Saturday, July 31, 2004

Fritz and I are getting things prepared for our wedding celebration on the 14th, just two weeks from today. About a week ago he came at me all bright-eyed and enthusiastic saying he had had a wonderful idea—what if we had a scavenger hunt of people?

Remember, Fritz is a teacher most of whose teaching is done via intensive two or three day all-day workshops. He has to get his students relaxed, into the study and introduced to each other quickly so he can get on to the work. As there are going to be large groups of people who have never met each other previously from both our worlds, he thought an ice-breaking exercise might be just the thing. Cards would be passed out randomly with instructions like “Find the former student of Fritz’s from Las Vegas,” “Find Will’s younger daughter,” (which wouldn’t be all that easy as she’s Korean and there’s no resemblance whatsoever). He was absolutely delighted with himself.

I was careful and very discrete. Or not. I said it all sounded like a variation on those wedding mill places, function room restaurants near super highway exits in urban areas where the lead singer of the band announces “The groom’s mother will now dance with the bride’s first cousin once removed.” I HATE that kind of enforced social engineering. But then I brightened and said that since many of our guests will not have met a lot of gays and lesbians, we could focus on that introduction with cards saying “Find the menage a trois,” or “Find the hot Catholic priest with the cute boyfriend.” (There will, in fact, be a threesome at the party and there will be an extremely hot gay Catholic priest with . . . etc.) I think maybe he’s having second thoughts.

Friday, July 30, 2004

The Tanglewood Music Center opened a two-night run of Benjamin Britten's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM last night in the spartan but highly functional Theater at the Boston Symphony's Tanglewood Estate in Lenox, Massachusetts. One sits on folding chairs (padded, praise be) between wooden walls whose bare studs are festooned with electrical conduit and cords. Plain girders overhead support an unadorned wooden roof from which hang bare flood lamps as house lights, and ceiling fans. The back wall is open to the breeze, distant traffic noise, and the occasional mosquito. The acoustics are warm, clear and and very present. Britten's vocal line and orchestral colors blossomed.

The singers are all young, members of the Vocal Fellows of the Center, although several already have admirable resumes. Director David Kneuss and designers John Michael Deegan and Sarah G. Conly produced their DREAM as a tribute to Hollywood comedies and musicals of the 1930s. The fairies, the excellent PALS Children's Chorus, entered in white tie and top hats, each holding in one hand a walking stick whose knob lit up, the better for them to fade eventually into the starry sky backdrop. Oberon, the suavely sexy but vaguely threatening Brazilian Jose Lemos, also appeared in evening wear, the countertenor voice reimagined as male contralto in his throat. The unfailingly elegant Anne-Carolyn Bird met him in platinum hair, white sequins and maribou--Tytania as Ginger Rogers or Jean Harlow as dressed by Erte. It was a brilliant design choice, reflecting all the ambiguous sexuality of the situation, the sinuous line of Brittain's music and sparkle of the percussion, showing that fairlyland in the forest was unquestionably THE place to be.

A simple set of polished black steps with gleaming brass edgings, some platforms and broad strips of white drapery material hanging in rich fullness that slid in and out as needed set individual scenes At times a massive moon opened up in the sky. The story was told directly and clearly. The young lovers could have stepped out of ANYTHING GOES in their varsity sweaters, and period hair styles. The "rude mechanicals" were costumed amusingly to suggest a dream comedy team of W.C. Fields, Harold Lloyd, Chaplin, Stan Laurel, etc. In the wrong hands, it could have been cutsie. It wasn't. It suggested rather than hustled its ideas. And it was all of a piece. Laughter in the hall was frequent and delighted.

Standouts in the cast were the high, clear and beautifully phrased Lysander of tenor Randall Bills, Charles Temkey's rich bass-baritone as Bottom, Kyle Barry's Puck (a high school junior who already has an international career), Mr Lemos and Ms Bird who earned frequent bursts of applause for their singing, dancing and evident joy in performing. Stefan Asbury glowingly conducted the Music Center Orchestra which played outstandingly for him. It was a magical performance, just as it should be.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I loved Teresa Heinz Kerry last night. The ballsy outspokenness, the languages, the right-headed policies she laid out, the whole package. For so long, our presidents and first ladies have gone abroad and assumed every one would speak their language and have rarely attempted to speak someone else's . Here's a cosmopolitan woman who can meet a very large percentage of the world's population (including those non-English speakers in THIS country) and speak to it in THEIR languages. And she obviously takes no shit from anybody. She's my girl.

