Tag Archives: New York City

Variations on a Most Lovely Theme

Do you notice how sometimes when you’re sick, you wake up and think, Hey I feel lots better today, and so you try to do a million things only to make yourself 10 times sicker than you were even the day before?

That was me yesterday. But because of that, I spent a lot of really spacey, sort of drug-induced dreaminess in bed this morning because I was incapable of doing anything else but just lie there for 5 hours, trying to drink coffee.

And I was thinking about my Lou Reed birthday post from yesterday, and thinking about that song Walk on the Wild Side and how much it meant to me when I was growing up, and how songs like that literally  helped get me to NYC – helped me find my way there.

I moved there when I was 20, in 1980, thinking I would stay one year and then move to L.A. But once I got to New York, it was like everything I ever dreamed life was supposed to be, and also a whole lot worse. So I stayed there for nearly 30 years.

I think of those years in NYC as “my life” and everything that came afterwards as basically just the stuff I need to do before I die. Well, I did fall in love recently and that might change things, change my take on the world. It’s too soon to know for sure but I guess we’ll see.

Anyway.  Loyal readers of this lofty blog know that pretty much the very instant I moved to NYC, I fell in love with an older man who turned out to be a hitman for the Mob and then I launched myself headlong into a pregnancy with him that devastated me. And in the middle of all that, John Lennon was killed, and he was truly one of my girlhood heroes.  All of this was, literally, within a month of my moving to NYC. Once you get NYC into your veins like that — and it was so easy to do back then; it was a whole other world then — you just can’t get it out of your system, really. I became a New Yorker, like, overnight.

In the mid-1980s, I joined the Visiting Nurse Services of NY as a volunteer, because of the AIDS crisis going on back then. I went into the homes of people in the last stages of AIDS and tried to help make their lives easier in anyway they needed until they died, which was usually right away. By the time they sent someone like me into someone’s home, it was sort of the death knell.

THEM: “You’re not a nurse.”

ME: “No, I’m not.”

THEM: “Who are you?”

ME: “I’m just here to help you with whatever you need from now on.”

One of my patients was an aging black pimp up in Harlem, who had this amazing apartment straight out of the 1920s, and a wife who was still working as a prostitute, who was part black and part Chinese, who looked & dressed like an aging dragon lady. (Yes, folks, from that slice of my reality, my now classic erotic novella Neptune & Surf was born.) That particular patient – a pimp who kept his wife turning tricks until the final moment – only wanted me to read to him from the Bible, which I did, until he died.

Another patient of mine lasted for quite a few months when they assigned me to him.  I was 27 at the time. You know, this kind of work is very confidential.  However, not only was this over 30 years ago, the patient’s Significant Other mentioned me at the funeral, so that was public, and so now I feel I want to go public, too.

That particular patient was the photographer, Peter Hujar. A gentle, warm, lovely man. A very talented photographer who documented so much of the NYC I lived in — and had gone to NYC to experience in the first place.  He had some truly famous, and infamous, photos framed and mounted on the walls of his modest apartment.

I bring all this up in connection to Lou Reed’s song, Walk on the Wild Side, because Peter Hujar took some iconic photos of men and drag queens from that era, including the men Lou sang about in that song.

When Peter first let me into his apartment that first day, I looked at all those photos hanging there on the walls and was stunned. I said, “Did you take all of these? I know these photos.” They were truly part of my life.

He was already so fragile by then, even though he would live a couple more months. But that day, he said to me, “You’re just perfect, you know that? I apologize for being so sick.”  In the early days of the AIDS crisis, the patients were basically treated like they were radioactive, because the disease was not understood yet but it was killing everybody. Most people back then would not get near anyone who was known to have AIDS. It was hard for the nurses to find enough volunteers. For some reason, I never had a fear of being around them. I saw them as people who needed help while they were dying and that fear was never going to be the right response when anyone needed help while they were dying.

Below are a couple photos Peter Hujar took. Click on them and they get larger. I’m guessing he also took photos of Holly Woodlawn, Joe Dallesandro, and the Sugar Plum Fairy (Joe Campbell), but you’d have to google all that.

