Sunday, May 30, 2004

I went up to Fritz's yesterday for a big yard sale, to help him convert the center into a location for a huge two day family reunion party today and tomorrow, to then have dinner out with friends, and to work on the property a bit this morning. I left Boston at 5:30am so I could join him by 7. We're both early risers, frequently waking just before 5am no matter when we get to sleep.

The yard sale went OK. Not great, but the three of us who were part of it managed to get some cash for things we were done with, cleaning out places in our homes into the bargain. We then went out to eat with a delightfully eclectic group of friends, including a very dear gay couple, lovely men who have been together for years and are getting married in Somerville next Thursday. We ended the day in the hot tub.

This morning, after lying in bed for three hours talking, joking, making love, and talking some more, we had breakfast and went to the barn to do a lot of cleaning out. Fritz always rolls his eyes when I get the cleaning bug but he's so indulgent of me and my enthusiasms he always goes along. We were at it for almost two hours and opened up a big area to new uses, with a lot of interesting and valuable discoveries and much for the dumpster. In the end I think he was pleased with the results. I just wish I could be as focused when I have to deal with my own basement.

I ended the day back in Boston, mowing my own overgrown property and trimming my hedge. The weather has been delightful, cool and sunny and ideally spring-like after so many weeks of damp and cold. As I always say, there's a reason this place is called New ENGLAND.

Friday, May 28, 2004

We're back from New York and New Jersey. On the way down Wednesday we started goofing around on the strange social and legal implications of legal gay marriage in Massachusetts. We left Boston at about 8:20am and we were married until 9:30 when we crossed into Conecticut. Rhode Island and New York have declared recognition of Massachusetts gay marriages but Connecticut has not. Indeed, Connecticut may be one of the 38 states that has adopted Defence of Marriage acts or amended their state constitutions to prevent gay unions. (Does any of you know if there is a place to find out what those 38 states are? Bill and Kent?).

OK, we were single again for two hours or so until we crossed the border into New York State and we remained married for the afternoon, becoming single once more as we passed through the Lincoln Tunnel into New Jersey for the night and most of Thursday. Now how silly is all of this? Well, when I have little to do but keep my vehicle on the road, my mind wanders and I start speculating on things. For example, the rest stops on the Merritt and Wilbur Cross Parkways in Connecticut are notoriously cruisey. I actually picked up a guy many years ago at the Hamden rest stop completely by accident (OK, he was REALLY ready to be picked up) and had to explain to him after he followed me into the rest room that I had been signalling him to go ahead of me into a parking space, not that I was trolling for sex. So, I thought, what if one of us picked up a guy and had a quickie in Connecticut--could the other sue for divorce in Massachusetts on grounds of adultery if the incident happened in a state where we weren't legally married?

The ravings of a mind that needs more serious matters to occupy it, I hear you all saying. BUT a suit has already been filed in Massachusetts by a newly married lesbian couple suing a medical practice for loss of sexual companionship due to the mis-diagnosis of breast cancer, now terminal, in one of the partners. This happened within ten days of the start of same-sex marriage here and is a rather common form of litigation by heterosexual couples. Nobody expected such a suit so soon by a gay couple. Signs of things to come and I say, bring them on. Sorry, I don't mean to sound in any way like George Bush--and I say, let the legal tests begin.

The revival of ASSASSINS was excellent, buy the way. Fritz had never seen it and I had only seen it in a college production and again in a small professional theater production here at the Lyric Stage in Boston. While the individual performances were very strong, what was most impressive was the ensemble work and the character development in the New York production. Neil Patrick Harris, AKA "Doogie Hauser," has been drawn into the group of regualar New York Sondheim performers and did a great job as Lee Harvey Oswald and the ballad singer. Most impressive was Marc Kudisch as the "Proprietor" or MC of the proceedings. Kudisch is a big, handsome legit baritone who moves and acts very well. With goatee, shaved head and a deep, easily produced voice, he pushed a considerable number of my buttons. The baritone is my favorite voice register of all--so masculine and sexy. ASSASSINS is playing in the (in)famous Studio 54 Theater and is well worth seeing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The newlyweds are off to New York and northern New Jersey for a couple of days. Fritz has been engaged to teach in one of his specialties at Montclair State University. It's something like going home again as he was raised in Upper Montclair and one of his former students who now teaches at the University engaged him to do the guest class. I'll be taking care of some family business at a storage warehouse in Jersey, breaking up a load of furniture that came out of my late step-mother's apartment and arranging shipping.

