Thursday, June 29, 2006

Impending Canuck

I am excited today. Atwitter, in fact. Tweet.

Ted, the one and only Ted, he of The Princess Diaries and Knitterguy, is coming to visit. The sheep have been outdoing themselves making the humble abode presentable and yesterday I heard the band practicing "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd Have Baked a Cake" (Dolores has a harmonica solo).

Somehow, though, until last night we all overlooked a detail of paramount importance.

Ted is Canadian.

We have relatively little in-person experience of Canadians at my house. It's one thing to make contact through the blogs, and they sure seem like nice people, but it's another to actually host one. I'm not certain we're properly prepared. Among my worries:
  • Should I crank up the air conditioning to "Severe Wind Chill" so he'll feel at home?
  • Will I have to say everything to him twice, once in English and once in French?
  • Do Canadians have special dietary needs? Or can I just feed him normal food?
  • Will he expect to play hockey every morning before breakfast?
  • Would it be unwise to mention Celine Dion in a negative light? Am I capable of mentioning Celine Dion in any other light?
  • On a related note, are Canadians still touchy about the ultimate failure of Bryan Adams to achieve staying power on the pop charts?
  • Do I still have that Mountie uniform in the back of the closet?
  • Should I have taken the time to finally figure out what the hell "curling" is?
  • If I giggle every time he says "about" will he get upset?
I'm not anticipating trouble, but one hears so many stories about the Canadian tendency to attack at the slightest provocation, and one wishes to avoid an international incident.

Dolores says we'll be okay as long as he doesn't smell our fear. Wish us luck, eh?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Moist with Pride

Hi. It's Dolores. What's new with you?

Yesterday was Chicago's Pride March, and the Boss had his annual two sips of Heineken. As usual, this knocked him flat on his caboose and so he's asked me to step in and give an account of the festivities. And they were festive in spite of the fact that for most of the day it was pissing down rain.

I'm only to happy to do the post after reading back through the past several entries and seeing what has been written about me. Were I not 1) bred to be demure and 2) a dedicated Taoist, I would fume and rage and sue for defamation. It's only too apparent that before I arrived this blog was a backwater, and my good character is being assassinated in order to ratchet up the numbers.

I trust none of you has been fooled by his lurid fantasias. I will admit to having something of a past, but when he tells you that, for example, I rode the former Bishop of Birmingham's wife like a show pony, please try to remember there are two sides to every story. Also that Anglican women have no sense of humor.

Where was I?

Pride Day. Yes. While the boys snored and drooled, I got up at the ass crack of dawn to fix a hearty, nourishing breakfast for all of us. Omelettes, hash browns, the works, plus a radiant rainbow salad of julienned vegetables with my own special vinaigrette. You have perhaps heard of my vinaigrette. There was an incident in the 70s when I caught Julia Child sneaking around the kitchen during one of my pool parties, trying to find the recipe. The press had a field day with the story. May I take a moment and set the record straight? It is true that I let Julia know I did not approve of her snooping. It is not true that I tried to feed her face-first into the Cuisinart.

Where was I?

Breakfast. Yes. It was all going splendidly and then there was a knock at the door from the Colt model who lives in our building. The poor guy was shirtless, in a frenzy, and told me he needed to borrow some Crisco. I chided him for leaving not preparing his pie crust in advance, whereupon he admitted to being a bad, bad boy. I gave him a little slap on his pert little bum, and then he said I really should get the Crisco, and then I did, and then we got to talking about grease and whatnot and before you could say "flaky and tender" the omelettes had gone and caught fire.

Well, you would think Franklin had never burned anything in the kitchen, which my taste buds and I will assure you is not the case. He was screaming and jumping like a man possessed, and even a quite appreciative comment from our neighbor when his kimono accidentally flew open didn't calm him down.

After a fashion we put the fire out, and cleaned most of the Crisco off the floor, but by that time I needed to start my beauty regimen so I headed for the tub. If my culinary efforts aren't appreciated, as far as I'm concerned the household may breakfast on cold cereal and toast.

Four hours later, on the dot, we were stationed in a prime viewing spot along Broadway with our upstairs neighbor Buzz–the Rhoda to Franklin's Mary as it were. Or the Ethel to his Lucy. Or the Gog to his Magog. Or the...forget it.

Franklin had his camera, and threw himself with great gusto into documenting the parade. Here are a few snaps, which I will organize thematically.

Theme One: Drag

For somebody who claims to find drag unnerving, Franklin can't seem to leave the queens alone on Pride Day. I think he's just afraid he might find that putting on a tiara and a pair of fishnets would make him feel a not unpleasant tingle in his tummy.

This one calls herself "Miss Foozie" and she's quite a feature of the local landscape. Not unlike the Rocky Mountains are for Denver.

I'd been wondering what Tina Turner was up to these days.

After he shot this picture Franklin gasped, "Omigod, he's a trainer at my gym."

Auntie Mame says olives take up too much room.

The glamour of the lifestyle has faded somewhat for this title holder.

Define "fair."

Man? Woman?

When this one rode past Franklin said, "Hey, does she remind you of anybody?" and they all snickered. Must be some weird in-joke.

Theme Two: Groups

You have two kinds of groups who march in the parade. You have the kind who hire a generic float and take their clothes off and expect that to make a statement, and then you have the kind who put a little effort into it.

Without wishing to slight the barechested, we will here celebrate the creativity of the latter group.

I don't remember the cause, but I adore the hats.

Kings and queens, simultaneously. Top that, Mrs. Windsor-Mountbatten.

Art students from Columbia College...

...who were singing along to a phat house remix of "The Lonely Goatherd"

Theme Three: Chicks

The biological variety.

