Monday, June 30, 2008


Tomorrow, I leave for Mexico. I will be there for a month and so posts here will be infrequent if at all. The weather is hot. Mosquitoes have been biting me. Dire Straits are playing on the classic rock station and a beer is at my side. Summertime.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Atlantic Ocean took me in its arms again yesterday. My mom was never that physically affectionate and I see her more and more infrequently these days, getting a hug and a peck on the cheek once every few months. My dad is dead. Lovers and friends seem to come and go quickly. The ocean though has been there for years and years for me, always ready to embrace me, to make me feel connected to something, that I may not be alone in this world. I biked to Riis Beach again yesterday from Canarsie, the bike ride along Jamaica Bay and out to the Rockaways beautiful and slightly exhausting. I got to the beach, threw down my stuff, and dove into the ocean. It was cold and brought my body temperature down from biking, cooled me off, grounded me. I kept diving under, in love with the sensation of being totally underwater, all this matter in contact with my skin, with every part of it.

In the evening, I saw Justin Bond's "Lustre" show at Abrons Arts Center with Diego. It was a really beautiful show, striking performances from Justin, the Pixie Harlots, and Our Lady J. Throughout the show, Justin had a running bit about his fascination with Joan Didion that really sent my heart aflutter, me being obsessed with Didion, holding her up as one of my writerly idols, The White Album one of my favorite books. The ocean was still surrounding me, the memory of how good it felt to be swimming in the cold Atlantic, and here were beautiful songs and lovely bits of monologue, and the show had me really inspired about life and creation. Justin closed with a moving cover of Nina Simone's "22nd Century".

We left the theater, smoked some cigarettes on the street, and talked about the pieces we liked and those we didn't, why, talked about Peru, him leaving for that country today, talked about Mexico, me leaving for that country on Tuesday. We stopped at some bar on Avenue B, them having an open vodka bar, drank some drinks, talked some more, legs touching. From there, we went to Eastern Bloc. More drinks were consumed, we made out, had conversations with various people. I told him I was going to grab a slice of pizza, feeling quite drunk, wanting something to soak it up. I came back a few minutes later and he had left. He didn't pick up his phone or respond to my text messages. I had a hard time believing that he would leave without saying goodbye, that he would leave without me, the last time I would see him for a month and some days. Eventually he picked up his phone, told me he was at home, that he couldn't find me, and that his phone had died. It sounded like bullshit to me and after feeling so good, I felt so shitty, so sad. He told me to come over but I was too pissed off, too sad, to want to go up to his house, to see him then.

I met up with Gabriel who was with Richard, this boy I slept with for a bit in October. I was really excited to see Richard, thought that seeing this person I haven't seen since then, this person I liked a lot, that this could revive my good mood. Instead, Richard asked me in front of Gabriel about the friendship between Gabriel and I. He then asked me if I still had a crush on Gabriel. I was no longer excited about having run into Richard. He was brining me further down. On the subway ride home, Richard looked at me, at my hair, and said I looked the same, asked if I ever changed my hair. And I know he wasn't trying to be an asshole, but everything he said to me was stupid, was unkind when all I wanted was warmth, kindness, a feeling of love, the ocean's embrace.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Lazarus Project

I am halfway through Aleksander Hemon's The Lazarus Project. The book's structure reminds me of Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated, a person on a mission of historical discovery, traveling to Eastern Europe to piece together a story - the novel alternating between the person's travels abroad and the historical story they are reconstructing. In the case of this novel, Hemon's narrator, Brik, a recent immigrant from Sarajevo living in Chicago, travels to Eastern Europe to retrace the story Lazarus Averbuch, a Jewish immigrant who had fled pogroms only to end up killed in Chicago by the chief of police in 1908. Brik, like Foer, has a humorous sidekick with him along for the ride, and history, storytelling, and America are examined along the way. The book is really quite good, though the plot sometimes strains credibility. The thing making this book quite good are some astonishing passages. Hemon is a really great writer and how marked up my book is with stars is the proof of this, me not having felt the urge to star passages in a recent fiction book in ages. Below some of the passages:

One morning in Chicago I had tiptoed to the kitchen with the intention of making some coffee. While customarily spilling coffee grounds all over the counter, I spotted a can in the corner whose red label read SADNESS. Was there so much of it they could can it and sell it? A bolt of pain went through my intestines before I realized that it was not SADNESS but SARDINES. It was too late for recovery, for sadness was now the dark matter in the universe of still objects around me: the salt and pepper shakers; the honey jar; the bag of sun-dried tomatoes; the blunt knife; a dessicated loaf of bread; the two coffee cups, waiting. My country's main exports are stolen cars and sadness. (73)


