Sunday, August 31, 2008

the end of summer

I was looking at Diego last night while dancing with him, smiling a lot, really happy about this person in my life, him so beautiful. We went into the bathroom together. We started to kiss and I was in the midst of intense affection for Diego. I am not sure what brought on his comment, the discussion. It seemed to have just occurred. He made a comment about how much he likes me, likes me in a way that he wasn't sure I understood, and that he felt that I didn't feel similarly. This was all calm, all matter of fact, and he continued, saying he knew that he wasn't it for me, that he wasn't Gabriel, that the two of us are not the same, and that I should go after Gabriel.

This set me back, pulled me down from whatever cloud I was on that night, and forced me to have a conversation about these things. The conversation was especially troubling for Gabriel's entrance into it. This was a subject I didn't really discuss with Diego, obviously, and yet for him to pick up on it, to tell me things, to tell me that I was meant to be with the boy who I had thought the same thing about, thought the same thing about for a couple years or so, and who finally, just recently, I have given up liking after realizing what a futile and harmful waste of energy it was - that was distressing. The music was very loud at this bar and I had to strain my ear to his mouth to hear all of this and the entire thing made me feel like a mess, like a fuck up. The boy I like telling me that what we have is not it and that I should be with some other boy who doesn't want me - some vague recollections of gym class in this moment, no one wanting me on their team and being pushed off on to the other team that didn't want me.

I agreed with him, that it wasn't it, both of us knowing that, "it" a place marker for everything we couldn't say and didn't know how to, an admission of language's limitations, instead using this unspecified "it" to conjure those things at language's edges, ideas of love and emotion just outside of our ability to describe them, that "it" feeling. We both knew. And so saying these things to each other, I asked him what he wanted, what his goal was in saying these things, that now, knowing that this is not it, do we continue to engage in this nice, pleasant relationship, both of us liking each other a great deal, or, forgo that, that by continuing this thing, we may be preventing other moments from being realized with other people, potential its?

He said that he didn't want to end things, but that he didn't know if we should. I didn't know either. He came over, slept in my bed, and left before we had a chance to finish the conversation.

I think that things may end, that that may be best, but about that I am not sure. I am sure about so little these days. I do know that I occasionally get giddy and heartsick about people and that I want those feelings and maybe it's time to be totally free to pursue that. I don't know. I know that I like old rock and roll and that I feel lonely most of the time and that my head and heart are full of dreams. I read books and there are things described and I want those things, that I don't mind this wandering, that one day I'll find the thing I think I am looking for. I heard from an old crush a few days ago. We are supposed to go on a bike ride soon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

patti smith

I was thinking about sin yesterday, whether I still have any conception of it, whether the concept holds any currency with me, and whether the guilt that I feel after doing something "wrong" is some remnant of my early Catholic upbringing. So when Patti Smith came out for her encore last night at the park at Lincoln Center and she started singing "Gloria," I got very emotional, got chills up and down, and felt ready to cry, because she was talking about sin and about being responsible for your own, or something else, but it hinted at truth, or at least the one I was looking to hear, and those opening lines I was so ready to sing with her:

Jesus died for somebody's sin
but not mine

The night before I did stupid, harmful shit. I went to a sex party and had unprotected sex with someone with HIV. I was very drunk and stoned, but more than that I was my reckless self, satisfying the devil inside me, the thing hungry and always asking for sex, dirtier, naughtier, and I had to feed it. It was on the subway ride home that I really started to hate myself, though it would seem that perhaps that that moment actually occurred earlier, that the self-hatred must have been present when I was engaging in knowingly risky sex. But on the subway ride back to my house, four something in the morning, I started to get really down, wondering what was to be done with me, that I continue to engage in really destructive behavior despite having already taken PEP treatment, knowing how annoying that was, despite having friends with HIV, despite so many things, countless really, I continue to do this, have unsafe sex, sometimes even with people with HIV.

Some changes have to be made. I already had some other changes in mind, more personal and artistic ones, but apparently many other ones need to be made. I really don't think that I can attend naughty parties anymore, and a friend told me that it may already be too late to make that resolution, that I may have already infected myself, and that is true. And I have been given quite a lot of second chances, have engaged in risky behavior numerous times and have always come out unscathed, but this party may have been it, may have been something else. I guess I will find out in a couple of months. This has become a routine. I have unsafe sex, freak out about it just below the conscious level for three months, wondering if I am going to test positive, test negative, feel free, out of the woods, and then repeat, the periods of time where I am sure that I don't have HIV much shorter, much more brief, than the long three month windows of not knowing. And I hate that. I honestly don't know why, hating that, that I continue to put myself into that situation. I am so confused about my actions and why I engage in some, and I kept coming back to the subject of sin yesterday, thinking what it means to be sex-positive for the most part, to be liberated about notions of guilt and attachment, to have a pretty free attitude toward sex, and then coupled with that for there still to be in me somewhere the Catholic childhood, the thing that said sex was wrong, that masturbation was, the two of those things holding erotic sway because I wasn't supposed to engage them in, a thrill being obtained from trespassing rules. But when there are no longer rules, when I have thrown off those earlier methods of thinking, when sex becomes such a casual thing, where are the rules to be broken? At what sites and in what scenarios can sin still occur? And I thought to myself that perhaps this is why over the years I have found myself drawn more and more to non-vanilla things, to armpits and feet, to piss, drinking it, to abuse, and lately also to unsafe sex. With the general idea of sex now okay, something that is acceptable in my life and guilt-free, I have been pushing out to new frontiers, trying to reexperience that guilt feeling, that thrill of doing something entirely wrong.

