Thursday, March 27, 2014


it isn't that you forget what to say so much as that you forget how you used to know how to say it. the activist lawyer lives with a roommate in an apartment off of utica, but he has a fine, fine collection of shoes. he fucks without condoms. you take exception to most of what you see, but there's always an exception. the chinatown bus still drops off and picks up at the same storefront on canal street, but you can't say what excited or incensed you about the last time it dropped you off or picked you up. the last gay bookstore in manhattan found a way to manage a space on the lower east side, but it's the last gay bookstore in manhattan, and the manager has to apologize for charging sales tax on the sale of a three dollar "homo catz" zine. up allen street at bluestockings it's no future and the end of san francisco, and those, there, feel like the end of new york. but you feel like you forgot how to say so. the brooklyn museum is doing an exhibition on art and civil rights in the sixties, and you almost get there to see it a couple of times. (one of those times, granted, you didn't expect the museum to be closed.) "witness" it's called. but it's easy to be distracted by the lawyer -- and then by that somebody else. there should be much better things to do in the city than brunch, lunch, coffee, happy hour and dinner. you do them, bearing witness to the different state of things now. it's a first world country, they're grown men, and they have fine, fine shoe collections, but it's still sex tourism. and even though you've seen the statue of liberty now (from outside a restaurant in red hook), it all feels so much less free.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


edie windsor decided to hijack the dyke march right ahead of where we joined it. we'd been waiting at the plaza that gives onto a view of the 23rd street corner of the flatiron building for probably two hours when we finally saw the vanguard of the march slowly pushing south down 5th avenue, and when the march had finally pushed close enough for us to get a good look at the banner bearers, edie and her parade crew stepped in front of them with their rainbow flag for a photo op. i had a camera out so i obliged them (and my friends), despite of what i later decided i thought about the image of the wealthy widow surrounded by her media and police detail under a banner that had been stopping traffic without permission down a manhattan thoroughfare inciting onlookers to raise their fists. the front of the march passed us, and i don't know whether or not edie kept marching ahead of it. for my part, i felt much finer at the center of the throng behind a crude cardboard sign that was lamenting the recently invalidated parts of the voting rights act while also reminding the marchers that marriage equality didn't equal queer liberation. a school age girl on the shoulders of a woman marching a few yards ahead of me had a drawing of what looked like it might have been lady gaga as the tooth fairy stuck to her back with blue tape. the girl (at the almost certain behest of the woman carrying her, who was wearing a sign of her own in protest of the traditionalization of her family) had written "democrazy" above the fairy's head, which i noticed for the first time as we were marching past the new school. i could speculate on which of them had the better chances for winning grand champion of the weekend (and among those only edie had made an appearance at the march), but it was humbling and inspiring just to have the overwhelming sense that everyone would be showing their sacred cows. i was humbled, i was inspired, and i was proud. the sheer beauty of the march kept stopping traffic, and we all finally finished the slow putsch to the park. jd samson overheard us making plans to head to the stonewall in from the bench next to ours but decided not to follow us there. we all opted out away from a picture with the fountain in the sunset.

we only had one drink on christopher street, because everywhere was getting crowded and because we'd had quite a bit of protest prosecco. we'd also stopped somewhere on franklin for an afternoon refresher before we'd left brooklyn to meet the march. before that, we'd put ourselves in the mood and in the mindset for debating edie's inclusion among the dykes by sitting down with judy chicago and valerie hegarty at the brooklyn museum. and before that we'd been at brunch, where there might have been more sparkling wine. (it was the weekend, and one of us at least was on vacation.) a little baby queen had been sitting next to us telling his female companion about how a friend of his, at twenty-six, should really be thinking about settling down. he could, feasibly, be marrying a boyfriend soon if he made the effort. and he wouldn't want to be one of those guys in his thirties creeping at the bars. but we had a full schedule, so i didn't want to take the time to tell him that he definitely didn't have anything to worry about from those guys in their thirties. they weren't looking at anyone like him. i did, however, give him my ass as i squeezed out from between our tables. to put him at ease. then we left, in a huff of our own questionable privilege and dubious inclusion, but nonetheless with our fists in the air.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

