READING: Books are my religion . . .a lesson from Ann Patchett

A LONG INTRODUCTION . . .

Charlie Smith 3

I am inserting this picture, taken the day AFTER I posed with Ann Patchett, because in THAT photo I look HUGE and AWFUL — and so, I wanted to prove I am still a hipster cat-burglar who gyms it up 6 days a week.

Apologies (and thanks) to those asking if I’m okay and why my entries have been so infrequent. I’m immersed (not to say, drowning) in yet another edit of “LIBERTYTOWN” and, too, a couple of other writing projects which came banging at the doors of my brain/heart/soul, even as I hid away, weeping, whispering, “There’s no one home!” Somehow, the stories and words inside me, or, floating around me, or, something, will not let me do what I’ve been trying to do, which is to surrender to the fact that in the same way I was not a Broadway star, not the first American Pope, not someone who was ever going to be successfully in a love relationship, not someone with an actual income and home of his own, I was also NOT A WRITER. Which, is an overly long (SURPRISE!) way of saying, “I’M TRYING TO WRITE AND I CAN’T BLOG WHILE I’M DOING THAT!” I spent hours yesterday trying to finish ONE SENTENCE, and I never really did – it is slow going, my dears. In the meantime, I am reading. And, since this is sort-of, sometimes, supposed to be a Book(ish?) Blog – thought, “Ok, I’ll catch up with that!” So, here I am, going.

CATCHING (YOU) UP ON MY READING . . .

Ann Pachett and Charlie

This is Ann Patchett after I told her I stalked another writer, and still, she bravely posed with me. She is a wonderful, lovely person – radiates warmth, wit, intelligence, and a glowing goodness.

Monday, March 23, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Ann Patchett. She was the featured speaker at Frederick Reads, and not only was she smart, charming, funny, brilliant, engaging, and fun, she gave book recommendations and said (far more eloquently) “Books are my religion.” Mine too. In the days since, procrastinating while I ought to have been editing, I ventured to her Parnassus Books site [click here], and from there, her blog [click here], and in doing so realized I’d not spoken about what I’ve been reading since January when Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You [click here], rocked me. I am still talking about it, talked about it and wrote down the title for Ann Patchett even. But, I have read 23 books since then, and here, in brief, we go, highlights only.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE LAST 23 BOOKS

M.C. BEATON’s AGATHA RAISIN SERIES

I am a huge fan of the Agatha Raisin mystery series, written by M.C. Beaton and edited by Hope Dellon of St. Martin’s Press. I read #6: Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist; #7: Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death; #8: Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham; and #9; Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden. Every visit with Agatha is like Continue reading

Pentimento, palimpsest, memoir, memory (lies).

I recently said, “Eventually all is pentimento and palimpsest; truth is in the muddle.”  The sentiment was prompted by feeling the too familiar sting of  having been misunderstood, my words taken the wrong way, having given offense. Too, I am living many lives at once, layers of me, disconnected, what people know of me at wild variance, much divergent pieces of me out in much divergent worlds, and I wonder if there is a whole picture, an entire Charlie, somewhere. If I wrote his story, told the story that made me all these layers, how many people would have cavils and disagreements with it? Quite a few, I know, just from my recent history during which I have been surprised, horrified, delighted, appalled, shocked, comforted, terrified, elated, saddened, and gobsmacked by the stories I have heard have been told about me (which is another issue entirely, that “friends” feel the need to tell one these horrors, which is why I stay in my batcave most of the time, contenting myself with Twitter-folk and books), by the things people have felt free to say and do to me. And I am but a small, unknown person here in the hinterlands. What if I had been someone famous? Someone published? Which gave me to think of those books that introduced me to the words pentimento and palimpsest. Thus, this.

I was in my early teens when first I read Lillian Hellman’s Pentimento. I do not remember what made me need the book, but there definitely was a compelling reason for its acquisition, because, back then, I did not yet have the luxury of stacks of to-be-read nor regular access to a reasonably stocked library. I had only a small allowance from which could be acquired one paperback every two weeks if I bought nothing else — near impossible for an early teen, even one as reading obsessed as was I — and my aunt, Sissie, who bought me books whenever we managed to reach a bookseller together, which was less than one (this one) would have liked as neither of us drove and the nearest bookstore was in Frederick, an impossible fifteen miles away.

I suspect the purchase had to do with Hellman’s as yet unsullied reputation as defender of free speech and heroine of the HUAC-revolt. I fancied myself a revolutionary at the time because I was secretly (or, undeclared – it wasn’t, in retrospect, much of a secret) homosexual but planned to rise up and change the world. Mind you, those changes had nothing to do with gay marriage or equal rights, but, rather, an amorphous, gender-free ever-after in which it would be possible for me to play Fanny Brice in the revival of Funny Girl. In the end (and please, let the end come sooner rather than later) my revolution has been Continue reading

My Year in Reading, Sort of: 2014 Highlights

reading falneur

(HOLY HOLY HOLY — UPON PUSHING THE “PUBLISH” BUTTON, I WAS INFORMED THIS IS MY 700TH POST ON THIS BLOG?!?! SOMETHING ABOUT THAT STRIKES ME AS … STRUCK. LOL)

Reading is my passion.