But this wrongness that I am eroticizing, that of unsafe sex, is actually wrong. It really troubles me that in moments of heat, I value the erotic thrill of the wrong more than the consequences that may come about because of that wrong. And there is Patti Smith closing her amazing show with "Gloria," talking about sin. Midway through her set, she played "Free Money," and that was by far my favorite moment in the show, making me forget certain things and remember others, she performing that song so well, invoking some spirits with it.

I didn't know where I was during that song. I knew that I was in New York, outside of Lincoln Center, but felt to be in some other time and some other New York, someone's bedroom was evoked for me, and I felt younger than I was, more unsure and hopeful about the things that might lie ahead in my adult life, for that song felt like I was 17 in some sad bedroom (or a car at night) and blaring this song, hoping for better things. The crowd was pretty uptown at the show, lots of old folks and people dressed like they just left the office, but what was amazing was to watch these uptown ladies, young professionals, early thirties and late twenties, looking kind of boring in their black dresses and nice haircuts, rocking out to Patti Smith, singing along and jumping up and down, and I saw their 17 year old selves, saw these ladies for the moody teens that they probably were, that underneath this office wear, that teen is ready to break free and dance to "Free Money," to lose its shit, our shit.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

the wheels of the bus go round and round

My phone has a hangover, but at least appears to be working now. Last night, it was raging drunk, me having not properly put the cap on a bottle of whiskey I was carrying in my bag, the whiskey pouring all over my bag and its contents while I was sitting in the steam room and the pool at a hotel in Times Square with some friends. Eventually we were kicked out, not being guests of the hotel and all, and it was then that I realized I had killed my phone, the thing, expensive toy, not working at all. It is working now; I, in some ways, am also.

Diego came over to my house last night. I met him at the subway and I saw him in a way I haven't in a while, saw him. We were sitting on my bed, drinking Coors Light, listening to Al Green, sounds of the Olympics coming through that noise from the living room, Niki out there watching tiny girls throw themselves around on balance beams. We were having a lovely conversation, both talking about our lives as of late, the thoughts in our heads, and feelings of anxiety and malaise. He has recently cut off his very distinctive hair and without it I see his face more, see the person, fragile and cute thing, revealed in facial expressions, bright smiles, cute eyes. And I don't know what he was talking about when I interrupted him, saying that sometimes I forget how much I appreciate people. I apologized for not having appreciated him recently, telling him that I do a great deal.

I realized so many things while he was over here last night and made lots of resolutions that I am really going to try to hold to. He eventually passed out in my bed and I turned out the lights and curled up against him, feeling sane, tethered to this world in a way I haven't felt lately. He is so fucking beautiful and it is so absurd how one can forget some things while distracted by others, that, yes, okay, so some people don't want you, but you can't sweat those things, have to say fuck it, to drop those concerns, and work toward building connections with the people that do, not forgoing those people just because they are thought of as a given. And before he passed out, we talked about this a bit, talked about human relationships and what they mean and what it means to end something, about the past and continuing those ties. This was all broad talk of course, encapsulating relationships with fathers, with lovers, would-be lovers, and friends. We talked about sincerity and good intentions, him mentioning how the Dalia Llama said that that was all you needed to do, to have those things in your dealings with people.

I am about to head down to Chinatown and to catch a bus there for DC. I didn't wake up early enough to catch the early morning ones, will get there after the museums have closed, won't be able to touch the moon rock in the lobby of the Air and Space Museum, won't be able to wander through the National Gallery, and that is okay. I will bring a book with me and will get lots of reading done and surely will think more about these things, about this subject of life. A bus ride always bring forth such thoughts anyways, heading toward the town I grew up near, riding down roads driven down so many times to the houses of aunts, uncles, and concerts, life, its present forms and recalled ghosts of earlier forms colliding, all being evoked somehow with the speed, the 70 some miles an hour, and the blurred roadside scenery, its blurriness somehow causing other things in your mind to blur, to cross subjects and memories with a speed equal to those spinning wheels of the bus.

