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July 1998. El Lay.
We begin preparing for the Laguna Production.
Wednesday-Sunday, July 1-5, 1998
Jim's Sunday Sermon 1.
If you have a thin skin, or if you are incapable of comprehending satirical comments on the way some people think about God, I suggest you skip this guest "sermon" by Jim Brochu.
ADAM & EVE & Rev. MooreThe other night while watching "CNN Talkback Live," a Rev. Amos Moore of Atlanta was debating one of his neighbors, a wholesome looking young man from the Foxwood section of town. Though the reverend was black and the neighbor was white, both agreed that their issue was not racial, it was biblical.
Reverend Moore, was proclaiming he would rather have the prostitutes and drug addicts who make up the majority of Foxwood stay rather than see the homosexuals "take over."
Reverend Moore, using the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as the basis for his argument, showed how gays and lesbians posed a bigger threat to his children then the current residents - hustlers, pushers and gang bangers. Although he proclaimed that God would destroy Foxfire with heavenly fire, the real estate values have been skyrocketing since the gays started moving in and, as the young man said, "makin' it purdy."
I could only feel sad as to how the reverend was using the Bible to divide people. I started to wonder, "Does the Bible really say all the things that professional Bible spouters says it does?" I'll admit I've never read the bible cover to cover and thought I'd see what was in there for myself. So, story by story, here's an interpretation of the good book from the eyes of a very confused gay Christian.
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BIBLE
I can just picture God sitting on his heavenly throne, feet up on a galaxy, sipping a Mai Tai and watching the World Cup soccer finals on CCN (The Celestial Cable Network). Suddenly, the new Angelservant on duty flutters in and tells God that while he was cleaning Cloud Seven, he ran across a biography of Him called the Bible and thought He should read it.
Now mind you, this was the Angelservant's first day on the job and he had not been informed that the other Angelservants and citizens of heaven had been keeping the Bible away from God for centuries. Everyone read it when it first came out and knew what an unflattering portrait Moses and the other editor/correspondents had painted of the Lord God.
The initial release of the Bible in heaven caused as much stir as the release of Tropic Of Cancer on Earth. Seraphim and Cherubim crouched behind the cracks of heaven's gate with second-hand copies to read about God, their boss...the the man they thought they knew.
Suddenly, every angel and saint was talking about the scandal - the scandal of God's true personality revealed. They read in Genesis, Exodus and throughout the Old Testament how the kindly and benevolent creator they saw strolling around heaven smiling and blessing people was actually leading a double life on earth as a full-time, mean-spirited prankster and part-time serial killer.
God comes across as a mean, vindictive, manipulative, passive-aggressive, obsessive-compulsive, manic-depressive control freak who maims and murders as a way of grabbing people's attention. Many of the heavenly creatures thought God should sue for libel and defamation of character. The God they knew was a kind and loving guy while the God of the Bible comes across as a sociopath in desperate need of professional help. So they just decided to keep the good book from Him and not get Him upset.We hear every day from pastors and preachers that the bible teaches us how to act toward one another. And yet if we read the Bible as to how God has treated man, it's a palate of actions that range from sending mixed messages to sending cataclysmic destruction because someone ticked him off by not getting the blood-sacrifice "just right." If the Bible does not present a true picture of the personality of God then we should find other ways to gain knowledge of Him. But if the God of the Bible is an accurate portrait then man needs to get a restraining order.
CHAPTER ONE: GENESIS, THE ADAM FAMILY AND GOD AS ULTIMATE MOTHER-IN-LAWTo read the story of Adam and Eve closely is to read the tale of God -self-made creator, who, as a parent/landlord evicts his children from paradise because they wanted to know right from wrong, then stalks his former tenants and opens three businesses on the side.
The story of the creation of the earth is confusing enough. According to Genesis, God creates the light and the dark two days before he creates the sun. Okay, so I guess God can make light without any source but then it also says he created the moon to give off its own light at night. Also, on the second day, He's seen hovering over "the waters" which he doesn't create until the day after.
Then according to Genesis 1:26, the very first thing God says after the land has become dry and separated from the waters is, "Let there be grass." It's like God knows what he's got in store for mankind and thought He'd have a couple of joints rolled for Adam when He woke him up.
So after he makes the support system - water, light and pot - God creates Adam out of dust. Then God gathers all the creatures in front of Adam and makes him name them all and pick a mate. Adam, it seems, didn't see anything he liked as a companion in the animal world and so God put him to sleep, took out a rib and made a woman who Adam called "Eve," the sound he made when God took the rib out.
God then says to them, "Leave your father and mother and be joined as husband and wife and become one flesh." (Gen 2:24) Where has God been? Does he not realize he just created the first two people and they don't have a mother and father to leave in the first place?
The overwhelming message of the story of Adam and Eve is the same message that most twentieth-century fundamentalist diehards are giving out today - Stay stupid.
God, the owner of the garden, has leased it to Adam and Eve on one condition - that they stay away from the fruit that will give them knowledge of good an evil. But God has made man inquisitive. God already knows that the thing man lusts for the most is knowledge. It's almost as if God is insecure, saying, if you know too much you'll forget who made you and stop believing in me.
Not to eat of the tree was like the cruel trick a master will play on his dog. Balance the most precious piece of food you can image on the end of your nose but don't eat it. Just look at it. Crave it. Desire it and want it with every fiber of your being but know it's forbidden to you. Eventually, the dog will realize that the master doesn't really love him but is just torturing him. The dog will eat the food and the master will be angry. But will the master seek constant revenge on the dog and every litter it bears until the day it dies?
Adam and Eve want to know the difference between good and evil, between right and wrong for themselves. They had an innate sense of it and thirsted for more knowledge. But God has told them that if they eat of that fruit, they will die. He will kill them. Just as preachers tell their congregation that faith is more important than knowledge.
Adam was never very bold. He had a lot of responsibility in the naming of things, it really tired him out and he really didn't want to take on any other obligations. He wanted to eat of the tree but he was also enjoying life and believed God when God said he would kill him. Along comes the servant and says to Eve, "He isn't going to kill you guys...who else has he got? He wants you to stay stupid because he's a control freak."
The serpent explains to Eve that's it's all been like a hidden camera investigation...a lot like Abscam...God is watching them to see what they'll do but since He's God He already knows what they're going to do and so it's like the cruel trick of the dog with a bone on its snout. Now that the Adams know it was all an experiment, they could eat the fruit and gain the knowledge.
Eve convinces Adam to have a bite and after he doesn't get hit by a lightening bolt, they realize that they ate the fruit and lived. God lied to them right off the bat. He said he would kill them and he didn't.
So they run into God strolling around the garden and God is humming and pretending that He doesn't know what's going on. So, like Mike Wallace jumping out of a hedge to confront his quarry, He finds Adam and Eve and says, "So nu? What have you been up to? You've been avoiding me. You never call, you never write, you never take me for a ride on a Sunday. And you ate the forbidden fruit."
Adam, being the typical man he is, blamed the whole thing on Eve. "She made me do it." Eve, of course, blamed it on the servant. She said "The serpent deceived me." What she wanted to say was, "You deceived me, God. You lied." But she could see He was pissed enough already and didn't want to take any chances. So then she told God she didn't want to see Him because she had nothing to wear.
"Gotcha!" said God. They told God they were ashamed to see him because even though they were just a few days old, they had been eating so much fruit that they were a little puffy. So what does God do?
He kills an animal and creates clothes for them out of the pelts (Gen 3:21). Within the first three chapters of the Bible, God established the fashion industry. Because he fashioned the clothes out of skins, the implication is that God was also the first furrier and advocates the use of mink and sable for every day wear.
Then God really goes ballistic and he curses Adam and the ground he's standing on - not for eating the fruit, but for listening to his wife and doing what she told him (Gen 3:17). Just as he throws them out of the Garden, he points out the Pishon River in the Land of Havilah where there is a lot of Gold and onyx, further implying that God created the world's first Jewelry business as well.
At this point, it was a wholesale business since there were only two customers. Actually, by this time there seemed to be four of them - Adam and Eve and their sons, Cain and Abel. Eventually they talk about Cain's wife giving birth but they don't talk about where she came from.
Could it be that she was the daughter of Adam and Eve? Besides Cain and Abel, was there a daughter they just didn't talk about like the retarded Kennedy girl the family was ashamed of and kept out of the public eye?
So God creates Adam and Eve and gives them a Garden to live in. He is not only their landlord, He is also their parents and since they are married he is also their own in-laws. God is father of Adam and Mother-in- law of Eve and perhaps that's where the conflict lies.
Since Adam and Eve basically live with their parents and don't play by the rules, God has thrown them out to live on their own. Wouldn't that be enough? Just to get thrown out of the most beautiful place on the planet?
But no...the mother-in-law side of Him comes out and God keeps harassing them and their children.
There is a second "creation of man" story that runs currently with that of Adam and Eve.
In the second chapter of Genesis, it states that "God created them. He created them men and women," which implies that He used mass-production on the first round and not just two prototypes. It explains where Cain's wife would have come from but opens the door to many other questions.
For one, if God made thousands of people at once, were they all living in the Garden of Eden? If there were a lot of people romping around the Garden and they all got thrown out because two of them broke an agreement, I can see why mankind turned grumpy.
Just because the Adam's family down the tulip patch couldn't play by the association's rules, why did they all have to be expelled? Eden provided for mankind the sight of the first picket line. Hundred marching around carrying signs saying, "God Unfair!" and "We Don't Love the LandLORD!."
Back in the first story of Adam and Eve, it says that God put Adam to sleep so that he could revove the rib, but nowhere does it say that God ever woke him up again. Maybe he's still sleeping and all of us are just a part of Adam's dream.
NEXT: CAIN AND ABEL - NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED
© 1998 by Jim Brochu Now called Jim's Sunday Sermons at http://www.bonusround.com/jimmy
Tuesday-Friday, July 7-10, 1998
Cats, Pills, 2 Binkys & Laguna.I spent a lot of time this week playing the piano and working on lyrics. I've written the most overtly political song of my career and I hate political songs so I keep trying to "fix" it. Lord.
Also, this week I had some internet connection problems, so I apologize that this diary page is late.
I had a real internet moment, too. Remember I told you Dr. Peter had suggested a new combo of protease inhibitors? Well, in less than a single day, after making an inquiry on one of my AIDS listservs, I got a note from the VERY doctor who did the study on the new combo and reported it in Switzerland, Dr. Cassy Workman.
I was able to get the straight facts. What had been suggested was a balance of 200mg Ritonavir/800mg Crixivan (Indinavir) twice a day. But here's what Dr. Workman said:The dose which makes greatest use of the interaction between these two is 400mg/ 400mg bid. This lowers cmax of indinavir, raises cmin of indinavir and has less interpatient variability. This data was also shown at Toronto.On the cat front, we're still in transition. On day one, Thurber just growled at the little one and avoided him by staying in the bedroom. Thurber didn't eat much and if either of us touched him, he just growled.
