Thursday, June 30, 2005


He just won’t learn anything?

I have met many stubborn people in my life. But I have never seen anything like this Bush idiot.

How can we, as a country, let this man continue, unimpeached?

Very soon, close to seventy percent of Americans will agree that we should get the hell out of Iraq.

Soon after that, most everyone will agree, with the exception of the most dogged war-loving freaks, that this war was nothing more than an oil grabbing, corporate gifting, daddy impressing, misbegotten festival of useless murder.

The reason this conflict has been so often compared to Vietnam is no surprise.

The Neo-cons are just blood thirsty, greedy pigs who love a good massacre followed by a greasy oil-rig party.

No one in the history of politics has ever been more out of touch with reality except for maybe Caligula.

It is time this dog is put down.

What is so sad is Iraq will eventually respond to this whole mess by becoming an oppressive theocracy. What else can happen under such conditions? You get pushed around like that, people get scared and they join the Allah gang of blissful ignorance.

And what about that poor, misguided Condi...

I know what I’m writing here is nothing unique. Not entertaining. Nor is it insightful. But my mind is clamped into this in such a way that I can't even think of anything else.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Oh What a Web

Every June in Los Angeles, due to a mixture of conditions of the ground being soaked with water, the air hovering moist with fog and moderate temperatures, we are faced with the same awful thing. Spider webs. Everywhere. And not the big lacey ones you used to see as a kid up in the mountains or hanging off the eve of your house.

No, these June Webs of Los Angeles are just thin invisible strings hanging straight down from the trees. Or one little string going across the sidewalk from where to where, I do not know. I don't care how effectively the factions of our climate have conspired to make this phenomena a possibility, I so wish the makers of this terrible gore would leave the area.

Every other night, I have the great pleasure of walking my little dog. She loves it and very often it's my only outdoor excursion for the day. How much nicer it would be if the excursion did not include being wrapped in sticky, soft silk every time I pass under a tree.

It's always disgusting. Many people hate these web collisions because their thoughts immediately turn to, "Where's the spider?!" For me, it has nothing to do with that. I've never had a spider land on me after I've walked into a web so I never fear their arrival on my person. What I simply loathe is the soft and sticky feeling of the single strand of spider silk sticking to my hair or my forehead or my neck or behind my ears, or the worst, in one of my eyelashes. I go into some sort of panicked wiping away. And every time I do, if I wipe it off from say, my forehead, I still feel a piece behind my ear. Then, I think there's some in my hair. And sometimes there is. And it can often happen, the more you wipe, the more it feels like the strands are sticking to you and no matter how maniacally you try to wipe yourself clean, you will be covered with a thin strand of spider web for the rest of your life.

Two nights ago, I was walking Miss La Pooch, and as I walked under a Jacaranda tree just one house away, a spider web, long, vertical and with an industrial strength thickness, stuck to me from my hair down to my right leg. The strand was so strong and attacked to me so aggressively I could actually here the silk crackling as it conformed to the contours of my tormented body. It was like something out of a horror movie. It took me over five minutes of wiping to feel like I was no longer encased in the wretched string. I must have looked insane. At the same time, I must have looked totally normal for someone in Los Angeles on the sidewalk in June. I am still undone and wonder if I will ever recover.

Of course, spiders have to eat. And I have nothing against one animal eating another one. I just wish they wouldn't do it in my neighborhood. Call me a specie-ist, but I really just want to live with my own kind.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Life on the Rails


Silvertip Design

All I can say is: People are trying all sorts of stuff.

Call Me Corny

Wagging their fingers at innocent Iowa farmers, there are actually accusers out there who say the push for corn as the carbon-based alternative for our desperate dependency on foreign oil is nothing more than the corn lobby trying to make more money.

I imagine the finger waggers are probably just oil people trying to make more money.

What always surprises me is that at the end of the day, these fights always come down to making money. Fighting for cash is fun and all, but what about the terribly interesting idea of a very controlled energy policy that actually works? Why the greedy banter when people are dying in an un-winnable war? I hate to get all pacifist, but...

If I have to choose between the money going to the House of Saud/Mess-O-Potamia or the Hawkeye State, I’m all for the Iowa farmers. I’ve been to Iowa once, for about thirty minutes, and it seems to me that the place could use a pick-me-up.

So, let’s get going with this corn! Plastic. Ethanol. Halter tops. Whatever!

And let’s do some simple math:

1) How much corn in bushels can we grow in this country...realistically, using just the water that falls here naturally? Let’s call these bushels b.

2) Using corn as the main source of fuel, how many bushels of corn does a person need to live the average sloppy American life? Let’s call this a.

Let’s then divide: b/a=N. N equals the number of Americans that should be allowed to live the average sloppy American life.

We, as a population, must commit to and never exceed the number N.

My guess? If we keep to this formula, heeding the limit of N, there’s going to be a hell more load of corn than people in this country. It will be so much cleaner and quieter. AND, we can leave the middle East in peace so they can flop to the ground five times a day in supplication to Allah. It's their choice. Look at Iran. Let them have it.

Population Pressure=War.

Keep it down to N. Go get your Fallopian tubes/Vas Deferens tied.

And Vote for Corn.


Friday, June 24, 2005

And the Pig Goes Oink

I was so impressed with my friend Todd who dropped thirty pounds, I decided I'd emulate, if not his exact regimen, then at least his verve.

And though I've lost but a couple pounds this week, more than anything, during my decision to eat less, I have come up with some very clear insights:

1) I eat like a pig.
2) Everyone I live with eats like a pig.
3) There is no need to eat like a pig.
4) Unlike a pig, I do not live in a sty, so there's hope.
5) I am loaded with muscle underneath this swinish layer of fat, so one could kindly say that I'm not so much a pig as I am a pig in a blanket.

With that being said, I have decided to stop my oinkish behavior and eat less food. Actually, less flour and sugar. In fact, almost no flour and sugar.

This is weird behavior for a pig such as myself who usually starts at one end of the loaf at Noon and reaches the other end by ten after.

I have noticed this: The layers of fat in the face and upper abdomen go first. The saying is tend to lose weight from top to bottom. But more interestingly, I find the idea of losing weight as something of an archeological dig. It's like you are being dug out from all the meals you have overeaten.

