Thursday, August 31, 2006

On Todd Haynes

Stereogum posts this link to a French website called Le Journal de Chambly with pictures of Cate from the upcoming Todd Haynes movie, I'm Not There.

All those who tolerated me during the Far From Heaven period will know that I adore Todd Haynesand I have a mild crush on him and I saw Far From Heaven three times in the theater and it continues to baffle me with its beauty and strangeness. This is a minor point of contention with JW and me -- not my mild crush on Todd (although, did you know about that, JW?), but my raging crush on that movie. I try not to bring it up in his presence because he scoffs with dismissal and then refuses to back up his distaste for this great American film. I think he also tries not to bring it up because he has to endure my grandiose statements about its brilliance and my outrage at his refusal to concede my right stance on the matter. Forgive him, Todd; he does like Velvet Goldmine, if it's any consolation.

Anyway, I love Far From Heaven so much that I managed to get into a special Backstage West event for a screening (my third) with a question-and-answer session after with Julianne Moore and Mr. Haynes himself. I spent the whole movie working up the nerve to ask a deep, probing question about the thematic resonance of the breakdown of language during the film's moments of high emotional tension, but I chickened out when I realized the whole thing was being filmed for the DVD extras.

Anyway, I love that movie and I love Safe and I love Velvet Goldmine, even if it is kind of a mess of a movie, but it's such a beautiful mess, and honestly, any clever indie gay director who counts Julianne Moore as a museand has the bravado to cast Cate Blanchett (among others) as Bob Dylan looking like thiswill have to endure my continued mild infatuation. Good luck with the movie Todd! I'm rooting for you!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Gay parties for puppet theater!

How fun is this New York Magazine story?
The party, which [Tim Young, founder and director of Brooklyn’s Puppetry Arts Theatre] promotes on Craigslist and Manhunt, is supposed to be restricted to “lean, in-shape guys! No fats, chubs, dads, or bears! Thirty-looking and under.” But he’d rather admit a zhlub than have him get annoyed and cause a ­ruckus out front.
I actually think he should expand a little for maximum fundraising. Have that fat/chub/dad/bear night on Friday and the twink night on Saturday. He'll be moving into a big Off-Broadway house in no time!

Thanks to The Fagat Guide for the link.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sunset Junction 2006

One of these years I'm going to remember to take a camera.

A highlight was meeting my favorite L.A. playwright blogger whom I had never met, Erik, at My Year of New Things. Now he's one of my favorite L.A. playrwight bloggers whom I have met. I link to him over on the side, but check it out at the quick link above and post a comment. And he'll respond about a dozen times. It's fun!

Another highlight was watching Hank Williams III and the Damn Band. From a distance. That mess was out of control. To quote Bob, "those guys are NOT fucking around!" I liked their hillbilly punk better than the hillbilly death metal, I have to say, although the latter portion of the concert contained my favorite song title, "Drink, Fuck, and Kill." The bassist was my favorite; I was going to post a picture of him but I'm having Blogger issues, so I'll just post a link here. Am I wrong, or would that guy rip out Jeremy Piven's ascot-wearing throat with his teeth if he had to? I like to think so.

Aside from that, the usual great Sunset Junction experiences were all in effect -- walking til your feet hurt, eating bad carney food, running into friends by accident, hanging out with friends on purpose, cold beer in the warm sun, hot shirtless guys and other freaks, and cute dogs.

Pictures next year, I promise!

UPDATE: Erik has pictures and a fun blog post here.

Evidence of the absurdity of Jeremy Piven, Exhibit Q

And it's exhibit Q for a reason, folks.

UPDATE: The Fug Girls have a different take here.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I had a little fun

on my lunch break, just letting myself go a little and scribble in my cute little notebook, jumping around from scene to scene in this little short story I'm thinking about, breaking occasionally for stream-of-consciousness confessional stuff, then writing a little more for the story. I think I'm going to do some kind of workshop next week, too. I can't really afford it right now, but I think it'll be fun and helpful, etc.

