Monday, September 29, 2008

Bye for Now...

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Hi all. Sorry to say I have to stop blogging til the end of the year.
I'll be back in January of 2009 with more of these ancient stories...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Movies of Myself

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I have been avoiding writing about Danny. Yes oh yes. I wonder where he lives, if he lives, and what his name may be these days. I wonder about the decisions I made in regard to him, the things I said, the things I didn't. This giant tidal wave of questions and doubt and guilt and longing and love and concern wash over me whenever I think about writing about him, and it feels never ending, but I will just let it wash over me, and get it out of my system, and not try to fight it.
He is such an over whelming subject, as well. His story needs his own mini-series- my part of his story, anyway. For all of Danny's story to be told, we would need to resurrect a Russian novelist.

For a month in early 1990, Danny lived with Scot and me, before one of his many moves to New York. I wanted to tell you about my trip to London that year, because it's easier (emotionally), but I guess while Danny lived with us, those were the good times. The best of times.
The word that best describes Danny would be evolution. He was constantly evolving, pushing himself forward. He wanted to be better and purer and truer and as real as he possibly could; the most of anyone in the room.
This, of course, for anyone who knew him, was in direct contrast to what he looked like. He dressed, during most of 1990, like a five year old girl. I know that statement looks bad on paper, but I mean that in the best possible way. He pulled off dressing that way because he was so amazingly hilarious. He got the joke first,before anyone saw it coming, and he was already planning the next one, before you could catch your breath from laughing so hard.
He was also a natural beauty. Those pictures were taken later that year, after he moved to New York. Here's one of us taken while we lived together, at the club Cairo. We took many many many pictures together at the Berlin photo booth, but I would have to rent out the Guggenheim to show all those.
While we're on the subject of pictures, can I just tell you how obsessed I am with this Roxy poster? I know, the things around that poster are very exciting and glamorous, but I can't tell you that story yet. Just look at the Roxy poster. I think because my current apartment has a weird little angled corner like my 1990-92 one did, and I keep expecting to see that poster there when I pass it. Also, as I was digging through my pictures, I realised a lot happened in 1990, and I don't think I've said even one word about Ronny, so I better get crackin' with my story.

Danny and I spent every second we could together in the months before he moved to New York. We went out almost every night, Ronny and Scot usually in tow, we grocery shopped, we cooked, we jogged by the lake, we watched TV, and we spent hours getting ready to go out, but mainly we talked. He could talk a blue streak. So smart. Way too smart. He could turn into Jane Austin or Carl Sagan or Lenny Bruce or Sigmund Freud or Bobby Knight or Gladys Kravitz on the turn of a dime, all while looking like a hairy Madonna. And his eyes, I got lost in them. Like pure green crystal.
Every Monday we went to the Jewel on Addison, spending hours in the beauty section, while he explained how and why aliens would take over the world, why Scot drove him nuts, how Ronny sometimes scared him to death, and how truly excited he was to go to New York to be a fashion illustrator, as he reached for the last Cherries in the Snow, or a couple boxes of Little Debbies. (I wore Love That Red.)
His art was so inspired and beautiful and creative, I knew he would go far. I marvelled at his talent. I loved talking to Danny because I heard where he had come from, and all the difficulties and pain involved, and saw where he was now. He had worked it out. He did what needed to be done. He got it together. He was fearless and went after what he wanted, but most of all he moved forward. That is what I wanted most: to move forward from my past, to evolve out of the circles I felt trapped in. He was living proof it could be done. Every time I left his company, I did it with renewed resolve to get a happy life, striding off with confidence.
But his presence was a bit like Novocain; I felt like I could conquer the world when he was around, but when he wasn't: now what did Danny say I should do...?
I needed more more more Danny. I had to know his secrets to life; I had to know what got him out of bed each morning. So when he finally did move to New York, I wrote him every week, and read each letter a million times. I still have them. And because he took the time write me back each week, I started to think I wasn't a lost cause. I started to believe in myself, because he believed in me. That's all it took. His letters started me down a better path.
But only, to say yet again a phrase you must surely associate to me by know: for a while.




