Sunday, December 24, 2006

Season Lights

Shabbat and Hanukkah
Hanukkah is over. The last night was Friday night. We kindled candles almost every night with either family or friends. E collects latke recipes and makes last least two different kinds every night. This year included the following:

- Basic potato latkes
- Ricotta Cheese latkes
- Wild Rice and Vegetable latkes
- Rice & Cheese Latkes
- Cod Latkes
- Tuna Latkes
- Apple Latkes
- Spinach, Zucchini & Potato Latkes
- Carrot, Sweet Potato & Apple Latkes
Cosmopolitans and candles
Cosmopolitans and candles

E’s ex-wife, E-W, is doing amazing well. I would have never thought one would have brain surgery on December 2nd to have a benign tumor the size of a lemon removed, discharged from the hospital four days later and then leave on a Caribbean cruise 20 days later.

We are off to celebrate Christmans Eve and Day with various families. Also, we are planning on seeing Dreamgirls on Christmans Day. Already we seen four movies since the holiday break started.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Peace of Mind

The last month has been crazy. We both have been very busy with work, especially E. His consulting work went from a career low of zero billings in September to more work then he can handle. Another stress inducing item we tackled had to do with the disposing of the contents of a house. After being on the market for seven months with very little activity, the family beach house suddenly sold with a cash sale and short close. All the furniture, furnishings and stuff had to be removed. Other than appliances the buyer wanted none of it. E and I spent three weekends packing it up and arranging for movers and seeing that everything was disbursed to various family maters, sold, given away or thrown out.

synapses in the brain
But the most troubling situation was the health of one of our extended family members. E’s Ex-Wife (E-W) had a benign brain tumor removed at the beginning of December. It wasn’t diagnosed until the last days of November. Prior to that, it was thought that the change in her behavior was caused by stress or another minor physical ailment (female bladder issues). When her physical and mental health started to rapidly diminish, the big diagnostic tests were brought in and an MRI of her brain showed a lemon sized tumor pressing on her brain. The operation was a success and a full recovery is expected.

E-W is an amazing woman. Not only is she bright, beautiful and active, she has been extremely understanding and supportive of E’s coming out and our getting together. During the last four years, they have been more “best friends” rather then “ex-spouses”. We have spent a lot of time in the last few weeks helping E-W and her new husband with a number of tasks. At times, we seem to be communication central … the go to place for friends and family to get information on her health. After months of concern and failing health, it is a great relief to see her on the mend.

Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDS Day, missing artists

A year ago I wrote briefly of my friend David who died of AIDS in the late 1980’s. Over the last year I have thought of him and several other friends and co-workers who have died too early in life from AIDS. I assembled the following biographical information from obituaries, theatre programs and newsletters I had in my files. All these men died before the internet became pervasive. There is little to nothing about them and their lives out there. They were all wonderful artists that contributed enormously to theatre in the South Bay. Here is a brief summary of the work of David DeLong, David Lemos, Ken Holamon, Jeffery Struckman and Peter David Heth.

David A. DeLong died October 15, 1987. He was 36. David was a noted member of the San Jose theatrical community and a prominent activist in local gay causes. For five seasons David worked as a publicist and in several other administrative positions for San Jose Repertory Company (now San Jose Repertory Theatre). David directed a critically acclaimed production of Streamers in downtown San Jose in 1986 for City Lights Theatre. The play was about a gay soldier being harassed in an Army barracks during the Vietnam War. He also directed a San Jose production of Pinter's The Birthday Party.

In 1981 he began writing for Lambda News. His newspaper columns promoted local and gay-oriented arts and entertainment as well as events at Billy DeFrank Community Center. He was instrumental in the establishment of a gay community newspaper in the South Bay called “Our Paper”.

David was a graduate of Ohio Dominican College in Columbus and earned a master’s degree in theatre at Villanova University. He founded and managed Cupola Theatre Company in the 1970s, an alternative theater, in Columbus, Ohio. Later he earned his Actors Equity union card at a summer professional theatre.

David Lemos died in August 17, 1995 at age 38. He was born October 14 th, 1956. David was a co-founder (along with James Reber) and the first producing artistic director of San Jose Repertory Company (now San Jose Repertory Theatre). For the Rep's first seven seasons, he chose and cast its plays and hired all the directors and designers. He also directed ten plays for San Jose Rep. (Tartuffe, The Shadow Box, The Dining Room, What I Did Last Summer, Quilters, Godspell, Very Last Lover of the River Cain, Cyrano de Bergerac, To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, and YUP!) He also did a couple scenic design for the theatre as well: Godspell, and The Dining Room. He left the Rep in 1987.

He went on to write and direct “Remember My Name”, a theatre piece about the AIDS quilt for the NAMES Project. A story in the Bay Area Reporter said: “David Lemos was moved by the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt to write the play "More Than Names." The play debuted at the New Playwrights' Theater in Washington, DC. (It was nominated “Best New Play 1989” by the Helen Hayes Awards in Washington. In a later revision David renamed it “Remember My Name”.) He began writing the play in December 1987 on the day he saw the quilt for the first time. The first name he saw was that of David DeLong, his former publicist. The play gave him a way to honor his friend and colleague David DeLong and a way to support the NAMES Project. When David Lemos began reading the letters that people sent in with the quilt panels, he realized there was something to be learned from the way people were dealing with all the grief. "The quilt is responding to people's needs, and I wanted a play that could do that, as well", he said. The plot centered on the idea of making a quilt and bringing it to the nation's capitol. Lemos says the action moved back and forth in time, to capture "someone reflecting on someone's death, someone having an anniversary celebration a year before they died, and a mother talking about what life is like now."

He worked for the NAMES Project as chapter development coordinator, chapter managing director and executive director. His final job was director of development for Greenpeace USA.

