Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Weekend with a View

My three-day weekend was a whirlwind of activity with different friends in my circle, but with plenty of time for myself as well. Saturday I went down to Paper Presentation near Union Square and picked out supplies and tools for my love letter project. I have two of the four written and I hope to get them all finished this week, since I don’t have many other plans, except my Samhain ritual.

Saturday evening Liz invited me to dinner with her and Victoria at Liz’s Upper East Side apartment, my first time visiting her place after several aborted attempts. It resembles my place in a lot of ways, except everything is, well, Liz-sized. Her double bed fits into a nook across from wall closets on the way to the bathroom. Her kitchen is set out along a wall the way mine is wrapped around a corner, opposite an exposed brick wall. Her little flatscreen TV sits above a faux fireplace across from her coffee table and sleeper sofa. She has lots of curios, theater props and posters on the walls, plus art and photography, like I do with cinema. It’s a cozy little space and shows a lot of her personality. And you can see in the photo that she wore these whimsical tights with etchings of an M-16 rifle on one leg, and a Walther PPK semi-automatic pistol in a garter holster on the other, which caused no shortage of laughs all evening.

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For dinner, we had barbecue pork shoulder that she made in a slow-cooker, along with corn and candied jalapeno peppers. For dessert, Liz and Victoria had baked that afternoon pumpkin and cranberry cookies and apple scones, using some of the Macintosh apples we picked up at Fishkill. I brought a bottle of Malbec; Victoria had brought three kinds of whiskey, so we had a little tasting flight with Liz’s three shot glasses (one of which belonged to her grandmother).

After dinner we made our way down to the PIT to see Josh performing as Riff Raff in the Rocky Whor-er PIT-ure Show, a full-cast performance with costumes, props and sets in front of a projection screen. Liz has actually performed RHPS in other companies elsewhere, so she knew a lot of the audience responses. The only time I’ve seen it before in a full performance was decades ago at Houston’s River Oaks Theater on West Gray, so I felt a bit like Charlie in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” seeing it for the first time. Puck and I saw a version at Steampunk World’s Fair one year, but we didn’t stay even halfway because it was super-late. I have pictures of Puck having their cherry popped. It was a wonderfully staged, acted and lit performance. After the show, we had another round of drinks and hopped into a cab home.

Sunday Gette and I accepted an invitation to speak on a talk-back panel about polyamory following a play called “The Goddess,” which was about an open marriage. Since they gave each of us a free extra ticket, I invited Lori to come, so she and Gette came over to the apartment and we chatted for a while before getting a cab to the theater in Kips Bay. The play was excellent, with powerful acting and an interesting way of presenting the challenges of an open marriage. Natalie and her new person, Zephyr, came by for the talk-back, which included two sex therapists, an author on swinging, and a psychotherapist, along with Gette and me. It was actually quite short, but we all got the opportunity to say something, so it was a nice experience.

Natalie had to leave directly after, so Gette, Lori, Zephyr and I walked down to Peacefood CafĂ© near Union Square for dinner. This Peacefood is much classier and chill than the one we’ve been to on the Upper West Side near Papacookie. Gette left early to meet up with a date. After dinner, the remaining three of us went our separate ways - I went home to do my laundry and get some rest before my big day.

Monday was our taping of The View at ABC Studios, so I got picked up from my apartment by a black Cadillac Escalade like a movie star. I walked past the small line of people forming on the sidewalk, through the lobby past a throng of ticketholders and up the elevator to the dressing and makeup rooms. Diana was there already, and Leon arrived soon after. Neil Patrick Harris squeezed by me in the hallway, and we later got his dressing room. We saw the dressing rooms of Barbara Walters and Jenny McCarthy; Whoopi was off that day. While I tried to round up our other VIP guests downstairs, Leon and Diana rehearsed with the producer in the dressing room, then went into makeup.

We made our way down to the set and sat in the Green Room, waiting to go on. Olivia Newton-John and Lynda Carter were in two segments before us, so we followed Sandy Olsen from Grease and Wonder Woman. The segment was only five minutes long, and more combative than I thought it would be, but I think we still came out looking pretty good. We met up with our friends in the audience and said our goodbyes before getting back in our cars and heading home.

