Tuesday, August 18, 2009

michael

When Michael Jackson died, i thought i might write a lengthy article. But as the weeks unfolded, it seemed less necessary. I had thought that the questions raised about his character over the previous decade might create apathy to his death, but with the unabashed global love that cascaded out, my article didn't seem required. Over the past decade, i stood by Michael. If his music was great before he went on trial, i couldn't be so hypocritical as to say it suddenly wasn't. I try to judge the message, not the messenger (though i don't claim sainthood in this regard...i don't think i'll ever warm up to Sinatra since the mob ties came out). In some ways, Michael's trials made me identify with him even more. I'm no stranger to choices that some find questionable, or even despicable. In trying to live a life of freedom and beauty, you can open yourself to being misunderstood. Though i stood by him, there was also the feeling of spiritually holding one's breath and waiting for the storm to pass. It was hard, from INVINCIBLE on, for any of us to appreciate his music in a pure way. But go back to his lyrics. I wasn't able to appreciate it at the time, but he absolutely answered every charge leveled against him. How brave and hurtful might that have been? Did he love children, cherish them, and celebrate them like few ever? Yup. In no small part because of his own lost childhood. Once, my boss told me to no longer let kids sit on my lap at work. I obeyed, but not 100%. Only to a hair splitter is that different from sleeping with a child. Michael's last decade may have been a crucible of the type written about in Don McLean's "Vincent". Look at the lyrics to the song "Is It Scary", and then ask who among us didn't crucify him? Two separate criminal investigations of STAGGERING proportions, including the largest non-homicide police raid ever, found Michael innocent of any wrongdoing.
More than a century after the Civil War, no black musicians were being aired on MTV. Then came Michael. Earlier black artists saw money and fame go to white copycat acts, but Michael found his way to a realm reached only by a boy from Tupelo, and some lads from Liverpool.
His music and spirit brought joy to billions.
Here then, his greatest songs! I've not explored every crack and crevice of his output, but only a hardcore fan will recognize all of these.
1) Billie Jean
2) Rock With You
3) The Way You Make Me Feel
4) Thriller
5) Earth Song
6) Say Say Say
7) Can You Feel It
8) The Girl is Mine
9) Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
10) I Want You Back
11) Human Nature
12) Leave Me Alone
13) The Lady in my Life
14) Man in the Mirror
15) Beat It
16) Scream
17) Somebody's Watching Me
18) Who is It
19) Torture
20) Be Not Always
21) We Are the World
22) Remember the Time
23) Heartbreak Hotel
24) I Just Can't Stop Loving You
Now and evermore, Michael...thank you.
Postscript:
I just watched a 1993 Michael concert in Bucharest. I cried off and on throughout. Why? Maybe the shared catharsis of a teeming multitude of fans screaming and crying, many of them passing out. Maybe because of the tragedy of Michael's life...to see him as such a beacon of love and hope for a better tomorrow, then think about the pariah he became. Being known as the worst kind of monster with those he cared about most...how could that even have been liveable? It makes me ponder the possibility that he staged his death. If anyone ever had the resources and motivation, it was him. To free the world of the horror his life had become...certainly he was blessed with no shortage of imagination, and a flair for drama. If so, then the aftermath, the rebirth of love for him, was probably more than even he could have imagined. And he's left to live out his life...where? On an island, recording music that will only be released after his actual death? Perhaps keeping his hand in some goodly creativity, anonymously?
Post postscript:
It's funny how our attitudes shape how we experience something like a song...we may think a certain song simply doesn't appeal to us, but almost always our likes and dislikes are irresistably shaped by societal forces...what's hip, what's not, who will like us if we like this or don't like that...such nonsense, and if you know anyone who's free of that, i'd like to meet them. I'm even a little ashamed of my own reaction to the songs on INVINCIBLE. When i first heard them, they seemed empty and forced. But after repeated (and repeated and repeated) exposure to several of those tracks on an anthology, "Unbreakable", "You Rock My World", and "Butterflies" rank with the best he ever did.
P.P.P.S.
It occurs to me that i might come off as a bit of a Kool-Aid drinking, "St. Michael" sychophant, so i'll also add that he did record songs that were rather dreadfully unlistenable, notably "Speed Demon", "Smooth Criminal", and "Come Together". And why the macho obsession? Dangerous, Bad, Invincible? Calling it compensation seems obvious. The spirit of rebelliousness is fine and good, and perhaps he was thought that if he didn't posture and pay homage to testosterone bullshit, he might have been dismissed as a lightweight, but it was hard to reconcile it all with the peace and love that was the best part of his spirit.

trek/wars?

