Middle-aged Spread

You may or may not have noticed, but the blog has spread out a little. I’ve added a hundred or so pixels to the width of this column in the blog.

I tried 200 pixels, but the font size is too small for lines that long, so I trimmed it back. And no, I don’t want to up the font size, though of course you may do that on your own—that’s always been part of the browser spec.

Why did I do it? Well, it’s a necessary first step in being able to accommodate YouTube’s new widescreen format for videos, but that’s not really it because this blog’s always been about me me me me ME! (that’s also why I went independent instead of joining that self-satisfied comment-hell of a bear-echo-chamber, ELL-JAY!)

Another change, which has yet to materialize but which I intend to work on: Facebook seems to be sapping a lot of my energy in sips, updating status and commenting hither and thither and I’ve been writing less, both here and elsewhere and that needs to find some better balance.

Success on this front will be obvious.

Or? Tumbleweeds and crickets…

25 Things About Me

  1. I am the middle son of three boys. My older brother Anthony is 2 years older; my younger brother Sam is 14 months younger. My parents were certifiable.
  2. I went to art school from ages 7 to 15, after school once a week for 2 hours per session.
  3. I wrote a novel in 1997-1998. The first draft of the manuscript was 556 pages long.
  4. I was six years old the first time I was a caregiver to someone with a terminal illness.
  5. I was 31 years old the last time.
  6. I’m still amazed, each and every day, that I get to live in San Francisco.
  7. I visited the Netherlands in 1999, and everywhere I went, even though I was with a bunch of Americans, Nederlanders spoke to me in Dutch. And everywhere I went, I knew each place and knew what was around the next corner, especially in the fishing village of Enkhuizen. I’d never been there before. It was so spot-on I was spooked for weeks. I’m certain that I was Dutch once. At least once.
  8. I like pictures and sculptures of suns with rays around them and smiley faces on them.
  9. And green men.
  10. Even though I have blue eyes, I have a thing for men with blue eyes. Or men with very dark and shiny eyes.
  11. I’ve learned that whenever someone says, “It’s just sex”, a lie is being perpetrated. Always.
  12. When I was three, I knew all the words to “Wilkommen” from Cabaret in all three languages, phonetically.
  13. I had my very own Auntie Mame, my Aunt Toots (Julia), and I didn’t have to lose my own parents in order to have her. She died one month after Allen died in the summer of 1995. I hated the summer of 1995.
  14. The first person I ever fell in love with was a girl. Her name was Marti Lawrence.
  15. The first real relationship I ever had was with Allen Howland and he completely understood about Marti.
  16. Working at Apple taught me the truth in that old saw, “Never meet your heroes in person.”
  17. The iPhone has validated years of my personal philosophy about the web browser.
  18. You wish you had my parents.
  19. My mom likes to play a paternity shell game with my dad(??) about me and my brothers(??). My dad(??) and I think it’s hilarious but my brothers(??) get skittish about it.
  20. I’ve seen the movie Grease well over 50 times, most of which were long before the age of the VCR, much less the DVD or iTunes.
  21. I despise anyone who willingly surrenders their individuality or their humanity, by an inch or a mile, for a moment or a lifetime, for fun or forever. “Pups” are worthless and “Bears” can be ruinous.
  22. When I was in second or third grade, when walking home from school, a younger student walked down to swelled banks of Toby’s Creek. We all pled with him to come back up, but he wouldn’t. He drowned when the waters took him away. The boy’s parents sued and called me and my friend all sorts of things and accused us of egging him on and daring him. It wasn’t until I was a grownup that I understood how my folks could be upset and angry at the boy’s mom for accusing me, yet defend her to me at the same time. See #18.
  23. Growing up, I was an altar boy, a lector, and my job in junior high and high school was doing pretty much all the office work for St. Therese’s Church in Shavertown, PA. The pastor, Fr. Joseph Sammons, was one of the kindest, most decent, bosses I’ve ever had.
  24. I grew up Catholic, but I am no longer so. Life is like a puzzle that makes a picture that others have defined. I used my [god given] talents to take my view of that life apart, only I put it back together for myself, making a picture that was all my own. The edges weren’t straight lines and there were a few pieces left over and no longer needed. Those leftovers were god & religion. I discarded those.
  25. I believe that reality is subjective and that, when you get the hang of it, you can move yourself from el mundo malo to el mundo bueno by manipulating surface energies.

House Hunters International

I know it was just a small hosting role, but House Hunters International just isn’t quite the same without Suzanne Whang hosting it.

In fact, there is no host anymore, just a voiceover, and I recognize the voice: it’s the daughter of the mother-daughter thorazine-team who on-screen-hosted the Million-dollar-week of House Hunters last year.

Bring Suzanne back!

Do I ask for that much, world+dog?

Chess

Watch this.

This man has given me the first little bit of hope in all the abrogating hypocrisy of the inauguration. <br/><br/><br/><br/>

<br/><br/><br/>

Whitehouse.gov

It should be one of those days. It will be one of those days. January 20, 2009.

