Sunday, December 30, 2007

Scraps that fell off the table in 2007

While cleaning up this Mac’s “ desktop” (an annual chore), I find fragments of things I had intended to work into presentable posts but never did. A curious mind stumbles about like a fat bee among ample flowers at the height of summer. In winter, he remembers.

I had thought to write about all the hand-painted t shirts C has produced this year.

In a rare moment of political fuming, I had begun a list called “Threats to democracy”: I like lists to contain ten items. I got through six on this one before something less sour distracted me.

Threats to democracy

a) Fat – people grow lazy. They do not tend to the work that needs to be done to maintain a democracy. Like a second or third generation living off the company their father or grandfather started without becoming active in it.

b) Making nice – the rest of the world contains some pretty vicious people and cultures. We should not treat them all politely. They would kill us if they could. We need to learn that it is not ignoble to make war effectively, to flex muscle in defense of ourselves and to win war even when that means the destruction of another group of people.

c) God. God has nothing to do with democracy. In fact, God is probably the polar opposite.

d) Tiring of diversity. It’s so much easier to have rules that segregate us. Opting for the convenience of little segregations and daily minor bigotries that never make headlines but cause a slow slick coating on the tongue that eventually results in a loss of taste and savoring of diversity.

e) Politicians who want to be re-elected. Confusing sports and politics. Put down your plow and go to Washington if your neighbors ask you to. Represent them and then come home and take up your plow and let someone else put in their time. Let people look at your one-shot record and decide if you were useful or not, but not in terms of “Can you make a career out of this gig?” Even if you’re good at it, the process of returning popular politicians to office has not guaranteed us great results. There really is no justification for the amount of time a politician spends getting re-elected. There should be no campaigning, let alone campaign financing which ought to be illegal.

f) Bloated Federal government. Let the Federal government shrink before it sinks. The Federal government ought to protect our national borders with its military, maintain interstate transportation and print money, safeguard health whenever an issue is beyond the boundaries of a particular state, and facilitate the congregation of senators and congressmen, and decide arguments among states.

I had written effusively about this orchid, the only phaleonopsis we have ever had that actually produced a second little plant at the end of a stalk of blossoms. I spent an outrageous $75 for this plant. Bought it from an Asian lady who sold them in the window of her dry cleaning business on Amsterdam. She wouldn’t bargain. Unlike many of its kind, this one seems to bloom all year with no months of vacation. Now that it has produced a baby, its cost is more reasonable. Besides, how do you price something when it is beautiful?

There were some parties we attended that went unreviewed. Here am I with recovering bloggers Vasco and Eric on Eric's 24th birthday:

There was the process of stripping years of paint off a metal door. I documented it in pics but the memory of the chemical fumes seems to have kept me from outlining this business.

I attended this vernissage at the Consulate General of Argentina. I had just left the gym, and after two glasses of Argentine red wine, and seriously dehydrated, I almost passed out and stumbled out into the cold air and into a Duane Reid for water without saying goodbye to Raul(whose work was terrific) or John. (Raul and his partner John bookend Ken who sings in Mystery Date, and two of their friends)

In testament to the frivolous usage of post-retirement free time, I made repeated videos of the inside of our kitchen waste paper basket lined with a plastic bag. Here’s a still from that nonsense:

I really should have written about the “Channel gardens” at Rockefeller Center so called because they lie in the space between La Maison Francaise and the British Empire Building, and, about its benches installed at the recommendation of “Project for Public Spaces” after the management of the Center asked them to recommend ways to discourage the public from sitting on the stonework of the fountain. Their reply: ”Are you guys nuts? That is exactly what a plaza is supposed to make people do: linger. Don’t discourage this. Add benches!”.

This was a year of fun with Photoshop. Among the things I didn’t post is this before/after shot of Lynette who had coveted my eyebrows and received them for Christmas with some additional bling and extentions.

I’ve kept this odd picture of something I saw in a men’s room in Central Park.

In Savannah, C and I sat in a cafĂ© on Ogilvie Square. En route to and from the restroom, I overheard two gay men conversing about a pit bull and the terms of probabtion. I reported the conversation to C who said he hadn’t known that pitbulls got probation. The record of their conversation and ours illustrated how men quickly go crazy in places like Savannah and why we could like living there. I can’t find my record of that.

