Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Broadway or Bust

If we were to go to NYC for Dar's Birthday, we'd have to see:

Spring Awakening
Winner of eight 2007 Tony Awards, including Best Musical!

Singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik and playwright Steven Sater team up with acclaimed director Michael Mayer (Sideman, Thoroughly Modern Millie), innovative choreographer Bill T. Jones and a dynamic young cast to create this exhilarating and provocative new alt rock musical about first loves, hidden passions and lasting regrets. Spring Awakening arrives on Broadway after a sold-out run at off-Broadway's Atlantic Theatre Company.

Based on Frank Wedekind's controversial 19-century play, which was banned for 71 years, Spring Awakening boldly depicts how young people navigate the thrilling, confusing and mysterious time of their sexual awakening. Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's songs illuminate the volatile urgency of

adolescent self-discovery, the burning intensity of early friendships and the turbulent relationship to an uncomprehending adult world. The story centers around a brilliant young student named Melchior, his troubled friend Moritz and Wendla, a beautiful young girl on the verge of womanhood. Although the musical is set in the distant past, the score is fresh, modern and exciting—and so is the multitalented cast.



Monday, June 25, 2007

Hotlanta Gay Pride Festival

From the Colors Concert with Cyndi Lauper to the Pride Parade and festival in the park, it was a fabulous weekend in Hotlanta: Our photos and AJC Account...

Fun reigns at Pride fest
Gay-themed events bring colorful crowd

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution
Published on: 06/25/07

Australian Robert Tarasov has attended gay pride celebrations around the world. Atlanta's, he says, is among the best.

"It's unreal," said Tarasov as he surveyed the hundreds of floats before Sunday's Atlanta Pride Festival parade. "It's totally exceeded my expectations."

Elissa Eubanks/Staff
The rainbow flag of gay rights is carried down Peachtree Street during the 2007 parade in Atlanta on Sunday. The theme this year was ÒOur Rights, Your Rights, Human Rights.Ó
Elissa Eubanks/Staff
Anya Maleknasri, 23, of Virginia wears her special top Sunday at the 2007 parade by AtlantaÕs gay and lesbian community.


Reader photos

About 300,000 people were expected to attend the three-day festival, which concluded Sunday night. Half of them, it seems, were in the parade.

Some wore leather. Others glammed it up in taffeta. Some were grandmothers. Some line-danced, declaring, "I can't even two-step straight."

"You're not going to see this kind of diversity anywhere else," said Owen McCord, 31, of Atlanta. She was on a float promoting the Court of Kings, a coterie of "drag kings."

"We're like one huge family," she said.

And the family is open to all.

"Pride is not just about gay folks," said Kindle Powell, 26, of Atlanta. Powell was one of the "Straight Women in Support of Homosexuals" marching in the parade.

"For me, it's about celebrating my friends, showing them my support," she said.

Billee Pendleton-Parker has been coming to Atlanta Pride "for more years than I can remember." An administrator at Georgia Tech, Pendleton-Parker, 55, said the next generation is much more open-minded about homosexuality.

"They're like 'so what,' but in a good way," she said. "I think the movement has been mainstreamed, but a visible show of support is critical. We've moved very far, but there's still a long way to go."

With the festival in its 37th year, some participants worry that Pride has become more about partying and less about making a statement.

"There's a lot of education needed, both for the gay community and the straight community," said John Paul Griffin, 30, of Atlanta.

"Is it a protest or a party? I don't even think we know the answer to that," said Robert Bryant, 36.

Bryant rode a bike in the parade, with large photographs of Coretta Scott King and daughter Yolanda — both of whom died within the last two years — mounted on the back.

"We lost two really good friends to our community, and I thought it was important for us to say thank you," Bryant said.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Chastain Partytime

Celebrating the Summer Solstice:

The True Colors Concert (click for our photos and videos)

The web site:


Deborah Harry

True Colors Tour 2007

The Human Rights Campaign has joined forces with legendary performer Cyndi Lauper to launch a national tour in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. The True Colors 2007 Tour will feature Cyndi and other incredible artists including Erasure, Debbie Harry, The Dresden Dolls and Margaret Cho as well as a variety of special guests, including Rufus Wainwright in certain cities. In addition, HRC will receive a portion of every ticket sold.

Margaret Cho

Cyndi Lauper has long been a supporter of the GLBT community, and particularly of HRC. Her motivation for this tour stemmed from her desire to give back to the community for the love and support they have given her throughout her career, while bringing gay and straight audiences together in support of equality.

