Friday, August 29, 2003
It was a really solid production of a great piece of material and a joy to watch. I knew the work of the designers so the visual strength and inventiveness came as no surprise. The production had originated at the Cincinnati Playhouse and was uncommonly well and consistently cast. A huge number of people who love American musicals absolutely loathe Sondheim, who writes intelligent, challenging and literate musical plays. As a colleague at MIT says, "When most Americans think about musicals, the first thing they want to know is 'Where are the girls in the feathers?' and she is spot on.
Anyway, one nice thing is that while I could admire what my designer colleagues had done last night, I could look back on my own production with a real feeling of having honored the material and that felt pretty good.
Today we had our monthly gay lunch with only five guys which made it nice and informal. We usually get between eight and fifteen but for the beginning of a holiday weekend, five was just fine. Tomorrow I head up for my partner's place for the annual Work and Play Weekend. There is a lot of work to be done, especially getting a location ready for an eight
man hot tub that is on order. Evenings are given over to movies, dancing, good food, games and some xxx activity. Interestingly, he phoned me this afternoon with the names of the guys who are expected to arrive tomorrow and suggested an evening of mixed doubles on his queen sized bed. This could be fun. Happy weekend, everyone!
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
I try not to use cliches, but it really IS like a great wave crashing over me. Just to be enclosed in his strong embrace is theraputic--a healing touch and a transforming, protective, liberating power. He remains as he has been throughout his life: a creative, vital presence in the lives of the many people he touches via his teaching and sponsorship of gay events and programs. Built like an oak tree, he makes love with the passion, skill and delight of a 30 year old. I don't care if I gush, he is an extraordinary and treasureable man.
Now, do I desire other men? YES--I'm a gay man and my life is filled with wonderful, desirable men. He's told me many times that "sex happens," meaning that he knows some infidelities are possible, maybe inevitable, during any long term relationship. We have both had make-out sessions with some of the guys who gather at his property for the sweat lodge & dinner nights, the Labor Day weekend and New Year's house parties. But we have never taken things further than that. I have learned to deal with my desires. Maybe some day we'll do a threesome. I loved those before I met him and I know that lovers can actually become closer when they share the body and affection of another man. One thing I know for certain is that I will be with him through to the very end, whichever of us goes first. I won't let anything ever come between us.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
I cannot imagine ever living without a cat and have at times had as many as three in the house.
Her name is Starr. I would never have chosen this but she came with it from the animal shelter, knew it and answered to it, so I decided to keep it. For a brief, loony moment I thought of translating it to Stella so I could call her by yelling "Stella!" up the stairs like Stanley Kowalsky in STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, but I dropped the idea very fast.
I do pride myself for having SOME subtlety. Starr suggests two people: Ken, the sleazy lawyer who was involved with
the Whitewater scandal surrounding the Clintons (no good, male and insufferable); and Brenda, the cartoon heroine
who became the subject of a forgettable movie. Actually, Starr is a homebody, a gentle soul but a great hunter (two
bats caught and killed in the house in the last two months--Boston is suffering an invasion of bats this summer infesting
neighborhood houses). I wake up every morning with her pressed into my left thigh, waiting to have her tummy stroked and VERY anxious to start the process of opening cans to feed her.
Monday, August 25, 2003
She and I have co-directed and operated a summer study/travel tour to Europe for gifted high school Juniors and Seniors for over a dozen years. The last couple years, however, international conditions have not been conducive to parents putting their kids on planes to parts not unknown but known to be in the line of fire. The Balkan War scrubbed our Greek trips; and 9/11 and continuing unrest in the Mediterranean have done in our Italian and Spanish trips.
What we do is establish a center in whatever country we want to use as subject for the study. Talloires in the French Alps, the island of Spetses in Greece, a former monastery converted to a school in Rome, and a branch of the University of Granada in Spain have been centers for programs on Empires established in Europe, the Medieval Period in France, the Muslim Period in Spain, etc. There are two weeks of intensive study followed by a week travelling to historical sites and a couple of days at a resort at the end for play time. Some of our kids' lives have literally been changed by these summers. They take away with them a University of Chicago credit, letters of recommendation for use in college admission and, in some cases, friendships that have lasted a decade or more.
