Sunday, December 31, 2006

Waukesha Hotel & Bath House


I only recently came across this old postcard in my research of local history. The Waukesha Hotel & Bath House once stood on ground now occupied by two of Hot Springs' most recognizable landmarks. I'm thinking that the bath house may have originally been a hotel itself, named The Grand Central Hotel, before the adjacent Waukesha Hotel was built.
To the far left of the photo, one can make out the grey limestone face of the infamous Southern Club, now Josephine Tussaud's Wax Museum. The location of The Waukesha Bath House (the smaller structure on the right) is now occupied by the Medical Arts Building. Once it was completed in late 1929, the Medical Arts Building was Arkansas' tallest office building, and would remain so until the construction of Little Rock's Tower Building in the late 1950's. Notice in the photo below, you can still see the Waukesha Hotel next door.
I love the lines of this building. Aside from the boutiques at street level today, the structure remains, sadly, empty. Two newer medical complexes were built elsewhere in town, and as a result, the medical and dental practices housed here vacated and followed. I do recall stories about my ex-in-laws' good friend Tyler, who once lived in the two story penthouse back in the 1970's.
In 1960, the last remaining structure of The Waukesha was demolished to make way for The Aristocrat. How about that mid-century statement? First built as a hotel, it eventually was converted into apartments. Two of my favorite people that lived there were Stuart and Dottie Dobblestein. They were a sweet little Jewish couple who I've lost track of upon leaving the clinical setting in dentistry. Stuart, I'm quite sure, has passed away. Perhaps Dottie has too. I miss them.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Why all the Good Karma at the end of the year?

Perhaps I'm not alone in how karma plays out in my life. Maybe I don't see it with the proper perspective, but it seems that I have short bursts of either good or bad luck, with long episodes of normal life in between.

This has been an amazing last couple of days. I am ignoring the cold I have come down with, so that I can enjoy some of the good fortune that has made it to me as of late. But I can actually say that several personal challenges I've been pondering the past few weeks and months have worked themselves out.

Cheers!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I Awoke Early Friday Morning

3:28 AM to be exact. I never can decide if I am an early bird or a night owl. I find rare and sweet moments in both. Friday morning was to be no exception.

I had fallen asleep at the computer...again. I have a chair-a stylish black leather and chrome piece-which is likely more comfortable than a wannabe writer's chair should be. It would best be described as a reading chair, as I read there far more than I write, and have frequently begun a writing task there but likely never finish it. It swivels. It reclines. It has a footstool. And many times is more inviting than the king-size bed just across the room. I'll set the iTunes player on shuffle, place the keyboard on my lap, and I'm set. Many of my entries are written in this setting, and in this condition of being wide asleep.

Having dozed-off at what I'm guessing was around 8:30 the night before, I awoke surprisingly well rested. Going to the bed at this early hour would be absurd. So I got up and started my day: Sweats, t-shirt, hooded sweatshirt, an off-brand iPod strapped to my upper left arm and I was out the door for a one hour walk, with my fashionably red police-sized MAG LITE in hand.

Not a sign of dawn on the east horizon. Not a trace of a late-stage moon. Above me, only brilliant infinity. The celestial bodies glistened uncommon radiance that morning. Twinkling a quicker tempo than I usually notice. And the deeper into the darkened golf course I walked, the more mesmerizing it became. I felt like I was walking into space. Just enough light reflected from the stars for me to visualize the blacktop golf cart trails I walked upon, so use of the flashlight was minimal. Besides, I couldn't seem to take my eyes off of the amazing sight above.

I thought I might get a glimpse of the space shuttle passing by, but no. I suppose the sun was at too low an angle. However several planes dotted the north sky, oddly, all travelling to the West and all precisely spaced from each other. Odd to me, until I recalled several early mornings just like this when I lived in Memphis. It is at this moment above the Memphis sky, that scores of jumbo jets make their Westward exodus from MEM. I would often witness this from my 17th floor balcony in Bellevue Tower.

It was then that I realized that these planes I was watching carried only crew... and freight. FedEx planes. I imagined them stuffed to the gills with Christmas packages-boxes of Love-all making their way across the face of this tiny floating orb of matter. At that given moment, I could see four planes. I chose a destination for each of them: Oklahoma City. Salt Lake City. San Francisco. Tokyo. Corny yes, but something I've done since I was a child was to guess a plane's city of departure and it's destination. Just for the fun of it.

My generic iPod was shuffling through songs by Dirty Vegas, Telepopmusik, Moby, Depeche Mode & Queer As Folk-Season 4 Soundtrack. Every song sounded SO fabulous. It seemed that this playlist had been intended solely for an early morning, star-gazing stroll. More precisely, for THIS morning and for THIS moment. Cosmic, I tell ya! I felt the pulse of my very being was in beat with the pulse of the whole Universe, and that I was the only human priveledged to enjoy this wonderous moment.

I neared the turning point in my journey as my northerly direction slowly began to curve to the east. Belvedere's golf course has about two miles of frontage on Arkansas Highway 7, and it was there that I realized I shared this slice of time with others, as a Coleman Dairy truck whirred by on it's early delivery run, followed soon by an even longer and louder Budweiser truck. But I knew in my heart that these drivers did not have the chance to observe the wonders taking place above us.

All of the FedEx planes had passed over the horizon now. Not a plane in sight.

Halfway into my hour long walk, I noticed the unusually calm water hazard on the 3rd fairway. A medium-sized pond with gently sloping banks, I found myself at the water's edge to look upon it's face. No wind. Not a ripple on it's surface. It appeared to be a port into another world. Each and every detail of the sky above shown on the watery mirror at my feet. It gave the impression one would fall into the sky below if one were to step into it. What wonder and amazement! I was feeling as if I was seeing it all again through a child's eyes.

