Friday, December 22, 2006
That bar has been torn down and recently replaced by a tall sand-colored Marriott in which none of the surfaces are what they attempt to suggest. Last night we attended a gathering of two hundred local men held in a glitzy reception room of that fauxtel, and we took a moment to stand in the very spot in which we first met.
We were delighted to find that the party included a few men who were at the Chez Est on that night twenty-three years ago. One of them, Donald Funk, recreated his famous imitation of Hazel, the maid, running to get the door, while screaming “Mr. B! Mr. B!” (We will never know how many potential boyfriends he may have scared off over the years with this dramatic bit. He was a handsome and hot man way back then, and he’s the same today.)
Later in the evening, Donald and I performed an “RBF”, a bar maneuver invented by Donald and practiced to perfection by the two of us at the old Chez. It consists of walking backwards side-by-side through the bar at its most crowded, proving the point that we could go unnoticed from one end to the other no matter how absurd our movements. “RBF” stands for “Reverse Beauty Float”, and whenever Donald suggested one, it was a sure sign that we were bored, and that the night was not going well. The standard “Beauty Float” was what one did when one felt the need to break away from one’s friends periodically in order to cruise the crowd for new arrivals, as in “I’m gonna do a BF. Back in a minute.”
The night I met C, Donald had suggested we attempt a one-footed hopping RBF. This seemed preferable to his suggestion of a week earlier that we attempt the RBF on our knees in order to see the bar from the refreshing perspective of dwarves. We performed the hopping routine, which resulted in joint pain and a headache, all of which evaporated the instant I saw C.
Someday I suppose I’ll write about the rest of that night. It almost seems a little too valuable to me for the telling. Maybe I’ll get to it next week when we are in Braindeadlia (Fort Lauderdale).
Here is the earliest picture of us. We moved in together one month after we met. Seems like five minutes ago.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
2) I do not need my AOL account. I need to figure out how to cancel it.
3) The mysterious lyrics to Jamiroquai’s 1994 release “The Return of the Space Cowboy”. The word that gave us trouble turns out to be “Cheeba” which means pot.
4) I can and will continue to publicly and loudly chastise parents who scrape my ankles with their tank-like Maclaren strollers on the sidewalks and in the retail establishments of the Upper West Side of Manhattan (Maclarendale, of thee I sing). Some of those strollers hold school age kids who seem to be drugged.
5) How to find and change the fuse that controls the CD player, clock and rear view mirrors of my car, making me a certifiably butch auto mechanic.
6) How to arrive at the doors of the Madrid and Barcelona Eagles without a map, and, the merits of each.
7) Any taxi driver who says he can get you to JFK in time for your flight is a liar.
8) I am not successfully atheistic, although God knows I’ve tried, and it really doesn’t show.
9) The meaning of the following words, some of which I have avoided for years (I kept a list):
bespoke (the trendiest word of 2006)
and my 2006 favorite: tarantism, meaning “a malady characterized by an uncontrollable urge to dance”.
(I have not yet performed the induction ceremony that will add “melismatic” to the list before the end of the year.)
Next to this list, I have kept on my desk the usage rules governing the following sets of similar:
affect vs effect
foundered vs floundered
immanent vs imminent
scrimmage vs skirmish
discomfit vs discomfort
Reviewing these words and these sets shows me that I still avoid most of them and have an oddly natural resistance to the retention of their definitions.
10) Urine, as sexual currency, does not interest me at all.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Our Solandra Maxima bloomed this week as if to defy the freezing temperatures just outside the windows. When I came home from work, its scent rushed to greet me before I turned on the lights. (It is like the Night Blooming Cereus in that way, but not nearly so poisonous.) Commonly known as the Golden Chalice, this wonderful flower will send out ballooning buds wherever you prune it. The blossoms are eight inches long and turn a deeper golden color as each day passes until they droop and fall to the floor after about two weeks. left to its own inclinations, this plant would form a huge shrubby mass, but it does not seem to resent being kept small. A wonderful bonus: I once pruned off several branches and shoved them into a clear glass cylinder of tap water in which I watched them sprout roots. I kept postponing their transplant, and after a year, they went into bloom anyway. I gave them to a co-worker who has a degree in botany and a large greenhouse. She potted them up properly and they are performing gratefully as foster children. Our Solandra Maxima is over twenty years old. Next year at this time, we will have sold this house, and we will be full time in NYC and Fort Lauderdale with no room for our tropicals. We'll have to find good homes for them, and will miss them dearly.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Be forewarned. This soundtrack is not literally the soundtrack, but the original studio recording of what was delivered in this 1954 polonium 210-laced ginger house in which I am doomed to dwell for life. The four walls of “White Christmas” are my orphanage, my prison, my asylum, my boyhood home, my aerie, my palace and my sarcophagus.
Rosemary Clooney, under contract to Columbia at the time, was not allowed to do the soundtrack, and was replaced by Peggy Lee. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye are there, as is Trudy Stevens who was the voice double for Vera-Ellen in the film. PL delivers an imitation of RC so accurate as to make me fish out the liner at several points just to make sure they had not snuck in a bit of RC’s own voice here and there. (Less slavish and highly delectable is PL’s rendition of “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me”.)
The other three are glorious in the delivery of one jazzy number after another. In song, they pretend joyfully to climb the post-war American temple steps leading to the civic duty of marriage to a member of the opposite sex. This culminates with a reverential offering of America’s own Forever Song, “White Christmas”.
They are accompanied (sometimes assaulted) by Joseph J. Lilley and his orchestra and vocalists, the sound of whom, as a teenager, could make me literally nauseous. Now, as I hear them merrily chugging alongside the stars, their arrangement makes me simply happy, and nostalgic for a childhood I never really had, and for a country in which none of us ever really lived.
I have always felt uneasy about the fierce fascination I have for this movie. I have tried to hide it over the years, but friends, including one who gave me this original movie poster, could easily read the fact that I become immobile when it is shown on TV.
In the early and giddy days of videocassette, when classics were at last released from the imprisonment of annually scheduled network showings, several gift-wrapped copies of this movie came my way. I soon discovered that my addiction to it could not (unlike chocolate) be happily indulged at home, privately and whenever the mood struck. The tapes gathered dust on top of the VCR.
I needed to come home after dark, flip on the TV, and find that it had inconveniently already started. I needed to turn the TV so that I could prepare dinner while watching. I needed to run to the bathroom or to the washing machine during the commercials. I needed to annoy C by singing along loudly enough to force his attention. I needed to stop whatever I was doing to give my full attention to certain curious scenes that still make me squirm:
a) Crosby, Kay, Clooney and –Ellen make a snow scene out of a napkin and condiments in the club car of a train en route to Vermont.
b) Rosemary Clooney slams the sheet music down on the top of an upright piano saying that she does not like the song, that she won’t sing the song, before briskly walking out of the rehearsal hall.
c) The general gets bad news in the mail and takes up a horseshoe.
d) The housekeeper at the inn, honking into a giant handkerchief, admits that she is a busybody and has listened in on a telephone call.
e) The shot lingering on the face of the General’s granddaughter when she sees him in his uniform.
f) The anorectic Vera-Ellen in a gigantic round rug of a dress placing a hand on Danny Kaye’s thigh while asking him to affirm that she is not exactly unattractive.
g) The long gloves and lightening bolt neckline of the black gown worn by Rosemary Clooney in her post-flight-to-New York solo night club act.
