Monday, December 22, 2008

A Wish

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Please return in the new year for much more commentary and some new forms of expression, like maybe a singing squid.

May 2009 leave 2008 way behind.

And after the correction is corrected (swiftly, I might add), may you find yourself completely flush with the joys of all that you have ever wanted to do, to see, to give. And then some.

And please, recycle.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Alma Mater: Suckered

It should be well noted that P.T. Barnum was a large donor of my college. In fact, I majored in Biology, taking most of my classes in Barnum Hall. "There's a sucker born every minute."

And now this:

December 19, 2008

Dear Friends:

I have promised to keep you informed when the economic news of these extraordinary times has special significance for Tufts. The news this past week has been dominated by a financial scandal of unprecedented scale and scope. I am sorry to report that Tufts is one of a growing number of victims of the crimes allegedly committed by Bernard Madoff.

In 2005, the university’s Investment Committee authorized an investment with Ascot Partners, which in turn invested the entire sum with Madoff Securities. We have written off the value of this investment, which totaled $20 million, or slightly less than 2 percent of our endowment. This write-off will not significantly affect our operations. We will cooperate with any investigations of this fraud and will work to recoup as much of our investment as possible.

It is personally painful for me to communicate this information to you. We deeply appreciate the trust and confidence that each donor places in the university. We also have an obligation to our students and faculty to manage these resources wisely for their benefit. You have my word that we will look closely at our experience in this case so that we can strengthen our investment process for the future.

I will continue to keep you informed as we work our way through these difficult times. For now, I send all the members of the Tufts community my very best wishes for the holiday season ahead.


Lawrence S. Bacow

Friday, December 19, 2008

Epiteth for the Loss of a Beloved Pet

They say

Time heals everything.

But for some things, it simply kills.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


What is so strange is the quiet.

I imagine widows must feel this way.

It’s just so quiet. No sound of dog nails running across the floor.

No dog door sliding up and down.

No sound of a dog tongue lapping up water.

It rained very hard today. Rain is a natural muffler, something I usually welcome.

But not today.

I would like to have heard trucks, coyotes, car stereos, anything.

But just rain and silent floors. Silence.

Maybe the silence will bring something great. Maybe focusing NOT on a dying dog for nine months will bring great enjoyment.

But for now—it’s just quiet. Quiet.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Dying Dog Show: The End

Sweetness Dog-Sonified

The obituary for our dog, Louise, by Adam.

We put our beloved dog Louise down today at 1:15 PM. She had gotten so sick and swollen with cancer and edema that she had a hard time getting comfortable, and her tumors were slowly choking her. It was time. Louise came to us as if by magic one night shortly after 9/11. She just followed Don home from a walk. She was covered with fleas and mange and scabs and she hardly had any hair -- she needed rescuing as much as we needed comforting. She quickly blossomed, and stayed with us all the way through the wretched Bush administration. She didn't let go until she knew we were safe again. Even though she was only given two to six months back in March, she held on. Louise had an amazing combination of sweetness and intrepidness. She greeted everyone who came to our house with love and excitement, and she was happy to snuggle up next to anyone who wanted her to (and even some who didn't). But she was also fearless, running freely when allowed and sidling up to dogs three times her size on her nightly walks. She was sturdy. But most of all, she was always right there. At our feet and by our sides throughout the day and night, finding comfort in our company and making sure we were okay. Our hearts are broken, but our dear Louise will always have a place in them. And we take comfort in the knowledge that her suffering is over. Thank you all so much for all your kind words and thoughts and help during these trying past nine months. Goodbye angel, we will never, ever forget you.


A note from me, Don: It was pretty rough. The heaving grief, the holding onto her dead body and wailing how much I loved her, the whole thing. It was huge.

Then, I went home and cleaned the house for five hours. Seemed important to get really busy.

And, truthfully, the last week of her life she was letting it all rip all over the place, so the rugs needed to go. The floors needed some serious work.

You know--the pain was huge, but I'm kind of in this mild state of wonder. I loved her so much, I just imagine I won't ever stop feeling that way.

What an amazing dog. My sweet little girl. My sweetest little doggy. That I loved more clearly than anything I have ever loved before.
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Downwardly Mobile

We have had a clear sign of downward mobility in our household:

The reintroduction of a laminate Ikea bookcase.

This is the clearest sign of the economy in recession. When you’re over forty and Ikea marches back into your house from the garage storage, well, something is up.

Last night, standing in a beautifully renovated kitchen in conjunction with a complete house remodel in Silverlake with old friends, most of them well established in their careers, it was noted by one party guest, “You know, my salary hasn’t changed at all. It’s just from reading everything I get so scared, I’ve been making soup and eating it all week and brown bagging it for lunch.”

For the most part, like the party talker, we have not felt the crunch too greatly, though in this house we have never had anything but freelance careers. Maybe that makes us even more ready for wacky economic times. We are certainly pliable.

But yesterday, having spent a couple of days getting our little guest house ready for a little renovation so we can rent it out for maybe a little year, we needed to bring some books back into the house. Which meant a bookcase. Usually, we’d drive down Venice Boulevard or poke around antique stores to try to find something nice. But we didn’t consider those options. We grabbed the old laminate instead…leftover from our apartment days in Santa Monica.

It’s not beautiful. But it is highly functional.

When the revolution happens, it will most likely appear Swedish.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Dying Dog Show: Freedom

There has been such an outpouring of sympathy in response to the sadness over the demise of my pooch and for that I am grateful. Thank you.

All the crying is good. No need to ever fear getting really emotional. Resisting it is more painful than experiencing it. And at the end of the flood? You just feel more relaxed.

And for that I am grateful, too.

Monday or Tuesday.

The house will be reorganized around not having a dog. Gates will disappear. As will bowls on the floor.

More time spent traveling--

--with the memory of Louise, the greatest little girl dog who ever stayed in a motel at the Spokane airport.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Dying Dog Show: Going Going

Though it is almost impossible to believe, my dog must die.
She was diagnosed with a big heart tumor March 7. If you do a search in the blog for Dying Dog Show, it covers the dog tracks.

I am at the point where I am keeping the dog alive more for me than for the dog. I was talking to my mother about it on the phone today while driving and she said, “I put both you and your sister on the health directive because I figured your sister would hang onto us ‘till the very end but you’d be more ready to pull the plug.”

She said it with full confidence as if to say, “Come on, son, we all know you’re a cold blooded killer. That’s why we picked you. We’re going to need you to not go soft when the time comes.”

My mother thinks I would have no problem killing her, so this dog, in her mind, should be a breeze.

But it isn’t. You know how many things I’ve written while she was just one chair away? Sometimes, I’d put her in a folding chair right next to me, on a cushion. She always wanted to be right next to me. You could sleep with her with her head right on your shoulder all night long. She was the most affectionate mammal west of Philly.

Now, though, she doesn’t want to be near anyone. She is bloated and wretched. And when she moves she chokes and coughs on her tumor.

Look, it’s over. It’s over. It’s over.

And all we do is cry.

Execution is slated for Tuesday. So if anyone wants to see her one last time, just let me know.

Detroit: Just Read It

Friends, it is 3:38 AM, I've been crying about my dying dog all day, so I bring you this heavy hitter, the great opinionator, Thomas L. Friedman, from the New York Times:

While Detroit Slept


Published: December 9, 2008

As I think about our bailing out Detroit, I can’t help but reflect on what, in my view, is the most important rule of business in today’s integrated and digitized global market, where knowledge and innovation tools are so widely distributed. It’s this: Whatever can be done, will be done. The only question is will it be done by you or to you. Just don’t think it won’t be done. If you have an idea in Detroit or Tennessee, promise me that you’ll pursue it, because someone in Denmark or Tel Aviv will do so a second later.

Why do I bring this up? Because someone in the mobility business in Denmark and Tel Aviv is already developing a real-world alternative to Detroit’s business model. I don’t know if this alternative to gasoline-powered cars will work, but I do know that it can be done — and Detroit isn’t doing it. And therefore it will be done, and eventually, I bet, it will be done profitably.

And when it is, our bailout of Detroit will be remembered as the equivalent of pouring billions of dollars of taxpayer money into the mail-order-catalogue business on the eve of the birth of eBay. It will be remembered as pouring billions of dollars into the CD music business on the eve of the birth of the iPod and iTunes. It will be remembered as pouring billions of dollars into a book-store chain on the eve of the birth of and the Kindle. It will be remembered as pouring billions of dollars into improving typewriters on the eve of the birth of the PC and the Internet.

What business model am I talking about? It is Shai Agassi’s electric car network company, called Better Place. Just last week, the company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., announced a partnership with the state of Hawaii to road test its business plan there after already inking similar deals with Israel, Australia, the San Francisco Bay area and, yes, Denmark.

The Better Place electric car charging system involves generating electrons from as much renewable energy — such as wind and solar — as possible and then feeding those clean electrons into a national electric car charging infrastructure. This consists of electricity charging spots with plug-in outlets — the first pilots were opened in Israel this week — plus battery-exchange stations all over the respective country. The whole system is then coordinated by a service control center that integrates and does the billing.

