Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Prey

C and I and
  • Joe. Our. God.
  • were en ville and at the convivially crowded Barrage on Saturday night. We stood at the angle near the Suzy-homemaker DJ, and huddled over our three beers on the bar. Without warning, a sallow-eyed fellow with badly shaped black hair framing taciturn features hanging over thin shoulders under the oppression of a dark long-coat inserted himself with this line:

    "Excuse me. Mind if I join you? I just got robbed and I don't want to be alone right now."

    Before finishing this announcement, he boldly placed his drink on the bar in the center of our three beers as if to nail down his positioning.

    Joe's eyes turned a glowing red as he sniffed fresh blog meat, and he asked the man where it had happened.

    I, with the scepticism of Judge Judy, narrowed my view of this critter, wondering how he had purchased a big ole drink if he had just been robbed, and why his announcement rang with the indifference of someone channel-surfing through an evening of CSI reruns.

    The surprise reaction however was from C who is ordinarily compassionate and benevolent in his acceptance of the premises of confidence men everywhere. Without a moment's hesitation, he said "Yes".

    The guy seemed surprised by this, but chose to ignore it. C persisted.

    "Actually, yes, we do mind if you join us."

    The guy silently retrieved his drink and wandered back into the crowd in search of better victims.

    This left Joe mildly chagrined, and it left me with a strong desire to claim that I had to piss, pretend to head toward the bathroom but run back home to post this before Joe had a chance to deliver his iteration.

    Really, we actually do have lives.

    Thursday, October 27, 2005

    Our children

    DSC02259, originally uploaded by farmboyz.

    Ten years ago, C tossed me a fun assignment. He had a client who wanted some "wild art" for their corporate headquarters in Connecticut. In those days, I was totally absorbed with Photoshop which was not the yawn it is today. Nine hours playing with Photoshop felt to me like five minutes.

    I met with the VP assigned to design the work space. He told me that I could do anything I wanted to do except that he didn't want any photos of "men blowing dogs". I told him that restriction would eliminate three quarters of my portfolio. We laughed and I knew we'd be OK.

    C installed about a dozen different floor-to-ceiling images. This one is my favorite. It is a composite of photos of gargoyles from the Southam Building in Montreal, a background that is a close-up of the root ball from a Clivia that we were transplanting, a building we loved in the Jardin de Luxembourg in Paris, and some hydrangeas from the farm. I was particularly ecstatic when I managed to "light" the tops of the columns of the building which were actually a dull verdigris, and to create an artificial smoke and glow from inside the building.

    These photos were taken last week. I was surprised that the restless and clever employees of this software company had not doctored or defaced the images over the past ten years. No changes in ten years, right down to the furniture placement. The images still entertain in a way that makes words on a screen seem as dry and ephemeral as maple leaves decomposing underfoot on a busy sidewalk..

    Book of the Dead

    DSC02258, originally uploaded by farmboyz.

    I learned at our walk-through that this image would be installed in an area of file cabinets. I took some photos of the banks of cabinets in my own office, collided them, and combined them with some photos of text from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. I was, in those days, fond of invoking Ra at the beach in Ptown using the correct incantations found in this book. It kept the rain away.

    for the bosses

    DSC02251, originally uploaded by farmboyz.

    This is in the Executive Wing. The execs didn't like the first image I had selected for them that C had installed. They felt it looked "bloody" and "disturbing". I replaced it with this one, which is a composite of autumn hosta from C's shade garden and a photo of a green row boat in the harbor where we would walk with our morning coffee near our Ptown house. It's more L.L. Bean. They liked it.

    Thursday, October 20, 2005


    JohnCardinalWright, originally uploaded by farmboyz.

    Here we are escorting (hoisting) the massive and brilliant John Cardinal Wright out the door of a banquet hall in Rome on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1973. I’ll call my classmate on the left Ned. We met on the Rafaello as it left New York on a sunny August afternoon. We were immediate friends and spent the entire seven day crossing on deck chairs calling for drinks. Ned taught me how to drink gin: it is a clear beverage and must be approached with the same hospitality afforded water. When Ned announced as we passed through the Straits of Gibraltar that he had dated Cybil Shepard in high school, my awe was boundless and I knew that we were in for constant adventure.

