The Little Dog is, as usual, very chill. He becomes more trusting as he gets older.
I spent two days in the hospital having a stent removed from my gall bladder. Yes, I did.
I had dinner with Fern Mallis… who, as you know, invented fashion week.
After dinner we decided to attend the Giorgio Armani One Night Only event.
When we arrived we were whisked off to meet Armani who refuses to speak english but spoke english to Fern… because Fern is a legend.
On Sunday we went to the doggy Halloween parade in Tompkins Square Park but we couldn’t be bothered to wait in line.
In Woodstock we met a man wearing a lovely sweater.
I met a friend of Wendy Asher’s.
The hedge fund billionaire who owned the apartment also owned a perfect Nakashima coffee table.
The lounge is perfectly beautiful and looks like the Beverly Hills Hotel interior on Acid.
This is my Halloween costume:
It is a paper napkin with two slits torn into it.
The following day I went back to Woodstock to look at a lake house I want to buy.
This is me and The Little Dog in the view taken by Angelo:
Before I start. Before I show you more pretty pictures.
(I am loyal to those I love.)
I have something to say.
Something that needs capitalized.
I want to remind you that ARTISTS WILL PREVAIL. Unfalteringly. However or how often they are plagued by false accusation or malicious slur. However their friends are forced to defend them. Everything gets added to the pot.
The older, the more immune one becomes. I hear it all. Before… it made me crazy. Now I am inured. Eventually those who dare say it are forced to face me. Try stopping me.
These plebeians. No, no, no.
I was house hunting this weekend upstate. Looking at pretty interiors. Imagining cottage gardens. The full, fleshy petals of pale pink peony around the house. Imagining blackberries and apple. Dahlia in the autumn.
Gay and Lesbian cinema is enjoying a well deserved revival and two very special films are garnering a great deal of post Sundance attention.
By way of full disclosure, I was once very friendly with John Krokidas who stayed in both my ex boyfriend’s house on Fire Island and our house in London.
The similarities between Concussion and Kill Your Darlings, both opening in NYC this weekend, are legion.
Both are first features by writer/directors in their 40′s, both incredibly accomplished, both fatally flawed during the middle of the third act and both produced by lesbians. Concussion, produced by the venerable Rose Troche. Kill Your Darlings, by equally lauded Christine Vachon.
Thankfully, both have found their way into the mainstream at a time when the mainstream have developed an appetite for gay and lesbian culture.
After their opening night screening Troche, when asked what had changed for gay and lesbian film since she showed Go Fish at the Angelica twenty years earlier, said, “Social Media.”
We, as gay and lesbian film makers, are no longer so isolated, so dependent on traditional media to get our message to what was once a niche market but has become, due to the marriage equality debate, a broader church.
Kill Your Darlings is a ‘bigger’ film than Concussion. There is a great deal of Oscar talk around Darlings and film industry infra structure to support that claim. A period film, a grander stage, a huge cast. My gay friend who saw it before me called it one of the ‘best films they had ever seen’.
There are flaws in both of these low-budget movies that maybe, with a little extra cash, could have been resolved.
Yet Darlings suffers most for its low budget.
When all is said and done, Darlings is a cold film, lacking substance. It seems scared of embracing man/man man/boy emotion. The characters lack depth and focus. It is a cruel film. Not least because it deals with a murder. Yet, the murder only really becomes apparent toward the end.
Described thus on IMDB… the film does nothing of the sort.
Before the murder is picked at like an unsightly, syphilitic scab in the middle of the third act Krokidas sets up a youth orientated world where older men are vilified, where young boys (Daniel Radcliff and Dane DeHann) run from party to party, taking drugs, reciting poetry and jacking off .
Young, attractive, sexually ambiguous, entitled, partying college students vaguely remind one of Sebastian Flyte and Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisted but sadly… without the wit, subtext or the huge budget.
Poor Michael C. Hall playing David Kammerer, the soon to be murdered older man, turns up periodically looking forlorn and pathetic in his period coat and beard like a homeless person had wandered onto the set by accident. Both he and the equally talented Jack Houston are horribly underused and sidelined while the less talented ‘youth’ continue to take drugs and quote Yates.
If Kill Your Darlings had really focused on the murder, the resulting trial and the aftermath this film would have succeeded. Yet, the backdrop becomes the foreground, the story held hostage by fluff and circumstance.
I was unaware of this compelling murder story before I saw Kill Your Darlings. I subsequently used the film as a spring-board into knowing more rather than the film educating me. I googled Kammerer and Ginsberg and Carr.
I remembered William Burroughs coming to my 21st Birthday party. I began to see how the story had been massaged by Bunn and Krokidas to suit their own 21st Century gay agenda.
How do gay men want to present themselves and our history?
The murderer in Darlings is a bad gay not because he murdered a so called predator (his defense) but because he subsequently got married and had kids and didn’t ‘come out’.
The ‘older man’ is dispensable… worthless… the murder almost… forgivable.
