Friday, February 29, 2008

The House Guest has arrived.

Like a songeant Raphael cherub peacefully restored to his Paradise Past

At Java Boys, with sticky buns.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Remembering Simmie Williams, Jr.

A group of between 100-200 angry community leaders, voracious reporters and bewildered locals gathered at the corner of the 1000 block of Sistrunk Blvd in a downtrodden part of Fort Lauderdale this afternoon to remember young Simmie Williams, Jr. and to call for an end to anti-gay violence.

(Matt Foreman gave me a special video message for the readers of Joe.My.God.)

Michael Emanuel Rajner, the National Community Organizer of NAPWA (National Association of People with AIDS), spoke, and comforted the family of the young man murdered near the location of today's memorial.

Community activist, Waymon Hudson was present.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tater's cherries

Tater, the food-porner, made this photo of some Ranier cherries in what appear to be pewter cups. I liked it and thought it might be useful for some pastel practice. Here are four stages to date. Why is it so difficult to see a thing? And even more difficult to make your hand say what you see. Words are so much easier.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Architecture 101

If I were teaching design, perhaps in a high school, I think that on the first day of class, I'd distribute this comparison of Manhattan's Flatiron Building and Fort Lauderdale's condo complex called the Nautical Towers, and I would ask the class to write about why one works and the other does not. I'd also ask them to suggest improvements to the one that does not work. (No points for suggesting that it be demolished.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fort Lauderdale Sunset

I stepped outside at half past six and looked to the west. In the distance, Wilton Manors was turning on its festive Friday night lights. Nearby, the sound of Miles Davis drifted up like sweet smoke from someone's yacht, and I can clearly follow the conversations of Canadians walking home from the beach on the sidewalk many stories below, their soft voices running up the walls of this stuccoed slab.   I wonder if they can hear my "Bon soir". I don't think this aural canyoning works in reverse. Still eighty-two degrees and probably won't drop much. Red sky at night, sailors' delight.


Lab reports back. Benign, like me. Still, I'm sticking with the SPF30 at next week's Winter party.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Ikean understand it"

J'adore my new 100% cotton towels from IKEA. They are navy on one side and bleu-de-travail on the other, and just the right size for the gym bag and for waist wrappage while walking to the showers. With each step, they vent high on the thigh making the wearer more like a Rockette and less like a Hobbit. The hang-loop is thoughtfully attached at the center of one side to prevent floor grazing while drying.

At IKEA, every piece of furniture, every utensil and every household whatever is tagged with a name in the special Ikean language. For instance, my towels are called "TOFTBO" which means "This is not what you came here for but you will buy some anyway." As I walked through the kitchen cabinetry, chair, bed and sofa displays, and learned the names of all the offerings, I began to wonder if in Ikealand there is a disdain for hearth and home. Such nasty names for things designed for comfort. Morgflort. Drabglub. Loorkprut. It is clear to me that the two root words of the Ikean language are "barf" and "splat". The addition of an umlaut or a doubled vowel indicates color or size options.

I have studied my towels' two-sided tags and can now recognize the "fabric of our lives" in eighteen languages, but some of the Ikean abbreviations elude me. Switzerland? Sweden? Hungary?

I washed them before using them and am happy to report that because they were treated with glorpsplurd, their colors didn't run!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"You didn't accept candy from Dorothy."

Dorothy Podber  has died in her East Village apartment at the age of 75. 
(I suggest you skip that linked New York Times obit, and go here for Joy Bergmann's account.)

At one time, she ran a maid service for doctors, gaining access to the keys to their drug cabinets. 

She once visited Andy Warhol, asking him if she could shoot a few of his Marilyns. He agreed. She did, and not with a camera.

The New York Times obit editors cropped this photo at Ms. Podber's knees, but here she is, boots and all.

photo by Joy Bergmann

Monday, February 18, 2008

And yet, I got the point.

Today, I have received an email with the following subject line contents:

Mandatory Nude Presidents Day Party $10

Setting aside the issues of misplaced modifiers and lack of an apostrophe next to the "s" (either before or after, depending upon how many you wish to honor), I wondered if, in this context, "Party" might signal an affiliation. If so, ten bucks is cheap for the opportunity to win over some superdelegates. Can't imagine Hillary and Barack skipping this one.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tennis anyone?

