31 December 2004

silver sword


the last 2 months of the year that was have held such sorrow.

but let the sadness take its place with all the joy it brought me. I was able to spend precious time with my parents & with friends     some of whom I've now known for decades. I met new people who I hope will be friends for whatever years remain. my cat Melina has given me amazing affection.

there have been movies & meals     art & poems. & travels to so many places.

I depart the year with a memory of a plant. it's been in my mind all day. the silver sword belongs to the sunflower family but looks more like a yucca. the particular variety I saw in 2004 only grows out of the cinder of Haleakala     more than 10000 feet above Maui.

29 December 2004

hail to the chief

our vacationing president pledges $35 million for international earthquake relief.

meanwhile in DC more than $40 million is being spent on his inaugural festivities.

28 December 2004

the bodies stack up

when there is so much death I can't handle it. maybe that's why I'm so curious abt the fate of photographer Fernando Bengochea. an individual with a face & a history is a path to coping with the loss of more than 59000 lives.

& as so often happens once I begin to think abt it death invades every moment. I found some old journal entries in a file & there was the story of the death by fire of young poet Doug Baird in 1986. then to some poetry blogs & there was David Trinidad's poem abt Rachel Sherwood.

it's always everywhere but some days I can dance with death then go on to do the dishes while other days it holds me so tight I struggle for breath.

27 December 2004

"The 12 Chairs of Xmas"

I rec'd more cards today than I did before the holiday. & thankfully the one I was anticipating most.

John Zabrucky was an art student at Kent State in the '70s. I no longer recall if his major was graphic design or film. but he was active in both. I recall an ad he designd for a campus screening of "The Wizard of Oz." John went to Hollywood where he workd as an art director. & along the way became the man behind a business calld Modern Props. if you're making a movie & need a telephone or a table you can rent it from his company.

for years now perhaps the most covetd holiday mailing in Hollywood has been from Modern Props. in the past they've sent everything from a deck of cards to temporary tattoos. with the arrival of the year's final month you begin to wonder what will come next.

this year was a delight: a DVD calld "The History of the Chair in a Holiday Minute." you see a babe in skimpy white costume & high heel black boots on one side of a large turntable. on the other side a stud in lederhosen & scarf. going around between them is a series of chairs from Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1897) to Dani & Roz Hayes (2003). & of course they can all be rentd from Modern Props. the video was directd by a longtime pal of John's -- Gerald Casale. he composes & makes music videos now but you may remember him as a member of DEVO. we were all at Kent at the same time.

I haven't seen John in some 14 years. at one point last week I had a flash: nothing in the mail from Modern Props. I began to feel sad. but then today it came & one more holiday was all the brighter. thx John...

26 December 2004

work day

startd writing late ayem & suddenly it was 5 hours later. a break to spend time with Melina & fix dinner & watch more of the earthquake/tsunami devastation. then a bit more writing.

25 December 2004

Beethoven & Beets

neighbor Rita & I went to town to hear Chee-Yun perform Beethoven's only violin concerto. then back to my house for a Brazilian dinner:
salad (shellfish shrimp on greens with a slice of marinatd mozzarella & a scattering of black olives & cherry tomatoes)
honey baked ham with tropical fruit relish
beet/potato salad
chocolate mousse.

leftovers & laundry
family phone calls
on tv: Kurt Browning evoking Nijinsky
Kafka's "The Bucket Rider" (sent by David Meredith)
next to last "Bridge over Arroyo" photo
Zeffirelli's Callas film
Alex in Movieland revisions
a glimpse of Percy Helton (circa 1951).

23 December 2004


1976 photo by Roy Blakey Posted by Hello

so much of any holiday season is abt music. that of now but as one ages more often that of another season.

as I clean house today getting ready to be somewhat social tomorrow I put on CDs. & there was Gotham. listening to one of my all-time favorite groups always propels me back to the '70s. seeing them perform on both coasts was a thrill then & a happy memory now.

I esp livend up when their cover of Peter Allen"s "Go to Rio" came on. manana I'm preparing a Brazilian dinner.

the trio no longer performs together. but happily all three of these dear men are still with us. so before I return to scrubbing floors let me send out major holiday hugs to David & Gary & Michael for all the years of joy they've brought me.

