Issue 327

Talking Out of School: An Interview with Al Oertwig

In April, DFLer Al Oertwig left the St. Paul Board of Education after nearly 20 years of service. First elected to the Board in 1983, he advocated adequate school funding, along with regional and national coalition-building. Oertwig came out as gay publicly in 1990. He lost his 1991 re-election bid, but made a triumphant return in 1995. To date, he is the only openly GLBT elected official ever in St. Paul’s history.

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The Life of Reilly – One Glorious Gay Success Story!

The Life of Reilly is not only one of the most marvelous success stories of a gay man set to film, it belongs in the Hall of Fame of ‘Great Films About The Theater’. Alongside All About Eve, The Dresser, and All That Jazz. Measuring right up there, The Life of Reilly is a bloomin’ masterpiece.

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Jody Herold Wins Summer Dreams Photo Contest

Everyone at Whelihan Fine Art was very impressed with the quality of entries for the Summer Dreams Photo Submissions Contest.

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Avenue Q: Out of the Closet onto Hennepin Stages

With the musical Wicked, a takeoff on The Wizard of Oz, we knew we were not in Kansas anymore. But with Avenue Q, the musical that upset Wicked for the 2004 Best Musical Tony, we’re certainly not on Sesame Street, either.

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A Word in Edgewise

The temptation to round once more on the Senator from Idaho is nigh onto irresistible. Now, a cadre of eight more individuals voluntarily have added themselves to Larry Craig’s lengthening list. One of them is Reverend Ted Haggard’s nemesis, Mike Jones, who pops in and out of A-list boudoirs faster than a cuckold in a Feydeau farce.

But I’m reluctant to expend yet another 475 words on Craig’s labyrinth of lies (as Vice President Spiro Agnew might have alliterized it)—too much like shooting fish in a barrel. I’ll wait for the movie.

Another ongoing drama is the plight of the Philadelphia Boy Scout chapter that faces paying out of pocket for the privilege of discriminating against its employees and openly gay youth. The Cradle of Liberty Council has a deadline either to change its criteria for hiring of personnel and for being a Boy Scout, or to start paying rent on the city-owned real estate it has been using rent-free since 1928.

Ironically, Robert Knight of the Media Research Center noted that the Beaux Arts building, the real estate in question, originally was built by the Scouts, then given to the City. The Scouts were granted a lease “in perpetuity,” but it was mooted by the local 1982 “fair practice” law prohibiting employers from using “sexual orientation” as a consideration for employment.

It is an interesting dilemma, because spokesman Jeff Jubelirer claimed the Cradle of Liberty Council (the country’s third-largest chapter) runs programs that aid some 40,000 local children. He further noted that the Council has tried so salvage the situation by attempting to renounce the national policy, and adopted a nondiscrimination policy reading: “Prejudice, intolerance and unlawful discrimination in any form are unacceptable within the ranks of the Cradle of Liberty Council.”

The Council itself then was caught in a bind, Jubelirer explained, because “National would not allow us to keep that language,” and if it is offended, the Council will lose its charter. “We can’t afford not to be part of the national Boy Scouts,” he admitted.

Thus, the local proposed policy of greater tolerance, it would seem, is not acceptable to the higher-ups. A civilian system of “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t even suggest” remains in place, and any of Cradle of Liberty’s attempts, no matter how meager, or if performed only under threat of eviction, are in vain.

The losers? Everyone: The Philadelphia Council; the 40,000 inner-city kids; any openly gay boys and adult personnel; the nation. For like it or not, statistically 5 to 7 percent of Scouts will be gay.

Must these boys continue to dissemble? Are they condemned to shoulder the traditional mantle of self-hatred and homophobia? Will they, in a word, become tomorrow’s Haggards and Craigs?

Gay Demographic Explosion?

The Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law is one of our community’s most important think tanks, producing high-quality studies on sexual orientation and public policy.

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Brushing’s a Cat’s Meow

Ah, another Monday morning. Rise and shine. Make some coffee. Go to work. Oops, forgot to brush the cat’s teeth!

Here, many of you are probably thinking, “Brush the cat’s teeth? What the heck does that mean?” (Those of you under 20, however, are most likely thinking, “Go to work? What the heck does that mean?”)

