Volume 2 Book 5 Part 6 of Living In The Bonus Round
The Online Diary of Steve Schalchlin

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December  2000. El Lay, Syracuse, Denver, Ft. Collins.

December 1, 2000.
Another World AIDS Day.
Dear Mr. Schalchlin,

Today is World AIDS Day, and my thoughts turned to you.

I saw "The Last Session" in New York back in 1997 when it was Off-off Broadway and and again Off-Broadway.  The five or six times I saw your show, I was moved beyond words and the feeling hasn't left me since.  I was profoundly affected by your show and continue to be to this day.  Although it's hard for me to believe that it was nearly four years ago that I first saw TLS, I think about the show and you quite often.

What am I trying to say?  It's World AIDS Day and I feel sad.  I feel sad for the families and friends of those who have died.  I'm sad because I do as much as I can for the AIDS cause and still feel helpless.  I'm sad that young children, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, and creative geniuses (such as yourself) are infected.  I'm sad because such a horrible disease exists.

But throughout my sadness, I have a glimmer of hope for the future.  When I was a kid in the '80's, AIDS wasn't even called AIDS.  When I was a kid, people thought you could get AIDS from water fountains.  Now, AIDS education is commonplace in most public schools.  Public figures have spoken publicly about their infection.  New medicines are helping people live longer.  The world may see a cure in my lifetime.  To me, that's amazing.  It's amazing that I can remember when AIDS was called GRID and also may live to see a cure.

I prayed today, Mr. Schalchlin.  To who or what I'm not sure, but I prayed.  I prayed for you and Jim.  I prayed for all the people in the world who have died from AIDS. I prayed for the families and friends of all those people.  I felt like I had an incredible amount of emotion inside of me and if I didn't do something with it, I would have exploded.  So I prayed and I cried.

You've never met me, but I want you to know that you have touched and affected my life in a way that no one else ever has.  I'll always remember the name Steve Schalchlin and how you impacted my life.  Someday, I'll tell my children about you and hopefully be able to express to them how profound
your existence has been to me.

Namaste, (I bow to the divine in you)


Thank you Alexandra and I can see the Love of God in you, too. Today I'm thinking of my friends who live with disease and also to those who died of this disease, especially our beloved Dick Remley. May we find a way to end this plague and end the suffering -- especially the suffering of the millions and millions of people in places like Africa who have no access to the drugs that have kept me and many others alive.

May God bless us all.

I spent World AIDS Day in Syracuse New York at Nazareth College singing for barely a handful of students. Maybe people don't want to think about AIDS anymore -- or maybe they think AIDS isn't something that'll affect them. But the student group sponsoring the concert actually did a great job of raising awareness by having 1/10 of the student body wear red t-shirts to show the numbers of people worldwide who live with HIV.

Our little group in Syracuse

Steve makes some kind of point (?)

Look at that angelic smile. Mom will like this pic.

December 2, 2000.
Oh, Rochester!
Nazareth College sits in a old town near Rochester right along the Erie Canal. The weather was cold and there was snow all around so I felt as if I had stepped into Christmas wonderland. The buildings were from the turn of the century and the little downtown was festooned with colorful lights and dusted with fresh snow.

Small buildings clustered along the Erie Canal & an old soybean warehouse

Ducks playing in the icy water

A old building at Nazareth College and the new Arts Center

I played in this big concert hall in the Arts Center

Toni Gauthier brought me to Nazareth College

The concert went really well. They provided an interpreter for the deaf and a HUGE 11' Steinway for me to play. Needless to say I was quite happy with that! Backstage before the show I was reading "Requiem For A Dream," a monumentally tragic book about drug addicts. The little backstage light was blue so it wasn't easy to read but I couldn't put it down! Now I'm HAVE to see the movie, which I understand is equally emotionally wrenching.

December 3-6, 2000.
A Denver Dream Tour.
As I was leaving Rochester I saw something I've never seen before in an airport: A row of rocking chairs. You think I'm kidding?

Rochester Airport facing the tarmac

Chris and Ann Marie (and me)
from the Downstairs Cabaret Theatre in Rochester took me to the airport. They keep threatening to do a production and
I keep threatening to appear in it.

Then it was home for one day and off to Denver for two more days of touring. The first day I was driven to CSU in Ft. Collins by Todd from Campuspeak. Todd's redesigning all their marketing materials and he had never seen my program. The first thing we ran into was a snowstorm.

But I felt comfortable with him driving -- well, until we started running out of gas. But anyway, we made it. I don't like dressing rooms, so I hung out in a big anteroom downstairs with Mark Keopsell from CSU.

