Thursday, October 27, 2005

One Camera Lighter

Miami Beach, Florida

I'm coming to you "live" from the Clay Hotel here in post-Hurricane Wilma Miami Beach. Palm fronds everywhere, broken glass; some homes and businesses still seem to be without hot water or electricity. Oh, and there's a boil water advisory as well as a curfew (8 p.m. to 6 a.m.) -- yikes!

Overall, South America was an enjoyable experience. With a glitch or two.

Buenos Aires was ultimately more dangerous than Rio de Janeiro: I was about to snap a photo of the Palacio del Congreso when a kid of about twenty -- blonde, fairly well-dressed -- grabbed my digital camera from my hands and started running. Like a dummy, I started to run after him; I managed a face-plant, leaving approximately 10% of the skin of the palm of my left hand somewhere on the pavement of the plaza. He hopped aboard an accomplice's bicycle after about a block, while I was left pondering the entire incident and discovering the bad scrape on my hand.

Aside from that small disaster (I had a second camera which had some other Buenos Aires photos), Buenos Aires was . . . okay. Too crowded and polluted (ugh -- the diesel bus fumes alone are appalling) and, in some areas, in decay (the sidewalk pavements are almost uniformly cracked or pot-holed).

The Claridge Hotel was a definite refuge from the hassles of everyday living in Buenos Aires.

Now, Rio de Janeiro was fantastic. The weather was mostly fine, I got to have a few meals and other quality time with friends Sharon and Gary (whom I met on my Egyptian trip in March) and Sharon's sister Judy. Rio was where I was told to be watchful of thieves, etc., but ultimately I felt perfectly safe there -- and even though Rio has an enormous population and lots of traffic, the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean keeps the air fresh in most neighborhoods.

Anyway, I'm about to run out of time on the hotel's Internet connection. I'll post some more day-by-day accounts of the trip once I return home this weekend.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Equator Hopping

Tomorrow I'm off to Miami, where I'll spend the night prior to flying to Buenos Aires (via and overnight in Sao Paulo) on Wednesday.

This will be my first visit to South America (new continent, yay!) as well as my first time south of the Equator. Can't wait to watch the water flush down the toilet in the opposite direction! (Hey, everybody's gotta have a dream.)

After a few days in Buenos Aires, I'll be off to Rio de Janeiro.

The hotel in Buenos Aires includes free internet access, so maybe I'll try to post from there.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


This was a terrific show.

It opened, ironically, on National Coming Out Day. Heh. Following the performance, I introduced myself to Dan and complimented him on his work. He graciously signed my program for me, too.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Culture and More

Dancer, Futa Toro West African Dance Ensemble, 2005

The 2nd Annual Grand Avenue Festival, held this past Saturday in downtown Los Angeles, was a terrific success. I met up with David, Dawn, and one of my co-workers, Terry . . . plus Terry's seriously charming Brazilian-born friend, Antonio.

In a matter of six hours, I took in the L.A. Philharmonic Piano Trio performing Beethoven . . . had a light lunch consisting of food from several downtown eateries . . . returned to the Disney Concert Hall for a Beethoven celebration by the entire L.A. Philharmonic orchestra . . . took a guided tour of Los Angeles's Catholic cathedral (beautiful alabaster windows and a grand interior) . . . attended a concert by the hugely talented ukelele playing Jake Shimabukuro (who peformed a magnificent acoustic version of the Star Spangled Banner) . . . thoroughly enjoyed a performance of dance and music by a company from Senegal (see photo) . . . returned yet again to the Disney for an organ concert . . . and ended the day at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) viewing the Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition. Whew!

Sunday was much less busy, but equally satisfying. I had an early dinner with my friends Jim and Phil at the cheesy-but-fun Casito del Campo, a Mexican restaurant in Silver Lake which has been in operation since 1962. Jim and I have known each other for twenty years this year (1985 was seriously a huge year for meeting new friends). They'll be moving out to Palm Springs permanently in a couple of months, so it was essential we get our little anniversary celebration in as soon as possible.

And today, my friend Richard, from Washington, DC, who was visiting L.A. for a long weekend, joined me for lunch at Marco's, the quaint pizzeria just up the street from work. It was great catching up with him; we hadn't seen each other since 2001.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

When Frank Met Leah

My dad's parents -- my Grandma and Grandpa "Camper," you'll remember from a previous post -- were married on this day in 1935. In Las Vegas, Nevada. It was his second marriage (he left the Catholic Church following the divorce from his first wife in 1931) and her first.

They had met, according to my grandmother, when she took her car in for service at the mechanic shop. This shop was the one owned and operated by my grandfather and his brother. I don't recall how long they knew each other before driving off to tie the knot in Vegas, but they would spent the next forty-nine years together before my grandmother died in 1984.

Monday, October 03, 2005


Wow, sorry for the long delay in posts. I spent the past week-plus in something of a muddled state of mind. I've actually been something of a mess since just after my birthday last year: I'm at the point where I am considering seeing a shrink, because I just cannot seem to get myself out of my own head, if you will.

I've been loathe to tell my friends about how anxious and unhappy I've often been lately. I pride myself on not being the sort of person who troubles friends with endless phone calls or visits in which I bewail my condition. Although I was able to get through one big period of anxiety and depression back in 1989 with some help from phone conversations with Patrick. (What ultimately lifted me out of my muck in '89 was a move from the home I had been living in with my grandfather to a roommate situation with an old friend.) Anyway, I also went through a nine month deal from September 1990 to June of 1991; since that early summer day in 1991 when the clouds lifted -- if you will -- until 2004, it had been clear sailing. Probably the most productive, interesting, and memorable years of my life, those thirteen were. Sigh.

When I was eighteen, I had a nervous breakdown and was placed in a three-week, live-in therapy with the mother of my best friend, this amazing woman with one of the most powerful personalities I'd ever met. I came out of it feeling marvelous, and that first year and a half after my return home were just a wonder: I moved in with my grandfather, "came out" more fully into the gay and lesbian community in L.A., made friends with people I still know and love. What an opportunity.

I started sliding again in early 1986, though, but I didn't want to admit it, to some degree. I was able to snap out of that fairly quickly, though, thanks to my friend, Jim, who had me join what was ultimately a ridiculous sort of self-help course called Lifespring. So then I was, again, peachy keen until around the time of my grandfather's death in 1989 (which I referred to above). 1989-1990 was very good: Lili was a great roomie, but in early 1990 I moved back in to my grandfather's now-empty house with a new roommate, my friend Cathy. But in September of that year, I became more agitated and sad again, which I finally emerged from when I moved in with another friend, Tony, in 1991.

But since I'm quite settled in my own apartment -- and have been since 1992 -- and my job in ways that I wasn't during prior problems, there doesn't seem to be anything that has "snapped me out of it." Actually, from March to late August, I was really quite fine. My trip to Egypt really inagurated a positive time for me again, but at the very back of my mind, I still sort of wondered if this was just going to be a brief period.

And it was.

So . . . here I am. At another turning point in my life. I'm really very angry that I've allowed myself to hit a low spot worse than at any other time in my life since I was eighteen. I think having to seek help is a real weakness, and even Alice, that first psychiatrist, said I was a "ball-buster."

Wish me more than luck. Wish me the realization that my life has to become so important that I'll do everything to lift myself out of this mess.

Oh, and I just realized something. It was twenty-one years ago today that I left Alice's home after those rigorous but life-saving three weeks. Maybe Alice, who died in 2001, is sending me a hint -- from wherever she may be -- to get my shit together.