30 December 2019

a curiosity

I was going thru the worn album which holds many of the smaller movie star photos I collectd as a child.

MGM sent pictures of their stars in envelopes. but Universal-International & others sent post card images instead of actual photographs.  I was checking the later to establish dates for the collection.

& that's how I found this. it's on the back of the postcard from Eddie Fisher who I don't remember liking all that much. he was one of the few recording stars in the album which explains why this was sent from the east coast.

besides the useful information from the postmark I'm amused by the signature of 10-year-old me. why I signd the back of the postcard is a mystery. but why I did such a fanciful signing is even stranger. but I find it a sweet look back at little Alex.

& to those who still look in on this site which I fear I've neglectd of late may I wish you a happy new year. a whole new decade.

13 December 2019

let us keep on

it's been more than 3 decades since I met Tony Trigilio when he was a student at Kent. our circles overlapped in library & town. I remember us reading on campus together. & when he left we kept in touch. he was one of those whose work we chose to include in A Gathering of Poets. & I sent him one of my ties for the piece "Tie One On."

today he is a celebrated poet & writing teacher in Chicago where I last saw him for breakfast too many years ago.  & he has become famous for his series of poems based on the tv series "Dark Shadows."

I now have the third book of these poems -- Ghosts of the Upper Floor. & what an utter joy to find myself quoted in Tony's collection. of course I had to include this in Alex in Movieland. I love this layering or what Tony calls an accumulation. it's there in my long serial work & in his.

thank you old friend. & let us both keep on accumulating.

(from "Tie One On")

23 November 2019

a century ago

"Male and Female" was released 100 years ago today. so I watchd it this morning. the star is Gloria Swanson. but the first and last person seen on screen is Lila Lee who is utterly captivating of the lovesick maid. her performance is fresh & charming. it lacks the histrionics some see as a hallmark of film acting of that period.

Lila Lee plays a significant role in my life. I was only 14 when I first met her. her sister Peg Tufford was a realtor in Elyria. she'd appeard on Broadway opposite Al Jolson & had a film or two in her past but never had the acclaim of her famous sister. when Lila came to visit I pesterd her abt her career. she was my first link to silent cinema -- which over the decades has held great significance to me.

Lila appears in my work. here she is in "Ely Park":

Lila Lee walks by
history of film on her fragile shoulders

she appears again at the end of Ohio Triangle in a memory from the time my parents invited her to dinner.

I have great affection for Lila. so it was essential that I spend this centennial seeing one of her sweetest performances. one that remains vibrant after a century. & one that people are still enjoying.

Peg gave me this Elmer Fryer portrait of her with Lila. it hangs in my guest bathroom.

at Lila's grave in Elyria

19 November 2019

in my glass

"Children of Grass" is a collection of remarkable portraits of poets by B. A. Van Sise. I'm not in it. however this morning he sent me this photo he took yesterday. that's his reflection in the glass of my niche at Hollywood Forever.

I'm delightd that he took it & sent it to me. & how lovely to see all the lip prints. some friends find it macabre that I've set up my final resting place before that rest begins. however I'm completely enjoying the experience of seeing interaction with strangers. every lip print kisses my soul.

19 October 2019

name change

when Terry Hastings & I were concocting this photo project I told him of my boyhood infatuation with Helen Morgan after seeing her portrayd by Polly Bergen on "Playhouse 90." so those old albums of mine found their way into the photo.

when I askd Terry for his title so I cd post he told me "My Man." at first that sounded fine since it had the allure of old-fashiond torch singers. but then a bit of checking showd me that Morgan didn't sing that song. I knew it was made famous by Fannie Brice. so I notified Terry of that & mentiond a couple of her hits which had "man" in the title. & last nite at his retropective in Palm Desert the actual print was unveild & I saw his final title -- "Can't Help Lovin' That Man."

in addition to seeing the actual print (& receiving my #1 of an edition of 5) in his slide lecture ("Decade in the Desert") there was this huge blow-up.

a thrilling evening.

16 October 2019

"My Man" by Terry Hastings

this piece will be unveild at the Terry Hastings retrospective at University of California Riverside's Palm Desert campus this weekend

08 October 2019

another piano

photographer Stephen Baumbach has coverd a piano with photographs he's taken over the years. & today he added a poem of mine. I went to his studio to sign it. the piano will be on display during Pride weekend here in 3 weeks.

