Monday, November 28, 2005

All The Alt Boys Have Whiskers, Now.

The bartender set the glasses down, a pint of Yards ESA, and a pint of club soda with three lime wedges straddling the rim. An aging hipster like me needs the water to dilute and soften my drinking now, permitting the drive home. The limes clean the thickness of hops from the tongue, between pints, and also help prevent scurvey. I survey the room while my food is prepared on the other side of the back bar. It's full as usual on a Monday. At the far end of the bar two DJ boys spin vinyl pressed decades before their births; garage-y Nuggets type obscura, Brian Eno and Can. Like many in the room, they are wearing plaid flanel and work boots.

Twelve months ago, they all were mopey and moppy, sloughing through last winter and spring clean shaven in striped polos, baggy corduroy, low slung Sevens or Diesel Jeans and lost, slightly wounded expressions. Their perpetually tousled hair was artfully sculpted into shaggy slept in rats nests buttressed by skilled application of costly pommades, purchased in enameled tins from salons with names like "Liquid" or "Entropy". Now they stand around me transformed, illuminated in the neon and thick cigarette haze which typifies Philadelphia dive bars (both the actual and those merely styled as such). The parkas, "Members Only" jackets, and skinny 80's leathers of last winter have been supplanted by pile lined wide lapeled corduroy and real or simulated shearling, cut as worn by The Marlboro Man, or Dennis Weaver as Mc Cloud on "The NBC Mystery Movie" circa 1975. Well represented in the ruby glow are blanket lined Carhart chore coats and quilted Dickies gas station attendants zip fronts. Their locks are less studied disarrays now, too. The hair is worn close cropped, not buzzed in military fashion, but a consistent #3 or #4 setting. Or alternately, grown long to chin or shoulders, Like Charles Manson or the bloated, shaggy, soon to O.D. Jim Morrison. All versions are met at the temples with beards. Those who missed the shift anxiously cultivate stubble in pursuit of the cognoscenti. The early adopters more ambitious efforts, most reaching a half or three quarter inch length are often sparse at the cheeks, like young Hassidim. The proud fortunates sport thick dense pile, fueled by a surfeit of testosterone which may ultimately accelerate balding six or eight years from now.

The hipsterss look for all the world like The Future Bears of America, part of an aestetically pleasing (to me) but also
confounding trend; the latest example of straight culture co-opting homo style. I have a hard enough time telling the gay from not the gay. Its a moot point here, I come for the beer and the music. But it is fun to while the time speculating on how these boys will fill out and ripen in a few years. The bartender set my platter down before me, and the guy on the next stool observed "Wow, that looks tasty!" Looking past him at the young men posed around the pool table, pint glasses in hand, I heartily agreed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Last year, the feast was at my Brother's sprawling ranch house in picturesque suburban New Jersey.

His Inlaws brought a chocolate turkey centerpiece, bigger than my head. Henry swung a chef's knife as guilotine, and lopped off the bird's head with one THWAK! His twin boys (from a brood of five)fought over the trophy. Then, I helped viviscect the chocolately carcass, and pass the pieces around. My Mother requested the parson's nose.

Sadly, no chocolate gibblets were found within.

I fed off the thing for most of two days, and took an additional scalp sized chunk with me for the long journey back to Philadelphia.

I finished it before we reached the station.

Friday, November 18, 2005


The first really cold weather reminded me that fall is actually here, and that I need to pick the summer clothes up off the floor and put them... somewhere else on the floor, so that I'm not constantly walking on them.

Shuffling things about I came upon my old autograph book. I'd bought the plain black bound ledger at Shea's Office Supplies more than twenty years ago, needing then to gather the various inscribed scraps, flyers, and ticket stubs I'd amassed. The final impetus and last straw was loosing a full set of Devo autographs (gleaned during the "Freedom of Choice" tour, in the first of many subsequent "get back stage by acting like you belong there" adventures). I think they were washed into a blob of paper pulp in the lint tray of Mom's Whirlpool.

