Archives for category: Queer

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Milo Yiannopoulos is a loathsome proto fascist.  A disruptor, a camp agitator.  To the gays, he is too familiar. We all know men like Milo.  When gay men are together… in private, competing for attention, without the prying female gaze, without the heterosexual male laughing like a hyena at things he can only guess are funny, men like Milo reveal themselves.  Milo is the club bitch, the bar cunt, the gym queen… who, without introduction nor provocation will tear you down and if you let him… dismember you with a single word.  He will not hesitate to identify and mercilessly unravel your most tender vulnerability what ever they may be.  He is the gay guy who unrelentingly critiques your clothes, your teeth, your abs… and worst of all?  He is every gay man I know.  He is inexorably cruel.  Straight people think caustic homosexuals, diluted for mass consumption, are funny and unique.  Successful gay entertainers like Dan Savage, Graham Norton and Alan Carr delight heterosexuals with their cutting jibes, a crippling aside masked with a cheeky grin… and the genesis of their humor?  Self-defense. Ironically, these skills are honed to protect ourselves from each other, from other gays, the queens, from men like Milo.  From you and me.

Do you remember the first queen you ever met? How exotic and frightening they were? Sitting at the bar.  How they crossed their legs, sipped their cocktail, do you remember how they looked at you?  

Milo, Hamish Bowles and I are all from the same cathedral city (and there about) of Canterbury in Kent, England.  Until Milo pitched his tent in the USA I never expected a gay man like him to get any traction.  I mean, have you heard him?  How could anyone take him seriously?  He’s a fool… but his campy insurrection and anti politically correct message were enthusiastically embraced by the Alt Right. Now, like some swishy Pines faggot bowling down Fire Island Boulevard high on meth, talking loudly to himself… he has leapt from the gay swamp into our consciousness.

Yesterday, however, an old radio interview surfaced in which Milo was accused, by his liberal detractors, of condoning child rape.  Listening to the interview it became obvious to me that he was describing, albeit in his usual flamboyant, incendiary way, a very common experience for many gay teens.  Overwhelmed with hormones and hornyness, unable to have sexual contact with our peers… he confessed as a boy he had consensual sex with men.

Milo perfectly described my experience as a gay teen and I’m sure we share this formative experience with many thousands of other gay men.  I was sexually voracious, just like most teen boys but without any kind of outlet.  Comforting myself with a cocktail of shame and confusion.  Remember, when I was born homosexuality was illegal.  Like millions of others I was… born a criminal.  I came out at 13.  Making criminal sex choices as a young boy seemed perfectly understandable.  What choice did I have?  Only recently have people like me been pardoned by our government for being gay, and those who suffered in prison their records expunged.

Since Milo’s implosion the gay liberal media have kept extraordinarily quiet. It was easy to condemn Milo for hating on the trans, not so easy to shame him for his first time.  What will happen if they tell their story of the older man who showed them the way?  They might end up like Milo.

On Facebook, defending my own experience as a gay teen fucking men in their 30’s I was attacked by a straight women radio commentator and several straight men who refused to acknowledge that my sexperience is vastly difference from theirs.  They insisted I had been preyed upon by pedophiles.  They felt ‘sad’ that I didn’t understand I was a ‘victim’. They implied that unless I condemned the men I had sex with I colluded with all pedophiles.  They were looking for an angle to bring me down. One of them called me a ‘narcissistic fag’.  “If you are not a victim then you are a perpetrator,” they said.  When I defended myself they told me how angry I was and how I should get help.  Yeah, I thought… I’ve been seeking help for years to get over the trauma of being mercilessly bullied by straight people and their stringent anti gay laws. Who wouldn’t be angry if every time they held their lover’s hand in the street they risked a fatal blow?

I fought with ‘film maker’ Alexandra Billington and some dick called Ed Jones.  I said:

You would like to conflate the experience of heterosexuals with homosexuals but you are wrong and the moment you understand you are dead wrong you can get off your high horse and apologize to the thousands of gay people you’ve just insulted. As I said, me seeking out and fucking a 30-year-old when I was 13 because I was sexually isolated is not the same as a 30-year-old man grooming and fucking a 13-year-old girl. As much as you want it to be.

