Tuesday, August 29, 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

Monday, August 28, 2006

Jim's Brilliant Closing Night

Jim Brochu taking a bow at the end of Zero Hour
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 Brochu & Carolyn Hennessy
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 LA, if the theatre fills up, it means you got the latter.

Last night's show -- in fact, every show this past weekend -- Jimmy was on FIRE. I attended three. I had to stay in the dressing room just behind the stage, but it was cool because I could hear the energy of the audience as they went from the initial shock of seeing him as Zero, to being thrown off balance by Zero's wicked sense of humor, to laughing uproariously, to the pin-drop silence of the serious moments where Zero talks about the blacklist and the bus accident that almost took his leg off.

On the last show, after sitting out act one, I had to find a way into the theatre. On the side wall is a couch that sits at kind of an angle. So I made my way to that and, because it was all the way to the side, I could watch both Jim and the audience in this lovefest.

Jim Brochu with Carl Ballentine
Jim with Carl Ballentine.

Watching the various celebrities hang around afterwards to pay tribute to Jim was wonderful, too. But the most gratifying responses came from people who were Zero's friends. They all came with a very critical eye. One in particular, TV director and producer Gary Smith, had worked with Zero on his TV specials. He came in ready to cut it to shreds if it didn't uphold Zero's legacy. Not only did he love the show, the script and Jim's performance, but he returned several more times and even helped me tape one of the performances.

Jim with a group of our friends.

Larry Blank, Kaye Lynn, Jim Brochu, Barry Weiss, Ted Heyck, David Rambo
Kaye Lynn, famed Broadway orchestrator Larry Blank, Jim Brochu,

Barry Weiss (nephew of Jack Gilford), Ted Heyck, playwright David Rambo.

Jim Brochu, Charlene Tilton
Jim Brochu with Charlene Tilton.

My favorite "new" celebrity to meet as a result of this run was Charlene Tilton, who is a total hoot. She and her manager have actually approached us about getting involved in a new show for her, so part of her agenda for being there last night was to check out Jim's writing. To say she was blown away, would be the understatement of the decade. We had a blast at the little afterparty. The champagne was free-flowing and she was bubbling with energy.

She told me, "I used to work at this theatre. I scrubbed those toilets and cleaned those seats and sold popcorn behind that counter. I also worked at the big theatre," referring to the larger Grauman's Egyptian looming behind us. "In fact," she continued. "I was fired from the Egyptian because of an incident with Fred Astaire."

"Really?" I probed.

She lit up and told us the whole story, which I just happened to catch on my little digital camera...


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Link to Weekend Edition's Zero Hour Story

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.

Friday, August 25, 2006

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

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. According to the article, they didn't get along very well and they both disagree on who created that riff.
The Knack's original lineup released two more albums and then split up acrimoniously, much of the animus stemming from the fact that drummer Gary and singer Fieger couldn't stand each other. They have different memories of the day "My Sharona's" beat came together. Fieger insists he demonstrated exactly what he wanted Gary to play. Gary grumbled to me that he should have received some of the hit song's publishing royalties, so essential was his drumming.

I saw the squabble as another example of the timeless battle between The Singer and The Drummer. The former perpetually tells the latter to keep it down, as if an instrument that is meant to be hit with a stick could be played quietly.

Doug is a friend of a friend of mine, and I am promised to meet him some day soon. I hope I get to. He's, from what I've been told, a phenomenal musician.

Back when I was a kid in the late 60's, it wasn't cool to like pop music. Among my circle of musician friends, we were only to like acid rock or serious-minded folk rock. We were supposed to like Jefferson Airplane, not Creedence Clearwater. Funny how things change, though. I happened to love both. I would get all head spacey with my serious musician friends while we picked apart a Stones album and then go home and put on the Monkees.

To me, it's all the same. I don't even think my brain can "hear" styles of music. I either like it or I don't. Usually, I even preferred the lighter, more pop songs to the darker, heavier stuff. And it's funny, but it's the pop stuff that has stood the test of time, while most of the darker music sounds dated and corny.

Bruce, I didn't know you, but I liked what you and Doug created together and I'm sorry you have passed at such a young age.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

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 improved and I have a much more versatile set-up, I finally re-recorded "Columbus Ave." and, using sampling techniques, brought the song up to date. Then, today, I culled a bunch of photos off the net and created a music video. The piece itself, which is spoken word (but could never be called "rap" although I borrowed some mixing techniques from hip hop), is about an incident that happened to Deborah and me one Sunday morning in New York City...

