Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fess Up


Who Googled this?

mark hot bear joe my god

If it was me you were looking for, I'm flattered, as among the other searches that brought people to The Mark of Kane these last 24 or hours or so were:

  • Major Breast Augmentation

  • Hair Dye & Bald Patch in Beard

  • After Dinner Cocktails of the 1930's

  • Winter Vomiting Disease

  • 1972 High School Class Ring

    Oddly enough, most of these actually pertain to me in one way or another, with the possible exception of breast augmentation. That's just push-ups, and I've been slacking off (a lot) lately.

    Of course, Joe probably knows lots of Marks who might be construed as hot bears. Some of them might even identify as such.

    Humor me and say Hey!
  • Thursday, August 23, 2007

    If You're Fond of Sand Dunes and Salty Air...

    What is it about this place that makes grown men cry when they leave?

    You cannot underestimate the number of friends who have admitted to the shedding of tears as they were packing, or driving off down Bradford Street towards Route 6 and home. My own moment inevitably comes after I place our luggage in the car and walk back to lock up the condo. It's early morning, and the sun is rising out over the East End. The streets are silent, with the exception of the occasional gull's cry, and the distant stirrings of the trash men as they once again take up their daily task. I stand quietly in our yard at the edge of Winthrop Street, looking down at the Bay, promising myself I'll return next year. Then I go all silent and get into the car, biting my lower lip.

    This year Tim made our farewell just a bit more bearable, by turning left on Bradford Street and pulling into the lot of Tip for Tops'n to enjoy one last Provincetown breakfast, thus prolonging our stay an extra half hour.

    There's lots I might squawk about. It's too crowded. It's too expensive. Real estate prices would be comical, if they didn't foretell the demise of so much of what is nice about this town. It's too gay. It's too straight. It's over-built. Everything has gone condo. The beach is too far. You take your chances skinny-dipping. The water's too cold. People drink too much. The bars suck. The art scene isn't what it used to be. Too many of the restaurants don't use enough native ingredients and rely too much on Cape Cod staples. It's a god-damned tourist trap.

    None of this matters.

    When I'm there, it's the most beautiful place on earth. People who normally wouldn't know their impasto from their gouache get to talking about just how they would paint the scenery. If they could paint. I study the way the light reflects and refracts, fetishizing an aluminum chimney stack that I can see through our living room window, noting it's changing character throughout the day. Tim will wait patiently wait for that sunset moment when the sky flashes green and then turns the deepest Prussian Blue. Usually at that moment, we can be found enjoying jazz and cocktails on our little deck behind the hemlocks, having endured MaryAlice's pots-and-pans dance set, and looking forward to an evening out and about.

    Truth to be told, we were rather mellow this year. Extending our stay beyond the usual Saturday to Saturday routine was a brilliant idea, and I'm not sure why it hadn't occurred to me before. Oh yeah, time and money. That would explain it. But now I'm older and can spare a bit more of both. And we have a very sympathetic landlord, as well. Knowing that we had several days to cut loose, we managed to crash every night for the first few days around 10:30, sated with too much sun, food and drink. It was only after I put my foot down on Monday night that we made plans to go out and stay out the following night, at least until the bars closed and we could join the masses at Spiritus. I'm glad we got there once. It doesn't quite seem to have the appeal to me that it once did. Mostly, we'd stop by around midnight and watch the cast of players gathering on stage. That was satisfying enough for me.

    We've taken to having a nightcap on the porch of the Gifford House in the late evening with the other, more mature gentlemen, as I could never spend much time upstairs at the A-House without starting to twitch. I can remember cold, late August evenings in that room, when the lighting, decor and music combined to make it seem as if all the handsome men in the world were present in that very spot. Alas, while there are still many lookers, the room is not the same. The lighting has been minimalized to the point of inky darkness, all the better to view the second rate porn projected on the giant screen just above head-level. The decor has been stripped to accommodate said projected image, and all eyes in the room tend to fasten on the filmed action, making it extremely difficult to have any sort of meaningful eye contact, or strike up a conversation with a sympathetic stranger. While the upstairs DJ amuses himself with his home-made techno travesties, the overly eclectic melange of music available on the downstairs jukebox saturates the room with Lipps, Inc., Toby Keith and Julie London. In fact, we were witness to a gentleman who had chosen that moment to propose marriage to his young boyfriend, kneeling right there on the ancient stone floor, while "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" blasted forth.

