I stood in the front of the line at the Trader Joe’s Wine Shop with four bottles of $6 wine clutched to my chest. I’d forgotten to grab a basket. At this point—it was after work—I’d been aware for several hours of the pulsing, dinosaur zit burrowed just off-center between my eyebrows. I stood there thinking about that zit until my thoughts sort of blurred and bled, and then I was basically thinking about everything and about nothing. My eyes were glazed over, my lids were heavy, and my shoulders drooped. I must have stood there for several moments, clutching that cheap wine, experiencing both the zit and the yin-yang of existence—I suppose I could have easily dropped one or all of the bottles—until the person behind me in line flicked me on the shoulder. The next available cashier was making a scene. At this point he was feigning exasperation from trying so hard to get my attention.
[In A Boy’s Own Story, Edmund] White presents his young self as a monster child who thought that love is power and the ultimate power is betrayal. It’s a strong, brutal idea. It makes a powerful condemnation of closet life. And yet I find myself resisting the idea, in part bgecasue the story is told in chilly, essaylike fragments rather than as a fully involving drama. And also because the idea feels too strong, too brutal, too neat. I wonder if White isn’t being too harsh on his younger self and something else was happening here. He isn’t the first and he won’t be the last gay writer who needs to think of himself as a villain.
—Eminent Outlaws by Christopher Bram
macartney said: This book seems big in “The Lukas Volger Story”? Can’t wait to read it.
It is! And you know what? It’s your story, too, Macartney. It’s your story, too. Signed, Sister Grimm.
For years I’ve struggled to explain what Boys State is to my East Coast friends and all I’ve ever been able to convey is how horrible it was for me. I just read this description in Eminent Outlaws (Armistead Maupin also attended): “a political boot camp for honor students run by the American legion.” There. Why was that so hard? In any case, I’m going to bookmark this post for future ref.
I think I’ve posted this poem two or three springs in a row. There’s always the fear that I’ll return to it a year later and not like it anymore, but for 2012, so far so good.
A Color of the Sky
Windy today and I feel less than brilliant,
driving over the hills from work.
There are the dark parts on the road
when you pass through clumps of wood
and the bright spots where you have a view of the ocean,
but that doesn’t make the road an allegory.
I should call Marie and apologize
for being so boring at dinner last night,
but can I really promise not to be that way again?
And anyway, I’d rather watch the trees, tossing
in what certainly looks like sexual arousal.
Otherwise it’s spring, and everything looks frail;
the sky is baby blue, and the just-unfurling leaves
are full of infant chlorophyll,
the very tint of inexperience.
Last summer’s song is making a comeback on the radio,
and on the highway overpass,
the only metaphysical vandal in America has written
MEMORY LOVES TIME
in big black spraypaint letters,
which makes us wonder if Time loves Memory back.
Last night I dreamed of X again.
She’s like a stain on my subconscious sheets.
Years ago she penetrated me
but though I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed,
I never got her out,
but now I’m glad.
What I thought was an end turned out to be a middle.
What I thought was a brick wall turned out to be a tunnel.
What I thought was an injustice
turned out to be a color of the sky.
Outside the youth center, between the liquor store
and the police station,
a little dogwood tree is losing its mind;
overflowing with blossomfoam,
like a sudsy mug of beer;
like a bride ripping off her clothes,
dropping snow white petals to the ground in clouds,
so Nature’s wastefulness seems quietly obscene.
It’s been doing that all week:
and throwing it away,
and making more.
One critic, however, wasn’t confused in the least. A young novelist, Philip Roth, reviewed [Edward Albee’s 1964 play Tiny Alice] in the New York Review of Books. Under the title “The Play that Dare Not Speak Its Name,” the future author of Portnoy’s Complaint and My Life as a Man called Tiny Alice “a homosexual daydream.” He attacked it for “its gratuitous and easy symbolizing, its ghastly pansy rhetoric and repartee.” Nobody reading the play today will find much “pansy rhetoric,” ghastly or otherwise, nor did the other reviewers. Roth barely describes the play itself and say nothing about the actors or the production. The closet he comes to explaining why he found it gay is to say that like Virginia Woolf, it showed a woman defeating a man. Presumably a straight man could never imagine such a thing. Roth concluded the review by demanding, “How long before a play is produced on Broadway in which the homosexual hero is presentted as a homosexual, and not disguised as an angst-ridden priest, or an angry Negro, or an aging actress; or worst of all, Everyman?” (Fifty years later, Roth himself wrote a novel titled Everyman about a dying, sex-obsessed Jewish hetersexual male, which presumably does qualify for universality.)
—from Eminent Outlaws by Christopher Bram
I’m starting to think that if this book had recipes (oh, and cats), it would basically be my Tumblr.
“In New York [Edward Albee] found first one boyfriend, then another—William Flanagan, a composer who was only five years older but had become his artistic mentor… . He and Albee shared a weakness for alcohol and melancholy; they were known in the downtown gay bar circuit as the Sisters Grimm… . The Sisters Grimm were regulars at the San Remo, at Julius’s on West Tenth Street, and at the College of Complexes (later called the Ninth Circle), where the mirror behind the bar was covered with clever graffiti written in soap by patrons. It was there that Albee saw the phrase, “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
So far I am loving this book.