Monday, August 21, 2006

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!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Not Running Out of Gas.

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 did that happen?? Was it when I got tea this morning? Did Jim accidentally do it last night when he was putting stuff away? Yikes. It scared me, so I opened all the windows and the sliding glass doors (waking Jim up in the process, unfortunately).

I picked up the cats to make sure they seemed all right. Here I am with Thurber cat. I'm wearing the cool new t-shirt that Kibs sent me.

Then I took Chuck a couple of bags full of cans and plastic containers. He said he wasn't feeling so hot, that he was nursing a cold, and that he hadn't had a drink since yesterday. We didn't stop to chat much. I could tell he needed to keep moving.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Fools On The Hill.

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 bar stool that slowly lowers itself when you trick someone to sit on it.

Linda and Rob rode with us in our car. We arrived at the Magic Castle without incident and proceeded to the little piano bar where "Erma" the ghost pianist plays. In the corner of the room, roped off with red ropes, is a grand piano. When Erma comes in, the piano keys start playing all by themselves. You can talk to Erma and she responds by playing your request or by making little musical jokes. (For instance, if you put a dollar in her empty bird cage, the ghost bird will tweet and Erma will play, "We're In The Money."


We were joined by our friends, Kristin, Jay & Joan, and Heidi & Tom. I was very good, keeping to my newly restricted diet by having a skinless broiled chicken breast, rice and steamed asparagus. Jim got several very nice presents, including a DVD set that included every MGM musical. Mrs. Harry Blackstone came over and welcomed us, giving Jim a hat from the club.

After our dinner, we moved down to the main showroom and saw two terrific magic acts. One was a married couple who were both quick change artists and who did lots of magic with scarves and tubes.

The second guy, though, knocked me out. His was a bird act, pulling doves out of this air. HOW DO THEY DO THAT??? He also had this lit-up box where he put a doll inside, which turned into a beautiful girl.

So, we were having a wonderful time, but needed to get home because Linda and Rob were flying back home to NY the next morning very early. We made the decision to drive over Laurel Canyon rather than trying to fight the traffic where the Hollywood Bowl would be letting out.

We got about one-third the way up the hill when the car suddenly went dead.

Jim said, "Oh, no. I think we're out of gas." He started pulling over to the right. The street is rather narrow and we just just beyond a blind turn, but he got halfway out of the lane, switched on his warning lights and we were stuck.

There were strange lights on the instrument panel we had never seen before. One looked like a bright yellow gear with an exclamation point. Another was a red thingy. So, we called for help and asked them to bring us some gas.

I went down the road a few car-lengths to start warning approaching cars coming around the turn that there was a car there. I had this nightmare of us getting slammed from behind. It took about an hour for a two truck to arrive with fuel. He empied his container.

The car still wouldn't start.

He said, "You're facing uphill. I think you're gonna need more gas than that."

So, hoping beyond all hope that this really was just a gas situation, he took off and came back a half hour after that. Put the gas in. And the car started!

From now on, when I hear myself saying, "You should fill up the tank," I'm going to fill up the tank.


Sex-based club?

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 attorneys to develop a policy.

The club at South Rowan, which sparked the controversy, had continued to function through the end of the school year.

The board waived its usual requirement of two readings for policy adoptions, allowing the policy to be in effect when school opens next week.

The policy became effective upon adoption.

Board Chairman Bryce Beard said later that the new policy has been thoroughly reviewed by attorneys. He expressed confidence it can withstand a legal challenge.

That challenge might be coming soon.

"We have concerns that the policy ... is illegal," said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Raleigh office. "When a school allows extracurricular clubs, it's all or nothing. They can't discriminate ... They can't pick and choose." Rudinger cited the 1984 federal Equal Access law.

Rudinger said she is not aware of any county or city school district that has a policy similar to the one adopted by the Rowan-Salisbury school board.

"It's absolutely misnamed to call it a sex-based club. It's inappropriate," said Rudinger who has been in contact with students and parents of the South Rowan club. "These kids want to create a safe environment, to foster tolerance and acceptance. It's inappropriate and factually wrong to call them some kind of sex-based club. It's really a shame."

Rudinger noted that the ACLU has successfully represented students who wanted to have a Bible club at schools and were initially banned. She said the same law protects the Gay/Straight Alliance.

