Monday, September 28, 2009

New Yorkers party to fight HIV

Aside from enjoying the fact that this was a gathering of very pretty people, I was amazed at the way fashion seems to have moved into a new creative and pandrogynous permissiveness in which you combine all sorts of diverse elements to create an arresting and intriguing persona of often indeterminate sex and sexuality. Hot.

Friday, September 25, 2009

National Equality March Song Finalists?

What? Where did this come from?

I am not the only one surprised at the unveiling of four finalists in a contest that seems to have been unpublicized.

Anyway, you can go here and have a listen to them. I am not going to review them because it would be too easy to...Let me just say that...Given that an anthem should be...Oh hell, I can't find anything nice to say about this unfortunate moment.

(PS: In 1978, a priest friend and I were finalists in a national songwriting contest for a handily forgotten entry called "Cheatin' On Myself". We were awarded $25 and, as the letter said, "The respect of the music industry".)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Subway Gibberish (September 19, 2009 Part VII)

Going downtown on the D train.
The driver announces crucial changes in the route.
When we got home and replayed this a few times, we figured out that when he says "Twenty-thirty Street", he means 23rd Street. Other than that, we have been able to decipher almost nothing.
Who hired this guy?
I can't imagine what the poor tourists with limited English were thinking?

Today on Bilerico: "Queers Who Surrender Their Lives to Needful Parents""

You will have to go to Bilerico this morning after 10:30 to read my response to the following:

Dear Father Tony,

I find myself on the cusp of a personal reinvention. Or, a mid-life crisis, if you prefer. I believe both are apropos descriptions.

When I graduated from college in 1985, I reinvented myself by moving to the opposite coast. I became an up-and-comer at a high-tech company that served me well. I experienced my first relationship and later came out of the closet into an open and diverse community that offered the ability to become any type of queer one wanted to be.

Twenty years later in 2005, I left a relationship and returned home to the house I grew up in. This time my reinvention was born of personal and familial necessity. I became the full-time primary caregiver to my mother who was increasingly affected by the ravages of Alzheimer's disease.

This summer, four years after I arrived, my mother was moved into an assisted care facility to provide her with the proper amount of constant attention and medical help that I was unable to deliver. My reason for being has disappeared, and I find myself a middle-aged single gay man whose life stands before him as a blank canvas.

What of a relationship? I spent several years in my previous relationship with his AIDS-related maladies at the top of my mind. The following four years have been spent with an Alzheimer's diagnosis as my focus. After so many draining years, do I really want to be with someone else? How will I ever find someone here in this small town where the gay community is practically invisible except for gay pride day?

Trying to find a date has been nearly impossible. It was a friend that gave me a bit of eye-opening counsel when I was bemoaning my plight. Asked where I was trying to meet people, I replied, "In the chat rooms." He raised his brows. "That's your problem,' he declared. "You're too old for You need to get a profile up on" And that's when it hit me. I had been unceremoniously moved from one gay demographic to another and no one, until now, had bothered to notify me!

Reality has slapped me in the face and the need for another personal reinvention has become clear. So here I am. Directionless. I feel like a boat sans rudder; a swimmer treading water. Where do I go from here? I wish I knew. Sure, that would spoil the fun of the journey, but it would also assuage the fears of the unknown that lurk around every corner.


Update: It's up. Get on it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bronx Skateboarders (September 19, 2009 Part VI)

I had forgotten what it's like to be a resilient and trash-talking boy. I tried to remember. Was I ever one of these? Stopping to record this during our bike tour of the Grand Concourse made me realize that I am living on another planet. I wonder if any of these kids will ever get there. If not, what will become of them? Will they ever land it? What eventually distracts them from this, their summer?

A Gourmet Moment (September 19,2009, Part V)

And He keepeth me safe from the clutches of mine enemies at the FDA.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Johnny Bizarre Coney Island Freak Show (September 19, 2009, Part IV)

While walking from the Scooter Laforge show to the opening of Roam, we encountered the shy and endearing Johnny Bizarre and his demure assistant, The Poison Puss.

