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40, Love: Glee Bargain

This popular post has moved to my new blog PoptimisticCLICK HERE to be taken directly to Glee Bargain.

Please join me at my new blog Poptimistic—the fresh, frank, fun outlook on life. Like Oprah, my life has grown from a single TV show into an entire network.  Thanks to the success of Alphabet City, my award-winning humorous book and blog about my sitcom life, I’m thrilled to launch a new online network called Poptimisitic.  With that charming gay Mary Tyler Moore spirit you know and love, Poptimistic has even more room to explore a fun, fresh, frank approach to life.  So check out my line-up of shows about relationships, food, travel and culture, and start living a Poptimisitic life!

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Tex and the City: Falling Just Short

Today on Alphabet City: Tex and the City squeezes in some questionable religious training with Broadway’s Next Fall

My brushes with formal religious education have been fleeting.  As a kid, my family attended a non-denominational Congregationalist church mostly because it was expected of my climbing-the-law-firm-ladder father.  Later, as a 12 year-old, I very reluctantly suffered through confirmation classes at tony Highland Park Methodist at the insistence of my mother who was husband hunting in the over-40s single group.  Then in my teen years filled with personal upheaval, Judaism enamored me during high school at semi-Semitic Greenhill mostly because wholesome families like the Levy’s, Strelitz’s and Frankel’s adopted me into their flocks making sure I was well-fed and loved.

As an adult, I’ve tended not to be interested much in religious dogma, often holding it at arms’ length.  Even Chef’s Catholic upbringing doesn’t seem to pose many issues in our relationship—he left behind any self-loathing baggage back in Mexico.  So when Next Fall by first-time playwright Geoffrey Nauffts opened Off-Broadway last season to resoundingly wonderful reviews, I resisted the allure of a gay treatise on faith, even if Gay Hall of Flamers Elton John and partner David Furnish produced it.  But like a true show queen, a Tony nomination for Best Play after a transfer to the Great White trumps any personal trepidations.  In short order, a one-night NYC opening in my Alphabet City book tour schedule cemented the play on my squeezed itinerary.

My expectation that the show would take a Tony Kushner-like heavy handed and heady approach to questions of religious belief’s impact on the lives of a gay couple was happily dashed.  Instead, the fast-paced play is served up as a frothy living room (cum hospital waiting room) comedy with a steady mix of punch lines sure to please the hardiest Will & Grace fans.

The tightly wound hypochondriac Adam (Patrick Breen) is the latest and gayest incarnation of a familiar curmudgeon previously known as Woody Allen/Jerry Seinfeld/Larry David.  A devout agnostic, the 40 year-old worldly Adam takes every opportunity to poke fun and lay bare the inherent contradictions in the fundamentalist beliefs of his much younger aspiring actor boyfriend Luke (Patrick Heusinger).  The story reveals itself by jumping backwards and forwards in time as a collection of characters gathers in a NYC hospital after an accident.  I don’t want to give away too much here because I think the movement in the story is expertly crafted, as is the cleverly packed-in set design by Wilson Chin.  Suffice it to say there’s a motley storytelling and wise-cracking crew assembled: self-professed fag hag Holly (Maddie Corman), Luke’s Southern divorced parents Arlene (Connie Ray) and Butch (Cotter Smith), and Luke’s fellow fundamentalist friend Brandon (Sean Dugan).

Surprisingly, rather than being turned off by the accept-Jesus-as-your-savior-or-burn-in-Hell beliefs of the Luke, I was actually rather charmed by his deep hope that Adam would convert so they could meet in the afterlife.  Heusinger’s quirky laugh and shoulder shaking body movements as he tries to explain his faith makes what he’s saying palatable and cute.  Adam’s comic reaction to meeting up in the afterlife is what does it really matter—they evidently aren’t allowed to be gay in Heaven.

