Friday, October 24, 2014

Honey Boo Boo

Are you like me? Do you hate the phrase "white trash?" Ugh, it makes me cringe every time I hear someone utter it. We are obviously never going to achieve racial harmony until all the races stop demeaning one another. Plus, the implications in the word about class need to hit the scrap heap of history. True, the recent Honey Boo Boo scandal makes me pessimistic about the future of the human race, but maybe not for the reasons you think.

There is nothing about foolish choices that has to do with class. See: John Grisham. See: George W. Bush. See: Michael Jackson. Foolish choices happen because we're human, all of us. I can put myself in Mama June's shoes, I can see why she perhaps thought she had no other option open to her other than the vile man from her past. I can be horrified by her choice to resume dating him, but I can't pretend to be her superior in terms of morality, as I've made some pretty epically dumb moves in my day. (Including my recent wise decision to get involved with a "straight" man with a girlfriend, which I'm praying doesn't cause Jesus himself to throw me into the lake of fire). I can't so much sympathize with the Mama Junes of the world as empathize with them, you know?

I wonder why I know the names "Honey Boo Boo" and "Mama June" in the first place? I am a 41-year-old man who only watches perhaps a half-hour of television a day. (But a crucial half-hour! right at the twilight between laying in bed and having the Trazadone kick in). When I told my therapist recently that my psyche is being rocked by the sheer volume of television shows out there and available for my consumption, she suggested I blog about it. I hate it that she's discovered my blog! :( What's on here is automatic writing, stream of consciousness thinking in a zone of safety and whimsy, and certainly nothing that analyzation would limn.

Today when I go to the CVS to make my sometimes-alarmingly urgent self-beautification purchases, I gaze upon the magazines displayed near the counter and wonder at the "celebrities" depicted on the covers of US Weekly, People, and their ilk. "Kris rocked by paternity scandal." "Kate locked in bitter alimony struggle." Who are these f**king people? And is America really that familiar with them that they can now be identified by first name only? Where are all these networks found on the dial? Who knows the channel numbers for HGTV, Lifetime, VH-1, TLC, etc.? I believe the only reality tv I've ever watched was the first couple of seasons of "The Real World" and the entire run of "Breaking Up With Shannon Doherty."

Tonight I am really excited to stay home and clean my apartment, and it's a Friday night (live it up, Gregory). I'd lost my laundry card, and thus I am wearing my black tank top (this is as "white trash" as my look gets). That's what I was reduced to this week, wearing things I never wear, out of necessity. Tonight I found it, and have already laundered my rock tees, my sexy briefs, my deceptive polos. I can only speculate on what Mama June is wearing, but I'm sure that whatever it is, it is very little.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Franklin Ave

I was wearing my short-sleeved black shirt from Barney's and the same Levi's jeans I've secretly been wearing for two weeks straight now when I made the trek out to Crown Heights to attend the Franklin Park Reading Series. My author Blake Butler was reading that night, and it's always fun to see him, so I was looking forward to the evening. I was almost there when it occurred to me that I was on Franklin Avenue, the site of my late brother Michael's law office. I don't know why this had never occurred to me before. I've been to that reading series at least once or twice before. I decided to walk the two blocks there to see how much it had changed, if at all.

As I was walking there, I marveled at how much the block has changed since the years I used to get taken to "the office" whenever I had been kicked out of school, which was often. Back then, it was mostly bodegas, and men peddling beef patties. Mmmmm...patties. What a strange word: "patty." Now, it's like organic restaurants and trendy bars and such. I wonder if my brother would have been happier there if the gentrification had happened earlier? He hated Franklin Avenue so much, and hated being an attorney, too. Towards the end of his life, I sat with him in his SUV in Queens and he told me that he had a dream to become the captain of a boat. I said, "well, why don't you do that, then?" "I can't," he replied, and then he started crying, and I held him. I felt so sad for him, feeling trapped in his life. I've structured my own life in such a manner that, if I ever needed to, I could just quickly gather up my books and outfits and cat and up and move to California. No kids. Just one family member left in Queens. And she thinks I'm crazy, so a sudden departure wouldn't raise any red flags with her. I would miss Paula and Luther, though. And Mary, and Kayleigh, and Cathy, and Kateri, and Heidi, and Michelle, and Sherie, and William, and Rory, and Greta, and Tina, and Amy, and Alyse. And the rest of y'all. I don't think Michael had the luxury of escaping his life. He was much more influenced by and dependent on his parents than I was. Plus he had that house and that very messed-up wife of his.

