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Friday, March 31, 2006


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Not difficult at all to ...

... call him 'Sir.' One Queen in England did it for the rest of us. Tom Jones is now a Knight of the Realm. The Supremes' Mary Wilson bestowed quite a few honours on him decades ago:

"Suddenly he entered the room, and for a moment I felt like we were living out a scene ... with 'Some Enchanted Evening' playing in the background ... I could see instantly that Tom was like no man I had ever met. He was extremely down to earth and passionate ... I knew I was in love.

" ...After that night I was consumed by thoughts about our next meeting ... I truly believed I had found my love at last."

Well, just go on, Mary!

(from Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tower Records Lincoln Center

This evening's performance showcases the creative and the innovative. Michael Winther will be performing starting at 6PM.

Songs from an Unmade Bed features music by Debra Barsha, Mark Bennett, Peter Foley, Jenny Giering, Peter Golub, Jake Heggie, Stephen Hoffman, Lance Horne, Gihieh Lee, Steve Marzullo, Brendan Milburn, Chris Miller, Greg Pliska, Duncan Sheik, Jeffrey Stock and Joseph Thalken. Each composer contributed one song to the tuner and each song features lyrics by Mark Campbell. The tunes tell the story of a gay New Yorker's heartaches and triumphs in the big city. Michael Winther stars.

This is a song cycle, a lieder that celebrates gay life in the Big Apple.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bulgarian Lovers

... is recommended. TLA Video has this to say:

Eloy de la Iglesia’s ... latest film is an elegantly filmed and splashy return to cinematic prominence with this story of a love between a middle-aged Spanish gay man and a younger “straight” Bulgarian hunk. Daniel is a well-off accountant who welcomes Kyril into his bedroom and into his life. Kyril is a refugee from Bulgaria who has mysterious sources of income, but an incredible body and a charming smile. In Daniel’s social circle this type of relationship is common, one based on mutual needs rather than an equal partnership. There are two parallel stories - the thriller revolves around the mysterious contents of a bag Kyril stashes at Daniel’s parent’s house, a stolen car and mysterious bundles of money. While the thriller propels the film forward, under the surface is the love story between these two men and Kyril’s girlfriend who arrives to come between them.

With terrific scenes in gay clubs, at a Bulgarian country wedding and at Daniel’s parent’s spectacular country home, De la Iglesia gives us a truly unique journey with even a tad of magical realism thrown in for good measure. Featuring ample nudity, sex and even a trip to a male bathhouse, Bulgarian Lovers is sure to arouse as well as entertain. (Spanish with English subtitles)

Monday, March 27, 2006

If Geppetto were his father,

George would not be a real boy. Imagine if this George had chopped down a cherry tree.

Today’s New York Times starts like so

Bush Was Set on Path to War, British Memo Says

Published: March 27, 2006
LONDON — In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.
But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times...

There’s more but you get it and just last week, there was this exchange:

HELEN THOMAS: I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet -- your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth -- what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil -- quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I think your premise, in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist, is that, you know, I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect --

THOMAS: Everything --

BUSH: Hold on for a second, please.

THOMAS: -- everything I've heard --

BUSH: Excuse me, excuse me. No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true. My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. We -- when we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Our foreign policy changed on that day, Helen. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy, but we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life. And I'm never going to forget it. And I'm never going to forget the vow I made to the American people that we will do everything in our power to protect our people.
Part of that meant to make sure that we didn't allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy. And that's why I went into Iraq -- hold on for a second --

THOMAS: They didn't do anything to you or to our country.

BUSH: Look -- excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al-Qaeda. That's where al-Qaeda trained --

THOMAS: I'm talking about Iraq --

BUSH: Helen, excuse me. That's where -- Afghanistan provided safe haven for al-Qaeda. That's where they trained. That's where they plotted. That's where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.

I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council; that's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, ‘Disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences’ --

THOMAS: -- go to war --

BUSH: -- and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.

Put a little love in your heart, Helen. And the world will be a better place.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Emerald City Denizens

HBO's Oz was a unique and intense series. Sometime soon by the way the sixth and final season will be released on DVD. The fondness held for Christopher Meloni on this site and BLOG is definitely no secret. He, too, is unique and, as OZ demonstrates, has his intense moments.
Any OZ fan can tell you that OZ was more than Meloni and his predator alter ego, Chris Keller. Right there by his side quite often was Lee Tergesen. Meloni referred to their characters as the new Luke and Laura. There are many parallels.

Other fine human beings and talented actors on the show were Dean Winters, Lauren Velez, Eamonn Walker, David Zayas, Granville Adams, Harold Perrineau, Seth Gilliam and Kirk Acevedo just to name a few. First and foremost among them for a lot of peoples' money was -- and still is -- the very grand and saucy Rita Moreno. As far as casts go, they don't come much better.

The creative force behind the series was Tom Fontana who along with Chris Meloni is also a favourite around here. Tom engendered and earned a lot of respect from those who worked for him. The period of time that OZ was in production was a close knit and unique time for all involved. It was Fontana who presented Meloni with the recent award given him by the Human Rights Campaign. Tom's comments can be viewed at Meloni's official website.Both of these individuals step right up when it comes time to give back to the community. Both were frequent presences and donors at post-World Trade Center benefits. Tom has Stockings With Care among other charities that he endorses and supports the year round.

Both of these gentleman are fully supportive of not only the right to privacy but also the freedom of expression. Mr. Fontana has been struggling for quite a while with WB Network and his new show, The Bedford Diaries, the unedited version of which will be broadcast on the internet starting ... well, now prior to its network debut. Go to his website and also the New York Times to learn more about his travails. Most of all watch the show.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Saturday Beefcake

Now there's someone that seems rather healthy and not too shabby for a main course. In keeping with that frame of mind may we suggest this rather healthy side dish.

Sweet and Sour Coleslaw

1 head shredded cabbage -- red's the best
1 chopped medium bell pepper -- go for red or yellow, please
4 thinly sliced green onions
Cooked corn kernels about 400 mg
2 large tablespoons rice or any white vinegar
Sugar substitute to taste

[add finely minced jalapeno and/or cilantro -- of course, you know it's optional as is so much of what we eat]

Toss [It's for 8 people]

37 calories; 9 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 12 mg sodium; 0 fat

Friday, March 24, 2006

Lovin' Out Loud

It's very easy to keep returning to Michael Clay's poignant yet joyful song "Love Out Loud" because its expression is just right. Once again it's our song of the week. As we kick off another AIDS Walk auction on EBAY with the participation of the iconic Christopher Meloni, loving out loud is more than appropriate.