On the way through New York City, we're stopping off for a matinee of the very successful revival of ASSASSINS by Stephen Sondheim. There's a lot of Sondheim in the city this summer as Nathan Lane has reworked THE FROGS with him and is opening the new version in the middle of June. The original production dates from the composer's earliest years and was famously performed in the pool at Yale University with Meryl Streep and Susan Sarandon in the cast--then pretty much unknown. Then, it lasted something like 45 minutes but Lane has expanded it, using more of the play's original dialog and getting Sondheim to write more songs. All this is to compensate for the seeming loss of BOUNCE, the musical that used to be titled WISEGUYS. Sondheim had been working on it for years but it recently opened to extremely disappointing notices in Chicago and apparently isn't going anywhere else soon.

The cold and murk is hanging in today all up and down the northeast coast.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The manic weather continues here. Although nothing like what the mid-west is getting, it's pretty wild. For a second night we got severe late night-early morning thunder storms in the midst of very cold temperatures--down in the 40s in some cases--accompanied by torrential rains. Yesterday afternoon, one of my colleagues from MIT and his family were returning to Boston from New York City and for forty five minutes they were caught on the highway in a huge storm with blinding rain, large hail stones and high wind.
Combine this with the return of the 17 year cicadas and it sounds a bit like the Biblical plagues. I wonder how long it will be before one of the great fundamentalist geniuses decides all this is god's punishment for gay marriage?

Today is the day the big list of parish church closures is to be announced here in Boston. Relations between the Archbishop and the laity have erupted into open hostility with Catholic groups denouncing O'Malley and the hierarchy for fiscal incompetence and demanding that the laity be allowed a major role in running the parishes, managing church property and finances, and in taking over many of functions--including some liturgical duties--of the priesthood. Clearly the "just shut up and obey" policies of the past in the Catholic Church are no longer tolerated out in the trenches where rank and file Catholics live and work.

More to the point, however, many of the demands sound an awful lot like Protestantism, at least insofar as the militants want the actual parish unit reorganized and operated. Oh, and something like fifty new child sexual abuse victime have come forward and organized into a class action group to bring charges against the local clergy. Quoting Yogi Berra, it ain't over till it's over-- and it's far from over yet. When the dust finally settles, Boston will be a very different place culturally.

Monday, May 24, 2004

I am a husband and I have a husband! At 10:20am yesterday, we were declared married by our Justice of the Peace in the company of Fritz's younger sister; a close friend of ours who is a lawyer and part of the group working to develop more gay programming at Fritz's center; and a dancer/movement teacher who credits Fritz as her mentor in the use of the arts as a major teaching tool for all academic subjects.

The JP greeted us all warmly, took a couple of pictures of the grooms, and then began. When we got to the vows and the rings, Fritz and I turned to each other, grasped hands and looked deeply into each other's eyes. His are French blue, clear and strong. He looked so handsome and was just glowing. We're both deeply feeling men and it was pretty emotional but we made it through all the way without either of us breaking down. He then declared us married. The JP then concluded, as planned, with the Native American wedding blessing:

Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth for the other.
Now there will be no more loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons, but there is but one life before you.
Go now into your dwelling to enter into the days of your lives together,
and may your days be good, and long upon the earth.

We embraced, kissed, cried a little and were mobbed by our three companions. The relevant papers were signed and we thanked him profusely for making everything so personal and warm.

Then we went out to wedding brunch, heading for Zaftig's, a super Jewish deli restaurant. But the wait for a table was almost an hour. So we wound up at a sports bar that serves brunch, under a cartoon mural of three Boston sports legends that Fritz and I knew were Bobby Orr, Carl Yastrzemski and Bill Russell, thank you very much, eating OK food with terrible service and having a wonderful time.

My thanks to all of you who wrote with congratulations. This is going "to have legs." The media here have been filled with the most positive images of gay men and lesbians getting married with joy and the support of families, friends and local civic leaders. Some went formal, some were goofy and fun, many went with their children in arms or standing as their witnesses. The governor's hunting down ten out-of-state couples so he could nullify their weddings has NOT been a popular move. It may be slow, it may have some moments of painful backlash from the neanderthals, but this will spread, I am confident.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

The wedding is just over two hours away. Fritz and I are up. I'm going to make a light breakfast of tea, fruit and toast. We are going to wear silk shirts--lapis lazuli blue for him, Chinese red for me--leather vests and dark slacks. Lillies of the Valley are in full bloom all over my property and he suggested two orthree spriggs made into a little boutonniere for each of us. That's it--I'll be in touch again when it has all happened.

Friday, May 21, 2004

I'll probably rearrange some of my links in the next week or so, particularly to break my blog list into two categories: Blogs I Read and Boston Bloggers. Several months ago when I had a hail and farewell dinner with Ron Gilbert of Ron's Log (he was just on the brink of moving to Palm Springs when I found his site) we lamented the seeming scarcity of gay Boston(-area) bloggers. Since then I've found several, like Jeff and Moe (Jeff is the author), chaosfactor (who's leaving Roslindale for a more suburban home) and, just this week, Matt and Karl at Matt's Bit of Space.

