Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Bourbon (Street) Blues

Well, it's real bad.

Robert and his partner Don decided they had no choice but to weather the storm from their Bourbon Street home in the Quarter. They live on the 3rd story of an old stone house. Robert, 65 years old, is currently disabled and in a wheelchair. They have 2 large dogs and a cat. The owner of the building they live in, Jack, is in his 80's and also wheelchair bound. He has a large dog as well. Brian, a doctor who lives in the former slave quarters out back, also stayed behind to take care of the less mobile guys.

I spoke with Robert on Sunday night when they'd made their decision to stay. I was hoping to change their minds, but no luck. When we talked Monday morning, it was already raining quite hard and the wind was playing with the wooden hatch to the roof, which they figured they'd lose.
I sent my love and watched the news reports.

I was unable to contact Robert all day Monday and far into Monday night. Finally at 4:00 AM my phone rang. I was deep in sleep and didn't hear the ringing, but I woke to hear a voice speaking conversationally in my apartment. This scared the crap out of me until I realized it was my answering machine and Robert was calling to let me know they'd made it through.

I ran for the machine and spoke with him at length. All their windows had blown out and everything they owned was drenched, but the 2nd floor was mostly unharmed and they were camping out in a vacant apartment with Jack and Brian. They'd had the foresight to get plenty of bottled water, candles and Power Bars. There was no electricity, but they had running water and telephone service.

Unfortunately, they had no access to news of any kind. They didn't know how bad the city was, or that the levees had been breached. They did see some looters in the neighborhood, but have been pretty much left to themselves.

I spoke with them again this morning, after hearing that the entire city is under water, and of course, there was no flooding in that part of the Quarter. Yet. Robert explained that the French Quarter was the old city, and as such was built on higher ground than the sprawl that came to be over the years.

They know nothing about martial law, or mandatory evacuation. They do know that they are glad they didn't go to the Superdome and will more than likely not travel to the Astrodome unless someone can guarantee their safety.

Meanwhile the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana have made the media rounds, alternately crying, zoning out and calling for "a day of prayer". It seems hard to believe that high-rise structures with glass curtain walls were considered safe in a hurricane prone area. It seems hard to believe that there are no apparent contingency plans, no back-up pumps, no ideas for repairing levees when they break, other than with sandbags. I suppose this is project-manager mentality, and it probably doesn't fly in the deep south.

I'm sorry that it seems like one of this country's most interesting cities will most likely disappear. When it gets re-built, IF it gets rebuilt, it will most likely be a sort of Creole deep-fried Disneyland. The poor people who had the misfortune to lose everything they had, will be displaced again, and New Orleans will become yet another participant in the mall-ification of this once great, once interesting country.

This is truly one of the major natural disasters of our time. The Gulf Coast has been decimated beyond recognition. People will re-build, but it will never be the same again.

I'm doing some research to find charities that are dealing directly with this crisis. Does anyone know of one?

My heart goes out to all who are experiencing this first-hand, and all the people trying to find out what has happened to their loved ones. My thoughts are with y'all.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Why Meme?

The meme: List ten songs you’re currently digging.

Here they are...I've been hitting the treadmill to some of these; some are perfect for sipping those Friday night cocktails:

Garbage: Run Baby Run
Mates of State: Goods
Doves: Some Cities
Bettie Serveert: Tomboy
Bob Mould: (Shine Your) Light Love Hope
JamisonParker: Your Song
Velocity Girl: Crazy Town
Kelly Clarkson: Since U Been Gone
Brian Eno: Needles in the Camel's Eye
Jeri Southern: You Better Go Now

I'm too new at this to tag anybody else, but if you want to join in, be my guest.

And a special tip of the hat to my music pal, who will know who he is when he sees that a full 1/3 of the songs listed are things he introduced me to during our brief search for new, interesting Dugout music. Thank you, Greg.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Oh yeah....

If you'd like to be party to my eternal shame and you live in the tri-state area, catch tonight's re-run of In The Life on PBS at 10:00 PM.

There's a short segment called (oh Jesus) Bear To Be Beautiful. I won't elaborate, but you will get to see The Mark of Kane refer to himself as a "Moose". Later on he appears again as the Mother Theresa of Beardom, explaining it all in a most sickeningly earnest way.

