Tuesday, October 31, 2006

An Open Letter to Mr. Wells

Dear Dave,

After having had to abandon your apartment last night due to the raucous upstairs fisticuffs of your landlord and his wife, then having had to endure the rhapsodizing critique of Barbra Streisand's latest farewell con ... I mean, gig, at the Latrine by two gentleman of a certain generation who had recently travelled to Florida on a pilgrimage to view the diva, I believe you might be pleased to know the following:
As Babs traded political barbs with a George W. Bush imitator, a fan of the songstress who apparently disagreed with her politics pelted her with a beverage. And as her anti-GOP riff ended, another man in the crowd found himself being escorted out of the center as he shouted at Streisand.
Poor, dear lady.

Feel better now?



Monday, October 30, 2006

The Welcome Mat

Well, it seems the Gays are starting to check me out.

Come on in, y'all, strip down to your skivvies, and set a spell. Let's spin some yarns.

I love Illinois. It's actually one state I've visited.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I Know You Must Be Well Over This

Based on some comments I've received about the pictures I'm planning to show in the upcoming exhibit, I've added a few more.

Sorry for the inconvenience; but, hell, look at 'em anyway.

And please see the earlier comments, as well; they've had a strong influence on what I'm planning to do. Thank you.

Not Meaning to Show Off

I just read this letter in the New York Review of Books:


By Declan Kiely

In response to A Version of Pastoral* (March 23, 2006)

To the Editors:

In his review of John McGahern's All Will Be Well: A Memoir [NYR, March 23] Denis Donoghue points out that when this book was published last year in England it was simply titled Memoir. Donoghue suggests that "the change must have some point," and states that "the new title has as its immediate source the passage in Little Gidding in which T.S. Eliot writes: 'And all shall be well and/All manner of thing shall be well.'"

This source identification is ingenious, but incorrect. The more immediate source is, surely, the letter from McGahern's terminally ill mother to his father, which ends, "I place my trust in God knowing all will be well" (emphasis added; see page 84 of All Will Be Well: A Memoir). This letter is characteristic of the piety, self-possession, and graceful readiness to reassure others that distinguish McGahern's mother, the figure at the center, and heart, of this book. It is appropriate that her words were used for the title when it was published here. The only drawback is that it suggests a more positive and optimistic account of life than is found in this disturbing, yet quietly and profoundly moving, memoir.

Declan Kiely
New York City

Well, I hate to be the kind of person who can't wait to shout out a clarification, but - here I go. The title refers to a line in The Revelations of Divine Love written by Julian of Norwich in the 14th century and believed to be the first book written in the English language - by a woman. T. S. Eliot was quoting her in Little Gidding. It is not original with him.

Julian's full quote is: "Sin is behovely, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."

What does "behovely" mean? Are you ready for this? Webster's 1913 edition defines it as "a. & adv. Useful, or usefully. [Obs.]"

That's right. In this fallible world, it behoves us to sin. What a dame.

Hers was an optimistic belief in God's all-encompassing love as opposed to the despairing sin-consciousness of the time.

I'd have written to the NYR myself, but I couldn't find their address. I admit I didn't look hard, so don't send it to me.

An Anniversary of Sorts

Today marks the thirtieth day since my last day of work. Although there was lots of talk about getting together for lunches and promises of phone calls, none of that has transpired. Of course, I haven't made any of those calls either, so I have no bad feelings about it. It's more important that I transition into a new way of living.

It's been difficult. Only last Tuesday did the loneliness begin to lift. Oh, yes, I was lonely. I missed my coworkers terribly. It didn't help either that that same weekend was the closing of the play that brought me back to the local theatre world nor that a short time later, Bobby would be receiving his defibrillator pacemaker. Too many goodbyes coupled with one potential goodbye were too much for me to handle.

So I grieved, and my trusty self-pity carried me through. Now, I don't think of self-pity as a necessarily bad thing, you know. At least, my form of self-pity always comes accompanied by a self-consciousness that keeps it in its place with a bit of self-deprecation. Growing up Catholic certainly keeps you humble.

I miss most of my coworkers. I certainly miss all of my staff from my last duty station. But my life is certainly moving on. Thank God, I have enough friends outside of work to make demands on me and my time. Otherwise, I'd have probably spent the last month in a state of wasted inebriation. Even though I may have wanted to do that, there were things that needed to be done. So I did them. Working twenty years for my old mentor and boss-from-hell Hubie taught me efficiency.

One funny thing I miss that I didn't think I would are the times I would take my breaks outside the State Office Building in Harvey and try to read. People from every floor would come out and ask what was so good, why are you always reading, you're gonna go blind, you know. They kept me from finishing any book, but they were present and insistent; and I miss them.

Another thing I miss that comes to mind is the red-headed lady who worked for Probation and Parole. We never talked much, but I always noticed her. Who wouldn't? She was an Amazon with curves, always dressed in black Israeli-style-issue military pants with lots of pockets and loops for carrying the paraphernalia of her trade, things like handcuffs and billy clubs. Who could resist a woman like that who was also packing heat?

I think of you often, little red-haired girl. But ... life goes on, bra.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Things Done Today

  1. Still waiting for Jude and big strapping Murray.
  2. Vacuumed downstairs.
  3. Shopped for groceries.
  4. Screw the list, fuck the rest, I'm tired.

Things to Do Today

  1. Wait for Bob's cousin Jude to come by with her big strapping beau Murray to take away the huge flowering Bird of Paradise plant.
  2. Vacuum and mop and clean the kitchen.
  3. Shop for groceries for Bob's Sunday barbecue.
  4. Walk, walk, walk.
  5. Get third tattoo.
  6. Consider the foolishness of lists.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Gallery Update

From Cutter's Exhi...
I've updated the exhibition gallery, pictures taken down, pictures added. Any opinions?

All Borat All the Time

For my money, Borat has the final word on baby-buying.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

73 Down and Counting

Well, Mr. Fudge is out, and somebody new is in with only 7 days until preview and 8 till opening. Oh, the drama.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Excuses, Excuses

I just got off the phone with a caller asking me for a $35.00 donation to do nothing less than help save the world. I interrupted the nice lady to explain that the time was not good for me since I am still rebuilding from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

God, how long will we be able to get away with that excuse?

The way things are going, probably another ten years.

Controversy on the Home Front

Next week on November 3rd, I'll be opening another photo exhibit at Cutter's Bar. I selected and printed the shots I want to show, but a certain someone doesn't care for some of my picks. I've posted them online, and I'm inviting your input and comments as to whether I should even allow anyone else to view them.

So, if you have the time, would you visit my "gallery" and let me know what you think of my choices? I can take constructive criticism.


