Sunday, February 27, 2011

2009 Trentadue Old Patch Red and Lamb Stew With Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

By West Village Bill

My sweetheart, Tony P., picked up a mostly zinfandel California red wine the other day after tasting it at our local wine shop, and we've both really taken a liking to it—and have bought several more bottles. It's the 2009 Trentadue Old Patch Red, which is made from a mix of 77% zinfandel, 11% petite sirah, 11% carignane, and 1% sangiovese.

The Old Patch Red has typical-for-zinfandel dark-berry-and-spice flavors, including a touch of anise, and a nice aroma with a hint of maple. It's a round, satisfying wine at a bargain price of $15.

We had a bottle Friday night with a delicious variation of Lamb and Sweet Potato Pie that Tony has made for me twice now. He makes a stew rather than a shepherd's pie–type dealie, and he tweaks the spices a bit, including leaving out the star anise. He uses the freshly grated nutmeg, though, like Martha says to, and the whole dish is a wonderful melange of fruity, spicy, earthy, meaty deliciousness.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Perry Brass: That Rock and That Hard Place Finally Meet at the LGBT Center

                                                                             LGBT Center, 208 West 13th Street

It began fairly innocently enough: a group called Siege Busters, composed of a few people (I gather) ardently against the Israeli blockade of Hamas-led Gaza, wanted to have a party (or program) at the LGBT Community Center on West 13th Street and they wanted to call it “Anti-Israeli Apartheid Week.” Siege Busters had actually met at the Center before, and the person in the Center office responsible for booking rooms, in the Center’s long-standing tradition of inclusiveness (which it actually has, despite some posturing by Center critics to the contrary) booked the room.

News of the meeting/party was put up on the Center’s website, and from there all heck broke loose. Several well-placed and well-heeled supporters of the Center, which it needs, because, after all, the Center is in New York and not Nebraska, went into a screaming fit. They organized a phone blitz on the Center’s staff, threatening the new ED of the Center, Glenda Testone, and other staff members, that if this offense to Israel were allowed to take place, they would “reconsider” all of their past support for the Center and cut off every penny to it in the future. 

Primary among them was porn-star entrepeneur Michael Lucas, who ran an email blast to his several thousand nearest-and-dearest asking them to “Boycott the LGBT Center,” stating of course that Israel is America’s only democratic ally in the Middle East (no lie) and that only in Israel are gays and lesbians given any real chance for personal freedom and freedom from injury and possible death, as they are in the rest of the Arab-Moslem world. (Again, no lie: you can slice this and dice it as many ways as you wish, but it is the unfortunate truth.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Molly Sweeney

"Molly Sweeney" at The Irish Repertory Theater, February 5, 2011

I haven't had much exposure to the work of Brian Friel, other than the revival of Faith Healer with Cherry Jones and Ralph Fiennes in 2006.  I remember that piece primarily because of the excellent performances turned in by Mr. Fiennes and Ms. Jones, as well as Ian McDiarmid. 

For that reason and that I had yet to see a production from Irish Rep, I was excited to attend Molly Sweeney

If only this production had met my high expectations.  This tale of a woman, blind since early childhood, follows a similar pattern as Mr Friel's Faith Healer, but in this play the monologues of the title character (Geraldine Hughes), her husband Frank (Ciaran O'Reilly) and the surgeon, Mr. Rice (Jonathan Hogan) are randomly interspersed as each characters tells his/her version of the story.  The result is a documentary-style disclosure of the events in Molly's life. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gruesome Playground Injuries

"Gruesome Playground Injuries" at Second Stage Theatre, February3, 2011

Despite some excellent make-up effects, Rajiv Joseph's two-hander about two friends who spend their lives meeting up at the emergency room with injuries ranging from nausea to sprained angles to missing teeth and eyes doesn't quite find a focus.  (I could practically hear Darren McGavin saying, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid.")  Mr. Joseph adds to the confusion by bouncing the plot in non-sequential five year increments.

