Tuesday, June 30, 2020


I didn't know him personally, but he's been a presence in my life since he was part of the ensemble of writer/performers on Sid Caesar's YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS on 1950s TV and on comedy records with Mel Brooks in the 1960s. He kept his sense and his sense of humor for his 98 years, who could ask for anything more. Condolences to his family, friends, and fans, especially his daughter, Annie, a friend to me in my L.A. years and a fine poet. Here's some lines from her poem "Weightless" that make a perfect epitaph, I think, for her father:

"Forget history
and all your past accomplishments.
Forget your failures.
The memory of the race will find you.
When you hear it you'll know
the whole thing is just a poem."

—Annie Reiner 

Monday, June 29, 2020


"Don't forget the "B" in LGBTQ+, even though all the way back in 1972 I didn't like the term because it implied two kinds of romantic and sexual relationships when my experience is there are as many kinds of romantic and sexual relationships as there are humans, and even as many kinds of romantic and sexual relationships with one person as there are days and nights in that relationship. Like a lot of young people now, I prefer the term Queer and always have. But even so, let's not forget or neglect those who are categorized under the "B" along with the LGTQ+" —Michael Lally

Sunday, June 28, 2020


In March 1972, I "came out" to myself and the world, and as an ally and activist with the Gay Liberation Front in DC (just in time for the first Gay Pride march) where members of the collective known as Skyline Faggots were at the forefront and were an inspiration to me. This is a photo of them at that time, in the back row: Will, Tim, and Ted, and in front another Tim and Michael. I was closer to some than others, and Michael Sun Bear Ferri I'm still in touch with, but they all (along with a few others including Jimmy Fourrat, Bobby Miller, and the late Ed Cox) helped change my life forever. These were some of the brave pioneers of Gay Pride.

Thursday, June 25, 2020


Me at 23, with my mother (who I adored), and my father in April 1966 (two months after I got out of four years in the military, and only weeks before she passed) in front of their house where I grew up. It's on a hill so I wasn't as tall in relation to my father as it looks. But look at her smile, and she was in much more pain than even we knew! I miss her everyday, and have made my peace with him and come to respect him in the forty-three years since he passed.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020


Been rewatching PEAKY BLINDERS and it's better than the first time. It always makes me think of my father, who was in his twenties in the 1920s. Here's a shot of him (in the white pants) and a pal from that decade.

Sunday, June 21, 2020


top: my father with his six children (a seventh died as an infant) c. 1944, me in my mother's arms
bottom: me and my three children, Flynn (arm around me), Caitlin (in front) Miles (bearded) and two grandchildren, Deak (behind their mom) and Donovan (between me and his father) c. 2018

Thursday, June 18, 2020

HOPE IT'S TRUE (remembering similar expressions back in 1966-73)


Saw the documentary MAE WEST: DIRTY BLONDE on PBS American Masters tonight. Well worth watching. I'd already read a lot about her pioneering stage and film careers, and knew a lot about her life but there are still a few new gems and lots of footage I hadn't seen before. She was one strong, independent woman in ways that were unique for her time, and even ours. Some people still don't get what an amazing force she was.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020


I took part in the first Gay Pride celebration in Washington DC in early May of 1972, and marched with the Gay and Lesbian contingent in anti-war marches in 1972 and '73. I remember being in a photo on the front page of The Washington Post for one of those events which garnered lots of attention at the Catholic women's college I was teaching at then. Eventually leading to my being fired, partly as a result of my being openly "gay"—though I was what others called "bi-sexual" but I always dismissed as implying there are two kinds of sexuality when my experience was there are as many kinds as there are humans.