It was a lot easier to do that sort of thing back then. A tiny window was open just before and in the first couple of years of MTV. Most other backwater middle school students hadn't heard of any of the bands we ventured out to see. The dinosaurs of rock ruled study hall and gym dances, soon to be joined by Big 80's Pop and hair bands. The crowd at the shows had no such interests; non-frat college students, the vaguely or purposefully artistic, and post post-hippie freaks. Richid and I were part of a small sub set of misfit latch key children. We should have been home, playing baseball, hanging out at Mc Donald's or working on the pep rally like our peers. But we were too tiny, fat, uncoordinated, bright, sissy, poorly dressed, or otherwise marginalized back in our grey and brown triple decker neighborhoods of Cranston and Southie, or in the mill workers cottages and ranch houses of Washington County. The older kids/young men and women saw early versions of their iconoclast selves nervously shuffling before them. They welcomed us, advised and watched out for us, told us where to go and what to say, and what NOT to say, as we all milled about stage doors at sound checks and again after shows.

We were fortunate. Interactions between audience and talent were relaxed and informal, not the "fan" and "star" dichotomy of today. The northeast corridor was a gateway to thriving music scenes in nearby cities, a couple of hours and low cost government subsidized Amtrak tickets away. The drinking ages had just started rising in New England, and clubs and small venues transitioning their audiences allowed all ages at most shows. It was a tiny world spinning on an axis of music, OUR music. Small town Future Homos of America like us couldn't have been luckier. We survived to age sixteen, and with drivers licenses and the borrowed green station wagon with woodgrain contact paper sides, were able to take the show further a field.

So with my old book in hand, I decided to try out my little camera's "text setting" by photographing it's pages. Here's my very first autograph, from my very first concert.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Eleventh Day, Eleventh Month

On the landing of the front staircase in my Grandfather's house hung a thickly varnished dark oak case, displaying behind the wavy glass, ribbons, medals and medallions from military campaigns and service throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. I'd extract them, and turn them over in my hand, scrutinizing the bronze faces and reading with my small pink fingers the Braille of raised letters describing Great Deeds and Sacrifices . I'd open and close finely worked clasps and pin backs and stroke the soft fuzz of fraying silk and run my nail tips along the hard gold threads of stitched leaves and striped bars. I'd make arrangement of them on the worn Turkish runner, carefully positioning them within the geometric dull madder, ochre and indigo patterns. Sometimes, I'd pin one or two to my narrow chest and descend to the speckled silver looking glass in the front parlor below, and look at the reflection of them pulling down the yarns of the imagined uniform of my sweater. They just didn't seem to fit.

Military service is an integral part of the culture of my Father's family. Every generation is well represented in the armed forces, Army and Coast Guard mostly. My father was in ROTC when he fucked both "the man" , and Grandpa's expectations, by dropping out of college in the 60's ( a quickly produced brood kept him out of Vietnam) He was an anomaly, in that and so many other things. Both of my brothers served. Grandpa patrolled Long Island Sound seeking periscopes and signs of espionage during WW II, and Great Grand Dad was a military guard in the mirrored hall at Versailles, witnessing the Armistice, and twenty seven years later stood at Mac Arthur's side as he penned the end to hostilities with Imperial Japan. Men in uniform continue all the way back through the geneology.

Smitten early with the IDEA of military life, I begged and pleaded with my parents to let me join the Cub Scouts. They were skeptical, but finally, grudgingly gave in. They spent heavily on dues and kit; my crisp blue uniform, with jaunty cap and bright yellow kerchief, a pen knife and canteen emblazoned with The Official Seal of The Cub Scouts of America, and the literature which would guide my progress up through the ranks to Eagle Scout. But I found the regimentation oppressive; I already spent hours every week wandering freely in the woods and swamps, so didn't need augmentations of death march hikes, and the meetings interfered with my miniature furniture making and comic strip drawing. So after a few months, as they had surely expected, I dropped out; an early confirmation of their low expectations. I still have the kerchief.

Years later, adrift in the unrestricted, boundary free upbringing of permissive Yankee liberalism (a pendulum swing away from the strictness of both my parents upbringings) On the bed in my room, I'd looked in the photo albums at sepia and black and white photos of my antecedent kin, in the even MORE impressive uniforms of Virginia Military Institute and The Citadel; stern high cheek boned faces, buzzed heads beneath peaked caps, panoramic views of marching formations, team pictures in tight laced pants on The Football Field of Honor. I decided I needed this kind of order, structure, and, uh, discipline in my life. Or perhaps, at the early stages of puberty, even then longed subconsciously for nights in the barracks after lights out, or the hygienic efficiency of group showers. I descended that set of stairs and approached Dad in the living room where he sat after dinner, in his hard maple rocking chair behind the curtain of the evening paper.


I chirped, cleared my throat and gained a slightly lower octave, and I hoped a more reasoned voice to add weight to my proposal;

" I think you should consider sending me to A Military Academy. I need order, structure, and, um, discipline in my life."

He didn't answer for a long moment, then let the paper drop at the fold. He inspected me, his eyes evaluating and skeptical above the top of horn rimmed eyeglasses and below elevated brows. He sighed.

"You wouldn't last a week."

He stated it flatly, and snapped the newsprint barrier back up to continued his reading in peace. I went back upstairs, flopped on the bamboo printed coverlet (selected because I thought it created a tropical mood in conjunction with the grass cloth mat and wicker peacock chair I'd bought with paper route money) and put "Bronski Beat " on the turntable.

So, though MY military career never got off the ground, I feel fortunate that there are other men and women who've managed to to pull it off. I hope that soon I will be able to thank them for acting bravely in their traditional role of protecting our great (if sometimes flawed) nation and it's people, from actual threats. In spite of the current grossly misguided deployments, I do appreciate their efforts, as much as I bemoan their waste and futilty. I simply hope that as many as possible survive untill the current maddness can be brought to an end. Thank you for your service.

To Veterans of all branches, thank you too.

Since you're no longer on active duty, I ask each of you, (that is, if you still have it)
Can I borrow your hat?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Picture This

I've been busier than usual ignoring my blog, my work, and the nightmarish disorder of my apartment this week.
After MONTHS of poverty, I've become the lucky recipient of a cash windfall. To save my corduroys from combustion, I ran over to Ritz Camera and got a teeny tiny digital camera with some of the spoils.

They've long called to me from across the disposable income divide; now I've got one.

After the three or four dozen pictures of my dick, and as many futile attempts at images of my shirtless torso which don't show how big my gut has become, I set the lens-with-optical-zoom on less obsessively narcissistic subject matter, with the intent of sharing THOSE images with you (not gonna see my junk HERE, people).

However, gentle readers, the god damned Mac is acting like it has a virus even though scans show no god damned virus. So I can't get it to upload any of the snap shots. And it keeps freezing.


With the consumer electronics dam burst, maybe I'll add an I Book to my cornucopia of technological indulgence


and so spare myself this anguish.


Regardless, till this is resolved, all the pretty pictures will remain in their satin finished stainless steel chrysalis 'till they can open their digital wings in the warm flat screen glow of a computer which is not a total piece of goddamned fucking shit.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


I awoke alone in the bed. The room was nearly dark except for the morning light's piercing delineation of where the heavy drapery panels met. I lay in a warm down cocoon, my eyes drowsily following the sunshine trail scribed along the carpeting and face of a brown mission oak chest of drawers. The smell of fresh coffee rose from below, rousting me.

I walked yawning and stretching to the adjoining bathroom, lifted the seat, and pissed out the last bladderful of the previous night's lagers. Washing my hands at the dressing room vanity, I could hear voices through the pocket door. Then clearly and assertively, the voice of the other guest boomed from the study.

"Are you dressed, boy?"

Puzzled, I replied through the door

"Um, no. No i'm not."

My clothes were in a pile in front of the TV, where they'd been tossed the night before.

"Then come out here!" he ordered.


Time for 'The Horndog Show' I thought. The other guest was well known and widely publicized for his debauchery, and I reasoned he was inclined to add me as a footnote to his exploits. I slid the door open and stood there for a moment in the contrapposto pose of the models in figure draving class; one leg straight, the opposite knee bent, one shoulder dropped, arms bent outward by my sides.

"And I'm NOT a boy." I reached between my legs and adjusted, in the manner of a rap video, to emphasize the point.

The other guest was sprawled on the leather sofa, wearing only jeans in spite of the slight autumn chill. Next to him was our host, his eyes cast down toward the two white mugs on the tiny table which usually supported his lap top. An adorable shyness, unwaranted since he'd seen everything previously, and at much closer range.

I could feel the guest's eyes as I scooped up my clothes, shook out my corduroy jeans, and raised one foot to the leg opening.

"Show me your ass, bottom boy."

I met the guest's leering gaze.

The host interjected, "He's not a bottom" and grinned, first at me, and then at the other guest.

"Is that right" the guest marveled.

I tossed my pants onto the loveseat, winked at the host and turned away toward the TV. I could see them reflected in the black screen as I set my stance; three quarters turned to my audience, a slight squat from the knees, feet shoulder width apart, and weight placed forward on the balls of my feet. The host observed fondly, smiling still, running his eyes over contours familiar to his hands. The guest made his cold appraisal, taking in my glutes, the seamless curve into hamstrings and thick quads, then down to baluster calves divided into firm lobes. Satisfied with my performance, I reached back and smacked one cheek to signal curtain.

"Shows over" I anounced, and resumed dressing.

The host started to rise "Let me get you a mug."

"Oh no, no, I'll go down and get it."

"No please, I'll bring the pot up. 'sides, we need sugar." he disappeared down the hallway.

The guest remained on the sofa, barefoot, shirtless, in faded jeans. He spread his powerful arms along the top of the seat back, knees wide, still evaluating me with cunning brown eves.

"Had a good time at the Eagle last night then, boy?"

"I have a good time wherever I go."

Now I considered HIM: twin slabs of traps, cannonball shoulders and big arms covered in veiny tracery, almost smooth shelf pecks and sharply defined six pack. No wonder he always had his shirt off. I leaned forward and placed my hands on his shoulders, grabbing two handfulls of hard muscle, set my knees at either side of his slim hips, and perched on his lap. I scrutinized the deep hollows of his cheeks where the fat had melted away, felt along his arms and down to the smooth taught skin of his belly, and up to his nipples, as large and thick as the first joint of my pinkys. First I caressed them gingerly. He closed his eyes, and I worked them harder.

His eyes snapped open, "Push it," he warned, "and I'll MAKE you a bottom." He closed his eyes again.

Push it?

But how far? "Uncle joe's not here to protect you, little man", I cautioned myself, and considered my options while kneading. Aw, fuck it. I clamped onto the guest's nips like the tunning knobs of some fleshy car radio, spinning the frequency higher and the volume WAY up, and lept backwards as he swore and grabbed towards my giggling retreat.

He stood up, clutching his chest, his eyes narrow slits. Laughing from the doorway, I taunted, "BOTTOM huh?"

Just then the host arrived, and set a tray on the tiny table. I sat back down between them, half an eye on the other guest, and splashed cream into my steaming mug. Revenge is a dish best served cold, they say. I wondered if the other guest was considering a return volley, and whether I'd be kept around long enough to have to deflect it later on. I raised the porcelain to my lips and sipped the hot rich brew. The day was off to a good start.
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