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2001.12.30

“Babalu-u-u!”

Freedom’s just another word for getting rid of an “artiste” who loves every single hair on my body but who kvetches more than Woody Allen. Imagine a life spent without self-righteous ninety-minute inventories of one’s personality flaws hollered at top volume.

This is sure to make New Year’s Eve a very special day!


Lileksvision

On Jesse Ventura:

When the local TV stations cut to the victory party, it was the cultural elites’ worst nightmare: the room was full of the kind of guys who put bandanas around their dogs’ necks.... You could see cups of beer – beer! – being waved around. These people did not realize that it was the job of beer drinkers to elect wine-drinkers, who then work with scotch-drinking lobbyists. That is the order of things.

On Fargo:

The real problem was the audience. I saw Fargo in Minneapolis, a supper-hour showing at the Mall of America. Behind us was a couple in their sixties who apparently had chosen this movie based on the title. Perhaps they expected a Western. When characters started cussing, I could hear legs being crossed and uncrossed. When the policeman was brainer[e]d, there was a slight sigh of disappointment. Half an hour into the film, I heard the woman whisper: “Well, this is different.”

“This is different.” In Fargospeak, that means this is a raw horror blown straight from Satan’s colon, and any decent person would disapprove. I was embarrassed for them. And for me as well. It was a replay of those trying moments when you rent a videotape to watch with your parents, and suddenly the characters are naked and having sex. For the duration of the movie, I adopted the couple behind me as temporary parent figures, and saw the film through their eyes. It spoiled the entire picture.

2001.12.28

Entrevue du jour

Latest interview with me: Pixelview, where I sound significantly embittered.

2001.12.26

Total ruling homosexualist bloggeur de l’instant

That would be RobDCX over at Ghetto Pimpin’. He’s another thuggofag from a K-state – Kentucky rather than Kansas this time. Excerpt from this d00d’s diarism:

After that I decided to stop at this tent that has set up on the side of the road to get some barbecue cuz every time I ride by there it smells really good. So I roll up there blasting some rap and hop out and order some pork barbecue, ribs, cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans and collard greens. [This would be an order for one fella – Ed.] Suddenly this chromed-out 4Runner pulls up with all these ghetto girls in it... with their hair all styled, nails airbrushed and toes done. It was straight ghetto, like what I haven’t seen since I left DC. I was staring at them and they were like, “WASSUP, PLAYA!” and I said, “WASSUP, GIRL?” and we became friends as we waited on our barbecue.

So then I went into the service station there to get me a large orange soda to go with my collard greens when I noticed this queeny clerk working there was scoping me out. In these situations I become all thug and try to give them some fantasy to jack off about, so I got my Nehi and went up to the counter saying, “Wassup, man?” He was all lisp and limp wrists, handling my soda like it was a dick and asking me if this was the first time I had ever been in there cuz he had never seen me there before, etc. I couldn’t believe it. It was like we were in a bar or something! Anyhow, I got my shit and got the hell outta there, hocking a big loogie in a bush as I left for effect. Finally, I rolled home and that was that.

Sorry if this is rushed but my mom is hollering at me to come and help her melt chocolate or something.

Pimpin’ it large in KY till mama calls you back to man the double boiler. Very 21st-C, boyo. Very 21st-C.

2001.12.25

A shotgun Christmas

Yes, ’tis the season, so I broke the bank and rented Series 7 (overbusy official site), the satire of reality television series in which “contenders” are drafted by unlucky roll of their “government” ID numbers. Once drafted, the only way out is to kill all the other contenders, and even then the only reward is having gotten out.

Well.

I had read the first-person apologia by Daniel Minahan, the writer<slash>director, in Brill’s Content, and even then I got the inchoate impression that he was trying to shine a turd. It is possible to sink your heart and soul into an indie film and have the film nonetheless stink. That’s the impression I got.

Series 7 does not, in fact, stink, but the manner in which it was tragically overshone by events paved the way for the wholesale cancellations and postponements of any film containing even a subliminal wide shot of the World Trade Center. By the time Minahan was editing the damned thing, the Survivor TV series was on the air. There’s really very little difference: On the show you don’t get to kill your opponents and you do earn some money if you win, but the feel is unchanged.

Minahan’s apologia documents degrees of brutality not in the story but in the editing. The final form runs as three consecutive episodes of The Contenders. A further degree of brutality was needed: Lose one contender altogether, or maybe two. Then, miraculously, Series 7 might have fit into a 48-minute television hour. As it is, the fucker was shot on video and played on screens in Toronto for the blink of an eye. I can’t bear to see films shot on video in v2f blowup. Minahan had the sense to use the original video-to-film master as the home-video master, and it looks great. (Saints preserve us from Chuck & Buck and Dancer in the Dark, zombies of cinematography that look like death drizzled in béarnaise sauce. They look like what you’d get if you mistook Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” for porn and dubbed it a few times on your high school’s decks. It’s that bad.)

Tremendous bravura performance by Brooke Smith, though, as a pregnant chick with a gun who fucks shit up. My kinda girl!

Minahan will springboard from this magnificent failure to greatness. I suspect he has that touch.

Further, Moulin Rouge is in my possession (bank now broken to bits). Yes, it can now be confirmed that the DVD contains audio description by Carol McGregor’s company. Who is Carol McGregor? Mom of the lovely and talented Ewan McGregor, star of Moulin Rouge. Talk about an inside job!

Would you like to know what’s coming up for me in the next three months?

2001.12.24

As sure as there’s an X in Christmas

To get me in the festive, holiday, goodwill-to-all-men-with-notable-exceptions mood, I am rewatching Waco: The Rules of Engagement.

(Who could pass better in female drag, Janet Reno or Elinor Caplan?)

Meanwhile: Christmas at the Baths. (Sky Gilbert, come on down! But keep gormless, oversincere heterosexualists out of it.) We need Bruce LaBruce on the case: “An old-school queen gives us a poker-faced tour of the facilities, enumerating them in a monotone like a stewardess: ‘On your right will be the orgy pit and the glory hole wall. Coming up on your left is the St. Andrew’s bondage cross and the double reinforced leather sling.’ After the flogging demonstration, the reverently silent audience, seated on folding chairs, claps quietly as if at a golf tournament. I rush out and buy a disposable camera to document the event. Only in Toronto, kids, only in Toronto.”

2001.12.23

Now do you get it?

James Lileks (a god incarnate) sez:

And no, I’m not in a bad mood. Rule of thumb... the higher the level of invective, the more cheerful I am.

Testify! Couldn’t have said it better myself.

So stop bitching (often behind my back) when I get in high dudgeon here. That always indicates a good head of steam. We want that, don’t we?


“...Is Yuppie Scum”

Christmas comes early to fawny.org, and so does January! Yes, it’s another issuance of Ten Years Ago in Spy.

Whoever do you imagine appears in this month’s Letters column?

I did, by the way, locate the bestest solution to a clue in SPY’s Un-British Crossword Puzzle, authored by none other than Roy Blount, Jr. (apparently collected in Camels Are Easy, Comedy’s Hard [Villard, 1991]). Rather than wait till September rolls around again (this Puzzle dates from 1988), in the spirit of giving I’ll hand ’er to you right now.

[W]hen I served for two weeks as a guest columnist for the San Francisco Examiner a couple of years ago, I took it upon myself as a person from Georgia, whence came the case that led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1986 sodomy-affirming decision... well, I shouldn’t say “sodomy-affirming.” You will have to bear with me. I hate to introduce into this puzzle a personal note, especially one that may smack of special pleading, but the truth is that I am writing these notes on a computer. I have never worked on a computer before. And my sentences seem strange to me. But that is not your problem. What I was saying is that when I was writing a column in San Francisco, I felt it incumbent upon me to go into the whole matter of sodomy, because I am from Georgia. Which is where Bowers v. Hardwick, the big sodomy case, originated. And here is what I concluded: Sodomy is whatever practice the law considers loathsome. Sodomy is a loathsome-sounding word. Whereas rape has a racy sort of ring to it. So we ought to call rape sodomy, and rename various between-consenting-adults practices after cities other than Sodom. Some possibilities: new yorkery, dallasm, philadelphia, friscolity.

A long time ago, I recall writing a snatchmail that came up with a few similar neologisms. Where did it go? The only one I can recall offhand is stoke-mandeville.

And unlike Roy Blount, Jr., I could not possibly think far enough back to remember the first words I wrote on a computer.

2001.12.20

Ixuxsxtxixn imberlakeTay

I have to be really careful not to mention the specific subject of this post. Why? Not for reasons you immediately and baselessly imagine (and will later gossip about at the regular Friday-night circle). No, it is lest thousands of teenybopper fans of M Tync hammer this page with search requests. I have to slightly adulterate words so they will be understandable but hard to locate via Google. (Rot13, anyone?)

I am the proud and somewhat gobsmacked and mystified owner of the “Autumn/Winter 01/02” ish of Aréna Hommes Plus (no credible Web site available), the latest vehicle by a designer who can pretty much do no wrong, Fabien Baron. Well, in truth, the thing Baron does wrong here is to employ Courier rather than Thesis as monospace font, but there are compensations.

A daring and indeed shocking foto spread by Steven Klein (reasonably famous fashion shooter [sample]; no credible Web sites; impossible even to locate company site of his agent, Massimiliano di Battista) features Ixuxsxtxixn Limbertake of M Zync acting like he really understands his star power. That is, he knows he can do whatever the fork he wants.

So who cares? I’ll tell you who cares: Every twit flash-in-pan pop singer who obsesses over his image, or lets his closeted manager veto any unconventional idea – particularly any idea that makes the disposable pop star look queer. Musto:

Subtext galore is surfacing in two pop careers, thanks to photographer Steven Klein (who infamously captured Brad Pitt as street trade in W). Klein told me he recently shot ’N Sync’s Ixuxsxtxixn Limbertake in a Long Island house (no, not in Southampton) for the cover of the Brit magazine Aréna Hommes Plus, and the spread will startlingly present Ixuxsxtxixn in the role of “a suburban kid, kind of violent.” Ixuxsxtxixn – who’s being pegged for the lead in Spike Lee’s movie of Rent – is clearly rethinking his squeaky-clean veneer. “You have to kill to have a rebirth,” explained Klein, who’s also jazzing up the timeless icon Britney Spears for her next CD cover. “She’s looking harder and more rock,” he revealed, admiringly. Is the stomach still out? “The stomach’s still out,” Klein said, laughing.

