Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sad, but still Marvelous

We lost another bright light yesterday.

Mary Travers was a big part of my early music life - we had the Peter, Paul & Mommy album. I'm surprised we didn't wear it out.

I knew every song by heart, all the lyrics and all the parts. It wasn't until much later in life that I realized how extraordinarily well-crafted these songs and arrangements were/are. And one of the most magical things about them is how truly effortlessly they sang these songs.

Infused with humor, yearning, giddiness and pathos, these songs grabbed hold of me and never let go.

I Have a Song to Sing, O!

Puff, The Magic Dragon

Day is Done

Going to the Zoo Tomorrow

But. The one that has always been the best, my most favorite, is the one that makes me well up with tears, despite never having had children of my own.

The Marvelous Toy

The last verse just gets to me.

So, today we celebrate the life of a lovely singer who touched the lives of a lot of people for several generations.

Mary, you will always be Marvelous to me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Walking, Soles United!

Yesterday, we held our SideWALK Sale to raise funds for our NO/AIDS WALK team, Soles United.

There was only a 70% chance of rain...but it had been raining pretty much all the time, every day for that last 10 days. This had us concerned.

I got up and walked the dog around 6:30am and to my surprise, there was actually a sunrise. You know, one that you could see. far so good.

We managed to set up in time for the early birds - and 9am, we still had decent weather. We had mixed clouds and sun for the next 2 hours.

And. Then. only started to sprinkle. And then stop. And then sprinkle again.

And around 11:20, it start seriously drizzling and we decided to pack it in. (We were set up under the eaves of the condo building, which is further shelter by an ancient live oak tree.)

Um...We weren't counting on the electricity.

You know, the natural kind?

There was thunder and lightning the likes of which we've not seen in at least 5 years here. At one point the storm was overhead, the flashes and booms nearly simultaneous and I thought to myself, this is not the time to be carrying this metal headboard back in the house.

So, we succeeded in packing up the last of the unsold items without getting struck by lightning - a little sore and wet, but alive. For a rainy Sunday morning, during church time and one the morning of the first Saints game of the season (a home game, no less!), we did OK.

So, we are down to the last of it - we'll be carousing the French Quarter this Friday and Saturday evening, twisting arms and adding to the coffers for our Walk Team. Our team is doing well this year, but as in years past, I have my own very personal reasons for Walking.

Having been the recipient of their services in the past, I do what I can to help support the NO/AIDS Task Force. I know many of the wonderful folks who work there - and count a lot of them as friends. If you can and wish to support this cause, you can check out my personal pledge page here. Any donations you are able to give - $5, $10 - anything - is more than they had before.

And from me...thank you.

Anyway, next Sunday is the NO/AIDS WALK - if you are in the New Orleans area and want to show your support, come on down to Audubon Park before the kick off at 10AM. It's always a lot of fun and it's for an incredibly important cause.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Of Rants and Racism and Presidential Speeches

In just a short while, President Obama will be addresses the students of America, our future.

While I do agree that the accompanying lesson plan was not crafted in the most well-thought out manner, I am having a hard time getting all the stains out of the ceiling tile from each time my head has exploded over the last week, listening to the unfathomable brouhaha.

Here in Louisiana, it is optional from parish to parish. Public schools in New Orleans are all viewing the President's speech, while the suburbs (to which all the white flight occurred) are making it optional and at the superintendents’ discretion. Some schools are offering alternative assignments and giving parents the option to have their kids not watch it.

What I want to know is this: how long are they estimating this speech to be? Tops, 10 minutes, right? After all, how long are kids going to really pay attention?

The argument that it disrupts the curriculum for the day is specious at best. It takes longer to wrangle students for a bathroom run. And how much is this costing in administration and extra labor hours to provide the alternative activity and more teachers/substitutes to watch the kids who are not viewing the speech?

And finally (sorry for the soapbox moment), if the righties really fear this as a piece of potential indoctrination, why not let the President go through with it as originally planned? At that point, a righty could then step back and say, “See. This is exactly what we were talking about. He is Satan/Hitler/Mussolini/Easter Bunny Killer.”

The stupid. It burns.

Monday, September 07, 2009

We Heard A Rumor

So, Labor Day Weekend is Southern Decadence in New Orleans, an event that started in 1972 as little more than a bar crawl and has now become a massive series of parties and gatherings, culminating in the very popular parade Sunday afternoon.

This, of course, leave Monday - Labor Day - for recovery.

Southern Decadence now draws more than 100,000 folks to New Orleans every year - and despite Hurricane Katrina squashing the big events, a rag-tag bunch still wandered about the French Quarter on Sunday, September 5th in their own version of the parade.

Police tried to stop the procession - understand, this was less than a week after the levees had failed. However, one of the revelers actually produced the parade permit that had been granted by the Southern Decadence organizers, and the parade went on unhindered.

Last year, the parade was completely thwarted by the mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Gustav. Things could have gone on - most of the Quarter only lost power for 2-4 hours on average.


This year, we started hearing buzz about a new entry in the parade.

A Gay Marching Band.

Really, what could be more fabulous?

Of course the jokes started flying when we heard this rumor - with a gay marching band of 200 members, we speculated that the general (and highly stereotypical for humor's sake) makeup would be:

  • 9 Lesbians playing bass drum
  • 112 piccolo players
  • 53 color guard
  • and 26 queens fighting to be Drum Major(ette)

We could not have been more wrong - and all jokes aside, they were sensational.

