Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Tuesday, September 3, 2019


Can you believe the sign behind me?  Tara didn't notice it when she took the photo of me goofing around as we were moving into Exit Theatre for our tech.  This is truly a gift from the universe.  I can hear Hick laughing somewhere.  I love to make her laugh. 

I'm so excited about this radically re-envisioned HICK, with Loretta Janca reading Eleanor's letters and Tara Ayres as narrator.  Carolyn Myers, my director and crony, has done her customary magic pulling everything together. 

When one does a Fringe, one has very little time for technical issues.  Our entire tech was scheduled for 2 1/2 hours (we went a bit over).  Carolyn LOVES making the actors and stage look beautiful with light.   But she had to confine herself to 10 cues.  Admirably disciplined.  We had a wonderful Exit techie doing lights, Beth --- skilled, creative and good-natured.  Our HICK group was completed by Michele Bank, stage manager doing sound, and Louise Mary's Friend  as ... shit, I can't remember the word.  Anyhow she's general assistant. 

We felt like a real team yesterday. 

I think my acting has improved light years.  For one thing, I am freed by having the two actresses onstage.  Tara shares the storytelling with me.  And, although Paula Barish is fantastic on tape,  having a live actress read Eleanor's letters is damn exciting.  And Loretta is a damn exciting actress.
Here we are waiting to start our tech.
I also read a biography of Eleanor Duse, a famous actress of the early 20th century.  She always inspires me to higher levels.  Also, I'm just really getting into this woman, Lorena Hickok.  No wonder historians (except for Blanche Wiesen Cook) refuse to believe that  Eleanor Roosevelt was in love with her.  It's completely improbable!  Okay, Eleanor could have had an affair with a handsome young man.  Perhaps she did, with her bodyguard.  People had their suspicions.  But there's no evidence.  His letters to ER have disappeared.  Okay, Eleanor could have had an affair with one of the beautiful, aristocratic dykes who surrounded her.  But no, she chose rumpled, fat and masculine (Time Magazine's description) Lorena Hickok.  And she stayed close to Hick for the rest of her life.

So Hick must have been this totally amazing charming charismatic woman deep who I have to somehow channel onstage. 

I think I'm improving.  Come and see.  Info below.
THUR SEPT 5 8:30 PM 
SAT SEPT 7 2:00 PM 
SUN SEPT 8 6:30 PM 
THUR SEPT 12 7:00 PM 
Exit Theater, 156 Eddy St., San Francisco
Near Powell St. BART 
TIX:  $13.00 @ Door

HICK: A LOVE STORY is based on Mrs. Roosevelt's 2336 letters to Lorena Hickok, 

used with the permission of the Roosevelt estate.

Thursday, August 1, 2019


1 August 2019

Cory Booker lied during the debate on Wednesday night.  When Biden confronted Booker on his terrible record in controlling police violence against the Black community in Newark, Booker turned it around, saying that he had signed, along with the ACLU, court mandated reform for the Newark police.  What Booker left out was that the ACLU had to take the Mayor to court to get that agreement!  I don't think you get to take credit for an agreement that you were forced to sign by a court order.  Cory Booker took credit.  He lied.

Picture of the Day
I'm on the Sonoma coast. It's foggy.  

Thursday, July 4, 2019


Last year, I marched in the Gay Pride Parade in the beautiful town of Gouda, in Holland. I loved being in that small, ancient city.   This year, back home -- I tell ya, it's hard for me not to be jaded about the Pride Parade in San Francisco.  We have a big problem with jadedness in San Francisco.  That's why we need people to come visit and remind us what a wonderful place we live in.

Jennifer, my friend from Long Beach, had a film in the gay film festival and stayed with me for a week.  She was delightfully un-jaded.  When we walked around, she pointed out beautiful details on buildings that I've walked by hundreds (thousands?) of times.  Actually, now I remember that, when I visited her in Long Beach, I noticed wonderful things in HER neighborhood that she'd overlooked!  But basically my friends in Long Beach seem to really be proud of their city, whereas long-time residents of SF are in a perpetual state of mourning for the past.

It's RIDICULOUS!!  Activism to make the city better makes sense.  But grieving -- what a waste of energy.  Especially if you're in the upper .001% of fortunate people on the planet!  Which I am, just in case you're wondering.

