Monday, November 28, 2005

thanks for the yate, hold the bote

It would have been a nearly perfect travel experience, if we hadn't ended up sitting on the runway in Ft. Lauderdale for three hours, stuck and sweating. Finally we got back to the city, too late for P's class, missing my freelancer mixer sponsored by MediaBistro. Oh well. We're home.

So weird to leave early on Thursday with rain and freezing temperatures and end up with sun and heat. I mean, I was born in this place, grew up here, spent my family holidays and summer vacations in S. Florida. Who knew I'd become one of those snowbirds we always ridiculed.

P's uncle is rich, lives in a big ol house on Key Biscayne and, since all the many many rooms were taken up with aunts, cousins, nephews and grandchildren, he put us up in one of the many many rooms in the 100 foot yacht docked in the backyard on the Atlantic.

I mean, talk about strange. These are the homes and boats (or bote as they all called it) that we would see from a distance and mock and wonder who lived there. Now I was there.

In fact, we didn't end up in the yacht (or yate as I heard it called as well) since we arrived only a few hours before the big Thanksgiving meal. Unfortunately it had been hijacked by a gringa daughter-in-law and there were no frijoles or Cuban goodies, instead it was frou-frou stuffings (yes, two with tons of gourmet doo-dads thrown in for color and price) and cranberry sauce. Damn. At least there was homemade keylime pie along with the pecan and pumpkin varieties. Yep, back in Florida.

Being the first guy that Patricio has ever introduced to his extended family, I was getting all kinds of questions and trying to answer them all as politely as possible. Of course there were no less than four family meals with 20+ people at all of them, so I got bored with my own answers and would have started making up new, more interesting ones if I didn't think I would be seeing these folks again sometime in the future.

I was on "tio" duty, uncle to all the little cousins, babies, etc., playing games and watching them drool and cry. But it was fun. I get to play with them, their moms do the hard work.

I was a nephew as well -- got to see my aunts for a day along with my cousins and hear all kinds of stories that I was always too young for before. Plus, it was my first "outing" to relatives outside our nuclear family since I'd been forbidden to bring it up to any of them before. Hmm. What will the gossip be now?

The final meal yesterday was the Sunday family lunch, which didn't disappoint: arroz con pollo, sweet plantains, croquetas. And, along with my stomach bulging, my Spanglish vocabulary is just oh so grande. Gracias por everything.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

all access pass at 32 degrees

I was sitting in the audience at Avery Hall's auditorium on Columbia's campus listening to a top Latin American architecture critic speak and felt it. That tingle. That spark. Revelation. Access.

How did a poor boy from a working class background end up on one of the most influential college campuses in America, in one of the most influential and powerful cities in the world, listening to such profound statements and rubbing shoulders with such folks? Who the hell can predict such things but, as we listened to two men debate theory and such, two men whose books I've seen my amazingly talented, intelligent and gifted partner reading for the past few months, I finally realized a little more what it meant to live in NY.

Intellectually I could tell myself, "Yeah, NY is the center of the world." And I could posit a counter-argument that it was better to be on the fringe to attack the center. That anything was better than to be drowning at the center, the blackhole that sucks in all culture, all talent, all, everything. But then, when I finally realize that it is a place where everyone meets, passes through, lives, desires to be, desparately, oh so violently wants to be, feel it in my bones, on my skin, that's a different thing altogether. A power that I still can't quite process and will never truly ever be able to control. But at least I know it's there, it's palpable thing and to harness some of that force, it can maybe, just maybe, be used to my benefit.

Afterward I had dinner with Ben and he said he'd like to mention me to an editor of this journal, who is also the wife of one of the most important starchitects living on the planet.

Didn't he realize that this was little ol me he was talking to? Well, I have an interview after I get back from Miami for Thanksgiving. And may just be contributing my own thoughts and talents to some sort of cultural production that seems to matter to some people.

And then the following evening I got to an opening at MoMA for a new exhibit of architecture stuff. And there Ben introduces me to curators and rich people and movers and shakers. Yeah, there's a lot of hot air and self-importance being dished with the fancy spicy tuna rolls and free drinks, but I'm also hanging with someone whose work has been purchased and is hanging in the fuckin museum.

And afterward we go to an overpriced "regional American food restaurant" to celebrate the event. And there's of course Prada being worn and names being dropped and I'm sitting here. I'm in NY City, not in S. Georgia in a trailer park working as a plumber, knee-deep in other people's shit.

