EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE (a 1983 moment)

If you’re under 30, you will probably not understand the full impact of the following sentence. As one gets older time takes on more (and less) significance. It was in my early 30’s that I began to feel a bit frightened by how fast time passes and also how the farther a moment grows in distance — the closer it can sometimes feel. As an example, as I walked down the street today I thought back of an experience which I remember quite clearly. Actually, it literally feels like this memory could be from last week. But, I found myself almost tripping over my own feet when it occurred to me that this little memory was from over 24 years ago. And, how strange that something that was actually fairly unimportant in the scheme of my life lingers so strongly in the banks of my memory.
I can even pinpoint the month and year of the memory — and I know it was on a Friday. However, I do not recall the full date. But, this little memory is from April of 1983 when I was still 16 years old. I will share this memory on my blog, but I feel the need to provide some background.

What led to this memory took place in the summer of 1979. I had just smoked a couple of ‘J’s” with three friends. We decided to roam the ‘higher end’ of the block which was actually a maze of town homes that all looked exactly alike. I lived further down the street in a nice town house, but not as upscale as these. I think we were debating a bit of stupid defacing of public property when we heard a girl doing some form of cheerleading. We walked out of the haze of upper-middle-class-maze and saw the funniest thing taking place on a lawn across the way.
And, this is when I first met “L” — An awkward looking girl who had to be my age but was dressed in clothing better suited to a younger girl. Her breasts were trying not to bust out of a sort of odd Osh-B’Gosh ensemble, her long black hair was parted into huge pony tails, she was sporting a pair of giant-sized owl type glasses which were perched at the tip of her nose, her lace up brown shoes matched the odd dress but her bright pink tube socks had that “special” sort of look and she was jumping about holding a glitter-ized baton. To make matters worse she was calling out some sort of odd cheer. Years later she would tell me that I was acting several years older than I should have. Probably true. But, it didn’t seem that way at the time.

This was “L” and she was lost in this moment. She didn’t notice us gawking at her. One of my annoying stoner friends wanted to do something cruel. I remember lightly kicking him. He probably would have hit me had our female friend not done the same thing to him.

I walked away from my friends and headed toward “L” — she was still oblivious to me. Being a bit out of it I failed to notice the car that was passing as I stepped into the street. It honked at me and brakes were slam’d. My heart skip’d a beat but I found it all rather funny — as did my two friends who I could hear howling behind me. I was barefoot and I remember my toe getting stuck in my bell bottom’d jeans. I almost fell down. The car peel’d away.
L’s baton had fallen to the ground. She was staring at me with a look of both surprise and a sort of horror.

“Hey, what are you doing?” I said as I headed toward her lawn. She did a sort of double take and ran into her house. My friends were lying on the ground laughing and I just stood in her lawn wondering why she didn’t seem to realize that I could see her peeping at me through the curtains.

It would be a year later that I would officially meet L in a class. By that time she was dressed fairly normally but still awkward. She was friendly with a good friend of mine and I would soon discover that she was very good friends with someone who would play a very important part of my life. And, this would sort of be out tale to tell. We would be friends through our college years but never particularly close or trusting. We would share close friendships with several other people and this would be our bond.

As we moved into high school things began to change for L. Either she caught up to fashion or it caught up to her. She became very aware of fashion and adapted it to suit her own needs. Her obsession with her hair and clothing would make her look quite good but also a bit too different for most kids in south east Texas. The odd glasses were replaced by contacts.

She was the first girl I knew to date a guy who was an adult. Not much of a threat, tho. He was clearly gay to all of us, but dressed well, had a car and money. And, he lived across the street from her home. He fully embraced the whole preppy look which L liked in men. And, he loved to dance. I can remember sitting in my car outside of L’s house waiting for her. I think she was still doing her hair — and, her boyfriend appeared at my car window. He convinced me to come in to his place — where, while wearing his torn t-shirt, mini-shorts and headband performed “his own choreography” to the Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” tune — Tho, it seemed to essentially be a continuous repeat of the MTV moment when the male dancers sort of break into a pose and thrust their hips. To be sitting on K’s tiny bed as he gyrated toward me with Stevie singing from his boombox — well, it was a rather awkward moment. A moment which when described to L resulted in her eye-rolling most severe.

L’s odd sensibility and quick wit made her a perfect match for me and J. Tho, her sense of duty and fears also made her an ill-match at times. She was always a bit of what I think can best be called a “goody-two-shoes” but with a very dark side.

When we skipped class — L went and took notes. When we were doing “bad” things she would read. But, somehow she fit in to the grand scheme of it all.

And, she was the only friend who ever seemed ready to “out” me from the very first time I met her. I never quite got that — it seemed to surprise most of my friends. But, not L. She knew I was queer from the minute she met me. Tho, not supportive. She enjoyed more trying to taunt me to come out to her. Of course, she was this was with everyone on some level. L was always looking for weaknesses upon which she could tease or play. Interestingly, it was somehow fun to be around. Tho, one could never tell her a secret.

I always took great pride in being aware of the arts and what was going to be the next big or interesting film or bit of music headed our way. Up until 1982 I was only aware of two or three things that really mattered to L: Toni Basil, Cheerleading, her hair and all things that glittered. It was a great pain to her that she had never gotten it together to be a cheerleader. So, she would make fun of them while secretly wanting to wear the uniforms and do the cheers. We all knew this because she knew all the cheers and would always be aware of “who” had not only manufactured the school cheerleading uniforms but would also know “who” had designed them.