A human face consists of other faces - the faces you inherited or picked up along the way, or the ones you simply made up - laid on top of each other in a messy superimposition. When I taught ESL, I had students who would come to class with a different face every day; it took me a while to remember their names. Eventually, from a certain angle, I could see what was buried under their fleeting grimaces, I discerned the deep faces beyond their acting out the person they imagined themselves to be. Sometimes they would flash their new, American face: the raised eyebrows and the curved mouth perpetual worry and wonder. Mary could see no deep face of mine, because she did not know what my life in Bosnia had been like, what made me, what I had come from; she could see only my American face, acquired through failing to be the person I wanted to be. I did not know what shadows Rora saw, comparing my face and the one on the tombstone, but I did not think him crazy. Mykola Brik may have been someone who settled here - here in the narrow passage between my brain and my gaze - before I was ever born. Nobody can control resemblances, any more than you can control echoes. (105-106)


Splendorous temples were built on the belief that death does not erase the traces of those who lived, that someone up there busies himself with keeping tabs, and is going to send down Mr. Christ or some other delusional prophet to resurrect all of the disintegrated nobodies. The promise is that even when every trace of your life vanishes absolutely and completely, God will remember you, that He might devote a speck of thought to you while reposing between putting up universes. An here they were, Helena and Mykola, rotting uninterruptedly under my feet. For a moment, I contemplated lighting candles for my distant relatives' souls, packed in a wooden box for enternity, roots pushing through their eye sockets. (107)


Often, before I went to sleep, I remembered - or I should say I tried not to forget. Before I passed out, I recollected particular moments in slumberous tranquility; I replayed conversations; I reflected upon smells and colors; I remembered myself as I used to be, twenty years before, or earlier that day. The ritual was my nightly prayer, a contemplation of my presence in the world.

It often got out of hand: possible stories sprouted from the recalled instants and images.
Part of the recollection ritual was admitting the defeat, recognizing that I could never remember everything. I had no choice but to remember just minuscule fragments, well aware that in no future would I be able to reconstruct the whole out of them. My dreams were but a means of forgetting, they were the branches tied to the galloping horses of our days, the emptying of the garbage so that tomorrow - assuming there would be a tomorrow - could be filled up with new life. You die, you forget, you wake up new. And if I cared about God, I would be tempted to think that remembering was sinful. For what else could it be, what could remembering all those gorgeous moments when this world was fully present at your fingertips be but a beautiful sin? (126-127)
To walk down these streets, Brooklyn streets, tree lined, at the end of June, half moon glowing in the night sky, streets fairly empty and so your attention not on the things passing you, the people that normally fill up these streets during the day, but upon other things - the smells, the smells! I don't know if it has ever smelled so nice to me in late June. It smells like spring. The trees, just about all of them, are giving off such strong odors, such pleasant smells, perfuming the streets. Merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.

Monday, June 23, 2008

This morning, apologies and declarations were said, an early morning phone call with Diego where he told me what I could tell in his voice earlier in the day, that I had upset him. He told me that I scared him with my behavior, that he didn't know how reckless I could be. He was worried about what he had become involved with and the worry in his voice I knew was him wondering how attached he should become to this person, to me, given this knowledge. I was told that if I have unsafe sex again, our relationship was over. I promised not to, really upset with myself for doing it, for upsetting Diego, for pouring water on something that had been so nice lately, and really wondered what the fuck was wrong with me.

I ate at Zocolo's for the first time since moving out of my last apartment and their chicken mole burritos are still good enough to make me moan. I biked with Niki along the Williamsburg waterfront, seeing tall condos that weren't there the last time I had been there, seeing the transformation of this part of town I know so well into something else, something I don't recognize.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Afterwards, on the street, smoking one of his cigarettes, I asked, "Wait, so you have HIV right?" The question was asked as if I knew the answer because I did and because I didn't want him to answer otherwise, to think that I had thought something else. He said, "Yeah. You do too, right?" I said, "No." And he seemed really surprised, as anyone would be given the behavior I had just engaged in.

I had gone to this party in Chelsea. There was an open bar and often those things attract me to them, cheapskate and drunk that I am. I made some conversation with this person outside for a bit and he asked me if I wanted to go inside with him to do some bumps. I did, which was a mistake given that my friends were all leaving and that this person liked me and that I didn't really have a way out should I want an excuse to leave. So I did some coke, got really horny, and danced dirty with this guy. He told me naughty things he wanted to do to me in his apartment in Harlem. I told him that was too far. He suggested we go to Unicorn, a video booth place, around the corner. Let's go, I said.

