Thursday, July 27, 2006

Crossing Lances (with Reichen)

One of the members of N Sync , Lance Bass, has come out. This "sensational news" is spraying all over Blogland, but I say, "good on ya, mate."

With all the pressure of being in the closet, no wonder he wanted to take that space flight -- just to get away.

He's quoted in People as being in a "very stable" relationship with model-actor-Amazing Race winner Reichen Lehmkuhl. A guy with that many dashes in his name could be an Amazing Race. Why is it that celebrities date other celebs? And if Lance had to go that way, I'd rather Ricky Martin was his beau.

Ah well, one closet at a time.


Coming soon, to a bathhouse near you...

So, I'm watching "Oprah" a couple days ago. I see a guy who looks familiar (never a good sign on a talk show) and he was confessing - passionately - about being a former drug addict and sex worker.

When they shot some "on location" footage for this episode, I saw a place that looked familiar. He was telling O about this bathhouse he went to (and described in great, salacious detail -- complete with footage!) to have anonymous sex with men for money. All well and good; I've heard this on Springer. But I notice something familiar in the footage: it's half a block from my apartment.


Then I hear him say he lives in Philadelphia now, and, well, there ya go. Bob's yer uncle.

It warmed my heart to see a shot of my building rising up above this filthy den of sin. I should have called Mom, to tell her to turn on the TV.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Up in Smoke

Lincoln Apartments fire --

June 30th, 2006

Five floors --

Camac Street, between Locust and Spruce.

In pic, left of bldg in foreground (where "the lincoln" sign is)--- they' left original name, faded -- now whole place going -- in pic, first 2 top windows still intact, but where 3rd window is, now gone -

Whole middle of bldg sunk in on itself -- damage mainly to inside walls -- whole floors exposed, one dirty grey wall exploded out like false paper wall people break through in shows - long white pipes bent and jutting out like broken pipe cleaners --

thick vines of black wire pulled from top floor all the way to ground

Crane cable lifts up aluminum lifeboat, full of wreckage; charred, green blanket -- dirty, yellow foam rubber, a book, with pages flipping by rainy wind --

fourth floor windows all blown out -- 9/11 --

-- inside walls exposed -- robin's egg-blue painted over brick on third floor, top floor looks like origin of fire -- more badly burned -- beams are black and precarious -- crane (w/diff attachments on end like pulleys on gym equipment) pulls up more debris -- looks like metal arm that lifts prizes in machine on boardwalk -

now up comes door, attached to piece of wooden beam-

inside blue wall looks like it had been there a long time; those are parts that fascinate me: original traces --

soon there will be none -- not even bldg.

Maybe that's why I'm writing -- to record the demolition of more history right outside my window?




Freddie Krueger

Just woke up from one of those nightmares that stays with you even after you get out of bed. Shortness of breath, headache, disorientation. And no, that is not my usual state. Ha ha.

In it, I was driving around all night with no directions, it was dark, raining. Even stranger: I don't drive. I mean I can, it's just that I haven't in years and don't have a car. I lived in Manhattan for 13 years and then moved to another place where I can walk, 24/7.

I kept asking people for directions and they weren't any help ( Hello? "Wiz of Oz"?), no, I think it was more like "Nightmare on Elm Street," because I felt an ominous sense of doom and wanted to wake up.

When I finally came around and put my feet on the floor, I realized that rent is due in a week and I am tapped out. Now, that's enough anxiety to call up anyone's inner Freddie...


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Second Thoughts

Got started on the last blog entry and realized, after a few days, that it would be too indiscreet to go on. Yes, I DO have discretion. From time to time. And it is the better part of valour, right? Or is it VELOUR?

More on something else, later...


Wednesday, July 19, 2006


I got an answer to my letter within the week. His producers were putting up his new show and I wanted in. If I couldn't sing in it, this was at least a chance to get a foot in the door. A day or two, he would see how talented I was and everything would fall into place. Very Eve Harrington.

"I'd really love to work for you," I wrote.

"I never use assistants," he responded, "but if you'd like to meet for a drink sometime, we could do that."

The note was typed, which I found unusual and sweetly old-fashioned. How nice, how personal, that someone as busy and famous as he, would take the time to -- wait a minute. Did he? I soon found out that his secretary typed his correspondence, which dropped me into a literary three-way with someone I didn't want to know my business. Our business. Well, this toady would have to get off the Royal and give his Master a chance to type his own letters, at least to me.

There was his address and phone number, typed (alas) beneath his signature. At least he had signed it. I hoped. His name sat elegantly at the top, printed in capital letters. Very sophisticated, I thought, and made a mental note to order myself the same kind.

I read the letter five more times, hunting for any clues I might have missed, and then burst into my roommate's room and started jumping on his mattress.

"What the fuck --?" he mumbled, having been kicked in the neck. I dropped the note on his face. He read it and then started jumping up and down with me.

"Holy shit," he said, holding it in his hand.

"Well, don't rip it! Don't bend it. Give it to me."

We both sat down on the edge of the mattress and caught our breath. I held the note up gently with both hands and we stared at it as if it were the Holy Grail. For me, it was. How could this have happened to me? He had somehow seen into my soul, via the U.S. Post. I felt lucky, excited, slowly sucked into the vortex of everything I ever wanted. Let him view this as just a casual meeting, a perfunctory drink. I saw all my dreams were possible; this was a way to get to that little island called fame.

If I knew what the letter would unleash, would I have taken the #66 bus from Montclair to Manhattan that night? Of course I would.

We made a date for Friday and this was Wednesday. Shit, what to wear? I was thirty but looked younger. Coupled with my naivete and unabashed excitement, I'm sure I came off as someone still in school. Possibly. I could fit into size 28 jeans; a day which will never come again. I wore a mesh shirt, (canary yellow) and tight black jeans that cupped my ass like nobody's business. You could see my trim torso through the tiny holes in the shirt. It was a look I thought would be both sexy and memorable. I'm sure it was memorable. And it was the 'Eighties, so, what the hell?

