Archive for March, 2004


Wednesday, March 31st, 2004

There is a great story about my subway ride today, which hopefully I will write and post later. My friend Bud. basically stopped blogging for a few weeks during which I’m guessing he was gathering himself for the coming storm. My nephew Sean Patrick is preparing himself for largely the same thing.

What the hell are we supposed to do? In my mind, this presidency has gone from one that supported things I don’t and pursued paths I wouldn’t, to a group of people who are hell-bent on destroying the ideals that our nation was founded on. I’m not hyperbolizing, look at the list…

Stolen election. Granting Haliburton contracts to rebuild Iraq before the war started. Scalia duck hunting with Cheney (which when taken with their claim about Rice’s testimony being an infringement of the separation of powers particularly ironic.) Lying to the American people about WMD in Iraq. Huge recess appointments of far right wing justices. Constitutional ban on gay marriage. Blacks being barred from voting in Florida, protestors being denied access to those in power… They are systematically taking apart the aspects of America that are most American.

That is in addition to the normal Republican things that trigger me, plus a littany of particularly Bush-ist problems. Prioritizing Star Wars missile defense. Lies about Uranium in Niger going to Iraq. Massive terrorist attacks in Europe as a direct retaliation of the war in Iraq, more people killed by Al Qaeda since September 11th than in the eight years Clinton was in office… Every day there is something else. School was cancelled in Boston so Bush could have a fundraiser there… and yet…

And yet… None of this matters. It occured to me today that Kerry’s just, y’know, nothing. He got the nomination because the Democrats want to win, and even a bad actor can tell you, if you have the wrong intention, you aren’t going to do a good job. He is a follower, and most of the time he doesn’t even know what he’s following.

I’m gonna vote against Bush, and when I pull the lever or push the punch card, I’m gonna do it *really* hard. But it won’t matter. I was never gonna vote for Bush. However, if McCain were running against Kerry, I might vote Republican.

This election is the Democrats’ to loose. And they are going to. No-one has any reason to vote for Kerry.

God, I hope I’m wrong.


Sunday, March 28th, 2004

A year after someone dies, they unveil the headstone. In the Jewish faith, that is, you wait one year and then you inveil the headstone, which should, I guess, be the end of the mourning, or at least the beginning of the end of the mourning.

Today, we had the unveiling for Jordana’s grandmother, who was buried a year ago. A year ago, there was driving snow and we had the awkward attempts at sideways umbrellas and people trying to be there for other people harder than they were trying to deal with their own shit.

It’s tough to know how to deal with death. I went to a funeral about eight years ago, the funeral of my girlfriend’s father’s mother. It was the kind of family that was a balancing act between terrific egos completely self absorbed, and desperate hangers-on that tried to placate the others in order to find their identity.

I didn’t quite fit in on either side, and the funeral was the beginning of the end of that relationship. My girlfriend wept epic tears and berated me for not being there for her more, but even better was her father and his wife. The father reverently, and for all to see, bent down and kissed the urn that contained the ashes, but his wife, the step-daughter to this woman who disliked her and whom she disliked, was caught between not wanting to be there at all and wanting to show the proper respect to her husband. So, instead of walking away, and instead of kissing the urn, she kissed her fingers and smacked the top of the urn, almost like a high five.

Today, there was a different dynamic. Everyone here would rather be helpful than helped. Jordana’s aunt said, “It’s a shame that she won’t be here this summer, we have three weddings and she would have loved this.”, that was really the extent of anyone crying out for help. The rabbi led the group, about twenty of us, and then at the end he turned to Aunt Cherie and said, “it isn’t a shame she won’t be there, the weddings are a testimony to her.” and he just looked at her until she smiled.

I have a lot of thoughts, always, about the fact that my children will have to figure out what they want to do about their jewishness. As the rabbi prayed, Jordana said the prayer under her breath, in Hebrew, a prayer that almost no-one else there knew. She’s admitted to me that she may become more Jewish as the years go by, and I’m prepared for the changes that will take place, no matter what direction.

But in the middle of the day, the year after the driving snow, as the Rabbi spoke, the sun came out and warmed the back of Jordana’s black jacket and the flat of my hand on the small of her back, and I heard Jordana’s grandfather, as he stared at the blank half of the stone that bore his wife’s name and waited for his, I heard him whisper to Aunt Cherie “don’t worry. She’ll be there.”