    In Rome, our rooms overlooked clay courts and I insisted that Ned and I take up tennis. Ned agreed, and found that by carrying the balls in his shorts, he could fill the cannister with a healthy gin and tonic, and, turn heads on the way to our game.

    I don’t remember the details of my first six months in Rome. Over the Christmas holiday, Ned and I were to tour Vienna, Salzburg and Munich by train with three other classmates. The two of us celebrated the day with extreme verve, and our companions were forced to pack our bags for us, and to cart us to the station that evening to commence the vacation. I woke up somewhere in the Alps to the sound of Ned shrieking as he rummaged through his suitcase. What they had packed for him was not the problem, as his clothing was all impeccable. What they had neglected to include made him distraught. I joined the wailing when I discovered that my own bag did not contain a hairdryer and that no one else had packed one. In those days, I had the kind of hair that needed a sustained and well-aimed shot of hot dry air to create the tossably feathered and straightened chestnut shag that I felt was owed the continent. Luckily, the bathroom in the seminary in Vienna had a hot air hand dryer that saved the day. It was mounted low upon the wall. Ned and I knelt under it having a religious moment that the Viennese seminarians found curious. In order to survive the rest of the trip, while our companions dutifully inspected art, Ned and I visited several Viennese furriers and purchased cloudlike hats of lush and radiant animal pelts. I’d be broke for the rest of the trip, but fabulously.

    I returned to Rome with the realization that I was not constructed for gin. I could not keep up with Ned, and so I gave it up. A glass of Orvieto bianco at pranzo and Rosso Antico on ice in the late hours were all I really wanted. Ned and I grew apart.

    A few years later, as I was dressing for the sacrament that, if in fact it actually took, would end my life as a seminarian, Ned stopped by to bestow a hug and a kiss and wishes. He sat on the bed while I applied a bronzer guaranteed not to streak even under perspiration. He confessed that he hadn’t been around much during the last three years because he was being kept by a jealous young Italian doctor. He wondered if I had known that, and if he had been the object of quiet and long-term gossip. Nope. News to me, you lucky dog.

    His own ordination followed several months later, after our return to the States. We saw each other once more at a reunion, after which our lives were entirely disconnected. One day, rectory phones around the country were white hot with news. My classmate in Iowa was the first to reach me. It seemed that Ned, discontent with the d├ęcor of the church to which his bishop had assigned him, burned it to the ground and announced to the parish that proceeds from insurance would provide them with a gorgeous new house of worship. He was soon uncovered, having rather botched the deed, and he now resides in an ecclesiastical prison that exclusively houses criminal priests. Know that the inmates of this place are not there because of sexual misconduct. They are men who have mishandled money, a far greater crime in the eyes of the Church.

    Sometimes I look at this photo and see only the face of John Cardinal Wright.

    In the summer of 1975, I ran an office for visitors to the Vatican. Every morning, Cardinal Wright would slowly and painfully cross the piazza on the arm of his handsome secretary (now a prominent American archbishop). I would come to the door of my office to greet him with a faux-fawning "Buongiorno, Eminenza". He would pause for a few words, always full of delicious sarcasm and clever delivery. I adored him. Another classmate once told me that he had modeled his entire ministry on the advice of John Cardinal Wright who held that the best priests are always theologically conservative while socially liberal and entirely forgiving. I don’t suppose he’d much approve of how I turned out, but I made a finer go of it than Ned, didn’t I, and in the end, he’d still hug our shoulders close to him, laughing as we groaned under his weight.

    Thursday, October 13, 2005

    Sunday night spectacular

    We have often traveled with friends who look forward to sitting at a bar, looking up at boyish men who dance for their dollars.

