I OBJECT(ify): Tony Award Nominations and other WTF?’s

Someone recently suggested that I was opinionated and judgmental. Actually, it wasn’t a suggestion, but, rather, an unabashed and full on declaration, although, to be fair, it was in response to my having first made the exact same accusation about her. She, however, used this blog as evidence that I was judgmental.

Hmph. Now hear this, I do have rather strong opinions about things and I do work on the foundational assumption that my opinions are more right than wrong, so, it NATURALLY follows that those with whom I agree are smarter and better informed and in all ways superior to those who disagree with me. However, that doesn’t mean I’m judging you ignorami who don’t understand that I know best.

I think we can all agree that that settles that. And if you don’t agree, well, not to judge, but you are WRONG!

Quinto, Zachary Instagram

Zachary Quinto’s latest Instagram. He has quite an admirable body of work.

Speaking of wrong, the Tony Award nominations [see them HERE at Broadway.com] were announced this morning and some very deserving work was, in the words of Julie Andrews, “egregiously overlooked.” For example, the brilliant revival of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie  was deservedly nominated in Best Revival of a Play, Best Director, and earned nods for three of its four actors; Cherry Jones, Celia Keenan Bolger, and Brian J. Smith, but neglected, EGREGIOUSLY, was its lead actor, Zachary Quinto. I am horrified. He was quite simply, BRILLIANT in the role, called by those who knew Mr. Williams the very best Tom ever, closest to the vision Mr. Williams dreamed and, quite rightly, closest to the energy of Mr. Williams himself who wrote the role as autobiography. WTF? Well, thank goodness I’ve Mr. Quinto’s body of work on American Horror Story to watch again and again, and his body — period — from his latest Instagram to … uhm … watch. Yeah. That. Again and again.

jeremy jordan

Jeremy Jordan. Because.

And that’s not the ONLY ridiculous — NOT THAT I’M BEING JUDGMENTAL — oversight. The delightful, moving, magical, fantastical, tuneful musical, Big Fish, garnered not one single nomination. Who do you have to fuck in New York to get a Tony? And by that I do not refer to the rumors about Arthur Laurents and his Brian Singer-ing of Matt Cavenaugh and Jeremy Jordan that they might get the lead male ingenue role in the West Side Story revival. Honestly, Big Fish was one of my favorite musicals since Grey Gardens and the score by Mr. Andrew Lippa has everything a Broadway musical ought to including the glorious I Don’t Need a Roof, the YouTube of which I post about once a week. Speaking of, how did Kate Baldwin not get nominated as Best Leading Actress in a Musical? And Norbert Leo Butz not nominated for Leading Actor? WHAT? SO FRUSTRATING!

And so, bad enough Big Fish didn’t get a nomination, but, come on people, The Bridges of Madison County didn’t get a Best Musical nomination either? Why? I’ve just rapturized about this show yesterday in this blog [CLICK HERE FOR THAT ENTRY]. At least Jason Robert Brown was nominated for Best Score. But, Bartlett Sher was robbed not being nominated for Best Direction. That direction was flawless.

And why, praytell, was Bobby Steggert not nominated for Big Fish and/or Mothers and Sons? He is from Frederick. My town. He should be nominated EVERY YEAR.

Oh well, just my opinion, I’m not judging the assholes who made these mistakes.

Enough about the Tony Award noms. EXCEPT, I quit smoking last year on the day of the Tony Awards so I would always remember the date. Now, what with all the ridiculous omissions in this year’s noms, I might be forced to take up nicotine again. I feel — somehow — personally affronted.

KYstoreSpeaking of affronted, Joe.My.God. blog [CLICK HERE] posted this story this morning about a Kentucky store that has posted signage saying it welcomes Christians and gun-carriers but NOT people who swear or are gay. Honestly, they’ve a slash through the rainbow. Have you ever? What a world.

Herald Embroidery [CLICK TO SEE THEIR SITE AND WRITE THEM] has since posted a clarification stating:

“While we will serve all customers who treat our place of business with respect, we reserve the right to refuse to produce promotional products that promote ideas that are not in keeping with our consciences. This includes, but is not limited to content promoting homosexuality, freemasonry, the use of foul language, and imagery which promotes immodesty.”

Well, not to judge — because, you know, “judge not that ye shall not be called an asshole” and all that sort of rot, but, really? I sent them the following message:

You are despicable. Judge not. This selective reading and application of the bible to justify hatred and discrimination is the greatest sin of all.

Not judging. Just saying, my opinion. Speaking of not judging and opinion, and judging and being opinionated, Frank Bruni wrote a gorgeous OpEd piece in the New York Times about the judging and opinionated and iconic Mr. Larry Kramer. CLICK HERE TO READ IT. We gays, we owe Mr. Kramer a huge debt of gratitude and while some have judged him harshly for his combative and confrontational manner, I think history will more harshly judge those who sat in silence while hundreds of thousands of us died, were bullied and discriminated against, and told we couldn’t order a t-shirt that promoted our homosexuality. And so, for Mr. Kramer, I eschew politeness in this moment and say, “FUCK YOU HERALD EMBROIDERY IN KENTUCKY!”

No gays. But bring guns. Oh my. Reminds me of this recent quote from Bill Maher “Remember, for every liberal with a cause who makes you go, “Oh, just shoot me!”, there’s a conservative with a gun who will.” Bang. Bang.

