Saturday, June 27, 2015

June 26, 2015


When I first saw the above shot of the United States White House, I thought it was something that had been Photoshopped. But it was real and true. I've had goosebumps for the past 2 days every time I've thought about the Supreme Court decision acknowledging the right of gay people to marry.

As Bravo host Andy Cohen (born in 1968, me in 1965) tweeted along with the above picture: "I wish I could tell my scared teenaged self that this day would come!!! I never would've believed it!!!"
 
I'm about to turn 50, and my whole sexual life has pretty much been one of shame and/or denial. My first love in high school, I would have taken to prom had "such things" been permitted in 1983. Because I was not allowed to express such feelings back then, I repressed them. Said feelings first got channeled into movie stars (like Joan Crawford).

When I finally got brave enough to go out to gay bars in an effort to actually realize my sexuality, my first lover turned out to be an ex-con and dominatrix. Really. And that kind of harsh introduction to sex for a virgin was not necessary in the least. It was what was available to me at the time (1989), but it was a shitty introduction.

In the early '80s, gay kids didn't get much of a choice. There was complete denial while in high school. And then the predators once we first made it to a big city. Most of us missed the innocence of prom.

Thank god for this Supreme Court decision. May today's gay teens grow up feeling confident in who they love. May they be able to be sweet together as young people. May they avoid the predators and sociopaths who have warped me.
 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Which lives matter?

 
Which lives matter? Below are two statues on the University of Texas at Austin campus: Of Jefferson Davis and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jefferson Davis was the President of the Confederate States of America. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a United States civil rights leader.

Neither have much to do with Texas... Oh, wait. Texas was once part of the Confederacy.

It's apparently OK to deface one of these statues. What if, on the other hand, someone had spray-painted the MLK statue?

When I saw the "Black Lives Matter" graffiti, I immediately wished someone had spray-painted an accompanying addendum: "If black lives matter so much, why do your own young black men keep shooting each other? Let's see the stats last year of black men killed by black men versus black men killed by 'Evil White Folk.'"

 
 
 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rebel Yell



I'm amazed and disturbed not only by today's decision by eBay and Amazon to stop selling images of the Confederate flag, but also by most of the media's editorial comment following. A prime example: "Yes, You're a Racist -- And a Traitor," which appeared today on the Huffington Post website (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-e-price/yes-youre-a-racist----and-a-traitor_b_7640654.html).

The first "argument" the author of the article made:

"In America today, the most prominent, prevalent and pernicious of these revisionist movements is the Lost Cause narrative: the idea that the Civil War was a romantic struggle for freedom against an oppressive government trying to enforce cultural change. There are scores of books on this topic, and you should check those out at your local library. But probably the most famous popular culture Lost Cause text is Gone With The Wind (both book and movie).

I hate Gone With the Wind. I hate everything about it. I hate its portrayal of the Civil War. I hate its portrayal of Southern aristocrats. I hate its popularity. I hate that it's become an i
conic movie. I hate that it was ever made in the first place."

The writer (I'm guessing he's a 19-year-old intern) goes on to dismiss facts such as that the Civil War might have been, from the agrarian Southern States' point of view, more about economics and states' rights than about any "hatred" of the race they'd enslaved for corrupt economic purposes. Ken Burns' Civil War epic on PBS included a quote from a Confederate private captured by the Union; when his interrogators asked him why in the world he was fighting --- he was poor, only the rich owned slaves --- he responded: "Because y'all are down here."

This particular ignorant writer also dismisses the fact that the original 13 colonies of the United States very much included Southern states -- Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Virginia, which would all secede from the United States (i.e., the Federal government) at the outset of the Civil War. Not because they were "traitors" but because they felt their rights to govern themselves were being usurped -- a principle very dear to the founders of our country and Constitution, who had all-too-recently just argued over and fought for the same points with England. In their minds, who was traitorous?

Right or wrong, there was a principle involved. One that Southern states originally fought for in the founding of our country, and continued to fight for in the Civil War. For this principle to be dismissed as simplistic "racism" is ludicrous. For eBay, Amazon, and Walmart to cave into this moment's trend is equally ludicrous -- and frightening in its historical ignorance.

I understand and honor the battle fought by residents of the Southern states. And I refuse to be called either a "Racist" or a "Traitor" by those ignorant of United States history and of the history of the Confederate flag.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I'm Losing You (Alternate Version) (John Lennon)

 
 


Here in some stranger's room
Late in the afternoon
What am I doing here at all?
Ain't no doubt about it
I'm losing you

Somehow the wires have crossed
Communication's lost
Can't even get you on the telephone
Just got to shout about it
I'm losing you

Here in the valley of indecision
I don't know what to do
I feel you slipping away
I feel you slipping away
I'm losing you

You say you're not getting enough
But I remind you of all that bad, bad stuff
So what the hell am I supposed to do?
Just put a band-aid on it
And stop the bleeding now
Stop the bleeding now

I know I hurt you then
But hell, that was way back when
Well, do you still have to carry that cross? (drop it)
Don't want to hear about it
I'm losing you
I'm losing you
 

The Monkees - I'm a Believer (1966)

"When I needed sunshine I got rain..."
 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Happiness Is... Disposable Income

I understand the concept of a mate and children bringing one moments of pure happiness and appreciation for love and unity, et al. (But then I've also been witness to the other 75% of "a mate and children.")
 
