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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Television 2011: A Year In Review

I watch too much television. I feel the need to apologize for that, like it is a bad thing. I recently went to a holiday party where I knew very few people and made the mistake of mentioning a television program I had recently seen to the person seated next to me. The person said ‘I don’t watch television’ and then turned away from me and looked the other way. So, I apologize for watching too much television. Because it is (apparently) a bad thing.

That said – I enjoy it very much. I sit for hours and hours watching television. (Sitting is the second favorite thing I like to do with my butt.)

Here is a summary of those hours and hours:

Favorite Shows

American Horror StoryYes, the scripting is like something that poured out of a word Cuisinart and everyone is terrified that there is no way they can tie it all up and make sense of it (oddly they did). It is so over-the-top and so much happens in such little time that there is no room for characters to develop at a natural pace – but who the fuck cares? This is a lot of fun. A show with everything for everybody. Jessica Lange and Frances Conroy are outstanding. I mourn the loss of Jamie Brewer’s character, Adelaide. The rest of the cast is also first rate.

SuburgatoryThe primary relationship is a bit off (Father and Daughter? Ummm… Parental Boundaries?), but I like the world the writers are creating. It has a long way to go (and may not get there), but definitely worth watching. The neighbor girl across the street? Fascinating. Standout episode: Thanksgiving.

Happy EndingsInteresting cast. Interesting gay character. Interesting style of banter. Enters and exits like a Tasmanian Devil on a coke bender. Sometimes the characters grate on me - these are annoying people, but they each have a soft inside and that keeps me watching.

CommunityGreat cast, one that actually mirrors the name of the show. The writing is creative… sometimes too much for its own good. It would be a shame to lose this one.

Parks and RecThe sands beneath these characters are constantly shifting. How the actors manage to make it all work baffles me, but they do make it work. Started as an Office wannabe – became something even more likable.

30 RockTina Fey. Tracy Morgan. Enough said.

AwkwardA world I was never privy to before. Covering some of the same territory that Suburgatory covers, but doing a much better job.

South ParkWhen it is good (You’re Getting Old, Broadway Bro Down), it is very, very good. When it is bad (Bass To Mouth, Funnybot, Royal Pudding), it is a total train wreck – and not the fun kind (like American Horror Story).

Bob’s BurgerCharming. I love the kids. And the wife. I wish Louise Belcher could run for president (If only cartoon characters could. – oh, wait… (Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Thomas Cain, Newt Gingrich)? They do. They do.

WorkaholicsStrikes me as another kind of Always Sunny, but I like the cast. Sophomoric, juvenile. Extremely sexist. Umm… why do I like this? Oh, because the dudes are so comfortable with their homo-bro-ness. That, and they talk about their junk a lot.

Raising HopeLove the cast. So glad they have brought Cloris Leachman back from the zoned-out Alzheimer’s edge. She adds so many dimensions to the show – it would be a shame if she were rendered simply a vehicle for old-people poop jokes. Martha Plimpton has long needed something to showcase her talents! This is her “Medium”.

Cougar TownThis needs to come back. The cast was very funny, the writing sharp. I like all the characters – which is surprising considering they all are privileged white people (even the non-Caucasian ones), but then that same criticism applies to 95% of television.

The MiddlePart of the 5% (along with Raising Hope). In all its Malcolm in the Middle wonderfulness. When Patricia Heaton remains part of the ensemble, the show works – when she pushes her way to the front of the stage, it gets awkward – she tends to chew the scenery or become stilted. Perfect example of this – the episode with Marsha Mason as her Mom – it should have worked, but didn’t. That said, the whole cast is first rate, with the five family members each shining the brightest.

The Walking DeadI like zombies. I like survival. I like this show – when they stick to those two things. Soap opera bullshit? Not my thing. All I want to know is… when do they get to go on a free shopping spree at the mall?

Guilty, Guilty Pleasures

Tosh 2.0Tosh is the reason to watch. The clips are just the cringe-worthy moments his shtick is wound around.

The SoupJoel is the reason to watch. The clips are just the cringe-worthy his shtick is sound around.

Fashion PoliceJoan Rivers is… ummm, still alive. Kelly Osborne is cute as hell. The gay guy is sweet and inoffensive (another new gay stereotype I am liking) and the stick figure on the end has just enough personality that someday I may actually remember her name (although it seems to me she is on every show on E, including some gawd awful thing with a husband – so I think all the rest cancels out any good will she earns for being on Fashion Police).

The Romance Is Over Award:

How I Met Your MotherUgh. Can you all move on to something else. This is awful, painful to watch. When it is on, I keep looking at the clock and wonder just how bored the writers were when they thought this episode up. How could something that started out interesting become so bloody staid?

The Romance Is Waning Award:

Modern FamilyThe shape of the show is so established – as soon as the major plot points are highlighted, the audience can just fill in the blanks and come to the same happy, warm, smarmy, overly-privileged conclusion each week. ABC could save itself a lot of money and just let the audience do all the work. None of these characters ever really have any struggles worth giving a shit about… so why should I? How could something that started out interesting become so dull and predictable so quickly?

The Romance Never Got Started Award:

Two Broke GirlsGawd awful writing. Gawd awful ideas. Gawd awful characters. Is it 1980? Kat Dennings? Gawd awful. (Horrible Actress.) Matthew Moy, Garret Morris, Jonathan Kite? Total Embarrassments. (Horrible Stereotypes). In this day in age how could anyone think this was a good idea? How could something so… gawd awful still be on the air?

The Not Really... Award:

Allen GregoryI pay close attention to this one. On so many levels it is repugnant. The way the gay community is portrayed makes me squirm – only because I think they may have hit the preening-overly-privileged, class conscious, designer label conscious, queen thing right on their shaved, almond-shaped heads. The show sends so many mixed messages. Are they for us? Or against us? Or do they just hate everyone? Except exceptionally handsome, under-employed gay boy toys? Because other than that character – everyone else is just repulsive.

The Quirky But… Eh Award:

New GirlI hate Zooey Deschanel. There, I said it. Hate She and Him. Hate her cotton commercials. Didn’t hate her in Elf. The rest of this show is just so uninteresting, you find yourself praying she’ll appear soon. Wants desperately to be Happy Endings. Desperation is never pretty.

The Quirky and I Hate It Award:

WhitneySomebody cancel this piece of shit already. It reminds me of that time when Bette Midler, Joan Cusack, Paula Poundstone, etc. tried to have sitcoms. They all flopped because they failed to capitalize on what made them endearing in the first place and relied on standard, sitcom form. Whitney? There never was anything endearing to begin with… so… pull the damn plug already. The corpse is cold.

Can’t Seem To Watch You, Though I Really Should ListLouie
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Breaking Bad
Children’s Hospital

Can’t Seem To Watch You… At All:

Up All NightI love Christina Applegate. I love Maya Rudolph. I love Will Arnett. Then how can I resist this show? Oh, yeah… I forgot. I hate sitcoms about how difficult it is to be a parent. Because breeding is optional, you know.

Time to Pull the Plug Nominees:The Simpsons
Family Guy

How I Met Your Mother
Already Dead, But They Just Don’t Know It Yet Nominees:Whitney
Two Broke Girls
The Cleveland Show
Mike and Molly
Saturday Night Live
Reality Television

Show I Will Be Bitching About Next Year:Work ItHaven’t seen it. Don't want to. Don't need to. It already has me cringing. Really over the whole "I have fake boobs and testicles and can't walk in heels" comedy. How awful can television be? This awful.

Worst Thing(s) to Happen to Gay Television:

The A-List: New York, The A-List: DallasOkay, so I look the other way when confronted with the preening stereotypes that are being passed off as positive images for gay folk on Modern Family. I cringe my way through Allen Gregory (being gay? Not a choice!). I even smile on occasion at those wacky ass young drag queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race. But The A-List: New York? And The A-List: Dallas? This is gay-bashing at its all-time worse. And it’s being perpetrated by our own beloved LOGO? What? LOGO couldn’t find enough money to fund more Jeffery and Jeffery – or pay off all the money owed to the cast of Sordid Lives so we could get more of that fun stuff – but they will throw money at these overly-privileged, spoiled-rotten, reality-deprived, lazy-assed, talentless (apologies to Mike Ruiz – who should know better than to associate with this kind of shit), narcissists. Fuck you, LOGO. You do such a disservice to your own people: people you claim to serve. You should be ashamed of yourselves. And grow the fuck up. This is not reality. These shows do not represent real gay people - this is the kind of gay you shove down America’s throats and then wonder why everybody hates on gay people. Want to know why America doesn’t think gay people should marry? Watch these shows.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Music 2011: The Year In Review

For me, personally, it was a very good year in music. I listened to a whole lot of new stuff and, in fact, went out of my way to force myself out of my comfort zone. Doing so, I discovered a lot of wonderful stuff and some not so wonderful stuff.
15 Favorites
This is a list of favorites, not a best of list. “Best of” would seem to designate some type of superiority determined by a set of criteria. These are simply the recordings that caught my attention and held it, so I recommend you seek these out and decide for yourself.

