Monday, December 06, 2010


Hello Dear Readers,
I missed my ghostly girls! (Actually, that's Constance Bennett) That font, if you didn't know, is based on Moz's lively scrawl...
Anywho, I am on a writing deadline right now; I must have the first act of my play ready by the 22nd. It is based on a story I wrote ten years ago, which has found it's way to my blog, because it happened to me!
Play writing is going better than I could have hoped, and I am enjoying it! I sure hope you will be able to see it live and in person someday, here in this lovely town of Chicago. As soon as that happens, I'll let you know.
See you in January, with a story about my excesses of '93.


Friday, September 24, 2010

How Can I Even Try To Go On?


So, to pick up where I left off, Danny and I are in New York City, in Pyramid Club, on Christmas eve, 1992, and it is empty, save for the afore described bartender, and a friend or two of his, sitting at the bar. After making a big deal that I was visiting from Chicago, I pass around what I thought was orange flavored candy I bought in Chinatown. I assumed it was candy, it looked like Chinese candy words, but in reality it was loose orange tea. Dehydrated orange peels, to be precise. After a few seconds, we're spitting out the pungent mess. I buy everyone I 'harmed' a drink, which I was loath to do, because that was all the money I had for the night.
Not everyone in Chicago is a total idiot! I said in embarrassment.
Danny and I chugged a few 40s to be frugal before arriving at Pyramid, while we got ready to go out, because he was low on cash, too. Getting ready with Danny was something that was usually more fun than the clubs themselves, and I treasured another night of it.
We stayed a little longer at Pyramid and danced, and then we were off to Cafe Aback, where we met Cheri, a coworker of Danny's. His roommate Michael worked there too, so it was, thank God, free drinks. In the taxi on the way there, he kept making me promise to not let him dance for Tony, the owner. He said he was tired of performing there for free; he'd happily do it if he got paid. Tony could always charm a dance out of him, no matter how hard he resisted.
"Tonight I'm determined! No pay, no dance!" Danny kept repeating.
After listening to Tony's non-stop begging for a while, Danny gave in and begrudgingly flung himself around the dining room to Holiday. Cheri and I stood at a little side bar in another room with a pool table, to wait out Danny's performance. I knew she hadn't known him very long, and I wasn't surprised when after giving her a look that suggested this was an inherent need of Danny's, his need to perform, and impossible to stop once the ball got rolling, she gave me a look as if to suggest:"I know."
The bartender fed us shot after shot, because, according to him, we were dressed as the picture of 1920s Berlin decadence meets 1970s Harlem superfly, in our sequins and polyester, black lipstick and rouged eyes.
I just love how you two look! he said every time he slid us a Jager.
We were bored waiting for Danny to stop dancing around the dining room, a room we could hear but not see too well from our position, bored but mesmerised by a guy trying to teach a buxom girl how to shoot pool. She was obviously a prostitute, but she was hot, so the guy didn't seem to care what the night would end up costing him, we concluded between sips of Jager.
Because the way they were dressed though, Cheri and I kept checking with each other to make sure this was still indeed a bar in New York in the 90s, and not some early eighties soft core porn movie; their clothes looked like costumes to us, and they way she giggled sexily, while he pressed determinedly into her backside, was all too clichéd, and their little show just went on and on, never getting past the "now darlin, aim your stick at the little white ball" phase. I'm sure to them we looked liked impoverished immigrants, who somehow wandered into the hottest bar in New York, and who, by the looks on our faces, obviously had no understanding of the ins and outs of American seduction. There was just the four of us in the room, so it was hard not to notice each other.
Dang Cheri, I'm really drunk, are you? I asked.
Yeah! We gotta get away from this bartender! she said.
Meanwhile, the party in the dining room was roaring at full steam, Madonna turned up full blast, and the few faces I glimpsed seem to like the show Danny was giving them.
After what felt like hours, Danny was back with us and soaking wet, demanding we 'leave this instant!' He refused to talk about what happened in the dining room, promising to tell us all about it tomorrow. We were off to a big night club, exactly what and where I can't recall... it may have been Twilo, or someplace like that.
The next day was Christmas, and we opened presents, Michael, Danny, and I all warm and cozy in our pj's and hang overs. Danny gave me a Barbie, Madonna's Sex book, which I sold on Ebay a few years ago to help pay for an unexpected move, and a book of Jean Cocteau drawings, which I still have. I don't remember what I gave him for Christmas that year other than the necklace I made for him, because I was pretty broke, having just started a new job. After presents we went to brunch, where Michael told his side of the dining room story, and Danny told his side of what happened at Cafe Aback...
It turns out there was an unseemly group of people at a table, not so subtly suggesting a payment from the owner, in return for certain favors. The owner didn't want to make any payments, so the group decided to demonstrate that they were serious. (Do your own math.)
So while Danny danced around the dining room, one of them threw a bottle of beer at him, which missed him but smashed into a wall. A certain celebrity saw who threw it, and yelled at him, saying he could hurt someone, where he said 'shut up n****r', which sent her boyfriend flying across the table, aiming for the insulter's throat. More beer and beer bottles fly across the room, but the music was so loud, and the crowd was so wasted, no one really noticed, myself included.
There was like $20, 000 worth of damage to the restaurant! Michael said. Oh well.

For lack of funds, we spent the rest of Christmas day at the movies and walking around Manhattan without incident. I was leaving early the next day.
I couldn't sleep that night, due in part to the large chunk of sexual tension which had found it's way into our already cramped twin bed. When two pragmatists share a bed, it's always a long night...
Anyway, I hadn't realised I didn't have money for the train to La Guardia, so we tore the place apart, looking for loose change. Danny said I was going to have to ask a stranger for some change, which I ended up doing; I was a dime short. I got lost trying to find the subway from his house, because I never took it back then. After walking up and down the same block four times in my high heel platforms goddamn the seventies!, lugging a bag the weight and feel of a dead body, I finally find the subway entrance, and wait twenty minutes for the train and board the nearly empty car, Danny's written instructions in hand for the transfer from the train to the bus in Queens. After a few stops, a tall man in a Santa hat boarded and made a big production about putting his briefcase on the floor in the middle of the car, almost like he was doing performance art, causing everyone on the train to stop what they were doing and gasp in fear to watch him. All he did was pull out a few papers, which made me wonder why everyone over reacted the way they did.
A few stops later, a hundred ten year old kids squeeze into my train car and fill it up, shattering the early morning calm with their excited chatter. At the next stop, the doors open, and a very drunk homeless lady, clutching an open bottle of vodka in each hand, swayed a moment before she stumbled into the car, to the only open space, which of course, was next to me. She gave me a heartbreaking look that seemed to say:
"Yeah, most people look at me like that. Don't worry, hun, nuttin'll happen to ya."
Please don't let her puke on my Gaultier backpack! I prayed to myself. She eventually moved on without incident, and a few stations further, the train stopped and the doors opened, and a voice inside me screamed:
Get off the train!
But this isn't the right stop! I answered back.
Check again!
And sure enough, this was the stop I needed, and I jumped off in the nick of time. I was distracted by the penises Danny drew on his note for me. I thought, Why does he draw penises on everything? as I almost miss my stop, almost making this horrible day I was having a million times worse.
By the time I got the bus in Queens, I knew I was going to miss my flight, and I started to freak out; I never missed a flight before, and I didn't know what was going to happen once I got to the airport- I had no money. I was so upset, I got off at the wrong airline, and had to beg a ride back on the bus.
"Sir, I'm lost, and I don't have any money, and I need to get to United Airlines!" I said, voice quavering and eyes welling up, to the driver.
"CAN WE HURRY THIS ALONG!" Barked a hardened old New York woman.
He gave me a smile and her a dirty look, and motioned me aboard.
At La Guadria, the ticket agent said she could easily put me on the next available flight, and I began to relax a little, til I remembered I would have to panhandle again at O'Hare, to get the train back into the city, and to work.
Some kind stranger gave me train fare, but I had to walk many blocks from the train stop in the freezing rain to get to work.
Of course it's raining! I thought, getting soaked to the bone.
As I sat idle for a few hours doing nothing more than a haircut or two, and waiting for the day to end so I could crash into bed, little did I realise that was my last weekend of drinking, and a new phase of my life was starting. I was going to learn how to grow some legs, and walk on dry land...


