Monday, November 23, 2009


I've always loved Palm Springs, and even more so since moving here, but was in a dilemma of how to refer to it. I rename almost everything in my world. My best friend is now Trixie, my car is Kitty (the old Mercedes was Otto- how cute is that) and my hunky trainer I call Binky. And he likes it. Years ago friends relocated to a place up in the grapevine. There were two tiny towns in shopping distance which I nicknamed Hooterville and Pixley. We still use those.

Back in the early 90's ago my ex, John, insisted that Palm Springs was the model for Bedrock. Both Hanna and Barbera had homes here, and if you look at the backgrounds in the Flintstones, Bedrock is a low rise community with Palm trees and mountains in the background. I'm pretty certain he is right on with his theory but it's nonetheless a terrible nickname for anything other than a lizard motel.

I've been referring to it as the Gay Small Town. The population within the city limits is statistically 53% gay or lesbian, but the town retains its very small town charm. My favorite part of the pride parade was the High School Marching Band.

I was discussing it with my new stylist last week (in the fabulous salon next to the fabulous bookstore which is next to the fabulous coffee house) and he agreed. "I call it Gayberry" he nonchalantly remarked.

Gayberry. He nailed it. I'm living in Gayberry. Okay, I'm off to the Snappy Lunch.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

chorus boy

I moved to Milwaukee in the summer of 1987. It was my transition to self acceptance. The small town boy struggled with coming to terms with himself in the conservative little Michigan enclave of his youth, and the move allowed him to grow into his skin. At that point in time, Milwaukee was a sparkling city on the lakefront with a very vibrant gay community.

Within a few weeks I discovered the M and M Club in the Historic Third Ward. It was an old Cream City Brick building circa 1904 with a generous vista of windows, the first gay bar I had ever been to that wasn't huddled in darkness (and as I later learned, it was the first gay bar in the city with windows). The openness of the pub became a metaphor for the open and honest life I would have there.

They had live music on the weekends. My favorite was a lesbian couple, Tommie and Nanette from Chicago. Tommie was a pianist and Nanette was the chanteuse. They sang showtunes on Sunday nights. I would sit at a small table and have the other chair removed. I was a sassy little thing, wasn't I?

One very snowy Sunday night in December I was there listening to Nanette (by now per usual) and went to the bar to get a drink. There I struck up a conversation with a whole group of people. They turned out to be members of the newly formed Cream City Chorus, a group in its infancy which just very recently performed its first concert. I met Mark and Ebbie and Jay and Patty and Scoots and Rona and Barb, among others. We hung out and had an much better time than I normally had alone.

I soon went for my voice audition. The musical director said I was a Bass with Baritone tendencies. I suggested he put me in the Baritone section, because I still remember what happened the last time I showed tendencies.

From that point, I felt like I has a home there in Milwaukee. I had peeps to hang out with. We rehearsed, raised funds, rehearsed more, hung out at the M and M, and sang in our first spring concert, Dinner With Gershwin. I grew musically, and as a person. I went from being the only homo (I thought) in the small town to having a circle of gay friends, both men and women.

I sang with them for two seasons before my travel schedule made it too hard to make rehearsals. After that, I spent another year All-Lesbian Stage Crew with Cindy and Deb. It was an awesome time in my young adulthood.

My mind is full of vivid recollections of winter nights at the M and M club, surrounded by the chorus, listening to Tommie and Nanette sing Marshmallow World as the snow flakes crash into the big picture windows.

I'll stay for one more set.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

sunday march: palm springs pride

For this week's Sunday series, things were a bit different. This time I stood still and the images came to me. This weekend was Pride weekend,and in Palm Springs that makes for an interesting time. The population inside the city limits is 53% gay, which means for the first time ever I am in the majority. Cool.

The town has a unique flavor. It's Mayberry, but it's Mayberry with a Maribou. It's very small town and charming, and big and political at the same time. My favorites? The Palm Springs High School Marching Band (how totally adorable is that?), Cleve Jones as Honorary Grand Marshall (sorry, photo was blurry), a local dignitary in a four-hundred-thousand dollar Rolls Royce Phantom convertible, California Courage Campaign, the tireless Judy Shepard, and of course perpetual favorites Dykes on Bikes (Bykes?) and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. An awesome weekend in the Gay Small Town, so have a look- it's Palm Springs Pride:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

still plays with cars

I started World O' Jeff nearly three years ago now to share my life- the trials, tribulations and jaded observations of a gay man over 40 in the shining metropolis of Los Angeles. That was my mission statement, and we've done a lot of that. Lots of memories, stories of friends now departed, then I lost Mom, and her stories began coming forth. Throw in my love of architecture and the mid century and you have a pretty good overview. Then Prop 8 happened and we got a little political. Not intending that to be permanent, there are far better political writers than myself, but rather as my way to contribute to the cause.

There's a side of myself that I've only touched peripherally- most of my life I've been an absolutely possessed gearhead. I could identify any car on the road by the age of five. I've spent decades with the cars, and made many great friends over the years.

Last few years I really haven't had time for it. My work schedule, the move to the west side, it just became very second tier for me. And then the move happened. Here in the desert, I play with cars. Enough that I started a second blog for my gearhead side. If you are so inclined, check out the Palm Springs Automobilist.

We'll continue in our usual path here on World O' Jeff, and I have some fabulous Sunday Drives coming up. But for those of you with a little bit of Motor Oil in your veins, drop in and see me at the Palm Springs Automobilist.

That's all for now. Carry on.