Wednesday, January 31, 2007

First, you need paprika.

On Saturday, we acquire coffee and pastry by means of a short walk that serves primarily to test-fly garments for the rest of the day. If this three-block excursion induces a desire for scarf or gloves, or, inversely, the wish to shed a layer or two, we are soon home with breakfast in hand and able to make adjustments before the major foray. (Is there anyone with a more self-absorbed Saturday ritual?)

Cold or hot, we collect Joe and Eddie. Joe is wearing a red jacket with a Union Jack sewn into the back. This jacket comes with a story involving San Francisco and a flat mate with zooshy clients, and a white version of the jacket. (There, Joey, in case you ever wondered if I really listen to you while you go on – and on.)

Every aspect of Joe has a story attached to it, sort of like a price tag or the washing instructions label. I swear if he were to sweep up his clipped fingernails, he’d deliver himself of ten epic histories, and then, there’d be the toenails to listen to.

C announces our tripartite Upper East Side plans. Eddie is delighted with the stores to be attended and Joe announces a need for deli food. I assure Joe that we will consume after we have consumed. We push through the door of our first stop, Waterworks, where it is our goal to examine shower faucets, heads and installations that have those extra jets that spew water at your sensitive regions. We are all four arrested by the sight of an immense and sloped copper freestanding tub priced in the tens of thousands of dollars. It is deep and coddling and obscene in its demand for space in a city where the placement of even a toothbrush must be weighed in terms of square inch efficiencies. We are however, attracted to a nearby tub of pure white resin. It looks like a shelled boiled egg cut in half the long way and with its yoke removed. Joe says, “I. Love. Deviled. Eggs.” Then, his hands go up in the air, and we all brace ourselves for the pronouncement that this always signals.

“I have never once eaten enough deviled eggs. Never once had enough of them. Same with shrimp. Put me at a buffet with all-you-can-eat shrimp, and I never leave without thinking I shoulda ate more of those.”

I agree with the shrimp part of this, and add that I always eat them with the shells on. Good fiber. I raise an examination of the concept of the deviled egg. Mom never made them, and I have a real fear of them. I avoid them entirely. Their coloration seems not to occur in nature. They arrive cradled by suspicious women with suspicious cellophane. They always need to visit a refrigerator for some secret fix before appearing on the holiday groaning board. They are evil. Eviled eggs. Joe overrides this and repeats the fact that he has never at any single meal had his fill of them.

“What goes into a deviled egg?” I wonder.

My comrades have no problem listing the basic ingredients and I begin to concoct a riff on the recipe that might involve the addition of garlic, lemon grass and perhaps a paper-thin membrane of peeled cucumber separating the white from the yoke. Also, I’d whip the yoke into something more chiffon-like. Lemonish. Meringuey. (OK, readers, I know you’re eager to share your deviled egg recipes, and, if we are lucky, maybe this gourmand will share his version of this American classic.

We leave Waterworks and head to The Container Store which mercifully presents itself before Joe can spot a deli.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Provincetown in Winter

I call this by an obvious name: January Thaw on Bradford Street. I always started too late in the day. The sun was running out and the cold was placing its hand on the back of my neck again. Had to take a photo and finish up back at the house.

january thaw on bradford st

If you go to the end of Commercial Street, you can walk the huge stones of the breakwater out to the end of the cape. In winter those rocks are treacherous with ice, and when you reach the end, the sand is brittle beneath your shoes and what had been lush and dazzling in July is now barren and magnificent.

icy end of the breakwater

Is it conceivable to have loved that town more in winter than in summer?

minton tiles

I would consider agreeing with New York Times critic Herbert Muschamp who thinks that The Mall in Central Park is the most beautiful place in the world. The Mall ends with the upper and lower Bethesda terraces and fountain, one of the most dreamlike places on earth. For the past few years, part of the lower terrace has been closed for the restoration of the ceiling tiles. This is finally completed. The following Times interactive feature tells you all about it.