In the video booth, porn was playing. I never saw the hot stuff, the fucking. Whenever I glanced away from the scene I was involved in to look at the one on the television, the scene was either just ending or just beginning, two guys sitting next to each other on a couch, dressed. It started with him sucking my dick and should have stayed there, but he was encouraging and I was excitable, and so I fucked him, did so without a condom. It was awkward to do in a small video booth, his head kept on bumping against the wall, but that only excited me more. The seedy scene, this stranger bent over, seeing my dick fuck this dude - it wasn't a scene I was involved in - it was a hot scene that I was enjoying watching, not really thinking that I shouldn't be barebacking this stranger who encouraged me to cum in him, that clearly he had HIV and assumed I did also if I was being so reckless. And so it wasn't until after I came, after I left the set where the scene took place, that I sobered up, that some blood left my penis and returned my brain and I realized the potential consequences of that moment of fun.

After he told me his status, I waved goodbye, headed toward the L, and felt like shit, sunk lower and lower, thinking about whether I should take PEP or not, whether I could afford to at this point, and whether it would totally make me miserable for a month, that it might be better to just chance it and not take the medicine. I had settled on this decision today and was getting dressed to go the mermaid parade when I talked to Diego, who was really concerned and insistent that I go to the clinic, saying that he would go with me, not letting my (i)rationalizations go uncontested. So he guilted me into going. I went and got PEP (all for free!) and I am really happy I did, and really happy with this boy for basically making me do something that I should have done. I am really fond of this boy lately, incredibly so today, and I worry that I have upset him with my reckless behavior in a way that he likes me less. He is the main person I thought about last evening on my subway ride home, thinking about how that would probably ruin things with this boy I like a lot should I get HIV.

So I took my first pills this afternoon and feel slightly queasy, feel like I am seasick. To make up for missing out on the parade and Coney Island, I biked to Riis Beach and went swimming in the ocean by myself. This cute young guy, volleyball player that I had been checking out, came up to me. We took off our swimsuits and swam around naked, touching dicks, sucking them. I got out of the water, too cold, sat on the sand for a while, and then biked home, really loving that I have created this beach life for myself here, that the thing I miss about Florida does exist here, that there is pretty coastline to bike along and a pretty beach nearby. I thought about some other stuff too, but that probably goes without saying.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Riis Beach

Diego and I were lying on our blanket on the beach yesterday, Gabriel near some sand pyramids, and some other man sitting between my legs, his hand on my crotch. It was Diego's birthday. We had woken up early in his bed, the sky a bright blue, and decided to try again for the beach, our earlier plans the day before ruined by a bad forecast. And so we biked there from Canarsie, gathering Gabriel along the way. The sky was lovely as we biked along the bay toward the beach, was unobstructed by buildings, the smells of trees, flowers, and honeysuckle were particularly strong, and our bodies were in motion. The beach, Riis beach, wasn't crowded at all. We spread out our purple blanket, smoked some weed, drank some beer, and watched a man give another man a blowjob behind us. It was this man, giver of the blowjob, an Eric if I remember correctly, who was the man then sitting on the blanket with Diego and I, rubbing my crotch.

He asked me how I knew Diego. A day earlier we had just discussed language and terms, the boyfriend term. I answered this man's question haltingly. "Um, well, we are sort of boyfriends. Boyfriends. No, we're boyfriends." I had to correct myself and get rid of that modifying "sort of." It was the first time I had described him or us that way and it felt really weird, having normally described him as this boy that I am sleeping with, but which is a bit impersonal and definitely a bit weird to still be saying after sleeping with this person for seven months now. I looked over at Diego, who was smiling really big and who then kissed me, making me feel much more at ease. His eyes and expression said everything I wanted him to.

The person, possibly an Eric, started to take his hand off my crotch. Diego said that we weren't like that, that we weren't those type of people, that we were open. He continued to touch my crotch. My dick came out, Diego's did, a couple of other people's also did and our little purple beach blanket was filled with lots of dick sucking on this nearly empty beach, the Atlantic in front of us, sand dunes behind us. And it's all a matter of perspective, like I could say that the ocean, expansive thing, was ahead of us, and that the dunes were behind us, but were I to turn my head, the inverse would be true, that the ocean would be behind us, perhaps making neither true, that it's all just there. I look behind me probably as often as I dream of what lies ahead, the forms of those dreams, an imagined future, often using as models those of the past, of that person, this person, or that thing, and in this person, this boy, Diego, things realized that were almost then, and the happiness he creates in me is about so many other things, about this life, this little planet, the presence of the ocean and the dunes.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Diary of Anais Nin - Volume IV (1944-1947)

