Cawfee Talk VI

Tawlk amongst yourselves! I'll give you a tawpic:
"The mammal, Guinea Pig is neither from Guinea nor a Pig ... discuss"

The Queen should have an additional post on this week’s Untucked by the end of the day. In the meantime, in addition to whether or not the supervisor has put on a few pounds–here are some other things to talk about in the Break Room:


The Queen ain’t gon’ lie: I’ll be watching this show primarily because it’s got a Woman of Color in the lead role, and was created by Shonda Rhimes–arguably the most powerful sister in Hollywood. It thrills me to no end that her name alone is a series draw. The word is still out for me as to what I think of Kerry Washington as an actor. She has been in some amazing films, but to be honest–her work has never really stood out for me. She however looks quite capable in the promos. It also stars Tony Goldwyn as the President of the U.S. A million years ago, the Queen and Mr. Goldwyn were in a new play by Tennessee Williams at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Massachusetts. It was called Gideon’s Point, and was sort of “Blanche Dubois meets 007.” It was chocked full of gay themes–complete with Secret Service-like male guards (of which I was one) who did each other on the side. It sucked. But Tennessee Williams was a part of the rehearsal process, so the Queen got to work with one of his literary idols. How can you beat that?

Royal Fashion Crisis

The Queen is in a quandary. Okay, it’s not really that much of a quandary…but I LOVE the alliteration in that sentence!!!

For the past 5 years or so, I’ve been going through a difficult period. Things are still quite rocky, but my outlook has changed. Be the change you want to see–that sort of thing. That includes dress. The Queen wants to update the wardrobe with some classic pieces and also a few trendy items. But I’ve been so out of the modern fashion scene for so long, I’m not quite sure in which direction to turn. So:
Fellas: What items are you purchasing this season? What are your must-haves for the Spring and Summer?
Ladies: What kinds of clothes do you like to see men in? Are there trends that you think suck or excite you? Help a monarch out.

Well. Just imagine that.

it seems that there is a surveillance tape from the Sanford, Florida Police Department that shows George Zimmerman being brought into the station on the night of Trayvon’s death. In it, there seems to be no evidence of outward physical trauma to Mr. Zimmerman. Yet the police in that community still stand by their initial report of his injuries.

Today I am musing on why some people feel such a strong need to vilify this boy? I don’t care if his school records indicate that he was drowning baby kittens in the custodian’s slop sink–that has nothing to do with the case. Is it just that people have a hard time fathoming someone shooting a kid for no reason? Unfortunately it happens all of the time. Why, as a nation are we having such a difficult time with this?


26 thoughts on “Cawfee Talk VI

  1. Ah, what’s an intellectually lazy culture to do? We want our decisions to be easy, with ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys.’ We want our law breakers to also be visibly creepy and unlikable, our victims to be pure of heart and saintly in nature.

    Especially if the technical, legal stuff doesn’t track intuitively with our view of events we want an emotionally intuitive reason to back up our opinions.

    Not, to be fair, that America is alone in this or that it’s anything new. It’s human nature. I have a bright, high-achieving, involved in the community, etc. daughter who has gotten into some “typical teen” trouble with similarly supposedly “good kid” friends. It’s interesting how even the parents and school administrators (who ALL ought to know better) have a hard time figuring out what attitudes to strike and how to respond when they can’t just stereotype kids as the ‘good kids’ and the ‘troublemakers.’ The evidence can clearly show that there is no. such. dichotomy. – but even the people who know these kids the best involuntarily keep trying to frame things in that way.

    It’s easier to say “Newt Gingrich is a moral hypocrite, what with all those affairs & leaving flat any wife who has the nerve to get sick or older” than to study his politics and his work style and decide if his positions on the issues suit you and if the fact that he’s smart and is past master at working the congressional system overcome his reputation as a sometimes volatile loose cannon. Just as it was easier to say “A viable African-American presidential candidate- at last! And he has congressional experience and he’s smart & his family’s adorable and scandal-free and he’s saying he wants a change!” than to study his record and work style and to decide if his positions on the issues suit you and if all his positives balance out the fact that he’s a bit of a policy wonk who just about always tried to work within the congressional status quo – not a rabble raising barn [and bridge] burner.

    At this point, I’m just hoping there’s enough evidence to clearly decide if Zimmerman transgressed Florida law. All the emotional cries for “justice for Trayvon” make me sad – because so much disappointment and anger is going to ensue. Florida law is not, I fear, going to provide grounds for any kind of murder conviction & the associated punishment.

