The Alcoholics Anonymous shit is the usual shit. The same characters, the same stories, the same mental illness. I sit in those rooms wondering why I’m there, if I belong to a cult? Yet, I never think about drinking. I mean, I’m not looking for an excuse to drink. That’s the very last thing I want to do.
You see, it was one of those weeks when I heard that someone in AA killed themselves. Someone I heard speak, someone I had spoken to. Someone I had lunch with, someone I had hope for. Then he blew his brains out. No obituary, no news report. Just another recovering alcoholic who couldn’t take it any more. I thought about how we collectively accept the plaudits for keeping each other sober yet when a man kills himself it was his problem. His solution. Never our responsibility. He had a six-year-old son. He dressed very well. Now he’s dead.
Since getting sober 18 years ago I have known many, many men and not so many women to kill themselves in the rooms of AA/NA. It is never easy. Yet, I have become desensitized from these terrible deaths and I hate myself for it. I’m sorry. I really am.
This week, I ate a great deal at Gjelina in Venice and these men graciously served me.
Last week I drove to San Francisco to see my friend Benoit Denizet Lewis read excerpts from his book Travels With Casey. After the reading we had dinner with Armistead Maupin and his charming boyfriend. I told Armistead that I hadn’t read his famous book Tales of the City until I got to The Men’s County Jail. I found a dog eared copy there. It was a first edition.
That night we stayed in an odd 50’s hotel/ex-motel off of trendy Chestnut Street. The following day we drove to Napa and had lunch with Gene. After lunch we wandered the giant redwoods in Muir Woods. On the way back to San Francisco we watched people flying kites on Stinson Beach.
On my way home to Los Angeles I met up with my Whitstable friend Ben Clayton in Berkeley, we ate brunch then sauntered all over the UC Berkeley campus. We talked a great deal about home. We talked about our mothers.
Back in Malibu I picked a huge bunch of bananas from the banana trees at the end of the garden, I harvested (and continue to) an abundance of figs and lemons. I sold the bananas to my friend Nicolle the pie lady at Gjelina who bruleed them.
Yesterday, I went to the Norco Rodeo with Stuart Sandford. Norco is an hour from Los Angeles. It was the whitest event I have ever been to. White people everywhere eating nachos and swilling beer. The men wore cowboy hats. The women screamed when the obedient bulls tossed their riders into the sand.
We wondered if there were other gays there. The nearest gay on-line was 3 miles away. I took pictures of cowboys. I ate tri-tip sandwiches. I was looking for bucking bronco Cody Gaines who I met the day before on Malibu beach. Cody lives in Texas. Cody loves Jesus.
Mostly I have been amusing myself in the garden. I have been sweeping paths and mending lights and restoring order. The dogs have been lazing all over the house during the day, finding patches of sunlight to flop into. At night they spend too much time protecting me from deer and raccoons. Go to sleep!
Michael came to visit from NYC. He was sweet and charming. I met the guy with a beard… and here’s a better picture of Stuart. Stuart Sandford is a very fine artist. He lives and works at the Tom of Finland House in Echo Park. My friend Martin arrived from Provincetown. He’s staying for a few days.
All in all it hasn’t been a bad month. It’s just these past few hours. I needed to sit down and write a gratitude list… and this is it. You see, I woke up today and I’m not a hounded black teen on the streets of any city USA. I’m not a hounded Palestinian in the ever shrinking patch of land they call home. I’m not a fatherless 6 year old… and lastly, I didn’t blow my brains out this week because I couldn’t take it any more… and for that I must be grateful.
Latex bondage wear ready to be washed from the dungeon at The Tom of Finland House, Echo Park.
The days are long, hot and sultry.
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.
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.
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.
I agreed to address the cult. You know how I feel about LA AA.
I spent the larger part of the day at home, packing. I bought a coat from RRL. A beautiful navy pea coat with brass buttons and a dramatic pleat in the back.
At lunch time I have a conversation with a financier and discuss tax credits.
She has good casting ideas.
She is generous and interesting and interested. She doesn’t get recognized.
I drive with the Little Dog to Beverly Hills. Outside the church I notice people I know from the past… smoking. People with small amounts of recovery. Limited time in AA. People who can’t stay sober for longer than a few months.
Leading the meeting means that I have to direct the format of the meeting as written then tell my story. The story divided into three parts: Experience, Strength and Hope. How it was and how it is now.
Well, you are meant to have a great story. I don’t have a great story. Not this year.
