Saturday, March 11, 2017

Flirting With History, Browsers and Other Kinds

What is the legacy you want to leave behind? As a person, you can hope your family will remember you. As an artist, you usually hope for a little more. If you're ambitious, you crave a lot more.

I began to reconsider this question as I walked from The Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco this week. I was among several hundred lucky people who got to see the first open dress rehearsal of the mega-hit musical Hamilton. We didn't have to pay, because the production wanted an audience to warm them up for their extensive run.

Before the show began, Director Thomas Kail introduced himself, and asked us not to Tweet or Facebook or Instagram our experiences. Because offering opinions about a show before it opens is just bad form.

But Kail also expressed that the experience of seeing this live production (a beautiful one, by the way, but don't mistake that for a review) was a shared experience that cannot be recreated through social media.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Parks & Wreck: Trump edicts defy logic, GOP intent on destroying planet

You can tell a lot about a person by what they try to destroy.
That is what they fear.

Women. Children. Veterans. Artists. Muslims. Mexicans. Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Gypsies, Trans people, Syrians. Park Rangers, astronauts, First Nations, and the very air we breathe.

Where did it start, the unraveling of Drumpfiana? When they tried to shut up park rangers, after the wall, before the wall, the animated gif of him scowling at Melania.
What will stop him? RogueNASA, Sanctuary Cities,  altEverythingNotTrump?

Grants cut. Climate change silenced, yet sprouted up again in a thousand tweets by Badass Park Rangers.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Call and Irresponsibility: Online Censorship and Attacks on Gay Authors

As we dive butt-first into a new year, I was going to repost one of the lovely retro New Year's Eve scenes from my past two books, Every Time I Think of You and Message of Love

But you'll have to check my older posts, or read the books themselves, to enjoy those. It's not that I'm being cautious, but more justifiably outraged by the level of Orwellian idiocy now taking place when authors dare to share their political views.

The simple act of publishing one's thoughts and opinions these days has taken on an absurd level of what I term 'call and irresponsibility.'

Author Kevin Sessums achieved headline news when his post critiquing Trump supporters was only hours later deleted, and his use of Facebook withheld by the bot-like underlings of the social media behemoth.

An excerpt of Sessums comments:
“Matthew Dowd who holds Trump and his followers to the standards of any other politician and hers. But as those who do hold Trump to the standards of any other person have found out on Twitter and other social media outlets these Trump followers are a nasty fascistic lot. Dowd is lucky he didn’t get death threats like Kurt Eichenwald. Or maybe he did and refuses to acknowledge them. If you voted for Trump and continue to support him and you think you are better than these bigoted virulent trolls, you’re not. Your silence enables them just as it did in the racist campaign that Trump and Bannon ran. In fact, hiding behind a civilized veneer in your support of fascism I consider more dangerous. We’re past describing you as collaborators at this point. That lets you off the hook. You’re Russo-American oligarchical theocratic fascists.”

Saturday, December 10, 2016

I Know Where I've Been: Finding Inspiration in Difficult Times

How do we find inspiration to make art in difficult times? What kind of art should we make when our lives are being disrupted by the most absurd and clearly corrupt election in decades? What should be our response?

It's been raining nearly every day and night here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I've not gone out as much as I usually do, and turning it all off to watch a movie or read a book has become a sort of conscious avoidance.

Usually, rainy days and nights are a great inspiration to stay in and be creative. I did some of that; sorted, filed and photographed all of my visual art (yes, I do that, too), refiled manuscripts and research files, and even converted a few old VHS tapes of my dance and performance works to DVDs.

But doing administrative work is not creating work. And as the rain continues, despite the ecologic good it's doing for our drought-ridden state, the rain feeds my sense of dread.

One of the many attempts to 'keep hope alive' phrases written by my fellow artists and gay activists goes along the lines of 'We survived Reagan and Bush. We will survive this."

Well, actually, many didn't survive. Unlike millions of stupid Trump voters (and 'protest voters' for Jill Stein or the absurdly inane Gary Johnson), I remember where we've been. 

Hundreds of thousands died of AIDS under Reagan and Bush 1's regimes, and thousands of U.S. military and more than a million Iraqis died under Bush II's illicit regime, including those lost on 9/11, due to Bush/Cheney's negligence (or culpability). So I don't really feel that gung ho spirit that others espouse.

Eric Arvin
In other sad news, on top of all the talented celebrities dying this year, one of my author colleagues, Eric Arvin, who has been bed-ridden and incapacitated after a brain injury, is basically about to die, since his latest round of medications are not working. 