O ROTTEN GOTHAM, interlude

it happened to me first. "fuck a porch cat." verily. putting that food there is only encouraging the raccoons to do their dance. and up my leg. i wish i'd flagged down that cruiser to have the cops put it down, but then they would have found me drinking in the street.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


the night before the morning on which i didn’t find an airbrushed tee shirt of a crying clown smoking a blunt at coney island, i went to the doctoral student’s place. he was still awake when i had finally made it on foot to bedford and dean from the wythe hotel (where i’d succeeded in making the portland transplant djing the rooftop party uncomfortable by my surprise appearance), and his relationship was still open at just past midnight that night. i don’t remember what he told me about what he’d done for pride weekend, but i do remember him telling me that he wasn’t teaching any classes over the summer. because he was studying for orals. then i remember there was some really great rimming. like i told the man himself after i’d looked over his bookshelves: i don’t know anything about poetry.

a couple of hours later, after i’d made my graceful (and classical japanese-ly poetic) exit, i stopped to ask a couple of girls on the street how many streets i had to go until i got to halsey, but they didn’t know. (they were out of towners too.) and the man on the bicycle riding slowly next to them trying to start up a conversation must not have known much of anything, because he obviously couldn’t read that one of the girl’s shirts was telling those of us back on bedford at two-thirty in the morning that she liked vagina. the other girl should have probably been given away by all of her rainbow swag.

the four of us must have seemed a funny little parade of our own to the no one paying attention until i spotted a couple of cops and walked ahead to have them tell me that i was already several blocks past my turn.

i hadn’t gone to the official parade earlier in the day because it had been time for everyone to finally make it to the beach. the last time i’d visited we’d all been too lazy, i think. so instead i’d just cut my lip on an oyster shell and let it bleed over two bottles of wine and a heaping sunday special plate of commiseration. this time, however, i was full committed, because i’d already trekked all over midtown to find myself a bathing suit that would be worthy of a hard femme towel fort. so we got on the train, got off the train, got some provisions and a terrible chocolate muffin, got back on the train, got off it, asked directions to the bus that was going to the gay beach, got directions, got on the bus, and got off the bus to see that you couldn’t even see the ocean from where the bus stopped at the beach because the weather was so bad. but when we were settled at the encampment we took of our clothes anyway. because we were at the gay pride beach party and we were going to have fun. the fuzzy tall guy who had given us directions to the bus stripped down too, but he and his friend were sitting too far away from the fort for me to fully appreciate him. i swam, and the ocean was rough but surprisingly uncold. i stumbled back up the beach, and the sparkling water back at the fort was perfect.

then i saw someone. i hadn’t tried to get in touch, even though i knew she was living in brooklyn, and it was probably unlikely that we’d just run into each other on the cloudy beach that day, but i wasn’t surprised that we did because we’d always just run into each other wherever we were whenever we happened to be in the same place, the last time at a bookstore on the other coast (maybe). before and after she’d gotten her graduate degree in poetry in missoula. (we’d never run into each other there because i’d never been to montana.)

she was one of the few topless queers at the party without a surgical scar. i told her that i was finally doing something about those old conversations, and she told me that she’d finally found someone to let her live in that empty place in the hasidic part of williamsburg that she’d been after. i should have gotten the address so that i could have gone to see her there before i had to leave on the chinatown bus, but i told myself that i didn’t need to just then because i’d probably talk to her again before we left the beach. but that wasn’t how it happened. and i don’t think that i’ll ever get her a copy of that spivak chapter on translation, probably so that we’d always have reason to keep running into each other. a buildup to dirty looks. for the moment, just eye rolling. the parade-goers could have their palatably planned families, and we, we would occupy this swathe of unwanted cloudy beach in our tiny swimsuits.

