Thursday, February 26, 2009

Indigo Boys

My friend Alex created an entry for "Indigo Boy" in the Urban Dictionary. WOOT!

Back in the days of AOL--this was in my early teens, back when they actually charged something like $2.95 per hour to be connected to the internet, and I kept a tin of money near the computer, like a piggy bank of sorts--my email was "indigoboy6," though I don't remember there being 5 before me.
Indigo Boys:
Gay men who are emotionally connected to their sexuality, or basically, lesbians in men's bodies---political, Birkenstock-wearing, anti gym-culture, often vegetarian. Sensitive enough to listen to the Indigo Girls song "Closer to Fine" and maybe cry. As in: I went to the KD Lang show and it was all lesbians and Indigo Boys.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Weekend Was....

....chock full of friends and happenings and nights in the theater, and men in latex with their asses hanging out, and short ribs and Oscars and bad sleep.

On Friday night, Kip and John and I, plus Oren and Tom, went to see Bradford Louryk in "Christine Jorgensen Reveals." We saw it back in 2006, and it was lovely to spend another hour with Christine. The show only runs through March 15 or something, so rush out if you're near. It's a quality evening, folks.

Saturday was crazy day at the syrup stand. Was there a full moon or something? Not only did He-Man stop by with his girlfriend and talk about maple candy for five minutes--that's a long time to stand and ask questions, when you think about it--but we did roughly triple the business that we normally would for a Saturday in late February. And oh, just for the record, one last time, Yes, we're cold standing out there when it's thirty degrees. Please don't ask me if I'm cold. Please don't tell me to "stay warm." Please don't ask me "how do you stand it out here in this cold?" It's my job, and that's that. Your job has some shitty aspects, too, right?

My friend Aaron from Phoenix came through NYC on his way to Mardi Gras in New Orleans (such is the way of the buddy pass, a perk for friends of flight attendants, which gives you free tickets, but strange routing.) Also, Frankie came in from New Jersey -- look, a shout out! -- plus Aaron's friend Cooper who lives out in Queens....we all ended up at Stonewall for a round of beers and something called Tokyo Tea, which, Aaron says, is his favorite drink. I met Aaron and Frankie years ago through an internet chat room for gay boys, and we've stayed in touch in real life since then--I'd never met Aaron in person. This is the great, amazing thing about the Internet, that it can, sometimes, actually connect people from across the globe, and it feels like I've known them for years--sort of, I have. Stonewall on Saturday night was having their fetish night, which included a big bull dyke shining the boots of any Mary who wanted to step up and have it done, and a bunch of normal-bodied men in lycra, latex and even an old flame of Kip's in neoprene. It was nice to see real people, a very different look from the Chelsea bars. Watching all of them in their gear, getting turned on a bit, enjoying the public aspect of their play, I realized: Fetish stuff isn't really about sex, it's just about clothes.

For the Oscars, I had Cory and Sean over to lay on the couch and be catty, and I made short ribs braised in an ancho chile/coffee sauce, plus polenta and steamed kale. It was fantastic. The first time I made the short ribs, I managed not to seal the pan with foil tight enough, so we lost a lot of the sauce as it just cooked out. This time, I added some beef broth to the mix--maybe too much--and then sealed the pan ridiculously well. The sauce was a bit too watery, but to no real drama. They still tasted fantastic, if you ask me. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. If you want the recipe, lemme know.

Oh, Oscars. Best: Hugh. Worst: That horrible number about how musicals are back. Are they? If this is any indication....

Then, I have this cold-thing that's hanging on inside my head. Snot dripping into the back of my throat. Ugh. This made for horrible sleep. Plus, my cat has taken to stretching out as long as he can, taking up as much room as possible. So, I'm squeezed between Kip and the Cat, snorting and wheezing and generally being unhappy. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.

Oh -- good news coming soon....

Sunday, February 15, 2009

While Driving on Berry Avenue

Hipsters, you have taught me an irrevocable, indelible truth!
On Berry Avenue--your very own avenue--
I realized that all you want, in your deepest want of wants,
is to live in a community of your own!
Your own hip restaurants.
Your own hip second-hand clothing shops.
Your own hip coffee joints with hip organic munchies.

This is the same want of the Orthodox Jews,
who lives just ten blocks south of you,
Their own hip wig shops.
Their own hip stroller stores.
Their own hip bus stops.