I few years ago while rummaging through an industrial salvage yard in Springfield, MA, I came upon a box of old encaustic tiles which I bought for $15. The markings on their reverse clearly identified them as Minton and also verified the year of their manufacture, 1840, and the factory that produced them, Stoke-Upon-Trent. We'll put these into the new bathroom floor, in front of the sink. Their colors are identical to the Bethesda ones.

minton tiles

Thursday, January 25, 2007


This is an unusual blog.

A basically straight male atheist student in an all-boy school in Iraq who is writing about having feelings for some of the guys. If he stops posting, we should fear the worst.

(1/28 note: Iraqi Atheist claims subsequently to be 17 years old. Since I am not a reader of the blogs of minors, nor do I engage them in email or commentary, I am leaving him unattended to his destiny, while wishing him well.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


All right.

It is extremely and perhaps painfully obvious by your lack of commentary that none of you care a fig about art, even performance art of the more droll varieties, so I am going to revert to the sort of detail that you all really want me to deliver, you dirty little crotch-cradling gutteral children. (And you know I love you for it.)

At the end of our evening at Exit Art, I walked by two men as we were seeking the stairs up to the main level, to our coats, and to the door. The shorter one watched me in that way that makes one pleasantly feel like meat. I discarded his attention because we were not about that sort of foraging on this night. Also, we have become rather compartmentalized, forgetting that sometimes, men fix their gaze upon other men not solely for the purpose of undress.

Upstairs, while I contemplated a video of a stuffed red velvet armchair, the seat of which was replaced by the writhing and naked back of a man who was literally inside the chair, I heard a voice behind me. The shorter man was speaking to me.

Because he is handsome and because I am deliberately shallow, I did not hear a word he said to me. I studied his features. Smoothly italianate, I guessed rightly. Straight DeNiroan brows. Nothing unmatched, dark eyes full of curiosity, a smile and a chin with no fear of reprisal.

I’m afraid I was rather inconsiderately unaware of his tall friend who seemed resigned to a somewhat ancillary role in the short guy’s overtures.

C drifted over from some other installation, and the short guy inspected him with favor. I wonder if he had seen both of us downstairs. I wonder what his intentions are. Introductions were made, art was discussed and the mechanics of future contact were exchanged. Before he left the country on a foreign assignment, he sent us some photos of himself that I have cropped to maintain his anonymity. He had also taken a half hour to read a bit of this diary and still he suggests that we “hang” upon his return.

As you know, I ordinarily describe the strenuosities of men-events had, rather than those anticipated, but I thought I’d try something a bit different today by posting a non-event that will surely become something more, but who knows what. Also, be assured that his input into my account may be considerable, and therefore, all that I tell you may be a complete fiction, and then again…



Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"Serious Games" at Exit Art

Loving it or hating it doesn’t much matter. Seeing art, or its excuse, is always fun. With this premise firmly in mind, we enter Exit Art, located at 475 Tenth Avenue.

Tonight’s program is called “Serious Games”. It is composed of several pieces of performance art. Some are hilarious, some are repulsive and some are inspired. The whole show made for an entertaining evening, akin to attending a high school science fair. I hope that does not sound condescending because really, I’d say the same about most of the overpriced dreck we see in the galleries of Chelsea. Exit Art, however, is devoted to giving exposure to new and unknown/emerging artists. This means that most of them are quite young and eager to express the themes that preoccupy young folks.

Here’s some of a performance called “Touch and Go” by Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow. She portrays a swimmer in training who is belittled by her nasty “coach”. Spectators are encouraged to demand that she execute various strokes. The whole thing worked very well. It made a strong statement in which the mechanics were not distracting. You want to slap the coach.

In her performance “Big Balls” , this sardonic lady simply positioned herself by the bar all evening. Loud and clear.

Exit Art

I’ll be posting more of these, and, the whole show will be repeated next Saturday, for those who might be in the city and looking for fun and an open bar.

