Saturday, September 17, 2005


Yesterday in the mail an envelope arrived with a set of tickets to the New York Film Festival. This was rather puzzling, since we had already received our tickets. A close examination of the address showed that the first and last names were right, and the street was right, but the middle initial was wrong (I seldom use mine anyway), the street number had an extra digit, and the apartment number was wrong.

There is no listing in the phone book for that name and address, but a call to the New York Film Society produced the number. My wife called him, and he happily agreed to come over and pick up his tickets. It seems that the Film Society has completely screwed up both of our addresses. We are both listed as at his street number, my street (which is one less than his), and his apartment number. I think the reason I haven't had any problems before is that I always include a self-addressed envelope with my ticket order.

This kind of confusion happens from time to time. My male name is not unique, even in Manhattan. There are three of us in the current phone book. Years ago I remember there were six. Back then there was a lot of confusion. When I first moved to New York I got quite a bit of mail meant for one of the others, who lived in the same neighborhood. Apparently he was a book editor. Once I even got a manuscript someone sent. I marked "Return to Sender: Wrong Xxxxx Xxxxx" on everything and dumped them in a mailbox.

There were also a lot of phone calls meant for him. I usually knew it immediately, because thay'd say "Hi, Xxxxx," which was a nickname I never use. What really got me, though, were these messages left on my answering machine. Every couple months or so I'd come home from work and find a message that went, "Hi, [nickname]. This is Bill. I'm going to be in New York next week. Can we get together and talk? Please call me at home." This went on, year after year after year. I really felt sorry for him, but he never left a phone number, and I didn't have caller ID (if it even existed back then), so there wasn't anything I could do to end his frustration. Not to mention mine.

One day, though, I was at home sick when he called.
"Hi, [nickname]. I'm so glad I caught you at home."
"I'm sorry, I think you have the wrong [first name] [last name]."
Momentary silence.
"You're not my brother?"
A little more silence.
"But, but, I've been calling you and leaving messages for years."
"I know, but you never left your number, so I couldn't call and tell you that you were making a mistake."
"Oh my God. All this time I thought he was still mad at me."


Richard Greenberg scored a Tony Award and a Pulitzer nomination for his 2003 play Take Me Out. His latest work to hit Broadway, A Naked Girl on the Appian Way, won't get him any such awards. I realize that the show is still in previews, but what I saw last night has no potential for significant improvement.

The characters vary from the mildly eccentric to just plain nuts--and some of them wander back and forth across that range through the course of the show. I can't believe either of the sons could grow to adulthood and still act so immaturely. Also, while I'm not an expert in the area, I believe the whole plot is based on a total misreading of family law.

There are some good lines here and there. The play is not really boring--just don't try to make any sense out of it.

This marks the return of Jill Clayburgh to Broadway, after a 20 year stint at child-rearing. Her portrayal of the cookbook author mother was the most believable--though it was too reminiscent of Martha Stewart for my taste. I look forward to her seeing her in her next role, as the mother in a revival of Barefoot in the Park.

The rest of the cast did well, considering what they had to work with. But no matter how good the actors are, when the characters they play are unbelievable then their efforts will be futile. Give this one a miss.

Friday, September 16, 2005


So what am I doing up at this hour? I can't sleep. I did go to bed, but an hour later I was still wide awake. So I'm up, getting a head start on tomorrow's stuff.
But I have to get some sleep sometime--I'm seeing a play tomorrow evening. Well, I guess that's really this evening.


Liz Smith writes in today's column
JENNIFER ANISTON has mended from the tzimmes surrounding her divorce from Brad Pitt
I'm certainly no Yiddish expert, but even I know that she means "tsouris," not "tzimmes." "Tsouris" means troubles. "Tzimmes" is something you eat, made up of things like stewed carrots, honey, raisins, and prunes.

This reminds me of a former colleague of my wife's who made an even worse mistake. She meant to say "futz around" (meaning to mess or fool around--it's not really Yiddish). But she said "putz around." "Putz" is a very offensive, almost obscene word for penis.

Liz, everyone, leave the Yiddish to people who really know it.


Yesterday's mail brought us the L.L. Bean Christmas catalog, with a nice, snowy scene of people skating on a frozen pond on the cover. But, yesterday it was 82° in New York. Well, maybe we're having a late fall warm spell. Let me check my calendar. No, it's September 16.


Thursday, September 15, 2005


A couple days ago I noted how proud I was that this blog was coming up in Google searches. Now Google has come up with a search engine specifically for blogs: I'm there, too, as I expected.

Blog on!


Crossdressers International, of which I am treasurer, held its fundraiser for the victims of Hurricane Katrina last night. The 20-odd (not 20 odd) members and guests contributed over $700. With the contribution from CDI itself, we will be delivering over $1200 for hurricane relief.

We were saddened to hear that one of our guests had lost two relatives to Katrina, one a litle baby. I think there will be a lot of people with dead relatives, when they finish identifying all the bodies. There was also a phone call during the evening from the friend of another guest. The friend is safe in Brooklyn, but escaped with little more than the clothes on his back. Now he has no home, no job, and no idea what is coming next.

On a brighter note, the highlight of the evening was the cooking of Michael, a professional chef who is the friend of our president. His pasta bolognese was first rate. I was amazed he could come up with something so good in the limited cooking facilities of the CDI apartment--a tiny galley kitchen with two electric burners and no real oven, just a microwave. That's a pro for you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I recently managed to walk from Ninth Avenue and W. 14th St. to the Monster Bar at the corner of Grove St. and W. 4th, in 3½ inch heels. It's about ⅔ of a mile, judging from Mapquest (I didn't walk per the driving directions). I only got one blister on each foot.