Silence equals death. And the following promotes my homosexuality and my taste in men, proving, once again, that I am equally adept at objecting and objectifying.

April 29 1 April 29 2 April 29 3 April 29 4 reading edited tumblr_lyv88fgRpm1qbte6oo1_500

 

 

 

 

THEATRE REVIEWS: “Mothers and Sons”

mothers and sons marqueeMothers and Sons, by Terrence McNally, starring Tyne Daly, Frederick Weller, Bobby Steggert, Grayson Taylor, at The Golden Theatre [CLICK HERE FOR OFFICIAL SHOW SITE AND TICKETS]

Full disclosure: (Why can’t I ever write a review without a Full Disclosure?) Bobby Steggert is from my home town, where I still (again) live, Frederick, Maryland and though he and I never worked together — which is some sort of weird miracle – I taught virtually everyone in his age group and cohort while he lived here, we shared a singing teacher, and some of my best friends and dearest children are his actual friends though we were never introduced prior to this weekend after I saw this show.

I have long loved the work of Terrence McNally and Tyne Daly, so when it came time to choose shows for my birthday wish list, Mothers and Sons was a no brainer. From the moment the curtain rose, exposing a beautiful New York apartment and Tyne Daly as Katharine, wrapped in the armor of her second-hand, full length fur and Frederick Weller as Cal, wearing clothes and mien that communicated without question that he had not been expecting any visitors, this one in particular, I was riveted by the artistry and construction of this piece of theatre — No, not just theatre, but, even more importantly, History. Capital H, History.

Long story short, Katharine is the mother of Cal’s deceased lover, the son she never fully accepted. Cal is now married to the fifteen years younger Will and they have a son. Katharine, recently widowed, has ostensibly come to return to Cal her dead son’s journal that Cal long ago sent to her, a journal neither has yet read. But there is, of course, much more going on, and much more at stake.

I know (and hope) that it will someday soon be inconceivable to people, both gay and straight, what it was like to be a gay man during the 20th century — specifically the 1960’s through the early 2000’s — and I fervently pray that some day the ways we define and limit people by gender and the gender of those to whom they are attracted is a distant memory. I am the sort of Pollyanna who wants to think that we will achieve a Utopian world in which gender race age religion size etcetera will be details that have nothing to do with how we are seen or what we are allowed, that the ONLY thing that will matter is the quality of one’s soul. I want to think that.

But it isn’t so now and it certainly wasn’t so in recent history. And being a gay man and living through the age of AIDS (which, by the way, isn’t over yet) and the indignities and the hate and the perfectly legal and — even — expected and accepted by the mainstream discrimination was a horror from which I do not expect ever to actually recover.

And I certainly won’t forget it. And the generations to come should not forget it either. We need to know the history. When Cal speaks McNally’s words about the horrors of AIDS and having been gay during that era some day being a quaint footnote in history books, I sobbed without shame. I sobbed because — like Cal and his dead lover, I too fought a fight the details of which will never be known. I spent my life changing minds one by one, and in the middle of it had to spend years in fear that who I loved, how I loved, might have been a death sentence, watching my peers and my cohort die and watching as government did NOTHING for YEARS to ease the ache, the pain, nothing to stop the disease.

Attention — as another playwright once said — must be paid. Mr. McNally pays it, in spades, and without polemic or lecture or judgment. He tells a story that tells the story. And Katharine is not unlike many people I have known, basically good, decent, loving people whose fear and ignorance caused them to be cruel, to offer silence where they ought to have offered love, who thought they had the right to judge and sometimes, even, the obligation to judge.

The world is still full of Katharines. And we do ourselves no favors — we who have been judged because of our genders ages colors religions sexualities and labels ad infinitum — by hating Katharines. We must strive NOT to judge as they have, but, rather, to understand. Not to be silent and accept their ignorance or hate, but to see beyond it, to change minds with love.

Mr. McNally does so with his work. I honor him and his journey and his experience and the ways in which he has shared it with us.

Mothers and Sons John Golden Theatre

Bobby Steggert, Grayson Taylor, Frederick Weller, Terrence McNally, Tyne Daly

As for this production, I stopped weeping long and often enough to laugh and appreciate it. Funny. Touching. Well wrought and constructed. Tyne Daly is a glorious presence, her eyes transparent screens to her soul. She plays a woman who might be called despicable and makes you want to embrace her, and yet Ms. Daly does not pander nor soften the sharp, unloving edges of the character, she simply reveals in moments of such clarity and insight this woman’s fear and loneliness and anger that she has never, herself, been seen.

Frederick Weller was me in many ways. An older gay man, still enmeshed in what it was and how it was before, amazed and abashed and astonished at how it is now, and still not quite sure in which of those worlds he really belongs. I thought the manner in which he radiated his love for the younger Will, and his surprise at that love, and his gratitude, and yet his reticence to really believe it, somehow still connected to what was, was simply brilliant and lovely and sad and moving.