One final hill laid before me. That was all that separated me from my front door. The walk, the sights, the emotional experience I had just lived recharged my soul. I felt more alive than I had in weeks, and if anyone awake had the ability to see in the dark, they would have witnessed a free-spirited lip-synching walker making their way back home, eager to live.this.day.

Just steps away from my front door, I spied a plane in the sky to the south-southwest. It was headed to the northeast and being quite low, I immediately made my assesment:

Departed Houston-Arriving Little Rock.

I stepped inside my condo, looking forward now to the damp warmth of a well-earned shower, and to the remains of this day.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Alone for the Holidays

This is my fourth holiday season since my life made a drastic turn. The first couple of years, I was paralyzed by the solitude. All that had been crazy in my life had come to a warmly welcomed end, and was being enjoyed only by me. Random threats commonly heard by me made mention that my ex would not remain a member of the single adult world one moment longer than necessary. As a matter of fact, I relished the thought of my ex finally having a diversion from making my life a living hell. Another victim would be...could be... my ticket to personal, albeit not financial, freedom. I had always enjoyed the concept of 'being married', it just so happened that I had spent several years married to the wrong person.

It worked. Our divorce became final on March 17, 2003. She married husband #2 on March 18, 2003. Had our hearing not taken place so late on that day, I'm quite sure the new couple would have been able to file a marriage license just minutes after our divorce decree had been stamped and registered. Oh well, we all can make bad choices. Mine was getting married in the first place. Had I come of age in a less sheltered environment, perhaps I would have had the chance to see a better choice. Coming out of the closet post-divorce and in one's 30's sets into motion all sorts of regrets. Three kids in tow can make it even more complicated. But I'm slowly learning my own way.

I always thought that coming out would be one of the most freeing experiences I could ever do for myself. Personally, it was just that. Socially though, I've gotten a few scrapes. Hell, I should just be honest and say that I've bled quite a few times. Those were some of the lonliest times in my life. Even more lonely than much of my pre-coming out days. And I really wondered if trying to live in a way that was true to myself was worth the ever increasing amount of hurt that I was encountering by being a gay bachelor or part of a gay social group. Was it even worth trying to find a date? It's still a question I ask myself often. Sure, I'd think it was great to find someone who I could consider my best friend, but who could also fulfill the role of boyfriend, partner, and eventually...husband. But I don't hold my breath anymore. At least not continuously.

I nearly found what I was looking for. It was just over one year ago. I met Stanley. He was as genuine a man as I had ever met. What soon followed were several trips back and forth, whether via Delta Airlines or Interstate 30, between Dallas by both of us. Stanley had every quality I needed in a friend and boyfriend. At least every quality I needed immediately. Just before we had met, both of us had been through the typical emotional roller coaster of severing ties with our previous romantic interests which, unfortunately, he was more deeply invested than myself. I had just closed the doors on a one month old potential romance, but he was ending something of a much greater magnitude. We were each other's shoulder to lean on. We still are. I love him like a brother, and I bounce every problem I'm having off of him. It is a friendship I will always treasure. We're both so lucky that we saw fairly early that things between us could only go that far and romance was not in our cards. I really needed to find a friend like him years and years ago.

New Year's will be here so soon. I will be celebrating it just as I always do. Alone. And I doubt I'll even be able to stay awake. But that's okay. As much as I feel lonely, I also relish my solitude. I guess I'm still experiencing the burns from a bad marriage and a couple of bad boyfriends. It would take an awfully great date prospect for me to give up my usual New Year's routine.

I suppose it could happen.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

December 12, 2006

My calm day yesterday was no indication of the remainder of my week. Today was a very busy work day. 7AM to 630PM. I did take a break for lunch at 230, for 20 minutes or so. Tomorrow and Thursday may prove to be even more demanding than today, as I already have work piled up, and much more may come in. I'm beat! After getting a couple of errands completed, I didn't make it home until after 7PM. I then had to make a couple of calls. 8PM-Dinner. Thank goodness for 'cooking for the week'. White Chili. Homemade, and damn good.

I don't know why I'm writing again. Last night's entry was lame. Tonight's...even more.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday Monday

What a great day it's been. I cannot say anything extraordinary happened. I just felt such peace all day...and I didn't even feel guilty about not working-out this morning. I awoke at my usual 4:30, but rather than squeezing into sweat garb, I enjoyed a slow-paced shower (where I even sang this morning), made my bed, dressed and made my way into the laboratory thirty minutes early. I resumed my work exactly as I had left it on Friday, and by the time my co-worker arrived at her usual time, I had knocked out a full two-hours worth of work. I can't have angry dentists breathing down my neck. Or, at least I don't want that. Then as the day progressed, it seemed that every case I touched turned out wonderfully. Why can't all days be like this?

I had a great visit with the kids over the weekend. It was our first visit since they moved away. They really were thrilled to see me and be in their second home again, too. But no matter how long they stay away, I cannot seem to be able to tolerate Cartoon Network nor Nickelodeon any better than the day they left. Yes, I'd rather leave Food Network or HGTV playing continuously than to endure 'kid tv'. My oldest, Spencer, is just getting old enough to enjoy the new music of the day. It is really funny to see him react when I begin singing along with the radio to music from my day.

"Don't you forget about me, I'll be alone dancing you know it baby..."