I’ll tell you the help I need. I need men like you to stop telling me what my experience of being gay is like. If I need help with my anger then it’s because people like you have tortured me all my life with your heteronormativity.

Alexandra Billington I suppose only characters in movies are rageful?  Don’t you understand… you’re surrounded by people who are full of rage which is why we have Brexit and Trump. I don’t understand why you are not full of rage?  You should be on the streets fighting austerity but you’re at home criticizing other people’s sexual history on Facebook. I can’t imagine how dull your films must be.

Hasan Piker from The Young Turks seemed overjoyed that Milo had lost his book contract, his speaking engagements and his credibility.  Yet Milo lost everything for the least incendiary of any of his bitchy comments.   Of all the dumb things Milo has said, of all the cruel and meaningless attacks on trans, women and people of color… he loses his book deal describing an experience he possibly shares with millions of other gay men.

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1.

What would you say if I bought an orange kitchen?  Tangerine or blood orange?  I’m very excited.  The house is full of light reflected from the snowy lawns.  There are huge icicles hanging from the gutters.  Everything is melting.  Everything is dripping.  The stoop, partially renovated, is covered with a blue plastic tarpaulin. I make porridge and coffee every day after I make my bed.  I use raw milk from Churchtown Dairy, Abby Rockefeller’s Linlithgow farm designed by Rick Anderson.  Sometimes I find myself wearing both pairs of reading glasses and a woolen hat and scarf inside.  Dude hates the snow, The Little Dog loves it.

Most days I eat lunch at Murray’s on Broadway.  The women who writes the menu is very creative. Yesterday I ate mofongo, a Puerto Rican dish usually made with plantain but cook improvised, replacing the plantain with sweet potato.   A big ball of crushed sweet potato, bacon and garlic sitting in a bowl of chicken soup.  Fragrant.

There are a few dishes I cook all the time.  I don’t mind cooking for myself.  I like one particular dish, I cooked it last night.  Chicken thighs with white beans.  I threw it together years ago.  Perfect for a chilly night spent at home.

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Using a heavy bottomed casserole with a well-fitting lid melt butter into hot olive oil over a medium flame.  Add well seasoned chicken thighs to the casserole and fry until golden on both sides.  Remove thighs from pan and reserve.  Add bacon to the oil and butter, fry for 3 minutes then add one finely chopped leek, one chopped onion, two stalks of chopped celery and 3 crushed cloves of garlic.  Saute vegetables until translucent.  Add salt and pepper, bay leaf, the reserved chicken and one tin of white beans or beans you have soaked over night, I use Barlotti beans but any bean will do. Barely submerge ingredients with equal measures of good, home-made chicken stock and white wine.  Bring to the boil, cover, then bake in the oven for 70 minutes.  Serve with sautéed spinach or cauliflower cheese.

2.

At Trump’s behest, immigration raids sweep further and deeper into our rural and urban immigrant communities. Friends remind me these raids happened discreetly the past 8 years.  Obama deported millions. To Obama’s shame he deported more undocumented workers than any president before him. He scored no points by doing so with the republicans whose approval he so desperately sought.  Unlike Obama, who encouraged ICE agents to focus on less sympathetic groups, Trump’s ICE directive has no such qualms. Agents are knocking on multiple doors in immigrant communities demanding papers. There are checkpoints on busy roads. They take anyone who cannot prove they have a right to be in the USA.

People vanish into the system.  People vanished in Chile or Argentina, after the coup. Bodies appearing years later in unmarked, mass graves.  Meanwhile, the elderly dictator lives elsewhere in luxurious accommodation… claiming he is innocent of crimes against humanity.  This is how it begins.

Nobody really seems prepared. Everyone thinks the ACLU are going to save the USA.  The courts put an end to the ‘Muslim Ban’ but border officials ignore the court.  People.  This is what a right-wing revolution looks like. The dictator and his trusted generals. This fledgling third world junta.

For the time being you may not notice any real difference. Resistance may mean… adding to the chorus of outraged voices on social media about this trump abomination and that executive order but mostly your circumstances will not change.  

