At night the demons come play. Disguised as good ideas, pretending to help. The dawn is such a relief. Thank god I don’t have the bottle or a gun. Just this slow suicide: the interminable news feed. The comments, my comments. Their comments.

Dead sinners out of the sky, from the west these malicious spirits fly like birds. A great flock surround the house. They shake at the doors and windows, they want to rob me of my soul. Only the thin winter dawn, mother of pearl, glistening snow-covered lawns can save me every day, restoring rational thinking and hope.

In Irish and Scottish folklore, the Sluagh (Irish pronunciation: [sɫuə], Scottish Gaelic: [slˠ̪uaɣ], modern Irish spelling Slua, English: “horde, crowd”) are the spirits of the restless dead. Evil people who are welcome in neither heaven, hell nor the Otherworld, spurned by the Celtic deities and earth itself.  Troublesome and destructive, they fly in groups, coming from the west, known to enter the house of a dying person ready to carry their soul away. West-facing windows should be kept closed to keep them out.  The Sluagh carry souls they’ve kidnapped, holding them for all time.


On the train, on the subway, at breakfast, lunch and dinner… on-line, off-line, across the world everyone has an opinion about Donald Trump.  Conjecture, suspicion and ‘facts’ muddle our minds.  Everyday he outrages some and delights others.  He is shaking the tree as the people demanded.  He is shaking the tree so hard.  When the big rain comes it will afford us no cover.  He roars into the man-made monsoon,  tied to the mast.  His people love it.

I know folk who hate him but what’s to do?  There’s no self-examination, no Democratic autopsy.  They are still convinced the Russians lost them the election.  The genteel Democrats play gin rummy as if the parlor wasn’t burning down around them.

Oh, I’ve found myself loathing Obama this week.  I can’t bear his smiling face.  Appeasing the Republicans, remembering his first year pathetically chasing bi-partisan approval, wasting all that precious time.  Never bloodying the nose of his opponent.   Delighting the gays by making marriage equality easier and dancing with Ellen whilst he bombed the same seven countries whose refugees Trump has now signed executive orders to ignore.

There are simpering blog posts hankering after Obama.  This isn’t one of them.

Last week our very own unelected default Prime Minister Theresa May made a dash ahead of all other world leaders to Philadelphia where she gushed ecstatically over xenophobic republicans at their winter retreat then to Washington where she met Donald Trump.

Very bloody pleased with herself… conceited and smug, the gym mistress thinks her team is winning the match. When will she realize no one else is playing?  Most other Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings and Queens are either biding their time or have cancelled their visit.

Trump holds Theresa’s hand as they negotiate a marble stair case, she wags her finger at him from across the podium smiling her snaggle toothed, coquettish smile… gently chiding her new fascist friend for his unpopular NATO plans.

Ignoring what the rest of us find impossible to ignore… Theresa May, in search of a mythical post Brexit trade deal (that may or may not include poisoned beef), offers up our very own Queen Elizabeth to Trump, including a full-on State visit.  Mall, flags, banquets.

I have no sympathy for the Royal Family, our Queen Elizabeth is well-known for shaking the hand of any murderous dictator her government insist she meet.  I mean, why wouldn’t she?  It’s an amazing deal!  Shake a few undesirable hands for a life time of state sponsored, guaranteed luxury for you and your extended family in perpetuity.  The British are utterly corrupt.  See us for who we truly are when we see the world through the prism of Donald Trump.

Like the Democrats here in the USA, the British must find and define a credible opposition. Something to interrupt this love affair the people are having with these simplistic right-wing leaders and their discredited ideology… and I don’t mean some wooly, middle ground centrist opposition… a charge against fascism needs to be convincing. If we fail to find somebody charismatic… May will win the next election and so will Trump.  Both of them will sell whatever we have that is left of a good life to the super rich.  Their base don’t care.

Trump and Brexit voters are hungry for chaos/intensity.  They may not know what they want is inevitably chaotic. They have no clue they are jonesing for intensity. Yet, it’s not for nothing we have a reality TV star as President of the United States.  He drives the narrative with cliff hangers, ticking clocks, drama and intrigue.  Every day he delivers a perfect hit directly into the veins of the masses.  If our opposition are unable to deliver an equally potent drug… they will not win.

The Democrats are not currently looking for anyone to lead a battle against Trump. For the time being corporate Democrats will keep their mouths shut.  Paid to lose and acquiesce to the Republican establishment.  We watched Obama defer to the same establishment for eight years and we didn’t complain.  He was a nice guy, he could tell a killer joke and made funny and heartwarming videos in the oval office.  We were content with marriage equality and Beyoncé.

This game of Monopoly is nearly at an end.  One of us owns all the green houses and the red hotels.  We throw the dice, we dread landing on anything that will make us even poorer but we know we are losing the game.  The same player owns the utilities and the railroads… soon they will own me and all the other players. Owning everything means the game is at an end.  Yet, there is no civillised end for this game of monopoly.  The electorate is demanding radical change, as humans tend to do.  It will lead inevitably to mass murder: whether it’s by imperial invaders or tribal slaughter or mechanised death camps, mass human death is an essential part of our human experience.

We will only benefit from the near extinction of humans.

After the great plague of 1666 humans in Europe enjoyed a better standard of living.  The plague killed up to 80% of the population,   those who survived organised themselves using established structures: they found and cultivated land, for the first time workers demanded good wages from employers and for nearly one hundred years the working class enjoyed a fair and equitable existence.

We are at a turning point.  Some people are very angry.  A world war or civil war may be in the offing.  It’s what we do.  It is cyclical, it is essential for the human race that millions must die.





politics Queer Tivoli NY

Day 2: Trumptopia


After the misery of the first day and the badly attended inauguration our lives in Trumptopia cheered up somewhat.  Saturday’s Women’s March was far bigger than the inauguration, bigger by several million people… causing Trump’s press secretary to spring out of his lair, into a press conference frantically denying the facts of the inauguration and present other facts, alternative facts hastily conjured up to satisfy his gilded boss.  There were NOT 250,000 people at the event, he squealed… there were 2 million people.

Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?

Groucho Marx, Duck Soup 1933

The weather was glorious in Tivoli today.  Full on climate change.  55 degrees.  Mid January.  The lilac is already budding.  The poor plants are so confused.  If this warm weather continues we won’t have stone fruit in the region again this year.  My friend, farmer Mr. Migerelli lost $850,000 worth of peaches last year.  The trees blossomed in January then a deep frost burned the blossoms on February 14th.  He called it the St Valentine’s Day massacre.

Because of the wonderful weather everyone seemed extra jolly.  The village is full of returning Bard students.  The coffee shop has reopened after the winter break.  I spent too much time in bed perusing social media and not enough time walking the dog.  Director Amy Berg posted a virulent anti Trump post on twitter and I thought… you know it’s not good enough to sit on your butt in some swanky Venice coffee shop stating the obvious.  Take some action, Amy.  Earlier in the day I advised my weekender friends how they might do a little more than post caustic Facebook notes and start thinking about strategy.   For a start, they could transfer their safe city vote upstate.

My friend Natalie who owns the Tivoli General store was crying the day of the inauguration but after yesterdays Women’s March she seemed a lot happier.  I think the march affected everyone.  Sending a really positive message after the horror of President Trump sank in.

In LA 750,000 people turned out and there were no arrests.

I started wondering, if life gets too bad in the USA, maybe society breaks down, where would I like to live?   All over the world ordinary healthy people are falling for a debilitating bout of nationalism.  This terrible and often fatal disease is currently sweeping one continent after another. Even though the disease of nationalism can be arrested with common sense… some victims never recover.  Symptoms include: intolerance, flag waving and micro-aggression.  Australia, France and the UK (where this stinking thinking originated) have all been badly affected. Also known as Zombie Fascism; this progressive disease leads to dogma, intransigence and intolerance.  It is extremely contagious.  I’m trying my hardest to avoid it by ignoring news channels, web sites and twitter. I’m praying I won’t be touched, moved or fascinated by the ease with which fascism falsely promises to solve all my problems. I’m hoping fascism won’t get me, or those I love. My family in England… they are already afflicted.  How quickly I’ve seen my people fall, developing very ugly symptoms then… boom: full-blown fascism.