"You're really scaring me" is a typical response. Then to let him have it, I'll turn the station over to KLEZ, and give him a taste of whatever is playing there. Usually, it's Frank Sinatra, Linda Rondstadt or Barbra...or something of that nature.

I've found that KLEZ is my usual station. I listen to it at work... in the car... as I go to bed. Oh my gosh, I sing to it in the shower too!

Am I acting too old for 37?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

This Space I Occupy

It's amazing to me how our brain can work out problems by itself and without the influence of our consciousness. My biggest dilemma as of late, has been finding a place I can consider my own. I'm coming upon the end of my current lease, and as much as I would love to find the perfect pad...I utterly despise the thought of moving yet again.

I am living in a condominium now, on the north-east end of Hot Springs. The Belvedere Country Club, which I can see just across the fairway, has a definite place in Hot Springs' colorful history. The setting is beautiful, quiet and safe...when not considering the occasional stray golf ball from the 18th tee just up the hill from me. I gather orphaned golf balls into a bucket on my patio, and it is growing at a surprising rate. Sadly, one of them was the culprit in shattering the back glass on my neighbors' new Acura.

I moved into the condo last February, along with my very good friend, Stanley. He had fallen in love with the setting immediately when we had driven by at the beginning of one of our many road trips. And when the lease on our previous home in the Quapaw-Prospect Historic District had expired, we made the transition to The Belvedere. I was glad to bid farewell to the $300 montly gas bill, but I was still a bit uneasy, as the condo just didn't feel like it was 'mine'.

For Stanley, it suited him quite well. Not too long before, he had made the transition to Hot Springs after being subject to the massive layoffs by Delta Airlines at DFW, and the condo was very similar in layout to his Dallas apartment of 18 years. What was quite different, was the city of 2 million just outside his door, and he would sit for hours either gazing out the living room windows or out on the patio, watching the golfers go by...or the tall pines sway...or the occasional squirrel or deer that had found their way onto the fairway.

For me, the story was quite different. I had lived in this same type of setting much of my life. I was intending, before Stanley came along, to finally make a move downtown. My ideal move would have taken me to a walk-up apartment above a store-front on historic Bath House Row & I wanted to feel the pulse of the street below. I wanted to know the feeling of being able to walk out my door and know that within steps, I could have within my grasp, many of the day to day necessities of life without having to get into a car. Even on days I didn't feel like walking or driving, a taxi or bus could take me anywhere in town I wished. Scores of art galleries, restaurants, nightclubs, coffee houses, cafes, my bank and a convenience store are all within a very close proximity of each other. Whenever I wanted to become one with nature...one of the country's most beautiful National Parks lay just across the street, laced with miles of hiking trails that extend up the mountainside and beyond the city-like park seen at streetside.

Soon after the move, Stanley unexpectedly returned to Texas, and I found myself alone in a condo ill-suited for my desires. I had already taken pleasure in replacing most of the 80's era mauve and blue wallpaper while he was still here. But, the kitchen still reeks of it, dah-ling! I just haven't had the energy NOR the will to invest my time in replacing it...so the remaining rolls of wallpaper still lay in waiting, in a box in the utility closet.

There are many things about the condo & the neighborhood that I do like. The master bedroom has to be as large as many studio apartments I've seen. I have four full feet on either side of a king size bed...and enough room at the other end of the room for a sitting area. The master bath, although without a shower, does include a mirror-flanked double Jacuzzi that is so large, it takes a full twenty minutes to fill. There's a working fireplace in the living room/dining room, which also has room for a dining table that seats six, two wing chairs, a sofa & a love seat. A full size washer and dryer are tucked into a closet in the hall that serves the 2nd bedroom and bath. And a kitchen so well planned, it more than makes up for it's outdated skin.

Most of the homes within the confines of The Belvedere are upper-middle scale, many of which are owned by transplanted retirees. This means that the neighbors are friendly enough to wave or say hello when you walk or drive by...but they'd never take it upon themselves to make "your business" their own. Nope, no Mrs. Kravitzes here! My neighbors within the condominium complex are a much younger set. Just above me is a simply delightful, newly divorced attorney and her 13 year old son. I was so flattered when she attempted to 'set me up' with a good friend of hers. Without revealing too much about myself, I only knew to say, "I really appreciate that, but I'm not quite ready to date just yet." I hate that she will be moving sometime next year, as she is building a new home, and it will soon be complete. I'll miss hearing her baby grand...she's quite good... and she always gave out popsicles when my kids were outside playing. I don't know my other neighbors quite as well, but we all get along nicely. The state police detective sometimes gives me the willys, but he's always been pleasant.

I've been stressed far too long about finding a downtown address. I have let it consume far too much of my free thought. I suppose that message was made clear in a dream that awoke me very early this morning. I will spare the details of driving a bicycle, nude, through the streets of my old hometown...but I will simply say that I was 'searching for a place to call home', and I was desperate. It is rare for me to have such a colorful and emotional dream, but it was a loud message from my subconscious. I heard it loud and clear, because when I awoke, I knew I had found closure. I have not felt more at ease here since that brief moment at 3:12 this morning. This is home for now.