When I was young and skinny and I had to listen to fat people of all ages morosely complain about their saddlebag thighs, thundering asses, or penis-hiding beer bellies, I always thought these people were just sad, weak hogs who just needed to put down the fork and get their fat asses moving. Now I know I was absolutely right.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Morgan Spurlock, We Hardly Knew Ye

Unfortunately your piece didn't make the final cut. I feel so bad. It had nothing to do with you guys. The show ended up focusing on religion and what the Bible says and we ended up not tackling the gay marriage issue. I hope you know I really appreciate you guys participating and I hope it was at least fun meeting Morgan.

TV sucks sometimes. Sorry


So there it is. You go to the beauty parlor and get your hair all done up. You shave your legs. You put out tasty snacks and coffee. And at the end of the day, it’s all about the Bible.

As far as it being fun meeting Morgan...I just don’t know. I mean, he was in, he was out, he certainly wasn’t fat. But fun meeting someone? I never think it’s that fun meeting new people.

At the end of the day, I figure this is the reality: How sympathetic are two middle aged guys, together for eleven years, living in their little gay bungalow, with their absurdly cute dog, how is that really compelling? Glance at us and you’re like, “Yeah, man, these guys are so downtrodden. We have to get out there and make sure they can marry.”

Plus, American television needs to reflect American life. And isn’t it really all about the Bible?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Sixth Grade Graduation

June 19, 1974

I'm telling about my whole graduation day: I woke up and felt crummy. I took some allergie medicine. I went to school and we did our class song and poem. I got a diploma and a ribbin that says: Wash. Ave. School, class of 1974. Nanny saw the show with mom and dad. I got $5.00 from Nanny and a beautiful ring from mom and dad. Its my birthstone.

I was really feeling rotten and I did my papers. We went out to eat and I was butting in on when daddy was telling the order and he said he's graduating and he thinks he knows everything. I got humiliated, Nanny added into it and I was crying. Mommy then talked to me. I was so depressed and nervous. Oh it was a fairly good day.

I have one comment:

We were eating at Lindy's, my favorite Italian restaurant in town. It faced the train tracks. I'm sure I ordered the Ravioli.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

How Many Do we Kill? That's What I Want to Know

So, there we were on Saturday night at The Hudson Hotel. The place reminds me of Los Angeles and South Beach. Which is fine, I guess, unless you don’t like the style of old Annie Lennox music videos. Poor Manhattan. What was once the leader of swank is now the follower. Paris is most likely the same.

There we are, in this Annie Lennox video comme Miami Beach comme Los Angeles comme New York hotel with the huge pots of ivy growing up the walls, oversized chandeliers and all sorts of people from in and out of town looking to be looked at. Last call was at 11PM in order to spare the ears of the people in the hotel rooms looking out over the patio. And all I could think was---wouldn't it be better to be in some skanky bar downtown where drinks are 1/4 the price and they keep pouring them until 4 AM?
And why would you make this huge outdoor patio if you can’t really use it after 11PM?

But none of this is my point. Though, this fin de l'empire style was the perfect backdrop for the conversation about a nation which seems to be heading in the wrong, stupid direction.

The deal. My husband and I were in New York for the weekend and we were having drinks with our very good friend, Chrissy, and her stand-up comedian/conservative Jewish/Marine boyfriend of six months on this overblown patio. He's a great guy. Funny. Intelligent. In fact, he works in the intelligence department of the Marines. We got on the subject of the war in Iraq, I brought it up, and he started saying things like, "It's good we're in Iraq because the terrorists are all coming to get us there instead of here." I thought—good--let those who want to kill each other kill each other. I'm busy.
Then, he said something to the effect of the Arabs being so stupid and uneducated, they didn't know how really simple things worked. I thought, cool, okay, I bet those uneducated, Allah freaks are pretty stupid. Sure. Why not? And I've always despised dogmatic morons. So, I was with this guy---stupid Arabs need changing. Sure, let's go for it. With a cudgel. Whatever it takes, right? I’m sick of this whole thing, let’s just win, make them our bitches, be done with it.

I like the Marine, I think he's onto something. So after a couple fifteen dollar drinks, I asked him, "So what do we have to do to win this war? This is ridiculous. I'm a practical guy. Let's finish this off. Do we have to kill them all, what the hell do we have to do? Fuck ‘em, right? Let’s just kill them. Take the oil or the land, whatever."

He got all excited...taking me for a sensitive liberal and then realizing I was like totally into this idea of kicking Arab butt and just being done with all this bullshit. So, he started saying things like, "First you have to hook up with Amed to find out what Hoofeed knows. You get what you need out of Hoofeed. Then, you kill Hooffeed. Then, when you're done with Amed, you kill him, too."

I thought that was pretty clever. So, you get Billy to help you wack Johnny. Then, when you're done with Billy, you wack him, too. Makes sense. It’s a bit thuggish, but then again, what war isn’t?

Then, I asked, "Okay, so you kill all these people, but then there's more and more of them. How, I mean, really, I wish Bush didn't lie about WMD and all, but really, fine, we're there, how the hell are we going to win this war?"

He answered, "We're just going to stay in there and show them that we're not leaving."

I thought that was interesting. Stay on top of them until they cry uncle. But then I thought---why would they cry uncle? So then I asked, "How many more years do you think this will take?"

He immediately and confidently answered, "Six years." Okay, his demeanor tells me there is a six year government plan for this whole thing at which point we will have taken over the country entirely. Wow, Neocons have chosen a time frame. Hmmm. I wonder if the Arabs agreed to it, or are they too proud to look at our calendars?

Then, I asked him, "Great. Six years. But what are we going to do in that six years? How are we going to change them into a free society?"

And the intelligent Marine answered, "We're going to stay the course."

And then I asked, "What course?"

And the conversation seemed to be veering naturally to other subjects since I tend to stay on subjects for too long and others want to talk about other important things...and I looked at this very bright Marine and I could tell by his expression that he believed everything he was saying. In fact, "Staying the Course," was so convincing a strategy, in his mind, that there did not seem to be any other logical solution to this problem of Iraq. And his air of confidence was actually attractive, much like a puffed up adolescent who realizes he can shoot cum three times and day.

We got off the subject, much to my disappointment, and as the bouncers herded us off the football field sized patio and into the hallway of a thousand bathrooms just off the lobby to finish our drinks (and if you dared to step into the lobby with your drink, another bouncer was there to herd you back into the hallway)--I just was so over the hotel and so over this war.