It was a look which said, "Look, but don't touch." Or, "Touch, but not too much until you give me a part." We'd see. If nothing else, I looked like a sexy bumblebee, and that would do, too.

I grabbed my bus money and went to wait out on the corner.

Here it comes.


Everything Must Change

I have an extra-large Hefty bag of trash in one hand and a library book tucked under my other arm. Cell phone rings. On the display, one of the few people I’d like to catch up with. We’ll call him J.

“What is all this construction in your neighborhood?” he asked.

“We had a fire. An old building was ablaze two weeks ago. They blocked off that whole block.”

“Well, that makes it very inconvenient for me.”

“And ‘hello’ to you, too.”

“Hello, sweetness. So, what the hell’s up with you?”

I rested the garbage by the door, put the book down, and walked to the window.

“Where are you?”

“Oh, I’ve left the area. I’m about ten blocks away, heading south.”

I looked for him anyway, and my eyes came to rest on the gaping hole that the fire left in the building.

“What burned?”

It was an old hotel, the framework of which had been there for at least a hundred years. The middle third of the building had collapsed and the twisted pipes and girders had melted down to the ground.

“It was the Lincoln Apartments.”

“I don’t know it.”

“It’s been around forever. My new hobby is exploring all the old architecture of the city.”

“So you’re inspecting yourself?”

“Ha, ha. I was online, finding pictures of all the old hotels and theatres, and I came across it. And I found this picture of the place, looking at it from the same angle I have up here.”

“Well, in your internet searching, and I know you’re the guru of all that stuff, try and find me a boyfriend, will ya? I’m at the end of my rope.”

“Honey, if I knew where they were, I would gladly tell you. I'd be there now, waving. But there’s not a "watering hole"; they don’t all just gather and feed.”

I knew that wasn’t true; one of the most popular bars in town is right next to my building. There's a whole lot of gathering and feeding going on all the time.

“I just can’t bring myself to go there. Last night -- Friday night, okay -- I thought, ‘You should try it again. Get off the computer. Get out of the house.’ But, after I finished my Stouffer’s turkey dinner and swigged the last of my diet coke, I thought better of it. Besides, there was a fight on, and I figured it was a better way to spend my time.”

He laughed.

"Plus, it was a good fight.”

“You are the only gay man I know who gets excited over boxing.”

“Well, you obviously have a very narrow viewpoint. Very stereotypical.”

I sat on my window ledge and looked at the Lincoln. I love buildings where you can still see traces of what they once were. The word, “Lincoln,” can be seen very faintly, painted on the side of the brick building. There are a couple cranes hovering over it, like vultures. I wondered if they were going to wreck the whole place.

“I also like ‘Nanny 911’, so, I run the gamut.”

He laughed again, but perfunctorily.

“Seriously, where am I going to find a man?”

Obviously, J was not going to let the conversation flow far from his frustration. He is a handsome guy, in good shape, smart, funny. He has a touch of American Indian in him, which only enhances his good looks. I got up from the ledge and paced around the room. If he couldn’t find a guy, maybe I shouldn’t feel so bad.

“Try one of those online dating things. I was talking to R, and he’s hell-bent on finding a husband. He swears by, or whatever he’s using.”

“Uch, I hate those ---”

“---so do I, but try it, if you’re feeling so bad. Have coffee. What can you lose?”

“You have to pay for that, right?”

“Yes, hon; it’s a business. They make money off of desperate men like you and me. I’ve had bad luck with all that stuff before, but I might go back and try it again.”

“How much is it?”

“Like, thirty bucks a month or something.”

“Geez, I could drink that much in a night.”

“I know.”

“So, what are you up to?”

A chance to change the subject. Grab it.

“Things are good. Class is going well.”

“I came this close to taking it.”

“Take it in September, then.” He didn’t answer. “Great bunch of singers. A guy with a guitar, some big opera guy, and the rest are all the usual suspects.”

“Good size?”

“Huge. I have thirteen people, which is about two more than I should have, but Daddy needs a new pair of shoes. It’s a very good vibe, very positive.”

“I can’t figure out what’s changed with men. With the level of quality.”

Oy. I opened the door and picked up the trash bag. A milk carton and a wet Time magazine fell out.

“I mean, when we grew up, there were – well, you -- you’re a funny, witty, intelligent kind of guy -- ”

I closed the door quietly and walked down the hall toward the elevator, carrying the garbage and the library book, trying to keep the cell phone in the crook of my neck. “ – so, where are all the guys like that today?” I pressed the down button.

"You’re just getting old. They don't want you.”

A quiet chuckle.

“But I’ll always be older,” I added, taking any sting out of my remark.

“Hey, I had an affair this month. Well, it was only one date and he turned out to be a sex addict, but what the hell. I got a little action.”

“Good for you! That’s good to hear.”

“Of course, he’s twenty-one.”


“I know, but how many times does twenty-one go into forty-five?”

“Twice, with a little left over.”


The elevator doors opened and I dragged the trash inside. The carton fell out again. Shit; time to wrap things up. I felt the phone slipping. “So. I’m glad you called.”

“Me, too. And I’m glad you had some sex.”

“Me, too. So let’s get together, okay?”

“Yes. Things should free up a little in a couple weeks. Maybe we can go out looking for guys.”

Why did I know there’d be one more stab at this?

“Uh huh. Or maybe a movie.” I said, and the elevator doors opened.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Oh, Danny Boy

Ghandi, F.D.R., Martin Luther King, Jr. -- these are some of the heroes of the 20th Century, providing inspiration, and serving as role models for many young men. But not for Danny Bonaduce.

Seems the carrot-top cutie from -- "The Partridge Family" had his eye on someone else. After all, you can't spell "heroin" without having a "h-e-r-o." inside.

"Come on, get happy!"


Monday, July 17, 2006

I Knew There Was a Reason...

...that God created Barry Manilow.

Seems The Mandy Man is Kryptonite to juvenile delinquents in a suburb of Sydney, Australia.

If it proves successful, we're broadcasting it to Iraq. The troops will be home before Labor Day.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Gypsy Rose Lee is Rolling in her Grave

Oh, God -- it's come to this.