Watch the video produced for True Colors and take action for hate crimes legislation.

For more information about the tour please visit the official site at

Watch the MSNBC interview with Cyndi Lauper on the Today Show, and hear her preform her classic hit "True Colors."

View photos from the Washington, D.C. show.

Watch Cyndi Lauper on the Today Show
Watch the interview here

The Dresden Dolls


Sing On


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Paula Gately Tillman

Paula's Venice Wows Baltimore

Paula's Page with links to her Venice Collection:


photo by Jameson

The review of her work by the
Baltimore Sun:

Art Column

Portraits of an artist emerging into her own

Art: Glenn McNatt

The romance of Venice

Anyone who has ever visited Venice soon realizes that it is surely one of the most magical cities in the world, a quaint, floating metropolis painted in pastel colors that seems like something out of a fairy tale.

Photographer Paula Gately Tillman captures the city's dreamlike quality and uncanny aura of dwellings frozen in time in her richly evocative series of Venetian landscapes, on view in The Gallery at La Terra in Hampden.

Venice is one of the most photographed cities on Earth, but like the face of a beautiful woman, one never tires of its image. Tillman's pictures reprise many of the city's most famous landmarks - the Piazza San Marco, the Grand Canal, the Rialto, etc. - and her finely graduated, atmospheric digital black-and-white prints perfectly describe the watery mystery that envelops the place like a shroud.

One comes away from this lovely show reassured that beauty, everywhere threatened, still holds a purchase on the world in Venice, a city whose timeless image and very name remain synonymous with romance.

Dreams of Venice runs through June 30 at The Gallery at La Terra, 4001 Falls Road.,0,2981762.column

Keep clicking...


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Teen Sex and the State of Denial (Georgia)

In case you haven't heard, the state of Georgia has imprisoned a young man with excellent grades, the offer of a college scholarship for sports, and an otherwise promising future because, at the age of 17, he had oral sex with a 15-year-old girl. Though the sex was at a wild party and was video taped, it was nonetheless consensual. Had the boy, Genarlow Wilson, fucked the girl, he would not be in jail today. But because it was oral sex (Oh God!), he was convicted of an offense that carried a 10 year sentence.
Seeing the injustice, the Georgia legislature repealed that law and wrote a new one making such consensual sex a misdemeanor. They did not, however, make the new law retro-active. Wilson, already in jail for over two years, has remained there. A superior court judge, hearing Wilson's appeal, ruled the sentence of ten years cruel and unusual and overturned the conviction. He ordered Wilson freed.
However, Georgia's enlightened Attorney General, Thurbert Baker, ran to appeal that ruling, saying the judge didn't have that authority. So Wilson remains in jail.

Here are the editorials appearing in today's AJC by myself and by Cynthia Tucker, the paper's editor:

READERS WRITE: The Genarlow Wilson case

For the Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/20/07

Attorney general should be ashamed

The Genarlow Wilson case is a disgrace. Yes, the letter of the now-repealed law may indeed call for this once-promising young man's continued jailing, but the fact that his case has brought the repeal of a very bad law should enter the legal thinking, especially of state Attorney General Thurbert Baker.

The judge who ordered Wilson freed understands justice and fairness far better than Baker does. Consensual sex between a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old is not something rare or atrocious. That Baker wants to continue to punish Wilson for what is now in Georgia a misdemeanor, and was for Wilson an act of foolish, poor judgment, is a worse crime than the offense itself.


Cynthia Tucker goes into much more detail:

Baker can't blaze trails with caution

Published on: 06/20/07

When Thurbert Baker was elected in 1998, consolidating his hold on the office of attorney general, his victory was the state's triumph, another bit of proof that racism's chokehold on the Deep South had loosened. A moderate, consensus-building Democrat, Baker has won re-election twice since then, accumulating, along the way, a reservoir of respect, admiration and political capital.

But given the chance to spend some of that capital in a good cause, Baker has refused to do so. His response to the case of Genarlow Wilson — a young man imprisoned for 10 years for receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl when he was 17 — has been deeply disappointing.


Cynthia Tucker

It was no great surprise that Baker declined to come to Wilson's defense after the Legislature failed earlier this year to pass a bill that would have released the young man from prison. That would have been uncharacteristic of the attorney general, who has worked hard at keeping his tenure free of controversy.