Anyway, it was in early 1983 that L told me that a very important movie was coming out and that we had to see it. It was going to be about dancing, music and fashion — and, she advised that the filmmakers had to be thinking of she and I when they filmed it. I wasn’t interested. This was a girl who listened to Howard Jones — by choice and she thought he was a brilliant artiste!?!?! …but, at some point, she told me that I should be interested because “Barrrrrrbrrrrrra” was involved. (I should note that L always pronounced Streisand’s name like that to annoy me) — This was when I learned that she was more aware of the details than I had ever known. I had immediately corrected her and began detailing all I knew of the upcoming YENTL — when she would hiss, “You are so totally homosexual!” …I would offer a lame protest which she immediately would ignore. To her credit, she never directly attempted to “out” me in front of others.

But, she explained that this new movie was created and produced by “Barrrrrrbrrrrrra’s” boyfriend, Jon Peters. Further to the point, L had found a picture of Streisand wearing a torn sweatshirt with crimp’d hair vs. the afro I had come to know and love. “See? This is the future and we’re seeing this movie!” L declared as I looked at the picture. I still have no clue regarding where she had found the picture but it appeared to be have been taken in London — and the writing beneath it stated that Barbra was sporting a new look that her “live-in love” was bringing to the big screen in a film to be called FLASHDANCE. (this is not that same picture, but as close to it as I can find)

So, at that moment I was sold. It was a Friday in April of 1983 when L shocked me by confirming that she would skip the second half of the school day so that we could see the very first screening of FLASHDANCE at the movie theater. L never skipped school — so even a half day was a big deal. Funny that I am unable to remember why J could not join us, but she couldn’t. So, after discarding the ever-so-lame note that L had created to pass for one from her mother excusing her from school at 11AM for a doctor appointment. I remember the note was printed in L’s script that made all “s”‘s look like deformed “5”‘s. And, she had actually drawn little flowers to dot the “i”‘s —- I had her copy my routine and we drove out of the parking lot at 11:15AM and headed toward the movies.

We would both be turning 17 at the end of the year, but were still not old enough to be admitted to an “R” rated film. However, L had dressed in a very high-end outfit — this was one of her “looks” that got her into clubs with her boyfriend. She messed up my hair with some hair stuff she always carried in her purse and told me to act like I knew what I was doing and we would have no trouble. She was correct. The old lady in the ticket booth just looked bored and annoyed.
L would have none of that. This was a very big day for her. I remember feeling a bit panicked as she leaned toward the ticket booth glass and squealed:

“Look, I did my nails for this movie! Smile! This is FLASHDANCE day!”

“Just ignore her. She gets excited by big hair and disco music.”

“Maaaaatttttt! It is not disco! It’s cool!”

I remember that the theater manager seemed gay and was working the popcorn stand. Before we were out of his hearing range L screamed: “Oh my God! Like, he was so totally flirting with you! You should go back and get his number!”

I ran past her to the cinema in which we would soon be exposed to this important film. There were about 10 other people at the screening. …And, 6 of us were a ‘gaggle’ of obviously gay college boys — all dressed and pressed in the latest in preppy fashion which L adored.
“Let’s sit by them! Come on! I bet they love “Barrrrrrbrrrrrra” too!”

“L, I’m not gay. And, lots of people love Barbra Streisand!”

“Oh, puleeeez! Everyone likes “The Main Event” the Bee Gee’s songs she did and that song about the tree but only you and those cute boys like that song about rainy parades!”

I could have killed her and all six of the gay boys turned around and watched us as we walked toward two seats about 3 rows behind them.

“See? They want you, Maaaatttt!”

“Shut up, L.”

Of course, conversing with L was always a bit of an adventure. Topics changed without warning. I remember we discussed her hair, the fact that she needed me to make her a new cassette of the 12″ Toni Basil record as her bitch of a sister had destroyed the one I made her — I had to swear not to tell J because she was working on choreography for a new dance number — we then talked about my hair, J’s hair, L’s nails, her boyfriend and her worries that he might be gay — “like you” — but then the lights dimmed. A preview was screened for YENTL. This moment was ruined for me by L pushing me throughout and squealing “Matt! Matthew! Oh my God! Look!” “Oh my God! Maaaaatttt!?!?!? Did she really cut her hair!?!?!”

I tried to ignore her but after one of the gay boys shhhhh’d us, I turned and said, “L, it is a wig!”

…she chattered on and on until the lights went all the way out and the Paramount logo sprayed on to the screen. I had never seen L so consumed by anything. I had never seen her sit still and speak so little for such a long time. L was hypnotized by FLASHDANCE.

There were a few key scenes after which she would lean into me and whisper things like “Oh my God!” “That was so cool!” “Wow!” — in a tone normally saved for religious events.

I have to say that there was something particularly “free-ing” about those two hours. Even as I found myself wanting to make fun of the fact that we were clearly seeing several body doubles in the dance scenes and that the whole movie hinged on a plot about a girl who welded metal by day and danced fully-clothed in a strip bar by night — and the seedy strip club patrons didn’t seem to mind — I didn’t. This was an important film for L and I found it all quite infectious. I took as much joy in the ending of the film as she. And, I felt guilty when I refused to sit through a second screening as I had to be at work in a couple of hours But, I didn’t feel too badly as I believe she returned that night with her boyfriend (who I think loved it more than she!) …and then forced J to see it.

From then on J and I would take great fun in making fun of L’s love of FLASHDANCE. L enjoyed this, too. She loved attention and she enjoyed that one of her obsessions was a mainstream hit. And, L was ahead of the ball on this one. I swear that she was wearing cut up over-sized sweaters and sweatshirts by the very next day after that first screening. And, she had already been wearing those things in her hair — and she had loved leg-warmers from way back.