Always Remember, the Nice Policeman Is Your Friend

In a move to ease the minds of the citizens of New Orleans, the NOPD announced yesterday that it is cracking down on crime here in the Big Easy:
Police Cracking Down on Trash, Sex

Capt. Kevin Anderson, commander of the 8th District, said a federal infrastructure grant has let the NOPD pay for 100 hours of overtime a week for "quality-of-life" officers to work additional code-enforcement beats and to crack down on the local sex trade. The initiative is dubbed Operation Clean Sweep.
"Quality-of-life" officers. I like that. It has such a positive glow, don't you think? Officer Friendlys all over the place.
"What we're trying to do is clean the image of the city," Anderson said. "I'm not just talking in terms of what residents and businesses have asked for, but also what tourists see. Our initiative includes not only going after street crimes like prostitution, drug dealing and pan-handling, but people who aren't disposing of garbage properly."...
Thank God, they're going after the garbage miscreants. You don't know what it's like to walk around here amid paper lying on the streets and sidewalks. And those yokels who put their trash cans out before the trucks are due to drive by ... well, they'll finally get what's comin' to 'em: a night in the can.
New Orleans' image has been tainted lately, with an influx of out-of-town pimps and prostitutes trolling the streets hoping to cash in on the city's new population of men: an estimated 45,000 laborers in town helping to rebuild the city.

Two weeks after one ranking member of the NOPD called worker-saturated New Orleans the "Super Bowl" for sex-workers, police have stepped up their fight against vice crimes and lumped their efforts into an overall initiative to clean the streets of grime....

Johnson said teams of quality-of-life officers, many who Anderson said will be commissioned from other districts, will regularly cite businesses that aren't in compliance with nuisance codes. A team of 16 officers will work during the day on code enforcement, while an additional 14 officers will help vice cops curb prostitution.

Shouldn't that be "...many of whom Anderson said..."? Or am I being churlish and pedantic?

Code breakers will be cited for not maintaining store fronts, not ensuring that trash doesn't remain on the curb for days at a time or not removing garbage cans from the sidewalk after the trash has been removed....

Anderson said though police are using the Quarter, the Central Business District and the Marigny to launch the initiative, it will eventually spread throughout the city....

Excuse me, but what else is left of the city?

Anyway, I guess your arrest and conviction record will look good with the large numbers of working girls you'll be carting off the street along with the money the city will make from all those trash citations. It's easier than trying to catch a gay basher or a mugger or a home invader or a street-shooting murderer. Hell, those people are hard to find - and dangerous to a cop when cornered.

I, for one, feel so much safer now. I won't be having to tell some sagging whore, "No, thanks." Nor will I have to tiptoe over garbage in the streets.

Did I say I feel safer? Why I feel positively uplifted. My euphoria knows no bounds.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Latest Medical News

First thing Monday morning, I had my regular two-month visit with Young Doctor John. I waited a very long time in the examination room this time, I must say. I guess, since I'm no longer a new patient, I'm just supposed to take what he can afford to offer. Anyway, I was only there for him to check my - sorry, our - progress in fighting my - I mean, our - so-called high blood pressure.

In the year's time since I have been seeing him, I have been unable to lower my pressure to any level satisfactory to him, although I have felt pretty fine the whole time aside from the Katrina cough - which I still have.

Anyway, after his nurse Tracy had weighed me and locked me in the little room that is apparently mine, since it is the only room I have ever seen, I managed to pass the waiting time in meditation till I drifted off to sleep.

Suddenly, the door swung open, and Young Doctor John swept in, asking, "What brings you here today, Mr. Glenn?"

"You," I replied.

Young Doctor John: Oh, yes, that's right. I asked you back, didn't I? How are you doing? (He looked into my record.) Oh, yes, we're going to check your pressure and do some (I thought he said) blow work today.

Me: What did you say? (I was ready.)

Young Doctor John: What did you think I said?

Me: Oh, never mind. You couldn't have said what I thought you did.

Young Doctor John: Well, what brings you here?

Me: Uh, you.

Young Doctor John: Oh, yes, that's right. We need to take your pressure. (Which he did.) I don't like this.

Me: What, I've gotten it down.

Young Doctor John: Not enough. I'm going to prescribe some new medication. It's a little stronger - well, a lot stronger, although not as strong as we can go if it doesn't get you where I want you to be. (Looking at my record again.) Oh, and look here - you've lost twenty-five pounds in the last two months. That's incredible. How'd you do it?

Me: I stopped eating, and I go for long walks.

Young Doctor John: (Laughing.) That's good. Stopped eating. No, really, what have you done?

Me: I've really stopped eating. I figure I have enough left over inside of me to carry me on for a few more months.

Young Doctor John: Not good, you know, not eating.

Me: Well, I'm really eating, only smaller portions. I figure at this rate, I'll be at my target goal of male desirability in about another eight months.

Young Doctor John: Well, that's better. (Pretending to look over my record again.) I'll have Nurse Tracy come back with some samples of your new prescription and a great big needle to draw some blood.

Now, let me tell you about the new meds I'm giving you. They're strong, which means they're quite large. I mean, vets give them to Clydesdales on a regular basis - high-strung animals, they are, you know. You'll need to cut them into three or four pieces so you can swallow them, okay? Can you handle that?

Me: Oh, sure, I can still chop - although I can probably get the full pills down uncut if I take a deep breath before swallowing. No uvula, you know, since Young Doctor Knight snipped it off a few years ago to save me from sleep apnea.

Young Doctor John: Good, good, excellent. I'll see you in another two months.

Me: Okay, good bye (Sigh.)

Later, Nurse Tracy came and drew blood into an ampule which she promptly dropped onto the floor. God knows what the results will yield from that. At least, I got the blood work, if not the blow work I had momentarily expected.

Limbo! How Low Can You Go?

Cheap-ass shot from a cheap-ass motherfuckin' big-mouthed, sputum-spouting drug addict:
To Rush Limbaugh on Monday, Michael J. Fox looked like a faker. The actor, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, has done a series of political ads supporting candidates who favor stem cell research, including Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin, who is running against Republican Michael Steele for the Senate seat being vacated by Paul Sarbanes.

"He is exaggerating the effects of the disease," Limbaugh told listeners. "He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act. . . . This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."

Limbaugh, whose syndicated radio program has a weekly audience of about 10 million, was reacting to Fox's appearance in another one of the spots, for Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, running against Republican Sen. James M. Talent.

But the Cardin ad is similar. It is hard to watch, unless, for some reason, you don't believe it. As he speaks, Fox's restless torso weaves and writhes in a private dance. His head bobs from side to side, almost leaving the video frame.

"This is the only time I've ever seen Michael J. Fox portray any of the symptoms of the disease he has," Limbaugh said. "He can barely control himself."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Looks Muslim to Me

What do you think?

Just Another Headshot

This guy is in Now She Dances by Doric Wilson, the final "Actor/Herod" after about 72 others jumped ship so far before the opening on November 3rd. But let's not be rude. His name is Robert A. Fudge.

He needed a headshot two days before yesterday, so he showed up at my auditions last night for the next play I'll be directing and requested that I come on over to his rehearsal after I was done and take a few pictures of him. I dislike being presumed upon so I told him I could do the shoot today.