"Over and over again I discover the diary is an effort against loss, the passing, the deaths, the uprootings, the witherings, the unrealities. I feel that when I enclose something, I save it. It is alive here. When anyone left, I felt I retained his presence in these pages." (127)

It has been several years since I have read Nin and in that time I surely have changed, as has she, this a later volume of her diaries, and the magic wasn't entirely there for me this time around. Reading Nin the first time around presented me with a diary that was art, made me realize that the project I had been involved with, this diary and its earlier incarnation were meaningful - that a diary could be a powerful thing, a beautiful piece of writing in and of itself, and that it could be written to be shared with other people, Nin often showing her diary to others and discussing publishing it. Questions about diary writing and what its purposes present themselves upon the reading of a diary, and they are answered, some of the questions at least, when reading Nin's diary.

This volume has her living in New York and working on several books, surrounding herself with talented homosexuals, and living her life as World War II comes to a close, seeming less like a person I would like this time around, a little too particular. She makes quite a few observations about homosexuals that are too little to grand, but perhaps of their time, and here are a choice few.

But when I speak with Gore [Vidal] about the elations, the high modds, he tells me: "I never feel the high moments, only the depressions." Do they [the homosexuals] really live with less intensity than I do, less color, less feeling? Muted instruments. I was right when I described neurosis as a form of deafness, nearsightedness, a partial atrophy of the senses.

The homosexual fears totality, the absolute in love. So he divides the physical from the love. But now I find that because of my sympathy, and because I see in the homosexual the same hostilities and rebellions toward the willful or possessive or dominant parent, I am in sympathy with their perverse way of circumventing the man-and-woman relationship. (124-125)

Because I am a woman, the homosexual entrusted me with his childishness. The ephemeral sexual encounters, the disregard of the other's personality, the needs, oh, the endless needs of assurance, reassurance, admiration, encouragement. Something about the psyche as crippled as I was by my father's desertion, something creating difficulty in developing, in assurance, in maturing.

I saw in Pablo expressions of a very young boy. Moments of innocence which lighted his face, gestures of a childlike tenderness, not sexual. I saw them fall asleep in the middle of a party, as deeply as children. I saw their spontaneity in art, which I enjoyed: they could draw, write, sing, dance, almost without training, as children do. There were even facial immaturities, immature teeth, hands. All the elements which compose charm and delight, and gifts such as attend the growth of artists, seem to maintain in their personality, in spite of maturity and aging, the sensibilities, the curiosity, the ever-alert responsiveness to life of the child.

This quality, the quality of renewal, perpetual youthfulness, which I liked in the artist, I find in the homosexuals. Except here it is marred by anxiety, remorse, inhibitions, self-censorship. Why would they not be proud and simple about it? Why do they not have romantic and lasting attachments? Why do they not write romantic novels about homosexual love? There is a furtive quality to it all. Or else it comes out in irony, satire, or mockery of itself. This quality of caricature, which I first met in Henry [Miller], I see all around me. It is a subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, distortion, a burlesque which denigrates all it touches, diminishes it, attributes falsity to sincerity, and hypocrisy to sentiment, and denies feeling altogether. In fun, I have often threatened my homosexual friends to write a serious, a deep, a moving book on homosexuality. It seems to me the subject is distorted and its possibilities of beauty avoided. It is always treated with shame, like men's quest for prostitutes. (187-188)

The book ends with Nin arriving in Mexico. In two weeks, I will be arriving in Mexico. The volume's conclusion and its symmetry with my own life had me very excited, was read as a sign of sorts.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I am 27. Never has a birthday felt so much like a punch in the gut, the age 27 now safely in the adult range. I woke up yesterday, my first day doing so as a 27 year old, in Diego's bed. He has come to mean something really special to me and we are both really honest with each other about what it is we want and what we should expect from the other, both of us prone to sleeping around. Drunk, talking over late night pizza, we talked about the word boyfriend and what that meant to me. He said that I could call him my boyfriend, that what we have is that. I don't think I am going to take him on this, to refer to him as this, the word not coming naturally and coming with too much baggage. Whatever it is, the bond between us, it is nice. This, we agreed upon, both happy with things, if not a bit surprised by their duration.

We took a cab back to his apartment. America's "A Horse with No Name" was playing on the radio in the cab. And sometimes something like that, the encounter with an old classic rock song overheard somewhere, say the drug store or a cab, can seem like a revelation, a sign to you sent from somewhere of things, and this was one of those times, this song so appropriate to the discussion I had just had, that this relationship with Diego is a horse with no name. And I was really drunk and imagining a cartoon of sorts in my head, a neurotic horse rider on a beautiful horse, and him unable to enjoy the ride or the horse, being too singularly focused on the horse's name and how he didn't know it. This imagined scenario entertained me a great deal and also made me see how silly the desire to name things, to have them placed can be, that to just enjoy the ride for what it is is all one should do. And that this boy understands that, is encouraging of that, is really fantastic.