I’ve found great comfort and solace in reading. Reading took me to worlds I longed to visit but could not otherwise reach. Reading educated me. Reading saved me by making me aware of  possibilities and lives and loves I could never have imagined on my own. Reading gave me New York, the Algonquin Round Table, the Bridesheads, Jane and Paul Bowles, Helene Hanff, gay men, Fran Lebowitz, Andy Warhol and Studio 54, the Beats, the Bloomsbury Group, the Violet Quill bunch, and, holy of holy, as is Stephen Sondheim to my musical theatre jones, so is Joan Didion to my reading addiction. I actually think that without Joan Didion — and all the others — I would have killed myself long ago. Truly, I think it is reading that has kept me alive.

I’m not sure how much a favor to me that has been but that is another blog.

BooksReading has been my escape. Reading has been my constant lover and friend, my companion through my entire life. My memory may be going but I can still tell you where I was, approximately how old I was, and what was going on in my life when first I read HARRIET, THE SPY and JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH and DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE and Proust — okay, I’ve never actually finished Proust — but I can tell you all the times I bought new translations, new versions, why I did so, and what they looked like. I have in storage not one, but TWO CARTONS of versions of Proust and books about Proust. And I can tell you that I first read Joan Didion in Saturday Evening Post magazines I stacked and date ordered in one of the rooms in the abandoned wing of Libertytown, that room with the blackboard still on the wall left over from when the house had been an academy for wayward boys, that room I — the most wayward and lonely of boys — had Continue reading

ZeitBites: Links and such

I spend such a lot of time reading and exploring the on-line world, wanted to share some really cool stuff with you. And some cool pics. (Oh, and P.S. before the fact – I’ve updated my Links Page — check it out. CLICK HERE)

 

Williams, Tennessee and Brando, Marlon

Tennessee Williams and Marlon Brando – I’m in love with both of them in so many ways; they are the stuff of my fantasies.

 

Here is an interview with Elizabeth McCracken — if you know anything about me, you know how much I love and adore Elizabeth McCracken. She’s currently on a Twitter-break, which is horrifying and like losing a friend, but she is on break so she can write more, which is wonderful and like knowing a long-desired present is on the way. So, plus, minus. OTHERPPL ELIZABETH MCCRACKEN INTERVIEW [CLICK HERE]

 

Angel Wings ripped out

This photo study of wings ripped — in theory — from an angel — started me on yet ANOTHER story this week. I have an angel obsession — despite my lack of belief in them. Oh well, I don’t believe vampires exist either, but still, I love reading about them.

 

And here’s a great piece from a site I just discovered via a Twitter-friend. The site is called Cafe and this piece is by Deborah Copaken and titled How I Got Rejected From a Job at the Container Store. [click here] It’s incredibly well written. Funny. Touching. Sort of terrifying and has an amazing depth. Really speaks to all the things about which I’ve LONG been talking — the wondering if the cultural norms about what constitutes “success” and “being productive” really make a difference. And, how you can do ALL the things you’re supposed to and still be screwed. Give it a read.

 

boys jumping

My Mother used to say that cliché, “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you too?” Well, I was a smart-ass and I could not swim, so I always had some smart-ass answer. However, had I had a group of friends who looked like this — damn straight I would have jumped, and relished being saved and mouthed-to-mouthed by any of them.

 

Here’s another piece that really touched me. Found it on a place called Matter. It’s by Cord Jefferson and is called On Kindness: My mother is sick. [click here]  Really beautiful writing – again. Amazing how much fantastic, interesting, thought-provoking, fabulous stuff is floating around for free. Does ANY art-form other than writing give so freely of itself?

 

Heart removed

I’ve been removing myself of late because I am feeling too many feelings — everything is just overwhelming me — as a dear one said, “You are a trusting soul, Charles. Often to your detriment. But, trusting indeed.” Yes. I am — despite my pose of cynicism, ever hopeful and trusting and ALWAYS surprised when that hope and trust turns out to have been misplaced. SO, when I saw this photo study of the scarred chest and — I think — eyes gouged out too — it set me on another story idea.

 

And CLICK HERE for an article from AP via MSN news, a piece about Brittany Maynard. She was in People. She’s the 39 year old who had terminal cancer and decided to end her life, legally, while she was still in reasonable shape, so as not to leave her family and friends with memories of her deterioration. All the usual suspects are arguing about it.

 

smith's

Finally, sad note, Smith’s, where I and my dear ones went on the occasion of my birthday trip to NYC in April, has closed. Victim of another greedy Manhattan landlord. First Marriott screws with the Algonquin, now, this? I miss OLD New York.

Much Love and Light, dears. Love and Light.

ZeitBriefs: Other People’s Work and Dick Pics

Sharing some links and things that made me think. And some thinks I thought without linking. Or sharing.