The murky quality of this video is probably for the best.

Sol Lewitt underground (September 19, 2009, Part III)

To go downtown, we got down into the subway at the 59th Street station and were delighted to see that the new Sol Lewitt mural has been unveiled. (We sold our Sol Lewitt last year and have always felt a bit of kinship to his work. If he were alive, I wonder how he'd feel about the carved out sections for access and infrastructure. It's an energetic and happy piece and we are glad it is there. I believe that the pairs of yellow safety treads are an unintentional harmonic.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Coco Avant Chanel

My review, with private interviews with director Anne Fontaine and hot male co-star, Alessandro Nivola. Coco Before Chanel opens Sept. 25th.

Roam (September 19, 2009, Part II, in which we attend the opening night of a new straight(!) club)

When we approached the velvet rope, we were greeted with deference and were ushered through the door in advance of the line that stretched down 19th St. Why? Because it was clear that anyone of my obvious age would be reviewing the event rather than attending it.

When I told the Baad Lamb that after the Scooter Laforge show we would be attending the opening night of Roam a new hot spot on East 19th between Broadway and Fifth, he wondered about my state of mind. "Come on" I said. "It'll be fun. We haven't been to a straight bar in years. Let's see what it's like."

I am pleased to report that Roam is your classic New York watering hole for the young, very pretty and well-groomed boys and girls eager to compare their beautiful hair.

Not that anyone was rude to me. On the contrary, the staff was exceedingly accommodating and brought me up to the DJ booth in order to better photograph the room. That is where I met the prestigious DJ Claudius Raphael who roared with amusement when I told him that although his music was terrific, I am always displeased whenever I am in a nightspot that does not include Morning Train by Sheena Easton in its play list.

It's good to know that Roam is there because our visiting nieces and nephews who are now young and pretty adults deserve to be taken to a place like this rather than subjected exclusively to that elephants' burial ground of leather daddies known as The Eagle. In any case, we had the good sense to say good night just as the doors began to open up to the first few fresh-faced hopefuls. Ah youth.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Scooter Laforge and his innocently homoerotic t shirts.(September 19th, Part I)

This is not the first time I've seen erotic art by Scooter Laforge. I knew what to expect, but I attended his t shirt/sculpture/painting installation at Envoy Enterprises on Chrystie Street hoping to figure out why I liked his stuff which, on the face of it, could be easily dismissed as not-serious.

I think I've figured out why I like it. Obviously, if one wants to see depictions of the penis, there are millions of far more realistic and glorified editions available at the click of the mouse, so that can't be it. Also, it isn't the street-naif/Basquiat quality that he works. I'm not really a fan of that dialect. It's something else. And our attendance gave me the opportunity to figure it out.

His unabashed homoeroticism is playful and entirely forthright. He seems to be uninflicted with any guilt that needs resolution or repression against which one must revolt. It's as if boldness has no home in him. He simply depicts what he wants to depict. Sex is a non-issue. It is something that we think about and seek out because we are sexual beings. That is the refreshingly short extent of his agenda.

The Baad Lamb, who paints his own t shirts, one of which he wore to this opening, snagged one of Scooter's.

Oh by the way, if you're at work in one of those places where folks run to supervisors complaining about being subjected to offensive visual images or sounds when they walk by your cubicle, this video and these photos are entirely NSFW, in a very innocent way, and, for you more high brow types, yes, I know this isn't Sargent or Homer or Caravaggio or VanGogh, or even Stuart Davis, and you will claim that I just like it because Scooter is hot in that way that I like men to be hot. Just can it and let your inner child out to play for awhile.

Scooter's words in the video explain it all.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Another New York City Moment: Regis and Kelly Pie Fight

This is why I go out for coffee rather than make it, and why I always schlep my camera. There's always something going on in my neighborhood. Today, "Live with Regis and Kelly" staged a Guinness world record breaking pie fight outside their studio. Don't be horrified at the waste of food (coconut custard pies from Stew Leonard's). They made a sizable donation to City Meals to compensate for the stunt, and 67th Street never smelled so good.