As to why go this way?
1. There is no food effect for indinavir dosed this way.
2. It is a bid dose.
3. It has less interpatient variability.
4. It raises significantly the trough levels of indinavir (when you remember that these last two have been implicated in indinavir failing it is very clear why this would be attractive).
Basically it takes a very complicated dosing schedule and makes it simple. and less risky.
Additionally because it lowers the Cmax it theoretically would decrease the crystalization effect from indinavir and potentially the kidney stones if this is the mechanism by which it is occurring.
The dose of 100mg ritonavir and 800mg indinavir is merck's idea of what they should use ( you can sort of understand that they are hardly impressed with the 400mg bid dosing.).
On day two, Thurber decided the house was his, so when it was eating time, he boldly walked past the little cat with a big hisssss. ("Get out of the way, kid, ya bother me...").On the name front, we've been calling the new kitten Binky. (I think we started calling him Binky because Stephen Bienskie is in town and because, like everyone else, we have a schoolgirl crush on Stephen.)That second day, Thurber tried to make friends but Binky rared back to take control. Thurber avoided him by staying in the bedroom. On day three, Thurber let Binky know right off that he was in charge and the little one began rolling over showing his belly.
But that's only his nickname while he a baby. His "cat name" is Scamper and his real name is Steinbeck. Are you following this?
His highness began to soften but he wasn't going to just throw himself into anything. And now on day four, they're at the point where Thurber sees Binky as a plaything and they're running all over the house like a couple of maniacs.
THE REAL BINKY!
Friday, Kim and Ronda and Jimmy and I saw the "real" Binky, who came here with his pals Anthony Galde and Peter Somethingorother. Binky threw his arms around me and we hugged so tightly I thought we were both going to pass out.
They all came back to the apartment and we showed them videos of the original workshop and took pictures of Big Binky with Little Binky. Needles to say, I'll get them uploaded soon.
We also talked about the new production of TLS. We showed them the floor plan from the set designer, Don Gruber. We have way more space than we did at the 47th Street Theatre. (It's starting to feel so real!)
Right now the theatre is working out the contracts with Bob Stillman, Amy Coleman and Stephen Bienskie to bring them out from New York.
The role of Jim will be played by P.M. Howard, who played George Harrison in the Broadway production of Beatlemania. P.M. is a great guitarist/bassist, so we'll be adding more instrumentation to the production.
The role of Tryshia has not been cast yet due to a hold-up in the mail, causing a bunch of resumes to be delayed. But we do have at least two brilliant singers who have already auditioned.
Anyway, please keep my pal Ghost in mind. He's at Cedars Sinai again today and really ill. I'm worried for him. Thanks.
Saturday, July 11, 1998
Ghostly Fire.My pal Ghost had been quiet for four days. Last weekend, I washed his laundry. But when I took it back to him on Monday, he was strangely quiet; and then I didn't hear from him for four days. Finally, Friday he called to say he was at Cedars Sinai and could I bring him his laptop.
So today, Saturday, I had two things to do: Go see Ghost and attend a little release party for Alan Satchwell and the (former, now dissipated) Heaven Bound Sound choir. I haven't seen most of them since they sang "When You Care" with me at the Troubadour just before we took off for New York a couple of years ago.
It was a very hot day here. I put shoes and socks on -- first time, really, that I would be wearing them on my toe for an extended period of time -- and drove off forgetting my wallet. So it was back to the house where I actually just wanted to strip naked and get into bed.Keep this to yourself, it's kinda personal but people have been telling me they think I'm depressed. I don't think I'm depressed, but I've felt impatient, unproductive -- anyway... the point was I didn't feel like such a nice guy today. Everything was annoying me.The party was in Sherman Oaks, so I drove up Ventura Blvd. right into a traffic jam. With the heat and my bad attitude, my mind kept trying to figure out how I could keep from having to do anything today.
I pulled up to Karl's and, of course, I was an hour early. (That ruined my plan of making a quick appearance, running off to see Jerry and then home.) So, I resigned myself to the fact that this was going to be a long day. I'd go over the hill, deliver the computer and then come back to Karl & Lorna's.
Cedar Sinai Hospital is in Bevery Hills adjacent. The buildings all have big dedications on them. The Stephen Spielberg Childrens Wing, the Gracie Allen Parking Lot. I swung into Gracie's lot. The price was $1.10 for each 20 minutes. I had $4.00; good for about an hour.
I parked, crossed the dusty street past the valet parking, past the emergency room entrance to the front desk where a guard informed me I had the wrong room number. Ghost was in 5218 CCW -- the cardio intensive care ward. He directed me to the second elevator, "...then go to the 5th floor, look for a phone bank, pick up the phone labeled 5200-5300, and get permission to enter."
I found the elevator, pushed 5, waited and then passed through a portal that led to a huge cavernous, empty waiting room. At the center was long empty reception desk with a line of identical Princess phones. Jack Nicholson in The Shining. The phones were labeled 5300 and higher. No "5200."
The card said, "Pick up and listen for dialtone." So, I picked up 5300-5400.. It rang. And kept ringing and ringing.
From my left a little creaky voice spoke up. I had walked right past her without seeing her. She picked up her cane and walked towards me suggesting what a different person had done at the phones.
I looked at her with a big smile and said, "I'm just going to start walking until someone stops me." And off I went down the sparkling clean completely empty hallway.
After a couple of twists and turns, I saw a big metal door with glass windows labeled "5200-5299." I looked through the glass and saw a big circular room with a workstation in the center. Like spokes on a wheel, the individual rooms all faced into the larger one where I saw three Asian people in surgical blues crouched over some paperwork.
I tiptoed in and, second door on the left, I saw Ghost. He was propped up in bed with about three IVs, a plastic oxygen mask over his nose and mouth, eyes wide and helpless. I stopped and looked at him, shaking my head with a, "...well what have you got yourself into this time?"
I brought in his laptop and put it on his tray. We called in the male nurse -- who eyed me suspiciously -- to plug in the phoneline. I started up the computer and Ghost tried to type, but he was so weak, he couldn't even get the mouse to move using the touchpad.
His glasses were so smudged, he couldn't see anyway, so I washed them in the sink and gave them back to him. He tried to talk to me and was pointing to his head but I couldn't understand him. He was too weak and the mask was muffling what little he could mutter.
I stayed for a little while, but I realized I didn't belong there. This was not a visitor ward and more people were eyeing us. Finally, I told him my parking was going to expire and I had another appointment to make.
It was frustrating that we couldn't communicate so I just said, "Please try to get better."
He looked up at me and we searched each others' souls for just a moment. He pulled the mask down and whispered, "I'm really scared."
My eyes started to itch and I responded, "Me too, buddy boy." And I reached over to his scarred arm looking for a place that didn't have a scab or a needle and I touched him.
"I want to survive this," he said.
"I hope so," I said. "love you."
He nodded back. I slipped out, made it back down to my car with just enough money to pay the parking, and drove back over the hill and back up Ventura to Karl's.Later this evening, after I was back home, Ghost called me. This time I could understand him better. "I have a brain aneurysm. They couldn't see it in the MRI so as soon as a room is available, I'm having surgery."Anyway, to back up, after I left Ghost's room, I went back to the CD release party and saw Alan Satchwell -- it's been over a year since we saw each other. I hugged a lot of necks, and listened to their CD. It's remarkable how beautifully he was able to mix his church choir with his R&B pop instrumentation.
He said, "Would you do me a favor? Would you ask people to start a prayer circle for me?"
I said, "Honey, I'm already ahead of you. I mentioned you in my diary and I've already gotten notes from people who are praying for you."
Then I heard a sharp, "Oh!" from him. "They just stuck me with a needle," he said. "Some kind of pain killer."
Then he just stopped talking. So, I went to the Discussion board and put a little notice.
Sunday AM: I just called the hospital to check up on him and the nurse said he was not aware of any surgery, that Ghost's primary problem is respiratory. It's possible Ghosty was confused or I misunderstood. But this was news I was grateful for.
Alan also plays trumpet lending a distinctive sound to the whole. And he included "Father," written and sung by Fritz, a young mutual friend who has been living a very difficult life. The pain in Fritz's vocal performance is chilling.
Alan also has a great tenor voice, by the way. That's him on the fourth verse of WHEN YOU CARE on the Bonus Round CD ("...When a hand reaches in the darkness / when a hand touches you in the darkness...").
He now the music director at a large church in Santa Ynez. This was a bittersweet reunion for them because after Alan left Sherman Oaks a year ago, the Heaven Bound Sound choir broke up.TLS FACTOID: Alan Satchwell read and sang the part of Buddy in the very first informal living room reading of TLS. He didn't get the sheet music until our meeting that afternoon because up to that point the plan was for me to sing all the songs. I was rewriting as we went along, so on the video you can hear him singing and suddenly making up words. I had whited out the "old words" and had forgotten to write in the new words.After I got home I remembered we had some old video of our first rehearsal. It would have been so perfect to play for them. But I wasn't really thinking very clearly today. Ghost is sick. Dickie's sick.
But getting the chance to just sit and listen to the beautiful voices singing on their "finally finished" album was very healing.
There are certain ailments for which music is the only effective treatment.
Sunday, July 12, 1998
Jim's Sunday Sermon 2.Jim Brochu was raised Roman Catholic and therefore the idea of interpreting the Bible literally, like my Baptist brethren do, is foreign to him. So when one "literalist" told him to start reading his Bible, Jimmy took him at his word and now we have Jimmy's literal interpretation of the Bible. The religious world will never be the same.
I apologize in advance to every creature on earth.
PART 2: CAIN AND ABEL.
(OR NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED)
When I was a kid, we played a game called "Telephone." Ten or twelve of us would sit in a circle, then the moderator would whisper a sentence into the ear of the first kid who would whisper it in the ear of the second and so on until it had traveled around the room. When the last child said out loud what he had heard, the results were usually hilarious.
What started out as "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy red dog" ended up as "The sick clown vomited up the lousy roast pork." Not even close and slightly absurd.
Didn't the Bible come to us in much the same way? But instead of a group of people playing telephone together in the same room, scholarly men with strong personal beliefs - sitting centuries apart - told the stories first in Hebrew then in Greek then Aramaic then Latin then German then English. I think something got lost in the translation.
Except for His admonition not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God didn't specify any other "dos" or "don'ts." There are no regulations in Genesis as to what pleased Him and what didn't. He didn't give the ten commandments to Moses for another couple of thousand years and so all those who came before were playing the game of life without having been given the rule book.
If Adam and Eve ate the fruit that was suppose to give them the knowledge of right and wrong, it seems they got a dud apple. Aside from knowing that they were naked, they still didn't seem to know what was right and what was wrong. They were learning as they went. Still, it seems that they were doing their best to keep peace with the parent/landlord that had evicted them from their model home.