Well , I just finished, and this is what I got. People who may appear to have nothing going for them usually make great photo subjects.

Note to self: remember this.

Two Down, One More to Go

At 3:00 PM today, I left Electric Ladyland with the second of my three planned tattoos. This one was the fleur de lis. It's a stylized fleur de lis, and the finished product, as it now stands, is pretty crude to my mind.

I'll come to love it, won't I? Like you always love the runt of the litter?

I will come to appreciate the artist Skip's desire to do the work as best he could, to go all out and add shading and highlight, whereas the original was flat and iconic.

Won't I?

R I P ?

This was posted on October 19th at truthdig.com. Many bloggers are reposting it. It needs to be read by all Americans. If you've seen this before, I apologize for the redundancy; but I'm sure you can understand the importance. This month has become the bloodiest for our troops in Iraq. The Iraqi people are suffering and dying in even greater numbers. For what? The greed and machismo of an oligarchy now in power in the United States of America.
After Pat’s Birthday

Posted on Oct 19, 2006

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Today's Quote

I found this by accident googling "fleur de lis ejaculate".
Orrin Hatch was so filled with Hispanic love you thought he might ejaculate jalepeno juice. The Rude Pundit

'Lantern - Late Night

Time: 11:00 PM
Place: The Golden Lantern
Present: A Multitude (well, a nice-sized crowd)

Cable Television set to the '70's Hits music channel. A vamp:
dum, dum, dum, dum...
da, da, da, da...
dum, dum, dum, dum...
Two hands begin to clap to the beat. Bill Withers begins to sing. Aletha joins in.
Sometimes in our lives we all have pain,
We all have sorrow;
But if we are wise,
We know that there's always tomorrow...
Another voice joins Aletha's.
Please swallow your pride.
If I have things you need to borrow.
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you don't let show...
Everyone in the bar begins to sing.
Lean on me, when you're not strong.
And I'll be your friend.
I'll help you carry on.
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on...
Aletha takes the lead again.
If there is a load you have to bear
That you can't carry,
I'm right up the road -
I'll share your load -
If you just call me.
All the voices rise again.

So just call on me, brother, when you need a hand.
We all need somebody to lean on.
I just might have a problem that you'd understand.
We all need somebody to lean on...

And everyone claps as we all sing:
Lean on me, when you're not strong;
And I'll be your friend.
I'll help you carry on.
For it won't be long,
Till I'm gonna need somebody to lean on.
Everyone singing. All of us.

We all knew the blues. We all knew the need for the touch of another. We all shared our wounds. And sang. Sang strong. Full, open-throated singing.

When it was over, we felt calm. Happy. Content. If only for a single moment.

It was enough for us in this dead, God-forsaken city.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Reasoned Response to a Recently Raging Debate

Terry Eagleton, writing in the "London Review of Books", has some well-spoken responses to The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins:
Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince. The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be. If they were asked to pass judgment on phenomenology or the geopolitics of South Asia, they would no doubt bone up on the question as assiduously as they could. When it comes to theology, however, any shoddy old travesty will pass muster. These days, theology is the queen of the sciences in a rather less august sense of the word than in its medieval heyday.

Dawkins on God is rather like those right-wing Cambridge dons who filed eagerly into the Senate House some years ago to non-placet Jacques Derrida for an honorary degree. Very few of them, one suspects, had read more than a few pages of his work, and even that judgment might be excessively charitable. Yet they would doubtless have been horrified to receive an essay on Hume from a student who had not read his Treatise of Human Nature. There are always topics on which otherwise scrupulous minds will cave in with scarcely a struggle to the grossest prejudice. For a lot of academic psychologists, it is Jacques Lacan; for Oxbridge philosophers it is Heidegger; for former citizens of the Soviet bloc it is the writings of Marx; for militant rationalists it is religion....

The Christian faith holds that those who are able to look on the crucifixion and live, to accept that the traumatic truth of human history is a tortured body, might just have a chance of new life – but only by virtue of an unimaginable transformation in our currently dire condition. This is known as the resurrection. Those who don’t see this dreadful image of a mutilated innocent as the truth of history are likely to be devotees of that bright-eyed superstition known as infinite human progress, for which Dawkins is a full-blooded apologist. Or they might be well-intentioned reformers or social democrats, which from a Christian standpoint simply isn’t radical enough.

The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you. Here, then, is your pie in the sky and opium of the people. It was, of course, Marx who coined that last phrase; but Marx, who in the same passage describes religion as the ‘heart of a heartless world, the soul of soulless conditions’, was rather more judicious and dialectical in his judgment on it than the lunging, flailing, mispunching Dawkins....

Apart from the occasional perfunctory gesture to ‘sophisticated’ religious believers, Dawkins tends to see religion and fundamentalist religion as one and the same. This is not only grotesquely false; it is also a device to outflank any more reflective kind of faith by implying that it belongs to the coterie and not to the mass. The huge numbers of believers who hold something like the theology I outlined above can thus be conveniently lumped with rednecks who murder abortionists and malign homosexuals. As far as such outrages go, however, The God Delusion does a very fine job indeed. The two most deadly texts on the planet, apart perhaps from Donald Rumsfeld’s emails, are the Bible and the Koran; and Dawkins, as one the best of liberals as well as one of the worst, has done a magnificent job over the years of speaking out against that particular strain of psychopathology known as fundamentalism, whether Texan or Taliban. He is right to repudiate the brand of mealy-mouthed liberalism which believes that one has to respect other people’s silly or obnoxious ideas just because they are other people’s. In its admirably angry way, The God Delusion argues that the status of atheists in the US is nowadays about the same as that of gays fifty years ago. The book is full of vivid vignettes of the sheer horrors of religion, fundamentalist or otherwise. Nearly 50 per cent of Americans believe that a glorious Second Coming is imminent, and some of them are doing their damnedest to bring it about. But Dawkins could have told us all this without being so appallingly bitchy about those of his scientific colleagues who disagree with him, and without being so theologically illiterate. He might also have avoided being the second most frequently mentioned individual in his book – if you count God as an individual.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Back Again

My replacement mobile phone arrived yesterday, so I am available once again. That's right, I'm all yours.

At last my arm is complete again.

That's right, it's a Razr.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Read This

Anyone stopping by this place ought to check out Wet Bank Guide to read - if nothing else - this post from today. I'm not going to tell you what it says; it's the kind of essay you need to read - and hear in your own head - for yourself.

But, man, it's sweet, sad, and so full of longing for what we all may be turning our backs on.

Go. Go now and give it a few minutes of your time.

Why Should We Be Surprised?

The European press seems to be onto something. Well, really, just more of the same old cynical political manipulation as honed to an art by the Bush cartel:
A radical change in US policy over Iraq after the November elections appeared increasingly likely yesterday after reports that a bipartisan commission headed by a Bush family confidant will recommend an approach to Iran and Syria for help or a withdrawal to bases outside Iraq.

