Friday, July 30, 2004

the place

Peter was complaining about New York again, talking about how he never goes anywhere, to close cities on roadtrips. I didn't really care. I never really like it when people complain, talk about things they feel guilty for not doing, and things which, for whatever reasons, they probably never will do. Not that I am not guilty of this, also. Read any of my entries at random, and I am sure you can point your finger at me and say, "Hypocrite!" But also, I was drunk from drinking beers at Niki's dinner party, and I was inspired about politics and working for change after spending chunks of the day reading Studs Terkel's Hope Dies Last and after watching John Kerry's speech to the DNC, which I actually liked, and it may have very well been because my cynicism usually fades after the first couple beers.

But then later, hearing people gripe about the most simple changes that we could possibly do, when people could not even muster the will to do something that they wanted to do, hearing this while I dreamed of much bigger changes, national changes and its potentials, I got a little annoyed. I was also really horny and there was this boy dressed like Ziggy Stardust, and another boy, Drew Geer look-a-like with a dog. I stared at both of them all night, getting giddy, wanting to make out with either one of them. Honestly, that is where my thoughts were, thinking about hard dicks and moist lips, and so while Joe and Peter were talking about wanting to escape New York, I made my own escape. I went into the bar area, and walked out the front door without good-byes. I put on my headphones, skipped ahead to the Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place," turned it up as loud as possible, and half-walked, half-danced home thinking about how much I love this place, how much I love cute boys, how much I love rock and roll, and did this all under one of the most beautiful moons I have seen in such a long time. It was almost full, so bright, and there for the looking.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

If you were Rip van Winkle, or if I was, and woke up sometime during this past stretch of days, I am not sure you or I would know what month it is. Summer decided not to happen this year. People wear pants, some people wear light jackets in the daytime, and the kicker here is that they don't even break a sweat doing so. Can it really be almost August? This is the mildest summer that I think have ever experienced and granted, there is still all of August around the corner to prove me wrong, but I would not mind in the least if it did so. I like the heat. But, I also like how people dress in mild weather. I like seeing the tight jeans, and tight little coats on men. Yesterday, one such guy made me smile ear to ear and I watched him walk, one arm static, kept at his side because of his tote bag, and the other one swinging freely forward and backward, sometimes corresponding with his steps. For whatever reasons, I derived so much pleasure from just watching this man.

He was frequently called a voyeur. But the word gives me pause, and I don't want to apply it, like a scarlet letter, to Warhol. Pejorative to speak of his aesthetic and erotic tastes as voyeuristic: it presumes a pecking order of concupiscences, and it ignores gazing's mutuality, the sweet interaction between beholder and beheld. The word voyuerism stigmatizes sight, declares it a way station where only the immature stop to rest.

And while this adds a bit of dignity to my leering at boys, I don't really agree at all that the act of gazing is mutual. It is sometimes a way of exerting power (see that whole male gaze body of work), and also a way of pleasurably suffering from it, gazing at something longingly that you do not have access to (see all the old gay men who leer at young boys on streets). But, I really liked this passage when I came across it in Wayne Koestenbaum's biography of Andy Warhol (in the Penguin Lives series). It is really well written and while it does do lots of readings of his art based on biographical details (which in theory, I am opposed to), there is still something really charming about this book and Koestenbaum's observations.

I also just finished Bret Easton Ellis' Less Than Zero, which was less than phenomenonal, but still a fun read, and also Hank Stuever's Off Ramp, some of the essays which were amazing, some of which were not, but which regardless got me excited about ways of observation and ways of writing. He is an amazing columnist. I would say more about all three books but I have to get ready for work on what would normally be my day off since I am working overtime to try to get out some of the debt I am now drowning in.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

a carrot stick

It was in the same interview that she said she was "so over instruments."

Speaking to America's W magazine about the album, the Icelandic singer described it as "rootsy" adding: "I wanted the record to be like muscle, blood, flesh.

"We could be in a cave somewhere and one person would start singing, and another person would sing a beat and then the next person sing a melody, and you could just kind of be really happy in your cave."

I have again spent my morning listening over and over again to "Triumph of a Heart." It is cloudy, about to rain, and the door handle has fallen off the front door to our building (yet again), but my brothers and sisters, it is anything but a bad morning. It is amazing. I have spilled coffee all over my computer after I almost choked to death. I woke up later than I wanted to. I got another call from my hysterical aunt. I had to go to the bodega that I hate because it was sprinkling and I didn't want to walk too far in the wetness. But, it has been an amazing morning. There is this new Bjork song to keep me happy. The full album hits stores August 30, and it is a date that I look forwad to.


These are in response to the questions Regina posted in her diary. Most of you have already joined the fun and replied, and I wanted to join the secrets game, so here goes:

1. Describe your first kiss
I normally do my very best to steer clear of these questions. Whenever a group conversation starts to veer in this direction, the recalling of first kisses, and first sexual encounters, I usually slip out of the room, go somewhere else, escape at all costs. It is always a little embarrassing to have to say that your first real kiss was not until you were 18. It is even more embarrassing to have to admit this when everyone else has these dramatic stories of first kisses from when they were twelve that they can still remember details about. I cannot recall for sure who my first real kiss was with, although I am pretty sure, but even my inability to be sure about this seems odd in these story trading sessions where first kisses mean so much and I cannot even recall for sure my first kiss.

Invariably, I also feel like my life is lacking in these situations, that I missed out on a huge part of the American teen experience. All my awkwardness from those adolescent years of my life are recalled in these conversations and I cannot but help think that I am a poser now, that that insecure loser is my real identity and all these attempts to be sexually active, to look somewhat hip, that all of this is a bad paint job, too obvious to anyone that looks closely. And that is why I run when these conversations start up; I run from that old image of myself that would represent itself. But enough running – this is far easier in this mechanical medium than if I were to tell you this face to face, and this allows me practice. To tell difficult or embarrassing stories, you need to have a good narrative that you are comfortable with, and the writing of this will help to fashion these narratives, so that next time this conversation rears its end, I will not have to run, but can instead have a narrative filled with enough self-deprecating jokes that I can be comfortable enough to participate in this conversation. My first kiss (I am pretty sure) occurred when I was eighteen within my first couple weeks of arriving at New College, maybe even first week. It is that time when you are hanging out with just about anybody because everyone is fresh and no one knows anyone. Groups had yet to cement themselves. You had yet to realize what a total creep the person you made out with your first week was. You will gag about this and be teased about this for probably the rest of the time you spend at college. Paris, Michael Jones, and I had been wandering around Ham Center in the late, late night when no one else was in there. Eventually the three of us ended up sitting on the pool table full of sexual tension, and Paris and Michael started talking about a threesome, looking at me, the virgin, devilishly.

Somehow (was this under Paris’s encouragement), Michael and I, started frenching. It was mildly thrilling, more in line with the rebellious pleasure of smoking a cigarette for the first time than any sort of sexual thrill. Simply, it felt adult. I am pretty sure Michael corrected me and then we frenched some more. Then we sat around some more and talked until the three of us separated. A totally uneventful, non-thrilling first kiss too late in life with someone that I later could not stand to be anywhere near. At that point, it was just something that needed to happen, to get it over with, much like my first time having sex, which occurred the next week with another embarrassing boy.

