It’s Pride Month. We’re still being erased.

My wife Cynthia and I saw Fun Home on tour over the weekend.

We’d seen it on Broadway (I surprised her with tickets for her birthday) and loved it. So when friends who hadn’t seen it suggested that we go see the touring production together, we said yeah!

But there are some real problems with the touring production.

First, there’s everything laid out in Sinister Woman’s excellent post about the de-butching of Fun Home. Big Alison’s awful , un-butch costume made us both angry. How can this be the culmination of the girl who wanted to wear nothing but t-shirts? The girl who argued with her dad about wearing a dress, a barrette in her hair? The girl who sang “Ring of Keys” because she saw something of herself in the delivery woman at the diner?

Even more importantly, the actor just doesn’t do justice to the part. Kate Shindle has a great singing voice. But that’s all she brings to the role. Her stance, her gestures, her walk: none of them read as butch. She lurked around the stage, watching her younger selves without adding anything meaningful (more on that below).

The other thing Cyn and I both noticed was the de-sexualization of the character. The moment that Alison and Joan get together can be so powerful. College-kid I’ve-never-kissed-a-girl-before awkwardness gives way to sweet affection and sexual longing. On Broadway, that moment was hot. It felt real. I loved it.

But now they’re playing it for laughs. Alison is all flailing limbs and slapstick hilarity. There’s nothing sexy about it. This is the *one* moment of the play that shows lesbian romance and sexuality. And they threw it away for comedy, presumably so they wouldn’t make Middle America uncomfortable. This production has decided that lesbians can’t be sexual, and that same-sex love can’t be romantic. It must be minimized. It’s better when the audience can laugh at it.

Here’s the thing about lesbians. We fall in love. We have sex. With each other.

Minimizing those things leads to a lot of misunderstanding. It affects how people perceive us. We are people, not a punchline.

As I mentioned above, we went with friends who hadn’t seen it before. One of them commented that she hadn’t expected it to be so much about Alison’s father. It was an interesting comment, and it made me think.

Grown-up Alison spends a lot of time on stage, watching her younger selves, reflecting on her childhood, and coming to terms with her life through the cartoons that she is creating. When the actor playing Alison lurks without introspection, when she recites captions without illuminating the journey that each one reflects, she erases her own character’s role in controlling the story. That upsets the balance of the show, so that it feels more like Bruce’s story, told through Alison’s eyes, rather than Alison’s story in which Bruce plays a major part.

I did love seeing Fun Home again. It’s a brilliantly written show that holds so much meaning for me, and to countless other queer women who can finally see aspects of their own coming out on stage. But this production is problematic in a number of ways — each one directly linked to the parts of the show that make it meaningful to queer women. It’s a betrayal of the very reason I loved the show to begin with.

Also, it’s Pride Month. We still have plenty to fight for.

{This post wouldn’t exist without many conversations with Cynthia. These are her thoughts, too.}

 

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The veggie, the vegan, the raw.

My grandmother used to take my family to Chester, Connecticut once in a while. There was a French restaurant called Restaurant du Village that served the loveliest vegetable terrine.

Chester, Connecticut

Chester, Connecticut

I hadn’t been back to Chester in years. But now there’s a vegan/vegetarian/raw food restaurant there, named for its address: Six Main. It’s the subject of my latest food story. Read it here.

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A sweet tooth’s guide to New Haven.

Or, in other words, my guide to New Haven in the Hartford Courant.

With some photos that didn’t make it into the article.

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Apostrophe Day

(Today isn’t the official Apostrophe Day, but who cares?)

From @samtanner:

“An apostrophe is the difference between a business that knows its shit and a business that knows it’s shit.”

Meanwhile, the New Haven Public Library has sent out a flyer stating that it is “accepting donations for it’s big book sale.”

No!

Library people, please consult one of your many books. Or The Apostrophe Protection Society.

And finally, for amusement, I offer you:

Apostrophe Catastrophes.

 

 

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Cooking up the CSA

This year, I bought a share in a CSA (community-supported agriculture). My first farm share.

I don’t really do recipes, but I did want to share some delicious combinations of foods that I’ve stumbled upon while cooking up my weekly baskets of food.

Lemony greens and rice

Arborio rice, cooked risotto-style with vegetable broth and a chopped onion

+

Kale and chard, chopped and sauteed with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and walnuts

Not your average mac and cheese

Sauteed cauliflower + onion + green bell peppers + penne pasta + cheddar cheese sauce

A New England Jewish girl gets over her fear of collards

A chopped and sautéed onion + a few ears of fresh corn, cut from the cob + a chopped green bell pepper + blanched collard greens  + a little salt, pepper, and cumin

Fresh Peaches

Take one peach. Wash. Eat. Make sure to catch the dripping peach juice before it falls.