22 December 2004


my friends know me well. today I rec'd 3 gifts: all were chocolates. this addiction is curtesy of my mother.

thank you Mom. hope you're enjoying yrs as well.

21 December 2004

20 December 2004

"Pelican Dreaming"

Mark Young writes this ayem:
I began school in another town
where I refused to wear shoes so that I could break
the ice on the puddles with my bare feet.

I'm off to the gym with that in my rucksack.
I've run with bare feet to the curb for the paper
but the gym is a mile or so away
& there is no snow on the ground today.

I'm off to the gym with shoes on my feet
& young Mark in my head.

18 December 2004

there's no business like

Miss Mahaffey   adviser to my high school paper   had a subscription to the Broadway series at the venerable Hanna Theater in nearby Cleveland. unable to use one of her tickets   she gave it to me. & so I saw my first stage musical. it was "West Side Story" with its original star Larry Kert. I was so excitd I thot I'd leap out of my seat.

thousands of plays later I still can get a jolt from live theater. so I was keen on seeing Rick McKay's "Broadway: The Golden Age." & it doesn't disappoint. a blend of old footage with fresh interviews   it's a major thrill. I found myself often on the verge of. most of the archival material was new to me. to hear Laurette Taylor for the first time. to see precious footage of Kim Stanley on stage. combine this with more recent observations from Julie Harris & Chita Rivera. I cd easily see this one again.

17 December 2004

The Death-Defying Judy Henske

there aren't many broads left. PC saw to that. thankfully Judy Henske never subscribd to that nonsense.

when I got back from fondling an Academy Award Henske's new CD was in my mail with a note from the lady herself asking if I was still writing. it's been some time since I dedicatd "Twenty Sonnets Bound in Gold" to Henske & she's probably wondering why the hell I haven't written anything for her lately.

she blastd her way into my life when I went to college. one of those tv shows specializing in folk singers. sure.... that may have been her way in but she never fit the Baez mold. she did some folk & some rock & some jazz & some stand-up. there was no one like her. she was bawdy & had a honytonk voice that cd break yr heart one minute & melt yr fillings the next. without Henske there wd have been no Janis Joplin     no Bette Midler.

back in the '60s Woody Allen was Henske's opening act at the Village Gate. there are those who say that the inspiration for Annie Hall is more Henske than Diane Keaton. Henske made a movie & did an Anita Loos musical off-Broadway.

the only time I saw her live was in the fall of 1965. La Cave in Cleveland. she'd introduce a song with a long sometimes surreal story. those who know me know when I'm in an audience because of my laugh. that nite the laugh was in overdrive. while others were chuckling politely I was letting loose. & Henske knew it. she startd looking straight into my eyes     directing her story at me. I've cherishd that memory for almost 40 years now.

Henske became part of a group (Rosebud) before sort of disappearing. if you were careful you knew she was still writing songs. but they were for other singers. we now know that she was playing mom. but with the chick out of the nest she came back & boy did she ever come back. Loose in the World starts off with "Mad Dog Killer." it was as if she never left the building.

the new CD She Sang California has some new songs & some of her oldies. on a first listen I was thrown to the floor with "Western Wisconsin." she first record'd it in 1971. it was beautiful then. it's even more beautiful now. the voice is that of a woman who's had a life.

if you haven't heard Judy Henske -- shame on you. but there is a remedy. go to her site & order some records. for a virgin I'd suggest listening first to High Flying Bird. but be careful. when this broad gets you in her web you'll never get loose.

touching Oscar

Australian cinematographer Dean Semler is showing his photographs on Canyon Rd. before his opening tonite he gave a little talk     a quickie tour of his career. all his films were shot in color but his photographs are only in black & white. I askd if he'd like to shoot a b & w feature. he sd he always has but that even if one were made today it'd probably he shot in color & processd into b & w.

give me that thing Posted by Hello

16 December 2004

Virginia Madsen

yesterday I fixatd on a movie star who died 7 years before my birth. today my concentration is on one who was born when I was already 20.

I'm not sure what I first saw Virginia Madsen in but I felt an immediate appeal. she seemd a young Lana or Kim. despite working with such important directors as Lynch & Coppola she never became a superstar. but she also never disappointd. & she never stoppd working & growing as an actress.

in the past week she's been cleaning up this year's supporting actress awards for a little picture calld "Sideways." so I went to see it this afternoon. & sure enuf Madsen delivers. it's a quiet performance but a deep one. she creates beauty from a speech abt why she "got into" wine. for a moment she's so incandescent I felt tingles shooting thru my body.

