I saw this terrific show for the first time on Monday the 27th and I was deeply moved by both the story and the performance.
I have two younger friends, both in their early 20s, who have been together for about 2 months.
About 3 weeks ago one of the was diagnosed with cancer and as might be expected it has been a very difficult time for them.
I invited them to join me last night, Wednesday, for the show because I thought the message might be of some help to them at this particular time in their relationship.
I went to the theater early to pick up the tickets and ran into both Steve and Jim as they were going into the theater. I told them how much I had enjoyed the show and then told them about my two young friends who would be joining me later.
Steve and Jim said they very much wanted to meet my friends after the show and I agreed to ask them if that would be OK - it was.The performance seemed to be even stronger and the boys were deeply moved by it.
Afterwards we waited with a rather large group of well-wishers. I introduced my friends to Steve and Jim and they couldn't have been nicer or more caring. Damn, even now as I write this I am getting tears in my eyes --
So, bottom-line, thank you Steve and Jim for making a difference in the lives of two young people.
SEE THIS SHOW, DAMMIT, SEE THIS SHOW AND THEN TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO SEE IT!!
BRIEF BLOG INTRO:
NEWS UPDATE: I have been given the Editor's Choice Award for "Excellence in Songwriting" by BroadwayWorld. I am most grateful. If you've never been here...
I'm a man on a mission. A mission to convince you that music is a Super Power, and that life is worth living, no matter how many obstacles are placed in your way. And that you can accomplish great things if you just push ahead and don't let anyone tell you no.
I'm a singer/songwriter and actor from Texas who is "Living in the Bonus Round" in New York City-- which is my way of describing how I feel having cheated death. (In a game show, the Bonus Round is where time speeds up and the prizes are better.) Accepting my death changed me. Now, I'm consuming life as quickly and as fully as I can, while still taking time to breathe and appreciate every single day as an utter miracle.
Last year, I turned 60 and I had a set of goals, all of which came true, including composing -- and performing in -- a Mass, recording a solo album (selling 10s of copies), headlining to a sold out house at a major night club in New York City and playing the lead role in a staged reading of a play not written by myself. I update a few times a month these days, and I don't spam. So it's easier to keep up with me by following by Email. When this blog began, it was to track my death. I'm told it was the first AIDS blog. You can start at the gruesome beginning if you want. Or just jump in and maybe we can learn some life lessons together. Welcome to the Bonus Round. I'm Steve [SHACK-lin] and we're just getting started.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Back in 1997, in my nascent days of gayhood, I went to a new musical production called The Last Session. It was about a singer/songwriter, diagnosed with AIDS, who decides to bring together his fellow recording industry friends for a final session in a studio, after which he plans to commit suicide. I was enthralled by the show. The score was rock-infused while still containing a musical theater heart and soul. The story was funny and sad and inspiring.
Last night, I attended a preview performance of The Big Voice: God or Merman. Little did I know, until I read the bios of the creators/performers in the Playbill, that these were the very individuals responsible for that magical show. Not only that, but the story I was so mesmerized by in The Last Session was based very closely on the lives of these two gentlemen.
I'm sure you are now asking: So, David, did lightning strike twice? Was this new show as good as The Last Session?
The answer is no. It's better...
When “THE BIG VOICE: God or Merman” opened at the Actors Temple Theatre Nov. 30, it wasn’t the only new show beginning a run there. For the third time in a decade, a new rabbi is on board hoping to revitalize the West 47th Street shul, also known as Congregation Ezrath Israel, and return it to its showbiz roots.
“Each person brings their own unique gifts to a situation,” said Rabbi Jill Hausman, 54, who was installed Nov. 10. “I am here to help people and do good work in the community. By doing things for others, the synagogue will be blessed. If I’m only here for selfish reasons, to say, ‘See how I built up the synagogue,’ it’s not going to succeed. It will only work if I build it up to do good works for others.”
The effect of her reaching out to the community could be seen at her installation, with clergy from neighborhood Christian churches, as well as from the Salvation Army, which operates a theater on the block, in attendance for the ceremony and the dinner for 80 that followed.
The first show is “THE BIG VOICE: God or Merman,” a musical about two men, one a Baptist, the other a Roman Catholic, on a spiritual search. It also deals in part with gay marriage. Rabbi Hausman said the temple, formerly Conservative but now unaffiliated, will not censor incoming shows.
