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Showing posts from October, 2009

At Long Last: The HIV Travel Ban is Lifted.

Back in the old days, kiddies, there was a particularly racist, homophobic and utterly powerful man in Congress named Jesse Helms. Along with a lot of other carefully calculated statements of outright hatred of gay people, he managed, due to his powerful position in Congress, to ban all HIV positive people from entering this country.

This was a particularly egregious and obnoxious law because, first of all, most HIV cases at the time, came FROM the US. Also, it meant that no international meetings about HIV/AIDS could be held in the United States, because people with HIV couldn't attend unless they already lived here.

It also kept couples from different countries apart, one being unable to enter the country if they had HIV.

But, finally, it's over. President Obama has signed an order ending this ban.

It's about time.

"Muddy & Bo" by Paul Zollo.

I post this because I think it's a wonderful song, performed by my friend Paul Zollo, but also because I directed and edited the video. It was supposed to be a simple backyard, straight-forward video, but I was enjoying the music so much, I just kept shooting, and this is what we ended up with. He thinks I should do this for a living. I admit it is one of my favorite passions. I have 207 videos up on YouTube!

Health Update: Triglycerides.

Blood test: Triglycerides over 800, which means there's so much sugary, fatty sludge in my blood, they can't even test for cholesterol. I've been here so many times before. Once, it was as high as 2100. (It should be down around 150 or less). This is a side effect of my anti-virals.

Dr. Ruchi called Dr. Tony, my primary care infectious disease doctor, and told him she was worried about pancreatitis. So, Dr. Tony calls me in and we have a confab to decide what to do.

But we already know: diet and exercise. Diet and exercise. Diet and exercise.

Dr. Tony actually had a visiting doctor with him today and said for me to act gay because this doctor is studying gay men's health.

So, I flipped my wrist and said, "Gay, gay, gay!"

Dr. Tony said we could change my antivirals, but then I'd be back on three times a day, and he's not sure it would actually make all that much difference. Currently, I'm taking Atripla, which consists of three AIDS drugs all jammed tog…

Flash Forward "Does" The Bonus Round.

ABC has a new series called "Flash Forward," and I was watching it on Hulu. (Yes, that's a plug. No, they didn't pay me to mention them). In the pilot, everyone in the world has a suddenly 2 minute, 17 second blackout where they experience a dream, a vision. They see themselves and what they're doing exactly 6 months from the present day.

In other words, they know what they're going to be doing, and where they're doing it, six months from now.

But one of the characters intrigues me. He's a Korean FBI man who saw nothing, meaning he was either asleep or dead (though others said they saw themselves asleep or dreaming). More clues arrive and he learns he's going to be murdered in March.

His reaction, at first, was fear. So, he fought back against the investigation they're going through to piece together a "mosaic" of that day (from as many witnesses as possible).

Then, in this most recent episode, he suddenly began to get giddy and loose. T…

So Long, Geocities. And Thank You.

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Its time has passed. It was a great idea, conceptually back in the early days of the very limited world wide web. "A place where everyone can have his own website," all organized into communities with virtual street addresses.

I set "The Steve Schalchlin Survival Site" up in the Broadway community because we had just finished our first staged reading of The Last Session and now I was Sondheim. In fact, I was Jerry Herman, Neil Young AND Stephen Sondheim. (It's a dead link now.)

And, because I was dying of AIDS, no one dared tell me different. I would go out of this life as the suddenly discovered genius that never was, except for this one last work, a testament to his own life.

And then I ruined it all by living. Oh, well. Can't lose 'em all.

Nowadays, with social networking, "having a website," is kind of meaningless unless you're trying to sell something. Virtual neighborhoods aren't really neighborhoods if the people "living next …

Song Swap Saturday NIght

I'm singing two songs tomorrow night, Saturday, down at Kulak's Woodshed here in North Hollywood, as part of a song swap. Instead of singing my own songs, I'm going to sing one song that was a great influence on me, and one song from one of the songwriters there at the Shed, Marc Platt, who I've talked about a lot.

The song is "The Revolution Starts Right Here," which you might remember from earlier this year when I made, for him, a video, which got a lot of notice at the time since we tied it into the how the Internet was changing and helping to fuel the Iranian "green revolution."

I'm also going to sing "Birds" by Neil Young. The simplicity of both the lyric and the chord structure drew me to the song back when it was just an album cut on his "After The Gold Rush" album. It's one of the songs that inspired me to be a songwriter.

My Brothers and Me.

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Our first time together since 1985. I would tell you stories, but then, I'd have to kill you.

Answers to Questions about New York.

1. Is "Zero Hour" really opening?
Yes. "Zero Hour" is really opening. It's a great little theatre over on the West Side. Theatre at St. Clement's. But, mindful of the times, we're not spending lavishly, so you have to go looking for it. The truth is that Jim could do this show in the dark and it would be just as powerful, so there's no reason to waste money on production values.