The Iraq Study Group is chaired by James Baker, who was the first President Bush's secretary of state. It is not due to deliver its findings until after the congressional elections on November 7 because of their potentially explosive political impact, but the panel's proceedings have been leaked to the press….

According to leaks published first in the New York Sun and then in the Los Angeles Times, the Iraq Study Group, which has consulted 150 outside experts including Syrian and Iranian representatives, is focusing on two broad options.

One is entitled "Stability First" and it would involve focusing the military effort on pacifying Baghdad while attempting to draw some insurgent groups into the political process and opening talks with Syria and Iran.

The second has been called "Redeploy and Contain", pulling US troops back to bases outside Iraq and conducting military operations from there in support of Iraqi government forces.

However they were spun, both would represent a measure of defeat for President Bush, but with an American death toll fast approaching 3,000, the new report may reflect a realisation he has no choice.

What a waste, what a sin, what a crime against humanity.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

And Right after I finished That Last Post...

...This shows up in my RSS feed:
A federal judge in Houston this afternoon wiped away the fraud and conspiracy conviction of Kenneth L. Lay, the Enron Corp. founder who died of heart disease in July, bowing to decades of legal precedent but frustrating government attempts to seize nearly $44 million from his estate.

The ruling worried employees and investors who lost billions of dollars when the Houston energy trading company filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2001. It also came weeks after Congress recessed for the November elections without acting on a last-ditch Justice Department proposal that would have changed the law to allow prosecutors to seize millions in investments and other assets that Lay controlled.

With the judge's order, Lay's conviction on 10 criminal charges will be erased from the record. "The indictment against Kenneth L. Lay is dismissed," U.S. District Judge Simeon T. Lake III wrote in a spare, 13-page order.

F****rs, Eat My A**!

In other words, FEMA is at it again. After walking with Bobby to pick up some gumbo at C & C Grocery over on Royal Street, we made it back home and checked the mail. There I found a ratty, forwarded envelope addressed to me from FEMA. It turns out they had sent it to my brother Russell's address in Crowley, LA, the destination of our evacuation over a year ago.

Needless to say, I was in no hurry to open it. But I find it best, when one feels that way, to hurry up and get it over with because there's probably a deadline going to be involved. Sure enough, there was, but that came later toward the end of the letter.

Here is what Mr. or Ms. "Individuals and Households Program Officer" wrote:
Our records show that you received disaster assistance from FEMA. However, when we recently reviewed your file we could not verify your identity because we could not confirm that your name matches the social security number you provided.
Hmm. That's interesting. Who could I be? Oh, wait. Look here. They've addressed the letter to "Gleen", a "variant" of Glenn I don't believe ever existed. And they mailed it to my brother's address in a town across the state that was unaffected by Katrina; and, moreover, a brother whose first name (which he never uses except for legal purposes) is Gene. Gee, thanks, Mom.

The letter goes on:
Please send us a copy of an original document (except a social security card) that can verify your name and social security number.
Why do the feds never want to see a federal document designed to do just what they want us to prove?

This could be a copy of an official document showing your name and social security number, such as a tax form, a U. S. Military Identification Card or a social security award letter.
Damn, why did I do what the IRS encourages good Americans to do, that is, file their returns electronically? And why did Nixon end the Vietnam War right before my lottery number was set to come up in the draft?
You must send this documentation to FEMA within 30 days from the date of this letter, or you will have to return those funds.
It has taken me seven days to receive this letter because FEMA sent it to a wrong address, so that leaves me only 20 days. But I can handle that. But "return those funds"? I got less than most people, not even the full amount FEMA was paying to the general evacuee population. And they're going to come after me to take it back? What about the frauds, the grifters, and the carpetbaggers who bled them nearly blind a year ago?

Crap. Iraq goes on and our soldiers are being blown up into pieces, Halliburton grows grossly fat on oil-soaked dead meat, but FEMA's gonna show me. "Buddy, you better prove to us you are who you say you are and that you exist, or things are going to go tough on you."

Wait a minute. If I don't exist, how can I pay them back? And if they don't know where I live by now, I don't guess they'll ever find me before I die a natural death at a ripe old age, right?

Wait another minute though. I've lived in this apartment for 28 years. FEMA, a branch of the federal government, doesn't know my address? A FEMA agent came and visited me here personally last November and told me my home was uninhabitable. And that was after we had cleaned it up, and the place looked better than it had in years. But this guy was a midwestern yankee, not familiar with old historic buildings, the kind of guy who thinks that Europe is where the history came from, not here.

I wonder. How many FEMA agents does it take to spell i-n-c-o-m-p-e-t-e-n-c-e?

Things to Do in the Early Morning Hours

Create a web site. To Do Productions is now online.

It's crude and basic, but it's there. I hope to get hold of some better software to make improvements down the line, but the important thing for Donnie Jay was to get it running.

It's daylight now, so I'm off soon for my morning walk.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sure Hope My Landlord Doesn't Read This Article

We sit and talk about this all the time down here, but the T-P finally has somebody writing about it. And to think there are people who wonder why more natives aren't coming back to claim the jobs that need to be done.

After putting her two-bedroom apartment in the Bywater on the market last month, Nicole Hartford's phone rang off the hook. More than 25 people wanted to rent the apartment, even though Hartford was asking $900 a month, almost twice what she got for the space before Katrina.

The winning applicant was Marilyn Johnson, an unemployed fast-food worker who was desperate for a place to live. Johnson and her family were recently evicted from their temporary home in Lafayette, where they had evacuated after the hurricane, and were living in a hotel in New Orleans while looking for permanent housing.

Hartford said she decided to rent the apartment to Johnson because she felt sorry for her and because Johnson could afford to pay top dollar; she had a federal Section 8 voucher worth $964 a month in rental assistance.

Johnson, who used to pay $40 a month for an apartment in the B.W. Cooper housing development, was shocked at the price. With just one cupboard in the kitchen, she doesn't have enough storage space. Her stepson is getting splinters from the unpainted bathroom door. The kitchen window doesn't lock.

But it was the best deal she could find.

"It's ridiculous," said Johnson, 25, who shares the apartment with two toddlers and her fiancee. "This is not a good neighborhood; it's dangerous. We've got drug dealers living in the neighborhood. I can't even let my kids play in the back yard. It's a nice house, but it's not worth $964."

Though the owner rented out a virtually identical unit on the other side of the duplex for $400 a month earlier this year, Hartford maintains that Johnson's rent is fair.

"How many other properties can you go in and find hardwood floors and ceramic tiles and a refrigerator and a stove?" asked Hartford, who purchased the property for $6,500 in 1999. "I think it's a good deal in this market."

How many indeed. Just about any.

Johnson may be one of the lucky ones. According to advocates for affordable housing, thousands of former residents cannot move back to the city because of a metro-wide shortage of low-cost apartments. That's something New Orleans had plenty of before Katrina, when a third of renters paid $500 or less for their dwelling each month, according to U.S. Census data.