  • SHONDA ALL THE TIME!

how to get awayI’ve been Twitter watching Scandal since Shonda Rhimes first gifted it to us. I used to do so, eager to hear Donna Brazile’s Tweets, but I’ve become annoyed with Ms. Brazile and her continued support of the demon-cabal of the NFL (you’d think her ruination of Al Gore’s presidential campaign would have been enough to disappoint me, but, no). So, I’ve blocked her. Like she cares. But, I digress – surprise, surprise – and now Ms. Rhimes has given me a new reason to waste another hour a week not reading or writing (about which I wrote yesterday- HERE) with How to Get Away With Murder from Shonda-land. Apparently I am not alone. Great ratings. Unfortunately, the jack-fuck NFL did better. What is wrong with people?

LINK: DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD: SHONDA RHIMES RULES THURSDAYS

  • THAT WHICH I CANNOT GET RIGHT (WRITE) – OH PEOPLE(s?)

Speaking of what is wrong with people – me, in particular (too long a list there), here’s a funny, not funny: before I made a life-change to being an under-employed house/pet sitter – slash – crazy uncle-in-the-attic (basement) – slash – not-quite-published novelist – slash – lost his paying gig columnist so now a blogger, I was an under-employed – slash – over-worked indentured servant of an acting teacher -slash – journey-actor – slash -producer/director. Wow – that was a long, rough road to the non-point of my point, that being this: my syntax, sentence structure, punctuation and addiction to (some editors have substituted unreasonably stubborn insistence on for addiction to) neologism when my newly-coined word seems pithier and more apt than any existing construct is wedded to what I have come to believe is a genetic inability to distinguish between the uses of “that” and “which” – which (or that?) is linked to my inability to control what has politely been called my “Baroque” style of parenthetical, digressive, aside-ridden, awash in barely-connected run-on rants and ravings of compounded complexities of cacophonous babbling rendering the determination of whether or not a clause is restrictive or non nearly impossible. But the thing was (is) every time I have to use THAT or WHICH, I struggle and go to one or another grammar site – most often, Grammar Girl. I also have trouble with PEOPLE’S vs PEOPLES’. I also prefer British quotation rules – and – well, my writing is as quirky and difficult to follow, I suppose, as my soul. I would like to think BOTH are – for a few people at least – worth the trouble.  No one said I was easy. To read, anyway.

LINK: GRAMMAR GIRL: WHICH VS THAT

  • MY DICK PIC, YOUR DICK PIC, EVERYBODY’S DICK PIC
Naked Old Man 2

My latest dick-pic. Can’t understand why I’m not getting more hook-ups?

And speaking of “easy” and why that word and “slut” and all the others ought to be put to rest – Noah Michelson, Executive Editor at Huffington Post has written a really great column about naked pics and the distortion of the issue. I agree. I have long, long said that the lack of embrace and celebration of the joys of free expression of our sexual natures is a tool the patriarchal-fascist-power-structure-elite use to control us – ESPECIALLY to control women and those of other than a hetero-normative bent. IN FACT – I blame that repression and its disastrous results for the most decimating, destructive heartbreak-relationship-disasters of my life, the effects of which still haunt me, have, in many ways, ruined me and made me distrustful and hermit-like. So, TAKE A PICTURE OF YOUR JUNK AND SEND IT EVERYWHERE. Yep, that’s what I’m saying.

LINK: NOAH MICHELSON/HUFFINGTON POST: YES, I HAVE A DICK PIC

  • I HATE TO GO HERE, BUT. . . ZANKIE

ZankieIn a continuation of the above topic- wherein fear and lack-of-embrace of sexual feelings and love create problematic stories – especially in my life – well, my obsession with Zach on Big Brother 16 – or, more specifically, with the bromance-showmance-whatever-mance between straight Zach and gay Frankie – was ridiculous. Because, truth, it has happened to me repeatedly – twice with horrifyingly heartbreaking consequences wherein the “straight” guy told me he loved me more than he had ever loved anyone else but then, because of the onus of what our union meant, he could not handle it and turned from me – turned on me – turned into – well, enough. So, I know Frankie is a fame-junkie and I suspect Zach, too, is a bit of a fame-addict, but Zach’s monologues in the confessional room seemed so sincere, so heartfelt, I can’t believe he doesn’t have conflicted-love feelings for Frankie. But, then again, I’ve REPEATEDLY thought fellows had the same sort of feelings for me, only to find out I was being used or made a fool of or becoming a lie they would later tell. Fuck life.

LINK: QUEERTY: ZANKIE: FRANKIE ADMITS HIS LOVE FOR ZACH

  • AND WHILE WE’RE ON THE TOPIC OF DICKS AND BAD ROMANCE AND HOOK-UPS AND BAROQUE WRITING STYLE … TENNESSEE WILLIAMS

tennessee williamsI am reading John Lahr’s biography of Tennessee Williams, titled, Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh. It is stunning, simply stunning. I have long admired Mr. Lahr’s work. His biography of Joe Orton was incisive and illuminating, and now, he is the perfect choice for Mr. Williams. The way in which he manages to transition between Mr. Williams’ own words and authorial narrative, the fascinating investigation and explanation of how Mr. Williams’ personal life was mirrored in and informed his work, all of it coming together to make the reader feel present as the life occurred; quite brilliant. I love it.