Pablo Schreiber is Doug, whose injuries are always much more physically damaging than those of Kayleen, played by Jennifer Carpenter.  Both make a valiant effort to bring credibility to their roles, but the evening is undercut the painfully overlong transitions when the actors must change their costumes and sets themselves.   Ms. Carpenter is, to quote a casting director I once heard, "strong by wrong."  I'd like to see her again in a role that suits her better.  Mr. Schreiber is much stronger than his material, as well as being a good bit more physically robust than the accident-prone character he portrays.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Soulful Stitching" and "Harlem Views/Diasporan Visions" at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

By West Village Bill

Yesterday, Mark, Hanif, and I went to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem to check out Soulful Stitching, an exhibition of patchwork quilts made by women of African heritage who live in southern India.

The women are part of a group of people known as the Siddis. They're descended both from early (1st millenium CE and circa the 12th century) African immigrants who traveled from the Horn of Africa to the Arabian Peninsula and parts of South Asia and from slaves who were taken by the Portuguese to Goa in western India.* The earlier settlers took jobs as merchants, soldiers, sailors, and administrators, and some achieved power as leaders in government, religious groups, and the military. The slaves moved south after escaping from their bondage, and their descendants were joined at various times by offspring of the earlier settlers. Today, about 20,000 Siddis live in a remote area of thick forests and high plains in the Western Ghats mountains.

The quilts are called kawandi and are made from old clothing of family members, so the colors and patterns vary greatly. The women use one or more pieces of sari fabric as backing material, and the finishing touches on every quilt are small bundles of square fabric that have been folded into triangles and sewn on the corners.

The New York Idea

"The New York Idea" presented by Atlantic Theater Company at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, January 30, 2011

I'm not sure if it's the play itself, or just this latest adaptation by David Auburn, but Langdon Mitchell's premise of a divorced woman, newly engaged to a divorced man was better told by the prolific Phillip Barry in The Philadelphia Story, which premiered on Broadway some six years after The New York Idea's last revival.  One can't help but wonder if Mr. Barry had seen that production.

Set in 1906, Mr. Mitchell's work plods through the unseemliness of divorce at the time, punctuated by the dithering and frowns of the mother and aunt of the groom.  The result is an evening of theatrical fluff, verging on lint.

The cast is up for the game and make noble if unsuccessful efforts to breathe life into the stodgy plot.  As Cynthia Karslake (the divorced bride-to-be), Jaime Ray Newman is perky, but trapped.  Jeremy Shamos's John Karslake, her ex, comes across as mostly embarrassed to be caught up in the proceedings, and not from just his character's perspective.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

diary of a madman at BAM harvey

Every time I see a performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, be it either the Gilman Opera House or the Harvey Theatre, I am constantly reminded at how lucky I am to be in this city.  Every performance is a wonderful experience and Geoffrey Rush starring in Nikolai Gogol's Diary of a Madman is no exception.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

At The Hotel Chelsea

from Patti Smith's wonderful book Just Kids:

I was wearing a long rayon dress with white polka dots and a straw hat, my East of Eden outfit. At the table to my left, Janis Joplin was holding court with her band. To my far right were Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane, along with members of Country Joe and the Fish. At the last table facing the door was Jimi Hendrix, his head lowered, eating with his hat on, across from a blonde. There were musicians everywhere, sitting before tables laid with mounds of shrimp with green sauce, paella, pitchers of sangria, and bottles of tequila.
I stood there amazed, yet I didn’t feel like an intruder. The Chelsea was my home and the El Quixote was my bar. There were no security guards, no pervasive sense of privilege. They were here for the Woodstock festival, but I was so afflicted by hotel oblivion that I wasn’t aware of the festival or what it meant.

there are eight million stories in the naked city; this has been one of them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Love Hangover

(Homemade Valentine detail, Feb 2011)

I don't know what my fellow QNY Bloggers did for their Valentine's but mine started with a fairly mellow evening of drinks at the Cellar Bar in the basement of the Bryant Park Hotel followed by an early dinner at Koi where we finished off some pretty spectacular specials with a rich, dark chocolate fondue and homemade donuts.  Cards were exchanged, his highlighting our 15th Valentine's Day together while mine, a homemade piece of calligraphy I'd been working on for some time, mentioned various platitudes of our days and nights together.
And then we got home and, quite unscripted, I was presented a little black bag holding a purchase from The Leather Man down on Christopher Street.  
So it is like this: after almost 16 years together, there is still room for Valentines, romance, and surprises...even in the most jaded corners of the city.