Arvin's books have been a great inspiration. I reviewed a few, and he blurbed my Lambda Literary Award winner Every Time I Think of You five years ago.

While it's true that loss, and pain, and repressive politics have of course inspired many authors, it's not so easy to create while you're experiencing it.

We're in a very fragile state right now. As quoted in a LitHub article with 22 authors discussing Trump (before the election), writer George Saunders says, "I’ve never before imagined America as fragile, as an experiment that could, within my very lifetime, fail. But I imagine it that way now."


Author John Irving, wrote, "I don’t take what Trump says seriously, but I am seriously worried about the number of people who are as angry, as ignorant, as misinformed or shallowly informed as he is."

As I wrote before, I was rather declarative about distancing myself from such people as potential readers. A few have popped up, with poorly written critiques of a few of my books, each one glaringly ignorant of my work and its themes, purpose and style.

So, are we now supposed to placate such Deporables in the arts? Will Chachi and Chuck Norris make a comeback? Will Ted Nugent play at the Inauguration?


Monday, November 21, 2016

Artists on the Frontlines

People are comparing our situation through less than subtle artistic interpretations this week, from revamped comics to musicals. And music acts are singing their sympathies for those horrified by the new regime.

Who hasn't recently re-shared  famous "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" from Cabaret? Some are recommending dystopian classics like The Handmaid's Tale, no longer a cautionary tale, but an accurate prediction.

Perhaps you watched, or refused to watch them, because it's happening in real life, which perhaps relegates musical theatre metaphors of fascism to the redundant file.

Or, more more immediately, you hopefully watched the zillion-shared video of Victor Dixon, on behalf of the cast of Hamilton addressing the retreating VP-elect Pence, who had been booed during his attendance of the hit musical about, ironically, a lefty radical vice-president. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Politics in the Pages

I once served Donald Trump dinner while a cater waiter in the 1980s, at The Frick Mansion, I recall, and in retrospect, it was the lowest day of my employed life. He didn't even clean his plate; total loser.

The arrogant, bigoted, serial adulterer and now-Republican presidential candidate –update: President-elect– was at the time one of New York City's many bloated egos of metropolitan life, and a mere casual mention in my second novel, Monkey Suits. The book's main nemesis, as covered in a previous post, was a hybrid of closeted millionaire Malcolm Forbes and sinister writer and homophobe William F. Buckley, Jr.

Trump was just a sidebar, a boldface in the gossipy style of that book. I never could have imagined that we'd get to where we are today, mere hours from a presidential election where Hillary Clinton, a woman with decades of political experience, (update) won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College, against Trump, a bankrupt (financially and morally), bloviating serial lying asshole of preposterous proportions.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Forty Wild Crushes: "I love this book."

Forty Wild Crushes won a 2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention! Here are two mini-reviews from the anonymous judges:

"It is so easy to read, sympathize with, laugh with and at times laugh at, yet still admire the author-narrator of these 16 very varied stories that I wasn't aware until I was done with the book how beautifully linked they are and what a many-faceted jewel it is. Has any one made a funeral more human or funny? Has any one ever had a cult-movie crush like this?"

"I love this book. He writes beautifully. Draws characters beautifully. Has a strong mastery of narrative. I want to read more of him."

http://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/4836791.html

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Judging a Book by its Cover: Rainbow Awards' best...and some others that aren't

The book cover for my new short story collection, Forty Wild Crushes, is among the many, many candidates for the Rainbow Awards annual competition. Please vote for mine, which features an original painting by Kenney Mencher, a Palo Alto-based artist.

The contest is run by the prolific blogger, book reviewer and author Eliza Rolle. Her books include the encyclopedic yet totally readable Days of Love, which chronicles the lives of hundreds of LGBT couples though history.

Along with reviewing many books, (including a few of mine), Rolle also runs the annual multi-category Rainbow Awards, which generates a lot of attention for the many LGBT-themed books published each year.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Medals or Bullets: possible fates in fiction vs. reality

While many readers of my last two novels have asked for a third companion piece about the later lives of Reid Conniff and Everett Forrester, I have yet to write so much as a sentence of such a project. But with historic and contemporary events reflecting what could be parts of their lives, the ideas keep forming like distant clouds. And by noticing current events, the fate disabled character Everett could be become one of either athletic glory or fatality from the end of a police gun.


First the Paralympics return, following the Rio, Brazil Olympics. Already, controversies have begun.
 
The Brazilian edition of Vogue magazine published photos of two soap opera stars that had been Photoshopped to make them look like amputees.

In ads for the Rio Paralympics, able-bodied models were hired, and then their limbs were Photoshopped to make them resemble amputees. This MetroNews article explains.