David was born in Los Angeles and graduated from Loyola High School. He attended the College of the Queen of Peace, a Jesuit seminary in Santa Barbara, and then transferred to Santa Clara University, from which he graduated in 1980 with a degree in theatre. At Santa Clara University he taught classes in musical staging, theory of show choreography, and TV/film writing. He was an accomplished choreographer and a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.

David also had a couple screen roles before his second birthday. He and his twin brother played the children of Spartacus and were give an on-screen bath by Jean Simmons in the epic “Spartacus.” Shortly after, they had a brief appearance in “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

Ken Holamon succumbed from AIDS complications on January 9, 1993, at the age of 45. Ken was the resident scenic designer/artist for American Musical Theatre of San Jose (formerly San Jose Civic Light Opera or SJCLO) and many other theatre companies including San Jose Repertory Theatre (hired by David Lemos) and Opera San Jose. Ken also served as resident scenic consultant for San Diego Starlight Musical Theatre. He designed 28 shows for AMTSJ between 1980 and 1993 and a dozen productions for Opera San Jose. His designs and research were housed at AMTSJ’s Holamon Research Library of Theatrical Design. [American Musical Theatre of San Jose/San Jose Civic Light Opera closed it doors suddenly in December 2008. I have been told that the entire library has been relocated to Santa Clara University where Ken taught for a number of years. This theatrical resource of theatre history and design was preserved to be used by theatre teachers, designers and artists in the community.]

A native of Arkansas, Ken attended Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana and Memphis State University in Tennessee. During this time, he met Orlin and Irene Corey, the founders of Everyman Players, which he later joined. Many of Ken’s early designs can be found in the book, Odyssey of Masquers: The Everyman Players by Orlin Corey. The book tells the story of the Everyman Players, a legendary regional theatre troupe from 1957-1980. It includes 150 photographs with 48 pages of color photography featuring the plays The Book of Job, Romans by Saint Paul, The Pilgrim's Progress, Esther and many more.

Ken received a M.F.A. from New York University and taught at several Eastern universities. Before moving to California, Ken was a freelance designer in New York City both on and off Broadway. His credits include such notable projects as Katherine Hepburn’s A Matter of Gravity, Irene Worth’s Sweet Bird of Youth and Gower Champion’s ill-fated Rockabye Hamlet. He also designed sets for the touring production of Peter Pan that starred Sandy Duncan. Ken designed summer stock productions at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, CA, before working at AMTSJ. He was also a teacher on the faculty at Santa Clara University. Ken was a member of the United Scenic Artists. He viewed himself, first and foremost, as a communicator and collaborator.

Ken won numerous design awards from Drama-Logue (a weekly west-coast theatre trade publication), the Bay Area Critics Association and the San Jose Fine Arts Commission. He wrote his own adaptation of Victor Herbert’s Babes in Toyland (published by Anchorage Press, 1988) that premiered in Dallas and is still performed in theatres around the country. The production featured all of the glorious music and fabulous fantasy characters of the classic Victor Herbert creation, in a bright contemporary version ideal for children and youth theatre companies.

Local design credits for American Musical Theatre of San Jose include: Phantom, Follies, Evita, Hello Dolly!, The King and I, Camelot, Cabaret, Chess, Assassins, Sweeney Todd, Pacific Overtures, Annie, On the Town, Guys & Dolls, They're Playing Our Song, Sweet Charity, George M!. (Links to design renderings.) He also directed a production of Kiss Me Kate at AMTSJ in 1983 and played Merlin in the 1984 production of Camelot. The majority of Ken's stage creations included a design trademark of a bird cage nestled into the scenery somewhere. For a cash strapped production of Two Gentlemen of Verona in 1984, Ken designed a set that only cost $1,200 by reusing and pulling everything in the shop including a radiator ripped off the wall. At the time of his death he had just completed work on Sondheim's Assassins.

Opera San Jose scenic designs: Albert Herring, Vanessa, L ‘Ormindo, Hotel Eden, West of Washington Square, The Medium, Tartuffe, The Pearl Fishers, The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, Phaedra.

San Jose Repertory Theatre scenic designs: Very Last Lover of the River Cane, Strange Snow, The Servant of Two Masters, The Country Girl, The Miracle Worker, School for Scandal.

Peninsula Civic Light Opera (now Broadway by the Bay) scenic design: Best Little Whore House in Texas.

Jeffrey Struckman died in February 12, 1995 at age 38. He was known for his vivid scenic and costume designs for San Jose Repertory Theatre and other companies as well. He has designed at American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, Sacramento Theatre Company, Mark Taper Forum in LA, and Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and the Shakespeare Festivals of California, San Francisco and Berkeley. He also designed for The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Milwaukee Rep, the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, StageWest in Springfield, MA., Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge MA, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, St. Louis Municipal Opera, and Theatre Project Company in St. Louis.

Jeff was born (11/4/56) in St. Louis and was educated at Webster University. In 1979 the American College Theater Festival at the Kennedy Center gave him an award for Theatrical Design Excellence. Jeff was also noted for his jewelry designs that he worked on in his spare time.

He was art director for opening ceremony of the Tenth Pan American Games (1987) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A description of the Opening Ceremonies: "The Games opened on 8 August with the most lavish Opening Ceremony in Pan American Games history. The Walt Disney Co. was hired to produce a 2-hour extravaganza, "The Magic That's America". 6000 volunteers, a 20,000 person card section, 80 Disney characters and a 1027 piece marching band participated at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway." Another Disney project he designed included “Skylaidescope” at Walt Disney World (EPCOT Center's World Showcase Lagoon, 1985-88). This show used boats, kites, and daytime fireworks. Some of the boats were made to resemble dragons. Jeff also worked on several commercials.
In 1986 Jeff moved to the Bay Area and immediately established a relationship with the San Jose Repertory Theatre. For San Jose Rep he did both Scenic & Costumes designs for: Toys in the Attic, 1940’s Radio Hour (won the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award 1994) , The Seagull, The Baby Dance, The Rainmaker, The Unexpected Guest, All My Sons.

