New York City Blog Aug. 11 – Aug. 17 Back in NYC

My interview with Cris Land July 24, 2014, Portland, OR.

“Gender doesn’t have to do with bed partners. It has to do with identity.” Christine Jorgensen, 1950s

Cris Land and I met at Doug Fir on Portland’s East Burnside.I was nervous, feeling a little guilty because I was going to ask personal questions. I wanted to interview Cris because he is transexual. How did he get that way? You know, changing body parts, especially the sexual ones. I had written down some questions: When did you become aware of your gender? What were your greatest sources of help and support? Do you connect your gender change with sex? How did your partner react to your transition? Did you have medical insurance? Do you have a transgender community?
After we settled into our Bloody Marys, Cris took control of the interview. I figured that was fine as long as I got to ask my questions.
First, we discussed his professional and political background. He is an IT pro, having managed the Y2K crises mitigation for Oregon Health Sciences University. Currently, he is a management consultant. Cris also holds various offices in the Democratic Party locally, statewide and nationally. In 2012 he was the first out female to male transexual nationally to be elected as a congressional district delegate to a national democratic convention.
Engaging and articulate, he was also patient with me, a non trans or cisgender person, being slowed down by various terms. He explained that trans is an umbrella term, transexual is someone whose had or desires a sex change, intersex is a combination of male and female physical attributes from birth, gender queers are people who don’t identify as strictly male or female. Some acceptable pronouns are: hir, she, their and they. I asked Cris to use their in a sentence. His example was something like this: Mary Jo gave me their (not her, not him) address.
Cisgender refers to a person whose gender identity matches their sex as identified at birth.
Cris uses the word, transition, to describe the passage from one’s sex as identified at birth to the sex you identify with. Male pronouns are appropriate for female to male transexuals (FTM). Female pronouns are used for male to female transexuals (MTF). Always use the person’s preferred pronoun.
After I asked him about changing gender, he corrected me saying you change your body to match your gender identity.
I’m learning.
Having been a delegate at the National Democratic Convention is a source of great pride to Cris. He was among twelve transexual delegates. At the convention’s LGBTQ caucus, there was a packed house and the trans delegates were given a standing ovation. I found it ironic that the convention was held in North Carolina, one of the states that, at that time, banned same sex marriage. When I mentioned this to Cris, he told me that Oregon had originally banned same sex marriage, but a court has recently reversed that decision.
Cris and his partner had a marriage ceremony when they were both lesbians in the 90’s, before same sex unions were recognized. When Cris told his partner he was considering having a body change, she asked if he’d be a trans or a straight man. She was content with his reply, trans man. Cris began the process in 1998. First, came the hormones to deepen the voice, alter the hair pattern and distribute fat in a male pattern. Next, Cris came out at work, OHSU, Oregon Health and Science University. Top surgery followed. I asked about bottom surgery. Currently, there are two procedures: phalloplasty and metoidioplasty. According to Cris, few trans men do bottom surgery. Counseling, hormones, and top surgery came to about $15,000. Cris referred me to the Benjamin Standards of Care. Gleaning my complete ignorance, he explained that Benjamin Standards of Care were guidelines for the treatment of people who undergo hormonal or surgical transition to the other sex.
Time for my questions:
MJR: When did you become aware of your gender?
CL: I knew I was male. I’ve always been the person I am. I was always being told to walk like a girl, dress like a girl, boring hints about makeup and hair.
MJR: What was your greatest source of help and support?
CL: My partner.
MJR: Do you connect your gender change with sex?
CL: No, it’s about gender identity.
MJR: How did your partner react to your transition?
CL: As I said before, she wanted to hear I’d be a trans male. If she’d objected to my transition, I wouldn’t have done it. Lucky me. She was completely supportive.
MJR: Medical insurance?
CL: No help. Trans related care was excluded at the time.
MJR: That means that people without the bucks are excluded?
CL: Usually.
MJR: Do you have a transgender community?
CL We female to male trans guys had Coqsure in Portland. It’s original name was Cocksure. That had to be changed for the internet. Many more resources exist locally now.
Cris’s desire to get on with his life and become part of the larger community is evident.