See ya at Sunset Junction! I'll be checking out Hank Williams III on Sunday. Or cooling off at Akbar or something.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Not much is

going on, except that I made myself sit down and do some writing last night because I had a moment yesterday morning that made me want to write a short story about it, and I'm just into jump-starting myself into writing again, not that I haven't been writing, but I haven't consistently been writing and I've been avoiding the meaty, substantial things I've been either kinda working on wanting to work on, so I went to Coffee Table last night because I miss camping out there and writing and I miss Silver Lake, although I'm excited for Sunset Junction and I'm going on Sunday, and I started this little short story I was thinking about all day yesterday and it occurred to me that I could link it somehow to another short story I've worked on off and on for the past few months, and then it occurred to me that I could write about three more using some of the same characters, and then I thought it might be fun to make a kind of cycle of interconnected short stories, and then I thought it might be cool as a screenplay too, so now I've created one, possibly two, big projects I'm interested in working on, even though I haven't finished a first draft of Sheila Take a Bow and I haven't really dug in and committed to Half A Person (and I promise, I'm lifting no more Smiths titles, and yes I know I used that joke in my bio for both Queer Exchange and my reading in July but not all of you came to those, now did you, not that I'm keeping track or anything), and I have kernels of both one more screenplay and one more play waiting to be popped and I don't know why I felt the need to toss in a weird food metaphor, except to say that my short story cycle/screenplay of vignettes might be working some heavy food metaphors, and I really don't know what I should do about any of this, although I guess I kinda do, in that I need to finish what I started, then start the new things, or start the new things as long as I'm not abandoning what I already started, but I still feel kinda weird about proceeding at all, perhaps meditating on how worthwhile the whole endeavor is in the first place and thinking maybe I should find a career in metalworking or something of the labor classes, because I'm really more up for physical labor than you might think, or at least I used to be, although I guess I was miserable most of the time I stacked lumber at that furniture factory and bags of catfish feed at that feed plant when I was in college, but still, I did my time, I paid my dues, as they say, but when do I get to stop paying dues? I'm just wondering.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Quinceanera

Rather than give a tradional review of this movie, or one of my OHMYGODILOVETHISMOVIE reviews, I thought I'd just point out some of the elements I found to be most resonant. Although before I get all deep I have to say that the three leads are WONDERFUL-I-LOVE-THEM-SO-MUCH-THEY-ARE-SO-GREAT!

Oh, and in the following I talk about the movie as if you know what it's about, so here's a review and synopsis, if you need it. I don't think you need a spoiler alert before you read the rest of this post, but if you're antsy about that sort of thing, read with caution.

1. Progress: The film is most obviously about the notion of progress to me. Not so much "making progress" or "progressiveness," although it is about those things, but about the progression of time, of children to adulthood. Throughout there is an emphasis on the electronics in the movie -- cell phones, camera phones, text messaging, etc -- and I remember as I watched it wondering how all that fit in. In retrospect it makes perfect sense; it even seems like it should be a tad overbearing and obvious, but I don't think it is. It's just a natural part of this very heavily textured universe the filmmakers have created, one that doesn't pull a lot of punches, one that is not afraid to convey a sort of ambivalence about the kinds of progress occurring in gay culture, Latino culture, American culture, or youth culture.

2. Texture: While the story is not without its familiar plot complications, the world of Quinceanera practically wraps itself around the audience with its honesty and authenticity. So much of the details in the movie, from the characterizations, to the dialogue ("Oh Carlos! You'll ruin your looks!" -- favorite line, hands down), to the shifts from English to Spanish and back again, to the unflattering depiction of the Echo Park gay homeowners (and I know a couple of Echo Park gay homeowners -- I promise, they aren't all that bad), they all are so vibrant that they more than make up for any of the film's imperfections. In fact, the imperfections become a part of that texture, but I'm not really prepared to get all meta about this thing, so I think I'll move on....

3. About that gay storyline: I read a review taking issue with the unflattering depiction of the gay social world young Carlos becomes briefly seduced by, and, while I would agree that it is most unflattering, it has every reason to be, and it doesn't feel the slightest bit unfair in its portraiture. Although I did wish for one more scene between Carlos and the couple that seduces him -- a scene that might humanize them a tad more while perhaps tying up what felt like a bit of an emotional loose end for me -- I didn't really blame them for avoiding that resolution. Carlos' story is so unusual to me -- a tender coming-of-age story revolving around a tattooed, gang-sign-throwing gay thief -- but I related so closely to it. Those feelings do stay hurt; those loose ends don't get tied up. This lack of sentimentality in the handling of this subplot is what made it stand head-and-shoulders over most gay coming-of-age stories I come across.