These scenes are deeply etched into my soul’s hard drive whence they color and guide my every utterance and reaction to the world around me, come what may.
Of course, the elephant in any room in which this movie is viewed is its homosexual over and under tones. Danny Kaye is oh so gay in his worshipful “buddy” relationship with Bing Crosby, in his obvious enjoyment of their drag version of “Sisters” and in his recoiling from the advances of Vera-Ellen. One never questions the fact that the General is a sexy unmarried widower who wants to re-enlist. It just seems natural that a man like him should live with other soldiers now that he’s done his civic marital duty. The housekeeper at the inn is a frighteningly mannish thing. Rosemary Clooney’s performance as a man-hater is entirely convincing. There is Vera-Ellen, a weird species unto herself (famous for having the smallest waist in Hollywood) whose mimicry of female sexuality in “Mandy, There’s Minister Handy” still makes my skin crawl a safe distance from the TV screen. Finally, those songs by Irving Berlin. “Gee, how I wish I was back in the army” includes the line “The army was the place to find romance” quickly reeling itself in to mention women in slacks. The “Choreography” number mentions “Queens with routines”. “Sisters” speaks for itself.
Ultimately, there is no such thing as Christmas outside this movie. In its final scenes, in which ballerinas flit in front of a decorated tree on stage at the inn where the two couples have sufficiently but unconvincingly overcome their instincts to Velcro themselves into hetero-coupling, the back walls magically open to reveal a new snowfall traversed by a sleigh. Cue the big song.
At this moment, the viewer should feel warmth of heart. Instead, as a child watching this on TV, I hear my parents in another room, tearing apart their marriage. We feel the grim realities of the 1960’s ripping apart the entrails of 1950’s romance and duty. We imagine Danny Kaye on his knees servicing the General and the two of them talking about it decades later on Oprah. We see in the frightened face of Rosemary Clooney her spiral into emotional undoing followed by years of therapy, obesity and a broken voice hawking Coronet bathroom tissue. Are those Vera-Ellen’s little arms embracing porcelain while practicing the bulimic arts? Have you read what his kids say about Bing?
White Christmas is a strong eggnog of unintentional cinema verity and the grandmother of reality TV set to the gorgeous music of Irving Berlin. What’s not to love? Perfection. Home.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
He is eighty-five years old. He seems to have been rushed through this book by a publisher who was perhaps worried that death might rupture certain contractual obligations. I mitigate this suspicion with the realization that once GV had finished the draft of it, wouldn’t the publisher have calmed down and taken the time needed to clean it up? To fix the rough parts no more refined than scribblings produced at 3AM while just having sat up in bed with a freshly caught dream in hand?
The book’s title, needing too much explanation, seems to be an excuse for not producing something more skillful and finely wrought. Who among us has not resorted to melismetic rambling when our daily schedule does not permit the disciplined ordering of thought?
His first volume, Palimpsest, was much better, and I am left assuming Ms. Epstein provided the shake-and-bake to that earlier raw material. In the second volume, on page 173, we find the following baffle:
Goldwater fans were angry because when I had noted that as a public-relations man for his family’s department store, he had also invented a line of men’s boxer shorts decorated with red ants.
Aren’t we rather missing a second half to that thought? Perhaps some junior editor reading the draft while trying to negotiate a pastrami sandwich simply assumed that GV knew where he was headed and had arrived there intact.
On page 176, we are reminded that the comma is our friend whose absence makes us grind teeth.
Some years before he had entered, at the last minute, a presidential primary against Carter.
There are other similar moments. You get the point. Still, his valiantly restrained recounting of the death of his partner moved me to tears, and his loathing of Truman Capote is to be understood with salt and consumed with amusement, as is his need to be associated with famous names.
He lived a short walk from me in Rome, but I could not talk any of my professors who knew him into an introduction. They knew he would devour me. They also must have known how much I wanted to be devoured by him. Sometimes, on my way home from the Gregorian University, I would swing by the Piazza Argentina and look up at his building, trying to guess which set of windows was his. I wondered if he would step out of the shadows and onto his balcony to observe the famous cats that swarmed the ruins of that sunken square to see me there among them, eating an orange, licking its juice off my fingers, a winsome and young seminarian, pretending bravado, ready to know the man behind the words. (Instead, my superiors offered to introduce me to Muriel Spark…)
Despite his lack of focus, which I deeply hope is not caused by some loss of faculty, he remains frequently brilliant and provocative. I share his lack of memory for the personal paesaggio of one’s past, and, as he points out on page 111, must rely on what I have written to recall much of what I have lived. C is frequently astounded by my having totally forgotten places, people and adventures we have shared. Like GV, I grind them up, making a pate, spiced to enhance itself, and ready to be shared.
Finally, there is his frightening conclusion to Chapter Twenty-Two:
It has been my experience that writers, myself included, often forget what they have written since the act of writing is simply a letting go of a piece of one’s own mind, and so there is a kind of mental erasure as it finds its place on the page in order to leap to another consciousness like a mutant viral strain.
Where was I?
Saturday, November 25, 2006
This building is the product of the prominent Italian architect, Mr. Renzo Piano, who has provided mid-town Manhattan with a building that is trapped in a trellis of tubular ceramic and steel, the effect of which is exquisitely and literally grating.
Italian design has certainly plummeted of late. Even Missoni, now in its second and third generations of ownership, is devoid of inspiration. Their zig-zag weaves are akin to Mr. Piano’s trellis and are to be considered good examples of what people do when they lack good ideas. Instead of producing something with integrity and good bones, they cover their mistakes with contrivances and gimmickry that they hope will distract the viewer from the basic weakness of their designs.
I wonder why I am so annoyed by this. Is it the colossally wasted opportunity to add something of beauty to the mid-town landscape? Is it the incredible stupidity of the design selection team assembled by the Times? Is it the obscene amount of money Mr. Piano undoubtedly received for this inferior product and the fact that it will bolster his resume and make other stupid design teams more susceptible to his snake oil?
At the gym earlier today, as I was flogging my needlessly sturdy thighs into submission with a punishing extra mile around the track, I had a bit of a revelation. I am descended from southern Italian peasant stock. We are not an aerodynamic people. We are short and thick. Our limbs are wide and we who have mirrors are chagrined to look as we do. What could have been the evolutionary purpose for thighs like a Maytag washer-drier set? Surely they did not help our ancestors ride broad backed mammals. That skill belongs to the bow-legged. They are not much good at running across the veldt while being pursued by a lioness whose den we might have accidentally disturbed. They don’t possess the simian spring that might have granted us the fruit of the highest branches of the mango tree or the snatching of the magenta flower of the lofty jacaranda for impressing a potential mate. We cannot even cross them comfortably as would a Nubian supermodel, hooking a foot behind an opposing ankle.