My actual birthday, what followed after I left Diego's bed, was a bit depressing for no particular reason, me feeling very lonely for most of the day, most of the night. I took a nap by the park by my house and then went to some galleries, went to Prospect Park to hear Issac Hayes, and then went to this amazing queer performance/dance night at Glasslands. I danced myself into a sweaty mess there, the a/c not working in the place, having such an amazing time, all these booty bass songs being played. It was the dance mix I was hoping to encounter on my birthday, so fucking great for shaking your shit. This awesome lady hip-hop group, OMG Michelle, performed. I gave my number to some boy from London, his accent making me think of David, of the distance he is from here, and sort of projecting on to this boy, just because of his accent, this other boy that I like. I left and went to the river with Ben and Gabriel, and without the music to dance to, to distract myself with, I started to get down, thinking about people, about aging, about life, and about how it is passing me by, me not doing the things I should be doing.

I woke up today, still feeling a bit low and read in Robert's blog some references to me:
"a prostitute told me the other day that i should stop looking for intimacy all the time. there are so many things wrong with that, i don't even know where to begin.

p.s. this "radical fairy" bullshit. i'm not buying it, alright?"

And this certainly did not help with my mood, reading this. The other week, we had a talk in the park which I thought was nice and where I made clear that I wanted to be this boy's friend and where we talked about our love lives and the distinctions between the two of us. Apparently, I am "a prostitute," defined by some job title, said to make it seem abject, that it was not a friend who told him this, or a failed romantic interest, or even a Charlie, but a prostitute, one whose words and intentions apparently were totally misheard, me saying something very distinct from what he attributes to me. And the jab at radical fairies is surely a jab at my sexual ethics, me having talked to him about the lovely time I had at Short Mountain. And it is such an unnecessary jab, an aside to me, him knowing I read his blog.

And I haven't heard from Mark in weeks, that surely over also, two people I was really excited about having friendships with now out of my life by their choosing, me having tried to hang out with both of these boys several times recently. Last night, when I dropped off my bag in my bedroom, wishing I could drop other things also, just throw these heavy thoughts from my shoulder also on to the floor, I saw my sheets, blue sheets bought for Mark, bought because he was so disgusted by my earlier sheets when he had been over. And don't tell anyone, but the reason I painted my room was also because of him, because I wanted it to look nice, clean, for this boy that I wanted to like me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"i think it's very dangerous if we do not take what's ours"

There were times when Jaymay, early on, would say that she was going to be a famous singer. I had my doubts. I always do. But she has followed through on her word, by taking her calling seriously, by doing the art she is good at and not doing it half-assed. It was really inspiring to see my old roommate headlining at Bowery Ballroom last night, commanding the stage, not at all scared-seeming of the large venue, natural seeming. Her comfort on the stage was exceedingly clear when one of the mics she tried singing through didn't sound right and she made jokes about it and played a ditty on the keyboard while one of the sound techies switched the mics. She sounded fantastic, better than perhaps I have ever heard, becoming more and more in control of her craft and voice. It was really lovely to hear all these people in the audience around me singing "Gray or Blue," and to join them, to hear all these fans, to be one of them, of this close friend of mine, to have watched her rise to the occasion offered by life.

And watching this concert by a peer of mine, there of course were thoughts about my own life, my own art, and the difference - that I don't take it seriously, that I say I am going to do this and that and don't, and she does her art, has done it nonstop for the past few years. Coupled with this, giving fuel to these thoughts, is that in what is now a short six hours away, I will be turning 27, getting on up there in years, life moving along and not waiting for me to get my shit together. I was listening to Belle and Sebastian yesterday for some reason, my iPod on shuffle I think, and I had so much perspective about life and aging in that moment, recalled how I felt when I first listened to this group, mainly in Madison, Wisconsin, and all the anxiety I had about life in those days, about what I would make of mine and what the future would hold, what, if anything, I would do with it. So much anxiety, and in those six or seven years since then, something has changed. I have lost the anxiety, which is probably bad for any art creation I am realizing, that art (most of the stuff I love at least, most good art) is borne from anxiety, but I am also so much happier, so much more sure of the things that are important. And I am alive and there is coffee (the one true love still steady after all these years) and there are songs that I will dance to, and the songs shift. I will grow tired eventually of that dance track I thought the most amazing song just a short time ago.

There is sunshine and I feel at home underneath it. I feel at home more and more, am so comfortable in this skin of mine.

