Changing The World One Pansy At A Time!

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Roof, The Roof, The Roof is on FIRE

OMG!!! Los Angeles BURNING! I am sure you've seen the coverage of the myriad fires burning thought Southern CA this week! Just devastating. Thousands of acres burned, hundreds of homes destroyed, dozens more evacuated, 2 brave firefighters dead...just awful!

I am not making light of this but it almost seems Biblical! The state of California is completely bankrupt. It even had to send out IOUs for State tax refunds! We are witnessing the greatest migration OUT of the state (particularly Los Angeles County) than at any time since before WWII. And now Mother Nature weighs in with this horrific plague of hyper destructive fires....

I never "lead a witness" but I am wondering if God himself isn't just plain pissed off at the passage of PROP 8 & the hate that it enshrined in our State Constitution! I guess it could all be a coincidence!

The one odd effect of the fires that I have never seen before are the cloud formations. Over every hill & mountain in L.A. you can see these great sort of "stacked" clouds, dozens of stories high in the sky; that resemble the plumes of smoke after a rocket takes off at Cape Canaveral. But you soon sadly realize that despite their beauty these are signs of destruction & off trapped smoke & gasses piling high in the sky over a recently destroyed area of our beautiful city! Sad!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Senator Edward Moore Kennedy died last night. Not unexpected but sad nonetheless. It can be said that the Camelot era has now officially come to an end. There are no more KENNEDYS to run for President! My sympathies go out to his family & My thanks go to a merciful God who allowed this good & flawed man to serve so well & so long in the United States Senate.

I’ve mentioned this before; but to my Irish Catholic Family the Kennedys were ranked only slightly below the Holy Trinity! (Remember GG Fans: If you ever come across a print of “My Beloved Johns” that show the Sacred Heart of Jesus with his arms around JFK & Pope John XXIII I will pay big money for that; as it hung it our living room most of my life growing up!)

Much will be said about the passing of Teddy Kennedy & all of it by better & more learned folks than me. But a troubling thing (to me) has surfaced in the initial obituary coverage.

Sen. Kennedy’s widow, VICTORIA REGGIE KENNEDY, seems a lovely person & I am sure the Senator felt lucky to have her as a partner. But the “tone” of the coverage has Teddy being basically a rougish, drunken, lout, hell bent on destruction, until the appearance of Vickie; at which point he turned his life around! And I am sure there is SOME truth to this. Especially when you consider Kennedy’s post-Chappaquiddick nadir: that dreadful rape trial of his nephew, Stephen Smith, in Palm Beach. The Senator’s life DID seem to change for the better after that.

But the subtext of all this is that until Vickie came along the Senator was in dire need of the love & support of a good woman who would help him turn it all around! And that sentiment is admirable until you realize it’s not true!

He had the love & support of a good woman; his FIRST wife; JOAN BENNETT KENNEDY until his drinking & carousing drove her own timid soul into the refuge of a bottle!

JBK was a gorgeous woman. The MOST beautiful of the Kennedy woman & in fact had been a former model until she married the brother of her college friend; JEAN KENNEDY SMITH. So pretty in fact; that JFK had dubbed her “the dish” She did everything required of her, followed all the rules, kept up appearances & bore him three children & still & still that was not enough. Perhaps because of the huge price that history demanded of him, the good Senator felt entitled to more of life’s more pleasurable offerings. Who knows?

But this much is true: Joan Kennedy suffered a great deal too. Imagine being put on bed rest after miscarrying two times & finding yourself pregnant again. Only you have to defy your Doctor’s orders to remain in bed, because your husband has been involved in a drunken car accident that has resulted in the death of a young campaign worker who was his passenger that night. So you do your hair & makeup, put on a pretty dress; do the whole TAMMY WYNETTE & Stand by your man as he pleads guilty to leaving the scene of an accident & then of course, as a good girl & a good wife; you must accompany him to the tragic girl’s funeral! That is what the political machine requires of you! And you do it! Only this activity; of course, results in the loss of your third child due to miscarriage.

Is it any surprise that a stranger finds you bleeding & incoherent in a gutter 15 years later!??

All I’m saying is that TED KENNEDY managed to live a life of purpose, full of good works, after these very sad post assassination periods. And he managed to stop drinking & carousing & as NBC News said today: “He grew up!”