She's either happy, high, or hallucinating from dehydration.

This one's for Franklin's sister. (The photo, I mean. Not the woman.)

Woman? Man?

In my next life I wish to be Brazilian.


I wonder what she had to do to earn all those beads?

As the wonderful old Styne/Sondheim song says, all she needs now is the girl.

I'd heard them called "little girls" but never before seen it interpreted literally.

A naughty schoolgirl from the Tulip Adult Boutique float shows us what's under her kilt.

Buzz's reaction to the above. His enduring innocence is so cute.

Theme Four: Dudes

Franklin says he took these only in order to make certain he could present a well-rounded photojournalistic account of the event. What a trooper.

If you just scrolled right down to these without reading the rest, you go right back up to the top and start over. No cheating allowed.

Oh, the places that tongue must have been.

The Lutherans are apparently trying out new ways to win converts.

Care for a little Bacardi?

The Brazilian gene pool is so deeply unfair to the rest of us.

Which bit do I rub to get my three wishes?

You know what they say about the green ones.

Dresses funny, but has access to unlimited chocolate.

Peel back protective labels before use.

From a float extolling the virtues of cleanliness.

Nice hat.

Can you just imagine the fight they must have had about what to wear to the parade?

We do not approve of the rope belt trend, but we will overlook it this once.

I wonder if he caught cold. Note the banana in the background. You're about to read more about the banana.

Theme Five: The Banana Lady

In spite of all other attractions, Pride 2006 will forever be known to my boys as the Year of the Banana. No, not that kind.

There was this woman on the sidelines who had for reasons unexplained chosen to attend the parade dressed as a banana. She bore striking resemblance to Britney Spears in not only her fashion sense, but also in her deportment and appetite for cheap beer.

As is their wont, the boys immediately became obsessed with the Banana Lady. Me, I cannot imagine anything more revolting than a badly dressed woman exhibiting public drunkeness.

Franklin shot enough frames to create a montage of her many moods.

Banana Lady was not a registered parade participant, but nonetheless became the de facto cheerleader for an entire stretch of Broadway. She yelled her head off for every float, group, and straggler who passed by. As the Gay Something Something for Something Gay Justice filed past, she screamed "I love justice!"

C, whose mania for the abnormal knows no bounds (look who he's dating) had a picture taken with her.

We last encountered the Banana Lady sitting on a beer cooler (how fitting) after the parade. We waved and she waved back.

"You guys are my best friends!" she shouted. This, dear readers, is a banana with a hell of a lot of love to give.

As a parting shot, I give you Franklin's portrait of our little band of comrades after the last float, dedicated to a gay-friendly aluminum siding firm, had rolled past and yet another Pride Parade became only a beer-stained memory smelling faintly of body fluids.

Time for a cigarette. Peace out. Go hug a queer person.


Friday, June 23, 2006

The Dardanelles and Rhodes

If I have learned anything about photography in the five years since I first picked up a camera,* it's that you absolutely never know when you're going to have a good shooting day and when you're not.

Case in point: Rhodes. The town was enchanting. We docked right in the middle of the action.

The Minerva in Rhodes
The Minerva II in Rhodes

I had a very long morning on my own to work it over, and yet my photos are decidedly humdrum. Here's the best of a mediocre lot from that day.

In the morning I'd got up at 5:30 to watch our passage through the Dardanelles. I wasn't alone–at least twenty other passengers had the same idea. Most of them seemed to be interested in the World War I memorials. I was in a more romantic mood, with Hero and Leander, and the Trojan War, uppermost in my mind.

This, according to legend, is Hero's tower. The strait does narrow at this point considerably, and I enjoyed imagining Leander's late-night swims back and forth.

Of course, having now seen the Hellespont I am certain of one thing. Hero can't possibly have been giving Leander any cookies. If she had, he'd have knocked off the swimming, stayed on his side of the water and watched television all night.

This is not a sleepy backwater. As has been the case forever, there's a lot of commercial traffic. But even that looks pretty in the right light.

Ship in the Dardanelles
African freighter in the Dardanelles

Rhodes Town itself was great. The main drag seethes with tourists, but all you have to do is turn down a side lane (I recommend going left if you're heading uphill on Socrates Steet) and you'll find yourself in the old residential quarter. I've never seen anything like it. I'm afraid I was probably too impressed to see it clearly and take interesting photographs.

House courtyard, Rhodes
House courtyard, Rhodes Town

Weaver, Rhodes
A weaver, Rhodes Town

Ice Cream Van, Rhodes
Ice Cream Van

A street, Rhodes Town
A residential street

Stalls in a niche, Rhodes Town
Stalls in a small neighborhood church

When I say the church above was small, I mean it would fit in my (not large) living room. This is fully half the seats.

In the afternoon we drove to Lindos, a ruined town beautifully situated on a hill above the sea. It was, at that point, the most complete ancient settlement I'd ever seen. Exploring it was intense. But my photos, alas, are not.

However, the excursion did yield one rara avis in the form of a photograph of myself that I actually like. (Thanks, Ed.)

In the forum at Lindos, Rhodes
In the forum, Lindos

Dolores stuck to the shops, where she bought a cunning little model of the Colossus of Rhodes. When you tug on the torch, his skirt flies up and a wooden match pops out.

"I feel that art should be a practical part of everyday life," said Dolores. "Me and Ruskin, we have that in common."

*My camera (thanks for asking, Jess) is a Canon 20D. I use two zoom lenses: a 24-70 mm, and a 70-200 mm. That's what I've been using since Christmas. Everything before that was taken with my first camera, a Canon G2 that I tricked out with third-party wide-angle and telephoto converters.