Under the Better Place model, consumers can either buy or lease an electric car from the French automaker Renault or Japanese companies like Nissan (General Motors snubbed Agassi) and then buy miles on their electric car batteries from Better Place the way you now buy an Apple cellphone and the minutes from AT&T. That way Better Place, or any car company that partners with it, benefits from each mile you drive. G.M. sells cars. Better Place is selling mobility miles.

The first Renault and Nissan electric cars are scheduled to hit Denmark and Israel in 2011, when the whole system should be up and running. On Tuesday, Japan’s Ministry of Environment invited Better Place to join the first government-led electric car project along with Honda, Mitsubishi and Subaru. Better Place was the only foreign company invited to participate, working with Japan’s leading auto companies, to build a battery swap station for electric cars in Yokohama, the Detroit of Japan.

What I find exciting about Better Place is that it is building a car company off the new industrial platform of the 21st century, not the one from the 20th — the exact same way that Steve Jobs did to overturn the music business. What did Apple understand first? One, that today’s technology platform would allow anyone with a computer to record music. Two, that the Internet and MP3 players would allow anyone to transfer music in digital form to anyone else. You wouldn’t need CDs or record companies anymore. Apple simply took all those innovations and integrated them into a single music-generating, purchasing and listening system that completely disrupted the music business.

What Agassi, the founder of Better Place, is saying is that there is a new way to generate mobility, not just music, using the same platform. It just takes the right kind of auto battery — the iPod in this story — and the right kind of national plug-in network — the iTunes store — to make the business model work for electric cars at six cents a mile. The average American is paying today around 12 cents a mile for gasoline transportation, which also adds to global warming and strengthens petro-dictators.

Do not expect this innovation to come out of Detroit. Remember, in 1908, the Ford Model-T got better mileage — 25 miles per gallon — than many Ford, G.M. and Chrysler models made in 2008. But don’t be surprised when it comes out of somewhere else. It can be done. It will be done. If we miss the chance to win the race for Car 2.0 because we keep mindlessly bailing out Car 1.0, there will be no one to blame more than Detroit’s new shareholders: we the taxpayers.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

December 9, 1974

This morning I put up another Santa Clause + tomorrow I’m putting Christmas lights on the trees outside. Can you imagine how yellow this book is going to be when I read it years later. It is 1974 and I predict I will read it in 1992.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A Purifying Wind

Though it seems a bit sad, it isn’t. It’s a purifying wind.

Sell that Cuisinart you never use.

Rent that room that sits fallow.

Clean out your closets.

Cancel your subscription to _______.

Chuck your friends that are not so great.

Netflix? There’s always Hulu.

The maid? You can clean your own damn house.

Get lean. Get tough. And answer that hard dream: Who am I? What am I? What do I really need?

You can do it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

I've Been Koobfaced

Don't let it happen to you. When that message comes from Facebook that says someone saw you in some video, perhaps dancing...if you open it, you're in for a world of trouble. Big ol Trojan--loaded up with malware.

Do a Koobface Search. Nighty night.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Christmas is Coming

I am making my yearly Christmas plug: DON’T GO SHOPPING!

Of course, this year it will be easier to resist than most.

Instead, think about this: Go around your house and gather up everything you don’t need. In our house it’s the Cuisinart Food Processor and old eyeglasses. Take these things—the old pants, the Palm Pilot, the unopened packages of underwear and the hula-hoops and sell them on EBay, give them away, donate them to a homeless shelter, or send them into space.

The best thing you can do for yourself this Christmas season is to CLEAR IT ALL OUT, because in 2009 you are going to be asked to be yourself in the clearest way possible. Best not to have too much around. You don’t need to be stumbling.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I'm Really Different (Now) !

I’m Really Different (Now)!
A Musical Performance Piece, with comedy by Karen Kilgariff and Music by Don Cummings. And a guest.

Tuesday, December 9 @ 9PM.

The Little Room at the New Largo

366 N. La Cienega Blvd. Los Angeles 90048

No Reservations taken. Sixty Seats. Come on.

Ten bucks.


“Karen is so funny. The music is great. I’m coming back.”

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Fireside Chat March 12, 1933

By the afternoon of March 3, 1933, scarcely a bank in the country was open to do business. 4,000 commercial banks failed that year.

Things are not as bad. The media could possibly calm down with the hype.

I love the accent. No one speaks like this any longer. My Aunt Rose tried to speak like she was from Park Avenue but the Newark honk was always marring the effect.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Milk is a Natural

MILK, as a movie was not so fabulous. Sean Penn as an actor is always fabulous.

Problem is, with most biopics, the structure is such that it reads this happened then that happened, then this happened, then that. Not unlike the diaries I have kept since 1973. Lord!

Again, Sean Penn? Will be nominated for an Oscar, surely. The other actors: Emile Hirsch, Josh Bolin and James Franco, wonderful, all.

The period was when I was in high school. Big curly hair and big ugly glasses were the rage. And the movie brought those out in full force. Lovely. Made me nostalgic.

There is so much to admire in Harvey Milk. He was a true humanitarian, a believer in the cause of human rights and a deft politician.

Feels like this is an important movie to see, what with Prop 8 and all. I just wish it was a little more interesting than a laundry list. Okay, it is more interesting than a laundry list.

You just want to get your socks knocked off. But you don’t.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Christmas Tale

A Christmas Tale, directed by Arnaud Desplechin, starring Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric and many other brilliant actors, is one of those movies that lets you know it’s a movie. For better or for worse.

So beautiful, with occasional scenes that are truly brilliant, you just wish someone had trimmed away some of the excess so you could say, “I was blown away.”

Each character is wacked with some form of mental illness or low functioning impediment. And Momma needs a bone marrow transplant for her cancer.

It’s dark stuff, indeed, set in a French town just south of the Belgian border, north of Lille. And there’s snow.

I loved the movie for a while. There is an amazing scene, as subtle as anything gets, when the drunken, most problematic grown son, Henri, sits with his mother outside on a bench and they both speak freely about how they don’t like each other. But they do. But they don’t. It has three layers, at least, of ambivalence. And for this alone, I was so happy to have watched this movie.

I particularly liked the work of Emmanuelle Devos who played the wacky girlfriend of Henri. No matter how weird things got, she just sat there completely bemused by the events collapsing around her.

Catherine Deneuve is old, plump and about as brilliant as I’ve ever seen her work. She is one of the rare talents that can exist in front of the camera instead of putting on any kind of show.

There is generous use of direct address to the camera and bagpipes, for no reason at all. You have to love the whimsy. It is also shot so beautifully.

At times I felt like I was watching a modern French version of You Can’t Take it With You. But so what?

As far as French films go, I’d give this one 2.8 out of 4 frogs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Slow and Steady

What concerns me about Obama, in addition to the future first pooch, is he might bight off too much too quickly.

Of course, economics, such as they are right now, may thwart him.

But in my world view, and I admit I cannot really understand the whole world, I do hope we all slow down. And I hope Obama is an agent of slowness. Steady. But slow.

When the WPA type jobs come through to build new infrastructure, I say, do them slow and steady. A few bridges a year. A few trains a decade. Keep people employed for the long haul, not the short, shoddy haul.

Where I grew up, we have the beautiful Palisades Parkway. It is only about forty miles long and didn’t take too long to build. It would be so nice to have other beautiful roadways and bridges in the spirit of the Palisades Parkway. These days, one fears they’ll go at this whole new building frenzy in a very utilitarian way. I say, go slow and beautiful. And be home by five to relax with the family. Besides, going too fast, even if it is a works program, isn’t that, oddly, another kind of bubble mentality?



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy Holidays

May your days be campy, Jewy and full of cowpokes.

Friday, November 21, 2008

It Isn't Ass Time

Eighteenth months ago I did a few flips off a diving board in Long Beach at our friends’ pool. On the last flip (for life) I landed square on my lower back and I have not been the same since.

Of course, it’s not cystic fibrosis. I mean, one must not get dramatic.

But, having tightness traveling up and down my leg, numbness, pain, etc, for months: Oh, welcome to middle age! I made an appointment, maybe looking for something I could do, alternative like, man.

At the doctor’s office today, no one wanted to do their work. Seems like with this downfall, many intrinsically lazy people are just saying, “Fuck it,” at a time when they need to ramp it up a bit. And maybe mean spirited people who usually have to keep a clamp on it are letting it rip. The doctor was furious and nastily cranky, stating that the cause of my lower back problem is my weight. “For every ten pounds you are overweight, that’s fifty extra pounds on your lumbar spine. You know it’s curved right? How tall are you? How much did you weigh in high school? You should head toward that weight. Probably all your problems will go away.” The lanky, cranky man.

I was aghast. I told him I wasn’t even full grown in high school, so let’s deal with freshman year of college. Okay, I was ten or fifteen pounds lighter then. But I mean, that was a long time ago and I’ve had a lot of pork chops since then. I told the doctor, “Well, I was about 165 or 168 pounds,” I told him, with an expression on my face like, “Are you really serious about full grown adults trying to recapture the weight of their youth?”

He talked about his running miles every day. He clearly hates himself. Sure, he’s thin. I mentioned something about being middle aged, not really including him, and he quickly responded, “I’m not middle aged.”