Yxüxsxtxyxn himself:

Q. The photos for this story are edgier than anything you’ve done in the past. Why did you want to do them?

A. When the photo shoot first came up, Steven Klein said, “When I do these shoots I like the subjects to play a role.” He explained the scenarios and I was down for it. I know the pictures he takes are like pieces of art in themselves, and that’s kind of where you have to trust who you’re working with. I trusted him the whole time I’m obviously a bit more naked in these photos that I have been in the past, but it is what it is. For me, it’s like a still in a film.

Photos here. Very Bruce LaBruceesque with the fake cast and crutches, the blood pouring sexily down the face.

Now I have a quest. I need a copy of the contraband first printing of the ish. The cover? Our lad with blood pouring sexily down his face and onto his American-flag-like shirt. (Apparently there’s another censored flag foto inside.) Queruously withdrawn post–9/11. That is, thousands of expensively-printed magazines were laboriously picked up and then destroyed, an ominous action. Grow up, Emap.

We expect this degree of daring from David Beckham, yes. From an heterosexualist pop star dating a virgin? “Redoubtable” is, I believe, a word his typical fans would never use.

(Idle, unsupported Swish Cottage hypothesizing about a clearly fake XXX-rated “original” from the photo shoot. You don’t need to be the Amazing Randi to tell the fingers don’t match.)


#!

BareBones Software refers to the character sequence #! as “she-bang.”


Press-whoring

Should anyone care, I have finally been quoted by Wired.

2001.11.13

If you don’t have anything nice to say

Oddball, oasis-like moments that make city life lovable? The sudden complete absence of cars on a busy street. Fighting your way through an earthbound flock of geese who, as tough city birds, do not give a toss who or what you are other than not a goose. And of course, empty billboards:

Empty billboard

They shout but say nothing. They’re the boarded-up storefronts – the tumbleweeds – of advertising.

Aren’t they grand?


Catamites and serial killers

Terms employed by Jonno, in snatchmail, to describe me, all taken hideously out of context but without really distorting the meaning:

bitterness ¶ continuing morbid fascination ¶ chip on your shoulder ¶ spookily invasive exegesis ¶ uncharitable ¶ obsessively cranky musings

I dunno. I’m not the one jumping narrative lily pads from John Waters to Divine to serial killers. But now that we’re on the topic, note that the crime spree of Dennis Nilsen of the U.K. was dramatized by DV8 Physical Theatre in Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men, a profound and shocking treatment that presaged fictionalizations like Paul’s Case and “Michael Stipe Has Great Hair.”

And who recently mentioned Dead Dreams? Me.

Blogrolling in our time, shurely?!

At any rate, the film in question is virtually impossible to see. Many years ago, Jay Scott unaccountably hosted an “international” film show on TVO. On Friday nights. When I tended to fall asleep on the couch, resigned to my fate.

I awoke as if by tapping on the shoulder by a good Fred Flintstone to find Scott introducing a raft of homosexualist films, including The Dead Boys’ Club and indeed Dead Dreams, an impossibly avant-garde black-and-white production for British television that has little to do with Nilsen in a denotative sense, transferring his psychoses to the realm of the fagbar.

A dismissive review written by a hetero was repudiated thus:

[W]here Dead Dreams lives up to its press billing... is as an allegory for gay-bar culture and fags’ emotional misdeeds. The film dramatizes how we eyeball and play nonverbal games with each other, lay on a kind of desperate, saccharine come-hither malarkey to get guys into bed, engage in whatever acrobatic, detached, cruel or degrading sex we can get away with (whether or not it suits our partners’ emotional temperament, assuming we bothered to find out), and then go on to cast these guys adrift after a night of mixed signals that confuse sex and love.

Apart from another notch on the belt, we leave our lovers no better off than before we met them, and that’s the best case; more probably, we brutalize each other’s bodies and psyches (Cf. all the dead naked bodies littering the end of the film) and are left sitting forlornly in a dingy bedsit listening to ’60s girl-group numbers while the world passes us by. We aim for love, find only sex, and end up with bitter loneliness and camp. Makes you wonder what gay pride is all about.

The film was aired on television precisely once (actually twice: Scott’s episode was rerun). A panel discussion, replete with overwhelmed, well-meaning liberal straight girls, could barely sputter a few words about it. Director David Hinton was shown in an interview; American programmers watched the film and told him, in desperate, fearful whispers, that their careers would come to a quick end if they ever broadcast such a thing.

Later, the dance film festival could only get its hands on a video copy, which bugged my arse: I wanted full-on film resolution.

DV8 is like La La La Human Steps: If you don’t get modern dance, you can certainly like them. I’ve seen all their films and two live productions, the first of which, MSM, I simply hated for years and later came to understand. DV8 really are sui generis, following the inexplicable cultural pattern of epitomizing a category they have nothing in common with. Leaders in dance cinema, their films actually contain movement, dialogue, and narrative; DV8 resembles a dance troupe the way Cirque du Soleil does; they’re all-male and barely even nominally gay while founding their entire œuvre on queerness.

Lloyd Newson, DV8’s founder, epitomizes something else: The mature, potent skinhead, returning us again to one’s previous “exegesis.”

I couldn’t make it as a skinhead. (With, yes. At the drop of a hat.) I barely qualify as a suedehead. (Why are two of my sites at the top of a Google search for “suedehead definition,” and why do most of the rest concern the obscure Morrissey “album cut”?)

Anyway, I have proof. With less time elapsed from putting away the clippers than you’d need to toast a bagel, you could barely suffer razor burn off my scalp:

A Nº 2 cut all the way

(I borrowed a friend’s digicam. Now I want my own.)

2001.11.11

Adieu, jaundiced vehicular pathway!

217,999 other readers cannot be wrong! Yes, I have finally located “Name That Tune, Mr. Spock!” – easily the bestest feature ever read Ten Years Ago in Spy.

Next on the must-find list: The Un-British Crossword Puzzle introducing new terminology for sex crimes, like new yorkery, friscolity, and dallasm.


Another superspecial GTA Blogger Meet I wasn’t invited to. Would I even have had a good time? I certainly hate the dive known as Sneaky Dee’s. Group meetings always assume the lowest common denominator is less offensive than the highest. Everyone can adjust their expectations down.

I guess this is yet further evidence I shouldn’t have gone, not that I even knew it was happening.

2001.11.08

Webmestre-de-fer

The South by Southwest Iron Webmaster Showdown looks good on paper, but, as the Brad points out, the actual on-stage exercise is simply a retrofit. It’s really the Iron Tarting-Up competition.

But is that all?

No. Iron Webmaster is also a personality contest. Here is the questionnaire one must complete merely to be considered. (You must apply to enter the competition, as though this were Survivor or something.)

  1. In 10 words or less, why should we pick you to be a part of the Iron Webmaster Showdown?
  2. How long have you been involved in the new-media industry?
  3. What sites/URLs have you worked on? Specifically, what work have you done on each site?
  4. What is your best skill as a Web developer?
  5. What is your favorite Web design tool?
  6. What is the skill you need to improve most as a Web developer?
  7. Please supply a brief story that illustrates how you react well under pressure.
  8. Please supply a brief story that illustrates your sense of humour.
  9. Please supply a brief story that demonstrates you are boisterous and outgoing. [Cf. Magnolia: HOW TO PRETEND LIKE YOU ARE CARING AND SENSITIVE.]
  10. What else should we know about you in regards to your qualifications for the Iron Webmaster Showdown?

In other words, as in Hairspray, by entering the competition to enter the competition, you agree to be judged on grammar and poise. Iron Webmaster is actually a race to become prom queen and king. It is, in effect, a quest for the A-list.

I don’t think so.


Fifth canal lucky

The dreaded root canal was completed today. It was literally and genuinely dreaded, with the waking up at 0530 and tossing and turning for a good four hours until I was returned to sanity by SCIMming with Colin in Japan.

Guess what? Remember how 60% of people have four canals in the three-root tooth Nº 16? I’ve got five. It’s rare but not unknown.

The dental assistant outdid herself with incompetence today. Not only did she splatter instruments all over the floor, she bashed me in the forehead with the X-ray gun. I now have what appears to be the biggest zit on the planet but is in fact one of those things with an ancient name, a welt. A letter will be written.

The assistant was so maladroit, in fact, that my esteemed dentist got snippy. Very snippy. Snippy even at me, for autonomic functions I could not control, like spontaneous movements of the tongue. “Please stop doing that.” Doing what? You moved the instrument and it happened. “Please stop doing that.” And of course there was the ultra-snippy “Can I work here?”

Newsflash, John: I’ve been lying here apparently motionless for an hour and a half. But in fact my mouth has been open that entire time, and the muscles are seizing. It was nearly all I could think about.

“Medical professionals” must never be snippy, even once, to a patient, because we are vulnerable, especially to dentists, who are sadists in drag. I, moreover, am sensitive.

I also found out that focal infections inculcated by root canals are implicated in lifelong health deficits, including cancer. It’s gonna cost a fortune to get this all fixed up proper. Maybe a bridge is in order. Porcelain and gold are bioinert.

Accordingly, our

Preferred Bad Religion song of the month

is “Struck a Nerve.”

2001.11.07

5% Moonves urine, shurely?!

I seem to recall, in the haze of settling skyscraper on September 19, another kind of dustup in which mighty David Letterman got in shit for holding up a Gatorade bottle to reveal its secret ingredient: 5% GATOR URINE.

I scarcely ever watch the show and missed this episode. Apparently the word “urine” was nuked from the broadcast. Can’t afford to annoy a sponsor. (Piss in one’s Gatorade pales in comparison with smallpox in one’s nasal cavity, doesn’t it?)

But did it happen with enough warning to avoid being captioned anyway? Apparently not.

The Late Show with David Letterman is captioned using the live-display scrollup technique. The program is transcribed almost completely verbatim (by the usual method – a person playing and pausing a tape and typing at a computer), with the resulting captions scrolled up later, either as the show goes to air first over satellite or to a second tape.

(The only other ways to caption anything involve the same transcription steps but editing and positioning of caption blocks, the so-called pop-on or pop-up or popup style, which essentially every fictional program and a great many nonfiction shows use; or real-time captioning done using stenotype keyboards. As examples, Leno is scrollup, Buffy is popup, and Jon Stewart is stenocaptioned. Scrollup is used on Letterman because there is not enoug leadtime to place popup captions; since there is indeed some leadtime, however, real-time captioning is unnecessary.)