2. What was the best kiss of your life?
Now this question is also a little hard, which is probably due to the fact that most of the times I have made out with people, I have been pretty drunk and so the event itself has been a blur, let alone the details of the actual kiss. It was after Cody’s Puppet Parade, which both of us had been in. Andrew Hossack and I, after a long period of time of not having any sexual involvement, ended up walking back toward the Dort dorms together with the intention of hooking up, and I remember before we made it up the stairs to his third floor dorm that we stopped at the bottom of the stairwell and made out for a long time. It was hot for so many reasons. One, that it was a brazen PDA and that there was a lack of care for anyone or anything besides our own pleasure. Two, that this was just kissing, a time to enjoy its possibilities, when once the stairs were ascended, other things would be involved. Three, that it was someone I had had sex with before and enjoyed but who I had not touched in months, although I had seen him many times, and looked longingly. And four, Andrew is just a really good kisser. Gentle, precise, and he knows where to kiss your neck. We are about the same height and so that also made it really pleasant.

3. What was the worst kiss of your life?
It was in Madison, WI, two summers ago. Bonnie and I had met up with this old man, Babaluma was his screen name, that Bonnie had met through Livejournal. We met up with him because I think we thought he seemed cool. He bought us lots of beer and we talked through the night, then after lots of nice beer bought courtesy of him, we left, the three of us, to walk back in the direction of our houses. We got to his first and said good-byes, and before I knew what was what, he was frenching me good-bye, this balding man who was at least thirty and who I did not find even remotely attractive. I felt so gross, and was so repulsed, but felt that I had to at least be somewhat civil since he bought me so much beer. I broke off the kiss, said bye, and ran off with Bonnie, who witnessed the whole thing, which made it even more embarrassing. He was not a good kisser. There was too much tongue. His lips were wrong, warm, wet, gross. Ish ish ish.

4. What kiss was your most "movie moment" kiss?
Also two summers ago in Madison, WI. Bonnie, some PIRGers, and I had been at the Rainbow Room. There was this boy, this really cute boy, who had been making out with people at the bar all night. I had watched him all night, envious of all these other people that got to kiss him. I was about to leave with the PIRGers when I saw him out front of the bar smoking. I ran up to him and told him I thought he was really cute and that I wanted to make out with him. And I made out with this gorgeous boy, Giancarlo, for a while and he was a little shocked by my forthrightness, giggled, and asked me if I wanted to come home with him. We made out the three blocks to his house, stopping along the way to make out in lots of people’s yards. It was rough kissing, eager for something else.

5. What kiss/es do you most regret?
See the answer to #2, and add to that list any boys that have kissed me while I have been to drunk to resist, even though I was not attracted to them, and they were awful kissers. There are way too many gay bar incidents like this to describe here. They are basically all the same though: I am wasted and soon some ugly asshole latches himself on to me and starts to make out with me, and I try to end it as abruptly as possible.

6. Which kiss was the most memorable?
My most recent kiss is the most memorable simply because it is the clearest in my memory. I had left the Metropolitan with Christopher a few weeks ago. He wanted me to come home with him. I said no, and made him settle for a kiss. He refused and stormed off towards his house, only to come trotting back and we ran into a kiss and I pressed him against the wall of the Stay Gold gallery on Grand Street and frenched him for a good while before breaking it off (perhaps just to exercise power, to have someone continue to want something from me, the feeling of pleasure which that gives) and heading home, leaving him to have to go home alone.

7. Who have you always fantasized about kissing?
God, who haven’t I fantasized about kissing? Really, if they have brown hair, are rail thin, wear tight jeans and have nice long, fingers than chances are more than likely that I have thought about making out with them. Current people who meet these criterion: Christopher, Jonathan, Benjamin, Josh, etc.

Monday, July 26, 2004

movie love in the 00's

I am listening to two songs from Bjork's upcoming album that I downloaded this morning. I really love what I hear, what I feel.

Yesterday, I was lost in a book, Movie Love in the 50's, and there was this boy that kept standing in my vicinity every time I tried to move away, to a place where I could read without being in any one's way. Eventually, I looked up to see who this was being pretty annoying, and realized that it was the boy I had written a missed connection about last week.

To backpedal a little here, he wrote me back asking me who I was, I told him who I was yesterday and then I wanted to reread what I had originally wrote and found that he had thought it was some girl in boots. And so obviously, I was real embarrased that I had written him back divulging my idenity and worried about ever seeing him again, and then here he is the next day, standing wherever I am standing. After noticing it was him, embarrassed, I ran into the art department to try to hide, and then he was in close vicinity there also. Rather than being even somewhat mature, I kept running around the store, trying to hide, only to find him somewhat near. After too long in the store, he finally left, and I could finally stop giggling and hyperventilating. Then I thought about what a jackass I had been, how I should have just said hello when I first saw him rather than trying to hide.

The one song that I really love is "Triumph of a Heart." Turn it up real loud on a pair of headphones and try not to dance, listen to all those voices, try picking them apart. At some points, I can only count four, maybe five voices. So if just three or four of you guys and me ever gathered together, we could maybe do something just as cool.

I got a phone call from my dad's cousin today. He wanted to talk to me about my dad, to find out how I was doing, and invited me over for dinner at his house whenever. He encouraged me to call him whenever I wanted if I ever wanted to talk about my dad. He was really nice and talked with compassion and a few words of wisdom about the shortness of life. I do have some questions about my dad, but I don't know if I want to ask them. I don't know if I want to know the answers - if I would be asking the questions because I cared, or out of morbid, finger-wagging curiousity. What does it mean to care? Where is the line between compassion, curiousity, and voyeurism? Yesterday, my dad's sister called me. I never look forward to her calls, but answer them because she seems to be a wreck and so I try to be forgiving when she calls me and tries to guilt me for not caring about my dying dad, or calls me and cries, or ends the phone conversation by telling me to have a nice life. When my uncle Pat called me today, I realized what constitutes that vague term maturity. But yes, yesterday, my aunt Herta called me and talked to me vaguely about how I am doing, how my dad misses me, and imploring me to go back to college, telling me how important it is (another grating thing about her, about anyone really - when they try to tell me that).