Then the phone rang. A nurse asked something about drops. The doctor yelled into the phone, “You called me for this? Why are you calling me? Put in the drops. Just put in the drops.” He slammed down the phone, completely peeved that he was being bothered for something so routine and looked right at me, searching for an ally, and said derisively, “Guacamole,” like he was saying, “Fucking Mexican idiot.”

I just looked at him, stunned.

Later in the hall, he was putting someone down, a co-worker, for not covering his mouth when he coughed and the put down man, sounding exhausted from daily lambasting said, “There was no one around, so I didn’t cover my mouth. There was no one around. Should I have covered my mouth if there was no one around?”

When I was leaving, I tried to get some paperwork from the front desk. The front desk person looked at me blankly, like I was destroying her special slow-time-at-the-lunch hour with my Danielle Steele book. Eventually, I got what I needed.

Let’s not let these bad times make us bad people. Get off your ass if you are sitting on your ass. If you are sitting on other peoples’ asses because you’re a jerk, get off their ass.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hopeful. It's All About Love

Fresh in from the Gay and Lesbian Center of Los Angeles:

Dear Don:

Just this afternoon, the California Supreme Court decided to grant review to numerous lawsuits regarding Prop. 8, making the case that:

• Prop. 8 is invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than an amendment to, the California Constitution.

• Prop. 8 violates the separation of powers doctrine under the California Constitution.

• If Prop. 8 is not unconstitutional, the marriages performed before Prop 8 passed should still be valid.

The court gave a very short briefing schedule, giving the state until December 19th to respond and giving our side until January 5th to respond to those briefs. Amicus briefs must be filed by January 15th, with replies to those due by January 21st.
The court did NOT grant a stay of Prop. 8 as had been requested. So, during the pendency of this matter, no marriage licenses will be issued to same-sex couples. Over the past 100 years, the California Supreme Court has heard nine cases challenging either legislative enactments or initiatives as invalid revisions of the California Constitution. In three of those cases, the Court invalidated those measures.

We are very pleased that the Court has granted review of these cases (they could have opted to not consider the lawsuits), but this should not be considered an indication they will rule in our favor. We’ll keep you updated as news develops.


If you missed the Olbermann Coverage, this is what it’s all about: Love, man.

Healthy Body Meditations

My great friend, Jean, has a wonderful way of helping you with getting your meditation practice GOING! Her custom made meditations are designed for your specific health concerns.

And these days, we all need to take the time to take care of ourselves. Feel like running around like a lunatic? Don’t do it. Go to Healthy Body Meditations.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Economic Crisis? TAX THE LDS CHURCH

Friends, the “liberal” media has been printing many stories and Op-Ed pieces about the outrageousness of gay outrage against the Mormon-LDS church. There has also been much sympathy for gay rights. However, in the name of trying to keep things simmered down, we are being told by many people to not be so furious with the Mormons. That this could backfire. There is also a holy overtone which has an oppressive undertone declaring, “Thou shalt not wag your finger in the face of God fearing worshippers.”

I say screw those Mormons and the lost golden tablets they rode into California on.

Look, I have met many (okay, about six) Mormons and ex-Mormons and I find them to be lovely people—blond and Christian in the best sense of Mountain Time affability. Let them live, love, marry and farm. I have nothing against their church any more than the rest of them. If church going helps them to get in touch with their higher selves, I say go for it. But not while stepping on my face and the thousands (and ultimately millions) of faces of tax paying, decent loving citizens.

The Mormons cannot use their church to spread lies, to scare voters into believing their children will be tortured by gay marriage education, or that churches will be denied their tax-exempt status if Proposition 8 does not pass. It’s one thing to spread these lies, gossiping on your back porch, wagging your forked tongue over your backyard fence. But to stand up in front of your congregation and push your political agenda?

Nope. Illegal. Seriously.

Below are the instructions for what you can do. This is for my rights and equal protection and for my gay, lesbian and transgender cousins and for all mankind. Read the linked articles below, then click on the one page IRS form, fill it out using the instructions below and mail it in.

We do not believe the IRS will revoke the tax exempt status of the LDS church. But if these forms inundate the IRS offices, at least it sends the message to the LDS church that they are being watched.

As someone, okay my friend Barbara Deutsch, once said, “If you don’t stand up against bad behavior, then you are basically training the perpetrator to continue the same bad behavior.”

So, it’s time to train the Mormons. Please help out. It could be you, one day, who is discriminated against by a church. Everyone acts like, “Oh, don’t fight with the church. The church is off limits.” Bullshit. They used their bully pulpits to spread lies and to attack and suppress the rights of tax paying, regular citizens.

The way is clear: we cannot allow this on earth.

After you mail in your form, please forward this blog post to everyone you know and then ask them to forward the post to everyone they know. This is the link to use for this post. You can cut and paste and forward it. Please do:

And thank you. Progress is harder than we thought it would be. But that’s just how it is.


If it upsets you that a church can meddle with another state's political statutes, here's something simple you can do:

To report the LDS Church to the IRS, simply take 5 minutes to print these articles out and any others you can find:

Article 1

Article 2

Download a blank and fill it out yourself at IRS FORM

List the taxpayer as:

Thomas S. Monson, et al
50 East North Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

List his occupation as President and the business as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Check the boxes for False Exemption and Public/Political Corruption.

Then in the Comments section demand that the LDS Church be fined and their tax-exempt status revoked for repeated and blatant violations of the IRS' s separate of church and state rules, and for conspiring to interfere with a state's political process.

Check Yes under "Are books/records available?" and write in "campaign finance records."

You don't have to provide any of your own personal info. Mail the form and the printed articles to:

Internal Revenue Service
Fresno, CA 93888

If these instructions are too much for you, go to YAHOO MAIL and log in as taxtheldschurch, password is equalrights. There is a PDF file there in the inbox already filled out. Download it, print it and mail it. (Don't delete the email.) And please, do not forget to forward this blog post to your friends.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Erase the H8

Not that we like to get up at 8:30 on a Saturday morning--but oppressed gay people do what we must.

The demonstration was huge, in full force. Like the circus, I find these colorful events exciting for the first twenty minutes. Then you notice it's nothing but elephants and clown cars.


The excitement really was intoxicating, full subway cars clapping whenever more protestors sardined their way in. The mayor spoke. Local gay celebs spoke. The lawyer who is bringing this to court spoke. But the best part was the march which terminated with a visit to Phillipe, the home of the original French dipped sandwich. Inside, we ran into so many substantial, hungry gay friends that we've known for years. It was homo-coming weekend at the kitsch sandwich hole. Very tasty.

Truly, the court just needs to turn this sucker over. Then, like every other adult who has the choice to get married whenever the hell they want to, I can sleep in on Satuday mornings like I'm supposed to, knowing that I have the same rights as everyone else.
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Friday, November 14, 2008

slumdog millionaire

Go see Danny Boyle’s slumdog millionaire.

Danny Boyle is one of the earth’s great living film makers. Trainspotting. 28 Days Later.

The movie is so beautiful. Go to a really good movie theatre to watch it.

It starts out pretty violent and you think, OH NO! But though there is violence throughout, really, this is a fairy tale. OH NO! But really, it’s about a really amazing pair of brothers who survive being orphaned. The early scenes got me the most. I was very close to my brother growing up and there was always a sense of surviving by helping each other out.

What happens is, and I’m not ruining anything here, Jamal wins the top prize of India’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire but the cops think he cheated because it is implausible that a kid from the slums could know such answers. But then, the movie shows Jamal’s life, in flashback, through very fabulous filming and how it is that he knows the answers. And it’s not from simple accretion of knowledge. He also gets answers right by searching into his understanding of people, of the host of the show, his native intelligence. It’s a brilliant conceit, based on a novel. At times we get a little bogged down by this conceit, but not much.

Over time, the flashback careens into the present story and we get to the final round of the game. And Jamal wins. Again, not a spoiler. You know that up front. And there’s a girl involved. And guns. And mobsters. And lots of slum shots. And India today, changing faster than ever. Beautiful. Beautiful. Chaotic, fantastic, Democratic, messy India.

But really, what I loved mostly were the two brothers surviving childhood.

And: That Danny Boyle can really make a movie. Man.

Go to the website. It’s quite something. You can get lost in it for a week.
slumdog millionaire

And then go see the movie.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Elders Now

What this culture sorely lacks is elders. Smart, removed, wise elders.

We all know if you get too far left or too far right (especially too far right), you run into trouble.

If we had elders who could watch over us, elders who are removed and dispassionate and simply wise, we could ask them to help us. To keep us moderate. To temper the worst in us, especially when we think it is the best in us. The elders could advise us since they have already seen it all.

The elders could say, “Listen, you can’t get too greedy, because when you do, you are too busy trying to collect instead of trying to create. So your products suck. And eventually everything collapses.” They could say that to GM.

Or, the elders could say, “Listen, don’t get too communist with these corn growers. Because then, all you have is a lot of corn. And you’re going to use the corn, for sure. And people get really fat from corn.”

Elders could warn Obama, “Don’t spread yourself too thin, you thin man. Start with two, at most, three programs. And nurture them like crazy. And get everyone on board, focused. If you try to do too much at once, you’re going to make a mess of things.”

Elders could tell Sarah Palin, “You should go back to school. In your case, this would mean keeping very quiet and reading many many books that we will supply.”