I'm finishing Fritz's Christmas present this week. I bought him a big hunk of gorgeous upholstery tapestry with the promise I would reupholster his couch this summer. Well, it's almost done and it looks great. Besides the pleasure of being in my profession, scenic designers have at their disposal a lot of subsidary skills that come in really handy. Sorry guys, this job's being done for love--I don't take outside work.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Day number one of the Convention is over.  I thought the Clintons were dynamic, fun, superbly prepared, at ease and, boy, did I wish one--or both--of them was running.  Yeah, I know they failed miserably with health insurance and brought us the Defence of Marriage act and Don't ask, Don't tell.  But Kerry, for all that I feel he HAS to be elected, isn't exactly the gay man and lesbian's greatest advocate either.  But he HAS to be elected, whatever his faults, and perhaps we can hope for better than his luke-warm advocacy once the election is past and IF (please, please) he unseats the current occupant of the chair.
The fear of massive traffic congestion and terrorism in the  streets was unfounded, at least for now.  But at what price?  Downtown Boston was a ghost town last night, a city in total lockdown.  There are predictions that people will slowly come to life and take the city over again when they dee how deserted and dead the place was last night so that the conventioneers may see actual Bostonians doing Boston-type stuff before they go home.  At least the fireworks last night were LOUD.  Here in Roslindale, eight miles away, we could hear them as if they were down the street.  On to day two and the sight of Ron Reagan standing before a Democratic National Convention--the ex-gay son of The Great Communicator looking for rational policy in the enemy camp. 

Day number one of the Convention is over.  I thought the Clintons were dynamic, fun, superbly prepared, at ease and, boy, did I wish one--or both--of them was running.  Yeah, I know they failed miserably with health insurance and brought us the Defence of Marriage act and Don't ask, Don't tell.  But Kerry, for all that I feel he HAS to be elected, isn't exactly the gay man and lesbian's greatest advocate either.  But he HAS to be elected, whatever his faults, and perhaps we can hope for better than his luke-warm advocacy once the election is past and IF (please, please) he unseats the current occupant of the chair.
The fear of massive traffic congestion and terrorism in the  streets was unfounded, at least for now.  But at what price?  Downtown Boston was a ghost town last night, a city in total lockdown.  There are predictions that people will slowly come to life and take the city over again when they dee how deserted and dead the place was last night so that the conventioneers may see actual Bostonians doing Boston-type stuff before they go home.  At least the fireworks last night were LOUD.  Here in Roslindale, eight miles away, we could hear them as if they were down the street.  On to day two and the sight of Ron Reagan standing before a Democratic National Convention--the ex-gay son of The Great Communicator looking for rational policy in the enemy camp. 

Monday, July 26, 2004

So after a really nice weekend of sightseeing and sex, I kissed the husband good-bye this morning and headed right into the belly of the beast--Boston via route 93 on the first day of the Democratic National Convention. The road has been narrowed down to create an "official vehicles only" lane and the last ten miles into the city were lined with team after team of state police, armed and ready to pull over trucks for inspection before they entered city limits and neared the Fleet Center (Convention site) area. Although billed as "truck inspection," at least half the vehicles being inspected were SUVs. My Jeep Cherokee didn't seem sufficiently sinister to warrant a going over. Traffic was very light, presumably because so many businesses in town had shut down for the week, or were following alternate schedules. The acid test will come this afternoon and tonight when several major roads and tunnels, including 93 itself, are completely closed for the duration of each Convention session.

The Roosevelt house visit has left a big mark on my understanding of the man and the period in our history when he was President. I had known about his cripling by polio, but not about a laundry list of other physical problems he had, unquestionably exacerbated by stress over the Depression and WWII as well as very heavy smoking. He was considered a class traitor for his support of labor unions, his populist stance and for membership in the Democratic Party--he had legions of powerful enemies incensed at his liberal philosophy. Realizing that all he accomplished was in the face of these obstacles threw into even greater relief the idiocy of the extravagant claims being made not so long ago that Ronald Reagan was the greatest President of the 20th century.

John Kerry comes from the same sort of background as Franklin Roosevelt and attended at least one of the same schools. An effort is being made to declare him irrelevant to the experience of most Americans. John Edwards's presence on the ticket will certainly help; but what several of my friends and I are hoping is that Kerry can focus his message during the Convention, take some firm stands that he can hold onto for the duration of the campaing, and make an emotional contact with the mass of the voters. He's going to need that kind of break-out as well as a great deal of strength and determination to survive what I am expecting to be a fircely fought and very dirty campaign.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