And Mr. Steggert, well, yes. He was. He simply and truly was. That he was playing a novelist with no novel yet, ha, that was enough for me. On top of that he managed, somehow, to radiate the energy of a younger gay man who is impatient with the past, with the history, but still, a little in love with it — well, he turned what could have been a caricature — a role that might have come off in lesser hands as a symbol rather than a person — into a living, breathing, I would like to marry him too human being. Lovely work. (Let me add that I also had the honor of seeing Mr. Steggert on the closing night of Big Fish in which he was equally marvelous. Believe me, if you lived in Frederick, as do I, you would be bursting with pride — and you — unlike me, did NOT get to see Mr. Steggert as Joseph many years ago in that Lloyd Webber Dreamcoat thing. So, there!)

In short — though not so short, really — I laughed, I cried, I recognized, I gasped, I argued along, I grasped at the hope, I saw the past, I envisioned the future, I thought, I remembered, I experienced along with Cal and Will and Katharine and Bud (the son) all the ups and downs and ins and outs that Katharine’s visit brought about.

Katharine, mother of Andre. Because, in the end, we must all find those who see us not just as someone’s mother or son or lover or any other label-ed thing, but, indeed, as someone with a name.

We must all be seen and have our names spoken to us, with love, with appreciation of who we are.

I am Charlie. And here I am, going. Thank you for reading me.

Please, go see this play.

 

 

Theatre Reviews: “Bridges of Madison County”

bridges marqueeThe Bridges of Madison County, Book by Marsha Norman, Music & Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, Directed by Bartlett Sher, Starring Kelli O’Hara and Kevin Kern at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. [CLICK HERE FOR OFFICIAL SITE AND TICKETS]

 

 

Watch this.

 

Fair and full disclosure: I think Jason Robert Brown is an under-appreciated genius. If the world were in any way fair, the arrival of a new musical by Mr. Brown would occasion the fireworks and media coverage akin to a SuperBowl or  summer blockbuster super-hero film. He would be heralded and showered with accolades and his songs would be heard everywhere, twenty-four hours a day. His music is never less than stunning, its melodies and leaps both surprising and inevitable, completely new and still speaking a soul language that is ancient, and those lyrics; holy mother of all that is holy, those lyrics so breathtakingly – make – you – gasp truthful that it is clear he is channeling the pain and love and light from the universal heart and soul of experience we all share. He is ridiculously brilliant, prodigiously gifted, a blessing.

I defy you to listen to the following song without being moved, without wanting to see this musical with its score full of such glorious, soaring, romantic, achingly true and beautiful songs. Listen:

jason robert brown

Jason Robert Brown, Kelli O’Hara, Steven Pasquale – opening ight of Bridges, photo by Bruce Glikas at Broadway.com

And Kelli O’Hara isn’t bad either. That voice. That acting. That (here I go again) truth. There was so much honesty in her performance, so much depth of fearless feeling. And, THAT VOICE. I am not usually a fan of sopranos but THAT VOICE. Her opening aria, To Build A House, very nearly brought down the house in which we all sat. The music soars and dips and builds and teases and tells us where she’s been and how she got there and where we are going and during the course of such a beautiful delivery of such a brilliant song we, the audience, are given the additional gift of glorious staging by a fantastic and committed ensemble on a phenomenally suggestive yet simple set that is stunningly lit.

I knew that I would love the music, but I had no idea how much I would adore and admire and marvel at everything in this show. The direction is fantastically evocative of what it is to live in a small town, what it is to love an impossible love, what it is to surrender that love because it would hurt others, and what it is to love beyond reason, outside of reality, and, too, to lose that love, to lose other loves, to lose one’s own self in the choices one has made.

And, holy crap, was I pissed when I got my program and it informed me that Steven Pasquale was out? Well, yes and no — full disclosure again — I have LONG been stalking Laura Benanti, and I’d been feeling guilty that I was going to see her ex-husband in a show. So, I didn’t. I saw Kevin Kern — who is, forgive me, NOT an understudy, but, rather, the standby — and if Mr. Pasquale is any better an actor, any better a singer, any better looking in a pair of tight jeans and shirtless, any sexier with Kelli O’Hara — well then, it is a good thing I missed him, because as it was, by the time he was done singing his first song I was not only also in love with the character of Robert, but having to physically restrain myself from rushing the stage and wrapping myself around Mr. Kern’s legs, pleading with him to love me as his character loved Francesca — AND SING FOR ME 24 HOURS A DAY.

Holy shit. In case you couldn’t tell, I LOVED THIS SHOW.

Now, I have spent most of my life performing and directing and listening to and seeing and loving musicals and theatre, so, were there things I would have changed? Yes. But these were cavils and tiny complaints about decisions and choices made by people of such gargantuan talent that I say to myself, “What do I know?” For example, we were treated to Kelli O’Hara stepping out of a bathtub at the same time as Mr. Kern was off-stage in a shower. I wanted to see him in the shower. You see what I mean? It wasn’t, however, JUST that I wanted to see Mr. Kern naked (but I do, I really, REALLY do) but for dramaturgic reasons: as in, metaphorically both characters are cleansing themselves for the other, a baptism of sorts, a holy rite of readiness, and I felt we should either see both of them or neither of them doing so; to just see her made it somehow more important for her, and I don’t think the story works if that is the case. (See how I justified my hunger for naked singing actors? I was a HELL OF A director!) Too, it seemed somehow anachronistic to me that a teen boy was smoking marijuana at a state fair in 1965.

