Monday, February 28, 2011

You wear THOSE, shoes, I decide

Seniors like me rarely get "tuned in" to the sounds of the young, since we go to bed too early and fear the radiation that seeps from computers. But from time to time over the past decade or so, some new bands have come to my attention. I adore the Noisettes, for example, and the Silversun Pickups, and Jean on Jean, and Joan as Police Woman, although I do think her second album sounded a little rushed. (Ah, well. Again, we've all been there, album). Perhaps the most unlikely band to incur my approval, though, is the local rock combo Interpol, whom I went to see last week at Radio City Music Hall.

Interpol first showed up on my radar when I was watching the video show "NewNowNext" on LOGO. The video for "The Heinrich Manuever" came on, and I was watching it in a theatrically neutral kind of way. I thought the visuals were sort of frightfully dull - a waiter is running, a lady gets hit by a bus (but the bus seems to only be going five miles an hour, so where's the harm in that?). But then the singer, a pinched-sounding young man who sings in a kind of over-earnest way, said to the lady he was singing the song to: "you wear those shoes, I decide."

I must say, I fell a little bit in love with Interpol with that line. Imagine - a straight man who tells his lady what shoes she must wear! How silly and vaguely threatening, simultaneously. Guiltily, I began collecting their music, although because I suspected that they actually were not really "cool," I got most of their records from the library. I sort of feel weird about supporting acts that are openly derivative of other bands (like Interpol and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) even when I enjoy their music. That's the hypocrite in me, I suppose. Anyway, I laughed my head off at Interpol's cds - the cocaine imagery, the veiled threats of violence, their little suits and stuff. But I rocked out a little bit to them, too. And I decided that I would go, in all my ruined glory, to see them live.

Sadly, I quickly learned that when an old person hears of a band, it's likely that the young people have heard of that band years ago, and when Interpol played that year, it was at Madison Square Garden. I refuse to go to such a large arena! I remember some fellow I used to chum around with when I worked at MultiPlan named Justin Cherno telling me that he liked Tracy Chapman, but that he wouldn't go see her live until her popularity inevitably waned, and she was reduced to playing at the Academy. (Of course, Tracy Chapman threw a monkey-wrench into that plan with that unstoppable blues jam she dropped a few years ago. And there isn't even an Academy anymore, alack).

Long story short, years passed, and Interpol finally toured again, and I snapped up one ticket to see them. This is a picture of them, but I took it with my crappy Blackberry, so it's inscrutable. I was afraid that I would be wading through hipsters at Radio City Music Hall, but it appears that the hipsters have moved on from Interpol. When a band is kewl, but their fans are no longer kewl, it seems to indicate that a break up is coming, so I am glad that I attended the Interpol show, as it may very well turn out to be their last. And whom have the hipsters moved on to? I'll let you know in approx. five years.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sunday brunch

A bunch of us cousins went up to Paula and Luther's for brunch on Sunday. We discussed Precious, Nadia's ice cream cone idea, Esperanza Spalding, and book promotion, amongst other topics. I brought flowers and a wheat loaf. For a long time, I have refused to eat white bread - it's kind of like a mental prison I've been locked into from reading too many issues of Men's Health. (If Men's Health were looking for a new name for itself, I would definitely nominate "Worries.") One of these days, I'm going to bring my own crust to a pizza store. Or bring my own host to church. I'm wearing Fred Perry in this picture, and some ratty old cap. I'm not sure what everyone else is wearing.

Paula knows that when I meet up with people, I prefer to go to the movies, so that I don't have to talk to anyone, and can drift off into my own thoughts and the thoughts of the filmmaker, and eat tubs of popcorn, "worries" or no. But every now and then, I do like to gather in a group with people. After the brunch, Alyse, Nadia, Xavi and I walked down Edgecombe Avenue and I broke into the song "Harlem Blues," from Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues. "Twenty years later and I still know that song by heart.

I'm not sure where this post is going, so I'll stop.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Farrah hood

I wanted to mourn the putting away of my winter clothes, so I went with Mary to dinner at Acme, wearing my hooded coat from Diesel. I asked Mary to take my picture, and when I looked at the result, I noticed that the hood made me look like I had Farrah Fawcett hair.

What are your thoughts on Farrah Fawcett? When she died last year, I read an article on Salon that called her the "pretty girl reaching for depth." I was moved by that epitaph, as I've always sort of seen myself as a "deep girl reaching for prettiness." Salon wasn't the only one who offered a remembrance of Farrah, of course. In fact, the publishing company where I work put out a book about her last year, and it ... ahem ... underperformed. (Ah, well. We've all been there, book.) I think that people resist the effort to embrace a re-contextualization of a life that was basically blameless, a life lived in a seeming pursuit of joy and happiness. Perhaps that's to our credit as humans. Personally, when I am on line at the supermarket and glance at a tabloid headline that reads "Such-and-such-actor's sad final days" before the actor is even dead, it gives me a chill. Whose final days aren't sad, I wonder? Sometimes even my not-so-final days have a tinge of sorrow.

Mary and I went out to dinner on Valentine's Day. Like most years, I was happy to say goodbye to Valentine's Day even before it arrived. Goodbye, Valentine's! Goodbye, winter! Until next year, hooded coat! And goodbye, Farrah Fawcett.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Soft-soled shoes

Today was my annual trip to the podiatrist to have my hoof sanded down. I have sustained many lingering injuries over the course of my life - a mysterious fractured foot, repetitive-stress wear and tear to my knees from obsessive running - and, during the year, these injuries lead to the buildup of callouses on my feet. At the injuries' worst, I feel like Black Beauty or Seabiscuit, two horses whose own foot problems led to high-stepping drama on the racing circuit. Unlike Black Beauty, however, I don't have to be destroyed; instead, once or twice a year, I go to a podiatrist to have the callouses shaved off. I like my current podiatrist, but on occasion I have felt that other podiatrists were getting more satisfaction from handling my feet than could possibly have been intended. I suppose that, were I a "foot man," I would become a podiatrist, as well. No one speaks of "foot men" anymore these days - have you noticed that? Perhaps they have gone and retained themselves a good publicist.

Today, my podiatrist idly inquired whether I had watched the Grammy's, and, rather than replying, I went on a strange tear about internet rumors about Justin Bieber. That he is really a 50-year-old man with a degenerative disease. That Usher is his lover. Etc., etc. Actually, I have not actually seen the rumors personally, but they are related to me by the young people in my department at work. Sometimes I think they make things up to tell me to get a reaction out of me, because they think I am insane. But I am merely a harmless eccentric ...

I left the podiatrists' office with a spring in my step, and a bottle of fungicide in my pocket. (I have a mysterious discoloration on my right big toe, and it has persisted, surprisingly, for years. This spring, I vow to wear sandals without socks for the first time in recent memory, whether it makes me even more of a pariah amongst the gays than I currently am). I looked down at my soft-soled shoes - the cross to bear of anyone with recurrent callouses - and mused to myself that this is often how I picture myself, when I think of myself: as a pair of shoes, walking down the street. Of course, this is because I can't literally look at myself, unless I am looking in a mirror. I can only look down at my legs and feet, and venture a hopeless guess as to the rest.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Wearing black Levi's and some old short-sleeve Paul Smith shirt with what appears to be sea anemones on it, I went to Bookcourt in Brooklyn. Two of my authors, including the lovely Simon Van Booy, were on a three-person panel on romance and philosophy. My author Andrew Shaffer (GREAT PHILOSOPHERS WHO FAILED AT LOVE) brought a prize wheel with him (!) from Iowa and they did a little philosophical game show. My ticket was called, and I sat in the hot seat and answered some question about philosophy. I don't remember what the question was, but I won a chocolate. I know that John Reed from the Brooklyn Rail, whose voice I sometimes hear in my head like a moral compass, would say that it was corrupt of me to win at a game that I had helped set up. But what is the book business if not corrupt? (I love the word "corrupt" - my father called me that once when I was a child, and I still hear it as though pronounced with his voice's rich, majestic timbre.)

The room was full of hot straight guys, which always puts me in a bad mood. The other panelist, Todd Colby, was the only guy there whom I thought could be "funny," but a quick Google search the next morning revealed that he has a wife. And also that he has terrible luck and has barely survived fires and such, so probably not the best match for me, anyways. I like to be the unlucky one in any relationship, and I usually am.

Remember when a guy's ambiguous sexuality could become fodder for a years-long, ultimately unrequited crush? (I still think of you now, Steve from Zido's.) Now, thanks to Google, my hopes are dashed within hours, not years. I'm sure that's for the best. Now, after meeting him, I am sure that my email address will be added to Todd's mailing list, and I will get emails soon inviting me to a reading he's doing in Brooklyn somewhere. Thanks to Google, I will file these emails away in a folder called "To be wistfully ignored," a folder that, strangely, is full to overflowing. (Anyway, don't people realize that people who live in Manhattan, like me, pay extra every month so that we don't have to go to Brooklyn?)

Several of my most existential questions that evening received an answer, or, rather, a temporary salve, in the form of the reading, the ersatz game show, and a nice dinner afterwards with Mary, who accompanied me. But my most pressing question, in the end, was not answered to my satisfaction. Why does Andrew Shaffer have a prize wheel?