Okkervil River: I Am Very FarI love this album. It’s got a lot of Roxy Music influence, very glam – but not in an obvious way.

Girl in A Coma: Exits and All The RestWow. I was so impressed by this. It puts them in the same class as The Pretenders and Concrete Blonde.

Wye Oak: CivilianThis one is like sinking into a nice warm bath.

Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks: Mirror TrafficOkay, so the vocals take a bit getting used to, but you cannot deny the joy and skill that exists within these songs.

Devotchka: 100 LoversAnother album that I just fell in love with. It’s sweeping and romantic – but not in a cliché’ way.

Wilco: The Whole LoveOkay, so this is weird, but I really thought about Pink Floyd throughout this entire gem. This is a very mature work. I like Wilco? Really? Since when? Since they grew up, I guess.

Adele: 21You can’t argue with this one – other than it feels a little too on the nose. I liked it immediately, more due to the songwriting than the rather labored vocals. Where is she going to put all those Grammies?

tUnE-yArDs: w h o k i l lQuirky to a fault, I still found a lot to love.

Destroyer: KaputtYeah, retro 80’s to a fault, but I love the Pet Shop Boys.

Cut Copy: ZonoscopeI’m a sucker for stuff like this.

Peter Bjorn and John: Gimme SomeClever. Clever, clever, clever. Some of the best pop songs I have heard in a long time.

The Joy Formidable: The Big RoarWhat a pleasant surprise. Big rock with some nice tasty pop licks. Can’t wait for more.

St. Vincent: Strange MercyThe album Kate Bush should have made.

The Black Keys: El CaminoA surprise. I thought they would always be stuck in 1972. They have graduated to 1977, bringing the whole retro/early 60’s/new wave vibe to the table.

Joe Henry: ReverieVery cabaret, very theatrical. I enjoyed it, and in many ways, this is the album I wish Tom Waits had made this year.

Favorite Singles
I was thinking this was a bad year for pop music, but it is all relative. While most of the music I heard on the radio annoyed the hell out of me, there were some that I relished every time they aired. And, yes… female voices kept things interesting this year.

Lonely Boy – The Black Keys
Pumped Up Kicks – Foster The People

Rolling In The Deep / Rumor Has It / Someone Like You / Set Fire to The Rain - Adele
Till The World Ends / I Wanna Go – Britney Spears
We Found Love / S&M – Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris
Domino – Jessie J.
E.T. / The One That Got Away / Last Friday Night - Katy Perry
Edge of Glory / Marry The Night / Born This Way/You and I – Lady Gaga
Papi / On The Floor – Jennifer Lopez
Secret Love / For What It’s Worth – Stevie Nicks
What I Heard / Mother – Blondie
Fly / Super Bass / Moment For Life – Nicki Minaj
Novacane – Frank Ocean (Yes, I know it’s just “Blame It (On the Alcohol)” by Jamie Foxx – but I like it)
Motivation – Kelly Rowland
Give Me Everything / International Love – Pitbull
Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera
Fuckin’ Perfect – P!nk
You Make Me Feel… -Cobra Starship Featuring Sabi
Stereo Love: Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina
In The Dark – Dev
Sure Thing – Miguel

Favorite Song of the Year
I Love You (But I Don’t Know What To Say) – Ryan Adams
Guiltiest Pleasure
Burlesque Soundtrack (Thank you, Xtina and Cher. It was awful… awful wonderful!)

This turned out to be an excellent year for veteran acts. Sure, these entries didn’t spring a whole lot in the way of surprises – but then, they are veterans – and the reason they are still around is because they can deliver the goods consistently. Sure, nostalgia plays a part, but the craft and skill demonstrated speaks louder than the soft spot these artists hold in my heart.

Emmylou Harris: Hard BargainJust lovely. Yeah, a little too safe and polished, but so what.

Robbie Robertson: How to Become ClairvoyantLush and polished.

R.E.M.: Collapse Into NowNot quite the return to form they promised, but solid none the less. They had a great run.

Blondie: Panic of Girls75% perfect pop – I could do without the reggae affectations and the French tickler, but hey, it’s Blondie, so that crap is part of the package.

Stevie Nicks: In Your DreamsThe first two songs on this CD are the reason I keep believing in Stevie. After that, it is hit and miss, but then – hey, it’s Stevie Nicks, so… goes with the territory.

Paul Simon: So Beautiful Or So What
Kate Bush: Director's Cut / 50 Words For Snow
Wanda Jackson: The Party Ain't Over
Lucinda Williams: Blessed
Foo Fighters: Wasting Light
The Cars: Move Like This
Tori Amos: Night of the Hunters

Favorite Dance
Here is where the year got weird. The Best of Dance? It was all over the radio. Sure, the clubs played the remixes, but the radio mixes got major play… on the actual radio! Dance music was everywhere – more mainstream than ever before. So check out my favorite singles and there you will find the best of dance. Okay, so there were a few exceptions to that rule and here they are:

One Hot Pleasure – Erika Jayne
Fade – Kristine W.
You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me – Cher
Call Your Girlfriend – Robyn
I’m Into You – Jennifer Lopez
Arrow Through My Heart - Eddie Amador & Kimberly Cole feat. Garza

Thank You’s
Not the best of anything, in fact, in some cases, the worst of the genre – but they brought joy to my life and a smile to my face. I admire pop craft and always will. No one is really immune to this stuff.

Katy PerryWhat a year. What a collection of pop gems. Yeah, she can’t sing, but that doesn’t seem to matter much these days. Every single from “Teenage Dream” eventually clicked with my ears. Yes, it is formulaic, because IT IS pop music, and what is pop music except a formula? And yes, her voice is shrill and flavorless. Eh. Get over it.

Britney SpearsBritney had almost as good a year as Katy, delivering her best in ages. Yeah, I know, she really doesn’t sing, but when the beats are this good – who cares.

Jessie J. – DominoThis is basically Katy Perry with a British accent and a purer sense of fashion. That said, the world could use a lot more Katy Perry – who doesn’t like to smile?

Kelly ClarksonI love pure pop, so what is not to love about Kelly Clarkson. Yes, her vocals tend to get a little strained on the extended long notes and her attack is rarely subtle (in fact, it’s become downright workmanlike), but I still find myself getting lost in the froth.

Lady GagaShe certainly kept us on her toes. Some of what she did, I had to question (what was with that Thanksgiving Special?), but she and her handlers are a bunch of very smart cookies. The new Madonna? Naw. There will never be another Madge, but Gaga has managed to stretch her 15 minutes quite a bit and in a number of tasty, satisfying ways. Sure, she tries too hard, but, unlike many an established star, at least she puts in some effort.

Nicki MinajSo, initially wrote her off as crass, vulgar, and obnoxious. But the fact is, she has a great talent for creating a lot of drama and licks that serve as ear worms that burrow their way into one’s brain. Very talented and I think she is the heir to Mary J.’s throne.

Jennifer LopezYeah, I know – kind of a spent dime, and as a biscuit – one full of empty calories. That said, she delivered three great cuts this year. And while only one of them really struck a chord with the bulk of listeners, they were all undeniably fun.

12 Also Rans
This is a list of albums that I remember liking, but something about each one of them held my enthusiasm in check. Still, they remain some of the best releases of the year.