That said, so much of Mr. Williams’ life and words echo (or, presage) so much of my own broken hearted journey through life that I have had to – repeatedly – put the book down and process. My copy is pocked with margin notes and sticky-pad-arrows so that it looks less read than studied. Listen to these few:

There are only two times in this world when I am happy and selfless and pure. One is when I jack off on paper and the other when I empty all the fretfulness of desire on a young male body.

I’d like to live a simple life — with epic fornications.

…to know me is not to love me….I am a problem to anybody who cares anything about me –Most of all to myself who am, of course, my only ardent lover (though a spiteful and cruel one!)

We share a soul angst. Would that I could manage – had managed – to produce a truth of my own anywhere close to those Mr. Williams made of his journey. Alas, I did not. Nor did I achieve his “epic fornications” – oh well. Read the book friends. While you’re sitting alone – like me.

LINK: TENNESSEE WILLIAMS: MAD PILGRIMAGE OF THE FLESH by JOHN LAHR

  • AHHH … THE WEEK-END … and, the week, it ends …

And speaking of alone – like me – last night – but first, later today I will be departing Aftermath. Back to my basement for a few weeks. Yesterday I didn’t leave the estate at all. I stayed in all day. Reading. Writing. Frolicking (and subsequently, napping) with Judah. Dangerous. I cannot remain in the house for more than one day without social interaction because it is far too easy for me to NEVER leave the house. I have to force myself out, daily, or all too quickly I hide in my crazy-uncle-world and do not emerge.

charlie sweeney

Me. Sweeney. Goal weight.

But I gave myself yesterday. Last night I was alerted that Sweeney Todd was being presented as part of Live from Lincoln Center on PBS. Now, here’s the thing. (Another of my things – not to be confused with THAT thing of dick-pic fame). When I was quite young I saw the original production on Broadway starring Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett. I then saw it with Dorothy Loudon. I then saw it, years later, with Christine Baranski. I then saw it at Signature Theatre in Virginia with a brilliant, luminous, glorious Donna Migliaccio (why she is NOT a HUGE Broadway star I cannot understand, her Lovett and Mama Rose and EVERYTHING I have ever seen her do – GENIUS – most recently as the Mother in Sunday in the Park With George at Signature – she slayed me, absolutely destroyed me – so, so, SO ridiculously good), and then I saw the Patti LuPone with tuba version of Lovett on Broadway. AND, I played Sweeney in my heyday. It was my absolute favorite role ever. I knew the score was actually out of my comfort zone – I did not have as much low end as a brilliant Sweeney requires – but I LOVED doing it. I worked with my favorite and most demanding director, Josh, and the cast was top-effing-notch, including my Mrs Lovett, my dear, dear Kayte. Now, granted, I lost my mind playing the role. My feeling was that his years in the prison colony would have been marked by increasing insanity and anger and starvation; so he should be, in essence, a shadow, a ghost, a poisonous cloud of hate and fear and need for revenge. So, I dieted to get the look I wanted. I dieted to obsessive degrees. I lived on ExLax and one 6 ounce can of tuna every other day. And celery. I could have as much celery as I wanted. I lost twenty-five pounds and most of my mind. And I loved it.

All of which leads up to, I was not a huge fan of last night’s broadcast. I’d have rather they re-ran the one from a few years ago with Ms. LuPone. I didn’t see the point of last night’s. There was nothing revelatory about it. There was nothing, in fact, even very good about it. Everyone seemed miscast – either acting wise or vocally – except for Audra McDonald, who has already done the Beggar Woman with Patti, so, uhm, anyway.

I longed, after, to see my version again. I know there exists a recording – I had it once – but, alas, the last two times I have “moved” have been rather hasty departures, rather emotionally draining and terrifying departures, both of which prompted me to toss or lose things. I don’t know where my Sweeney went.

Anyway … where was I? Oh, right …

That was my Friday night. Watching a bad and disappointing Sweeney. Trust me, bad and disappointing men have often been my Friday night fate – which is why I tend to stay in, hermit-like, alone and reading about Tennessee Williams rather than going out and risking another Zankie-esque-debacle in my life.

So, there, this was meant to be a short little post of quick links of the work of others … turned into another therapy session about – well, forget about what – let’s settle on this: I just cannot shut-up. Maybe THAT’s why my Zach departed. LOL. Fuck it. Gotta run. Doing a final laundry and vacuuming here at Aftermath.

 

 

 

 

 

Zeitbites Wednesday: Imaginary Friends (of Dorothy? Gale and Parker)

So Many Hits . . . so few hitting ON me . . .

parker

Dorothy Parker

Tennessee Williams, 1956

Tennessee Williams

Bowles Jane Solo

Jane Bowles

Funny story. Since my blog readership has been growing I have imagined this virtual Algonquin Round Table group of erudite, mordantly witty, sophisticated folk who can appreciate both my Sebastian and Charlie sides; the low and the high of my dysthymic wanderings, the lust and the literature, the stairs both up and down and all the rooms to which they lead. I wanted to be a sort of Dorothy Parker meets back-alley Tennessee Williams.  (With a soupcon of Jane Bowles and Joan Didion thrown in for spice, the spice being cyanide.)

didion2

Joan Didion

Hubris, my man, hubris. Will I never learn?

