Starvoice • 08.31.12

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Beyonce Knowles turns 31 on Tuesday. The breakout star of the girl band Destiny’s Child, Beyonce has become a gay icon, both with her music (her last CD, 4, came out last year) and her appearances in movies such as Dreamgirls.

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THIS WEEK

Venus enters Leo while in hard aspect to Sun and Jupiter. Yes, there can be too much charm, sweetness and light. Most of the other planets want to get to work. Scale back from saccharine to diplomatic and you can do anything.

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VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
Friends mean well — bless their hearts, if not their brains. Criticizing them will backfire. You need an outlet; save your kvetching for a very trusted and patient friend.

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
Enjoy the fruits of your labor, but don’t over-indulge. Too much partying could bring latent problems to the surface. If friends offer advice, the less you like it, the more you should listen.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
Too much individual initiative can be your downfall, but with forethought, intuition and advice from friends, you can do almost anything. If you’re not entirely happy where you’re working, get résumés to where you’d rather be.

SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
There’s a line between flirtation and sexual harassment, and you’re a little too frisky. In the right time and place, that can work for you spectacularly, but it could undermine your reputation.

CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
Your drive is strong enough to achieve nearly anything. Keep your mind focused on necessary work and away from arguments, especially at home. Sex may not solve problems, but can help you endure them.

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
Your mouth is the magic door to trouble. Think ahead, listen attentively and be very careful about the right time and place to get down and dirty.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
Trying to be helpful around the house can cause trouble with your partner/roommate. Match actions to words. An argument with a friend can bruise your ego, but brave it and clear the air.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
If malaise hits, focus on what’s bothering you and get into action. Your voice is even louder and more forceful than usual. If you feel a need to yell at others, talk gently with a trusted friend.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Playful flirtations are likely to overstep bounds. Optimistic financial plans are way too much. If it looks too good to be true, it is. Get solid, reliable advice before putting your money anywhere.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Keep your hands busy, ears open and mouth shut — except in lovemaking. Sex is great, but verbal intercourse can get contentious. Housecleaning is the second best way of working off that energy.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
Indulge yourself with a massage, a day at a spa, a long leisurely visit at a museum or a scenic hike. The company of a very close, trusted friend is ideal, but solitude is good for the soul, too.

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
Venus brings you more charm and gorgeousness entering your sign on the 6th. She’s pretty amped up, so be careful not to overdo it. Are those “friends” laughing with you or at you?

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 31, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

ALBUM REVIEW: Of Montreal, Seal, The Twilight Sad, Metallica, Ultra Dance 13

Pop falters while rock and folk ascend to strong releases

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Of Montreal
Paralytic Stalks
Polyvinyl Records

Kevin Barnes and company get off to a wobbly start with “Geld Ascent” in OM’s new release. If static and feedback had a child, this would be it. It feels more like a shock move to explode the opening, but they fall back into the more familiar sound with second track “Spiteful Intervention.”
I never know what OM sings about, but they know how to create a song that’s feel good in sound and yet it’s never, ever dumbed down. They don’t write lyrics as much as they create eclectic odes set to music in tracks like “We Will Commit Wolf Murder” or “Authentic Pyrrhic Remission.” I wanna ask what the hell that means, but then I’m entertained to the point of forgetting my complaint and just want to groove along.

The thing is, it’s nothing new. OM delivers the energy, just more of the same. Quirky lyrics, falsetto breaks and confetti like puffs of music are much like what they’ve done in 2010’s False Priest or 2008’s Skeletal Lamping. I don’t want them to change their personality, but they’ve gone so off the chart with obscurity, they sound like they’ve gotten stuck there.

Two and half stars (out of five).

Seal
Soul 2
Reprise Records

The former Mr. Heidi Klum proves his voice is topnotch as he revisits soul classics again.. His voice is complementary to the covering of tracks by predecessors such as Gaye, Green and Pendergrass. The real question is why?

Seal’s voice is like comfort food. It’s easy to relish in and this sound works for him, but for a set of soul classics, the album is on automatic pilot. There’s nothing quite wrong with his rendition of “Love T.K.O.,” but he never sounded present in it.
There was also an immediate safeness to the album. The track selections are obvious like “Let’s Stay Together” or “What’s Going On” that plays uninspired.

He’s basically following the Rod Stewart reinvention strategy, but I’d rather hear Seal get back to his original stuff that was always an edgy alternative to contemporary pop.

Two and half stars.

The Twilight Sad
No One Can Ever Know
Fatcat Records

In their third full-release (six overall), these Scottish indie rockers deliver a grand episode of shoegazing. Singer James Graham’s thick accent is a character in itself, but strangely inviting. They head into darker territory, but opener “Alphabet” sets an inviting tone off the bat.

The move to a slightly harder sound is a wise one. They thrive with pumped up energy but don’t neglect their folkish sensibilities. Instead, it’s smartly elevated with these additional layers of sound.

Titles like “Sick,” “Dead City” and “Kill it in the Morning” sound depressing, but there is a wealth of strongly structured tunes that are engaging and cohesive. Even when they veer into Smiths territory with the dreamy “Don’t Look at Me,” they keep a strong sense of self and pull off a killer album.

Three and half stars.