I used the term Boston-area because this city sits at the heart of a major urban area that it dominates economically and culturally but is actually quite small, with a population under a million. Unlike New York that swallowed entire major cities like Brooklyn as it incorporated itself into megalopolis, Boston either didn't try or wasn't able to absorb many surrounding towns. Cambridge, Charlestown and Somerville to the north, Watertown and Newton to the west, Brookline to the southeast, etc. are part of the urban dynamic here but have remained staunchly independent and kept their own characters in the process.

My own neighborhood of Roslindale was one of the last if not THE last to be incorporated and sits fairly quietly behind a great green barricade consisting of Franklin Park and the Arnold Arboretum. There's a real feeling of separation from Boston here and long-time residents generally refer to Roslindale as The Village, which it was until well into the twentieth century.

The Park and Arboretum are pendants to "The Emerald Necklace," a vast, planned swath of urban green space that begins downtown at Boston Common and stretches through Back Bay via the Public Gardens and the "grande allee" down Commonwealth Avenue, the Fens, the Jamaicaway and Jamaica Pond and finally the Arborway. Frederick Law Olmstead, our first true landscape architect, laid out the Necklace while living in Brookline (that Boston surrounds on two sides but couldn't absorb) where he also designed tha gardens and park at Biltmore, the enormous Vanderbilt estate in Ashville, NC. Fritz and I visited there in March during MIT's spring break and will probably visit Olmstead's house and studio that I just found out are open to the public. They feature his special invention, a system for making blueprints via light sensitive paper and a device that let him slide the drawings through the exterior wall to be printed and developed by sunlight rather than by noxious chemical fumes indoors.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

My life in theater came full circle last night in the theater where it all began. The Huntington Theater Company that is housed in the Boston University Theater opened a production of Tennessee Williams's THE ROSE TATTOO last night. I was in the audience as the guest of Stage Source, Boston's great resource and clearing house for info and services to the theater community here. I did my undergraduate work in B.U.'s School for the Arts where, in the spring of my junior year, the faculty gave me my first major production to design--THE ROSE TATTOO, on the same stage where it was performed last night.

This play isn't performed as often as THE GLASS MENAGERIE or STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, possibly because it requires an extraordinary actress of the kind that comes along once or twice in a generation. The role of Serafina delle Rose was written for the great Italian actress Anna Magnani (Sophia Loren would also have been perfect for it in her amazing post-TWO WOMEN years). As time has gone by I've come to think of the play as the anti-STREETCAR, bearing the same relationship to that great play as Eugene O'Neill's AH, WILDERNESS does to LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT--polar opposites, one showing how life so often is and the other how it can be when miracles happen.

TATTOO is comedy but one with an extremely rich emotional life in which Serafina finally has the courage to strip herself of romantic illusions of the past and grasp life in the form of a younger, bumptuous, hunky, very sweet man. She can do this only after finally admitting to herself that the dead husband she idolized had betrayed and used her for years. There's a delicate and lovely sub-plot, in which her teenaged daughter blossoms into womanhood while experiencing her first romance.

The production is big and noisy, it traded in caricature too often for my taste and, finally, looked more like a sitcom than I was comfortable with. It is also extremely entertaining on a certain level and there are some fine performers, many of whom clearly have the range to dig much further into the material if only they had been directed to do so. I guess I would call the production a feel-good date opportunity--but Williams is a treasurable writer who deserves far better than that.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Thanks to all of you who've written to wish us well as we've moved through the process on our way to getting married Sunday. One of you even gave us a nod on his blog--thanks, Ryan! Now it's the Wednesday after the historic Monday and the governor has had another of his obsessive anti-gay episodes.

Unable to just let people be happy in a world that badly needs some happiness, he's demanded via executive order all the applications for same sex marriage from the towns of Springfield, Worcester, Somerville and Provincetown to examine them for evidence of out of state couples trying to marry here. His mantra is the disreputable 1913 law that was passed to deny mixed race couples the chance to marry in Massachusetts. The legal community is saying that a full dress assault on that law is now inevitable, and the faster it's knocked down the better in my opinion. I've said this before, but Mitt Romney has to be one of the most miserable human beings I've ever had the misfortune to encounter.

The annual rites of paint and polish are going on at MIT. Every spring public areas, including the entire quarter mile plus Infinite Corridor, are repainted and all woodwork cleaned (stripped and revarnished when necesary). Everything is polished, the masonry floors are stripped and reglazed, and there's a lot of outdoor planting. We're made to sparkle for Commencement, even at a time when there are salary freezes, hiring freezes and operational budget cuts. Given that the great central complex of interconnected buildings that spread out from that great corridor was built in 1910, there has to be a significantly thick skin of paint over the plaster by now.