Recently I tagged a post with “Naked Latin Boys” and “Sex in Gym Locker Rooms” and the hits – as they say – just kept (and keep) on coming. Now, it could be coincidence. The same post was also tagged “Duchess Goldblatt” and “Elizabeth McCracken” and I’d like to believe those to be the reasons I was clicked, but I fear that in this, my virtual Algonquin Round, the same rules apply as in real-corporeal-life where I have NEVER been “clicked” for my LitLove and erudition, but often been quick-clicked and passed over because I was NOT ENOUGH Naked Latin Boy Sex In Gym Locker Room.

Off With His head: NOT MY TeaParty

Speaking of not enough: Eric Cantor, ejected recently even by the TeaParty and long, long ago by people of intelligence and empathy, who is another of the long list of rich white men who pretended to care about “the middle class” while code-word-demonizing all the rest of us who are NOT rich white men as the enemy and the problem, conveniently twisting reality to support his bigotry and hate, is now joining an investment banking firm to the tune of millions of dollars to continue influence peddling for the benefit of rich white men. Read it HERE on Politico.

My Faith: The Friends (of Dorothy[s] Gale & Parker)

And speaking of twisting reality to support bigotry and hate, I was once again told by someone that the bible is the word of god and justifies all their beliefs. Conveniently selective, that – but those arguments have all been made and – well, I am ashamed to say that I very briefly took the bait and explained patiently that the bible was no more the word of god than The Wizard of Oz was the word of a real entity named Dorothy nor any more meant as a guide to behavior than Enough Rope by Dorothy Parker, but there is just no reasoning with people about this. Look, if you can’t respect my faith as a Friend of Dorothy(s), and bow down to NOT disagreeing with everything I and my fellow Friends have constructed as the tenets of our faith, then, why should I listen to you justifying your bigotry and homophobia with verses from your bible?

Garland, Oz

However . . . before I go . . . the daily noise . . .

I joke – not about wanting to be a combination of Dorothy Parker and Tennessee Williams – but I’m actually finding things less funny with every passing day, thus, making an effort to create humor in the midst of all the noise of life. The noise bothering me today is about Sam Smith who was the only thing I enjoyed other than the Beyonce tribute from last month’s MTV VMA Awards. Well, all over the place today hits the story that his beautiful album, The Lonely Hours, was inspired by his unrequited love for a straight man.

  • Ok, well, FIRST OF ALL – love. We use the word to describe such a huge gamut of emotions and behaviors that it has lost all meaning. It has lost all meaning by having so many meanings.
  • SECOND – Mr. Smith has said the fellow “loved me too, but not in that way” – which, to me, means the love was reciprocated to some degree, so, it may have gone unrequited – meaning, no sex – but the love existed, the love operated, the love counted. If, as a culture, we weren’t so fucking hung up on fucking as a defining factor of the quality of love, maybe we wouldn’t be so – uhm – fucked up?
  • THIRD – WHAT THE FUCK DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE WHAT GENDER WAS THE PERSON WHO INSPIRED THE ALBUM/SONGS AND WHY THE FUCK DO WE SPEND SO MUCH TIME ON LABELS?

I would posit that culturally we are brainwashed early on to WANT – encouraged to strive for things that are, for most of us, impossible to achieve – Financially, Emotionally – most of us are NOT going to get the riches of the powerful white men ruling the world; most of us are NOT going to have a fairy-tale romance of happily-ever-after; and YET, we are BOMBARDED by images of these things, told they are what we SHOULD want – and so MANY MANY MANY of us WANT WANT WANT exactly who and what we cannot – likely – ever have.

For instance, readers who think I am a combination of Dorothy Parker and Tennessee Williams and still somehow want to have hot Latin Boy sex with me in gym locker rooms. Yes, I am one of the MANY MANY MANY who WANT WANT WANT what I am not – likely – going to have.

So, dear readers, please join me at my virtual Algonquin Round today and let’s all toast to who we REALLY are and what we REALLY have, a toast to authenticity – let’s claim our spaces in these worlds- virtual and real – and make some noise that is beautiful.

Love and Light, friends. Love and Light.

A Little BOUNCE … well, not so little …

FIRST THINGS FIRST … THE BOUNCE

Some of my very best friends have been in a room with Wesley Taylor. I hate them. However, one of them needs a bit of cheering up. So, for her, despite the fact she got to be in a room – albeit with more than a hundred other people and she had to buy a ticket – with Wesley Taylor, I offer this: The Skivvies and Wesley Taylor. WesTayTay [That’s his Twitter-handle – follow him HERE] in his underwear should put a little bounce in anyone’s day – well, actually, the bounce is not so little.

(P.S. If you have NOT watched Mr. Taylor’s webseries, It Could Be Worse, click anywhere in this note to go there. REALLY – STOP READING – JUST GO THERE.)

Now, I’ve been bouncey (though I’m no match for WTT) and so I can return to curmudgeon land. (And I have tagged this post with multiple variations on the theme: WESLEY TAYLOR NAKED BIG PENIS – and so, I should get hits in the MILLIONS today.)

Oscar Wilde said, “I find it harder and harder to live up to my blue china.”