The effort this year is done in conjunction with Smart + Strong's POZ magazine. Therefore, donating to Giovanni's donor page is donating as well to the POZ team.

Once again Christopher will be signing photographs and magazine covers for the winning bidder and to that bidders' specifications. The three items currently on the block are these three: 7603546851; 7603547395; and 7603547943.

There are plans in the works for an event where there will be other interesting and generous New York denizens, one of which will be the multi-talented and ever beautiful Ilene Kristen.

In the meantime, check out the auction, check out the donor page and love out loud.

Go here to check out the new look on Michael Clay's site.

Go here to check out POZ.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Mark Mark Bo Bark

Mark Aaron James' Name Game

So, masturbation night was a real success at last weeks
"Undercover" show. We really pulled it off. (My apologies to
everyone who has heard me doing that joke all week).
Things are back to normal for this coming week. Although, we
are doing another genre instead of a songwriter. It will be "songs
with names in them."
So, join me, and Jolene, and Jack and Dianne, and G.L.O.R.I.A.
and all of their friend for a cool night of music. Tonight, 8:30 PM
at Mr. Denehey's, Carmine and 7th Ave., downstairs. Hope you can
make it out.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Knock and It Shall Be Opened to You

NY tabloids have not exactly been obsessed with Column favourite Mr. Colin Farrell but he has not been ignored either while working in these parts. He's not about to be ignored by this BLOG ever whether he is employed or unemployed. We'll always be here for him. Yesterday the second paragraph of Page Six's report went like this: "While shooting a scene for "Pride and Glory" last Friday morning under the Queensboro Bridge, he cracked up the crew when he walked to the entrance of Scores strip club, pretended to bang on the door and yelled, 'Let me in!' Alas, the club doesn't open until 7 p.m."

Let it be said here and now that no matter the time of day the door will always be open to Mr. Farrell in these parts. All he need do is knock and ...
well, you know the rest.

Looking under the bed, one might find his shoes.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Pookie Says

Brokeback ranks #2 on Amazon Canada for sales and it's only been announced today. Looks to be #1 on Amazon US.

The societal impact, as expected, will be much greater with the DVD release.

Truly A Young Man's Fancy

Gay Sex in the Seventies (from TLA)

Bringing us right back the '70s, Joseph Lovett's superb documentary is a journey worth taking in the era of safe sex. Through vintage footage, interviews and rare photos, the film tracks a lost era where a night out might include the baths, the piers, a sex club and maybe an empty truck for a quickie.

Those who were 'there' often look back on themselves as if they were someone else experiencing that life and time. There was , of course, both a down side and an up side. It gives new meaning to the words 'survivor' and 'boomer.'

Check out the link to TLA Video in our store.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Nothing Like A Pansy

... following the Vernal Equinox to welcome Spring when a young man's fancy is just that


Christopher Durang is most assuredly one of the most entertaining recovering Catholics and part of his forum is over at Arianna Huffington's Web Log, but the post seems to have disappeared but we managed to save this.

"As we know, Christ came down to earth to instruct us in the ways in which we must limit our sexual expression. He may have said the Beatitudes one stray weekend between appearances at the Knights of Columbus, He may have said startling things like "love thy enemy," "turn the other cheek," and "resist not the evil doer" - but He either meant those as quirky but meaningless bromides, or perhaps they've been mistranslated, and He actually said "God is my co-pilot, and whenever you go to war, know that God is right beside you, killing people too."

The Huffington Post made news recently by parcing together some of George Clooney's quotes as if he'd posted it. Lo and behold Ms. Huffington apologized for the gaf. Arianna has had a very interesting political journey and the postings at Huffington Post are well the effort, especially that there are brilliant people like the talented Mr. Durang there.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Some Things Bear Repeating: NY AIDS Walk 2006

Living in Florence, Italy provides an opportunity to meet a wide variety of people. It was especially true in that threshold of time when the decadent 70s were over and the world was on the verge of what might very well be called the greatest health crisis of the 20th century. In that small pocket of time it seems, in retrospect, that there were some idyllic experiences in spite of living in the onslaught of the world according to Ronald Reagan.

One of those happy times occurred when Timothy Scott arrived in the heart of Tuscany. He was a bundle of energy that simply wanted to enjoy everything around him. He was a dancer. He was a singer -- and that was only in his day to day life. He was also a professional performer.
The happy days included literally dancing down the cobbled streets singing, "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You" with the best spontaneous choreography fueled by not too much Vernaccia, one of the best of the dry white Tuscans. Tim said he wanted use the song for auditions. It was a blessing to inspire him just that much.

Tim was a happy blessing and the blessing carried over when he returned to the States where he joined the original cast of Cats.

The joyous culmination of knowing him came upon visiting New York and seeing him dance and sing gloriously as Mr. Mistoffelees.

Go here to read about Tim when he opened in Cats.

Given his chosen profession not hearing from Tim seemed a matter of course and was accompanied by the hope that his success was continuing.

Life of course went on and once that threshold was crossed into the Age of the "Gay Plague" so much of life as was known was forever changed.

The Aids Memorial Quilt came to Philadelphia. There on the highest row was this panel:

Tim would be a magical cat forever.

The annual solidarity walk with those who have passed over and with those who live and thrive while the Plague is still with us has arrived again. This website and our team mates will once again ask for your support in helping to change the course of the epidemic. The face of it has changed over these past two decades and, therefore, it is time to remember the beautiful energy that was Tim and others like him. It is time to support those who are still with us in order to keep them with us until they lived to their fulfillment and ours.
Go here to the donation page. Thank you for your help last year and for this year.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Saturday Beefcake

For more than a few years Jack Scalia has provided fuel for much fantasy life. All My Children made a mighty mistake letting him go, although according to imdb.com it seems that he has been busy. This shot is from his Dallas days. It's been said that Rock Hudson was smitten with him. So who wouldn't be smitten with a guy who speaks both Spanish and Italian? Remember the Devlin Connection?

