My first day proved surprisingly botanical with a long stroll through scenic Prospect Park. I enjoyed Frederick Law Olmsted's other masterpiece, Central Park, on my last NYC visit in 2012.
Prospect Park is of course much smaller, but retains that balance of natural and tarted up landscaping. Open fields echoed with the joyful screeches of packs of school children at recess, and a lone reader under a huge elm (or oak?) proved the tranquility of the park.
|Prospect Park serenity|
Of course, my own modern curiosity about plants and trees could have been solved with a few apps, including Leaf Snap and Plant Net. The phone apps let you take a photo of a plant or tree leaf and it identifies the species.
Plants of all types were identified by small nameplates throughout the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, which are adjacent to the western edge of Prospect Park. This highly manicured park includes a rose garden, Japanese mini-lake and landscaping that's beautiful.
|Prospect Park swans|
|Brooklyn Botanical Gardens|
Also, the museum isn't as crowded as Manhattan venues, and I often had many minutes alone in a room. I got to contemplate the beauty of several classic works, and discover new ones as well.
|a Chagall at the Brooklyn Museum|
|Book of the Dead scrolls|
|John Koch's the Sculptor|
One of my favorite surprises was seeing the large homoerotic lesser known classic, gay painter John Koch's The Sculptor. Along with a Henri Fantin-Letour and a few Monet's, another favorite was Sanford Biggers' "Blossom," a playing piano with a tree growing out of it.
And I also discovered a long time favorite, a smaller version of Antoine Bourdelle's Archer hidden away in the glass cases of the fascinating Visible Storage Room, where works not on display are, well, still on display in glass cases.
|Nowhere Bar pals|
Friday night included dinner at Elmo with friend Adam B., who's a New York native and former San Franciscan. It was great to catch up, and the food was delish. A post-dinner text lured us to the East Village for Witch Camp at Nowhere Bar, where we hung out with SFers Ken White and Marc Freeman, and former SFer-now New York singing sensation Justin Vivian Bond. I even got a surprise smooch from a cute young Swiss hunk!
|Don't mess with Papaya Dog!|
|Mickey & Minnie (who got in a fight)|
Times Square itself gave me a sudden case of the icks as I emerged from the 42nd Street subway. I snapped a few photos, photo-bombed a group snap session with the Naked Cowboy (who isn't naked), then diverted my path from the tourist hordes around the Hard Rock Cafe. Even when I lived in New York City, the area was not a place I often visited. Although more pedestrian-friendly with its central parklet, the entire area was too crowded. I did get a snap of Mickey Mouse and Minnie, who only days later was arrested for brawling with a Hello Kitty character.
|Darren Criss in Hedwig|
The Tony-winning Broadway revival of John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask's transgender rock musical is a favorite among LGBT fans, and deservedly so. Adding Criss as the star in this edition only made it more fun. With contemporary inside-Broadway jokes, and a few Criss-specific one-liners, he embodied the role and obviously had fun. Near front-row audience members like myself got an up-close view of his antics, including spits of bottled water, a lap dance and some bawdy face-licking. The woman whom he slurped that night may never recover!
|Darren Criss signs Playbills|
I got a half-minute of chat time with Criss, mentioning how much I enjoyed his Fillmore band show last year. Although an admitted super-fan, I wasn't as obsessed as the lovely pair of young women standing next to me. They'd trekked all the way from Ottawa to see the show on four successive nights!
|Kelly McQuain, Matthew Hittinger, Paul Lisicky, Dean Kostos, Jim Provenzano|
After a bit of strolling around the gayborhood of Center City, and a brunch where we surprisingly met and dined with author Mark Merlis and his husband, Five for Philly, the group reading I organized at Philly AIDS Thrift at Giovanni's Room commenced. Poets Kelly McQuain, Dean Costos, and Matthew Hittinger read selections, as did myself and author Paul Lisicky.
|Tom Mendicino, Philip F. Clark, John Weir|
Lammy, Lammy, fo Fanny
|Jerry Wheeler, Jim Provenzano, Philip F. Clark|
Returning to the imposing Cooper Union brought a flood of memories. The last time I'd been inside the building was at the early 1990s meetings of ACT UP. So many years ago, and so many lives lost since then. The reception included chats with Michelangelo Signorile, my co-finalist Lloyd Meeker, prolific editor-author Jerry Wheeler, and many others.
|Gloria Steinem and Alan Cumming|
Two authors from the San Francisco finalist reading at the SF Public Library back in April did win, however. Katie Gilmartin's Blackmail, My Love (Gay Mystery) and Abdi Nazemian's The Walk-In Closet (LGBT Debut Fiction) took honors, as did many others that I've read or heard were exceptional.
|Michelangelo Signorile and Janet Mock|
The after-party down in SoHo at the Scholastic Books rooftop greenhouse provided time to mingle with Ron Suresha and many new acquaintances, each a literary veteran or newbie. What energized me most at the awards was the enthusiasm the young writers and their friends offered, with whoops of approval.
This Metro US write-up includes the finalists as well as winners.
|Message of Love's moment at the Lammys|
Celebrate authors and books. That's the simplest message of book love.