Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Dan Kliman, R.I.P.

Those of us who knew Dan Kliman are devastated by the news of his death this past week, apparently from a fall down an elevator shaft in a building in San Francisco on Tuesday, November 25. His body was discovered by workers in that building on December 1.

Dan was, simply put, a pretty special guy, someone I am richer for having known.

I was one of the first people, if not the first, that Dan met when he first moved here several years ago. He communicated on the "frumgays" listserv that he was moving to the Bay Area and was interested in meeting with other gay Jews. Since Dan told us up front that he was a vegetarian, a bunch of friends and I from the "frumgays" listserv met him at Herbivore on Divisadero Street in SF. We were impressed by seeing him ride up on his collapsible bike, which we eventually came to realize was all but surgically attached to his body. We were also impressed by how outgoing, friendly and intelligent he was; the fact that he was so darn cute was an extra added plus. :)

I introduced Dan to some friends of mine in Oakland, and they ended up being very good friends. I feel good about having been the initial conduit for that friendship.

Dan and I even went on a date once. It was on a Sunday afternoon, November 16, 2003. I remember the date so well because it was the same day I learned that my mother had broken her hip. My mother subsequently died in surgery a few days after that. Who knows? Perhaps if I hadn't spent the week and a half after our first date tending to my family and then sitting Shiva, there might have been a second date. :)

Dan and I shared a lot of the same passion and excitement about being both Jewishly observant and 100% unapologetic about being openly gay, and that those two characteristics did not ever need to be mutually exclusive of each other but that rather, in fact, they complemented each other.

Dan was also the founder of the organization SF Voice for Israel and a fervent, intelligently well-spoken Israel supporter.

And he was so much more. Just Google his name and you will see how far and wide his circle reached, and just how much ground he covered in only 38 years.

Anyone who knew Dan is devastated by this news. Zichrono l'vracha - may his memory always be for a blessing.

Kenny Altman
San Francisco, CA
December 3, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Letter to the Editor, SF Chronicle 11/29/08

I am very proud of this letter that appeared in the SF Chronicle this weekend, and I’d be honored if you took a moment or two to read it. Here's the link, text below.

To put it in context, I am commenting on an article about people who supported Prop. 8 who are now carping and whining that people are threatening to boycott their businesses and, allegedly, their livelihoods. My heart does NOT bleed for them in the least bit.

Rightful challenges to Prop. 8 supporters

Editor - I must take issue with John Diaz's assessment of the Proposition 8 aftermath ("The ugly backlash over Proposition 8," Nov. 23). People who support Prop. 8 cannot have it both ways. They cannot expect to revoke an entire group of people's civil rights and then cry "foul" if someone decides to contact them personally and call them on it.

I am not advocating any type of personal physical attack and I am certainly not advocating attacking someone's family members, especially minor children, but yes, if an adult makes a public statement supporting Prop. 8, he or she needs to understand that those of us who are affected by their opinions might choose not to sit back in silence and we might take it upon ourselves to approach these people and to challenge them on their opinions. Accordingly, if that person is a business owner, they need to understand that we might take our checkbooks and do business elsewhere.

Try this on the other foot, perhaps. Try to imagine what we, as LGBT people, must face every single day because we choose to make public statements about who we are, merely by attempting to live our lives openly and proudly and by advocating for, and at times even demanding, the equal protection under the law that we are entitled to.

Personally, I am offended almost every day by liars, frauds and propagandists who have never met me but at the same time profess to be experts on who I am and how I live my life. I am offended by those people talking about me as if I were some abstract concept and not a real human being, someone who feels and someone who hurts. The backlash I feel every single day of my life is ugly. Yet, I go on. The Prop. 8 supporters need to do the same. Prop. 8 hurts everyone. If someone thinks they are bold enough to make a public statement supporting legalized discrimination, they need to expect that there might be non-violent consequences to their statement, that they will be challenged, and deservedly so. Seems to me that the people who support Prop. 8 can dish it out, but they can't take it. Of course, I'm not surprised. That, my friends, is the true definition of a bully.


San Francisco

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Naughty Pediatrician! (a real person, not a '70s porn flick)

This is Dr. Jane Anderson. She is a naughty, naughty pediatrician. Oh what the heck, say it, she's just plain bad.

Here's why.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

No on Prop 8 - a simple matter of equal protection under the law

This went out via e-mail the other night to my e-mail address book:

Dear Friends, Family and Other Acquaintances,

I have never done this before, this being sending a message to my entire address book. I have thought long and hard about whether to send this message, I would prefer to not have to do it, but I feel as if I have been left with no choice but to do so.