I stood there glinting at the Annie Lennox chandelier and I realized, while swilling down my last $1/sip: These fucking military guys have no idea what they're doing. Pride is their motivation. Pigheadedness is their fuel. The Method is the Meaning. Beating up Arabs is their pleasure. Staying the Course is their empty mantra. We'll never take over.

Japan laid down and became our bitch only because we obliterated her. We're never going to do that in Iraq. We can't. So this is going to go on for six more years and when it's over, do we really think the tribalism and religious fanaticism of Iraq is going to change? Or our tribalism and religious fanaticism?

Seems to me, we better get just a bit more righteous about our manifest destiny and obliterate them with blankets smeared with smallpox or just get the hell out, right now.

There's no plan for Iraq because, really, who could come up with one?

Or maybe I’m completely wrong and staying the course is a great idea. If we stay there long enough, of course they’ll see how free and happy we are and want to join us at the table of capitalistic democracy. It just makes so much natural sense.

I still really do like the Marine. I would love to believe his plan will work. But since it really isn’t a plan, how can it?

Plus Ca Change, Plus C'est la Meme Chose

Monday, June 20, 2005

Freaky Queens in Freaky Queens

We've been wanting to buy a place in New York for a while now. Last Saturday I saw an apartment for sale on Craigs List. It looked too good to be true. Megan, my oldest friend, went and checked it out. (Thank you Megan.) She gave it the go ahead and we made the offer based on her description. So we flew in on Friday and on Saturday, we looked at it. Today, Sunday, we came back to LA. That was a lot of jet fuel.

But we got our place in NY, barring any problems. Or should I say Queens?

Really, Queens is New York...with a real homey twist. And very importantly, it's still affordable.

The offer is accepted. The apartment is ours...assuming the coop board doesn't reject's one of those odd New York things where all the tenants own the building, so you join their financial cult.

The place isn't big...Main room is 10 1/2 feet by 20 1/2 feet. Plus, there are two big closets, a small entryway, a square little dressing room area, a decent sized bathroom and a kitchen. Lots of windows. Lots of light.

And we timed it many times: The subway ride is twelve mintues to midtown. And the neighborhood is quite lively with people from all over the world along with lots of their food.

It's not perfect. The apt. needs a good scrubbing. And a pigeon got in at one point and built a nest. It's amazing what those birds can do with twigs.

But the whole building is very well maintained. The street is part of a national historic landmark area. And here we go...

400 Square Feet

The View (Much bigger and better in real life)

The Street

Eat the World in Queens

Thursday, June 16, 2005

We Came, We Saw, We Ate Yak or

GUEST BLOG by fearless Restaurant Club Leader DAN KAUFMAN

Guest Blog

Do not adjust your screen. For the next dozen or so paragraphs, the Open Trench has been turned over to Guest Blogger, Daniel Kaufman. Always one to come to the aid of authors putting the final touches on their literary work, I have stepped in for the day to help our e-host out.

My original intent was to blog the evening out with Don and friends at a Culver City Nepalese restaurant last night. But in the end there really is only so much one can say about Yak dumplings. And anyway, the best line of the night came from an out-of-town guest who responded to Don’s and mine’s wish to be living in a fascist country run by Oprah with the poetically simple, “we already do.”

There is a subject more pressing I have always wanted to air publicly. Since it looks like they’ve found a replacement for Bob Edwards, the Open Trench is the most open trench I may ever have access to. So, here goes. Leslie, avert your eyes.

The Public Shitter’s Manifesto

As a faithful adherent to the adage, “always shit on the company dime” I often find myself unloading at the workplace crapper. For many it is not a pleasant experience. For those that work at an Arco station, it probably never can be. But for the rest of us, I believe with some basic ground rules, it doesn’t have to be that bad.

To that end, I would like to initiate a public dialog on public deification. The following is in no way comprehensive, and of course it represents my own issues. I am merely putting this out to the universe as a touchstone that may hopefully bring on a new age of peace and harmony in bathrooms across America.

Article 1. Bathroom Communication
I don’t know what it’s like in the women room, but in the men’s room entering a restroom for urination carries no social stigma. If a man sees a work chum at a urinal cock in hand, it’s perfectly fair game to initiate a conversation on a variety of subjects. Even jokes are fine. One of my favorites is looking down at myself and saying, “Whoa, that thing is oozing something green today.”

However, if one enters to do anything in a stall, one wants to be treated as if one has a spell of invisibility: you are not there and you never were there. If you see me in the hall later that day, it will be like it’s the first time you’ve seen me. For this reason I propose rule 1.A. to be:

1.A. The Shitter Must Be Granted the Cloak of Invisibility

The shitter also has a social obligation if he or she is to be expected to enjoy his cloak. Now that you are in the stall, you must strive your best to be as if you are not in the stall. Gas is acceptable, as the saying goes, “shit happens,” but nothing forced or excessive. Groaning is only okay if it’s an involuntary reaction. Talking on the cell phone may be fine in Haifa or Islamabad, but not in the US of A, so put the damn thing on mute and text message if you have to. Conversation of any kind, except in dire emergency, is verboten.

Now, my brother differs with me on this. His philosophy is to break the social stigma of the public shit through boisterous communication. Frankly, his philosophy for a lot of things involves boisterous behavior. I am not my brother’s shitter which is why I propose rule 1.B. to be:

1.B. The Shitter Must Be Silent

Article 2. Hygiene

Let’s face it, nobody wants to walk into a cramped space with feces everywhere. In fact, we don’t want it anywhere. If the remains of your Culver City Yak dumplings didn’t make it down the drain with the first flush, go ahead and give it another. Give it a fourth if that’s what it takes. And if the water pressure won’t do the job, damn it, wad some toilet paper and clean that mess up. To address this issue, I propose rule 2.A.

2. A. The Shitter Must Remember the Boy Scout Credo and Leave the Stall Cleaner Than They Found it

I coined my own bathroom adage a few months back, “When going to shit on the company dime, never go into the bathroom behind a fat man carrying a Robert Ludlum book.” Bathroom reading is fine, but take what you are reading with you when you are done. As a toilet reader, I often find myself in a stall with nothing at hand, and your old newspaper is damn alluring, even though it may be the Sports page and have remnants of your doody. When reading in the bathroom, remember rule 2.B.

