Saturday, May 14, 2016

NYC

Times Square Kiss (w/Prince in the background)

New York I love you.  I love you but you've changed.  The energy of NYC - eclectic and electric will never change, that's a constant.  No matter how many crappy new NYU buildings go up the palpable & alluring energy of the city is there to stay.  Sure, there are still tons of artists and freaks living downtown but there's a frigging 7-Eleven on Ave. A.  AVENUE A (THIS IS AN ALL CAPS MOMENT PEOPLE)!!!!!  I mean, I moved to the East Village in 1992 and for many I'm sure it was already over then but there were still junkies and prostitutes on the streets.  I liked it better when it was still dangerous to cross Ave. C.  I felt more at home with the junkies and pimps and whores and street urchins than I do with frat boys and clusters of girls walking in a horizontal line down the middle of the sidewalk clucking like chickens but believing they are Carrie Bradshaw.
     I had the absolute pleasure of taking my boyfriend to NYC for his 1st ever visit.  If you've never been to NYC with someone who has never been to NYC then I suggest you try it.  I could see the magic and excitement in his eyes from the moment we set foot on the filthy sidewalks of downtown until the cab back to JFK.  He was practically Mary Tyler Moore-ing his way through the streets,  tossing his hat up in the air and twirling about.  We even went to Times Square solely for the purpose of getting a kiss photo with the backdrop of a million watts of light bulbs flaring.  It was intoxicating to see him revel in the electricity of the city.
     Of course, we were on vacation and everything is more alluring when you have no agenda or commitments except seeing friends perform and socializing.  The main point of visiting at the time we did was to see the reunion of two of my favorite performers of all time Kiki & Herb.  My entire time in NYC could be told using Kiki & Herb shows as a backdrop to my experiences.  I'd seen them perform everywhere from the now obsolete Flaming East all the way up to a sold out show at Carnegie Hall!  Under the guise of two old washed up boozy cabaret performers who seem clueless about life is the sharp and pointed social commentary of 2 extremely intelligent and seasoned performers.  They tackle social issues by telling their fictionalized life story peppered with popular songs from all eras.  Mx Justin Vivian Bond is the well endowed Chanteuse Kiki,  and Kenny Mellman is her gay Jew tard (their description, it's like when black people use the "N" word)  piano accompaniment.  It's genius performance on all levels.  Jacob got to see them for the 1st time and I got to see them for the millionth but it was as if absolutely no time had passed since their last show.
     That's kind of how it feels to me to be back in NYC - it's as if no time had passed at all.  Connecting with true friends always feels like that, you pick up exactly where you left off last and there's never any weirdness stepping right back into those roles.  The only real evidence of time passing is the presence of new businesses and the disappearance of old ones.  Things like the fucking 7-Eleven on the corner in my old hood is a sharp slap on the face reminding us that time has, in fact, passed.  Kind of like when you're always with your friends and you feel like you've all always looked the same and then you see a photo from 1992 and you're like "DAMN!! I guess we don't really look like kids anymore!"
     NYC I will always love you.  It's been nice to be on the West Coast the past decade and to know that no matter what happens the streets of NYC will always feel like home.  In NYC I have the confidence of a native strutting around the neighborhood that I know like the back of my hand despite the appearance of some blemishes and scars that may not have been there before.  Perhaps I'll live there again one day, I'm certainly not the kind of person who could stay in the same spot my whole life.  I know NYC and it's energy will always be there and I will always be able to slip right into the current of it.












