savor inside a little longer.
i was letting it swirl around inside. and trying to express a long answer to a short question with a telepathic pause. i was confronted with the knowledge that i know, i really know, what i want, and in that pause was also looking for the courage to admit it.
while we waited, i saw one guy, remembered another, because i'd met a third, who reminded me of three other ones, and then leading back to the last times, two guys, over a year ago.
i was swirling two tendencies, which are really hundreds of directions artificially divided into two unequal portions. the smaller part of me wants someone who is nice, tall, older, sexy, completely uncomplicated by desires for art, writing, reading, making, politics, or nightlife. that's who i was reminded of by who i was looking at that moment. i had had to postpone a date because my gay uncle is in town, but i really was suddenly relieved by the change, because i had met someone else, the second tendency, only moments before, at this after-party, a guy who knocked my socks off, attractive, short, my age, great body, artist, website designer, works with flowers, loves new york but needs regular respite at family farm.
"i'm having a proustian moment," i replied, to forestall the interruption of my pause.
i suppose this is the point where i say that an unsuccessful attempt at exploring new people with personal ads consumed five fall/winter months. the new people there were mostly pretty nice and interesting, but none were right for me, we none done clicked together, despite reams of compatibility data, wished compatibility, interesting correspondence, interesting photographs, common activities, dramatic break-ups, and good sex. so many parallels with several guys, yet so little spark, a message repeated over and over no matter how many ways i tried to approach it, left me feeling even more alone in this city, with uncharacteristic belief in fate and its cruelty, a belief that was dangerously bordering on superstitious.
i started to explain the chain of events to my friend, which he took in patiently. "see, proustian, you're falling asleep!" i said as i continued. i wanted to get to the punchline.
yes i said proustian: i was savoring the anticipation of disappointment: i was already jealous of fate: my attraction echoed with the voice of Habit.
i was not going to inquire whether the artist had a boyfriend; rather, i was going to express that i was ready to believe he was already spoken for. i was already unwilling to forgive the city for yet again putting a good one in front of me and removing all hope of my getting any closer only moments after it had emerged again, a seedling not seen in over a year, the first day of spring, purposely letting it grow a little longer before the frost. but letting frost take it nonetheless.
he replied before i could finish, no doubt seeking to break my unnecessary, artistic, self-lacerating reverie with "he doesn't have a boyfriend". even then i wouldn't admit to him that he had said what i wanted to hear, that i was going to let my thoughts turn again and again to a particular new possibility, but further i was going to let them turn to looking for new possibilities everywhere, find new ways of crossing paths with people, find new ways of asking to have good words put in for me without being direct, find new energy in good conversation, bring presents to everyone, feel good dressing up, cast my call, speak my mind.
things that have happened in the last month that i really do not want to write too much about:
1. finding out the one remaining heartthrob attention-getter at the gym is a complete circuit queen and not the sad, sensitive, intelligent, introspective east village muscle queer i thought he was.
2. getting hella laid once. it's been a while since it was really good. (yes, it's been a while period.)
3. only getting into an argument with a client three times this week! (we made up today, weekend work absolves all weekday grudges).
4. going to martin's bookparty and feeling completely unattractive and unconversant and unaccomplished. having stephen kijak's new producer friend compliment me on my abilities and passion for what i do helping with the last part.
5. having someone tell me at my favorite coffee bar that only old queens like him should read proust, and not to waste my youth.
6. a really famous person doing something really subtle (but in plain sight for everyone) and really sweet for me, something requiring his talents, just because it would amuse me, and me noticing. actually, this happened last summer, but i just thought of it again this week, because nothing at all like that has happened from anyone for a month.
7. utterly unable to concentrate unless i'm thinking about my upcoming vacation or tattoo.
8. tattoo sketches finalized, more or less.
it will be a great era when amateur film critics learn to quit talking about films, any film, in terms of plot, as if this Elizabethan conception of dramatic action had the same definition as the words value and interest, as you would talk about a room and its paint, as in 'if the film only had more of it, or a better quality one, it would be better'.
another term comes to mind, one that a friend of mine said some time ago, which probably exists as a technical term somewhere in the arcana of literary or film theory, separate from its freudian meaning: screen memory. he thought something had happened to him (which he was recalling to me) but it was something he'd seen in a movie. "oh i'm sorry, that was a screen memory". (incidentally, i found his need to apologize for this situation charming).
this film, written by stephen kijak when he was 25, seems to be more focused with its affect on the viewer's memories than a (supposedly) rational sequence of scenes that end well. i found the experience of watching this film like being part of an interesting person's life: fascinating in every bit of its messiness.
in the film equal weight is given to the excellent cast, production, sets, and temporal structure, in order to keep it out of the realm of plots-and-character and into the realm of happening-to-you. like life, the film has boring moments. it does not shirk from them, of course, because it embraces them as necessary to the overall effect. the moment where andrew brings his uncle soup, there is a long silence as he proceeds to eat several spoonfuls. not dramatic spoonfuls, but real tastes, struggling to taste against a very hot stew. the tension between the characters is detoured through the action of getting the tasting of the chowder out of the way, annoyingly quotidian moments that interfere with the advice andrew wants to hear.