Repeat.

Actual Recipes

If you want real recipes, here are two from people who are famous for such things. I’ve made them both and love them.

Tomato and Corn Pie (from Smitten Kitchen)

Tomato Sauce with Eggplant, Caponata Style (from Mark Bittman)

Enjoy.

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Influence, schminfluence.

As  I was just looking at Klout and finding great amusement in its assessment of my online influence.

screen-shot-klout

According to Klout, I am influential about:

  • Music (duh)
  • Homosexuality (hello, gay now!)
  • Photography (yes, I take pictures)
  • Instruments (musical?)
  • Blogging (welcome to my blog!)
  • Family (I have parents and a brother and a sister-in-law and aunts and uncles and cousins, and once I wrote about my family’s Thanksgiving…)
  • War

War?

I’m influential about WAR? Continue reading

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Gnaoua or never

Essaouira is a great place to end a trip through Morocco. The cool air and wind from the sea felt wonderful after the intense heat of the desert. Seagulls wheeled and cried, and waves crashed on the rocky shore and nearby islands. The smells of salt and fish blew through the air.

essaouira

Walking through the narrow streets in the medina, I fell in love with the shades of blue. Against the high white walls of the old houses, shutters and doors are painted pale blue or turquoise. Sometimes they’re surrounded with a border of yellow. I wanted to paint everything in my house white and golden yellow and pale blue.

essaouira

And Essaouira is mellow. Even full of Moroccan visitors and European tourists, it felt relaxed and peaceful. If I lived in Europe, I might make it a regular vacation spot.

We were there for the Gnaoua and World Music Festival. (It’s also spelled Gnawa, but I seem to gravitate toward spelling Moroccan names the French way rather than English). Pronounce all the letters: Guh-now-ah. The title of this post, by the way, is stolen from some posters and t-shirts we saw at the festival. Continue reading

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Sahara road trip, Part I

We were a little nervous about renting a car in Morocco. But we asked a lot of questions, listened to stories from other travelers, and decided to do it.

Sitting on the couch at Mami Tours, we asked: is it an automatic? Does it have air conditioning? Does it have a CD player? Yes, yes, yes, he said.

Two out of three isn’t so bad. It’s just that it’s been a long time since I’ve driven a car with manual transmission. And that was in New Zealand, on the other side of the road. And car.

But it comes back to you.

Even on roads like this.

winding road in the atlas mountains

With goats crossing. (Sorry for the windshield smudge in the photo.)

goats crossing the road in the atlas mountains

Mara took the wheel first and navigated the traffic and roundabouts of Marrakesh and our first taste of Moroccan highway. Once we started to approach the Atlas Mountains, we switched.

goats grazing in atlas mountains

The Tizi-n-Tichka Pass is Morocco’s highest road pass, reaching 2260 meters (7413 feet) before descending again. The road winds through pale rock, green valleys, red rock, cedar forest, and black rock before it brings you into the desert. Continue reading

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A fes in Fes. Or a fez in Fez, if you rather.

French spelling, English spelling, whatever.

I bought a fes in the town of Fes. My brother used to collect hats, and I couldn’t help myself. I gave it to him when I got back yesterday.

Since internet wasn’t quite as easy to come by in Morocco as I’d anticipated, I’m going to write a bit about my trip now that I’m home.

We arrived in Fes late in the day. Once we finally landed in Casablanca (after the saga of the cancelled flight and the unhelpful airline and the new flight a day later with a layover that hadn’t been part of our original itinerary), we took the train to Casa’s main station and then hopped the express train to Fes.

When we stepped off the train, bleary-eyed and travel-weary, the sky was pink from the setting sun, and the call to prayer echoed even through the station. The moon was already rising. Finally, we were where we wanted to be.

The Fes medina (old city) is said to be the world’s largest car-free area. The little car we’d gotten into parked outside a gate, and we took our bags and followed our driver into the narrow streets. Some were steep enough to have steps on one side. All curved and intersected unpredictably. It was getting dark, and only men – and a couple of mules pulling carts – walked the streets. Small groups of men sat on low chairs, smoking and talking drinking glasses of mint tea. Continue reading

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The Sahara

I just spent ages typing a post about driving through the Atlas Mountains to see the Sahara, and it’s gone. So for now: I’m in Marrakech, heading to Essaouira this afternoon, and I’ll write another time about remembering how to drive stick on winding mountain roads, riding a camel through red sand dunes, sleeping under the stars, and wandering through old kasbahs with crumbling pisé walls.

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