Friday, September 30, 2005

Crazy

Life's in a total uproar at this moment.

Nothing I can't handle, but no time right now to attend to The Mark of Kane. I will be back next week.

Lots to talk about.

Best to all of you!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Morning Again......groan.

Well, we made it through. A little worse for wear, but in one piece.

I had an early night on Friday and was at my job-site bright and early Saturday morning to receive the delivery. Pretty non-eventful, all in all. I managed to hook up with Tim for lunch and bought some Nautica sheets. A sort of tomato soup color. With a vague denim colored pattern. I came home and finally finished Annie Proulx's collection of short stories, Close Range. I read the final story, Brokeback Mountain, in about 20 minutes. Yes, that Brokeback Mountain. Her prose is dry and precise, and her handle on vernacular is remarkable. The story makes explicit all the submerged homoerotic themes not-so-deeply buried in the works of Thomas MacGuane and the films of John Ford. The denouement is, of course, tragic; followed by passages of breathtaking tenderness. I burst into tears reading about a makeshift shrine to lost love. After catching my breath, I read the whole thing again. It's misleadingly simple. I see that a big budget Hollywood movie is coming out shortly, with a couple of young glamorpusses in the leads. I'm not so sure about that. There's nothing pretty about these two characters. The sex is pretty rough and tumble. I'd like to be assured that Ang Lee has not directed an updated version of the old Marlboro cigarette ads. I guess I'll have to break down and see it.

I picked up Tim after work in the evening and we had dinner at one of those old fashioned French restaurants that used to dot Hell's Kitchen. We both wanted cocktails and they let us sit there for a good half hour, drinking Manhattans and sharing pate. Grandmere came out of the kitchen and sat at the small bar to rest her feet and sip her seemingly bottomless tumbler of Dewars. Tim had veal and I had trout, and we were in a pretty fine fettle by dinner's end. Feeling perverse, we wandered around the block to Therapy. We hung out upstairs, leaning against the railing and laughing over the young things pouring forth. We had a friendly bartender who fixed killer drinks and even bought the third round.

Having experienced a surfeit of pretty children, we hopped in a cab and headed over to the Townhouse. From the sublime to the ridiculous, or vice versa. We met some nice gentlemen closer in age to us, had a couple more drinks and poured ourselves back into a cab to my house.

You know of course we were completely hungover Sunday morning. Both of us blew off the gym, though I did manage 150 push ups without my head exploding. Tim went to work and I wandered over later in the afternoon. The first song I played on the new internet jukebox was INX's Elegantly Wasted. I was neither. Met a couple of fine looking young pups. Tim watched amused from behind the bar, and asked me how old I thought they were. I figured they were about 10. Ah, well.

On another note, can someone please explain Orlando Bloom to me? I just don't get it.

Friday, September 23, 2005

(Monday I Got) Friday On My Mind

At this very moment in time, life sucks.

It's 5:56 PM and I'm still at my desk. Where I'll be for at least a couple of hours. Tomorrow morning I'm up before dawn because I'm overseeing a delivery of product for an installation commencing Monday at 7:30 AM. I can handle that.

The downside is I'm not on my way to Tim's house at this very moment, where I'm normally about to enjoy a flight of expertly prepared Martinis. In fact, I'll be sober as a judge for the rest of the evening. Grrr.

Friday night is my favorite night of the week. I look forward to it with er, mounting anticipation all week long. I generally haven't seem Tim in 3 or 4 days and I can't wait. Yes, I know it's ten years later. Yep, I know it's unseemly to like your boyfriend this much, but I do.

This has been our habitual tradition since we first started going out. It's been the very best way for me to get rid of my workday bullshit and slow down into the weekend. Years and years ago, Robert used to say that it took me until Sunday to unwind and then he had to send me back to the mines again. But that doesn't hold true anymore. By the time I wake up next to Tim on Saturday morning, I'm completely renewed and relaxed. And Saturday morning's even better than Friday night.