(yes, there are moments like these that do not work, and they are obvious. i don't recall them.)
however, the film isn't solely about andrew and his uncle. it's about all of the six lead characters, who all seem to be given equal attention. [margot kidder aside: woman rules the WORLD!] the film works by accumulating moments from each of the different combinations of characters, sets, moments, artworks. it doesn't work right away; its when a critical mass of the collage (i know it might be called montage) is in place that the emotional effects happen.
for example, i suddenly cried when his uncle died, suddenly, off-camera, without notice, discovered accidentally in the hospital, with no corpse to look at. specifically at the moment andrew kneels at his uncle's easel, and later when he finds his photographs. until that point, i was able to observe the film in a somewhat detached, yet interested, state. after that, there were still highs and lows of engagement, yet i was beginning to become attuned to the amplitude, and rode the wave to the end. the sudden emotional depth is abetted by superb performances from talented actors.
this type of filmmaking can be carried to new venues, beyond the intertwined family theme. i've encouraged stephen to continue with these ideas, and look forward to the next works. i've no doubt that if he chooses to continue this is the kind of filmmaking, it will become highly refined and brilliant.
it's not unlike a recurring dream you had long ago [g-g-guitar] where you artfully dodge the bullets from your friendly adversary's weapon by bounding off the floor up to the walls of the subway train, leaping off the rattling floor, smacking a plexiglas window with your shoe (adidas) and tag one of the overhead bars with it, before returning to the (moving) floor: he's going to end his career on that pole the recurring sight of two kids dancing on the train for food money to an old familiar song [g-g-guitar] and at several points do standing backflips, as the train is grinding around a turn at high speed, rattling the door you're leaning on i can barely stand up shaking the floor, vibrating the windows, all while he's in the air, heels over head, before he comes down on the (moved) floor, on his feet, and you wonder i've got the power why he can do that and you can barely stand on the train ride home, barely keep your thoughts from sliding out the window, into the darkness of the tunnel, noodled with intermittent bright.
1. architectural investigation [excerpt]
architecture, in part, is like music, or theater, or love itself: it is not representational, it cannot speak of a specific truth, and if it does it is because it also always speaks of that truth's direct opposite, an untruth, an unanticipated reality. it is not about the structures, materials, colors, or any of the specific ideas that result in their organization, but about the edges around these things--the materiality and the ideaology alike--resisting anything except a fiction generated anew by each visitor.
g'night new york. see you in the morning.
oh, and i love you too.
tattoo sketch 4.3.
like the bookish boy i am, i brought several antique volumes on guatemalan orchids, african violets, and carnations, all acquired over several trips to new orleans, to show darren. like the new yorker he is, he multi-tasked: i was shuttled in to see him in his chelsea aerie, while he was inking tribal on the bicep on a lovely twenty-something puerto rican daddy in a tank top, while his equally lovely buddy watched with a look of pain. he wanted to chat about what i wanted while he was working.
so i was forced to unceremoniously give him the photoshop sketch, as well as a cheeky sketch done on a porn star with a similar body type, and open the orchid book. the place was hot, combination of the terrarium lights for his desert lizards and lingering hetero-male sexual energy, and i didn't have a place to put anything, all surfaces taken by ink, titty porn tapes, terrariums, and sitting people.
the discussion was the usual one for me, as there are two professions that i have difficulty addressing with my wishes, one being physicians, the other, obviously, tattooists.
i was coerced from my timidity by two things: his incessant questions, with all the answers i provided being the ones he did not want to hear because they were the ones that complicated the job. this forced me into a position not unlike ones i face with contractors on a daily basis, where i am in an oyster and am the source of endless gentle irritation that, if undisturbed, forms a pearl: having to convince an artisan that your idea is your baby, and your sole business is to gather his attention and get him to care about it as much as you, so that his execution becomes beautiful in a certain way.
"carnations? you want carnations? ugh, i hate carnations..."
[other guys laugh. this guy wants a bouquet of flowers? that's a girl's tattoo, right?]
"...because they have those small pointy leaves. if you want green, you won't get it with carnations"
[guys quit laughing. he's straight, but down with the gays and their tattoos. oops.]