And, FLASHDANCE certainly meshed into my being. I still love the soundtrack. And, I’ve written of the movie more than a few times over the years. However, last week Paramount re-issued a deluxe packaging of the movie to DVD. It was today as I passed by a poster of it at Virgin that I thought of L and those couple of hours we shared.

…And, how she would be the first person to whom I came out. …to which she said, “Did you fuck K? Just tell me.” …K being her boyfriend who had come out to her a year before me. And, no, I hadn’t. To which she replied, “Good. Well, just be careful and it’s no big deal.”

I haven’t seen, talked or heard from L in years. I hope she knows about this DVD. It comes with a newly re-master’d CD. I am playing it now.

How is it possible that this is almost 25 years old?!?! Most worrying.

September 24, 2007. Uncategorized. 34 comments.

SONGS WE SING


Pakipoptart and I were recently emailing about music and it turned out we’ve both been listening to this CD quite a bit. In fact, it has almost been all I’ve played for the past week. I remember doubting if I should even download it from iTunes because one is always a bit suspect of movie stars who make a record album. You know? But, this one features tracks co-written with Air and some other great artistes. And, certainly, Charlotte Gainsbourg must have inherited some musical chops from her mother and father. Tho, I’m still trying to figure out that whole “Lemon Incest” song she recorded with her father back in the 80’s. I think that worries me more now than it did when I first heard it!

Anyway, this is the best CD I’ve yet to purchase this year. Tho, I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new Goldfrapp CD!!!!

But, for now, this collection of personal and reflective songs is perfect for me. As I work on healing and getting thru these headaches — Charlotte Gainsbourg’s chill-out/mellow alternative/electronic vibe is just magical.

I think she might be a better recording artist than a film actor.

“…I feel you all around me
You are everything I cannot see
As the ocean crawls onto the shoreline
So you lap at the edges of me…”

I’ve also been playing the new one from Feist quite a bit. Electronic but not too heavy on the ears in terms of beats — and, interestingly, it lightens my mood.

And, of course, this has been a major part of my play list these last several weeks. The new Air CD is probably not one of their most commercial, but I do think it is their best work yet.
…but, if all you know of Air is their first CD which featured trip-hop dance tracks like “Sexy Boy” — you might be disappointed. …the new one ain’t no dance record.

…If you’re looking for music that will enhance the moment but not take it over — you might want to check these three works out.

September 21, 2007. Uncategorized. 19 comments.

HIDE IN THE MUSIC

thoughts too scattered for this movie and it is too late for a refund.

i finish my popcorn and leave.

time for a walk to the water to close my eyes and practice the art of breathing.

as per usual someone wants to speak with me. she wants to know where i got my shoes. they are old and beat-up. i bought them from a second hand shop over a year ago. she is amused and asks after my hoodie.

…in no mood to chat. i decide to be bold.

“I’m going to hide in my music now. Have a good day.”

and, i slip in my iPod ear buds. the volume is low to prevent a worsening of the headache that never seems to want to leave. i drift.

“…Oh, what a feeling.”

September 19, 2007. Uncategorized. 13 comments.

A TOOTH IN THE WALL

I don’t know if Roman Polanski’s 1976 film, THE TENANT was a hit or not. I do remember seeing it when it came out, but I also remember mainly being impressed that we were shown the preview for CARRIE. As a kid I was bored by this film. As an adult I see it in a whole other light. True, it is a horror film filled with tension and a sort of un-nerving quality that Polanski used to be so exceptional at creating. However, the “pay-off” is not typical horror film fare. In fact, there is nothing “normal” about this film. However, if you’re a movie fan — you will note that it has had a most definite impact on other filmmakers.

If you’ve a taste for the unusual or challenging cinema and you’ve not ever seen this film — you would be well advised to check it out. I will not give any spoilers. But this film is much more than a study of a disturbed psyche or a surreal horror movie. I actually think it shares a great deal of relation to Polanski’s later and more traditional film, THE PIANIST.

I think this experimental film is actually a study on alienation, isolation and the unforgivable impact of the Holocaust.…To be different is to be suspect. …To be different is a threat. In many ways, to be different is the worst of all crimes …To be different can set one up to be viewed as the ultimate evil — and victimized beyond any reason. …And, to eyes too far removed — it can be too difficult to believe. And, to dare to be different and defy those who would judge of punish you for it requires a great deal of bravery and can be reduced to paranoia. This scenario is really the ultimate human horror.

Just like THE EXORCIST is far more than a movie about a little girl possessed by a demon — it, in many ways, is a product of it’s odd time in the US’s socio-political history. All social norms were being questioned and religion was at the top of the list. And, if ever there was a time that parents felt their children to be beyond their control it would have been during the late 60’s and into the early 70’s. THE EXORCIST takes a parental fear and turns it on its head. The impact of that idea/message has been somewhat lost over the years. However — racism, fascism and sex intolerance is sadly on the upswing.

Society has always condemned those who are too far outside its social-political norms. And, anyone perceived as possibly having the potential to assert power is a threat. Polanski has never shy’d away from presenting women as smart, tough and unwilling victims of circumstance. In THE TENANT this idea is very present.

There are actually several “female leads” in this movie. (you would need to see the film to understand that statement) …Isabelle Adjani was an unusual choice for one of these “leads”, but a good choice. If you’re familiar with French accents — switch the DVD to “French Audio” to hear Adjani’s real voice —- she plays the role with what sounds like a heavy Belgium accent. …An outsider in Paris. …Different. Even in the theatrically released version (another actress dub’d in English) — she speaks in a manner ill-suited to her circumstances. It works quite well.