I will turn 27 and my heart won't stop. I will still go to this fancy gym tomorrow where I have a free week at, will certainly have sex with someone in the steam room, as I have done these past two days of this free week trial, and I will read more of Anais Nin, maybe celebrate with some Whitman, and I don't know, I don't know, and I do, and I am going to Mexico in a few short weeks and I can't wait. The other night, I was in bed by myself and thought about death. I got so incredibly lonely and had to hug my pillow tightly to comfort myself, to be sure of this physical self and its reality for now at least.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The air is heavy, weighs me down, and I fight against it, go here and there, and it makes me sticky, sweaty, exhausted from the heat. This brief spell of high temperatures has me alternately dreading and excited about late summer, and makes me imagine what being in Mexico for July will be like.

I went to Riis beach today, went there on a bike ride with Niki and Ethan, and I have a new favorite beach now. I went to Asbury Park over the weekend with Ben and that beach was disappointing, not what I had wanted. There, we sat next to people who had a discussion about whether it would be worse to be Jewish or to be black. Yeah. Riis Beach, however, is amazing, is mostly black, and totally flamboyantly gay. There were a few naked people all the way at the edge. There were lots of speedos, a few thongs, and some really trashy lace-up bathing suits. I love seeing guys in slutty bathing suits. You don't see it too often. At Asbury Park and Fire Island, the bathing suits are tasteful - tight-fitting and gay, yes, but not trashy. Riis Beach, again, is amazing! It's a really crowded section also. Someone did a giant sand sculpture of two dudes and their hard dicks. I love that you can take the NYC public transportation system and be at this place. I am planning on going all the time this summer.

From there, I went to Collective Unconscious for Ethan's belated surprise bday party. There, I met this guy, Carlo, made out with him. We found the downstairs of the space, found it totally empty, and went at it in the bathroom down there. I sucked his dick while jerking myself off, came, exchanged numbers.

The heat, the heat.

Friday, June 6, 2008

stand back

At the Gay Center yesterday, there was a Cockettes symposium, many Cockettes, now in middle age, there to talk about their experiences with the group. Also on this panel was Mink Stole of John Waters fame. It was interesting to see these people in the flesh, but the recent documentary, featuring many of the same people, covered much of the same ground. There were some really interesting anecdotes that were shared but I thought more often about these people now and these people then, about what age does to a person, how it neuters them in some way (or at least gives that appearance to me, someone in my twenties). I tried to imagine myself in thirty years time, what my body, my person, would like. I thought about that and also about communities of friends, of artists, really inspired by these like-minded friends letting their freak flag fly and making something from that. The inclusion of Mink Stole in this discussion furthered these thoughts, particularly when someone referred to the eastern seaboard group when talking about movements all across the country occurring around this time, and by that geographical group, he meant John Waters and his circle of stars. I had never thought of them so clearly in those terms as an artistic community, a group - more often than not, I tend to think of it in the terms of a single person, Waters. With Mink Stole up there, I hung on to her every word, me being a long-time Waters' fan, his movies really what awoke in me in high school this current self of mine, what set me off on the right path - and here was one of the stars of all those great early movies, talking about their community in Baltimore and their process of filming these beautiful objects that have so influenced me.

From these thoughts about these two groups across the country, I thought about the impact of both and about how the lifespans of an unfilmed theater piece and a film may play some role in the import given to each. I thought also about cities and how amazing it is/was that this community, this art group, Waters and his gang, flourished in Baltimore. I am so in awe of Waters, of this freak kid going for it, of filming his weird friends and making lovely things from that, and mythologizing, making art, from Baltimore. The city is such an integral part of his work and something which he creates such a specific idea of - in this way, he is similar to another favorite American artist of mine, Philip Roth, for whom the city is Newark. And there, so close, was someone involved in all of this, Mink Stole, talking lovingly about her experiences both with Waters and with the Cockettes. The stories shared were quite amazing and made me slightly envious, made me feel too lazy, that I need to be helping to create a community, that I need to start producing.

