« December 2000 | Main | Archives | February 2001 »

January 2001

A Little Plug

Eagle-eyed New Yorkers will be able to spot a picture of me on page 52 of the current issue of Time Out New York (the 1/25-2/1 issue, with the ski bunny on the cover). Nothing very glam, just an unflattering shot of me addressing the rapt crowd at the last group meeting of the Brooklyn LiveWork Coalition. It's a great article, actually, with a broad discussion of the issues at stake with this whole crackdown on loft living here in Crooklyn.

It's been something of a revelation for me to get so involved with this whole thing. I’ve been spending about 20 hours week (you know, during all that spare time when I’m not scoping or working full-time) donating time to the Coalition, and I even seem to have become part of the leadership. It's a shock to me because this issue has so easily tapped into some real passions of mine, passions I never really know about. I always saw myself as very apolitical, never getting myself into much of a twist about anything. This time around I haven't felt any doubt or any apathy. Unlike times when I was faced with gay rights issues or presidential elections or whatnot, I really feel charged about the way my neighbors and I are caught in the middle of this time of adaptation in New York. As the city government reacts to the way life in the city has adapted on its own, I’ve realized that I am actually part of a community here in a way I haven't experienced before. I started out just making sure I wouldn't get booted to the street, but as I’ve gotten to know my neighbors and other painters, sculptors, musicians, designers, photographers, entrepreneurs and such I’ve realized that I really give a shit about making sure that we all have a way to continue living in a way that lets us unite our work lives with our domestic lives, uniting what might otherwise be disparate parts of ourselves. Not to mention it would be damn hard to pay for both homes and studios where we could really work.

It's a delicate balance the Coalition is after. We actually enjoy the mixed character of our neighborhoods, and we want to be able to continue working where we live. As much as we want to bring improvements to these neighborhoods, we don't actually want to see them overdevelop in ways that make it impossible for us to stay, the way things have gone overboard in soho and Tribeca. Even though North Williamsburg has exploded in recent years, it's still a long way off from that kind of exclusivity. I think that’s one way that living in Brooklyn may always make things a little easier for us: No matter how much things transform over here, New York's geography will still concentrate the money and the attention in Manhattan.

We'll see, I suppose. In the meantime, I have some more meetings to prepare for...

Yes, I Like Cute Guys

I don't know why, but yesterday's posts about cute boys seems to have inspired a number of snarky comments from the peanut gallery. What? Did someone not get the press release about me being an ardent supporter of the man-man lovin'? It shouldn't be such an eyebrow-raiser that I just get all teenage-girly and get wistful about the charms of cute boys once in a while. Time was I used to do that all the time in this journal. Maybe I need to start publishing monthly lists of current crushes again.

I guess it's my own fault for being all serious and geeky and gripey for the last couple months, talking mostly about work and crisis and my emotions and other boring stuff. Y'all got used to that and forgot that Sparky loves him some lovin'!

Passing Glimpses

In defense of cute boys, though, they really are yummy. I was sitting across from a guy on the subway who was just adorable in an amiable, straight-boy sort of way. Big puppy-dog brown eyes, a sweet look on his face, knit hat, big coat, baggy khakis. We got off at the same stop and I was on the stairs behind him, and I noticed that he was wearing tennis socks with his sneakers, even though we had another snow storm this weekend. Those unexpected glimpses of his shapely ankles as he climbed the stairs were just the perfect detail to top it all off and make me all smiley.

The Usual Whine

Cute boys can be so predictable sometimes. I mean it wasn't SO long ago that we had our tongues down each other's mouths and our hands and whatnot on each other's privates, and it was all very friendly and fun. Would it have been such a big breech of protocol to even say "Hi" when we unexpectedly run into each other while hanging with friends at the local watering hole? (seriously, just a little local watering hole, not even a gay bar where this sorta nonsense is so common.) I wasn't even trying to be all cruisy, just neighborly. Yeesh!

More support for my pet theory that all the fun, smart, goofy, polite, cute, clever, sexy guys who I’d actually get along with are having a swinging good time in some kind of hipster homo orgy commune somewhere without me. And without the usual handful of like minds I know of scattered about the place. I say we put together a search party. Who's with me?

You Can't Go Back Again

For the most part, I don't react to pop culture with nostalgia or ironic distance. Either I like things or I don't. I may like them because they're goofy and endearing, but I truly enjoy trashiness and garishness and goofiness, so I don't strike a pose of being better than something else. If I really didn't have a genuine enthusiasm for a certain look or activity or book or TV show or whatever, it wouldn't be fun for me to sit around and act superior. I either dig it or not.