Friday, March 25, 2016

Fantasy

Bette Davis & Marilyn Monroe "All About Eve" 1950

For as long as I can remember I've always wanted to escape.  I've never felt 100% comfortable living in actual reality - I craved glamour, fantasy, the silver screen.  When I was in elementary school I would get the TV guide over the weekend and I would scan it for Bette Davis and Marilyn Monroe movies.  If there happened to be a marathon on TV one day I would plan to feign sickness so I could stay home from school and binge watch - already a perfect little performer at age 7, 8 or 9!  I'm not even sure how I knew about these glamorous woman whose star's shined many, many decades before my time.  I was even obsessed with Zsa Zsa Gabor who was not exactly a household name in Schenectady, NY.
     I think this desire was always a part of me although it was greatly enhanced once I started going to school.  I immediately learned that the world was not all puppies and coloring books once I had to mingle with the general population on a daily basis.  I went to an alternative school up until 4th grade and even so the kids were beyond cruel.  They hurled a barrage of nasty words at me that I had never, ever heard before and it was shocking and very upsetting.  I was different simply because I didn't like or know a damn thing about sports and my friends were mostly girls.  That shit ain't cool to red-blooded, suburban boys at all.  I understood quickly that I didn't fit in and that I had to get outta Dodge ASAP.
     To this day I get stressed out and bogged down by the mundane.  Dealing with taxes, and bills, and insurance companies and all the unnecessarily annoying and complicated red-tape that the modern world procures.  I cannot even begin to tell you of the absurdity that I am dealing with as the result of my car accident.  It's been 6 weeks and not only is there no resolution in sight it's like the whole process is inside out and moving backwards.  Six weeks in Los Angeles with no car is like being lost in a desert with no water and racing toward mirages that evaporate as soon as you approach.  It ain't easy! These corporate types and insurance brokers are making me feel like I'm in 2nd grade again, it's like talking to 6 year olds.
     Thankfully, I have surrounded myself with beautiful, creative people who think and live outside of the box.  I don't understand the ways of the world and quite frankly I do not wish to.  I do not want to lower myself to the level where something like an insurance claim makes perfect sense to me.  NO THANK YOU.  I will stay up here in the glowing ether blowing kisses in the wind whilst dressed in my finest evening splendor like Marilyn Monroe standing over that subway grate in The Seven Year Itch.  Furthermore, I will flick my cigarette in the face of the insurance companies and tell them to go where the sun don't shine like Bette Davis on any given day.







Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Crash

Join the car crash set

In life you never know what may hit you. Usually, one is speaking metaphorically in this way yet, unfortunately, I am speaking quite literally. Driving home from shopping on Feb. 13th I was hit, hard in my newly refurbished, sweet, vintage car by a woman backing out of her driveway in a rather posh neighborhood.  For a split second I had no idea what happened - did I hit someone, did a tree fall on me, was there an earthquake?  When my car came to a stop I realized I had been hit.  I stepped out of my car afraid to see the damage and totally shaken up.  The car was a mess.
     The woman was leaving her own house but she was driving a friend's car.  I didn't think much of itat the time but this alone has caused a world of complications and stress.  I wasn't too badly hurt - no broken limbs or blood but I do need a full year of chiropractic care since my neck and back got wrenched and are both really stiff and sore.  I already had to get a lawyer because of the issues with 3 separate insurance companies and they are claiming it's my fault even though anyone looking at my car can clearly see from the angle of the damage that I was hit.  It's pretty much a nightmare and I've been really stressed out despite trying to keep my blessings in plain sight.  Try living a busy life in LA without a car, it ain't easy.  I'm hoping any day now my lawyer will sort this out and get them to issue me a rental car.
     It's funny when shit hits the fan I always tend to default to the "I am not equipped to handle this mode" but, as it turns out, I did all the right things given my lack of experience in such matters.  I mean, who the hell really wants to be an expert in maneuvering around a terrible car accident?!  My chiropractor is amazing and going to him is the only thing that actually alleviates my uncomfortability but it take me an hour each way to get to him - please note he's 12 miles away and that's how rotten LA traffic is at any given moment.  So, I have a long haul in front of me since I need a full year of treatment to get well again.  Hopefully, I will have my own wheels again soon so I don't go mad trying to get around.  Oh, and to add to the Hollywood-ness of this event the driver just happens to be the wife of a very famous TV actor.  Only in LA.
     I had set out that day with the most unselfish of intentions.  I was going out to buy a Valentine's Day gift for my honey and I was so excited because, as usual, I found the most perfect thing.  So many things ran through my mind like why did I turn on that street, why did I change my mind about the store I chose to go to, and why did I even bother leaving the house?  Of course, these are things that are all way beyond my control and the "what ifs" can literally drive you crazy if you let them.  If only in the immortal words of Cher I could turn back time - yeah, yeah, yeah I'm gay, so sue me.  Actually, don't I'll be doing the suing this time.
     On the other side of all this hassle and annoyance is the fact that I'm still in one piece as is the other driver.  No one was in the car with me for surely if they were they'd be much more hurt than I was.  I still have my happy house with my beautiful boyfriend and my 2 little doggies and all of them love me a lot.  That's all that really matters right?  Love.  Don't all the best songs and poetry tell us that?!  I guess it's human to have deal with this kind of shit especially in this modern world.  Sometimes I wish I could simply be an emotionless robot that is incapable of computing stress and feeling - sure would be easier not to mention the never having to go to the bathroom thing.  Alas, I am what I am and if I was a less emotional sort my stories wouldn't be as entertaining.