Afterwards, hellos exchanged outside with various people, among them Diego. From there, I went with him to some Chelsea gay bars, among them View Bar, where there were two dollar frozen drinks and where I downed way too many of them. We had come there with other people, the other people had left, and we sat at the bar together and talked about things. He mentioned how originally I had liked him and been really serious about him and now that he is, I am distant. Somehow rough sex came up. I said that sometimes it is really nice to be slapped around and abused, what a turn-on it is for someone to treat you like shit. He made the connection that lots of people have and that seems to be true, that that isn't confined to the bedroom for me, that I like people that don't like me, and when people do like me, I lose interest, that I like the abuse. Because we are amazingly honest with each other in a way that I really love, there being no jealousy or hurt feelings when one of us talks about other people, I gave evidence to his hypothesis, told him that there had been this boy I liked and who liked me and also a boy I liked and who didn't seem to like me, and that I went after the one who didn't really care. He is so level-headed sometimes that it really astounds me. I had so much affection for Diego last night at this bar, us having such a warm conversation about what exists between the two of us and how both of us were fine with it leading to something maybe or it ending at some point, and either way still being friends. I am aware of how incredible he is and wish I could totally give myself to that, to not live out this pattern of losing interest in those who care about me and chasing after those that I want to. I have no idea what it is I want and I love so much that Diego doesn't care, that that is okay, that things can just be, and for that reason be amazing.

Later, a Stevie Nicks video played at the bar, "Stand Back," the close-ups of Nicks singing to the camera, her big hair halo-like with the spotlight behind her. I thought about Mark because I remembered being at karaoke with him and someone singing this song, me losing my shit, and telling this boy how amazing this song was, how amazing Stevie Nicks is. Though this person hasn't really responded to my last couple of texts, that the brief romance is probably over, and despite Diego and I just having talked about this subject, and despite Diego at this bar with me, I texted him again. He didn't respond. The back-up dancers in the video were such an enchanting sight to watch, so of their time. And the song itself, so beautiful, and I wanted something because of it, that the tune, the words, Nicks' voice, the memories attached to this song, some about this boy, made me want to see him, to kiss him, and God, the song is so beautiful.

Reading about the song today, I learned that it was inspired by listening to Prince's "Little Red Corvette." While recording the song, Nicks called Prince to tell him so. Prince jetted over to the studio in his car, listened to the song, picked up some synthesizer equipment, helped out for half an hour, then left.

The Prague Orgy

I finished Philip Roth's The Prague Orgy a couple weeks ago and I am still thinking about it, will find myself thinking on the train back to one particular passage about Jewish literature and other ones about searching for a text, and it is a short little book, but one that says so much about Philip Roth and his thoughts about literature. The passage, one long astonishing paragraph:

I board a trolley by the river, then jump off halfway to the museum where Bolotka is expecting me to pay him a visit. On foot, and with the help of a Prague map, I proceed to lose my way but also to shake my escort. By the time I reach the museum this seems to me a city that I've known all my life. The old-time streetcars, the barren shops, the soot-blackened bridges, the tunneled alleys and medieval streets, the people in a state of impervious heaviness, their faces shut down by solemnity, faces that appear to be on strike against life - this is the city I imagined during the war's worst years, when, as a Hebrew-school student of little more than nine, I went out after supper with my blue-and-white collection can to solicit from the neighbors for the Jewish National Fund. This is the city I imagined the Jews would buy when they had accumulated enough money for a homeland. I knew about Palestine and the hearty Jewish teenagers there reclaiming the desert and draining the swamps, but I also recalled, from our vague family chronicle, shadowy, cramped streets where the innkeepers and distillery workers who were our Old World forebears had dwelled apart, as strangers, from the notorious Poles - and so, what I privately pictured the Jews able to afford with the nickels and dimes I collected was a used city, a broken city, a city so worn and grim that nobody would even put in a bid. It would go for a song, the owner delighted to be rid of it before it completely caved in. In this used city, one would hear endless stories being told - on benches in the park, in kitchens at night, while waiting your turn at the grocery or over the clothesline in the yard, anxious tales of harassment and flight, stories of fantastic endurance and pitiful collapse. What was to betoken a Jewish homeland to an impressionable, emotional nine-year-old child, highly susceptible to the emblems of pathos, was, first, the overpowering oldness of the homes, the centuries of deterioration that had made the property so cheap, the leaky pipes and moldy walls and rotting timbers and smoking stoves and simmering cabbages souring the air of the semidark stairwells; second were the stories, all the telling and listening to be done, their infinite interest in their own existence, the fascination with their alarming plight, the mining and refining of tons of these stories - the national industry of the Jewish homeland, if not the sole means of productions (if not the sole source of satisfaction), the construction of narrative out of the exertions of survival; third were the jokes - because beneath the ordeal of perpetual melancholia and the tremendous strain of just getting through, a joke is always lurking somewhere, a derisory portrait, a scathing crack, a joke which builds with subtle self-savaging to the uproarious punch line, "And this is what suffering does!" What you smell are centuries and what you hear are the voices and what you see are Jews, wild with lament and rippling with amusement, their voices tremulous with rancor and vibrating with pain, a choral society proclaiming vehemently, "Do you believe it? Can you imagine it?" even as they affirm with every wizardly trick in the book, by a thousand acoustical fluctuations of tempo, tone, inflection, and pitch, "Yet this is exactly what happened!" That such things can happen - there's the moral of the stories - that such things happen to me, to him, to her, to you, to us. That is the national anthem of the Jewish homeland. By all rights, when you hear someone there begin telling a story - when you see the Jewish faces mastering anxiety and feigning innocence and registering astonishment at their own fortitude - you ought to stand and put your hand to your heart. [760-762]

