Monday, December 27, 2010

lost in new york

I do remember at some point during my childhood thinking about the subject of independence with regards to Christmas mornings spent with my family, finding it a bit difficult to think of not spending Christmas with my immediate family, that it seemed quite difficult to imagine, and I wondered at what age it was that my mom stopped spending Christmas with her mother, wondering if it was my birth, my being, that brought about that change, or whether it had occurred earlier. I thought about this time in my life when such thoughts occupied my mind while on my way to New Jersey on Christmas morning, my thoughts now entirely different, the ease with which these things are done, with which adulthood comes, that it all seems far less remarkable, and certainly less traumatic than it does to the imagination of a young kid.

I spent Christmas Eve in my apartment with Jacob, not wanting him to wake up alone on Christmas morning, and the two of us watched Home Alone 2: Lost in New York while stoned. He fell asleep early on in the movie. He always falls asleep when we watch movies together. The movie was really touching off things in me, the movie and its predecessor staples of my childhood that I pretty much know line for line. There is certainly something of the irrational in my love of this movie, but there are reasons for it, rational ones even, reasons I want to get at, explore.

There is the face of Macaulay Culkin. As an adult actor, his face has failed to convey the same thing, but as a ten-year old, that face was such an expressive thing, showing all the mean aspects of children that often fail to come across on screen, probably why I identified with him so much as a child, why I loved these movies so much and still do. A ten-year old that knew everyone else was stupid and couldn't understand why your parents didn't get it also. He was egotistical and bratty, prone to mood swings, ruining everyone else's holiday. And his face conveyed all of this, the knowing raised eye brows, the sullen lack of expression when sent to the third floor to sleep, the sense of being wronged. It's all there on his face. As a kid, there was a bit of physical attraction felt toward Culkin - a bit of envy for sure tied up in the thing as there often would be for most of my attractions until I was well into my mid-twenties. He was white and blonde and rich and friends with Michael Jackson and kind of naughty and he seemed quite cool to me than as a child. So it's a bit weird to grow up, to approach the age of 30, for Culkin to have already reached that age and to rewatch these films where he is ten and you recall those feelings and still love his facial expressions.

Watching these films now, I also cringe at the excessive violence in a children's movie, the bricks being tossed over and over again at someone's head, criminal though he may be. I am also struck watching Home Alone 2 by how he does not simply call the police to catch the robbers, but rather sets up an elaborate house of torture to physically harm these two as much as possible before turning them over to the police. Kevin McAllister is quite the sadist, doling out pain without the slightest hint of remorse or doubt.

But it's a beautiful movie, especially if you first encountered it around the age of 10 and can still recall those viewings as you watch it some decades later, those feelings coming back to the surface, the joy shared by the viewer as Kevin looks into the camera from a waiting area in LaGuardia airport, the Manhattan skyline serving as a backdrop behind him as he says, "My family's in Florida? And I'm in New York? My family's in Florida! And I'm in New York!" Then a cut to Kevin riding in an old yellow cab over the Queensboro Bridge and the idea of New York coming to life on the screen and in your own imagination. And I live in this city now and it is always such a treat to see how New York is depicted in films, always mythic and huge and a magical place, and it's amazing because it's true, because I want it to be true, because you do too, and in our daily lives, our trips here or there, we make it so, we look at the Empire State Building a certain way, like we would a cathedral in a European city, and say "Holy Cow," marvel that we live here, wowed by our surroundings.

On Christmas Eve in New York, with my boyfriend curled up next to me on our couch, I watched these events unfold on a fictional Christmas Eve in New York, Kevin encountering the Bird Lady, who was always draped in pigeons. The oddness of Kevin, a ten-year old, befriending an elderly person goes unexplored, it making perfect sense to all the ten-year olds watching it who think of themselves similarly, as too smart for everyone else in this world, other than the oddball elderly person that everyone looks at weirdly, an affinity there. And despite the fact that Bird Lady plays the same role in Home Alone 2 as Old Man Marley, the shovel guy, plays in Home Alone, the interaction between the two of them does yield one of the movie's most beautiful moments, Kevin discoursing on how one has to be fearless in loving:

Bird Lady: I’m just afraid if I do trust someone, I’ll get my heart broken.
Kevin McCallister: I understand. I had a nice pair of Rollerblades. I was afraid to wreck them, so I kept them in a box. Do you know what happened? I outgrew them. I never wore them outside. Only in my room a few times.
Bird Lady: A person’s heart and feelings are very different than skates.
Kevin McCallister: They’re kind of the same thing. If you won’t use your heart, who cares if it gets broken? If you just keep it to yourself, maybe it’ll be like my Rollerblades. When you do decide to try it, it won’t be any good. You should take a chance. Got nothing to lose.