Although it's not specified anywhere in the Bible, Adam and Eve got the idea that God liked things sacrificed to him. It dimmed the thunder on the mountain whenever they had a barbecue and so they started burning animals without preparing any condiments to go with them. Eve thought of animal sacrifices like a smoky Father's Day card to remind their creator that they were thinking about Him.
Soon, Adam and Eve had two children, Cain and Abel. When Cain and Abel reached their teen years, Adam told his sons that they would have to take up a profession since there were no schools - math wasn't invented yet and there was no history. Adam reminded his sons that God already had the jewelry and fur businesses locked up, so they would have to choose something else.
Abel told them that he wanted to be a veterinarian/butcher because he loved to take care of animals and then eat them. Cain had a natural green thumb and thought he'd do best as a farmer/baker. It also says that he had a vineyard, so soon after the creation of the earth, God said "Let there be wine."
Eve approved of her sons choices of professions and told them it was the perfect combination. They would always know where their next meal was coming from.
Now Cain is working in the field one day and he's thinking about God and decides he'll send him a smoky greeting card to say he's thinking of Him. He's a very enterprising young man who is anxious to please. So Cain gathers the best of his harvest and offers it to God.
Abel sees what Cain is doing and becomes the copy-cat little brother he's always been and offers God his best lamb. The moral of this story is two-fold: First, God is not a vegetarian and clearly prefers a roast leg of lamb over toasted corn flakes and, second, He plays favorites. Not only does God not like Cain's sacrifice, he gets angry about it. It really ticks him off.
Cain is very confused about God's reaction. After all, he was only doing his best and was trying to please. He goes to talk it over with Abel who gets that bratty attitude again and starts chanting "Ha, ha, God likes me better."
Cain reasonably thought that a) if God prefers meat over grain and b) He prefers Abel to himself and c) Abel is basically meat - then in order to please God, he should turn Abel into a Hallmark and kill him. He cared enough to send to very best.
Wrong again. God has been watching the whole episode on his security monitors but when He confronts Cain, he pretends like He doesn't know what happened. Cain can sense that God is miffed, so he tells God that he doesn't know where Abel is."Gotcha," says God. "You killed him."God, looking like Frank Morgan in The Wizard of Oz, tells Cain that since He lives in eternity, He gets his earthly time-lines confused. He admits He won't be etching out the commandments for another few millenniums or so.
"No," Cain pleads, "I sacrificed him. I thought you'd like it."
"But I told you 'Thou shalt not kill.'"
"When did you tell us that?"
"In the Ten Commandments," roared God.
"What's the Ten Commandments?" asks Cain.
"The ones you got from Moses.
"Who's Moses?" Cain said, scratching his head.
Cain pleads with God, "How can I obey a law that doesn't exist yet?" He explains he was only doing what he thought God liked. Cain had seen God kill animals and use their pelts for haute couture. He had seen people kill animals to please God, so he just figured that God liked to see things killed. And, besides, if God liked lamb he'd love Abel.
God tells Cain that ignorance of the law is no excuse and curses him to live a life as a fugitive and a vagabond. He throws Cain out of Eden-Adjacent and into the Land of Nod.
Meanwhile, Adam and Eve don't seem to know where their two sons have gone and don't seem to care very much. Since they were smart enough to figure out that making whoopee resulted in a new person, they decided to have a little fun and populate the earth at the same time. Along came Seth.
Now back in Nod, God's curse on Cain seems to be having no effect. Instead of becoming a wanderer and a vagabond, Cain started a real estate development firm and built a housing project named after his son, Enoch.
The population and economy in Enoch City were booming since a decree came down (it doesn't say from who, but I'll bet it was a man) that a man could have as many wives as he could afford. God did not object to this (Gen 4:19) as His dress business was doing well with stores in Nod, Eden-Adjacent and Enoch City.
Now here's where things get a bit confusing in terms of genealogy. Genesis says that Cain had a son named Enoch and Seth had a son named Enosh. That makes Noch and Nosh first cousins. Then it goes on to say who they each begat but when it comes to the end of the genealogy, it says that they both begat Methuselah who begat a fellow named Lamech. Lamech was the inventor of polygamy and no matter if he came from Cain or Seth's side of the family, Lamech begat Noah and then things really turned sour.
When I hit Chapter Six of Genesis, I had to reread it several times. I even went to a few different translations to see how they all treated it, I was so perplexed by what found.
I started reading the King James Version put out by Robert Schuller called "The Possibility Thinker's Edition." Every so often a passage is highlighted in blue which gives the reader a "can-do" encouragement, almost as if Stewart Smalley put out an edition of the Bible with "Daily Affirmations" pre-underlined.
I then switched over to the Jerusalem and the Revised Standard versions. Even between the three English versions, the meaning changes with the translation, but in chapter six, they all agree - God saw everything He made and decided He had made the mistake of His eternal life.
If you add up the years that each person lives in the lineage between Adam and Noah, it totals 8, 423 years. All that time people are populating the earth - a fellow named Jubal starts the music industry (Gen 4:21) by making harps and lutes, the tentmaking industry is doing very well and the world is going along very nicely. It says nowhere in Genesis that God said anything for over 8,000 years. It's like He got bored with the whole thing and wasn't even keeping up on His monitors.
Suddenly, after 8,000 years he looks down and sees and sees mankind and sees only wickedness. All day and night. Wickedness. I looked up the word in the dictionary and was surprised to find that it meant "innately evil." According to that definition, we are born evil rather than choose it as a lifestyle. How can God create something that is innately evil?
What is a day like for someone who is innately evil? I guess you'd get out of bed, do a few hours of lying and deceiving, embezzle for lunch, then spread some good gossip, cheat with your best friend's wife, kick an old lady, rape a cousin or two and then knock off a policeman before turning in for the night.
Men and women were doing what comes naturally, acting the way that God had created them to act - as human beings. God told them to increase and multiply and gave them a pleasurable way of accomplishing the task. Then he become a prude and seems embarrassed by the process. Everyone on earth has let Him down and He decides to start all over again.
This brings us to Noah and the Ark. Noah didn't have a rule book either but God took a liking to Him. That makes me believe that Noah was a descendant of Enosh, Son of Seth, rather than Enoch, son of Cain because God still hadn't forgotten about the Abel incident.
NEXT: NOAH, CAPTAIN OF THE FIRST LOVE BOAT
© 1998 by Jim Brochu from the upcoming book, FORGIVING GOD. AFTER ALL, HE'S ONLY HUMAN.
Monday-Wednesday, July 13-15, 1998
Phone Calls & Intensive Care.GHOST:
I spoke to Ghost yesterday and it was clear that his pneumonia was beginning to let up on him. He had more energy in his voice and he said they would be moving him out of intensive care soon.
As soon as I know his room number, I'll post it here in case anyone wishes to send him flowers or something. He was VERY excited that Bonus Round readers were asking about him and praying for him. If anyone wishes to write a little note to him, put it on the Discussion Board and I'll print it out for him. He really is alone except for just a couple of friends -- myself and his old pal J.D.
Ghosty has a long way to go before he is healthy again. And he needs all the encouragement he can get. Sometimes he loses the will to fight. And though I get in there and give him pep talks, anyone who has ever faced an illness knows only the patient can make that decision.
What I'm telling you, reader o' mine, is that your concern has meant a lot to him. He's a good guy despite the fact that he's the most aggravating person I know. :-)
Again, write a note or send an email and I'll give them to him.
These days I'm fielding more and more requests from smaller theatres wanting information on whether they can produce TLS at their places. The answer is always, "YES! Just call Sam French and ask for a sample script." (They'll know who Sam French is...)BTW: We're still waiting for word on when the music book will be finished and in your local music store. Meanwhile, go to your local store and ask for it, telling them that CHERRY LANE is the publisher. Cherry Lane is probably the largest distributor of theatre music books in the country so they'll know who to ask. Let's get that demand up so Cherry Lane will feel compelled to move it!!Many of the theatres say the same thing: "Our theatre has a conservative audience and we usually run pretty 'safe' material. We've been wanting to introduce something with some 'issues' but it's really difficult to find a small cast musical that does this and can still be accepted by a mainstream audience."
I told the man yesterday, "Look, my mom and dad are very conservative Christians. I wanted them to be able to see our show without wincing."
He said, "We have a woman close to us who is HIV positive. She said she went to New York last year and saw every single HIV-related piece -- and she said yours was by far the best."
He was especially happy to hear TLS needs only five characters, one set, few costumes, etc.
(Jimmy and I knew when we began this enterprise that having a small cast would make TLS more produceable, but what we worried the themes of the play would work against us. NOT AT ALL. These smaller theatres are BEGGING to find issue-related material their audiences would enjoy.)
So I zoomed over to the website for this particular theatre and saw that their seasons were full of 4 to 5 character musicals that were basically comedies using songs from the 40s or 50s -- one even used cowboy songs from that era. I didn't know these pieces (many were put together by local writers) so I can't comment on their quality, but it looked that these were pretty safe little revue/musicals designed to offend no one.
(I'm not saying that's a bad thing, just describing what I saw.) And why do we need 'issue-related' material???? Look at this:
In another random telephone survey of 1,712 American adults, UC-Davis psychologist Gregory Herek found that 55 percent - an increase of 7 percent since 1991 - believe the AIDS virus can be transmitted from a shared drinking glass. That represents 15 years of ignorance or disbelief in health educators and scientists who have repeatedly cited proof that the lethal virus perishes outside the body.
55% of these people thought they could get AIDS by sharing a drinking glass? Oh, yeah. I do think TLS has a long road ahead of it...
Thursday, July 16, 1998
Bitchin', Moanin' & Groanin'.Oh my gawd it's been hot here in the El Lay Territory. Not as bad as it's been in Texas, I'm given to understand, but we're up over 100 degrees F. and yesterday when Jimmy and I went out for groceries, it felt like we were driving through a microwave.
And just as an aside, our neighborhood Hughes supermarket -- and, it seems like every other grocery store in near us has turned into a Ralph's. And if you don't want your food prices to rise, you have to sign up for a Ralph's card so they can track everything you buy.
What's very irritating is that slowly many of the things I liked are disappearing from the shelves...
(And while every market is turning into a Ralph's, all the drug stores are turning into "Rite-Aid." What is the deal with misspelling the word "Right?" If you ask me, I'd MUCH rather go to RIGHT AID than RITE AID. How can I trust them to give me the right meds if they can't spell their own name??)
But that's not what I'm really upset about today. I'm angry over some advertisements in USA Today where the so-called Christian Right is trying to make Reggie "Mexican people are amazing because they can fit so many people into the same apartment" White a hero.
The ads are full of outright lies. (I didn't know Christians were supposed to lie.)Quote: "The truth about the non-genetic roots of homosexuality... and how nurture, not nature, is the real cause of homosexual behavior."You hear that? They are accusing my parents of making me gay. Then why do I have three heterosexual brothers? There is NO scientific evidence that being gay is caused by bad parenting. In researching some "exgay" sites, they state that homosexuality is caused by a distant father, an overbearing mother and lack of affection in the home.