There are those out there who are fans of neither STAR TREK nor STAR WARS, unaware that in the occasionally rabid worlds these two groups represent, there is often a sense of disdain for the other camp. An outsider might assume they'd be lovey dovey, but they've been known to greet each other with suspicion, if not outright condescension. Even among the less rabid, there can be an expectation of being loyal to one, but not both. This is somewhat natural...many deep passions come with a sense of pride and privilege at appreciating something others don't "get". But to have one's passion lumped together with a similar entity can be irksome and belittling. It's like telling a friend about your adoration of MONTY PYTHON, then receiving from them a BENNY HILL gift set. Even if you like both, you suddenly wonder whether you've befriended a simpleton.
I've long been aware of the particularly delineated schism between TREK and SW, because i love both. Oh, i don't speak klingon, and i've never asked a woman to don a princess leia costume, but if you wish to challenge me to a SW or TREK trivia contest, you'd better bring some heat is all i'm saying. Fellow fans quickly recognize my devotion, but sometimes there's a moment of disorientation or betrayal when they realize i love both. Some have even tried to "save" me. In this schism, there's some rationality behind the snobbery. To a SW fan, TREK is geekier, smaller in scope, and simplistic. To a TREK fan, SW lacks vision and intelligence. But i'll take both. Call me a trekker or a trekkie, and i'll answer. Give me SW sheets, and i'll sleep on 'em.
Now, it is not my intention in the following to establish whether one is "better". Even though i occasionally indulge in the "favorites" game, you'll get no such satisfaction out of me on this one. Stormtroopers and phasers on stun, i need 'em both. But let's look at these two worlds, and break down their appeals.
STAR WARS is deeply rooted in mythology. This was no accident, as lucas was an avid reader of joseph campbell. The youth who goes on a transformative adventure...the wizened, magical teacher...throw in a pirate, a fool, a couple other archetypes, and you're off to the races. SW is deeply rooted in the paradigm of "good versus evil", it's unrelentingly violent on both sides of that fence, and it took place a "long time ago".
STAR TREK is an utopian dream, a vision of a human future where war, racism, disease, and hunger are relics of our barbaric past. I never thought of this until just now, but TREK is in many ways a realization of the dream set forth in "Imagine" (never mind that the show predated the song...hmmm, that's a thought, john watching STAR TREK). A future where countries are gone, and all genders and colors live in equality. A future where money is gone...people work for the greater good, and all share in the rewards. A future where religion is gone...superstition, ignorance, and "magic" have faded in the light of knowledge (indeed, this was one of roddenberry's prime directives, that there be no religion in the TREK universe, a mandate that the DS9 writers ignored after he died). TREK is not so steeped in violence. Phasers and blasters both have a stun setting, but how many times can you remember it even being used in SW? There are many episodes of TREK in which no one is killed, or even hurt. The very titles invoke different energies...independent of context, how do the words "war" and "trek" make you feel?
Of course, writing about utopia might quickly become boring. TREK's drama comes through contact with aliens. In them, we see a mirror of the worst parts of our own present-day behavior, as they face off with humanity's utopian ideals. Through them, we view the noble and ignoble parts of ourselves. The struggle of TREK is not "good versus evil", but rather "ignorance versus knowledge".
Hmm. Breaking down these two universes, it suddenly becomes clear why i so like one of them, and that i philosophically prefer it to the other.
Of course, i am in some ways a jedi padawan, as i explore intuition and the possibility of an unseen connective force. So SW doesn't get the entire fuzzy end of that lollipop.
But since i've already given unequal focus, why stop now? I think there's one very specific reason why TREK inspires such devotion. I'm talking particularly about the "get a life" fans. I think that they've seen this vision of our future, and the thought of waiting 200 years is unbearable. They look at the unspeakable cruelty and horror of this world, and say "No, waiting is not an option. We need this now". It's really amazing and beautiful, understood in those terms. All fandom starts out as escapism...and of course many TREK fans simply get off on dressing as a borg, or orion slave girl, or discussing what might happen if riker were kirk's first mate...but with the crews of trekkers all over the world, it's something more noble. Hardcore TREK fans are some of the most charitably-committed people on the planet...it's often written into the very charters of the fictional starships to which they belong.
In summation, i've come up with the perfect way to capture the antipathy between TREK and SW fans. I'm going to invoke an image. If you are a fan of one or both and have a weak stomach, please read no further. Again, an outsider might think this image would be the stuff of fanboy wet dreams. I assure you, it is not. Were you to share this image with certain fans, they'd likely try to bludgeon you. I'm feeling a little violated myself, that i've allowed this image into my brain for the entire time it's taken me to write this.
Imagine a sexy woman in a princess leia slave girl outfit...with vulcan ears.
I may never get a chubby again.