Mike Clawson, president of the Salisbury-Rowan Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays, also cited the Equal Access Act in an e-mail to the Post. "Simply put, the school cannot ban a Gay/Straight Alliance based on issues of morality if the Gay/Straight Alliance does not interfere with the orderly conduct of educational activities."

Unlike previous school board meetings where the issue was on the agenda, the issue drew no public comment on Monday night.

©2006, The Salisbury Post

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Coverboy, Author Shawn Decker

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 full article, and here's an excerpt of the excerpt:
But the first positoid I actually befriended online was Steve Schalchlin. In his photos, he was a dead ringer for Ted Danson, and he had put up his diary about living with AIDS earlier that year. “You should start one,” he typed to me one night in a chat room. “I think this public journaling stuff is going to be HUGE!”

Ironically, while I started my site to show that you could live with HIV, Steve had started to document his death from AIDS. By the time I met him, however, HIV meds had turned things around, and a site that was meant to give updates on declining health to family members caught on with strangers, who had become enthralled with Steve’s “return from the grave,” as well as his ability to tell his story as it was unfolding. And the best part of his story is that he’s still alive and writing it today. (Unless, of course, you’ve stumbled upon this in some used bookstore and the year is 2062. In which case, I’m dead too.)

Steve not only welcomed my friendship, he encouraged me to reach out to as many people as possible. The son of a preacher, he knew the power of testifying, and his own “calling” was to spread the gospel of living with AIDS without shame. When I worried that I was treating the subject of AIDS too lightly, Steve dispelled my doubts about my new positoid persona. “You have a real message of hope,” he told me. “You just deliver it with laughs.”
The book is called, of course, "MY PET VIRUS" and you can get more info about it at My Pet Virus website.


Happy Birthday, Jim Brochu.

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 all...

ME!! OKAY???
Front: Steve, Linda Leahy, Piper Laurie, Alvin Schuster, Mariam Schuster.
Back: Travis Terry, Michael Sugar, Rob Leahy.

Everyone again, but with Jim in the middle.

Here's Steinbeck loaded up on cake and booze.

It was really nice that Piper Laurie came over to celebrate with us. Jim made his famous turkey meatloaf, mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. We watched some fun videos -- one of Piper back in the 60s on a Bob Hope special where Ethel Merman comes rushing into the room and, mistakenly, calls her "Peter Laurie."

The other was some vintage Zero Mostel footage from the original Carol Burnett pilot called "Carol Plus 3."

It would have been nice to have had more friends over, but this is pretty much the capacity of our apartment (and silverware). That's why we divided up the party into two. And there are still more friends we would love to have included, of course. But you can't do everything.

And, anyway, this is about Jim. I don't know what my life would have been without him. It's impossible to imagine. For several reasons:

1. He puts up with me. (This is not easy. I make myself look really good in my blog, but the fact is I'm pretty solipsistic by nature. I forget birthdays, I never remember details of anything anyone has told me about themselves, I'm egocentric and self-centered. The list is endless. But Jim makes me look good. He is, indeed, my other half and I cannot imagine not being with him.)

2. He gave me a career in the theatre. (What most people don't realize is that, in theatre, it's all about the book, i.e. the dialogue and the characters. Musical scores rise and fall based on how well the book writer pulls them together. Without him, I would still be an unknown songwriter in L.A. with a demo tape trying to get Britney Spears attention.)

3. He makes me laugh.

4. He kept me alive. He sat in my hospital room and held my hand and gave me the will to survive. He learned to give me shots, change bed pans, replace I.V.'s and, well, the list is endless. I would not be alive today without him.

5. He forgives me. My list of idiocies and idiosyncracies and stupid moments, and weakness and failures are endless. He never complains. Never whines. Never asks for anything.

6. He loves me. That might be the hardest thing of all.

7. He lets me take care of him. I love him. I think he's a great actor, a great writer, a hilarious person, a man of heart and substance. He remembers everyone's name. He remembers everything we ever did, when we did it, and where. He lets me see him at his most vulnerable, and I love taking care of him. He gives me the honor and privilege of caring for him.

I could go on and on. He is 60 years young, and it seems like both we and our careers are just beginning. I like it like that, to tell you the truth. The future looks fantastic. I just want it to continue on. The second greatest day of my life was the day we met.