Monday, August 18, 2008

And is there still any typical foot?

I am drinking a quart of Sol because, for the cost of $2.50, it couldn't be beat. It probably could but I wasn't in the mood for malt liquor, never really am, not since puking it up too many times at the age of 18, puking it up in Florida. And the Sol has pleasant memories beside, the cheap beer I constantly found myself ordering in Mexico. I am not there anymore, am in New York, and unsure of so many things, mainly am lonely though.

I had had some coffee and perhaps it was a bad idea, especially since I had no plans to go anywhere, no one to hang out with, no one else home, and my mind was going a little stir crazy, feelings becoming too overwhelming. Something to calm them, this Sol.

See, I am reading this Saul Bellow book, Humboldt's Gift, and it is amazing and perhaps being read at the wrong time, that being the right time. The book deals with this guy Charlie, a writer, famous, and him recounting in elliptical fashion his early mentor, Humboldt, a poet who crashed and burned. Charlie is also mentally putting together a major work he plans to write on boredom, and it occasionally sounds comic, but the endeavor is a noble one you realize and the subject truly monumental, how much boredom affects our life and potentially history. There are also stunning, absolutely stunning, sentences and paragraphs throughout the book, too many really, about the nature of life, of love, and metaphysical ruminations on what it means to be human.

For instance: "It was no use arguing. Tolstoi? Tolstoi was last week's conversation. Humboldt's big intelligent disordered face was white and hot with turbulent occult emotions and brainstorms. I felt sorry for us, for both, for all of us, such odd organisms under the sun. Large minds abutting too close on swelling souls. And banished souls at that, longing for their home-world. Everyone alive mourned the loss of his home-world." (125)

And because I have been thinking about love a lot, this passage on love and the adoration of a person, what odd things, strange powers, draw us to particular people: "I was a nymph-loving man and a person of such frenzied longings. Perhaps the longings were not even specifically for nymphs. But whatever they were, a woman like Renata drew them out. Other ladies were critical of her. Some said she was gross. Maybe so, but she was also gorgeous. And one must bear in mind the odd angle or slant that the rays of love have to take in order to reach a heart like mine. From George Swiebel's poker game, at which I drank so much and became so garrulous, I carried away one useful idea - for an atypical foot you need an atypical shoe. If in addition to being atypical you were fastidious - well, you have your work cut out for you. And is there still any typical foot? I mean by this that such emphasis has fallen on the erotic that all the eccentricity of the soul pours into the foot. The effects are so distorting, the flesh takes such florid turns that nothing will fit. So deformity has overtaken love and love is a power that can't let us alone. It can't because we owe our existence to acts of love performed before us, because love is a standing debt of the soul." (190) Holy shit! Read that again. Wow, wow, wow.

And I don't know what it is I want. Worse, perhaps, I am less and less sure about what it is I have. I know that I have ten dollars to my name, which, you know, things have been much worse. I have been working at my old job the past few days and that will provide some money. Also, I am going down to DC on Wednesday to see a john, which should give me some money and ease the stress my current financial situation is adding to my life, already fairly stressful for other reasons. I think that I am going to Fire Island this weekend, because I want to be at the beach and away, and because why the fuck not if Wednesday works out. My relationship with the beach is an odd thing, what it means to me, how much it relaxes me and revitalizes me. I was at Riis on Sunday, yesterday, and had such a lovely time there, sunning, swimming in the water.

What boredom does to a person is really such an interesting subject, one that Bellow accurately states, through his Charlie character, has yet to be thoroughly examined. I don't know. I know that I am sensitive, sensitive to the unreturned calls of people, to the fact that the boy I am dating never seems to have time to hang out with me, has spent the night with me once in the nearly three weeks since I have been back, and who despite currently being homeless still comes up with reasons to not spend the night at my house, and let's not forget about my sensitivity to caffeine - making me run to the bodega to self-medicate with a big thing of beer to ease my increasingly speedy and depressing thoughts. And I want to sleep next to someone, to talk to someone and lie next to them, to feel close, not alone, and I am frustrated that this person doesn't seem to have much interest in that. I have been seeing this person since November now, but am thinking more and more that is time for me to not be, that what I want is something other than this. I couldn't say exactly what it is I want, but the searching is fun, that I know that this is not it, whatever it may be. There are also still dreams of another boy, yes, that one, one who I think of when I hear most pop songs about crushes, about love, and that is hopeless, and yet still causes me so much grief. In addition, the boy I met last week, John, that I liked a lot never called me back after canceling our tennis date on Saturday. That made me sad for a bit, but it was a dream I was projecting on to him. He was playing Diane Keaton's role, maybe even Woody Allen's, this bookish boy I imagined talking to excitedly about New York and life and writers, playing tennis with.