Scenic designs at San Jose Rep: On the Verge, The Mousetrap, Fences, The School for Wives, The Geography of Luck (design rendering), Talley’s Folly, A Streetcar Named Desire.

Costume designs at San Jose Rep: Harvey, The Little Foxes (won Drama - Logue Critics Award 1991), The Glass Menagerie, A Day in Hollywood-Night in Ukraine, Dracula, Arms and the Man.

He also designed costumes for Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s Julius Caesar, Measure for Measure and Antony and Cleopatra and monumental scenic designs for The Rape of Tamar.

Costume designs at Berkeley Shakespeare Festival’s Julius Caesar, and playful drag beauty queen costumes for Pageant at the Post Street Palace Theatre. He co-designed various supper club-type gowns for a revue called Broadway Babies that played at the Plush Room Cabaret in S.F. 1995. He designed the cartoon cutout sets used in Jump Cuts for the New Pickle Circus. He also designed the set for Ain't Misbehavin' at TheatreWorks.

Jeff designed costumes and sets for Omaha Theater Ballet's 1993 rendition of The Nutcracker. It featured Art Deco sets and glamorous Hollywood fashions from the 1920's. He also created costumes for Mark Taper Forum production of Julius Caesar in '91.

Bay Area Reporter’s obituary noted, “Jeff lived every moment of every day. He was a multitude of characters who brought out the childlike, playful energy in everyone they met. Halloween won’t be the same without Taffy Sinclair or Jeff’s equally charming Road Warrior.”

Jeff's parents established the Jeffrey Struckman Memorial Endowed Scholarship to honor the memory of their son at his alma mater, Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University in St. Louis, MO. The scholarship is awarded to a full-time, third or fourth year student majoring in theatre with an emphasis in costume or scene design.

Peter David Heth died at the age of 48 in August of 1984. Peter was one of the early casualties of AIDS. He was a director, designer and actor. At American Musical Theatre of San Jose (formerly San Jose Civic Light Opera or SJCLO) he designed costumes for 14 shows and directed five productions. He was SJCLO’s resident costume designer and supervised the costume rental program. In 1981, he was honored for his work on Hello Dolly! with a design award presented by the San Jose Fine Arts Commission. [American Musical Theatre of San Jose/San Jose Civic Light Opera closed it doors suddenly in December 2008.]

Prior to coming to SJCLO, Peter was Senior Costume Designer for Eaves-Brooks Costume Company in New York. His many varied works have included elephant blankets for the Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey Circus and the costumes for the film versions of Goodbye Girl and The Wiz. He was an accomplished actor and received the 1981/82 TheatreWest Award for Outstanding Actor where he appeared in I Love My Wife, and The Ritz (actor).

SJCLO/AMTSJ artistic credits include: The Music Man (one of the last shows he designed), Annie Get Your Gun (director/designer); Fiddler on the Roof, South Pacific, Brigadoon (director); Hello Dolly! (actor/designer). Costumes for: Cabaret, Sweet Charity.

Peninsula Civic Light Opera (now Broadway by the Bay): Costume designer for Man of LaMancha, Annie, Fiddler on the Roof (photos).

Production design Tokens: A Play on the Plague (1985) produced by Blake Street Hawkeyes, Mixed Bag Productions and Whoopi Goldberg in association with Theater Artaud. The story, written by David Schein, was about the 1665 Great Plague in London.

Peter was also co-founder and director of Staircase Theatre in Soquel, CA 1972-1979.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Family holiday

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with all six kids and several guests. E made a bountiful, kid-friendly turkey dinner for 10 with plenty of leftovers. This was the first time since our wedding that all the kids were together. The older kids are always doing something somewhere. It made for a very special day for us to have them all here. The four oldest kids are in college and the two youngest are in grade school.
Thanksgiving 2006
Thanksgiving 2006
The rest of the holiday weekend was quite a jumble of activities. We attended a friend’s Bat Mitzvah and party, made a couple trips to the family beach house to pack and move stuff. The house has been sold and we need to be out by mid-December.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I had a dream

Last night I dreamed I was in living in a musical. I was traveling in a car with Effie Melody White, one of the main characters from the musical Dreamgirls. We were driving back to her family’s home for Thanksgiving dinner. She had a driver and we were sitting in the back seat talking about how it is sometimes hard to go back and visit families. When we arrived at her parent’s small house it was filled with relatives. Some of them were happy to see her. But most didn’t know quite what to do or react because all knew that her parents did not approve of her having a singing career in the big city. The tension was thick. But Effie was proud of what she had accomplished. She was not going to let dismissive views of her pull her down. She was there to pay her respects to her family and enjoy the company of her extended family. In the dream, I remember thinking that this is one of themes that will resurface later when Effie sings the show stopping song, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going". And then I woke up. The scene is not in the musical. It is more likely from a group meal scene from “The Color Purple” or “Dessa Rose”. Both shows I have seen in the last six months.

Oh man, am I anticipating the movie Dreamgirls opening in December or what?

From the 1982 Tony Awards with Jennifer Holliday:


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Cheap Seats

We attend some sort of theatre production at least once a week. Sometimes it is as many as four times a week. That’s not counting when we are on vacation such as when we saw 11 shows in 8 days in NYC this last July or when we were in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival a year ago and saw 25 performances in 7 days.