18 September 2019

my stunning life

(photo by Marconi Calindas)

I've had this long-time fantasy. I'm doing a nite club act in which I come out in a tux & feather boa & sit on a piano & sing.

yes. my singing career was over when I outgrew performing as a "boy soprano."

but one still has dreams.

today my dream came to as close to coming true as it ever will. Terry Hastings -- one of the best art photographers in the valley -- invited me to come to our dear friend Marconi Calindas' studio. there Marconi has paintd an upright piano which will be on display at Palm Springs Pride. I got into my tux & a boa I had. the latter wasn't as snazzy as those Helen Morgan used. but we're talking magic here. I made my way on top of the gayly paintd upright. it was hot under the professional lamps. but even with sweat & skinny boa I felt every bit the star.

I don't know what Terry will make from our shoot. but I trust his talent. & I'm loving every minute of my late-in-life career as a model. all lives have ups & downs. I no longer dwell on the downs. & this latest up is one more page in a biography I wdn't trade with anyone.

(photo by Marconi Calindas)

17 September 2019

morning rarity: coffee in bed. from that came a poem. & even after my mind jogs. sun on courtyard reminds me of the one I designd for Santa Fe. joining of indoors & out.

the universe is here.

22 August 2019

"Woman with Pink Umbrella"

she ambles thru Park Guell
her mind on bread

she can feel crunch of crust 
of pa de pages
can taste a bit of sobrassada
in pa de Sant Jordi

which to buy

"life is short" 
she thinks

so buy both

18 August 2019

RIP Don Cauble

Dave Roskos has announced the death of the poet.

I never met Don & our correspondence was slight. but our names have appeard together over the decades.

I think we first were together in the pages of Sattvas Review back in 1969. & in more recent years we both had broadsides publishd by Costmary Press & 48th St. Press.

on the website for his novel Don quotes me.

he once sent me a fun photo of himself with Doug Blazek but I can't find it now.

10 August 2019

some shoes last

in the late "60s I bought Warhol's "Autobiography of Alice B. Shoe" from New Gallery in Cleveland. it was stolen while I still lived in Twin Lakes. I've long suspectd the thief. it was one of the small sorrows of that period of my life. but it carried thruout because every time I saw another copy of the print in a show I became sad that I was robbed of the joy of living with it.

this morning I was cleaning the dining room & moved my small collection of shoe lasts. it brought back feelings of that loss. but now I try to live in joy. so I decided to do a series with my feet & the lasts.

they are all self portraits except for the full body shot (featuring Gary Sielaff's piece done from one of the lasts in my collection) which Estee Huff kindly took.

30 July 2019

art as a liferaft in difficult times

"I read the news today, o boy..."

it's been one of those mornings. the photograph of Stephen Romero celebrating his 6th birthday with a chocolate cupcake totally undid me. after the tears I wrote a poem for him. but then there were more tears.

so much bad news we become numb to it. but we daren't.

often what gets me thru is art. my mood brightend a bit when I learnd of "Teetertotter Wall."  this piece was done thru the border wall that separates a city in New Mexico with one in Old Mexico. to see children on both sides playing together for a moment erases smirks from faces of evil folks in our government.

& to help me thru I tried to switch my energy to creation. I was happy to have written a poem this morning. & I began thinking how rich creation makes my life. & for me it extends beyond my own writing & art pieces. I love collaborating with other artists.

recent work with Emeline Tate fed my soul. & then something I haven't reveald.

Terry Hastings is a photographer whose work I admire. he's doing a major piece calld "The Planets."  it will be unveild in a few months. he askd me to model the role of Saturn. 

he took several dozen remarkable photographs. only one of me will be in the final work. I don't know which one it will be. I askd Terry if he'd allow me to pick one to share here. I'm not saying this is the best or my favorite but I feel it conveys the sense of the piece as I understand it.

& so I won't allow the monster in the White House & the cowards in Congress to daunt me. we all must live with purpose. we must make joy out of chaos. it is our responsibility to live the lives denied to the children who die in his cages or from bullets.

12 July 2019

faces & places

my work is often abt connections & overlapping because that's what so much of my life is.

today has been strangely emotional because currents from my past have swum by me. in the afternoon a Facebook friend who I don't know postd some photos he had taken of Coral Sands in Hollywood. I've written of this place before. it's had a long history & a couple of names but I knew it as a gay play spot. recently a rich person bought the property & closed it. it's been gutted. the photos I saw today were haunting. the walls are there but little else.  altho some deride the motel as simply seedy there is a rich history from Divine living there & holding court to art installations in rooms which even David Hockney visitd.

after thinking abt Coral Sands I decided to check on someone I met there in 2008. his name is Mikel Padilla -- a costume designer for movies & tv.  even tho we aren't in touch I thot I'd notify him of the photos. but when I lookd him up I discoverd he died a couple of months ago.

our time together was brief but I have a vivid memory of him in sleek black underwear. he's simply one of thousands of faces that pass us all by. but his name wd come to me whenever I rememberd Coral Sands.

this evening it's too hot to be out so I sit in my study writing. I'm thinking of Mikel Padilla & the address so many dismiss as a dive on Western Ave. this is what history is. faces & places. & the stories we tell abt them.

