Saturday, 24 October 2020

Something Shakespeare said....

  “Dost thou think
because thou art virtuous
there shall be no more cakes and
ale?”  

                             - (Sir Toby Belch)  

                                        Twelfth Night or 'What You Will'       

Thursday, 22 October 2020

How to survive


COVID-19. Of course I don’t mean the disease — you have more than a 99% chance of surviving that, unless of course you are very old, or in some way otherwise infirm. We shall survive countless germs in our lives, that’s what our body is supposed to do, not something we should be afraid of. But there is the lockdown, there is the most depressing winter we’ve ever experienced in our lives  — and we are about to experience it, apparently — so they say, and who are any of us to argue? So I am here to help you survive that. And  don’t worry I’m not going to go on about my ‘covid-radical’ ideas. There are no ideas about COVID-19 that are confirmed. No, it’s called science — which is all about experimentation.  After some well documented experiment and a peer reviewed article today's certainty could be tomorrow’s bad facts. Speaking of which we live in the era of alternative facts — but facts were always ‘alternative,’ because ever since Aristotle, reason has been in the eye of the beholder. That is, the rational man with all the answers is only the man who wins the argument. But I’m not going to go on about all that; no.  I’m going to talk about your mental health. I’m going to try and stop you from committing suicide. Suicide has been happening a lot lately. More of my friends have died of suicide than from COVID-19. It’s partially because they are artists and ‘sensitive,' but let’s face it we’re all sensitive when push comes to shove. I know how to deal with this because I got through AIDS. And I know you think, oh, he’s gay, and he’s different — and that’s a different situation. Well if you think that  just stop reading this now. Fear and disease are the same whether it’s the ‘gay plague’ or what Trump calls the ‘China plague’: it’s all about fear. And the first thing you have to do is rid yourself of that fear. It was all fine and good to be afraid when the lockdown first started in March, off we went scurrying to buy toilet paper, it would only be a few months, after all. And then came the worrying talk about the ‘new normal.’ Well now we are there. We know what the new normal is. So we can adjust to it. But before we can adjust we have to stop being afraid. How do you stop being afraid? Well you just stop. But one thing that helps, one thing I learned — yes during AIDS— is this: pick some best practice for yourself, and then follow it. If it means not kissing the kids, or not having sex with your husband, so be it. If it means kissing your kids constantly and then going out at night to pick up strange men on the corner -- and not using protection -- so be it. I mean it. I truly mean it. We don’t know anything, everything changes day to day, and as I say there are no facts anymore anyway, the best thing to do is  decide on a plan of action and then follow it; no guilt, no fear, no second guessing. Of course you can always change your plan of action when you get a new set of ‘alternative facts.’ But you must, again, at that time — be comfortable and happy with your new set of rules. You can’t be worrying all the time. Let me tell you if we faggots worried every time some damn condom broke we’d all be dead from anxiety, never mind AIDS. So: fear gone. And your plan of action is ? — well whatever you decide. Whether or not to wear a mask is a decision based on scientific fact, which could change tomorrow, but there are laws that tell you that you have to wear it in -- let’s say --  the mall. So wear it in the goddamn mall, don’t be an idiot and get arrested. But please remember this. There is science, which is always changing. And there are alternative facts. But then there are out-and-out lies. Here are some of them:
‘Stand together by standing apart.'
‘A mask is love.’
‘We’re all in this together.’
The kind of people who say these things also tell you that even though the next six months are going to be hell, you can solve all that with a little yoga and a good book (oh and don’t forget that zoom chat!) ‘Stand together by standing apart’ is just Orwellian newspeak, it’s a blatant freakish, f-ing lie. By definition, if you are standing apart you are not together. You might say — but it’s a pleasant thought. Yeah a pleasant thought that might make you lose your mind. I’ll tell you what being together is — it’s hugging, kissing, screwing, putting your body parts in close proximity with another’s, dripping saliva all over each other, singing in someone’s face, dancing with someone, yelling at some one, performing for someone in the same room, holding hands, linking arms, rolling around in the grass, going to a party and passing a joint and having a group hug, a group grope, an orgy -- flirting, touching caressing and yes: penetrating. That’s what it means to be together. We have bodies and they are made to love and touch and yes f….k. If we don’t do that, we die. We are social animals -- unless we are sociopaths like Donald Trump. You may decide that you will never touch anyone again, but it will kill something inside of you — chances are — before COVID-19. What about  "a mask is love? “ No, I’ll tell you, I’ve been in love, am in love now, I can’t describe it, but it’s the opposite of a mask; no, the mask is down; after all, he knows everything I do, pretty well, and I do everything, pretty much for him. I do things I never imagined for him, quite regularly, I think about him dying, and then think about me dying and think it would be better if I died first, but then that would not be fair to him -- and it goes on and on. That’s love. It’s not a mask. It’s not a frigging mask. As for “we’re all in this together,” well, we’re not. I hate to be the first one to tell you this but we live alone and we die alone, and thus, ergo, it stands to reason or unreason: we need each other. We need each other like hell because we are so alone in this life — at the beginning and end — that we need at least to have those few moments in the middle when we touch. Yes, it’s all about touch. If you don’t touch each other you  die. So. That’s my COVID-19 advice. I’m sure it will get me in trouble but frankly I’d rather be touching somebody than anything else, and if you told yourself the truth (and that is the only truth, what you tell yourself, not what you tell other people) it’s everything  you want, too.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

