8/18/14

Garlands

I got off work on Friday afternoon early, but it didn't even feel like work because I was working from home. I went to Vanessa's for lunch and had that wasabi noodle salad PLD gets, and it was really spicy and made my nose run. I came home and napped and puttered around, feeling frustrated that everything starts so late at night. I went to Nowhere bar to see WITCH CAMP's DJ set. WITCH CAMP is, naturally, Isis (Nath Ann Carrera) & Isis (Amber Martin). They're definitely my favorite DJs in New York right now. We don't need to have the same favorite everything, but if you want to here obscure 60s psychedelia, feminist punk rock gems, prog-rock orgiastic anthems, balls-deep soul and satanic disco, theirs is the party you need to be at. I got there right at the beginning at 10pm when they were getting set up. I drank some J├Ągermeister to get excited, but then I had to leave to rush downtown.

Here's a picture of Isis and Isis behind the ones and twos:



After some dancing and chatting I ran downtown to the Bureau of General Services Queer Division for Gio Black Peter's art opening: "The Night Gardener". It featured some glory hole portraits, drawings, paintings and photos he's been working on in the last year, and it also featured a king of play, a theater piece he made called "the Longest Night of the Year" and it was read/performed by: Gio Black Peter, Susanne Oberbeck (a.k.a. No Bra), Brian Kenny, Gage of the Boone, Max Steele, and Jordan Hall, with music by composer Gordon Beeferman. I was totally thrilled and honored to be included in this project and I hope I did okay! Everyone in it is obviously a fantastic artist in their own right, and it was a really cool if somewhat short little performance. Brian Kenny's performance particularly impressed me, I knew he'd bust something wonderful out. I've been a fan of Gio's work since before I ever met him, and to see his new stuff is really cool. The piece was kind of abstract, dark and funny. Sardonic. And weirdly musical, jarring, funny and... I don't know. Scary? He's like Brecht. I think of GBP as being a punk in the same way I think Brecht was a punk. It's not really about flamboyance or the posturing of rebellion, so much as a really engaged kind of curiosity about human nature and how to measure it by adding power, society, history, etc. It was rad. I never thought my life would include, like, just casually going to see one friend DJ then be in some cool performance art piece downtown. I felt very lucky and I still feel very lucky.

After the performance and the opening we went to Gio's house to hang out and I played with his and Neil's cat 2 Shy, who I am totally in love with an obsessed with. I took dozens of photos of us together but this is the best one:



I sneaked back uptown to 14th St. to catch the very last call of Witch Camp. Like book-ends or something, then I got home. Saturday I was mostly lazy. I went to the gym early and spent the rest of the day laying around my house, before meeting my old college chum Marcus for coffee down by the waterfront. I love that man.

Then I went on up to Thrust, a performance series organized by Ruby and Julia. The last one I went to featured miss Tommy, this one featured Kayla and Anthony and it was so cool! It was on a gorgeous rooftop in Williamsburg, right after sunset. A really cool mix of performances, writers/readers, musicians, and a cool crowd. I had a blast. So much of a blast that we stayed on the roof (which belonged to a friend of one of the organizers) until almost 1 or 2 in the morning? It was kind of silly. Stopped by GAG! at Metro and that was reliably cute, right.

Sunday got off to a slightly rough start but was soon chugging along swimmingly thanks to the fact that I got to spend it hanging out with birthday girl Julia a.k.a. Jiddy No-No a.k.a. Ewok Vixen. I picked her up in Greenpoint and then we met up with our dear friend Isabelle at the Reynard where we got very fancy drinks and fancy food. I had a peach sandwich that was grilled peaches and almond butter and a weird stinky cheese. It was so good. We also had some Lillet. THEN we met up with Jiddy's Dad who had been record shopping in Greenpoint at Ramona's where they really do make the best negronis anywhere. We came back to Jiddy's house and hung out for a bit more and I took this cute photo of her there:



I came home and watched movies and ate Thai food and passed out. Woke up this morning and immediately got annoyed by reading FaceBook. Then I realized I don't have to-- I don't have to read it, I don't have to get annoyed. None of it, everything is optional. Instead I meditated and then made breakfast and that was pretty great. This is wisdom in action! Tonight I'm going grocery shopping, then to the gym, then to rehearse MAPPLETHORPE and some other songs at the Spectrum. Then maybe to sleep. We'll see.