Metallica
Beyond Magnetic EP
Warner Bros. Records

Released as an accompaniment to their 30thh anniversary concerts, this EP is a set of four songs recorded during their 2008 album sessions for Death Magnetic and is intentionally released in a more session style rather than high production value.
With signature guitar and drum rampages, Metallica doesn’t falter with first track, “Hate Train,” and its force is like a fist to the face. That’s a good thing. Skip over the annoying repetition of “Just a Bullet Away” (or listen to it below), but soak in and worship the muscularity of their chord action in “Hell and Back.” If this song were on Scruff, he’d be a haggard-faced muscle daddy still worthy of a “woof.”

Final track “Rebel Babylon” closes out this small chapter with Herculean strength and Hetfield just pushes his gritty vocals to the max and the band lays down the rock that requires either a head banging or a fist pumping — or maybe both at the same time.

Three stars.

Various Artists
Ultra Dance 13
Ultra

The grooves are in overdrive in this 13th volume of the popular dance compilation. Big names like Gaga, Britney Spears and Pitbull are placed next to budding dance DJ/producer tracks by Avicii and Calvin Harris. However, it left me asking, “Where’s the party?”

Remixes of Jason Derulo’s “It Girl” and Lady Gaga’s “You and I” never find their right footing and Danny Verde’s Gaga mix of her ballad stuck her vocals in peanut butter while the beat has left it behind.

The label was good to leave Spears’ “Til the World Ends” alone as it has enough weight to be a great party song and that chant alone needs no help. Such restraint is barely held through the rest of the album — and there are 24 tracks. Alexandra Stan’s “Mr. Saxobeat” doesn’t suffer much from its extended mix and is a fine listen that doesn’t beat into your head like a jackhammer.

Steve Aoki’s “Earthquakey People (The Sequel)” is absolute torture without remix, but it’s also representative of the album — soulless and pumped up without reason.

The other barely saving grace for this bit is deadmau5’s entry at the very end. “Raise Your Weapon” doesn’t rape your ears with a sonic force. It calms the energy but still goes into erratic directions that are fascinating. Otherwise, create your own dance mix if you need a party.

One and half stars.

(NOTE:This is a slightly longer version of the mix than on the album.)

—  Rich Lopez

Community mourns ‘Chief’ Guy-Gainer

Gay 23-year Air Force vet became North Texas’ pre-eminent advocate for the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

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PAYING RESPECTS | The Rev. Stephen Sprinkle, center, who delivered the eulogy at the funeral of Dave Guy-Gainer on Feb. 7, also spoke at the impromptu candlelight memorial at the Legacy of Love monument on Cedar Springs Road on Feb. 4. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

American flags lined the walk in front of Cathedral of Hope for the funeral of Dave Guy-Gainer on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

The 63-year-old gay Air Force veteran who served for 23 years and spent a decade working tirelessly for the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” died unexpectedly Feb. 2.

At a hastily called memorial at the Legacy of Love monument on Cedar Springs Road on Saturday, Feb. 4, Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Patti Fink said, “I don’t know why Dave died, but I do know why he lived.”

Gainer.Dave

Dave Guy-Gainer

Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager for Resource Center Dallas, said the day Guy-Gainer died was the saddest of his life.

And Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Omar Narvaez recalled that on the day DADT repeal took effect last year, Guy-Gainer told him, “The fight’s not over.”

Among the continuing fights Guy-Gainer envisioned was acceptance by and service from the military’s Chaplain Corps. Toward that end, Guy-Gainer helped create the Forum on the Military Chaplaincy. In October, he brought a group together from around the country for a meeting at the Interfaith Peace Chapel in Dallas to formalize plans for the forum.

And while gays, lesbians and bisexuals can now serve openly, Guy-Gainer continued to fight for the rights of transgender men and women to serve.

“It’s very sad for us,” said Dennis Coleman, executive director of Equality Texas, where Guy-Gainer was a board member. “He was dedicated to state work as well as federal work.”

Guy-Gainer worked locally as well. In 2010, he ran as an openly gay candidate for City Council in Forest Hill, a small town south of Fort Worth in Tarrant County. Although he made it to the runoff, he lost to the 12-year incumbent by a few dozen votes.

In remarks at the funeral, gay retired Army Col. Paul Dodd said Guy-Gainer, who became the pre-eminent advocate for DADT repeal in North Texas, worked just as hard to end the problem of bullying. He alluded to Guy-Gainer’s death-by-suicide indirectly.

Dodd said that on Sept. 20, 2011, the day DADT repeal went into effect, Guy-Gainer wrote, “After a celebratory, euphoric high, this old airman crash landed tonight with reports of another youth who took his own life. We simply aren’t getting to the youth who are suffering.”

The Rev. Stephen Sprinkle, who was a close friend of Guy-Gainer’s and delivered the eulogy, talked about the suicide more directly. He said he felt anguished over how to deal with it in the funeral service.

“Everyone was hurting from it,” Sprinkle said. “Frustration, anger, guilt — that’s what I had to address.”

DADT-party

CELEBRATING REPEAL | Gay and lesbian veterans, including Dave Guy-Gainer, far right, identified themselves at a celebration at the Resource Center Dallas on Sept. 20, 2011, the day the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” went into effect. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

He said he decided to talk about Guy-Gainer’s suicide so that those mourning his loss wouldn’t treat it as a scandal but as a tragedy. And he said he needed to dismiss fundamentalist beliefs of eternal damnation for those who take their own lives.

“One of our tall trees fell, and we all feel it,” Sprinkle began his eulogy. “I begin with sighs too deep for words.”

He spoke about the biblical concept of lamentation.

“Lamentation is something the community needs to know how to do,” he said. “Suicide is a single act with plural effects that arose from problems and pain.”