Candy Darling on her deathbed. I saw this photo in Rolling Stone Magazine’s Random Notes when I was 14. At the time, I simply could not believe that she was a man. I never forgot this photo and I was stunned to learn that Peter was the photographer who had taken it.
Jackie Curtis at his own funeral in 1985. Another photo I saw long before I met Peter Hujar.
One of Peter Hujar’s self-portraits. This one is from 1976, 4 years before I moved to NYC. He looked pretty much exactly like this when I met him 11 years later, although he was painfully thin by then.

Yesterday, when I posted about how the song Walk on the Wild Side helped shape my life, making me who I am, I meant it on so many levels. Even though I’m almost 60 now, those very early days of mine in NYC seem like they truly happened just yesterday.

I’m not sure why so many gay men, drag queens, heroin addicts, gay alcoholic poets and painters, had such an enormous influence on who I was and who I became as a writer and as a woman, but they really did. A song like Walk on the Wild Side is part of my DNA now.

And I think that when people in Toronto (and sooner or later NYC), finally see the one-woman show I’ve been working on for 5 years now with Sandra Caldwell about her own life (The Guide to Being Fabulous), you’ll agree that the two of us meeting at all was pure destiny from the word go.

I was totally born to do this, to help bring her incredible story to the stage.  My play, Tell My Bones, about the painter Helen LaFrance that I wrote for Sandra, is a beautiful piece of theater that I want to share with the world. But being part of a play like The Guide to Being Fabulous is why I was born.

One More from Hell’s Kitchen

Yes, it’s that time! When I regale you with another one of my songs from my Hell’s Kitchen singer-songwriter days. (If you’re on your phone, you gotta turn it to the side to see this post correctly.)

This is a song I wrote in 1982.  I wrote it primarily for Blare N. Bitch (who was not called that back then, and back then, she played bass) because I was indescribably in love with her, but I also wrote it for all the other girl-musicians around the Lower East Side back then, who all had dark hair, played punk rock, and wore black leather motorcycle jackets. And, of course, played around with all that heroin until it became a really bad habit.

I never, ever touched heroin because I knew I would be a prime candidate for becoming an addict. Plus, heroin seemed to be better suited to the girls who played electric guitars.  I already had a ferocious problem with pills and bourbon.  But I played folk-country music in Greenwich  Village (the lower West side), so pills and bourbon fit in just fine there.  (I’m only partially kidding.)

Once again, this is the only digital demo of this song that I have. It’s not my favorite because I prefer the very first, homemade demos, of all the songs I wrote. But it’s an okay one.  I definitely love the guitar work here, just not crazy about the vocals.

Blare N. Bitch of course got clean, moved to LA, stayed clean – lo! these many decades later – got all inked up and is a truly awesome heavy metal guitar player, even though all of us are now pushing [WHISPERS]: sixty!

Sorry for the disappearing act!

But it was a pretty good act, wasn’t it? You probably couldn’t see me at all — for, like 8 or 9 days!

Except maybe for my quite comely yet furry little ears….

Anyway, yes! I’ve been away from the blog! I’ve been hard at work doing stuff! Like working on a new chapter in Blessed By Light. And working on a new chapter in Girl in the Night: Erotic Love Letters to the Muse. And having my first meeting with the director on my new play! And now working on some revisions for the play. (The stage adaptation of Tell My Bones.)

And, most importantly of all, I was hard at work taking out the front right end of my Honda Fit by hitting an enormous pothole in the road! Man, what a huge mess. It completely obliterated the tire. Bent the steel wheel rim. Put the whole car way out of alignment. Indescribably expensive stuff.  The only thing that I didn’t have to pay through the nose for was the tow truck.

So that was fun.

But all in all, things are good.  I need that car to get me back & forth to NYC again in the near future — and probably a few times — so, alas, gotta keep the car perfect.

Yes! More trips to NYC are on the horizon.  There will be a couple of staged readings of the play in the intensely beautiful village of Rhinebeck NY, and then probably at least one in New York City itself.  But there will be plenty of rehearsals there before the readings occur.  (Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that for a couple of years, I was planning to move to Rhinebeck, only to end up in the intensely quirky and magical village of Crazyland in Muskingum County, Ohio! So any opportunity to get back to Rhinebeck makes me really happy.)

