Friday, February 27, 2009

gay porn, i'm comin'!

My prolific posting of late has been a subject of comment.
A gift to the universe, compliments of the recession? Any time you witness a prodigious output like that of the past two months, it's fair to speculate that my multitude of jobs are in a heavy fallow period. In January, i worked three days. Winter months are always leaner, and i wasn't tending my other jobs as closely last month, instead focusing on kickstarting a public speaking career, with these articles and poems.
I buckled down and focused on my other jobs this month...with almost the same net effect. I am in the tightest financial moment of my NY life.
So let the trumpets ring, my career in gay porn may soon be a-bornin'!
A boy's gotta do what a boy's gotta do.
For those of you who have been waiting for that, i'll be generous with free theater passes (do we even have those theaters anymore?).
It occurs to me that i might have some followers out there. Well, i know for a fact that i do, as my dashboard reveals how many people have signed on as "followers" - 2.
I am nothing but grateful to have twice as many as 1.
There are at least a few more who follow silently, so for all of you who enjoy having me around on this existential plane, it occurs to me to say, nowhere are you required to be silent fans. And i'm not talking about telling a friend, i'm talking about alerting the media! Who are you, that a publisher would respond to your urging? Perhaps no one. But at the moment, you have as much pull in the publishing world as i. So send some unsuspecting admissions editor a link to your favorite article!
Do it for the world.
Do it for Uncle Sam.
Do it for Bea Arthur, Don Rickles, and their love child, the governor of Alaska. She may not read mainstream publications, but she reads me.
And while we're on the subject, if anyone's ready for a career change, i'm taking applications for agent/advocate. Frankly, anything to do with business or self-promotion makes my eyes glaze over. The perks will be pretty esoteric the first few months, but i'm sure with your acumen i'll have a weekly column in Tiger Beat in no time.
Do they have Tiger Beat anymore?
They may not.
But they sure do have gay porn.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

unflattering

"Memoirs offer naked honesty, about everyone except the author"
-Dr. Jane Aloysius O'McCorkleschlatt
"Memoirs must have been so much easier in the era of pen and quill...how do keyboard memoirists manage to pat themselves on the back?"
-Fuzzy Houndstooth

I've been puzzling out an article, in the spirit of these quotes. Mind you, i think a healthy amount of egotism is necessary for most good writing. But avoiding the trap of too much self-congratulation, of believing one's own press, is an interesting challenge for celebrated writers and unheralded hacks alike. In that spirit, i've tried to put together an article seen through the eyes of those who have genuinely disliked me. I have tried to recapture the most unflattering situations my life has known. At first, i thought it would be a series of simple "i once was" statements, with no explanation, so i couldn't be accused of trying to "spin" the events. But i realized that it would be unfair to not offer some sort of context on several of these. I wasn't able to come up with as many examples as i thought i might. Is this a testament to how "good" or "loved" i've been? Perhaps. But it might also be a testament to my simple ignorance of the full scope of effects my life has had, or possibly even a testament to the mind's ability to bury unflattering or hurtful memories.
1) I'm 90% sure that i once held a party, and no one came. Literally. I can almost remember sitting there alone, eating the Keebler butter pretzel braids i had bought for the event. They were yummy, so i had that going for me.
2) "that guy who took advantage of me when i was totally drunk"
Yes. I did that, one time in college. There was a freshman girl in my dorm, and one night she stumbled into my room, well and unmistakeably inebriated, and a little sad. Dead sober as always, i invited her to lie down and tell her story. I comforted her, and started putting moves on her. She went along for a bit, then stumbled back out into the hall. It is only a minor solace that i wouldn't have let it go all the way. This is the one time in my life i'm unqualifiedly ashamed of.
3) "i walked into the house and he was totally naked"
While staying at my grandmother's, she had a housekeeper. I had met her before, and had some friendly conversations. One time she came while my grandmother was out, and i was working at the computer in my room. I was naked, and didn't feel like getting dressed. I shouted something to her about "did she mind", and remained naked the whole time she worked. She never came back. Even though i applaud my spirit of challenging fears and repressive taboos, i wish i could offer her an apology.
4) "didn't he stalk a teenager?"
Once in my twenties, i may or may not have made a teenage girl think i was stalking her. I was writing a play about a man who deflects the crush of a teenager, while trying to teach her about intimacy and trust. One friend described it as "a play about not having sex". While i was writing it, i was acting in a show. There was a 16 year-old in the cast who had a huge crush on me. I liked her and was very friendly, even extending to occasional phone conversations. When i finished writing the play, the show had ended. I was so excited to have her read it, i didn't want to wait for the post office. I biked to her house and left a copy of the play in her mailbox, and didn't hear from her again. The year after that i began substitute teaching, and she was in one of my classes. The year after that i lost my teaching position because she had filed a complaint (or a complaint had been filed on her behalf). Not knowing what really happened is the hardest part, but i know that in my own headlong, ill-advised way, i was trying so very hard to be a force of good in the world. This is the only event in my life which has ever given me nightmares.
5) "that creep who asked us to be a homosexual escort"
I acted in a play in New York, and after it ended, a gay friend of mine had to go to some event, and didn't want to go alone. He asked me if i would pretend to be his date, or if i had any actor friends who would be willing to do it as a paid acting job. Knowing how hard it is for an actor to get any sort of paying gig in New York, i e-mailed his offer to a number of the guys i had just done the show with. A couple reacted negatively, being highly offended or asking that i not contact them again. This one gets under my skin, because i think there was more than a little hypocrisy in their response...if it had been a female offering to pay them to pretend to to be a date, how much moral outrage would my erstwhile comrades have shown?
And that's it. What, you thought i'd end the article with a laugh? No no, that would be flattering.