ANYHOW, in San Francisco, we have a Dyke March on Saturday, the day before the big march. The Dyke March isn't really big on contingents, like the big march.  It's mainly a whole buncha dykes, many very colorfully dressed, taking over the street.  Men are asked to show support by standing on the sidelines.

I mentioned to Carolyn the day before the march that I didn't think old dykes would be represented very much.  "Well," Carolyn said, "Then we have to march!"  Carolyn is not a dyke, but she ain't a man either, so she's entitled to march.  Anyhow, nowadays, she marches as Goddess-Zilla.  I'm not sure Goddess-Zilla has come out yet.  I'll have to talk to Carolyn about that.

I decided to make a picket sign that said "Old Dyke."  Then I revised my sign to say "GOOD Old Dyke."  I was inspired by some writer I read recently who said that she wanted her epitaph to read "She was a good old dyke."

So here we are:

I was amazed at the response to my Good Old Dyke sign.  The concept seemed to touch people.  So many  patted or even pounded their chests to show me that their hearts were moved.  I had never experienced that before.

What does it mean to be a good old dyke?  I'm not sure, even though I find comfort in the idea myself.  Maybe, there's power in claiming two identities that have been despised -- "dyke" and "old" --  and declaring them good.

I confess that I don't see myself as a good old dyke.  I think it implies someone who's a stalwart butch, which I'm not.  But I've always loved butches.  I think Lorena Hickok, Eleanor Roosevelt's lover and the focus of my play, was a good old dyke.  But, not only would she never carry that picket sign,  it was a source of shame and self-hatred for her.  Maybe that's one of the reasons I am passionate about performing the play.  I want to reclaim Hick as a good old dyke.

Here I am 25 years ago marching all by my lonesome in the Big Gay Pride Parade.
I came up with the concept, which I thought was hilarious, and I could not find a single person to march with me.  I had stumbled on a taboo!  Who knew?  That shunning was like a red flag to a bull.  I had to do it.  Sadly, it's hard to see the dildo coming out of the top of my hat in this picture.

It was one of the greatest performing experiences of my life.  Maybe THE greatest.  I pranced all the way down Market Street, from Castro to Civic Center.  As I approached, thousands and thousands of people burst out laughing.  I was carried along by the gigantic wave of laughter that met me.  I suffered from chronic back pain at the time, and all that prancing didn't do my back any good.  But I couldn't have cared less. 

It's been a journey.

547 Douglass Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
H:  415 648-5244
C:  415 260-9057

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

I Took the Train Instead

So I went to Boulder to visit my beloved niece Rose, and her delightful boyfriend Lawrence -- and to meet their fabulous new kitty, Penny!
Penny is quite the conversationalist
and loves to be cuddled -- when she feels like it.

Penny is the first cat that I have petted in about 70 years.  I used to be terribly allergic and just recently found out that I wasn't anymore!

R&L took me to a beautiful view of the Flatirons, the rather astonishing geological phenomenon of Boulder.

It looks like I'm living in a different climate from the young'uns.

I was scheduled to FLY home on SOUTHWEST on Tuesday night.  Two days before, on Sunday, the second 737 plane crashed in Ethiopia.  I felt that, except for China and Indonesia, everyone seemed to have a rather cavalier attitude toward the event:  "Now, let's not get all excited.  Let's take time to figure out exactly what happened before we do anything rash like ground the planes."  I rarely find myself on the same side of an issue as China and Indonesia, but there it was. 

I phoned Southwest, discovered I would be returning home on the suspect 737, cancelled my ticket, and bought a ticket on Amtrak.  Admittedly, it cost four times as much because I was getting a roomette to sleep in, and would take 35 hours instead of 2 1/2.  But I felt I was worth it.

Little did I know I was going on one of the great train trips of the world --and I was going to make a new friend!

I was worried about being bored out of my mind, so on Monday I went to Red Letter Books, a great used bookstore, and bought a lot of books.  I think the total came to about $10.   The man gave me the Theatre Arts magazines for a reduced price  because I was a playwright, and he threw in BURR for free.  They really know how to drive a hard bargain at used bookstores.
The woman in the lower right hand corner is Muriel Miguel, my very good friend. 
Not often you discover a book with your friend on the cover!