That’s my problem. Well, not the china. I don’t have any china. It is one of many accumulations I left behind. Or, should I say, Let Go? Or, maybe, Surrendered? Matters not, it is what it is, or, rather, what it was. Except that of late I find myself suffering regret for not having packed and taken the Wedgwood service for eight I’d found priced so ridiculously low that it must surely have been the result of either someone’s mistake or ignorance about which I ever after – until recently – suffered guilt for not having said, “Shouldn’t this be more?”

That’s the kind of person I was. Now, however, I’d probably point out the character giving chinks and fissures in a few pieces that made me first fall so in love with the set and ask for a discount because of them. I’m not sure when I changed, but the process began after having taken my leave and very little else in the quiet way and on the timeline requested and still, somehow, became a character in a narrative that – when I was interrogated about it – bore no resemblance to my memory of who I was or what had occurred.

But, I let that story stand. And spent the years since wondering about stories, identity, reputation, truth. Conclusion? Everyone really does have their own reality. We all manipulate and remember it in ways that serve our narrative thread. Some of us see ourselves as heroes; some as victims; some as martyrs; some as … well, you get the drift. Thing is, way more often than I knew for the first decades of my life, no one else in your “reality” even BEGINS to consider that the voice telling the story in other people’s heads might not agree with the version in their own.

We are, in fact, all alone in our stories. And, having discovered this, I am exhausted by trying to maintain the “Charlie” of my own narrative and the narratives of so many others. Listen, I left my china behind, so, leave me alone. Let me get to the ending in peace.

Truman Capote said, “Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.”

Exactly. Although, third acts no longer exist. People can barely make it through two acts. Were it not for the need for the income from the bar and justifying the outrageous amounts now charged for theatre tickets, I’m sure shows would eschew intermissions and second acts entirely, every theatricale being about forty-five minutes long, the average extended-attention span of people nowadays.

I mean, shit, most of you won’t even read past the first paragraph of a post, let alone beyond 300 words, which was the length it was suggested I make my blog-entries. Honey, I can’t even write a grocery list in less than a thousand words.

Where was I? Right. Write. Third acts. Yeah. That. I used to write shows – a lot of shows – five or six shows a year, tailored to the students/actors I had and their strengths and needs. Now, granted,  these were often derivative and slap-dash, even more often emotionally-overwrought and cheaply sentimental, but, every so often, one had some heft. What one NEVER had – not really – was a really good second act. Impossible. For me, anyway. I had trouble with endings. Especially happy ones. I tended toward gunshots or leave taking or it was all a dream or – you get the picture – and when I went perky, it was ridiculously fast brought about by some unfathomable deus ex machina device.

I could use a deus ex machina myself right now. Or, a gunshot.

And Tennessee Williams said, “There is a time for departure even when there’s no certain place to go.”

In fact, I have a certain place to go: the gym. The elliptical and the stationary bike are calling me, reminding me that my 150 mile ride is only two weeks away.

See, here I am again … lousy ending. Well, when all else fails, Wesley Taylor big penis naked.

Wesley Taylor© Monica SimoesTaylor, Wesley Aug 2014Taylor, Wesley Aug 2014 2

Later friends.

 

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.

 

 

I OBJECT(ify): Tony Award Nominations and other WTF?’s

Someone recently suggested that I was opinionated and judgmental. Actually, it wasn’t a suggestion, but, rather, an unabashed and full on declaration, although, to be fair, it was in response to my having first made the exact same accusation about her. She, however, used this blog as evidence that I was judgmental.

Hmph. Now hear this, I do have rather strong opinions about things and I do work on the foundational assumption that my opinions are more right than wrong, so, it NATURALLY follows that those with whom I agree are smarter and better informed and in all ways superior to those who disagree with me. However, that doesn’t mean I’m judging you ignorami who don’t understand that I know best.

I think we can all agree that that settles that. And if you don’t agree, well, not to judge, but you are WRONG!

Quinto, Zachary Instagram

Zachary Quinto’s latest Instagram. He has quite an admirable body of work.

Speaking of wrong, the Tony Award nominations [see them HERE at Broadway.com] were announced this morning and some very deserving work was, in the words of Julie Andrews, “egregiously overlooked.” For example, the brilliant revival of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie  was deservedly nominated in Best Revival of a Play, Best Director, and earned nods for three of its four actors; Cherry Jones, Celia Keenan Bolger, and Brian J. Smith, but neglected, EGREGIOUSLY, was its lead actor, Zachary Quinto. I am horrified. He was quite simply, BRILLIANT in the role, called by those who knew Mr. Williams the very best Tom ever, closest to the vision Mr. Williams dreamed and, quite rightly, closest to the energy of Mr. Williams himself who wrote the role as autobiography. WTF? Well, thank goodness I’ve Mr. Quinto’s body of work on American Horror Story to watch again and again, and his body — period — from his latest Instagram to … uhm … watch. Yeah. That. Again and again.

jeremy jordan

Jeremy Jordan. Because.

