Archives for posts with tag: California

Bruce Weber, Fern Mallis, Ralph Lauren

Last Wednesday I found myself at the 92nd Street Y supporting my great new friend Fern Mallis in the most recent of her Fashion Icon interviews.

Even though these interviews have become legendary within the fashion industry garnering great reviews from all in attendance, there is very little on-line that one can see other than tiny clips.

Fern deserves her own YouTube channel and somebody needs to organize this for her post-haste.

As I am a fairly new friend I watched what little I could find on-line of past interviews, spoke to friends and by all accounts these interviews are very special indeed.

Indomitable Fern is known most notably for her creation of New York Fashion Week but more importantly she is the consummate glass ceiling smasher.   A brusk Russian jew she has huge charisma facilitating the delightful way she has of cutting through the crap to get to where and what people are interested.  One feels that if anybody can, Fern can.

Interviews with Donna Karan, Polly Mellen, Tom Ford, Andre Leon Talley, Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang charting the genesis of their personal style, describing the homes where they were brought up, the relationships they had with their parents and their personal adventures within the fashion industry have moved and delighted her audiences.

I arrived expecting a great deal.   In the front of the theatre sat amongst other fashion luminaries Grace Coddington and Ralph Lauren.

The lecture series was announced, Fern introduces a short film by Bruce Weber with notable scenes including his own days as a model, numerous famous names and an elephant Bruce likes to take pictures of draped with naked boys.

The problem with Bruce Weber?  He’s not that interesting.  When all is said and done Bruce is a married man obsessed with the homoerotic.

With his wife sitting in the audience it would have been difficult for any great interviewer to ask pertinent question about the other elephant in the room.

The humongous pink elephant in the room.

The question I wanted answered… like all the others who sat with bated breath wondering if Fern would go there.  The question we wanted answering but was never answered, “Bruce Weber, are you gay?

In 2013 post DOMA this would not be an unusual or impertinent question.  He has, after all is said and done, devoted himself to photographing naked, young, super-fit, white boys.  He is brilliant at photographing naked white boys because he loves them.  He worships them.  Everything else he photographs dulls by comparison.

Bruce says that taking a picture of a beautiful boy is like a ‘handshake or a hug’ I would go further… every time he takes a photograph of a beautiful, naked, white boy he is fucking that boy, caressing his ass, sucking on his cock.  The photographs and films of beautiful, naked, white boys ooze sensuality, eroticism and the promise that we are only one shot away from seeing them hard and proud shooting jizz all over their perfect white bodies.

Bruce Weber, are you gay?

Bruce Weber, why do you only shoot white boys?  Why is there never a black or asian or pacific islander in any of your pictures?  Why do people like Grace Coddington or Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren let you get away with this appalling racism?

Bruce Weber, have you (like Terry Richardson) ever used your power and prestige to encourage those boys you photograph to do other more extreme things for your camera?

I had lunch with a friend on Saturday who was also at the interview and (once we had discussed Terry Richardson sexual unmanageability problems) both lamented Weber’s lack of openness.

If we are truly looking for clues about this closeted, married sixty-five year old man we may look no further than a dull, almost forgettable story he told about a beautiful man carrying an air conditioning unit.

Walking in the street Bruce stops and, risking a ‘punch on the nose’ asks a half-naked man carrying an air-conditioning unit if he can take his picture.  If it is his true intention to simply take a picture why would the man want to punch him on the nose?  If Bruce’s intention is to seduce the man… then a punch on the nose seems more likely.

I can shamelessly ask to take anyones picture if I only desire to take pictures.  But if I am shamed by my desire for you, I want you to open yourself up to me, let me take you to a quiet place and take pictures of you as a means to watch you do things you keep private… then the implicit threat of violence seems more likely.

Beneath the chubby, bandana wearing kindly old grandfather facade lurks a self loathing homosexual, terrified of clearly and truthfully expressing his desires.

The interview was not as great as it could have been because we all colluded with Bruce Weber’s charade.  If we could have gotten past the crust of self-hatred then a perfectly brilliant interview might have happened.  No such luck.

Finally, Bruce expressed his frustration… hatred even for the democratization of photography, for Instagram, for Facebook postings.

In Bruce’s perfect, elite white world manned by an army of assistants, he advised us that we should take our most treasured digital images and have them printed on expensive paper and make books as perfect keepsakes.

Bruce lives in a world of perfect keepsakes, of platinum blonde golden retrievers bred by east coast breeders.

Bruce lives by the sea, in the mountains, in the city keeping his eyes peeled for perfect boys who may or may not become stars in a world where naked Russian dancers come on seven month adventures around the world.

“Sergei, come travel with us.”

A faux commune of beautiful, young, white men, strumming guitars in the moon light. Warmed by flickering log fires, sitting on Navajo blankets and always naked, their abs and lats and still wet hair glistening from skinny dipping in crystal clear water and always ready for another perfect photograph.

Hush now, the girls have gone to sleep.  Let me lay beside you and enjoy you for a little while.

The narrative is always the same in the cult of Bruce.  The gently spoken, self loathing homosexual who needs his wife’s permission to buy another dog….

I’m trying to write everything down but somehow the past few weeks have blurred into one long delicious adventure.

NYC and back again in the car.

Let me remember.

I drove east through death valley and this was the temperature:

Death Valley 118 Degrees

I drove through Utah during the day which was very wise.  Utah is very beautiful.  Devastatingly beautiful.

Emery Utah 2

You see.  I can’t find the words.

I stopped in Des Moines and enjoyed the state building and the wonderful contemporary sculpture park given to the community by John and Mary Pappajohn, a Des Moines venture capitalist and his wife.

I met a young hair dresser with blue hair.

Capital Building Des Moines

18 Year Old Des Moines Hairdresser

I stopped in Chicago and met a huge football player.

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I spent the 4th July in Chicago. The Fireworks terrified Dude, my little brown dog.

July 4th Boys

I arrived in NYC.  Just in time for the horrible heat wave.

It was so hot I had to leave the dogs inside the apartment during the day or risk them dying of heat exhaustion.

I sat uncomfortably in AA meetings.

I stayed on the upper west side.  A block from Central Park.

Central Park

We walked every day off leash at dawn around the Great Lawn.  We saw beautiful young men exercising.  We, being me and the dogs.

I explored Red Hook and saw a band at Dustin Yellin‘s place called Guerilla Toss.

Guerilla Toss

I met a beautiful man in the street and kissed him.

Sparky

Why was I there?

I had gone east to reclaim my gayness after months of feeling like an ex-gay.   Hanging onto the word queer as the only way to describe my isolation from the gays.

New York.

I spent my birthday at the cloisters with Richy.

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I read from my blog at a Lower East Side gallery and they paid me for doing so.

I met more interesting people on the street.

Michael 2

I helped a friend edit his movie.

Then, unable to stand the searing heat a moment longer, I drove to Sayville taking the first ferry to Fire Island.  The Pines.

I rented a small house on Cedar Walk but didn’t spend any time there at all.

From the moment I arrived I had one extraordinary experience after another.

Pines Domestic Life

I met cool people,  and coveted their things.

Beautiful FIP crockery

I was invited into their homes and onto their yachts, I met their friends and ate their food.  I returned their hospitality by paying for them as and when they would let me.

I walked to Cherry Grove where I had breakfast with John Walters.

I had dinner with Andy Tobias…

Andy Tobias

… in my favorite Fire Island Pines home.

My Favorite FIP House

Duncan Roy

I met a gang of charming gay men from NYC who were kind and considerate.

I spent time with all of them in the city once I returned.

This one is called Jon.

John Stevens Naked

As I let myself fall into the gay Fire Island days I began to remember how much fun being gay is.  Even if I was sober and a little bit older.

I walked the beach.

Fire Island Pines Beach

I had a huge old man crush on this beautiful boy:

Ian

Who worked here:

FIP Barman

I saw Justin Bond.

Justin Bond an Joan Fontein

I looked in at the house where we lived for so many years.

Grey Gardens FIP

And I met more men.

Blue Eyes

I spent time on my own.  I found an abandoned cock ring on the board walk.