The greatest day of my life is today.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

American Psychological Association criticizes “ex-gay” proponents

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 for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). Truth Wins Out held its own event to counter NARTH; the APA issued this statement:

“For over three decades the consensus of the mental health community has been that homosexuality is not an illness and therefore not in need of a cure. The APA’s concern about the positions espoused by NARTH and so-called conversion therapy is that they are not supported by the science. There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. Our further concern is that the positions espoused by NARTH and Focus on the Family create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.”

Bonus Round Firsts!

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?


Monday, August 14, 2006

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...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Celebrity Sightings!

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 speak a word of English. So, they had to do comedy sketches, learning the words phonetically.

Aside from the usual backstabbing and infighting of people who were pretending to be nice, Mark said one time, just because he could, he called up the production staff and said, "We need an elephant!"

"What kind?"

"Any kind. Just an elephant. The biggest one you got."

They call back.

"African or Indian?"

"What's the difference?"

"The Indian has tusks."

"I don't care. Just get us an elephant."

So, the next day, the producer calls back and says, "The trainer needs a copy of the script."

Problem was, there was no script. They hadn't written a sketch for the elephant yet. Mark was so frustrated and slap happy, he had just ordered the elephant because he could.

He responded, "What? The elephant gets script approval??"

When the elephant arrived in the parking lot for the sketch, it proceeded to take the world's largest dump. Mark said, "It's probably still out there dumping."

Mark keeps one of the best blogs on the Net. He is an endless font of show biz insider memories, recalling every voiceover artist, co-star, minor celeb who ever appeared on TV or movies. Jim said "Mark remembers everything." And, Jim, who also remembers everything, for him to say that about Mark means something.

Just at the end of our dinner, the great composer Richard Sherman ("Mary Poppins") came over to our table to say hello to Mark. What a smart man! Right now, they're doing a stage presentation of "Mary Poppins" in London. Shelly asked him why there are so many changes from the movie and Dick told us a very interesting story. He said that the original writer of Mary Poppins, P. L. Travers, just hated the movie. There's an article here in New Yorker about it.

Dick told us she hated the fact that there was a story arc, that the kids were nice, that the mother was a suffragette, that the dad learned a lesson, etc. "What she wrote was a series of little vignettes where Mary Poppins just 'pops in and out.' But for a movie, you need a story arc. At least, we thought so. So, she never allowed us to convert the movie to a stage production as long as she was alive. It was Cameron Macintosh in London who secured the rights under the proviso that 'no Americans are involved.'"

I love show biz bits of gossip like that.

Meanwhile, at the show we've seen Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara:

Doris Roberts:

Mrs. Al Hirschfeld brought Jim a copy of Al's caricature of Zero:

The rest of the run is all but sold out. There are seats here and there, but this has been a fantastic success for the West Coast Jewish Theatre, which took a chance on this play. More news still to come!


Friday, August 11, 2006

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.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

72 Virgins.

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

2005 Ovation photos are in!

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.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Chuck's Living Room

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 the bag of cans, thanked me enthusiastically and then sorted them out in the various plastic bags he had hanging off his cart. He looked up at me, "I work seven days a week," he said sounding weary.

"Let's keep walking," I said. "I haven't cooled down yet." Now that I've made the decision to conquer this triglyceride problem through sheer force of will and hard work, my routine is to run for 45 solid minutes every morning without stopping.

"Okay, cool," he responded. We walked on down the block. But then, a few minutes later, after I had cooled off some, we saw a couch sitting on the sidewalk. Something someone had thrown away.

"Wow," I said. "This couch is nicer than the one we have in our apartment. Let's sit."

He said, "Turn the cushions over first. They'll be wet." So we turned them over and then sat down. It felt good to rest. Looking up at the apartment complex in front of us, I said, "Well, I love what you've done with the place, but the TV is too small."

He laughed and said, "Yeah! Welcome to my living room!"

I asked him if he was still living in the same place he was living in before, which he had described as a little room behind someone's house, the electricity supplied by an extension cord.

"Naw. She's selling her house and the real estate person said I had to go."

"So, where are you living now?"

He pointed to his cart. Beneath the basket was a plastic bag. "Right there. That's all my bedding. I found a little spot in the parking lot of a department store near where the electrical box is housed. I get there about 10pm just as the bigwigs are driving off and the lights go out. The maintenance men all know me. It's pretty nice actually, but I have to find someplace else when the rains start."

"You don't have a roof over the place?"

"Naw. But it's okay. No one knows it's there, so I feel safe. And I have this GREAT big blanket that I found in a bin not too long ago. You could cover this whole couch and it would still run 10 feet out in front of us."