2.B. This Place Ain’t A Library

And so ends my brief tenure as your blogger. While it is an end for me, I hope it will be a beginning to a frank discussion of this most basic of bodily functions.

Dinner at Katmandu

Katmandu Kitchen

November 15, 1980: Saturday, College.

Did someone ask for November 16, 1980 or thereabouts and then retract?

Here it is:

Today we got up relatively early and went to The Coop--bought posters, went to Boston's aquarium. It was excellent. We then went to Copley, got our record- Yes Album for Greg, walked all the way past 5 subway stops (we ate at McDonald's) and we went to see The Elephant Man. It was depressing but great. We then bought munchies and came back and ultra partied. We all passed out around 12. It was great. Goodnight.

What can I say? 1980, for me, was still 1974. And of course, the same was true for my brother and our best neighborhood friend, George, who were both still seniors in High School. They came up to Boston to visit me for a partying college weekend. Instead of going out to Saturday night Freshman College beer blasts, (which I loathed) we stayed in my dorm room and well, the picture below says it all. That's my brother with the bong. George is stoned on my bed. I took the picture. What the fuck has changed?

Oh yeah...I'm no longer in college and we're all way fatter.

I can't believe The Elephant Man is that old. Shit. And Anne Bancroft was so good in that movie, as was that acting pachyderm. Speaking of Tufts, the school mascot was Jumbo, the elephant. The original elephant was actually given to us by P.T. Barnum. Why he gave us Jumbo is anybody's guess. I imagine the circus was in Boston when the elephant died and the Tufts science department said, "We'll take it!" And they taxidermed the frigging thing and it was the centerpiece in the lobby of the Biology building.

Well...many years later, there was a fire and the whole Biology building burned down, including the stuffed elephant. By the time I got to Tufts, and majored in Biology, there was only a bronze statue of a pachyderm about two feet by two feet commemorating the original Jumbo. What a circus. An interesting note for linguists: the word jumbo actually comes from this fried elephant.

The Yes album was probably that really bad one from 1980. Since we bought it in Copley Square, I'm thinking we probably got it at Strawberry's. The Yes album was called Drama and I think my brother only listened to the album once and then promptly gave it to me--during Christmas break, if I recall. The design on the cover ultimately inspired the visuals of a trip I took on mescaline about a year later.

I always liked the Boston aquarium. In fact, Boston is a great place. This diary entry makes me want to do the obvious: light up-- but I can't because next week we are having physicals for our life insurance. Hopefully, when I die, Tufts will take my donation of all these diaries. Fuck, if they'll take a dead elephant who never paid any tuition, hopefully they'll warehouse a box of books about the tedious life of a turn of the century human.

The Coop

Copley Square

Yes' Drama

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Thirty-One Years Ago Today

What's the use in writing diary entries every single day for Thirty-Two years (except for 1976) unless someone reads them, right?

This blog is dedicated to the brilliant Leslie Denk, who, at my 40th Birthday party suggested, "Bring out your old diaries and let's hear what happened on your birthday twenty years ago."

What an inspired act of hilarity. It turns out, I pretty much did the same things then that I do now: play the piano, go to rehearsal, make comments about other people.

So, with no further adieu...I bring you June 15, 1974:
(I have added punctuation for clarity.)

Me, Greg, Ricky, John Linton, Steven Linton and Jerry Mazza egged two houses. I had fun.

I kid you not. Commentary: Greg is my brother. He is happily married in Northern New Jersey in a blended family. Ricky was the guy I used to fool around with who, at twelve years old, was quite ready for anything, lucky for me. John Linton was a creep who once punched me in the nose. He eventually became a telephone lineman and a Jesus freak. Steven Linton had super wiry hair, very long, was much nicer than his younger bully brother, John, and liked to smoke a real huge amount of pot. I have no idea what happened to him. Jerry Mazza died in a car accident. I imagine the eggs were cleaned off the two houses. I have a vague memory of having fun because I was hanging with the neighborhood boys and in this group vandalism, I was accepted as one of the gang. I can remember the thrill of being bad, bad, bad. This diary entry makes me want to smoke a Marlboro Red.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Procrastination? Possibly.

I am writing a book. It could be completed in three more weeks if I would just write four hours each day. But this is the problem: I'm a dervish. I wish I could say whirling.

So with this in mind, my blogging at this point has to help me with finishing this book. And since each blog takes at least an hour, usually longer, to write, edit and post, I have to ask the age old question: Is blogging a big fucking waste of time?

But we all know the answer. It is and it isn't. It's a great way to make yourself write every day. But it can become compulsive. I mean, who's really out there every day reading this damn thing?

Okay, okay---I know you can't live without me.

So, here's the deal. I have some interesting time saving devices for my blogs for the next few weeks while I finish editing my big badass book. Perhaps I will stick with these ideas, perhaps not. As I've mentioned, I'm a dervish. My husband always points out my time management problems, yet, I have pointed right back saying--"I always get it all done. Often five things at once. It might take longer than if I was doing one thing at a time. But I get bored easily in that mode. I'm like a very good multi-tasking woman. Sans vagina." He's only happy about the Sans part.

So, in deference to my book, I would like to offer up a sneak preview of the list of stories and essays of my soon to be published collection. Imagine what you will as to to the content of each piece.

The Road So Traveled

Little Miss America
When No One Called, I Had to Answer
The Rashomon of Cousin Mickey
Oops, I Went Crazy
Which Way to the Free Market?
There’s No Free Lunch Unless You’re Freddy Fishkin
Black by Popular Demand
Beta Male
The Literary Whore
Philosophy on a Stick
Vanity’s Exhaustion/Darwin Did Me Wrong

Short and Tall Tales from Dreamland

Miss Teen U.S.A.
Hollywood is a Great Place for Drugs
Oh Hair
Cult Classic
Over Acting, or, Run to the Light Carol Anne
Love Makes the World Get Round, or, My Life en Croute
I Hate You
I Came I Saw I Cankered
June and Fourth
Open Trench
Let Me Eat Butter
They Breed Horses, Don’t They?
Eternity Takes a Long Time, or, God is Dead, Be Nice to Me
Are You Willing to Die for Your Country?

And have a well managed day.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

What was the most surprising thing about having Morgan Spurlock of Supersize Me fame at our house was that it was at our house. Suddenly, a documentary was taking place within the walls of our property.