Abandoned Cock Ring

I walked miles of boardwalks with the dogs who came home covered in tiny ticks.

Boardwalk Fire Island Pines

I finally met a beautiful man who left for India but lives in Paris who stole my head/heart.

I was so god damned happy.

The morning after the Pines Party I prepared to leave.

The Morning after the Pines Party

After ten days I took the ferry, then another ferry to Provincetown.

Provincetown Beach

I rented a small apartment on the beach and met more men.

Beautiful Man

I hung with my friend Benoit Denizet Lewis but the sparkle that used to exist between us has gone.

Benoit Denizet Lewis

We explored the graveyard.  We found Norman Mailer’s grave and a pretty headstone with a small dog carved into it.

Dog Grave

I ate a great deal but didn’t put on any weight as I walked so many miles every day.

I found this beautiful ceramic mirror frame:

Owl Mirror Frame Provincetown

I met more men.

Bulgarian Boat Boy

Eventually I drove back to New York and stayed with friends.  This is their view:

NYC View

I partied with Jeremy Kost…

…and his friend.

I had dinner with Dan at Mary’s Fish Camp.

Dan Hyman

I had dinner with Thom at my club on the roof by the pool:

Thom

I wore this chic watch:

Rolex

We worked on my film.

Franck in the office

Then, after another week in the city I took the car all the way home again.

I met a hitch hiker who travelled all the way to California.  His name is Albert.

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I stayed in The Lincoln Hotel in Chicago.

Bartender

Christian

I stayed in Denver.

Zach

I stayed in Utah.

We drove from Cedar City to LA in half a day.

We drove up the mountain in Malibu, up the drive and finally slept in our own bed.

It has been misty and cool.

Malibu Marine Layer

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My final days in Petrolia.  I’m home now.  The exhausting 11 hour drive.

Stopped in San Francisco for lunch.

We must have climbed the steep hill to Alexander Cockburn‘s Tower ten times a day, getting ready for Daisy’s first paying guests.

By the time we were finished it looked magnificent.  Beating rugs like Victorian chamber maids.  Oiling the redwood kitchen.  Making beds with fresh white linen.  Sweeping cobwebs off the windows.

Giving succor to the inner butler that lurks within.

Here is the sculpture that decorates the path:

Here are the fossilized fish that decorate the bathroom:

Here are random pictures I failed to publish earlier:

Hand on a Thousand Years Living Thing

Driving through the last remaining Redwood Forest in California.  Sequoia.  Only 5% remain.  Strange birds calling out to each other, echoing… high above us.  A vast cathedral of magnificent trees.  The oldest living things on the planet.  Awed by the spectacle.  Out of the car.  8am.  I touched one of them.  I expected it to speak to me.

The Wild Cat

Humboldt County.  Lost Coast.  The Wild Cat.

I let the dogs out into the beautiful garden.  The Little Dog caught and killed a large rat in the orchard.  Dude tore it out of his mouth and shook it until its guts were all over his red fur.

They looked very pleased with their murderous selves.

Daisy and I huffed and puffed up the steep hill to The Tower.

Her father collaborated with local craftsman to build this beautiful space.

Originally built to disguise two ten thousand gallon tanks fed by spring water this tower can now be rented (click here) on Airbnb.

Alexander died less than a year ago.  It is a strange and wonderful experience living in his comfortable home.

We have been exploring.

All weekend we dropped in at community events: private and public parties.

The Mattole River Restoration cookout and dance, a wonderful wedding anniversary party where they made their own Grappa in a copper still.  A young cook from Oakland roasted pig and served it by an open fire under white canvas awnings.

The following day they called us to taste the gin they had just made in the same still.

Last night a local intellectual cooked us home-grown free range chicken and home-made pink grapefruit sorbet.

On Sunday morning we bought basil mayonnaise, catnip and tomato starts from the Petrolia Farmers Market.

Mattole Restoration Project Party

Young Chef

Anniversary Party

Petrolia Farmers Market Painted Map

Most of the Lost Coast is designated wilderness within the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park and the King Range National Conservation Area.

Remote beaches backed up by steep cliffs and mountains.

King’s Peak reaches an elevation of 4,088 feet only three miles from the Pacific Ocean.

The King Range has risen 66 feet in the last 6,000 years due to the meeting of three tectonic plates: North American, Pacific, and Juan de Fuca, just off the white cap coast.

The land on the North American plate is being piled rapidly upward.

Its grey crumbly sandstone creating beaches of pristine, black sand.

On the beach we meet a few passers-by.  We meet hikers who, by law, keep their food in locked plastic containers.  Bear proof.  The containers looked like the barrels atomic waste is stored in.

We needed cleaning supplies.  We drive an hour to get them.

The road from Petrolia to the Victorian town of Ferndale is perhaps one of the most beautiful roads I have ever traveled.

Hogweed, ancient ferns and Douglas Fir.

Ferndale was founded by Danish settlers.  The 19th century houses are really well-preserved.  The history of the town inextricably linked to tinned salmon and logging, both of which have gone forever.

The trees cut down, the salmon extinct.

We saw two huge trucks loaded with old growth tree trunks but apparently they come from small ‘sustainable’ forests.

Daisy’s father said:

Start with the word “sustainable.” These days fund-raisers and grant-writers string it round each sentence like an adjectival fanny pack, bulging with self-congratulation. Mostly, the term is meaningless or a vague expression of hope. In the case of timber, it’s a haphazard and often highly debatable designation that amounts to little more than a vague pledge that the timber is not virgin old growth.

We stop in at the lumber yard to buy laminated boards for Daisy to paint.  We are served by a fresh-faced youth.

I ask him if he’ll ever leave Ferndale.  He says, he’s a small town boy.  He doesn’t want to leave.

I understand why.

Daisy

I promised that I wouldn’t write about where and who I was staying with… it just feels like boasting.

But… here I am.

Staying with my very old friend Daisy Cockburn on The Lost Coast.   We met thirty years ago at Phil H’s house on Langton Street, Worlds End, Chelsea.

Her house/compound is too perfect.  Filled with unusual and beautiful things.  It was left to her by her father.

Her father, Alexander Cockburn was a famous and magnificent political writer.

Alexander died last July.

He collected the most extraordinary ceramics, eclectic paintings and built a tower on the hill that I have not yet visited.

The ceramics are mostly by LA based ceramist Jim Danisch.

Daisy’s mother is the writer Emma Tennant.  Her cousin is Olivia Wilde.

I drove from LA.  Through San Francisco.  The last 60 miles along perilous roads in the dark.  Tarmac Roads that suddenly give out to treacherous gravel.  Past the magnificent redwoods that even in the dark… are extraordinary.

I slept in a huge bed built on a wooden platform.  I slept like a giant redwood log.

At night, I can hear the Mattole river moving quickly over tiny gray pebbles.

This morning we all… dogs too… swam in the cold clear water.

More pics tomorrow.

IMG_4742

1.

Another wholly preventable wild-fire in the mountains.

If only, like the Mexicans, the residents of the Santa Monica Mountains could bear the idea of a yearly brush burn.

Then, every decade, they wouldn’t stand miserably by their pyre lamenting the loss of personal items on the early evening news.

2.

So.  I’m writing my last will and testament.  And, after much prayer/thought, I’ve decided to leave everything to my former school Monkton Wyld.

I am also discussing making a charitable donation to Monkton which is now a residential education center.

The Grade II listed neo-Gothic building is set amongst an idyllic eleven acres of lawns, gardens and meadows.

Designed by Richard Cromwell Carpenter, the rectory was built in 1848.  It is in need of help.  Tracery needs restoring, energy efficient windows need installed and a large bay window at the front of the house needs underpinning.

As a Centre for Sustainable Education, Monkton Wyld hosts a range of courses, conferences and gatherings for adults, families and children.

From bee-keeping to scything to yoga, Monkton’s programme promotes low-impact, earth-centred skills for changing modern life.

Meals are prepared in the house kitchen using fresh organic ingredients from the Court’s own Victorian walled garden, orchards and farm.