Given the fact that my parents were both attentive, close, responsible, moral, loving, and caring, what do these phony "Christian" liars have to say to that?
These ads were not designed to help gay people They were designed to raise money for politicians. I find it most distressing that sincere conservative Christian people are being used and manipulated and lied to by their own leaders.
On public radio today, on a show which features conservative, liberal and middle of the road commentators, ALL of them agreed that these ads came as a result of polls done by politicians who discovered they could raise a lot of money if they couched their hate in the language of love.
Sorry to be going on and on about this, but really! This upsets me greatly and I take it personally.
Which is why tonight was such a relief. I went down to Genghis Cohen and heard my old pal, Kevin Fisher sing. It was a release party for his band NAKED TO THE WORLD. It was joyous. Especially because the opening act was Jill Knight who I adore.
I sat in the back with another old friend, Jim Matlosz (a cameraman/filmmaker) and his 6-month pregnant wife. She and I traded stories about nausea.
And once again, the healing power of music began to wash out the sickness of lies and evil manipulations. Kevin has an honest, loving and joyful spirit rare in performers these days. Hell, it's seems rare to find those elements anywhere in these days of culture wars and immoral leaders.
Sing on, Kevin! Sing on.
Friday-Saturday, July 17, 1998
Weekend Mailbag.Steve, there is no way, absolutely none, that you can ever bring common sense, humility and Christian love to the religious masses. They are not happy unless they have a "cause" to go after. Before the "gay" issue, it was abortion clinics that they were were harassing, and before that, they were fighting amongst themselves as to which church was better. these are the same breed of people that blow up little kids in Ireland, and then justify it by saying the mom was a sinner cuz she was living with a catholic man.I couldn't disagree with you more. If we start treating Christians as if they are all a bunch of hate-filled bigots then we have already lost. When I picture a "Christian" in my mind, I picture my family. I do not picture "Protestant terrorists" and I certainly do not picture Pat Robertson or Gary Bauer. The latter two are politicians.
Look, for my international readers, here's why the Political Religious Right (PRR) is making such a big deal out of the gay issue right now:A few months ago, the leaders of some major Right Wing Religious organizations told the Republican Party that if they didn't start paying attention to their issues, they would run from the Republicans. (This is all documented).I just hope the Christians at home are not swindled yet again by the immorality of their own leadership. It makes me very, very sad.
So the Republicans, knowing that the midterm congressional elections were coming up, got their polling guys to find them an issue that the PRR supports that wouldn't offend the general public. Polling showed that of all the issues, the issue of gays is the one that would get them the most votes.
Their polls also showed that if they used "the language of love" in their ads, rather than just attacking their perceived "gay agenda," they could make a stab at gays and still not appear hateful.
So they went to Exodus International, an loose umbrella that refers people to local "exgay ministries" and fashioned ads that merely stated that "all gay people could change their orientation" and that theirs was "the real truth" about homosexuality.
The ads were carefully calculated to get media attention and get the gay community angry. And it worked beautifully. Now Christians at home, who do not follow ANY of the subtleties of this, think there is a huge attack on Christianity by the gays. In fact, the gay groups are making the point that families consist of all kinds of people and that even gay people can love God. (But this point will not be heard.)
What will happen in the real world is that gay kids will get beat up and killed or ostracized by their families because it appears that Christians and leaders in Washington condone gay bashing and hate. For political ends, lives will be sacrificed and families will be torn apart.
And that's the truth. You read it here.
Ghost has been moved back to the little Hollywood Community Hospital, 6245 DeLongpre Ave., Hollywood, CA 90028. He's in Room 507. His email address is email@example.com. He'd love some get well messages. But he won't be online until Monday probably.
I spoke to him this past week and, as usual, he's causing havok among the nursing staff. I keep telling him what my mama always told us, "Be sweet." "Be the best little patient in the hospital..." He just hates it when I tell him this. I read some of the notes that have been posted on the discussion board to him and he cried on the phone.
Sunday, July 19, 1998
Jim's Sunday Sermon #3.NOTE FROM STEVE: Taking the Bible literally presents many problems for people who stop to really READ it. When I was a young Baptist, we never really noticed any contradictions, just accepted everything on faith and let it go at that. Well, Jim Brochu, was recently told to read and accept the Bible literally and this is his attempt to describe exactly what he found. It is not intended to be sacreligious. He is using the actual verses and honestly reporting (with tongue only slightly in cheek) exactly what's there. If you don't like it, maybe it's because YOU haven't been reading the Bible. Please feel free to write us with your comments.NOAH - CAPTAIN OF THE FIRST LOVE BOAT
In H.G. Wells novel, The Time Machine, a Scottish scientist fashions a device that hurtles him 802,000 years into the future. There, he liberates the childlike nation of Eloi slaves from the bondage of their masters, the all-powerful Morlocks.
In order to build a new civilization, he climbs back into his his time-hopping sport's coupe and scoots back to 1894 in order to retrieve three books from his library. At the conclusion of the novel, Wells asks his readers, "Which three books would you have taken?"
I always thought the protagonist came back to fetch "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare," A Dictionary of the English Language" and The Bible. (Today, I myself would bring The Odyssey by Homer, The History Of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant and My Most Personal Beauty Secrets by Kathie Lee Gifford. The future must have fashion!
If the hero of The Time Machine brought The Bible back to the Eloi, he brought it to a people who had never heard of God, had never experienced religion, and because of the hypnotic spell cast over them by their masters, weren't too sure what mankind was either.
Reading the Bible from the Eloi's point of view, as one coming to the story for the first time, God reveals Himself as an entity who wants to be feared rather than loved.
In Genesis 6:1, God looks down upon the earth and sees nothing but corruption and wickedness. The year (according to the ages of the generations) is about 8,500-9,000 A.C. (After Creation.) It seems that God has been totally silent for all this time and the only rule he's given man so far is don't eat the fruit from the tree. He has never once said "Don't kill, don't hit, don't steal don't fold, staple or mutilate." He is silent with His approbations but He does give to man two affirmative directives: a) be fruitful and b) multiply. (Genesis 1:27)
God hasn't been watching his monitors because when He tunes back into The Earth Show some 8,000 years later, He is appalled by what he sees - violence and wickedness (Gen 6:12). We all know what violence is. It's a tangible thing. But what is wickedness? If it's sex, then man is only doing what God had told him, nay commanded him to do.
Wickedness couldn't be defined as stealing since everybody was related to each other back then - first, second and third cousins - and you really can't steal from family - right?
It's coincidental that I had just come back from seeing the very loud movie "Armageddon" just before reading the Noah story. Total destruction of the human race can be a provocative topic. But not once during the film did anyone suggest that man had become so evil that God was pitching a Texas-sized boulder at them in retribution. It seems that sometimes catastrophic destruction just happens.
But God's destruction of the earth by water, as told in the story of Noah, was a well thought-out and meticulously planned act of vengeance. In fact, God commits premeditated mass murder. But His creation was acting exactly as it was supposed to. And because man is behaving the way God programmed him to behave, He decides to destroy them all.
Why? Why is He punishing his creation? It's like a delusional toy maker holding the doll responsible for not being pretty. Why doesn't He punish Himself for the mistake, or just walk away and start over with another galaxy? And if He decided to really start over from scratch, why didn't He wipe out everyone including Noah and replace the population with a new and improved model of man?
In Genesis 9:20, we get a glimpse into the character of Noah. We find that Noah has his own vineyard and likes to drink. In fact, he's quite a tippler. And when Noah gets drunk, his favorite thing to do is to take off all his clothes and sleep in the nude.
Considering that the desert temperature hovers around a hundred and twenty four at night, this is not unreasonable. But knowing that Noah was inclined to sleepwalk, his sons try to cover him up. Noah doesn't like this. He's hot, loaded and starts cursing them out. So if this was Noah's behavior, I guess the rest of humanity must have really been something. It proves that my sainted grandfather was right, "God loves babies and drunks."
Now remember, God hasn't said "boo" in 8,000 years and there was no organized religion yet to keep his memory alive through formal worship. Some people have heard of this mythological creator of the earth, others don't quite remember. To most people, He was just "The Big Voice" telling people not to eat fruit.
So Noah is having a few cocktails after work one day when The Big Voice says, "Noah. I like you you but the rest of mankind really pisses me off so I'm going to kill everybody except you, your immediate family and a representative sampling of flora and fauna. I'm going to send a big flood to cover the earth and I want you and your family to build a great big boat."
Now, if I were Noah, I would have quit drinking on the spot. He must have been scared out of his wits. Can you imagine going home to tell Mrs. Noah, "Honey, you'll never guess what happened today." Mrs. Noah didn't believe that her husband had actually heard The Big Voice but perked up considerably when she caught the part about "going on a cruise."
The Big Voice is very specific about how and of what the Ark should be made. The measurements were 300 cubits long by 50 cubits wide by 30 cubits high. Looking up "cubit," I found it was a measurement of length equal to a man's forearm. Given that, the Ark was approximately 600 feet long by 100 feet wide by 60 feet tall, making it look like a puffy barge.
God tells Noah to use a certain wood. (Gen 6:14) My three Bibles each cite a different kind. One says gopher wood, one says resin wood while the last says cypress. The wood is to be strapped together with reeds and then covered with pitch inside and out. There is to be one door very up high on the side and a little window at the top.
So Noah tells his three sons - Shem, Ham and Japeth - "Let's get cracking!" The three sons, who aren't the most productive kids in the world, are sitting there with their mouths open because their six hundred year-old, alcoholic father has just told them that they had to build a boat the size of the Royal Viking Princess all by themselves.
The neighbors got a huge kick out watching Noah and the boys build a boat, knowing that the nearest body of water was at least 40,000 cubits to the West. In the meantime, the women have been gathering the animals when The Big Voice comes back to Noah and says, "The flood is coming in seven days. Take seven each of every animal and food enough for you and the gang." Noah wanted to say, "But you said two (Gen 6:19) and now you want seven? (Gen 7:2)"
Now, if you take the dimensions of the ark, considering the three decks, the total living area is about 60,000 square feet. It may be a palatial number even by Beverly Hills standards but when a family of 8 has to share the public rooms with 14,000 four-legged animals, 14,000 birds, leaping lizards, snapping crocodiles, fornicating scorpions, peeved rattlesnakes and a few hundred thousand bugs, it can get a little cramped. After a month the cabin fever was at the boiling point and the smell was hallucinogenic.
Then The Big Voice told Noah to get everybody on board because he was about to destroy the earth. God made the earth I suppose He could destroy it if he really wanted, but my biggest problem with this story is the way He did it.