She asked me if I knew where my dad was, and I said no. She started to cry again, and told me that he was in a federal, and then she stopped talking, silently crying. I finished her sentence for her. Prison. And there was some assent from her in some form and then she said he wanted to call me. Sure, why not? And while I am curious to know why he is in jail, I am pretty sure it involves drugs in some way. And she then asked when would be a good time for him to call because she didn't want any of my roommates to have to know. I told her that I had my own cell phone and he could call whenever, and I don't really care who knows. That is very likely why I am writing this here, as a way to make sure that I am not secretive, because there have been too many other points in my life when I have been secretive. There was that other time in jail, my dad spent in middle school, followed by being deported. That was something I did not talk about at the time, an area purposely avoided. There have been other instances of family drama, usually all caused by my father. There was not acknowledging my sexuality to myself or to anyone else for a period of years until college. And I have been trying ever since to live a life open. That to not tell things is to be shamed by them, to be on the receiving end of various modes of power. But there is also the problematic issue of telling these things and still somehow suffering shame through them by the well-meaning, but totally out of place, apologies and condolences of listeners, which is not what is wanted either. And how to strike a balance? How to ensure that you are living openly and without shame, without recieving pity from people who are not comfortable, or not entirelly accustomed (because which one of us is?) to living totally free from shame, and from the feeling that we should somehow offer either physical or verbal pats on the back, when that is not what is wanted, when doing that, is itself exersising power, a sharming veiled behind good intentions. I am not sure. I wish I had more time to work out these thoughts, to talk about the feelings this Bjork song inspires in me and to offer a theory of love and life that is joyous in its non-naivete, in its knowledge of this world. Just three or four of you, and the sounds we could produce! Just as much beauty could probably be sung alone also.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

In an either very poor or wise purchase, last night, hungry and with old memories in my head, I bought one of those five dollar pizzas at Little Caesars on 14th Street. This leaves me with six dollars and whatever spare change I can find in my room until Thursday to eat. When I was walking home with this big pizza box, I passed a couple, and once I had put some distance between us, the girl said to her boyfriend, "I haven't had Little Caesar's since I was a kid." And boom, with those words, I relived major portions of my childhood, ones not thought of too often. Like waiting with my mom and sister at Beacon Mall about once a week to get pizza from Little Caesar's, when they still made those double square pizzas. I thought back to grungy Route One, and Beacon Mall with its four screen dollar theater, which was already dated when I was a kid, was part of that mid-70s boom in four screens in tiny malls. The mall got tore down a few years ago and has since turned into a strip mall with a Loews, Hair Cuttery, and Starbucks.

Jaymay has just woke up on the couch behind me, probably due somewhat to me here typing and so this nostalgia trip is going to be cut short. There were big plans for it. But, it winds up like this, I am broke, terribly so, and will be working every day until I die, or at least the next couple weeks. There is other news, too. But that will have to wait.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

ps1, chelsea, free vodka

It is only in the heat that I feel comfortable. It was kind of hot today. I like it when I sit up in bed shirtless, leaning against my wall and have to pry my sticky back off the wall. This is the type of weather that I live for, that I feel like I am living in, where I get slightly delirious and high from being in the heat, where I am sweating, where I am wearing as few clothes as is allowed by social decorum, and sometimes, even less than that. All right, often times even less than that. But, this is the type of weather that I love more than anything. I cannot wait for the even hotter nights, those nights in August where my sheets will be wet with sweat. I know I need to move eventually back down south. I am not sure when and I am not sure where, but god, how I miss that Florida heat. At least, I don’t live or work at places with A/C. That allows me to experience the heat even more so, more naturally. When my body is pouring sweat and I am slightly faint with heat fatigue, there is a happiness and a comfort that is simply not equaled by any other type of weather.

This evening, I went to two openings with Christy, Joe, Peter, and [Peter’s roommate, whose name I cannot remember]. We saw the “Infinite Fill” group show at Foxy Production, which was curated by Cory and Jamie Arcangel. All the artists had to use the black and white shading patterns of early eighties computers, and it was an awesome show. The tiny gallery, which was packed with people and as such was painfully hot (perhaps even more so than what I find enjoyable) was totally covered floor to ceiling to windows in all this black and white imagery, and it was a pretty amazing sight/site. None of the pieces were labeled, so I have no idea, whose was what, but the videos (perhaps Paper Rad or Beige?) were really good, as were some of the drawings. I drank way too many vodka-cranberries served by Christian, and eventually left to go check out the Patterson Beckwith opening at American Fine Arts.

“Home” is supposed to utilize the gallery space as a space to offer workshops to “explore the possibilities of domestic activity,” or so says the gallery’s statement. All I know is that there were home baked cookies for the eating and a school room setup. In the front room, there is a little mock schoolhouse fa├žade, a giant chalkboard listing the classes and a clock that can only be described as a high school clock. God, the clock brought back painful memories. It is the exact same clock I stared at for all of middle and high school, waiting for class to end, for the school day to end. I almost expected a bell to ring each time the second hand hit twelve. I talked to the artist about his photograph of a man dressed as a chili pepper, and he told me that to find out how the costume was made, I would have to attend the costume making class. He finally relented though, and told me it was made from chickenwire and duct tape. However, I do want to try to attend the costume making class. The full schedule is online, and supposedly A.R.E. Weapons are leading a class.

After that opening, we wandered down Tenth Avenue toward the subway station and ran into Sascha*, Kevin and Matt’s roommate, who was not only cordial but also very nice, and brushed away my concerns that our interactions have been awkward. I have run into her probably five times in the last week, and always am so self-conscious, think to myself that this is my ex-boyfriend’s roommate. She must hate me. She must think I am so lame. But it is proved yet again that things are never as bad as you think they are, that most people are nice.

Our posse then separated and now, here I am sleepy drunk at only ten o’clock and resisting the urge to go out to Metropolitan where Peter and Joe are, and where I will spend money that I should save.

So instead, I will tell you about what I did earlier in the day, prior to getting trashed off of free booze, to prevent myself from going out to drink yet more booze, and booze that is not of the free variety. I went to PS1 this afternoon to see the Ryan McGinley show, which was beautiful and dream-like. Naked people underwater, in woods, and in treetops. My notes are a mess scribbled on one of the flyers from the front desk, but the couple shots, “Jake and Dakota” and “Sunrise” are of this male and female in these misty woods. The camera lens is splashed with droplets of rain that look absolutely stunning and dream-like on the prints. And seeing the boy’s boner in “Sunrise” gave me a bit of a boner also. They are pretty hot photos. The other photo I loved was “Garrick,” which is a shot of a young boy sitting underwater and his reflection on the surface of the water. It is gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I can’t figure out how it was done for the life of me, and it brought up memories of The Graduate and Benjamin sitting underwater, and this for some reason seemed more beautiful, more willed.

What else? What else? PS1 contains so much right now, so much amazing stuff that it is sort of hard to talk about it all (also see above mentioned references to the current state of my sobriety). But there is a group show, “Curious Crystals of Unusual Parity” that reminded me a lot of the themes in Daniel Reich gallery’s “California Earthquakes,” and not just because both included lots of work by Bjorn Copeland. The adolescent interest in pyschedelica is a prominent theme in both shows. The works of Fred Tomaselli, Amy Gartrell, and Bjorn Copeland are the pieces that stand out in this show, and they all fit into that category which has not really been defined with a neat phrase yet, despite Jerry Saltz’s attempt with “termite art.” These three appropriate the terms of acid art in a way that I really like.

Maja Bajevic has an awesome sound installation, “Avanti Popolo.” The room, full of stereo systems all over the floor, was empty and quiet before I stepped into it. As I walked around the room, I set off the motion detectors in front of all the many stereos, and with each step, I brought to life another stereo. I felt like Tom Hanks in Big, hitting a new sound with each step. There was something amazing and inspiring about it, leading me to think that each of my steps contains this symphony, that I am creating all this noise, that there is all this potential in me. After this rush, I read the curator’s statement out front which explained that each stereo played the national anthem of a different country and that it was supposed to make hyper-nationalism seem absurd. I hadn’t even noticed that they were anthems being played. I chose to ignore that, still choose to ignore that and am going to stick to and remember my original encounter with the art, how amazing it was.

