Monday, October 29, 2012


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Sunday, October 28, 2012

My favorite passage

from yesterday's L.A. Affairs comes at the very beginning--
I was sitting at La Scala in Beverly Hills with my friend Karen and indulging in my chopped salad obsession. Once again, we were consumed with a question that dominates the conversation of many women.

Why am I still single?
Read the rest here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

California politics

I keep seeing this icky campaign propaganda insinuating that Betsy Butler enabled child abuse and I'm a little obsessed about it. She abstained from voting for a bill that would make it easier to fire teachers who abuse children, causing it to fail. And for this reason, the flyer suggests, she's culpable for Mark Berndt's horrific abuse of children. Because she's in league with the unions.  It's simple, really.

Except the group paying for these ads don't care about teacher unions, child predators, or child safety. They're some agri-business PAC pissed at her for The Farm Worker Safety Act she got passed, even though the governor vetoed it. I found a thoroughly written article by Karen Ocamb about the conflicts. It highlights as well Butler's advocacy for the LGBT community. I'll post an excerpt--
Tom Nassif, President and CEO of the Western Growers Association, is one of six national chairs for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Farmers and Ranchers for Romney coalition. The Western Growers Association vigorously opposed Butler’s AB 2346, the Farm Worker Safety Act of 2012 to protect farm workers from fatal heat illness, which they called the “sue your employer” bill.  The bill would have ensured that water and shade are provided to California’s more than 400,000 farm workers who labor on more than 35,000 California farms and would have more severely punish non-compliance by making the growers liable for heat-related illness. Further, it establishes a private right of action so that farm workers can hold their employers accountable under the law.
 But for Butler and the United Farm Workers, this is literally about life and death: 17 farm workers were confirmed to have died between 2004-2011 from heat-related illnesses. And, as I reported last Tuesday, Oct. 9, AP reported on Oct. 3, that an unidentified 51 year old farm supervisor on a Salinas Valley farm died Monday, Oct. 1 of a heart attack while working outside in the “95-plus-degree weather on a Dole Fresh farm near Soledad when he collapsed.” Butler had that death on her mind as she headed up to Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz in Keene where President Obama designated the home of Cesar Chavez – the place where he led the United Farm Workers movement from the 1970s until the early 1990s – as the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument. Butler said that this man’s death makes five heat-related deaths this year.
This is cheap and dirty stuff. I get so hung up on the national election that I sometimes miss the crazy in local and state politics. What about that Sherman / Berman debate? Did you hear about that?

"You wanna get into this?!"

Whatever. Vote yes on Prop 34.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lana Wachowski

I sat down at my computer after a very long day thinking, "No more homework. I don't want to do anything else. I just want to watch that video popping up on my Facebook feed of Lana Wachowski's HRC acceptance speech."

I decided to let it be a reward for finishing the O'Neill application, which I finished.

And the reward was most satisfying. Smart, challenging, funny, enlightening, and moving too. 

It's long, but watch to the end if you have the time. Totally worth it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I'm a day behind

on posting about the latest installment of L.A. Affairs. In yesterday's edition, Megan O'Neil laments that the like-minded don't always think alike.
In my mind we would take a seat on a bench under a tree, carry on our conversation and enjoy a beautiful spring evening while waiting for our respective companions to wrap up inside.

"Should we get a cab?" Josh asked, just steps outside the door.

I shouldn't have been surprised — at 28, I've done plenty of dating and bar hopping in my native Los Angeles and elsewhere. But I was.

How was it possible for two individuals of the same generation, raised in the same geographic location, with similar levels of education and parallel family backgrounds to so dramatically misinterpret one another's flirtations?
Read the rest here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A pic or two

from Sunday's rehearsal for Botanicum Seedlings' show this weekend, featuring my short play Heirlooms: A Hybrid. This Saturday and Sunday at 2pm in Topanga.