Now, about that wallpaper...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Light A Candle

World AIDS Day is today. Even if HIV/AIDS has not reached into your world, take the time to click the following link. For each candle that is lit, Bristol-Meyers Squibb will donate $1. After your candle is lit, it will then light another...and another, until the screen is full of lit candles. For each candle, there is a story. Please take the time to read some of them. Thanks, Joe in AR, for the info.

https://www.lighttounite.org/

Monday, November 27, 2006

Happy Birthday Luke

Today, this little guy celebrates his 8th birthday!
Luke
l to r - 2yrs, 6mos, 1st Birthday w/ me

Luke

September 2006

I remember when this little guy, as an infant, would look at me without expression while I would change his diapers. Huge blue eyes looked upon me, just soaking it all in. I always thought he might be thinking "Who are you?". And within a few moments, he would look away and let out a big sigh. "Wonderful", I thought, "here he's just a baby, and he's already depressed about his life and his family!" Well, a few weeks into his very young life, he came alive and I haven't quite been able to keep up with him since. He's now one pure bundle of energy, joy and laughter. Whether he's happy or sad, you can see that he feels it completely...throughout every ounce of his being. And like I've mentioned before, he's the sentimental one.

Happy Birthday Luke. I love and miss you with every ounce of my being.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Becca


Today, I have had my mind on an old classmate. I remember Becca well. She was a Junior, I was a Freshman & we were both members of the high school speech and drama class.

I haven't seen her in years, but anyone who was a part of a high school thespian group knows what I mean when I say that we knew each other well. The class took on the feel of a second family, so to speak. By the end of the year and having been through countless speech tournaments, one act play competitions, a mid-year production and finally a very large year-end show, the members were even more tightly knit than when the school year began.

I'm searching the memory banks to see if I can recall exactly what Becca and I did together on-stage. I'm thinking it may have been Arsenic & Old Lace. Reader's Theatre is a given, as there were MANY of them. But gosh, it's been a while.

Yesterday, my sister was telling me about a story in the news that she had read a couple of weeks ago. Becca and her husband were out walking on a Friday evening with their two small children. All four of them were hit by a drunk driver as they crossed a street at a marked crosswalk. Becca and both her children were killed. They were living in Denver & many hundreds gathered for her_funeral.

Today, I've been kind of sad.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Craig IS Ian Fleming's Bond



After months of questioning whether the Broccoli Gang would EVER get their crap together & finally find a Bond for the screen that would live up to Fleming's concept, we finally got our 2.5 hours' worth of him last Friday. My boys and I loved every minute. Daniel Craig, 38, makes Brosnan, Moore & 'that other guy' look awfully wimpy. Hey, I loved Remington Steele back in the 80's, but Brosnan is NO Bond. At least no Bond of mine.

Is the Metrosexual an endangered species? I sure as hell hope so.

Craig has tolerable levels of 'suave', 'refinement' & 'articulateness' to still be qualified as a member of real men. What sets him apart even more is the natural grittiness we haven't seen since Connery. Ever since Sir Sean himself was retired from the role, the men that have been cast have always been, more or less, in Connery's shadow. It is likely this will also be the fate of those who will now come after Daniel Craig.

There was one scene in particular that I thought was very well done, and does Fleming's writing justice. The screenwriters should be congratulated. It takes place in a shower after Bond's gov't appointed chaperone witnessed three quick and brutal assasinations. Obviously shaken, she sits in the shower alone, fully clothed-and Bond comes in to check on her. I'll let you see it for you to draw your own conclusions, but the scene is exquisitely done. It stirred my inner yin and yang...and gave me goosebumps.

Frankly, I could use another 2.5 hours of Daniel Craig without the boys. Aside from obvious reasons, two bathroom breaks and one popcorn/soda refill can challenge even the most predictable of plots. Hey, I can say I read the book, but it's been ages and ages ago...so I need to fill in the gaps I missed.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Goodbye Letters

Friday, I picked-up my kids from school. Each of them had backpacks stuffed full, along with many other boxes and bags full of items from their lockers and desks. They would not be coming back to this school again. While I helped to load every little item that marked their presence at this school into my car, their mother and step-dad were hastily making the four-hour trip to close on what will be their new home.

My middle child is the most sentimental of the three. He will turn 8 at the end of this month. Once we arrived at home, he wanted to pop the trunk, so he could look through his things and show me something he thought was special. I went into my bedroom to kick-off my shoes and lie crossways across my bed for just a few golden moments, and he soon entered the room with his hands clenching these new highly valued assets. He then crawled upon the bed with me, and handed me -one by one- the handcrafted goodbye cards that were made for him by each of his classmates. By the time I reached the third card, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. They were beautiful.

Twenty-two sheets of construction paper in various colors, all folded, penned and illustrated by 2nd graders who appeared to be losing the favorite boy in their class. Twelve of them stated in one way or another, that he was their very best friend ever. But what touched me most, was the way these kids seemed to be able to say "Have a great life", and even though I know they must have felt a loss, they also seemed to be able to rebound and deal with the situation so efficiently.

"You have been the best friend I ever had. I hope you have a good life. I will always remember you..." Yes, that one really got to me. Yet the tension was broken upon opening the card to reveal the author's illustration of stick men, semi-automatic weaponry and military tanks. Most of the girls in the class drew un-happy faces...many with tears...but many also included happy faces, hearts and flowers upon opening them. As if to say 'on the outside this feels very sad- but you will have a good life and I'm glad I had the chance to know you'.

I was saddened to come to the final card. Upon reading it and folding it closed again, my son and I held each other in a tender moment. One that I will never willingly forget. And of course as soon as it had begun, it was over. He had been very sentimental, making sure to comfort Daddy 'just enough' and within seconds was outside on his bike...having the ride of his life. Again.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Drawing Lines #3

We have a gay brother in need.

Just weeks ago, Mike Jones risked his life and livelihood to come forward and out the most powerful force in American evangelism. To this day he still recieves threats upon his life, and his livelihood...well, let's say it has been stripped from him as quickly as Dobson ripped his support from Haggard. The nation's most prominent gay rights organizations have congratulated Mr. Jones for his courage, but as far as helping him with up & coming legal bills, et al, no help has been directed to him. He also cannot seem to find any support through prospective employment either.