En tout cas, what happens when the producer changes audio after captioning occurs? The captions and audio do not match. The Star Trek franchises and The Simpsons are notorious for this post-captioning “sweetening,” and there’s nothing the captioner can do about it because they simply are not in the loop.

On very rare occasion, a spoken word is bleeped (that is, censored) after captioning happens. I have scarcely ever seen it even after more than 20 years of watching captioned TV. And that’s exactly what happened with our thirst-quenching gator urine.

The gag was actually uttered twice. The first time, the captions scrolled up the full phrase “5% gator urine.” Whoever was at the controls noticed that the word “urine” was blanked out and busted a gut fixing the next occurrence, only seconds away, so that the caption read 5% gator [no audio], as is proper. (If the word is actually bleeped, you have to say [bleep] or [beep]. A momentary gap in speech is actually [no voice]; a gap in the soundtrack is [no audio]. Precise orthography varies.)

The result? Of four occurrences of “5% gator urine” (two spoken and two captioned), only one survived – the first captioned instance.

This was apparently noticed upstairs at CBS, which threw a shitfit and ordered that, from now on, Letterman would only be real-time captioned to avoid any recurrence.

This is of course a miserable course of action. Even the best stenocaptioners (in the U.S., all of them work for Vitac) cannot keep up with the 180-word-per-minute repartée and unpredictable, relentlessly-dropped proper names in a talk show. It’s hard enough stenocaptioning the news even when you have reasonable warning of proper names likely to come up.

All you need to do is compare Leno (scrollup-captioned by Vitac) and Letterman against Craig Kilborn, which isn’t even a live show yet is captioned as though it were (by NCI). Even though NCI has reassigned its best writers (quality has increased dramatically in the last three months), they simply cannot keep up.

Scrollup captions, by contrast, can:

The Caption Center does a better job with Letterman than Vitac, still stuck in the dark ages of SCREAMING ALL-UPPERCASE CAPTIONS and hard-to-read spaces-inside-brackets non-speech orthography, but both cases are orders of magnitudes better than what NCI manages with Kilborn.

It’s a structural issue: Real-time captioning always misses things and is less enjoyable to read than pre-transcribed scrollup.

Based on my recent viewing, however, the Caption Center is in fact pre-transcribing and scrolling up current Letterman episodes. They’re just using oldschool UPPERCASE captions of the sort produced by stenocaptioning. A casual glance by ignorant CBS executives, who surely cannot tell the difference, would lead them to believe that real-time captioning is in effect.

It is quite apparent to an expert like me that the Caption Center handled the original program as best it could possibly be handled. Tens of thousands of captioning viewers are now being made to suffer unnecessarily crappy captions in a misguided, vainglorious effort to avoid pissing off Gatorade, so to speak.

And people wonder why I gripe so much about captioning. There’s so much to fix.

2001.10.30

Reading feather-boa entrails

What’s up these days with our diverse homosexualist Weblogging communities?

  1. Chad “Little Minx” Smith is showing his usual density and introspection, the sort of thing that could not manifest itself without Chad’s attendant neuroses, which he hates me to bring up. Fittingly for a man who comes up with new variations on ways to house people in boxes (Parthenon, Guggenheim, Big Owe – they’re all boxes), our Minxette tweaks the subtle, self-limited variables of menswear, extracting individuality and meaning like juicing a pomegranate.
  2. Standing at the vanguard of the Aughties in full-on chaps and increasingly inelastic tricep skin is of course Charlie “Lacking a Surname,” the Everlasting Blogstalker. Presaging the urban devastation widely presumed to be coming down the pike like an upturned dumptruck of confectioner’s sugar, Charlie and his loved one (he’s a dog person) have decamped to a Tier C city, Nouvelle-Orléans, where apparently anything goes. (I think back mistily to Lucian K. Truscott potboiler military mystery novels, replete with glamourous heroes and heroines and recurring undercurrents of illicit sexualism.) Downgrading – ever since Hollywood celebrities selflessly donated inconsequential fractions of their lifelong fortunes to the relief effort, it’s been the new leitmotif.
  3. Charlie’s fuite causes us to consider an agreeable consequence of the homogenity of modern televisual pop culture. You can live quite well as a short, hirsute, sexy, leather-clad catamite even in Tier C. We’ve seen it all on TV already, honey. And in any event, New Orleans is nothing: Shane Tanner draws dirty pictures and lives happily as a queer skinhead in Kansas. “Openly skinhead” is tautological (unlike “openly straightedge,” since straightedge habits are invisible unless you start writing Xs in Magic Marker® on your palms). Meanwhile, “openly gay in Kansas” might enter the realm of the contradictory. The question, which I advance in all seriousness, is then why the fork aren’t there any skinheads at the Black Eagle, even on Punks & Skins Night? I will also aver that “Shane” is a given name I find rather swoony, though I’ve only ever met one fella with it.

It will be exclusively revealed that I am now undergoing another À la recherche d’Amy perdue moment with an alabaster skinhead to whom I foolishly did not give my number. Just how hard is it to run into someone you’re looking for?

2001.10.25

Fourth canal lucky

The word “dentist” is strange, what with the stresses and all – a two-syllable word with primary and secondary stress. (Typically, two-syllable words have primary and no stress.)

Today I enjoyed an experience that, by conventional wisdom, is so unpleasant it is a kind of punchline: Root canal. It’s a bad rap to a certain degree, as the procedure, euphemistically labeled “root canal therapy” as though it were a relaxing day at the spa, destroys the possible source of pain. The procedure was tolerable today, but it did test my stamina.

Our physiology lesson for the day: Canals house the nerves. Sixty percent of people have four canals in tooth 16 rather than one for each of its three roots.

(A dentist gave me the the following numbering system, which contradicts other evidence: Quadrant 1 is the top right, 2 the bottom right, 3 bottom left, 4 top left. Start numbering at 1 from the frontmost tooth and add that digit to the quadrant number; the results are pronounced as sequences, hence “one-six.”)

I, naturally, am in that 60%, which we can add to my list of minor birth defects. Many of this population have calcified or sclerotic or partially-filled-in fourth canals. Got that, too. I have struck out anatomically.

So the dentist must dig out four canals in the same time allotted for three canals; a calcified canal itself always takes longer than others. Freezing lasts only so long, and you can’t keep topping it up like a wine glass. Rather like organ donation, your window of opportunity is finite.

Thus!

I have to go back one more time to get it all fixed. It is an unavoidable consequence of the anatomy of the tooth and nerves and the time required to do the work. I am nonetheless pissed.

What there was a way around was the staggeringly incompetent dental assistant. Merely one example of a shocking list: She made same mistake a total of five times, continuing to do so even after being politely reprimanded twice and being shown twice how to do it right.

My curmudgeonly dentist, who actually wants to be a writer, I like a whole hell of a lot. I ended up feeling really stoned after the chair was returned to the upright and locked position. John the dentist sed it was psychosomatic. Like fuck. It’s due to a combination of ingested bleach (yes, bleach – and John splattered some in his face after he cunningly took off his splashguard); the continuous taste of dental-dam latex, steel frame pressing unremittingly against the lower lip (as if for lesbian safe sex – John asks “I’ve never understood how they do that. Do they use the frame?”); and repeated microampere electrical currents used as a testing device.

John also sez that any tooth with a filling as big as that one was eventually goes nuclear and that I was not particularly remiss in being too poor to have it fixed before. This is only modest reassurance.

Post-traumatic stress: Not junk science

I’ve lived with a tooth verging on going nuclear for a month and a half and had six or eight Marathon Man– or Brazil-style zaps of pain in the chair today, none of them intentionally inflicted or even avoidable. And I feel like there’s somebody else in the room here with a switch that could be flicked at any moment to give me a bit more.

I am wondering if how I feel now is akin to post-traumatic stress. And this was nothin’.

I can only urge everyone reading this to believe even the most mawkish, pampered, twee, neurasthenic and yuppified reporters, commentators, and authorities when they explain just how little it takes to haunt the fuck out of you. I now have utmost respect for everyone in the kill zone at WTC who is able even to tie up their shoelaces at this point. A friend down in New York filed E-mail reports after the bombing, saying in one of them: “A group of Cambodians – small, silent, solemn – walked slowly with candles and incense, signs proclaiming their solidarity, from a people who have suffered more than most.” I read this now and figure I’m about as strong as the pulp of a dying tooth.

2001.10.19

I love him but he humbles me

It will exclusively be revealed that I wrote about A. Crewdson’s Lines & Splines in a forthcoming magazine article. I have to admit we have had a few spats. I still love him but he cannot stand to be with me. I kind of understand. He’s still very young. But look where he’s at and where I’m at.

If his site were not merely sui generis but also tremendously recherché, and all the more humbling in its nouvelle formulation, I would be less weepy.

But from the looks of things, it appears there has been a certain illicit congress between Andy and Dean. I’d recognize those stylesheets anywhere. It’s worse than lipstick on the collar. Far more incriminating. I should bloody know.


Let’s Get Skase!

What, you may ask, is the tremendously effective actor Alex Dimitriades doing these days?

He was just a kid when he starred, not often enough shirtlessly, on Heartbreak High, the teen melodrama that hardly gave the DeGrassi franchise any cause for soiled undergarments but handily showed off what Sydney actually looks like. The most shocking episode: Dad decides to move back to Greece. And the rest of the family, including two school-age children, simply lets it happen – credibly, as the treatment had it. In fact, you could almost turn that story into a movie.

Dimitriades grew up mighty goddamned fast in Head On (reviews), one of the few acceptable homosexualist movies. (Others: Parting Glances; Poison; Billy’s, though heavily intertextual with Zentropa and indeed Parting Glances; Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men; Edge of Seventeen; first half of Longtime Companion; and, heavens yes, Hedwig.) The amalgam of bravura, shocking good looks, and believability were killer. The last Australian actor with such an amalgam was... Russell Crowe, whom of course one has been watching for the better part of ten years (the superb crip picture Proof, plus second-rate make-work projects like The Sum of Us, Romper Stomper, and PerVirtuosity).

It is hard to get past the looks of Alex Dimitriades, in fact, if one has any fondness for olive complexions. Contrary to Camille Paglia’s claim, it is not the case that the significant male film stars have small but notable elements of androgynous appeal.