a dream of florida

I've arrived back in Florida, to live again. It's beautiful, sunny, with relaxed people...i'm happy. I've come there with a friend. I can't quite name him, but he has a john lazuresque quality, and wears a floppy cotton hat. We settle into beach bum ways. We realize we have no money, so john decides that we should hire ourselves out for charter fishing trips on my grandfather pop-pop's boat, which i've inherited. He takes off to find clients, while i prepare the boat. He is back in minutes, and tells me that we have a charter right away for a group of giggly young women. I'm not sure the boat is ready. It's winch-lifted, near the dock. I examine the wicker plant baskets in recessed shelves all around the outside of the boat, and realize that they will of course fall into the water. I remove them pell mell. John grabs me, and takes me to a car to get the women, who are inland. We return with them, and i ask them for a little more time. They're happy to oblige. I realize we don't have bait, or gas, or food, or a million other things. The cabin is piled with clutter, and i start to clean it out. John has done one piece of work, clearing out a space near the cabin window for the one girl who doesn't want to fish, and will be nude sunbathing instead. He has set down a possibly dingy towel for her to lie on. I realize we could never prepare in time, and tell the women we must postpone. They are splashing in the water nearby, and don't mind. Off the edge of the dock there's a fish chain hanging, with clasps to string through the mouths and gills. I realize we need one, but i think this one belongs to someone else. I pull it up, and there's one live sheephead fish attached. I realize i hate killing fish, and what the hell was john thinking?! I decide that we can make a little money by taking the young women out for a late afternoon pleasure cruise. They love the idea, and i lower the boat into the water. I realize we're still unprepared, as we have no charts or lights. I scramble to get lights, and we're off. We soon return, and the women have had a lovely time. They jump into the water again, to play. I wander to the next dock, which has a house built in. Inside, my cousin steve is sitting in a huge easy chair, holding his baby grandson. I hold the child, and clumsily bump his head into the ankle of steve's leather boot. I hand the baby back, who starts to look distressed. A woman nearby says he'll throw up, and i hopefully say he won't. He starts to throw up on steve's collar, and someone cleans it up. I walk to the open garage door, and look out on the people in the street. Amanda parke appears, with a few friends. She is happy, and happy to see me. She and her friends disappear around the building. Her mother appears, and is also very happy to see me. I sit down, and she pours a bottle of vodka over my head. I can come up with no logical reason for why she shouldn't, so i accept the situation.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

my life expectancy

A curious and obscure factor in understanding my outlook on life, is my thoughts on my own life expectancy. A reasonable gauge of your likely lifespan is an examination of the relative who resembles you most, who died of natural causes. For me, this is my paternal grandfather Morty. No other male relative i've known has had a body type like my own...about 5'10", 140 pounds. Our only notable physical difference is that he had no ass. Spiritually, he and i had a similar sense of youthful fun. Morty didn't die of natural causes, though. Starting around the age of twelve, he smoked everyday for 68 years, as much as three packs a day. When he was eighty, his doctor told him he had emphysema. He never smoked again, and lived to ninety before the disease killed him. Aside from his lungs, he was in fine shape when he died, so if you take away the smoking there's no reason to think he wouldn't have sailed past the century mark.
Long before i thought about this comparison, i had the intuition that i would live for an extremely long time. I've always been conspicuously youngish for my age. My mental activity has always been varied and active, my physical activity has always been high, and my eating habits, while not the best in the world, are probably in the top 5%. (well, that macro-organic shit is a little out of my budget, and i do love the occasional Funyun). Add to all that the Morty factor, plus possible medical improvements down the road...and let's just say that i clearly remember the first time i read the age of the oldest undocumented human ever, a Civil War vet who lived to 136. Inside my reaction was yeah, i can knock that off.
I can't be 100% sure that somewhere in this equation the fear of death doesn't figure in. But mostly, i'm just happily enthusiastic at the prospect of laughing and creating and loving until 140 or so. This has always been one small factor in my Peter Pan outlook.
I'm looking forward to middle age, which should come rolling through sometime around 2040.