    I do hope that the part of the crime that CAN be addressed – the way the authorities seem to have mishandled the investigation for no other reason than that the victim is a black, male, teenager – IS addressed. I know that money can mean NOTHING to Trayvon’s parents in the context of losing their son, but if the only way to wake up law enforcement is for them to sue the bejeesus out of that county, I hope they do so.

    The only real justice (as has been discussed by finer minds than mine) will be if laws allowing wide latitude in the use of violence & firearms are re-thought and, one hopes, tightened up & if law enforcement entities that are not [at least trying to be] race-blind are put under new pressure to be so.

    • While I agree that we should look to a candidate’s record and stand on various issues, I think Newt’s moral hypocrisy cannot be ignored. Everybody is a hypocrite at some point, but he’s such a hypocrite that it’s almost a shame he can’t get paid for it. Maybe then he’d stay the hell out of politics.

      He is, I have to admit, very smart. Possibly brilliant, even. For that reason alone I’m horrified that Santorum is doing better in the primaries that he is. I’m a diehard democrat, past liberal to the point of being one of them there commie progressives; but if the Repubs win, I’m praying it’s with Gingrich or Romney. I’m not a fan of any of them, but Santorum is *the most* dangerous candidate out there right now.

      Before I go into a rant about how Santorum needs to admit he’s not fit for any job other than being a night manager at Denny’s, I’m going to change the subject. All the info that’s been leaked about Trayvon’s school record is just the damn (I don’t know how much we’re allowed to swear here. I’m tempted to use a much stronger word) media looking for an angle, while hiding behind the guise of giving us the facts. Anyone who’s had a direct encounter with any news outlet (paper, TV, take your pick) knows they always have to have an angle. Taking pot to school is stupid. You know what? Kids have been taking drugs to school since the late ’60s. At least half my high school class was stoned most of the time. Our valedictorian came to school tripping his ass off 2 or 3 times a week.

      I’m not saying it’s OK to take drugs to school. But it’s not news and it’s irrelevant to what happened. I’m sure there are people out there who are scandalized by it, and/or are having a big time using this fact as a way to justify the shooting. I can only hope they’re numbers are small. Trayvon’s family has been through enough grief.

      • Oh, I’m with you on the Republican candidates. Although I sometimes wonder if Santorum would scare the center & left into turning out in higher numbers than I fear they (we) are going to.

        What the news media are doing is dreadful, as it always is, for those at the center of it. This boy’s family is going through hell and the harder they fight for some kind of justice for their son, or even just for some positive changes to be made as a result of their personal tragedy, the worse the maelstrom around them will get and the longer the public side of their hell will continue.

        I hope somebody digs up some more verifiable video or audio – I really, really want there to be such a preponderance of evidence about what happened that Florida law & any applicable federal law can play itself out fairly briskly. And the concerned citizenry can move on to dealing with how their publicly supported institutions let everybody down, and maybe Trayvon’s family will able to choose if and when they are in the public eye.

    • I wonder what a populace which saw things in shades of gray as opposed to (pardon the pun) black and white, would be like? As I get older, it’s so much harder for me to out and out judge someone based simply on my perceptions or feelings. That may be the starting place, but I’m so much more aware of the fact that we all have different internal stories about an event that may or may not be factual or relevant. As much rage as I feel for what happened to a young person with their whole life ahead of them, I can’t for the life of me demonize his killer. Maybe it’s my acting training: you can’t successfully play a character as evil. No one thinks of themselves as evil. You have to find the “person” behind the villain.

      I once played a drug dealer who married the mother of a teenage son and daughter. During the course of the play, he ends up trying to seduce the 17 year old daughter and actually rapes the 15 year old son on a playground with the hilt of a gun. Typing those words even now makes me shudder. The rape would occur at the end of the first act and I would spend intermission in the dressing room crying my eyes out. I HATED that character. I don’t believe in the Death Penalty, but I would want him to fry if he were a real human being. However I think I was successful in the role because I never played him as evil. I created a character who actually thought he was doing the 15 year old a favor by teaching him a lesson.

      I think in the three times I’ve served on a jury I’ve been successful because I can look at things objectively–except when it comes to child abuse. I was very surprised I made it through the voire dire process of such a case because I was very honest about the fact that I would assume guilt until the defendant was proven innocent.

      I am working hard not to do that with Mr. Zimmerman. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult.