Inside the hall my mouth dries, I can see the bloated face of a gay film producer who just cannot stay sober and will die drunk. His equally incompetent sober friends will mourn his death. They will say things like, ‘Peter struggled so hard to stay sober’.
They will cry for the duration of the memorial then they will scamper like hairy children to another miserable dying addict who can’t stay clean or sober.
The same people are found laughing at the back of meetings. Unable to take anyone seriously other than themselves.
Peter has four pitiful months. He mocks my struggle or the struggles of people like me because he has never had more than a few months clean. He will never know what it is like not to drink for a decade or more or what tribulations that incurs.
I didn’t tow the party line. I told them what was going on. A public flaying.
I flayed myself.
What am I doing here? I thought. What am I doing here telling these people my secrets? What the hell do I do this for? I sipped at my bottle of water. I wore my new spectacles.
On the way back to Malibu I listened to NPR. They were playing Bridge when I got home. Eating marzipan mice.
The speaker of the Ugandan parliament has promised she will pass the so-called “Kill the Gays” bill in the next two weeks — she called it a “Christmas gift” for the Ugandan people.
How will she achieve that? There’s one born every minute.
The criminal matter is resolved.
Do you want to know what happened?
As part of a plea deal crafted by the DA and my lawyer, I plead NO CONTEST to a misdemeanor. My sentence? An 18 month gagging order and a 52 hour course in anger management.
There was no jail time, no fine. It was all over in 20 minutes.
I smoked a cigarette outside the courtroom. So did the DA. She sat there in her black coat. Sitting where she always sits. Behind a wall.
Like a naughty school girl. Smoking.
And I felt like it was going to be OK. Because she was smoking too.
The judge said goodbye, the bailiff smiled. The stenographer watched with interest.
I said goodbye to my lawyers and drove to Venice.
I had a lot of thinking to do.
Her name was Natalie Volk. She was very apologetic. Her husband got out of the car. Natalie must have been 80 years old, he was older. She touched the back of the car to make sure it wasn’t all a bad dream.
We exchanged personal details. I’m not going to call her insurance people. I know what they’ll do to her. How punitive they can be.
I paid for their gas. I made it seem like a terrible imposition.
Absurdly, I didn’t want other people to think I was being hijacked.
I went to buy myself a soda. The woman at the checkout said, “That was really kind of you, they were homeless.” She smiled and said, “I’ll pay for your soda.”
I felt badly that I hadn’t been kinder to the homeless women.
On my way out of the service station I saw the most beautiful black man. A solid wall of muscle. He was walking up Lincoln Avenue. I circled around until I found him. I stopped the car and asked him what he was doing.
I dropped him off at his apartment. He invited me into his empty place.
At 5am I drove him to the gym where he worked.
Perhaps I should have given him more? More than a chai latte?
As I drove home up the PCH. Looking over the Pacific Ocean. I thought about the previous day.
All that public money wasted. All that time taken by highly paid District Attorneys, Attorneys who could have been solving real crimes.
Money that could be spent repairing a local school. Money that could have been spent investigating white-collar crimes.
I was listening to John Martyn. Solid Air. Synthesized sea gulls. A heartbeat. My heart is still beating.
Whatever may happen. How ever bad it gets. It is is up to you… yes you… you can turn the worst things that happen into the most extraordinary adventure.
As anyone who has a creative bone in their body knows, to carve something artful out of wherever you find yourself… well. It’s up to you.
So, it was no coincidence that, after I spoke to the reporter about The Trust Act, after my involved and specific conversation with the lawyer, after I had recorded the Youtube video….
I sat down at my desk and rewrote the ending of my script.
What a killing crime this love can be.
This is for you Daddy. You bad, bad man.
On Friday at 10am I will stand before you all again, on your televisions, in your newspapers, sparking up the internet.
Damning the authority.
On behalf of the brown people.
And after it is all over? I am left on my own. Well, that’s not entirely true. Because I have you.
I want to tell you about my neck. The arthritis in my neck. The arthritis that makes my arms numb. My fingers tingle.
I am pleased not to share that with anyone.
The audience is singing along with the familiar tune.
It is 2am. The dog is farting. He’ll want to go out in the middle of the night.
I am obsessed with my Tumblr account.
Sitting with 12 year old Hannah learning how to do it properly.
Sitting up all night searching for images, videos, quotes from a long life.
Constructing a narrative where all events harmonize. Where color and texture blend from one image to another. Telling public and private stories simultaneously.
As for the rest? My other life?
