when i first, first, first started going to the gym, troy and i slathered over a certain fellow. he never wore a towel. he looked great naked: great body, unique and sexy tattoos, fierce haircut, nice dick. search the web for his picture, i'm certain you'll be able to find it. or as troy put it "he knows he looks fine". there was something to be admired in achieving that mental state, the place where you're comfortable with what you've got, and don't really mind if others look.
i have always played with the towel, selectively taking it off, playing peek-a-boo with it, letting it slip off at the right moment while steaming. since i was a small child i've been cavalier about being clothed, and recently i've had the chance to see that it's an attitude that runs in the family: one of my aunts is an outright naturalist, and to be truthful, most of my family has this 'free to be you and me' streak that is refreshing in its diversity and regular reoccurrence.
but i have always been equally uptight about the nudity. i felt like i didn't, look fine, and chose to wear my towel. not so much in the locker room, where it's really enjoyable to undress around a bunch of guys whose business it is to undress. more so in the steam room, that little bench with one turn: if there isn't a guy in there i feel like playing with, and more often than not there is not, then i keep the towel on. and certainly, if there is someone in there i am not into, i'm very conscious of my nudity, somehow wishing for a barrier to the vision-love being thrown my way. shared pleasures are always better than those taken by one but not offered by another.
today i did squats, after another long day at the office, and the legs were so rubbery after the workout that i almost fell down the stairs from the weight room. i had that rare but enjoyable fatigue that squats seem to always deliver, the kind of being-tired that extends from heels to scalp, the kind that would have me fall asleep where i stand.
my locker was next to this guy who i find attractive but completely intimidating, and i looked him in the eye and chatted with him in a familiar, friendly manner. no barrier required. went into shower. went into steamroom. took off towel, stretched those legs a little, putting foot on bench to stretch each buttock thigh and calf muscle. suddenly, something like ten people start coming in, one or two being guys who are chelsea-built but completely non-interesting, and who are complete trolls in that steamroom, and who i didn't give a damn whether they took pleasure from just looking at me closing my eyes and resting with the towel open.
i wore the coveralls (the one-piece teal number that was once my grandfathers) last night to a costume party. with it, some tools, well-applied makeup, and fake fangs, became a vampire mechanic.
i like to dress up in levi's engineered jeans, which fit me loose and are comfortable, yet don't show off my butt too well. i like to wear the 505s i have that fit me really tight, but they're so tight i don't feel like dancing much. i like to wear the lucky jeans i bought two years ago that are really wearing well and make butt look good but are comfortable.
i like to wear my bergdorf-goodman suit that i bought at tokyo 7 (east village) for $40, that is tailored for me (shorter arms).
over the last couple of years i've been arduously throwing my imagination into dressing-up, that is playing with identity through clothes, trying first to get more specific about my 'own' identity, then realizing that i'm much more about being facile with playing different dress-identities, then going into territories unknown. being friends with troy has helped; his creative imagination revolves almost entirely around how people make themselves through dress. however, my explorations have been almost entirely with conventional clothing, not with costuming, not with makeup the stuff you do on halloween or mardi gras. this time was the first time i had to come up with a costume idea. a friend at work who excels at this sort of thing helped me, step-by-step, develop the idea.
i like to dress with little leather accessories. not always with tight tee-shirts.
i like to dress in tight tee-shirts, without sleeves, to show off my arms and shoulders, sometimes representing gretna, louisiana's all-boys grade school baseball team. i like to look muscular, but try to be careful to not look like i'm trying to look more muscular than i am, or showing off what isn't there. i never wear v-necks that don't make my chest look attractive, and despise sleeveless tees that are not cut-offs.
i like to wear tailored shirts and vintage ties to work, so that someone does a label check, thinking i picked up an obscure versace or prada. i like to wear ties for no reason. i like to be dashing in business clothes, although i never need to really, and although some of my colleagues at the office have never worn a single tie. i like to roll up my sleeves, keep them in place with my biceps, and show off the stars. i don't care if it's clear i'm just showing the goods off.
i like to take my shirt off in a crowd, even though my chest stubbornly refuses to get any bigger or more defined.
it was a party thrown by a new friend. i'd never met any of his friends before, and only seen him a couple of times. everyone was in a costume: i had no idea what their 'true' identities were. despite my work in this area, despite the amount of theoretical bliss i've attained from such deconstruction of identities, i'm still addled when faced with a man in a wig. what are these people like when they're 'normal'? what am i?