We go out for a nightcap afterward and I see that it's below freezing tonight. Winter is finally here but fuck the cold. I have so much to be thankful for. Let's just keep on moving and never stop. If you stop, if you close your eyes it may just disappear or I may freeze in my tracks. It could all turn to ice, get brittle and shatter to nothing. This is too real to be true.

Monday, November 21, 2005

all warmed up

Too much to say to actually get it down. Need time to think about things.

But safe to say that last night we had our first NY shindig -- our couch warming -- and it was great fun. Who knew we could fit so many people in such small confines. I guess it was lucky that several people were already off for the holidays, and although it seemed like we had too much nibbly food, it was all magically gone at the end of the evening.

Now what to do with those 24+ beers left sitting around. I'm sure we'll think of something.

You know it's a good party when P ends up spending part of the evening napping on the bathroom floor. He didn't seem to regret a minute of it as I got up early and left for work. "That stuff was so good," he grumbled, referring to the spliffs that showed up, and he actually smoked!! (the first time I've EVER seen him smoke something.) Boy needs to chillout.

But there's time for that. I hear there's some American holiday that constitutes a vacation coming up. Still means three days in the city to get into more trouble. Let's see what it'll be.

Friday, November 18, 2005

nipples and stuff

"OK I get it. Do we have to continue watching?"
"What are we waiting for? Blood? Does blood make it better?"
"Is that a female to male transexual? His pants sure look strange."

Some of the questions running through my head last night as I sat on the bleachers watching Mary Coble perform "Binding Ritual, Daily Routine."

She came out, wearing black trousers, nothing else, a stool at her side with a stack of three, very large rolls of black duct tape. Then she ripped a strip of tape (the sound was great) and pulled back her breast. Another strip, applied to the same breast and it disappeared. She'd successfully transformed half her body, covering her sex. The other side, same thing. It was strangely beautiful -- the shiny black tape against her white skin. Then she peeled the tape off. Repeat for two entire rolls, 1 and 1/2 hours in total.

I went through stages. First: it's a one-liner, I get it. No need to continue. I got the image of her covering then revealing. It was almost magical the first time, then it got mundane. Oh, her right breast must be the bigger one.

As her chest began to turn pink, then to glisten (sweat? no, I think that's the new skin she's revealed), I wondered, what were we as an audience waiting for? Were we the sadistic voyeurs waiting for blood? Why did we want to see her pain?

Then I thought, this would be nice with a mirror. If she were staring into a mirror, as if she were doing this at home. Then I realized, as she stared me and the others in the eye, daring us to flinch, to look away, that we were her mirror. She faced us and did this to see what it looked like by our expressions, our faces. Then I felt like this was incredible. Mary had taken our passive action, traditionally explained as the male gaze in feminist teachings, the gaze that objectifies the performer, the object being consumed and feminized us. She'd made us her mirror (can I get Lacanian here?) and thus feminized the dynamic between us.

And still she continued. I recalled the feeling I had when, in an Ashtanga yoga class, we performed 100+ sun salutations. A room of silent, sweaty people repeating the same action over and over. I also went through phases: this is easy, this is boring, this is going to kill me, this is amazing, will this ever end?

By the time Mary had reached the end of the repetitions, I was at the same place at the end of that yoga class: this could go on forever. I'd reached a trance-like state and wasn't even aware at first she'd finished. Then she left the stage.

When researching for the piece I wrote to preview the performance, I came across some blogs of artists/critics (I use both terms loosely) who posited that with performance you don't even have to be there. And people videotaped the performance, took photos, wrote words (including me). These others posited that reading or seeing images of the performance is enough. They're one-liners that don't need the live experience. Oh how they're wrong.

There's something powerful when the body is put through something difficult, dangerous, strenuous, boring. Something that creates a space that is more powerful than the mediation of words or pictures. It's something that needs to be felt or witnessed. Anything else is a poor subsitute.

Oh and there was blood, her fingers, right below the nails were torn and red. But you didn't see that unless you waited for her to come out later, a normal young woman, out of her performer guise. There were no pictures of that.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

my first gift bag from the gay fab

Last night was such a strange and interesting collision of worlds and attitudes, I'm still reeling from it and not sure how to articulate it in words -- either spoken or written. So I'll just quickly give the rundown.

