The Alcoholics Anonymous shit is the usual shit. The same characters, the same stories, the same mental illness. I sit in those rooms wondering why I’m there, if I belong to a cult? Yet, I never think about drinking. I mean, I’m not looking for an excuse to drink. That’s the very last thing I want to do.
You see, it was one of those weeks when I heard that someone in AA killed themselves. Someone I heard speak, someone I had spoken to. Someone I had lunch with, someone I had hope for. Then he blew his brains out. No obituary, no news report. Just another recovering alcoholic who couldn’t take it any more. I thought about how we collectively accept the plaudits for keeping each other sober yet when a man kills himself it was his problem. His solution. Never our responsibility. He had a six-year-old son. He dressed very well. Now he’s dead.
Since getting sober 18 years ago I have known many, many men and not so many women to kill themselves in the rooms of AA/NA. It is never easy. Yet, I have become desensitized from these terrible deaths and I hate myself for it. I’m sorry. I really am.
This week, I ate a great deal at Gjelina in Venice and these men graciously served me.
Last week I drove to San Francisco to see my friend Benoit Denizet Lewis read excerpts from his book Travels With Casey. After the reading we had dinner with Armistead Maupin and his charming boyfriend. I told Armistead that I hadn’t read his famous book Tales of the City until I got to The Men’s County Jail. I found a dog eared copy there. It was a first edition.
That night we stayed in an odd 50’s hotel/ex-motel off of trendy Chestnut Street. The following day we drove to Napa and had lunch with Gene. After lunch we wandered the giant redwoods in Muir Woods. On the way back to San Francisco we watched people flying kites on Stinson Beach.
On my way home to Los Angeles I met up with my Whitstable friend Ben Clayton in Berkeley, we ate brunch then sauntered all over the UC Berkeley campus. We talked a great deal about home. We talked about our mothers.
Back in Malibu I picked a huge bunch of bananas from the banana trees at the end of the garden, I harvested (and continue to) an abundance of figs and lemons. I sold the bananas to my friend Nicolle the pie lady at Gjelina who bruleed them.
Yesterday, I went to the Norco Rodeo with Stuart Sandford. Norco is an hour from Los Angeles. It was the whitest event I have ever been to. White people everywhere eating nachos and swilling beer. The men wore cowboy hats. The women screamed when the obedient bulls tossed their riders into the sand.
We wondered if there were other gays there. The nearest gay on-line was 3 miles away. I took pictures of cowboys. I ate tri-tip sandwiches. I was looking for bucking bronco Cody Gaines who I met the day before on Malibu beach. Cody lives in Texas. Cody loves Jesus.
Mostly I have been amusing myself in the garden. I have been sweeping paths and mending lights and restoring order. The dogs have been lazing all over the house during the day, finding patches of sunlight to flop into. At night they spend too much time protecting me from deer and raccoons. Go to sleep!
Michael came to visit from NYC. He was sweet and charming. I met the guy with a beard… and here’s a better picture of Stuart. Stuart Sandford is a very fine artist. He lives and works at the Tom of Finland House in Echo Park. My friend Martin arrived from Provincetown. He’s staying for a few days.
All in all it hasn’t been a bad month. It’s just these past few hours. I needed to sit down and write a gratitude list… and this is it. You see, I woke up today and I’m not a hounded black teen on the streets of any city USA. I’m not a hounded Palestinian in the ever shrinking patch of land they call home. I’m not a fatherless 6 year old… and lastly, I didn’t blow my brains out this week because I couldn’t take it any more… and for that I must be grateful.
Latex bondage wear ready to be washed from the dungeon at The Tom of Finland House, Echo Park.
The days are long, hot and sultry.
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.
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.