Related image
Village of Rhinebeck, NY

I’m happy, just overall. Actually, I’m over the moon.

You know, it recently occurred to me that many light years ago, in a galaxy far, far away — meaning, the very first time I went to college, right after high school — I majored in Theater and really wanted to be a playwright. For some inexplicable reason I had forgotten about this. However, what I wanted more was to go to NYC and be a singer-songwriter, which is what I ended up doing once I promptly dropped out of college. But as anyone who knows me knows so well, that once I was living in NYC, I attended every single  Broadway play, and Off-Broadway play, and Off-Off-Broadway play, and plays in the most unexpected hard-to-find venues, etc., etc. I have always just loved theater. So for all of this to be happening now — lo! these many decades later — I can’t even tell you how happy and astonished it makes me feel,  to have it all unfolding like this.

Well, we’ve been working on both these plays for several years (Tell My Bones and The Guide to Being Fabulous), but still. Now suddenly it’s all happening, with prospects at 2 incredible theaters in the US and Canada, and it’s almost hard to believe.

I think the person who’s happiest for me, oddly enough, is my first husband. We have been divorced for almost 30 years, but when we were married, in 1981, we lived in a small apartment that was a hop, skip, and a jump from the theater district in Manhattan and he remembers quite well how much I loved the theater. So he is kinda  over the moon with happiness for me, too.

It’s an incredible feeling. To suddenly come full circle when you absolutely least expect it.

Truly loyal readers of this lofty blog, might possibly recall that for over 20 years, I believed that my first husband was dead.  Two summers ago, he popped back up, in an email, that said, “Hi how are you doing?” And I wrote back, “WTF??!! I thought you had died!! Where have you been for 20 years??!! We were all trying to find you!!” And he said, “Sorry. I was really busy.”

I’ve lived long enough now to know that if a man says that he’s been really busy for 20 years, just accept it and move on. Because you probably don’t really want to know “busy with what?”

But anyway. It’s funny. If you can manage to live long enough, the most amazing dreams come true. (In ways that I can’t even go into here on the blog. It is sufficient to say that I am incredibly happy.)

Well, I must get crackin’ here now and start writing. Thanks for visiting, gang, and sorry for the long delay in posting.  Have a wonderful Wednesday wherever you are in the world. I love you guys!! See ya.

This is poor Yorick. I knew him… 🙂

Whew!

I think I am finally, finally, FINALLY present and accounted for. Alive again in my own life. Home at last.  I slept for 9 and a half hours last night — uninterrupted except for the very nearby passing of a railroad train (see photo somewhere below that shows just how close the train tracks are to my new house). I never sleep for more than about 7 hours, so getting so much uninterrupted sleep was kind of shocking to me, but in a good way.

And I had these really great, vivid, active dreams about — guess what? — moving into a new house that had tons of windows! I can’t remember the last time (or if ever) I had a dream that was not only happy but that also reflected the actual life I was currently living.  How do you process that? Dreaming happy, then waking up happy, then remembering I had a happy dream, and then realizing, oh, that’s just like my life right now!  Like, did I die and I haven’t yet figured out that I died? I guess time will tell!

Oh, and by the way, “happy” Good Friday to one and all. (Speaking of dying and continuing to consciously live on while dead…)

Anyway, it’s been a bit of a week. Before I went into contract on this house that I ended up buying, some other people were under contract to buy the house but their mortgage was declined. However, before their mortgage was declined, they set about making improvements to the house — wiring and plumbing. But when the mortgage was declined, they dropped everything and simply walked away, leaving things half-done.

When I had the house inspected, the inspector told me some wiring upgrades had been made but that I would need an electrician to come in and add a new line. Well, I’m actually intelligent, and I also have a killer vocabulary, which adds to the overall aura of my presumed intelligence, but to be brutally honest, most of the time I wander around in a partial dream-state, thinking about everything under the sun except for what’s right in front of me, and the things people are saying directly to me go mostly unregistered in my brain, even while I nod my head and say, “sure, okay.”