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Link to title song. Play it over and over like I do.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Just Like a Prayer

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He kind of skipped along side me for a bit, and ran ahead, then glanced back at me before he took a right into the alley, by the laundromat that used to be off the corner of Sheridan and Broadway, where I washed my clothes in 1990. The kid startled me, and almost made me drop the magazine tucked under my arm. He was wearing clothes a little too short and revealing for the temperature outside, and how filthy they were was in direct contrast to his youth.
Then I saw the hole in his shorts. They were green gym shorts, not stylish at the time, and the hole in the shorts was right there, in that place, where his hole was.
Is this kid a prostitute? Or does he not know there is a hole in his pants? He can't be more than nineteen! Why would he do that? Where is his family? A hundred more questions raced through my head, as I sat down in the laundromat for a moment, my heart pounding, and breathing heavily, to process what I had just seen, and how I was feeling.
He flitted along, trying to catch the attention of men with wallets, but his soul was erased; there was but a mere sliver of humanity left in him; a mere sliver of willingness to carry on with the life he was living. I looked for him later, but never saw him again.
After a few loads, I picked up my Interview, and read about Madonna's famous dancers from Truth or Dare. The writer had way more fun talking to them then he expected, and the dancers flirted shamelessly with him: Your shoes should throw a party so your pants would come down! OK! High five! Her dancers reveled in who they were and what they were doing, and the author celebrated them as well. As if he had a choice.

The crowd tended to be a little rough at that laundromat, what with the Chateau Hotel across the street, so I usually hid behind Interview, cause it was so big.
Whenever it was that year Madonna came to Chicago for her Blond Ambition Tour, Scot and I were at Berlin one night, and Vogue came on the video screen. I turned to say something to Scot, and saw all the dancers from the video standing behind us, noses in the air.
Scot! Look at the video, and look behind you. I said. Oh my! He said.
We did that for the entire song, looking slowly back and forth from the video, to the dancers. We said nothing to them, and after hiding in the corner for a few more songs, they left.
The Like a Prayer album always reminds me of Rex. I know it should remind me of Wickie-Poo, but I was in Rex's boyfriend's car the first time I heard it, on cassette.
I liked Madonna a lot when I was in high school, in 1982, when Burning Up and it's video would stop us all in our tracks (yes, I went to gay bars during high school) and in '85, when she was on the cover of Spin, and was starting to be talked about for her lacey neon bra-strap ways, but I was rarely one to buy anything in the top 40. (Blondie being the main exception.) And by 1990, I did my best to try to ignore her, but that was an exercise in futility.
Rex was an ex New York model, down on his luck, who had come to be Scot's and my first house guest. Guest isn't the right word; he lived with us for a few months, in a curtained off section of our dining room. I think he came to live with us for a while because his life was spiraling a little out of control in NY, as it can for the young, reckless and beautiful, but I can't imagine how a section of our dining room did him any good. I hope it did. Rex was to fall into Scot's arms a few more times over the years, as Wickie did to me- I think there is just something about being taken care of by someone who likes and understands you.
Rex was still gorgeous and a lot of fun to live with, and he liked to fry up a pan of chicken livers every week, and he had great feet.
His feet are so pretty and white, like mine used to be. Why are mine so blotchy and red these days? I would think to myself, as I gazed at Rex.
He had an amazing wardrobe, because of his retail jobs and connections, and he owned nothing that cost less than five hundred dollars, seriously, but he paid little or nothing for it.
Oh, this is nothing compared to what I used to have, he would say, you know how club kids can be...
No...I said.
They like to destroy us expensively dressed girls, usually by slapping you with bubble gum on the dance floor, so they can make a clean get away. All that Mugler and Gaultier, down the drain. He said.
Oh crap! I said.
His favorite prize was his two thousand dollar croc Ralph Lauren wallet. Free. He was generous enough to let me, his alcoholic room mate, wear almost whatever of his I wanted out to the clubs.
Back in Rex's boy friend's car, with the cassette on in the back round, he had come to our apartment to pick us all up, Rex, Scot and me, for brunch at his place. His name was Tony, and he managed a 'classy' salon, and had the most beautiful condo ever. It was spare and modern, with a big balcony. Rex had lived in Chicago before New York, and he and Tony were on again, off agian. Tony reminded me of a cuter version of Marc Jacobs, with his deep, soulful puppy dog brown eyes, and had the quiet power of a sexy St. Francis, with his seeming ability to lower the blood pressure of all around him. He DJed as a hobby, and had a huge collection on vinyl along the wall, which Scot and I scoured through, making requests.
The food he made was wonerful, but all I could think about was Tony's life. The car, the job, the boyfriend, the home. He was living my dream. Well, not exactly my dream, but pretty damn close.
God, could I ever have this? The things Tony has? Will I ever be this person? Could I ever be this person? I thought to myself.
As he drove us home, we listened to Madonna's cassette again, and the next day I went out and bought one of my own.