ISSUU – Just Out February 2013 by Just Out

Transgender Delegation Makes DNC Especially Historic |





New York City Blog Aug. 3 – Aug. 9 in New Mexico

My father was a socialist and my mother a social climber. My social climber inner self was fully present at the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos. Mary Millicent Abigail Rogers (1902-1953) was the heir to the Standard Oil fortune. She was photographed by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Horst B. Horst, wore Charles James and was married many times, usually to foreign counts – soooo 1930’s. After an unsuccessful affair with Clark Gable, she licked her wounds by settling near a sacred mountain in New Mexico. Oh, yes, the museum. It was founded by the Rogers family in 1956. The original collection was from the vast collections of Millicent Rogers and her mother, Mary B. Rogers. The Millicent Rogers Museum is small by NYC standards and choice. It’s mainly Native American with emphasis on New Mexican pottery paintings, tapestries, arts and crafts, religious art. It’s chock full of treasures, but the atmosphere is one of calm, space and great beauty.

Martinez Pottery

Martinez Pottery

Native American textiles

Native American textiles

On to a local restaurant:

Hanging chilis, looking out the window at Orlando's

Hanging chilis, looking out the window at Orlando’s

Then to the Taos pueblo.The photo was taken by Michal Heron.

Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo

And, channeling my Catholic father, we went to a small adobe church in Chimayo.

Finally, the River Grande. God’s country?

Michal Heron's Rio Grande

Michal Heron’s Rio Grande

It was a long and satisfying day.

We went to the 10,000 Waves Japanese restaurant, Izanami, in the surprisingly green Santa Fe outskirts. I had three glasses of different kinds of saki, each paired with different kinds of American (artisan!!) cheese. Small plates of everything from pork belly to Japanese eggplant to plum saki sorbet. It was a very enjoyable evening.

CARMEN was awful. When Santa Fe Opera changes original settings the result is something only a rich benefactor could love. In 2011 I saw a real stinker directed by Peter Sellers. It was his interpretation of Vivaldi’s GRISELDA originally set in 18th century Italy. In Sellers’s version the cast were arrayed in sunglasses and carried machine guns. Move over, Sellers. The director Stephen Lawless, whose surname is singularly apt, has set Carmen in 1960’s Mexico. The only person on stage who seemed to have understood the original story was Joyce El-Khoury as Micaela. In the final act, Carmen had on a blond wig and a white fur coat. Why, Mr. Lawless?

On Friday afternoon I attended a wonderful recital (Henri Duparc, Benjamin Britten, Franz Liszt, Sergei Rachmaninoff) given by the tenor Paul Groves. For an encore he asked a colleague to join him. Who should step onto the stage? Kostos Smoignas, the bass baritone who played Escamillo as if he were Elvis Presley. He and Paul Groves sang the tenor-baritone duet from Bizet’s PEARL FISHERS and it was wonderful. Two thumbs up for recitals.


New York City Blog August 27 – August 2 Portland and Santa Fe

At the Portland Museum of Art, we went to The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden. Louis Daguerre and his contemporaries photographed the Louvre and its gardens over one hundred years ago. Julia Dolan gave a talk on 19th-Century French Photography that complemented the exhibit.

Later we headed to the Canby airport to celebrate Gracie’s birthday. Gracie is a 1959 Cessna bought by friends a year ago. Successful Party hint: buy a Cessna.

Happy Birthday, Gracie!

Happy Birthday, Gracie!

On Tuesday I headed to Santa Fe, N. M. As you all know there are few if any direct flights. Southwest is rumored to have one. I landed in Salt Lake City, went on to Albuquerque, took the shuttle to Santa Fe and here I am. I had managed to pack everything into a backpack and a tote for fear of my luggage heading for parts unknown. Supper was at noisy, chaotic, fun Cowgirl BBQ. Next time you’re in Santa Fe have the Cowgirl baked potato dessert.

New York City Blog July 20 – July 27 from Portland, OR.

Cris Land and I met at Doug Fir on Portland’s East Burnside. I wanted to interview Cris because he is transexual. I was nervous, feeling a little guilty because I was going to ask personal questions. How did he get that way? You know, changing body parts, especially the sexual ones. I had written down some questions: When did you become aware of your gender? What were your greatest sources of help and support? Do you connect your gender change with sex? How did your partner react to your transition? Did you have medical insurance? Do you have a transgender community? As soon as I’ve written the interview and received Cris’s approval, I’ll post it.

In reply to the Israeli lawmaker’s call for genocide of Palestinians getting thousands of Facebook likes, Tom Siracuse, the chair of the NYC Green Party wrote: I’m not surprised. I’ve heard these arguments from many:
1. Muslims in general and Palestinians in particular are incorrigible fanatics and are incapable of co-existence with Jews or negotiating in good faith. Either they are forced out or killed, or that is what they will do to the Jews.
2. “Palestinians” are a made up entity with no valid claim to the Holy Land. They are Arabs who migrated into the Holy Land from Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, etc. and should go back where they came from. Only the Jews have an historical and religious right to live in the Holy Land.
3. The Nazi Holocaust, Czarist pogfroms, Jewish persecutions and expulsions over the centuries prove that only an exclusive Zionist state for Jews can guarantee safety for world Jewry.