Back in the day when I was acting, I remember always thinking, “Acting is so much fun but it would be so much better if I could do it at home.” I sort of got the chance to do that in 1993 when I was living in Martha’s Vineyard doing a couple months of Summerstock. I lived in a hotel on the second floor and right down the hall from my room was the theatre where we performed Lone Star. I just had to walk twenty feet from my bed and I was backstage. I played, of course, the retarded younger brother. It was the final Southern retard in a series of illustrious Southern retards I played throughout my late twenties.

Onward to the present and the taping. An hour and a half before Morgan arrived, entered the producer, Mary, the director/cinematographer, Sandy and a sound guy, Jeff. What immediately took place in our living room was a pissing contest between Mary and Sandy over the location of the interview. Mary, the ever pragmatic producer, already had set in her mind the living room. Sandy, visually inclined, got all jazzed up about our backyard garden.

Being a pragmatist myself, I initially sided with Mary, mostly because her approach was calm and sober. Sandy, a tall and bossy type, was responding to her gut fun...and I don’t like indulging people in their pushy tastes for no other reason than I am afraid they are going to steamroll over me. And clearly, Sandy steamrolled Mary. And I just watched it all happen and said nothing about it because it was so early in the morning, it really wasn't my place and why should I really care? Sandy was not only riding on the joyful adrenalin of her visual choice, she also happened to be right. The back yard was a better place to shoot. It was more wide open. And besides, the one who pushes harder for their way seems to win in any confrontation. Mary lost. Sandy won. I ate a scone.

So, the backyard it was. And after they shot some B roll stuff of Adam and I walking around, gardening, (totally staged and hopefully it won’t ever air), Morgan showed up.

Morgan is tall, thin, nice, friendly, easy to talk with and basically the kind of guy you want to interview you on tape if you are ever going to be interviewed. At first, he had this weird habit of shaking his head a bit and smirking impishly right after he asked a question. I got the sense that he was trying to make me lighten up more, much like an old timey photographer would ask little crying kids to “look at the birdy.” But over time, he stopped the head shake and smile thing, so I came to the conclusion that he was a bit nervous with some sort of tick. Who knows. Adam didn’t notice this behavior at all. So perhaps I dreamed it. But I don’t think so.

The interview was all about our marriage in Oregon, the ultimate voiding of that marriage, our views on gay marriage, the difference between marriage, civil union and domestic partnership, the idea of marriage in religion, homophobia, etc. I cannot say that he asked anything original, nor can I say that we said anything original. I occasionally made a joke. Adam was very engaging. The whole thing was pretty easy.

But what kind of stuck in my craw was this: it was so frigging staged. And the whole thing had no teeth. And we were all adults, so we kept it civil. But frankly, knowing that this is going to air on FX and millions of viewers are going to watch it, I sort of wanted to stand up on my green plastic molded patio chair and yell, “You Fucking Bigots! What the Fuck is Wrong with You?! Don’t You Morons from Mississippi Realize that You have ALWAYS been on the WRONG Side of ANYTHING to do with HUMANITY! YOU DUMB, STUPID FUCKS!” But instead, I found myself saying something like this, when referring to religious views, “Well, you want to respect differences of opinion, however...” I mean, Jesus.

Anyway, it went very smoothly. And it will air sometime in July. I’ll post it when I know the date. So here is the blog about the reality show about some sort of manufactured reality. What a hall of frigging mirrors. No wonder everyone is so bored to death.

But I guess, years from now, when Adam and I are talking to some young, gay whippersnapper couple about to get married in Texas, we can say to them, “We went on television, that’s right, sonnies, television, so you could have the state and FEDERAL right to marry. Did you know that we were the niggers during the Bush administration and that his administration used us to divide the country so they could win the election? Think about that when they’re throwing organic birdseed at you on the Church of Christ steps as you greet all the Republicans who have come to watch you get legally married.”

And they’ll look at us like we’re quaint old fags. And then I’ll say, “But hell. We just did it from our backyard. The real heroes were the Stonewall guys who rioted against the police the night Judy Garland died.” And the twinkies will look at us and ask, “Who’s Judy Garland?” And that’s when Adam and I will have big gay coronaries and die.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Early Bird is Filled with Worms

Adam and I are going to be taped very early tomorrow morning in our house for the What's Your Gay I.Q.? segment of the new show 30 Days with Morgan Spurlock.

Tomorrow morning is a rise and shiner at 7:30 AM. As my friend Megan said to me yesterday, "Doesn't Morgan realize who I am?"

I am reminded of the two things I most disliked about acting:

1) You have to get up early.
2) You have to worry about what you're going to wear.

I jumped out of bed this morning before ten just so I could get used to the shock of what tomorrow is going to be wasn't pretty.

But the house is clean, there's coffee cake ready for the visitors and tomorrow night we're going to the ponies for a birthday bash with Bart.

If I knew being gay was going to be such an early morning chore, I might have thought twice about it. But I'll do it for Dorothy and for the guys at Stonewall and for the millions of gay people in our country. I mean, we have to infiltrate the media as much as possible to show all these scared lunatics who are afraid of gay people that we're not monsters...

Tune in Monday.
Will the crew break the Peruvian lamps? Will the producer raid the medicine cabinet in search of Vicodin? Will Morgan be annoying and phobic or just another goofy guy trying to make a buck in reality television? How puffy will I be at 8AM? I think I already know the answer. A cucumber, a cucumber, my sexual orientation for a cucumber!

My Last Meeting with Anne Bancroft: A True Story

In 1993, I moved to Los Angeles from New York City and quickly realized I was quite poor. Having few immediate money making skills but not afraid to buy a pair of black pants, I went looking for a job as a waiter. Since I had done this kind of work before in Manhattan, I figured landing a job in Santa Monica would be easy.

This turned out to be true. Remi, which also had a restaurant in New York, had recently opened on the Third Street Promenade. I went in, applied, and landed a few lunch shifts that averaged about forty dollars per shift. Nasty. But it was better than complete unemployment.

I waited on Pierce Brosnan, who was Agent 007 in the James Bond movies of the era. He smoked cigars and decided to start a Chess game five minutes before my shift was over and the management made us stand around and wait on him for another hour while he played. I wanted to run him over with a snow mobile.