It's going to be a fine afternoon, I think.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Patti Smith

--in heart I'm an
American artist,
and I have no guilt.
I seek pleasure. I
seek the nerves
under your skin


Saw her on Friday and I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a rock concert so much. I got emotional during "Gloria" and the encore, when a bunch of people from the balcony had flooded the aisle near my seat and shoved in behind me in my row where I was standing in order to avoid the spoil-sport security. Johnny Depp and Flea joining her onstage were nice and all, but Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye, people.

Sometimes I worry that I'm finally going to be too cynical to appreciate her rock-poet-priestess warmth and conviction. On those occasions I'm always thankful to be proven wrong.

Here are some good clips from the show.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My new play

actually shares some themes with today's L.A. Affairs, so it seems natural to follow that post with a plug for it.

My play Heirlooms: A Hybrid starts off the proceedings a week from today in the beautiful Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum. I don't think my stuff has ever been presented in such a lovely setting before. Makes a guy feel special!

Here's our Facebook page for the event. See below for details.

• The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum •


October 20 & 21 at 2 pm

"Apparently Not" by Richard Manley • "Folk Story" by Judeth Oden Choi
"Heirlooms: A Hybrid" by Kyle T. Wilson • "Noel—Coward! " by Edward Giron
"Penelope’s Roses" by Lisa Kenner • "Really Jewish" by Stephanie Swirsky
"The Edge of a Disappearing Thing" by Chelsea Sutton

Directed by William Dennis Hunt, Ella Martin, Kaja Martin, Amanda McRaven,
Paul Turbiak & Sabina Ptasznik

With James Babbin, Alan Blumenfeld, Natasha Buran, Crystal Clark, Katherine Griffith,
Katherine James, William Dennis Hunt, John Maidman, Michael Miranda, Ron Morehouse, Katelyn Myer, Mary Ellen Schneider, Jason Thomas, Tippi Thomas & Paul Turbiak



Info: (310) 455-2322 •

Remember, the theatre is outdoors—dress for fall weather, and if it rains we'll duck inside!

"Hybrids & Heirlooms" is supported by the Tuscali Mountain Inn Luxury Bed & Breakfast

In today's L.A. Affairs,

Darren Manley writes about the the geography of love and heartbreak on the Westside. First with Nicky, then April, who's discussed below:
Crossing boundaries is never easy, but I inched us farther west on every date. From cupcake tasting in Hollywood to tango lessons in Westwood, we opened our kimonos just enough to show our scars. Then we broached the topic of marriage and I dropped my kimono to the ground.

I picked her up on a Saturday and took the 101 Freeway to Malibu Canyon. I could have driven that sunward route with a blindfold, but when I saw PCH peek over the horizon, I felt like Ulysses coming home to Ithaca. April squeezed my hand as if she knew all about my personal Odyssey.
Read the rest here.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Tippi Hedren

The NYTimes published this fun interview with Tippi Hedren that I have to share. I just saw The Birds on the big screen through some TCM presentation. They showed a Robert Osbourne Q&A beforehand with Hedren which wasn't nearly so dishy as this one. Here's just a bit of what she says about Hitchcock.
He was a misogynist. That man was physically so unattractive. I think to have a mind that thought of himself as an attractive, romantic man and then to wake up in the morning and look at that face and that body was tough.
 But the best part of the interview comes in at the end, when Andrew Goldman asks her about making Roar, a film she and her daughter Melanie Griffith made; it had her buying a bunch of big cats who were less gentle than expected.
There’s a photo of you and a teenage Melanie, whose head is six inches away from Neil, your first live-in lion.
He was not a live-in lion. Sometimes I get so annoyed with you writers.
The caption from your book reads, “Melanie and I with Neil, our first live-in lion.”
O.K., I missed that one. O.K.
 Read the whole thing here.

L.A. Affairs

Does anyone else read these things in the Saturday LATimes? They're hilarious.