I sat in Central Park today for a while and tried to see the trees and read some of this Bellow book, but mainly sat and smoked and wished that I were with someone there amongst those trees, those tourists, and those overly manicured lawns, ponds, and plants.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

todos me miran

I woke up this morning, put on some clothes, and went downstairs to the bodega, got some milk to put on my Raisin Brain, to put in my coffee. Coming back to my apartment, I was interrupted by a religious procession. A large group of Spanish-speaking Christians were walking down the sidewalk in front of my building, praying, the two ladies at the lead of this march carrying a giant cross on their backs.

This would mean something in a film, be too much on the director's part, this procession, this cross being carried past me first thing in the morning.

I went to a friend's gallery last night, then went to see some other friends dance for Hey Willpower at Don Hill's. Don Hill's was Don Hill's and I escaped for a while with Bob, sat on a street a block or so away, drank Coors Light out a brown bag and talked about being in love. After the show, I danced to a couple of songs, twee things, it being an indie night, before feeling weird with all these white 19 year olds, that something about the space was so unbearably white to me. I walked up to the L with Bob, singing Bjork songs, mainly "Possibly Maybe," and again continuing the conversation about boys and love.

And over coffee with that new milk I purchased this morning, I listened to Gloria Trevi's "Todos Me Miran" and read about her fucking insane life on the run, running from Mexican authorities for helping to kidnap and enslave teenage girls for her lover. And there were thoughts about her life, thoughts about the Christians doing the stations of the cross at this early hour on a Saturday, thoughts about boys and love and hate, and thoughts about productivity, and about the things on my to do list, both short- and long-term, the things I am going to do with these feelings.

Friday, August 15, 2008

beauty, mid-august 2008

I am stoned out of my mind right now and have had such a beautiful night. Before getting stoned, I had some drinks at Eastern Bloc, then went downtown, to Tribeca, to a house for a friend's fitting, and a ten year old girl was awake at sometime past ten, and she said Fester was her favorite Addams Family character, and she had a buzzed head, and she drew pictures of girls decapitating other girls, drew pictures of corpses, of zombie marriages, and her mother dressed her up like Karen Black for pictures, and she has a ferret named Maggot, and is the most goth ten year old ever. And to encounter her and talk about dinosaurs with her after she showed me dark art made me feel out of my mind, though at that point I had really truly yet to be.

And I saw the first ten minutes of Natural Born Killers once stoned, but first after seeing coverage, part of a two-hour special mind you, about a Japanese Stars War gathering. And is that for real? Was that really broadcast, such extensive coverage of a foreign Star Wars convention? And that money went to this, that is has viewers, that it isn't some absurd spoof in a movie is too much. Really?

But NBK! That scene right after the opening credits where "Sweet Jane" is playing and Mallory is talking about love and you realize what a beautifully sentimental film this really is underneath all the blood and violence! The song and the psychedelic shots and Mallory's voiceover about love, and you believing everything that her words imply and even vaguely hint at, that there is such a thing as love, that you are capable of it, that even psychopathic serial killers are capable of it, and that there is someone out there, one special person, your Micky, the person who will accept your serial killer ways and match them with their own serial killer ways, and you will drive off into that beautiful sunset, of course shooting any pig fuckers you encounter on the way to that beautiful horizon, and you will have experienced love, that it exists. And it is so beautiful and really trips me up every time I see it. I knew it would, made the three of us watch it because I wanted to see that, to feel that, to believe that, and knew the lines ahead of the actors saying them, was waiting for them to be said, having seen it too many times, their vocalization on screen the incantation of some teenage prayer I am still waiting for an answer to, thinking it close again with those words incanted, said.

And really? John Edwards? Really? The latest makes me want to see you jailed. That you care so little about progressive change that you would run for office, maybe win the Democratic primary and have this come out once you were already the nominee? It makes me so angry! And how corrupt the scheme was, really almost out of a bad novel when you read this new NYT account of all the shadiness, using campaign money and using campaign aides and lawyers to lie? It makes me so incredibly angry that someone advocating for integrity in politics has abused the little trust that people put into the idea of politics after Nixon, that people believe it's all true and that everyone's a liar. I hope prosecutors follow up on the illicit implications in this article and jail this stupid fucking asshole, who is really ruining the many positive thoughts I was feeling on my incredibly out of mind stoned walk back from the house where I viewed such absurd and beautiful things on their television set.

And I might also add that I am reading Saul Bellow's Herzog's Gift right now and it is magnificent and making me so giddy about life, about reading, about writing, about living.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Stardust Memories

The other night, I rewatched Woody Allen's Stardust Memories. The movie is brilliant, one of my favorites, and this time it took on new meaning for me. Movies can do that, songs too, when you are going through some particular thing, some particular situation, emotional crisis, and can see that same thing occurring explicitly in that song or that movie, can see the artist's insight into the troubles you are having. Alternatively, this may just be projection, seeing dick shapes in every cloud, seeing what your mind is preoccupied with.