We got back tonight from a short but happy trip.  On Friday we arrived in central New Jersey JUST in time for torrential rains, floods, massive traffic tie-ups caused by multiple accidents and general mayhem.  But we pressed on and had a lovely dinner with Fritz's old teacher who remains sharp as a tack and as delightfully outspoken as ever.  I have always loved some of the wonderful place names in New Jersey, like Mah Wah and Ho Ho Kus.  But does any of you have an idea as to the origin of Cheesequake?  If you don't, please feel free to make something up--I think the name is irresistible!
Today we visited the Franklin Delano Roosevelt home in Hyde Park, NY overlooking the Hudson.  The place is fascinating particularly for its modesty given the family's wealth and social prominence.  Roosevelt's father did not believe in vulgar ostentation and although he was a member of the Hudson Valley aristocracy, Franklin Roosevelt grew up a populist and a Democrat, not a Republican. 
The house has very little of his remarkable wife Eleanor in it because his mother Sarah Delano Roosevelt was a dominating old dragon who completely overshadowed Eleanor's presence in the family.  Franklin himself relied on Eleanor, who came into her own first when her husband was Governor of New York and even more as First Lady, the perfect platform for her energies, intelligence and daring.  No mention is made on the tour or in any of the give-away literature that both Franklin and Eleanor had long standing female love interests on the side.  That's a fascinating story that has been told elsewhere and really needs to be included in the "official" Roosevelt history.
Last stop before heading into Boston was Austerlitz, NY.  This is a VERY small village with a surprisingly active and proud Historical Society.  It was an impulse stop, the kind of thing that we love to do and that Fritz classifies with the "See the two-headed calf" attractions that can sometimes turn out to be winners--as this one did.  We had no idea Austerlitz was the home of the famed poet Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Fritz knew her poetry and can quote it at length.  I knew of one play, the anti-war "Aria da Capo," and her libretto to the opera THE KING'S HENCHMAN that had a big vogue in the 1930s but has dropped into obscurity now.  Other than the Pulitzer Prize she was awarded, neither of us knew much about her personal life.  It turns out she was perfectly scandalous in her youth--hell on wheels, actually--during the teens and 20s of the last century, part of the bohemian art and literature crowd that made Greenwich Village in New York City the cradle of Modern Art in the U.S.  Her future brother-in-law Robet Ellis and the French Dadaist painter/sculptor Marcel Duchamp were part of the group that climbed atop the arch in Washington Square in 1917 to declare Greenwich Village an independent Republic.   She was a passionate feminist, peace advocate and social activist, a believer in (and practitioner of) what was then called "free love," an actress in the pioneering Provincetown Players that performed works by Eugene O'Neill, Elizabeth Glaspell and Millay herself, and frequent best-selling author.  Her last years were hard due to addictions developed in the wake of a car accident and several unsuccessful surgeries that followed.  She was just conquering her demons and pulling herself together when she died in 1950.  I'm going to bet that she and Eleanor Roosevelt just loved each other.       

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Those of you who live in the Boston area and get Bay Windows can see the results of the photo shoot by our friend G. on the back page of the Weddings section as of today (July 22-28 issue). In the third of G.'s "Exceptional people. Exceptional portraits." series, I am in the lower left and Fritz in the upper right of the frame. It's a very sweet, intimate portrait and one we both like very much. I called Fritz from the office as soon as I had seen it and told him I had several copies. We've both been out to everyone for ages, of course, but he said, "Well, now we're famous--or infamous!"

The T-shirt I wear in the picture has the Welsh dragon embroidered in rich crimson on a black background. When we spent a week in Wales a year ago I looked all over for a T-shirt with the dragon embroidered on but all I found were printed shirts or ones with those awful rubbery stamped designs, so I passed. Fritz knows how much I like embroidered--even decently done machine embroidery--designs on shirts, so he made one by hand for me for Christmas. He had never embroidered before, blew one shirt completely, tossed it out and started again. The second one turned out beautifully and is now one of my dearest possessions.

We're off for the weekend tomorrow morning to do just a very few things we would have done on our aborted July vacation. We'll visit an old Quaker teacher/mentor of his (now in her mid-90s and going strong) in Southern New Jersey near Philadelphia and then do some sight-seeing in the Hudson Valley.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Last night Fritz and I had a very good free dinner and got to watch our friend B. the Chef at his new job.  He's joined the flagship store of the Domain chain in this area as representative for the British firm that makes Aga Cookers (not stoves, please).  Aga owns Domain and has been making these cookers at the foundry in England where the coke-fired manufacure of cast iron and steel was introduced 302 years ago.  The Aga is one fascinating piece of engineering.