Today I attended the Fort Lauderdale "Clay Court Classic 2008" hosted by the South Florida Tennis Club. This event is to gay tennis players what a circuit party is to, well, circuit party boys. I had read about this on the blog of BrettCajun.

I contacted Brett, a very handsome Louisiana charmer, for details, and decided to view the happenings with an eye to resurrecting my game. In Rome, I played on clay a few times a week for four years. Back in the states, I took up racquetball, a less graceful game and murder on the lower back. Gave that up two years ago.

The Veltri Tennis Center was crawling with an international array of athletic gay men!

Brett tore up the court in his singles match against a fierce New Yorker. The only downside to his win is the fact that he progresses to the next round which means being ready for play tomorrow at 9:30AM. These guys go to bed early.

And how could I turn down an invitation to visit the locker room? All in the interest of complete reportage.

(PS: A note to Brett's partner back in New Orleans: No, we didn't.)

UPDATE: Brett wins his Sunday morning match and moves up to the semi-finals. He's up against the #1 seed at 2:30PM.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Skating in Hugh Taylor Birch Park, Fort Lauderdale

Earlier today

Liquid Sky

Joey posted this today, and C commented, as I suspected he would.

That brings me back to the night we first met. Standing in a bar in the Wretched Little City, I saw the most beautiful man in the world standing about six feet away from me. I told my friends to back off and shut up because I was going to met this guy and nothing could stop me. They must have sensed my determination and resolve because they and everyone in that crowded and noisy bar except C seemed to dissolve into silence and invisibility. As cue-the-swelling-violinsish as it sounds, I have never experienced anything like that moment.

I don't remember our exact first words, but within a minute I learned that he had just been to see a movie called "Liquid Sky". He asked me if I had ever seen it.

I had never heard of this movie, but that did not stop me from saying that I had indeed seen it. I then delivered a spectacular thirty minute review of a film I knew nothing about. How was this accomplished? Easily. You employ the subtle tricks that fortune tellers have used for centuries. You start with some safe, general comments and build on the specific responses you get from your "client", until he says "Yes! Yes! That's exactly it!."

Keep in mind also that I had always been a great believer in what F. Scott Fitzgerald painted in Gatsby, made especially clear in the introductory verse by Thomas Parke Dinvilliers:

"Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her,
If you can bounce high; bounce high for her
Till she cries "Lover, gold-hatted,
high-bouncing lover, I must have you!""

Years went by before I admitted to him that I had never even heard of Liquid Sky. We went to see it. We own it.

Lads, you do what you have to do when you have to do it.

(And Happy Birthday, Baby, "Apple pie, apple pie...")

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Word to the Wise

I have always been a sun worshipper, and am now paying what will probably be a small price, perhaps nothing greater than the annoyance of this bandage and the temporary spot on the bridge of my nose. A visit yesterday to my dermatologist entailed her spritz-freezing the spot on my nose, and doing a biopsy of the one just above the brow. Last year, she sprayed two tiny spots with her handy cannister of nitrogen and told me to start using sun block, and I faithfully have, but two new spots have appeared and she tells me that they are most likely the result of many years of over-exposure. She is not really concerned, but did the biopsy just to be on the safe side.

Every time she left the room to attend to other patients, I jumped up and perused a rack of brochures touting a variety of treatments to erase wrinkles, discolorations and all other age-related vexations. If I had it to do all over again, I'd sit in the shade. This is most likely nothing serious, but I am just a tiny little bit on the vain side, and this bandaid will mean I'm staying home tonight watching American Idol while reapplying ointment.

Ra, this is how you repay decades of adoration? You are an evil god.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Spoon River Anthology

by Edgar Lee Masters.

She was my favorite:

Lucinda Matlock

I WENT to the dances at Chandlerville,
And played snap-out at Winchester.
One time we changed partners,
Driving home in the moonlight of middle June,
And then I found Davis.
We were married and lived together for seventy years,
Enjoying, working, raising the twelve children,
Eight of whom we lost
Ere I had reached the age of sixty.
I spun,
I wove,
I kept the house,
I nursed the sick,
I made the garden, and for holiday
Rambled over the fields where sang the larks,
And by Spoon River gathering many a shell,
And many a flower and medicinal weed--
Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green valleys.
At ninety--six I had lived enough, that is all,
And passed to a sweet repose.
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you--
It takes life to love Life.