And as Bird Lady replies after this, there is a little truth in there somewhere, maybe even a lot of it, the whole of it.

We woke up early on Christmas and opened the presents we had bought for each other. I then headed off to New Jersey to spend the rest of Christmas with my family. I opened more presents, them becoming more and more something I care less and less about. I ate a lot of chocolate, a lot of spinach dip, saw True Grit, and then once back at my mom's house, watched Home Alone 2 a second time, this time at my sister's insistence. It was airing at 4:30 on ABC Family and she had been waiting all day to watch it, was so excited, and yes, we had to watch it. Of course, we did, because we will always be children and in love with this movie, because there was a time when we owned Talkboys and used to play with them and dream about burglars and setting traps for them, because we know all the funny lines, have heard them a million times, and yet still laugh.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

So Erica, my comrade in arms at my place of employment, has quit. This really bums me out because we were hired at the same time some two plus years ago and became good friends right away, realizing that both of us were totally crazy about drinking, even more so if it was free or cheap, i.e. open bars or happy hours, and were also both crazy about boys and living and dancing. Lately we had been both talking about how we were going to quit our jobs and lead really fabulous lives. One of our fantasies we discussed was owning a bar, though the actual logistics of obtaining financing for said project were never discussed. We were dreaming about this in Heathers a couple weeks ago when Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" came on. I made a comment about the appropriateness of the song and we clinked our glasses to 2011 and how we would be somewhere else other than our current job.

I am really happy for her that she bit the bullet and has cut these chains. I am also incredibly envious and incredibly jealous and incredibly sad. I wish I was able to do the same, to say that today is my last day, and see ya. However, my mom would not be nearly as financially supportive of such an undertaking as hers. I love this girl so much and it really bums me out that she will no longer be there and that I will. I need to become free of this place! I need to apply for jobs instead of watching Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and drinking red wine and daydreaming about other cities. 2011 is coming up so insanely soon and I have failed so miserably with so many goals set for the year of 2010. But I am still alive and there is hope and I don't necessarily need to think in these units of time that the Gregorian calendar prescribes.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

feeling young vs. not always feeling young vs. feeling vs. not feeling

I was just reading Pitchfork's year-end Top Albums list, doing that thing that we like to do, seeing how many of the albums we love are on the list, seeing how many of the albums listed I have even listened to, how good my musical tastes are (or are not), and how much I am (or am not) on the musical pulse of what is happening in indie rock America these days and where various albums I am in love with are ranked on a list. And one of the albums I loved and listened to over and over again this year was Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, ranked #11 on Pitchfork's list, and in their brief description of the album they say this line that really cuts to the bone for me in a way that good writing should do, or a good turn of phrase should do, something phrased well and with the knock of truth to it, that makes you nod, makes you say, "yes, yes," the line in the case being: "The Suburbs isn't so much about feeling old as it is about not always feeling young."

This cuts to something not only because it summarized nicely the mood of the album and what the musicians were trying to convey, where they are singing from, but also because it summarizes where I am at in my own life right now, a place I wasn't able to pinpoint exactly until reading that sentence, and which also summarizes why I would have ranked this album even higher on a Best Albums List (one that's only loosely sketched out now in my own case). Though it's yet to be compiled, I can say for sure that the #1 spot would belong to what claimed their bronze prize, Deerhunter's Halcyon Digest, the only album that I have probably listened to more this year than the Arcade Fire, an album that I listened to earlier this evening and that broke my heart for the umpteenth time.

But back to what this writer said, what Mark Pytlick said - I am not always feeling young. It's a shift in feeling that has occurred and that is occurring. I don't feel old. I still refer to particular types of guys as men, saying about someone my own age in when trying to describe him that he's "a man," meaning somehow different than me, me still conceiving of myself in some ways as boyish, in some ways as adolescent, despite being 29 and in six months nearing that big three-oh. I do feel different though, not young, not even how I felt a year ago prior to dating Jacob, that at that time my life was still marked my going out a good five or so nights a week, drinking till sometime in the early am, grabbing a few hours of sleep, and feeling in some ways more distinctly alive that in ways than I feel now.

I really freely admit that I don't want to do that anymore, that the appeal of living such a type of life no longer captivates me, no longer really interests me, that at a certain point in the evening, probably early on, I will think about how I'd rather be getting stoned and hanging out at my house. I think about this more and more often lately, this difference. I think about this sometimes because Diego often chastises me and tells me to live my life when I fail to meet up with up him at such and such a bar, that the failure to get excited about leaving my house once settled in and comfortable makes me old. And it does. I am thinking more and more that aging is more and more a process of becoming more and more interested in comfort, that one desires to no longer sleep in hostels or have many roommates after a certain age, that they want things cleaner and cleaner, that they don't feel like going out to a bar at 1 am after they have already been lounging around in their pajamas around their apartment for hours while stoned. And I am not entirely sure that what I sometimes want to attribute to aging isn't necessarily attributable to depression.