The Court is managed by a resident volunteer staff with the help of volunteers and overseen by a board of trustees.

They work to develop and promote a lifestyle based on mutual respect for each other and for the wider community and environment.

Sounds perfect doesn’t it?

I want my ashes scattered there.

Have you written a will?  How many single people do?  It is imperative.

I’ve been thinking for many years what to do with any money I might have when I die and this, I believe, is the best solution.  Helping with the fabric of this building may secure its future for decades to come.

Afternoon Chair

The days are long, hot and sultry.

After the NYC winter the Californian sun seems unrelenting.  One glorious day folding like melting fudge into the next.

91 degrees today.  A rare winter storm this weekend.  That’s what they say.

My Russian friend makes thick black, sweet coffee.  We sit on her verandah overlooking the sea.  The dogs lay on their backs in the sun.

Anthony calls and talks my ear off.  His brother is in NYC with Amelia enjoying his birthday.

A 5 year old boy shoots his 2 year old sister with a gun recently purchased for him by his father.  I find a website devoted to pictures of white children/babies holding firearms.   It reminds me of Somalian and Iranian militia children holding semi automatic weapons.

Here it is:  Kids With Guns.  I just checked and unsurprisingly ‘kids corner’ has been removed since yesterday.

These people, so it seems, are waiting for the government to come and change their lives irrevocably.

Part of me sympathises with those folk.  The high minded elite looking down upon them scornfully.

At 8pm I take the car into Venice and meet Anthony at a gallery called Obsolete.  Amanda Demme’s vernisage.

There are large, moody photographs of old men and young children and homeless people and people of colour.

The rather beautiful photographs are printed on textured paper.  Like canvas.  It is distracting and tacky.   It’s a problem.

We eat meatballs and salad and fresh almonds.

A tribe of scarified women in their 60′s huddle on a $100k sofa and gossip.  Their surgeries performed to be seen.  What’s the point of spending that much money on plastic surgery unless you can see it?

Amanda introduces me to Sara Gilbert and her other.   Many people are wearing hats.  Wide brims.  Beaver rather than rabbit.

I am wearing a midnight blue velvet suit and red shoes.

A young actor greets me with a hug.  He asks me in that way what I’ve been up to.  He knows.  I tell him anyway.  “I read about that.”  He exclaims.  “You’re the real deal.”  That’s the difference between the gays and the straights.

Straight people know I’m a fucking hero.  The gays, huddled around teacher are fucking terrified of me.

And so they should be.

Outside we meet Joaquin Phoenix.  Anthony made a film with him.  I have not seen him since before Heath died.  A flicker of recognition but no more.  He looks like he is made of pale green wax.  He is stick thin.  He looks like a Shropshire farmer.

He said to Anthony,  “I hear you’ve been making sober calls.  Don’t call me.”   We laugh.

It’s funny.

After the show we have dinner at Gjelina with two art collectors.  Pizza and pudding.  Everybody at the table knows someone else in the restaurant.   We receive.  I forget to stand for one grand dame.  She stares at me frostily.

I know what she’s thinking.  She’s wondering if I left my manners in the jail.

January NYC

1.

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 wear my long, grey cashmere coat (Hermes) and fur hat (Dior).

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.

Oh well.

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.

2.

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.

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Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the TRUST Act, a bill championed by immigrants rights advocates.

The bill, which was the antithesis of Arizona’s SB 1070, would have helped stop racial profiling and restore trust and transparency between California’s communities and law enforcement officials.

While the outcome of the fight is disappointing, I am thankful for activists who appealed to Governor Brown by signing thousands of petitions then making hundreds of calls to his office urging him to sign the bill.

Adam Luna, is the Political Director of America’s Voice, a leading immigrants rights organization wanted to share this message:

“While it was a bitter disappointment to see the governor veto the TRUST Act, I wanted to let you know how much your activism and solidarity made a real difference.

11,300 petition signatures (more than any other organization!), which were hand-delivered in Sacramento, hundreds of phone calls — it was amazing.”

Those of us in the immigration reform movement know that this is not a fight which is going to be won overnight and the governor said that he’s open to making a deal next year because he knows that you, and we, won’t rest until the fight is won.

While Governor Brown’s failure of leadership on this issue is disheartening, the campaign for fair and sensible immigration policies will go on.

Next week I will be announcing my very own action against the secure communities protocol that incarnated me and thousands of people like me.

A few months ago a young, gay Australian man here legally in the USA on a tourist visa was arrested for peeing in public (a sex crime felony in the state of California) and held in the Men’s Country Jail until he agreed to be deported.

Why?

IMMIGRATION REFORM NOW!

1.

No. Not what you ‘re thinking…hoping?

I set out at 6am for the Men’s County Jail to see my friend Jeremy who is presently residing in dorm 5200.

Jeremy is a good-looking white man in his mid-thirties. A meth head with a penchant for transsexuals.

He has two kids in Utah. He used to manage an ihop.

He is the kind of character I couldn’t invent from a movie I couldn’t write. A charming man with anger issues.

Like most inmates he is pre-occupied with his own case, another miserable drug dealer hauled off the streets.

We spoke for thirty minutes, I left $50 for him to eat well and I drove home.

The deputies who processed us into the jail were very pleasant, polite.

2.

Yesterday we drove to Redondo Beach where we met with Democratic State Senator Lieu.

The second State Senator I have met this month. He has a strange constituency, ranging from progressive liberals in the Venice area to hard-core Odinists in Orange County.

We sat in the sparse office with his Harvard educated interns. They were polite but they didn’t offer us water or coffee.

Our successful visit last month to Senator Calderon lead to his decision to co-sponsor the Trust Act.

The bill then passed the Senate Public Safety Committee and is now headed towards the Senate Floor .

The Trust Act will make what happened to me less likely to happen to others. It may liberate the 3000 un-convicted men and women currently held on ICE holds in California.

The Trust Act will demand that ICE follows its own guidelines, its own rules.

It is essential that Senator Lieu support this bill.

Lieu is an interesting man.

In his Redondo office there is a huge studio photograph of Lieu and his family lounging on a white, fluffy rug. He is wearing a dress shirt but no tie.

He has been a vociferous supporter of the LGBT community, especially the transsexual population for whom he reserves special respect.

I sat with Kristine Chong from The Californian Immigrants Policy Center and three other Immigrant rights specialists… including a day labourer from Mexico in the Senator’s dingy ‘conference’ room.

Lieu’s people wore badly cut suits. We all began to sweat in the un air-conditioned office.

Antonio, the day laborer, spoke very movingly about the catastrophic effect ICE and the Secure Communities protocol are having on the immigrant population. Families broken apart, 5000 American children made orphans, their mothers and fathers deported.

Immigrants are routinely forced to sign deportation papers or threatened with months held in privately owned immigration camps, camps that are currently costing the people of California 6 million dollars a year

The situation is tantamount to ethnic cleansing.

This state has enjoyed, for many years, low-cost manual labour on which their false economy was based. Now, these undocumented migrants are being rounded up like animals. Targeted on the streets, in their cars, in their homes.

ICE have to deport 400, 000 people a year to fulfill a federal government quota.

Even President Obama’s announcement last week supporting The Dream Act didn’t stop three ‘Dreamers’ being deported yesterday.

I told my story. I told them what they must have heard many times out of Latino mouths. Spanish speakers, their accents somehow devaluing what they have to say.

Listen to me.  Listen to my clipped British accent.  Listen to me eloquently tell my story.  Pay attention to the dramatic pauses.

It is always very shocking for them (especially the starched, ivy league interns) that an affluent white person could have got caught up in the immigration net.

They bowed their heads in shame.

After 45 minutes our meeting is over.

They tell us that Lieu’s support on the Senate floor cannot be assured, he has to pamper to the right-wing element of his constituency. They say: Lieu, in the past, has been threatened physically for supporting immigrants rights. He received death threats.

Pampering to the right? I ask incredulously. Pampering to the right will keep this state poor, our children uneducated, the prisons full and gay men like me… unmarried and childless.

Be brave, I urge him, and do the right thing.