"yes, but they have personal meaning."
[see the flowers project, and books about oscar wilde.]
"okay, okay. god. i can't argue with personal meaning. okay, set up an appointment and we'll draw it together."
the sensation where the car is sliding beneath you, sliding on the road, skewed direction, and you are steering, but your action has become disconnected from affect, and you enter the half-second that will be so easy to remember decades later, a sequence of emotion that, if resisted, will kill you, unless you let it happen to you, know to your very soul that your car is going to hit something, very hard, and live or die your face is going to hit the windshield.
my memories have been like this.
the flight patterns have changed. planes are over manhattan again, in a way that feels lower than before, every one a trigger for my recall, and i don't repress what happens next. i let myself feel the memory, the emotion, remember what it was, that plane, head on.
for some time it would happen so little that it may have been subcutaneous, in the span of a heartbeat. but lately, perhaps due to the enormous pressure i've been under at the office, or the fact that i need a vacation, or the impending presence of the towers of light, or the impending sixth month anniversary, or other assorted emotional bumps, my mind swirls around two towers i stubbornly refuse to not miss, around the sight of a jet fuel explosion emanating from the near side of a building, falling glass, an F14 doing a low tight bank around two burning structures, and the rumble of their demise, while on the phone with my mother, "the second one fell. i'm okay. what more can happen today?".
or perhaps somehow, this poem, seen on the train to work, has caused something to jostle loose:
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
and the memories i cling to more often, farther back but more difficult to recall, the clouds gliding behind two buildings while on lunch hour in a tribeca park, their presence everywhere, from a cab, from a balcony, from a sidewalk, from another sidewalk, from the air, always changing because they were so still, so mute, so dumb.
because wordsworth's sentiment is so beautiful and optimistic i believed it for a time, but after seeing it several times on the train, that great silver shaker of ideas, i began to question its truth, wonder what those soothing thoughts were, and when i will see them again.
alice tulley magnetic fields codicil to downtown conceit:
"a pretty BOY, in his underwear". yes, he emphasized it.
utterly magical "papa was a rodeo". listen to the lyric again and imagine it being sung in that hall ("what are we doing in this dive bar? how can you live in a place like this?"). imagine all the east village gang uptown for a second night in a row. imagine me wishing jonno boo had been there to hear it.
dudley. most especially "it's a crime", which he really cut loose on.
driving like i always drive, ready to miss the sign.
thinking, reading, dreaming about Whitman, but seeing caused me to brake on a road where Boston and New York emigrants race. the sign was small, a road sign, a sign which should have read Center or Elm or Cable or Bradford. not Whitmanville. i u'ed and made left.
what it that easy?
was my mind really so easily swayed by a shoebox sized sign planted in the gray weeds?
i was beyond such questions after driving in this foreign territory New England. It's a place familiar, yet whose image, that crazy yellow-beige tourist image that claims every corner of our world, is in exactly the same space and place as the wooden shakes which cover every building in sight, barn, house, barnhouse, and travel agency. It's like an old tattoo which has been made over another, faded tattoo. like typing the same word twice, or on top of another, like you could do with a typing machine, making the letters darker but slightly thicker, blurred, signaling the heasitancy as you read over.
when the landscape of ideas meets landscape of dirt, flowers, and grass, there is a collision. it lasts only a moment, an almost imperceptible moment, when the two places correspond. two letters get darker, the colors merge, mix, then in memory match.
the weeks and weeds at the corner of the sign swirled when i coasted on the gravel. road.
magnetic fields concert at alice tulley hall, lincoln center, ten blocks from my house. performing the first half of the 69 love songs (absolutely cuckoo to promises of eternity). highlights from last night:
my favorite theater, a modern one, in new york, in one of my favorite buildings in new york. the room sings.
dudley prefacing a wonderful acapella "how fucking romantic" with "i'll bet this is the first time anyone's sang THIS word here".
all the phoenix bartenders in the crowd, including the one who by pure accident thinks i'm stalking him.
every consonant heard perfectly from my second row balcony seat, complete with perfect reverb.
stephin putting extra emphasis on the line "and he's going to be my wife" (from "when my boy walks down the street"), the downtown conceit having extra power in staid lincoln center.
the grammy-nominated accordian player kicking up some dust on the weird-out for "love is like jazz".
anything shirly simms does, angel-voiced and filling the room.
stephin singing "promises of eternity" to the backing track on the record as the band walks off, one by one. it's the only song he isn't sitting for. he wanders out of a non-following spotlight and into the stage lights lighting the back scrim. song ends.
a very giddy after party at a very strange location. both nights.
having another evening of this, and having my favorite songs be in it.
ps all work in this domain is copyright chad the minx.