i like to wear dickies pants, because they are cheap, last a long time, and fit me well. i wear them with everything, the ties, the tees, whatever.
i like to dress like me, ohioan me, redwing boots and bad jeans, old shirt that does not show off my muscles, old sweater that is fraying, old jacket that makes me look poor. sometimes i show up at a place like brasserie in this get-up, usually in winter, with fashionable company, and look at myself and think i don't belong here and i like that.
throwing myself into the crowd, my new friend with a terrifyingly good mask and wig, making him the person i'd be least likely to recognize, the others just as defamiliar. yet over the course of several hours, we all became acquainted, forming ties based on our voices and the choice of costume. and how we worked it.
i like to dress in camo shorts at the gym. i like to wear my athletic shorts too. i like to wear old or ugly t-shirts there, because i look nice in those too, and somehow they're appropriate to pumping iron, mary.
i like to dress soberingly casual, break days and weeks between days i wear ties, as if i've thrown all this aside and am just going to be me. these periods end because they eventually require the most attention.
there's an hour of sunshine
for a million years of rain
but somehow that always
seems to be enough
it's confirmed. don't buy the tickets on the website, though. i'm told a ticket for both nights only costs $40, total, and for some reason you can't buy that on the website. call 212.721.6500 to get that deal. get them now. pack bags, call cabs, and hurry to alice tully hall.
when love falls from the sky
nobody ever asks why
you just take it or you leave it
where it was...
writing greg allen
some of this was written on september 4. notes are often taken in email correspondance, as you may already know, and ideas are generated. yet so many things have happened since then, so many parts have been generated for this entry, it may become too long, too much. you may have to follow me or greg around (it won't take long for us to bump into each other, so don't worry), and just sit in on the conversations, the witticisms, the sly cyber-spying, become part of the conversation, begun long ago, continuing to affect us and you.
i have uselessly resisted the natural workings of the mind the last few weeks, where memories overlap, replace, or partially obscure other memories. after a while you have no choice: images from sleep alone will do the trick, but constantly making new structures clinches it. memories of attack become dreams of being chased, new gateways for boroughs, selections from furniture auction catelogues, or become memories from different camera angles (watching), or become one tower with a hole and another tower still intact because i had a dream about a drawing i saw this weekend. seven weeks of riding the train to work, just like before, leavened uncertainty, allowed a mild pause which allowed one to assess risk, and shore up volition. the day is more beautiful than ever. i haven't noticed that much until the last couple of weeks, but with memories and experiences piling up, memories of will and grace, new amorous interest, new clients, awards, continuances, dinners, openings, conversations about art, new designs, old designs, and a random trick here or there, i'm allowed to see these things again.
the notes i mention above were partially taken from an email to greg, asking for more. he hadn't written much, but what he had put down to date was insightful. as the entry from october 4 shows, he has continued that tendency. he has asked the questions about film that i'm always waiting to hear a filmmaker's answers to, waiting to see them in a work, wordless. but greg has interleaved another set of complexity into the project: how much can he say in writing publicly about these questions without destroying the magic of wordless answers, answers embedded in a work. this website seems to go directly for conundrum: why write publicly at all? can one ever just take notes, not intend anything, explore and have that exploration be appreciated by others, without overly conditioning the outcome of a yet-not-produced work? what is the work? will people like it? is it sufficiently interesting? greg's patient observation of faculties and characteristics of other artists, filmmakers, bloggers, writers, and his instinct to assemble them in his own fashion, are qualities to be admired and studied.
unfortunately, i suppose, a journal about a time-consuming project, filled with all the observations and thoughts about that project, may require too much time to produce completely without taking time from the project itself. that hasn't stopped me from asking. i learned the same lesson from both architecture professors and from project managment: asking for more pushes creative people to do better work.