For purposes here, sans the aforementioned "mate and children," what brought me great happiness tonight was winning the below on eBay after paying a stupidly large amount of money for... a beer glass. With Joan! With THAT particular "Torch Song" picture!! With the utterly stupid-funny "Mommie Beerest" written on it!!!
 
It's probably a good thing that I don't have a kid, because if I did, I'd have to admit, honestly: "Honey, finding this glass online brings me much more pleasure than your bringing home 4th place in the soccer tournament."
  
 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Kris Jenner: Queen of Fucking Everything

 
People give Kris Jenner a hard time, but I think she's really hot. And she has that "hard femme" Joan Crawford-y thing going on:
 
 
Look at the eyes of the boys behind her.
 
 
 
I like 'em a little rough.
 
Maybe not quite this rough.
 
Enough to turn Bruce into a lesbian.
 
She cleans up real nice.


Scorpio eyes.
 
 
Queen of Fucking Everything.

Poor Kris.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Goals Upon Approaching 50

With only 2 months to spare:

Lose 10 pounds.
Get teeth whitened.
Get hair permed and colored.

Now, lest someone reading here think, "Oh my, how shallow..." Well, I've already, at nearly 50, done the Big Stuff that I had any personal control over. I've:

Gotten my Master's degree.
Lived in both San Francisco and New York (the only two places I ever had any serious desire to try out, though I did once have a minor fantasy about living in Germany--in my aunt's house after she died).
Written two screenplays (on my own time, of course).
Written 600+ poems (only 7 published in small national mags).
Published a local lit 'zine with a group of friends (3 issues of "Trash Soup" in Austin in the early '90s).
Written to and gotten responses from 2 of my most meaningful authors: Ted Hughes and Mary Gaitskill (whom I met in person after exchanging letters and tapes).
Created from scratch a website for Joan Crawford (currently over 1,000 unique views a day; 3.1 million visitors since 2004).

What I most decidedly have NOT "accomplished" by 50:

A love of my life with whom I've traveled the world.
A publishing job in New York City.
A poem in the "New Yorker" or a book of poems.
An Oscar-winning screenplay (or even a screenplay optioned!).

But note what I mentioned in the intro: "that I had any control over."

I certainly can't control who falls in love with me and wants to travel. Or who hires me. Or who chooses to publish my work. I've TRIED in all of these areas, which is all anyone can possibly do. Sans a benefactor or mentor (which I have never actively sought, preferring/hoping instead that it would happen organically), I think I have done pretty well on my own.

And so, approaching 50, what I wish for is... Make those teeth and hair appointments, girl! And quit eating fries at lunch! (RE the latter: I've never dieted before in my life. Ever. But I'm up to 162 pounds at 5'8", and I feel noticeably sluggish. I need to be at least under 150 so I can MOVE properly. I hate schlumpfing around and wearing saggy clothes.)

Saturday, June 06, 2015

When I was a child, I caught a fleeting glimpse...

I also wrote the below poem  in 1985 when I was 19, 10 days before the "Ginny poem" below. I think inspired by the glamorization of self-destruction in "The Wall," which I'd just seen. What "The Wall" meant to me was... "Your pain means something." It showed many of us that we were not alone in our various reactions to whatever psychological terror we'd experienced. We could kill ourselves in reaction, or we could codify it into art, which is what the protagonist of the movie (and, I suppose, the soundtrack's primary composer Roger Waters) apparently did. I also chose the "codify" route.
 
Vodka shots off walls cataclysmic
in finality and you take the razor-bath literally
with Gauloises and truth in static overdose run
amuck among brazen angels, the stab of infidelity
struck in bruised reflection and the telephone rings
(darling Pat), banal effortless you laugh
praying in time to head-pound echo and
(flash) sound is one-two blue
chasm widening ever-deep into flesh-fractured
doubt and unflattering in stone you choose your
weapon -- steel or acid (not self-contained) -- and wait
for spatial gates and lords of flies, the come-hither
stench of fluid wrist confessions.
 
 

The Back Seat Of My Car - Paul McCartney (1971)

 
 

 
 
Runaway
(I wrote the below poem for Ginny in 1985, when I was 19, a year-and-a-half after she'd stolen money from her parents to take a bus to Austin, where I was a freshman in a college dorm, unable to take her in permanently. Afterwards, her parents banned me from seeing her. She ran off to Austin a couple of times more, usually accompanied by a new "best friend." She died in 1988.)
 
 
I was the bad one
and you, Mr. Suitcase-god-and-baggage
the ever-so addled, standing
hatless in Austin rain,
wondering how five dollars worth of tokens
could have bought so much goddamn trouble.
 
Yes, she's here.
With excuses and a 6am taxi.
The stain on her shoulder where the fat man slept
and a whole lifetime of indecision still
unaccounted for.
 
And you stand --
sane Baptist eyes figuring (rightly)
that she is yours.
With me too stupid
to see the lure of the religion, sex, and TV
that will be hers for the asking.
 