These are thighs that seem to be good at doing exactly one thing: sitting on chairs in village squares. Perhaps this trait anchored my people; teaching them the value of leisure over movement, the value of pruning the grape vine and the fig tree lest either grow beyond easy reach. But here in America, these thighs are unreasonable, and we who are forced to trudge among the spindly develop a heightened appreciation for smart furniture, for sleek cars, for elegant architecture, for good bones and for the long muscles that propel them. (Mercifully, there are whole cultures of men who find our little gypsy bodies very attractive, or we’d still be trying to hail cabs at Ellis Island.)
I began my thigh resentment in kindergarten. Our teacher gathered us into a wide circle and chose me to stand in the center to sing a song she had recently taught us. I was delighted for the opportunity to perform, and began a pert, almost saucy rendition.
“I’m a little teapot short and stout,
Here is my handle. Here is my spout.”
(I half considered changing the indication of my spout from left hand to crotch, but I decided to hold onto that blue bit for maybe twenty years and an encore at the Apollo.)
Suddenly my voice caught in my throat. The lyrics hit me like bricks and I realized that she had selected me for this song because I was indeed a little teapot by dint of genetic victimization. I looked at the smug faces of my classmates sitting comfortably cross-legged on the floor. Their little limbs already lithe and quivering with the greyhoundy promise of slender tubular growth, while the chafed inseams of my Osh Kosh By Gosh corduroys were already throwing sparks whenever I ran in the playground. I continued the song slowly, in the broken and haltering whisper of Nina Simone or the end-of-the-road Garland.
“When the water boils, hear me shout.
Tip me…over...Pour… me… out.”
My teacher put a hand to her throat, awed by the pathos of my delivery. I saw my future: today a teapot, tomorrow a Bunn-o-matic 75 cup coffee pot plugged in at PTA meetings and church socials next to that big tray-o-Danish. I’d grow up to be Nathan Lane, not Tommy Tune. Costanza, not Seinfeld. Oprah, not Gail. Cho, not Paltrow.
I said “Excuse me”, and walked through the silent circle with my chin held up, until I got to the little boys’ room where I slumped to the cold tile floor and wept. (All right, so that last part never really happened, but if I were shooting it today…)
Anyway, I’m really upset by this building, by its architect and by the company that chose its design. I’ve done the best I could with my thighs, and they’ve earned me a good amount of favorable attention (including that of a man who bit the insides of them relentlessly for an hour in a Montreal bath house some years back), but when one has the opportunity to build something from scratch, there really is no excuse for choosing the inelegant.
For a long time, I’ve been feeling restless and dissatisfied as a paying member of the American audience, wondering why the shows of recent years cannot seem to get out of the way of their own material. Why they seem contrived, wooden, unsure of themselves and vaguely not up to the business of delivering entertainment. Having attended a preview of "The Big Voice: God or Merman?" last night with C and Joe and Eddie, I can tell you why. Steve Schlachlin and Jim Brochu handily supply the ignition needed to start the blaze that consumes their firewood (God, Merman, boyhood and religion), transforming it into a fabulous show about love, romance, survival and hope.
Because I strongly hate reviewers who map out for you in detail the terrain of a show, like someone driving you to a party while previewing the foibles of the guests, the table setting and the menu, you won’t get much more about their show from me except the promise that the music is gorgeous in that leave-you-humming-and-gotta-have-the-CD way, and that you will laugh and maybe tear up a bit and definitely poke the ribs of whomever you are sitting with several times before the final curtain. The show also made me wish we had Steve and Jim as neighbors and friends here in New York, and left us in awe of their talent as writers and performers who sooo do not need the glitz of a big techno theater to deliver their goods. Here is a show that could have been produced in the proverbial barn with one piano, a bare bulb and just as much success. I hope you see it.
PS: I can’t resist this one disclosure. The Roman Catholic Church is in its current threadbare, misguided and hobbled condition because men like Jim Brochu chose not to become priests. None of the gut-twisting hand-wringing anguish of Andrew Sullivan comes close to expressing the truth of this matter as well as does any five minutes of “The Big Voice: God or Merman?”.
Monday, November 20, 2006
a) We all have pets that need to be improved with bandanas or spikes.
b) We will drink anything except tap water.
c) We constantly think about going to Buenos Aires.
d) We like being courted by wealth management consultants (whose cards we throw into the next trash can we pass). Not much left to manage, given what we all spend on bulldogs, booze and Buenos.
e) We will smile at leggy Angertwinks in Speedos who walk through the crowd applying stickers saying "Kiss me here" to the private regions of attendees.
f) We would have demanded a refund of our admission had we not spotted this man in the crowd. (Manny, we liked your body better when it was...more natural, but we'd be crazy to complain about how you've built it, and the sight of you always brightens our day or night.)
When we got home, I emptied onto the table my plastic bag of stuff gleaned from the booths, and tossed everything into the trash, except for the condoms and lube (including some puzzling "glow in the dark" condoms, designed perhaps for men who can't find their dicks when the lights are out).
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Thinking of these dynamics in the taxi forced me to remind myself why I was going to this event. Certainly I had no musical expectations. I, who cannot define or differentiate among house, trance, electro, disco, drum and bass, trip or hip hop, and was already resigned to the limited possibility that we might be granted the ravishingly reggaed Karen Carpenter remix I often hear in my dreams, shared none of my comrades’ enthusiasm for the Mould-Morel product. ( I had never heard their music, and arrived with the assumption that they’d serve up something loud, mildly irritating, nervous and finally forgettable. That, afterall, is how I would describe 99% of the dance music to which I have subjected myself over the last decade or two. I was way wrong.)
I was thinking back to a night in Montreal when I became transfixed by something Junior Vasquez did with Donna Summer’s Melody of Love and a drum roll that washed over the huge crowd like a gold rush, like Indians after a wagon train. I also remember that summer night at the A House (pre the new dance floor) when David LaSalle sent us all to heaven and we would not let him stop playing long long after he had leaned into the mic and said “OK. One more.” for the seventh time. The lights kept coming up and then down again to our screams of delight. I can also remember dancing one night in the Wretched Little City inside a tight group of very tall undulating black guys to Danny Tenaglia’s “Fired Up”. Other than that, it’s been a bit of a beige blur for me, musically.
I offer this attitudinal preface as a counterpoint to my surprise when we were finally released from a holding tank in the cellar of the club and took stairs up into the main hall which seemed to have once been a theater, now with all its seating yanked out, making the remaining balcony and low stage look like toothless gums, but a maw nonetheless with great acoustics.