But before and during World War II, male icons tended to be robustly masculine, as in the cases of Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart. The dignified, high density of personality of the latter two men is completely missing from our popinjay contemporary actors, who have the sexual authority and presence of a cork.

Tired of twink cork? Listen, honey, we’ve got olives workin’ here. As with Crowe, Dimitriades is all man.

Head On was poorly screened outside Oz. (So many Australian and Scandinavian movies are. Canadian films travel more widely, apparently.) Dimitriades had the misfortune of having no Sharon Stone to personally and repeatedly insist, yea up to the very eve of shooting, that he be cast in a Hollywood picture. Like good Canadian actors, he’s stuck with small Australian feature films – and with TV series we don’t get to watch here.

So the latest picture is Let’s Get Skase (Let’s Active! Let’s get small!) and it looks rather culturally specific, that is, unfunny.

Without seeing the man in action here, I remain unable to get past his looks, and all I can say is: You shave the goatee, mister, and somebody’s gonna lose his temper, and for God’s sake keep the Borg jumpsuit.

2001.10.16

Corky’s machine

What is interesting about the kid called Corky?

It’s not his manhood. A spindly Malaysian immigrant at the Spa on Maitland (actually, you never find but one – they hunt in packs, arms folded girlishly on pigeon chests, inevitable sandals slapping the floor in that shuffly Oriental giveaway manner, yammering endlessly, protectively preëmpting the whole reason for being) would look just as huge if you shot him up close and fisheye.

What elicits interest are the curled ridges of his lips; they are his “You had me with ‘hello.’ ” He has actual qualifications – he can design nicer Web sites than I can, but of course so could a reedy, mooning Malaysian immigrant.

What kills me, though, is the evident fact that he and his bf Jett are actually in love. The fact is evident because Corky, already a nickname, adopts a pseudonym for his frankly nude, risqué photo feature with Jett in 2. It’s the pseudonym I don’t understand. Corky talks a mile about Jett, and even runs photos on his site. It can’t be a question of hiding the identity. I suppose it’s an effort to be consistent with what passes for his porn career (as Eric Masterson).

The lads are evenly matched: Corky is hung, cute, and skinny, while Jett is not at all hung, handsome, and solid. If you’re going to run a magazine showing “hot male couples,” you find out fast that they’re only hot if they’re truly in love.


By the way, you may now reach this flawed but vibrant and essential Weblog via fawny.org/blog/, which merely redirects you to a static file. That may later be reconfigured.

If you’re wondering if I would agree to a 2-style feature spread, the answer is yes, but I lack a certain prerequisite.

2001.10.15

Not f2f, shurely?!

I suppose it isn’t surprising that there exists an entire “community” of “GTA bloggers,” or that I would not be part of it.

Though I’m sure they’re all quite swell, I am also sure I’m too much of an acquired taste.

2001.10.13

Delightful band names of the moment

  1. Raising the Fawn
  2. Dirty Vegas (first word must be pronounced with alveolar flap, as in Canadian English)

The the

Among my apparently endless litany of petty hatreds is one reserved for the CBC wank of a program Definitely Not the Opera, a “pop-culture magazine” put together by terminally uptight, clued-out, third-tier middle-class girls who’ve never had a decent fuck in their entire lives. One recalls an encomium to this abomination in the Globe (naturally, no longer online, if it ever was) in which a source, also an uptight, clued-out, third-tier middle-class girl who’s never had that full-cunt feeling at any time ever, gormlessly declares that the show is just right for the mood of a Saturday afternoon, when you are obviously catching up and doing errands like “driving to Canadian Tire.”

  1. Some of us don’t drive.
  2. Some of us wouldn’t be spotted even in the gay Canadian Tire at Church and Yonge except under extreme duress. Live a few years in a city and you locate mom-’n’-pop stores carrying every likely provision Canadian Tire does.
  3. Only an arriviste says “driving to Canadian Tire.” Real Canadians say “driving to the Canadian Tire.”

Prefacing a proper noun by the turns the proper noun into a sort of utility:

This usage also takes on a collective-noun air, suggesting that the respective declaration holds true for all examples:

(Apparently the phenomenon is not limited to proper nouns per se.)

One would reserve the use of proper noun without article to special or infrequently-enjoyed cases:

Would you say “SkyDome” or “the SkyDome” in the following?

Those examples are at cross-purposes. In my dialect, the use of the should be reversed. In the former case, SkyDome is rarely visited; it is SkyDome and not the SkyDome. The latter case is the converse.

The utility nature of this usage comes up with actual utilities:

Or roads. Actual example from Sam McPheeters’ column (“Finance Report”) in Punk Planet (September/October 2001):

Of course it’s not really Interstate 10, it’s the 10, as in “Take the 10 to the 57 to get to Disneyland.” Apparently one has surrendered to California the moment they start adding “the” before the number of a highway. When I talk to East Coast people now and make the mistake of saying something like “Traffic on the 95 clears up after New Haven,” they say, “Oh, so now it’s the 95?” with a curdled little smile as if they had some psychoanalytical knowledge of a defect in my personality I was unaware of and/or powerless over. Fuck off.

Yes. Indeed. Do fuck off. I do not listen to “Definitely Not the Opera” and I definitely do not drive “to Canadian Tire.” Quit putting on airs.

2001.10.08

Ten Years Ago, we dropped a quote

Planes hit buildings and Spy drops a quotation mark. Let’s face it: We’re fucked.


My fondest memory of the Eagle

I specifically recall a cold winter’s Saturday in which I found myself ensconced at the Eagle – at the south corner, upstairs, on the stool by the window. Suddenly it occurred to me that the place was packed, with, improbably enough, men worth looking at, Tool was playing agreeably on the stereo, and I had the best seat in the house.

One of those little moments when it hits you how happy just the right combo can make you.

This weekend, times had changed. They were playing Tool downstairs, and while I still had the best seat in the house, I had only one looker to look at. He showed up after this late-30s man with hair one step up the evolutionary ladder from a mullet had been sitting around conspicuously for an hour. Somehow he struck up a conversation with the leather queen and the bear type next to him, but of course not with me.

Shortly, a lumbervest and T-shirt walks over. Hello, nurse. “Mike?” “George?” “Yeah, hi.” “I thought I saw you over there.” Why, yes, gentlemen, we are looking at an Internet date. Much discussion of how different George looked from his Gay.com chat photo. Mike was hoping for a bit more, I think.

He was terribly disappointed. Because George was off the scale. Pushing 40, a great nose, superb nasolabial crease and lines in the cheek, smart as a tack, blue-eyed, and real damned solid. George is in it for “friendship”; he meets lots of guys this way. But a few things didn’t compute:

But here is the question.

The question is: What kind of kevinspaceyesque self-control does it take to ignore, down to the level of expelled breaths, glances, and knees abutting legs, a fellow seated two and a half feet away who is looking right at you, can hear and is following every word of your conversation, and shifts his head from side to side as each of you speaks?

I now fully understand lesbian invisibility.

2001.09.27

Packing it in

Evidence strongly suggests that, far from flying to South Africa, Ramon Stoppelenburg is packing it in on Let Me Stay for a Day.

  1. He never had enough hosts lined up for South Africa. If two were too few for a canonically safe Caucasian country like Sweden, four are orders of magnitude too few for a lethally-crime-ridden racial purgagory like South Africa.
  2. Heretofore, nearly all Ramon’s plane trips were short-distance and/or sponsored by radio or TV stations that wanted him on air.
  3. Ramon never had sufficient contacts to get himself flown across the Atlantic, to say nothing of taking the very longest commercial flight there is.
  4. He’s just a kid, and the bombing freaked him out. He may have seen quite enough of the world for the time being.
  5. We are now ominously told that a full accounting will appear tomorrow.

2001.09.26

How the mighty have fallen!

One experienced mild cardiac arrest while watching the current Tilda Swinton œuvre The Deep End, whose all-Helvetica title sequence claims is written, produced, and directed by some feller and David Siegel.

My life flashed before my eyes: Not David Siegel, the priggish, superannuated Utahan Jewish veganist screenwriter<slash>Web designer<slash>author<slash>luminary, shurely?! (You may have read his books, which are now so old they need to be carbon-dated.)

The IMDB shed no light. The official site is ambiguous: “David Siegel was trained as an architect at Berkeley, then studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design where he received his Master of Fine Arts degree.” Hmm. If this were our David Siegel, wouldn’t it mention his vast bibliography and the near-idolatry with which he is received?

But the best part was DSiegel.com, which is organized into seemingly endless Hollywood Squares–esque kooky, largely unlabeled, self-indulgent compartments which life is too short to explore. Most links from, for example, the Paul Lynde square come back 404.

How the mighty have fallen!

2001.09.24

agPieMay

MAGpie 2.0 is out in beta. Now you too can commit lousy captioning and audio description!

2001.09.23

Loiter away, Mr. McManus

Ever felt unwelcome at a franchised coffee bar, of the sort still undestroyed by Fight Club zealots (prophetic, shurely?! – Ed.)?

“I get asked a lot, ‘Aren’t you concerned about people loitering in your stores, using the Internet, and not buying anything?’ ” [some Boomer functionary with a grey beard, a paunch, a costly, sweaty, cellulite-addled wife, and a throbbing prostate] says. “The reality is exactly the opposite. Our most successful stores turn out to be the ones with the most loitering. We think it’s great if people want to stay awhile. It creates a sense of community.”

Yes, but the externalized psychology of mincing gay-bar coffeeshop loiterers varies linearily with complexity of props.

Arrive with nothing, do nothing but drink
Depressed, poor, shiftless, marking time till well-telegraphed doom
Arrive with nothing, read the alternative newsweekly
Pantywaist bereft of discernible independent personality killing time middleclassically
Arrive with nothing, read both alternative newsweeklies and scour any available leftover daily newspapers, up to and including the Investing, Sports, Managing, and (pointedly) Careers sections
Unhappy home life if not para-homelessness, work avoidance, alienation
Arrive with nothing but self-chosen and -bought magazine naked in hand or in store wrapper
“Coffee ‘aficionado,’ ” with single-minded dedication to enjoying power-espresso as overt lifestyle choice; cognate with Republican businessman cigar-chomping
Arrive with full Saturday newspaper or, more incriminatingly, Sunday Times
Upper-middle-class arriviste, with tendency to moon over how life could be better in TriBeCa (“The neighbourhood. In New York”)
Arrive with full backpack of reading materials and also scour the shop for pulp to read
A normal’s range of recreational pursuits (shooting hoops, smoking dope, Bruce videos, Bruce albums, seven beers after work on Fridays, lunch with the guys at Hooter’s) telescoped onto a once-a-day ritual dragged maximally out; these are the loiterers
Arrive with laptop
New iron will elicit conversation (case in point: ijsBoek). Old laptop makes you look like a poseur, the 21st-century analogue of a beret, a Gitanes, and crabbed notebook handwriting

Gay tubs

Two distinct histories of homosexualist bathhouses:

2001.09.17

Toujours à la recherche
d’un Greg Graffin manqué

A full year ago, I engaged in trademark cluelessness and ignored signals so obvious even an undersexed heterosexualist could spot them and blew a spectacularly big chance.