But he said he’d simply miss Guy-Gainer’s “sweet, awkward goofiness” and praised him as a “relentless advocate for human rights” who fought “bullying and anti-LGBTQ religious bigotry.”

Guy-Gainer joined the Air Force at the age of 18 and served for 23 years. His work for the repeal of DADT and his LGBT activism began after another gay vet insisted he march in uniform in Austin’s Pride parade in 2001.

He became vice president of American Veterans for Equal Rights and served on the board of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network for about five years.

Gainer grew up in Charleston, W. Va., in what he called a “very, very fundamentalist family.”

In a 2009 profile published by Dallas Voice, he said growing up he knew he was gay, but that he was raised to be a minister.

“I figured, I’ll join the military, that’ll fix me,” he said. “I’ll get married like all the GIs did, and that’ll fix me. But you know what? It didn’t fix me.”

Guy-Gainer’s daughter, Brie, said that wasn’t his only reason to join the military.

“Dad has a true passion for the rights and duties of people who choose to live in a free country,” she wrote to Dallas Voice in 2009.

Guy-Gainer received five Meritorious Service medals and the Bronze Star and retired in 1990 as a chief master sergeant, a rank achieved by the top 1 percent of enlisted men and women.

He met his husband David Guy in 2000. They married in San Francisco in 2004 and had a commitment ceremony in Texas followed by a party at the military base in San Antonio where he worked at the time.

His work to end DADT earned him an invitation to the White House signing ceremony for the repeal legislation in December 2010. In September 2011, at a party celebrating the repeal going into effect, he donated boxes of papers relating to his work to the Phil Johnson Historic Archives and Research Library at Resource Center.

After the funeral service at Cathedral of Hope, Guy-Gainer was buried at the DFW National Cemetery in Dallas with full military honors.

Guy asked that donations be made to Forum on the Military Chaplaincy, in care of Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs, Dallas, Texas 75235.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 10, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Gay Planned Parenthood exec reacts to Komen controversy

N. Texas CEO Ken Lambrecht says he hopes to convince Nancy Brinker to rejoin group’s advisory council

lambrechtstein

PLANNED PARENTS | Ken Lambrecht, left, and his partner, Ken Stein, along with their daughter Samantha moved to Dallas last year when Lambrecht became president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of North Texas. (Photo courtesy of Ken Lambrecht)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Ken Lambrecht said he often has to come out twice — first when he tells people he’s gay, and next when he tells them he’s the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of North Texas.

But Lambrecht said having a gay man head a predominantly women’s healthcare organization is a good match.

“It’s an organization that’s all about equality and access for disenfranchised individuals to quality healthcare,” he said. “So for me, it was a natural fit.”
His only comments about the recent Susan G. Komen controversy are gracious.

“Nancy Brinker [the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure] was on the North Texas Planned Parenthood Advisory Council,” he said, adding that he wants to meet with her soon to see if he can get her back on his board. “We have a lot of bipartisan support for our mission here in North Texas. We have a great number of Republican and Democratic supporters who understand that women’s healthcare and social issues should not be politicized.”

His only other reference to the controversy was to thank the many donors who poured money into Planned Parenthood over the last two weeks. But he clearly understands why his organization is controversial.

“I believe there will always be a perception of controversy around Planned Parenthood because we talk about issues that we were told societally not to talk about,” he said.

“Don’t talk about sex,” he said. “Don’t talk about politics. Don’t talk about religion. And don’t talk about money. And all I do all day is talk openly about the science of sex, talk about political influences against sexual health or sexual identity, speak about religious attacks on individual sexual expression and sexual identity, and then we ask people for money. So there will always be a perception of controversy around Planned Parenthood because we talk about everything we were told not to.”

And that’s been true since the organization was founded in New York 95 years ago by Margaret Sanger, a public health nurse whose mother died in childbirth. Sanger coined the term birth control and opened the first clinic that eventually led to a Supreme Court case that legalized contraception.

Planned Parenthood has provided healthcare in Dallas since 1935 and in Fort Worth since 1938 and its beginnings here were no less controversial.

Lambrecht said that among the Dallas founders was Catherine Ripley. Her family manufactured Ripley Shirts in Oak Cliff since 1920.

Ripley would send empty shirt boxes to New York, and Sanger would return them filled with condoms and diaphragms. The 1873 Comstock Act made it a federal crime to send any “obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious” materials through the mail, including contraceptive devices and information on abortion.

Lambrecht describes Planned Parenthood as a “sexual health provider and a gynecology office for women without insurance.”

He said that 97 percent of the services provided are preventive in nature and noted, “We provide more adoptions than abortions.”

Abortion, he said, is actually done by a different legal entity. That was something Texas required in 2005 under legislation that bars the state from funding any agency that performs abortions. So he assures anyone making donations to Planned Parenthood that the money can’t be used for abortions.

Surgical services such as vasectomies and abortions are provided by Planned Parenthood Surgical Health Services. And abortions are performed at only two centers in North Texas, while medical services are provided at 21 clinics in 13 counties across the region.

A donation to Planned Parenthood is going directly to health services such as gynecological exams, HIV testing, birth control, pap smears and mammography.

Mammography is not done in the office, but by referral often in a mobile mammography unit that comes to the office. However, the money Komen gives to Planned Parenthood is used to pay for those breast exams through a voucher. Over the last three years, PPNT paid for 1,700 screenings that found 10 cancers. “That’s 10 lives saved,” he said, adding this was a direct result of the partnership between his organization and Komen.

Lambrecht said most gynecologists don’t have their own mammography equipment — mostly because of the cost — and refer out the screenings.