Did I leave out any other justification to get rid of the Palestinians?

Portlandia: Roses are grown in gardens, on sidewalks, in parks and honored in the public library carpets.

Portland Roses on Market Street

Portland Roses on Harrison Street

A rose covered carpet at the Portland library

A rose covered carpet at the Portland library

Cosy, civic, and charming: How about a library on a tree? This one is at Market and 34 Ave.

Portland Tree Library

Portland Tree Library

Some friends and I celebrated an important birthday at a restaurant in the 1883 Ladd Carriage House, one of the few remaining nineteenth century mansions.The Carriage House has been moved several times and is now on its original site.
We went to a charming Portland fixture, the Clinton theater, to see a very New York documentary about the venerable Nat Hentoff. The Clinton is in a little enclave of nineteenth century buildings. Portland is having a real estate boom. Good bye space and skyline.

New York City Blog July 13 – July 19 from Portland, OR.

The Portland, OR. week began at The Living Room, a combination eatery and movie house, so dear to my heart. Eating during “Life Itself” requires a strong stomach. It’s Roger Ebert’s story and many of the scenes take place after his jaw was removed. My favorite parts were between Ebert and Gene Siskel who cordially hated each other.

Dawson Park in Portland’s north quadrant sponsors free concerts. It’s very casual and friendly. Sometimes, there’s great music.

Dawson Park Singer

Dawson Park Singer

Michael Ellick is leaving Judson Memorial Church. He will be the senior minister at First Congregational UCC in Portland. The 1891 building resembles the Old South Church in Boston. It’s considered one of the few examples of Venetian Gothic architecture in the United States.

Sand castles on Pioneer Square! It’s a nineteen year tradition that takes place in Portland’s living room. The contestants begin early in the morning and build with sand and water until 4 p.m.

 19th Sand Castle Competition

19th Sand Castle Competition


New York City Blog July 7 – July 12

I’m taking my annual hiatus in Portland, OR. staying in the best apartment with the best landlady and visiting the best friends in the world. Nauseated yet?

Portland Pals

Portland Pals

Why do I love Portland? One reason is because it reminds me of the Oz books. L. Frank Baum was born in New York State but spent part of his life in the midwest. I think there’s a midwest sensibility about Portland: very middle class, work oriented, courteous and odd. I’ve observed people who could have been the inspiration for the Scarecrow, Jack Pumpkinhead, Ozma and Toto.

Ozma and Toto

Ozma and Toto

More Portlandia: a free Russian concert in Mt. Tabor Park.The band was Chervona and billed as Eastern-Euro Carnival Insanity. I didn’t understand what that means either. Lots of fun: kiddies and oldsters and everybody in between jumping up and down, swirling, whirling to Russian music under the glorious trees of the Mt. Tabor Park.

Tabor Park Russian Festival

Tabor Park Russian Festival


Isn’t this a charming stand? Everybody goes to the one and only Powell’s Book Store. Recently, my friends and I attended a book talk about impressed/shanghaied 19th century Portland lads.



Mississippi Avenue in Portland’s northwest area celebrated its fair. It was huge, crowded, friendly and hot. The city is going through a heat wave.My friends chose to take a course on herbs. (Portland, you know.) I slipped away to the southeast and went to the Baghdad, a dark, cool movie house that sells food and booze to eat while watching the movie. What bliss. I watched Planet of the Apes, best movie I’ve ever seen. Maybe it was the surroundings.

New York City Blog June 29 – July 5

The ballet maniac and I went to our last ABT performance for this year. Because of a lovely coincidence, we were seated next to some friends I usually run into at a Chinese banquet.It was such fun listening to the gang toss around ballet names from the past and present and complain about the current New York Times dance critic. The performances on stage were equally wonderful. It was Shakespeare’s night: The Dream based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the eponymous The Tempest. The gang gave thumbs up for The Dream, Gillian Murphy and Herman Cornejo. I was the only one who was enthusiastic about The Tempest.

This bronze statue of Fiorello LaGuardia is in LaGuardia Place.I like his chubby figure and dated suit. Thankfully, he’s not draped in a Roman toga. I passed by it on a steamy, humid July 3 after ducking into Bruno’s Bakery to pick up July 4th goodies.


Laguardia's Statue

Laguardia’s Statue

Welcome to a gorgeous lush garden in the depths of Brooklyn.