So, imagine my surprise when it became suddenly clear that my kitchen was a wiring nightmare and a serious fire hazard. Things were turning off & on by themselves; outlets were melting. And then, wafting up into my conscious awareness comes: Ah, so this is what he meant by get an electrician in here.

Hence, the electricians came for many hours. It wasn’t too terribly expensive, and they fixed everything and I was content, and then the following morning, a bright orange emergency tag appeared on my kitchen door that said that my water meter was going in reverse and needed fixing as soon as possible. (“Did anyone come in here and do some plumbing, ma’am? They put this line on backwards!”)

Ah, well, that was fixed, too.  And speaking of the railroad train (above)…

I wonder if I’m ever going to get tired of the excitement of the train rushing by? It goes by about once a day, and a few nights a week. (And by “night” I mean 3 o’clock in the morning.)  First, it’s the “ding ding ding ding” of the gates lowering while the red lights start flashing; then the train whistle starts screaming in the distance and I can feel the rushing rumble coming  my way. This is when the cats scurry and hide, whereas I rush to one of my many windows in anticipation of that monster train coming into view and then hurtling past.

Awesome, in an otherwise serene and quiet town.

Oh, but here’s another thing I love. The guy next door (married with very young children) has a rock band and they occasionally practice out in his garage.  It’s down at the end of the backyard, out on the alley, next to where my horse & buggy barn is. The sound is not deafening, but I can certainly hear it. Some sort of death-metal type tempo. And while death-metal wouldn’t be listed up there as a favorite musical genre of mine, as someone who was a professional musician/singer/songwriter for a really long time,  the sound of that band practicing in the garage always brings a smile to my face.  While everything imaginable in my own personal life has changed, in other outer, outside world ways, nothing changes. And that is comforting.

So. I had a conference call with Sandra yesterday and now we must get back on track. Rehearsals for the staged reading (in NYC) of the one-woman musical The Guide to being Fabulous begin on April 14th in Rhinebeck, NY.  The staged reading is for production funds for mounting the show Off-Broadway at (if I may say so myself) a really prestigious Off-Broadway venue in midtown. So it is very exciting, folks.

I will only be needed for tweeks and minor re-writes, so I won’t have to attend most of the rehearsals, so I have to buckle down and use this time for finishing the stage adaptation of my Helen LaFrance script, Tell My Bones (also for Sandra).  It’s good to feel that urgency; it gives me focus.  And that is what this move to this new house was all about: A place to get really settled; to call home; to sit in peaceful solitude and write (with the occasional train and rock band spiking my consciousness!)

All right. Enjoy Good Friday, wherever you are, gang. Remember, Good Friday is a reminder that all of life is re-born, it never dies, we’re all sacred, eternal, joyful beings, created as we are creating. What could be better than that? Okay!

Thanks for visiting, gang! See ya!

This old barn is just down the road a piece, but it’s been enhanced here by photoshop. The Mail Pouch logo is really, really faded now.

Happy, Happy 2018!!

Well, except for yesterday’s “reblogging” of Ted Nottingham‘s recent video post, I haven’t been here since before Christmas.

So you probably don’t know that we had a white Christmas here! Yes! It snowed Christmas Eve!! What could be better? (BTW, I had the happiest Christmas Eve ever — probably in my whole life. And not just because it snowed; the snow was more the proverbial icing on the top.) Just so much great stuff going on and so much exciting stuff to look forward to.

And we had a seriously white –and freezing cold–New Year’s Eve here last night.  More snow than the Hinterlands has seen in a while, with temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.  Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that I love snow! So these frosty developments only cause me to rejoice. Yay!

I was very tempted, yesterday, to jump into the sporty Honda Fit and drive deeper into the Hinterlands to see what my new house looks like in the snow! But, well, as  much as I love the cold and the snow, I really, really love not driving around in it. So here I remained.