I think if you can do a full mile you get a merit badge from the Drag Scouts.


Google has found me! If you do a search for glob mostly mozart, for instance, I'm on the third page.

I've been on MSN Search almost from the beginning. But Google! Now I know I've arrived. I'm so proud!


An article in today's New York Times says that conservatives are rallying around the film March of the Penguins. They think it promotes monogamy and the intelligent design pseudo-theory.

Monogamy? Sure. Except what the movie and its conservative fans fail to point out is that every year the penguins choose new mates. It's temporary monogamy--an automatic annulment every spring. Is this what the conservatives want to promote?

Intelligent design? Pul-eeze! It's just the opposite. The penguins that figured out where it was safest to do their breeding (as far from the predator-filled sea as possible) and were strong enough to withstand the journeys back and forth, were the ones that survived. Evolution does not yield species that take the easy road.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Yesterday I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Matisse: The Fabric of Dreams--His Art and His Textiles exhibition. I was blown away, particularly by his use of color. I think he might displace Van Gogh as my favorite "modern" artist.

It was amazing to see the actual textiles and garments that Henri Matisse used on his models and for his backgounds. Matisse's family had been in the textile industry in northeastern France for generations, and he grew up with fabrics, not fine art. It was said that he probably never saw an oil painting until he was 20 years old. He collected fabrics and garments all his life. When he died in 1955 the collection was packed away, not to see the light of day until last year.

But it was even more amazing to see how he presented them in his pictures. They were never literal representations, and sometimes were very much different. For instance, the Ottoman robe on the left became the one on the right. In fact there was another painting of the robe that had even wider stripes.

At the end of his life and mostly bed-ridden, Matisse found a different medium with which to use color: he took a pair of scissors and made cut-outs of paper that had been painted with solid hues, and then attached them to similarly colored backgrounds. He found great freedom in not having to use a brush to invoke a color. At the left is his "Acrobatic Dancer." While the relationship to fabrics is more distant here, this medium did resemble some of the fabrics he had collected from Africa and the South Pacific, where layering was used.

The exhibition will be there through the 25th. Catch it if you can, especially if you love colors. If you're watching your pennies you can skip the audio guide. It only adds a few things to the posted explanations, and probably everything is in the catalogue. There are many copies to view in the reading room.


The AP reports Mike Brown, the idiot FEMA director, has resigned. It's about time. This guy was clueless.

Go into the private sector indeed. I pity any company that hires him. In fact, I'm wondering if I'm still eligible to buy put options at my stock broker's.


I recently had the pleasure of attending the going-away dinner for the manager of Lips, the Greenwich Village eatery which features drag performers as waitresses and bartenders. Edwin is going off to California, and is considering an offer to manage a clothing-optional men's (i.e. gay) resort there. (Does anyone besides me see a certain, um, symmetry, between running a place where people dress up, and one where they, uh, dress down, all the way down?)

I've been a regular customer at Lips for several years, and I've gotten to know some of the people who work there. No deep friendships, but enough to occasionally hang out with them after they get off work. They were nice enough to invite me to this dinner for Edwin, also.

The thing was, I had never seen most of them out of drag before. A couple of them present as women full time, and two more were quite recognizable as men. But there were these other two...

One was the last to arrive, so I knew who it was by process of elimination. But I don't think I would have recognized him otherwise. (The funny thing was, he didn't recognize us! The restaurant staff had to show him to the table. He said it was because he was looking for a table of drag queens--and I was the only one there even wearing a wig.)

The other one I would never have recognized in a million years, despite all the hours I've spent looking at, er, her. Then he opened his mouth. As soon as he started talking I knew who it was.

We talked (and laughed) a bit about it. One said it's common for them to do a performance, return to male-mode, go out to the bar, and be totally unrecognized by people who had just seen them up on the stage.

The late arrival told a story on himself. One night he wasn't working he went to a bar, hoping to meet someone. He saw a guy he liked. He went over, and started "cruising" him, showing his interest. The guy gave him a puzzled look, but he continued giving him the eye. The guy started laughing, and said, "Xxxx, it's me, Edie!"--someone he had worked with, in drag, many, many times. Even drag queens don't always recognize each other out of uniform.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


There's a rumor going around they're trying to get Bill Clinton to run for governor of California, against Schwarzenegger. I wonder what the residency requirement there is.

I also wonder what Hillary would have to say about it.


It's 9/11--a day of sadness and anger and horrible memories for me. I was there. My office was across the street, right behind 7 World Trade Center. I saw some things no one should ever have to see, things I want to forget. But I can't.

I was lucky. I wasn't hurt. I didn't even have to breathe any of the dust--unlike the 1993 bombing of the Trade Center. At that time I had a job in 2 World Trade, and I had to walk down from the 68th floor in a smoke-filled, crowded, unlit stairwell. I was fortunate that I had a tiny flashlight in my briefcase. To this day I always have one in my pocket or purse, just in case.

I was also lucky that no one I knew personally was killed on 9/11. All of my former colleagues still working there got out, as did everyone else I knew who worked in the Trade Center. There were a couple of friends of friends, and a cousin of a friend, but no one closer.

But I still have the horrible memories. It didn't help that my company did eventually re-occupy its offices down there, and I spent a year and a half trying not to look at where the towers had been.

I want to forget. But I can't.