    We were happy to learn that our favorite bartender, Jimmy, who we have dined with frequently in the past at his post in the Lobster Pot has opened his own restaurant, Jimmy's Hideaway, creating a elegant series of darkly paneled rooms out of that sketchy old basement where the Szechuan restaurant has been for years. Friends have told us that Jimmy has a way of making everybody feel as if he wants them, and in fact he does. I like to think he's extra nice to me. Maybe it's the way he calls me Daddy. Or the fact that he came out from behind the bar to attack me while we were waiting for our table. He's just friendly that way. By the way, try the cod.

    Most of all, it was wonderful to catch up with all our friends. We've been going the same week for years, and as such, have met and maintained friendships with a large variety of guys from all over the country, even the world. We decided that we're summer camp friends now. We exchange the occasional e-mail during the year, but pick right up where we left off the previous summer. Bo and Jeff, Chris, Steve, John, Pete and many others, all falling back into our old habits and rituals. Meeting at the pool. Comparing dinner notes. Drinking copious amounts of beer.

    More than anything, I finally unwound and relaxed. It took several days, but I managed. Tim would nap and I would read as the bay breeze blew across our deck. I managed to finish Ed White's "My Lives", then read the autobiography of an obscure 70's rocker, Andy Pratt, and finally reading "Brideshead Revisited". I read portions of this aloud to Tim when he awoke, to his great amusement. Tim passed his waking hours reading an historical account of the Pilgrims, relaying to me just what despicable characters they were. Who knew?

    I never called the office, and I didn't check my voicemail. I turned my cell phone off.

    We enjoyed the envy of our friends, as we were the very last to leave. We extracted promises from all and sundry to meet again, same time, next year.

    Our reservations have already been made.

    Wednesday, August 01, 2007

    Alright. Okay.

    You win. I AM the very worst blogger in the history of blogdom. In the history of computers, even. Possibly. There might be worse.

    I told y'all I was ambivalent about this, right from the start. My life's just not that fascinating. I work way too much. I won't blog about that. When I'm not working, I'm trying to find time to spend with Tim. Between our various jobs and commitments, it's hard for us to find two consecutive days when we're both not working. We're able to deal with this, but it doesn't make for scintillating copy.

    So let's see, I haven't been here in more than a month. Bad Mark. That's not true...I have been reading and enjoying your thoughts and comments. I had hastily posted an entry last month, entitled Another Country, regarding some perceived mistreatment I felt I'd received at the hands of some of the younger denizens of our forest. Having thoroughly vented my anger, shock and dismay, I went to bed and slept the sleep of the just, or at least that of the very tired.

    I was surprised to see comments appear the very next morning. As I've mentioned before, this blog resides in a dark and mostly uncharted backwater here on the Internet, and only the most intrepid explorers seem to come upon it, and then again, only having followed the most explicit of instructions. Comments drift slowly through the ether on their way to the Mark of Kane. Therefore, I was surprised to see so many people I know and many I've yet to meet jump to my defense and offer consolation, advice and even a scolding or two. Many relayed their own encounters with other less than cordial bar habitues, some suggested delicately that perhaps it was time to hang up the old jock, and one gentleman even chastised me for the clique-ish behavior of my friends on the random Sunday afternoon. Imagine!

    Just for the record, I don't actually spend an exorbitant amount of time in gay bars. Tim tends bar on Sundays and I spend (count 'em!) 3-1/2 hours there every week, meeting said clique-ish friends, playing the jukebox and roaring at an assortment of pirate jokes and John Waters dialog. I'm easy that way. Aside from that visit, Tim and I might drop by for a post-prandial at some local boite on the occasional Saturday evening. Mind you, we're generally home and asleep by midnight, way before the fun begins. In fact, both of the evil events I spoke of took place when I was out under the protective plumage of a bevy of bloggers.

    So I was sort of surprised when I read this article. It seems I've been "mean-girled", not once, but twice. I am a fairly large target, so it's understandable. Maybe I should have seen the movie, just to know what my options for retaliation were. My only cinematic object lesson of that sort was Heathers, and we all know how badly that ended. When I was in high school, we much to busy extolling each other to "smile on your brother" and "love the one you're with", which sort of precluded this kind of nastiness. Our pettiness mostly extended to gossiping about who didn't inhale or couldn't handle their drugs. Well, forewarned is forearmed, and if anyone tries this shit with me again, I'll just have to kill them. Read about it here. If I ever write again.

    So it's been that sort of a couple of months. Ask me what I've been doing? Working, mostly. Trying to go to the gym, and realizing I need to change facilities immediately. I'm just too old for the New York Sports Club, and the eye rolling is getting fierce. A few weeks ago, I was mistaken for the artist, Nayland Blake, and while on many levels I'm flattered, on others, not so much. Who here remembers the donut-feeding video? Though I did love his life-size gingerbread house. The whole gallery smelled wonderfully spicy.