But to get back to the depiction of the affluent gay characters -- ugh, how I've been to those kinds of parties these characters are constantly throwing. You know the ones I mean; the stumbly drunken parties where all the gay men in the room are either not talking to you out of haughty disinterest or not talking to you because they're too busy leering at you and/or anyone else who might look slightly game? Or the pretentious dinner parties with the clothes and the gaudy male jewelry and the hair product all accentuated by so much candlelight and prejudicial bitchery? Those ring a bell?

And what is this about fetishizing ethnic minorities? This is a major thematic element of Quinceanera, and bravely exposed by the white gay filmmakers, if you ask me, but I have to say I find it a little baffling. Frankly, I've always found it baffling in real life, but I'm definitely curious about what drives it in gay culture; the filmmakers seem to have an idea, but I wouldn't have minded if they let us in a little more. What exactly are they trying to say about class or racial dominance in the exoticizing and sexualizing of a specific ethnic group? Don't get me wrong; I'd be the last person to suggest there wasn't something esoteric about human attraction, and I don't think it's impossible for a person to be highly attracted to a certain ethnicity without any other explanation necessary, but just wait until you see the film...the way these queens talk of their dalliance with Carlos while they're moving into his neighborhood, driving property values up, and basically taking over, well it's just so nauseating. It's a rich detail, but it's something that almost begs for more attention and investigation. Has Spike Lee already made that movie? I'm not sure....

4. Look closer: I hate to refer to American Beauty here, but by coincidence this weekend I was reminded of that movie's catchphrase, and it seemed appropriate in my thoughts about Quinceanera. While I might've missed that last scene between Carlos and the gay couple that engages him, the last scene the filmmakers do give us involving the gay couple, while simple and brief, communicates what I think is the nicest thing about this movie. They walk onto the property of the family they've just evicted, and they see all of the color and character the family had erected there, including pictures of Carlos, whom they treated with debatable amounts of humanity; here they see real humanity; they see Carlos; meaning in the lives of others; they look closer. It may seem hackneyed, but if anything, I think it is the best message to be taken from this movie (and it's layed in with far more subtlety than the plastic bag movie I just mentioned, and to different ends). In so many moments, characters are benefitted by not only the insight they gain by just paying attention, but by understanding their social connectedness in Echo Park, this ever-changing neighborhood, this microcosm of our changing nation and world.

One of my favorite tossed-off details in the movie (and there are loads of them) is a short interaction at the beginning of a scene. The camera starts on a couple of Eastside hipsters buying tamales from a vendor at a storefront, complete with retro-clothes and funky hair, talking about how they've found the best tamales in the whole neighborhood. Then the camera follows a Latina mother through the store and into the back, where the scene actually takes place sans hipsters. It underlines that there is an entire world behind people we only have passing relationships with, regardless of whether you relate more to the Latina mother or the white hipsters. Maybe we interact with these people out of necessity; maybe we interact with them to exoticize, to thrill us out of our quotidian lives; maybe we try not to interact with them at all. But if we look closer, if we get to know, to try to understand our surroundings deeply, then all that progress, for better or worse, might enrich all our lives the way we've all been made to believe it should. It's a simple idea, eloquently stated time and again in the best new movie I've seen yet this year. Wow, I didn't intend to end this post that way, but there you are. Go see it it's so good!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Finally

I have time to write about Dog Day Afternoon.

What to say?

I have no idea. Other than the fact that is is ABSO-EFFING-LUTELY BRILLIANT. It is all these things:

A complex capitalist critique in the guise of a heist movie.

A richly textured portrait of a city and an era in the guise of a heist movie.

An unsentimental character study in the guise of a heist movie.

An honest, ambivalent, uncompromising portrait of the complexity of human sexuality and relationships in the guise of a heist movie.

You can imagine which one of these is the most resonant to me. Seriously, this movie makes Brokeback Mountain look totally simple-minded.

Actually, the way in which I think it is REALLY the most resonant to me is the suggestion of journalistic detachment in the direction and the script. The lack of score only emphasizes this quality. If pressed, I'd admit that I don't think there's anything journalistic or detached about the film -- it feels defiantly political to me -- but still, there's this sense of slice-of-life realism in the presentation, which allows all the tensions to emerge between the establishment and the outsider in myriad ways: cop/thief, gay/straight, man/woman, prude/progressive, cultural/personal, just to name a few. Combine all that with at least a dozen richly drawn characters and across-the-board stunning performances, and you have one of the most devastating, surprising, and subversive Hollywood movies I think I've ever seen.

