Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Shut Up & Sing

I just watched the documentary, SHUT UP & SING.

Amazing. I was literally clapping and shouting in the middle of my living room.

This film is SO important for anyone who feels passionately about freedom.

For years I've admired the music and artistry of the Dixie Chicks. Their CDs are in my music collection but I've never been to one of their concerts or paid special attention to them when they were on television.

In 2003, on the eve of America going to war in Iraq, the lead singer of the group used her freedom of speech and it couldn't have backfired in a bigger, broader way. The album sales dropped and radio stations were boycotted if they played music by the Dixie Chicks.

This documentary follows the public fall of one of the country's best-selling recording artists.

But there is so much more to it. It isn't a Behind-the-Music puff piece. Their success and trials hasn't been shrouded in glamour of Hollywood.

Watching the film tonight I saw a fierce fire in the eyes of the group as the grappled with the responsibilities of their words and actions. From one statement came death threats, stress, an accusations. They were accused of being un-American and of not supporting our troupes.

They were mocked and ridiculed for simply voicing the opposition to the war and the leadership of the President.

This film is a brilliant look at the extremes of freedom and how quickly we deny common courtesy and respect to anyone who might believe differently than we do.

Rent it. Go to NetFlix and put it in your que. BUY it.

This is a film you should see...as a music lover but especially a member of humanity.

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Re-Cap...Christmas, New Year's Eve, Antuan's Return, My Birthday...and MORE

So...here's my holiday re-cap. I hate doing re-caps because I'm almost always certain that I'm forgetting details that I wanted to include.

So backing up...Christmas.

A few days before Christmas I was back on a plane and heading back to Nashville. The flight was early with filled with mishaps. Once again catching a bus in my neighborhood before dawn. I arrived at the stop in plenty of time to make the bus. The bus passed by me at 4:30 in the morning and didn't even bother to stop. The M60 bus was packed with people.

Waiting in the cold for the next bus would only get me to the airport with no time to check-in. So, I withdrew some money from an ATM at the gas station and caught a cab. I arrived at the airport and even before the sun was up, the place was packed and chaotic.

I checked-in at the kiosk and dropped off my bags. As I turned the corner to security I found the longest line I've ever seen while traveling. The line snaked and wrapped around the inner halls of the airport.

Even though it was early, I took out my phone and started to call
Antuan to let him know that I doubted I'd make it through security in time to make the plane.

But...I did.

I made it through security and was on the plane with only a couple minutes to spare.

I arrived in Nashville and was greeted at the airport by
Antun and a spread of flowers that looked like winter. We got my bags and made our way to the rental car place.

I've written about our previous visit to the rental car booth at the Nashville airports. The two women, one older and one younger, who snickered and laughed at us before we stepped up to the counter. As we walked up to the counter, I noticed that the woman at the counter was the young woman who had been there before.

As she was processing our rental she asked if you could list me as Significant Other. I answered, "Yes." As she typed, she explained that as
Antuan's Significant Other we wouldn't have to pay for me to be an Additional Driver on the car (like we did on my last visit). I thanked her. It was such a unexpected moment of equality. Our relationship was validated in that moment. We were seen as a couple.

It can seem small and insignificant...but, I promise you, it isn't. Small things like that moment shape your confidence and make you feel that you're not invisible.

My days in Nashville were wonderful. Relaxing and all too short. I did see the show again on Christmas Eve and then celebrated the holiday with the cast of the show at private restaurant. At said party there was an open bar that everyone enjoyed. I ordered my favorite drink: a Godiva White Chocolate Martini. As I we ate and drank, several people wanted to know what I was drinking and soon the drink was being passed around and people were sipping.

The next thing I knew...people were standing in line ordering their own. The drink became the hit of the night. Since I'm not a big drinker, I found it interesting my drink was setting the tone of the evening.

Christmas morning we were up early and unwrapping the presents around the tree. It was one of the best Christmas morning's I can remember. After the presents and breakfast we went to the movie theater for the Opening of

I loved the film. I loved the film because it was true to the Broadway musical. I thought the performance by Jennifer Hudson was the standout turn in the film. I've been very happy for her and all of the attention her work has garnered. Good on her.