Postscript: It took a few more years, but i finally made the break from STAR WARS for good: http://nakedmeadow.blogspot.com/2016/09/1977-2014.html.

Friday, August 14, 2009

"WALK HARD"

WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY
2007
-directed by Jake Kasdan
What an amazing labor of love. Helmed by Kasdan and Judd Apatow, this mock biopic about a tempestuous music legend (taking inspiration from Johnny Cash and WALK THE LINE) was a commercial failure, and a minor critical hit. It deserved both less and more.
It's a bit of a dud. The theatrical release is, at times, forced. You appreciate the effort, but it falls a good deal short of greatness.
And, it's fucking brilliant. The extended version on the dvd is the only way to see this film. It's brimming with cinematic juiciness. It's an hour longer, but feels shorter. It's like they tried to turn a smorgasbord into a takeout combo, with that theatrical release. The cameos are hilarious (including the voice of Dylan, which most theatergoers missed as they vacated the theater). In a monumental performance, John C. Reilly poured out his brilliance, including playing guitar and singing his own songs. Tim Meadows, as Dewey's drummer, has some of the best lines of the film, and doesn't bungle. The standout performance is Justin Long, as George Harrison.
The special features are dripping with gems that are often funnier than the movie itself. If every movie's creative team had the same level of passion as this one, bad movies would be as rare as good ones.
And the soundtrack...another example of that curious cinematic beast wherein the soundtrack outshines the film. There was a special cd release called BOX OF COX, which i am mightily eager to get my hands on. Cash's style is of course lampooned, and so is Dylan's, the rock psychedelic era, disco, rap...like the music in SPINAL TAP, A MIGHTY WIND, THE RUTLES, and ISHTAR, the music has to be comedically derivative, yet subtly brilliant. You have to treat it dismissively, yet it also has to get under your skin. They delivered the goods. And if the movie doesn't quite scale the peaks that several of the aforementioned did, it sure as hell is a beautiful ride watching them try.
Go grab some Cox.

heather & alana

WOMEN 32
Boy, those freshmen girls do go after upper classmen, don't they? They were best friends from high school. Alana was a theater tech, a little skinny and a bit of a punk-goth. Heather was an actress, taller with straight dark hair, and cute freckles on face and chest. She was into EST. They were funny and fun, so i buddied around with them. They were both attracted to me, but i didn't make any moves. Alana suggested that as a joke, she and i and another girl be together in bed in a room where Heather would walk in on us. We set it up; when Heather walked in, she registered a look of horror, and ran out. I chased after her, but had to go back for my clothes. Alana told me where Heather might run to, that i should drive there, and that she would stay in case Heather returned. I found Heather and picked her up, after much pleading. We sat in the car for an hour or two, and she told me of how in high school she had walked in on her boyfriend and two girls having sex. She cried, i held her…and it was quite an acting exercise. The entire episode was a little joke concocted by the two of them. When i drove Heather back to the dorm, they let me in on it. Cruel, no? Anyway, they told me they both wanted me, and had agreed that whichever one i chose, the other would accept it. Over their protests, i picked neither. I'm not trying to lionize myself; i mean, picking neither felt like the noble and right thing to do, but if i had been aching for one or both of them i might have acted differently. For the record, Alana, i was more spiritually attracted to you, and Heather, i was more physically attracted to you. And, in an unashamed but unproud revelation, if they hadn’t been friends, i think i would have picked Heather.