The group - Lesbian & Gay Band Association - is in New Orleans this weekend for their annual national conference, and offered to play in the parade. Nearly 200 strong, they had a huge brass section, lots of percussion and woodwinds - and to be fair, only 3 drum majors, 5 flags and 7 piccolo players. (There were several lesbians playing drums...)

This is Paloma - one of the Grand Marshall's for 2008 and 2009. She and her co-Marshall, Tittie Toulouse, reigned again this year after not having the chance to fulfill their duties last year. Paloma is so sweet, photographs really well and can walk in killer shoes - but let's just say that lipsynching is not her strong suit...

It was a wonderful parade - and despite some very heavy downpours, the timing for the parade was perfect.

There is a lot about Southern Decadence that gets less than flattering press...

So, the Beau and I were both a little misty-eyed with pride when the band came by - at a time when horrible things are being said about gays and lesbians here and around the world, it was so very important to see them.

Just people. Making music. Making other people happy.

Is there a better gift?

Wanting Something

There are many songs that move me...spirituals, arias, folk tunes, soaring Broadway of all genres.

Some of them appeal to me as a performer - how I yearn to to sing certain works in the context of their original setting, be it a requiem mass, opera or stage show. To have that connection for just a moment with the audience - so tenuous and infinite all at the same time - and draw them in, make them feel and leave them changed, somehow.

Other works move me in a different way - the songs that I want, need to listen to. Many of them are well out of my range and not anything that I could ever attempt to perform. Some of them are what I turn to when I need to cry or laugh.


There are those few songs that I need. Songs that from the first moment you hear them, you think to yourself, "Ah, now if someone, some day would sing that to me..."

I learned this the hard way in college - one of the grad students - a friend of mine - was to perform an aria that was new to him at a group recital. Larry asked if he could use me to focus on for his performance; knowing how seeing a friendly face in the audience would help calm him, I agreed...not knowing it was Una Furtiva Lagrimar from Donizetti's L'elisir d'Amour.

I melted.

And from that day forward, I have pined to hear someone, anyone sing it to me again, that way. So completely sublime.

And now, for Monday Music, here's the more contemporary song that holds that place - no one has ever sung this to me.

And I don't know that I would be the same again if they did.

Aaron Lazar and Katie Clarke,

Performing "Love to Me"

from Adam Guettel's The Light in the Piazza

Sunday, September 06, 2009


I saw this online months ago and saved it, intending to write some insightful post about technology outpacing humanity's ability to understand, utilize and cope with it.

Instead, I think you ought to just watch this and marvel at the shear brilliance.


Saturday, September 05, 2009

Sunrise and Spiderwebs

(click on for some incredible detail.)

Friday, September 04, 2009

Let Them Eat Dirt

This may offend some of my friends who are parents.


I believe that one of the (possible) reasons that the H1N1 virus is so much tougher on kids is that the cultural shift of the last generation toward what some might call "overprotection".

Those of us who grew up in the 60's and 70's were out running around all summer, biking without helmets, drinking from garden hoses, bathing infrequently (some of us, anyway) and in general...well, eating dirt (whether we realized it or not. Three-second rule, anyone?).

These days, from the outside looking in, it seems that some parents go to extreme lengths to make sure that everyone and everything around their kids is sanitized, sterilized and free of any potential harmful agents.

As with many other things in life (disappointment, failure, loss, etc.), isn't it possible that exposing a child to the real world will actually prepare said child for...well, the real world?

Or am I just crazy from eating all that dirt?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What Do You Get?

I have this stuck in my head...

I love Sondheim. I don't always love Raul Esparza's voice, but he's just kills this, from an acting standpoint.

It always reduces me to tears.

Keep going...

"Being Alive" from Company

by Stephen Sondheim

performed by Raul Esparza

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

To Read Again...and to Write

I am attempting to get back at this.

I tried to write a post to Facebook as a means of acknowledging the 4th anniversary of Katrina, only to hit a wall. It wasn't that I was overcome with inexpressible emotion. Rather, I knew that what I wanted to say had already been said a couple years ago on this blog.

So, I started the daunting task of combing through the archives, looking for the exact post.

And, not surprisingly, I wound up re-reading them.

All. Of. Them.

It did not - this time, surprisingly - reduce me to tears. Instead, it was rather cathartic and, in its own way, encouraging.

I'd forgotten I could write.

I mean, Write.

There are posts that I remember laboring over and others that I know tumbled out of me in some trance-like state...and I love them all.

I'd forgotten how much of my soul I'd laid bare for all the world to see (sort of).

I'd forgotten some of how to find the humor in despair.

I'd forgotten why I'd started blogging in the first place.

There are stories to tell and demons to exorcise. And it's time to start telling the stories...mine, others, as many as I can bear. And I am not talking about just the Katrina stories...more, the real deal in New Orleans.

So, here's where we start:

One thing that was most important for me to learn in the days, weeks, and months in the still-holding-our-breath-after-Katrina period is this...that experience distilled the people I knew to their most basic elements. It was most apparent in the people closest to me - good became better; not so good folks crapped out.

The subtler transformation was in the people more toward the periphery of my life. Some folks of whom I'd thought less well of, perhaps a bit too dismissively, spectaculary rose the occasion and became more their true selves. And others, of whom I'd had a fairly good opinion or at least always given the benefit of the doubt, showed their true colors and revealed what selfish, self-serving gits they really are.