Saturday, February 13, 2016

Youth & Beauty

John Waters, 2008

Over Christmas I had an amazing conversation with a friend of my mom's that has stuck with me.  She's a much older woman who was spunky and funny and had me laughing the whole time.  I loved her long, red lacquered nails and her tales of being a crazy old cat lady whose house is over run by a dictatorship of cats in which she is merely a tenant! We were talking about age and I mentioned that my mom would be 70 this year.  She said she wished she was only turning 70 and that life really does speed by.  She told me that when she was a young and driven career woman (real estate) in her power suit that she thought she had everything all figured out and that she'd always be on top of her game.  At the time she met a much older woman that told her you will never be as young and strong as you are right now and that life goes by fast so don't take it for granted.  She thought the woman foolish but now in hindsight she sees the woman was right.
     That conversation has always stuck with her as I'm sure her re-telling of it will always stick with me.  Age, it's a very funny thing.  Of course, lifestyle completely dictates how age effects you.  The most beautiful people I meet are the one's whose inner radiance shines out.  People that are beautiful inside are always beautiful on the outside too even if they don't look like Cindy Crawford or Brad Pitt.  Still, the body does break down eventually and there is no real fountain of youth.  The people you see that are obsessed with staying young on the outside usually resort to procedures that leave them looking not young but insane.  Like we all knew exactly how old Joan Rivers was and her surgeries only made her look like a crazy puppet but not any younger.  To each their own though and if that fulfilled some need inside her then so be it.
     I am lucky that my metabolism and my genes are strong - there is so much longevity on both sides of my family, even the crazy alcoholics live into their 90's.  That being said I also try and have fun in my life and maintain a childlike wonder with the world.  Sure, I have my days were my moods take over and I wear jealous or bitter colored shades but, luckily, those moments pass and I am able to see beauty in the world, my world, again.  Perhaps, it's because I know some deep, down and dirty hardships and I was able to emerge from them with not only surviving but also thriving.  Maybe the intense pain I have felt in life has made me aware of and more capable of feeling and noticing the joy and happiness as well.
     People are always shocked when I tell them that I'm 45.  In fact, I've had to procure my driver's license on occasion to prove my point.  I mean, why anyone who's not 16 would lie upwardly about their age is beyond me but I ain't got no shame in my game.  I've said it before but I operate under the philosophy that the best is yet to come.  At no point in my life do I ever want to be the type of person who thinks his glory days are behind him.  That is too depressing.  John Waters always says that you should never trust anyone who thinks of high school as their golden years.  I say AMEN & PRAISE BOWIE to that!!  Speaking of which we are going to see John Waters live tonight doing one of his hysterical and poignant lectures.  He's a prime example of someone who is aging well.  He doesn't look 20 and why should he he's 69 and he looks fab in his Comme Des Garçons suits.  He's witty and wise and his tongue is no less sharp than it's ever been.  I think that always moving forward and laughing at one's self as you're doing it is what keeps us vital and vibrant and young at heart.  This is a filthy fucking world but as long as you can recognize the shit you can appreciate the beauty of the rose as well.






