Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Master

"I was very curious, as a writer, as to how far I could go. What happens if you go further? It's best, certainly in the early stages of a book, to abandon self-censorship. Do whatever you want to do; let it be. Shame isn't for writers. You have to be shameless. You can't worry about being decorous. This doesn't mean you have to be obscene and crazy and smear your pages with feces. That's not the point. But shame won't do! I couldn't have written Sabbath's Theater if I felt shame. I feel plenty of shame in my own life - don't get be wrong. I'm just as shame-ridden as the next person is, but when I sit down to write I am free from shame."

from Philip Roth: Unmasked, this fantastic advice from my favorite writer discussing my favorite book of his. This man has no equals among living writers. Watching this last night made me want to go back and reread everything he has ever written. He is such an insanely good writer.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Nance

Jonny Orsini's character stepped out of the bathtub. Nathan Lane's character had placed the towel across the room from the tub so he could get more a glimpse of Orsini's character naked as he walked to get the towel. And though earlier, I had been a little annoyed by the obstructed view from the front row since the stage is quite high, during this scene I was really pleased with my seat's location, happy that there was no one between me and that beautiful back dripping with water, no one between me and that hairy ass, no one between me and that gorgeous cock. He has a really beautiful body and before this brief nude scene, I had already become slightly smitten with this character, his eyes reminding me of Taylor's, narrow eyes that narrow even further with a smile.

I have started taking this mass gainer from GNC and I am not sure what all is in there, but something in there I believe is making me insanely horny. Ever since taking it, I have been compulsively masturbating in the middle of the night, waking up at three, at four, jerking off, and falling back asleep, before some erotic reverie wakes me up again.

There has been a lot of longing and no real physical contact these past couple weeks. That has something to do with it also. I was, in some weird sense, seeing again this person naked, Taylor, in seeing this actor on stage, their eyes similar enough for me to see one in the other, to conflate the two.

I rode the train home. The L train at 11:30pm on a weekend heading into Brooklyn is a very unique version of Hell, one that I am glad I rarely get to experience. There were a lot of annoying people. There were some insanely sexy people. There were some insane people trying their best to look sexy. There were break dancers. There was the guy who reminds me of Bleeding Gums Murphy, maybe if solely because he also is black, slightly homeless looking, and committed to playing his saxophone. Bleeding Gums Murphy started joining the break dancers in dancing in the middle of the train, was showing them up, tossed a dollar at their feet. Worlds were colliding, always a strange sight to see buskers crossing paths on car, and sharing a car with their attempts to entertain a crowd, their attempts to pull dollars from wallets.

I thought about how I did not stand during the curtain call. I didn't think the play was great. I thought it was good, but not standing ovation worthy. Everyone is so quick to jump to their feet at any play, especially if it has a big star, in this case Nathan Lane. Everyone else around me was standing. Nathan Lane during his bow with the cast, I am convinced, looked at me as if to chide me for sitting while everyone else was standing, for sitting in the front row even. He very well could have just been focusing his eyes at the orchestra underneath the stage. I thought about this on and off as I read on my phone news stories about North Korea threatening to obliterate the US and tried to ignore all of the human commotion around me, all of the people all dolled up so they could get fucked up and, if they were lucky, fucked.

I got off at DeKalb and walked up the stairs behind a guy carrying a takeout bag from this small East Village restaurant that Taylor works at. I followed this bag all the way home, so weird to see this takeout bag in this moment, the guy with the bag living only a couple doors down from me. It is a sign - what type of sign though, I am not sure. I am not fluent enough in whatever language these things are written in to know what it means. The Japanese person with the thick accent talks and talks at me and I just nod my head, pretend I understand.

There is the memory of a back, muscular back, dotted with drips of water, of a towel slowly being wrapped around a body, of human skin, and of what desire feels like. I know what three am, what four am, look like.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Our relationship, whatever it was, was supposed to end by April 1st anyways. That had been the deal when I first met him. I knew he was moving to Portland in a couple weeks and still dove in headfirst anyways, probably did so because I knew that the thing had an expiration date, that I should just have fun, enjoy this cute thing and not hold any expectations about it, about him, that in a couple weeks he would be in another city.