The really lousy thing about this weekend is that Tim has to work tomorrow in the late afternoon, which means he's putting in a 7 day week. He has his usual Monday through Friday job and then his Sunday gig at the Dugout. He's due at his job tomorrow just when I'm getting off mine. Grrr.

Our plan is to meet up after he gets off, whatever time that is. We'll have dinner someplace quiet and nice, and then go get us a couple of drinks.

Maybe he'll even let me hold his hand.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Redux

I've said it before elsewhere, but I feel I must reiterate:

The term "A-List Bear" is an oxymoron.

Say what you will.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Weekend Update

I'm feeling surprisingly chipper today.

We had a semi-busy weekend, and still managed to get decent rest, which is so important to us older folk.

Friday, after a grueling week, Tim showed up at my house a bit early. I got to answer the door in my briefs, dripping from the shower. After dressing, I managed to fix us a couple Manhattans using a bourbon new to us, Bulleit Frontier Whiskey. All in all very tasty. So tasty in fact, we had two each. I pulled myself together and we wandered out, on our way to dinner and Greg's 30th birthday party.

We dropped in at Live Bait for a burger for Tim and a crab cake for me, plus a couple of beers a piece, thereby guaranteeing us a rosy glow when we finally arrived at said party.

The invitation suggested that alcohol might make a swell birthday gift, but I'd already gotten a Virgin gift card for my musically inclined buddy, so we brought a couple of six packs and headed on up. The combined weight of those beer bottles was handy for the bicep curls I did all the way from the bodega to East 29th Street.

The doorman sent us to the wrong party at first. I could tell the minute we got off the elevator that the crowd of 20-something straight kids looking at us in wonder were not the invited guests. Back on the elevator again, this time consulting the invitation in Tim's pocket. Sure enough we arrived, were greeted by the host, saw Gregg and his (then) very attractive boyfriend, saw Mike and Eric, saw many of the other bear-type denizens that Greg attracts. The world's largest assortment of alcoholic beverages was arrayed in the kitchen. Not an inch of counter space was visible. We headed up to the roof and enjoy the 360 degree views afforded from the 48th floor. It was a lovely night; the moon was almost full, and most of us behaved accordingly. People were extremely friendly. A young man asked Tim and I if we were cover-models for Woofy Couple Magazine. We both thought that was sweet. We generally think that we'd be much more suitable for Mutt & Jeff Weekly. A thin young woman in an ill-fitting bear suit serenaded Greg, causing him to remove his shirt in embarrassment. She was exactly wrong and therefore just right. Midnight rolled around and we had to vacate the roof. It seemed like 90 plus people had crammed into the apartment, sending me into a spasm of claustrophobia. I looked around and noticed several of the same faces I've seen for years. They've never bothered to acknowledge me and that night was no different. When it seemed the most crowded, we begged off and left. I hear everybody went to Snaxx afterwards, but there was no way I was heading down into a basement after that crowd scene.

We hopped a cab across town and got out at 10th Avenue. The scene on 28th Street is completely bizarre. In my alcoholic reverie, it almost seemed like a Coney Island midway, with booths on both sides of the street. It's so strange to see all those people in their finery waiting in line to get into Crobar, choking on the smoke coming from the several vendor carts selling kebabs and such. Ah, the sheer glamour of it all. We pulled into the Eagle, which had that lovely shower curtain stretched across the ground floor bar, printed with instructions to go upstairs. We did.

I know you all love the Eagle. I can't stand that roof space. The halogen and sodium-vapor lighting that pours in through the chain link fencing from the parking lot across the street is harsh, combined with the grim brick walls towering over you. The crowd always seems to be waiting for the person behind you. The bartenders almost never make eye-contact with you when you order a drink. C'mon guys, there's got to be better places than this in New York. It's just not fun.

We headed home and slept in the next morning, had a very lazy day and went back to Tim's that afternoon. We thought we'd head out to Newark for a Portuguese dinner, or to Newark Avenue for Indian cuisine but hit the VIP diner instead. We relaxed and were in bed by 11:00!! On a Saturday night! Nice for a change to feel well rested on Sunday morning.