It's interesting to read the critics from the period as they write about the movie; there seems to be a focus solely on the slice-of-life, portrait-of-New York quality and the tour de force of Al Pacino's performance, but (and I know journalists have deadlines and word limits) they don't seem to get it, you know? Even Pauline Kael's brief writings on the movie seem surprisingly shallow (for her, anyway). I had seen the film before, but I had little memory of its edge. Seeing it at the Arclight a couple of weeks ago convinced me of its potency; starting with Pacino's thief Sonny throwing money at cheering crowds; continuing with the camera settling on an ad in the bank persuading customers to save their money towards their dream vacations; settling also on long takes during Sonny's tragic conversation with his pre-op transsexual wife Leon (and talk about honesty...they don't write it like this anymore...they don't even improv it like this anymore); oh, and don't forget the gay activists arriving to cheer on their fellow fag the bank-robber; this movie is full of paradox on top of paradox; it is joyously, heartbreakingly human, and joyously, heartbreakingly American; it makes me want to start quoting Walt Whitman; I have to stop now.

Note to Hollywood studio execs. Pls. Screen this movie. Take notes. Thx.

I have a request to make.

It's a radical reconsideration of the ways in which we communicate in a business setting. Bear with me. It will be a hard adjustment for many to make, but I think, with proper training and a little thoughtfulness, it doesn't have to be a disruptive shift in professional behavior.

The word please. It is spelled with vowels. It need not be spelled without these vowels. I know it feels more efficient when you scrawl or type only three letters rather than six, but really, pls is not a word, it is a cluster of consonants. Stop.

The word Thanks. It is spelled with vowels. And the letter N. And there is no X anywhere near it. I know you feel on top of things when you eliminate those extra pesky letters from your post-it or your email so you can get on with working out the lease on your new H3 with the dealer whose messages I've been collecting for you all day, but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, THX IS A GEORGE LUCAS INVENTION; IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE WORD THANKS, OR THE PHRASE THANK YOU.

Because, seriously, abbreviating words intended to show gratitude and thoughtfulness is a BAD IDEA.

Pls? Ok. Thx.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

San Francisco

JW wanted to celebrate finishing a big work project and see an old friend so we went on a quick car trip up north. This created a lot of anxiety on my part because my kitty cat Beulah T. Wilson is not doing too well at the moment. Plus, on Wednesday night/Thursday morning I came down with some mildly nasty virusy nonsense that was probably just psychological and related to poor kitty's troubles.

So Thursday I made a last minute vet's appointment and took Girl Kitty into the animal hospital YET AGAIN. I hate the vet more than the doctor, the emergency room, and the dentist combined. The only thing that makes it remotely bearable is the abundance of friendly/funny/cute/badass dogs. That is almost canceled out by the annoyance of Hollywood dog owners. Cell phones, pushiness, sunglasses indoors, weirdly effusive public displays of affection towards the quivering rat terriers they're clutching to their velour track-suited breasts -- you name the west coast cliche, it's on display by the dog owners at the WeHo animal hospital. The cat owners are way cooler. My favorite was the hippified woman with the smoker's breath. She was so nice.

As for the dog owners, my favorite was actually one of the rat-terrier-clutchers. This enormously tall, beefy, straight guy comes in, sunglasses firmly perched on the nose, thinning hair slicked back, a few days of beard growth on his jowls. He would've been at home with a cigar or at a strip joint. Except he is CLUTCHING A QUIVERING RAT TERRIER TO HIS CHEST. He sits down next to me looking butch, reeking of stale cigarettes, and it was all I could do not to turn to him and say, "Tell me that trembly hairball belongs to your trophy wife. Please."

All this talk of the vetrinary hospital is making me depressed. Did I mention I hate these places? I do. I was writing about our San Francisco trip. Why am I lingering on this hateful place that I hate? Oh, because I had to leave hunger-striking Beulah T. there for the weekend so the vets could take more of my money when we got back and we could have a weekend somewhere close to worry-free. I will say that I finally found a vet there who actually explained to me clearly what might be going on with the cat, which was appreciated. And she gave B.T. an appetite stimulant and pet her to encourage her to eat (which she did) over the weekend, which was also appreciated. And she called me on my cell and told me about all this while we were driving up the 101, which was also appreciated. Okay, maybe these places aren't so bad after all. But I still kinda hate them.

So we went to San Francisco, stopping in Paso Robles for a little wine-tasting. JW and I adore the Central Coast, as I mentioned in a previous post, we were fantasizing about settling there and opening a wine-bar/piano bar. I suggested we would both miss all the music and theater of L.A. too much, and JW's response to that was "...We'll have dogs." Annoying-dog-owner status here we come!

