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Treed Door

In Doylism, the phrase “after furious draining of AAA batteries in Luke’s digicam” was used. We were trying to make up for lost time and take some photos of me, a person essentially unphotographed for his entire life, yea unto his own first book, which contains no author photo.

Which of these four is least appalling?

Profiles in postmodern jacket
Joe profiles
Joe, treed
Joe treed

Ten Years Ago in Lice

Which of these can you really pick up at a “laundrymat”?

Find out once and for all as we trek back Ten Years Ago in Spy.



“In December 2002, Colin N. Doyle of Osaka, Japan (via Enfield, Nova Scotia) had the temerity to jetset through Toronto for a mere day and a half. We can provide photographic evidence.”


A Godsmack kind of moment

I had just gotten up and was checking my mail. I read my recent search results, including this phrase:

1 for "well hung hirsute but banal"

I thought to myself “You’re missing a hyphen, it’s not that big, and at least I know how to pronounce ‘banal,’ ” then turned on the television to find the music video of the song I had listened to à répétition yesterday, “Greed” by Godsmack: “Hard to find how I feel, especially when you’re smothering me.... Hey, little bitch! Be glad you finally walked away, or you may have not lived another day.”

Well-hung, hirsute, and serendipitous. So watch your back.


Scenes from the Class Struggle at M4M (IV)

EPISODE IV     What do you get for the man who has everything? Today, our snouts manage to sniff out a truffle amid the cesspool that is M4M. Why, it’s a slender young man who, far from demanding specific sexual capacities of his partners, envisages romantic encounters over good food and fine wine.

What else has he got goin’ for him? And what’s he doing among us philistines?

Me: He’s been to Switzerland and he likes fine wine.

Me: Can he also tinkle ivories, and what’s he looking for in a man?

Him: who knows

Me: You do, presumably.

Him: yes, he can tinkle ivories – although it’s been a while

Me: Jeez.

Me: It’s not [fella’s name].

Me: It’s James fucking Bond.

Me: (I kid.)

Him: D.E.S (Strasbourg), B.A. (Mt. Allison), B.Sc.A. (Hull), M.A. (Geneva), LL.B. (Ottawa)

Him: you asked for it... lol

Me: Whoa, he went to Mount A.

Me: What, exactly, is a B.Sc.A.?

Me: I can only match two to your five, but it’s not a competition.

Me: Not everything is about penis size.

Him: applied science – computer science specifically

Me: *Three* to your five. You seem to have the equivalent of high school in there.

Me: baccalauréat des sciences appliquées?

Me: Yeah, the CS majors. I know the type.

Him: quelque chise de ce genre, en effet

Me: I went to engineer school.

Him: chose

Me: je le comprenais.

Him: faute de frappe, zut

Me: my friend down in Kennn-tucky is a CS major

Me: and I wonder how he handles the stultifying boredom

Me: (usually by acing his tests).

Me: I believe there’s an unanswered question on the table.

Him: as opposed to T.O.? boredom is universal ...

Me: something to do with what you’re looking for in a man.

Him: good question

Me: Lawrenceburg, KY is objectively more boring than here.

Him: muscles and a big dick

Me: we’re trying to get him out of there.

Me: I’m 1 for 2 on your list.

Me: this seems to be the theme of the evening.

Him: that I noticed

Him: perhaps some brains – some intelligence

Him: that is hard to find though

Me: ça j’ai en surnombre.

Me: What the fuck did I just type?

Me: j’en ai en surnombre.

Me: there.

Me: the problem with online chat

Him: soupir

Me: (on systems that don’t permit italics, etc.)

Me: is of course misinterpretation.

Me: So I probably sound *slightly* more pretentious than I actually am.

Me: Do you *practice* law?

Him: you speak french, where did you learn?

Him: yes

Him: I am articling now – it was time to get it over with

Me: Je ne suis pas à l’aise en français. Je ne le parle pas couramment. Mais j’ai une assez bonne compréhension.

Me: enough that I run the fan page for a French-language TV show. In English.

Me: I’m a linguistics grad, so I know all too well that we understand more than we can produce.

Me: to speak languages fluently,

Me: one must choose his parents carefully.

Him: not necessarily on the parents thing – my parents do not speak french and I am fluent

Me: yes, but you lived the immigrant experience:

Me: Dad speaks X, mom speaks X or Y, country of youth speaks Z.

Me: that’s how trilinguals are raised.

Me: wow. linguistics on the chatline.

Me: I thought we were supposed to be talking about COCK.

Him: no, actually

Me: we’ve got expectations to meet.

Me: [joking]

Him: Dad and mom are anglos, [I] was born and grew up in canada

Him: hey, that’s one hell of a dick

Me: ah.

Me: you lived the immigrant experience.

Me: Yeah, well.

Me: I assume Strasbourg played a part in the French.

Him: um, yes –

Me: unfortunately, native language fluency is almost entirely out of a person’s control.

Him: went to university there from 19–20

Me: it’s entirely *circumstantial*.

Him: then M.A. in Geneva

Me: *second*-language fluency is often chosen.


The upper classes. If they don’t get what they want, they just pull the plug. Zut!


detente detent
dude dud
heroine heroin
locale local
morale moral
psyche psych
quelle quell
rationale rational
royale royal
silicone silicon
tartare tartar
urbane urban
vigilante vigilant



It nearly killed Luke’s box, and it exposed the dank underbelly of the geekpolitik, but here it is: “Ask an Expert About Web Site Accessibility” at Slashdot.


The pornography of love

At the Ethics in Sports Media panel in Rhode Island last year (still and likely forever undocumented), a fellow panelist declared that I was the most comfortable and most out-of-the-closet person he had ever met. Then again, he’d only been out for a short while despite being older than me.

There’s my degree of outness, there’s Harvey Fierstein’s, there’s Clive Barker’s. Is there another model?

Are there two models, posing nude?

No fewer than five times did I hold and contemplate buying the September–October 2001 issue of 2, the gay porn magazine featuring couples in R- but not X-rated embraces and poses. It is the issue featuring Corin and his boyfriend Jett.

A month ago I got paid and was faced with a fifth second chance. The issue of the magazine, unseen for half a year, was right there in front of me. I quit ignoring fate and now I own it fair and square.

I spent an entire year wondering about, and at, the romance manifest in the photo spread. The online photos are terrible; you’d never know that strange rays of love emanate from the printed spread, shot by James Monroe.

You’re not supposed to mix love and pornography, at least for straight people. Girls in straight porn may get paid more than guys, but the entire purpose of straight porn is to show straight guys what sex with a woman looks like. It’s inherently unequal and, frankly, disturbing. There is a modicum of truth to anti-porn activists’ claims about straight porn.

Activists conveniently fail to mention gay porn, of course. There it’s guys doing guys for the benefit of guys. That’s its purpose; as with straight porn, other people may watch, but they’re not the intended audience. It’s a closed system. And everybody uses it: There simply is not an urban gay male who does not look at porn. In the Britanski Queer as Folk, cleaning out dead Phil’s porn stash so his mom won’t find it is documentary, not fiction. You may not own any, but bars run it like wallpaper on television screens.

Corin already does porn, under the nom de pénis Corky, or as Eric, as in 2. His is really more of a voyeur site, and I doubt it makes him much money, though he’s popular enough with the punters – unretouched urologist-quality photos tend to score high at RateaRod.com (first, second).

He’s always struck me as a smart lad. One can get that impression. He’s not a writer (he can write; he’s not a writer), rather a designer-cum-photographer, and his site is OK. I find him handsome, with the lips and the hairline. The © tattoo is a nice touch. (Two 2 photographs were reversed for layout purposes, inverting Corin’s ©.) He’s well-hung; fine. I can get that anywhere.

He loves his man, Jett. It’s not supposed to be possible if you do porn; Amber Waves taught us that. But she’s a girl who did it onscreen with guys. Corin is a boy who does. The rules are different. Porn doesn’t poison the love; porn becomes proof.

The 2 shots, entitled “Higher Love,” are housed in the fourth issue surrounded by other portfolios of couples that, like the couples in the previous three and all subsequent issues, do nothing for me whatsoever. I don’t have an explanation. I think it’s because they are simply nothing special. Neither is doing porn, though, right? Because porn is par for the course with gays. I’ve seen ads at the Eagle advertising for porn models and I have more than idly considered it.

Corin and Jett, then, are quite ordinary in Aughties terms. They have a beautiful house, they’re handsome and fit men, they run their own sites, they do porn. They’ve got tanlines. They are nothing special, if you add it all up on paper.

But also on paper, their gestalt is love. They have enough love to transcend buying a Jetta – a Jetta for Jett and Corin – and tastefully decorating their nice house, and parading before a Webcam. They have so much love the only way it can be adequately calibrated is through a nude photo spread.

A natural model of gay love is to be an au naturel model, open-mouth-kissing your gay lover while you squeeze his nipple, his goatee as well-tended as your pubic hair. Then the tattooed barbed wire falling off the tattooed heart on his shoulder suddenly looks quite befitting.

I am a fellow who has actually been screamed at in a meeting for being too gay online to be professional – a bit of a stretch considering the entire industry I work in is overrun by invert men.

I’m still upset about it. I’m tremendously offended. But the Corin/Jett portfolio provides evidence that I am not, in fact, gay enough, or out enough. Still.

I would probably pose for a photo spread. Because I might have to be in love to do it.


Scenes from the Class Struggle at M4M (III)

EPISODE III     What happens if a tall, strapping Italian fella views your “private photo” on the homosexualist chatline, then learns it isn’t really you?

It seems the biggest guys are the quickest to jump onto a chair at the sight of a mouse. Perhaps “tall, strapping Italian fella” is a synonym for “helium-heels.”

Take it away, semicloseted neurasthenic!

Him: hi

Me: Aloha.

Me: Or “ciao bello” or whatever.

Him: you took a long time to reply to my ad

Me: wait... did you send an earlier reply?

Me: I apologize. 150 responses!

Him: yes....

Him: i understand

Him: that happens when your NEW

Him: it should start to cool off

Me: Yeah, no shit.

Me: It has, now that the photo is in the private section.

Him: lol

Him: someone told me that dick shots get good replies...

Me: Evidently.

Him: BUT not necessarily quality replies

Me: Moving right along...

Him: anyway – im very masculine – women at work are always trying to set me up with some chick or another – yuck

Me: You tell them you’re queer?

Him: tell me what you want

Him: no

Me: Then they’ll try to shag you themselves.

Me: Well, they’re gonna figure it out eventually. It’s the 21st century.

Him: they think im straight BUT some closer chicks have a hunch and i rarely lie – prefer to be ambiguous/vague with my answers

Him: i really don’t care if they do know – but i love playing the part of a st8 [sic] guy

Me: I see.

Him: and the st8 men at work also love me for some reason – maybe its because i always talk about sex

Him: anyway

Him: im 35

Me: Perhaps they can smell your foreskin.

Him: lol


Him: wish they did smell my foreskin

Him: what does “fuzzy” mean?

Me: What do you need in a man, then?

Me: apart from what you stated already?

Him: physically – love tall/uncut/euro/brits/masc/aggressive yet gentle

Him: other qualities...

Me: I’m only 5′11″ and circumcised, and an anglo.

Him: love HONESTY, shyness, romantic, intelligent, caring, simple.

Me: honest, yes. shy, no. aggressive, yes. intelligent, extremely. simple, the exact opposite.

Me: I had a Latino bf who found me insufficiently “huggy.”

Him: what is huggy and fuzzy

Me: Well, fuzzy: If you refer to hair, I’m beyond fuzzy. Think rainforest.

Me: Huggy? Well, think fawning, cuddly.

Him: well you certainly have my interest

Me: it does, however, depend on physical size.

Me: Latino bf was just a smidge too large to be “hugged” easily postcoitally.

Me: I’m going to do act like a hypocrite here and ask if you have a “face pic,” as they say, even though I don’t. That may be unfair.

Him: you mention you are cut yet your photo is uncut – can you explain that

Him: you just mentioned that your 5′11″ yet your ad says 6 feet – can you explain that

Me: Yeah, the story seems nefarious but isn’t.

Me: “Just under 6 feet,” I think. I believe I’m exactly 5′10.5″.

Me: That isn’t my photo! SHOCK!

Me: one could not even browse ads without a photo on the system, and there aren’t any of me.

Me: so I improvised.

Me: perhaps unwisely.

Me: anyway, text description is accurate, if height seems to vary (“just under 6 feet” works better than “5′10.5″,” I think).

Me: I’m sure it gives the appearance of deception, but that was not the intent.

Him: its like “deception” or lying, don’t you think?

Me: It’s like “System requirements force dishonesty for people who prefer to manifest themselves in text.”

Him: what is the intent?

Me: the intent was to sit around and browse ads *for amusement*.

Me: I put the photo up, and (fatal mistake) didn’t make it the private one.

Me: so I got 150 responses.

Me: and here we are.

Me: had it been a private photo, I could have merely browsed and been amused.


Him: most people use the system as a means for others to see them and if they like them – to reply – you use it to check out every guys’ piks....

Me: I explain what happened. Guys either buy it or don’t. It is, in fact, what happened.

Me: yes. there are almost no photos of me. not having a camera could have something to do with it.

Him: buy what? a fake pic?

Me: It’s all very embarrassing.

Him: like have you met anyone off this line?

Me: Buy the explanation, which is truthful. Or they have overly-sensitive bullshit detectors and write me off.

Me: No, not yet. Toi?

Him: a few... and your the reason why it is only a few... bullshitters to pik collectors to shitheads, you name it – ive heard it all

Me: Pic *collectors*?

Me: a bit much.

Me: Did you, as they say, “hook up” with any of them?

Him: i hooked up with a few REAL GUYS

Me: Also tall?

Him: never with the fake adders

Me: Did you get good lovin’ from them?

Him: most were REALLY nice//did not have sex with all of them – def NOT/a few were assholes

Me: If I’m not mistaken, your tender secret is that you’re romantic.

Him: who told you that

Me: I read between the lines.

Him: actually i told you that

Me: Well, you listed that as a quality you *sought*.

Him: anyway, i have no idea what the fuck you look like

Him: and i’m wasting my time

Me: I would not say “wasting your time.”

Me: And, in all fairness, I don’t know what you look like above the nose.

Me: I thought it was going fine.

Him: i told you i love HONESTY and i even put it in capitals earlier for a reason – cuz ITS TRUE

Me: Oh, well. People are hard to read.


Me: The pic is fake and nothing else is. It really isn’t more complicated than that. If I were really trying to fake you out, I wouldn’t have bothered to fess up. I’m sure other guys have done that to you, but I wouldn’t.