I noticed that he looked a little less clean than he used to. Chuck has always taken great pride in not being dirty and always finding clean shirts for his excavations.

"What about going up north? You still planning to visit your friend and pan for gold in Oregon?"

"Only if my sister sends me some money. I have to buy some fishing gear and some camping equipment. I'm not sure. I'm okay right now. I like the two dollar movie house. You can get two hot dogs for two dollars."

It's hard to know what to feel at times like this. Jimmy and I have struggled a lot with bills over the years, especially after I got sick. But we never have had to sleep out on the street, even when we had to go to friends to borrow money for rent.

Chuck and I sat on the couch and talked awhile longer. "Hey," I said. "I haven't seen Saddam Hussein this morning."

"Naw, he's probably gotten his welfare check." Chuck refuses to get welfare or VA help. "When he runs that out, he'll be back out here. Meanwhile, I have the whole area to myself."

"Well," I said. "I need to get back home. I've been waitin' to hear about a job. I hope it comes through." I dug into my pocket and picked out a few bills.

He objected. "Oh, you don't need to give me money."

I put them into his cart, anyway, apologetically. "It's not much, my friend. Just a few bucks. Have a couple of hot dogs on me."

He got a twinkle in his eye. "Hey!" He said. "You know, what goes around, comes around. I have a few old, homeless friends and I'm always giving them a few bucks so they can get a sandwich or something. Now, you've given me a few bucks. This means good luck for you the rest of the day! That job is gonna come through. I just know it."

I smiled and said goodbye, but walked quickly away because my eyes were starting to burn a little. I stopped after a moment and shouted back, "Good luck, Chuck!"

He smiled his goofy, half-toothless smile at me, waved, and said, "So long, buddy. So long."

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!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

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.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Voice Goes On (Jim in Backstage Magazine).

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.

For Brochu, whose résumé in multiple mediums is mind-boggling--actor, playwright, director, book author, agent, producer--a lifetime of acclaimed accomplishments doesn't mean he can now relax. He's currently embarking on what he admits is the biggest acting challenge of his life: He wrote and performs in Zero Hour, a two-hour solo play charting the glorious yet tumultuous life of an actor considered by many to be among the greatest of the 20th century, Zero Mostel (1915–1977). Filling the larger-than-life shoes of an eccentric, tortured, brilliant creative giant--who gained fame starring in the musicals Fiddler on the Roof and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Mel Brooks' 1968 film classic The Producers--is a gargantuan task.

When Mostel's son, actor Josh Mostel, asked Brochu why he wanted to do a show about his father, the playwright-actor had a simple answer: "Because he's a great character--famous or not, real or not. If he hadn't already existed, we would have had to invent him." Brochu loves to mimic the famous Mostel bellow; if the rest of his performance matches the authenticity of this bit, audiences are in for a treat. "There was a previous show about Zero," says Brochu. "Josh said it wasn't very good. It was too flattering. Zero had a very dark side, and we address it in the play. At the end he says that he is a very angry man. He says that he has been excluded as a man, a Jew, and an entertainer. We go into the [McCarthy] blacklist. Zero compared himself to Lucille Ball [who, unlike others, easily escaped career damage from the blacklist]. He says they could have called her show 'I Love Lenin' and the audiences would have forgiven her." Mostel was bitter that his and others' careers experienced more-destructive fallout from the hysteria.

Brochu adds that another reason for Mostel's anger was terrible and constant pain in his leg following an accident in which he was hit by a bus; for years, Mostel danced and cavorted onstage, then limped off into the wings. Yet another incident that added to Mostel's resentments was director Norman Jewison's casting of Topol in the 1971 film adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof. Says Brochu: "When later on Jewison called Josh to offer him the part of Herod in the film Jesus Christ Superstar, Zero yelled out, 'Tell him to cast Topol's son.'"

Mostel has often been criticized for his explosive temperament on the job and what many considered a lack of discipline onstage. Notes Brochu, "In a line in the play, Zero says that a great musician, an Arthur Rubinstein, will put a piece of sheet music in front of someone who will play every note as written, but does it come out the same every night? He says, 'I'm not a metronome.'" According to historians, although critics, playwrights, actors, and directors often balked at the performer's audacious straying from the script during performances, audiences loved it. Brochu describes an incident in which Mostel was doing a performance in St. Louis in a 7,000-seat outdoor theatre in a park on the Fourth of July. Brochu repeats Mostel's line from the play: "Fireworks and explosions were going on; what was I supposed to do, not notice them? I grabbed my stomach and apologized for having had a Mexican dinner."

