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July 2009

Jumping for Joy for Elaborate Wedding Choralography!

Jkweddingdance-jill_kevinOK so I have cynical friends who claim that this conceived by/paid for as a commercial by the artist Chris Brown, and I suppose that's possible but I think it's more probable that these are just some really fun people who decided to make their wedding a celebration in the truest possible sense.... And congrats to them for that! These are totally people that I would want to know as they clearly know how to have a good time! Congrats to the happy couple! 




Norman Jumps for Joy All Over Again

It's been awhile since I've posted but things are back on track on this end after Pride and my San Francisco trip. Thought I would share this with all of you as it is a letter that really moved me after Chris' Jumping for Joy a couple weeks ago.

"You know, I've been sitting here, for about two weeks, moaning about how pitiful I am, with the hernia, and the shin splints that I developed - in the course of making myself much healthier - and then I read Chris' piece.

"It's something like that that puts everything in perspective. The hell with self pity, the hell with feeling sorry for myself. Get up there, get the crap done, and get back on your feet. So, thanks Chris, thanks Andrew. It's just what I needed" - Norman

Roger Jumps for Joy

The lights dim. Ben is announced. He takes the cursory bow and proceeds to the bench. For a split second, I scan the hall. There’s Mom…I’ll move over there in a little while and sit with her. There’s my brother and sister-in-law…Ben’s older brother Sam (good, I’m glad he could put aside the normal sibling rivalry and make an appearance)…Granny and Grandpa (the kid’s other grandparents, they are so cool)…my sister and her husband, that’s nice…and…Holy Mother of God! Dad and Ruth? That’s a whole long dramatic story spanning forty-five years of family history, gossip and legend. Suffice it to say, I was a bit unsettled by the potential for misbehavior and family fireworks. And, who are these kids taking up two rows down front?

Nice paper. Good layout and print. A bio? The kid’s got a bio!?!? You got to be kidding me! Harrumph! What will I have to endure this evening? Hey, didn’t you used to wear glasses? When did you get so tall and trim? Man, I need to get out and see the family more often. Dang, boy, I wish I was that handsome when I was 17! You got that tall, dark and handsome curse thing going on! Yup, you’ll be breaking lots of hearts, son.

After the standard performers calming breath before a piece, Ben begins. …and I can no longer breathe. With refined technique, Bach’s Sinfonia No. 1 in C Major is delivered with skill and mastery not seen in advanced college-aged students. From my seat, enthralled, trying to breathe, I watch his face as he visibly tells me what my ears are hearing. On to a Gershwin Prelude and Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C# minor! I am helpless, still trying to breathe on my own, and taken on a ride of exquisite musical emotion, sensitivity and humanity. The others in the hall have faded away. I am subject to the artist’s breath and heart beat.

Beethoven. Brahms. DeBussy. Joplin. During a break I gather my emotions and move over to sit with Mom. “Glad you could make it, Son.” “Me, too, Mom. Me, too.” Ben’s Mom, my sister-in-law, turns around to say hello, leaves her seat and heads up the aisle out the back door.

What’s next on the program? “There Is A Fountain”…Traditional American Melody. I don’t recognize the name. No matter, I have a long-standing affection for American music and I’m sure I’ll like it.

The short break is over and Ben returns to the stage followed by his Mom, Suzie. What the…? When we were in college, Suzie was a magnificent flautist. She was carrying her instrument. It had been over 20 years.

Breathing together, heart beats in sync with one another; the elegant old fashioned American melody made it way through space and time. No flourishing musical technique necessary or proffered: just pure, raw, un-refined human emotion, touch, breath and sensitivity by a mother and her son, music and sight transcending words. I do hope no one else heard me gasp for air. With watery eyes and the occasional sniffle, I hung on every visibly and audible phrase, feeling somewhat ashamed for observing something so tender and personal.