Today is just like any other day… last month, last year, the year before that.  There’s food in the store, the train runs on time, the sewers are functioning.  The big difference for most of us are the stories currently captivating us. The daily drama, each report more outrageous than the next.  The cast of new characters.  The crazy president who you, yes you… you think he’s going to be impeached. You hanker for his removal, you pray his corruption, his lies, his business deals, his baddest badness will get him removed from office… but he’s not going anywhere.  He’s staying put.  The impeach Trump story line is just another red herring designed to engage and disillusion those who hate/love Trump.

My friends are panicked, but I say: don’t worry affluent white friends. You’ll be the last ones to suffer.  Trump is creating this alt right paradise just for you! A brand new Eden made of paper trees and wax fruit for compliant white folk… and believe me, you will comply. This is what it must have been like in Germany… when they started raiding Jewish neighborhoods. But nobody believed it. Nobody really cared… because they were just rounding up illegals, Mexicans. Oh… I mean Jews. Then one day you faint because the gardener cuts his thumb the next you are crawling over a mountain of corpses.

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1.

Acting as an English aristocrat during my formative years I would meet men and women of the British upper class who openly sympathised with Hitler and fascism. So it was I met the original alt right British leader Oswald Mosley and his wife Diana the year before he died in 1980. His mind riven by dementia.

We were invited for lunch, Charlotte Mosley (their daughter in law) and me. In the car to Orsay, Charlotte warned Oswald might mention his belief the British people were still eagerly awaiting his inevitable return to power and I should ignore his delusion if he shared it with us.

When we arrived, Diana Mosley (a dedicated Nazi) was overwhelmed… lunch was canceled because Oswald had taken a shit in the dining room.

2.

“Since I am an immature and wicked man, war and unrest appeal to me more than the good bourgeois order.”

Ernst Röhm, the openly gay founder of the Nazi party.

A young gay fascist, UK born Milo Yiannopoulos has stolen America’s alt right heart. Milo reminds me of another gay man, Ernst Rohm who ‘discovered’ and groomed Adolf Hitler. Röhm ran the thuggish SA, the precursor to the highly effective SS.  Hitler initially protected Röhm from other elements of the Nazi Party who held his homosexuality in violation of the party’s anti-homosexual policy.  However, Hitler later changed his mind fearing Röhm a potential threat to his power. Ernst Röhm was executed by his formerly close friend Adolf Hitler during the Night of the Long Knives.

Like the SA before, the Waffen-SS offered sanctuary to a large number of closeted and not so closeted gay men… (think gay priests hiding out in the catholic church), gay men in the SS were protected from the more rigorous Gestapo. Consequently the SS gays arrested the dykes, the pansies and the trans and put them into concentration camps where they were experimented on: castrated, filled with water like balloons until they exploded.

Kissing, mutual masturbation and love-letters between men served as a legitimate reason for the police to make an arrest.

Gay men suffered unusually cruel treatment in the concentration camps. They faced persecution not only from German soldiers but Jewish men and women would beat them too, many gay men were beaten to death by other inmates. The SS were known to use gay men for target practice, aiming at the pink triangles their victims were forced to wear.

Are Milo Yiannopoulos’s views abhorrent to me? No. I think he’s a clown, Trump’s gay jester who The Donald uses as evidence of non discrimination.  Does he deserve to be silenced?  No. At present, Milo lives on the super fuel liberal censorship affords him. As Trump’s power increases Milo’s influence will become a nuisance to the alt right.  Milo’s campery will prove too much for macho fascists. As Trump’s alt right message becomes purer and more distilled Milo will be dispensed with. Like Ernst Röhm, he will become a liability.  

At that time… the civil war will be well underway. Milo will vanish, added to the vast pile of bodies I see before me.

Milo referred to Donald Trump as ‘daddy’. It is maybe the first time I’ve heard my own particular bent described so efficiently, so eloquently and with so much erotic charge.

3.

For thirty years gay men have been at the heart of every major fascist movement. With the exception of Jean-Marie Le Pen, all the most high-profile fascists in Europe have been gay. Fascism isn’t a nasty heterosexual habit, it is a gay thing… and it’s time for non-fascist gay people to wake up and stop smelling the amyl nitrate.