But last week, Baker chose to take a hard line against Wilson's release, filing an appeal to the ruling by Monroe County Superior Judge Thomas H. Wilson. (While Baker wrote in this newspaper that Wilson has been offered a deal that would give him first-offender status and no registration on the sex offender's list, Wilson's attorney, B.J. Bernstein, said Tuesday she had received no such formal offer.)

In a pointed, no-nonsense ruling on June 11, the judge ordered Wilson freed, calling his imprisonment "cruel and unusual." He pointed out that the Legislature had rewritten the law that ensnared Genarlow Wilson and his then-adolescent buddies, who drew stiff sentences for their behavior at a raunchy New Year's Eve Party in 2003 because of a statute aimed at older sexual predators. If Wilson committed the same offense today, he'd be charged with a misdemeanor.

Baker claims the judge overstepped his bounds in shortening Wilson's sentence, but that is a point of much debate. This much is clear: Baker would have been well within the law simply to ignore the judge's ruling, to let it stand. Had he done so, Wilson would have been freed.

Instead, the attorney general has hidden behind statutes, claiming he must follow the letter of the law. He knows better. The law and justice are not always compatible. Had Martin Luther King Jr. slavishly obeyed unjust laws, the history of this state — and Baker's own career — would have been quite different.

Besides, Baker was not elected to be a legal automaton. The fact is that prosecutors and attorneys general have enormous discretion, choosing which cases to pursue vigorously, which to pursue less so, and which injustices and malfeasances to ignore.

Indeed, Baker has ignored many other offenses. While other attorneys general — notably Eliot Spitzer, now governor of New York — were building resumes as crusading defenders of the public good, Baker hewed closely to a guarded and low-key approach, lest he offend powerful interests. As just one example, he didn't join the lawsuit against tobacco companies until 40 other states had done so.

Baker's years in public office, including several years in the General Assembly, suggest a man who is cautious by temperament — never one to rock the boat, much less lob grenades. And he no doubt grasps the political realities of being a black Democrat in a majority-white state controlled by Republicans. He clearly doesn't want to embolden his political rivals, who might accuse him of coddling a "criminal."

But what's the point of holding an office year after year if you won't use it to right a wrong? Exerting power on behalf of the powerless is the only honorable reason to amass power in the first place. Aren't there some principles worth the risk of political defeat? Where would we be if Lyndon Johnson had refused to push for the Civil Rights Act because it was too politically risky? Or if Ellis Arnall had not repealed the poll tax?

Baker's cautious approach might ensure him a very long tenure as Georgia's attorney general. But it won't earn him much of a legacy.

Cynthia Tucker is the editorial page editor. Her column appears Wednesdays and Sundays.

Party carefully.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bye Bye Spyder

Today, a trucker took away my 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder

(Did I mention how apropos an Eclipse is to the Zone of Totality?).

It was hard to part with such a great car that has provided so much fun and great rides to great places, especially top-down cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We'll be wheeling now in our upgraded 1976 Mercedes and a new car we have yet to choose.

Just Rolling Along,


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tony: Last Shot

ike the burning of the film in Bergman's Persona, the ending of The Sopranos just stops. Will it start up again as Persona does? Will there be a film to explain the suspense and paranoia in the diner as Tony and family gather and eat onion rings? Will Tony be arrested, shot in revenge for whacking Phil, or wind up like Uncle Junior in the nursing home, not remembering his family or where he hid the stash?

References and hints abound in this last episode. AJ will be making porno/slasher films. Meadow will be a lawyer. Paulie will be haunted by superstition and a spooky cat that appears as Twilight Zone is on the tube. Psychoanalysis will thrive in a new foxy woman with the same Mona Lisa smile as Dr. Melfi. Corrupt life goes on--just as Bush and Rove go on dancing like clowns on the T.V. A.J. and his new girl watch laughing.

What does it say about us that we yet identify with this monster mobster who is perplexed by life, and so unaware of his own evil? And why did Tony choose Journey over Tony Bennett on the juke?

All I can say is-- I hope they do make the movie. We deserve it.

Speaking of deserving it, Here's what Salon has to say (brilliant, as usual)

"The Sopranos" goes dark

David Chase gives fans the finale they deserve -- one they can argue about for years to come.

By Heather Havrilesky

Jun. 11, 2007 | For his final trick, "Sopranos" writer/creator David Chase made Tony Soprano disappear without fanfare. In what may go down as the most heart-stopping final scene of a drama series in the history of television, Tony walked into a restaurant, sat down at a booth, ate a few onion rings, and . . . that was it. Roll credits.