Walead Beshty’s photo series, “Dead Mall,” is amazing also. They are documentary images of deserted shopping malls on the wane, malls that look depressing, that look like malls you have seen, modern day ghost towns after the big retailers have moved out of the malls. William Gedry’s night photographs of suburbia evoke a similar feeling of loneliness and isolation, and manage to do so without the cloying anti-consumerist shtick that Beshty’s other work on exhibit is guilty of.

My favorite exhibit there though is “Hard Light,” works all dealing with light. When you first step into the exhibit, you enter a dark room occupied by a polygonal shape of screens that provides the only light in the room with their images of loneliness. The work is Doug Aitken’s “Interiors” and wandering around the exterior of this piece is way more fun than actually entering it and watching it from the interior of the structure. When you circle the screens, you enter all these dark creepy corners, and the experience provokes feelings and sensations that a solitary image in a lit gallery setting is rarely able to deliver. Bruce Nauman’s “Green Light Corridor” was another work that you experienced rather than looked at. At first I thought this narrow, perhaps one foot wide green corridor was just for the looking, but a kind attendant asked me if I wanted to walk through it. I did, and I started to try to fit through it, half walking sideways, before the guard told me I had to walk all the way sideways. And so taking baby steps, and bumping against both walls of this green corridor, I made it to the other end. I made it. I made it.


* PS- I just noticed reading through Foxy's website that appearantly Sascha had work in the "Infinite Fill" show.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

I just ate an order of fried dumplings which I dipped and redipped until they were totally saturated with it, with soy sauce. Fried salty foods are so intoxicating, the taste, all that cholesterol producing a great high without many parallels in this world. Rebecca is coming to sleep at my house sometime soon. I am happy to see an old friend, particularly Rebecca.

There is a review of Dale Peck's Hatchet Jobs in today's NY Times, which pissed me off so much with its facile asserstions about what literary criticism should be, how it should be gentle. I am going to fashion a response to this review which you will see soon. But this is the kicker right here:

It's the relish on this hotdog that turns the stomach. He promises never to do it again, but the very title ''Hatchet Jobs'' reeks of market niche, an underground service like fumigation or garbage recycling. His alibi for being unfair is that he's a novelist, and they lie a lot. But his reputation would have long since earned him the right at his various pillboxes and lemonade stands to review any book he chose, out of hundreds of good ones needing discovery among tens of thousands cynically published, and yet he almost always seems to pick a punching bag, or draw his own bull's-eye on the passing chump. This is lazy, churlish and even demagogic.

I was going to suggest some hard-won guidelines for responsible reviewing. For instance: First, as in Hippocrates, do no harm. Second, never stoop to score a point or bite an ankle. Third, always understand that in this symbiosis, you are the parasite. Fourth, look with an open heart and mind at every different kind of book with every change of emotional weather because we are reading for our lives and that could be love gone out the window or a horseman on the roof. Fifth, use theory only as a periscope or a trampoline, never a panopticon, a crib sheet or a license to kill. Sixth, let a hundred Harolds Bloom. But instead I'll tell a story.

I am so tired of the strong reaction people have to Dale Peck, the desire to silence him. I am really wondering if John Leonard read all of the essays in the book because he instead just quotes from the ones which are already heavily known, the Moody piece, the Pynchon piece. Peck's rhetoric is harsh and abrasive, but always insightful. Leonard does not talk about Peck's spot-on critique of gay and black woman genre fiction. Peck does a nice job of examining Phillip Roth's misogyny, and in his closing essay, he talks about why he does these "hatchet jobs." I don't have the book to quote from, but he responds to the charge that he does not enumerate the good aspects of these writers because that that has already been done, that that is all that is done. That these writers have been nothing but praised, and that he, Peck, is trying to be a counter-discursive voice, pointing and showing us the Emperor's nakedness. Peck is one of the few voices that is both willing and intelligent enough to piss on these sacred cows (David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, etc.) And so, I get very annoyed when I read stuff like this crappy review that wag their finger at Peck for being critical, for not writing fluff, for being a good critic. John Leonard is no better than Stanley Crouch, who physically tried to silence Peck. And an interesting tidbit I learned last week during the gossip about the Crouch-Peck scuffle is that Dale Peck shares an apartment with Choire Sicha, the writer of Gawker.

Today, I just started reading the other big lit crit book of recent, James Wood's The Irresponsible Self. My feet are itching. That is nothing new. I have a new friend crush, of course straight, and of course, a co-worker, but I want to make him my friend. He seems so cool. And Rebecca is now on her way here. Good night.

Friday, July 16, 2004

There are few more frustrating feelings in this world than the feeling that you have wasted your time, waited an hour for something and did not even get to do it, but had you been willing to wait an hour more you could have. And two hours is certainly too long a time to wait to get into a show, but so is one hour and that hour was already lost, so really, what would have been another hour?

I am talking about the massively crowded show at Volume last night. The email confirmation I got telling me I was on the guestlist said to get there at 7:30, that they expected a massive line, and I ignored that, thinking it was one of those warnings no one heeded. As such, I got there shortly after eight with Joe and saw a line stretching down the block from the entrance, a really long line. We got to the end of it to see that that was not the end of it, not at all, that it went around the corner and stretched down the entire length of a city block. We got to the end, only to discover that that was also not the true end, that the line again turned around a corner and went about half way down the block. So basically the line took up three sides of a city block, and you know how people talk about Williamsburg, how it is so hip and cool and filled with nothing but young, pretty hipsters. This is not always clearly apparent. Last night, however, it was. The area around Volume was a surreal Never Neverland, nothing but young twenty somethings with nice haircuts and tight jeans occupying the streets, the sidewalks. It was an amazing spectacle, all these human bodies, all of them my peers, most of them probably intelligent and able. It was also more than a little intimidating at first.

We saw some people in the middle of the line we knew, but I was afraid to cut and so we went to the end of the line. After about ten minutes in line, some officials told the line that the event was sold out and they wer only letting in people on the guestlist. About half the line left at this point and I felt very special to be on the guestlist, felt slightly cooler than all those people that had intimidated me and who were not going to be able to get in to the show. The line then started to move slowly, slowly, slowly around the corners and I saw Matt, a new co-worker, who was not in line and told him and his friend that they could join us since we were on the list. I kept on seeing people I knew passing by, and kept talking to them. Events like these are so funny to me where everyone in the world is at them, and where you run into people you know, roommates, co-workers, friends on these streets of New York, these streets we were led to believe were busy and anonymous before we actually moved here and started running into people we knew everywhere.

When we were only about fifteen people away from the door, the line suddenly came to a halt with the fire department there ready to shut it down for overcrowding, and it was soon a policy of one person out, one person in. And of course, no one is going to leave the show right after it starts, and so we were stuck there, immobile. Slowly the people we had collected and told to join us in line all departed, tired of waiting and I thought back to that time I waited in the cold to see the Fiery Furnaces, in an immobile line and never even got in. It seemed like it was going to be a very similar situation. After about an hour and half in line, Joe and I called it quits, telling Dara and her friends who had just joined us to use our names to get in.