It’ll be in what passes for an elementary level history text book twenty years from now.

But today isn’t what everyone’s saying it should be for me.

Maybe it’s just the few things that Obama’s done that are sticking in my craw and they’re more than just annoying, they’re painful.

Or maybe it’s just that I’ve finally run out of gas on the Obama Express, when I voted for Hillary and it’s time to say that I voted for not-Bush. I voted for not-Republicans and not-more of the same.

Check out this part of whitehouse.gov:

Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

All well and good, but he also stated unequivocally and perfectly guard-paged with silence and therefore trussed-up into a soundbite that he is opposed to same-sex marriage, so maybe Obama himself is just voting not-not-opposed?

But hey, some say it’s a symbolic victory that he put up any verbiage at all on whitehouse.gov itself to gay people.

It’s symbolic. It’s a symbolic victory.

Blah blah blah. It’s a symbolic victory and the Prop 8 win was a blessing in disguise.

Fuck, maybe we should just keep racking up these immaterial symbolic victories and these very much material losses and before you know it, we’ll bomb ourselves to some stone age victory!

Feh.

To Obama, it’s just a difference of opinion and everyone must find some level to come together in civility.

I mean, if he could find some way to come together in “civility” with Rick Warren, who equated same-sex marriage with incest and statutory rape and bestiality—oddly, that motherfucker Rick Warren is on my TiVo right now giving his all-inclusive-except-for-those-of-us-who-don’t-believe-in-a-god invocation—maybe we should go and find someone out there who’s repeatedly referred to Obama as a nigger, who’s referred to his wife as a whore, who’s found any manner of horrific insult to Obama’s young daughters…find that man and have Obama ask that man to come to dinner at his house.

Find that man and have that man agree to civil language—civility in language and no more than language—and have Obama agree to break bread with the man? Do that and then I might believe Obama really means what he says.

Until then? He’s a politician talking out of his asshole just like everyone else.

He’s already changed his mind about same-sex marriage so he could become President.

Maybe he can change my mind?

Romantic Comedies Say The Darnedest Things

Nothing is real, nothing exists without a background grid against which to perceive it. A white circle cannot be seen on a white field.

The trees in Central Park are more beautiful because of the monstrous man-made towers stabbing the skies around them. The skyscrapers, for that matter, stand more solemn for the grand green fractals of trees playing at their pomposity when autumn rolls around.

Just the same comes humor in the middle of desperate times, or even more accessible to me, gravitas during lilting, funny good humor:

Mary and her mother, Catherine are having lunch. Mary is telling her mother about discovering her husband Stephen has been cheating on her.

<br/>MARY<br/> …you have no idea how this feels<br/>

<br/>CATHERINE<br/> Well, let me try…It feels like someone kicked you in the stomach. It feels like your heart stopped beating. It feels like that dream, you know the one where you’re falling and you want so desperately to wake up before you hit the ground but it’s all out of your control. You can’t trust anything anymore. No one is who they say they are. Your life is changed forever and the only thing to come out of the whole ugly experience is no one will ever be able to break your heart like that again.

Maybe it’s that the humor leaves you vulnerable. It’s not that it leaves you open or exposed in that sneak-attack sort of way in that heavy moment pounces on you leaving you wounded because that would work at cross purposes. No, it’s more like the humor keeps you open to the loveliness and grace of things, the gentleness and gentility that grants you the luxury of smiles and laughter in the first place, that prepares you to receive a sadder sentiment without defensiveness snapping into place before the lesson can be absorbed instead of deflected.

And what Catherine says is true, at least for me it’s proven so. Most of it. The heart stops upon such a discovery. Time stops so that you can parse the new knowledge, because the knowledge strikes deep into your own sense of reality: someone you’ve let in so deep has unsheathed something sharp hacked away for no better reason than the novelty of watching things bleed and “I was bored” and “It was just a cut and didn’t mean anything”.

Later in the movie, the following transpires:

<br/>MARY<br/> There should be a pill that you can take to make love go away.

<br/>CATHERINE<br/> Why would you want to make it go away? It’s hard enough to find it in the first place.

You still go back, maybe not with the same person—or maybe you do, and let someone in and just as deep and invite them into your own sense of reality and depend on them inasmuch as you depend on yourself.

Some come out of that first experience certain that “no one will ever be able to break your heart like that again”, but I’ll never feel that kind of certainty.

That kind of pain, yes. Certainty? No.

Saints Preserve Us

There are many Fantastic Festivals Of The World of course, the overwhelming majority of which occur without notice except by respective locals. But then again that’s probably what makes them as fantastic as they are. We take what always is, what always was, and make it festive. Festoon the skies and bauble the walls. A fry up, a dress up. Play it up and dance it up and everything’s different for a day.

But if everything were different there’d be no celebration of home. One need only steer untoward and untowards. Look down, not up and you know.

