. As it now stands, bill merely prohibits any negative portrayal of gays in textbooks.

So gays and lesbian will still be technically invisible as far as schools are concerned.

Well, it's not like they've tried to overturn Loving vs. Virginia... yet. Or the Thirteenth Amendment. Yet. Give 'em time, though, and see how far they'll push back the clock.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

"The more we do, the more we can do; the more busy we are the more leisure we have"

Not only is the Surf Festival in full swing down in Hermosa and Manhattan Beach today, but tomorrow night, for two nights only, August 6th and August 13th, at 7:30 p.m., Highways Performance Space is presenting the Los Angeles premiere of "Caste of the Wounded Tongues."

"It is hope which maintains most of mankind." --Sophocles

Well, ladies and gentlemen, Hell might very well have frozen over.

In between the rockets, bombs and anti-Semitic diatribes flying through the air, I finally got to read this week's Savage Love column by Dan Savage.

And I laughed. Like Garbo, but without the hat. And cheered. Okay, Michael Renne: tell Klaatu to power down. There just might be hope for humanity after all.

I always did like his geeky-cheeky acerbic humor when he hits his stride. Some of his comments at times will make me not read him for months at a time ...but I always come back. He's cute, too, which helps. I always did have a things for those nerdy pups with a bad boy grin. Unfortunately, he's married. And with a kid, no less. I may be many things, but I'm not a home wrecker, and I'm not keen on getting involved in any open relationships.

So sorry girls, the word is, that the cute ones are
gay and married.

Anyhow, after Dan Savage's rapier sharp sarcasm and wit helped shake my dim outlook on the future, I had an epiphany. What humanity needs is its own 12 step program. Last time anyone counted that I know of, there were at least 144 in existence --and that was after Military Brats Anonymous and before Crystal Meth Anonymous. I'm stuck on what to call my new program: Human Kind Anonymous, Homo Sapiens Anonymous, Earthlings Anonymous... with a potential membership of six billion plus, our general service assemblies could be hashing that part out for years to come. Luckily, that's just the formal part. The nuts and bolts are already in place: I'm totally powerless over [human kind / the human race / humanity, etc.] and [human kind / the human race / humanity] are unmanageable.

And today is a beautiful day.

I can hope that I-won't-even-say-his-name-again gets the help he needs, even if at his publicist's and lawyers' prodding. There's enough meetings in this town that I only have a one-in-three-thousand chance of running into him.

And wasn't there a surf festival or something for me to enjoy today, anyway? After pummeling us with all the bad news, the radio did mention that it would be another chamber-of-commerce-perfect day out today, and it looks to be the case from where I sit.

And if you didn't get it, my last post suggesting world annihilation was a joke, okay? So lighten up. And go fly a kite or something. Or read a Dan Savage column or two.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Israel has never been known to pussyfoot around when it comes to defending itself --now is not the time!

News reports from Washington and Europe have added more alleged suspects to the list of sources for raw materials and munitions for Tehran that may have ended up in the hands of Hezbollah.

The only logical outcome, continuing Israel's' current scorched earth policy, is to bomb Moscow, Paris, Pyongyang, London and La Habana.

Don't cry to me; you've had plenty of chances to visit the Louvre or the British Museum. Greece may not get their Elgin Marbles back, but with the waters of the eastern Mediterranean turned into an oil slick, what does it matter?

There is the strong likelihood that prevailing winds will carry the nuclear fallout from Cuba to most of South Florida, but hey, we won't have to worry about cleaning up the Everglades! No more boat people! And the rest of the country won't worry if everything from Key West to Palm Beach was wiped out. South Florida has given America too many headaches of late, anyway.

If Israel really wants security, of course, they'll have to just stop doing this job piecemeal, and level everything from Morocco to Mindanao.

Of course, they'll have to translate "Waltzing Matilda" into Hebrew, too...

In vino veritas?

On page two and three of today's Hollywood Reporter, Gavin de Becker urges Hollywood to dismiss the words Mel Gibson spoke while drunk. He offers a plausible reason for why Gibson probably didn't mean them. Yet words --and actions-- committed under the influence do hurt. They sometimes have far reaching consequences, far more serious than the tirade of a drunken actor. Those words were not abstract; they didn't just fly out into space without touching people (slapping them in the face would be more like it). Had Gibson hit another vehicle while driving home, the consequences might have been irreversible. Whatever the outcome, he's getting off easy, considering what could have happened.

Forgive, sure. Forget, not quite so quickly. Like those homophobic comments Mel Gibson made in an interview a few years --while stone cold sober. To make amends is more than a simple, "I'm sorry."

"I came to murder on behalf of God." *

Once a jolly swagman camped by the Billabong
Under the shade of a Coolabah tree
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled
"Who'll come a'waltzing Matilda with me?"

Down come a jumbuck to drink at the water hole
Up jumped a swagman and grabbed him in glee
And he sang as he stowed him away in his tucker bag
"You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me."

Up roading the Squatter a riding his thoroughbred
Up rode the trooper - one, two, three
"Where's that jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?",
"You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me."

But the swagman he up and jumped in the water hole
Drowning himself by the Coolabah tree,
And his ghost may be heard as it sings in the Billabong,
"Who come a-waltzing Matilda with me?"

--A.B. Paterson; from the closing scene of On the Beach

Headlines such as the one above are what it takes to get me to ration my news intake and make me turn to some vapid, light and fluffy entertainment. Something like, oh, world annihilation.

And here's what my alternate choice was: Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, defending hoodlums who attacked their gay pride march was quoted by Rex Wockner as saying, "Russia's morals are cleaner." News reports later said the hoodlums were allegedly paid in cash and McDonald's Happy Meals.

The link is in honor of Jamaica's 44th anniversary. The B of A building in downtown Miami is lit in the colors of the Jamaican flag for the occassion. Critical Miami has a great shot on their blog. Go to the header at top and click on April 27th for a link on Jamaica.

* Ultra-Orthodox protester Yishai Schissel, after Jerusalem police arrested him for stabbing three marchers.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

World eBook Fair


Gautam Malkani's Londonstani, which I mentioned before, is shaping up as my favorite read of the summer. I'd say he was worth every penny of his much-talked about advance. I'd dare say my family has heard enough bhangra playing as I was reading to last them a lifetime. Click on the header above for a link to hear Malkani discuss his work.

"San Francisco has only one drawback -- 'tis hard to leave." --Rudyard Kipling

Never mind what the map tells you; there are more time zones between San Francisco and Los Angeles than there are between LA and New York.

In the stack of mail waiting upon my return was a notice about the 17th anniversary of Highways Performance Space. For a city the size of LA, by all rights there ought to be any number of cutting edge centers for the performing arts such as Highways. It's one of those areas where New York or San Francisco or even Minneapolis can arch their eyebrows, and say, "Well, what would you expect from LaLa Land?"

With Tony Blair in town, the British press has been, in the words of Terry Gross, trotting out every antiquated stereotype about Los Angeles they can think of. As with Washington or New York, at times those chestnuts are from the last century, if they were ever true at all.

Highways has been a shining piece of evidence to the contrary that there is culture in Los Angeles other than yogurt. Click on the above link to be directed to their site.