And herein lies my main problem with the show—while the play teases out Luke’s thoughts, hopes, dreams and background—Adam is presented solely as stand-up comedian.  And no doubt, as played by Patrick Breen, he’s charming in that nebbishy way that I found so attractive in NYC guys when I first moved here.  But there are almost no references to Adam’s background—how he turned into this rather cynical character that we all know from TV, and the real streets of New York.  What’s that about his father dying and feeling bitter that Luke didn’t hold him that night?  What’s that about Adam wanting to be a writer but leaving behind those dreams to be a teacher?  Never mind, we’re onto the next set-up.

Adam was almost too funny all the time, so that when he has some heart breaking moments, it’s hard for us to understand his depth of emotion.  It actually reminded me of the early drafts of Alphabet City that included no background about my previously dashed dreams of living in NYC or complicated relationship with my parents.  My friend, writer and artist Aaron counseled me that in order for readers to root for me to succeed, they need to know something of my background.  In Alphabet City, I can’t just start as a sitcom character with no explanation.  Aaron was right then, and his advice applies here.  I needed to know much more about Adam than just accept him as a gay archetype—especially since we delve so deeply into Luke.

Oddly, most of the other supporting characters are given more of an opportunity to break out of stereotypes than Adam.  Maddie Corman endears her Holly with a terrific blend of pathos and comic timing so I audibly gasped when Adam meanly critiques her new age efforts to find love.  “At least I’m trying,” she replies.  We have to wait deep into Act 2 to get a similar sense from the mysterious Brandon, which Sean Dugan plays expertly with a proverbial bug up his butt.

Connie Ray’s turn as Luke’s on again/off again mother is mesmerizing.  She lights up the stage from her entrance, and gets the richest dialogue—becoming the emotional core of the show.  Unfortunately, that makes Butch, the stiff as a board father, come across as well, stiff as a board.  He doesn’t get to have as nearly as interesting journey as the other characters.

But for a first time Broadway outing by the playwright Nauffts and director Sheryl Kaller, this is a tremendous beginning.  Inspiring, really.  I’m excited to continue to watch and experience their various journies—you made complicated issues of faith palatable to an avowed agnostic like myself.

Luke’s greatest role on stage, as recounted by his mother and Holly, was the Stage Manager in Our Town.  Holly gives a delicious recounting of the plot, reminding us to cherish life and not take others for granted.  To me, those words, from one of America’s greatest stage triumphs, are truly my religion.

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Alphabet City’s Alpha-Beltway

Today on Alphabet City: While on book tour in DC, Jon Paul gets an insider perspective courtesy of old friends, while wondering what happened to a Rosalynn Carter outfit.

In my Aaron Krach original ABCity t-shirt

For one brief moment I felt like a Beltway insider—I was six years-old staring at a fabulous approximation of Rosalynn Carter.  My parents were desperately trying to tear me away from the Smithsonian’s First Ladies Exhibit on my virgin trip to DC.  But I resisted, mesmerized by the mannequin’s outfit of a smart camel colored suede skirt, jacket and knee high boots.  You see, my mother had just purchased the same outfit from Neiman Marcus, and for one special nanosecond, I thought my Texas family had arrived at the pinnacle of power and fashion—just like the peanut farming Carters.

As you can imagine, the First Ladies’ exhibit holds a special place in my heart.  Over time, the curators chose to replace Roslyn’s rather unfortunate off-the-rack fashion choice with an equally disastrous couture statement.  No telling where my mom’s version ended up.  Despite repeat visits, I’ve never been able to recapture that sense of belonging in DC—a city, that much like Los Angeles, operates as a one-industry town.  Unless you are part of the entourage surrounding personalities chosen by popular vote (or box office tallies), then you’ll have to be content pressing your nose against the electoral glass.

As a writer, outsider status never much bothers me.  It gives me a perspective to observe, comment and critique.  And I’ve learned that you’ve just got to hook-up with the right local to help you learn the secret handshake.  On this trip to DC for the Alphabet City Book Tour a couple of old friends became newly trusted guides.

Kimpton's Paige Dunn has been a dream sponsor!