Well, he will still be here April 1st. And so my feelings morphed a little, ever since he told me he would still be here, that he wasn't moving to Portland. I really had started to like this person a lot. I was really happy he was staying.

He had been in Florida the past week or so. We were supposed to meet up last night, but he told me he was in a dark place and just wanted to meet up today instead. We had plans this morning to meet around 2. At one something, he texted me a long text, about how he was finally feeling the breakup with his ex, how he wanted "to extract the physical from our relationship." It hurt a lot more than if he had just moved away April 1st, that this was far more painful. I hadn't planned on something like this happening when I dove in - that the reason I had allowed myself that thing, that riskiness I haven't allowed myself since Jacob breaking up with me, is because I thought it was carefree, thought it was just diving into the creek behind your subdivision as a kid with your friends, something carefree and with only the slightest amount of riskiness involved, maybe some smelly clothes, maybe a cut knee, but nothing much more, and so I dove in thinking that it was okay, that it wouldn't hurt when it ended.

After getting upset, after looking at my phone, after saying fuck him, after deciding I wasn't talking to him anymore, I texted him back and asked if he wanted to meet me for a drink at Rawhide.

I told him it that it was one of my favorite bars and that is was closing at the end of the month. The bar has been open since 1979, has lived through so many versions of Gay New York, and will finally be brought to its end by the insane leaps of real estate prices in Manhattan, the bar's rent being doubled, one of the few remaining outposts of an older gay New York being edged out, killed.

I ordered a whiskey and coke. He ordred a whiskey and ginger ale. I mourned this bar's passing to him. At some point, I realized the strange symmetry happening. The bar and our relationship were supposed to have April 1st end dates, that the day he was supposed to be out of this city was the same day this bar is in fact due to close, that by inviting him to come mourn this bar's closure, I wanted him to mourn something else with me, to realize perhaps that something else should be mourned in addition to this bar.

He was just as cute as he always was. I wanted to kiss him more than anything, and it made me so sad that he no longer wanted that, that I, by saying this desire after he had told me he didn't want anything physical, that it made me desperate, that it made me creepy. It's why I hate so much when someone you are more than friends with, tells you they want to be just friends, and though they would be a great friend to have in your life, there are very strong elements of the human to you despite what you might think about yourself in more generous times, say that you are okay with this or that you are cool enough to be friends with someone that rejects you, instead though you are pretty human, a vain, proud, absurd creature.

We left. We went to Marie's Crisis. No one was singing yet, the piano player had just recently started, and the bathroom tiles were the most beautiful color of seafoam green. I wanted to lie down on them and smoke a cigarette and drink a beer and look up and see Bonnie and Jamie and talk about Sarasota, to be somewhere else in my life. From there, we went to his house, watched some movies on cable, ate a burrito, and then went to Metropolitan together. And what used to feel so easy, so amazingly un-self-aware, has become something agonizingly aware of its current state, of its difference from that closeness that used to be there, that had been established so quickly and that somehow faded with just as much quickness.

I rode the subway home by myself, these amazing nights of cuddling, of feeling close to another human being, again at an end. I needed something nice, honest, true, and yet calming. I put on this Judy Collins album and listened to her cover of "Suzanne." I played the song again as I approached my house after getting off the subway. Right before I got to my house, right before I took out my headphones, there was this line, beautiful thing, that rung again and again in my ears as I opened my front doors and walked up my building's stairs:

They are leaning out for love and they will lean that way forever.

I washed my face, brushed my teeth. There is a blue and white toothbrush in my bathroom, his. I wondered if I should throw it away or give it back to him the next time I see him, wondered which one would be less weird, was sad that this was a problem, wondering what to do with someone's toothbrush.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Americans Abroad

Howard K. Stern: "I said this footage is worth money."