What fresh hell awaits us in --- the land of recycled, ridiculous, reality shows?

"Big Farter" All-Stars?

Survivor: "Escape from Good Taste"?

The Real World: Bayonne, NJ?

Nose-picker 911?

Where's LASSIE when we need her? In "The Last Bitch Standing..."


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Like a bad penny

"Isn't it rich? Isn't it...(well, we know it's queer)"

That sex-addict boy I dated - okay, slept with -- whom I met on a catering gig last month, is signed up for the next gig. (See June 25th) And so am I.

"People like that often come back into your life," my best friend said. "Don't be surprised."

Just like a bad penny, some things just keep turning up.

Hmmm, what to do?


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Shiver Me Timbers


I mean, "Oy."

Saw the new Johnny Depp "Pirates" movie - whoo, stunk like a wet dog. I went with a friend who hadn't seen the first one and I kept hoping this would give him a taste of how much fun that was.

This one? Just awful. And long. Long and awful. Great special effects, but you need more than some soggy, slimy spooks to keep a flick afloat.

We popped into the theater after a day with friends of his in "the country." (I love that any place that's out of the city and has some lawn is "the country.") Anyway, we show up and there's just three other people; two waitresses who know my friend from their restaurant job, and the boyfriend of one of them. Both women were hammered and smoking like they were going to burn down "the country." With all their faux-sophistication and acid proclamations, I felt like I'd stumbled into a Dorothy Parker Convention.

And they talked. Endlessly. The cigarettes flew around their heads like mosquitos. The boyfriend sat there chewing his fingernails, shooting glances at his mate from beneath heavy eyelids. "Good luck to you, having to live with her," I thought.

After the initial Sally Bowles-ing, they came back to planet Earth and we had a fun afternoon. Of course, they only talked about their job, but that's restaurant folk. And while I got every chapter of their daily lives, down to their last tip, no one even asked what I did. I started thinking I should just stop talking and bite MY fingernails.

Our hostess was house-sitting an enormous mansion, whose occupants go to Maine for the summer. What a spread. The house was huge and had great potential to be a real Merchant-Ivory dream, but the decor looked like stuff you'd find at a swap meet. And tacky? I kept waiting for Dame Edna to descend the staircase.

There was a dumbwaiter and a panic room (yes) and a walk-in bar, which covered a multitude of sins. Mlle. House-sitter told us that there had been a mass-murderer roaming the woods last year, and one night she was coming home from a daytrip and saw cops and roadblocks and red lights flashing. They were zeroing in on the psycho and had him cornered. She told them she just wanted to get back to the house and get to bed, and was surprised when they didn't let her.

"Hello, paging Miss Nutso, party of one."

It was a real nice clambake, we're mighty glad we came, but ultimately it was a relief to shove off to the Caribbean. Little did we know...


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Tracks, Fences

Seeming to be in a perpetual state of single desolation blessedness, I am reminded that the grass is not always greener for my friends who are coupled. They say, "enjoy your freedom." I say, "I'd like to come home and have somebody there." Everybody moans about something because that seems to be in our nature. "The other side of the tracks", "the road not taken", "just around the bend" ... it's funny how many of those clichés jump into my head.

Friends who have --- houses and kids and more stable careers: I find out there are also endless, expensive renovations, children who turn out to be a lot more work than expected, and careers that sputter and stall.

Worst of all, you wake up one day and discover that whatever bond or attraction you once felt is gone. And now the property, the kids -- you have to find a way to make that work.

My nightmare is to have someone say, "I love you," and not be able to say it in return. Not sincerely. But the truth always comes out in some way, either then or twenty years down the road. Or it stays locked inside and affects the whole quality of your life.

There was a guy I dated who had a great job as a high-level exec at MTV, with all the trimmings: fabulous apartment, enough money for five people to live very comfortably on. We had a blind date and met at the Paramount Hotel in NYC.

"Well, I'm not disappointed," he whispered over a cold martini.

What are you supposed to say? I probably mumbled, "Me, either," but it was way too soon for me to say it. He was saying he was attracted, but, while I found him nice-looking, I wouldn't have led with that statement.

He took me to the best places: restaurants, Broadway shows, up to that fabulous apartment looking overlooking Manhattan. He kept herding me into the bedroom every time I came over. He looked so crestfallen when I didn't want to go further, I finally gave in.

We rolled around for a while and I tried -- swear to God -- to ignite whatever attraction there might be. Nothing. He was soft; not just his body but his presence and intellect. Nothing extraordinary, and I needed extraordinary. At least back then.

I talked my way out of a clinch and suggested places for dinner. When we walked, he was always just an inch away. When we watched skaters at Rockefeller Center, he practically took me from behind, he was pressed so close behind me. I could barely breathe. And when I was positive this was never going to work for me, I broke it off.

I've always wondered if I moved too soon; that even his neediness might have been tempered if I gave it more than a couple months. But here was my nightmare: he was always saying, "I love you," and I couldn't look him in the eye. Not fair to him. I told him I was letting him go so he could find the person who was right for him, who would love him. Maybe he did.

Funny, that scenario popped up two or three times in my life, and it always played out the same. Too much attention, too fast a pace, and I was gone.

If I'd stayed a bit longer, would I have the house, the kids, the subsidized career opportunities? Makes me wonder.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Hiss if you must

It warms the cockles of my heart to see that, with all the money that could be used to make a real difference in the world, someone has paid a fortune to produce a piece of dreck like this. I was watching... the Tube last night and when the trailer came on, I was sure it was a parody. But no.

Okay, Hollywood - I might be silly enough to spend ten bucks to see a Christopher Reeve clone flying around in a blue suit (the suit may well be the best part...), but I draw the line at flying rattlesnakes.

Speaking of Reeves's -- the new "Hollywoodland," looks at the death of TV's Superman, George Reeves. Ben Affleck takes off his own toupee, switches to another, and it looks like he may actually be in a good movie about a Superhero. What was that other thing was in -- playing that blind cartoon character? The Shadow? The Hornet? Hold on...oh yeah, Daredevil. Oy.