The Infinite Corridor is the aorta of MIT. It's about ten feet wide--a bit too narrow for its highest volume moments. It runs east and west, straight as an arrow, through the heart of the original Institute. With massive expansion east and north (and as far west as we can go before meeting massive neighborhood resistance) it's no longer the geographic center of campus but it remains an iconic passage through the heart of MIT, and when you pass from one side of campus to the other, it's the single fastest way, along which you invariably encounter up to a dozen people you know and deal with closely in your work.

There are precious few places along its length to stop for a moment and talk. This is a business thoroughfare and during the ten minute breaks between classes the speed and volume of traffic are intense. The Institute has banned rollerblades in the corridor, all its branches and all other public hallways to insure the safety of ordinary pedestrians, but if a student has to get all the way from east campus to west campus for a class with only a ten minute break, rollerblades are the only way he or she could
possibly make it without being late. About halfway down its length is Lobby 10, a quiet bay off a rapid river. Temporary exhibits and booths for all kinds of student activities can reserve space in 10 and it provides benches that are hard as rock--well, they ARE rock--for those who need a bit of rest before wading back into the crush of the Corridor.

Now, right above the first floor Corridor there is an almost exact replica, but for a small jog around the two story Lobby 10, on the second floor. Containing offices and the entrances to departmental enclaves, it's invariably deserted and very still. Anyone can cross campus that way in peace and quiet, but what fun is that?

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Yesterday was an amazing day and I'll try to hit some of the highlights. Fritz got here at 2pm and we went over to the Brookline Town Hall. No protesters, but GLAD was there in force with bear hugs and congratulations for being part of history. They have been so wonderful, fighting every court battle over same-sex marriage here and then just being there to blot out the hate we have experienced and make it a fun occasion.

The place number for our particular licensing clerk was 69; we winked at each other. She turned out to be a delight, didn't blink an eye at Fritz's New Hampshire address and even flirted with him jokingly over how he couldn't be the age his birthdate indicates. I thought to myself, "get him in the sack, honey, and you REALLY won't believe it." But I was a good boy and didn't say a word. After wedding cake and a red rose each from GLAD, we hit the parking area where a woman had just driven in asking if we had gotten a marriage license. When we said yes, she handed us a bouquet of six white roses. Her five month old son was in a car seat in the back and she said she was doing this so he would grow up with good values. Five month old. This is SO Masachusetts. It's why I love it here. We kissed her on the cheek and headed for the Justice of the Peace's office.

This was a planning session for Sunday and when we entered in I said to Fritz, "I think we've walked into a sitcom." The place was crammed with tchochkes from floor to ceiling and hanging from the ceiling. Asian carvings, stuffed animals, Indian masks, African fabrics, you name it. The J.P. came in, 5 feet, two inchers tall wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat, a vibrant yellow shirt with bolo tie and flowing white hair pulled back into a short pony tail. In his 80s, he brimmed with energy and ran us throught he ceremony he had put together especially for same-sex couples. We loved it, and then he asked if we wanted the Arapaho Indian blessing he liked to end with. Fritz was amazed--it was the same one that had been used at his beloved neice's wedding in Amsterdam but he had never been able to get a copy. Here it was being offered to us and he said to me, "you picked the perfect J.P. for this." As we left, we caught sight of the small rainbow flag he had in a corner of the window.

Then on to "Troy." We had a great time. Comments about all the male nudity and very little female nudity are completely overblown. There's some really pleasant beefcake but nothing like in "The Pillow Book" or ten other recent movies; there are unclothed women when and where appropriate to the story line. Brad Pitt does quite well but the real performances are from Peter O'Toole as old King Priam and Brian Cox who plays Agamemnon as an opportunistic, unprincipled thug. I really liked the design choices and the battle scenes aren't all glory and heroics but a good indication of how horrible hand to hand combat with sharp thrusting weapons must have been. We ended the day at a little Greek restaurant, quietly talking, looking into each other's eyes and feeling very happy to be in this place at this time.

This morning we woke up to images of the scene yesterday at Boston City Hall. Not many protesters, but those were there did themselves no favors by displaying their true colors--Nazi banners and, in one case, a swastika tattooed on the chest of a boy trying to hand out hate propaganda that nobody was anxious to take. The next item showed a dear froend of ours, a gay Unitarian Universalist minister, marrying one of the couples whose suit to the Massachussetts Supreme Judicial Court started this whole thing.

In the face of the disasterous Iraq War, growing human rights scandal and economic concerns here, George Bush has asked the Congress to begin work on a U.S. Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. He feels more hate and exclusion will pull us back onto the right path. Please everyone help vote this twisted, dangerous man out of office in November.

