Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Step and The Walk


Today I walked over to Chicago's Pride Parade, with Scot, and took some videos of the locations you've read about here. I know! How cool!
First, welcome to my art deco dump. Such a lovely day. Next, we're off to Somewhere in Time, on Pinegrove and Waveland, where I lived with Jody in 1987. I was about to tell the kids who had the sad task of moving today, while thousands walked past their apartment, all about my life there in 1987, so we could compare and contrast our experiences, but decided against it.
Lastly, it's the darkly sad apartment on Pinegrove and Patterson I had recently told you about moving out of, in 1989, in Shot by Both Sides. The gate was locked, but mine was the lowest balcony on the left.
As an added bonus, here's some pictures from earlier this week, from a dinner party in the art deco dump: Ambiance, and Guests.
Happy Pride!
(Thanks to Scot for The Duke Spirit. Play it loud!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mean To Me


It was a warm, perfect summer day in Wisconsin. It took my eyes weeks to get used to sunshine, and I precariously rode around on my un-cool, banana seat-less bike, when the sun finally came out. In the mid seventies, if you didn't have a banana seat on your bike, you had a seat that looked like a pair of cement filled under wear. Very un-cool.
Brad lived to do the wrong thing, even back then, and we would ride around our neighborhood looking for 10-speeds for him wreck. He was so matter of fact with the passing of his knowledge to me, like he was teaching me how to roller skate.
This is how you strip a 10-speed's gears...
Oh. Ok. Should you be doing this?

We hung out by our school a lot, because it was a few blocks away from our homes. One day, in the ditch in front of the school, I noticed something shiny.
Now, I've always been a lover of all things shiny, so that was nothing new. Every chance I got I was into my mother's jewelry box, and I was constantly putting dimes in the plastic crap machines at the grocery store, to try to get a tin engagement ring with a pink rhinestone.
Earlier that year, our school held a carnival, with games, and the prizes were all that stuff I loved and coveted, but held as my own little secret: boys don't like pink rhinestones, or any rhinestones, as a matter of fact, so I dejectedly took the 'boy' prize whenever I won a game. Don't get me wrong, I did love getting a little plastic gun or dog, but I wanted the jewelry more, which brings us to a flash forward...
Sitting in the darken theater in my Connecticut high school in 1980, I learned a little something about myself: The movie we were watching featured Bette Davis (I think The Virgin Queen, but probably not) as the Queen of England, and, as a sub-plot, a gay couple got caught 'doing it' while wearing the expensive jewels they had stolen. I wasn't sure if the jewels made them horny, or the sense of security their value created, or the fact they were stolen from the Queen, but they did seem to play a major part of their amorous actions.
"Oh. Hmm. Gay and diamonds and rubies. Hmm. Whatta ya know..." I thought to myself.
Anyway, back to that summer day in 1977 with Brad, I saw a bunch of those plastic bracelets and rings and necklaces lying in the ditch, mouldering away. They were also lying with the 'boy' toys, but there were just too many toys there for me to think any one or two kids had put them there. There were dozens! I started picking them out of the muck as fast as I could, then slowly stopped.
I knew none of my classmates did this; we all wanted as much of the prizes as we could get. So either the teachers threw them here, or the people who ran the carnival did. Someone threw the things I had wanted so badly a few months ago into the ditch like it was garbage. Right in front of the school! They didn't even try to hide it!
I began to see the there was a difference between the true value things possessed, and the value I placed on them. It still doesn't stop me from buying things like this on Ebay, though.

In 1989, I moved out of my apartment on Pinegrove, and found a place with Scot. It wasn't too hard to find a place, for the moment we stepped into the courtyard on Sheridan by Broadway, we knew this was the place for us. It was big and light and in great shape for a vintage building, and very affordable.
I was happy Scot wanted to live with me, cause I really didn't want to be alone. And with Jody leaving Chicago, Scot was glad I asked.
My Floridian landlord was happy to see me go, and I walked my things down the street everyday for a week, and needed only one trip to move the rest of it, with a friend's car. This was my fourth year in Chicago, but it felt like my thirtieth.
For some reason, I played Crowded House's first two tapes over and over on my stereo, in the bedroom of my new place. Neil Finn therapy sessions. To this day, I am on Sheridan and Broadway if I hear a song of theirs. Those two tapes gave me such a complete feeling of utter failure, I'm not sure why I played them so much; maybe to spur me on to make some more changes in my life? I felt that way because theirs was boyfriend music; it was music I would make-out to, it was music you talked about the meaning of over dinner. It was music that could bring two people closer together. You don't have that, you don't have that...
I would come home from work and run to my room and shut the door and put on their music, for the first few months, but eventually I ventured out of my room, to begin getting to know my new world.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Found Found Found

A little jump forward, then back...