But Samuel L. Jackson, what were you thinking? Hissssssssssssssssssssss.


Friday, July 07, 2006

Who's Your Daddy?

Not me.

Somewhere along the line, I slowly transformed from the happy-go-lucky college boy into some guy who's technically middle-aged. I shudder a little as I type this. And it's not palsy. Katharine Hepburn always said -- her tremors were hereditary and that a little alcohol always helped them stop. I just think she wanted a reason to drink.

But I digress.

I was in the elevator yesterday, checking out this cute guy. Subtly, of course, because we live in the same building and it would be awkward if I made an ass of myself and then had to see him someday, over the fabric softener. The doors opened and he leaned over toward me. Yes! Then I realized he was holding them open for me.

"Have a good day, sir," he said.

Sir. He actually called me "sir." Christ.

"I'm not a 'sir,' I wanted to shout, "don't you know I'm only twenty-five? Inside! Deep, deep, deep inside..."

I remember going to the bars after college and surmising that there were three distinct age groups.

1. Young

2. Forty-ish.

3. What are you even doing up this late, Grandpa?

Number three was out of the question, of course, but I also would never even consider going out with someone forty. Blechhh.

Well, ain't karma a bitch?

Picture this: I'm sitting on a barstool, holding a cigarette (which I never light, because I don't really smoke). "I don't like to suck on it, I just like to hold it," was always my droll reply. Holding an unlit cigarette is a great way to start a conversation, actually, because guys will come up to give you a light. But then, when you tell them you don't smoke, they recoil, shaking their heads. (I told you it was a great way to start a conversation; I never told you it would progress from there.)

So, this young guy comes up and starts to chat.

"Good night, tonight," he says, looking around.

"Yeah...sure is." I quickly drop the cigarette on the floor. We chatted for about fifteen minutes and I thought things were going well. What I particularly liked were his thoughts on monogamy, making a home with another guy, holding hands in public - all that romantic stuff. Over the thumping of some deafening rap song, he leaned into my ear. Yes.

"Could you slide over a little? My boyfriend can't get in."

I backed my chair out and in popped the S.O.B. ("Significant Other Bastard) who, not surprisingly, looked exactly like the guy I'd been chatting up. As I see so often in young couples, these guys looked like mirror images. Brothers. Twins. Hot as that may be at the right moment - this was not it.

"This is Kenny, my partner," my barmate said.

"Wow. Huh. You boys look too young to have -- 'partners.' When did you meet, kindergarten?"

"Oh God, we've been together for five years," Kenny said. "Right, Charlie? It's our anniversary next week."

"Yeah, if I don't kill her first," Charlie chimed in.

"Oh stop it! We're actually very happy," Kenny said, and they both giggled.

"We just tease -- and then we please! You know how it is."

"Uh huh."

"Well, come on, 'lovah,' we have to get home and walk Geronimo. We just got a little house in Society Hill. You know, the mortgage payments are less than my rent was! And then, when you have two people splitting it - God!"

"Nice talking with you," Charlie said, and then, true to his word, he walked off, hand-in-hand, with his monogamous boyfriend, to their happy home. And to Geronimo, who I hoped had taken a big dump on their new, white carpet.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Emil, part two

Edgemont Park, Montclair. In the dark, he pushes me back and forth on a swing set, on a surprisingly cool June night. Fireflies. Only a streetlight. His fingers lower on my back than -- they had to be. Keeping an eye out. Cautious, but not stopping. Push. Creak. Push. Creak. Push.

We had walked the railroad track earlier that day, one foot in front of the other along the smooth, rounded rail. A balancing act; him in front of me, me tracing his footsteps.

After the swing that night, back to my house. I switch the lamps off. He turns them back on. He can see my glare in the moonlight; he turns one back on. Then, the all too-familiar ritual: trying to come together, trying to hug, fingers trying to open shirts. His hands hold my hips, thumbs in the belt loops.

"What's the difference if we do something?" I asked.

"Yes, what is the difference? So why do it?"

"You know you want to." I put my face against his neck.

"Stop," he whispered.

"What do you want do, play Monopoly?" I pushed him down on the bed and he didn't get up. He didn't do anything. He wanted me to want him, I think. I think that was the game.

When I moved to New York two months later, he stopped calling. He didn't come into town. Too far away to see someone's devotion, he moved on.

Yes, go back to your half-"girlfriend". Go back to your half-"rock band". Go back to your full-time delusions. Fuck. If only I could only have learned my lesson then.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Emil, part one

All right, another of the Rogue's Gallery: Emil. Sounds like a Nazi name, doesn't it? Like Adolf or Hans or ... Wolfie.

He had pale skin, brown hair, piercing blue eyes, and these little "non-lips." You know the kind; those little slits some people -- have for a mouth. That was Emil.

While I still lived in New Jersey, we were in a community play, and after a rehearsal one of the cast had us all over to watch the TONY's.

"See that? That'll be you, one day," he whispered, snuggling beside me into a sofa which was already overcrowded.

"Shhhh, no talking during the show!!" somebody said.

"And I'll be able to say I knew you when..."

"Shut up, you guys!"

All of this was very confusing. Even at thirty, I was still naive enough to open up to a "straight" guy handing me a line like that. Hey, when you're starving, you'll eat Alpo. I just made myself sick. Let me get some Coke.

Okay, better. Where was I? Oh yes, Emil the dog. He was a songwriter and played in a band. This band had been playing on and off for years, just like his relationship with his (yes, here it comes...) GIRLFRIEND. Do I know how to pick 'em? What am I, some sticky wicket that trips up these losers on their way to the altar? Some depreciator of their Kinsey Six scores? Some merit badge (Task 7: screw Doug's head up) before they graduate from Cub Scout to Eagle Scout. Or Webelow? (I always loved that word; it's naughty any way you pronounce it).

The day after the party, I got calls from castmembers who were gobsmacked about the whole thing. Scandal!

"Hey, I have no idea."

"He has a girlfriend somewhere. New York?"

"I have no idea."

"Are you going to do something?"

