"the only way to be quiet is to be quick, so I scare you clumsily, or surprise you with a stab." — Frank O'Hara
Ennis SmithAbout

Ennis grew up in Cincinnati, the sixth of ten children. In his first life he was an actor and singer; embarking on his second, he completed his BA at Empire State College, where he was a Richard Porter Leach Fellow.

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Latest Publication

Creative Nonfiction cover 2014-10-16 at 1.19.36 PM copy

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Art, Criticals, Deep Songs, Gay, Literature, Museums/Galleries

Man on Fire

I was finishing a late-aborning BA when a professor introduced me to the works of David Wojnarowicz. No doubt she fathomed that he could be a model for the writing I was attempting—autobiography of a frank, sexual nature that also had very much to do with loss and the times in which I came of…

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Music, My back pages

Fordham’s Road

She’s older now, I thought. The blonde bob, the square jaw with a complexion that’s classic English rose, still radiates but the eyes were wearier: less Lulu, more Julie Christie after a wild night. Seeing her made me wonder if her most recent engagement at Joe’s Pub would be 1) a shoe-string affair (only a…

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Art, Film, My back pages

Jonathan Demme, Film Director 1944-2017

A few hours or so spent in the company of a great film is akin to falling in love. A spell is cast; like a lover, the images on screen evoke a flipbook of feelings. That was what it was like to experience a Jonathan Demme film. I won’t soon forget the unbeatable elation I felt…

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Cat and Mouse

The Name of the Game. It Takes a Thief. Mission: Impossible. In the late 60s/early 70s, those shows were the gold standard of a genre I’d coin as adventure capers. Its ingredients are irresistible: charming do-gooders and con men (or women) with fabulous wardrobes and looks to match. Always in play was a large sum…

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Music, My back pages, Vespers

Al Jarreau 1940-2017

Back when I sang professionally, I could think of no greater compliment than when some trade paper critic or a fan would say, “he reminds me of Al Jarreau.” No worries I’d be puffed up with delusions of greatness. By then I’d been listening to the guy long enough to know I’d never be that…

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My back pages, Television, Vespers

Two Marys

After the death of Mary Tyler Moore about a week ago, many notables wrote about Ms. Moore’s influence on everything from fashion to career. Most were women who saw her as a role model, a beacon of possibilities in a changing world that now seems so distant we forgot we were once there. She made…

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Architecture, Art, Film, Museums/Galleries

Haunted Art

How apt that the red barn on top of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is called Transitional Object. It’s a term psychologists use to describe that which weans us away from, while providing the comfort of the original—think pacifier, though such objects might also be defined as props used to test reality. Could the same…

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The Price of Peace

We’ve all experienced it. Call it a return from idleness, or simply the end of vacation, an experience as brutal as any to occur in the course of a year. Some of us feel the letdown upon return to work, or when a cascade of held mail tumbles from our post boxes. I knew it…

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View to a thrill

Don’t call Richard Serra’s sculptures “minimalist.” For anyone who’s had a close encounter with his work in the past decade, labeling his burnt copper monuments as such feels useless. And untrue. For me, his recent exhibitions (I’m thinking of that astounding 2007 MOMA show, but also his long-term installation at the Dia: Beacon, certainly worth…

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History, Politics, Religion, Theater

Secrets and Lies in Old Salem

Contrary to what the cynics among us might think, revivals of plays and musicals exist not only to bring in theatergoers desperate for the tried and true. Successful ones rely on a confluence of factors: a director (Ivo van Hove, who, evidenced by this current theater season, should now be allowed to direct everything—everyone else,…

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