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.

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