Saturday, April 15, 2006

Bravo Metropolitan Museum!

A few weeks back the Metropolitan Museum removed the scaffolding that had obscured the front during its refurbishing. I was struck by how handsome the building was. Not only was it nice and clean, it was free of the huge banners they always used to advertise the current exhibitions. There were normally five banners, including three huge ones that sometimes flapped noisily in the breeze. I thought I wouldn't have very long to enjoy the sight of the unencumbered ediface before they hoisted some new ones.

But to my delight the big, distracting banners were replaced by three small ones, directly attached to the facade, covering only some plain wallspace. I guess I wasn't the only one who disliked the old mess.

Bravo, Metropolitan! Your building not only contains art, it is art, and it should be seen in its glory to the utmost.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Yay, Delta!

Union: Delta, Pilots Reach Tentative Deal
It looks like my trip to Spain is on. I was worried about the possibility of a strike--Delta operates the only flight from New York to Barcelona.

So we're off to buy new luggage--ones with real wheels.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

It's spring!

We took a nice walk in Central Park today, in the beautiful 75ยบ weather, looking at the pinkish-white flowers on some of the trees, and the nice yellow daffodils with some sort of blue flowers sprinkled among them. We sat in the late afternoon sun for a bit. It was lovely.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

If you needed any more proof that Hollywood is the land of the unreal

Winnie the Pooh Gets Hollywood Star
You don't have to be a real person, or even a real animal, to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (You do have get someone to pay for it, though--the honorees have to pay a fee to be honored.)

I'm VERY unhappy

I lost my new toy last night. I was leaving a club, walking down a flight of stairs overlooking the dancefloor. My phone was in its liitle pouch, which was securely hooked to my purse strap. But the Razr is so thin that it wasn't a tight fit like my old phone. The bouncing going down the stairs sent it out of the pouch. I felt it hit my knee, then it descended into the crowd below.

I looked around for it the best I could. Nobody turned it in to the bar. They said to call the club office when it reopens this afternoon. I'm not hopeful.

I've tried calling it several times. At first it rang, and then went to voicemail. I think someone did answer it once, but said nothing. Now it's off, and my call goes directly to voicemail. Of course it might just be that the battery is empty (though it wasn't that low).

It is covered by insurance, with a $50 deductible. But it's still a big hassle, going down to the police precinct to file a lost property report, filing a claim, etc.

Grump, grump grump.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Monday, April 10, 2006

Liz Smith screws up again

Last September Liz Smith used the wrong Yiddish word in her gossip column. Today she has this:
OUR PAL Charlie Rose, of the talk-show biz, is one lucky man. When he experienced shortness of breath while working in Syria, he was helped quickly on a plane to Paris and out of the Middle East by Syria's king himself!
The king of Syria? Syria hasn't had a king since 1920, when the French army threw him out!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

My week in brief(?)

As I said in Project (non)progress report, I was out every night this week. Here's a semi-quick summary of what I was doing:

MONDAY: I went to hear Namoli Brennet sing at the Bitter End--a Greenwich Village institution that I had somehow missed ever going to in 30+ years of the living in New York. I had last heard Namoli at a little "house concert" in January at Ed Mannix's place in Brooklyn, and I was glad to see she was performing in a commercial venue--especially one in Manhattan, where I wouldn't have to suffer the vagaries of the subway system.

It was a rainy night, and I hopped in a cab to be there early, as Namoli's publicity advised--she was the opener. I arrived to find several people taking shelter under the Bitter End's sidewalk canopy--they weren't admitting anyone during the various performers' sound checks. I found Ed, and he introduced me to a couple of his friends. We huddled in the cold for about 20 minutes, until they finally let us in. So much for arriving early.

We marched past the bar and its huge mural of the caricatures of the now-famous entertainers who had performed at the Bitter End (immodestly flaunting its institution-ness). We greeted Namoli, and she introduced us to Wendy Layton, her manager. We claimed a table and ordered drinks from a charmingly-accented waitperson.

Soon Namoli took to the stage and proceeded to draw the audience (most of whom were probably there for the performers to follow) deep into the poetry of her songs. Later Ed said this was very unusual for the Bitter End of late, where normally people talk during the performances and treat the songs as background music. By the end of her second number the audience was quiet, except for one boor who had to be shushed to silence.

Namoli was in fine form. I was particularly impressed by one song she did accompanying herself on the piano, instead of her usual guitar. It showed a side of her that's mostly hidden behind her serious singer/songwriter persona: she is an entertainer, out there to give her audience an enjoyable show--which she was doing very well.

Her 50 minutes went by all too fast, and after paying our check we went to meet her over by the bar. She was greeting fans (more new than old, perhaps), while Wendy sold a few CDs from a little suitcase. As the next set of performers started up, she, Wendy, Ed and I adjourned to the Japanese restaurant next door for dinner.

Namoli was as charming as she had been at the house concert at Ed's. She told us of a recent visit to her Tuscon home by Venus DeMars of All the Pretty Horses. [I have removed the links to the Venus and the All the Pretty Horses sites because they seem to have a virus or something. Beware.] Wendy was just as charming. She related how she had to pull over to the side of the road when she got a call from my friend Kristine James (the founder of Crossdressers International), who wanted to book Namoli for Transgender 2006, the annual convention of the International Foundation for Gender Education. Ed tried to convince Namoli to return to New York for the Outmusic awards in June.