As the screen went black in the middle of a line from the song "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey, it was hard not to wonder, Is Chase brilliant for so thoroughly subverting our expectations, or... is he just an asshole?

Reading the predictions leading up to this final episode, it was easy enough to see why Chase might want to mess with our heads. There were the expected ones: Tony would get killed, go to prison, go into witness protection and rat out the New York family. But then there were the theories that tied together every loose end from every episode into one big tangled mess: The Russian mobster from Pine Barrens was going to return, finally, seeking revenge! AJ was going to kill his own father! Adriana secretly survived and was going to come out of hiding! Dr. Melfi's shrink and colleague, Elliott Kupferberg, would be revealed as the secret boss of Phil Leotardo! Everyone would die in a massive terrorist explosion!

If we got sick of hearing about other people's speculations on how "The Sopranos" would end in just one week, imagine how Chase has been feeling for the past three or four years. Creating a cultural phenomenon this huge is an experience that can change a sensitive soul, after all, and make him act out against his fans. Look at J.D. Salinger. His books were obscenely popular, but no one understood! They were all jackasses, as far as he was concerned. Was Sunday night's finale Chase's way of telling us all to fuck right off?

If so, it was fitting that the big F.U. should come from the mouth of the show's least respectable character, self-pitying, idiot-savant A.J., who explodes in an angry outburst after Bobby's funeral. Disgusted with the idle Oscar-related small talk at his table, he rages, "You people are fucked. You're living in a fucking dream!" Then he snipes that Americans distract themselves from their country's atrocious acts by "watching these jack-off fantasies on TV."

Later, after A.J. has been coaxed out of following his convictions into the military and to Afghanistan, and led into temptation by his parents with a new BMW and the promise of a cushy job working on -- what else? -- some crappy film cobbled together by a bunch of halfwits, he sits on the couch with his high school girlfriend, snickering at viral videos of rappin' Karl Rove and Bush dancing. There we are, America! Sending each other YouTube videos, chuckling at "The Daily Show," instead of rioting in the streets. Crisis of conscience narrowly averted!

Even so, Tony may not have eaten lead, but he didn't exactly get off easy in his final days onscreen. Chase turned up the flame on his boiling pot until we were all sweating, showing us how nasty Tony could be, making us hate ourselves for ever caring about him, and demonstrating how miserable things could get for Tony if his luck didn't hold. In these last few hours, Chase crafted each episode into a dense, claustrophobic, melancholy work of art, each one more solemn and heartbreaking than the last.

But on Sunday night, he returned to the show's original twisted tragicomic roots: A.J. watches in awe and disbelief as his car goes up in flames because he parked too close to a patch of dry leaves; Phil Leotardo is shot, his head then crushed under the wheel of his own car (Grandbabbies waving bye-bye from the backseat! Bystanders vomiting!) in a scene so rich and silly it felt like "The Sopranos" parodying itself; Tony and Carmela speak to A.J.'s shrink and Tony slips easily into a discussion of how incredibly cruel his mother was to him. We can see the next few decades flash before Carmela's eyes: This is Tony's never-ending sob story, and it doesn't matter who's listening.

As we've been reminded all season, Tony is all about Tony, no matter whom he pretends to be protecting. He's not necessarily a complete sociopath. He's just your average self-interested, smug American. What was Steve Perry singing in that final scene?

Working hard to get my fill,
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin' anything to roll the dice,
Just one more time
Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on

(Chase really does have the last laugh, here, making us pick apart lyrics to a Journey song, for Christsakes.)

The comedy didn't begin and end with Tony, though. One of the best lines of the night came from darling daughter Meadow, explaining to Tony why she decided to give up on med school in order to pursue a career in law instead:

Meadow: You know what really turned me? Seeing the way Italians are treated. It's like Mom says. And if we can have our rights trampled like that, imagine what it's like for recent arrivals.

Tony: Well...

Meadow: If I hadn't seen you dragged away all those times by the FBI, then I'd probably be a boring suburban doctor.

Of course we know that Tony wishes Meadow were a boring suburban doctor, but the look of suppressed disbelief on his face goes beyond that. It's almost like he wants to say, "Med, let's get real, here. I am a criminal."

He says nothing, but it's official: Meadow's denial is as complete as her mother's -- and her fate matches her mother's fate as well.

