Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Everything is Crazier in Texas

If you look back, Texas has never really wanted to be a part of the United States. Instead of becoming a state, it first tried being an independent republic. After deciding to join the Union in 1845, Texas jumped on the Confederate bandwagon in 1861. Talk has come up from time to time about declaring its independence, just recently after legislators balked at stimulus funds from Washington. Of course, they love to accept pork and other projects, but when a Black Democrat gives them something.. well, that is different.

I think they should go.

What prompted this Texas rant is the recent raid on a gay bar in Fort Worth, on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Raid and Riots in New York that spawned the modern gay rights movement. Seems in the separate world of Texas, raids on bars are still common place. Now I live in the hardly progressive state of Missouri, but in all my nights in bars here (and trust me there have been many in the past 26 years I have been in and around Missouri) I have never witnessed a raid looking for drunks. Hello! There they are.

According to news reports, Fort Worth (a bastion of Texas mentality) police went to the newly opened Rainbow Lounge with Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents early Sunday as part of routine alcoholic beverage code inspections. They first went to two other bars, where 10 people were arrested, I assume for being drunk.

At the Rainbow, they encountered two drunk people who made “sexually explicit movements” toward officers and another who either grabbed or grabbed at (the reports vary) an agent’s groin, according to the police report.

Oddly, despite patrons being thrown to the ground, trampled and injured (one with brain damage, police said he was drunk and fell, patrons said he was thrown to the ground), no one was arrested for assault but about half a dozen people were arrested on charges of public intoxication, according to police records.

Yes, in a bar.

Lots of my gay friends love Texas and either have moved there, visit or dream of a life in the big D or some place like that. Texas may be a beautiful state, Dallas may be a wonderful city, the beaches sandy and warm and San Antonio tony and chic; but until Texas decides to join the rest of the world in civilizing its laws (such as the draconian and blatantly unfair "Law of Parties" which is essentially guilt by association), and moves into at least the 20th century in fairness, I will stay right here...thank you.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Car as Art

The annual "The Car as Art" Concours was held Saturday June 27th at the Kansas City Art Institute. Puggingham Palace presents a short photographic essay of this wonderful display of classic automobiles:

Sherril Mulhern and her 1963 Cadillac Park Avenue Sedan De Ville

What dental work; the front of a 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible

It is amazing there is any chromium steel left after 1960!

Dual carb power of a Dodge D-500 engine. 1960 Dodge Matador Hardtop

Buck Rodgers inspired this dashboard for sure... 1960 Dodge Matador

Harmonica or automobile grille??? 1947 Chrysler Town and Country

The epitome of the "woody" Chrysler Town and Country

Two miles long, a 1957 Chrysler Imperial Crown Convertible
w/Factory air and the short lived 16 2/3 RPM "Highway Hi Fi".

Sheer timless elegance, 1956 Continental Mark II

Packards were out in force, despite the annual National Packard Meet in Branson:

1941 120 Convertible

One of the stars of the show 1930 Packard 745 7 passenger Touring Car

Commanding front of the 1930 Packard; not even Rolls had
such a command of the luxury car world as Packard did in its prime:

This grille spelled "Excellence" 1941 Packard 120 Coupe

1939 Cadillac V-16, the pinnacle of multi-cylinder power

Add Image

One had to be well connected or rich to own a new 1953 limited edition Buick Skylark. Anyone could buy (in Europe that is)a Citroen 2cv (to the right of the Buick).

Truly art: 1932 Reo Royale Convertible by Dietrich

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mormon Tablernacle Choir at the Sprint Center

No matter what you may think of the politics and views of their religion, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir certainly deserves its world wide fame. Appearing last night at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, the choir which traces its origins back to 1847, amazed and delighted the large audience with its diverse program and unparalleled choral sound. 300 voices in a hushed pianissimo, roaring to triple forte in seconds, clockwork movements of hands, incredible diction (the bugaboo of most choirs which turn into muddy masses) and well paced performances are seldom heard from any ensemble.

The program was divided into 8 diverse yet organically flowing sections. The selections were mostly sacred in nature, but a few non-sacred tunes lightened the mood occasionally. Highlights for me were a couple of the "Music of the Masters" selections, the elegant yet exuberant "Gloria in Excelsis Deo from the Mozart Mass in c K 427 and the sweet Cum Sancto Spiritu from the Rossini "Petite Mess Solenelle". "Music of the World" was represented by a rousing Spanish Sephardic song "Ah, el novio no quere dinero", complete with authentic Jewish instruments. A "Danny Boy" with a lovely Irish whistle solo, was a bit of a disappointment, not milking the piece for all its worth... well on second thought, maybe that is a good thing; sappy "Danny Boy" renditions are legion. The world music section was brought to an end by the complex ( I know I have performed it) "Betelehemu" complete with a battery of drums, shouting, and rhythmic movements and clapping. If any piece was a show stopper that was it.