Anna Nicole Smith: "Why? What footage?"

Stern: "This thing you are looking into."

Smith: "It's just a camera."

Stern: "Exactly."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Susan Cadogen - "Hurt So Good"

He hugged his overcoat closer and tried to assemble in his mind Heidegger's
argument about the use of moods.
We would think ourselves continuous with the world if we did not have moods.
It is state-of-mind that discloses to us
(Heidegger claims) that we are beings who have been thrown into something else.
Something else than what?
-Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red (98-99)

I laid on the couch this morning, a cup of tea by my side at first, later a cup of coffee, various books, magazines held in front of my face. I finally finished off Anthony Everett's Hadrian, a book bought in the Rome airport some time ago now, a book started on my flight to Istanbul. I had wanted to learn more about Antinous and this book seemed the only way to go about this, at least until I could get back to New York and get more serious about this project.

It was in the Vatican Museums where I saw my first Antinous statue. Immediately, I was struck by this image of male beauty, it very clear that someone desired this person a great deal, the sexual desire of the sculptor given the form of carved stone, the beauty that someone else saw in this subject apparent, the lust that they looked at them with. I stopped to read the explanatory text on the wall and became even more intrigued by Antinous. The text vaguely referred to him as Emperor Hadrian's "favorite," a soldier who drowned in the Nile at a young age, and was then made a God by Hadrian, who had busts and statues of his "favorite" erected throughout the Roman Empire.

I wanted to know more details. I wanted to know everything. Sit down and dish with me, tell me ev-ery-thing.

I saw another bust of him in the Vatican Museums and began to understand this love too well. Oh honey, Hadrian babe, I have been there. Girl, I know what that feeling is, what it is to want to create a God out of someone you love, to have statues erected of him all over vast expanses of settled land, to create a religion of this body, to have people worship this thing, for everyone to understand what it is you know, for everyone to get how insanely beautiful this person is. It's desire and lust in one of its most intense manifestations. Clearly, Antinous must have been an absolute babe.

The statues still survive in great number and I saw a couple in pretty much every museum I went to in Rome, all of them casting quite a spell on me. I was moved to a great degree by this intense grief for a lost lover, that across this large expanse of time, millennia later, I can stand in a museum and look at these things and still feel pangs of grief knowing what it was that Hadrian must have felt at the loss of his lover.

And so I bought this book hoping to find out everything about their relationship. The book was very disappointing, a boring history book, in which their relationship takes up maybe 10 of 300 pages, which, yes, is what it is the book intended to be, and so it's not a real critique of the book - it's just that I wanted  a steamy exploration of queer lust, of worship, of lust, of grief. And, yes, I should write the book that I want to read.

This evening, a bit stoned and drunk on wine, I discovered some quite amazing sites devoted to Antinous that I can't wait to look through. Their creator seems to really get the significance of Antinous in a way that I am so appreciative of:

-Temple of Antinous
-Antinous, the Gay God

But I finally finished this book, a book I had been so excited about at first, but which ended up taking weeks and weeks of picking up and quickly putting down again, made sleepy by, to finish. After setting that book down for good this morning, I worked my way through the rest of Autobiography of Red. I had read this book because Taylor holds it in such high esteem and when someone tells you that they love a book, they are telling you quite a bit about themselves, probably most importantly they are telling you that they read and that they are capable of feeling intense feelings about literature, which is far from a given these days when you are out there in the trenches meeting new boys. But that out of the way, they are telling you so much other than the fact that they are a human being worth knowing. You are really sharing a lot about yourself when you announce these things. It's a chance for someone to see what themes you like, what it is that intrigues you, what type of voice it is that you like, and most of all what it is that moves you, exactly what type of book it is that you think is great, what it is that excited you.

I just said that but it might all be bullshit, everything I just said, something that sounds nice but might not actually be true, because I have no clue what, if anything, Autobiography of Red, now having read it, might tell me about Taylor, other than that he's of the romantic sort, the book a gay love story about a red boy with wings and his romance with Heracles. Also, that Taylor is open to fiction in verse form.

