Posts Tagged ‘The Days of Anna Madrigal’

Armistead Maupin, Thank You For Motivating Me

Armistead

Although Armistead Maupin has been writing his “Tales of the City” stories for forty years, I just discovered them twenty years ago this spring when PBS aired the first “Tales of the City” miniseries.

It’s very strange to see Michael in his 60s and Anna in her 90s.  But, then again, I’m no longer watching the last months of my 20s escape me!  Before I know it, 50 will be here.

But, if my 50s and my golden years are half as much fun and exciting as the lives of the “Tales” gang and Armistead Maupin’s life, it’ll be “fantabulous”.

Armistead, thank you for giving this small-town Kentucky boy the motivation and the courage to move to Chicago just four months shy of my 30th birthday, just as you allowed Mary Ann Singleton to leave Cleveland, Ohio,  for San Francisco.

Tales-5

And, just like Mary Ann becoming an on-air personality, I fulfilled my dream of becoming a television newscaster and meteorologist!

further+tales+of+the+city+sandra+oh+laura+linney

Anthony CBS4

Thank you for the memories of 28 Barbary Lane and beyond.

For the past few weeks in my “Random Friday Thoughts”, I’ve been sharing details of the “Tales of the City” books once I read them to introduce them to a wider audience.  Today, since I’m finished with the series, I want to share them in one blog entry.

ARMISTEAD MAUPIN’S “TALES OF THE CITY”

Although I read “Tales of the City” twenty years ago, I’m re-reading it again, along with the following eight books in Armistead Maupin’s series.

Tales of the City Book

Maupin started the series in the “San Francisco Chronicle” in 1976, after moving to the city in 1971 for a job at the Associated Press.

Armistead

“Tales of the City” is about a group of young people living at 28 Barbary Lane, a complex of apartments owned by Anna Madrigal, an older, eccentric landlady, who loves her marijuana and is harboring her own secrets.

The series focuses on the funky culture and “alternative lifestyles” of San Francisco, starting out in the 1970s.  The tenants are straight (Mary Ann and Brian), gay (Michael), bisexual (Mona), and asexual (Mrs. Madrigal).

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the miniseries that debuted on PBS in the United States giving them their highest ratings ever (at the time) for a dramatic series.  It stars Olympia Dukakis as Mrs. Madrigal and introduces us to future star Laura Linney.

Tales Miniseries

It’s still one of my favorite miniseries of all time.  I watched it for the first time as, in early 1994, as I was getting ready to make my big move to Chicago from small town Kentucky, just like Mary Ann Singleton did in the series from Cleveland to San Francisco!  And, I was just as naive as Mary Ann, too, twenty years ago!

If you lived through or if you love the groovy 1970s, you’ll love this series.

The final book in the series, “The Days of Anna Madrigal” was just released.

“MORE TALES OF THE CITY”

I just finished my fourth book this year, which matches what I read in all of last year!

More Tales of The City

“More Tales of the City” is the 1980 follow-up to Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City”.  “More Tales” is the second in the nine-book series.  I reviewed the first book last week and talked about it and the PBS television miniseries based on it that debuted in the U.S. twenty years ago this month.

In this book, we still follow all of the comings and goings of Anna Madrigal and her “children” at 28 Barbary Lane on Russian Hill in San Francisco.  It’s still the 1970s.

Mary Ann and Michael go on a cruise and both meet the men of their dreams, but Mary Ann’s is a man of mystery.  He just can’t remember it.  Mona escapes to a Nevada brothel (even though the book uses the w-house word) and learns a big secret.  Also, a major character dies, one has a health issue, and another is almost attacked!

After reading the first book, I started watching the first miniseries again.  Now that I’m two books in, I’ll continue on to the second installment miniseries that aired on Showtime in 1998.  Here’s that trailer and it does contain adult language and images.  (The first miniseries’ trailer is in last week’s random blog.)

Now, it’s on to book three in the series.

“FURTHER TALES OF THE CITY”

If you’ve been reading my blog over the past two years, you know that I often talk about music, movies, and television.  Lately, I’ve been including books, too.  My friend, Kelly Hager, would be so proud of me.

