Sunday, October 05, 2008

Transitions, Challenges and Such

So much going on, so little time to put it all together in posts - so, forgive me if I empty the gullet here in one post. It's all got to come out.


I lost a friend last week.

Not someone I'd call at 3 in the morning, crying on his shoulder, but a long-time theatre friend, a Mardi Gras friend, a coffee-with-whatever-bunch-showed-up-that-morning friend - and that rare person who was far-more outrageous than I could ever dream of being.

You always knew when Steve was in the room.

Or 3 blocks away.

Steve's bicycle was festooned with odd (read that as borderline NC-17) ornaments and geegaws, garlands and bells - and when he spotted you, you were greeted with a "Yoohooooooo!!" in a voice that could pierce the thickest New England fog.

Steve was a wonderful dancer, a strong singer and one of the most alive people i think I've ever met. One time at a party, he pulled me aside and said, "Come on, we're gonna put on a show." He pulled me upstairs where he threw a wig and scarf at me - having already selected his own impromptu ensemble - and then jumped out on the balcony overlooking the courtyard where our friends were partying, and started belting out "Let Me Entertain You." I followed up with "Nowadays" from Chicago.

Now that was a party.

Steve was also a great costume designer - here's the photo I snapped on him in 2004. Outrageous to the end, Steve finally succumbed to leukemia after a more than 2 year battle.

I will miss him - and New Orleans is a little less beautiful and delightful for his passing.


Yesterday, I learned of another passing: my friend Coleen Salley, storyteller, author and bon vivant extraordinaire. Coleen was the Distinguished Professor of Children's Literature at the University of New Orleans, wrote many children's books and taught future generations all about the joy of reading and sharing books. My dear friend and fellow book-lover Susan Larson writes a wonderful tribute to her here.

"I don't want children to read just to perfect their reading. I want them to love books for the joy of it."

Coleen Salley

Coleen smoked and drank for most of her life until doctors told her to (um, strongly recommended thatshe out to) shape up. I don't blush at much, but she swore like a sailor and saw and did more in her life than most of us can imagine. I was fortunate to live in her neighborhood, a stone's throw from St. Louis Cathedral, and get invited to many of Coleen's infamous parties - Christmas soirees before the Caroling in Jackson Square - author parties with Hudson Talbot and others I cannot even recall, due to that fourth Brandy Mild Punch.

New Orleans is a helluva lot less fabulous with Coleen's passing. She's telling wicked and wonderful stories to the angels now.


Life is too short to be angry all the time or to read bad books - or to tell other people what a bad book is. Coleen's passing only more dramatically points to last week's Banned Books Week.

I had every intention of posting a long diatribe on the virtues of reading banned/challenged books, and the evils of censorship, and blah blah blah. Truth is, the real world intruded. So, do your homework, check out sites like this and talk to other folks about why you think certain books aren't right for YOUR kids - but support people's choice to read what they want.

NOTE: during my research on banned books, I stumbled across this blog site. I've posted about books and some of the (perhaps) misguided challenges to them, but I had never encountered anyone who was against one of my all-time favorites, Guess How Much I Love You. The rationale? It bothered her that the parent always has to out-do the child. Really? That bothers you? Did you really read the book? What say you, parents?


Other than that, I had planned on writing an Elegy to the Letter G. Thanks to Governor Palin, the final G - which until now been on life support, but still doing moderately OK - slipped away quietly on Thursday evening, never to heard from again.

Folks, please do your part. Don't let final G be forgotten. Let us not become a nation that is merely runnin', walkin', hopin' and wishin'...but please, remember the G.

Dreaming is not just a thing of the past.


One final thought: I am willing to bet that Sarah Palin was “that girl” in High School - not exactly pretty or smart, but aware enough to see where the power lay. And just charming or shrewd enough to know how to play people to do things for her, to subtly bully people out of the picture - making others’ lives a living Hell for crossing her.

If a real poll could have been taken of her peers, I would bet they’d vote her Most Feared.What training. Now, she’s just a small town bully who never left high school, never learned anything that wasn’t advantageous to her assent, no critical thinking skills and no awareness of the world around her. A brainless bully.

A dangerous bully. A bully who aspires to Cheney-like bullying. And if that doesn't scare you, I doubt little will.

Thank you, John McCain, for Sarah Palin - the gift that keeps on giving to the Barack Obama Campaign.


6 comment(s):

Jen of A2eatwrite

I'm so, so sorry for both of your losses, Ambassador.

Anyone who's outraged by Guess How Much I Love You is outrageous. That's this parent's opinion. C loved that book as a child - it made him secure that however much he loved us, we'd love him more. It's not about competition, it's truth. It's the way it should be. Then he gets to form his own "best loves" when he grows up.

Good to hear from you.

painted maypole

I'm sorry for your losses, and glad that you got to be friends with such wonderful people.

And sarah palin. Oh, I am so looking forward to a few years from now when she is mostly forgotten by all but a few people who talk at a dinner party, rejoicing that she has slipped back into oblivion

we love "Guess How Much I Love You" around here, too

Jenn in Holland

Oh, bless you my friend. I am so sorry for your losses this week. My heart is full of thoughts for you.
As to the rest of these ideas in your post, you are such a delight! And when you're ready, I think you should expound on all of them.
I love to read your thoughts.

Thinking of you in your quiet refelective moments.

soccer mom in denial

I'm sorry for losing such dear friends. And I do love that the children's lit friend swore like a sailor!

I cried whenever I read Guess How Much I Love You even BEFORE I had kds. Imagine the waterworks since. The parent is outdoing the kid? That parent is clueless.

Palin. Moron.

soccer mom in denial

FYI - An email I sent you just bounced back.....

Big smooch.


I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. I'm sorry seems inadequate when these things happen, but, try as I might to find the right word, they never come, at least not for me.

The missing "G" Don't even get me started, dude.

Banned books? I reads them and themn flaunt them around the knuckle-draggers I work with. It seldom provokes a reaction, as most of my colleagues haven't read a book since high school or college.

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