Anna Muffoletto's recipe for Polpettone, although not 100% beef seems approriate here, because it's mighty meaty.

1 small eggplant
olive oil (150 ml)
500 gr ground beef
250 gr ground pork
250 gr ground veal
bread crumbs 200 gr or so
parmigiano -- grated 100 gr or so
minced medium onion
3 eggs
salt and ground black pepper

Skin and dice the eggplant plant salt it and let it drain for about 20 minutes. Rinse, drain and dry and then saute with the olive oil and then set it aside.

Combine the remaining ingredients, add the eggplant. Then pour into an oiled loaf pan and bake for about 90 minutes at 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Reinvention Sometimes Is Just Being Who You Really Are

Just over a decade ago, Curtis Stigers was living the popstar dream that serves as the highest goal for many performers. A platinum album, hit singles, international tours with Elton John and Eric Clapton and featured spots on big studio soundtracks would seem to be the stuff of dreams, but while he's been very successfully marketed, Stigers was much more than a pop marketing phenomenon. He was, first and foremost, a musician, a veteran performer who had moved from Boise, Idaho bar bands (where he also fell under the tutelage of jazz great Gene Harris) to the lounges of Manhattan. Stardom was all well and good, but he had an artistic vision of his own, and the artistic talent to realize it.
Problem was, his dreams weren't the kind the Arista Records bean counters were inclined to support; so he set about the task of tearing down the career they'd laid out for him and re-establishing himself as a jazz singer. With the release of his third album for Concord Records, You Inspire Me, that transition seems to be pretty complete. While he may not play the big stages or sell the big numbers that were available to him in the pop world, he's making one great record after another. While his transition from pop star to jazz performer may be complete, though, his growth as an artist and performer continues, with the new release displaying an artist who has enough command of the tradition he works in to take wide ranging liberties with that tradition. You Inspire Me is Stiger's riskiest album, and arguably his best.
We talked about the career, the recording and jazz in general.

Go here to to catch the rest of this.

In the meantime the current news from the very talented Mr. Stigers follows:

Hello Everyone.

On Tuesday March 21st I'll be performing with my band in an exciting concert in Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center - New York City's celebrated new concert hall for all things jazzy. We'll be sharing the stage with jazz great, Wynton Marsalis. It should an exciting and diverse evening of music and I hope you can join us.

Call 212-721-6500 or visit the Jazz at Lincoln Center Box Office, say "jazz25" and save 25% on the performance! (discounts do not apply to Internet purchases)

This concert will also be a great warmup for our upcoming tour. We'll be spending April cruising around the U.K. and Ireland. Check out my complete schedule to find out exact places and times.

See you on the road...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Talk to the Hand

Mark Aaron James says: "Don't Come Alone"

Ok, so this is going to be the hardest email to write while remaining tactful. Hell, even that sentence had an unintended pun in it. Ya see, a few weeks back, I did a night of Green Day songs for the "Undercover Show."
While performing "Longview," I mentioned that it was about...well...pleasuring one's self. I off-handedly (unintentional pun again) joked, "wouldn't it be funny if we did a whole night of songs about masturbation."

Well, someone was paying attention and they nominated it for this week and it won. (You guys are a sick group and I love ya for it).

So, this Thursday will be all about sharing what you should be doing on your own. Hopefully, I won't be "Dancing with Myself." Just to insure several people hear me attempt "She Bop" and "Beat It" on the acoustic guitar, there will a valuable prize for any repeat audience member who brings a new person to the show . (Those who came last week can verify, it is a valuable prize).

So, don't come alone (that was intentional) to masturbation night at Mr. Deneheys, at Carmine at 7th Ave., downstairs at 8:30 PM this Thursday night.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Song of the Week

Love Me By Name
(Gore / Weston)

I tried so hard to be carefree
Rolling out of someone's bed
Into the sunshine
But the sun, oh, coming up
Doesn't always bring the light, oh
And somehow, somehow I feel, oh
It's just not right
No, not for me

Well it's been so long
Since I've been loved by name, oh-ho
Love me by name, ah
Love me by name
Come on, come on, ooh-hoo
Love me

Here I feel afraid, ooh
And I don't know why
You're surely not the first I've had, ah, oh
Who held me gently, yeah
Oh, who took the sweet time
Just to ask me about me
Well, well maybe this time
Oh god, let it be
Oh, it's such so, so, so long
Since I've been loved, oh, by name

Love me by name
Ah, love me by name
Come on and love me, oh baby
Yes, love me, aah, aah

Oh, love me by name, oh
Why don't you love me, ah
Come on, come on, ahh, ahh
Sweet baby
Oh won't you love me, yeah
Love me by name

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Cover Story, II POZ

The ever changing face of an epidemic

Editor's Letter-April 2006
by Regan Hofmann

Truth Be Told
Well, I finally did it. After threatening for four years (in my “Anonymous” column in the pages of this magazine) to disclose my status—I now stand before you. Please allow me to introduce myself: I’m your new HIV positive editor in chief (yes, that’s me on the cover). After living in secret for nearly a decade, I decided it was time to share my status and my story with you.

Why now? Because there’s a real need for positive people to be visible—AIDS needs to be in the spotlight again. In his speech on World AIDS Day last December, POZ founder Sean Strub alerted us to the dangerous decline in our influence and voice, particularly within the AIDS service organizations (ASOs) founded by people with HIV to protect and serve us. (Missed his speech? Read it on POZ.com.) I’ve always had tremendous appreciation for the work of AIDS activists of the ’80s and ’90s. Lately, their good work is being undermined. Changes in the Ryan White CARE Act, ADAP budget cuts and the Christian Right’s dangerous obsession with abstinence-only HIV prevention upset me. Awareness and prevention efforts in this country are not where they should be: AIDS is a preventable disease, yet last year there were more than 40,000 new infections in the U.S., including higher numbers of women and people of color than ever before. Not to mention that the stigma surrounding the disease, even after a quarter-century of education efforts, is still so severe that many with HIV feel they have to live in shame and secrecy.