Him: the reason I started to do internet ads was so I could see a pik or 2... or else its a total BLIND DATE like the phone line and blind dates SUCK they never work for me... I hated them

Me: En tout cas, [fella], it’s a free country. You may do as you wish. I’m happy to keep chatting, if desired.

Me: blind dates work badly for fags because we are visual creatures.

Him: let me ask you

Him: why are you afraid to put a pik of you online

Me: There’s no fear. There just aren’t any photos!

Me: It isn’t nefarious.

Him: so why bother with M4m – why not go to gay.com where you need no pik? – m4m is a site for piks correct

Me: The original intent was to BROWSE. and that went horribly wrong. I suppose I should just cut bait and go back to frequenting the Eagle or something. I can only ask that you not be quite so horribly offended.

Him: you mean to tell me with a million internet cafes and a zillion digital cameras on the market today or even a simple $60 comp cam you could not get a pik of you

Me: this is all a mere two weeks old.

Me: one has been working, hosting a friend from Montreal, etc.

Me: I give up.

Me: No, you have no *photo* of me. you have a description.

Me: I suppose I should have mentioned black hair, brown eyes,

Me: #1 buzzcut of black hair with male-pattern baldness.

Him: do you work out?

Me: Haven’t been in a gym in a while. Average shape, the ad says.

Him: if your experiment in browsing or I should say your deception in getting access to over 150 priv piks didn’t work well, then you should have erased the ad and put a REAL ad of you and real pik in as well and sell yourself that way – or else its not fair to me and others. when I reply to an ad it’s because there is something in the pik that interests me and I want to pursue it – I have no idea what you look like – a descr in words to me is rather meaningless (I do love bald men though)...

Him: a pik tells a thousand stories though

Me: I had the photo switched to private.

Me: I almost NEVER get a response now.

Me: except from hardcore bottoms who respond to any ad containing the word “top.”

Me: Now I simply initiate.

Me: they can talk or not talk. you’re talking.

Him: of course not – your ad says very little about you

Me: because it was a placeholder.

Him: you need to sell yourself guy – a no pik ad or a fake pik ad are not good selling strategies

Him: what incentive do I have to meet you

Me: Fine.

Me: Point taken.

Me: Now, when I finally get to buy a digicam

Me: the problem will be solved.

Me: or actually, the options are (a) retain current state, (b) get someone to shoot me and scan it, (c) remove ad completely, (d) buy camera and do it properly.

Me: Anyway, I apparently have lost your confidence (after all the time we’ve known each other!) and now would be a good time to change the subject.

Me: Or we could be on our merry way.

Him: fuck you even asked me for a face pik too before you told me the truth about you, UNBELIEVABLE

Me: My exact words were ‘I’m going to do act like a hypocrite here and ask if you have a “face pic,” as they say, even though I don’t. That may be unfair.’

Me: Sounds pretty believable to me.

Me: Anyway, [fella], your bullshit detector is, I think, a tad overzealous tonight.

Me: and you’ve beaten this particular topic into the ground. I believe the point is taken.

Me: I would, however, suggest having an actual face pic of your own. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the [gander], etc.

Him: anyway have a good night – i’ve had enough – and throughout these 2 or 3 weeks of you havin your fukin fun online – I kept thinkin you rejected me cuz I wasnt good enough for you WOW – life is strange man

Me: you got lost in the shuffle.

Me: this is an impersonal service, and I apologized for that right from the word go.

Me: I don’t know any other ways of saying This-All Isn’t Quite as I Had Expected.

Him: I have plenty of piks but thank god I don’t place them on this service

Me: Mustn’t sound quite so wounded, [fella].

Me: it’s not like I stood you up at the altar.

Him: I have problems with deception and dishonesty

Him: cuz I am so NOT LIKE THAT AT ALL

Me: It is a very minor thing. the only thing that’s “deceptive” is the photo.

Me: you now have about 1,800 words of explanation.

Him: a lot of guys will look at my piks and reject me and thats fine – I understand – and I don’t care – but I would like the right to be able to do the same – to look at a pik and decide if I want to pursue it

Me: This would be the time to fish or cut bait.

Me: Unless you did something strange and human, like have a nice chat conversation!

Me: My God! It doesn’t end up in sex! Gay men can’t possibly have anything to do with that!

Him: lets see the name of this site is m4m4sex not m4m4chatonly –

Me: Fish or cut bait, [fella].

Him: let’s see

Him: im looking for a potential boyfriend or nice guy(sex or without sex) yet I may be chatting with freddy krueger or jason – that is not what I want nor do I want to chat with some professor or somebody who likes cars – I need a pik

Me: a dead-gorgeous man could still be any of those things.

Me: your needs are hereby acknowledged, but cannot be filled just at this moment, for reasons exhaustively documented.

Me: so don’t feel all “rejected” or “deceived.”

Him: alright then

Me: It’s just a gay chatline. You’re a big lad. You’ll live.

Him: the ball is in your court to deliver someday....

Him: until then, I wish thee a good night...

Him: ciao


“Not boring at all!”

Why, it’s those surprising Gore girls and a surprising New Yorker lexicon. Where? Ten Years Ago in Spy, of course.


Scenes from the Class Struggle at M4M (II)

EPISODE II     Let’s wander down memory lane one more time, courtesy of dragging one’s M4M chat session into a desktop clipping.

Our interlocutor this time? A minor Canadian director and sometime actor, famous for his bit part in a wartime epic by the leading director in the United States. He’s as egotistical as he is bald, tall, and Jewish.

Take it away, boychick.

Him: heh, glad to know i have fans here. where’s the face then?

Me: Yello?

Him: yo!

Me: Or, more aptly, Oy!

Me: no, man, I’m an anglo, not Israeli.

Me: I don’t know where to begin here. The last filmmaker I met was Don McKellar,

Me: with whom I was granted an audience on December 31, 1998.

Him: ah yes, so what did you do to don mKeller?

Me: I learned just how smart and cunning Don is. He’s always thinking two steps ahead of you,

Me: and knows essentially everything about every aspect of the dramatic arts.

Me: Now, *you* I haven’t met.

Me: I wonder if I’m even your type.

Me: 5’11", 180, average shape, #1 buzzcut head, impossibly hirsute.

Me: whereas one is reasonably aware of what you look like. I find you quite handsome.

Him: yeah yeah... if you went through the trouble of putting your dick online then let’s see your face.. what are you in hiding?

Me: I expect most human beings do.

Me: no, nothing nefarious about absence of photographs. there just aren’t any.

Him: ok

Me: I suppose showing up on a chatline without full-body X-rays or a full Sears Portrait Studio wallet spread is like walking into the Black Eagle without a hankie.

Me: I’m sorry about that.

Me: you’re not the first person to be perplexed<slash>angry<slash>suspicious.

Him: no big deal hanki pops

Me: anyway, go ahead. I type 100 wpm and that tends to make me blab.

Me: So what *are* you looking for here?

Me: if I may be so bold.

Him: a reason to smile

Me: let’s see...

Him: gee thanks

Me: we’ve both been profiled by Sid Adilman.

Him: :-)

Me: I’m sure this is sounding ever more spooky.

Him: he’s a good man... he was very supportive

Me: smile... smile... smile...

Me: well, my wit gets me into trouble in this very literal-minded town,

Me: but somehow I can’t muster it on command here.

Him: nothing can surprise an old horse

Me: Hung like an, etc.?

Me: never did see *that* component in [unnamed film].

Him: your wit woulda placed you better in mine eyes...

Me: well, it’s still available.

Him: as for the testicular element... eh!

Him: get a face wit boy!

Me: yeah.

Me: “Get a face wit boy”?

Me: um...?

Him: um!

Me: en tout cas, yes, the penis is slightly overrated.

Me: seen one, seen ’em all, etc.

Him: right

Me: a good strong nose, or maybe forearms or calves,

Me: are marriage bait right there.

Me: someone asked me today if there’s a celebrity I resemble.

Me: I had to say no, though my nose looks like the bastard child of Bob Hope, Richard Nixon, and Roberto Benigni.

Me: though not Don McKellar.

Me: tell me if this sparkling discourse is what you’re looking for here.

Me: I hope it heats “hey wassup?!?! what u doin”

Him: sorry man. i don’tlike talkin blindfolded. don’t take it personally.

Me: There’s always double espresso.

Him: always

Him: but you’ve given me no reason till now.

Me: Your honesty (one could say bluntness) is, I suppose, admirable.

Him: if this is a compliment then much obliged

Me: I don’t know where you’re going here. IM is a text-based medium. I don’t have a photo. I can make up for it by actually meeting you in, as they say, “a public place.”

Him: as i said, i have to reason to (yet)... many people can type fast, some of them even faster, many peeps have a dick (some of them bigger although perhaps that’s not likely) and type blabber does not impress until it is relevent to something i ’d want or need.

Me: Now would be your chance to mention what you want or need.

Me: your ad did seem to veer toward the LTR end of the spectrum. also conversation.

Him: as i said – a reason to smile

Me: well, without the usual facial expressions, body language, etc., to judge by, you’re not merely a tough room, you’re an impossible room.

Me: But how about this, Mr. Director?

Me: the other day a former bf and I were chatting on this system

Me: and realized, at about the same time, by pretty much the same bolt of lightning,


Me: “Oh, my God! It’s him!”

Me: “Oh, my God! It’s him!”

Me: There’s the gay man’s lot in life in the 21s century:

Him: huh?

Me: simultaneously hitting up exes on gay chatlines.

Me: best Oscar Wilde here can do at ten to 2:00 on a holiday.

Him: still not with ye

Me: well, dear, I’m gonna leave you to your Rumpelstiltskin exercise.

Me: you’ve got one of the few non-dullard Toronto fags on the line.

Me: say hello again sometime if I am later deemed worthy.

Me: or whatever I need to be deemed.

Him: sure. g’night.

You may be wondering why he hasn’t acted or directed more. I expect because he is waiting for casting agents and producers to give him a reason to smile.

All that gall, and you don’t even get a foreskin along with it. I don’t think so.


Scenes from the Class Struggle at M4M (I)

EPISODE I     Time to add to the historical record various of my online chats with lads on M4M4Sex.com, which still cannot hold a candle to Worldskins (op. cit.). Transcripts have been denominalized and are not directly traceable; the only editing involved removed identifying details and fixed the most egregious typing errors.

[And if it takes you more than five minutes to locate my ad, you haven’t been online long enough. (Is the photo mine?)]

Now, then. The catchphrase used to describe sexual encounters between tops is crossing swords. Such homosexualists are said to cross swords with each other all night, the implication being that the only kind of sex is rear-guard. It seems a tad limiting and unrealistic, not to mention doctrinaire and evocative of depilated, steroidal homunculi strung out on roids and K.

In this case, the crossing of swords was verbal. Take it away, unnamed interlocutor!

Him: I am lost

Him: it all seems so esoteric

Me: Well, your ad does seem to ask for three contradictory things:

Me: 1. a bottom

Me: 2. a fella who is sexually open

Me: 3. a fella who can give you “it all,” if you’ll forgive the grammar

Him: how are 1 and 2 contradictory?

Him: all tops are sexually closed?

Me: Take it from another top: Our whole lives are contradictions, but this is more than a usual dose.

Him: I disagree completely

Me: I think being sexually open and wanting it all are a recipe for a "versatile" relationship, to use the vernacular.

Him: I think those who don’t cherish contradictions

Him: are dead

Me: Ah. Well, good to have that settled.

Him: so it your interpretation of sexually open

Him: fair enuf

Him: I see your point

Me: In my experience,

Me: the 100% tops and 100% bottoms

Me: tend to become mostly tops and mostly bottoms once they fall in love.

Me: *That* is what opens guys up. *That* is what gives you “it all.”

Him: so you are top in love?

Him: a top in love

Him: or were a top in love

Him: and continue to be a top?

Me: While guys are playing the field, the total tops and total bottoms find it easier to stick to those scripts.

Me: Now, the versatile guys are a different story.

Him: you seem to be well versed

Me: I’ve been around.

Him: I’m not sure it is all scripts

Him: scientific studies

Him: have been done on tops and bottoms

Me: That’s news to me.

Him: and the evidence suggests that it stems from childhood

Me: Continue.

Him: one sec

Him: I am getting the reference

Me: Kettle boiling on the stove?

Me: Whoa, he’s looking it up.

Him: <-- scientist

Me: Bottoms I’ve talked to knew from the time they were kids that they were, in fact, bottoms.

Me: I’ve never heard a top say that.

Me: <-- engineering and linguistics major. I love a good reference.

Him: yep

Me: Citations are *hot*.

Him: fair enuf

Me: Actually, we should update our ads so they read like MLS-compliant scientific citations.

Him: so I have a theory

Me: I’m listening.

Him: what was your childhood like

Him: were you introverted

Him: extroverted

Him: happy

Him: frustrated

Him: lost

Him: hurt

Him: outgoing

Him: friendly

Me: With the greatest possible respect, that’s a bit *forward* at this stage of our friendship.

Him: get over yourself

Him: I think

Me: Well, that’s one response, I guess.

Him: those that were controlled in childhood

Him: control as adults

Him: and vice versa

Me: Hmm.

Me: Interesting theory.

Me: I’m not sure it really applies to me, though.

Him: http://www.nickyee.com/ponder/topbottom.html

Him: a look at ‘masculinity’ issues and tops and bottoms

Him: well you have already set yourself apart from us run-of-the-mill tops :)

Him: top/bottom is called genitoerotic roles

Him: Weinrich, James D., Grant, Igor, Jacobson, Denise L., Robinson, S. Renée, McCutchan, J. Allen and the HNRC Group (1992)
Effects of recalled childhood gender nonconformity on adult genitoerotic role and AIDS exposure. Archives of Sexual Behavior 21(6): 559–585.

Him: I don’t have the paper

Him: I have to go to U of T to get it

Me: All right. Will look at that one later.

Him: it’s not online

Him: too old

Me: Interesting.

Me: I like your reasoning here.

Him: I think so

Me: But sex isn’t all about reason, is it?

Him: oh god

Him: don’t be emotional

Him: tops aren’t allowed to be emotional

Me: There’s an interesting request!

Him: it is interesting I often get in better discussions with tops

Him: it is part of our analytical mind, I think

Me: A lot of pure bottoms are stupid, frankly.

Me: Or hopelessly meek, or dependent on ongoing psychotherapy.

Me: I’ve met exactly *one* exception.

Him: ah

Him: I have met many exceptions

Me: Perhaps you’ve been around more than I have.