(We actually call it "show in a box." When he performed it out here in the desert, like a depression era actor, he literally had nothing more than a table, some paints, a chair and his desk lamp that doubles for a microphone for the investigation scene.)2. Is Jim gonna be in it?
Jim Brochu will be playing Zero.
3. Is he really gonna paint a new painting every night during the show?
Yes. And he has pledged them to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS to auction off, just as we have done in DC and Houston.3. Are you gonna do some music while you're there?
I'll be look…

BIDDING OVER for Brochu/Zero Painting Auction.

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Jim and I watched the auction online and saw that Theater J raised $386 from the fundraiser.

Hooray!

Full story here.

Schwartzenegger Signs Gay Rights Bills.

Schwarzenegger signs gay rights bills By Dan Smith
smith@sacbee.com Published: Monday, Oct. 12, 2009 - 8:17 am
Last Modified: Monday, Oct. 12, 2009 - 9:24 am Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed two gay rights bills, one honoring late activist Harvey Milk and another recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.In the last of hundreds of bill actions taken before midnight Sunday, Schwarzenegger approved the two bills by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.The governor last year vetoed the measure declaring May 22 a state day of recognition for Milk, suggesting that the former San Francisco supervisor be honored locally. But he subsequently named him to the California Hall of Fame. Leno's SB 54, meanwhile, requires California to recognize marriages performed in other states where same sex marriage is legal.In a signing message, Schwarzenegger said California will not recognize the couples as married but will "provide the same legal protections that would otherwis…

The Closet & Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

A number of years ago, I was participating in a debate/discussion board where a number of extremely conservative people dominated a number of threads. One, in particular, was apoplectic about "homos" being "out."

He said, affirmatively, that if he was a homosexual, he would hide it from the world, and that it would be no problem whatsoever to make that happen.

My argument to him was that, in this day and age, it is utterly impossible to live in the closet. If you're the new person at the office, for instance -- and, yes, I have worked in a few offices -- people start talking about you the moment your books hit the desk. "Who's in the picture frames?" "Is he wearing a wedding ring?" "Does she seem a little butch?" "Is he dressed a little too well?"

And they won't stop until they find out.

That's just life. It's just human nature. I don't think people generally do it out of spite, as much as information for …

The Unselfish Gene.

Could it be true that the most selfish thing you can do for yourself is to be unselfish with others? I think so. From Seed Magazine:

In his latest book, The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society, primatologist Frans de Waal argues that social darwinists like Skilling have learned the wrong lessons about the natural world. The nasty, brutish existence dominated by “savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit” that Dawkins describes is far from the norm for animals that live in social groups. They thrive because of the cooperation, conciliation, and, above all, the empathy that they display towards fellow members. The support and protection they receive from living in a group more than compensates for any selfish advantage they might have achieved on their own. In other words, the “selfish gene” has discovered that the most successful approach is to behave unselfishly. De Waal thus argues that the age of empathy is far older than our own species and that we must…

Todd Rundgren & Daryl Hall Kick Ass

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If you haven't already discovered "Live from Daryl's House," you're missing a great treat. The premise is that Daryl Hall would invite great singers and musicians over to his house and then record the session.

The newest episode is with Todd Rundgren, and I'm in blue-eyed Philly soul heaven. Take a taste of "Expressway to your Heart," originally by the Soul Survivors. (The individual songs are available via links on the page). Also, Rundgren's "Sweet" is pure bliss, as is Daryl's vocals, and the band's kick-ass performance of "Why Can't We Be Friends."

I guess I live with my head in a basket, but I never realized how much Philly Soul is in Rundgren's music. You can really feel it, though, when he and Daryl start trading licks. It's like they're two halves of a whole. It's spooky and spectacular.

Great music. Put on your head phones or crank up the volume. This rocks.

Nice Article on Sean Strub and Longterm Survivors of AIDS

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Sean Strub is featured in the NY Times. He created POZ magazine and was an early AIDS activist, one of the few who survive, and I met him a couple of times during the New York/TLS days. POZ did a really nice feature story about me, "Living in the Bonus Round" (both as the title of my online diary and as a phrase I coined) and The Last Session, which was making its New York debut. (And then, in the next issue, the critic panned us. Oh well.)

If not for people like Sean, I wouldn't be alive today. He retired from activism shortly after receiving the Bonus Round diagnosis that he would live. (Every issue used to feature a report from Sean's doctor. It was one of the most educational and illuminating parts of the magazine).

From the article by Michael Winerip:

...by the time he was tested and his disease formally diagnosed it was 1985. “The doctor held my hand, looked into my eyes and said, ‘Sean, these days you can have a good two years.’ He was trying to cheer me up.” Tha…

RIP Shelby Singleton.