Moving right along...the drive was gorgeous, our hotel in Japantown was gorgeous, the view from the hotel was gorgeous, and we saw A CHORUS LINE! And lots of museums. And we had a great meal at The Slanted Door. And we got to hang out with JW's friend in Tiburon and my friend Ben back in San Francisco. And I got to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. And that made me nervous. And I teared up at A Chorus Line. And I felt a little silly for tearing up at A Chorus Line. And we were in the same row as Marilu Henner at A Chorus Line. And I felt guilty for seeing a big pre-Broadway revival of A Chorus Line when I should be out supporting local theater and checking out at least one small house or production company that might be interested in my work, but Hunter Gatherers by Peter Nachtrieb was sold out, so at least I tried, and I refuse to apologize for kinda loving A Chorus Line. And the Matthew Barney exhibit at SFMOMA was marginally interesting but he made his point in the first room and it all started to feel overwrought and excessive in subsequent rooms, but at least he has a sense of humor. And I want to live a life of leisure so that I can spend more time there before I retire to my summer home in Cambria or Paso Robles with my dogs while our "people" do the day-to-day business of running our winery with attached gay-friendly wine bar/piano bar.

It's nice to have tangible goals, isn't it?

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that on the drive JW and I brainstormed to determine what the T. in Beulah T. Wilson stands for. The T. is a relatively recent addition to her name, thanks to a co-worker. So I was leaning towards Temeculah, for some reason, but isn't that a casino resort somewhere? Didn't seem fitting. Tallulah did, so, ladies and gentlemen of the press, my cat's full name is Beulah Tallulah Wilson. Please refer all interview requests to our "people," who will be handling her publicity, when not running our winery with attached gay-friendly wine bar/piano bar. Thanks.

Monday, August 14, 2006

SF was

great! More later.

And I never blogged about Dog Day Afternoon! More on that later, too.

I just need to live a life of leisure so I have more time for these things. Speaking of which, JW and I are devising plans to move to Paso Robles and open a gay wine bar/piano bar. And own dogs.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

So I don't

feel very good, as I was up most of the night last night with chills and all sorts of weirdness; I think it might be sympathy pangs for my kitty Beulah, who is having all kinds of issues and seems to have stopped eating and drinking. I'll get some friggin food down that cat's throat if it takes a syringe, though. Just you wait.

After hoping in vain that I would fall asleep while reading And the Band Played On, I put the book down and sent to work on my new 10-minute play that I mentioned last week. It's had 5 drafts in a week and is starting to exhaust me, but it's also nice to be pounding away at something like this. I've been a little stalled lately.

Okay, that's all for this week. I'm off for a quick trip to San Francisco this weekend. Looks like I'm seeing A Chorus Line, which should end my week of gay overdrive quite nicely, I think!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

After that brief

WT respite, I have returned to this week's "gay overdrive," with an interesting post by Gayprof over at Center of Gravitas about the James Dean postcard on his fridge and the first vague stirrings of his big gay heart:
Queer folk often get asked, “When did you first become aware of your queer desires?” These questions always struck me as impossible to pin-point. Anybody who has a definite answer, I think, has just sub-consciously or consciously chosen a moment in their autobiography to make sense of their identity. Straight people, on the other hand, never feel as inclined to name a precise moment when they realize that they had a sexuality.
I find this such an interesting statement. It reminds me of the time my sister asked me if I always knew I was gay. The question led me into some sort of incomprehensible rambling (and those who know me personally must be shocked at the notion of me rambling incomprehensibly, as I am always so concise in my statements and free of digression) that I think made her eyes glaze over a bit. I remember starting to panic that I wasn't representing the innateness of my orientation adequately enough to be convincing, thinking that she must've decided I was a phony, that I just needed the love of a good woman (never mind the fact that she had me pegged before I did), which of course made me have to personally take a step back and remember that IT DOESN'T MATTER WHY I'm gay, whether it's science or sociology or my parents' West Side Story soundtrack (although come on, how could that not be a factor?), I just AM, and I'm not required to give a defense of it, which of course my sister wasn't even asking for, she was just trying to understand, and I had just proceeded to create this whole minor anxiety attack around my identity and the social and political ramifications of it. When I finally finished I think my sister just shrugged and started brushing her hair.