Anyway, while there are many ways to skin a cat, there is only one proper way to brush a cat’s teeth, according to Tartar Control for Cats, a pamphlet I am now reading.

It comes to us via St. JON Laboratories of Harbor City, which makes several flavors of cat toothpaste. (In answer to the obvious question, dozens of taste tests showed that cats preferred Blind and Deaf Sparrow almost 2-1, although researchers have high hopes for their latest creation, Badly Limping Field Mouse.)

The pamphlet was written by Dr. Java Levin, a veterinarian, and Dr. Peter Emily, a “veterinary dental specialist.” And I sincerely hope this column does not anger Dr. Emily—I just don’t think you want a guy who’s willing to do a root canal on a Rottweiler to be angry with you.

Now, to the pamphlet:

Brushing your cat’s teeth may seem confusing for both of you at first, but confusion is often a part of the learning process.

This is no different then teaching a cat how to use the litter box: Your friends are still going to point and laugh at you, and your mate is still going to shout, “For God’s sake, at least close the door!”

What do your cat’s teeth look like?

This is followed by the next obvious question: So, how much blood is contained in the average human thumb?

When your cat’s upper lip is lifted, you will see two rows of very small teeth across the front of the mouth.

Further, when you yank your cat’s upper lip to look at its teeth, you will also see five very sharp claws, a split second before they scratch out your corneas.
The pamphlet then lists some tips:

Start with a healthy mouth. Having a sensitive, sore mouth brushed can be a painful experience. Your cat may not appreciate your efforts on his or her behalf at this point.

On the other hand, many cats do not seem to mind this type of dental attention, and give no indication that having their teeth brushed is uncomfortable. Feline experts refer to these particular cats as “dead ones.”

Choose the proper toothbrush and toothpaste. Pushing a typical human toothbrush into a cat’s cheek area can cause discomfort by stretching the skin around the cat’s mouth and pressing the bristles into the gums.

Much greater discomfort occurs when your “significant other” finds out it was his toothbrush.

Use cat toothpastes. One reason they are recommended for cats is that they can be swallowed. This is very important, since your cat cannot “rinse and spit.”

It is also important to note that most cats cannot accomplish an even more basic part of the human dental experience: “filling out the endless insurance forms.”

Repeat and reward. When you consistently repeat a routine, your cat learns to anticipate your actions.

Typical example: You take out a can of cat food precisely at 5 PM. You start the electric can opener. Your cat, tuned into this routine from thousands of repetitions, immediately goes into the living room and urinates on the white carpet.

If your have more than one cat, establish a “brushing order,” and follow it. This avoids jealousy by letting everyone know that his or her turn will come.

My twin brother, using this theory with his children at brushing time, has had a very positive effect on them. The youngest, Harold, still goes up onto the roof, but he doesn’t hiss at the firefighters nearly as much when they try to get him down.

And a final tip from the pamphlet:

When you brush your cat’s back teeth, you often have to rely on sound to know when the brush is in contact with the teeth.

Experts say the sound will very likely resemble your own voice shouting something like, “Aaarrhhh! My eye!”

Meanwhile, the damn cat has teeth like a politician, and I’m a week-and-a-half from dentures.

But, hey, consider the source.

Bye for now.
Kiss, kiss.

The Love Tangle: A Dateland Mystery Part Three

For the first two installments of this Dateland Mystery, go to

I’m not certain why Lucy asked me out, because everything I did seemed to irritate her. The only reason I decided to go out with her was that I enjoyed irritating her.

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Ms. Behavior®

Dear Ms. Behavior:

My girlfriend, Molly, and I are breaking up, but still living together (in separate bedrooms) until our lease is up next month. We’ve tried to break up six previous times. She usually dumps me until she feels lonely, and wants me back.

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Wining Down Portugal’s Golden River

I can think of lots of reasons to visit Portugal—don’t get me started!—but somehow, they all end up involving wine. The premier hotels (wine!); engaging restaurants (wine!); low prices (more wine!); astounding natural beauty (vineyards); and hospitable, beyond-charming people (many of them vintners) combine to make a memorable journey following the Douro (“Golden”) River, as it exits Spain, and rushes to meet the sea at Porto—a city named, in fact, for its premier export, Port wine.

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