south brooklyn 1850

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Don Celender and the American Dairy Association, 1970

Had not heard of Don Celender until browsing through the fascinating exhibition at Zieher Smith Gallery, where a show called Sculpture in So Many Words ended Saturday. I love the ADA's equally playful response to Mr. Celender's absurd request.
Embiggens nicely to read.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Enjoy your Valentine's day in Kat Man Doo this year.......

The next gay male only weekend is themed 'Be my Valentine?' and happens from 18 to 20 February. There is the extra option to stay Sunday night for free …

Michael Smith, proprietor of Kat-Man-Doo, says: “We do not conform and follow the rest of the world … we do Valentine's our way, when chocolates are cheaper and roses are more plentiful. Come relax and indulge in far more romance than could ever be experienced on the 14th. Each of our suites is a private celebration of love with room service in a setting of unimaginable decadence. It is complete with a busker on call, candlelit gardens and starry skies: Valentine’s at Kat-Man-Doo promises to be a once in a lifetime romantic experience.”

Situated in the weekend retreat town of choice and home of the best trout fishing in South Africa - Dullstroom, Mpumalanga, Kat-Man-Doo is only two hours drive from Gauteng and offers a first in South Africa – five-star weekends once a month for discerning gay males who want to flee the rat race to be pampered, entertained, wined and dined.
Offering an excellent restaurant, spa facilities, steam room, jacuzzi, sauna and excellent service, Kat-Man-Doo takes place once a month at Dullstroom’s leading boutique hotel. It is AA superior graded and has a five-star rating from the SA grading council. Its rooms range from 107 square meters with mini-bar, fireplaces, satellite television and all other mod-cons like underfloor heating in the bathrooms to other that are more intimate and small: like a tin with marshmallows and skewers to treat your lover with a barbecued sweet treat … Kat-Man-Doo is an exclusive gay-run retreat, set in the heart of the magnificent trout fishing village of Dullstroom. It reveals the timelessness of a bygone era combined with the luxury, elegance and breathtaking surroundings. Your hosts welcome you to this exceptional retreat and gracious country house with personal service and attention to detail.

Dinner, bed and breakfast are all included. The rate is R800 per person sharing per night; and if you book for Friday and Saturday you get Sunday night for free – there is no charge for the third night …

To book for 18 to 20 February, email Chris on

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

James Dean and Ronald Reagan

We honor the birthday of actor and icon James Dean who would have been 80 years old today.

Watch this strange bit of television, in which he plays opposite Ronald Reagan.

James Dean lived on the Park block of West 68th Street where he was photographed by Roy Schatt.

the most photographed sign in brooklyn

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Queers Against Equality

The College Art Association is having its annual conference in Manhattan on Thursday, February 10, 2011. The Queer Caucus for Art will be hosting a "Creating in the Queer Diaspora" panel that will include Ryan Conrad who is a leader of "Against Equality", a group of queers who give voice to the currently rather unpopular stance that we should not be fighting for things like marriage equality. It's a position that interests me often. Many of those in the queer community love to sing out "I am my own special creation", while concurrently and nonsensically dreaming of the picket fence, the SUV, the 2.5 kids and assimilation. I, however, part ways with "Against Equality" because we should fight for our rights now, even if we never avail ourselves of those opportunities won by equality. Not everyone who worked for the repeal of DADT will enlist. Many will now focus on the deeper issues of anti-war and international policy.  Not everyone who fights for marriage equality will want that license. Some will go on to the greater battle of getting marriage out of the hands of government entirely.

Anyway, Ryan Conrad will be on the panel, and I suspect it would be worth attending. He and "Against Equal" have produced a book about their stance on marriage equality.