After having received a Rufus Wainwright DVD entitled “Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! Does Judy! Judy! Judy! Live from the London Palladium”, I wrote a review wondering how anyone could possibly admire Mr. Wainright who is largely tone-deaf and who treated the infinitely more talented Lorna Luft with what looked like contempt while she was on stage with him. He can’t sing. He can’t perform. He doesn’t understand any of the songs in this concert. I just. Don’t. Get. It. In disgust, I trashed the review.

I also ditched a record of a conversation over dinner with C, P and B at Seasons 52 in which I claimed to have reached a new level of maturity by not insisting on sex with only handsome men, claiming that once a person has been repeatedly “to the mountain”, sex is more about sensation only and is not contingent upon the look of the chosen participant. I was immediately set upon by all three who tore this argument to shreds despite my heroic attempt to save my own flag.

I had also thought to post more frequently about the sale of our Sol Lewitt painting that Christie’s will auction in New York on January 15th. Buzz must be generated. This was encouraging.

I had often thought to post that which first came through the finger tips when presented with the freundlich daily keyboard over the last 365:
a) about sex: its availability, its meaning, its drudgeries, its exhilarations and its curiosities
b) about age: its relentlessness, its cruelty, its prattling arguments and its vanquishing.
c) About money: its annoyance, its limitations, its evaluations and my divorce from its future
d) About work: but I’ve rather forgotten what it was like.
e) About God: who often dies and is reborn in my head depending on the traffic and what I may have eaten.
f) About love: but this I did wrestle into word once or twice.

But for a nicer conclusion to the year, I’ll simply post us in Fort Lauderdale on Christmas. Let all this lay where I can find it under the dust of the years to come.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I wanted Cha Cha Heels

Every year, BJ posts this, and every year I wait for it.

PS: Tonight we are relaxing in Daytona Beach and if this doesn't become the next gay mecca well I just don't know what will. Wonderfully quirky downtown-by-the-sea with dozens of leather shops and lots of affordable "old-style" Florida homes and not a single McMansion.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Governors Island

What would you have proposed if given the opportunity to develop a 172 acre island a half mile off the tip of Manhattan?

Don’t give that too much thought because the selection of a plan has been this week announced, with Diller Scofidio hitting another New York City homer (if they continue this streak, surely other architects will claim they are using performance enhancing drugs and are spraying their proposals with HGH.

Their plan is admirable while not what I would have proposed, but, as is the case with their plans for the Highline and the Railyards, these guys know their customer: not the end user but the elected and appointed public sector officials who make the decisions about the usage of land like this. They do their best to suggest features that will appear indisputably as beneficial to the constituency. Their solutions are never radical but always contain one or two “daring” elements. In this case, I really like the idea that debris from the military buildings to be demolished will be used to build “mountains” on the otherwise flat surface of the island that will allow for the viewing of the nearby Statue of Liberty. I also like the idea that there will be a fleet of free bicycles available to all visitors.

What would I have proposed? An all-season pleasure dome. A red-light district safely removed from the tiresome NIMBY issues of Manhattan. A place of exotic and wild preservation that would serve up the replenishment of weary bodies. I looked to Shakespeare’s The Tempest as my inspiration:

The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place, and fertile…Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not…Let me live here ever…this place paradise…you sun-burn.d sicklemen of August weary, Come hither from the furrow, and be merry: Make holiday: your rye-straw hats put on, and these fresh nymphs encounter everyone…Where the bee sucks, there suck I: In a cowslip’s bell I lie: There I couch when owls do cry. On the bat’s back I do fly, after summer merrily…this is as strange a maze as e’er men trod…

Oh well, if we are always to be denied a place where guilty pleasures are allowed, bicycles are the next best thing.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The early birds don't catch the worm.

Maybe we did leave this party too early. Looks like the director/star eventually showed up and rewarded the guests for their patience.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Check it out.