An enchanting Brooklyn garden

An enchanting Brooklyn garden


New York City Blog June 22- June 28

The BBC had an article by Stephen Evans about NYC’s Lower East Side. Known these days as Alphabet City, it was once called Kleindeutschland (Little Germany). On June 4th, 1904 more that 1000 people in the city’s German community died. St Mark’s Lutheran Church had chartered a paddle ship, the General Slocum, but a fire broke out. The captain believed it could be contained. It couldn’t. The Slocum Memorial Fountain, dedicated in 1906 and donated by the Sympathy Society of German Ladies, is in Tompkins Square Park.

On a more cheerful note, Saturday night three of us celebrated a birthday at Kafana on Avenue C. Feeling an Italian/Chinese overload? How about Serbian food? We settled on the spicy sausages and ajvar, the delicious pepper, tomato and eggplant spread, washed down with lovely, unpronounceable red wine. Lots of noise, the World Cup was on the TV, and good natured cheering. “Kafana je moja sudbina” means Kafana is my destiny.

Have you ever said to yourself, I will never sit through (fill in with a movie, book, etc.) again? I’m saying that about Swan Lake. The ballet fiend and I left ABT’s Wednesday night’s performance because we were disappointed by David Hallberg’s canceling, the ragged corps de ballet and the uncomfortable seats.

This is not a lime. A friend bought this avocado squash in the Union Square Farmers Market. The recipe will be in next week’s blog.

An Avocado Squash

An Avocado Squash






New York City Blog: June 15 – June 21

It’s been a busy week.  Diana Vishneya and Marcelo Gomes were superb in the ABT’s GISELLE. Gillian Murphy, as Myrta, the Wiilis’s Queen, and her creepy followers, the corp de ballet were perfect. But the forest was so dark. It was almost as dark as the Charles James’s reverential exhibit at the Met, beautiful but I felt the need of a seeing eye dog.

Charles James's Poster at the Met

Charles James’s Poster at the Met

BELLE was predictable and boring. Not even Tom Wilkinson’s performance saved it. I ran into some neighbors, Joe (the man) and Winston (the bird) outside the theatre.



MALEFICIENT was lots of fun. Angelica Jolie was her chiseled best. A friend and I saw the movie at AMC 25 in tacky, tourist infested 42nd Street. The movie house’s decor is vaguely Hollywood Egyptian with escalators that go who knows where. Afterwards, to Ginger, a huge Chinese restaurant, where we filled up on duck and Tom Collins. 
Mutton chop, anyone? A dear friend took me to Keens. It’s Con Haggerty’s favorite restaurant. He’s Steve Kulchek’s retired uncle. We were offered a reservation at 5:30 or 9:30. We took the earlier hour. Keens has casino lighting. In other words, the minute you enter time doesn’t exist. It’s got everything: great food, great service, great decor, and a great history.
Lady Keen over the bar

Lady Keen over the bar

That’s not the Goodyear blimp floating over lower Manhattan, that’s me, having indulged alla Paul Bunyan in two –2 — two restaurants this week.


New York City Blog June 9 – June 15

Andrew Berman, indefatigable head of GVSHP

Andrew Berman, indefatigable head of GVSHPI attended the Frank O’Hara plaque unveiling at 441 East 9th Street where O’Hara had lived. It was sponsored by GVSHP, a wonderful organization with the unwieldy name Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Its head, Andrew Berman, opened the ceremony, shouting above the fire engines, buses and barking dogs that provided a typical 9th street chorus. Frank O’Hara was a dynamo: a poet, a  MOMA curator and an openly gay man. Tony Towle reminisced about O’Hara and read from his “Lunch Poems” collection. Edward Berrigan, son of Ted Berrigan, the poet and a close O’Hara friend, also read.Go to GVSHP Program Encore 6-10-14 to read Towle’s amusing description of the apartment he inherited from O’Hara. If O’Hara did a Rip Van Winkle, what would he think of the computer revolution and the AIDS epidemic?



 Off to the Frick Collection to hear Curator Xavier F. Salomon describe two paintings by Veronesi and the Parmigianino painting, Schiva Turca. Although her origins are mysterious, she’s neither a slave nor a Turk.  In an early inventory that’s how the painting was identified and the name has remained.
 Finally, I finished reading Simon Schama’s LANDSCAPE AND MEMORY.  His thesis is that every landscape is a combination of the memories and beliefs of the viewer. It was great fun discussing it with gardeners and landscape designers. Did you know there were dragon myths in the Alps? You would if you’d waded through Schama’s fascinating but too long book.