The old Methodist in me appreciated the lovely and subdued "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing", demonstrating that the huge choir in a huge arena can be the masters of subtlety an grace. The old folk song "Cindy" (do kids sing that in grade school any more??) was given a lively run and an unnamed soloist wowed the crowd with his soulful "I want Jesus to Walk With Me'.

Of course no Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert would be complete without "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and the Latter-day Saints hymn "Come, Come ye Saints", performed with authority.

Sadly, the big arena of the Sprint Center draws a rather less well behaved crowd. The two gentlemen beside me came about 1/2 hour late, talked, fiddled with their damn Iphones, took pictures and even returned late from intermission. The lady behind me thought it was a sing along. The fellow a across the isle crunched on 2 orders of nachos. I guess I just don't look at a concert as a ball game. Thankfully no one took out a lighter and started waving it.

I was glad I took Bruce's suggestion and went to see this institution. If there is finer choral singing around, I have not heard it.

And yes, Puggingham Palace is back.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Change of Plans

Yeah... I am a Pisces, indecisive is my middle name. Just ask friends who dine with me at restaurants. I am the last to order, each choice an agonizing one... instantly regretted.

Thus I am re-thinking my decision to permanently close Puggingham Palace. I do enjoy blogging, it is just that lately I had been facing a dearth of ideas for blogging. I always said I did not want Puggingham Palace to be a "what I did today" blog, but one that is a bit freewheeling, funny, topical and diverse. I think it was not that way any longer.

So, I am going to just take a short rest. Build up a new repertioire of posts, maybe post a few garden pics.. and see where she goes.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Coupl'a Things XXI

1) As the old saying goes, be careful of what you ask for, you might get it. I had been bitching about the cool spring and now it looks like the 90s are here for a while. The AC units are roaring, the towers treasurer is bitching about power bill (but this pathetic twit bitches about birds in the yard so I don't listen to him much), the doors are swelling and sticking, needing constant attention and pugwalks have been suspended until further notice.

Summer be here now!

2) Obama, you are beginning to be a disappointment. Ok, he has at least not been a George Bush and the world still seems to love him. But his scattershot approach to the economy and strange Supreme Court nominee (I don't trust her) has me wondering about him. This "fierce advocate" for gay and lesbian rights, as he called himself in the campaign, has turned out to be a paper tiger. No firm stand on marriage and allowing the Department of Injustice to issue a defence of the "Defence of Marriage Act" (the most hypocritical and laughable piece of "legislation" ever written, future generations will get a kick out of it) that made Rush and Pat Robertson giddy with glee that the administration agreed with them that gay marriage was the same as incestuous marriage, were supposedly tempered by giving a few Gay and Lesbian employees a few benefits, but not full equality and temporary ones at that. Our G/L "leaders" such as the Human Rights Campaign, did little but express regret and muted praise. We need to stop supporting those who can't come to grips with the fact that GLBT people are citizens and deserve equal treatment. Took the USA a war and then a hundred years to figure that out over racial equality.... maybe we need a war?

We wont... all the queers I know are just dreaming of moving to the mythical warm climates where they can party all year long in expensive locales. Dumb asses.

3) Saw a cute semi-staged reading of an old play "The Octette Bridge Club" as a benefit for the Coterie Theature, KC's children's theatre. Bravo ladies!

4) Tried to think of something else... but it is not coming to me... so guess that is it. How's that for a finale?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Salina Is Still A Drag

In my old road warrior days, I used to spend some time in lovely Salina, KS. Salina is about half way through Kansas on I 70 and thus is a logical place to stop or stay if you are doing business in that part of the world. Any further west and you are in Denver before you get to much civilization as we know it.. that is chain motels, Mc Donald's, shopping malls and Applebee's.

The company I worked for had an operation in Salina and in near by areas as well, so the comfortable and reasonable Salina Holiday Inn was my home away from home for many a night.

I can say with authority that Salina was a drag.

The choice of restaurants was limited, mostly comfort food, lousy restaurant food and fast food joints. One evening, my colleague David and I drove the 180 mile round trip to Wichita for sushi.. we had little else to do.

I have not been to Salina in a long time but I understand that the Salina is a drag tune is still true... only this time it is literally a drag.