I can breathe a little better now. We’re almost over and Ben is on his final programmed piece. Nice contemporary 21st century offering. Of course, there’s a standing ovation. And, of all things…groupies? Yes, my 17 year old nephew has groupies! That’s who those kids were up front! Am I at a Jonas Brothers concert?

In keeping with proper recital etiquette, Ben took the appropriate bow and departed the stage. The end. I can finally compose myself, right? The crowd doesn’t give up and an encore is called. Now, I’m in the twilight zone. Who has an encore at their high school senior recital? Is that Rod Sterling’s voice somewhere off in the distance.

With showmanship reminiscent of the Ed Sullivan Show, Red Skelton and the Carol Burnet Show, the encore was introduced by his teacher. Under the guise of the featured artist missing the encore because he’s already off to the post-recital reception, another student of the studio was called up to perform in Ben’s place. In a well-executed manner of Ricky and Lucy, the encore underway was ultimately “discovered” and, with punch and cookies in hand, musical mayhem ensued. Filled with spit-takes, excellent joke timing and comedic delivery worthy of the great variety shows, we were taken on a humor-filled four-handed ride through every aspiring pianist’s annoyingly favorite piece...“Chop Sticks”. Now I can’t breathe from laughter, I’ve got a stitch in my side, and I don’t give a rats ass who can see me getting all misty-eyed.

Wow! This kid kicks ass!!!

I do hope Ben will remember his crazy uncle and score me some tickets to see him with the New York Philharmonic. Stage right, please, so I can see your face. I’m the old guy over there moving to the music, catching the waves, riding with wild abandon. I know it will take some years to comprehend just how unbelievable cool it was to perform with your mom. Sweet, man! That rocks!

(My unsettled apprehension about fireworks was much ado about nothing. Everyone behaved themselves. Ben ranked 2nd and 5th in a state-wide competition last week and was courted by 5 big name universities across the country. Baylor University offered the sweetest deal so he’ll be starting there in 8 weeks…and Waco is only a hop and a skip up I-35 so I can see more of his performances.)


- Roger, San Antonio, TX

Rob Jumps for Joy

Music, in all its forms, is what makes me jump for joy. It can be as rich & complex as the haunting music of the Hinini prayer that in the Jewish faith is sung by the rabbi & cantor at High Holy Days, where they are begging G-d to forgive their mistakes during services and to not let them allow it to affect their congregant's prayers. On the opposite extreme....I went to a sober circuit party, er, ah, I mean a gay AA convention in Palm Springs last summer.

The second night's entertainer was a comedian that I thought well, wasn't funny. But as she left the stage, my alltime favorite DJ, whom I used to never miss going out to dance to when he was in LA, "Eddie X" started spinning. I had planned on going to my room for a power nap before I danced, but he played his signature opening song & I spun around and hit the dance floor.

For the next two hours, my mind was at peace as the music took me places that I hadn't been to in years. I was literally jumping up and down at times, never totally conscious of my movements but the next day so many people told me they just stood back as they watched me having so much fun.

And finally on another extreme, the first time I went to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl after 9/11, as we always do at the beginning of a concert there, we all stood to sing our National Anthem.

But this year was different, we were all so raw emotionally, that it took on a particular significance beyond what was just usually rote.

There were 13,000 people in the Bowl that night & I'm sure there wasn't a dry eye among them. So, it's music that makes me jump for joy.
Rob Bergstein

Jon Jumps for Joy!

Freestyle skiing makes me jump ... and jump for joy, particularly if I execute a good trick!

Still a beginner but grabs are looking pretty good now, got to work on my switch!!

Get some practice in at the local snow dome occasionally on a Friday night.

Chris (sorta) Jumps for Joy

Actually jumping for joy is a tough thing for me right at this moment because I'm currently recovering from abdominal surgery and my range of motion is quite limited. :)

But as I re-read this e-mail on my shiny new Palm Pre, listen to my newly downloaded CD "19" by the amazing Adele and watch my partner Eran and my daughter Becky bake chocolate chip cookies together on this rainy Saturday, I am filled with such a sense of contentment and joy that I would jump if I could...certainly a cerebral jump for joy is in progress!