Actually, I feel the only real flaw with this film is in the dubbing. Due to Polanski’s controversial run from the US — this film was shot in France. (I don’t want to “go there” regarding that run — that would be more than a blog post!) However, he opted to shoot this film in English using a large roster of famous old-time Hollywood film stars (Melvin Douglas, Shelley Winters and Jo Van Fleet) and mixing them with a lot of French actors. Some actors are speaking English and some are speaking French. It appears that Polanski alternates. Sometimes his lips match his voice and sometimes they don’t. Switching to the French track will not help because then all the American actors are off. …It is particularly odd to see Shelley Winters off-dub with a French actress’ voice. The only dub which actually works is the one used for Adjani. I suppose this was before Adjani had mastered English.

Even still, this is really not a big deal. Once you adjust to this world of odd dubs — it actually works with Polanski’s surreal vision.

And, of course, you can’t go wrong when Ingmar Bergman’s DP — The Great Sven Nykvist — is behind the camera — you can anticipate visual magic. Sven Nykvist was simply one of if not the best artist to touch cinematography thus far. And, his work for this film is amazing!

I’m far too lazy to do any on-line research. (sorry) — but if you know more about the production of this film or if I’ve misunderstood some of what Polanski was trying to do — please feel free to correct me! But, if you’ve not seen it — give it a shot! It is available on DVD everywhere in the world! NetFlix it!

September 14, 2007. Uncategorized. 12 comments.

SOMETIMES BEARS DO COME OVER THE MOUNTAINS

I love movies. The last month has been quite hard for me because I just haven’t felt like going to the movies. You know I’m not well when that happens! But, I shall be back in form soon! And, thank goodness for the DVD player and B’s big screen TV!

I normally know just what films I want to see. I am very definite in my tastes and usually feel duty-bound to support the work of artists who I respect or who are operating from the fringe. So, it was really tough for me to avoid this film when it was released in the US several months back.The reviews were/are incredibly positive and we are talking about Julie Christie in a lead role. Julie Fucking Christie! — One of the greatest of the greats! —- In a film by a darkly talented woman, Sarah Polley! There are not many women who make it in the film industry as directors and I feel we need to support them when they get a break. …And, all the more better when an artist of substance such as Polley secures that break! But, this film is based on a short story by one of the most impressive writers I’ve ever read, Alice Munro. My bestest pal, Ing, actually fully turned me on to Munro. …if I had to describe her work I would suggest Joyce Carol Oats gone to an even darker place. Munro takes the reader to places so dark that I can only describe her words as pain and dread of the human heart. Her words can embrace, ache and make me worry. After Ing exposed me I looked into a bit more. I didn’t even attempt “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” when I realized what it was about.

And, when I read that Polley was adapting it for a feature length film — I thought “Oh, wow! That will be soooooooo good. I don’t want to see it at all!!!” …but, then I found out that Polley made a major score by talking Julie Christie into taking the female lead! Ugh! And, I remember thinking, “Oh no. This is going to be really good. Maybe I will see it.”

But, then it came out. I was at one of the Landmark Cinemas when a screening let out. The audience members looked as if they had been to a funeral or some form of blunt trauma. Then, one of my fave bloggers, HOT LUNCH, saw and wrote about it and I knew I didn’t have the stamina to see it. I skipped it and regretted it the very day after it finally closed here. I mean — I had missed out on the first important role Christie had tackled in years! Ugh! The DVD came out on Tuesday. NetFlix delivered it to our door yesterday. We watched it last night.

I will not tell you what it is about. It was almost flawless in execution. The acting was beyond effective, but Julie Christie was really amazing. And, this little film broke my heart. And, B, who was so very tired last night — was clued to the screen till the last image. He didn’t say too much about it — but I could tell it had touched him. And, I think it frightened us both a little. …this fate that comes to so many every day and lasts for years. For me, it was a bit like a gut punch.

I wonder how faithful it is to Munro’s story. I suspect it is. It felt like one of her stories: realistic, harsh, beautiful, crisp, fresh, filled with a sort of dread, and injected with a love for the characters — actually, a lot like life. Never easy, but worth it.

I can’t imagine better performances than those given by both Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent. In fact, the only other performance this year that comes close to matching them, in my opinion, would be Ashely Judd in William Friedkin’s paranoid, twisted and oddly effective socio-political adaptation: BUG.…another film which I believe had been intended for 2006 release but held up till earlier this year. Of course, Judd’s work in BUG is almost an experimental work of art unto itself — tho, totally matching the odd pitch of the film. …which I really loved despite the very confused reaction of the audience with which we shared the viewing experience. BUG was an art house experiment released to the mainstream mega-screen’d cinemas. And, it seemed to confuse and waft over the heads of almost everyone who saw it. Too bad.

AWAY FROM HER is an art house film as well. Because it avoids being too sentimental by opting to be real. And, it never flinches away from the reality of an all-too-real situation. Unlike BUG, it is not cynical or paranoid and it is concerned with what matters most to us.

…I don’t want the bear to come over the mountain. k?…no matter how well one might write about it.

Maybe like Jack Nicholson once bellow’d — I can’t handle the truth!!!! (slamming my fist on the table)

September 12, 2007. Uncategorized. 9 comments.

