Monday, November 30, 2009

Out and About - November 2009


Have you ever noticed a tree standing naked against the sky,
how beautiful it is?
All its branches are outlined, and in its nakedness
there is a poem, there is a song.
Every leaf is gone and it is waiting for the spring.
When the spring comes, it again fills the tree with
the music of many leaves,
which in due season fall and are blown away.
And this is the way of life.

– Krishnamurti

Above: On the evening of Tuesday, November 3, I hosted a “dinner and movie night” for my friends (from left) John, Rick, Brian, Jairo, and Bob. It was actually the first of two dinner and movie nights for this month! On November 3 we watched that perennial gay favorite, Auntie Mame.

And why is Auntie Mame a “gay favorite”? Well, I think the film’s camp sensibility is particularly appealing to many gay men. It’s a sensibility conveyed through over-the-top outfits, sets, and situations. (Hmm . . . Catholic High Mass, anyone?). And then there is Mame’s efforts to remain ever open, accepting, loving, and defiant in the face of individuals and societal forces that seek to restrict, censor, and pigeon-hole out of ignorance and prejudice. I think gay people can definitely relate to such efforts, to such resistance.

I appreciate Gary F. Taylor’s review of this classic film:

The Patrick Dennis novel was a runaway bestseller – and it was soon followed by a stage version starring Rosalind Russell, who was born to play the madcap Mame in this story of an eccentric, fast-living society woman of the 1920s who “inherits” her nephew when her brother died. Determined to “open doors” for her adoring nephew, Mame exposes him to everything from bootleg gin to oddball characters – all the while doing battle with her nephew’s ultra-conservative trustee, who is equally determined that the boy’s life remain free of “certain influences.”

This is a knockout show, and Rosalind Russell delivers a knockout performance in it – easily her finest comedy performance since 1939’s “The Women.” She is extremely well supported by the sadly under-acknowledged Coral Brown in the role of Vera Charles, an actress who passes out in Mame’s apartment with considerable regularity, and Forrest Tucker as the Southern gentleman who becomes her knight in shining honor; the supporting cast, which includes Fred Clark, Peggy Cass (particularly memorable as Agnes Gooch), Jan Handzlik, Roger Smith, and Joanna Barnes is equally flawless.

The infamous “production code” was still somewhat in force when “Auntie Mame” was filmed, and consequently several of the play’s most famous lines had to be re-written – but this scarcely gets in the way of Russell and company, and director DaCosta offers a brilliant compromise between the art of cinema and the “set piece” nature of the stage show. The production values are rich, the score is memorable, and everything about the show is a tremendous amount of fun; by the time it ends, you’ll wish that Auntie Mame was yours.

Indeed! (Although, truth be told, my friend Jairo wasn’t in the least bit enamored by the madcap comic style of the film!)

Above: Standing at left with (from left) Philip Lowe, Jr.; Dr. Simon Rosser; and CPCSM co-founder David McCaffrey at the November 17 CPCSM event “Holding the Courage Apostolate Accountable: The Catholic Church, Homosexuality, and Reparative Therapy.”

For more about this event (and the brouhaha over a quote attributed to me in the Star Tribune article about it), see the previous Wild Reed posts:
Gay Catholics, the Courage Apostolate, and Reparative Therapy
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Courage
For the Record
My Response to Archbishop Flynn

Above: My friends Phil (right) and his parents Noelle and John, with whom I shared a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner on the evening of November 26.

Left: Phil putting the finishing touches to the delicious dessert he made.

My meal with Phil and his parents was actually the second Thanksgiving dinner I enjoyed! On Thanksgiving eve I shared a great meal with my friends Ken and Carol; Paul, Carrie, and Cass; and Kathleen, Sue Ann, Tom, and Marianne at Ken and Carol’s home in Minneapolis.

Above: The inspirational Polly Mann at her 90th birthday celebration in Minneapolis on November 28, 2009.

Right: With friends Mary and Rita at Polly’s birthday party.

My dear friend Polly is a longtime justice and peace activist and co-founder of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) – a non-profit organization dedicated to dismantling systems of militarism and global oppression, and one of the most active and influential justice and peace groups in the Midwest. Not surprisingly, she’s been described as a “relentless speaker of truth to power.”

For more images and commentary on Polly and her 90th birthday celebration, click here.

Above: My Christmas Tree, which I put up the night after Thanksgiving.

Above: The second “dinner and movie night” I hosted this month took place earlier this evening, November 30. From left: Freeman, John, Bob, and Brain.

We watched tonight the 1961 British film Victim, starring Dirk Bogarde. It’s notable in film history for being the first English language film to use the word “homosexual.”

Images in the Dark: An Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Film and Video notes the following about Victim.

A landmark film for its bold, complex, and sophisticated treatment of homosexuality, this exceptional thriller was quite controversial in its day and was instrumental in changing the existing British law that made being a homosexual a criminal act. Bogarde stars as Melville Farr, a married homosexual barrister who risks his reputation by confronting a gang of blackmailers responsible for the death of his former lover (Peter EcEnery). Sylvia Syms is also remarkable in the role of Farr’s supportive wife. Bogarde, whose matinee idol reputation was shaken by the portrayal, always maintained that accepting the role of Melville Farr was “the wisest decision I ever made in my cinematic life.”

For more about Victim, see the previous Wild Reed post:
Dirk Bogarde (Part III)

Recommended Off-site Link:
The Private Dirk Bogarde, Part 2 [1/8] - Arena (

Above: Bob, John, Freeman and me - November 30, 2009.

Above: Phil.

I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its tone is mellower, its colours are richer, and it is tinged with a little sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and it’s content.
– Lin Yutang

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.
– Andrew Wyeth

1 comment:

Mareczku said...

Thanks again for sharing with poetry, words of wisdom and beautiful photos.

Warmly - Mark