This was shot almost two years, at the height of a blizzard. I only did it cuz I was crushing bad on the director. We spent an evening talking about everything I hated about the so-called Bear community and then through directorial cunning and slick editing (hah!) I was made into the simp of all time.

That sound you hear at 10:15 tonight is me, cringing.

Back In The Saddle Again

I hated last week.

I had some sort of weird stomach bug that announced itself a week ago Friday, moved in and visited with me for a full week. I was a most inhospitable host. I tried killing it with megadoses of Immodium. Apparently Immodium has changed it's formula. It's now a sickly green, slightly viscous fluid that really, really tastes bad. And it doesn't work. At least not in the doses recommended. By the end of the week I had taken to drinking entire bottles. Finally, the bug left on it's own accord sometime around Friday afternoon. Just in time to see Tim!

My dear friend in San Francisco is quite ill. After fighting HIV and all the hell it has wrought on his poor system for years, he's now been diagnosed with lung cancer. He could barely speak. All I could think of was that stupid editorial Andrew Sullivan wrote a couple of months ago in the Advocate. You know the one where he wrote about how sorry he was that he wasn't symptomatic enough or suffering enough from his HIV infection. His editorial infuriated me, and I thought about writing a letter in response, but then came to the conclusion that there were people more directly affected who could speak more eloquently than I. I was not disappointed in the response the piece got. I think Mr. Sullivan should be looking over his shoulder at all never know when that lightening bolt's gonna strike!

Tim and I have had a very busy month, and both of us couldn't wait to get back into our rut. We're both creatures of habit, and it had been several weeks since we'd followed our usual weekend schedule. We did our best to return to a semblance of normalcy these past few days. Friday night saw delicious cocktails: Martinis for me and bourbon Manhattans for Tim. Three each. Tim's dry Martini is a miracle to behold. He pours a bit of vermouth over ice cubes to coat them, and then tosses it out. Vodka is poured over said ice cubes, shaken, the poured into the appropriate stemware. The result is then poured down my icy silver thread that I can feel as it moves through me. We sat quietly, and listened to Etta James singing Billie, then Ella singing Cole Porter, a bit of Bobby Short singing Rodgers & Hart and finally a very drunken Frank yelling at an equally drunk Roger Edens on a bootleg recorded at a Cole Porter memorial back in 1966. We were equally as festive.

Saturday afternoon, we hauled ourselves down to Tompkins Square for the newest edition of Wigstock. We hadn't been in some years. The last time we attended, it was held at the Hudson piers, went on for 8 hours, and was heavily corporate-sponsored. This year Bunny and crew were able to pretty much do the same thing in 2 hours and 20 minutes. We arrived a few minutes early, garnering a great viewing spot, which we shared with Greg and Frank. I greatly enjoyed Dina Martina, she of the most intense camel-toe ever seen! It was so horrible I couldn't tear my eyes away. The crowd was low-key, mellow, actually. By the time John Kelly channeled Joni Mitchell, I was happy and ready for some cocktails.

Back at my house, we listened to Eliane Elias while I fixed us a pre-dinner bourbon Manhattan. I called Robert, who was deciding to ride out Katrina in his home on Bourbon Street. He seemed adamant about it, and I know there's precious little I've ever been able to do to steer him in one direction or another. We then adjourned to Gene's on 11th Street, where we had 2 more Manhattans apiece and a quiet dinner. After dinner, we headed on over to Ty's for a night cap. We talked with various friends and then I met a gentleman who thought I was the most handsome man in the bar. Now, that's really not saying much if you've ever actually been in Ty's on a Saturday night. I volunteered to step under a spotlight so he could see what I actually looked like. It wasn't necessary. There was no deterring him. Introducing him to Tim did nothing to dampen his ardor. He offered a trip to Paris as a bribe. He then suggested canoeing on Pilgrim Lake in North Truro. Apparently one of his many houses is right there on the hillside overlooking the lake. I finally was able to wrest myself away from him, but I do have his contact information "in case I change my mind". Tim thinks all this is quite comical.

Suffice to say that yesterday I did nothing. I spent the better part of the afternoon on my sofa finishing the Collette novellas I started reading up in P-Town. I've had a couple of conversations recently regarding summer reading and when I've mentioned that I'm reading Collette, most people react as if I've spent the summer translating ancient Celtic runes.