Him: as if

Him: nope, maybe just a bit less judgemental :)

Him: more accepting

Me: You realize I’m just responding here, right? in a neutral way?

Him: huh?

Him: devil’s-advocate type thing

Me: We’re just chatting. I’m not entering into some grand disputation of what you’re saying here.

Him: I know

Him: I’m not that weak willed

Him: I have a stronger sense of self than to offended and horrified this easily

Me: plain text leads itself to misinterpretation.

Him: hmm

Him: so put more :)

Him: in there

Him: LOL

Me: Now, where were we?

Him: oh I think you were slaggin me somehow

Me: No, just clearing up misunderstanding. moving right along.

Me: You sound as ornery and snappy as I am.

Me: We fit in real well in New York, but Torontonians find us quite forward, don’t they?

Me: Pussies.

Him: do they?

Him: you would be surprised if you met me

Him: I am not as forward as you are I believe

Him: I can easily sit back at a bar or club

Him: and let the world pass me by

Him: often even I see a hot guy

Him: I don’t bother

Him: often it isn’t worth my time

Him: I’d rather do my own thing

Him: and I have been called shy

Me: Well, what part isn’t worth your time?

Him: hmm

Me: Chatting him up, only to find he’s (a) combination bottom+stupid

Him: well my standards are too high I think

Me: or (b) combination top+interesting?

Him: combination bottom?

Him: c’est quoi ca?

Me: Combination of [(bottom)+(stupid)]

Him: ah

Him: we call them DB’s

Him: dumb bottoms

Me: “We” do?

Him: me and my friend who is a borderline DB

Him: you see

Him: the thing about bottoms

Me: Aha.

Him: is even tho they are dumb

Him: and in need of serious shrink work

Him: and are so dependent

Him: I am so much the opposite

Him: that people like me frustrate me

Him: they don’t relax me

Him: or make me open up

Him: get me to be vulnerable

Him: so I want someone

Me: Did you mean “people like me frustrate me,” i.e. people like YOU frustrate YOU?

Him: yes

Me: ah.

Me: go on.

Him: people like YOU frustrate me :)

Him: as you are like me

Him: (I think)

Me: Yeah. Everything’s a battle, a discussion. Nothing is “easy.”

Me: I get that a lot.

Me: but that’s a misinterpretation.

Him: yep

Him: whatever

Me: Curmudgeons say what they think right then and there.

Him: nice try

Him: you are an EUT

Me: If something annoys us, we say it and *it’s over*.

Him: emot unavail top

Me: but the nice guys-- would you let me finish here?

Him: it’s all rules

Him: ha

Him: ok

Me: Let me try this again.

Me: “Normals” and nice guys like things to be on an even keel.

Me: Curmudgeons are hot-tempered and idealistic and if something annoys us, we say so right there.

Me: But boom, it.’s over.

Him: (normals??? what the fuck?)

Him: hot and cold

Me: But that puts a spike in the graph, which ruins the even keel the normals (sic!) and nice guys want.

Me: so: bottoms I’ve dealt with

Me: (in one case, a 2yr relationship)

Me: never, EVER got used to little spikes in the graph.

Him: my ex

Him: (100% btm)

Me: they never could get a handle on the overall trend. they wanted the overall trend to be nice and calm all the time.

Him: LOVED the spikes

Him: for a while

Me: Or they don’t know how to handle them, or they try really hard to paper over their own reactions to them.

Me: then, after a while, they go SPLAT! and say they’ve had enough. Am I right?

Him: yeah

Him: no

Him: I run

Me: Oh?

Me: Well, that’s one option.

Him: I get frustrated

Him: with the dependency

Me: Frustrated with what?

Me: Oh.

Me: If he’s putting up with the spikes, how is that “dependent”?

Him: he did

Him: I should go

Me: Ah.

Me: Too bad.

Him: going to hang with my friend

Me: Well, you’re very interesting.

Him: a bit more.... bkgrnd

Him: you are challenging certainly

Me: I *like* your type,

Me: in very many ways,

Him: I don’t take well to being challenged

Me: but it seems you don’t like mine.

Me: A bit of a tragedy, really.

Him: so this is interesting

Him: don’t like your type?

Me: Emotionally, I mean.

Him: well

Me: Then there’s the “top” part, but we didn’t get to that point yet.

Him: I don’t have much experience with your type

Him: emotionally

Me: My type appears to be your type. That’s what I’m saying!

Him: I do intellectually

[Long discussion of book, etc. – trust me, you’re not missing anything]

Him: you can use all that cash to take me to dinner

Me: There’s an idea.

Me: Indian, I assume?

Him: Indian

Him: well

Him: interesting assumption

Him: sure

Him: I’m game

Him: you are told that?

Him: interesting

Me: No, I don’t eat game. I’m veg.

Him: so should I hold out for some pic

Me: [schwing]

Him: oh

Him: you are a bottom

Him: vegetarian

Later, my interlocutor and I enjoyed several pleasantly-contentious and keyed-up snatchmails. Then I linked my interlocutor to one of the few pictures of me in existence. Since then, radio silence.

When I showed the lad’s ad to Rob, he was dismissive, saying “he looks like Fag 101 to me.” Now I guess the guy feels the same way about me.


French (onscreen) typography

Three links on usage, type standards, and onscreen reading.

  1. Petit guide typographique à l’usage de l’internet
  2. La lecture facile à l’écran
  3. Les mots des blancs

Jean-François Porchez, your time is manifestly not up.

There’s really so much to talk about here. Paul Robinson talks about so very little of it. Except:

Rules are important, no question about it. But by themselves they are insufficient. Unless one has an emotional investment, rules are too easily forgotten. What we must instill, I’m convinced, is an attitude toward punctuation, a set of feelings about both the process in general and the individual marks of punctuation. That set of feelings might be called a philosophy of punctuation.

You have to love the language. Every mark of punctuation is a pin pulled out of a voodoo doll; each and every one of them counts.

Splash Bar: An Aryan, fascistic, monocultural evil

The Splash Bar of course has a splash screen.

Before we go on, though, may I suggest a spellchecker, or a dictionary, or perhaps a boyfriend with a high-school education?

Have you ever gone to a club to just “check it out” and been drawn to the dance floor by Fun ,Upbeat, Popular music?


The songs were old and new, but the common thread was that they were all Smash Hits that demanded your attendance on the floor! You swore to yourself that you were only going to have one drink, but because of that dam pesky DJ, you couldn’t leave the dance floor, much less the Club. You hate it yet you love it...your torn!

No, only one of those three, really.

SBNY’s Extreme tea is happy to have Dr. FeelGood himself, resident DJ Max Rodriquez spinning at this week’s soirée. So if you think your coming for only one drink, don’t kid yourself, if Max is spinning, you’re in for the "Long Haul!!

I see.


Your cold, bleeding heart

I hate it when flighty invert Webloggers republish their SCIM transcripts. Fortunately for us all, flighty I ain’t.

contenunu: Glad Day Books here has the new one by Mark Simpson, Sex Terror, in which he dares to write that gay sex is overrated.

RobKYX: all sex is overrated

contenunu: What if you were in love?
You’re so romantic you’re frigid.

RobKYX: this is true



I [HEART] Beta Steven Levy was right: Collecting is no fun anymore because, thanks to eBay, absolutely everything is now collectible, nothing is a bargain, and nothing can be discovered serendipitously. Now, none of that is an issue when you’re in Elmer Fudd mode, on the hunt for the wild Betamax.

It’s all very situationist, to recapitulate a term that turned out to be a dead end. Circa 1991, in someone else’s basement, I watched the film Empire of the Sun (the Spielberg film of a J.G. Ballard memoir, it is commonly forgotten) on a Betamax VCR. By kismet, I had read an encomium to to the Beta format and Sony’s (but no one else’s) “jewel-like” VCRs some few weeks before. It’s all true. You could hear the precision of the motors and tape mechanism.

Betas are better. The picture is better. So are the mechanics. (So is the tape, but what doomed the format commercially was a standard L-500 tape’s inability to hold a two-hour movie in highest-quality mode, called BI [“Bee-One”]. It had much less to do with marketing than is commonly believed. Moreover, I like the lopsided window of a Beta tape. VHS symmetry is trite.)

I am dissatisfied with my two-year-old Sony VHS VCR. It’s appalling in every respect – horrid stiff Chiclety detents on the fascia buttons, 1980s-style narrow remote control that stopped working after two months, and a tape mechanism that is nothing short of Soviet. I timed her: It can take fifteen seconds for recording to start after you shove in a tape. (That’s assuming the machine properly registered your pressing the button.) Know the name SLV-N71. Know it well, and shun it.

However, I adore my old-old-old Sony SLV-770HF: The drop-down front door; the jog wheel; the bigger remote (broken but functioning) that you can use purely by touch; the quick tape response; the more logical menu functions (the Execute key actually means something, unlike the newer machine). I’ve poured nearly $400 of repairs into it on two occasions, and I will run it lovingly into the ground. The 770 is not even top of the line for its era.

RMT-129But we’re not done yet! No one has invented a truly usable remote control, but the old Sony remotes were a dream because they were three-dimensional. The Play/Stop/jog-wheel functions were raised like a spare tire bolted to a Hummer trunklid. Volume and channel keys felt different two different ways (compared to each other and compared to other keys); certain keys – the dangerous ones, the keys that get you into trouble, like RECORD – required two fingers or hands to press, were surrounded by keyguards, or were recessed. (My broken RMT-V140A has nearly all those features at once.)

So I’m doing a William Gibson and obsessively combing over eBay for any kind of Sony SLV-7xx VCR (my searching is somewhat broader, actually) and every Betamax. Yes. Yes, I want one or more Betas. Now, why? Because I have a digital cable box, two VCRs, and a DVD player; I tape shit; it’s my business. And I need some frigging jewels in my life. (Owning a Beta only becomes a drawback for longer-running-time programs and in exchanging tapes. Your own private stock only has to work in your machine.)

I can see another 770, plus a very good Beta, plus a multiformat VHS. I’m gonna need a switcher.

Now, you don’t believe me that Betas are gorgeous? Don’t be disputing me. That shit is unwise. SL-HF2100: A friggin’ Star Trek interface in 1991. (But don’t they get tired of tapping panels?) The SL-HF1000, with everything five VHS decks could possibly offer, which is probably how many I’ll end up with. (Deck. Don’t you love the word deck?) I cross-check with the master list.

Betas: Beautiful, still-functional, much-loved outdated technology, victim of a BIG LIE (dig the Spy-like exegetic advertisement) and as seductive as Communism. The alpha and omega of desirable electronics. I them.



How do you make an homosexualist ironist queasy? Teach him roadkill recipes, as actually happened Ten Years Ago in Spy.


Why I hate graphic design

I foolishly schlepped myself down to some hotel this afternoon for a Coast Paper–sponsored lecture with the provocative title “Why I Hate Graphic Design.” (There’s my next book title.)

Here is the salient portion of the frigging invitation (several errors corrected; unavailable online anywhere that I can find):

When: 12:00 PM–3:00 PM Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Location: The Crowne Plaza – 225 Front St. West

You are invited to a luncheon with designer John Bielenberg presented by Coast Paper, The Curious Paper Collection, and Appleton Coated.

Why I Hate Graphic Design

Tuesday, October 29th, 2002

Noon to 1:15 PM
Buffet Lunch provided

After Hours with John Bielenberg
1:30–3 PM (optional)


PS Will be a fantastic event! John is an excellent speaker
of C2 in San Francisco
Call me if you have any questions

I expected an intelligent talk. Sort of a j’accuse, or a rousing of rabble. A kind of truth in advertising at the very least – I expected to be told why he at least dislikes graphic design.

Instead, we sat through a slideshow of this very important graphic designer’s gassy inspirations and vapid parodic work, including an “identity” for a fake dot-com, Virtual Telemetrix, that was as tasteless, unfunny, and overlong as a segment from Saturday Night Live.

Organizers’ first mistake was to hold the event in a poncy ballroom with individual tables – all the better to push ill-dressed or flat-black-dressed Toronto designers one increment outside their “comfort zone” and to encourage the Concrete/Atlanta/Taxi posses or moral equivalent to take over entire tables and engage in smug, clubby body language while chowing down on dead meat.

After driving a shy young Australian away from our table (Luke Portofina, come back! All is forgiven!), I endured 90 minutes of Bielenberg’s leaning on a lectern and burning through two slide carousels and two tedious video segments.

I take excellent notes. Years of experience. Here is the totality of what I could come up with for a lecture entitled “Why I Hate Graphic Design”:

I’ve put up with this sort of thing before. Siobhan Keaney, for example. She was invited to her event because half-arsed organizers were looking for someone female, and her name had recently come up. Her entire existence was apropos of nothing. Bielenberg was invited because his schtick is now nothing less than a lecture circuit and because he reliably plugs Coast Paper (three times today).

John Bielenberg: Why I hate graphic design.


My time in Parkdale

We approach the twelfth anniversary of my sojourn on the wrong side of the river. Circa 1990, my friend Ross Laycock moved to California temporarily. His spousal equivalent, Cuban émigré conceptual artist Félix González-Torres, had scored a six-month teaching gig.

1990 – moved to L.A. with Ross (already very sick), Harry the Dog, Biko, and Pebbles, the Ravenswood, Rossmore, golden hour, Ann and Chris by the pool, magic hour, rented a red car, money for the first time, no more waiting on tables, Golden Girls, great students at CalArts, Millie and Catherine, went back to Madrid after almost twenty years: sweet revenge

Now, how did I meet Ross? Through the hamstrung and also high-strung activist group, AIDS Action Now. (Yes, longtime readers, the same tawdry cabal that refused to represent wee Ron Kelly.) Ross had a Mac Plus with a gigantic external hard drive. He could never get it to work. Hence I was regularly invited over to unfuck his computer. If you think someone who cannot understand a Macintosh has to be pretty dim, I would take exception. Multiple intelligences, remember?

Ross was a tall, strapping man with black hair and a regal demeanour. (“You like my overalls? They’re Girbaud.”) He and his dog Harry took up a lot of space. A very New York kind of guy, he moved back in 1988 or 1989 for the free health care, which he rather needed. These were the days when the dead giveaway of an invert with AIDS was the dispersed mottling of Kaposi’s sarcoma, a disease that was not to be trifled with. (I’ve seen photos of livers with KS. If it failed to spread from the skin, you were OK.) Today, the dead giveaways are sunken cheeks.

(It’s always the face, isn’t it? And it’s always only the fags, isn’t it?)