I like picking young talent for stardom. sometimes I'm right     sometimes not. & sometimes -- like with Virginia Madsen -- it's taken 2o years but when that happens it's certainly all the sweeter.

15 December 2004

what is rememberd

silent screen buffs know Marie Prevost as a Mack Sennett bathing beauty who went on to star in a trio of Lubitsch films. I don't recall having seen her before tonite. "The Racket"     one of the first movies to be nominatd for an Oscar as Best Picture     had long been on the lost list. but a print was found in a Howard Hughes collection in Las Vegas. Turner Classic Movies had it restord & it was shown tonite for the first time since its original 1928 release. Prevost is a sassy nite club singer     a blonde flapper with plenty of pizazz.

unfortunately most people today remember Marie Prevost for a photo in Hollywood Babylon & the lyrics of a Nick Lowe song. after the death of her mother in a car accident Prevost began drinking & adding pounds. her career was on the skids. she died of alcoholism in a cheap apartment. her dog began eating her body. Kenneth Anger uses a picture of her corpse which no doubt was Lowe's "inspiration."

her sparkle in the once-lost Lewis Milestone picture I saw tonite makes me want to find more of her work. it looks as if she deserves to be rememberd for more than the manner of her exit.

14 December 2004

out of Oklahoma

T. Cole Rachel writes in the current issue of The Out Traveler: "I went to school my entire life with the same 12 people..."

I recall my favorite poem in Cole's Surviving the Moment of Impact. it's calld "yr so great." I wonder now if this is an actual story or something made up. can there be "a crowded classroom" when there are only 12 in it? & does that matter? I imagine a future documentary of Cole's life in which the other 11 classmates are all interviewd. will the model for Jeremy Squires reveal himself? will he remember the valentine?

& then I return to my own life (surprise     eh?) remembering the making of valentines & valentine boxes in elementary school. a few years ago a classmate found me online & we exchangd recollections. she was a little heavy. she told me I sent her a valentine picturing an elephant on a scale. I had no memory of such cruelty & retrospectively felt awful. I wish I had my own Jeremy Squires story to relate but Cole has done it so brilliantly that I can read his poem & be him for that moment.

13 December 2004

my weekend

I flew to Palm Springs to be interviewd by Kimberly Nichols for The Bottom Line. it was the most unorthodox interview of my life. neither tape recorder nor notepad were present. even tho this was our first meeting I trustd Kimberly.

meeting Kimberly Posted by Hello

she had e'd me some time ago saying she likes my work & requesting an interview. we startd an online collaboration of digital self-portraits. so even before my arrival in her hometown I felt I knew her. she's a dame     in the film noir sense. larger than life.

the next nite I went to an appearance by John Waters. he's been at this for sometime. I last saw him do it at Kent State in 1985. now it's much more a stand-up comic's routine than a serious discussion of his work. I have no proof that we ever saw each other in Provincetown in the '60s but it's such a small place I presume we were at the A-House at the same time.

with Mr. Waters Posted by Hello

on saturday morning I experiencd one of those idyllic poolside moments that spin in memory till it glistens. later an internet buddy from LA droppd by to catch up.

yesterday was a balance of lollygagging & perambulation while today was a travel day.

09 December 2004

a quick hiatus

as a kid I was a big Al Jolson fan. I can still hear him singing "California here I come. right back where I startd from."

& this weekend I'll be back in my birth state. since I don't have a laptop I'll have to miss a few days here. but hopefully there will be stories galore to share upon my return.

08 December 2004


so what do my friends think of this?

the response has been mostly silence.

but dear Ira Joel weighd in last nite: checked out your blog, don't really understand the blog thing, its kind of like farting in the wind. No?

I think when I began this last month I thot I'd be joining the community of poets who have a lively interaction. but I'm not as intelligent as Silliman nor as witty as Beckett. & I certainly didn't want to copy the pissing contests that go on in some of those blogs. so I startd thinking of this as a continuation of my correspondence with Richard Martin.