Theresa May, caught Zombie Fascism a very long time ago.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Americans don’t recognize her name. Theresa May is the UK’s St Trinian’s style gym mistress (Prime Minister) who scored a ‘diplomatic coup’ as the first world leader to meet President Trump.  She is so very proud of herself.

Words fail me. They may fail her when she meets Donald and realizes he’s full of shit and any ‘deal’ she hopes to make with him will heavily favor the USA. Like many other leaders across the world she should have waited and kept her dignity.  Let’s remember, she’s only the prime minister because nobody else wanted the job of leaving the EU. At that very crucial moment after the Brexit vote… the men were nowhere to be found.

Seriously, part of me cruelly believes Americans deserve President Trump. All their bleating and moaning must sound like sweet music to the ears of those who have been fucked over this past 200 years by the USA.  South Americans, Iranians, Iraqis, Cubans, across the world Americans have interfered in the lives and democratic process of millions of people.

Trump is uniquely American. He is their goddamned president whether they like it or not. Most… don’t like it.  Yet, for decades Americans have been crippled by inertia and complacency. They don’t vote, they feel powerless or encouraged to feel their vote is worthless.  The Trump clown car did not arrive by accident. However distasteful he may be, he is here for good reason. To energize, radicalize and motivate the people back into the democratic process.  Evidence of which we saw yesterday.

Governments loathe the people marching on the streets, they hate the sound of breaking windows.  Governments are afraid of the people.  When the people rise up government is forced to admit its vulnerability, frailty and uselessness.

Today we must all fight, where ever we live, with the impulse to accept things as they are now.  There is a new order… but it has nothing to do with Trump.  It is about you and me finally standing up and not taking it anymore.

This is a crucial moment for all the people of the world. One we would be foolish to ignore.

politics Queer

Inauguration Day 2017-President Trump


It might be a good time to remember that many, many people who voted for Donald Trump also voted for Barack Obama… twice.   We must reconcile this paradox.  It’s going to be a tough 8 years if we can’t.  

Frankly, I’m not spending every day for the next eight years incensed and indignant.  The stress will kill me.  It will kill you.  There will be many occasions when outrage or hopelessness will overwhelm us.  If we are determined to resist this presidency we must pick our battles judiciously.  Yet, one of the first battles I’m having is with myself, how do I empathise with those who voted for President Trump?  It’s a tough call.  Last year I had to set aside my resentment and accept the decision made by the British people and members of my family who voted for Brexit.

A desperate need for change is not peculiar to the USA.  All over the world people are expressing anti-establishment sentiments, electing anti-establishment leaders and pushing for anti-establishment solutions like Brexit and Trump.  I’m less upset than curious, less sad… than prepared for a scrap.

President Trump’s inaugural speech astonishingly laid bare his distrust of a corrupt and self serving American government and by extension our distrust of a corrupt and self serving government.  He audaciously described his contempt for the very people he shared the bipartisan stage.  A truculent POTUS at odds with both democrats and republicans, the Intelligence Community and The Deep State might (I’m clutching at straws) turn out to be what we all need.

Part of me is still pissed that Bernie Sander’s fight for the presidency was scuppered by Clinton fanatics at the DNC as revealed by Wikileaks.  Both Sanders and Trump energised the nations voters with the promise of revolution.  They both understood what Clinton failed to grasp: voters were demanding radical change… at any cost.

Hillary Clinton and more of the same was never going to fly in 2016.

There’s no one group of voters to blame for the ascendency of narcissistic President Trump, so we must stop blaming the working poor for this distressing state of affairs.  We must stop blocking them and de-friending them and berating them on social media.  Fact: white working class men were joined by white women and brown people and LGBT folk to elect Trump.

Clinton supporters who didn’t want radical change lazily blame white male ignorance.  My friends assure me poor white people have been hoodwinked by Trump.  They smugly remind me the white working class were voting against their ‘own interests’.

Were they? Were poor white men hoodwinked by President Trump?   No.  They knew exactly what they wanted. 

Voting against ones own interests is an elitist construct. It assumes the poor have interests and the lives lived by the poor are interesting enough for the poor to protect. Due to the banking crisis the poor have been left with nothing. They have no hope, no happiness, no health care and diminishing prospects.   Nobody spoke better to the nihilistic poor than Trump who said: I’m going to punish those who ignore you, who look down at you… those who confused you with trans rest rooms; the affluent gays… no longer second class perverts. The angry blacks and First Nation people who remind you of your cruel heart. The women who emasculate you with feminism and equal wages.

When was America great? America was great when white men were allowed unfettered dreams of greatness as others suffered some indignity at their hands. This election had nothing to do with Obama-care, nothing to do with food stamps or undocumented workers… this election had everything to do with self-esteem and unrealistic expectations. White male self-esteem and expectations. 

My friends balked when Trump promised to stop manufacturing from leaving the USA, how could anyone believe such nonsence?  Nobody.  It’s perfectly obvious to the white working class the jobs aren’t coming back and even if by some Trump miracle they did?  The working poor know they wouldn’t get those jobs. They know jobs have been mechanised.  They know a high school education excludes them from those jobs.  What’s more they have no doubt the rich will get richer and lower corporation tax will further enrich the few… but at least they won’t have to question their own white supremacy.  White men, voting Trump, are throwing themselves off the cliff into the abyss because they ran out of choices. Voting for Trump is poor white suicide, an honorable death, a samurai falling on his sword.

Poor white men have nothing and will certainly lose what little they have but Trump restores their white dignity before they die. If we fail to empathize with those who elected President Trump the pendulum will swing further to the right and our sticks and stones will not save us from full-blown fascism.

Gay Queer Tivoli NY

A Glass of Red Wine Please


I fell down the stairs.  My teeth are falling out.  I want a glass of red wine.

Ask me why I’m here in Tivoli.  Everyone asks.  They never asked how I made Malibu my home.  It never occurs to ask why they are here… or there.  People wash up where they wash up.  They stick where they get stuck.  I’ll tell you again, when I drove over the little bridge, I saw the Bard students on their stoops playing guitars and smoking.  When we sat in the sun on the terrace at The Hotel Tivoli that first afternoon eating almond cookies and cappuccino, I thought… I could live here.  It’s a long way from Malibu.

My neighbours invite me into their homes.  I’m not shy, I know all of my neighbours on North Road.  Some of them are difficult, most of them are not.  There’s the cantankerous woman with the Indian husband who said she would never allow me to build my house.  She lives in an elegant, converted church with a pretty campanile and an obelisk dedicated to those who lost their lives during the slave holders rebellion.  Her gang of Mexican gardeners work all year maintaining the blue stone paths, an avenue of oak trees and perfect lawns.  Number 14, to my right, the considerate garden designer and her good husband, they were first… inviting me to crawl into their Japanese tea house for a formal Japanese tea ceremony.  She whisks the hot green tea.  We admire the satsuma ware.

An older gay couple live opposite my ramshackle house.  They collect classic cars.  Last summer one of them told me quietly and sadly about his lover of many years who died in his arms just here on the drive.  We looked silently into the inky black tar as he remembered his dearly beloved.  The neighbours don’t know the gay men who live opposite my house or what tragedy happened there.  They were very discreet… until the Trump/Pence yard sign appeared.

Lydia and the ex-mayor Tom, shortly after I moved to the village, invited me to walk the coppice, to a brook at the end of the property.  Tom must be 80 years old but climbs all over his painted lady like a monkey.  They spend the winter in Florida.  Their dog Charlie escapes every night to ransack my trash.  Tom and Lydia share Charlie with Marion, a friendly Tivolian who lives immediately to my right.  She smokes as much as I want to and calls me Pumpkin, she tends 20 house cats and an elderly relative.

Bob the artist, whose work I’ve never seen, cycles two blocks into the village to buy beer.  His slim wife looks overwhelmed, fragile.  One house North.  Occasionally I hear her delicate laugh drifting over the lawn.  The cook, the thief his wife and their lover, the grumpy deaf man who valiantly scoops his disabled girlfriend in and out of their car.

Then, in the last of the Victorian houses on our side of the street, there’s Phyllis and Lee.  She paints huge canvases of naked men and women.  We went to Rhinecliff library on Saturday night and she told us the story of her life. She’s not scared of desire or her sexuality.  She celebrates love and lust.