We never did anything, of course. I was too young (this was pre–age 28) and he was already married. (I was, however, exactly his type. I see a pattern emerging.) I was not freaked out by the KS lesions, which feel no different from surrounding skin, and would provide back massages on demand. He needed them. We were regarded with incipiently malign curiosity on the streetcar.

I loved Félix, who, like so many artistes (see his work), was totally open and normal. (That’s the secret antidote to being a stuck-up arsehole: Become a famous artist.) He was fascinated to learn that his stacks used poor typography. These blue letter-sized sheets bore only a couple of words, always typeset in Trump Mediæval Bold Italic. But Trump Mediæval did not have a bold italic in that era, and I had to tell him he was getting an electronically-slanted version. (Actually, I remember now that he also used the Italic in the regular weight, an actual Trump variant, here and there.) You were meant to visit the museum and take a page from the stacks. There is a small chance I still have a few in my files.

Ross needed his apartment housesat, so I did it. And what an apartment. At 59 Roncesvalles. Bright-puce bedroom walls, deep-blue living room (even the floor), a drafty, narrow kitchen with ancient porcelain sink that was easily as womb-like as a Maritime kitchen. A Bang & Olufsen stereo. (I distinctly remember buying Flood and Strange Angels on vinyl. But that’s not all: I remember waking up, turning on the television, and watching in shock filtered through a fog of slumber as Laurie Anderson sang “Beautiful Red Dress” on the Today show, complete with letter-perfect real-time captions.)

You couldn’t take a shower without adjusting the water flow to an exact degree of arc, otherwise you got scalded or froze to death. I eventually reached the point where I could adjust it within two minutes of fiddling. Technically, the building had a laundry room, but I was stuck dealing with the laundromat up the street, which I loathed – but not as much as the two housecats, Mary and Bruno, loathed me. If I hadn’t tried to detangle their matted fur, they never would have decided to spend the rest of my time there hiding under the chairs.

“Roncy” remains a fine Toronto boulevard. It a plummets headlong into the lake (watch that left turn at Queen) and is ancient enough to feel rooted to the ground; you aren’t walking on a shell of concrete and rebar over sewer and cable caverns. Old houses and low-rise shops compete with giant trees for title of most pleasing spectacle of a summer evening. Sunday nights, you’ve got the street to yourself. It’s magickal and otherworldly, or at least unlike any other street in Toronto save for Palmerston, which lacks the needed streetcar tracks.

It is, however, too far away. It was not home. I still took the subway to the Big Carrot every week to shop.

In fact, my memories have only two themes: Geography and struggle. I had no work, no UIC, no computer, and nothing to do. I think I may have OLed here and there. I did not quite have no friends; I nominally enjoyed a black boyfriend during that era, who, as every paramour eventually does, would later tell me that he had not appreciated me enough.

The local Poles had no time for me and were perfectly happy to show it. You’d have to live there 20 years, and so would your kids and grandkids, before they’d bother to smile when you visited their shops. I get a greater degree of simple acknowledgement in Chinatown. Don’t bother making eye contact walking past the church on Sunday, either, because the middle-aged throng on the sidewalk pays you no heed. Any number of mom-’n’-pop joints could ship your shit back to the homeland.

I walked along Queen St. most days. I knew every dive, diner, dépanneur, old-clothes store, and antiques shop from Roncy to Spadina. Man, was it cold. And tiring. The streetcar was an option, but it cost money, and didn’t I have more time than that?

It was winter and I remember the light. There’s much to be said for clear winter days. Much more to be said for clear winter days when one has enough money to avoid rationalizing a two-hour walk five times a week, but it was Glenn Gould–like nonetheless. The Parkdale IDEA OF NORTH is an hodgepodge of retail on an ancient main drag enjoyed while wearing earmuffs, boots, gloves – and shades.

The light is not the same here because the geography is not the same. We’ve got different shadows. It came back to me with a start during luncheon with Jeff on Friday, where he did indeed confirm wearing a van de Graaf generator codpiece to the Northbound Leather party. Queen St. West has gone a bit upscale. Everyone complains about it, right? because it pushes the poor people out. But the neighbourhood was always “mixed-use,” and nobody seems to have imagined that the (former) poor residents might earn some money someday and want to move back. Do you want longtime residents and returning residents, or do you want Parkdale to become Newfoundland, a place where people are “originally from” that is inhabited only by those who can’t get themselves out?

I was in fact in New York right after the work for which Félix became most famous was unveiled, a simple set of billboards showing an empty bed with a pair of pillows recently slept on. Ross died in 1991 and Félix in 1996. I don’t have so many friends that I can afford to have them die on me, and it’s happened twice already.

MEMO TO KEITH FROGGETT: At Ross’s memorial party at his and my old apartment, your son ran off with a snow globe of Ross’s that I was gearing up to ask his mom for permission to take home. Who knew Ross better, your kid or me? It was a spur-of-the-moment thing as your boy was galloping out the door. (Wow, another snow globe. That’ll keep me interested for ten full minutes.) If he’s still got it, I want it back. I’ll trade you for the only possession of Ross’s I managed to get: A Mickey Mouse telephone cord. I think I need something more substantial to remember him by than that.


Codpiece, shurely?!

From the current Fab (naturally, not online – just try connecting to their site, as “connect” one must): At

the Northbound Leather fetish fashion show at the Docks... [w]atching from his wheelchair was Jeff Adams [op. cit.], in a most electrifying jockstrap. He was shooting volts with his Science Centre–like ball. Adams, you may recall, recently climbed the CN Tower in his chair, raising over $100,000 for charity.

What the fuck?

Jeff’s going to have some explaining to do at luncheon tomorrow.


My problem with MuchLoud

Now moved to its own page, because this is gonna go on a while.


Book is done!

‘Building Accessible Websites’ cover Building Accessible Websites: It’s here!

Marc and I spent the afternoon flipping unbelievingly through actual printed copies of the book I wrote and he designed.

We are flummoxed by the fact that a year and a half of effort has resulted, as we promised, in “a beautiful object you will love to read.” It is and you will.


Further incitement of Tim Bayliss slash fiction

We hereby continue what appears to be a burgeoning habit of transcribing ancient but telling Homicide snippetettes.

You will of course recall that Adena Watson was a school-age girl who was molested and killed on Tim’s beat. In fact, it was his first case, and remained unsolved yea unto the day he backed out of the office carrying a box full of his belongings five years later.

Take it away, Tim.

TIM: Wait a minute. I don’t think dirty, so I can’t understand the criminal mind. Is that it? Huh? I mean, I don’t want to kill someone, so I can’t get into the killer’s head. Is that it, Frank? I don’t think about molesting some child, so I don’t know how to investigate Adena Watson’s murder? Is that what you’re saying?

FRANK: Sometimes you really are a moron.

– No, I’m not a moron, Frank.

– OK, let me tell you something. We’re all guilty of something – cruelty or greed or going 65 in a 55 mile-per-hour zone. But you know what? You want to think about yourself as the fair-haired choirboy, you go ahead.

– All right. OK. So what are you saying, huh?

– I’m saying you got a darkness. You, Tim Bayliss, you got a darkness inside of you. You got to know the darker, uglier sides of yourself. You got to recognize them so they’re not constantly sneaking up on you. You got to love them, because they’re part of you, because along with your virtues, they make you who you are. Virtue isn’t virtue unless it slams up against vice, so consequently, your virtue is not real virtue until it’s been tested. Tempted.

It will be noted that neither Kyle Secor nor André Braugher has been properly used since Homicide. One wonders if they’ll ever score another decent role.


Climb every tower

True to form, I am weeks late in providing gripping You Are There!–style reportage about an underreported news event. You know, sometimes journalism works best under deadline, so there’s a before (when you write it) and an after (when it’s published).

Thursday, September 26, the CN Tower. Sexy red-haired wheelchair racer boy Jeff Adams climbs the (spirit of) 1,776 stairs of the CN Tower. Step Up to Change, it was called. (We fixed up the Flash-heavy site to be passably accessible. Also see oogleGay.) Jeff is my friend, and I am lucky to have him.

I gave myself an inordinate amount of time to get to the surprisingly remote CN Tower for the 4:00 “VIP” reception. Now, press credentials I’m used to, but this “VIP” business I question. Little did I know that 30 minutes will pass from exiting the Skywalk to arrival at the top of the tower. A third of that time passes in getting lost due to absent wayfinding (where is the entrance to the tower? right under you, but why should they tell you that? your time and frustration are not valuable); another third passes by queueing up to pass through air-jet bomb detectors straight out of the Mars spaceport in Total Recall; and a third third passes while you kick yourself for never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Why? After the machinery proved that I had not, in fact, coated the hairs of my body with explosive, I hustled to the distant, tiny elevators, passing three very handsome, fit young lads in tight sleeveless T-shirts. “Excuse me. Would you take our picture?” I was asked. Twice.

“Sorry. I’m in a rush,” I replied, while at once realizing Fuck! These are out-of-town fags! The only kind that ever likes me. Off I went, as though the guys were Texas sailors.

Self-recrimination tastes best when served cold in a pressurized 52-second elevator ride to the VIP deck.

Outside the reception hall (the curved and cramped perimeter of the Tower) sat Jeff, receiving well-wishers as if he were royalty. I stood unnoticed behind him and his very acceptable wife unit, a wee butch Amerikanski platinum-blond-dyed former 82nd Airborne Marine paratroopeuse/photographeuse and current police. And stood. And stood. I gave up on the element of surprise and started kicking his right wheel.

And kicking. And kicking.

He’s used to this sort of thing. He wiggled the wheel, then, assuming it was Wifey being all wifey, fondled her hand while chatting up some bore of an American in a wheelchair next to him. Finally I was noticed. Greetings were exchanged.

“Big day for you,” I told the Wife. She agreed.

Kibbitzing reached its natural end. “Time to get shitfaced on cranberry juice,” I declared, and waded into the cramped curvature.

At the bar, after espying some grungy, suspiciously thin and undernourished Queen West type who was obviously the most interesting fellow in the room, I returned my attention forward and noticed a poster tube sticking out of a woman’s purse. (VIPs received autographed posters. Even I did.) I read the nametag.

“ ‘Adams.’  You’re related, then?” I asked, knowing the answer by Woman’s Intuition.

“I’m Jeff’s mom,” she replied.

I flashed back to bumping into Miss Meryn Cadell on Queen St. an enormous span of years ago. She introduced her dad. “You must be very proud,” I said. Later, Meryn reported that daddy-o was all curious about me. “He’s very interesting. Who was he?”

So I did it all over again. You must be very proud, I said. Yes. She was. It’s just the latest in a series of biggest days in Jeff’s life, isn’t it? I said. Yes. You never think you’ll get used to all those things happening – Medals, records, Olympics, I interjected. But you’re like “Oh, there’s Jeff again,” she continued, beaming and nodding happily.

I offered congratulations and moseyed off. Jeff thanked me for coming.

We then enjoyed presentations from various ministers – and Senator Joyce Fairbairn, who rocked enormously hard, demanding that we all do more every day for accessibility, which, she reminds us, is not “a nice thing to do” but involves the rights of citizens! Photographs, applause, a very long and (surprisingly) scripted speech from Jeff.

We mingled. There was not a single thing I could eat. The sketchy lad from Queen West turned out to be Jeff’s neighbour. He took pictures with an oldschool 35mm camera, then later dropped his snifter. It’s not as though I was using my drink ticket, so I made his day.

I mentioned the redhead cluster phenomenon in the room to one of the redheads (who had actually read my site!) and left.

I then made the mistake of reading Mark Pilgrim. I had to write something.

My “issue” is procrastination. I am an honest vegan straightedger. What other vices could I have? This one’s big enough.


Addiction is taking a box that my parents gave me engraved with the words GRADUATE WITH HONORS and using it to store pot, pipes, papers, cigarettes, rolling tobacco, and ashtrays.

The problem with self-employment is the lack of structure, which manifests itself in the lack of milestones. Actual milestones could be dug up, as perhaps by comparing file sizes on the project you’ve been nibbling away at for weeks. But if proof of your existence can be measured in bytes, you’ve got a problem.

Graduation is a milestone, one that brings into relief a constant, your parents. I didn’t attend either of my graduations. (B.A. in linguistics, diploma in engineering.)

I do not remember my last birthday party, and I haven’t been near a Christmas tree in five years.

But now a milestone beckons: Publication of the book.

Am I being a downer? I’m trying not to be a downer.

From the associate publisher (dates re-rendered in words for clarity):

Your book is scheduled to be bound about October 8 (give or take a day or two).... We’ll have your book in our warehouse on about October 15 which means it will get to bookstores about 14 days from there (by the time it goes through their warehouses and such).

October 29 due date?

Building Accessible Websites: The Hallowe’en Edition!

Actually, that’s a pretty good milestone, come to think of it. I can dress up as my own cover illustration. I am perhaps not altogether sure about the wig.

But what am I going to do to celebrate? I asked this already:

“How does a nondrinker celebrate finishing the book he’s writing, 141,000 words later?” I asked the 6′5″, salt-’n’-pepper-haired forklift operator at the Eagle last night. “I dunno,” he said irritably in his dead-giveaway gay voice. “Eat a chocolate bar.”

Well, I’m eating bittersweet chocolate as I write this. Does it count?

By the end of the month, I will have the capacity of holding the “beautiful object you will love to read” in my own two hands. (The same holds true for Marc, the designer.) While still an inanimate object, possessing the finished book will embody the Barkerian principle that we are artists because, though conventionally barren, we need to reproduce. One’s baby will have been delivered to the world, Hoovered clean, and finally unloaded from the incubator.

I don’t know what I’m going to do at that point. What is there to do?

I dunno.

Jeff’s got a lifetime of milestones behind him, plus parents, a wife unit, a sister and brother, and a neighbour.

And what have I got?

Jeff, I suppose, which I am hardly discounting.

For an author, I am embarrassingly poorly-read – in fiction, anyway. I just don’t have the attention span. But I found a mysterious message in my snatchbox. I had mailed myself the Amazon page for Charles Nelson’s The Boy Who Picked the Bullets Up (1981), an amusing and essentially unknown epistolary novel about a Louisianan who quits the Detroit Tigers to join the Marines and go to Nam. He’s queer, of course.

(There’s virtually nothing available online about this book or its author. I’ve looked everywhere. And I don’t know what prompted me to look up the book in the first place – a Weblog posting of some sort? It’s mysterious.)

Our man Kurt Strom – a corpsman, hence de facto Doc to his company in country – finds that pretty much everyone he serves with dies. (Probably an accurate representation, actually; Nelson was apparently in Vietnam himself.) Kurt takes custody of one of the dead men’s letters. Barry was a big ol’ country boy who wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Dear Mom, Dad, and Ginger,

Sure wished I had been there for Star’s foaling. I miss that old mare.