"I have no idea." I just went for it. And by "went for it," I mean I launched into another one of those ill-fated affairs which are better left in Barbara Cartland novels. If she were gay.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Snap, Crackle, Fizzle

Okay, I can tell all you peeps have deserted me for the long weekend. Damn you.

I have just two good friends here in town; one's a guy and one's a gal. My pal L, not her full name, is never available on weekends - so, of course she's away this holiday weekend. And my friend K, not his full name, has just gotten a new boyfriend. They're off, too. Lah-de-da. Lah-de-da. Yeh yeh. I told him to - have a simply FABULOUS weekend with Ramon. Or Sergio. He had one date with this guy a month ago and this Latin Lotharo bit his lip. That was the highlight of their evening. They had nothing much to talk about, especially with split lips. And now they're off to have some fireworks of their own.

I told myself this holiday means nothing. What carries weight -- besides my stomach, since I've been bingeing after Psycho Boy -- is the fact that I always seem to be alone.

Blahblahblah. I took two Xanax to stem the quicksand of pity rising around me and I was just zoning out when the phone rang. Who was ths going to be? I got rid of caller ID, which has only added to my daily stress. What the hell; even a call from my Mother, who would at least get me out of my own head.

"Hello...", I muttered. It was an acquaintance.

"I just called to see what you were up to tonight?"

"Absolutely nothing."

"Well, do you want to go --"


"But I didn't even tell what I thought would be---"

"I don't care. Take me to one of your filthy little strip clubs that skeave me out. Take me to the piano bar where I can plug my ears while twenty-somethings belt out 'New York, New York'. Just get me outta here!" I said.

"Okay, okay -- I'll be there in an hour."

I didn't know how strong the pills were until I started to write this post and I misspelled every goddamn word. Should be an interesting night.

I will pick up on this later, but, "I will not pick up any boys in their twenties. I will pick up no boys in their twenties."


Blanche's Boston Bulletin

Recently received this from Blanche, pointing out that mannequins are still -- in the news.

She was shocked to see that two of her pals from the GLBT-M (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, MANNEQUIN) Society were dragged out of Macy's window in Boston. It seems the clothes they wore caused quite a stir. As if they had dressed themselves.

"I know these guys," Blanche said. "You can bet some queen at Macy's had a couple Cosmos and went wild with that Rainbow schmatte. Why, just last week, these dummies were dressed in chinos and Polo shirts! Don't cart off my proud wooden brothers !"

You go, girl!


Friday, June 30, 2006

But you ARE, Blanche

There are two things I regret leaving behind when I left Grove Street (well, three if you count my fireplace): my albums, and Blanche. My mannequin.

Now that I know you well enough, I can confess a secret. I found and made over an old mannequin someone was throwing out in New Jersey. She was standing by the curb -- a habit she found hard to break in subsequent years -- in all her cracking, beige-painted glory, tits to the wind.

She did have tits, although no nipples -- a flaw I quickly corrected with two nubs of plaster. Blanche had facial contours and the outline of lips and eyes, just waiting to be painted in, which I did painstakingly, to bring my Galatea to life. I stuck a brown, shoulder length wig on her bald head with gaffer's tape, and dressed her in a beaded, salmon-colored, vintage dress.

Oh my God, this is the GAYEST thing I have ever written. But I must purge -- release all the elements of my past, putting them here so I can move on. Purge! Purge!

She also had one wonky hand (it looked like decaying rubber, just about to drop off). I tried to correct that by covering it with plaster or fabric or putty, but it never took on the life-like quality of the other. So, I used to hide it with a lot of accessories. But which of us is without our flaws, I ask you. Don't we all have our own version of a gimpy hand? Something we try to hide? Okay, she split in half and you had to screw her extremities in, but wasn't she just like you and me?

She also had the requisite iron pole up her butt, which made her a lot heavier to transport than you'd think. I showed great devotion as I lugged the old girl to every apartment I had in New Jersey, even to my first two in New York. I'm sure the neighbors were amused. Or frightened.

She was like a pet I had adopted -- okay, from Macy's -- always there, standing silently, a boon companion. And one of the old-fashioned kind, sturdy and realistic, not like the fiberglass aliens they have now. Yes, they didn't make 'em like Blanche. When they made her, they broke the mold. Literally.

When I left 18 Grove Street, I had to stick her back on a curb and only hope some new connoisseur would give her a happy home.

"You have a much better chance now, Blanche. At least you have eyes. And nipples."

I think she understood, and as I drove away, I thought I saw her twist that wonky hand and wave goodbye.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Grove Street

So, here was my neighborhood; quite undeserving of such tawdry acts. Here's a mini-travelogue I assembled from different historian's articles.

This house, at 17 Grove, was my view when I looked out the window. Turns out it was quite famous:

It was built for window-sash maker William Hyde in 1822, the year that an outbreak of yellow fever led many New Yorkers to seek the safety of rural Greenwich Village.

It's the most complete wooden frame house in Greenwich Village; the largest and most intact of the Village's remaining wood-frame structures, (which were outlawed for fire prevention in 1866.)

Originally of two stories, the house gained a third floor in 1870. The sash maker's workshop, visible behind the house on Bedford Street, became a single-family residence.

In 1987, 17 Grove Street was purchased for $1.1 million and meticulously restored, a quintessential example of contemporary gentrification. The building has since served many functions -- most interesting of which was as a brothel during the Civil War.

So maybe it was an appropriate neighborhood for that callboy and his johns.

Behind it sits a mock Victorian "castle" (named "Twin Peaks") at 102 Bedford Street. This was designed in 1925 by amateur architect Clifford Reed Daily. Supported (ahem) by opera impresario and art patron Otto Kahn, Daily embodied the stereotype of the Greenwich Village "eccentric" and set out to create a home appropriate to "the minds of creative Villagers."

The New York Herald Tribune reported that Kahn had met Daily in the Little House tea room and had adopted Daily's idea for a building of 10 one-room apartments for artists. Daily, unmarried, lived in an old house on Sheridan Square, and gave his occupation as builder...