But there was a beautiful & accomplished grown up right there beside him the whole time, if only he had noticed her & done right by her; at least then much of HER suffering would have been alleviated!

I am happy that TEDDY is now not suffering. And joyful to think of him reunited with Eunice & Bobby & Jack & Joe & Kick & Rosemary, his parents Rose & Joseph; Jackie & his beloved nephew; John John!

And I imagine them all sailing & drinking & laughing on one of the glorious lakes in Heaven

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Good Bye Mr Dunne

Dominick Dunne died today & VANITY FAIR might as well cease to publish. The magazine has become but a former shadow of itself (JESSICA SIMPSON anyone?) & Dunne was really the only reason to keep reading it; let alone subscribe.

This is from a posting I wrote a year ago when I first heard he was ill

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.

Dunne spent the past year seeking alternative treatments to his cancer. Including even a stint in a German hospital specializing in stem cell treatment the same place FARRAH FAWCETT was! Dunne, true to form, even occupied the room next to hers, but there was no time for chatting!

In one of his last interviews, Dunne was just as quotable as ever:
I've lived this very dramatic life, with high points and terrible low points," he told a London paper as the trial drew to a close. "Nothing has been ordinary, and I want to have the experience of the last breath. I want a little drama to it. I don't want to die under anesthesia. I'd rather be shot to death in the Plaza or Monte Carlo by Lily Safra***. I want something in the papers."

“I want something in the papers!” That you got good sir, that you got!

I had hoped that there would be a Requiem mass at Good Shepherd Church in Beverly Hills (parish of thegaygardener) where Dunne had covered so many other funerals! I would have loved to have attended but it seems now he will be buried out of the East Coast

No matter, I shall now begin to re-read every one of his best sellers & live with his inimitable voice in my head for a little while longer!

*** Lily Safra is the fabulously wealthy Monte Carlo widow whom Dunne profiled & mentioned repeatedly (unflatteringly) in his last years of columns in VF

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Going Out of Business

I’m very sad to report that the gardener’s mecca; SMITH & HAWKEN, is closing its doors! The stores that remain open are having a fantastic sale & there is still much lovely inventory to be had at 25 to 40% off. I encourage you to visit a store near you as soon as possible.

Some of you may know that SMITH & HAWKEN is really the place that started TheGayGardener on the road to his happy destiny! When I was working as a makeup artist & salon director at that place in Beverly Hills all those years; I would frequently stop by the Beverly Hills S&H store after work in a desperate attempt to reclaim my sanity before going home. (plants are already beautiful & don’t think a lip gloss will make them more so & more to the point; they cannot talk back!)
The best thing about Smith & Hawken in those days was they would discard or throw away any plants & shrubs that were less than perfect along with any damaged garden items. I cannot tell you how may lovely orchids & ivy & other plants I “saved” as well as numerous garden décor. I still have a (chipped) cement urn, a copper topped birdhouse & a (now) 5 feet tall ivy topiary retrieved from the S&H trash! I was diving in the Smith & Hawken dumpster long before “Dumpster Diving” became chic or an HGTV show (this was back in the 90’s of course) In fact one time I was confronted by one of my chi-chi Beverly Hills cosmetics clients who inquired if that possibly could have been my legs she saw sticking up out of the dumpster in the back of Smith & Hawken? I assured her they were in fact my legs & she got such a kick out of my story she hired me to do her Doheny Blvd. terrace!

S&H was the kind of place that even though it was a retail store you always knew as a gardening professional that you could find just the exact thing you were looking for; that it would be well made & at a reasonable price! And just perusing their catalogue or searching their website could provide inspiration! Long after I stopped diving though their trash I would frequently shop the website in order to save time & gas driving around; especially if on a deadline! And the operators on the website & the customer service people were always so helpful! Sadly, the website is already discontinued!

Smith & Hawken is a division of the lawn care giant, SCOTTS. And in this economy it’s understandable that they would have had to jettison this retail operation. Hopefully they may be able to keep up some kind of catalogue sales in the future.

Smith & Hawken was a very classy operation & I will miss it!
Please patronize the stores in their remaining days!

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Terrace Anyone?

Here's a lovely little terrace TheGayGardener just did in the hidden jewel that is Playa del Rey, CA
Thanks, Cheryl for having faith in me & I hope you enjoy your new outdoor room!