I had tea with a producer on Friday ostensibly to talk about my new film…then unexpectedly he asked me to read a script which they are looking for a director.
I drove back up the 10…happy, joyous and free. Perhaps the hell of the last two years is truly coming to an end?
Dinner in Venice, then bumped into my ‘friend with benefits’. He said, although drunk, that he was embarrassed to introduce me to his friends because I am so much older. I told him that was like me being embarrassed by his being a jew or gay…I walked away. He’s a kid. What do I expect?
He needs to learn to own his own life.
I explained to Robby why I was feeling so optimistic, hours before the script was mentioned. Looking out over LA from the 13th floor.
I explained why seeing the man I once loved in love was so reassuring.
To be excluded from the life of one for whom I had been so instrumental…had driven me insane.
The emotional investment in another, even when that relationship changes into something else…well…one is always looking to recoup.
The dividend…was to see him happy. I saw irrefutable evidence that all our hard and painful, beautiful and passionate time together…was worth it.
I don’t need, nor do I deserve to have the enduring love of another to make me happy…all I needed to know was that he, he who I love…was loved.
It is very simple to me…though confusing for most.
My ‘failed relationship’ has meaning now. A context.
During the past two years I have written so often about finding peace. Peace and understanding. This is it! I announced grandly…this is the peace I have been searching for! Well, I was wrong.
It was merely an illusion. A false hope. The glaring eyes of many storms…a momentary peace…which I mistakenly assumed would last. The 100 foot waves continued to break over the bow and I was lost again.
Seeing those two men pressed together, harmonious, happy…well…who couldn’t want for them what I was never able to achieve?
I know what you think…that I deserve what I get, that I am not very nice, that I have been very cruel. Well, it’s true. I have been cruel and mean but I don’t think it was anything other than necessary for us to go through what we went through.
The only people, as I have written before who are deserving of my apology…are his parents and sister who I demanded into our violent storm, who I insulted and maligned.
For that I am truly sorry.
I have no idea, ultimately, if he intended for me specifically to see those things but he must have known. Wether he intended to try making me jealous..well..that’s another consideration and we’ll leave it at that.
What I have learned these past few years is that (in a quieter less public way) so many men and women are tortured by love…in and out of love. Choosing inappropriate partners, chasing hopeless dreams.
Sadly, there is no cure for curiosity.
Woke up early. Wanted to get the daub onto the stove. It’d been marinating all night.
Then, something about the process, the action of stirring the pot, as it began to simmer…broke something in me. Like I was having a rare moment of clarity, sanity…and I felt a terrible guilt for the way I had treated…not him…but his parents…drawing them into our drama. Collateral damage.
I wanted to write to them and tell them how sorry I was.
They were innocent.
Then I found that Avadon picture of Ginsberg and his long-term lover Orlovsky. And I thought about them ‘long-term’ and what they were thinking, or not thinking when they kissed for the camera.
I thought about the way they, we…I…describe what we have as long term.
Long term insists that we take what they had seriously. Ginsberg had not just met some man on the street and taken him into the studio. He had made some sort of commitment. Long term.
And I thought that marriage would be just that…long term. That our beards would grow long together. That I would never ever tire of looking at you. Kissing you.
Then I remember that I am here in LA. You send me a picture of Washington Square. It’s all I need right now. A picture.
The whole house smells of beef in red wine, fresh herbs, fresh garlic.
I had lunch with Robby on Monday. We ate a lamb burger at Gjelina. I drank ginger and mint italian soda.
He has been having a wonderful time. Earning masses of cash, loving his man and roaming with his homies. Yes, I wrote that.
On Wednesday I met a friend for lunch, a lunch that didn’t end until 3am. He is 23, he lied about his age. He told me he was older. A masculine dilettante.
Have you heard of Red Medicine? It’s that restaurant, Jordan Kahn’s place…that everyone is talking about.
We ordered far too much. Each baffling plate arrived covered in flowers or Dadaist condiment.
We ate: DUNGENESS CRAB / passion fruit, brown butter, black garlic, Vietnamese crepe, hearts of palm $32
We ate: BEEF TARTARE / water lettuce, water chestnut, nuoc leo, chlorophyll, peanut $15
We ate: AMBERJACK / red seaweed, buttermilk, lotus root, tapioca, succulents $16
Then, after dinner, we lay in the back of his SUV by the beach and kissed each other until my face was raw, my heart was racing, my legs were trembling. I was so completely overwhelmed that I could not drive for ne’er a mile before I had to stop and beg a cigarette from a passer-by.
