Volume 2 Book 10 Part 8 of "Living In The Bonus Round"
The Online Diary of Steve Schalchlin

Laguna Playhouse appearance Aug. 12

[ Diary Index ]
[ Book 9 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ]-- [ Vol 3 Book 1 ]

June 28 - July 9, 2002.
Revolutionary Journeys.
First of all, I'm happy to report that I am so over myself and my whining. Now that Barry and I have done a couple of remixes, I've gone back to being excited about the new CD.

My friend Michael and I have decided to team up to look for new doctors. On July 5th I met with a new endocrinologist, this very smart woman, first named "Marlys". She wore studious glasses, is probably in her early 30s, her hair is cut all the same length just below the ear and it's parted on one side. Very PBS. Very intellectual looking.

I said, "Hi. I'm doctor shopping."

She looked a bit startled.

"My old doctor has retired and now I need both an endocrinologist and primary care physician who understands AIDS." (Dr. Peter was both.)

Dr. Marlys has only been practicing for three years but as we talked about my Grave's Disease, diabetes, and the androgens I take to maintain muscle mass, she impressed me with her knowledge and the questions she asked. First we talked about the thyroid. She said,"I'll start from the beginning as if you know nothing and I'll describe what's happened and what your options are." She was very patient.  I don't want to feel like "patient 2b". I want a doctor that gets involved and explains things to me.

The PTU that I'm taking now for my thyroid can have very strong side effects which can occur at any time so most doctors prefer to administer the radioactive iodine (which is a pill) and stabilize everything with some type of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It's not urgent but it's inevitable given the fact that I still have thyroid disease.

The problem now is just timing. I expressed my concern over energy levels, given the fact that the fall is usually a busy time for me as a performer -- plus we have a new show to launch -- and she was honest in saying that it will take a few months to get an accurate dosing of the HRT, but that I would probably be just fine.

I asked her how much she knew about AIDS. Our problems are very complicated given the changes HIV makes in our bodies combined with the powerful chemo therapy. My situation is even more complicated given my "side diseases". She said she coordinates with at least two of the top AIDS doctors in L.A. on patients, one at Cedars Sinai.

I liked the notion of having a team even though having two doctors means having a dozen opinions on everything.

The biggest happy shock I had was going to the website of the AIDS doctor recommended by Dr. Peter. His name is Dr. Tony Mills ( and I have to admit I've never seen a doctor who advertises his practice with a hunky muscle picture. I just love being gay.

Jason, Jason, Lyndsay & QSpeaking of gay, last week I flew to Pittsburgh for a little summer gathering with some of the other people involved with Youth Guardian Services. Male and female. Young and old(er), straight, gay and lesbian. Given that all of them work overtime for no pay to create a support system over the internet, it was inspiring to just be around them. It was also energizing to play my songs for "new ears."

Jason Hungerford
Founder of Youth Guardian Services

When I played Gabi's Song or The Closet, I could see tears in their eyes. These young ones, especially, are still living with a great deal of fear out there in the real world. In many ways, it's like living under threat of terror. You never know when someone will single you out.

Toward the end, all ten of us gathered together talking about gay history; stuff that was told to me by people like Ken McPherson (who would be my next stop). It was the closest we got to an "around the fire" kind of moment. Laura Peebles, a board member, also told really good stories about her involvement with gay rights and the AIDS crisis in New Orleans.

After Pittsburgh, I was off to San Francisco to spend a week with the aforementioned Mr. McPherson. I  consider Ken one of my closest confidantes and friends.

Ken McPherson & Steve take "fun with projection tv" photos.
Ken is writing a theatre piece describing his work in San Francisco in the 80s & 90s (and he as invited me to contribute music). He read me a piece of it that involved Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, the gay soldier first involved with the "gays in the military" issue, and Ken's involvement with him before he died of AIDS.

By the time Ken finished reading it, I was in tears. I couldn't breathe. I just looked at him and said, "I'm in."

I also played new songs for him and we talked about the CD. Ken is brutally honest, extremely talented and very knowledgeable. I go to Ken when I need to be raked over the coals and be told the hard truths. He doesn't shirk from his duty. :)

Oddly, even though I had been in the pits going through the birthing process of this new album, Ken gave me the inspiration I needed to get this thing right. Sometimes a shot of honesty is like a jolt of adrenaline. It clears the sluices and focuses you.

Back home, Jimmy is hard at work finishing the book for THE BIG VOICE: GOD OR MERMAN? (which we now describe as the story of two guys who go looking for God and find Ethel Merman instead) in time for our August 12 debut. So far, so good. I'm somewhat nervous about this but one thing that gives me confidence is that we have very good chemistry together, on stage and off. This is gonna be fun.

