Reading: Finding Patrick Ryan

Over the holiday weekend I read three books, 2 of which I will describe in brief at the end of this:  SCREAM, by Tama Janowitz; and PALE FIRE, by Vladimir Nabokov, and then, one of those books that fill a reader with joy, the pages of which introduce you to a new author to whom you can turn when you need to say, “AHHH, this is what writing is and reading should be!” I start with this:

THE DREAM LIFE OF ASTRONAUTS, by Patrick Ryan, hardcover, 272 pages, Dial Press

dream-life

Click on cover to visit Patrick Ryan’s website

Behold the first thirty-four words of The Way She Handles, the opening story in Patrick Ryan’s collection, The Dream Life Of Astronauts:

“Late one night during the summer of Watergate, I was in bed reading a Hardy Boys novel by flashlight when a car pulled into our cul-de-sac, its headlights sweeping the walls of my room.”

That sentence tells the reader at least ten things about the narrator and one thing about the writer; he’s incredibly gifted. I was so enraptured by the promise of the opening line, I hesitated to read on, fearing disappointment. Instead, I found a new favorite author.

I suppose I ought to have expected as much since the book was blurbed by Ann Patchett, no slouch in the writing department herself. And I then discovered a chat between the two on her Parnassus Books site. Click here for that. 

The Way She Handles is about four lonely people, isolated together, which is less oxymoron than miracle of writing, managing to capture the damage people do to one another just by virtue of proximity. Like many of the stories in the collection, members of these fractured, fragile families Mr. Ryan so vividly captures, resent one another, often for an absence — whether it be physical, there is much abandonment herein, or emotional, in that those others we love seem never to appreciate enough how we love them, what we do for them, what we’ve sacrificed for them.

The title story, The Dream Life Of Astronauts, is one of the finest, most moving, layered stories I’ve read since Elizabeth McCracken’s Thunderstruck collection. In it, space-nerd Frankie, who is sixteen, almost seventeen, is awe-struck by an almost astronaut he thinks he is stalking; but who is pursuing whom and what they both gain and lose in their misapprehensions about one another make for a tale both hilarious and horrifying. When we meet Frankie again, much later in the collection in a treasure called Earth, Mostly, well, I wept.

Part of the genius of this collection is that while each story stands alone, they all take place near Cape Canaveral and some of the characters reappear, having changed (rarely for the better) in the way people do when you’ve known them for long years but haven’t seen them for ages; upon recognizing them and realizing who they were and what they’ve come to you gasp the “Oh, shit, that could be me,” sort of panic.

Like Bonnie Jo Campbell in her glorious collection, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters [click here], Mr. Ryan imbues his characters with a native wisdom and a real-life, real-people, day-in-day-out acceptance of their lives and realities. They may have tragedy, they may have regret, but they go on, they trudge, they cope through the terror of life in lower-middle-class America, where all the dreams and possibilities politicians are always blathering on about are pretty much acknowledged to be the things that happen to people not like us; happiness is a thing mostly out of reach.

I loved this book. I cannot recommend it enough. Which was a nice feeling after the two books I read right before it.

SCREAM: A Memoir of Glamour and Dysfunction, by Tama Janowitz, hardcover, 304 pages, Dey Street Books

This was a terribly depressing memoir to which I was led because a few people I know on Twitter were talking about it. But, yuck. I quote;

“I found rotten people to be more interesting. What made them the way they were? Thankfully, I found that even nice and decent human beings are pretty rotten as well.”

One can imagine the sort of unhappiness and bleak existence experienced by someone with that cosmology. I feel sorry for her. I’m sorry I read this. And, not only was it unpleasant, but it was poorly edited with many repeated lines and fragments of semi-stories and bitternesses. Just — no.

And then, in my never-ending quest to prove autodidacticism is a viable alternative to a degree, I decided I just had to read what was recently called in print “Vladimir Nabokov’s genius gay classic”;

PALE FIRE, by Vladimir Nabokov, Hardcover, 239 pages, Everyman’s Library, 1992

Clearly, my lack of formal education has rendered me unable to appreciate what others (many, many others) have called an ingenious masterpiece of form and structure. Well, okay. But, let me tell you an embarrassing little tale about my writing. Once upon a time I wrote a weekly column and theatre reviews for a small on-line magazine. Its publisher invited a former New York Times editor to workshop with us and he said to me; “Do me and all your readers a favor, confine your masturbatory urges to your private time. If you’re working that hard to prove to us how smart you are, we’re never gonna believe you anyway. Dial it back.”

Of course I got furious. Of course he was right. Now, I am NOT comparing myself to Nabokov, but it strikes me that Pale Fire wasn’t written for — as Dorothy Parker called us — The Common Reader, but rather, for other writers and graduate students enthralled by the technical aspects of literature and rubbing-one-another off about how clever and intellectual they all are.

Listen, I’m not much interested in flipping back and forth and deep-deep delving into a book to appreciate its genius. Truth: I’d rather jack off myself.

Later kids, Love and Light.

 

 

 

Reading: The Swans of Fifth Avenue

Swans of Fifth AvenueThe Swans of Fifth Avenue, by Melanie Benjamin, Hardcover, 368 pages, January 2016, Delacorte Press

I’ve always had a weakness for celebrity gossip. While I claim the mantle of politically-correct (more below) socialist-libertarian-egalitarian, count myself among those who believe capitalism has run amok, a behemoth become evil empire overseen and heavily-hand-ruled by a small cabal of venal, heterosexual white men who are determined to enslave the rest of us and lay waste to equality and democracy, much of my righteous indignation comes from the truth that I am poor, will always be poor, and have never had a path to gain foothold among the haves and one-percenters. There is little doubt I would gladly have compromised my morality for a Fifth Avenue apartment with a view and the opportunity to hobnob with the upper echelons of society, to rub elbows (and anything else to which they’d give me access) with the beautiful people.

It’s that aspirational acquisitiveness that makes novels like The Swans of Fifth Avenue so seductive. Reading this novel’s pre-publication publicity, I’d hoped for a juicy roman a clef in the Dominick Dunne tradition; his Vanity Fair columns (most of Vanity Fair, come to think of it) and novels like The Two Mrs. Grenvilles, A Season In Purgatory, An Inconvenient Woman, People Like Us, were thinly veiled exposes of people we commoners — the hoi polloi — had always envied but could, thanks to Mr. Dunne’s admittance and spy-work, now also pity and pooh-pooh and sanctimoniously tsk-tsk, patting ourselves on the back that we did not indulge in such malignity, malice, and evil even as we wished with all our avaricious little hearts that we could have those Porthault linens and hot, available, sexy chauffeurs and lawnboys.