Crazy Clown Time - David Lynch

The Decemberists: The King Is Dead
Death Cab For Cutie: Codes and Keys
My Morning Jacket: Circuital
Lykke Li: Wounded Rhymes
Raphael Saadiq: Stone Rollin'
Givers: In Light
M83: Hurry Up We’re Dreaming
Ceromonials: Florence + The Machine
Wild Flag – Wild Flag
Yuck – Yuck
Ryan Adams: Ashes & Fire
Dum Dum Girls: Only In Dreams

I expected more from these artists and these releases. Is that fair? Either I feel they failed to live up to their full potential (Gaga), are coasting (Scott), are disconnected from themselves (The Strokes), or simply chose to go in a direction they shouldn’t have (Waits and Bjork).

Jill Scott: The Light of the Sun
Lady Gaga: Born This Way
The Strokes: Angles
Tom Waits: Bad As Me
Bjork: Biophillia

Anything Bruno Mars smeared his feces onI cannot wait for this man’s 15 minutes to be over. He has a collection of the worst lyrics ever. His image, along with his music, is cribbed from others who got there first. His voice is annoying (though on occasion it reminds me of Rod Stewart). That said, he has a gift for arranging and melody. Still. I would be happy if I never heard from him again. Suck on some morphine, Bruno.

Anything Chris Brown smeared his feces onYeah, he’s talented. (Beautiful People was awesome!) Yeah, he can dance, has a voice, and a knack for pop that makes your ears prick up. But he’s a total douche. And an unrepentant woman beater. Fuck you, Chris. (Oh – it sounds like a certain rapper already did!) Thank you, Martyn!

Eminem CollaborationsThis trend take a (Bruno Mars/Skylar/Rhianna/Kesha/Lily Allen/Whoever) chorus and wrap a couple of lame raps/verses around it (whether they have anything to do with the chorus or not) sucks. Eminem just happens to be at the heart of two of the worst offenders. “Lighters” is awful. Dr. Dre’s “I Need a Doctor”, barely tolerable. What distinguishes these from the other dreck (5 O’Clock in the Morning, etc.) are the totally annoying angry-white-boy whiney raps perpetrated by Eminem. I mean, c’mon. Nobody with that much money is that pissed off all the fucking time. It seems he could have developed more of a range by now. He’s become Johnny-two-note, vacillating between being pissed off and comatose.

Radiohead: The King of LimbsThis has a lot to do with their appearance on SNL. Pretentious. Laughable. Embarrassing. Oh, and regarding the CD? Unlistenable.

Coldplay, Mylo XylotoThis has something to do with their appearance on SNL. Pretentious. Laughable. Embarrassing. Cringe-inducing. Nauseating. Tiring. The CD is okay, it’s just so… pompous, overdone, strident, bombastic, over-produced, and shallow. If I wanted that, I’d listen to U2.

Drake: Take CareStop it, already. My ears are tired. When the man steps away from the machine I will start listening again.

Tyler, The Creator: GoblinUnmitigated nonsense. Absolute trash.

T-Pain: rEVOLVErEvolution takes guts and a need for growth. Desperation to remain relevant and land another hit? Not so much. Auto-tune has always been annoying. T-Pain takes it to the extreme. He actually had four singles released that failed to catch fire, so they didn’t make the cut for this CD. Best Love Song? Worst song.

Jay-Z and Kanye West: Watch The ThroneTwo of the dullest talents in rap get together and… umm. WTF? Percy Sledge is turning in his grave. What could have been a wonderful homage is rendered embarrassing. Undercooked and lazy to the max. I am amazed these two could tear themselves away long enough from their mirrors and empires to even bother dropping these rhymes. Production-wise their ‘throw in everything, including the kitchen sink’ approach doesn’t help. Paris? What does it mean? It doesn’t mean anything. That makes it annoying – not exciting.

Beyonce: 4A Shrill Drill. B-Bouncy delivered the most unlistenable album of the year. Goats singing the phone book sound better than this. The woman doesn’t sing, she bleats. Her inability to deliver the most basic lyric with any sense of meaning continues to baffle and amuse me. Some of the worst musical ideas ever committed to a CD.

Wiz Khalifa: Rolling PapersDuhhhhhhhhh

Don’t Get It
So there may well be something to be said for each of the following albums – it’s just not what I would say. These are the favorites of many critics, but CDs that left me in the lurch. The blame may be all mine to bear, but I failed to connect in any way to the following:

Bon Iver: Bon Iver – Boring, Somber, Dank, Lifeless
Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues – Derivative to the point of redundancy
James Blake: James Blake – See “Bon Iver” If I want to feel this way, I will take valium
Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi: Rome – Cliché, Overblown, Silly, Embarassing
YACHT: Shangri-La – It’s like the just got their first Casio tone keyboard and want to impress us
Panda Bear: Tomboy – Ummm. Huh?
Fucked Up: David Comes to Life – Like a scrambled radio signal you can’t tune in no matter how much time you spend doing so
Low: C'mon – Boring, Derivative
Thurston Moore: Demolished Thoughts – Just awful. What was he thinking.
PJ Harvey: Let England Shake – That voice. Oh, God… that voice.
Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring for My Halo – See “Fucked Up”, oh, and boring as hell
Beirut: The Rip Tide - It was okay, but too subdued for my taste
Das Racist: Relax - A real shame, a wasted opportunity, failing to deliver the goods as promised

Favorite sites to listen to stuff first:
Seek these out.

NPR Listen First
We Are Pop Slags
Muso’s Guide
Paste Magazine

Saturday, December 10, 2011

In A Van, Down By the River…

Remember Chris Farley? The supposed successor to the John Belushi throne at SNL? The fat guy who would do anything for a laugh? He had a character, Matt Foley, an abrasive, over-the-top, totally inept inspirational, motivational speaker who was perpetually down on his luck and living “in a van, down by the river”. That was his catchphrase and he pulled it out constantly in an attempt to ‘scare-straight’ troubled teens whose inept parents misguidedly would hire him and invite him into their home.

The phrase, “in a van, down by the river” always captured my imagination. Every time I see one of those white panel-sided vans, I inevitably wonder two things: 1/ is it one of those vans that cruise playgrounds and kidnap school children? And 2/ what would it be like to have sex in the back of one of those?

While sitting in such vans in the past, I have bravely suggested that the back area offered plenty of privacy for a quick fuck, but the owners always gave me a weird look, remaining steadfastly behind the wheel before guiding my mouth down upon their cock. Still the fantasy remained. It is part of that same family of fantasies that include one where I get invited into the cabin of a big rig truck at a highway rest stop and then get thoroughly fucked in the sleeper compartment. That is a fantasy I have yet to realize. But as for the van, down by the river…

Yep. Check it off.

It is mid-week, and while I have been having a lot less sex, I have not sworn it off completely. It has been 23 days since I decided to hold back on having sex and during that time I have only had sex twice! Considering that I would have probably had sex at least 18-20 times in 23 days before that point, you would have to agree that I am making progress and making good on my promise to abstain. But I remain horny – and that itch still needs to be scratched occasionally.
The promise I made to myself was to curb the number of sexual encounters and save it for only dudes who were truly worthy of my ass! The first guy I broke my no-sex streak for was an on-off sex bud of mine. He’s what I consider a superior top – aggressive, dominant, a little rough, and really well hung. The week before I took my vow, we had tried to hook-up. He ended up standing me up twice in one day! But when you’re as good as this dude, a bottom makes a lot of excuses for bad behavior and looks the other way. So when he hit on me, I douched and got my ass to his place as soon as I possibly could. It was so well worth it! The man fucks like a maverick. I also allowed him to take pics. In the end, we both got our cookies and went our separate ways. He is an exceptional top, so, naturally, I made an exception.

The other exception? Fulfillment of a long time fantasy.

There is something seedy about vans in general and that seediness makes for some hot fantasy material. When I pull into the parking lot of one of my usual cruising parks – one that just happens to run along the shore of a major river, I spot this white van right away and park two spots down from it. I look over and, due to the quality of light, can only make out the driver’s profile. He has a very angular looking face and I find it impossible to determine his age. I note that he has a full head of hair and I am not repulsed, so I decide to watch him. He notices me staring at him eventually, but again, due to the distance and quality of light, I can’t make out what his intentions are – so I wait.

A Bronco-style vehicle parks on the other side, next to him. There’s something going on in that vehicle that captures the van driver’s attention for quite a bit. I bide my time and focus on the messages I am getting from various members on Scruff and Grndr. Eventually the Bronco-style vehicle drives off and the van driver’s attention is once again on me. At this point we are the only vehicles in the parking lot, so I decide that if anything is going to happen, it needs to happen now. I pop my trunk and get out of my car under the pretense of getting a bottle of water. As I return to the front of my car, I pause and give the van’s driver a deep stare. There’s something about his reaction that makes me feel a bit braver and I take a couple of tentative steps toward the van door, before deciding to just go for it – risk rejection and get it over with.