There's always a profit gonna come outta tragedy.

Dark before the Dawn

I've been awake with dry, stinging eyes since 2:30 this morning. When I woke, I thought I'd overslept.

Overslept? I can't oversleep, I have no schedule anymore. Or if I do set up an appointment for this or that, people are likely to suggest 10:30 at the earliest, "if that's not too early for you?"

I'd love to dress and go for a walk during this twilight time, but it's too dangerous now here if you don't have a permit to carry a weapon. So I come to this, the machine, and read...and write.

Remember Our Town? I was always stirred by the third act of that play when dead Emily leaves the graveyard to relive her twelfth birthday. In doing so, she experiences the deep sadness of the knowledge that we are all blind to the soul-affecting significance of the mundane.

Everything is so fragile. You say goodnight to friends one Friday evening, and the next thing you know, weeks have passed and there has been no further tangency or conversation.

We are, all of us, simply dealing with our own banalities, filling our loneliness with activities, unaware of their implications.

Until one day, we wake up with stinging eyes in the graveyard hours of an early Sunday morning to overhear the whispers of the other ghosts in our private cemeteries as they muse on the meaningfulness (or not), the fructification (or not), the whys (or why nots) of their lives.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

How Do They Know These Things?

I trekked on over to the West Bank yesterday on a shopping excursion with Bobby and Donnie Jay in tow. I hate shopping, but I was able to get it over with quickly and relatively painlessly.

For lunch, we did Mandarin House, and this was my fortune:


Friday, October 13, 2006

Going Undercover

To all those friends and lovers who call me frequently on my mobile phone, please hold off for a while - at least until next Thursday. After washing laundry today, while transferring the clothing to the dryer, what did I find in the pocket of a pair of shorts but my Samsung? And cellular phones don't work right after a full laundry cycle. At least, this one doesn't.

But I did discover one reason why my monthly bill is so high. I carry insurance for stupidity. My replacement should arrive by next Wednesday.

The home phone still works.

Oh, One More Thing about "Take Me Out"

Guys, I'm really sorry. I know you just want to get away from this thing, but Sperm Magnet told me this morning about this write-up in the current Ambush; (which Donnie Jay, our producer, didn't even tell me about) and I just have to post it here, verbatim, with no edits (well, maybe one or two):
A Grand Finale

I am floating high above the clouds and my euphoria is shared with sixteen others who have devoted most of their lives for the last two and a half months to a special project of mine. That project was of course Richard Greenberg’s TAKE ME OUT. When the play first opened it got a rather chilly reception from one reviewer, though even he admitted to some fine performances. After that it was like a snowball rolling down a mountain getting bigger with each turn. Almost without exception, review after review was more positive than the last, but more importantly word of mouth was unbelievable.

The newly renovated Marginy Theater was the venue and with the configuration of the seats as they were arranged, there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. For fourteen performances it just got better and better.

My hat goes off to our director, Glenn, who staged it with simplicity, rather letting the wonderful story carry the evening instead of elaborate gimmicks. I had wanted an awful lot of unnecessary scenery and props and when my set builder broke his foot and I went in desperate search for someone else, both Glenn and my partner in To Do Productions, Don McDonald, convinced me that it wasn’t necessary. That it could best be done with the lighting and sound effects setting the various locations of the scenes. With Glenn’s staging and the brilliant lighting designed by Don, the story flowed effortlessly through time present and past, from the ballpark, to the locker room and other locations.

When I first saw this particular play, as I often do, my mind began a casting process. I was so impressed with it that when in opened in Memphis, I cajoled Carlos Gonzalez into driving me there to see it. I wanted him to do it, I wanted him to play either one of two roles. I think this was the first time I bought a property for someone else. It paid off well.

Glenn managed to find what one must consider the most eclectic cast assembled. Not only some established actors, but some who had never set foot on stage. How he did it I will never know, but somehow they became the members of the team they portrayed on stage, the bond became so strong during rehearsals that one would have thought these guys had been long life friends. Not only could they act, but they were their characters and they looked like a baseball team. A feat not easily accomplished.

My hat goes off again, this time to the players; along with Carlos, Steve Kubick, Jason George, Dave Hotstream, Steve Patrick, Gemayel Holloway, Alphonse Bladergroen, Chris Schlumbrecht, Duck Tennant, Joe Roybal, and last but certainly not least Marten Johnson. You guys made my dream come true and set the bar for future To Do Productions.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

R I P, Miss Mary

How unkind the years can be. Word is literally seeping out that Mary Orr has passed away.

She died of pneumonia on September 24, 2006, for Chrissake, and the news is just in the LA Times today!? No one even knows how old she really was, they can only guess at the figure. Like, whaddya do, count wrinkles the way you would count rings in a felled redwood?

Yes, redwood, for Miss Mary Orr was a giant in her field. She it was who wrote "The Wisdom of Eve" which was only the short story that formed the basis for the motion picture All About Eve.

But, oh, ye fags and fairies, how callous ye've become! Time was when All About Eve was a serious milestone, the fagella bar mitzvah. Why, you couldn't be presented into a fabulous gay bar until you had started to memorize some of the immortal lines from that classic. Lines like:
Eve Harrington: If nothing else, there's applause... like waves of love pouring over the footlights.

Birdie: What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end.

Margo Channing: Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!

Margo Channing: I'll admit I may have seen better days, but I'm still not to be had for the price of a cocktail, like a salted peanut.

Lloyd Richards: That bitter cynicism of yours is something you've acquired since you left Radcliffe!
Karen Richards: The cynicism you refer to, I acquired the day I discovered I was different from little boys!

Margo Channing: I'm a junkyard.

Eve Harrington: [throwing door open] Get out.
Addison DeWitt: You're too short for that gesture.

Birdie: There's a message from the bartender. Does Miss Channing know she ordered domestic gin by mistake?
Margo Channing: The only thing I ordered by mistake is the guests...
Of course, Joe Mankiewicz credited himself as the writer of the screenplay, but without Mary Orr's original gleam, it never would have come to be. And for that, Miss Mary, we salute you. Go on to your glory, girl.

Stepping Back

The sadness is creeping in like dusk when the gray darkness starts to insinuate its shadow through the crack in my front door sill.

How does one write about this without eliciting or soliciting sympathy or pity? After all, it's nothing new. It's been with me all my life. It's a defining part of my makeup. I'm certain it comes to me, at least, from my grandfather through my mother. I'd even go so far as to say it is a good thing; it has a positive effect on me once it has run its course - as long as I live through the void and make it out the other end.

It closes me off within myself where I grope my way through the darkness inside and discover things I could not find in the light. So some good does come out of it.

I know I will need to walk. I know I will need to socialize. And I will do those things. I will come through this in a short time. Till then...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

And as My Reward for Coming Out...