There were some really fantastic phrases, some choice sentences of the book. I underlined, I starred a few things. I turned back the corners of some pages, wanting to remember that or this phrase. Toward the end of the book, I started to get strong whiffs of Wong Kar-wei's Happy Together. I looked at flights to Argentina on Kayak.

After finishing both books, I took a shower, and headed off the to the Met to see the "Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity" show. I listened to a lot of annoying females in groups clearly (from annoyingly loud conversations overheard) there for the fashion aspect of the exhibition, though even that seemed doubtful - I don't think I've ever been so set on edge by overheard conversations in an exhibit as at this one. A major plus about traveling internationally: the likelihood is less that you will understand the overheard conversations in museums and will actually be able to focus on the work in front of you, instead of on your budding hatred of large swaths of humanity. Despite this, I did see some amazing paintings I had never seen, particularly Berthe Morisot's "The Sisters". I also enjoyed the exhibition of garments from the time, garments from particular paintings even, paired with the works, despite it seeming slightly gimmicky.

I went to the gym after, worked out for a long time. I looked at this one guy's back, beautiful back, as he worked out in front of me. There was also woman's boxing playing on one of the televisions. I watched this white lady from the Bronx pummel this fat Latina lady. I felt for some reason more trashy watching this than I did the men's boxing match that had preceded this one.

I sat in the steam room after working out. A muscly guy came in. This other guy came in and sat right next to the muscly guy. It was clear that all three of us were there for the same reason. I started jerking off and the one guy started sucking the muscly guy's dick. The muscly guy kept making faces of intense pleasure that are so hot when you are in a sexual situation with someone making such a face and yet so laughable when viewed from outside that scene, similar perhaps to how laughable and annoying drunk people seem to non-drunk people. When you are in heat, you are drunk - nothing matters but feeding that hunger, feeding that thirst. This sexy guy, very muscly, a little crazy looking, jerked off between the two of us, his admirers, his Hardrians, his worshippers, religious zealots. I pressed my foot against his, so turned on by the contact, touching this desired object, even if just slightly. I rubbed his thigh as this other guy swallowed his beautiful dick. The steam gave everything the hazy appearance of dreams, of fantasies jerked off to half-awake in bed. There were males forms in soft focus dripping with sweat, legs outstretched, muscles tightened, an open mouth silently moaning, praying, worshipping.

Friday, March 15, 2013

on not winning a million dollars

It was a shitty day at work today, more so than usual. It was the last day of four people who have worked at the hotel since it opened, including one of my favorite co-workers there. Their departure made me aware of my own stasis, made me very aware of my own lack of a departure. So there was that. I was already feeling a little mopey. Add on to this, having to talk to one of my bosses about this management position I had applied for and being told that they had filled it with an outside candidate. It wasn't even that I wanted the job, because lately I have not, lately I am pretty set on trying to go to advertising school in July, but I would be lying if I said it didn't bum me out a bit. However, bumming me out even more so was the entire process - having one manager ask me if I was interested in it and telling me that I would be interviewed for it the following week, and then that following week finding out from someone else that they had already hired someone. So today, I told my boss my frustrations with all of this, how I found it pretty disrespectful to not even have the courtesy to interview me for a position that someone else asked me if I was interested in and encouraged me to apply for, that they could at least pretend to interview me even if they were intending to hire someone else all along.

So there was that and I was very happy to leave work today. I stopped at the convenience store on 5th Avenue that I stop at occasionally after work on days when I am really sick of working in hospitality, and bet a couple dollars on lotto tickets, on hopes of getting rich quick.