28 June 2019

an anniversary

Stonewall Inn opend in 1967. it was one of the only gay bars in NYC which allowd dancing.

& dancing was what I did with Jean-Claude van Itallie when we went there in oct 1968. 8 months later the riots happend.

that bar was actually 2 pieces of property -- 51 & 53 Christopher St. it closed after the riots. then it was split. the bar which now calls itself Stonewall startd in 1991 at 53 Christopher. none of the original interior remains.

in my poem "Swimmers Out of Water" I reference dancing with Jean-Claude at Stonewall.

to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the uprising I was happy to participate in Stacey Brooks' "Tutu: A Year of Pride." he spent a year photographing men & women wearing rainbow tutus to commemorate this anniversary.

24 June 2019

Hippodrome Theater (1959)

Lana Turner
at a premiere
in Cleveland
on white ostrich feathers   

18 June 2019

Walt's leaves

on the back cover of the anthology I'm so happy to be in -- Lovejets: queer male poets on 200 years of Walt Whitman -- is this quote from Richard Blanco:

“This wide and impressive range of poetry echoing the spirit of Walt Whitman and his literary forebears demonstrates the essential embrace of community that we’ve always needed to feel whole with ourselves and among others, especially now during these tumultuous times. Celebrating what had to be largely hidden from view during Whitman’s day, the living queer male poets who grace the pages trumpet a glorious and unforgettable spectacle of passion and compassion.” 

going thru photo files tonite I found this. it's Blanco reading his poem at the second Obama inauguration. I'd forgotten that for that moment I put my copy of Leaves of Grass beneath the streaming image.

09 June 2019

a collaboration

a while ago I bought a small button piece by Emeline Tate at Janssen Art Space. then in my regular gallery going I met her. she came to my first book anniversary celebration. after that she suggestd a collaboration. this is what I wrote for her:


buttoning silence
lets words
come out to play

when white is witty
pink shrinks

let us know
how letters hurt

filling a square
with smiles
practice for paradise

a sloth got loose
in a library
& ate so many words
it shat poems

then she got to work using 3 of the little poems. & last nite they made their debuts on the Janssen walls.

(photo by Marconi Calindas)

I have always loved working with artists & photographers & choreographers & any other creative person who suggests such an adventure.

with the artist & a little piece she made for me

02 June 2019

"Kiss My Glass"

Selen Korkut is a Facebook friend who lives in Istanbul. on her last visit to the States she went to Hollywood Forever where she kissd my glass. happily she took this photograph.

you can almost see her reflection but you can clearly see lip imprints. this thrills me.

when she messaged me abt it she told me that preparing one's burial spot before death was "odd for my part of the world." my response: "yes it's odd that my final resting place is already on view but since I paid for it I thot why not put stuff in it now & enjoy it before I move in."

having been able to stage my niche has been comforting. I know that someday my physical remains will share eternal space with some of my literary remains. also I'm delightd that the Century Dimes are there for forever. that piece was literally touchd by so many loved ones over its decade. so it's as if the DNA of some of my favorite people will be with me forever.

& then the artist in me is happy that I've turnd this whole thing into an enduring art work. I've already heard from 2 strangers who love it. & apparently the imprint of lips has indeed begun. how special that I'm still here to appreciate the response.

27 May 2019

"Femme Fatale"

in 2011 a Dutch documentary filmmaker interviewd me abt Jetta Goudal. we were in the backyard of my friend Billy Berger in Culver City.  I often wonderd what became of that. I was searching for something else today & found this clip for "Diva."

later I did some more searching & discoverd the entire film online but with the title "The Woman Nobody Knows."

the director is Erik Brouwer. working the camera is his wife Do.

28 April 2019


sooooooo.... I went to an opening last nite. one of the artists showing— whose openings I always attend — came up to me & sd he was sorry to miss my event. I lookd at him sternly   put my finger on his nose & sd “shame on you.” he was so startled he cdn’t speak.

I’m too old to be polite.

21 April 2019

Easter memories

I disdain religions. most holidays have roots in them. or in commerce. so I have a complicated relationship to holidays.