Gayprof's post is here.

WT

Meg over at Xoom has a great post about the implications of the phrase "white trash."
For some reason the last few days have been studded with white trash. Or, rather, "white trash" -- people keep using the term in conversation with me. And like Peter Whozit in Network, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.

Okay, I'm not really mad as hell, but people need to stop using it, like, yesterday. It's racist and vile, and there are plenty of ways to call someone tacky, should we feel the overwhelming need.
Her logic about the phrase's racism is really interesting; she suggests that the implication is that it's so rarely white people who are trash that we have to specify.

I used the phrase in a convo with JW the other day and kinda shocked myself because I don't typically use the phrase and I don't really like hearing other people use it. I stopped myself after I said it and said, "no, not white trash, that sounds awful, doesn't it?!"

Ugh, it's all so trashy!

The link is here.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I had originally

placed the following at the bottom of the previous post, but because they're so unrelated, I figured I'd give this its own space.

As a continuation of my "gay overdrive" theme, which originated in yesterday's post, welcome to today's irritant to my gayness. Did anyone see this editorial column by David Ehrenstein in the LATimes today? Here's a quote:
GAY MARRIAGE in the United States is on the ropes and fighting for its legal and political life. In the last year alone, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a same-sex marriage bill in California; the supreme courts of New York, Washington and Georgia upheld marriage bans; and at least a dozen states have passed, or are working on, anti-gay-marriage laws.

True, gay and lesbian couples residing in Massachusetts can get hitched, but gone are the heady days of 2004 when scores of male and female couples dashed up the steps of San Francisco's City Hall to say their respective "I do's."

But take heart. Lance Bass, a singer with the now-defunct boy band N'Sync, has come out of the closet, disclosing to People magazine two weeks ago that he's in a "very stable relationship" with actor/model and reality television star Reichen Lehmkuhl. Upon hearing this news, the first word that popped into my head was "even!"

"Seinfeld" fans doubtless recall the 1994 episode when Jerry, in contrast to the ever-roiling fortunes of George, Elaine and Kramer, finds that everything works out "even" for him. If he loses one job, he's sure to get another. If he breaks up with a girlfriend, he'll quickly find a replacement. So it is with gay marriage in the U.S. — even as we lose ground politically, cultural acceptance continues to accelerate.
While I do admire his optimism and I assume he's writing a piece that's intended to persuade and influence, my first thought was YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. You're comparing the coming out of Lance Bass with the insulting and illogical bitch-slapping that the gay marriage movement continues to get in the courts? And saying we're "even?"

And again, I know he's using Lance as a symbol of cultural acceptance, but I'm afraid I don't quite see the amount of cultural acceptance that Mr. Ehrenstein does. It's all quite easy to live in Los Angeles and look at our city and the pop culture that emerges from it and assume that the American masses are absorbing it without reservation, but read my previous post about a murder less than two years ago and gay-bashings just this month in two states, then google Kevin Aviance and see what you find out about what happened to him on June 10 of this year. Oh wait, I'll just do it for you here.

And just what could you possibly call all of these political defeats? How many state constitutions have laws (voted on by the people) making gay people second-class citizens by denying them marriage rights? In how many states is there no protection for gay people in the workplace? How are these examples not indicative of just how threatened the mass culture is by gay people?

But regardless of all of that -- all of the frustrating political developments of the past months, the convenience of the Bush administration's turning to gay marriage anytime it needs to distract us from its failures, the recurrent violence against gays both in this nation and abroad -- do we really want to look for cultural credibility in Lance Bass?

I just wrote

a big post about the masturbatory nonsense going on at Scott Walters' theater blog the past couple of days, but it's not really gay enough for me this week so I'm going to refrain from posting. If you recall from yesterday's post, I am still on "gay overdrive." Although, if I were to apply Lydia's po-mo definition of the word "gay," Scott's masturbatory nonsense might meet the criteria. And if you assume that the phrase "masturbatory nonsense" might have some inherent gayness to it, you might be onto something, but I'm using it figuratively, of course. Then again, if you would assume an aforementioned inherent gayness, I might object to the use of the word "nonsense," because it usually makes perfect sense to me, and you might want to throw the word "mutual" in there somewhere, but never mind. And I digress.... Where was I? Okay, dunno, but as far as Lydia's concerned, Walters' little blog "experiment" might be gay; it might even be totally gay, but it's not GAY.