Despite my desire to speak out, my temptation to remain silent was huge, right up to the moment I made my final decision. (After all, it’s one thing to disclose anonymously and another thing to put your name and face on a magazine about AIDS.) I liked feeling and being treated like a perfectly healthy person. But hearing too many times what people really think about HIV/AIDS and the people who have it—a frightening reality—inspired me to tell my tale and the truth of HIV.

From the moment I first read POZ in 1996, it empowered and inspired me by connecting me to the HIV/AIDS community and giving information I found invaluable when making decisions on how best to live with the disease.

POZ’s tradition of editorial excellence will be enhanced because we recently joined forces with AIDSmeds.com, one of the world’s most reliable sources on HIV/AIDS (stay tuned for more exciting news about AIDSmeds.com in May). Like Sean, AIDSmeds.com founder Peter Staley is HIV positive and a highly respected AIDS activist. Together, they helped establish an empowered AIDS movement. It’s an honor to be asked to help them with their ongoing mission—found in the pages of POZ and at both POZ.com and AIDSmeds.com. Fortunately, I have their help, as well as an outstanding staff.

As with many difficult things, it’s easier to turn away from the truth of HIV than it is to face it. But looking it square in the eye is the first step in beating it, and that goes for society at large as well as for every person with the virus. Here’s to continuing the fight.

Regan Hofmann
e-mail: editor-in-chief@poz.com

On the Cover of Rolling Stone

Heath Ledger: Lonesome Cowboy
He's a huge star and he's not happy about it

When actors become movie stars, it puts a strain on everybody. Family members get phone-called with no adjustment for the time difference; paparazzi stake out a fresh address; the rest of us lift our eyes to another personality we're obliged to have an opinion about. This is a drag for Heath Ledger, who is twenty-six and has learned to keep his personality locked in the house -- where it whines at doors, tears up furniture, gets into the yard at just the worst moments. "In the past," he says, "I've tried so hard to withhold myself -- even down to giving a smile." The actor, who is Australian, speaks with a commonwealth accent that's both arch and street. "I didn't want to be people's opinions of who I am or what I said," he says. One day, his girlfriend, Michelle Williams, wrote a song title -- "Old Man River" -- on his forearm. Ledger got a tattoo artist to run the needles over her words, the way a shopkeeper will frame his first dollar. The song comes from a sad musical, and contains this key advice: "He must know somethin', he don't say nothin'." So last summer, when the couple first saw Brokeback Mountain -- sitting in one of the poker-faced office towers of Manhattan -- it should have been perfect: no people, no opinions. The room went dark. Ledger rides a horse, falls in love with another man, breaks his heart, misses out on the chance of his life. The lights came up, Ledger and Williams moved through the lobby. And Ledger had no idea what he'd just seen. "I understood that it flowed, it was presented well. But whether it was good, whether it was bad -- we walked out not knowing what we'd just watched."

And sometimes the dog gets loose. When we meet, Ledger discusses a rough moment: Williams, playing his unlucky wife, slips to a doorway to find Ledger in an embrace with co-star Jake Gyllenhaal. In a tight shot, you see her face cloud over: Williams understands she'll never make the man she loves happy. Ledger wants to hear about audience response. I say they gasped. Ledger takes this in. "Yeah," he says. "Her poor character. Michelle played it so well -- just that look on her face." He shrugs. "Every time I see it, I can't help but laugh."

* * * *

It's months later, and everything has changed. David Letterman is doing the top ten signs of being a gay cowboy. Brokeback has become a cultural moment, a film to take sides about, the toll charge for entering the national conversation. Ledger arrived in Hollywood as a flyaway figure. Now he's receiving the media attention that usually goes to kids in wells. Oscar bowed deepest this year to Brokeback Mountain, crowning Ledger with his first nomination as Best Actor. Ledger retains his physical size and shape; in every other aspect, he's becoming larger.

Ennis Del Mar is Ledger's starmaker role, and if you strip off the coating, he's done it the old-fashioned way. It's the part Robert Redford made a career out of in The Way We Were: the love object who doesn't want to be loved, who flickers out of reach.

His approach to being interviewed is not dissimilar. For Ledger, reporters are the sadistic border guards of a country he must pass through. Last August, when he disliked an Australian interviewer's questions, he clammed up, peeled an orange on live TV. So when he wants to meet for lunch in New York, my canny move is to dress like him. When I arrive at a tidy New York espresso bar in shorts, T-shirt, crapped-up jacket, Ledger's eyes drift right past me. "Wouldn't have picked you for a journalist," he says. "Which is good."

The Lord gave Ledger marketable looks -- a Connery brow and jawline, framing a mouth peaked for kisses -- but lots of days he looks like he woke up inside an oil drum. He has the handsome star's mixed feelings: It's the invitation that gets you through the door, which you ditch in a flowerpot once inside the party. He's got a zip-up hoodie that says BROOKLYN, black earrings, wispy goatee, wraparound sunglasses he never once removes, Frankenstein boots.

Ledger clomps us into an Australian restaurant, where he becomes all slouch, wit and charm. He doesn't put stock in the nice word around his performance. "It's a relief," he says. "But I've had people say it" -- he laughs -- "about a lot of really bad films I've done." He's shrewd about work -- and generally, when actors dip into shop talk, you wish they'd get onto something interesting, like photocopier repair. "I'm always gonna pull myself apart and dissect it. I mean, there's no such thing as perfection in what we do. Pornos are more perfect than we are, because they're actually fucking." He's not a fastidious eater -- there's finger-sucking, a belch, an "excuse me." Throughout, he retains something slyly mocking, a driver submitting to the roadside breathalyzer when he knows he hasn't been near a drink. And though Ledger makes the crazy money actors make, he doesn't throw it around. The check arrives, Ledger goes for his wallet; I assure him I've got it. "Good, because I've only got, like, two dollars." If I hadn't brought cash? "Then we'd be fucked," he says. "We'd be back there doing the dishes."

Ledger did not grow up with money. "Or movies or art," he says. Like a million families: solid middle-class parents -- Kim Ledger designed race cars, Sally kept the home -- with a couple of kids, riding out a problem marriage. After dinner, his dad might crack open a Lee Iacocca boss-people-my-way paperback; his mom would find relief in Danielle Steel. Manning the VCR, Ledger would pop in Chuck Norris. "I'm not knocking Delta Force," Ledger says. "I love Chuck."