Bob Mould was standing before a bank of switches on a slightly raised platform just below the front edge of the stage. He was facing the congregation (in proper post-Vatican II Mass style), and he was producing the most ethereal sounds. We were the first to enter the space, and the dreamy vocals washed over me like smoke from dry ice. I rarely inquire about what is being played, but that was the first of many moments to come in the course of the night when I asked Joe or C to identify something for me. As is always the case, I can’t hear what anyone is saying to me at events like this, and it wouldn’t much have mattered since I didn’t recognize any of the names in their responses. Now I have the play list, so I can retrace my steps to my favorites.
The pace changed rapidly, and when I turned around a minute later, I found the space entirely full. Things got only better as the night progressed. (I was particularly glad to find a pitcher of tap water on the bar, having grown tired of alcohol earlier in the weekend. I resent having to pay for water at a bar almost as much as I resent paying for street parking, buzz cuts and capital gains. Elect me and that last one will be history.)
Soon, small oases of shirtlessness erupted, and that tribal madness that generates the energy that we water-quaffers siphon from the crowd was in full throttle. From the balcony, I survey the assemblage. It’s a hot crowd. There’s the strong “bear” component (they were the ones who had been the original population of the earliest Blowoffs), plus newer waves of men with less hair and of wide variety, mostly of the downright handsome strain. I spotted exactly two drag queens and maybe a handful of biological women. There were also roughly two hundred active service men who had taken advantage of the Veterans Day free admission offer. This certainly boosted the butch factor. A short handsome local guy (who looked like Ed Norton in Fight Club) mentioned that he had been in line behind a group of “Anger Twinks”. I told him that the man who had coined that phrase was an acquaintance and that I would soon be telling him how far and fast his invention has spread. (You’d have had a good time here, Dagon).
We spent a while with two deaf guys one of whom had long curly black hair. He made it clear that his hair was making him feel out of place in this crowd. I tried to assure him that he looked just fine by using one of the two sign language gestures that Joe had taught me earlier in the day. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong one, signing “girl” rather than “pretty”. He was crestfallen beyond repair.
Rejoining our group, we come upon the most beautiful man of the evening. Young, lean, smooth and handsome in that torrid South American way that one often finds in southern Florida. We exchange names, and inexplicably, he volunteers that his boyfriend is in Mexico with a parasite. After five seconds of considering the possibilities, I choose to discard this information, and C and I find ourselves entangled with him in a fine grind of a dance. We introduce him to Joe whom he is delighted to meet. When he learns that we are the Farmboyz, he is even more engaged, confessing to reading Joe and us with frequency. He is obviously smitten with Joe and he mumbles something about the need to do some starfucking while still young. He slides away from us and leans back into Joe like a tomcat, displaying some instincts that I suspect will serve him well in the years to come. We leave them alone and head to the men’s room.
Here is a photo of us returning to the dance floor after powdering our noses and finding that Joe has gone to the bar, leaving the young lad alone and easy prey.
And here, we find C going in for the kill.
It was a great night, and I danced with, and kissed, my own husband more than once. We’ll be back.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
I was amazed at the neatness, the downright cleanliness, of DC. I wonder if the locals would agree.
We visited the new WWII Memorial first. Not offensive. Not brilliant. Oddly fascist/Italianate.
I was more impressed with the crowd. The true, unmitigated and un-Spielbergian sentiments of patriotism all around me were silent but deafening and surprisingly moving. Strangers looked into each other’s faces, wordlessly sharing memories, losses, angers, duty and pride. Old men were telling stories to children. We found ourselves standing in what might be one of the few places in the country that is neither blue nor red. For an hour or two, people seemed to check their opinions about this or that, and just be grateful for what has been provided and protected. On this level, the memorial accomplishes all that is required of it.
We also visited the Vietnam Memorial.
Joe took this picture of C in front of The Supreme Court, and has entitled it "Justice is Blind, and Hairy".
these pansies and their cousins were newly planted in beds all over the city. I suspect they'll rage clear through April of next year. (A temperate climate brings out the Vita Sackville-West in me, and I wanted to buy a small shovel while roaming DC.)
Monday, November 13, 2006
Aaron arrived at our door by noon, and we scooped up Joe at a downtown street corner. (I silently marveled at how lightly we had each packed, barely satisfying the Prius’ cubic appetite for luggage in the wayback. If not for our laptops, indispensable for hotel-ensconced intraroomular email such as
Aaron: “Is Eddie in there?”
Joe: “I’m hungry and anxious.”
Me: “There are rain-soaked black undies on the bedraggled Astroturf outside our window. I am drawn to them.”,
we could have arrived in DC carrying only backpacks.
The excursion began well, with a speedy shot through the Lincoln Tunnel and a breezy transgression of New Jersey. What could go wrong, armed as we were with a Rand McNally Road Atlas, Mapquest print-outs and many years of cumulative experience driving this route? We even got a series of bonus assists in the form of text messages from Jeff who was in a car about an hour ahead of us. These were filled with warnings about construction-related delays to be avoided: “Get off the highway right after the bridge!! Take Rt40!!”
You would think that sui juris men like us, able to negotiate whole decades of the treacherous and uncharted terrain of American gay manhood would be able to digest and follow clear instruction. You would think. I am retrospectively deciding to blame Joe for everything that went wrong on the road to DC. For example, our discussion of rest stop glory holes might have been shorter had he not wondered about the tools men probably bring into the stalls in order to create the perfectly rounded and smooth holes one finds therein. We might have been able to focus on the route, had Joe been less effervescent, less entertaining, less endearing, less enthralling (Flip side: six hours in a car with Joe, Aaron and C pass like six minutes, even when we had to loop Dupont Circle several times, in full view of our hotel, without being able to take the correct turn that would bring us to its entrance. We eventually began receiving petulant phone calls from Eddie who had taken the train from Philadelphia and was pacing the lobby of said hotel.
Within the last light of a warm evening, we are finally assembled and installed and walking to an event called Titans At Ramrod. Woohoo! Familiar faces greeted us through the all but forgotten and un-nostalgicized hista-mist of blue cigarette smoke. These included Bob and Carl and Tom whose warm and friendly greetings initiated a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. In short order, C and I were introduced to these four hot men and their associates. This made us conclude that Titan is like a “Burlington Coat Factory” of prime DC men. If, at that bar, you can’t find something that fits, well honey, you got the problem, not them. (I would advise any newcomer to DC to stand close to CopperRed in such a room. He knows everything about everyone you point out, and can even recite their Manhunt stats with an accuracy usually reserved for the minds of baseball card collectors. Also, he is fun, smart, handsome, and equipt with a recent and sexy scar that reacts to changes in barometric pressure. At his suggestion, we moved on to the next of three venues.)
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Is there anything more beautiful in the world than a freshly cleansed kitchen sink? A replenishing of the heart’s optimism! Lean into it. The fumes and films of old food, coffee and grease from the skillet are gone. No need to fear grime upon close inspection. And, just touch that porcelain!
In the pantheon of what I love, C reigns. If I wore a locket, his image would be sequestered within, but that pendant would be best shaped like our double basin Kohler, folded over, latched and lightly borne over my heart.