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The rest of the afternoon I worked on getting the announcement ready and out, plus checking in with the office. Piper came over around 4 and took a nap before we headed out for dinner. First I stopped by the B&H Photo Store to return some things, then we went to Brother Jimmy’s BBQ near Penn Station. We walked through the Greeley Square food stands and got mini-donuts with Paris Time sugar (lavender, pistachio and vanilla) from the Doughnuttery stall and assorted macarons from Macaron Parlour Patisserie for dessert on our way home.

The Doughnuttery's mini-donut automated frying line reminded me of the full-size one at the standalone Krispy Kreme shop in Bellaire, TX.

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We’re continuing our AFI marathon, so our lineup of candidates this time was the following movies:

19. Chinatown
29. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
39. Doctor Zhivago
49. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
59. Rebel Without a Cause
69. Shane
79. The Deer Hunter
89. Patton
99. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

We picked Chinatown, and I gotta say, it was a creepy movie. The two gunshots startled Piper so much that she actually screamed, and the knifing of Jake Gittes’ nose was shocking. The whole thing was quite unsettling, but it was an interesting take on the private eye movie. I saw a lot of “L.A. Confidential” in it. Piper crashed on the couch while I made final edits to my press release and sent it out before going to bed.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Free Love Letters 2013

For me, October is a special month for a number of reasons. It ends with pagan new year (Samhain) on Oct. 31 and time for the cycle of the year to start anew. The weather is usually as perfect as it gets, and I love the smell of fall (although seasonal allergies usually take their toll on me as well).

Looking back on my life, October is the month I most associate with love because I've physically met all my past lovers in the month of October. And even though I'm not in a relationship now, nor am I looking to be anytime soon, I think love is something to be celebrated in all its forms, not just sexual or romantic love.

I know it sounds a little trite, but last night I finished the fifth and final season of Fringe, a TV series introduced to me by an ex before I was ready to watch it with her. It has become second only to Firefly as my favorite show of the few that I've seen every episode. It reached a zenith for me in a fourth-season episode titled,"A Short Story About Love," where the main character makes a choice to accept an involuntary change to become "a better version" of herself, one that loves and is loved by the co-star, instead of struggling to remain "herself" and without love. You have to see the show to understand that, but that's the best way I can explain it. The end of this episode is so perfect and so beautiful that I stopped watching for two weeks just to let it sink in.

Anyway, two years ago I started a project to mark October as my own month dedicated to love. I came up with an idea after reading this article in the Wall Street Journal: "Stationery's New Followers" - Aug. 25, 2011

I wanted to do something to celebrate love that didn't have anything to do with a specific person. The idea of love is bigger than one relationship between two people - love is what binds us all together and the most powerful force for good we have in the world. This is why I'm an advocate of polyamory and helping people find new ways to experience love. I sincerely believe that if there's more love in the world, it will make the other problems we have easier to handle.

Also, I wanted to do something for the sake of art, without any other purpose or agenda beyond putting something beautiful out in the world. So each October, I write a personalized love letter to anyone who requests one by sending me their physical mailing address. Everyone who gives me an address will get a letter - guaranteed - whether we've known each other a minute or a decade. Each love letter will be handwritten with liquid ink on cotton fiber paper (so as not to harm any trees) and sent via U.S. Mail - not by email, text, IM, Twitter or Facebook post. I'll even spring for international delivery for anyone overseas.

Your letter may be long or short, funny or sincere. It might be perfumed or decorated with a wax seal. It might recall some tiny, distant memory of our time together, or it might be five pages long if we have a history. It might be lyrics to a love song that reminds me of you. It could be a story I've always wanted to share with you, but never found the right moment to tell it.

But whatever it is, it will be honest, and it will be about you and me - and whatever is between us and how it relates to the experience of love. And for those moments it takes you to read it, you and I will share a personal and physical connection that is so rare in this fleeting digital world.

No response will be expected - the letter will be my gift to you, in honor of all the love that has found me in Octobers past. All letters and requests will be kept confidential on my end, but you're certainly welcome to share the experience publicly if you wish. And obviously, requests received after Oct. 31 will have to wait until next year.