Archive for May, 2009|Monthly archive page

Summer Reading

Everybody hits the beach at least once during the summer. What’s more fun then sitting in a lounge chair with a fun book in your hands and reading as the waves roll in to shore and the sun basks you.

The Philadelphia Gay News offers a list of their top new books, their reading rainbow

Hollywood_Bohemians

Hollywood Bohemians

By Brett Abrams

Nonfiction

Although today’s Hollywood is decidedly different than it was in the early 20th century, one thing has remained true: Sex sells.

Abrams’ “Hollywood Bohemians” explores the growth of Hollywood between 1917-41, examining how some in the film industry challenged societal conceptions of gender. This fueled not only social change, but also Hollywood’s reputation as a place where sexual inhibition is not only uncommon but unexpected. Abrams’ work investigates how novels, films and mass media of the time gave extensive attention not only to gays and lesbians, but also to other such “bohemians” as cross-dressers, effeminate males, butch females, adulterers and others who strayed from the accepted gender concepts of the era.

“Hollywood Bohemians” provides an extensively researched analysis of the history of Hollywood, tracing how sexuality became the ingrained component of the movie industry that it is today. The book details the evolving Hollywood culture — from the movie sets to the nightspots to the parties — focusing on the gender expectations within those environments and how the wave of bohemians drastically changed that landscape. Abrams highlights such stars as Tallulah Bankhead, Clark Gable, William Randolph Hearst, Cary Grant and Greta Garbo, performers whose carefree perceptions of sex and sexuality — and the manner in which their lives were portrayed in the media — paved the way for the increasing risqué nature of Hollywood.

Abrams’ work is written in a way that proffers plentiful scholarly research but also taps into the public’s continued desire to uncover all facets of Hollywood stars’ private lives. It would make an excellent addition to a film-history course, but is also an insightful and intriguing read for anyone bedazzled by the sexual abandon in the American movie industry.

Sex Romp with Terrorism

The next installment in my reviews for the DC Gay Lesbian Film Festival is Clandestinos, a Spanish movie from 2007.

Three juveniles escape prison in a mean spirited way that one can even see them as effective anti-heros. Our main character is driven to renew his efforts at terrorism in Madrid for Basque separatism.  While his two friends find young women for a little sex lark., the lead terrorist sells himself as a rent boy at a Madrid shopping mall.  (And I went to all the tourist sites on my visit two years ago).

A daddy set our lead on the path for the Basques and the daddy who rents him will see this error and try and rectify the situation. A blown up flag pole and a shoot out later, our three amigos are back in detention. No frets though as the two women cheer their two boyfriends’ efforts at fut ball (soccer) and our main man well–absurdity is the only possible description.

Look here for a similar but more in-depth review of Clandestinos.

American Idol, Lesbian & Gay Music & Hollywood

Like many others, Adam Lambert’s loss on Tuesday spurred thoughts about eyeliner, gayness and cultural acceptance. Two friends commented that they “were not surprised, just as they would not have been surprised but were disappointed, as they would have been if McCain had won the Presidential Election.

 My own cynical response was, thank God he doesn’t have to crow that he’s going to Disney World and Lambert doesn’t have to sit on the hood of Ford’s latest model and shill. However, seeing a guy in blue eyeliner posed across the hood of the car a la Michelle Pfeiffer in the Fabulous Baker Boys would have been a cultural watershed!

My friends clearly thought Adam lost due to his image vis-a-vis Kris Allen’s Middle America, teenybopper appeal. Republican strategist Todd Harris went on CBS’s The Early Show the day before the vote and framed it in terms of red and blue states. He argued that “You’ve got these more liberal elites who live on each coast, represented by Adam, and then Kris represents what those on the coast refer to as the flyover states.”

 This response made me more intrigued by Out Magazine editor’s Aaron Hicklin’s opinion piece in the Washington Post’s Sunday section this morning. Hicklin noted the continued existence of the closet in the worlds of Hollywood and in the entertainment worlds. Certainly, there is significant truth to this. Despite the actions of Ellen Degeneres and Rupert Everett (who he does not mention) and Clay Aiken and Elton John in the music sphere, there are limits to the number of people who have exited the closet and some real and perceived constraints constructed by both of these industries (note the homophobic questions that James Franco faced about men kissing in Milk when he appeared on talk shows.)

