Road Trip: LA to NYC and Back Again.
I’m trying to write everything down but somehow the past few weeks have blurred into one long delicious adventure.
NYC and back again in the car.
Let me remember.
I drove east through death valley and this was the temperature:
I drove through Utah during the day which was very wise. Utah is very beautiful. Devastatingly beautiful.
You see. I can’t find the words.
I stopped in Des Moines and enjoyed the state building and the wonderful contemporary sculpture park given to the community by John and Mary Pappajohn, a Des Moines venture capitalist and his wife.
I met a young hair dresser with blue hair.
I stopped in Chicago and met a huge football player.
I spent the 4th July in Chicago. The Fireworks terrified Dude, my little brown dog.
I arrived in NYC. Just in time for the horrible heat wave.
It was so hot I had to leave the dogs inside the apartment during the day or risk them dying of heat exhaustion.
I sat uncomfortably in AA meetings.
I stayed on the upper west side. A block from Central Park.
We walked every day off leash at dawn around the Great Lawn. We saw beautiful young men exercising. We, being me and the dogs.
I explored Red Hook and saw a band at Dustin Yellin‘s place called Guerilla Toss.
I met a beautiful man in the street and kissed him.
Why was I there?
I had gone east to reclaim my gayness after months of feeling like an ex-gay. Hanging onto the word queer as the only way to describe my isolation from the gays.
I spent my birthday at the cloisters with Richy.
I read from my blog at a Lower East Side gallery and they paid me for doing so.
I met more interesting people on the street.
I helped a friend edit his movie.
Then, unable to stand the searing heat a moment longer, I drove to Sayville taking the first ferry to Fire Island. The Pines.
I rented a small house on Cedar Walk but didn’t spend any time there at all.
From the moment I arrived I had one extraordinary experience after another.
I met cool people, and coveted their things.
I was invited into their homes and onto their yachts, I met their friends and ate their food. I returned their hospitality by paying for them as and when they would let me.
I walked to Cherry Grove where I had breakfast with John Walters.
I had dinner with Andy Tobias…
… in my favorite Fire Island Pines home.
I met a gang of charming gay men from NYC who were kind and considerate.
I spent time with all of them in the city once I returned.
This one is called Jon.
As I let myself fall into the gay Fire Island days I began to remember how much fun being gay is. Even if I was sober and a little bit older.
I walked the beach.
I had a huge old man crush on this beautiful boy:
Who worked here:
I saw Justin Bond.
I looked in at the house where we lived for so many years.
And I met more men.
I spent time on my own. I found an abandoned cock ring on the board walk.
I walked miles of boardwalks with the dogs who came home covered in tiny ticks.
I finally met a beautiful man who left for India but lives in Paris who stole my head/heart.
I was so god damned happy.
The morning after the Pines Party I prepared to leave.
After ten days I took the ferry, then another ferry to Provincetown.
I rented a small apartment on the beach and met more men.
I hung with my friend Benoit Denizet Lewis but the sparkle that used to exist between us has gone.
We explored the graveyard. We found Norman Mailer’s grave and a pretty headstone with a small dog carved into it.
I ate a great deal but didn’t put on any weight as I walked so many miles every day.
I found this beautiful ceramic mirror frame:
I met more men.
Eventually I drove back to New York and stayed with friends. This is their view:
I partied with Jeremy Kost…
…and his friend.
I had dinner with Dan at Mary’s Fish Camp.
I had dinner with Thom at my club on the roof by the pool:
I wore this chic watch:
We worked on my film.
Then, after another week in the city I took the car all the way home again.
I met a hitch hiker who travelled all the way to California. His name is Albert.
I stayed in The Lincoln Hotel in Chicago.
I stayed in Denver.
I stayed in Utah.
We drove from Cedar City to LA in half a day.
We drove up the mountain in Malibu, up the drive and finally slept in our own bed.
It has been misty and cool.
Fire Island Pines 2
Happy Birthday to Me
Amanda Demme at Obsolete
The days are long, hot and sultry.
After the NYC winter the Californian sun seems unrelenting. One glorious day folding like melting fudge into the next.
91 degrees today. A rare winter storm this weekend. That’s what they say.
My Russian friend makes thick black, sweet coffee. We sit on her verandah overlooking the sea. The dogs lay on their backs in the sun.
Anthony calls and talks my ear off. His brother is in NYC with Amelia enjoying his birthday.
A 5 year old boy shoots his 2 year old sister with a gun recently purchased for him by his father. I find a website devoted to pictures of white children/babies holding firearms. It reminds me of Somalian and Iranian militia children holding semi automatic weapons.
Here it is: Kids With Guns. I just checked and unsurprisingly ‘kids corner’ has been removed since yesterday.
These people, so it seems, are waiting for the government to come and change their lives irrevocably.