The van driver is a compact, wiry type. If he was considerably younger I would call him a pony boy. But he’s not. He does look like an east coast tough, though; vaguely Italian-looking, with rough, angular features. When he was younger he must have been a real babe. Fortunately he’s older now, which means he’s ready to settle for the likes of me. I never really get a beat on just how old he is, but when he asks my age, I tell him the truth and he tells me I hide it well. I take that as a compliment. He hides his age well, too, though I am pretty certain his number is a bit higher than mine. He’s wearing a tight leather jacket and a pair of jeans. Standing outside the passenger door my eyes go right for his crotch, which looks like it holds quite a nice package. Taking note of where I’m looking, he starts rubbing the front of his jeans. I take this as an invitation and climb inside.

The first thing that strikes me is the fact that the man smokes. The ashtray is overflowing with spent butts and the air is potent with the stench. I decide I can live with that and settle into the passenger seat. We make small talk: very small. Then I reach over and take over the rubbing of his crouch, and discover something very big! This is typical of pony boys – or in this case, former-pony boys. They have short, tight, wiry, compact bodies equipped with generously sized dicks. Because of the tightness of his jeans, I am unsure just what direction his dick is pointing or just how long it is, but I also didn’t get much of a chance to explore, because he unzips and hauls that monster out like the prize it surely is. It’s ten inches with a nice sized knob and while it’s not skinny, it is not so wide that it doesn’t slide down my throat with relative ease. In fact, it goes (or rather I do) down so easy that he gasps when I reach the base in what must have been record time. Whenever I am able to deep throat an exceptionally large cock I am always tempted to ask the owner how frequently he meets someone able to take the whole thing, but I usually resist, probably because my throat is preoccupied and I’m unable to speak.

His hygiene is good, which surprises me – generally smokers are less than on point when it comes to keeping things tasting and smelling good. He shaves his pubes and his nuts hang nice and low. I run the skin of his sack through the fingers of my right hand. It feels amazing. I check in with him to make sure he’s comfortable with what’s going on and he indicates that he is by lowering his jeans past his knees and spreading his thighs wide. I go to town, quickly running through my arsenal of tricks and methods, just to demonstrate for his benefit that he is indeed in for a good time. On an up stroke, I catch sight of the Bronco-style vehicle pulling back into the parking lot.

Wasting no time, he pulls right next to the van, on the driver’s side. Checking in with the van driver to see if he wants me to continue, I return to the upright position in my seat while scoping out what’s going on. It’s at this moment that I start checking out the back of the van. My eye catches sight of some red plaid flannel and I am thinking there just might be some kind of camping mattress under the various tools and equipment that is strewn about the back of the van. But I don’t really get to contemplate this much more than that, for the van driver remains exposed for the world – which in this case consists of the driver of the Bronco and me – to see. He tells me it’s cool and that I should get back on his dick. Turns out he’s a bit of an exhibitionist and wants to put on a show for the driver of the van. Well, never one to shy away from an opportunity to show-off my skills, I take great relish working my throat up and down the length of his magnificent member all the while catching the eye of the man in the Bronco. You see, we’re at a perfect level. The driver of the Bronco can definitely see what I’m doing and I can definitely see that he’s palming his dick while he’s watching. He’s Asian: kind of fleshy, but young, maybe late 20’s, with a roundish face. From what I can see, he is not very well endowed, but what do I care. I got me some – and I am more than satisfied with what I got.

The show goes on for about five minutes when the van driver starts to ask questions and make suggestions. Do I have a place we can go? (No) Do I like to get fucked? (Hell, yeah!) Do I have condoms and lube? (Always.) Would I like to get fucked in the back of his van? (Ummm… gee… FUCK YEAH!) Why don’t I go over and suck off the Asian dude while he cleans up the back of his van? (I don’t want to, but I walk over and talk to the Asian dude for a few minutes anyway. He hides his dick as I approach and it turns out he’s a watcher/jerker and has no interest in any physical contact which is fine with me. I head back into the van.)

The driver of the van has now decided that we need to go elsewhere to play. I’m cool with that. Before spending about five minutes moving stuff around in the back of the van, he suggests that I follow him to the parking lot of a nearby home improvement store. Waiting for him to leave first, I then follow at a reasonable distance.

He parks in the back corner of the expansive, sparsely populated parking lot. I pull in near a small grouping of cars, probably those that belong to the store employees – based on their distance from the entrance to the actual store. Grabbing my little kit of goodies from the back seat, I head over to the van. Yes, the van is no longer down by the river, but it is a van, so it more than fulfills my fantasy. Hopping inside, I am pleased to see that the van’s owner has done a remarkable job of straightening the place up and that , yes, there is indeed a blow up mattress covered with a red, plaid flannel sheet. Quickly, I jump in back. The van driver is already laid back on the mattress, propped up on a pillow. His dick is sticking out of the open fly of his pants so I immediately go down on it. My abilities must awaken other possibilities, for soon he’s shucking those jeans down in order to allow me more room to work with. Again, I cannot help but be impressed by this man’s appendage. It is a thing of beauty, with just the slightest curve. Seriously, every time is glides down my throat I feel like I am eating an entire Thanksgiving meal – it is that comforting and satisfying.

He’s letting loose with a set of encouraging tones, obviously appreciating my efforts. Mid-swallow, our eyes catch and I decide to risk a kiss. I’m surprised when it’s returned. As a kisser he holds back just a bit, but is much better than I’d hoped. This latest development has me shedding my clothing at an alarming rate. I can’t wait to get that fuck stick wedged deep in my ass. I help him with his clothing as well. It’s a bit of an awkward struggle, but the combination of fantasy fulfillment, non-traditional sex locale, the dude’s big dick and general hotness has me working my way through it with aplomb.

The van is parked facing a fence, so it is unlikely that we will be seen through the windshield. We are also low enough in the back that, unless someone approaches the van and peers inside, we are not likely to be seen through the driver’s or passenger window. Yes, the sun is fading, but it is still very light out. All those windows make the exhibitionist in me very happy and my dick is hard as a rock the minute my clothes leave my body.

I return to sucking him, and really, would be happy if that is how he ended up coming. Relishing the power I have over him, I take him to the edge twice, before he insists that it’s time he use my other hole. I grab the lube as he unsheathes a condom and work a finger in my hole, showing off a bit while doing so. Appreciative, he begins rubbing his uncovered dick on my exposed hole. In response, I rub his dick along the crack of my ass. Every time it grazes my readied fuck hole a jolt of excitement courses through my body.

I tell him, “You don’t have to put that (condom) on yet”, as I want to suck on his dick a little more. And I do, for a couple more minutes, but he seems really intent on using my ass and turns me around. So I haul out my poppers and take a couple of deep whiffs, my head down and my ass pointed in his direction. I am really prepared for it to hurt, because I haven’t been fucked since my encounter with my fuck bud the week before. It must have been the poppers, or the finger fuck I gave myself before he enters me, or that his dick is just the perfect length and girth, but that motherfucker slides down my shoot so smooth it had us both gasping.

Now, he is considerably shorter than me, so that might account for some of it, although I think the actual spatial limitations within the van may also have a lot to do with it, but his thrusts are kind of on the shallow side, as if he hasn’t enough room to get a decent amount of leverage in order to pound my ass. I try to help the situation, by taking over, by fucking back onto his dick. This has the unfortunate effect of causing the vehicle to sway. Since we are in a public parking lot, I’m not counting on others honoring the adage, “if the van’s a rocking, don’t come knocking”, so we change it up just a bit, and though stilted, I find his thrusts more than satisfactory. After about ten minutes, the animal in him kicks in. He pushes down on the small of my back and really takes my hole to task. I’m working my dick and loving it as his cock rams in and out of my slicked up hole.