In yesterday's edition, 23-year-old Rachel Heller describes the trials and tribulations of dating an older man at the ripe old age of 37.
Friends balked when I told them the Older Man had 14 years on me. They asked what we could possibly have in common. I waved away their doubts. Why should the year we were born matter? It's just an arbitrary number, I retorted. Plenty of couples with wider age gaps enjoy successful relationships. But privately I wondered if they were right. It didn't seem far-fetched that a man nearing 40 might be on a different wavelength.
I watched for signs I was too youthful for him — more energy past 11 p.m., more stamina on steep hikes above the Griffith Observatory. Yet to my delight, I turned out to be the one struggling to keep up.
It wasn't his calendar age that was the problem. Our partnership didn't work because he was an emotional teenager.
And I love this one from German in the States Andreas von Bubnoff about differences in American and German social norms.
I'm not entirely sure I understand the American rules about socializing with other men. In Germany it doesn't mean anything if two men go to dinner or the movies together. It doesn't mean anything if they are socializing without the crutch of business or sports. In the U.S., that's apparently called a "man date" and is considered inappropriate by some, especially if the dinner takes place in a romantic setting with candles or wine and without a television. Lord help you if you order a mojito instead of a scotch — although White Russians seem to be OK, thanks to the Dude in "The Big Lebowski."

Kev and Kyle on Fran

Since I mentioned in the previous post about the Lebowitz interview that Kev and I got some chatter going about things, I thought I'd share a little of it.

For those who haven't read the interview, Lebowitz has some interesting, cynical notions about the shift in gay politics from the AIDS crisis to the marriage equality movement, describing it almost as an image makeover. In that passage she expresses bewilderment that gays could want families.

zenokb: Only lesbians can say these things.  
FWL: I love that shit about her being baffled with all these gays who have kids.
FWL: Absolutely NO inkling that some people actually do want this.  
FWL: Like it doesn't compute to her at all.  
zenokb: I know.
zenokb: I love that.  
zenokb: She is a national treasure.
zenokb: This is my take away.  
zenokb: This is what will sustain me today and maybe for the rest of my life.
zenokb: The idea that once upon a time in New York, to be an intellectual was about the best a gay boy could do.  
zenokb: I loved that part about the hair benders and the hair burners and the drag queens.
zenokb: But the gays that rule today are the hair burners and the drag queens.

Fran Lebowitz

Joe made my day yesterday by linking to this Fran Lebowitz interview in The Awl. I could pull about ten awesome passages from it, but this is one that got the most chatter between Kev and me after.
In New York, being gay was not enough. Here, there was a hierarchy that had to do with intelligence or with a certain kind of cultivation. And partially this was caused by the invisibility of homosexuality in the culture. There was just no awareness of it. It just didn't exist, but it also operated kind of like a secret society. And so part of the older men taking younger men to the ballet, part of that was—If you want to call it—mentorship and part of it was just seduction.... There was a lot of hierarchy. Drag queens, for instance, who now are embraced in every living room in America, were generally considered very low on the social scale. There was a lot of contempt for drag queens, not all, but there was a certain amount of contempt, and it was considered to be a kind of a trashy thing to be a drag queen. Or to be a hairdresser—or other professions that were kind of conventionally gay professions at the time, like if you were a choreographer. Gay hairdressers were called "hair benders" and "hair burners," and they were really looked down on because it was a "stupid" profession. By which it was meant a profession where you didn't have to be smart, a lower-level profession. I also cannot stress enough to you how minute this world was. When I talk about it, it makes it sound like some sort of global thing, but it was very tiny. It was tiny here; and in every big city, there were similar scenes.
 Read the whole thing here.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Have I stumbled on

a theme at HuffPo? First it's gay body fascism, now here's a bit about the great Christina Hendricks enduring some stupid questioning that highlights mainstream media's preoccupation with body image.

Alright gays, you're not alone out there. You're not the only ones who have amazing careers and still get bombarded with questions about your looks.

Sorry, never mind; you never get asked those questions.

Christina Hendricks inspires me by being flat-out gorgeous and brilliant. That is all.