I have long since repented from my discredited quasireligious repudiation of love at first sight. I have gotten over that, OK? and have gotten religion. It can happen to you.

It apparently happens to me from time to time. Twice in the last decade, at least – once with a Greg Graffin manqué, another with an intergalactic visitor taking redheaded form.

The Graffin manqué vexes me because of the tremendous awe and terror I feel for the actual Greg Graffin, crooner–songwriter of Bad Religion, who describes himself, aptly, as a secure egomaniac. He’s also tall, strapping, rosy-cheeked, gravelly-voiced, and terribly smart. He trusts me to a limited extent. He cops to complicity in his own destroyed marriage. Graffin is a pigheaded, rapidly-balding divorcé, captain of a sui generis vessel navigating the still waters of a fossilized musical form. He agreed to be part of an empire I still have yet to build. I stay rather out of touch lest I jinx things more.

It is far too terrifyingly paranormal to inhabit a parallel universe wherein a 6′3″, 200-pound Graffin lookalike is not only queer but interested in me. Incidentally. Once. More than enough to cause the subconscious to spiral away. Months after the fateful miscue, a phantasm came to me overnight in which I united Greg Graffin (Ithaca resident and low-level Cornell prof) with this unnamed man, learning that he is actually called Cornel. I knew his name (and its spelling) as I turned over and marveled out loud that he was still there with me. Why wouldn’t I be? he said. That, of course, wasn’t real, but it stuck with me. It’s abnormal to remember a dream for a full year.

So the man had a name. What he didn’t have was a presence. Where the fuck was this guy? I can’t keep from running into my enemies, but I also can’t manage to put myself on the same block as a fellow who’s taller than 95% of males and 99% of fags. You’d think I’d spot him a mile away.

Right on cue for our anniversary, there he was at the streetcar stop on Saturday. Riding his bike, butchly, with his now-rather-scuffed faggy backpack still rather giving away the game. I raised my shades. In superb self-control befitting a secure-egomaniac manqué, he didn’t notice.

Who’s that riding with him? Same height, but a full head of black hair. Almost a mullet. Jeanjacket and jeanjeans. That would be why he didn’t notice. He never notices the outside world when out and about with his bfs.

Whatever happened to the Russian volleyball coach manqué? If he could be replaced, why couldn’t he be replaced with me?

We can add this to my growing litany of Fatal Mistakes. The other two concern empires that, were they in place, would already have me taking up Graffin on his offer.

Having hereby incriminated myself, it will do no further harm to state how often this Cornel fellow, if that is his real name, comes to mind. It’s not uncrippling, actually. Think Chasing Amy. It is that bad.

I rather doubt that my new Nº 2 buzzed haircut and fashionably lengthy sideburns are gonna change things.


Same planet, different worlds: B‌r‌e‌t‌t is tearing shit up, and so is some kid down in L.A., what with his dual astonishing stud boyfriends and the sizzling muscleboy crowd he runs with.

Not that it says anything about his worth or mine.


Um, why, in all this time, have I not seen a single female fireman, policeman, paramedic, doctor, or even nurse in New York City?

What, as the kids say, ’s up with that?


Taking it one day at a time

My former practice of getting one thing done a day while slightly fucked-up is thawing out slightly.

A range of uncompleted projects remain exactly that.

Gah.


By the way, the crips in wheelchairs may not have made it outta WTC, but at least one blind guy, Michael Hingson, did.

2001.09.16

The jumping myth

Did they jump or were they pushed?

I was waiting for somebody to point this out, but no one has, so it may be left to me, a complete piker and a failure at engineering and science (my junior engineering diploma notwithstanding), to put a current myth to rest.

It is unlikely that the people tumbling from the World Trade Center actually jumped. Some surely did, but they would probably be on fire (which, according to some eyewitnesses, actually happened a few times).

It is much more likely they were pushed out of the building in the same way everything else that rained down on the streets was pushed out.

Certainly a number of particularly unlucky people (there are degrees of unluckiness in this disaster) chose to jump, or did so as a kind of subsconscious automatic response. It was not the norm, nor should it be presented as the most heart-rending detail of the entire tragedy.

It should certainly not be used to make political hay, as that fulminating hatemonger Mark Steyn did:

...with some awful stories to remind us of our illusions – disabled employees in wheelchairs, whom the Americans with Disabilities Act and the various lobby groups insist can do anything able-bodied people can, found themselves trapped on the 80th floor, unable to get downstairs, unable even to do as others did and hurl themselves from the windows rather than be burned alive.

Um, first of all, just as firefighters and indeed air travelers knowingly accept a certain degree of risk, wheelchair users accept a degree of risk working or living somewhere that requires an elevator to leave. It’s a well-established concept, actually – Steyn could look up “dignity of risk” sometime, though since there is no price tag listed alongside, Steyn’s usual reference books may come up short.

And if you end up dead because your office building vaporizes or because explosive gases propel you from a window, you still end up dead. If disabled people can’t work in office towers, how would Steyn suggest we “deal” with them? Euthansia, perhaps?

2001.09.15

Since we’re all in such a sharing mood, I will admit that I am slightly fucked-up and am usually able to get one thing done each day. As to what happens to the rest of the time, I have no idea whatsoever. And I am usually calm in other people’s emergencies.

CBC got its hands on camcorder footage from some Quebecker, with full sync audio. Yes, that is the Doppler effect you would anticipate from a plane moving that quickly from just behind you to just in front of you and then stopping cold. I found it not unupsetting.

Hoping for a better day tomorrow.

By the way, I am very much in favour of all the ways of witnessing we are seeing these days. When among friends, we bear witness to what happened to us in hostile times. It’s a useful tradition (originally Quaker, from what I can tell) and is self-evidently an important way of sharing. Quite unlike television talk shows, witnessing proper only works for times of gravity or for serious crimes against the dignity, which would seem to be the case at present.

2001.09.14

Overheard overhead: Two small planes and a distant jetliner. We have our skies back.

2001.09.12

Jish: V.I.P.

For some godforsaken reason, snob–arriviste Jish Mukherji is a leading member of the Weblog A-list, widely beloved by hundreds who have never actually met him and borne the brunt of his condescension, manifest sense of entitlement, and hauteur. (The difference here: I don’t bother to hide mine.)

Poor Jishy-wishy got his feelings hurt when some American asked if he were from Afghanistan. Could have been worse: The guy could simply have socked him in the jaw.

Alarmingly reminiscent of the pampered prep-school girls Camille Paglia rails about who run home to mommy whenever someone whistles at their tits, poor beleaguered Jish, apparently bereft of any street smarts, moxie, backbone, or spleen, or indeed any ability to think on his feet, simpy crumples like a spent Starbucks cup and withers away.

If you’re Indic in appearance but are in fact Canadian, and you snub your homeland because the Americans just dangled too much money in front of my face, what do you expect, exactly? You’ll find more uneducated, jingoistic, doctrinaire Americans in California alone than similar bottom-feeders anywhere in Canada.

For reference, the correct course of action in a case like this is to say “In fact, I’m Canadian. So much for your powers of analysis.” Or you could do a Jews-in-Paris thing and lie defiantly: “Born and bred. I’m an Afghani-American and proud of it. You got a problem with that?”

Twee milquetoast upper-class-twit-in-training that he is, it’s apparently too much to expect poor Jish to think like a drag queen.

You’re all shocked, shocked that I’m being so hard on the poor lad, who, in all fairness, is stinking rich, has a roof over his head, works a good job, is replete with friends, and has not a single care in the world. Heck, even his antibodies are still jumping. (Actual quote from Jish: “Do you know what antibodies are?”) So before you get all outraged, answer a question for me: The next time somebody calls me a fag (it’s happened twice already this year), can I get the same 82 condolence postings seen on poor Jish-wishy’s site? Or is that somehow different?

Grow the fuck up, Jish. We got thousands vaporized, degloved, or liquefied and you’re all weepy because someone misnamed your country of origin. Cry me a fucking river.

2001.09.11

In 1980, Mount St. Helens blew up. Ash covered our cars as far east as New Brunswick. Pseudovolcanic plumes were added to the visual vocabulary, only rarely recalled.


Technology is not difficult

I got a HepB vaccination years ago and was surprised – at first – to see the word RECOMBINANT on the label. Well, yeah, I can benefit from genetic engineering.

On The Stand (the television miniseries), an elder survivor looks toward Colorado and realizes something about the evil survivors. “They could nuke us.”

Technology is not really difficult or hermetic. It is not that hard to fly a plane, or, in the fictitious example, hijack a nuclear warhead if 99.6% of the population is dead, meaning that 0.4% of the previous guards are still at post. Later in the series, survivors restart a power plant. This too is not all that difficult.

It is not that hard to fly a plane directly into a gigantic office tower, especially if you have two to choose from. Among other reasons, hundreds of thousands of people have aviation training. And anyone with aviation training can verbally instruct someone else. If they can talk Karen Black out of the sky in Airport 1975, they can run the same training up front for someone else.

Blowing up the World Trade Center or the OK City Fed building is technologically simple, even crude. That observation is the sort of thing people tell each other, as if they had realized it all along before it actually happened. But terrorist upgrades are not that difficult. Christopher Hitchens fully documented the abject failure of airport security systems four years ago in Vanity Fair. It is easy to hijack a plane.

Once you do so, the godlike scale of what you are doing becomes clear, like a hurricane picking up a house and tossing it a few miles away. Jumbo jets are recognizable outlines, like Mickey’s head and ears. (You can tell a 747 and a 767 apart when one flies overhead normally, let alone in a close-up shot.) An office tower is a large black silhouette. You could design your own stop-motion animation with construction paper illustrating exactly what happens when you plow an airplane into a tower. The required level of detail is low. You could illustrate it in crayon.