He announces he’s about to cum, and I am on the edge, too… so I’m all for it. Ramping up the intensity ever so slightly before coming to a screeching halt, he emits the most erotic, guttural of sounds before picking up where he left off. Satiated, I beg him to stay in me as I shoot my load, which he does, flexing his dick inside me a few times, which gets me off big time. He pulls out… and, me, fearing that my ass may not have been all that clean – the big ones tend to stir things up in there a bit more, you know – I turn half around prepared to whip that dirty condom off his cock. Only, to my surprise, there’s no condom. Seems he misunderstood what I meant when I said “you don’t have to put that on”… yet. I had assumed that he was pulling it on as I was face down in my bottle of poppers. Oh, well. He’s unfazed by it, and I remain mute. The only reason I felt comfortable letting him fuck me was because I assumed he would have the condom on… not, as you may well know, if you have read other postings on this blog – that I necessarily object to barebacking, but because I was unsure of just how clean my hole was and the last thing I want is to have my fantasy fucked up because I left my top with a dirty dick. I check, and thankfully, his dick is squeaky clean. I thank my lucky stars and immediately go down on it, just to make sure it is indeed clean. He’s lying back again, and part of me doesn’t want to let go of that magnificent member, but hey – we both got our cookies, so it’s time to go home. I clean up with a couple of wet wipes he hands me, clean up the cum I shot all over his flannel sheet, and get dressed. We make small talk and in the back of my mind I wonder if I will ever get the opportunity to do this with him again.

I say my good-byes and head back to my car, where I quickly pull out the old Listerine, take a deep swig and gargle. I hold the liquid in my mouth and throat all the way back to the park. Once there, I grab a couple of bottles of water and head to the porta-potty so I can douche. I expel what he deposited and turns out the dude shoots a big load. Maybe next time I can convince him to shoot on my face. After I clean out my hole, I head for home. Part of me knows that every time I pass by that park now I will be praying to see that white panel van, because this is one fantasy that more than lived up to my expectations and bears repeating.

That or I need to find me a big, macho trucker who wants to see me on all fours with my ass in the air in the privacy of his sleeper cabin!

Aren’t fantasies the best?

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Bible and Anne Coulter: It Takes a Whore to Know One

Thanksgiving morning, I was in church, in a particularly good mood – enjoying the unusually warm weather and in the mood to soak up the energy created when people gather. Sitting with the choir, I made small talk with the bass player until service began. The sun was pouring in through the windows above the altar and all seemed right with the world. Mass began. I was in good voice. As the readings began I buried my face in my hymnal; going over the psalm that was to be sung – it had a very pretty melody and part of me wished I would one day get a chance to sing it when I cantor.

Then we got to that part just before the gospel is read, when everyone touches their index finger to their eyes, lips and chest. I must have been absent that day in catechism, because I never learned to do it, and though I get the gist of the gesture (bless my eyes, my lips, my heart?) I never developed the habit to mimic those around me. Why, I wondered.

It occurred to me that I don’t bother with that particular gesture because it bestows some magical power upon the text that is about to be read. I don’t bother with that ritualistic movement for the same reason I bury my face in my hymnal – checking out copyright dates, composers, and trying to sight read the music – each time a reading from the bible is presented. It’s because I don’t hold that book in all that high esteem. I get the basic lessons it imparts, have for years. Each time the reader or the priest launches into a reading, I discern the meaning behind that particular reading, acknowledge how it relates to my own life, and then turn my attention to my hymnal.

How can I be so callous? So presumptuous? So sacrilegious? Is it because I’m gay? Not really. Because I am a hedonistic sinner? Ummm… naw. My disregard for the highly regarded book stems, not from my lack of moral compass, but from my understanding of the history, origin, purpose, and creation of that particular text.

The bible is not the word of God. It is the word of man – and in this particular case, the word of many, many men (and maybe a few women, but I doubt it, given the overall sexist nature of the many of the passages). The basic lessons to be imparted are quite valuable, much like those found in Aesop’s Fables. However, the bible, unlike Aesop’s Fables, has been subject to a lot of tinkering and padding. The men that helped shape this text over the years have managed to infuse these tales and lessons with their own not-so-hidden agendas and biases, which has resulted in the vilification and exclusion of certain segments of the population. And so it becomes rather confusing. All are welcome? Did God make me? Does God love me as I am? In spite of what and whom I turned out to be? Am I, indeed a child of God?

Well, no. Not according to the bible. Or at least some folks interpretation of the bible. Fortunately, the church I attend has a priest that seems to steer away from the more exclusive parts of the bible. For a Catholic church? It’s pretty damn welcoming. There’s a hymn we sing quite often entitled “All Are Welcome” and this congregation really embraces and lives that message.

And that’s as it should be.

Yes, I’ve heard that whole ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ creed. I don’t find it very comforting. In fact, I think it’s something people came up with just so they could feel superior to someone else. It’s a bogus theology. Especially when it comes to gay people. You either accept us as God made us, or you’re really not all that in tune with the basic lessons the bible has to impart. Either you accept us as children of God, just as you have presumed yourself to be, or you’re a bloody hypocrite. In which case, I feel sorry for you – those who live life as a hypocrite – for yours is a burden of woe. I don’t know how you can live a life of such conflicting truths – either you are a Christian, or you are not – but I accept you as you are because as a sexually active gay man, I too, live a life of conflicting truths. I think hate, like wanton sex, must feel really good, otherwise, why would anyone pour their energy into creating and sustaining it? I believe that those people who live their lives condemning other children of God must really get off on that emotion. Apparently, just as I believe God made me gay and that it is not a choice, so God made them hateful hypocrites put on earth to distort his good works and lessons. (It’s okay, Michele and Marcus Bachmann. I don’t like you or what you do, but I do understand.)

And to take that last assumption one step further, I would like to theorize that what Michele and Marcus, and the Dr. Laura’s, Limbaugh’s, O’Reilly’s, and Coulter’s (aside – did you know that if you Google “blonde hateful republican pundit”, Ann Coulter’s name is at the top of the list?) of this world are really about has NOTHING to do with the word of God, or moral stewardship. They are just media whores, hungry for power, fame and – above all else – money. For that is their true God – MONEY. They may fool themselves, along with a lot of gullible others, but money really is the only thing (other than fame and power) they truly care about.

That – their money, how they achieve it, their need for it - doesn’t make them evil. It merely makes them human. In fact, it makes them the kind of people that the lessons of the bible does such a good job warning us about. And as such, we need to understand them. That said, I wish I was a good enough Christian to forgive them, too. To just let them be. But I am a flawed human, too. And I can’t. Like the Dixie Chicks – I’m Not Ready to Make Nice.

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I'm not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I'm still waiting

And I am waiting. Waiting for the day they own up to being the money-hungry media whores they are. For therein lies the difference between us. I own my shortcomings – I am a sexually compulsive, hedonistic, grudge-harboring, flawed human being. However, as much as I dislike the hate-filled, divisive rhetoric that spews out of their mouths, I still understand that they are children of God and products of God. But for me to forgive them? They first need to cop to their brand of whoredom the way I own mine.

Yes, it takes a whore to know one.

I’m looking at you, Ann Coulter.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Seven Whole Days - And I'm Feeling Fine!

It’s been seven days. No sex. And I feel great.

In fact, this whole thing has been a lot easier than I thought. I assumed I would be climbing the walls, itching to jump on anything and anyone I found remotely attractive. Instead, it’s been like a great vacation where you don’t have anything planned and have no commitments you need to attend to.

What I don’t miss:
The anxiety inherent in the logistics associated with setting up and getting to a hook-up.

I’m not on my laptop, so any technical glitches – i.e. connectivity, sites not loading properly, uploading photos, etc. – poof, gone. I don’t have to Mapquest anything or expand my knowledge of parts of the cities I have not been to before. The actual frustration of driving to a designated site and parking? Not my problem anymore. Racing against the clock to get there at the time you said you would? Not me. Not this week, anyway.

Sweating the STD thing.If you’re not getting fucked or having a dick rammed in your mouth – what’s to worry about? Well, yeah, my recent past could catch up to me, but something tells me I skirted this issue. It has been nice not spending the whole week wondering if that dude with the scuzzy apartment and dim lighting left me with a parting gift when he showed me to the door.

Burning all that gas.I’m not sitting in a park parking lot idling my engine. I’m not driving all the way to Coon Rapids to scratch that itch. My car is in the garage when I’m not working, and that is saving me some bucks.

Wasting my time on-line.Not that I’m doing anything special with my newfound freedom, but it’s nice not being tied to a phone app or glued to my laptop. The days pass by much faster, but that’s okay, because they seem a bit sweeter, too.