Initially coming out as a gay man in my 29th year was a political act, to show solidarity with my gay cohorts who were at that time maligned and oppressed and jailed and called mentally ill for preferring  same gender partners. But in recent years I've been identifying more with the "bi-sexual" label, because as was true back then and unfortunately still is, people on both ends of the spectrum of sexual choice and identity are still too often at best suspicious of the possibility of anyone being truly attracted to both of the traditional dominant genders and at worst see "bi" as a cop out (as I was told in 1972 by a leading activist, it allows for the pleasure of same gender sex with the privilege of not being seen as strictly gay and therefore suffering the prejudice etc.).

When I arrived in L.A. in 1982 at forty, looking for an acting career in films and TV to support my life as a poet, my poetry collections Hollywood Magic and Attitude had just come out and contained many poems about my fluid sexuality and identity which I was told by some meant death to the predictions I was the next (fill in the blank for bad boy actor). Most of the gay and lesbian actors I met were in the closet and stayed there. I looked forward to being interviewed on The Tonight show and flaunting my varied sexual past. But those who had warned me to bury that past may have been right as the expectations of agents and managers et. al. were dashed, as they used to say.

But I have no regrets and am still here and still proud of my past and of the young people who are more accepting of all the possibilities.

Monday, June 15, 2020


"Among the many changes needed in policing in this country is that police forces become non-profit entities. All municipalities in the USA raise revenues through the fines paid by people the police ticket or arrest and from the auctioning off of possessions and property the police supposedly legally confiscate. Many rural communities rely entirely on that revenue, and most rely disproportionately on it. It would require higher taxes on the wealthy and well off, but they can take it and survive, unlike most victims of overpolicing." —Michael Lally

Sunday, June 14, 2020

my new favorite quote [a post from my daughter]

"On top of it all there is a sudden bizarre infestation of little flies, slow little flies. I've swatted loads and let loads out the door and window and yet they keep coming. I swear this Jumanji shit has got to stop!
Meanwhile, skipped church to have a leisurely morning. Feels weird to skip even if it's virtual. Next on the list is attacking the over loaded sink of dishes and hang laundry on the line. I'm holding the worlds' vigil, rally, protest, and gathering attendees in my heart. I'm thinking of all the mental health issues being triggered by this unrest and feeling the burden of it myself a bit.
So, Sunday, a day of rest, or in this houses case a day of getting done what didn't this week. Trying my best to meditate while doing dishes. Pray while hanging laundry. Seeing hope in the beautiful smile of a loved one whether in person or on this screen. Watching shows that restore faith in humanity or ones that call out the injustice so that I learn more. Recalling that there is a powerful change afoot and once again I'm living in history. I was born in historical days and raised in historical moments that clearly have made an impact on me. Because I can not look away and will not stop unlearning the societal version of these moments that were ignored or unknown for fear of rocking some boat that is now capsized. I will take care of myself today so I can reach out for you tomorrow when you need a hand to stay afloat in this sea of change. I'm here if you need me, call, text, connect for a listening ear, always. Peace." —Caitlin Lally Hotaling

Thursday, June 11, 2020


[I pulled this article out and read it after arguing with a young person who believes "all cops are bad (or bastards)" because they take part in an inherently racist/corrupt system/organization, I was defending my godson and other cops I know who I don't believe would ever deliberately harm a peaceful protestor or unarmed suspect, and saw I had once made a similar argument (as my young friend), and I did a few years after this article was published openly (with my byline) denounce my (and my Black Panther friends I got the term from) use of the word "pigs" and attacks on random police]

Caitlin Hotaling, Michael Harrs and 15 others


Wednesday, June 10, 2020


Honored to be in LIVE! magazine 17 (thanks Jeff Wright) with a bunch of great poets and writers:



In honor of Bonnie Pointer's passing I'm posting this song by her and her Pointer sisters (Anita is the lead vocal) recorded in 1974 (their gospel influence becomes clear from 3:40 on, the best part). I saw them perform this and other tunes live the year before in a DC venue and fell in love with everything about them. Like The Beatles, my favorite changed over the years, but I would have been their groupie at the time if they'd have let me.