Want to know the secret for seeing and affording all these local shows? Discount tickets from a marvelous on-line service. We are members of Goldstar Events. It is free to register. You can buy the tickets in advance. This is not a “day of performance discount” like TKTS or other stand in line and see what is left when you get to the box office counter. Instead Goldstar Events sends us a weekly email of performances available for half price in our area. We have been using the service for several years and love it. Even the service fee is a bargain. It is only a couple of bucks unlike Ticketmaster which charges ridiculous amounts of money.

I believe the company started on the West Coast. In the San Francisco and San Jose area they have dozens and dozens of performances available at any one time. Plays, musicals, concerts, dance, sporting events, lectures and spas are all listed. I have seen listings for Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas. They also offer events in Chicago, DC Metro and have just added New York and Boston.

Another good source of discount tickets in the Silicon Valley is Artsopolis. Run by the Arts Council of Silicon Valley, it also offers half price tickets available with an e-mail registration. Their site also says that the Artsopolis network is also available in Pheonix, Houston, Denver, South Bend and Grand Forks.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rocky Top - Trip to Tennessee

Paris, TN
Sometimes, returning home brings more pleasant surprises than anticipated. Certainly this happened to us as we went to Tennessee to visit E's mom.

Neither of us was really looking forward to this trip. Tennessee is a state that only seems to have bad news coming from it from a gay and progressive standpoint. After all, it is Bush's favorite place to go whenever he wants a morale boost. E's mom was even concerned about our coming because she was afraid that two gay men in E's hometown of Paris (pop., 10K) might not be welcomed at all (although Paris is the home of Tony award-winning actress and very out lesbian, Cherry Jones).

Anyway, we arrived on a Friday night in Nashville, where we were scheduled to spend the night before driving the 100 miles westward to Paris. We were totally delighted to find a wonderful group of gay establishments near our downtown hotel. We had drinks at TRIBE -- a huge, multi-faceted bar with several different venues (sitting rooms with couches, large bar area, tables on a balcony, large video room (with great musical videos played at a volume where you could still talk), and a non-smoking bar area. Even more surprising, Tribe includes a really great restaurant called RED where we had a wonderful meal at reasonable prices sitting among tables of gay couples and groups. TRIBE serves also a mixture of gays and lesbians and some hip heteros, a mixture we rarely see in SF.

After dinner, we went next door to the equally fun PLAY, a two-story club where the top floor has a stage and a parade of drag queens belting it out (and many were REALLY good) to an audience of gays and heteros. Down below was a great dance club, with many cute boys of all races (another great surprise in Nashville) along with some more hetero couples who seemed right at home with the guys.

We had a fantastic evening and stayed from about 6 p.m. until 3 a.m. when we capped of the evening with several ‘gutbombs’ from Krystal hamburger restaurant. Who would have thought??

We also visited the large and well stocked GLBT bookstore Outloud Books and Gifts. What a great community resource. All these establishments were along Church Street.

E and his Mom visit The Homeplace, a 19th century farm
And how did Paris go? GREAT! We rented a cabin on beautiful Kentucky Lake (about 12 miles from Paris). I got to see all the little houses E had lived in, along with his schools and other local sights (the 100+ year court house, the 3rd highest Eiffel Tower in the US, etc.). We also spent a day in Land between the Lakes, a park that extends for 40 or so miles between Kentucky & Barclay Lakes, where we saw bison, elk, and a large, re-created farm community of the 1880s. Museum of the American Quilter's Society
We also went to the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah, Kentucky (50 miles from Paris), where we were amazed in what is a fine arts exhibit of quilts that take in many cases years to make. The museum features a rotating exhibit of over 100 art and traditional quilts by renowned contemporary quiltmakers. We were stunned by their beauty, by the huge museum itself, and by the way the quilts were almost as spectacular as Renoirs or Monets.

So, all in all, venturing into this very Red State was not quite as bad as we thought it would be. As the saying goes, 'great place to visit, but don't want to live there.'
bison at Land Between the Lakes

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ruining it for everyone

We have been supporters of the social service organization Outlet for several years. We have attended their annual gala and donated money but have never been to any of their support groups or workshops. The mission of Outlet is to support and empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth (LGBTQQ) ages 13-20 living on the Peninsula and South Bay. Last night they had a meeting open to the community where they invited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. I have always been curious about the Sisters but I did not know any thing them or their work.

Five Sisters came down from San Francisco to meet with about 20 local youths at the community center. They had an entertaining, educational and engaging program. The teens were interested in their charity work and outreach. They asked questions about their history as community activists. How they became part of the Order. They also wanted to hear the Sister’s makeup secrets for applying glitter. The teens quizzed them what the best stores to shop (cRoss Dress for Less).

I learned that the Sisters began in San Francisco on Easter weekend 1979. They are a non-profit organization that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. In addition to fundraising, the work of a Sister also includes ministry, education and entertainment. They have organized, planned and staged many events. The Sisters regularly visit local hospices. Theirs is a "ministry of presence". The Sisters frequently act as educators, lecturing to classrooms of students or informing the cute boy at the bar about the risks of unsafe sex. Being a Sister requires a lot of different skills and an investment in time, energy and money.