It's been quite an education and at times a struggle. It's seldom easy to acknowledge that some people are - after all is said and done - toxic to your life and future.

Letting them go is hell.

To balance the other end of the spectrum, I am infinitely grateful for the newer friends, the deepened relationships and the life that I have now. Not all things that came out of Katrina were/are bad.

It's just that sometimes, you really have to sit down and look at it a little closer that is comfortable.

And just let go.

And breathe.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Gayest Thing, Ever...

OK, there are a lot of competitors for the winners of this post's title:

Just too many others to list.

But, this is one of my first memories of such utter, fabulous gayness that I feel I must share it with you now...

Once again, for Music Monday, we return to Queen, and the inimitable, late Freddie Mercury:
For something equally sensational and marvelous, please watch this video of Freddie performing with the magnificent Monserrat Caballe at the Barcelona Olympics. I nearly peed myself when I was watching the coverage of the games (I was 20)...later I owned this CD.

Now that I think about it, this video/song may win: (Freddie Mercury + Monserrat Caballe) x Summer Olympics Theme Song = Way Gay.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Song of Unquenchable Desire

New Orleans (and the rest of southeast Louisiana) has always tolerated life with a sense of an acceptable level of tragedy, knowing that each year, some hamlet would flood or a shrimp boat would sink or 500 more residents would be murdered or several more politicians would be indicted but seldom convicted or that someone's favorite restaurant would close or that the school board would find new ways to deny our students the education they deserve or another legendary musician would pass on to the next Big Gig.

All of those, individually and sometimes collectively, were always all bearable...and often were the very things that allowed us to see all the other extraordinarily beautiful treasures around us, even if it was the simple, earnest hello from another local as you passed them on the street. It took me far too long to get over my initial reaction to that--you would never greet someone so idly, so carelessly - especially a stranger - in my former life in New England, without first counting the cost or benefit. For the longest time, I was sure that people were "smiling in my face, but peeing in my cocktail."

I could not have been more wrong.

It is exactly that predisposition of locals (and those who eventually become locals) to engage the rest of the world, to invite y'all to nothing more than a passing pleasantry and make the day the slightest bit better for it.

It is qualities like this, and the desire to take care of each other and every single person who ever sets foot in our fair city, that reassure me that there will always be a kind of Mardi Gras every year, even though it will almost but not quite entirely seem like something I remember...and that the word "debris" will take on other layers of meaning, but will eventually once again become associated with blissfully messy, gut-churning po'boys...that I will marvel at how azure blue the sky is over all the rooftops and think how very lucky I am that the city picked me to live there.

To be sure, for now there is great disquiet in New Orleans, but there is also great it really any coincidence that the word "Desire" can mean so many different things to so many people on one day, and the all the same thing the next?

One day, the desire will give over to pride - that we did it ourselves. We were here, putting it all back together, rebuilding homes and lives, making new ways, shoring up old ones, making festivals happen, loving our friends...and living.

Truly living.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

One on the List

I've sung many funerals and memorial services. Families choose the music, mostly...and for the most part, it's favorite hymns and the like.

A good friend of mine is a glorious soprano with whom I've sung for nearly 18 years. She wants a particular Vivaldi choral work at her funeral...there are only parts for tenors, basses and altos...with the soprano line symbolically silent.

On the rare occasion, we've been able to front a small choir for services for close friends. Those are tough to sing.

For many years, I've known what music I want at my service. It has changed little over the years.

And while there will be some live music, there will have to be a couple recordings. I cannot ask my friends or anyone involved in making the service happen arrange for what I want as the finale.

This is not the best video, but you'll get the gist. I have the clean audio copy that I want played, as conducted by The Maestro himself.

It still gives me chills...and it's truly the sentiment I want people to leave my funeral with, on their way to the fabulous party that going to go on afterward. Make Our Garden Grow, the finale from Bernstein's Candide.

So, here's June Anderson and the late Jerry Hadley...and Leonard Bernstein.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Promise of Living

I went to DCI Championships this past weekend.


The corps that did the most phenomenal, artistically powerful and subtle show did not win, but placed 2nd. They opened with a stunning arrangement of Aaron Copeland's The Promise of Living from The Tenderland.

When a video of their performance worth posting is available, I will put it up. Until then, here's is a lovely setting of The Promise of Living.

I was in tears after just their opener...and the show continued to get more spectacular. Kids, you are just amazaing and should be so proud of your performance this year.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Soles United - Time to Walk Again!

We're at it again.

Soles United
has started up - that's the name of our NO/AIDS Walk team, a group of friends and co-workers from around the New Orleans area who've walked together since 2006. We've done well in our efforts, landing in the top 5 teams for the last couple years. Not bad for 6 or 7 of us.

The NO/AIDS Walk helps raise funds for the NO/AIDS Task Force - and 2009 is the 20th Anniversary of the NO/AIDS Walk! The event helps support the programs and services of NO/AIDS Task Force, the oldest AIDS service organization in the Gulf South. NO/AIDS has been serving the greater New Orleans area for 25 years. In addition, through the Walk Share grant program, donations also benefit other agencies across Louisiana.

In honor of this 20th Anniversary, I've created a set of 20 of my favorite photos that I've posted for sale. All proceeds from the sale of these photos will go directly to our Walk Team, Soles United.