My base of operations was national tour sponsor Kimpton’s Topaz Hotel, tucked away on a cute street in DuPont Circle near a couple of spots related to my tattoos—the Australian Embassy and Green Lantern bar.  Needless to say, I felt at home.  Especially since the Topaz’s front desk team greeted me like a celebrity—telling me they had been handing out lots of Alphabet City excerpts that are part of Kimpton’s Summer of Pride Package.  For once on the tour, I felt like I was the star—and not Frida.  The rooms are enormous since the building was converted from an apartment building, and smartly, the hotel has chosen refillable shower product containers as part of their sustainability initiatives.

The crowd that evening at the Topaz hosted book party was brimming with gaiety—literally.  The boys of the Big Gay Book Group turned out in force to meet me since they had just read Alphabet City.  And my Greenhill prep school posse just keeps delivering—thanks Carey & Kathryn.

Big Gay Author with DC's Big Gay Book Club

Carey, JP and Kathryn

DC has one of my favorite restaurant scenes in America, and I was lucky enough to enjoy it with Susan and my fellow alum Kathryn who had an arranged a sitter for a grown up night out.  Kathryn and I were friendly, but not close friends in high school.  But in a class of 89 people, you pretty much know everyone.  I was always in awe of Kathryn’s athletic prowess as a field hockey star—constantly wishing that I could sport a cute little kilt and whack a few balls.  Kathryn and I have kept tabs on each other over the years, though, as both of us became very out and proud—she runs GayWeddings.com a site developed by her mother out of experience planning Kathryn’s wedding to her partner. There was always a twinkling of interest and understanding between Kathryn and me about a shared experience of youth filled with complicated issues of sexuality.

During dinner at Acadiana, Susan generously suffered through our reminisces of old teachers and high school crushes, all lubricated with generous helpings of Tanqueray and Basil cocktails.  On our way from the bar to the table, Susan and I spotted someone who looked vaguely familiar to us, an overly tan gentleman who moved like a character from an SNL skit.  One of his bodyguards was so tall he could have been cast as a James Bond villain.  Like a political tour guide, Kathryn unlocked the mystery right away—John Boehner, House Republican Leader.  Instantly, I felt transported inside the Beltway—our first political celebrity sighting!  As a budding image consultant commentator, here’s my advice: lay off the tanning beds and easy on the tinted moisturizer, the orange hue makes you look like a caricature.

As Kathryn and I hugged goodbye that evening, I marveled at the continuing power of this book tour to connect me with people from past.  I’m looking forward to continuing the journey with Kathryn as a good friend, now.

Acadiana’s sister restaurant DC Coast is the capital’s answer to LA’s Ivy—guaranteed political eye candy given it’s perch on lobbyist occupied K Street.  My own insider tip: reserve a spot at 1pm—easier to snag a table at the end of the lunch rush, but you still get all the people watching.  Better yet, wander in and grab a seat at the bar.  Go local (and Southern) with Fried Chesapeake Oysters and Soft Shell Crab Sandwich.

JP & Kara

The final night took me deep inside the Beltway—right into a charming and comfortable home on Capitol Hill.  My dear friend Kara had jumped at the opportunity to gather her friends for a little Alphabet City soiree—especially since she witnessed first-hand some of the Condé Nast tales from the book.  At the time Kara came to work for me at Traveler, I had been branded the Murphy Brown of magazine publishing having run through something like 11 assistants in the course of as many months.  Publisher told me to shape up—regardless of how nice I was, I clearly wasn’t interviewing folks well, and if this final hire didn’t work out, then it might be my final hour.

For weeks, I agonized my way through interviews until Kara burst onto the scene—it was obvious from the get-go that she was a bundle of energy, intelligence and class who would fit right into the team.  Since then, Kara has blossomed even further into a grass roots PR and marketing expert, now a social work activist with an equally captivating and generous husband Matt.  Together, they transformed their townhome into a showcase of comfort—the perfect setting for an Alphabet City shindig.  On such a special night, Matt and Kara’s friends filled the backyard with generosity, transferring their love of the couple to my book and me.  Gazing out at the crowd, listening to their laughs as I read about “summering,” I knew I was experiencing a special side of DC that many don’t witness.