I had a pretty good time at the Dugout yesterday afternoon too. After a slow start, a nice laid back crowd assembled. Several people got pleasantly toasted. A friend came up with a business plan to sell Tim's used jeans on e-bay. I was all for it! I talked quite a bit with Greg and Greg and Ted and Brian and even Dustin, and got acquainted with Kevin of DC. Tim had a good night and we were still home at a decent hour.

I spoke with Robert this morning before the phones went down, and they were surviving. He said it all felt a bit Wizard of Oz-ish to him. I told him to avoid flying cows. A small hatch to their roof had blown off, and rain was blowing through their boarded-up windows. He and Don were pretty cheerful in spite of it all. I've tried calling him again since the storm passed but the phones are apparently out now.

Join me in sending good thoughts to my friends in San Francisco and New Orleans, if you would.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A Meeting By The River

Friday night, Spring 1975 and I'm hanging out by the cigarette machine just inside the door of the Ramrod on West Street. Lights and shadows thrown by the abandoned elevated Westside Highway play against the plate glass window. In point of fact I'm being plastered up against the machine by a big, blond, bearded, burly man called Blaze, who's visiting from Los Angeles. I believe he is the first person I've ever met from LA, not to mention the only person I've ever known named Blaze and he seems impossibly glamorous to me as kisses me and laughs and then kisses me some more. I want to go home with him in the worst way, and he's having none of it, though he sure as hell seems to be having a good time. After what seems like an eternity of playing around and great aching frustration on my part, I wrench myself away and excuse myself, saying I need to get some air. Or something. I left Blaze looking around for his next victim and headed out and down the street to Keller's.

At Keller's I meet Don, small and neat, compactly built, darkly handsome. Also from Los Angeles, strangely enough. Must be my lucky night. And because I've just spent the last 1/2 hour kissing Blaze to no avail, I push Don back against the wall and kiss him long and hard. He seems to be enjoying himself too, but when I open my eyes I see he's looking over my shoulder. At Blaze. Who is looking at me.

Slut, he calls me. And laughs. Don laughs too. Few 20 year olds are reknown for their sense of humor. I was definitely not one of them. Blaze then introduces Don to me as his partner. Hmmm. Small world. We hang out together for a while, but a subtle tension in the air makes it abundantly clear that nothing is going to happen. With either of them, together or separately. I'm way too young, inexperienced and literal-minded to even try and comprehend whatever arrangement they have. After a bit, Don peels off and leaves me with Blaze again. Who asks me out the following evening. He kisses me some more and tells me he'll meet me tomorrow night, Saturday, at that new club that's just opened on West Street, between 12th and Jane. It's a date.

30 years has softened my memory, and I have no recollection of whom I actually did go home with that evening. Rest assured, I did. And no doubt I was as primed as a pistol. Bless the lucky man.

Saturday night finds me heading up West Street in my newest pearl buttoned western shirt and hoodie. There's a small crowd under the awning in front of the new club, which I seem to remember as a landscaping concern in previous incarnations. I would pass by and admire it's arboreal graphics as I made my way up to the Eagle's Nest from Keller's, most weekend nights. Now those trees had been replaced by a simple logo, spelling out the simpler new name: 12 West.

In the spotlights illuminating the crowd outside, I spy the glint of his blond beard. Excited, I race over to Blaze, and hug him. Only when I realize that he's not hugging me back, do I turn and notice he's with another man. Not being the brightest of youngsters, I smile and introduce myself. I've yet to understand that the Blaze has made this date with both of us. I look my rival over. He's not as tall as me, and he's definitely older. But then who isn't? We both have short, dark hair. He has a beard. I have a moustache. He's not the slightest bit happy to meet me. His name is Arthur, and he's apparently asked Blaze out, not knowing that that fuck would show up with a child in tow. It's his membership to this new private club that we're to avail ourselves of. Arthur is incapable of hiding his displeasure. But what the hell, he relents and the three of us enter 12 West.