I bought some Powerball tickets, which may still save me from working yet, but I also bought a scratch-off ticket, some poker game. I played it once I got home and really struggled to figure out if I had a winning poker hand, pretty unfamiliar with the rules of poker. I was really wishing I had picked a different scratch-off, that this one seemed a bit beyond my gambling knowledge. At some point though, I realized that I had a straight flush in one hand, the hand that was the jackpot prize - one million dollars. I told myself that surely this most be wrong, that the dealer's hand must beat mine. I was sure this could not be right. But then after looking at the card again and again, I could see no winning hand that the dealer could make other than a pair of 7's, which my straight flush beat. I had won one million dollars!

Calm down, I told myself. I turned the card over, read the rules, and followed its instructions of writing my name on the back of the winning card. I was already planning on making the call into work, letting them know I won the lottery and that they could suck it! But this can't be right, I told myself. But someone has to win these jackpot prizes, I told my doubting self. But you don't know poker, you're missing something, doubting self said. Take it to the convenience store and have them scan it, both voices said, trying to prove the other wrong.

I was nervous to walk down the street with this piece of paper worth a million dollars, was nervous to hand it to the guy to scan. Not a winner, he said, handing it back to me.

He's lying, the positively insane side of me said. You don't know anything about poker, the doubting side said, getting pretty proud now that it was seemingly right. I looked at the card again and again and saw a proper flush that the dealer could do. I learned that a flush beats a straight flush, that I was no longer holding one million dollars, that instead I was simply holding a losing lotto ticket. Not a winner. I did not get to call into work, I did not get to quit, and most sadly of all I did not get to tell my employers to suck it.

Monday, March 11, 2013

My aura

After seeing one of my friends post an aura photograph from this place on Instagram, I went down to Chinatown, sat in a chair, had my photo taken, and then after it developed had a lady tell me about my aura, about my past week, about my upcoming week.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

"61 seconds is all it takes"

An hour of time was lost between last night and this morning. That was an hour less time spent sleeping next to Taylor, an hour less to look at this cute sleeping body next to me, to feel on my other side the expanse of air, seemingly dangerous, the bed lofted high and up a rickety ladder, an hour less to hear cars passing by, whooshes punctuating with no particular rhythm the quiet of the night, sometimes with periods, sometimes with ellipses, sometimes with exclamation points, sometimes even with question marks, an hour less time to look a the ceiling just a couple feet above my sleeping face - all of these things, attributes to this particular bedroom, reminding me of other particular bedrooms, past ones of mine, of the street sounds that sneak in through windows left open to cool apartments, even in winter, this sound on certain nights letting you know that you live in New York City, that this is what you dreamed about when you slept in quiet bedrooms of youth in Northern Virginia, that you wanted to hear noise, to know that other people are out there, up at all hours, to be pressed close against other people, to have the street, the city just right out that open window, the sounds of passing cars, of drunk passerby, that this is what it is to live here - this noise is New York. The sound can be magic sometimes, particularly when you are again feeling what it is to have a crush, to be a little awkward, and lie next to the person you have a crush on as they sleep, unsure of what anything is, knowing that they still like their ex-boyfriend, that he is probably moving soon, that he is a lot younger than you, but also that you are having a lot of fun, that he seems to like you, and that you are actually happy. That it is a joy to have these concerns, sometimes frustrating but always invigorating, that renew aspects of your core that feel these thrills life can give in the early stages of a romance - a defibrillator jolting you back to life. I lay there listening to the occasional passing car, enjoying the concerns, the feelings that come with not knowing and desiring to, and then not desiring to, telling yourself to just enjoy the ride in a moment of exhilaration when your more Pollyannaish side tells your more jaded side to just quit talking, to take a hit from the bong, and just enjoy the ride, girl. I got an hour less of that. He woke up for work this morning and we walked to the train together, picking up coffee along the way.

I lay on my couch once home, the coffee doing little to pull me out of the arms of tiredness, its grip much tighter, possessive lover that it is.