"The Secret"

-by Rhonda Byrne
2006
The secret? Somebody is making boatloads of money. Shhh, don't tell.
No, i do have some nice things to say about "The Secret". I didn't read the book, but i saw half the video, and it's possible they're on to something. That said, the whiff of crass consumerism is pretty inescapable. Plus there seems to be a hole in their premise - their ideas of personal empowerment could only be purely effective in a world where just one person lived. If our thoughts are a part of some greater unseen world-shaping energy, then it is the collective thoughts of humanity (and other life forms) which is the key to greater understanding and empowerment. Individual thoughts are contrary and chaotic...you may wish for that dream house, but factor in the thoughts of any number of individuals who may have an entirely different fate in mind for that house...or a different fate for you.
Now aren't you sorry you've neglected Aunt Gertie these past nine years?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

capitalism recession

Capitalism is darwinian. Those with successful ideas receive security and luxury. Because capitalism gives no reward to the failed idea, its constituents are driven by self-interest. Try as we may to be good to others, such sentiment is inherently contrary to the interests of capitalism. And long-term interests, the betterment of our world for our children and their children, these things have no meaning to capitalism at all. At the quivering, deepest core of every human who grew up in a capitalistic society, one lesson is embedded: "take care of yourself, no one else will".
Is it any wonder that the single emotion which dominates our lives more than any other is fear? Is it any wonder so many of us embrace drugs or god?
I don't know whether the human race might one day evolve enough to sustain a healthy kind of capitalism. I don't know whether that idea is a contradiction in terms.
But at this point in history, when we are barbarians dripping in the muck from which life sprang, capitalism creates technological wonders and soulless people. It creates people who will lie to get ahead. It creates people who will cut corners if they can get away with it. It creates people who will take food off a child's plate, if they don't have to do it themselves.
And now, due to the short-sighted thinking which is capitalism's birthright, we are in a financial recession.
I am not so heartless as to stand up and clap.
But i will stand up.
Even if we experience a depression, we still won't be able to truly understand the way the vast majority of the world has perceived our wealth and arrogance. But here at home, hard times might begin to heal some of our society's woes. For generations, the American standard of life has been centered on the single-family unit. As a nation of consumers, capitalism is best served by two-parent domestic partnerships, with 2.5 kids in 3.0 beds, 1.5 cars in the garage, all under 1 glorious, mortgaged roof.
But it wasn't always so. Ask the generation that's currently dying of old age, some of them still have memories of a less isolated way of life.
And this single-family monomania has torn the very fabric of our society.
Many people focus on the women's liberation movement as the arrow in the heart of our matrimonial institution. That's handy, and it's also misogynistic crap. Outside of L.A. and New York, no woman on her wedding day imagines it ending in divorce.
So who points the finger at capitalism?
Two parents, cut off from the world, solely responsible for raising as many as five or six little human beings. Two parents in a cushioned cage, with almost no reprieve from the need machine that is a child. Who could ever be surprised that two adult souls might grow weary of one another after years or decades of isolation, no matter how much love? And is it too obvious to say that the self-interest capitalism instills in us is almost diametrically opposed to the selflessness required of every parent? To restrict all of a child's nurturing to the patience and wisdom of just two humans...as Carlin might have said, think of how patient the average person is, then realize that half the people are less patient than that.
And have there ever been two groups of people who need each other more than young people and old people? Yet in a mobile capitalist society, children see their grandparents as little as once a year. Suppose one of your children simply doesn't mesh well with you or your mate, but feels open and understood in the company of their favorite uncle? Our children are not little versions of us, no matter how much they look like it. If you think genetics guarantee compatibility, you're probably adopted.
So a recession might be healthy for our society, if the pressures force us to live less apart. If your father-in-law or nutty sister moved in with you. You'd still be a long way from eight to a room, but if we moved a little closer, might we all become better human beings?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