Yes, first it’s C. Then those chocolate chip cookies from Levain. Then, a certain appendage I encountered in Chicago a few years back. Then Laura Nyro, and after that, I do loves me a clean kitchen sink!
Pardon the product placement, but when one is ready to clean the kitchen sink, Comet is required and no substitute will do.
No need for instruction, save for this absolute: get your hands well involved in the rinse. One hand directs the spray while the other strokes all residue from the surface until both the dirt and cleanser have spun themselves down the drain. I repeat: sponges or cloth are fine for the scrubbing, but the rinse must be accomplished by skin only in direct contact with every inch of the lips and depths of your sink. Warm water will have warmed the finish and it will feel almost flexible against the flat of your palm.
When you are done, your hands will have been stripped of all moisture and almost unbearably dry. Counter this by swiping up the little jewels of beaded water that remain, and as you leave the kitchen with your hands pressed up against your nostrils, savor the scent of your efforts. Smell your fingertips again on your way to work, again at your desk and again in the privacy of a restroom stall.
Think about returning home, flipping on the lights and rushing into your kitchen and up to the sun-downed gleam of it, urging you to reach for the faucet to wet it down, to soothe another workday, to receive your reflection and to drain from it all distraction.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
I respect C's opinion that its top is too blunt and might be improved by the addition of ten or twenty more floors before its occurrence.
Here is a sidewalk photo I took Saturday afternoon that attempts to demonstrate the welding of new to old. It probably won’t change the opinions of those who are irritated by it, but if you are as enamoured of it as am I, it will give you a measure of pleasure.
We were delighted to find the lobby open at last, and hurried in, expecting to be told by security that no photos would be allowed. Quite the contrary, we were allowed to gawk and snap to our hearts’ content.
For several months we’ve pressed our faces to the doors, intrigued by a glimpse of a many-tiered Mayanesque glass fountain cut diagonally by an escalator that leads up to a mezzanine level and to the foot of a gigantic beige painting of some sort. Now we are in, and able to see the entire composition.
I am sad to report that the space is an uncomfortable, clumsy, sterile, disjointed, gloomy, inarticulate and static collection of shapes and surfaces. The warehousing of a bland collection of bad ideas.
I imagine a meeting of the “Lobby Design Committee”. They are all distracted by cell phones as Norman Foster says, “I’d like you to picture the jamming of a large cellophane wrapped wedge of wedding cake into a freezer full of Tupperware.” They respond, “Sure. Whatever. Mind the budget and finish it by Christmas.”
The stepped glass pyramid fountain, which should have glowed, seems gluey and in need of Windex. The escalator, which should have soared, seems depressed and in need of Zoloft. The painting, which should have been inspired, is a shroud in need of an image. The entire lobby, which should have been playful, is autistic.
I was rather disappointed.
Here’s the video I made. I defy anyone to watch it from start to stop without falling fast asleep.
If Norman Foster’s goal was to create a restful public space, well bravo and welcome to his sepulcher. (Requiscat in aeternum, Sir Norman. I kept looking for the wall niche that will eventually hold your ashes.)
Finally, since it is my nature to be helpful, I suggest that the giant beige painting at the top of the escalator be replaced with this enduring image of the machine gun toting Patty Hearst as Tanya.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
On Saturday, we dove into the deep end of “Open House New York” accompanied by our house guests, Dieter and Rog of Boston, Tug of Jersey and the unsinkable Joe (whose birthday we tried to celebrate with the success of someone in a wheelchair pursuing a robust housefly with a rolled newspaper. By 4AM Monday morning, as he jumped up on a bench on the rooftop of the Eagle for his 103rd proclamation, everyone screamed “We know! We know! You’re forty-seventeen!” I do not know how he does it.) Upon my request, he sat still for a moment in front of the New York Public Library for what I think is a decent picture of his flinty, suspicious and faux-grumpy self.
That reminds me of the best moment of this edition of the annual “Open House New York” (an opportunity to don sensible shoes and run about the city inspecting rooms that are otherwise closed to the public). We had entered that library to take in some obscure feature when I was entirely derailed by the sight of the lady presiding over the information booth in the main lobby. I could not look away from her and waited awestruck while she assisted those at her desk. When only Joe and I remained before her, she happily accepted our gushing admiration for a creation that has finally done justice to the word “coiffure”.
“Where did you get that done?”
“Oh, you need to go to Queens for this”, she laughed.
“What do you ask for?”
She laughed again. “You don’t ask. My hairdresser knows. She’s known for years. I don’t ask. I trust.”
I leaned in and whispered, “The other ladies here. Are they jealous?”
Big laugh. “Oh no, dear. I’m jealous of them with their short easy hair.”
We had come to the library right after the Chrysler building, and had now seen the one New York architectural achievement that could rival it.
Our tour ended at the repulsive Grand Lodge of the Masons, the best part of which was the wait on line to get in. At one point, the line stalled in front of this well-appointed window. Ladies averted their eyes while passing.
We were still a half hour from the door to Masonic secrets when an armada of motorcycles roared by uninterrupted for more than ten minutes. I learned that this swarming is a regular event. The sight of so many insecure men straddling black and chromed hogs prompted Joe to run into the street shouting through cupped hands “Small penises! Small penises!” He cannot be taken places.
On Sunday afternoon, C and I were momentarily disoriented at a downtown intersection after a nip of sherry at The Dugout.
Other events of the weekend merit a separate post, but I would conclude this memento with a picture of the Pope of Great Jones whose brow, glistening with the fire of a potent brunch and several amazing Bloody Marys while the juke box pumped out “First I look at the Purse”, is crowned with a “mitre simplex”*.
*There are three levels of mitres: The “Preziosa” which is encrusted with jewels. The “Aurefrigiata” which is gold thread, and the “Simplex” which is white silk. I seriously doubt there is any other priest alive today who knows that fact, and knows when a bishop ought to wear one or the other. (Joe was granted a post-Labor Day dispensation because of his birthday.)
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Tuesday's rain had cooled the air, and the mid-morning sky was brilliant. All nine parking lots would be filled by noon. I looked over the heads of the record-breaking crowd and inhaled smoke from the kettle corn booth as I led her onto the stage and up to the microphone. She had been a last minute addition. Our next performers were stuck in traffic. When I told her and her manager that we had about 15 minutes to kill, she waved her CD with a wink and offered to sing. Before I finished introducing her, the cheers and applause surged up and over us. Later, she let me try on the crown that she will wear to the pageant, and she said I had excellent posture.
Monday, September 18, 2006
This is a detail from a much larger plein air painting of mine that is mostly sky and dune. I dragged my stuff over the breakwater that day and set up among the horseflies, poison ivy and naturists. The light changed. I never returned to finish it. Summer ended, and we sold our house on Pearl Street. Now, on the first chilled mornings of this new/old season, when I walk by this picture with a mug of coffee in hand, it dutifully brings me back there, and softens the fact that for the first time in many years, a summer has gone by and I was not in Provincetown even once.