      • I’m with you on the difficulty in seeing things in b&w.

        I don’t know how actors do the emotionally wrenching things you do. (I’ve done a lot of amateur theater but only on the tech side). I can barely *watch* anything emotionally difficult.

  2. Male fashion:
    I’m not really gonna be too helpful, here. You need a guy with a nice sharp eye who understands better than I do how runway fashion translates into real life.

    Personally, I hate anything that screams preppy. I like a man in classic styles, maybe some play in the fabrics. In fact, that’s where I think a man should splash out – not necessarily flashy, but playing with the rich or slightly unexpected in color and texture in fabric makes me notice a guy’s clothing. Slightly over-dressed is better than way under-dressed, especially as we get a little older. Simple is better than fussy, unless you can pull off the confirmed dandy persona.

    You’re an actor, so you know all about carrying yourself with quiet grace (or a bit of a strut, if the spirit moves & the occasion demands) and really, that’s half of a fella’s appearance right there. And you probably know more than most about using clothing with, or against, your body type. And the importance of sucking it up and spending the money to have things tailored so they sit right on your body.

    I have my eye on the trend to velvet jackets, for men & women. Only you (or your trusted on-the-spot advisors) can judge if that look suits you. I know there is (or, there is in my mind) the idea that the middle-aged artsy-type/would-be bohemian in a velvet blazer, scarf & corduroys or jeans is a bit of a ’70s stereotype. But I don’t think you should avoid an elegant velvet jacket just for that reason, should one follow you home from the designer outlet stores.

    • It is SO funny that you should mention velvet jackets. I was looking at one just last week and asking myself if I thought I could pull it off.

      I definitely tend to lean toward classic cuts and fabrics. And even though I’m at the half-century mark, I look younger (I got carded the other day and I almost kissed the vendor), I have no need to dress like I am. Although I would like to find one or two trendier items or accessories.

      I think I may just have to go back for that jacket…

  3. You were at Williamstown? Damn, wish I’d seen that. I live in the southern Berkshires; WTF is about an hour’s drive from me. I’ve worked at Berkshire Theater Festival (behind the scenes) as an intern many moons ago and attended plays there, but haven’t had the chance to head up north to see a WTF performance.

    As to fashion, I’m more of a “if it looks good on you” person, although I do like to see a man in a nice tailored suit. Mostly, I like to see clothes on a man that fit him properly, not too tight, not too baggy, nothing sloppy or worn-out. The way I see it, it’s often the man wearing the clothes that makes the fashion. If you carry yourself with confidence and grace, you can make almost anything look good.

    • I haven’t been to WTF in decades. But I was in awe of the talent and the productions that the original Artistic Director-Nikos Psacharopoulos-got up there during the summer. When Gwyneth Paltrow won her Academy Award, it struck me that she would come to our shows with her mother Blythe Danner who was working on the Main Stage. I thought “I used to push that child on the swings!” Small world.

  4. Okay, third place we have in common, DC, NYC, now Williamstown. I grew up there – well, from when I was nine until I went away to college.

    • Getting scary here.

      What an incredible place to grow up!

      Okay. I’m about to get very gay here. There was a pasture in the Berkshire Mountains that I could see from the house where I was staying on the campus of Williams College. It looked EXACTLY like the setting in the Alps where Maria sings in the opening of The Sound of Music. For the two seasons that I spent at the Festival, I tried desperately to get up the mountain to that spot. I was foiled by everything from dogs to angry cows (one day I have to write those particular misadventures down). I never made it.

      It’s now on my Bucket List.

      • I lived just down from the Williams campus, right on Main Street, in a really old brick house that had once been a tavern where George Washington reportedly slept (well, actually, he didn’t live enough nights to sleep in all the places that make that claim, but anyway) So you definitely passed by it because you couldn’t not. If you remember the old dive cafe the Dugout (if it wasn’t gone by then) on the corner of Water and Main, I was just three doors down from that. The house was sold in 1975 when my parents divorced.

        The high school I went to was a regional school between Williamstown and Lanesborough, so it was way out in the country (as opposed to the booming “downtown”), and across the street there was this big pasture with cows, and a lovely view of Mt. Greylock in the distance. It was like everywhere you turned in that place there was some ridiculously stunning and picturesque view, it was almost overkill! But, yeah, it was a pretty great place to grow up. Oh, and a great theater with really amazingly talented people!