1. OU Alumni event at the Rubin Museum of Art, created by a rich, old, northern alum. Beautiful space, saw and old boss/colleague, other friends my age and some new, cool alums in the city. Left there about 7:30 to head over to Williamsburg to catch an event I've written about. Drank: 2 free glasses red wine. Ate: some fancy cheese.

2. Show up at Galapagos for "This is Not the New Minstrel Show," a queer reading by young poets and fiction writers. In the front room was a musician/performer Taylor Mac. First he was strumming on a ukelele, singing a song about Lynn Cheney's lesbian novel, while dressed in a lowcut frilly dress that exposed his man chest, a crazy blond wig, his face painted pink and white with sequins. I was in love. He was opening for Bitch, formerly of Bitch & Animal. In my excited state I approached the tall man in drag and said, "What's your name? You're GOOD." I wanted to stay and see Bitch but I had told another friend I'd go to this book release in the LES so I got on the L and headed over to Manhattan. Drank: 1 Brooklyn Lager in a tall, fancy glass ($5). Ate: nothing.

3. First I talk to this guy on the train who I'd seen walking around at Galapagos and find out he's this Arab performance poet and will have an event next week. So I miss my stop and get off at Union Square. I walk down down down and then go to the wrong street, have to double back and I'm at the beige event at the Bowery Bar. It's the book release for this guy Ari Gold. I don't know who Ari Gold is but, as you can see from his site, he's an "international recording artist." And there's this coffee table book of portraits of him taken by other famous friends: Boy George, Kevin Aviance, Joe Phillips. Shelly is there were her entourage of gorgeous boys (one originally from Douglasville) and I'm like the stupid neophyte. "So who is this Ari guy?" "Why would someone want to buy a coffee table book of pics of one guy?" "Who is he again?" I have to say, it must have been one of the most shallow, pointless, inane events I've ever attended. And people loved it. I enjoyed being right up in front when Ms. Aviance peformed, but the rest? Where the hell was I and why was I missing crazy, alterna performers for this? Drank: two free patron sunrises. Ate: many slices of free white pizza, calamari and other things being passed around.

Also got a gift bag with postcards of Ari Gold. A CD of Ari Gold remixes. Sweatbands from David Barton gym. A Sam Adams opener. Well in fact, I have two of all these things cuz somehow I had nothing and then Shelly snagged two and we were out the door to smoke a cigarette.

Now I'm still wondering what is up? And why do I hate gay men so much? And why do I love gay men so much? Perhaps it's the contrast, and I've never lived in a city of such contrasts. And now I just have to figure out how to better cross those boundaries and not be blinded (or suffocated) by the light.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

and a couch to sit on

Last night I left work early and got home right in time to see our brand new leather love seat being delivered. It fit in the door (which was a worry) and fit perfectly in our cozy little abode.

Seemed appropriate since today is our three month anniversary of moving from Barcelona to put down some roots in New York for a few years. A couch seems like home.

Patricio says I corrupted him and brought him over to the ways of the sofa sitting. When I met him he had no furniture except for a long work table and a computer chair, slept on a futon on the floor and kept his telephone in a closet (which he didn't answer). I found all this incredibly bohemian (especially for Greenville, SC) and sexy. When I first visited him we watched a Russian propaganda film called I Am Cuba by projecting it on the wall and sitting on the floor. I loved it.

While living in a furnished apartment in BCN, it was his first experience at having a sofa. It was cute, leather and very Euro mod. We ate our dinner while sitting there (since our dining room table was converted into his desk), watched our German MTV while sitting there. And yes, even had sex once or twice while sitting there.

So when we got to NYC he said he wanted a sofa. This was a big psychological step for him. It seemed to be admitting he was nearly 40, bourgie and no longer boho. So, of course, since he's an architect as well, it had to be perfect. We started looking around but were disappointed in the selection of potential places to rest our asses. Then we found this place that has nice, simple, cheap(ish) furniture and fell in instant love with this little love seat that would actually fit in our place. We bought it but found out that it would have to be made in the Canadian factory, shipped and then delivered. 5-6 weeks for delivery. Talk about delayed gratification.

But yesterday I got the call, had it delivered a few hours later and we were finally sitting on our silla de amor. Unfortunately both of us had engagements so we both left promptly and didn't get to watch any movies, eat dinner or have sex on our new mueble. But there's still time. We're not going anywhere.

Monday, November 14, 2005

high rising

This weekend I came across CL's extensive coverage of the Piano expansion at the High Museum in Atlanta. Then I read the Times' piece on it.