We have two paintings by Andre Demers. They are unlike anything else on our walls. This one is about 2'X3'. His work is very "outsider" and hypnotic. It has been a great pleasure to watch his obsession with repeating shapes and themes and decorative elements evolve over the past several years - and to watch his mastery of paint grow.
He has just put up a site that includes some recent paintings.
In addition to the fact that we like living with his paintings, I am guessing that now is the time to collect him, while he is still relatively obscure and affordable.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
We're calling it Sprite Hill, and I think C and I have the right to name it because we first staked it out. We brought Joe and a few friends there, and Joe invited others. It has been called Gay Hill and Blogger Hill, but the unifying element is the portage of wine in emptied green Sprite bottles so as not to offend Park policy.
Friday, August 25, 2006
The artillery boomed, the band played sweetly and dignitaries were piped to the front with a color guard and an escort of sailors in strict formation.
After the speeches, the outgoing Captain strode to the center of the platform, and faced his replacement. He actually said, “Sir, I am ready to be relieved”. The incoming Captain read his orders and said, “I am ready to relieve you, Sir.” What followed was not exactly what I was hoping for.
I brightened, however, during the reception, when a dashing officer in dress whites offered me a tour of the facilities, including the gymnasium and the barracks.
It would have been rude to decline.
At the opposite end of the room, the mayor of a small coastal city was delivering a rant about economic diversification. I leaned right and whispered to a member of the Governor’s staff, “If he’d legalize all the pot and prostitution in that town, they wouldn’t need to diversify.”
He touched my cufflink and asked, “Is that the state seal?”
“Yes. Rendered in 18 carat gold plate.”
He noticed the seven small pleats sewn into the cuff and said, “All my shirts are by Brooks Brothers.”
“Do you get the no-iron kind?”
“Yes, but I’m afraid to put them in the wash so I have them dry-cleaned anyway.”
“That is very wrong. You need to be punished.”
I make no reply, and we turn to face the podium pretending to give our attention to the mayor.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
I ducked out just before lunch to make some calls on my cell in front of the building. The fourth estate vultures were gathered together waiting for the arrival of the Governor, the AG, and various nervous incumbents.
A highly polished car pulled up, disgorging Senator Joe Lieberman who straightened his suit and tie, smiled at the cameras rushing toward him and decided to shake some hands on his way into the building. I was the first person in his path. He greeted me by name after a quick glance at the ID fastened to my lapel, and just as he shook my hand, I shouted into my cell “No! Last year you gave us too many cookies and not enough beverage.”
The Senator looked puzzled for a moment and then gave me the two-handed grip that exudes sincerity while leaning in closely to whisper “I’ll try to do better this year.”
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
I have stopped by his blog roughly a dozen times in the last couple of years. His writing always left me unsatisfied, but I returned perhaps because I am easily fascinated by men who are well educated but seem not to have fetched much truth or insight from their discipline.
I met him once, at a gathering of bloggers. We were introduced, and when he heard the words “farmboyz” and “Perge Modo”, he winced. He actually winced and grimaced, albeit briefly, and swiftly supplied a patronizing and pained smile in an attempt to cover his distaste for the introduction. It was the look I have seen on the faces of some archbishops when forced into contact with an unsifted and unwashed assemblage of laity.
I extended my hand, and he looked at it with horror as if I had just sneezed upon it all the contagious detritus of hell. To his credit, he did manage to shake my hand without fainting. He then avoided conversation by moving to another part of the room. Guess he had read a bit of my blog. Guess he didn’t much like it. Guess he had consigned me to hell.
I had never before had the experience of being judged in that way. Never had it since. It is not a good feeling. Throughout my entire life, I have never once felt judged in that way by God. Never once felt condemned or even disapproved of. There are church leaders who are swift to roll their eyes at what I write or do, but even they have never diminished their opinion of me an inch because of the choices I have made. They simply pray harder for me, but while praying, would never avoid visiting me, or calling me or consider cutting me out of their lives because of how I have lived my life.
Perhaps he would recall the moment of our introduction either differently or not at all. Perhaps the dissing was all in my head, imagined. It does not matter. In the New York Blade article, the excruciatingly odd thoughts he strings together about sex and disease and behavioral consequences seem to come from the provinces of childhood nightmares, or seem like lessons gleaned from a book of fairy tales intended for the small of mind.
It would be easy for me to list the possible reasons for his disliking anonymous sex, but I don’t know this man well enough to get it right. Were we to meet again, I would probably tell him that men who choose to spend their days perched on their sofas with their legs crossed tightly at the knees should not trash the Olympics just because they themselves choose to be unathletic.
I’ve been a runner all my life. I am sure this has done some damage to my knees and shins, but I am not about to start campaigning against marathons. I’ve tried not to run too much. To stay on forgiving paths. I don’t run drugged or drunk. These days, I keep to the right, letting the faster or younger have the inner track. But I would hate to think what life would be like without the exultation of the race, and I would never blame Nike for whatever aches and pains I’ve had along the way.
I could go on, but to what end? You can’t much reach men like that. They condemn the things they are afraid of. Things they might love too much. They cling to the safety of their convictions like mussels to rock in waves.
PS: - and perhaps a source of greater indignation – his characterization of the men of the ‘70’s as “unkempt” is simply ignorant. We spent most of our waking hours kempting ourselves into a look somewhere between Al Parker and Farrah Fawcett ( the opposite ends of the narrow bandwidth of beauty in those days). Would that we had had the luxury of the buzz cut, or clothes from the Gap and butch boots available at any mall. We might have had more time for sex.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
I guess they want more gay members. I guess they want more gay men and women to go to their facilities. Just a minute! My logic is off a bit there. Major and minor premises not matching. Bally’s wants money, and does not mind selling memberships to gay people in order to get it. That’s a safe conclusion.
This has implications.
If a potential member presents himself (or herself, and for the duration of this bit, let’s assume I am including lesbians in the gender-unbalanced mascu-speak of English), at a Bally’s gym and states that he is gay and is responding to the commercial on Logo, we will have to assume that a smiling and commission-driven salesman (Bally’s calls them personal trainers) will brightly say “No problem”, and usher the prospect through the usual tour of the facilities.
The prospect will soon find that Bally’s provides a total health and fitness experience at facilities designed for a good amount of same-sex group nakedness.
The “men only” locker rooms contain rows of lockers with no demure barriers or opportunities for the modest exchange of street clothes for work-out gear. In fact, street clothes and gym bags are not allowed on the actual gym floors. One could, of course, arrive in gym gear and avoid the locker room entirely, but that is not what Bally’s is selling, if the tour is to be believed. The locker room, the gang showers, the steam room, the sauna (in many clubs not co-ed) are pointed out as part of what you get for your membership.
Since Bally’s also targets the heterosexual market, it is safe to assume that the company intends for gay and straight men to be naked together as part of the total Bally’s experience.
This intention is admirable, sophisticated, curious and hilarious, all at once.