Monday, May 17, 2004

I've been chronicling the same-sex marriage drama here from its inception, and I'll take it through just a little longer as my personal marriage story works itself out. I picked up our blood tests this morning at Fenway Health where they had people to greet us and gave away a bottle of "wedding bubbles" to every couple to help celebrate. Celebration is certainly in the air--a kind of euphoria with much support from the media and most if not all of straight society.

Unitarian Churches dedicated yesterday to a celebration of gay marriage and their gay congregants. Normally conservative CBS radio commentators were extending congratulations and the liberal ones gleefully pointed out that the sun had risen this morning on schedule and we had not been struck with disasters as some of the fundamentalists had predicted. The governor, whatever else he may have up his sleeve, was publically gracious, wishing those who were marrying happiness and joy. Provincetown and other municipalities are giving licenses to out of state couples happily. Major "surprise": Archbishop O'Malley announced that the Catholic Church receives the arrival of gay marriage with "deep sadness." Well, bucko, let's remember how society in general received news of the raping of little boys, the lies, perjury, payoffs for silence and the conspiracy to cover up. As commentator John Keller stressed this morning, does anyone really take seriously any more the Catholic Church's claim of moral authority?

After getting the license today Fritz and I will celebrate with dinner out and spend the evening at "Troy," watching Brad, Orlando, Eric and the boys taking of their armor and everything else as well. I am and always have been a sucker for big Hollywood costume epics--and this one promises to be uncostumed as well! Hey, I'm slime and I'm proud.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

The Catholic Church has decided to try to exert control over the American political system by going after a chunk of the electorate. Previously, the Vatican had told Catholic politicians that they had to vote against things the Church opposed--like choice for women in the form of abortion, and gay marriage--or they risked being excommunicated. Now, in the person of Michael Sheridan, Bishop of Colorado Springs, the Vatican has said the selfsame thing to the laity--vote OUR way or be excommunicated, the only way to rejoin your Church being to publicly recant your position and beg for the Church's forgiveness.

Fear of this kind of remote control from Rome was a major issue during the campaign for the presidency of John F. Kennedy, when many Americans were convinced Kennedy would take his orders directly from the Pope. The atmosphere now is distinctly different, with the Church in severe decline in numbers and influence. Part of the fallout from Sheridan's pastoral statement was that large numbers of Catholic Coloradans publicly announced their intention to jump ship and join other churches, principally Episcopalian. To their credit most other bishops in the U.S. stated their recognition that voters are concerned with a broad spectrum of issues when they vote and they declined to endorse Sheridan's tactics. But he may be the thin end of the wedge.

Here in Boston we await the onslaught of the Democratic National Convention in a little over two months. Our mayor, Tom Menino, engineered this event with the promise of a massive influx of dollars into the city's economy. But he made one major blunder, and then a whole lot of others that are severely eroding his political base here. The big blunder was to allow the Democrats to strong arm him on the location. The city's brand spanking new convention center in South Boston should absolutely have been the site, both for its location and size, and to justify the massive expense of constructing so large and unattractive a building. But the Democrats felt the Fleet Center (successor to the old Boston Garden) provided better TV coverage because of its steeply raked amphitheater seating.

Trouble is, the Fleet Center is in the heart of downtown, adjoining the Big Dig's new underground Central Artery and North Station, a major commuter terminal from all the northern suburbs and bedroom communities. The Federal security people said fine BUT North Station is to be closed during the convention as is the Central Artery in both directions beginning at 4PM daily. News of this has been released only in bits and pieces so as not to inflame public rage. But when the last bit was announced last week, the 4PM closing instead of 7PM as expected, all hell broke loose. So many businesses are expecting traffic chaos, severely reduced workforces because it will be literally impossible to get to work, and reduced revenue because tourists will be scared away during the convention, that lots of them may declare a vacation week and close. The result could be BOTH chaos on the highways and city streets, AND a slump in revenues severe enough to more than offset any windfall economic gain from having the convention here.

It's 11pm here and Cambridge opened City Hall half an hour ago to begin the process of granting same sex marriage licences in one hour and one minute, as soon as it becomes May 17. A lesbian couple who have been together 27 years are first on line. Out of state couples are pouring in and word has reached us that the Attorney General of New York State says that Massachusetts same sex marriages will be honored there, while Bill and Kent report that Connecticut may make the same move. The movement is picking up steam. Fritz and I go for our license tomorrow.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Wow--things went so fast the last three days! The homophopes' appeal to the Federal Judge here in Boston (he upheld the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court decision), the Appeals Court decision refusing to get involved, followed by the appeal to the US Supreme court where Mr. Justice Souter refused even to hear arguements. It's a "go" for gay marriage in Massachusetts! The next possible court challenge appears to be at least a month away and a full, nine Justice US Supreme Court hearing of the case will probably happen in November.