“In the best of all possible worlds, it would be wonderful to have a Jewish show that’s spiritually uplifting, but since we don’t have a Jewish show that’s spiritually uplifting, we have a non-Jewish show about spiritual yearning,” Rabbi Hausman said. “We wouldn’t take a show that’s pornographic or inappropriate for the space, but we’re not presenting Walt Disney here either.”
Rabbi Hausman said the fact that the synagogue is no longer affiliated with any branch of Judaism gives her “tremendous carte blanche.”
“The synagogue has to live in the same society we live in,” she said. “It can’t live in the 1950s. Our society is pluralistic. My job is to accept everyone. God doesn’t shut anyone out. I want to emphasize the universal aspects of religion while using the particular to enrich worship and not exclude people.”
This inclusiveness appealed to the board, Kifferstein said, adding he expects Rabbi Hausman will provide strong pastoral counseling. “She’s extremely personable, and her energy is tremendous,” he said. “When you’re with her, you know she cares. She’s not just talking to someone while having other motives.”
Ezrath Israel, or helper of Israel, was founded in 1917 as the West Side Hebrew Relief Association. In its glory days as the Actors Temple it counted as members Al Jolson, Joe E. Lewis, Edward G. Robinson, Sophie Tucker, Jack Benny, Shelly Winters, Henny Youngman and Milton Berle.
Despite its celebrated history, Rabbi Hausman had never heard of the Actors’ Temple until she stumbled upon it several years ago while doing an Internet search. Now she wants to make sure when people discover this shul, it’s not by accident.
“That’s my job, to make sure it’s not a well-kept secret.”
Just before we went into the theatre for our last preview, a gentleman stopped me just outside the door. "I wanted to tell you," he said, "how much I enjoyed your play. I saw it the other night and I'm back to see it again."
I was surprised. We haven't even opened yet, officially. We've done barely a week's worth of shows and already we're getting repeat customers?
I asked him his name.
"Bill," he responded. "I came back because I have two young friends. They've only been together for about four months, but one of them was just diagnosed with cancer and I thought they should see your show, that they would relate to what's up there on the stage."
I got a little catch in my throat. It just all felt very real, suddenly. It changed my whole performance last night, keeping these guys in mind. They said they would write me emails. I hope they do.
I was voted, by Jim and John Atherlay, our stage manager, as the Equity Deputy for this production. That means I can "write" Jim up anytime I want. All I know is he better stay in line. I think they do this to all the new actors as a rite of passage. ("Let's make the new guy do it!") Apparently, I'm going to be filling out forms or something, reporting on the show if anyone steps out of line or tries to change the dialogue, music or staging. That's right. Jim better stay on his toes.
As we sat there, I was poking fun at him because he likes to peek through to curtains before the show to look at the house. But we don't really have a backstage area since the synagogue wasn't really built as a theatre. So, with me standing on one side of the theatre behind the purple swag, I'm actually in front of the black curtain. When I look across, I can see him pushing the curtain out. I kept telling him, "I'm gonna write you up!"
So, we did two shows on Tuesday. They went really well. The audience was responsive. Afterwards, I was so tired getting on the subway back to the apartment, I could barely stand.
When we got into the theatre on Wednesday for our final preview, there was a piece of paper on my table with a HUGE laundry list of "notes" from Anthony. I didn't even want to read it. I've been doing this show for 3 1/2 years. Notes?? I'd even been proud of myself for finding some new things -- making "Joey" more kid-like, being more dramatic in our fight scene, plus other little things.
Anthony's notes? Stop making Joey look retarded. Stop being so dramatic. Don't smile when you sing "How Do You Fall." On and on it went as he took out every single thing I thought I was doing so well. No way! I loved what I was doing! He changed a "cross" I made in one scene and told me to not do something else in another. Forget it! I'm gonna do the show my way.
I sat there almost fuming, reading the list over and over again. Then, when I went out on stage, I followed every single bit of direction he gave me to the letter. Took out all my "improvements." Stopped being "cute" in one scene. Stopped being "dramatic" in another. Stopped mugging in another.
And you know what really pissed me off? He was right. About everything. The audience last night was OVER THE TOP, laughing hysterically at every moment. Screaming and stopping the show at the biggest laughs. The songs got extended applause. And these were not our friends out there! We don't have that many friends in New York since we live in L.A. It was, Jim and I agreed, the best performance of the show we've ever done. So, I've decided to frame that list of directions and leave it up on my dressing room mirror.
