Changing The World One Pansy At A Time!

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Squirrelly Little Man

That he was. And self -described. He is now gone almost as long as we were together. Six years today. March 30th. He died on 03/30/03 which I’ve always taken as some sort of spiritual sign. Though famously positive, he did not die of AIDS. A fact I still have trouble convincing some people of. He fell. He was epileptic & had a seizure. Simple. Quick. Clean. Just like him.

Robert “Michael” Jeter was 50 when he fell that day 6 years ago. I wasn’t there. We had been estranged from the moment we split up. He dumped me for a younger model. Fame can change a person. He found love after me, as I did. Life goes on. And the funny thing is that when you lose someone you love or have loved, it’s never really over. Not truly. You think about them. Sometimes a lot, sometimes hardly ever. But invariably you are reminded of them; in some wayl; by someone, or some situation you find yourself in. “God! ______ would have loved this!” etc. And so the relationship is only changed, not ended.

I now look back gratefully on those 6+ years with Michael & can only remember the laughter. We laughed ourselves sick! We would leave a Sunday night dinner at the old Adriano’s in Beverly Glen, with abdominal muscles positively sore from laughing at our friend, Charles Nelson Reilly. We’d laugh at the cats. At the insanity of living in our new home of Los Angeles. At the absurdity that two “goons” (as he called us) could spend an evening in a room full of “swells” & they would know him by name & greet him like old friends. That Maggie Smith would come to our house for dinner. That the fireplace mantle was getting crowded with serious awards. That he was being paid (“CASH MONEY!” he liked to say) for basically playing all day. It was funny and fun. Until it wasn’t.

Southern by birth he had a million different expressions that he taught me that I find myself still using:
“I feel like a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs!”
“You look like you’ve been rode hard & hung up wet!”
(apparently an equestrian term!)
“ ITYW” (“I tell you what!” started many a conversation!)
“Lord willing and the creek don’t rise…”
“You’re as sick as your secrets”

“Any news on the street?” (that’s how he’d greet me whenever I returned home!)

Odd. Squirrelly. Complicated. Funny. Brilliant.

I heard him say this once too. Quoting some forgotten guru: “I salute you & thank you for your life!”
Yep. I do.

In a career of many triumphs, I always think this stands alone. The first. And one of the great moments in theatre history. He literally flew! I hope he’s still flying.

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Friday, March 20, 2009


No, I never met her. I did meet her Mother once though. I had seen THE ROSE TATOO by Tenesee Williams 8 times. I met some of the cast & was invited to a cast party. Vanessa was lovely. Kind, engaging, humble. Like the really nice, pretty, lady down the block, who must have been a knockout in her youth! The only difference is you KNEW what she looked like in her youth, because you saw CAMELOT & BLOWUP on film & could watch them again & again!

But The Redgraves DO THEATRE. And so I am sad to have never seen Natasha in her greatest stage triumph: CABARET! Her costar in that production mourns her by saying he will always remember her full & throaty laugh. And that “really is the best way to remember someone!” And the great ALLEN CUMMING is right, that really is the best way!

Her film roles are few. PARENT TRAP was better because of her. “The Comfort of Strangers” is a marvelous film that still stands up. Her “Patty Hearst” was true perhaps because only a foreigner could play such a quintessentially American role.

She & her mother had recently done a one night only performance of Steven Sondheim’s A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC; which among its many many, charms, has the classic “11 o’clock number” SEND IN THE CLOWNS. The mother/daughter duo were looking to do it again in a full production at the time of this recent tragedy. Ironic that SEND in THE CLOWNS with its ultimate irony, pathos, & ill-timing should be possibly the last song Natasha learned the lyrics of.

The fact that the love of her life should be the great ,stoic, stalwart, pride of the Irish, film star, LIAM NEESON, just breaks all of our hearts a little bit more. When he played that unsung role of the young widower with the young child in one of the best films of the past decade; LOVE, ACTUALLY…little did he (or we) know that that role would be his to play in real life.

Life. You can have a wonderful strong, happy,marriage to a true partner. You can be a loving parent to two adorable children, who in turn adore you. You can live in New York City & have a grand country house in the suburbs, and a wonderful place in Europe.
And you can happily visit your handsome actor husband on the set of his new film, take a ski lesson, bang your head & POOF its all over!
Natasha KNEW how lucky she was! When Liam broke his pelvis in a motorcycle accident that should have been worse than it was Natasha said in an interview:
I wake up every day feeling lucky. Which of course is fear driven, because you know at any moment it can all be gone!