Elders could have stopped Nixon. “Spend more time in China. Less with that tape recorder obsession. Obsessions always end in tears.”

Wise, dispassionate elders could have told Hillary Clinton, “If you want to win this one, you better stop acting like you deserve it more than anyone else. People get turned off by that sort of thing.”

Elders could have told G.W., “Though God might be your thing, you have a job to do. If you get too caught up in the clouds or in your holy hunches, the world will fall apart all around you. You act too much by “Godly” impulses and you start playing God. And that’s a holy shame.”

Elders. We need elders.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Miss Information

What irks me into anger is the opinion I read of some religious yokel who stated, and I quote loosely, “Gay marriage is not a civil rights issue. Black people have no choice. They are born black. But gay people choose to be gay.”

This insults everyone.

First of all, I have never met a single Gay person who has chosen to be Gay. I have met some Gay people who have chosen to repress their sexuality and turn to food. This renders them elephantine and certainly date-free. I have met Gay people who took a long time to come out of the closet. This is not a problem, just a journey. But to say that someone chooses to be gay? No wonder there are so many homophobes. They must wake up each day and wonder, “Is today the day I’m going to act on my minor homo-erotic impulses and choose to become a big devil-worshipping homo?”

And even if being gay was actually a choice, well, is it such an awful choice? Considering overpopulation? Actually, given the state of our air, living a gay lifestyle is probably the sanest choice. But friends, you, the Miss Informed, it is not a choice.

Further bad taste:

Saying that Black people are born Black so they have no choice, while being true, just sounds kind of tacky and ill stated.

But let’s move past the victimization of Black people for a moment, which I would never deny or pretend has not been absolutely horrific in our country. Black Americans were treated the worst way possible. And when I imagine slavery, I am filled with murderous rage. I hate it when someone tells me that I have to get up before 10 AM. I cannot imagine someone threatening to whip me if I balked at having to plow the back forty. So, yes, the deal for Black people was rotten and the prejudice, especially in the deep south, let’s face it, has been almost insurmountable. But during the last forty years, at least ideologically, if not materially, it has gotten better. I believe the material will come. Though I do not deny that when you run the numbers on Black wealth compared with White wealth, any human accountant hangs his head in shame. It’s disgusting.

Black people and all Women, with the support of all kinds of other people, have fought like hell for full, equal citizenship in every way. And it has been won. Again, only ideologically. But still, it has been won. So WHY THE FUCK on earth are Black people so against Gay people sharing the same rights? I have to tell you, we Gay people are pretty furious about this. Though the original statement of the religious yokel above made no mention of Black ideological violence against Gay people, I had to add it here. The question of civil rights for Black citizens compared with Gay citizens is no longer the immediate discussion. The real trouble, now, when considering Black citizens and Gay citizens is that Black citizens, by a large majority, want to disenfranchise Gay ones, which eclipses the whole discussion. SHAME, shame, SHAME on you, Black Homophobes who hide behind the cloak of religion. You can’t do that. You must stop it. Today.

Monday, November 10, 2008

This Blog Entry is Brought to You by


I am lucky. When I have a big emotional thing going on, I just get worn out.

I can barely keep my eyes open. I just want to sleep.

And then, I do. For like ten hours.

I hear stories from all sorts of people who have trouble sleeping, especially when they are upset. Me: I just conk out. And for that I am grateful.

So my natural response to our just deceased cat? Nighty night.

Nighty night.

Sweet Puss, Oliver

Adam said it Best:

Dear family and friends,

It is with great sadness that I report that Don and I put our beloved cat Oliver down today. His health had been declining for several weeks and he stopped eating about 10 days ago. His quality of life was rapidly deteriorating and we decided it was best to do it now before it got too bad. Never an easy decision, but we both feel it was the right one. He was 16 1/2, and he died peacefully in my arms, purring right up until the last moment. He was an incredible pet -- so friendly and loving and beautiful. He gave and recieved so much love during his life, and that is a beautiful thing. He will be sorely missed. Goodbye, my boy.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

I'm Really Different (Now) !

I’m Really Different (Now)!
A Musical Performance Piece, with comedy by Karen Kilgariff and Music by Don Cummings. And a guest.

Friday, April 3 @ 9PM.

The Little Room at the New Largo

366 N. La Cienega Blvd. Los Angeles 90048

No Reservations taken. Sixty Seats. Come on.

Ten bucks.

New Material.


“Karen is so funny. The music is great. I’m coming back.”

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Crazy 8

The Mormon Church, Focus on the Family, The Knights of Columbus and the American Family Association along with a bunch of other moronic bozos pumped forty million dollars into the airwaves of California to terrify people (about their children, mostly) into voting YES on Proposition 8.

Fuck them all.

During a civil rights fight, sometimes you have to behave like Martin Luther King Jr., and then sometimes, you gotta go full Malcolm X.

When I was in college I used to say, con motto, “I understand the fury of black people. If I was black, I’d be out of control with anger over being so oppressed. I’d wreak havoc.”

What I was really saying without realizing it was that I was a furious oppressed minority. But it was easier to see it as something outside of myself. For surely, a white guy at a nice college had no reason to be upset. But I was.

And I am.

To have those MMU’s, THE MISERABLE MORMONS OF UTAH, march into California to aid in getting the votes to add an amendment to our constitution to legally discriminate against gay couples is something that cannot be taken like a gentlemen. This now means war.

There is much hope. There is a law in California that states if the constitution is AMENDED, it can be done so by a simple majority referendum (which is ridiculous, but as we have seen, true). However, if the constitution is revised, which in this case it has been REVISED because it removes equal protection for certain citizens, then the only legal course for this REVISED CONSTITUTION action is through the legislature and NOT by referendum.

Legal teams friendly to the equal protection of gay people are moving forward using this tact to beat away this new REVISED constitution parading around as if it were solely an amendment. The response from the terrified religious right? “No fair! You can’t do that! That’s why we did all this and spent all this money! So you can never be heard from again!”

What do they think? The legal battle is over? Really? This will not end until gay marriage is legal in the State of California. I always remember a weird little story about a dog and a rabbit. The dog is running toward the rabbit because it wants to eat it. But the rabbit runs even faster away from the dog because it wants to live.

Gay people want to live. We will run faster and we will win. A hard rain is gonna fall on you, you wretched dogs, and you will go hungry.

My advice:

Miserable Mormons: Stay out of our state.

Knights of Columbus: Go choke on your sauce. Being of half Italian heritage, having even been given some strange awards by your organization in high school for having this boot blood, I once entered your strange hall and I immediately despised your creepy, moldy VFW stench and your peasant, backward parochialism. You make me embarrassed to be Italian. Stay out of our state.

Focus on the Family and The American Family Association: Your children, probably about ten percent of them, are gay. Gay as geese. Gay as ganders. Gay. How nice of you to discriminate against your own children, you vile ideologues. Stay out of our state.

Total war.

For the more than ten million voters who voted YES on proposition 8: You go to bed every night now, understanding that you have reduced your being. You are now smaller. And for this smallness, you will have less. When less comes your way, know that it is a physical manifestation of your decrease. So, when you are in pain due to your decrease, know that this pain was cause by your filling in the YES dot on the ballot card, along with the other small things you do every day that manifest your smallness, you small, scared beasts.

For the almost ten million voters who voted NO on proposition 8: Thank you. Thank you. I have met so many people, most of them straight people, who are as passionate as I am, even more so at times, about the equal rights of every human being in the great State of California. My neighbor still has his NO ON PROP 8 sign up on his lawn, next to a burning candle. It is a kind of vigil, I assume. Thank you, neighbor. Thank you, everyone. The numbers are closing in. It is tight. And soon, with legal action, and any other action we have at hand, we shall overcome.

And if I see any of you miserable Mormons crossing our state line again to spread your hatred, I am going to slap you fucking senseless with a recently used ten inch dildo.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

Young Frankenstein

PLEASE VOTE. Though it would make perfect sense to write about Election Day Eve, I have one more play to write about before I leave New York City to return to Los Angeles for the election night party, and the monster is Young Frankenstein.

Look, I just went because it was a family thing. Two kids coming, one nine and one ten years old.

What do you take these boys to see? Mary Poppins? They had no interest. Spamalot? The parents had already seen it. Billy Elliot? But wouldn’t that look like I was pushing ballet on the boys?

Halloween weekend, Young Frankenstein it is!

Because of the New York Marathon, no one was in town so getting tickets at TKTS was a breeze.

Oh Readers! Young Frankenstein was hilarious. So much better than The Producers, which I experienced as pure pain.

Susan Stroman directed the scary hell out of it. There were physical bits that worked exceptionally well, including physical comedy that tickled one into tears.

The biggest comic role, Igor, was played by Christopher Fitzgerald with a perfect touch and like the rest of the cast, not as an imitation of the original actors from the movie.

Roger Bart as Dr. Frankenstein was perfectly pleasing. I actually worked with him years ago. He was a pleasant chap then and a highly watchable one now. He had such long cool hair when we were in our twenties. Easy going, breezy guy.

Beth Leavel as Frau Bucher hit the right notes. Kelly Sullivan as Inga did what she could with the role. Michele Ragusa stayed so far away from Madeline Kahn in this characterization, you wish she hadn’t.