Throughout the U.S., Planned Parenthood sees 3 million patients a year. Last year, 87,000 of those were in North Texas.

Lambrecht believes that nationally Planned Parenthood will continue to receive widespread support because one in five women has received services from the organization at some time in their lives.

He said a bigger story than the Komen controversy is the Catholic bishops fighting the Obama administration over the birth control mandate in healthcare reform.

“All women, regardless of their employer, should have access to birth control,” he said. “The vast majority of Americans recognize that birth control access is preventive health care and planning is essential. We encourage the White House to stand with women and keep birth control without a co-pay for women.”

He said most women spend 35 years trying to avoid a pregnancy and five years trying to get pregnant.

He said that everyone is welcomed at Planned Parenthood without any judgment — and that includes transgender men and women who need any sort of gynecological services. He pointed to the staff as an indication of the organization’s diversity. Of the 80 regional CEOs, he said eight are gay or lesbian, and his staff of 200 includes transgender as well as gay and lesbian employees.

“We’re the most pro-family, pro-LGBT, pro-diversity organization,” he said.

Lambrecht and his partner, Ken Stein, have been together 11 years and have a 10-year-old daughter, Samantha. Before moving to Dallas last year, they lived in Austin in what Lambrecht called a very suburban community.

When Lambrecht took the job in Dallas, they moved to Oak Lawn. One day when he and his daughter were walking to Eatzi’s, she asked him, “Daddy, why is everyone in Dallas gay?”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 10, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Romancing the tune

Serenading a lover always works for out singer Nancy Beaudette

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ACOUSTIC DIVA | Beaudette blends her Celtic and folks sounds with some spirituality and compassion.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Nancy Beaudette is ahead of her time. Literally. Feb. 14 isn’t until next week, but Beaudette and her girlfriend have already celebrated Valentine’s Day: A gift exchange, a relaxed morning in the hot tub and a long walk on a gorgeous Massachusetts day.

“Oh and we had a wonderful Chinese dinner,” she adds.

That’s what happens when a working musician hits the road — you celebrate the Hallmark moments when you can. For Beaudette, right now there is no calendar other than her tour. She’ll be playing throughout the month, including a stopover in Fort Worth on Saturday. She’s fine with it. At 50, with a healthy discography under her belt dating back 30 years to 1982, Beaudette is finally doing the “musician thing.”

“This is the first time I’m doing music without having a full-time job,” she says. “I’m embarking on a lifelong dream of songwriting and performing.”

Romance isn’t lost in Beaudette’s brand of folk. Like any singer, she’ll croon about love, but she also sings her fair share of heartbreak songs. She’s quick to point out that love is not all fuzzies and wuzzies. There are layers of complex issues that she deals with through her music, including a split from her wife of 22 years and from her church. She covers both on the title track of her last album, Honestly.

“The song is the language of divorce, but it was really about my emotional connection between my church and me,” she says. “It was devastating.”

Having the benefit of legalized marriage in her native Canada, Beaudette and her wife were excommunicated by the Catholic Church after they exchanged vows. An active member and choir director for 25 years, the blow had devastating effects; she cites it as the reason her marriage failed, but she found therapy in music.

“I journal a lot and music has been helpful,” she says. “Those pages are a great place to get to my raw emotions.” (Ironically, her church still performs all of her music.)

Despite such drama, Beaudette hardly has a bitter tone. She’s ebullient and optimistic and clearly enlivened by her new relationship and perhaps by her nebulous future with music. Her smile is practically evident through the phone line.

“I left my town, fell in love, got a performance visa and now I’m living with Chris in Massachusetts,” she says. “The U.S. market is so much larger and much more competitive, but it’s been very positive and my trips to Nashville have been very inspiring.”

The last time Beaudette came to Texas was for a conference in Waco in the mid-‘90s. This time, she anticipates a proper introduction to the Lone Star State. As with any non-Texan, she’s banking on an epic experience.

“I think everyone says this, but I hear everything is bigger in Texas,” she quips. “I’m looking forward to seeing it. I’ve met some really delightful women from Houston who will be hosting a house concert when I’m there. And the Open Door people have been so kind. The glimpse I’ve seen so far is pretty welcoming.”

She’ll also perform at Agape MCC’s Sunday morning service. Despite being hurt by a religious institution, she’s determined to use it as a bolster to her spiritual and musical side. Besides, it goes hand-in-hand with her Charter for Compassion work, a movement with the mission to “restore compassion to the center of morality and religion.”

“I’m not the first gay person to be hurt by a church,” she says. “We are spiritual and looking for ways to express it. I get to talk about the charter I’m involved with. The movement is growing all around.”

Pursuing her dream and spreading her message, Beaudette should have a fulfilling tour, but with all that, she still wants to be with her lady and serenade her with a song — that is if Chris doesn’t beat her to it.

“She’s a singer-songwriter too so we have lots in common. She’ll sing to me,” she says. “I serenade her all the time. It always does the trick.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 10, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

1 hit, a lot of balls

Though not a perfect game, ‘Take Me Out’ scores in the bottom of the 9th

TMO_Show_StillsArnold

DESIGNATED HOTTIES | The shower scenes are steamy, but the interpersonal dynamics between ballplayers (Kevin Moore and Lloyd Harvey) run the bases in ‘Take Me Out.’ (Photo by Mike Morgan)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes a first act can fool you.