So, stop on by my SmugMug site, Ambassador Images and check out the pics - if you see something you like, know that your purchase will go directly to helping the NO/AIDS Task Force. (Also, the copyright watermark only appears online and won't be on any photos you order.)

Nine weeks from today, we'll be taking to the streets again - if you'd like to sponsor me directly, you can visit my page at the 2009 Walk site. Even better than that, you can start your own team and join us on Sunday, September 20 - hope to see you out there!

Thank you for being part of this event!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Heart on my Sleeve

I am an emotional person.

It's not always a bad thing. It's not always a good thing either.

I've written here about favorite songs of mine, about signature songs...ones I love to sing and speak most deeply to me.

I remember the first time I ever heard Bernadette Peters sing this song...I thought it was so powerful, so wrenching.

I watch this video and it chills me...of course, she's a great actress, but there are some things you cannot act. I recognize the temerity that goes hand in hand with the need to let something out. Some feeling are too big, too awful to let out and show the world...and yet, too big and too awful to keep in.

When her eyes dart about and she seems unsure whether she can or should go on, a little of me aches for her. I know this place. It is one of the most important places I have ever had the privilege of reaching.

Oh, how it aches. And I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world.

I really wish more people could express themselves as beautifully as the sublime Bernadette Peters.

What makes you cry out like this?

Friday, July 03, 2009

South Carolina Time Warps

There are occasions when time seems to slow to a crawl.

Recently, in Charleston, time broadened and deepened to all SMID and I the opportunity just to be.

It felt as though the universe was allowing us all the time in the world to go here, see that, take thousand photographs (literally) and still have the luxury of sitting in a swank lounge, sipping Mint Juleps.

There were very few things on our must-do list that we didn't get to, plus many others we weren't planning on. At times, when we needed something - like the right place to have a bite to eat when we had planned that exactingly - it simply appeared. Like the fabulous rooftop bar at the Market Pavillion Hotel on our first night in town.

We spent what seemed like half a day in the Unitarian Universalist Cemetery...only to walk out and discover, much like leaving Narnia, that no time had passed at all. Seemingly.

Sadly, now that we are back in the real world, time has sped back up - and in some ways, it seems to be going even fast than before SC, in the sole attempt to make up for those blessed few days.

Please, let's do the Time Warp again.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Return of...The Pollinators!!

These are the results of my first trip to the Audubon Insectarium today - a nice facility...and well worth the trip, just for the butterfly exhibit.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

But I don't want to buy the whole album...

I love iTunes.

I hate iTunes.

There. I've said it.

There are songs that I love that I don't have anywhere on any other form of media - and so, I've turned to iTunes for help.


Why are the really good - albeit sometimes more obscure - songs NOT ON iTUNES?!?!?!

OK, I feel better.

That being said, there are some wonderful tunes that I remember fondly from my first few years here in New Orleans. From Sunday Tea Dance out at Lafitte's and the Bourbon Pub.

Ah, my long lost 20's.

So, from this blissful period...Justified & Ancient (MuMuLand), by The KLF featuring Tammy Wynette. I found numerous versions available on iTunes...but if you want this one, you have to purchase one of Tammy's entire albums...Not so much.

So, enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

There are way to many tunes on my iTunes. I keep going through my stash of CDs and loading more and more things that I haven't heard in years. I've had to create multiple play lists for different frames of mind - and while I am not out running like SMID, each list serves its purpose.

Getting ready for the Symphony? Various big boisterous classical works.

Busy, must-focus work day? A list of almost all Sondheim that I know so well it's almost like white noise.

Bopping around the Quarter and Marigny, stalking things to photograph? Pure guilty pleasures -upbeat, catchy and wickedly infectious.

The movie Flash Gordon was so deliciously cheesy - but the music by Queen really made it so iconic of that time.

Just give in.


And sing along - you know you want to...

Monday, May 04, 2009


Too much Jazz Fest is too much of a good thing.

For the 3rd year, I spent some quality time out at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, volunteering at one of the beer booths. The Beau and I are a shameless, huckstering team as we draw people in with our barkering and general showmanship. Other teams ask not to be stationed next to us.

Way fun.

Usually, we only do the Fridays of each weekend, but this year - like last - at 6PM on Friday, Debbie - volunteer wrangler extraordinaire - mentioned that they were seriously shorthanded for Sunday and would we be willing to pitch in...

How could we say no? Free admission to the Fest - our own cooler, port-a-let and tents? Pretty sweet deal.


For the first time all this Fest, it rained. Not hard, just enough to make it messy and really steamy. We had a ball none the less.

Leaving the Fest grounds, we headed for the bike parking lot - Beau said it looked like something out of Amsterdam. We unlocked our bikes and wheeled them out of the lot, only to discover my back tire was flat.

Not just out of air, but flat. Pumped it up at a service station nearby and it lasted 5 blocks.

So we walked the rest of the way home. Only a mile and a half, but after a long day and weekend working at the Fest, it was a bummer.

This morning, I could have waited for The Beau to give me a lift to work, but I thought I'd walk (again, another mile and a half in a different direction). I did have to pick up a few things on my way in and just needed to work some of the kinks out.

I don't spend a lot of time plugged into my iPod, but this morning it was a nice accompaniment to my walk, keeping me at a relatively mellow pace.

Too mellow it seems. By the time I walked out of Walgreen's, it was much later than I thought. And when I turned my iPod back on, it was on some Shirley Bassey ballad that wasn't helping the effort.