Kara studied for an ABCity quiz

Later, Kara handed me her well-worn copy of the book for me to sign.  I laughed at the dog-eared pages and copious amounts of underlines, circles and annotations.  She had attacked Alphabet City like a graduate course assignment—with passion, precision and an analytic eye.  She’d given Alphabet City an insider read, and given me an insider perspective on DC.

Now, if Kathryn and Kara could just find out what happened to Rosalynn’s suede pantsuit, I might finally make peace with our nation’s capital.

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Gary Does (Greater) Dallas

There's nothing I wouldn't do for a sale

Today on Alphabet City: JP’s alter ego Gary Tyler Moore traverses the Metroplex for the book; rushes Chi-Omega sorority!

By the end of book tour day 2, I was sprawled on the floor of a fancy home in Southlake doing my best Playgirl pose for the alumna of Chi-Omega Sorority.  Anything for a sale.  And they bought 20 books at a Sex and the City themed party (was I Aidan or Mr. Big?)—the perfect end to a day that began with me demonstrating the Shake Weight on Good Morning Texas—anything for more air time!

See how I hold the book too?

Victory Park.  In Episode 5, I write that I learned from Tyra about book tour etiquette, including

always carry an extra copy of Tyra’s book along with a summary of key points and list of suggested questions because the host of the local ‘Wake Up’ morning show will have lost hers.’”

Well, leave it to Dallas’ own Rob McCollum, host of Good Morning Texas, to prove the exception to the rule.  Not only did the he read the book fully, he shared with me he was also the son of a Federal Judge and put me right at ease.  In typical Texas style, the crew was so helpful they even took behind-the-scenes photos for me.

Believe me, you don’t find that level of support at many morning shows.  Still, I felt like I needed to smile more, and forgot to put in a special plug for sponsor Kimpton Hotels (although they were listed on the graphics).  My favorite comment from my stepmother giving kudos to the make-up people for doing a great job.  Hey, that make-up person was ME, thanks to a tinted moisturizer.

The Hill won't be the same without Dr. Stewart, who helped launch my journalism career

Addison.  Next stop, my alma mater The Greenhill School where Katie Young toured me around and arranged for the Montgomery Library to take ownership of a signed copy of Alphabet City.  Hey kids, maybe don’t read the episode about Babylon?  Then again, there’s probably nothing these kids don’t know about sex anymore.  I loved that everywhere I went there were stickers from GLSEN indicating the school is a safe place for gay teens.  And as I told Katie, I credit the school, and the teachers, with pretty much saving my life and keeping me on path during the chaotic teen years.  Although I’ve kept my distance, the school is never far from my heart—and what a special place it remains, including an organic garden that supplies some of the school food!  Can’t wait to catch-up with more alums on the road—it means so much that the people who helped me get through high school—and believe me, it took a village—are still sticking by me.

Plano.  If you don’t have library privileges at Greenhill, or you prefer to actually purchase a copy from a brick and mortar store, then RUN don’t WALK to Legacy Books in Plano—the first store in the country to have Alphabet City on display for all!  Of course I pressed into service an employee to take a picture of me with my baby—at first she didn’t believe that I was the author.  Do I look that different from the cover?!

Lakewood/SMU.  A homecoming of sorts—Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar, not only one of the sponsors of the tour, but the scene of many episodes of my early life.  Mary/Gary feels right at home in the 70s chic environment, running on the treadmill singing the lyrics to “A Way Back to Then,” from my one of my inspiration influences Broadway’s [title of show].

Southlake.  Which brings me to my life as a Playgirl centerfold pledging Chi-O.  Honestly, I’d been looking forward to this night since Angela’s sister Mandy organized it a month or so ago.  I truly believe there’s something for everyone in this book—and these ladies proved it.  Boy, do they know how to have fun with a very energized Sex and the City theme.  Because they laughed at every punch line from the readings about “summering,” first encounter with Tyra, and my mother’s visit, I was not shy about taking any photo they asked.  They were so gracious—constantly thanking me for spending time with them, and even took a liking to my latest iPhone SwipeIt app that allows me to take credit cards!  Well believe me ladies, the pleasure was ALL mine.  I just wished Chef could have been there to see the hostess Lana’s outdoor kitchen.  See you the next year with 40, Love.