An added bonus for me was the show was written by Thomas Meehan along with Mel Brooks. Thomas Meehan is from my home town and he wrote, gasp, Annie. On career day in high school, I went to hear him speak about how he wrote Annie---just a handful of us in a classroom. He was speaking again during the afternoon and on career day, you either went in the morning or the afternoon to your chosen event. But I had to go twice, so I could hear him speak again. I went to my French class and told my teacher I was cutting her class to go hear Thomas Meehan, for a second time. She was fine with that.

Look, you can get tickets half price, easily, for Young Frankenstein. And it is worth it. Sure, if you know the movie it is a greater experience. And the music, well, it is not memorable. Actually, there are a couple of times when the singers melted into very close harmonies. One could have enjoyed even more of that. I mean, if you’re going to write a musical, why not write some cool music?

But, frankly, it was all about bits, this play. And they were good bits, well executed, snappy and very funny. Light as a feather. The play felt even faster than the movie.

Lighting techniques were used that made the set seem half stage, half movie, which worked to the show’s advantage. Lightning, too. Huge castle sets. A roll in the hay that flew through the woods. And my, what knockers.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Kindness, written by Adam Rapp, now playing at Playwrights Horizons, is a somewhat absurdist, somewhat naturalistic mysterious murder but not murder play. In a world of sharp alienation and uncaring discord.

What saves the day? Ultimately, there is kindness, which is what this play is all about. Not some feel good kindness, but a bigger kindness, the forgiving kind. A cancer ridden mother who has no energy to try to understand her son and a scorned society girl who is going nowhere except perhaps one day to prison, surround a young man who is quite removed from and saddened by his life.

The society girl kills for cash and eggs on the son to kill his own mother.

If he were to kill her, would it be an act of kindness since he would be putting her out of her misery? Or would it be an act of kindness to not kill her, to let her live the remaining days of her disease ridden life, miserable, vulnerable, coughing up blood. You decide.

I keep seeing plays that have ambiguous endings. Must be the echo effect of a bunch of MFA teachers from ten years ago who are afraid to commit to a point of view for fear of appearing foolish, or maybe they don’t think people should know each other. A shame thing.

But this play, well, Adam Rapp has a special way of making it his, even with the ambiguity. It is not MFA progeny. It is his voice. True and despairing and very funny.

The acting in Kindness is wonderful. Across. Adam Rapp directed and it reminds me that directing one’s own material is often a perfect idea.

The play, while very funny in spots, left me somewhat cold, but then, after the final moments, left me crying my eyes out as I walked along Forty-Second Street beneath the circus lighting of all the urban redevelopment.

This mother/son play, the relationship really beating at the heart of the thing, is simply sad. And though many theatre goers I observed leaving the building had the look of smug subscribers who were thrilled they get to be audience members of such “edgy” “smart” fare, I just thought it was so Fucking sad.

Then I had Moo Shoo Pork.

But then I still thought it was so sad.

I survived the Moo Shoo.

And twenty-four hours passed and I still think it is so sad.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mouth to Mouth

I love The New Group. It’s a solid theatre company doing very solid things. Their biggest hit in recent memory was ABIGAIL’S PARTY by Mike Leigh.

Tonight, with an old friend, I went to see MOUTH TO MOUTH by the very interesting playwright Kevin Elyot. It takes place in a South London suburb. The more I think about it, the greater I think the play is.

When MOUT TO MOUTH ends and you get down to the fundamental skeleton, it seems like it is nothing more than, “He died because of that?” But then, you start to think, oh no, it’s not just that, it’s this, too.

Beware: the relationship between a son and a mother. And many other things.

What Kevin Elyot does as a playwright, in this case, is he presents things that seem so banal. But while banality reigns over the settings and the plot, problematic sex and death lurk at every corner. It is done subtly and surprisingly.

The actors, across, are fantastic. To see this kind of acting, up close (we were third row center) is really what going to live theatre is all about. And as a bonus, by chance, someone I used to act with in college, Andrew Polk, plays the great showy role of the smart, gay, nihilistic, coke snorting doctor. He fits the niche of the modern day priest or bartender: he hears confession and worry but he doesn’t care about it too much. For him, it’s just about survival.

The rest of the cast is spot on. Christopher Abbott as the son (wonderfully real and perfectly attractive), Lisa Emery as Laura (wonderfully real and perfectly brittle) and Elizabeth Jasicki (simply comedic and brilliant) are all lovely to behold. Especially Elizabeth Jasicki—very right kind of spice you want in your play.

The director, Mark Brokaw, with his impressive list of credits, can add this one to the heap. He handled the material delicately, truthfully, slightly creepily, lyrically and with great reality. Ninety minutes.

Fifty Words

You know, sometimes you see a play and your response is, "I am SO GLAD the playwright went after it!"

Michael Weller's FIFTY WORDS at the Lucille Lortel, produced by MCC Theater, was a pretty interesting night of a marital fight.

In about ninety minutes, a couple goes through the huge range of most of the bad things that can happen in a marriage. And it is done deftly. At times, it is executed somewhat oddly. I got the sense that Elizabeth Marvel, as the wife, was not the perfect actor for the role. She was supposed to be a bit of a wacked, ambivalent Bitch. It was mentioned. But she spent much time making smiling faces that covered up, what?

Norbert Leo Butz was more grounded and believable as the angered, frustrated husband.

These two held the stage for the whole evening. You have to hand it to them. Directed by the august Austin Pendelton, you were always pretty clear about exactly what was going on. Though, again, I think a little more mess would have been a great addition. Some random behavior that could add emotional depth to the words of the play.

But, rarely does a play go head on into the bad nastiness of a really rocky marriage. Applause is in order for Michael Weller and for the actors and the director who took it on and really made a solid sandwich out of it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Am a Beagle, No That's Not It

This is the third time I am pulling out this “joke” tonight—and it could very well fall flat here, also for the third time.

There is a famous line in one of the final monologues of THE SEAGULL, uttered by Nina who has returned from the provinces as a pretty failed actress, “I’m a seagull, no that’s not it, I am an actress.”

Back in college, so many actresses would do that monologue in class and usually it was very painful to watch. So I turned to one of my friends, after a particularly bad rendition, and said, “I am a beagle, no that’s not it, I am a mattress.”

Of course, it’s just a rhyming thing and is not high comedy. But to me, the humor lies in the dada quality of picking any old rhyming, useless words. This absurd joke relates to how ridiculous it is that all these untrained college actresses had the nerve to just march into the middle of class and insist upon performing this very difficult monologue. Vanity, surely. But then, at nineteen I auditioned for Juilliard as Biff from DEATH OF A SALESMAN, something best left to straight men, who once played football, over thirty years old and not after a full weekend of being high on mushrooms.

Okay, if you have to explain a joke that much, it clearly is a bad one.

Tonight, we went to see THE SEAGULL based on the most glowing theatre review I have ever read in The New Yorker.

It was beautiful. But it was over directed. It was mostly British actors, from a British production and it seemed like a British play. The British spirit is nothing like the Russian spirit. The play hit me as a very cold thing. Though, Ann Dowd as Polina, suffering from unrequited love, which is a huge theme throughout, delivers reality beautifully. Perhaps because the character is from a lower class? Or because I am from a lower class?

Zoe Kazan, as Masha, understood the humor the best. Of course, it’s the funniest part. But she was lovely.

I felt Kristin Scott Thomas overdid it as Arkadina.

And the director, Ian Rickson, let almost nothing get out of control. Would have been nice if something did.

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's Disgusting But It's True

It’s disgusting, but it’s true. I am looking at black people differently now.

I think it must be insecurity that makes one see others as “other”. Has to be. Then, in this competitive world you can think to yourself, “Well, I have a leg up on that colored one over there.”

It’s disgusting, but it’s true.

I was in a plane today, flying from LA to NY. It was loaded with recently retired African American women who were returning to NY after their retirement celebration trip to California. They were all members of a union. City workers. I asked one of the retired revelers where they worked but I couldn’t get an answer any greater than, “For the city.”

Okay, so they worked for the city.

And, I found myself loving them. Even though they exhibited all the things I usually do not like in city workers. They had huge asses and they moved very slowly (especially up the ramp when we disembarked…and you know how it is when you are getting off the plane, you just want to ZOOM) and from the amount of canes I saw, I assume many of them were collecting disability.

But I didn’t care! They are the new leading race. Something in me snapped. I saw every single black person, every single retired city worker as more human than I ever have before.

There is something else going on here. I made it a special assignment for myself to be more in the moment during this trip. Problem is, when you are a writer, you spend way too much time in your head…which can cut you off from how you are feeling. So, I decided that this trip, I was going to think less and just interact more so that I could have more spontaneous, joyful days.

That could be part of it. But really, I think it’s all about Obama and me. It’s disgusting, but it’s true.

California Did Not Fall Into the Sea

Hello from Big Sur.

There we all were in Big Sur having a wedding for two women who love each other. I was the minister. A Buddhist priest followed and chanted a blessing. These two women are now married according to the laws of California.

And what happened? Big Sur is still Big Sur. The fog still rolls in when you may not want it. Elephant Seals are just an hour away, flopping on the beach. Breakfast is still served.

