Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tomorrow on Bilerico: "Circumcision: a cut above the rest, or, the cruelest cut of all?"

You'll have to go to Bilerico tomorrow after noon for my response to this:

Dear Father Tony, I read where you were at a dinner party where circumcision was discussed. I just had to tell you that my parents, my brother, his pregnant wife and me had a big knock down last night about this! My brother wants the kid cut. I said it was stupid. Let the kid decide when he is old enough to know what he wants for his own penis. My parents just shrugged when we asked them why they had us cut. They just did what everyone else did. My mother doesn't even remember the doctor asking her. Then my sister-in-law dropped the bomb. She said that her husband/my brother wants his kid to look just like him. My brother said yes, that's why he wants it and then he said that I only care about it because I'm gay!!! Now we are not talking!!
Cut in Arkansas

Update: It's up. taste it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Andrew Holleran Below Sea Level

I do not admire him just because his newly published first novel, given to me thirty years ago by an older priest, instantly became my bible, guidebook and lexicon. I admire him because his writing is of the sort that demands to be read aloud. I place him among those authors (William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Flannery O’Connor, Dorothy Allison, and, most recently, Andrew O’Hagan) who know how to couple words so that their progression feels as good as their meaning. I have always felt that his writing has cadence and music meant to be performed, and I do love to recite him. (Just ask my husband.) That is also why I moaned my objection when he told me that Dancer from the Dance has been movie optioned. “They’ll never get it right” I wailed. Remember Robert Redford as Gatsby trying to say “old sport”?

In the minutes before contacting Andrew Holleran, I zenned myself into the proper frame of mind by focusing on the fact that everything a man builds is a partial replica of himself in its intention, design and functionality. Consider the pushy but stumblish American car, rabid capitalism and the frustrating and vulnerable hard drives of our computers. The six books of Andrew Holleran, what do they show us of the design and current condition of that man’s heart? And now that his heart is a survivor and an elder among the gay literary gladiators, has it changed? Is it stony? Black? Hidebound? Relaxed? Mournful? Bitter? Curious? Sedated? Dormant? Malleable? I had to know this. Curious about the man so obviously lurking within his own words and yet so meticulously invisible, I rang him up, having received his gracious assurance of an interview.

While his telephone rang, I felt uneasy, thinking that once I heard his voice I might want to retreat, as should have Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now, having gone upstream beyond help and flanked by heads on spears in some nightmarish jungle only to find his quarry mumbling about the horror over the voodooish backdrop of blaring hard rock.

Throughout our conversation, I detected no chaotic music in the background, no painted faces, no smell of napalm in the morning. I do believe that one can see with clairvoyance into a strange room via the ordinary telephone by listening to that which one does not hear. I did not detect the echo of a large lacquered salon. Andrew Holleran seemed unnursed by television or small yappy dog. He seemed not to be preparing or swallowing food. He seemed not to be self-medicating or engineering inebriation (no tinkling ice or lighter flicks, and I guess that tells you much about the type of folks with whom I usually converse). I did get the impression that his eyes probably blink while he speaks disciplined by a traditional phone tethered to an outlet that does not facilitate multi-tasking. I had the distinct impression that he was, while speaking, looking through a large window at some greenscape that might apron his home and translate public to private movement. He did confirm that our chat might be concluded by the arrival of a friend and that until such time, he would be free. I decided that the friend was a fiction, the time of whose arrival would determine my success or failure at entertaining him or at least making him willing to participate in an unpredictable production.

We talked for more than two hours.

During that time, he very carefully derailed my intentions and in subsequent email, he wondered how I could have gotten anything out of a conversation in which I did most of the talking and he the listening.

Well, Andrew Holleran, there are clever ways to probe the truth of a man. Trained by the Vatican, I am particularly fond of that strain of diplomacy practiced by Pope John XXIII. In the company of heads of state, he’d prattle on with what seemed like the silly gossip of an air-headed old man, all the while shrewdly observant and calculated in his white cassock (like Lieutenant Columbo in his white trench coat?) extracting what he wanted to know from his visitors. Rather than rely on the visibilities of those with whom he conversed (think the digital eyeball read-outs of Schwarzenegger’s Terminator), he would simply slog on disarmingly, but with better take-home.