I, for one, deeply enjoy the fact that I am frequently naked with many naked straight men at my gym(s). This experience is really much more erotic than that provided by the many venues in which I am naked among other naked gay men. Those events can be such a yawn. No tension. No mystery. No plot to unfold. No surrendering to desire. No furtive glances. No darting eyes. No wondering if or how. Just the accessible mechanics of sex. I frequently fall asleep on my feet in such gatherings and have begun to wonder if I should continue my attendance. But, whether at a sex party or at a gym, I am effortlessly under control and will rarely sport wood unless very caffeinated or until coaxed by extreme talent.
I am obviously jaded.
But what about those gay men who have not had my life, and who join Bally’s and find themselves under warm water with a handful of moisturizing foamy soap in the company of several well-built naked men whose muscles are distended and whose skin is glowing from a completed work-out? Should it not be expected that that they will produce firm evidence of their appreciation? Do the Bally’s salesmen instruct new gay members not to soap their privates at such a moment? Certainly the straight men receive no such instruction. And, if a straight man takes offense at the sight of an erection pointing at him in the shower room, and reports the offense to the club’s management, can the gay member really be chastised or suspended or revoked of membership? Nope. It’s to be expected.
Obviously, Bally’s can and should invoke an over-arching policy of “No sex anywhere in our facilities”. Fair enough (even though this rule provokes considerable snickering among all and any who have ever spent any time at those facilities, but that is another story, and one not exclusive to Bally’s). The facilities they provide do not automatically usher in the having of sex among members, but they do facilitate the experience of men being naked among those they define as sex objects, and among those who view them as sex objects. That is the presumption of the design.
If straight men were to take this presumption to its logical conclusion, could they not request of Bally’s the right to be naked in the presence of those they define as sex objects (i.e., women, for those not following this)? After all, why should gay men be granted a privilege not afforded straight men? I’d really like to see a straight man surrounded by a dozen toned foxes stepping out of their lycra learn to exercise the level of self-control required of a gay man in a group shower at his gym.
Let’s all hope that straight men never make this request. Bally’s would probably be forced to resolve the issue by establishing a “gay only” locker room to be used jointly by gay men and lesbians.
That, my friends, is an unsavory thought. Forget I ever suggested it.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
CV is leaving us. Moving to Texas. To Dallas, and we are once more bowled over by the speed at which our lives fly, and by the pain of goodbyes.
CV is the easiest, most casual and naturally beautiful model a photographer could have, and one of the hottest men any of you should ever be lucky enough to find in your bed. More importantly, he is a friend of the highest quality.
A group of us took him out to dinner last night and had a rollicking good time reeling in our years.
We met him one summer evening at a gala fundraiser in the enclosed cortile of our local art museum (a stuffy place of pretense and nervous money). C and I noticed him as soon as we entered the event. He was wearing an enormous shimmering silvery headdress that fountained up three feet into the air. I said to C “Look. At. Him. We need to meet that man.”
Meet him we did. Several drinks and one conga line later, the three of us were asking a security guard for directions to the men’s room. We discarded his first suggestion, claiming that we knew the way to that one but that there was a line at the door. Could he point us in the direction of another men’s room? One further away from the event? He was helpful, and we made our way to an empty men’s room in another part of the museum.
I remember a lot of veiny grey marble and a cool white tile pre-war floor composed of small hexagons, but mostly I remember the wall-mounted “baby changing board”. I clearly remember being up on that board and holding onto the cloth straps that held it in the open position. I remember the crack of industrial plastic pulling screws from their anchors in the plaster and getting up off the floor, laughing to the point of tears and seeing that there was now another man in the room, standing at the urinal with his back to us,pretending that the three of us were simply invisible and not half undressed and not using the wall-mounted appliance for unholy purposes. He was wearing the dark suit of respectability. Perhaps a museum benefactor or the husband of one of the museum’s lunching auxiliary ladies. We left laughing and not wanting to know who he was.
Was it years later during a Christmas Eve party at our place when I got the notion to have CV pose as St. Sebastian? We rolled a tall maple pillar out into a hallway. With some thick twine from opened gifts we bound his hands. I had a huge heap of mosquito netting acquired at a state surplus store for no particular reason. I tore off a piece and fashioned a loin cloth. Gave him a dark and curly Italianate wig. Asked him to point a finger toward heaven.
Heavy into Photoshop in those days, I later substituted a different background, my favorite section of the dunes in Provincetown, at the crest of one of its busiest hills near Herring Cove beach. On the distant horizon I added a shrunken photo of a Boston church I had snapped. I created the arrows and the wounds on screen using only Photoshop effects for ingredients. The toughest part was to draw the sand up over his toes realistically. When CV first saw the finished composite, he said “Ouch!”
“St. Sebastian of the Dunes” was part of a few different photo exhibits I had in those days, and once, in the showers at the Y, I bumped into S who was CV’s lover at the time. He had had that photo copied and applied as a tattoo onto his calf.
So now CV’s in love, and going off to Dallas with a brand new career and boyfriend. Our Wretched Little City will be quite a bit more wretched and even smaller because of this. All day at the office I’ve been humming that Carole King song about nobody staying in one place any more. We’ll miss ya, Carissimo.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Friday, August 04, 2006
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
While I'm happy for Dick and Gary, I am even more delighted with the plus and minus signs after their proclamation. Classic dilemma. How do you fix the anniversary? First meeting? First night? Move-in date? I can imagine them nattering away at each other about this for more or less forty-eight years. C and I would never do that...
In a very real sense, the policemen stationed on the parade side of the baracades are part of the spectacle of NYC Pride. This one stood in one spot for nearly three hours looking heart-stompingly fantastic.The full lips of Fabian. The arms. The seething green eyes. The immense shoes. The big ole wedding ring.
I kept trying to count the number of times we have found ourselves in the center of a crowd just like this. How many men have we bumped into in this type of crowd and had sex with, on the spot? How many of those moments have produced friendships? The next day, a gorgeous Panamanian named Alejandro (dazzling teeth, brilliant black hair) text messaged us: "Did you have fun?". Our reply: "Still in bed". He had the decency not to respond.
With the assistance of this fellow, I got up onto the bleachers to take a crowd pic. For a while we moved to the music and toasted each others' Bud Lite in metalic blue containers. We looked at the long lines in front of the Port-o-lets and I expressed my heartfelt need to piss. He pointed out a row of guys who were relieving themsleves through the chain link fence that separated the back stage area from the public area. I joined them and soon found myself pissing over heaps of wiring leading to the stage and the speakers. This can't be wise, I thought, and yet, these other men whose precedent setting streamage had overlapped mine, have not been fried nor has anything been shorted out. Back on the bleachers, I expressed my fear that a policeman might have spotted my transgression. He told me that his lover had been a cop. They had been together for eight and a half years. He was one of the victims of 9/11. He still wears his ring.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Folsom Street East is an NYC copy of an SF street fair known for (so I’m told) the daylit display of fetishized sex in startling realism. The NYC version subtracts the sex, substituting the production of sweat and the drinking of bad beer. (Once again, I am reminded what a starchy, straight-laced Puritanical town this really is. Anyway, nobody sweats like a New Yorker, producing a slick and friendly crowd under a hot sky on the melting pavement of West 28th Street.)