Shelby Singleton, who produced "Harper Valley PTA," a song that turned into an industry, died.

Mr. Singleton was a colorful Nashville record producer and entrepreneur who resurrected the historic Sun Records catalog.

Link to NY Times obituary.

SFGMC Benefit with Donna Sachet.

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Chorus Boys Step Up For Cabaret

- Chorus Presents 8th Annual Cabaret Production

- Donna Sachet To Host

On October 23rd and 24th at The Regency Center, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus presents its 8th annual Cabaret, which this year takes its name from the Louis Armstrong classic, “What A Wonderful World.”

“Even when storm clouds gather, music can lift our hearts and inspire us like nothing else,” said Artistic Director, Dr. Kathleen McGuire.

Directed by Carl Pantle, the program features soloists from the chorus and ensemble, Vocal Minority, performing touching, humorous and exhilarating selections made famous by the likes of Cat Stevens, Sam Cooke, and Burt Bacharach. The production also includes hits from musicals such as Moulin Rouge, Kiss Me Kate, and Carousel, together with classic songs by Irving Berlin, “that have been given the world-renowned gay men’s chorus twist,” according to McGuire.

Topping the bill, as emcee, is Chorus alumnus, Donna Sachet, whose character was born…

"Zero Hour" announced for NY.

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The Profane Cafe

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Listen to this blog being read by Steve:
Click to play Steve's podcast of this blog entry

The Profane Cafe
A true story (uncut version)
by Steve Schalchlin

I looked over at the little empty cafe from a baby grand piano, which was positioned between two massive marble pillars in the expansive, historical lobby of the DC Jewish Community Center, itself proudly located within viewing distance of the White House on 16th street in Washington DC.

It was the night before Rosh Hashannah.

The bare set of tables and chairs, kitchen door was sealed shut, seemed odd and out of place because all the other rooms of the busy community center with its gym, meeting rooms, school rooms, library and theater were usually teeming with life. But this small area had a sign posted in front that said CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, followed by a list of nice restaurants over on 17th.

Jim Brochu and I had been here, at Theater J, located upstairs, for a couple of weeks with the run of his play, "Zero Hour,"…

Signed Paintings from "Zero Hour" being auctioned.

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At the end of the run of "Zero Hour," Jim donated a number of the paintings he actually creates, one by one, during the performance. He uses no template or guidelines, but paints a completely original work during the show.

Theater J has now uploaded these original paintings to eBay. (On the site, it uses the term "prints," but these are not prints. They are the original paintings themselves.) The full price of the painting will be donated to Theater J.
Own your own piece of Theater J history! In our recent production, Zero Hour, Jim Brochu slipped on a smock in the spirit of Zero Mostel and every night painted a portrait of his visiting interviewer. And at the close of the run...Jim graciously signed a few choice prints which we now offer to you! There are 11 prints to choose from but only 6 days to make your bid!

LINK TO AUCTION. MAKE YOUR BID NOW.

A Birthday Story.

It was in the late 80s. Jim and I had just arrived in Los Angeles. We moved here because we weren't getting work on the east coast, and he had a lot of contacts from his days out here writing for Sid & Marty Krofft.

We didn't really have much in the way of money, so we were living in a flophouse which used to be a glamorous Hollywood high rise on Franklin and Cahuenga, which was dusty, noisy and filled with old furniture. We lived on the second floor overlooking Cahuenga, facing west. In the late afternoon, with no A/C, it was gas fumes, horn honks and dust. Lots and lots of dust.

I was anxious to do something in L.A. that involved music. The place suggested for me was the National Academy of Songwriters. A friend said, "Just show up and volunteer. Best way to learn the business." There, I introduced myself as a wayward ex-Gospel singer / Neil Young lover turned rock musician turned musical director for a lounge act turned piano bar singer.

They put me on the front…

A Quiet Week.

As I kind of said before, Jim and I have mostly been staying in the apartment since we got back. Both of us are so tired from a month of constant work and stress and getting the show ready for New York, while trying to see DC -- well, it took a lot more out of us than we realized.

After we got home, we did a quick shopping for food, and we've barely moved since.

He's been hibernating with his laptop doing his picture collages of the trip, and I've been catching up on sleep, playing my keyboard and getting reacquainted with my music (!), and generally just following my body tempo.

Last night, I fell asleep early, then woke up at 1, then back asleep, then up again at 4, then back again. The Sustiva that I take for HIV was really mixing with the jetlag to disturb my sleep patterns. This is not going to be easy, getting back into my regular routine. However, I do plan to volunteer down at Kulak's tonight. I miss my friends!

So, all is well. If we don't answer the phone, it…