Since I've been a child, I've always had an inordinate fear of drowning. I learned to swim because I never wanted experience the sheer horror of feeling your lungs fill with water as your body spasms, realizing that there is no hope. And to hold your victim's head under the water increases the terror to Pirandellian heights.
Couldn't God have just erased the slate in some other way? Couldn't he just de-materialize all the people of the earth except Noah and his family? And why did the poor animals who got left behind deserve such a fate? The only species unfazed by the flood were the fish who were being fruitful and multiplying under the seas.
The Big Voice went to a lot of trouble to kill people and He does it in this story most sadistically. Drowning is a cruel way to go and it's almost as if God held the head of every human under the water while Noah went sleepwalking around the Ark exposing himself to the gnus.
The Bible also gives the dates of the flood and the Ark's itinerary. According to Genesis 7:11, the flood starts around the year 9000 After Creation on February 17th. It rains for 40 days and 40 nights and then the rain stops and they float for the next seven months.
At this point (Gen 8:1), it says that God remembered Noah. Does that mean God wiped out all of mankind except for eight people, flooded the earth and then the incident slipped his mind for five months? I can picture Ed Wynn as Uncle Arthur in Mary Poppins, laughing on the ceiling and saying, "Dear me. I seem to have forgotten something. Hmmm, what could it be? Oh, nothing important I guess. Just the earth." So anyway, God remembers Noah and makes the flood waters start to recede.
On July 17th (Gen 8:5), they have a stopover at Mount Ararat, but the waters don't officially start receding until October 1. When Noah looks out, all he can see is mud and dead bodies. He's between a rock and a hard place - the rock being The Big Voice and the hard place being his wife who isn't any too thrilled about the way this luxury cruise turned out.
She is at her wit's end after being cooped up for seven months with the Bronx Zoo. She had long gotten used to the smell of the dung of 20 thousand moving creatures and their ever hatching-offspring, but it was the constant mooing, baaing, honking, snorting and screaming that was driving her out of her mind. She wanted off.
It says that the earth didn't become dry enough to walk about on until the 27th of February of the next year (Gen 8:14), so all-totaled Noah and his family spent one hundred and ten days on The Loathe Boat.
When Noah gets off, He remembers that The Big Voice is fond of barbecue and cooks himself up a few cows and turkeys. God catches the smell (Gen 8:21) and comes over to see Noah. The Big Voice tells Noah that he enjoyed the barbecue and wants to make a covenant with him. Can you imagine how Noah felt?
It would be like an old gangster movie with Humphrey Bogart as The Big Voice collecting protection money. You're the poor sucker living on a nice quiet street in the suburbs - pretty house on the corner- you like your neighbors and they like you (maybe there's a few you'd like to see hit by lightening) - but mostly it's a nice neighborhood with no problems.
You're sitting in your house and Humphrey Bogart knocks at the door and says "Hello, I like you but I don't like anybody else on the block and so I'm going to destroy everybody but you."
Before you can answer, all the other houses explode and your next-door neighbors fly past you like pieces of shrapnel spinning toward an unsuspecting oblivion. Everything is gone and you are alone. Bogie turns and says, "Now, let's make a deal!"
What are you going to do, say no? But we make this deal out of fear and not love. God behaves in such a way that He doesn't care if you love Him, only that you fear Him. It works. What can Noah do? He says, "Sure Mr. Big Voice, sir, let's make a covenant."
In Genesis 9:4, The Big Voice gives Noah two more rules. The first is not to eat of the animals with blood in them. (Back in Eden, He was against eating fruit and now He has a problem with meat.) I'm not sure if He's saying not to eat meat at all or just to make sure that it's well done.
The second rules is "don't kill other people." (Gen 9:6) This is the first we've heard about it. Maybe God wouldn't have had to kill so many people if only He had given this rule a little earlier. That being said, The Big Voice says, "Now be fruitful and multiply!" Yikes! Isn't that what they were doing that brought on His wrath in the first place. Here we go again!
To make a nice end to the story, The Big Voice gives Noah the rainbow as a sign that He will never destroy the earth by water again. He leaves the fire and brimstone option open but no more floods. (Gen 9:12)
Noah and his family look at the rainbow and feel filled with a sense of pride and wonder, knowing that five thousand years into the future, the colors of the rainbow will make a marvelous flag for a disenfranchised minority group.
© 1998 by Jim Brochu from the upcoming book, FORGIVING GOD. AFTER ALL, HE'S ONLY HUMAN.
NEXT: NIMROD, ABRAHAM AND THE UNKINDEST CUT OF ALL
Monday, July 20, 1998
Oh, Those Darn Cats.LATE FLASH!
The new Tryshia for the Laguna Playhouse production is Michele Mais. She has a TERRIFIC voice with an astonishing range. From the very moment she came into the room an auditioned, she carried herself like a star. I am so excited. The Laguna production, with the additional instrumentation and the new voice, is going to be even better than the New York production. I hope you can come see it. It opens Sept. 17 and closes Oct. 11.
Also, next week Jimmy and I are going to be photographed for the front cover of the Orange County Blade!
Meanwhile, this past weekend we met with Barry Fasman, my old pal who produced my Bonus Round CD. He's going to function as Musical Supervisor and help us integrate the bass guitar on all the songs. Barry was so impressed with Bob Stillman's musicianship and voice, as is everyone. (Can you tell I'm excited?)
We also met with a theatre producer here to talk about moving the Laguna production into Los Angeles after the run. No promises. Just talk. But that's a good start.
Jimmy doesn't call the new cat "Binky." He says there's only one Binky so he calls him by his real name, which is Steinbeck. And now he's got me doing it, too. It just seems so funny to call this tiny helpless thing a huge name like that.
It's been greatly rewarding watching "Steinbeck" and Thurber together. Right now, the little one is just wild, swatting at everything in sight. Thurber will come up to him to sniff him and Binky'll just rare back and start swinging. Thuber will put up with it for a moment, but then he'll finally grab him around the neck, throw him to the floor and squeeze him until the little one relents.
Ten seconds later, the baby is in there once again.
I was worried about it at first, wondering if Thurb was going to eat him or something. But in the past few days, the little one has begun lying near Thurber in the exact same sleep pose. They're beginning to form a little pride.
Jimmy and I have tried to assist but we look stupid lying in the floor all curled up in their positions. So they'll just have to do that part alone.
We've also worked out some playtime schedules. After they have their morning repast, I take the new toy -- a wand with two little pillows that bounce against each other -- and start teasing the little one racing all over the house. I love it when he rares up and falls over backward.
Thurber will watch me tease him with the toy, seemingly impassively, but then suddenly from the corner, a huge blur of orange will streak across the floor and grab the dangly bits when I'm not looking.
It's fun to see Thurber acting like a kid again. He'd been having some asthma problems and was acting very lethargic. But ever since the little one arrived, he's been way better. I think Steinbeck/Binky/Scamper is good for him.
In fact, when we got Thurber, we already had a cat a little older than him named Howard. Howard was one of the great cats. I don't think he ever took a swat at anyone in his entire life. Just a big old peaceful thing.
When Howard died a few years ago, Thurber was really depressed. He would go to all the spots in the house where Howard liked to lie -- and he would sniff around acting all sad and stuff. Having the new little one around has been really good for him.
This past weekend was a tough one. My grandmother back in Louisiana went into the hospital with congestive heart failure. My dad said she's all right now, and I wish I could afford to go see her. But money's tight right now and it's just not possible. They said she's doing a lot better, though. So maybe I can find a way to get there when I go to Texas in October.
Tuesday, July 21, 1998
Pills, Gout & A Broken Heart.DOCTOR DOCTOR:
Went to see Dr. Peter again yesterday. We were going to discuss whether I should change my protease inhibitor combo, remember? Well, I told him how through the net I had been able to speak to the actual researcher who had presented the studies in Geneva and we talked it through, deciding to leave things as they be.
Over the weekend, through a miscommunication with my pharmacy (NOT Rite Aid), I didn't have my diabetes pills. He responded, "Well, that gives us an opportunity to see what your blood sugar is without them." We tested and, sure enough, it was 187, which is high. So, now we know for sure that Steve has diabetes.
At the recent conference, more and more people are reporting high blood sugar from the protease inhibitors, so I'm definitely not alone. But at least I'm alive. Without them, I'd most definitely be dead. If you read Book One of this diary, you will see the whole story documented about how I was down to 135 pounds and near death (even though I wasn't truly aware of how close to the grave I was at the time.)
Last night I spoke to Herb Seamons, who is coordinating my appearance in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the Statewide AIDS Conference. He was looking at the picture I send around with my packages and asked, "Is that a bandage on your arm?"
"Yes," I replied, "at the time I was on an IV for 14 hours a day." Longtime readers will remember I was rehearsing and performing the first workshop of Last Session desperately trying to eek out a few more weeks of life. My whole goal in life at the time was to live long enough to see the show mounted.
Speaking of which, Jimmy has just had another massive attack of gout. It's an unbelievably painful condition in his foot where uric acid crystalizes and his foot swells up and he can barely walk.
I got a letter today that touched me very deeply. Since people over the years have told me similar stories, I wanted to share this one. The writer is a woman who describes a male (*Benny) college friend of hers, the first man she loved and was intimate with. Flash forward a few years, she's married but the marriage isn't working so she calls her old friend and:I spent my last weekend in Ontario with "Benny." I was broken and hurt and in more pain than I ever have been in my life. He comforted me, fed me, talked with me, held me while I cried. And while all this was happening, I never once noticed that he was not well. He looked a little more haggard than usual, but he had always lived hard, and I thought maybe it was catching up to him...I wrote her back, saying...
This was May, 1993. Benny died December, 1993 of AIDS. He was a two hour drive from where I was living (as he had come home, as I did, when he needed to) and no one told me...
I have been angry at myself for the last 5 years. How could I have not known? How could I have been so selfish, so wrapped up in my own pain and hurt, to not notice that someone I loved deeply was dying? .....you mustn't beat yourself up for NOT noticing Bruce's condition...when one is sick, it's a JOY to be able to comfort someone else... Having that wonderful moment with you, you couldn't have given him a more beautiful gift. Honestly. We [patients] get tired of people always having to do for us. That he could give you a moment of KNOWING love and tenderness must have been hugely lifegiving for him.I've said this before, but the best therapy for anyone, anywhere is to be able do for someone else.
Speaking of which, I made a quick trip to the hospital to see Ghost. He looked really good and we even took a ride in his electro-wheelchair. Now I want one for myself.
I was about to drive back over the hill when I took a detour to Paul Zollo's house. Leslie greeted me at the door -- she's so beautiful -- and then Paul and I went into his little cave-room and talked. Well, *I* talked. Don't know why I was so worked up, but I was just a mouth out of control. We gossiped about mutual friends like Dan Bern, who has a new album out on Sony --
(We were always supportive but jealous of Bern for being so damned talented and decided the best way to handle our jealousy is to claim that we and we alone discovered him.)