I think so many of us are intrigued & so moved by this story because we all know, at some very deep level, how brief, how fleeting, how turn-on-a-dime life can be and is! And that we all only have this moment, this day to love & appreciate one another.

Two young boys will go to bed tonight without a kiss from their beautiful mother. And a stage somewhere is dark and unilluminated. And the loss of the Redgraves & Neesons is everybody’s loss, in a grand and profound way

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Top of the Morning to you!! Which is really an American phrase likely invented at MGM. And not really a greeting in Ireland. Although I once addressed an Irish ice cream truck driver with that phrase & he brilliantly replied: “And the bottom of the afternoon to you!”

In Philadelphia, (home of Her Serene Highness,m the late Princess Grace of Monaco, nee Kelly) where I’m from, “Paddy’s Day” is a very big deal. In Ireland it is largely a religious feast. Here we drink green beer or just use the day as an excuse to get drunk! (As if we needed one!)

Growing up, St Patrick’s day was a true bright spot. Falling, as it does, after Christmas & before Easter! My Dad had a tradition of taking his Irish mother (Hannah Friel Trainer; Friel as in the playwright ; Brian) out to lunch, after Mass of course! I can still see him in his gray suit, adjusting his Kelly Green tie in the mirror; and attaching his gold shamrock tie pin, the one covered with faux emeralds!! And thinking how grand it all was! Grand! That is most definitely an Irish adjective.

As the oldest of seven children, I was always expressly aware that being IRISH CATHOLIC was so something to be proud of, something that set us apart. Had we not elected “one of us” to the highest office in the land” not very many years after our grandfathers, looking for work in their newly adopted homes, were greeted by signs that said: “NO IRISH NEED APPLY”

Being Irish was just part of who we were. To hear my Grandmother say, “No, darlin’ (no “g”) he’s not GERMAN…he’s as IRISH as PADDY’s PIG!” and know what she meant. Or when describing someone; would say: “ and himself had the map of Ireland on his face!” HIMSELF a pronoun on its very own!

To hear my (other) Irish Grandmother (Mary Flannery Donahue Bradley) say: ":If it wasn’t for whiskey, the Irish would RULE the world!” And know she was talking about her son-in-law, my father! Or…”there’s worse things than a drinking man!” which she would admonish her daughter, (my Mother) with. And it took me years and a whole lot of OPRAHs to realize what she was really saying was “at least he doesn’t CHEAT on you with other Women!

So many other notes: MAUREEN O’HARA was practically a SAINT after her gorgeous portrayal of Irish womanhood in John Ford’s THE QUIET MAN, alongside JOHN WAYNE. BING CROSBY was what we all aspired to be with his saintly portrayal of the priest in “GOING MY WAY” (another requirement in our IRISH degree!) Little did we know he was a drunk who beat his kids & his late wife was an alky! But even if we had we would have blamed HER!

So yes, this day means a lot to me. I think of where I come from. This place that can only be described as GREEN!!! (Although the TODAY show this very day referred to it as “the lands of Saints & Scholars, which it is) And how this son of ERIN (who has a sister by the very same name!) should make his living in this desert called California, trying to make it more GREEN for his clients!

Have you ever heard the story of
how Ireland got its name?
I'll tell you so you'll understand
from whence old Ireland came.
No wonder that we're proud of that
dear land across the sea,
For here's the way my dear old mother
told the tale to me...
Sure, a little bit o' Heaven 
fell from out of the sky one day,
And nestled on the ocean 
in a spot so far away;
And the angels found it, 
sure it looked so sweet and fair.
They said suppose we leave it, 
for it looks so peaceful there!
So they sprinkled it with stardust 
Just to make the shamrocks grow;
'Tis the only place you'll find them, 
No matter where you go;
Then they dotted it with silver 
To make its lakes so grand, 
And when they had it finished
Sure, they called it IRELAND!

Nor am I ashamed to be a part of the folk who could write the lyrics to DANNY BOY which has been sung at EVERY Irish wake I have ever attended including my ow father’s where it was sung so beautifully by my brother MICHAEL PATRICK!

Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer's gone, and all the flowers are dying
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer's in the meadow
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow
'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.

And if you come, when all the flowers are dying
And I am dead, as dead I well may be
You'll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an "Ave" there for me.