Eureka! I shout, to the sidewalk.
Hallelujah! I shout to the headlights of the car crawling too closely behind me,
Beurk! (which is French,) I shout to the flapping Tyvek of the building-in-limbo.
Did you know this about yourselves?
That you are separated by something as simple as a choice of fabrics?

--The way the shredded toilet paper in the pissy water of the Coffee Shop commode makes it look like a delicious egg drop soup.
--The snore of your boyfriend, which starts out horrible, like a diesel engine dying, and ends the same way his exhausted sigh does when he holds you.

Look how close everything is.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mourning Becomes Electra

Last night, we saw the revival of Mourning Becomes Electra, starring Lili Taylor, Jena Malone and Joseph Cross, put up by The New Group under the direction of Scott Elliot. It's four and a half hours of sustained tragedy, which is not an easy feat for an actor or an audience, but the performance was overall engaging, if a bit awkwardly staged--and well, honestly, sometimes I wondered what the hell Elliot was thinking. It's worth seeing--the sheer athleticism is a feat unto itself, and the play is so rarely done.

Jena Malone was capable and even a bit surprising--it's really her show when you get down to it, and to carry the third act so compellingly after already 3 hours of stage time is extremely difficult for an actor who's only 24--and primarily a film actor. Malone's performance was a bit direct--in that it seems that every choice she's made, or been given by the director--is a simple one, which is not to say easy. The performance isn't spectacularly deep, but it's real, energetic, and new. I think she knows what she's capable of, and often it looks like she's really enjoying herself.

I want Lili Taylor to take up more space. I want her to be slower, more powerful, louder. As John says to me after the show, "I kept thinking what would Meryl Streep do with this performance?" It's a bit unfair to compare her to Meryl, but Ms. Taylor didn't seem to be drinking it up the same way that Ms. Malone did. I know that Ms. Taylor is a deeply talented actor, able to take us to dark, lonely places, desperate places, all the while feeling strangely under her care. Her work in "Six Feet Under," "Casa de los Babys," and "I Shot Andy Warhol" is all of these things. But she's not eating up the scenery enough in this production. She's not throwing her hair around, flapping her skirt here and there, moving in a surprising way. I adore you, Lili; I bought this ticket because of you, but I want you to let it all loose. This is Clytem-fucking-nestra you're playing!

Scott Elliot makes strange choices. The Women was pretty horrid, the Threepenny Opera felt so mortifyingly amateur--come on, corporate logos on t-shirts?--I did this my junior year of high school to make a grossly overstated point about feeling disenfranchised. I guess I can understand why an artistic director would choose to put up this play at a time like this. We are a country divided (in the play by the Civil War, and in our lives by this whole Red vs Blue idiocy) and recently brought back together, by Lincoln and....Obama? Is that the idea? Am I stretching here? Or maybe you just want to mount this dizzyingly good play that people are not often keen on producing.

The white curtain drawing out to separate the stage was one incredibly beautiful moment--perfecto! But the doors--the double doors leading from the porch, where most of the scenes take place, into the house, why are they so cheaply constructed. Is this a question of money? I wonder where you let things go because of various constraints, and where you made creative choices that are turn out to be so awkward. The door is important, it's the last thing we see of the play, the last sound, even. Maybe your hands were full with other things?

Why have the floor covered in cheap blue carpet? Or was it expensive blue carpet? Either way, it feels too modern, too suburban. Wouldn't wood have been better? Why have Ms. Taylor light up a cigarette in the beginning of Act 1 and then stamp it out after taking only half a puff? Why play so many scenes on the floor, writhing around to make Christine look like a girl with no power? Why play so many scenes in the side aisles? All of these are clear choices to me--it's not like the direction is aimless--but the direction is definitely baffling and, as the play would say, queer.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Yesterday, A Tragedy

First, I stayed home from the office, mainly to work on some state standards alignments, which are lengthy, boring, and need a pretty high level of brain focus to do them correctly. In this way, it's good for me to be at home, away from the office phone and the onslaught of emails pouring into my line of vision, demanding attention. However, it was also good to just have a day at home working in my pajamas. I didn't put real clothes on until I had to go to the store for hot dog buns--how schlumpy.