You Wouldn’t Believe Me

Monday, March 22nd, 2004

If you live in New York or LA, which are the only two places I’ve lived since ’96, you have come across that moment when two or three car alarms are all going off at once, all at their own pace. Even if you haven’t, you’ve probably had a leaky faucet and a loud clock in the same room, or you’ve been on a treadmill while listening to headphones… something where a constant system fights against an equally constant but unmatching system.

And life is full of these gears that turn on the wrong axis’, the impact moments of sound blipping one against the other until one moment out of every twenty matches up and produces a beep louder than the combined parts.

And our lives move in these patterns as well. We have hard patches and easy patches, we have times when we are happy for days on end with no real reason and days when we can’t seem to smile even when good things happen. And our individual rhythms are moving at a speed that no-one else can match, a constantly variable speed. And once in a great while, the beats match, they meet. And when they meet at the nadir, it isn’t the sound of two people crying, or three or all of them and you at the same time. It feels like one voice, almost silent, crying when they know no-one can hear, the worst sort of sadness there is.

So, let me say this about that. I don’t feel God, I don’t feel the infinite or the metaphysical. But there is a moment for me that I can go back to, a moment that visits me and stops me from despairing. It was there when Michelle and I were in the Second String and I said to her “we aren’t going to save the world, we just aren’t. So, knowing that, what are we supposed to do?” It was there when, before the show each night, Mac, Jordana and I would tell each other we loved each other and Jordana would say “I love you, Seth!” for no reason. It was there when I made enchiladas with my mom and she showed me that the cheese that fit in your loose hand was the right amount to put in the tortilla. It was there when we were done mixing Dies Irae from Verdi’s Requiem. It was there the first time I made my dad laugh so hard he cried.

I don’t know what it is. It’s so small, this tiny little moment of happiness that flits on and off so quickly. I could spend twenty three hours and 59 minutes of every day angry that I can’t be a better friend or a better brother or husband, and that one minute of not feeling lonely is actually my entire life. My entire life. And my entire life is spending that twenty three hours and 59 minutes trying to make sure that one minute is there.

So, maybe like everything else in this blog, that thing I wrote about not feeling God is a lie. I really hope so. I hope that people who know God feel that one minute all the time. I know I’ll never have that, and I know the only place I get that feeling constantly is in my art, my friends and my family, so I’m gonna keep looking there.

My wheel isn’t with yours right now, if you’re hitting that horrible note, but so many other people are right now that I feel I have to admit to feeling hopeful.

Temper, temper

Saturday, March 20th, 2004

I love Bill Bryson, I think because I love the English language. The strongest bond I have with my friend is one of language, which doesn’t really separate us from most of the rest of the world, but we all value a turn of phrase so highly that comments from years in the past have lingered like remembered touchdown passes or choir competitions. We re-tell the same linguistic pirouettes the way some other people might watch Sportscenter highlights, and some of the better quips have lasted decades.

Sometimes I’ll get a word stuck in my craw, something that I think Ian does as well, and it just stays in there getting chewed. I remember we had a long conversation, Ian and I, about words like nevertheless and wherewithal, these words that just drip with age. When they’re sprinkled in a sentence, it’s like biting into an au gratin and finding aged parmesan melted in the middle.

The word “temper” is sitting with me now. I lost my temper last night a little bit, and the realization of that gave me, more than anything, a little word to chew on.

More often than not, and this is just for me, “temper” is used for eggs, which is strange as that is the first definition in the dictionary. “To modify by the addition of an agent or quality, to moderate” You temper eggs so they won’t scramble, you temper steel to make it harder by heating it and cooling it, you can temper your wisdom, your judgements, your actions.

But if I were forced to think about the word, the meaning that resonates with me most (pardon the pun) is musical. Most of our instruments are tempered now, they have been built on 12 tone scales and have been assigned pitches. The frets on a guitar, the keys on a piano, are reflections of tempering.

Temper, if you were to ask most people, probably has more to do with anger and rage. If someone were to rant and rave, you would say they were in a foul temper, or that they simply had a “temper”. My “rants” as they are called now, were called “temper-tantrums” when I was child.