MY COUSIN’S LP COLLECTION


I used to love to visit my eccentric uncle and serenely calm aunts’ home. My uncle was a little crazy, but more fun/interesting crazy than scary/unpredictable crazy like my father (his brother) — and their house was just so interesting to me. There never seemed to be any chaos there. Roles were defined and things were organized and clean. It always smelled nice. And, it retained that same sweet smell when I last visited in the 1990’s.

They had a living room which acted more as a sitting room. We only ever sat in there for special occasions. I remember being fascinated by the sofas in this room. They wrapped around the room as if a part of the walls. And, they had tasteful art sculpture things hanging on the walls. They had a den like a couple with which my parents were friendly. It felt so sophisticated to my 4 or 5 year old self. …and safe.

The only thing was — their home was too quiet. The TV was never on as far as I could tell and the huge stereo system was never opened. But, my cousin — along with my mom, was my official music connection to cool. To me, J was super cool and I could hardly wait to get to that house because of what it would mean!

A visit to my aunt and uncles’ meant that I would that J would invite me to venture into her bedroom where she would turn me on to a world of music that was too cool for even my mom! Sure my mother was young and played cool music but J was really tuned in to the moment. And, she had a more grown-up record player than me! It just sounded better and she could move it all around the room if she wanted! J is only about 10 years older than me, but when you’re 4 or 5 and a person is 14 or 15 that is a huge difference! And, she treated me like a doll with which she could play. I loved all the attention.

It was sitting on the floor by her cool box turntable while she would be doing homework or studying the clothes in her closet that I most loved. She would sit me down and advise me on some new cool song or band. The earliest bit of music to which she poured into my ears was Grand Funk. I had heard their cover of “Locomotion” and loved it. In fact, my mom used to turn up the radio when it came on. I believe, in one of my mom’s failed attempts to grab my attention away from the “My Name Is Barbra” LP she got me the 45 single to “Locomotion” …but, J, had the full record album and I LOVED it!!! My head swayed and my barefeet pounded with the beat. J would inquire as to why I never seemed to wear shoes. I was never sure if she thought it was cool I was always barefoot or stupid. I guess, maybe, I didn’t want to know.

She wasn’t into Barbra Streisand until A STAR IS BORN came out. And, by then she was in college and didn’t have so much time to hang with me. Tho, we did discuss the movie scene by scene one day when she had grown weary of sitting with our family! I was in heaven!

No, J loved James Taylor and I think she harbor’d a bit of jealousy toward Carly Simon at the time. I now love James Taylor but back then I didn’t quite get it. I pretended to, tho. She felt that “Sweet Baby James” was his best. And, it probably still is, but I was drawn to the art for this LP. It just seemed cooler to me than the others. But, when she put the needle down on this LP — it sort of changed my musical world view. This was a magical LP. It would take me a few years, but I would secure it for my own collection eventually.

Shortly after she started liking Barbra —- she stopped by our house one afternoon. I thought she was there to see my Grandmother, but she was actually there to see me. She wanted me to listen to a new album. She had it on 8-track tape and she loaned it to me. And, it would be this record from J’s collection that would have the biggest impact on me. My mom loved it as well. She already knew of it but didn’t have it. Within a week we had the LP and I played it a lot. Not as much as A STAR IS BORN, but it got a good deal of play. And, of course my discovery of Blondie, Patti Smith Group and Kate Bush would all be happening soon.

J’s record collection rock’d. I still hear from her to time to time. Her oldest son was just recently married and her other just finished college. I doubt her sons understand how cool their mom is. For, she is still pretty fucking cool.

September 11, 2007. Uncategorized. 15 comments.

A NEW KIND OF “CHACHKI” FOR IKEA

As hard as it sometimes feels to be me these days I can only imagine it feels even worse to be ‘B’ —- It can’t be much fun sharing your life with a person who seems to have a constant headache and lack of energy. However, he would never let me know that. He forges on and gets me rolling (as best I seem to roll as of late!)

Our move to Oakland is going will be taking place very soon. This has meant more than a few trips to… where we think we have found several affordable solutions for better living.

As B took notes and plotted out various floor plans, I leaned on things and kept waiting for the time to come when I could take another dose of that pill that helps my headache. My ability to focus on things seems rather limited at the moment. I look at the potential furnishings and like many of them but I do not trust my decision making skills. So, I enjoy looking at the many books IKEA imports to use as sort of “chachki fillers” for the various shelving units.

I enjoy looking at the odd sizes and covers of these books which seem to come from the Netherlands or Italy or Greece. Yesterday, I noticed about 75 yellow books stationed on “The Billy” bookshelves. I picked on up and admired the font and was wildly impressed with the photo of the writer. Even more impressed by the fact that the photo of this writer was taken by Francesco Scavullo! I showed the overtly dramatic photo to B who was as amused as me.

I began to imagine what this eccentric woman might be like. Something about her name seemed familiar to me. …as did the title of the book. But, my head hurt. I couldn’t think about it, but I did scribble down her name and the name of her book on one of those pieces of papers that IKEA shoppers use to record inventory/item numbers.

About an hour after I took my “magic” pill and began to feel some relief I looked at her name. Something very familiar about that name. And, of course, the title is an Arabic word. Actually, the meaning of the word came to me before I realized who and what this little IKEA “chachki” was: I was pretty sure it meant “by the will of Allah” …but this morning it all fell into place.

“Inshallah” is an Arabic term for “if God is willing” …or more suitably, “if it is the will of Allah”

And, “Inshallah” is a novel I tried to read when I was in high school by the infamous Oriana Fallaci. An Italian journalist who I’ve always considered to be fascist and racist. Certainly, she was not without some brilliance, insight and talent. Most of all she had no fear.