Thankfully, Gary Tyler Moore has the spunky energy to carry us both through book tour.

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Gary Does Dallas

Gary Does Dallas

back on book tour with tyra

Today on Alphabet City: JP’s alter ego Gary Tyler Moore does Dallas in a Big Way. Guest star: Tyra Banks (sort of)

Viewer programming note: Special Alphabet City tweeting project—follow #ABCity

Homecoming trips to Big D are always complicated affairs for me—add on book tour and I was one jumpy bundle of nerves.  I’d been practicing politic responses to probing questions about my father and our issues, while packing, unpacking and repacking my wardrobe—Mary taught me to always have on a cute outfit.  But a familiar face staring at me in American Airlines First Class calmed me down—although she did look paper thin and flat.  Tyra Banks eyed me from the cover of the American Way magazine, and I took that as an omen that things always work out in the end.

Stepmom knitted me a scarf!

First came the reunions.  One of the positive side effects of Alphabet City’s publication has been the surfacing of some new information as it relates to many of my life episodes involving Dad.  Dinner with my stepmother/friend was on tap for a much needed re-bonding, so I chose a spot that would let us take Dallas in style—the swanky Nana on the top of the Hilton Anatole towers.  The hotel is the site of some of the action in Alphabet City’s Episode 2—where I triumphed/floundered as the villain in a sticky sweet show Calling All Kids, that led to me meeting Tommy Tune and dreaming of being whisked right then to the Great White Way.

Nana's duck breast with a view

The Anatole and I have both grown up since those days—and Nana sits like the crown jewel offering stunning views of the Dallas skyline.  Over a perfectly grilled Texas quail and tender duck breast, we dished on tales of behind-the-scenes life on the set of Courtside Manner (the name that I gave to my father’s courtroom drama of a life).  Turns out, he was “a much more emotionally complicated person” than even I knew—a sound bite I would starting using in my press interviews.  And while the new information doesn’t change the betrayal I often felt at his hands—in fact it makes it worse actually—it was tremendously validating and fulfilling to reconnect with a person who was one (the only?) pillar of stability in my confusing teen years.

That night, I slept soundly with another old friend—The Stoneleigh.  My history with the hotel is long and fun.  My father lived in an apartment for a week or so when my parents split up.  On assignment a few years ago for Condé Nast Traveler, I returned to the scene after the hotel was renovated, reviewing the property for the magazine’s Hot List (original review).  As a travel writer, it’s gratifying to revisit and find out if first impressions are ever lasting—and I’m happy to report that the hotel is still in fine style, with large rooms and a bright color scheme that I’m still trying to recreate at home in NYC.

David Taffet proves everything's bigger in TX, including coffee & bagels

Truthfully, my first media appearance on KNON 89.3 Lambda Weekly—one of the oldest gay and lesbian radio shows in the country—made me nervous.  How would the gay media react to revelations about my father, a public gay hero, but who privately wasn’t always supportive of his gay son?  I needn’t have worried under the skillful direction of host and friend David Taffet, a New Yorker who has taken to calling himself Rhoda to my Mary.  My experience so far is that folks tend to understand that often public figures are often much different at home—and that my father separated intellectual issues from emotional ones.  As David advised, one hour on air flew by and boosted my confidence for future appearances.

Perhaps my favorite part of the book tour is the personal events and parties that friends are throwing for me all over the country.  With a hectic sitcom life, I’ll admit that sometimes I’ve lost touch with those who early on made sure I would survive and ultimately thrive.  I love that the tour is allowing me to reconnect, like at the party that my high school advisor (the woman who raised and furiously waved the red flag about my teen troubles) hosted with fellow alums from The Greenhill School.

Like old times

My dear friend Valerie (who should get a credit for one of the photos on the book’s cover—17 year-old me coyly using a scarf to cover terrible acne) drove up from Austin, and took up her spot by my side like we were back in high school—corralling the group to listen to a reading, and then peppering me with questions like a good audience plant.  Bless her.  Even better, we had a chance to catch up more at dinner at Ocean Prime, a trendy new establishment in Dallas’ Uptown area.

couldn't capture dry ice!