Act 1 of Richard Greenberg’s play Take Me Out, is, quite simply, not very good. The exposition is lazy, the central conflict (intentionally kept close to the vest) twee, the dialogue on the stilted side. Aside from the much-hyped locker-room nudity — and this is not a comment on the actors’ bodies — there’s not much “there” there.

Then comes Act 2, and Take Me Out opens like a lily with the breaking dawn.

In Uptown Players’ current production, the second is nearly twice as long as the first, but it crackles with energy. Greenberg’s “floating narrator” device almost works, and the non-linear storytelling begins to make sense. And there’s more nudity. Nothin’ wrong with that.

Take Me Out is a buzz-worthy play, flesh aside: Set in 2002, it’s the story of Darren Lemming (Lloyd Harvey), a Major League Baseball player — the best in the pros (suggestively modeled on Derek Jeter back when there were rumors of his sexual orientation) — who at the height of his skills comes out. Putatively, the play deals with the fallout from that announcement, but really, it doesn’t. Almost all the characters are inside the clubhouse; we get only a faint sense of the public reaction (which, we all know, would be a shitstorm). Instead, being gay is used as a catalyst for the interpersonal dynamics within the dugout.

The societal element is a missed opportunity — Darren would be mobbed with talk-show requests; we’re owed at least one sit-down with Oprah — and the gay idea could be almost anything (he could have come out as atheist or Muslim or Communist, it hardly matters). But eventually, you get caught up in the story, especially the conflict between Darren and Shane Muggitt (Andrews Cope), an illiterate redneck brought up from the minors, and his financial advisor “Mars” (Art Kedzierski), a flamboyant gay man intoxicated by his newfound love of baseball.

Darren himself is a difficult character to parse; he’s arrogant though we are constantly reminded universally loved; that seems unlikely, especially for Mets fans. He’s, in turn, incredibly savvy and unbelievably naïve, smart then a dolt. Harvey eventually settles into a rhythm, though there are moments that waver.

There aren’t any with Kedzierski, who’s hilarious and touching, and really, the emotional touchstone for the audience. He’s the first person onstage who seems specific, not just a metaphor for some principle or a utility character serving a dramaturgical function. Kedzierski’s enthusiasm infects the play, carrying over to scenes he’s not even in. Cope’s take on Muggitt as more imbecile than bigot is a canny, almost daring one (as Tropic Thunder cautioned, “ya never go full retard”). Kevin Moore, as the principal narrator, adds depth to a sketchy character.

Andy Redmon’s set, suggestive of a baseball diamond, makes a great nod to an outdoor game set entirely in the confines of a locker room, and Michael Serrecchia’s direction makes the most of the weaker parts of Greenberg’s script.

Not every game has to be won on a home run, as long as you get a few hits and run the bases. Way to hustle, guys. Now hit the showers.

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online exclusive

To read more reviews of new local theater, visit
DallasVoice.com/category/Stage.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 10, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Midnight in the garden of gay and EVOO

Expect not just olive oil, but butter and lard on a low-country culinary tour of historic, gay-friendly Savannah. But it’s so worth the extra time on the treadmill

Chicken-and-waffles-at-River-on-the-Rocks

FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD | The chicken and waffles at Rocks on the River are just one Southern take on the buttery low-country food that marks a culinary tour of Savannah. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

View more photos HERE

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

Like Charleston, S.C., its neighbor to the north, Savannah, Ga., is a coastal community steeped in history and tradition — a characteristic that extends naturally to its culinary scene. “Low-country cuisine” is a discrete genre of Southern cooking, marked by its Afro-Caribbean influences (okra gumbo, hoppin’ john, and red beans and rice are staples) and predominance of seafood, especially shrimp and crab.

But it’s not just low-country food that distinguishes Savannah’s food scene — or the city as a whole, for that matter. It’s a place that oozes gentility with a welcoming attitude that supersedes its Old-South atmosphere. Whether going there for historic walks down its charming streets or to focus on a fattening but oh-so-worth-it foodie tour, Savannah is a great gay destination.

Without waving its rainbow flags too boldly, Savannah still celebrates its gay-friendly faves (hag chef Paula Deen is a local; composer and native Johnny Mercer has his name slapped on countless roads and landmarks) and even its queer scandals — Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, gay author John Berendt’s phenomenally popular 1994 yarn about how an antique dealer Jim Williams shot his lover, remains the unofficial history of the city, and is proudly on display throughout the city even still.

Such longevity is not altogether a surprise. People speak of the city’s most famous residents, past and current, as if they are personal friends who might pop around the corner at any moment.

An-ivy-draped-house

WALKING HISTORY | Savannah’s rich past includes an architectural tradition unequaled in most of the U.S., from lovely gardens and beautiful ironwork to ivy-draped mansions and Spanish-moss looming over the monument dotting the two-dozen squares that made up the city’s grid. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

They very well may. Even the dead ones. Savannah has a mystical quality to it. Elders proudly tout its reputation among paranormalists as the most haunted city in the U.S. Even non-believers may sense an aura of the supernatural. About two dozen squares dots the downtown district, imbuing the city with the shadowy, Victorian mood of a Bronte novel. Scattered among the squares are houses with long-standing ghost stories attached, and cemeteries that glow under a full moon with spooky drama.

Want to know just how much? Take a walking tour of the city’s graveyards and haunted squares, courtesy SavannahTours.us. This dusk-to-darkness stroll depends, of course, on your guide; we had a good one, who took us by the convincingly creepy 432 Abercorn on Calhoun Square.