After leaving, while walking home, we got a call from Christy, who was just leaving the event because she was lucky and actually got in. We wandered through the Feast of the Giglio street fair by my neighborhood before going back to my apartment to hang out. Christy got a picture of herself with a Unicorn. This morning, Dara told me that she waited in line for another hour but got in, and the bands she saw were good. She also picked up all these exciting promo CD's that I have been listening to today. Niki got to see the Unicorns play. And I am a little sad that I did not get to see any of the bands play, that I did not even get to see one play, and that we were so close to where they cut off the line, and that I was late in meeting Joe, and that we didn't cut in line, and on and on.

I got drunk really easily last night, eventually went to Metropolitian with Christy, Joe, and Peter. I flirted with some old man from Chelsea who is basically in charge of updating He gave me a cupcake and was really nice. That was before Peter and I wrestled in the middle of the bar, provoking claps and cheers from patrons of the bar. Chelsea Man, scandalized, then told Joe I was crazy. But I had all this energy that I was expecting was going to get outlet at the rock show, but that didn't happen. I got some of it out last night dancing and wrestling. But there is still so much. Maybe I will go out and dance tonight. That probably still won't solve it. There will always be some, looking for an outlet, and I am happy about that, never want the source to dry up. I sat on my neighbor's roof for a few minutes last night while Peter was smoking and the sky was lovely, this Brooklyn night sky. And everything about this life is beautiful. I was so happy on my roof last night, thinking about my life and how beautiful things are when I allow them to be, when I don't resist it. I am seeing this more and more, reseeing this. There was a long stretch of time, this past winter and spring when I was sort of lacking spirit, not recognizing things I normally had, not having people think I am crazy, and it is coming back to me, some source of energy, and excitement toward the act of living. I have been making banter with customers in the Strand who normally I would not have in my sullenness. I am digging through Au Bon Pain's trash when I get off work each night for yummy pastries and occasionally sharing them with panhandlers on the subway. And when I get off the subway, most important of all, when I see that first stretch of sky, when I look to my right and see the parking lot right behind Kellog's Diner, I see those couple of trees in the back of the lot that always look stunning against the stretch of sky that is there, especially if it is near dusk. This sight is one of my favorite sights in New York. I am going to take a picture of it. I am going to take pictures of all my favorite daily sights and share them with you.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Sometimes when I am drinking one or the other, I will think briefly about how much I used to detest the taste of both coffee and beer. Right now, I am drinking coffee and am in heaven doing so. As a kid, I thought drinking it tasted like cigarrette ash. Sometimes I will walk by people on the street who are carrying a steaming cup of coffee, and the scent will wift up my nostrils for a brief moment, just enough to let me taste it, and for me to start craving coffee like nothing else. Coffee and I started to get along towards the end of high school. Now it is a full blown love affair.

My relationship with beer started much later. In college for my first two years, it was something I forced myself to drink, hating the taste of it, but wanting to get trashed. Then I started stealing nice beers from the grocery store with Bonnie (Newcastle, Bass, etc.), and then slowly I started to enjoy the tastes of these beers. Then I lived in Wisconsin for a summer, where good beer is cheap and in large supply, and god, now, any beer tastes good to me. That smooth cold taste of barley and hops has few competitors for things that instantly please my tongue. And now, I buy Milwaukee's Best because it is 2.99 for a six pack at Key Food, buy it way too frequently, and I love the taste of that even.

Tonight, I am going to Volume to see a free show with lots of bands I want to see (Erase Errata, Les Georges Leningrad, The Unicorns, and more). In addition, there will be free Red Stripe for two hours, which really is not a good beer, it is just imported Milwaukee's Best with a better marketing campaign, and it sort of boggles my mind that it is not 2.99 for a six pack and that still people buy it, and seem to be happy with their expensive purchase. But I will drink it and I will love it.

Today, I did laundry, which I then brought home and dumped on my bed. I then sprawled out lying on my laundry, looking at the blue sky outside my window and read from the various books I am juggling right now: the comics McSweeneys, Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon, and Hank Stuever's Off Ramp. All of them quite excellent. There is a Nashville Babylon also. I have never seen it in my life. I may have to order someone's old copy off Amazon. But don't forget the warm laundry underneath my back, my legs, my head. A little mountain of laundry - my body molding to its shape, and that blue sky out my window, the fan blowing that cool breeze inside, those blue skies over me and my laundry. I love having days off and not taking the subway anywhere, not leaving my neighborhood. I thought for a moment when I was walking to the store this morning that I could smell the ocean. Then I thought it was probably just fish in someone's trash, I am not sure, but my excitement provoked by the possible scent of the ocean filled with me longings and memories that pleased me more than I think I could ever hope to explain to you.

I still have yet to fold my laundry or put the sheets back on my bed. I am not sure when I will.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Today's indie rock star encounter happened in my subway stop while I was waiting for the train to approach. Adam Green (of Moldy Peaches and solo fame) stood next to me to wait for the train. I pretended not to know who he was and continued to stare into space. Covertly, however, peeking at him. The train came. I sat in one of those two person seaters, and he sat next to me. He read The Little Prince and I looked at the illustrations over his shoulder, trying to remember the parts of the story.

Today, I got sent to pick up my boss's Viagra prescription. A roach just touched my toe. Niki may or may not move into the apartment downstairs. I find out tomorrow. I talked to Peter, half jokingly about moving to Mexico City with him. I am slightly hungry but know it is bad to eat right before you go to bed, but I think I may have to risk getting fat because there is leftover Chinese food in my fridge that is yummy.

Monday, July 12, 2004

It is so silly to get upset about this, since it has no chance of getting two thirds of the votes in the Senate this week, and even if so, it would still require two thirds support in the house, and then must be ratified by the legislatures of 38 states. And yet, when I read about Bush's efforts to promote a ban on gay marriage, I get more than a little pissed off. And I know that this is the goal, to inspire a similiar feeling of "this is war" with people opposed to gay marriage, to rally the base.

Last week, I read Michael Warner's The Trouble with Normal. The book is now a few years old and so some of the arguments he makes seem a little dated. It is written in response to Andrew Sullivan's Virtually Normal, and also in response and in retaliation against the efforts of those trying to neuter the gay/queer movement by desexualizing it, by arguing that they are mainstream, just like the rest of middle America. Sections of the book that stuck to this main argument, I had no trouble rallying behind. But in the third chapter of his book, "Beyond Gay Marriage," I got more than a little annoyed with his flippancy towards not only what marriage means to some people, but to the benefits they would enjoy under marriage, and the benefits they are denied by its denial to them. He does mention these benefits, but does not really go into explicits. For instance, lifetime partners being denied visitation rights by homophobic families even if their partner is dying. He, instead makes an argument that queers should argue for a more expanded notion of marriage, common law marriage, to include multiple partners, siblings who reside together, and other households so that no one is denied benefits. Which is a noble enough idea, albeit a pretty unattainable one. And so he is dismissive of those pushing for gay marriage, saying that they should instead work on AIDS funding, real sex education, fighting anti-porn zoning laws, and fighting anti-sodomy laws (which with Lawrence vs. Texas, also makes his book a little dated).

His analysis into how gay marriage became the issue national gay orginizations took up is pretty insightful, and he does a fine job of articulating the possible risks to queer culture if marriage were to occur. However, he probably does overstate the risks. A few years ago, I would have been more in agreement with this section of the book, but Bush and conservative efforts have probably done more to rally queers to the cause of gay marriage than Human Rights Campaign would ever have been able to.

