Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Caves of New York III


Sorry, sorry, so sorry for the two month break from my stories. I've been writing a play, auditioning, acting, getting ready to act, and helping a sick friend, to name but a few things going on in my life these days. And change. Change, change, fucking change.
I'm very excited about my play, but with all my piles of notes, I'm a little afraid I'm turning into that dingy looking guy at my library, who I see slumped over his scribbled-on note books, taking up the whole table. Piles and piles of dirty spiral note books, containing God knows what- madness or a master piece. Is he another Darger, or just a guy doomed to write down every random thought that comes into his head.
Maybe some day I'll ask him what he's writing.

Erin and I went to New York together in December of 1990. We stayed with her uncle, and his wife and two young daughters, in their condo in the Village.
Erin knew of my love for New York City, and I carefully planned our trip- mainly what clubs on what night.
My first trip to New York, in 1980, started at the World Trade Center, so I felt all trips should start there, so I've brought many friends down town over the years as an introduction to the great isle I love so much.
On a bench in Battery Park one early eve with Erin on that trip, watching the colors of a fading day reflect off the Statue of Liberty, I thought about how much my life had changed in the past ten years; it seemed if I squinted just right, a lot of my dreams had actually come true. And I was happy. But I was always happy in New York.
One night at her uncle's, were getting dolled up to meet our old friend Rex at his place, as the girls watched, among their toys, non-plussed a boy was putting on make up, on their bed.
Her uncle is a painter, and had applied his art to all the doors in their loft. I hadn't experienced such a spare home before; there was nothing but art in their living room, and a lone chair that hung from the ceiling. Well, there was also a large collection of shoes by the front door, for the big rule of the house was shoes off!, which Erin and I found funny and annoying, but if you have ever spent time walking the streets of New York, you could concede the point.
Despite it's minimalism, their home had warmth and a heart, due a lot to the art work, but also to the two little girls, and the frilly, pink clutter they can't help but attract.

Before we left for Rex's, and a night of debauchery, they insisted we go with them to see 'the real Santa', at Macy's. We took the bus uptown, the girls leading the way like we were in their backyard, off to see their club house.
This was my first time in Macy's, and the line to see Santa was amazing, scary, and fatally long, and thank God there exists the brilliant and now classic story David Sedaris gave the world, about his experiences there. Read Santaland Diaries, if you haven't! Who could have ever imagined the humor, pathos, tragedy, and human drama lurking under all that fake snow...
I begged off the three hour wait, and let Erin fulfil her auntly duties, to Christmas shop. I remember buying Scot an Andy Warhol coloring book, and getting a scary comment from a teenager on the escalator, about my twenty dollar Canal Street Rolex.
We finally met Rex at his pre-war apartment in midtown, which he shared with a friend, living the classic New York life: tiny apartment, huge wardrobe. At this moment in 1990, fashion was Gaultier, and they even had the necklace of his I had seen in The Face.
We went to Save the Robots, where the vision or a giant roomful of pink plastic pig chairs is forever burned into my memory, and where we met up with one of their gorgeous friends. He was the type of beauty you couldn't help but gawk at. He was like every guy in high school I ever had a crush on, all rolled into one.
I sat on a plastic pig imagining kissing his perfect feet, (he wore sandals in December!) until I was caught, and my only punishment was his wry, knowing smile.
Oh, to wield such power... I thought to myself.
Erin and I ran out of money, and went to a bank lobby ATM, on our way to the next club, where we met a woman who lived there during it's off hours. Hoping for a tip, she guided us through our ATM experience.
Erin promptly treid to help this woman change her life, and gave her some money under the condidtion she promised to go to social services.
People never really try to help me. She said. Thanks for trying.
We met up with Rex and his gang at an after hours club, where he put our names on the door. I remembered the name of that place until about five years ago...
For me, going back to the cities I'v visited over and over, as the years go on, is a little like going to Knoxville, and expecting the World Fair to be there: I miss all the old haunts. The Brain, The Saint, all the Junior stores... Thank God museums don't close; they are like old friends to me.
At this after hours club, Erin and I lounged bored at 4 am, in the vip room, surrounded by most of the people we thought we left back in Chicago. The only highlight was watching a fawn-like barback try to sneak a punch bowl filled with God only knows what, and attempt to flee before the crazy hoard caught a wiff of the free 'booze' and pounced on it like pirhana on a clumsy rabbit.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Caves of New York II


I went to New York in 1990, to visit my friends Danny and Ronny, but also to see if I still wanted to move there. I had gone ten years earlier with my family, to see some of downtown for a day, for we lived in Connecticut at the time, and many memories are forever burned into my mind from that trip, but when I saw the 'basement' of the World Trade Center, as I called it, and it's city beneath the city, my first thought was I want to work here!
During the eighties, I lived mainly in Wisconsin and Chicago, and I spent most of my free time fantasizing about New York and London. I read all the magazines that centered around the parts of the cities I craved, mainly night clubs and fashion, and I saw myself living in one of the two one day.
When 1990 came and went, and almost all of my friends moved to New York, I wondered why I still lived where I did, and what my life was going to be about, now that the eighties were over.
I spent most of that decade in gay bars and night clubs, and never questioned my place there; I was still a kid after all.
For me, the eighties were: DIY! Androgyny! Drinking! Buying records! Drugging! Sleeping in the hallway cause my ride left! Sleeping in a stranger's bed! Sleeping til 3pm! Burgundy hair! Dancing to cool songs with cool people! Spending every second with friends! Starting fashion trends! Having enough money for the bars! Catching as catch could! Partying all night and all day and still looking great! Running all over town acting queeny and getting into trouble! Not caring if I paid my bills! Running up to the edge of disaster, again and again!

