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What are you reading/cooking/watching/listening to today, Wednesday, October 26th?
We lost a great one: a few days ago, wondrous Leslie Jordan left us after experiencing a medical emergency while driving in Los Angeles. When the news first came through, I actually couldn’t believe it. Just one day earlier, Jordan had eerily posted on Instagram a clip where he was singing the great old gospel hymn When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.
I remember watching Jordan playing the frenemy character of Beverely Leslie on Will & Grace back in the very late 90s or the very early 2000s. He played camp for all it was worth, all the time; he was completely over-the-top hilarious, a physical comedian as well as a cerebral one, so lightning fast was he. I remember hearing him describe himself as Everyone’s favorite queer, and while that may have been true to some extent, to reduce Jordan to his orientation feels wrong. As a queer person, I looked into his Instagram eyes, and I saw so much more; like many of us queer people of a certain age, we saw ourselves in him, able to reduce the gobsmacking pain of being an outsider to self-deprecating humor —- if we make fun of ourselves first, we set the standard as opposed to someone else having at us —- and, surprise, religious tradition. Sober for twenty years, Leslie was a devoted gospel music fan and regularly honored the sounds that came out of the Baptist churches that would not have him and in doing so, reclaimed his place in them. Jordan’s life—all the joy and all the sorrow—was etched into his beautiful face. - EA.
1- I am deep into reading the great Silas House’s new novel, Lark Ascending. This stunning, heartbreaking, beautiful story marries the devastation of extremism and climate disaster to the possibility of hope and survival as told through the life of one survivor of a reverse Atlantic crossing —- from a ravaged America to Ireland —- set sometime in the future. There are few novels that have gripped me so tightly, and not let go.
2- A few years ago, I had the honor of having Andrea Gentl in one of my Fine Arts Writing Center memoir workshops in Provincetown, and she revealed herself to be an extraordinary writer as well as brilliant photographer and one half of the masters of light team, Gentl + Hyers. A devout forager, Andrea has just published her first book, Cooking With Mushrooms, and the recipes that have come out of it are phenomenal. We are loving this Mushroom Parmesan recipe in my house.
3- There has been a lot of talk about the new Netflix series, From Scratch. I will freely admit in this space that I am total sucker for stories revolving around love and food; throw Italy into the mix, and I’m sunk. This is a gorgeous series, albeit somewhat predictable (boy meets girl, boy loves girl, boy moves for girl, etc etc). But we all need some kindness, nurturing, and love right now, and From Scratch will provide it. Make sure you have tissues handy.
That’s all until next week!