I am drinking wine and the heat is on in my apartment, blasting out from the one heater in my apartment for which we pay the bill. I say we, referring to my boyfriend and I, my boyfriend who is also a subject here, a cause. Is it aging, is it depression, or is a type of stupefying co-dependence? I am not really sure.

Another thing that is difficult for me is that I believe so much of my spark, so my much of the charm I possess, is born from a desire to impress a crush, to wow this or that person, to get them into bed with me. I fear that now that I am in such a committed relationship, this basically my husband at this point, that perhaps something may be lost, the bit of personality that likes to engage cute strangers and chat with them, that is more aware, more alive, while walking about town, the eyes constantly seeking out the eyes of others, cruising. Now that that is muted to such a large extent, is something lost? If so, am I mistakenly attributing that to aging?

At some point in college, one of my professors - I forget who at the moment - pointed out this bad habit of mine in a very insightful critique, saying I continually asked questions I could just as easily (and with more effect) pose as statements. Posing them in question form is a way of shielding myself from criticism, from having to defend a statement I'd rather hint at with a leading question.

And so I am more boring than I used to be and this is attributable to a few things: aging, settling down with a boyfriend, and a generalized depression brought about by the feeling that I am stuck in a boring job that eats away at my soul. I am not feeling old, but I am certainly feeling not young, that that feeling is a memory and it is a bit bittersweet, that I am wondering how to scale this next hill ahead of me, what it is I have to do to roll this fucking heavy tire over this hill, how to not let it sit here in this valley I've landed into.

I listen to music and I get high and I go the gym and I try to let it all out. I try to exert myself and get all the frustration out of my system, to tire myself out, a high-strung dog that needs a long walk to leave it panting on the kitchen floor, the cold tiles of the kitchen floor cooling the dog's overheating body, his mouth smiling ear to ear, tongue out, panting, trying to catch breath, dripping droplets of spit onto its paws. And you have to keep moving. It's the only way.

the stuff in my ears tonight, this past year

ask, tell

Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been repealed. President Obama is supposed to sign this into law tomorrow. This is an amazing thing. I have been a little frustrated looking at this thing, this Facebook, over the past week or so since the news of this first hit, but that's probably what I deserve for wasting my time on Facebook. I have read too many of my queer friends broadcasting through their status updates how they think that this is horrible, that this is bad news for gays, and other such nonsense that people with certain privileges are capable of believing.

This is amazing news for several reasons. Chief among them is that the Department of Defense is the largest employer in the country, that this is a recession, and that pondering the ethics of US militarism from behind a computer in the city of New York is not an option for a great many people that need to live. And because you don't agree with American militarism does not mean that gays should not have the option to serve in the military available to them. The illogic and the absurdity of this argument really baffles my mind, the lack of solidarity when confronted with discrimination with the brunt of law behind it, that there are people, gays, that honestly wanted a law that discriminated against a group of people left in place. That should be the issue of concern here - that there is a job (irregardless of what that job is or our feelings toward it) that people are being told they cannot do because they are gay, that people are fired from because they are gay.

Now, we can talk about how sad it is that the job market is so weak in so many parts of the country, or about how the way cities and suburbs are developed often encourage low-paying employers and chain stores to build there, or about how crazy it is that this is the largest employer (or about how the largest private employer is Wal-Mart). We could talk about all of these things and should, but in this instance, the issue is that a group of people are being discriminated against when it comes to employment (the means of providing for one's self).

Another problem (a huge one for the future of our democracy) is that higher education is so expensive, that the only available method for a great many people to pursue it is through ROTC and the requirement of serving a couple years in the military after graduation. But now little fags and dykes will have that same opportunity available to them to go to college even if they didn't get scholarships, even if they don't have rich parents, even if their credit is not good enough. This is called fairness.

Finally, though, and of most interest to me are the cultural implications of this. Racial integration of the military was ordered by Truman in 1948. Brown vs. Board of Education wasn't until 1954. The military and its huge population is capable of advancing cultural change. There are currently 1.4 million people on active duty in the military. That is a huge number. There are a lot of red-state people in those numbers. There are a lot of tough, homophobic men in those numbers. These people will now have to tolerate and work with open homosexuals. This is another step in the direction of tolerance for gay people and this is a step that some very red corners of this country are going to be forced to take. This is of huge importance and I think it is really easy for New York faggots to lose sight of what this means for people living in other parts of this country when they write snarky Facebook status updates linking to a New York Times article about the Senate voting to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell. This does mean a lot for a great many people and means a lot for the future of a great many people (and yes, I am becoming more aware that I have said the expression "a great many people" far too many times in the course of this blog entry). I am really ecstatic about this news.