Wasting my emotional energy on-line.I try not to sweat the little stuff. People on-line are fairly bogus, obtuse, and tend to be rather sketchy no matter what their chemical state may be. But rejection is almost always a self-esteem killer. It’s been nice not to have to read between the lines when some dude who was way into me suddenly stops responding to my emails.

Being ever-vigilant regarding my body hair maintenance regime.Did I mention that I finally got a back clipper and shaved my back? Yes. Once. I will probably do it again, but now it will be when I want to do it, and not because I have to do it. Same with shaving the boys and buzzing my chest hair. I like doing that, I like how it looks, but all the anxiety I felt about having to do it every other day? Gone.

Douching.My hole is so happy to be on vacation. That was such a chore. I can’t tell you the amount of frustration that has vanished. No more ducking into public restrooms to double check the fuck-ability of my poop shoot. No more wondering if I douched enough or too much. No more wondering if I’m going to show up on time only to discover that I’m not good to go. Next time I shove water up my love canal will be for some special occasion. Or maybe because I fell in love with a recently purchased zucchini (Veggie Love!).

Disappointment.Turns out - no sex really is better than bad sex. I love that I haven’t had to perform for someone out of obligation. No mercy fucks. Nor have I had that sinking feeling when I open the mystery date door only to discover that ‘football player’s build’ translates, not into Aarron Rogers, but into Refrigerator Perry.

Lack of sleep and feeling worn out.Sex is a lot of work. It takes its toll on the body. So I’ve discovered that the exhaustion I frequently felt come Friday has less to do with my work week than all the fucking around I tried to accomplish during the week. Also, I am sleeping better, because I am not all jazzed up from being on the internet desperately-seeking-human. That on-line cruising frequently leads to unmet expectations and needs which cumulate into frustration which then causes me a restless night. I like my zzzzz’s

Yes, I realize this is a little too early in the game to start proclaiming victory, but hey, seven days in, I am feeling a lot less frustrated than I thought I would be. It kind of goes to my whole ‘I am not a sex addict’ stance. The dude on that ‘Bad Sex’ show on LOGO was going bonkers after two days.

I do worry that I’ve reached this state, not out of a real desire to limit the number of sexual encounters I engage in, but due to my age. You know, like some version of male men-on-pause? I would want to rally against the fading of my mojo by over-compensating. Which may be what I have, in fact, been doing. But I don’t think so. I’m still horny – as evidenced by the three very sexual dreams I had this morning before waking and the incredible stiffy I had pressed into my mattress for most of the night. So it’s unlikely that waning libido is the cause of my current relaxed state.

In conclusion, I’m happier for doing this. So, I do believe I will continue to abstain from getting on-line or cruising for sex in parks. If I have sex, I want it to be special, not just the daily special.
Seven days! Here’s to seven more!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dancing Naked With the Trolls: A Change in Course

And now for something completely different?

Well, not completely different. More like a change in course, or at least a correction in direction. Yeah, I know… we’ve been here before, blah, blah, blah… but bear with me.

I handed myself over to the idea of being a complete slut this year, and it has been fun – for a while. That is, until it got so mind-numbingly boring that I feel I have no choice but to change. That or fall asleep during one of my less-than-inspirational encounters. Granted, they have not all been bad – in fact, some of them have been incredibly original experiences and first–times for me (perhaps I’ll be sharing a few of them in the near future). But the bulk? Oh, my! And, yes, you could say 50% of the responsibility was mine, but, that said, I believe I did bring my A game every time. Unfortunately, there are a lot of liars out there. There are a lot of misleading pictures out there. There are a lot of erroneous stats out there. Also – and this is common sense – returning to the same well repeatedly will only yield more of the same water.

Bottom line? I look at the clock, I look at the calendar, I estimate the amount of time I have left on this planet, and find myself wondering – is this all there is? The answer would be no, of course not. Thank God, I still live a life where most of my time is my own to decide what I do and where my energies go. In considering my behavior since, oh, about 1998 – I would say I have been squandering a good deal of it. Twelve/thirteen years is a long time to pursue something with no end in sight. So, I think it’s time to make a change.

It could have to do with an episode of ‘Sex and The City’ I saw recently that’s inspired this. Samantha Jones (slut supreme) is taking yoga and has the hots for her instructor. Turns out that the instructor is celibate, has been for three years, and practices a form of tantric sex. He claims that not having sex is even hotter than having sex. That thought caught my attention. It reminded me of something I’d experienced in my youth.

I recalled the time when I was a senior in high school and I made a deal with God that if he got me to the finals at the State Speech contest that year, I would refrain from masturbating for the duration of the time it took me to get there (about three months). I was good to my word. I didn’t shoot my load for three months – which, given the perpetual hard-on I walked around with at the time, was an amazing feat. God kept his end of the deal, too. He got me all the way to the final round at the State Contest.

Storytelling was my niche and that year the theme was the Brothers Grimm. At the local, district, and regional levels, I had come in first each time, thus securing a place at the State contest. I’d managed to do this the previous year, only to be eliminated before the final round at State. This time, I wanted it to be different. As a senior, this was to be my last grab at the ring.

In the first two rounds I lucked out and snagged what I considered my best story – something that had me, at one point, reenacting a party thrown by a group of trolls. I did my best Saturday Night Fever poses, singing a snippet of ‘Staying Alive’ in a highly-pitched dwarf voice – it never failed to bring down the house. That day was no different – the bit killed. I felt pretty confident waiting for the announcement of those who had made the cut for the final round, but, having been disappointed in the past, I tried not to get my hopes up too high. The results were posted; I made the final round.

I went to draw for my final story. I pulled one story that I had done before, but didn’t feel very confident about, the other I knew quite well, though it lacked zing. I went with the latter, hoping that my skills and style would make up for a less than fascinating read. The moment – and I do mean, the moment I finished my story I made a beeline for a restroom I had scouted out during a break. It was on the lower level of the school, tucked under a staircase. Wearing my finest, three-piece suit, I stood in front of the restroom trough and worked my dick with my fist until I shot my load. Now, I had been teasing my dick for the entire three months – edging without losing my load, so I was definitely primed to go. However, once the shot that should have been heard around the world went off - I was quite disappointed. I had imagined my ejaculate flying with such incredible force as to cause major damage to the wall in front of me. This was not the case. As anyone who ejaculates knows, saving up one’s load does not guarantee an incredible orgasm. Turns out my cum had congealed in my balls, so it came out in a series of fatty, pearlescent globs. Jizz, yes, but certainly not the super-soaker of my dreams. It also didn’t feel as wonderful as I had anticipated. I thought it would be reminiscent of the first time I ever shot my load – when I felt the world momentarily melt away and was pretty certain I was dying. But the linoleum beneath my feet did not open up and swallow me that day. In fact, as orgasms go, it just felt… average. Granted, at that age, I could have just gone for round two immediately, but I did not want to get caught jerking off at the trough and the award ceremony announcing the winners was about to begin.

So, long story short – standing on stage at the end of the awards for my category were me and this other dude – a soft, bookish, John Denver-sort whose very essence seemed to scream intellectual. His style was the polar opposite of mine; quiet, sweet, gentle, and rather lulling, while mine was bombastic, physical, and used voice caricatures for all character dialogue. It was his name that was called for the number one spot, I came in second. I immediately blamed my premature trough ejaculation for my loss. Oh, if only I had waited! On the long bus ride home, my coaches, who were rather absent with praise, handed the score tallies for all the contestants in my category. Round one – I came in first place. Round two – again, first place. I’d won both the first two rounds, while the eventual winner had placed dead last in one of the rounds and fifth in the other. I should have sailed home with first place easily – but in the final round – two of the three judges HATED me, one giving me last place, the other one place above it. The third judge placed me in the middle of the pack. If it had not been for my two first place rankings in the preliminary rounds, I wouldn’t have placed second. And then I did the math. Turns out I lost by one point. The story of my life.

Oh, if only I had waited. (Naw – they just liked the other dude better. That’s the way it goes.) So, yeah, the story doesn’t end as well. Yes, technically God kept his promise, and due to this experience I’ve learned that if you’re going to make a deal with God, then make it to win!

I had also learned that denial of sexual release was kind of exciting. Something I think it might be time to revisit. So… I’ve decided to enter into a deal with myself – no, not that I won’t be jerking off, but I will refrain from having sex with other people. So no more warehouse visits. No more on-line cruising. No more sitting in my car in the parking lot cruising. No more Craigslist ads either. I need to reinvent myself sexually. Sexually speaking, internet hook-ups have become the culinary equivalent of hamburger helper. I need to try harder. No, I don’t want a relationship. LTR is not for me either. Rather, I need to be sexual in a less obvious way. I also need to spend my time doing good works – or at least something other than trolling on bbrts every chance I get. If my identity as a sexual person is my brand, then I’ve been diluting my brand in the market for way too long now.

But don’t worry. I will still have stories to share here – past exploits that were definitely blog-worth that I never committed to paper. Or not. We’ll see. I’ll also be keeping you posted on how my desire to take a vacation from internet sex progresses.

I did recently come to the conclusion that I am not a sex addict.

I watched this program called ‘Bad Sex’ on LOGO. The first person they profiled was a gay dude struggling with his obsession for hooking up. I didn’t see myself in him. I have a lot of other things going on in my life. He did not. He seemed very selfish, myopic, and narcissistic. And, yes, you could accuse me of being rather narcissistic due to my insistence on writing about myself on this blog, but selfish and myopic I am not. I do a lot of volunteer work, and I put the needs of others ahead of my own quite frequently. Yes, I may resent the hell out of having to do so, but I do the right thing – and not just when it’s convenient.

Given that, this change isn’t some desire to curtail my perceived sexual addiction. It’s just a challenge. A new way of looking at something. A way to get out of the sexual rut I have been mucking about in recently. Change is a good thing. No, it’s not always easy, but I think life without a little struggle is… well, boring. So, no more warehouse parties for this one.

I guess you could say that my days dancing naked with the trolls are over.

One day at a time… and this time? No deal with God. I’m on my own with this one.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Returning to the Past What Belongs to the Past

Last week I finally did something I have wanted to do for a long time.

You see, I had these cassette tapes that really did not belong to me. They contained demos of various songs I’d written, as well as rehearsals and performances with this punky / pop / rock group I used to sing with in my formative years. We were all best friends, had been since high school. We’d been playing together in various line-ups, under various names – having taken our love of music to what we thought was its logical conclusion, by forming a band.

At the time, we were all in our second year of college and living together in a house right across the street from the campus. Despite this proximity, I still managed to skip as many classes as I had enrolled in, frequently showing up only for mid-terms and the final. I was heavy into the theatre department and involved with a woman who saw something in me I did not see myself. The atmosphere in the theatre department did not exactly encourage one to embrace one’s homosexuality, and I was struggling big time. Still recovering from my first romance – with a beautiful Italian actor from the Guthrie I met when he visited our school on tour – I was pretty much an emotional mess. The actor walked into the backstage shop one winter afternoon and it was love at first sight. For the next six months I traveled around, meeting up with him whenever his touring schedule and my rehearsal schedule allowed. It ended badly, with me telling him I did not want to be gay. My cowardice broke both our hearts.

That was part of the reason of why I was a psychological mess. I even made a half-assed attempt at killing myself by taking a handful of sleeping pills. The other reason I was such a mess? I was also emotionally in love with my best friend. We’ll call him Robby. Robby was a farm boy with a great deal of intelligence and a thirst for anything rock and roll had to offer. No, we didn’t drink or smoke or party all night, but we did listen to the music of those that did. We also had a keen appreciation for the DIY attitude of the punk scene and got swept up in the idea of creating our own band.

In many ways, Robby rescued me from… well, I’m not sure. But he befriended me in 8th grade. At the time I had a few friends – three guys that it would turn out were the other gay guys in my class. Ironic, huh? Anyway, that clique – well, I guess we were the girly boys. Robby’s clique was the brains. I was not that great of a student, but I was somewhat clever. Not sure what he saw in me, but Robby adopted me. I remember very clearly the day it happened, for my former best friend – we’ll call him Martin, looked at me and shook his head “no” – as in, he would not be joining Robby’s group, even though I definitely gestured that he should.

Martin and I had been best friends since the 4th grade. I think we were rather emotionally enmeshed. We depended a great deal on each other and were probably in love with each other, in a non-sexual way. I was kind of upset that he wouldn’t sit with the rest of Robby’s crew, but I was also determined not to miss an opportunity to break away from the girly boys and get absorbed by a larger, much more highly-esteemed clique.

Martin and I drifted apart and Robby and I became best buds – much to the chagrin of his two former best friends. I think it was because I made him laugh and because I had a tendency of being borderline inappropriate and a bit loud. He turned me on to Bowie, the Stones, the Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed. We listened to anything we could get our hands on. One of our favorite activities was purchasing cut-out albums in bulk through the mail and dividing up whatever came in the box – some of which eventually found their way beneath the hub caps of our cars; an experiment in vinyl appreciation.

By our second year in college, I had become one of the walking wounded, while Robby remained blissfully upbeat and grounded. Moving into that house and sharing it with our other bandmates? A bad idea – one I regretted almost immediately. I had such a need for privacy and was hiding so much of whom I was… that, coupled with my struggle to reconcile my sexuality and my emotional ties to Robby, the situation became unbearable for me and I announced, rather abruptly, that I was moving out. My name wasn’t on the lease, Robby’s was. He never forgave me for ruining that situation. It was the end of our friendship. I packed my things quickly and in doing so, snagged a bunch of tapes – some original comedy sketches we created (we were obsessed with Monty Python), some song demos, some rehearsal recordings – that really did not belong to me.

As the years went by, these tapes came to haunt me. They represented Robby’s youth and I had robbed him of them. So, last week, I did an internet search – a little creeping on Facebook, Linked-in, and the like, and figured out where he worked. I knew he was in the cities. We’d run into each other once in the late 80’s in a video store. I was all glib and friendly, and he refused to talk to me (who could blame him). Years later I learned that he had been in a band and the lead singer had fallen ill and died. Robby gave the eulogy at his funeral. I think I read that in City Pages… anyway, for many years, I was aware that he was still living/working in the area. Also, based on his educational background, knew what kind of work he likely was engaged in. So I tracked him down, and sent the tapes to him anonymously with a short note thanking him for his friendship, explaining how much it had meant to me, and how sorry I was that things had ended badly. I signed it with only my first initial. For the return address I had used the name of one of the characters I used to play in our comedy sketches. I made it clear who it was from, but there is no way he could ever find me – not that he would want to.

I did want him to know one thing… that he had saved my life. His friendship and acceptance meant the world to me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he had kept me from drifting into despair for the longest time. Our love of music gave me focus, eventually leading to theater. That focus prevented me from feeling hopeless. It also got me out of the house and away from an abusive home life. Had Robby not chosen me? I don’t know what I would have become. Maybe just another gay-suicide statistic. I know he ran a lot of interference for me – he had sway with a lot of different cliques and therefore, they were less likely to pick on me. But aside from that, it was his clear, bright, shiny outlook that made me believe that life was supposed to be fun. We laughed a great deal and spent our high school years alcohol and drug-free. We got good grades and excelled at a number of things. His presence in my life made me a better person. I just didn’t appreciate it at the time enough and had lost sight of that completely by our junior year in college.

But that’s life. Our paths divided. I made some bad choices and hurt a number of people; something I would continue to do for a number of years, until the day came along when someone hurt me so deeply that I would see the destructive nature of my behavior and make some drastic changes.

Sending those tapes to Robby? It was like putting something to rest. Returning something to order. Gaining real closure. I can let that part of my life go now. And I forgive myself, too… at the time, I simply did not have a good understanding of how the world worked. I, like a lot of people, still spend way too much time mulling over all the paths not taken, the crappy outcomes, the missed opportunities. However, I don’t believe that regret is a total waste of time – it helps us not repeat the same mistakes ad nausea – provided we're willing to own those mistakes. It helps us recognize the wrongs we have done, admit that we’re terribly flawed and human, humble ourselves, and even give us ideas on how to make amends. I also know that when making amends one must tread carefully – as in, do no harm.

I don’t harbor any fantasies about repairing the many relationships that I have destroyed during my lifetime and resuming those friendships. I’m not the same person I was – I am better; more aware, more comfortable in my skin, more enlightened, less stubborn and selfish. And that person doesn’t fit well with those in my past – because they became better people, too. So, I won’t be showing up to my high school reunion – ever - or going back to some theatre to relive my glory days. I don’t belong with or to those people and places anymore. In this particular instance, I was able to achieve a type of closure – a closure not always possible.