A large vestibule and coatcheck greets us. I can hear some of the extended dance music that was new that year, everywhere. We turn a corner and enter a large square room at it's apex. The room is well lit; it's white brick walls bathed in a rainbow of everchanging colors. Overhead, a series of woofers and tweeters create a sound unlike any other I've ever heard. I've spent some hours dancing in Soho lofts like Flamingo, or stumbling over the cobblestones at the Firehouse. This is nothing like either of those. The only decor are a series of semaphore flags hanging overhead, perhaps a tribute to the river flowing sluggishly right outside the door. We've checked out coats and are dancing a trois. Arthur is thoughtful enough to supply the latest of dance accoutrements, Burroughs amyl nitrate poppers. He breaks one of the yellow mesh-enclosed ampules under his nose, then holds it under Blaze's nose, and then passes it to me. I follow their example and when I return, I find Blaze and Arthur dancing together. And then not. Blaze and Arthur are yelling in each other's ears and I'm ignoring it, enjoying the sound and sensation. Blaze suddenly says "See ya later, I want to check this place out" and disappears. It's the last I will see of him. But the music is too good and I keep on dancing.

Arthur's a smart man. He's checking out the gyrating 20 year old in front of him, and decides it's time to make lemonade from the lemons he's been dealt. He moves in and starts unbuttoning the faux pearl snaps on my shirt until I'm bare chested. I can see that he's checking me out appreciatively. Maybe this isn't going to be so bad after all. The music is heading for another peak and he pulls out another Burroughs ampule, this time holding it under my nose first. Ah, seduction. He runs his hand lightly over my sweaty chest as we dance.

Later, we're ensconced on a cushioned banquette, somewhere away from the music. Arthur is curled up next to me, offering me a rather thick, well made joint. We laugh about our friend Blaze, who has apparently moved on to greener pasture. Arthur wants to know if I'd like to go home with him. I do and we do.

We dated for a few months there, until he threw me over for my best friend. I wasn't happy about that, but somehow Arthur and I became running buddies. We'd hit the clubs, the bars, restaurants, plays, movies and parties. Yes, I was 20, and he was 34, but it suited us both. I got a crash course in arcane gay etiquette, and in turn I took him shopping for his first Schott Perfecto leather jacket, his first 501's and his first flannel shirts. Some people had a lot to say about our unlikely partnership, but were forced into silence when Arthur threw a surprise "You're Legal" party for me when I turned 21. He even invited that handsome southern boy I was crushing on so bad to be my special guest.

Arthur moved to San Francisco in 1976, just after NYC and the rest of this country celebrated the Bicentennial. We've remained friends for 30 years. The first time we visited him, he threw us in his car, drove over the Golden Gate and hiked us down the Tennessee Valley trail to the Pacific. We were so astounded to reach the ocean that Tim and I ran into the breaking waves with our boots on, laughing.

I spoke with Arthur yesterday. The news wasn't good.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Home. And home again.

A friend of some years re-located his new boyfriend from the UK and they soon set up housekeeping together. Sometime later, I was asked for a recommendation for a vacation spot and naturally I recommended Provincetown. I even forwarded the Provincetown Business Guild's website, with it's huge banner headline of:

Eat, Drink & Be Mary!!

The website was filled with pictures of happy homos, shirtless and holding hands, and lesbians lazing in the dunes. I even recommended a realtor who rented them a condo in the West End across from the Mussel Beach gym. I believe they went up for 10 days after Carnival. I never heard a word from them until about a month later when I pressed the subject.

Apparently the partner had a perfectly dreadful time. Sadly, Provincetown was not the quaint New England fishing village he'd been led to expect. And there were all those dreadful muscle boys walking around without shirts. The restaurants were few, too pricey and not very good. There wasn't much to do. Going to the beach entailed a huge hike in the blazing sun. He'd hated the Boatslip and its drunken disco-dancing patrons. They went once. My friend was forced to shop to the A & P and prepare all meals at home. The only outside sustenance was taken at Cafe Blase, because it was "cheap and cheerful". There were no visits to the A-House. No pizza at Spiritus.

There was unspoken resentment that I might have sent them to this Sodom-By-The-Sea. How could I?

Needless to say this has never, ever been my experience of Provincetown.

Tim and I had a great week.

We have it all down to a science at this point. We leave at 5:00 AM and make the trip in under 6 hours, including a couple of stops for breakfast and stretching. We miss the majority of the I95 traffic and have no problems at the Bourne bridge. We just breeze right over. I am always elated by our passage through North Truro, where Pilgrim Lake sparkles above the yellow and green dunes on our right, and lines of identical white and green cottages dot the shoreline on the left. I know within minutes we'll be turning left to town.