Only eight more months to go. Sure will be glad to come home.

So Ginger liked that picture of the Doc. He keeps himself in pretty good shape. I don’t know why he don’t like basketball. He’s about the best friend I ever had.

I was thinking we might put some sheep out there across the arroyo. The grass is there. I know you don’t like sheep, Dad, but I have plans.

The Doc gets out of the Navy next fall and promised to come visit for a couple of weeks. I bet he’ll make Ginger forget old Tommy Ross. I’d like to have the cabin fixed up by the time he comes. I sure will be glad to get home.

– Your loving son and brother

“He’s about the best friend I ever had.” That nearly killed me.

I am horridly sentimental. I would be a maudlin drunk. Walking past a kittycat on the sidewalk turns me to sap.

“What about Barry?”



“His dad wrote. Said they missed me. Told me that Dick Smith did this and Tommy Ross did that. I don’t know who the fuck Dick Smith and Tommy Ross are.”

“Kurt, people are watching us.” Steve laid his hand on mine. Sheila took my other hand.

“Mr. Barry told me that he’d gone ahead and finished the cabin down in the cottonwoods and... and I can live in it when I come home.”

Sheila wiped off my cheeks with a napkin. Steve squeezed my hand. Nobody said anything for a few minutes.

I need me some of that.


VIIIth Quadrennial Congress Adopts Unanimous Resolution Condemning Dangerous Proliferation of Blue-Green Blackletter Typefaces in Submissive-Gay-Skinhead Tattoo Design

Worldskins: Chrisboy


Volt re-marauds

You thought I’d skip it?

Oh, not a chance.

Volt: The maudit anglophone fan page is back and better-organized than ever. Hackable URLs, no less, and brown hair on every lad in sight.


Baleen teeth and tongs

It is only by stepping back Ten Years Ago in Spy that we come to understand why cabal has become the most likely word to follow gay when discussing secret, self-congratulatory, disproportionately-powerful politburos. That is because we tried using gay tong and it didn’t stick.

Plus Tipper Gore lectures us on how to bake cookies. It’s win–win.


Super 8½ Women Gonna Git You Everything You Always Wanted to Know about the Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

Letter to the editor that, embarrassingly, induced fits of laughter in public:

I haven’t seen it yet (I will), but saying that Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is a contender for worst title of the year... come on. This title is a very definite nod to the Asian action film genre. But then, my all-time favourite movie title is A Sudden Gust of Wind: Miniskirt Patrol (a Japanese production), so what do I know?

I want to see titles that are 30 words long, have fractions in them or can be represented only by a Pantone colour swatch....

– Matthew D. Bennett, Toronto


“I hate my interests”

R. Baldwin writes, ostensibly obBarnes&Noble:

Basically, it’s only fun to hang out with other writers as long as you don’t talk about business. And you can bet at Barnes & Noble, there is zero conversation.

Word to your editor. I was always a little let down when people invariably and without exception did not give a shit to hear that I was a writer.

I always thought that’s what everybody wanted to be. I nearly went broke overestimating the public, as it were.


It’s only 28 words a minute, and I type 90

Uncommonly enough, I was busy enough in the last two weeks to be forced to put off writing comments on an accessibility standards manual (what kind of accessibility? take a wild guess) till the weekend before it was due.

I worked 11 hours on it, hurt my arm in the process, and wrote 19,000 words.

You think I can believe it, either? Nineteen thousand words?

I’d say this has consternating implications for my “life’s work” thus far.


If it feels good, baffle your partner

Ancient, heavily symbolic gem from Homicide, the show that was all about Tim. Frank walks in on a very chummy conversation between his partner Tim and an homosexualist source in a gaybashing case (Peter Gallagher, eyebrows and all). Later:

– What did, um... what did he want?

– Nothing special. He just, uh... invited me to dinner.

– What do you mean he invited you to dinner?

– He invited me to dinner.

– Like a dinner-date dinner?

– Uh, he really didn’t specify that, Frank.

– Uh, well, I don’t think that – I don’t think that’s such a good idea.

– Why not?

– Well, I don’t think he’s expecting exactly what it is that you’re expecting.

– How do you know what I’m expecting?

– What are you trying to say?

– Tim, he’s a man. He’s a gay man.

– Can’t put anything by you, Frank.

– OK, let me just get this straight. As of yesterday, you were sleeping with Julianna Cox, right? And now today all of a sudden you’re going on dates with a... you know, with a gay man, is that it?

– I’m not gay, if that’s what you’re asking.

– Then what are you doing?

[Both chuckle uneasily]

– I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know. I’m just... trying to... figure it all out. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, Frank, but I haven’t really been happy for a long time. So I am going to have dinner with Chris Rawls, who I find intelligent and funny, and, uh, we’re gonna drink some wine, we’re gonna laugh, talk, enjoy ourselves, be happy. Is something wrong with that? Huh?


– No.

– I don’t think so either.

2002.09.02 & 21

Acceptable Frenchman of the month
(Now with Times addition and long-awaited photo!)

Liberal conspiracy?

2002.09.21 – A mere couple of weeks after I presciently identify the thoroughgoing acceptability of Mathieu Kassovitz, so does the Grey Lady herself!

  1. Would You Buy After-Shave From This Man?”: “Kassovitz, whose legs do not go up to there and whose face is more about nose than cheekbones, harbored no illusions about becoming a supermodel”
  2. Slideshow

The usual suspects singing from the same chorus, shurely?!

I am a man with a substantial to-do list who is nonetheless bored out of his gourd half the time. I perused the library stacks and found one of the several Projections compilations of interviews with “film-makers [sic] on film-making [sic].” I then ordered all the others.

My eyes glazed over immediately at the prospect of Projections 9, on French cinema. I envisioned turtlenecked film intellectuals completely faking it when claiming to find “classics of French cinema” enjoyable. I mean, they aren’t, and I’ve suffered through lots of them.

Here’s a tough one: Your choices are Jules et Jim at the Cinematheque (whose name alone is a warning sign) or Hard Core Logo at the Fox. Which do you choose?


In any event, I’m overstating the case. Of course French cinema is vibrant and wide-ranging. (La femme Nikita was not, in fact, the death of French cinema but its rebirth.) I just hate having it force-fed, like spinach. Force-fed kulcha is not worth the bowel obstruction.

In one of those Women’s Intuition moments, lo those several months ago I failed entirely to watch La haine (Hate – the title always seems to be cited bilingually) on Showcase. I was distracted, and I was pissy about the subtitles. This-all I would describe as a mistake.

Mathieu Kassovitz, the writer–director, is interviewed in Projections 9. It must be a good translation, because he comes off very credible. He takes his art practically. My kinda guy. (Useless art is fine; I like “Voice of Fire.” Art that cannot be explicated by the artist is fine; I like Madonna. But useful explicable art is... better.)

Shall we do a tarantinesque flashback? I had actually long since returned Projections 9 to the library when Kassovitz’s importance became clear. First was the Times article on Verlan, the French dialect:

[W]hat they are hearing is a popular slang called Verlan in which standard French spellings or syllables are reversed or recombined, or both.

Thus the standard greeting “Bonjour, ça va?” or “Good day, how are you?” becomes “Jourbon, ça av?” “Une fête” (a party) has become “une teuf”; the word for woman or wife, femme, has become meuf; a café has become féca; and so on. The word Verlan itself is a Verlanization of the term l’envers, meaning “the reverse.” [...]

“[F]or the young urban professional, Verlan is a form of political correctness expressing solidarity with and awareness of the immigrant community at a time of anti-immigrant politics.” [...]

Verlan caught on among the second generation of immigrants who were living between cultures. “They were born in France and often did not speak Arabic,” Ms. Lefkowitz said, “but they did not feel integrated into France.”

Ms. Doran explained, “Verlan was a way of their establishing their language and their own distinct identity.” The term beur, which is a Verlanization of the French word Arabe, refers specifically to the second- and third-generation North Africans. Until recently, there was even a radio station of French North Africans called Radio Beur. [...]

Verlan, in the views of Mr. Rey and others, is also a playful way for the French to forge a language for dealing with ethnic, racial and religious differences. The Verlanized words for Arab, black or Jew “allow you to mark racial and culture differences without insulting people,” Ms. Lefkowitz said. [...]

A series of books and films about life in the banlieus followed, bringing Verlan to the attention of a wider public. The 1995 movie La haine (Hate), about the lives of three housing-project friends [an Arab, a black, and a Jew – Ed.], with much of its dialogue in Verlan, was a revelation to many French, though some found parts of it incomprehensible. [...]

Many terms have also been “reverlanized.” Beur, Ms. Habane said, now that it has been widely adopted by the French, is sometimes seen as pejorative, with many North African speakers using the term reub, which is beur itself turned inside out.

Anything that gives the finger to French purists has to be on the right track. (Volt, learn this well.)

All right. Then I remembered one of the photos in the Projections 9 compilation, with no photo credit (!) and no online version: Kassovitz, looking very young but tremendously in control, in white T-shirt with obviously heavy gear strapped over his shoulder. On his head sits a helmet with striped nylon netting reading PARAMOUNT. Clipped to the front is a pager (climbing the helmet edge, strange, militaristic), and above the left ear is a camera the size of a Twinkie. Flat earphones and some kind of mask, like the anti-particulate masks misguides cyclists use, lie detached, since we’re obviously looking at him between takes.

Mathieu “Kassowitz”: Director-writer-actor-cyborg!
Mathieu Kassovitz: Director-writer-actor-cyborg

The director as RoboCop! Mathieu Kassovitz, cyborg!

What is not to like?

From the interview with Thomas Bourguignon and Yann Tobin (no relation):

Q.   When writing, is it character or action which is paramount?

A.   [...] With my first feature film, the title came first [Métisse], and then an atmosphere. The atmosphere is what I am interested in describing, even before I know the story. This is the “message.” Atmosphere and title are what come first. With Métisse and La haine, I knew the ending before I knew the storyline. Everything is about the end, the last five seconds.

Everything has to seem real and yet be graphically interesting. Vinz is a little shit. Vincent [Kassel] didn’t want his head shaved. He said “I’ll look awful!” I said “So what?” I think he’s learnt a lot since making the movie. He’s less interested in his appearance, more interested in what is going on inside. But getting him to shave his head was a battle; he knows his ears stick out. He kept trying to find poetic streaks in his character. I told him to forget it, and that if he believed in himself, the character would work. Kids are like that. There’s nothing explicitly poetic about an estate. No one says “I want to see the sea. I want to hear the seagulls flying overhead.” They have no possessions and what they say is “I want some cash. I want to get a BMW.” It’s quite poetic enough. There’s nothing else to say.

Q.   What about your relationship with your crew?

A.   Brilliant. A powerful shoot.... You have to know how to handle an estate; it only takes someone on the crew to hit a child [!] because he’s sick of being insulted and that’s the end of the shoot. We all knew that. We were very tense, but it was a good tension. We knew we were making a film which as “different.” [...]

Q.   There is one extraordinary shot when the boy describes the TV program. Was the dialogue written?

A.   That’s my favourite shot. It was entirely written and rehearsed, but the boy brought it to life. He was incredible. There he is on the estate with three stars and a two-page soliloquy to be done in a single take and the director shouting “Off you go!” Not to mention the fact that I’d told Saïd [Taghmaoui] to chuck stones at him. And I’d told the kid, “When he appears, don’t stop. Use whatever happens.” He was superb. The second take is the one we used, which gives one faith in the notion that if everything is as it should be, you just step up the camera and roll.

Q.   You’ve certainly got the jargon right.

A.   Among my friends, we all talk like that!

Now, why else is Mathieu Kassovitz interesting? (Set aside for the moment that Projections 9, for which there is no clear Web site or else I would have linked to it, consistently misspells his name as Kassowitz. I guess the French are like the Japanese: A foreigner’s a foreigner even if he’s born there, so who cares about details?)

Well, he’s an actor. Yes, that was him being all lovable and sympathique in Amélie, the only foreign subtitled film to be permitted to make money in the U.S. in ’01. (Yes, only one per year is so permitted, and it is very much orchestrated, in part to maintain the fiction that Americans will not put up with subtitles.) As a lethal actor–director combo, Mathieu Kassovitz is the Don McKellar it’s OK to like.

And the kicker? Kassovitz finally has a Web site. And it’s finally working: I had to report (over and over again, to different parties, scraping up their addresses from Google caches) that the entire site was misconfigured and wouldn’t serve anything but error messages. But there it is.

Maybe that wasn’t the kicker. Maybe this is: The actor–director with the Polish Jewish name and something of a big nose is in fact the spokesmodel for the Lancôme men’s campaign.

Now, I mean, just try to imagine Don McKellar pushing Roots cologne.

I think not.

Beating up on the British

In a previous century, Joe Queenan bared his teeth and pegged the British as a “pasty-faced, mean-spirited, stingy, badly-dresed, anal-retentive, unfriendly, unadventurous, unimaginative people.”

Why, exactly?

Find out as you travel back Ten Years Ago in Spy.



I’ve seen results listings like these on Google twice now:

Linkname: Residence Life - Virtual Reality Project

URL: http://www.google.com/url?

(I’ve added linebreaks for readability in browsers. No other option given poor support of actual HTML invisible characters.)

The listing above is from the Lynx information screen you can get from any window. Of interest are the interposed characters http://www.google.com/url?sa=U&start=3&q=. The cursor was sitting on the link whose URL should simply have been http://www.life.arizona.edu/vr/

On this and the other occasion, neither of which I was able to reproduce (not even by re-feeding the same search queries in a new session), Google seems to be tracking random search requests.

Yes? No?

Punk critic to vegans: Keep it to yourselves!

Some review of some kind of veganist punk album:

[L]yrics talk about how spokesmen just spread lies and propaganda. Hearing this song next makes me think that being a spokesgroup for veganism, yet decrying spokesmen, is hypocritical. Furthermore, the cover booklet has a whole page devoted to a vegan testimony from lead vocalist and guitarist John Feldmann. In this testimony, John spits out facts about how becoming Vegan will save 83 sentient thinking animals’ lives. Let him have his own thoughts – but don’t force it on me, too.

However, despite being laden with subliminal messages, Goldfinger’s amazing guitar riffs and chords are still a pleasure to listen to in this CD.... Open Your Eyes also has a pretty cool CD enhancement for the computer. Included in the enhancements are some funny home videos, a music video for spokesmen and a graphic video on the evils of meat that was too vulgar for me to watch.

