Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Another Torch Song

Another flame has been put out.

I was watching Access Hollywood or Entertainment Tonight the other night, I only watch the classics, and they were doing a story on Estelle Getty’s funeral and how none of her co-stars from the Golden Girls had shown up for the services. Of course what the reporter failed to mention that even though Estelle had played the mother on the show and that she was 84 when she died and was actually the youngest member of the group, which makes the others somewhere close to 90 if not more. Now I don’t know about the reporter, but I know I wouldn’t want to have a family member over 90 flying across country on a day’s notice. And you know it was a day’s notice because Ma was Jewish and had to be buried within a certain time. Two days I think, but I’m not sure.

Estelle’s claim to fame was of course from TV, but she had also played another mother to acclaim in the play Torch Song Trilogy, a play or movie that I have never seen. The title had always intrigued me. I had known what a trilogy was. It meant that the play had 3 separate stories in it and there would be something to link all 3, but I had never known what was meant by a torch song. But it wasn’t that big a deal for me, so I must have put it in the back of head figuring that it would be something that I would look up as soon as I got the time or more importantly the interest.

Last year however, I was listening to NPR’s podcast on This American Life, I just love that show, better than cable some weeks, and they were talking a girl who’s boyfriend had left her on New Years Day and she had been so devastated that she wanted a write a song about it and how when the ex had heard it, he would realize his mistake and go running back to her. Somehow or other after she had written it, she had been able to get in touch with Phil Collins and record a phone conversation with him. He listened to her song and gave a certain amount of false praise then he told her of how he had written a torch song, Against All Odds when his wife had left him and it had actually kicked started his solo career.

Torch Song, Against All Odds …?

“So take a look at me now, who has just an empty space
And there's nothing left here to remind me,
just the memory of your face…”

Suddenly it clicked. All of those songs that I had grown up with or had heard 10 years after they had been written and that I sung to myself privately under my breath, the ones that I was in love with since my days of late pubescence, were torch songs.

Touch me in the morning and then just walk away."


"If you see me walking down the street
and I start to cry each time we meet."

Or even

"I try to say goodbye and I choke
Try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it, it's clear
My world crumbles when you are not near"

And I’m not even talking about the old standards like My Funny Valentine, The Man I love or Someone to Watch over Me.

They were all torch songs. Songs that spoke of love or lack of love or trying to get love back. Songs that made me feel a certain way or an uncertain longing for something just outside my reach, a sense of loneliness. A sense that someone else could write about but I could never express.

Last year was when I realized that I was living with a sense of despondency, I was living a torch song and it was no longer pretty. So I said to the dancer that I had thought that we could have become friends but now I saw it was a silly idea on my part and that I didn’t think that we would ever see each other again. He protested asking me how could determine the future and I told him that there would always be a feeling for him and I said “you’ll always be a part of me.” And with that I burst into laughter and collapsed to the floor. I couldn’t even break up a supposed friendship without breaking into Dionne Warwick. Of course he didn’t understand since I didn’t explain. Probably still thinks of me as evil and wicked, but that’s life or as I’ve heard Curtis say, it is what it is.

A torch song.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Les Nubians

There has been talk about the series on being Black in America. A show hosted by Soledad O'Brien of CNN. I figured I could look at that and write some sort of comment. But since I've only seen about 20 minutes of the thing and I have no further intention of watching any more, I don't think that anything I would say would have any real validity. It would be like a report from Jason Blair when he worked for the New York Times. In case you've forgotten who is or was, he was the reporter who won prizes and awards for writing stories where they were not only untrue, but in many cases he didn't even investigate his stories in order to try to make them true. His stories were so good that he rose to a prominent position at the Times until they found out his articles were as valueless as yesterday's pot of piss. They let him and a couple of editors go because of it I believe.

Anyway, I'm not watching the show because it's fairly obvious that I am not the target audience. I already have a rough idea of what being black in America is. I may not know all aspects of it, like going to jail for selling or doing crack or having 6 kids by 4 different mothers and supporting none of them. But there is still time to learn all about that and I do know much of the other stuff. I know about being looked down on unless you assert yourself. Of always being suspect or a suspect. Of being always in the minority. I also know about the sense of belonging and family and pride of community and even being hurt at times for being part of it. No, this show is geared towards those people who don't see blacks unless they are at work with them, or they see them when they watch sports or Cops on TV. There is nothing about this show that I believe I don't know already and so it's not for me.