Sidewalks. Whenever it is they stay the same, they collect what used to be celebratory, they don’t participate.

Wherever they are, they’re just there, the same no matter where you are. The streets have no name and every street looks the same.

Rubbish.

Once learned, an image of a sidewalk is enough to conjure the name of the place the picture was taken and trip the lock to the memory box.

Sidewalks are always different in fact, small concrete squares in San Francisco, wide avenues unto themselves in Harlem, sparkly and with worn to rounded pebbles in Pittsburgh or even largely absent, like in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

In Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, the sidewalks are narrow, angled down and away from the old wooden buildings, buildings stacked upon one another, no wasted space. Storm-shutters made of old wood flank windows of old wood. Wooden doors with enormous iron hinges close off what’s private, could open any time, a threat to those of us who walked those tilted walkways.

The tilt helped balance the difference in short, short me and tall tall Allen, the only walking trip beyond the grand veranda outside our hotel room made during the week on the island. We’d made it down into Charlotte Amalie with few words, breaths better spent on the long leg throws he called walking.

Shopping, browsing, walking, picture taking, resting. A beer for me and a soda for him. Time for meds. More shopping and I got lost or he did. Separation and calls out. Shopping alone, anything he’d like?

Tourist crap, trifles. Trinkets and take-aways, crap stamped with “Charlotte Amalie” and “Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands”. However much later we find each other again and he’s toting a large bag.

Flash of recognition across the marketplace. Flash of more than that. Flash of that thing that makes us Us. Do you know that thing? Have you seen it leap across an open space and wonder why no one else has marked its path or noted its trail? Time Itself crackles and the light bends putting everyone else in special shadow.

He hands me the bag and we walk again down a narrow street on a narrow sidewalk, a quieter street and a sparser sidewalk and with no special reckoning or beckoning he on the curb side and I on the building side we configure ourselves and walk towards nowhere in particular but in the same direction. Neither of us knows where we’re going but We do.

And he lights a cigarette and I hate them but only on principle because I love the smell of them and the steps he takes, smacking the pack and pulling out just the one and reaching for the lighter and cupping his hand and taking that first pull while putting the lighter away and the anticipation of his left arm as it swings around behind me…

But it was Then And he was There And I am There

But this is Now and I can’t be there, not for long and not by choice…

My choices are limited, you see. It’s never a choice to live in the past, though some seem to live in the past. But no one does. One lives wishing. Wishing and whiling away their present lives, wishing they were still back there in the past.

But when you’re not trying, and when days like today happen, calendars in their jackboots trouncing over graves and flowerbeds and faces and dates and carpets…

and he’s right there in the field of your field, and you’re not touching because his skin on your skin is almost too much to bear, but you do bear it because you know that having to let go, to stop touching will be too much to bear.

And this, against this, in measure against this, sometimes sex is almost an insult, so fleeting and trivial, so brief and distracting, a gadfly fruit fly nipping biting down hard at this kind of Together and it’s so easy to see and why don’t they see?

…and his hand lands ingloriously on my left shoulder and falls forward, too long to stay put and we walk along and there’s just too much crap in this bag I’m carrying and who’s it for?

Hush, I’m told, and yes, it’s crap, but we’re here and they’re not, and Pat Robertson paid for our trip, remember?

Yes, I smiled and we walked.

I don’t remember how much more we walked, nor what really the rest of Charlotte Amalie looked like except in pictures and postcards I’ve seen since then. I remember we read a lot of books and I remember that I read both tomes of Angels in America (bad, bad idea, but I didn’t know what they were really about back then when I bought them).

There are some years when Allen’s birthday passes without notice except that a few days later I will have realized that it had passed and I’ll shrug a little shrug and wish a quiet birthday wish and some years it’ll be more and some years it’ll be much more.

It’s hard to say where on the scale this year fits, no matter what you might think at this point. There was a show on TV about St. Thomas a few days ago and from there to there to there to here to here to here and here I am.

Happy Birthday, Yog. I miss the hell out of you.

Questionable Aims, Very Bad Aim

This is very upsetting.

Some cowards took to the Castro and vandalized the Most Holy Redeemer Church in the Castro in San Francisco:

MostHolyRedeemer1.jpg

<br/>

MostHolyRedeemer2.jpg
<br/><br/> Any other Roman Catholic building in the entire City I might have had mixed feelings about, but Most Holy Redeemer? You stupid fucks have no idea what you’re doing.

Do you have any sense of history?

This is the problem I have with protesters, radicals, reactionaries. No sense of history and their place in it. No sense of respect for anything. No sense of subtlety or honor.

Contrarian doctrinaires have no room for thought, much less forethought.

But hey, you vandals got your adrenaline fix, you fucking junkies. Never mind whether or not you pushed any cause forward or not, you got your own jollies.

Just in case you’re keeping score—and I know you’re not—you set us back.

Dumb fucks.