I knew it would wind up in the Supreme Court sooner or later. It may take their decision to clear up the status of the gay marriages that have taken place so far, and they will certainly be the ones who decide on gay marriage in Massachusetts--if not the entire country. I must admit, however, that my interest at this particular moment is in getting Fritz and me married safely and securely in one week--I'll take the rest and deal with it as it comes.

The weekend is going well--there are 22 guys in all, not an excessive number to cook for. Fritz and I are even getting some private time together. Boy, do I like morning wake-up sex!

Friday, May 14, 2004

Off for the weekend to host 23 gay men at Fritz's place. There's a weekend program produced by the Body Electric School out of Oakland, California. They hold all their Boston-area events at his center; he and I cook and otherwise take care of everything for their two and a half day stay. The programs are heavily involved with gay spirituality and sense of self within the gay community. It's very important work in which we believe passionately.

I'll be back Sunday evening. Have a great weekend, everybody.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

A few small things today. Our strange spring continues with weather yo-yoing back and forth between hot and humid and surprisingly cold and clear. I'm all for the latter.

Boston and a couple of other cities have knuckled under to Governor Romney's strong arm tactics and stated that they will honor the "no out-of-state couples" law. Tom Menino, mayor of Boston, looked just miserable as he made the announcement. Provincetown, Worcester and Somerville are the last hold-outs.

There is some expectation that the Federal Court in Boston will announce its decision today on the suit to halt same-sex marriage, but the Court itself has said its finding will come down no later than Friday morning in any event.

Fritz and I had originally planned to marry before a Justice of the Peace in Massachusetts on August 14 and then go ahead with the Friends (Quaker) ceremony with our families, colleagues and closest friends in New Hampshire. August the 14th is still on, but we have decided to get married in Massachusetts as soon as possible because we don't trust Romney or the free-lance loonies who will surely try to throw a wrench into the works if they possibly can. Having taken the blood tests, we're going for a license next Monday. I have a Justice of the Peace lined up for Sunday the 23rd at 10am. That day is the seventh anniversary of our meetng and almost instant recognition that something extraordinary was happening for us. I can't think of a better time to get married under the circumstances.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Well, thanks to Jeff, Ron, Bill, Ryan and the unexpected pleasure of Jurgen from Germany for confirming that there guys who do visit regularly. I also know of Mark, Billy, Corin, Eric and a few others but I wouldn't want to name-drop, now would I? Yes, I would, actually--you guys are sweet to write and I am very appreciative.

Fritz and I went for our blood tests today so the first official step has been taken. You wouldn't think getting a vial of blood drawn out of your arm could be a romantic event but the good folk at Fenway Community Health, an almost legendary GLBT medical facility in Boston, made it so. At every step of the way we were welcomed, congratulated and told it was their pleasure to be a part of our journey to making history in Massachusetts by getting married. As we were walking out of Fenway just before six o'clock tonight, we looked at each other and I said, "Now it's REAL. We've taken the first official step."

I won't carry on too much about the latest attempt to get all this to grind to a halt. A Florida pro-family group got in bed with the local Catholic leaders and has brought a suit to Federal Court in Boston to block gay marriage. A couple of lawyers are on Fritz's Board of Directors with me and they assure us it will be thrown out on the basis that gay marriage is a states' rights issue. If it ISN'T thrown out, it will be a huge indictment of Bush administration hypocrisy because it's Bush who yells so loudly about states' rights in this and other matters.

Ironically, thirty seven new churches have just been added to the list of a hundred plus that the Boston archdiocese is considering closing and selling off. A sweet elderly lady was shown on TV crying over the prospect of the church where she had been a life-long member being closed, then she paused and said, "but the people aren't coming and there are no priests any more." I am honestly sensitive to the loss genuine believers feel at the end of an era, but I also feel strongly that the Catholic Church could have revitalized by welcoming and including people and moving with the times. Instead it chose the exclusionary practices of the distant past, demonizing us as "sinful" while wallowing in its own sins. Since coming out, I have never felt so hated as I have by our Mormon governor and his Catholic supporters in this issue--strange bedfellows and truly an unholy alliance.

Monday, May 10, 2004

I'm taking the day off, spending it up at Fritz's place between a Sweat Lodge gathering last night and a Board of Directors meeting tonight--two radically different groups, I might add. We're doing various maintenance jobs on the property and also working a lot on various plantings and fruit trees. Great weather, the best company in the world (my man) and a total break in routine. Back to MIT and academia tomorrow.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Every now and again I wonder if any more than about five people actually read this blog. Not that I'm planning to stop as I enjoy journaling. I think Eric (uberic of Stylish Notes) was the very first to leave a comment. I have had notes from a number of bloggers whose sites I read and value, as well as some longer and more candid conversations with one man in particular who is extremely sensitive and thoughtful. I've thought about putting a counter on the site but decided that perhaps it would be better not to know.