This was in Perth, western Australia -- Ledger calls it "the most isolated city in the world." He was eleven when his parents finally divorced. "I'm sure there was, like, one week where they didn't speak to each other." Otherwise, they became the kind of ex-couple, theorized by psychiatrists, who share family dinners and joint trips. For Ledger, the divorce provided a lifestyle boot camp. "I enjoyed being at one house for three weeks, then going, 'OK, right, I'm off,'" he says. "It set me up for this bohemian life I've been leading -- I feel like I've been traveling with the same bag since I was eleven."

At the same time, Ledger split with the child he'd been. "Every kid up to age thirteen thinks they are their parents, basically," he says. Ledger had crossed over. His long apprenticeship in disappointing people, in moving out under his own orders, began. His father had manly, family-line ambitions: Ledger would race cars ("I was prepped to be the next Michael Schumacher"). Instead, he stepped into the drama department.

Ledger had an advantage: He already looked like Heath Ledger. Golden hair, bold features -- like many child performers, his face seemed to already exist in a tight adult focus. His older sister was making feints toward an acting career. Ledger met her agent, walked out with an audition. "I started to realize that acting was gonna give me more money, and more time off," he says. "I didn't really give a shit. I was still pretty caught up in just being a teenager."

Here's a cool fact for Nostradamus fans. Ledger's first big role -- in the Australian TV series called Sweat -- was a gay bicyclist. And in A Knight's Tale, the 2001 film that would bring Ledger his first wide notice, there's the scene where -- for funny, apropos reasons -- Ledger receives a peck from a guy on his jousting crew.

Watching Sweat for the first time, the seventeen-year-old Ledger was in for another kind of shock. "I was crap," he says. The show chugged ahead. "I remember just burying my face in my hands, thinking, 'This is the end, it hasn't even begun.'"

Ledger enlisted his mother on a reassurance mission: He was really just terrible in the show -- wasn't he? He couldn't act at all -- could he? "And she just said, 'Well, that's OK.' The honesty kind of slipped out of her, in the most beautiful way. She didn't even bother with 'No, honey, you were great, I'm so proud of you.' No one else around you, except your mum, is going to tell you that you suck. She straight-up told me, 'There are other things to do in life.'"

Ledger does a rueful head shake. "I think that's the problem with a lot of actors in the industry. We all just think we're brilliant, you know? And ninety-eight percent of us are crap. And we've got to realize that, before we can improve."

He began picking apart his performance, the way he'd watched his dad reassemble car engines. He wasn't listening to the other actors; he wasn't connecting; he was doing way too much blinking. "I started to make changes," he says, "to . . . direct myself."

Halfway through eleventh grade, Ledger sat for his graduation exams, "got my marks and fucked off." ("I was a bit of a punk at that age. I had a problem with authority.") School is an airport terminal, organized waiting; he'd already caught his flight. He packed a car, drove the 2,000 miles to Sydney, which is where Australians go to meet their fates. He borrowed gas money from his parents, and never took anything from them again.

(Excerpted from RS 996, March 23, 2006)

Monday, March 13, 2006


It's clear that the intended victims of all this GOP shock and awe are us.

And so we whine about the unprecedented parade of immoral abominations and wonder why each new one isn't 'the one that brings them down.' We rub our eyes and spit, 'lying about a war?! Spying on our fellow citizens? Torture?!' in amazement that any single one of these near biblical catastrophes wasn't the straw that broke the camel's back.

Finally, deflated, we pick up the remote and lay back on the couch and say to ourselves, 'I guess the world isn't what I thought it was. If everybody thinks these things are okay and I'm the only one that thinks the entire White House should be emptied, I guess I'm just out of touch with my countrymen. Maybe I'm just overreacting and I need to get with the program. Hmmmm. The Oscars are on.'

This is from Tom Gilroy over at the Huffington Post. Go here

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Beast of A Niece

Sophia Loren is arguably Italy's most luminous if not most notable actress and movie star. What makes her all that is that above and beyond her unique beauty she is an incomparable actress. Never more so than in 1977's Una Giornata Particolare (1977) (A Special Day), Ettore Scola's masterpiece, a movie that is a most subtle and beautiful critique on contemporary culture. The IMDB has two viewer comments. This one is the shorter and comes from Luxembourg:

"This film literally took my breath away ! Both Mastroianni and Loren are fantastic actors, who can express a whole range of human feelings in just a look or a silence. This film is an unbelievable contrast : simplicity and sobriety in form but ultimate sophistication in content and in the actors' performance. I have never seen a film which raises so many questions at the same time : war, family, tolerance, women's condition, fanaticism, homosexuality, etc. Furthermore, it is a wonderful love story between two people who are actually too good for the world they live in. And last but not least, the contrast between the scruffy apartments and the beauty and elegance of Mastroianni and Loren is incredible. Mr. Scola achieved a masterpiece without make up, special effects or wonderful sceneries. When you have seen the film, you will understand that the special day was not for Mussolini and Hitler, who all the sudden seem very unimportant compared to what happened to the two characters. The day I have seen this film was definitely a special day for me as well, unforgettable ! It is just the most human film I have ever seen, a wonder of refinement."

It is noteworthy in that it was an Italian mainstream film, so to speak, that directly spoke to homosexuals as pariahs. It comes to mind now that Ms. Loren's niece Alessandra Mussolini, an MP from the neo-fascist Alleanza and also the Dictator's granddaughter, made this sound bite: "Better fascist than faggot" ("Meglio fascista che frocio.")

She seems to forget the fate of her grandfather and his mistress, perhaps Claretta Petacci ought to make a midnight visitation to the bleached blonde a la Jacob Marley to remind her about what happens to those who are not mindful of history's lessons. It is also noteworthy that the young Alessandra appeared in that film.

Italy for most Italians is a nation of pedigreeds. Alessandra is the exceptional bitch that proves the rule.

Italy by and large has a very tolerant culture. As a united political entity it is not even 150 years old. Prior to the 1860s it was just a geographical expression. Since its unification it has seen three types of government, although a case could be made for only two, since Fascism was actually in force under the Monarchy. Be that as it may, since its unification Italy has been home to many political persuasions.