It was invented by a Swedish physicist who had been blinded in a lab accident.  The principle is that regular ovens are bad in that circulating air dries and eventually can burn food.  So the Aga's ovens are solid boxes of cast iron with the superheated air circulating outside them rather than inside.  While not difficult to learn, Aga cooking takes a lot of rethinking because things cook very fast but can then be kept for extended periods of time without losing any quality at all in low temperature holding ovens.  The four ovens are at 450, 350, 250 and 150 degrees respectively.  The top has one big steel warmer plate and two cooking plates that have insulated covers when not in use: one at 700 degrees that brings two quarts of water to a full boil in maybe a minute and a half, and a simmer plate at about 300 degreees.  There are no moving parts to the Aga and no flames for cooking, it self cleans, and is on all the time but uses very small amounts of natural gas or liquid propane because of its superinsulation.  Downside?  It costs about $14,000 and weighs 1300 pounds.  Aga's are constructed in your kitchen from parts sent from the foundry by a specialized technician and they come in a variety of really gorgeous colors.  Included in the price is a large array of cookware sized to the ovens and top plates, and the services of the company in making sure your floor surfaces are sufficient to bear the weight. 
B. was in very good form last night.  A tall, shaved-head, in-shape guy with a charming manner and an earring or two (the tattoos were not on display last night), he is frequently asked if he was the model for the Mr. Clean guy.  The women at the demo last night were just falling all over him and his sales record on the Aga has been very good.  Dinner was roast dilled salmon, chicken breast, fillet mignon, carrots, asparagus, rice, swedish pancakes with blackbury confit and deep dish apple pie, all cooked with almost no effort on the demo cooker.  B. is a very happy guy these days. 

Monday, July 19, 2004

The last couple of days, the quality of the spam I get has improved greatly.  I am now being offered hand-signed Salvador Dali lithographs in a couple of messages a day interspersed with the Cialis/Vicodin/breast and penis enlargement/etc. offers.  Fritz, who had seriously bad trips on Vicodin and decided any amount of pain was preferable, was astonished to hear that it was in such demand and the subject of so much spam.  But when some of our friends got word of his refusal to take the rest of his prescription and began making discrete inquiries as to what he intended doing with the rest of the pills, he began to understand.

The swim at A.'s was extremely pleasant, as they always are.   A. built an earthen dam many years ago at one end of a little ravine on his property through which a stream ran.  He now has a lovely pond with the grassy flat top of the gracefully curved dam providing excellent picnic, sunbathing and socializing space.  We stayed about an hour and a half since Fritz isn't supposed to be out in bright sunlight for a while given the post-operative meds he's on.  So he sat enthroned on a lawn chair, in his wide-brimmed straw planter's hat under an umbrella, looking for all the world like a Moghul Rajah surrounded by a clutch of naked gay men frolicing in the water, eating, gathering around him for chat, etc. (a fair amount of "etc." on this occasion) having a very good time.

Rain last night scrubbed the outdoor Publick Theater's performance of  TROILUS AND CRESSIDA after Shakespeare's second act, which was unfortunate; they've only been able to give three of the first five performances complete due to weather.  Ticket-holders are welcome to come to any other performance without further charge but the week here in Boston looks like rain daily.  I have a close friend, a former student, and an MIT colleague in the cast of what seems a good production of a play that isn't often done for reasons I don't  understand.  It has strongly drawn, original characters.  This production, unlike the movie TROY, does NOT avoid or try to pretty up the Achilles/Patroclus homosexuality, either.  I hope to get back there before the run closes but this week is jammed for me just about every night.  Rare as it is, I've been scenic artist for one TROILUS  and set and costume designer for another during my pleasantly checkered career.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Despite a couple of rogue days here and there, the air in Boston this summer has been cool and low in humidity—absolutely my kind of weather.  It’s a pleasure to get up in the morning fully rested, drape a sarong low around my hips and feel a fresh breeze over my skin.
I wasn’t always so comfortable with my body.  My family was ultra-conservative and very repressed sexually.  PDAs were strictly verboten and commented on with contempt when viewed in others.  I remember as a kid, my mother would walk across a room during a family or other public event and ostentatiously button the second button of my shirt if it happened to be open, right in front of everyone, and then go back to where she had been like the triumphant guardian of public morality.  We won’t even talk about the indoctrination in Catholic School concerning how dirty and shameful bodies were, particularly boys’ bodies, of course, because boys have penises.  Catholic nuns have a pathological fear and hatred of little boys and what they carry hidden on their persons.  Needless to say, my self image and sense of my own body, let alone my own sexuality, were down to just about zero.
It was a terrible, hateful thing to do to a developing human being and while it affected me deeply, I didn’t buckle under to it but fought for years to correct the problem.  I’m beyond it now but I’m still not a person who moves easily and gracefully.  I often have no feeling for the amount of space I take up.  I’m still rather clumsy, tripping over or colliding with things like table corners frequently.  I could and still can dance for hours if it is rock but Fritz is an old Romantic and loves to slow dance.  I could never for the life of me feel comfortable doing that.  Blessedly, he has been making inroads and I know we’re going to dance at the big wedding party in August, but the rhythm of it is just something that I have never been able to feel in my body; I stiffen up and never know just where my feet are supposed to go next.
It was being gay that saved me.  Kicking all the applied and enforced homophobia out of my system, coming out to myself, and beginning to experiment taught me some extremely valuable lessons.  I really wasn’t all that bad looking.  I could be loved wanted for my body, not just my mind. It was a big rush being cruised (still is) and my score card became respectably full.  I became who I was meant to be.  And I wound up with the wonderful life and love I have now.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Another weekend--the summer seems to be going by very quickly.  I discover that Blogger has become a good bit more flexible and user-friendly and that the ability to choose fonts and point sizes is just the tip of the iceberg.  I'll be exploring some other new options, including hot links directly in the body of the blog today.  Oh, and I don't think they quite have the spellcheck function set properly for a blog service--it calls out "blog" and "blogger" as mistakes,  suggesting "bloc" and "blocker"  as the correct words.  Go figure.