Saturday, February 6, 2016

Emotional Rescue

Johnny Depp from "The Lone Ranger" 2013

Have you ever wished you could go back in time and make different choices?  For sure every human that has ever lived has entertained such thoughts.  We have all had grandiose fantasies of, say, going back to pre-war Germany and assassinating Hitler.  But on a more personal level what if we could go back and make a more subtle change?  Take a slightly different path like in one of those children's novels where you flip ahead to a certain chapter depending on which road you choose and each has a completely different ending.
     I was never one of those kids that always knew exactly what I wanted "to be" when I grew up.  Sure, at age 6 I thought I'd be a veterinarian simply because I loved animals so much.  I'm pretty sure most kids had the same thought at one point - at least the girls and the gay boys did.  My life as a child was so fraught with deep and intense emotional turmoil that I really didn't have time to imagine my future.  It was such an insurmountable task just to make it through each day without completely unraveling.  I was so horribly bullied and tortured by other kids that my inner life was like World War 3 all day long.  I don't say this to illicit sympathy but just to paint a picture of what my youth was like.  My inner war was so intense that it caused me to double over in pain in the middle of class as I was constantly stricken with a "ghost" illness that could never be properly diagnosed and was always improperly treated.  I consumed an unearthly amount of prescription Mylanta as a child - the chalky thickness of that liquid is something I can still taste if I think about it for too long.
     Because of the seemingly never ending, gut wrenching pain that I was in I started very early on to look for my own remedy.  Something that would save me from what ultimately was myself.  I got temporary relief from sugar and it gave me a rush to steal candy as often as I could.  I also used to spend hours after middle school in the local arcade and, that too, was a good escape from reality.  Really, anything that let me live outside of myself was welcomed with open arms so it was no surprise that I turned to booze as soon as I found out what it did to my inner (& outer) world.  It soothed  the pain, eliminated the grief and let me become an extroverted version of my shut down, depressed and gloomy child self.  Of course, I eventually graduated to the hard stuff and once I found heroin it pretty much was the end of the line.  I was off to the races and THANK BOWIE (I have decided to permanently name the deity I pray to after the one and only David Bowie) I got sober before someone had to pick out my casket!
     Even in sobriety I was still constantly looking to be rescued.  I carried this Disney-fied idea in my head that someday MY prince would also come and whisk me away gallantly on his beautiful, muscular steed and together we would ride off into the sunset and live in a beautiful castle on a hill.  For a young, rebellious, goth-y gay boy from Schenectady that took pride in living on the fringe I still was riddled with this BS societal fairy tale about being rescued.  Part of it came from an unwillingness to take responsibility for my own happiness, which, honestly, I didn't know was possible for many years.  I knew that the circumstances in my childhood that lead to such deep & troubling emotional pain were not my fault but I also, falsely, thought that the world owed me everything because of it.  Another grandiose, spoiled, yet not uncommon belief.
     I finally had an epiphany after almost 4 years of amazing, terrifying, and life-changing group therapy that I WAS the prince on the white horse!  I was the only man that could and would truly resuce myself.  I spent decades looking outside of myself for something that was inside me all along. I call that situation standing on one's (G)spot - it's like when you are searching everywhere for the sunglasses that are on top of your head.  If you are standing on your own spot then you can't see it and will never find it.  All off this seems like "New Age 101" or "Self-Help For Dummies" but it caused an amazingly intense and glorious shift within my self.  Once I realized that I could be my own hero and resuce my own damn self it left me open to truly learn how to love.  1st to love myself then to love others and let them truly love me.
     Now, I'm quite certain I wouldn't go back in time or if I could I wouldn't change a damn thing except, perhaps, buying certain concert tickets, ha.  Taking responsibility for my own happiness and well-being is the best and most beautiful lesson I have ever learned.  Sometimes I don't do a great job of it and I let myself be down n the dumps for a little while.  But, for the most part I feel like the luckiest guy alive and I know that love is the only rescue.










Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Goodbye

Souls Rising by Angeline of the Art Matènwa collective, 2010

Death is inevitable.  It happens to the worst and, unfortunately, the best of us.  It cannot be avoided and it is a common denominator of the experience of life.  Why then does it seem certain times are plagued with an onslaught of people crossing over?  Are there really times (war not included) when there is more death than others or do we simply notice it more when it touches us personally?  2016 so far has been one of those times when it seems like the grim reaper is leerily waiting around each and every corner.
     Perhaps, we are collectively hopeful and positive when we pass into a new year.  It's a beginning, a fresh start, a single step onto a year long path that leads to a place where the streets are yet unnamed and the possibilities are endless.  We make resolutions and promises and set goals and try to bring a newfound excitement and joy onto this path that, hopefully, leads to an actual Emerald City.  So, when death clobbers us repeatably over the head with its gnarled claw grasping a fatal hammer it startles us.  It seems heavier, darker and more tragic.  Like, for instance, when someone dies in a brutal and icy collision on Xmas Eve it somehow seems so much worse than if it happened on a lone Wednesday in February.  Really, it is no better or worse on any given day but it is definitely more noticeable near a holiday.
     It isn't just people in the public eye - Lemmy, David Bowie, Angus Scrimm, Natalie Cole, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Dale Griffin - but also a dear friend's mom, another dear friend's longtime associate and the list goes on.  To quote the Butthole Surfers "strangers die everyday."  Callous perhaps or maybe just pragmatic and true.  This world is overloaded with billions of people so thousands must pass every day, it's just statistics and, well, life.  Obviously, David Bowie has hit me the hardest and as I write this I am actually pretty numb still.  His death was very unexpected to me and most people except his closest loved ones.  He is the most iconic figure to ever leave this planet while I am on it.
     It does seem that 69 is the most common number amongst a lot of these deaths.  Sure beats the ripe ol' age of 29 that seemed to be the (un)lucky number for so many rock stars of yore - Janis, Jimi, Jim, Kurt.  I saw Patti Smith perform her legendary album "Horses" in its glorious entirety a few weeks back and, she too, is 69.  Doesn't seem like she's going anywhere any time soon and she also didn't seem old.  She's still rocking out and spitting on stage in true and original CBGB's style.  69 is too young to go but no one can ever accuse Lemmy and Bowie of not living life to it's fullest.
     The most grievous and heartbreaking loss that I have experienced in my life was my beautiful Grandma Molly.  She was the coolest, healthiest, most open minded and spiritual person I have ever known.  Health was her #1 priority and she spent a huge percentage of her time preparing her meals, sourcing perfect ingredients, finding the right combinations and taking the essential vitamins.  She made her own sunflower milk decades before you could buy Silk at every local store.  The news that she had cancer hit us all so profoundly - her the most I imagine.  It made no sense, nothing she did in her life was carcinogenic except, perhaps, living in NYC.  She was 92 when she passed which is, by NO means, young but I think (unfairly to her & ourselves) we imagined her immortal.  I have had this conversation many times with my Mom and we have come to the conclusion that since cancer was, inevitably, the thing that would take her out of this life that most likely it would have happened at 52 or 62 if she had eaten fast food on a regular basis.  My point being that she actually did prolong her life by many, many years by sustaining a lifestyle that was kind and gentle on the body, mind and soul.  My eyes are welling up with tears as I type this because I miss her everyday yet still feel so blessed that I had a such a strong role model that was literally in my life and not just on a record sleeve.








Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Kooks

David Bowie's "Hunky Dory" 1971

David Bowie does not belong to me.  In fact, I never even had the chance to meet him.  Still, upon hearing of his death, seemingly out of the blue and completely unexpectedly, the other night I had a visceral reaction.  I felt as though I had been kicked in the gut and yet strangely numb at the same time.   How can someone who's technically a stranger have such a deep and everlasting impact on my life?  How does one describe or even truly understand an icon of this magnitude?  What is it about David Bowie that speaks so directly to my soul?
     There are those moments in my life when things just clicked.  Moments when all time and space came together in one swirling tornado of feeling and being.  Moments when I was 100% certain that everything would be alright.  One of those moments came from listening to my 1st David Bowie album.  Sure, his music decorated the soundtrack of my youth with his radio hits being the confetti on the cake of my childhood.  Songs like "Let's Dance" and "China Girl" were prolific and, of course, I knew them by heart but I had not yet connected the dots of the mind-blowingly genius timeline of his life.  So, the day I bought a copy of "Hunky Dory" more than a decade after its release and brought it home my life would be forever altered.  The cover alone was enough to make me question everything I had ever heard or seen about gender and sexuality.  I knew I was gay, I knew society deemed this as wrong and I knew that I loved to dress up and look different than the people that walked the streets in my school and hometown.   When I put on this record and heard those gorgeous melodies and poetic verses I realized that I was not the only one who didn't feel like a cookie-cutter mall employee.  I wasn't the only kook out there!
     "Discovering" Bowie is like finding the holy grail of the underground.  It's like tapping into a consciousness that up until that moment I had thought was a solitary and private way of thinking.  Hearing "Hunky Dory" in all it's timeless glory was like opening a giant box full of glittering treasure and sailing away on a magic carpet of color and emotion.  The dull grey existence that I was faced with in upstate NY in the 1980's was suddenly transformed to a flashing rainbow like I had fallen down the rabbit hole and landed in Oz (my blog so I can mix up as many metaphors as I like!).
     In my teenage Moonage Daydream David Bowie was my father.  In many ways I actually learned way more about who and how I wanted to be from Bowie than I did from my actual dad.  My dad was like a roadmap of how I didn't want to be whilst Bowie was a blueprint of a magical life that I could be my own architect of.  He was beyond gender and sexuality and was more like a glorious alien being that could be or become anything he fancied.  Of course, Bowie belongs to the stratosphere.  He belongs to the cosmos and to the universe and, therefore, he is many, many different things to millions of people.  That is part of his absolute wizardry - the godlike chameleon that speaks a different language to each person that listens.
     So far in my life this has been the biggest loss of public persona.  When Elvis died I saw my father cry for the 1st time and it broke my heart.  When John Lennon died I saw my Mom weep for his untimely loss.  I understood at a young age how these larger than life figures can unite and bond people and societies together.  Perhaps that is the ultimate goal of art to break down all barriers and unite people in the process?! All of that being said David Bowie was my personal hero and, luckily, I will have his music to guide and comfort me until my time is up too.