Monday, February 26, 2007

Thank you, Debbie Reynolds

The Second Annual Blarg took place last Saturday night.

Everyone in attendance seemed to have gained some pleasure from this event, and, I gained a bit of insight into what makes us who we are.

NYC bloggers do not make small talk, and every subject is fearlessly trespassed. We are rather a bunch of surgeons-manques, sure of our scalpels and undaunted by social bloodshed. Nothing doesn't fascinate us, so we pay attention to the details of urinals as carefully as we would the separation of Siamese twins. (I do not know why the second one, covered in cardboard, had a picture of an egg-in-grass pasted on it. I think these were at Dick’s Bar. Maybe.)

dick's mens room

At one point, I raised lens at blogless-Ken, Paul and Mark. After I examined the dismal first pic,


I lowered the camera and told them a secret I learned at age ten from Debbie Reynolds, speaking on television. When you have your picture taken, do not give in to your natural instinct to screw your face up into a smile. That will always make you look many years older than you actually are. Instead, think “Surprise”. Open your eyes widely, do not raise your eyebrows, and open your mouth with a drop of the jaw.

They acknowledged the instruction, and this second shot demonstrates the truth of what I feel to be the most important lesson of my life.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ah Youth

C and I stepped out of Great Jones and into an astonishment of warm sunlight that feels a month early. We have just had eggs and cornbread and bloodies with Joe, Eddie and David who is now kissing us all good-bye and is rushing off to Boston to visit his boyfriend. (He is radiant with romance.) We other four head uptown and west on foot and come upon an annual event in Union Square: The Pillow Fight.

Feathers flew and shirts were damned. Pink haired goth girls sat on curbing like stoned Helens of Troy, tipping their ashes dangerously into the white stuffing that swirled aound their little black boots, while the boys mounted each other and rode into the fray with delirious battle cries.

ah youth

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Disappointed, Nostalgic but Sweeter.

I am in the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport waiting for my flight back to the Wretched Little City. I am at the gate, studying the carpet, wondering what she looked like, the designing woman who suggested the installation of a pattern composed of orange hibiscus and giant purple moths over a sea of tealish twigs.

airport carpet

If only the moths would wake up and chew this carpet, the airport might replace it with something less lurid. I bet she looks like that frail single woman with the jet black hair who designs yacht interiors, and who lives with her mother in the apartment next to ours. They both use the same bottle of hair dye. (A gossipy queen clutching a tiny dog in a red plaid jacket told me this in the elevator this morning. His eyelashes fluttered as he said, “The color is called ‘Raven’s Wing’”)

First, the disappointment.

My affection for NBA basketball is ancillary to my affection for Jason Kidd who plays for the Nets,


and is rooted in my experience as captain of my High School seminary basketball team…cheerleaders. Grabbing the belts of, and climbing up the rumps of my larger squadmates after shouting “Gimme an S!” and then looking at the approvingly ecstatic Catholic faces in the packed gymnasium bleachers from atop a human pyramid of future priests made me giddy, as they screamed their love at our athletic erection by dutifully repeating the spelling of the name of our patron saint (which should have been, but was not, Mary).

Given this, I was first in line at the bookstore of the Galleria Mall to get John Amaechi’s autobiography, Man in the Middle. Mr. Amaechi is the only NBA player to come out of the closet. This is his story.


I regret spending $25.00 on this book (plus tax). Here are the reasons:

1) This is the story of a very tall, fat and friendless kid whose admirable single mother escaped a threatening husband and raised her family in England, giving her son the drive to become something even bigger than his shoe size (15). He temporarily sheds his fat and builds a body to match his acquired athletic skills. You would think there would be the usual set of photos inserted on glossy pages about half way through the book that are de rigeur for this type of breezy bio. I always go through them before reading a word of the text. The best of the lot were the ones in Liz Taylor’s effort, Elizabeth Takes Off, and in Katharine Hepburn’s Me. In this case, the only photo is the one on the dust jacket. Surely there's a snap of him shoveling a plate of his beloved Twinkies down his throat? Are we to assume this to be an effort to make us take the story more seriously? I think not, given that it is ghost-written in carelessly comic book cadence by the flogging-worthy Chris Bull, who makes Mr. Amaechi seem like a darker and taller version of Caspar the Friendly Ghost. Without the before and after pics, my heart strings sag, untugged. (Really, I bet the publishers cheaped out on the production of this book, doubting it would sell much beyond its headline moment.)

2) This turns out not to be a story about a gay professional basketball player as much as it is the story of a sad child who uses his elongated body to patch together a life that he rather regrets in the long run. He admits to never having loved his sport. Eventually rich, he builds himself a grand house with a huge hot tub before realizing that he has no friends to fill it. He spends a lot of time hammering us with his post-basketball charity work as a helper of needy children. OK, but that’s standard pageant patter. What else ya got ta say?