Over the past week, I just finished my fifth book of 2014!  That obviously means I’ve been spending a lot of time on the treadmill and it’s working.  I’m down 8.2 pounds since the start of the year!  Only 12 more pounds to go before this summer.

I just finished “Further Tales of the City”, the third book in Armistead Maupin’s nine-book “Tales of the City” series.

Further Tales

If you recall from my last two “Random Friday Thoughts” blogs, the series is about a “family” of friends at 28 Barbary Lane in San Fransisco in the 1970s.

In this book, it’s now 1981, President Reagan is just beginning his years in office and the Jim Jones’ Jonestown Masscare plays an integral role in the mystery and intrigue.

One character moves away from Barbary Lane, two residents begin a relationship with each other after years of avoiding it, and one couple re-unites only to break up again.

Someone strives to become a television reporter and another ends up dead and you’ll never guess who killed the character and what happened to the body!

Sadly, this was the last of the books to be made into a miniseries.  It aired on Showtime in 1998.  Here’s the trailer and it contains some adult situations and language!

Many moons ago, I read the first three books in the series that I just re-read.  Now, it’s on to book four and I have no idea what happens, so this is exciting!

“BABYCAKES” & “SIGNIFICANT OTHERS”

If you read my “Random Friday Thoughts” each week, you know that I’ve been spending a lot of time on the treadmill walking and reading.  I’ve lost 8.8 pounds since the beginning of the year, but it’s getting harder now.

I’m also reading Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series.  I just finished the fourth and fifth books in the nine-book series.

“Babycakes”, the fourth book, takes place around 1983, seven years after the first book.

babycakes

The AIDS pandemic claims the life of a recurring character and a main character is dealing with the loss of his best friend and lover.  He takes a trip to England and runs into a major character that was absent in the third book.

One character becomes a television reporter after breaking the story of the survivors of the Jonestown Massacre.  Another story line involved a favorite couple trying to have a baby with sterility and infidelity playing a major role.  As the book ended, one life started and another ended.

This was my least favorite of the four books, so far, and part of it might have been the fact that it was new to me since it wasn’t made into a miniseries like the first three books.

SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

The series found its mojo with the fifth book, “Significant Others”.

Two different retreats, one for a women’s festival (lesbians) and one for older men (rich Republicans), take place on Russian River north of San Francisco in 1985.  We meet three new characters that play a big role in some of the lives of the original “Tales of the City” group.

One character faces the unknown when he takes the HIV test and what he’ll tell his wife and another is still dealing with the loss of his friend/lover from AIDS in the third fourth.  He meets a new friend that could be something long-term, but they live on opposite coasts!

I can’t wait to see what happens in the sixth book!

“SURE OF YOU”

I finished reading my eighth book of 2014 this week, “Sure of You”, which is the sixth book in Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series.

Sure of You

While you may not have read them, you’ve likely been following along with me about the book series in my blog.

It’s now 1988, twelve years after the first book and three years after the last book, “Significant Others”.   While the book had some fun parts, this was my least favorite of the series, so far, because there wasn’t much happiness to be found.

Like real life, friends drift apart over the years and that takes place here with some of Barbary Lane’s favorite tenants.

One chance meeting in the last book leads to love in this book and that is a happy point.  However, one person becomes very successful and leaves San Fransisco and their family for fame in the “Big Apple”.

“MICHAEL TOLLIVER LIVES”

I’m almost done with Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” nine-book series.  Over the past week, I read books seven and eight, “Michael Tolliver Lives” and “Mary Ann in Autumn”, respectively.

If you’re familiar with the series, Michael Tolliver (“Mouse”) is one of the original tenants of Mrs. Madrigal’s 28 Barbary Lane.

Michael Tolliver Lives

It’s now 2005, almost thirty years since the first book.  Michael is no longer a youngster from Orlando, Florida, living in San Francisco’s Castro.  He’s now married to a younger man about 20 years his junior.  It’s a very happy union.

The bleakness from the sixth book in the series, “Sure of You”, is gone, even when we learn of an original “Tales” character’s death to cancer and the death of a loved one closer to Michael.

Also, the book is told in first person from Michael, which is a departure from the third person story telling of the previous six books.

“Michael Tolliver Lives” is one of my favorite books of the “Tales” series.