Brilliance, insight, talent and bravery are all fine and good — but when those gifts/talents/attributes are fueled by racism, homophobia and generally fascist beliefs — that individual becomes as evil as the ones hiding behind religion to harm humanity and the world.

I can’t really remember that book — “Inshallah” — very well.

I do remember thinking it had been poorly translated. I do remember thinking that the message was getting bang’d into my skull by this passionate writer who was probably better at essays than fiction. I do remember thinking it failed to really try to apply any sort of attempt to understand a person (or even a group of people) would be willing to die for an idea/principle/concept.

I remember it frustrated me.

It would be after the tragedies of 9/11 that I would see her name again. And, it was then that her ideology was no longer hidden. This was a person who hated anyone who was Islamic. Essentially, she seemed to hate any belief system outside of her own. She had no regard for homosexual rights. She felt no pity or empathy for the rights of immigrants.

If you were to do some reading on her — or even to read some of her work — you would discover a fascinating life and individual. If you’re over 35 you will probably remember hearing or reading about the female journalist who had the guts to rip off her chador while interviewing the Ayatollah Khomeini. Ring a bell? She was in his home. That must have been just after the Iranian revolution of the late 70’s. 1979?

It strikes me tragic how she started off fighting against the sort of tyranny which, I feel, she later embraced. This woman who had the balls to be face off with tyrants would also — later on — become a mini-tyrant herself. …She would later announce that abortion was wrong on all levels (unless raped by an Islamic person)

Sick and wrong.

While some have credited her with starting up some interesting debate(s) about double standards regarding assimilation — most of what she seemed to say/write in the last years of her life were quite vile. …and wrong.

How in the world did I manage not to recognize her name?!?!? Well, I guess I’m just not functioning at 100% at the moment. Obviously.

And is it not a bit odd that IKEA is now using her books as props to sell their furnishings?

I can’t decide if it is funny, fitting, scary or just stupid.

Maybe, like racism itself, it is just plain sad and dangerous. Sad how evil works its way into our lives. …and, dangerous.

Now, where’s my Maxalt?

UPDATE: Well, for some reason one is unable to post a comment to this posting. Sorry! I’ve gotten more than a couple of emails. I guess it is a word press issue. Or, possibly an IKEA take over of my blog!

Anyway, a pal wrote that: “I was just wondering if the folks at IKEA had ever
read this book, or whether they’d chosen it because of
the cover and author photo. I see that a lot in
decorating magazines now. People “decorate” with the
spines of their books…”

How very strange — To use books like that. I wonder what that sort of person says when a new friend or visitor says:

“Oh. So, you enjoy Dorothy Parker?”

“Who? Oh, no. I’ve not ready anything by her. I just think that book looks really cool in my pad!”

…I would so just leave.

September 10, 2007. Uncategorized. Comments off.

CRUISING 4 A BETTER DAY

…this is how I felt at about 4:45am this morning when I got up.

It is almost 11am and I’ve had my maximum amount of Maxalt-MLT for the day and I’m feeling a bit better. Movin’ slow, probably thinking even a bit slower and the idea of eating feels beyond disgusting. But, I’m about to take my prescription strength ibuprofen, shave, shower and go for a walk! I don’t care how I feel! I can’t lay about in this apartment today. I need to find some joy.

However, I am a realistic soul. I’m not going to venture too far. Besides, I don’t need to have 3 doctors lecture me next week. No. I’m just going to walk over to the ATM withdraw $20 — see my “connection” and score some caffeine (I don’t care what anyone says — it makes my head feel better!) — then I plan to sit under the Big Gay Castro Flag, let the breeze blow on me and watch the people. I plan to force myself to smile. …the big MRI was last night. One of the two big tests which I dread the most. Results should be in by Tuesday of next week. I need to clear this head of mine.

And, I want my life back!

I want to go back to get back to work!

So, today — I’m trying sheer will as an option! Like I said, I’m a realistic soul — I don’t expect to be all well by the end of the day but the staying down and breathing stuff is wearing me out. My goal is to push myself a bit and see if it might not help more than sitting in out apartment all day. I know I couldn’t work right now.

But, do I have to be such a downer?!!?? “NO!” I say! No! Also, I fear I’ve become a big ass bore. I worry that friends are avoiding me because I much be such a drain with which to hang out. And, I don’t have that much energy. I need to find a way to put a mask on. …I know. I know. Not exactly a healthy concept but one of survival. And, trust me, if I feel too bad — I won’t be any good at putting that mask on anyway. But, why not at least give it a try every now and again! It’s not like I have much else to do at the moment!

Can I return to work after next week?!?!?

“Maybe!” I say! Just maybe! And, just maybe I need to push a bit more vs. just laying about. Just maybe.

And, for the first time in over a month I’m going to drag my ass into a movie! Yes! I am! I’ve not gone to a movie in so long because there really hasn’t been anything I felt was really worth seeing to put myself through the pain of dealing with way I feel in a cinema seat.

Well, today — and for the rest of the week — The Castro Theatre is screening the highly controversial 1980 film, CRUISING. And, I’m going to the 2pm showing. Actually, it is such a sick choice of a film it might actually work in getting my mind off things!My father took me to see this movie when it came out. I think I was 13. I knew I was gay and I found the viewing to be most worrying. I wonder what I will think of it now. …so many years later.

I remember being both excited and horrified. Men with men — it was cool. And, I thought Al Pacino was dreamy. But, then they (and he) were doing things that went beyond my understanding at the time. Oh, and of course there was the whole idea of gruesome gay sex murders.