And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above me
And all my dreams will warm and sweeter be
If you'll not fail to tell me that you love me
I'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.

I'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.

I am so proud to be desended from the small island that produced WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS, BRIAN BORU, FRANK McCOURT & my cousin BRIAN FRIEL. Whatever else happens we can tell our stories…from PULITZER PRIZE…. to thegaygardener…our words and our stories are all we’ve really ever had, feast or (potato) famine!!!

Oh, and HAPPY 67thBIRHTDAY to our MOTHER, MRS. TRAINER. If you can make it to 67 darlin’ you can make it to 80!! God love ya!

Oh And isn't the above cute? A genuine SHAMROCK/CLOVER Plant that I placed in an antique Milk Glass cup Plant from TRADER JOE's $6.99

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Facebook, Twitter & the Whole Damn Thing

OMG! I am taking a temporary sabbatical from FACEBOOK! Besides being a pervasive creative drain (yet another excuse to not blog!) I’m finding it a challenge to maintain ”friendships” with people I went to school with 25 years ago, not to mention all the “hugs” & “Snowballs” & “Causes” & becoming “FANS” of the things they’re fans of!! Enough!

What set me off was running into an acquaintance at the nursery (plants!) So I’m “working” and this guy comes up to me & says: “Hey, I think I wrote on your wall!” “I beg your pardon?” I say. “Ummm your FACEBOOK Wall…I think I wrote on it..sent you a message!” Oh joy!!! I don’t have the time to return the texts & emails & voicemails of the folks I love or even CLIENTS, but suddenly I now have to reply to people I barely know!!?????

And what the hell is TWITTER? I can now announce to the world in 20 words or less what I am up to & thousands of people will be interested? Seriously? My life partner isn’t all that interested in what I am doing & my speeches to him are certainly more than 20 words! Am I just the “cranky-old-homo-in-the-cardigan-sweater” that I always feared I would be???

Let’s face it! Despite THE SECRET, OPRAH!, & Eckhart Tolle, the whole world is going to hell in a hand basket! Aren’t your days a lot like mine?

The 6:30 Alarm rings. Hit SNOOZE. Hit Snooze again! And Again!

7:00 am-out of bed-LATE! And your brain turns ON:
What day is it? Shit! I have to work! Glad I sill have a job! What do I wear? Did I set the coffee maker? Damn it! Is there clean underwear? Turn on the news. The MARKET did WHAT??? WARREN BUFFET SAID WHAT? Oh! Thank God! There’s BARACK!!! He’s in charge! Thank you Jesus! That wasn’t a DREAM! I have to leave early because I need gas! HOW MUCH IS GAS???? SERIOUSLY??? What bills are due today? Why is my AMERICAN EXPRESS BILLL FOUR TIMES what it was 3 months ago when I have ceased using it? Did I pay the car insurance? Why is THAT So expensive? COFFEE!!! COFFEE! COFFEE! How much longer can I afford this outrageously expensive moisturizer? Did I LOSE EVEN MORE HAIR in my sleep??? Did I pay the Bank of AMERICA VISA? Why is their CEO such a TOOL? STILL Flying in a private plane to meet with Government Officials to explain why BofA needs MORE BAIL-OUT $$$$$??? Why does it take me over an hour to get to work when MAPQUEST says it should take 23 minutes???
DID I Pay the BofA VISA??? Should I go to the grocery store now or wait for the Sunday Paper coupons??? BUT I’m HUNGRY NOW! HOW MUCH was the AT&T phone bill? did I pay that??? Why is that so much money? I live by myself. Do I really talk on the phone that much? Shit! I have to file my INCOME TAXES?!! Is that ANOTHER “laugh line-wrinkle under my left eye?" DID I PAY THE BofA VISA??? And yes it is now 8:40 a.m. Are YOUR DAYS LIKE THIS???? I just BET they are!!! GOD BLESS US EVERYONE!

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Taking Out The Trash

If only it were that easy! Good Luck Rhianna!

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Monday, March 02, 2009

The Great Santini

Many of you know the parallels between my own life & The Great Santini...but one good that came from this life experience is that one of my siblings figured out how to take the good from the bad & create a positive. Congrats to my baby brother JOE and a early HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Joe Trainer Named Rhode Island Football Head Coach
Former Rams associate head coach/defensive coordinator becomes 19th head coach in school history

Feb. 27, 2009

KINGSTON, R.I. - Joe Trainer, who spent the 2008 season as the Rhode Island football associate head coach/defensive coordinator, was named the school's 19th head coach, Friday afternoon in the Alumni Room at the Ryan Center.