Today on Bilerico: "My Offended Reader in Maine"

You'll have to go to Bilerico after 10:30 AM EST today for my response to this:

Dear "Father" Tony:
Your fanatically anti-Catholic efforts sadden me and I will pray for you because I think you need it desperately. Have you not asked yourself why you are attacking our clergy? Isn't it self-serving? Don't bother responding, you will have to answer to God our Father, not to us.

Yours in Jesus Christ,
Maine Catholics who follow the teachings of the One True Church.

Update: It's up. Get on it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mary Travers' Bitter End.

I am amazed that the New York Times seems to have gotten caught off guard with nothing prepared. It was widely known that she has been battling cancer for years.

In her older and zaftig years, she became a Connecticut fag hag with cache, but she was not really a nice person. The word bitch was a frequent descriptive. I look forward to the officially trotted out obit to see how any of that is handled.

Meanwhile, I have to say, she and Peter and Paul were my earliest music teachers. The first album I owned in this life was Peter Paul and Mary Live at the Bitter End. When they were not tutoring me, I was studying melody and harmony a la Joan Baez and John Phillips and Cole Porter, all infused with Gregorian chant. Not a bad school.

Update: Full obit.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bea Arthur Remembered

Today, Joe and I attended the star-studded memorial service for Bea Arthur at the Majestic Theater on 44th Street. Angela Lansbury hosted, and participants included Adrienne Barbeau, Zoe Caldwell, Norman Lear, Rue McClanahan, Ann Meara and Jerry Stiller, Rosie O'Donnell and Chita Rivera. Two hours of ribald recollections, funny stories and videos. The incredible Angela Lansbury, an octogenarian who moves with the coltish fluidity of a sixteen year old, opened the celebration by wonderfully belting out the song from Mame that was Bea Arthur's big solo, The Man in the Moon is a Lady.

I also had a chat with Michael Buckley from "What the Buck", caught up with Michael Wilson of the Hartford Stage Company, traded beauty secrets with Coco Peru and met a very handsome young man named Eric Garcia who plays piano and sings several nights a week at Chez Josephine on 42nd Street, the location of the after-party where I got the picture of Anne Meara seated across the table from Norman Lear.

The good news announced at the celebration by Executive Director Carl Siciliano is that the Ali Forney Center is naming its first housing facility the "Bea Arthur Residence"

Here are some stellar pics.

(Update: I've added some of Joe's pics to the batch, and here is his report.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Revson Fountain Waterworks at Lincoln Center

Whenever you tinker with something whose primary purpose in this world is to delight, you are bound to irritate some folks. (Check out the links and read the various comments at Curbed.)

Now that the scaffolding is beginning to be removed, like the bandages wielded by the husband of Muffy Potter Aston, we see what has been built for us as a replacement for the fountain designed by Philip Johnson for the center of the plaza in Lincoln Center.

I am so very satisfied with this photo that I am posting this now, but I've more to say about Diller Scofidio Renfrew, the architects of the renovation of Lincoln Center, and WET the people behind the fountain.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Grim Truth

Our American churches may condemn us, but they don't murder us outright.

Let's not, however, take much pride in this one higher rung on the ladder of civilized behavior. If the extreme homophobes in our churches thought they could get away with murdering us, as do the Islamic extremists who, according to the report, in the course of just this year, have murdered at least 130 gay men in Iraq, they would do the exact same thing. Here, we have police protection and legal recourse against homophobic religious extremists. Without it, we would probably have been tortured and murdered as were these men. It's a chilling thought.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mapping the Seven Deadly Sins

Our charming Darrin of the West Coast called my attention to this rightly suspecting I'd like it.

Of note are the regions most beset with Lust. Seems to me like with all them Bible Belt harlots runnin round, they oughter start sprayin thet bacon at the Piggly-Wiggly with some penicillin.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Castor Semenya

No ovaries.
No uterus.
Two working balls (undescended).
Sounds like a guy to me.
Why are all these reporters being demure about the question we all want to ask the doctor who did the exam? Does she have a dick? Not that it should color our opinion about whether she should compete as a man or a woman, but it is the obvious last remaining question.

