Tag Archives: playwright

I’m Sorry For A lot of Things, Only One of Which I will Mention Here

Hi gang!

First, let me quickly draw your attention to the cover of the vintage men’s magazine above. Specifically the special book bonus: “NIGHT OF THE NUDE NYMPH”

You’ll note, if you have great eyesight, that underneath that, is says: “Compelling tale of a twisted desire…raw emotions.” –The Record

This means that upon its publication, Night of the Nude Nymph was actually reviewed (!!??!!) [Wow, that ain’t never gonna happen anymoreEd.]

I love how America used to take literary pursuits, of pretty much any stripe, seriously. Of course, this was decades ago, a couple of which I was actually alive in. And then the decades of “images” came along and soundbites, and keeping everything as entertaining as possible in order to promote deep consumerism, etc., etc. And then everything became highly personal (yes, even the nightly news!!), so that if a book gets reviewed nowadays, it’s likely just some person “opinioning” it.

Yes, I love America. I really really do. But in order to maintain this deep love I have for America, I have to move deeper and deeper into the Hinterlands so that I can hear myself think; to be cut off from the bombardment of unwanted extreme opinions, images, proclamations, and questionable definitions of “entertainment.” I also got rid of the television a long time ago.  And while it has nothing to do with my television, I have since learned to fear the extreme liberals in this country as much as I’ve feared the extreme conservatives here all my life.

Meaning that my greatest fear is of intolerance; a thing that an extremist of any variety can master with alarming speed.  A thing that will also quickly “erode our liberty without eternal vigilance” on our parts (attributed to Thomas Jefferson although he doesn’t seem to have actually written that anywhere) . (And yes, that means eternal vigilance for the liberty of the people you don’t like; such is the weighty burden of being an American. “I will defend to the death your right to do that thing I don’t like.” You don’t hear that kind of thing too much in America anymore.)

One of the main reasons I love living here in the Hinterlands is that everyone leaves everyone else alone.  And its not overrun with rules and regulations or high taxes. And no new construction is underway anywhere, at all. In fact, all the old construction remains until it literally falls down and blows away — and this sometimes takes hundreds of years.

At dawn this morning, I stood at one of my bedroom windows (in my 118-year-old house that sat vacant for a few years until I bought it last March), drinking my cup of coffee, and noticing how the guy a few houses down First Street from me, always parks his old Mustang GT horizontally across his driveway.  I love that he does that. I’m not sure why he does that but I’m thinking it has something to do with space; not outer space (although that’s another thing Americans are really eager to incorporate into the things they get to own), but the actual space in his driveway.  He can better utilize the space of the driveway he owns by parking horizontally on it.

I used to live in a town where they would never have tolerated that. If you would have dared to park your car funny, you would have been the victim of relentless neighborly scorn. And it would have escalated if you refused to buckle.

All righty!

Time for one of those things I’m sorry for!

I’m sorry I forgot to wish everyone a happy St. Paddy’s Day!

Even though I was not still officially sick, I was still under the weather enough to not want to get out of bed and deal with the computer until today. So a belated happy St. Paddy’s Day to everyone!

Long time readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recall that St. Paddy’s Day is also when I celebrate all the birthdays of my many cats . I bought them a new batch of catnip-infused felt mice, which they delighted in for about 5 minutes, and then went right back to playing with their ratty, beat-up, chewed-up, old toys.  So now I have a big bunch of brand new catnip-infused felt mice scattered all over my family room floor, being hopelessly ignored by everyone.

But that’s okay because it’s finally SPRING!! Yay!! And there are also birds everywhere outside all our many windows, keeping our attention occupied and keeping us eager for that warmer weather, wherein we will be able to open all 21 of those said windows and keep them open until October.  (It’s so cute, gang. The cats are practically glued to the windows now that all the birds have returned.)

And on that lovely note, I wish you a wonderful Equinox!! Make some heartfelt wishes today, okay? Because I think that they’re all gonna come true!! Seriously.  And now I’m gonna go make some lunch, then get back to re-writes on the new play.