A few days later, in came Anne Bancroft. With her parents. They were pretty ancient, these two old New Yorkers. It’s really sad that her mother outlived her. I can’t imagine how. The old lady looked like she was 100 twelve years ago.

Anyway, Anne Bancroft was my customer. And you know what? She was so fucking nice. From the way she talked to her parents, you could tell that she spent a lot of time with them. She was super warm and called her mother Ma. I remember she kept yelling in a loving tone at her father to finish his meal. Also, she had this genuine smile and talked to me like I was her old pal from frigging Flatbush. She was grand and grounded.

But there’s something even more fun about all this. The special that day was a fresh pea soup with mint. Or something like that. I remember it was green and very tasty. Anyway, Anne Bancroft loved the soup. She asked me my name and I replied with the truth. Then, she asked me to ask the kitchen what was in it. I found out and told her. Then, she said, “I’m having sixteen people over to my house tomorrow for lunch. This is just delicious, Don. Can I get sixteen soups to go?” And she smiled at me, knowing it was a ridiculous request, yet, she really loved the soup and wanted sixteen of them. And I said, “I’ll ask the chef.”

So, I asked the chef and of course the chef said, “Of course.” And he ladled out sixteen to-go bowls of soup and we put them in a box with cardboard between the layers of bowls and I brought the box of soup to her table and I said, “Here it is!”

She was truly appreciative and very excited. “Don, this is just great. It’s really so delicious, Don.” She couldn’t wait to serve the soup the next day because she knew her company was going to love it. Then, she and her ancient parents got up from the table and Anne Bancroft asked me, “Would you mind walking me to my car?” And I thought, hell, Mrs. Robinson wants me to walk her to her car. So, of course, I carried the box of soup and she escorted her aged parents by the elbows and when we got to the car, which was just parked at a meter, she opened the trunk. There we were standing on the street in Santa Monica, Anne Bancroft dangling her car keys from her hand, her old parents shuffling around and me in my black pants, white shirt, tie and apron. I put the soup in the trunk and closed it and she smiled at me with her warm, lovely smile and put some money in my hand, like fifteen or twenty bucks, and said, “Thank you so much, Don.” And from the way she said it, I just felt really warm and happy and I thought to myself—I hope her company really likes the soup, she really wants them to like it as much as she did.

Then, I sort of lingered there on the sidewalk for another five seconds so she could, I don't know, invite me to her house or maybe be my new best friend. But we both knew our friendly transaction was over. So I went back to the restaurant to fold napkins and she went back home to Mel Brooks.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Jane Fonda’s Life So Far: Let me Save you Five Hundred and Seventy-Nine Pages

Or Not.

Upon completion of Jane’s book (thanks for lending it to me, Leslie), I felt compelled to speak with that means she did a good job of being basically candid. It seemed like she was in my living room and so after listening to her go on for forty-two chapters and an epilogue, I thought we should get together and talk.

But let’s face it. I'm quite busy and Jane and I are never going to be close.

But since her book read so candidly I applaud her and I must chide, “Jump on another antiaircraft gun, baby, and sing us another one.” And while we wait for more possible books, let me tell you a bit about this one.

Quick synopsis: She’s born into Hollywood royalty, her mother kills herself, she goes to fancy schools, becomes anorexic, falls into a film career, studies acting, marries Vadim, moves to Paris, has all sorts of three-ways, keeps puking, has a baby girl, gets involved with the anti-war movement, has a bad day as Hanoi Jane, makes a load of movies, hooks up with Tom Hayden, keeps puking, has another baby--a boy, makes all those exercise videos to support Tom, then makes them to make money, stops the puking, divorces Tom, hooks up with wacky Ted Turner, becomes a trophy wife, gets frustrated with that, doesn’t puke, divorces the guy and turns into a loosely defined Christian. During all this, she does all sorts of charitable things, mostly to empower poor people and women. You might also recall a few of her movies.

Throughout, she’s as serious as an aortic shunt and maybe even half as helpful. The only chapter that had any real humor was about the filming of On Golden Pond...and Katherine Hepburn had all the jokes.
If you saw her on Bill Maher, and you witnessed her earnestness, I would say this book had that same tone. Of course, she wasn't put on this earth to make me laugh. But with so little humor, you have to wonder how much fun she would be to film, fuck or befriend. So, I was tempted many times to stop reading her huge tome.

Yet, I couldn’t put the shit down. I think it’s because Jane, more than anything else, had amazing star instincts. She was always right at the center of the state of the culture. She just had to be where the action was...whether that meant going to Vietnam, jumping up and down to bad Eighties music, becoming a corporate queen and even joining the Christian lunacy of today. And in between all this, she starred in forty-one movies. I can’t believe she had time to eat, never mind all that time to puke.

But still, in addition to its humorless tone, I have three more beefs with Jane’s book.

First of all, if you read just slightly between the lines, you can tell that she’s a bit of a lesbian. She had lots of three ways with lots of women and whenever things would go wrong with men, she would run to her “women friends.” Seems to me like she has enjoyed much of what Sappho had to offer and you just want her to come clean about all of her eating habits.

Second of all, she has that annoying new age quality of believing that coincidences are the divine proof that there is a watchful God. For me, this wreaks of a second rate understanding of what her privilege and access brought to her on this earth.

And third of all, she has a biased understanding of the failings in human relations. If someone wrongs her, she has pat, though gracious, admonishments to say about her assailants, be them lovers, friends or Hollywood peers. She is gracious, because she does understand that societies form people, even the people she hobnobs with. She further understands that Western Culture is out of balance, patriarchal and greedy. So she cuts people a break, but doesn't really let them off the hook. But more generously, when she does acknowledge her own wrongdoings, she plays the undeveloped, na├»ve victim on her journey through life in this patriarchal society. She develops all relational scripts in her favor. Well, I guess she’s the star of her life movie, right?

At the end of the day, I feel really bad for someone who loses a parent to suicide. And puking is hard on the teeth. So, her life had to sort of suck. And if the palliative was to just sort of fall into becoming a movie star, why the hell not, right? And if you are very beautiful with a really cool, kind of dykie/upper crust speaking voice, and you are smart and brave enough to learn how to act well, and you are loaded with earnest, good intentions it would be almost impossible to not become the Where’s Waldo of the twentieth century. So, it was kind of a perfect coincidence of events that put her there. Oh wait, it was God, right? Must have been.