There is a lot of bad news out there, lots of things that frustrate me and make me throw up my hands and mumble to myself (no longer to heaven) about how it's all going to hell, how the world is doomed, and this here is an instance, one of the rare ones lately, where it seems like the arc of the moral universe does, in fact (in beautiful fact that inspires me with hope), bend towards justice.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

all of my purple life

Erica came over, dressed in all purple. We made drinks, listened to Prince, and I put on an all-purple outfit as well. We met up with Tom at Penn Station and shortly the three of us were on a train on our way New Jersey to see this man that we had been looking forward to seeing for a good month or so. And I was so insanely giddy, was quite drunk from pre-gaming with Erica, and I was going to see this man whose music I love so much, this man who totally blows my mind with every aspect of his being, with his assuredness, with his weird accepted place in popular culture despite his freakiness and failure to conform to accepted gender roles for men, especially for straight men, the fun that this man has with dancing, and aside from all these secondary aspects to the music, there is the primary thing, the thing that allows all these other things, this man's incredible talent on just about every instrument ever, this man's incredible song writing skills, and whatever alchemical quality it is that makes a song good that this man seems to have a wizard's power over.

There were some opening female jazz singers that I had never heard of, and who were quite amazing, but who I didn't really want to hear at that particular moment, who no one really seemed to be that interested in hearing. We came for party music, for sex jams, and while everyone was mostly polite and recognized the talents of these opening singers, most people continued on with their conversations, awaiting the main event, this serving as mostly background music.

After they finished their sets, it was Prince's turn. He came on stage. I jumped to my feet, everyone did. I barely remember what happened. I can't even describe it. I was on another planet of glee, being able to see this man strut around the stage, pick up instruments, and sing and dance. He could have played any songs and I would have been so into them. His voice sounded so good. I knew every song word-for-word but maybe two or three. He charged through his set, playing big hits as medleys, which probably allowed him to play more songs before IZOD Center's curfew hit, but which I was wished he wouldn't have done. My one complaint really, and a small one. I like his extended songs. I want to hear talented musicians that I adore take their time with the material, work it out, show off a bit, and indulge in the song's themes.

"Nothing Compare 2 U" might have been the most gorgeous moment of the night, because it was played slow and played beautifully, the words sang heartfelt, breaking mine. Oh my god, what a gorgeous song, and one that I was not expecting to be on the night's setlist at all, a total and beautiful surprise.

A few songs later came "She's Always in My Hair." I recognized it immediately and jumped to my feet and lost my mind. The song did not inspire a similar reaction in everyone around me, which frustrated me a bit that it was only really big hits that brought this crowd to its feet. This is why shows at stadiums are always disappointing in some way, that the energy is never anything close to what it is in a club venue, that most people that come to these shows, come to sit and to be entertained, not to take part in the show, to participate in the energy level, to give back, to dance. At one point in the night, these annoying dudes behind us yelled at Erica to sit down, because apparently her dancing was getting in the way of their enjoyment, that God forbid they actually stand up from their chairs and show some love to this man playing his heart out. Of course, this made Erica dance even more and made me join her, just to be in solidarity and to annoy these assholes behind us even more.

Later in the night when riding home, still really drunk, I kept on referring them to as bloggers (which is funny considering how I definitely count as one as well) as a way of expressing my disdain for a certain type of audience member, for the type that is there not to engage, to participate, but rather to document, to say they were there. That is what I read these two assholes as. While we were dancing to some song, they kept on taking flash pictures of us dancing as a way of perhaps making us too self-aware, too uncomfortable, as a way of harassing us. I ignored it even though I wanted to punch them in the face, and I kept on dancing. I was there for Prince and I don't know why these dudes were there. Once the song was over, I turned around and took a lot of pictures of them on my phone, turned around, facing them off. One of the dudes got all pissed about me taking pictures of him, apparently him not appreciating someone taking his own photo - a blogger - someone comfortable behind their camera, someone who wants to observe and post pictures of the performer they saw, snarky comments about the audience or the musicians. I yelled at him and told them that they took pictures of us and they need to expect the same. One of the dude's then said he was taking pictures of Erica's ass. I yelled at them more and asked them why they came, why not just watch shit on YouTube. And why do you go to a concert to sit there? It's a question I think a lot at shows, but I finally had reason to vocalize this thought to some of these people, them doing their best to provoke us, them having a problem with us dancing, and me having a problem with them not dancing. You paid several hundred dollars to see Prince and you are going to sit there in your chair? This is motherfucking Prince!