I was born on Easter but have no memory of that.  I do remember one year Mom making a bonnet when she & her gal pals went to Cleveland for a tv show. she took a plastic plate & affixd to it a candy bar of the day which had the name of some food. something like "Cold Turkey." & then there was the magical time my folks hid hand-paintd plaster of paris Disney characters around the house for me to hunt. how I wish I still had those.

both of my parents loved to celebrate. every holiday was a chance for Mom to eat & for Dad to drink. & for both to share. for today's holiday I have fond memories of them making Easter cheese. I can still see the ball forming in cheesecloth hanging from a door knob & dripping into a big pot.

have I already recorded this somewhere? when you're as old as I & have written as much one forgets. my reason for putting any of this down is that it brings me close to my parents. they both adored holidays. I have both glad & sad memories of such.

I woke this morning with this image in mind & it's one which will carry me thru the day.

05 April 2019

I refuse

to allow this april to be a cruel month. because for me it's a triumph. my first book was publishd 50 years ago this month.

Into the Sea was publishd by Abraxas Press in an edition of  200 copies. I don't know how many survive but several are in important library collections.

I never expectd to live as long as I have. & so many of my contemporaries are dead. so this is quite the milestone.  most of my peers have workd the poetry fields for decades without much notice. but something is happening for me this month that's quite frankly a thrill.

on wed 24 april Marconi Gallery in Palm Springs will celebrate me from 5-8 pm. there will be a give-away of some of my out of print books. & at 6 I'll read a sampling of my work. then I'll unveil a portrait of me by Marconi Calindas.

most seeing this are too far away to join me but I'll be reading to you nonetheless. a half century of books is something.

01 April 2019


my friend Bob is visiting for a week. among his addictions is this place. I've never been. so I joind him for a trip there. we spent 12 hours. fun but exhausting.

11 March 2019

"End of the World Project"

so happy to have work in this anthology
because it's important
& because I share its pages
with so many good writers

04 March 2019

last year was hard to beat

but already this year looks like another milestone one for me.

it's the 50th anniversary of publication of my first book

plus the forthcoming publication of the first 30 years of Alex in Movieland (Crisis Chronicles Press).

& this morning I got notice of the upcoming publication of Lovejets which includes my work with poems by an amazing group of gay male poets honoring Walt Whitman.

it astounds me that I'm still here & still producing work & still dancing naked whenever I get the chance.

21 February 2019

another doc

old friends Todd Hughes & P. David Ebersole are editing their Pierre Cardin documentary. but they've also begun filming the next. & that subject -- Trini Lopez -- did an interview & mini-concert in town last nite for the cameras.

13 February 2019

at 4:57 a.m.

the late David Meredith appeard unexpectdly in my dream & I immediately woke up.

28 January 2019

"I am the Night"

is a mini-series which debuts tonite on TNT. however it actually debutd last nite. I know. I'm confused too. yesterday was that rare day when I felt chaind to the tv.  but when I discoverd TNT was screening a "preview" of the mini-series I added it to my hours before the small screen. I did so because the show is partly abt the Black Dahlia case.

anyone who knows me knows of my interest in true crime. & my particular passion for this case. so it's seepd into my work. my pal Todd Moore encouraged me to make Elizabeth Short work for me as Dillinger did for him. but I've never been ready to become that immersed.

last nite I was able to watch only the first hour. there was no mention of Short. there were 2 different stories which I knew wd merge & eventually involve the case. one story was abt a supposedly interracial child. it was so ordinary it was boring. the other was abt an old school journalist. it was pretty cliche as well but had the advantage of being playd by Chris Pine who is so watchable.

I know enuf abt the case that I bet I can predict where this is going. if I decide to follow it thru it will be less abt the case & more abt Pine's appeal.

anyway....... if you don't know I do have a small chapbook abt Elizabeth Short. 

Green Panda Press publishd it in an edition of 40 copies a decade ago. it's already a collector's item.

to observe the 70th anniversary of Short's murder Green Panda brought out a second printing in 2017.

14 January 2019

wonderful visit

Regina left this morning after 5 days of gourmet meals & museums & shopping & films. we also visitd Marconi Calindas in studio.

04 January 2019

Palm Springs International Film Festival

before the awards presentation began at opening nite gala I was walking among tables when I spottd Dale Chihuly. no one else was at his table so I askd if I cd chat with him & he agreed. I told him that years ago (when I later lookd it up it was 38) I'd seen him blow a piece of glass when he was in residence at Kent State.

"don't do that anymore" he sd.  "but let people know I did."

he askd if I knew Henry Halem. so I told him the story of buying a piece of Henry's for Mom years ago & that it's now in the collection at Allen Memorial Art Museum. he askd me to give Henry his good wishes.

we took the obligatory photo & then I was off to my table for the show.