And I have been thinking about relationships, not just romantic ones but also those with friends, and trying to figure out what it is I want. The reason I was watching this movie is because Gabriel wasn't talking to me (still isn't) and because Diego was too busy sewing to have me over, told me I could come over for only half an hour, time enough for a quick fuck I guess, but ignoring the fact that I would spend at least that amount of time traveling each way, ignoring also that I was feeling incredibly lonely because one of my closest friends was being an emotional sadist, not talking to me at all, and that I wanted nothing more than to be with someone who cared about me and that would hug me, that I could spend the night next to, that would make me feel sane. Instead, talking to Diego made me more exasperated with things, with people, feeling unmoored, and so I dug through the bootlegs I had brought home from Mexico, looking for the right potion, the right medicine, the thing that would take me out of myself for a while.

Allen was definitely the right medicine, particularly this movie. In the film, Allen constantly thinks back to one of his ex-girlfriends, a total nutcase, emotionally cold for the most part, who would only rarely be pleasant, be sweet, and yet this is the woman Allen can't shake from his head - someone terrible for him in countless ways. These memories are played out against the present, Allen attracted to two women, one, a sweet, caring woman, one with her shit together, and the other, someone involved with another guy, depressed, and unpleasant. Allen overhears this other woman on the phone talking to her friend about one of her past gay relationships and about how she has herpes. And yet! Yet, it's not enough to stop Allen's interest, the big flashing warning signs; if anything, it probably drives his interest more. And Allen, in a way more intelligent than just about any other director, gets at human attraction, how it totally lacks in logic, and yet despite the pain, despite the stupidity, and despite how afterwards we may say we should have known better, that process, that being stupid, is such a special experience, is what there is to this life, these things we can't make sense of and that give us so much pleasure.

Toward the end of the movie, Allen is recalling a perfect moment he had with Dorrie. The scene is really beautiful; he rhapsodizes in an eloquent voiceover about how there are those rare moments, odd, when you feel like you really connect with someone and that that is all you need to keep going, how beautiful and special those moments are. And as this voiceover is occuring, the scene shown on screen is Dorrie lying on the living room floor with the newspaper spread out in front of her. She is idly flipping through the pages and then looks up at the camera, at Allen, at us, and you can see it in her eyes. She keeps flipping through the pages but her eyes are distracted and she is looking at Allen, at you, and you can feel that connection, one of those rare moments, that Allen was talking about.

And I want those moments. I need them now. I am unemployed, totally broke, haven't done sex work in far too long, and have sent off what seems like a billion resumes to jobs and temp agencies, hoping to hear from someone that wants to pay me money to do some task so that I can remove this worry from my mind, that of my brokeness. And these moments, the ones I seek out and crave, human connections, do a good deal in the way of distracting myself from practical concerns, from monetary ones.

I went out for drinks last night with this guy I met recently and who likes me, Michael. I met him at his restaurant and we had some drinks there before going to the Cock. I knew that I shouldn't meet him for drinks, that I was doing so because I wanted a friend, because I was feeling lonely, and that was wrong because I knew he wanted to sleep with me. He is super sweet, a little crazy, and I don't know what it is that I need, but I knew that he didn't have it, that there wasn't going to be that connection, that feeling I was seeking out, giddiness, excitement.

I was outside smoking a cigarette, a bad habit, a terrible one, that I keep on unsuccessfully resolving to quit, and that is probably because the habit, bad as it is in some ways, enables the thing I am about to describe, a chance meeting with another smoker, that chit chat occurring while you pass time in exile outside the bar. And it just occurred. It was there. The giddiness came over me and I knew he was feeling it too. And some other guy, another smoker, tried to talk to me after asking for a light, and I tried to psychically shoo him away, that I wanted these sparks that were occurring between me and this other boy to start a fire, to burn this city down to the ground. The guy needing the light left and I talked to the boy a bunch. His name I found out was John. He is a writer and we talked about books and New York and I was so excited to talk this boy, conversation a fun game.

John told me he was leaving soon, getting a ride back to Brooklyn, and asked me if I wanted a ride. Of course, I did. I told Michael that I was leaving with John and felt very awkward about doing so, Michael looking a bit annoyed.

And I went to another bar with John in Brooklyn and we smoked cigarette after cigarette and talked about Philip Roth and Woody Allen and David Carr and it was a feeling so magical to me, to interact with someone really intelligent. He reminded me of someone's uncle, too much knowledge about weird subjects and a very hearty laugh, a shouted HA at things he found funny. He touched my hand as we sat next to each other. I went home with him and it was lovely, cute, awkward, and sweet - a combination I haven't felt in so long and which really won me over. I have a tennis date with him tomorrow and a date to see the new Allen movie on Friday.