T, P & C.

photo by The Ninth Circle of Helen

Monday, February 11, 2008

Robert Fontanelli has a Drawn-out Birthday.

I have spent the entire day making an “imovie” with music and Ken Burns effects and all the usual blings for your consumption. If it's a bit rough, well, it's my first have-at.

The subject of said movie is Robert Fontanelli’s Birthday Drawing Party held at the Zipper Theater in New York City on Sunday.

Such fun! Guests were invited to sketch live models who delivered a comique-burlesque theme. I felt as if transported to Marseilles or perhaps Gustavia on St. Bart’s. Adjacent to the theater was an open bar and an exotic buffet for those who did not draw, or needed restoration. Robert, an artist and art director, assembled a superb event to which we were delighted to have been invited.

We wandered into the theater where some skilled artists were hard at work. Unaccustomed to sketching while observed, we shrugged off shyness and selected a couple of tablets. I chose four soft pencils, and C selected a set of pastels. I had to work fast and loose to keep up with the shifting tableaux. Enjoyable and in the result you'll find evidence of my usual tendency to exaggerate.

C embarked on an ambitious rendering of an enormous scarlet brassiere.

We were delighted to find a dear friend in attendance. David Carino, whom we know from our Provincetown years, is an artist (and now a writer). He, like us, has relocated to NYC. David reads this blog. Remind me to tell you all about that time above the Schoolhouse Gallery one summer afternoon while the screen door announced tourists, and the Irish Setter snored… What? You think you’ve read my complete memoirs? Think again, dears. You haven’t touched the tip of the iceberg.

Happy Birthday, Robert!

And, so much bigger on Youtube (farmboyz) which Blogger doesn't seem to want to show.

On Friday Feb 9th

C got into town and came by to see the view from my office and to meet R, the reader of this blog who hired me. ( Monday and Tuesday were foggy, and it wasn't until Wednesday that I realized my office is on the east side of the building and that I was looking at Brooklyn/Queens, not New Jersey. Duh.

It sure isn't the Wretched Little City, is it? I love my new gig. The week flew by without a single moment that was less than entirely enjoyable. On Saturday night, we met R and his partner D at Posh where we could not hear ourselves think. We left for the Eagle where we knew we'd have a quiet hour before the crowds arrived. R & D are delightful men (and very good looking. If it wasn't for the work relationship between R and me...well, ya'll know how the Farmboyz do sometimes get carried away, but never to the point of stupidity. As Kate Hepburn said in The African Queen, "Human nature is that which we were put on this earth to rise above.") and let this be a lesson to anyone who doubts the value of even a little boutique blog like this. You never know who is reading and what opportunities may be had and what great guys you may meet as a result of the faint signals you daily bleep out of your remote corner of the galaxy. R deflects it when I say that I owe him big time, but I can't thank him enough for choosing me.

Back to Friday. I took C to dinner at a Mexican restaurant, Dos Caminos, where we ordered the guacamole as hot as the fire marshall would allow. After dinner, I took him to see Deep Trance Behavior in Potatoland, a Richard Foreman play that had caught his attention. I expected to loathe it and therefore felt especially good about arranging this as a birthday gift. Turns out, I liked it more than did C. Having read the linked review, I thought it would be just another shallow wallowing in electronic technique in which the real play is secondary to the pyrotechnics, but it surprised me (me, who likes only about 5% of anything). We both recommend it. It's playing at the Ontological-Hysteric Theater at St. Mark's Church through mid-April.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Saturday Brunch with the Damnations

This whirlwind of a weekend is far from over, and monday is for sorting it out and posting the rest of it, but I couldn't wait to share this moment we spent in Brooklyn with the Enchantress and her man (an incredibly attractive heterosexual!) More to come.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Persevering Controversies?

Father Massa is either a bumbler or a very intelligent wordsman.

In this article about the Pope's revisioning of Good Friday prayers, resurrecting supplications (suppressed in the 1960's) that express fervent hopes that the Jews will see the error of their ways and come to accept Jesus as their savior, he is quoted as saying that we have "persevered other controversies".

At first read, I thought he had probably meant to say that we had survived, resolved or endured other controversies. At second read, I wondered if perhaps he really meant what the common usage of "persevere" carries: that we would "ride out" this controversy, as does one the common cold, getting through it without curing it, until it goes away. At third read, I began to wonder if "persevere" has an essential and root meaning that has been lost in common usage, and if, meaning "to cut through", it is supposed to take an object. If so, bravo, adroit Father Massa.

Alas, according to Merriam-Webster, the verb is intransitive and does not mean cutting through anything. It means "to persist". Father Massa is really fueling the flames of unecumenical insult by saying that we Catholics have been successfully recalcitrant in past controversies and we shall be thus in this one.

In any case, his reminding the Jews that only a few people will be saying this offensive prayer, and that most of them won't understand it because it is in Latin, is laughable. So much for the power of individual personal prayer, I guess. Hey Father Massa, ever hear of the widow's mite? Mighty hilarious stuff made less amusing because it comes from the mouth of the German B16.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


After my workout, while knotting the towel around me, I take a look through the long glass window of the sauna to see what I am in for before entering. Four of the usual suspects were seated on the two perpendicular benches.

There’s the pasty upper-middle aged guy who likes to talk money and has been daily predicting the ruination of anyone foolish enough to think that the dollar in his pocket will be worth a dime on tomorrow’s headlines. He seems to have been drained of whatever ruddy color he may once have retained. A drizzle of white hair frightened away from a blanched banker’s face. His knobby knees spread apart to reveal a sleepy little vagabond dick that seems to have crept into a pale nest to nap next to a couple of bleached quail eggs.

There’s the tiny Asian man also lost in mid-life but with a boy’s slender and smooth body, and the sweet haircut of a Catholic school lad circa 1955. His towel is wrapped twice about him with ritual neatness and his eyes roam the ceiling. He rarely speaks, but the other three know him to be an active listener.

There’s the black man with the pendulous breasts and the twenty-ounce spray bottle of water with which he frequently douses the glowing coils. Some say he is crazy for he spends many hours in this locker room without holiday. Some say he has lived on an upper floor in a single room for decades and that he never ventures outdoors. That he lives by vending machine and disability check. But, mention baseball in his presence, and all will fall silent as he speaks. He knows everything there is to know about its history, and his opinions about its living players are irreproachable.

There’s the Hispanic fellow, a remnant of an athlete with good looks still peeking through the folds of time. Lean and powerful legs supporting a torso that seems to be stretched over a padded square end table, perhaps one of a pair that had once flanked a sofa. The droop of what had once been a massive chest rests on this ungainly cube and sometimes I check it out for white rings left by beer mugs or maybe party mix crumbs from the watching of a game on TV. While he talks, he runs his hands constantly over this bloated cube as if mystified about how it came to contain his viscera, while just below it, the strangled bright purple head of his dick occasionally surfaces, gasping for air. This guy is a storyteller of high rank, and we leave him in mid-memory only when the heat of the sauna overrides our curiosity about what he will recall next.

As I push open the door, Whitey is in mid-sentence.

“Asperagus’ll do it. And broccoli. Yeah, broccoli will make make your piss smell somethin’ awful.

“Oh yeah? Broccoli too?” answers the Cube.

Baseball grunts in agreement, and I wonder how he would know this, given that his food choices are limited to things sealed in mylar and fished out of a slot after pressing E5.

“And beets!” says Whitey.

“Oh Jesus, beets” whistles the Cube. “I ate beets once and I had blood in my urine. Jesus Christ, I had to go to the hospital. I was there for three weeks. Three. Weeks. Blood every time I pissed.”

“Was it really blood or just red from the beets?” wonders Whitey.

“Oh it was blood. Hell, yes it was. They kept me in there for a month. Couldn’t figure out what was wrong. All them doctors lookin at me.” The cube lifts a hand off his gut and strokes his chin to imitate a doctor looking perplexed. He continues.

“And every day them nurses would come to my room and draw blood. Two. Three times a day. And I hated it. I was just a kid. Think I was seven years old. And the only way I could deal with those needles was to tell myself that I loved it. And I’d see that nurse comin at me and I hold out my arm and say ‘Here it is! Stick it in.’ You know I just convinced myself that I really loved it cuz that was the only way I could deal with it. I hated that place but after a few weeks I told myself that I had to make myself think that I loved it and that the hospital was better than being at home and that is how I survived it until my daddy came and took me out of there because not one of those doctors could figure out what was makin me piss blood. Six years old and then it went away and I never had that problem again.”

This is where I enter the conversation. They know I don’t make small talk and that I will always wait until something captures my curiosity to the point where I can’t remain aloof. They don’t at all mind this dynamic. In fact, I think they unconsciously ratchet up their fabling to see how much it will take to break me down.

“I find it rather hard to believe that a six or seven year old would know how to practice that kind of mental positioning to deal with a traumatic situation. Did someone tell you to do that?”

“Hell no. My idea.”

“Well then you were a most precocious child.”

“Yes I was.” Says the cube proudly. “Had me my first woman when I was four years old. Or, she had me is how it was.”

“Really? And how old was she?”

“Oh, she was my age, maybe a little older. But she had this older sister, see, and that one was telling her what to do and they both were always trying to get my stuff but they had this little toy airplane that I wanted. So the deal was I’d let em play with what they wanted but they had to let me play with that airplane, and damn if I didn’t know it even then. Give it if you wanna get it. That’s how them bitches work. That’s how they all work. I knew it even then. Yeah I started early. I was dancing at the Audubon Ballroom up on 165th Street and I wasn’t even half legal. And then down at the Palladium. All hookers there. But they knew I loved to dance and I was a real good dancer. I remember one night this cop comes in and he’s gonna raid the place and he flashes this silver badge. And three guys dancing with the ladies look at him and they flash their gold badges and tell him to shut up and drop it. But they let him stick around and never had any more trouble. I remember one of them ladies. Name Lupe. I saw her thirty, forty years later. She married a lawyer. He knew what she was, but he didn’t care. She was something. Thirty, forty years and she’s still living high on Central Park South. Still lookin good, but she had a price like all them bitches. You gotta give something to get something. That’s how it works. Bitches.”
“Bitches” echoes Whitey.
“Bitches” whispers Baseball to the floor between his feet.
And the Asian gives up his one word of the day to the ceiling, “Bitches.”
They reverently and silently share the different but probably similar memories of the women in their lives. Women who were to them like sea monsters described by sailors who came back alive from treacherous voyages. Women so enthralling that even now each of these men would gladly take to the open sea again for the scent of one. Women, the invoking of whom halts all other words.

I must confess that I love these guys. I love the look of them. The sound of them. Even the smell of the sweat running off their weary shoulders. These are the men, the real ones, who crawled up out of the primordial ooze. Who invented the wheel. Who followed the leader who killed the beast and wore its teeth. Who built the bridge. Who burned the bridge of that other tribe. Who stole their women. Women fated to these men. For dancing. For company. For coupling and for the fathering of men like me. How could I not love them all, these awful men and their wonderful bitches? I am all of them. I am made of them, and will never be more than them.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

West Chelsea art

As we are wont to do of a Saturday, we walked through twenty or so galleries on 21st through 24th Streets. We saw some good stuff, some bad stuff and some amusing stuff. Enlivening.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

An Army of Beautiful but Nervous Young Men.

He's dead.

I was fascinated by his seminarians. In Rome, I'd see them in their Mercedes bus, perfectly dressed in clerical garb and reading their breves on the way to the Gregorian University while we of the American college walked the route in our jeans, smoking and stopping for coffee/and. They were so handsome, and all cut from the same heartbreakingly gorgeous cloth. He had hand-picked them. Thick shiny and wavy black hair identically and neatly cut. Square jawed. High cheek bones under dreamy sad eyes. Broad shouldered. Kept in regimentally perfect shape. Large hands turned the pages of those prayer books nestled in the smoldering laps of their athletic bodies. I'd always catch the eye of one or another of them and in that instant, he would know that I knew what no one was supposed to know.