Friday, August 15, 2008

Molly Venter.

Here's Molly:

Friday Melanie.

I've been uploading to youtube some video clips of my friend Molly Venter -- I'll share them when they're ready -- who reminds me, at least her voice, of Melanie. Most people I think only know Melanie from "Brand New Key," her big novelty hit, or possibly "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)," the song she wrote about Woodstock, but she wrote and recorded and performed for years and years (and may still be out on the road -- I know she was touring a few years ago with her daughters who have a band).

She likes old timey instruments and arrangements, which gives her songs sometimes a music hall vaudeville-ish sound. Some of her songs are silly -- on her live recordings, she seems to love making the audience laugh -- some are a bit maudlin, others are serious, poetic, introspective. (Reading back over that last sentence, I realize that all those elements were part of the sixties folk revival that she was a big part of.) But then, over and against all those elements is that voice that seems to just spill from her heart undiluted. Patti Griffin does it. And Molly Venter does it, too.

"Peace Will Come" was on a K-Tel compilation that my brother and I got in the early 70s -- the single version starts with only a plaintive vocal and I think accordion and builds to a full orchestration with all sorts of odd instruments and layers of vocals (all her). I used to listen to it over and over because it made me cry. I didn't even really know what it was about, still don't, but something about the sonic quality of it would go right to my tear ducts.

I had no idea who she was or what else she did and I guess no curiosity about it until many years later. I still think it's a mysterious and moving song.

And this clip of "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)," I can't even find words for how happy it makes me to find this.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


The big gay news lately is, the web site where men go to find other men to have sex with. Manhunt basically consists of pages and pages of profiles with small photos and a few lines of text running the gamut from those who are seeking love, romance, dinner and a movie-type dates ("I know Mr. Right is out there somewhere") to graphic solicitation ("BB bottom cumdump seeks NSA loads"). It tilts pretty hard toward the direct appeals. Men will be men.

There's an article in the new issue of Out Magazine called, "Has Manhunt Destroyed Gay Culture?" and yesterday it was in the news that the owner of Manhunt is a Republican who has donated money to John McCain's campaign. All the gay blogs are talking about it.

I'll offer a couple random thoughts (which I posted as a comment to the post in The New Gay). There are so many aspects of this issue -- cultural, personal, political -- that it's hard to tease out a point of view.

Just think about two guys cruising Manhunt: one is there because he's deeply ashamed, married and closeted, desperate for the touch of another man, and this is the only way he knows. The other one is Out, sex-positive, and believes that sex is a political act and a fundamental right. (I think you get the same extremes with people who cruise parks or public bathrooms.) Pride is not the opposite of shame, it's the other side of the coin.

There's also a practical consideration. Heterosexual men live in a world where 97% of the women they encounter could at least theoretically, potentially be attracted to them. Homosexual men live in a world where 97% of the men they encounter would not under any circumstances be attracted to them and in fact a large percentage of them would be hostile or repulsed by the suggestion. As gay men, we look for and create situations where the probability of sex is higher. We want better odds.

We need places to find each other, and it's easier to sit in front of the computer at home than it is to sit in a bar. The Internet is a horny man's dream come true. But I don't think I like this development. Alcoholics are much more fun than Internet addicts.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Jay and I have been watching Extras, the series by Ricky Gervais who did The Office. I loved The Office, but this is even better I think. The Office was so relentlessly cynical, which was one of the things that made it so funny, but after a while that tone makes me a bit claustrophobic. What I love about Extras is that it is just as biting, but the characters are sympathetic. There's love in it. The Office was short on love. From what I saw of the American version of the Office, they tried to put some love in it, but it didn't ring true to me. The American version would probably be pretty good if you'd never seen the original. Steve Carell is pretty funny, or I should say used to be. He doesn't make me laugh any more. It's like Will Ferrell. I don't know if they're not funny any more or if I just got sick of them.