And, honestly, I never read the novel or saw the film of this story. It is NOT my kind of story, not really. I did not believe that you could make me believe a love story in which a few days would last a lifetime. But I did. And that I did is due to the book of Marsha Norman, the music and lyrics of Jason Robert Brown, the direction of Bartlett Sher (the brilliant conceit of the towns people always on stage and moving the set), and the acting of Kelli O’Hara (surely this will finally win her that Tony Award) and Kevin Kern and the rest of the cast.

Go. Now. At the very least, buy the CD.

 

 

The New York Birthday Chronicles: 24 Beautiful Hours, 2 Beautiful Shows, 5 Beautiful Friends

Alas, my birthday month is just about ended. Huzzah, it is ending with a huge, fantastic bang. I am still recovering from my whirlwind trip to NYC with my near and dear ones which began with a Friday night slumber party and ended with me sleeping most of the day Sunday. But here is a brief tour of the tour, although I will be reviewing the two Broadway shows we saw at greater length in another entry (coming soon).

Friday, April 25

I arrived at Sue and Pat’s house at about 9:30p.m. Good neighbor friends visiting, drinking ensued. Cody arrived around 11:15. Drinking continued for a bit but mostly we were all in bed by midnight after having agreed to rise at 5:30 and who would take their allotted five-minute shower in what order.

Saturday, April 26

5:30a.m. We rose. We coffee-d. We showered. By 6:35 a.m. we were headed for White Marsh and the MegaBus. We stood in line next to a Mother and Daughter from Walkersville on their first trip to the city.  They were not seeing shows, which is fine since their idea of good shows had to do with some of my least favorite musicals which, sadly, seem to have huge appeal to the undiscriminating and unwashed masses. At around 8:15 we en-bus and my favorite seats at top of stairs on second level with extra leg-room are open, into which Cody and I lunge, and across the aisle are two more, conveniently, for Sue and Pat.

Charlie and Pat

Pat and I at falafel stand

Noon-ish. We arrived at 28th and 6th. Cody, Sue, Pat and I hot-footed it uptown to a falafel stand near the Algonquin where we scarfed down some scrumptious street-food and then headed into Algonquin for cocktails. I complained bitterly the entire time about what Marriott has done to the Algonquin. Pat suggested I should perhaps shut up or find another place to drink; I suggested he did not know me as well as I thought he did if he thought I would surrender a century of tradition to the Marriott Corporation and suffer the wrath of the ghosts of the Round Table habituees. I sipped my $23 dollar cocktail and Pat let slip that he and Sue had recently patronized ChickFilA. I was appalled. Cody suggested I was sometimes overly dramatic. I suggested he should choke on HIS $23 cocktail and that they all might remember this was MY BIRTHDAY TRIP.

Group theatre

From L to R, Me, Pat, Sue, Cody, Andrea (The fabulous Alison is photographer) outside BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY

Cody and Charlie theatre

Me and Cody, who has just lost the toss and has to sit next to me, well-known sobber, during the show.

1:45-ish. We meet up with Alison and Andrea outside the Schoenfeld Theatre and prepare to see Jason Robert Brown’s latest musical, The Bridges of Madison County. We are seated, 2 and 2 and 2 in third, fourth, and fifth rows in ridiculously glorious seats gotten by Andrea. Because it is my birthday trip, I am in second row. Because he is defenseless and the sweetest, Cody is stuck sitting with me, the well-known sobber. We open the program to see that the male lead is out and stand-by is in. We worry.

3:00ish. Intermission. The well-known sobber has not disappointed. Nor has the stand-by, Kevin Kern. Nor has Kelli O’Hara, the female lead. well-known sobber suggests another libation. Cody and I each have a $14 glass of wine. The $14 is no doubt due to its being served in a sippy-cup, which I find both fascinating and appalling on many levels but thanks to the residual buzz of the earlier Algonquin cocktail and the re-buzz brought on by shot-gunning the sippy-cup of cheap cabernet, I do not go on at my sometimes over-dramatic length about the issue to Cody.

Cody and Charlie at Bridges

Cody trying to make me laugh as much as possible BEFORE show starts so I will cry less during the show. Silly boy.

4:15-4:30ish. The show ends. I am a sobbing, wet-faced, emotionally exhausted wreck of a man. The group is presented with dinner options. While I am a well-known sobber, and at least three of the six of us are well-known control-freaks, all six of us are nearly pathologically incapable of making decisions. I break the mold and say I would really like to eat at Joe Allen’s. We walk the few blocks there and, despite my complete and utter lack of belief in the existence of anything divine, some Divine Intervention occurs and we not only do not have to wait, but the ONE table they have left is a six top.

Andrea and Charlie SMILING at Joe Allens

Me, SMILING, yes, SMILING, and my dear Andrea, at Joe Allen’s.

Alison and Stalked Man at Joe Allens

My dear, DEAR, Alison at Joe Allen’s – we really wanted this photo because I was SURE the man behind her was someone I should know – not that I don’t LOVE AND ADORE ALISON! But, who is that man?

smith's

Smith’s, where we stopped for a drink after the dinner drinks and before the pre-show drinks. I love New York.