Buxtehude and Bach

Didn’t have to go outside to know it was cold last Saturday. Could feel it through the window. The stiffened quickstep of folks down on the sidewalk. The stopped molecules of air between us permitting the passage of light with emergency. Simon says, “freeze”, and what had been a sweet maiden aunt of a winter did just that. We add layers in preparation for going out to fetch coffee and munch. My nose runs before we are at Starbucks and C knows what I am thinking. This is the last winter of my life. Starting next year, we’ll be in Fort Lauderdale for the cold months. All of them. Won’t miss this one bit.

We make plans for indoor events, selecting the first of a ten part free concert series at St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue and 53rd St. The series commemorates the 300th anniversary of the death of Diedrick Buxtehude, a German organist I admire. The program tells us that Bach walked several hundred miles to meet Buxtehude and learn from him. He was his pupil for several months.

The organist of St. Thomas will use the small organ in the rear of the church rather than the behemoth over the choir. Treadles pumped by the guy who maintains the organ will operate the bellows! This non-electric mechanism will help deliver an authentic sound from this feisty welterweight of an instrument.

The music begins and I am reminded of the difference between Bach and Buxtehude.

In Bach’s mind, the notes rise up like birds out of a reedy marsh into a grey sky. One first, followed by a tangle of others until suddenly the sky is black with them, and then they all catch the wind, banking together in formation with the starter again in the lead.

Buxtehude is the opposite. The notes descend. Imagine a scullery wench standing at the top of a long flight of marble steps. She holds the handles of a wicker basket full of hundreds of silver spoons, which she dumps down the stairs, the echo after the clatter making perfect sense.

At the concert, I also realize a second major difference between Bach and Buxtehude. You can easily whistle a Bach tune, but Buxtehude’s stuff doesn’t really have a hook or a melody. Nothing catchy. It’s rather like flocked, gold-toned wallpaper for cathedrals, and hearing it within the stone walls of this gorgeous gothic structure is like lowering a hatbox lined with such paper over your head and letting the message-less shimmer sift into your ears.

Anyone who is interested can attend any of the next nine concerts (Saturdays at 4PM). Buxtehude aside, this church is magnificent. The blue glass of the windows against the soaring stone is wow.

st thomas church

Later, we acquire heat in the form of Maker’s Mark Manhattans at the Townhouse where a few glum men sit at the bar. The considerate bartender twice refills the bowl of salty munchies by our napkins, while C and I discuss the fact that when both of us first started listening to pop radio, there was no segmentation of the airwaves. You could hear Motown, late do-wop, rock, folk, Elvis, soul, the Carpenters, Rolling Stones, Pet Clark and everyone else (short of Perry Como) all competing for a place on the same chart. There was something great about that. To have grown up not differentiating among the songs you heard based on assigned categories. You either liked that song or not.

Our next task was to run down to MOMA to see the exterior video installation. Not good.

We stopped to admire the huge bronze sculpture in the angled space at Lever House. One of the better pieces of public art in New York City, it is also one of the few sculptures I can think of that looks better by night than by day.

lever house

(Hmm. Wonder how many "comments" will dispute my liking this statue, and what they'll say to convince me.)

Time for a nap before going to Exit Art (475 Tenth Ave.) for “Serious Games”, the fourth project in their series of “new approaches to performance art.” This merits its own post(s) with some video. Prepare to laugh/cringe. I think Bach might have laughed and Buxtehude cringe.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Problem Solved

While waiting in line to get into “Body & Soul”, a legendary dance event held at a club called Pacha on West 46th Street, we become annoyed with the cold air and drizzle. We are C and I, Dieter and Rog of Boston and Fort Lauderdale, Joe, Jeff and Aaron. A security guard moving along the line proclaimed that the delay was due to a slow down at the coat check. Ah, the coat check. Jammy nemesis of all club children. Once we were inside the building, and in that line, the wait was ever more vexing, given the reverb of music coming from the arena two floors above our heads.

The “coat checking” concept is not new, and yet, it is routinely bungled by event managers who ought to know better, and, who ought to be able to streamline the arrival and divestiture process which is, to say the least, not rocket science.