We park the car on the pier and head out into town. Our house won't be ready for us for a couple of hours, but this allows us to have some lunch, and scope out the changes that have occurred over the past year. We get a big "Welcome to Provincetown, sweeties!" from the taller of the Hat Sisters as we enter Bubala's. Could you ask for a better greeting? We lunch, walk the streets and check out the many sights to behold. We check into our little Winthrop Street rental, which looks exactly the same as it did last year. White, white, white is the color of our condo! From our special beach box we pull out sarongs purchased for this very reason and drape the white slipcovered furniture. We buy big bunches of flowers on Commercial Street. We market at the Grand Union (we mourn the late A & P), shower and head out to the Boatslip.

As we've been going the same week for the past several years, we've gotten to know other people who do the same thing. And we get to see everybody, lots of hugs and kisses and nods. We meet up with Bo and Jeff from Rochester. And Scott from London. And Chris from Washington. We meet new people like Jeff from LA and Greg from New Hampshire. We pick up flirtations from the years past. We listen to MaryAlice's usual set of what our friend Anthony calls Pots and Pans. We notice that there seems to be a preponderance of Police-types and wonder if there's a GOAL convention. There is not. Our friend M. would be in hog heaven, so to speak. I can't help staring at the bay, and the taking in the spectacular quality of the light, in which everything is illuminated vividly. Someone will comment on it every couple of minutes as it changes.

When Tea is over, we take the short walk back to Winthrop Street, past the drag queens and leather boys busking their shows, contests and dances. We collect a stack of promotional cards to scatter across the top of the cabinet in the hall as we enter our home. Tim fixes Manhattans and we listen to Jeri Southern as the sun sets. I light some new scented candles. We marvel at how happy we are to be here.

We head out for a simple dinner of seafood, and after a quick hello drink at the A-House head home to collapse into bed. Tomorrow morning we'll get on our vacation schedule, which is regimented, but no schedule at all.


1. Wake Up. When we feel like it.

2. Light Breakfast, lots of coffee. Read.

3. Walk through town. Shop as we like. Errands.

4. Light Lunch.

5. Home. Read.

6. Pool at the Boatslip. Rent a chaise and a towel. Sit in the pool with the above-mentioned gentlemen and get waterlogged and tan.

7. Home. Nap for Tim and more reading for me. Oh yeah. 500 pushups.

8. Boatslip.

9. Jazz and Cocktails.

10. Dinner.

11. Ice Cream for Tim and a walk on the pier.

12. A-House

13. Spiritus

14. Whatever

15. Sleep

This gets repeated daily, with minor variations. Martinis with Bo and Jeff and their housemates, under the trees in the garden of their lovely house right before you get to the Coast Guard base.
A trip to Wellfleet for Lobster rolls or oysters less than 100 feet from where they're harvested, eaten on a deck before which spreads the picture postcard view of all time. Dinners eaten at Lorraine's, Vorelli's, Sal's and of course, the Lobster Pot. We like to eat there a couple of times a week upstairs at the bar with Jimmy, one of the world's most handsome men. We flirt all through dinner and he flirts right back. Frankly, everybody eating at the bar is engaged in the same behavior. It's why we're there. This year Jimmy insisted on calling me Big Daddy. Ask me if that bothers me. Not one bit.

Okay, the town is changing. The real estate boom has hit Provincetown hard. Guest houses and private residences have been turned into condos. There is major talk all week about the fact that the Boatslip is about to be sold for 14.5 million dollars and where will we all go next year? I'm sad to see the town change. I know it won't be like this next year, and even less so the year after. I'm sad because I can see that I won't be able to be one of the many 60+ year olds who are still up there, having the time of their lives. You can do that in Provincetown. I don't think the town will remain this way that much longer. So I plan on enjoying it as much as I can while it's still there.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Get Off!

So, The Mark of Kane is off on a week's hiatus to the quaint seaside fishing village of Provincetown, MA.

Tim and I will endeavor to study and sample as many of the local customs and traditions as we can. We may even assume native garb.

Perhaps a week will not be enough.

I'll be sure to report back to y'all later.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Odds & Sods

I've been out every night for the past five days. I'm crabby and exhausted.