Is it just me, or does this sound like one of those rare, incredible moments when everything seems to be going right? I can't wait to visit when I'm in town over Xmas. Anyone want to step it to the High with me before Heidi's wedding, come on along.

Now if my man can just get the money together to get that Calatrava thing built, Atlanta may be back on track when it comes to culture and its infrastructure. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

body art

"Um. Why does it seem you have some fascination with seeing women do strange things to their bodies?"

That was my friend Jennifer's question (from Lowndes High School days! We still haven't seen each other in person but it's been like 10 years since I saw her in the flesh) last night when I told her about my plans to see Mary Coble on Thursday after writing this piece. And I guess it could seem that way.

Later I saw Jamil and Sarah (friends from BCN living nearby) at a bar down the road and also told them about Coble and Abramovic's piece at the Gugg tonight where she will eat honey, drink wine, break a glass and carve a star in her stomach before laying on a block of ice and under a heater until it melts. And Jamil cringed. "I don't like torture. Like I REALLY don't like torture." I guess I don't see it that way but can see the visceral response and what much of performance art seems to be tapping into.

On Saturday I spent about 5 hours listening to curators and critics discuss performance, or at least try to create a language to speak about it. What really hit home is that most radical new changes in the art begin with a performative act (even DaVinci was a performer to hear it told). And there's something basic and powerful about using the body instead of a mediating tool like paint or photography, music or words. It's also one of the few art forms that resists the market and can't easily be bought or sold or even shown.

And really, if a man was doing strange things to his body I'd be there just as quick. Believe me. Just doesn't seem to happen as often.

Friday, November 11, 2005

my second orgasm

Last night P and I arrived fairly early at the Guggenheim although you couldn't tell since it had been pitch black since about 4 in the afternoon.

But the seductive idea that we would see Marina Abramovic recreate Vit Acconci's 1972 performance piece "Seedbed" was enough to get us out into the brisk (finally feels like) winter night.

The seminal performance artist is performing "Seven Easy Pieces," a different performance piece each night, through Tuesday but this was the one I most wanted to experience. Originally Acconci under a stage masturbating while people walked above and he spoke epithets through a microphone, how would it be interpreted by a female performer for a 21st century artist?

Not that well in fact. We walked into the Gugg's rotunda and immediately heard soft whisperings and saw people queued to walk on top of Abramovic. Or we assumed she was down there. The white, snail-like stage could have been empty but the young girl caressing the boards and boy stomping to get her attention were hoping otherwise.

Something about the piece doesn't translate well. It felt more like bad phone sex than aggressive, in-your-face art. 30+ years of sexual liberation, and internet sleaze, hasn't allowed the piece to age well. And something about a woman masturbating and softly muttering (a more passive act perhaps?) doesn't feel as disturbing as the outward slapslap of a man with his penis.

P was most disappointed by the stage (ah, what an architect) and felt it should have been more tactile, sensuous, perhaps moved and reacted to our walking instead of being so inert and boring. "We should lick the stage," he said. He's always trying to get his students to lick architecture and did get one pretty close to doing it to a Romanesque Spanish church.

It's strange saying we went to see Abramovic, when in reality she was transformed into a big, heavy piece of staging like in some sort of mythic transmutation gone wrong. I guess we went to hear her.

When, after 15 minutes of listening/watching her breath got quicker and she moaned in a high, piercing animal-like wail, it illicted laughs. "She's faking," I said to the woman next to me, who nodded in agreement, although she seemed less sure.

"That was my second orgasm," Abramovic said in her husky, Russian-accented English. And that was just 6 p.m. She had 6 more hours to go. To our delight an artsy girl licked the speaker and left in a rush. A bit anticlimatic really, but a great time to make our exit as well.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

exito!

Just as a quick update: Mainers (cuz that's what they're called) soundly rejected the question 1 on their ballot and thus retain sexual orientation as a protection against discrimination.

So, do those few hours of calling strangers after 8 hours of work feel worth it. You betcha.

Unfortunately Texas went even further Right. Ouch.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

lace panty dilemma

Just got a call from the temp agency saying they have a job for me -- at Victoria's Secret.

Now, I do have a bit of a fetish for lacey, pretty underthings, but do I want to spend my days entering the data to keep the website updated so all you ladies can get your hot little number at the click of a button?

I seriously need help here. It would be an indefinite position (meaning I could be there til spring or longer if I wanted) and it pays ok. Or do I wait for something even better? Or do I just leave them in a huff when I get a better gig?