And further in the book, this satisfying chunk of text illuminating Roth's own body of work, his Zuckerman persona: "One's story isn't a skin to be shed - it's inescapable, one's body and blood. You go on pumping it out till you die, the story veined with the themes of your life, the ever-recurring story that's at once your invention and the invention of you." (782)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

day and night

Walking around town yesterday in what proved to be mainly a way of wasting time, attempting to get errands done that never got done, I thought about Barack Obama, his face on the front of every newspaper I passed. Newspaper stands, there he was. People on the corner selling The New York Post and Daily News, there also. On subways and buses, the papers people were flipping through, his face on the front of it. The repetition of this image and why it was everywhere really set me off into an emotional state, thinking about this country's history of race, so messy, and this man with the big smile, this black man, running for president of a major party. It is such an amazing feat that a few years ago I would have laughed off as impossible and now there are so many of us, happy about this man his message of change and his reasoned stances, and it all seems very likely. There is hope yet; the promises of this land's founding may still be realized.

Last night, uptown, on the edge of Harlem, 116th or so, I saw some black man for sex work, pictures of skinny white models all over his apartment. The juxtaposition seemed a bit jarring but would soon make sense. He told me what he wanted and I played the part. While he was sucking my dick, I would call him nigger, verbally abuse him with this word that I am not supposed to say, and at first it felt awkward, like cussing as a child with your friends, words you weren't supposed to say said, trangressing strict boundaries of language, but after the first few times saying it and feeling it haltingly come off my tongue, nervously, it came out easier and with more force, me getting really into playing this role as I saw how much it turned this guy on, that his fantasy, what turns him on, is to have a young white boy making him suck their dick while berating him as a nigger.

He was pouring sweat as this went on, trembling with the pleasure of transgression, and making such pleasurable noises. I could fault him for the politics of his fantasy, could fault myself for participating in it, but knew the pleasure myself that he was feeling, the pleasure of abuse. There have definitely been a couple of times in which I have hooked up with a dom dude, encouraging him to call me faggot and to force me, pathetic faggot, to do things, to service him. That trembling he was undergoing recalled to me how I shook also in those moments, the line between pain and pleasure so blurred, the abuse being actual abuse and yet something you are so lucky to receive, language having a mystical import in these settings, words which said in other contexts would upset, said in the context of the bedroom have some incantatory power. When my abusive talk would slow for stretches, he would beg for it to start again, a whispered "talk" moaned. The ways in which language conjures power becomes clearly evident in these role-playing scenarios, that I don't tend a whip to dominate a person, that I could utter this word or that one and the effect would be the same, a slap you asked for, begged for, delivered.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

cause we were barely 17 and we were barely dressed

Ethan turned 25 today. Soon I will turn 27, some nine days or so. And it keeps marching on, these days, these years, and that's great and isn't. Things change and other things don't. This and that, opposites and seeming contradictions within a single thing - and life and Whitman celebrating the contradictions within him, and have you read Ginsberg's "Kaddish" lately? It is amazing and how long has it been since you have had someone to touch your knees in bed? And does it matter? Of course it does, but what is to be done? We throw ourselves through these days and there is wine, cheap white stuff from Trader Joe's, along with weed, and emotions released, heightened, by those things, and there is Meatloaf, and maybe Ginsberg might beat him, but surely it would depend on my mood, and right now the race is a little close.

And I heard from several contacts today, emailed and called people I like, continued to try to keep these binds built over time. I might go to Baltimore soon to see Peter. I wish I was seeing Rebecca here or in Tennessee. I have advice about Mexico from Evan. I played phone tag with Bonnie about that same country south of us. And I hung out with Robert in the park by my house, talking vaguely about the situation I find myself in with him and Mark, hopefully going to be able to still be friends with this person who I occasionally wanted to reach out and touch during our hanging out but thought better off, thought that that would be confusing. I asked at least three people to go on bike rides with me. Tomorrow, I think I might go a late night bike ride with weed and ghost stories to the cemetery (for anyone potentially interested).

I bought two books today, ate lots of shit, and listened to lots of really good music, like this song, which (as if you didn't already know) is totally amazing:

[YouTube Video of "Paradise by the Dashboard Light"]