If we all kept our ideas to ourselves, who would be left over to deride veganist punk-rock albums online?



Good ish of Punk Planet currently (Nº 50, July/August ’02), all about the magazine’s hometown, Chicago. “Think local, write local, publish global”: Internet precepts backform onto print.

En tout cas, one reads of the absolute bestest idea in television in the last ten years: Chic-à-Go-Go, a kids’ dance show on community cable hosted by some punk chick(-à-go-go) and a straightedge ska puppet – complete with suspenders – named Ratso. (The perfect boyfriend, shurely?!)

(L to R)   Chic-à-Go-Go punkd00d rat puppet with suspiciously high voice Ratso
(Q. Is Ratso a girl or a boy? A. Ratso is a boy who talks funny);
adorably kooky-hideous type card
Ratso & type card

Local bands, and bands breezing through Chicago, show up and lip-sync, and when that’s not happening they spin records. Dick Clark, your time is up.

It all happens in a dumpy studio that looks like a dumpy studio. You think kids notice? I wouldn’t have. You got your kids and your freaks all dancing up a storm. It’s one of those object lessons in don’t-judge-a-book-by-its cover. Co-creator Jake Austin (good strong name there) tells Jessica Hopper:

I had been working on a piece for Roctober about a children’s show from the ’60s called Kiddie-à-Go-Go.... We went out to lunch with the couple that did the show and they were talking about how fun it was. They did the show live, so if things didn’t happen, if jokes fell flat, it was OK. We were really into that idea. [...]

When picking the music, we don’t do anything explicit and sexual. I think any other type of music is safe for kids – political, whatever. There’s other dance shows on access where they play a lot of contemporary R&B and pop that I wouldn’t play on our show – it’s too risqué for Chic-à-Go-Go. [Funny, B. Spears coos “I’m not that innocent” in one episode. – Ed.] There is no genre of music that kids won’t dance to. [...]

Plus we are creating a body of work; we can look back on six years of episodes. Documenting some of these older acts – if they ever did TV it was so long ago that there’s no document of it – it’s important to document that for them. For the small local bands we work with, this might be the best documentation that existed because we do a five-camera shoot [!]. A lot of the popular bands that are on the show like to be interviewed by a puppet and like to have kids around them because it’s so surreal. [...]

[Ratso is] about 14. His brother, little Ratso, is seven. Ratina is 17 – she’s finding herself.... Roby, who does Ratina, says she’s trying to figure out if Ratina is a lesbian or not. She’s not sure, and that’s kind of like her motivation.

What is not to like?

The good thing is... Chic-à-Go-Go has a Web site! And videos! (I totally want a DVD. With captions and descriptions, natch. The clearances would be a nightmare.) You can watch online!

I like so totally want to be on that show.


Actors: Less interesting than athuhletes

Soon the persona of Ian Roberts may cease to be interesting. He’s an homosexualist political dream come true: A professional athuhlete who actually came out. In rugby league. In Australia. Before Will & Grace ever reached the air and raised even Australia’s consciousness once and for all.

But Ian Roberts is an homosexualist dream come true, period, because he was an impossible physical specimen, lean as a diver at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. Copious soft-core nudie spreads in two issues of (Not Only) Blue (which I in fact own; next time you’re over, I can dig them out) lovingly depict a supremely muscular homosexualist rugger player with X-ray definition. (He still looks great.) One’s quibble is of course with the rather wide-set eyes, which don’t always come off all that well in photographs, providing the disappointing assurance that this mountain of a man is gorgeous but unbeautiful. One out of two ain’t, however, bad.

But what new facts do we know about the closet from the case of Ian Roberts? If you’re the only outpouf in a professional contact sport anywhere in the world (as was actually true for eight years from 1991; the number has re-zeroed, as the older generations dearly hoped it would), then you have no chance whatsoever of a boyfriend in the same business. Beautiful people may marry each other, but if you’re the only out queer on the pitch, you are not going to get a date.

Contrary to expectations, Ian Roberts didn’t simply elbow Alex Dimitriades out of the way in the queue at some Sydney nightspot in order to pick out whatever depilated homunculus looked the least wasted amid a dancefloor teeming with Aryan androids. (Those girls leap onto a chair at the first sight of a mouse and have less athletic skill than Sudbury puck bunnies, who probably give better blowjobs.) His bf unit for a number of years was an averagely-cute, averagely-built fellow with the superb name of Shane. How frigging lucky is that? Well, Shane’s last name is Goodwin.

(Having it all does not guarantee happiness. People will settle for some things and never settle for others. A 99th-percentile stack of meat can still be a man you fell out of love with. It actually is true that a man is more than his body, which could explain why, though Shane was initially quite enough for Ian, Ian was not eventually enough for Shane. The two of them later broke up. Ian’s dad never fancied him anyway: “We met his first partner; I didn’t like him at all... he was too effeminate. Ian was never like that himself; he was never bent-wristed.” But “bent-wristed” queens are apparently Ian’s type: “He’s met some of my friends, who are the most effeminate gays on Oxford Street. I think that me being gay has opened his world up.” Apparently Ian’s current consort is named Andrew.)

Bruce LaBruce counsels young homosexualists that the closet remains an option. Otherwise, are you really prepared for a life in the theatre? Ian Roberts seems to be proving this precept: The mountain of a man now wishes to become an actor. He was accepted into Oz’s most superexclusive acting school, no less.

A gay homosexualist actor. Coin of the realm, you might say. So much so that Roberts’ biggest fan site will no longer be updated: “It’s been interesting keeping up a Web site about a gay footballer. That’s kind of a unique thing. I don’t really think the world needs me to keep a website about a gay actor.”

We saw nearly every square millimeter of you and you told us all about yourself, but, Ian Roberts, we hardly knew ye.

Wee addition: Did you know that Ian Roberts played a bartender in Attack of the Clones? Is it still a “bit” part if the man playing it is as tall as the sky, is built like a brick shithouse, and has the wingspan of a condor?


Do straight people even use Macs?

Back in the day, and well before I brought organized biketrials to the grand City of Toronto under the ægis of the Rock & a Hard Place Biketrials Club, I founded the second homosexualist Macintosh user group, GLAMOUR (Gay & Lesbian Apple Macintosh Owner/User Resource – had to get the U in there somehow).

The progenitor of the species was apparently GMUG, which, like GLAMOUR, was founded and then foundered. QMUG is still going strong, and answers the question “Uh, why?” the best possible way (“The shortest answer is because we wanted one, we wanted to have one, we wanted to be one — we exist because we want to”) before going off the rails in strained self-justification.

A great many years ago – circa 1991 – I wrote a piece for the Advocate explaining the astonishing fabulousness of the high-tech industry for homosexualists. It’s something of a cliché, but it is nonetheless based in truth. In the article, I profiled a black negro homosexualist of colour who wrangled PR for what is now an also-ran and long-since-acquired software company. We kept in touch for three years, when I spent two days at his house, not failing to note that, however much like gangbusters we got along on telephone and via snatch, the fucker hated me on sight. (His white Caucasian of pallor union-agitator bf unit, who might have leavened the tense ambience a tad, was away agitating for a union at the time.)

When, after the full-on tour of WGBH that was the purpose of the visit, I announced I was booking the hell out of town a half-day early, my hostess became suddenly and suspiciously congenial, ladling out the “Ohh, no – really?” lines like canned telemarketing thank-yous.

My hostess is now the vice-president of worldwide marketing at the software juggernaut that swallowed his former firm anaconda-style, and enjoyed brief notoriety as a blues<slash>jazz singer at techie-queen gatherings (young homosexualist photographers and their faghag girlfriends, shurely?!).

But here is my question:

Why isn’t it more widely known that the original manager of the Macintosh Business Unit, Ben Waldman, was and is the first outpouf vice-president at Microsoft?

Do straight people even use Macs?

404 message without pity

A user profile tells us “Sorry, but this member has decided to not make his profile public. You may now close this window.” Do you think this is quite the right copy to use for a public profile on a message board?

  1. Why is there any kind of link to this person’s profile if it isn’t public?
  2. Does “private” have a meaning here? How can someone actually see the profile? (I can think of ways, but none is given here.)
  3. How do they know it’s a he?
  4. Did I ask for instructions on closing windows?


Mensch du jour: Bob Lefsetz

Old farts from the music industry have something to say for themselves. Or one of them does, at least.

Bob Lefsetz used to do something or other in the music business. Managed some kind of group. Or did Business Affairs or Legal or something. Iron Maiden, perhaps.

It’s all listed in his very-well-hidden blog of sorts, the Lefsetz Letter, at a site with a misconfigured server and no default page, so I have to send you to the latest instalment and expect you to hack your way through the archives. The site is so obscure even Google doesn’t know about it. (AlltheWeb neither.)

That’s because he’s writing for music-industry nabobs, who are comically computer-illiterate, as he himself documents. Nabobs don’t run their own sites, hence Bob gets not a single link. Unlinked pages essentially fail to exist in the Google worldview. Unlinked pages, in the Google worldview, amount dying alone and having your superintendent find your decomposed corpse after your white-trash neighbours finally decide to do something about the smell.

Too much Six Feet Under lately. Let’s get back on track.

Bob also wrote for VH1. No default page there, either (what is up with this?), so you have to hack through the subject lines yourself. It’s a much more compromised column. He writes too long, and it’s broken up into pages, early-Slate- or current-Salon- or Wing Chun & Glark–style.

The Lefsetz Letter is what you get when you let an old fart with opinions loose on the net. He won’t shut up about faded rock acts, which he sometimes finds disillusioning, as they in fact often are. He rails impotently at music-industry nabobs of his own generation who are fucking everything up in sight; Bob wields a mighty Thor’s hammer of j’accuse.

And if he seems too Establishment for you, if you need your faves to hew to some kind of outsider status, keep this in mind: By his own admission, Bob’s a Jew who likes to ski. A Jew on skis. He’s his own affinity group.

We need more genuine voices like his. Whatever the voice may be, or whatever it may say, as long as it’s something. It’s just got to be real. What does Julianne Moore look for in a picture? Content.


So on with the show.

Can’t read the iframe?

I write standards-compliant sites, but manufacturers do not write standards-compliant browsers. IE 5.x on Windows mishandles the display of iframes. They’re supposed to give access to the alternate content in such cases (admittedly a grey area in the spec), but if you’re stuck with a browser that cannot read the iframe, why not read the source file directly?

Rat City!

Ten Years Ago in Spy takes us back slightly farther than ten years – to May 1988, an issue filled with hot-pink, minty-fresh out-of-register type and wrapped in a sexy-seductive photo of Carol Alt holding a rat by the tail.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll add a mention of the article about eating zebra testes. Now you know why I like my rice and beans.


Well, yes, it probably would be “great” to meet such people, finally.

My first press release

Let’s see if she gets me anywhere: Austin Powers with Canadian-funding captions and descriptions.

Yes, I probably had something to do with it.


Typographic atrocities revealed

Two consecutive issues of Print, two articles by me. The latest? “Reading the tube”: Typographic atrocities remain in full force in captioning and subtitling.


The Queen Is Dead
(with correction)

I have, after some inconvenience, managed to locate and read the book The Queen Is Dead by Mark Simpson (“the Andrew Sullivan it’s OK to like”) and Steven Zeeland.

Now, I’ve read the three Zeeland books (Barrack Buddies and Soldier Lovers; Sailors and Sexual Identity; The Masculine Marine), the last of which is is kept in a special high-security back room at Robarts. Zeeland interviews sailors and Marines about their (initially surprising) fondness for homosexualism. It is hardly a cold and dispassionate analysis, since Zeeland is an avowed blousechaser. (He worked at a base in Germany. He has lived with two servicemen. His site screams A LOVER OF SOLDIERS. Zeeland is to soldiers as I am to redheads.)

The books affect an air of academic respectability, but people read them for their value as straight-up soft-core porn. (I read the first book with some modest self-delusion that there was objective cause to do so, having spent a number of years writing about homosexualism in sport without really popping a bone even once. I was usually working in that “He’s nice but not my type mode” that heterosexualists seem not to have at all – yes, the subjects of this exercise are perfectly attractive, but they’re not doing much for me.) Zeeland fancies the great works of cinema and tries to force-feed culture down the throats of rough sweaty guys with skimpy educations; he’s a typical hidebound, out-of-date intellectual fag in so very many respects.

What a surprise that he is unable to domesticate his soldier boyfriends. You cannot lesbianise a closeted soldier. They think with their bodies and cannot really process and articulate conflicted emotions like gay love. And that’s why they always blow up.

It’s a lost cause, as Zeeland eventually admits far along in The Queen Is Dead, a collection of letters, apparently only lightly edited, between rough-and-tumble British intellectual journalist Mark Simpson and Zeeland. I am certainly a major fan of Simpson – I’m an out-and-out simpsonist. I’ve read most of his books and a great many of his articles. (Will I eventually schlep over to the single remote library in the city that carries Saint Morrissey, concerning “the greatest living refuser of the degradation of everyday life”?)

The snappy, street-smart Bruce LaBruce/Glennda Orgasm chapter in Anti-Gay is priceless, and almost makes up for the typically inept, drained, affectless, meandering, overlong, dull-edged, bereft-of-interest writing by girls that inevitably must be included even in anthologies challenging received gay culture.

(Why, after these long years of continuous caterwauling, browbeating, and pussywhipping that should have created more than enough “safe space” in which to flourish, is Jeanette Winterson the only interesting lesbian writer at all?)

Mark Simpson seems like a fascinating character, very modern, tall, burly, horrifically intelligent, attuned to popular culture, deft, witty, and all-seeing. His letters to Zeeland stand proudly in the British tradition of smart humour and are prime examples of the rather newer tradition of gay iconoclasm that (indeed) Andrew Sullivan is giving a bad name. Whereas Zeeland is simply saddled with less talent. Both writers never seem to have enough money to live alone, but it’s at least understandable in stratospherically overpriced London; if Zeeland spent less time in military men’s rooms (by his own admission, hours and hours at a stretch over and over again) he might not have had to repeatedly mention “giving notice” to various obviously mismatched roommates in his letters to Simpson. And the fact that he actually knew Andrew Cunanan should have paid off better for him.

(This isn’t crass. This is peer advice on making a living as a writer. As in: ROXIE: I’m sorry, but I have a substantial check here for Abraham Simpson. ABE SIMPSON: That’s right. I did the Iggy.)

The deficiency of The Queen Is Dead is its absolute lack of context. The book carries no introduction whatsoever, and it was published only in 2001 even though the dates of the letters included range from 1995 to 1998. Didn’t they have quite enough time to explain to us what the hell they were doing? The dust jacket vamps a little and describes the correspondence as “a transatlantic literary romance,” which does not seem to be actually present.