I guess some people take the day off and they get up, go to a museum, have lunch with friends, do laundry, bake bread, watch their soaps, and go to bed early. Not me, I just lay around and feel sorry for myself. I do nothing, and I did nothing--other than the work I had to do for work. I basically do the opposite of productive, in all areas. I eat badly (chronicled via Twitter to the right,) I don't shower, I trash the apartment with dirty dishes and empty soda cans. If one of the cats pukes, I let it sit there until it dries--and sometimes, if it's mostly food and not a hairball--they'll eat it again in the middle of the night. They're either eating their own puke, or their sibling's. (That grossness you're feeling right now, thinking of a cat eating his sister's puke--that's my yesterday all day.)

There was a surprise party planned for my friend Cindy, who turns 40 today. (Happy Birthday!!) But her plane was delayed and eventually canceled, not putting her into JFK until around midnight. The party, thus, was canceled. But the cake I made was still sitting--in its various pieces; icing, filling, layers--ready to be carted down to Lefferts Gardens and assembled. I opted to build the thing anyway, let Cindy eat it piece by piece for the next week or so, however long it lasted. Which, for a cake, can be a day or two, or a long time if you play it right. On my way to her house, I managed to somehow get my finger caught in the door of a bodega on Flatbush Avenue, and although it didn't hurt so much, it bled an awful lot.

I wasn't happy with the icing, which was a basic brown sugar buttercream. It was airy and pristine when I made it--and even when I took it out of the fridge to soften, it looked amazing, and it tasted fantastic--sweet, a bit savory, caramely. But then once I gave it a stir with the offset, something changed. I guess it "broke," or whatever French buttercream does--meaning, began melting and separating back into it's parts: butter, brown sugar, egg whites. It looked like spackle made from oatmeal. It was hideous. Spotted, thick, hideous. I wanted to toss the whole thing into the garbage.

I don't really do things that I can't do well. Those of you who know me, know that this is both a strength, and the cause of my endless anxiety. Food is maybe my favorite way to show and share love, and here I'd failed to make something as gorgeous and important as my feelings for the birthday girl. I felt like a failure. Maybe I took it a bit too hard. And how strange is this--or perhaps not strange at all--but the bad icing made me feel, more than anything else: Lonely.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Open Letters, Vol. 8

Dear Modernity,

Oh, Modernity, you bitter mistress, you taught me so much over the weekend.

Actually, you didn't teach me anything concrete, nothing I could say for sure--which, in itself is its own kind of modernity--you just brought up a whole new set of questions. Socrates would say that is teaching, but you know, whatevs.

First, on my Twitter feed, I watched as Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore began complaining about their neighbors. Then I watched as very slowly, the story got picked up by various "news" outlets and broadcast all abouts the interweb. It was the first time I was able to see one of those celebrity stories from beginning to end. What started as something rather vacant and light suddenly became a news story, and people were quoting the Tweets and talking about how Ash and Demi were feeling. Who really knows how they were feeling? The machine took something and chewed it into bits.

And second, me and some other gay boys (plus a real live lady) sat around on Saturday night drinking beer and watching dumb videos on YouTube. We watched the one where the guy pukes on the morning news show, the one where the Swedish lady pukes on that morning show, the one where the lady falls and really hurts herself while trying to stomp grapes, the one where the lady falls on the Segway, the farting aerobics instructor, the farting newscaster, Sue Simmons and her important question, the gay/blind hiker, the weather man with diarrhea, and many, many others. How did we miss this typo?

Kip suggested that this was the current version of sitting around the campfire telling stories. It was pretty remarkable, in a way, all of us sitting in a circle, passing around the laptop, calling up one crazy narrative from YouTube, and turning the computer around so everyone could watch together. It didn't feel vacant, which you might presume.

I'm not the kind of person who bemoans how technology and modernity are keeping us apart from one another, but I'm not foolish enough to believe that things like YouTube and social networking websites are actually bringing people closer together--perhaps in an organizing sense, in a mobilizing sense, but never making quality interaction among people, surely. Right? Maybe? Instead, I think it's some unknown mixture of the two. Our language is becoming these videos, truncated for cultural ease--like that joke about the prisoners telling jokes in prison*. Our consciousness is becoming the translation of Twitter feeds.

Help us, I want to scream. But, to whom? And from what?


*Let me know if you want to hear that joke.