It was an ongoing joke at how often the government 'fell' under various Christian Democratic coalitions and thereby causing elections. Italy had a terrorist problem decades before it happened in the United States. One need only go back to the Aldo Moro kidnapping and assassination to see its pinnacle. Italy as a geographic and political entity has survived ferocious and dangerous times and still managed to bring to the world a beautiful and significant culture, part of which for many centuries have been wonderful FROCI like Michelangelo Buonarotti and Pier Paolo Pasolini to mention only two.

In A Special Day, Antonietta, a Roman housewife from a fascist family develops a bond with her homosexual neighbour who is about to be brought to justice by the fascist government. It happens on a special day when the two axis demons Benito and Adolf meet. Antonietta's family has gone to the Piazza to celebrate while she remains home. Her pet bird flies out of an open window and is rescued by her neighbour Gabriele (Mastroianni). The scenes are interlaced with Mussolini's speeches in the background talking about the meaning of manhood. A poignant moment occurs when Antonietta runs from Gabriele after a moment of realization as he shrieks a list of Italian epithets regarding homosexuality at her.

Fortunately many Italians tend to be very informed about politics and are probably more sophisticated than Alessandra gives them credit. Still the electorate has kept Berlusconi's coalition in power for 5 years. And again if Alessandra thinks it is better to be fascist than gay, if only she could speak to her grandfather's mistress, who might have done better to hang out with some gay guy instead of a beast of a dictator.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Saturday Beefcake

In order to lessen the confusion, here is a pilfered and doctored recipe for beefcake from the UK. Less you confuse it with tube steak:

Spiced Beefcake

Spiced beefcake is a traditional meat loaf recipe using minced beef.

400 g fairly finely minced lean beef -- about a pound
225 g minced bacon -- about a half pound
1 minced, medium-sized onion
75 g minced mushrooms (about a cup)
handful of mixed powdered mace, cloves, cayenne, allspice, pepper
sea salt to taste
750 ml red wine, port or sherry
the whites of two eggs for binding

1. Mix all the ingredients together except the egg whites and let the mixture marinate an hour or two. Then mix in the whites.
2. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F). Pack the mixture into a baking dish of any shape. Bake it, uncovered, in a bain-marie for two hours. This definition from busycooks.about.com -- "A bain marie is a utensil and a cooking technique. One container with food to be cooked is placed in another, larger pan containing water that is at the simmering point. This method of cooking surrounds the food with very gentle heat and is used for cooking delicate dishes like custards or white sauces, or melting chocolates." While the above recipe could hardly be called delicate. This method is very good at getting it well cooked uniformly.
3. If you intend to eat it hot, cook it with a weight on top or it will become impossible to slice.
4. Serve it with the juices that have come from the meat, fat removed.

There aren't any recipes here but there's a page or two of beefcake -- Alec Musser's Unofficial Site
and of course Column's galleries of pictures, pilfered and otherwise, aim to satisfy the hunger in you.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Some Like It Hot. Some Are Just Stupid ...

...The gay scuttlebutt about the movie Spartacus has to do with the harmless scene between Tony Curtis and Larry Olivier which was restored in recent reissues of the film:

Marcus Licinius Crassus: Do you eat oysters?
Antoninus: When I have them, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: Do you eat snails?
Antoninus: No, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: Do you consider the eating of oysters to be moral and the eating of snails to be immoral?
Antoninus: No, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: Of course not. It is all a matter of taste, isn't it?
Antoninus: Yes, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: And taste is not the same as appetite, and therefore not a question of morals.
Antoninus: It could be argued so, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: My robe, Antoninus. My taste includes both snails and oysters.

Tony Curtis' Antoninus would have been fodder for the gay fantasy mill even without that scene not to mention the high level of electricity between him and Kirk Douglas in the classic epic.

Could Mr. Curtis have thought that he was somehow immune to the homosexual dream factory? Maybe Larry Olivier should have fed him more than a few innocuous lines of dialogue.

So it was with much trepidation that many heard prior to the Oscars when Mr.Curtis told Fox News's Bill McCuddy that he hadn't yet seen Brokeback Mountain and had no intention of doing so. He claims that other Academy members feel similarly. "This picture is not as important as we make it. It's nothing unique. The only thing unique about it is they put it on the screen. And they make 'em [gay] cowboys." Curtis reminded folks that his contemporaries wouldn't have cared for the highly acclaimed Best Picture nominee. "Howard Hughes and John Wayne wouldn't like it," Curtis said. ..The Left Coast Report points out that while Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon may have donned women's clothing for their film roles, at least they shaved their legs for the part.

Yes, how cute and enjoyable were the young Messrs. Curtis and Lemmon in drag in that very enjoyable classic flick. Mr. Lemmon's and Joe E. Brown's performances certainly go further in cinema history as opposed to Mr. Curtis' Cary Grant imitation. Cute but not Oscar worthy. Although his penchant for doing so puts Mr. Curtis in an interesting circumstance given what we now know about Mr. Grant.

Just to reiterate: It's pretty clear to me that an undetermined but not-miniscule percentage of Academy voters went for Crash the Tony Curtis way -- because it wasn't Brokeback Mountain, because they flat-out didn't see Brokeback, or just didn't feel good about supporting a film that messed with the iconic image of macho cowboys. Curtis said he wouldn't see it, an Academy-member uncle of a friend said the same thing, and I've heard or read about this same mindset among older Academy members from others around town. There were many Crash supporters who undoubtedly voted for it because they admired it the most...fine. (Let's presume that the majority of its supporters felt this way without homophobia clouding the issue.) But it's widely believed that others voted for it because it wasn't Brokeback Mountain.
I don't know what percentage, but with Ang Lee winning for Best Director I presume the overall margin was close. *-- Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere) *
There was one report that it was as close as 4 votes.

One can only wonder why the true homosexual scene in Spartacus doesn't get much attention i.e. when Antoninus dies in Spartacus' arms and they declare their true feelings for one another cloaking it in paternal and filial terms: "I love you, Spartacus, as I love my own father."

It's as if Shakespeare and Freud had collaborated: a forced sword fight to the death between two men who love each other and then a death scene's declaration of love, it's as if Ang Lee had directed. What would Howard and John have said?