Thanks to Eric from We, Like Sheep for introducing me to the photography of Lawrence Grecco:    Grecco is devoted to the beauty of the male body; his work is in the art rather than porn category, and radiates a healthy, joyous eroticism.  One series is devoted to Turkish Oil Wrestling in black and white and pulses with the tension, sweat, bodily contact and electrically charged competition of
great looking men at serious play. 
Latest closure in the security mania for the Democratic National Convention: public swimming pools in the general area of the Convention site.  I swear that curfews can't be far off.
My first trip of the summer to the nude beach on Martha's Vineyard has been scrubbed due to predictions of bad weather on Monday.  The number of  "clothing optional" spaces available within a reasonable drive has been shrinking as prudes invent bogus justifications for closing them, "naturists trample down the dunes and destroy birds' eggs" being the most common.  In point of fact, naturists are among the best friends delicate environments can have.  They almost universally advocate environmentalism and proper care for--wait for it--nature! 

Fortunately, there's a naked swim at A. the ceramicist's pond tomorrow afternoon.  It isn't the ocean, but the
pond and the men who will be there are quite beautiful enough.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

I'm trying out a slightly smaller type size with this post to see if it will lead to a more efficient use of space while still being legible.  Opinions welcome!
The big news here in Boston, now that the proposed anti-same-sex marriage amendment has been humiliatingly defeated in the U.S. Senate, is a pair of swans in Boston's Public Gardens who have been caring for a clutch of nine eggs.  Families would come down to show the happy couple (swans mate for life) and the nest to their children.  The pair was sentimentally dubbed Romeo and Juliet by the media.  But when the gestation period for the expected chicks came and went--and particularly when the swans began kicking the eggs out of the nest and into the pond--some questions began to be asked. 
First of all, nine eggs is a lot of eggs for one female swan to lay.  And clearing the nest of eggs is a sign that the mother swan recognizes they are not fertile.  As in not fertilized by a male swan.  As in there WAS no male swan.  The truth slowly dawned on people that Romeo and Juliet might better have been dubbed Julie and Juliet.  The picturesque pair that half the children of Boston have been taken to coo over is really a fully committed lesbian couple who are now clearing the nest of the unfertilized eggs they both laid, and preparing to get on with their lives.  They could almost serve as the symbol of the new Massachusetts in the era of same-sex marriage.
It would seem that everything possible is being done to insure that the Democratic National Convention  will lose money for the local economy and inconvenience as large a percentage of the population of Boston and surrounding suburbs as possible.  Route 95, the major north-south eact coast highway that passes directly through the city's heart, will be closed form 4pm to 1am the following morning within the city, which we knew, but now sections beyond the closed area will be cut down to two lanes to create even further traffic jamming and inconvenience.  As many people as can are planning to flee the city and stay with friends and relatives out of town.  Whether I elect to decamp for Fritz's for the entire week remains to be seen but it's a distinct possibility.  Preople are even being asked not to order things that would require delivery during the Convention.  I think a bad, bad feeling about this event is going to linger in people's memories for a LONG time. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Happy Birthday to blogger Mark Willix! It's a second day of murky cold and rain in Boston but warm wishes go out to Mark for many happy returns.

Happy Birthday France! It's Bastille Day, marking the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. France is somewhat older than Mark.