...I now sport an earring, a surgical-stainless steel hoop with a blue, heart-shaped stone suspended between the two poles by the tension of the ring.

Bobby has not noticed. Don't tell him.

And I may have found the fleur de lis cross I've been looking for for my next tattoo.

National Coming Out Day

I understand today is the day. Now, I've never admitted this, and I'm sure it will come as a - perhaps - devastating shock to many people close to me; but...I'm gay.

There. I've said it. I...why, I feel so free. Tears of joy are streaming down my glowing cheeks (not those cheeks).

I want to shout it from the rooftops!

I...I...I wanna dance...!
One, two, shoulder up...
Point and point,
Leap, step, kick.
Hat to the head.
Three, four.
Lead with the hip.
Follow through,
Up, down.
Feel the phrase.
Elbow right, down, point.
Step, brush...
Step, flick, step, up.
Step and step, slow...
Hat, kick, step, brush, five, six.
Back, back.
Jazz hands! I got your jazz hands, mistah choreographah! Step aside, I'm comin' through.

Just the Latest

The day before yesterday, three men were shot and wounded outside The Praline Connection on Frenchmen Street in the Marigny Triangle shortly after 7:00 PM. Then last night, this:

An unidentified man was shot dead Tuesday night while allegedly trying to rob a woman in Faubourg Marigny, New Orleans police said.

Police said the woman, 27, and a male companion, 28, were walking about 8:45 p.m. in the 2200 block of North Rampart Street when another man held a handgun against the woman's back and demanded money, said Garry Flot, a police public information officer.

Her companion, who has a concealed weapon permit, pulled his own handgun and shot the gunman several times, police said.

The gunman, who had no identification on him, died at the scene, between Elysian Fields Avenue and Marigny Street.

The case is under investigation, but no charges were filed Tuesday night.

And these are only the shootings closest to home. Do we all need to start packing heat?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

And Still They Can't Get Enough

Donnie Jay directed me to an article in the current issue of Ambush Magazine, written by Brad Benedict from Baton Rouge. Mr. Benedict caught the final performance of Take Me Out (yes, that old chestnut - again) and seems to have been quite taken with the play, the performance, and the actors, all of which sprang fully formed, of course, from the brow of Zeus and needed only some external hand to flip the light switch.
...I really hadn’t been into any of the theater scene. Without the Saenger Theater, I just stayed in old Red Stick. However, after seeing the show that Donnie Jay and his crew have put together, I think I’ll make all of their events in the future. In fact, I was so pleased with this presentation, I’d be willing to buy season tickets to all of the productions there. He provided me with excellent seats, and I did appreciate that. I’ll have to check out more of his future plans and participate in community functions down river from old Red Stick.

As long as I’ve been coming to New Orleans – to Rip and Marsha’s parties, to the Golden Lantern, and to other places of interest – I don’t ever recall talking to Donnie Jay. There are people that you read about or see in the news or attend parties with that you just assume you know. That isn’t the case here. I’m really sorry for this oversight on my part, and I look forward to talking to this intelligent gentleman again. Right now, I’m just glad he helped me out with the great seats for the final performance of Take Me Out.

The show has closed, but hopefully they will bring it back for encore performances later on. This was one of the most talented groups of performers I’ve seen in a long time. Whether it is in theater productions at Le Petite Theater du Vieux Carre, the Saenger Theater, LSU and Tulane’s numerous theater productions, or big events that I’ve experienced at the great Casa Manana while attending college in Fort Worth, this Marigny show was top notch in all aspects, especially in the cast members and their performances. Of course, you can’t go to the theater without picking out favorites, but all of these guys did such marvelous jobs. Even though I enjoyed everyone, I have to admit that the role of Shane Mungitt taken on by Dave Hotstream was outstanding, and the best comedian of the group had to be Steve Kubick who played Mason Marzac to perfection. That guy had the best lines of the entire show. The complete staging was...held together by Carlos M. Gonzalez who played Kippy Sunderstrom, and Duck Tennant as Toddy Koovitz was a great choice too. I may have to pay him a visit and tell him how much he added to the scenery – and what great scenery that was. Overall, this show was something I needed...

Whoring My Nikon

Last week I accepted a commision to shoot a guy's babies. I just finished the shoot, and have to admit I've never worked with such bitches before. I want to give somebody a head's-up because this may be coming to you in a Christmas card soon:

Monday, October 9, 2006

Signs and Portents, Hidden in Plain Sight

I took off from the apartment a little while ago to make my way to C & C Grocery on Royal Street to get a bowl of gumbo for Bob.

Walking up Decatur, I spy a dude coming toward me. He's grey-haired with a certain bulk and breadth to him, and a held-high head...Well, that's not the point. The point is he's wearing a tee-shirt that has the above message bannered across it.

I like that. May I live to fulfill it's dream.

In the meantime, let it be known to all who come after us that on this day in CE 2006, at 13:07 hours, the bear rolled over on his ass and napped.

Wake Up!

I've been up since three this morning. Where is everybody? Come on, get a move on, people.

Somebody, entertain me!

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Things to Do on Sunday with Time on Your Hands

You can shoot Devin, for one thing.

How Sweet It Is, Or How Do We Put This Baby to Bed?

Just got off the cell with Donnie Jay who telephoned to tell me he is still getting calls from people who want to make reservations to see Take Me Out.

Man, that feels good. But it is time to move on, you know. I have pictures to shoot and a new play to prepare for for Christmas.

Just what does a gay theatre adjacent to a gay, country-western bar present for the edification of its clientele during the Yuletide?

Spare me the "gay apparel" shit, please.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

A Query for Dave

So, Pisser, (see, I started this post with "So") when you have your photo shoot with Larry Graham, if he asks you what saint you'd like to be, would you consider Dorothy Day?

I've got ten bucks riding on your answer.


Unedited lines heard on a porno flick:
Voice 1: You're ready to come?!

Voice 2: No, no, but when I am, do want me to pull it out and shoot all over his ass then fuck it back into him?
O! for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention...

The Post W'ot Goes Like This

I had a particularly bitchy post about what I did last night all ready for publication this morning. But in deference to the feelings for two of the people involved, I'm not going public with it.

Don't ask. Don't wheedle. I'm stronger than I may appear.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Giving Back

A new Exhibit opens tonight at Cutter's Bar. Every October, artists submit works for sale, and every proceed goes to Buzzy's Boys and Girls, a local AIDS charity. I have submitted two photographs which I hope help the cause. Both were inspired by a scene in Take Me Out, and both models were the performers themselves. I so hope others see what I saw, and some good can come from this.

I have titled the first image, "Isolation." The one below is simply "Dave."

Thanks to both Jason and Dave for giving me the opportunity to preserve one of the most visually beautiful moments in that play and for their patience as I tried to get everything right.

And, Pisser, I'm really sorry about all the stalkers. At least, you shouldn't be readily recognizable in these.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Accomplishing Milestones

In keeping with my vow to do new things in my life as I enter my retirement years, let me mention what I have accomplished so far in my first week:
I have taken daily early morning walks like all old people are supposed to do.