And I thought about Diego a bit when I was coming home from this guy's house, about how nice he can be, about how incredibly sexy he is, and about how in some ways he falls short of what I want, that there is some of that magic missing and maybe it's just because I have been seeing him so long, that maybe magic, that giddy awkwardness, is dependent upon those first interactions. I am not sure - not sure about that and so many other things, too many really. There, of course, are also memories of my own Dorrie also competing with the men of my present, them not her, not Dorrie, that fucking crazy bitch that I can't shake from my head.

I biked to the beach today, wanting nature, sun, sand, and maybe more moments. There were some moments, but not necessarily the ones I wanted - a creepy Wall Street dude who stood above me checking me out for a while before sitting next to me and telling me how sexy I was; three seventeen year old boys who asked to see my dick and to whom I showed it; and a man who wanted to talk about bike trails to me forever. I managed to brush them all off politely, to get them off of my beach blanket, to get myself back to the thoughts I had been trying to tease out, these subjects, these people, and what it means to be a human being interacting with other human beings.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Black Moses

This afternoon, in Memphis, Isaac Hayes died. I turned 27 a couple of months ago. It was a fairly miserable birthday. There were thoughts about aging and about how far I have (but more to the point, have not) made it in this life, and there was also an overwhelming feeling of loneliness, none of my friends too interested in my birthday, that making me feel incredibly glum.

There was only one thing I wanted to do. That was to see Isaac Hayes in Prospect Park. I was set on this, determined to see him. I ended up making the long train ride out there by myself and on that train ride, by myself on my birthday, I really started to get down, wondering about my friendships with people, getting wrapped up in the same self-pity I have wallowed in every birthday since I was a little kid.

I set out my blanket I had thought I would be sitting on with other people and sat down by myself and listened to Issac Hayes sing from behind his keyboard and became happy, that to hear this man, to hear this voice live that I had listened to so many times before in recorded format, made me so happy. There was a period of time in my life when I was really into blaxploitation movies, Shaft obviously among them, and it was such a special feeling for me to be listening to this iconic voice of that era, to be sitting on a blanket in a park in New York City, seeing and listening to the man, now much more aged, who gave such an amazing performance at Wattstax, one which I marveled at when I watched the recording of that concert.

At some point, a couple of my friends showed up there, but it was Isaac Hayes who made my birthday, who filled me with joy, gave me something really special, lovely music, the greatest gift there is.

I don't know what happens to people when they die. I am not even necessarily sure what is happening to people when they are living, what constitutes life. I do know that Hayes died sometime early this afternoon and I know that after he died next to a treadmill still running (the symbolism in that a little overwhelming) I heard his music on the radio, heard those funk grooves and his deep voice and still felt something, could still dance to things made by this man no longer with us, or maybe still so, sounding more there on the radio, dead, than most people living, my body and yours still conversing with him, heads bobbing, hips shaking.

I had conversations with lots of people yesterday, wordless conversations with singers and bands, some of whom I didn't know. I roller skated in Central Park with the dance skaters yesterday afternoon, the light so perfect coming though the green leaves over head, the weather perfect, and a dj spinning funk and disco jams, while this motley crowd of dancing fools did their things, moved their bodies, became free, and there were all these people crowded around the edge of the rink, watching the worshipers, envious and happy of that freedom. That it exists, that for brief three or four minute intervals we are capable of experiencing it, that delirious joy, our bodies moving wildly, and if we are un-self-conscious enough (that and/or drunk), that we can experience such an amazing feeling while dancing, music being played and our bodies' conversing with that music, is proof of something great.

Songs are bound in time. They exist for the duration of the songs, those few minutes, and for those few minutes, a dead person can come back to life, Lazarus resurrected as well as our own dormant spirits. But there is that repeat button, that back button, that play button, and they can be conjured so easily, minutes of pleasure, of joy, of life, there for the having, thanks to modern technology, whenever we so desire. I chase songs back to their beginnings all the time, in love with the moments experienced, with life, wanting them, wanting it, to last, for that feeling to sustain itself beyond the song's natural duration, hitting the back button a couple seconds before the song ends, turning it into a circle, a religious act, stretching the ends of that straight line toward each other until they form a circle, wanting it all to last, to not die.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Annex

I was washing my hands in the bathroom, having just pissed. Some guy drying his hands, this a bar, made some comment to me. I made some comment back. He asked me what I did. I told him I was a hooker. Really, he asked. And because it is all so terribly absurd, this life, this man, older, tells me that that is great news, that he has been looking for a rentboy for his doctor, that his doctor needs one. He asked me if I wanted some coke, the answer was too obvious, and so we headed into adjoining stalls, doing bumps of coke while talking about his doctor, and him taking down my information to give to his doctor.

I went back upstairs and talked to a boy I thought was really cute. He told me that he was a contortionist. How does one get into that, I ask. He used to be a magician, he said, and that was how he got into doing contortion. And how one gets into doing magic, being a magician, I did not ask. He told me he was straight and I lost interest in pursuing the conversation.

He was going to contort himself through a small tennis racket soon. The bar was emptying out and I wanted to be somewhere else, not a slightly filled gay party with a straight contortionist and with everyone hoping for the arrival of more people and a guy in the bathroom downstairs sharing coke and taking the numbers of escorts for his doctor. It was too much and yet not enough. Bob and I left. I assume that that cute boy at some point in the night bent his way through a tennis racket. I wasn't there to see it though.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Erykah Badu, Wingate Field

There was the feeling of "What now?" when leaving Wingate Field last night, a two hour performance by Erykah Badu having drawn to a close, the feeling, increasingly more rare these days for me, that a really amazing piece of art is able to inspire in one. I had just watched this really powerful performance, so incredibly good, me with a smile of awe and happiness on my face throughout much of the show, and felt as if I had been imparted some knowledge, some light, and what to do with that was the question, how not only to hold on to this feeling for as long as possible, but what to do with the feeling.

She came out on stage around 8:30, her hair in a big 'fro again, commanding this giant stage somehow, the sheer force of her presence somehow enough to overcome playing such a giant outdoor venue. I wasn't sure that her idiosyncratic form of funk and soul would be able to work in such a large outdoor space, and I am sure for most people such an effort would have failed, their efforts not making it past the first few rows, eaten up by the mass of space and unenclosed sky, but she was totally incredible even from near the back of the field where we were.

She had a large band that was totally in sync with her, following her abrupt and frequent commands to hold or stop, while she scatted or riffed. I haven't really listened to her new album yet, but even the songs from that, songs I didn't recognize, I enjoyed so much, watching her perform. The show kept going on and on and on - oh, on and on and on and on, my cipher keeps moving like a rolling stone - and it didn't ever drag; the energy just built and built for two hours, her finally ending the show a few songs after she was told she needed to.

Toward the end of her set, she gave one of her scattered monologues that pepper her live album, somehow this loose monologue, not necessarily the most coherent, had the ring of truth and moved the entire field of people to her side, to the right side. She began talking about how she had named her new album after a documentary she had seen called 4th World War, and the effect that that documentary had had on her, how in one particular scene there were Zapatistas singing a protest song to the soldiers who were preventing them from occupying land rightfully theirs and how even though she didn't understand Spanish, she understood the meaning of the song, and how members of the army cried listening to the song. The monologue then moved on to our culture of fear and its corollary, our culture of consumption. She talked about Obama. She talked about change, about how we are capable of it. It was incredibly scattered, but so fucking moving, and we all fucking got it, all understood and nodded our heads at truth and cheered to hear it expressed.

From this beautiful monologue, she led into a really rousing version of "Soldier." I was ready to march in this army of hers, heard her call for a new world, for righteousness, and when she sang, "If you think about turning back, I got the shotgun on your back," I felt even more committed, felt more sure about things I should be doing, working for good, creating.

And she just kept on going, playing a couple more songs before seemingly closing with "Tyrone," the hit everyone wanted to hear and were beginning to call out for. But always doing things her way, she teased the audience for a bit, drawing out the song so much during the line "But you can't use my phone," scatting the word "my" for what seemed like a couple minutes, having her way with us, me even more in love with her after seeing her perform live.

And every time it seemed the show was over, another song would start, and following that, she played "Bag Lady," the song never sounding so good. She stretched this song into a long sweaty funk, the audience dancing, Badu going down into the crowd, having people sing along with her, the concert at this point achieving what so few concerts do, accomplishing that thing that we all hope for every time we go see any show, a completely moving experience, something like church, this collection of people having a shared experience, the performer tapping into something and all of us drawing from that well, drinking the punch. The song kept going. Around me, a slow funk version of The Electric Slide broke out and it kept growing in numbers, more and more people doing this slide dance. The joy I was experiencing during this show was so great and maybe during this moment at its greatest.

The song ended, the slide formation broke up, smiles still glowed on faces, and Badu went into yet another song, a gorgeous slow song that I did not recognize and with this song she closed her amazing set. After the song, there was another brief monologue, Badu telling us that one smile could create a million, that one kiss could create a million, a million, a million, a millie, a millie, a millie - imitating the Lil' Wayne song, which started blaring over the speakers, serving as her exit.

And the question of "What now?" remains. It is unanswered but not shapeless. There are vague contours to its answer that need to be more delineated.

Monday, August 4, 2008


I went out to Riis Beach yesterday, and during the subway part of the journey, Gabriel, Bob, and I reading Roberto Bolano's "Clara" to each other, alternating reading aloud each paragraph. We never finished the story before we got to Rockaway. At that point, we biked the rest of the way to the beach, tracing the outline of Jamaica Bay, biking past marshes, over bridges, past the ruins of Floyd Bennett Airport, and over another bridge, arriving among a sea of gay black men for Black Pride.

There, we set up our blanket next to some friends we ran into. We went down to the edge of the beach, sat on some rocks, and smoked a joint. Straight after that, I rushed into the ocean, the Atlantic again after time spent in the Pacific, and the cold was shocking after those warm beaches of Mexico. In the water, I soon started wrestling with Carlo, this boy I had hooked up with several months ago - the two of us each trying to dunk the other into the water. This, of course, was desire repressing itself, horsing around as a way of touching each other. The repressed desire didn't last too long. Soon we were making out in the water, wading further into it so that our bodies could be more hidden, so that we could touch each other more.

To be making out and rubbing dicks with some boy in the Atlantic while quite stoned and slightly drunk on tequila, to be doing so while the ocean is filled with the bobbing torsos of lots of sexy gay men of color, to be doing so while the sky is so blue and the weather so nice and this just after a nice bike ride to this place, and to be alive and touching some other person, also alive, it was quite magical.

Later on, after warming a bit in the sun, we went back into the water, continued the games, took off our swimsuits and rubbed against each other's skin, the slickness provided by the Atlantic making these sensations felt fairly often feel so new, so amazing. This time I came and my jizz floated up between the two of our bodies, milky white drops, a different consistency than the ocean and so staying distinct, oil in water.

I stayed there for a few more hours, not wanting the day to end, in love with the beach, the people there, and the sun on my skin, the sun on all the skin around me. I made to leave with Bob, but found my bike with a flat front tire. I got a ride back with Richard, the sun beginning its descent behind low hanging clouds and the effect caused by that so beautiful, causing the packed car of us to constantly remark upon it, to comment on the beauty, to try to verbalize it, a sad attempt to declare the feelings stirred in us by such a sight, language again proving its inadequacies.

I got home and read the last paragraphs of the Bolano story, finished it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

new york groove

My last night in Mexico City, Chicle and I watched A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. The film ended with "Back in a New York Groove." I thought it a sign, a welcome home one, a bit early, about my return to New York the next day.

I have listened to it a lot since. It is a pretty awesome song.

the bouffon glass menajoree

Last evening, I went to a performance of The Bouffon Glass Menajoree at The Green Room. The three cast members were all terrifically talented playing their outrageous characters. I was impressed watching it in the audience and was laughing more than I am prone to doing while watching a performance, enjoying it quite a lot, its absurdity. In the last part of the play, a spoof of the Tennessee Williams one, a gentleman caller is plucked from the audience to play the part of Jim calling upon Laura.

I had been nervous from when I first arrived at the theater, realizing that this was part of the performance, fearing that I might have been the person chosen, not wanting to have to get on stage. Of course, it happened anyways despite my desire not to do it, probably for that reason. The guy mentioned that I looked like Jim before moving on to some other guy and choosing him as Jim. This Jim was having too much fun in the part, upstaging the crazy cast somehow, smearing banana on Laura's paper bag head. Eventually, he was seated and they brought up their first choice for Jim, me. I got to observe the cast up close, interact with them, and it was very weird and I was a bit nervous and said little. I did ask for a beer though and thankfully was provided with one.

I danced with Laura and then was tricked into kissing her, at which point the family came out and demanded that I propose to their daughter, that a kiss in the South meant marriage, and then went through a long monologue about their family, the Wingfields, versus them, the audience, "them" said so disparagingly. I could join this ragtag family unbound by society's norms and conventions, or I could go back and join "them," (a word which whenever they uttered they would spit upon the ground, driving home the point), a them of boring convention followers, of the people in their seats watching, and not the people doing things, being watched. I had never seen or read the original play and didn't know what I was supposed to do, did not want to be like the other Jim and take too many liberties with their play. I wavered for a bit and then decided to join "them," scurried back to my seat with the beer, uncomfortable on stage. The other Jim jumped up on stage again to marry Laura and the crazy family exited the stage.

Upon recalling this now, I worry that there may be some symbolism in my joining "them", the audience. I, however, have plans for this next week, a schedule, to make sure that I am one of the Wingfields, metaphorically of course, that I am a creator and not a consumer.

I am back in New York. It feels like home and yet doesn't in other ways. I am beginning to think that there may not be such a place, that I will always feel a bit unconnected, a bit rootless. Also, I have a mustache.


Here are more pics from Mexico.