Well, I’d still sell out for a Fifth Avenue view, high-thread-count sheets, and available and willing hunky, horny servant types — you can’t get much commoner than am I — and so I thought I’d have more fun reading The Swans of Fifth Avenue than I did. And damn damn damn this evolution of self, since I didn’t, I have to figure out why.

For those of you who read “reviews” for synopses, here’s what the publisher says:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The author of The Aviator’s Wife returns with a triumphant new novel about New York’s “Swans” of the 1950s—and the scandalous, headline-making, and enthralling friendship between literary legend Truman Capote and peerless socialite Babe Paley.

Step-Ladder Stool Sunday

StoolIt is Sunday. Newspaper day. As a child, I spent most Sundays with my aunt, Sissie, in Libertytown, where came the Washington and Baltimore Sunday papers. They would be sat upon a red-metal step-ladder stool, where they’d stay until the next Saturday. So busy was Sissie’s life of caretaking and working that it often took her a week to finish them. She read every word. She didn’t want to waste anything.

For some reason, I am missing that stool today. Which is just another way of saying I am missing Sissie. Today I miss her because I did something stupid last night that she would have turned into a story about how special I was. Am. No, I’m not, you see. Not since she’s gone. Which is why I miss her – I need someone to convince me (or delude themselves) to believe again. To take me into a world where my Twitter profile is closer to the truth.

There, in my Twitter profile, I hubristically proclaim myself the love-child of Jane and Paul Bowles. Which also has to do with Sissie.

Bowles Jane Solo

Jane Bowles

I did not discover this spiritual lineage- indeed had never heard of the Bowles – until 1981, when the damaged, tender boy-man I was had flown home, prodigal-nephew-like, to my aunt, Sissie, landing neither for the first nor last time on her doorstep in a state of spiritual dishabille and despair. That boy I was knew he’d be welcomed there, knew he would have no need to beg forgiveness there, because there, in Libertytown, there, with Sissie, he was not capable of sin. We – Sissie and I – fell easily (again) into our private world. She was someone who but for the vagaries of the needs of others might have been (should have been) Edna St. Vincent Millay, and having sacrificed herself on the Catholic-altar of duty and convention, determined – fairy godmother-like – that the same would not happen to me; she would foster my inchoate genius and mordancy, her plan being to treat me as if I’d already become Truman Capote/Tennessee Williams/Marcel Proust/Dorothy Parker and thus was excused the expectations of polite society and obligations of real-world adults.

With her, for her, to her, I was a star.

We spent – some might say we wasted – many decades and dollars on this literary, faux-Algonquin Round Table fantasy of ours, and it was 1981 after my having run-away from whatever it was in my life that had crushed me then – the details are hazy now and my journals are lost somewhere in a storage unit at the moment, but I recall it vaguely as being about my younger sister having left the East Coast for a Hawaiian idyll, Tequila-sunrises in plastic pitchers, and men who sported chest-revealing, Quiana shirts emblazoned with Marilyn Monroe astride a swan – to California at the behest of friends who thought I’d find solace and my heart in San Francisco.

Not quite.

I did discover Barbara Cook and my incompatibility with yet another culture – the gay one – and a paralyzing fear of earthquakes. After a Californian Thanksgiving-weekend spent with a soldier my friends picked up for me when I dissolved into weeping having spied him sitting alone at the restaurant where we were all pointedly not having turkey, and his explaining as he left on Monday morning that we would never see one another again – he thought I’d understood that – HA – that is something I have YET to ever understand,  even when trading fake names and stats with Craigslist and Grindr tricks post-tryst – I flew home.

Not a star. To anyone. But, Sissie. And like Sissie not having been Millay, I was, then, on that return, not Armistead Maupin – another name added to the list of all those I had not and would not become.

Missing, then and now and still and always – or, so it seems, here in my implacable decline – the point that I might have spent less energy trying to be those others and more being just myself.

Bowles& Mrabet

Mohammed Mrabet & Paul Bowles

That post-Californian-Thanksgiving-soldier-return, that not being Armistead Maupin adventure in fail, was the one during which Millicent Dillon’s biography of Jane Bowles, A Little Original Sin, was published. Sissie and I read a review and bought it and I devoured it in one of those hardly-any-sleep, blizzard winter weekends when the world went silent and the wood stove kept us warm. After that, I delved into the collected works of both Bowles, obsessing, wanting my own shady, exotic Tangier-ian lovers who I would share with their wives.

Careful what you wish for. While none of my poor choices were from Tangier, there was much sharing – and hiding – and while I didn’t approach matching Mr. Bowles artistic output or gift, when one compares our habit and pattern of messy emotional involvements with needy lunatics – well, I’ve said enough.

Enough. You see? Without Sissie, without our wood stove, deep reading, shared-discovery weekends, without our papers piled on the red-metal-step-ladder-stool, I have devolved into this lumpen mass of myself – and there is so little of me left – such energy I have spent trying to be those others, trying to please so many others – I can’t focus. I can’t find where I am – was – should be?

waugh bridesheadrevisitedAnd so disconnected am I from reality, so busy trying to be other, that last night I set all the clocks back an hour. Why? Because I am such a delusional Anglophile that the majority of people I follow on Twitter and the websites I troll are located in the United Kingdom. So, all day yesterday I kept reading about and being reminded to set back the clocks, unaware that I was being fed these things by U.K. sources. It took me until 9:30 this morning and a not pretty bout of raging at my laptop and smart-phone about how NOT smart they were for not re-setting as they ought – that I realized what I’d done.

Sissie would have said, “Well, you really are British at soul, anyway. Very Evelyn Waugh Brideshead Revisited and Noel Coward. That’s why.” And made me feel all sorts of all-over powerful. As if my idiotic behavior was somehow a gift, a blessing.

I miss Sissie. And I want that stool back. It, like my journals and my belief in myself, locked away somewhere, in storage, waiting for me to find a place I can call my own home again.

Sunday. Bloody fucking Sunday.

 

Yesterday did not go as planned . . .

Yesterday did not go as planned.

That, perhaps, should be the title of my memoir. Although, as a result of all the many yesterdays having not gone as planned — whether those plans were of my devising, my family’s, the Catholic church’s, or the expectations, ought to haves, could haves, and should haves imposed upon me by the lengthy and rotating-like-a-soap-opera cast lists of significant and not-so-significant (which is a very different thing than insignificant) others who’ve made appearances in the narrative of my life — I’ve not achieved eminence enough to merit a memoir.

But, the Kardashians have a television show. So, there’s that.