(watercolor by Danny Gregory)

On May 21, 1926, the Tribune reported that the actress Mabel Normand stood on a platform on top of one of the gables and shattered a bottle of Champagne over the roof. Next to her, Princess Amelie Troubetskoy (an American novelist who had married a Russian prince in czarist days) burned acorns in a charcoal brazier in honor of the Greek god Pan. Holy water, flowers and other rites also inaugurated the building.

Yeah, yeah, Mabel, I used to do that, too, on lonely Saturday nights.

Around my corner, at 86 Bedford, sits Chumley's, a former speakeasy that still has no sign. It was a literary hangout for Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, O’Neill, Dos Passos, Faulkner, Anais Nin, Orson Welles, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and James Thurber. It was the kind of place where you'd say "Joe sent me," and they'd pass you in. So people got passed in, and then passed out.

Living at 36 Grove, one of the Greek Revival/Italianate townhouses built in 1851, was Emma Goldman. She was living there when she was deported to the Soviet Union during the 1919 Red Scare.
She was played, in an Oscar-winning performance, by Maureen Stapleton in the movie "Reds." Coincidentally, up the street at #45, was a Federal-style manor house -- also used in the movie -- as residence of Eugene O'Neill.

Said to be the last of its kind in the neighborhood, John Wilkes Booth plotted the Lincoln assassination with co-conspirators there.

Communists, assassins, they all loved the old neighboorhood.

In 1923, poet Hart Crane lived there when he wrote "The Bridge", his paean to New York. Shortly thereafter, he threw himself out of a boat and died.

The curse of tragedy in the water carries on to this day; the house now sits over a laundromat.


The Cocksucker and the Stockbroker

Deciding to turn my thoughts from the still-smoldering devastation that is my love life. Or sex life. Or lack thereof -- I have booked myself into the Convent of the Sacred Celibate for the holiday weekend and am plunging into happier thoughts.

Like the time I was about to leave my place on Grove Street (below) and go to the gym. As you can see, the entrance to the house is down below street level. There's a charming little sunken entranceway where the door is, and although they have since "gotten a clue" and put a second door on it -- when I lived there, anyone could come down into the darkened space and do whatever they wanted.

Or whomever.

Back to the gym. Or trying to get there. Inside, I had my hand on the doorknob when I heard moans coming from outside the door. Against the door. Against the mailboxes. The buzzers.

"Oh yeah, boy. Take it. Take it all."

Needless to say, I put my gymbag down and pressed an ear against the door.

"Get down there. Do it. Yeah, that's right. Work it."

I was waiting for him to say, "Who's a dirty pig boy," but he didn't get to it. Five minutes later, they were up onto the street. I, of course, scooted up to see the callboy and the businessman go their separate ways. I was halfway to the gym before I realized a had a used condom stuck to the bottom of my sneaker.

Ahh, good times. Good times.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Maybe the best place

"I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills", wait...I was living in New York, in Greenwich Village.

I always make that mistake...

I lived in this old house (2nd picture down) next door to one of the locations for "Friends". I forget which -- character lived there; it always gave me a kick when they panned up and you could see into my kitchen. I jumped and waved a lot, hoping I'd end up in one of the shows.

The house I lived in was over 100 year's old. I had a studio apartment (the last in a series of studios; I swore to get a one-bedroom when I moved out. Did, too.)

I love history. And New York. And famous artists. So when you wrap that all up and put it in a neighborhood, I'm in heaven.

I had a working fireplace in the main/only room. Although I wasn't allowed to use it, I did anyway. It was a schlep up the narrow, steep staircase to the fourth floor, but it was better than butt-robics. Remind me to tell you next time about the story with the male prostitute and the businessman...


Sylvia Plath's Toaster Oven (apologies to Toddy)

Okay, I need to exorcise this so I can put it behind me. There is a positive use of denial; it has always worked for me, and I intend to swim down Denial just as soon as I finish here. I haven't even returned my friend's calls because ---
I just can't talk about it. Here, I can put it down at my own pace, and then brick it up in this monolith of memory I'm constructing here.

The story is not an old one, but when it happens to you, it seems brand new. Read the last few posts and you'll see where I was in my relationships. Outside of the incredible sex I had last week, it also opened something in me which had been bolted up. For years. I think I had nailed it shut because the last time was so devastating. (see "Nicholas.") In fact, see all the posts; part of my devastation after the conversation that follows, was the realization that pretty much all of my affairs have been similarly fucked up, and ended by the other guy.

Usually, as you see, I have some rueful humor laced throughout my romantic misadventures. But there is no comedy here, and yet I don't want it to drown in melodrama, either. So, just the facts. Again, I won't recount what came before.

When I woke up yesterday I laughed at the "one-nighter" line I recalled from "Starting Over," so I blogged it. I thought maybe it was a way to cope with waiting for a call I was sure would come. After having wait a couple of days, I picked up the phone. Fuck waiting any more.

"Hello," he said. His voice sounded far away.

"Did I wake you up?" It was 11:30 a.m., but what the hell - it was Sunday.

"No, I'm just -- getting things together. I told you I was going on that trip."

If he did, I didn't hear it. Okay, move it along.

When ya comin' back?"


"Oh. Well. We haven't talked in a couple days and I just thought I'd say --"

"Can I call you back? Just in a little while. I'll call you when I'm done."

"Okay, sure. Talk to you later."

That was 11:30. Like a dope I waited here till 2 and then went out. I came back. No message. A wave of imminent disaster washed over me. I thought, "Wait a little longer. Wait a little longer."

By 4:30, I just picked up the phone without even stopping to consider.

"Hi," he said.

"What's up?" I was waiting for you to call me back."

"Oh, I'm, sorry."

What the fuck did THAT mean? And and it was followed by silence.

"So, what's going on?"

"Just chillin'."

"Just chillin." I thought about each word before it said it; if I could keep this canoe afloat somehow, I would do it.

"What are you doing?"

"I was just waiting to talk to you. I wanted to thank you for that nice text message you sent" (the morning after we slept together. My plan was to stay positive.