It is easy to illustrate and easy to do. It is merely surprising when it actually happens, though it shouldn’t be.

2001.09.10

“Fu’in’ two dollars?”

Holy shit, there’s the eetcarstray. Some lady just got in. Doors are closing.

Running right in front of him doesn’t get him to stop. In fact, standing four feet in front of him, the fucker drives right for me. This is a rail car we’re talking about. As I write this, by incredible coincidence, the television runs a PSA claiming that 53 people died last year getting hit by trains. Let’s not do Studio 54.

Walk to Jones. Wait for the next car, which, according to consensual hallucination, always arrives “soon” and never puts a dent in your schedule. To old men, “another vehicle will be right along in a few minutes” actually seems true, or even relevant.

– The other guy didn’t even stop for me, I told the surprisingly young man.

– Yeah?

After I ran across traffic to catch it.

– Oh. They’re telling us not to stop for people like that now. If you’re not right there at the stop, it’s like, sorry. People risk their lives to catch the streetcar.

I stand obediently behind the white line. The dark driver’s compartment isolates itself from the rabble behind and becomes one with the city. Very comforting.

– These days the schedules are so tight, like, you get to the stop and you know the person wants to catch the other bus, but the schedules are so tight. Before you would stop there and wait.

– Welllll, I’ve never had a driver wait for a crossing bus. No, once, at like Don Mills. Once. In all the time I’ve lived here.

– The old guys, they’ve got more leeway. I can’t do shit. They’re already on my case kuz of my sunglasses. The rule says you can’t have mirrored sunglasses, dark, yes, but not mirrored. Mine are Iridium® which is not the same, but try telling that to them.

Ah.

– Or the guys would like see you coming down the [side]street and slow down for you to get on, but the schedules now are so tight.

– You are a bit young to be driving a streetcar no-handed. What kind of young fella signs up for this?

– Well, the old guys, guys in their 40s, in a coupla years they’re gonna be retiring. I was looking at school, IT, and that was two years, and after that you’re looking at what? After a couple years, you’re making what? maybe 43, 45. I’m just under 50 now, so I figure in two years, that would be a hundred thousand I could be doing what with?

We drive for a while. He’s slowly losing his hair, which is thin in the sense of thickness between scalp and top surface but covers a good area. The naturally tight body type, thin hairy legs.

– Anyway, I’ve already got two computers opened up in my bedroom, so –

– How old are you?

– 27.

– So I mean are you gonna be a lifer in this?

– No, no, no. I’m planning on – after ten years I got some things I’m working on with some buddies of mine. I’m covering that.

– How do you deal with difficult passengers?

– What goes in there [points to farebox] got nothin’ to do with what happens here [points to his head]. I’m gonna get in a fight over fu’in’ two dollars?

– It isn’t a problem driving the night shift?

– Nah, it’s better. Driving into the city, there’s no traffic. If this was 2:00 in the afternoon, we wouldn’t be seeing that [points to unending ribbon of rails ahead], it’d be cars.

– And hot.

– Pfft. Coupla weeks ago, at 1:30 it was like fu’in’ 29, 32 degrees.

– Do you find staring at the tracks mesmerizing after a while?

– Naw, I got lots of ways to stay awake.

– Not “fall asleep.” I mean mesmerizing, like altered state of consciousness.

– Oh. Yeah.

Not a job for the young.

Somewhat mesmerized myself, I got out and walked to the Eagle. With a grin on my face. How often does that happen?

2001.09.08

Blogging is such a bore lately. Without a specific deadline, the urge to complete vanishes. Like lesbians: A lesbian without a project is a menace to society. That is how I feel these days.

Positive Bleeding

We return anew to the music video for “Positive Bleeding” d’Urge Overkill. One cannot unearth the name of the director, though Scott Makela is known to have created superexclusive type treatments.

It is a retro furniture store fantasia. It is the sort of thing Wallpaper<asterisk> would drool over if Tyler Brûlé weren’t such a big fairy, preferring twee haut-design Moog twiddlings. You can dress up and front-light coked-out model waifs all you like, but that won’t stop Tyler from shrieking “Lose the guitars, girls.”

Oh, but wait. History repeats itself. In the clip in question (apparently unavailable online), wielding oversized shades the way Spider-man wields a web spigot, Nash Kato and the lads suddenly disappear, replaced by... coked-out model waifs (in equally reflective blouses) hammily lip-synching and faking the strumming of a guitar as credibly as Uncle Miltie faked filling out a bra.

What is it about?

It’s brilliantly vague, in fact. You can project any meaning you want onto it. But the easiest interpretation is the most obvious: Positive bleeding, as in the big A. Don’t let it stop you from living it up, and don’t even bother to hide it. Wear that scarlet letter, and have a martini, for fuck sakes.

Glam rock stands as a more credible vehicle for deviant pride than disco ever could. A bit more manly, this. Yeah, well, if you dance to disco and you don’t like rock, of course your blood is tainted. Wow, what a surprise. You don’t say?

Now, smack that bitch up with a guitar and they’re gonna respect you. Respect the unexpected.


Need another hero

Why does Australian rules football work in the U.S.?

Well, first of all, I dispute that it does. But here is the explanation:

Amanda Smith: Well, if it’s true that an indigenous football code reflects something of the character of the people and the country in which it’s been created, you’d have to say that Australian football displays a kind of anarchy, and a high-flying physicality, and a love of wide open spaces, whereas American football, while it’s pretty brutal and physical, is much more controlled and grounded and grid-like, with players padded and helmeted. Has Aussie rules developed in the United States with any kind of local American flavour?

Paul O’Keefe: One of the things that’s interesting about American sports is most American sports have the hero, you know, the quarterback or the pitcher, you know, the guy that dunks the ball; you don’t really have that so much in Australian Football, you could say maybe the full-forward, but certainly not at our level. And they’ve actually taken to it pretty well, that’s one of the things that hurt soccer, was that there wasn’t a hero player. But soccer didn’t score enough for the Americans. So I think we’re OK because the amount of scoring in footy really keeps them interested.

Were that really true, then golf would be a bust, because lowest points win.


Exercises in Style

If it’s possible to employ a single medium (comix) to rearticulate the same story, then obviously we still need more typefaces.

2001.09.04

That’s my Bush!

All but inconceivable, but incontrovertible: An actual error in Spy. Fortunately, it is ten years old. Twelve, in fact.

Spy apparently also presaged Aaliyah: “No, we are not leaving my makup case behind!” shrieked Buddy Holly.

2001.09.03

What’s that supposed to mean?

– You have a cock ring? he asked.

I am, unfortunately, bereft of accoutrements. I’ve read the entire Priape catalogue. I’m always like, what would I use that for?

– No. I haven’t even tried one.

A little pause and a look.

– You should, he said helpfully in his adorable Sexe-Si-Bon accent. Imagine with a cock like that, it’s even better.

So I’m thinking:

I am a biological organism. I can go from zero to 60 in five seconds or half an hour, OK? but with new boys like you, I’m always missing the clutch. For the first half an hour, more or less. So give me a bit more time than that, huh?

And speaking of rings, you’re hardly in any position. What’s that on your finger over there?

I’m just trying to imagine the gown and veil.

2001.09.02

The mostly unfabulous life

I read many of the various invert blogs (now proliferating like lesbians’ babies). We’re much less hit-or-miss than straight people, to my great surprise, since I usually prefer heterosexualists in other walks of life.

Then again, these are mostly Americans. There are enough Americans that the prevailing homogeneity leaves more than a few mutants flapping their flagella on shore at high tide.

The cerebral introverted skinnyboy neurotic Littleminx (Chad Smith), whom I like and respect even though he reminds me of myself 15 years ago, visited a couple of the more fabulous queer-masculine bloggeurs, including the infamous Jockohomo, in mostly unfabulous Cleveland.

The Minx waxes a bit too euphoric over our boy Jocko, who isn’t that good-looking and doesn’t have anything remotely resembling an exceptional body. Very nice, yes. Nice complexion, certainly. (What’s with all the Xs?) Baggy, styleless, quasi-heterosexualist vestments. (A bit fancier and he could be a WeHo fag. Baggy is the new tight. But why be fancier? Plain is the new fancy.)

What we like are the photos of the Minx and Jocko in some David’s Beetle (first, second). The Minx has dead excellent beard growth and just the right kind of greasy retro part in his hair. Jocko, while following the Amerikanski dumb-arse tradition of riding without seatbelts, looks smart and solid. The driver is one of those sexy skinhead types.

Not one of them looks like a fag at first glance. They make a formidably sexy combo. Charlie’s Angels, you might say.

What’s the best I can do? Sportfucking with B‌r‌e‌t‌t.

2001.08.30

My kingdom for a toner cartridge

One is reading every single page of Ramon Stoppelenburg’s Gulliveresque travels. A British host undergoes the following trauma:

Sunday, August 5 turned out to be another beautiful day. My forecast, last week in Maidenhead, that the heat wave was over, was kind of true. It now was more doable to just sit in the garden and have croissants for breakfast.

Dan had taken off to continue his everlasting mission to get to buy a laser printer, which failed yesterday. [The mission or the printer? – Ed.]

I tried to convince him that laser printers are not that available in any story anymore. Everybody seems to go for the cheaper bubble-jet crap where the ink cartridges are more expensive than the complete printer.

But he finds a laser printer fast enough to be able to print long documents as program tutorials and E-mails.

Good heavens, do I know this feeling. I bought a LaserWriter IIg logic board offa eBay, and it didn’t work. Sending it back, it worked in the sender’s machine. A new PostScript Level 2 laser printer with Ethernet is at least $1,100 – essentially unchanged over the last ten years.

The inability to print is a severe handicap to a writer. It’s killing me.

Shortly, however, I will likely give in and buy a used IIg from CPUsed. At not-unenormous cost. But I will be able to print, as if miraculously caused to walk again.

2001.08.21

Queen Mother of captions, shurely?!

Previously on Homicide: Life on the Street:

I am now burning through another portion of my 15 minutes through the article by Michael Erard in the September 2001 Atlantic Monthly (p. 24) entitled “The King of Closed Captions.”

What is the article about? Me!

I am told that being called the king of closed captions is a kind of promotion. I’ll take any promotion I can get.

The article is now online.