I wonder what Warner would argue these days since at one point he says, "This campaign is not likely to result in same-sex marriage, despite the claims of its most triumphal prophets" (144). Now that gay marriage exists (in Mass. and for what may be a short time), his arguments against it because of its unattainability seem only like nay-saying. I really liked the last two sections of the book though and his analysis of shame in the first section, and below the cut are lots of quotes from it.

Reading that story in the NY Times this morning woke me up. I wish I could have this energy and this willingness to fight on my own, and it wouldn't take getting slapped to provoke me to hit back. Kerry and Edwards have said that they will go back to the Senate to vote against it even though they don't support gay marriage, but adding that they support gay rights. This is Seinfeld's addendum of "Not that there's anything wrong with that." How long until there is vocal support for things that are right? How long until Ginsberg's cry of, "America, when will you be angelic?" won't have any force? I am tired of being talked about in ambivalent terms by people who are not comfortable with my sexuality. I am going to scream and scream, outscream you. My voice is louder. And you and your ambivalence will have three options. Run from the screaming. Cover my mouth and try telling me to shut-up. Or hug me.

Many gay people as well think there would be nothing wrong with the death of Christopher Street. Neighborhoods change, times change. There will be new places to go. The gay neighborhood, for example, has already moved to Chelsea. And why not? No need to romanticize the West Village, or be nostalgic about it.

One problem with this view is that Chelsea has no non-commercial public space to match the old piers at the end of Christopher. Its strip along Eighth Avenue is wealthier, whiter, less hospitable to non-residents. The trannies are not going to hang out at Banana Republic. And the disparity is only going to get worse. 151-152

Isolation and silence are among the most common conditions for the politics of sexual shame. Autonomy requires more than civil liberty; it requires the circulation and accessibility of sexual knowledge, along with the public elaboration of a social world that can make less alienated relations possible. A public sexual culture is not just a civil liberty—like the right to deny the Holocaust and march in Skokie—but a good thing, and queer politics should make it a priority. This does not mean that I am arguing against privacy. Quite the contrary: the politics of privatization, in my view, destroys real privacy even as it erodes public activity. 171-172

Within the culture of public sex, of course, very different recognitions and very different articulacy are possible. The sexual cultures of gay men and lesbians are, after all, cultures in ways that are often forgotten, especially when they are treated simply as a mass of deviants looking for hormonally driven release. They recognize themselves as cultures, with their own knowledges, places, practices, languages, and learned modes of feeling. The naive belief that sex is simply an inborn instinct still exerts its power, but most gay men and lesbians know that the sex they have was not innate nor entirely of their own making, but learned--learned by participating, in scenes of talk as well as of fucking. One learns both the elaborated codes of a subculture, with its rituals and typologies (top/bottom, butch/femme, and so on), but also simply the improvisational nature of unpredicted situations. As queers we do not always share the same tastes or practices, though often enough we learn new pleasures from others. 177-178

A public sexual culture changes the nature of sex, much as a public intellectual culture changes the nature of thought. Sexual knowledges can be made cumulative. They circulate. The extreme instances of this are in the invention of new practices or pleasures, as Michel Foucault noticed when he remarked that, with fist-fucking, gay men had invented the first wholly new sexual act in thousands of years. Even apart from this example, lesbians and gay men with relatively modest tastes can still recognize that their own bodies have been remapped by participation in a queer sexual culture, that each touch, gesture, or sensation condenses lessons learned not only through one’s own experience, but through the experience of others. 178

When gay men or lesbians cruise, when they develop a love of strangers, they directly eroticize participation in the public world of their privacy. Contrary to myth, what one relishes in loving strangers is not mere anonymity, nor meaningless release. It is the pleasure of belonging to a sexual world, in which one’s sexuality finds an answering resonance no just in one other, but in a world of others. 179

This effect in the rhetoric of shame is more than simply an individual affect. It isolates contexts and publics from each other, dividing them by amnesias. The rhetoric of antiporn activism is full of terms like “sleaze,” “filth,” and “smut.” These words, conceptually vacuous, do nothing to say why porn is bad. It is impossible to argue with them; their purpose is not to provide reasoned argument. Their purpose it to throw shame, to make a rival point of view seem unimaginable. 181

Pornography and adult businesses jeopardize the amenesias separating sex and public culture in large part because of their physical orientation toward an indefinite public; they are media of acknowledgement. Having been reared in the bosom of Jesus, I never, it happens, saw gay porn until I began graduate school. I had had sex with men for years on the side, but I didn’t think I was gay. I thought I was just wicked. The first porn images I saw, in a magazine belonging to a friend, set me suddenly to think, “I could be gay.” Why did these pictures trigger my recognition when years of sleeping with men somehow didn’t? It’s because the men in the pictures were not only doing what I wanted to do, they were doing it with a witness: the camera. Or rather, a world of witnesses, including the infrastructure for producing, distributing, selling, and consuming these texts. This whole world could be concretized in places like Christopher Street or Times Square, but also in the formal language of pornography. In order for the porn to exist, not only did some of its producers have to have gay sex, they and many others had to acknowledge that they were having it. What is traded in pornographic commerce is not just speech, privately consumed; it is publicly certifiable recognition. This is part of the meaning of every piece of porn, and what is difficult to communicate in the dominant culture is the publicity or porn has profoundly different meanings for nonnormative sex practices. When it comes to resources of recognition, queers do not begin on a level playing field.

The implicit publicity of porn is what feels so scandalous about it. The potentially creative effect of that publicity is lost from view in those versions of anitporn feminism that describe pornography merely as objectification or violence. 184-18

“Public sex” is public in the sense that it takes place outside the home, but it usually takes places in areas that have chosen for their seclusion, and like all sex involves extremely intimate and private associations. 173

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Oh my god. I just checked my bank account balance online to see that my account has about twice as much money as I thought it had in it. So, I told the payroll people that I wanted to end direct deposit last week after too many problems with it, and they said okay. So this Friday, I went and picked up a paycheck for 230.60 and deposited it. Looking online just now, I saw that there was also a deposit from the Strand for 230.60!!!

What does this mean? Surely, this is something that I am sure the payroll department will notice when they see that two checks for the identical amount were deposited by me. Will they demand the money back when they notice it? Will they just take it out of my paycheck? Or, what if they don't notice? If they do notice, it will be one more reason for them to hate me.

I am fairly convinced the managers hate me because of my lack of work ethic (always wanting to leave early, occasional tardiness, etc.), and want to get rid of me. Today, they seemed visibly angry when I asked to leave work today a short hour and a half after getting there at three. I felt like I was going to throw up every time I moved and so spent most of that time at work, resting my head against bookshelves and thinking of how much I wanted to lie down. I came home and slept slept slept and now feel so much better. I also felt better that I got paid twice, but now that glee has been lost to worries about whether or not they will notice this.
Last night, I went and saw a few bands play at Northsix: Willpower, Cazwell, and Gravy Train. All queer acts. By the time Gravy Train finally played, I had consumed nine beers, cut the tip of my finger on one of them, danced to the other bands, and eaten a doughnut. In the bar before they played, Hunx stopped me and asked me if he knew me. I was pretty excited that he recognized me from being at just two of his other shows many months ago. I told him that I had been to a few shows before and that I am the boy that always tries to make out with him. That elicited laughs from the whole Train.