...and I told him how great Naked to the World's new album is, etc. Anyway, Paul and I reaffirmed that we were going to be rock stars ourselves this year, dammit!
Wednesday, July 22, 1998
If You're Auditioning For RENT...WHAT A DAY!
First I get a note from Martha and Gary Lare telling me that they are sitting in Cincinnati holding the vocal selections book from THE LAST SESSION! The one we've been DYING to see. I quickly called Hollywood Sheet Music and asked, "Do you have the Last Session music book?"
The man said, "Yes. We have it right here." I screamed, of course, waking Jimmy up. Then I called Ronda to tell her.
Then Ghost calls and says he's going home today. AND we are totally out of groceries. AND I need haircut. So, I finished up my emails and took off in the car to do our chores since Jimmy literally cannot move with his Gout Foot.
I opened the door to go outside and was hit in the face with a blast of hot air. HOT HOT HOT. The valley is burning up today, but I understand it's MUCH worse elsewhere in the country. I popped Naked to the World into the cassette player and took off.
First I zipped over to Lourdes, who is the only person I trust with my hair (and she only costs ten bucks!). She cut it perfectly as usual. Then I drove over the hill to find Hollywood Sheet Music but took a wrong turn on Sunset. So, I went south on Doheny, left on Santa Monica, through queertown to Ghost's place.
He looked great but still needed a little help getting into normal clothes. I also helped him vacuum a little and straightened up a few things. He's weak, but so happy to be home where he has computer access and his own stuff.
I got out the phonebook, found Hollywood Sheet Music and took off. My stomach was really doing flipflops thinking about the vocal selection book.
I also decided I wouldn't waste one inch of this moment which I had been fantasizing all my life: To walk into a sheet music store and see a music book with my name on it!
HOLLYWOOD SHEET MUSIC:
The theatre display had all the latest books lined up in stacks: TITANIC, SIDE SHOW, RAGTIME, CHICAGO, etc. and first in line? THE LAST SESSION.
The cover is red with the big yellow microphone dominating the graphic. The TLS logo is up in the left hand corner and just below it in white: Music & Lyrics: Steve Schalchlin. I thought, "My mom would be so proud." (And yes, Marie Cain, John Bettis and Jim Brochu have their names on the book, too, but they can write their own diary!)
I was literally shaking when I picked it up and thought, "Should I say something? Should I just get it and go?" But the clerk noticed that I had picked it up and remembered that I had called earlier.
I stammered, "Yeah.. uh.. this is my show. My first show."
Immediately the clerk (there were two others there, also) came over and said, "I love this score! It's beautiful." He almost choked up just trying to tell me how much it meant to him.
"Well thanks!" I said. "I can't believe I'm holding this in my hand. It's very exciting."
He said, "When the kids come in here who are auditioning for RENT, I tell them to sing songs from THE LAST SESSION."
I was totally surprised. "REALLY??? COOL!!" (I'm very articulate in these situations as you can tell...)
A woman came over and said, "Would you sign one for the store?"
"Sure! Are you kidding?" (Like anyone even has to ASK me!)
They gave me a big felt tip marker and I signed it to Hollywood Sheet Music. Then I remembered a trick Jimmy learned when his Lucy book was in print. (If you sign books in the stores, they can't send them back to the publisher in case they don't sell.)
I said, "Would you like me to sign the others, too?"
"Oh, yes! Would you?"
"Why, it would be an honor!" So I signed every last book at least guaranteeing THOSE sales. LOL.
I picked up two copies so I could give one to Ronda and took them to the check-out counter. The guy there huddled with the others. Then he came over and said, "This first one's on us." So I only had to buy one.
Back over the hill, it was fun walking into Ronda's office. I hid outside her door, stuck the book in and just wiggled the book.
It's been such a long road, even though the journey has only been a couple of years. Our frustration that Nik Venet died just before the album was released, forcing Ronda and Kim to either pay for it or let it die -- and our inability to attract a subsequent major record label, dissolved knowing that, at last, we have a music book that anyone anywhere can order.
Plus, the upcoming Laguna production will be bigger with more musical instrumentation, so that gives us a chance to reintroduce ourselves to a new audience.
As I sat there across from Ronda, I suddenly remembered back to the days when I would come into her office before anyone else got there. I would read her lyrics to songs that didn't even have music. "The Group." "Going It Alone."
And the two of us would just sit there a bawl our eyes out together. Truth is, without Ronda, none of this would have happened. She and Kim put all their resources behind TLS and though there are, and were, many people who made -- and continue to make -- TLS happen, it was our dear Mama Ronda who kept us all together and kept us true to our mission.
Thanks, Ronda. You're my hero.
Thursday-Saturday, July 23-25, 1998
A Letter.Every once in awhile I get a letter that knocks me out of my comfortable little chair because I get so caught up in the "business" side of TLS -- i.e. striving for publicity to help the show so that I am a part of helping our investors recoup -- that I lose sight of what it all "means." This comes from Rebekah on the RENT maillist, slightly edited for space.i've been meaning to write to you ever since i was at your midnight concert, but each time i thought about it i couldn't do it. but i think i'm ready now...I told that story, Rebekah, because it was true. I thought, like many people that I be scared of death. Like someone was pushing me to the edge of a cliff. But it wasn't that way at all. Now I know the truth about death because I went there, mentally, emotionally and (almost) physically.
my mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer when i was 5, and for the next 14 years it came back four times.
the first time i saw RENT was in january 1997. at the time my mom was half-way through her month-long stay at the hospital for radiation treatment for cancer tumors which lined her spinal cord. i had never seen anything that hit home as much as RENT did.
my mom was really brave, though, and neither of my parents used her illness as an excuse for regret or as a way to stop "living." in fact, i think my family made the most of our time together and much to my parents credit, always treasured the little things as much, if not more, than the big causes for celebration. for the next five months, RENT was my therapy, and i quickly started planning a way to get my mom to see the show.
i had tickets for the show and even wrote to the producers to ask for our own special meeting with cast after the show. we were supposed to go on Aug. 15. my mom, however, had other plans. on july 19th she died, and i felt like someone had taken my heart out and crushed it into a million pieces and then put it back together, but the most important part was missing.
then in december i saw TLS. i cried through every song and laughed through almost all the dialogue, and cursed you because of the emotional roller coaster i was on.
"somebody's friend" was like the story of my life. if one more person told me about a new diet or meditation therapy that would save my mom, i think i would have murdered them. we even got an anonymous copy of a magazine article about vitamins. it was weird how much it corresponded to my life.
in january i brought my sister to see it, and during "friendly fire" all i could think about was her. at the time she was tentatively diagnosed with lupus, and the number of pills she had to take was more then my mom ever took. what made it ever worse was that on our walk to the theatre my sister informed me that she was having chest pains like the ones she had had a month before, but she insisted on seeing TLS before going to the hospital because she knew that all they would do was give her pain medication.
so after the show i drove home to delaware faster than i ever have and we went straight to the emergency room. she was right--all they did was give her narcotic pain medication. and seeing the show was worth the dash home.
then TLS closed. i was so sad, because i had not had my fill. but then i heard about your midnight concert. i came with three friends who had never seen TLS and when we got to the party there were all these signs that said "private party," so as we were debating whether to go in or not, a priest opened the door and ushered us in.
you had just started to sing, and as the other three stood in the background, I went and sat on the floor with everyone else and was entranced by your songs.
the one part that really touched me was when you were describing how you came to write "connected." and you talked about how peaceful you felt when you thought you were going to die.
and at that point i was relieved and could cope with my mom's death. she was in so much pain at the end, and the night before she died, she was just mumbling and her whole body was swollen and the only thing she said that made sense was "i love you" as my sister and i left her room at midnight.
she died a few hours later, and until i heard your story i always worried that she had been in lots of pain until the moment she died. but when you described how peaceful and painless you felt, i felt so much better, because now i can imagine that my mom felt the same way, too. so i wanted to thank you.
i'm sorry that it has taken me so long to write to you, but i wanted you to know how your story and songs have helped me to come to terms with my mom's death.
RENT and TLS lover :)
Even as we speak, I am concerned for my friends Ghost and Dickie. Ghost, I've just been told, has been put back in the hospital because he is just not strong enough to care for himself, and Dickie has been told he might be in the late stages of liver failure (I just found this out).
None of us on the outside looking in can truly feel what our suffering loved ones feel, but I can say that at the end, God or Someone puts a peace in your soul. I regret that you had to watch your mom suffer, but I rejoice in the compassion and love you have learned and continue to practice. Thanks for writing this most beautiful letter to me. It means more than you know.
Sunday, July 26, 1998
Jim's Sunday Sermon #4.
THE STORY OF ABRAHAM:The story of Abram is referred to by biblical scholars as "The Great Faith Story."
HOW THE WEST BANK WAS WON
Being raised a Catholic, I accepted my faith unquestioningly and even entered the seminary to become a priest. There, they defined Faith as a contract between man and an unseen entity; an agreement with lopsided terms.
Abraham got land, money and children for agreeing to believe in a certain God; others believe their reward will come later.
While the story of Adam and Eve reads like a bucolic Thoreau-esque tale of beautiful gardens, primitive instincts and natural disasters, the Cain-Abel fratricide reportage is more reminiscent of Truman Capote's gritty "In Cold Blood."
But with the arrival of Abram and his clan, the Bible becomes a full-fledged episode of "Dallas" - a sprawling saga of rich land barons using sex and lies to increase their power and possessions.
And The Big Voice approves!
After the flood, the sons of Noah and their families head off to different lands to start different tribes. Japeth and his family head for the seashore, Shem (the "h" must have been silent since he became the father of the Semites) moves to the hills and Ham's family (The Hamites) go into real estate development and build many great cities.
Remember when Noah got loaded and was sleeping naked? Shem and Japeth go into the tent to cover their father but Noah wakes up and curses Canaan who had nothing to do with it.
Noah promises that Canaan's heir's will all be slaves to his brothers. The Bible teaches a great morality lesson here: Life is unfair and be prepared to get the blame for something you didn't do.
The Canaanites built the cities of Ninevah, Calah (famous for it's egg bread), Resen, Sodom and Gomorrah. From the Canaanites were descended the Philistines. It says that each of the tribes - the Japethites, the Hamites and Semites went each into their own country and each with their own language. (Genesis 10:4, Genesis:20, Genesis 10:31)
Just as the tribes get dispersed into their different lands, The Big Voice gets bored and pulls a prank. It takes a lot of extra-curricular activities to fill Eternity and sometimes I think The Big Voice had too much time on His hands.
(When my grandfather retired, he spent most his his free time being cranky and telling the kids on the block they were making too much noise.)
In the rapidly-growing city of Babel, one of the descendants of Canaan is a very enterprising young man who wants to build a special tower in order toSo The Big Voice hears all the commotion and decides to investigate. Instead of saying, "Oh, what a beautiful tall thing you're building! How enterprising, dear children. You've discovered progress! Kudos all around..."