writing about seeing things: i don't want to go near those discussions about irony, if only because it's exceedingly distasteful to me to take up a discussion whose terms i find misapplied or inaccurate (not that i am anywhere near the benchmark for that accuracy, but at least i avoid catchphrase theory. right?). i have overheard several people i work with, who saw a plane hit a building from eight blocks away with me that day, say they "watched" it happen. which is accurate, because we were observers, helpless, behind glass. yet when that word is uttered, and when i almost utter it in the same context, i shudder, knowing that i have had to resist the desire to let the cinematic memories replace the eyewitness account, without scrolling news bar, without informed commentary from a stranger. yet that muddling remains, and is perfectly natural, no matter how much i try to keep it from happening. the terms for how we perceive the word are not changed, and as embedded as they are in our culture, our economic structures, our politics, our language, it's a utopian dream to even suggest that 'reality' exists apart from 'mediated experiences'. the latter is part of reality, they are experiences. nothing ends that is recorded. sitting in a room reading from a computer is an experience. reading a book is an experience. i caught a professor of mine at columbia saying that computer models of architecture weren't real! i grew up with an apple iigs, and knew how to program LOGO before i could ride a bike: making things on computers have always been real. isn't the problem at hand to figure this out these threads, figure out how our minds make reality, and, you know, say something?
saying things: as you know, my own semi-rural background is a preoccupation of mine, so the idea of filming people bailing hay is incredibly interesting in its own right. then there's the huge observation of the problem of the '15 minutes of fame' psychology. or, you might say it's the 'real world/survivor' psychology, where people have become conditioned to the idea of being 'normal people talking to the camera'. it's a little (but not all) like when i'd be on the train a few years ago, when seinfeld was on, and be forced to listend to two guys loudly having an absurd conversation whose intonations and cadences were exactly like that tv show, the sarcasm, cynicism, intentional misreadings of words, playing dumb, not something genuine to the conversation the two people next to me wanted to have, but a placeholder for the conversation itself, a lifted discourse. people have not only lifted from media experiences, but they've done the inverse too: people have gotten into the habit of pouring their private thoughts into the media, authoring the sentiment in a fluid but narrow set of off-the-cuff observations about selves and others, even if they've never seen a camera crew in their lives. greg writes about this phenomenon more articulately that i can, and with better references too. but another way for me to put it, one that isn't annoyed by idle banter, would be to say that meaning, in work and in the world, is put together by both watching-experiences and being out and about, but what matters is what we do with that.
an update on my life.
lately, i have felt great. because i may actually have a date before too long, and am seriously thinking about falling in love; because i'm struggling for my economic survival, and at this moment feel like i'm winning; because because my arms are getting bigger from constant attention at the gym; because an ego-satisfying sexual escapade on tuesday made me feel desirable and wonderful; because i love being thirty; because thirty rhymes with dirty; because i have gone to parties and get real pleasure out of conversation; because brando in streetcar, with his bottle of beer; because vivian leigh there more, on the stairs, slowly pulling herself down; because porn. because i was not laid off at work, and like to believe that they would not be able to. because no toxic smell for all week. because i'm not scared of every turn in the city, despite the fact that i'm fully aware of the possibility of unexpected violence in my town; because the fabric of the city doesn't frighten me like it did last month; because the city is a little dangerous again, but that's really how life is, and besides i've got a lot to do like fight for my economic survival; because my client paid my office; because the project went out to bid; because i've been asked to spearhead several projects; because i know people; because with charlie out of the way, i may actually have a shot at a common DJ-friend of ours; because jockohomo is; because jonno charmed my parents without ever speaking to or meeting them.
(could you write a diary entry)
i did today with my parents what jonno did a few weeks ago: marvelled at the wonders of the met.
on the way, we marvelled at the wonder of carnegie hall. at the wonder of the stores on madison avenue. at the wonders of the colors central park this time of the year, at the spectacular character of fall light diffused behind a completely blanketed sky. at the wonder of the air somewhat chilly, enough to make us wish we'd brought our jackets, but not enough to make us go back for them. dad, mom, and i wondered at the boat pond while eating, after two lovely phone calls from friends.
met: degas, bronzino, vermeer. all intact. dendur still there. special bruegel and bosch, surreal landscapes connecting sin in an environment of plauge. my lack of education regarding the historic meaning of these paintings thin at best, i freely fictionalize my own. breugel's scapes of obscenity illustrated to be horrific, but also impish, as if sin and vice were things borne of and on a sense of humor. as if he was only uncovering his own horror, or the unhappiness caused by human stupidity, but did not fully believe that punishment from the divine for such behavior was derived in such a causal way, or was sorely inadequate in the face of the punishment inflicted by oneself. i don't know what it meant, but it felt good to observe another era's art, an era also threatened with widespread, yet random, corporeal decay. and, i guess, to observe myself, again, and the things people do to face anxiety.