However, I was disappointed by the article for a few reasons. With this platform, why not take the opportunity to discuss some of the many people in the industries who are out? Rufus Wainwright and Pansy Division may lead the parade, but check out this website.

What does consistent focus on repression and oppression symbolized by the closet do to readers? Wouldn’t a focus on this variety of out performers found on the above website actually provide new and informative news to that audience?

I thought the article’s reference to politicians such as Larry Craig, was an intriguing link about the Hollywood and Washington closets. However, it also made me think we need to be careful about who we consider gay, lesbian, queer, and someone who has sex with a member of the same sex. Doesn’t a person have to embrace the culture and lifestyle of queer to be queer? Similarly, to be lesbian, gay or bisexual? Isn’t such an acceptance a critical component of being and significantly different from craving a sexual activity with a person of your sex?

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Film Festival: Film Reviews

For fifteen years I’ve volunteered to rate a variety of movies that are receiving consideration for the Washington DC Reel Affirmations Film Festival. Although there have been clunkers over the years, I have seen many excellent movies and gotten insight into the GLBTQ from around the world.

Recently watched a movie set in Bristol, England about a gang and a member wrestling with his sexuality. Shank has romance, violence, friendship, betrayal, it was all there. Here’s a conversation about the movie I found.

Sports, Architecture Stadiums

Chad Seifried and Donna Pastore wrote an interesting article on Cookie-cutter sports facilities in Sports History Review.

From 1953 to the late 1980s over thirty eight baseball and football stadiums sprang up across the US. From St. Louis to New York City and San Francisco, these places hosted both baseball and football teams. DC Stadium, later RFK Stadium, was one of them.

President Kennedy at the All Star Game

President Kennedy at the All Star Game

Despite their hard concrete shell and sameness, these stadiums were significant economic boosts for the team owners and more comfortable for the fans. The numbers of concession stands and restrooms climbed over the old stadiums.  RFK Stadium compares somewhat down from the average in both categories.

RFK ranked in the top third for parking spaces but in the bottom quarter for both luxury boxes and club seats despite being in the middle in total capacity for baseball and football games.

As Capital Sporting Grounds shows in its final chapter, the construction of the stadium was not a simple proposition. The stadium took 37 months to build, nine months more than the average for the 38 cookie-cutter stadiums and its cost put it right in the middle.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Annie Hall 2009

Went to see  the world premiere of  The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall  last night and the show did not move me. One friend groaned when I mentioned the title, thinking of Borscht Belt jokes and watching an aging man chase young women across the stage. The show had the former, not the latter.

“In this new comedy,” press notes state, “neurotic young playwright Henry Blume is on a mission to turn his favorite Woody Allen movie into the next great American musical. Betrayal, infidelity and romance fuel his reckless pursuit of Broadway glory, turning Henry’s life upside down in this up to the minute, New York comedy about the perils of success in a notoriously cutthroat town.”

One friend loved the movie and thought he’d get a snappy 2000s version of it. The show lacked the intelligence that he saw in the movie.

I expected a reimagining of the movie and did not get that. The jokes were stale and the plot ended up being little more than a romance with a nerd.  The Post’s critic saw things differently. Here’s other views: from dctheatermania

New Video

My friend Tom Drymon created this book trailer for my baseball, football, bicycling stadium book.

Watch it at

Book trailers are a method to market in this web focused world.

There are about fifteen sites to upload these mini-movies to and its fun to see different ones and compare them with movie trailers. What have other authors found when they’ve used trailers?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Team Owners and Criticism

The review staff of the Washingtonian Magazine provided an interesting take on my Capital Sporting Grounds book.

Washingtonian_April2009

Washingtonian_April2009

They focused on the analysis of team owners from the fans and the media. They observed that the criticism of the Lerners  is not new. They noted that my book discusses the Hewetts, the owners of the first Washington Nationals in the 1880s and the complaints about their willingness to spend.

A post from last week fleshes out the Hewetts and their ownership woes.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]