‘Dirt Always Wins’ (Part Six) — Conclusion

Another Country by JamesBaldwin

This would normally be where a guy like me concludes by showing how I resolved my dirt issues, or at least negotiated a balance between cleaning and living free. But that would be a kind of cleaning up, wouldn’t it. At the same time, because pornography has entered the building, the dirty-string gatherer is tempted to state that he can literally visualize dark-blue passages in his introduction to printed dirt: James Baldwin’s  Another Country, which was passed around in high school till it disappeared. Don’t believe me? “Did he fuck … [Read more...]

“Dirt Always Wins” — A Story, Part Two

'30s girl injecting insulin

Sterile Technique There’s a curiously moving photo in a 1930s medical handbook put out by Dr. Elliott P. Joslin, who started a clinic in Boston that still specializes in treating diabetics. It shows a sweet Shirley Temple clone, almost 3 years old, the caption says, sitting on a wooden table and injecting her doll-like thigh with a needle and syringe that contains a dose of insulin. (A darling voice muffles an “ouch!”) She’s just a baby, yet she’s her own life-saving nurse. I became diabetic at 7 and almost died because the family doctor … [Read more...]

Vazool

Brooklyn '50s street scene

A Note to My Readers — Part 2 His name was Harry. Don't think English king; instead, it's from the Yiddish "Herschel," although his three brothers, three sisters and many friends called him "Hashel." When I stared at my freckled, rusty-skinned dad as he watched Gunsmoke or smoked Chesterfields while having his cup of Chock full o'Nuts, I often thought of the Irish name Dinty Moore, the hash that came in a can. I'm watching him now as he drives the Buick Special -- bottom of the line, only three portholes -- on his weekend rounds through … [Read more...]

Writing: My 9/11 Time Machine

Like many of my colleagues, I am quesy about the full-scale media attack on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Of course, I understand the civic need to weight the event and personal need to recount our losses, but I am less sure about the form any media memorial should take. Still, I'm going to take a risk and post a piece I wrote right after 9/11 for the Philadelphia Inquirer, if only to demonstrate to myself how words can erase a decade. I was then a back-of-the-book arts editor, and though departments dissolved as we all pitched in to … [Read more...]

Will Bert and Ernie Ever Eat Zabar’s ‘Lobster’ Salad?

Bert (left) and Ernie

Oh, the sadness in Friday's New York Times. Hundreds if not thousands of Upper West Siders have been scooped, scooped! by one Doug MacCash, art critic at the Times-Picayune in balmy New Orleans. Doug, who's a charming and sensible guy, usually gets embroiled in what-price-graffiti tussles or wins team Pulitzers for rowing the newsroom skiff with his managing editor on the night Katrina visited. But this time, he was visiting New York with his family and must have hopped on the wrong subway, because he found himself on the Upper West Side -- … [Read more...]

Gay Performance, or Why the Director of the National Portrait Gallery Should Resign

This is a short post about long-held beliefs.If you know the abbreviated world of performance art or the run-on-sentence world of gay activism, you've heard of Tim Miller. Thirty years ago, the nervy tyke co-founded PS 122 on First Avenue and Ninth Street in Manhattan's East Village. His lightning struck twice in Santa Monica, when he co-founded the performance space Highways more than 20 years ago. Tim is also known nationally as one of the NEA Four. Although I've seen Tim perform throughout his career and urge you to attend his latest, … [Read more...]

Super Bowl — Gay-Guy Version

If an American guy says proudly that he's never watched a Super Bowl, the American imagination assumes he's either a professor who resents the moron sports-money his department isn't getting, or gay. He could be both, but American imaginations aren't as flexible as American tight ends.Too bad that most popular assumptions are demonstrably wrong. You've never been to a gay sports bar? Lite beer or boutique EPA only. Plenty of gay-guy house parties as well -- those wings had better be hot hot hot and not drip on the Eames.(Sorry, there's a long … [Read more...]

My Own Private Idaho Potato

First, the Monokini Constant readers may have figured out that I spent most of November far from home. In fact, I was in Los Angeles, playing with and listening to this year's fierce and frolicsome USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program Fellows. Were I employed by one of this nation's foundering dailies or weeklies, I'd have been expected to blog at least daily about my SoCal travels. But I have no such obligation, so I'll allow my sun-soaked brain to right itself and -- what's the word? -- process, percolate, evaluate the cinematic … [Read more...]

Has ‘Project Runway’ Jumped the Sharkskin?

And Other Crucial Parts of the Culture Puzzle I've never been a fan of purely reactive writing. Most of it banishes those errant ideas and images that have no obvious connection to the fake trend or genuine outrage of the moment, but are nonetheless a writer's best reason to write. It's a puzzle, then, to find novel ways to react "new" to the daily cultural-political flood. Maybe the task can be accomplished in pieces. Jigsaw Part 1: Bloodsuckers I'm afraid that our favorite TV "crossover" shows are withering. You know, crossovers, the … [Read more...]

Did Judy (Garland) Cause Stonewall (Riots)?

June 22 is the 40th anniversary of Judy's death -- like Marilyn's, the result of an overdose that whether accidental or intentional will never be clear. Some think that Garland's gargantuan two-day funeral -- 20,000 fans and friends attended -- was the last straw for the harassed and brutalized drag queens, faggots, dykes and proto-twinks who were pushed, hit, arrested and shoved into a big wagon early the next morning by the cops who raided the Stonewall Inn. What was happening on Christopher Street?That sinkless, mob-owned, wretched bar was … [Read more...]