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking out, check Parabasis or Superfluities in my links to the right. I'm not linking to Walters because he needs no encouragement from me. For those of you who believe the above is masturbatory nonsense, then congratulations! You win a lifetime supply of virtual smoked almonds from Frank's Wild Lunch!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Now that I'm reading

And the Band Played On, I'm on total gay overdrive. You may have to bear with me for a few days. I just said "bear." Heh.

Hey, not that I'm apologizing or anything! I'm here, I'm Queer, etc., or, to quote the spectactular Dog Day Afternoon (more on that later), "Out of the closet and into the streets!" Again, etc.

I just learned of two awful gay-bashings in San Diego and New Mexico this month, and only because I glanced at Towleroad last night, and I suddenly started creating anti-gay media scenarios (because seriously, unless you're Lance Bass or trying to upend our social norms, how could your measly little gay story possibly be newsworthy?). I have yet to find an LATimes account of the San Diego attacks (and if anyone can find a link, please send along or post in the comments), and I certainly haven't found one about the Santa Fe attacks (ditto for that).

Granted, the news is just crazy enough right now that these types of stories might be overwhelmed, but what does that mean? We have to hope for a slow news day when we get the shit kicked out of us so the public might pay attention? Would we have known about Matthew Shepard at all if Israel and Hezbollah were going at it when he died? Am I being unreasonable in wondering why the media doesn't seem to care?

I was first presented with these questions in seeing a movie at Outfest last month called Small Town Gay Bar, which detailed, among other things, the horrific torture and killing of a young gay man named Scotty Joe Weaver in rural Alabama in 2004. Here's a little info from GLAAD's website about a crime I hadn't heard of until I saw this movie:
According to Baldwin County District Attorney David Whetstone, Weaver was robbed of less than $100, then beaten, strangled, stabbed, cut, partially decapitated and set on fire. Whetstone has said the brutal nature of the murder "is suggestive of overkill, which is not something you see in a regular robbery and murder," and that there is "not a doubt in my mind" that Weaver's sexual orientation played a part in his murder. Weaver's two roommates, Christopher Gaines, 20, and Nichole Kelsay, 18, as well as Robert Porter, 18, were arrested on July 24 and [have been] charged with robery and capital murder.
After I saw the movie, I mentioned to a friend that it seemed so strange that there wasn't more coverage of the crime, since it was at least as heinous a crime as Matthew Shepard's murder. He responded by suggesting it might've depended on what was going on in the news at the time.

It does seem to be the only explanation that makes any sense; Shepard's death occurred in an era of relative calm and stability, with Clinton's mea culpa for the Lewinsky scandal and the U.S. Embassy bombings having been almost two months old, whereas poor Scotty Joe had the bad fortune to die when we were sorting out the Abu Ghraib horrors.

Or was it the fact that Matthew Shepard was found still alive, creating a dramatic scenario with doctors and weeping family members?

Or was it class? Matthew Shepard was a college student who had gone to high school in Switzerland, the son of attractive parents who had lived in Saudi Arabia and worked for an oil company, whereas Scotty Joe Weaver worked in a Waffle House and lived in a trailer in the rural south. He was a working class kid who entered drag pageants in a community that couldn't tolerate his lifestyle. Heck, his sexual orientation was denounced from the pulpit at his own funeral.

Is it easier for us to empathize with the victimization of the privileged? Is Scotty Joe's story less newsworthy because his demise seems all too inevitable an outcome for the community he lived in?

Perhaps there is an element of truth to the first sentence; I not so sure I believe the second one. If anything, Scotty Joe's homophobic surroundings make the story more dramatic, more tragic, and in our climate of sensationalism, it would seem also to make it more newsworthy. I just think the national media is disinterested in stories about gay people unless they involve either a threat to the status quo, or they are mobilized by individuals who won't let the story die.

That was the case in the Shepard murder. His friends and parents were all over the news; he lingered just long enough to require updates; the story was lucky enough not to be drowned out by larger news events. Poor Scotty's own friends were the ones involved in his murder; he had to compete with equally nauseating savagery in Iraq; it was two days before anyone reported him missing.

I don't mean to suggest that Scotty was without a supportive family. His mother's appearance in Small Town Gay Bar was absolutely devastating, as was his brother Lum's. That said, why have these cries of anguish and outrage been relegated to the GLBT film festival circuit? Seeing this movie reminded me once again why I'm so grateful those festivals exist, but more people should know of this kind of brutality and how commonplace it is. It's just too barbaric to be ignored.