In any case, I can't imagine how painful it must be to have the whole world examining your private parts - internal as well as external. If ever there was someone who deserves some privacy it is this person. That gold medal will probably always conjure only bad memories. She'd probably be the first to turn it in for a chance at a normal life.

These stats are amazing. I guess "intersex" is not all that uncommon.

a very nice video

I like this. It's crisp and curt. Nate had it on Buffawhat?

Neurosonics Audiomedical Labs Inc. from Chris Cairns on Vimeo.

The Terrifically Playful Pandrogynous Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

You know you’re at the vernissage of a good English artist when you approach the open bar expecting the usual sawdust wine and instead are offered gin with the instruction “Say when”! I am glad to report that I had the good fortune to view his/her show and finally met Genesis Breyer P-Orridge at “30 Years of Being Cut Up” at the Invisible Exports Gallery on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

It has been a few years since I saw him/her perform with Psychic TV at the Bowery Ballroom. S/he sent me a sly note when my review came to his/her attention. S/he remembered sending that note and dated that performance in terms of the death of his/her beloved Lady Jaye whose image on his/her forearm was revealed upon my following his/her instruction to “Push my sleeve up.”

Those of you who read me regularly know that I am dismissive of approximately 95% of the contents of any given category in this world. Genesis resides in the 5% that I respect. Before attending this event, I had enjoyed only his/her music, but now I am also entirely happy to report that the collaged visual images that comprise this show are intelligent and fascinating.

Those of you who read me regularly also know that I have little patience with trans folk who bristle at the limping of the English language in describing gender assignment, especially those who take up arms whenever they feel that innocently imperfect references disclose a malicious prejudice. Genesis famously plays with gendered words, and has done so for years, and is light years beyond those who harrumph about the indignities of inadequate grammar. On the subject of transgender issues, I’d also call your attention to his/her actions when faced with the prospect of performing at an Arizona venue that badly handled the business of bathrooms. Genesis is so much deeper than some whiney trans folk who seem to be playing in imaginary dollhouses with solipsistic house rules.

At one point in the evening, I whispered to Genesis that the crowd seemed unusually somber. I wondered why. Genesis bristled slightly and began to say that some things are beyond his/her control, but I supplied the answer to my own question. The mostly young crowd who filled the gallery was extremely reverential regarding their Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. Eavesdropping while threading through the crowd, I heard many accounts of love for his/her music. I don’t think s/her realizes the extent of his/her following despite the passage of many years of COUM, Throbbing Gristle, TOPI and Psychic TV and all the other fantastic iterations of the mind of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. I don’t think Genesis realizes the durability of what s/he has built. This may be evidenced by the fact that Psychic TV will be touring exclusively overseas on their next outing. I think their American audience is underestimated.

And now for my focused review: Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is terrifically playful and is not afraid of using his/her own body as an expression of the playful exploration of identity. Cutting up everything in one’s life and rearranging the pieces can, with luck and intuition, tell you the truth with which you were born. Genesis tells us not to fear the cutting up. Genesis employs no artifice and hides behind no pretense or stylization. Like all prophets, Genesis tells us things that we appreciate but will never fully follow as we return home to the security of our own wigless, unaltered, unpainted, intact and pedestrian bodies.

S/he told me that this was his/her favorite among the images on display. S/he pointed out the tampon string and proclaimed it beautiful.

S/he asked me what I made of an adjacent picture. I told him/her it looked like the photos I received at my last colonoscopy. S/he said that s/he had had a colonoscopy recently and did I know what it disclosed? That s/he was full of shit. Obviously, Genesis had not swallowed the required Fleet products in advance of that scrutiny.

Ultimately, I think Genesis would find me lacking in audaciousness. I who admire him/her and can appreciate his/her voyages into unexplored regions and can only wonder about the strength of one who survives the loss of the beloved, might fail in his/her sight, but that is beyond my control and I am happy to know that somewhere is a creature who is fearless with a silly Psychic TV lyric that we sang together in the course of our encounter.