24 random things about me

1) I've experienced earthquake, electrocution, hurricane, flood, blizzard, tornado, close lightning strike, and active volcano.
2) I missed being attacked by a shark, by inches.
3) I have one rounded ear, and one pointed.
4) I was in the first group of foreigners allowed into China after the Tiananmen Square uprisings.
5) I relate well to most people because i've been the youngest child, middle child, and oldest son.
6) I've been bald, and had hair down to my mid-back.
7) William Shatner thanked me.
8) I've been paid to be naked in public, and i've done it for free.
9) I've had a yeast infection.
10) I've played both Oscar and Felix.
11) I've been investigated.
12) I've had a number of sexual relationships in which she came, and i didn't.
13) I have an arachnoid brain cyst.
14) Thinking too deeply about infinity or death makes my brain shut down.
15) I once masturbated for three straight hours.
16) I once played volleyball for eight (but nobody questions whether i'm volley-obsessed).
17) I was born with a pebble-sized bump on my head.
18) Some people think i'm the most gentle, diplomatic person they've ever met. Some think i'm inappropriate and tactless. They're all right.
19) The only thing i fear is death.
20) The only thing i'm conflicted about is having children.
21) I grew up with a messiah complex.
22) Favorite smell? Baby.
23) I am content to die unknown or have my words affect trillions.
24) The only man i've ever met who was less likely to find a mate was a drug addict with personality disorders. You may laugh, that's pretty funny.

A Dog Named Pete

Chapter 11: "The Call of the Wild"
The most beloved pet of my life was a miniature schnauzer named Pete. His partner for many years was Rosie, a typical schnauzer - endlessly high strung. But Baron von Pete Rose somehow missed out on the schnauzer yippy gene. He was one of the most mellow and gentle souls i ever had the pleasure to know. The greatest adventure of Pete's life will always remain a mystery to those of us who loved him. We only know how it started, and how it ended.
My Mom lived for a few years in a house by Five Mile Woods County Park. Pete was never the kind of dog to run off, so one night my step-father Chuck let him out, and forgot about him. A thunderstorm hit. Pete, like most dogs, was a little scared of thunderstorms. When Chuck remembered, he went out back, and called and called.
Pete was gone.
Mom and Chuck spent hours searching for him and putting up signs over the next few days. By the time i got home from college the following weekend, Mom was in misery. On Friday night, sad as i was myself, i did my best to comfort her. On Saturday night a restlessness grew in me, and i drove alone to the park, to search one more time. I knew it was perhaps no more than a gesture, as it had been seven days. But i went. Instead of searching near the house, i went to the far opposite end of the park. I left my car, and started walking the long, lonely road that bordered the woods. There were street lights every forty feet or so. I walked and called..."Pe-terr! Pee-terrr!!" Walked and called. Walked and called. Woods are quiet at night, and the echoes of my own voice were my only company. I finally came to where the road curved away from the park. I stopped, and gave one last long shout. I stood there. After a minute or three, my feet turned back toward the car.
And i heard a sound.
I looked back, to the edge of the wood. Forty feet away, something was rustling in the tall grass. A little creature slowly emerged into the sickly yellow light. If you had taken a photograph, i never would have recognized him, not in a million years. But instantly, i knew who it was.
Pete.
He looked around. I shouted his name, and he looked toward me. I walked, then ran. As i got to him, he looked up as if to say, "I knew you'd come." I wrapped him in my arms, and held him close as i hurried back to the car. I got to my Mom's house, and carried him to the front door. When she opened it...the look on her face is one i'll not forget in a million years. Her eyes watered and she fell apart.
Pete was tired and smelled terrible, just fishy and awful. No longer schnauzer grey, he was thouroughly muck-brown. His hair was matted with barbs and stickers. We bathed him, and removed no less than thirty-five ticks. If i had to guess, i'd say that my Mom didn't leave Pete's side for even one moment the whole rest of that night.
Later on, we speculated about his adventure. Where he went, what he ate...all we could be certain of was that no one had taken him in. If i'd been a painter, i'd have painted him standing proudly by a stream, a fish wriggling in his mouth.
I'll always love a dog named Pete.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

hang glider dream

I dreamt last night that i was at the top of a mile-high South American cliff, strapped into a six-person hang glider with my friend john lazur, brothers dave, jeff, and john, and some young woman. The glider was made of a small amount of thick green canvas, with no poles, and we were like ducks, not side by side. We looked out over an enormous bay, perhaps by a small city. There were boats and other signs of humanity. We ran and lept out. Lazur was in the lead position. We plummeted rapidly. I shouted to john something about finding air currents, but he was thoroughly nonchalant. Our descent took a long time because of our height, but it was essentially a freefall. In no position to do anything, i relaxed. Then zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzWHAP!!! We smacked the green water with such force, i wondered whether there were fatalities. In short order, lazur and the woman and john and i bobbed up. I dove for jeff and dave. I found them buried headfirst in the mucky bottom, up to their waists, their legs looking like the handles of post hole diggers. I pulled dave out, and pushed him up. I pulled jeff out, and surfaced with him. I looked around, and there was no dave. I dove back, and found him, unconscious and unmoving. I pulled him to the surface. After a minute or two, he came round.