Brochu elaborates, "Zero always said he never changed a word or comma but that he might add something once in a while. In Forum, he once announced the results of the Sonny Liston–Floyd Patterson fight but claimed that he gave it a Roman context, saying the knockout occurred in Round XII. He got very angry when people were upset about his spontaneity. He said he wasn't the kind of actor who could just be a movie every night, asking if he was so terrible in Forum, why did [its producer] Harold Prince later cast him again in Fiddler?" Still, history tells us that what was creative genius to some registered to others as a lack of discipline and respect.

Finding and conveying all of the nuances of this complex character, maintaining his intense energy for two hours, and most of all, doing justice to a great artist are Brochu's concerns as he tackles this daunting undertaking. "There were so many levels of things going on in his life," he notes. "He was so mercurial." Brochu had a long acquaintance with Mostel, having been introduced to the famous actor by Brochu's mentor, actor David Burns, who appeared with Mostel in the original Broadway production of Forum. Brochu says the director of Zero Hour, Paul Kreppel, also knew Mostel, which is another boon to presenting a credible depiction of the man's essence.

Brochu and songwriter Schalchlin initially nurtured The Big Voice and The Last Session--their semiautobiographical Off-Broadway musical hit--in L.A. workshops before playing here and elsewhere. Following the respective premieres, each show won theatre awards in various cities where they were performed. Both continue as popular offerings in theatres nationwide. One of Brochu's plays, The Lucky O'Learys, caught Ball's eye in the 1980s. She considered turning it into a television pilot for herself and Audrey Meadows before she fell ill. Brochu became a close friend to Ball, spent a great deal of time with her, and following her sudden 1989 death, wrote a book about the afternoons he spent conversing with her.

As a young man growing up in New York during the golden age of Broadway, Brochu had several showbiz heroes, and he has enjoyed the good fortune of meeting most of them--and working with many. Besides exploring the personal and professional relationship between Brochu and Schalchlin, The Big Voice demonstrates how Broadway superstar Ethel Merman had a strong influence on Brochu's life and career paths, in a mystical fashion. The first lines of the play draw a link between show business and religion. The ethereal presence of Merman--whom Brochu also knew--becomes a spiritual symbol for the journey of the showbiz couple Brochu and Schalchlin.
Over the years, Brochu has initiated countless projects and driven them to fruition. "You can't sit around waiting for the phone to ring," he remarks. "Because it won't. I am always telling actors and would-be screenwriters and playwrights to get out there and do it for themselves. When I wrote The Last Session with Steve [inspired by Schalchlin's emotional and physical triumph over AIDS], I didn't write a part for myself as an actor. I had stepped away from acting about 20 years earlier, thinking maybe I'd be happier on the other side--directing, producing, and writing--and then found out I really wasn't. I live on a stage, love being on a stage, so instead of waiting around for Tennessee Williams to write something for me, especially now that he's dead, if God has given me the talent to write something for myself, then I better well do it. It's kind of like that old adage: If you build it, they will come. If you write it, it will get produced."

"Zero Hour," presented by West Coast Jewish Theatre, continues Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2 & 7 p.m. through Aug. 27 at the Egyptian Arena Theatre, 1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hollywood. (323) 595-4849.

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 have been killing men suspected of being gay and children who have been sold to criminal gangs to be sexually abused. The threat has led to a rapid increase in the numbers of Iraqi homosexuals now seeking asylum in the UK because it has become impossible for them to live safely in their own country.

Ali Hili runs the Iraqi LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) group out of London. He used to have 40 volunteers in Iraq but says after recent raids by militia in Najaf, Karbala and Basra he has lost contact with half of them. They move to different safe houses to protect their identities, but their work is incredibly dangerous.

Eleven-year-old Ameer Hasoon al-Hasani was kidnapped by policemen from the front of his house last month. He was known in his district to have been forced into prostitution. His father Hassan told me he searched for his son for three days after his abduction, then found him, shot in the head. A copy of the death certificate confirms the cause of death.

Homosexuality is seen as so immoral that it qualifies as an 'honour killing' to murder someone who is gay - and the perpetrator can escape punishment. Section 111 of Iraq's penal code lays out protections for murder when people are acting against Islam.