"Cool. Sure." Then more silence. I felt it all coming apart.

"What's up with you?"

"Nothing. I'm just getting for the trip."

"Yeah, got it. What's going on?" He started to giggle nervously. This went on for five minutes, alternating with long pauses. This was it. Game over. So go for it.

"Well, something's change since I saw you."

"Okay... "

He said nothing.

"I thought I heard you say 'ok'".

"I did. I'm just trying to get the words."

Oh, Christ. Well, let's have it. I saw all the images of our night wipe across my mind.

"I think we rushed into things," he said.

"Okay. I can set that. But it seemed like you were the one who ---"

"--- it's not you, it's me. It's my problem. I just can't do something like this again. Rush into something."

I scrambled. "So -- you want to slow down?"

"It's something I've been working on with a therapist."

There it was. Coming to the end.

"I just can't do this, I'm sorry. It's me. It's not you."


I said a quick goodbye and hung up, making sure I did before he did. I sifted what we had done through this filter. I tried to see how it fit. But if someone is sick, if they're a sex addict, all bets are off. You have to just accept it. Get up.

I was just angry at first. Then hurt. Then an overwhelming sense of hopeless dropped on me. Just, what's the point - not about life in general, but about finding someone healthy and available. Christ. I don't think I've ever had that, and that compounded everything that just happened. I actually felt a weight on me as I literally stumbled (the humidity didn't help) to see a movie, to get out. I talked to myself. I tried to translate this foreign language I'd been asked to take in. Can people see this, I wondered.

I ended up seeing "Prairie Home Companion," which was okay, but the end result really lifted me. Seeing Lily Tomlin and Meryl on the opening credits, I felt a sense of relief; oh, here are two people who feel like friends, who are going to tell me a story and take me away.

And it worked. As corny as it sounds, I walked out of there with some perspective. The night was cool and breezy and I sat on a stone bench waiting for the bus home.

I thought of the stories people tell about going to a picture during the Depression and coming out feeling more hopeful. I can't process what happened - any of it -- but that's intellectual now and not emotional.



Monday, June 26, 2006

and --

I am no "one-nighter!"

I am no --"ONE-NIGHTER!"


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sunday Afternoon

The cellphone screen. No messages. Pick up the home phone; no series of beeps telling me someone left a message. Fuck. What happened to the laissez-faire philosophy I swore I'd adopted. On some level, Junior High school never -- leaves us.

He'd pulled his shirt over his head and laid down on the sheets. My turn? I twisted the switch on the lamp and everything went black.

"I can't stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action."

- Blanche, A Streetcar Named Desire."

I flash on myself in bed beside him, flat on my back, knowing he was staring at my face in the moonlight. I tried to will my cheeks and jawline up.

All my worrying and then he says, "I love your smile. There's something behind it, I don't know."

Terror, maybe?

"I may have to stalk you - just to see you smile."

Sounds creepy, I know, but in his tone I knew he meant he just wanted to see it as much as he could. I worked that smile all night till I felt like the Joker.

What pierced me deepest was when I was on my side and he curled up behind me and put an arm over me. Socks still on, we rubbed our toes against each other's.

"Did you ever have your feet massaged?"

"No," he said, "but I do have something of a foot fetish." Okay.

"Well, I ain't suckin' no toes till I know you a lot better."

"No, I meant I ---

"Oh, you're the sucker."

"---I'm the sucker, yes."

"Well, one day I'll get a pedicure and you can go to town." He'd already told me he liked kissing me on the nose. Why not the toes? Toe-ses and noses. He took the palm of my hand and kissed it. Bringing it to my side, he continued to hold my hand. Fuck fucking. This was my idea of getting closer.

On top of him, I looked down on his young face and ran my fingers through his light brown hair. What color were his eyes? Brown, yes. He had some Latin blood in there somewhere; we touched on it at the hotel, but I was too busy wondering if he wanted to kiss me to listen.

He took my shirt off and pulled me into his chest, as if our bare chests touching could merge us. I can't remember much of what else we said, but we laughed and rolled around and I knew this was one for the books. I even kicked him out of bed a little sooner than he needed, in order for him to catch his train.

"You kickin' me out?"

"Yes, arise," I said, slapping his thigh. He sat up and I congratulated myself that he had not been the one to say, "I should be going."


He'd made enough allusions about things we'd do in the future that even my neurotic fears were quenched.

Which brings me to Saturday. I was doing fine in the morning; all my friends wanted all the details.

"And the funny things is, no matter what happens, it was a great night. I mean, he's twenty-one, so -- it can't be a relationship. Right? What's great about being older is that you don't have to do all that 'will he call me' shit. Right? I'm way too old for that."

Which brings me to Saturday night. No call.

Jesus Christ.

I take a shower and when I come out there's a text message. Thank God.

"I had a lot of fun last night and it wasnt just because of how the night ended."

Aw, sweet. But after a wash of warmth my eyes jumped to the word, "ended."

It was just a statement of fact but it totally built up some kind of "what did he mean by that?" domino chain that started to collapse.

If that isn't the total definition of neurotic, I don't know what is.

Then followed, "Why didn't he call to say it? What's with the text messaging?"

Finally, I snapped out of it and went about my day, thinking how wonderful it was that he even took the time to do it. Great. Really great.

After watching "Now Voyager" and "Holiday," I was totally transported into the altered state of Hollywood romance. I decided to text him back. I knew he was going to a catering job - either just arriving or on his way. Good time to do it.

"U can call late and tell me how hot water went."

"Hot water" was shorthand for when we broke down the coffee station the night we met and he'd burned his hand.

Good. Just enough. Good.

I watched the clock as the time dragged on.

6:00 - Well, I guess he's not going to call before the event.

10:00 - it's been on for three hours; maybe he'll get a break and call.

11:30 - things should definitely be winding down. He'll be out of there by 12:30. Just give it an hour.

12:45, 1:00, 1:15. Come on now, you asshole, answer me! I turned off my lights and just stared at the cellphone blinking green, not red. After ten minutes I turned the lamp on, picked up the goddamn phone and texted again:


Another precious bit of code; I called him Pretzel Boy when we were setting up for the event and he was filling bowls with chocolate pretzels.