1) Honor The Big Voice. 2) Let his relatives know where they can all get together and... 3) Show off a little and let the people of earth know that you can turn your ideas into reality if you work hard enough. The people of Babel are ambitious. They have a purpose and a goal. They build a tower to reach to The Big Voice.
He says, "Why you arrogant desert developers, how dare you to reach up to Me. How dare you aspire to new heights and try to make an honorable name for yourself. If you're capable of creating this then you're capable of creating even more marvelous things. And then you'll forget all about The Big Voice. Well, since you think you're soooooo smart, I'm going to play a mean joke on you."
The Big Voice decides that the punishment for aspiring to greatness is mass confusion. He takes the gift of communication away from man so that it becomes harder, not easier, for us to understand each other.
(Were the builders of Babel getting too close to heaven or too close to the truth?) On a positive note, mankind was able to turn lemons into lemonade by taking The Curse of Mass Confusion and inventing The Game of Charades.
In one of the great contradictions so far, the Babel story begins by saying that everyone on the earth spoke one language (Genesis 11:1). However, the previous chapter (Gen 10:4, 10:20 and 10:31) states that each tribe had it's own language already.
A few women are mentioned by name in Genesis but only as the wives of prominent men. None develop into full blooded characters until Sarai, the wife of Abram, vamps her way out of a tent to a saxophone solo of "Harlem Nocturne." The writer of Genesis was definitely heterosexual because he doesn't mention a woman unless she's a head-turner.
Abraham had two brothers - Haran and Nahum. Haran died leaving two children Milcah and Lot. Nahum married Haran's daughter, Milcah, his own niece and Abraham married Sarai, who must have been the most astonishingly beautiful women in the world.
She was well into her seventies, an age at which my grandmother's bra size was 42 long, but she had every camel breeder and tent maker panting after her.
By primitive desert culture standards, Abram was a very wealthy man, comfortable in his three thousand unit camel park, when The Big Voice says to him, "Let's make a deal!"
Even though The Big Voice hasn't spoken out loud since the flood a thousand years ago, the descendants of Noah know all about Him. They have handed down the story of mass destruction to each new son and daughter.
So when Abram, the Tony Randall of Genesis, hears The Big Voice for the first time, he recognizes it instantly as the same Big Voice that wiped out the entire earth just a few generations ago.
Abram remembered when he was a child and his grandmother would tuck him in and say, "You be a good boy or The Big Voice will come and drown you with the sheep."
So out of fear, Abram opens negotiations with The Big Voice and asks Him what he wants. The Big Voice tells Abraham that he wants Him and all of his people to accept Him as God. Abram didn't become the successful business man he is by accepting the first offer and counters, "What do I get out of it?"
The Big Voice says "Abram, if you put your faith in me, I will make you leave your comfortable home, wander the desert, and then sell your people into slavery for four hundred years."
Abram asks, "That's terrible."
"But you also get my blessing!"
"Oh, boy!" says Abram. "How lucky can you get."
"And,"The Big Voice adds, "I'll make you famous."
"Famous? I've always wanted to be famous," says Abram. "Let's Go!"
Abram, knowing that The Big Voice could rub them out at any minute, takes his wife, his nephew, Lot, Lot's wife, the whole camel park and goes to the land of Canaan. He doesn't question. He has faith. He's scared.
In their travels, they discover four kingdoms with four kings which indicates that somewhere between Noah and Abram, social structure has developed and the caste system has come into existence. The world now has kings and slaves with a working middle class to fill in the statistics.
Abram finds the promised famine in Canaan and decides that there's a lot of food in Egypt.
I guess there was a custom in Egypt that if a man had a beautiful wife it was okay to kill the schnook and take the wife. Being the brave soul that he is, Abram turns to Sarai (played in the John Huston epic by Ava Gardner) and says, "Look, baby. Even though you're seventy, you've got the body of a sixty-nine year old and when the King of Egypt sees you, despite the fact that he has two hundred nubile girls ages fourteen through twenty-eight, he's going to want you."
Instead of standing and declaring. "I love you, Sarai. You are my wife. I will not go to into Egypt even though there is a lot of food there and we'd be very comfortable, because the King will want you and my marriage vows are sacred," he says, "Lie! Tell everybody you're my sister (Yeah, that's it...my sister!) and we can have it all." (Genesis 12:13)
Sure enough, Abram and his (wink) sister arrive in the capital and the King of Egypt's eyeballs catapult out of his head when sees Sarai. Abram says, "Isn't my sister a dish? Take her, she's yours!"
Does this make Abram a liar and a pimp? Who am I to judge? Okay, yes I think this makes Abram a liar and a pimp but remember it was still before The Big Voice revealed his name and handed down the ten commandments.
At this point it was still okay to lie to the authorities and to arrange for your wife to commit adultery in order to steal the neighbor's goods you covet.
Continuity-wise, the Egyptians pose a problem in that they were totally unaffected by the flood that destroyed "the whole world." The Egyptians are not related to any of the generation of Noah and are represented as a civilization that's been around far longer then Abram's ancestors. So if The Big Voice sent a flood that destroyed everything, how come the Egyptians never heard about it?
After a while, Pharaoh starts to notice that there are some major plagues infecting his household and wonders what he did to deserve such a punishment? I wonder too. If The Big Voice didn't like the idea of Pharaoh fooling around with a married woman, then why didn't he send the diseases to Abram?
Pharaoh didn't do anything except get hot for a seventy-five year old desert rose.
Pharaoh learns the truth and throws his (wink) brother-in-law and the whole family out of Egypt - but not before he gives Abram tons of sheep, cattle, gold, silver and slaves as protection to keep The Big Voice off of his jeweled asp.
Abram and Lot have become like the Donald Trump and Merv Griffin of the Middle East. Their wealth is too vast for them to share the same land and so they decide to split up. Abram gives Lot the choice of lots and he and his tribe settle in the suburbs of Sodom.
Abram and his family take up a more leisurely existence on the plains of Hebron (still in today's news) and begin acting out an episode of DALLAS - full of illicit sex and big business deals.
The Big Voice comes to Abraham to continue negotiating their Faith Contract. The Big Voice promises that Abram will become the father of a great nation if he will change his name to Abraham for marquee value and orders him to make a big barbecue to seal the bargain.
I noticed that The Big Voice tells Abraham that he's going to start a great nation, and not a great religion. Religion needs rules, rites, regulations and the name of something to worship. Those elements are still missing.
Sarai, knowing she's slept with half of Egypt and still can't have a baby, goes to her slave-maid Hagar and says, "I want you to have my husband's child." Hagar agrees, and since Hagar is a hottie, the eighty-six year old Abram doesn't think it's such a bad idea either.
So Jock Ewing, I mean Abram, sleeps with Hagar and she conceives a child.
Now Miss Ellie, oops, I meant Sarai, gets very jealous when she sees Hagar prancing around showing off her big pregnant belly. She says to Abram, "I feel like beating that girl," and Abram says, "Go ahead, she's your slave. If you want to clean her clock, give her one for me too."
Sarai, endangering the life of the unborn child, abuses the woman to the point that she flees for her life.
Hagar gets safely away when an Angel of The Big Voice comes to her and says,"Look, you're the slave and Sarai's your owner and if she wants to kick the daylights out of you then The Big Voice says it's okay and you'll have to be a good little slave girl and take it.In one brief chapter, The Big Voice signifies his approval for owning slaves, using them sexually and beating them whenever you feel like it. And if a slave runs away from an abusive master, The Big Voice will send heavenly help to retrieve the ungrateful property.
"Now go back, get beaten up and have the baby because you are Woman. W-O-M-A-N. I'll say it again.
"Oh, and by the way, your child is going to be one son of a bitch who'll have the nastiest temper in the world. He's going to hate everybody and everybody is going to hate him. You'll rue the day you gave him birth. Now call him Ishmael and have a nice day."
Hagar gives birth to Ishmael and things are quiet for a while. But Abram isn't satisfied. He wants to leave the ranch to his own son and not the son of his wife's slave.
The Big Voice has been negotiating His contract with Abram since the beginning of chapter 10 and now He's ready to put it in writing. The Big Voice is saying,"If you believe in me, I'll give you presents in return." I'm sure Abram also had in the back of his mind that if he didn't make the deal, he would be annihilated like his ancestors.Now we come to the fine points of the deal and The Big Voice gives Abram the final wording of the contract before he signs it:Made on this 1st Day of April 11, 816 After Creation, between Abraham (THE BELIEVER) and The Big Voice (THE BELIEF).THE BELIEVER agrees to accept THE BELIEF in return for goods and services.Agreed to by both parties etc,....
1) THE BELIEF promises to give THE BELIEVER fame and fortune. He will be the founder of a nation and have a heaps of livestock, gold and wealth.
2) THE BELIEF promises to give THE BELIEVER a son named Isaac from the womb of his 100 year-old (but still beautiful) wife. In exchange, for this miraculous birth, Sarai will change her named to Sarah so it will sound nicer when the part is played by Ava Gardner. 2) THE BELIEF promises to give THE BELIEVER 's son Isaac many children which will make Abraham the father of millions. However, his oldest son Ishmael will not be part of this nation because, although he's a sweet kid and I bless him, he's a hot tempered wild man.
3) THE BELIEF promises to give THE BELIEVER the land of Canaan.*
*The Land of Canaan is currently owned by somebody else and, even though said tenants have lived there for generations and believe it's their land, take it back from them forcibly.
4) THE BELIEF promises to keep the nation of Abraham enslaved for four hundred years to test their strength and make sure they remember the Belief.
5) In return, THE BELIEVER promises to keep the name of the God whose name he doesn't know alive and to cut off his foreskin and the foreskin of all his relatives and slaves."
Abraham couldn't believe it. He's been negotiating this contract for years, they get to closing and there's a new clause? Abraham thinks it's so funny, (Genesis 17:17) he actually rolls around on the floor laughing.
When The Big Voice wants to know what's so funny, Abraham says, "What's funny? My hundred year old wife, who can't eat solid food any more, is going to have a baby and you want me to cut off what? You never said anything about cutting off body parts. I want a lawyer."
The Big Voice wants Abraham to mark himself to proclaim their covenant to the world. Couldn't he have found a more obvious place? I'm sure Abraham pointed out to The Big Voice that there were plenty of body parts above the waist that would drawn a stranger's immediate attention.
Wouldn't it make a better impression if the tip of your ear was cut off? Or the tip of your little finger? People could see right away that you believed in The Big Voice without having to expose oneself. Was Abraham such a flasher that God knew everyone would see his penis first?
The Big Voice wants every man born into Abraham's nation to greet the light of day with a knife to his crotch. Abraham goes back to his family with the old "Good News/Bad News" game.
The good news is that Sarah is going to have a baby - which she also finds fall-down funny (Gen 18:13) - the bad news is that all the men have to have their genitals mutilated.