We headed back into town, Tim to the Dugout and I to the gym, where I got a really excellent workout in. I headed down to see Tim around 5:00. An alright crowd, not to bad for a September night. I was joined by the world renowned Joe.My.God. who spent a good part of the evening regaling me with tales of inappropriate behavior, keeping me in stitches. Gregg stopped by to tell me that he and his attractive boyfriend had parted company the morning before. I was sorry to hear that. They seemed cool together. And Ted's real cute. Birthday boy Greg dropped by for a beer, and we got to indulge in a decent birthday hug and some special birthday kisses. Tim had a good night, and we headed home, crawling into bed before 11:00 and watched the full moon shining down through my terrace doors.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Old Man

I've been invited to a bunch of parties in the next month or so.

One of my many friends named Greg is having a party tonight to celebrate his 30th birthday. Yet another Gregg is celebrating his 40th birthday in a big way a couple of weeks from now. Of course, a non-Greg, yours truly, celebrates his 51st birthday at the end of October.

A rooftop party with all your pals is a swell way to celebrate 30. Renting a bar or club and inviting the multitudes might be dandy for your 40th birthday. I spent my 50th at Keen's Chophouse with a few good friends, a mutton chop and several excellent Martinis.

More than ever, I've been hearing folks bemoan that 40 is the end of gay life. You're old, you may as well get fat, give up the gym and stay home with your cat. It's a sad state of affairs. I've always told Tim that I wasn't going to go down without a fight. Or at least until some child told me to hang it up and act my age. Go home, grandpa.

It's unfortunate that age and it's sometimes attendant wisdom is so widely disparaged in our community. I'm wondering if this is a function of the fact that an entire generation of gay men died out, and there's been few examples of the what it's possible to be in middle age. I certainly don't remember the situation being this dreary and mean when I was in my teens and twenties. There seemed to be no end of fully grown handsome men of varying ages running around for the taking. And take I did.

I must admit I was one of those youngsters who liked "older men". My first partner was 14 years older than me. I had friends who were more than a bit older than that. They mentored me and made my entrance into gay life a bit less rocky, introducing me to a long standing culture, now almost vanished from our city.

Now, we're exposed to bloggers who post pictures of patrons at local haunts, captioned something to the effect of: Drunk and Old. The disdain with which one is greeted in certain bars in this city is palpable. The word troll is bandied about with abandon, apparently referring to anyone over the age of 37. Wise men in their 40's have trained themselves not to initiate conversation with said youngsters in fear of being labeled as such.

There are many things to be said for being in your twenties. Skin quality is lovely at that age. You have a great deal of stamina, if not a matching amount of technique. There's much to be said for youthful exuberance and idealism.

At some point last year I was asked to join Friendster by an acquaintance. I figured what the hell and acquiesced. My wise boyfriend, when asked, said:

"No, thank you. It reminds me of one of my mother's Catholic High School sororities".

In point of fact he was right.

I amassed a small group of said Friendsters. It all seemed like innocent fun. I still like being chosen to participate, a fact that stems from a childhood of being excluded and/or selected last for many activities. I was a bit crestfallen, upon research, to realize I was possibly the oldest Friendster in creation. Still, it seemed harmless.

At some point, a young man of 24 sent me a note, saying that we'd never met, but we definitely should. I found him quite attractive and replied, explaining that his note had made a perfectly awful day a bit brighter. I hoped to run into him at some point. He suggested the Eagle, the following Sunday. Slow as I am, I then realized that people were using Friendster to hook up. It hadn't occurred to me. I'm like that. Duh. I answered ambiguously, and we remained Friendsters for the better part of the next year, with no further contact.

Flash forward to a Sunday in June; a block party on West 28th Street, an homage to a San Francisco street fair that occurs every fall. I'm having a perfectly fine time. I've seen lots of friends and and I'm making new ones. My friend M. comments that my Mojo seems to be in overdrive. I'm extremely popular. Yay.