I remember when religion

 was private and sex was public. What does it mean for sex to be public? It means that it is not only polite to talk about sex -- it becomes obligatory dinner conversation. At certain festive gatherings it is suddenly de rigeur to speak of the sex you had last night — not only identifying the partner and perhaps the positions utilised — but also the device (dildo, tit clamps etc.). When we began doing this back in the 70s it was bragging — because we had never talked so brazenly before. And it was for gay men asserting what had been forbidden. Eventually it became a fine art, that is sexual discourse — because after all, sex is interesting. Like human beings, sex comes in infinite variety; one person’s feast is another’s famine. Ken McDougall used to go on about a man who licked him from head to toe — he moaned: ’It was heaven!’ But for me it would have been a certain kind of hell. Ken and I  had a friend, a musician  (he shall remain nameless) who was very beautiful, but for him sex was apparently a mystical experience. This again seemed to me a nightmare; to turn something which has as its primary value its very materiality into a prayer. Not that sex isn’t a kind of prayer; it certainly is, but it is a prayer for philistines who have only accidentally — and precipitously — fallen to their knees. But to say sex was public does not mean only that we talked about it openly, it actually happened in public, with people watching, either by accident or design. Group gropes were once commonplace -- and an integral part of theatrical presentations -- this was sexual liberation, it was believed we could discover not only other people’s bodies but their souls. I suppose it was a kind of religion because it replaced religion in the public square. But I still insist it was not mystical. God was not so much sensitive and all-knowing as extremely well hung. (The painting of Jesus that hung over my bed was very sexy — many of us had sexy pictures of a very white Jesus back in those days — and if he was not the actual subject of our first masturbation he might crop up, now and then, in our 'minds-eye'). The result of all this? AIDS? Not necessarily. AIDS is not the consequence of group gropes, but of a specific sexual act — the insertion of an orgasmic penis into a bleeding orifice. The raison d’ĂȘtre of a group gropes was not penetrating as many people as possible -- although that did sometimes happen of course -- but a plethora of human contact. Human contact is what it’s all about; what everyone requires, what keeps us healthy and alive. Today sex is no longer public, it has become quite unmentionable. Trans folk announce shockingly that their queerness has nothing to do with sex; young people are no longer proud sluts they are ‘gender non-binaries.’ Religion has taken over the public square. Religions are vast bureaucracies of varying degrees of corruptness (see: The Roman Catholic Church). They must necessarily recruit and lie -- the way any capitalist organization does. All this has nothing to do with the human spirit. What happens between oneself and one’s spirit — or the spirit of another, or the many spirits in the air — is a truly private matter; no one should talk about it or spread it around as they might COVID-19. Religion means simply a commonly held belief; or one should say a belief which is not actually believed, and certainly not practiced, but merely confessed to publicly, often displayed, often boasted of, and thus competitively asserted. The new religion is altruism; everyone talks about it, no one practices it. For instance; there is a quick solution to COVID-19. The people who die (except for those with mysterious unacknowledged co-morbidities which make up a very small portion of deaths) are the abject -- those who are not privileged, those people we do not in fact care about. People died in nursing homes and meat packing plants because they lived in appalling conditions unfit for humans. They were dying before COVID-19, but we refuse to admit it, for that would reveal our culpability. The majority of the COVID dead are also non-white. If we were to give these people access to health care and and basic human rights they would not die from COVID-19. We don’t want do that, but we insist that we do, fiercely displaying our public religion—  i.e. altruism — but the fact is we will never fundamentally change the social system because we don’t actually care about other people. Caring for others is difficult and time consuming. We would rather jaw endlessly about our evil neighbour who forgot to put on his mask. Last night I walked past a gay bar on Church street that was packed — as packed any bar can be these days. It’s called The Well, and it opened briefly and proudly for one night only before lockdown; The Well is now closed for a month. It’s what we all need. A place — like all gay bars — that offers the possibility of making sex public again — and making religion private. For some things just must not be spoken of; it is not sexual acts which are obscene but our hypocritical altruistic lies; they are the furtive greasy glue that holds society together. We want nothing less than to be thought perfectly good, and in our own minds we are.  Don’t ask if anyone remembers the Holocaust; we are living in it. Last night a man told me about his father. His father will soon be dying of cancer because his father will not get proper medical care, because of precautions taken due to COVID-19. Make no mistake. This Holocaust will be duly noted by future generations; and Hitler too — please don’t forget — often spoke of a uniquely German concern -- putting the common good above the individual good, performing his persuasive altruism. I know it’s not pleasant to think about it, but that’s the problem really. We wish for our imaginations to entertain and reassure us. Alas they will wither from this misuse and abuse; our minds-eye is the most valuable gift God gave us; it was meant to rock he world, not rock us to complacent sleep.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