Marat/Sade

THE PERSECUTION AND ASSASSINATION OF JEAN-PAUL MARAT AS PERFORMED BY THE INMATES OF THE ASYLUM OF CHARENTON UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE MARQUIS DE SADE
THEATER 14
-fall 1986
Did you ever dream about something, and when you get there it's just as fantastic as you dreamed? College. I didn't start out as a theater major, but may as well have. I chose West Chester because of the festival the previous year, and also because as a non-Master's program, i would have a chance to get into mainstage shows as an undergrad. I dove in. Auditions were announced for the fall show, abbreviatedly called MARAT/SADE. When i read it…as the title tells, i was no longer in Kansas. It was a show within a show based on the fact that a popular society event of the post-French Revolution was attending asylum plays. Sade was an inmate who wrote such shows. History has lost those plays, but this play is a "what might have been". I knew that as a freshman my chances of being cast were slim. The auditions were so much fun, and i got cast, not just as an inmate or guard, but as Cucurucu, one of the five singers. There were three or four other freshmen, but none with a part so large. There were a huge number of songs. I was amazed and happy beyond words, the feeling upon being cast was like that of JOSEPH. It was directed by Bob Bytnar, a bearded and balding energetic man of intelligence and talent. The show was a scathing indictment of corruption, cronyism, oppression, the rich...it had been huge in the 60s. The inner "play" consisted of brilliant, angry, drippingly sarcastic songs, interspersed with conversations between Sade and the inmate playing Marat. It all culminated in Marat's murder, at which point the inmates rise up and kill the guards and nobles. Incredible. Senior John Riddell played Sade. He was great. Senior John Biehle played Marat, and his unbalanced rantings were beautiful. Colleen Corbett, a junior transfer, played Marat's nurse, and the cast gave her a plastic faceguard, as Biehle spit when he got worked up. Senior Cheryl Graef played the murderous Charlotte Corday, and she was incredible. Mark Taylor played DuPerret, and his inmate "problem" was perpetual tumescence; he had a falsie in his pants, and he would constantly try to hump Corday while doing their scenes. Troy Wenger played Coulmier, the asylum manager. Lou Peters was frightening as the insane, straightjacketed priest, and Greg Longenhagen played the narrator with delicious glee. Of note as inmates were freshman Mark Schnovel, senior Cat Hasson, freshman Jeff Bleam, Karen Paxson, and a senior named Vince who shaved his head. Fellow singer Glenn Subers, a stiff lounge singer type, was great. Senior Traci Seschion, huge in talent and personality, also. Singers Duane McDevitt and Kirsta Stull were wonderful. The five of us had so much fun. We wore clown makeup. My costume was a revolutionary hat with a tall flower, slippers, and a big burlap sack (which some called a dress). I became known as "Wish We Could", a line of mine that would be mimicked for years to come. The other most-mimicked line was Biehle's "Wrong, Sade, wrong". The set by Wayne Merritt was intricate and incredible. Our main stage was a black box that had once been a school gymnasium. That semester, we built two huge lighting and sound towers, with connecting tunnels. By this point my fear of heights was gone, and i was one of the eager few to swing through the flies. MARAT/SADE was amazing…words kind of fail…it was the second play in my life that felt like it had no business being as good as it was. Metal bars separated us from the audience, and at the end we reached through, trying to get to them. Our depictions were so unnerving that many were terrified. The play was selected for the American College Theater Festival regionals in Ithaca, New York, an incredible experience highlighted by an all-deaf production of MACBETH. Our show took three of the four major awards, and was one of five selected nation-wide to go to nationals at the Kennedy Center in D.C. But the department's budget was empty. Very few seemed to mind terribly. Doing the show anywhere and anyhow, even once, was its own incredible reward.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

