A More Perfect Union - Quote of the Week

"If I am shot at, I want no man to be in the way of the bullet."

-Andrew Johnson

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Conference Highlights

I decided not to take any pictures at conference since privacy seems to be such an issue, but I have no excuse for not taking notes. I was lazy. I should have known better. What follows are only a few vignettes from this past weekend. Overall, I left with more confidence in myself, the desire to be a better person, and the resolve to reach out to others, beginning with my family. To me, this was the spirit of the conference.

-Dancing the Barn Dance with the cowboys!!! Need I say more? Yee-owe!

-Gene Robinson received a postcard adorned with a beautiful picture of an altar in England. On the back, an anonymous sender wrote that he had a bullet ready for Gene and his partner. In the face of serious death threats and escalating tensions within the church, Gene received the encouraging words in a letter, "Sometimes God calms the storm around us, and sometimes God lets the storm rage around us and calms our inner soul."

-"If there is nothing else that you remember of what I say it is this: YOU MATTER." -Lani Graves

-Like many, I was surprised and delighted to hear Jonathan Rauch give such personal remarks on marriage. He closed by quoting, "To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish 'till death do us part," and with, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Standing in the Thornton room on the 11th floor, the Capitol building was his backdrop.

-With several other conferences scheduled simultaneously with ours in the hotel, we constantly bumped elbows with other patrons. Tia was in an elevator when a couple of women entered. They were talking, and one said, "Have you noticed all of the gays in this building?" Without missing a beat, Tia reached in the depth of her voice and interjected, "Yeah, IT'S DISGUSTING, ISN'T IT???"

-After concluding her remarks at the Saturday workshop, Carol Lynn Pearson sat down. Nobody stood up to leave, and everyone was silent. Reverence permeated the room. Dana turned to me and said, "Time for the closing hymn and prayer." And that's just how it felt.

-I was impressed with the research and thought that Will Gartshore put into his cabaret. Garments may be an easy target, but to discover the beloved hymn, "Come, Come Ye Saints," and to play it in the background while speaking of the saints' desire for respite in the west was brilliant. And I think he was genuinely serious when he compared P-Town to Salt Lake City! (Actually, he's not too far off when you think about it.)

-"A more perfect onion..." [the opening lines to Mike Kessler's moving talk at the Sunday devotional]

For all you conference goers, let me know your favorite moments. Send an email or make a comment!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Culture on the Cheap

407 Seventh Street, NW
(between D and E Streets)
Washington, DC
202.TIC.KETS (202.842.5387)

Tuesday - Friday: 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Closed Sunday (Tickets for Sunday performances are sold on Saturday)
Online sales are available Tuesday through Friday from 12:00 noon - 4:00 pm only.

TICKETplace is located midway between the Archives (Yellow/Green Lines) and Gallery Place (Red/Yellow/Green Lines--7th & F Street exit) Metro stations.

Theatergoers attending the Conference who have extra time in Washington may want to check out TICKETplace, the half-price ticket seller sponsored by the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington. (Because there is an additional 12% service charge, the actual price of a discounted ticket is 62% of its face value.) TICKETplace offers discounted, day-of-performance tickets to several plays and musicals (and sometimes to concert, opera and dance performances).

The TICKETplace website posts daily the shows for which discounted tickets are available, and in some cases theaters allow you to purchase discounted tickets online without having to actually go to TICKETplace. For example, in checking what is available for tonight (Thursday), I note that at least three well-reviewed plays at theaters accessible by Metro are available: Well at Arena Stage, My Children! My Africa! at Studio Theatre, and A Lesson Before Dying at Round House Theatre. Availability varies each day.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Artistic Diversions

Art lovers attending the Affirmation Conference will find that they have arrived in Washington shortly after the openings of two blockbuster art retrospectives at the National Gallery of Art, located on the National Mall at 4th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, not far from the Hyatt hotel. Admission to the National Gallery is always free, and the museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The Edward Hopper exhibition is the first comprehensive survey of Hopper's career to be seen in American museums outside New York in more than 25 years. Focusing on the period of the artist's great achievements—from about 1925 to midcentury—the exhibition will feature such iconic paintings as Automat (1927), Drug Store (1927), Early Sunday Morning (1930), New York Movie (1939), and Nighthawks (1942).

The J.M.W. Turner exhibition is the most comprehensive survey of Turner's work ever presented in the United States. More than 145 paintings and watercolors reveal the astonishing talent and imagination of this artist—whom Alfred, Lord Tennyson called "The Shakespeare of landscape."

For more information about these exhibitions, I have provided a link to the comments made by one of Washington's most insightful bloggers on the arts. For his comments on the Hopper show, please click here, and for his comments on the Turner show, please click here.

Music lovers may also be interested to know that on a few rare occasions each year, the National Symphony Orchestra plays a Friday matinee concert at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, and this coming Friday, October 5, at 1:30 PM, is one of those occasions. (The early starting time of the concert leaves you plenty of time to return to the hotel long before the Conference activities begin on Friday evening.)

This is the opening weekend of the NSO's subscription season, and they're starting things off with a bang - the program includes a performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Conductor Leonard Slatkin leads the NSO, a quartet of accomplished soloists, and The Choral Arts Society of Washington. You can find more information here.

Guide to the Gay Ghetto

METRO: Red line,
Dupont Circle Metro Stop

I've had requests for more info about DC nightlife. Most of the gay scene is nestled within the borders of Dupont Circle. Most, but not all, and there is much more to nightlife in DC than this small parcel of land. Dupont is a good starting point, and since it's only a few stops from Union Station on the Red Line, it's easily accessible.

The following pages list a few of the amenities this neighborhood offers. I'll continue to add more as time permits.

What Is Dupont Circle?
D.I.K. Bar (a.k.a. Windows)
Human Rights Campaign Store
Kramer Books & Afterwards Cafe & Grill
Lambda Rising
Marvelous Market
People on the Street
Trio Restaurant

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Dupont Circle - A Brief History

Dupont Circle is a traffic circle where Connecticut Avenue, Massachusetts Avenue, New Hampshire Avenue, P Street, and 19th Street converge. One, two, three...yes, that's five streets all at one intersection. These streets meld into two circles; the inner circle is exclusively for travel on Massachusetts Avenue, the outer circle connects all the other streets.

These often congested traffic lanes encircle a park. In the center of the park is a large, white marble fountain, donated by the du Pont family in the early 1900's, that replaced a small bronze statue of Admiral Samuel du Pont. Locals refer to the neighborhood simply as "Dupont," and some of us even call it "the Ghetto."

This once sleepy part of town saw a building boom at the turn of the century. The nation's plutocracy built over 100 mansions along Massachusetts and Connecticut Avenues and Dupont Circle itself. After the Great Depression and World War II, the neighborhood fell into decline and many buildings were demolished to make way for larger office buildings. In the 1970's the gay population began to move into the neighborhood, establishing it as the gay ghetto. This now vibrant part of town teems with boutiques, bookstores, restaurants, bars and clubs.