2001.07.02

Toujours de retour

I am still working on documenting the New England trip. So far I have written 5,000 words, and that covers only one day. I would counsel patience.

Also, a few small redesigns are coming now that I have ImageReady and can commit proper typography.

2001.06.26

De retour

I’m back.

All the Access Money Can Buy” is my latest eyeglazer over at A List Apart. I am quite hurt by the reader comments. That is, I am very hurt by remarks that I am a lousy Web designer (an assertion not only never in question, but explicitly avowed at joeclark.org) and a Jakob Nielsen manqué.

A very large article recapping my world tour will emerge shortly after I cheer up a bit, restock the pantry shelves, and figure out how to do an astonishing payload of laundry.

2001.06.18

The Kapshun Kween™ World Tour

Unaccountably, I am being flown down to cosmopolitan Kingston, Rhode Island for the Ethics & the Sports Media conference on Thursday the 21st, where I will be part of a panel addressing the musical question (show tunes, shurely?!):

SEXUAL ORIENTATION IN SPORTS REPORTING & THE MEDIA

Is there a legitimate story in reporting an athlete’s sexual orientation? How does the absence of a homosexual perspective in the press corps affect coverage? What standards are used in covering homosexuality? What is machismo’s effect on these issues?

It is believed I will travel, in extreme comfort, by rail, to New York and/or Boston on the 24th or 25th, the latter to lay waste, Patty Hearst–style, to WGBH.

Approved persons may meet me.

2001.06.10

Intimations of rejoining human civilisation

Tea, if not crumpets, was enjoyed on Saturday with James Seamus McNally, the Consolation Champ. The silly man got off the eetcarstray right alongside me and failed to pick me out, despite my having complied with blind-date protocol by wearing exactly what I said I would.

I don’t understand how sweeties manage to survive in the corrosive atmosphere of the province of Toronto, with beggars and Starbucks tempting corruption at every streetcorner. James is surely one of the more vanilla lads you’d find walking down the street carrying DVDs of Requiem for a Dream and Sid & Nancy (“I look like fucking Stevie Nicks!”). But I did just write a pitch to cover the full photojournalistic implications of Boring Postcards; it is not as though I do not recognize that Dull is the new Interesting.

How deterministic. Just this week, in the same neighbourhood, “Dumb” by Nirvana played on autorepeat in my mind. (It happens. Some guys have wet dreams; my subconscious gives me a running soundtrack. Who’s better off?) The brazen gimmick of foreground cello solo acts as stunningly effective counterpoint to the lyric “I think I’m dumb, or maybe just happy.” I seem to recall my Grade 12 English teacher, a New Yorker reader even in the backwaters of New Brunswick, asking us if we’d prefer to be as we are now or “dumb and happy.”

I think plainness has a lot to be said for itself. Ostentatious plainness, of the Wallpaper<asterisk> Modernist sort, does tend to annoy, but conscientious and earnest plainness has some advantages. Unless you can’t afford anything else; if so, welcome to the big city.

(My idea of plain is unadorned walls. Except they have to be in colour. Prison is a white room.)


Today, while enjoying my only indulgence not involving leather bars, a daily double espresso, I noted that the couple ostentatiously reading every alternative newsweekly or newsfortnightly at the adjoining table were more than just inverts. They were certainly the odd couple de l’instant. The wifey role was embodied by a notably average man in his 30s who must have been called fag a few too many times growing up. The lily of his dramatic eyeglasses was gilded, in true homosexualist style, through the choice of off-tortoiseshell-coloured frames, which he later used as a pointer to track down showtimes for Swordfish in the paper.

I presumed he and the man of the house were hot on that star vehicle due to the presence of Hugh “Huge” Jackman, gigantic, strapping, jolly Australian quintessence that he is. I don’t know why wifey bothered, since the man of the house was as jackmanesque as you’re gonna find here in the real world. The facts of the matter unfurled themselves slowly as I noticed first the gigantic homosexualist biceps, but then the unexpected gigantic triceps (the differentiator between serious and casual when it comes to arm development) and what are simply the most astounding forearms ever witnessed, ending in hands like a polar-bear paw. Shoulders, a chest, lats, legs, and an arse to match. My height and a third again my body weight. Firmly packed.

And of course his own dramatic eyeglasses, in a tasteful black, to match his aggressively postmodern and ravishingly impressive segmented black nylon cargo pants. Wealth was indicated by his expensive teal ribbed T-shirt and au courant square-toed shoes. Two of three ideally-desirable extras were on offer: A substantial basket and an Italian accent.

What’s a guy like this doing with a guy like that?

They love each other. You can tell. You’re supposed to tell, if only by the way they sweep their knuckles past each other’s noses on spontaneous respective occasions. And by the man of the household’s walking down the street with his arm clenched in loving tightness across wifey’s milquetoast shoulders.

Certainly I can see what a guy like that is doing with a guy like this. He hit the jackpot.

What’s in it for the man of the house?

I guess the answer is that the Beautiful People often do not in fact demand a mirror image. That may well be what you expect from the fast-living circuit-party crowd (half of whom are former editors of the New Republic), but the lesson to take away is that there are sweeties among us.


I suppose this happenstance served as evidence that this neighbourhood is not so bad. After all, it can support Italian fags in love.


An anecdote from a forbidden period will now be recounted.

The knock against invert couples isn't just their inevitable tendency to increased bourgeoisie (if they were middle-class to begin with) or increased vulgarity (if they were working-class to begin with). The knock is the same-name relationship. Yes, it is imaginable for breeders to find themselves a pair of Pats or Chrises or, heaven help us, Danas or Leslies, but two guys named Butch are just too much.

One of the Butches is yet another of these sweetie types. (They are today’s theme, if you had not noticed.) An open, happy, smiling, and lovable man, and reasonably handsome. So lovable he is actively loved by otherButch, who’s built like the tallest dancer you’ve ever seen: 6′4½″, no bodyfat, bandy visible muscles and a giraffe’s neck with a clean-cut, freshly-barbered hairline.

He recognizes me immediately. You used to be in Queer Nation, right? Hmm; an old-timer. And you went to the Y?

You mean someone noticed I was at the Y for two hours a day for the better part of a decade? He weighs a good two-twenty and I never saw him before?

Yes, I replied, wondering what gave. Here is what gave. It was an Eyes Wide Shut moment: otherButch would have traded in his boyfriend for me right on the spot. It only got better. He’s a lawyer with a recent high-profile case, where he was simply denied standing. He was surprised and impressed that I knew, only strengthening his wish to chuck it all for me.

This truly happened.

But it lasted the length of our conversation, which took place under the very nose of bf Butch and someone mutually known.


2001.06.09

I Am Fukt

Book is stalled, summer is here, I’m not getting any younger, and none of my Web sites has been remotely amusing or valuable – since when? ever? I wrote better when I barely had enough money to live and little evident reason to.

Still, after years of inchoate thoughts in the back of the mind, I finally can put form to a thought here: When all else has failed, the single word in the English language that always carries with it a guaranteed hit of joy is disco.

2001.07.15

21st Century Digital Kapshun Kween™

My access pages now look less like the handiwork of a bobbysoxer Windows Goth.


The Ethics & Otitis Media World Tour

At the current rate, it will take me forever to document my putative business trip to New England. I want to do it to provide a permanent record of a small, evanescent conference, which then could be widely pimped by Romenesko.

Rather than fishing, I opted to cut bait and posted exhaustively complete documentation (5,000 words, kids) of my turbulent Day at GBH.


Well, fuck me. Poetically

No, that isn’t a damned Galliard ampersand macraméd on Dan’s back. It’s a Poetica swash alternate.

I got the swash part right.

That’s the second time in a month I’ve valiantly and publicly misidentified a font. It’s worse than face-planting.


Before and after architecture

Guy thinks he’s hot shit: A Skateboarder’s Guide to Architecture. Heather (late of FontShop) and I were telling the Australians about faceplants and the reconfiguring of the urban environment by sk8rd00dz (skater dudes) and trialsinists.

Amanda Smith: Heather Lowry is the co-editor of a Canadian landscape architecture magazine called Tract. Heather takes a different view to those who think that street skaters and cyclists are a blight on the urban landscape.

Heather Lowry: I personally don’t think they’re any more of a public blight than, say, a group of smokers packed around a door that you have to get through to get inside. Or for that matter vehicular traffic, as in cars and taxis and buses. I just think they’re part of the urban landscape myself, and I think they should be accepted as such.

Amanda Smith: In what ways are street skaters and cyclists perhaps reinterpreting, or even revitalising the urban landscape and architecture? I mean, are they, in your view?

Heather Lowry: In my view they are. In my view they’re looking at a bench and seeing it as something to slide upon, or looking at a handrail or something that’s meant to get someone safely down a set of stairs, and looking at it as a challenge. And I think this is very interesting, it shows that there is more than one way to skin a cat, there’s more than one way to approach a problem. And if people did spend a little more time looking round, looking at real problems, looking at real issues and looking at real ways to have fun, I think it could improve the urban life for a lot of people.

Amanda Smith: I guess it raises the question, doesn’t it, of who owns public space? Is a city mall or forecourt or square only for people who work or shop around there?

Joe Clark: Or is it only for people who want to keep the place pristine and look at all the architectural features from a distance, and not get right on top of them? Your question’s a bit difficult because there are so few public spaces truly left now in the 1990s. Very often, where we like to go in downtown Toronto, and there’s almost nothing public in downtown Toronto. Everything is owned by some private developer. Sometimes they chase us away, sometimes they don’t even notice us. Other times they sort of look the other way and let us do our thing. But to answer your question: who owns the public space? I think that any space, let’s say that business people would be allowed on during the day, skaters and trial cyclists should be allowed on during the evening. You’ve got to keep the place occupied.

And this was like in 1999. Get with the program, buster.


Utilikilts!

Were you aware that I once did Hallowe’en in hockey sweater, helmet, gloves, and stick? Plus of course a skirt? My regrets include self-incriminating choice of shoes and lack of pantyhose.

Technology at its most compassionate: Bedecked in one of these, I would fucking kill at the Eagle.

2001.07.10

My God – it’s full of ampersands!

That kooky Dan Rhatigan! He’s got:

Galliard Italic ampersandsUltraSparky’s tattoos

It’s technically a swash ampersand, or maybe Dan’s tattoo artiste fucked with the regular one, so the simulation above is imperfect. Further, one is uncertain of the exact typographic etymology (typymology – but I love words with the -yty- sequence, like stenotypy) of the Interstatësque ü.

