The Alcoholics Anonymous shit is the usual shit. The same characters, the same stories, the same mental illness. I sit in those rooms wondering why I’m there, if I belong to a cult? Yet, I never think about drinking. I mean, I’m not looking for an excuse to drink. That’s the very last thing I want to do.
You see, it was one of those weeks when I heard that someone in AA killed themselves. Someone I heard speak, someone I had spoken to. Someone I had lunch with, someone I had hope for. Then he blew his brains out. No obituary, no news report. Just another recovering alcoholic who couldn’t take it any more. I thought about how we collectively accept the plaudits for keeping each other sober yet when a man kills himself it was his problem. His solution. Never our responsibility. He had a six-year-old son. He dressed very well. Now he’s dead.
Since getting sober 18 years ago I have known many, many men and not so many women to kill themselves in the rooms of AA/NA. It is never easy. Yet, I have become desensitized from these terrible deaths and I hate myself for it. I’m sorry. I really am.
This week, I ate a great deal at Gjelina in Venice and these men graciously served me.
Last week I drove to San Francisco to see my friend Benoit Denizet Lewis read excerpts from his book Travels With Casey. After the reading we had dinner with Armistead Maupin and his charming boyfriend. I told Armistead that I hadn’t read his famous book Tales of the City until I got to The Men’s County Jail. I found a dog eared copy there. It was a first edition.
That night we stayed in an odd 50’s hotel/ex-motel off of trendy Chestnut Street. The following day we drove to Napa and had lunch with Gene. After lunch we wandered the giant redwoods in Muir Woods. On the way back to San Francisco we watched people flying kites on Stinson Beach.
On my way home to Los Angeles I met up with my Whitstable friend Ben Clayton in Berkeley, we ate brunch then sauntered all over the UC Berkeley campus. We talked a great deal about home. We talked about our mothers.
Back in Malibu I picked a huge bunch of bananas from the banana trees at the end of the garden, I harvested (and continue to) an abundance of figs and lemons. I sold the bananas to my friend Nicolle the pie lady at Gjelina who bruleed them.
Yesterday, I went to the Norco Rodeo with Stuart Sandford. Norco is an hour from Los Angeles. It was the whitest event I have ever been to. White people everywhere eating nachos and swilling beer. The men wore cowboy hats. The women screamed when the obedient bulls tossed their riders into the sand.
We wondered if there were other gays there. The nearest gay on-line was 3 miles away. I took pictures of cowboys. I ate tri-tip sandwiches. I was looking for bucking bronco Cody Gaines who I met the day before on Malibu beach. Cody lives in Texas. Cody loves Jesus.
Mostly I have been amusing myself in the garden. I have been sweeping paths and mending lights and restoring order. The dogs have been lazing all over the house during the day, finding patches of sunlight to flop into. At night they spend too much time protecting me from deer and raccoons. Go to sleep!
Michael came to visit from NYC. He was sweet and charming. I met the guy with a beard… and here’s a better picture of Stuart. Stuart Sandford is a very fine artist. He lives and works at the Tom of Finland House in Echo Park. My friend Martin arrived from Provincetown. He’s staying for a few days.
All in all it hasn’t been a bad month. It’s just these past few hours. I needed to sit down and write a gratitude list… and this is it. You see, I woke up today and I’m not a hounded black teen on the streets of any city USA. I’m not a hounded Palestinian in the ever shrinking patch of land they call home. I’m not a fatherless 6 year old… and lastly, I didn’t blow my brains out this week because I couldn’t take it any more… and for that I must be grateful.
Latex bondage wear ready to be washed from the dungeon at The Tom of Finland House, Echo Park.
I bought a huge green fur hat from Marc Jacobs. It’s very warm, very green and attracts many, many comments.
The people who comment fall into three distinct groups.
1. The people who comment most are African-American men and women who approach me with huge smiles and open hearts and say wonderful things about the hat.
They tell me how happy it makes them. They ask where they could get one. They love the color. They hold me at the checkout at Trader Joe’s and ask if they can touch it. Black school kids holler across the street.
2. White woman tentatively tell me how much they like it, how warm they imagine it is. They rarely look me in the eye and their diminished confidence allows them only the slightest… but genuine opinion.
3. Gay men. I sighed writing that. Gay men. I sighed again.
When gay white men (strangers) talk to me about my hat it is always with sneering disregard. They go out of their way to say something catty and unpleasant. They look at me witheringly, their comments infused with: who do you think you are wearing that absurd hat? They dress compliments up in such a way that confuses the listener.
If the African-Americans who complement my hat had not done so I would have nothing to compare the responses of the gays. I might think I was going crazy. But I’m not.
We all know what a heartfelt compliment sounds like and the gays seem incapable of giving one… unless (of course) they want to get laid.
Here are more pictures of our brief stay in Malibu and our trip home.
If a woman, an individual woman multiplied by billions, does not believe in her own discrete existence and therefore cannot credit the authenticity of her own suffering, she is erased, canceled out, and the meaning of her life, whatever it is, whatever it might have been, is lost. This loss cannot be calculated or comprehended. It is vast and awful, and nothing will ever make up for it.
I never met Nigella Lawson, not yet.
I only meet women like Nigella when they become irrelevant.
In my distant social orbit, light years from the warming sun of acceptability, circle the flotsam and jetsam of international society. Isolated by ignominy, the ex wives of current politicians, media titans and corporate mega moguls float in and out of the rooms of AA, expensive treatment centers in the Arizona desert, The San Fernando Valley and Malibu.