3) This is a miserably unsexy book about a really sexy circumstance: the locker room and hotel-life of professional sportsmen. Mr. Amaechi seems to have barely been there. Did he even glance at his team mates? If he’s just trying to take some sort of high road by not acknowledging, let alone indulging our sexual fantasies, well I’m sorry, but the result passes beyond prudish clear through to boring. He mentions having had one boyfriend who remains, in this dry account, entirely faceless and mute. He mentions having had sex repeatedly in a library bathroom at Penn State. I was stunned at the blandness and brevity of the telling of this, his first gay sexual experience. He mostly avoids gay bars and wouldn’t consider internet trolling. Too big to be really prissy, he calls to mind the Brontosaurus: hugest of it species, and yet, a taciturn vegan.

4) Mr. Amaechi seems like a nicey-nice fellow, and I would like to have sex (once) entangled in his banyanesque limbs, but given his addiction to carbohydrates and his swishy attitude about Earl Grey tea, God help the man who becomes his boyfriend, forced to sit by the fireplace every night watching Mr. Amaechi’s hips swell faster and larger than K.D. Lang’s.

5) I’d like to say one good thing about this book. I think it unintentionally provides us with a Swarovski crystal clear insight into the contract negotiation system of the NBA, and into the moronic and brutish behavior of team managers, coaches and owners.

New York Pride is in June. I’m guessing Mr. Amaechi won’t be entirely forgotten by then and will probably be featured prominently in an expensive Savile Row suit, waving at us from a convertible, in the parade. After that, he ought to wait ten years, and then try rewriting this little mess, adding the missing ingredients of his sure-to-be-acquired insight and passion.

On to the nostalgic.

We made on offer on that condo. The agent spluttered into his end of the phone connection but has agreed to place it. A low offer means a smaller commission for him, but I let him know that I did my homework and that I would contact the seller directly if he did not convey my offer, as is mandated by law. No one helps the buyer in this game, so you’ve got to move with stealth and steel.

While poking about the condo, I opened a medicine cabinet. I bet Viola was the mother of the airport carpet designer, and, I bet the contractors went home grateful for her specificity as to which end is up.

Viola cabinets

The agent brought us round back to the pool. It is surrounded on two sides by the dense jungle of Birch Park, on a third side by the condo tower, and on a fourth side by this magical view of the rear of the neighboring building. This epitomizes the pre-cast concrete allure of 1960’s Fort Lauderdale that is so embraceable. So want-to-live-inside-itable. So Ray-Ban. So Pucci. So McGuire Sisters.

fort L 1960's

The Sweeter?

Well, I promised I’d be nicer to the guys I met, and I was, and they were really sweet back. More on that soon.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

We are Braindeadlia

Sun-block mixed with wind driven sand gives us a stucco finish. We are like architectural mock-ups for three sphinxes stretched out on towel-draped chaises on the beach. We are each holding his right hand as a ledge over squinting eyes with head tilted up to view the passage of the impossibly lithe personal trainer who is running a group of fluffy pink folks through some gentle paces. His stretchy grey Speedos shrug with apology at not being able to accommodate the extended family of his crotch.

Dieter fishes out the camera and pretends to photograph me, turning the lens stealthily at the last moment to capture the “view”. We are dirty old men with fresh batteries.

We speculate about the black arm covering. Fetish wear a la plage, perhaps.

Rog and Dieter spf their tattoos, explaining that too much sun will fade them. I did not know this, and I luxuriate in the shallow pool of self-absorbant trivia that we hold so dear while we are in Fort Braindeadlia.

Rog reports that he had, at my urging, visited the Clubhouse II last night. He had parked in one of the metered slots without feeding it any coins. Something told him he ought to return to the car before checking into the club. This was fortuitous. He found a policeman writing a ticket. Upon explaining to the officer that he was just going inside to get some change for the meter, he was asked to produce said change, and could not. He fessed up, and the officer had mercy. As Rog fished some change out of the car, the officer said, “You know, I’m not this nice to everyone…”

Tomorrow, I will bring them to look at a condo in a building that I have long admired. I can see it from our terrace. It is on the opposite side of the park from our place.

park tower

(Dieter and Rog live in the pink tower to the left.)

The unit has been entirely gutted. It feels like a city loft and makes the real estate agent’s voice echo as he leads me about. I think I would tint and polish the concrete floors and paint the walls a dark silver. The only reason to move here would be the fact of a guest room and second bath. It’s a buyer’s market now, and this unit is part of an estate. I’d make a ridiculously low offer and forget I ever considered this if they won’t negotiate. Real estate is grim business unless you land a serious bargain. Here is the central room. Like all the others, it looks directly out onto the beach.

park tower lvng rm

I made myself a winning salad while listening to Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy’s gorgeous cover of Walk Away Renee. Mixed greens (not the bitter kind) with summer-invoking Florida-grown plum tomatoes dressed with basil-infused avocado oil and freshly ground pepper.

fll salad

We three have made plans to meet up later at Alibi. I was there last night, and was set upon by a local who does rich hair in Boca. I was carrying on about the differences between New York and Braindeadlia. He took exception to this, and said, “We have culture.”

“Yeah. Right. You mean you had culture, but she died last week at your Seminole casino.”

Why does anyone talk to me? I am not congenial. If C were here with me, I’d be relieved of the obligation to talk that I find increasingly onerous. Is this a sign of age? Tonight, I promise myself, I shall be sweet to everyone I meet, or maybe I’ll stay home.

Happ V Day, Baby. Remember to look in the trunk of my car when you get home from work. As always, wish you were here.