Changing The World One Pansy At A Time!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Songs My Father Taught Me

I woke up singing this morning. Not an unusual occurrence in this house. But the song was. “Paper Doll” by The Mills Brothers:

“I’m going to buy a paper doll that I can call my own…”

What the hell? I look at the calendar; August 22nd. “ahhhh…my Dad’s Birtthday!” He loved The Mills Brothers! I started thinking about all the songs he taught me, about singing in the car with him, about how music & later, films and gardening, became the language that was the surest & safest way for us to communicate.

If you’ve ever seen the film, “The Great Santini” you’ve had a small glimpse of my adolescence. But instead of basketball the blood sport in our house was football. My Dad LIVED sports & actually made most of his living coaching. And any son of his HAD to play SOMETHING. I can still see his incredulous face when I told him at 10 tears old that “I don’t like baseball because people keep looking at me!” He just walked away shaking his head.

It took a few years but I did find a sport that I thought I could stand; football. Mainly because with all the equipment, and not being the quarter-back; I thought I could blend in & hide. Then God showed his dark sense of humor because I was good! Very good. My Dad was absolutely delighted. It was like he was seeing me for the first time. I played for 5 years & HATED every awful second. I hated the practices, the other players, the coaches, the games, reviewing the endless films of the game with my Dad showing me what mistakes I had made. I even hated the freaking GATORADE & still cannot look at a bottle to this day. But he said that I was the most naturally gifted player he ever saw! That was high praise.
And the sad thing was this: I did run faster, hit harder, tackle deeper, than any other player on the field to preserve the ONE thing I did like about football: THE UNIFORM!! I loved those tight white pants, & the red & white (later black & gold) jerseys, & the white striped, spikey shoes! And no one, I mean no one, was going to dare muss me up! I once faked a slight injury because I was so upset that I got a grass stain on my white pants & feared I would start crying. I KNEW not to share any of this with my Dad.
It was all worth it in 1979. I was voted Outstanding Lineman of The BucksMont Catholic League. There was a big banquet. I dressed like I was going to the Oscars. “This is it!” I thought. “I can quit after this” “He’ll be happy now.” Then I heard God laughing again. As I walked to the stage to accept my award; I heard a scuffle behind me. Some pro football player (who’s name escapes me) was talking about me & handing me the trophy. I looked into the crowd to see men carrying my Dad out of the hall. “WAIT!!! You’re missing this!”This is for you!!” It turns out that in my big moment of triumph, my Dad was having a massive, but ultimately not fatal heart attack. I swear to God!

Eventually in High School I had enough pretending. I quit football because I wanted to be “in the plays” the musical productions at school. I summoned the guts to tell my Dad. Again he sadly shook his head & walked away. He did not speak to me for a year. He told my Mom that I was throwing away a college scholarship. “Tough!” I said. Then a funny thing happened. Once I started to be cast in roles, he came around. He never once missed a performance of any show I ever did. Not one. His legs had started to bother him & he couldn’t sit still for very long. So he would stand at the back of the theatre, every theatre, every show; the entire time. I could always see him there in the semi-dark, smiling. I would never look directly at him for fear of losing it.

Odd that a man like him would have a son like me. Just a little game of DNA roulette, I guess. But I loved him very much. Most especially because he never entirely stopped trying to communicate with me. After I stopped playing baseball he started to give me record albums ( Glenn Campbell, Bobby Sherman (!!!) Jesus Christ Superstar) wordlessly asking me: “is THIS it?” “ “Is this what you want?” Knowing somehow that it was. I still know lyrics from old songs that he taught me in the car. “Me & My Shadow” “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down & Write Myself a Letter” “Flat Foot Floozy” “L-O-V-E” “ “Sentimental Journey”

But my favorite is the first song he ever taught me. The one he used to sing me to sleep with. The one I could not get out of my head as I held his hand while he was dying:

“Good night rocking horse cowboy
Time to go to bed,
Sleep tight, rocking horse cowboy; rest your weary head…”

Sleep tight, Dad!
Happy 76th!!

P.S. I don’t mind getting dirty now Dad. In fact, I love it. I’m a gardener.

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I live on a busy corner in Los Angeles. I have a small OBAMA ’08 sign in the front window. And a larger & much coveted OBAMA “HOPE” sign in the side window on the busier street.

When not on a gardening job, I spend much of my time working from home. A great source of amusement for me has been to listen to the reaction of various passers-by, to the signage. The following are samples from snippets I have overheard as folks have reacted to my windows:

“Oh My God! Dude! I’m in front of that amazing Obama “Hope” sign how fuc**** cool is that?”

“:HRUMPH” or something like; that spoken by an older woman & clearly a Hillary supporter.

“ohhhh, look at that! Yes sir, THAT is HOPE!” - an older woman with a Russian accent.

“Yea, well the guy who lives there is very nice, but obviously doesn’t know anything about politics!

“What is that place? Some kind of Obama Shrine?”

(Loud knock on the door) “Hi can you tell me where to get that Obama ”Hope” sign? I’ve looked on e-bay but they cost hundreds of dollars!” And this guy was so cute I almost just gave it to him.

“Look! Look! Obama!!!

“Does he REALLY think he can Win?”

(Another loud knock on the door) “Hi I saw your Obama signs & I go to Fairfax High School & have to take photographs of for my Politics class, would you mind posing with your signs?”

“Obama? They’re kidding, right?” (December 2007)

“well, yea, but at least he doesn’t have a LOVECHILD!”

“WOW!!!! Obama! Look at that!”

But the line of the year of course goes to my Mother, “Mrs. Trainer” who said in the Spring: “Oh,honey; I love you, But I’m not voting for the colored guy!”

God Bless you,Barack!

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Tinker. Tailor, Soldier, Spy" & Lesbian Weddings!

Sorry I’ve been absent; the dog ate my homework, a dingo ate my baby, hell! I’m just busy…thank God!

Isn’t this a marvelous gift??? A “tea towel” from Great Britain given to me by my friend Bryan. Clearly not your Grandmother’s tea towel! For those of you under 40, a tea towel is a usually decorative piece of terrycloth or linen adorned with some design, picture, or quote & intended as a souvenir. This always reminds me of what Princess Diana’s sisters said to her when she expressed misgivings about her upcoming marriage to Prince Charles: “Tough Luck Dutch! Your face is already on the tea towels!” Dutch being her family nickname.

THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE KITCHEN??? Last week it was revealed that in addition to bringing fine (usually French) food & cooking to the masses, the late JULIA CHILD was a SPY for The OSS…they were the “good guys” they worked for us, the U.S. Julia was so confident & so very persuasive I imagine she could have gotten any of a number of valuable secrets out of the enemy, after serving them a fabulous meal of course!

WHAT DOES SHE SMELL IN HIM??? New research revealed last week that “the pill” skews a woman’s sense of smell so much that she chooses the exact wrong mate for her to father her children. It messes with the hormonal olfactory sense so that a woman, instead of choosing the most beneficial “provider” for her “brood”, ends up selecting the best lover. I think the study is very sexist, but how often have we all asked, after meeting a friend’s new beau, what does she SEE in him? Maybe we had the wrong SENSE???

CONGRATULATIONS to ELLEN DEGENERES & PORTIA Di ROSSI on their Marriage on Saturday in Los Angeles! And to ZAC POSEN who designed a beautiful, fairytale dress for Portia to walk down the aisle in! Ellen of course wore pants but topped them with a sheer blouse & waistcoat! They looked divine & I wish them every happiness! After all that ANNE HECHE Insanity, Ellen deserves it!

So THEGAYGARDENER has had to raise his consulting & design fees by 5%. Sorry… but Jesus! The price of gas alone AND just the cost of soil! That has increased over 20% in the past year. But at least we are getting a finer quality product! The Washington Post had a story last week about the rising cost of gardening & soil & Plants etc. In it they said that the soil available for purchase today is “Pricier, but that’s what consumers want.” . "People have less time. So their garden projects have changed over time. Convenience, time-saving factors, less mess," he said. They want high-performance dirt, so charged with organic nutrients you could serve it as an appetizer. God! I wish I had written that "appetizer" line

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Queen's English

I mentioned DOMINICK DUNNE’s “FATAL CHARMS” yesterday. Dunne’s great gift is that he presumes you’re smart. That you know enough social & cultural history to know of whom he is speaking. He’ll help you out if it’s someone obscure or by his habit of prefacing a proper name with a job title: “The actress, Meryl Streep”, “The writer, Morris West” etc. But sometimes he’ll drop a name & if you’re like me, you run to the wikipedia page to investigate.

In F.C. he mentions an infamous LORD LUCAN. Never heard of him. I DO remember some awful ABC television series in the 70’s called LUCAN about a boy who was raised by wolves but wasn’t Royal!

Well, it turns out that LORD LUCAN is one of Great Britian’s most famous missing persons. He’s the Jimmy Hoffa or D.B.COOPER of the U.K. But its much more sordid than that.

The 7th Earl of Lucan, also known as Lord Bingham has been missing since 1974 when his children’s nanny was found murdered at the home of Lucan’s estranged wife! Lady Lucan was assaulted the same night by, she said, her husband, who then confessed to her that he killed the nanny by mistake….he had meant to kill her! He took off & has never been heard from since. He is popularly known in G.B. still as “Lucky Lucan”. A British court declared him legally dead & allowed his son & heir to use the title. I do think this would make a fascinating film & a great role for…TOM CRUISE!! I think the best way he can redeem himself is by playing some slimy, two-faced, psychopath leading a double life & I am NOT kidding.

There is a truly brilliant account of some of this scandal at the “official” website (!!!!!) of The Countess of Lucan who was accused of “mental instability” & subsequently lost custody of her children. And my God! I love the English! They freaking invented…well…English! And nobody does it better. Here’s a snippet from Lady Lucan’s site

"At Mrs. Rivett's inquest I wore a hat because of my rank as a Peeress of the Realm and I wore the same outfit on each of the four days it lasted as it is vulgar to use a tragic and grave matter such as an inquest as an opportunity to display one's wardrobe."

Labels: , ,

Well Dunne!

I hear that the writer, DOMINICK DUNNE is ill & battling cancer again. I am sorry for this. He is really the only reason to still read VANITY FAIR. I have long been a fan of his & have read every book he ever wrote as well as a terrific collection of photos & stories about his life in Hollywood called, THE WAY WE LIVED THEN which has an iconic photo, taken by Mr. Dunne, of the gorgeous NATALIE WOOD, reapplying her lipstick using the blade of a butter knife for a mirror! Two of his best sellers were turned into terrific mini-series, THE TWO MRS. GRENVILLES & AN INCONVENIENT WOMAN. He has not had the easiest life. He was a successful producer who fell on hard times & lost everything, his beloved wife was confined to a wheelchair, & his only daughter, DOMINIQUE, was brutally murdered by her boyfriend who strangled her in the driveway of her home & ended up serving less than 3 years in jail for manslaughter.

His coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial made Dunne a household name. His constant courtroom presence & highly tuned sense of justice has vexed many an attorney; prosecution & defense. Legendary lawyer, LESLIE ABRAMSON once mocked him as “Judith Krantz in pants!” Dunne had the last laugh as Abramson’s famous clients; The Menendez Brothers, still rot in jail for the murder of their parents.

I met Dunne once in a restaurant in Beverly Hills at the height of the O.J. hysteria. Other diners included, Sidney Poitier, Candace Bergen, Carol Burnett, famous directors, writers & agents. The room was packed. And the only person that people were desperate to talk to was Dominick Dunne.

I just found a collection of his V.F. columns published in 1987 called, FATAL CHARMS. Fabulous pieces on his daughter’s murder, Elizabeth Taylor, The Women of Palm Beach & Claus von Bulow. A 21 yr-old book that reads as if it was written today. Classic. Like Dominick.

God Bless You, Mr. Dunne

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, August 08, 2008


BREAKING NEWS********************

ABC News is reporting that Sen John Edwards in an interview airing tonight, admits his extra-marital affair with producer Rielle Hunter. So far so good. Confession is good for the soul. But like most lying, cheating, two-timing men, he needs to “parse it out” & defend himself:

Edwards says he isn’t the father of the child, but admits he hasn’t taken a paternity test!!!????
Says he "didn't love her" (Jesus!)
States that he did not “pay off” Hunter but would look into seeing if one of his supporters did?????
Says the affair ended in 2006 & that his wife & family knew about it!!!

Seriously!! WTF? What the hell is he doing visiting the woman he had the affair with at The Beverly Hilton last month at midnight & playing with her baby?
Edwards campaign worker, Andrew Young, is on the record saying he’s the father. So Young & Edwards passed this woman around but Young is the one who knocked her up?
You can watch NIGHTLINE on ABC tonight for the whole interview. If you want to see a squirming politician who could have cost his party the Presidency; lie & re-lie & lie again, about lies previously told!