Anthony came up to me afterwards and was so sweet. "You did it! You did everything!"
"Well, naturally," I told him. "I'm a professional actor!"
(And Jim rolls his eyes at me.) LOL
So, there ya go. Funny how it works when you put your ego in a box and just follow orders. That's why we have a director in the first place. To watch out front and make sure you don't make a fool of yourself.
After the show, I met the two guys Bill brought. I didn't pry into their lives or anything, but I did give them big hugs. My heart was breaking for them, but they had big smiles on their faces and I just hope the message in our show brought them some strength for the journey.
It was a perfect night outside, by the way. It was only a little cold. The air smelled clean -- and filled with that magnificently aromatic aroma of roasted chestnuts coming from cart vendors all along Times Square.
We crossed over and walked to Rockefeller Square to see the big, new Christmas tree in all its glory. And, yeah, it's beautiful.
I held Jimmy especially close. It felt so good to be here with him, just the two of us and a thousand other people circling the tree. There were so many lovers. New York at Christmas time really can't be matched. Everyone was smiling and laughing, taking photos of each other. Strangers were joking with other strangers. Out in front of the tree, we ran into that John guy from The Daily Show, the English reporter with the big nose, doing some kind of bit. Jim said something to him that made him laugh.
Tomorrow night is the official opening night, and the pressure is off. We can truly just relax and enjoy ourselves onstage. Afterwards, we go to Sardi's for an opening night get together. Very informal. Just friends and family. And whoever else shows up.
And then the reviews will begin to roll in. You know, this is where I take a big breath and just live in the moment. If nothing else happens, we have had this night, something very few people are privileged to experience.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Wonderful article today, "Off-Broadway and Nearer to God: It's Curtain Time At A Synagogue," in the NY Times about the Actors' Temple Theatre where we open on Thursday. (You may need to register to view the article, but it's free).
Sounds like a good show!
Impressive, those names in the sanctuary of the little synagogue on West 47th Street in Manhattan: Joe E. Lewis and Sophie Tucker on the stained-glass windows, Jack Benny on a plaque in the rear. The names tell you why, in its golden age, this synagogue became known as the Actors’ Temple. They also tell you something about when that golden age was.
Recently — say, oh, during the last half-century — this temple, with a declining membership and a vanishing budget, has not been doing so well. So starting with an official opening night tomorrow, the Actors’ Temple, for the first time in its 89-year history, will be moonlighting as an Off Broadway theater.
“Maybe we’re returning to our roots,” said Alan Kifferstein, president of the temple’s board.
The first show, “The Big Voice: God or Merman?,” is about a Roman Catholic from Brooklyn and a Baptist from Arkansas who find spiritual solace in musical theater and each other. Hey, you can’t always book a show like “A Jew Grows in Brooklyn” (and believe them, they tried).
We can stay here for a week. Then we move again to some unknown destination while a previously booked subletter moves in for a week. Then we move back again for the duration.
Last night's show was interesting. The audience began really quietly, but slowly and progressively became more and more responsive until, finally, they were on their feet. It's scary to have to coax an audience into submission, but when people are seeing you for the first time and they have no idea what to expect, they tend to study you before deciding that they feel safe enough to just give it over.
I have a few more pictures to show you, but can't get them uploaded for now. Critics start coming in today. We do a 3pm show and then an 8pm show. These days, critics attend previews, but hold off on publishing reviews until after the official opening. Don't know who's coming or anything, so we just have to go for it and hope they like what they see.
Monday, November 27, 2006
We had good response again on Sunday with several wonderful reviews on the posting boards at All That Chat from some of the regulars. So, that's really good. One mentioned how great the seating is in our theatre. And that's true. The seats are wide, spacious, padded and comfortable with lots of legroom!
Last night, as Mark Janas' artists' salon, we both sang to really amazing response. I thought they'd never stop applauding. And the singers in the room especially like the fact that I've written a score that features actual songs with beginnings, middles and endings rather than a sung-through score. It's still available as a free download at http://thebigvoice.com/score for anyone who wants to print it out and play it!
More later after we find a new place to stay today.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
They were a quieter crowd than last night being and older group, but we could tell they were with us all the say. (In fact, later that evening, as we were walking up 8th Ave. to the night performance, a group of them stopped us. "We saw your show this afternoon!! We loved it!!!"). Very sweet people.
