Saturday, November 28, 2015

George Benson, Guitarist And Autobiographer

I'm looking forward to reading guitar virtuoso George Benson's recently published book, Benson: The Autobiography, written with Alan Goldsher (Da Capo Press, 2014).

I'm particularly interested in what he has to say about the recording sessions for Breezin' and In Flight, two of my favorite jazz recordings as well as what it was like collaborating with fellow guitar virtuoso Earl Klugh whose career I've been following since his emergence on the music scene in 1976 with his self-titled recording, Earl Klugh, on the Blue Note label.

I hope Klugh will also write his autobiography.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


I'm planning to write a blog post regarding the "Love Not Hate" rally that was held outside the homophobic ATLAH Church in Harlem on November 23, 2015. Emotions were high that night on both sides.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Gay Gossip Columnist

One book I plan to read for the second time is Mike Connolly and the Manly Art of Hollywood Gossip by Val Holley (McFarland & Co., 2003).

Connolly, a columnist for the Hollywood Reporter in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, was a political conservative and a staunch anti-Communist. He was also a gay man.

It's been a few years since I last read the book but I vaguely recall the author depicting Connolly as closeted and homophobic towards other gay men, especially those in Hollywood who were in the public eye like actor Rock Hudson and director George Cukor. Those traits would not be too far off the mark for a gay man living and working during those extremely closeted and homophobic times.

I would love to see a documentary film  made about the life and times of Mike Connolly. It would give us a behind-the-scenes look at gay Hollywood back then, warts and all, told from many different points of view, gay and straight.

Saturday, November 21, 2015



A reminder: There will be a "Love Not Hate" rally in front of the ATLAH World Missionary Church in Harlem on Monday, November 23, 2015, from 6:30p.m.-7:30 p.m. The church is located at 123rd Street and Lenox Avenue.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

For The Monk At Amorgos

He is magnificent, this monk, this Greek Orthodox monk in finery, so severe on his horse matching his will and grace and soul, one with him, placing his black-booted foot into a stirrup.

I seem to remember just the gaze of his clear eyes set in a handsome face; you dare not ask to take his photograph; and could you anyway capture such a fierce spirit on a Kodakcolor slide?

Souls cannot be trapped on print of any kind.

                                                         ---Velma Jean Robinson Reeb

Reeb, a former resident of Manhattan's Upper West Side, now resides in Portland, Oregon. For a brief time, she and her son lived in Greece.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Famous Photographer On Photography

"Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still."--Dorothea Lange (1895-1965)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

My First Trip To Philadelphia, 1985

It was thirty years ago this past September that I was invited by Joe Beam to a poetry reading in Philadelphia featuring Essex Hemphill and Pat Parker (both, like Joe, now deceased). It was my first trip to Philadelphia (I got there via Amtrak). It was also at this time that Joe showed me the typescript of his groundbreaking anthology about black gay men, In the Life. I became a contributor to the book.

A year or so earlier, Joe sent me the book's Introduction. He wanted me to read it and make any suggestions. I remember it being very long. I'm sure I made several suggestions but the only one that sticks out is my suggestion that he begin the Introduction at a particular point in the text. He took my advice which is why the Intro begins where it does.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Men Of The Vale

I'm looking forward to obtaining a copy of Thomas Roma's In the Vale of Cashmere (powerHouse Books, $30), a collection of photos of the landscape in the Vale of Cashmere in Brooklyn's Prospect Park as well as the black and Hispanic gay and bisexual men who frequent this popular cruising area.

I first learned of this book (and the Vale of Cashmere) when I saw a photo essay by Roma called "The Men of the Vale" that appeared in the Sunday Review section of the New York Times (October 11, 2015).

Roma, the director of the photography program at the Columbia University School of the Arts and a heterosexual, stated in his essay that he "photographed the landscape between 2008 and 2011 and introduced myself to the men I encountered. I'd ask them if I could make a portrait for a possible book....Many declined, but many said yes, and I was grateful every time they did."

In the Vale of Cashmere is Roma's tribute to his friend Carl, who died of AIDS in 1991 and was a frequent visitor to that section of the park.

An exhibition of Thomas Roma's photos can be viewed at the Steven Kasher Gallery, 515 West 26th Street, Manhattan, until December 19, 2015.

Monday, November 2, 2015

ATLAH, The Church Of Hate

Along Lenox Avenue in Harlem, from 110th to 125th Streets, there are numerous churches, of various denominations, large and small. The only one that consistently spews hatred toward gays and lesbians is the ATLAH Church. (The letters in the name could easily stand for Always Target Lesbians And Homosexuals.)

The latest homophobic rant on its outdoor message board has this warning: "YOU SODOMITES AND FREAKS HAVE SOILED HARLEM BUT YE SHALL BE MOVED. PAYBACK IS A BITCH. PSALMS 37:10-23."

In response to this demagoguery, an organization called Harlem Against Violence and Homophobia has scheduled a "Love Not Hate" rally that is to take place in front of the church. The rally will be on November 23, 2015, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

For further information, go to