Even though the victim Kammerer was seven years younger than forty-year old Krokidas is now, the writer and director show this character little compassion. Krokidas directs the audience to incorrectly believe that Kammerer was somehow a much older pedophile rather than a love struck gay man… that he deserved to die.
One final note.
The spectacle of Daniel Radcliffe being fucked in the ass, his hairy legs forced over his shoulders was perhaps the most daring yet redundant scene in the entire movie. It is for what this film will be remembered, which is altogether not what the writers intended.
Both Concussion and Darlings are very white films. There are no black people at all in Concussion which I found utterly baffling.
Kill Your Darlings has perhaps one of the most racially offensive scenes where Radcliffe and DeHann are the only white faces in a black speak easy imagining what trouble they could cause by manipulating the clientele if they were negro puppets frozen in time.
As a metaphor it was sickeningly on point: this is how white gay America treats black gay America.
How could this appalling white casting have happened? Whilst Darlings can use the period excuse… Concussion cannot.
The colorless casting issue aside, Concussion, because it seems to comfortably inhabit the parameters of a low budget film is a more accomplished and polished tale.
‘After a blow to the head, Abby decides she can’t do it anymore. Her life just can’t be only about the house, the kids and the wife. She needs more: she needs to be Eleanor.’
Concussion as described on IMDB only scrapes at the surface of what this ingenious film seeks to reveal.
Concussion’s provenance is by way of the IFP script lab and Sundance Post Production fund.
The delicate performances, elegant settings, this thoughtful and spare film (compassionately told) delighting from beginning to end… well, until mid-way through the third act.
Concussion is Robin Weigert‘s film. If the Producers had the money to campaign Weigert could be nominated for an Oscar. She should be nominated for an Oscar. It won’t happen. Sadly.
Weaving tales of Suburban and urban lesbian life, an ordinary sexually unsatisfied house wife strays into a world of sexual diversion. Selling her sexual self to other woman. It’s as simple as that yet the adventure she embarks upon affects us all. Those who crave sex over emotion, or emotion over sex. The questions posed go on pestering long after the film ends.
Elegance pervades this movie. The camera exquisitely capturing every delicate moment. Films about double lives are always intriguing. How those two lives collide. Picking up the children from school juxtaposed with violent images of remembered s and m sex.
The problem comes in the middle of the third act after Abby’s double life is revealed. A number of redundant false endings leave one feeling unsatisfied and frustrated. After the loft (mid renovation like the character) is sold and the secret is revealed a choice had to be made. Will Abby stay with her wife or move on?
I’m not going to spoil it for you other than to say that the answer gets lost somehow in a melee of loose end tying.
Both Concussion and Kill Your Darlings are welcome at a time when almost every Hollywood studio is contemplating larger budget gay themed movies. Gay film makers must continue to tell stories that use the language and locations of our own lives. Although I had severe problems with Darlings it is imperative that these films go on being made.
White, gay male youth orientated stories have become bankable. White female middle-aged lesbian movies… not so much. Powerful white gay men in Hollywood make sure that some gay stories get applauded whilst others (Liberace) get ignored.
The Weekend by Andrew Haigh although breaching the straight/gay divide was not given the ‘A Gay’ benediction Krokidus is currently enjoying. The gay men in The Weekend were too old, poor and took public transport… some of the criticisms I heard from the velvet mafia. The film was consequently marginalized by Hollywood gays.
John Krokidas waited ten years to enjoy the dream of making his movie come true, within that ten years the face of film making, gay film making, distribution and post production have undergone a revolution. The culture, the matrix from which these films are conceived and born has changed beyond recognition.
Krokidas could not have made this film ten years ago. Nobody was interested in making films like this.
The recently democratized means of production and distribution allow any young (or not so young) gay film maker the freedom to tell our tales without masking their truth.
For too long gay film makers were advised to turn their back on their own stories for fear of marginalizing their careers.
For those of us who waited, remained tenacious it is maybe too late to find a place at the table. Yet, I am thrilled for those… like John and Stacie who do.
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.
Last Monday I qualified at an AA meeting in the East Village. A twenty-minute qualification.
I skipped the drugs and drinking part of the story and talked exclusively about how I got sober and how I stay sober.
Since returning to NYC I had thrown myself back into AA. 90 meetings in 90 days. A new sponsor and a new sponsee. I quickly realized that there was no place for me in the gay meetings and opted for the straight/mixed meetings in far-flung places.
I could blast gay AA if I could be bothered… but I can’t. Needless to say, it’s just not for me.
Monday morning, during the qualification, I nearly burst into tears. In fact, I nearly burst into tears three times.
Once describing seeing the word God in the written steps of Alcoholics Anonymous at my first meeting, the second when describing how humbling it was spending time with the tranny hookers I met in jail and thirdly when I remembered the final moments of my using.
I have never ever cried when qualifying. I knew by the end of my share that something was seriously wrong with me.
I had a fun weekend with a young Texan. We visited the New Museum, had various lunches and dinners with friends but all the while I felt listless, irritable, prone to bad temper.