I drank another cup of coffee, showered, put on shoes, clothes, and willed myself out to the door to the gym. The weather seemed to coincide perfectly with the clocks. The day we spring them forward an hour, make our days longer, our lives immediately more enjoyable, the sun out to a decent hour now, that star whose rays we are addicted to, junkies all out in the streets today out for a fix, squealing with the satisfaction of having scoring a big hit. The sun seemed to be shining particular brighter today, celebrating it with us as well. It was in the fifties and sunny and the beginning of this week with its cold, icy snow seemed so far away.

I read George Saunders' Tenth of December on the way to the gym, nearing the end of the book, reading his excellent "Home" story on the way there. And then, not finishing it on the train, so wowed by it, its hook too deep for me not to finish it, I stopped in the park to finish the story before heading into the gym.

I worked out for quite a bit in this more and more determined attempt to get ripped that I have. It started out as not necessarily a joke - I wanted to get fit when I first joined the gym, but when I would say "I want to get ripped," I didn't actually intend to expend significant energy in that pursuit. But along the way, I have become more and more in love with and addicted to (perhaps addiction too often being confused for love) working out, the feeling that I feel both during and afterwards. It is a high, the right things are released, and I am a much happier person. And so I felt much better today after working out. I walked down, glowing with joy to be walking around this city on this day, walked down to 14th Street. I stopped at the Trader Joe's wine store to stock up on cheap red wine. 

Walking with these bags about to get on the L train, I stopped to read a text. Number not in my phone book. I texted him back. He texted me back. I texted him back. There were a couple more of these, back and forth, back and forth, me waiting on the sidewalk outside of the subway entrance to Brooklyn. I crossed 14th Street, took an 8th Avenue-bound one, took it to Chelsea. He was nice. He had hamsters - this has nothing to do with the sex, just an observation about an older man who keeps hamsters for pets. He had a tattoo of a crab on his shoulder, probably something astrological I imagined. I didn't ask. I fucked him until he came. He threw away the shit-smelling condom and cleaned himself off in the bathroom while I continued to jerk myself off. He came back, helped me come.

As I was getting dressed, he asked me about my tattoo. I told him it was of Walt Whitman. "Literary too!" he said, silently complimenting the other qualities, the ones having to do with physical attraction, that I knew he saw in me from the way he looked at me. "Are you a writer?" he asked.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

My favorite lines from Sadie Benning's video piece, "It Wasn't Love"

"She said, 'Go ahead, fall in love with me. What else do you have to do?'"

"I got nervous. She got sexy."

"We didn't need Hollywood. We were Hollywood."

The video is on view right now at the New Museum's "NYC 1993" show (ending May 26, 2013). It is fantastic. It was my favorite part of the exhibition. I need to see more Sadie Benning videos immediately.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Flying Monkey Bonus Round

Yesterday morning, seemingly days ago, I took the bus from Port Authority down to Atlantic City. Riding through the meadowlands of New Jersey right outside New York, I felt an immense sense of comfort, these same sights seen on numerous rides into and out of this city over the past decades, there not being much to the landscape but these various hulking relics of industry dotting the tan reeds of the meadowlands, streaks of overpasses painted over the scene, rusty bridges soaring across space, roads crossing, diverging, and merging, the chimneys every couple hundred yards apart puffing out steady streams of white air, speech balloons never filled in and trailing off into the atmosphere, thoughts never properly articulated, long umms fading into silence. There are the stacks and stacks of shipping containers, old rail tracks running alongside them. There are those three huge red poles growing from the marsh, transmitting something unknown, that the interstate loops around, a beautiful piece of sculpture that awes me anytime I take a ride out of New York City, their scale dwarfing the reeds at their base and yet a sense of proportion in their symmetry, a feeling that there is some order, some sense to the way the world works, in their equal spacing.

I didn't sleep much on the way down. I had taken some Zyrtec-D, had had a coffee, and despite being tired, felt very much awake. I read from George Saunders' new story collection, watched the landscape out the window, and watched Taylor sleep in the seat next to me.