No on Prop 8. Because there's just no reason for it.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

We Want Your Children

I feel for the Christian Right. In a way.

Tests on brains have shown that conservative people have different brains. Their fear center (the amygdala) is more active.

Poor dears.

So they are more afraid. And the more afraid you are, the more you see things in black and white. No time for touchy-feely gray.

So when they say the crazy statement, “Prop 8 is going to make it so teachers have to teach about gay marriage in school,” well, that’s just their fear talking. But their fear is not unfounded. Sure, this false statement is wrongly reductive and listening to them running and hollering like their hair is on fire is sad. But in a way, their lying statement is a concretized idea that they can bind their fear to. They have murky, scary feelings about gay marriage. This hardcore black and white thing flies out of their mouths, from their fear center, which is basically, “Get your faggot hands off my children!”

The Christian Right should be afraid, though, and I do feel sorry for them. The world continues to evolve, and they still believe in a two-thousand year old myth. Not the most adaptable sorts. It’s difficult to find peace when you are constantly fighting reality. And gay rights, as well as the shear number of gay people, is on the rise. This is real. And perhaps only natural.

Out in the animal kingdom, when population pressures or pecking order pressures get great enough, for many species this leads to an increase in homosexual behavior. I understand that we are not cows or monkeys, but we are cow and monkey enough that perhaps this is going on with us, too. If nothing else, people sure are coming out more readily, in like Junior High. The combination of people feeling more at ease with their sexual orientation and coming out mixed with the cow-monkey POSSIBILITY that there is an increase in the number of gay people because of social pressures mixed with just way more people on earth so way more gay people on earth mixed with television, the internet, modern dance, you just, you can’t swing a double donger without hitting a gay person. And that’s just at your family reunion.

The world is changing. And the Christian Right doesn’t want to face this in the worst way. They are throwing their children toward the voters saying, “My child. My precious child. How can you teach this to my child?”

And you just have to say, “Because maybe your child is a little homo, since there are so many more of them these days the possibility has increased, and wouldn’t it be better if (s)he could be way more relaxed about it? And if (s)he’s straight, wouldn’t it be great if (s)he would be way more relaxed about it, too, since the homos are showing up in droves, like zombies, albeit friendly ones?”

In effect, the Christian Right is right. We are coming after their children. No, it won’t be a law that gay marriage will have to be taught in schools, but there is a much greater chance that gay marriage will be talked about in schools, off the cuff, much as anything that exists on earth is talked about: like whale migration, imaginary numbers, Verdun and state capitols.

The world is changing. It is more open. And it is way more gay. Maybe more so than ever before. And we do want your children. To know it? Yes. Only because it is true. We are coming after your children with our gay openness. Lock them indoors! But don’t be surprised when you turn around if little Matthew is doing a grand jeté across the playroom floor to Clay Aiken’s latest offering. If he can’t help himself, he can’t help himself.

In celebration of California, as a Universal Life minister, I head up to Big Sur to marry two women this weekend. I hope there are children there.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

An End to Slavery

Going to Iraq to take over the oil fields was a really bad idea. Furthermore, if we had succeeded, it would have made slaves of many Iraqi citizens. They know this and that’s why they want us the HELL out of there. They do not want to be enslaved. Who does?

If we want a large energy sector in our economy, then we are going to have to get creative. Not warring, which is a drain in every way, but creative.

Creativity is what drives an economy. And B.O. is a much greater friend to creativity than the Republican buffoons. Let’s create new things! And let the Iraqis have their freedom. Release them.

I look forward to Barak Obama residing in the Oval Office, in great support of creativity, releasing the slaves of Iraq. The final release: by a brilliant American man of color.

Let freedom ring, brothers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hateful Things

Voting Yes on Proposition 8 is a hateful thing.

Adam and I have been married and then dismarried by Multnomah County in Oregon. Tonight was our fifteen year anniversary. We can get married during the next two weeks in the state of California. After that?

And if Proposition 8 is passed, will the people who were married in California while it was legal, will they be able to continue being married? So just a handful of them will exist? Like when they made the EV1 electric car and then discontinued it?

For our fifteenth anniversary, we went to eat at Delancey’s, a new Italian restaurant on Sunset near Gower. It’s a bit of a brew bar, too. Tasty. I highly recommend the white bean and oily tuna crostini.

Then, horror of horrors, we saw Wicked. Friends, as you know, this thing has been running everywhere on earth, forever. What can I say? It’s the Wizard of Oz story from the biographical point of view of the Wicked Witch of the West, based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, partially deconstructing the Land of Oz, but not so deconstructed that the place isn’t still completely recognizable. The one note charleys run around up there as paper characters, circling around and learning to either love or hate the outraged Elphaba who happened to be born with green skin and magical gifts. All sorts of things are made up that tie in with the Wizard of Oz story—it is uneven. It is difficult to tie into another story. You become a slave to that tie in. And one longs for the original Wizard of Oz , not this sideways romp that really, when examined logically, falls apart all over the place. The music screams, “I have worth even though I’m green." The actors in it are up there for almost three hours and they give it their all. You have to take off your big witch hat to them. It can’t be easy. They do it well. Teal Wicks as Elphaba sings wonderfully. Oh goodness, I was bored. Hatefully bored.

The tone was set for this hateful feeling because this morning, I read Sei Shonagon’s Hateful Things. Tenth Century Japan. It’s fantastic. Here it is.