You’re very nice.
I like you.
You’re very nice.
Your eyes are ice.
I think that I’m in paradise.

Let me stop here. Do your homework, lads. Get to know him/her. I’d have worn the t shirt but it’s in Florida.

PS: I have interviewed and photographed several trans people and I have begun to understand something about them . They seem to fear the lens. Where most people see bravado, I see fright. Their agreement to being photographed feels like an act of surrender. In a single instant, when they look from the lens to me, they are saying “I’m going to trust you. I do not know if you are worthy of that trust or if you will abuse it, but I am giving you the gift of trust.” In their photographed face, they convey a complete summary of their inner journey. Their faces seem to say “Look, I’ve taken my own very private road to where I am today. I’ve had to put up with criticism and disapproval and hatred and discrimination along the way. Now I place my creation in your hands. I am proud of what I have become. I trust you with all that I have become. Please be kind.”

Genesis, you needn’t worry about my camera. It loves you as do I from the safety of my own less cut up collage.

Here you will find a compete set of photos (NSFW) from the show which may be visited through October 18th.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The End of Summer on Fire Island

Yesterday, we accompanied Joe and Jerry to a place we've never seen. Here are some pictures of our trip. There were deer, drag queens, bars, rustic ways, wooden houses, celebrities, bloggers, friends and hordes of extremely young men drinking drinks.

Apparently, we attended a "White Diamonds" themed party at a private home with an open floor plan and a gracious host. It has been erroneously reported that I was accused of cutting in the bathroom line. Actually, Jerry was the accusee. I brokered the peaceful settlement that braided the two lines, but not before the principal protester screamed "I know it doesn't show because of the botox but I'm really very angry about this." As he gladly repeated the effortlessly angry expression for the benefit of the camera, his companion whispered to me "You so have to Facebook this. His name is Scott Penney." It was a pleasure to meet you, Scott.

Unprocessed and joyful

When the Baad Lamb looked over at my screen to watch this, he said "That is the way voices used to sound when they were not overprocessed". This is true. The electronic studio processing of a singer's voice today creates a product that is like Velveeta or a kind of audio anime.

You'll enjoy this. Martha and the Vandellas looking and sounding so happy, even when Ms. Reeves claims to have "tears all over my face".

PS: I saw this on Dray's blog. He is one of those guys who has a rarified sense of what to feature. You'll find him soon on Bilerico-NYC if the site owners ever manage to get it together for us. I am impatient.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Move in a Little Closer Baby

Several months ago, I suggested we watch the Three Degrees perform MacArthur Park because it is truly wonderful, and now I suggest we watch four of the fluffiest bimbettes of the King family perform a relentlessly cheery song that even Mama Cass couldn't save in her hit cover of it. In 1969 so many different things were co-percolating in music. British invasion, Motown, folk, rock, etc. (Think of the diversity of Woodstock!) All of which was totally ignored by the King Family as they pranced and made pretty with pillows. I could not suffer this all the way to the end. Can you?

PS: I saw this on Postcards From Hell's Kitchen, a durably good blog that I don't visit often enough and whose custodian I think I may have met in the blur of the last five years.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

My Stint as an extra in "Bear City"

I had a great time as an extra in a movie called Bear City. Filmed at the legendary New York leather bar The Eagle, this movie is described by its makers as a bear version of Sex and the City.

When the casting director asked me to bring a few different outfits, she specified that I should avoid red, white or black because those colors do not read well under the lights. She said that earth tones would be preferable. Earth tones? No black? This girl has obviously never been to The Eagle, I thought, but I managed to throw together an appropriate combination of grey, navy and olive. At one point in the filming, the director yelled for a pause and fetched a dark leather baseball cap to hide my radiantly silver hair that was casting some blinding light of its own.

During my three day stint, I was interviewed by some documentarians about the definition of bear. That is actually a tricky question to answer, but basically, a bear is a hairy masculine gay guy who is most often stocky. There are variations labeled cub, otter, panda, polar, etc.

I am still thinking through the matter of obesity as it relates to the bear culture. More on that soon.