    I have never quite understood the allure. If, for instance, Montreal is the destination, why pay to see what can be had so readily for free? The boys who dance there may be handsome, but no more so than the one who while serve you coffee, or the one across the terrace from your kitchen or the ones you will encounter at any one of the fourteen bath houses within walking distance. Certainly no one has ever stuffed a dollar in the jock of one of these boys because of their dancing skills which consist of dodging drinks underfoot while maneuvering a washcloth to offer various glimpses of body parts not seen on the street. Again, in Montreal, those parts are frequently seen on the street.

    So what’s the deal? In Fort Lauderdale, I went to The Boardwalk with two friends of a certain age who, having filled their pockets with singles, made frequent marches up to the stage to express their appreciation of the dancers who each got no more than five minutes to perform before taking their bows and threading their way through the crowd, offering private dances in the back room. I ended the evening wondering if each of those friends would have gone into the back room on the hand of a dancer if he had been alone and unobserved by friends with telephones that talk to other mutual friends. I also found their knowledge of the fact that many of those dancers are straight and married to be disconcerting. This is prostitution set to bad music.

    Given my rather high-handed disdain for this type of entertainment, you’ll be surprised to learn that I had a grand time in NYC on Sunday evening at an event featuring a slew of naked boys dancing on bars. Before I get to the details, I’ll establish the reason for my satisfaction. These boys (and let’s assume they were all at least eighteen years old) were engaging, in every way imaginable and seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. Unencumbered by jock straps, the only repository for dollars would have been their socks/boots, but they seemed more interested in snagging the admiration of the drinkers rather than their money, and that after all is what makes one of these boys worth looking at: the illusion that in a crowded room, he of the perfect young body only has eyes for you. They spun out their lines liberally, like spoiled fishermen casting about in a well-stocked lake. I doubt any of the fish went home without having received at least a few seconds of their undivided attention.

    That brings me to the specifics. Twenty dollars got you through the door and up to an open bar between the hours of ten and eleven. The crowd sized itself up with satisfaction and the relieving realization that the downstairs dark area would not go to waste. We do not feel swindled, and the night has barely begun.

    When the dancers emerge and mount the bar, I want to congratulate the producer of this event. These boys seem to have been picked at the exact moment of their finest flowering. They may never in their lives look this good again, and they almost seem to know it. Their skin glows under warm lighting. They are immediately comfortable with their postings, and were I a regular at other venues around town, I would probably recognize them and know that they are experienced beyond their years. I look for signs of drugs in their eyes but I do not find the usual edgy panic that always seems to fuel the East Side iterations of this type of event. They seem composed and eager to please. Their erections occur at a convincing pace, allowing the superb reversal in which the drinkers are made to feel like sex objects. So far, I am pleasantly on board with the evening, in the company of C, our houseguests and two favorite blogger friends whose descriptions of the evening I await.

    Set free of not only the need for a jock strap but also the common boundaries of dancer behavior, these boys unleashed their personalities as well as their dicks, and obliterated any distance between their bodies and the patrons, squatting into open mouths and growing aroused by their own hands and by having sex with each other before an appreciative audience.

    I liked a longhaired Hispanic with languid eyes, a wicked smile and a body that reminded me of the bronze Davids by Verrocchio and Donatello. At one point he stretched out on the bar with one knee bent, smiling benevolently at anyone who came forth to suck his dick.

    This is the one feature of the event that I found distasteful. The dancers delivered too easy access to their genitals, and men got in line continuously to take a turn at sucking them. Some guys went from one line to the next as though they were at an all-you-can-eat buffet at a Las Vegas casino. The positioning of the dancers during this odd ritual reminded me of a meet-the-authors book-signing event at Barnes and Noble. The event producer would have done better to instruct the dancers to have contact with the patrons without suspending all movement. By granting stationary compliance with lines of eager mouths, each dancer became rather maternal, like a sow on its side, allowing its brood of piglets to feed rudely on its swollen teats.

    Re-reading all of the above makes me suspect that any of you who were absent will probably wish you had been there to form your own impressions, and that those of you who invested your twenty bucks will question my exclusion of a description of what went on downstairs where a set of couches in the darkness broke many a fall. Another day perhaps.