The bus pulled into Bally's. We collected our slot credit voucher the casino gives you for riding the bus, and quickly blew through the voucher on the slot machines there, did so while enjoying the free cocktails that the city lubes you up with in order to make taking your money that much easier. I was already feeling the rush, the thrill, to be had from playing with money, this thing that we hold in such high esteem, to be frivolous with a revered idol, to play with luck, fate, and hope, and to be alternately made ecstatic, high almost, by the actualization of those aspirations, by winning some money here or there, and then also, always this part, to be disappointed, to fail, to stumble hard, and lose, and lose some more as you think that you can turn things around, that you have something on your side, some power, some luckiness, and that things will turn around. They don't, of course. And it is an emotional roller coaster, the type of feelings that we associate with a job we want, with a project we are working on, with a relationship we find ourselves in - it is all of these things on fast forward. That arc of hope and disappointment that normally plays out over weeks, months, sometimes even years, you have happen to you in one booze-filled evening as you hit the ATM machine again and again, down free cocktail after free cocktail, and keep on placing that next bet, knowing that this is the one that is going to be the one that starts your winning streak.

There was some time spent swimming in a pool, time spent lying next to a pool drinking tropical drinks, reading silly magazines, and pretending I was actually in some tropical locale. This was the brief moment of calm. This was before the fever hit me, before the frenzied rush of emotions overtook me for the next several hours.

It started at some penny slot machines. I was playing the Wizard of Oz slot machines, drawn, gay man that I am, to Dorothy, her ruby red slippers, and just as equally, perhaps more so, drawn to the woman coveting her shoes, the Wicked Witch. I was drinking some vodka drink and I had hit the bonus round, amazingly called Flying Monkey Bonus Round - a name so absurd, so fun to both hear and say that a sort of delirium is conjured by its utterance - much to the same effect that the fictional Japanese show "Super Terrific Happy Hour" had on Seinfeld. Delirium, unfettered joy, came over me whenever I would get to the bonus round. I would clap with joy about Flying Monkey Bonus Round and watch delighted as monkeys and a Wicked Witch flew across my screen. My heart rate would match the quick beat of the soundtrack, marching music for a demented monkey army.

The fever really took hold though when I watched Taylor play roulette and had him explain it to me, a game I had never played before. I sat down, gave the dealer some cash to exchange for chips and gingerly tried my luck at this game. Within two rounds, I was absolutely hooked. I had that thrill that is the reason some people make that trip to the casinos every weekend. I never wanted to leave the table. It was hours before I did. Those several hours were a fog of delirium. I was drinking whiskeys on the rocks and my stacks of chips got bigger and then a little smaller and then bigger and then smaller and I put in more money and then they got big again and then small again and then big. Ups and downs for hours, thrills with the dealer's every tossing of the white ball, waiting anxiously for it to to quit spinning and settle into the slot of a number, the dealer stretching her hand sorceress-like out over the board to signal no more bets, the casting of a spell over the board, a spell for luck.

We finally left the game, Taylor having lost too much, and myself walking away with only having lost about twenty dollars at this point. We went to the gay bar, Prohibition. It was piano night. We briefly talked to a Dolly Parton impersonator as we smoked on the balcony of the 13th Floor, looking down at the roof of the TaJ Mahal. We left piano night, ate some burgers, and again found ourselves scratching this itch, succumbing to the fever and ended up at another roulette table around one in the morning, playing with some Atlantic City characters and some terrible dealers. I was next to a woman who put chips on just about every number, telling me the significance of most of these numbers. Her nephew or grandson - I can't remember - had died twenty years ago on March 10th - "a good kid," she said. "Just in the wrong place at the wrong time." In remembrance of him, she would always put a chip on 10. The number came up quite often. There were other dates, birthdays, anniversaries of this or that, that she was betting on. The game a big game of hocus pocus, vague understandings of numerology as we put our chips on this or that number, my upcoming age because the next year is going to be a great year for me, a year of winning I tell myself. And my number did come up once, but just the once, and not enough to save me from losing quite a bit of money over the course of the night and the morning.