I have gotten my first tattoo and am planning my second - while thinking about my third.

I am waiting for the opportunity to get away from Bobby long enough to have my left ear pierced so I can begin sporting a big ring there.
So far so good.

Today, I attended my first orgy.

Now, a planned orgy is a curious thing. The host insists upon discretion, so although he sends the word out a full month in advance, he never reveals the site of the "party." You must discreetly RSVP via email, preferably from your anonymous account, not your real one that anybody in the house can access.

The host will then reveal the location of the party late the night before the event, again via email. This information only lets you know the hotel where said orgy is to occur, not the room number. To get that, you must call a secret cell phone 15 minutes before the start of the party and wait for the voice mail to kick in, at which point a distant voice will repeat a secret code, a series of numbers, several times in several different ways (five-forty, five-four-oh, five-four-oh, five-forty) until, in your density, you realize it is simply the room number within the selected hotel.

That last email from the night before has already given you instructions on how to approach the room. For instance, you must "walk straight to the room. If you walk by the room, look at the door, keep going, then turn around and do it again, that is not discreet; and you draw attention to the door." You don't want to do that.

Once you have done that (approached the door, that is - discreetly), you must "knock lightly. If you bang or knock hard, others might open their doors, and you will have drawn attention to the room."

These are the no-nos. They may be the most fun part of the whole deal.

Once you knock, the host swings open the door, grabs you by the back of the head, and sweeps you into the room like a cop settling a perp into the back seat of his cruiser.

Now, you've come early, nervously thinking you will be the first to arrive, only to find a roomful of people already waiting. You then begin to wait with them for at least another 30 minutes as more people knock lightly on the door and are yanked in.

The host, of course, is charming and keeps up a lighthearted running banter. Today, he has nothing but praise for this hotel's housekeeping staff. They are wonderful, and we should not worry that they might be entering the room as we perpetrate the unspeakable abomination we have come here to enjoy, since he has already told them he is merely hosting a business meeting here from noon until two. Apparently, the staff is Central American, so they raise no questions or eyebrows about the gringo holding a business meeting at lunchtime in a private hotel room.

During this interval, you begin to notice the other people already here. Across from you, lounging on one of the beds is a guy who looks like what Kevin Costner might look like if Kevin Costner looked like any dude in real life. On an opposite corner of this same bed is a portly, white-haired gentleman sitting resignedly with his hands folded in his lap. Coming into the room shortly after you have entered is a rather large fellow. Really big. You begin to relax as you realize that, although you may not be the most attractive person in the room, neither are you the oldest nor the fattest.

Across the room are the kids, one in his thirties, the other a twenty-something.

The first of these youngsters is quite attractive, the kind of person who will never have to lift a finger for anything he wants in this life - until he reaches his forties, goes to pot, and ends his days passed out under the Governor Nicholls Street Wharf, from whose rocks he will, late one night, roll over in his oblivion into the cold, slimy waters of the Mississippi River, and silently drown.

The twenty-something is a shaggy-haired doofus with a little belly and baby fat who will soon reveal the biggest package in the room once he drops trou - the kind of package designed to humiliate every other male in the vicinity and make him mutter, "Oh, God" - you know what I mean?

Unfortunately for everyone else in the room, he will be set upon by the stringbean with the long neck and knobby elbows, gnarly hips, and bony legs who will lock lips on the kid like a Tennessee hound dog on that stray chicken that happened to hop the fence.

Stringbean's mother never taught him to share. I know it's impolite to belittle someone's mom, but there it is.

The rather large gentleman will be the first to strip. That certainly lowers the tension in the room. Suddenly, there is a feeling of camaraderie replacing the earlier one of competition. The orgy has begun.

And it ensues.

Eventually, you begin to think, I wish I'd had a few drinks on the way here. Then a little later, you start thinking, I wish I were out drinking now. You begin to notice the host checking the messages on his cell phone. You notice the interesting-looking bear taking it easy in one of the easy chairs in the room. You decide to take it easy in the other one. Once the bear has decided to start getting dressed, you figure it's been long enough and you can politely leave the party, too. After all, you were raised never to be the one to make the first exit from the ball.

It is at this moment you realize there have been no instructions telling you how you were supposed to leave the party. So you ask the host, who replies, serenely, "Just open the door."

With a confident mien, you do just that - at the same time as the attractive youngster (the one who will never have to lift a finger but drowns in the river) suddenly steps out of the adjacent bathroom, sees the open door, and scurries back in, too scared to risk being seen, naked and engorged. (What was he doing in the bathroom? I wonder.)

Smiling the smile of the righteous now, you step out into the hallway, find the elevator, take it down to the first floor, leave the hotel, and walk to your car.

Voila! You have accomplished another milestone in your quest for the perfect second childhood, your first orgy.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Care to Take a Dare?

Try this.

Ob-la-di Ob-la-da, Life Goes on, Bra

This is an email I just received from my cousin Lloyd. How does one go about uncovering and discovering the priorities of the NOPD? Notice who wrote the letter to "Captain Anderson."

We know that similar things are happening in Marigny. Be careful. We drive to our neighborhood bars now! - Lloyd

Subject: Police response to hate crime attack Sunday 10:15 pm

Captain Anderson,

I appreciate the work that you do but we had a police response this evening that was pretty weak, that you should know about.

Walking home this (Sunday) evening, about 1015 pm, I saw a guy being beaten in the 800 block of Ursulines by two young-ish white men. I called 911. They ran off, up Dauphine toward Esplanade, before I got too close.

It was a classic hate crime. The victim told me that they asked if he was gay. He was, but had a bad feeling, and said no. They said, yes, you are -- you're a faggot and started beating on him, knocking him to the sidewalk and kicking him. He was bloody, bruised and scraped up.

The response time was at least a full 10 minutes, if not longer. At one point, I called the 8th District to be sure someone was coming. (FYI, I appreciated the guy on desk duty. He seemed very concerned, even as he referred me to dispatch to get information.)

When the officers came in Police Car # 807, they seemed "disinterested" -- this was the victim's word, not mine, but it seemed fair from what I saw.

For example, at first, I wondered if the officers were even going to get out of the car. They seemed pretty laid back, just asking questions out the car window. (The laid back nature of the questions didn't give the impression that they were staying in the car so that they might zoom after someone.) A car came up behind them, so they pulled over, and then got out.

The driver/officer took no notes. He just kept asking questions to the victim about whether he wanted to go home, call someone, etc...Finally, when he asked, "What do you want to do?” the victim said that he wanted to officer to take a report about the attack. The victim and I both had the impression that no report would have been taken if the victim had not directly asked for one. (Even if the officer tells you that he planned to take a report, he was projecting an image with no sense of urgency or interest. That itself does not serve us well.)

At the end, just before they drove off, the driver/officer said, "So there were two of them?"