On Beacon Hill, GLAD is back in the State House working to support repeal of the 1913 anti-miscegenation law that Governor Romney is using to prevent out-of-state gay and lesbian couples from marrying here in Massachusetts. Because of its close association with racial discrimination in the U.S., this law is thoroughly contemptible and is, of course being used in contemptible manner by the Governor. A suit has been filed by eight out-of-state couples who have had their marriages voided by the Governor who had them hunted down and declared unmarried. Given the Supreme Judicial Court's ruling in favor of gay marriage in general, I hope the 1913 law's days are numbered.

New Hampshire's Governor Benson has given a warm welcome to a group of representatives from Killington, the Vermont town that wants to secede from Vermont and become part of New Hampshire. Killington is a prosperous ski resort town and is discontent with its financial treatment by state government. What's interesting is that Killington sits in almost the exact grographic center of Vermont both north-south and east-west and is nowhere near the state's border with New Hampshire. Should the secession be approved (a long and complicated process capped by a vote in the U.S. Congress) Killington would become an enclave of New Hampshire isolated deep within Vermont.

By a circuitous route of links from site to site, I discovered The Wicked Good Guide to Boston English by Adam Gaffin. Gaffin manages to phoneticize the local accent (which, by the way, bears absolutely NO resemblance to anything spoken by any of the Kennedys) better than anybody I have ever seen.
He gives definitions and variations, and the public weighs in telling him where he's gotten things wrong in their opinion. It's difficult to pin BostonSpeak down because expressions and meanings change from neighborhood to neighborhood, sometimes from parish to parish within neighborhoods. L., a friend of Fritz's and mine, was in Albuquerque, New Mexico at an A.A. meeting when a guy he had never met came up to him and correctly placed him within a particular parish in South Boston. L. was astonished and asked how he had done it. It turned out L. had described something as "way wicked pissah!"
The URL is and is part of a site that has departments on everything Boston.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Am I the only one who believes it's possible to think and to run one's life according to one's own values rather than to be dominated by some gay political imperative? I keep hearing that gay is losing its edge and its fabulous individuality because there's gay marriage now (yeah, in one state and a couple of rogue cities). I have read angry articles and blog entries by gay men swearing that the government will never tell them who they can or cannot have sex with. Hello?

First of all, since when has fidelity EVER been a hallmark of straight marriages? Secondly, when gay men get married, it is THEY who set the tone of the relationship, not the government that marries them, and gay men have always been adventurous and--currently fashionable term--inclusive sexually. Thirdly, I have now been to three gay weddings, one of them my own, and the standard wording about "keeping yourself only unto him," "forsaking all others," etc. hasn't appeared in any of them. It's up to us to define gay marriage as we choose. Massachusetts is going to be the laboratory for a little while. And as in the abortion debate: Don't believe in gay marriage? Don't get married.

What I'm truly sick of is how straight politicians are playing fast and loose with the entire issue for their own political gain. The current debate over the anti-gay marriage amendment in the U.S. Senate is a conservative-fundamentalist farce. They loathe us but don't mind using us to their own advantage. Diane Feinstein, among others, nailed them yesterday for doing this now during campaign time, particularly when they know they have nowhere near the number of votes required. What I'd love to see is the vote be SO lopsided in favor of rejection that they'd not only be defeated, but seriously humiliated into the bargain.

So here's a little story about living your life as you want to and setting your own agendas. K. and G. are good friends of Fritz's and mine. They're celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, love each other deeply and have a famously open relationship through which have passed untold numbers of men. K. came out of the upper plains states where his sisters still wait and pray for him to "change," which they have faith in God can happen anytime K. wants to (after 30 years with G.--some people will NEVER get it). K. is a minister who married one of the seven gay couples whose suit brought us gay marriage in Massachusetts.

G. is an Italian-American good old New England boy and career military officer who invited all the top brass in the area to his and K's 25th anniversary party at the height of "Don't ask, Don't tell"--and they all attended. I asked him how this had been managed. "Honey," he said, giving me a squeeze on the ass, "if you know how to work things and you've got the balls, you can fuckin' do ANYTHING you want." G. most definitely has the balls.

Some time this summer K. and G. will marry and nothing in their lives will change except they will have come one step closer to being fully enfranchised United States citizens. Still gay, still edgy, relationship still wide open, and completely on THEIR terms.

Monday, July 12, 2004

A reader and the owner of the Gay Athiest site (link to the right) asked if the U.S. Armed Forces can really execute a deserter. A very quick web search produced this excerpt from a much larger article:

An excerpt from:
"A Matter of Life and Death: Examining the Military Death Penalty's Fairness"
by Dwight Sullivan (The Federal Lawyer, June 1998) (reprinted with permssion of author)

"Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 15 offenses can be punishable by death, though many of these crimes -- such as desertion or disobeying a superior commissioned officer's orders -- carry the death penalty only in time of war."