In my nine months of writing Designerblog, I've been surprised and delighted to find it on a number of link lists with another in process right now (thanks Corin!). I suppose if I were 25, cute or really buff, and willing to write in detail about my sex life I, too, could have ten or fifteen comments after every entry but it's way too late for that in the first case, is debatable in the second, and just isn't my style in the third.

What has been eye-opening and fascinating is to experience the wide variety and astonishing openness of gay experience on the web via the work of gay bloggers. I still have straight friends who think that all gay men want the same things and think the same way. If I think they aren't from the "too much information" crowd I often mention checking out gay blogs as a way of getting over the "monolithic" idea of gay life. In the final analysis, simply being so out and so vivid on the web may be the greatest and most influential aspect of gayblogs in a worrisomely reactionary and conservative social climate.

Friday, May 07, 2004

This is nowhere near as big an accomplishment as quitting smoking or getting clean from drugs or alcohol, but today is day three for me of going cold turkey on sugar. I had been a major user--lots of it in coffee, tea, plain yogurt, sprinkled over fruit and, on my really bad days, eaten from a spoon right out of the sugarbowl. I'm doing OK, much to my surprise. It's not just the "carb thing" but the fact that I knew it had become just a bit more than a food taste preference or even a habit.

Who the hell can explain Mitt Romney's mind? After backing off on the residency requirement for the last two days, he fired off a sharp defense of the 1913 law when a couple of legislators began the process of repealing it. Maybe he's bonkers--he's certainly homophobically obsessed. The letter he sent out to the other 49 governors urging them to tell their gays and lesbians to stay home and not attempt to come here to get married has been received coldly in some state capitals. A number of governors wrote back telling him to keep his nose out of their citizens' lives.

Our administrative assistant came up to my office yesterday, depressed and wanting to talk. The subject was the revolting sadism shown by the Army and CIA to Iraqi prisoners of war. What had really hit her was that women were among the abusers. She is a very sharp young woman out of Wellesley College who uses our part time position as her "day job" while she acts and directs for local theater companies. Her husband is German, a post-Doc here at MIT in physics. She told me that he goes home for visits or on business and Germans are shocked that he would live here or want to associate with Americans--and YES, I am fully aware of the historical irony of Germans looking down on us for moral lapses.

I reminded her of the old saying that the female of the spcies is always the deadlier, and we spoke of my belief that the veneer of civilization is sometimes very thin even in supposedly "advanced' or "enlightened" nations. I think we will see more of this sort of thing in many areas because we have degraded our educational system and ruthlessly eliminated the arts from so many school systems. I believe we're in very big trouble here because of the Bush War, bankrupt financially at home and bankrupt morally in the international community. It's going to take us decades to recover from this--if we ever recover.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

My thanks to Andy Towle who posted the latest cover of The New Yorker magazine on his photoblog (link to the right under "photoblogs"). The New Yorker, for those not familiar with it, is a sophisticated, somewhat "elitist" journal that publishes short stories by contemporary writers, essays from foreign capitals, in-depth arts coverage and some of the wittiest cartoons about contemporary society to be found anywhere. It is certainly a niche publication, something like a Noel Coward play in the middle of a reality TV world. I was born in New York City, grew up with it and love it but not everybody will.

However, the current cover is one of the rawest, ballsiest images I have ever seen associated with the magazine. The colors used by the artist are red, white and black--Nazi colors. In a flat desert landscape, oil rigs are silhouetted against a black sky. Front and center, one rig is gushing blood. It's very powerful. And, knowing how long in advance these things have to be negotiated and produced, I suspect it was decided on even before the current torture, abuse and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners scandal broke to the public.

Bush and his gang seem determined to destroy our reputation internationally, reinforce anti-Americanism abroad, disgrace us in the world community, and bankrupt us both morally and financially.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

It's all over. Romney has caved on the residency requirement. The latest statement via legal counsel Dan Winslow is that if individual clerks have asked for proof of residency in the past, they may do so with gay and lesbian applicants. If they have not customarily done so, they don't have to.

Abandoned by all this former allies in this business, I think he realized what a bigoted homophobe he was looking like in front of the electorate of a highly liberal state. Also, there may have been pressure from Provincetown and other areas planning to make life pleasant and welcoming for out-of-state gays concerning the huge economic benefits of letting anyone marry here who wants to.


Tuesday, May 04, 2004

It's the most glorious autumn morning today, bright and snappy cold with fresh, blustery winds and what I call a "November sky," meaning one filled with gnarled gray and white clouds racing by on the wind out of Canada. "What?!," I hear you cry, "it's the beginning of MAY; it should be sweetly warm, calm and lovely." But, see, this is Boston, and as I constantly remind people, there's a reason this place is called New ENGLAND. Those Pilgrims caught on very fast--they weren't referring to the fact that the landscape looked like home or that the American Indians were just like the ones they remembered from back in the English midlands--it was the weather.