The Poetry of COVID-19


    We’ve all heard of  the ‘butterfly effect’ and we’ve all known intuitively that it was true. Things have effects, that can’t be denied — but unknown ones, unimagined ones, effects beyond our imagination and our control. In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is defined as “the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state."  In other words, if a butterfly flaps its wings in Arizona; a tornado occurs in Oklahoma. The wing flapping does not necessarily cause the tornado, but it has effects. The idea that these seemingly innocent butterfly wings have catastrophic results is irresistible; it flies in the face of hedonism and thoughtlessness; it is a stern rebuke to all who imagine that there are no consequences. There is something uniquely human about hoping beyond hope that our actions do not take place in a vacuum, that this is not an irrational world. Take death, for instance. Again, there simply must be a reason. We have long known that grandmothers die, alone sometimes, in nursing homes, perhaps abused, certainly neglected, unwanted, in inconceivable agony often precipitated by their undeserved abandonment. We do not want to think about them; but nevertheless we do. It also occurs to us that some grandmother, somewhere - if not our own — may just happen to die when we are feeling -- shall we say -- particularly carefree and uninhibited? When we are at a party perhaps? Peeling off our shirts? Lowering our panties? Proudly displaying that tramp stamp or sexy thong?  And is that not, somehow, wrong? Not the thong of course — everyone has the inalienable right to wear one — but the fact that we do so enjoy showing it off at a party, dipping a finger into our pants with a gentle tug at the strap — while at the same time some grandmother somewhere is most certainly dying? Is this not unjust? Is it not, in truth, selfish of us to enjoy ourselves excessively at the exactly moment that someone else is enduring inextinguishable suffering? Can nothing be done about this stupifying contradiction? The more one thinks about it the more one might be inclined to turn down the next party invitation. Or perhaps the old woman's suffering provides more of a reason to go —in order to block out such ugliness and our own guilt? For certainly we are in some way duplicitous? This brings us to COVID-19. Whatever else the disease is — and we might argue the night away about that (and why not? Is there really anything else to do?) —  COVID-19 is certainly, if nothing else, poetic. No—more than that — it embodies — in the inevitable juxtaposition of its images, nothing less than the virtual essence of a poetic injustice so terrifying that it might just (some hope) facilitate an ethical sea-change, a moral tidal wave, and halt the endless appalling cycle of man’s inhumanity to man. For COVID-19 not only sets the image of a party against a grim death — one in which we are choking on our own sighs, coughing up blood, lungs welling with congested fluids and unrealised dreams — but, at last -- we understand! It is the urge to party itself that causes death — it is that wild desire to release, let it ‘all hang out,’ throw caution to the winds;  this is  the origin of all worldly pain and suffering! For with such urges comes a toxic, infectious, unexpurgated narcissism. Think of an orgasm; sublime pleasure is ineluctably connected to forgetting that anyone else dies. And COVID-19 announces, in no uncertain terms, that when we are at that strip club gazing at a plump white  — or black, have it as you will — ass, we are killing someone. Today they closed strip bars in Toronto to save grandmothers from COVID-19. I see a young man’s back arched, the swell of his buttocks, his plying eyes yearning for —what is it? Perhaps the twenty dollars I will stuff into his shorts, but alas, the shorts are gone and ‘it’ bounces out and ‘it’ is pulsating growing. It wants me, or I prefer to think so, just as he does, and his mouth goes down to my nipple but still he manages to look me in the eye, and I am straining — not even so much with desire — as with the recognition that yes, I too have a body, even at 67 years, going on 68. But this momentary pleasure, this fleeting egoistical need (I imagine it is an need; in fact it is even less than a  momentary impulse — it is a preference — as easily satisfied as it is forgotten) is the primal cause for the aching, trembling expiration of a 99 year old grandmother, wizened and frail, yet still clinging  on to dear life, gasping through a respirator. And that grandmother’s life — though she is 99 years old — is that not worth something? Something more than my superficial joy, more than the wild look in that stripper’s eyes — which I imagine is pleasure, but is probably just greed? It is I who have killed this kind old woman (because surely she must have been kind, there is not much else for her to be, at 99 years old, abandoned by her family). No, she is kind, although somewhat of a curmudgeon — understandably so, at 99 years— but replete with a wealth of worldly wisdom, and ergo, she cannot help but be kind. And when her gentle eyes come to rest on anyone -- particularly the self-sacrificing nurse who is attempting so desperately to keep her alive; they speak — ‘Don’t I matter?’ 'Do old people not matter anymore?'  'Do I deserve to die, because Sky Gilbert must satisfy a neurotic penchant for some sad, vain, absurd sexual recognition in a gay strip club—fragrant with the aroma of man-sweat, cum and poppers?' Does this admirable old woman deserve to die quite literally at Sky Gilbert's own hand? I think not — says COVID-19. And we must listen. We must hear the poetry of COVID-19. There has never been a truth that was so beautiful, so painful, so very apt, so inevitable — one that frankly and simply makes such intuitive common sense that it erases all science. If we could eat it, we would. But instead, we just must understand: COVID is right, and I am wrong. And I am so terribly, terribly sorry.