It is, of course, a time of war. The death penalty is being used very sparingly by the military these days--the last execution was in 1961 and it was for rape and murder, not desertion. I did come across a provision in the Uniform Code of Military Justice to the effect that sentencing cannot exceed the limits set by the President of the United States, which makes sense as the President is Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. I need hardly mention that George W. Bush was Governor of Texas during a time of some of the most frequent executions in that state's history.

Keeping in mind that the marine in question may well have deserted and that questions have arisen as to whether he was working in concert with persons who may be considered combattants against the U.S., it looks to me as if his case is pretty serious. There was nothing said over the weekend that I heard via the media concerning progress in the interrogation. It will be very interesting to watch this one work itself out.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

I've been watching what might be called "The Case of the Muslim Marine" with a lot of interest and an awareness that it might become a real hot potato politically and morally. When it all looked like a "simple" case of an American being abducted and held for some kind of gain or else executed, it represented a familiar scenario.

Soon, however the fact that the marine is Muslim was announced and that would seem to have trumped the possibility of execution whether he is American or not. But then he arrives by means unknown in Lebanon (that just happens to be his family's country of recent origin) in great health and with no convincing proof of ever having been in the hands of terrorist (er, insurgent) abductors. Word soon spread that the armed forces suspected a hoax to get him out of the Marine Corps and that at the time of his alledged abuction, he was AWOL and possibly a deserter. The alledged abductors also mentioned thay had released him on his promise never to return to the U.S. Military.

After a week or so of fear that this young marine might become the latest to have his head struck off and documented on a home-made video, the possibility arises that he could at some point be court marshalled for desertion which usually carries a sentence of death if convicted. I know that most Americans consider beheading a barbaric practice without any possible justification. It is, however the accepted and traditional form of legal execution in several Islamic countries, our great and good ally Saudi Arabia most prominently. But what would those same Americans make of a firing squad of our own armed forces virtually cutting him in two with a hail of bullets? Cutting in two is cutting in two, whether it's managed by a sword or a dozen rifles. The armed forces, and our administration (clueless as it may be), can hardly be unaware of of the horrid irony that this young man might have been "saved" from death at the hands of Iraqis, only to face the possibility of being shot down at close range by a group of his own comrades-in-arms.

Friday, July 09, 2004

I've been doing alternate days in Boston and at Fritz's this week and the pattern will continue. I have a tour through our design and production building that I have to lead this morning for memebers of the family that originally built it and ran it as an art tile factury and warehouse. I really have no idea whether this is because they are being "developed" as potential donors by the Institute or if we are just being kind. I was asked to give the time by our Associate Provost for the Arts, so it could be for either reason.

Fritz was discharged from the care of the cardiac surgeons yesterday, given a clean bill of health and will now begin a six week cardiac rehabilitation program under the direction of his own doctor. In a sense, it's all over--and we came out the other side safely and together!

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Nothing terribly new or dramatic to report. I returned to Boston yesterday; all day today has been spent gardening and working on the property. Spectacular weather has helped immensely. I'll drive up to Fritz's tomorrow very early so we can breakfast together and get ready for a morning of business in Manchester, NH including the second post-operative exam at the surgeon's.

The Chinese have a belief that if little creatures come from the woods to live in your house it's a blessing. At this point, Fritz's place must be sacred. A family of skunks nested under one wing of the house and the five little skunk kittens have been adorable as they frolic all over the property. A mother snake decided to give birth in the kayak of his resident office manager (who also does all the AIDS education funded by the state for southern New Hampshire). She finally turned the thing over and let them find new quarters. Humming birds are everywhere and a couple of chipmunks have moved into the four cords of firewood we finished stacking in late May. To them, it's just one big apartment house we've provided rent-free.

My favorites are always the dragon flies. The usual smaller ones, some with bright turquoise bodies and others with brilliant chinese red, have been joined this year by a much bigger variety with green bodies and black and white spotted wings with metalic silver veins that sparkle in the sunlight. If you put your finger out as they hover in the air they'll settle right on it.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Lazy day today, cool and rainy. Fritz and I went out to gather rhubarb from his garden this morning and we made 22 jars of rhubarb and ginger preserves. For some reason he's really fatigued today. It could be the rainy day blahs but we'll talk to the surgeon about it Thursday morning when we go in for his next check-up.