Germany’s leading neo-Nazi during the 1980’s, Michael Kuhnen died of AIDS a few years after coming out. Martin Lee, author of A Study of European Fascism, explains, “For Kuhnen, there was something super-macho about being a Nazi, as well as being gay, both of which enforced his sense of belonging to an elite. He told a West German journalist homosexuals were ‘especially well-suited for our task, because they do not want ties to wife, children and family.’”

Whenever I mention gay nazis to liberal gay men they become outraged. It is beyond their comprehension. They call me a liar and a fraud.

Now all I have to say is: Milo Yiannopoulos and they shut the fuck up.

4.

My Trump prognosis?  I predict a short, violent civil war with a million or so casualties.  I can hear my friends scoffing, but they scoffed when I said Trump would be elected. I’ll say again: civil war is inevitable.  Rather than ignore this inevitability… we must accept a terrible truth: it is perfectly normal, when ideas become entrenched, for opposing humans in the same tribe to start afresh elsewhere or fight each other to the death.  Nowadays, there’s nowhere to emigrate, we are stuck with our enemies.  

At first, those who disagree with Trump will be silenced… then they will disappear. After a year or so of vengeful President Trump, random acts of violence shamelessly executed in broad day light will be ignored by those who formerly thought themselves brave. Recording these bloody incidents will result in immediate arrest and indefinite detention.  As the numbers of dissidents swell, camps to house them will be built. Our ‘liberal’ society will quickly absorb fascism. Fearful of losing their jobs, their bank accounts, their social media… the people will swiftly acquiesce. They will feel safe once more, hemmed in by new laws written to restrict discredited ‘freedom’.  The police will be fair but feared. We will once again enjoy apartheid and those who rock the boat will vanish.

5.

Finally, don’t be fooled by the black faces at the Oscars this year. One diverse year will not make up for the past 40. Where are the women directors? Where are the black producers/studio execs/agents/managers?  Follow the real money in Hollywood, the fancy mansions, yachts, private airplanes and it leads to one place… white men. Every agency, studio head, management companies and most production companies are owned and run by mostly white jewish men. They have excluded black faces and women from the money, the power and prestige.

At night the demons come play. Disguised as good ideas, pretending to help. The dawn is such a relief. Thank god I don’t have the bottle or a gun. Just this slow suicide: the interminable news feed. The comments, my comments. Their comments.

Dead sinners out of the sky, from the west these malicious spirits fly like birds. A great flock surround the house. They shake at the doors and windows, they want to rob me of my soul. Only the thin winter dawn, mother of pearl, glistening snow-covered lawns can save me every day, restoring rational thinking and hope.

In Irish and Scottish folklore, the Sluagh (Irish pronunciation: [sɫuə], Scottish Gaelic: [slˠ̪uaɣ], modern Irish spelling Slua, English: “horde, crowd”) are the spirits of the restless dead. Evil people who are welcome in neither heaven, hell nor the Otherworld, spurned by the Celtic deities and earth itself.  Troublesome and destructive, they fly in groups, coming from the west, known to enter the house of a dying person ready to carry their soul away. West-facing windows should be kept closed to keep them out.  The Sluagh carry souls they’ve kidnapped, holding them for all time.

2.

On the train, on the subway, at breakfast, lunch and dinner… on-line, off-line, across the world everyone has an opinion about Donald Trump.  Conjecture, suspicion and ‘facts’ muddle our minds.  Everyday he outrages some and delights others.  He is shaking the tree as the people demanded.  He is shaking the tree so hard.  When the big rain comes it will afford us no cover.  He roars into the man-made monsoon,  tied to the mast.  His people love it.

I know folk who hate him but what’s to do?  There’s no self-examination, no Democratic autopsy.  They are still convinced the Russians lost them the election.  The genteel Democrats play gin rummy as if the parlor wasn’t burning down around them.

Oh, I’ve found myself loathing Obama this week.  I can’t bear his smiling face.  Appeasing the Republicans, remembering his first year pathetically chasing bi-partisan approval, wasting all that precious time.  Never bloodying the nose of his opponent.   Delighting the gays by making marriage equality easier and dancing with Ellen whilst he bombed the same seven countries whose refugees Trump has now signed executive orders to ignore.