And while I did not out-Capote Truman nor inspire a gender-switch re-write of Funny Girl or Gypsy nor become the first American Pope nor succeed at that Isherwood-Bachardy thing I thought I had going, I have managed to cobble together a sort of flaneur-extra-man/walker (although, mostly what I walk are dogs as opposed to the wealthy widowed) existence that affords me plenty of free time not to finish my next novel.

But, yesterday did not go as planned. You would think that a person whose main occupations consist of idly observing life go by while reading books he wishes he’d written and actively vying for the favor of Duchess Goldblatt in her Twitterary Salon (click HERE to follow her on Twitter, though I hasten to caution you; Her Grace MUST love me among the commoners BEST and MOST, and should I suspect this NOT to be the case and you its cause, your life isn’t worth the paper on which my first novel was written), watching Frankie seduce one after another “straight” man on Big Brother 16, and trying to beat Kindle Mahjohngg, would be copacetic in the face of schedule changes.

You’d be mistaken. Things came up yesterday requiring my presence and attention and so I did not transition from one house/pet sitting gig to the next at the EXACT time I had determined I would. I the course of this upending, I visited the actual physical location at which I receive mail and subpoenas and in my absence some long-lost relatives (as in, amongst the ones who’ve disowned me) had visited and, too, had arrived a box of effects from my recently deceased sister.

That box. Those things. When I was a wee thing, all holy and blonde and beautiful and filled with hope – no, more than hope, BELIEF – I believed there was an order. And, too, I believed  I would be loved – no, more than loved, SEEN. I was a brilliant child. I entered first grade already reading, thanks to my aunt Sissie, with whom I spent Sundays in the huge, deteriorating family home in Libertytown (coincidentally the title of my unsold novel). Across the street was another huge stone home, this one definitely not deteriorating, and in it lived the Whites. Mrs. White was one of those portly, everyone’s mother, embracing, visionary sort of women who ended up teaching at St. Peter’s Catholic School when I was in third grade.

By third grade, they didn’t know what to do with me. The Sisters of Notre Dame had suggested to my mother that I be skipped ahead grades and she — having done so as a child and been left feeling socially disadvantaged by it — had said no. The Sisters of Notre Dame then suggested I be sent away by the church to a Jesuit boarding school. Again, no. Thanks to my mother, I was never given the opportunity to become the favored boytoy for some hot Jesuit seminarian-semen-arian genius.

My mother had a love-hate thing going on with the Catholic Church. She’d converted in order to marry my long-dead father — a conversion that would have been a death sentence had my father not driven into that telephone pole. She’d have kept following the tenets of the faith, popping out progeny long after doctors told her to stop or die. She wasn’t supposed to have had me. But she had (and even managed to pop out my younger sister a mere nineteen months later, which was, alas, two months AFTER the telephone pole intervened) and she wasn’t handing me over to the church. In retrospect, I don’t know that the good Sisters of Notre Dame really wanted to pimp me out to the Jesuits so much as, like many other people in my life, they just didn’t know what to do with me. There wasn’t much they could teach me that I didn’t seem already to know and so, I spent my third grade year helping Mrs. White in her first grade classroom. Although quite well read and educated, Mrs. White was entirely untrained and unequipped for teaching. She could not maintain order. She could not move from one to another child with ease, I think it always felt like walking away to her, and she didn’t grasp that some children — most children — were not – like me — well-behaved, terrified automatons would sit and quietly wait their turn for attention. Mrs. White became involved in every exchange at great length, in great detail, close and touching, affectionate and nurturing like one of the kind women of fairy tales, determined to change each life completely, to inculcate total understanding, to bestow happily ever after on each of us.

I was her aide, and, in many ways, ran the class. Talk about socially disadvantaged. I wasn’t just teacher’s pet and sissy (and yes, you can imagine the confusion when I was first called “sissy” — approximately my second day of first grade — and not knowing at first that a word I’d up until then thought only as the name of my beloved aunt, Sissie — meant something else entirely, something awful and ugly about the way I walked and talked and thought and was that I must hide at all costs or pay this price — but that’s another story) but now, I was, in third grade, an actual teacher.

Ahead of my time, even then. At the end of that year, Mrs. White, on a Sunday, called me across the street to her home — as she often did — and gave me a gift, a little Hallmark book called, The Gold of Friendship. Inscribed. The next year, the archdiocese closed the school and I was sent into the wilds of public education, where, in essence, I stopped learning anything in school but how to hide from being called derivations of fag. Within three years, by sixth grade, I was living a double – maybe triple – life. Still posing to some as the cute, the holy, the intellect, while leading a louche secret life of smoking, sexing it up, and readying myself to get the hell out of Frederick County, the Catholic Church, and the bodycast into which my family and culture had tried to confine me for what they thought was my own good.

And Mrs. White was dead.

Years later — citing some offense I can no longer recall — I gave Mrs. White’s gift to me to my sister Peggy, complete with new inscription and notation of the date when Mrs. White had died (another story I cannot tell today) and now, in that box I saw yesterday, yesterday that did not go as planned, there it was, sent for me by Peggy’s husband.

August 5 book 3August 5 book 2August 5 Book 1

And, too, among other things, pictures of the happy family. My mother, father, and my four older siblings.

August 5 FAMILY

You know what there are none of? Family pictures like this taken after I was born. Well, that include me. In the seventeen months during which both my father and I were alive, no family portraits. I’m not there. Then, of course, he died, and two months later my younger sister was born. So, what there never could be — never will be — are family portraits with my parents and all six of their children. We didn’t all exist at once.

And now, there will never be another picture taken with Peggy. Not that there ever would have been. My family has fractured. Another yesterday that didn’t go as planned. I saw that fucking picture yesterday and I just got angrier and angrier.

Why wasn’t I in it? Peggy, lower left corner, she looks old enough that I must have been born. Right? I mean, where the hell am I?

And the chest pains started. The feeling that my innards are like a towel someone is wringing to squeeze out the moisture. Tighter. And tighter. I can’t catch my breath. WHERE THE HELL AM I?

Flaneur? Pretty word for failed. At acting. At teaching. At writing. At loving. At everything but sitting and watching. A walker? The walking near-dead. Extra man? Yes, as in “one too many” and go away.

Where am I? Not in that picture. For sure. Not in any picture. For sure. And as I kept slamming down wine last night and feeling sorry for myself and chatting in Duchess Goldblatt’s virtual salon I realized, HERE IS WHERE I AM. In my blog. On Twitter. I have at long last found the literary milieu for which I have always longed … my own little Jane and Paul Bowles, Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne, Dorothy Parker and gin, Edmund White and anonymous, younger trade-tricks, group of droll, epigrammatic, acerbic, supportive, brilliant pals.