At the end of “Michael Tolliver Lives”, Mary Ann Singleton, now a married woman on the East Coast, returned briefly to visit an elderly friend that may not recover from a stroke.

Mary Ann

In “Mary Ann in Autumn”, it’s a couple of years later and Mary Ann and “Mouse” are back together again in San Francisco almost thirty years after they first met in 1970s.

A couple of secrets brings Mary Ann back to cry on Michael’s shoulder.  All of the years and the tears of twenty years apart are forgotten when they examine their friendship and what they’ve been missing.  It brought me so much joy to see them together poking fun at each other and pushing each other’s buttons as they head toward their golden years — both are in their late fifties and early sixties now!

And, boy, does Maupin have a few shockers up his sleeve that go all the way back to the original “Tales” book.

As much as I loved “Michael Tolliver Lives”, “Mary Ann In Autumn” is my new favorite after the first book.

“THE DAYS OF ANNA MADRIGAL”

I just finished the ninth and final book in Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series.  If you haven’t been following my blog over the past few weeks when I talked about each book that I read, take notice.

The books follow the lives of a group living at 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco in 1976 through current day.  The apartment complex is headed up by self-proclaimed matriarch Anna Madrigal and the final book is dedicated to Anna, who’s now 92-years-old.

The Days of Anna Madrigal

Needless to say when I started the book, I was bracing myself for the worse thinking this might be Mrs. Madrigal’s swan song.

I loved the flash backs in the book about Anna’s childhood at the Blue Moon Lodge, the Nevada whorehouse where she was raised by her mother, the madam, “Mother Mucca”.

While the book moves forward from Mrs. Madrigal’s childhood to the teenaged years and escaping Nevada, it was a pleasant ride.  It was also amazing to see her get to take one more trip back home to Winnamucca, even though most of what she remembered was already gone.

The book also updates us the lives of Michael Tolliver (“Mouse”), Mary Ann, and Brian, from the original “Tales” book.

THANK YOU

Armistead, thank you again for the stories and the memories.

Anthony

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Random Friday Thoughts — March 7, 2014

Happy Friday to you.  It’s March now and I’m ready for spring’s longer, warmer days and “March Madness”.

I hope you have a great weekend.  I plan on getting a few outdoor walks in and to watch several movies.  Here are my random thoughts for this week.

WAS ELLEN TRANS-PHOBIC?

Comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres is getting rave reviews for hosting this year’s Oscars last Sunday night.  Her selfie with A-list stars crashed Twitter and became the most retweeted tweet in history and she made it a profitable night for a pizza delivery man.

Ellen

However, a joke she made to Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award winner Liza Minnelli is not setting well with some in the transgender community.

In her monologue looking at Liza, Ellen said, “the best Liza Minnelli impersonator I’ve ever seen.  Good job, sir!”

This is Liza’s reaction.  Her sister, Lorna Luft, definitely thought it was funny!

Liza Reaction

As a gay man knowing how many drag queens imitate and look at Liza as a gay icon, I thought it was hilarious and I don’t think Ellen meant it mean-spirited.

After the show, Liza told tmz.com, “I think she thought it would be funny, but she never stopped after she said it and said, ‘My friend Liza Minnelli’.  So I think it went a little astray on her.”

But, without hesitation, Liza added, “I don’t think she meant any harm at all. She’s a wonderful lady and I think she did great.”

However, some are not as forgiving.

Bruce LaBruce

Most of America are still not all that familiar with the transgender community.  I admit that, as a gay man, I’m still learning, too.  However, there is a difference between transphobia, negative feelings and attitudes and feelings towards transsexuals and transgender people, and making a joke about a drag queen or a transvestite.

Ellen needs to contact Liza, if she hasn’t done so already, and say, “I apologize that my joke was not funny to you.  You looked fantastic Sunday night.”  And, we all need to step back and breathe and maybe learn a little more about our transgendered brothers and sisters.

OSCARS

I think host Ellen did a fantastic job hosting the Oscars telecast that was watched by 43 million people, up 6% in viewers from last year.

As for my Oscar picks, if I had played it safely, I would have correctly chosen 21-of-24.