I was there to dance.

Following "She's Always in My Hair," came another one of my favorite Prince songs, and that they were played back-to-back nearly made my head explode. He played "If I Was Your Girlfriend."

The rest of the set that followed was excellent. It's a blur, it was then too. I was drunk, yes, but more so totally high on seeing this man live, seeing him dance around the stage, tiny little thing that he is, but standing a hundred feet tall in his self-assuredness, a beautiful thing to witness.

I wish I was seeing every single one of his New York-area shows. I wish I had the money to do so since I know his setlist changes every night. I want to see him work through his whole catalogue. What if I had the opportunity to see him play "17 Days"? Or even "Another Lonely Christmas"? Or like 500 other songs? He's playing tomorrow night and Saturday night and I need to buy people Christmas presents and cannot spend my paycheck tomorrow on more tickets, but oh my God, how I want to, and if I suddenly come into some money, like say get a call from an old man uptown who likes drinking my piss, I might splurge and buy some tickets somewhere.

We rode a bus home and then a train and then a subway and I was in love with the two people I went with and felt pretty warm to everything encountered, to the mosaics above the escalator at the Seacaucas station, to the fact that they were playing Billy Joel on the station platform in New Jersey, this singer so associated with Long Island. I was in love with New York, with New Jersey, with Long Island, with every place in that moment that I was drawing connections to, to these people I was with. The air was cold and I think that helps things sometimes, makes warmth of the emotional kind become more necessary.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

sisterhood of the sequined pants

I am wearing black sequined leggings right now. I bought them yesterday at Charlotte Russe in Manhattan Mall for ten dollars. I was looking for a Claire's because a friend told me there was one there and I wanted something that he said they would probably have there. Well, there is no Claire's at Manhattan Mall, little really, but while I was sulking about the absence of this particular store I had come in search of, I did see an insane store where it appeared half the items involved sequins, this store being Charlotte Russe, the place where I found these leggings.

I wore them last night to my company's holiday party, striving for something regal/femme/black tie/absurd/glam, and to which I think I achieved fairly well. There was also a bowtie made from red and gold sequined trim that I bought at MJ also yesterday. Anyway, some boy, came up to me at the party to talk to me about the pants, saying he had the same ones from Rainbow. He was hitting on me, but also telling me that they were lucky pants, that I was going to have a good night in them, that he had worn his the night before and gotten lucky. A reference was made to Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. He made the reference, and though I haven't seen the movie or read the book, the reference was not lost on me. Fast forward a bit, and during the raffle, I won the grand prize of 3 nights in LA at the Chateau Marmont and airfare for two. So I am pretty insanely excited about that, was insanely excited about that last night. Someone, I don't know who, a stranger, a lot of people work there, told me I should have won, that I deserved to, that I looked the part of a winner. Fast forward a bit more, past countless whiskey and ginger ales consumed, I told a couple coworkers I wanted to sleep with them, made out with this person from earlier who I really feel like bestowed this luck on me, James. Snow was falling and I smoked a lot of cigarettes, feeling really lucky to be in such a beautiful scene, and feeling a bit more free than I did earlier in the night, an escape from this town for a little bit at least in my possession now, even if no date has been set.

And I am wearing this pants again because I want a new job. I am wearing them because I just wrote a cover letter for a job I really want and I thought that it might be true, that these pants may indeed bring good luck to their wearer. Also, I bought a lotto ticket and I think they pick the numbers right about now. I'll let you know how it goes, if these pants are actually as lucky as I am hoping, as I am trying to convince myself tonight as I will myself into this job.

Tomorrow, because life is pretty great right now, I am going to see Prince. I am so fucking excited. I am not sure I will even be able to sleep tonight because I am that excited. Holy fucking shit. I cannot wait!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

