While few of us would think to ridicule Jews for still harboring less than warm feelings for Germans some 70 years after the liberation of the concentration camps—we would understand the lack of trust, the wariness, even the anger—we apparently find it hard to understand the same historically embedded logic of black trepidation and contempt for law enforcement in the USA.
Revealed, these past weeks, for the world to see: America’s racist underbelly. News stories narrated by dumb white folk, binging unashamedly on their justified racism. The condescending white news anchor asks a black man to explain his fear of the police… then scoffs at his reply. Others crudely condemn the dead black men “He was no angel.” “His parents were known to the police.” “He was resisting arrest.” The same ‘news’ shows use the millions of crowd sourced dollars raised for the white murderer as proof, as if any were needed, that Darren Wilson and men like him are: “Innocent until proven guilty.” “The grand jury proved there was no case to answer.” “Let him get on with his life.”
The KKK leave cruel and hateful messages wherever they can all over social media, proudly letting the world know: ‘a good nigger is a dead nigger’. Black men doubly assassinated, in life and death… white supremacists proudly spew vitriol over the bodies of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner.
They demand, “This isn’t about race.” “Why do you bring race into this?”
White folk have no incentive to let go of their white power, their white privilege, their sense of superiority… their entitlement. White people remind you with their slippery smiles that slavery was abolished in 1865. “It’s up to the blacks to help themselves.” “If we weren’t killing them, they’d be killing each other.” “They have the same opportunities as everyone else.”
Every Mexican, working illegally in California, is a slave. White people loathe manual labor. White people love slaves. Everybody needs a slave in SoCal. The fruit growers would have nobody to harvest fruit without Mexican slaves. Slaves stand outside Home Depot offering themselves for hard labor. Mexican slaves mow my lawn, scrub my hot tub. Slaves clear brush in the Santa Monica Mountains under the midday sun.
Serried ranks of plump Mexican women smelling of disinfectant and carbolic soap clean house, serve slim, white wives their afternoon mint tea. There are thousands of them! Thousands of enslaved, undocumented maids.
Have you ever seen a white person use a mop, hand wash dishes or polish a crystal glass? Have you ever watched a white person try removing a stain from a carpet? Have you noticed how inept white people are? They don’t know how to look after their own stuff.
“Do you know how to remove a stain from a carpet? When your dog pees on your rug?”
He shrugs, “Mexican people know how to do that. I don’t need to know.”
Those Mexican slave women used to be black slave women.
Last week President Obama liberated 5 million slaves by giving them the opportunity to ‘come out of the shadows’. Watch the white elected officials in Congress and the Senate balk. Their fat, pink cheeks huffing and puffing indignantly at the partial liberation of more slaves.
Without slaves the USA ceases to function. The USA is addicted to slavery. The USA was built on hard work… the hard work of unpaid black slaves. Conveniently written out of white history. California’s false economy is carried on the backs of Mexican slaves.
When the black slaves were freed the white folk wanted them to go back to Africa. “The slaves are free… free to go home.”
Those black folk who thought they were equal to white folk were outlawed, harassed. If they had entrepreneurial ambitions they were made to think again. When they opened stores on main street, their stores were looted by white folk whilst the police watched… and did nothing.
There was no opportunity given to black people which could not be taken away.
A black face reminds America’s of its not so distant violent racist past (black neighborhoods were being bombed and burned in Boston and Chicago by white police as recently as 1970). To liberal white people a black face remains a shameful embarrassment: liberals never did enough for black people. Liberals turned from the thorny problem of race to an easy fix: marriage equality.
White people who claim to hate racism are privately racist. Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin at Sony Pictures are revealed to be private racists… when this is discovered from hacked emails they call Jesses Jackson so assuage their guilt. They publicly call prominent black people to apologize for being private racists… but they merely confirm what we already know: white liberals say one thing then do another when they think they can’t be seen or heard.
For the dogged racists a black face reminds them of an unfinished problem… a problem they tackle every 18 hours when another black man is murdered by the police. Shortly after the shots are fired, the body transported to the morgue… the excuses begin, the character of the dead black man maligned, the Grand Jury is called and the murder justified… forgotten.
Did it seem this time… after Eric Garner’s Grand Jury refused to indict… fewer people agreed with the decision… or made excuses for the police? Was it my imagination that after the whole world watched the video of Eric Garner’s murder a million times on TV and the internet that people who might have before… did not want to forget. In fact they cared a great deal for murdered Eric, his dignified widow and their forgiving daughters.
When the people watch the unnecessary take down and murder of Eric Garner for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes on the streets on New York they are forced to acknowledge 350 years of racism: state sanctioned torture, murder, rape, abuse, theft…
The people (all ethnicities) began to drag themselves out of apathy and onto the same streets. The people saw a black man bullied to death and none of the usual excuses from the police or the mayor or the kkk were very convincing. The people saw Eric Garner bullied and murdered by the police in a country where the police are meant to protect the people from bullies and murderers!
Fear underpins the systematic oppression of America’s black minority.
This week people understood that the criminal justice system isn’t broken, that police brutality, secret and corrupt grand juries, the deliberate disenfranchising of black men and the unreported/undocumented incidence of murder by police force… is not evidence of a broken system but the system functioning exactly the way it was designed.
Did you know that once convicted, in many states (11 southern states) a felon is never allowed to vote again… ever. Why don’t you know that? Most people don’t. When a black man is convicted of a felony in 11 southern states he is never allowed to vote again. He is excluded from the democratic process. How many black felons did you tell me presently reside in jail and prison? How many of them are working for free (cotton picking, uniform stitching) in American jails and prisons?
America’s untreated racist wound stinks like Michael Brown’s uncovered, bloated corpse on a humid Ferguson street… and no amount of Fox News deodorant will take away the stench.
Did you know, that until modest changes were made to the selection process, people of color were excluded from the Grand Jury? Those modest and unenforceable protocol changes were made within the last few years.
They say, the secretive Grand Jury was originally conceived to weed out malicious prosecutions. That’s just a big fat lie. The Grand Jury is now as it always was… a secret court used by the police and police friendly prosecutors to help crooked cops out of difficult situations so they can continue waging war against the black minority.
The cop’s unwritten law of the street: all black faces are fair game.
The Grand Jury is unknown anywhere else in the world. It works so effectively because there’s no one in the room defending the victim. In the case of Darren Wilson he was presented as the victim by the prosecutor rather than Michael Brown and this wholly spurious narrative persists.
Criticize racists and the police at your peril.
The police say they have been ‘thrown under a bus’ by Bill de Blasio, Mayor of NYC because Mayor de Blasio told the world he advised his black son Dante: should he ever have occasion to be stopped by the police, Dante should be very polite, not reach for his cell phone or make any other sudden movement. Dante should assume, like all black young men stopped by the police, that at any moment the police may kill him.
The following day white, bull necked cops feign indignation. They know they’ve been rumbled, their credibility smashed to pieces. They’ll have to do what bullies hate having to do: next time they’ll have to think twice.
Bill de Blasio has been warned by the police union not to attend Police funerals killed in the line of duty. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association posted a link on its website telling members not to let de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito “insult their sacrifice” should they be killed. The union posted a “Don’t Insult My Sacrifice” waiver officers can sign requesting the two politicians not attend their funerals due to their “consistent refusal to show police officers the support and respect they deserve.”
Good cop? Bad cop?
Are there any good cops? There’s no incentive to be a good cop. The good guys are weeded out. It’s a tough time to be a good cop. Crime figures diminishing, the police have to justify their huge organization, their overtime. They say policing is a dangerous job. How dangerous? Policemen are not all killed by criminals, 30% are killed in road traffic accidents… the police are too arrogant to wear seat belts.
Whilst men like Eric are being harassed and murdered on the streets of New York for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes by police thugs, a couple of miles away in another part of the same city the most audacious crimes this century go unpunished. Wall Street steals a world of wealth and gets away with it. They say white-collar crime is too sophisticated for most regular cops to grasp.
The cops protect the rich, protect the 1%… as it turns out they’re protecting them from us… from you and me.
Cops are used to raise revenue for local government, make politically motivated arrests, used by the rich to silence and poleax their enemies. Cops illegally hold undocumented workers without opportunity to post bail then deport them after lengthy stays in private jails. I’ve met undocumented workers who were introduced to their mule (a mule illegally smuggles an undocumented worker back into the USA) by the same border patrol guy who originally arrested and deported them.
The cops take their cut, trafficking slaves.
The conspiracy theorists I scoffed at 10 years ago… well, they got it right.
The jails are kept artificially full to justify more cops. The artificial wars on drugs and terror are in fact… a war on us.
There is a profound connection between criminality abroad and criminality at home. The so-called “war on terror” and military aggression abroad are linked to repression within the United States. The drive by the American ruling class to build up the infrastructure of a police state is in preparation for the inevitable confrontation with the working class. This is what lies behind the unprecedented levels of domestic spying, the assault on basic democratic rights, the CIA’s trampling on legality and the Constitution, the militarization of law enforcement and the ongoing police rampage against working class youth.
The Hollywood street performer shot in the head by the police, the Down’s syndrome kid choked to death by the police, the homeless woman repeatedly punched in the head by the police, the deaf guy trying to sign tasered by the police, the countless murders committed by the police remain uncounted.
A pattern emerges, you better be a healthy, able-bodied white male to survive the streets of now USA. You better not be black or disabled or deaf or performing or homeless. You better blend in, become invisible, forget any aspirations you might have to be extraordinary.
White Americans may protest that our racial problems are not like South Africa’s. No, but the United States incarcerated a higher proportion of blacks than apartheid South Africa did. In America, the black-white wealth gap today is greater than it was in South Africa in 1970 at the peak of apartheid.
America: it is still a nation of slaves and slave owners. The system that perpetuates this must be deconstructed and if you are white that deconstruction starts with you… asking yourself this question: am I willing to give up my slaves? My white power? My white privilege? My unfair advantages? Am I willing to acknowledge that implicitly and explicitly I colluded with the historical suppression, bullying, false imprisonment and murder of a minority?
My gay friends believe that winning human rights for black people will be as polite as winning human rights for gay people. They think it’s THE SAME.
There must have been a moment in 1945 after the American’s liberated the concentration camps, when the German people were forced by the allied forces to watch news reels of what was found there… there must have been a moment when the German people collectively owned up. A moment when they realized what they had done. I’m waiting for white people in the USA to own their part, their collusion with a system that murders, brutalized and demeans a minority… then blames them when they complain.
It never really occurred to me until yesterday that the mass murder and incarceration of black men in the USA is deliberate, systemic, entrenched and unlikely to change until white men learn to share their power.
I bought my first house when I was 20 years old. Remember that cottage? 13 Island Wall, Whitstable. 15 years later I sold it and bought Peter Cushing’s house and the house beside it. 2 and 3 Seaway Cottages, Wavecrest. That was a pretty address. I sold them both and moved to California. 2828 Hume Road, Malibu. Now, it’s time to head east. It’s Time.
I sold my house. Goodbye Malibu. I hope the new owners are happy here. It has been quite a ride up (and down) this mountain… literally and figuratively. This is where I buried my dog and this is where I will leave her. This is where the twins lived, this is the location of many spectacular parties, lovers and probably the worst decision I made in my life… to reply to Jake. But there you go, it’s sold now. The furniture has been packed, the art wrapped and stowed in boxes. I am relieved.
I am only a few months away from having the gagging order lifted so I get to tell my side of the story… how another rich man used the police and the prosecutor to hide the truth.
Provincetown/NYC June/July 2014
They had the complexion of wealth, that white complexion that is heightened by the pallor of porcelain, the sheen of satin, the luster of fine furniture, and is kept in perfect condition by a moderate diet of exquisite foods. Those who were beginning to age seemed youthful, while those who were young had a certain look of maturity. Their faces wore that placid expression which comes from the daily gratification of the passions; and beneath their polished manners one could sense the special brutality that comes from half-easy triumphs which test one’s strength and flatter one’s vanity.
It’s a hot and humid morning in NYC. Tompkins Square Park is dripping. The dog walkers are melting.
We drove from Provincetown yesterday, leaving the pretty streets, the clapboard houses and verdant gardens to Bear Week. Thousands of large, hairy shouldered men smiling and engaging not scowling or isolating like the circuit boys who infested the town two weeks previously during the 4th July celebration.
The past six weeks in Provincetown were, on the whole, a great deal of fun. I met a huge assortment of extraordinary and not so extraordinary people. I saw people I knew from LA and NYC. I met men and women from DC, Nashville and Florida. Mostly enjoying their week off, some of them… not so much. Americans get so few vacations.
The A gays who live in Provincetown were kind and considerate. They have beautiful homes and make them readily available to those they trust.
The extraordinary designer Ken Fulk has restored a perfect gem of a house in The East End where I was privileged to spend the 4th July and then see photographed by famed society doyenne Douglas Friedman for Elle Decor. Editor Robert Ruffino scampering around arranging flowers wearing his Florentine winkle pickers.
The walls are the color of raspberry mousse, the windows frames and architrave painted chocolate-brown.
My birthday dinner: an anonymous donor very kindly paid for.
I really didn’t know anyone very well at my party, except Michael Goff and Michael Cunningham. So when it came to making my speech, after the candle was snuffed, I said: “I don’t know any of you at all… but this delightful group of strangers came together to celebrate the birthday of another stranger… and with such magnanimity it brings tears to my eyes.”
The following day I told someone from the party that I had no intention of making friends with him beyond Provincetown because our friendship could only flourish on the Cape. He looked a little perplexed but one has to be realistic. When we return to the city a tsunami of gay gossip will drown the truth and ones expectations will be dashed.
The utterly adorable Michael Cunningham (who I had known previously through Amelia Rizo) made a necklace for my birthday. We sat in his exquisitely decorated water front home, surrounded by magnificent art, picking out trinkets for a silver chain. I had a moment of unrestrained excitement as I realized that a Pulitzer Prize winning author, writer of The Hours, was making me a birthday present with his bare hands. He continued, throughout my stay, to delight and engage. We discussed Emma Bovary. We… of a certain age, share the same literary starting blocks… but he won the race.
We talked about Neil Bartlett‘s beautiful book Who Was That Man. Required reading for any young gay.
There were many occasions these past weeks when I noticed how relaxed I was, at peace, living in my own body, inhabiting the life I have rather than the life I thought I wanted. There were, of course, other occasions when a face from the past popped into view and caused momentary consternation. The vile, blond publicist/image consultant, owner of Black Frame Brian Phillips who, wether he likes it or not, is in my social orbit but never bothers to be cordial. Or the ex boyfriend Chris Shipman who cycled around town with his thin calves and sad eyes. I ignored the ex and engaged with fey Brian Phillips who sat in his chair as I forcefully reminded him what an evil cunt he can be and how he seems unable to keep and love another man due to his crippling narcissism.
I met Jim Lande, producer of the hit burlesque/freak show Audition and talked about his flawed film: Love is Strange directed by Ira Sachs. Shown at The Provincetown Film Festival this beautifully shot and directed film promises so much but fails to deliver… relying on coincidence and melodrama. The film lacks any real emotion. Two old gay married men separated by circumstance and bad choices. Could have been brilliant but… wasn’t.
I kept away from the drag shows and the theatrical events but I saw Ryan Landry‘s inventive and surreal Pantomime: Snow White and The Seven Bottoms which reminded me of Charles Ludlam. Go see this if you can.
I spent a great deal of time chatting with the adorable Andrew Sullivan and his husband Aaron Tone. The gays, on the whole, are openly hostile to Andrew, they accuse him of being a ‘traitor to the gays’ because he aggressively posits an alternative view. Our politics couldn’t be more different yet we agreed about so much, mainly our loathing of powerful lobby groups like AIPAC, GLAAD and the HRC. I found him to be gracious and engaging.
Andrew told fascinating stories about his private dinners with President Obama, his short-lived stay in NYC, the history of his three-legged dog. We sat outside The Wired Puppy coffee shop on Commercial Street where I witnessed at first hand the disdain the gays show him and the delight straight people have… in equal measure.
The white gays may never understand his POV because by now they think they rule the world.
I spent time with Michael Goff and Andy Towle in town to promote their site towleroad.com, we greeted the first of the bears at the dock with 20 drag Goldilocks who boasted that they had eaten all the porridge. We sat in their charming house and ate whatever they had in their fridge. We took my friend Caroline Reid to a Bear-B-Q, Caroline is cult performer PamAnn. We took her to more bear events where she was the only woman. Her fans adore her.
And that was that. There were other amusing people to play with who I haven’t mentioned. There were less amusing people who I hope I never see again.
Thanks Provincetown and… adieu.
Brooklyn Family 2014
Random Landscapes USA 2014
I felt both overwhelmed and liberated in 2013. Simultaneously.
I spent the past few hours un-subscribing from 100 mailing lists from whom I receive emails begging for money. All perfectly decent causes, gun control, black theatre, saving the ocean, climate control, Unicef, the world wildlife fund, democratic causes, mercy for animals, slow money…
I un-subscribed from cook shops, travel companies, furniture stores and fashion lines. I spent a few moments each day erasing my name from the lists I added myself in the hope of being better informed, no more Gawker or Huffington Post or the Daily Beast.
It was an odd year. It was unusually diverse. I continued writing my film tho I stopped talking about it. I met thieving producers and film industry liars. I spent time with weed smoking Susan Sarandon in the back of her ping-pong club.
Away from the film I travelled to Martha’s Vineyard, to Des Moines and over the Rocky Mountains. I travelled by car all over America. Los Angeles to New York and back again… three times. I was constantly surprised by American kindness whenever I found it.
I fell in and out of love with AA. In and out of love with the gays tho… mostly out of love.
We are presently finalizing our divorce.
During the past months I began a strange adventure with a young man who I tentatively call my boy friend. I began to dream again… of better things… even though I am still cautious and burned. Erring toward single at all times.
I wrote a great deal but never published a word of it.
I wrote indignant things like this…
I am queer. They are gay. They are white and affluent. They want to get married and join the army. They want to assimilate. That’s what they say.
When you question them… when you ask them what assimilation looks like… they still want to keep gay pride, gay bars, gay apps, gay film festivals, gay morality.
They want the gay section in the bookshop, the ‘gay voice’ section in The Huffington Post. They don’t really understand what assimilation looks like because most of them are too comfy not assimilating.
He said, “This is all about your internalized homophobia.” I smiled. “It’s not internalized, it’s externalized.”
One can devote ones life to betrayal. Betrayed by parents, family members, institutions, schools, by loved ones even the country of ones origin. I have felt a smidgen from all of the above. Yet, I forgave my family, my school, the class system, my beloved country.
Because I wanted to be free.
I huffed and puffed about the NSA, I applauded Glen Greenwald and Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowdon. I stopped worrying about who could read whatever I was writing privately or which ever websites I was wacking to because there is nothing private. Not any more.
I met literary heroes on Fire Island like Andy Tobias and had breakfast with John Walters, I spent sultry nights on Cape Cod. I started Anger Management classes and enjoy them tremendously.
My counsellor asks things like, “Where in your body to you feel the anger first?”
I began to identify the genesis of my anger and feelings of uncomfortability. It usually starts with a demand for money from a worthy cause. A picture or video of a screaming rabbit as it is having it’s fur pulled off or a pile of euthanized dogs waiting to be incinerated.
It was the hopelessness that infuriated me, the cruelty, the stupidity, the hypocrisy.
I came to conclusions in 2013. That I do not, have never had, am not interested in… A CAREER! Careers, I realized, are… for other people. For those who may be interested in a legacy. I stopped calling myself a film maker and started telling people, if they asked, that I do… nothing.
I understood that wherever I found myself both good or bad I was meant to be. It was all for a reason. A reason that would one day be revealed to me. That my life was a series of choreographed moments. The life of a narcissist. That the cameras I learned to love whilst in the reality show had always been there and had never gone away.
In 2013 I never gave up. I waited patiently. I didn’t worry about the future nor was I enslaved to the past. For this I was grateful.
Occasionally I hankered to go home but knew that after a few days in Whitstable I would find my life shrinking and darkening. I did not go home. Though, I spoke more to my Mother this year and was curious about my nieces and nephews.
Finally the JB entanglement came to an end one nondescript day in November. I wanted to write to him and make amends for the mess I had caused.
But I wrote this instead… it was never sent.
An apology is owed.
I was wrong to lie to you. I was wrong to lose my temper. I was wrong to fight you. I was wrong to have asked for money to be paid when you owed me nothing. I was wrong to have blamed you for any part of our unhealthy association. The blame must fall squarely at my feet for everything that went wrong. The moment you came out I should have politely walked way… I did not. I was advised by everyone I knew and cared about… to walk away from you but chose to ignore their good suggestion. I should have thanked you and walked away. I regret very much that I did not. I am extremely remorseful. Due to my weakness of character I initiated a drama that harmed you and caused distress to your family. I should have walked away. The moment you told me you were gay. I know that you are happy now. I know that your happiness will continue.
It took two years to own up.
2013. Un-subscribing to websites, making amends, keeping my side of the street clean, owning up, anger management.
Let’s see what 2014 will bring.
As the years pass by, unrelenting, amazing, fulfilling, desperate, happy, sad.
Even though I have filled my homes with art and furniture and friends and the lingering smells of delicious feasts… even though I have made films and plays and paintings…. all I have ever wanted, really craved… was peace of mind.
I’m getting there. Slowly. A Happy and Prosperous New Year everyone.
New Museum/Mercer Hotel 2013