However, I took a chance to stand out from the crowd and went against “Gravity” in the “Sound Mixing” and “Score” category.  Thus, I missed those two and got 19-of-24 right.  That’s much better than last year.

I correctly picked the top eight big categories.

Benedict U2

That is my favorite picture from the Oscars — “Sherlock” actor Benedict Cumberbatch photobombing Oscar-nominated rock band, U2.

And, the presenter that’s gotten the most post-Oscars buzz, unintentionally, was John Travolta.

Travolta Oscars

While introducing Broadway (“Wicked”), movie “(“Frozen”), and television (“Glee”) star Idina Menzel to perform the Oscar-nominated (SPOILER ALERT) and winning song, “Let It Go”, Travolta massacred Idina’s name.

John and Idina

In his enthusiastic introduction, Travolta says, “please welcome the wickedly talented, one and only Adele Dazeem”!

On Tuesday, Travolta released this statement, “I’ve been beating myself up all day. Then I thought … what would Idina Menzel say, She’d say, Let it go, let it go! Idina is incredibly talented and I am so happy Frozen took home two Oscars Sunday night!”

Needless to say, parody Twitter and Wikipedia pages popped up for the new star, Adele Dazeem!

Adele Dazeem

Okay, John I’m letting it go!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

JustinMichael Myers Winter

Let Us In

IS WINTER OVER?

March is definitely off to a cold start, but it’s starting to warm up.  After just the first three days of the month, Quad City temperatures were running more than 25.5° below average.

With two snows in the past week, we’re now up to 62.2″ of snow this winter in the Quad Cities, making this the third snowiest winter on record.

Snowy Winter

And, another inch of snow is expected tonight and early Saturday!

TOO EARLY FOR GARDENING, BUT…

While the ground is frozen and covered with inches of snow, I’m going to be optimistic and start gardening inside.

Late last summer, I bought three packages of seeds on ebay from Arkansas and I’m ready to start them with my “Seed Starter” kit Santa brought me for Christmas.

Seed Starter

Ironically, I hope the seeds I bought are what they say they are and nothing illegal!

I ordered Jerusalem Cherry, Pink Pampas Grass, and Ice White Cherry Tomato.

SPEAKING OF TOMATOES

“Better Homes and Gardens” is thinking of spring, too.  In the new March issue, it states that 86% of American gardeners raise tomatoes.

The magazine’s experts predict that “a hybrid like Black Pearl or Tye Dye” will be the “season’s hot tomatoes”.

ABBAtomatoes

While I love tomatoes, I always had them in the garden for Miss ABBA.

Now that she’s no longer with us, I still grow them and in the past two summers, I’ve perfected a fresh homemade salsa!

PICK HIT

Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin are household names in the United States.

J. Lo has charted 17 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with ten of them reaching the Top Ten and four topping of the chart.  Meanwhile, Ricky has had five hits on the Hot 100 with “Livin La Vida Loca” topping that chart in 1999.

Before this week, Ricky racked up 37 hits on the Billboard Latin chart.  Of those, 21 made the Top Ten and, incredibly, 11 of them reached #1.

Ricky and J. Lo are on their way to getting their latest #1 Latin hit with the help with Wisin, one half of the Puerto Rican raggaeton duo, Wisin & Yandel.

Wisin JLo Ricky Martin

“Adrenalina” debuted this week all the way up at #12 on the Billboard Latin chart and the video is incredibly hot!!!!!!!!!

It’s the first single from Wisin’s second solo album, “El Regreso del Sobreviviente” that comes out March 18, 2014, the same day as Kylie Minogue’s “Kiss Me Once” album.

Kiss Me Once

There is no correlation between Wisin and Kylie’s albums.  It’s just a shameless plug for Kylie.  I can do that, you know. 🙂

“SIX FEET UNDER”

While the HBO series ended its five-year run in 2005, we just got around to watching  and finishing it.

six feet under

What an incredible show!  While I wasn’t exactly prepared for its slow pace and it did get frustrating at times, the acting and the over-the-top story lines were amazing.  And, the last few minutes of the series finale were too cool.

By regularly reading my blog, you know I love Michael C. Hall.

He played David Fisher, one of the owners of the funeral home on the show.