Some interesting facts:
In 1982 the Sisters put out the first safer sex pamphlet to use plain sex-positive language, practical advice, and humor.
It takes at least a year to become a full Sister. There is an extensive support and training program.
It is open to all people…gay, straight, male, female and every other variation.
Some of the angriest criticism they receive is from others in the GLBT community. That is too bad because I think the work they do is fabulous!
On their web site they state that the Sisters consider it their mission to “ruin” all detrimental conditions including complacency, guilt and the inability to laugh at one’s self.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Marriage Freedom

Last Friday we attended the evening service at our local suburban synagogue. (By the way, it was the same synagogue that we were married in full Reform Jewish ceremony by the head rabbi and cantor.) Assemblyman Mark Leno was the guest speaker. Mr. Leno, one of the first gay men elected to the California Assembly, spoke to a predominantly straight audience on "Why Marriage Equality is Inevitable." He shared his thoughts on the future of marriage equality and how our community can work together to end marriage discrimination and achieve equal rights for same sex couples. Mr. Leno was the author of AB 849, the nation's historic marriage equality legislation that was passed by the CA legislature but then vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. The bill, called "Religious Freedom & Civil Marriage Protection Act" would define marriage as a civil contract between two persons, a definition that was in effect prior to 1977. It would also reaffirm that no religious entity is required to solemnize a marriage that is contrary to its religious tenets. He plans to re-introduce the bill again next session.

One of the points Mr. Leno makes is that for the last 150 years or so, the American democratic process has changed and reshaped marriage. Despite what the Republicans and religious bigots say, marriage has constantly gone through and survived many activists' attacks and come out just fine.

Up until the 1860's in America, women were considered property of their husbands. They could not own property or sign contracts. Their work, income, and creations belonged to their husbands. Changing this was against many religious beliefs and cherished social values. The Bible says a woman should be subject to her husband. It was all so wrong. These changes were going against God, the Bible and the sacred institution of marriage. And then women wanted the right to vote and then divorce. More hell broke out in the 60's when women had access to contraception and the right to choose. Marriage and the values of the American family was under an attack it might not survive said the conservatives and religious intolerant.

In 1948, California was the first state to effectively repeal the anti-miscegenation statutes. A poll taken at the time showed that less then 5% of the public were in favor of the decision. Nineteen years later, 1967, the activist judges of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously the state laws prohibiting interethnic marriage were unconstitutional. It took until year 2000 for the last state, Alabama, to change it's constitution. Even then 40% of the voters were against it. It has always been challenged that racial intermarriage would be a threat to the holy and scared institution of marriage. A judge in 1965 said "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

I suppose it should not be surprising that the same conservative and religious assholes are still around using the same arguements today. In time same-sex marriage will just be latest evolution of the institution.
Married Dads

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Vintage HNT

Running in the 70's
This photo was taken in 1978 after my sophomore year in college. I had my younger brother take several “sexy” pictures of me with my Kodak pocket instamatic camera. I wanted to have some candid shots to give to my girlfriend before she left for her junior year abroad. I miss that style of short PE shorts with striped tube socks.

Despite what the picture implies, I was never much of a runner in my teens and twenties. It wasn’t until my late thirties when I became more concerned with my health and expanding waistline that I took up running. The first year of a daily regiment of running and walking I lost over 30 pounds. After a year of running around the middle school track, I finally signed up to do 10K race. Soon I started thinking about doing a marathon. I ended up completing three marathons in a three year period. Coincidently, it was also when I began to seriously question my “straightness”. I contemplated many scenarios on my long runs. After I came out, I gave up racing and running marathons. However, I still run 4-5 times a week for a total of 20 miles.

Classic Tech Recap:
Love this Dick Van Dyke commercial from the 70’s selling the pocket instamatic camera:

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Naked Voting

Today, Monday, October 23 is the last day to register to vote. You can register to vote at an U.S. Post Office, DMV or at However, you must register by October 23.
From a recent Equality California e-mail:

Equality California Institute Encourges members to "Vote Naked"
In an effort to encourage lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians to register as permanent absentee voters, the Equality California Institute (EQCAI) is sending absentee voter applications to 25,000 of its members with the message "Vote Naked."

"Studies show that people who are registered as permanent absentee voters are more likely to cast their ballot in every election," said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California Institute. "This project is designed to encourage LGBT Californians to participate in the political process. Sometimes work, family or health issues prevent people who intend to vote from being able to vote on Election Day. By becoming a permanent absentee voter, they can receive their ballots at home and vote by dropping them in the mail."

The compelling mailer features a person's bare legs on the front cover with the headline "Vote Naked." Inside, instructions walk readers through the application to register as an absentee voter. "Vote in the intimacy of your own home," it reads. "Never stand in line to vote again. Become a permanent absentee voter and automatically receive your ballot for every election."

The Vote Naked project is funded through a generous grant from the Horizons Foundation. To see the mailer, go to To register as a permanent absentee voter, visit the California Secretary of State's website at

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bitch of Living

Last July we did a theatre marathon in NYC. We saw 11 shows in 8 days. One of our favorites was a new musical at the Atlantic Theatre Company called “Spring Awakening”. The show is based on Frank Wedekind’s controversial 1891 German play, which was banned for 71 years. This new rock musical boldly depicts how young people navigate the thrilling, confusing and mysterious time of their sexual awakening. The stage setting and costumes may be old but the teenage emotions and passions are timeless. Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s music captures the crazy and youthful sounds of a modern “The Who’s Tommy”. The show begins Broadway previews on November 16.

Check the show's website for the full length video of "Bitch of Living".

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Buff Dads back from Boulder

Back from our long weekend trip to University of Colorado at Boulder’s Parents Weekend. Our time in Boulder was great fun. Some of the highlights:
  • Visiting our new freshman’s dorm and spending time with him on campus and round town.

  • E and I ran both Saturday and Sunday mornings along the Boulder Creek Trail while freshman son slept. We ran for over an hour each day.

  • We crisscrossed the university campus 3-4 times a day. I know where just about everything is located.

  • I ate my allotment of French fries for this year and next. (I have pledged to not eat another fry until opening day of Giants baseball in San Francisco. At that time I will order my own serving of Gilroy Garlic Fries at AT&T park) We drank as many local beer and micro-brews as possible at Boulder’s sports bars and brew pubs (The Sink, Walnut Brewery, and Old Chicago). It is a good thing we did all that running and walking.