And home she goes (did you ever doubt?)
Stoneage guilt riding low
and your hand on her arm.
She is SAFE, by god, so safe...
With so much to offer,
we should have all married
men like you.

Facebook Friend

At my work bus-stop in the afternoon, I often run into an aging Austin hippie (I'm almost 50, he's about 60) who has a job about on my level, who's been in Austin about as long as I have (30 + years). He's always chock full of news about what bands/events he just saw or is about to see. Which is fine. Except he then always asks ME, expectantly, about what I just did or am about to do. He's been asking me this for 6 months now. Six months ago, I was full of opinions about my new apartment and new neighborhood, etc. (He's on some sort of self-appointed Austin neighborhood council, so that satisfied him for a while.) Now, though, I've been in my new apartment/'hood for 4 months and so have nothing new to share. When he asks, as he did this Friday, what I'm going to do for the weekend, my answer is usually: "Work on my Joan Crawford website and organize my apartment. And maybe go to a consignment shop. And the grocery store. And maybe do laundry. And maybe go into work for a few hours to catch up."

Today at the bus-stop, he was happily telling me about bands that he'd gone to see the night before with his 20-something daughter. I forget the club he said he went to, but at it, he knew as many people as his daughter did, he was proud to tell me. He also enjoyed the 2-mile full-moon walk home afterward with his daughter, where they shared "theories of the world."

That's cool! Hey, I just shared on this blog my excitement over my recent hour-long conversation with a co-worker about how civilization is going to end, so I understand how wonderful it is to communicate. I truly miss that. But this guy, though, isn't just a "laid-back" kinda guy. He's an aggressively laid-back kinda guy. With a person genuinely interested in communicating, I could have responded to his pleasant "walking home with his daughter and talking" story with my own heart-felt good feelings about the hour-long conversation I just had with my co-worker about life--the first such conversation I'd had in years. I, though, got the definite impression that he wouldn't have been interested in my meager story, which didn't involve a club or "bonding-with-the-younger-generation" or a full moon.

I feel that I disappoint this fellow. I'm amused by this because I feel that he's also searching for surface reasons to be disappointed in me: I've been in Austin as long as he has and know as much about the town...I used to love going out to see bands, and now I just don't feel like hanging out with 20-year-olds any more... The very last thing in the world that I might now want to do, for instance, is hang out at SXSW, which I once did in the '90s and don't need to ever do again, especially now that it's populated by big generic acts and big prices, which was not at all the point of the festival to begin with.

This guy means relatively well. But he's stuck in his "Austin schtick": "I go see bands and events. And what do YOU do?" To me, the more subtly interesting mindset would be to actually listen to what those around you have to say...and to have something that you're interested in other than trying to prove you're still "youthful."

At the end of today's going-nowhere-bus-stop conversation that continued on the bus, he asked me if he could "Friend" me on Facebook! Jesus. Sure. Whatever. WHY? (When I approved his request later tonight, I saw that he had 900+ Friends. I have 32. OK, 32 is anti-socially low (but honest). 900+ is a number reserved for kids who import their entire graduating class. Oh well. He's implied that I'm not as well read as he is: Now that he's on my Facebook page, let him wallow in what I really like. Maybe that's what he wanted all along. I hope it'll either guide his future attempts at conversation or else shut him the fuck up.)

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Good Conversation

I'm single, and I have a job with an isolated office. I say "hello" to my boss once a day when I come in, and she and I might chat briefly another time or two during the day; and once a day or so a co-worker might stop by to either say "hi" or very briefly discuss a small editing job. In short, in all venues of my life, I hardly talk to anyone at all.

Today, a co-worker in charge of the company website stopped by my office to let me know that I might have to "write something." I was puzzled. Though I write, I don't "write" at this company. (Just "compile" and "edit.") Turned out the subject was an obituary for a long-time employee. Yeah, yeah, I'd already gotten the e-mails a month ago and already compiled various public obits to be written up for inclusion in next year's annual report. So?

There was no other "So." The co-worker just wanted to stop by and chat. He came by at 2:00pm and by the time he left, it was 3:45! One good, non-guilty thing for me was: He's been at the company for over 20 years, makes over $100,000 a year (I checked), and any time he wants to chat, I can chat, without my own boss getting mad at me.

A more interesting thing for me was: Our conversation started out with the specific demise of a co-worker and nearly 2 hours later ended with... the demise of civilization as we know it. And how I don't know anything about even light-bulbs. (He, on the other hand, claims to know how to construct one, but of course couldn't do so without the materials that wouldn't be available post-apocalypse.)

There were about 300 steps in between the IT guy dying and our civilization dying. It didn't strike me until the end of the 2 hours just what an interesting little arc we'd just transversed! :)

It wasn't a sexual thing, 99% of it. What was so exotic to me was feeling such intellectual stimulation for the first time in YEARS! As a teen, on my own, and then through college and up through the mid-90s, I was constantly stimulated intellectually. Post-2000, though, has been pretty much of a wasteland.

The time today gave me a hint of what I've been missing. I miss talking to someone for hours.