It seems the Kinsey Sicks, a "Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet" performed at the recent Smoky Hill Music festival held annually in Salina. Now remember, this is Kansas, Sam Brownback country, home of Fred Phelps, creationism, the place Dorothy escaped from. A drag show in middle Kansas??? Brave I'd say.

Reaction was really quite positive and the crowd really enjoyed the show. Who couldn't love a song "Going to the Chapel and We Can't Get Married" or "Rent a Homo for your Party"? The Salina Journal paper reported that those attending laughed.. at the show, themselves, Kansas leaders (Sen Brownback became Sen Bareback or Sen Brokeback) and acknowledged the leadership of the festival and the Kansas Arts Council (who will probably get all their money cut by slimy, arrogant Repubs) for their effort in bringing the troupe to the festival. One 80 year old man interviewed said he enjoyed the show encouraged them to return to Salina for another show. I am sure many stayed away, fearful and ignorant of what they would see. All they missed was a damn fine show and some good laughs.

So Salina, I guess you are still a drag... but a drag of a different color (or should I say drag of a different mascara) now. I commend you. You made a big step, and probably don't realize it.

And as a plug. Kinsey Sicks will be performing at my church Country Club Congregational UCC in October.

Sadly, I don't think there is a church brave enough to invite the Kinsey Sicks to perform in Salina... but maybe a seed has been planted.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Can anyone spot the reason why it took me all AM to make my bed??

Friday, June 12, 2009

Marvin Parker Memorial Garden VII

Plenty of rain and cool weather combined with just enough sunny days and warm sun has added up to a great garden season so far. I have harvested some early onions and a couple of peppers. Others have had spinach and lettuce. 4 eggplants were recently added to my little plot. The community okra, squash, corn, beans and tomatoes are looking great. I waddled over to the garden for a little noon time break and took a few shots:

1) My plot with the tomatoes (Roma and Heirloom) in front, the peppers are shy in the middle but the onions and the new eggplant take up the rear.

2) My plot looking south:

3) Cole slaw anyone?? (not mine darn it)

4) This little bugger is all mine!

5) The Romas are starting to form! Anyone want some???

6) South side of Garden:

7) The community corn. Has to start going to be knee high by the 4th of July!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Unnecessary Farce: American Heartland Theatre

I have blogged before about the jewel of Kansas City Theatre, the American Heartland Theatre. Great venue, relaxed staff, full lobby bar allowing you to take drinks in with you (they will even have one waiting for you at intermission), fun shows, great casts.... it just adds up to a fun evening. You will not see high drama, the latest in Broadway, mega stars or high prices. Just wonderful theatre and dare I say it again, a fun evening!

Tonight's fare running through June 21st is the slapstick farce perfectly titled as "Unnecessary Farce". Some of the great AHT favorites, Jessalyn Kincaid, Craig Benton and my Lyric Opera Ingram Room colleague Kevin Albert are joined by some new faces in this hilarious romp.

Plot?? As with most AHT shows, plots are thin and pretty easy to follow. No complex psycho-drama here. Two of the city's most inept cops ( new comers John Wilson and Jill Szoo) are ensconced in a motel room waiting to videotape a meeting in the next room between the city mayor (Albert) and a new accountant (Jessalyn Kincaid). They are hoping to catch the mayor embezzling city funds, but run smack into a bigger crime ring, a mafia ring known as the Scottish Clan (that is clan with a C not a K, a running joke), led by the dreaded "Big Mac" and enforced by the feared killer Todd. As befitting a motel room with adjoining doors, the characters seem to catch each other in various stages of undress (this is not the Unicorn so no wangs or boobs flopping around), compromising positions, in closets, bathrooms, wrong rooms, wrong times and wrong places. Even the Mayor's sweetie little wife comes tottering in.. but we soon learn she is force to be reckoned with.

The cast was uniformly great but newcomer Zach Woods was fabulous and a show stealer as the huge, kilt clad, menacing Todd. When Todd became angry, his Scottish brogue became a tangle of sound and accent, brilliantly done and adding to the comic zaniness. Kincaid was a dynamo as always, Wilson and Szoo were a superb team, Benton is always a superb physical actor in the role of the mayor's security man Agent Frank (who only seems to want to get into accountant Brown's knickers), Kevin played the clueless (?) mayor to a hilt and Cynthia Hyer milked every nuance out of the surprisingly key role of the mayor's wife.

Just fun, a lot of laughs, a couple of scotches (drinks that is, not clansmen [not that is with a C not a K]), a fun dinner at the nearby Streetcar Named Desire.. what theatre should be.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Many in KC are in an uproar. Letters are being written, boycotts planned, discussion about the issue is everywhere. Defensive press releases are being published, editorials written, names are being called, and fashionistas are criticizing.