  • Stayed at the colorful and affordable Boulder Outlook Hotel. Self described as “the cure for the common hotel”. It is conveniently located across the street from the campus.

  • E found one of the best kitchen stores he has ever come across: Peppercorn in downtown Boulder on Peral Street Mall.

  • Attended the Colorado Buffaloes vs Texas Tech football game. I have not been to a college game in over 10 years. The Buffs have been on a consecutive 10 game losing streak. Fortunately, through the power of two gay dads cheering them on we were able to break their streak and they won the game. (I am thinking of offering our powerful gay dad cheering services locally to SU-Cardinal football team. They can’t seem to win a game this season.)

In high school I was a band geek. Notice that I didn’t take any pictures of the game, just the band and mascots.

I can’t finish the story without sharing our flight experiences. We do a lot of adventure travel…hiking, biking, etc. We were not expecting this to be one of those trips however. Nevertheless, through a series of “hilarious” missteps, we had a wacky and madcap traveling adventure getting to and from Boulder.

It all started innocently enough with a drive to the airport. We live exactly between two major international airports, San Jose and San Francisco. Can you anticipate what our first blunder was? Right! We went to the wrong airport and didn’t figure it out until we tried to check our baggage. This lead to a missed connection, a overnight stay in LA at a questionable Best Western allegedly near LAX, and verbal abuse from a crazed Yellow Cab driver. On the return trip through LAX (don’t ask why we connected through LA to travel from San Francisco to Denver…OK, in theory it was cheaper.) we had another adventure trying to find our gate when we wrongly assumed that because we booked our airline tickets through American Airlines, we would be flying American Airlines. Ha! Silly us. Unbeknownst to us, we were really on Alaskan Airlines and we should have been waiting in a different terminal at an unmarked gate. Can’t you just hear the canned laugh track roaring at our misfortune!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Buffalo Dads

We are off to Family Weekend at University of Colorado at Boulder. Time to visit our youngest, newest college student. We have to tickets for the football game on Saturday. I hear the team is not doing well. Are they the Boulder Buffaloes? Colorado Buffaloes? Buffalo CU-Bs? I don’t follow football. Can you tell?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My Coming Out Story

Another coming out storyI rarely thought about coming out or even considered myself gay until I was in my early forties. When I was in my teens and twenties, I knew I had an appreciation and affinity for other good looking guys. But there was no way I could be “gay.” I had not experimented with other guys and had only dated a couple of women. I was totally in denial about my sexuality and not even near being closeted. I had a very naive and immature understanding of sexual identity and of being gay. At the time “gay” meant to me you were effeminate or flamboyant. Role models for gay people for me came from film and TV. I thought only actors like Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly were gay. That was not my nature or behavior. Gay also meant to me that you were considered to be a deviant, marginalized person. The only stories I knew about gays were sad, pathetic or tragic. You could not be successful or respected unless you wanted to have a stereotypical career as a hairdresser or other gay job. I wasn’t interested in that. Besides, I enjoyed being with my women friends. And even had sex with a couple of them. When I married, I truly loved my wife. Homosexual thoughts were rarely part of the early stages of the relationship. I was determined that I was straight despite the thoughts otherwise that floated around in my mind on occasion.

As time went on, I found myself becoming more ridged and controlling in my life and of the people around me. I experienced periods of depression and bouts of anger. I started to question my straightness. After I discovered the internet and found that there were similar married men with the same feelings and fantasies, I began to finally question my sexual identity. First, I considered myself as “bi” or having some gay tendencies. But I had no intention of leaving my marriage. I still could not conceive that I was gay. This went on for several years. What changed for me was when I met my soon to be partner Eddie. He was also a married man with a family questioning his next stage of life. We talked for days about changing our lives and coming out; we spent time together discovering our compatibility and mutual interests. Soon we fell in love and wanted to make a life together. I finally got it. I was in love with a man that I wanted to spend all my time with. I could not fake straightness any longer. I needed to transform.

When I decided to come out, I did it with the assumption that my ex-wife would never talk to me again. It would be a constant losing battle to see my kids. My parents, siblings, and rest of my family would shun me. They would be disgusted, appalled and angry with me. I also feared that I would lose most of my friends. I thought they would all side with my ex. I was even unsure how my employer would deal with it. Would I be allowed to keep my job or had I been too deceitful? Would they still want to work with me and trust me?

another gay dad
The decision to come out was truly stepping out into a void. I was taking on the risk of losing family, friends and career. I could be starting over again with absolutely nothing. I was a wreck when I did it. I was scared and frightened. I cried for weeks about anything. The divorce was painful. But over time it all settled down and worked itself out. It took a year for the divorce to be final. The ex and I have a workable agreement for co-parenting the kids and handing money. Most, but not all, family and friends have stayed connected with us. The concern about my job was a lot of worry about nothing. I am more relaxed and contented and less depressed then I was before. I find that I am spontaneous and involved and excited about life.

I have no regrets about coming out. Or of coming out late in life. I had some great times being married to the opposite sex. I have wonderful children. And now I am married to a fantastic and extraordinary man and we have lots of plans for the future.
Guy Dads; gay dads
10 gay signs I missed while growing up.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Opera queens

We just started attending operas a few seasons years ago. Last night was our first Wagner. We experienced 4 hours and 40 minutes of “Tristan und Isolde”. It was “Rainbow Series Night” at San Francisco Opera. It was all very grand and melodramatic and so was the opera! (tah-tah-boom) The music and singing was outstanding. And true to the opera cliché, the show was not over until the fat lady sang.