I recently described for you a coat-check insurrection at a DN party. Consider also the endless and loathsome lines of the Black Party, held annually in March at Roseland Ballroom. One resorts to leaving one’s sensibles at home or hotel, opting to dress only in the black skivvies selected for the dance floor, hailing a cab frantically in the cold night air, and emerging several hours later in full daylight in only the stained and abbreviated remnant of that same slight costume. The ensuing sight of thousands of semi-naked black-booted men taking coffee and brunch at mid-town Manhattan counters is a ritual like the appearance of cicadas or the migration of Monarch butterflies, and ought to be listed and billed as a “Don’t Miss” by the directors of bus tours from Dayton.

Let’s return to Body & Soul. Outside, we waited in line with buoyancy generated by Belgian beer and Manhattans. We devise distractions. Joe and I sing, “It’s My Dick in a Box” verbatim. Dieter, whose nipples are perpetually engorged, responds to Jeff’s desire for big’uns, by sharing his secret: a snake-bite kit which he often wears all day long under his suit while at the office. Jeff lifts his shirt and the test application is successful, making his left nip considerably larger than the right.

nipple thing

(I am disinclined to gush over artificially distended body features. Elongated earlobes with bullet holes? I’d rather trolls. Nipples like tough old Vienna sausage tips? Argh, not for these lips. Dicks injected with ass fat that makes them look like pigs-in-a-blanket hors d’oeuvres? Just un-nerves. A scrotum filled to bursting with saline? Yikes, I’m bailing.)

Anyway, at lunch the next day, we were able to solve the coat check challenge in less than fifteen minutes:

a) When ordering tickets in advance, the customer should be forced to pay for the coat check at the same time. These customers will be ushered into a separate and speedier line where the elimination of the cash transaction would result in a 25% timesaving.
b) The advance admission ticket, whether acquired in person at a retail outlet, or via the mail or even in the will-call line ought to contain the two matching and numbered sections needed for the coat check. As you enter, you rip off the bottom numbered section and retain it. The top numbered section is applied to the coat hanger. This would eliminate another 25% of the delay.
c) Upon arrival, attendees should be handed coat hangers to which they would apply their garments (and that perforated numbered section of their ticket, eliminating this cumbersome part of the process when arriving at the head of the line, and saving an additional 25% of the total time needed for this ridiculously simple business.
d) If the event organizers know, by dint of advance ticket sales, that their event will draw a huge crowd, hiring more “runners” to receive coats already numbered and on hangers, to hang them in order, and finally to retrieve them, would constitute a tiny financial burden heavily outweighed by customer satisfaction. At Body & Soul, an event that attracted several thousand revelers, the coat check team consisted of less than ten harried staffers.
e) Some usage of bar coding technology ought to replace the request for one’s initials made as one hands over the garment to the attendant. The idea being that when you depart, the attendant retrieving your coat will ask you to speak your initials which should match those written on the hanger tag. This is supposed to prevent theft or confusion, but in reality, the exhausted staff never bothers to ask you to speak your initials by the time the tide, which has come in, is pressing to go out. Bar coding, in which the two coat check stubs, and the admission part of the ticket, are tied to the reveler’s name, would, upon scanning, eliminate 99% of mismatches and disputed claims of ownership. Those glitches involve only a tiny percentage of the attendees, but can occupy a huge portion of staff time while those of us reliable enough to hold onto our tickets must stand and fume. Patrons with coat check problems ought to be whisked away and handled in a small airless room, as is the case at airports when one reports lost baggage.

Enough about efficiencies. Here’s a strange picture of us before we left our place for the evening. Scully? Scully, can you hear me? This is Mulder. Do these jeans make my butt look alien?