'The government will do nothing to tackle this issue. It's really desperate when people get to the stage they're trading their children for money. They have no alternatives because there are no jobs,' Hili says.

Graphic photos obtained from Baghdad sources too frightened to identify themselves as having known a gay man, and seen by the Observer, show other gay Iraqis who have been executed. One shows two men, suspected of having a relationship, blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs - guns at the ready behind their heads - awaiting execution. Another picture captured on a mobile phone shows a gay man being beaten to death. Yet another shows a corpse being dragged through the streets after his execution.

One photograph is of the mutilated, burnt body of 38-year-old Karar Oda from Sadr City. He was kidnapped by the Badr Brigade in mid-June. They work with the Ministry of Interior and are the informal armed wing of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, who make up the largest Shia bloc in the Iraq parliament. Oda's family were given an arrest warrant signed by the Ministry of Interior which said their son deserved to be arrested and killed for immorality as a homosexual. His body was found ten days later.
I feel so much safer now. Don't you?

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 gay radio commentator who thinks he's being duped by a woman who might be posing as a 14 year old dying of AIDS. (All based on a true story). We found the movie a bit inconsistent -- not terrible; not great. What we did like was that there was no attention drawn to the sexuality of the characters. They were just gay. His failing relationship with his partner was not exploitative nor special. It just was.

You know, like real life. We all just are.

I also had my weekly chat with my friend, Ernie, who gives me great advice about dealing with personal stuff. (I read this past week that people who Internet a lot seem to have fewer personal real friends -- apart from spouses -- out in the real world; so I've been redoubling my efforts to make sure Ernie and Michael and I get face time, even if it's just for a few moments for a hug and kiss and breakfast or something.)

I also ran on Saturday. I ran on Sunday. Longer than usual just to make sure I was going to keep up with the discipline no matter what. It takes effort, you know. Any kind of real self-help "gonna get my act together and push on and get reborn again" takes effort. You have to make yourself get up. Make yourself eat right. Make yourself put on your running shoes. Make yourself finish that project. Even if you don't want to. Even if you're too depressed about it. Even if it's boring. Even if. Even if. Even if.

It won't get done for you. And you can't just do it for a day or two. It's like a marathon runner. Every day is a new day to slog up out of the depths of your inertia and just make yourself do it. No excuses. No putting it off. No waiting for some magic to happen. No waiting for someone to motivate you. Even during the days when you hate it. Even when you can't stand the thought of it. Even when you don't know why. Even when it feels useless. Even if you hate yourself. Even if you didn't do it yesterday.

You make yourself get up. You make yourself do it.

When I give talks at schools, I often talk about how I willed myself back to life back when I was so sick. How I had to make the decision that I would live. Every single morning I would make that decision. "Today I'm going to live." At this point in the talk, I would look around the room at all the young faces and say, "This is true about all of you, too, whether you're sick or not. Whether you're depressed or not. You have to decide that today you will live. Because I know a lot of walking dead people. And you do, too."

I think in a world where so much is done for us this is especially true. The TV entertains us. The radio plays music for us. The computer gives us things to read. It's so easy to fill our time with useless, pointless activity -- all of which seems to be accomplishing something. All of which has the appearance of activity. But deep down we know we not doing anything. Deep down we know we're just avoiding the thing we must do the most.

So, yes, it's an effort of willpower. Yes, no one can do it for us. Yes, we have to make that decision and then make that decision and then make that decision. Over and over again. Yes, it's relentless. Yes, even when you'd rather be eating ice cream or getting stoned or having sex or watching endless amounts of TV or feigning activity while producing nothing. Yes, even if you hate yourself for doing it. Even if you think you're a million miles behind and you can't catch up.

Start over. Make it happen. Do what you need to do. Do something little. Do it every day. Start over. Do it again. Use your brain. Because if you don't, then a year will pass by. And another year will pass by. And another. And you'll hate yourself even more for that lost time. And your lethargy will continue. I know this. I've been there. I'm the very worst.

So, now I'm going to go put on my running shoes and I'm going to hit the streets again. I'd rather be doing ANYTHING but that, but I'm going to make myself make it happen.

It's the only answer. But the greatest thing about this is that there is an answer. It is something I can do. It may be a small thing, but I will do it.

See ya later!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Innovative AIDS Education in Africa

According to this story in the NY Times:

Cheap Solutions Cut AIDS Toll for Poor Kenyan Youths

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.