The weekend was fairly quiet. Tim and I brought old-fashioned Catonese food to a shut-in friend who feeling peckish and requested it. I live frighteningly close to Jade Mountain, which has been on Second Avenue since 1931. I have not been a patron that long, however. I do remember it years ago in a more Hollywood-ish decor of Chinese red and black with lanterns. Now, it's more 70's lavatory, but not in a good way. It's been owned by the same family since the dawn of time. If there is anyone out there who wants to recreate a late 50's/early 60's Jewish Sunday night dinner, I suggest they head there. If you know what I'm talking about, you know the drill: Egg Rolls, Wonton Soup, Spare Ribs, Chow Mein, Fried Rice, Pistachio Ice Cream. After that meal, you can roll over and not pretend to play dead. It's a killer. Anyway, our pal requested it, and we brought a huge bag of it to him. You could have used that bag in your workout, it was so leaden. Tim fixed me several bourbons and soda, and then we ate while our friend entertained us with his collection of MGM musical outakes and bloopers. Who knew that the pendulum on the clock in the stairwell in Meet Me in Saint Louis stops swinging as Judy passes it? I certainly didn't!

Sunday, I hit the Dugout as usual. Suffice to say, it was less than stellar. Again. The weather's too nice. There's other places to go. Tim cashed out before 9:00. Ah, well. At least he got a good night's rest before he headed upstate for a family visit.

Monday I had dinner with my sister. We had some things to discuss, a family matter we've never talked about, but have finally had to address. It was rather nice, but also scary that we hadn't done dinner without husbands, boyfriends, parents and significant others in 33 years. I pointed out the fact that the last time we had a solo dinner, she had just moved out of my mother's house, and I had just come out. We were both on my mom's shit-list and needed to strategize. It was nothing quite so dramatic this time. I had a very odd relationship with our late father, and she was finally asking questions. I was happy to oblige with answers. Perhaps I'll blog further about this at some time. I don't know.

Yesterday, I had dinner with L. He was hired to be my intern back in 1987, when he was 17, and I was 33. He's been in my life in some capacity ever since. He's had a very rough row to hoe, as they say down South. I would have thought that my own foibles in my 30's would have presented him with an object-lesson primer in what not to do, and how not to do it. But unfortunately, he had to learn all those same lessons, plus several of his own, himself. He's still searching for his place in the world, and all I can do is show him it can be done, you can come through great difficulties and not only survive but grow strong. At times it seems like he's grasping for unhappiness with both hands.

We had dinner on Avenue A and then walked through Thomkins Square at dusk. The park was full of fireflies, sending off sparks of light beneath the trees hanging low in the dark, adding a bit of glamour and mystery to the steamy evening.

We had some refreshments at the Phoenix, which was quiet except for a handsome, young and very drunk man, who completely fell apart in the 30 minutes we were there. I played Bob Mould and Garbage on the jukebox and as we left the gentleman in question fell under the bar. Poor child. "You look like you're having a good time", L. had said to him when he was still somewhat coherent. "I'm actually miserable", he replied. Clearly.

We headed over to Nowhere for Big Lug. I'd only attended Big Lug when it was in residence on Saturday nights at the Dugout, and that set-up just didn't happen for me. While I enjoyed some of the music played, I resented being forced to listen to Neil Diamond, followed by the Osmonds singing "One Bad Apple". I lived through that shit on the radio. It isn't cute or clever or nostalgic to me. It's just awful. Last night the music was quite a bit better. So was the crowd. Less Metrobore. I mean bear. One attendee showed up in a leather CHIPs uniform. He looked rather dapper, but it was sweltering, and I question the etiquette of really serious leather at 9:20 PM on a Tuesday night in a bar on East 14th Street. He seemed to take a liking to me, but it was a school night, and I was otherwise engaged.

I'm getting ready to head up to the Cape this weekend. Got myself organized, just need to pack. Work is stressing me out to the max...lots of odds and ends to clean up between now and Friday. I haven't gotten any reading material, but I'm thinking of re-reading Colette. Cheri and The Last of Cheri. I have a feeling that reading about the final passages of Leah's life among the rich, idle and beautiful will somehow pertain to the not-so-secret inner struggle I've been going through this year. In the second volume, she has come to terms with aging, given up her frivolous, beautiful life and has even taken to wearing sensible shoes and tweed. Her last admirer, once vain and cruel, is being driven to the edge of sanity by images of Leah as she once was, but is no more. If you see a tall, older, bearded man walking down Commerical Street in a houndstooth coat with suede elbow patches, it could very well be me. Be kind. I'm having a crisis.