    We managed to get away for 3 or 4 days at the beginning of the month, heading off to New Hope, PA. We used to do this on a more frequent basis, but our weekend work schedules haven't permitted it in a couple of years. When Tim first brought me to the Raven ages ago, I was charmed by the drunken antics of the local country squires. It was almost sport to watch them lurch out of the bar, crawl to their respective cars and floor them out of the parking lot. I stopped staying at the Raven years ago, when I discovered that several locals had copies of the room keys and I was unpleasantly surprised to find one such enterprising individual entering our room late one night after the bar had closed. We moved across the street for a spell, but now it appears that both the Motel in the Woods and the Best Western have also been acquired by the Raven management. I was pretty disappointed by the lack of clientele, both at the bar and the restaurant, both of which I've enjoyed immensely in the past. All in all, it was rather lackluster, and the few people we actually spoke with were either staff or fellow New Yorkers. This left us lots of spare time to drive up and down both sides of the scenic Delaware River, poke through post-hippie New Hope and gentrified Lambertville, and hit the outlet shopping malls in Lahaska and Flemington. Oh yeah. Have I ever told you about our major requirements for vacation spots? Yeah. Gay bars and outlet shopping! See? We are shallow. That seemingly Venusian landscape above was taken at Peddler's Village, in Lahaska, PA. If you've never been, it can be overwhelming. Mind you, it's a sprawling complex of shops that specialize in collectibles, chotzkes and crap. And it's landscaped within an inch of it's life. There are expensive restaurants, and yes, you can spend the night in one of several hotels. Trust me on this: it's the whitest place on earth. Bar none.

    When I wasn't working or outlet shopping (I bought one shirt...not exactly a great haul. Tim came home with bags!!!), I mostly spent the time reading. In the past 30 days or so, I have read the following books, in the following order:

    Midnight at the Palace: My Life as a Fabulous Cockette, by Pam Tent.

    Michael Tolliver Lives, by Mr. Maupin.

    The Fabulous Sylvester, by Joshua Gamson.

    Can anyone discern a theme here? Sherman, set the WABAC (it's okay, you can pronounce it Wayback) machine for San Francisco, 1969.

    True confession: I once had Tim make a pilgrimage with me to 2400 Fulton Street. If you know why, you're definitely my friend. Anyway, Sweet Pam's book is very nice, and it's odd and sad that the only published record of the Cockettes was written by one of the 3 or 4 genital females involved in the group. Mostly, everyone else has passed on, in one way or another. The Cockettes came to New York just as I was on the cusp of coming out, and I remember that debacle well. My former next door neighbor was an Angel of Light, and I clearly remember the pailletted billboard of Hibiscus at the corners of Christopher and Seventh Avenue, about the smoke shop. In truth, I wish I'd been there.

    Mr. Maupin's book was a lovely read. It's always nice to meet up with old favorites; past denizens of his stories and the City. As I mentioned before, Michael's voice is clearly Armistead's; it's pretty much the same first person voice as Gabriel Noone in The Night Listener, which makes me read much of this as thinly disguised autobiography. Again. I can say that the three-way pick-up technique is pretty much as described. I find it funny that many of Armistead's fans are having a small field day finding small errors in quotation and chronology! I mean, come on!! Don't fault the man for a couple of bong hits! Or is it a vaporizer these days?

    Lastly, the Sylvester book is sheer and totally surprisingly genius. The man has caught the zeitgeist of those times, but exactly. I would have thought that the last chapters would be the hardest to endure, knowing quite well of Sylvester's sad demise. Instead, the chapter that recalls the concert at the War Memorial Opera House in 1979 completely shattered me. Yes, I have that concert on vinyl, and yes, Joe and I just did our best imitations this past Sunday (these girls don't need them jewelries!). It's a document of the way we were, and our very own amazement at just how truly fucking fabulous we were.

    The thread that runs through all these books is the nascent, newly forming gay community that so many speak of, and which, in reality, seems to have splintered into a million different rainbow colored shards. Two of these books peer back to our beginnings, while the other is firmly entrenched in the now, glancing back with nostalgia and longing for what sadly no longer exists.

    Finally, Mr. Tim and I are heading up to Provincetown for a full, that's right, count 'em, TEN whole days!!! Yay!! If you're there and see us, say hey! If not, could you be just a little envious that two total working stiffs are off having such a good time at last? We truly deserve it.

    I'll tell you all about it when I get back.

    Sooner or later.