The study found that when girls in impoverished rural areas were given free school uniforms instead of having to pay $6 for them — the principal remaining economic barrier to education in Kenya — they were significantly less likely to drop out and become pregnant.

Researchers also found that classroom debates and essay-writing contests on whether students should be taught about condoms to prevent the spread of H.I.V. increased the use of condoms without increasing sexual activity.

So, the girls would have sex with older men in order to get school uniforms and other necessities. The program, instead of just telling about how not to get infected, helped the girls understand that older men were much more likely to give them HIV -- and that by having a discussion on whether condom use should be taught, their pregnancy rate dropped, indicating that they were protecting themselves.

The article also notes that HIV education which merely promoted abstinency had no effect on the students. The pregnancy rates remained the same. Once again, the political right, which has forced this ineffective educational tact into the science of the classroom, has shown itself to be morally bankrupt since it cares more about ideology than results.

Let the AIDS educators with experience run the AIDS education programs and leave the right wing religious political people OUT of it.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

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 editing gig!

At 5:30 I got up to run. I decided I was not going to let my depression (situational, not clinical) get the best of me. I was going to hit the streets, stop being a wimp, and just start running. Do it. No matter how I felt about it. Just do it. (Oh, no. I sound like a Nike ad).

And I did. I found a parking lot near here and I started doing laps. Two big laps, some street running. Total: 30 minutes. Not a lot, but it's a start.

On the way back, I saw Chuck and his shopping cart, almost empty, just pulling up in front of my apartment building. His eyes lit up. I said, "Stay here. I'll be right back."

I went upstairs to get two bags of accumulated empty cans, along with a plastic garbage bag for him to tie onto his cart. As I emerged, he said, "Oh, great! Where you been?"

I said, "I've been out every morning but I keep missing you. My doctor has been yelling at me that I'm not doing enough, though."

He said, "I got a nickname for you. Do you mind? Everyone on the street here has a nickname. Like that guy up there...?" I looked up the street and saw another shopping cart guy who's recently been encroaching on Chuck's territory.


"That's Saddam Hussein. Cuz he looks like Saddam Hussein."

"I've seen him! He was at the 7/11 the other morning buying a big bottle of beer."

Most of the street people are alcoholics, including Chuck, who readily admits it.

I continued, "Yeah. Saddam Hussein was at the 7/11. I wonder if they know he escaped?"

"So," he said, "I have a nickname for you. Do you mind?"

"Hell, no! I love nicknames."

"I've named you thunder thighs. I mean look!"

He pointed down at my legs, especially my calves. He said, "You could crack walnuts with those thighs. When I see you comin', I always say, 'Here comes thunder thighs!'"

Friday, August 04, 2006

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 hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.

There I said it. I hate running. I hate excercise.

I can sit here behind my computer monitor for a day without moving anything but the mouse. I'm a born geek. I'm editing video or working on music. I hate doing exercise. And I've been making myself get up and run. Or walk. Or something.

I hate breathing hard. I hate it when I'm exhausted.

I'm a bad person.

"Is it your diet? What are you eating?"

I didn't want to say. I was bad in San Francisco. I ate french fries a lot. I shouldn't eaten the french fries. But I did eat the french fries. And the blood tests she was looking at were done right after I got back. Maybe this is just an anomaly. I don't eat french fries when Jim cooks for me.

I was depressed driving home. I wanted to pull into Jack in the Box and have french fries.

But I didn't. And of course the traffic was annoying. Soo many cars. Where are all these people going? Why are they getting in my way? It took me an hour to get home! Laurel Canyon Boulevard was just jammed with cars. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE??

I finally got home and we had pasta, so I poked around the pasta and ate as much of the turkey burger part as I could, leaving behind as much pasta as I could. Then I laid my head down on the couch about 9pm and went to sleep and didn't wake up until 5:30am -- except for one brief moment when I had to take my pills at 10, and again around midnight when Susan Hayward was gettin' all Susan Hayward on someone's ass.

When I finally did get up, I was groggy and depressed. So I dutifully put on my running gear, opened the door, went into the courtyard to go do my duty to my body.

And it's raining.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

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...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

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

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

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 together.

And at the end of the night, another huge surprise. Kim and Ronda had flown my parents in from Louisiana to sit in the audience. They came out and took a bow with us.

I got to the end of writing up the diary entry and, out of nowhere, I pronounced it, "END OF BOOK ONE."

What was next?

I didn't know. No one knew.

I did know one thing, though. I would be there for it.

I would BE there for it.