Thank you for asking for these moments. I'm attaching a candid photo of a reflection of me in a window that I took on one "recovery walks" recently. There is pain in my face but such discomfort is dispelled for a few precious moments today while I contemplate how lucky I truly am. I'm also attaching a fun moment of me and the fam at Victory Gardens.

All the best,

Chris Caswell

Stephen Jumps for Joy

Whese thIngs make me jump for joy:

My Husband
Living in Portland
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
Hot tubs
Bed-headed skater boys
The Obama family
Listening to music
Thunder & lightning
Having $ in the bank
Mad Men
The Gym
Drag Queens
Sauvie Island & Rooster Rock (in Oregon)
Ugly Betty
Having a Job
Good friends- old & new
30 Rock
Good movies that move me, make me think or make me laugh
Naked men
Being gay
(I consider it a gift from God… really. Otherwise, I would be a middle aged white straight male)
The ocean


Chris Jumps for Joy (and then some)

What's making me jump for joy?


It's the seemingly inconsequential litttle things that you miss when you don't have them.

It might sound stupid but after a long and exceptionally unglamorous battle with cancer, two weeks ago I started getting back my eyebrows. When I first announced my diagnosis to my family and friends, Andrew emailed me and said I should just shave my head and grow a goatee. Why not? I'd done it before. (See above left)

What I failed to realize at the time was that I might not just lose the hair on my head. Depending on the chemo and the patient, there is no prognosis on just how much hair you might lose ... above or below the equator. I can't help but think of the countless hours that many friends over the years have wasted shaving their chests, etc. Little did they know they could get those results for free (ish).

Ten days after my first chemo it started. I was in the shower and the second the shampoo hit my head I knew. Immediately my hands were covered with what felt like soggy shredded wheat. The irony is that for the first time in years I had decided to grow my hair out. Above (right) is a picture of one of my longest hair stages with tennis legend Jimmy Connors. It was around the same time I got to work with former Miss America and broadcasting pioneer Phyllis George. My hair was bigger than hers. (Personal note to self: never, ever, under any circuimstances should you ever mention to a former Miss America that your hair is bigger than hers. Let's just say the atmosphere became quite chilly and the Miss Congeniality award went elsewhere.)

When I got out of the shower that morning the sight that greeted me in the mirror was nothing compared to the one that confronted me in the tub. It looked like Islamic fundamentalists had put Robin Williams and two alpacas into a cuisinart. You'll never know how much hair you have until you lose it all at once. Within days my balls made me look thirty years younger.

The first day I considered doing Joe Biden for halloween. By day three I couldn't pull off anything other than McCain. And we all know that was out of the question because Tina Fey was booked. Even Carson needed a sidekick.

Shortly after Christmas I was told my first round of chemo was not successful. Fuck. Within days I started a new combination of chemo drugs and that's when I lost the last of my hair, my eyebrows. Shaving your head can be a fashion statement. Not having eyebrows makes you look like you're visiting from the future.

Recently I got "the news"
My PET scan and CAT scan showed that I was cancer free. I cried my ass off. There were some people I thought I should tell in person instead of an email or a phone call. So last week I took a variety of busses, subways and trains from my home in Chester County, PA to New York.

I was on my way to the cultural center of our civilization. What were my plans? Something spectacular at The Met? A Broadway show? The Empire State Building?

No, I jumped right on the F train and went to Coney Island. I rode the Wonder Wheel and Spook-a-rama. I did three circuits on The Cyclone. Then I came back in town for Andrew's Bingo night.

It's the seemingly inconsequential litttle things that you miss when you don't have them.

Things you think about during three day chemo treatments and you wonder how much life is left.

They were all spectacular.

And I got to do them with eyebrows.

(do YOU have a Jumping for Joy story? Is there something that makes you say "wow, that just kicks ASS?".. then send it to me through this blog at andrewalt at aol dot com)