I leave you with another old song I only recently found out about through that Australian guy’s blog (A1000Mistakes), and I absolutely love it!!! The Beasts of Bourbon singing Drunk On A Train!! It cracks me up! The lyrics are fantastic. Okay!

Enjoy, gang. And thanks for visiting! I love you! See ya!!

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.

Oh Jesus Here it Comes Again

I am, of course, referring to the dawn of a brand new day.

I feel like absolute garbage.  Respiratory gunk and a swollen throat — both stemming from that weird pas de deux that I did with my vacuum cleaner the other day. (See some sort of post below.)

I wish I could just go swim in the sea somewhere.  I have no idea if it’s true, but I always think that submerging oneself in saltwater – the ocean – will wash away everything that’s making it so you can’t breathe.

And of course it snowed again here during the night, so the thought of going swimming in the sea someplace where it’s hot oddly makes all this congestion garbage in my lungs today feel a lot worse.

I’m also wishing I could go down to some river somewhere and get a full-submersion baptism and have that dove of peace fly out of the top of my head, taking with it all the things that fuck me up in this world.

I’ve having so many distressing issues going on in my head at once these days that I just can’t deal with them. (I’m guessing that’s another reason why I can’t breathe right now.)

I had so many frustrating and just plain bad dreams last night, too. By anyone’s definition, my sleep was not restful. I know that I’m trying to come to an understanding about several different things that, frankly, are just plain impossible for me to figure out.

You know, like when you simply haven’t been dealt enough cards. It’s not that the cards I’ve been dealt are bad, necessarily, it’s that I feel I just don’t have enough cards in my hand to figure out how I’m supposed to play this hand — to live a better life right now.

In some ways — the plays, for instance — life is really going good. In other ways, things suck and I’m not sure how to make them not suck.  I know that forgiveness is key, but sometimes I get so darn tired of forgiving people. (ME: Why don’t you just do the right fucking thing for Christ’s sake?!)

I know; I’m a minister. That’s not a good sign. One of the reasons Jesus refuses to give me my own flock to lead around, I’m guessing!

I know that giving myself a break is also key, but I’ve never been very good at doing that. I’m always the first on my list to be merciless with, regardless of what the topic is.

So here we are, with another brand new day to try to get it right this time, and I’m just so fucking angry, disillusioned, frustrated — you name it; it’s not got a good feel to it but I’m feeling it anyway.

And my daddy cat is sick, too, the only cat in the colony that actually interacts with me, so I sure don’t want to lose him. Well, I don’t want to lose any of them. But I’m trying to get him to take his medicine so that he will start feeling better (ME: Do as I say, cat, and not as I do, because I’m feeling like garbage here, too.)

One happy thing. A record I ordered probably 6 months ago is finally supposed to arrive today. I have every single song on this 2- album set, yes I do! Most of the songs, I have on several different albums. But they have included one – yes one – song that was never released before, so naturally I had to buy the whole thing. They dropped the new song on YouTube the other day, but I refused to listen to it. If it’s the only song on the collection that I haven’t heard yet, I want to put it off as long as possible.

Image result for tom petty best of everything

(Another thing I’m really getting sick and tired of is Tom Petty being dead. Enough of that already, okay? Get up, dude! It’s not funny anymore.)

Jesus.

Brain dead but still walking around!

Yes, that would describe moi yesterday.

No, not the gutter girl part — the brain dead part! Thank you very much.

I spent several days writing up some promo materials that Sandra needed for the Helen LaFrance play (Tell My Bones). And as is par for the course, Sandra’s brief text said she needed  something simple, but then it turned out that she needed a whole lot more than something simple, and a couple hours of work turned into several days of work just to create a 3-page promo.

But it’s done now and off, and now I’m back to scaling the play down to a 30-minute staged reading version. Not an easy thing to do.

I’m trying to sort of internalize the director’s notes, and trying to get a feel for his “vision” for the reading. And in the process of trying to do that – a process of psychic phenomena — I realized that I had become brain dead.

I decided that what I needed was some really strong coffee. That brings most brains quickly back from the dead, but all that it made me do was suddenly vacuum the whole house.

I have one of those bag-less vacuum cleaners, where you remove the center thingy and then click open the bottom and empty the contents directly into the trash.