I’ll make no hiding of the fact that I have always wanted to know his heart. Maybe this is because his brilliant Dancer from the Dance hit me at time in my life when I was exactly as old as its characters and full of the same yearning for love and all its distracting handmaidens: sex, style, the city, beauty, security, music. I told him that when I first read that book, I kept slamming it shut, frustrated by the fact that I knew – and had always known – that those men, the ones who populate it, were living somewhere in New York City, and that they were my natural family, and that as a princess sheltered in Connecticut, I didn’t know how to find them. My New York compass contained Bloomingdales, Sacks 5th Avenue and Grand Central Station and some vague marking of a distant place called Christopher Street.

Where others reviewed the book as a cruel skewering of sad, frivolous, glib and urbane gay men on drugs surrendering their youth to lust, I felt the opposite. That these were the champions of love, and that someday both they and love itself would find me, and that it would be in the person of Malone or one of his Puerto Rican angels or the Midwestern heir to a grain fortune.

I decided not to bother asking Andrew Holleran about this. Only a daffy TV personality would wonder whether or not Andrew Holleran loved or pitied or despised his characters. Of course he loved them. He was one of them. He danced with them, he yearned for romance and happiness with them.

He did everything but die with them.

This I needed to know: is Andrew Holleran’s heart a shipwreck, crisping in the harsh sun of that beach of gasping old men? Is it sclerotic with the deaths of others? Is he all just Flores para los muertos, wandering his own private necropolis as some have claimed after having read his Grief?

I decided that the best way to see his heart in action would be to put the body of God on the table between us, offer Andrew Holleran a weapon, and see what he’d do with it. I ventured the fact that many of my gay friends no longer believe in God. Some are adamant atheists. How about you, Andrew Holleran? Do you pray? If so, what for? Do you think you will see your friends again, those whom you have lost?

As do I, he began painting his response with the caution that what we might pine for ought to be understood as different from what actually happens to us when we die. I agree with this distinction. My vision, on a good day, is of a welcoming god surrounded by old friends, in a Maxfield Parrish setting. On a more realistic day, there is only the waiting vacuity. He resolved the question with his overriding suspicion that there is actually nothing beyond the grave, and that if that nothing includes god, we ought to question the merit of prayers that might be continued simply because they make us feel good.

His voice was spirited and jovial throughout our conversation, and at times, he hooted with laughter when we spoke of the old days, of our ways at the baths, of our times in New York, of our having become startlingly older and knowing that you should not often revisit those places you once loved too well.

Via email, I pursued the business of God and death with five questions:

1) What does one live for, if one doesn't believe in god or an
afterlife the quality of which is determined by our performance on earth?

AH: I think we live simply because we have been brought to life, and simply staying awake as long as we can to find out why is reason enough - which to me is the worst part about death, the cessation of the possibility of knowing.

2) What does one live for if one is single with no foreseeable change to that status, or, single and making no effort to change that status?

AH: I don't think you need to be partnered to enjoy or love life, or to have an effect on other people, or to be a good citizen. There are times when I do think living by yourself, and, certainly, for yourself, is totally pointless, but, I think single people contribute to life as much as anybody else. There are so many ways of loving, and things one can love.

3) There seemed to be happiness in your voice. What is the source of it, or did I read your voice incorrectly?

AH: I suspect happiness is temperamental, or at least gusto is. I have known people who should be so depressed given the blows they have sustained but are unfailingly cheerful, and I know people who should be happy, given their circumstances, and are depressed. I love Lincoln's line: A man is about as happy as he makes his mind up to be. You know there are people at Harvard and no doubt other places studying happiness. and one theory is that people have a sort of fixed temperature to which they always return, no matter what happens to them - like a thermostat.

4) I'm almost done with the two "f" decades. (I barely remember the two "t" decades.) You are in the "s" decades. What is that like? What do you hope will happen when you get out of bed?

AH: It's not when you get out of bed - there's always a sense of renewal then - it's waking up in the middle of the night that you face some dark truths. but then the sun comes up - and you want to take another crack at it, though feeling that way I suppose refers back to the answer to the previous question.

5) I see that at the Literary Festival in Fort Lauderdale you'll be reading something from work in progress. Because I won't be there to hear it, will you tell me anything about what you are working on, or about what you will read?

AH: I am pretty sure I'll read a short story I have not published, and I've got so many of those, I'm looking through them now like someone examining her closet wondering what to wear.
p.s. These questions (above) are all so serious, it's refreshing to know someone else cares about them, but the joke is you're the one who should be answering them, not me!

Upon reading his final answer, I wondered if those unpublished stories hang somewhere between the two extremes of Dancer from the Dance and Grief, or are they living in a space beyond them. That remains part of what I did not see or hear of Andrew Holleran. A little bit of mystery dangled from his free hand just out of reach of the phone held in his other hand. If I could have reached through that phone, I certainly would have.

Near the end of our conversation, I said things without premeditation. I heard myself ask him why men build cities like New Orleans and countries like the Netherlands below sea level where the ocean can and will surprise them by rushing in and wiping out all their inefficient defenses. Washing everything clean. Dissembling the structures old and new. Exposing the secrets of attics and dark cellars. Erasing the venerable and the dreadful. Filling up the empty spaces. He answered by saying that the question had merit, but he avoided giving an opinion and in his evasion, and by dint of the immediately evoked arrival of his friend, I heard the answer to my real question about him.

I do not think that Andrew Holleran is safely above the possibility that someday he may be inundated by someone who will love him madly. He may someday be delighted by some new assignment discovered at a bend in his maze. I think that despite his weatherproof quotidian veil, he is un pays bas built on sand that might be easily swamped. I think he is an applecart holding to the smooth pavement but available for the upsetting. I hope that someday someone wonderful and valiant comes along to wreck and renew him, and selfishly, I hope that he will write about it.

Andrew Holleran is the author of

• Dancer from the Dance (1978)
• Nights in Aruba (1983)
• Ground Zero, essays (1988)
• The Beauty of Men (1996)
• In September, The Light Changes, stories (1999)
• Grief: a Novel (2006)

When I asked him if he might consider writing about Malone (the central character in Dancer from the Dance) thirty years older, maybe married, divorced, with two grown sons, living in Madison, Wisconsin and looking like the silver-haired and bespectacled Richard Gere, Andrew Holleran said “No.”

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Park Sloping

On Saturday, we took the Q to Park Slope which is a Brooklyn neighborhood called such, according to my husband, because it slopes down from Prospect Park which, again according to my husband who knows stuff, was the park preferred by Olmstead over Central Park.( More on that and our trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens some other time.) We arrived at Bill Hawley's spacious secret apartment for dinner and good company. There were Stash and Jeff and Frank, two charming dogs, a savory stew, home-baked bread and home-made ice cream. A moment of silent reverence for the departed Bea Arthur was the only break in the chain of lively, including the merits of adult circumcision, sex in the navy, how to define camp and whether to bother, the new influenza in Mexico, Bloomberg's contentious third term, Team New York Aquatics, the Jersey shore and stalking Patrick Stuart. Rule of thumb: when a group of gay men of no previous acquaintance gather for dinner, politics and religion may be avoided, but nothing bonds better than the sharing of coming out stories, especially the ones that involve Jewish or Italian families.

Here are Jeff, C, Bill, Frank, Stash and I.

Nothing tells you more about a man than his refrigerator magnets.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Stonewall Library and Archives - A Must-See in Fort Lauderdale

This library is simply amazing. The video will give you just enough of a glimpse of what's in the archives to make you want to visit again and again. I will.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I looked it up.

Tonight, a very loud crazy man was screaming to himself as he walked up Broadway past Lincoln Center.

"Of course I know that. Rachel Ray's mother. World. War. Two. Rachel Ray, Martha Raye. Who doesn't know that. I know that.

I had to look it up when I got home. She was not. She did however have seven husbands and a daughter whom she named Melodye.

And she once sued Bette Midler and lost.

The things you can learn in this town.

"So take it from a big mouth, new Polident green gets tough stains clean."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gay New Yorkers in Speedos invade Fort Lauderdale

You must go here to read about it.

PS: What a day. First I'm poolside with Jack Mackenroth, then I'm trading email with Andrew Holleran who is accusing me of being a Jesuit, then I'm leafing through vintage porn in the secret archives of the Stonewall Library and then I'm video chatting with my husband while grilling chicken and watching Idol. Una vita strana.

Tomorrow on Bilerico: "When it's a Man's World"

You'll have to visit Bilerico tomorrow after 10:30AM to find my response to the following:

Dear Father Tony,
I was reading Alex Blaze’s post about women in gay bars and I was wondering about where you stand on the issue given the amount of time you spend in them?

UPDATE: It's up. Get on it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Skybar, Shore Club Hotel, so last week

Last time I was in Markslist, I was being mauled by a drag queen from Atlanta. This is so much more respectable. I don't remember these men.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Teabagging: tongue-in-cheek causing hide-'n-seek etymology

I suspect there will be some disagreement with this.

Patti LaBelle on Gay Marriage

You can see my video of Patti LaBelle at Miami beach Gay Pride on Bilerico-Florida.

For the hearing impaired, those in a hushed workplace, those reading on devices that don't handle video and those who want to quote her, I've included the text after the video.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Everyone Has One

Everyone has one: a building coveted but never entered. This is mine. And now it looks like I'll never live in it or even walk through the front door.

When I am in the city, I walk by this building several times a day. We knew it had been carved up into apartments and that the current owner was a young guy who had inherited the place from his father. (That was the gossip on the street anyway.) Before reading the NY Times article, I did not know that the name of the kid's company is "Fun Times". It seemed he was going through the contentious process of flushing the building of long-term low-rent tenants. Late at night, I used to peer through the ornate wrought iron gates laid over glass doors into the fantastic parlor with its whorled staircase. We were enraged when one of those gates was removed and replaced with something simple and ugly, consoling ourselves with the hope that the original was off being restored and would soon reappear. From across the street, I'd envision a rooftop garden/painting studio with Central Park views. On other days, I would locate my monastery there.

If it is going to cost $50,000 a week to stay in 15 W68th St, the most I can hope for will be the dubious privilege of part-time concierge.

All Travel Writers go to Hell? Not Paul Rubio!

In which I go to Lincoln Road and meet a man, a woman and a critter.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I do not sell it.

Over at Chamblee54, the author makes an interesting application of something I wrote about arguing. It made me realize something that I had never really quite understood about myself. This is the comment I left:

I may be atypical, but I have never felt the need or desire to argue religion. I have also never felt the need or desire to market or proclaim the "Good News". I always felt that I was different from many religious people in that way. I always thought that someone would be converted only if he or she felt that there was something irresistible about me that could be traced to some inner spirituality that they would then pursue for themselves. That may be rooted in the fact that nothing - and I mean nothing - that the Catholic Church ever taught me brought me to Jesus. I got there on my own by exposure to what I read of him in the gospels. His words and teachings and parables had all the integrity and truth I needed. The church got it all screwed up. It's like when you are having a really good conversation with someone at a bar or a party and a loud drunk horns in on you and spills stuff on you. That is what the church is between me and Jesus. And that is exactly what the church was not supposed to be. Yup. Catholicism is a loud obnoxious drunk who breaks up the conversation between Jesus and the human race. That is why the Catholic Church needs to be cut down to the root. So it can re-grow itself correctly. It's almost too late, but not quite.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Miami Beach Gay Pride

I hope you will head over to Bilerico-Florida(where I am temporarily the managing editor) tomorrow for my recap of the private kick-off gala for the 2009 Miami Beach Pride celebration with pics and video. The lady Mayor of Miami Beach, Matti Herrera Bower is delightful. Wish there were more like her.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Every Little Step

Last month, I attended a pre-release screening of the movie Every Little Step. I also had an exclusive Bilerico sit-down with the film's two directors. You'll find my review on Bilerico tomorrow. The movie opens tomorrow in NYC and LA.

Update: It's up!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tomorrow on Bilerico: "When you argue, and you will argue...."

You will have to trot over to Bilerico tomorrow at 11:30AM for my video response to the following:

Dear Father Tony,

My partner and I spend all our time together arguing. We try to stop but it's impossible. I dread going home because I know what's waiting. Yesterday he told me that he feels the same. It's just about the only thing we agree on. He also said "You're not the person I moved in with." I think he meant to say "You're not the person I loved" but he couldn't bring himself to say it. We are so tired of this and we want to change it.

DeVane and Moonchild

PS: If you're ever in Miami...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

for more about Jack Wrangler

My husband suggested this NPR interview.
He was quite a fascinator.

And here is Margaret Whiting talking about her relationship with Jack.

From somewhere beyond Pluto

Not really news to us, is it?

As newspapers choke and bloggish aggregators take their place, several things will happen.

1) You'll have many choices. Mainstream media makes it seem as if the death of print news will deprive us of something. I can't think what that would be. Even if my NY Times online disappeared, I'd know where to go for a replacement.

2) Guys like me who write for sites like Bilerico will have to pay more attention to the quality of what we produce. Until recently, I could write a review with the assumption that my product would be like a distant moon in a swirl of more stellar reviews, and that the reader would sample my viewpoint only in addition to the "real" reviews. That will change. Our voices have gained an unexpected legitimacy that is forcing me to be less off-hand and more careful. For instance, doing the red carpet at the GLAAD awards or covering the Winter Party in Miami Beach turned out to be not a lark but something to be more carefully crafted. I wish I could do those events over again. There are now expectations. I'm feeling a little bit like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, and I've done several rewrites of something I am about to dish up: an exclusive interview with the directors of the movie Every Little Step (Friday on Bilerico).

3) Original local content in the hands of a blogger/newser will become gold. For instance, you'll get my interview with Andrew Holleran (next week on Bilerico) or a review of the private kick-off reception for Miami Beach Pride (later this week) or my interview with Jack Rutland who heads up Fort Lauderdale's "gay library" that is having its grand re-opening this week. Ordinarily, a bloggish report would consist of grainy pics and chat with the hot guys in the crowd. These days, I have to do some homework and prep some questions in order to avoid reader-disappointment. The expectations are changing.

4) You will end up getting more, not less, and you can drill down as local as you want to go. I don't even go to the grocery store without my camera. Want to know what is in my kitchen sink and how it reflects the American economic malaise? Not a problem.

One final note. With print media, there was always the arrogance of inaccessibility. You couldn't always get a reporter to cover your event. You couldn't "get through to" an editor if you wanted to comment on something or ask a question. That arrogance has evaporated.

What is most interesting, from my point of view, is the fact that guys like me, who can do this without getting paid, will hold sway for a short time until news delivery is reconfigured. Not that I wouldn't like to get paid. And, if I get bored with this, the sweetest reality is the fact that I can stop whenever I wish, and do something else.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Passover PLOrk

Just got off the phone with C who is in New York.
This is where he'd be dragging me this weekend if I weren't still down south.

I'd be subjected to So Percussion and Matmos with special guest PLOrk. Here's how their show is described on the site:

The sound art duo Matmos (M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel) makes live music and recordings, using the sounds of everything from amplified crayfish nerve tissue, to the pages of bibles turning.

Oy. Sounds tres cajun revival. Apocalypso anyone? Oddly, I think we can do without both of the commas in their sentence, and I think they meant to end with the turning pages of bibles.

Oh but they had me at PLOrk which stands for the Princeton Laptop Orchestra.

I'll be playing the spoons in this kitchen.

Answers to the "Guess" post

Sorry to have forgotten about this.

In the compartments of a container I found in an old warehouse, were these dental molds or appliances.

In the second photo are scarlet quince we grew on the farm. I'd gather them in late summer. They are like tiny pale green apples with no stems separating them from their branches. When kept in a bowl indoors, they release a spicy perfume. Over several months they turn into the rusty wrinkly rocks you see in the photo. I drilled holes through a number of them and strung them into a Wilma Flintstone necklace that I wore with matching suede hush puppies and tie-dyed rayon shirt to thrill the locals at some nervous social event in the Wretched Little City.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Dancing Marines

This is exactly what being in the seminary was like. The only difference is the gear.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tomorrow on Bilerico: "Sex on Gilligan's Island"

You'll have to go to Bilerico tomorrow for my response to the following:

Dear Father Tony,

I'm writing because yesterday a friend of ours said "They have an open relationship" when he introduced us to someone. I didn't like it. It felt weird.

My "husband" and I have been together for twelve years. Yes, we have sex with other men. But we don't "cheat" on each other. We talk about it. It's not like a "free-for-all" thing. We know what NOT to do that would make each other mad. We don't hide it, but really it's nobody's damn business, and I did not like getting introduced that way. But it got me thinking. This weekend, my husband is going to LA. He (we) have been emailing someone we both know who lives there. I'm sure they will have sex, but this is different. It's like dating. He's staying with the guy. It's like a possible romance with me out of the picture. Where do I draw the line? Are we trashing each other this way? Years from now will I be alone and kicking myself for being stupid?

King Arthur

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

An honorable man.

And then there is our President who is hiding behind courageous men like Gronstal in the fight for gay rights. Obama thinks it's smart strategy to use double-speak when talking about marriage equality, thinking that once gay marriage is the law of the land he can jump on the bandwagon just as it crosses the finish line and welcome us all to the front of the bus. I am still convinced that in his heart President Obama is pro gay marriage rights. He thinks he is being an astute politician by letting other men like Gronstal do the road-paving dirty work. Obama does not want the taint. I think this is a mistake that he will ultimately regret. Men coming home from battle remember who was, or was not, in the trenches with them.

Buzzing with the Mormons

I didn’t need a planning and development professor and a spatial information design professor, producing a study called “The Geography of Buzz”, to tell me what I already know – that our Lincoln Center Neighborhood is one of the most hyper-buzzy places in the world. That is rather why we chose it, despite its reputation as not-so-trendy, and as overly heterofamiliar (Maclarendale, as I like to call it.).

What is interesting about the study is how its co-authors, Elizabeth Currid and Sarah Williams fed their matrix to get that result. They considered photos of parties and events as an indicator of buzz-worthiness. They used Getty Images, assuming that if a picture was for sale, buzz would have driven it.

Hmm. This provokes some questions.

Who is doing the buzzing in our neighborhood? I don’t think it is that ubiquitous fourteen year old girl who is the target of television commercials. I don’t think it’s the gym-built circuit boy a few blocks down in Hell’s Kitchen.

I’m afraid the paprazzi might have missed the Mormons who are buzzing in our backyard! You see this study relied on the mainstream news media for its information. A medium that is imploding as we speak, and certainly will not be the best future buzz-indicator. Currid and Williams ought to expand their study to include Flickr, Twitter, Facebook etc in order to really hear the buzz of the endless stream of Mormons who ask us to take their picture with their temple (across Broadway from Lincoln Center) in the background. Those photos end up in buzz-generating circulation on the net, and not for sale.

Also, consider the buzz generated when Joe posts a photo of fifty gay men enjoying a Sunday afternoon on “Bear Hill” in Central Park. That type of photo ought to be included when determining how the buzz-traction on the Bethesda Terrace stands up against that on the red carpet in front of the Kodak Theater.

Meanwhile, even though surrounded by Mormons and strollers, and with C reminding me that I once said that I would never live anywhere in Manhattan except the Upper East Side, and despite the death rattle of our Balducci’s, we get down to buzziness with a perfect score on foot, and I hope that all those Mormon families who asked me to take their picture in front of the temple – and did not bother checking it immediately in the viewfinder – will not be too disappojnted with the wonderful souvenir images of their sensible footwear and sturdy ankles.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Hello. My name is Tony, and I am a Synesthete.

I have been reading a good amount of Oliver Sacks lately. Having finished the fascinating An Anthropologist on Mars, I am well into his Musicophilia.

This afternoon, I got sunburned having lost track of the time poolside, entirely lost in the fourteenth chapter entitled The Key of Clear Green: Synesthesia and Music.

I have always assumed that everyone “sees” what I see when thinking of numbers, the letters of the alphabet, musical notes and keys, days of the week, and months. In my mind, and I have always assumed, in yours, all these things are assigned specific colors, and whenever they “appear” in our minds, they always appear in their naturally assigned colors.

I had always assumed that my assignment of color to abstracts was based on my rather common poetic disposition. For instance, it is easy to think that Monday is blue because of all the songs that tell us so. I have also always assumed that July is the particularly appealing and highly saturated bleu de travail of Moroccan or Mexican tiles because I associate it with the ocean and the summer sky.

It has always been more difficult for me to explain why I see numbers or letters in color. Three and C are always Kelly green. Four and D are always a flat red. I chalked it up to early childhood exposure to these symbols on the sides of painted wooden blocks kept in a cylindrical tin among my toys, to be spilled out onto the floor for the stacking.

Several years ago, when I read that Laura Nyro had, in a recording studio, demanded many repetitions of a particular piece, perplexing her musicians by screaming “No! No! Do it again. Play it in lavendar!”, her meaning seemed perfectly clear to me.

It seems I may have been wrong all along in my assumptions about this business.

Oliver Sacks says that synesthesia is not something that brings patients to neurologists…Most people who have it do not consider it to be a “condition”…Some estimate the incidence of synesthesia to be about one in two thousand….

He speaks about a painter who became colorblind (He describes this case in An Anthropologist on Mars) as persuasion …that synesthesia was a physiological phenomenon, dependent on the integrity of certain areas of the cortex and the connections between them –in his case, between specific areas of the visual cortex needed to construct the perception or imagery of color. The destruction of these areas in this man had left him unable to experience any color, including “colored” music.

I want all of you regular visitors to tell me whether or not you are synesthetes.

And don’t nobody try to tell me that when you think “Stravinsky” you don’t see it in red, or Mahler in mauve, cuz I can’t imagine them otherwise.

PS: An earlier and equally delicious chapter is called Brainworms, Sticky Music and Catchy Tunes.

And, I learned heaps about autism and epilepsy in An Anthropologist on Mars. Seizures and brain trauma can cause extreme personality changes. This raises a question. Has anyone ever become gay after a seizure or a lightning strike? Could it happen? If so, will doctors eventually change sexual orientation by zapping just the right area of the brain with just the right stimulus? I owe Oliver Sacks a phone call to report on my reading some books he recommended that were supposed to make me an atheist. They didn’t. I’ll try to get immediately into the gay question.

Meanwhile, I am turning away from the screen to gaze at something periwinkle/cornflower blue because that color, in and of itself, seems to induce health in me.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Chelsea Art, a Converted Sex Club, and a Handsome Blogger for Sale

New York City is for walking around. That is why living in a shoe box in that city is tolerable. You're not at home much.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, while wandering through the art galleries in Chelsea, we came upon some installations by Carolee Schneemann. This one is particularly amusing. Her work would have irritated me but I learned that she was making these installations forty years ago. A kinder, gentler, more naive time.

Later, in another neighborhood, we entered what had been a great sex club called El Mirage. It is now an art gallery. The video was bizarre, but would have gone over well with the previous clientele.

And earlier in the day, we were startled by the sight of a certain New York blogger friend. See the red dot next to his portrait? That's right, he's sold. I won't tell you his price.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Tomorrow on Bilerico: "When the Rain in Spain Goes Against the Grain"

You'll have to head over to Bilerico tomorrow after 11:30AM EST to see my response to the following:

Dear Father Tony:
My new boyfriend wants to piss on me and wants me to piss on him.
That's it.
Not Into It