The train left at 8 am on Tuesday morning from Denver Union Station, which is a very nice place to hang out or eat or shop.  This photo was taken in the afternoon on an earlier visit.

Of course the train was late.  I don't think Amtrak does "on time."  My friend Elliot says that for Amtrak, being late is a tradition.   The lateness allowed Dee and me to discover that we were both going all the way to San Francisco.  Dee was fleeing "Colderado," as she called it, in search of warm weather.  She actually intended to go to Phoenix, but the bus station was too far a walk.  

Only 45 minutes late, off we went!  Through Colorado, across Utah, Nevada, and California to the City by the Bay.

Golden, CO

There's a reflection of a table in the middle of this photo.  Lots of reflections in the photos that follow.

The Dining Car.   Meals were included with my roomette and I met many interesting people.

Winter Park Ski Resort

Arapaho National Forest


Many Cars Stuck in Snow in Fraser


The observation car where I hung out, except for meals and sleep

Miles and Miles of Snow-Draped Trees

At one point, we were stopped for an hour and a half by a giant boulder on the tracks ahead.  They had to bring in a big steam shovel to move it.  The boulder was as big as a car.  Hey, they don't call them the Rocky Mountains for nothin', right?  So we contemplated logs for a while.


Finally, we were off!  (I'm sorry, but I accidentally put in some of these photos twice, and the "Remove" function doesn't appear to be working, so you have to look at them twice.)


These amazing rocks were very difficult to get a good photo of. 
They're kind of like Swiss cheese.

White River National Forest, Glenwood Springs


This is the aforementioned Dee.   She was fleeing Colderado and throwing herself on the mercy of the cosmos, and she ended up with me!  She's been my houseguest for the last week and a half.  On the train, she mentioned that she had an interest in Buddhism but knew nothing about it.  I'm a member of the San Francisco Zen Center.  I would describe myself as having a toe in the river of Buddhism for quite a few years now.  I took her for a dharma talk, and she has made the most wondrous connection there.  

As we went into  the question-and-answer tea after the talk, she told me she's too shy to ask questions, but she learns from what other people ask.  Then she raised her hand and asked, "What is dharma and what is the purpose of the Zen Center?"  Wow.  The lecturer was inspired by Dee's question to be so much more interesting than she'd been in her talk!  

Then we sat at the newcomer's table for lunch, where a young resident in the traditional black robe answered the newbies' questions.  Finally, all the newcomers had left except for Dee.  The resident in was so moved by her.   He got teary-eyed over Dee's openness and intuitive understanding of Buddhism.  In every encounter there, people respond to Dee's warmth.  And she feels a sense of belonging and a love for the very tightly organized structure of Zen.   It's kinda like Dee was looking for the Zen Center and they were looking for her.  They immediately asked her to come in and  chop vegetables.  I mean, I've been hanging out there for YEARS, and they never asked ME to chop vegetables!  Not that I WANT to chop vegetables, but it's always nice to be ASKED.  

Next week, Dee is meeting the director of SFZC so he can answer her questions.  She's ready to move in and chop vegetables. I feel so grateful to be the channel that connected her with Buddhism.  I love being a channel.  I'm making the world better, and it's so easy!  It's not like trying to make the world better by electing a progressive candidate, which is so much WORK.  Phone banking, canvassing, schlepping up and down stairs in San Francisco to hang leaflets on doors.  I'm not saying it doesn't have its moments, but for me, it's work.  But channeling -- you just live your life and take the train and somehow wonderful things happen.  

Dee and I have the same birthday, so we're twins -- although she's 22 years younger.  Anyhow, back to the train:

Clifton.  This is a little better photo of those rocks.

Fruita.  Now we're following the Colorado River

Black Ridge Canyon Wilderness

Now we go to sleep. 

 We awaken in the high desert.  Lovelock, Nevada

The Truckee River.  Verdi


Donner Lake.  Truckee

Oops!  Same photo twice.

The good old Sacramento Delta.  Port Costa

And ending in Emeryville!  The train can't go over the Bay Bridge into San Francisco.  So you have to take a bus.  I know, to be consistent, I should have photos of Emeryville and San Francisco.  But it was a long train ride.  

My true destination, my garden at 547 Douglass St. between 21st & 22nd St.:
It ain't the Rockies or the Sierras, but it'll do.