Hateful Things

One is in a hurry to leave, but one's visitor keeps chattering away. If it is someone of no importance, one can get rid of him by saying, "You must tell me all about it next time"; but, should it be the sort of visitor whose presence commands one's best behavior, the situation is hateful indeed.
One finds that a hair has got caught in the stone on which one is rubbing one's inkstick, or again that gravel is lodged in the inkstick, making a nasty, grating sound.
Someone has suddenly fallen ill and one summons the exorcist. Since he is not at home, one has to send messengers to look for him. After one has had a long, fretful wait, the exorcist finally arrives, and with a sigh of relief one asks him to start his incantations. But perhaps he has been excorcizing too many evil spirits lately, for hardly has he installed himself and begun praying when his voice becomes drowsy. Oh, how hateful!
A man who has nothing in particular to recommend him discusses all sorts of subjects at random as though he knew everything.
An elderly person warms the palms of his hands over a brazier and stretches out the wrinkles. No young man would dream of behaving in such a fashion; old people can really be quite shameless. I have seen some dreary old creatures actually resting their feet on the brazier and rubbing them against the edge while they speak. These are the kind of people who in visiting someone's house first use their fans to wipe away the dust from the mat and, when they finally sit on it, cannot stay still but are forever spreading out the front of their hunting costume or even tucking it up under their knees. One might suppose that such behavior was restricted to people of humble station, but I have observed it in quite well-bred people, including a Senior Secretary of the Fifth Rank in the Ministry of Ceremonial and a former Governor of Suruga.
I hate the sight of men in their cups who shout, poke their fingers in their mouths, stroke their beards, and pass on the wine to their neighbors with cries of "Have some more! Drink up!" They tremble, shake their heads, twist their faces, and gesticulate like children who are singing, "We're off to see the governor!" I have seen really well-bred people behave like this and I find it most distasteful.
To envy others and complain about one's own lot; to speak badly about people; to be inquisitive about the most trivial matters and to resent and abuse people for not telling one, or, if one does manage to worm out some facts, to inform everyone in the most detailed fashion as if one had known all from the beginning -- oh, how hateful!
One is just about to be told some interesting piece of news when a baby starts crying.
A flight of crows circle over with loud caws.
An admirer has come on a clandestine visit, but a dog catches sight of him and starts barking. One feels like killing the beast.
One has been foolish enough to invite a man to spend the night in an unsuitable place -- and then he starts snoring.
A gentleman has visited one secretly. Though he is wearing a tall, lacquered hat, he nevertheless wants no one to see him. He is so flurried, in fact, that on leaving he bangs into something with his hat. Most hateful! It is annoying too when he lifts up the Iyo blind that hangs at the entrance of the room, then lets it fall with a great rattle. If it is a head-blind, things are still worse, for being more solid it makes a terrible noise when it is dropped. There is no excuse for such carelessness. Even a head-blind does not make any noise if one lifts it up gently when entering and leaving the room; the same applies to sliding-doors. If one's movements are rough, even a paper door will bend and resonate when opened; but, if one lifts the door a little when pushing it, there need be no sound.
One has gone to bed and is about to doze off when a mosquito appears, announcing himself in a reedy voice. One can actually feel the wind made by his wings, and, slight though it is, one finds it hateful in the extreme.
A carriage passes by with a nasty, creaking noise. Annoying to think that the passengers may not even be aware of this! If I am traveling in someone's carriage and I hear it creaking, I dislike not only the noise but the owner of the carriage.
One is in the middle of a story when someone butts in and tries to show that he is the only clever person in the room. Such a person is hateful, and so, indeed, is anyone, child or adult, who tries to push himself forward.
One is telling a story about old times when someone breaks in with a little detail that he happens to know, implying that one's own version is inaccurate -- disgusting behavior!
Very hateful is a mouse that scurries all over the place.
Some children have called at one's house. One makes a great fuss of them and gives them toys to play with. The children become accustomed to this treatment and start to come regularly, forcing their way into one's inner rooms and scattering one's furnishings and possessions. Hateful!
A certain gentleman whom one does not wish to see visits one at home or in the Palace, and one pretends to be asleep. But a maid comes to tell one and shakes one awake, with a look on her face that says, "What a sleepyhead!" Very hateful.
A newcomer pushes ahead of the other members in a group; with a knowing look, this person starts laying down the law and forcing advice upon everyone -- most hateful.
A man with whom one is having an affair keeps singing the praises of some woman he used to know. Even if it is a thing of the past, this can be very annoying. How much more so if he is still seeing the woman! (Yet sometimes I find it is not as unpleasant as all that.)
A person who recites a spell himself after sneezing. In fact I detest anyone who sneezes, except the master of the house.
Fleas too, are very hateful. When they dance about under someone's clothes, they really seem to be lifting them up.
The sound of dogs when they bark for a long time in chorus is ominous and hateful.
I cannot stand people who leave without closing the panel behind them.
I hate people whose letters show that they lack respect for worldly civilities, whether by discourtesy in the phrasing or by extreme politeness to someone who does not deserve it. This sort of thing is, of course, most odious if the letter is for oneself, but it is bad enough even if it is addressed to someone else.
As a matter of fact, most people are too casual, not only in their letters but in their direct conversation. Sometimes I am quite disgusted at noting how little decorum people observe when talking to each other.
Sometimes a person who is utterly devoid of charm will try to create a good impression by using very elegant language; yet he succeeds only in being ridiculous. No doubt he beleives this refined language to be just what the occasion demands, but, when it goes so far that everyone bursts out laughing, surely something must be wrong.
A man who has nothing in particular to recommend him, but who speaks in an affected tone and poses as being elegant.
An inkstone with such a hard, smooth surface that the stick glides over it without leaving any deposit of ink.
Ladies-in-waiting who want to know everything that is going on.
Sometimes one greatly dislikes a person for no particular reason --- and then that person goes and does something hateful.**
A gentleman who travels alone in his carriage to see a procession or some other spectacle. What sort of man is he? Even though he may not be a person of the greatest quality, surely he should have taken along a few of the many young men who are anxious to see the sights. But no, there he sits by himself (one can see his silhouette through the blinds) with a proud look on his face, keeping all his impressions to himself.
A lover who is leaving at dawn announces that he has to find his fan and his paper. "I know I put them somewhere last night," he says. Since it is pitch-dark, he gropes about the room, bumping into the furniture and muttering, "Strange! Where can they be?" Finally he discovers the objects. He thrusts the paper into the breast of his robe with a great rustling sound; then he snaps open his fan and busily fans away with it. Only now is he ready to take his leave. What charmless behavior! "Hateful" is an understatement.
Equally disagreeable is the man who, when leaving in the middle of the night, takes care to fasten the cord of his headdress. This is quite unnecessary; he could perfectly well put it gently on his head without tying the cord. And why must he spend time adjusting his cloak or hunting costume? Does he really think that someone may see him at this time of night and criticize him for not being impeccably dressed?
A good lover will behave as elegantly at dawn as at any other time. He drags himself out of bed with a look of dismay on his face. The lady urges him on: "Come, my friend, it's getting light. You don't want anyone to find you here." He gives a deep sigh, as if to say that the night has not been nearly long enough and that it is agony to leave. Once up, he does not instantly pull on his trousers. Instead, he comes close to the lady and whispers whatever was left unsaid during the night. Even when he is dressed, he still lingers, vaguely pretending to be fastening his sash.
Presently he raises the lattice, and the two lovers stand together by the side door while he tells her how he dreads the coming day, which will keep them apart; then he slips away. The lady watches him go, and this moment of parting will remain among her most charming memories.
Indeed, one's attachment to a man depends largely onthe elegance of his leave-taking. When he jumps out of bed, scurries about the room, tightly fastens his trouser-sash, rolls up the sleeves of his Court cloak, over-robe, or hunting costume, stuffs his belongings into the breast of his robe and then briskly secures the outer sash -- one really begins to hate him.

** Favorite.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Two Sides to Every Story

Of course, the intelligent, steady B. Obama is going to win this election. This excites me, internationally speaking, because B.O. understands there are two sides to every story. I am impressed with his foreign policy thrust: to see other countries as real places, deserving to be considered, fully. I am not talking about Iran, so much, but more, his general attitude--that we are part of this huge world and everything we do affects everyone else and vice versa.

So--in any conflict, President B.O. understands, it's not just what YOU want, but also, what does THE OTHER PLACE want? It's a bigger, more generous view. Where generosity exists creativity can flourish, problems can be solved.

Republicans are famous for HOME LAND, WE ARE NUMBER ONE, PATRIOTISIM, VICTORY!-- this is a very one sided view of the world. It just screams, ME! WIN! NOW! MINE! I GOTTA HAVE IT! PRIDE! GIMME! I'M BETTER! HUNGRY! KILL!

The problem with sticking to the one sided view is one ends up stoking one's inner monster into action. Eventually, the monster within will grow and break its way out and try to eat all the villagers of the world.

And if you are very unlucky, a camera might catch that inner monster. Some would even recognize it as a gargoyle.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Election Trains

Have a fabulous trip. You got on the right train.

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Language is Thought

Tonight’s final debate showed the poor ancient mariner, McCain, exasperated and cranky as usual. You really were waiting for him to shout, “Hey you, get off my lawn.”

Besides dismissing the very serious issue of a woman’s right to her own health during pregnancy, McCain also dismissed Obama, twice, for his eloquence.

This can only backfire. Eloquence is a virtuosic use of language. Language is thought. Obama’s great eloquence is an expression of his great command of his well formulated thoughts. Obama’s access to his full range of well studied information and well formulated policies into cohesive language puts us all at rest. A huge sigh of relief. A smart man has arrived. And he is going to figure some stuff out. And he is going to talk about it clearly as he is doing it. Eloquence.

I am all for eloquence. And for a woman’s right to choose.

Now, read this hilarious posting from October 7 by Helen Philpot.

Margaret and Helen Post: Maverick My Ass Hilarious. Take time to read her other posts, too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Buckley Stops Here

Christopher Buckley, the son of the conservative creator of National Review, William F. Buckley Jr., resigned from his post at the magazine because he endorsed Obama instead of McCain.

He couldn’t take the hate mail


COULD IT BE that he has seen the emptiness of the conservative movement, a callow lot that wants power and financial gain at all costs, while offering nothing in return?

It was a pretty dicey move for him to endorse Obama. Of course, I remember when all those damn Democrats voted for Reagan and the Dems didn’t drum those people out of the fold.

Why so dogmatic, ye Republicans? Smells like the end—

Christopher Buckley, one assumes, is intelligent enough to know what kind of beasts surround him, so when he endorsed Obama on Tina Brown’s The Daily Beast, he probably knew what was in store.

And maybe, just maybe, like his father, he stood up for what he believed in, for what is the correct and sane choice at this moment and for that he was handed his head.

And McCain still proffers supply side economics. While Rome (and Los Angeles) burns.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Was Reading Some Seneca This Morning

I was reading some Seneca this morning in Lopate’s great book The Art of the Personal Essay.

One piece was about NOISE, the other about ASTHMA.

Living as I do, in smoggy, loud L.A., I was struck by the similarities to ancient Rome.

What struck me most about the asthma piece was Seneca’s take on death, a take that I have had for years. It gave me great peace and a little hit to my vanity that Seneca and I, on very separate occasions, separated by about two-thousand years, arrived at the same conclusion: Death is going to be just like it was before you were born, and that wasn’t particularly painful, was it?

The Roman Classicists were so pragmatic.

Imagine if you will the day before you were born. What was that day like? If you are a pro-life blastula fetishist, then imagine the day before you were conceived. What was that day like for you? There’s death for you.

When you go to your great reward, I imagine it is that day. Get the New York Times front page all about that day. That’s where you’re heading.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Someone, very liberal, who is absolutely voting for Obama turned to me the other night while a bit drunk and joked:

What does the CHANGE in Obama’s campaign stand for?

Couldya Help a Nigger Get Elected?

If you missed Frank Rich’s Op-Ed this weekend, do take a click below.

Obama the Terrorist

Friday, October 10, 2008

Doing the Gay Math

Proposition 8, which will be voted on in the state of California on November 4, will take away the rights of same sex partners to marry.

It could pass. Though, men and men and women and women have been getting married for months and it doesn’t seem to be weakening traditional marriage or destroying children. So perhaps, people will vote to allow these benign gay rights to remain intact.

Being gay, one struggles.

I remember in high school turning to my friend H, a light spirited, musically talented blond girl, asking her about some of the jocks she knew, “Why do those guys hate me so much? I didn’t do anything.”

Really, I just wanted to be liked, like any other teenager. And I was. But I was also despised, sort of. I say sort of because I was only despised for an attribute of me, not all of me.

Being despicable for no other reason than a condition of who you are, at rest, is pretty wretched stuff.

Why do I slide back to high school? Because that is when most people are honest. And though it is painful, it is all so clear.

So you have to ask, why would someone hate you so much for something like that?
My answer: I think anyone who was different in any way was hated.
And why is that?
My answer: Because competition is fierce and any aggression that can be used against you to push you out of the pool, permanently, of “real competitors” is a boon to the aggressor.