Abbaesque S.O.S.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Only Love Can Break Your Heart


I forgot to tell you my little New York story, my last drunken hurrah in New York story, one that took place in December of 1992, when I went to visit Danny. I had my last drink some time after Christmas that year, a Christmas I have absolutely no recollection of, (if you're a reader of my blog, you know that's unusual) so this was my last party, as it were, and it was a doozy...

Danny was living with his friend Michael, near the top of a ten floor walk up. It was a large, shabby looking building, in the lower east side, and theirs was a tiny little two bedroom apartment. The building felt smaller than it should be; walls and ceilings were cramped in and close, and everything looked covered in the dust and grime of a thousand broken dreams. The stairwell was also scaled down, built for the size humans were a hundred years ago, and deep grooves were worn into the marble stairs, where in my imagination, hundreds of salesmen trudged up and down over the years to hundreds of deaths, and where slipper clad old ladies carried their shopping-bagged burdens til the day they were found partially eaten by their unfed cats. That was one damned depressing looking apartment building.
Was it built this way? I thought to myself, the first time I climbed the stairs with Danny. Or was it carved up and shrunk down, to make as many apartments as they could, out of the original apartments?
Opening the door into the two bedroom place they shared though, the lightness of the walls and floors, and the large, unshaded windows letting in gallons of sunlight drove out any sense of bleakness, and it actually looked like a nice place to live.
Danny covered his bedroom walls with fashion pictures that inspired him, porn, and his artwork, a picture of which I still have, and in typical New Yorker fashion, he made use of every square inch of his room, giving it that 'early storage space' look. He was determined to become a fashion illustrator, and kept at it for a couple years, inspired by Warhol, and fueled by his friend Bonnie's success, and he drew up quite a collection for his portfolio, some of which he gave to me: Danny, circa 1991

(Now that I write this, I'm remembering I did spend Christmas of '92 with Danny in New York; I mistakenly thought I took this trip before Christmas.)

Alphabet City, where he lived, was still kind of dangerous back then, it seemed to me, and at night I would literally run down the street til I found a cab, but during the day, when the sun light shone bright on public school's late nineteenth century façade, I was more relaxed. I remember reading about Alphabet City in a Blondie interview from the 80s, and presenting it to my ninth grade English class as part of an oral project, because I thought it was the coolest name ever, and vowed to myself to one day live there. Now I wasn't so sure.
Danny trotted that portfolio around New York for a few months, never having much luck, and shared with me many depressing experiences he had hearing the word 'no'. I heard his many stories of how unfashionable he found the fashion world; the bowls of junk food on desks, the bad skin and hair, the sloppy dressers, and the piles and piles of crap strewn about in the designer's and fashion mag's offices: lotions, make up, perfume, bags, shoes, sunglasses, anything you can think of, sitting around half used and discarded, all given freely by companies vying for a little fashion mag ink. What he found most depressing though, was the greedy gleam in the eyes of the staffers who saw his talents, and wanted him to leave his work overnight, or wanted to take his portfolio to another room, where he knew it would be plagiarized. He knew it for a fact because he saw an idea of his in a mag a month after they had turned him down. I loved his work, and did my best to make him keep at it, knowing in my heart the depths of his talent.

My flight got me into New York Christmas Eve, and as Danny hadn't a key to loan me, I met him at the restaurant he worked then, Elephant and Castle. It was small and quiet, and he served me a lovely meal. He liked waiting there, for the most part, but his manager got on his nerves, but in true Wickie-Poo fashion, he turned it into a comedy. That night, an infamous line was born, though I had just missed it's arrival, I knew we would be saying it to each other for years to come:
"Brian! Cheng, my manager over there just said the best thing to me! I was talking to Tracey, the other server, and I didn't know it but Cheng was standing behind me the whole time, and after about ten minutes, he yells 'Talking! Talking! Talking! You ne'er shut up! If you no stop talking so goddamn much Danny, I have to fire you!" in his heavy Chinese accent, making us jump and bust out laughing! That's all we've been saying for the past hour! 'Talking talking talking! I ne'er shut up!'"
"But didn't he say he was going to fire you?" I asked.
"Oh, he won't! He loves me, and the customers do too."
To this day, whenever I meet someone who likes to talk, those words echo in my mind...
Danny told me a lot of E&C stories that night: Koons (NSFW!) came in twice a week, getting so wasted and grabby, the staffers begged Danny for him to wait on him.
Oh shit! It's the Artist! Danny, you deal with him! Please! they begged.
Actually, none of them knew who he was, just that he was a some artist, and one day on that trip I bought a Tashen book of his porno art, where Danny recognized him.
Oh, it's the artist. He said, flipping through the book, nonplussed. And one of Danny's heroes, Franco Moschino, came in not long before he died, and Danny saw a glimmer of recognition in Moschino's eyes, because Danny had sent him dozens of pictures of himself and his work over the years. But, alas, although they are kindred spirits, Moschino kept his distance, and even though he waited on him, they hardly spoke.

(On a side note, I must tell you another quick Moschino story. I've been looking for a while now on ebay trying to find a magazine with an ad for his eponymous perfume, to use as the top photo for this story. He launched the perfume in '89 or so, and for some reason, any fashion mag from that time is now twenty bucks. It's an expensive gamble for me to take, not knowing if there is a copy of the ad I can scan. For whatever reason, I can't find it on a web image search anywhere, except for this lone small picture:


I really need a larger version of it. I'll keep searching. I'm also looking for an image of his other infamous ad, one for his clothing line. It's a model shot by Fabrizio Ferri in black and white silhouette, with a large model airplane perched on her head as a hat. I Can't find them any where! [Alright, I'll take a picture of the Ferri ad from a fashion book I have, but it's not the same...]
Anyway, I was walking down Halsted one day in 1990, and saw a crude xerox of that Moschino perfume ad taped to a light pole, with a big black X over it, and the words Women Aren't This Stupid! scrawled on the bottom. You see, in the ad a woman was drinking the perfume through a straw, even though the text proclaimed: For External Use Only!
I saw that image as a satiristic a take on the days of prohibition, when Chanel No. 5 was a hit, and women reportedly drank their perfume, because at the time France made it with potato alcohol, so it wouldn't kill you to do so. I also had that image on a t shirt, which I got a Marshall Field's as a gift with purchase, when the perfume first came out. I knocked people over to get that tshirt! I about fainted when I saw it. But someone was so offended by Moshino's ad, they wanted the world to know. God, how I wish I would have snatched that flyer off the pole for my scrap book, and how I wish I still had that t-shirt, even though I wore it til it hung on me in rags...)