I remember the cinema manager voicing concern about his taking a minor to see this movie which she called “smut” — which made me all the more interested in seeing it and seemed to make my father all the more determined as well. I guess he had the maturity of a 12 year old anyway. “Hips or lips?”

I still remember that line. I leaned over and asked my father what that meant. I think he said, “I don’t know” …Yeah, this was a great film to take a 13 year old to see!

To say my father was sick is an understatement, but he did bring me into the world of movies. And, he seemed to enjoy almost all of them. Particularly the darker ones. …and more perverse. I don’t think any of these viewings harmed me, but he did. However, by the time I was 10 he couldn’t hurt me anymore. I had threatened him. I guess it was a risk, but it was survival. And, it worked. He didn’t hurt me like that anymore.

Anyway, today is an odd day.

Today is my brother’s birthday. …this was a pretty big LP around the time he was born. I can remember skipping school and sitting in a field all day worrying about he and my mother. I couldn’t wait for him to come home! This morning, I tried to call him. I did my best to not sound like my head was about to split open. I got his voicemail. I’m not sure if I managed to sound convincing but I know he knows I love him and am thinking of him. I hope he is having a kick ass B-day! He is 29 today! Wow! And, I will be 41 in November! …Man! Where is the time going?!?!?!?

But, today is also the 10th anniversary of my father’s death. Mixed feelings. So many things never said that should have been said. I guess that is the way it always is. But, I do miss him. I do. No one could make me laugh like he could and no one will ever be able to make me so angry. Extremes. He was extreme. He was insane. And, he was sad.

OK. Ibuprofen, shave, shower, gel my hair, put on the Lucky jeans (I’m down to 172 lbs!!!) and head out into that cool San Francisco breeze. …Now, if only I could find a good mask! Oh, well. I’m gonna smile! And, I’m going to smile big! And, watch a really gross and disturbing movie!!! …I wonder how bad my iPod would hurt if I tried to use it? Hmmmm…

September 7, 2007. Uncategorized. 21 comments.

IT’S RAINING SHOES…

…For me, it was a bit of a soap opera weekend. …a long soap opera weekend. I feel it has been most like an ABC Soap Opera Marathon Weekend because my Grandmother always told me that her ABC stories were more about medical issues and the characters wore better clothing. She also enjoyed the more twisted story lines which I believe she felt were lacking on CBS and NBC. However, she did enjoy her “Young & The Restless” which I think was on CBS. Anyway, I had more medical drama, I like to think I dress well even when I feel like shit and things are always a little sordid. …as they should be. …keeps it interesting.

I grow weary and fear those near to me grow even more weary of me expressing any knowledge of how crappy I might feel. So, I do my best to not discuss it. I don’t always succeed. I had been getting abdominal cramps for a couple of days and a few other “unusual problems” which I had decided were not worthy of mention. But, by Friday I was feeling worse than usual and getting a wee-bit ‘a-scared’ — by Saturday it was really causing me discomfort on so many levels. I had told B about it. But, I think he could tell it was really starting to take its toll on me. So, poor B’s long weekend took a turn for the worse. He was cast as the noble husband and I the faltering and fragile one. Looking ever so glam as I cramp’d and paw’d down the hallways. Yes, it was — — a General Hospital moment — only a bit more intimate and real.

I think we arrived to the emergency room at about 5:30pm and I think I discharged around 11:30pm. I was a little out of it and freak’d by the whole time we were there so time sort of did tricks on me. I was just relieved to get to leave. B was great and assisted me in answering the 5,000 or so questions asked to me. I so suck at answering some of these questions:

“Matt, are you in pain?”
“Well, I don’t know if pain is the right word. It feels odd. Something is not right.”
“I think he is in pain.”
“Well, Matt. B thinks you’re in pain. Are you?”
“Uh, yeah. I guess so.”

These are not exact quotes, but this was the sort of conversing that went on.

As the girl on the other side of the curtain of my bed received an emergency spinal, the guy next to her kept hurling and the lady at the far end waited for ‘the head to crown’ B and I sat. He looked incredibly stylish in his vintage All Stars and designer casual long shorts. My Diesel jeans looked really cool on this metallic tray the staff provided. I think I’m getting close to my goal weight so I’m pretty sure my bare ass looked as close to good as a butt can look in that sort of lighting. I seem to remember much better lighting on “General Hospital” and hotter doctors. However, the female nurse who took my blood looked fairly chic. She took quite a bit of blood. They had already taken quite a bit of my urine. Tests were rushed on a STAT basis. I like to think that these tests were run by some hot male technician with plenty of back lighting.

We were visited by doctors, nurses, pharmacists and few lost naked individuals who had wandered out of their designated bed areas while we waited. Several manner of things were done to me which might have been fun under different circumstances but were simply quite painful and discomforting. It was all quite worrying.

Tho, B and I walked away with different interpretations of what was concluded — the upshot seemed to be that I have a bladder/urinary infection which can cause quite a bit of discomfort/pain and is often a bit challenging for men to shake. The cause? That, my friends, is a good question. They seemed to think it might be from a combination of the pain meds I’ve been having to take for the on-going headaches and stress.

Stress??!?!? Stress can cause a bladder infection???!?!?!

….Apparently, it can play a role.

Well, if one is taking so much medication that it has probably caused a bladder infection it only makes sense to prescribe more medication. So, I was given more dope. And, guess what? Both meds can cause “chronic head aches” !!!! …Yes. However, the main thing right now is to rid my body of this infection and get my bladder to empty. I get that. I’ve had 5 doses of the anti-biotic and 6 of the other. I am starting to feel some relief. Tho, I guess I would be lying if I said it felt significantly better yet. I’m to drink loads of water, no milk, no vitamins, soda to a min and go to the can a lot.