Oh, who knew that women's britches could be so complicated.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

scholastic-tastic (call me dulce perez)

It's been a while since I posted something, not because I don't have anything to write about, but because I have had too much to write (most of it paying gigs). Plus, getting home each night from my latest temporary temp performance at the big childrens' book publisher in SoHo has just left me exhausted.

Today was my final day at 20 dollars an hour, tomorrow I'll go back to TimeInc and take it easy for a lot less. While at Scholastic, I was entering the names of thousands and thousands of children from ages 8-15 for various contests and sweepstakes. I have to find something enjoyable about what I'm doing, no matter how mind numbing, so of course I began to record the whacko names kids have been gifted by their oh so wonderful parents.

So:
Scarlett Eagle
Chance Johansen
Dulce Perez
Uriah Washington Beverage
Joseph Bocanegra
Cheyanne Summersalas
Wyatt Horn
Baby Rubi
Jayne Bebee
Mrs. Sukie
Nathan Pond
Joseph Schoolmeesters
Ree Feery
Alexus Tistle
Grace Ahnne (that's a first and last name, not two firsts)

and, last but not least

Precious Henderson

these kids' names got me through the day. They live in places like
Maybee, Michigan or Nenana Alaska and are taught by people like Mrs. Sukie. Oh, dear, dear Mrs. Sukie.

Perhaps best was Caleb Meadows who, if he had one question to ask an astronaut, would ask:
"Did you feel closer to God when you were in space?" of course it was in his mom's handwriting and he attended Kingsway Christian School. Oh, poor, poor Caleb. God? No, honey, I felt further away from you! Now give me a hug you little boogie bear!!

But now that's all over, it's back to magazine racks in Safeways across America.

In celebrity siting updates: Lisa Loeb leaving the Chelsea Container Store (Sat) and (Sun) Julianne Moore rushing down Hudson in Greenwich Village (she's just as radiant in real life).

Last night I volunteered with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force calling a list of names of potential voters in Maine to urge them to vote NO on Question 1 (an attempt to repeal an anti-discrimination ordinance).

So I called 20 Cheryls and 20 Christines and about a dozen Charles but my favorites were the Chesters. They were all very well-informed, old geezers. Until I got to the widow of the Chester who died three years ago. But she said she'd vote nonetheless so that was a plus.

Maybe I'm through with names for a while.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

runts (and I'm not talkin the candy)

My baby has been working too hard. You know, all fun and no play...makes a student get way too cranky.

So after attending an architecture lecture with Rafael Moneo (snoozefest) we headed down to the East Village to Nowhere bar to meet up with Gayest Neil for the Runt party hosted there every Wednesday by Stephen Merritt (you know, Magnetic Fields fame?).

A party for "Runts and their Runters," P was hoping for some serious short man action. You know midgets on the bar, working their little person go-go magic. I too was having a run of pequinitos (as little guys are called in Spanish) before leaving Spain, and have a true attraction to those guys that maybe measure 5' 4" or so. Alas, not to be had. In fact, as the placed filled up and we relaxed into the groove (99 cent beers helped), it turned out to be a bear-fest with lots of cute, furry, chubby guys. I'm average gay height (5' 8") and most of the guys were larger than me, their heads brushing the ceiling.

We did get a cute T-shirt out of it. I know I'm a dork, but Stephen handing my P a Sex Runt t-shirt was adorable (of course he didn't know or care who it was). And who knew Stephen Merritt was that short! I've only seen him on stage. When I mentioned having written a story about him (one of my first ever music freelance gigs for "The Scene," a failed attempt by CL to get more alternative), he kind of ignored me. Guess talking about the fact that he's in a band and all during his party is not cool. So we switched the topic to the fact that there was a serious lack of short in the room. And it's a perfect bar for it since they've dropped the ceiling to like 7 feet or something so you're kind of in a small, basement atmosphere. It's also the first time I've really missed smoke in a bar since it just doesn't have that sleezy, dive atmosphere without watery eyes and ucky tobacco stench.

The most interesting people we met were of course some beautiful cool lesbians. And of course, one has a blog. We were already planning on a return trip to Nowhere on Friday to meet up wtih a friend's friend and they said they'd be there on Saturday. Looks like we may have discovered our new local, which is not that close, but has the right kind of people and the best vibe in town. Just send in the Freaks, I mean Runts, next time.