twentysomething temperatures and boys

I stepped into the shower at the gym, sweaty and exhausted, ready to rinse off, and saw across from me in a shower stall a sexy young guy, twentysomething, skinny, big dick. He was showering with his curtain just slightly open, most likely intentional, probably cruising, or at the very least wanting to show off. I showered off quickly and then reopened my curtain to see that he was still there showering away. I stood there for an extended moment, something longer than a moment really, a minute probably, to stare at him. He had really sexy feet. That was probably the first thing I noticed about him, noticed this really even before his large dick. He had a string ankle bracelet on, something that for whatever reason I find incredibly sexy. There are memories of this boy from high school, Ryan something, and he had beautiful feet, played soccer, and wore Adidas sandals (another turn-on for me, probably the same reason, probably this same person originating the thing). I remember coming home and jerking off about his feet, imagined what his dick looked like. His feet were perfectly formed and they said something. I have very long feet and toes, probably why I fetishize nice, compact feet with toes that descend from the big toe. I can still imagine what this boy's feet looked like now at least a decade later, some boy I never talked to. In college, when I went back to my parents house to visit over breaks, I would sometimes pull out high school yearbooks and look at photos of him - photos of him in the wrestling team group photo or the soccer group photo - and still fantasize about him, the fantasies all emanating from recalling his hairy legs (mine still hairless in those days of high school and late puberty), and the hair leading down to his beautiful feet on proud display, unashamed, in his Adidas sandals.

And what I was saying was that this boy across from me in the shower stalls today had very similar feet and I wanted them in my mouth, wanted to crawl across the floor and ask him if I could please kiss them. At some point in my fantasy, he caught me looking at him. He, of course, exhibitionist that he was, didn't mind. I smiled awkwardly, held my towel in place, and plopped down in the steamroom, hoping that he night also be headed into the steamroom, hoped that he night sit next to me, hoped that I could put his dick in my mouth.

A few minutes later, he did come into the steamroom and sat in a different corner from me. The desire was crippling me. He sat a towel down on the floor and placed his feet on them, probably afraid of athlete's foot or something very reasonable, but there they were on such lovely display, a ring presented on a pillow. The steam jets came on and filled the room with steam. I heard jerking off noises in his corner and I was jealous and envious and many things and insanely horny and wished I had ended up next to him. He left the steamroom once the steam jets quit shrouding his and his neighbor's noises as well as bodies. A few minutes later, short of breath, I showered off again and then went to change.

As soon as I opened my locker, he appeared again, his locker across the way, him changing as well. I dried myself off with my towel, hoping I could maybe catch his eye. I failed to really do so. He then took his towel off his waist and set it on the floor to stand on, him again naked before me, his dick again seeming really large, semi-hard maybe, and his feet again framed by a white towel, that string ankle bracelet hanging loosely around his ankle, a call drawing me in. He took his sweet time getting dressed, toweling off his back, knowing that I was watching, knowing that he had an admirer. I watched and took about as long as I could to get dressed, still not nearly as long as he did. I left, afraid to say anything, wanting to get home as quick as possible to jerk off to memories of his body.

The train, of course, stopped at 6th Avenue for a good five minutes because of something happening at the Graham stop. I was cursing out silently the MTA, the train conductor, whatever was happening on the tracks, all the people around me - anyone I could think of for delaying the masturbation session I was already imagining in my head. I got home and jerked off to memories of this man's dick and his feet, of his confidence, of his exhibitionism.

After I came, I ate some food and then headed uptown to one of my favorite events that occurs in this city. I went up to Strawberry Fields in Central Park, across from the Dakota, to be with all the other Beatles and Lennon fans that commemorate his death and life each year on this date. My heart sank when I got off the train at 72nd Street, seeing all the people in front of the Dakota and the flowers and the cops, his life made more real. At Strawberry Fields, a huge crowd was gathered in a circle, in the middle of it all a couple guitar players. People worked their way through the Beatles/Lennon songbook throughout the night, everyone there because this music at one point or another moved these people tremendously. We are there because our hearts break and we become a little more human, a little more angelic, when we hear this music, that the beauty and sadness and meaningfulness of it all really comes alive more fully. It was a chorus of voices singing in below freezing temperatures and there were recognizable New York buildings lit-up on all sides of the dark park, and it was overwhelming and beautiful. I walked away from the circle after several songs, smoked a cigarette off in an empty part of the park, thinking it might be nice to walk through the park downtown, take in the beautiful evening. The twentysomething degree temperature though started to become more noticeable outside the tight circle of bodies singing. I headed back to the subway.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Black Swan

Yesterday morning, I woke up and there were light snowflakes, not the kind that would accumulate and make things all white and wintery looking, but snowflakes just the same, a sign, as if the biting cold weren't good enough of one, that winter was/is here. I had all these things I wanted to do with my day yesterday, the last of my days off. These days off always seem to fly by so quickly with me having little to show for them, and then finding myself back at another week of work, of waking up too early, of going to bed too early, of feeling slightly cranky, and not getting any of the things that I would like to get accomplished accomplished. It didn't help that I didn't even leave my house until around noon yesterday.