We had HIV tests, we explored Williamsburg. We looked at art, we bought action figures.
Tyler left on Sunday.
Within hours of his leaving my pee had turned a dark umber.
I felt the return of the pain in my chest that I often commented, when ever I had it, on Facebook.
I told them:
Is this flu or depression or anxiety or kidney failure? Guess what folks… the terrible chest and back cramps have returned with a fever…
The terrible chest and stomach pains that I learned to dread, that had plagued me for the past two years were getting progressively worse.
Now, added to everything else… the pale brown pee. I knew things were… serious. But I remained optimistic that by the morning the pee would return to normal.
On Tuesday morning, despite my optimism, my pee had turned the colour of coca cola.
I called a doctor friend at Cornell who made an appointment to see me immediately.
In huge pain I made my way to his office on the upper east side.
He prodded and poked then had me take a sonogram which revealed the cause of the problem: gall stones… lots of them.
One of them, he suggested, may have lodged in the bile duct and the bile was now backing up into my blood.
By Tuesday afternoon my eyes were bright yellow.
I told my doctor friend that my mother had her gallbladder removed and my father had died of pancreatic cancer. He baulked. He couldn’t be sure that this wasn’t cancer until they had probed a little more.
He took blood and sent me home, making an appointment to see his urologist friend this week.
When I got home I went directly to bed. The pain worsened. I was in difficulty. I called my doctor. He told me to go to the ER.
The doctor called ahead so I was quickly admitted and given a massive dose of morphine.
In a painful daze, during the next day, I had the blockage removed.
The young gay man who removed the stone was incredibly chipper, explained what he was going to do and soon I was asleep.
They shoved something down my throat and into my tummy. They cut into the bile duct and removed the obstruction. They checked my pancreas.
It was ironic: the gall bladder and the pancreas irritating each other. My mother and father at war in my tummy.
I woke up.
Thank GOD it wasn’t cancer. It was a gall stone. But my pancreas was angry. The doctors urged me to have the gallbladder removed.
The following day I was wheeled into surgery and had my Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal.
I woke up with a dull thud in my belly and four small incisions.
The surgeon described my gallbladder as ‘severely traumatized’.
The bladder had been suffering for many, many years and within hours of surgery I knew that I was waking up without just the physical bladder but without a huge emotional burden.
I felt free. I feel free.
A day longer in the hospital recuperating and they sent me home.
Dear Cristina sent a car to fetch me and Stephen and Roy filled the fridge with wonderful things to eat.
My time in the hospital was made so much better by everyone who works there.
The doctors, surgeons, specialists, nurses and orderlies.
Every one of them treated me with respect, kindness and the level of care I received was without comparison.
Each doctor looked me in the eye, introduced themselves and shook my hand. They described in detail what was going on and gave me options.
The surgeon bantered and made one feel at ease.
The nurses said goodbye to each patient when they left their shift.
Every person I met wished me a speedy recovery and good luck.
Even though the hospital remains over crowded (since hurricane Sandy) and we were housed in former waiting areas and reopened buildings the staff were sublimely professional.
The other patients, however, were terrible. They complained about everything. The staff remained, in the face of this rank ingratitude, resilient.
I saw drug addicts in the ER demand morphine. I heard men rudely tell nurses that they ‘didn’t do’ wards. I heard cantankerous men demand their diapers changed. The nurses were treated like care slaves. Like servants.
The lack of any kind of humility from most patients was stunning.
I apologized whenever I could for the behavior of my fellow patients.
I’m sure that fear and pain determine the behaviors of most people in hospital.
I’m sure that the entitled rich expect so much more because of the high insurance premiums they pay and the poor… well, they never get to treat anybody as they are treated.
Still, it’s no excuse. Bad manners prevail.
It was another peculiarly American experience, one I will never forget.
The dogs were happy to see me but I was less happy to see them. I couldn’t deal with how much attention they demanded.
I lay in my bed watching the Oscars. A long way away from that terrible, cruel world.
The definite seasons on the east coast. The passing days, changing. Slowly.
Each day has a brand new identity. New light. Color.
The bland, endless Los Angeles summer has finally come to an end. After 8 long years. I am heading home.
I pull on my knee-length, woolen socks and my heavy boots.
I am going to therapy… daily. I am finally addressing the issues I have been ignoring this past year. You know, those pesky medical issues.
Strangely, without warning… even though we share the same streets. I never see him. Nor do I wish to conjure him, manifest him, make him appear… I had lunch with one of his co-workers the other day, a youngster (we met at an AA meeting) who wanted his job.
It was funny being at the same table as someone who works in close proximity to him. Their opinion.
They knew the story. An urban myth that they delighted in fact checking.
Of course there’s loads going on (Film/House/Social) but somehow I don’t have the energy to write it.
I take pictures and let that suffice.
I found a picture of Joe. He’s obsessively going to the gym. A man mountain. In his late 60′s now.
I scarcely ever think about him. Isn’t that odd? To have no thoughts about someone who was once the center of your world.