6:30ish. Dinner has ended. It was delicious. I had three and a half glasses of wine. NOT in sippy-cups. Everyone made me laugh at least once. Everyone made me feel loved over and over again. We headed toward the next theatre. We stopped at a bar. The bar was called Smith’s Bar. Yes, yes it was. Cody bought us a round. I had a large Brooklyn lager.

7:30ish. We got to the Golden Theatre. We took our seats, all of us in a row in the second row for Mothers and Sons. mothers and sons marqueeWe knew it was a cry-fest. It was decided without rancor but not without some snark that the seating arrangement would involve Cody being on one side of me and Andrea on the other, thus insulating Sue, Alison, and Pat from my sobbing. Cody and I decided to go the bathroom before the show. Sue met us in the theatre basement where a souvenir stand was conveniently located next to a bar. She was buying a t-shirt. While we waited, Cody and I, never ones to waste an opportunity, bought our own souvenirs that looked and tasted suspiciously like tequila shots. (Note to Golden Theatre Bar: Please stock SILVER PATRON, Jose Cuervo is NOT the preferred Tequila of true drinkers- by whom I mean, me and Cody.) We got Sue a wine in a sippy cup because we wanted her to have the experience. Unlike us, she did not shoot it, but, rather, savored it and kept the cup.

9:30ish. The show was over. So was I. Such a moving script. Some really moving performances. And my first time seeing Tyne Daly, live and in person on stage. Alison had sent a note backstage to Bobby Steggert, rising Broadway star and originally from Frederick, worked with and friends with everyone I know although, somehow, he and I never worked together, and other than me being in the audience of a few of his shows in Frederick in those olden days and now, in New York, I don’t think we were ever even in the same room – although we did share a voice teacher and, as I said, tons of friends. In any event, after the show, we stayed long enough for Alison to talk to Mr. Steggert, who I have now met, and who, in addition to being ridiculously talented, is quite erudite, well-bred, and lovely to people hanging at the stage door after shows. Lovely guy at the end of a lovely show nearing the end of a lovely day with my lovely friends.

Alison and Bobby

The lovely and talented Alison back-alley at MOTHERS AND SONS with the lovely and talented Bobby Steggert.

We went our separate ways, Alison and Andrea heading for the train station since Alison had a sixteen hour work day coming on Sunday, while Sue, Pat, Cody and I headed back to the Algonquin so I could complain some more and have one last $23 cocktail. Which I did. And some rosemary steak fries. Cody had cake.

Cody and Charlie Algonquin 4Cody and Charlie Algonquin 3Cody and Charlie Algonquin 2Cody and Charlie Algonquin 1

11:15ish. Cab. To MegaBus stop. Nearly die on way. Alas, there is no bar-cart on street by bus waiting area. Bus arrives. We en-bus at 12:30ish. My favorite seats on second level at top of stairs are available again. Cody and I sit. Sue and Pat choose to ride on level one this time to avoid car-sickness that Pat experienced on ride up from being on wavy-weavy-second level of bus. So, on ride home they experience bumpy, bathroom-smelly ride of first level. Thank goodness there are only two levels as opposed to all of Dante’s circles, right?

Sunday, 5:30am. After the three and a half hour bus ride to White Marsh, and the one hour and change ride from there to Sue and Pat’s, and the twenty-minute drive from Sue and Pat’s to my house, which come at the end of 24 hours of being awake and eight hours or so in vehicles, four hours or so of being in a Broadway theatre, approximately nine alcoholic libations, priceless hours with the best and dearest and most loving, wonderful, perfect collection of friends with whom any one undeserving man has EVER been blessed, I am SMILING – yes, me, the well-known sobber, SMILING about having just had the best birthday ever.

I somehow know that my dear aunt, Sissie, ten years gone now and Queen of all things New York, birthday, and Algonquin, has somehow arranged all this – from the perfect group of friends, to the perfect shows, to the perfect last table at Joe Allen’s, to my favorite seats on the bus (twice) to every other perfect detail-HA! SHE’S THE DIVINE INTERVENTION ABOUT WHICH I WAS TALKING! And I smile one more time, throw off my clothes and drop into bed.

This was, indeed, as one of my friends who shall not be named said to me more than once, a HAPPY FUCKING BIRTHDAY! And all I have to say, to New York, to Broadway, to my dear aunt who taught me all of this, to my dear friends who indulged my birthday wish, and most especially to my dear Andrea who coordinated most everything and channeled Sissie, THREE WORDS.

 

 

 

A Single Man … and the vampires who killed him …

Christopher Isherwood.

I have vacillated my entire life between worlds, in the beginning I thought I’d be a musical theatre star. I first heard of Christopher Isherwood, then, as source material for Cabaret. At that point, my main literary influences were not those likely to have read Isherwood, and so, I hadn’t. I didn’t. Not then.

I aged. I realized I would not be a musical theatre star.More and more, without my noticing, my focus changed to writing. I had always been a reader, but as theatre faded away, and as I became less and less happy, I started my own course of study, looking — not so much for answers, but rather like some cosmological Jeopardy game, instead, the questions I ought to have been asking that explained how I’d arrived at the horrid answers I had.

I wondered, worried, how had I never – why had I never loved someone with whom I could share rare and recherche jazz recordings a dog and Kafka and Capote … someone who got me and wanted to touch me. Oh, Isherwood’s A Single Man broke my heart. Then. Even. When I wasn’t yet the old (really old) man.