I went to St. Mark's bookshop and purchased a book for my Secret Santa at work and bought myself a copy of n + 1, an unnecessary purchase considering all the unread things in my house, the unread things even in the tote bag I was carrying with me in that bookshop, but a purchase I couldn't say no to. Books are always vying for my attention, the most recent find often displacing all the other books - sometimes the current book I was reading being paused (sometimes indefinitely) so I could engage with this new item found, acquired. It is a really difficult thing for me to go into a bookstore and to not leave with books. Throughout high school, I worked at a library for a couple years as a page. In college, I spent some summers working at a Borders. That cool bookstore in Sarasota would not hire me, despite applying numerous times. My first job in New York, which lasted for two years, was at the Strand. I love bookstores so much, too much. I want to take their contents home with me, replicate their shelves in my home, want to spend money I don't have on titles I want to read and will purchase with that intention, only to have the items sink further and further down my to-read list, bumped down by new acquisitions. I instituted a rule at one point several years ago, telling myself that I would only ever purchase one book at a time and only after finishing whatever I was currently reading. I followed this rule for a long time and it is a very good rule to follow, though lately I have been cheating a bit. Again, the situation is getting a bit unruly, too many unread books in my house.

A slight diversion here, but only a slight one, is to comment on Bookmarc, the new bookshop on Bleecker street that is catty corner from the Marc by Marc women's store. I was disgusted when I read that a few months ago that Biography Bookshop, a West Village gem, was being displaced due to high rent and that the space was being scooped up by Jacobs for a bookstore. The man already has too much going on in the West Village. The character of this city was being eroded again, a longtime business displaced. But I stopped in there on Sunday evening after getting my holiday photo taken with Jacob in the women's store window, and the store is actually a really beautiful bookstore with an amazingly curated selection of books. I went in there not wanting to like it, and I still have problems with the place and what it represents about trends in this city, but I liked it a lot. I came across a lot of titles that seemed really interesting that I hadn't heard of, many from small presses.

Diversion over, hopefully so, or at least that particular diversion. Truth being, this entire exercise is likely a diversion, diverting my attention from this book that makes me fall asleep, from my not wanting to write a resume and cover letter and apply for new jobs, from many things.

After stopping into St. Mark's, I went to the movie theater at Union Square and saw Black Swan, which is really good. I am still working through how I feel about it. I don't think that it is nearly as good as The Wrestler was, but it is still pretty amazing filmmaking, passionate, which is more than you could say for most films. There is a strong voice, the thing is lovingly crafted, and that alone makes it worth seeing. I have been thinking of the movie all day in spare moments and I think its aftereffects are going to be staying, going to linger for a while.

The film is a tense, psychosexual thriller with lots of echoes for me of Polanski's Rosemary's Baby especially, but also The Tenant. There is this crazed, demonic aspect present in an otherwise staid setting. It gets at a mind adrift, a mind becoming increasingly more and more unhinged. There are moments that are ridiculous, that seem really camp, but I am trying to parse out whether these are intentional or not, whether that even matters with regard to how I perceive the film.

Aronofsky is saying a lot in the film about what it is that makes an artist great, what it takes, what one has to give - that one does have to give, has to give everything of themselves, that this is what great art is made out of, plumbing these depths, giving in to these demons, losing control. And maybe it's true, and maybe it's just a cozy myth that we like to hear told again and again for some reason. I honestly am not sure. The movie is flawed, but also totally fantastic.

From there, I went to the gym and worked out for quite a while. I came home, wrapped this gift, drank some beer, got high, jerked off, and fell asleep reading The Brothers Karamozov, a to-do list with far more unchecked than checked, but also an okayness with that.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fire in My Belly

I hadn't even been aware of this exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, "Hide/Seek," until the news yesterday that the museum decided to cave in to the demands of conservative Christians and the blowhard politicians who argued their cause on Fox News and pulled a David Wojnarowicz video piece from the show. It has been a while since I followed what was happening in DC museums, has been since I lived in its suburbs, but this news really struck me hard, outraged me. One, it was outrageous that you had Christians calling art by gay people "hate speech." Um, excuse me? These idiots have been bellicose since gays dared to come out of the closet, but to dare to adopt this language meant to empower a certain group and to use it to disempower them is so totally ballsy outrageous that it makes my head spin in its illogic and that they somehow get away with it. "Hate speech?' Fuck you, I'll show you hate speech! You have Michelle Bachmann and John Boehner adding fuel to the fire because nothing stirs up your base like a good culture war mixed in with anti-intellectualism. Throw in a dash of fear of the perceived elitist nature of art and let it rise. So all these things are upsetting and dispiriting, but even more so is that the National Portrait Gallery abdicated its curatorial responsibilities and heeded the warnings and threats of these ascendant House Republicans who threatened to look into the museum's financing. They gave in, did not stand their ground, and we are going to be in for some tough fights in the next few years. Its director, Martin Sullivan, though trying to balance the exhibition with his running of a large museum and trying to ensure its longtime financial survival, totally capitulated to stupidity and should not be allowed to serve in any institutional arts capacity ever again.