Aping the lives they once had with limitless funds, they buy a few stems of bruised tuba rose* from the same florist who once filled their many mansions with exotic blooms. Sumptuous bouquets placed on valuable escritoire, on silvered night stands, on grand dining tables.
As she leaves, she stands briefly on the threshold, looking down at her guilty feet and apologizes for the frugal fist of sweet smelling blooms. The florist looks on piteously knowing that her younger, more glamorous successor can spend whatever she pleases.
These cast off ex-wives, these frosty women, their faces wet with angry tears, looking to half-baked sober life coaches in first-rate treatment centers to recalibrate their lives. Drinking away their sorrows, dumped by men whose power they loved and whose money they spent. Yoga, sobriety, macrobiotics, spending, using, crying… nothing seems to work because all these women want is the sweet taste of revenge.
This week, one very lucky ex-wife gets her dues. She waited patiently on the sidelines of her ex-husband’s life to witness the crushing downfall of her Nemesis. Today, American born, Kay Saatchi is not only back in Charles’s life but has had the delicious pleasure of helping dispense the woman who caused Kay pain beyond description: Nigella Lawson.
Kay is delightful. I’ve met her on numerous occasions in Los Angeles. Of course she’s delightful! A man like Charles Saatchi wouldn’t marry an idiot. Kay is everything a powerful man would want, she is elegant, super smart, she has exquisite taste. Kay, nowadays, is sober. Yet, when Kay was drinking, she had an unpleasant habit of blacking out and talking gibberish about Charles. She couldn’t and wouldn’t stop. Even her best friend wouldn’t know how to stem the tirade. Her life, it seemed, could only be nothing… without Charles.
She would disintegrate into a seething mess of Charles Saatchi resentment.
The only hook Kay had in her ex as she watched in increasing horror as Nigella used Charles as a spring-board into her own rock solid career as international domestic goddess… was her/their daughter Phoebe who Kay moaned constantly was ignored by her father. When I asked Phoebe if her father ignored her over Christmas dinner a few years ago… she denied it, looked sadly at her drunk mother and told me that the only problem parent… was Kay.
Now, things are different. Kay is sober (unlike Nigella) and Kay’s undying love and loyalty for her ex husband has been rewarded by his begging Kay to help oust Nigella. Kay will never be Mrs Charles Saatchi ever again but she has made herself indispensable to him during his time of need, once again firmly cementing herself back into his life.
It is hard to explain to ordinary people the intoxicating effect of unlimited cash, how women like Kay and Nigella and now Trinny Woodall would willingly get involved with brooding Charles Saatchi. A man who throttled his ex wife in public. A man so ruthless he recruits his vulnerable ex-wife to destroy his current wife.
Do yourself a favor and read Andrea Dworkin’s Right Wing Women: the politics of domesticated females. Money and power are everything to some women. It defies logic and rationale. The patriarch, the provider, the batterer… do what ever you will to me and for me… I am yours forever.
The harsh glare of media scrutiny is lighting up every dark corner of Charles Saatchi’s famously private life during the trial of his former employees, The Grillo Sisters. It must be a painful time for secretive Charles. During the trial there was constant mention of the grown women (who were no more that indentured servants) as ‘family’ yet, as Deborah Orr points out in the only pro Grillo piece on offer this week…
“You cannot insist that someone is in your family, then cry fraud when they behave as if they are.”
The rich are different. They like to live beyond scrutiny, they operate without care for consequence. Partially, this week, on a micro and macro level justice was done. For servants like the Grillo sisters and for ex wives who crave revenge… like Kay Saatchi.
* Princess Diana‘s favorite flower.
It started with a short message and ended up with a whole bunch of choices I never expected.
Not in my wildest dreams.
I’ve read what you had to say. Now it’s my turn.
Stepping away from the mess. It’s not so messy. It seems like it was planned.
This pantomime. Look at the cast of unusual, freakish characters. Look at them.
Boys and men, trans and women.
Young girls. Yes. They are here too.
So you wrote me a poem. No title… of course.
We were connected .
When it expires we are expired.
The order? It was a good idea. It was a great way to formalize the end of our association. I can only imagine that you feel much the same way I do.
I wish we had never met.
Don’t you shudder whenever you think about it?
I understand why you needed to rewrite the narrative.
I took advantage of you?
You had far more to lose by telling the truth.
When assigning blame, I take full responsibility. I should have walked away.
Everyone I trusted advised me to do so. Everyone I trusted.
Instead, I pinned my hopes on you. I found your interest in me all at once baffling and inspiring.
A romantic relationship was impossible.
Because I am a broken, sick man. Incapable of intimacy.
You sold me:
A big fat lie.
Yet, we never talked about my lies. Yes, I lied to you about almost everything.
Lies I had held onto for a very long time.
This man is a liar. Just like me. Did you ever think that?
The last time I checked, and that was some time ago, you seemed very happy wearing your new clothes, your relationship, your job and your family.
I am delighted. You will make a much better job of being a gay than I ever could.
Your ability to form and maintain relationships will mean that you’ll have everything you always wanted. Everything you ever dreamed.
The questions I wanted to ask… I have no reason to ask.
The truth set you free and I am very proud of you… even though I have no desire to set eyes upon you ever again.
May 6th 2013
When did you have time to write that? Was it really meant for me?
Did you wonder if I should reply? Did you think I could?
There are no words left.
The storm rattles the house, thunders down the drain pipes. Torrents of rain over the mountain. Hammering down onto the wide, new leaves.
Make some toast and lime marmalade. Boil some eggs. Stand naked in the warm rain.