Getting older, well . . .

… it’s a load of shit. I think I’ve actually got sillier and sillier. … Experience is not what happens to a man, it’s what a man does with what happens to him.

Can we go back to your place sir?

Of course, where else?

Where else.

Are you out of your mind?

What’s the matter?

You can’t go home like that.

We’re invisible, don’t you know that? You know, Sir, they ought not to let you out on your own; you’re liable to get into real trouble.

Oh, I excel at it.

By which time I was, sadly, this symbol to people rather than a person … and I was, fooled and foolishly, half in love with those half in love with half of who I was, none of us, neither of us, less than fools, able to navigate the sorrows of what we were not, could not, would not be. And so, I accepted being made a fool of.

I think we should get you out of those wet clothes.

Yes, Sir.

And finally, I realized, with a horrifying lucidity, the complete rotting of my heart, un-nourished so long, thanks to the emptying of my once Light and Love filled soul by the vampires I had invited to feed on me, the last of whom had ruthlessly stolen from me all that I was, all that I had, and then staked me through the heart, laughing as the ashes of me hit the ground, waltzing through the detritus of me and wiping off their shoes, complaining about the mess I’d made.

I was, and am, alone: A Single Man.

A few times in my life, I’ve had moments of absolute clarity; when, for a few brief seconds, the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp, and the world seems so fresh, it’s as though it had all just come into existence. I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but, like everything, they fade. I’ve lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present. And I realize that everything is exactly the way that it’s meant to be.

And just like that, it came.

 

READING: “Ripper” by Isabel Allende

ripperBlame it on the typo on page 398, but I just can’t like this book.

I am NOT a book snob. As you can tell from my Goodreads lists, I love a good mystery, crime novel, library cozy, whatever. So, I was really looking forward to Isabel Allende’s Ripper [CLICK HERE] thinking it would be a combination of genre novel and literary fiction. I don’t suppose an author who’s sold sixty million books will much care that I was disappointed. But, I was.

I finished the book five days ago and have been delaying my “review” because my goal is never to write negative reviews. Life is too short and writing too hard to disrespect someone’s efforts. So, five days later and not only do I still not have anything very nice to say, even worse, I can barely remember anything about the book. In fact, I just surfed to the Washington Post review [click here] and was surprised to read that the character, Indiana, about whom I remember almost nothing, was a main character.

I think there are far too many characters serving far too few purposes and the book seems more an experiment with a formula than the work of someone who had a passionate need to tell a story. And there’s a typo on page 398. And it just seems to me that a publisher asking $29 for a book ought to adequately proofread the damn thing.

And edit it.

Listen, please look at my OTHER book reviews. I usually am not like this. I am sorry.

My #ClinicalDepression: I am not now and never will be #PaulBowles

(LATE IN THE DAY ADDENDUM – although, with me, “late in the day” is pretty much my whole life — but I digress — also pretty much my whole life. I wrote the following blogpost EARLY in the day, since which time, my marvelling via Twitter at Elizabeth McCracken‘s interview in The Huffington Post (CLICK HERE) in celebration of release of her new book, “Thunderstruck & Other Stories (CLICK HERE), resulted in the lovely Ms. McCracken answering my Tweet, and then, following me, which follow resulted in a favoriting of Tweets and a follow by Duchess Goldblatt. So, suddenly, my dysthymic dip has begun roller coaster climbing to a new high. Look out below!)

Despite it having been Patti LuPone’s birthday [CLICK HERE], yesterday was horrific.

I know, my ledes suck. Of the few agents who bothered to respond to my queries after having actually read the portions of Libertytown:The Novel, submitted, one informed me that the first twenty pages were “without event” — apparently contemplation of one’s life does not in modern literature constitute action — and the other (yes, only two have actually responded with written words; that’s what I said, TWO, in PUBLISHING, an industry in which, theoretically at least, words are currency) wrote a lovely and lengthy letter explaining that while she found beautiful my Proustian approach (which descriptive term use was almost as good as offering to represent me; almost, I said) with its ellipses and digressions and tangents, whorling and winding excursively through one aging gay man’s emotional and psychological declension, she felt my anti-hero and style would not appeal to most people in today’s world.

BOWLES and CAPOTE Emilio Sanz de Soto, Pepe Carleton, Truman Capote y Jane y Paul Bowles. Tanger 1949

Emilio Sanz de Soto, Pepe Carleton, Truman Capote, Jane and Paul Bowles in Tangier

Tell me about it. A pithier exegesis of my life experience was never writ.

And some days, well, like yesterday, said synopsis hits home like a spiritual migraine, eviscerating anew previously untouched nerves and heart-muscle while all those nerves and heart-muscle previously bruised in past attacks throb again in sympathy, until the new pain and the echoes and reverberations of the old pains, result in this cacophonous ache of discovery. Or, as my former friends (or, as I like to call them, “people who used me until my usefulness was no more and there was nothing left of me to suck dry”) would say, “It’s about time he faced the truth about himself.”

The truth. Oh, that.