One of the reasons I am having the happiest holidays, ever, is because of that new (very old) house. And I’m sure I will have plenty of winters ahead wherein I will discover what that house looks like in the snow, but that doesn’t keep me from thinking about that great house all the time now. I just love that house, and I can’t wait to live in that strange and crazy tiny town (whose location, btw, cuts more than an hour off my drive to & from New York).

That said, though, I still have to get through the bank appraisal and the closing before I will know for 100% certain that it is my new house, even though it feels like home already. However, because of the looming bank appraisal and the official closing, I haven’t actually announced to people that I have a new house — except, of course, to you, gentle readers, who reside all over the world…

Another reason that it’s been the happiest of holidays here is because one of my theater projects with Sandra Caldwell in New York City is on track for Off-Broadway. I can’t discuss the details yet, and won’t be able to for a while, but things are going so great with that project.  I am so excited. And, out in L.A., TV-pilot shopping season begins in January (which is, of course, officially upon us!), so I am very excited about the prospects of my Untitled Cleveland Drama (once known as Cleveland’s Burning) very soon being sold.

The other thing that makes me so happy, of course, and the thing that makes all the other above-mentioned things a lot less stressful and even more delightful, is my new friend.  His personality, his experiences, his approach to life continue to surprise me anew every day.  He is such a cool guy and just so darned fearless.  It is such a joy to have someone in my life whose response to things is “Let’s do it!”, instead of giving the long litany of all the negative things that could go wrong with any given idea, as most people do.  God knows, I have been inundated with negative people throughout most of my life, going way, way back to my wee bonny girlhood, so he could not be more refreshing, nor his arrival in my life more perfectly timed.

All right, on that delightfully cheerful note, I’m off to the kitchen to make a huge pot of soup on this cold, snowy, frosty day.

Have a terrific 2018 wherever you are in the world and with whatever you’re doing. As always, thanks for visiting, gang! See ya.

 

Still Alive!

I know; you’d never know it by how long it’s been since I’ve posted here!

BTW, thanks to everyone who sent comments to Iris re: her new book of flash fiction (post below), and also to those of you who bought it! She is a great writer. (And a good friend of mine.) Even if you don’t buy her book, you can find a whole lot of her flash fiction (and poetry) all over the Internet.

I won’t go into detail about all that has been going on here. Nothing terrible; just intense. Pace never stopping.  But last night, I got a great night’s sleep, and today I feel energized again. So, onward.

First and foremost: Here’s where I’m going either Tuesday or Wednesday of this coming week!

I can’t wait! I haven’t been to an actual movie theater in months. Nearly a year, in fact.

Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that I am a huge fan of Johnny Depp‘s. And one thing I really love about him is that he doesn’t bleach his teeth. And I’m not talking about his hideous Jack Sparrow teeth, but just his regular old teeth — just like movie stars  from days of yore who simply had teeth.

Once, a few years ago, I tried watching the much-acclaimed movie, Mud, starring Matthew McConaughey.  From the start, it reminded me, for some odd reason, of Tender Mercies (which I liked a lot better), but I stuck with it, until McConaughey, a hermit on a deserted island in the middle of (sort of) nowhere, hiding from the law, etc., opens his mouth and reveals a set of stunningly blinding, bright, white teeth.

What kind of lone-hermit-fugitive, living on crumbs of food brought to him by a couple of rogue boys,  is that??!! I lost all interest in the film from that moment forward, because I could no longer believe in any of it. It all just became Matthew McConaughey with a set of artificially gleaming teeth. I could not focus on a single other thing, so I gave up watching it. And came away thinking, Wow, Tender Mercies was such a great little movie. Where did the years go?

Anyway!

Yes. I am officially incredibly behind schedule on the theatrical adaptation of my teleplay, Tell My Bones. Only because way too much has been going on in my life (which I’ll discuss in detail at some later date), that I cannot seem to: a.) find enough time to get enough writing done; and b.) concentrate when I do have enough time to get enough writing done.

Just this past week, I went through that ridiculous thing where I took some very decent writing and decided it needed to be revised, yet again, only to discover that I was completely out of my mind! Not the best frame of mind in which to undertake anything! So, now, I gotta go back and re-do the redo-ing! Arrrgh.