We finally dragged ourselves away from the table, went back to our hotel, slept, woke up, got each other off, gambled some more, lost more money, tried to invoke these spirits, to get into a groove with this board, with these numbers, to make life work in our favor, to manifest monetary winnings, yes, definitely that, but also, just as importantly, to feel in control for a brief bit, to think that things are perhaps not entirely chance, that there might be meaning and significance in these things, these events from our lives, birthdays, ages, dates when young good kids died.

We lost all of the money we had said we would bet this morning. Chance asserted itself, smacked us around a bit, emptied our pockets, and put us back on a bus to New York. On the ride back, I again noticed those three tall red utility poles on the side of the road, beautiful, syemmetrical, orderly.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Judy Collins - "Song for Judith"

When people, friends of mine even, say they don't like Girls, I think either they don't get humor, they don't get life, or that they are misogynists. This current season has been some of the most amazing television of recent years, of any years - brutally honest and sincerely engaged with what it means to be young and living in these times. And for whatever reasons it's really hard to go about portraying that these days, that there is either too much self-awareness or too much animosity about people that aren't totally held back by their own self-awareness and instead do something with that knowledge, especially if that thing receives reception in a broader culture, that there is something especially suspect about it in that case. It's stupid to even have to argue these things, to feel preemptively defensive about this show before I even hear whatever snarky comment may be directed its way. Girls is insanely amazing and when people talk about how its portrayal of New York as this very rich and very white place is so offensive, I want to know why they aren't lobbing the same critiques when they are praising Annie Hall or Manhattan, that if that's your critique of the work, what you bothered to take away from such brilliant portraits of what it means to be human, then you simply are an idiot. So it bothers me quite a lot that this show and its creator incur all sorts of abuse (e.g., Gawker's not kind obsession with Lena Dunham) that really seem to stem from misogynist and body-fascist issues rather than any issues with the show. And that's because the show is genuine, that it is honest, that it gets it. 

For instance, from this week's great episode, here is a scene, this insanely beautiful recounting by Adam of a relationship and in what absurd and cruel ways desire and love work, and done so in this very poetic Woody Allenesque monologue that is framed brilliantly by an AA group leader complaining about how no one ever brings cookies to the meetings but him, complaining about this while wearing a t-shirt that says, "Too Many Freaks, Not Enough Circuses." That setup itself is such a beautiful setup, such a perfectly painted scene, but then you have Adam unloading his heart, and it gets so much better:

The group leader of an Alcoholics Anonymous says: "Now, final order of business: next week's cookies. I've been the only one buying cookies for the last three of four weeks, and it might be nice if someone else decided to step up and buy a batch. Aw, come on guys, it's part of the deal -

Adam cuts him off, says: "Hi, I'm Adam, and I'm an alcoholic."

The members of the AA Meeting respond: "Hi Adam"

And Adam begins: "I have been sober since I was seventeen. I knew I had a problem pretty early on but I dealt with it because I didn't want to wait and I knew it would just get worse. I felt pretty solid after I stopped drinking. I stopped coming to as many meetings, but lately I haven't felt so solid anymore. I had this girlfriend who at first I didn't like pretty much. Or, I didn't take her very seriously I guess. She just seemed like, you know, a piece of ass. But, she was persistent, man. And she just hung around, and hung around, and showed up at my place, and gradually it started to feel better when she was there. It wasn't love - the way I had imagined it. I just felt weird if I didn't know what she was up to, or whatever. I liked knowing that she was just going to be there, and warm, and staying the night. And she acted like I was teaching her everything about, fucking, history, about sex, and she didn't know what street Central Park started on, or how to use soap, and I showed her. And I wanted that chance to show someone everything. But she changed her mind about me and it was [snaps fingers] that fast. I'm so exhausted. Okay. And I'll bring cookies. I don't really like cookies that much, so don't get mad at me if I bring the wrong shit."

The group leader says: "Thank you Adam. So Adam's bringing the cookies."