The current mayor, Joel wonders what I’m doing in Phyllis’s house eating noodles.  He wonders why I’m here in Tivoli.  I bake Phyllis and Lee a banana loaf.  Joel looks at me suspiciously, we have no reason to be friends.  I see him often at the pub, he hugged me there the night Trump was elected.  He sat with us briefly at the Tivoli summer party and ate the free hot dogs.  He and the Deputy Mayor Emily have a plan for Tivoli that won’t include Bard students or noisy pubs or late night buses.  Even though Joel was a Bard student… once.

There are sober people in the village.  I mean… AA people.  The disgraced doctor, the chef and the celebrity bar man.  There’s the obese sex pest who I see at AA meetings but never admits he drinks every day.  He poked me in the chest outside The Lost Sock laundromat and told me I was the devil.

There are people in Tivoli who should be sober:  the newly married couple with rosy cheeks and big breasts who excel at the pub quiz.  They aren’t dangerous.  The woman who knocked over the fire hydrant is very dangerous, the same woman… the same night, she took the wing off another car before driving into the side of the pub… escaping without charge and boasting about it the following day.

There are a couple of women in the village who might do well to forgo alcohol.   Swollen faces, bruised and bloodied.  Small town drunks.

I’ve devoted 20 years of my life to AA.  I am writing about the quasi-religious cult I’ve devoted my life to, again.  The people I’ve met there are, on the whole, totally insane.  I’m very attracted in an Almodovar kind of way to the crazy house wives, the heroin addicted aristocrats, the failed pop stars and grateful accountants who kneel every morning and thank God for another day.   I love their stories, listening to the moment when they were born again.

Tonight as I sit nursing my damaged ankle I thought I might write about how much I would like a large glass of red wine.  Montepulciano.  I wonder what it would do to me or who I would become.  I wonder if I could forget sobriety for just one goddamned moment, take a day off.   Will everything I learned in AA just vanish the moment I drink?  Will God forsake me?  Of course not.  Why do I have to be an expert in abstinence?  What’s that all about?  Why is my success, my only real success measured in days sober?

A woman I know just drowned herself in a bottle of wine.  She’d been lying to everyone about not drinking and I thought to myself… so what.  Have a drink.  Have a fucking drink.  And then I listened to Sade and she was singing ‘Sweetest Taboo’ and I remember laying on Whitstable beach with Matt and we were in love and drinking white wine.  I felt nostalgic for something I had given up and replaced in equal measure with a bunch of crazy… sad people and their sad and crazy stories all because I thought I was going to die.

I have things to tell you, but those stories can wait.  Tales of obsession and ordinary madness.  Tales of greed and random cruelty.  I could tell you about the interior decorator who visited last weekend and his dull, rich white friend I endured lunch with.  I could tell you more about the woman who fell in love with me and couldn’t and wouldn’t take no for an answer.  I could tell you about rotting jaws, falling down the stairs and handcuffs.

I’ll tell you next time.

architecture art Queer

Steven Holl/Jim Hodges

The Ex of In House in Rhinebeck is an experimental guest house developed directly from the ongoing Explorations of “IN” project at Steven Holl Architects.


Jim Hodges, Gladstone Gallery NYC 2016.  I Dreamed a World and Called it Love




Faris Al-Shathir

Faris Al-Shathir is a gay Iraqi ‘professional squatter’.  I’ve no idea what that means but Faris warranted a full-page in the New York Times describing his honed introduction skills.   I met Faris on Fire Island a couple of years ago.  He was hosting an art event, raising cash for queer artists to live and work on Fire Island.  Faris is witty, charming and bright.  I follow him on Facebook.   This week he posted this on his feed:

I connected with someone on a dating app recently. We were chatting for a few days, until he asked me where my name was from. I told him my parents were from Iraq. The next time I logged on he had blocked me. I would love to say this is the first time this has happened, but the sad truth is that it happens all the time. I don’t talk a lot about my race, but given the current political climate, I feel more and more challenged. I’m in a unique place, I have blue eyes and I am an Arab. My ethnicity is ambiguous. I understand what white privilege feels like, what it feels like to be treated like a normal human being and be given every opportunity for life and love. But my last name is Al-Shathir and to many people that is scary or disgusting. I also know what it is like to not be given a fair chance bc of my ethnicity. I know what it feels like to be on the other side, the side that isn’t fortunate enough to live in privilege every day just because of the color of their skin.
Lately, one of my biggest frustrations has been that so many people don’t seem to understand that that privilege exists. They lack empathy. They don’t comprehend that it’s a horrible reality and completely unfair. Nobody should be treated differently bc of their ethnic origin, race, or color (or gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, etc. for that matter). We should live in a society where we are all given equal opportunity. If you are one of the many people who feel complacent about this or feels like it’s not an issue, you are wrong. If you’ve learned to succeed even under these circumstances, that doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist. If you feel like it’s not going to get worse, you are wrong. The future president of our country was elected after making numerous public statements threatening, insulting and demoralizing minorities, muslims, women, people with disabilities, the list goes on and on. Over 60 million Americans voted for Trump, supporting his words and actions. He has normalized hate, empowering a scary and powerful population.
So yes, I am scared for the future. I ask all of my friends to not be complacent. We must stand for what is right.

I replied:

Faris, gay men are not great examples of empathy toward each other or other groups. I met you on Fire Island in a largely affluent, young, white environment. Try being sober and gay. Try owning the natural body you have and being gay. Try having different opinions about Prep. If you do not fit in you are treated like a pariah. There’s no room for individuality unless prescribed by Ru Paul.  The two gay men who live opposite me upstate voted for Trump. Our community is increasingly right-wing. As for racism. ‘No blacks, no Asians, no fems or fats’. Perhaps a gay dating app is not the best place to look for empathy.

Faris didn’t ‘like’ my comment.

Do I think he was blocked for being Arab.  No, I don’t.  The gays will fuck anything.  I’m sure who ever blocked him didn’t want a conversation.  Although there’s something a little whiney and naive about the post… not getting laid opened the flood gates for Faris.  He had an epiphany.  A moment of clarity.  He understood (what so many of us already understood) that white people control the outcome.  That white gay men are no different.  That Middle Eastern people and particularly muslims are currently getting the blame for all the evils in the world.  I make sure men I meet on apps know I’m Middle Eastern from the outset and my experience on the hook up apps as an out Iranian is very positive.  If you consider being objectified and fetishized by white guys… very positive.

If Faris believes he was blocked for being Middle Eastern try being a young black man blocked ahead of any conversation simply for having a black face.  My young black friend DP just returned from his first trip to London, I asked how it was visiting a city where racism in the gay community has been largely eradicated. He said, “My Grindr blew up!”  Meaning of course…  white men SAW him and contacted him and didn’t ignore him because he is black.

My friend Adam arrived upstate recently, addicted to Grindr he jumped on the app and immediately started blocking… it made me feel sick.  Sick that Adam might be missing out on someone somewhere simply because were not photogenic or rather… Grindrgenic.  I once blocked a severely disabled man on Grindr because I couldn’t bring myself to tell him his disability was going to be difficult for me to deal with.   I’ve ignored chubby men, older men and trans.  I’ve lectured men about their bad pics in the age of instagram filters.  Sadly, our on-line community has evolved into a series of photographs that may or may not grab the attention of the next viewer.   A few words then a parade of cock shots and gaping anus.

Many gay men are waking up to a new reality.  Faris is not alone.  Gay men have enjoyed a great deal of privilege these past few years. After Trump’s shock election the gays are suddenly aware they might become second-class citizens once again.   Faris, like many gay men, are feeling vulnerable.  They are beginning to understand how older men like me lived our lives before we fought and won equality… for people like Faris.   He berates the community for their lack of empathy, their ignorance of ‘privilege’.  He uses the most un american of terms: unfair.  It’s unfair that white men don’t understand the concept of white privilege.  We can assume from this clumsy post… Faris, like many gay men, is waking up.  Faris is taking baby steps toward becoming… radicalized.

Many of us already feel like second class citizens… within the gay community.   Those of us who are older, who don’t fanatically go to the gym or Soul Cycle or Barry’s Boot Camp.  Try being gay and sober or simply expect more from our fellow gay travellers.   Long ago I began to loathe those monstrous gays who took our tenuous rights and equality for granted.  Long before Trump ever threw his hat into the ring.  After Trump’s win… I am beset by Schadenfreude.   I had written endlessly that our rights, our very existence should not be used by left or right to prove a point.  Allowing ourselves to be co-opted by the left as evidence of a better society could turn out very badly for us.  It has.

During the election I warned my gay male friends not to be complacent (it’s a little late to warn about complacency Faris) and expect President Trump.  They ignored my warning, they insulted my judgement and accused me of ignoring the polls.  They were wedded to their skewed logic that Hillary would win because Trump was unelectable.   But mostly they were wedded to the idea that gay life was a bull market and could only get better.

Gay Hollywood Los Angeles Queer Tivoli NY

Golden Globes 2017


It’s the morning after the Golden Globe awards.  I don’t have a hangover but I do have a severe headache.  Ahead of my rant, the first order of the day?  Congratulate Barry Jenkins who brilliantly won the best drama golden globe for his exquisite film, Moonlight.  By awarding this black/queer film best drama the HFPA have thrown down a gauntlet to Hollywood.  They are daring The Academy to address its crippling lack of diversity.  I predict that Moonlight will go on collecting nominations and awards (will win SAG, Spirit Awards) but can it win Academy Awards?  Here lies the rub.  The only two bankable commodities in this little film are Jenkins and Harris who are both Hollywood gold.

The liberal, Hollywood talent elite are trilling about Meryl Streep.  They forget the less liberal Hollywood majority booed Michael Moore after receiving his Bowling for Columbine Oscar and using the academy podium to remind us of President Bush’s fictitious reasons for invading Iraq in his brilliant and oft quoted ‘fictitious times’ speech.  President Obama of course, perpetuated those fictions but did it by stamping out dissent and whistle blowing within the United States.  Snowden, Assange, Manning.  My heroes.

The real money in Hollywood is behind Trump… the power.  The talent can make art out of outrage and in turn make billions of $ for the white Hollywood establishment.   I can’t imagine former friend and UTA boss Jeremy Zimmer is anything other than thrilled by the prospect of a Trump presidency, salivating over the kind of big money he’s going to make these next four to eight years.

I wonder who reps Barry Jenkins?  I can tell you one thing.  He won’t have a black agent or manager at one of the leading agencies or management companies… because there aren’t any.  Until there are black faces repping big money at the agencies, black faces producing movies or living on Carbon Beach in Malibu or heading up the teamsters union…  Hollywood will be as is it always has: racist.  A white industry where predominantly white men control the money.  It is not a place where your dreams will come true, it is a place where old white men will decide which of their dreams will come true using your talent.

It’s simply not good enough to call Trump names at award shows. Yeah he’s a prick, yeah he’s hollow, yes he’s predictable. Are we gonna repeat ourselves every day? Expecting a different outcome? Let’s call him what he is: Donald Trump is the most powerful white supremacist in the world. Riding an international wave of fascism. Your president is a white supremacist.

As I’ve asked a million times before, are you willing to put your life on the line to fight fascism? Are you willing to demonstrate, be interned or tortured or imprisoned? Sooner or later Facebook rants and memes just won’t cut it. History proves that when things get nasty the people do as they are told. However brave they say they are before the black shirts arrive. It’s my guess that you’ll put up with it too. You’ll go on the one million woman march… then they’ll round-up the South Americans in California and what will you do?  Then they’ll go after lgbt rights… and what will you do? They’ll outlaw abortion. What will you do? They’ll shoot to kill and fill the prisons with any and every black man who looks scary and what will you do? Tweet?

You’ll tweet about it.


I’m very slowly going blind.  Foolishly, after many years of  not looking carefully at my plate, I started wearing my glasses when I eat.  Oh My God, revolting!  Gelatinous sauces oozing from the edge of beef and chicken.  Seeds baked into bread.  Glazes and jus and creamed potato sprinkled with chives.  I want to vomit, overwhelmed by the detail, the slightest movement as you press down onto the burger and my lunch becomes a suppurating sore discharging blood, guacamole and mayonnaise.  I am captivated by gravy as it seeps under and drips around roast pork.   Nauseated, I have to take my glasses off.  On Saturday night we had pasta with sea urchin butter and caviar at Fish and Game in Hudson.  Although delicious, I couldn’t fully enjoy it until it was just a blur on my plate otherwise, it was a mesmerizing… awful experience.


The dogs know it is bitterly cold this morning.  Minus 13.  They are under the covers.  Hidden away.  Unlike England which is cold, wet, dark and raw thankfully it is bright and cold here upstate making the day less of a chore.  Our store, Tivoli General is open and there are AA meetings in Hudson.

I stayed in bed, too distracted by pain.  The infection in my jaw getting worse.

The third Monday of January is notorious for suicide.  This third Monday in January will be no different.  A mass suicide event will take place in the USA and nobody will say a word.

Did you know I fell out with Stephen Fry a year or so ago?   I had the audacity to mention the freedoms and privilege a celebrity enjoys.  Celebrities HATE when you discuss their fame.  Or in his case… his twitter feed.  We then had an email fight about God and the existence of God.   I asked him if he realised almost all of his sober friends have a god in their life.  He reluctantly accepted that spirituality may be very loosely beneficial for some people but that’s that.  There’s a connection (if you can be bothered to work it out) between his reluctance to discuss celebrity and his eagerness to dismiss a certain kind of God.   “Stephen, you don’t have to believe in God,”  I said.  “As long as you know you’re not God.”

He said rather ominously, “Be very careful.”

Not being very careful, I asked, “So if you don’t belive in God… who do you cry out to every time you try killing yourself?”

That was it.  No more Stephen Fry.



Another Short Story About Death

A Fragment

There’s darkness all around me.  Both sides.  Consider it.  Consuming me.  Your death.  When I wake in the morning and retire at night.  My obsession to kill, to kill you obscures the view, softens the edges like a drink, like a cold beer, like a veil.  Then I’m walking in the world.  I am on the street.  I am not where my body is.  Away from my house,  trapped in the sunlight.  Jacarander in full bloom.  Smashed avocado on the side-walk.  Why bother going out?  I could be planning his death.  Planning the end of his life.  Scripting the final words he will hear before he’s snuffed out.  I have to feed the dog.  Buy probiotic.  Pass the homeless black man reclining on the concrete bench.

Franklin, Selma, Cherokee.

The only fascinating thing that came out of his mouth was my cock.  I have a photograph of that.   I wish I had been more tenacious tending my own lusty garden, less sensitive, less caring.

When people stay over they complain I scream out in my sleep.  Night terrors.  They ask, who is Jake?  I shudder to think what I am doing in those forgotten nightmares.  Am I trapped or caught or bringing down the knife?  Have I cornered him?  Is he begging for his life?  Have the tables been turned, the police called?  Am I already handcuffed, am I sitting in the electric chair?

There are no consequence, nothing scares me when the lights are on, when dawn has broken.  As I make my way, steeply up the dusty trail.  Fighting one resentment after another.  Slip sliding past these single people with their dog children.  Calling out.  One dog, two dogs, three dogs.  This morning I counted 145 dogs.  I’m calling your name as I sleep.  Jake!  Come back to me.

There is something inevitable. Keep your voice down.  I am planning.  I’ll leave it up to my dreams to work out the detail.   The multiple contractions of apprehension.  Accept my fate, God’s will (not mine) be done.

I worked in the county jail for the Mexican nuns.  Organizing lectures for the pre-trial detainees.  I met murderers there.  They were so contrite. I listened politely to their stories.  “I’ve taken a life.”  He wept.  He buried her in a storm drain, using a broom handle to push her limbs out of sight.

Culver, Washington, Sepulveda.

The heavy rains, El Niño flushed her desiccated body into the LA River,  bobbing along the concrete culvert until she met the choppy Pacific Ocean.  Murderers all, never thinking I would one day join them.  Wearing orange scrubs and yellow underwear.  I wonder if I will be as contrite when strangers ask me for my story?  Contrition has never been my friend.

After many months of consideration everything is in place.  Everything I need to know:  Where he lives, the route he takes to work, how I can find him.

Hyperion, 101, West Temple.

I have seen recent pictures of him on his Mother’s Facebook.  The way he wears his hipster beard, trimmed in such a way I never knew.  I wonder if his lover advises him to wear it like that? He is wearing a jacket I picked out for him.  Do you know how much that amuses me?  Every time he pulls on that jacket he has no option but to think of me.

I have not yet bought the weapon.

The cast is chosen, the die… is cast.  The private detective, my unwitting accomplice.  The weapon?  Must buy.  Top of the list.  Number 1.  It was easy to find the Private Detective.  Google.  Boasting he once worked for the LAPD.  Despicable cops.  Everything about my failed relationship with Jake was conceived and born on the internet.  It was shaped on web cams,  emails, Facebook, Manhunt, Grindr.

Determined by him.

When and whenever he wanted.  I gave into him.  Until I didn’t.

How and why should a charming, affluent, fifty year old think like this?  Why this murderous obsession?  I used to wake every morning full of hope, like a young boy!  Enchanted by all the world has to offer.  Now I see nothing.  At the mercy of nothing.  Darkness both sides of me.  I used to wake up every morning and thank God for the new day.  Now there is no God, just a black hole where God used to be, consuming everything in the universe.  Sucking anything of value into the vortex.  The furies are all I’m left with.  On the edge of the black hole.

I have given up wondering why I am so angry at him.   This is all you need to know:

Alone in my bed at night but not isolated. The house is full of people.  The dog is well fed.  The maid cleans.  The gardeners trim and prune and sweep.  There are fragrant hyacinths, white and purple, growing in pots on the dining room table.  Freshly grown fruit picked and washed ready to eat.

I don’t expect to get away with this.  In anticipation I have been disconnecting from my darling dog.  He knows it, he paws at me insistently.  He knows something grave is in the offing.  He, in turn, is learning to trust the kindness of others.  He doesn’t want to be left on his own.  I may have murdered months ago had it not been for the extraordinary something between me and a dog.  I am ready to let go of him too.  He hides from me when I cry, he hides from me when I am angry.  Leaves puddles of urine on the white rug. He cowers when I shout at dullards on the streets or digital voices on the telephone.  He is scared by the smell of whiskey on my breath.  He is ready for a different master.  

I am ashamed to tell you, when he first arrived from the shelter I was quite cruel to him.  He was scared and disoriented when I brought him home.  Barking, barking.  He would pee on everything and after a week of cleaning the house, scrubbing the god damned carpet, mopping the tile, the smell of dog pee on everything I owned.  Every time he peed I shouted at him.

He defecated in my closet.   I shouted so hard he ran away and hid in the garden.

I wished he would never come back.  I begged God the coyote would eat him.  The rattle snake would kill him.  For a week he managed to not get eaten by the coyotes.  How?  Packs of coyote stalk my property.  Screaming for their dinner.  He walked back into the house as if nothing had happened.  He never urinates on the carpet again.

He’s not the only one who escapes the anger when it comes.  People in the room move away from me as if they know me.  I used to shout at people in the street.  I’ve been angry.  Very angry.  Furious.  It’s a problem.  Perhaps I am well-known for flying off the handle?  There’s no question mark.  I am well-known for losing my temper.  At work, in situations where powerlessness grips me, I feel myself sinking.  I shouted so loudly, my blood pressure so high, I collapsed.  Shifting the liquid in my inner ear.  The doctor thought I was having a stroke.

I lost my temper with Jake.  I lost my temper when we thought he had been robbed.  I lost my temper at the airport in Paris, Charles De Gaulle.   He recoiled.  Everyone does.  I am a big man who looks docile for the most part.  Docile, until they prod me with their stick.  Docile until the blood drains out of my face, my lips turn blue and I look like an animal.  I know where you are.  I can hear you talking about me during the day.  My ears burning.  He’s doing it right now.  I can hear him laughing at me.  Describing my horrible temper.  Sharing stories about me with his friends.  Laughing at every choice I ever made.  I imagine him with my old acquaintances (friends no more) who may have contacted him.  Laughing at how old I am.  Wondering what he ever saw in me.  My erectile dysfunction.  The white in my beard.  My stiff knees.  

He is only twenty-nine years old.  I don’t expect him to celebrate his thirtieth birthday.

Chris, the Private Detective.  The first time we met, we met in public.  We drank coffee at a large table at my private club over looking Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.

Doheny, Hillcrest, Thrasher.

A plump, sanguine, middle-aged man who is not even middle-aged. Certainly fifteen years younger than me yet seems so much older.  There is something invisible about him.  He is uniquely American.  He is invisible.  He is everyman, dressed as everyman therefore invisible.  I would be hard pressed to pick him out of a crowd even though I have met him twice.  He had no particular expression, no charisma, no beauty and no opinion.

Only when pressed did he tell me about his other clients:  a woman from Pasadena whose husband she suspected was having an affair.  He followed the unemployed spouse into Santa Monica who sat in the library day after day drinking english tea from a flask he filled at The Coffee Bean and reading free newspapers until it was time to go home.

I wondered if I had ever been followed, watched or my movements documented?   Really, who would care enough to do that?  I couldn’t think of anyone other than Joe.  The thought made me smile.  Not even he would bother.  Even as we were in the midst of our messy ‘divorce’.

The second time I met Chris the Detective we met at my home.  He had, by this time, reseached me.  He was less restrained, he knew who I was and who he was dealing with.  He told me about a boy he was looking for, a lost boy.  He thinks the boy is already dead.  Suicide.  “Let’s talk about money.”  Chris pulled a contract out of a black plastic folder and I handed him a cheque for $1, 500.  Discover where he goes, I said.  With whom.  Simple.

Yes, I am a homosexual.  I wondered if you guessed already?  Had I made it obvious? Was it evident in the way that I write?  The way I see things.  Does it differ from the way you see things?  A homosexual, a landlord and recently  (I don’t know how to write this) a television personality from a reality television show.  That’s how I make my money, odd jobs.  Like the downs syndrome boy who lives in my home town.  Running errands.  I am a high achieving cripple.

Odd jobs suit me fine.

Yet, I earn more money than I ever have.  Using all of my potential.   Even though the worst of me seems to get the better deal every single day and always has.

I can confide in you?

Each night I regret the passing of another day.  I lay in my bed and before I fall asleep, knowing that soon my freedom will be curtailed.  My sheets no longer woven from heavy linen.  My houses in the mountains will fall into disrepair.  Friends and family will come and take what they want and the lawyers will take the rest.  My dog will never see me again.  Will he too die in prison?  Euthanized by strangers?  Is it worth it?  To lose everything because he made a fool of me?  Lied to me?  Can I risk everything?  Should I?

I have never been so sure of anything in my whole life.  In lieu of suicide, murder works just fine.  I talk to him, imaginary conversations.  I catch hold of his sleeve and I ask him, “Can I tell you how you broke my heart?”  He looks back at me.  His brown eyes and soft mouth.  I say, “Because you trusted me, you encouraged me, you loved me.  Then you saw something you hated and turned your back on me and I was alone and I couldn’t bear being all on my own… again.” Then I feel sorry for him.  I want to help him get out of this pickle.  Run away!  While you still have the opportunity. I don’t want to kill anything.  But the wish to kill is never killed, even when I am happy, even when the twins are bouncing around the house.

Sometimes I want to call you and give you fair warning.  I want to tell you to run and hide so I can’t get you.  But I don’t.  I don’t because the die is cast.  I have already caused him inexorable pain and chaos.  I know his entire family (Mother, Father and sister) stand beside him whereas I have no one here.  His tiny jewish mother, her short coarse hair, married to her tall slim husband whose ambition is to travel by push bike from Southern California to burning man and take acid. His mum and dad who only found out he was gay when I forced him to tell the truth.  They were shocked their son could have made so many bad choices, led a double life.  Told so many lies.  He compartmentalized the life he led with his fiance and the life he had with me.

He is not uncommon.  So many gay men learn how to lie, to skirt the existence others think they lead.  Last week a gay acquaintance of mine found dead in his bathroom from a Oxycontin overdose.  He was fine!  His father told everyone that he had only just put down the phone twenty-four hours ago and his son, his only son, his darling son was fine.

I used to tell him that.  I warned him.  Toxic shame kept him lying to everyone who loved him and would end up killing him if he didn’t tell the truth.


My name is Charles Maguire.  I am fifty years old.  I live with my small dog  in a large, mid-century modern house designed in part by Rudolf Schindler on three acres of verdant, semi tropical gardens overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  The gardens are planted with Agave, cactus and other drought loving succulents.  Below the house there is a small grove of olive trees.  Last summer I grew cherimoya, oranges, grapes, lemons, plums, peaches and many vegetables.  The excess fruit and vegatables I left at the top of the drive for my neighbours, they took the produce and ignored the honesty box.

Malibu is a tranquil place many miles away from Hollywood.  I can see the stars at night and listen to birds all day long.  Hawks wheeling in the sky.  There is a carp pond and a plunge pool.  My neighbours are European.  Americans tend to fear the idea of living on the mountain.  When they arrive at the house they say, “Are you scared of….mudslides, fires, earthquakes etc?”  And I reply, “No… not much scares me up here.  Then they tour the garden and tell me this is a ‘magical’ place.  It is when you stop being scared.

Latico Canyon, Las Flores, Topanga.

Last month young twins moved into the guest house but mostly they hang out with me.  My Mormon twins, tall, perfectly sculpted bodies, so polite and thoughtful.  As much as I love them, they shall not distract me from my great task.  Perhaps all I want is attention?  Craving attention.  Negative or otherwise?  The trial,  I arrive looking svelte and dapper.  I will stand in the witness-box and sob when forced to tell my abusive back story.

I think about him again.  I think about how he may or may not be with someone he loves who is not me.  I think of him having sex with someone he loves who is not me.  Then I think murderous thoughts that many of us have when ditched.   I console myself in the shadow of that word:  I think about the wounds on his body that I am going to inflict and how they will open in his flesh like cactus flowers.

I don’t think anyone will be surprised when they hear that I am arrested.  Most people I know understand that I am the sort of man who would or could be capable of murder.  Just like my father.   He was the same way.

The route he takes to work everyday.  Hyperion, 101, Culver.

The twins are in their room making love.  I can hear them.  One of them says softly, “Don’t!” They giggle.   They look at my AA sober coins and say, “These are really cool trinkets.”  They are going to the gym and getting ready to audition. They don’t know my thoughts.  They can’t possibly know what is going on upstairs in the head department.  They are simple Mormon boys who make love in the morning and talk about girls all day long. I can hear them kissing.  I can hear them cooing like doves.  I can hear one of them gasp.

Since he left me I have put on weight.  My jowls are sagging.  The skin around my eyes drooping over my eye lids.  My belly looks permanently full and my skin is dull and grey.  I used to be attractive but that doesn’t matter any more.  Who cares what I look like?

I don’t.

I have not had an erection for months.   Hey, gay boy.  Can you imagine that?  Fucking gay boys!  Not to have an erection?  Not to wake up with morning wood because all you can think about twenty-four seven is how you are going to speed a bullet through his brains?

Murderous thoughts destroy ones libido.  Although, most murderers say they get an erection after a murder, that ones penis becomes doubly engorged.

I don’t look at pornography, I don’t show myself on any match-making web site.  I don’t drink alcohol or take drugs.  I drink coffee and smoke strong cigarettes.  I barely ever brush my teeth unless I have to share a car with someone… and then, only when that person matters.  I stand naked in front of the mirror so the image of who I am burns into my brain.  I am ugly and useless and un-lovable.  I am old.

Some days I kneel at the edge of my bed and pray that I can be delivered from this obsession but God long ago fled the scene of this crime.  I have nothing to lose.  My life is worthless.

I can hear the twins in another part of the house film scenes for a film that has no beginning, middle or end.  The dog is with them, he’s barking and running around joyfully.  I know, if I join them they will sit quietly.  Their joy deferring to my misery.

Did you know that I used to have two dogs?  The other one was killed in the road.  I miss her so much.  Somehow her death, her cruel and senseless death introduced me to the idea of death.  Life’s fragility.  I am crying now.  Thinking about her.

Anyway, that’s that.  The detective has been appointed.  Cal from Manhattan Beach has the gun. It is presently sitting in a box wrapped in a dishcloth.  He texted me a picture of the gun.  Applying some Polaroid app to the image which made it look very old-fashioned.  Very old.  Everything is in place.  What could possibly stop me.  Other than his pleading face?  His begging cries?  His convincing argument that he might live?

Why don’t I just kill my old self and spare his young life?

I say goodbye to the dog and the twins.  I walk for one last time around the estate.  The paths that cut into the hill-side.  The view over the ocean.  I say goodbye to it all.  “The next time you see me will be on the television.”  The twins look a little confused but are too polite to pry.  The Little Dog thought he was coming too and looked quite panicked when I did not invite him into the car.  I didn’t look back.  I could hear him barking.  I didn’t look back.

405, Vista Del Mar, Highland Ave


Cal, shows me the gun.  He is very excited.   A plan to kill.   I am discovering that murder excites some people, like the soldiers in Afghanistan who without consideration shot and killed innocent men and women without regard.  It was their thrill and now I feel it too.

A thrill comes over me, more intense than anything I have ever felt before.  Do men feel the same before they kill themselves?   Have I thought about suicide?  I think about it everyday.  Every single day.  If I am brave enough go kill myself I might as well take someone with me.  The man who broke my heart.  The man who caused everything to stop except time.  Stuck in this morass.

Gay NYC Queer Tivoli NY

Slave Holders Rebellion



The New York State Sheep and Wool Festival held at the Dutchess County Fair Ground,  Rhinebeck NY is one of the last remaining countryside traditions in New York State.  Unlike the bawdy Duchess County Fair (started in 1842) the Sheep and Wool Festival (started in 1980) is very genteel.  Affluent white people, mostly women (with compliant bearded husbands) and gay 30 something men pet Vicuna and jostle for home spun, naturally dyed, two ply.

In England we regularly honor the land and our relationship with it.  Many of our country festivals have pagan origins.  The Harvest Moon, St Michael’s Mass, Lammas Day, country fairs and garden festivals.  When we celebrate May Day in my home town of Whitstable at the very edge of ‘The Garden of England’ on the North East Kent coast bordering the shallow, oyster clogged Swale, we revive a 16th century English tradition. Local people garland spring flowers and weave twigs of new leaves.  Pussy willow, catkins and briar. With these we entirely cover a grown man.  With his head dressed in topiary he often stands over nine feet tall.  This walking bush became known as Jack ‘o the Green.  The Jack is central to the Whitstable May Day celebration and leads a parade of Morris Dancers and mythical characters to the town square.

We celebrate our medieval past without too much shame.  The colonial atrocities we care to admit, were committed elsewhere.  We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land… and thank God for reminding us how lucky we are not to have seen the Boer War or Partition with our own eyes.  In the USA, however, the recent past is not so easily side-stepped.  The terrible ghosts white folk see:  the ghosts of slaughtered First Nation people whose land they stole and the million or more slaves who made this land what it is today.  In the North East embarrassed white people do not necessarily want to be reminded of their slave-owning ancestors or those who killed the thriving Algonquian people of the Hudson Valley.

7-14 million people lived in North America before the white man arrived.  Today, little evidence survives of the people who lived here.  Anyway, who visits North America (unlike Greece or Mexico) and thinks to see the First Nation pyramids of Louisiana or the ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings in Colorado?  The Greek government loves to invest in the Parthenon and Greeks love to visit it.  But First Nation sites are more likely to remind Americans of the Trail of Tears and treaty violations than appeal to their nationalism. 

Dr. Adrienne Keene, a First Nation scholar and activist. “We are taught nothing was here, so Native people deserved to have their land taken away: that’s how white supremacy and colonialism work.”

What of the thousands of slaves brought to the Hudson Valley?  Walk into the country side, look at the derelict shack, the rickety chicken coop.  People once lived in those… shivering as the bitter wind and snow tore over the fields, daring not to faint as the scorching summer sun beat down on thousands of enslaved men, women and their children who cleared and farmed these lands.  Driving from Red Hook to Tivoli the bucolic landscape of The Hudson Valley looks less benign.

Josiah Henson wrote, “Wooden floors were an unknown luxury. In a single room we huddled, like cattle, ten or a dozen persons, men, women, and children. We had neither bedsteads, nor furniture of any description. Our beds were collections of straw and old rags, thrown down in the corners and boxed in with boards; a single blanket the only covering.”


On North Road, Tivoli NY opposite my Victorian home stands an elegant, marble obelisk erected in 1866 commemorating lives lost fighting the ‘Slave Holders Rebellion’.  When I first read the crumbling text I was taken aback.  What was the Slave Holders Rebellion? What did this inscription mean?  Was it some local event?  Nobody seemed to know.  White people didn’t know. Black people didn’t know.

The Slave Holders Rebellion is how the Civil War was contemporaneously described.   The meaning of the Civil War, the point of it…

Slavery is New York’s dirty little secret.  Many people are shocked to learn that slavery existed in the North East. Yet, as on the cotton fields of the southern states, people as property were considered essential to further settlements and do profitable business. By reducing labor costs to the care and maintenance of their human chattel, settlers turned a huge profit on a relatively small investment.

In New York State, owning 10 slaves at the turn of the 18th century was considered a large holding.  Michael Groth, in his article, “The African-American Struggle against Slavery in the Mid-Hudson Valley 1785-1827,” estimated that one in 10 households included slaves. All persons of consequence were expected to be in possession of slaves, but not every slave owner was wealthy.  People of modest means owned slaves. The purchase of a slave was a worthwhile investment for a farmer with moderate income.

“Those that could afford it kept slaves, and each owner put a mark upon his black servants, and registered the same with the town clerk, in order that runaways might be more easily traced. For instance the mark of Mathew Wygant was ‘a square notch of ha’penny on the upper sie of the left ear’.”

For 200 years, from 1624 to 1824, the first Dutch territories were sparsely settled with white people. Enslaved Africans were a major portion of those first wave of immigrants, estimated in some areas at between one-fifth and one-third.  In Ulster County, in 1746, slaves numbered 1,100 with the white population at about 4,100.  It is unknown how many First Nation people they lived along side.  The Dutch West Indies Company brought the first slaves to New York territories in 1626 to work on farms, roads and forts.  The Dutch were frustrated at their inability to profit from lumber, fur and agriculture.

In 1644 the Dutch West Indies Company brought in 6,900 men, women and children from the African coast.

It was company-owned slave labor that laid the foundations of modern New York, built its fortifications and made agriculture flourish in the colony so that later white immigrants had an incentive to turn from fur trapping to farming.

Between 1600 and 1860, the transatlantic slave trade brought 9 to 11 million enslaved Africans to the USA.  In 1820, about 10 percent of the population of the Town of Kingston NY consisted of black slaves.  By the end of the 18th century, New York held the dubious distinction of being the state with the largest slave population in the North.  Ironically, the streets of Kingston and Rhinebeck NY were more diverse than they are today.

Slaves were sold in Kingston and New Paltz at public auction.  Terms were made easy so people of modest means could afford them. A commodity bought and sold, used to settle debts and bequeathed to heirs.  Slave sale notices were common in daily newspapers, next to advertisements for land and farm equipment. They described these men, women and children as “healthy” and “stout”,  the same language used to sell livestock. It is clear from the advertisements that infants or children could be sold at the “purchaser’s option,” separating a mother and child with the stroke of a pen.

The cost of a slave today would be around $30,000.

Not everyone acquiesced.  Reported slave rebellions and insurrections took place all over North America. More than 250 uprisings or attempted uprisings involving ten or more slaves.  I’m sure many more went unreported.  Tiny acts of attrition.

18th century slave owners bragged how well treated and content their slaves were, but life for the enslaved African living in the North was cruel and un-rewarding.  New York State’s slave laws were harsh and even small transgressions punished by public flogging.  The hope of freedom inspired hundreds to risk absconding.  If caught, a fugitive slave could expect punishments including amputation of limbs or death.

Runaway slave notices published in newspapers recount in detail the outer wear worn by slaves. The clothing described in these notices reflect the deprived existences they led. Style, color and material, hairstyle and type of headwear are recounted in great detail by slave masters. Most fugitive slaves ran away with only one set of clothes.  “Young mulatto girl, wearing red calico, with blue petticoat.”  Scars, missing ears, skills, behavior – insolent, plausible, bright… were all listed.

Most slaves ran away to be with their families. Some just fled, others planned carefully.  A young man from Rochester NY took off with two sheep and a beehive.  Many fugitive slaves found refuge in the woods of upstate New York. The woods not only provided cover and protection but a chance to seek Native Americans inhabiting the region. Many found shelter and safety with Native Americans and were welcomed into their tribes. Large rewards and treaty offerings for the return of runaways did not dissuade Native nations from harboring slaves.


In July 1799 the NY State Legislature enacted a partial emancipation. The law freed all children born to slave women after July 4, 1799, but only after at least two decades of forced indenture. Boys became free at age 28 and females at age 25. Until then, they were tied to the service of the mother’s master.  Children remained enslaved because slave owners were confident that parents would remain with their children. Unrestricted freedom did not come to New York’s slaves until a new emancipation law took effect 28 years later, on July 4, 1827.

The freeing, in 1827, of adult slaves led to economic havoc in the North East. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 compounded the issue and destroyed the economy of the Hudson Valley.  Meanwhile, freed slaves were left to fend for themselves.  Those with good skills were undercut by white, cheap immigrant labor beginning to flood the Hudson Valley from New York City.  The white immigrants were paid for their time and did not need to be fed, clothed and sheltered.   Some freed slaves remained as tenant farmers. Up and down the Hudson River you’ll still find names like Africa Street where freed slaves formed their own small communities.

New York City was a reluctant supporter of the Slave Holders Rebellion.  Its trading economy was heavily invested in the slave-based production of cotton.  After the Slave Holders Rebellion, New York and New Jersey were alone among northern states in not abolishing slavery.  Governor Morris and John Jay attempted to insert a clause into the founding state constitution suggesting the eventual elimination of slavery, but were rebuffed.  As New York moved to abolish slavery, amongst the counties most vociferous in their opposition and who voted, “nay” were Dutchess County.

There is white marble obelisk in Tivoli, Dutchess County at the edge of North Road. It commemorates the lives lost of local people fighting the Slave Holders Rebellion.  There is something heroic and magnificent about the title: Slave Holders Rebellion.  It perfectly articulates the ambition of that war.  And how it latterly became… the Civil War is testament to how black and brown people have had their history reframed by generations of white revisionists.  Like the First Nation people before them the domestic history of enslaved men, women, children and their brutal slave owners has been wiped away by white folk, cruel, embarrassed and afraid in equal measure.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Star Spangled Banner by Slave Owner Francis Scott Key

Slavery remains the dirty little secret of New York State.  Shared by almost every other northern state.  In the south, for good or ill, white people upholding their racism and white supremacy, proud of their slave-owning past have inadvertently kept black history alive.  The ancestors of northern slave owners do not celebrate the traditions of the land… for few white people ever worked it.  Whilst english people were ploughing and scattering black slaves were violently forced to do the same.  The history of this bucolic place, this upstate paradise, white folk keep silent… vanishing into the corn.

Alcoholics Anonymous Gay NYC politics Queer Tivoli NY

January 1 2017


It’s been some time since I turned my back on this blog.  I rather ostentatiously announced that I would never blog again.   But it’s been a tumultuous year inter personally and internationally.   Not a great year to ignore.   The most important reason for not blogging?

Last year I met someone I have grown to respect tremendously, even though in the peripheral vision of the public eye he is perhaps one of the most private people I’ve ever called a friend.  He has become one of those closest to me.  In its former incarnation my blog had become a risky means to communicate my triumphs, failures and frustrations.  Those around me felt uncomfortable, aware they could end up in this personal blog at the mercy of my public point of view.

The closer I became to my friend, the more I grew to love his gentle disposition, his trust and generosity.  I did not want to endanger our friendship nor cause him or his family anxiety.   I stopped writing.  This week I mentioned to him why I had stopped writing my blog and how I might start writing again.  He was very supportive.


I am an oaf.  The older I get the more clumsy I become.  Some people become physically inept.  I’ve become mentally less agile.  Tripping over myself when I get excited.  Wading through molasses when I get tired.   Writing this blog every day kept me alert.