Little did we know that Haggard's fall from Grace would have such an impact on the Religious Right...and the mid term elections. One of my favorite bloggers Joe.My.God. has revealed to us today of Mr. Jones' predicament...and has helped call all of us within this unique band of brothers to action. A Pay Pal account has been set up in honor of our unfortunate hero. One small act of kindness can change the world...it's a mantra I try to live by.

We can all show the Religious Right that they do not own exclusive rights to 'Compassion' nor 'Family Values'.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What Have You Done, Governor?

What have you done Huck, to make yourself proud?

Was it your venemous outbursts (we're used to them now) towards members of the media this week? They were simply asking for the details of you and your twice married wife's recent Bridal Registry at Dillard's and Target. We thought perhaps you and Janet were getting married yet again. It wouldn't be any more absurd than when you did it a second time. Oh wait, that was a grand-standing technique in light of the Arkansas Marriage Amendment, so you could prove that 'you could'...while dozens of both gay and straight protesters stood outside Alltel Arena on that Valentine's Day evening. It was rather pubescent, if you ask me. But we're used to that, too. Did you intend on being the first governor to help pen discrimination into the State Constitution? Does that make you proud? Really? Wow.

Has it been campaigning for president you've done for yourself while still being chief of state? All those air-miles flown on the state plane...to Iowa? Oh wait, that was because you wanted to get some name recognition during the mid-term elections. After all, you realize you'll have little chance, don't you? Perhaps if these friends that 'still owe you' after you leave office buy you a round of Anger Management Classes, rather than new china and silver, you may have a chance to squeak-by in the primaries. Of course, you have made members of the Arkansas Media your best worst enemies...so they'll follow you everywhere you go in hopes of getting you to turn into that nasty little pit viper we so often see. They'll only be showing everyone else the side of you that we already know.

Was it losing all that weight and penning a best selling book? Of course the book sales were plentiful and helped you buy that expensive new home in North Little Rock. Too bad you didn't put some back so that you could buy Janet the appropriate furnishings and household items, and not depend on the kindness of those who still owe you for political favors. I can imagine it is quite a transition to now have to pay your way.

As for the weight loss... I congratulate you. 100 pounds is a lot, and I am sure as heck glad that I don't have to see nearly as much of you anymore.

Getting Out"FOX"ed

Fair and Balanced.

Yes, let me hear yet another punch-line to that line of bullshit. Seems that one handy outside press 'insurgent' grabbed himself a copy of an internal memo at FOX News.

It's there for all to see...attack the Democrats for wanting to end the unwinnable war. Of course, to those who don't know otherwise, it's NOT a war. It's an occupation. And until the Dems can now uncover the real reason we went over there in the first damn place, W and Cheney... and Fox News will keep playing their same old tired card.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Brothers Klitschko

The boxing champion brothers, Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, if laid end-to-end, would measure 13'2". Look at those chiseled Ukranian features...

Vitali

& Wladimir, sigh...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Happy Birthday Chris

I had a wonderful evening out with two of my best friends. Chris & Mike. It seems it's been ages since we've seen each other. Chris is celebrating...and yes, I'm telling...#49.

They enjoy coming to Hot Springs, so we met at Brau Haus for dinner. To kill a couple of hours before going to Jester's Club, we came back to my condo and finished watching Arkansas' football team annihilate Tennessee.

Tonight was a fundraiser for Hot Springs' AIDS Advocacy, and we were happy to join in. What is it though, about the South and Drag Shows in gay clubs? This will forever be a mystery to me. We did enjoy the show, still. Several past Miss Gay Arkansas' were present...many of which are from Hot Springs. Mike and I attempted playing pool-doubles-with a couple of very friendly guys...who were also MUCH more practiced than him and me. It was a blast.

What was pleasing to me was to see so many non-gay folk amongst everyone else. Times are really changing.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Goodnight Jack


Jack Palance 1919 - 2006

Meet Kathy Webb




Arkansas' first openly-gay person ever elected to state office.

She is the new representative for Arkansas House District 37. Understandable, since this district encompasses Little Rock neighborhoods such as: Hillcrest, Stifft Station, Fair Park, the Medical Center campus, Normandy & the heart of downtown, north to The Rivermarket. Congratulations are in order for Kathy and campaign manager, Alice Lightle.

Kathy's popular_WestEnd_restaurant has always been a regular hang-out for the more progressive crowd. Gosh, I'm craving me some Hong Kong Chicken right now.

Get Those Red Drapes Out of Here....NOW!


I would imagine this would be Nancy's reaction to the decor of her new office by that "Republican interior decorator" the president made reference to in his address last Wednesday. Kinda looks like she's bout to hurl. You know, as if Double-U could even think that he has better resources for interior decorators than the Representative from San Francisco County. Please!!

And boys...we've GOT to get her a better mascara. Pronto.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Wright and Jones - A Timeless Friendship

Frank Lloyd Wright & E. Fay Jones - 1958 - Drake Field, Fayetteville, Arkansas

These two visionaries met personally when Wright guest lectured in Houston at Rice University for Jones' architecture students. The year was 1953, and Jones was invited to Wright's Taliesin-West for a winter workshop. It is there that Jones became a Taliesin Fellow. Many more visits between the two occured until Wright's death in 1959. In the photo above, Wright is Jones' guest, in touring the University of Arkansas and its School of Architecture, where Jones would teach for the final time.