Trainer returns to Rhode Island after he joined the coaching staff at Bowling Green back in December where he served as the Assistant Head Coach under two-time Division I-AA Coach of the Year Dave Clawson.

During the 2008 season at Rhode Island, Trainer's defensive unit forced URI opponents into 11 fumbles, which ranked in the top five of CAA Football. His defensive scheme also allowed sophomore linebacker Matt Hansen to finish second in the league in total tackles with 111 as he went on to earn All-CAA Football Second Team and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) All-England honors.

Prior to his stint at Rhode Island, Trainer spent the 2005-07 seasons as head coach of Millersville University, a member of the powerhouse Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC). During his first head coaching stint, Trainer hired and directed a staff of four full-time and four part-time assistants, designed a strength & conditioning program for his student-athletes, implemented an academic support program, and help design and complete both a renovation of the locker room and the varsity weight room.

Before heading to Millersville, Trainer spent eight seasons at CAA-rival Villanova, starting out as linebackers coach before being promoted to assistant coach/defensive coordinator in 2005. During his tenure at Villanova, Trainer helped the Wildcats to two conference championships, two NCAA Playoff appearances - including the national semifinals - two Lambert Cups, two wins over I-A schools (Rutgers and Temple), and five top 20 rankings in the final poll. Additionally, the Wildcats were nationally-ranked for a league-record 35 consecutive weeks and a school-record 12 wins in 1997.

Under Trainer's tutelage, the Wildcats finished No. 1 in the Atlantic 10 in total defense in 2003 and 2004. Villanova finished seventh amongst NCAA Division I-AA schools in scoring defense (16.2 ppg) and 14th nationally in total defense (302 ypg allowed) in 2003, and in 2004, Trainer's defense yielded under 300 yards per game and was second in the A-10 in scoring defense (22.5 ppg). He helped Brian Hulea earn First Team Atlantic 10 honors in 2003 and 2004.

Trainer spent the 1995 and 1996 season as the University of New Haven, where he worked as both linebackers coach and defensive coordinator. Trainer helped the Chargers win 17 games in two seasons and earn a berth in the NCAA Division II playoffs. New Haven finished ranked in the Top 20 in both seasons and his defense also established school records for fewest points allowed, points per game allowed, and turnover margin. Off the field, Trainer monitored the academic progress of the student-athletes and conducted study/tutorial sessions.

He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Temple University in 1990, serving as linebackers coach. Two years later, Trainer took over as linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at Frostburg State University, where he also developed and oversaw the teams in-season lifting program. Following the 1992 season, he joined the coaching staff at Colgate University. While in Hamilton, he coached the outside linebackers and punt and kickoff team while assisting with both game plan and practice participation.

A 1990 graduate of Dickinson College with a degree in English, Trainer earned his masters degree at Temple in 1992 and his M.S. in counseling and human relations from Villanova in 2004.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Now He knows The Rest of the Story

PAUL HARVEY died today at the age of 90. Many of you kids will not know him nor his name. But in RADIO he was a legend. Radio was all that there was before TV, let alone the internet & people actually had one in their homes ,not just their cars. But they called it “the WIRELESS” which only confuses the issue more!

But in the old days, “broadcasters” like Mr. Harvey, did the news & special segments, & editorials & hell even the advertisements. And Paul Harvey was brilliant at all those jobs.
Blessed with a pure, strong, staccato voice he was an original! His “The Rest of The Story” segments are the stuff of legend. It was history told backward. He would engage you in a dramatic tale, rife with detail, building to a crescendo, without revealing the hero of the tale until the very end where one learned ...”the rest of the story”

I sat in my car just three weeks ago, riveted by another of Mr. Harvey’s tales, waiting to learn the identity of our hero (in this case it was BENEDICT ARNOLD) Thinking all the while, why are not all TEACHERS like this? History is so compelling, so dramatic, why can’t every teacher be this way where one is sitting on the edge of the seat, awaiting the outcome. But the answer to that question is there is only, was only, ONE PAUL HARVEY. And since he now must be in Heaven I would venture to say that surely he now KNOWS the Rest of the Story!!!!

One story that Mr. Harvey likely did not get to cover is The Hair Weave that Stopped a Bullet & Saved a Life!!! Thank God we have Youtube for that!!

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