So what has a good percentage of this fair (?) city up in arms?

An injustice??? like a kid only serving 4 mos in prison for a deadly drunken hit and run because he is from a rich family and the judge was an idiot who laid part of the blame on the person who was killed.

City schools spending more and more money on less students with poor results?

A mayor who seems to spend most of his time saying stupid things and relying on his wife to run the city?




MO Republicans killing a healthcare plan for uninsured that would have cost us nothing just because it helps the poor?

Dirty streets?

More intrusive red light cameras and still the police take forever to answer a 911 call?

None of the above.

A local TV station interrupted the Tony awards for severe weather and people think it went on to long and that the storms were no where near KC. (Never mind that the storms were in the service area of the station).

I kid you not.

My wish? That these folks would channel their energy and anger into just one of the issues I mentioned besides Katie Horner's broadcast or her hairstyle. Just think of what we could accomplish.

Monday, June 08, 2009

What I am Listening to Today

Total musical insanity. That is my description of one of Shostakovich's most unique and rarely played works, the Symphony # 4. Shostakovich started his Opus 43 in late 1935 and completed the work in mid 1936, preparing for a December 1936 premiere. But in January 1936, the communist party newspaper "Pravda" published a review of his recent opera "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District" under the chilling title "Muddle (also translated Mess or Chaos) Instead of Music. Under the oppressive climate of Stalin's purges, this was more than a poor review, this was a kiss of death. Some think Stalin himself ordered the editorial to be printed. Despite this attack, Shostakovich completed the symphony and began rehearsing the premiere. During rehearsals he changed his mind and withdrew the work, claiming (much of his life he echoed the same sentiment) that the work needed revision. It was laid aside until its premiere in the Stalinist thaw of 1961.

Scored for a huge orchestra of nearly 100 instruments, this most Mahlerian of Shostakovich's symphonies is oddly proportioned (two long movements bracket a short Mahler/landler middle movement), bursting with themes presented and then discarded (the first movement is nothing but a fantasy on several themes and episodes) and quite long (over an hour long). This makes for few performances in concert but has not kept this fascinating work from receiving attention in the recording studio.

I have been listening to the new Mark Wigglesworth/Netherlands Radio SO recording on BIS (BIS 1553). A bit slow, and thus missing some of the raw insanity of the piece, but a crystal clear recording that exposes all the myriad of detail in this complex score. Slatkin and St Louis on RCA (get it while you can) and Jansons/Bavarian Radio SO on EMI may be a bit more insane and exciting, thus one should have two recordings from this batch; Jansons or Slatkin to listen to breathlessly and the Wigglesworth to mine the depths of this fascinating symphony.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Kansas City Symphony: Britten Recording Concert

The number of US orchestras recording can be counted on maybe one hand. I may be missing a few, but I can only think of Chicago (its own label), Nashville, Buffalo, Seattle... and Kansas City. Notice no Cleveland, New York, Philly...once the standard bearers of US recording. Not so anymore. High costs, low classical sales, financial difficulties for orchestras.. all combined to kick the flourishing recording contracts down the tube.

Thus it was a rare occasion to attend a pre-recording concert by the Kansas City Symphony, under the direction of Michael Stern on Thursday at the huge Community Of Christ (formerly known as the RLDS) Auditorium in Independence, MO. This concert, open to the public and free, was a test run for the recording sessions going on this weekend June 5 and 6. The concert and the recording is an all Benjamin Britten affair: Passacaglia and 4 Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, Sinfonia da Requiem, and the popular Variations on a Theme by Purcell also known as the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. The disc will be a future release on the audiophile Reference Recordings label.

Personally, I think this is a risky venture. The orchestra's first two recordings, a Naxos recording of music by Taiwanese composer Gordon Chin and a Reference Recordings disc of music by Arthur Sullivan and Jean Sibelius based on Shakespeare's "The Tempest" featured repertoire out of the mainstream or never before recorded. The Britten selections enter a tough market, with great recordings by Steuart Bedford, Adrian Boult, Britten himself, Richard Hickox, to name a few, easily available. Reference Recordings specialize in audiophile discs, so the market for the disc is assured, regardless of repertoire.

So will the performances be competitive with the aforementioned recordings? Hard to say. The Community of Christ Auditorium is not the best for live orchestral performances. Cavernous, round, and not full of bodies (there was a sizable crowd, but the damn place seats 6,000) the sound was a bit diffuse; some sections were crystal clear (brass, winds) others (low strings especially) were inaudible. I had to check to see if for some reason, Britten excluded violas from his orchestra.. I couldn't hear them. For a recording, it is known to be quite good and managable.