So Jane, in the autumn of your life, go have a good run with Jesus. Know that many before you, in their golden years, have sought the solace of the savior. Of course, I'm being snarky, but yet, sort of not.

Also know that I never really quite bought you as that whore in Klute, but then again, I was only nine years old and the only whore I had to compare you to was the next door neighbor on my hard bitten blue collar street.

Jane, congratulations. You wrote a big book.
Amazon Jane

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

New Animals in the Zoo

In the brain of the human beast, there seems to be two driving forces which affect the mind and generosity level with regard to how one of the beasts interacts with another of its species.

One certain drive is for the survival of the individual beast.
The other certain drive, also known by scientists as the altruistic impulse, is for the survival of the collection of beasts. These drives affect both thinking and action.

Every beast, if asked, will readily admit to the inner stirrings of the individual drive and the collective drive. And every beast, if asked, will have very strong opinions on how these drives manifest in their thinking and in their actions.

What is interesting to note is how clearly a line of demarcation forms within the beast mob and one can clearly witness two very distinct subcategories of being and how the beasts will assemble according to this difference. How the individual and the collective drives of these beasts express themselves with regard to thinking and action forms the basis of the political divide.

In our culture, the more liberal beasts are for individual thinking and collective property.

The more conservative beasts are for collective thinking and individual property.

So, we could rename the political parties to reflect the expression of the drives of these two different personality types in human terms. We could let the Democrats be known as the Thinkers and let the Republicans be known as the Idiots.

But I have a feeling these names won't hold. So instead of trying to change the names of the parties, let us change the animal symbols which represent them and let the Democrats be depicted as the Share Bears and let the Republicans be drawn as the Greedy Pigs.

Then, we can push the donkey and the elephant back out onto the grasslands where they came from and let our new political animals, the bear and the pig, omnivores both, create jobs in the manufacturing of new banners, new t-shirts and new carved mascots for the knickknack shelf. Whether you are a sweet little bear or a big fat pig, who can argue with new jobs? Growl. Oink.



Monday, June 06, 2005

Endless Errands of the Errant

Okay. So you're gay. And then it's like a cottage industry and a very expensive hobby.

First, you get married in Oregon legally.

Then it gets voided.

Then, you have to fill out a form for the State of California Family Code Section 297 that makes you domestic partners.

Then you have to go get the form notarized and mail it in with a check and all you get for the effort and money is the same state rights of divorce but not all the rights of marriage.

Then, you buy some life insurance because you're now 297 coded and you want to help out your partner in case you die.

Then, you get a phone call from the reality T.V. people.

Then, you go on television as a gay couple who had their license revoked on that new Thirty Days show by the Super Size Me guy.

Then, you get ready for them to come over. Straighten up. Bring out the voided marriage license.

Then, before they come, you have to talk with the producers and figure out what sort of "home project" the two middle aged queers are going to do that will look good on television, which shows both how stable your relationship is AND how gay you both are because you decided to clean out the spice rack together.

Then, it gets taped, you sign a release form so you will never get paid for spending a day with a camera crew knocking over the fired clay art fair canister set in the kitchen.

Then, you have to email everyone and tell them when it's going to air.

Then, all you get for your trouble is a whole bunch more states voting in legislation that declares you subhuman.

Then, what? You drive across the country in an old car with the words painted across it, "If Jesus hates my gay ass so much, why did he make it so damn fuckable?"

Then, someone sees your parked car outside your Motel 6 room and they come in and they murder you.

Then, your widowed Code 297 domestic partner collects your insurance money and buries or burns you.

Then, your widowed Code 297 domestic partner spends the insurance money on lipo, a neck job, a very subtle eye job and an ass lift.

Then, your widowed Code 297 domestic partner endures a series of disappointing dates with younger men who only want him for his bungalow lifestyle and piercing blue eyes.

Then, in a fit of despair, your widowed Code 297 domestic partner goes back on reality television and cries with humiliation and a deep gay self-loathing to the host of the show and he converts to heterosexuality and so is saved and the audience applauds violently.

Then, he signs a release and gets paid nothing for giving up his sexuality.

Then, he drinks himself to death in the bungalow.

Then, the loud federal government swoops in and eminent domains the property declaring all gay tainted land must be purified.

Then, the bungalow is turned into a Christian uber-fertility clinic funded by Congress and all embryos must comply with immediate implantation.

Then, no research is done on stem cells.

Then, the birth rate of white Christians is furious. People still get awful diseases, but the billions of Jesus goose-stepping children born outnumber the miserable diseases that kill.

Then, there's enormous overpopulation.

Then, there's scarcity and righteousness.

Then, there's the Chinese-American war.

After that, it should be pretty quiet.

Then, any living guy left who wants to can cut his losses and go suck a cock in peace.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Chinks and Niggers and Spicks, Oh My!

So, we saw CRASH.

It was ballsy but yet another Altman look alike.

The movie has no great story but many little ones, often in cars. Racial awareness is the comic sticking point while the wheels are rolling. The characters are all in need of a breakthrough and most of them do some sort of breaking which is followed by intimacy with someone from another ethnicity. Deep, deep needs are plumbed. With that snarky comment being said, the actors are able to really dig in, much like their counterparts in Short Cuts, Grand Canyon and Magnolia (sans frogs).

I have to be honest, it is hard for me to take existential angst seriously when it is based on race or transportation. (Note from this afternoon's errand: Never drive to Encino, any time of day.)

The movie starts with racial slurs and cars, ends with racial slurs and cars, and has a bunch of racial slurs and car scenes thrown in for further thematic effect. And the whole conceit is that we crash and fall in order to connect with each other. This one helps that one. That one helps this one even though the day before he gave her an overly sexual body search. (Think of Matt Dillon with his hands up your evening wear.) This crashing as the only way to intersect with another human being of some other color is a pretty grim way to look at things and something I imagine teenaged girls from the valley ponder in a moment of original thinking while preparing a paper for their Cal State Northridge class in introduction to sociological creative writing. (Note reminder: Never drive to Encino, any time of day.)

Leaving the valley girls out of it, what I'm trying to say here is the basis for this movie is ridiculous. But what I am also trying to say here while thanking my lucky stars that I don't live in the valley is: This damn movie is highly watchable and somehow poetically entertaining. These are the five reasons why I think this is true:

1) Haggis has written a wide open script with a huge berth for emotional emotive emotion. And these really good actors pull it off. Plus, the nasty racial slurs are quite funny.