Welcome to my world. I am supposed to call my primary care person tomorrow and intend to have all these meds checked and will need to schedule an appointment to get results of a few more tests which were done at hospital. And, then I am to schedule an appointment for after the anti-biotics to be sure the infection is cleared, etc. Oh, and I have to find a way to be able lie in a tube for over an hour while they do a full MRI later in the week. That should be fun as the red pills are forcing my bladder to empty every 4 to 5 minutes. Ugh!!!!

It just feels like I can’t get a break. And, based on a conversation I had with a doctor last week it would appear that I will not be released to return to work until next month. Oh, yeah. And, there was a mix-up with my paperwork which is causing a two week delay with the state to provide many funds from my disability insurance.

Still. It is not a total loss of a weekend. We received the keys to the new loft apartment and B had drafted all the plans to make the place look awesome!!!! He plans on taking the third week of September off to do all the work. Poor guy is doing it all alone. I can’t do much but sleep and look stunning.

I kind of hope the new place is haunted. I really want to amp up the drama a bit more. …that really is killer wall paper!

September 3, 2007. Uncategorized. 13 comments.

IN MY HEAD ( a list )

My best-est pal, Ing, has tag’d me!

I’m to list 8 random facts about myself. I really liked Ing’s list which managed to be intimate, a little sad, filled with hope and infused with the humor one needs when on a quest to gain understanding of yourself. …In short, Ing’s 8 Random Facts gave the reader an honest glimpse into her. I doubt I will be able to do the same. I’m not as eloquent or talented a writer. But, I’m going to give it a shot and am going to fight the urge to make it all comical or turn into a flight of whimsy. However, I guess that would not really be me if I did.
So, off-the-guff and shooting-from-the-hip — here is my list of 8 Random Facts About Me:

1. The only true way I’ve ever been able to escape the mess of thoughts and worry in my head is to slink deep into a seat in a dark cinema and lose myself in whatever story is being played out on the screen. The darker the story on that screen — the better. I rather like getting lost in the dark fantasies to be found in the dark. This is why I love movies so much. Escape from my reality.

2. Bur, I am most happy when I’m on the beach. Sure, I can’t really escape all these ramble’d thoughts but they seem so less important as I listen to the waves, people, birds and feel the sun and ocean breeze. Oh, and thus far, I’m most impressed with the beaches of Northern California. However, I suspect I would like the beaches of Greece even more.

3. I’m going thru a pretty rough patch right now. I really wish I could close my eyes and be at least one month into the future and discover all these health issues will be OK and I will be back at work and having fun again. I am weary of this worry and all these headaches. I’ll get through it, tho. I’ve almost fallen off the edge before. I will not allow that to ever happen again.

4. I have spacial issues. I fear spaces and do not fully understand them. I’m always a little lost and am most comfortable in small places. I once read a novel called HOUSE OF LEAVES which was (sort of) about a house with a hallway that keeps changing size and direction. This book horrified me. I still have nightmares about it. …It was like the writer managed to pull me to my unspoken fears. I am much happier in a studio apartment than a one bedroom because the larger the home — the more fearful I am of it. Actually, this is true of all spaces. I do not enjoy being in big places and I don’t like closets.

5. For the first time in my life I have a job at an organization I really respect and I work with people I really like. I really love my job. I’ve never experienced that before. It’s most cool.

6. I hate getting older. It is better than the alternative, but I really do hate it. I think we should all stay between 27 and 30. …smart enough to know better but not really old enough to care!

7. I do not like being alone. I will go sit on a bench just to be around other people.

8. I hate crying in front of others. I am quite supportive of those who do and can, but I feel to vulnerable when this happens to me. I often lock myself in the bathroom and cry in the shower or tub. …and, then I usually throw up.

Three Bonus Facts:

1. It takes a great deal to make me mad or angry. I seldom am. However, the one thing that is certain to piss me off is when someone tells me how I feel or that they “know” how I feel. None of us really knows how the other feels and none of us has the right to “project” our opinions of how another should feel. I think I get the most pissed off at myself when I fail to follow my own rules here. I have done this to several people in life who I love the most in an attempt to help them. I think I caught myself and apologized to each of them for having done that. I worry that I haven’t, tho.

2. I have faith in God, but not the one represented by any organized religions. I feel the presence of God when I am near the ocean, in the kiss of my love, in the hugs of those for whom I deeply care and in some Hallmark cards. And, I can hear God in some music. I can sense the presence of God in Schubert…And, I hear Her in some of those pitch-perfect-pristine-notes-sung by Barbra. It puzzles me when people tell me that they do not believe in God. I find that I am both impressed and cautious. Impressed by the bravery to face a life without faith and cautious because I am not sure I ever believe these individuals. …there always seems to be more than a little anger laced in with the belief that there is no God. Why be angry about it or at those who do believe? …unless their belief smoothers the rights of others. Then, be angry. Tho, it will get you no where.

3. I did not chose to gay. I was born gay. There is no choice in this for me. However, I would not change it for all the money in the world. It is what it is — and it is a very good thing.…and this woman put me off orange juice at a very early age.

Wait. Was that 5 or 9 additional facts rolled up into 3?!?!? …that were not a part of my 8 anyway?!?!

Sorry. I was never good at following rules or coloring in the lines.

I’m not going to tag anyone. Go tag yourself if you’re of a mind to do so! (insert smile icon)

September 1, 2007. Uncategorized. 17 comments.