We watched the Boston Pops 4th of July broadcast last night. I was very disappointed in it. The first part was shown only in this area. It had moved from ABC to CBS and had a very different format from previous years--less music and a lot of not very interesting interviews with people in the crowd. The orchestra played well and the chorus was fine but the singing was dreadful. David Lee Roth hit maybe one pitch in four and seemed awfully anxious to be Mr. Cute. He sounded really bad to my ears. Jennifer Holliday screamed her way through a couple of numbers. Fritz had seen her in the original production of DREAMGIRLS and loved her. One minute into her first song, he said "what's happened to her VOICE?" The Boston-only segment ended with the 1812 Overture, with the rarely-heard choral parts that I appreciated hearing. I always get a kick out of seeing this hymn to Tsarist Russia used to celebrate the birth of the American Republic.

The national part was a bit better and ended with the Stars and Stripes Forever March and fireworks that were really beautiful. Fritz thinks Kieth Lockhart is still cute but I got over him a while ago. Hope you're all enjoying the weekend.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Thursday night, Fritz and I went to see some of A.'s work that was hanging in a group show at the big museum in Manchester, NH. A., a close friend of Fritz's for a couple of decades and of mine since I came into Fritz's life, was very moved that we had come. He's a dear man, a well-known ceramicist who has been widely exhibited, with works commissioned by major public buildings throughout the region. He lives incredibly simply without electricity and with ecologically-friendly plumbing on a huge piece of property he owns in conservation agreement with the state. He believes passionately in the need to preserve some open land in a state of nature before it is too late, and spends much of what he makes enlarging it when adjacent parcels become available. He gardens extensively and is known as a superb teacher.

Inclusion in the group show (and having been asked to recommend the other artists whose work would be exhibited with his) was A.'s triumphal return to the museum that had quietly dismissed him from giving classes many years ago. He had been called into the director's office and told he had to go because his lifestyle wasn't compatible with the museum's outlook. "Why," he asked astonishedly, "because I don't have electricity and a flush toilet?" No, he was told, because he was homosexual. There had been complaints from students about having to study with a homosexual teacher. No charges or hints of improper behavior of any kind, just the homosexuality itself.

The current administration of the museum had no idea of this history until A. mentioned it in the process of arranging the exhibit, and they were apparently deeply shocked. At last Thursday's opening reception, the welcoming message from the director made special mention of how grateful the museum was to have A. associated with it and how having his work on exhibit honored the museum and the other artists he had hand-picked to exhibit with him. He listened, very proud, with tears in his eyes.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Fritz and I had sex yesterday morning for the first time since his bypass operation. It was the last type of activity he hadn't resumed in some form and it was an area where I completly let him call the shots. I've been pushing a little bit here and there to make sure he does the exercises he's supposed to do, or the daily walking regimen, or the breathing work. But I felt that he had to be ready and feel totally confident within himself before we got back to sex. Yesterday morning, our favorite time of day for it, he made the moves; I was more than ready to respond and it was very lovely. There was nothing tentative, no holding back. We're both vigorous, outgoing men and those qualities are reflected in our lovemaking. We didn't talk about it afterwards. We didn't need to. We just lay holding each other for an extended period of time feeling each other breathe, listening to each other's heartbeats, communicating through touch and love alone.

There is a heavy strain of philosophy that equates sex with death. It crops up in Elizabethan plays, in the French expression for sex "La petite mort," in a lot of literature--and in the homophobic world's view of gay men during the AIDS crisis. I think this is a monstrous perversion. I have felt for a very long time that sex is a huge celebration of life. I don't mean because sex between heterosexuals can lead literally to a new living person. I mean that sex itself, and sex between men in particular, is a spiritual as well as physical act. a ritual celebrating and reaffirming life in the most personal and joyous of terms. Yesterday morning for us, two men who could so easily have lost each other in an ambulance or on an operating table, sex was the return of life in the spring, and the capstone of the healing process.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Having just mentioned Annie Lennox's appearance in the film EDWARD II, I was delighted to see her on the Today Show this morning performing in the Rockefeller Center Plaza. Fritz, who didn't know her, was struck by her face, the chic very tailored man-style pinstripe suit she was wearing and her willowy, elegant stance. I was a little disappointed when she sang. We weren't too impressed by the songs she had chosen and time has worn some of the ease and vibrance of tone off her voice. She mentioned touring the U.S. with Sting and my knees went JUST a little weak. I have always loved Sting, his music and that intoxicating scent of testosterone that wafts through wherever I happen to be while he's singing on the radio or, better, the TV. Annie is still a great pro, and she has plenty left; I bet they sound great together.

It's no secret that MY music is classical symphonic and opera and has been since I was a very small boy. Given that, I have really enjoyed a lot of rockers, mostly those who have strong vocal profiles and who can really sing. John Fogerty and Robert Palmer, hard driving and sexy (along with Sting, do we see a pattern here?), have always been favorites of mine. Billy Joel, also. And Mick. I really love Mick--he'll still be out there shaking it when they're trying to nail down the lid.

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