Yesterday, it worked in a different way. I removed the center thingy and the bottom clicked open  on its own and deposited a whole house full of dust and dirt and cat hair and who-knows-what-all filth into a nice billowing pile in the center of my family room carpeting.

When you’re wired on really strong coffee, it’s hard not to lose your mind. Luckily, I was already brain dead, so I looked at it and said, “You’re kidding me, right?” I had to vacuum up the whole darn thing again. I was covered in dust, and I’m allergic to dust. So then I had to drop everything, throw my clothes in the wash and take a shower. By the time I was sitting in front of the play again, I was even more brain dead than before and really only capable of staring.

I’m hoping that today will be more fruitful. I’m steering clear of strong coffee, for one thing. Just let the house vacuum itself from now on.

Life is just weird, isn’t it? The brain works when it wants to work. And stares the rest of the time.

Okay, on that lofty note! I’m going back to bed!! Oops! I meant: I’m gonna get crackin’ around here. See ya, gang! I love you and thanks for visiting.

What’s wrong with this picture?

One of my friend’s signed up at oDesk and eLance recently because she needed to drum up more work. Now, I am the kind of writer who always needs to drum up more money; I never need to drum up more work!

But sometimes (okay — frequently) I forget this!

Yesterday, after I came home from a freelance editing job, and while I was organizing the homework assignments I had to write for this week, and after I had talked to the actress in NYC again about nailing down the flight I needed to take to get to NYC and begin working on the original off-Broadway musical, and while staring at the piles of notes I had for my screenplay re-writes with Kevin in Brooklyn, and from the producer in L.A. for the TV series we’re trying to develop, and while thinking about the new book I wanted to write (a fun murder mystery that I think will be a blast! I already have a producer interested in a holiday screen adaptation for women’s television), I thought to myself: You know, I ought to sign up at oDesk and eLance, too, and try to make some more money…

So sign up, I did!That’s right!

But then, as my head hit the pillow last night, I thought to myself: How bizarre! What the heck is the matter with you? When do you think you’re actually going to be able to do anyone else’s writing and still have time for your own???

So I un-signed up this morning.

Why is it that it is so hard for writers to consistently earn enough money to live on and still write creatively (as opposed to hired-and-sometimes-hack work that other people can’t or won’t do)? It has plagued me throughout my entire career, and I’ve been a professional writer now for 25 years. Sometimes the money is great. Sometimes it stays consistently good for a good chunk of time. Then it disappears entirely and you resort to prayer. Then, happily, it picks up again. Sometimes, it even snowballs into more money than you’ve ever seen, but I haven’t experienced that. Yet. (You’ll notice, though, that as a recently ordained minister, I have made resorting to prayer part of my full-time job! I am really, really good at resorting to prayer. However, that said, I have also gotten really good at standing back and letting prayers be answered, left, right, and center. It had a lot to do with this stuff –click link & scroll down– and it took years to master it. And some days, I don’t master it at all.)

I honestly think that you’ve got to be happy. It is imperative. Do only what makes you happy — and you might be surprised at what types of little jobs might make you happy. I know I’ve surprised myself over the years. (4 years ago, I said yes to a 2-hour cleaning job without knowing it meant I would be working for this company and that, as a writer, it would open all kinds of doors for me and turn my life around.) Make yourself happy and then the other stuff that comes to you makes you, surprisingly, even happier. But sometimes you have to really wait.  And that “waiting” part is when a whole lot of people just give up, turn around and go home. (i.e., “do stuff they hate.”)

I don’t think that writers are going to get paid what they’re worth in this lifetime. A small few will — but it’s fewer and fewer all the time. However, you can at least make enough to live a fulfilled and happy life.   And, really, I believe that’s what we’re here for. When we’re fulfilled and happy, we do astounding things that can’t help but have a beneficial trickle-down effect for everybody.

On that happy note, I gotta scoot!! Have a terrific Wednesday, wherever you are and whatever happy thing you’re doing!! Thanks for visiting, gang. See ya.

[One of my all-time favorite films. Who knew it would be part of my destiny, kind of??]