Stoneflower Cottage

E. Fay Jones - 1975 - on Eden Isle, Heber Springs, Arkansas

The architect and his final artistic rendering.

A small airy cottage set upon a boulder-covered piece of woodland above Greer's Ferry Lake. Seems that in my research, I have discovered that this very unique cottage is for_sale.

I remember being in this house many years ago. It boasts only one bedroom, but the spatial aspect is breathtaking. The most unique feature is the bathroom, which is situated against the natural rock embankment...and the shower is actually a waterfall that cascades from high above. Quite a buy, in my opinion, at $350K. This home is on the National Register of Historic Places.

With a glance of Stoneflower, one can easily see how it influenced the design of Thorncrown Chapel, which was built 6 years later. Long, narrow and tall, it seems to defy properties of space and form to which we are accustomed.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thorncrown Chapel


E. Fay Jones - 1981 - Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Ranked #4 by the American Institute of Architects listing of the 10 most important buildings of the 20th Century & the most important building since 1980.

My first visit to Thorncrown was on a very serene and beautiful Autumn day in the early 1990's, and I was brought there by a longtime bestfriend, Daphne. Knowing the impact this experience would have on me, she and I sat quietly, and became a part of the moment. Even though the chapel was busy with other admirers silently coming in and out, the two of us sat there in the inner solitude that this work of art invokes.

In moments, I was moved to tears. It is one of those life experiences I allow myself to relive from time to time. Such inner peace!

The Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe - 1951 - Plano, Illinois

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My State Feels More Like "Home"

Although I did not vote for him, a Democrat will now be Arkansas' Governor. My candidate, Rod Bryan(I), did better than I had expected, and I was very happy to see his numbers as high as they were. His message was refreshing, his approach unique, and he "had me at hello."

Our Capital Office has been squatted upon for the last ten years, after Jim Guy Tucker (D) was indicted on charges during the ridiculous Whitewater smear. As many of us remember, Congress at that time took a gladiator approach in cutting down any susceptible party associated with the Clintons' rise to power, and that unfortunately included many that did not follow the entourage to D.C. Now, our soon to be former governor, Mike Huckabee, is aspiring to attain the nation's highest office...General Wesley Clark will try again, I am quite sure...and Little Rock will be set abuzz yet again by presidential hopefulls. I can't wait to see the former fat guy get chewed up and spat out. He's been so isolated here, and his ego is in need of deflation.

In other races around the state, Republicans lost every single bid for statewide office. The State House is now three-quarters Democrat, and only the 3rd Congressional District held onto a Republican incumbent. In that particular race, an unknown Democrat with little funding gave Boozman the biggest challenge he has ever encountered.

It is a good day for Arkansas. I am glad to have my state back.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

D.I.G. this...

Sample ballots appeared in The Sentinel-Record today, and by seeing them I am now more than ready to do my personal duty. From the looks of things, I'll be casting a D.I.G. ballot (Democrat, Independent & Green) Nothing like DIGing this GOP out of office! Upon changing my address on my voter registration a couple of weeks ago, I have learned that my new polling place will be "Tower of Strength Ministries". Ugh!....A Pentecostal church!!! Should I wear my HRC button? A rainbow doo-rag? ABearDidTerribleThingsToMe_t-shirt? Will the poll workers/church members set me on fire?

The registrar and I had a good long chuckle when we both reminisced that this church was once upon a time..."The Vapors nightclub slash dinner theatre" ...although I'm sure she was just awaiting my response to the fact that the building was now a bona-fide tongue-speaking, hand-raising, amen-brutha!, full-gospel evangelite worship den before we both mutually agreed how ironic it was for that to happen.

For those of you who are not familiar, The Vapors nightclub was once Hot Springs' place to see and be seen. The likes of Dinah Shore, Rosemary Clooney, Liberace, Phyllis Diller, Tiny Tim, the Smothers Bros., Bing Crosby, Patti Page, Angie Dickinson, Ronald & Nancy Reagan and Tony Bennet all shadowed the thresh-holds back in the day. But once the illegal gaming houses were finally shut down, the big money left and the entertainers had no reason to come back...and the club finally shut its doors for good in the early 1980's after years of struggling to find and keep an audience.


Funny...those globes and ovoid signage still stand...with a different name of course. And when I go inside to vote, I will listen & look for those echoes from the past. Maybe I'll hear a hint of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" while marking my ballot...but I'm not banking on it. All those ghosts are long gone.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Barcelona Chair


Designed for the German Pavillion at the Barcelona World Art Fair in 1929 , this_chair revolutionized modern furniture design. Nearly 80 years old, it is still modern by present-day standards. It served as thrones to the Royal Family of Spain.

Ludwig Mies van der Rhoe stated "It is almost easier to build a skyscraper than a chair." Being a fan of his work, I can more easily see his passion in works like this and in his residential works. Although wonderful, his skyscrapers don't reflect quite the same degree of genius.

Drawing Lines #2

What are Traditional Family Values? And why have so many independent thinkers allowed one group to assume ownership of this term?

I was born into a family that is as traditional as one could possibly be. My mother quit working outside the home when my oldest sister was born in 1963, and didn't resume until 1978, when I was in 3rd Grade. My father worked as hard as any willing man should, up until his retirement just a few years ago, and my mother will follow suit at the end of this year. I respect and honor both my parents for being such excellent role models. They deserve MUCH more than they are ever willing to admit. They taught all three of their children the most important lessons in life. And they did it with love. I grew up going to church, learning the value of education and hard work, and appreciating all of the blessings of a loving family. I know I certainly lived a childhood of priveledge, when compared to the childhood both my parents experienced.