So, I toggled through until I came to a song that I knew would get me there in time. This is a remake of the classic Diana Ross hit "Chain Reaction" - performed by the British pop group Steps - and I didn't know this until recently, but Chain Reaction was written by the Brothers Gibb (BeeGees...).

So, I hope this perks up your step too - it made the last 6 blocks fly by! Thankfully, I was almost to the office - the next song was Chains of Love, and if I'd had much further to go, I'd be dead for the rest of the day...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Birthday Banksy

So, it's been a joy to see the scattered works of Banksy around New Orleans - I haven't had the pleasure of seeing all of them, since a few were painted over or on building that have since been torn down.

One (#6 in the link below), on the former Teen Drop-In center, is protected by a heavy acrylic cover. So far, no one's messed with it.

I really want to find the one of the child chasing the umbrella. (17th in the line up here.) That one speaks to me.

So, it was fabulous to spot one this weekend (and even if it's an imitation Banksy, it pleases me) in the heart of the French Quarter. So, with no other gifts in hand, I send this to the birthday girl on vacation:

Your very own Birthday Banksy -

Happy Birthday, you-know-who!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Utter Bravery

Donnie was not a close personal friend, but I feel this loss deeply. He is an icon of a time that this generation of young gay people don't know or understand.

It is on the shoulders of Donnie Jay and many men and women like him that we stand now, able to look the world straight in the eye - so to speak - and demand to be treated like equals. There are things that Donnie had seen in his lifetime that I cannot begin to comprehend.

Always the consummate entertainer, Donnie did some of the most hilarious (and at times, hilariously inappropriate and dreadful!) drag - even after losing half his foot due to diabetes. I heard him once quip that he was headed out on the town to "kick up his heel"...

And he just didn't care what the world thought - he is the personification of Stephen Sondheim's stunning "I'm Still Here" from Follies, but that's not the song I associated with his passing last week.

There are many definitions of bravery, and exponentially more quotes about it too...I found this one via Google, and didn't know the author's names so I googled that too. There's something deliciously fitting, and somewhat campy in the way that would tickle Donnie Jay - it's from Meg Cabot, author of the Princess Diaries.

“Courage is not the absence of fear but the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all. For now you are traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be."
Meg Cabot

Donnie Jay knew who he was - and lived and lived and lived. And the world is a little dimmer without his light. And here's what I have had playing in my head since hearing of his passing: George Hearn, and no other, singing "I Am What I Am" from La Cage Aux Folles.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Latte Love

I adore Kristin Chenoweth.

So, it was a real delight that one of the colorguards selected her rendition of "Taylor, the Latte Boy" for their 2009 competition season. The eight high schoolers - only one boy - had a ball with this number.

The floor was set with a Starbuck's counter and a cafe table and chairs - Joey, who portrayed Taylor, even had the requisite green apron and attitude. (If you've never seen Winterguard competitions, they incorporate costumes, sets, rifles, sabres and flags (as well as other appropriate props. All the flags for this show had different sweetener logos emblazoned across them: Splenda, Equal, etc.)

It was a great show - perfect for this small group of student, who performed the heck out of it. I had not heard this song before seeing their show - and it's as adorable as Kristin.

So here's Taylor, the Latte Boy - hope it gets your day going. Oh, and if you'd like to see the kids in action, here's a link to a rather poor quality video of their performance a week before State Championships - where they in fact won their division easily.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunsets are Wonderful

"Sunsets are wonderful,
when you're feeling sad."

I am working late on a number of projects, and have the TV on in the background, mostly for company. The Beau is back in DC for work-related training and it's too quiet here.

I was flipping though the channels trying to avoid every CSI repeat and such when I stumbled on a broadcast of one of PBS' Great Performances: The Little Prince. This is the operatic setting by the lovely Rachel Portman who has composed for dozens of films, including the scores for Ciderhouse Rules, Chocolat and Emma, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Score - first woman ever to receive that honor.

This is one of my all-time favorite stories. Ms. Portman did justice to the heart of the story - and the cast is phenomenal. This production introduced me a couple years ago to one of the handsomest, hunkiest baritones in the contemporary opera world - Kiwi Teddy Tahu Rhodes. Not only does he have this rich, earnest voice - and conveys the character of the pilot beautifully - he is really easy on the eyes. *Sigh*

After the events of the last 2 weeks, I found myself bawling at the end of the whole production this evening. So, here is a scene from Act I of The Little Prince, featuring Mr. Rhodes and Joseph McManners - the best of the lot that I could find on youtube. I hope you enjoy this - it made me smile.

I watched the sun set tonight. It was wonderful.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Out of Pocket


I'd like to say it's been one of those days, but it's been one of those weeks and months already.

I haven't blogged much since before Mardi Gras, and wanted to just let y'all know that I am still here. This week has been especially rough - I have not one, but two funerals to attend tomorrow.

One is for the mother of The Beau's best friend of 20 years...the second, which I have to sing at, is for the wife of a fellow church choir member.

Both victims of cancer.

And yesterday, my 23 year old Admin Assistant had 4 biopsy samples taken - hoping against hope that she doesn't have cervical cancer.

I am trying desparately not to lose my crap - The Beau is out of town at a corporate training is in even worse shape for not being able to be there for his friend. Thankfully, he comes in on the red-eye tonight...

Send spare hugs. We need them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

February GreeblePix

Hello, All -

Here is my entry for this month's
GreeblePix contest over at GreebleMonkey,
home of the lovely and talented Aimee!