He did it again. He said, "Get your camera. It's time for another secret surprise trip." The occasion? 4th of July! Time to do something patriotic. So we went where all good patriots go: A graveyard.

Actually, it was to see old friends who are now interred at Forest Lawn. The first person we went to see, of course, was our beloved Dickie, Richard Remley who died two years ago (and who I still miss every single day).  I got a lump in my throat when I saw the phrase on his stone, "We will always be connected to each other," remembering that we took up a collection on the TLS list to pay for that memorial.

"We will always be connected to each other."
He chose this site in front of the replica of the Old North Church.

Jim Brochu posing like George Washington (in background).
I think Jim has more flair.

This statue is called slavery. I think my rendition is quite dramatic,
a very Shawn Decker pose.

We walked around Forest Lawn and visited the patriotic stuff. The replica of the Old North Church complete with replicas of the lanterns used by Paul Revere was really beautiful and clean. I thought it was interesting that all the pews were like little box seats. To sit down you have to go through a tiny door.

Inside the Old North Church. Paul Revere's lanterns.

Jim Brochu "preaching".
The revolution is now on.

Down from the church is a huge wall mural depicting scenes from the Revolutionary War.

The wall from a distance. Jimmy stands close.

Here I am joining George Washington in the boat.
We're saving America together.

On the side of the mural was this quote:
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."
We were having dinner with Lisa, Ruth and Michael at Mel's Drive-In (which isn't a drive-in) on Hollywood Blvd. We started talking about movies. Our waiter (who wore a micro-ponytail), overheard us and told us that the following subjects were off limits: movies, TV and directors.

Then Ruth made the mistake of saying something about Minority Report, which led our waiter to give us a ten minute discourse on the movie A.I. and which parts of it were "obviously" Kubrick and which parts were (sneering) Spielberg. He quoted from remarks Kubrick made in 1964, quoted three scholars and was well into comparing HAL from 2001 with the boy robot in A.I., when he stopped to take a breath.

I interjected, "I'll have the chicken taco salad."

It didn't phase him a bit. He was now cruising past the metaphyical elements and entering the deep psychological aspects of Kubrick's "oral fixation" when I interrupted him again, saying, "Um, okay, I'll have the chicken taco salad."

I wasn't trying to be rude. But we hadn't seen our friends in a long time. Obliviously, he continued the seminar, but then finally took our order. We found out later that he had gotten in trouble debating Kubrick with some other patrons.

Who says it isn't fun to live in this town?

July 10, 2002.
This morning I am sitting in my loft listening to the new recordings trying to figure out sequencing for the CD. Which song first? Second? Last?

It's a little puzzle because I essentially have two groups of songs. On one side are the songs I've been writing for The Big Voice (TBV). And on the other side are the "internet" songs about Gabi & William, plus The Closet (all specificallly gay related and "Reluctant Soldier." I have to find a way to make these disparate souls seem like one message rather than a smattering of demos. Hey, there's a good name for the CD: A Smattering of Demos.

Jimmy told me yesterday that he feels "God's Work/Scarecrow" may be the best song I ever wrote. It is certainly a very intense song not unlike "The Group," although it sounds nothing like "Group." It might be the most purely theatrical song I've ever written because without the little intro it doesn't make sense. It's a song written in a context that it doesn't go out of its way to explain.

On the video of my cabaret show in Rochester, "God's Work/Scarecrow" was the strongest moment, hands down. I believe I'm going to find a way to make it available. Marc's video (which I do not want released to the public, as is) captured the moment beautifully. (And I apologize to those who want the whole video, but I have my reasons for withholding it). Anyway, the reason the intro works is because it's funny and it's taken from a true incident that happened in Henderson, Kentucky described (at the time) in my diary.

My friend Ernie, who is designing the graphics for the CD, didn't think much of the song -- he calls it my Sondheim song -- when he heard it on the CD and preferred to sequence it near the end. Once he saw the video, it suddenly became his second favorite song (after "Why") and suddenly wanted to place it second on the CD!

See what I mean about a puzzle? Jason wants The Closet to open the CD. I remixed it yesterday and am very happy with the remix. So do I groups all the "gay songs" and then drop the others afterwards, essentially where you end up with two themes divided? No. Because to me they are all connected. When I write, I almost never write with "intent." I get obsessed over something, it just announces itself and I write it.

That means I'm left with pieces of a puzzle I didn't see the original design for. But I do know they fit. In fact, this morning this sequence is making me very happy:


In this sequence, all the songs seem to melt one right into the other -- and they all feel connected, like I'm telling one big story. I like it. This might be it. I hope so cuz I got a deadline.

[ Diary Index ]
[ Book 9 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ]-- [ Vol 3 Book 1 ]

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© 2002 by Steve Schalchlin.
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