Nostalgia is tied up in that, but it's a little more complex. I may give certain things more of a chance because of the larger context of when they figured into my life, but if I didn't like them once, there's a good chance I still won't. (There are many exceptions to this when I speak of music, because lots of stuff seem much better looking back as an adult with broader tastes that depend less on carving out a social niche for myself. For instance, I have realized that I actually enjoy a lot of old heavy metal like Judas Priest and Poison, and that I totally love old-skool hip-hop like Run DMC and the Funky Four. People grow, damnit.) And if I once did like something, I may not now that I’m older and more critical.

Which brings me to 1984. Not the year, really, but the long-running dance party by that name that I went to last Friday. Keep in mind now that early 80s music has always been very important tome, because that’s when I started to make my move over toward the counter-culture, and I’ve never stopped listening to a lot of this music which was so influential to me. It's an active love, not some recent rediscovery. so anyway, 1984 used to be a fantastic new-wave groove at a dank little gay bar called the Crowbar where it was always packed, sweaty, fun, and horny. After Crowbar closed, 1984 moved to The Pyramid Club, where it was still packed, but became more of a scene for mostly queer college kids who got a charge out of listeing to those crazy old songs their older siblings listened to. You know, alternative classics like Pet shop Boys and Erasure. Ugh. I vowed never to go back.

But I did, about three or four years later (way too long for any kind of party to keep going), and discovered that it had actually deteriorated even more. Lots of guys and gals who looked like they didn't go out to many other places. Fine, I can't blame anyone for wanting a little familiarity. But, damn, could the music have gotten any worse? They lured me in by playing New Order's "Temptation" early on, a song that I still think is a brilliant mix of sweetness and cynicism. But then it became obvious that this groove was no longer about New Wave and its closer offshoots. It was lots of Pet shop Boys, Belinda Carlisle, samantha Foxx, et al. Just a big mess all around. All I could think was, "I never would have hung out with you people in high school (and I was a nerd!), and I certainly don't want to do it now." Before long, they gave up any pretense of the 80s, and it just became a medley of bad High NRG crap form the 90s. It was like safe nostalgia for early 90s mainstream gay nightlife. I fled when the C&C Music factory came on.

No, I'll pass on the nostalgia. It's often just a reminder of what I hated back then anyway. Besides, a seven-dollar cover and a three-dollar coat check? screw that. There weren't even more than a half-dozen cute guys.

It seemed so fitting that as I rode back on the subway, I sat next to a guy who was reading a manual about programming in BAsIC...

Like Minds

It is vitally important that you read Camper's multi-part account of his recent trip to Prague. Not only is it a supercharged, condensed-milk version of everything that makes his overall site so kickass, but it's also quite sweet in a way. In this section in particular, Camper even manages to describe someone in exactly the kinds of ways I would (or wish I had the reason and opportunity to), pointing out how a collection of goofy things really come together to make everything you can really dig about someone:

Now, I know you are supposed to be attracted to the person with whom you're in love, but in all honesty Travis is sexy as fuck. He was standing there waiting in his old army parka that he's had since he was twelve, with its ratty green material and fuzzy hood, messy brown hair springing from his gargantuan square head, old nasty jeans, and the same beat up black semi-platformed loafers that he always wears. H.O.T.

They Went and Done It

In the midst of my incessant committee meetings about this aggravating eviction issue — which is becoming an endless, tedious pain in the butt — I’ve still managed to maintain some semblance of the whirlwind pace of my normal life. One thing I’ve noticed while running around this winter? The Gap really did it: Everyone is in leather. And you know what? They've pretty much managed to suck all the sex appeal out of it. No, boys and girls, you don't look like sexy rock stars in your cheap Gap leather pants and your square-toe loafers. You look like well-polished mall rats.

One place where they very definitely were not wearing leather was the posh, old-money Down Town Club, where my friends Heather and Nick had their wedding yesterday. You know when you hear cracks about enormous, fancy old buildings with wood-panelled walls covered in pictures of dead white men? This would be the place. Christ, even the men's room looked like it could have hosted a meeting of the Stone Carvers. Incredibly beautiful, but certainly in a masculine, old-money sort of way that always makes me cringe. Of course, now they rent it out so ordinary slobs like us can do the bunny-hop to Gloria Gaynor, so I guess its heyday is over. (side note: All of my critical opinions about music go away when I’m at weddings. I just like to jump around and have fun like everyone else. I'll be the first one snappin' and poppin' to smashmouth or doing the Hustle. It's a party, and even goofy dancing is the only way to make a wedding a decent time.)