Here is where I am, going. And while all my yesterdays did not turn out as I planned, well, I’ve the bad (or good?) luck and genetic misfortune to have — somehow — this unshakeable optimism, this belief in the existence of grace (and, her Grace, the Duchess – never miss a chance to pander) which makes me tired and sad to my core; all this believing in the face of all this proof of nihilism and hopelessness in the world is exhausting, especially when, time after time after time, I am left out of the picture.

Later, friends.

 

 

WTF Sitcom is this?

As a hope-filled, sweetly naive, good Catholic boy, I truly believed that my adult life would be like Anne Marie’s on That Girl

or Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, although, eventually I came to realize I would, more likely, be Rhoda Morgenstern.

Who knew that, instead, I would end up more Hazel

and Gay Uncle Knows Best?

Please, KILL ME. I mean, could I at least get The Courtship of Everyone’s Back-Up Father?

No. Not even that, when it comes to Bill Bixby roles, I am assigned only The Incredible Aged Repugnant Rejected Hulk.

FML.

I have not been having a good week (life) and so have been spending even more time than usual buried in books. In bed. In fact, I was invited out of my bed by someone and declined, citing my mood and my need to read upon which was remarked, “But people are more fun than books.” To which I said — only to myself and my books — “In what fucking world do you live?” But before I could say some nicer version of that, the next line, “You know, some people do other things in bed besides read.” Well, yes, I know, but the shape of that sentence pretty much guarantees that thus will never be the case for you and me. I replied, “Gotta go. I’m having a three-way with Elizabeth McCracken and Michael Cunningham.”

And I was (and am) reading Elizabeth McCracken’s brilliant Thunderstruck and Michael Cunningham’s so-far perfect The Snow Queen. They are both so completely and utterly and nearly beyond comprehension beautiful works of art, I am terrified to return to my heart and keyboard ever again to work on my novels. And, not for nothing, why the hell can’t I meet someone who thinks reading in bed IS FUN?

READER 2 reading 2 reading

Oh dear.

Thus far this morning I have spent an hour honing my serial-killer of family formicidae persona; spraying, sprinkling, squashing and baiting. This makes me a formicicidist, which is, I suppose, better — although certainly less rewarding than being a nepoticidist, ambicidist, hospiticidist, or parricidist, all of which I have seriously considered in the past week as possible alternatives to the meditations, medications, mendications and mediations which have failed spectacularly to cure me of my massive and yet somehow ever growing depression these past few decades.

I suppose we all knew that the “cide” at which I’d eventually and inevitably arrive would be “sui” oddly appropriate in that it is a homophone for a pig call, with which, apparently, my pleas to the universe for understanding, mercy, love, even a small fucking break, have been confused and so have been drawn to me, one after another sounder of swine. Yes, a group of wild pigs is indeed called a sounder, and, noisy as my pathetic life has been with all the oinking and butting and filth-leaving behind done by many of my herd, that, too, is wildly (and loudly) apt.

So, after the formiciding, I moved on to the cleaning of a pee-stained wood floor. One begins with a vinegar wash and scrubbing, then on to wood floor product application. In short, I’ve spent the morning on my knees. In fact, I am, as they say, reduced to being on my knees pretty much permanently, in a complete state of utter spiritual, emotional, metaphysical, existential supplication.

And tomorrow, I’ve to make a red velvet cake. Yet again. I have lost track of the number of recipes I have tried which have failed. Tomorrow I’ve another. In addition to which, I’ve a devils food with peanut butter icing cake to make. And two varieties of macaroni and cheese await making as well. This is a big family dinner weekend. Please, protect me from any sort of “ciding” during that. I must say, all the siding that has already been done by the family unit has pushed me closer to sui than ever in the past few years anyway. And, in fact, no matter how the cakes or mac and cheese turn out, there will be criticism from one or another quarter, after a lifetime dynamic of which, you’d think I’d just stop listening to it, but, alas. I HEAR IT.

What I miss, with all this hearing and noisiness and sorrow, is the silence I used to share with some people in my life; silences of complete understanding. There were silences filled with you knowing what I was thinking, and I knew what you were thinking, and we loved one another so much that words were not needed and betrayal not a possibility. Then you did what you did and made it into something about what I did and there is no taking back all that “did” – ever, for anyone, and the silences now, well, just silent. And for that, I think, there can never be real forgiveness. From anyone.

Harris, Neil-patrick-harris-goes-totally-full-frontal-naked-for-rolling-stone-01I have to go. The gym is calling. The latest picture of Neil Patrick Harris has destroyed me. Although my only ambition now is to die (and I have been having quite a lot of chest pain which once even snuck into my left arm, so, hope springs eternal – although, not for eternal life, that’s just bullshit) if I have to stay alive, I am determined to look as much like NPH as I can, which means I will never be able to ingest another carbohydrate nor leave the gym. Which is not good in this regretful, self-pitying, cidal mood in which I find myself; as I said earlier on Twitter having already suffered two rejections during the early (way-too-early) hours of this dreary — ant-filled — pee-stained floor — woke up at 5:30 in the morning kind of fucked up awful very bad day:

No carbs combined w/regret & suffered by an aging gay man in a gym locker room result in catastrophes even Cher can’t undo.

Indeed.

 

READING: “Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful?” by Kenneth M. Walsh

Wasnt-Tomorrow-WonderfulI’ve never actually met bloggist  Kenneth M. Walsh, but I have long checked in with him every morning at Kenneth in the (212) [you should as well, CLICK HERE] and now, with the publication of his memoir, Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful, I feel as if we are best friends.  How did this happen? Let me explain.

It isn’t only that he has ties to my hometown of Frederick, Maryland, or that his brother works in journalism here, or that another brother has authored books on grammar and usage to which I frequently refer, or that Kenneth is gay and roughly in my age cohort, or that he’s attractive both physically and mentally, with the kind of sensibility and humor I enjoy, or that he had courage and spine and balls enough to live a New York life I always wanted but never got to; no, it’s not just any or even all of those thats.

What that is it, then?

This that.

Once upon a time I was a youngster who knew I was not like all the others. I felt alone. Isolated. I found solace in my aunt, and in the interests we shared, interests in which she encouraged me. I found my voice in theatre, mostly musical theatre, and when I couldn’t be someone else on stage, I lost myself in reading. My aunt introduced me to Dorothy Parker and Helene Hanff and Jane and Paul Bowles, and soon enough I found Joan Didion and Renata Adler and Fran Lebowitz. I kept journals, full of story ideas and tragi-emo-diary tales and – before I even knew what they were – my own personal essays. I discovered my forebears and betters like Montaigne and Sarton and Mencken and Benchley and Rorem and . . . you get the picture. I became an inveterate devourer of essays and worshipper of those with the ability to pithily sum-up life experiences – particularly those who’d employ a gift for the apothegmatic turn of phrase – in a few thousand words, shaped like fables: beginnings, middles, ends, moral.