Butterfly Bush

Happy almost Mardi Gras!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Moments of Grace

I am not the best gay.

I mean, I am good at it, but I don't keep up with all the latest music and trends. Politically and Medically, I am pretty on top of things, but...

Last night, I met my friend J & C out for a drink - and a video came on of a song that I'd never heard before.

Actually, I wasn't paying much attention to the song, but one person in the video caught my eye - Bianco del Rio, a drag queen with whom I worked on the musical Pageant here in New Orleans. Bianca was still Roy back then, a brilliant costume and wig designer who also played one of the funniest characters in the production - he was "Last Year's Winner", who like a former Miss Universe had had a very "full" year of reigning - and had more curves than should be legal in public.

Anyway, I watched the video to see if Bianca would reappear - and I got completely drawn into it. The song is "Breathe Love" by Brian Kent - and as he walks down a street singing this song, he passes people - people having bad days and bad moments and just days.

And it's not magic. He's breathing love. And everyone he walks past looks as though they are waking from a bad dream. And into moments of grace.

I kept thinking about this for the rest of the evening and all this morning.

Some days, I am Brian. Some days, I am those other people. I am so grateful for the people who do Breathe Love into my life - and I love that I get to give that back on the days that I can Breathe Love.

I hope you like this. It's a great dance tune - not the deepest lyrics, but simple, straightforward and beautiful. And there's something beautifully haunting about Brian too.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Singular Saturday - Valentine's Day Edition 2009


OK, so now that I have your attention,
it's time to groove out to
Blue Man Group and Venus Hum
with their rendition of "I Feel Love"!"

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

How I spend my Saturdays...

From mid-January through late March, I spend most of my Saturdays on the road, traveling to LCGPC competitions.


That's the Louisiana Color Guard and Percussion Circuit, the organization that puts on the winterguard and drumline shows here. Just so happens that the Beau is the Executive Director for the Circuit...and I am their photographer.

Winterguard is indoor color guard - flags, rifles, sabers. Flashy costumes, great music, overly stylized movement and dance. How gay is that? (OK, so not quite as gay as rhythmic gymnastics, but close. At least this has weapons.)

So, indoors. School gymnasiums, mostly. No flash. Swiftly hurling bodies, some not so celestial.

Can you see the inherent challenge to a photographer? I like a challenge, but this?

So, I have my new camera and the new zoom lens that Himself gave me for Christmas. And patience...lots of patience in post-production.

Two weeks into competition and here are a bunch of my favorites:

Oh, and I've posted the best of each guard to my smugmug site for the kids to see (and for their grown-ups to order if they so choose). Does it make me a professional if 3 people (4 now!) have ordered prints of photos now? This is all so new to me...

And wicked cool...

Sunday, February 01, 2009


I love movies. I love music. And I especially love it when a director (and all the other parties involved) get it right in a movie, by combining the right music with the right scene and - wow!

Reaching into the Way-Back File, in 1990 (when I stilled had hair on the top of my head), I was asked out to the movies by this hot German au pair. Of course I said yes...did I mention he was hot?

So, he asked if I'd like to see Henry V starring Kenneth Branagh. I am certain I probably said something smooth and classy like, "uh-huh" as I starred into his dreamy blue eyes. So, off we went.

During the time we spent chatting before the movie started, I learned that he had aspirations to be a model, or model-actor...and had no other outside interests, abilities or talents. He had cultivated nothing but his looks. And, what he liked best about me was how handsome I thought he was...blech.

Thankfully, about that time the movie started - distracting me from how suddenly un-smitten I now was. Derek Jacobi took over and for the next 137 minutes, I was transported. I had my first introduction to Emma Thompson in this movie - sigh.

Then. Then came the Battle at Agincourt...

I remember sensing that something was coming. Something special. I just didn't know what.

Then. Then he spoke those words and one lone man starts singing the "Non nobis".

Within seconds, I was in tears - each chorus, each increasingly wider camera shot, each step across the battlefield. After walking across the field, carrying one of his fallen breatheren, Henry bends down to kiss him.

Years later, I cannot watch this scene without bawling - I don't see how anyone can me unmoved by this. (And yet the au pair was. Never saw him again after that.)

So, here is that scene. What movie/music combinations move you?

Half Well

My body reminds me that I am still only half well.

To bring you up to speed: I spent a week in the hospital in November with pneumonia. This is not my first bout, and once you've had it, you are much more susceptible to getting it again.

I am recovering very nicely, thank you for asking.


I am not entirely well. Yet.

I am biking to work, photographing everything I possibly can, and once again juggling too many things at work and home.

Isn't that how I got in this situation?

Do you have anyone in your life who suffers from that super-person mentality? My progression went something like this: It's just a cold - it's just allergies - I can work through this - I'll shake this off with a weekend of good rest - I'll be in late today - honey, why can't I breathe?

OK. So, I listen. I listen to my body.

Biking on a cold (New Orleans cold, folks - I am silly, not insane) with limited lung capacity? Keep the Albuterol inhaler handy.

I am eating well, on a very regular schedule - I take all my meds, at the appointed time and never miss a dose. My labs are back where they should be in all categories.

And still my body reminds me that I am not quite there. Yet.

You see, my toenail is...well, odd.

One of the side effects of pneumonia and the inability to take in sufficient oxygen for all funtions in not just increased ditziness (I get that just by standing up too quickly!), but it deprives the extremities of the essentials.

