Volume 4 Book 4 of
Living in the Bonus Round
The Coliseum in Rome as seen from our bus into town..
[ Book 4-3 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ] [ Pt 6a 6b ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ]
[ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] -- [ Book 4-5 ]
June 12-14, 2005.
Gay Pride & Rome.We made it through the weekend with Jimmy doing his best. He wasn't completely 100% yet, though, so we cancelled Saturday night's show to give him a chance to catch up. Then Sunday morning, we hustled over to our beloved MCC-LA where we performed "The Closet" for the Sunday morning service because he doesn't have to sing in that number; he just has funny dialogue. We had the congregation laughing hysterically. Then Rev. Neil, never one to miss a punchline, followed up with, "I love sacred music."
It was a celebratory morning because this was the week of Gay Pride, and the parade would be marching right down Santa Monica Blvd. right in front of the church.
Steve with Rev. Neil all decked out in rainbow.
We hung out a bit and watched the parade get started, but we couldn't stay for the whole thing because we had to get to a birthday party for one of our dear friends, Jay Morgenstern. Jay, who has been a senior executive at Warner Chappell Music for decades, knows everyone in the business. We felt it was quite an honor to be invited.
Jim Brochu, Alan & Marilyn Bergman, Jay Morgenstern.
It was held at the Four Seasons Hotel during their luxurious Sunday brunch. We sat with such songwriting luminaries as Paul Williams, Johnny Mandel, Alan & Marilyn Bergman, Dean Kay and others I didn't even know. Also, Les Bider who runs Warner Chappell was at our table. Oh, and as I was going to the buffet table I ran right into Larry Flynt! Talk about a Hollywood moment.
After the brunch, we drove over to our theatre and had a sensational matinee, playing almost to a full house. Standing in the lobby afterwards, I looked up and was totally surprised to see Ken McPherson and Ben from San Francisco. Ben had flown Ken here as a birthday present just to see our show and take us to dinner. It was great fun hanging with them again.
May 14, 2005.
Rome at Last.
When we finally arrived in Rome, for some reason, I was totally freaked out. Maybe it was because Florence had developed their art apart from the influence of the Vatican, but there was something about staying in the shadow of the walls of Vatican City that I found emotionally unnerving -- and it wasn't just my Baptist heart.
The ancient Vatican walls.
For one thing, I openly and clearly and totally despise this new Pope. I think he is ridiculous in his hateful rhetoric toward gay people and I feel he is the source of a great deal of evil and nastiness that is spreading out from his seat of power.
Doorway in the Vatican wall.
What Jim hates about him is that he's a sloppy dresser. When he first appeared as Pope wearing those black sleeves beneath the white robe, he was scandalized. And Jim has also noticed that Pope Paparazzi (as they call him in Rome) wears pre-Vatican II sleeves on one of his robes. (Jim is very attuned to Vatican fashion.) It feels like this is a man who wants to take us all back to the Middle Ages.
Jim & Steve at the Vatican.
My point is that on the first day I couldn't enjoy myself. I hated everything I saw. Madonnas everywhere. Mary this, Mary that. Everything steeped in Roman Catholicism. It just felt like I was in hell. My rational mind could not overcome this feeling that I was looking at the work of Satan himself. (And that's weird for me because usually I don't think in those terms.)
The Swiss Guards.
And then it happened. We walked into the Vatican and there on the right, behind some glass, there it was:
The marble flows and bends in his fingers. It's said that Michelangelo once sculpted a figure and the beat it with a stick, screaming at it to come alive.
I couldn't take my eyes off of it. It was almost like seeing David for the first time. Then we walked on about halfway down and turned into the main room, looking back toward the doorway. It was an astonishing sight.
But not as astonishing as when I turned toward the front:
Bernini Columns in St. Peter's Basilica.
We finished our quick tour and though I was starting to feel a little more relaxed, we were exhausted. So we went back to our hotel. And that's a whole 'nother story...
NEXT: Rome, Day Two.
© 1996-2005 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.