The gay scene is undeniable here; even the tour guides mention it. But it’s not just the historic touches, but the current. Yes, The Lady Chablis became America’s most famous drag queen (sorry, Ru!) after the publication of Midnight, and she still performs regularly at Club One, the premiere dance club in the city. The gay club Chuck’s Bar abuts the river.

Savannah’s Riverfront is another draw of the city. A cobblestone thoroughfare fully 30 feet below street-level, it’s a touristy but fun way to spend an afternoon. Docked sailing ships are available for walk-throughs, and you can take a slow riverboat ride up and down the waterway.

On land, shops sell everything from knickknacks and T-shirts to pulled taffy and other confections, including the best damn pralines you’ll ever have. Indeed, the Savannah Candy Kitchen is about as close as you can come to feeling like Charlie Bucket let loose in Willy Wonka’s factory.

Which raises a point: For all the charming history and attractions, Savannah’s food beckons. Along River Street, Rocks on the River provides a distinctly Southern take on soul-food classics like chicken and waffles drizzled in a fruit demi-glace, or a sea scallop on spoetzl courtesy chef Jonathan Massey, amid a rustic atmosphere and exceptional service.

Rocks on the River is inside the Bohemian Hotel, a funky-assed property with moody lighting, intriguing décor and plush rooms. The resto is at ground-level; go to the top floor for Rocks on the Roof, a buzzy, gay-friendly bar that serves a kicky brunch.

Low-country cooking is plentiful, but not the exclusive option in this savvy city of savory sophisticates. We happily ventured over to Gallery Espresso, Savannah’s oldest coffeehouse and another bit of bohemian in this staid Southern ’burg.

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DIY DELIGHTS | Chef Darin Sehnert, who runs the cooking school at the Mansion on Forsyth Park, escorts you through the techniques needed to turn out your own Southern cooking. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Moon River Brewing Co. is the local micro-brewery not to miss, with a selection of in-house suds available along with its bar menu. Their Hefeweizen (a citrusy, Belgian-style wheat beer) and chocolatey porter are must-tastes for avid beer drinkers. (Like much of Savannah, the building itself is almost as much a destination as what’s inside it. Ask nicely, and you might get a tour of the attic here, with lovely bones, like exposed latticework and beautiful masonry.)

You can sample an authentic afternoon tea at Davenport House, including a participatory recreation of any antebellum interaction with actors in period costume.

Head outside the city to tour the Savannah Bee Company and sample some locally produced honeys (the whipped winter white is heavenly on scones). Keep driving for an even better excursion: a kayak trip out on Tybee Island.

You’ll be hungry when you get back, so that’s a perfect opportunity to sample more low-country cooking. Of course, this is Paula Deen territory, but don’t be fooled: All the locals will tell you, the better food is at Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room. No reservations are accepted so arrive early — the lunch line snakes around the block quickly. Seating (and service) is family style, so expect to dine with strangers. But you won’t have to fight over the food — there’s simply too much of it to consume, including the best banana pudding and mac & cheese you’ll likely taste anywhere. (The motto here: “If the colonel made chicken this good, he’d be a General.” No truer words spoken.)

Don’t be put off that the Mansion on Forsyth Park used to be a funeral home; it’s just another otherworldly aspect of Savannah that you have to accept. Anyway, you’d be lucky to lie in repose here. Part of the Kessler Collection of boutique properties (it also includes the vastly different Bohemian), the Mansion offers an enchanting spa experience in its basement (please don’t call it the embalming room) and spectacular rooms with cushy beds, beautiful décor and spacious claw-foot tubs.

The art here is not to be missed. Mr. Kessler, whom you’re likely to meet walking through one of his hotels, or even around the city, is a furious art collector who proudly displays his eclectic tastes in every room. There’s even a gallery attached that’s worth a gander.

Some of the art here isn’t on the walls; it’s on the plate. 700 Drayton, the hotel’s elegant new restaurant in an old-school setting, offers, once again, Southern specialties presented with culinary flair. Chef Michael Semancik tweaks the standbys, like blackened shrimp and grits abed microgreens, stunning fried green tomatoes and a blueberry crème brulee than will lead you back to eating crème brulee again.

But the restaurant isn’t the only way to eat here — though the other way requires some work. Chef Darin Sehnert leads the 700 Cooking School, a three-hour experience in learning to make your own low-country food, from red-eye gravy to blackeyed pea salad and rosemary biscuits. You do a lot of the work, but Sehnert guides you with exceptionally useful advice from knife techniques to seasoning. Plus you get to eat what you cook at the end. It’s a fabulous way to spend an evening, and a great conclusion to a culinary adventure in Georgia.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 10, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Rawlings won’t budge on marriage pledge

Dallas mayor says decision not to sign document puts him in position to advocate for LGBT equality among religious conservatives

STANDOFF  | A pro-LGBT protester, left, squares off with an anti-gay counterprotester during a “Sign the Pledge” rally organized by GetEQUAL outside Dallas City Hall on Jan. 27. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said this week that he has no plans to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage anytime soon.

But Rawlings added that he believes his decision not to sign the pledge puts him in a position to advocate on behalf of LGBT civil rights among religious conservatives in Dallas.

Rawlings, who claims he personally supports legalizing same-sex marriage, has come under fire from the LGBT community for refusing to sign the pledge from the national group Freedom to Marry.

Rawlings has argued that the pledge — which now bears more than 100 signatures from mayors across the country — creates a divisive and partisan social issue that falls outside the mayor’s scope.