She served lobster salad for lunch and I had brought champagne as a hostess gift. We toasted past accomplishments and wished for better conditions in future. Late in the afternoon, we left for my partner's place via dinner at a good fish restaurant in Portsmouth, NH. Then to bed, to each other's arms and to lovely wake-up sex this morning
Saturday, August 23, 2003
I am a chronic cruiser. Today was a very good day for long walks down the beach to ogle the mature man. Lots of them were in attendance, and almost across the board they were in really good shape, admirably equipped and open to conversation during "casual" stops at their beach camps.
OK, I'm slime. I developed a technique some years ago of carrying a small sketch book with me sometimes so that if I get caught heavily cruising a guy who takes it badly I can explain that I am an artist and designer (true enough) and was studying bone structure for when I do portraiture (a stretch, but they usually fall for it).
There was also a very interesting menage about three camps over from me, two really hot guys in their late 30s and a lovely, much younger (early 20s) guy. You could plot an entire novel with everything that could be fantasized out of that!
Friday, August 22, 2003
David was in superb voice, singing mood pieces including some very soulful material rather than his more famous baroque heroic coloratura repertory. Long lines, rich, rounded tone and excellent diction combined with unaffected, direct communication. No wonder he is THE countertenor these days in the US with a very healthy career in Europe as well. The accompaniment was not on a piano--one of my least favorite instruments, actually--but on a classical guitar by the Australian Craig Ogden. The rich colors and intimacy of the guitar were perfect for the mood David was working to maintain. By the way, David has lost some weight, gotten a buzz cut, ditched the perennial four day stubble and he looks great.
The weather remains hot with saturated, stagnant air. But I am getting to escape with friends tomorrow to the clothing-optional beach on the west end of Martha's Vinyard at Gay Head (honestly, I'm not making that up) which the local Wampanoag Tribe is trying to get everyone to call Aquinna. The beach is at the foot of multicolored clay cliffs topped by an historic lighthouse and attracts everybody--straights, gays, lesbians, families, groups of young professionals vacationing on the Vinyard. Swimming is good and the vistas out over Buzzards Bay and the other islands are stunning. I love nude beaches. They cater to the exhibitionist in me putting my tattoos fully on display. Afterall, why have them if people can't see them?
Thursday, August 21, 2003
This afternoon, four of us are heading to Tanglewood in western Massachusetts for a recital by David Daniels, probably the most famous and accomplished of the astonishing race of American countertenors. A second new male voice category is developing for the baroque music scene as well, the male soprano. I am told the difference is that countertenors have low speaking voices and are really mostly baritones who have been able to develop their falsetto into a wide-ranging and viable main singing voice. Male sopranos, on the other hand, have very high speaking voices and the high range is their real singing voice. I heard one of each in the same opera out at Glimmerglass and there really is a difference in the tone, although both were excellent artists and sang their music flawlessly. I am delighted to be living in an era when the great works of Handel, Mozart and others can be sung by real men rather than mezzo sopranos in pants.
David's recital tonight is not opera but songs by operatic composers, folk material and some pop. He is a delightful guy--I had the pleasure of meeting him in Fort Lauderdale after a performance there and again at Glimmerglass. He is gay, in a long term relationship with a pianist/choral director and emblematic of the newer generation of opera singers in this country-- probably everywhere, actually. Gay men in the opera world have been coming out in droves in the last decade, confirming what most of us have known seemingly forever. Backstage at most opera houses looks like a gay club these days. Recently, a trend among female singers to come out and acknowledge their partners in or out of the profession has been picking up steam. All sorts of studies, informal to somewhat scientific, have been done to find out why so many gays gravitate to opera and "classical" music in general--far above the percentage of (known) gay men and lesbians in the general population. The cliche is that we all gravitate to the arts, the chic and fashionable, involves diva-worshop, etc.
In my case it was somewhat more complex. I started being hooked on opera around age seven over the radio (there was vastly more opera and symphonic music on the radio in the 50s through 70s than there is now). For me it was the largeness of the art form and its emotional whallop that got to me. Things were far from great at home and opera for me was the equivalent of "Everything is beautiful at the ballet" in A CHORUS LINE. Later my love of history kicked in and I could readily see how all the performing arts related to the culture, politics and social structure of various countries. To this day I do not teach theater history without relating it to events and historical movements that surround it.