The 4 Sea Interludes came off well, as did the sprightly Young Person's Guide. The Passacaglia was sufficiently dark and gloomy and certainly conflicted enough to represent the tortured mind of Peter Grimes. The Sinfonia suffered from the sound, although the arresting opening of the Lacrymosa was quite clear and powerful. The "bomb episode" in the Dies Irae was a bit off kilter and could have been a bit more dramatic. The performances may not be the preferred versions (but who knows, I did not hear the final product yet) but if anything like the live performances, they should be competitive and in fabulous sound.

As I write the recording is in the can, as they say. Maestro Stern said he was pleased, so we can only look forward to the results when released.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Making it Clear..

From the Associated Press: "The body of American actor David Carradine, best known for the 1970s TV series "Kung Fu," was found in a hotel room closet with a rope tied to his neck and genitals, and his death may have been caused by accidental suffocation, Thai police said Friday. 'The two ropes were tied together,' he (aThai Police official) said. 'It is unclear whether he committed suicide or not or he died of suffocation or heart failure.' "

Let me make this perfectly clear, as Dick Nixon would have said: if you find me naked in a closet with a rope around my neck and nuts, it ain't accidental. I am somewhat clumsy, but even I can't imagine getting into that situation.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Coupl'a Things XX

1) It was announced that midtown KC will lose its only auto dealer next week. Conklin Fangman (which Bruce promptly christened "Cocky Fagman") Cadillac, Pontiac, Buick is closing on June 13. They were among the dealers GM is axing in its ill conceived recovery plan. Conklin Fangman took over from Major Cadillac a couple of years ago, remodeling and featuring a busy service department. You see the thing about Caddy owners is they take care of their cars. My neighbor has a 1998 Caddy and it is serviced regularly, on the dot. But GM and its handlers say "screw you" and just because Honda and Toyota have fewer dealers, that must be the key to success. Really, if you can't find a place to buy a GM car, then why do it at all??

We used to have several dealers here in Midtown, Fisher Buick-Chevrolet, Broadway (then Marcus Allen) Ford, and the aforementioned Caddy dealer, who added Buick when Fisher left.

Thankfully, I have the good old Queen Mary still tooling along.

2) A big cheer for the people and legislature of New Hampshire who has joined the 21st century and the ranks of the fair and progressive and legalized same sex marriage. I think Missouri will be among the last, along with Alaska and Arkansas.

3) In the same vein of GM's stupid move, Irish low cost airline Ryanair is considering charging for using on board toilets and has supposedly asked Boeing, who supplies its aircraft, to engineer credit card swipe mechanisms for the loos.

Piss on Ryanair..... I think some may just do that.

4) This is my 18th Coupl'a Things post. It replaced the Pancake Musings since I decided that pancakes were just a strain on my diet...still love the damn things though....

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Obama and Pride

June... busting out all over, days getting hotter and longer, hay fever, pools open, Gay Pride month.

For the first time since the good old Clinton Days, a President of the United States has proclaimed June as Gay, Bi and Transgender Pride Month. Obama did it yesterday June 1.

Some excerpts:

LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities.

My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security.

Certainly it is a refreshing change of pace from the Bush Dark Ages when the month and the GLBT community was ignored completely. Not since Bill Clinton have we had a President proclaim GLBT Pride Month. Sadly, as was with Clinton, the words are stirring but they are words, and as we know, words sometime ring hollow.

You see, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) is still military policy. The brass cry about lack of trained linguists and translators hampering their "war on terror". Yet they adhere to DADT and let valuable personnel go, simply because they are gay. The insidious Defense Of Marriage Act is still here, defending marriage against loving same sex couples but not contributing one iota to the staggering divorce rate and sham marriages of opposite sex marraiges. He was non committal about the original Proposition 8, saying he didn't really agree with it, but did agree a marriage is between a man and a woman. Was his lack of commitment a signal to the Black community that it was ok to vote against it? I did not see Obama jump for joy when marriage equality won historic victories in Iowa, Vermont and Maine. He was silent when Proposition 8 was upheld. Does he not realize that the same logic could lead to California stripping the Constitutional rights of Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Left Handed people, or any other group the people decide.

Obama is walking the "safe" middle, and in doing so is not gaining ground anywhere. I guess I should be happy he didn't ignore it completely or even come out against GLBT Pride. I am getting old, I am getting impatient, I am tired of hypocrisy. It is time for bold action domestically. The US can mobilize and go to war in an instant. Taking care of our own.... that is just too much trouble. Obama, you made history simply by being elected. While you have the chance, really make history. Reform health care, enact GLBT rights, end the war.... that would be real "Hope".