But at 24, none of that seemed important to me any more. It seemed childish. Bars and clubs were starting to bore me, probably because most of my friends were gone; they were either gone or falling down the drug rabbit hole, and into worlds I wasn't ready to visit. Work was going from bad to worse, and I hated every moment there. Did I hate working? My job? My career? I didn't know. I spent many many long long hours thinking about what the nineties were going to mean to me, bumbling, stumbling, hung over mornings, and bleary afternoons thinking Now What? Now Where? Now Who? Now Why?, wondering those questions, not asking them, desperate and worried, while wandering around my apartment, and the streets of Chicago.

Back in 1990, after my visit to New York, I knew I was ready to move there. But when I was back in my routine in Chicago, I would always change my mind. I have given myself the gift of living in a city. I thought to myself. I live here.

Danny and I spent our time together running around New York, going to the Met and the MOMA, having lunch in the minuscule Bagel next to his apartment, shopping in Soho for cheap club wear at Canal Street Jean and on Canal for fake Chanel t-shirts and jewelry, hanging out with Pat Fields at her store and buying up the place, visiting Bonnie at her rent control on St. Mark's, (God, the past lives that seeped out of those walls!) across from the 'anthill' as Danny called it. It was a large recovery house, with many doors and stairways, that indeed did resemble an anthill, when it's inhabitants endlessly crawled all over it. Later I found out that building was The Dom during one of it's incarnations, where Warhol filmed the Velvet Underground. At night, of course, we went out. I only really remember being at the Palladium with him on that trip, and the Monster. We had so much fun getting ready to go out, the actual going out was secondary, because I didn't have him all to myself any more.
He was fighting with Ronny during that time, rather Ronny was fighting with him, I think Ronny was jealous of him, and he wasn't speaking to him anymore. They were living together, sleeping in the same room, but not speaking. When Danny wasn't around, Ronny would tell me how his new life in New York was, which reminds me, I have to do an entire post on Ronny sometime soon. He was pretty amazing. He was glad he had finally moved there, and found a great salon to work for, and encouraged me to move there, too, as he dressed for work. His clean and simple outfit of white jeans and a white dress shirt and a blue bandanna dew rag became a favorite look of mine for years after.
On my last night in New York, Danny and I went to the Monster. It's a local Village gay pub, with dancing in the basement. The week of partying was starting to get to us, and we dressed down for the occasion, and had a more subdued conversation while we got ready for the evening. I was a little shocked by this, because Danny never dressed down ever, that I could remember, and he looked great in his preppy college kid clothes. He said he started to realize the kind of guys he attracted when he was dressed androgynously were not the kind he wanted to spend more than an evening with, let alone have a relationship. That simple act of changing the way he presented himself to the world, told me he was starting to change his priorities, too.
He kept trying to get me to talk to this guy that was checking me out, and we hung out in the basement til they closed.
"But Danny, I want to spend time with you! I want to talk to you!" I said
"That's OK, we talked enough- just talk to him! See what happens!" He said.
The bar closed, and we went to the bodega by his place, to get some junk food, something we did often back home. Well, who was in the beer aisle but Mr. Monster Guy, so we talked a little while. After a few moments, Danny joined the conversation, as we completed our purchases, and walked onto the street, where we parted ways with Monster Guy.
"I'm proud of you, Brian. You did something you are usually too afraid to do."
And that, as it turned out, is a good way to describe my experiences and life in the nineties...

NY, '90


Same Old Scene

A rare imix for you to enjoy. Rare cuz I flames on the Apples.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Caves of New York


I am obsessed with the year 1981. I spent hours today on Pocket Calculator trying to remember which Walkman I had. My best guess is the Sony WM-3.
I should say which Walkman Brad gave me. He bought it off a kid in Milwaukee for 25 bucks, that's way over a hundred in the store, bro!, during one of the times he ran away from home. I can't believe I ever got rid of it. I hate myself for getting rid of stuff. I think that was the real reason I was so attracted to King Tutankhamen as an eight year old: listen to my voice...be like me and keep your shit forever!....
(I got that game for Christmas in 1974. I distinctly remember seeing my brothers and step dad frolicking in the Christmas Day snow through the window of the dining room, wanting to be out there, too, but unable to tear myself away from my new game. I can't go.....The Mummy is talking to me!!...I am finding it really hard resisting pressing that Buy It Now button...)