Mr. Walsh is a pro at just that. He has stories, funny stories, well told, and the details and colors lavished throughout and within are both apt and “aha” – as in, “Oh holy shit, yes! I remember that!” Listen to little Kenny as he heads to a movie theatre where he is hoping to be abducted by a serial killer (Yes, you read that right.);

My stomach was in knots as we drove to the cinema in my stepdad’s brand-new black Malibu Classic. The anticipation was nearly unbearable, I was becoming light-headed from my mother’s cigarette smoke and the overbearing smell of Gary’s Wild Country cologne. Avon began selling his favorite scent in bottles shaped like chess-pieces that year — Mom bought him the whole thirty-two-piece set — and it seemed my stepfather had splashed on an entire rook that night.

That paragraph tells you everything you need to know about a particular family in a specific place during a distinct era; the Malibu Classic, the cigarette smoke, the Avon chess-piece bottles. Perfect. Walsh encapsulates many other eras and experiences with equal finesse and insight, taking us with him on his journey from small(ish) town boy to Manhattan-ite, child to adult,aspiring  Buffy & Jody wanna-be to author and editor in New York City.

Walsh has the gift of capturing the passing zeitgeist with the tossing-off of one perfect cultural reference — be it Buffy and Jody from Family Affair (for me it would have been The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, but, that’s me) or Toni Tenille (I’m a Karen Carpenter guy) or who was cuter on Beverly Hills 90210‘s first incarnation, Dylan or Brandon (Walsh says, “Brandon, obviously,” but I am fonder of Dylan because I saw his dick on Oz and it seems just the right size whereas Brandon is famous for having one of the hugest cocks in Hollywood and I just am not a fan of such – uhm – largesse. I prefer a boyfriend dick.), or Shaun Cassidy (speaking of huge dicks, he and his brother David) or porn-star Mike Henson (with whom he lived and who was the star of the first porn video I ever saw) or Patty Hearst (I, too, collected Hearst kidnapping clippings until my mother insisted I throw them away) and . . . well, Walsh is a pop-culture treasure-trove, a trait I love, almost as much as I love being friends with someone who is happy to be naughty when called for, sassy, and able to make me laugh. A lot.

The culture has changed and we don’t anymore gossip with neighbors over the picket fence, or have those leisurely, meandering phone chats. We no longer have time to explore. We are busy. We spin. Not just with activity, but we spin our images. We become our social media profile, all of us the curators of our public personas as well as the information to which we expose ourselves, choosing from here and there that to which we attend, that which we post and re-post and borrow and morph and those we choose to spin and read the info for us. We are closer to and know more about people we have never met than we likely do about people we see all the time. We each live in our own imaginary, arranged world and we choose who we invite in.

Each morning, I invite Mr. Walsh. I am interested in the things about which he spins, and his spin is just my style. So, this memoir – which is really less memoir and more an arrangement of revealing personal essays that give a window not just into Mr. Walsh’s life, but, too, the world in which we all have been living during his lifetime – was, for me, like a friend sharing a few drinks and dinner and moving from acquaintance/friend status to near BFF.

Even if your life – unlike mine — has not been strangely similar to Mr. Walsh’s (wow – that syntax would drive Kenneth and both his copy editor brothers to distraction) in your social anxiety disorder, your sharp tongue juxtaposed with an “I weep at commercials” sensibility, fear, a pre-pubescent preference for middle-aged female friends, your memories of that private-parts-tingly-bits feeling when, as a ten year old, one got “butterflies in my stomach whenever the elastic band on the other boys’ Fruit of the Loom briefs became exposed when we were horsing around on the playground,” and your desire to live in a world the borders of which were Studio 54 as guarded by its hot doormen and populated by Liza Minnelli and Halston and Warhol (oh, my!) — you will still love Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful.

Why? Because, like Parker and Montaigne and Rorem before him, Walsh takes episodes from the life he has had the courage to live, that world he has gone out into and explored in ways most of us have not, and he has made them universal. He’s found the commonality of human experience in his days and his nights and his loves and his hates, and he has made them into amusing prose. And he has given them to us as a gift. The gift of friendship.

So, no, I’ve never met Kenneth M. Walsh, but, even so, he’s one of my BFF’s. You should have a glass of wine or a meal with him too. Buy Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful today at your local, independent bookstore. My pals at The Curious Iguana in Frederick [click here] ordered mine for me, and Mr. Walsh put a photo of me buying it on Kenneth in the (212) [CLICK HERE] which made me feel all butterflies tingly and famous. Nice guy. Of course, he wouldn’t be one of my imaginary BFF’s were he not.

Waste no more time, get yours and sidle up to your virtual picket fence and chat with Kenneth in whatever area code you happen to inhabit.

About the man who touched me last night … and god and Brando and Bankhead and Bacon … quick thoughts between chapters …

Sometime late last night, or, early this morning, something I never dreamed might happen, happened. Armistead Maupin chose to favor me. Technically, in digitechnosocialmedia-speak, he favorited the Tweet in which I’d written:

The Days of Anna Madrigal by Armistead Maupin. Oh Joy. Oh Tumult. Oh other worlds to which to escape. ThankYouThankYouThankYou

Armistead Maupin. Favorited. Me. I was reading The Days of Anna Madrigal late into the night. I was Tweeting out things she said. Like:

I don’t make up things, dear. The truth is hard enough to sell.

Oh my, I am really going to miss her. But, one of the advantages of aging is that one forgets, or, more accurately, begins to remember selectively, and, on occasion, with passionate reverence. Reading Days, the final book in the Tales of the City nonet, has wakened memories of all the decades during which I read the preceding eight volumes, and all the people I have been, known, loved and the places and times we lived together. I confess, last night, the great pleasure and joy of Days was accompanied by the melancholy of people and places I missed, and the thriving, real relationship in the book between Michael (Mouse) and Ben left me in a state of longing both for some of the relationships I did have, some I didn’t manage well, and, worst of all I think, those I will never manage now.

Then Armistead (I feel we are on a first name basis, now) Favorited me. And it was all better. Well, better anyway.