until the rain started. then we went back for the bus. and then we caught a second one instead of retracing our earlier steps via the train. but we should have dealt with the rain and waited for the express. the local was something else, and there was an announcement about the streets that had been closed in manhattan because of the parade. i didn’t want to hear about it, and i wanted the bus to go faster: not so much away from that beach, but definitely toward the promise of the evening, which wasn’t even anything very provocative. people like poetry, but this slut just wanted to get laid.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


that monday morning i took the train to coney island. it wasn't a day for the beach, but i needed to go to get a tee shirt. the airbrushed one of a sad clown smoking a blunt that i'd seen on the venice boardwalk. the clown looked like jim morrison, and i'd get text written below his crying face that read "mcdonald rules." it would make the perfect gift -- even if she was expecting it. unexpectedly, however, i didn't find a single airbrush tee shirt stall. it wasn't a day for the beach, and touts at the carnival games on the ground between the cyclone and the wonder wheel were just starting to shout out across their empty alleys as i was heading back to the train station at two in the afternoon. ("try your luck!" and "bump your ass off!") i saw the sign counting down the seconds until the next fourth of july hot dog eating contest, and i ate a chili cheese dog at an affiliated counter that faced the beach. it had been raining intermittently since the morning, but the worst of it all was still the humidity. the local trains platform of the nostrand avenue station served by the a and the c hadn't smelled nearly as bad as it had over the weekend, but it still sweltered. on the q to coney island i shared a smile with a woman across the aisle who was also fanning herself in her seat. commiserations and desperations. at least we were getting out! too bad though that i couldn't get that shirt. there were places selling commemorative tees, but if they didn't have to do with hot dogs, then they were just more of the depreciated cultural capital of the borough, designed and pitched to the middlingest of the middlebrow (come for a hot dog but leaving now with a portable banner of breukelen kewl). i left with a coffee and a bag of dunkin' donuts.

i'd talk about killing time at the discount carts outside of the strand on broadway, or about buying lottery tickets at the newsstand where the man behind the counter sold me the magazine from the previous day's newspaper for just a dollar, or about how we won a little bit of money playing bingo scratch offs at the izakaya on st. mark's place after the coffee place we'd designated as our meeting spot was closed, but i've gotten distracted by these drag makeup tutorials on youtube. the show at fuel last night got me thinking. what better way to mark the prodigal summer of an f-list celebrity hobo? full circle to an airbrushed tee shirt of a crying jim morrison clown smoking a blunt. and we've already got a concept for our gowns -- as well as a business plan for selling vintage tee shirts at midwest street fairs. the vintage arcade (+ bar) wasn't open (and was far from being open) after we'd checked out the competition, so when we'd finished loitering in a nearby parking lot and the police copter started poking around, we did our best to get involved in a manhunt. then later we accessorized prostitution. and a stoned jim morrison clown wept. mcdonald rules.

Friday, July 12, 2013


none of the boys of the smartphone chat boroughs came through on their offers to take me for a run in prospect park, so i went for one on my own. i wasn't not going to make it before i had to leave on the chinatown bus the next day, and that next day in the morning i needed to do laundry.

on my way to eastern parkway i saw a nice pair of black dress shoes in a free box, but i didn't come back across them on my way back toward bed-stuy. i did, however, easily reencounter the library, and i decided that i'd go back there with my coffee to catch up on my correspondence if the cute guy with the missing mandibular incisor wasn't working at lincoln station. (then, i was almost back to the intersection of dean and bedford before i decided that this other one was a stalk that i shouldn't pursue. ...for dealing with the poetry post grad, a veil of night seemed more poetic.)

after i'd showered and made it back through crown heights, the boy was not, in fact, there where i'd left him -- smiling -- behind the coffee counter, so to the library i did indeed go.

that evening i met my friend in midtown as she was finishing work so that we could go together to the high line. we walked up and down the northern half of the park from nineteenth before going down for the end of happy hour. "broken bridge ii" by el anatsui had still been hanging on one of the walls between twenty-first and twenty-second. i'd been introduced to the artist's work at the brooklyn museum when we'd visited there after getting coffee from the boy with the missing mandibular incisor a few days before, but because we hadn't gone any further than the entrance to the botanical gardens we hadn't gotten far enough down eastern parkway for me to find the library (although i knew, theoretically, about the entrance to the park).