You are receiving this message either because I know you, have known you, or because you have made it into my address book for one reason or another. If you are my brother you are receiving this message, if you are a comic who gave me your business card at a show, if you are in customer service at (Nu?! You thought I shopped at Saks?!), you are receiving this message. My intent is neither to offend nor intrude, but rather to inform, and I would most gratefully appreciate your taking the time to read this through.

I am asking you, if you are a California voter who has not yet voted, to remember to vote no on Proposition 8 this coming Tuesday, November 4.

Let me first tell you briefly what Proposition 8 is NOT, and then what it is.

Proposition 8 is NOT about same-sex marriage, and it is NOT about gay rights. It is NOT about what we teach or don’t teach our children in school, and it is most certainly NOT about what someone does, or doesn’t do, in his or her bedroom.

Proposition 8, if passed, would eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. It is about denying one group of people equal protection under the law, and about amending the California state constitution to legalize discrimination, to relegate one group of people to second-class status. It is nothing more, and it is nothing less. And, in my humble opinion, I can’t think of anything scarier and more un-American than that.

I ask you, please, to vote no on Proposition 8 and, if you are able, to donate to the No on 8 campaign, at

If you are offended by this message, please be assured that the offense is unintentional, and please accept my apology. But, at the same time, please understand that I am offended by Proposition 8. I am offended almost every day of my life, and even more so during election season, by liars, frauds and propagandists who have never met me but at the same time profess to be experts on who I am and how I live my life. I am offended by those people talking about me as if I were some abstract concept, and not a real human being. And I must tell you that I am offended, and appalled, by the amount of money that has been poured into this divisive, discriminatory measure, mostly by out-of-state so-called religious groups, money that could easily have gone to provide food or clothing for people in need, textbooks for public schools and so much more. Moreover, I am saddened by the amount of money that the No on 8 campaign has had to raise in turn, to counter these efforts to legalize discrimination. In the past month, I have donated close to $100 to No on 8. For those of you who know me, that is a lot of money for me to put out in one month. But, as I said above regarding the sending of this message, I feel as if I have had absolutely no choice but to donate whatever I reasonably could, and then a little more on top of that.

That’s all I can say at this point. Many of you who know me well know that I can be rather long-winded at times, more so when discussing an issue about which I am especially passionate, in this case equal protection under the law. I have tried to keep this as short as I possibly could. I thank you for your time, your consideration, and your support in this matter, and I wish you nothing but the best.

Kenny Altman
San Francisco, California
October 29, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Guest Writer, Allan Altman, On Same-Sex Marriage and Demanding More of Our Candidates and Elected Officials

My brother, Allan Altman, wrote this piece, which has been submitted to the New York Times as well as to the Barack Obama Web site. I think it's brilliant, but seeing as it was written by my brother I'm not surprised that it is brilliant!


The press and the media have given both candidates and their running mates a free ride on the issue of same-sex marriage. I can't think of another issue which is allowed to be addressed without the requirement of any evidence of rational thought.

The dissenting judges in the recent decision to permit same-sex marriage in Connecticut were not as fortunate. They were obligated to explain their reasoning. According to The New York Times, “Justice David M. Bordon contended that there was no conclusive evidence that civil unions are inferior to marriages, and he argued that gay people have ‘unique and extraordinary’ political power that does not warrant heightened constitutional protections.” The other dissenting opinion reported in the
Times was from Justice Peter T. Zarella, who claimed that marriage laws are bound up with the issue of procreation and therefore don’t apply to gay people. Apparently forgetting that some senior citizens marry long after the possibility of procreation has passed, he wrote “The ancient definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman has its basis in biology, not bigotry.”

So, one Justice sees gay people as already having “unique and extraordinary” political power and another sees this as an issue of “biology.” The similarity to the Nazis' profile of Jews as both all-powerful and genetically-tainted is uncanny. But beyond that, how can any competent lawyer or judge accept either of these arguments as logically sound? It is as though rational thought is irrelevant when gay issues are raised. This may be true (and understandable, even acceptable) in everyday personal interactions, but don’t we expect a different response from people who interpret our country’s laws? Don’t we expect more from people who govern?

In terms of the presidential candidates, it is shocking that no one ever seems to ask them why they don’t believe that same-sex marriage is a natural civil right. Their objection to it is apparently so obvious to the unwashed masses that they are not required to present a cogent, rational, law-based response that takes into account the supposed separation of church and state.