Monday, 31 August 2020

I want to remember

the dark room at The Eagle. There is no guarantee it will ever come back. When I was a little boy my father and I buried a time capsule on the front lawn of 369 Westmoreland Road, which was our address in Buffalo. It’s in the concrete, below what used to be a streetlamp in the front left hand corner of the yard (if you are looking at the house from the street) — for anyone who wants to find it. My father had a sense of humour, and all I remember is that it was a very good-natured message to those in the future concerning our way of life. Dark rooms are gone; at least the legitimate ones. (They will never go away, people will host them in their homes, or they will happen spontaneously in abandoned buildings. I went to a very naughty place in an old empty house in San Francisco once —  I remember people running around hallways in the dark with their pants around their knees.) You can ban us, ban our ‘everything;’ we will always find a way. But in case it takes a very long time for illegal darkrooms to appear; this is what it was like at The Eagle. I used to go on the virtually empty nights; it’s then that you will find what I call the ‘professional homosexuals;’ no amateurs. Darkrooms have become lately, pretty much by definition unsafe but — but hold on! You might not even know what a dark room is! Well — it’s a room in a gay bar, with almost no light. Usually it has been designed for sexual pleasure, which means it is a labyrinth (or mini-labyrinth.) One can get lost, and then, found. Sometimes there are glory holes (which for the uninitiated means a hole in the wall where you can stick your penis for fellatio). Sometimes there are even handles at the top of the walls, so that you can hang on when being screwed in a particularly merry way. These are places for men to have sex with strangers, but inevitably these are also social places. For if you frequent a dark room there are regulars, and you eventually get to know them. There was an odd man with a shoulder bag who would start to have sex with me and then stop inexplicably. (This would happen quite often.) There was Charlie — full of bitter wit and fabulous put downs, and whenever I would see him going upstairs I would tell him to leave some men for me, and he would tell me to go fuck myself (Charlie hates me now; he’s gone all ‘woke’). Then there was a man who I have always been hopelessly attracted to — but he is such a creep. He always wears full leather and is very arrogant — but as I say, I want him, no clue as to why. (We had sex once, and he was very rough with me, that may be a clue.) Anyway one night he approached me and whispered ominously ‘I know who you are!’ — as if we were in an Alfred Hitchcock move. Then there was the young black man (whose name escapes me) who I kind of love because we had sex so many times, and he was so kind and gentle. He is very skinny, or perhaps I should slim and all muscle. I remember one night when he finished having sex with some guy and the guy said ‘you’re sexy but you need to eat a sandwich’ which hurt him very much (it would be the equivalent of someone in the backroom telling me to go on a diet). Then there’s the old leather guy who knows exactly how to get me off. I have sex with him now and then due to his expert technique and nothing else — and of that relationship  — I am sort of ashamed (why?). There is another older man who I find very sexy, but after we did it several times, he won’t even look at me, not sure what I have done — but there is something of the vampire about him, he is so grim, and that amuses me. There is an East Indian man who is beyond unattractive, who drives everyone crazy just by hanging around and watching them screw; I feel sorry for him. And then there are of course the very beautiful men — which is why we are all there — who come in for maybe only one night, or one night a month, and quickly disappear. Most seem to us to be either tall, dark, and handsome — or blonde, lithe and boyish, and either effortlessly masculine or charmingly effeminate. In queer lingo, we are the ‘queens’ and they are ‘trade.’ When we find them — or they find us — the moment can be sudden and swift,  like torrential rain or a tidal wave, and you are swept up in their arms, or by their kisses, and doing things you only half remember afterwards — but oh that flying away with them somewhere to another place — which is of course desire without inhibition — desire that seems to mark the last day of your life, as your are nearly 100% certain you will never see them again. What is most amazing is dark rooms are characterized by a certain civility, a code of conduct, unspoken but nearly always respected — and if someone doesn’t respect it  — it is wilful ignorance and we resent it. You touch bodies only when you sense encouragement, flirtation, permission (though that permission may not be verbal) and you stop touching them when they indicate they no longer want to be touched. It’s ‘elementary-my-dear-Watson’ for any kind thoughtful person, but what’s amazing is most of the men I have met in this situation are kind and thoughtful, in fact much more kind and thoughtful than most people — than, let’s say, the clerk at the local grocery store. Is this perhaps because we hold this dark room in such reverence that it — and it’s code of conduct — deserve -- nay demands -- respect? Or is it just when you are naked, or soon to be naked, or longing to be, you are not only vulnerable but consequentially respectful. And yes, as I started to say before I so rudely interrupted myself, these situations — though morally and emotionally safe — are rarely safe anymore in the old fashioned ‘safe sex’ sense of the word. Well we’ve all moved on, don’t you know? Now there is PrEP, and no reason really on God’s earth why people can’t just pull down their pants and get on with it. (I still use condoms in the rare circumstance that I need one, and people either comply or go away). I can honestly say I don’t think there is a situation where I have so deeply come to respect my fellow man, or feel such a kinship with them. It’s  because we are there for one reason and one reason only — to get our rocks off — but that admission speaks to our common humanity, to a recognition that we all have bodies that live, and die, and need, and yes — love. It’s a humbling admission, for when you walk into the door of the dark room you are alive, and a person, in a room with other persons who are also alive. And these days that is actually somewhat of a rare thing.

Sunday, 30 August 2020

It’s a masterful lie.

And by that I don’t mean it’s not the truth — because after all everything is a lie. If you think that, it’s easier to live. You won’t be as discouraged when things change, when you change, when things go away, and when you go away. If everything is true there is betrayal; if everything is a lie then you won’t ever be betrayed. It’s necessary to mostly believe the present lie that you are living in, the lie you need; there’s nothing wrong with that. And it’s quite natural. In fact the more deceived you are, the better. But you must never deceive yourself to the point that you abandon the notion that everything is a lie. I’m talking about COVID-19 — as well as about life — and particularly about the newest and most beautiful lie about COVID-19 that has  recently been manufactured. And you mustn’t blame science for changing it’s mind. That’s what science does. A thing is only true until the next research is done. Then another ‘truth’ takes its place. This is frustrating, because we take science for truth, and indeed we must, because what else can we do? Well perhaps we should take it as art, as the lie that tells the truth. Science is certainly artful in its rhetoric; its persuasion. COVID-19 is described in the most serious terms, it is about life and death; we ignore it at our peril. And of course, everyone wants to live. And COVID-19 nurtures the very attractive lie that it is possible to live forever, for never has death seemed so much an unecessary tragedy. Even when your 95 year old parents die — surrounded by family — people who have lived long (some might say very long) and fulfilling lives, their deaths become, within the COVID-19 paradigm —  inscrutable, cruel, a veritable knife in the heart. Why, oh why, did they have to go? Previously we might have thought— ‘Well they were in their 90s, perhaps it was their time.’ Now we know the responsibility doubtless lies with a thoughtless teenager in Florida, cavorting on the beach — and later cavorting in a bar — blithely laughing and performing karaoke as if there was no tomorrow — kissing her many boyfriends irresponsibly — and God knows what else! What had once been unfathomable becomes someone’s fault. And most reassuringly, it is the fault of the kind of person we never cared for much anyway -- and were eternally suspicious of -- a beautiful, carefree young person  — one who is much more beautiful than we are, and likely having much more fun. Mark Twain said a lie could circle the world while the truth was putting on its shoes. It’s very difficult to come to terms with the notion that we might die at any time, senselessly, for no discernible reason. Most of us never come to truly understand accept -- or simply just believe -- this incredible fact. But the notion that the person responsible for our deaths is a vain, heartless teenager who thinks only of herself (somehow it seems more satisfying to imagine the culprit as female — don't you think?) makes perfect sense. But this is not the COVID lie I am talking about. (After all, there are so many!) The nearly perfect lie is the notion of ‘aerosol.’ You may be confused by the term — I was confused when I first heard of ‘aerosol transmission.’ (But that’s another thing science loves to do, play with language, making it one of the most artful of all the ‘living arts’!) The word ‘aerosol’ is both mystifying and exciting. It brings to mind the image of a can of air freshener, which if contained COVID germs would be very frightening indeed. And we had just come to understand the notion of ‘droplets’ — through those eloquent yet terrifying animated images of the ‘fomites’ ejected from a simple cough or sneeze. But this theory of aerosol transmission supplants all previous ones. ‘Aerosol transmission’ means COVID is simply in the air. How horrifying! Hasn’t everyone been working very hard? Haven’t we waited patiently as waiters, clerks and sundry service staff disinfect surfaces to make them ‘safe’? But now it turns out we needn’t have worried about that; the virus does not live on surfaces to any dangerous degree. What is even more thrilling and shocking, is that after all this talk about washing hands we are being told that that one is unlikely to get infected by them, either. This should — one would think — be good news. But here is the genius of this artful theory! The virus needn’t even be projected directly at you by another person talking loudly or singing — that of course can happen — but it needn’t be that. The virus lives all around us, like a puff of smoke— but invisible to the naked eye — and anyone may just walk into it, unawares. How then may we protect ourselves? Measures more severe even than masks can and will  be taken; there is much talk of HEPA filters for the very dangerous indoor air. But the sheer beauty of this theory is that though we once tried to differentiate between ‘social distancing’ and ‘physical distancing’ — because being social was once fine as long as we are physically distanced — now it appears that we must not be social, because, let’s face it, people are dangerous. The terror around schools  now becomes magnificent in a scarifying way. And what about love? We had always heard of ‘love-at-a-distance,’ of ‘love-in-the-imagination’ — of platonic love — where no touching was necessary —  where the mere image of the lover conjured up by ones ‘minds eye’ was enough to facilitate a solitary ecstasy. And indeed this may be the answer. For now we have — on our cellphones and our computers — a preponderance of virtual images, of virtual beloveds, some we know, some perfect strangers we have never actually seen or touched, and probably never will. And these virtual images offer no danger to our health. We can carry-on affairs of the heart with these digital creatures, in our imaginations, with impunity. What COVID is telling us is  irresistible (and  by the way, it will be very good for capitalism!). For it is not just possible -- but advisable  --to live primarily in a world that is not peopled, by actual — well, people. The lie becomes, in this way, enormous, all consuming, and somewhat irresistible. And who’s to say this lie is any less fantastic than what we believed for so many years? The lie that is now over, and I am so sad to see disappear? The lie that it now seems incredible we ever imagined could be real: the impossible fantasy we might find love in living flesh?

Friday, 28 August 2020

This is an ode


to Montreal. Matt Walsh my very best friend at York University was from Verdun, which he spoke of with some contempt; and he was the essence of working class. And then my friend Ed and his memories of the craziness of being held up at gunpoint once in this, my favorite city. And Leo who wanted to have sex with him only when he was pretending to be dead. And the The Rubber Gun — Stephen Lack and Peter Brawley—the essence of late 70s Montreal hippy drug scene. Evenings spent at Peter’s apartment (and staying there too) the bottom floor of one of those old Montreal houses (the entrance underneath a spiral staircase) everywhere his paintings and the smell of dope. And Peter introducing us to his young man at The Second Cup, who was indeed very handsome. And then staying for two weeks in Montreal with Hillar Liitoja and Kirsten Johnson and Andrew Scorer and Ken McDougall and Daniel MacIvor -- to play Claudius in an 8 hour version of Hamlet at the Festival of the Americas. I ate a whole (cooked) chicken onstage — but only in Montreal did the audience steal the chicken off my plate — which was disconcerting. It's then I discovered Montreal nights; staying out very late and doing bad things. I wrote many poems about Montreal. One about having a bagel in the morning remembering how receptive the young man was the night before, how those thighs opened for me, and how he was not only obliging but perfectly beautiful. I remember going to what appeared to be a drag bar, in drag, only to be kicked out because I had big fake breasts. Apparently they thought I was a hooker. How flattering. And breakfast with somebody, more bagels on St. Laurent, and my lover partner (let’s just call him ‘the other’) and I spending New Year's one night with a fabulous dyke couple (one was a clown in Cirque du Soleil) only to have them break up the next day — was it our fault?  Pont Jacuqes-Cartier and all that beauty — and I’m not talking about the men — just asking, why decorate a bridge with lights? Why so much pleasure? Why is it necessary? Oh but it is. And lately walking by the AIDs park and thinking about all the sex I had there at the very end of June, when the bath houses weren’t open and I was desperate for any — yes let’s just call it what it is — dick. Joe Orton used to complain about London. He and Kenneth Williams (of the 'Carry-On movies' whose photo is the screensaver on my telephone) would go to Morocco (with Orton’s lover Kenneth Halliwell -- the less said about him the better) and pick up boys. Orton said the boys in London were so uptight, but in Morocco they were offering themselves on the streets —which since it is due to poverty, is sad in a way — but on the other hand, it’s just sex isn’t it? Remember sex? That fun thing you do because it’s the only time you can really lose yourself (without drugs) and merge with the general miasma that is our biological existence? Speaking of which, that’s what Orton used to say about the British, that they were not by nature very human (by which he meant humane) because in a human/humane society young men offer their bodies to strangers (strangers they like, that is) because I’m not at all sure what dicks are for, otherwise — oh yes for procreation —sorry, I forgot. And then there is confession, which I think is the key. It’s why Montreal is so exciting. Speaking of confession I’m doing an awful lot of that in this piece of writing. You can’t imagine how freeing it is, one becomes abject — anxiety vanishes—  because now you, the reader,  know the very worst about me —or the best — (depending on how you look at it) and I expect to be rejected and damned for at least a moment or two, and that’s the great thing about confession. Imagine all those constipated Ontarians, all that damned up desire. Ford has outlawed singing because of all the 'projected particulae.' Well one of my favourite things to do with someone — especially a young man — is to have him project his 'particulae' all over me me. But no, not in Ontario. No singing, dancing or ‘funning’ why? Because they are Protestants and they don’t confess. Instead the evil is damned up inside them forever and causes illnesses like guilt and anger. Whereas in Montreal we just go to the local priest and close the door of that cosy cubicle and say —‘Yes yes ten young men sat on my face last night! One by one! It was heaven! I enjoyed it beyond belief! And I would love to do it again and again, in fact forever!  So am I expiated now? Ten Hail Mary’s? Of course I will say them. And I am terribly sorry for all that sinning.”And the priest, like Christ, dies a little bit with every confession, but we — thank God! — are done with regret and can get on with the sinning once again. Confession is human and humane. Living with pain and anger is not. Who will I meet tonight? Will I meet Parick Scholaire who likes to balance chocolate chip cookies on the end of his humungous member? Will I meet Julio who banged me like there was no tomorrow? I hope I will see that fascinating Asian boy ( or girl, in-between?what is she? does it matter?) with the long blond hair, who is always at the strip club, and claps a little too hard for the boys when they are done, as if to say, ‘they work hard, they deserve it!’ And it’s true, an older lover of mine used to say to me after we watched pornography together (because there was a time when watching pornography was quite a normal part of lovemaking. It wasn’t betrayal, it wasn’t judged, it  was just part of an evening’s routine.) When it was over, when we'd had our sniffs of poppers and both had come, he would lean over to me with that helpless stoned laugh I loved so much, and say “They really don’t pay those boys enough, do they? I mean for the pleasure they give us? They deserve so much, because they work so hard and make us so happy.” And I think of Leonard Chow — the star of Drag Queens on Trial and Drag Queens in Outerspace — he played the one and only Judy Goose, dancing up a storm with his ray gun in outer space. And then Leonard died of AIDS, and all we heard about him was that his mother had come all the way from the Philippines to feed him his favourite food on this deathbed. I think of Leonard Chow because he was Montreal; he was beauty and he was pleasure, and he was in addition, very obliging. And these are values we hold forever close to our hearts — under one God, indivisible, in Montreal, with liberty and fucking for all.