Friday, October 7, 2011

Sad green Coach jacket

For the past few months, every time I've gone to the gym, I've noticed this green Coach coat hanging on the coat rack. The first few times I just thought that some nice lady had inadvertently synced up with my own workouts. Then, I changed my schedule a little bit, and started going in the evenings, instead of the mornings. Every single time, I saw that the nice lady had already beaten me to the gym, and had hung up her coat there again. I thought, "well, that's nice! I have myself a little shadow." I began looking around the gym as I worked out, wondering who the lady was. Was she that angry lady who I once had a confrontation with over a weight machine? Or was she the elderly Pilates teacher, who sometimes gives me "the eye," and whose gaze I have learned not to meet?

As time went by, I began to grow increasingly concerned for the lady. I mean, I go to the gym every day, and have been known to go more than once a day on weekends. Why was this lady subjecting herself to the same punishing routine that I do? I've known for many years that whatever I do won't be good enough, either at work or at the gym, but the fun for me is the trying. I've tried so hard, in fact, that I became an exercise bulimic, and now must walk uphill on the treadmill rather than run, as my knee is in pretty bad shape. Was this what was going on with the nice lady? Was she stomping through endless workouts, miserly balancing her post-workout meals in a 33-33-34 fat-carbs-protein ratio, doing countless kicks backward, into infinity? I felt such empathy for her that I wanted to find her in some corner of the gym, probably in total muscle failure, sobbing, and tell her all the lessons I've learned in my life, so as to save her some time and heartache. I would tell her, "It's okay, you'll never be as thin as you want. And no one will ever love you. Guys may say they like us, but they will always like the next person even more. Take the energy you're expending on the elliptical, and turn it inwards, and fully experience your own heart, your own soul. The blood, the meat, the guts of it. If you survive, I will be with you, and together, we can visit the ice cream bar and eat a kind of joy that will turn us cold inside. There is no other kind of joy."

In the spirit of wanting to share this dark, comforting wisdom, I approached a manager at the gym and asked him if he knew whose jacket this was. He looked at me, like, you dolt. "This coat, sir," he said, "has been here for many months. Someone left it there." Embarrassed, I walked off and lifted a dumbbell over my head.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Where are your Jil Sander pieces?

What a weekend I had. In my recent obsession with "decluttering" my apartment, I went through my closets and threw away or donated at least ten years' worth of old clothing. It was really a moving experience, and some pieces were very hard to part with ... some had, over the years, become signature pieces of mine. Notably, the jacket I am wearing in this picture, my houndstooth coat by Jil Sander. I remember working at Harcourt in 2005, wearing this coat, or maybe some other Jil Sander piece. My crazy boss at the time came out and said, "What are YOU wearing?!" I replied, rather coldly, "It's Jil Sander. Where are YOUR Jil Sander pieces, Ms. Gilmore?" (I believe she was wearing something from the Gap).

Over the years, though, the coat got worn, and was pilled in places. Plus, the sleeves were too short for my long, muscular arms. And I seemed to have to have the lining replaced, like, once a season! I had to say goodbye to it, with regret.

I don't know why I was making this face in this picture, which I found in a little box of pictures of myself as a younger person. Perhaps I was making my "model face," which in retrospect, doesn't really make me look like a model. Perhaps this is my imitation of "Ape-X," a simian character from Marvel Comics' Squadron Supreme (which, I must be honest, was just a rip-off of the Justice League). Ape-X seemed to be around primarily to make this face, which she did quite often, heart-breakingly, usually after one of her teammates was slain. She had sort of a great effect on me ... I used to puzzle, reading comics, "Why do people wish that animals could talk?" Poor Ape-X, I don't think her "psychotic break" was ever resolved, a cruelty by her illustrators that mirrors humans' cruelty towards animals of all kinds. She just exists in a kind of limbo now, forever going insane. Ah, well. We've all been there, Ape-X ...

I guess what I was doing by cleaning out my closets was "culling." Once, when I was working at a toxic literary agency (but aren't all literary agencies toxic?), the singer Suzanne Vega wrote me a letter saying that she was "culling" her journals for material for a book. I looked off into the distance and wondered at that word. I knew what it meant, but I had never heard it used before. I remember that I imagined Suzanne with a giant scythe instead of an arm. Cull ...

As I was culling my closet, I was able to acknowledge various stages in my fashion history ... my Burberry phase ... my cardigan phase ... my vest phase ... certainly my Jil Sander phase ... and move on, with hope. My fashion history continues to spool out; I am currently in a kitty cat t-shirt phase. And a plaid sport shirt phase. The phases will continue, as life continues, like a wave of molten lava. And at the end, everything will solidify, and I will breathe my last.

I suspect that after you have read this post, you will cull it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Alternative Earth in Los Angeles

I recently took the first week-long vacation of my career, to my beloved Los Angeles, to hang out with Alia. Alia and I have known each other since high school, so by now I realize that if we spend more than a few days together, we'll have a nasty fight. This picture was taken a day or two before we had another nasty fight.

In this picture, we are at a Paula Frazer show ... in one of the few serendipitous moments of my life, I realized Paula was playing in LA after I got there and was looking through an LA Weekly. Although I would probably fly anywhere in the world to see a Paula Frazer gig, this was the first time I've ever arrived somewhere and then realized she was playing. I was so happy, and she was so wonderful - in fine voice, wearing a beautiful green dress, singing all new songs. The last time I saw her was at the Knitting Factory, where I requested a then-new song of hers, "We met by the love-lies-bleeding," and she called out into the audience to ask who I was. "Oh, I'm Gregory," I called back. "I used to live in San Francisco." Afterwards, we chatted, and I told her that I was starting to write some songs of my own. She told me I should go upstairs to see her guitarist play a show with his new band. "Oh," I replied, too quickly, too bluntly, "the guy with the big head?" Her face darkened. "Yes," she replied. "The guy with the big head."

In Los Angeles, I realized that the t-shirts I had packed would not do for the surprisingly chilly evenings LA was experiencing. So I dragged Alia to an Urban Outfitters, where I purchased a pink sweatshirt from Alternative Earth. Alia's sister Amy became obsessed with the fact that I had purchased an Alternative Earth garment, and kept bringing it up and talking about the fact that Alternative Earth donates a garment for every garment it sells. I kept trying to change the subject, as this policy of Alternative Earth's does not interest me in the slightest. (Amy also recently told me that all of my friends on my blog resemble Amy Goodman from "Democracy Now.") Amy, are you reading this now? I'm sorry I called you old. I myself am older than all of my friends put together; at least, it sometimes feels that way.

Los Angeles, smog of my lungs, fire of my heart, city of surprising overreactions to rainstorms, how I love you. I probably won't visit you again until Paula Frazer plays there again, or Lisa Germano, or somesuch, but we will always have this week, this moment, together.


I went to dinner with a set of twins, one of whom I have a little bit of a crush on, just because he is awash in sorrow sometimes, and I like to imagine swooping in and nursing him back to happiness. I walked with the twins through the fancy part of the West Village (the twins, too, are fancy ... one does something or the other with some famous fancy brand; the other is a creative director for some fancy clothing shop). Thinking, the whole time, "let me save you! Let me save you!" I asked the twins, slyly, if they ever fooled around a little bit when they were growing up. I mean, I couldn't waste the opportunity to hit on two gay twins! "All the time, Gregory," one of them said. "But you have to pay to sign up for our website to see it." Then I realized that probably every gay asks them that. "Well," I snapped, "just because it has already been said, doesn't mean it's not still funny."

We ended up at a diner, where I discussed my latest "icebreaker" of emailing guys a jpeg of my penis. They seemed very puzzled by this, and inquired whether or not that has ever worked for me. I never know how to answer that question. I mean, it hasn't worked in one sense: no one has ever responded positively, nor let me show them my penis later on, in the flesh. But it has worked in the sense that I am always highly amused by myself when I do it. Of course I then asked the twin I have a little bit of a crush on if he would like to see my jpeg. He replied that he would, and I sent it to him. Then I waited weeks and weeks to see if he would respond positively, but he has not. Nor has he requested anymore succor for his sorrow. Clearly, the jury is still out on the effectiveness of my jpeg. But meanwhile, my amusement level is at an all-time high.