My left big toenail is half-healthy...and half dirty-looking. You see, in November, when I couldn't breathe well and wasn't taking in enough oxygen, the body made the necessary choices of where to send the limited reserves.

This toenail was on the bottom of the list, so to speak.

So, it became discolored - gray-ish, but not dead-looking. Just un-well.

Now, weeks later, the toenail has half grown out - so it is half well and half not-so-well.

And it reminds me every day that I am on my way, but not quite there.


I am so ready to be all well.

How are you doing?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Singular Saturday (and my 100th post!!)

Tu - Tu

Two - two?

[SMID knows where this is...she has a fabulous purse or two from here. Oh, and before the Velvet Mafia knocks on my door, threatening to rip a corner off my Gay Card - I do know those are NOT tutus. They are crinolines. Come on, people...what kind of philistine do you take me for?]

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bar Fights and SDAs

About 12 years ago, one summer Sunday evening, I was hanging out at Lafitte's in the French Quarter. This is not the Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop that many tourists are familiar with - but rather Cafe Lafitte in Exile, the oldest gay bar (they claim) in the US of A.

Sunday afternoons and evenings at Laffite's are all about Trash Disco. Now, this doesn't mean exclusively 70's disco music, but just about anything fabulously dance-able: there is a club remix of Petula Clark singing Downtown, Tammy Wynette fronting for KLF in Justified and Ancient, and the sensational remake/remix of John Paul Young's Love is in the Air, as featured in the marvelous movie Strictly Ballroom. The last one there even has audience participation of which Al Gore would disapprove. (At the big crescendo of the title, paper napkins are thrown into the air. Quite an effect in a crowded bar...)

So, this one Sunday, I was watching the videos and chatting with friends and being adorable not-40 yet...and an intro started. A very recognizable intro...Whitney Houston. I Wanna Dance with Somebody...

Well, there was a cute young man, standing in front of me, who just about wet himself when he realized what song it was. In fact, he was so excited he had an SDA.

SDA, you ask...what's that?

Spontaneous Drag Attack.

Very entertaining, if viewed from the correct distance.

I was right behind him...and he was about to perform. I didn't know that at the time, but I should have recognizd the signs.

So, when the music got to that first punctuated "Woo" that Ms. Houston does in the intro, the young man in front of me threw his arms up and out...making contact with my face.

My right eye, actually.

Thankfully, I have vodka in my system to help numb the pain and we laughed it off. It really didn't hurt all that much at the time...

The next morning, however...

I got up, made coffee, stumbled around the apartment...and nearly screamed when I looked in the bathroom mirror.

A lovely shiner, right where he'd hit me during his SDA.

Now, try explaining that to your co-workers. Somehow, they didn't believe the line, "Well, you should see the other guy..."

So, for all of you who need your own SDA today, here's Whitney.

Just be sure to check out who's around you before you start flailing your arms, OK? (The "Woo" in question here occurs around 38 seconds.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Separated At Birth? or Man in Drag?

OK, I cannot imagine why on earth any media outlet gives this vapid, duplicitous woman any airtime. Really, her opinion on just about everything should be largely disregarded.

Must have been nice to nearly destroy HP and still walk away with a 42 million dollar golden parachute. Can you tell I despise Carly Fiorina?

And, to clarify the title of this post: Is it just me (and The Beau, who first pointed this out and now I can't picture anything else) or does Carly Fiorina look like she could be VERY related to Martin Short? Like siblings, raised in different homes. How Parent Trap...

OR...could the personage of Ms. Fiorina be little more than another of Mr. Short's alter-eogs: like the incredibly offensive Jimminy Glick, or hearkening back a generation, Ed Grimley?

Either way, she gives me the creeps.

And I thought the McCain campaign had done a good enough job of throwing her under the bus...but apparently not.

Like Cher and the cockroaches post-apocolypse, she just keeps showing up.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hypothetical Parenting

The following is just a random bunch of stuff with the merest of similarities: parenting.


As a teen, I spent a great deal of my free time babysitting, and many parents (and friends of our family) commented with sometimes annoying regularity what a great dad I would be some day.


When I first started coming out to my friends in my late teens and early 20's, I was on the short end of comment like, "Oh, what a waste..." and "Gee, won't you miss having kids?" and so on...


Over the last 10 years or so, during any of my more "substantive" relationships, people have been very forward in asking if we plan to adopt (or opt for any of the less passive modes of obtaining a child - no, not kidnapping...). The subject even came up on my first date with The Beau (it'll be 4 years this May, but who's counting?). We are both firm in our conviction: we love and adore the kids in our lives - nephews, neices, children of friends and neighbors - and enjoy their relatively short doses. We know our limits.


We have developed a shorthand to signal when one of us (usually the Beau) is reaching a point where they can take little more. It started one day in the presence of a very tired child, acting like a very tired child who was not have the best day with a parent who was similarly not having the best day. It was not pretty, for anyone. The kind of day where we'd all like to request a do-over.

The Beau turned to me and said, "Tell that story again about how you don't want to have children..."

It has since been reduced to just, "Tell me that story..."


Last Saturday, on the flight to Orlando for a company meeting, I met quite a number of parents and kids - some on their way to the Mouse, and others on the first leg of a trip to Washington, DC for the Inauguration. Quite a combination of similar, yet still disparate types of energy.