But back to the Down Town Club: Places like that hit me at two of my biggest insecurities (well, after the inevitable body-image issues which loom so large in my psyche they barely count as discrete problems). Not only does the incessant manliness of such places — and if you've never paid attention to it, you should realize that architecture absolutely can express the feeling of one gender or another — make me feel like I’m about to get called sisssy names and shoved in a locker, but the overwhelming presence of money makes me itch with discomfort. I’m extremely uncomfortable around wealth. In one sense I feel really low-class and unsophisticated, knowing that I’d rather eat with my hands than use the proper fork, and that my stated preference for casual comfort is also a certain posture that hides the fact that I’m basically a slob who just doesn't know much about the propriety of situations like that. Also, I’m basically poor. I never have money at the ready, and I never have. This, of course, makes for innumerable aggravations and awkward moments when I’m around people who've got some scratch of their own, or places that exude wealth in a way I know I'll never achieve. I’ve often heard it said that people only worry about money when they don't have it. Frankly, I’d look forward to being able to forget about it for once.

Paul Soup

I had the pleasure of another perfectly lovely visit from my idol Paul Baker today, as always a big, charming, pile of fun and a reminder that all the good ones are taken. since the dreaded snow was at it again, we spent the day at my place combing through the mess of treasures and kitsch delights I’ve managed to horde over the years. We mentioned a lot that it would be a shame if I were vacated form the Rumpus Room, since it's a nice set-up here.

It's actually been quite the week for web folk getting together. I finally got in touch with Dr. Vince for some coffee and giggles earlier in the week, and if all goes well I'll be able to track down Jonno, Richard, the Minx, Jocko, and Dori tonight. It's a long shot, but stranger things have happened. Not to mention all the getting together with everyone helping me build the Brooklyn LiveWork Coalition web site: from my neighbor Bret to the totally sassy programmer girl who cautioned us that she only had so much time to help because she still needed "time to lead this rock-n-roll lifestyle," it's all about the digital community going meatspace.

Old Models

Even in these modern times, some things haven't necessarily changed that much. Jessie (who's way too cute for his own good, even when grumpy) neatly sums up a pet peeve that I also have with my family. Even though they know all about me and don't care about the whole gay thing, they don't quite get that it means my life will be inherently different from theirs in a lot of ways. They mean well, but keep saying things that betray thoughts that just isolate me from the goings-on of the clan. My sisters, despite all their loving support of my quest for love, still think it would be a great substitute to marry Miki so we can have kids and get a house in the country near them. Good grief.

Maybe I'll just have to rely on the younger generation to get it right and just take things as they are. My niece/god-daughter Jacqui gets it wth no trouble: she likes that she can talk about cute boys and the Powerpuff Girls and going to gay bars with me. And my nephew Michael made me the Thanksgiving card below, rather than give the same ol' thing to his mom or dad.

I guess my siblings are doing a decent job, even if their own thinking is still a little stuck in the world they knew growing up. When Miki mentioned something about our friend and his boyfriend, my niece Emily said, "Don't you mean her boyfriend?" to which Miki naturally replied, "No, I meant 'his'." "that’s weird," said Emily. "No," said my sister Ellen, "just different."

East Side Ecstasy

If you watch any documentary before you die, you really ought to watch East Side Story, an incredible look at communist musicals in East Germany and the soviet Union. Man, it'll get your heart pumping to watch those men sing about the glories of their tractors, or watch textile-mill ballet sequence. Of course, now that I think about it, you also should make sure that before you die you see such other incredible documentaries as Grey Gardens, Crumb, and Trekkies. Any of those will be a great reminder that reality can be so much more fascinating than fiction.

On a totally different pop-culture note, I’ve found myself talking with lots of guys recently about how they also always thought that Aquaman was totally hot. So it's not just me. It's almost weird how often this has been happening, like some great pent-up surge of homosexual zeitgeist blowing a gasket. Simon spontaneously got me a totally hot Aquaman poster by Alex Ross for my birthday. My friend Eric announced he's planning on fulfilling a lifelong dream and getting an Aquaman tattoo. Various other guys, when I’ve started to mention who the hottest superfriend was, beat me to the punch by screaming out, "Aquaman!" This has been even more startling than the realization a few years back that the homos all seemed to have a thing for Boba Fett.

« December 2000 | Main | Archives | February 2001 »
Powered by Movable Type 5.2.13Creative Commons License