I peered inside the office, which is now some kind of investment firm. The front entryway seemed unchanged, but further in, it was totally different. They had gutted my brother's office, it was all hip now, like a f*cking loft or something, and I suddenly was going to cry. There were, like, these people inside, sitting and working. Like he once did. I wanted to run inside and scream at them and tell them to get the hell out, but instead I snapped this selfie of myself in front of the old office at 722 Franklin Ave. And then I went and saw Blake read a passage about the deaths of a million people in America, and Nikki was there, too, and I felt better for some strange reason. For the first part of the reading, I was sitting at the bar, gazing at the bottles, facing away from the readers. Then, I remembered that my purpose on earth is to help other people, and that one of the readers might feel slighted if they spotted me facing away from them on their night, so I turned around at that point. I feel very moved and grateful every time I think of my brother and how his job and his wife killed him, while my job and the people I work with restore me to life--every day--and the sociopaths I date have very little affect on me. I don't think it's luck--I haven't lived a good enough life to deserve luck. It's more like grace.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


On the second day that Alia granted me access to her on her visit to NYC, I went to meet her and Paco in Brooklyn for brunch. I haven't seen Paco since she dared to challenge me to a sing-off during my birthday karaoke party two years ago, and I demolished her with a cover of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On." Paco, still embittered, spent the entire day trying to make me uncomfortable with excessive body contact, kissing, putting her face thisclose to mine during casual conversation, etc. Little does Paco know, I was not made to feel uncomfortable, though as the day stretched out I began to become a little confused why she wasn't getting tired of her own joke. That said, both Alia and I have an alarming fondness for our own senses of humor, and sometimes our running jokes go on for years, so I guess I can relate. Alia's been doing farting noises when I walk since high school, cracking herself up as though each time she does it is the first time. I've been saying "pound THIS" and "collate THIS" since 1995, when Rebekah from MultiPlan first hipped me to that jive.

I wonder where Rebekah is today? She is one of the few people in my life to have dropped me as a friend because of my sense of humor. She had explained to me her paranoia that she had been secretly filmed for the Michael Moore documentary "Sicko" (she was a drug rep when I knew her). She was so worried that she would be featured in that movie. So, to make fun of her and try to bring her to her senses (because I was worried for her sanity), I kept joking that I would visit her soon, unless she was attending the gala premiere of "her movie." I called her and left messages for her twice after that, but she didn't return my calls, and I got the message and never called again. I feel that when people stop speaking to you, it's the least you can do to respect them and go along with it. I also feel that sometimes people who call themselves "neurotic" should actually just tell the truth and call themselves "egomaniacs."

Last year I stopped speaking with two friends of mine. Both were sober, and I think that in both cases, I was consciously trying to take a step away from that insane sober world where no one shows up and I was always alone, or trying to talk to people with no interest in me at all. But also in both cases, they were sort of control freaks who wouldn't do anything with me unless it was their idea. I'm not the world's best friend, but I sometimes go along with group consensus. These were people who would just not show up unless the activity was their idea. Do you have friends like that? I don't anymore, but I do wish them well, and I do still love them, albeit from afar. It really sucks. :( (And I also think that Johnathan has left me for the gays.)

I told my therapist recently that I have a weird lack of curiosity about people's life stories. Sometimes I'll be talking with people at parties or meetings or such and they'll ask me about my family history. Usually I'll demur, because nothing could derail a party or meeting like Gregory detailing his family's history. But recently I told a couple of people my story--Caitlin Moran and Hanna Rosin. Hanna immediately told me that I had to read A Change of Climate by Hilary Mantel, which I actually already own, but hadn't read yet. (It's now next in my queue). I need to get more curious about other people, I think.

Still, conversations that I prefer to conversations about family and death and so forth are the kind of conversations I ALWAYS have with Alia and Paco. We keep it light, for the most part, and nonsensical. We mocked the host of the so-so restaurant we went to. I was chased, as always, by a bee. We played "you like that?" in Brooklyn, and they both got into it, even Alia, who usually chooses death as the unspoken fourth option in "marry, fuck or kill," rather than having to marry or fuck someone she deems substandard. (Most people). She'll kill willy-nilly, though. Over the course of the day, I got to know a little more about Paco, which was one of my main goals of the day. When I was saying goodbye, I grabbed her by the hips and pulled her close to me, to show her just how uncomfortable I was with her, but I wasn't sure what to do next. Then she spun me around and kissed me, as Alia snapped this pic. I made a funny face, as is my wont, but believe me, I was into it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dressed in black

Alia flew into town recently, and we went to see her friend Mick play a show at Fontana's. I believe that Mick and Alia "hung out" in the 1990s, although I do not believe that their relationship was ever really defined by either of them. Relationships are very mysterious to me, and, since the 90s, whenever I have tried to "name" a relationship ("boyfriend," "lover," etc.) I have been swiftly and irrevocably corrected by the party I am referring to.

Mick is my favorite of Alia's "friends." Once, in the 90s, when the three of us (!) were hanging out late-night, and Alia had excused herself to go to the bathroom, Mick looked at me seriously and asked if I would like it if he went with me and Alia to the gay night at Don Hill's, so I could find someone, too. I gazed thoughtfully at Mick, and replied that I had no trouble meeting people (by my estimation, at that point I had bedded 200 men, and I preferred the fellows I encountered at XXX video booths, to be frank) and he said that he hadn't thought so. But I was so touched by his offer! Mick is a rocker, and all the rocker guys I knew before him were complete assholes or so clueless that they didn't even realize I was gay. (Once, at Tonic, I was chatting with the lead singer of Trans Am about recent rumors about Ash Bowie from Polvo when he suddenly offered me the job of playing guitar with Trans Am! I cracked up. How would it have looked if I was suddenly playing, like, the Knitting Factory in a band that people actually cared about? That would have altered my whole world, the trajectory of my life, which is going according to plan and getting more and more myopic and isolated).

I saw Mick play a few shows in the 90s. One was at Irving Plaza, where he covered a Dead Boys song so convincingly that I got over-excited and emotionally congratulated him on his performance afterwards, shaking his hand, even, if I remember correctly, and then burned with embarrassment at my lack of cool. Like, you fucking fanboy. His performance at Fontana's on Saturday night wasn't like the Irving Plaza gig. He wasn't playing a character, really, just playing with some friends he's been playing with for years. I loved it how the other guys in the band sang along with him--it was like they were a band of brothers, attacking the audience with a song. Bananarama was like that for me, too, all of them singing in tandem, without the slightest hint of harmony. Mick's was the loudest gig I'd been to in years, the most rollicking. I think one of them was using a Wizard amp, maybe? They are called The Threads, and if Mick posts their gigs to his Facebook page, I will be attending more of them.

I don't think that Mick would mind if I said that he and I share a problem, which has only endeared him to me over the years. I find myself wondering if Mick and I could help each other with our mutual problem, but in the world of Rock, there is no helping, really, and certainly not between the rocker and the--what am I? WHAT AM I

Mick in this picture has removed the black sunglasses and hat he performed in earlier in the set. To my mind, this was an improvement. I don't trust a man in a hat for some reason. During the set, he gave shout-outs to Alia, her brother David, and to me. When he was finished playing, he came and hung out with us and, when we were saying goodbye, he said to me: "I love you." I fucking love you too, Mick. Hero of my youth. Rocker with his heart on his sleeve. You look the same as you did in the 90s, although that's not saying much, because so do I.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


For some months now, I've been playing a game with my colleagues. I wear the same pair of Levi's to work every day, to see if anyone notices. But no one notices! I suppose this is one area where men have an advantage over women? If a woman wore the same pantsuit to work every day, she would be quickly gathered into a chokehold and escorted noisily out the door by security. But no one cares what I wear, as long as I don't smell. (That's an in-joke for you, Tina and Amy!)

I guess no one really notices jeans. But there was a time when wearing a jean was revolutionary. Jeans have been around since the 1700s, but I believe that in reality they were only fully integrated into our culture post-WWII when factory workers demanded comfort as they inhaled their deadly fumes, enjoyed early mortality rates, and made our Rockefellers rich. And, strange as it may seem, I believe they were only fully cemented into the cultural melange when Ariana Grande was forced by the NFL to wear them instead of her planned super-short skirt, when performing at the Super Bowl a few mere months ago. She ROCKED those jeans. Are you shocked that I, 41, know who Ariana Grande is? You shouldn't be, because the old have...Google...! How else would we know where to search for cheap Boniva and Cialis amongst the pharmacies of Canada?

But, same-saminess is really my thrust here. WHY do I delight in wearing (mostly) the same outfit to work every day, give or take a variation in blouse? Why do I eat exactly the same thing every day during lunch hours for months, and then loathe when I start getting comped (to my great shame) by eateries? Do I have a form of OCD? (Yes. And I have a doctor's note as proof).

Today, I got emotional with a colleague, and I regret it now. I prefer the same-saminess of placid greetings and pleasant exchanges with work acquaintances. I don't regret at all what was said today (I was merely defending myself--and my colleagues). But I regret the emotion my words were said with. I don't get emotional much. As many people know, my primary battle in life I fought with my mother, and now that I have literally vanquished her, I don't really entertain many other emotional battles. None could really compare. I really wish I could say that I was comfortable living in a world in which I was submissive, where my commitment to my job could be called into question as a matter of course, on a regular basis, but I can't. That's just me.