Mark Koepsell (l.) and Todd my chauffeur :)

My favorite items backstage -- and I had to take a picture -- were the ''tech salt and tech pepper" shakers. The stage hand said, "Yeah, people kept stealing our salt and pepper shakers, so we had to label them."

Steve sings at pianoThe program was my favorite kind: required. That is, the Greek organizations on campus made it a mandatory event. It was in a medium sized performance center that seated about 400 kids. We rocked and rolled and laughed and had a blast together. One sponsor said, after it was over, "Usually at the end of these kinds of things, they want to go home, but at the end of yours, they just sat back down and waited for more! I've never seen anything like it."


The PubThe next night, at Regis University it was a completely different situation. I was singing in a very small place they called the "Pub" where the students can hang out and drink "mocktails". Regis is a Jesuit University so there was a definite Catholic Church vibe going.

A building at Regis University in Denver

The first thing they had me do put a knot in my stomach. I was to sing a "teaser" in the smallish cafeteria for the kids at dinnertime. In other words, they'd be eating and talking. Then we'd interrupt them and I'd sing a song on the little upright. I finally chose "Somebody's Friend" and though a lot of the kids listened, I had this knot in my stomach the whole time singing it.

I finished by saying, "Okay, if you want more weird songs and idiocies, come to the show tonight. It'll be just as dumb at this."
Several kids told me they came that night just cuz I did the teaser so it was a good thing.

After the teaser I had a special low-fat dinner with some of the peer leaders on campus. Then, for about an hour or so, I sat and talked with therapist Leslie Riley, who was subsituting as an adult sponsor of the event. She wrote:

"I identify very strongly with being a caregiver in my work as a therapist, and I knew just what you were talking about in your line about us lying in bed at night
worrying about our patients.  I like to tell people that I can leave my stress and worries about my clients at the office, but rarely is that the case.  I never imagined that someone might actually think about something that I do quite often (worry and think about my clients in my quiet time) but never talk about! So, when I get disheartened, now I have a wonderful song to listen to that will give me comfort and inspiration because someone (that would be you) appreciates that I continue to care about my clients after my workday is done. "

That night we filled the little Pub to capacity and after the show I had them pose for me:

The audience at Regis University
They did an excellent job on "Friendly Fire."
I was especially happy to see Bonus Round star, Ryan Meisheid. He helped bring the whole TLS list to Denver -- and he worked at the theatre there while it was running.

Ryan, heartthrob of the TLS list
So now I'm home and I'll take a few days off from the diary to get reacquainted with Jimmy, Thurber and Steinbeck. He's in the other room right now sleeping cuz his gout is horrible today. His foot is swollen and he is in a LOT of pain.

So I get to change from being the preacher to being the nurse.

Next Thursday:
Bob Cox and I are performing at Hallenbeck's General Store in North Hollywood. For info go to:

December 7-11, 2000.
Quick Tracks & Seeing "bare".
Bob Cox called me with the bad news. He can't get off work on Wednesday to play guitar for me on the TV show I'm taping this next Wednesday, so I made an emergency call to Barry Fasman and we recorded three piano/string tracks this past Saturday. I'll be singing to them when we tape.

Barry Fasman looks hard at work but you can see
he's really looking at his gold and platinum records
No Love No Truth No Voice is on bare's programSo anyway, we cut three tracks: Going It Alone, James Robison and A Simple Faith. That night, Gail, Michael and Barefoot Ron and I all went to see the standing room only hit pop opera "bare" by my young friends Damon Intrabartolo and Jon Hartmere.

It's down in the bowels of Hollywood at the Hudson Guild Theatre and outside the building was a LONG line of us folks trying to get in.  Bare is a big hit. Let's play Spot The Goofs:

Ron, Gail and Michael holding my place in line

It felt like seeing RENT off-off-Broadway, it's so good. Plot-wise, it's like if Dawson's Creek were a rock opera about gay kids (and straight friends) in a Catholic School. Very young, very melodramatic and jam-packed with GREAT music and teen angst. And the talent! Oh, my gawd what a great cast. The voices were magnificent. 21 people on a stage the size of postcard.

At intermission Damon (who's maybe 21 years old) came running up to me and hugged me. He was a big fan of TLS from back before the first staged reading and I'm enjoying advising him as he gets approached by big producers interested in moving the piece along. I could see it on a Broadway stage. I told him if they move to Broadway he'd get a Tony nomination for the score -- no questions asked.

Bob Cox with CDOn Sunday, Bob came over and we rehearsed for our gig on Thursday night. Jimmy's gout is getting better, btw. He actually is up and walking again.

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© 2000 by Steve Schalchlin.
You have permission to print from this diary and distribute for use in support groups, schools, or to just give to a friend. You do not have permission to sell it.