  5. “Why, as a nation are we having such a difficult time with this?”

    Because it’s UNFATHOMABLE. Not only that it happened, but that nothing is being done about it. My heart breaks, every time I see Trayvon’s picture.

  6. First of all, I am in absolute AWE that you got to work with Tennessee Williams. Amazing. I would love to hear more about that experience sometime.

    Fashion crisis–I can relate. I’ve been in one for about five years. Just exactly what is appropriate for a tall, skinny, balding, 49-year-old gay man to wear? I see some gay men my age trying to remain very stylish and wear the latest trends, and for the most part, they end up looking more than a little silly–they are just trying too hard to be hip. It’s one thing to wear hip clothes when you’re 25, or even 35, and quite another when you’re 50. My default is jeans, a nice shirt and a sports jacket. Not sure what other options are out there for us middle-aged guys, really. I guess I need a stylist. (Of course, being unemployed, I can’t afford a new wardrobe anyway, and fighting depresssion, I don’t even feel like getting dressed many days.) Let us know if you find some great new looks–maybe you can inspire me and others.

    People try to vilify (and lionize) others to advance their own social and political agendas. It’s sickening. The media circus just fans the flames with the garbage that passes for journalism and analysis, especially on TV. This boy’s character has nothing at all to do with the crime that was committed against him. I don’t care if he was an angel or a saint. People should not be mowed down in cold blood. But what do we get instead of justice? Idiotic pontification about what Trayvon was wearing, and whether or not he was a “good boy”. Your sendup of that ridiculousness in your previous post (wardrobe for law-abiding black men) was great.

    • Those were a banner couple of years for me as a young actor. Not only did I get a chance to work with him (truth be told, he was a funny little man), but also Tom Eyen (author of Dreamgirls for the non gays who may be reading this) and incredibly talented actors like David Hyde Pierce and Michael Cerveris (I feel like Willam name-dropping).

      Regarding your situation: I feel you brother. It may be hard out there for a pimp, but it’s even harder for people fifty and over. A part of my roller coaster ride these past five years was losing a job I adored after 15 years as the Artistic Director of a theatre company. I’ve been freelancing since then–directing in different theaters around the country. Sometimes the pickings are really slim. One of the gifts of being middle age is knowing that “this too will pass.” I had to will myself to get up and take a shower and put on something other than sweats. But I was never disappointed when I did. Getting out–even just to take a walk never failed to clear my head. Battery Park and the Staten Island Ferry became my best friends.

      This is going to sound like bullshit, but I honestly believe there is magic here. Dialoguing with you folks has energized me in a way I never expected. I’m beginning to believe more in the Law of Attraction. Something very positive is going to happen to you. I feel it deep within my bones. I’m not saying all of your problems will be solved–but I just feel strongly that we are participating in something relatively radical. We are creating a receptacle to safely share a piece of our imagination that is going to pay out in some way ten-fold.

      Thanks for being such a courageous man. We’re going to find some lasting Peace AND some fierce clothes!!!

      Hang in there.

      • As far as I’m concerned, tell all the stories you want about what you’ve done, including who you’ve worked with. My dream job at the moment would be interviewing people about their work. I find what people do and the emotions involved to be endlessly fascinating.

        Depression is a bitch & so is unemployment. I’m so under-employed at the moment that financially it’s not much different than being unemployed, but emotionally it’s so much better. There’s something, however trivial, between me and the swamp of inertia.

        I find, if you can afford them, that fierce clothes also help.

      • When you can drop names like that, go right ahead– very cool!

        You are so right, I never regret getting up, getting ready, and getting my ass outside the house (and I always regret not doing it). What’s amazing to me is that even though I know these facts, I still have to force myself to get outside The overwhelming urge is to just putz around the house all day and surf the net or turn on some favorite old movie into which I can escape. Living in Vancouver, BC this past year (I’m a long-time, hard-core Chicagoan by way of L.A.) has not been helpful to my current condition, as the weather can be very depressing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous city, but the weather sucks for half the year. I’m very much looking forward to Spring and Summer.

        Thank you, Scotty, for your words of encouragement. They help–really they do. It appears that you are starting to take charge of your life and I need to do the same. Meanwhile, I try to count my blessings every day, and they are many, not the least of which is a long-term, stable relationship with my partner. I’m glad to hear that you are energized by the interactions here. It’s amazing how people who have never met and whose paths would otherwise never cross can provide each other with support in a forum such as this. Thank you for creating this space and welcoming us!

