A Great Weekend

CarolOne of the best weekends happened right between my June 18th birthday and the 4th of July, two already fantastic weekends. On Thursday night, my friend Kris Garcia invited me to The Magic Castle for a benefit magic show that was to be followed by an interview with Carol Channing. Kris secured us the best seat in the house, so after some excellent magicians, I was about five feet in front of the 94-year-old legend for her fantastic storytelling. Channing was dressed exactly like Colonel Sanders, and because she has terrible vision she addressed most of her stories to the only person she could actually see—me! It was as if Carol Channing stopped by my house to tell me her best anecdotes, and I couldn’t have been happier.

Throughout the night Channing mentioned celebrity after celebrity, almost all of which her interviewer/handler would afterwards comment, “They’re dead.” Channing looked very upset about this old news, and repeatedly responded with an, “Oh no!” for optimum comic affect. To make the evening better, I was sitting next to two of the gay dudes from The People’s Couch, and further down the line was another famous Carol—Carol Brady. Towards the end of the evening, Channing’s interviewer mentioned that Florence Henderson was in the audience. Without missing a beat, Henderson screamed out, “Carol, I’m not dead!” I might add that not only is she alive, but she looks fantastic for 81. Apparently reruns keep you young.

The next morning, Friday June 26 for posterity, I woke up to the news that the Supreme Court approved gay marriage. Albert and I cried in bed as President Obama spoke those beautiful words. It was something that we have marched in the streets for, something we deserve as humans, yet something that I never thought could happen. I don’t know if I’m more excited about the potential of marriage, or that I just don’t have to hear so much hate spewed in my direction. I always sensed that ignorant people didn’t like homosexuals, but to actually hear such negative things said openly to your face as if you aren’t in the room is hard. It’s very hard. I have been a minority since around the age of 21, and it is eye-opening in every sense. I hope it’s made me a better, more empathetic person, because I believe there is a reason for everything. That’ll do.

Later that day, the same Kris that got me into the Magic Castle sent me a picture of a book he got autographed for me. It’s from his friend Richard Sherman of The Sherman Brothers who wrote all of Disney’s classic music. So to be clear, I met Carol Channing and Carol Brady, woke up to get my civil liberties, and then had a musical genius write my name in his book for me. Later that night I celebrated at an equality rally in West Hollywood. I was practically shooting happiness rainbows out of my eyes. To quote Channing, “Raspberries!”

To top it off, my good friends Trisha, Kevin, and Mayson were visiting from Cincinnati, and my good friend Danny was in from Hawaii. We all celebrated life with dinners, drinks, and pool parties. We ended the weekend dancing at The Hollywood Bowl to The Basement Jaxx. I’d already been to The Bowl twice in June, for Lady Gaga with Tony Bennett and for Jungle with Underworld. Both were awesome concerts, but I will never forget dancing Sunday evening under a sea of rainbow-colored glow sticks, feeling like I was part of something bigger. I wasn’t feeling gay pride, which I’ve felt before. I was feeling American pride.

IMG_0219

Hair-Do

NoMoney

First let me show you a gift my friend Chris gave me the first day I published my book Bring a Bag of Ice. I love the brutal honesty of all my friends.

Summer in Los Angeles is ridiculously rocked with entertainment, and I’m pooped. Let’s start with the Hollywood Bowl, which I attended twice last week. First a classical show of movie scores from composers of The Americas, conducted by our amazing Gustavo Dudamel. You can get seats for classical nights for less than the price of a movie, and last Thursday we spent a beautiful night under the stars listening to the scores of Battlestar Galactica, Angels in America, Beasts of the Southern Wild and more.

We returned to the Bowl on Saturday night for an all-star production of Hair, which was fantastic. The cast was lead by Kristin Bell, Hunter Parish of Weeds, and a couple of the Glee girls. The standouts were Amber Riley, the fierce black girl that sings “White Boys,” and the very sexy Benjamin Walker as Berger. We are in a severe drought in California, so it was perfect when the Hair tribe actually conjured rain for the second act of the show. Some of the audience was less than thrilled, but we brought wigs, so our heads stayed dry as the hippies let the sunshine in.

While I’m on live theater, lets go downtown to talk about the shows at The Center Theater Group. Last night we saw Buyer and Cellar, which is a hysterical one man show starring Michael Urie. The Ugly Betty star plays a struggling actor working in Barbra Streisand’s private underground Malibu mall. The play is fiction but the combination of strange truth and great writing make for a very, very funny night.

The complete opposite of good theater is happening next door at The Ahmanson. I love musicals and I’m a huge Queen fan, so we went to see London’s long running production of We Will Rock You. This is one of the worst jacked-up jukebox shows I’ve ever seen, and I can’t warn you enough to avoid this tour at all costs. It is like terrible children’s theater for adults, yet I literally couldn’t figure out what was supposed to be happening through most of it. Apparently people would get into situations with space villains, I couldn’t tell you what or why, and to get out of the predicaments somebody would yell, “We’re gonna rock!” and that would solve the problem. Repeatedly. It is worse than the similarly named Rock of Ages but in space and combined with the annoyance of Cats. Imagine the hell.

If bad theater isn’t your thing, we also caught a horrible art show. We saw the Mike Kelley show at MOCA downtown before it closed and found that it was a huge amount of work, none of which I liked. I suppose he’s “good” because art critics say he is and half of my friends loved it. I felt it was the work of a lazy hoarder. Much of the show looked like he raided a thrift store and then scattered things about the room, which I do in my garage but don’t charge people to enter. He must have been a charming man…to get people to buy into this bullshit.

We have also been checking out some summer movies to avoid the Hollywood heat. We saw the ape movie, which is good, but I preferred the last James Franco movie to the current Keri Russell one. We also saw Guardians of the Galaxy, which is also a very good blockbuster. For something a little more unique I recommend Snowpiercer, starring Tilda Swinton in one of my favorite performances of the year. This movie is totally bizarre, not for everyone, but wonderfully visionary. I would describe it as a post-apocalyptic dark comedy action adventure with amazing sets and costumes, but it’s really just a crazy train ride. We also went to a premiere screening of The Hundred-Foot Journey, starring Helen Mirren, which opens tomorrow. It’s a feel-good, food-porn, rom-com and I loved it. Two big thumbs up, but make sure you don’t go hungry or it will be a torture film.

I read in the news today that a special education teacher in Oklahoma showed up to her first day of school drunk and without pants. Doesn’t that make you feel better? You are probably not wasted and naked at work, and it’s unlikely your kids are being educated in Oklahoma.