And yet it too often continues to be ignored, and I can't help but wonder why. I think it's a combination of so many things, of course...class and regional bias, perhaps, but seriously, if an 18-year-old from a different minority group were murdered in such a fashion in Alabama, do you think the national media would've avoided it?

But why is this? Is it really a devaluation of gay victimhood? Is there really an unspoken hierarchy of suffering in the media? In our culture? Our national conscience? A good two-thirds of me says, "well DUH," to that question, but still, it's such a ridiculous notion, isn't it? I know there are people out there who would greet the news of a budding drag queen's death with nothing but "good riddance," but on a larger level, it's just appalling to consider an element of institutional apathy about the kind of crime that took Scotty Joe Weaver's life.

Then again, it's no more appalling than the fact that it took almost two years, 500 deaths, and the realization that AIDS wasn't just killing off gay men and drug addicts for the national media to pay any significant attention to the disease.

New links

Hey, I've cleaned up and added a few links to my blogroll over to your right. Smart playwrighty types and thinkery types too. I like to think they class up this page a little. Check them out!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Music Deja-Vu

I've done this before, I know...maybe it should be a recurring feature of Frank's Wild Lunch. Kind of like those "Separated At Birth" items in the old Spy Magazine. Something to think about....

Today's subject is Thom Yorke. There's a new song on his CD, The Eraser, and -- this might be a bit of a stretch, but I'm running with it -- my itunes is down low on my computer right now and all I can hear is his whine and the occasional drum beat, and I coulda sworn it was Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I just wrote

a 10-minute play on my lunch break that has a guy pissing onstage! I feel like Sam Shepard!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I finally got around to

reading And The Band Played On in preparation of getting into a good book so I could have something engrossing for the plane ride. I'm about a third of the way through; it is so fascinating and mostly horrifying and anger-inducing, but I have to admit I get a little thrill whenever the narrative returns to Larry Kramer. I wish I had the book in front of me; I'd share some of the good bits. If I think of it tonight I'll update the post.

UPDATE: Okay, so I forgot to give my favorite Larry Kramer moments to you last night. It's because I went to see Dog Day Afternoon at the Arclight and was too overwhelmed. I'll try again later.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Chicago weekend!

The City:

LOVE MILENNIUM PARK. Especially Crown Fountain.

Why do I always forget my camera? I even packed it, and then I left it in the hotel for at least half of the trip.

The Museums:

The Wolfgang Tillmans exhibit at the MCA is really interesting; go see it if you can. I want that guy to come and decorate my house. I'm going to have to forbid the use of Scotch Tape and binder clips to hang things with, though.

The Art Institute, was, of course, lovely. I loved the Alex Katz painting, and the Campendonk, having just learned about him in that great show at the Hammer, and there was that Picabia painting that was so striking. Oh, and all the Cornell boxes! Love those.

NOTE: I'm basically doing this for JW, because he wanted to go see some objects and I was into the moderns so we had to split up and he didn't get to see all the stuff I liked. Incidentally, I love their website. How great to be able to search by artist and find all the stuff they have! Do all big museums' websites have this function?

The Theater:

Steppenwolf is good stuff, but after our matinee, I have made myself a rule never to attend post-show talkbacks. After readings I can handle them, but after a production, my experience of the play was diminished a tad, hearing people parse out the themes and characters' psychologies.

That said, I kinda regret not offering a Queer perspective to the conversation around 100 Saints You Should Know. Especially when that elderly man criticized author Kate Fodor by suggesting she didn't know how to write male characters, because hers are overly sensitive and have somewhat feminized preoccupations with beauty. Umm, HELLO.... I appreciated the moderator's polite, "moving right along" handling of the comment, though.

Boystown:

It's not just up the street from Steppenwolf, in case you didn't know. It's an hour's walk. JW estimates three miles.

Once we FINALLY got there, I paid less for a beer and a mixed drink at Sidetrack than I would for a single cocktail at The Abbey. And the guys were cuter. And it was showtune night on the plasma screens. The Mommie Dearest montage (yes, not technically a showtune, but it fit in quite well) was almost as good as the Jennifer Holliday Dreamgirls showstopper.

Gino's East:

Do not, repeat, DO NOT overeat there the night before getting on a morning flight. You will regret it.

The Wedding:

Very elegant, as I imagined. Great to see old friends from Teach for America, and JW and I were more than happy to be the token same-sex couple on the dance floor!