After dropping off my luggage at the apartment when his shift ended, we walked around Chinatown my first night there, buying up fake Rolexes, fake Chanel button earrings and t shirts, and buying vials of ginseng (the only hangover cure, in my book) and weird flavored candy, like chicken soup and orange pekoe. We scoured the surplus stores on Canal Street looking for anything we could turn into a club look, and hung out for a while with Pat Field in her old 8th Street store, trying everything on, and buying more than we could afford, because her stuff is so great and she is so much fun, and running into Steven Sprouse on the way out, who gave us the once over and a smile. You could see infinity into those blue eyes of his. They were just startling.
The first club we went to was Pyramid, because I had never been there, and I had wanted to go since 1984, when I first heard that Nina Hagen song. It was in his neighborhood, so it was first on our list. We were very under dressed, and almost froze jogging the few blocks to the club, on that chilly December night, forgoing the responsibility of a clunky jacket that would only get in the way on the dance floor. Danny wore an outfit entirely of his own creation: sheer black jeans worn with a sheer black jockstrap, and a sheer black tank top under a sheer black t shirt, a Mr. T quantity of rosaries, all topped off with Cherries In The Snow lipstick, and a large white rabbit fur Russian hat.
I was still in my "I want to be Jane Forth from the early seventies!" mode at the time, and wore my silk lined black bell bottomed wide lapeled suit, and a tenné surfer boy hair do, which Danny found most appalling. The only thing he liked about the 70s was that it got him to the 80s. I also debuted my latest hobby, and wore a multi-stranded red and black beaded choker I made especially for the trip. I made many of them back then, usually accented with an ankh or Maltese cross. I made an all pearl one for Danny, and he said, to my surprise, I should try to sell them at Saks. I created them with beads from thrift store necklaces, and wire from Ace Hardware, and thought them too indelicate for mass appeal, but he disagreed.
Behind the bar at Pyramid early that Christmas Eve was what I would call a living sculpture, slinging cocktails in a hooded white shroud, covered from head to toe in rhinestone brooches, silver Christmas tree decorations, and blinking white lights, looking like a gay gay gay version of the ghost of Christmas Past. Only in New York! He greeted us with a hearty Hello girls!, his surprisingly baritone voice echoing around the empty room. We had the place mostly to ourselves, for in New York I've noticed, and London too, if you're not at the right club at the right time, you're alone...

This post is getting very long, so I'll tell you the rest of the story....later.


St Etienne
some of my early 90s illustrations: Michaelangelo and Boy George
(and yes, I sent George many versions of that illustration, back in the day)
I can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the Moschino ad is now in my photo collection to the right. I've been wanting it there for years!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

September 4, 2010

Walking down Lincoln Ave and eating an apple, I saw a tall thin man walking toward me, with short white hair, and a dingy collar length beard. He strode with quick, deliberate steps, chin up, with excellent posture. In my eyes he walked a fine line between looking like a homeless man and an eccentric; his clothes fit him well and were color coordinated, but they were doused with a noticeable amount of grime. His face was shaded with just enough desperation and pathos, though, to make me cover my apple with my hand, lest something yucky float off him and land on it, causing me to unintentionally ingest him.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

September 2, 2010

Leaving work today, I couldn't tell if the sky was dark because of the storm clouds, or now that summer is on the wane, it's just getting darker earlier. I eventually chose the latter, subconsciously telling myself, perhaps, I was ready for fall. When I turned left onto Addison, to get the train, I was stunned to see a bright khaki, dreamlike sky unveiling itself from a dark ceiling of clouds in the far, far west. As I walked on, and looked north and west, I saw the dark ceiling zigzagging east and off to the horizon, revealing scattered vignettes of clouds that looked almost like mountains, an effect caused by the many tall buildings obscuring my view. Whenever I see those mountainous forms, I'll transport myself someplace that has actual mountains, and imagine my life there, and how I would probably be blasé at the sight of a 25,000 foot tall rock formation, and wishing I lived back in the city...

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

September 1, 2010

Getting on the #50 Damen bus tonight, I was a little disoriented and thought to myself, damn! all I ever do anymore is ride buses! I walked to the back, where I saw an amazing looking man seated by himself reading a book. He was so good looking, I was afraid to look at him again, for fear of being unable to tear my eyes away from his perfect sandy-grey hair, they way his chest looked in his fitted shirt, and the nice summer glow on his arms. And reading! Books are always sexy. I sat down across the aisle from him, but I was soon lost in the world of my own book, and forgot about him until he got up to get off at his stop, when all of the sudden, in an instant, I was eye level with his butt in his well fitted jeans, and someone was telling him to catch your ear phones, you're about to drop them! Thanks, he said, the sexiest thanks I've ever heard. I wasn't the only one on this bus to notice him. And oh my, that's an adult mohikan cut into that sandy-grey hair of his. I couldn't believe how better looking this guy was when he stood up, and I did my usual, thirty second imaginary life time together, really liking the fake life that flashed before my eyes. As he walked out the backdoor, and walked to the corner to wait for the bus to drive off so he could cross the street, my eyes never left him, really enjoying how his body moved under the clothes he was wearing, and hoping against hope he might sneak a peek at me, when whammo! he turned back to look at me and gave me a little smile.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August 31, 2010

Leaving home I hadn't time for my normal and very necessary coffee and breakfast, so I was glad the train got me to my meeting a little faster than normal, and I had a few extra minutes to grab something at that Swedish restuarant on Belmont. I've been going there for years, and liked the young lady who normally took my order, but she wasn't there, so her co-worker The Guy Who Likes Me, as I've nicknamed him, got my coffee. He likes to lean in a little too close to hear my order over the ever present cacophonous din, and his eyes never blink, as he looks deep into my soul, as if emitting brainwaves into me that say yes, I want to make love to you... I had forgotten about him, and when I saw him behind the counter, I thought oh, it's The Guy Who Likes Me, but I quickly noticed his eyes didn't lock on to mine like they used to, but kept drifting to the left. When he stepped away to get me some java, I glanced over to see what he was looking at, and saw a gorgeous blonde, looking fresh off the bus from Des Moines, hired to seat customers, who I somehow missed on the way in. As I surveyed the restaraunt, I saw many new young beautiful men, hard at work feeding the frenzied brunch crowd. Oh my, this looks like a fun place to work, I thought to myself. The Guy Who Likes Me returned with my order, his gaze rarely leaving the blonde. Walking out the door, I thought The Guy Who Likes Me seems to have found greener pastures...

Monday, August 30, 2010

August 30, 2010

Leaving the library today, I passed a young mom, wrangling four kids and a stroller down Lincoln Avenue. Two little boys, aged around six and four, ran up to the deep, gated, stone clad window well, and shouted echo! echo! echo! The younger of the two parroting what the older one did and said. Aw, do kids still do stuff like that? I thought to myself. Walking on, I hear the six year old keep his echo going with a slightly sloppy version of the chorus from Bad Romance, nailing Lady Gaga's monotone Tibetan-like chant: rama ga-ga! rama, ram-a-la! ga-ga, ooo la la! as the younger one tried to keep up. That sounds familiar, I thought to myself not recognizing the song right away, and taking a closer look at the mom when I did. ...caught up in a bad roe.....! That's enough, the mother interrupted, let's keep moving...