My parents will mark their 50th wedding anniversary next year.

Now, I have a family of my own. I shoulder many of the same burdens of fatherhood that other men with children must carry. I am divorced, and though I no longer have sole custody of my children, I nearly leap at every opportunity I see, to spend time with those wonderful little souls. I never blink an eye when it comes to writing a check for over one-quarter of my net pay, made directly to their mother, once my nemesis, for my financial share in ensuring these kids' well-being. I never blink an eye at anything that is required for them, as I want them to have every possible advantage in life.

Do I emulate Traditional Family Values?

I know that I do. But many people would disagree.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Drawing Lines #1

As per the urging of O'Reilly, here is my first moral line drawn:

POLITICAL ADS SHOULD NEVER CONTAIN SCRIPTED CHILDREN.
Nader tried this tactic in 2000. Asa Hutchinson basically plagiarized the same spot in his bid for Governor of Arkansas in 2006. It is poor political taste. For Asa... !l'impair fait deux fois!

Children are cute, yes. But it is in their original frankness and astuteness that we find their endearing qualities. Give them a script full of political rhetoric, and the pureness is lost.

Spinning on Oprah



Bill O'Reilly appeared on Oprah today, and I must admit I felt compelled to watch. I wanted to know if the guy would be able to contain himself in front of an audience that had free access to an open mic. Although he didn't become the irate and toddler-esque persona of his usual self, he still spat out his short and narrow blurbs to those few who still want to listen. Get ready for a spin.

A part of the disscussion involved a few key points that I do happen to agree with: 1) As a whole, this is a very uninformed public. 2) Fringe groups-on both ends of the political spectrum-are attempting to hold our country hostage with their agendas. NEWS FLASH...THIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN HAPPENING! See the alarmist spin?

Mr. Bill states that the main problem with the cultural war we are experiencing in this country is the unwillingness of it's people to "draw a line and be willing to defend (your) beliefs," yet he claims that he is not a polarizing force within the public eye. See the personal spin?

Mr. Bill's FOX 'newscast' opens with graphics depicting his show as "The No-Spin Zone". That, in itself is "Spin". In my humble opinion, the spin is flying at near light-speed on his show (I can only bear to occasionally take it in short, small tidbits before I've had my fill) and can only appear to be spin-free to the extreme right-wing, and those who are easily swayed by his grandstanding tactics. And depending on how you look at it, the passionate right is either becoming less passionate or more realistic, because FOXNews is experiencing some of it's lowest viewership ever. Perhaps they are just in hiding. A couple of really good books slamming their cause can do that to any following. They'll be waiting in the shadows for '08, no matter how decently the DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS will treat their prodigy, Dubya.

Now time to draw some lines of my own...since Mr. Bill is of the opinion that we all need to do it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Countrysexuals Are The New In-Crowd

I'm not by any means a television critic...in fact, I don't watch much of it. But a new series I've happened upon as of late now has me as a regular viewer. MenInTrees. The general gist of this show: A psychotherapist and radio personality (Anne Heche) flees NYC and a cheating husband, to Elmo, Alaska. Pull "Northern Exposure" from the memory banks...make the transplant female and 90% of the town male lumberjacks...and there you go.

I realize it's not completely original, but I was ready for a new show on Friday night. Long gone are the days of Dallas, and not since has anything of quality aired in that time slot. ABC finally raised a whole generation of children on their cutesy-candy-coated family oriented run of TGIF* shows, and now the grown-ups can have a leisurely Friday in front of the tube.

In last night's episode, Marin (Heche) is visited by her sisterLiz from NYC. After showing her around the town, they end up in-of all places-the town's bar. Liz makes the following observation:

"Do you smell that? It's the smell of men and flannel!"..."I'm so tired of Metrosexuals-give me a good Countrysexual who just smells like he's supposed to smell...Like a man. And flannel!"

I was rolling in laughter.

*TGIF did include ONE show that I enjoyed: Hangin' With Mr. Cooper.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

My Two First Best Friends

I don't often bring my two sisters to tears, but this poem I wrote about them in 2003 did:

My Two First Best Friends
We are born into our world
We develop and we grow.
Make friends from our acquaintances~
The people that we know.

I know I am luckier
Perhaps than most of you,
For I still have my best friend
My best friend came times two.

The oldest has dark hair and skin
The next is fair, no doubt.
But by the time it came to me,
The pigments fizzled out.

I was born into this world
With both already here
Often they protected me
And helped to stave my fears

We three grew together
At that time we did not see
How precious was our youth
But perhaps now, we agree

I know I was luckier
Perhaps than most of you,
For I still have my best friend
My best friend came times two.

p.alan














Meet my sisters Elizabeth and Kathy (center to right). This photo was taken on Easter Sunday, 2003. My divorce had become final on St. Patrick's Day, just days before. Very fitting, in my opinion, since Patrick is my first name...hence the "P" I place in my name. Since Patrick is also my Dad's name, I have always gone by Alan. I also thought it very fitting to be on St. Patrick's Day...as I was now ready to celebrate and get to know the real me I had been estranged from my whole life.

I was very sick in the photo, having just been diagnosed with pneumonia. Divorce can take a nasty toll on an individual. I was also carrying 50 lbs. of weight I had gained during that time.

Daddy's Little Princess

This little girl has me wrapped around her finger. She celebrated her 6th Birthday last week, and we had a special date to mark the occasion. (The picture of her above, was taken recently during her school's open house.) She had her choice of restaurant, and how we would spend some one-on-one time together...a treat I offer each of my three children on their birthdays. It makes them feel so special to have that alone time with me...and I get to soak up each tender moment and focus solely on them.