I just read

 yet another article about the tyranny of gay culture's obsession with body image. Here's a quote--
Why do we do this to ourselves? I can't help but think it has something to do with the trauma of coming out. Most gay men, despite how well-adjusted we are now, have suffered from immense feelings of isolation and abandonment at some point in our lives. Whether we are flamboyant or "straight-acting," most of us have grown up feeling like outsiders, feeling like we don't fit in. So when we come out, we vow to never be outsiders again; we vow to look perfect and be strong, because we're going to show the world that we're not outcasts. We think that through sweat, reps, and endless hours at the gym, we can somehow make up for a world that has hurt us.

Gay men of the world, I think it's time that we stop trying to make the world love us through our bodies and start loving ourselves for the beautiful people we are.
 Am I the only one who immediately goes to Google Images after I read one of these just to see how skinny the guy who wrote it is? Is it a symptom of my chubby gayass self-loathing? Maybe, but then I also find it amusing that I rarely see people with average or overweight figures writing these pieces. Have we given up? Or are we just better at either resigning ourselves to or finding humor in the superficial expectations and stereotypes of contemporary gay life?

I think the latter is closer to my experience. Although, full disclosure, I am dieting right now. In my defense it's more to stay in my waist size and build some discipline around food than to "make the world love me through my body." Please.

There's honestly nothing wrong with the message of Jacob Tobia's article, but I can't say I've ever felt emotionally abused by some gay zeitgeist's disgust with my body fat. I'm sorry others do, but any self-consciousness I've ever had about my body predates any understanding of gay culture at all.

If anything, coming out opened my eyes to the complexity of sexual attraction, the ways in which people incorporate and contextualize fantasy in their lives and relationships, and the strange, lovely realities of human connection. I don't know, maybe that's the difference between coming out at 25 and 15 or 20. But then it's fair to say that I got no real positive reinforcement around my looks at all until I started dating in my mid-20s. Or if it was offered, I wasn't receiving it.

Again, I'm empathetic, but I never got the Gay = Adonis directive, or if I did I understood it as some kind of romantic, literary, or archetypal construct that need not apply to all. Or maybe I just knew it would never comfortably apply to me (and never really defined what interested me, either), so I shrugged it off.

But I'd also point out that my immersion into gay culture started with guys who look like this:

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

A new Edward Albee interview

Jesse Green has a conversation with Albee on that is equal parts frank and elusive, which seems about right for the subject. The master offers a handful of unremarkable how-tos about craft ("Don't write to solve your problems," etc.), but this is my favorite exchange on playwriting, and one that offers better insight into what kind of mentor he is.
“When you teach, you must be handed many bad plays. Perhaps almost exclusively. Are you sure that they’re bad?”
He makes an abstract sound that means yes and brooks no contradiction.
And below is my favorite part of the interview -- a discussion of life after his partner died in 2005:
“For five years after Jonathan died,” he says, “I didn’t want to do much of anything. I certainly didn’t think I’d be capable of ever caring much for anybody else or feeling amazing responses to things. But two and a half years ago now, I suddenly, one day, realized that I had fallen hopelessly in love. And really seriously, not just infatuation. Somebody not only beautiful and sexy but enormously talented, genuine, generous. I didn’t think I was going to do that anymore. It was joyous. ‘My God,’ I thought, ‘you’re capable of this still?’

“And at the same time, I realized a couple of problems. I mean, I am 84 now. He’s 24.” He corrects himself. “In a couple of weeks, he will be 24. I knew it was absolutely foolish. He’s too young. He’s too this, he’s too that, he’s all sorts of stuff” — including, apparently, “not that way.” “It wasn’t going to work in that sense. It wasn’t going to be a great, wonderful sexual relationship. But, wow, wasn’t that interesting when I thought it was! Isn’t kidding yourself fun?”
Incidentally I just noticed his UCLA Live t-shirt in the photo of him. Someone from the Center for Art and Performance should send him a new one.

Read the rest here.