A very pleasant gentleman named Scott Miller (who was at this party last Saturday) offered me a peek at this. It's a preview of next month's InTheLife, and it contains a very fine section about entrapment. Check it out.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The perfect Christmas party

There are mountains of books about how to give a great party, none of which can guarantee you much success, but when it works, the results are indelible. And so it is that we annually and covetously await our invitation to Bob and Ray’s tree trimming party. (Once on their list, the only way to be dropped is to leave this world, and even those who have made that transition are remembered by ornaments on the gigantic tree at the center of the dream-sized Chelsea penthouse loft that is their home.) This is proof that the do-it-yourself approach is still best. No bartender. No caterer. Vats of savory beans. Thick slabs of ham. Brownies that elicit a cheer when they are brought forth. And, if there was music playing, I didn’t hear it above the happy din of the crowd. (Don't squint. Click it, and you may have to look twice at the startling Santa-with-elf ornament in the upper right corner.)

This year, we brought with us Joe and Jean-Louis ( an eligible Jewish MD! And doesn’t that phrase stir the heart of a yenta like me!)

There are some people we see only at this party, such as Ethan (on the left) whom we’ve known for many years, and who had with him a new boyfriend. That, the hosts will tell you, is why they do it: time speeds by so swiftly that whole years pass while we all wonder what has become of friends whom we haven’t kept up with. This party helps rectify that craziness.

There was much catching-up to be done, the work of which is doubled by the fact that the singular aspect of this party is its Provincetown/New York connection. Most of the guests have roots in one or both communities. Then there is the business of meeting new folks, such as this fellow, whose resume includes a role in a certain prison film. He found and greeted the ornament (near the industrial-size Viagra one!) he had once given Bob and Ray, and, stepped out onto the roof with Joe where the two commiserated about the rigors of cinematic performance and compared talents.

Here with Joe are a massage therapist and his partner who is a Wall Street banker, and two unidentified blondes.

The dear and wonderful Bob and Ray.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Old and Cold

I don’t feel compelled to trash an event that did not live up to expectations, so Friday’s “film debut” in Hell’s Kitchen with its ludicrous 5’X7’ VIP area full of undulating, under-aged and deranged underlings will go unidentified. Do we look bored? We were.

Why can’t anything start early? We held out for two hours till 1AM and the director and cast had still not shown up, nor had the screening begun. The youngsters (many dragging umbilical cords still wet and clamped) seemed happy to wait in the long coat-check line and to pay three dollars for said service and then to swill odd vodka. We must be getting old. No patience for this. No ear for its braying music. We talked about other stuff, and when it became clear that I had no recollection of several experiences I had shared with C and Joe, and when the woofy Max Scott spoke to me and I had no memory of the other times I had met him, I protested that I simply had no room left for new memories and that I hadn’t retained much of the last few years. Joe observed, “No room left on the hard drive?” I nodded. “That means that C is your external hard drive.” I brightened at the convenience of this.

We walk several freezing blocks to the Eagle. The icy wind is so adept at claiming even a fracture of an exposed inch between scarf and collar. I am desperate to go south. Earlier in the week I watched a snowfall. It seemed to euthanize the street, but it will not get me.

C unwrapped a fresh sponge and tossed it into the sink. The sight of it startled me. It seemed so Mediterranean. With paperclip-and-post-it-note sail, and us stowed away.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Subelite, for break-fast or any-time.

From the other room and muffled by a section of New York Times, C sends me a question.

“What does this word mean? ‘Subelite’.”

“Subelite? It’s a type of sound-deadening insulation used in new construction.”

“Be serious. What does it mean?”

“Hmmm. Subelite. Oh yes, I’ve seen the ads. Valerie Bertinelli drank it for one month and she lost thirty pounds. Mostly gas.”

The paper is lowered as I enter the room to receive a glare.

“Check the on-line dictionary”, I suggest.

“I did. There is no such word in English.”

“How are they using it?”

“In the paper, it is used to describe some runners.”

“Oh of course. Subelite runners. They are the ones from sub-Saharan Subelia. Their bones are hollow. They circle the globe, winning marathons and medallions that they mail home to their kinfolk who melt them down and recast them into practical farm implements.”

Again the glare.

We google, and suddenly I realize the problem.

“Oh! It’s ‘sub-elite’. It’s a type of athletic designation. Somewhere below ‘elite’. They just didn’t bother with the hyphen. Lazy New York Times writer.”

“Maybe it doesn’t need a hyphen.”

“According to the dictionary, it doesn’t exist without a hyphen.”

“You know, I was reading a while ago about the hyphen and how it is falling out of usage. Also, about how it is often confused with the ‘dash’.”

“Subelite runners do love their fifty-yard dash.”

Third glare, but I continue.

“I think the hyphen is our friend. Not our best friend, which is the comma, but a very close friend. If anything, like the Germans, I use it all too often. It’s just so helpful when you can’t find the right word but have two or three before you which, when linked, get the idea across.”

C, again behind the wall of paper, wonders, “How long before ‘subelite’ shows up in the dictionary, do you think?”.

“Usus quam penes arbitium est, et ius et norma loquendi.”*

I can’t see it, but I know I have received a fourth glare. C has now used up his effective daily glare-quota.

*Usage trumps rules, in the governance of speech.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Die Mommie Die!

Have you ever cheated on a diet? Eaten ice cream late at night while counting down the weeks to the beach? If so, the feeling you go to bed with is exactly the way I always feel when I attend a Charles Busch play. Guilty. Shouldn’t I be at something more classical? More serious?

Sorry. I’m over this guilt and I’m quite willing to say that I’ll go to anything Charles Busch offers up. He’s so terrifically reliable when it comes to laughs, and, so capable of clawing his way (in heels and wig, no less) up and out of that otherwise dreadful heap of drag and camp that continues to pass as entertainment.

Maybe it’s his wit or maybe it’s his timing. Even that speculation makes me again feel a bit guilty in my admiration. Shouldn’t a good play be more than a collection of clever lines and facial manipulations? Shouldn’t a well-designed room be more than its carefully chosen furnishings? Sure. There’s got to be some edible glue to it all, and that is really what separates Charles Busch from other men in dresses. I don’t feel guilty about being swept up into the human machinery of his stories. I don’t feel guilty about trailing his characters with fascination as they prowl the stage, and I doubt I’ll ever stop moving to the left or right in my seat to dodge the head in front of me so as not to miss the sight of his face as he delivers the next line.

Little David, Aaron, Joe and I saw his “Die Mommie Die!” last night and I found it thoroughly satisfying. I felt equally satisfied a few years back seeing his “Shanghai Moon”. I don’t think that either of these plays is as good as “You Should Be So Lucky” which remains my favorite, despite the fact that I think the entire “talk show” section will need to be rewritten if and when this play is revived (and I have more than once begged Michael, the director of the Hartford Stage Company, to do just that – revive it, I mean).

And that brings me to one final guilt about liking a Charles Busch play. Can any of them be staged successfully without Mr. Busch himself playing those parts he so perfectly originates and inhabits? Maybe, but wouldn’t another actor have to mimic Mr. Busch’s movements and expressions and intonations in order to make the characters work as well, if not better? If so, isn’t this a weakness? I don’t have an answer to that question, and, I never saw “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife”, which would have let me see how well his work sustains itself when out of his nightly reach.

If you’re in town, forget the diet and go see “Die Mommie Die!”. You won’t regret it.

PS: If you go to his website, linked above, and read the NY Times interview/tour of his home, you come to one of his best lines. When discussing his never-used kitchen, Charles Busch says “I don’t cook. I eat like an old chorus girl. I’ll open a can of Le Sueur peas and add some mayonnaise.” I bet he instantly switched from his natural speaking voice into a sort of wistful Eve Arden when he said this. (Funny on many levels. Wretched canned peas we all grew up with, wondering about the name on the can. Plus, Lucille LeSeuer, Joan Crawford's real name.) I wonder if his interviewer noticed or understood this. I'm guessing he probably just asked "Can you spell that for me?"

Sin Will Find You Out

After leaving the theater this evening with Little David, and Aaron, Joe was singled out with a message from on high. Alas, while momentarily irritated, he remained unconverted.

PS: We saw the Charles Busch play, "Die Mommie Die!". More on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Walrus

If you would like to understand John Lennon, but have only five minutes to do so, I suggest you go here for some good insight into the man who was killed twenty-seven years and three days ago a few steps from where I am writing this.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Holding On.

The way I see it, we are, each of us, dumped from the Titanic of our births into icy waters. We survive instinctively by clinging to what is nearby, some luckier than others by circumstance, some by strength, and still others by cold-blooded gumption.

I am among those who, while awaiting rescue, trade up to better debris. In childhood, I was supported by careless teachers, unhappy parents, and the lonely respite of the public library. As a young adult, I enjoyed the comfortable floatation of the Church, pulling at my oar half-heartedly while snickering quietly at the drama of my voice. When the dark and starless skies let me know that I was making circles, I took a dive into the passing ship of State, making myself useful dispensing the sterilities of mapless government.

In my early days of safety, I saw many people drown, and secretly I wished to know the foam of the waves that overcame them.

I watch others tread water for the length of their lives, using curious tools to stay above its surface. The morphine of religion. The aquarium of wealth. The fanning gills of sex. The antifreeze of drink. Their sharks never seemed much to care for me, though I would have been easy prey.

Imagine my surprise twenty-four years ago when someone passing took hold of me and pulled himself up and into the listing vessel of my life. Turned about in winter, I felt warmth for the first time. Good and playful work. An ease of course through dire straits. Laughter in the clearing of the drain.

To him I make these words. Happy anniversary, you with your charts and signs and sense of direction. Do not argue with me when I set love between the stem and stern of us and say now we will go this way or that. Hold fast, and sing with me when there is music in the wind. I feel good currents beneath us. Portage to those sunny islands. Soon.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Pornography of Christmas

The entire city is now ablaze with the happy collision of those who crave things and those who sell them, while on the sidelines, the market analysts, like ancient priests examining the daily entrails of beasts, auger the success or failure of this annual battle. Will there be satisfaction by Christmas? Will it be shared by both groups? Are we off to a healthy gallop or has there been some stumbling at the gate?

As I walked through the crowds on the street, I found myself thinking about sexual pornography and my ever-growing immunity to it. Might there be some parallel between that circumstance and my ever-increasing lack of participation in this retail frenzy?

I am not a man without desires. I long for high-ceilinged rooms of classic proportion. The exfoliating rush of white sand underfoot as I run along a beach. Lilac, iris and peony to greet me if and when I am granted another spring. But those fulfillments do not constitute pornography, which addresses a man in his torment and offers respite from an annoying itch. When I brush the last of the snow off the branches of my lilac and inspect its buds for some swelling, I do not itch. I hope.

Pornography provides an amplification of what we see in those dreams that make us restless. The color saturation of its images is ratcheted beyond the natural. The music, the ornaments and the lights of this season certainly fit that portion of the definition.

Pornography also involves speed and the provision of an adequate route to relief. It is always a means to an end. It is volcanic by nature and has no back burner for the simmering. I apply this fact to the racing of the shoppers knocking shoulders while counting the days and I am satisfied with the strength of my comparison.

Red is the official color of sexual pornography and it is also the prevailing color of Christmas. To “see red” is to lose control in either case.

Out of the crowd and waiting for the elevator in the silence of my lobby, I remind myself that pornography is probably inevitable. Until a man has consumed all he can contain, until he has tasted the fruit of each and every tree and until those trees should all be barren, there will be pornography. Its grasp is weakened with the dimming of eyesight, the creaking of joints or the privileges and lessons of a picaresque life. I suppose then that I am the ghost of your Christmas Future, an old man parked under the glittering tree at the center of the mall, telling you that you really do not want that.

Don't go here

if you have promised yourself that you would not add any more blogs to those you already don't have time enough to read.
Here's a guy who simply doesn't dumb it down, and still manages to engage and entertain and enlighten. I don't know anything about him, but got to him through RJ. I wonder if our word "grim" comes from "grimoire" coming, as he says, from grammar. I really didn't want to learn anything new for the rest of the year (in prep for going south to Braindeadlia), but that is now entirely spoiled by the linked post, and also by what he writes about Rome and the Borghese galleries. Pick any category on his sidebar. Awesome, dude. (Although, in this post, I do wish he had linked this kind of Mannerism to Pornography.)