Simpson is too busy dealing with his own undomesticable Glaswegian soldier (his anecdotes are much more poignant), while Zeeland spends his time having us believe that his Marine bf unit would actually utter the following unprompted: “There are times when I like to play the bottom, and there is a naturalness to it that I attribute to being in the Marine Corps.... Even outside of basic training, the Marine Corps still debases you. As a Marine, you always strive to please your higher-ups. There is a craving to serve, to win approval, or even love.”


Steven Zeeland writes in with a correction here (posted 2002.08.26):

The quote from Alex is in truth very close to verbatim. And I really did immediately transcribe it on picnic napkins. You see, this was the first day we met; like a kitten at the humane society, Alex knew he had but a fleeting moment in which to secure my attention. (Obviously, his remarks were not altogether “unprompted”; I had after all been introduced to him as a published author studying homoeroticism in the military.)

Now. What are some bons mots from the book? (I continue to blaze a trail and blog printed matter.)

SIMPSON (p. 270): “Why can’t we just stop hating ourselves so much?” weeps Michael at the end of Boys in the Band.... Of course, today such a play would have to end with “Why can’t we just stop loving ourselves so much?”

SIMPSON (p. 77): A literally fatal identification with the enemy had begun to form in my mind on a wind- and rain-swept Northumberland hillside during a lesson on how to search dead bodies given by the irrepressible corporal, with me on my back in the role of the corpse:

“The grenadier will have emptied a magazine into the fooker and bayoneted him a few times for good measure,” he boomed above the wind, as the rain pelted on my upturned face, filling my eye sockets with water. “He’s killed some of yoos mates and made yoos run up that fookin hill, so there won’t be much left of him.”

Then, without so much as a please or thank you, he grabbed my balls. Hard. I yelped and sat up, not knowing whether to laugh or punch his lights out.

“Now,” announced Corporal McDevitt to my assembled comrades who were pissing themselves laughing, “it dinnae matter how big he is – he’s only gonna keep quiet when yoos doo that if he’s deed, a yoonuch or a pouf – in which case he’ll quite like it!” More laughter.

“Yoos dinnae think I’d do that, did yoos, Big Man?” the little bastard said, turning to me, grinning. “Gave yoos quite a surprise, dinnae?”

“That you did, Corp.” That you did.

And now for Zeeland’s contribution to the rock canon. Rob Halford, come on down!

ZEELAND (p. 227): Maybe I should limit my book to interviews with rock stars who love military men. In September, I flew back down to San Diego to interview a famous British heavy-metal singer of the ’70s and ’80s who has a thing for Marines.

Arriving in the hotel lobby, I came face to face with a huge, gorgeous, red-headed Marine and a tiny, gorgeous, blond twink. At the front desk a man stood with his back to me registering for a room in a British accent. This, I decided, must be Rob “Wormcan.” Turning around, he recognized me at once.

Up in his room, the boys stripped off most of their clothes and rolled around on the two beds, then rolled around with each other on the same bed. Wormcan inspected the furnishings and lectured his young companions. Rolling his eyes, he turned to me: “Everyone has ailments.” The small one was on pills for stomach trouble – and he had better not drink.

Blond Boy flashed his eyes at me: “Where’s the bar?”

And Tom was suffering from sleep deprivation.

“I only got two hours last night,” the ex-Marine confessed with a sheepish grin.

And your point would be?Wormcan demanded. “I get my sleep in before I come to San Diego. Two hours a night is all I need.” [...]

Interestingly, Tom expressed skepticism about the anecdote in Sailors and Sexual Identity about the four Marines getting fucked by a sailor in a hotel room with a sugar daddy watching. I had to wonder whether a similar scene might not play out in this very room later that same night. When Wormcan mentioned that a young Marine he had met online would be stopping by, Blond Boy and Tom speculated whether the boy would want to play with them too, or only Wormcan. [...]

The friend who’s introduced us cautioned that all Wormcan liked to talk about was sex, in the crudest, lewdest manner. My challenge, he said, would be to get the old rocker to be more reflective. [...]

When I asked Wormcan why he liked Marines, he said: “See, for me it’s not all sex. It never has been and it never will be. It’s a lot of other things, like tradition, um, the mindset of being involved in an organization that requires some discipline, some intelligent comprehension of what it means to be a particular kind of a person, to do a specific kind of a job. It’s all about what military service is capable of doing in terms of maintaining democracy and a free world.”

When I repeated this to Leo Bersani he said “That never got anybody hard!” [...]

No shit, Sherlock. For cripes sakes.

As I rode off with the friend who introduced me to Wormcan, I watched the 47-year-old “metal god,” head shaved with lightning bolt tattoed on his scalp, marching up the street... with three beautiful young men following after him like baby ducks.

“I get more maternal every year,” he’d said in the hotel room. [...]

[A disputed second-hand story held that Wormcan] was on the road with his band in Texas and he blew some guy in a rest area without ever seeing his face. Afterwards, he hung around outside until the guy emerged from the stall. He saw a Marine wearing a T-shirt emblazoned JUDAS PRIEST. The Marine saw a rock star he’d travelled across Texas to see perform the night before.

And these days, all we have to show for this proud tradition of homosexualist rock excess is George Michael.


Next on the horizon:

Back in the day, I thought there was no such thing as soft-core invert porn. I was then pointed to the videos played at Woody’s of the “Phew! It’s too hot to play volleyball with my shirt on!” genre.

Ohh. Riiight.

And there’s just so very much soft-core invert porn on the Web. (Indeed, why else do inverts go online?) The dating sites are a bore: Manline is a resource hog; homebrew sites like Out in Toronto attract a lower order of life; M4M4Sex merely betrays the difficulty of securing a viable domain name.

The antidote? WorldSkins.

Yes, someone has figured out that the Internet is a medium of niches. How about gay skinheads “and their admirers”? Why not? (And gay punks – a crucial distinction, obviously.)

Now, the problem with skinheads is that you can never quite be sure. For every Drubskin elsewhere on the Web, on WorldSkins there’s...

I assure you, though, as in real life, it ain’t all bad. (Oh, and have you noticed you need an account to view all these links? Them’s the breaks. And minutes after you sign on, you will receive sarcastic, off-putting mail from the man with the apropos userID: antisocial.)

By the way, we’re entering the third month of UltraSparky’s diary of a breakdown. The site now exists in a category well beyond the irregular elliptical orbit of, say, A CRY FOR HELP. The advert on WorldSkins by “spark” (compare the tattoos) and of course his own Unfiltered site will, one hopes, finally get him what he wants or thinks he does. It’s gonna either start up something or put a stop to something. At this point, I don’t really care which.

“Keep your Web site clean!”

Moreover, I have now located what absolutely has to be the only gay skinhead personal Web site claimed to validate to HTML 4.01, CSS, and – get this – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Level A.

Here’s to you, SkinMarvin!

(See Marvin’s only decent photograph.)



I just love Tim Blake Nelson! I even love the cadence of his names.

Yes, it really does take a classics major to play someone that stupid. Ain’t you seen the print ads for O Brother, whose display type is in fact set in Brothers? The IQ just beams out of him.

And Spielbergo puts him in a wheelchair in Minority Report!

Premiere, November 2001, p. 30. “Timmy” reviews Ethan Coen’s book of poetry!

The man can do anything!

...the beefy but fragile Minnesotan intimated what few dare to utter: “I want to be a great poet.”

That road, of course, has not been easy, and though Coen’s own tastes for verse tend toward the confessional – he was quoted in Granta last year as considering himself “closest to Plath” – his predilections in public behaviour have gravitated more toward Bukowski. There was the arrest last year at Buckingham Palace with collaborator Roderick Jaynes for beating up a parking attendant; and, at home, the overpublicized swaths cut through New York’s club scene with Rangers forward Mark Messier....

[A]n airport cleaning lady did overhear Poet Laureate Billy Collins describe the verse as “surprisingly delicate, cleansing in its own particular way.” Though it was subsequently determined the poet might have been referring to the facility’s hand soap, Collins was clearly sending Coen a message: Brother Muse, you are welcome among us. [...]

But make no mistake: These are hard-edged works, with line breaks as brutal and quintessentially American as Whitman or Creeley. Readers will weep, they will howl, they will cry out for social change.

Has poetry changed Coen? Easily recognized on film sets for his beret and riding crop, Ethan has reinventied [sic] himself sartorially, “lolling about the house in turtleneck and tweed,” as wife Trisha Cooke unsentimentally puts it.

Can I put a bid on that turtleneck on eBay?

My Timmy!

Unexpectedly profound and voyeuristic Klez-generated snatchmail subject line of the day: “State. He died in 1929.


Unexpectedly evocative hostname of the week: enjoyment.independent.co.uk.


Ten Years Ago in Letdown

I know the later Spy issues were denatured shadows of their former selves, but June 1990?

Believe it.


The Rock Snob’s Dictionary

I am proud to pioneer, via Ten Years Ago in Spy, the blogging of print magazines. (I have another idea along those lines, which I have mightily procrastinated.) It will be pointed out that television series and, for example, Star Wars are also actively blogged. The fact of it is simply not recognized. Just to make it all crystal-clear: If one canonical form of blogging uses links and commentary, what you’re commenting on can exist outside the Web. And a hyperlink is merely a citation.

Here, then, commences daily blogging of “The Rock Snob’s Dictionary” (Vanity Fair, November 2000) and “The Rock Snob’s Dictionary, Volume 2” (one year later), both by Steven Daly, David Kamp, and Bob Mack. (Also reprinted in Da Capo Best Music Writing 2001, guest-edited by Nick Hornby and bearing a title that misleads one into thinking Mafia dons are connoisseurs of rockcrit.)

Can’t read the iframe?

I write standards-compliant sites, but manufacturers do not write standards-compliant browsers. IE 5.x on Windows mishandles the display of iframes. They’re supposed to give access to the alternate content in such cases (admittedly a grey area in the spec), but if you’re stuck with a browser that cannot read the iframe, why not read the source file directly?



Well, I see Bob Mould is about as far out of the closet as Little Richard. Finally. Blurb for Mark Simpson’s upcoming Sex Terror:


BRILLIANT... This book is certain to provoke and likely to offend; we would expect nothing less from one of the most important voyeurs of contemporary man-sex-life. Exhaustive and exhilarating... a must-read for those who long, for those who belong, and for those who like it wrong”
Bob Mould, Musician, Songwriter (Hüsker Dü, Sugar)

It must be pointed out that the review-blurb discursive structure of <exclamatory two-syllable summation><ellipsis><turgid overintellectualized undercutting of enthusiasim of exclamatory two-syllable summation, as if intellectuals can only experience twee, rarefied, strangulated pleasure, which is in fact true> refuses to die.

Prototypical example?

A romp... Y tu mamá también reinvigorates the road movie with sly, subversive charms... Finally the truth about adolescent desire and longing, with a strong female role model who gives Lt. Ripley a run for her money!”

These are of course the same hateful film intellectuals (invariably outfitted in dramatic rectilinear eyeglasses) who never laugh at anything that’s actually funny, restricting their laughter to things that are structurally funny or that meet the legal definition of funny, like Shakespeare’s “comedies,” or anything with Third World or Central European characters. After all, hateful film intellectuals can identify with the cinema of Iran (they can bridge the gulf of common humanity), unlike mere movie fans, who think Hollywood “comedies” are “funny.”

Best way to shut these hateful film intellectuals up for summer ’02? Remind them that the typical redneck’s pronunciation of Y tu mamá también is “Y2MAMA,” like “Y2K.”

Fucking intellectuals.

“Grimy rich magenta”

Japlish-style repercussions of creative proposal for CSS3 colour names:

An attractive colour scheme could then be:

{ border: thin dotted light dull shimmering cyan-blue;
background: light vivid yellow-green;
color: grimy rich magenta; }

“Usability is gay”

The Jon-Jon Diaries:

“We don’t need all this touchy-feely usability crap – we got people can’t even read usin’ them green-screens, and they get along just fine,” he said, massaging the veins back into his temples. “You ask me, it’s a training issue.”

I replied that the dental equipment used in the 1800s was perfectly effective – as long as the patient had a high pain threshold or could be knocked unconscious for the duration of the procedure.

Essentially, he was telling me that my work was a mealy-mouthed, coddling, unnecessary exercise in heuristic futility. I was the 800×600 version of a powder compact. I was mere window-dressing. I was – and despite being unspoken, this was the loudest message of all – gay.

Montreal Underground Scene Heroes

Including Ian Stephens.



LEATHER-QUEEN HEARTS SHATTER AS PUNK-ROCK PAK LEAVES TORONTO: So what do you do when you hate disruptions, then hate when they end?

I just had Bilal in for a week. This would of course be the Montrealer who has such near-native fluency in English – he blanks only on the occasional idiom, thanks to American schools in places like Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi; reads important literature; and sounds like a million bucks – that you would never know his passport bears one and only one designation: PAKISTAN. He’s been on the Bad Religion Mailing List forever. It shouldn’t add up; welcome to multiculturalism.

Instead of my up-and-at-’em attitude, where “ ’em” are usually nothing more than my morning Weblog circuit and a run for espresso, I had an up-and-don’t-type-too-loudly attitude lest I rouse him in the drawing room. (Fat chance. Intentionally waking him up takes ten coaxing minutes. He sleeps through Maritime-style screen-door slamming!)

Our tasks were simple. First of all, get him to the Elvis Costello show. Then luncheons. Dinners. (We rolled boxcars: Best-looking Indian playa waita ever, outfitted in Leafs shirt, baggy jeans, Everlast version 2.0 facial hair, and shoephone, was seen at the only Indian resto serving Lahore-style minced meat, just like Mom makes.) Coördinating with his other Toronto pals, where it turns out that being wedded to snatchmail works just fine nearly all the time unless and until you and your houseguest do not both have Blackberrys on the road. (Apparently a busy hostess needs a shoephone after all.) Racing to films.

Doing the Eagle.

The heterosexualist Pakistani punk rocker, resplendent in Nº 0 buzzcut and Rollins T-shirt, demands to attend leather bars. He’s a repeat offender: Bilal and his heterosexualist roommate wouldn’t let me off the hook on a previous visit – begging, like terminal cancer victims for euthanasia, to be dragged to the den of iniquity, which, to their disappointment, turns out to look a lot like a bar full of fags. But the gay porn fascinates him, and not quite in a sexualist way – more like an unseen universe revealing itself. In situ, Bilal claims not to know what an uncut penis looks like and seems to be waiting for one to pop right up on the television monitor. (Not paying attention, my friend: Remember the adorable Dagenham Dave on PrideVision? Man’s got it all.) Hoping dearly for foreskin, picture Bilal’s surprise at witnessing video documentation of alternative uses for Crisco.