I'm outside the Eagle, leaning against a car when I spy the young Friendster in question not more than 8 feet away from me. I have a moment to study him. I'm thinking, do I introduce myself? It's been some time since we communicated. I'm cut short as our eyes lock for a millisecond. He knows exactly who I am, and turns away to his group of equally young friends. Ah, well.

The next day I log on to Friendster and see exactly what I knew I'd find. He's deleted me and blocked access to his page as well.

For days I wondered if this was the visitation I'd feared. That some young man would send me packing out to pasture. That I was "too old to cut the mustard" as the (very) old record goes. That I should invest in a wardrobe of Hawaiian shirts and elastic waisted jeans. That I should stop listening to bands like Rilo Kiley and Mates of State and Pedro the Lion. That I should just not bother ever showing up at the Eagle. Was it time to hang up the old jock?

Then I thought: Nah!

Like it or not, I will be old and in your face for as long as I possibly can.

And my final benediction to all those young men coming up now:

May you be blessed with long, long lives.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Porn

Remember, there was alcohol involved.

So, someone brings up that old game we were reminded of during the second season of Queer as Folk. You know...how to determine your porn star name.

You take your first pet's name as your porn-given-name and add the name of the street you grew up on as your surname.

Mine is:

Boots West.

Passable, at best. I look terrible in a cowboy hat.

Tim is:

Rags Ridgewood.

Spectacular.

Much laughter ensues.

What's yours?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Mark

I met him on a Saturday night at Ty's a few years ago.

He was tall; quite a few inches more than me. Now I'm normally not much interested in people taller than me. I don't like looking up. He was nice looking, just a regular guy, but he had a killer smile, which he turned on me like a klieg light.

"I'm talking to you because you're the most handsome man in this bar", he said, with a wolfish grin.

Oh, jeez, I thought. That old chestnut. I tossed him back one of my own.

"I bet you say that to every guy you meet".

In fact I learned later that he did exactly that. That he had learned that flattery would disarm a person long enough to drop their guard and talk with him. I was to prove no exception.

So we talked. He was new in town that winter, having just re-located from San Francisco. He was flying back and forth, setting up his dot-com PR firm here in New York. He wanted a chance to play in the major leagues, he said. He pumped me for information, all the while flirting outrageously. What did guys like me do for fun around here? Where did we hang out? So...I obliged and filled him in as best I could. I told him that we all tended to assemble at around 5 or so on a Sunday afternoon at the Dugout. That it he'd find people much better looking than me to work that line on. He asked about various neighborhoods and such. In the course of our first meeting, many friends came up, drawn to his animated features and begged introductions. I explained my situation with Tim, got a big kiss anyway. I knew he'd fit in just fine. When Tim collected me to go home, Mark said:

"I owe you dinner. Do you like Nobu?"

Well, in point of fact, I can take it or leave it, but I said yes, and we exchanged cards. I knew I'd probably never see him again.

The following night I was in the coat check line at the Dugout. Remember how insanely crowded that bar used to be at 5:30 on a Sunday? It was moving slowly and I was impatient. Suddenly I felt someone rubbing against my butt. I turned around and it was Mark, right on schedule. I showed him around and made a few introductions. Mark worked the room like a pro, grinning like a madman, introducing himself and buying many shots for any takers. He had a small fan club swarming around him. I was sure he would do fine. A friend and I watched him in amazement.

He came over at the end of the evening and thanked me.

"I owe you dinner".

"I know" I said, "Nobu".

There was the time Mark had one of our more psychotic bears pinned against the bar, and was moving in for the kill. Tim caught my eye from behind the bar and bit his lip. This looked like trouble brewing. I shook my head. Tim grabbed a Sharpie and a cocktail napkin. He jotted something down on it and held it up behind psycho-bear's head so Mark could read it. Mark laughed and broke up the clinch, and moved on. I walked over and asked to see the note. Tim had written "FLEE!!!"

Mark came over after and said "I owe you dinner; both of you!".