Part of me sympathises with those folk. The high minded elite looking down upon them scornfully.
At 8pm I take the car into Venice and meet Anthony at a gallery called Obsolete. Amanda Demme’s vernisage.
There are large, moody photographs of old men and young children and homeless people and people of colour.
The rather beautiful photographs are printed on textured paper. Like canvas. It is distracting and tacky. It’s a problem.
We eat meatballs and salad and fresh almonds.
A tribe of scarified women in their 60’s huddle on a $100k sofa and gossip. Their surgeries performed to be seen. What’s the point of spending that much money on plastic surgery unless you can see it?
Amanda introduces me to Sara Gilbert and her other. Many people are wearing hats. Wide brims. Beaver rather than rabbit.
I am wearing a midnight blue velvet suit and red shoes.
A young actor greets me with a hug. He asks me in that way what I’ve been up to. He knows. I tell him anyway. “I read about that.” He exclaims. “You’re the real deal.” That’s the difference between the gays and the straights.
Straight people know I’m a fucking hero. The gays, huddled around teacher are fucking terrified of me.
And so they should be.
Outside we meet Joaquin Phoenix. Anthony made a film with him. I have not seen him since before Heath died. A flicker of recognition but no more. He looks like he is made of pale green wax. He is stick thin. He looks like a Shropshire farmer.
He said to Anthony, “I hear you’ve been making sober calls. Don’t call me.” We laugh.
After the show we have dinner at Gjelina with two art collectors. Pizza and pudding. Everybody at the table knows someone else in the restaurant. We receive. I forget to stand for one grand dame. She stares at me frostily.
I know what she’s thinking. She’s wondering if I left my manners in the jail.
NYC NYC NYC
There is a week of mayhem to report. A week of extraordinary conduct. A week of moving back east.
Connecting with AA, meeting a man on the street whose face I never tire of.
I can’t show you his face.
Only in NYC.
Then, I meet a woman who KNOWS all about my film. I mean, she knows the story like an urban myth. But it’s not a myth. It’s the sad truth.
“Oh, I know this story,” she said. Her eyes sparkling with anticipation. “I think he’s my friend on Facebook. Yes, look…” she pulls out her smart phone and there he is. I push the phone away. I shouldn’t be looking at that.
“What was he thinking?” she roars with laughter.
Women love my film. It confirms everything they think they know about men. The injustice of men.
Dead five-year olds. 20 of them.
The children are shot dead by a crazed, entitled white boy. The little bodies buried this week. Lined up against the wall and executed. You know they didn’t have a clue. You know they did as they were told.
I thought about the little dog facing the lethal injection.
A horrific pendant: ten Afghan children are splattered into the mud by a drone.
Somehow their little brown faces are missing from the media. Somehow the little white children in Connecticut are worth more.
This week has been all about mental illness and guns. The mild wet weather. The poem. The fiscal cliff. Obama. That’s PRESIDENT Obama to you.
We asked you to vote for him, now he’s letting us down all over again. Surprise, fucking surprise.
I saw a man being mugged on the 5 train. Into Manhattan, a stealthy, tall, nimble black man rips an iPhone 4s out of an asian man’s hands leaving him with his ear phones on his head. The rest of us sat amazed.
The white people urged him to call the police but he said, “I’m already late for work.”
I’m buying a parker. It’s lined with blood-red shearling. Like the monkey they found in Ikea.
Dinner in the neighborhood, dinner at the Mercer Kitchen with Courtney, dinner at the Standard Grill with Brock.
Dinner with Cristina who I have not seen for 30 years on the floor of her palatial Upper East Side home. It was as if all those 30 years just melted away. That we were friends again from last week. Funny, compelling, brilliant, beautiful Cristina.
Dinner with new gay AA friends in cheap diners.
Dinner at Mary’s Fish Camp with Benoit. We stop at Boxers (gay bar) on the way home. There’s nothing for us. Benoit peels off leaving me on the street and as I wait for the green light a handsome green eyed man says hello.
At first I wonder why. Why is this stunningly handsome 27-year-old man saying hello to me.
Then we’re in Barracuda kissing each other.
I’m wearing that huge fur hat.
I can’t kiss him any more. I can’t suck any more spit out of his mouth. I can’t look into his green eyes.
I am so overwhelmed by him I walk through the rain until I am soaked to the skin. Wondering how it happens? Wondering how it ends up like this?
All the way home I’m humming Nature Boy to myself.
In the morning my room smells of damp fur.
It Gets Better? Better Than Death?
Yesterday a pair of young film makers turned up at the apartment to work with me on their well written but unfocused script.
The man was leaving as they arrived.
They said, “Wow, he’s gorgeous. Where do you meet men like that?”
Not in clubs or bars, not grindr or Manhunt. I meet men like that as we pass in the street. He said, “You looked mean.” I am…I suppose. I do. Keep the fuck away from me.
Anyway, the film makers sat down and we talked about their script. It was revealed, during our conversation, that one of these young men had recently found out that he was HIV+.
This is the third time I have heard this story, or one like it this past month. His sex partner had not told him the truth about his HIV status before he agreed to have unsafe sex.
He had been lied to.
I was shaking with rage.
Like J risked J’s life when he was fucking HIV+ artist Pal S behind her back, like X had been lied to…these innocent folk had made bad decisions based on the lies they were told.
On each occasion the liar had tried to make it the victim’s fault.
” You shouldn’t have believed me.”
“You must have realized.”
“I can’t talk about this right now, you are complicating my life.”
“What kind of straight man doesn’t play sports?”
He is 25 years old. A young man dealing with a huge problem. He told me that he feels like he has ‘gone back into the closet’, that ‘no one could possibly love him’, that he is ‘damaged goods’.
“How do you feel about the guy who infected you?” I asked.
“He’s evil.” he replied.
“Misguided?” I suggested.
No, I told myself, not misguided. I knew he was right. Deliberately infecting or risking the lives of others…is simply evil.
My phone rang, I made a plan to see a friend the following morning.
The boys looked at me askance. What? I said. “I’ve never seen anyone make an arrangement like that on the phone. We text each other.” I felt suddenly dislocated from life. How come I didn’t know?
The kid with HIV is now at the mercy of the pharmaceutical companies who stand to take millions of dollars from him as he tries to stay healthy.
The same companies who promote their products in our gay publications… paying top dollar to do so.
Look at the pictures. Strapping, healthy boys living with HIV.
Big Pharma shaping this generations attitude toward HIV as a manageable/livable with disease… just like diabetes!
Turn your back on health education, embrace ignorance and a life shackled to Big Pharma. Enslaved at 25. My heart bled.
“I never knew anyone who died of AIDS.” he said.
When this young man was being bullied at school for being gay he may very well have been reassured by the biggest deception of all: It Gets Better. Dan Savage‘s message of false hope.
It is another gay lie.
We don’t treat each other very well. We don’t talk about not treating each other very well.
They stop bullying us…we start where they left off.
If they don’t damage you…we will…with my lies and infected sperm.
It’s not getting better for the young man I met yesterday. It’s getting a whole heap worse. Straight bullies didn’t lie and infect him with HIV. Gay men did.
Gay men lied to three of my friends…confirming that it is not just an HIV epidemic, it is an epidemic of lies, betrayal and life threatening denial.
Uneducated, shamed, arrogant, drug fucked gay men with no principles.
Just like Jake.
The only reason I have to come back to NYC so frequently is to meet Jake in court. Prolonging the inevitable.
Forced, yet again, to indulge his tantrums, his ego, his selfishness.
Without me in his life to define him as the victim…what is he left with? Without me and his appearances in court…he returns to the mundane fixtures and fittings of the life that was…if one can call it a life?
Yet, when I am here in NYC, I make the most of it. Happily wiling away the days, finishing my novel, seeing movies, hanging with my buddies, walking the dog, enjoying the humid nights tangled in your arms.
When he left this morning we both said, almost in unison, ‘I don’t do goodbyes’. I don’t. He had his bicycle over one shoulder, he didn’t look back. I can still smell him on my fingers.
I will have a shower when I get back to LA.
So, I went to court today.
If you want to know what happened email me and I will let you know.
I am not going to stop telling you how it feels to be me.
Arrived in NYC two nights ago.
Fashion week! Fashion’s Night Out tonight.
Yesterday, I had dinner with Dan at Prune. We had been to the Patagonia party at the Bowery Hotel and then ended up with new friends at Rogan. Met Greg Long.
I had a great time even though my foot aches like hell! Met Alex on the street. He said, “Are you crying?” I wasn’t crying…but I was distressed and there were huge rain drops on my cheeks that looked like tears. I was thinking about the following day. I just kept thinking how I had no desire to look at that man ever again and I knew that I had to.
Alex and I walked back up The Bowery to the Bowery Hotel, ended up at B Bar for new French label Surface to Air party. Super cool.
I love the rain. I love the streets. If my foot wasn’t so painful I would have walked home in the rain.
Breakfast today with Jenny A and Robby at the Mercer. That woman is a dream…such a dream.
You know that I got sober because of Jenny. 15 years at the end of this month. After breakfast we went to an AA meeting and I felt the love. Thank God for AA!
Spent afternoon with the most beautiful Russian at the totally revamped, gorgeous private club.
I love being here.
Jenny sat at the back of the court and was dumbfounded at the ego in the room…mine included.
She said, “Did you see that man’s suit? Even his wedding ring is cheap.”
I am here all month.
I want to tell you that it is hard work hating someone, anyone. It was hard hating my step-father. He was a bad man. He deserved what he got.