Thursday, April 18, 2013

A World Apart

It's hard to feel like you're still in America when in NY. It's a world apart. People just act different. Part of that is that I suppose it's really the only true melting pot in the sense of people from everywhere mixing it up but not joining the bland m.o. of their surroundings that I feel is more the norm -- in California anyway. L.A has some of this melting pot quality but the isolation of the distance which puts people at arm's length and in automobiles costs us SO MUCH there. It's barely an urban environment or urban experience for most people, and I know for me, that's a major frustration about the place. 

I rarely hear English here, which is nice and it encourages me to work on my Spanish, and I've been enjoying the unique opportunity to practice with people from new and different places...Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico mostly. 

The only red state types here are all tourists and they seem like people from some other country. Because they are! New York really is its own country, much in the way that I imagine the city states of Italy and Europe must have been like back in the middle ages. 

 This is it, basically, so people just do what they want, say what they want, act how they want. Maybe that is the mo you adopt in NY :) Or maybe it's just that it's an older city where cultures of origin have beachheads that are distinctive and well-developed over time, thus gaining a sort of confidence to just be themselves? The Italian thing, like Buenos Aires, I's just in-your-face with whatever the feeling is. I know this has been explored at length in a more comprehensive and articulated way than I'm doing here, but I'll just say that it's quite liberating as it's a type of kindness since it's honest. Honesty is beautiful and ultimately kind because it allows us to deal with WHAT IS, and there isn't enough of that in most of this country.
Much has been said about the passive-aggressive of California vs. the in-your-face bluntness of's very apparent, and exactly the point I'm making. The energy doesn't get stuck here, because no one is feeding resentment and shame and all that other crap that people project and leave unsaid when they don't communicate clearly and honestly--or at all--or direct their emotions into whether someone else used their blinker properly--or not, since people don't respond appropriately, but usually over-respond. Nobody here gives a damn about what you're wearing, acting like, thinking, or how you're driving...they honk and's really about an attitude of just cut the bullshit and get on with it. The rest of the country seems to be very into 'the bullshit'. 
God Bless New York.
I know all the usual crap is here, and the filter of being a newbie always affects one's perceptions, so I'm really just talking about the fact that there is a different 'preponderance' here
So let me take my own advice, and get on with it.....

A restaurant named "The Hospitality of the Circus" What is the hospitality of the circus?....Do they mean clowns (we all know I love clowns), barkers, tigers, elephants, trapeze artists? Perhaps that is the kind of hospitality a circus like NY offers

My neighborhood, Flatbush Ave. I like it here

A Horse Named Sorrow at Strand Bookstore...this tour is unique in that I've not always had the experience of randomly finding my book all over the place in the bookstores where I shop...but Horse seems to be everywhere, which makes it less mine and more of a thing out there which is an interesting feeling. A book is like a child that eventually let it go and watch it become itself. As my mother always says: "I was just your vehicle."

Speaking of mothers, above is the delightful Melissa Geiger and her husband Howard. They are the parents of my best backpacking buddy ever, Chris Geiger (we have probably logged close to a thousand miles together in California, Utah and Nevada). Chris was also unique in my life in that when I came out to him in my early 20s, he smiled and said, "Then lets go on a date." He's straight, but he's fun and fearless about most things, so I wasn't surprised really. We went to the Castro and he introduced me to people as his boyfriend. Such a kind, sweet human being. It's like he knew exactly what needed to be done to make me feel OK. He has that quality. 

Howard, who is stuck in the hospital with some mystery illness (he should be home soon), used to come out to SF to take Chris and I out to dinner to argue about politics. Then he'd pick up the check for the pasta and copious amounts of red wine and prove--to himself at least--that if there weren't Republican venture capitalists like him there'd be no one to pick up the check. We'd usually agree and thank him and tell him that's what Republicans are for. Ungrateful brats, but I'm happy to see Howard's turned liberal...NY wore him down, or perhaps Melissa, whom he points to with his brows up: 'she's a free spirit.' And is she ever...she's always like 23 and loads of fun, full of questions and fresh observations

My local coffeeshop, bright and early, where I'm doing ..this!
Beautiful Brooklyn:

Tuesday, I went to the 100th Ritual of the Queer Pagan group in the West Village. A great group of people, coming together with positive energy

They called all gay ancestors to join us, and wouldn't you know it, an email from Jack Davis was waiting for me back in my inbox when I got home. It was the 100th anniversary of one of the most important gay leaders ever, Harry Hay, who I had the good fortune to meet once....

A bench was placed at the steps that lead to the home he lived in for many years in LA's Silverlake district

For consistent readers of this blog, that's Mark Thompson and Malcolm Boy front and center (Mark has his arm around Malcolm's leg) who gave me a wonderful sendoff before I hit the road for this trip. Things like this remind one of the close relationship between LA and NYC as Harry was active in both places and the two cities have always been important partners in the exchange of ideas. I sometimes think of LA as NY's colony, which has grown huge, sort of like how America grew huge after once being a colony of Great Britain. Which makes me a provincial from the colonies. I do feel it now and again.

Yet another gay ancestor: this street was named for Mychal Judge who was the gay fire dept. chaplain who died at the world trade center

After the ritual, we went to dinner at a diner, famous for a mafia shootout

Below is the remaining bullethole, in the cheesy chandelier (they taped over the bullet hole)

My good friend and fellow writer, Ian Raphael Titus

Ian took me to the Whitney... we saw the amazing art of Jay DeFeo, who I've seen at SF MOMA as she lived most of her career in the bay area:

Never seen an outdoor public ping pong table..this one in Tompkins Square, Lower East Side

 I think this is what you call a brick house (grafitti in the stairwell at the gay center)

It's not pornographic...they are everywhere:

Omri and me

Off to do my last reading tonight in Midtown, and then off to Loretta's for a few days in Connecticut

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