And speaking of matching fates, Detective Harris is made out to look like Tony's long lost twin, working long hours, yelling at his wife, then sleeping with a coworker, presumably the agent in Brooklyn who told him where Leotardo was hiding. When Harris hears that Leotardo has been shot, he cheers. The home team pulls off another win! There is no moral high ground here - not among FBI agents, or among therapists. Everyone is out for themselves.

Of course, some of these are scenes we've seen before: Tony sits next to an unconscious Sil in the hospital, silently, just as he's done with so many of his guys. Paulie is reluctant to take a top job because he's superstitious, since the others who've filled that post have died before him. But Tony wants him to do it, so he agrees, a grim look darkening his face after he's surrendered to Tony's wishes. It's not just Tony who's trapped in this life for good.

And then, we see where it all leads: Tony finally takes a trip to see Uncle Junior, who doesn't even recognize him. When Tony reminds June that he once ran the North Jersey mob with Tony's father, the old man replies apathetically, "That's nice." As Tony strides away, like he can't get out fast enough, we recognize that look on his face: It's all a big nothing. June may as well have told him, "This thing of ours, it doesn't amount to shit in the end, so you'd better enjoy yourself while you can."

Afterwards, as Carmela and A.J. settle into the booth with him, we can see that Tony once again feels his luck is changing. In response to A.J.'s premature complaints about his new job, Tony tries to joke around to keep from busting his jaw.

Tony: It's an entry-level job. Now buck up!

A.J.: Focus on the good times.

Tony: Don't be sarcastic.

A.J.: Isn't that what you said one time? Try to remember the times that were good?

Tony: I did?

A.J.: Yeah.

Tony: Well, it's true, I guess.

Even as Tony agrees, once again, that each day is a gift, this last scene may have been a gag gift sent special delivery to the loyal Sopranos audience. Chase played us like a grand piano, dragging out every suspenseful trick and visual reference in the book. Of course we thought Tony and his family were going to die in a hail of gunfire. There was the surly-looking guy, glancing at Tony, slipping into the bathroom, sure to emerge seconds later with a gun, "Godfather"-style. There was the blasting music, the close-up on Meadow's clutch as she tried in vain to parallel park her stupid car, over and over again, and then almost got run over crossing the street. This was it! Something big was going to happen!

But does Chase really want to go out like that, subverting a few decades of mob clichés? When "The Sopranos" has always transcended its genre with smart, lovely moments that went to the heart of suburban American angst, was it really fair to end in a flurry of inside jokes and a great big head fake?

Instead of taking Tony down out of karmic retribution, Chase got his karmic revenge on us for caring too much about this "jack-off fantasy on TV" in the first place.

And yet... is it possible that we're witnessing Tony's last moment alive? What did Bobby say to him on the boat, in the first episode of this last run? "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?" Maybe the abrupt ending is Tony getting shot, without even realizing it?

That's probably wishful thinking, like hoping that there really is a Santa Claus simply because it would make the holidays much more interesting. We've never seen things from Tony's perspective, so why would we start now? And wouldn't we at least know who killed him?

No. Tony's story simply ended abruptly. Since we didn't have to a chance to say it before, we'll say it now: Goodbye, Tony. Looks like you won't go to prison (not yet, anyway), and you won't rat, and you won't finally get your come-uppance, dying in a bloody heap. You'll be immortalized eating onion rings, chuckling, focusing on the good times.

Just like the rest of us. Going to hell in a red leather booth, with Journey playing in the background.

-- By Heather Havrilesky

Bang on...


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Key West, June 2007

'Twas a relaxing trip to Key West. Have a look:

KeyWest 07

Keep Cool.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Cocktails, Key West, and Henny Penny Coughs

Welcome to our State Park!

Watching the French Open, sipping mimosas, aglow from a sunny day at the beach, I can't help being bemused by the travel news from Atlanta: "Speaker speaks..."
Here's my take on the TB story:

Nothing pleases our news media more than hysteria (Fears about TB patient overblown, doctors say, AJC). Henny-Pennys are all over the news telling us about the potential horrors of global disease. Even the man with TB seems confused by the frenzy of reporting, not knowing whether he is a threat or not, or even whether he is, in fact, married. Never has a story had more contradictions than the tale of this man's travels and honeymoon. No doubt, he shall spend the next two months writing that multi-million dollar book about the time since he learned he has TB and his wedding ceremony on the island of Santorini to the daughter of a TB specialist. With such a setting, I think I'll wait for the movie.

Here in Key West Hippie heaven, it's all a tad surreal.

Clear Sailing...