The mayors of Lowell and one other city in the state, Newton or Newbury--one beginning with an N--are joining the growing list of municipalities that plan on not requiring proof of residence for gays and lesbians on the grounds that they don't want to make themselves liable to lawsuits for discrimination. The word is going up from licensing clerks everywhere, "We don't require this of heterosexuals, why should we require it of homosexuals?" Governor Romney is temporarily distracted from making things difficult for some homosexuals, and impossible for others if he possibly can, because he's trying full tilt now to get the death penalty restored in Massachusetts. Just full of the milk of human kindness, that Mitt Romney.

The mayor of Cambridge is opening his city hall at 12:01am on the 17th to get marriage licenses processed all night. There will apparently be something of an official party atmosphere. Tom Menino, Boston's mayor, will have facilitator/greeters all around city hall to help gays and lesbians through the process. Both mayors will assist anyone who wants a waiver of the three day waiting period between license and marriage so they can do it all on the same day. That sounds to me VERY like their way of announcing that out-of-staters will be helped by Boston and Cambridge to get married here. With all these enlightened mayors and town managers around the state looking to INCLUDE homosexuals in all civil rights, it makes you wonder how we got stuck with the rigid, homophobic and regressive Romney in the state house.

Monday, May 03, 2004

I'm sitting here in my office with the lights off, wearing clip-on sunglasses over regular sunglasses and trying to focus. I began my day with an eye exam that included pupil dilation. The last time this happened, there was blazing sunlight outside and I nearly died trying to get back to MIT via public transportation. This time, New England weather to the rescue! It's cloudy and dark today although still almost blinding without the shades.

On the other hand, I'm told I have the retinas of a 20 year old which is enormously good to hear for a middle-aged designer and graphic artist. I've had frequent nightmares during my life about going blind or becoming crippled in my hands, or both. Even though to a lesser extent than a dancer, singer or actor, by body is my instrument or, in my case, my primary tool. I think about that a lot, which is why I've tried not to beat my body to pulp the way so many in my family did through heavy smoking and drinking. I saw first-hand the damage that can be done and, while raising my daughters, I had to become involved in supporting and caring for some in the generation previous to mine who had developed severe physical problems way too early in life.

I've always stood somewhat "outside" my family. I needed them in more than a financial support way but I was always afraid to get too close emotionally and be sucked into the family's lifestyle and addiction problems. We were very isolated when I was growing up. The end of the day was like circling the wagons to keep out the world. From inside that sequestered home life, they would pass judgement--and it was a very harsh judgement--on anything and everything of which they disapproved. Total conformity was demanded as well. There were certain foods we ate and there was never any variety or experimantation. If I suggested that the one approved mustard might not be the only type worth getting I was told, "Your problem is you don't know what's GOOD!" And that pretty much ended the conversation right there.

I think that's why my tastes are so eclectic and wide-ranging now. When I got to college, I found there was a whole world out there
that was fun and filled with wonderful new and exciting people, things and experiences. I've never looked back.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Opposition to Governor Romney is gathering strength. Boston's Mayor Tom Menino is the latest to state that he will challenge the 1913 law on which Romney is making his last stand. Menino has gathered his legal team and put them to finding out if the city of Boston can defy Romney on documenting home addresses to deny out-of-state couples access to marriage licenses. Menino says that heterosexual couples have never been asked to document in-state addresses and that to force gays and lesbians to do so constitutes discrimination. It was, of course, discrimination that was the key to the original Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's ruling that gay marriage was legal in Massachusetts, so the issue has now come full circle. I would love to see the 1913 law declared unconstitutional.

There was a big rally in Seattle in support of marriage for heterosexuals only, largely organized by right-wing and/or fundamantalist clergy. We were, as usual, assured that they LOVE individual homosexuals, but just don't want them to marry, have equal rights, etc. Bullshit as usual. One woman from the crowd explained to CBS News that the issue here is to prevent the breaking of tradition, that is important to hand down to the next generation a tradition of creating children and grandchildren.

Hello, do these free-lance loonies ever listen to what they say? Gays and lesbians aren't going to be breeding whether they're married or not. So that item is a non-issue. And straights aren't going to stop breeding, or marrying for that matter, just because gays get to marry. So that one is off the table, too. So it's a win-win situation: heterosexuals get to marry and have kids like always: gays and lesbians get to marry and have rights at last--and adopt a lot of the kids heterosexuals have but don't want and who need loving, stable homes--you know, those traditional children and grandchildren.

Can someone PLEASE explain to me the problem?

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