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

The last time I saw Mark he snuck up behind my and stuck his hand down the back of my jeans. If you know me, you know this doesn't happen all that often. I jumped sky-high. He just laughed. While he played with my butt, I ventured to ask him about the famous dinner. We both laughed. Business was kind of shaky, I knew. Dot-coms were dropping like flies...the boom was over. He was going back to San Francisco in a couple of days to hustle up what business he could find.

The last time I saw Mark was on TV. September 12th, 2001. His mom, Alice was talking about him and all the other men Flight 93, and there was a picture of Mark in his baseball cap, flashing that lunatic grin.

I'm thinking Tim and I are going to finally have that dinner this week. He owes us. We'll drink to him.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Breathe

I've been in a peculiar mood. Lethargic and on edge, all at the same time.

I suppose part of it is that dreaded "back-to-school" feeling this time of year brings. 46 years later and September still has the power to make me feel anxious. Perhaps I need to up the Buspar dosage in mid August to compensate.

I was concerned because as of this morning Robert and Don were still in the French Quarter. Plan after plan to get them out and on their way to New Iberia seemed to have fallen through, and now I'd lost phone contact again. Finally, He called me this afternoon to say that he and Don and the doggies had made it out with a doctor who was doing triage work in town, and were safely ensconced in a nice little house. Phew.

I can't trust any of the coverage coming out of the city. It's been wrong so often, and now the networks are really working their voodoo on it. It's turning into heartwarming family stories and toys for tots. You know it's a real horror-show, but we just ain't hearing too much about that. The news media has been instructed not to show pictures of the dead bodies that are turning up all over the city. We just get to hear how Oprah and John Travolta flew in to help. Also, for a city with as large a gay population as New Orleans has, you sure as hell ain't hearing much about them. Except maybe that all those Sodomites surely brought the wrath of the Lord down on that city. Which is not what I want to hear right now.

I got an e-mail today from a couple of guys I met years ago. They picked me up in tandem at the Dugout back in the days when they used to close down Weehawken Street on Sunday afternoons. I took them home with me and we had a real nice romp outside on my terrace. They've been living in New Orleans for years now. They have a guest house in the Marigny section, and I've been thinking about them all week, as well. They got out of the city Friday last. Their house was relatively unscathed, but it's definitely last call in that town for a while.

I've been so completely drawn into this disaster that it's surprised me to find no water on 12th Street when I walk out of my house in the morning.

I promise to get back to postings about bar hopping in the near future.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Had To Cry Today

I spoke with Robert this morning.

Bourbon Street's dry and will likely remain dry. The waters did not make it far into the quarter and, in a demonstration worthy of middle-school physics, found it's own level, and appears not to be spreading.

The French Quarter is full of gay people who had no where else to go. Life, or some perverse and twisted form of it, continues to go on in New Orleans. Friends are calling each other to offer canned goods from their larders. Stores appear to be open, and thriving. Don, Robert's partner, was able to buy a case of bottled water last night at regular prices. Restaurants have been giving away their stock of perishables to locals.

Our president allowed Air Force One to dip to 1600 feet to get a closer look at the devastation. Amazingly enough he feels this disaster can be tackled with the few National Guards remaining in this country, and no new taxes. Gas prices? Well, tough...suckers! His corporate cronies are really reaping the profits now. Think Halliburton will get the contract to rebuild the levees?

I've had enough of the network coverage of the tragedy. Enough with the same horrifying footage looped ad nauseum to Grieg's Elegy. I'm calling a personal moratorium on earnest anchormen decrying the grim news over and over.

I'm reminded of September 12, 2001.

After watching news coverage all night of the tragedy that was taking place outside my bedroom window, I woke up to see my pal Mark's mom on TV and learned that he was on Flight #93. I shut the TV off, got dressed and went to work in an otherwise empty office. Yes, I know it's denial. But that's how I got through.

And that's how my dear friends down on Bourbon Street are getting through as well. They're just putting one foot in front of the other. Eventually, you discover you're walking again.