The night show went like gangbusters. The audience was laughing and applauding from the opening line. It was terrific! We love when that happens. Standing ovation. The whole nine yards. We had a few friends, too, but mostly it was people seeing it for the first time who knew nothing about it or us.
I have a few pics of me and friends. Joe.My.God with Jim:
Here's Rachel, the Executive Director of Youth Guardian Services:
Joel Markowitz, who has a theatre review blog and podcast.
Our old TLS pal, Marc:
Steve Ross, pianist and Cole Porter interpreter extraordinaire:
Ralph Lampkin, manager, publisher and record producer:
Our handsome stage manager, John Atherlay:
Managing Artistic Director Susan Claassen of the Invisible Theatre Company in Tucson, AZ with Steve Ross:
We also managed to catch a matinee this past Friday of a campy comedy called "My Deah" -- imagine a Southern potboiler Medea -- featuring our old pal, Maxwell Caulfield. He has taken to shaving his head and he looks GOOD. He and his wife, Juliet Mills, are going to come to our opening night.
Jan Buttram of the Abingdon Theatre, where we once did a staged reading of Big Voice:
We also caught Neil, who's still in the box office at the 47th Street Theatre. He remembers TLS and said it remains one of his favorite shows to ever play there:
Lastly, we did an interview with Jerry Tallmer. He was the first NY reporter to do a story for us when we did TLS 9 years ago. We still have his article for Playbill framed on our wall:
So, you see, it's busy busy busy! Two more shows today. One on Monday. Two on Tuesday. One on Wednesday and then we open on Thursday.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
We made the front page of Playbill.com again today. Yay! And last night we had our first preview. I can proudly say that I was absolutely relaxed and comfortable from the first moment. Even Jana, our production supervisor, who knows us inside and out said she had never seen me look more comfortable and relaxed on a stage before. We're still working out some spacing issues as we get used to where the lights are. A couple of times I found myself scooching one way or the other finding the hot spot for each position.
The funniest thing, though, was that, at one point, I heard some very strange, regular noise coming from the back of the room. I thought maybe some equipment malfunction or something. But it was kind of loud and it almost threw me off. After the show, I found out it was our director, Anthony, ASLEEP AND SNORING! LOL. Poor guy has been taking a long train in and out of the City. He's staying with family and, given the fact that we were doing the show at 10:30pm, he just was exhausted. Still, I'm never going to let him forget it. Our own director snoring through our show!
The audience, however, didn't. They were really responsive. Gave us an immediate standing ovation. And, honestly, standing ovations are not rare these days, so it's possible they were just being kind, but afterwards, we got lots of hugs and the buzz was wonderful. So, we'll see.
I also want to extend my appreciation to "Joe.My.God." Joe has one of the most popular blogs on the Internet and he has been helping us promote Big Voice. We invited his readers to the dress rehearsal last night and we met a couple he had with him. Two guys: One a former Catholic priest who's an Ethel Queen and the other? His Baptist boyfriend! They were GREAT GUYS. Warm and sweet. They said they felt like we were singing their story. So, thanks, Joe, for the plug.
As I might have said before, this production is being financed mostly by friends. The producers are friends. It's a tiny production with not a lot of money, so we're counting on word of mouth, mostly, for publicity. They told us a lot of the "big" producers didn't want to invest in a show featuring actors no one ever heard of and a subject no one could describe in five words or less. It's a special "sell," they told us, and were only interested if we could get big names in the leads.
But our producers, Paul and Murphy and Ed, really wanted the show to be exactly what it is: Jim and Steve telling their story. It's why we found the Actors' Temple, why we're doing it the way we're doing it. This is the show they wanted to produce. So, it's kind of a homemade production. Except, of course, for these brilliant designers who have invested their amazing talents to make it look like a million bucks. Everyone is pitching in and making it almost a "do it yourself" production. For Jim and me, to have people so dedicated to making our show come to life, I hope they know how much it means to us. I don't have the words to express how my heart is filled with love for them.
Trouble! Already, I've stirred up trouble trying to help promote the show. Over on the All That Chat message board, I posted a notice offering a free download of the entire score. Some guy responded sarcastically to it. I then posted again explaining how I had been one of the originals on All That Chat, and after singing "How Do You Fall Back In Love?" at Mark Janas' salon last week, several of the singers had asked for the sheet music, so I thought it might a good promotional device to offer it to everyone. He just said, "Spare me!" and responded again with a very nasty message -- totally ripping me to shreds.