Song of the Week

another from Ms. Laura -- Flim Flam Man

Hands off the man
The flim flam man
His mind is up his sleeve
And his talk is make believe
Oh lord
The man's a fraud
He's a flim flam man
Hands off the man
The flim flam man
He's the one in the Trojan horse
Making out like he's Santa Claus
Oh lord
The man's a fraud
He's a flim flam man
He's a fox
He's a flim flam man
Everybody wants him
The people and the police
And all the pretty ladies disarm
The beautiful gent
You know he has hardly a cent
He pays his monthly rent
With daily charm
Hands off the man
The flim flam man
His mind is up his sleeve
And his talk is make believe
Oh lord
The man's a fraud
He's a flim flam man
He's so cagey
He's an artist
He's a fox
He's a flim flam man
Don't believe him
He's a flim flam
Ol' road runner

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

They Eat Their Own

George Maharis' biography at imdb.com starts out: "A most handsome, virile, not to mention charismatic rebel in 60s Hollywood..."

A product of Astoria, Queens where there is to this day no shortage of handsome, virile and charismatic descendants of Greek immigrants, George initially started as a singer and managed to record a few albums actually ending up as a guest on Judy Garland's show even after achieving fame as a television actor. Perhaps it was his virility and charisma along with more than adequate physical attributes that brought him into acting. After going some of the usual routes to get there, including off-Broadway, George became a household name when his TV show Route 66 made its way into the Nation's living rooms during the first third of the 1960s.

From the Gay Fireside Companion (Leigh W. Rutledge):

"Route 66 -- about two idealistic adventurers criss-crossing the country in a souped-up Corvette, in search of truth, jobs and girls ... it catapulted both Maharis and his co-star, Martin Milner, to fame. ... Maharis received hundreds of fan letters a week ... mostly from women ... Among producers and directors, however, Maharis was regarded more warily: as enormously talented but also, difficult, inflexible and arrogant.

"In 1963, Maharis was suspended from Route 66, ostensibly because of repeated absences from the set due to a bad case of hepatitis."

IMDB goes on:

"The seductive image of a fast rising star apparently got to George and he proved increasingly troublesome as he grew in stature. A bout with hepatitis and his ongoing clashes with both producers and co-star Milner led to his leaving the hit series after three years. The show didn't survive long without him. Brash and confident, he aggressively pursued films but found mostly duds...he was never able to recapture his former 'bad boy' glory. An affirmed bachelor, his later years were spent focusing on impressionistic painting. He is now fully retired."

IMDB fails to mention some important events in Mr. Maharis' life. Leigh W. Rutledge was not about to pass them by:

"He was first arrested in 1967 in the restroom of a Hollywood restaurant, and was charged with 'lewd conduct' after he allegedly solicited an undercover vice officer...

"Another arrest followed in 1974, for 'performing an act of oral copulation' with a 33-year-old male hairdresser in a gas station washroom in West Los Angeles. Maharis was booked on charges of 'sex perversion' and 'lewd conduct.' He pleaded not guilty. Later, the charge was reduced to 'trespassing,' and Maharis entered a plea of no contest. He was fined $500 and given three years probation."

George inherited an undisclosed sum of money from a benefactor and he retired from public life. One can only speculate on the wisdom he might impart to today's 'industry' types. If only that other musical George, Mr. Michael, descendant of Greeks had hearkened to history and not repeated it.

By the way, unlike many of his contemporaries Maharis never officially married. He didn't even make a hurried, harried flight into one after those arrests. Never had a beard. He wouldn't have looked so good with one. Once a rebel ...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Man Behind the Curtain

When Robert Mitchum blew into Italy to film part of the mini-series Winds of War he was 64 years old. That didn't stop Anna, the Austrian wardrobe girl from falling in love with him. For all the good it did they ended up in bed according to Anna but Mitchum was unable to perform. Her English gay male counterpart in the wardrobe department declared that Anna's aim was off: the reason Bob couldn't perform was that he much more preferred boys.

It wasn't too long afterwards at the Hotel Lido in Venice when Mitchum was noticed blowing kisses across the bar. He was almost unrecognizable at that point given his state, but it was most assuredly Mr. Mitchum as another member of the cast pointed out and eventually introductions were made. The display that ensued after that encounter did nothing but reinforce the notion that Bob did definitely prefer the company of men. It was especially funny later on while he made drunken faces and gestures behind his wife's love seat over which he eventually fell face forward. Mrs. Mitchum encouraged her husband to go to bed which he did but not without letting the two males in the group know what was expected of them, of course, all the while behind his wife's back.

Mitchum simply enhanced his bad boy reputation by adding a different hue to it. A very different hue.

In her autobiography Shirley MacLaine describes an aspect of her affair with Mitchum in that there was a wall she could not get beyond. Seeing Mitchum in that atmosphere and getting to know him as he threw caution to the wind indicates just what was behind that wall Shirley couldn't knock down.

Robert Hofler's book about Henry Willson, The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson, is a very interesting and revealing read, which is the reason a review has been posted in the Critiques section of the main site. Of the many scandals recounted in those tales of Hollywoodland in the 50s one has to do with Mitchum's arrest for smoking marijuana. The arrest only seemed to make him more popular. His response: “Booze, broads, it’s all true … Make up more if you want." The second part of that statement is the more revealing. Talk about enhancing a reputation!

Of all the scrambling and hiding of the truth in that era or in any era for that matter, it seems that the departed Robert Mitchum knew exactly what to do to create an image -- and one that didn't die with him.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Oscar that didn't go up the mountain

Last night resulted in a few Oscars for "Brokeback Mountain" – most notably Ang Lee for Best Director – but the film failed to take the top honour.

Should we be surprised? Not really.

Despite its occasional dalliance with controversy, Hollywood is, at its base, conservative, non-risk-taking. For every "Midnight Cowboy" there are a dozen winning films that are neither interesting nor thought-provoking. "Crash", while certainly not firmly in the latter category, really says nothing new. At its core – race relations in Los Angeles. Ho hum. But, it is middle-America enough to be comfortable ground for the voters.

So is that the problem with "Brokeback Mountain"? Yes, and no

According to Larry McMurtry, who did win an Oscar for best adapted screenplay for Brokeback, "Perhaps the truth really is, Americans don't want cowboys to be gay."