Creating in the Queer Diaspora Panel @ CAA
Thursday, February 10, 12:30–2:00
Regent Parlor, 2nd Floor, Hilton (54th St/Avenue of the Americas) New York
Hosted by – Queer Caucus for Art

Friday, February 4, 2011

Perry Brass: David Kato: One Death Makes A Huge Difference

                                                                  (picture by Steve Parelli, Other Sheep)

Two weeks ago, on a Wednesday, January, 26, 2011, a high school teacher named David Kato was murdered in his small house in a rundown section of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. His skull was bashed in by a hammer attack, and he died shortly afterward in a hospital. There have been a few theories (usually trying to justify it) about his death, like it was simply a garden-variety robbery, that his attacker had not broken open any doors, so he was probably known to Kato, that it was anything except a homophobic execution, which it doesn’t take a lot of horse sense to see it was.

Kato was a leader in SMUG (Sexual Minorities Uganda), and literally had a price on his head in this large country in East Africa which has become known as one of the most homophobic environments in the world.

First, because Kato’s name, picture, and address were published in October, 2010, in a revolting article in a tabloid, supermarket-style magazine called “Rolling Stone,” that reached 2,000 people in print (print in Africa is often passed around to dozens of readers, so it might have reached 10 or 20 times more readers).

The headline for the Rolling Stone article announced: ONE HUNDRED PICTURES OF UGANDA’S TOP HOMOS LEAKED.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Playwrights Horizons Discount Offer - Kin

Special KIN offer for Third Row, Mezzanine blog readers!

Order by March 21 with code KINGR and tickets are only:

  • $40* (reg. $70) for the first 16 perfs (Feb. 25 – March 10)
  • $55 (reg. $70) for all remaining performances March 11 – April 3 
  • Order online at Use code KINGR.
  • Call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 (Noon-8pm daily)
  • Present a printout of this blog post to the Ticket Central box office at 416 West 42nd Street (Noon-8pm daily).
*A limited number of $40 discounted tickets will be available for purchase. Subject to availability. Valid only in select rows.

Howard Stern Doesn't Like the Word 'Fag'

By West Village Bill

Over the years, I've been alternatively annoyed with, a fan of, and oblivious to New York radio star Howard Stern. But what he says in this clip from his SiriusXM show, via Towleroad, is absolutely terrific.

Fashion Fun In Miami Beach

I loved working with Mark King! (PS: camera work by Baad Lamb!)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

QNY's baad lamb - an emerging fashion brand!

OK, so this is probably an example of shameless husband-promotion, but his stuff is really wonderful, don't you think?

QNY's Charlie Vázquez Speaking at Columbia University

Friday, February 18 · 3:30 - 5:00PM, Lerner Hall

More Info IvyQ, the Ivy League's official LGBT organization, has asked Charlie to present at IvyQ 2011, where he will deliver autobiographical persepectives as well as reading work from "The Best of PANIC!" anthology he recently edited based on his downtwon NYC reading series, examining and celebrating queer and Latino intersections.

For more about his work:

Canada Geese

Riverbank St Park, Harlem
There was a time when Canada Geese were romantic evocations of Autum for me.  Growing up in Indiana we'd rarely see them on the ground, but we'd see and hear huge Vs of them overhead on their way south.   I don't ever remember hearing or seeing them heading north in the Spring.  Maybe they got overlooked as other seasonal markers took my attention then. 

Over the last twenty years they've become as common as sparrows.  When a flock of them took down a plane here a few years ago, their status as junk birds became firmly fixed in many minds.  This handful are part of a flock living on the Hudson just a few blocks from my house.  The flock grows enormous in the Winter.  Some are year 'rounders, I'm sure, but I think the increased Winter numbers may also indicate that this is 'south' for many others.  I stop by for a visit every couple of days.  It amuses me that they seem to love the cold even more than me; on days when I'll be one of the few people dumb enough to be cavorting outside, they'll go me one better, and be floating contentedly in the river.  Occasionally, regardless of season, I'll hear them flying over my apartment, heading east, west, northeast, southwest,  no actual migration happening, it would seem, but apparently they like to stay in practice.  Even as the sight of them becomes commonplace, I still delight in them, and the sound of their honking overhead still makes my heart leap, at least for a moment.