So, it's an ugly world out there! But when you put yourself out there, you can expect to get blasted. It's cool, though. Everyone has a right to their opinion.
Today, we do a matinee and an evening performance. Then two more shows on Sunday. That night, we will head back down to the Village and both of us will sing for Mark's salon. It's a great evening. Every Sunday night at the Rouge Wine Bar downstairs at 99 Bank St. If you're in NY, join us!
UPDATE: I just saw another wonderful entry from a blogger named farmboyz. He wrote a beautiful review of the show.
Friday, November 24, 2006
In this one we back up a few days and see part of the set being built and lights being focused. We also meet the plant manager and one of the Board members of the Actors' Temple talking about the history of the synagogue.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
It has happened again. And we got a really nice surprise. The word was out that Playbill was going to change the name of the programs for off-Broadway to "ON STAGE." In fact, our "proof" said just that on the cover. So, I was thrilled when the big box arrived at the theatre and Jim showed me what was there:
Here's David Gotwald, sound designer:
Clifton Taylor, light and sound designer:
This being Thanksgiving, we are especially thankful for this wonderful production. It's hard, though, because as it gets more and more real, I get more and more hopeful. See, going into this, I tried to keep my expectations low. I thought, "Okay, we'll open. The critics might or might not like us. The ticket-buying public might or might not buy tickets. We'll run a few weeks and go home." I wasn't being negative, just trying to keep from emotionally investing myself into it too much. I didn't want to be disappointed.
But then I got here. And I saw all these workers scurrying around building our set and lighting grid. I saw designers putting their heart and soul into the production. I saw the beautiful set by Clifton. It's hard to describe what a miracle it feels like to have envisioned a simple "two guys on a stage" and to then see this BEAUTIFUL rendering -- and even more to see the beautiful set all finished. From the purple swag to the well crafted desk for Jim to the amazing white pillars holding up my keyboard.
And as I watched it all take shape, as we began rehearsing and realizing how professional all of this is, how amazing it sounds, I'm suddenly WANTING it to be a great success. My heart is filled to overflowing with HOPE and LOVE for this production. I'm taking it personally. I know I shouldn't. I know I should just let it happen and try to stay emotionally distant from it.
BUT I CAN'T!!!
There's. Just. No. Way.
So, there. I've bared it all. I'm completely vulnerable. I need it to be a great success. I want it to run forever, whether we're doing the roles or not. Please let it work. Please?
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Tuesday was what they call a "10 out of 12" day. It's a union designation for a day when you can make your cast work for 12 hours, but with two one-hour breaks for lunch and dinner. A "10 out of 12" is formal name, but everyone really just calls it "tech day."
On tech day, you do a lot of standing. You start at the beginning of the script and go through it line by line while the stage manager, director, sound designer, lighting designer and whoever else runs around adjusting things, working out each and every moment. I don't have a complete list of all our staff, but off the top of my head...
Set and lighting: Clifton Taylor
Stage manager: John Atherlay
Director: Anthony Barnao
Production Supervisor: Jana Llynn
Light Board Operator: Steve O'Shea
Sound Design: David Gotwald
I accidentally lost a bunch of the video and snapshots that I shot on the first day through a total screw up on my part. So, now I have to get back and take new video and pictures of everyone. That will be soon coming. I'll have more faces to match the names above.
There's a not a lot to describe except that we stand, say a few lines, stand some more, sing a little, stand, talk, stand, sing, stand, etc. It's tedious, but I'm having so much fun, I don't even notice. It's absolutely thrilling to be a part of this and to know it's actually happening.
On our dinner break, we rushed over to Sardi's for a special presentation to Jay Johnson & Bob. Liz Smith, the columnist was there and the event was the unveiling of their Sardi's caricature. The original "Bob" puppet is going into the Smithsonian.
Jim, Steve, Jay Johnson & Sardi's owner, Max Klimavicius
TAGS: Jay Johnson The Big Voice Broadway musical
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
I want to meet singers so I can cajole them into doing my material. I want to meet great writers so that I can cajole them into collaborating with me. I learned a long time ago at National Academy of Songwriter that, unlike in other professions, you don't really have to compete with other writers. If they're better than you, you just turn them into collaborators and team up!