I am not really that into their music anymore. I think it is weak on so many levels, but I went because they are a fun band to get drunk and dance to. Their set indeed did prove to be fun music to dance to. At some point, Hunx jumped out to where I was and I got to dance with/molest him for a bit. The set ended and the girl next to me wanted more music, and I suggested she just go backstage and hang out with them. This girl who I didn't know said, "Want to?" And soon, without Peter or Joe or Niki (because I was really drunk and did not notice or care that they had left), with some random girl I headed backstage. There was an open seat on a bench in between Hunx and JD from Le Tigre. And do you think with nine beers in my system, I had any reservation about plopping down between these little hipster rock celebs?

Good answer. I sat there and found out that the new Le Tigre album is coming out in October, and Hunx said it had a totally different sound. The adjectives he used to describe it, I cannot remember. JD soon left but not before praising Hunx and Gravy Train for such a long time, complimenting them, telling them how much she loves them, and pointing to the Gravy Train button she was wearing as evidence. I talked to Hunx about something or other until Niki came in and occupied the space where JD had been. I tried to ignore Niki and focus on the object of my desire, but I was unsuccessful. I talked to Niki and Hunx started to talk to some friend. Niki and I left after saying good-bye to the good humored female members of Gravy Train (is it Drunx and Funx?), and met up with Peter and Joe again outside. And for whatever reasons (death wish, maybe?), I went and had more beer at Metropolitian with Peter.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

the pursuit of happiness

America, it is only a short two days after the 4th of July, and I've been thinking and not thinking about you. The glare off the roof right outside my window, off that silver surfacing coat on top of it - that glare is amazing. There are blue skies, blue blue skies above it. You know all those images of the Greek isles, all those white buildings packed against each other, set against a magnificent blue sky? Lately when I look out my window, I see the Brooklyn equivalent of that, see something better even. Windowless sides of building, either white or gray, absorbing those sun rays, another building stacked against it, building after building, different heights, different distances, just like those white houses on those Greek isles. And there is a beautiful sky here also, a lovely blue that will you make think not only the day, but that life is going to be great. There is a poinceana tree with pink flowers right beyond that silver roof outside my window. There are Puerto Rican flags hung from fire escapes; a brick building with two old paint jobs, half of it blue, half of it pink. And these are the things I think of when I think of you, America.

I think of how Florida roads are ash gray or the slightest shade of tan, and I am not sure if they were made this way, or if the sun is just so strong there, that the colors fade, if they are bleached by the sun. I never found out the answer while living there, but those roads, time spent on them in other people's cars is what I think of when I think of that place. I think of getting drunk and dancing to songs about big asses and sometimes having sex with other drunken boys. And god, these do not stop, these things conjured, the sneaking into movies, the cheese-flavored products, the bbq rib shacks, the pizza delivered to movie nights, the midnight bike rides. And I have an endless supply of these things, these memories of you, and so I am sometimes shocked into incomprehension when I hear people, my peers, my overprivleged peers talk about what a shitty country this is, talk about healthcare and crappy jobs, and probably talking about it in contrast to only a handful of countries in western Europe. I really am confused by bitter people. I don't know how to relate. I know things could be better, probably a lot better, but I don't think loving these states, this place we live, that doing that is incompatible with an awareness of the disasterous effects of both our foriegn and domestic policy. It's childish, the rolling of the eyes, the snarky comments, the bitter jokes.

I asked a boy at a gay club on the 4th after the spectacular fireworks show viewed from a roof in Greenpoint, asked a boy what liberties he was celebrating on this 4th. He may have been drunk, but it's more likely that he was just an airhead, and after a pause, like he just figured out the answer to a really difficult riddle, proudly exclaimed he was wearing red, white, and blue. And in a striking way, this boy had a lot in common with the two bitter people I heard yesterday bitching about how much this country sucks. And I walked away with my own America, walked away in both situations. I am chasing love and all things beautiful and I have no time for people that are not. Driving through all you roadblocks, you waving hands telling me to stop, to slow down. Got to keep going. You can catch up later.

Saturday, July 3, 2004

Do not mumble things under your breath as retail employees walk away from you, especially Strand retail employees. They will not take it. Earlier today, some woman was sprawled out with her fat ass all over a stack of books I needed to shelve. I kindly said, "Excuse me." She moved for a second to let me get books and then plopped her ass down again, and then when I walked away, mumbled something. I swiveled around, pissed that someone was being so passive, and said, "Excuse me, what did you say?" A little flustered, she said, "Your welcome," implying that I should have said Thank you. This is about where I lost it. She then started to talk about common courtesy, trying to act kind and saying she was just reminding that it was nice to say "Please" and "Thank you." I told her what common courtesy was and what she actually meant, told her that it was the epitome of incourteous to obstruct an aisle for everyone else and then when asked politely to let me by, then to feel so entitled, so privleged that she should demand a thank you for moving her fat ass off a stack of books where it did not belong. This went on for about five minutes. She kept on trying to just go back to reading her books, but I would not quit. I was fucking pissed. She finally left and told me I was being rude.

Later in the day, an old gay man told me he had noticed my hands while I was shelving and that they were so nice and long. He asked to see them, he pressed my right hand against his left hand, and mine was bigger than his. He held it to his hand a little too long for my comfort, the perv, and I pulled it away, happy and slightly turned on that some dirty, old man wanted to touch my hand.

I left work early to watch the sunset at Pier 54, and if you ever get down, or start to doubt what this life has to offer, do this, go watch the sunset, and you will be reminded of so much. This I must do more often.

Friday, July 2, 2004

I just went to the bathroom and used the very last square on the roll of what was already our almost finished roll of toilet paper. Before I left the house today, I mentally noted that I had to stop at the bodega on my way home to pick up more of the t.p. However, I did not do that even though I did stop at the bodega on the way home. Instead, I did manage to pick up a six pack of beer. The second beer of which I am already drinking probably less than ten minutes after getting home. I just talked to Joe on the phone and he called me a lush. But god, I really thought I was going to die if I did not get a beer in my system fast while I was at museums this evening. And because I am both too poor to do so and too shy to do so by myself I did not go into a bar even though I really wanted to. And really, why going to museums makes me really hungry and thirsty for beer, I do not know.

Within an hour of being in a museum, even if I just ate pounds of food right before hand, I will be ravenous, fucking ready to collapse if I don't get food in my belly, there are tummy noises, and I cannot even concentrate, cannot really interact with art in any real way because I am rushing through, hoping to get to food faster. I think my body has never gotten over that childhood association of museums with dreadfully boring, escape at all costs, food, food. So I rushed through the Ed Ruscha show at the Whitney, which I didn't enjoy nearly as much as looking at his monographs, or coming across one of his works in a room with works by other artists. It just got a little tiring, the schtick, which normally I am a big fan of.