There’s a hell of a piece of language. “Temper-tantrums”. If I didn’t love my family as much as I already do, I’d fall in love all over again.

So, this is a word that has to do with making food, making music, and screaming about the iniquities of life. It’s like they made a word for me and my family. All we do is make food, make music, or bitch.

But as I read the meanings in the dictionary, at the bottom there is the archaic meaning. “A compromise between extremes. A middle course.” There was a time when you spoke of a temper as the action which is most in tune with your surroundings, the one that won’t scramble anyone’s eggs, the one that requires no screaming banshee middle-of-the-night cell phone harrangues from your older brother.

It is the meaning that isn’t used anymore, way at the bottom, a meaning that is buried under all the other contractions and shifts in pronunciation. It’s the opposite of the way the word has been working all these years, and it feels strange and wrong and hard. So, I promise, I won’t try to convince anyone to use it that way more than once in a great, great while.

Please, if that mystical middle ground is found, let’s go right back to the cooking and the music and, most importantly, the talking about where it hurts as quickly as possible. I’m along for the ride no matter what happens.


Thursday, March 18th, 2004

I was in the shower two days ago, and (for those of you who know me, this will come as no shock) not since, and I was thinking about the upcoming Law & Order auditions that Jordana and I were asked to attend. I think I said, out loud, “If only one of us can get it, let Jordana get it.” I didn’t say it to write it in this blog, and I didn’t say it so that she would hear, I was just hoping for a piece of awesomeness to happen to her, and I realized that I was willing to forego a piece of awesomeness for myself.

In 1997, I had just moved to Los Angeles for WhoTheFuckKnowsWhy, and I had an audition for Rent. I had tried praying when I was 15 or 16, one of those times that an evangelical had grabbed hold of me and asked me to read and seek and all that crap. When I prayed, by myself without anyone’s interference, I heard that icy chill of nothingness in response, that dead hollow open-door-on-Tundra sound that comes from movies.

But in 1997, after giving up the beginnings of promising momentum in New York, I decided to pray about the Rent audition. I don’t know how I did it, but I took it very seriously. The next day, during my audition, it was the only time I have had a casting director roll his eyes while I was performing. At the end as I was leaving he was actually *not* stifling a yawn. He was yawning as I said thank you and he actually handed my headshot and resume back to me. He didn’t even want to throw it away.

For the last few years, I’ve done various wardrobe changes during basketball games to improve the luck of the team I’m rooting for, it’s done nothing. When I sent out resumes, I did a little deep breathing as I mailed them, trying to send positive energy with them, and for the last 16 months it’s done nothing. I used to have a little thrill by muttering “Macbeth” in the theater during or before shows, but I’ve actually forgotten to do it lately. I didn’t do it during the last show, which didn’t change the outcome at all.

Look, I know God isn’t about answering your prayers. I know that God is an omnipotent whatever that works in mysterious ways and that asking for anything from the cosmos when you’ve given nothing to it is missing the point. I don’t need your cards and letters telling me I don’t understand what God is for, I do.

But I can’t feel it. I have never felt any sort of metaphysical power come over me at any time or for any reason. I know that when I said out loud “Let Jordana have this one” that it was for my own pathetic edification, the fact that she did get cast and I didn’t had nothing to do with me, or at least it was only because she was what they were looking for and, for this one instance, I wasn’t.

I have a basketball in my house. I don’t have two. It isn’t a belief that I don’t have two, I don’t actually have two, I have only one. If someone walked in to my house and said, “I believe you have two basketballs, but the second one can’t be seen, smelled, heard or touched. It functions as a basketball, in fact is a basketball that will go where you want it to go as long as you believe in it. No-one else can see it either, but you will know when it has gone through the hoop, you will know when your crossover breaks ankles, because your faith will guide you.” then I would look at that someone and say, “I don’t have to offer proof that there is no basketball, you have to offer proof that there is. When you do, I’ll play with your magic ball, but until then, all there is is the real ball and me.”

I’m willing to go one step further. “You only say there is a basketball because you can’t deal with a world where athletic talent is uneven. You can’t accept a world where trying to succeed doesn’t guarantee success. You are so afraid of living in a world where the only basketball there is is the real basketball that you have to invent a pretend magic ball that will give the world some order.

“But, the fact is, people die from falling ice, people don’t love the people who love them, dogs get hit by cars and monkeys fall out of trees. The world is breath-staggeringly random, there is no order, there’s not even the remotest possibility of order. A certain number of people die every year when they fall in a parking lot, just slip and smash their brains open. And it is horrible to live in the actual world, I know. It’s lonely and inconsequential, and in your life, your brief stretches of joy and happiness are going to be mathematically corrected by periods of suffering and pain, though most of it will be filled by eating, sleeping, shitting, fucking and ennui. It’s horrible, but that’s the truth.”

So, if anyone’s got God’s number, have him give me a call, okay? I don’t know what it would change in me, but I’d love a little burning bush to give me some direction.


Wednesday, March 17th, 2004

Michelle, this must be killing you or you’d have written a blog or called me by now.

Here’s the thing; I’m worried about why you want to do this. I’m worried about what’ll happen to you. I’m worried that you will be lonely or hurt. I’m worried that you will die. I’m worried that you want to do it partly because we all hate ourselves so damn much and the only thing you’ve ever done that makes those screaming voices silent is to do for others.

But you’ve been called, and so you need to think about going. I can’t really address it, because a call to service is a metaphysical thing, and my mind doesn’t wrap around the metaphysical well. You have a calling, you’ve heard that voice telling you that it’s time to serve. I’ve never heard a voice, ever, in my life. So, when that happens, I step back and respect that something religious, for lack of a better word, has happened and that I have no say now.

Michelle, you know what you’ve been called to, I don’t. I want to say that a call to serve is not a call to serve in Most-Fucked-Up-Ville, Africa, that there is a lot of work to do in America, in New York. When you were working for the Red Cross, the infuriating thing was the bullshit and the lack of money for your time, if you had a good job and more free time then part of that would be taken care of, and if you hate the bullshit red tape, I’m fairly certain that the Corps has as much or more.

You said to me on the phone, “I’ve been called” and I said, “then nothing else matters, you can’t worry about what anyone else says ever, this decision is entirely up to you. Fuck Dad, fuck Mom, fuck all your brothers, none of us has this call and so none of us has to make the decision.” I stand by that. I can’t help you.

No-one can, you awesome fucking girl. No-one can do anything for you in this decision. You’re the smartest and the most spiritual of any of us, the fact that you ask is flattering but retarded. There isn’t a single person alive in our family who has a handle on their lives enough to advise you, and the ones who I knew who are dead now weren’t any better.

This is one woman show and as much as I want to feed you lines from the audience, I don’t know the script. You’re the one writing it, you decide what to say.

On Temperment

Monday, March 15th, 2004

I now know what it is like to be a woman.

Oh man, you just can’t wait for this, can you?

My personal trainer (PT from now on) put me on the schedule for 8 am on Mondays, and the middle of last week I told her that I wouldn’t be coming in at 8 am. It’s not a physical impossibility, but that would mean leaving the house before Jordana wakes up, and I really love the half hour we get in the morning.

She said she could try to fit me in at nine. I reminded her Friday that I wouldn’t be there at 8 and she said again she would leave me an email about any changes. I got no email.

So, I showed up today at 9 and she was with a client. A very polite conversation then passed between us. “I thought…” “no, no, my mistake…” “I should have been better about…” and then the clincher, “I sent you an email…”

Y’see, I don’t mean to get all I Never Promised You A Rose Garden about this, but she didn’t send me an email. She then modified the claim to “I sent it late last night because I forgot”, and I’m just saying, she forgot until 8:11 this morning when I still wasn’t there, which is why she didn’t call my cellphone.

I have problems with authority figures anyway, teachers especially, and I hate the gym and everyone in gyms. When I’m there I have fantasies about my ancestors watching me on a machine that is designed to fatigue me and grabbing me by my tee-shirt and saying “plant a field! Walk to Missouri! If you want to burn calories, you shouldn’t ask a machine to make you do it in one place! You can burn calories in the act of creation!!!!”

So, when my PT gives me some crap and then doesn’t train me, my reaction to it is beyond hostile. Those of you who know me personally know that this relationship just took a *HUGE* swinging back step. I mean, she said, “You do have some cardio you can do this morning” and I stared at her for a second before saying, “…um, yeah…”

But I went and did it, like an obedient child. You know why? Because I am stiff broke and I’ve already invested thousands of dollars of mine and, soon, my fiance’s money in getting my health put together.

So, why didn’t I tell her how pissed I was? Why did I just sit there and grumble for an hour, pissed off, ignoring her glances while she worked with another client? Because I shouldn’t have to tell her that I’m psychotic. This isn’t *logical*, she didn’t actually do anything wrong. I just need to be handled, I actually need that, and she doesn’t know that, and telling her will force me to admit that it’s actually me that’s retarded.

Wait for it.

See, I could just solve these problems by saying, “this is what I need, and it might not make sense, and I can work on my end to make the need less, but right now I need you to recognize that the work I am doing here is more than just the work, I’m bringing in all kinds of my own bullshit.”

(I can’t believe I’m about to say this. My fiance reads this, and she’s actually guilty of *none* of this behavior, but she’ll think I’m describing her. Holy shit, this is BAD.)

“I need you to realize that my emotional connection with this endeavor is beyond the limits of reason, but I also need you to know that without me ever telling you. And the fact that you don’t know what I haven’t told you makes me actually not trust you at all, makes me think of you as the enemy.”

“I need my irrational emotional reaction to perfectly common stimuli to be guessed at, understood and I need you to come up with a nonsensical reaction to what I’m feeling that matches what I secretly think, or I won’t be able to trust you any more.”

So now, finally, I understand where women are coming from.


Sunday, March 14th, 2004

I have to say, I respectfully disagree with Michelle’s blog and Anastacia.

The reason that we call gay guys “queens” isn’t because it’s a derogatory term, it is a description of a particular set of gay behaviors. When gay men act in a way that assumes that they are royalty and that the rest of the world is shit, then we call them queens. When a person is being “queenie”, they’re acting like a gay ass.

Being gay doesn’t give you license to claim some sort of protection from language that describes your behavior. When I dance, people call me white, when I can’t get out of a chair, people make fat jokes, when I speak Spanish with a lisp, guys call me maricon. And when you prance around a room with limp wristed arrogant disregard for the people you are supposed to be serving, you’re a queen.

What Are You Thinking?

Friday, March 12th, 2004

So, Janet Jackson is being shunned for tit-gate, Tyra Banks is being hassled for the models having sex on her show, Howard Stern is being forced off the air, and gay marriages are being shut down in California.

There is actually a battle going on in our country, and yes, it is a cultural battle, but it isn’t the battle that you might think it is. This isn’t a battle against one group of people with a firm idea of right and wrong versus a group of people with fluid interpretations. This is a battle for truth.

Have you ever seen a breast? Ever? In your life? Your pet cat, your pet dog, does it have rows of nipples? Do you think people *don’t* have nipples? Women have nipples, and they are nice. When did you *decide* to be offended by seeing a nipple? It didn’t come naturally to you, there is nothing offensive about a breast, so why did you make up this feeling of anger at one fucking exposed breast? What Are You Thinking?

Tyra Banks has had sexual intercourse before. So have all the models on her show. They’ve been given the high hard one, but good, and on several occasions. You know how I know? Because *I’ve* had sex with a fairly large number of people, and these are *MODELS*. I’m a fat guy. So, knowing that they have sex, why should we pretend they don’t? Why did you decide that they don’t have sex unless it’s shown explicitly? What In GOD’S NAME Are You Thinking?

Howard Stern objectifies women. He likes looking at good looking women, and he has naked lesbians on his show. Please, will the people out there who have no conception of visual beauty please write to me and let me know that you don’t objectify women? C’mon, blind people. The objectification of women *happens* and Howard Stern *talks about it*. He talks about stuff that happens. Do you think it doesn’t? Ladies, do you watch ballet or basketball and never notice a guy’s arms or legs or *cock* for the love of God? Why do you think that silencing this guy will make it go away? WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?

You think we were born with the eyes of a carnivore, set together in front of our face, because we *weren’t* supposed to judge circumstances based on what we see? Do you walk in to doors and furniture? Do you recognize your friends by *smell*? Are you *BLIND*?

Back off, I’m on a tear.

Gay men are all around you, all the time. Guys who have sex with other guys. Do you think they aren’t there? What makes you think that constant condemnation makes it possible for these people to stop being gay? What are you trying to solve by blocking people basic rights?

Seriously, I want to know. Let’s say you pass a fucking *CONSTITUTIONAL AMMENDMENT* banning gay marriage. Do you honestly think that will stop gayness? What, are you gonna arrest gay people and put them in *prison*? Because I’m *SURE* that’s gonna stop them from buggery. They aren’t trying to marry *YOU*, they’re marrying each other, because they’re gonna fuck each other no matter what you do or say. Do you honestly think that stopping them from marrying is accomplishing anything?

And for you Republicans, you get pissed off about all the sex on TV, but you are totally cool with Fox News. You don’t want there to be any coverage of things that ACTUALLY HAPPEN, but you fully support a channel devoted to lies and distortions. You’re okay with your children being told lies about things that are important, but you are appalled by naturally occuring phenomena. What are you fucking thinking?

I’m not just talking to Republicans. I’m talking to you. If you don’t like what you see on TV and hear on the radio, then turn it the fuck off. It’s just the truth, you can hide from it. And if you don’t want your kids to be confused by the adult messages they hear, then RAISE THEM YOUR FUCKING SELVES, don’t sit them in front of the TV and bitch about what they’re watching.

Raise your fucking kids. Don’t make my adult life about raising your child, raise your own damn child. And if you don’t want them to ever see a nipple, then throw out your TV. You just watched the superbowl with your kids, with cheerleaders, violence, beer commercials and a halftime show full of horrible singing, and Janet Jacksons’ titt got you pissed off? Her tit is a real thing, there is a “news” channel that lies and distorts *24 HOURS A DAY*, and you’re mad about .5 seconds worth of lovely boob?

What are you thinking?


Mac and Cheese

Thursday, March 11th, 2004

There are some really good blogs out there. I want to say that because I wrote a blog a year or so ago talking about how many bad blogs there are, but if you can get in a circle of blogs written by writers, you can have some pretty happy reading for an hour a day.

I came across this line this morning; “I jammed my finger over the weekend.” I assumed the writer meant that she could no longer remember the weekend, because she had forcefully placed her finger over the memory. I was wrong, but still… awesome.

I saw “The Designated Mourner” with a group of my friends the other day. I went because my friend Mac is a Wallace Shawn fan, and I’m a big fan of Mac. He’s written a really good analysis of the evening.

I have been doing these exercises that are supposed to help, y’know, my body and everything, but I still get terrible pain in my knees, especially when sitting. The chairs in the theater were jammed together, God bless my friends Jon and Ehren who are both about 6 foot 5 and were sitting with us. In order to save my knees, I was practicing what my personal trainer calls “dynamic sitting”.

Except that about half an hour in, I wasn’t thinking about it. I was terrified, I was enthralled, I was basted and kiln fired. This play is just magnificent. I guess it helps that they rehearsed it for four years, but it is *transporting*.

And later, much later for me, I thought back on it and I wanted it to have had a clear purpose. I want it to be an allegory, for it to speak out for or against something because it is so powerful, I want it to have direction. If this play had led me somewhere intellectually, I would now be there. If it had told me that gay marriage was wrong, that the war was justifiable, that the death penalty was necessary, I would have had my mind changed.

But what is only occuring to me now is that we can’t expect real answers to come in packages of such extreme passion. As intellectually harrowing as this play is, it serves to communicate one tiny journey in the mind of one tiny man, and because he speaks for us, because he says things you’ve only said quietly in whispers to no-one before shushing yourself, because he says things that are true in this time in America where lying is the new black, I want him to tell me how to feel about all these other things that are confusing.

I often quote my friends and family because I feel like when words come from other people they are more legitimate. I’ve even attributed things I’ve said to other people in order to lend them legitimacy, but what comes to mind here is a moment in one of Mac’s plays, one of his best called Mercurial. A playwright is arguing with a software developer, and he is asked if he really believes that a play can change the world. I’m probably paraphrasing here, but the character says “Plays don’t change nations, but they do change hearts, and hearts change nations.”

I don’t know. But I’m close to believing it. I’ve felt that more than the ephemeral nonsense my religious friends have described.

Uh, do I need permission to quote Mac?