Someone once said the past should remain the past. And I agree. But in order to keep the present free of distractions, sometimes we have clean-up those nagging leftovers from the past when the opportunity presents itself.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Beau (April 1st, 1997 – August 19th, 2011)

I promised I would never leave you
And you should always know
Where ever you may go
No matter where you are
I never will be far away...
- "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) by Billy Joel

So, at some point I knew I was going to have to write about this.

You’d think, after the events of last year, that I would be better at coping with this type of thing, but, no. The way I manage just seems to keep changing. The way I grieve? It’s bordering on the self-destructive side of things. What happens to grief when one is no longer merely sad?

This one. It leaves me… bankrupt. I simply want to roll into a little ball.

You see, my life began, again, when Beau came into it. Before that, I was living through a period of an all-time low; uncommitted to continuing – I didn’t see the point. Back in 1996, life as I had known it was over. A vapor. For some reason I was still alive, but wasn’t sure why. I felt I had nothing to live for.

And then, one day, in the fall, I was on my way into a local Menards to buy an area rug to warm up this awful little apartment I had just rented in a shitty neighborhood in South Minneapolis when our eyes met. His were so large and scared. I recognized the look, for it was the same one I had seen that morning in the mirror as I prepared to shave and get on with another day. A frazzled woman was holding him, with a small girl clinging to her side. They were all three just standing there in front of the main entrance to this store. I approached and asked what kind of dog it was and her reply startled me. “Do you want him?”

He was a four month old Rat Terrier/Chihuahua mix brought up from North Carolina. He was absolutely adorable. They had to get rid of him because they had just moved into a motel that didn’t accept dogs. At the time I was not all that sure that I was physically or emotionally ready to take care of a dog, but I told her that I would think about it as I shopped and if the dog was still there when I finished, maybe I would take him off their hands. Truth was, I had already fallen in love with him and just wanted to buy some time. I shopped quickly, for I was really hoping he would still be there when I got through the check line.

He was. And I had just told the woman that I would take him, when this old woman walked up and said “I just lost my dog. I want a new one. I’ll take him.” Part of me wanted to fight for him, but then part of me continued to wonder if I was ready to take on such a responsibility. Maybe the old woman could provide a better home, a better life. Maybe the fates were stepping in to ensure that this little guy had a great life.

So I let the old woman take him. I gave her my number and told her to call me if it didn’t work out. I watched as the little girl cried as the old woman took the dog and the dog’s toys. His name was Bobo.

The next day, as I sort of hoped and expected, the old woman called me and told me to come get the dog. She had four steps she had to go up and down to get to her yard, and she didn’t want to risk that on an on-going basis. I drove to Richfield to pick him up. I was very excited. I walked into her house and there he was; his eyes still as big and scared as ever. But I also caught a glint of something else. Something joyful. I scooped him up, grabbed all his things, and made my way to my vehicle.

Once inside, he settled down on my lap immediately. He wasn’t scared. As we drove away, he fell asleep and I thought, wow, he must be a very experienced traveller. I told him that I would never leave him. That he would always have a home with me and that I would do my best to provide a safe and clean environment. And that he would never go hungry or want for anything.

And I did. I kept my promises. I got my act together and created a better place for him, and in the process, one for myself, as well. Within a year I was out of that crummy apartment and Beau (as I renamed him), had a fenced in yard and lovely place to live. He was the start of my new commitment to life and to living.

We travelled a great deal together. I worried about him whenever I had to travel without him, never quite trusting whomever I arranged to take care of him. I was as protective as I could be.

He survived being attacked by a pit bull. We were walking in a park and the owner of the pit bull lost control of his dog. It was an ugly, messy, scene – one which sent both Beau and me to the emergency room. He survived a series of seizures during his first year. I spent a lot of money at the U of M trying to find out why he would suddenly only be able to walk backwards before rolling into a little ball of pain. It was freaky and terrifying to witness. Fortunately he grew out of it.

He was smart. I taught him a series of tricks, including “Bang, You’re Dead” and “Kill The Baby”. He was a quick study. He loved his toys. And he was nice. He would growl at babies and puppies younger than himself, but other than that, he loved everyone. Trusted everyone, instantly.

He had so much personality. He was one of the few dogs that I’d ever met that actually smiled. He had such poise, too. I’ve never been so smitten in my entire life.

But years go by… and as they do, we tend to take for granted that the one thing that has been a constant source of stability, acceptance, strength, joy, and love – will always be there. The last three years of his life it was like living with a hostile adolescent. He loved his brother Paco, and even welcomed Mona, but when they died, he was the only dog again, and I noticed how attentive he suddenly was again. I think he really wanted to be the only dog. Then Millie came into our lives and took a lot of attention.

Beau knew I loved him. I told him often enough. I would imagine my life without him and simply ache. I didn’t know how I would handle it.

On a crisp, Sunday morning, I had the dogs out in the front yard with me, talking with a neighbor over the fence. The conversation ended, I took Millie back in the house, but left Beau to sniff around the front gardens. A few moments later, I heard Beau make a lot of noise. Some people were walking two large dogs past our front gate. Beau must have been racing up and down the length of the fence. Suddenly I heard him yelp, as if he had been hurt. I raced to the front yard. The people with the dogs were walking away, as they did, one of them said, “Oh, for heaven’s sake, it’s not that bad.” But it was. I picked up Beau and knew, right then and there – it was the beginning of the end.

Multiple trips to the emergency vet and my regular vet. Not a good candidate for surgery; enlarged heart, age. Nothing they can do. The pain meds make him loopy. He can’t stand to pee. I sleep on the floor next to his bed. The vet takes him off the pain meds. He’s in a great deal of pain and cries. I put him back on the pain meds. Six days of this. No more.

We make that final trip. I talk to him. The vet gives us lots of time to say good-bye. I tell him, “I always thought we had more time.” He’s 14 years old. 14 years, 4 months, 19 days. I didn’t have a birthdate for him, but I estimated that he must have been born around April 1st, so I chose that as his birthday, and we celebrated it every year.

My little April’s fool.

I handle it all much better than I thought. At least, on the face of things. But secretly – and now, not so secretly – I’m crushed. My self-destructive tendencies are running a bit amok. I do a great job of covering it. But it will catch up to me. Sooner. Later.

The house is so quiet now. No more shedding dog. No more barking as I prepare the dog food. One less dish to prepare. No more hopeful glances from across the room. He was only 10 lbs., but emotionally, he took up a lot of room in my house.

Yes, I regret not taking him for more walks (he loved them so). I regret choosing to do things over spending time with him. I regret that I couldn’t make him the only dog in my house. He had a wonderful life. That’s what everyone tells me. But I know it could have been better.

And mostly, I blame myself. Had I not left him in that front yard he wouldn’t have twisted his back. He’d still be here. He was a very healthy 14 year-old. He was the best dog, ever.

Millie and I manage. At first, she spent a lot of time looking for him – trying to find his scent. She’s blind, but she knew something had changed. I don’t think she misses him much, if at all, now. Still, the house seems so quiet. And when I’m not there, I’m sure she notices that being alone is different without Beau around.

I notice it, too. Even with Millie sitting on my lap, I feel, very much – alone.

So, I haven’t been able to write much since August, 14th, the day Beau injured himself. My mind feels fragmented; my focus non-existent.

I don’t know what comes next. I don’t want to regroup. I don’t want to hunker down. I don’t want to refocus on something more positive. I don’t want to go to therapy. I don’t want to go to the doctor’s. I don’t want to take pills. I don’t want to do… anything.

I don’t. And then I over-indulge in something that is not healthy. I do things that don’t feel good.
But then – I don’t feel much. Not much of anything. So, does that mean I’m handling it? Does that mean I’m doing okay? It’s like waiting for the flood wall to burst. Am I punishing myself? Or is it because I can’t feel anything… so doing something that makes me feel worse, something hurtful… is feeling something bad better than not feeling at all?

So, what happens to grief when one is no longer merely sad?

Stay tuned.

And like a ship out on the ocean
I'm rocking you to sleep
The water's dark and deep
Inside this ancient heart
You'll always be a part of me