Michael C Hall as David Fisher and Dexter

It was exciting to see him as a young, uptight gay man who would go on to become our favorite serial killer on Showtime’s “Dexter” for eight seasons.

Watching “Six Feet Under”, I realize that I lead a rather docile life compared to the crazy Fisher and Chenowith clans!

Six Feet Under starring Rachel Griffiths, Peter Krause, Michael C.Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Freddy Rodriguez, Mathew St. Patrick, Justina Machado, Jeremy Sisto and James Cromwell

“THE DAYS OF ANNA MADRIGAL”

I just finished the ninth and final book in Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series.  If you haven’t been following my blog over the past few weeks when I talked about each book that I read, take notice.

The books follow the lives of a group living at 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco in 1976 through current day.  The apartment complex is headed up by self-proclaimed matriarch Anna Madrigal and the final book is dedicated to Anna, who’s now 92-years-old.

The Days of Anna Madrigal

Needless to say when I started the book, I was bracing myself for the worse thinking this might be Mrs. Madrigal’s swan song.

I loved the flash backs in the book about Anna’s childhood at the Blue Moon Lodge, the Nevada whorehouse where she was raised by her mother, the madam, “Mother Mucca”.

While the book moves forward from Mrs. Madrigal’s childhood to the teenaged years and escaping Nevada, it was a pleasant ride.  It was also amazing to see her get to take one more trip back home to Winnamucca, even though most of what she remembered was already gone.

The book also updates us the lives of Michael Tolliver (“Mouse”), Mary Ann, and Brian, from the original “Tales” book.

Armistead

Although Maupin has been writing these stories for forty years, I just discovered them twenty years ago this spring when PBS aired the first “Tales of The City” miniseries.

It’s very strange to see Michael in his 60s and Anna in her 90s.  But, then again, I’m no longer watching the last months of my 20s escape me!  Before I know it, 50 will be here.

But, if my 50s and my golden years are half as much fun and exciting as the lives of the “Tales” gang and Armistead Maupin’s life, it’ll be “fantabulous”.

Armistead, thank you for giving this small-town Kentucky boy the motivation and the courage to move to Chicago just four months shy of my 30th birthday, just as you allowed Mary Ann Singleton to leave Cleveland, Ohio,  for San Francisco.

Tales-5

And, just like Mary Ann, I fulfilled my dream of becoming a television newscaster and meteorologist!

further+tales+of+the+city+sandra+oh+laura+linney

Thank you for the memories of 28 Barbary Lane and beyond.

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Grammy Award winning country singer Lynn Anderson was raised in California, but she was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Born to country music songwriter parents, Lynn earned early notoriety in horse show arenas winning 700 trophies, including the title of “California Horse Show Queen” in 1966.

That same year she was signed to a recording music contract.  Her first hit reached #36 and was followed by “If I Kiss You (Would You Go Away)”, her first Top Ten hit in 1967, peaking at #5.

Lynn Anderson

From that first hit in 1966 to her last hit in 1988, Lynn Anderson scored 47 Top 40 Billboard Country Hits.  Of those, 18 reached the Top Ten, and five topped the chart, including her fall 1970 release, “Rose Garden”.

That song topped the Country charts for five weeks, reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was a chart topper in Australia, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland.

She was also named Billboard Magazine’s “Female Artist of the Decade” in the 1970s.

Her last studio recording was 2010’s “Cowgirl II”.

Lynn is still touring and entertaining her fans and she recently attended a party in Nashville for radio personality Bob Kingsley with some of country music’s other legends, including my idol, Reba.

Lynn and Reba

“I BEG YOUR PARDON”, HERE’S MORE “ROSE GARDEN”

While Lynn Anderson scored almost 50 country hits in the U.S., “Rose Garden” was her only crossover to the Billboard Hot 100, where the song reached #3 in 1971.

However, in 1988, the Canadian synthpop/techno band, Kon Kan, sampled the song and “I Beg Your Pardon”, featuring Lynn’s “Rose Garden” made it up to #15 on the Billboard Hot 100.  It also made it to the top five in the Netherlands and the U.K.

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

I appreciate you taking the time to check out my Random Friday Thoughts.  Have a great weekend and we’ll do it again next Friday.

Anthony