Well, I have to admit, in 1991, when I saw Morrissey at The World, near Chicago, I was more into Boy George. The Martyr Mantras came out the year before, and to me it was a return to the sound that I came to love about him, and I could not take it out of my CD boom box for an entire year. I tracked down every single and remix I could find. Though KLF's The White Room did battle with ...Mantras for equal time.
So when my friend Chad asked me to see Morrissey with him that summer, I flinched a little. I thought I had broken up with Morrissey. I had seen The Smiths a few years back, at the Aragon Ballroom, but in The Queen Is Dead there lurked too many memories of my awkward and failed relationship with my boyfriend Jeff, and not to even mention the junkies and acid trips and unrequited loves that breathed a painful existence into Hatful of Hollow for me. So no, no Smiths for me any more, s.v.p.
Next came Strangeways and Viva Hate, two albums wrapped around my savior, destroyer, love of my life, and childhood best friend, Brad, where for two years in the late eighties, they were the soundtrack, to borrow a phrase (and mangle it), to the resignation of the ending our lives.
Morrissey has that wonderful way, for anyone the least bit introspective, of really getting to the core of something painful and human, an turning it into an art form that curls around you, and can influence who you are as a person, and create definition. I think all art, enduring or not, does that.
I could not divorce myself, in 1991, of the pain of my life in the late eighties I associated with Viva Hate, so Morrissey solo became off limits too, and he fell off my radar. But Chad's offer to see Morrissey got a whole lot sweeter, when he mentioned he could get us close to the stage, because of his boyfriend's connection: a doorman at The Plaza Hotel. Well, how could I say no to that!
I never did understand Chad and his boyfriend. I refused to understand, would be a better way to describe my feelings. Their thirty year age gap left me judgemental and doubtful of any real relationship, mainly because I wanted Chad for myself. He did manage to convince me, after many long talks, their relationship started how most relationships do: sexual attraction. The clincher, though, was when I saw Chad's collection of 'girlie' magazines. My I-finally-give-up-you-do-like-older-men sigh sent him into gales of laughter.
I wore my wonderful faux vintage 1940's Girbaud suit that I bought the year before at the downtown Manhattan Century 21, with a Sex Pistols t-shirt, and in the car on the way to the show, I made Chad promise a hundred times he wouldn't try to rush the stage and get arrested, leaving me to walk home from Tinley Park.
Now, of course, I wish would have kept my mouth shut.
He refused any money from me for the ticket, because the price for third row was pretty high, even by today's standards.


The giant Edith Sitwell back drop was an unexpected surprise, and the star of the show. As a child I spent way too much time making up stories about her, and the other dramatic pictures in Life magazine's best-of photo book. Her picture, giant, exposed, and frail, sleepily gazing down upon our adulation of our British pop idol, kind of made me fall in love with Morrissey all over again.
He looked wonderful and sexy, in his now famous gold lame v-neck, and writhed on stage in a way that told me he had moved way beyond his fey eighties ways. The most memorable songs for me that night were Our Frank, because of the storm of cigarettes that erupted over us, and ...Sunday, because of the passion he inspired in the audience. But the most memorable experience for me that night was asking what song is this! over and over to Chad, because I seemed to recognize so few songs of the man who, just a few short years ago, I thought I had known inside out.
I vowed then and there to catch up with Bona Drag (a pillow for my weary head) and Kill Uncle (a box of candy), but I ended up spending the rest of the summer with Salinger and Louder than Bombs.

I wanted to call this post Jesus Loves You, but I'm afraid my gay melodrama would be little sustenance to a Christian desperate enough to Google that phrase...