X files body & Soul

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Au Revoir, Braindeadlia

Every vacation reaches a mental zenith at which point all tasks are accomplished, all socializations are fulfilled and all appetites are snuffed like burnt party candles. With luck, C and I reach that point together, having extricated from our heads both the memory of our worklives and the foreboding of their return, and we dissolve into the clear and perfect turquoise of deep relaxation. The markers are obvious. We actually sit in chairs rather than admire them. We laugh like wind chimes, at anything. We watch the iguanas watching us. We fuss over little things like stubble, or the application of a particular moisturizer C stuffed into my Christmas stocking. It made me smell like carrot cake.

On the last day of 2006, I think we shared that moment. What else could have provoked me to put down my drink and go back inside to fetch my entire collection of flip flops, arranging them on our terrace like a school of dolphins yearning for the sea?

"You should add your sandals", said C, looking up from a book of photographs by Pierre et Gilles, but I was already chin to the tiles, steadying the camera in a pushy urgent warm wind, gently reminding me that we ought to get packing as soon as this last bit of nonsense was done.

flip flops

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Memento Braindeadliae

This is the entrance to Dieter and Rog’s place at “The Palms” on the oceanside of Route A1A.

Entrance to The Palms

As I’ve established in dustier posts, one of the most satisfying aspects of Fort Lauderdale is the constant visible collision between the old and new cities. For instance, directly across the road from “The Palms”, you can check into this place where the in-room movies are probably unspiced.

Praise the Lord Apartments

Or, walking over the bridge from our place to the fashionable Galleria Mall, we find this alluring display of a menacing hi-tech toilet contraption.

Galleria Mall

And yet, if we walk a stone’s throw in the opposite direction, toward the beach, we pass this moment of vintage beauty. Every time we do this, I want to try that latch. Want to press that painted-over doorbell. Want to see everyone who has ever passed through those doors. Want to know their stories. Where they are today. How they ended up. Wanna say to them, “Hey. Ever spend a night with anyone at the “Praise the Lord Apartments? Really? Whadja do?”

old fll

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Draw Your Own Conclusions

When you’re ready to go out for the evening in Braindeadlia, you consult a smallish, greasy and muddling magazine called 411. It lists every option and includes some candid photos that offer guidance as you choose your venue.

Here are the photos on pages 57 and 59 of a recent edition. Where would you want to be when the next hurricane hits?



Monday, January 08, 2007

Braindeadlian Christmas Eve

Although disinclined to worship that which does not taste good, I attended, again, the gay Christmas Eve service held at the Broward Center. It has become popular enough to merit two editions. (We chose the later, so as to avoid the gays/lesbians-with-kids/strollers crowd.)

This event continues its devolution into less colorful respectability, and I bet it will emerge a full-grown yawn by next December. Nevertheless, I convinced C to attend it with me (He skipped Florida last year) with a promise of stirringly fine live Christmas music delivered by a sweet orchestra and choir. We were accompanied by our friends Dieter and Rog, and we snagged the same box seats we had last year, whence I could look down upon the head of the presiding “bishop” whose jeweled miter looked up at me like the gaping jaws of a hungry alligator.

The festive congregation was composed of smartly sweatered Clark Kentular gay men, with a sprinkling of leather daddies, some with holly sprigs pinned to their harnesses, and, one startling fellow about twenty rows from the stage who wore a red sequined top ala 1963 Judy Garland TV Christmas special.

We happily greeted Michael whom I had met at this event last year. He was again accompanied by his mother and sister. Michael remains the youngest gay man in America. (Even his mother is younger than me, despite the one prayer I made during this service which was that baby Jesus might not allow that to be the case, cruel savior of others.)

We would be with Michael three more times in the course of the week. Twice accidentally and once intentionally. We bumped into him at Macy’s in the Galleria Mall on the 26th, where he had selected a shirt, and deciding to wear it out of the store, he cast himself writhingly upon the counter of the sales clerk who needed to scan the attached tag. Our third meeting was for dinner at Alibi where it became frustratingly clear that men of a certain age do not share references with boys of another age. We had been to see “Dream Girls” ( a post in itself) earlier in the day, and discovered that Michael had only a vague idea of Diana Ross or the Supremes. (In the course of our fourth meeting later in the week, he actually said “Fay Wray? Who’s that?”) Consequently, I have promised to commence a regular feature on this blog, listing and explaining cultural references that I feel are essential equipment for any gay man. This daunting task, really the establishment of a kind of “Ecole Supplementaire’ for baby gays, will probably exhaust the already exhausted me, and will require regular adjunctive input from you more professorial gays who read herein.