The truth, which I yesterday discovered while sitting in a coffee shop where I landed after having spent sixty minutes on cardio equipment at a gym where I was subjected to the adolescent sniggering of two out-of-shape, “no one would ever come on to you so get over yourself” type men on their way to the showers making “don’t drop the soap” jokes. Have I mentioned how much I hate heterosexual, out-of-shape aging men who are CONVINCED that because they have a penis EVERY GAY MAN IN THE WORLD will want them? We won’t.

Which is one truth, but not the one I was forced about myself to face while in the coffee shop. No.

It was — and this really, REALLY hurts — and here it is, the Tweet I Tweeted from said shop in which I was, and yes, it’s definitely about time I did, facing the truth about myself:

I must face the horrible tragic awful irrefutable truth that I am, in fact, not now & never have been nor will I ever be the new Paul Bowles

Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles

Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles

I’d brought with me the Sunday New York Times. Carrot/Horse thing. I felt myself beginning the long dissolve, declension, decomposition, deterioration, disintegration, deliquescing into a dysthymic low when I woke Monday morning and I know how this goes, so I had promised myself that if I went to the gym and did my cardio I could go to the coffee shop and write there, but first, before that effort to write, I could read the Sunday Times sections I had saved: Travel, Arts, and BOOK REVIEW! Well, I never made it out of Travel. Authors writing about London, Italy, and Venice finished me.

I’m not going to make it to London, Italy, or Venice. This struck me with some vigorous and sniggering out-of-shape heterosexual man mockery as I drank my Americano from the trendy Mason Jar in which this place serves its cold drinks. I am going to die in Frederick having never achieved a journey overseas, never having visited Wuthering Heights, never having had a drink with Joan Didion, nor having been mentioned as irrelevantly Proustian in the New York Times Book Review.

All of this, yesterday, exacerbated by my irritation at being subjected to the banality of overheard cellphone blather, which, it then occurred to me, was no less uninteresting than my life. Double negative.

And too, this being my first time at this particular coffee shop – what the fuck with the Mason jar glasses? I mean, didn’t this area – by which I mean Frederick – spend the last thirty years or so trying to outgrow drinking from mayonnaise and pickle jars and our Hatfield-McCoy backwoods ways? Now, of a sudden, it’s trendy? Please shoot me — I mean, if Mason jar glassware is back, can the hillbillies be far behind?

You see how this goes?

This is a downward spiral (leading to another downward spiral called a “corkscrew” which I then use to open too many bottles of too cheap wine so as to avoid — you know, finally truth-facing myself) down the volute of which I bleed my way, beating myself for having been brainwashed into believing the nearly theological cultural allure of the necessity of becoming “other” — to have bought into worshipping the transformative power of ambition, unquestioning admiration and envy of having achieved the American dream of becoming consequential because one has been anointed so by Zeitgeistian whim.

FUCK!

I mean, you see where this goes. Please, tell me you do. My Zeitgeitsian whim of a fantasy life didn’t even include lots of money and fame. I just wanted to be Paul Bowles. In my rather carefully cultivated and curated circle of acquaintance, perhaps three or four of my cohort know who Mr. Bowles is, and maybe one of them has read his work. As for Jane? I doubt even one has read her collection. My point being, it doesn’t seem a terrible lot to ask to have the truth I was finally facing about myself being one that could include some measure of Bowles-ian reality, does it?

Bowles& Mrabet

Mohammed Mrabet and Paul Bowles

By which I don’t mean that as I am slinking away from my latest disaster of a Tangier-looking CraigsList trick who’s debased himself with the inane (and patently false) promise of “Masc Mixed Top” and ended up begging to bottom (at least I am not alone in not finally facing the truth about myself) that I will pretend I am Bowles and he is Mohammed Mrabet; no, that is NOT the part of Bowles life I want. Nor do I wish that perhaps this Moroccan looking fellow will join me in the mutual delusion of distrust and expectation of painful dishonesty — those two primary foundational tenets of a mendacious faithlessness we’ll mistake for love until we nearly destroy one another by, you know, not finally facing the truths about ourselves — and PRETEND we are happy whilst my lesbian life-partner looks on from a distance muttering disapproval. No. I want to publish ONE FUCKING THING like Pages from Cold Point.

Is that too much to ask?

 

 

Paul Bowles and Mohammed Mrabet

Paul Bowles and Mohammed Mrabet

#PattiLuPone HAPPY FUCKING BIRTHDAY!

It’s Patti LuPone’s birthday. If this country had ANY culture at all, this would be a national fucking holiday. Make it SO!

Here is the OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF PATTI LUPONE.

I have twice seen Miss LuPone in concert, both times with my sister, Debbie. Most recently as a gift from my dear friend, Andrea. I was first row, center. Miss LuPone smiled at me. Debbie and Andrea, great gifts in my life.

Here is that famous moment from Will and Grace:

Here is Ladies Who Lunch from Stephen Sondheim’s Company:

I went to Bethesda to see the Company filmed concert with my dear Cody, during one of the worst summers of my life, he stuck by me and never made me feel like my sorrow was a burden to him. We wept through this. And I was a burden. And he still has never complained about it. Love him. Great gift in my life.

I saw her in Sweeney Todd on Broadway. Third row. Aisle. A-fucking-mazing.

I first saw Sweeney Todd, decades earlier, on Broadway, starring Angela Lansbury. My dear aunt, Sissie, took me. And years later I starred in a summer stock production as Sweeney, across from my dear, dear Kayte as Mrs. Lovett, and directed by my dear friend and the best director I ever had, who always made me good, my love, Josh. Sissie, Kayte, Josh, great gifts in my life.