      • “This is going to sound like bullshit, but I honestly believe there is magic here. Dialoguing with you folks has energized me in a way I never expected.”

        Moi aussi, a very welcome rejuvenation if you will. When I read gold nuggets like formallyamom’s “swamp of inertia,” I’m charged and just know that Calliope will be sweet talkin’ my muse any second.

  7. Go with the most classic options you can find in the best quality material you can afford. Make sure you can move, sit and stand comfortably and then have them tailored for your indivual body type. Yeah, real useful advise I know. But classics are classics for a reason and a great sport coat with jeans and sharp leather belt and shoes always catch my eye. Avoid not sticking the landing by getting sloppy with the details or throwing on running shoes with your strutting clothes. No neons. Unless we are preparing to launch you into outerspace or the deep blue sea with James Cameron there are no excuses for neon. Most important, don’t buy if you don’t love it or you’ll never end up wearing it.

    Shame on whoever leaked Trayvon Martin’s school records. That’s against the law here in Florida and I can’t understand how the media would have gotten a hold of confidential information unless they were part of a legal proceeding and then they still should have been sealed since he was a minor. My late husband was a high school principal and there once was an incident where my best friend’s eldest son got into minor legal trouble and I only found out years later. My husband couldn’t legally or ethically tell me and she assumed I knew.

    I’m not surprised there is a video that disproves the Sanford Police/Zimmerman account. The story has changed several times already because they can’t make it fit with the physical findings and independent facts of the case. An armed adult pursued and gunned down an unarmed teenager who was not committing any crime or otherwise endangering anyone but Mr. Zimmerman’s paranoid delusions. Did Trayvon fight back? Wouldn’t you fight for your life if some one threatened you with a gun?

    Given our discussions this week on race its ironic that we are back again with more metaphors of black and white and the millions of shades in between. Wouldn’t it be great if life was just a series of This or That, Right or Wrong, Yes or No?

    • You are very right about not getting sloppy with the details with the jeans and sports jacket look. A nice pair of shoes and a good belt pull it all together.

      Yes, there is so much wrong with the way this whole Trayvon Martin case has been handled, it just boggles the mind. I never even thought about the whole thing with school records being private. It seems that if some fact or detail doesn’t compute, the authorities just change the facts to suit their narrative.

    • Julaine said “Shame on whoever leaked Trayvon Martin’s school records.” This. As horrible as the whole situation is, this is what currently has me the most upset. All of the stuff about what kind of student he was is so completely, totally irrelevant I just want to scream. And it makes me so depressed about the state of our society, that a) there is ALWAYS someone willing to leak information in cases like this that get a lot of media attention, and b) so many people are so easily distracted by this utterly irrelevant information, and completely forget about the actual problem at hand. I heard part of an interview with Trayvon Martin’s father on NPR today, and he said something along the lines of “We won’t even be able to start the grieving process until we get justice.” I can’t begin to imagine being in his shoes, but even in my shoes, just watching the focus of everyone involved, and everyone who’s just watching from outside, getting pulled away by all these other things that aren’t at all relevant, just breaks my heart and pisses me off and makes me so very, very sad.

  8. I always like a man in a nice jacket and hat. And/or a vest. Vests are nice. I feel like the right jacket can make any basic outfit special.

    Re: the Trayvon Martin leaks–there is something insidious about power that makes the defense of it comfortable. The people out there defending the power structure and the status quo want people’s problems to go away in a way that least inconveniences them by making them think about their view of the world. Because the world in which we actually live in–the world in which the police are not always your friends, justice is not always served, and the neighborhood watch sometimes caters to paranoid vigilantes–is a world they’ve never had to think about. The people defending the smears and the shocking attacks on Martin are trying desperately to return to the Just World (fallacy) they want to be real.

    … In slightly less depressing news, I work a shift that makes it impossible for me to check out television, so I really depend on bloggers to tell me what I should watch. Thanks for letting me know about Scandal!

  9. Alright, I’m addressing the less serious part of this post: Kerry Washington. While I hate to use a Tyra Bank-ism that I often feel is meaningless when she says it on ANTM, but that I feel applies 100% to Kerry Washington as an actress: Kerry “rests on pretty.” But, truth be told, she *is* so pretty that it doesn’t really matter. I’ll be watching the show because she’s gorge, she’ll be dressed in fabulous clothes & the premise looks exciting. Acting, shmacting — that’s all I need.

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