Six years ago, I was in a very troubled relationship with her mother. I knew that the end of our marriage would be coming soon. I also knew that I would then be given the opportunity to deal with my own personal internal battle. And I was scared to death. I knew I wanted to try my hardest to make the marriage work, but a marriage takes efforts of both parties. I felt that if I gave my vows the most effort I could muster and the marriage inevitably failed, I was then entitled to deal with myself on my own terms...in my own time.

It's been four years now since I first cracked-open my closet door. Through all the ups and downs, one part of my life remains permanent and gives me a sense of grounding. It is my children. I credit them, and the undying love I have for them, in helping me make realistic and responsible life choices since coming-out.

Happy Birthday Lexi!

I love you,
Daddy

Spencer's Corner 1940's

I've lived in Hot Springs for several years and never really knew why an area of downtown was called 'Spencer's Corner'. That was the case until I found this photograph. Spencer's Corner is so called-because of Spencer's Cigar Store. It occupied a space that is now home to a Subway sandwich shop. The yellow building in the photo above is now gone...down to it's basement level, and provides the central plaza that unites several more restaurants and businesses, such as The Brick House Grill, Hot Springs Brau Haus, Garbanzo's Restaurant and Tapas Bar, Salon Muzu Muzu and Christopher's Bridal Shop.

I love how that green car seems to be freely whirling around the corner at Central and Bridge. I usually get caught by the traffic light that is now there.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Oh my gosh-konong....Koshkonong?

I had a delightful evening with the chillren tonight. I love being the parent who can get away with letting them watch tv too late, eat cereal for dinner, and stay out till dark-thirty on their bicycles (of course, as long as they stay within hearing range of my voice out the kitchen window). I am stern with homework and such other things, though. They cannot do ANYTHING...snack on ANYTHING...until homework/projects/reading is all done.

Tonight was especially meaningful to me, because their Mum and StepDad were up in MO for his final job interview. He got the job. They are moving. My time I have with my kids living within a 20 minute drive is dwindling more quickly than I had thought. His job will be in south-central MO, in a moderate small town, West Plains. However, with their love of country, they are looking for homes in an even smaller town, just 10 miles past the AR border. Koshkonong.

I am happy for them...although I do feel other very mixed emotions. It will take me time to sort through all that I am thinking about right now. But I surprisingly don't feel bad...I have no knot in my gut(which is a tell-tale sign of danger for me)...and I'm not worried.

For now...I am okay with this. And also for now...I have three precious kids to tuck-in and kiss goodnight.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Has It Been Fifteen Years Already?!?


HotSpringsDocumentaryFilmFestival is looking to be quite impressive for 2006. The growth of this festival "has been marked by a number of major breakthroughs in resource development, including substantial grants from the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Arkansas Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts." Many visiting members of the Academy and documentary film-makers now equate THIS festival as the 'Sundance of Documentary Film'.

In addition to many public and private donors and volunteers, celebrity guests showing consistent support have included: Geraldine Chaplin, Eleanor Coppola, Alan Ginsberg, Connie Stevens, Tippi Hedren, and Brenda Vaccaro.

Looking at the list, I am most interested in watching a short film from Turkey: INamedHerAngel.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Adieu To One Majestic Lady

Announcements now make it official: the Majestic Hotel and Spa will soon be closing its doors. For 124 years, this regal landmark has served as anchor to Central, Park & Whittington Avenues. It is at this point that Central Avenue gently bends its way between Hot Springs Mountain & West Mountain, becoming the city's main North-South artery. Although not quite as grand as her younger sister three blocks to the south, The Arlington, the closure of The Majestic will end its long history of one of the oldest continuously operating hotels in Arkansas, if not the entire Middle-South.

As seen in the 1912 postcard above, The Majestic had undergone a massive expansion in the early 1900's. Subsequent additions to this original wing were added twice, with the middle wing now acting as the hotel's current main entry. This can be seen in this poorly executed
colorized postcard to the right , by locating the large striped awning at street level.

Exact news of what the future will bring to these landmarks remains sketchy at the moment, but many have assumed, or presumed, that the buildings are being sold by Southwest Hotels, Inc. in Little Rock to an unnamed investor, and will be renovated for future sale as condominium lofts. Although I am saddened to see this regal hotel end its legacy of service, I am extremely pleased and hopeful to see more housing being made available to those who desire downtown real estate...one of them namely, being ME.

Details also point to the demolition of the newest wing, and perhaps the most visible looking up Central Avenue. Long ago have the twenty feet tall cursive characters denoting this wing as "Lanai Towers" been removed from the build-
ing...the brick beltline that divides the parking deck from the hotel rooms and balconies above.
I cannot seem to find exactly when this addition
was complete, but from the mid-century flavor,
I would say it could easily be pinpointed to the
late 1950's.

Of course, with real estate being a prime asset
along this narrow valley, I would hope that a
tasteful parking deck will take the place of
Lanai Tower if it is indeed to be razed.
I cannot comprehend luring new residents to downtown without ample parking being a consideration. I personally know of downtown residents living nearby, who rent monthly spaces in the Lanai Tower parking deck...simply to get their cars off of the street.

I haven't heard of any more plans in months for the once envisioned traffic roundabout where Central Avenue, Park Avenue & Whittington Avenue all intersect, but perhaps that will become a reality now. Traffic sure does bottle-neck there...and that would be a great solution to ease traffic flow. The fountain, although not that spectacular, would make the perfect centerpiece.