Some thoughts about secrecy. How there's no way to talk about certain things without going a little but nuts about it. Or without incriminating yourself. Thinking also this thing about friendship, or familiar people, how there's that thing when she's touching you in a way while she talks to you on your back, you hips, whispering in your ear for the first time. I forgot I started writing a poem a few months ago and put it away but I found it again this morning saved on my phone on the train and I was so happy to see it.

8/15/14

Deep Cuts / What is a Man

I went with Max B to see miss Amber Martin's show at Joe's Pub on Tuesday. I am totally in love with and obsessed with Amber Martin. I think she's a comic genius, a shockingly empathetic and intuitive performer, and she posses truly magnificent gifts. I don't know what to say. I'd like to write books about her. I'm such a fanboy. Anyway, her show was a series of songs she loves and has grown up with, and she sort of told her story through her love of music. It showed. There's such a palpable difference between someone doing something because they want to be cute or make some point about their prowess, and someone doing something because they love it. Amber Martin is a fan of what she calls the "deep cut"; she prefers to cover songs you've maybe never heard of, but definitely should seek out. This is why she's such a great DJ: she has fantastic taste in music and an encyclopedic knowledge of music history, and an earnest and electric curiosity about how artists work, how people convey emotions. But there's also a subtler point here, too; by choosing these "deep cuts", Amber superimposes herself, her taste, her story, her technique, onto the songs. It may not matter that you haven't heard this Andrea True Connection song before, because if you do track down the LP, you'll still compare it to Amber's version. Amber lives in the past and the present and the future at the same time. It's a tricky thing, this thing of letting love guide you through space/time. It's hard, not everyone can do it. Amber believes that you can, and she invites you to join her. I loved her show and I love Amber Martin and she is a genius. She talked a bit about being a witch, how she was born into a secret lineage of witches. I thought: that's right. She also practices Rock and Roll, which is becoming an ever-more arcane and occult practice. She knows the Old Ways of Heavy Metal. Rock on. Blessed Be.

After the show, Max B and I hung out with Amber and Jill and Rob and Brett in the upstairs at Joe's, congratulating everyone and falling in love. Then we went to Acme, which was cute, because we danced to Vanity 6's "Nasty Girl" and that's maybe one of my favorite songs in the world. Max B and I took a cab to Queeraoke and had fun there until last call.

The next day I woke up hungover, ate some californian chex mix and went to the Issey Miyake sample sale. I got there later than I wanted to, since it was only open from 8am-3pm. I saw a guy enter the building at the same time as me. We nervously waited for the elevator. He was much more nervous than I was. "I thought there'd be a line. I'm so surprised..." he said. I grunted in response because I was hungover. "I mean, I wanted to come before lunch." He needn't have worried. We got to the space and it was huge, tons and tons and tons of clothes, but not a lot for men. Not terribly crowded either. I was getting into it, starting to feel my west coast oats, if you get my drift. The men's selection was small, there was a real chatty guy (maybe he worked there, or he was an assistant to one of the customers) who sighed and whimpered to me that there were slim  pickings for men. Right, but like... what's a man, right? I saw groups and pairs of fashion cogniscenti guys, the type of men who wear long skirts, trying on the so-called "women's" pieces. Most of the customers were older white women. There were some younger people like me, but for the most part, it was people who were just sprucing up their wardrobe. That was the cool and weird thing about this. It was a sample sale from a luxury designer, whose clothes were very expensive, even marked down 75%, and the people that came to the sample sale were... regulars. These were women I overheard, over and over and over again, who were replacing their favorite pieces. "I have that one but in a skirt, so I'm getting the top." or "I've had this one for years, it's old, so I wanted another one. I love it." It was nuts. They were talking about $1000 polyester dresses. Marked down to $250, but still. One sweet looking woman watched me try on a jacket and said "Oh, sorry-- I'm just looking at you because I'm shopping for my son." I wish my mom would shop for me at Issey Miyake and I bet she wishes she could too. I wanted a jacket or coat but there weren't many that looked like they'd fit me. So I found lots of crazy pants. You know me, I love a fussy bottom. I found a pair of circle-cut Pleats Please trousers with dark navy blue fur. A kind of fake polyester wool. They're amazing. I know they're amazing because multiple people tried to take them away form me. Some customers would wistfully eye them and say "Oh, those are so...nice..." as I walked past them. Others would stop me and ask if I was getting them, if they could try them on real quick. One woman, a lovely older lady who looked like she collected art and probably had a good sense of humor but not right at that second, reached out and tried to grab them out of my hands. She hissed "Those aren't men's pants, are they? I don't think those are men's." And like, okay; point well taken. But again, what's a man? I got the pants. I love them and they were exorbitant. Happy Birthday to Myself.