There’s a red squirrel living in the barn, aggressively defending the ancient black walnut tree.  He’s not at all like a British red squirrel.  He’s more like a stoat.  He spent the autumn collecting walnuts, filling a cavity at the base of the tree with his foraging.   He sits peeling walnuts, industriously creating a midden beneath him.   When I don’t see him I worry the barn cat ate him. I hadn’t seen him for a week after the heavy snow but today he was back on his branch.  His fluffy tail and chattering warning off the grey squirrels who, even though they are thrice his size, run from him when he spies them stealing his stash.

The Little Dog is getting old.  He sleeps more.  His soft jowl is grey.  He has fatty lumps forming on his chest.  He loves a long walk and streaks ahead of me and Dude.  He must be 12-year-old.  Maybe.  I’ve no idea how old he was when we found him at the rescue.

I don’t have a TV.  It keeps me from the worst of the news cycle.  Twitter and Facebook keep me up to date.  The second screen.  Bloody hell.  I’m addicted to that thing.  I’ve tried hard to not look.  Tried an app that tells me how many hours a day I spend engaging with it.  Shocking.  My head down like a pious monk looking at the little screen.


Last Easter Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich stayed here with me in Tivoli. They’ve bought a very scruffy farm in Poughkeepsie.  They are vegans. They eat tapioca for breakfast. I’ve never known two people to bicker as often as they do.  We went for long walks.  Dennis says, “You realise Trump is going to be our next president?  He’s going to win.” At lunch he repeated his assertion.  My nice white, affluent friends smile knowingly.  Crazy Dennis Kucinich.  They didn’t believe him, I didn’t want to believe him.  A few weeks later the two gay men who live opposite this house put up a Trump/Pence sign on their lawn and… I knew Dennis was right.  President Trump was inevitable.

There were many dinners and lunches prepared on North Road this year.  It seemed to irritate my nice friends whenever I cautioned a Trump presidency.  “Only angry white men will vote for him.” they said.  They assured me there weren’t enough angry white men to defeat the women and the people of color Trump had offended.

They think I am an angry white man.

Trump won the primary.  The establishment attempted to shame him with crude tape recordings, unseen tax bills, the stories of unpaid artisans.

I felt isolated every time I repeated my assertion.  How could I be so sure?  “Do you have a degree in political science?”   I was asked by an affluent gay man peering at me suspiciously.  “No, I listen.”  I said. “I listen to people far away from the shrill, gay echo chamber.  I sit with AA people.  Local working people, the kind of people who plough your drive or file documents in the local hospital or work in the probation department… the kind of people sophisticated city folk never engage.  They love Trump.”

The AA folk I met all over the state confirmed my suspicion that things were not as the pollsters claimed.  The double-digit Clinton lead.  The hyperbole.  In hind sight the polls now seem like establishment propaganda.

On the TV despondent hacks wondered why every time Trump made a gaffe or said something untoward his ratings soared.  Upstate, men and women of all ages had already decided Trump was their guy.  They did not care about pussy grabbing.  Ruth said, “He can grab my pussy.”  They did not care about Trump’s debate performance or his racism.  The language Trump used… they could understand.  I heard their roar of approval echo over the mountains and into the valley every time Trump shat all over the politically correct.

My nice liberal friends were too busy believing in Clinton’s invincibility.  They refused to listen to anything other than hollow reassurance from other liberals that a Trump presidency was totally impossible.

Some polls, discredited by the establishment, indicated Bernie Sanders was the only Democrat in the race who could comfortably beat Donald Trump.  My nice white friends scoffed.  “We don’t want a Bernie revolution.” Amy said.

“When Trump’s elected you’ll wish it was Bernie’s revolution rather than Trump’s.”  I replied.

Consternation at the dinner table.  “Trump isn’t going to win,” they said.  “He can’t win.” What seemed evident to me became increasingly absurd to others.  The choice was obvious:  It was either Sander’s revolution or Trump’s.  Revolution was what the people craved.

Hillary Clinton won the Democratic presidential nomination.  They kicked Bernie to the curb, unwilling to work with him.  Clinton’s affable, dull running mate (whose name I’ve forgotten) made no impression on the nation and Pence effortlessly destroyed him during the vice presidential debate.

The affluent white people I know in New York City have become complacent, deaf to the pleas and need of the rest of the nation.  Whilst my city friends were slightly inconvenienced by the banking crisis, the working poor suffered real consequences: they lost their homes, their jobs and their dreams.  They foolishly believed affable President Obama would help them, but Obama ignored the opiate epidemic claiming the lives of desperate Americans, he ignored the many suicides of hopeless young men.  Whilst we were applauding Obama’s inclusive rhetoric, cheering his trans toilet initiative.  A black president honoring the trans community…  I heard a different story from my local white friends of all ages, smoking cigarettes after the AA meeting.   They recoiled from the trans toilet debate… unable to register their disdain for fear of PC retribution.

Meanwhile Robby Mook, Clinton’s gay campaign manager, deliberately chose to spurn the votes of the working poor and went after the soft Republican vote believing them more educated and therefore outraged by Trump’s racism and misogyny.  It was a catastrophic decision.  Mook’s strategy was informed by the ringing lies he heard in the pink echo chamber.  The same hall of whispers I am privy to.  They said, Clinton will win because Trump is a clown.  I was getting blocked on Facebook for pleading with people to get ready for President Trump.  Empirical evidence rather than scientific opinion.  I was listening to my AA friends.  I was looking at the Trump/Pence signs sprouting up all over New York state.

The gays alienated themselves from anyone who didn’t think like them or look like them or agree with their blind devotion to Clinton.  The merest questioning of her integrity was perceived as heresy.  The more they blocked me the more I realised just how hopeless those people would be the morning after the election.

I was invited to an upstate ‘Pink Belt’  gay pool party.  The hosts and guests were short, buff and white.   In spite of my fear of mediocrity I had a very pleasant time.  The short white host saw me out.  I mentioned my fear of gay pool parties as I thanked him for inviting me.  “Don’t worry,” he smiled “I’m out of shape too.”   I paused and looked into his big blue eyes.  

The gays sneer at the working poor who vote against their own interests… forgetting the working poor have no interests.  They have no Obama Care, they have no home to call their own.  They limp from one bill to another, doing their best, never daring to dream.  Trapped by debt, obesity, addiction and religion.  The working poor do not have ‘interests’ to vote against nor common cause.  They were angry, raw and unrepresented whilst Obama touted gender neutral bathrooms.

Where was the change they could believe in?  Where was the change we could all believe in?

In the early hours of the morning November 9th 2016 I was on a late train from Grand Central Station to Poughkeepsie NY.  There was a middle-aged woman wearing an ‘I’m With Her’ baseball cap.  She had been at the Javitz Convention Center waiting for Hillary’s victory speech. She sat on the train weeping.  Her face wet with tears.  The conductor asked if she was ok.  She railed against Trump.  The conductor said, “Oh dear, things are going to work out just fine.” Young people started laughing, jeering at her.  Trump supporters.  She sobbed inconsolably.  The mob sneered at Obama even though many had voted for him.  They were excited, they were excited for a new American dawn.

Hillary Clinton beat Robby Mook on his chest with both her fists when she realised she had lost the race.

In the UK the Brexit referendum happened earlier in 2016.  My Mother and Brother voted to leave the EU.  Leave won the popular vote.  Hate crimes became a daily occurrence.  I felt sad and shocked.  England shrank before my eyes.  The sickening thud of jack boots on the streets, austerity leading inevitably to the solutions of the anti-establishment right-wing. I lamented our decision.  Others came to their senses too late, wishing their protest vote hadn’t had such an impact.

All over the world people are shaking the tree, expecting it to afford them cover.

Ori posted a picture on Instagram.   A dinner with friends the night after the 2016 presidential election.  10 white, identical looking gay men in their thirties… commiserating.  ‘This is why we lost the election’ I wrote beneath the picture. ’10 white gay men believed Clinton would win because they repeated wishes as if they were facts.’  He blocked me.  Nobody wants to believe that they are part of the problem. 

In the aftermath of the presidential election Hillary Clinton vanished into the woods of Chappaqua.  The rich got richer. Those friends who scorned my prediction were gracious enough to acknowledge I was right.  But what of it?   Clinton supporters are still unable to grasp what is happening, they blame the Russians, they blame Wikileaks,  they blame the electoral college, they blame the polls, Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders… they blame everyone but Clinton.   Their fury is palpable.  Their distress acute.

We wait for January 20th.