Most of the kids were wonderful during the flight - it could have been much worse. I overheard one dad talking to a mom he was sitting across the aisle from, extolling the rewards and virtues of being a parent. "There's nothing better in the whole world." He kept saying this, over and over.


For him. Nothing better for him. I'd be willing to bet that some of the parents that might happen to read what I've posted so far have been mildly offended or put off at least by my tone and phraseology.

I am OK with that. Please understand that I love kids, I loved teaching and think it's great that the world is making more Gays without me ever having to lift a finger.


There are other things in the world. Other things that are better for Other people in the world. People who don't have any interest or drive or desire to be parents.

Sometimes, we come up on an odd, reverse side of that. Certain groups tell us that we can't be parents because it's wrong/immoral/illegal/inappropriate/fill in the blank. Other people tell us that we just don't know what we are missing, not being parents, and that we'll never really be fulfilled as humans without that knowledge and experience.

Makes me bristle.

What happened to Live and Let Live? I love your kids. I think your commitment to raising your kids is stunning and wonderful and breathtaking and I know it's something I could not and would not do in my lifetime. Why can't that be OK too?


Last weekend, a waitress who lived and worked in the French Quarter was murdered outside her apartment as she was coming home from work. There were a few witnesses who were able to supply the police with descriptions and assist in creating sketches that were distributed throughout the city.

By noon yesterday, all three of the suspects involved in this robbery-gone-bad were in custody after turning themselves in to the authorities.

Two 15 year olds and one 14 year old. Who prompted them to turn themselves in?

Their mothers.

These mothers saw the sketches, recognized them immediately and urged their kids, their children to surrender to the police, peacefully. And they did.


Could you do that? Could you go to your child and ask them, plead with them to hand their lives over to the police, knowing that what comes next is the unknowable?

It's only hypothetical for me, who will never have kids of my own - so it's easy for me to say, "Hell, yes."


What about you, moms and dads? What about you? Could you do that?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I Don't Know Why...

But I am infinitely fascinated by
the buds of Angel Trumpets.

When I first looked at this one,
I thought is was so bat-like.

I love my new camera.

Just thought you should know.

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Full Moon Last Saturday

The Beau got me a sweet zoom lens for Christmas.

I hustled myself up to the Mississippi River
for moonrise on Saturday. What a payoff!!

The Beau did REALLY well this Christmas!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Quit Buggin' Me...

Playing with my new camera and macro lens.

You can see the grains of pollen. Makes me want to sneeze.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Once Upon A Time

A can't-lose proposition in 1962 Broadway terms: a musical, with music and lyrics by the team of Adams/Strouse - they'd already given the world Bye-Bye, Birdie and would later create Annie - and book by Mel Brooks and starring Ray Bolger. Title: All American

It was a disaster, running for only 80 performances. (Sondheim broke that record, with Anyone Can Whistle lasting only 9 performances. Carrie, the Musical is my all-time flop champion, closing after 5 shows...although it really should have closed at intermission of its first performance...but I digress...)

Surviving All American are a couple lovely tunes, including one that has unexpectedly become, ahem, my signature song. It's a sad, wistful song of longing and regret - lost love and missed chances for romance and such. This song is "Once Upon A Time".

I first heard this song on Mandy Patinkin's eponymous album, sung tenderly and without pretense. (Shocking for Mandy...) Again, I degress...

I liked the song. It stayed with me. The tune is very straight-forward and textbook in form (AABA). It stayed with me because it is lovely. Then I discovered that the most wonderful piano player in my life - Tom at Good Friends - knew the tune...and we started doing this song most Sundays at their sing-a-long.

Move forward a couple years, and it had become part of our standard repertoire. A handsome man with whom I was smitten commented on how me adored the song, but found the lyrics to be too painful for the loveliness of the tune.

I like a challenge.

So, to please this handsome man, with whom I had not a snowball's chance in Hell, I went home that night and wrote a new set of lyrics.

More reassuring, winsome and hopeful. I like them quite a bit. They are all I sing now. People who know the song from its origins will ask me where this alternate set of lyrics came from and I usually lie and say some recording somewhere.

I wrote them.

Now, I had been thinking about this for a while and thought it would be great to post to Music Monday as spearheaded by the lovely Soccer Mom in Denial. I went in search of a video to post for all to hear - and found my way to Bobby Darrin's heart-wrenching rendition.

Knowing a little bit about his life and troubled love for Sandra Dee, it makes the performance even more moving. Here is that video:

The handsome man liked the new lyrics, but I never had the heart to tell him that I wrote them for him.

No. That's not quite accurate.

He wasn't worth telling. Sure, I wrote them with him in mind. But these were for me.

So, here's my version. Sorry, no recording. You'll have to make a trip to New Orleans and stay over some Sunday - make sure that your flight is not too early on Monday morning. That won't be pretty after the time we have the evening before. And you will have heard this:

Once upon a time,
It seemed the world was turning grey.
Love was what I hoped for,
But never what would be.
And yet my once upon a times
Always set me free

Once upon a time,
A man with stardust in his eyes
Showed there is hope
And also sweet romance...
And now my once upon a time
Is my second chance.

Can this be?
Does it all seem real?
Aren't we always taught
That we should guard the way we feel?
Yet someday soon, I hope I can reveal...
My heart is yours.
Now upon this time,
The world is sweeter than we dreamed.
Everything we have
Is better than before.
And now my once upon a time...
Is my forever more.

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