and the rest: dad wanted to see george washington crossing the delaware. we were museum-tired already, but shuffled into the depths of the american wing to find it. historical inaccuracies abounded in every room before it, endless portraits of commercial ruffians living the good life in a new land, in the eighteenth century. after visiting masters of europe hundreds of years before these works, the american wing almost seemed like simple folk art, important only because they were done on homeland soil. (crossing the delaware was painted in the US and in germany). yet the allegory in this painting, its overt nationalism, was not unwelcome, and also worthy of contemplation with my parents, the idea that we are messy, wealthy, frontierspeople who will always fight for our way of life, right or wrong, and call it freedom, and even self-recognize its wrongness (not-fully-rightness?), and argue about that. my confusing portrait is intentional, reader: it embodies what i'm describing.
i was walking up 54th street this evening, near my house. i had napped a little on the train; being stuck in a tunnel and sitting down, sleepy from a big lunch, will do that to me. my stumbling on that patch between eighth and ninth, which has no sidewalk because both sides are under construction, puts you out into the street, haphazard barracades interspersed between police cars and construction vehicles, but the site abandoned for the weekend because it's 6:15, and taxis expertly speeding down the very same narrow corridor you're walking on.
brooke shields in cabaret, in studio 54, everything is beautiful. i wore a tie from the 70s in tribute. i had a couple of drinks through the show, as tribute. and the mirror ball came down. THE mirror ball. i was transported elsewhere. a rumble happened intermittently: an eighth avenue subway, or a sound effect? another attack? brooke a singer? the actors friends of my friend? possibly meet the cute one after the show, call charlie, make enormous arrangements just to be introduced?
walking, i was thinking about sex, stumbling off the catnap, about various other realities, how i resist describing things as surreal because my waking state, the state i perceive things in, is very dreamlike already, and to distinguish between reality and some kind of not-reality is to threaten the very kernel of my creative energies. it has taken a long time since you-know-when to make that simple lack of distinction, and to believe in it again.
i took a drive with my friend L yesterday. we drove up the hudson valley in a rented pontiac grand-am, full of minx soundtracks.
i saw my head laughing
rolling on the ground
the velvets were what made me want to move to new york when i was a wee college student in saint louis. this album in particular had that effect on me. they were like none of the other rock of the period, 'classic' rock that filled the airwaves. this was better. cerebral, yet passionate. a product of second nature.
the place we were going to hike, camp smith (no pun intended), was closed. it's a military installation when it's not doubling as a hiking trail.
at a rail passage in the hudson, we found a place to get out and look at bear mountain, iona island, and the surrounding hills. things bigger than two buildings, more complex, yet more deserted. i kept thinking they can't knock these down, they can't get to all this. it's bigger than any of us.
again. the hudson valley is marked with heavy industrial spots, hard-fought pieces of civilization in a stunningly beautiful but somehow unforgiving region of steep cliffs, broken rock faces, dense woods, and soft soil. in the fall, you can feel winter coming, and in that wilderness, it's easy to feel as if one should be gathering fuel for the long cold ahead, and not gazing at the colors of the leaves. in this sense, new york city is a perfect extension of the hudson valley: sublime, steep, difficult, rewarding, producer of industry and capital.
i'm set free
i'm set free to find a new illusion
cars peeked out on the cliffs throught the trees across the river. i sat on a rock in silence for a long while. my buddy sat in a tree. i looked at this, and at this.
i learned to drive again, and on curving roads. i drove in mahnattan too. i learned how to cut someone off in the city and in the rain and not be scared to death. i learned how to jump from loose rock to loose rock and leave some of my scaredy-cat shivers behind.
after i dropped L off at his house, i drove back home down central park west, the autumn sun setting between the streets to my right, a few trees glowing, the buildings an endless, shadowed, terra-cotta wall, extending not as two monoliths of human commerce, but as a continuous alluvial deposit of the hudson, scratched by many hands. they can never take this away from us i thought. it's bigger than any of us.
we were in a tunnel like canyon, trenches or a maze, walls like the subterranean sandstone of an adventure movie, i was among the group being led by bill cosby in a energetic rendition of a vietnamese hip-hop campfire song. he went around as the music started, smiling and looking at each of us, getting us to follow along. i had never heard the tune before, but i picked it up enough in the first few bars that i was able to hoot over it, like the wind over music played outdoors, hollering the contralto.
something else happened.
ps all work in this domain is copyright chad the minx.