For those of you who live a distance from a metropolitan gay church, I made this snippet.

Here is a photo of the curious but efficient item distributed at the “taking of communion” part of the service.


It looks like one of those single-serving jelly or butter containers you get with toast at inferior restaurants. Pulling off the top seal reveals the wafer, after the consumption of which, one pulls off the inner seal revealing a gulp of grape juice. This was a disquieting business, adding amusement and techno-ruminative public health speculation in whispers throughout the intrigued congregation that should have been focused on the symbolism of the Last Supper, or, as in the Roman tradition, the Transubstantiation wherein these commodities become the body and blood of Jesus. The nifty packaging made it rather more “brunch of Jesus”. I laughed, but realizing that I was on display in our box seats, affected a pious expression of meditation upon the mysteries of vacuumed freshness. Later in the evening, at the Club Baths, I found myself in the company of two queens from Milwaukee who had also been at the service and were, clad only in their towels, now delivering a hilarious send-up of the communion in an elaborate “Fabio/I can’t believe it’s not butter’ routine. Jesus woulda roared.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Airport transactions are less drab on the 24th of December. The “cheery” seems to waft up like static scuffed out of the undulating teal and salmon patterned carpet at your gate, out of the pile of newspapers you read and shed while clutching your boarding pass, out of the styrofoamed coffee, in the reassuring Morse code of overhead bin latches and safety belt buckles as we close our eyes.

Then, we are on the sidewalk, and that first intake of warm moist Braindeadlian air is like being hitched up to a morphine drip. We are sinking into Fort Lauderdale for a week, and we barely hear the horn of Gabe’s Lexus, and we demand open windows for the short trip from the airport, and we lunch at Fernanda’s with luggage still in the trunk, relieved to find that the calamari salad is still the best in the world.

Stepping off the elevator on the seventeenth floor of our building, I feel anxious as I fish for the keys, I open the door, and that mildly disinfectant scent that I have never been able to expunge rushes to greet us like a joyful dog left alone too long. So different from the scent of our New York place which is darker and oaken, toasted, and with hints of berries and plum. So different from our home in the Wretched Little City, where the scent of garlic in olive oil greets you like a bossy and illegal housekeeper.

We find the installation of new hurricane windows and door to be completed. The crew has left no debris, but there is a thin film of white dust on every surface. Before we unpack, we clean the place, top to bottom, shedding northern clothing as we work. This dust has ignored the restrictions of cabinetry. Even the Motrin bottle in the medicine cabinet needs a rinse.


Yes, Eddie, the chairs are vintage Saarinen (even the red vinyl cushions are original). I found them roadside in Connecticut, housing spiders. The table is a Raymond Loewy design with matching chairs that are in storage because their slick seats make naked sitting adhesive.

Cleaning a place that you’ve been away from for awhile is not so dreary a task. Not unlike a re-acquaintance or a resurrection staged by carpetbaggers. I pause to admire my own modest design coup: a diamond plate truck box from Home Depot. I drilled four holes in its base and added the wheels. It functions as coffee table, extra seating, and, as locked storage for special things that need security while we are away: our favorite mugs, the in-line skates, leather flip flops acceptable at the Ramrod on a week night, our Club Baths membership cards, a favorite Dolce and Gabbana bathing suit, bitters, Maker’s Mark, vermouth and poppers.

My own little design coup

With a huge sunny stretch of afternoon left for divertissement, we cross the street to Hugh Taylor Birch Park and do eight miles on our skates. A restorative jump in the pool, and we begin to think about the night to come.