Instead, I wanted to write about music and how it affects us and makes us act in certain ways. I wanted to write of how it brings back memories and emotions that either welcome, or try to ignore. I wanted to but I think that would take a whole book to do it right and not just a 500 word blog post that I struggle to do time and time again. Maybe I will write something this weekend; but for now for your perusal, that is if you are interested, a memory from a few years ago. Les Nubians.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Men and their Toys

What is it about electronics that that turn men on so? Why do men always have to have the latest gadget out there with the most bells and whistles to make them feel fulfilled? Why are men so easily led into the trap of wanting something with a few blinking lights more than the last thing and really not needing it only to find out later on that’s really not good enough? Okay, maybe that’s a generalization that may not be true. It just may be something that I use to justify my own impulse purchases, to satisfy my own vanity. But they are questions that I do ask of myself, ususally only after I’ve bought something and realized that the reason and justification that I gave for buying it was as bogus as a $3 bill. Take for example the cell phone I bought yesterday.

From since the beginning of the year my cell phone has been acting up. The phone can no longer hold a charge for more than 2 days, and if I use it for more than 30 minutes it starts to beep and blink low battery for the next 2 hours which usually drives me crazy until I turn it off. My contract with Verizon had been up since February I think but I was eligible for a new phone at no cost to me. I would just have to renew the contract.

Since I have never been one to talk that much on the phone, I have always opted for minimum plan just above where you don’t have to pay for each call. So I don’t really need a fancy phone just one that will do the job. But looking at the list of phones that would work with my plan, I noticed there were Blackberrys listed (or is it Blackberries) from $50 to $150 with my discount that I could get.

Now I have seen many members of my gym use their Blackberrys , on the floor, on the elevators and in the lockers rooms. They would read their email, send text messages, do stuff that I didn’t know about. Actually, they were probably just doing shit. I mean, the courts are closed after 5pm, so they weren’t doing legal stuff. I can’t believe that they were summoned for medical emergencies by email, so they aren’t doctors and if they are trading stocks in Sydney or Hong Kong whatever stock exchange is open 5pm EDT, I’ve never seen them pull out the charts or reports that people use for trading. So that leaves just one thing. Shit. They must be doing shit. Texting “Honey” that they are on their way home. Or reading a message that “Honey” has left telling them to make sure they bring home that gallon of milk for the kids. I will sometimes laugh at them silently at their fake ass attempts to seem important.

So of course I ordered one online. It should come in about 2 business days.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Finding Me

It has been said that Descartes said maybe in Latin,”cogito ergo sum,” or “I think therefore I am.” I wish I could think of some great line that people will prattle off for years to come either knowing or not knowing what the true or original meaning of the quote was about. But I am no great philosopher. I am not even a mediocre conjurer who can pull shit out of a hat, so for now you are going to be stuck with me saying, “Life is a series of learning events.” Over the weekend I learned something that I would not have been open to about 10 years ago. But let’s go back a bit even further.

The only time that I have been to Las Vegas was in the mid-90’s when Mike Tyson was fighting Britain’s Bruno, forgot his 1st name. But it was one of those fights where the lead in to the ring by the opponents was actually longer than the fight itself. In fact the only thing I do remember about the fight was Tyson at the sound of the bell for the opening round, rushing towards the Brit, flailing away like some kind of mechanical harvester of death and knocking him down and out in less than 30 seconds.

The fight was held in what seemed to be the basement MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Vegas and there was this long gangway or maybe I should say runway that the ticket holders took to get into the arena. On either side of this were people looking on waving, cheering and screaming at the celebrities as they walked forward. I turned to the filmmaker and asked why were people screaming at us and he said that it wasn’t us but Halle Berry and her ball player husband about a yard in front of us. Who? He went on to say that she was in a Spike Lee movie and Different Strokes, or Different Life or Different something, I didn’t know, and I didn’t care. All I did care about was the trickle down fame and celebrity from the 2 in front of us would trickle back our way. So as people gaped, oohed and aahhed, I didn’t wave back but instead I gave them the jaw. You know, the up thrusted chin that gives you just a slight air of authority, power and may I say a little bit of glamour. I was famous by proxy, and I was loving it.

So skip to yesterday, before going to the Arts Bank for the movie Finding Me, I went to a reception by the Philadelphia Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and the filmmakers at Ms Tootsies. It started at 5pm, so I showed up at 6 with my little entourage because it’s always best to have people see you come rather than you see them. I walked into middle of the floor of the restaurant and looked around and I realized that I knew absolutely no one there. But more than that, more than that, this was a Philly crowd and no one there knew me and no one cared. I was surrounded by young and good looking men and women and I wasn't part of it. My time was over and I was fine with it.

It’s not that I was ever famous or well known or even really given a damn about, but I was always the youngest in the room with the most potential. When that failed, I was always someone’s lover or someone’s friend. Knowing me meant that you were in the in-crowd, you had that chance of using me as a stepping stone to get to what you really wanted, your holy grail. Or at least that was the impression given since I probably gave and did nothing for anyone, but like the man said in the song, ”I never promised you a rose garden.”

This weekend, what I what I really realized was that all of that living vicariously through others was never important to begin with. That feeling of self produced importance was fleeting and really irrelevant when it came to just enjoying yourself. And if it was, well then it was time for people younger than I was with clearer skin and less receding hairlines to grab a little spot light for themselves. I had become the photographer and was no longer the photographed. And it was all good.

So to sum it all up, life is a just a series of learning....Alright, as a line it's corny, but one day I will find and build that quote that will define the age and explore new meanings of life and then we'll see who is more important, me or the pretty boys. You'll see, they'll be finding me.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Send no Flowers

Needles Jones likes her meat dark and well done. Well actually, I don’t know what Needles Jones likes because she is just a character portrayed by Ira, a 50 something year old Jewish man on stage. What I should say is that Ira likes his dick thick, heavy and Nubian and oh so much younger. At least that’s the impression he has always given me. Another one in search of the mandingo.

I have known and tried to avoid Ira for a hell of a long time now. We first met or I should say saw each other at the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival more than a few years ago. I was wearing a silly tee-shirt that I wear to the gym now that said Absolutely Fabulous across the chest. Ira made some comment about it as he ushered in the ticket holders. I don’t remember what it was but I do remember thinking, “just take the damn ticket and leave me alone can’t you see I’m with someone,” and with that he was out of my mind.

That is until the next day when I was at breakfast or lunch at the cafeteria, I worked in a hospital then, when who but Ira would step up behind me. Apparently he worked at the hospital too but in a different building and he proceeded to rant and rave hysterically and loudly about the movie and the film festival and gay and lesbian this, and gay and lesbian that and who else in the hospital is gay and who he gets along with and who he didn’t.

Now I wouldn’t say that I was closeted, but I’ve always believed that my private life was called private for a reason and not to be broadcast across 6 rows of tables filled with people who probably didn’t give a shit about me just as I didn’t about them. Also, there is only so much open cordiality and fake interest that I can muster at one time, so I decided then and there, I was going to start eating off campus. I would make it my best efforts in order to never have to speak to Ira again. But of course life is never that easy.

I would go on to see and meet Ira in center city in what seemed to be a monthly if not weekly occurrence. If I was coming out of Reading Terminal Market he would be going in. If I was looking for videos to rent from TLA Video he would be there dropping tapes off. If I was just walking down the street eventually there would be a point that I would run into Ira. He started asking me about things that I liked to do socially. He already knew that I liked movies and he thought that it might be nice if we went to see something together.

I would explain to Ira that even though I may or may not have been fighting with my boyfriend at the time, quick note if I’m fighting with someone I’m probably sleeping with them to, he was a filmmaker and so we always saw movies together. But I would thank him for his interest and his telephone number and tell him that I would call him some day. Although I’m not sure how that would have happened since usually the number was tossed and lost as soon as I turned the corner after leaving Ira.

Eventually we started to lose touch, well I mean we would run into each other less and less and when I did run in to him I would see Ira walking with black men who seemed to be a little younger than I was. I made my assumptions but I kept them to myself since I seemed to be no longer the interests of his eye.