He is beautiful. He gnawed at my neck until I could not bear it any more.
So, that’s what love looks like in a warm climate. For a moment. Not long-term. Not to be taken seriously. Just a moment. I have trained myself not to yearn for more.
So, the daub will cook for four more hours until it is tender. We will eat it with home-made noodles.
Mel picked me up from the house at 6.15am and we drove into The Palisades for the 7.30am AA ‘bank’ stag meeting. I could only endure a few moments then I left.
I felt like Ripley (played by Alain Delon) at the fish market in the original film version Plein Soleil (see above starts at 9 mins and 9 seconds) of the novel The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith.
He has no idea what is waiting for him…
I first saw this film in Spetses, Greece. The open air cinema, when I was 21. Ironic huh?
If you don’t know this film…see it. It’s available in its entirety on YouTube.
I couldn’t sit in that meeting facing those scoundrels. One of them told us that he had called his wife a cunt and the other laughed heartily. He was trying to confess his wrongs, the others behaved like Rush Limbaugh. They thought it was sooo damned funny.
So I went for a walk in the now blazing sun. The hottest day of the year so far.
I chatted with a good-looking man and tried to take my mind off the meeting.
Mel and I walked the dogs down to the ocean. After he dropped me back at the house I tried writing, attempted to eat.
A friend dropped by and we meditated. Yes, we did.
Unusual and wholly unexpected events witnessed at the Men’s County Jail included two weddings held in the gay dorm.
The first within days of my arriving at dorm 5300.
Madeleine and Oscar were married before first count one Saturday evening. A popular couple. There was a great deal of excitement in the dorm from both the incarcerated and the deputies.
Madeleine, trans, 23 years old, white skinned, full-lipped, long dark hair, sexy voice marrying Oscar, a madly jealous, beefy Mexican boy with a huge bull-dog under bite.
Hedi Slimane…this is the sort of thing you should be photographing.
Madeleine wore a long white dress and veil made for her that week by a gaggle of excited trannies. It was fashioned from two shredded tee-shirts. It looked like a Vivienne Westwood gown. Madeleine held a bouquet of toilet paper flowers as she walked between the bunks toward her nervous groom. The rings were woven for them, their names inscribed on both. Oscar had re-purposed his pale blue jail uniform to look like a prom outfit from the 1970’s…complete with bow tie.
The ceremony was very moving, the deputies videoed it and then took pictures of the happy couple through the bars of the observation booth.
The House Mouse officiated.
Later, I discovered that Oscar had married 4 other boys whilst he had been in dorm 5300. On the streets he’d also married two real girls and had several real children none of whom he was allowed to see. This was Madeleine’s first time.
After they married they fought all the time. Domestic violence. “We fight hard and we love hard.” Madeleine told me. They sure loved hard…you could hear them all over the dorm huffing and panting.
The second wedding, held a month or so later in dorm 5200, was very different. A double wedding for 4 black boys, Juan and ‘Baby Boy’, Reggie and Steve. The service was very moving. Ex Marine Juan and ‘Baby Boy’ really loved each other. Reggie and Steve…not so much.
Juan and ‘Baby Boy’ made their vows and cried. Juan read an extravagant love poem. “Baby Boy’ cried some more. A huge cheer erupted as they were pronounced husband and husband.
After the short ceremony we ate a huge nacho spread on an abandoned top bunk. I was the only white guest.
That night bunks are pushed together creating comfortable double beds, illegal ‘tents’ made of old sheets are hung around the bottom bunk for privacy and voila, the happy home is complete.
Reggie and Steve separated after a violent clash. Bleeding noses, being torn apart by opposing groups of friends, then separated for ever into different dorms.
‘Baby Boy’ was released, leaving poor Juan to mope about the dorm until he found another boy to bunk with.
As I mentioned before, the bond that exists between these jail house gay boys/trannies can lead to unexpected consequences. Unable to leave their loved ones behind couples reunite by forcing an unnecessary arrest. Occasionally, however, by the time the released returns…their boy friend, the love of their life, has found someone else.
There sure was a great deal of fucking in the dorm. The craziest couple, Kenyatta and Andrew, could not keep their hands off each other. They fucked all day and all night. She was a fun, feminine black trans accused of hit and run, he was a masculine latino boy with no personality. She fucked him. He couldn’t say no.
Coffee in Venice yesterday. Lunch with lawyer. Cooked dinner, boiled brisket, Brussels sprouts, snap peas and quinoa.