Over a dramatic theatrical presentation of oysters featuring dry ice, we laughed about the good ‘ole days—driving to fancy Greenhill in her Dallas Cowboys van, later at UT-Austin making stealth round-trips in the middle of night to pick-up/steal coffee pots and fans from our unsuspecting parents.

But reunions always seem to end too soon.  Reluctantly, we parted ways early as the next morning’s appearance on Good Morning Texas started to weigh heavily on me.  Gary Tyler Moore definitely needs his beauty sleep.

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Hometown Heroine

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul’s book causes dramatic revelations about long held family secrets.

JP wonders if he'll ever wear Big D on his sleeve

There’s no way around the fact that I’ve always had a delicate relationship with my hometown Dallas.  Anyone who has read Alphabet City: My So-Called Life knows that part of my Mary Tyler Moore life in the Big Apple has been about leaving behind painful parts of my Big D past.  But when wearing my (very stylish) PR hat, I knew it just made sense to start my book tour in Big D—after all, that’s where the journey began.  But the ramifications of that decision are just beginning to unravel—revealing unexpected connections, hometown heroes and dramatic revelations about long held family secrets.

Mockingbird Hilton turned Kimpton's Hotel Palomar, an urban oasis

First, the connections.  Because Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is a national sponsor of the Alphabet City Book Party Tour, their Hotel Palomar is my first stop.  When I was growing up, the property that opened in 1967 was called the Mockingbird Hilton.  On the corner of Mockingbird Lane and Central Expressway, there was no way of avoiding the modern structure when traveling to and from our house on Hillgreen down the road.  Over time, I developed an immense fascination with the hotel.  There were the giant Tiki masks outside the ground floor Trader Vic’s restaurant that served smoking drinks!  And the top of the building featured floor to ceiling windows from a sparkling disco that my older sister Pam sometimes frequented.

Hotel Palomar lobby in its retro-chicWhen I was 10, my mother left Dad, and took up residence at the hotel for a week or so.  That’s when I got my first taste of a real live urban oasis.  For a couple of days, I kept her company lounging poolside, just feet away from the perpetually clogged highway, while some of her best girlfriends showed up to commiserate with her misfortune.

A few years ago, the property was returned to all its ‘70s chic retro-glam by Kimpton, and I find it too delicious that my tour begins at Hotel Palomar.  Thanks Kimpton for being such a terrific company, and for expanding your creative marketing to the GLBT community by sponsoring the tour!

Second, the heroes.  Sometimes on a journey like this you never quite know how folks are going to respond—from the press to family to friends.  So far, so good.  Robert Wilonsky’s post yesterday on the Dallas Observer site sent my blog numbers through the roof.  David and Arnold at the Dallas Voice have been a delight—as always.  Now fingers crossed for Dallas Morning News and D Magazine.  Local PR maven Kellie McCrory is all over it.  As is my extended family hosting Book Club Parties—Christine and the Greenhill Alumni Gang (shout out to Katie Young); my mother-in-law-once-removed Cathy and her Colleyville Ladies who Lunch; and certainly can’t forget the TCU Chi Omega Sorority Alumni Book Club arranged by my sister-in-law-once-removed Mandy.  I mean amazing.

Finally, the revelations.  Are you ready for the really juicy part?  Often I am asked if I am worried about reactions from the people who appear in the book.  For the most part, I am not.  The memoir is not snarky, and even when celebrities appear, it’s more about my journey, than it is about revealing hidden dirt.  The parts that involve family members are included to show a sense of my sometimes painful background—so readers understand what motivated me to take this journey.  In essence, it’s my truth.  I did check-in with the major co-stars and guest stars with whom I have ongoing relationships—more to give them fair warning than make changes.  Chef, Susan, Angela, even my Mom, have all read the book.