As we are leaving we pass another group of men and women patiently waiting their turn to be heard. They could have been Odinists for all I know, demanding that Lieu hunt down every illegal immigrant in California and throw away the key.

I love this picture.  Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud in Wheelers.

1.

Waking up at Robby’s apartment.  West Hollywood.  Feeling like I have a hangover.  I haven’t.  I’m still not drinking.  Waiting for the right moment…but it never comes.  The sanctity of sobriety.

It’s hard after nearly 16 years to think about the right time to start drinking.

A woman I know from the programme called yesterday.  I told her that I had renounced AA.  “How’s that working out for you?”  She pried condescendingly.

I faked a dropped call.

2.

Saturday pre pride party.  Good fun.  The über gays.  The fake NYC producer I mentioned in an earlier post sitting at his table wondering how I manage to surround myself with such beauty.  He looked exasperated.  Staring over at us.

Pride was a great deal of fun.  On the streets.  The floats have not changed for 30 years: muscle boys and drag queens.  Not very inventive.

I stayed at the London Hotel courtesy of my Kuwaiti friends. They pitched up at 8am.  We ate smoked fish and Quiche for breakfast.

3.

Nothing is obvious.  Just when you thought you’d never kiss anyone meaningfully ever again.

I saw you in the bar and knew you were the one.  A brief conversation.  Kisses, glances, then you pissed on me.  That was new to both of us but so damned exciting.  A mouth full of piss.  Then we spent the afternoon talking.  Eating.  Each other.

You left an impression.   Creases in the bed sheets.

4.

Without me even noticing it LA is full of gay men with beards.

Does this mean that they/we are growing up? That men are trumping boys? The aesthetic is not only very pleasing but means I get looked at all over again. I have some currency…if you know what I mean.

5.

I don’t have time to write this very often.  There’s a great deal to do.

I’m helping those boys in the jail, even though they don’t know it.  Meeting lawyers down town who are investigating conditions in the jail.  They seem shocked.  Young lawyers.  Fresh faced.  Idealists.

I try balancing my complaints with a broader understanding of the jail dynamic.  The deputies are not just cruel…they are frightened.  They do not treat the trans population with contempt because they hate gays, they are confused by the feelings the girls bring up in them.

Ernest lawyers ask how I would change things in the jail.  I am always prepared for those questions.

Last week I sat with Senator Ron S.Calderon who is co-sponsoring a bill in the State of California that would basically abolish the situation in which I found myself.  Protocols would have to be adhered to.  States right to decide trumping the draconian Immigration Department.

I drive for hours to get to the meeting and speak clearly and concisely.  I know that I am speaking on behalf of thousands of wrongly incarcerated immigrants.

I go to cities I would never usually visit.  I am introduced to people I would never usually meet.  Immigrant rights advocates, Methodist ministers.  I am familiar with Secure Communities.  I hear terrible stories.  They tell me that ICE operate like the Gestapo.  They spread fear in the immigrant communities, wrecking homes, lives, marriages, separating families, sending children into foster care.

6.

Then, there is the other work.  Kevin, my incredible new assistant, and I…running all over town.  Putting this show together.  Holding things together.

Today I see the doctor.  No good news all over again. I’m sure.

Wish me luck.

Things are moving rapidly.

My fight against the illegal incarceration of aliens at the Men’s County Jail in LA and jails across California gathers both support and credibility.

There will be a press conference during the first week of April hosted by NILC.

Follow me on twitter @duncaninla for further details.

Also, if this blog is emailed to you (1800 of you) remember that I often add and edit each post as the day unfolds.

Check into the blog for updates.

I will be Testifying at the LA County Commission on Violence in Jails on Monday April 16, 2012 at 9am at 500 West Temple Street 381BM.

And, most excitingly, I was asked yesterday to consider testifying before the senate in Washington.

Look out for interviews in both the LA Weekly and Newsweek during the coming week.

Meanwhile….

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Every dorm in the Men’s County Jail is represented by one elected inmate, that inmate is the dorm’s House Mouse.

Originally called the House Mouth his role is to liaise between the dorm and the police.   He fixes problems, discovers when holds are lifted, dates of release, learns when the police are likely to come into the dorm for unusual reasons and generally makes life easier.

If there is a fight in the dorm it is up to him to get the truth of the fight and make appropriate punishment decisions.

A fight may result in the loss of ‘Programme’: TV, vending machine, late night privileges, even access to the commissary or when things really get out of hand…and the police raid the dorm and rip everything up…we end up without blankets or mats sleeping on ‘steel’ which never happened when I was there but we sure came close.

The House Mouse is a tough job, he has to command total respect from both the inmates and the police.  He needs to understand who he can ask for favours and who he needs to leave alone.

The first dorm I lived in was a mess.  The 5300 Mouse was disrespected.  When he called for silence during the time set aside for dorm business nobody took a blind bit of notice.  When silence in the dorm is required he would call ‘Radio!’ I’ve no idea why but that’s what they do in jail.   It means, shut the fuck up.

In the second dorm 5200 our House Mouse Carlton, a young, great looking black man.  An ex gang member, all he needed to do was call ‘Radio!’ once and there was silence in the dorm.

I made friends with Carlton when he learned how good I was at playing Spades.  After a couple of weeks he moved me into the bunk next to him.  Intelligent, wise and stylish he really shouldn’t have been in jail.  If he’d been white he wouldn’t have been.

The language of jail has to be learned quickly.  If, for instance, we were walking outside the dorm and found ourselves approaching a deputy we would be obliged to call out, ‘Walking!’  which alerted the deputy that an inmate was behind him.  Once, I was being escorted to the attorney room and told that I should always be more than five foot from a deputy.

Many of the the younger deputies came to California to pursue other dreams but those dreams had to be set aside because of the recession…here they were marshaling men who simply hated them.   Marshaling the disenfranchised, feeble-minded, surly, mental patients…I mean…there were so many people in the jail with severe mental health issues.  They needed nursing…not policing.

Many inmates were just nuisances rather than criminals.  It’s an expensive way to look after the mental health of the state of California.

Some of the cops, of course, are unapologetic sadists.  Yet, even though I witnessed unsavory behaviour I had sympathy for those men and women.  They are, after all, in jail too.

We were allowed out of dorm 5200 a great deal.  School of course, outside on the roof once a week for three hours, church on Sundays and AA.  The AA meetings were not like any AA meetings I had ever been to in my life.  Imagine 300 trannies from 4 gay dorms catching up on gossip, not giving a damn about the ‘experience, strength and hope’ of who ever was brave enough to come into the jail and share it.

Some of those tranny hookers were really convincing.  Like really high-end chicks with dicks.  Some of them were just really ugly men with make up and long hair and over weight, crafting some sort of cleavage out of their fat pecs.

The tranny hooker market is so huge that most of them put very little effort into looking like real girls.

When Rosemary walked into the dorm the less attractive, more masculine tranny hookers looked very perplexed.

Rosemary was 5 foot tall, well cut hair, perfect tits, hips…a really pretty girl.  Even the deputies looked at her askance.  Obviously intrigued.  She commanded a huge amount of attention.  Good and bad.  She was caught telling another tranny in Spanish what she thought of a particularly fine-looking deputy.  Unfortunately he understood her, pulled her off the line, bawled at her, frisked her and threw her against a wall.

A big man throwing a small, delicate girl against a wall is not a very heartening sight.

The gay dorm in the County jail is unique, I have no idea if beyond California these dorms exist.  I know that they don’t exist in prison.  Which, by the way, was where everyone wanted to be.  Prison rather than jail.  Prison condition are a million times better.  Nobody wanted to do their time in jail.  There are three kinds of prison, the jail (run by the police) the state prison (greater freedoms) and the federal prison which by all accounts is like a country club.

The problem with the Los Angeles County Jail is that is it falling apart, it is over crowded and technically condemned.  There is no money to replace it and no political inclination.  During the boom time the jails were a luxury used to lure voters to vote for those who promised to fill them.  Now the prisons and jails are a huge financial burden and nobody has the guts or political gall to face this crippling problem head on.