I hadn’t seen Ira for about 4 or 5 years until yesterday when I decided to get a ticket for the Film Festival from TLA. Just as I was walking in, there he was. Ira. He looked pale and his face was drawn in. He was unsteady on his feet and looked very weak. I tried to get away, but he had already seen me so I walked up to him and shook hands. Right away he told me that he was recovering from encephalitis and that the virus had eaten away half of his brain and that he couldn’t remember half of his life but he wanted to know if I was still with the Broadway dancer, the one after the filmmaker. “He was in the Lion King wasn’t he?”

Funny that. He can’t remember half his life, but that shit, the shit that I want to forget, sticks in his fucking mind.

I’m swearing, I have to step a way for a minute.

So Ira then tells me how he was on disability because of his ailments and that his boyfriend had put him in the ICU after he had beaten him up for “no reason” and that he had almost died. He was no longer being hired to do his one man show because he felt that he as being discriminated by everyone and even his so called friends were no longer interested in being around him and who was I seeing now and what movie was I going to see. I told him and he said that he had not thought about it but now he probably would go and see it and maybe he would see me there. I think I have a date.

In a previous post, I had said that if I ever found myself homeless I would drown myself. I have to amend that statement. If I ever found myself involved with Ira, I would have to go for a hanging. Not the execution style quick snap of the neck kind, but the slow strangulation kind with the legs kicking and twitching KKK lynching style. And if you should ever hear of it, please send no flowers.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Healthcare, or No Care At All?

Okay, there probably isn't anything more that I could say that anyone else hasn't said already about the Esmine Green case, the woman who died in Brooklyn's, King's County Hospital probably due to neglect. So I won't. I will just list these videos that I found, out of many, on Youtube and let the commentator of one of them say pretty much what I feel about the whole thing. Just another example of how we allow the weakest amongst us to be treated.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Change You Can Believe In

I have a question.

When Ronald Reagan ran for President against Jimmy Carter, I remember the Carter campaign came out and said that when Reagan was Governor of California, he had closed all the state mental institutions and that there were now hundreds if not thousands of crazy people roaming the streets with no where to live bothering ordinary people. How low can this man go to show his ineptitude, I thought about the former President from Georgia?

Sure enough less than 4 years later, I was entering the World Trade Center from the south side at night to catch the Path train to Jersey where before it was always clean and empty, I noticed there were men lying on the ground stretched out and getting comfortable from the revolving doors through the lobby and all the way to the escalators that lead you down to the lower levels. Once again, my assumptions had been proven wrong.

Well many years later, after Senior’s, “1000 Points of Light,” Clintons “I feel your pain,” and Junior’s,” mission accomplished,” people are still sleeping in the street and begging for change at an ever increasing rate it seems.

Apparently, there are said to be 3 types of homeless person. The 1st one is one who dresses neatly, cleanly and you could never tell that they were homeless unless someone told you. You’ll probably find them sitting at the library during the day or the train station reading and or trying to figure out a way to make some change. The 2nd is the type is the one who will wear an overcoat in the summer and six layers underneath that. Or they will walk about not realizing that their privates are being exposed and being aired out so that you can smell them from about a half a block away. They will scream at you unintelligently making noises and guttural utterances no one can recognize. And the 3rd, will fall somewhere in between the other 2, the type who will ask you for change.

The 3rd type was the one that approached me the other night outside of Rita’s Water Ice. In the above picture, he was the one in the yellow asking everyone for change. The picture doesn’t really show the dirt that he was covered in or the pathetic way that he held himself as he went from person to person begging. I didn’t want to take advantage of his situation especially since I only gave him 50 cents and then only after seeing him for a second time that evening and asking him a silly question.

Close up, I noticed how young he was and how reasonably good looking he was and I wondered how he could have gotten himself into this mess. I could have thought the “there but for the grace of God,” line, but that’s something that anyone would have to worry about in my case. Yes I appreciate life but not that much. I’m the type who you would find floating down the river or lying splat on the side of the sidewalk next to a 10 storey building before I could accept that way of life. I’m not that strong. I’m not built that way.

Anyway, I wondered why the taxes I pay, or anybody pays can buy bullets and bombs and salaries for Halliburton, but not cover the costs for the homeless. Also, why after all these years, the sight of people sleeping in the streets or having them ask for your change has become acceptable and even normal in our major cities. When will all of this change?

That is my question.

And I bet you thought this was going to be about Obama.


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