I flew back to NYC Christmas night and I was back to work the next day. New Year's was celebrated in both time zones. I rang in the New Year with friend's Sara and Kat in their Upper East Side digs and
Antuan celebrated with the cast of the show at the hotel. They did their last show and then partied the night away.

The next night
Antuan, and some other members of the cast, flew back to New York. I was at the airport waiting. It was good to have him home.

The following weeks
wer filled with time spent finding our routines again. When he was in Nashville and I was here in NYC, our relationship was defined by phone calls, daily re-caps, notes, letters, e-mails, and compressed 4-day visits to Tennessee. Now back in New York and being together we started to do more things to feel settled in a life here. We got a bed for his place, started visiting a church we both enjoy, seeing shows and spent time with each other's friends.

A couple of weeks ago...I celebrated my 32
nd birthday. Elizabeth and Antuan and a group of co-workers met up after work and celebrated. It was a wonderful day. I celebrated with him in the morning, then I worked all day, and then celebrated with a everyone else. It was a full day.

And I think that about catches me up...

Random things...that were apart of the last couple of months...

The movie...Pan's
Labyrinth. It's brilliants from beginning to end. Visually stunning.

Visit: http://www.panslabyrinth.com/

The play...The Little Dog Laughed. Hysterical. I've seen it 3 times. The week I got a group from the store together and we all saw it together. It is one of the funniest shows I've ever seen and I wanted to share that with them.

The musicals...My dear friends Arnold and Damon gave me an 'experience' for Christmas. The gift of seeing a show. So the other day I saw the new revival of Sondheim's musical, Company. I knew the music but had never seen it staged. Getting to see Doyle's direction of the show (last year he directed the TONY nominated revival of Sweeny Todd. In his productions the actors never leave the stage and they also play all the show's music. Amazing.) was just the 'experience' I would ant as a gift. It was great.

Visit: http://www.companyonbroadway.com/

The Apple Tree. This wonderful musical revival was a brand new show for me. I was familiar with the score or the story...or in the case, stories. The Apple Tree is a collection of 3 short musicals based on different authors work. The through line is carried by Kristin Chenoweth. Watching her play three completely different characters in three very different roles was very entertaining for the audience and she charmed us.

Visit: http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/studio54.htm


The Documentary...Grey Gardens. It was released in 1975, the year I was born, but I had never heard of it until recently. The reason I heard about it was because of a new musical of the same name that was a hit off-Broadway and has now moved to Broadway.

Grey Garden is a documentary that explores the lives of the Beales of East Hamptons. "Little Edie" and "Big Edie" were the reclusive relatives of Jackie Kennedy. They lived in a 28 room mansion that was deemed unfit for human life. The film is just fascinating. It is great study of co-dependence and inter-dependence. The daughter, "Little Edie", speaks constantly of leaving the house and going to New York - but she never does. She says she stays because her mother needs her. Her mother, "Big Edie", talks about constantly about not needing her daughter there, then calls for her constantly. They bicker and fight, turn around and admire one another before starting to fight again. It is a tragic train wreck of humanity. Women with so much but no sense of what they have. Their clothes no longer fit - so they form make shift outfits out of random articles of clothes, the house is overun with cats, instead of cleaning they just cover dirty furniture with newspapers to sit on. There are major holes in the walls where Raccoons crawl out...so naturally, they feed them. "Little Edie" takes new loaves of bread and scatters it around the decaying floor and the raccoons quickly arrive to dine. It's bizarre. The whole thing is tragic and bizarre.

In two words: See it.

...and there you have it. Now, I'm caught up.

ENJOY and THANK YOU for all the e-mails and cards asking me when I would be updating my Journal. You got me back on track.


The beautiful flowers Antuan surprised me with at the airport, now on display in the hotel. A hotel-kind-of-Christmas with our small Christmas tree. Christmas Eve after-show party with the cast of the Radio City Music Hall's Christmas show.

Sara played bartender New Year's Eve. And Kat surprised Sara with a ring when the clock struck 12. Insert an "Ahhh" right here.
The Little Dog Laughed Gang. Clockwise from Left to Right. Thomas, Antuan, Me, Ceece (Ti), Ashley, and Karen.