The best description of the opera’s story was in the program. David Baker wrote an essay called “Transforming the Myth…Driving People Mad” where he says:
“It has been said that the plot of Wagner’s ‘Tristan’ could be summarized as follows: ‘Act One is two women walking around the stage. Act Two, two people seated on a bench. The Third Act, a man who keeps getting up and lying down again.’ An exaggeration, but nearly true as far as externals go.”

Tonight, Oct 6 at 8pm, the opera is doing a free video simulcast of Verdi’s “Rigoletto” from San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza and Frost Amphitheater at Stanford University. We are leaving for the coast early this evening and will miss it. But we do have tickets see it in two weeks.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


We missed seeing a couple of plays last week but we did catch ACT’s revival of Tom Stoppard’s “Travesties”. What a major disappointment. I last saw the play when ACT first did it in 1977 when I was a freshman in college. It piqued my interest in theatre and all things having to do with Tom Stoppard, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Valadimir Lenin and Tristan Tzara. I was enthralled with it.

I learned three things . . .during the war. . .Firstly, you're either a revolutionary or you're not, and if you're not you might as well be an artist as anything else. Secondly, if you can't be an artist, you might as well be a revolutionary. I forget the third thing.
-- Henry Carr the leading character in Travesties

Unfortunately, this production is a snooze-fest. Visually it is beautiful. The sets are wonderfully surreal and the costumes and lighting are good. But the pacing is so slow. Each actor’s lines are surrounded by extended periods of silence. Stoppard is a writer of many words. He does not need “blank space” on stage to set them off. His words need to snap, crackle and pop on the stage. I left the production reminded of a quote from another Stoppard play:

Eternity's a terrible thought. I mean, where's it all going to end?
--Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1967)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Eating tickets & consuming dinners

Last week was the week between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. It was a very busy and scattered week. We had tickets to two plays that we missed. We were going to see a local community theatre production of “Tick, Tick…Boom” by Jonathan Larson (of “Rent” fame) but we forgot to check the start time of the show and assumed it was an 8 pm. It was not. We didn’t even bother to go in late. We turned the car around in the parking lot and went home and watched a DVD instead. The second show we knew we had a conflict but we had season tickets to the best gay theatre in San Francisco and we could exchange them for another time. But we never got around to do the exchange and didn’t remember it until we arrived at the other event (a benefit mentioned below). We also had tickets to several Giants baseball games that we chose not to use. We skipped one game and gave tickets away to another game. No one likes to buy tickets to a losing team or even attend them.

Fortunately, our ticket losses were offset with some wonderful dinners.
  • Close friends had us over for Erev Rosh Hashana dinner (Fri., 9/22).
  • We went out to lunch after Saturday morning services to Max's Opera Cafe with a friend and then attended a fun Rosh Hashana party later that evening.
  • On Sunday, four of the friends that we had down to our beach house last month treated us to a wonderful Peruvian dinner at a restaurant in San Francisco (Fresca on 24th). It features nouveau Peruvian cuisine and Pisco Sours almost as good as E’s.
  • Thursday night we took my parents out to dinner at Café Neibaum-Coppola in Palo Alto. The restaurant is modeled after Francis Ford Coppola’s wine tasting room in Napa and features great Italian and other Mediterranean dishes.
  • Saturday, instead of seeing the play we had season tickets for, we attended Horizons Foundation annual gala. The foundation is a philanthropic social justice organization serving the GLBT community in the SF Bay Area. They threw a great party. We dressed in our tuxes, eat yummy food and watched the very cute Spencer Day perform.
  • This last Sunday we hosted an Erev Yom Kippur dinner for friends.
  • Finally, Monday we broke our Yom Kippur fast with dinner at Scott’s Seafood in Palo Alto.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

High Holidays

The local stores have put up their Christmas Happy Holiday decorations. These pictures were taken last week of the displays at our neighborhood Restoration Hardware. We were also in Costco at the beginning of September and they already had Christmas Happy Holiday decorations and toys out. It looked like they already sold out most of the Halloween decorations.

What does that mean for me as a Jew? Time to find my Jewish calendar and figure out when the High Holidays are happening this year!

Erev Rosh Hashana, the start of the Jewish New Year 5767, is Friday, September 22nd.
Erev Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is Sunday, October 1st.
L’shanah tovah!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Night and day, Light and gay, Let us drink our cares away.*

Last week we attended our first opera of the season: Johann Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus” at San Francisco Opera. The piece is actually an operetta that has been elevated to the operatic repertoire. The plot is a very silly sex farce with lots of slapstick and running jokes. The story revolves around salacious infidelities of the Viennese upper crust. The opera also mocks many of the traditional opera elements. The music is a collection of grand toe-tapping waltzes. It was hilarious to watch the opera stars running around the stage performing antics like they just came off a production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”.

Earlier in the month we saw another performance that mocked and deconstructed opera elements. TheatreWorks in Palo Alto presented a revival of David Henry Hwang’s “M. Butterfly”. The theatre last did the show 14 years ago with the same two leading actors: Francis Jue and Mark Capri. We loved the show. In fact we saw it twice, once on the theatre’s new “OutWorks” night and a week later when we organized a group of 40 from our GLBT running group. Francis and Mark did a magnificent job in their roles. The play is a brilliant exploration of love and politics. It is based on a true story of a French diplomat’s relationship with a glamorous Chinese opera star, an elusive “butterfly” that after a 20 year relationship is revealed to be a spy—and a man. The play is also a metaphor for the West’s (especially the US) naive and arrogant treatment of countries and cultures that are considered not as advanced or “third world”. My favorite line is when the French ambassador is talking to his diplomat about the beginning of the USA’s military involvement in Vietnam and how the Vietnamese would welcome the US military and democracy. He says: “Oh, the Americans always like to hear how welcome they'll be.” That is the same shortsightedness and self-delusional reasoning we have for our current Middle East mess.