Ate a cup cake at midnight…bad mistake…up all night vomiting. Can’t eat rich food yet.
The one that JB and I were working on.
It got me to thinking about shame and how most people (some people) have done things that they are ashamed of, unwilling to admit to, unwilling to own. Even my Christian aunt admitted an unspeakable horror (to her mind) from which she still reels.
That’s how organizations like the Scientologists enslave their members…by getting them to admit their darkest secrets then threatening them with unsightly revelations unless the game is played their way.
I know a sex addiction ‘therapist’ like that. He knows a little bit too much about powerful people…and lives a good life on the back of their venal sin.
As I have mentioned before…gay people tend, once out, to jettison or rather speak more freely about subjects others may find taboo. We must have always been like this…hence shame based organizations like the church…out lawed us. If they can’t shame you into submission…well, what’s the point of your existence?
Gay people in the christian warrior church, the republican party and signing up for the super chic nazis. I am being ironic.
I never really understood the appeal.
Anyhow, lets hope that the film Shame is good…and not sensational or stupid. I think Steve is the kind of guy who can get this right. The trailer is very worthy….very serious.
Sex conduct is a touchy theme…as we found out.
We had tried returning a Mighty Mule 500 automatic gate opener at Home Depot but they refused our request claiming that I needed the ‘box it was sold in’. Who keeps every box for everything they ever bought? When I asked the manager this questions he said, “I keep all my shoe boxes.” It was a lame reply.
I called the Mighty Mule people, the Southern man at the other end of the fractured cell phone line told me that my Mighty Mule 500 was still under warranty but I would have to pay the expensive postage to return it.
Frustrated with his reply I said, “Oh God!“
The man at the other end of the phone said, “Don’t swear at me.”
“I didn’t swear.”
“You used the G-O-D word.” He spelled out the word God.
“Since when has the word God been a swear word?”
“If you don’t stop swearing at me I’ll terminate this call.” His southern drawl smearing the words into a verbal paste.
“I’m not fucking swearing.”
“You fucking cunt.”
The Home Depot security guard who had been listening to me speaking on the phone stepped tentatively toward me. We left. The defective, un-boxed Might Mule 500 gate opener in the back of the car.
Apparently today is blasphemy day.
Later that afternoon as the sun began to set we were in the car driving over the Santa Monica Mountains and I said, “Do you think it’s odd that I enjoy spending my time with a twenty-one year old than with almost anyone my own age.” He said, “Do you think it’s weird that I enjoy spending time with a fifty year old more than people my own age?”
We laughed at how our perfection would always be denied.
He is perfection.
I spent another night at the house of the troubled child who had, earlier in the day, run away from home. When he returned home late that night he was ashen, fried, wasted…what could his parents do?
Art Platform, Pacific Standard Time and most other LA art events start today. I am attempting to get to most of them. Will keep you in the loop.
The decorators started work repairing the huge mess left by the renters yesterday. I will tell you more about that tomorrow. It’s a story I have been keeping under my hat. Now is maybe the time to reveal all.
- Pacific Standard Time finally here (laobserved.com)
- Pacific Standard Time : Jason Schwartzman Celebrates John Baldessari [Video] (scaryideas.com)
I had no idea yesterday was Monday. That’s embarrassing isn’t it? I genuinely thought it was Sunday.
Robby and I kayaked for a mile or so with the Little Dog. It was beautiful. From the Piette’s Malibou Lake, up an unnamed tributary. Our navigational skills left a little to be desired but we had a great time. It was beautiful paddling under the weeping willow to the Paramount Ranch and back again.
The rest of the day I hung out with the twins. Trying to finish my novel. Jennifer’s mother kept trying to talk to me as I was writing.
Max came home from school. The previous day three squad cars came to see him after he smashed the stained glass window in their front door. When the police arrived he escaped on a boat across the lake. My kind of adolescent.
He took the boat, hitched a ride to the local CVS where he bought himself a sleeping bag thinking he could sleep rough. Sadly, for him, it began to rain so he called his parents and they came and scooped him up.
Rather exciting adventure for a 13-year-old boy? A bit distressing for the parents but I rather like watching the adventure he is having. It reminds me of my own. I KNOW that I shouldn’t encourage him. I really hope that he comes live with me in September.
Later the twins and I went to Trader Joes where mama bear bought his lil family food for the week. Everybody thinks that the boys are my sons. Funny.
A couple of pics from the w/end: