Friday, September 19, 2014

Hiss Golden Messenger - "Southern Grammar"

I was walking home, drunk but more so hungry, walking home down Grand Street from the Pat party at Union Pool. I passed bars, familiar sights, this line of buildings that I feel so at home walking past. I looked up at the sky and told myself, told the sky, there is no place, not one other place on this entire planet, I would rather be.

I stopped into my bodega for a roast beef sandwich and started chatting with Lucky, the guy who makes the sandwiches there, the guy who I think is amazing and who I have had so many late-night drunk conversations with. "Where have you been?" he asked. He told me he had just been talking about me earlier, wondering why I haven't been there in a while.

The reason is because I have been eating lots of bagels and peanut butter. The reason is because I am trying to eliminate unnecessary expenses since I am unemployed. The reason is because I am broke and should not be going to various bars buying drinks, let alone buying sandwiches drunk afterwards. I didn't really want to go into all of this with him though.

He started asking me what's new, what's been going on in my life. Not much, I said. A lot of the same, nothing's really changed. And he asked if I had a girlfriend or a new job. He told me some saying that one of his uncles has which I am failing to remember now, but it was something like happiness is having a nice girl, a nice job, and a nice house. And how his uncle could never seem to get all three, that when he got one, he would always lose the other, never able to achieve his idea of happiness, one piece of the tower always falling away before the thing could be completed.

He asked me why I didn't have a girlfriend, what type of girls I liked, whether I liked Spanish girls, black girls, Indian girls. I just laughed. I didn't tell him that I don't have a girlfriend because I like sucking dick. I didn't want to scandalize him. I am not sure what I was afraid of. He told me he could set me up with some Indian girls but that they only spoke Punjabi, that we'd have to use Google Translate anytime we hung out. Again, I just laughed.

Somewhere near the beer cases, some man was saying something about some faggot.

Lucky wrapped my sandwich, smiling ear to ear, one of the most consistently happy people I have ever met, saying, "Have a good night, my friend." This is one of my favorite language quirks of immigrants, this habit of addressing people as "my friend." There is something so beautiful in that practice.

I walked home, smiling, happy to be here, happy to soon consume this sandwich.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Taxi Zum Klo

We smoked some weed, the local news on mute in front of us. He just wants something on, he says. You know, he says. He doesn't really ask this, just says it. I nod my head even though I actually don't know. I don't know why anyone would have a TV on just because.

He soon put on music. The silent TV stayed on. We got naked and fell into his bed making out where I couldn't see the images on the TV, just its shifting lights, glowing brighter than dimmer, than brighter.

At some point, while he was giving me head, I started rubbing my foot against his ass, knowing this guy has a foot fetish. He sat back more and more, his face making that "fuck yeah" face that is one of the most beautiful things to see, to see someone lost in pleasure, to know that someone is feeling it. He kept leaning back more and more, rubbing his ass against my foot. He reached for the lube and soon was riding my big toe.

Afterwards, I rode the subway home, thinking of how good a burrito would be. I bought one. I ate one.

I watched Taxi Zum Klo and then Getting Go, the first amazingly good, the second one really not good at all.

Taxi Zum Klo is one of the more honest gay movies I have seen. There is no melodrama - no struggles of a man coming to terms with his identity, with coming out, or with exile from his family or community. There is none of that boring egotism of gay men trying to make their own overblown insecurities a narrative worthy of a feature film. There is also none of the moralism that seems to also be in too many gay films - that there is something sinister or depressing about cruising. Instead you have a movie that depicts something vaguely resembling a reality that feels familiar to me - a man who manages to balance a professional life with a life in which he parties hard and seeks out sex everywhere. That this movie came out in 1981 is pretty amazing to me. It's really funny and really honest. The film opens with Frank Ripploh wiping his ass after taking a shit. That right there announces everything - that this movie you are about to see is going to give it to you real, warts and all.

Then fast-forward some nearly thirty years and you get the shockingly conservative Getting Go. The filmmaker's attitude toward sex is so Victorian and prudish. Compared to the movie I had paired it with, it felt dishonest, all the more so because its framing device is that it's an actual documentary being filmed, though really just a conventional love story. The filmmaker/narrator follows around a go-go boy he is infatuated with under the pretense of making a documentary about him. When he interviews the dancer about go-go dancing, he does so with questions that make it seem as if there is something depressing and degrading about it. It was actually a maddening film to watch. Some really saccharine clips of romance, of him and the go-go boy together at last, and all paired with a patronizing attitude towards not only go-go dancers and sex workers, but toward the idea of sex and sexuality itself. It had potential, but it was just really bad. But it's got a lot of company. Put a pretty naked boy in your movie, dumb as it is, and apparently you now have a distributable gay movie. The number of bad gay movies I have seen is way too many, which was why Taxi Zum Klo was such a joy to watch.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Strangers on a Train


He was asleep on my bed. He had made some joke about getting into my bed when we were about to start watching the movie, about how happy I must be to have him in my bed, my desire for him not very well concealed. I was on the couch next to my bed, a friend in between us.

The three of us were watching Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. I was watching the movie and I was not watching it. I kept on looking over at this guy asleep in my bed who I have such crazy desire for. My heart was racing and the thing he joked about was too true. I was beyond thrilled to have this cute guy asleep in my bed, to imagine sleeping there next to him, to imagine even lying where he was later in the night and having some second-hand contact with him through the sheets. The thought of lying where he was, of trying to catch some whiff of him, catch some bit of his essence that may have lingered - this is what I was thinking of during the movie.

I would look over and marvel at his legs. Again he was wearing knee high socks. On this person, this look turns me on so much. There was the stretch of tanned skin between these socks and his shorts, the hair there blondish and sun-bleached. I imagined being at his feet, looking up, feeling those legs, those socks in my hands. I imagined what it would be like to suck his dick.

There is a really great scene in the movie that I did manage to catch despite this sleeping beauty in my bed that I kept staring at. Bruno, psycho crazed stalker that he is, stares straight ahead at Guy from the stands of a tennis match. It's a great visual that Hitchcock does here, the heads of the audience turning in sync right and left, right and left, following the action of the tennis game, but in the center of it all, you see Bruno, eyes focused on his target, straight ahead, ignoring the action everyone else is following.

It is only today that I am aware of the analogy between my own behavior during the movie and Bruno's during the tennis match. My eyes were focused not so much on the movie, but on this guy who I have had a huge crush on now for a while, a crush that has swelled and swelled to nearly unbearable levels recently. And last night, toward the end of the night, after bottles of wine were drunk, cans of beer were consumed, and weed was smoked, then, after sitting next to this guy in my bed, this guy that I wanted so bad, that the swelling pushed and pushed against the seams of my heart. He left to go home and it exploded. I sent him a text message that destroyed the game, that ruined the tension and the flirtation and the tease that I had enjoyed so much these past weeks. I made things that were only hinted about explicit. I turned on the lights at The Cock at 4am basically.

"You are so fucking cute ps. Slash beautiful. Slash I want to have sex with you."

I am just going to preface anything I might soon say by first reminding you, dear reader, and also reminding myself, that I am in my thirties now, that I have done stupid texting while drunk on too many occasions to even think for a moment that it might possibly be a good idea. It is never a good idea. I have learned this lesson time and time again, but apparently not well enough as last night is proof of.

And he responded with that word that is a knife in the heart when you like someone: friend. I have heard that word so many times from guys I have liked and it doesn't get any less painful no matter how many times you hear that.

It is what it is though. He's a nice guy and hopefully I haven't made things weird so that we can still be friends, which I think we should be.

In the film, there is a chase scene on a carousel where the movie resolves itself. The speed crank gets pushed forward and the carousel spins and spins, furiously out of control, faster and faster, the riders holding on for dear life, the two main characters fighting it out on the carousel, trying to knock the other one off to their death. The carousel eventually comes to a grinding halt, people injured, the wooden horses broken, the thing a complete mess. You can't make a carousel go that fast without ruining it apparently. Enjoy the leisurely ride, the ups and downs of the horse. Don't wish for things to go faster.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

"toast to cliches in a dark past"

I had a temp job that lasted two days this past Thursday and Friday, my first time working in a month. It was fairly fun and I'm bummed it was only a two day assignment because 1.) I am really broke and need to be working more, and 2.) because it was really easy and I worked with a queeny gay boy and we just gossiped about gay things for those two days.

To celebrate the end of the workweek, my whole two days of working in a month, I raged on Friday. I went to some event at Tao where I drank a ton of free fancy booze before having an impromptu pre-game party at my house before heading off to the new neighborhood gay bar. It was awful and I wished that I had stayed at my house partying. This bar is so tone-deaf to the neighborhood it is in. It is wildly out of place and tacky. I have trouble seeing this bar lasting for very long. In some ways, it reminds me of Fun, a short-lived Williamsburg gay bar that tried to have the same classy (read: tacky/douchy) Manhattan vibe. Probably that they had bussed people in from Hell's Kitchen was a large part of the problem. There is a glowing sign behind the bar that says "More More More," and that sign says everything you need to know. If you can read, you should run, run, run. I was surrounded by awful Hell's Kitchen gays, one of whom grabbed my drink and guzzled it cause he was under the impression that he was some real cute thing. Everyone was suffering from this delusion there. Consumption is what is celebrated - the sign glows More, More, More. Egos sadly unchecked. You own everything, or want to. No thanks.

Everyone I was with quickly fled to Metro and I walked up to Greenpoint to hang out with some friends. I stayed up until 9 something in the morning, hanging out, chatting, getting wasted, and slowly watching daylight appear outside their living room windows as I smoked cigarette after cigarette and drank Coors Light. I walked home, stopping at the now open grocery store to buy some eggs. I fried up some eggs back at my apartment and talked to Diego about boys, about one boy really, and about life, all in the overly theatrical ways that a wasted person will do at 10 in the morning after not sleeping. 

Needless to say, I did not do anything yesterday.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"Goodbye Horses"

I got off at the 1st Avenue L stop last night to head to Linda Simpson's "Drag Explosion" show at the Wild Project. I walked over to A and was shocked by the empty space on the southeast corner of 14th and A. Had it been that long since I have walked around the East Village that I didn't see the process of these buildings come down?

I know those businesses had slowly been bought out and vacated - the gritty bodega on the corner where years and years ago I bought beer to bring to Erica's apartment when she was living in Stuy Town; the fantastically divey Blarney Cove; and a 99 cent store I believe. However, it was still shocking to see this expanse of openness where buildings used to be, where buildings that were maybe three or four stories tall stood, blending in with the rest of the neighborhood. It's not the emptiness so much that upset me but thoughts of what were sure to fill it. I haven't seen the plans for what's going up there but I have a pretty good idea - the same type of ugly, giant condo complexes that pop up everywhere, erasing slowly parcel by parcel the character of this city, probably too tall for the neighborhood, probably made of glass and metal and not the brick that everything else in the neighborhood is made from.

I walked down A thinking of bars that used to be there, of Boysroom when it was on 13th and A, where there is now some straight beer bar, one of many on the block. I thought of the Cock when it used to be on 12th and A. I walked past guys in suits that made no space on the sidewalk for me. I walked past young professional women that were hanging outside of an expensive looking wine bar, Cork n' Fork. I hated them. I hated this East Village. I hated these people responsible for this. I walked past an entirely too bright 7-11 and nearly lost my shit at that point.

I soldiered on, buying a pack of cigarettes at a bodega to steady me.

Linda's show was good and it paired all too well with the thoughts I had been having on my walk there about the changes that have happened to the East Village in the 11 years I have been here. She took it back much further, took it back to the eighties, and mourned the changes since then. The show was an elegy for a period of time, a moment, and a particular culture that doesn't exist anymore. She showed relics from this place, snapshot photos she had taken over the years presented as a slideshow. It's always such a treat to see visual evidence of these times, to get a glimpse of what things were like. Linda called this time B.C. (before cellphones) and joked about how it was such a more fun time because people actually went out to meet people and have fun. She joked about it because sometimes that's the best way to deal with tragedy, with the loss of something so essential and beautiful. I am often sad that I didn't live more in a time before cellphones. I didn't have a cellphone until I moved to New York in 2003 and even then it was a shitty flip phone and those years before the iPhone was introduced were my favorite years in New York. Bar culture was so different then. Everything about life was. It was before everyone stared at screens during any moment of boredom, during any moment in which chance encounters or something unknown might happen. Protect yourself, close yourself off, quick, look at something on your phone.

In the photos she showed, you could see what a fun time it was. That joy in seeing these moments of creativity and fun in an earlier New York, the one I think all of us dreamed about when we moved here, is paired though with a bit of heartbreak, knowing that in some ways those moments will never be again, that that level of camaraderie and shared fun while going out isn't possible in our current technological culture. Because even if you are not continually distracted by a piece of metal in your pocket, even if you can claim to be unaware of its pull, of that world in your pocket, other people certainly are. There will probably never again be a time when people are fully engaged in the present, in their surroundings.

Despite its disjointedness and tech hiccups, it was a beautiful show, a drag slideshow that in ways both explicit and not so explored the passing of time. There was a really sweet moment toward the end when Linda dedicated the performance to her friend, Kathleen White, who recently passed away, remarking that that's the hardest part of getting old - losing the people you love.

She ended by showing real (and surprising) vulnerability by asking what her life might have ended up like if she had put just as much energy into her male self as she had put into her female self, where she might be, where he might be.

I have always loved Linda's presence and humor. She hosted one of my favorites parties in New York years ago - Slurp at the Cock with Michael Magnan and Telfar. I would try to make it there just about every Wednesday. There was a great energy to that party. It often had really great performances and blended those seamlessly in with the dance party. She was a large part of the reason I would try to make it there. She somehow had the voice of an earnest, slightly corny woman, but also at the same time could throw off clever one-liners in the same voice showing how over it she was. It's a fine balancing act that she somehow does so well.

And that's why the way the show closed, with Linda showing real vulnerability on the stage as she looked back over her life and wondered what if things had been different, was so powerful. It was so different than the voice I have known seeing her host various parties around the city in my time here. You see the person behind that voice.

I walked back to the L train. I passed the Phoenix where a group of people were inexplicably playing accordions in front of it. I had zero desire to stop at this bar that I used to love when I first moved to the city. In Brooklyn, I went out to Bath Salts at Don Pedro's, which made me happy, gave me a feeling that I was still in the city I had wanted to live in. New York didn't die. Maybe the East Village did. Maybe I never go out there anymore. But there is still a scene happening of weird gays doing weird shit and having fun.

I kissed a boy on the neck and asked him to come home with me. He did.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Bjork, "Undo"

I don't honestly know what it would be like to kiss him. It might very well be terrible, might be really awkward, but that doesn't stop me from wanting it when I am in his company. At a certain point, a crush becomes too much. The fanaticism builds and builds, eating any sort of rationality, rampaging past any cool and casual approach. You stare really hard at them whenever they are around, or maybe you have more game than I do and do not do such a thing, however I certainly do.

He has these gorgeous brown eyes that I look too hard at, awed by how cute he is. He wears his socks high and I dream about being at his feet, looking up. I basically just dream about what it might be to caress this person's body anytime he's around and as such I have some trouble talking to him without seeming like a basket-case.

It is now September. I have been unemployed for a month now. I have a lot of time to think about boys, too much time to do so. Boys are a lot easier a subject and a lot less stress-inducing than thinking about my financial situation or about jobs. The steps to obtain one seem somewhat simpler than the steps necessary to obtain a job, or at least I feel more sturdy navigating those steps. It is not a matter of waiting and waiting for emails back from ad agencies or temp companies. There is a person out there who will I see out at night at parties and I can talk to him. I can try to flirt with him, can engage with him. There is a face, a really cute one, and not a screen I check again and again. There is a presence, something I know is real.

And so I dream about him.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Beyonce's birthday, Joan Rivers' deathday

Two things. Beyonce turned 33 yesterday. Joan Rivers died yesterday.

Both of these affected me a great deal. I woke up in the morning yesterday, vaguely hungover from going to some Fashion Week party the night before with an open bar and where Kiesza had performed. Lying in bed, I read on form of some media, probably all of them actually, that it was Beyonce's birthday. What struck me was not so much that it was her birthday, but the age which she turned yesterday, my age, 33. Now, anyone that tries to compare their own life to Beyonce's is probably setting themselves up for disappointment, but still that didn't stop me from thinking about the differences in our life and how I am not anywhere near where I had hoped to be at this age, that I have not produced any of the work that I have often thought about doing. Beyonce has such a strong body of work at this point in her life, at the age of 33, my age, and I couldn't help think of little I have done. Thoughts of doing something and then not doing them serve no good. There's nothing to show for that. I felt a little shitty, but also inspired.

And that is because sometimes you need to feel like shit, sometimes you need a kick in the pants, someone to laugh at you, someone to say your work is shit, that you are lazy, that you are unproductive, and, yes, sometimes that person will be yourself. I am not saying I am going to put out amazing albums that are going to sell a gazillion copies worldwide - that's not what I want to do. There are things that I want to do though and I need to work just as hard to achieve them. I need to quit being so fucking lazy about the things that I claim to care about. And yes, I am pretty sure I have written the same thing to myself numerous times over the years in this diary, that I am going to work harder, commit to things. And I am going to keep on saying those things to myself as many times as I need to until I finally do them, until I finally heed these mantras, buckle down, and produce great work.

Then later in the afternoon, the news that Joan Rivers had died flashed on CNN while I was working out at the gym. It wasn't entirely surprising, given her condition in recent days, but still it made me quite sad that this voice, this caustic, acerbic, and fiercely intelligent voice, would no longer be around. She was a fucking badass and her fearless style of comedy has in small ways informed my own way of thinking and my own way of communicating thoughts about the world, though usually that side comes out when I'm a bit drunk and a bit belligerent. Which is what she was, a voice that said those things you might joke about with close friends while drinking, which otherwise you might be too polite to say. She gave voice to those cruder, meaner thoughts and did so in such a brilliant way that often pointed out the absurdities of our lives and burned down the temples to false idols we have come to worship, skewering celebrities and the idea of celebrity with a particular ruthless glee.

Aside from the fact that she was a woman who started doing comedy at a time when comedy was even more a boys club than it is now and that she was a fucking trailblazer for just about everyone, there is the fact, irrespective of this in itself important work, that she was fucking hilarious. Male or female, she was one of the smartest and funniest comedians we had.

She was also a workhorse, absolutely tireless. That she was still out on the road doing comedy shows, doing various tv shows, making late night appearances, and hosting QVC at the age of 81 is amazing.

The lesson here from both events is that hard work matters. More than anything else perhaps. Without it, whatever talent you may have is never utilized, never seen, never shared. Work, work, work. Make it fucking happen. Eyes on the prize.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kurt Vile - "Girl Called Alex"

There were a lot of hairs. They were long. A unibrow was starting to take shape. Somehow this had gone unnoticed. I usually pluck these hairs well before it gets to this point. I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror this morning, groggy, tried to shake myself out of this grogginess I've been feeling for weeks of being unemployed now. It had come to this. I have apparently stopped caring about things I normally would, had failed to notice myself, had perhaps done so intentionally, perhaps wanted to forget myself.

I started tweezing hairs away, making two eyebrows, sending the fighters back to their respective corners, pulling them off each other.

That's when I noticed ear hairs as well, a lot of them. I have been failing a lot lately. This was proof.

I have been unemployed for about three weeks now, probably long enough for these hairs to grow wild, untamed. New York is getting the better of me these days. I want to win. I want to beat this city. I don't feel like I have ever felt solidly in control of this city. To keep with this fighting analogy, it's been a gritty backyard wrestling match amongst school boys. For the better part of my time here, I have been pinned to the ground, the city yelling "Say Uncle!" There have been moments where I have squirmed my way out from underneath and managed to pin the city, have felt for a moment, sometimes even moments, that I was in control, that I had the city pinned, that I would emerge victorious. But usually the city, stronger thing that it is, usually quickly flips things again and has me pinned again, shoving my face into the grass.

I honestly have no clue what my future holds. I am unsure how I am going to pay my rent this month without overdrawing my bank account. I thought things would be easier. I didn't really plan for this. I somehow imagined after interning at an ad agency this summer, I would easily get hired at one. The process is a lot more drawn-out and time-consuming than I had imagined. And so I applied at a temp agency, but so far they haven't had any short-term assignments for me. They offered me a month long job, which I was nervous about taking because I had been hopeful that I would get a job at an agency soon, but now I am realizing I probably should have taken it.

I have been eating way too much pasta, way too many bagels, way too much peanut butter. Once I finally get steady income, I never want to eat these things again. I have been drinking too many three dollar bottles of Trader Joe's wine, which, let's be honest, I will probably continue to drink once I have steady income.

Diego and I are taking on a third roommate, renting out our living room for a couple months, which has eased my stress about rent somewhat.

I have been striking out with boys I like left and right, which has just been adding to this feeling that the city is piling on me right now, wanting to kick my ass, and to do so in a way that leaves me humiliated. The city has taken my shoes and thrown them over telephone wires, told me to walk home barefoot. Some boys do appear to like me, though they tend to be 21 years old or so, and I am too old for that. Everyone is too old for that, even 21 year olds.

The summer is coming to a close. I am noticing now I need to clip my nails as well. This, as most acts of grooming are, is a metaphor.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Lucky

Last night, I stumbled back to my house from a friend's place in Greenpoint. Stumbled not so much because I was tipsy, which I was after watching the VMAs, but stumbled because I had injured my foot at a rooftop party on Saturday and have been hobbling around since.

I stopped into the bodega by my house and ordered a roast beef sandwich on a roll and chatted with the guy that makes the sandwiches there, Lucky. I probably have had more meaningful conversations with him than a good majority of the people that I consider to be friends. He's there every single night working the overnight shift. He has seen the entire spectrum of Charlie wasted, from just a little tipsy to an absolute mess. He is the sweetest guy and we usually end up talking about life in broad strokes.

He asked me if I am always so happy since usually I am smiling quite a bit I guess when I talk to him. I said that, yes, usually I am pretty happy and like to laugh a lot. He said he's pretty much the same way. He told me about how when he was a kid, his mom used to ask him why he laughed all the time. He would laugh about everything and his mom would say: Why do you do this? However, he told me that he isn't always happy, that there are moments when he also is really sad and doesn't laugh and people don't understand that either. For instance, he said, that recently his sister's husband had died and he was very sad about that, that it showed just as visibly on his face as a smile.

We talked about how the two come from the same place, the happiness and the sadness, that they really aren't that different at all.

I went home and ate a roast beef sandwich.