Bloggers, like little boys in bumper cars at an amusement park, are soon happily gridlocked in front of a bar. Any bar. And so it is that we are swaying among the steamed with Dagon, Tom, Glenn, Neil and Bryce, Joe, Mark, Eddie, and Eric (who is in Fire-Island-worthy excellence of shape, not that he isn’t always). Among the blogless are Damian who confides “When I lived in Montreal, my daddy didn’t allow any soap in the house…” and Ken who says into my other ear “I really have to piss but I’m afraid to break the seal.” Someone tells a story involving the key question, “Is your dick always that big?” and I shout out a request to Joe that he tell the Linke story and then we get swallowed up by a wave of big shoulders and from a distance of twenty feet away, I crest to see that Joe is well into it with the rapt attention of three novice listeners. Ken and I trade stories about the first time a man took out his teeth while giving us head, and we both fondly recall a forehead-denting attic cross-beam at the baths in New Orleans.
These photos are indicative of the costuming of the day, which was varied. The “Utilikilt”, a recent garment that will probably never be popular, was shown in a variety of colors including camouflage (because one never knows when the need to pass unseen in a rainforest while wearing kilts might arise).
The man with the sweater-clipped jock should be reminded that a real lady always pauses at the mirror before going out for an evening and removes one piece of jewelry.
The man with the fuzzy butt clenching the American Spirit cigarette pack should be slapped sensible. Dear Lord.
And, here are some revelers unknown to me but sweet to review, including the token female, whose rack is, I suspect, God-given.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
C is forever trying to get me to go to Brooklyn with him. He’s Mayflower stock, and I think the need to Go-Forth is in his blood. I’m Mediterannean. We Sit-Back. We had energy a couple of thousand years ago. We built stuff. It got ruined. Five hundred years ago, we sort of woke up and painted stuff. What’s left is framed in gold. “Feh” to rushing about.
C will put down the paper and emit the solemn tones reserved for the announcement of an exhibit, performance, open studio, razing or even the non-eventfully simple need to trudge about in some neighborhood on the verge of being proclaimed “Hot”.
Sometimes the newspaper lands in front of me with a swat upon the table and a tohljahso “See?” open to an article called “Bushwick!”, and I am silently accused of neglect for having scorned his suggestion several months ago that we explore an area that has now received in-print fawning.
At that point, I know it’s safe for me to say “OK. Take me to Bushwick.”, because once the Times has un-cached yet another cranny of Brooklyn, C loses interest in its discovery. (Is Bushwick not in Brooklyn? “Feh” to the details. It’s across water.)
With this in mind, you will understand his easy agreement with my suggestion that we attend a Pride party in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn at the home of the drolly effervescent and retroswoonular GayestNeil and Bryce .
We met up with Joey at Grand Central station at the appointed hour having taken the #1 Train to Times Square where we got on the Shuttle.
I do love the Shuttle. It’s my favorite line. You don’t have to think. It does only one thing. A to B and back. If you lose your umbrella, you turn around and there it is. If you fall asleep on the Shuttle, well really, what’s the worse that can happen? Not like some lines whose final destinations are places of mystery. I see their names posted on schematics in the safer stations of our routine. End-o’-the-line stops such as Far Rockaway. That’s an un-manned stop, frequently underwater, where packs of snarling dogs live off candy wrappers snagged in tumbleweed. If C should propose a visit to the Rockaways, I would agree, having set our affairs in order, and packing hard cheeses and ale. Later, I suggest this excursion to Joe who glazes over, this being only his second venturing out of Manhattan. (C popped his outer-borough cherry with an earlier trip to Brooklyn to hear absurd music.)
Joey is in high spirits, and we note our recent cosmetic inversions: he is newly beardless, and I have grown it in, and darkened it to effect the air of a convict newly released by dint of DNA. He is also displaying formidable calves as big as those turning cylinders of steaming meat one sees in the windows of some Turkish restaurants. These calves will be required for the schleppage of thirty copies of a Pride-related magazine and an industrial sized bottle of Bud Lite, a commemorative one-gallon collectible novelty which he intends to open at the party.
While Joey and C caucus about the itinerary and determine where we ought to exit, I am left to ruminate, having exhausted several sexual fantasies about the other riders. I think back on the dozens of Pride events I have attended. Some moving, some loud, some lame and some brilliant. Last year, at NYC Pride, we were with BJ and his boyfriend. That was their first date. A week from now they’ll be celebrating an anniversary.
Pride, naturally robbed over time of its defiance, has evolved into a celebration tempered by respectability. Glitter, made permissible, loses its glit. These days, we march not so much to establish our frontiers, but to patrol our borders, and that is OK for the moment. As I’ve said, there are times when it’s good to Sit-Back and catch a bit of breath. The clarion call of battle reaches us soon enough and without our seeking it out.
We are walking several blocks from the subway to the party house in warm sun while Joe explains that he is carrying his goods in a flight bag that he had thrown out because of a broken zipper. He retrieved it from the trash to give it one more outing and after emptying it, he entirely fills Neil and Bryce’s kitchen trash can with it.
I proclaim New York to be the best place in the world for finding great stuff in the trash, not to denigrate trash in other cities yielding some of our most cherished furnishings including a candlestick with a big brass ball encased in iron and wooden rings, an art deco washing machine agitator, a high chair, a Canadian officer’s chest and so much more.
The party is full of shiny happy people. Some are men. Some are women. Some are doctors. Some are DJs. Some are young. Some are younger. I am looking into a bowl of guacamole as big as the sandpit of Jabba the Hut. There is only one bed in the apartment. As I think Neil and Bryce use it simultaneously, I begin to suspect that they might both be Queers, but I assume a sort of delirious British denial about the whole sordid possibility.
With the sun dipping into the west, we all scamper up onto the roof armed with beakers of pink fizz invented by Tim and Mark and a blender. A bright yellow feral parakeet stitches swags and festoons into the pink clouds overhead and finally comes to rest on the parapet. We fall silent as Joe tiptoes toward it with a hand extended. The bird seems to regard him without fear as he moves closer. At the last moment before contact, it flies off, and we exhale. A survivor, uncaged and high above it all, golden, elusive and having its season, just out of reach, maybe gone tomorrow, maybe back next year.
Later that night, we fall into step with those who march. I sing to the melodies prescribed. In the new darkness of an outdoor table I look across at the brilliant smile on the beautiful face of C. I bump shoulders with Joey who, seated beside me, is charming the pants off the guys on the sidewalk. I accept the card of a young stranger who has jumped the fence and claimed the fourth place at our table. I hold no green card in the future. With no franchise, I often make myself useful, gathering up the empty wine glasses of the snoring gods who have the power to let me stay awhile. I do so love being alive.