So, I can’t stay long because I am luxuriating in a day during which I have nowhere to be and no one for whom I need do anything. It is me, my books, my space heater, my coffee and tea, and leftover sushi & Chinese from last night’s delivery. And the final 13 Chapters of Armistead’s The Days of Anna Madrigal await me. I suppose part of the melancholy is that I think – I suspect – I am in my final few chapters; things feel as if they are ending, somehow – difficult to explain, and unlike with Tales of the City, alas, when I am finished these last few chapters I cannot go back to Book One and appreciate it again and better from the start.

Make your days count children. And now, the random photo essay inspired by my Anna Madrigal reveries.

Bankhead, Tallulah

When I find myself getting lost in the past, on days when tears are shed from unexpected memory assaults, I become melodramatic and illogical, and my frame of reference sends scud-plosions into my consciousness. I often am uncontrollably considering myself one or another Tennessee Williams fragile tragediennes; most often, Blanche DuBois. Last night, it was Miss Tallulah Bankhead’s Blanche I thought most like me in that, though the role was written for her, she turned it down (read about this here), and when at last she did play it, well, legend has it that it did not go well, although after reading a letter from Mr. Williams himself (CLICK HERE) – it seems that is not completely true.

Still, I think me, a Blanche done badly. And there is no Blanche without Stanley, and there has only ever been one Stanley.

Brando, 24, 1948 Streetcar PublicityI still love my Brando. Despite the fact that he was a self-centered ass, someone who seemed to love with overpowering passion and devotion – until it was no longer convenient for him, and then disregarded people with cruel and calculated disdain; despite all that, I still believe that there was a damaged core of vulnerability and light and good, true heart that meant to be kind, that meant to connect, but fear and an inability to trust devoured him and made him hide his true self behind facade after facade.

Which thoughts resulted in, “Stop with the gone and the dead, where are the here and the living?” And, somehow, there was Russell Tovey. Just because.

Tovey, Russell in Brando modeAnd this photo just LOOKED so Stanley-esque. But then, no sooner had I thought, “Oh, Russell” then did I remember that HE TOO, like Jeremy Jordan,  is on the list of fellows that damn Jonathan Groff (about whom I bitterly complained yesterday, HERE) has gotten to do with-

DAMN YOU GROFF!

DAMN YOU GROFF!

– oh well and anyway, Russell is only 32 so – but wait, Mouse and Ben have decades age difference in Tales of the City and Isherwood and Bachardy did too, and, come to think of it, Armistead Maupin and his husband, Christopher Turner, also quite an age difference. I mustn’t be ageist. Well, I’m definitely not, but, maybe, wait … someone older. How about I’m the younger one. How about, Kevin Bacon?

Bacon, KevinBacon, Kevin 2

He’s older than me. A little. Or, Keith Carradine. He’s older than me by more than a decade.

carradine, keithCarradine, keith 2

Oh, who am I kidding? No one is who I am going to be with. I’m on the last chapters. So, enough melancholy and if I’m going to fantasize about people who will never love or be with me – and better to fantasize then spend years pining in real life over real people – then it might as well be – well – here –

brando stellllaaaa gif russel tovey Hough, Derek Sailor

 

… reading … Hilton Als’ “White Girls” … “we can not see things on purpose for just so long…”

Hilton Als, White Girls, 340pp, hardback, McSweeney’s (CLICK HERE)

When Junot Diaz calls your writing “utterly extraordinary” and “the read of the year”, you hardly need me to say anything more about it. But when have I ever let a little thing like enough having already been said stop me from saying more? And, making it about me?

whitegirls_coverI am ashamed to confess that prior to a number of book-sites “best of 2013” lists, Hilton Als existed only on the periphery of my literary-awareness. I could probably have told you – if pressed – that he wrote for The New Yorker and New York Review of Books, but I could not have said with certainty what of his I had read.

I can tell you now. Only, I can’t.

I can’t because Hilton Als (GO TO HIS WEBSITE – CLICK HERE) has a voice like no other. You have not read anything like White Girls before. It does not fit into a niche or genre. It is not easy. It demands of you that you think, that you feel, that you question and process and allow yourself to be moved.

White Girls is like a lover you didn’t expect to have, doing things to you that you have never had done before, taking you to that place at the edge, the limit of your nerve endings, past the hum and thrum to the scream and the shake and sensations so strong that what is left when Als has finished with you is an exhausted numbness, a pleading for time, a moment in which to catch your breath and rest your weary mind. And then you pick up White Girls and start again from the beginning.

And as it is with that unexpected lover, the experience is personal. Als is inside your head and buttons are pushed, but those buttons are private. I cannot in the allotted space explain to you how Als’ recounting of particular kinds of love – love affairs of mis-matched soul-mates – brought me to tears, both in the opening piece, Tristes Tropiques, and in the next to last piece, You and Whose Army?. Listen:

Lucien: Baldwin’s Swiss piece carried over from Paris, where they met in the early nineteen fifties, in the days of cafes and such. And as is the case with most relationships in which queens fall in love with someone so pointedly different – which is to say someone who is essentially straight – Lucien loved Jimmy but didn’t want him.

… and …

We can not see things on purpose for just so long. Later, Cancer Bitch asked Lucien how he could put his body in a situation that wasn’t exactly what he had in mind, meaning how could he separate his body from his mind, what people laughingly refer to as their desire – how could he put his body, which eventually became her body, in the way of Jimmy’s cock? After all, she didn’t have a cock, or much of one to speak of. And Lucien said, What makes you think any of those things are separate? Jimmy loved me.

Oh god. Oh fuck. That first sentence ALONE is worth a lifetime, “We can not see things on purpose for just so long.” It is genius. Pure truth so true it hurts stabs like something too cold but so delicious I can’t stop ouch fuck me brain freeze genius. Like Joan Didion’s first sentence in Play It As It Lays genius. (And, by the way, Als quotes Didion in his New Yorker review of Tennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie latest Broadway revival – you see where I am going with this – Hilton and I, we are – wait – back to HIM) Oh he gets me. By getting Jimmy and Lucien. Oh my truth writ large. And unwritten. Unsaid, still. My Lucien(s) not so agile of tongue. Well, wait. I mean – you see? I can’t SAY what I mean. But, Mr. Als, he can. He has. He did. And that it happened to James Baldwin. And that Hilton Als has written with such clarity about it. And what is even more clear is that he, too, has been there. Not done that doing that done for so not that why can’t it be that I am done. Well. Yes. Truth.

He knows truth. listen:

Since the root function of language is to control the world through describing it and most Americans are embarrassed by their will to do so, language is made palpable by being nice.

From a piece about Louise Brooks. Yes. I know. And how to tell you what it meant to me that he made reference to Daisy and Violet Hilton. Montgomery Clift. Flannery o’Connor. Truman Capote. Lily Tomlin. LouLou de la Falaise, the Gaiety Theatre … and so much more.