Last night I saw Molly Pope perform at 42 West. I love her on such a deep level that it's hard to find a cogent way of talking about her. She's hilarious, poignant, deeply nuanced, intelligent and... I don't know, breathtaking. I love seeing Molly perform. There is no one who sings like her. Her sense of humor and humanity and gravitas is scintillating and I had such the best time at her show. She's performing at 42 West the next couple of Thursdays this month, and you should go.

On my way there I finally had a chance to go to Ur Head Is Mine, a series of performances and happenings curated by Yolene and Yulan Grant at AC Art Institute Gallery. Really bummed that I hadn't been able to make it to the previous performances, but was glad to see this one and definitely will come back. The roster of performances is a wonderful cross-section, folks from NYC and elsewhere, and it's always nice to have a capital A Art space to play in. Last night I saw Christopher Udemezue perform, and was struck as always by the way he negotiates complexity onstage. I've seen him perform a few times, and it's always different, but yet heartbreakingly related. It was a rewarding, frightening, sad and scary week to see this work. I don't know what to say other than I'm glad I did see it, as I always am, and especially this week.

Feeling weird about America this week. Here is a clip from MAPPLETHORPE sort of tangentially related:



So, the thinking is: the cops won't necessarily always protect you. Furthermore, the cops could sometimes be out to get you. Specifically black people and specifically kids and specifically poor people. There is no security, the power of protection is not absolutely good. We don't and never have lived in a world where that can be relied on. Your disappointment with discovering this is on you. The reality is awful. I don't know what to do about it. How to think about it. It's not, I realize, about police brutality. And it's not about gun control, either. Not just that. It's about racism, it's about who gets to live and who gets to die, who gets to be a person. Who gets killed as a possible threat, and who gets sympathy as "mentally ill". Who gets to be safe. Who gets the benefit of the doubt. Who does the doubting. What, again, is a man. Who gets to be human.

It's Friday and I'm only working a half day, from home. I'm going to go out to lunch and then I'm going to Gio Black Peter's opening at the Bureau of General Services Queer Division. His new show is called The Night Gardener and it includes a play he's written called "The Longest Night of the Year" and I'm in the play! And we're performing it at midnight tonight. So I'm going to have to take a nap or something before then.

8/12/14

One of the new neighbors is moving. This guy I would sometimes see in the neighborhood, on my way to or from the train. I see him a lot at the gym. He's not the most attractive person I'd ever seen, but he's local. I don't want to be rude. He's cute. He definitely doesn't think I'm cute though. I've seen him on Grindr and said hi to him to no response. He lives around the corner from me. I'd sometimes see him at gay bars, with a dude who I think is less attractive than me. He seems to have similar interests. I think we could have been friends. Anyway, I've often felt kind of humiliated running into him because I run into him a lot, and he clearly isn't interested in me, and it's been a kind of frequent reminder of something. Shame? Anyway, through the serendipity of social networks I came across one of his pages and saw that he's moving. So maybe that chapter is closed.

I was hanging out over the weekend with someone and talking about this Bushwick drag coterie. You know, these bristly young Brooklyn drag queens. It's possible to become a kind of a star in this fairly specific way. Internet famous or something. I was telling the person I was with (who I have a fantastic and 100% unrequited crush on, it's awesome) so I feel like a voyeur to this Bushwick drag moment. They're all nice to me, they generally make really cool and radical and interesting work, and I'm so grateful to be living in New York right now to get to see it. To the extent that my schedule and old bones allow me to. But I said, you know, that they're totally separate from me. That I don't really know any of them, it's kind of like a high school clique or something. i don't mean that in a mean way-- I just mean that they're a circle of friends and I'm not part of it but I still want to go to their shows and give them tips and applaud, etc. The person I was wish kind of scoffed and said "Right, but I'm sure they know who you are. They must," They mustn't, tho. There's no reason for them to. I don't want anyone to know me.