I also saw Miss LuPone in her final concert performance of Gypsy – a show I had also, coincidentally, seen decades earlier with Sissie and starring Angela Lansbury. The final concert performance also happened to be on the same day as the final performance of Grey Gardens on Broadway. Both, in one day, great gifts in my life.

But it was The Baker’s Wife that first brought Miss LuPone to my attention. That album . . . it changed my life. Here she is doing Meadowlark from that show in a cabaret act after having just played the killer vocal role of Evita. Yep. Same night. Holy shit. WHAT A GIFT MISS LUPONE HAS BEEN TO MY LIFE.

I needed Patti LuPone’s birthday today, because this has not been a particularly wonderful past few days, weeks even, and I have been having one of those bursting into stupid tears sort of days, so, thank you Patti LuPone. Here’s more of that Will and Grace clip, extended. GENIUS.

I love our brassy, magnificent trap.

And here is one of my favorites of yours:

And then, oh holy shit . . . this . . . double diva divine heaven . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

My suggestions for what constitutes a #GoodFriday …

Good Friday? I’ll be the judge of that.

Now, one would assume that a faith that calls the day on which the character who sings the eleven o’clock number is costumed in a crown of thorns, beaten, scourged and stabbed before being nailed to a cross to bleed out a “good day” would LOGICALLY appear to be a faith custom made for a fellow boasting my temperament and inclinations, but one would be wrong. Still, not a total loss this weekend — “Orphan Black” season 2 [CLICK HERE]is happening. 

As an infant, I was bound in a white sacramental sheath and sacrificed into the papist cult. Like many of the lambs sold into the faith before (and after) me I was early on handed over to the en-habited crones whose role it was to indoctrinate the children in the doctrines of the faith, persuading by book, crook, and wickedly-aimed eraser and ruler left hook, the catechismic dogma and creeds of the roman catholic sect.

These women were virtuoso viragoes. Before I was seven they had me convinced that my “highest second-grade IQ in the state of Maryland” was a “message from god, he has a very special plan for you and you mustn’t disappoint him or your family, meaning all of us in your community of faith” and, apparently, I was destined to become the first American pope. The following year the termagants instructed that I should be sent away — tuition free — to a Jesuit boarding school that I might fulfill my holy destiny, but, unlike Rosemary, my Mother was not about to hand her baby over, and her terror of letting me go saved me from being sent away and losing my man-on-man virginity before puberty hit.

In effect, for all practical intents and purposes, I as good as left the church a few years later when I read Portnoy’s Complaint. While I knew I could never be jewish, I recognized the guilt and the familial periphrastic malevolence of the hero’s life, and Roth — unlike the adherents to the holy sees holy shit — taught me something practical: how to masturbate. Now there was a sacrament I could wrap myself — or, at least, my hand — around, though it would be many years before I fucked a piece of liver — but that’s another story and this is Friday, no meat.

And not just any Friday, but Good Friday. What the fuck is so good about it?

Turns out the “good” is likely a derivation of the archaic root of the word meaning “holy” — still, faith built around a celebration of the day when some masochist volunteers to suffer and die so — supposedly — you don’t have to? Except, uhm, YOU DO. I mean, if that Jesus fellow had hit that high note in Gethsemane (and believe me, I did when I played the role) and bit it afterward and the result was that we then had only to chew on him on Sundays to avoid feeling pain and sorrow and — you know — LIFE, then, okay, sign me up.

SUPERSTAR

Yeah, that’s me on the cross — I have a hard time getting off. It took two apostles.

But that’s not the deal with this churchy shit. This churchy shit is all about white men wielding power over everyone else, the bastardization (and I meant to use that word) of actual tenets of truth and light and love into controlling fictions meant to keep the peasants in servitude and fear.

Fuck that shit. Power ballads or not, I refuse to be intimidated by your dogma. Although, I think catma would be a better word – I like dogs.

So, yeah. N0. Good Friday as far as I am concerned would need to include some meat (no liver, please) and all of the people who have ever annoyed me being thorn-crowned and nailed to little-crosses of their own — I have a list should anyone be interested.

Thought not. So, guess I’ll read and wait for Good Saturday – which really is tomorrow, because Orphan Black returns at last with the brilliant and Emmy-robbed Tatiana Maslany. Not to mention Jordan Gavaris, who would be my boyfriend were I not already in a committed imaginary relationship with Russell Tovey. I have it on good authority that Jordan’s ass [CLICK HERE FOR ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY ARTICLE] is featured in the Season 2 opener.

Gavaris, Jordan 1 Gavaris, Jordan 2 Gavaris, Jordan 3

Now THAT is a Good Day.

But, no worries, Russell, I still love you MOST.

Tovey, Russell Mar 2014 ass

Tovey, Russell Mar 2014 2

Looking 6 KISS

Tovey, Groff Looking 3

Tovey, Groff Looking 1

My BOYFRIEND, Russell Tovey

My BOYFRIEND, Russell Tovey

My lover, Russell Tovey, after one more satisfying and exhausting session of passionate sex

My lover, Russell Tovey, after one more satisfying and exhausting session of passionate sex