over manhattans (because you can be sure they'll be boozy) i told her about the public library experience in brooklyn. sitting next to henry miller, i'd caught up on some correspondence, but then i'd run out of cards.

other things to do at the brooklyn public library: pace, laugh loudly at music videos, have a twelve count variety pack of chobani yogurt while arguing with someone at an information desk about internet access. and not have the book i might have been looking for if i'd had more time to stay at the library and read it,

(we got back up to do most of the rest of the high line before it really started to rain, and one of her bodyguards stepped in at the last moment to take the glob of spit that i spat at cher.)

"walls reveal more things than they hide." -- el anatsu

Monday, July 8, 2013


the intercity chinatown bus is full as a tick with humanity. (and the new yorker would have us believe that more likely than not it has late stage lyme disease.) i don't think it matters whether it's coming or going, or where it's coming from or going to. it has its characteristic stink (which is peculiar to each of its different collections of passengers), but as compared to other means of transportation on and off of manhattan island it could definitely smell worse. of more immediate concern for me, however, in the late evening of that third of july, was that the chinatown bus to columbus would probably be free of the rain and the rats that had made it too difficult to enjoy the very end of the end of my sojourn to the city in nearby seward park. there'd been a rainbow over la esquina in soho after i'd gotten through the end of the end of my goodbyes and then had waited out the ensuing downpours in a convenience store around one corner and then under some scaffolding around another; but by the time that i'd made the not-so-long walk to where the bus would be stopping on canal street i was soaked well enough with sweat and the magic was fading. it had been too hot -- and i'd been too tired -- for manhattan before happy hour. instead: a brooklyn laundromat, some dog walks, and some goat (bone) curry by the pound from a jamaican jerk buffet on fulton. i hadn't had it in me to stomach any more confused, latter day brooklyn exceptionalism at the organic italian steak house (i think he'd called it) down halsey back in bed-stuy, and there on canal i didn't have the wherewithal for another shirt change at another cool kids bar. so i went to the park to wait until i'd be able to board the sky horse. but the rain had started again by that point (and all of the surfaces where i might have rested my bags were already wet anyway), so the park turned out not to be an easy place to be with my luggage either. it was, however, a great place for piling trash, and the rats there liked that. mostly i couldn't see them until they were almost on top of my bags because my glasses were misted over with sweat fog. there's air conditioning on the chinatown bus, but only when the bus is running -- and the bus doesn't run until it's full. it gets hot in there with all of that teeming humanity, but you don't want to have wait for the mythical second bus. i was already sweating through the shirt that i'd changed into under the awning of the bus depot, but i stayed put in the open seat that i'd found next to a briefcase that was eventually going to be ousted from its own. seats aren't assigned until they're oversold, after which point they're designated out from under anyone who isn't on that first bus when the latecomers climb the stairs. that vitiate tick has its best in a designer handbag, and the rest in the plastic garbage bags that clog the overhead storage spaces and the aisle. it had been too hot -- and i'd been too lazy -- for manhattan before happy hour. sit tight! the bus starts, the air comes on, and the worst is over -- if you can fall asleep.

the bus went all the way to cincinnati (via dayton), but i didn't make it there myself until a couple of days later. and there, the day after the party, before heading to the contemporary arts center across the street we ate fancy tacos and drank white wine sangria while calmly discussing the boutique hotel next to the museum that had forced two hundred low income residents to relocate from the affordable apartments that had been allocated to them from the ruins of the rooms of the old metropole (the 1920s glory of which developers were sure they could restore). to keep downtown burning hot! let them eat art! the humanity...munch, sip, munch. o rotten gotham: your ruthless intransigence has had a painfully wide reach. but the pork belly in the tacos is, admittedly, hard to resist when you've had a taste.