Richard was one of the dearest people in my life & I miss him daily. in that time before everyone shot off e-mail he & I wd type out letters to each other on every possible topic. sometimes 3 & 4 letters a day. here I am with Ricahrd (he's on the right) in 1990:

now that I have Richard as my guide I feel more centerd here. so I'll keep on with whatever comes to mind.

06 December 2004

happy birthday Jim

"For Jim Provenzano's 19th Birthday" is one of my best-known poems. it's even been translatd into Greek by no less than Dinos Christianopoulos . it was written in 1980 when I was smitten by an attractive student whose talents (actor/dancer/writer/artist) were as estimable as his good looks. I was responsible for what I think was his first publication when I printd his portrait of James Dean with my poem "Autobiographical Fragment" as a broadside. Jim wd housesit when I took trips. sometimes we watchd movies together. at 37 I was -- even then -- "the older man." there was no romance & when he left Kent State we lost touch. but years later we reconnectd & happily we're now friends.

Jim has become a famous commentator on gay sports & an increasingly important novelist. I send him this on his special day.


there is a beauty
abt an old book

creases & dog ears
a poet’s teeth marks
once hot phone number
now forgot
half a snapshot
stuck between chapters
even a chocolate smudge

it all adds up
to a life

05 December 2004

festival: fade out

it's been a good one but this last day wasn't. I chose a pair of old forgotten films. they deserve to be forgotten.

04 December 2004

festival: day 4

another docs day:

I no longer recall when I heard abt Henry Darger but his story is as spellbinding as his art. Jessica Yu brings both life & art to the screen in "In Realms of the Unreal." the film offers valuable interviews with the few people who knew him. everything is held together by the precocious narration of Dakota Fanning. its a master ploy to have a young girl narrate the movie. & Fanning's amazing work is the most memorable narration in recent years.

Matt Sneddon's "The Truth or Consequences of Delmas Howe" is as much a document of contemporary gay history as it is a portrait of the painter. at a time in which red states prevail it's essential that this kind of film be made & seen.

03 December 2004

festival: day 3

I read more biographies than novels. so my passion for documentaries shd be no surprise. today I saw 4.

as a cineaddict I was drawn to "Tell Them Who You Are" for what I cd learn abt the career of Haskell Wexler. & I learnd a great deal. however as the son of a man dealing with his mortality I found the power of the film in what it reveals abt a difficult father-son relationship. like any significant piece of art it works on several levels.

"David Leddick's The Male Nude" is a disappointment. I appreciate Leddick's publishd scholarship but this film is a trifle. all that's new are a few haphazard interviews with photographers. my only joy here was chatting beforehand with Mel Fellini     a model for both George Platt Lynes & Paul Cadmus.

"Other People's Pictures" is a small gem. it's a study of snapshot collectors shot primarily at Chelsea Flea Market where Ira Joel Haber once took me. look for it.

but today's best came last. "The Loss of Nameless Things" is a major work. it relates the tragic but triumphant life of playwright Oakley Hall III.

Oakley Posted by Hello

it's an emotional film & before the tears had dried both Hall (left) & filmmaker Bill Rose (right) appeard for a discussion. so it turnd into a double treat.

02 December 2004

festival: day 2

"Kontroll" is Hungary's official entry for the foreign film Oscar. it's a genre-buster     a skillful combination of black comedy     social commentary & thriller. I dislike telling too much abt a film so all I'll say is that it takes place entirely underground. its writer-director is Nimrod Antal who I was told was born & grew up in LA. another new director to put on the watch list.

"At the First Breath of Wind" is a contemplative film from Italy. whether it's sublime or tedious may depend on how much coffee you've ingestd.

01 December 2004

Santa Fe Film Festival

for the past decade I've been doing my share of festivals. budget permitting I like to purchase a festival pass so I can take in pretty much what I want. but as I've begun to age the notion of seeing 5 or 6 films right after each other for 4 or 5 consecutive days seems less appealing. so for my current local festival I bought a 10-pack. that's abt as many movies as I feel I want to handle.

the festival began tonite with "The Assassination of Richard Nixon." it marks the directorial debut of screenwriter Niels Mueller & immediately makes him a director to watch. the lead role is playd by Sean Penn who remains one of our most watchable actors. his interior work can be amazing. I tend to have trouble when he goes for the hysterics -- altho nothing in this film is as bad as his daughter-screeching scene in "Mystic River."

Mueller was on hand for a q & a afterward. he's an honest & personable young man.