And that’s not the ONLY ridiculous — NOT THAT I’M BEING JUDGMENTAL — oversight. The delightful, moving, magical, fantastical, tuneful musical, Big Fish, garnered not one single nomination. Who do you have to fuck in New York to get a Tony? And by that I do not refer to the rumors about Arthur Laurents and his Brian Singer-ing of Matt Cavenaugh and Jeremy Jordan that they might get the lead male ingenue role in the West Side Story revival. Honestly, Big Fish was one of my favorite musicals since Grey Gardens and the score by Mr. Andrew Lippa has everything a Broadway musical ought to including the glorious I Don’t Need a Roof, the YouTube of which I post about once a week. Speaking of, how did Kate Baldwin not get nominated as Best Leading Actress in a Musical? And Norbert Leo Butz not nominated for Leading Actor? WHAT? SO FRUSTRATING!

And so, bad enough Big Fish didn’t get a nomination, but, come on people, The Bridges of Madison County didn’t get a Best Musical nomination either? Why? I’ve just rapturized about this show yesterday in this blog [CLICK HERE FOR THAT ENTRY]. At least Jason Robert Brown was nominated for Best Score. But, Bartlett Sher was robbed not being nominated for Best Direction. That direction was flawless.

And why, praytell, was Bobby Steggert not nominated for Big Fish and/or Mothers and Sons? He is from Frederick. My town. He should be nominated EVERY YEAR.

Oh well, just my opinion, I’m not judging the assholes who made these mistakes.

Enough about the Tony Award noms. EXCEPT, I quit smoking last year on the day of the Tony Awards so I would always remember the date. Now, what with all the ridiculous omissions in this year’s noms, I might be forced to take up nicotine again. I feel — somehow — personally affronted.

KYstoreSpeaking of affronted, Joe.My.God. blog [CLICK HERE] posted this story this morning about a Kentucky store that has posted signage saying it welcomes Christians and gun-carriers but NOT people who swear or are gay. Honestly, they’ve a slash through the rainbow. Have you ever? What a world.

Herald Embroidery [CLICK TO SEE THEIR SITE AND WRITE THEM] has since posted a clarification stating:

“While we will serve all customers who treat our place of business with respect, we reserve the right to refuse to produce promotional products that promote ideas that are not in keeping with our consciences. This includes, but is not limited to content promoting homosexuality, freemasonry, the use of foul language, and imagery which promotes immodesty.”

Well, not to judge — because, you know, “judge not that ye shall not be called an asshole” and all that sort of rot, but, really? I sent them the following message:

You are despicable. Judge not. This selective reading and application of the bible to justify hatred and discrimination is the greatest sin of all.

Not judging. Just saying, my opinion. Speaking of not judging and opinion, and judging and being opinionated, Frank Bruni wrote a gorgeous OpEd piece in the New York Times about the judging and opinionated and iconic Mr. Larry Kramer. CLICK HERE TO READ IT. We gays, we owe Mr. Kramer a huge debt of gratitude and while some have judged him harshly for his combative and confrontational manner, I think history will more harshly judge those who sat in silence while hundreds of thousands of us died, were bullied and discriminated against, and told we couldn’t order a t-shirt that promoted our homosexuality. And so, for Mr. Kramer, I eschew politeness in this moment and say, “FUCK YOU HERALD EMBROIDERY IN KENTUCKY!”

No gays. But bring guns. Oh my. Reminds me of this recent quote from Bill Maher “Remember, for every liberal with a cause who makes you go, “Oh, just shoot me!”, there’s a conservative with a gun who will.” Bang. Bang.

Silence equals death. And the following promotes my homosexuality and my taste in men, proving, once again, that I am equally adept at objecting and objectifying.

April 29 1 April 29 2 April 29 3 April 29 4 reading edited tumblr_lyv88fgRpm1qbte6oo1_500

 

 

 

 

My #ClinicalDepression: I am not now and never will be #PaulBowles

(LATE IN THE DAY ADDENDUM – although, with me, “late in the day” is pretty much my whole life — but I digress — also pretty much my whole life. I wrote the following blogpost EARLY in the day, since which time, my marvelling via Twitter at Elizabeth McCracken‘s interview in The Huffington Post (CLICK HERE) in celebration of release of her new book, “Thunderstruck & Other Stories (CLICK HERE), resulted in the lovely Ms. McCracken answering my Tweet, and then, following me, which follow resulted in a favoriting of Tweets and a follow by Duchess Goldblatt. So, suddenly, my dysthymic dip has begun roller coaster climbing to a new high. Look out below!)

Despite it having been Patti LuPone’s birthday [CLICK HERE], yesterday was horrific.

I know, my ledes suck. Of the few agents who bothered to respond to my queries after having actually read the portions of Libertytown:The Novel, submitted, one informed me that the first twenty pages were “without event” — apparently contemplation of one’s life does not in modern literature constitute action — and the other (yes, only two have actually responded with written words; that’s what I said, TWO, in PUBLISHING, an industry in which, theoretically at least, words are currency) wrote a lovely and lengthy letter explaining that while she found beautiful my Proustian approach (which descriptive term use was almost as good as offering to represent me; almost, I said) with its ellipses and digressions and tangents, whorling and winding excursively through one aging gay man’s emotional and psychological declension, she felt my anti-hero and style would not appeal to most people in today’s world.