I've turned into an archaeologist of my own life. Via the computer, I dig up all the things I lost over the years. This week alone I got three Bowie Scary Monster records in the mail, and I await with baited breath the forthcoming email from ebay telling me I have the chance of bidding on a WM-3.
I do still have some original things of mine from 81, but sadly, only a dusty few. Why do I want this stuff back, anyway? 1981 wasn't that great of year for me, at all, but I guess the few times it was good, it was really good, and I want to remember, in the fullest detail possible, those memories. Old things can trigger memories for me, even though I'm unearthing another's possessions. Some things from '81 I miss, and don't know where to start looking: my pink Antonio t-shirt, that red shirt I bought from Chess King, the Debbie sun glasses I got from the back of Rolling Stone, all the clothes Brad gave me, the silver bracelet my mom gave me for Christmas, my Cortez's, and the folders I drew on in high school. I roll these things over and over in my brain, almost like I'm trying to force them into reality.

I was in Paris a few weeks ago, where I made Bronzino Man II, (Don't get me started on him!) and what did I find on my Louvre map but a little box that said Proust's Bedroom. All the air went out of my lungs. I ran up there, cursing my cheap little digital camera, (a camera I plan on keeping forever, btw) to bask in Proust's things.
Hands shaking a bit, I asked the female guard where his room was.
Down that hallway she said as she pointed, a little startled at my enthusiasm.
If I had wanted to, I could have snuck in and sat on his bed, security was pretty lax. I contented myself with a lean over the velvet rope barricade, to look into his mirror, and I 'accidentally' brushed my hand up against his chaise lounge.
I could be very comfortable here. I thought to myself.

In 1990, I went to New York City twice. In the early fall by myself, and later that winter with Erin. When I went alone, I stayed with Danny and Ronny at their new apartment in the Village, just off Sixth Ave.
Eyeeeeee love New Yooork! Danny would sing out the window, across the street to the Pink Pussy Cat Boutique, despite the rancid cooking smells seeping up through the walls, from the half dozen restaurant smoke stacks that surrounded their apartment. Because of that, to this day, walking past a restaurant can gag me out. They lived on the 8th or 10th floor of a building devoid of an elevator, which was newly renovated, and a good size for New York. Unless you have a lot of money, New York apartments are comfortable only to first graders.
This was my first trip back to New York since I was there as a teenager with my family, ten years earlier. I was a little upset with myself for missing the eighties in New York; missing Warhol and John Sex and Basquiat and Keith Haring, and the Peppermint Lounge and Mudd Club and Danceteria, as well with missing London in the eighties, so I cranked up my Party Monster-Odometer full blast, and I set out to leave my mark on Ninties New York.

Leaving my mark on New York started with breaking a dildo. A Jeff Stryker, no less. I know what you're thinking, you're thinking Wow! He broke a Jeff Stryker! But it wasn't like that. Well, it was and it wasn't. I was using it, but not using it, when it broke. I'm not too sure I would ever want to meet the person who could actually use it, if you know what I mean. It was their other roommate's, whose name I can't remember right now, let's call him Ken, it was Ken's dildo, and I threw it unwrapped in the garbage can. I could have died.
Of all the things to break! A giant dildo! No one will ever believe I broke it by not using it! No one! They'll all think I'm a loosey-goosey! I will never live this down! Now I have to buy Ken a new one, and those things cost a fortune! I can't afford a new Jeff Stryker!
Those were the thoughts racing through my head as I walk into the Pink Pussy Cat. So rather than let Danny and his roommates think I'm a dildo-clepto, and feign innocence if someone were to ask where the Jeff Stryker was, Where the hell is the goddamn Jeff Stryker! Which one of you bitches has the Jeff Stryker! I admitted to them what had happened. Ken didn't ask me to replace it, but he said did freak out when he lifted the lid to the trash can, and saw a gigantic disembodied penis laying there.
If you are so inclined to Google a picture of a Jeff Stryker phallus, you have to find a picture of someone holding one, to appreciate it's size. It's a little like that scene in Aviator, when Howard Hughes realized you couldn't tell how fast the planes were traveling in the clear blue sky, for his movie Hell's Angles, because they weren't moving past something. I need clouds! Give me clouds!

Danny and I went out to the clubs every night; the Palladium, the last night of Save The Robots, Pyramid, and the Monster. The Palladium was a gorgeous old building, with a fun week night party at the time, and I mainly remembered how extreme some of it's patrons were dressed, I thought it was performance art. Performance art walking around a huge, empty gallery. Palladium is mammoth, and needed thousands to look alive. We didn't stay long; just long enough for Danny to break up with an 'annoying' friend.
What is going on with you two? I asked him, as I saw his friend storm off in tears.
I told her I didn't want to talk to her any more, and she kept saying 'What have I done to get this kind of treatment from you!!' He said, and laughed.
I pretended to laugh with him, and asked, So Danny, when is it my turn?

come back later for Caves of New York II, and probably III.

r.i.p., Lux