Anyway, countertenors have become the gay icons of the moment in opera and, indeed, the vast majority of countertenors I have had the pleasure to meet have been gay, virtually all of them out. So tonight we'll be four gay men--a good friend, a member of our Council for the Arts at M.I.T. and his partner, and I--at a recital by a gay man in an audience that will probably be at least half gay. This is the new reality in the performing arts
Monday, August 18, 2003
Of course, it isn't opera all the time out there. I usually drive around the beautiful New York State countryside on any back road I can find, stopping at yard sales, checking out antique barns and visiting caves, historic sites, etc.
This year I discovered the Belgian-style brewery Ommegang just southeast of Cooperstown. Who knew that Belgian beer is brewed in a process analogous to champagne? True--besides using a variety of different flavorings and spices as part of the brewing process, all Belgian beer is given a second fermentation just like champagne and benefits from storing in moderately cool temperatures for a year or two. In any event, the stuff tastes just great and one of their beers (we got to taste four)called Hennepin really comes over as a cross between a good beer and a good white wine.
The bottles (the size of a standard 750ml wine bottle) have to be extra thick to withstand the pressure of the secondary fermentation. They had a special that if you bought a case you got an extra bottle and also a heavy, footed brand crest beer glass. I bought two mixed cases--one to break up and give for Christmas gifts and the other for me.
Otherwise, not much. I have to read play scripts tonight. Then maybe a nice Kristen Bjorn video and bed. :-)
Thursday, August 14, 2003
Wow! Incredible transformation. One of the more innovative things is that the audio tour devices are not only complimentary but when an item catches your eye, you can enter its code number which is recorded on a chip. Before leaving the museum, you download the item numbers onto a file you set up with your email address and you can access them any time via your "account" at the museum's website. I haven't encountered such a service at any other museum but for a designer like me it is a fantastic tool. I can walk out of the museum with all my research waiting for me at home.
I leave tomorrow morning for three days at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival in Cooperstown, NY (yes, Virginia there IS something at Cooperstown besides the Baseball Hall of Fame!).
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
New England has a great many smaller or "regional" museums that actually have terrific collections and/or are able to snag excellent touring exhibits that are too small or too specialized for the big guys. The Currier Gallery in Manchester, NH owns a complete (down to the dishware and the clothing in the closets) Frank Lloyd Wright house from the very early 50s that makes a fascinating afternoon's visit. The Hartford Athenium has had several superb shows including original costumes (all handpainted silk) from the famed Ballet Russe. The deCordova Museum and sculpture park in Lincoln is an outstanding contemporary art museum. My personal favorite for many reasons is the Isabella Stewart Gardner here in Boston. Mrs. Gardner was a rebel from Beacon Hill society who consorted with artists and had a strong bohemian streak. She built "The Palace" as it was called in Venetian Gothic style to house her collection and she lived on the top floor. The collection is good but as a look into the mind of aquirky personality of the Belle Epoque, the place is priceless.
Tuesday has suddenly become gay night on the Bravo channel. I try not to watch too much TV but the long-promised gay network has never materialized and other channels are taking up the slack. Boy Meets Boy, which was widely predicted to be exploitive and smarmy, turns out to be fairly interesting and the wild card aspect--that several of the contestants are actually straight--has not been overplayed but has been
a positive aspect of the show. Perhaps significantly, James (the eligible gay bachelor looking for a boyfriend, who does not know yet there are straight men in the dating pool) has eliminated four of of them on the very logical basis of "no chemistry." My personal favorite at this point is Rob--great smile, sweet personality and seems like a great guy.
Gay Eye for the Straight Guy could be really silly and IS really over the top but I find it delightful. Five gay men in New York City take on a straight man each week who is facing some kind of landmark event. They analyze his life, his goals and then make over his wardrobe, his residence, his diet, his personal grooming and, if possible, manners. It is a great send-up of the gay decorating gene stereotype and is notable for the fact that they work within the man's established personal style and career needs--just better. I've liked them all so far but the first episode, where they worked with a stunning young man planning to ask his equally stunning girlfriend to marry him, was perhaps the finest. At the end he proposed, she accepted and we got to see five gayboys celebrating their facilitation of a hetereosexual marriage. Hey, weren't we supposed to be the ones THREATENING straight marriage?