At the conclusion of dinner Wendy gave Ed and me a little preview CD of three songs from Namoli's next album. Then the two returned to the Bitter End to join some people from Albany who had come down to hear Namoli. (They had already eaten, so they decided to stay for the following performers.) I cabbed it up to the O.W. Bar for Kenny Dash's Bingorama. I really had a good time there: Kenny was a lot of fun, yakking it up with the audience while calling out the bingo numbers. Perhaps because there were only five of us actually playing, it was really sort of a group conversation. We discussed income taxes and the NYPD's raids on several nightclubs the previous week. And I won a T-shirt and a CD.

TUESDAY: A private meeting of people on the MyHusbandBetty Message Boards. Some of us went out for drinks afterwards.

WEDNESDAY: I started with a meeting of board of directors of the LGBT Law Association Foundation of Greater New York. I was hoping that it would be short, as there wasn't too much on the agenda--I wanted to catch at least some of my cyber-friend Johanna Weller-Fahy's show at the Duplex. Alas, things did not go according to plan. We started with an item not on the Foundation Board's agenda, a long discussion of the Association's amicus curiae brief in the New York State same-sex marriage case. (The Foundation and the Association are legally separate, but the boards are overlapping, and meet the same evening. I'm on the Foundation's Board, but not the Association's.)

By the time I got down to the Duplex the show was over. But Johanna was still there, finishing up her business with the club. So I did get to go out to dinner with her, and her marvelous friends (oh, to be as young as they all are again). This was the first time I had met Johanna in real life.

After dinner I caught up with some of the people who had been at the Crossdressers International (CDI) open house. I had a drink while I watched them play pool, and while some guy kept trying to pick us up. After a half-hour or so we left, and I called it a night--it had been a long one.

THURSDAY: I had a meeting of the New York County Lawyers Assn. Committee on LGBT Issues down at the "House of the Law" on Vesey St. Before that though I did a little shopping at Century 21 (the department store, not the realty). Mostly I was looking for some pajama bottoms. (See Pajama woes.)

The meeting was extremely short--25 minutes or so, and I jumped on the subway up to the Village and got to the Duplex just before Johanna started! (This was the last performance, and I had not expected to be able to see it.) It was a very nice show, "Johanna Weller-Fahy at the Whiskey Bar," an hour of songs by Jacques Brel and Kurt Weill, connected by a quite funny monologue. Johanna has an excellent voice--in fact a couple times I thought it was too pretty for the gritty lyrics she was singing.

After the show I went and said hello. She actually recognized me rather quickly, despite my presentation as a man that evening. She autographed a program for me, which I told her I would be selling for a fortune on eBay when she got famous.

FRIDAY: was the opening night of Wolfpit, the new production of the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble. My friend Betty was in it, at least her male persona was. The play is the story of a medieval English village that discovers a pair of totally green children speaking an unknown tongue. Unbelievable? It's based on reports written by two 12th century monks!

The play was very good. The acting was excellent. The writing, though in language of some vintage that is not modern, was quite understandable. The story was quite believable, if one can accept that a pair of green children can suddenly appear somewhere. Most of the characters seemed quite true. A couple of times the lighting failed, but it returned in a few seconds--the actors handled it.

There was a Q&A with the playwright, director and cast afterwards--though most of the actors said nothing. A reception followed. I didn't get a chance to ask either of the women playing the green children how many jokes they had heard about auditioning for Wicked--it was quite clear at the reception that the make-up did not come off quickly.

SATURDAY: it was over to the west side for a Metropolitan Opera performance of Ludwig van Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio. As we walked across the Lincoln Center Plaza there was a big crowd by the fountain. There I immediately recognized what they were looking at: eight or ten people from The Imperial Court having their picture taken--then I remembered that there was a performance by the New York City Gay Men's Chorus in Avery Fisher Hall that evening. (What I didn't remember was that I had a camera phone in my pocket--and there was enough light so I could take a decent photo, unlike the ones of Namoli and Johanna I had tried earlier in the week.) One man there asked me if all the Court people were men. I assured him they were. But I sure hope they weren't planning on sitting in the audience at the concert--some of those wigs would have blocked the views of a dozen people behind.

This was a new production of Fidelio, at least to me. It was set some time during Franco's dictatorship. I'm not sure why--I don't think there were any agitators for freedom like Floristan during that period. If there were, I don't think they would have to be hidden in a jail from the provincial governor. It didn't make sense. Nor did some of the stage direction--at the the end, when Leonore has saved her husband and they sing a duet about being together again, they do it from the opposite sides of the stage--they should be in each other's arms. And why did she take off her jacket in the freezing cellar?

All that didn't really matter. The music is wonderful. Beethoven is my favorite composer, and he wrote little that was better than Fidelio. He used parts of the final chorus in the last movement of his great Ninth Symphony. The performance was quite good. All of the singers were fine, even Karita Mattila, who had to cancel her Leonore last week. The tympanist did have trouble at one point in the last act, I think. He seemed to be off the beat for several measures--weird, in an orchestra of that calibre. But all-in-all it was an excellent evening.

Then I came home and watched my recording of the NCAA men's hockey national championship game--which made it an even better evening.

Wisconsin rules college hockey!

The University of Wisconsin-Madison's men's hockey team won the NCAA national championship last night. Their women's team won the national championship a couple weeks ago. I think it's safe to say that Wisconsin (my alma mater) rules college hockey.

This was the sixth NCAA championship for the Badger men, but the first since 1990. I was at the first one, in 1973 in the old Boston Garden. But there was no college hockey for women back then.

One of the interesting factoids coming out of this that one family has a member on each of the squads. I wonder if there has ever been a brother-sister pair on national championship teams in the same sport before.