John Edwards makes BILL CLINTON look like WARD CLEEVER

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, August 07, 2008

HOME ALONE: The International Edition

I’m the oldest of seven children. 5 boys & two girls. There is 9 & a half years separating me from the youngest. We didn’t take many vacations growing up. We did go to Disney World once. But usually one week at the Jersey Shore was about all my folks could swing, God Bless them.
One time in a story retold so often in the neighborhood its now legend, my Dad thought it would be a great idea to finally use the “luggage rack” on the top of the faux-wood-paneled FORD “Grand Torino” Station Wagon. The only problem was we didn’t have any luggage. Each kid put their week’s worth of clothes in a plastic trash bag which my Dad tied to the rack on the roof & off we went.
Driving down the New Jersey Turnpike, we’re about halfway to the shore (as we say) My Dad is feeling rather smug at this point as he only had to threaten to “turn this God Damn Car around” about 10 times! (A new low) Cars begin honking their horns at us & one gentleman signals for my Dad to pull over to the side of the road. We pull over. The other driver says he’s been honking & trying to get our attention for the past 10 miles! My Dad says: “Hey Buddy! With all these kids in the back, I’m lucky I can hear myself think! (Which he said all the time & which I never understood. Could he HEAR himself THINK? Can ANYONE? Is this a GOOD thing?) “What’s the problem?” Dad asks. “Well, for at least the past ten miles you’ve been losing clothes & towels & flip-flops & whole plastic bags off the top of your roof!” “Just wanted to let you know!” Yep. We’d been driving for hours with all our brightly colored summer clothes trailing behind us like participants in some white trash sailing regatta.
I thought that was the end of the humiliation til it was decided we would stop off at the Wildwood WOOLWORTH’S (that’s the old timey WALMART) where we were allowed to each pick out one (!!!!) bathing suit, one shirt, one pair of shorts & a pair of flip flops, for an ENTIRE WEEK!!!! Thank God it was an “off-week” & I didn’t run into anybody I knew!

I thought of this incident this week when I read about another large family’s traveling woes. Yea! I totally get it that it is difficult traveling with a bunch of kids. All that “gear” (strollers & car seats & toys etc) but…
This family from Israel is taking a vacation to Europe. They do a little duty-free shopping & board the plane with their 5 kids & their 18 pieces of LUGGAGE (God damn right I’m jealous & it’s probably really good stuff like Hartman or something) 40 minutes into their flight, the crew approaches the parents to inquire as to perhaps they may have forgotten something? OR SOMEONE???
Seems they left their little 3 year-old daughter back at the airport! I know… this story begs a thousand different questions! 40 MINUTES into the FLIGHT?? And they still do not notice? Hell if the crew hadn’t informed the parents WHEN would they have realized? How where they even able to board the flight with an unaccounted for boarding pass? SECURITY Anyone?? Yes, the parents are IDIOTS! But what about the four other kids?? Are they all three years old? Are they MUTE? Not one said, “ummmm Daddy, where’s Rachel?? Did we leave her someplace?” My theory is that those kids KNEW! You see, all of them are BOYS. The little girl was the only daughter and those boys saw a chance to exact their revenge on that little bratty sister of theirs!

And I am so NOT saying that because my two bratty sisters got to pick out TWO outfits each on that doomed trip to the shore, just because ‘they’re girls”! No. I’m over that.>Link

Labels: ,


By now you’ve seen the hubbub created by John McCain’s campaign ad comparing the “celebrity of Barack Obama to that of BRITNEY SPEARS & PARIS HILTON. Well Paris, who has missed fewer opportunities at self-promotion than MADONNA, has now weighed in with a very funny ad herself.

Calling John McCain a “wrinkley, white-haired, dude” ….very funny. And just to hear Paris say the phrase: “environmental oversight” now that’s HOT!

And I know that Paris really likes a bargain! You’ll recall my running into her at the LAMPSPLUS Store on LaBrea; where she was buying a knock-off chandelier for her new house. But those PVC Plastic Chaise lounge chairs??? Seriously. Those things are nasty! And no cushions?? Not even a Towel??
I have to guess that these things are on loan from a props department because Paris didn’t want to use her own collection of BROWN JORDAN Lounges, right?!

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

I’ll see you at the debates, bitches” I’m sorry, you just got to love her. Who else could say that? And NO CUE CARDS unlike the real candidates!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

...Turn, turn, turn.




Not a huge fan of bromeliads but this one I found in the nursery this week is so wild I had to have it. Green & dark, almost black, striped leaves with a flat bright red bloom that resembles a feather it looks like something Katherine Hepburn would have grown in “Suddenly Last Summer”

Sadly the end of hydrangea season is now upon us. I’ve just loved having these around all summer. Even this past weekend I did a centerpiece from a “Venice” hydrangea I’d been growing. I love its celery & dark purple colored blooms.

I cannot believe it but I still have slugs in my garden! Last night I pulled 6 of those bastards off of my potted plants Yes that’s down from my high of 24 but still it’s very late in the season to still be dealing with them. I’m still using the “BEER” trick” But I think I’m just using the slugs as an excuse to justify my drinking!

Labels: ,