BOWLES and CAPOTE Emilio Sanz de Soto, Pepe Carleton, Truman Capote y Jane y Paul Bowles. Tanger 1949

Emilio Sanz de Soto, Pepe Carleton, Truman Capote, Jane and Paul Bowles in Tangier

Tell me about it. A pithier exegesis of my life experience was never writ.

And some days, well, like yesterday, said synopsis hits home like a spiritual migraine, eviscerating anew previously untouched nerves and heart-muscle while all those nerves and heart-muscle previously bruised in past attacks throb again in sympathy, until the new pain and the echoes and reverberations of the old pains, result in this cacophonous ache of discovery. Or, as my former friends (or, as I like to call them, “people who used me until my usefulness was no more and there was nothing left of me to suck dry”) would say, “It’s about time he faced the truth about himself.”

The truth. Oh, that.

The truth, which I yesterday discovered while sitting in a coffee shop where I landed after having spent sixty minutes on cardio equipment at a gym where I was subjected to the adolescent sniggering of two out-of-shape, “no one would ever come on to you so get over yourself” type men on their way to the showers making “don’t drop the soap” jokes. Have I mentioned how much I hate heterosexual, out-of-shape aging men who are CONVINCED that because they have a penis EVERY GAY MAN IN THE WORLD will want them? We won’t.

Which is one truth, but not the one I was forced about myself to face while in the coffee shop. No.

It was — and this really, REALLY hurts — and here it is, the Tweet I Tweeted from said shop in which I was, and yes, it’s definitely about time I did, facing the truth about myself:

I must face the horrible tragic awful irrefutable truth that I am, in fact, not now & never have been nor will I ever be the new Paul Bowles

Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles

Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles

I’d brought with me the Sunday New York Times. Carrot/Horse thing. I felt myself beginning the long dissolve, declension, decomposition, deterioration, disintegration, deliquescing into a dysthymic low when I woke Monday morning and I know how this goes, so I had promised myself that if I went to the gym and did my cardio I could go to the coffee shop and write there, but first, before that effort to write, I could read the Sunday Times sections I had saved: Travel, Arts, and BOOK REVIEW! Well, I never made it out of Travel. Authors writing about London, Italy, and Venice finished me.

I’m not going to make it to London, Italy, or Venice. This struck me with some vigorous and sniggering out-of-shape heterosexual man mockery as I drank my Americano from the trendy Mason Jar in which this place serves its cold drinks. I am going to die in Frederick having never achieved a journey overseas, never having visited Wuthering Heights, never having had a drink with Joan Didion, nor having been mentioned as irrelevantly Proustian in the New York Times Book Review.

All of this, yesterday, exacerbated by my irritation at being subjected to the banality of overheard cellphone blather, which, it then occurred to me, was no less uninteresting than my life. Double negative.

And too, this being my first time at this particular coffee shop – what the fuck with the Mason jar glasses? I mean, didn’t this area – by which I mean Frederick – spend the last thirty years or so trying to outgrow drinking from mayonnaise and pickle jars and our Hatfield-McCoy backwoods ways? Now, of a sudden, it’s trendy? Please shoot me — I mean, if Mason jar glassware is back, can the hillbillies be far behind?

You see how this goes?

This is a downward spiral (leading to another downward spiral called a “corkscrew” which I then use to open too many bottles of too cheap wine so as to avoid — you know, finally truth-facing myself) down the volute of which I bleed my way, beating myself for having been brainwashed into believing the nearly theological cultural allure of the necessity of becoming “other” — to have bought into worshipping the transformative power of ambition, unquestioning admiration and envy of having achieved the American dream of becoming consequential because one has been anointed so by Zeitgeistian whim.

FUCK!

I mean, you see where this goes. Please, tell me you do. My Zeitgeitsian whim of a fantasy life didn’t even include lots of money and fame. I just wanted to be Paul Bowles. In my rather carefully cultivated and curated circle of acquaintance, perhaps three or four of my cohort know who Mr. Bowles is, and maybe one of them has read his work. As for Jane? I doubt even one has read her collection. My point being, it doesn’t seem a terrible lot to ask to have the truth I was finally facing about myself being one that could include some measure of Bowles-ian reality, does it?

Bowles& Mrabet

Mohammed Mrabet and Paul Bowles

By which I don’t mean that as I am slinking away from my latest disaster of a Tangier-looking CraigsList trick who’s debased himself with the inane (and patently false) promise of “Masc Mixed Top” and ended up begging to bottom (at least I am not alone in not finally facing the truth about myself) that I will pretend I am Bowles and he is Mohammed Mrabet; no, that is NOT the part of Bowles life I want. Nor do I wish that perhaps this Moroccan looking fellow will join me in the mutual delusion of distrust and expectation of painful dishonesty — those two primary foundational tenets of a mendacious faithlessness we’ll mistake for love until we nearly destroy one another by, you know, not finally facing the truths about ourselves — and PRETEND we are happy whilst my lesbian life-partner looks on from a distance muttering disapproval. No. I want to publish ONE FUCKING THING like Pages from Cold Point.

Is that too much to ask?

 

 

Paul Bowles and Mohammed Mrabet

Paul Bowles and Mohammed Mrabet