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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, March 9

Jim Burroway

March 9th, 2014

Events This Weekend: Winter Pride, East London, UK; Lake Tahoe Winterfest, Lake Tahoe, NV; SWING Gay Ski Week, Lenzerheide, Switzerland; Winter Party, Miami, FL; Out In the Desert LGBT Film Festival, Tucson, AZ.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Los Angeles Advocate, October, 1968, page 22

Just about every gay bar in L.A. was subject to some kind of police harassment or another. The Los Angeles Advocate reported, in the same issue in which this ad appeared, on a visit paid to the Tonky Honker on September 17, just a few days after the new owners took over. Police shut down the bar’s pool table because they didn’t have a license for it, despite the owners having gotten the OK from the police commission. One of the bar’s customers went into the men’s room, followed by one of the officers posing as a customer. The customer immediately came back out and sat at the bar. The officers left, but not before trying to “pick up” the customer. A few minutes, the officers returned and arrested the customer for “lewd conduct,” claiming that the customer “groped” the one in the men’s room. “Why the police officer didn’t arrest the man when he committed the alleged act isn’t clear,” the Advocate wrote. “This may come out in the trial.” I don’t have any further information on the outcome. The Advocate, in the same issue, also included a two-page article, “If You’re Arrested: Some Do’s & Dont’s,” along with another small piece, “If You Witness A Raid.”

40 YEARS AGO: LA Police Beat Howard Efland to Death During Hotel Raid: 1969. The Dover Hotel was a five-story brick building in downtown Los Angeles where men checked in, removed their clothing, and laid on their beds with the doors open waiting for others to walk by. It was, not surprisingly, the scene of a number of raids by LAPD’s vice squad. During the latest raid, Howard Efland, a male nurse and one of the hotel’s customers, was beaten and kicked outside the hotel, in front of witnesses, by LA vice officers Lemuel Chauncey and Richard Halligan as they arrested them. “Help me! My God, someone help me!” witnesses heard him scream, as the two officers beat the unarmed, unresisting Efland to death. Efland died of massive internal injuries after the officers kicked him, did knee drops on his stomach, and stomped on him.  At first, the LAPD told Efland’s parents that their son had simply died of a heart attack. That lie was betrayed, of course, by the condition of Efland’s body. The coroner then ruled Efland’s death an “excusable homicide,” claiming that he had resisted his arrest. No one was ever held accountable for his murder.

Will Geer: 1902-1978. He was Grampa Walton on screen, and a social activist off. He had been a member of the Communist Party in 1934, where he met Harry Hay (see Apr 7) who would go on to co-found the Mattachine Foundation (which later became the Mattachine Society) in 1950. Geer and Hay briefly became lovers while working on union organizing in Los Angeles and San Francisco. But they soon parted ways when Geer married his wife, actress and fellow political activist Herta Ware. Geer went on to work with folk singers Burle Ives and Woodie Guthrie in advocating for migrant farm workers and organized labor. He also found time to do some acting, mostly on the stage, often Shakespeare. Between 1948 and 1951, he was also in more than a dozen movies, but he was soon blacklisted for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

With the blacklist in force, Geer fell back on his training as a botanist (he had a master’s degree from the University of Chicago) and founded the Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon near Santa Monica, California, with his wife. They would divorce in 1954, but they remained very close friends thereafter. Together, they turned Theatricum Botanicum into an artists colony, with an outdoor summer theater and Woody Guthrie living in a small shack.

By the late 1950s, Geer was back on Broadway, and in 1964 he was nominated for a Tony for his role in the musical 110 in the Shade. His career in film resumed in 1963 with a minor part in Advise and Consent, and in 1967 he played the prosecutor in the film adaptation of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. When he died after completing the sixth season of The Waltons in 1978, his remains were cremated and his ashes buried at his beloved Theatricum Botanicum, which continues to host performances and youth acting workshops.

Samuel Barber: 1910-1981. He was apparently a very precocious child. In a very anxious letter at the tender age of nine, he came out to his mother — as a composer:

Dear Mother: I have written this to tell you my worrying secret. Now don’t cry when you read it because it is neither yours nor my fault. I suppose I will have to tell it now without any nonsense. To begin with I was not meant to be an athlet [sic]. I was meant to be a composer, and will be I’m sure. I’ll ask you one more thing .—Don’t ask me to try to forget this unpleasant thing and go play football.—Please—Sometimes I’ve been worrying about this so much that it makes me mad (not very).

He wrote his first musical at seven, tried his first opera at 10, became an organist at 12, and began studying piano, voice and composition at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia at 14. That’s where he met his lover, partner and musical collaborator Gian Carlo “Johnny” Menotti, and they would remain together for the next forty years. By Barber’s twenties, his compositions were commissioned or debuted by Vladimir Horowitz, Leontyne Price, Arturo Toscanini, among others. He won the Pulitzer Prize for music for his 1957 opera Vanessa, and for his 1962 Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. But his 1966 opera Antony and Cleopatra was a dud, and he spent his remaining years in isolation and depression, while Menotti, a successful composer in his own right, indulged in dalliances with a string of much younger men. Barber died in 1981, Menotti in 2007, and it is Barber’s work that is better remembered.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?



March 9th, 2014 | LINK

“it is Barber’s work that is better remembered” — by some.

I saw the west coast premiere of his Saint of Bleeker Street at USC during the 1955-56 school year and have the original vinyls.

March 10th, 2014 | LINK

Anyone else’s blood boiling after reading the part about Howard Efland?

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