August 29th, 2010


Today at the thrift store, a place where twentysomethings like to gather, the teenage clerk excitedly asked me what I was reading, as I placed my book and on the counter, to pull out some cash to pay for the t-shirt I found. Wow, he really wants to know! I thought to myself. e.e. cummings, I said, poems. Oh, he said, a little bit of his enthusiasm waning, I don't like it when I have to read poetry, he said, as he scanned the tag of my three dollar t-shirt. I have to read them over and over, at least five times, and then I barely understand them!, I said, a little too quickly, perhaps. All desire on his part to talk about e.e. cummings had evaporated, but I felt I needed to keep this conversation going. Despite my efforts, our conversation stalled anyway, and I quickly tried to think of something to say. He kept it a float with: Yeah, but it's worth it, to keep at it, even though you don't understand them, he said to me as he give me my change, as if he were a professor of literature, and he shared that bit of advice to a life time of students. Sage words from a teenager, I thought to myself as I collected my things, and said goodbye.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Was Passed Upon The Stairs


I find myself again at a point in my story noticing tales untold, tugging like hungry, forgotten children at my threadbare house dress, as I try to scrape together some slop for dinner. No, that's not true; I eat healthy now...
I guess most of us define our lives around moments that are profound to us, be they dramatic or quiet, and my spiritual awakening at the end of 1992 was a turning point in my life, and I rushed to tell you about it, glossing over a lot of the misery, loneliness, and sticky situations. I'm only human! I definitely define my life differently after that moment. Here are some events and moments, large and small, that occurred (mostly) before the end of '92...

I became infatuated with the newly opened library on State Street, named The Harold Washington. In the 80's, when I first moved to Chicago, I spent a lot of time at the old library on Fullerton, when it was next to the El stop. I seem to seek refuge in libraries in times of trouble, and I spent a lot of time there thinking about leaving Chicago in those early days, for lack of funds, among other things. In the early 90's, during those dark days, I went every Monday, my day off, to The Harold Washington, and enjoyed the art installations, beautiful marble parquetry floors, and watching the students wander it's vast rooms, wrapped up in their scholarly errands, while I searched the shiny new book shelves for answers for my messed up life.
I paced up and down the rows of shelves, feeling safe and hidden in the cocoon of books, picking up any and all weird or odd books, and spending the most time with the over sized art books, hoping my subconscious was was receiving whatever message it needed to get me through another week.
Around this time, the radio station XRT was planning a listening party, as they called it, for Morrissey's new CD, Your Arsenal. All you need to do, they said, was to mail in a postcard with your phone number, and if they drew your card, you could go. I debated doing this and decided against it, and a few weeks later I met a De Paul student who went:
"I sent in two postcards, and they called me twice! No one entered this contest! The listening party was actually a meet and greet at the new downtown library. I think there were like less than ten of us there! Morrissey was super nice..."
Of course, it was on a Monday.
I still have love affairs with libraries, and spend time in them in almost every city I visit.


I took this snap in the art deco masterpiece that is the library in downtown LA. Yes, those are plays. I'd spend a lot of time there if I lived there, if I could ever find a quiet corner.

I must have played that new Morrissey CD ten times a day, every day for a solid year. I hear any song from Your Arsenal, and I'm automatically transported to my dusty, tobacco stained apartment on Wrightwood and Pinegrove, floating in a sea of ennui for a bit, til I remember I now live the life I want to live.
I saw his tour of that album that year, with Rene and Tony, and I loved how sexual his performance was that night, (this was during his writhing around on the stage phase of his career) and coveted that gold lamé top. I think I made a copy of that, cutting up a vintage dress of a similar material, which didn't last very long. I think I gave it away to a trick...
The song that spoke to me most has to be Tomorrow. Tomorrow, it's surely nearer now! Naked, begging, wracked with the pain of wanting someone who doesn't want him. Yeah, sounds familiar. I had the giant poster of Tomorrow hung in my entryway, and it was the first thing I saw in the morning, and the last thing when I went to bed. I carried it home for Tony, after the concert, and he let me borrow it for a year. Every now and then I'd remind him he was "bonkers for Will and Yonkers..."


I didn't know it at the time, but Morrissey sang a song by a band that night I was months away from discovering and diving into for a couple years: Suede's My Insatiable One. Too bad more didn't come of their mutual love of each other.
I was also musically obsessed with The Black Crow's Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, Marc Almond's Jacques, Madonna's Erotica, Steely Dan's Aja, k.d. lang's Ingénue, and Bowie's Tonight and Never Let Me Down. Book wise, I was in my Tom Robbins-Is-God phase, and pretty much read only his books the entire year.

The Crying Game came out that year, and Rene and I of course saw it, enamoured with the gorgeous Jaye Davidson. We knew Boy George was doing a song for this movie- he hadn't released anything in a while- but the moment we sat down to watch this movie, we had forgotten it. We both liked the song at the end, and thought Boy could do it justice, somehow not recognizing his voice. We both realized it the moment we got home, and called each other laughing.
In '92 Rene and I ushered for the Miss Continental contest to see the show for free, held at Park West, and knowing BobMackie was going to be a judge caused me hours of anguish in coming up with an outfit. Even though Scot told me he saw "Bob Mackie must die!!" scrawled on a chalkboard in an Art Institute classroom in 1985, I still wanted to impress him. Nothing sparkly a la Cher, or campy a la Carol Burnet, but somehow super cool. In the 90's the 70's were hip again, so I did an updated version of that. I told Rene to wear her Gaultier, here we are, in my kitchen.
Done up in blueprint sure looks good on you!
Close up, and a full shot of me. I got to meet Bob and had him autograph a napkin which I still have somewhere, and he was a super sweetheart, but the stars of the show that night were Mimi Marks and the gowns floating around on stage, on loan from Mr. Mackie himself. No one can do drag queen like him.

My dad came for his second visit in 1992, staying with me in my fourth floor studio apartment in Lincoln Park. I did my best to pretend I was normal, and that everything was fine, but I was a little ashamed at my sparse quarters, and went out and bought a half a dining table and two chairs from the Ace down the street at Diversey and Clark. My boss gave me some of her old furniture, and my dad drove across town to her place to pick up a lamp and a chair. It was a start, anyway.
I told him to bring his sleeping bag, for that's what I was sleeping on, and we slept on the floor. He spent most the night awake though, and reading the used books we found at the local book stores, because I didn't have a t.v. I told him he could bring one of those, too, but he said it was OK, when he first bought his house he made a year long attempt without one, and it didn't kill him. We smoked a lot of cigarettes and sipped some scotch, and had a good time. We took the 151 bus down to Water Tower to see a few movies, back when they still had a theater, and we went to the Fine Arts Movie theater to see one of the many re releases of Blade Runner. I was excited to show him an old Chicago movie house, and to finally see that movie on the big screen.
We ate at Marshall Field's lunch deli a lot, a deli that kept me alive because I drank the lion's share of my paychecks, and Field's was the only credit card I had, back in the days when you only needed a checking account to get credit. I sometimes had to walk the four miles to Water Tower to eat, but I did it gladly.
We took the Untouchable Tour, the tour of Chicago's gangster past, which ended at the Biograph on Lincoln Avenue, and touched the exact spot where Dillinger left the planet. I got the impression my father didn't feel he was the type of person who could ever live in a city as big as Chicago, but I feel he knew after visiting me, I couldn't live any where else. I still to this day feel guilty about not letting him stay a day longer than he was planning, because he was enjoying our time together, but I made plans to go out that night with friends, and I didn't want him to see me when I 'really' drank. He ran out the door, obviously hurt, but the booze came first. The moment he left I threw my preppy costume in the closet, and went forth as Jane Forth again, into the Land of Booze. (sadly, not to Max's Kansas City, but The Closet. Paté always seemed to know when to shoot first, and ask questions later...)


Scot made his first of many summer visits back to Chicago after he moved away to Pennsylvania. I begrudgingly said he could stay with me that first summer, even though Danny had been filling my head for weeks about the awful visit he had with Scot in New York, and how Scot and a trick trashed his apartment. I was cold and stand-offish toward him, til his side of the story started to sink in, and I believed his version of the events over Danny's. I knew Danny well enough to know when he was over you, he was really over you, and he wanted everyone else to be over you too. By the time Scot had left, I was glad he came to stay with me, and that we were still friends. (I think the friends you've snuck into bars with, before you've come of age, are your true friends!) He's spent some time with me every summer since; summer wouldn't be the same without him.

This summer, Scot was here of course, and I also went to New York, and ran into and talked with Joey Arias at Indochine. He was surprised that I wanted his autograph, and even more surprised when I told him I'd been a fan of his since 1979, and SNL.
"Really!? After all these years?" he exclaimed.
I'll remember the night I first saw him perform til the day I die...


The Man Who Sold The World, David Bowie on SNL featuring Nomi and Arias
Steely Dan Peg
Hot Chip No Fit State

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Body Shop


This post is for anyone who Googles "Body Shop, 1982 1983". This song's for you, too. We sure had a lot of fun, didn't we? Though, in the immortal words of Fiona Apple, it isn't the red we painted it, it's just rust...

Fast Radio, Under My Thumb

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I'm In Love With A German Film Star

for Michael VD

So I was in the video store the other day for ten minutes before I realised they had actual videos for rent. They also have DVDs, but there were hundreds of videos on the shelves, gathering dust or not, I'm not sure, I didn't get too close. I usually run in and out of my neighborhood video store, Nightstar, because it is the kind of place where lingering, and perusing, are frowned upon, which I think is odd nowadays because most people in search of a movie get it free off the web somewhere. If the store is even open. They have the worst hours. In that store, it's still 1984, and in their little neck of the woods, they've got the movie rental market cornered. Of course, I am obsessed with this place. I even bought their t-shirt.
I've gotten into long conversations with friends who also go there, which usually start with the phrase: Guess what happened to me in Nightstar the other day! We share rumors and create theories as to why they are the way they are: curt, surly, and impatient, but we all keep going back to rent their movies.
For the past four years, I've only ever had fleeting glimpses of those distinct video box shapes, which I push out of my mind, as I run to the front where the newly released DVDs are, while thinking "That can't be what it looks like, can it? I won't stop to look! Just get in and get out with Coco Before Chanel" It's the kind of place, too, where I feel judged by what I rent. I have to get a 'cool' movie when I go, or be viewed a tool. "You'll watch any shit!" I imagine them thinking, when I place Couples Retreat on the counter. I'm sure they aren't really thinking that...

Does Nightstar Video still carry videos because the word 'video' is in it's name, perhaps? I don't know if they have new videos, or if new videos are even still made; I haven't investigated that far yet. I've only recently felt comfortable enough there to linger a few minutes past the new release area. Well, I should say ready. I'm only just ready to accept the fact they have videos for rent. That store is like a time machine. I don't know why I'm so uncomfortable around all those VHS boxes, because I still have and use my VCR, and I regularly buy videos. Some old favorites of mine, like Times Square and Breaking Glass haven't been released on DVD, and some movies were issued on DVD only once, making them hard to find and expensive. Maximilam Shell's Marlene is $150 used on DVD, while you can get a VHS version for around seven bucks. My copy from ebay came in it's old clam shell case from an Upper West Side video store converting over to DVDs. You know I love that!

As you may have guessed by reading my blog, I'm a little obsessed with Hollywood. Especially old Hollywood. When I was a kid, around ten or eleven, whenever I saw Marilyn Monroe on TV, I would say aloud: "I'm going to meet her someday!" My parents never contradicted me. I was crushed that day in the library when I was thirteen, when I finally drummed up enough courage to look up her bio, and learned she died before I was born. Sigh...alas.
My love for movies started one summer in the early seventies when I was a kid, where you could find me every morning in my basement in the dark, watching the old movies they showed on TV before noon: westerns, gangster flicks, all the Beatles and Busby Berkeley movies, and all the Bette Davis, Jean Harlow, Jerry Lewis, Abbot and Costello, Charlie Chan, Hope and Crosby, and Dean Martin movies. During the morning movies, they had teaser commercials for the monster movies they showed on weekends. They were the best commercials, because they cut together a bunch of clips of monsters slowly creeping up on unsuspecting damsels, or monsters slowly opening their eyes and coming to life, all to the tune of Joe Cocker's You Are So Beautiful, with an announcement at the end: "This weekend's Monster Theater movie is I Was A Teenage Werewolf! Starring Michael Landon!" Oh, I just loved the irony. These memories came flooding back to me recently, for I found a picture of me and my family in that basement.
My neighbors back then were teenage boys in high school, and they were also fans of monster movies, and had books in their living room about them, which I looked at as often as I could. One book particularly interested me, mainly because the movies in it were too scary for regular TV, and I wasn't supposed to look at it, it was too graphic. I'd sneak peeks in it when I could, repulsed and intrigued at the same time, til I was caught, which was every time. Every now and then I make a web search for that extra scary monster book, for old time's sake, but I can't seem to find it.

Video stores were a dream come true for me, when I was younger, because here was a place I could go and get two or three old movies at a time and catch up on everything I missed. I spent hours at a time in them, alone and with friends, deciding what to get, because videos and VCRs were expensive back then, so I didn't rent many movies. (I didn't have my own VCR until 1993.) Because of that, I was very careful in my video selections, getting as many of my top ten choices as I could.
In the early eighties, I even dated a guy I wasn't attracted to, just because he worked in a video store, and I could watch all the movies I wanted. I spent all my Sundays with him at work for a while. "We could have our wedding here!" I would tease. I distinctly remember watching Christine, The Dead Zone and Stallone's rereleased bad 70s porno, Party At Kitty And Stud's over and over. He ended it with me one night when I let slip my true intentions: "I don't want to sleep with you, just show me more movies..."

I don't know what I'm feeling, exactly, when I'm in Nightstar, but it triggers something. Am I sad about video stores nearing extinction, or missing all the friends I spent hours with haunting them? Or is it because movies don't feel as special to me as they once did? I thought it might have been because I've 'seen them all', but I know that's not true; I rented some great old movies there recently. I guess progress sometimes makes me sad.

This year, I got to be a little part of movies, by attending the red carpet arrivials for the Academy Awards. I was hoping to see in person some old movie stars, like Elizabeth Taylor or Lauren Bacall, but I had to settle for Mickey Rooney and Christopher Plummer. But I must say, seeing Meryl Streep live and in person was something special- she lit up the place. I was lucky enough to sit in the front row, by the TV Guide cameras, and make little movies of my own, with some of the stars who showed up that day. That's me, in the glasses and short sleeve shirt, sitting next to the red stairs, gazing lovingly upon Keanu. I didn't know this was going to happen that day, for if I had, I would have passed out scripts, and made a better movie for you! I made 'little movies', as I like to call them, with Hellen Mirren, Gabourey, George Clooney, et al, if you care to view them.

I've been making some progress in Nightstar lately, and having actual conversations with the guys behind the counter, and asking for movie advice, and getting compliments on my choices. Believe it or not, I think the real reason I feel weird looking at the shelves of old video boxes when I'm there is the thought of getting caught red handed, living in the past....

The Passions

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Room Is Quiet


I hated him seeing me drunk. I don't know why, I mean I didn't know him, and I had just spent all that time and energy getting drunk, so why didn't I want him to see me drunk?

He was Max, the door man of my new apartment building. Well, door man of a sorts: he sat at a folding table in my lobby, a bible propped open next to a thermos, and a baseball bat leaning against his chair.
The lobby was treated much the same way most vintage buildings in Chicago are: coated in dozens of layers of paint. It had little hints here and there of it's modest former glory
of the 1920's when it opened as a hotel, but it was never what you would call grand.
A few weeks after I had moved in, there were a rash of muggings in and around my building, and Max was hired to sit guard in our lobby from midnight til sun up. He was a nice guy, but we never said more than hello and goodnight to each other the year or so he worked there, but I can't deny I was kind of waiting for him to talk to me about Jesus, because I never saw him without that bible, but he never did.

I guess I hated Max seeing me drunk because of the looks he started giving me when I would stagger in the front door at four in the morning. They were looks of pity and disdain, with a dash of contempt thrown in. Could it be he was only returning the look I had given him and his malformed arm, with a dash of doubt of his protect abilities thrown in? I hadn't consciously looked at him that way that I knew of, but I was usually pretty blasted. I had no doubt he could stop anyone he wanted to with that bat. He was also over weight, and in his eyes I saw he had taken a lot of shit in his life for his deformity, and that can grow an anger in someone that could stop a freight train, if you weren't careful.
I wonder, did his contempt grow as time went on, as he saw drunk after drunk stagger home? I'm sure I wasn't the only one; I lived in a big building at the time.
"They pay me to look out for these losers night after night? This is what my life has become?" I imagined him thinking to himself.
As I left my building night after night to go to the bars, I prayed as I walked past Max at his table I would come home to him asleep in his bible. If he was asleep, I could usually sneak in without waking him. The odds on that were 50-50.
"Oh thank God he didn't see me wasted again!" I thought to myself as I slid into the elevator unnoticed.
Though sometimes he fell asleep face up, snoring away at the ceiling, bat in hand, and snapping to attention and ready to pounce, when my key hit the lock.
As time went on, the expressions on his face went from 'here comes drunky again!' to that of pure pity, especially on the nights I couldn't open the door by myself, to that of pure contempt when I brought strange, equally drunk men into my place
But why oh why did I care if he saw me drunk or what he thought of me?
Well, maybe, because in a bar, I blended in with my surroundings. Most people, if they were out at three in the morning in a bar were probably drunk, but in my lobby, I was the only one. And it was night after night. If it were once or twice a month, I'm sure he wouldn't think anything of it. But it was night after night, me wasted in my lobby, and I knew he was quickly going to see me as a drunk. And if he saw me as one, the day was probably coming when I would have to see myself as one...

I didn't have much in my new studio apartment, and that made the long, lonely nights of Aja, cigarettes, and scotch seem to last for an eternity. I got rid of my futon because I moved into the hotel, along with any other furniture I had. I slept on the floor with some blankets and pillows next to my loud loud alarm clock. I sent a lot of my things to my dad to store for me, for I hadn't felt it necessary to have things, even though my only two regular visitors, Renee and Mark, begged me each time they come over to please take their spare pieces of furniture, if only as a loan. But I said no. No to T.V., no to chairs, I just had my boombox, frog collection and my black, 1970's polyester suit. I was obsessed with that thing! I only ever wore that when I went out to the bars. I lucked upon it one day in Value Village; it was my holy grail of vintage fashion finds. It was that perfect combination of hideousness and coolness: no one but Versace models were wearing bell bottomed suits at the time; I couldn't have felt more blessed. I can't find a picture yet of me in that suit presently, I'm sure there's one around somewhere. I wore it regularly til about '95, when someone burned a hole in the jacket with a cigarette in a night club in New York. Oh well, all good things must come to an end, I suppose.
The scent No. 19 instantly brings me back to that threadbare empty room; I wore that most of the 90's, as does Arden's Sunflowers. (OK, I admit it, I wanted to be Jane Forth. Here's me, 1992.)
I don't really know where my frog obsession came from: my ancient Bavarian ancestors, maybe, or the ghosts of lake Butte Des Morts? I had to have them around me, and whenever I saw one I bought it, be it on a hat or t-shirt or pin, and I carried one with me at all times, one for work and one for going out. I found out later through my friend Phillip that in the Native American culture, frogs represented a change of life, or dual life: they start life under water as tadpoles, eventually growing legs and walking on land. Something I was about to do myself...

I saw Lush at Metro with Renee twice that year, loving both shows, transfixed by their fuzzy, lyrical chords and the pretty pathos blasting out the speakers.
Sweetness and Light

I was digging around my record collection the other day, and thought you might like this:

Oblivious 12" Mix

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Shadow of Your Call


Lots of songs in this post you need to listen to!

Today, something happened to me that also happened in my 8th grade art class. Yes I can, for whatever reason, remember every gory detail of my 8th grade experience. And if your 8th grade days were anything like mine, come, come and join me on the pity pot. There's plenty of room...
I took that class with one of my best friends, Cathy Smith, and we constantly got in trouble. My art teacher, rather than supporting my creative and effete ways, like I had hoped she would, chose to hate my guts, and punished and humiliated Cathy and me unmercifully. I refused to ever step foot in another art class until my senior year, and that was only because I had moved to another state. I was glad I did because that art teacher went above and beyond her duties to help nurture my gifts, such as they were.
Her art class was so amazing and wonderful that I was sad when I thought of all the great classes I could have taken over the years, and vowed, when I was seventeen, to always go back and try again, no matter where, no matter what.
Anyway, back in 1979 in my art class, Cathy wore an actual YMCA t-shirt over her Village People t-shirt, and I of course noticed it, because her shirt was slightly transparent and I could see the fun-house effect her boobs gave the iron-on transfer of the guys in the band, and we of course found it hilarious and wouldn't shut up about it until we (of course) got yelled at.
So, as an homage to Cathy, and cunty art teachers everywhere, I wore my Yo Japan t-shirt over my Harajuku Lovers one today. I just thought you should know that....

Hmm, how do I ask you have a certain place in the world where things happen to you? Meaning whenever you set foot in some particular spot, your life changes? I have a few. Whenever I go to Milwaukee, something shitty happens. Well, I should clarify that statement and say whenever I go to Milwaukee to have fun, something shitty happens. These days, whenever I have to be there, I try to fend off any bad juju by I reminding myself in the form of a mantra exactly what I am doing there: Catching a train. Taking a flight. Just passing through! Please no one throw a turd out the window at me!
I guess I can't say every time, because nothing much happened when I saw Coldplay there a few years ago, although I'm sure some would argue Coldplay is it's own punishment. My other areas are St. Mark's Place and Battery Park in New York. The St. Mark stories I'll save for another day, but suffice it to say instant karma exists on that street for me, rarin' to go, brass knuckles hidden in her fists.
The first place I ever sent foot in New York was in Battery Park. It was a lovely spring day in 1980, I was with my family, and we drove down from Connecticut after much begging on my part. Being a fan of the late seventies music scene, especially Blondie, and loving the very unromantic picture they painted of New York urban life, well, I just couldn't wait to see it for myself!
Also, back then I saw New York as a place that fostered and encouraged people to be themselves, or whatever they wanted, and I longed to be there, because I wasn't safe being who I was in my stifling little town. Thank God SNL beamed all those weirdo bands into my life in the late seventies, and Night Flight exposed to me more of New York's liberated underbelly, and LA's as well. La cage aux folles, as they say.
So who is the first person I see, sitting alone on one of Battery Park's winding benches, wearing red glittering jelly shoes, tight blue jeans, and a shirt that was more blouse that shirt, but Jobriath. (Clear plastic shoes and clothing, sprinkled with a touch of glitter was a short-lived trend for the mega-cool in 1980, but I still feel the need to reach for things like this.)
That is exactly what I want to be! My brain screamed in my head, as I craned for a better look, a longer look, without my family noticing. He sat casually reading a book with body language that said: Yes, I'm wearing a silly outfit in the park, and I'll be wearing something silly tomorrow, and that's because I live in New York, and I can do what ever I want, without fear of retribution. Ho-hum, licking my finger, turning the page...I wanted to be him because he was comfortable in his own goddamn skin.

I actually didn't know of Jobriath until Morrissey started talking about him a few years ago, and when I saw that little clip of him as 'Cole Berlin', it became Jobriath in my mind who was sitting on that bench way back when, because for years I wondered about 'that guy in Battery' so to put and end to the question, I decided the answer was Jobriath. Ask, and ye shall receive...

So to tie these stories into my continuing saga, of which I have been neglecting of late and promise to be better, by picking back up in the spring of 1992, when I moved out of the transient hotel and into 420 Wrightwood. That is the place where my life started to change, and I of course, remember every gory detail of that, too. One day in mid April I just could not take where I was living any more, because I finally saw I wasn't like most of the people there, who were either running out the clock, or victim to their addictions. I had spent so much goddamn time imaging the world without me in it, it was time to imagine something else.

So I walked over to 420 because I remembered my old friend Candace used to live there, where upon I met Lois, the building's manager, who with a burning cigarette perched elegantly in her inelegant hand, showed me their only available studio. The apartment building had been built as a hotel in the twenties (you know how I love that) and converted into apartments in the 40's, for returning GI's, I would guess, and very little else, as is typical in my Chicago apartments, was different. Though instead of putting in new kitchen sinks, they found a stock pile of sinks from 1905, and the fridge was fresh off the assembly line in 1966, but the original 1940s linoleum was in good shape. After I moved in my two bags, it took me all day to clean under the Buick-like stove because it seemed I was the first to do so since nineteen fucking seventy. When I was finished, I sat on the carpet in front of my sliding french doors, and watched the rain fall on my little balcony, smoking menthols and drinking tea, happy with my new life. My fourth floor view looked to me what I imagined Florence would look like, what with all the church domes in my view. But what my eye kept coming back to, over and over, was the rather large inscription etched in stone on the side of the building out side my window: Ye Shall Know The Truth, And The Truth Will Make You Free...


do or die
world without end
art teacher (for ms. t)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Move A Hand In Front Of My Eyes


I used to ask myself, back in Nineteen Ninety-oneville, why I was the way I was, and how could that be changed? I used to wonder why I was living this life, and not one I wanted to be living. I think that is what being young is all about. The whys. Why why why. Why am I miserable? Why don't I have a boyfriend? Why did it feel like I was sliding off a cliff, about to be dashed on the rocks in a raging sea, grasping for anything to hold onto, while no one seemed to notice?
Why can't I be living in a charming little garden condo, with some golden brown curls bouncing playfully as I greeted guests at my front door, flinging it open with a big smile and welcoming laugh, while my boyfriend shakes his head and smirks at my exuberant ways, as he walks up behind me and puts his arm around my waist? Why can't I have that?
No, it seemed I'd rather steam up the car windows of random strangers, dragging myself home in the predawn light, only to crawl out of bed, head pounding, in the late afternoon to fling money at the Canton Express delivery guy. It seems I'd rather do that.
If I knew the whys, then it ought to reason I would be able to get what I wanted, or, if I knew why I didn't have what I wanted, maybe I could figure a way to get it.

The new season of Lost is reminding me I used to, in my mind, like the Wicked Witch of the West, peer into my crystal ball and observe my life if all the past injustices, imagined or real, had not been thrown at me. As if 'the plane had never crashed' as it were. I liked what I saw. I spent a lot of time looking at it. The little paragraph above is just a small sampling of the life I felt I should have, but didn't, 'because of other people'. Not very original, I know.
I also wondered why the things I used to do for fun felt like a chore and made me miserable. Mainly drinking and going out. I don't know how to have fun any more? When did this happen? And why was I surrounded by people who upset me, and who's presence I dreaded? What happened to the friends I loved?
Thank God for Rene. She was the one constant in my life at this time who kept me afloat. Although, according to some of the Berlin gang, I should have moved our relationship to the next level. Whenever someone brought it up, my first thought was "but I'm nuts! I can just barely make it to work these days, and I find joy in nothing, existence is horrid." I would shrug my shoulders and say 'hmm'. I must also say thank God for Mark, too. He called me everyday, whether I wanted him to or not, even though we had broken up, and were now 'just friends'.
Rene helped me move into a transient hotel on Diversey and Pinegrove that spring of 1991. Cath and Chris and I went our separate ways from our Sheridan Road apartment, and living in a hotel seemed to be the right decision at the time.
When I think of 91, it feels like a bad dream. That year felt like one of those dreams where you can't move your body the way you want to, or with the speed you want, like the forces of gravity had some how tripled. I could see faint shapes and fleeting glimpses of people around me, but as much as I tried to, I couldn't be heard. I felt like I was lost in the woods in the dark, on trapped in an old haunted house. And my new apartment wasn't helping. The walls were paper thin, and most of my neighbors were starving octogenarians, forgotten by their families, or drug addicts, or the borderline destitute. The gloom was sometimes interspersed by the occasional international traveler on a budget, and their high spirits and enthusiasm were a welcome change. I was recently reminded of my hotel days while staying at the Jane in New York last year; seeing the characters floating around that place gave me pause, and a lot to be grateful for.
Rene was less than thrilled moving me there, but I wouldn't listen to reason. I had shipped most of my things back home, and subsisted on very little in way of possessions.
I did all these things, moving where I did, and getting rid of my stuff, because I knew I wouldn't be living much longer. I just knew. I felt it way deep down. Believe it or not, I was still jogging most every night. I was drinking every night, too, and started thinking long and hard about vodka with breakfast.
I went back to check on the Sheridan Road apartment, because I moved out before Cath and Chris, and because Scot reminded me our names were still on the lease, and found Cathy left a lot of her posters on the walls. I gasped in shock when I saw she left Bowie's Glamour to be tossed out and didn't give it to me; I thought she knew how much I coveted it! (It's hanging in my bedroom as we speak.) Seeing the poster and taking it off the wall of the vacated but not empty apartment made me feel a bit like a tomb robber; that's how much I valued it. (To this day, I search in vain for a compilation book of Edward Bell's art work, still not sure if one actually exists.)
I wonder, was that act of taking the art off the wall and bringing it home a test of some sort? A test that I passed? Was that all my soul needed, my subconscious, as way of proof that I could eventually find some sort of happiness in my life, that I wasn't a hopeless case? Sometimes it seems like these small events have huge consequences.
As you may or may not know, I'm obsessed with Bronzino. To the extent I made this a year ago. I almost started to cry when I read that the Met in New York was doing a show of all his known drawings; I never thought I would see that day, his work is so fragile, and I definitely cried when I saw his name emblazoned on the front of the Met, as I walked up the stairs.
At the end of the show, there was an x-ray study of one of his paintings the Met owns, Portrait of a Young Man, giving incite into his creative process. For centuries, no one but Bronzino knew how many times it was rearranged and repainted, or how he created it. The researchers were surprised to discover the number attempts he took with paint, as opposed to preliminary shetch work, and how the light grasp he held in his mind of the image he was creating- he was open to change whenever it needed to happen.

Night after night in that hotel on Diversey, eating cold meals (no kitchen) on the edge of my bed, listening to the meager sounds of the slowly dying (no TV) slipping into my room, wasn't too fun. But what the final straw was, what had made me move out after three months, was the day I witnessed the day I would have died...

The Bronzino show will be at the Met until April.
At the Met, 2008
We Have A Technical
Why I love MJ

Friday, January 15, 2010

Even In The Launderette


I almost forgot to tell you...
You can now buy my first published story! It's in a new gay/lesbian quarterly, named Mary. It's a combination of a few stories culled from these pages and told anew for William Johnson. It's a great collection of some new voices in literature, and a steal at ten dollars! Run, don't walk to your nearest Paypal!
You'll be hearing from me sooner than later...

Friday, January 01, 2010

The Angels And Martyrs


OK, so I know I've already posted this photo, but as I was looking at it tonight, I noticed weird things about it I hadn't before: mainly, I know every person in the photograph. If you look at the faces behind Chris (the one in plaid) they are, in order, Cath, Tyler, and Tracey. Chris and I (the one in all white) are bookended by two guys I dated. Skip, my date that evening, is on the right in all black. (I forget the other guy. Not for bad reasons, I just forget.) I thought it might have been Skip, it was twenty years ago after all, but when I saw this photo from the same night, I was sure. The guy behind Skip was a friend of Scotty's, Randy I think, and we had a hot/cold relationship because we kind of liked each other, but we also fought over Skip. He really annoyed the hell out of me at the Shakespeare's Sister show at Metro, the following year. (Coincidentally, Morrissey was in town the same week.) I distinctly remember thinking, "I would be having a much better time at this concert if So and So would quit that non-stop queeny arm flailing in Siobhan's face. YES! She sees you!" That show, believe it or not, was sparsely attended, and he stood out like a sore thumb. But I guess I really can't fault fanly enthusiasm. I find it amazing though, how Rene, who took this photo, was able to capture, with one little well timed snap of her finger, all of these people in my life in 1991. Lastly, the two angels of the far right, hands earnestly clasped in our direction, praying for us all, I knew best of all...
This post is going to be different, because I got some bad news recently about two guys I have written about here. Bryan, who I wrote about in Whisper Loud And Clear, and Donny who I wrote about in Waiting For The Day have both died. I saw Donny working at a make up counter in New York a few years ago, and pretended I didn't see him. Ugh. So to cheer myself up and celebrate their memory, I feel like I have to add some extra color and some unseen surprises, so I dug through my photo boxes and found some goodies. Check the links out at the bottom.

Chris, above, always thought Boy George sung a little sharp. He was quick to add that that was part of his charm; the imperfect sweet tones of his singing voice. When we all found out he was doing two shows at Bistro Too, a club we got wasted at a million times before, it took us months to figure out what we were going to wear. I vividly remember the cold drizzly day in 1991 I took this off a lamp post on Halsted and Addison.

It took Renee and I many trips to Boytown's alternative clothing mecca, 99th Floor, to debate themes, accessories and price points. We knew we wanted to be noticed and daring, so the minute I found my Tova Borgnine Collection-reject motorcycle cap, and Renee found her black feather bustier, we had our foundations to build upon. They did pose a myriad of questions, though: Did we really want to spend $150 dollars on the perfect shoes? Were we really going to wear those satin tuxedo shorts again? Should we go to Chanel, too? Can I really pull off red plaid leggings? Is buying three necklaces and turning them into one a good idea? The answer to all those questions turned out to be yes. Except the Chanel one. I found what I was looking for in a paralegal lady type catalog for 29.99. I had it sent to the salon, and was so afraid of missing it, I made Renee drive me to work and wait with me in her car for the UPS man, in case he came the day we were normally closed. Yes, I was that desperate to show up in a knock-off Chanel.
Hours later, after dozens of cigarettes and cocktails, the hair was done and the make up applied, we swung by Berlin to show Tasso the outfits we worked so hard on and took some snaps, and sped north to Bistro Too, to breathe the same air of our raisons d'etre. The first time you see a musician you truly love is the best.

The mood at the club was high, we were all excited for the show, and Renee abandoned me for the front row the second George walked on stage, and she took some great shots of him in that gorgeous jacket Leigh Bowery made for him: pic1, pic2, pic3, pic4, pic5. He didn't disappoint, and we found out when we got there the later show was moved to the next night, and we were more than happy to come back for more. I don't know why I just have one photo from the second night, but it's a good one! We took a casual approach to the second night's outfit, because of all the stress we created for ourselves on the first one. That's Cath's bedroom. This was mine . Chris is wearing my shirt. Jesus I was obsessed with Jesus...

I saw Morrissey twice in 91, one of which I wrote about in Found Found Found, and the entire summer night is etched into my memory forever, but I do not remember one second of the other show he did that fall, even though Renee assures me that yes, we did indeed attend (I have the stub)and even though it was almost the same week as Boy George's shows. I tend to confuse it with his 92 concert at Poplar Creek, which I remember quite well. Oh well, I guess I took too many drugs or something.
I also saw 808 State in 91 with Mark, whose tape, United State 90, I played to death and Circe Du Soliel with Renee, when they still did their shows in tents. The other show that really stuck with me was the Degenerate Art Show at the Art Institute. It was labeled 'degenerate' by the Nazi's, who knew full well the power of art and imagery to sell their schemes. The art they chose portrayed an idealised view of life, for I guess they were after and selling a kind of 'perfection'.
The art in the degenerate show elicited an emotional response from the viewer, or it inspired debate, be it by the artist's use of color, subject matter or manner of painting. I found room after room of paintings leaping off the wall like that intoxicating and inspiring. I left the museum that day a changed man, with a clearer sense of who I was as a person and an artist, for of course I'm not a degenerate, I'm provocative! For only the basest of cultures label art like that 'degenerate'.
"What you are seeing here are the crippled products of madness, impertinence, and lack of talent" One official declared. Indeed. No wonder it's still one of the most attended art shows in history...


1. Keep Me In Mind (Japan) 2. Going Boy for Renee 1992 3. Erin & Carlisa 91 4. 1987 Limelight invite 5. Nene 91 6. NSFW card Wikie used to pass out 7. Not them, but us! 91 8. Ooo, a rare 1984 pic of me with some one obviously obsessed with me 9. Why I use pics of movie stars...Renee 10. Why movie stars...Tone & Cath 11. Why movie stars... Erin 12. Tickets 13. Pictures of people who love you and kick things (w/Renee, w/the late Donny w/Renee w/Mark, early 90s) 14. The late, great, loved, Bryan, 1985

I almost forgot: a mixtape, circa 1994 about Brad, 'pity, pity', and a pic of me writing this post...