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
So, I wrote Duncan and got the nicest note back. I then followed all the directions from blogger 101 and tried to install as links the blogs of Duncan and a couple of other bloggers whose writing I value. It worked for just a little while but the links soon dropped from color to gray and won't connect any more. And here I thought I was making progress using the web!
I should explain why I use the term "my partner" instead of giving his name. Maybe I will some day but I have decided that I shouldn't use people's names here. I'm Will for William and that is fine but it was my choice to go public and nobody else's, so I will speak only in "titles."
Speaking of my partner, I will be up at his place tomorrow night and Thursday to celebrate his birthday. He is somewhat older than I but built like an oak tree, full of vigor and energy, sexual dynamite and he loves me as nobody ever has. We celebrated our sixth anniversary at the end of May. He is my first long term relationship.
I spent years doing "hit and run" sex and, frankly, it was a lot of fun. I sometimes miss the variety and especially the little rush that comes from the build up to the moment of consent when it could go either way. He might and he might not but then comes a hand on the arm, a kiss, or just a slight smile and you know you've got him. Such a thrill! But I have no intention of ruining something so great. My partner isn't into open relationships (he does talk about three-ways sometimes--and three is one of my favorite numbers) but I will never do anything to hurt him or break the immense bond we have forged.
Gee, too bad we're gay and supposedly incapable of the deep emotions and committment worthy of entering into a legal marriage.
Monday, August 11, 2003
Anyway, my partner knew Gene from many years of gay activism and the two of us know between us at least eight gay Catholic priests (healthy gay men, not pediphiles) with active, normal sex lives. They make it work for them and I can admire the way they refuse to have their identities oppressed in pursuit of their personal religious vision. But I just can't deal with any of it any more. These days when people ask me my religious preference I say "Gay." Yes, gay as a religion or, at least, a spiritual locus. I have never been together with a group of gay guys when something positive, creative and wonderful hasn't happened. And if religion isn't about coming together to make something better, to get along as people better, what is it about? That obscene oxymoron "religious war"? Killing people because they don't believe exactly what you do? Claiming that you are right and everybody is wrong and damned forever? I think not.
Sunday, August 10, 2003
I'm working on the research for my fall and winter productions now. The first big one is COMPANY OF ANGLES, a play about a group of survivors from the Nazi camps who form a small theater company to perform in Yiddish for for other Jews still not resettled somewhere or waiting for word of relatives, friends, emigration, etc. It is a moving play. I'm reading a history of the Lodz Ghetto in Poland from which some of the characters in the play actually came.
Otherwise I am pretending to be cleaning out parts of the house. I say pretending because I am really no good at throwing things out until I get into a particular mood that is NOT compatible with heat and humidity. Tomorow, I go into the Music Library at MIT to get training on the library system's new computerized research program. I know how important all this isand I have increased my computer literacy majorly in the last couple of years but learning yet another new protocol just gets to be too much every now and then.
Friday, August 08, 2003
I live in Boston where I moved to study stage design in the early 1960s. I had grown up in New York City (72nd Street and Broadway at first, Rego Park in Queens later) and will probably always be a New Yorker at heart but I fell in love with Boston and stayed through grad school and then into a career designing for theater, opera and special events.
For the last 28 years I have had a base of operation in Music and Theater Arts at MIT where I am Technical Coordinator for Theater Arts, designing and teaching design, facilitating guest artists, scheduling and budgeting for productions.
I have two adopted daughters from Korea whom I raised as a single parent. One is
married and working in environmental policy in Colorado. The other lives in NYC and works in the human relations field. I have a magnificent partnerwho lives in southern New Hampshire. We've been together just over six years and since we are each established in our own careers and he manages his own business on his property, we're commuter lovers although close enough to be together a lot.
So, there it is: a highly varied, busy, sometimes chaotic but always rewarding life. Whether any of you will find it remotely interesting remains to be seen!