One of the songwriters I mentioned in my earlier blog who I met down at Mark Janas' singer and songwriter salon was a guy named "Nick." His name is Nicholas Levin (pictured up/left). He's a really bashful guy who sat right near the piano. And when I was playing and singing my own songs, he was intensely watching my hands and listening to every word. He had Steven Wilde sing a song of his called "Final Cut" which totally blew me and my doodly songs right out of the water.
Hey, Nick! I'm comin' after ya!
Monday, November 20, 2006
The guy got a very angry look on his face and shouted, "Then you hate God!"
Yes, dear. Just because I dislike a man who has "Christian" churches all over the world named after himself, it means I hate God.
We have made it to New York.
The cats knew something was up. Thurber was all but melted on Jim all day long. Steinbeck kept noodging my elbow and pushing his big face into my lap as I sat on the couch working. They always know, don't they? We had a long, but smooth flight into JFK and are currently staying at our friend's apartment overlooking Broadway. (See pic above).
Sunday night, I joined my friend Mark Janas, a musical director, for his weekly "salon" at the Rouge Wine Bar down in the Village on Bank and Washington. It's a gathering of singers, composers, lyricists and actors who hang out and sing songs for each other. Last night, the place was packed. (Jim was still tired from the trip, so he stayed in).
Mark invited me to sing and play a few songs. Never one to turn down an opportunity like that, I sang "Why," the new song "Great Big Hall," and then "The Closet," which got big laughs. Later, I sang "How Do You Fall Back In Love?" with Mark behind me on the banquette -- it's a very cozy place -- singing along doing the back-up. We had so much fun!
Then, as Jim says in The Big Voice, I made an announcement that made the room spin. I explained to everyone how I was one of the first bloggers on the Net, how "The Last Session" was one of, if not the very first, musical to have its own website, and that, in the tradition of pushing the boundaries of how to use the Internet, I have uploaded the entire score of "The Big Voice" to the Internet as a free download.
Why? Because, I said, "I WANT YOU ALL SINGING MY SONGS!"
There was a beautiful singer there named Susan Derry who had an angelic voice. Another singer was Steve Wilde (or is it Wild?) who I had seen before in a musical. Then there was this tall handsome man named Devin Richards, who blew us all away with his baritone bluesy voice. Also, a composer named Nick who had some of the most witty songs. He had Steve Wilde sing a song about the "Director's Cut version of our relationship" or something like that. Brilliant. (I'll get all these names and update them later).
Next time I do this, remind me to get more business cards!
Also yesterday, we went to check out the venue for Big Voice. THE STAGE LOOKS AMAZING. The lighting grid which surrounds us looks like a rock concert. Now I'm REALLY happy. The other thing I love is that the seats they've brought in are WIDE and COMFORTABLE. So many of the Broadway houses have these tiny seats with no leg room. Our folks are gonna be comfy!
Oh, man. This is just getting so real! I'll have more pictures. Stupidly, I left some of my cords back home, but James is bringing them. So I'll be able to upload video and snapshots in a couple of days.
Wish you were here!
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Now, tell all your friends and family and everyone you know to get on their email blasts and deliver the word. THE BIG VOICE IS COMING TO NEW YORK!
Friday, November 17, 2006
Go to Joe's blog entry and you will find more information about how to help Mike. As Joe puts it:
It was at this time last week that the last bell finally rang on the 2006 election, delivering the House, the Senate, and the majority of state governships into the hands of the Democrats. The map is blue again. And so is the sky. My face is sore from smiling and my feets are aching from all this happy dancing.Joe speaks for me. I've also extended an invitation for Mike to see Big Voice if he's in NY so I can personally shake and hand and thank him for his personal courage.
And playing a possibly vital, perhaps pivotal role in this triumph was not a politician. Not a party strategist. It was a private citizen. It was a gay man. A man who although he was risking his personal livelihood, risking his arrest, and surely risking his physical safety, he came forward and did the right thing at the right time.
That man is Mike Jones.
Regardless of your personal opinions regarding Jones' chosen field of work, you cannot ignore his unprecedented accomplishment of almost completely upending the Republican Party's last minute campaign to divert the nation's attention from the true issue of the election: the Iraq war.
Talking Heads: "The terrorists have just blah blah....gay marriage referendum blah blah....stem cell legislation blah blah...millions of illegal immigrants blah blah. Um, wait a minute. We have a breaking bulletin: Pastor Ted Haggard! Head of evangelical movement! Homosexual! Prostitution! Crystal meth! Close to the President! More! More! More! More!"