Later, the next day, last weekend, I was out for a jog with another friend, and I don't know how it came up but he made some kind of encouraging remark. I was saying I didn't think I could do something, I felt pessimistic, and he said "Oh come on, you're Max Steele!" I responded: "I'm not though. I'm really not. It's not like that."

I don't feel like me, but I think that's for the best. If you did feel like you, that could be scary.
I was frustrated today but now I'm not anymore.

8/11/14

Burns

Where did the summer go. I've eaten it. I've dried it out, ground it into a powder and snorted it. I've stirred it into my yogurt, smeared it on my sunburn. How has it been three weeks? I went to Seattle, and then I went to Alameda, and then I came back to New York and I turned 30.



I flew from a very bad mood straight to SeaTac airport and into the arms of my best friend Bobo. We hung out at her apartment in Capitol Hill all weekend. She works in a restaurant and all of her friends work in restaurants, so everywhere we went people kept giving us free food, free coffee, free cocktails or something. It was lovely. Seattle was gorgeous. It didn't smell like ANYTHING. Literally every place was blooming with strange, wonderful and gorgeous plants. I hung out with Bobo's can Nino (named after Nina Simone before his gender had been discovered) and fell in love with him. I ate very well. We went out to five bars in one night and we went to a karaoke bar and I sang the Barbra Streisand version of "Stoney End" and nobody got it but I got it and I gave it to them.

Went to a very woo-woo yoga class with Bobo on my last day in town, it was lovely. We talked a lot about "sourcing" the Earth's energy in order to provide stability for our practice, while we opened our hips to access our previously hidden potential, and uncover buried memories. There was some call-and-response chanting in Sanskrit. A far cry from the bicycle crunches of NYC yoga.

Flew down to Alameda, drank Courvoisier on the plane because it was full of screaming babies. Had so much fun hanging out with my freaky and fabulous parents. We celebrated my dad's birthday and ate too much fantastic food all week.

I was reunited with my old friend MayGay in Berkeley, we hung out and climbed around town. He looked fantastic, as always. I also saw my birthday twin homegirl Sam/Appaloosa, ditto great to see her. We've known each other since we were 14 or so-- Like, half out lives. What a funny feeling.

Maygay and I went and danced at Aunt Charlie's for the Tubesteak Connection party, but we were the only ones there. Bus Station John was the DJ. We were there early. It was cute. I hung out with my friend Grey. I spent an afternoon hanging out with Rumi from the Cockettes. I did a really tremendous amount of shopping at thrift stories. So much so that I had to mail my treasures home, I couldn't tote them on the plane.



I had only a few and fleeting bratty moments. As I naturally do whenever I'm with my parents. Becoming, again, a baby, for a few moments at a time, whenever I'm back in the same dynamic.

I came back last Sunday morning and went to go see the voluptuous Horror of Karen Black perform in Thompkins Square park, and got a haircut in the East Village. Then I spent basically all of last week celebrating my 30th birthday, on various levels. On Tuesday I went to karaoke with Sister Pico. On Wednesday I went to that Queer Cocktail Party with the queer artists. Thursday, my actual bday, I went to Zabar's, to CdG (to buy perfume ONLY, jeez) and out to dinner with Erin and Ben, then to See Jeffery and Cole's show. After that I went to Julius to see lovely baby bday twin Brian, who was celebrating his birth there as well. Friday I worked from home then hosted an epick birthday part at the Hose with Jessica, another darling Bday twin and my neighbor. The party was fun! A little overwhelming but great.

I'm skipping over a lot because I don't want to have to track down photos. The rest of the weekend I spent in a daze, feeling sorry for myself and indulging in every appetite I could.

I'm toying with the idea of quitting smoking. I'm going to a dermatologist tomorrow night, and I'm making an eye exam appointment this week. I am ready for love. I'm hungry. I'm going to rehearse tonight for MAPPLETHORPE, for the performance at Afterglow in Provincetown in a month. It feels strange. I painted my nails for the party, something I haven't done in a long time.

What else. I feel okay.