birtles shorrock goble

GREATEST BAND YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF, 2009
There's a band out there you don't know from Adam. Except you do. If you saw their syllable-rich name on a marquee, you'd probably walk by. But theirs is a strange kind of obscurity, responsible as they are for 25 million albums sold. How can an obscure band with a shyster law firm name be responsible for that kind of musical history? In 1975, Australians Glenn Shorrock, Graeham Goble, and Beeb Birtles were the founding singer/songwriters of the Little River Band. Over the next seven years, they had thirteen top 40 hits, including "It's a Long Way There", "Lady", "The Night Owls", "Lonesome Loser", "Take It Easy On Me", and "Reminiscing", one of my (and John Lennon's) favorite songs. In 1982, Shorrock wanted to explore other musical directions, so the band sacked him. In 1983 Birtles, also unhappy with the band's musical direction and feeling estranged because of his christian fundamentalism, quit. Goble, who preferred studio creativity to the road, quit in 1989 when the band no longer had a recording contract. As he was leaving, Shorrock returned and stayed until 1995, when he left again. Throughout it all though, replacements in the six-member lineup kept coming and coming, and that's where it gets bizarre. There's still a version of the band touring, yet they're little more than a tribute band, and a bad one, at that. But because of legal nonsense, they retain the rights to the name. The original layered harmonies and rich vocals have morphed into a "progressive rock" sound. I had the misfortune to hear them in concert once. There have been no fewer than thirty-five, count 'em, thirty-five members in and out of the lineup. A mercy killing is long past due. Particularly because the real thing is actually out there now.
In 2002, Glenn, Beeb, and Graeham reconciled. Unable to use the name they made famous, they hit the stage.
And the results are majestic.
They sound better than they did in their heyday. They have a concert disc out, FULL CIRCLE. There are a handful of tracks that are a bit boring, but mostly it's a gem. Especially stunning is the obscure "Mistress of Mine", with an amazing prelude in A minor by guitarist Simon Hosford. If you aren't familiar with their old songs, get an anthology, then come hear how they sound twenty years on. I have the CD. The DVD has twelve additional tracks. They don't seem to be touring outside of Australia and New Zealand, so if you have a Learjet, let's go hear a show.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