Rumours circulated for a few months among insiders that the film didn't stand much of a chance. Why? Because too many of the male voters were uncomfortable with its theme and some of them were even planning not to see it. If true, it's not exactly an even playing field.

But this speaks to something else. These same (or similar) voters were comfortable with Tom Hanks as a gay man dying of AIDS in "Philadelphia" and with Philip Seymour Hoffman as the fey "Capote". Surely then, being gay can't be the problem.

Yes, it can be.

Neither of these characters or films address the every day, common experience of being gay. Homosexuality is a sub-text, almost an afterthought. A man with AIDS and a stereotypically lisping fag are sufficiently far enough removed from the experience of the skittish voters so as to allow them to classify them as "others." They can distance themselves from those realities, because they can in no way become their realities.

Not so with "Brokeback Mountain." What it means to be homosexual is at the core of the movie. It explores how men, caught in inescapable circumstances of their own or of others making, deal with it.

Ennis and Jack are regular, masculine guys. They are married, they have kids, they have money problems, they drink too much, they brawl. Their lives are familiar. Too familiar. It is this commonplaceness that sets the hesitant voters on edge and touches too close to home

Even more threatening is that the film is about love between two men – sexual, passionate, longing, at times brutal, unfulfilled but all-consuming. At first blush, that too may seem foreign to the voters, but I would question who among them hasn't experienced something similar. That two men could feel the same should make them appreciate the universality of what it means to love.

But that's where the problem arises. To accept love between two men, they must accept homosexuality and the physical acts that go along with it. They must acknowledge that there really isn't any difference no matter what the gender of the person one loves and that sex is one expression of that love. For some, or perhaps for many, they cannot or will not cross that imaginary barrier.

An Oscar Winning Performance

1969: Appearing on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, Truman Capote disparaged Jacqueline Susann, author of Valley of the Dolls, as looking just "like a truck driver in drag." The remark ignited howls of laughter from the studio audience -- and sent Susann to her lawyer ... to file suit for libel. Although Susann eventually decided to let the matter drop. Capote continued in the offensive: he told audiences that she didn't sue him because he'd planned to bring a truck driver into court, put him in a dress, and let the jury see for themselves just exactly how much Susann did indeed look like a truck driver in drag.

From Leigh W. Rutledge's The Gay Fireside Companion

Also pictured: Truman Capote in drag >>

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Time to take a deep breath ...

... it's over. The highlight of the evening was Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep. How thoroughly funny and real -- a perfect Altmanesque presentation.

Brokeback Mountain wins ...

... in so many ways even if it's shut out of the Oscars.

It has done every thing it was meant to do. First and foremost it has made money. It has made more money than expected. It was also given the same marketing push from its distributors as if it were a mainstream film and remained in the top ten for over two months.

It was created with great care and given a noteworthy cinematographic treatment. It is Ang Lee's paean to American Culture in its struggle to become accepting and multi-dimensional. It is the story of star crossed lovers portrayed with bravura.

Heath Ledger proved his mettle. Michele Williams' acting is full of nuance and crescendo. Jake Gyllenhaal is every man looking for freedom. Ann Hathaway's final scene in so many ways tells precisely the story of what the wife experiences.

It portrays men loving men in all their attributes as sensual beings which is where it breaks ground for real.

It is already a classic. It is already noteworthy.

This is a great year for the Academy all around. Among the nominees there are no exceptions that prove the rule. Every nominee for Best Picture paints a revealing picture of an aspect of the Culture that it comes from. Two of them go back to the 60s and one to the 50s to do so, emphasizing perhaps a demographic that helped make Lee's film a moneymaker or perhaps pointing out that for many those decades are a watershed period. One of the films is definitely required viewing thanks to George Clooney who has achieved status as a cinematic jack of all trades.

Awards being what they are -- very often arbitrary according to the whim of the academy members or the antics of the potential nominee or winner. Just ask Russell Crowe. Very often it depends on the past achievements of the winner. Should Paul Giamatti make it across the winner's line tonight last year's Sideways will be the reason according to many. Some will say it because he is verily talented. The truth is he is very talented and his good fortune comes form the fact that he is a working actor.

The oft quoted dictum about it being an honour just to be nominated is quite true, because for a huge percentage of actors it would be an honour merely to be working.

Tonight will be a memorable award ceremony for a lot of people. Many are hoping that acceptance and tolerance will be the winners. Of course, many will be watching as if it's Cinema's Super Bowl.

Jon Stewart, always a comedic giant, will be the one of the reasons to watch from the very beginning.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Love Is Gospel

Listening to Laura Nyro through the haze of post-adolescent trauma that not only included sex and drugs with a man who was the rebellious product of a German Catholic household and nonetheless noncomital regarding his own sexuality but not the sexual act itself. Nyro's music and passion seemed the perfect accompaniment to the post-Stonewall personal turmoil that many newly committed gay people experienced.

From Norman McKendrick in New Poets New Music, 1970:

"Laura Nyro sings from velvet shadows, even when she sings of joy and and the beat is insistently happy. She has something to say, something to attend to. She is a little girl dressed up in her mother's clothes and her language is poetry.

"... Her love comes in the end to the pain of incompatibles: god in a world; god in a man, god in all, in everything. But where is it found? On a trip. In love. In ups and downs. Can you hold it?

"... She gropes, really she claws at an answer. To find your love in god, to hide in a womb god, a mama god, is wrong, is to be bound, is to die, is to fail to mine the gold, to fail to realize and reveal the god in yourself, which is the only real god available.

"...We hear in her the cry of lovers, of poets, of saints since anyone started to care. She resisted, I think, but in the end is a woman.

"Much more could be said, but this is the core: the child in the woman needing, wanting, fearing, hiding, revealing, exulting, seeking, and always begging: love me. And she is perfectly correct: love is surely gospel."

McKendrick definitely gets to the nitty gritty of Nyro's art, but he misses some of the grown up aspects. It was written before Christmas & the Beads of Sweat the source for our current song of the week -- an album which showcased more creativity and more complex emotions.

Laura, like her contemporary Dusty, left us too soon, due to the ravages of cancer.

Part of her legacy is a son. Another part was that she, too, was a daughter of Sappho.