Of course, I understand that openly promoting same-sex marriage might mean certain failure on November 4, just as running as an Abolitionist in early 19th-century America might have been absurd. But once the election is over and we have a new team in the White House, should it not be incumbent upon them to give us a rational explanation of why they oppose same-sex marriage? Is that asking too much? Or will we continue with Bush’s tactic of applying “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to the actions of the next President?

Allan Altman
New York, NY
October 12, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The choice for this November is so simple, even a 10-year-old gets it!

I called my 10-year-old, Reuben, the other day, Friday August 29 to be exact, to wish him a happy birthday. I call him "my 10-year-old" because I have known him since before he was born, as I have known his sister, Ruth, since she was about a year old. Reuben's and Ruth's parents, Katherine and Henry, are two of my closest friends in San Francisco. We live just two and a half blocks from each other, and have spent more Friday night Shabbat dinners with each other over the past 10 years than we haven't. When I was sick earlier this month and couldn't leave the house for several days, without hesitating for a second they looked in on me every day, brought me food, etc., as did some of my other good friends; if that's not family, I don't know what is, hence I call him "my 10-year-old."

In any case, I called Reuben to wish him a happy birthday. "Happy birthday," I said. He replied with "well, it might be my birthday, but it's not very happy." Concerned, I asked why. "Because," he said, "it's John McCain's birthday, too!"

Yup. So simple even a 10-year-old gets it.

Thanks for listening, have a great day!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Just One of the Girls is Just Six Days Away! Get Your Tickets Now!

On Saturday night, June 7, join Kenny Altman and four - or five - perhaps even six - of the Bay Area's hottest female comics at this brand-new comedy showcase, Just One of the Girls!

Just One of the Girls!
Saturday night, June 7, 8 pm
MetroSpace, 379 Highland (at Andover), San Francisco
$10 tix online at

Your host - Kenny Altman
Starring - Dana LoVecchio
Featuring - Beth Schumann
With - Candy Churilla, Loren Kraut, and Morgan

Kenny Altman holds the distinction of being San Francisco's only Stand-up Comic and Torah Trope instructor. He recently co-hosted the popular "Gays and Dolls" series at the Clubhouse in San Francisco, has played at clubs all over the U.S. and has shared the stage with such luminaries as Marga Gomez, Karen Ripley, Jeff Applebaum, Kid Dave Miller, and more. As a young child coming of age in the 1960s, his mother and grandmother used to tell him that he was "funnier than Alan King" but Kenny always knew there was more to him that just that - he also knew that he was "prettier than Julie Andrews." Kenny has always had a special place in his heart for female comics and he is especially excited to be bringing this new comedy showcase to San Francisco, especially with this smokin' hot lineup for the show's debut:

Dana LoVecchio started performing comedy shows at the age of 7 in Michelle Meade's backyard. She continued performing throughout elementary school, where she would shove peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in her face to make the kids at the lunch table laugh. Upon her graduation from John F. Kennedy High School, Dana was awarded the high honor of Most Likely To Appear On Def Comedy Jam. Not being black, Dana was perplexed, but then she remembered her southern Italian roots and silently thanked her ancestors for getting it on with the Moors. She has performed all over the San Francisco Bay Area including The San Jose Improv, Rooster T Feather's, The Purple Onion, The Clubhouse, and Cobb's Comedy Club.

Beth Schumann is one of the founding members of the Mixed Nuts: Comics on Meds stand up comedy troupe, which features comedians on medication for a wide variety of mental health disorders, raising awareness and laughter at the same time. Beth is also a regular with Grace White's Women Who Kick Comedy Butt. Beth has shared the stage with Rob Cantrell, James P. Connolly, Jimmy Dore, Will Durst, Al Madrigal, Phil Palisoul, Tom Pecora, Tom Rhodes, Dwight Slade, Bobby Slayton, Harland Williams, and more.

Candy Churilla was born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where she learned to drink. This proud bachelorette's life is one misunderstanding, man, and cocktail after another. What this lovably twisted comic lacks in self-control she makes up for in self-involvement. If her life were an HBO series, it would be called Sex & the Ghetto

Loren Kraut can be seen far and wide touching or counting anything that needs touching or counting. At the recent San Francisco Comedy College Awards, Loren won "Most Inspirational Comedian" for 2008.

Morgan is a former ironworker from Island Heights, New Jersey. Really, do you need to know more than that?!