Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Umbrellas of New York

Some years ago, there used to be a crappy discount homewares store on 14th Street near Union Square in what is now a Bank of America building. The entire building was demolished to make way for a Bank of America. The building that was torn down was ugly, but distinctly so in a way that gave it a strange sort of beauty, especially as a holdout in the big-box gentrification of Union Square that was well under way then. I can't remember the name of the store any longer. During a rainstorm though, I ran into the store looking for an umbrella. In the back they had a big bin of pink and gray umbrellas that I soon saw were Patrick Nagel umbrellas. I don't know what warehouse of eighties unsold goods this store purchased these from but I was in love with the umbrella in a way I had never loved an umbrella. I bought one for two dollars.

The umbrella had a typical Nagel portrait of a whiteface smiling woman on it at several points. I was very proud of this umbrella and loved walking underneath it, took an insane sort of joy in this time capsule of an umbrella that had emerged in the bargain bin of the early 2000s. This was during a period when I really loved the work of Patrick Nagel and so finding this umbrella, this treasure trove of them, felt like some sort of cosmic present.

Umbrellas, of course, don't last. They get lost, forgotten in bars and underneath subway seats. Wind mangles them useless. I should have bought the entire stock of them at only two dollars each. But, for whatever reasons, probably though because I was very broke in those years, I only bought the one.

There are rainy days, today for instance, when I still miss that umbrella, dream about it, wish that I was walking underneath a dome of Patrick Nagel portraits, a delirious eighties vision of female sexuality and power, instead of the little anonymous black dome I now scramble about under, jostling with other black domes for sidewalk space.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

now or never

"So I was working on the song and watching Aguirre, with Klaus Kinski, and I was looking at Kinski screaming on the screen. There was a lot of anger in his look. His face was just incredible. I said, 'God, I should sing.' That's how it started."

-Anthony Gonzalez of M83 in an interview with Pitchfork

That quote was a charming slap to the face. Further in the interview, the harder slap:

"It's not easy to perform and to express yourself and to be sincere. But I'm 30, so it's now or never. Throughout my career, I've lost some very close friends very young. It just makes you realize that, if you have to do something, do it now. Otherwise, it's going to be too late."

I am 30, by the way.

Monday, October 17, 2011

the limo outside Holiday Cocktail Lounge

I am listening to the new M83 album and occasionally imagining a roach out of the corner of my eye running past me on the couch. There is not one I am quite sure. I am a bit stoned though and quite tired and so perhaps a little delirious and freaking myself out for whatever reasons we like to do that by imagining a gross roach running past me. Give me another order of the heeby-jeebys please, it being Halloween season and all.

The reason why I am tired is because yesterday I was a tornado of drunkenness. I met Jacob after he got off work and we did a bar crawl through the East Village, having the beer and shot combos at various old dive bars that I really enjoy - Blue and Gold, Holiday Cocktail Lounge, and International Bar. Already quite drunk, we then went to Griffen because it was gay and there was an open bar. This was at the very early hour of seven mind you. An Adele remix was played, a Gaga remix was played. We consumed more drinks, vodka ones. Eight o'clock, open bar over, we stumble out on to the street. Jacob had been talking about fries all night, how he wanted them. We went to Bill's and had fries, burgers, and, for some bad reason, more beers. When the afternoon started we were both geographically and mentally in a better place. The afternoon started in the East Village, talking about various things going on in our lives, old country and classic rock songs over the bar speakers, sunshine coming through the leaves on tree branches, and a low-soaring army of clouds slowly on the march eastward. We advanced against the clouds in a western direction. We took the train to the west side of Manhattan and got too drunk and stuffed our face and then walked through Chelsea with our fries in a doggy bag toward a boy's house we had had a threesome with once and who I had drunk texted throughout our time at Bill's, hungers of all sorts screaming to be filled on this night.

We left the bag of fries on the street outside his apartment building, embarrassed to take them in. We could not find his apartment's buzzer on the keypad for a couple minutes, a very good indication of our state and of how we probably shouldn't be showing up at a boy's house blackout drunk at only eight something in the evening to have sex. The three of us rolled around naked and sucked dicks and I fucked Jacob for a bit and we were all pantomiming the act. Jacob and I thought we wanted sex but were definitely too drunk for it to be the thing it could be, should be. The boy told us his roommate was coming back and we should probably leave pretty soon. We got dressed quickly, not quick enough. His roommate and roommate's friend came home and it was mildly awkward when the roommate asked where I knew the boy from, but only mildly so for me because I was too obliterated to care and was on my way out the door. I think the boy was a bit embarrassed by it though.

We were on the street outside his apartment building, I mentioned the fries and asked if we should grab them.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sum of Days

The mosquitos are hungrier. They know the game is ending, that the cold weather is going to kill them all off soon. The bites are desperate and one after the other. They are getting careless, sloppy, old. They are easier to kill.

Their hunger, their method of sating it, harms me, annoys me, and thus their life, their hunger, ends.

I am sitting on my couch, having just watched an episode of "Breaking Bad" with Jacob, him already asleep next to me under a blanket and me swatting away these mosquitos that are trying to get these last blood-drunk moments of pleasure in before their very short lives come to a conclusion, before the period is hit on the keyboard.