But, not the point that he takes note of the same cultural markers that make up my emotional and autobiographical frame of reference – no. The point is that he makes me think about them and see them in new and different ways. No. The point is that the “new and different” ways in which he makes me see and think about them have been nascent – germinating but unable to emerge.

Hilton Als writes truths you’ve always known but never knew you knew; he exposes, uncovers, reveals, like magic, with words, syllable by syllable, weaving spells of syntactical brilliance that open sesame your mind in entirely new ways and show you who you are; who we are, why it is what it is.

Genius. Read it. NOW.

friday … saturday … sunday … weekending … weak-ending …

My last day at this house/pet sitting gig.

I have just spent thirty minutes erasing the evidence of my presence; disposing of the empty wine bottles and delivery-food containers, washing the sheets and towels I used, consolidating into a semi-organized storm-pile the myriad stacks of books, notebooks, clippings, reference materials, charging Kindle, non-charging phone, lap top that I have spread all over this gorgeous antique-wood kitchen farm-table located by plantation shuttered windows (I LOVE this house) I use as my desk.

Why? There is a house cleaner on the way, and I needed to tidy up before she arrived. Which started the following loop in my head:

“And so he killed himself, the final straw having been the classist guilt he felt when turning off the alarm system and opening the door to the Crate and Barrel, Williams Sonoma, Pier 1, Ethan Allen catalogue-looking home he was being paid to sit in order to let in Rosario, the house cleaner, and the voice in his head looped into ‘Goddamn motherfuckballz I am more likely to BE a house cleaner than HAVE a house cleaner – or a house.’ Which gave way to, ‘Not that there’s ANYTHING wrong with being a house cleaner. I mean, I’m a house SITTER. But if I HAD a house I could not possibly hire someone to clean it of Latin descent because it is just too Lifetime television. HOLY FUCK I AM A RACIST.'” 

You see where this is going? And even as I am THINKING the above (and guilt-ridden-ly type-confessing it in an email to one of my few remaining friends) I am wondering – CAN I USE THIS IN THE BOOK OR MY BLOG?

And, scene.

Carry MeSort of. The Sunday New York Times is DELIVERED here so I don’t have to go driving all over town looking for it. Which is good. Because my paralyzing agoraphobia has kicked in. I am – officially – depressed. Again. Motherfuck. I NEED SOMEONE TO CARRY ME. WHY CAN’T SOMEONE CARRY ME? I HAVE CARRIED A LOT OF PEOPLE. CARRY ME GODDDAMMMMIT. I mean, of course, someone who looks like George Clooney. Or, you know. OH FUCK. I have felt it coming on for a while and been fighting. Really. Fighting. HARD. But, the universe seems determined to plunge me into sorrowful, rueful reflection.

How? Well, “Echo Springs” – which I loved (read my review here) was all about alcoholic writers, and while I was prepared for the Tennessee Williams (I know, I over-identify with everything about Mr. Williams, most especially – I am such a cliché – Blanche) and F.Scott sections (and – confession – not a big Hemingway fan, so that didn’t much get me) I was not at all prepared for the John Cheever section to move me – gob-smack me, even – as it did. In particular, I knew NOTHING about his later in life liaison with a younger writer he mentored, Max Zimmer (although, in “Echo Spring” he is mis-identified as Max Zimmerman which seems odd for a book so carefully wrought, but, there we have it) with whom Cheever fell into that sort of disastrous love of the kind where one BELIEVES one is dealing with the soul of another, only to find, later, that the other canNOT deal from the soul. After it was over, years after – Zimmer re-wrote the life-story and said Cheever had disgusted him, that Cheever had manipulated and coerced him. In fact, that seems mostly a lie of Zimmer’s, in fact Zimmer was probably the one manipulating and coercing, in fact Zimmer had come on to Cheever’s son. Anyway – reading about this – hurt.

THEN, reading Barbara Vine’s “The Child’s Child” and its brother/sister despairs and the travails of a character, homosexual in the early twentieth century, who falls hard for a fellow lesser educated, less worldly, a fellow who eventually turns on him, betrays him, and laughs at the way in which he loved, using and mocking and belittling and finally killing him – again, into my very core, my soul: Bad. Lacerating. Hard.

And too, I spent the day watching ice skating, which has ALWAYS made me cry. Not sure why. I have forever been enchanted by the magical gliding across the ice. And I am OBSESSED with Meryl Davis and Charlie White and felt their record breaking sixth national title had something to do with me personally. BECAUSE I AM INSANE!

Ice Dancers

I will be watching it again today. Men. On ice. Which is the only way to have them, yes? But do I want Brown or Dornbush? Either will do. Or, both.

Jason Brown Richard_Dornbush_lwcppdra_ll5rkeke

And then tonight, Golden Globes. If Tatiana Maslany does NOT win for her multi-roles in “Orphan Black” – I may do something ugly.

orphan-black-tatiana-maslany-tca

Well, as long as I can do it without going outside.

hilton_alsIn the meantime, I have started reading Hilton Als’ “WHITE GIRLS” (HERE IS HIS WEBSITE – CLICK IT) and that, too, struck me like a slap. First of all, the prose is fantastic with a voice entirely unique. Second, again, someone is ravaging my head and heart and writing about it better than I could (apparently – since I have been ignored by another batch of literary agents – please shoot me) – listen, from the opening paragraphs:

The truth is, I have not been myself lately, and for a long time. … He is my second but longer-running we. This did not come about without its share of relationship noise. I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to apprehend – in the blind, awkward, and ultimately solipsistic way many of us strive to articulate why the beloved has become just that – how SL came to fill my mind like no one else on earth.

… With it all though, though, I know I will lose sight of SL eventually. I have before. To the movies and movie kissing. To his love of women. To his interest – unlike me – in the plural aspects and manifestations of the world, from its vastness to its multitude of worms. To his politics. To his various subjects (he is a photographer and filmmaker). To his migraines. To his social drinking. To his lack of interest – unlike me – in delineating who we are. To his lack of interest in speaking of our friendship – our twinship – to anyone at all. To his lack of interest – unlike me – in seeking anyone’s validation for what he thinks or feels.

WOW. That is simply and complicated-ly glorious writing. And describes much of my life. Too much.

And still my fucking phone won’t charge. And I can’t seem to DO ANYTHING about that or all the other things about which I need to DO something. De. Press. Ion. But, I DID manage to change my Twitter background from a picture of me outside the Algonquin (from years ago) to a picture of me in the White House Press Room, sitting in the New York Times press seat. So, the day is not a total loss.