But after yesterday’s Dallas Observer post, I realized there was one person with whom I hadn’t checked in.  I did so last night, and the results have been, dare I say, life altering.  Folks who have read Episode 2—and I’m not going to give it away or spoil it—might remember that there’s a confrontation with my father about my then partner Nathan and I being allowed to stay at his home.  Let’s just say that in the book, my father’s position is shocking because it runs counter to his early support of gay rights as a federal judge.  But he basically “explains” it to me as a decision coming from my stepmother whom, as his wife, he must support.  From the book:

my Dad felt it was his duty to support her.  Never mind that Dad was a hero to many in the gay community and knew better.  He had never taken my side—I had always been a burden.  And now he was through with me.  I had been written out of his show.

One of the hardest parts for me in the whole affair was the stake that it drove between my stepmother and me.  She had always been one of the people whom I credited with getting me through my very rough teen years (and I’m putting it mildly).  So the idea that she was uncomfortable with my sexuality just never made sense to me, nor my sisters.  But Dad’s word was final and he told us not to make an issue out of it with his wife.  Slowly, I drifted away from one of the key mother figures in my life.

But my journey often takes unexpected turns—especially with this book in hand.  Yesterday, my stepmother, who reads my blog and reconnected with me at my Dad’s funeral last year, emailed me within minutes of the Observer post to say, “how cool is this?”  I used that as an opportunity to give her a heads up about what was in the book, but that I felt like that was water under the bridge and had more to do with my difficulties with Dad than with her.  Not only did she take it in stride, but she shed some new light on the situation—she never expressed any concerns about me being gay (after all, she was the one who snapped a Polaroid of me “coming out of the closet” and put in the family photo album).

Seems like my father might have had a unhealthy habit of spreading untruths when it came to emotional issues—he was possibly covering up some of his own complicated feelings about my sexuality.  In retrospect, given all of the other issues Dad and I encountered over the years, that seems to make sense.  Sometimes very admired public figures lead much more complex private lives—and none of this should take away from my father’s well-regarded accomplishments civil rights, just add another intriguing layer.    Unfortunately, I will never be able to clear the air with him.  But I can with my stepmother—she and I are having a much deserved catch-up dinner when I’m in town on book tour.

There's room for Pegasus

On my arm, I have a couture tattoo of all my favorite places—Sydney, Paris and, of course, New York.  My amazing tattoo artist Friday Jones at Senses in NYC has always questioned me about why Dallas is missing from the mix.  Maybe it’s time to change that, and let a little Pegasus love into my heart, and onto my arm.  Like Mary Tyler Moore taught me: things always work out in the end, and when they do, remember to have on a cute out fit—and, now, tattoo.

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Going Rogue

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul wonders about his readers’ preferences.

First, the good news: Barnesandnoble.com now has Alphabet City available for $13.48—10% off the cover price.  Sweet.  But now, the odd news: evidently, customers who purchased Alphabet City on BN.com also bought Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue.  I’m sorry—really?

Now, I’m the first to admit that when the Alaska “governor” burst onto the national scene unexpectedly I had a little gay guy crush on her.  Or well, maybe I had the hots for Tina Fey’s version of her.  And let’s be honest, she was decked out in all those suits from my hometown retailer Neiman Marcus—clearly she was after my Dallas heart.  But now, enough is enough.

Curiously, I then flipped to Amazon.com to see a similar listing of readers’ preferences.  What a little relief—customers who purchased Alphabet City on Amazon.com also bought Game Change.  Now there’s a book I can get into—and have.  It’s an incredibly fascinating and fast-paced inside look at all the personalities in the last election.  If I were still teaching government at my alma mater Greenhill (shout out to Bryan, my former student-now good friend hosting a NYC Book Club Party for me), I’d put this book on the required reading list.

At the end of the day, I love that Alphabet City fans are such a diverse bunch.  My first Book Club Party stop is in Southlake, TX, a suburb of Dallas where I will be speaking to the TCU Chi Omega Sorority Alumni Group Book Club (shout out to Mandy for organizing that—I’m super excited!).  And now I have a new cheeky topic to add to that appearance—what do the sorority sisters think about ‘going rogue’ in Alphabet City?  Don’t worry Mandy, I promise to behave.

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