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Wild at Heart

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That's a picture of me and Chris at Berlin, in Chicago, in the winter of 1990. He could really nail a picture. No, we are not wearing 'costumes'. That is how we dressed back then. And by 'we' I mean ennui laden, world weary, you-just-might-understand-this-outfit-in-ten-years, homo posers. Chris was a roommate of mine from that year, and I'll tell you all about that later, because I wanted to post that picture of Delhi I've been telling you about all year, because I finally freakin found it, while I was looking for my picture of Skip, which I now cannot find.

Delhi and I are at Limelight, in 1988, with the famous rocknrolla Johnathan in the backround, at work at his bar. I think that's the famous stolen Lipstick belt, though I thought I bought that a few years after that picture, and that's a t-shirt I hand painted from my childhood book of Egyptian stencils. Brad and Ron accused me of being a living version of the SNL skit of the Everything Store, for having a copy of that book: Do you have a chocolate crossbow? Yes I do. No I meant a white chocolate crossbow. Yes I do...as they liked to say to me over and over.
I would be embarrassed about the bleach splattered Le Chateau pants I'm wearing, if I hadn't just seen a picture of Galliano wearing the same pair in a recent Bazaar. Maybe he should hire me. (I also have a funny story about a JC Penny pillow case I wore as a shirt in 1980, that turned up in the first new collection from Balenciaga's new designer a few years ago, but more in that later.)
I found some pictures I took out my back porch in 1990: looking south on Broadway, at the sidewalk I spied Skip. Notice the lovely topiary at the gas station. We really cared back then. All those stores are gone. I think Barry's was there for like a hundred years. And looking north.

A sneak peek for the future, from my trip to London in the spring of 1990: a public phone booth card, NSFW!, a tart card, as they call it, advertising 'for a lady' (for as long as Photobucket will let me keep it there, anyway.)
They still have those kind of cards in the phone booths of London, mainly because they still have phone booths. A cult of collectors have sprung up around these cards, and I'm sure this one is worth thousands. Here's the card from Gaultier's Junior store in Soho, now long gone.
(Go to Soho, oh! Go to waste in the wrong arms... [at 3:40])
Finally, another modern London relic, this one from King's Road, the One to One bar. I'm 99% sure it's a Gap now, because I've spent hours trying to find it; it was in that mini mall, which is still there. I didn't want Consita to take that picture, because I was trying to look cool for the cute bar tender, and that's either Mrs. Clause or Blythe Danner to my left, I'm not sure.

Oh, and that guy in the backround, in the v-neck sweater, in the above picture? I slept with him.


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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Moving Under Ice

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for Carl




Oh, those hung over late eighties Sunday mornings of my youth. Waking up to the taste of day old menthols and gin & tonics intermingling with the flavors of my post binge food of Little Debbies and Fritos. They were the highlight of the weekend. Scot was always up hours before me, and gave me 15 minutes before he headed out the door for Unique thrift store, in case I wanted to go with him.
That is, unless I succeeded in dragging my ass out of bed early enough (Damn you MTV!) for us to watch Just Say Julie together. It's funny, I don't remember craving coffee and food, and running to the kitchen in the morning, like I do now, but needing Julie Brown on a Sunday morning, and a thrift store in the afternoon.
On our walk from Sheridan up Broadway to Montrose, Scot would make fun of me by imitating my body posture: arms crossed and hunched over, and accused me of fearing for my life. Really, I was just in pain from all the previous night's booze. Well, maybe I was a little scared. It's still an 'interesting' area.
Even though we went to Unique every Sunday, rain or shine, Scot had to look at every single LP and 45 record they had. Every one. It took him at least an hour. And God help us if he was in a t-shirt mood, he would have to look at every one of those, too. Needless to say, I had to learn how to pace myself in the housewares, Cher, and shitty art sections.
Back in 1990, we were obsessed with all things seventies. That's all we looked for: knick-knacks, t-shirts, flared pants, dishes, purses, everything seventies. But what we wanted most were platform shoes, and those could be hard to come by. And not like the cock roach-brown, sad, single, laying by itself on the sidewalk like I saw in Hartford, Goodbye Seventies platform, nor a clownish Tequila shoe, but a sexy, hey, nice shoes, Tony pair. You know, like the ones we wore in third grade.
One Sunday, passing a shoe repair store, we noticed a sign that read "We Customize Shoe Height" and in the window was an example of their work. Their service was really intended for people who needed two different shoe heights, but we took a chance and asked him to "platformize" both our shoes.
Scot wanted Converse platforms, and I wanted wingtip. To our joy, the cobbler was more than happy to help us.
At first we were conservative with our height, but soon we remembered our brazen ways, and asked for more and more height glued onto our shoes.
Scot pushed the cobbler over the edge one day by asking him for three two-inch soles on each shoe.
"Oh no! Three way high! Three way high!" Was his reaction, but Scot won out.
I was furious I had to hear this story second hand, because he went on a day without me.
Scot has always had amazing taste in decorating, and he did a great job on our place on a shoe string. Everything in this photo was thrifted, save for the electronics. Everything. Yes, I know.
For his bedroom, he turned it into a mini version of The Factory, by making an industrial, four poster bed, and painting everything a metallic silver.
For me, I just needed my room to be cemetery-at-midnight black til noon, so that's what I worked on.


One night at Berlin, this cute guy started talking to me Hey gorgeous you here alone can I buy you a drink you wanna go out sometime? I actually did one of those turn and look behind me moves, cause this guy was that cute.
His name was Skip, and he was ten years older than me, and a weekend waiter.
He was one of those people then, as now, I think about a lot, because I learned so much from him in our few short months together. Oh, the stuff that came out of my mouth whenever we talked! It left his hanging open, and his eyes darting around for an escape route. A lesser man would have baled out long ago, but Skip knew I needed more than that from him.
I had no intention of telling you about Skip now; I tried think of another light hearted story from 1990, but sometimes, stories take a path of their own.
His is a painful memory or me, because I still crave his company and his touch, and the sight of him in his tighty-whities, even twenty years later. Sadly, that can never be, for he is no more, he is as dust.
Skip liked a public place for our (his) amorous actions, especially a parked car. Another place that stands out is the Three Penny, a long gone Lincoln Ave theater. I don't remember the movie, but I sure remember his 'enthusiasm'.
One Sunday I spied on him unseen as he walked up my side walk, on his way to my door. For the life of me, try as I might, I could not read the expression on his face. I took that as a good sign.
With him, I was the most open and honest than any other lover to date. He held my hand the night I confessed, through sobs, how I knew I was destroying myself, and I didn't know what to do about it.
After a while our meetings together became about conversation, because he was trying to get back together with the boyfriend he was living with.
Yes, his ex's emotional outbursts, of which he had no problem performing for me, me the other woman, were frequent and uncomfortable.
Though, I can understand why the ex screamed whenever I was around: Skip was someone worth fighting for. The ex won.
I think what triggered this memory of Skip was seeing a black panther TV lamp at the antique store recently. Black panther TV lamps were always Pavlovian for me, because one sat in his downstairs neighbor's window for years after I knew Skip. That's how he told me to find him, the first time I went to his place. Look for the black panther in the window.
In the late nineties, I had a feeling about Skip. A feeling he may not be around an more. 1999 was an odd year for me, for I had many unusual paranormal experiences. One morning I saw 'him' standing over me, for a brief moment, and I took it as a sign to find out what, if anything, may have happened to Skip. I debated knocking on his door, for I lived just down the street, but I knew the ex wouldn't want to see me coming round again.
Not long after, I saw the ex at a coffee shop, looking really really bad, and that only confirmed my suspicion.
So one night I was with my mom and aunt at the restaurant Skip worked in for years, and finally asked about him.
Yes, he was gone, and greatly missed, they said.
Yea, missed... I miss him too. I said


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