It’s Not Where You Start: I’m Hip

Originally published on It’s Not Where You Start.

Tonight I attended the Boston premiere of Howl, the Allen Ginsberg bio-pic starring James Franco as the preeminent beat poet. I have been looking forward to this movie for about a year, and not only for the promise of seeing James Franco make out with Aaron Tveit.

It may not surprise you to know that I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Ginsberg. As a gay Jewish kid growing up in a town with few gay or Jewish (and no gay, Jewish) peers, I found both Ginsberg’s biography and his poetry resonated with me quite a bit when I first encountered it at age 14 or so. Looking back, I wonder if that’s entirely accurate, or if I knew that beat poetry was supposed to appeal to alienated youth, so I convinced myself I liked it. I do remember getting a thrill from “Please Master” that had as much to do with seeing a portrayal of my sexuality as it did with seeing any portrayal of sexuality.
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JewishBoston.com: King Arthur, Nazi Hunter? CAMELOT at the Trinity Repertory Company

Originally published on JewishBoston.com.

King Arthur, Lancelot, Merlin and Guenevere have taken the stage at Providence’s Trinity Repertory Company, but don’t look for castles, armor, or lances. In Curt Columbus’s production, Camelot has been reset in a tube station during the Blitz, when British civilians sought safety underground as German bombs pelleted the city. I applaud Columbus’s wililngness to treat a classic musical with the same respect and spirit of experimentation he would treat a Shakespearean play. And it’s not a terrible idea for a framing device, both because during the Blitz British theater companies did, in fact, perform in the tube to help keep spirits up, and because Camelot’s source, The Once and Future King, originated in the World War II era. But it’s not a burst of genius that will shed new light on this classic story for you, either.  Continue reading

It’s Not Where You Start, It’s Where You Finish

Originally published on It’s Not Where You Start.

My father was neither a Greek god nor a fallen Jedi, nor was my mother a lucky virgin or a prophetess. But as far as momentous births go, I had a few circumstances marking me as special right from the top. Several years prior to my conception, my mother battled breast cancer. Following her mastectomy and radiation treatment, she was told that not only would she be unable to have any more children, but to attempt to do so could prove life-threatening. So needless to say, I was an “oops” baby, and I think to this day my brother still resents being deprived of his only-child status seven and a half years into his life. My parents seriously considered an abortion, but ultimately they decided to risk my mother’s life and enlarge the family.
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