2) Fuck me with a speeding bus, but I think Sandra Bullock is really good.

3) In this film you will witness the best acting job ever given by Tony Danza. I think he only has about six lines, but he does them very well. Is he grooming himself for future heavies?

4) Call me a cheese-dog, but the Aimee Mannish/Operatic/World Music score is pretty great. There's something about having your life set to music...who cares what the overwrought scene is...if there's a human doing something "deep" or "dramatic" and the music is actually kind of good, I'm all in. Makes me want to drive around California with my soft hits collection and play them at cinematic volume. (Oh wait, I just did that last week.)

5) Tone. The movie has lots of tone. Sweeping, poetic, overdone yet cool tone.

So, I don't know, why not go see a movie where Don Cheadle makes fun of his Latina, Matt Dillon is still kind of cute, Sandra Bullock falls down the stairs and everyone suffers from racism and auto angst? Plus, it is a very rare event when snow actually falls on Los Angeles. And if you feel like rolling your eyes when you witness this nod to epic cleansing, remember, at least it isn't frogs.

Biblical proportion note: Never, ever drive to Encino.

No Need to Go Here

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Poor Dr. Don Wildmon

Looks to me like he's never had sex with anyone:


Dr. Don's mission? To make sure we return to the good old days when the likes of him along with the people who looked like him and thought like him controlled the country. The American Family Association wants your children to obey them. No sex until marriage. No condoms. Absolutely no gay sex. And after failing with their Disney boycott, they have turned their tiny minds to boycotting Ford.

American Family Association Boycotts Ford for Accepting Gay Humans as Equal

American Family Association, I hardly knew ye.

You know what else is great about Ford, besides them not caring about who is screwing who in their cars?

Ford's Living Roof

I am so sick of thinking about these pesky politics. Time is marching right past the Hard Right. Let's just smile and wave as we leave them behind choking in their righteous dust. It is time to disengage. Just look at Dr. Don. He can't possibly be a serious threat. He and his breed are in their death throes. Dying animals can be very noisy.

It is time to celebrate. The culture war has been won. The result is green. Sometimes it's gay. Things do get better over time. I only wish Henry Ford was here to give the simpering Dr. Don a good old fashioned punch in the nose.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Jews, Gays & Women: Where's the Hell Out of Here?

Two little items:


Now that I have read your magazine, I know for sure you are a witch...long-haired commie dyke slut--who dates negroids. Isn't that just like a jew? --
A postcard from the mid-1970's to Ms. magazine's co-founding editor, Gloria Steinem.




AUSTIN -- Here in the National Laboratory for Bad Government, it's Duck and Cover time -- the Legislature is in session. The Can't-Shake-Your-Booty bill passed the House, saving us all from the scourge of sexy cheerleaders. But nothing else is getting done. The state is being run by people who do not know how to govern. Keep in mind that based on past form, whatever lunacy is going on in Texas will eventually sweep the country.

Rarely are the words of one state legislator worth national attention, but when Senfronia Thompson, a black representative from Houston, stalks to the back mike with a certain "get-out-of-my-way" look in her eye, it's, Katie, bar the door. Here is Thompson speaking against the Legislature's recent folly of putting a superfluous anti-gay marriage measure into the state constitution:

"I have been a member of this august body for three decades, and today is one of the all-time low points. We are going in the wrong direction, in the direction of hate and fear and discrimination. Members, we all know what this is about; this is the politics of divisiveness at it's worst, a wedge issue that is meant to divide.

"Members, this is a distraction from the real things we need to be working on. At the end of this session, this Legislature, this leadership will not be able to deliver the people of Texas fundamental and fair answers to the pressing issues of our day.

"Let's look at what this amendment does not do: It does not give one Texas citizen meaningful tax relief. It does not reform or fully fund our education system. It does not restore one child to CHIP [Children's Health Insurance Program] who was cut from health insurance last session. It does not put one dime into raising Texas' Third World access to health care. It does not do one thing to care for or protect one elderly person or one child in this state. In fact, it does not even do anything to protect one marriage.

"Members, this bill is about hate and fear and discrimination. . . . When I was a small girl, white folks used to talk about 'protecting the institution of marriage' as well. What they meant was if people of my color tried to marry people of Mr. Chisum's color, you'd often find the people of my color hanging from a tree. . . . Fifty years ago, white folks thought interracial marriages were 'a threat to the institution of marriage.'

"Members, I'm a Christian and a proud Christian. I read the good book and do my best to live by it. I have never read the verse where it says, 'Gay people can't marry.' I have never read the verse where it says, 'Thou shalt discriminate against those not like me.' I have never read the verse where it says, 'Let's base our public policy on hate and fear and discrimination.' Christianity to me is love and hope and faith and forgiveness -- not hate and discrimination.

"I have served in this body a lot of years, and I have seen a lot of promises broken. . . . So . . . now that blacks and women have equal rights, you turn your hatred to homosexuals, and you still use your misguided reading of the Bible to justify your hatred. You want to pass this ridiculous amendment so you can go home and brag -- brag about what? Declare that you saved the people of Texas from what?

"Persons of the same sex cannot get married in this state now. Texas law does not now recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, religious unions, domestic partnerships, contractual arrangements or Christian blessings entered into in this state -- or anywhere else on this planet Earth.

"If you want to make your hateful political statements then that is one thing -- but the Chisum amendment does real harm. It repeals the contracts that many single people have paid thousands of dollars to purchase to obtain medical powers of attorney, powers of attorney, hospital visitation, joint ownership and support agreements. You have lost your way. This is obscene. . . .

"I thought we would be debating economic development, property tax relief, protecting seniors' pensions and stem cell research to save lives of Texans who are waiting for a more abundant life. Instead we are wasting this body's time with this political stunt that is nothing more than constitutionalizing discrimination. The prejudices exhibited by members of this body disgust me.

"Last week, Republicans used a political wedge issue to pull kids -- sweet little vulnerable kids -- out of the homes of loving parents and put them back in a state orphanage just because those parents are gay. That's disgusting.

"I have listened to the arguments. I have listened to all of the crap. . . . I want you to know that this amendment [is] blowing smoke to fuel the hell-fire flames of bigotry."

Then they passed the amendment.*

*Copyright 2005 Creators Syndicate, Inc.