Sunday, June 7, 2020


The old man with the umbrella behind his back is me keeping more than the recommended social distance at a vigil for Breonna Taylor organized by young people of color. It was poignant and inspiring as many people stepped to the mic to share their thoughts and experiences.

Breonna Taylor's death is emblematic of all that's wrong with policing. The law the cops were supposedly enforcing shouldn't exist: all drugs should be decriminalized (see Portugal). The cops came in the middle of the night, not in uniform, did not identify themselves. How is that in any way civil or even legal? And used lethal force, over a drug charge! Who, besides big pharma, benefits from making drugs more important than human lives? And when Breonna's boyfriend used his legal gun to defend her from what he thought were home invaders, the cops shooting as well, Breonna, the only one unarmed is the only one killed! Because as anyone who has been around real guns when people are shooting knows, bullets mostly don't hit what the shooter is aiming at (due to adrenaline, fear, excitement, confusion, and people moving). I was a marksman on the rifle range in the military despite despising guns of any kind, but doubt if I had ever seen combat that my marksman status would have helped. And when I've been shot at, luckily no one was hit. And as we all know the cops had the wrong apartment anyway and the guy they were after was already in jail! The kids who organized the vigil could have done better police work than that.

Breonna Taylor was a precious, accomplished, decent person killed in her own home terribly unfairly and absolutely unnecessarily, for what?

Saturday, June 6, 2020


Blk Man Made Blues in Jail;
"working...the chain-gang"
back when American
Plantation songs were being
Created enslaved blacks
We're greatly suffering.
Cotton was King.
Tobacco, indigo, sugar cane
Farms were places
Where owners (white)
Got rich. 'Slaves" got beat,
Tortured. Chained
Hog tied and put in check.
Those big guys especially
They would be broken
To put fear into the chattel
The (non-human) workers
Free labor that got abused
So much it looked "normal"
To whip "nigg*rs" let em know
"Whose the boss"
Since a small child
Just seeing
Someone's father, brother,
Sister, mother thrown down
"Restrained" by white officers
Looks like slavery days. Oh lordy.
Behind the jail bars
Behind the slave shacks
Soul music was born...
Working those "prison farms."
Making the slave holders rich.
Money. Money. Money.
"Where that jigga boo
Get that "stolen money"
He's a "typical one
With a long jail record."
He's No Good Guy.....
Where are the rich,
Mainstream, rich guys?
Why are they above the law?
They Fight too.
They abuse wives too.
They skip payments too.
They sometimes play cowboy
Bad boy. Hell's angels?
But don't be black ex con.
Your human rights are done.
Any "authority" can "check you"
If they color is mainstream...
The blues is jail house music.
The Ghetto is where
Tragedy often strikes...
Our country's sins
Can pile up. Shut down
The blues..I mean
The tough, drinking,
Cigarettes smoking,
Partying too
Just wanna do
His own man thing
And then he's
Down, on the
Filthy ground....
The gutter...
Where many want to
Put a whole bunch"threatening"
Group... they...you know who
The blues got shut down
The other day. .
Just regular thang...
Just doing the world
A good deed ..
Stopping "them"
Right where them
Lawbreaking darkies be
Get him. Say what?
Zigga. Shut up...
The blues is
You and He....

—Mello-Re Houston

Wednesday, June 3, 2020



Photojournalist Linda Tirado was shot in the eye by a rubber bullet from the police while covering an anti-police brutality protest in Minneapolis says something I need to hear as a white person and internalize and take action on. "Denouncing something is not the same as dismantling it. Saying you aren’t the problem kind of infers that you haven’t listened enough to understand that the problem is structural and not down to good and bad people."

Monday, June 1, 2020


This country was born in riots. Some of the first were white men disguising themselves as natives destroying property, and not just in Boston Harbor but up nd down the Eastern colonies. No one commemorates the tea merchants. Riots are as "American" as pumpkin pie.
—Michael Lally