The two biggest unions in California are the police officers and the gaolers.  Even if crime numbers fall the police make sure that the jails remains filled.  Consequently, There are a huge number of parole violators and drug offenders inside the jail squandering precious tax dollars.

Even more galling?  Whilst the police arrest and the judiciary hand down custodial sentences the LA schools are falling apart.

There is a correlation between these two facts.

A fearful tax payer would rather pay for more police and prisons rather than educate their kids.

Just look at the draconian Californian three strike law that keeps many, many men inside who really shouldn’t be there.

It is a totally broken system with too many vested interests.

The twins are living here with me in Malibu once again.  They are dancing downstairs.  Their friend Kevin has moved in too.  It’s raining.  I have to see my lawyer today.  Blah, blah, blah.

The storm passes over Malibu, leaving clear blue skies.  Catalina clearly visible on the horizon.

The garden dripping wet after the torrential rain.

The clouds were magnificent!

That’s all I can tell you.  Is that all I can say?

It has been a very busy month.  With more health issues on the horizon I retreat from normal living.  With art as my salvation I hunker down and do what I do best.

Day by bay, unfolding before me…life delivers one delightful treat after another.

I am glad I am not them.

Scintillating few weeks.  I am happy.  Even though I shouldn’t be.  I have no idea what is keeping me so buoyant…not smoking, not eating wheat, full moon, going to AA meetings?  I really have no idea.

So many little things are giving me a great deal of pleasure.

The ripe figs I picked yesterday morning, the aubergine and tomatoes, the trips into Beverly Hills with Robby.  The California sunshine, the hot nights, the pool lights that I managed to fix so the water glistens at midnight.

This too will pass.

The weather has been gorgeous, the company stimulating.  The future a glorious mystery…the past not jumping up at me like a badly trained dog.

A great deal is going on…but my energy is being used creatively.  Will let you know asap.

Anyway, just as you all seem to think I have vanished…

Here I am.

Really!  What has happened to the London Hotel West Hollywood?

My friends Michael and Yaniv who are visiting from New York very sweetly invited me to lunch there yesterday.

I loved their room which has a nice, easterly view over the Hollywood Hills and a huge bathroom.

Lunch was less charming.

According to the verbose London Hotel website:

Gordon Ramsay has recreated the Hollywood culinary scene, with dining inspired by the sunny, savvy and social setting of L.A. From his Michelin-starred signature restaurant and casual bistro, to private, poolside and in-suite dining, cuisine is truly superb, highlighting California’s fresh abundance of produce.”

The luxurious appointment that was The London when it first opened is no more.  The faux suede walls, the marble foyer, the topiary…has dated incredibly quickly.

The poolside dining was a disgrace.

The astro turfed roof looks a mess.  It looks unkempt.  The tables strewn rather than arranged.  The staff uniform one step away from Macdonald’s, with the ubiquitous polo shirt and a hideous recent (?) addition…a huge corporate name tag stamped in shiny silver and black plastic pinned haphazardly onto the waitresses grubby white outfit.

We ordered from the polite and attentive young waitress, two salads and one burger.

Gordon must agree that the Devil/God is in the detail.  So, whenever I am in any of his restaurants my expectations are high.   Surely his personal standards should be greater than those he insists of his hapless TV show victims.

Am I being unreasonable?

Like going to the theatre or a movie, when I sit down in any restaurant I don’t go looking for trouble.  I want to be delighted.  Especially when my lunch is being paid for.

Unlike a movie or the theatre, however, when I sit down to eat it doesn’t take much to please me.  I have never walked out of a restaurant half way through a meal whereas I often leave the theatre/cinema huffing and puffing with disgust.

Authenticity delights me.  Generosity too.  Appropriateness thrills.  Detail is everything.

It was an uncomfortable experience.

The table and chairs were crammed behind an immovable planter.  Three big men at a very small table.  We were all a little surprised that the condiments were served in ugly plastic sachet.

We ordered drinks.

My Arnold Palmer was far too tart.   Too much lemon and not enough iced tea.

We had loads to talk about so waiting a little bit longer for our lunch didn’t seem to matter.

When Yaniv’s burger finally arrived the bun was crushed.  It looked cheap.  It looked unloved.  The miserable burger sat forlornly on the plate.  Instead of fries it was served with a tiny cup of chips (crisps).

My skirt steak salad was pathetic.  The undressed salad of various leaves including raddiccio dwarfing the tiny amount of steak.  No ‘abundance of Californian product‘ here.

We thought better of desert.

We ordered coffee.  Yaniv was amused to note that every sugar sachet bar one was empty.

It served as a fitting metaphor.

The experience of being at The London West Hollywood looks like it might be full of surprises but ends up an empty promise.

BTW the London Hotel website ‘poolside lunch’ menu is inaccurate as of 21st July 2011.

We drove to Santa Monica where we met the gorgeous Jeff.  Ate a late dessert on Third Street.  Wandered around the new Santa Monica Place.  Walked to the beach where we watched my friend Armand, as nimble as a monkey, work the rings.

Went home to dogs who were delighted to see me and bounced around crying with pleasure.

Must make coffee.  I have desk work to do today.  Need to write to Jake’s lawyer re iPod incident.

I am at The Honor Fraser Gallery on La Cienega.

My old friend Toby Mott is hanging his show Loud Flash: British Punk on Paper.

While the Sex Pistols and the Clash wreaked havoc on Britain’s pop scene, their disciples were busy with glue and scissors, channelling punk’s energy and DIY spirit into hundreds of posters, fanzines and sleeve art.

Toby’s exhibition brings back these lost classics of the revolution.

Later on in the day Punk Archivist Bryan Ray Turcotte joined Toby at the gallery.  Bryan wrote the best-selling Fucked Up and Photo Copied.

Backdrop courtesy of Bridget Riley.

Honor Fraser Gallery, 2622 S La Cienega BlvdLos Angeles, California 90034

43 minutes to write this post.

14 days left to enjoy this month.

33 days until I face The Penguin in the court.

83 degrees at the beach club.

811 emails from him.

16 days left in California.

7 is a beautifully directed film.

10 feet of Bougainvillea to chop down.

3 loads of organic matter carried to the end of the drive for composting.

7 dollar sandwich for my lunch.

3 dolphins swam past us as we lay on the beach.

1 of the twins helped me with the garden.

4 of us sat in the sun.

23 dogs past us as we sat in the sun.

9 minutes to write this so far.

2 visitors from LA.

460 dollars owed to a renter.

6 months on the market and I didn’t sell the house.

13 years spent in my last house.

3,582 blog views on my busiest day.

531o days sober from drugs and alcohol.

2 days content.

1 day is all I need to think about.

24 hours is all I need to get through.

10 pages a day.

1402 Facebook friends.

90 days I want of sexual sobriety.

1 room with a perfect view.

Robby, the twin that hung around in the womb a full twenty minutes longer than Miles is urging me to go to breakfast at the bottom of the hill.  It is 9am and it is already very hot here in Malibu.

The dog is sprawled on his bed in the sun.

Miles is on set somewhere nearby.

Last night Armand popped in and we took Robby’s car and had dinner at Dukes.  Dukes, the restaurant of little culinary interest at the bottom of the hill.  Why?  Mainly because I found one of the waiters attractive.  I met him in Starbucks last week and he told me that he would ‘hook us up’.  I didn’t eat anything because the food looked so rancid.  They had burgers and Caesar Salad and calamari and beer.

We were not hooked up.

Yesterday afternoon, after my long walk with Miles down Rambla Pacifico, my Australian friend Daniel turned up with a bottle of white wine.  I poured him a glass and looked at it longingly.  Crisp white wine on a warm Californian afternoon.

We have many friends in common in Sydney and it was so nice to hear all the news.  I am sure if I just looked on Facebook I could have found out for myself but it was lovely listening to him tell me all about everything and everybody…the weather and the burgeoning Australian economy.   The drought has ended, the reservoirs are full.

We headed into Malibu where we ate lunch at the Deli.  The once very fat man who runs the Deli has lost 130lbs just by NOT eating white bread.  He looks so much happier.