After going to the gym today and getting my hair cut and purchasing a book famously about Savannah, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, to read before going to that city in a week, I met up with Jacob at MoMA. We looked at the de Kooning retrospective, which, despite all my intents not to be so, I was bored by. Abstract Expressionism does not excite me. I could say "I don't get it," but theoretically I do, historically I do - it's just that in every other sense, the important ones, I don't. It leaves me cold. There is no surge of feeling looking at these things, interacting with them. A shrug of the shoulders and on to the next one. My eyes began to glaze over the images. There were a few paintings that I thought were really beautiful and evocative somehow of grand things with just big brushstrokes of color, most strikingly for me being "Suburb in Havana."

There is an installation by Carlito Carvalhosa, "Sum of Days," in the big atrium space, that did cause that swell, that surge of something. It's a hazy, energized high in which life seems to be about something and this art you are looking at comes close to somehow making that something seem within the grasp of your ability to put it into words, and yet, it keeps on eluding that grasping hand. There is a huge gauzy white fabric that is hung from the high ceilings and that winds through the space, creating a shifting maze of fabric, shifted by the breeze of the air and the people moving through it, for you to walk through, various sounds rising over the loud noise of people moving about a museum. A jazz sax would burst out a string of notes and I walked through this white fabric and felt like I was being born or that I was dying. It was really beautiful and I'm not sure why I should think so, why it should make me feel as it did, but it did do so and that it did is what matters here. My hand keeps grasping.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Columbus Day

I met Diego in Union Square and we rode the subway out to Flatbush, where I purchased beer and chips and Diego purchased vodka and salad. We then boarded the Q35 and rode out to Jacob Riis beach. We sat near a group of nude guys that were out there on this post-Labor Day beach, fairly empty and lifeguardless. I got naked and drank my beer, and Diego and I talked, as we often do lately, about our lives and the feeling that we are falling behind, that age is somehow getting the better of us, and about how we are coming up short in many ways. We discussed ways to correct this. We discussed our love lives.

We swam in the ocean. We did this in mid-October, the weather unseasonably hot, mid-eighties. Back on our towels, I said hello to a cute boy that walked past us. He stopped and stood over us, said hello. He was just coming out of the water and had worn a pair of briefs in the water. The outline of his penis was very visible through the wet shorts. I kept talking to him so I could stare at his dick. I wanted it in my mouth somehow. This guy eventually sat down on my towel and laid next to me. He said, "Tell me something about you." I said, "Tell me why you're still wearing your shorts." He told me to help him get them off. I slid his underwear off of him and we lay on our stomachs next to each other, our sides touching, a repressed desire to fuck instead channeled into slight touches. He felt my ass. I felt his. We soon heard Diego's snores next to us.

My dick was hard and was sticking out from the side of my stomach. He took it in his hand and I turned to face him, our bodies turning in toward each other, keeping close so people couldn't see our dicks, our hands stroking each other's. I took his in my hand and because I wanted so badly to put in in my mouth I touched it with the fondest of caresses, a huge charge going through my arms, my body. I licked his neck, grazed his lips, moaned lightly into his ear. A lot of people on the beach were looking in our direction and I could feel my desire running well past any blockades social decorum and legalities were putting in its way. As horniness was taking more and more hold, as my desire to get off was soon outrunning the erotic joy I got from flirting, I cared less and less that I was on a public beach naked and getting jerked off in front of quite a few people. I was actually taking quite a bit of exhibitionist pleasure from it. But some sense of shame, or perhaps decency, or perhaps fear of society and the law, told me I should cool it. I roused Diego and told him we should get going soon, that we had to get back.

We rode the bus back, rode it over the bridge spanning Jamaica Bay, and said goodbye, again, to summer.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

After the Gold Rush

It is now October. I am listening to Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush," it seeming appropriately October. This comes around every year and still the magic of it is as equally spellbinding each time. The temperature starts to drop, shadows get longer, there is a crispness in the air. It is time to shed some things, to slow it down a bit and take it all in.

This evening, Jacob and I walked down to the East River from our house, hurrying against the setting sun. The plan wasn't to watch the sunset but rather just to go for a walk. It's the type of weather you want to be in. There is magic out there right now in the air. I have really been feeling it the past few days. It's emotional weather, stuff seems like it is coming back - I feel like I am.

I am wearing shirts with sleeves and collars and I love hunching up my shoulders during a breeze, protecting my neck with my collar. I pull down on my sleeves and cover my wrists more. I am hugged my fabric and wind, various elements tickling my skin, a smell tickling my nose, and memories recalled of new school years starting, those moments briefly relived, an interest in Dave Matthews Band, an interest in Smashing Pumpkins, of new projected identities displayed for a new class of people, new pieces added to my wardrobe reflecting in some ways this new identity.

Most of my fond romantic memories exist sometime in the fall and so I am overlapping lots of those I walk around Brooklyn on a night like this early October one. I walked past the houses of two boys I used to see and where I used to hang out with them on fall nights like this one. I did this walk through memories with a beautiful boy who I live with now in this present that I only occasionally occupy. We walked down Grand Street, the street I lived on for several years when I first moved to New York. We got to the East River at that small little park, the sun already down, but the sky still in the throes of dusk, some beautiful fireworks still to be set off. There were young couples as there usually are there at sunset and families of Orthodox Jews as there usually are there at sunset. We made our way down to some rocks on the shore of the water, could hear the water lapping against these rocks, saw the Williamsburg Bridge become less and less distinct from the sky behind it, the sky becoming darker and darker. The buildings in midtown slowly started to light up. We made our way back home.