A half-hour went by. Why did I text a second message? Fuck.

I took two Excedrin PM's, knowing I would have stewed over this all night.

This morning: No message. I am now doggie-paddling to keep from drowning in obsession all day.

"Oh, it's so nice being old enough to not get caught up in mind games." Who waits a day to call, how long do you wait, when are we going to get together, is he seeing someone else?

Well, let the games begin.


Sunday Morning

Enough of this sappy, amorphous stuff. I don't want this to turn into jejune ramblings that sound like sentiments you'd write on the inside of a yearbook. Focus, focus. My goal, outside of preserving my stories, is to be --- as particular as I can. Creating my pentimenti, evoking stronger, more sensual memories -- that shine brightest by using the most accurate words.

"Old paint on canvas, as it ages, sometimes becomes transparent. When that happens, it is possible, in some pictures, to see the original lines: a tree will show through a woman's dress, a child makes way for a dog, a large boat is no longer on an open sea. That is called pentimento because the painter 'repented,' changed his mind. Perhaps it would be as well to say that the old conception, replaced by a later choice, is a way of seeing and then seeing again.

"That is all I mean about the people in this book. The paint has aged now and I wanted to see what was there for me once, what is there for me now."
- Pentimento, by Lillian Hellman.

The truth, as they say, is in the details.

So is sex. Or rather the recounting of last Friday.

After we came back to my apartment, I switched on the air conditioning. My cat, Scudder, came bounding out of the bedroom, determined to take over this situation all others.

"There he is," I announced, "lord of the manor." You can tell right away if someone can tolerate your pet or if they'd prefer that it was in a pound.

"Hello there, kitty," John said, and since he didn't recoil I figured it was cool. But the apartment wasn't, so I switched the fan on to quickly circulate more air.

"Wow, God, look at this view", he said, leaning against the window frame. "You can see everything from up here!"

What remained to be seen was what would happen when he turned around. I tossed a couple cushions on the floor beside the couch to give him more room.

"Come on - sit there, relax. Is that air too cold on you?"

"No, it feels great."

He looked at me and I popped up, glanced around, lowering the lights, pushing some books under the sofa with my foot.

"Oh, and -- there are candles somewhere," I said, remembering that most of them were in the bedroom where I'd secured the cat. And I wasn't going to chase Scudder around the living room. There was one votive candle plopped at the bottom of a tall candle holder. I went into the kitchen-ette (and I mean -ette, because it was really just a glorified closet with a stove) found a box of old matches. Having pulled the box off the shelf upside down, a few fell on the floor, but I acted as if I didn't notice. Causally, I reached my hand inside the long glass vase and tried to touch the flame to a curled wick. I got burned but didn't show it.

"Okay, we've got 'candle'."

I sat opposite him and he smiled. Nervously, I popped up again, rifling through my CD's. Running my thumbnail down the Broadway cast recordings and Judy at the Palace, I found the soundtrack to "Don Juan de Marco." Terrible movie. Good music. He'd gotten up to look at the sky again; he loved thunder storms and lightning was cutting through the mist. When he turned back I was on the couch.

"Thought I'd join you over here."

He sat down beside me, one pillow between us, the room dim enough to barely make out his features. He was smiling. He had that "I know that you know that I know what you want to happen," smirk. I tossed the pillow on the floor. All I did was lean in an inch and he was on me like a Hoover.

Slow down, cowpoke. It's was like he was at a pie-eating contest and I was the pie. Not unpleasant, but a tidal wave, where a gentle lapping would have been sufficient to begin with.

And speaking of lapping, he was on mine in a couple of minutes. He straddled me, face on mine so closely I almost had to gasp for air. I leaned back a little to give him the message. He dropped from 90 mph to 50, so our lips had room to shape kisses instead of slathering them on.

He positioned me underneath him, my calves lying over the sharp edge of this ancient hide-a-bed. As he got on top I thought, "I remember this." That heavy weight pushing down, and you can't move much more than your arms and fingers. He could, though, and as he started to sway I did feel other things. We started necking (a phrase my young friend James finds archaic and hysterical) and he was nuzzling like he was trying to bruise my collarbone. When I went down on his neck, the pace picked up and suddenly he stopped.

"Be careful, remember I work with small children." It took me a second to realize he was talking about hickeys (now that's an archaic term which I find hysterical) and I laughed at the thought of him covering up a mark with Cover Girl.

"If anyone should be afraid of that, it should be me. I'm fairer than anyone."

"You're the fairest in the land," he laughed. "Now you get on top of me," he instructed, lifting me up and under. Obviously, the boy had a plan. I went with it. "Can we go to the bedroom? I'm losing the feeling in my leg."


I led him down the hall and opened the door, stepping into a much cooler room. We were immediately encircled by the cat.

"Oh, what about him? Is he into three-somes?"

"Don't worry," I replied, and gently kicked Scudder into the hall and shutting the door.

"Now there's no music," he said, kicking his shoes off. Oh crap, if I go back into the living room the cat will shoot back in and never leave.

"Wait a minute, I have this CD player," I said, unearthing it from beside the bed. Please let there be something in it. I pressed the button and it started to play a jazz rendering of Sondheim songs.

"Hey, I like that."

"That's Stephen Sondheim, the guy you never heard of before."

He'd told me that in the coffee shop and I almost spit my juice.

"Sweet," he said, and pulled me down beside him. We made out for a while and I slowed him down when I felt it was coming to the edge of no return.

"Let's just lie here a minute, okay? Let's cool down. I don't think the air is working."

I got up in the darkness and squinted at the dial; I had left my glasses in the living room. "Well, it looks like it's on High." A bald-face lie; I had felt the knob like Helen Keller and, already self-conscious about my age, I was not going to tell him I couldn't see it.

"Well, come back. I won't touch you."

"Please, that's not the problem," I laughed. "I'm just all sweaty."

"That's how it goes, remember?" he winked. And there it was. I barely did remember.

More later...