DC Jan 2014 3 NY Times Press Seat at White House CROPPED DC Jan 2014 3 NY Times Press Seat at White House

Although, it’s not over yet. Give me time, I can probably fuck it up worse than I have. It’s not even noon yet.

 

… i happen to like new york … so quit DESTROYING it … oh, and naked priests and fratboys

Last evening I had one of those epiphanies of the not-very-lovely variety. I will spare you the details except to say that it started while standing in five degree weather at a gas pump and reading a rude unto purposely corrosive and belittling message on my phone and continued as if orchestrated by some evil force in the Universe with messages that didn’t come and Tweets that did and realizations that I was not and would never be something I very much thought I wanted to be and, worse, I was addicted to wanting that “state of being” in that particular circumstance in ways that were quite damaging and not only not affirming, but, destructive. And …

Today, I woke up with a cat on my head.

Well, not technically ON my head, but right by my pillow, purr-snoring away. A couple of things about this;

  • 1)Last night was my first on this house/pet sitting gig and usually night one is marked by an inability to sleep soundly. Nope. Tucked in at midnight, intending to breeze through some samples of books I’ve let back up on my Kindle, made it through one and was off to dreamland (which is no reflection on the book – which – SURPRISE – I bought.)
  • 2)I am not REALLY a cat person. Felines are all too like recalcitrant, presumptive, stubborn, sneaky teens and just when you relax into thinking one can be trusted, the claws draw blood. In addition, I have stayed with this cat before and it has had little interest in spending any time anywhere near me – which is okay with me – so I was SOME confused when I woke at 5:30 to its purring by my head. (I went right back to sleep and didn’t get up until 7:30 – which is ALSO odd, since my two doggie friends here – in the past – have asked that I rise no later than 6a.m.)
My buds, all three sharing the couch, and through the doorway you can see the kitchen table - i.e. MY OFFICE - piled high with my books and bags of writing supplies. LOVE THIS HOUSE!

My buds, all three sharing the couch, and through the doorway you can see the kitchen table – i.e. MY OFFICE – piled high with my books and bags of writing supplies. LOVE THIS HOUSE!

So, weird – though not unpleasant – energy is coursing through me and this house. My friends also have “gotten” that I read and write from the time I get up until late morning, early afternoon and have relaxed themselves, allowing me my work time. That’s all three of them on the couch we share later in the day and in the evening to watch T.V. – speaking of which

Evan Peters - my future husband - and Jessica Lange - my future BFF -in AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN

Evan Peters – my future husband – and Jessica Lange – my future BFF -in AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN returns tonight. I’m ridiculously anticipatory about this.

So, I woke up thinking about New York … I know I still haven’t finished sharing my thoughts about my pre-New Year’s trip, which is why I woke up today thinking “NEW YORK” and I meant to tell the tale but first, I had this COMPULSION to hear Cole Porter’s “I Happen To Like New York” and who better than Audra McDonald (CLICK HERE TO FOLLOW HER ON TWITTER) to sing it? Here you go. You’re welcome.

Who doesn’t love New York? (That’s rhetorical. If you don’t – or you know someone who doesn’t – please, don’t tell me. Although, if I can remain friends with Republicans and Evangelical Christians, I guess I can remain friends with people who don’t like New York City – but, really? Maybe not. There have to be LINES DRAWN.) But it’s disappearing. Nina Garcia (CLICK HERE FOR HER TWITTER) sent a Tweet this very morning linking to an article on Gothamnist about the closing of a Barnes & Noble. READ IT HERE – TRAGEDY!

Tragedy like THE ALGONQUIN HOTEL which has been DESTROYED by the Marriott Corporation. I cannot – CANNOT – tell the entire story yet because it is still KILLING me – but suffice it to say that from the moment I walked in and saw the bullshit furniture with which Marriott had seen fit to pollute the lobby and then had to wait nearly thirty minutes for a drink – which I REALLLLLLLLLLLLLY needed after seeing the so-called updating that had been done by some tasteless, corporate pretend-designer – I was (and remain) flabbergasted and – well – look at this:

The godawful rug and table and lamp - those tables and lamps are THROUGHOUT the lobby - WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GORGEOUS INDIVIDUAL LAMPS AND TABLES FROM BEFORE?

The godawful rug and table and lamp – those tables and lamps are THROUGHOUT the lobby – WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GORGEOUS INDIVIDUAL LAMPS AND TABLES FROM BEFORE?

The so-called chandeliers - I MEAN WHAT THE HELL - which my companion said put him in mind of anal beads. Yes. That.

The so-called chandeliers – I MEAN WHAT THE HELL – which my companion said put him in mind of anal beads. Yes. That.

And as if these HORRID and UNCOMFORTABLE chairs weren't bad enough - all over the lobby - ugh - WHERE ARE THE OLD ONES? -these "new" ones are already torn, tattered, and exposing their cheapness - ARGHHH!

And as if these HORRID and UNCOMFORTABLE chairs weren’t bad enough – all over the lobby – ugh – WHERE ARE THE OLD ONES? -these “new” ones are already torn, tattered, and exposing their cheapness – ARGHHH!

I can’t go on. I will describe the whole HORRIFYING Algonquin Hotel experience later. Some day when I can do so without wanting to slit my wrists.

In the meantime, I needed a laugh this morning after all this disappearing New York City of my youth breakdown. I mean, I used to FIT in New York City and the Algonquin. Those were my places. Those were my people. Now, where do I go?

orthodox calendarWell, I have NEVER had any use for sororities or fraternities. To me, they were (and are) discriminatory organizations meant to affirm those habits of exclusivity based on gender, race, class, and some level of assumed superiority and qualifying difference of class or “our kind of people”-ism which just further inculcates the biases and bigotries of a fascist patriarchal hetero-normative society and its traditions of classism, sexism, racism, homophobia, etc, etc, etc . . . Feel the same way about almost all religions. In fact, feel the same way about almost any group. So, imagine my delight to come across (so to speak) the following two videos. The first is from BuzzFeed about an Orthodox Church Calendar (CLICK HERE) – and the second is from The Daily Grind about a frathouse I might actually enjoy being a part of (CLICK HERE)

Yes, so, I’m thinking . . . I have this great reputation for being responsible, reliable, supplies his own liquor and loves them like his own house and pet sitter – so, maybe, just maybe, there’s a frathouse somewhere that needs a sitter? I’ll bring my own liquor (and I am a giving person – so I’d probably share) and with any luck at all … instead of waking up with a cat by my head, I’ll wake up with a fratboy in close proximity – now that I could pet.