“I’m not going to sign it at this point, and part of it is because of the reaction that I’ve gotten throughout the whole community, and I realize whether people appreciate it or not, that I’m in a very interesting position where I can convene a lot of great dialogue because of the position that I’ve taken,” Rawlings told Dallas Voice during an exclusive interview in his office on Tuesday, Jan. 31. “After thinking about it, it’s probably the best thing that I kind of stick by my position here, but also do what I said in that meeting, which is work hard to figure out how I can best help this [the LGBT] community to gain the civil rights they need.”

Rawlings was referring to a meeting last Saturday, Jan. 28, which he attended with about 25 LGBT leaders at Resource Center Dallas, in response to his refusal to sign the pledge.

The meeting included several longtime local same-sex couples, including Jack Evans and George Harris, and Louise Young and Vivienne Armstrong.

Over the nearly two-hour meeting, which was at times heated and emotional, the couples and other LGBT leaders told Rawlings their stories and made their case as to why they feel the mayor should sign the pledge.

Outside the Resource Center following the meeting — which came the morning after about 100 LGBT protesters had gathered at City Hall — Rawlings wouldn’t rule out the possibility that he would change his mind. But 72 hours later, he hadn’t budged.

“I don’t see myself changing in the short-term,” Rawlings said Tuesday. “I think if there was another movement that I could understand what it was going to accomplish better, I might join that entity. It’s not like I’m going to be anti-public on this issue, but I think this pledge itself is something that has allowed me to be a broker of discussions now in the city of Dallas. There’s some silver lining in this cloud.”

MEETING WITH LGBT LEADERS | Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings greets gay couple Jack Evans, left, and George Harris, who've been together more than 50 years, before Saturday's meeting at Resource Center Dallas. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Rawlings said he’s spoken to as many people who support his position as oppose it. But he acknowledged that when it comes to emails and messages on Facebook and Twitter, the vast majority have been in support of signing the pledge. Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, said his office has received thousands of emails in the last two weeks.

“The other night [someone] said, ‘Thank you for not getting caught up in the hype of this thing, but I see you support marriage equality,’” Rawlings said. “And I said, ‘Yes, tell me about your position.’ And I realize there are so many people out there who really support what the LGBT community is trying to accomplish, but they are not interested in getting caught up into a polarizing movement.

“I’m very excited about the ability now to have this conversation,” he added. “I’m tired of talking about the pledge, but I think we’re just at the front end of having a conversation about LGBT civil rights.”

Rawlings has also said he wants to focus on substantive things he can accomplish as mayor to support LGBT civil rights.

But as of Tuesday, he said he hadn’t identified what those things will be. He said he plans to set up another meeting with Cece Cox, executive director and CEO of Resource Center Dallas, and others LGBT leaders to discuss specifics.

“There’s no question I’m a little ambivalent about my role now with the LGBT community, because I think that many people feel that I have sold them down the river, and I don’t want for political purposes to act like, ‘Oh, but I love you,’” Rawlings said. “I don’t want it to be disingenuous. I want to earn my respect in that community by putting my actions where my speech is on this.”

Rawlings said he thinks that for religious conservatives, civil marriage is secondary to the sacrament of religious marriage.

He said as mayor he wants to focus on “starting to de-mystify this for the faith-based community, and making sure we separate sacraments from civil rights.”

“If we ever are going to get to a better place, we’ve got to have room for people’s civil rights and personal religious beliefs in the same city,” he said.

“I’m a believer. I understand that tradition. I understand why that’s important. Some great conversations are starting to take place that I didn’t think I could ever have.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Dems seek supermajority on Commissioners Court

LGBT ally Theresa Daniel among those vying for Dickey’s seat

Going-after-Gay-vote1

GOING AFTER THE GAY VOTE | Cecile Fernandez, left, speaks to Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas on Tuesday, Jan. 31 at Texas Land & Cattle in Uptown. Fernandez is one of two Republicans who’ve filed to replace retiring GOP Commissioner Maurine Dickey. On the Democratic side, longtime LGBT ally Theresa Daniel, above right, and Daniel Clayton are two of the three candidates running for Dickey’s District 1 seat.

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Stonewall Democrats President Omar Narvaez thinks Democrats have an excellent chance of picking up a fourth seat on the Dallas County Commissioners Court since newly drawn lines extend a district into Oak Lawn.

District 1 Republican incumbent Maureen Dickey — who voted against transgender nondiscrimination protections for county employees last year — isn’t seeking re-election. Two Republicans and three Democrats have filed to run for the seat Dickey has held since 2004.

Narvaez said two of the three Democratic candidates are members of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas — Theresa Daniel and Gloria Levario.

The redrawn district, he said, will be harder for a Republican to retain. Cedar Springs Road is the dividing line. The northeast side of the street will be part of the new District 1. The southwest side of the street will be represented by District 4 Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia.

District 3 Commissioner John Wiley Price, also up for re-election, lost the Oak Lawn portion of his district but picked up more of Oak Cliff and Cedar Hill. Parts of South Dallas between Interstate 30 and US Highway 175 also shifted from Price to the new District 1.

Usually the filing period ends on Jan. 1 for the November race. Because of legal challenges to redistricting maps, Narvaez said the filing period will be reopened. Candidates whose districts have changed may decide to change races or may pull out of the running and receive a refund.

“And that’s extremely unusual,” Narvaez said.

So he said that the field of candidates — even for the Commissioners Court races where boundary lines haven’t been challenged — isn’t necessarily set. Although the primary is still tentatively scheduled for April 3, a firm date cannot be set until new maps are approved.

