No, the Raft I’m Referring to Isn’t George

Huck and Jim by Thomas Hart Benton. That's "Huckleberry," not "Huckabee." Explainer I realized, after asking some cordial readers whether they got my "Huck Honey" reference in the last post (see directly below), that I am older than sin and, on top of that, think that a literary critic whose best work was written almost 60 years ago could be considered K-Fed famous. His name is Leslie Fiedler -- born in Newark, New Jersey just after World War I, died in 2003, and was best known for a university-bookstore staple called Love and Death in the … [Read more...]

Fall Off the Raft, Huck Honey

How to get a head in the art world (For the Love of God by Damien Hirst) Current Events Gosh, even with TV's long-compromised creativity halted by a strike, there's so much to write about right now. Like that Huckabee person's unretracted wish not only to concentrate HIV/AIDS types in some sort of germ camp, but his unembarrassed belief that we bent citizens -- Jodie Foster newly included -- are bad, bad, bad in a way that no proper under-God government could ever efficiently correct. Fall off the raft, Huck honey. "Aberrant, unnatural, and … [Read more...]

Brshp Yr Shkspr

No, it's not me on the left. Or the right. The Power of the Net I just received an email from an Out There reader who asked if I was the same J.W. who played opposite her in The Taming of the Shrew back at charming John Adams High School in South Ozone Park, Queens, New York. I mentioned this archetypal face-reddener, my first brush with Thalia and Melpomene, at the beginning of the last post. Indeed, Claire (Callegari) Giblin played an attractive, assertive, full-voiced Katherine to my squeaky, pimply Petruchio. She's now a museum curator and … [Read more...]

The Scent of Dirt, the Taste of Sweat

That's Seahawks all-pro tackle Walter Jones selling it Perspiration Soda I loved the inevitability of puns and wordplay when I was a kid, and so I thought the title of the oh-so-'60s musical The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd was an absolute laff riot. Still, though I could imagine what a crowd smelled like, I had never actually sniffed one. And greasepaint? I hardly knew what it was, no less could recognize its scent. (My first real musical was A Funny Thing Happened... with Zero Mostel, who was greasepaint, and grease, … [Read more...]

More on Gay/Gospel…

This time featuring Barack Obama and Grammy-winner Donnie McClurkin, in a fine Los Angeles Times commentary by out blogger of color David Ehrenstein. Then check out my post below for the B-section Dallas version. For an automatic alert when there is a new Out There entry, email … [Read more...]

No Ifs, Ands, and Especially No Butts

Anyone can "sag" The Song Is Wrong Any of you old enough to remember what wearing green once meant? Guys, I mean, white guys, white guys wearing green. You got laughed at and put down, in high school especially, because green meant you were "that way" -- except on St. Patrick's Day. Actually, in real social life, wearing a red tie in certain pre-Stonewall urban circles was intended to signify exactly that, at least to those in the know. It was the same as having your trouser cuffs tailored a bit high so your socks would show, like Fred … [Read more...]

A Promise as Big as ‘The Ritz’

A terrycloth piece of cultural history (see below) The New Old McNally Soon there'll be no gay bars. When I read that online and elsewhere last week, I wondered if the hypocrites in charge had managed to revive some sort of pre-Stonewall "no queers and booze in the same room" prohibition, a new blue law with lavender highlights. But I was needlessly alarmed, because it was just predicting which businesses and products would vanish within a decade, like roll-film photo developers and tree-eating newspapers, because the need for … [Read more...]

Grains of Rice

View of Savannah, Georgia, 1734. The hotel we stayed at was on the uncity side of the river, between the trees. (Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas.) A Moment in Savannah William Blake saw the world in a grain of sand, but I saw a slice of Savannah in a grain of rice. My usual Washington Square is in New York's Greenwich Village, rescued by angry neighbors from the egomaniacal traffickings of Robert Moses. But this smaller, manicured Washington Square, eerily quiet at dusk, is in lush Savannah, Georgia, and the site of … [Read more...]

Olive or Twist

Cocktails and Modernity As we slouch toward fall, here's a toast: To the cocktail, the commonest canvas for culinary creativity out there. I'm not referring to nauseating luxe novelties such as the $14,700 martini served in a Tokyo restaurant (cited in Conde Nast Traveler) with a one-carat Bulgari diamond where the brined olive would be. That amuse-gauche had better be made with a very special gin, because it's a lot of money for a single carat. A 20 percent tip comes to $2940. Single mixed cocktails are older than we think. Marsden Hartley's … [Read more...]

Disparate Housewives

Guess which one keeps house. Stereotype-Casting Welcome, readers and friends, to the rollout of Out There. I've never been able to figure out if "looking forward" to something -- like the chicken soup with skinny noodles I had every Friday night as a kid -- is crucial to the arts. The satisfaction you get from the next installment of what you already enjoy sounds like innovation's enemy. What contemporary lover of Impressionism could "look forward" to Picasso? But narrative junkies know that anticipation is impossible to banish, which is why … [Read more...]