I decided that what I must do, if I hope to achieve anything at all with this adaptation, is channel Jean Toomer. So that’s next on my list. Channeling Jean Toomer. If you hear weird incantations and smell strange wafting aromas coming from my corner of the world, that’s what’ll be going on. I’ll be channeling Jean Toomer.

On a similar, less silly note, however; I spoke with Sandra yesterday and in no uncertain terms, she informed me that there will be a staged reading in NYC for one of our other theater projects this coming February or March, and not only must I absolutely attend this time (loyal readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recall that, even though I’d bought 2 brand new dresses, I never made it to NYC this past September to attend the opening night of Charm, in which Sandra had the lead, and to which many  important casting people and theater investors were going, because I was trapped in this “have to buy a new house” nonsense out here in the Hinterlands). And not only am I going to have to absolutely be there this time, I absolutely have to have the revisions of Tell My Bones done and ready to go and right there with me.

An additional arrrgh… and a bit of a grumble, grumble; crap, I’ve got to get this done already!

So I anticipate being completely crazy for the next few months.  But, after THAT, the TV pilot-shopping season begins in L.A., and as most of you know so well by now, my pilot (once known as Cleveland’s Burning but now called Untitled Cleveland Drama) is on the slate to be shopped and all of us involved could not be more excited! So, you know, exhausted as I am, things are looking super-duper UP.

And that said, I gotta scoot and tackle that channeling of Jean Toomer around here. I hope you have a really sublime Saturday, wherever you are and with whatever you’re tackling. I leave you fondly with this . I’m currently playing it nonstop in my swinging little Honda Fit all over the Hinterlands. So sit back, relax, dream, and keep swinging, gang!

Thanks for visiting! See ya!

 

A lovely Saturday in the Hinterlands

It feels like it’s been a long time since I posted here. Life zips by at such an astounding pace.

Here are some updates!

First, and newest: I am currently managing Sandra Caldwell‘s website.  (She is the actress in NYC whom I write with & for.) There is not much posted there yet, but please visit and follow her, so that we can all stay updated on her (and eventually my!!) theater projects. Yay!

I will not be going to New York City this weekend. I had to postpone my trip until early October because everything is just kinda crazy right now.  And since The Great Comet closed (see my agonized post below somewhere, titled Requiem for a Comet) and we no longer had tickets to see that,  I decided to wait until Wayne (my ex-husband) is back from Morocco and Alaska, so that we can see Sandra’s play together instead.

Things seem to be moving along with my request for a mortgage!!  You know how you can get all sorts of alerts from various credit cards, banks, and credit reporting agencies to be notified if anyone accesses your FICO score? Well, a couple days ago, alerts came in like crazy, all at the very same time, notifying me that a mortgage broker had checked my FICO score… So I’m excited that it is moving forward, but it took forever to get all that paperwork together, filled out, and turned in. Hence my need to re-schedule my trip to see Sandra in NYC.

Other good news: the head of production at the production company in LA informed me that we are done with revisions and edits to my pilot for the Untitled Cleveland Drama TV proposal!! (This is the project that was originally titled Cleveland’s Burning.) So, we will be moving forward and I will keep you posted!! I almost cannot believe it.

What I super-duper quadruple cannot believe, though, is that I still have so many more revisions left to make on my theatrical adaption of Tell My Bones — my Helen LaFrance project for Sandra — that needed to be completed this week. The home-loan paperwork stuff really did take over my life for a while there. But now I can give the project my full attention. Again. [She said hopefully. — Editor]

Other good news, or promising news, I should say. The same production company in LA who is developing my Cleveland Drama, is interested in seeing a proposal for a limited streaming series based on my novel, Freak Parade.

So, as soon as the Helen LaFrance revisions are completed, I will begin wrapping my brain around that. How exciting.

All right. I’m gonna go collapse for awhile. Thanks for visiting, gang! Have a really great end-of-summer weekend, wherever you are! I leave you with this!!  This CD is currently playing nonstop in my car (well, not “currently” per se — only when I’m actually in the car and driving.) It’s a classic from 1965, and it gets more lovely as the years race by. Okay, gang! Enjoy! See ya.