But jeez. Kid’s got a lot going for him.


Ruby SM

I routinely lampoon the upper-middle-class twits of the Toronto advertising industry, who furthermore infested and stultified the “new-media” biz here. I will not bore you with the details, though the mental image of Nissan Maxima drivers in Dockers who order U2 tickets online (with a spare for the girl they’re seeing) and debate the merits of 1990s Sting albums will tell you all you need to know.

They got one thing right: An irksome Shoppers Drug Mart commercial features a summer street (complete with bicycle rider in shorts) amid an entirely fake snowfall. The car parked on the street?

A ruby-red Citroën SM.

The sexiest car, surpassing Ferrari anything and certainly trouncing the XKE, the SM was a Citroën four-seater hatchback with a Maserati engine. Its early propaganda set the stage for my homosexualism. What I wrote about it elsewhere was:

The possession I most want back from my childhood isn’t a sled or a teddy bear but a Citroën SM brochure – apparently available!

The book twisted the psychic knife a few more turns through the colour palettes of the postcards, either deadly-dull dun or as Technicolor-bright as Play-Doh. The deep blues, the bitable reds, the sky blue straight outta 3-D movies – the hues make my heart sing. And I mean that. I’m a visualist.

We’re talking luxurious photos of hot babes with long straight hair touching up their lipstick in the vanity mirror. Fisheye shots of the speeding SM’s headlamps as it rounds a racetrack, defying the forces of centrifuge. Scooped pleated leather seats that, frankly, always looked like lumbar torture. A hood so elongated (again, XKE be damned) it equates with a transvestite’s wig (or a Kennedy beer gut). Fender skirts, for heaven’s sake: In this pre-Insight era, they’re an affectation, not an ærodynamic necessity. The massive windscreen and backlight, the latter presaging the Corvette’s wraparound hatch, allegedly a bitch for PPG to manufacture. The olive-drab SM, hatch open for access at the country estate.

Never mind “the most cake.” I wanted to be the girl touching up her lipstick.

(Then who does the driving? A bald guy in a wheelchair?)

Last time I saw the SM in popular culture, it was introduced by the cuckolding cackle “Don’t you take my Maserati!” from Burt Reynolds’ bird in The Longest Yard. He launches the fucker off a pier. I was shocked.

On the current commercial, upon first laying my eyes on the ruby SM, I actually got a frog in the throat.

And all this is true despite my never having scored a driver’s license. Typical me.

(The funnest Citroën SM site is down in Brazil. How sexy is that?)


Elements of Stylin’

Do you write copy, wear a clean pair of Dockers to work each day, hum “Even Better Than the Real Thing” at the wheel of your Maxima, yet yearn to be down with da shit?

Money
Express in numbers, e.g., $5, 17 cents, but $1 million, $200 million, or equivalent terminology, e.g. bones, cheddar, cheese, dead prezs, dough, Gs, green, loot, bill ($100), fiddy ($50), fin ($5).
Possessives
Add z with no apostrophe, e.g. my peepz, my boyz, my shitz.

The doctor’s advice in action:

Cool Hand’s bitch also dished that Brazil is just chillin’ ’bout the Man’s move to get Bombardier’s back against Embraer by pimpin’ bones to Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. to cop 75 jets from Bombardier. Booya!

2001.07.09

Chairchasers

I was invited, as sole representative of my species, to the United Federation of Planets–style housewarming barbecue of sexy red-haired wheelchair racer boy Jeff Adams at his new industrial loft space in the shabby-chic quartier of eastern Parkdale, handy the 666.

I could not persuade my friend from Mexico to accompany me. Persons living with wheelchair are somewhat shameful in his Third World nation, and the idea that someone, anyone, could find such a person attractive is oxymoronic. Even now that he’s in Canada. (Even in the 21st century. Even after finding me irresistible.)

It is so oxymoronic that putting himself in the same room as a handful of wheelies for an hour or two was out of the question. It’s not as though he’d be alone: What am I, chopped liver?

I circumnavigated the joint trying to find the right “unit,” coming face-to-face with a fearsome alternakid with tattoos plastered from rotator cuff to carpal tunnel, and eventually found the place. Jeff’s man-sized great Dane benefited from every advantage save for a man-sized master, but we like him anyway. We also like the wife, Khrysteene, a former Amerikanski Marine photographeuse who is very petite, tankgirlesque, yet not unfemme.

Chantal Petitclerc was present, with her ur-Montreal Sexe-Si-Bon/Bouge red-dyed hair, in Franka Potente manquée stylee. A few hangers-on, including Khrysteene’s nephew and a lad far more obnoxious than I ever could be, engendered little interest.

Suddenly two wh33lied00dz (wheelie dudes) crunched over the driveway gravel accompanied by what appeared to be half a cheerleading squad. One fella’s about six-five and shaven-headed, too eager for attention, showy, a bit fake, the weeny van dyke rather quite de trop. The other lad doesn’t have any more hair but is a great Dane’s head shorter and boasts some very dramatic eyeglasses and a very sexy three-strap Timbuk2 bag. I liked him immediately.

This was not a where-have-you-been-all-my-life? moment. It was, however, an I-grok-you-immediately moment.

A total sweetie, he compensates for being new in town (from the West Coast, in the city for a race, leaving the next day) and possibly for other things by going out of his way to introduce himself to everyone. Later I wonder aloud to Jeff if this solicitousness suggests unhappiness. He’s out in a small town, faced with an overlapping Venn diagram of (available wymmyn) ∩ (wymmyn he fancies) ∩ (wymmyn even remotely willing to consider dating a paraplegic) ∩ (wymmyn who fancy him).

When you get crippled anywhere other than a big city, that’s where you have to move. It’s like coming out. You have to up your odds, widen the sea floor for your driftnet. Quit pretending you can make a go of it being the only member of your species in hicksville. It’s bad enough being the only member of one’s species at a party.

Being bald, with a superb headshape, a goatee, and blue eyes, this is a type typical grrlz wouldn’t look at twice, but a certain subsection of men would chase to the ends of the earth. Beautiful skin. Highly visible muscles in superb proportion (no surprise; wheelchair racing is a dialogue of triceps and lats). The man’s a dreamboat.

Later I chat him up. He got wrecked in a “freak” accident five years ago. (I will elide the details.) This was the late 20th century: Küblerrossian bargaining/denial/acceptance phases were passé, and it did not take him long, after the sedatives wore off, to deal. Oddly, he recalls hearing of Rick Hansen’s injury many years ago, and thought there’d be no reason to live if the shoes were on his foot. But now they are, and, while it was an adjustment, it was no trauma.

The shoes on his feet are more than props. He retains phantom sensation, I was informed almost confidentially. Apparently this is rare among paras but not impossible. There seemed to be a schtick or a spiel underway as he mispronounced “thoracic” (I seemed to be more up on the anatomy than him) and told me the man-type things he used to do were now out of the question: Couldn’t masturbate, couldn’t play hockey –

I can’t believe his forwardness. I almost blush, and I have been around. Do you lead with masturbation when you’re talking with kids? I ask him. No, actually, he replies, blushing. I wondered which other strangers he shares this with. I retained decorum and asked for no details. (What about the phantom sensation? And you do know you can still have sex, right? Then God help us if he asks me how I know. One must not offend the lad, make him feel cruised, or pry.)

Like nearly everyone, he’s never seen The Waterdance, the combined Old and New Testament of crip cinema. He’s notably ericstoltzesque, nealjimenezesque, and doesn’t know it.

Chatting him up about photography – his hobby – went pretty much nowhere. He was more at ease discussing his dream of becoming a high-school science teacher.

Here is what I found touching. In a crowded party, even a Toronto party ruled by tense little conversational cliques, the man spent half his time chatting up one of the cheerleaders. These two were not barricading themselves against the other cliques. They were not settling for each other. They were trying to figure out how to rearrange their lives so he wouldn’t have to jet home the next morning.

(Would one night be enough?)

The other wheelie got the fuck up off the couch, finally (in a wheelchair household, actual places to sit are at a premium), and I plunked down between the cheerleaders, a scant three feet away from the Man.

Instantly the other cheerleader introduced herself. I guess she didn’t notice I was queer. Not right away.

– So how do you know these fine people? I ask.

– Oh, I’ve been around wheelchair sport for years.

I glanced at her over my plastic cup of virgin water on ice and thought, I didn’t know the crips had puck bunnies now.

I asked the cheerleader if the two seated right next to me fancied each other.

– Oh, I hope so.

We had a discussion about my friend who wouldn’t come to the party, and debated whether grrrlz or guys had worse first impressions about the crips. I thought girls might be more forgiving up front but would then start to worry about having him get it up. She asks me a question.

– Well, would you consider going out with –

A noticeable little pause.

– a guy or a girl in a wheelchair?

It’s neither here nor there, I told her, deciding for the hell of it to leave everything gender-neutral, and certainly skipping my many anecdotes (the Irish amputee, the tall tipsy fag). A little ambiguity is a luxury, particularly when deep undercover in a screaming red shirt, white pants, and black vegan Doc Martens. (The tall bald wheelie looked way more queer, actually. And did you know he can cross his legs, stand up, and walk?)

– Well, I’m one to talk. I’m a chairchaser, the cheerleader tells me, almost with pride.

I see.

Anything that moves, I guess. Sorry to disappoint you here, honey. If you can find me a bent version of this lad over here (and I do not refer to his spinal column), I’ll let you get back to the big game.


The absolute kicker? I was made privy to an especial photo album with a metal cover, which I faux-sarcastically derided. A serious mistake, also vaguely hurtful. It contained wedding pictures. Khrysteene glows with love, and even Jeff looks onside. The couple holds a certificate of marriage from the state of Georgia.

Well, fuck me.

2001.07.08

Bronzé

The nouvelle formulation moutardée hereby soft-launches.

In lieu of writing 20,000 words on my New England trip, I have read Anthony Bourdain’s scathing, screamingly hilarious Kitchen Confidential: “And of course we all dearly love to play with knives.”

Vegetarians, and their Hezobollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It’s healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I’ve worked with is brought down by any rumour of a cold. Oh, I’ll accommodate them. I’ll rummage around for something to feed them, for a “vegetarian plate,” if called to do so. Fourteen dollars for a few slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini suits my food cost fine.

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