But a bargain is a bargain and the Faith Contract is a done deal. The Big Voice got his people, Abraham got children, fame, fortune, land and a nation - while his descendants paid the price by enduring forever the unkindest cut of all.
NEXT: THE DESTRUCTION OF SODOM AND GOMORRAH - FILM AT ELEVEN
© 1998 by Jim Brochu from the upcoming book, FORGIVING GOD. AFTER ALL, HE'S ONLY HUMAN.
Monday, July 27, 1998
Stepping Out On Faith.Don't nobody better say nuthin' to my pal, Martha in Ohio today. She was up visiting someone in Akron and wanted to give them a copy of the Vocal Selections book from TLS. So she called the "biggest music store in the area." They hadn't heard of it, so she told them it was published by Cherry Lane Music.
The clerk looked it up on their computer and then loudly announced, "I'm Sorry. We don't sell gay music here."
Martha was so livid at this hateful bigot she didn't say anything. Good thing, too. That clerk wouldn't have survived.
PART OF THE SOLUTION:
Someone on my discussion board left an anonymous note telling me that I was being nothing but a whiny jerk who does nothing but complain about stuff. And others think I'm only making this whole gays/Christian thing worse by stirring people up and getting angry. So I have made a decision and I am announcing it here.
I have accepted the (non-paying) position of co-press spokesperson for Bridges-Across. The other spokesperson is a conservative Christian "exgay" named Tom Cole. Tom heads a Christian reparation ministry called Reconciliation Ministries of Michigan. I am Side A and he is Side B.
Before anyone jumps to any conclusions, I totally reject reparation ministries. I see them as completely wrongheaded on the issue of gay people, and even potentially harmful. But this is what Bridges Across is about. It's about reasonable people on both sides of an extremely volatile issue striving for a more peaceful and reasonable approach in the public forum.
This is a big step because I will now open myself up to more criticism, especially from gay activists who feel conservative Christians are the enemy. And the "Side B" people feel the heat from some conservative Christian groups who oppose even talking to gay people who "won't repent."
We do agree on some things which are outlined in the How We Agree document. Mostly we agree that we don't agree on much. :-)
Well, let those who oppose us scream. I am standing up for what I believe. Recently, PFLAG (Parents, Friends and Families of Gays & Lesbians) called for an open dialog with the conservative community. So, we are not the only ones who think this whole moral war is immoral.
Last week, I had a meeting with the Press Rep for the Laguna Playhouse and after I told him about the amazing miracles -- such as the woman who decided NOT to commit suicide after seeing the play -- that have come about since this diary went online and since we began performing TLS, he said, "Send a note to everyone and ask them if they'll share their stories."
So, now you've been asked. He is new to TLS so he doesn't EVEN know what he's stepped into...
Tuesday, July 28, 1998
Making Trustees & Jimmy Happy.Yesterday, Monday, Jimmy and I drove down to Orange County -- Laguna -- to do some promo stuff for TLS. It was a very hot day here in the valley and it was SO NICE to feel the ocean air cool us down after we drove through the little Laguna pass.
At the Playhouse we met with Joseph Amter, who edits the Orange County Blade, a highly regarded magazine. (And Jimmy and I are going to be COVER BOYS for their September issue).
We posed at a piano there and then went down the street to the Boom Boom Room and did the interview. Joseph is very intelligent and was really interested in the cross-cultural appeal of TLS. Also, Orange County is the home of Rev. Lou Sheldon, one of the leading hatemongers in the country.
(Their current issue has a picture of the good reverend with a big red NO sign across his face.)
Laguna is pretty. We were given a hotel room for the afternoon on the beach, so Brochu and I went for a long walk letting the water wash up over our feet. The sun was hot but the air was cool and it was nice to see so many families enjoying the surf and the sand.
That night, we dressed up because we were invited to dine with the Playhouse trustees (and spouses). I've never met theatre trustees before but they looked pretty normal. :-)
Some looked really wealthy, some didn't. What struck me was how much they seemed to really want to be there supporting the theatre. Most people don't know that it's difficult and expensive to provide live theatre and only a portion of the financing is supported by ticket sales. So, an active trustee board is a necessity.
This dinner was being held at the Laguna Hotel. The restaurant sat overlooking the sea. What a great view we had; well-dressed people at tables, and then behind them, the ocean with people out on the beach playing volleyball or surfing.
After we all got seated, Rick Stein, the Executive Director revealed plans for a new complex with added stages. Everyone oohed and aahed over the rendering; and then Rick introduced Jimmy. Jimmy told them a little bit about the play and turned it over to me at the piano.
Now, this would be the first time these folks would be exposed to TLS. Though we might have been a rather "tame" show by New York standards, here the show is a radical departure from the norm. I tried to keep it light be starting with "Connected" and I emphasized the humorous lyrics even getting few laughs.
Then I made a speech about doctors and hospitals, and ripped right into "Friendly Fire." (Afterwards they told me half the people in there were doctors.) I made them sing the call and response section ("I don't know but I been told...") with me, so everyone was happy and laughing.
Then I said something about the caregiver being the forgotten person in the war against AIDS and sang "Going It Alone." Half the women were in tears and the men didn't look all that strong either. *snicker*
We also met Craig Baumler, a composer from Houston whose show GUN METAL BLUES is also on the schedule this year. (We kept calling each other "..big ol' dumb Texans." What a great guy and WHAT A MUSICIAN! He works with the Houston opera and composes BIG stuff besides theatre. I also found out he was the composer of ENTER THE GUARDSMAN, which debuted in London last year and was nominated for an OLIVIER Award -- equivalent to the Tony.)
We had a magnificent meal. Well, actually, Jimmy was really cranky. He hadn't eaten much that day and his gout was really throbbing, and he wanted was a good meal. Unfortunately for him, the restaurant was a seafood restaurant and the whole meal was planned out with three different kinds of seafood.
His plan was to sit there and gripe, and then get Jack In The Box on the way home.
But I surreptitiously went up to the maitre d' and said, "Look, my friend can't eat fish [he hates it] or meat [his gout]. Haven't guys got some chicken lying around in the kitchen somewheres?"
He immediately said, "I think we can do something. I'll fix him a salad first and then go talk to the chef."
So, I went back to the table and sat. Soon, his unexpected salad arrived followed by a delicious grilled chicken plate.
(Keeping Jimmy happy is a very important part of being out in public with him. He not only CAN be a grouch, but he RELISHES the role of grouch.)
Then today, I spent nearly the whole day doing laundry in this unbelievably hot weather. I'm such a good boy.
CORRECTIONS: I misstated the name of Tom Cole's ministry. It's Reconciliation Ministry of Michigan. Also, the music store that refuses to sell TLS songs is in AKRON Ohio, not Dayton.
A number of readers were outraged when I told that story and wanted to know if they could protest this situation. Yes, you may. I don't have the name of the store, but it's the biggest one. "We don't sell 'gay music" indeed." Does this mean they won't sell anything by Sondheim, Jerry Herman? What about RENT? Do they sell that? How about Tschaikovsky?
Ay, the ignorance and the bigotry and the stupidity. Just when you think people are starting to get a clue...
Wednesday-Thursday, July 29-31, 1998
Stepping Out On Faith, 2.The other night we're lying in bed. It's completely dark. The room is silent and then suddenly I hear this tiny little sucking sound. (keep your mind out of the gutter).
Quick little baby sucks. Then I realize Steinbeck the Cat is nursing again. He'd found a little fold of skin just behind Jimmy's knee and he was just happily nursing away, keeping Jim awake. :-)
Suddenly I hear Jimmy: "Will you make him STOP??"
I start laughing. "YOU'RE the mama!! YOU'RE the mama!!"
Here's a letter I got from a young lady this week:Upon reading your page today I just felt like I should write and say that you are not being whiny about the bigotry issue, it's definitely something that needs to be talked about until it's resolved. Prejudice against the gay population is the last accepted form of racism.I haven't always spoken calmly and thoughtfully on this subject. I've vented a lot of anger on this site, as many have pointed out. Guess I decided to at least try to grow up. If I want respect from those who oppose me, then I must become respectful of them.
For example I know that people at my school use the word faggot often, now if they were to run around referring to black people as niggers, they would be in serious trouble with the administration as well as becoming social outcasts. Yet they can use the word faggot and only a handful of people seem to even realize it.
If everyone talked about it as openly as you do, calmly and thoughtfully we'd probably be able to reach a solution a lot sooner.
Sorry , If I rambled on forever, I just wanted you to know that most do people agree with you.
I don't know if you've heard of the horrific God Hates Fags site set up by Rev. Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church, but they openly state that God hates "fags" and they use this kind of abusive language in their CHURCH!
They are famous for picketing funerals of people who've died of AIDS with placards that state hateful horrible things. Anyway, last week they went to Minneapolis to picket some hate crimes legislation and about 30 of them stood outside and screamed things -- vulgar stuff I can't reprint here.
What was the reaction from the church (and the thousands of Christians) supporting anti-hate legislation? They set up tables with bottled water and food and gave these things to the hatemongers! They returned hate with love.
We can't stop people from hating in the name of Christianity. Their souls are already infected with hate and more hate. But right-thinking Christians repudiate this hatemongering and are sick that people like Fred Phelps and Jerry Falwell represent "Christianity" in the media.
I've already received some letters critical of my decision to engage and "fellowship" with conservative Christians who oppose what I believe about the gay issues, but I refuse to allow my site to be a hate site. Conservative Christians are welcome here. We might not agree on everything, but that's my decision and I'm standing up for what I think is right.
The one thing we can agree on is that no kid should ever have to grow up in a climate of hate. Every gay kid has the right to walk up to the school administration and demand that hate language and gay bashing be dealt with and stopped.
My friend Carolyn Wagner in Arkansas sued her son's school over this and the school board has now implemented a safe schools plan. Gabi Clayton watched her son kill himself over school-related hate crimes.
There are heroes emerging -- and they are moms and dads and kids who refuse to allow school administration to get away with saying it's all the gay kid's fault, blaming the victim.
By the way, aside from my work at Bridges Across, Jimmy and I have also accepted membership on the Board of Director of Youth Guard Services, an internet organization dedicated to providing gay kids safe internet maillists, free from pedophiles and hatemongers.
(Yes, I am just as much against adults taking advantage of young people as I am homophobes. Duh.)
Anyway, didn't mean to get into a rant, but there it is. Towards a safer and saner world. Amen.
[To be continued...]
Pictures of the Binkys!!
Jim and Little Binky/Steinbeck.
Steve attempting to eat Little Binky.
Stephen Bienskie ("Buddy" in the NY & Laguna productions of THE LAST SESSION -- also called "Binky" in this diary) with Little Binky.
Another shot of Big Binky & Little Binky.
Peeking over a pillow.
Thurber & kitty.
Crooked in Steve's arm.
A reader's cat makes a homepage for Little Binky.
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© 1998, 2000 by Steve Schalchlin