Numbers. Human beings are mathy. This math is used to gain the competitive edge. Strong, able kids of medium intelligence calculate the curve of what is allowable in terms of character traits. The fewer people within that curve, the better, because those are the only “real” people you will have to compete with. There is a collective choice by the inner curvers to agree to keep all the others they deem unfit, out. This reduces stress for those who remain within the margins of “normal” since the number of possible competitors becomes collectively decreased.

Any attempt to allow more people into the allowable area of the curve is stressful for people all ready inside. It means more competition. Besides, with more character traits flying around, which would increase if the unallowed were allowed, the rules would get looser. And then, with looser rules, how do you know exactly how to compete? More stress.

Eventually, the allowable numbers do increase because sane people are the force behind the vector of social change (Voltaire, King) and this is infuriating to those who were trying so hard to keep the numbers down. (And rightfully so, since isn’t it in their best interest to keep competition reduced?)

It’s just math. And it just takes a little bit of awareness to realize this. I am upset about the thousands of Californians who want to take away gay rights because they are bigoted and lazy enough that they want to compete less. In addition, I loathe them for being so stupid. It’s simple math.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Psychological Profile of a Moose Hunter

The following blog entry from my friend, “Postcards from Hell’s Kitchen” puts forth a striking psychological profile written by Debbie Ford about the lipsticked Sarah Palin. It is a bit self indulgent, as all psychological writing is, and questionable in its results since it begins and ends so reductively, on the one hand.
But on the other hand, it is juicy, damning, intelligent and makes me shudder with agreement.

I do not believe in a definitive, complete diagnosis of any individual. Obviously, most everyone has too many sides, too many relationships drawing out those sides, that to say someone is a complete narcissist or totally passive aggressive or 100% depressive, you choose the neural calamity, is more a reflection of the sayer’s inability to see a larger composite of someone’s traits.

However, one does like to be given proof for one’s opinions. Sure, all discourse is suspect. We endure the introduction, thesis, support, with a final, “In conclusion,” knowing too well that the support is chosen from a limited, self-serving field of vision and the conclusion, though obviously emanating from the author’s logic, may not emerge in the mind of any given reader the same way—but who cares?

Let’s get to it:

Seductress Sarah

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Depression Will be PVRd

Obama is going to inherit a mess, but since he is a large thinker, drawing large thinkers will come naturally. These people will problem solve, incentivize, manage and stand firm. With a Democratic House and Senate.

With the help of Hillary Clinton.

And so many others.

Though Iceland has gone out of business, which is pretty interesting, and has taken a loan from Russia to stay open, I do not believe we will suffer as greatly. Of course, China has done for us over the long haul what Russia is going to do for Iceland overnight.

Sloppy, mismanaged decade, one could say. Never let the debt get too big. People keep forgetting this.

But there we sat on our sofa, watching the presidential debates, which we PVR’d. In fact, we PVR’d four channels because we like to watch the variety of commentary afterward. How can there be a depression when I can record four channels of television, simultaneously?

B.O. has a Big Plan. And it smells pretty good.

J.M., well, hard to play on those letters. Poor old man, rambling around that red carpet like old Uncle Charlie at some nephew’s graduation party, a nephew he doesn’t like much, and it’s past bed time. Wheezing into the microphone as he bee-lined to the next question.

Referring to the future president of the United States as “That One” was quite a shock. It reminded me of my grandmother who was born in 1910. She referred to people she didn’t like as “That One.” She also said of her own sister, in disgust, “Up her hole.”

One wonders what is going to come out of Mr. McCain’s mouth next. Maybe something like, “I am replacing Sarah Palin,” or “I concede the election.”

Can’t wait for That One.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Who Needs Money, Really?

As the banks fail, so don’t we.

Human beings are loaded with moxie.

I think I even still remember how to make corn muffins.

Since corn is eternal, I probably won’t go hungry.

This contraction, this big huge contraction, like a dying octopus caving in right through the middle of his beak, well, it’s a sea change.

Sometimes a certain era becomes just a big dead octopus. And there the suckered carcass rots on the ocean floor. People are freaked out about death. I think there are a few religions out there based on this fear. But death is pretty cool. Think what comes from death! New life. New ideas. I even got $250 this year when my Great Aunt Rose died.

Systems or portions of systems die. It’s a cleansing. People will be more cautious where they put their money after this. It is time for caution. Thought. Introspective creativity. New templates.

It is best if we are in a state of slow motion for these kinds of things to take form. How can you create new systems and implement them if everyone is going super fast? You can’t.

So, the contraction had to happen. It’s about China. It’s about the environment. It’s about war. It’s about atomized egos.

Get into the slowness. Find your groovy, relaxed, aware self. Try to keep your easy lifestyle capitalized as best you can. Understand it is better to focus on the health and happiness of living beasts than it is to focus on super successes. Invite your neighbors over for a pot roast. Invite me over for a pot roast.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The RACE is on

I had sympathy for Sarah Palin? Because Katie Couric asked her very simple questions and she could not answer them? That she was so dumbfounded and vulnerable and looked like such a terrified loser that I thought she was the victim of the terrible running-mate choice actions of cynical play-to-the-base politics? That I actually saw her humanity and wanted to hold her in my arms and tell her it was all going to be okay?

And what did I get for my compassion? An ego-drunk girl-child. A power hungry lunatic. She wants to get into office so bad, praying for McCain’s death, so she can become, GASP, president. Or at the least, a Cheney level policy controller. She wants it like dogs want pot roast, like vampires want blood, like low end beauty pageant queens want undeserved fame.

Please excuse me for falling for her for one second.

She’s back to her old tricks of speaking with forked tongue and winking in code. She is trying to scare people with lies, as we have seen this week. “Barak Obama pals around with terrorists…he’s not like you or I.”

It is racism, fear-of-otherness, whatever you want to call it. She is a tiny-souled monster.

Sarah Palin is diseased pond scum.

I release her off my radar.

And now for the positive antidote:
Time to watch Richard Trumka. I surely cried.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Body Snatching

I want to put something out here about Sarah Palin.

She was out of her body during the debate. To me, that’s all that matters. If you’re out of your body, you’re out of your mind, you’re out of synch with what’s really going on.

She was still the terrified woman (girl) looking to be loved, winking at the camera like some bloated Jon Benet Ramsey. She is a weather girl. If she were a man (boy) up there with his hair all up and winking at the camera, I’d say he was a weather boy.

What was most telling was at the end of the debate she and Biden, good sports, both, came together for a gentlemanly shake. She hung onto him, not literally, but emotionally, almost as if she were saying, “Oh my God, I got through it, did you think I got through it? What do you think Daddy? Tell me I did okay. Glad that’s over. Phew!”

Not long ago, I felt sorry for Palin as she dug herself into an incoherent hole in front of Katie Couric. Now, she has redeemed herself in the art of being able to speak in sentences with noun, verb, noun, verb. But that’s about it.

The McCain campaign has nothing. She has nothing. It’s not her fault. But what is disgusting and troublesome to me, and it is something I have witnessed in many of their brethren whether they are running for office or not, Republicans are often detached from their bodies, floating around in wacky ideology, soaring around their projected world view in complete fear.

This fear feeds into their egos which feed into their terror of communal answers to huge problems. Their fear drives them to want every single problem solved with market forces which is just an economic term for competition. Their fear requires competition in everything.

I’ll have none of it.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Why am I feeling so Blue?

And why does it feel so good?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What Way to Make a Living

Tonight, at the Ahmanson, I witnessed the musical 9 to 5. They took the movie, added tons of new songs by Dolly Parton, lots of 1979 office design, catchy choreography, expressive mid-century Dali-esque sequences, a huge screen in the rear with backlit visual effects, very particular period props (a great sequence with a tank of a photocopier), a couple of the musical theatre stars from Wicked and Allison Janney who is totally game and solid. It was enjoyable. Directed by Joe Mantello.

The show stopper was in Act II when Judy, played by Stephanie Block (originally played by Jane Fonda in the movie) sang Get Out and Stay Out, a plea to her ex-husband to leave her be so she could get on with her life of empowered single womanhood. Stephanie, as many people know, can sing he ass off. She certainly did tonight. Force of nature, really.

Look, I don’t know why people like musicals so much. Hell, I love them. There’s something about sitting there with all that going on. It’s a great expression of life. You have story, acting, design, music, dancing. What else could you throw in there? I guess sex and guns. But wait! This play has those, too.

I don’t know if I would suggest that you should put down your white out and run down to the Ahmanson to see this office musical right this minute. I mean, it’s pretty corny and the cause-vagine is so thirty years ago, it is hard to understand why one would need to see it now. And as a piece of feminist history, let’s face it, how could it carry any weight? Being a musical-from-a-movie-via-Dolly Parton-etc.?

But it’s a romp. And maybe the point is, it can be just a romp now that we’ve come so far in the work place. Sure, women still don’t make as much money as men for the same work and men are still pigs in their hearts if not in their actions, but there have been considerable advancements. Just look at C. Rice or S. Palin or that CEO, who was she?

The play is less political than it is entertaining. And there we are. This show is on its way to Broadway. Try to get free tickets.