Then I went upstairs to see the Ana Mendieta show because I thought I should it see while I was there, and it wasn't so much the art so much that annoyed me as the descriptions the curator wrote which made really generalized comments about Feminism, without distinguishing which one it was talking about. Fucking ravenous, and so really easily annoyed by things I otherwise might let slide. Then I left the Whitney and sprinted up to the Met to try to see the Byzantium exhibit and Goldsworthy's installation on the roof. The roof was closed. I saw the Byzantium exhibit, looked at some Caravaggio and that gorgeous Rodin sculpture of the naked young lad right in the middle of that hall, and then starving, but too tired to go to the subway right away, sat on the steps out front, where I ran into Steven and his girlfriend. And I was shocked to see them on the street because that is the benefit of going uptown, that you never run into anyone you know, but no! Then, I walked down 79th Street because it was nice and deserted, only to walk by FSG boy, this man that comes into the Strand about everyday to sell books that I have a crush on, and who I have never ever talked to. But we exchanged knowing eye contact, that yes, you are from the Strand.

I ran to the subway, got off at Bedford, ate pizza, picked up beer, and came home to soon start drinking it. Hopefully, I will be watching a movie at Joe's house soon. My neighbors are setting off firecrackers as I write this, and it has me giddy about the 4th, about beer, about friends, and spectacular fireworks, and yes, about this land of ours, these states.

PS - Jaymay Seerman may soon again become a housemate, if not a roommate. She is hopefully going to move into the second floor apartment in my building. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, July 1, 2004

The similarities struck me earlier this afternoon while I was leisurely masturbating in my bed on my day off, passing from one erotic memory to the next, to an even more random one, dug out from some not too often plundered recess of the mind, to a comment Travis Ralston made about sex in eighth grade. Travis Ralston, being the jockey male who used to tease me and who I used to be more than a little obsessed with, and it was a very odd fascination because that is when I was still not even closeted as gay – this is when I still would not even allow myself the privilege of being in the masturbatory sex fantasies with Travis, or with any other boy. I imagined them having sex with some girl, or remembered their bodies undressing close to me in the locker room, because I was not gay. Yeah, but what is it, eight years later now? And I still occasionally come back to these memories, digging them out of that shoebox every once in a while and recalling, reliving the erotic history of my life, the admittedly sparse erotic history of my life. There is a finite number of these memories, I could probably catalog them all easily, but I am ashamed not only at divulging all of these seemingly innocuous moments from my pre-sexually active life that I have imbued with an erotic import way beyond that which they deserve, but I am also be afraid that by doing so, putting it down, it will make me see that they probably don’t deserve such erotic import while I am masturbating, and these treasures already so few, would become even smaller in number.

But to try to explain these similarities, to even tell you what they are, I must first let you in and show you what’s in the suitcase, what exactly it is Marcellus is holding in there, what the source of that light is when the suitcase is cracked open. But to do this requires trust and more than a little hesitation on my part because I am going to give an example, am going to tell you about the Travis fantasy I had this early afternoon in my bed here in Brooklyn, mentally occupying a middle school somewhere on the southern edge of Alexandria, Virginia, and so you must also do your part here, and see the treasure for what it is. If you have any giggles, get them out of your system now. I must be able to still masturbate to these memories, that is all I ask. Some details are going to be withheld, because those are for me to always retain, but here is Travis, sitting right next to me in Home Room because the seats are arranged alphabetically and R, Ralston, come right after Q, me. It is the shop classroom, and so we are seated at those big wooden tables. We are at the same side of the table, he is seated right to my left, towards the front of the class, and so whenever we looked at the front of the class, he was right in my line of vision, this rough boy with thick fingers. In gym class, his locker was right across from mine, and so I had a supply of images of him in his underwear that I would recall on demand when I was looking in his direction in homeroom, images that would be easily recalled whenever he made some lewd comments to the other people at our table, of course, all cool people, all those P and R last names were always the cool people, and I was always the odd Q, liking it best when we could sit wherever we wanted, except of course when Travis was in a class, because if it was arranged alphabetically, he would never be far, and though he teased me often, called me faggot, hit me more than a few times in gym, there was some sick pleasure derived from the teasing. It was attention from this buff, coarse boy. And I would often go home in the afternoons and masturbate until my mom got home from work, roughly 2:30 – 5:30 every weekday, oftentimes to thoughts of my interactions with Travis, of him in his Peace Frogs underwear, and to the comment he made about how much sex he had that day in Home Room. And I have remembered that comment since that day when I went home and masturbated to Travis’s braggadocio. What occurred here earlier this afternoon is further remembrance. The desire for someone that I could only look at, someone that treated me like shit was how I first emerged as a sexual being. Some weird mix of voyeurism and a masochistic pleasure in being shamed, being rejected.

And I think I am over it, but I have thought that many times, and today while masturbating to this thought of Travis, I laughed because the similarities hit me, last night still fresh on my mind. Had I had actual gay sex experiences prior to this Travis infatuation, I wonder if now I would now possess a different rubric of desire, perhaps a more healthy one, or at the very least, a more successful one, as in getting laid more often. This afternoon, I saw the continuum from Travis to Shane Riley to Andrew Hossack to Ben Haber to Matt to my desires last night at Metropolitan.

Rebecca called me last night, said she was in town for one night, travelling through to Maine, and that she was going to be at my favorite bar. I was giddy at the luck that she was going to be going to my neighborhood bar and rushed over to meet her, had an awesome time dancing, which normally does not occur at Metropolitan, but last night, Florida kids took over the floor and I was so happy. Later in the evening, sitting out on the back patio, I watched Christopher* and Jason walk right past me on their way home. Christopher did not say hi even though I have talked to him eight million times. I turned my head to watch him pass (yes, yes – insert that Whitman “to see him pass” line here), and saw his beautiful erratic mannerisms and his mop of brown hair and wanted to melt into the ground with my unfulfilled desire. And that is what I am talking about, this is the Travis method of desire I still am held sway by, at least now though it is gay boys, and so that is some improvement, and I no longer masturbate to thoughts of being shamed. However, the rejection definitely does stir a large amount of the desire. And then I thought I was being too dramatic, that I could have said hi also, and realized that I should not get sad because a boy walks past me, that Rebecca is here who I never see. And then moments later, Kevin walks by. That is when I left, not wanting to run into Kevin’s appendage, Matt. I talked to Rebecca in my bed until both of us started to get sleepy, and that was nice, real nice.

Desire is such an intricate mix of factors that I know I have bungled the job here and reduced something complex and beautiful to an easily pointed to fetish. Oh, he likes to be rejected; he gets off on shame. And that is too simple, I hope you understand that. I am not sure I can ever fully account for why I am attracted to certain people, but even more so, why I continue to be attracted to people when they act like jerks. I am not sure I would ever want to be able to account for the whys. Oh, and about that asterisk: Christopher* is not the same Christopher I went out to brunch with the other day. He is the boy I met about a year ago at Phoenix and who I was obsessed with for a while and who I talked to just about every time I went out to some gay bar, but who always seemed a little frightened by my giddiness. There are so many Christophers that I know. Last week, I erased five Christophers from my phone because I did not know who was who and I never called any of them anyway. Numbers gotten in bars never used. I put non-asterisk Christopher’s number into my phone again after I made out with him last week. He called me on the day of Pride Parade and wanted to meet up. I didn’t call him back. I am not planning on it. Desire fucking amazes me, how fragile its life is, how short lived.