The fabulous Michael Musto, and the rather well preserved Randy Jones of The Village People, both had cameos. I chatted with Mr. Musto who was not at all pleased at having to wait quite some time for his brief "nipple clamp" scene/cameo on the dance floor.

The weirdest part of this experience involved dancing with no music. We'd be given a couple of bars, and then it would cut to silence so that the dialogue would record correctly. Oddly liberating.

The best part of the experience was the camaraderie that develops among the extras during the long hours of waiting for the next scene in which we might be needed. And there was the exceptionally fine catering....

You can just about see my leather cap in the photo on page four of this Advocate piece about the filming of Bear City.

I learned a new phrase. When the director shouts "And back to one", everyone moves back to the exact positions they had at the beginning of the take. We all agreed that this would be a fine phrase utilized during sex.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Liz Taylor

This is the photo I've been waiting for. The famous brows look a little crooked and too wide (Did a nurse apply them?), but it's good to see that she can wrinkle an unbotoxed forehead. Under all the make-up and jumpy black hair is beauty that would shine if scrubbed.

Love Trade Mark?

In April, On Bilerico, I wrote about circumcision. Because the subject is back in the news as it relates to the transmission of HIV, I thought I'd forward a reaction that came in last night from a reader named Han.

I made my circumcision for the converting purpose of my muslim girlfriend's wishes. Her family arranged to my khatnah on their ritual way and it did not allow any skin to cover my glan. The circumciser pull my foreskin as much as he can to top and all extra skin over glan is removed by his sward then he made only sulture over edge. At this process he did not use any medicine. After healing, I and my gf like my all time exposed circ style. As for me, its not only hygiene but also my circ scar is love trade mark for my gf.

Dear Han,

Given your investment in her, I sure hope your gf doesn't one day cut off the relationship!

Your concerned Father T

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Au Revoir, Café des Artistes

Well I'm not surprised. The Howard Chandler Christy murals are lush and playful (a detail provided below), but when a restaurant's food is as arthritic as its clientele, it closes.

The Baad Lamb and I, in our endless search for respectable brunch, decided to stay in the neighb one weekend and found we needed reservations to get into the C des A. For some inexplicable reason, I wore a thick silk pajama top, striped in brown, yellow, black and rust with huge clownlike flat pearl buttons. Maybe I just didn't want to look as funereal as the other blue hairs in the room. The place was stifling. We never went back. With a little clearing, it would make a great gay restaurant for those special occasions.

Delightful is the fact that the restaurant's owner wrote a memoir entitled Nobody Knows the Truffles I've Seen. There certainly were none in the food he served us.

The Microburst

I left the gym a few weeks ago at 10:30PM, and turning onto Broadway, I started my short walk home. I felt a sudden and strangely urgent quickening in the air followed immediately by a torrential wind-driven downpour. It was as if the sky had split in half. The fact that there was no time delay between the crowded lightning and thunder let me know that I was near the center of the storm. People dining all fresco across from Lincoln Center had no time to find shelter. Pedestrians shrieked and ran into traffic. Within a half hour, the microburst, as it was labeled by the 11PM TV weatherman who told me what I had just been through, was over. It had uprooted and ripped down more than 200 trees in a very small section of Central Park. The next day, Adrian Benape, the Parks Commissioner, toured the devastation and, in an oddly poetic statement, spoke of the horrible smell of torn tree limbs. I can't imagine what it would have been like to have been in the park where the damage was concentrated during the Microburst, with no way to guess which of the venerable and massive trees would fall next.

When the Baad Lamb and I toured the damage, the wood-chipping tree service trucks were already in full mobilization. I think that grinding up those trees is a lost opportunity. Benape should have offered the largest limbs and trunks for sale to wealthy New Yorkers who would love to renovate their kitchens and be able to say to their guests "These cabinets are made from a 150 year old Central Park oak that fell during the Microburst of 2009."