We certainly did luck out, though, first attending the Eagle on its alleged official reopening after modernization. Now, what kind of reopening is it when you can use your nose to count the available redhead? For heaven’s sake. Things are supposed to have improved. At any rate, we were treated to a live S&M demonstration, which amounted to a few dozen clothespins attached to not-very-painful-looking regions of the body, like the thighs.

Then it was all made clear: Running one’s hand over the assembled stand of erect clothespins was obviously the goal of the exercise. That I could see. That could come in handy someday. (I know a Greek masochist. [You heard me.])

But let’s not forget the hot wax dripped on the Eagle’s “willing victim,” an action stigmatized forever for us old farts by Body of Evidence, the least-watched film with the most-widely-known premise since Tron. (Or 9 ½ Inches Weeks.) I cannot take a sexual practice seriously if Madonna gets paid to do it in a feature film.

Bilal and I irked nearby leather fags by doing a kind of Six Degrees, engaging in blasé recollections of some other Willem Dafoe movie.

“You gotta see it, man. He plays a gay cop,” Bilal enthused.

Yet more clothespins. Laundry day at the Eagle! Bet they could really put a wringer washer to use. When does this get interesting?

“Who else is in it?” I asked Bilal drily, arms crossed. Were a cup of tea handy, I would have sipped it.

Should we have been more reverent? Bollocks: Leather queens are still queens. (See Tarzan, hear Jane.) Pay me more reverence and then we’ll talk. Again: A single strawberry blond.

Cripes, do I need a trip to Edinburgh.

Hitting on: All or nothing?

But can somebody explain something to me? Heterosexualists have this concept of a “player,” a term usually uttered with a smug little smirk, as by the disagreeable Sithifrican country-hopper Zev Shalev. People use the term as if it means anything. But does it really? Does it refer to a guy who leads women on? Or a guy with multiple simultaneous girlfriends? Or a guy with loud clothes and too much jewelry and cologne?

How is this different from a fag, then, really?

And what is this related concept, “hitting on”? Over and over again I hear the phrase. It seems to refer to any sexual interest whatsoever. Any displayed sexual interest. Show the slightest attraction and you are deemed to be hitting on the chick. And there’s no degree involved: 0% and 100% both amount to hitting on.

(True story: I was once accused of “hitting on” a 20-year-old redhead son of the hostess of a party I attended. What did I do? I told someone else I had enjoyed sitting on the same couch as him. On the other end of the couch. The fuck?)

OK, then. If you’re at a leather bar chatting with your homosexualist friend’s “bar buddy,” who then rubs your brown Nº 0–cut head admiringly, are you the Pakistani heterosexualist being “hit on”?

I don’t think so. I mean, come on. You can engage in sexual acts that are illegal in Georgia in a leather bar and still not have been “hit on.” (Like, I have.)

Unnatural practices

Bilal makes hungry demands for unnatural activities like frequenting leather bars, and as payback he coerces me into playing pool, which I have not done in 20 years. I knew I’d be a complete disaster. I’ve always known that. I’m bad at physics, right? (That’s why I went to engineer school.)

Except, as it turned out, in the first game we were neck and neck. It came down to a single ball at the end, which he sunk. So much for being a spaz. “Are you hustlin’ me, son?” Bilal demanded.

You’ve been warned.


We’re both sarcastic bastards, and we do a lot of ragging at the world. We both are very prone to catastrophic mood-souring protein crashes when we get the slightest bit hungry. We are both straightedge, a fundamentalism that begets righteousness. But over a full week, we didn’t scratch each other’s eyes out even once, and I so very dearly wish to God that I could keep my heterosexualist Pakistani punk-d00d friend close at hand here forever.

Could it be love?


Like a bleached-out Smurf, but accessible, natch

Yes, that’s me pictured in the dead-tree edition of the Toronto Star, smirking like a bleached-out Smurf. My friend in the description business would in turn describe my look there as Joe in his traditional folkloric garb (orange shirt and black jeanjacket?).

(UPDATE: Star Web site, which is a disaster generally, cannot handle escaped ampersands. Try this link even though it is invalid HTML.)

Why... why, yes. Yes, it is a gigantic, full-page feature on me and motion-picture access. Can you believe that I endured Star Wars not once but twice (it’s better than people say, but not that much better), all in the service of accessibility?

Don’t say I haven’t sacrificed for you lot. But let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth. I love publicity!


Drop-dead inclusive

OED’s word of the day (link, which may expire) is drop[-]dead. Two references:

1994 Sun Zoom Spark Dec. 36/3 [He] generally looked so drop dead cool that every boy in the audience felt themselves miserably failing to suppress the latent homosexuality that exists in all of us. 1999 R. T. DAVIES Queer as Folk: Scripts (rear cover), Stuart has got it all – he’s rich, drop-dead gorgeous and always the centre of attention.



A gracious hello to the inquisitive pair repeatedly plugging Mighty Big TV–related terms into my search engine. Don’t expect to turn up a shitload of hits. I would, however, start over at NUblog, were I you.

Delaware Ave. is a lovely street, isn’t it, with its speed bumps and that oddball house with the purple stoop?


Rescue complex

If this is the kind of story we’re gonna lose in the new, “newsy” Rolling Stone, we’re fucked. “The Last Days of Layne Staley” by Charles Cross (2002.06.06) tells us:

Staley moved to a penthouse condominium in a secure building and rarely answered the door or the phone.... For several years, Staley rarely left his condo and spent most of his days creating art, playing video games, or nodding off on drugs. Even finding drugs became a physical burden, so he employed a series of dealers and other users who regularly brought him what he jokingly referred to as his “medicine.” “His daily life,” confides a friend, “was just an extreme struggle to get his medicine.” [...]

“It got to the point where he’d kept himself so locked up, both physically and emotionally,” says [drummer Sean] Kinney. “Even if you could get in his building, he wasn’t going to open the door. You’d phone and he wouldn’t answer. You couldn’t just kick the door in and grab him, though there were so many times I thought about doing that. But if someone won’t help themselves, what, really, can anyone else do?” [...]

Even as the sickness progressed, Staley’s friends and bandmates continued to reach out, with little success. “I kept trying to make contact,” Kinney says. “Three times a week, like clockwork, I’d call him, but he’d never answer. Every time I was in the area, I was up in front of his place yelling for him.”

Frigging tears came to my eyes when I read that. Melodramatic? Of course. Because remind yourself of what Philo was saying five months ago:

New Year’s Day I sat down with my datebook and my non-cellular phone and began my official attempts in reconnecting with the many who had fallen by the wayside during 2001.... I find it very telling that Walley was leaving a voicemail for me explaining that when she doesn’t hear from gay men in her life over time it routinely means they’ve become drug addicts [or] drunks, or are dying of AIDS while I was leaving her a message of my own. Her noting that the past nine months of total silence was no longer acceptable, regardless of what was going on, speaks volumes to how much she cares about me. We’re having dinner tomorrow night. As for when I called Aunt Kay, who lives right here in the Bay Area, her first words were, “You’re alive! It’s a miracle!” I’m imagining that you’re getting the picture that I’m not exactly exaggerating here by now. And no, people, I’m not on drugs. I’m not drunk. I’m not dying of AIDS.

And then of course there was the chance encounter with a soused semi-famous homosexualist redhead, in which I wondered “It occurs to me this is the sort of thing Scott Thompson talks about when he complains fags don’t look out for each other.”

It would take any reasonably intelligent person about four seconds to figure out which of my former friends pulled a Layne Staley. He didn’t end up dead, to everyone’s relief, but I put up with the same continuous rebuff for three long years.

What did I write about it?

The iceberg bearing down on this Titanic does not have a name. It has no apparent explanation. But for nearly an entire Olympic cycle, starting circa 1994, [tall, dark, handsome, thankless, ungrateful traitor with promiscuous, hypocritical ongoing online self-revelation] dropped off the face of the earth.

There were no telephone calls. No calls were returned, an entire cavalcade of years of unreturned calls. (The term “speed-dial” barely scratches the surface.) [Tall, dark, handsome, thankless, ungrateful traitor with promiscuous, hypocritical ongoing online self-revelation] ignored repeated letters (seven, according to my files). Culled from various of these:

I actually don’t hold anything against you, and there’s no reason to feel more than slightly embarrassed at not having kept in touch. Unlike Maude Flanders, I do not go away to Bible camp to learn to be more judgemental.

No matter what’s been going on, I want you back. The last time I sighted you was in October as you were cycling down the sidewalk on York St., radiating worry and concern. As you know, I am pretty calm in other people’s emergencies, but what I have learned through these various radio silences you’ve put me through is that I’m not altogether calm when I’m kept in the dark, or at least not calm about you. I miss your company.

I assume that some combination of [various personal calamities] has been at work. I’m not sure I could actively help you with any of those problems, but I know I am one of your more trustworthy friends. You wouldn’t be spreading the misery around by letting me in on what’s been happening. And even if you don’t want to do that at all, if you got back in touch with me we could at least start from zero again.

I stumbled across a letter you wrote me... a few years ago in which you admitted being embarrassed and even ashamed at being out of touch for so long. Those feelings fed on themselves and worsened over time. Well, I don’t care, OK? It’s so ridiculous to suggest there are any hard feelings at all that I hesitate even to say there are no hard feelings. I have nothing to offer you other than everything I offered you before, which could be summed up as intelligence, compatibility, conversation, a good ear, and, if you will forgive the schmaltz, loyalty and a good heart. Please come back.

I really and truly do feel as though I’m stuck interminably in the closing scene of The Bells of St. Mary’s in which Bing Crosby finally confesses to whoever that nun was that she is being sent away to Arizona because she has a touch of TB (yes, I know, the metaphors) and not because she’s done anything wrong. Have I done something wrong? I have had several years now to wonder about this and can think of nothing. However, people have ceased to be my friend for no apparent reason before.

I went so far as to drop by [tall, dark, handsome, thankless, ungrateful traitor with promiscuous, hypocritical ongoing online self-revelation]’s building one day. His disagreeable boyfriend unit, who never even pretended to like me, answered the buzzer, stating that [tall, dark, handsome, thankless, ungrateful traitor with promiscuous, hypocritical ongoing online self-revelation] was unavailable because they were en route to a funeral.

How’s that for timing?

But in the dying days of 1997, while crossing University Ave., there miraculously was [tall, dark, handsome, thankless, ungrateful traitor with promiscuous, hypocritical ongoing online self-revelation]. He greeted me warmly, apologized a bit, and promised to get back in touch. And that he did, for a couple of months.

During this last absence, [tall, dark, handsome, thankless, ungrateful traitor with promiscuous, hypocritical ongoing online self-revelation] wasn’t there when I needed him. He was gainfully reëmployed and had a new boyfriend unit, [accused homosexualist spousal batterer]. Everything’s coming up roses for [tall, dark, handsome, thankless, ungrateful traitor with promiscuous, hypocritical ongoing online self-revelation]. I believe my telephone message in May 1999 went like this: “You’re too busy being happy to keep up with me.” How painfully accurate in all respects.

It was never entirely clear why [tall, dark, handsome, thankless, ungrateful traitor with promiscuous, hypocritical ongoing online self-revelation] dropped off the event horizon those several times. There were various explanations, which were more or less honest. Nothing justified leaving me in the dark. All would have been forgiven. I had stuck by [tall, dark, handsome, thankless, ungrateful traitor with promiscuous, hypocritical ongoing online self-revelation] (on the sidelines, like Catherine Deneuve in Les parapluies de Cherbourg), in a manner easily confused for dotage or self-delusion because actual devotion is so uncommon nobody can spot it these days, even under a microscope. This is the way I am with friends.

I must admit I am somewhat embittered by my own impulse to look out for my friends. In any rational analysis after the fact, it never works out. But ethically, one is bound to do something when friends get in trouble. What others generally decide to do, when the tables are turned, is tell you in no uncertain terms how you’re fucking up, which, it must be pointed out, is a non sequitur: You were not asked for your opinion, you’re not a guidance counselor, and you’re in no position to say “Do it my way or we can’t be friends,” which is indeed the gist. Nor is a so-called intervention warranted.

You’ve got two options when faced with self-injurious behaviour: Show moral support or involve professional authorities (like drug rehab). Not on the option list is pretending you are yourself a professional authority like a drug counselor.

But if sticking by your friends never works out, and setting them adrift on ice floes offends the principles, there seems to be a single course of action: Once you figure out something life-threateningly serious is underway, state once that you’re available unconditionally and leave it at that.

Just as friends are more interested in lecturing you about your own faults than helping you out, friends you try to help out will invariably ignore your arse and then try to fuck you up later. You are nonetheless not off the hook.

Look at it this way: Emergency rooms revive suicide attempts. Once.



Ten Years Ago in Spy, we debated the origins of the INY logotype. Find out just who is “a lying piece of shit”!


Vel Satis is the new 99
(now with update)

Unabashed lovers of ugly mongrel automotive design stillbirths, unite! The Renault Vel Satis sadistically satisfies the hunger for ugly–beautiful cars one is statutorily unable to drive!

Renault Vel Satis

What does Britanski GQ tell us about it?

[I]ts stridently stylish and overlong snout appears to be only distantly related to that abbreviated bustle of a rear. Waywardly forward-thinking types, tall ones especially, will no doubt love the Vel Satis’ unusually lofty body, while anyone with an obsessive eye for detail will marvel at the proliferation of tiny squares decorating front and rear bumpers. In short, here is a car designed for designers to deconstruct design in while they drive to a design conference.

The C-pillar configuration (angling downward toward the front) is consistent with old cars. I looked it up: Not quite the Renault 12, not the NSU Ro80. Old American cars? I’m blanking on this.

Vel Satis and CTS end treatments

In any event, front-end design is consistent with that of the Cadillac CTS, whose unmatched purposefulness expresses itself in sharp, hateful, avant-garde, antihuman angles. I adore that car. And the Vel Satis’ “tiny squares” appear to be simple dimples.

A worthy successor to the greatest ugly-beautiful car of them all, the Saab 99. (Yes, surpassing the Beetle.)

Alastair Keady (Hexhibit) writes:

Re the forward-sloping pillar on the Renault Vel Satis: Possibly the old car you are thinking of was the old ’60s Ford Anglia? There must have been some of these floating around Canada?

Mind you, it could have been a Ford Classic or a Vauxhall Cresta/Velox.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!