“I wonder how long this marathon is going to be,” said Daniel, one of the Democratic candidates for the District 1 seat.

Daniel was a staff member for Democratic Congressman Martin Frost. She has served on the State Democratic Executive Committee since 1996 and as chair of the Dallas County Democratic Party Advisory Committee for four years. Currently, she works with the Dallas Independent School District in program evaluation and accountability and is an adjunct professor of urban and public affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Daniel said she’s been a member of Stonewall Democrats for 10 to 15 years. As a member of the SDEC she helped add two seats to the state body for Stonewall Denocrats leaders.

“With their activity level, both locally and at a state level, they were a model,” she said.

In 2004, Daniel received Stonewall’s Democrat of the Year award.

Daniel said she’s glad sexual orientation and gender identity were added to the county’s employment nondiscrimination policy last year and called health benefits for the domestic partners of county employees a “civil right.”
County Judge Clay Jenkins has said he supports DP benefits but didn’t bring the proposal forward last year due to budget constraints.

On healthcare issues, Daniel said she needs to take a look at how agencies are funded but said, “I’d work to keep funding on track.”

She called the new Parkland hospital “absolutely wonderful.”

“When you have an 80-year-old building we’re going to have problems,” she said, adding that the new hospital shows Dallas County’s commitment to public health.

Daniel Clayton is the third Democrat running for the District 1 seat. He has worked for state Sen. Royce West for five years and currently serves as his political director.
Before joining West’s office, he worked on a number of campaigns. In 2001, he campaigned for Jim McGreevey, who became New

Jersey’s “gay-American” governor. Clayton served as deputy field director for former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk’s Senate campaign.
Since 2007, Clayton has served as president of the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats.

In 2004, he was executive director of the Dallas County Democratic Party. That year, Sheriff Lupe Valdez and other Democrats swept into office, which began a run of Democrats who were elected to county-wide office.

“How do we make county government more efficient?” Clayton said when asked about his top concern.

He said continued funding for AIDS programs was a priority.

“Dallas County’s rate of HIV is so high,” he said. “It’s affecting the minority community terribly.”

On partnership benefits, he said the idea sounds fair and he needs to study the economic impact.

On the Republican side, Dickey has endorsed Cecile Fernandez, a former Dickey’s Barbecue executive vice president who helped create the franchise program and take the company national. District 2 Commissioner Mike Cantrell has endorsed Fernandez’s opponent, attorney Larry Miller.

Fernandez attended the kick-off event this week for the new Dallas Log Cabin Republicans chapter.

“I was impressed with the turnout,” she said of the meeting, adding that she attended because several of the founders “are longtime personal friends.”

She said that although the new boundaries of District 1 give Democrats a slight edge, her connections in the Hispanic community and position as vice chair of the Dallas chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly will make the difference.

“I think I’m the Republican who can win that seat,” she said.

She expressed support for LGBT issues. She backs partnership benefits for county employees, but worried that in the new budget year everyone’s benefits will have to be cut.

She said that funding for HIV and AIDS treatment must remain in place and added she sees no room for discrimination.

“It’s not the ’80s,” she said. “Everyone knows someone who’s died of AIDS.”

She said she supports Parkland Hospital and has had people in her family use the facility.

“The people at Parkland are so caring,” she said. Despite being overworked in a rundown facility, “they must really love their jobs.”

Miller and Levario did not return messages before press time.

Levario, the sister of Dallas County’s 204th District Court Judge Lena Levario, works for Baylor’s physician network to manage their medical practices. She’s also a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, Narvaez said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Resource Center honors volunteers

Leon Catlett receives top honor posthumously at annual dinner

LEGACY OF SERVICE | Carol Fisher accepts Resource Center Dallas’ 2011 Volunteer of the Year Award on Sunday, Jan. 29, on behalf of her son, Leon Catlett, who died last year. RCD Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox, left, and services manager Kee Holt presented Fisher with Catlett’s award during the annual Volunteer Appreciation Party at the Starlight Room in Dallas.

From Staff Reports
editor@dallasvoice.com

More than 1,090 people gave more than 49,100 hours of their time and talents valued at more than $1.05 million to Resource Center Dallas in 2011, allowing the center to make life better for thousands of North Texans.

The volunteers were honored at the center’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Party on Sunday, Jan. 29 at the Starlight Room in the Dallas West End.

Longtime volunteer Leon Catlett, who died last November, posthumously received the 2011 Martha Dealey Volunteer of the Year award.

“Leon’s vibrant presence volunteering for the center, from the front desk and nutrition center to events such as Toast To Life, was a comforting and consistent presence for our staff and clients,” said Cece Cox, RCD’s executive director and CEO. “We miss him terribly, but are comforted by and thankful for his legacy of service to the center.”

Resource Center Dallas also recognized the following:

• Michael Chau received the Randolph Terrell Community Service Award, given to a group or individual for exceptional service to the LGBT community and/or people living with HIV/AIDS;

• Miles Vinton was given the Suzanne Wilson Award, presented to the year’s most significant volunteer in Client Services;

• Jack Hancock received the John Thomas Award, in recognition as the Gay & Lesbian Community Center’s exceptional volunteer of the year;

• Dr. Jaime Vasquez was awarded the Bill Nelson Award honoring the Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center’s outstanding volunteer of the year; and,

• David Granger received the Bruce Long Award for outstanding development department volunteer.

The center also recognized 117 volunteers who contributed more than 100 hours during 2011. Miles Vinton, with 906 hours, was recognized for donating the most amount of time last year.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens