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Showing posts from August, 2006

Back on Sept. 14

Jim and I will be taking a two week break. We will be back on Sept. 14, 2006.

Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.

--Lao Tsu

Jim's Brilliant Closing Night

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If I may, can I brag about Jimmy just a bit? Perhaps I've already done a lot of that, but I think there's room for just one more post on the subject.

Last night was the closing night of his sold-out run of "Zero Hour." It probably could have run forever if the theatre hadn't already been booked in advance. At it was, the producer extended the run as long as possible. He and I had a talk earlier in the evening and he told me the run was way into the black. For a non-profit theatre company doing small 99-seat productions, this is exceedingly rare. He said, "The first two weeks were a bit shaky, but then word of mouth started, and from that point on, it was a sell-out run."

Barbara Rush with Jim & Carolyn Hennessy.

Barbara Rush, one of the best actresses in this town came to see the show after hearing about it at her gym in Laguna. See, there's "good word of mouth" and then there's "YOU MUST GO SEE THIS SHOW" word of mouth. In …

Link to Weekend Edition's Zero Hour Story

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The story about "Zero Hour" for Weekend Edition being broadcast by NPR this morning (Sunday") is here.
Weekend Edition Sunday, August 27, 2006· The tumultuous life of the late actor Zero Mostel is the subject of a new one-man play in Los Angeles. Zero Hour casts to tell the story of the multiple Tony Award winner, known for Fiddler on the Roof and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Jim on NPR on Sunday Morning.

Jim will be featured on NPR this coming Sunday morning as part of a story on Zero Mostel. After being broadcast, it will be available on the National Public Radio website beginning Monday.

He Really Did Have The Knack

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Great article this morning in the Washington Post about drummer Bruce Gary of the late 70s/early 80s pop rock group, The Knack. His signature drum riff on the mega-hit "My Sharona" reached millions of ears and became iconic in rock history. (And so did Doug Feiger's guitar riff -- a perfect marriage of words and music).

At this point in time, songs like that tend to be dismissed because it became so wildly popular and overplayed, and the beat/hook so insistent, that overkill killed the radio song. But when it was freshly popping out of the radio, it was an exuberantly joyful expression of pop dancaholism. It was a "turn the radio up and blast the car" song that made everyone feel good for three minutes.

Bruce Gary died this week, sadly. He might not have been the most celebrated musician in the world, but he did something few drummers ever do: he put a riff into the cosmos that stayed and is immediately indentifiable. He also ran afoul of Doug Feiger, eventually.…

Columbus Ave.

Back in the late 1980s, when Jim and I lived in Pennsylvania, I had just been living for the past year with my friend Deborah Garwood. At Deborah's house, we only listened to reggae and world music. I developed a real fondness for groups like Black Uhuru, and artists like Mutabaruka and Burning Spear. After I met Jim and we moved out to the country, I set up a little rudimentary recording studio with a four-track cassette player/mixer and a boom box, along with a drum machine and a Yamaha DX-7 keyboard.

During that time, through much painstaking effort, I created a number of demos which, today, are almost unlistenable. But the songs themselves are pretty good. Several in particular came from a brief period where I was writing free verse poems and setting them to world beat music. One of my favorites was a song called "Columbus Ave." I even created a character called Steve X, a white boy world beat poet as the "artist" on these songs.

Now that technology has impr…

George Bush Does Teletubbies.

This past weekend was spectacular for "Zero Hour." All the shows were sold out and we videotaped Friday's performance with a two-camera shoot. It's not going to be for sale, however. We just wanted to have an archive. However, I'll post more videos from it after I finish the editing.

In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful video of George Bush Teletubbies!

Not Running Out of Gas.

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This morning I ran flat out for 45 minutes without stopping once. It was about 2 miles long because I ran down to the subway station, once around the track in the park there, and then back.

And the best part was that I never got winded. When I started back on my running regimen a few weeks ago, it was all I could do to run for 15 minutes without losing my breath. So, this morning, putting my ipod on shuffle, I hit the streets and decided to see if I could make it all the way to the track down on Magnolia, thinking I'd walk back. But after I got there, I felt fine. So, I took a spin around the park. Felt fine. Decided to run back. No problems.

Ran into Chuck on the way home. He wasn't looking so good. Told him I had some cans and stuff.

When I got home, though, something smelled wrong. I went into the kitchen to get some water and that's when I heard a little hissing noise. One of the knobs on the stove had been turned open slightly and the whole kitchen smelled like gas. When…

The Fools On The Hill.

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All day long, yesterday, I kept thinking, "Hmm. I should fill up the gas tank. It's getting pretty low."

Just as we were leaving for our secret destination last night, I said to Jim, "We're low on gas. We might want to fill up."

But we both looked at the gauge and it didn't look totally and completely empty. Plus, the little "empty gas" icon warning light didn't flash. So, given the fact that we were only going over the hill -- not a long trip -- we thought it would be fine.

The secret destination turned out to be the Magic Castle. We would celebrate the two birthday boys' special day with a nice dinner and a magic show.

The Magic Castle is a very special place in Hollywood. First, you have to know someone who's a member to ever get in. (Thanks to magician Rich Bloch for arranging it). Secondly, the place is full of mysterious pictures on the wall, secret corners, magicians prowling around, and little booby traps -- like the secret ba…

Sex-based club?

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Clueless homophobes in North Carolina banned a high school Gay/Straight Alliance Club based on the notion that it's a "sex-based" club. Clue card for homophobes: GSAs are not SEX-based. They are based on gay kids finding straight allies who will help them not get the crap beaten out of them by the children of the School Board members.

By Jessie Burchette

Salisbury Post

Sex-based clubs — including the Gay/Straight Alliance at South Rowan High School — are now banned in the Rowan-Salisbury School System.

Without comment, the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to approve an amendment to the school's extracurricular activities policy banning sex-based student clubs.

Board member Jim Shuping read aloud the complete text of the amendment. The policy uses the system's existing abstinence-only sex education policy as the basis for the ban.

In April, the board agreed to ban clubs such as the Gay/ Straight Alliance, voting to instruct the staff and…

Coverboy, Author Shawn Decker

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Shawn has a book!!

As longtime readers of this blog know, one of the great friends, allies and adopted sons in my life is Shawn Decker. Back in the earliest days of this thing (when it was called a diary, before the term "blog" had been invented), Shawn established his own website called "My Pet Virus" and we met through the magic of web communications and search engines. We both encouraged each other in our fight against HIV.

What Shawn has that I only can dream of having is a wickedly funny point of view that never ceases to keep me on the floor. He gave me encouragement when I needed it, and I gave him encouragement when he needed it.

Well, he kept telling me that he was writing a book. (Yeah, right. Everyone's writing a book). Lo and behold, the book comes out next month and, as part of the promotional campaign, he has scored the cover of POZ Magazine, along with an excerpt which includes -- yep -- ye olde Bonus Round writer, Steve.

Here's a link to the ful…

Happy Birthday, Jim Brochu.

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Jim and Rob -- the cake says, "Happy Birthday, Rim."

Last night, we had the first of Jim's birthday parties. Tonight, we are doing the reverse of the usual "surprise" parties. Instead of Jim being surprised -- like that was gonna happen -- Jim planned his own party. Then, he called together several friends and told them that that they would be receiving a call today at 4pm telling them where the party would take place. So, the surprise is on the celebrants! (I'll tell you all about it tomorrow).

Meanwhile, last night, we had an intimate gathering for some friends, including Rob and Linda Leahy. Jim and Rob have been friends since college -- and they were born on the exact same day, August 16, 1946. (Yes, Jim is 60 years old today.) And how could it be better? He's starring in a critically-acclaimed sold-out hit play that he wrote himself. He has friends who adore him. Fans who think he's the greatest thing since sliced bread. And, of course, best of a…

American Psychological Association criticizes “ex-gay” proponents

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It was a sad little affair. The political leaders of Exodus International, along with their faux-scientific group, NARTH, decided to hold a little protest at the national meeting of the American Psychological Association to get them to change their policies about gay people. Unfortunately, as indicated in this press release, the APA doesn't base their opinions on religion. They require sound science, something the exgay movement has never bothered supplying (because they can't -- there IS no science to support their religious beliefs).

Here is a press release:

The American Psychological Association (APA) released a statement Thursday criticizing groups such as Focus on the Family for creating an “environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish” by erroneously labeling homosexuality an illness and advocating for so-called “conversion therapy.” The statement was issued during the APA’s annual convention, which drew an anti-gay protest led by the National Association…

Bonus Round Firsts!

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So, we were doing some research this morning on blogs after I spoke with Kurt the Cyberguy, a reporter for Tribune Broadcasting out of Channel 5 here in LA yesterday who's syndicated all over the country. We caught each other at lunch. He said, "We need to submit you to the Guiness Book of World Records as the first blogger."

I told him, "I wasn't really the first, but I'm up there."

So, we went online to http://www.diaryhistoryproject.com/ and it turns out that I'm number 6. But of the top 6, mine seems to be the only one still running. So, technically, my diary/blog is the longest running blog on the Net.

Which also makes me the first openly gay blogger, the first HIV positive blogger and the first entertainment blog promoting a musical.

Ain't that a kick in the head?

TAGS:

ZeFrank's Red Alert Video

My absolute favorite daily vidcast is ZeFrank, who edits together hilarious commentaries on various news topics of the day. Last Friday, he was talking about the terror alerts, and I saw that he had a link to a video he shot earlier. In it, he pretends to be the guy who designed the current color alert system. It's hysterical. So, I couldn't resist posting here.

How not to release a Leopard

This weekend, I sat here backing up files onto DVDs. It's such a tedious job because it takes several minutes for each DVD and you can't leave the computer, because you have to stay there waiting for it to finish so you can put in the next one. Luckily, USA Network was running a Monk Marathon. I had never seen this show, which features Tony Shalhoub as a P.I. who has an extreme case of OCD, but it's pretty funny. I'm also reading a new book by my new sci fi obsession Iain M. Banks. (I love discovering a new author; now I can go read all his books).

So, for blogging purposes today, here is a video that I couldn't take my eyes off of. It's a park ranger who's releasing a leopard into the wild. He backs the truck up, opens the cage and then, when the cat doesn't move, he figures he'll help him out a little by poking him with a stick.

Not the best idea...

Celebrity Sightings!

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Since our lives are focused around "Zero Hour" these days, it feels like the coolest celebrities are coming out of the woodwork to see Jimmy -- especially fans or friends of Zero Mostel.

Yesterday, we were taken to lunch by Mark Evanier, who was a writer with Jim on and late, lamented network variety car crash (and thus, wonderfully watchable) "Pink Lady and Jeff." (I knew Mark best as the writer of the comic "Groo The Wanderer," drawn by the great Sergio Aragones. Mark took us to the Magic Castle -- no pics, unfortunately; cameras not allowed inside -- where the two of them regaled each other and us (we were there with a songwriter/performer friend of his, Shelly Goldstein).

One of my favorite stories concerned "Pink Lady." Produced by the madly insane Sid & Marty Krofft, who produced such delights as H.R. Pufnstuf and Lidsville, the problem with Pink Lady was that "Pink Lady" was a pop duo -- two Japanese girls who didn't spea…

Zero Tells Off Jerry Robbins At "Forum"

Jerome Robbins was a choreographer and director. In the 1950's he named names to the committee, thus ending the careers of many of Zero Mostel's friends. In the 1960s', "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" was failing out of town. The producers decided the only person who could fix it. Zero was the star. Zero (performed by Jim here in "Zero Hour") tells the story of what happened at that first rehearsal.

72 Virgins.

On how delightful it must be to be a Muslim virgin.

2005 Ovation photos are in!

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The pictures from last year's Ovation Awards have finally arrived, and they are beautiful.

Here is Jim accepting the Best Musical, Intimate Theatre Award from famed Broadway composer Jerry Herman.

Jim giving his thank you speech.

Another one of Jim speaking. And there I am holding the video camera, taping the whole thing. Now I see how stupid I looked. I'm still glad I did it.

2005 Ovation Awards SHOW - Photography by Chris Kane.

Now we're backstage. First a shot of myself, Jim and Anthony Barnao, our director.

And, finally, all of us with Jerry Herman.

Pressroom photography by Gabriel Goldberg.

Finally, in case you never saw it, here is the video of us getting our award.

Chuck's Living Room

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I was just at the end of my solid 45 minutes of running, listening to Robert Altman talk about how perfection is unnecesary and subjective, when I heard someone shouting. I continued on, but then heard the noise again. It was Chuck, my homeless veteran friend, pushing his shopping cart. He was on the other side of the big city street.

I pulled out my earbuds, waved at him, and then crossed over. It was about 6:30am. The sun had risen, but it was still too low in the sky to see and there was still a cool moistness from the ocean in the desert air. (I love L.A.)

"How's it going?" I asked him. He seemed a bit weak.

"Ah, doin' okay. Just tired. Wasn't feeling that good the past couple of days," he said, sounding exhausted already.

We were almost in front of our apartment, so I told him to wait a sec and I'd run up and get our recyclables, which he was dutifully collecting.

"You don't really get a day off, do you?" I said, upon returning.

He took…

International Carnival of Pozitivities

This month the blog entry about Michael Sugar and me going to Hollywood United Methodist Church is featured in the August Circus of Pozitivities, a wonderful new blog feature that collects amazing stories of people with AIDS. There are several categories, including friendship and art and odds and ends. The links on this Carnival and truly beautiful to read. Enjoy!

Zero's Testimony Before HUAC (as performed by Jim).

Here's another clip from Zero Hour. In this scene, Jim Brochu (as Zero Mostel) testifies before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

The Voice Goes On (Jim in Backstage Magazine).

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Great article about Jim and "Zero Hour" in Backstage Magazine.

The Voice Goes On
August 07, 2006
By Les Spindle

Jim Brochu is a strong believer in kismet. A recurrent theme in his plays--and his conversations--is the proliferation of miracles in show business. Two years ago, when Brochu and his life partner, Steve Schalchlin, accepted an Ovation Award for the autobiographical musical they co-wrote and co-starred in, titled The Big Voice: God or Merman?, the presenter was revered Broadway songwriter Jerry Herman. Brochu considered this a full-circle moment. As a young kid who dreamed of a showbiz career while selling orange drinks at Broadway's St. James Theatre during the original run of Herman's 1964 classic Hello, Dolly!, he watched the show from the back of the house hundreds of times. In his wildest dreams, this eager whippersnapper from Brooklyn never imagined that the legendary Herman would one day be shaking his hand and honoring him for his work on a new musical.

Gay Death Squads in Iraq.

Now, the death squads for gays are all over Iraq. The Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld Gang of Three, so anxious to save the world from Saddam Hussein, that they would start a war without knowing anything about the culture of the people they would be handing the new country over to, not only has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to create a pro-Hezbollah Iraq, but this same country is now infested with death squads who roam the streets looking for gay people to murder. In fact, they hate gay people so much, that they are assassinated children -- boys as young as 11 -- who were kidnapped and sold into prostitution.
Hardline Islamic insurgent groups in Iraq are targeting a new type of victim with the full protection of Iraqi law, The Observer can reveal. The country is seeing a sudden escalation of brutal attacks on what are being called the 'immorals' - homosexual men and children as young as 11 who have been forced into same-sex prostitution.

There is growing evidence that Shia militias…

Conquering the Blues.

I decided, after my whiny post this past week about blood tests and feeling depressed about it all, that I would get myself together and start over. That is exactly what I did. As I wrote about a couple of days ago, I just put on the shoes and the running gear and hit the streets. After that, I worked at the computer and FINISHED something (Alex's concert DVD), and put it in the mail.

On Saturday, Michael and I decided to take in a movie and just talk. Like myself, he struggles with the Virus We All Love To Hate. I told him, "I just got tired of the struggle. It's like every single day, no matter what, I have to deal with this whole blood sugar/fat thing, and I run and I eat well and I try really hard. So, when the test results were not great -- my triglycerides were at 224 -- it was like coming fourth at a race where you thought you had crossed the finish line first."

We commiserated about it and then went to see "The Night Listener" with Robin Williams as a…

Innovative AIDS Education in Africa

According to this story in the NY Times:

Cheap Solutions Cut AIDS Toll for Poor Kenyan Youths

By CELIA W. DUGGER
Published: August 6, 2006

At a time when millions of people each year are still being infected with the virus that causes AIDS, particularly in Africa, a rigorous new study has identified several simple, inexpensive methods that helped reduce the spread of the disease among Kenyan teenagers, especially girls.

In Kenya, where poverty drives some girls to sleep with older men for money or gifts, teenage girls are seven times more likely to be H.I.V. positive than boys the same age.

The new study found that when informed that older men are much likelier to be infected, teenage girls were far less likely to become pregnant by so-called sugar daddies.

The $1 million study, financed by the Partnership for Child Development, a London-based nonprofit group, did not seek blood tests for H.I.V., since its subjects were minors. Instead, it relied on pregnancy as evidence of unprotected sex.

T…

Saddam Hussein was at the 7/11.

I got up about 4:30. Was having a dream where I was singing a new song. And what's funny was that even in the dream I knew it was a terrible song. I mean really horrible and trite. As I was coming to consciousness, it sounded even worse. Then I remembered that it was a song I wrote a very long time ago -- maybe 30 years ago -- but back then, I couldn't tell the difference between a bad song and a good song if it came from me. Lots of young songwriters go through a stage where they think anything they think up is good.

Nowadays, I think everything I write is terrible, and I have to be talked into liking it. LOL.

I worked a little bit on Alexandra's concert video, which I am editing. It's almost finished. In fact, I've finished my work on it and will be sending the master to Ralph Lampkin, the executive producer, later today. It's a bit too long for a DVD, so they'll have to do some pruning, but I think I did really good work on it. My first professional video …

Thank You Maskman -- Lenny Bruce

This is one of those classics that would have gone unseen forever if not for YouTube. It's an old Lenny Bruce animation and it's so ahead of its time, as Lenny was. Something about "unnatural acts..."

Bad Boy.

"Are you exercising like you're supposed to?" Dr. Mathur was giving me the hard look. She's good at that. Even with her beautiful eyes and gorgeous face, she knows how to give me "the look." I was suddenly the bad student caught chewing gum in class.

"Well..." I hemmed and hawed. "I've been going out every morning for my run."

She zeroed in.

"And are you running?"

"Well..." I hemmed and hawed. "Sometimes I just walk fast..."

She zeroed in.

"Are you doing your full route?"

"Well..." I hemmed and hawed. "Kinda..."

"Look," she said. "Your blood glucose level is 6.8. Last time it was 6.2. It was headed down in the right direction. This is still an okay level but I want to get those levels down! You were headed in the right direction. What are you not doing? How do you explain this?"

I have been going out every morning. I make myself go out every morning. But I still h…

Joe's First Vidcast Makes Me Laugh

Joe.My.God. is a fellow positoid whose writing skills dwarf mine. His blog is one of my first destinations each morning. So what does he up and do? He makes his first vlog and, of course, it's totally hilarious and brilliant. I hate him. And to top is off, he doesn't speak a single word...

To Be Or Not To Be (A Role Model).

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Excellent article on two gay celebrities. One who just recently came out said he doesn't want to be a role model and one, outed by having pubic sex, was caught again and insists that he is a role model. Isn't there something somewhere in between?

10 Yrs. Ago: A Big Ending

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I was in a quandary.

It was 10 years ago today. August 2, 1996.

I had established this diary to trace my death.

But everything had changed. It had all happened so quickly. The main thing was this: I wasn't going to die. So, what now? There was no template for this. Medically, people didn't get a death diagnosis and then recover, not in huge numbers as was suddenly happening in the AIDS community.

And what about my website? Blogs hadn't been invented yet. No one had even thought up the term "blog" -- and may the person who thought it up die a thousand deaths, btw. Sure, there were some diarists out there, but it was all new territory.

It was the last night of our workshop. We had sold out almost every performance. But lots of shows have workshops. Where would we go from here?

The last performance, according to my entry, I felt "giddy."

Sold out house filled with music industry celebrities. All of us at rehearsal singing Beatle songs and acting totally crazy tog…