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Tomorrow on Bilerico: "Two Oddly Related Letters"

You will have to go to Bilerico tomorrow after 10:30AM for my response to the following:

Dear Father Tony,
I am 22, Columbian and athletic. My English is very good, but sometimes I miss signals and make mistakes. At the gym an old guy was cruising me in the locker room. He followed me everywhere. Then he got angry and came up to me and said “Just so you know. I am not interested in you. You are not my type so you can stop all the attitude.” I didn’t know what to say and I felt bad and angry for the rest of the day. Did I do something wrong just because I did not talk to him?

Dear FT,
Got any good advice for a guy who is coming out of his closet at 52?
Delayed Debutante

47 of the World's Craziest Houses

Some of these are really quite welcoming. I especially liked the white hurricane savvy dome in Florida.

What is left of Whitney Houston?

I don’t know whom she looked to in the preparation of her new album, but I Look To You ain’t much of a looker.

I really wanted to love this album because I love Whitney Houston and knew that she would survive her troubles, but if all we are left with is this empty album, better it would have been had she never sung again.

Misplaced trust and doubtful instincts are probably to blame here. In general, the songs on this album all contain too many words per note. This gives them a desperate and nervous tone. Also, the most gorgeous voice in the world has been humbled by her tough years. It seems to be in the process of transforming itself into the voice of Etta James who also had her tough years. Unlike Etta, this Whitney is not so believable, not a female made wise and cynical by what has befallen her. This is a Whitney still in hiding. I’d have rather heard her scream and miss the notes she used to own (as she did yesterday in Central Park) rather than hear her hobbled and cautious in her choices.

The album’s “big” song, Million Dollar Bill is forgettable. It is more like a losing lottery ticket that could have been worth a million dollars but instead is worthless. Odd that Alicia Keyes who professes idolatry for Whitney would have written this for her. See what I mean about bad instincts and choices?

A Song for You could have been the star of the album but falls flat. Why? The speculating about this is exasperating. Surely she couldn’t have been pleased with her cover of this great song. Surely she knew the song’s potential for her at this point in her career.

I am however looking forward to remixes of For the Lovers, a song that reminds me very much of Donna Summer’s recent and wonderful Stamp Your Feet.

Many people will buy this album. In a Park Slope restaurant this weekend, an unauthorized release was playing as we claimed table, and when I wondered aloud if this was “the new Whitney thing”, our breathless twink waiter gushed “Oh yes.”

Whitney needs to avoid everyone involved with I Look To You and try it again, looking only inside herself, and maybe at her mother and Auntie Dionne. I’ll be waiting.

Yesterday in Central Park. The review is actually too harsh. She seemed nervous as she ran on stage. Justifiably. She dispatched the Million Dollar Mess swiftly. She could barely hit the midrange of I Look To You with her backup girls supplying the intended notes. But an undeniable high point was her My Love is Your Love which showed us that the devolution of a diva is not always a bad thing. She has the whole realm of reggae and soul under her command and that should be her future product. There were hints of Aretha in her delivery.

If this album and her Central Park performance are evidence of her strength, I must assume that she can no longer hit and sustain those notes that roost in the pinnacles of the Chrysler Building. She is no longer Every Woman (Her closing song in Central Park) but she is some really good woman and I'm glad she's back.

Marriage ads - one good, one bad

I'm going to disagree with a number of gay activists and writers who simply love this ad. I think it's too sugary and too obvious an attempt to say that gay and straight are no different. If it was an ironic send up of the sort of fluff that state tourism agencies dish up, I'd like it more.

On the other hand, this ad makes its point beautifully and strongly.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Another New York City Moment: The Reminescents

And this one will make you smile. We were walking toward Central Park to view the tree damage caused by the recent "microburst" when we came upon a 100 Year celebration of Hostelling International's building on the Upper west Side. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, the exterior is still handsome, but we were disappointed to find that the interior contains hardly a trace of its original ornamentation.

The singers, from Jersey City, call themselves The Reminescents (their spelling). I didn't get the names of the "Devil with the Blue Dress" dancers.

Obedience is its own reward.

Finally. Some satisfying animation.

The Baad Lamb has directed me to view this video. It is exceptionally wonderful.