* From English version of TRINKE LIEBCHEN, TRINKE SCHNELL, "Die Fledermaus" (Johann Strauss Jr.)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Better than sex

E had a great weekend. First, one of our college kids stopped by late last week and emptied two rooms of furniture. He and a couple roommates filled the small moving truck with stuff and took it to their new off-campus rental house. One of the empty rooms will be our home office. E placed the order for the custom cherry wood furniture. The other room will be a guest room. Furnishing it will have to wait a couple months. Until then, guests will have to sleep on an air mattress.

But the big day for E was Saturday. That was the day we agreed that we would clean the garage. It was not going to be a simple sweep out and dusting. I am a packrat. I hate to throw anything out. I often have emotional attachments to my stuff, even if I don’t use it any longer. E is just the opposite. If it has not been used in a year, then out it goes. Cleanouts tend to be the most stressful activity we do together. Fortunately, I have been preparing for this day for a couple months. We had postponed the garage cleaning several times. I was finally emotionally ready for it. We got rid of a lot of stuff. A large pile was donated to Goodwill. A second big pile was hauled off to the dump. We didn’t have any full-size arguments. I didn’t cry about throwing anything out like I have done in the past. And E was ecstatic and overjoyed by the time we finished. Having such a clean garage was better then sex he said!I love my clean garage!

The day was topped off by going out to see a wonderful musical. One of my favorite musicals is “Grand Hotel, The Musical”. It is not done very often. Set in Berlin 1928, it features a cast of characters intertwined in a series of fateful encounters: the fading ballerina on her last tour, the charming but cash desperate Baron, the dying bookkeeper looking for life, the typist that longs to be a star, and the failing businessman who foreshadows the coming Depression. I saw a good production of it about 10 years ago but E has never seen it. A local, amateur theatre company just opened their season with it. We were not expecting much other than getting a flavor of the show, seeing how the plot plays out with the songs we knew from the CD. However, we were totally blown away by the production. The singing and acting was great and the choreography and direction was excellent. It was as good, if not better then some of the professional shows we’ve seen. It is playing in Foster City until October 1st at the Hillbarn Theatre.
Grand Hotel, the musical
cast of Grand Hotel

Friday, September 08, 2006

Hosting Labor Day Weekend

We spent the three day holiday weekend hosting a group of our friends at E’s family beach house. From Friday night through Monday afternoon we had almost a dozen friends stop by for a visit ranging from a few hours to several days. Some of the highlights of the weekend were “sleeping late”, afternoon runs on the sandy beach, watching a whale swim by, 5 PM cocktails and appetizers, and E’s wonderful dinners. Sunday’s dinner was outstanding. The theme was Peru. We had our picture album from our Machu Picchu trip, traditional Peruvian music playing on the CD player, and Pisco Sours for everyone. E prepared and cooked three mouth-watering dishes from his new Peruvian cookbook:

A classic, Peruvian, seafood dish, originated on the beaches of El Callao, where the name "chalaca" comes since the inhabitants are known by this nickname. This mussel appetizer, piled high with a lime-infused, fresh salsa of corn, garlic, peppers, tomato and red onions, is known by this name along the 3000 km of the Peruvian coast.

Made with chicken, this dish achieves one of the most captivating flavors for first-time samplers of Peruvian cuisine. A mixture of Hispanic and Quechian flavors, the dish relies on pecans, onions, peppers, hard-boiled eggs, garlic and a bread-crumb sauce to cover the chicken and several varieties of boiled potatoes (i.e., purple, yellow, sweet, etc.).

Locro, known also by its indigenous name 'rokro,' is one of the many stews consumed in Peru for over 2000 years. Paying tribute to winter squash, this shrimp dish also contains fresh corn, lima beans, red onion, garlic, fresh cheese, mint, cilantro, and pisco.

4) PISCO SOURS recipe, the national drink of Peru
2 parts Pisco (a type of brandy)
1 part lime juice
1 part simple syrup (granulated sugar melted in water)
1 egg white
3 parts ice
Angostura bitters
Blend together Pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white with ice. Strain mixture into old-fashioned glasses. Top with a few drops of Angostura bitters.

We are not sure how many more chances we will have to visit and host parties at the beach house. It is for sale. Check it out if you have several million and would like a fantastic house on the beach along the Monterey coast.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Statues and Stories

Last week we say the touring production of “Light in the Piazza” in San Francisco. It is a new musical by Adam Guettel (grandson of Richard Rodgers) and Craig Lucas, that is based on the novel by Elizabeth Spencer. It is a story of a Florentine holiday romance between an American girl with limited mental capacities and the ardent young Italian man she meets. The girl’s mother puts her trust in the miracle of young love even as she faces the truth about her own marriage. It is very light, delicate, romantic story. A number of the songs are sung in Italian and several of the characters speak only fluent Italian.

Just before the show started a family with two young teenage girls sat down behind us. The girls were all excited and chatty about being out on the town and seeing a touring Broadway show. One of them opened their Playbill and saw the inside cover advertisement for a DVD collection of movies starring Ronald Regan. One says to the other, “Ronald Regan was a movie star?” The other replies, “I thought he was a president.” Talk like this makes one feel very old…

I was a little concerned that the two teenagers were not going to have the patience to sit through a lush, romantic story. Not to worry, they were hooked right from the beginning. We were all breathless on the edge of our seats at the end of the first act when passionate Italian boy, Fabrizio (played wonderfully by David Burnham), takes off his shirt and woos the American girl, Clara. The girls behind us were also audibly stunned in the second act when Clara’s mother has a passionate kiss and embrace with Fabrizio’s father. I could hear their brain cells exploding as they tried to grasp the concept that a mother could have sexual feelings with someone other than her husband. It was a very enjoyable show.

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