After lunch, as we were wandering around the absurdly priced shopping Mall, a beautiful man with a bleeding dog begged me to tell him where the vet was.  His beautiful labrador had been bitten in her face by a Rattle Snake. My worst nightmare.

I pointed him in the right direction.

He had been sucking the poison out of her face.  I hope she survived.

Armand stayed long after I went to bed.  Teaching Robby how to use his synthesiser.

This morning I squeezed fresh grapefruit from my tree.  Ruby red.  Delicious.

Gorgeous day here in Malibu.  Another day on the beach with the twins.  They are dragging me out of the house and making me laugh.  More to come.   A heat wave with record-breaking temperatures.  I may go into rehab sooner than I thought.  Long chat with therapist/admin at Pinegrove Mental Health Facility in Hattiesburg Miss.

The film is progressing.  We have a title at last.

The heaviest rainfall Southern California has ever recorded. 8.5 ins last night.

The road to my house is impassable, strewn with boulders fallen down the mountain and smashed on the road. So…no go to the house. Thankfully, the roof was repaired exactly one day before the storm so even though my house is probably, at this very moment, sliding into the ocean…at the very least it will be dry inside.

I am staying with J and J and their lively children. Their lake overflowed and I had to wade through sewage water to my ride…where to? You may very well ask! Where would I be off to on such a rancid day?

We throw ourselves even harder into helping others when we cannot shift our stinking thinking. So, with this in my nutty mind, I volunteered as a night carer in a sober living in Malibu. Awake all night, chatting with recovering addicts.

This morning I felt loads better. A bit tired.

There is nothing better than helping those who cannot help themselves.

Look!! Loads of people searching for JB on the internet! Whatever for?

JB…dear Oh dear.

This morning I spent a few moments looking at a picture of us together and I can still remember what it feels like to kiss him. From the very first to the very last. Pity that what I was kissing was such a cunt….and not in a good way.

JB!!! What have you done to me? I felt loved and complete. I will never feel like that again. Ever. Should I feel happy to have loved or resentful that I am never likely to love again?

Today…my spirits are high. Not as high as this tide tho.

Overflowing Lake

You know how much I love Whitstable?  That would be one of my ‘weak tea‘ successes:  my relationship with Whitstable.

I love it there.  I know everyone.  We really know each other.  For good and for bad.

Well, today I received some very, very sad news.  My Mother‘s friend Carol who owns the Tudor Tea Rooms on Harbour Street…well..and this is terrible…her son Tony died.

Known affectionately as Wally to everyone who knew him, he was only 40 years old, tall, gentle, ran his mother’s business with aplomb.

When you order a pot of tea at The Tudor Tea Rooms you get a pot of tea made with loose tea and a strainer.  Quality.

We used to say that they served school dinners at the Tudor but we loved going in there.  Fire burning in the hearth all winter.  Closed on a Wednesday.  Real steak and kidney pudding with a thick suet crust.

Wally was killed during the day on the train tracks at the end of Glebe Way.  Struck by the coast-bound 11.22am Victoria to Ramsgate train just before 1pm.  I have no idea if he committed suicide or not.  That’s what people are saying but I really don’t want to believe it.

He was such a nice man.  Wally and his sister Sue had run that Tudor Tea Room since they were kids.  Since we were all kids.  Serving Steak and Kidney Pudding…opening the tea garden.  He was the sort of bloke you’d see in Prezzo Pizza Place with his young family.

As every Whitstable pub and every other shop front became yet another super chic gastro pub or seasonal/organic eaterie…the Tudor kept the same decor, the same menu, serving the same Whitstable us who didn’t want the bother of seared scallops or poached samphire.

My Mother and I saw Wally just a few weeks ago when I was home for Christmas.  He served us a good old-fashioned English roast.   My mother mocked me for drinking tea with my lunch…like ‘some one from a council house‘ she said.

He stood at the till and asked after my life in LA.  I felt embarrassed to tell him what my life was like in California.  What he didn’t know…what he could never have known…was what I was thinking that cold December day a week before Christmas:  that I would have quite easily traded my life in Malibu for a chance at running the Tudor Tea Rooms.

From where I was standing…his life looked perfect.

When I was a kid we would sit in the Tudor Tea Rooms and spy on Peter Cushing eating his poached eggs.

Poached eggs on toast.  Every day.

My mother accidentally pushed Peter Cushing off his bike one day when she was getting off the bus from Canterbury.

Anyway, Wally was killed on the railway lines.  The third person killed in the same spot in less than two months.  What’s happening?  What a waste of a good life, a sweet family man.  I feel for his wife and children, his sister Sue and his lovely mum Carol.

If you get the chance listen to this Jellybotty’s track, Peter Cushing Lives in Whitstable.

It mentions the Tudor Tea Rooms.

.

Goodbye Wally.

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Meg Whitman has now spent nearly $200, 000, 000 of her own money on an election campaign to become California’s next Governor.   This is a woman who previously never voted in any election nor to my knowledge ever engaged in public life at any level either charitably or politically.

Perhaps for what she is best known will end up losing this election:  the treatment of her Latino housekeeper Nikki Dias.

Only yesterday Whitman said that nobody would remember Nikki Dias after she has been deported.  An undocumented worker who for 11 years worked tirelessly for one of the richest women in America.  Meg’s cavalier attitude toward Nikki has without doubt influenced the people and their opinion about Meg Whitman.

UPDATE:  Meg actually said “Come November 3rd nobody will care about Nikki Dias”

In these tough economic times most people can relate to disenfranchised Nikki Dias and not Whitman who spent as much as it costs sending 2000 California students to an Ivy League University…which is why Jerry Brown now has a 12% poll lead over the profligate, uncaring, miserable Meg.

By the way Meg 2010, smiling that big false smile your advisors have advised you to smile on TV simply isn’t working.  It looks absurd.

Come November 3rd everybody will be thinking/caring/remembering Nikki Dias because they know that the way you treat your staff may say something about the way you treat us.

Therapy at 7am.  Home by 8.30am.  I had a lovely time in my group this morning.  Felt strong and secure.  The sun is shining.  The Santa Ana’s are blowing.  Ashley is eating gluten-free corn flakes.

Dan Savage.  Hmmm.  Still not ready to eviscerate him.  Still researching.

My mother wrote this to me when she heard about the JB debacle/fiasco/upset:

Those who have never been wounded in love will never be able to say I have lived…because they haven’t.

I think that it may surprise some that I have a parent who cares sufficiently to say that she loves me and is as upset as any parent when her child suffers.

I know that she is there but I rarely call for help.  This health thing will be dealt with as I have dealt with any hard ball thrown my way..on my own.  Part of the sadness around him was that he seemed to dump me at the very moment I called for help.

For this very reason I loathe asking for help.  That I will be abandoned when I am most vulnerable.  His inability to help me selflessly when I needed it undoubtedly fueled my rage.  After all, I really tried to be of service to that boy.

The Bad Baby slept through the night.  He is still sleeping soundly.

OK.  Dan Savage and his It Get’s Better campaign.

This is difficult.  My primary beef with Savage is that he rejects that Sex and Love Addiction exists.   Surely it exists if self-diagnosed addicts say it exists?  Addiction is always self-diagnosed.  Acceptance is key?

Listen, my doubt about the ‘It get’s better’ thing is that for so many young men who come out it simply does not get better..because the community of gay men ready to accept these boys and girls is predatory, limited and frankly without morals.  What and where is our ‘community’?

Breaks my heart to write that.

What in hells name, outside of big cities, do we have to offer young gay men and women?   Younger gays, indeed like most young people, simply don’t relish the idea of being identified as different.

This is a country where difference is rarely celebrated and oft maligned.

There were many times when I was with him that I wanted to drink.  Not because I wanted to get drunk but because I wanted to be where he was.

I didn’t want to feel apart from him.  I wanted to share his experience.  Our experience as he experienced it.  Making love after a couple of glasses of wine.

Wanting so much to feel that warm glow that I remember being ever so slightly tipsy affords me.

So glad I didn’t.  Could you imagine giving up sobriety for him?  For anyone?  I shudder when I think about it.

The desire to fit in never really goes away.

So, yet again, fate has been kind.  I’m lucky to have escaped without totally ruining my life.  I’m telling you if I was drinking now I would never be able to deal with half of what is being thrown at me.

Even though we have been estranged.  My relationship with AA has really been the best thing that ever happened to me.

Even though I don’t want to believe it.

My relationship with LA AA has been particularly beneficial.

Going back to my 7am meeting in the Palisades.   That’s why I’ve been waking at 5am, write this blog then schlepping down the mountain to that little room.  It was the men in that room that persuaded me to move here to California.  After a couple of years of getting involved I stopped going.  The personalities there started to annoy me.  I stopped listening.  So, this time, I have been pretending I don’t know anyone.  Like it’s my first time.  Listening for the similarities, going back to basics.  Relearning the language of AA.

It has been a time of great reflection.  AA birthdays always make one think of how life might have been if I hadn’t stopped drinking.   Good God.   I was always so angry.  Every day.

My anger is so destructive.  I wonder if it has anything to do with that massive head injury I suffered when I was a kid?

Even though you might not believe it, I really hate me when I am angry (really hate me) and as you have seen these past few months I am not well served when I get angry.  Letting myself down like that.  Love, it seems, not only brings me sorrow but makes me very angry.  Angry is not the man I want to be.

My real father was a very angry man.  Not my step-father.  My real father was pathologically angry.  My step-father was just frustrated by me. If I hadn’t been around he would have been much calmer.  Probably.  There I go again, letting him off the hook.

So, I shall be off in a minute.  Making my entrance again with my usual flair.

I had my Manhunt date Number Seven last night.  It was lovely.  Let’s see what happens.  I told him about the blog and (you wont believe this) I decided that after this entry I wouldn’t write about what happens between us.  Do I wish I hadn’t written about Jake?  No, he deserved it.  To be written about.  But, I may have learned my lesson.  Some things just need to be not written about.

I’ll tell you this before I keep my mouth shut:

We walked up Abbot Kinney in Venice.  We ate at all the food trucks.  It was really, really sweet.

The house is now officially on the market.  First viewing today.  I am in two minds.  Part of me doesn’t want to sell.  Part of me is desperate to.  I will never have the opportunity to own such a gorgeous house ever again but buying a small place in NYC is perhaps a better idea.

Jerome popped by yesterday and said, “You have too much stuff.”

He’s right.

I spent a great part of yesterday getting rid of half of my books.  I now have a much leaner library.  Dictionaries gone.  Thanks internet.  Thanks Kindle.  Thanks new technology.  Thanks spell-check.

I am not the sort of person who hoards crap.  Everything I have is beautiful and could probably sell for exactly or even more than I bought it.

I love heavy, white linen.  When the house is rented I put colored sheets on the bed.  Now I live here full-time I have stripped off the dark green sheets and remade the bed with my freshly laundered, white Irish linen.

It is still dark.  Waiting for the dawn.  The light on my desk attracts moths.  Tiny little moths.  I crush them and put them in the bin.

A HUGE cricket just landed on my desk.

Smearing jelly all over my balls the radiologist made small talk about her daily commute from Marina Del Ray.

I lay on my back in a darkened room wearing a green hospital robe.  The moment I relinquish my control to a doctor I regress into the womb.  I feel safe and looked after.  I want to suck my thumb.

She must have taken 100′s of pictures of my testicles.  The offending lump is black and solid.  She reassured me that the blood was still pumping through my testicles so thankfully they were not dead.

She said that the ultra sound wouldn’t really tell us anything, that a biopsy would.  I wondered why I was laying there.  Spending unnessesary dollars when all I would eventually have was a biopsy.   I will do as I am told and wait for the doctor’s opinion but in my head I am already at the Whitstable health center.

Dinner last night was delicious, the conversation lively.  We talked Michael’s upcoming film projects and Sharon’s book ideas.   I sat stonily quiet about what I want to do next..I really have no idea.  Michael lives in the Baron De Meyer’s house..De Meyer died in it in 1949.  Isn’t that cool?  Adolph de Meyer, the great fashion and portrait photographer, famed for his dreamily elegant portraits of Mary Pickford, John Barrymore, Lillian Gish, George V and Queen Mary.   In 1913 he was made the first official fashion photographer for American Vogue.

The producers called from CNN again.  They asked me to appear on the same HLN show as yesterday, giving me only a couple of hours notice.  This time I had to have an opinion about the season three winner of American Idol Fantasia and her ‘overdose’.  As I pointed out..if you are serious about killing yourself you throw yourself under a train.

I am sitting eating a full English breakfast at SHLA.  One of the waiters is particularly beautiful.   The tragedy is: I don’t want to sleep with strangers, look at pornography, flirt or intrigue because I know what it feels like to be with just one man..and whether it is THAT man or someone completely different I want to know who I am with.

Beautiful, clear days after the big rains came and went.   I am in Malibu with Cooper.  We are cooking, walking and gardening.   He has found a garden bench where, one day soon, the goats will roam.   He sits there and reads quietly, leaving me up here in the house to write my novel and call Verizon to add telephone services-a most frustrating task.

Sean, the goat and permaculture guy arrived yesterday afternoon.   He was much younger than I imagined.  He arrived with a black eye and a big smile and I knew immediately that he would be the ONE.  The ONE who would build the goat shelter, re-fence the property and redistribute the spring water into where the vegetables will grow.  He looked enviously at the spring and pushed his fingers into the soil and told me how lucky I was.

Sean explained how he intended pumping water to the terraced vegetable garden using a solar powered pump.   He explained how to deal with gophers and raccoons.   He explained how we would mulch the land and work with the subtle California seasons to our best advantage.

He wandered the property in awe and in turn it sprawled out before him at it’s lushest best.  His property, Sean explained, is rockier and dryer.  Everything is so green, here on the mountain, at this time of year.  The days are occasionally hot but mostly overcast.  Still, at 68 degrees a whole lot nicer than grey winter days in London or Herne Bay..or Margate.

Sean has chickens, goats and, interestingly, a small horse that protects the goats from the coyote.  My neighbor Trevor, who lives near the PCH, is worried about my keeping goats and chickens because he seems to think that they are impossible to protect.

The great thing about optimistic Sean was that he came up to the house without getting lost, armed with solution and solution is what I need.  As he was leaving I told him that I was excited to work with him, he grinned and said, it was going to be easy as everything I wanted he had just completed on his own property.

Last night hung at Amanda’s.  Delicious risotto.   Great company.

Amusing post Sex Rehab anecdote:   I am minding my own business at the luggage carousel at LAX waiting for my luggage when I notice that a bunch of 14-year-old girls have recognized me.  In fact, about fifty 14 year-old girls have noticed that I am waiting for my luggage.  Unable to escape I cling to one of the nearest fellow traveler for support.  “Help me.”  I say.  There is a frenzy of prepubescent window tapping and photo taking when out of the melee a teacher approaches me and asks, “Are you that guy from Sex Rehab?”  My voice is cracked and tiny as I tell her that I am.  She then calls over the girls who ask for autographs and photographs.  But, I’m thinking, I’m a guy on a show called sex rehab-surely you shouldn’t want to have your picture taken with me.

To all the young men and women who arrive in Hollywood looking for stardom, this post is for you.

It’s not the very thorough advice I give my students at UCLA nor is it as involved as the conversations I have with young actors I meet daily at coffee shops all over Hollywood.

I don’t want to piss on your dreams, I merely want to help a legion of unprepared youngsters before they arrive in California.  To help them avoid the wholly avoidable traps so many young people fall into when they arrive in Los Angeles expecting to ‘make it’ in the film industry.

Firstly, listen to this.  How ever brave you may think you are, Hollywood is not for the fainthearted nor for the under-prepared.

Read this:

Film INDUSTRY.  Show BUSINESS.

Remember these two important words:  INDUSTRY and BUSINESS.

The youngsters who make it Hollywood, those who get to make movies (of any kind) are naturally inclined businessmen and businesswomen.  These serious men and women want to do business with the like minded and make it their business to sort out the winners from the losers.

Business.  Money.  Industry.

Young film maker/actor/actress there are a few things you urgently need to know:

Firstly, if you live outside of the greater LA area don’t even think about packing your bags and coming here unless you are:

a) Invited by a reputable agent/manager because you have ‘made it’ else where.

b) You have thoroughly researched your move to Hollywood before you arrive.

Too many people arrive in LA thinking that life is just one long episode of Entourage punctuated by Entertainment Tonight type red carpet appearances.  They believe that they will be ‘discovered’ in an instantaneous ‘America’s Got Talent’ kind of way and become household names within a year of moving into what is one of the most heartless cities in the whole world.

Remember this:  You Will Not Be Discovered.

Let me say again:  Don’t come to LA and expect to be ‘discovered’.   It won’t happen.

Oh, actually, you will be discovered but not by the people you expect to be ‘discovered’ by or in a way you’ll be writing home to mother any time soon.  It is sadly true that for every young, good-looking boy and girl who arrives in Hollywood there is a predator waiting to fuck you. who will mercilessly lie and cheat you out of your integrity and your virginity.

This post, I hope, will help you keep your dignity and your virginity intact.

These perfectly charming predators (with fabulously important jobs) will show you their huge houses, take you to premieres and parties but the outcome is always the same:  Another suitcase in another hall.

Prepared to be totally washed up in no time at all if you fuck anyone who promises you anything.  Even people who should know better end up having clandestine dinners with well-known married producers discussing projects that will never, ever happen.

Of course there are some aspiring actors/actresses who think that blowing the occasional producer in their hot tub is a perfectly reasonable trade.  Indeed, they may think that it is the driving force behind Hollywood’s star making machine.

They site Marilyn Monroe as the archetypal ‘career for sex’ success story.

This reciprocal arrangement is both rare and undignified.  It seldom leads to anything other than STDs and a stint in the rooms of AA.

If you feel you have acting talent… think about taking acting classes before you get to Hollywood.  Any advantage you have over the thousands of willing hopefuls who arrive in LA everyday will get you closer to your goal.  If, say, Brad Pitt is your hero, study his life and how he got to where he is today.

READ BETWEEN THE LINES!

This information will help you decide if Hollywood may work for you.

If you genuinely want to be an actor or actress be sure, before you get here, that you have researched the industry you want to be part of.  Read these trade papers/web sites: Variety , The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline Hollywood.  From these publications you will learn everything you need to know about Hollywood, the way it works, what is being made and where.

Get yourself a copy of The Hollywood Creative Directory and read it.

If you want to be a film actor research the directors you like, find out who produced their films, the casting directors who cast them and what they are doing next.

If you want to be a TV actor learn the names of all the casting directors at all the Networks.

See how you can get close to the people you want to do business with.

My low budget film making students at UCLA laugh at me when I tell them to precision bomb when making decisions about their careers.  Carpet-bombing is expensive, risky and often misses the mark.

EXAMPLE:

(This applies only to those of you who have demonstrable talent.)

I tell actors to print 500 head shots and 500 resumé, buy 500 envelopes and 500 stamps. Address them to all the usual film industry suspects.  Reserve all but ten.  Take the 490 stamped and addressed head shots and resumé and tear them into tiny pieces and put directly into the trash.

At least you get the satisfaction of throwing them away rather than some bored assistant.

With the ten reserved head shots and resumé take them directly to the industry people you want to do business with.

It works, it really does.

I used to say to actors, “Never take no for an answer.” I don’t tell them that any more.

I reserve that advice for directors and producers.

Remember, actors/directors, you are the only asset at the company you are about to create in your own name.  To make your dream come true requires tenacity, an encyclopedic knowledge of the film industry and a keen sense of direction.

Life in LA can be very lonely.  You may be surrounded by many ‘friends’ but you will not be able to trust any one of them.  Nobody but you wants you to succeed in Hollywood.

If you have been kicking around LA for a year or so waiting tables, don’t have an agent or a manager and have not been seriously considered for any sort of acting role in a legitimate film production:  go home.

Most roles being cast in Hollywood today are for actors between the ages of 35-45 years old.  Go home have a decent life… then, if you are still hankering after Hollywood, return when you are 35.

Frankly, you will have more chance of making it then.

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Fresh linen sheets.   I love when the cleaning lady comes.  The fresh smells she leaves behind her.   As soon as she arrives I am forced into action.  Clearing, folding and stripping.  The first week she came she broke an 18th century plate.  I was sad but I didn’t really care-my attitude toward other people breaking my stuff is that at least it was used and enjoyed.

There are some exceptions.

I lent a 12-inch Venini handkerchief vase to Korda Marshall when his then wife Felicity had her baby.  They returned it in pieces.  The vase would be worth $11, 000 now.  I wrote to him recently asking him to replace it.  He ignored my email.  Korda is head of Warner Records UK.

I loved that vase, it was a gift from Matilda, Duchess of Argyll and I had carried it from Ardfern in the Scottish Highland all the way home to Whitstable on a bus.  When Richard Green and I first opened the Whitstable Oyster Company we filled it every day with fresh cornflowers.   Of course it could never be properly replaced but occasionally one chances upon one at an auction and would love to buy it.

Still winding down from Sex Rehab.  It feels odd not to have somewhere to go on a Sunday night.   I suppose I have the same feeling of loss that people have described to me here on these pages.   I liked revisiting the Rehab even though it frustrated me.  I liked to remember the process.

So many unexpected doors have opened since I started writing this blog.  Another literary agent contacted me yesterday and I am going to take meetings with them all when I go to New York next week.   I like literary agents.  They are very different from Hollywood agents.  Hollywood agents are like Wall Street traders: crude, indifferent.

I found a short story about the Twin Towers that I had written last year.  I found the first chapter of my novel.  I diligently sent them off to the nice agent Jake B at Rob Weisbach Creative Management.   Now all I have to do is stay out of the result.

After I do the work; it’s none of my business what happens next.   I used to be one of those guys who worried about when he would hear back, when they would read it, see it, make a decision.  Thankfully I am delivered from that particular hell.

I discovered some 13 years ago that my tearing my hair out would not alter the result.

There is absolutely no point in fretting about the outcome.  What will be will be.  I’m not saying that I wasn’t relieved/upset to find out that I had got the grant, was HIV negative, he wasn’t interested etc. etc.  But I saved the feeling for after the fact rather than before it.

The house in Malibu is vacation rented to people from Hawaii who arrived at midnight the day before yesterday.  In the morning I received a flurry of text messages and calls from them claiming that I had scammed them, that the house was nothing like I had described it.  It quickly transpired that they were calling from somebody else’s house.  The following morning, after some testy phone calls,  the Vacation Renter called me to apologize for their foolish mistake.

I am just happy that who’s ever house they were describing never came home.

Goats from Santa Barbra.  Must buy goat.  Why goats?  Well, brush clearance for a start.  The house is situated in the highly flammable Santa Monica Mountains and every year I have to pay $3000 to have the brush cleared around the house.  The last fire stopped 150 feet from my front door.  Goats eat brush.

Also, Birria is a delicious Mexican goat dish.  I love eating goat.   I get to drink goat milk.  Do you remember eating that delicious braised goat on that private, secluded beach with Philippa and Louise on Patmos?  A truly memorable meal.   A man in a shack with a pot of boiling goat.   Delicious.

I have even thought about becoming a vegetarian but I think the deal I will have with myself is this:  If I have grown it or bought or bartered for it from the abundant land then I can eat it.  By the way, I am including vacation rental income in this equation.  I don’t expect to survive on half a pound of plums and a mango.

I wonder how much goats cost?  I have to make these calls on January 1st.   There are over 50 goat-grazing services in California so I don’t think that the acquiring of a goat will be much of a problem.

I have already located a woman who helps plan and plant vegetable gardens.  I have a meeting with her in January so will report then.  Many people have written to me offering advice and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

My lease here in Hollywood expires in April so I have until then to get things into order so I can move back and fully take the reigns of my new Malibu Hill Billy life.

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