annie

WOMEN 78
Strap yourselves in for a tale of two people trying (and in many ways succeeding) to love each other, in a society not really designed for such.
I met Annie in a most bizarre way. I had long been a participant in the craigslist online personals world. I frequented the W4M romance section, and would sometimes browse the casual encounters section if i was feeling the need to tap into rawness, or the ridiculousness of this vale of tears. "Casual encounters" is a strange world. A small percentage of the ads are actually genuine, which is fascinating. Once in a while i would send off a silly response, never for a moment expecting to meet anyone.
But that's where we met.
She'd probably hate that i'm mentioning that right up front...but hopefully, she'd expect no less of me.
Her ad said she'd never had anal sex. Wheee! I answered, saying i was similarly inexperienced. After a few days of letters, i began to suspect that she was real. After a few weeks, we met, and began a long romance (though humorously, anal play hardly played a part...i kissed her hiney hole once, and she said it felt more funny than sexy). At first, i was a tiny bit disappointed she wasn't more exotic. She was of indian descent, and i had long been curious about cross-cultural intimacy. She was, however, a born and bred Brooklyn chick (complete with fun accent). It was months before i came around to mentioning that initial disappointment. I don't know whether it hurt her a bit, or she shrugged it off as another example of my idiocy.
It wasn't a huge crush, but i was attracted. She was fun, intelligent, a bit jaded, and very giving. After a rough romance that year, i told her i needed something very simple and true, or i'd probably run. It did end up being complicated, but anything else is almost always a fool's dream.
She smoked, which tasted yucky, and was a bit out of shape. But we had delightful points of compatibility. She seemed to really understand and envy my free spirit. She worked for a law firm, and though she didn't hate her job, she secretly longed to be among those laid off, so she could take her severance and wander the country. We loved much of the same music and shows, especially Sting and STAR TREK. A lover who loves TREK?? Sigh. Many's the episode we shared together. I miss that part of us so much.
Perhaps our greatest compatibility was our semi-hermit inclinations. In general, i preferred writing to social interactions which possess any hint of shallowness or wasted time. I met some of her family, with whom she was close. She had friends, but after years on the social scene (drinking), she was pretty well done with it. We fell into a routine where we got together each weekend, for a day or more. I would have preferred one more intimate time per week, but her work hours were long. We holed up, usually at my place, listening to music and making love and eating and watching shows and sleeping and making love...
She occasionally had trouble with my online openness about us, but mostly our easygoing ways meshed. I was comfortable offering her monogamy. I knew from the start that i was attracted to other women, whereas she eventually wanted no one but me. That imbalance was central in our eventual breakup. We only had direct trouble once, when i spent a weekend with a friend for whom i had been an enormous part of her emotional growth - i was the first man she was able to talk with about her childhood sexual abuse, and express feelings of attraction for. That weekend, it felt like it was a part of her healing to finally express physical love with me. For Annie's sake, i stopped short of intercourse, but unhappiness resulted nonetheless. Annie and i had said we'd tell each other if we wanted to be with someone else, so it was the first time in my life i've been "unfaithful". I was proud of who i'd been, though. We seldom get a chance to heal or help another human deeply. I even hoped that Annie might be proud (yay sisterhood?), and understand there was no threat to her. We talked about the cinderella complex, which she did reject in many ways, but i couldn't help thinking that there were parts of it still holding her back. I understood her pain, though...i knew from personal experience that it wasn't easy rising above jealousy and possessiveness. At times monogamy feels perfectly natural, but most times it feels like the most destructive, unnatural thing ever invented.
Our sexuality was wonderful and troublesome, mostly wonderful. We'd both lived low-risk sex lives, so we didn't use protection. Neglecting birth control was perhaps reckless, but i knew that as a taoist i wasn't going to ejaculate. We created some of the most beautiful sexual memories of my life. We had long penetrations, sometimes over an hour. Once, we had the most intoxicating, extended, sweaty sex you could imagine, our bodies just awash, slipping and moving together almost in slow motion. It lasted perhaps three hours. We also did doggie style for the first time in my life. Another time, while she was having her period, she came simply from kisses and embraces, fully clothed. That had never happened to her before.
She was devoted orally. I didn't reciprocate much. She'd said that it usually didn't do much for her, and early on, i got a little mouth yeast infection, which i knocked out with antibiotic ointment. After that, she seemed content without direct oral. I may never know whether our communication was lacking there, or whether our non-verbal communication was working fine. Physically, we didn't "fit" as perfectly as i'd like. Her vagina seemed lower than others. One of my favorite sexual motions is gliding my penis up and down between the lips without penetration, but i never got that going with her. At one point, she hinted that i was the best lover of her life. I was touched, but a part of me disowned it, on two levels. Emotionally, though i loved her, my wounded headspace kept me from ever being 100% in the moment. And sexually, i felt i hadn't been my best. I found it unusually hard to not ejaculate, so i was always slowing down our penetrative movements, even when she was on top. And more perplexing, my erections were unreliable - there were times when my stiffy simply wasn't there. This became even more troubling during my "unfaithful" weekend, when my erections were vibrant and unfailing. As devoted as i am to honesty, i never told Annie that detail...it just felt like it could create any number of negative energies and walls, with no resolve.
Or maybe that was just one level of hurtful truth beyond what even i was capable of.
She was always adamant that once she and a man break up, there's no going back. That made me sad, as i knew she and i probably wouldn't last if she fell in love. We talked about it, and i always wished she'd been open to re-exploring with me down the road, when i was in a better place of balance.
She knew she never wanted children. In one of my possible paths, this made her and i alike. But she was also realizing that she very much wanted a life partner. This was one of the spikes that eventually divided us...and if you ask me why, i might discredit the very premise your question is based upon. In any event, my headspace was so wounded that living in the moment was even more imperative than usual.
Another spike between us was her hair. When she dyed her grey temple patches a few months after we met, i wanted to curl up and die. I'd thought they were charming, and even made a few good-natured jokes about them. It fills me with mortification to think that my jokes affected her the wrong way. She said that my ribbing was one of several pressures which had compelled her decision. Understand, there are few issues that resonate in me greater than our society's horrific, self-loathing attitude on aging. She didn't understand how the button she pressed in my spirit was almost beyond measure. I mean, it wasn't so bad that it was all i could think about...but the wound ran deep.
Toward the end of our time, there was also a herpes episode that muddied the reasons we were breaking up. The confusion arose because of my ignorance. Early on, she had mentioned that she got cold sores. I simply hadn't known that all cold sores were herpes. Months later, she threw out the word herpes, and my brain did a double take. I spent the next week educating myself about viral streaming and such. She hadn't had an outbreak in years, so the chances she passed it on to me are almost nil. Still, the timing couldn't have been worse, coming in the midst of a gradual breakup. It did make it a tiny bit easier for me to say, "Let's not torture ourselves any more", but i had trouble getting the message through that herpes wasn't part of the reason we were breaking up.
One of our most beautiful moments came on our last night. We had agreed that our romance was over. It was late, so she stayed. She told me that one of the things she had always wanted to do was hold me while i masturbated. She asked whether we could do that. I was happy to oblige. After some minutes, she suddenly moved from my side, mumbling "I want to sit on you". She did so, quickly took me into her, and we made love. Her behavior was inconsiderate...but for some hazy, primal reason, i loved her for it. I also was happy to rib her the next day, over her semi-articulate choice of words.
After the breakup, i was torn between giving her space and missing her. I would call or write, usually unanswered. Once i showed up at her door unannounced, to hug her and tell her i love her. Another time, she basically urged me to ignore her "go-away" sentiments.
In trying to be with other women since, i'm reminded of how nice we had it. I told her once that if she showed up at my door, i might quickly give in to carnal healing. For a year after we broke up, i didn't browse a single romance ad. She was my best friend for over half a year, and now she's gone, like she was never there...because our society has no clue how to deal with sexuality and intimacy.
Like she was never there.
I miss her.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