That the piece is about the impact of AIDS and that its removal coincided with AIDS Day make it even more enraging. David Wojnarowicz! This man means so much to me. I encountered him seven or so years ago when I was working at the Strand and when my life was some magical time of talking about writers and ideas all day long with customers and my fellow employees. I think it was Joe S. that told me about him and suggested I read Close to the Knives. It was one of the best recommendations I have ever received and now if I were to list my top 5 books, that title would definitely be among them. It's such an amazing work that inspired me so much, showed me a way of living, of loving, of interacting with the world, and of writing. He writes from a place of fury, pissed at all the US (in its cultural and governmental forms) was doing to kill off his friends and himself. It is written from anger, but there is still quite a bit of love and faith in the thing. It's a bright, burning flame that wows me every time I read anything from it.

What is happening is that there are people in this country of ours who are determined to silence us, to diminish us, to cloak certain realities that they don't want to acknowledge. And we are letting this occur. This is a national museum, our national museum just as bunch as that of loud Christian zealots, and the Catholic League and some conservative politicians have intimidated this institution from its mission, neutered it. And here following is the video that certain people don't want to be heard or seen. There are implications here for the democratizing aspects of new media, that this video piece can so easily be seen now by so many, despite a museum pulling it from a show.

Wojnarowicz's writings also have shaped and encouraged this diary project. Reading In the Shadow of the American Dream really showed me that one could be honest, that one could write about being a hooker, about dirty sex, about whatever the fuck you wanted, that this was your reality and its documentation was just as noble an endeavor the documenting of any other person's reality, just as necessary. And so:

After I got off work today, I walked uptown, clutching my umbrella against the crazed wind, and made my way to the gym. I worked out, lifted weights, used the elliptical machine for a bit and had dreams of a bigger, more defined body that I hoped to realize through my physical movement in that space. Afterwards, I showered and then plopped myself down in the steamroom. I ended up sitting next to the guy that works there in the locker room and who I always see, who I am convinced is sometimes making sexy eyes at me. I was kind of bummed to be sitting next to him because I was feeling horny and had been hoping to jerk off in the steamroom with someone. There was no way that was going to be able to happen now, plopped down next to one of the gym employees, there signs up outside the steam room reminding the sex-crazed gays to behave appropriately, whatever that means exactly.

I sat and breathed in and out, letting the hot steam overwhelm me, cleanse me, tire me out. Steamrooms, particularly ones in mostly gay gyms, are kind of weird with elaborate protocols regarding behavior and cruising that everyone for the most part observes somehow, though where this was taught and how we all know it I don't really understand. Mating habits of birds on a National Geographic special. Sitting a certain distance apart, scooting closer, looking for a change either way in your body language, a hand lingering at the crotch, a head turned away, a sigh. A very intricate dance where you look for certain signals, certain body movement. And there was some of that going on. I could observe out of the corner of my eyes that he was glancing at me out of the corner of his. I didn't think this was possible, couldn't believe it, that someone that worked there was being so naughty, so risky at their place of work. This, of course, turned me on, the added thrills and perceived risks. I wiped my forehead on my towel and caught him glancing at my dick when my towel was raised a bit.

At this point, I could tell that this guy was down. I started to jerk off a bit, hidden for the most part by the steam, him the only person near me, someone on the other side of him. He scooted closer to me and put his flip flop over one of the floor lights between us. I kept stroking my dick as he scooted slowly closer, enjoying his eyes on me, wondering what was going to happen. He reached out for my dick and took control of jerking me off. He looked around nervously to make sure no one was able to see him, or at least that certain people weren't able to, and then he went down on me. The specifics of this situation, his employment there, had me insanely turned on. Someone came in, someone left, we paused, a new situation that we had to reconnoiter. Mapping out troop movements, determining enemy positions. Jerking off in the steamroom is usually an interrupted, drawn out affair, with lots of pauses as people come and go and you all try to figure out where the allegiances lie, if that man is there to jerk off too, if he is actually in there to steam, or if he doesn't care one way or the other. It was really hot and I had already been there too long for this teased out affair, had already succeeded in whatever vain goal it was I had, seeing if I could make this certain thing happen, if they would.

I left the steamroom, showered, went to a wine store and to Trader Joe's, bought a bunch of groceries and then headed home, listening to the new Girls album on the subway as I ate a Cliff bar.