If he was still unsure of such a basic, fundamental fact at that point, that was pretty sad. Maybe it was just a dumb thing to say, but it certainly added to the poor impression. The whole episode seemed pretty lackluster.

Nathan Chapman

Vieux Carre' Property Owners, Residents and Associates, Inc.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

My Mom

She was conceived in Sicily. A tiny village, she told me the name many times, but I can't remember it tonight. I'm not even sure if her father and mother were married, but they probably were.

It happened that soon after, her "papa" stabbed a man in a "taverna" and had to escape the island before retribution set in. He stowed away on a cattle boat and made his way to New Orleans.

Her mother and her grandmother followed shortly on another boat. Unfortunately, enough time had passed for "papa" to have found another woman who suited him better than Conchetta, my grandmother.

They had written ahead of their arrival, so once their train pulled into the city, he was there to greet them and to vocally urge them back to the "old country."

He wanted nothing more to do with them. He had a new life, a new wife, and a new family on its way.

Having no fare to return to Sicily, the young woman and her mother continued west, to Franklin, Louisiana, where my mother was born in 1919. Needing menfolk now to care for them, the women made their way to New Iberia where there was an enclave of Sicilian immigrants. My grandmother met a man who was willing to leave his wife and family for her, but not her newborn. So my mother was turned over to her grandmother who travelled further into the state until she found the town of Crowley and settled there in another Sicilian enclave, taking up with another Sicilian man her own age who "imported olive oil from the old country."

They opened a small grocery store and sent my mother to the nearby Catholic school until she had learned English and arithmetic. They pulled her out in second grade to run their grocery store.

Years later, when she had reached her teen years, an elderly man began to appear with frequency to watch her. Of course, this disturbed her, so she told her grandmother and her grandmother's "padrone". They soon discovered this man was "papa".

In the intervening years, he'd become unhinged and had suffered from severe depressions. He desperately needed to reconcile with his daughter.

Who would no longer have anything to do with him.

He sent his son, her half-brother, to meet with her. She came to love him, her brother, but would not bend in her resolve to avoid her father.

Soon after, he died, a "crazy man" (as they called such people then), a ward of the Catholic Church in New Orleans, housed in a "maisonette" on Chartres Street.

She kept in touch with her half-brother for the rest of her life.

All this occurred before I was born.

On my twenty-first birthday, my last nephew, Scotty, was born. For his sixth birthday, I flew him and my mother to New Orleans for a week to celebrate our joint anniversaries.

My big surprise was a dinner for my mother and my Uncle Chris, her half-brother. It was a lovely evening for the both of them. We spent the time in my apartment on Decatur Street.

When it was time to leave, we walked my uncle out onto the street. He looked around and caught his bearings.

He said to my mother, "Mary, right here, next door to Glenn's building, there used to be a bar. They used to let papa sweep it out and mop it every morning for drinks and breakfast. And back there, around the corner on Chartres, those are the maisonettes where the Cathedral pastor let papa live, and where they found him when he'd passed away."

Here I was - here I still am - living within the geography of my own blood heritage.

My Secret

I had to go back to the Marigny Theatre last night to look for a new script I thought I may have mislaid there Sunday evening. I went into the bar and found the manager Lance who told me to go right in, the place wasn't locked. Wow, if it's never locked, it would sure make a great backroom. But I extrapolate.

I meandered my way through the seating arrangement to the back of the house where I'd stood through so many performances. The script wasn't there.

The thought occurred to me that I had had it with me at one point when I went backstage after the final performance, so I went to check that out.

Nothing in the wings. Backstage, the safety lights were on, and the sadness of a closed show swept over me. Scattered across the floor were the baseball uniforms, waiting to be collected, washed, and stored away. Alone on the clothes rack hung Mason Marzak's jackets and slacks, his pajamas folded neatly on a table behind the rack along with his bedroom slippers. Against a far wall lay Darren Lemming's slacks and shirts. On another table were the baseball bats, balls, and gloves.

No script.

But also there on the table, alone, away from the other props, lay a hat. All I had wanted as a memento of this production had been a baseball cap, one with the Empire's logo. I had fantasized receiving it from the company after the final performance and finding it had been signed by each cast member. That was not to be. But here, on this night, in front of me, lay one lone, forlorn, abandoned cap.

Fuck 'em. I took it.

Walking back onstage, I stopped downstage center and scanned the house. Memories of wonderful moments washed over me. I looked at the cap I held in my hands and turned it over. That was when I caught a glimpse of something written on the label inside. I looked closer. Was it...? Yes. It was. Written there in permanent marker was a name. I held in my left hand the cap worn by...I can't say it here. But I knew then fate had intended it to come to me.

I put it onto my head as I lifted my eyes one last time. For a few moments, I stood there in a small glow of glory among the ruins.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Damn Right

Jes' settin' on the stoop 'n' thinkin' 'bout things.
If we learned anything from the Nuremberg trials it is that citizens are responsible for what their government does in their name. The right wing of Congress, which has shed any last vestige of being anything remotely conservative in substance or American in spirit, has, like a deranged peacock, proudly shown the world that it can and did "happen here." The passing of the pro-torture bill is a full handover of everything democratic into the arms of fascism....

Our founding fathers are spinning in their graves at the thought of how Bush -- the deranged man-child; Cheney -- the most criminally corrupt government official to have ever been put into office; and Rummy -- a war criminal even before the war in Iraq have together burned the Constitution while the nation watched Survivor.

Quite simply put, if there were a moment's doubt that this nation was heading for a fascist take-over, then watching the United States Congress make legal that which in WWII the United States heroically fought to make immoral should be the final proof.

The expediency with which the fascists have taken apart democracy in America can only be ascribed to years of practice; from Nixon to Iran Contra, these madmen should have been imprisoned, not pardoned. But as they attacked and abused the nation anew and pushed the envelope further, they were always pardoned. Now what is there to stop this madness, after no one is left standing in the way of the criminal gang running the country like the Mafia?...

The mask of Christianity does not lessen such evil, because the Nazis, too, enjoyed their Christian pomp and circumstance.

I see no difference between this statement:

"We have a feeling that Germany has been transformed into a great house of God, including all classes, professions and creeds, where the F├╝hrer as our mediator stood before the throne of the Almighty." -- Joseph Goebbels

and the one below:

Why is this man [George W. Bush] in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. I tell you this morning that he's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this."

--Lt. General William G. Boykin

The Naked Baseball Play Is Over

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Missed Opportunities

We close Take Me Out tonight, and I'm realizing there are members of this cast I've never seen naked. And to think some people assumed nudity was an audition requirement. It wasn't, of course.

On the other hand, there were some actors who shamelessly flung themselves at me after auditions. But I just chalk that up to my mature "who's your daddy?" charm and that fabled "firm-hand-in-a-velvet-glove" directorial style I have.

And so what if I did cast them in major roles?

I have come to love them all. I'm going to miss them.

I won't say I'm going to cry.
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