imagine bein' green

It has been said that songs are the poetry of our times. With the advent of radio, recorded music became available to the mass of humanity like never before. Poetry still lives, but the words which resonate most in the collective conscious are lyrics. While this is faintly troublesome at times ("gotta blame it on somethin', blame it on the rain..."), poetry itself is by no means dead. Sometimes it's even alive and well in a song. For myself, two songs stand above all others. When i heard "Bein' Green" as a child, i felt for the first time that i might not be alone in the world...

It's not easy bein' green
Having to spend each day
The color of the leaves
When I think it could be nicer
Bein' red or yellow or gold
Or something much more colorful like that
It's not easy bein' green
It seems you blend in
With so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over
'Cause you're not standing out
Like flashy sparkles on the water
Or stars in the sky
But green's the color of spring
And green can be cool and friendly like
And green can be big like a mountain
Or important like a river or tall like a tree
When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why
But, why wonder, why wonder?
I'm green and it'll do fine
It's beautiful and I think it's what I want to be

And "Imagine", which i heard as a teen, still perhaps comes closer to being an anthem of my life than anything, including my own words.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Thank you jim, joe, and john. No other songs have ever nestled into my spirit so securely.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

amy, leslie, stacy, karen

(It sounds like i was identifying women on the basis of looks, doesn't it? Because of the psychological baggage this society heaps on romance, and the fact that we're predominantly visual creatures, i absolutely was. I mean, i was getting to be around a naked woman, which was [and still is, in some ways] unprecedented, so it made an impression. But even if i am a shallow retard, i'm in touch with my retardation. Plus, these relationships didn't have much else to write about, so the physical endured.)
WOMEN 28-31
Amy
She gets the dubious distinction of being the final kissing partner to be recollected during the first draft of this memoir, the jolting memory coming two days after i had "finished" the project (sorry Amy; that honor plus a nickel won't get you six cents). She was a college theater tech, a few years younger. Very nice and fun, i sometimes called her "Smith". She had high hips, long legs, and was non-petitely statuesque. We hooked up for a couple weeks early in my senior year. I think she wanted to go all the way, and though on a sexual level i'd have been happy to, i backed out, knowing i didn't feel as strongly emotionally.
Leslie
A forensics competitor from Penn State i hooked up with during a college tournament. We spent a night in her hotel room, just kissing and being naked. She had a very solidly handsome body, with wonderful breasts. I think i wrote, but never heard back.
Stacy
A college actress a few years younger, with fair skin and short, dark curly hair. She was sweet, bright, and pretty, with a non-athletic but nice body. We were almost the romantic leads of the first underground production at WCU, a dream of my roommate Shawn's, to put on invite-only plays in the basement of an abandoned YMCA. We got the scripts, but it didn't happen. I hadn't paid much attention to Stacy at first, but i became aware of her attraction to me. I was a little put off because she might have hooked up with Shawn. I have a hazy (and at the time surprisingly beautiful) sexual memory of her…it was either a massage i gave her, or a massage and hooking up. I'm sure we would have pursued it, but the school year ended.
Karen
A freshman actress during my fifth year. Sweet, quite "girly", skinny and pretty. Deb, one of my ex-housemates, tried to set us up. Karen really liked me. I spent some time with her, went to bed with her. We kissed, partially disrobed…and i excused myself. Wanting sex wasn't a good enough reason.