Repeat on every channel.
Headlines on every paper.
For five days.
The five days BEFORE the election.
All the billionaire George Soroses in the world could not have more effectively eclipsed the Republicans' usual last minute diversionary tactics. It was pure delicious serendipity. It was kismet. And most of all, it was KARMA, baby.
We'll never know the exact impact that Mike Jones' revelations had on the national election. He came forward specifically because Ted Haggard was hypocritically supporting Colorado's anti-gay referendum. That referendum passed, anyway. And Jones probably didn't fathom that his story would balloon into a national media orgy and image nightmare for the RNC and President Bush. Jones could not have predicted that his little sex & drugs scandal might have spun unknowable numbers of wavering digusted red staters over to blue country.
But it happened. Just barely enough to win by a tiny margin. But it was enough.
[EDIT: Even Karl Rove agrees that Mike Jones had a hand in the Republicans' undoing, telling Time Magazine, "The profile of corruption in the exit polls was bigger than I'd expected. Abramoff, lobbying, Foley and Haggard added to the general distaste that people have for all things Washington, and it just reached critical mass." (via - Columbia Journalism Review. Emphasis mine.) ]
I've been in contact with Mike over the last week. He tells me that the major gay rights organizations have extended nothing but ten-foot poles. He is unemployed and I imagine that for at least the short future, he is unemployable. He is facing the potential of huge legal bills. He has received death threats from Haggard's followers and other peace-loving Christians.
Gentle readers, you and I owe Mike Jones a debt of gratitude. It's a different country than it was seven days ago, and even if you think that Mike Jones had only the tiniest part in effecting that change, we OWE him. Remember those last two Senate seats were decided by just a few thousand votes each.
So please, show your thanks.
Go to PayPal's Send Money screen and throw some love to our unlikely hero, using his email account: "email@example.com" If you ran into Mike Jones in a bar, wouldn't you insist on buying his drinks? There's thousands and thousands of you out there in JMG-land, and I'm willing to bet that you too have sore faces from smiling and aching feet from all that happy dancing. Show some appreciation to the man who might have helped put that smile on your face and the blue back on that map.
If you don't have a PayPal account, they are free and take less than 1 minute to set up. You can send cash directly to Mike from your ATM or credit cards. Send him the $10 you would have spent buying him drinks, if you ran into him in a bar. Send him the $20 you would have spent buying his dinner in a restaurant. Send him $50, $100, maybe more, if you think that maybe, just maybe, Mike Jones had a hand in changing the political landscape of our nation, and possibly, just possibly, a war.
And even if you don't buy any of the above, if you don't think what Jones did had ANY effect on the election, you should thank him. Thank him just for the sheer entertainment of the last week. Thank him for exposing the ugly hypocrisy of the evangelical movement. That alone, is worth a ten-spot. At least.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
I know there are a billion things I need to do, but instead, I'm reading news on the Net and sleeping all afternoon. I did, however, go out running yesterday morning after feeding the cats. Speaking of which, I've run out of cat food. Must go to the store this morning.
Two days to New York. And we still don't have a place to stay.
Hello, reader. Does it sound like my brain is splattering in thousand different directions? Well, it is! We've been doing interviews and press leading up to our big opening in "the City," as they call it. Which reminds me, where is my winter coat? I know I have one somewhere.
Alexandra Billings came over last night to hang out a bit. We were out on our balcony where she was smoking (STOP SMOKING, ALEX!) and, she being from Chicago, said she and Chrisanne were amazed that it was still sunny and warm here in La La Land. (They finally moved here a month or two ago).
I went out and bought cat food. I cleaned the floors.
Wait! I did do one enormous task that I finished. And if you want to see it yourself, I've even posted on the Big Voice site. I wrote out the entire score to Big Voice all by myself. And it looks beautiful! What did you say? You'd love to play the songs yourself and sing them? Well, then go to the secret score pages and get them!
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Carole Cook & Tom Troupe
Musical Director Jerry Sternbach & Harriet Harris ("Desperate Housewives")
David Hyde Pierce
Neil Patrick Harris hosts.
David Hyde Pierce reads the nominations.
Nominated: Zero Hour.
David hands Jim his award. Jim wins!
Jim gives an emotional speech.
"This is my life partner, Steve Schalchlin, who is the wind beneath my wings. And believe me, he needs a lot of wind."
Jim poses with David.
Jim with Neil.
Jim and Harriet.