There are simpering blog posts hankering after Obama.  This isn’t one of them.

Last week our very own unelected default Prime Minister Theresa May made a dash ahead of all other world leaders to Philadelphia where she gushed ecstatically over xenophobic republicans at their winter retreat then to Washington where she met Donald Trump.

Very bloody pleased with herself… conceited and smug, the gym mistress thinks her team is winning the match. When will she realize no one else is playing?  Most other Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings and Queens are either biding their time or have cancelled their visit.

Trump holds Theresa’s hand as they negotiate a marble stair case, she wags her finger at him from across the podium smiling her snaggle toothed, coquettish smile… gently chiding her new fascist friend for his unpopular NATO plans.

Ignoring what the rest of us find impossible to ignore… Theresa May, in search of a mythical post Brexit trade deal (that may or may not include poisoned beef), offers up our very own Queen Elizabeth to Trump, including a full-on State visit.  Mall, flags, banquets.

I have no sympathy for the Royal Family, our Queen Elizabeth is well-known for shaking the hand of any murderous dictator her government insist she meet.  I mean, why wouldn’t she?  It’s an amazing deal!  Shake a few undesirable hands for a life time of state sponsored, guaranteed luxury for you and your extended family in perpetuity.  The British are utterly corrupt.  See us for who we truly are when we see the world through the prism of Donald Trump.

Like the Democrats here in the USA, the British must find and define a credible opposition. Something to interrupt this love affair the people are having with these simplistic right-wing leaders and their discredited ideology… and I don’t mean some wooly, middle ground centrist opposition… a charge against fascism needs to be convincing. If we fail to find somebody charismatic… May will win the next election and so will Trump.  Both of them will sell whatever we have that is left of a good life to the super rich.  Their base don’t care.

Trump and Brexit voters are hungry for chaos/intensity.  They may not know what they want is inevitably chaotic. They have no clue they are jonesing for intensity. Yet, it’s not for nothing we have a reality TV star as President of the United States.  He drives the narrative with cliff hangers, ticking clocks, drama and intrigue.  Every day he delivers a perfect hit directly into the veins of the masses.  If our opposition are unable to deliver an equally potent drug… they will not win.

The Democrats are not currently looking for anyone to lead a battle against Trump. For the time being corporate Democrats will keep their mouths shut.  Paid to lose and acquiesce to the Republican establishment.  We watched Obama defer to the same establishment for eight years and we didn’t complain.  He was a nice guy, he could tell a killer joke and made funny and heartwarming videos in the oval office.  We were content with marriage equality and Beyoncé.

This game of Monopoly is nearly at an end.  One of us owns all the green houses and the red hotels.  We throw the dice, we dread landing on anything that will make us even poorer but we know we are losing the game.  The same player owns the utilities and the railroads… soon they will own me and all the other players. Owning everything means the game is at an end.  Yet, there is no civillised end for this game of monopoly.  The electorate is demanding radical change, as humans tend to do.  It will lead inevitably to mass murder: whether it’s by imperial invaders or tribal slaughter or mechanised death camps, mass human death is an essential part of our human experience.

We will only benefit from the near extinction of humans.

After the great plague of 1666 humans in Europe enjoyed a better standard of living.  The plague killed up to 80% of the population,   those who survived organised themselves using established structures: they found and cultivated land, for the first time workers demanded good wages from employers and for nearly one hundred years the working class enjoyed a fair and equitable existence.

We are at a turning point.  Some people are very angry.  A world war or civil war may be in the offing.  It’s what we do.  It is cyclical, it is essential for the human race that millions must die.

 

 

 

 

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After the misery of the first day and the badly attended inauguration our lives in Trumptopia cheered up somewhat.  Saturday’s Women’s March was far bigger than the inauguration, bigger by several million people… causing Trump’s press secretary to spring out of his lair, into a press conference frantically denying the facts of the inauguration and present other facts, alternative facts hastily conjured up to satisfy his gilded boss.  There were NOT 250,000 people at the event, he squealed… there were 2 million people.

Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?

Groucho Marx, Duck Soup 1933

The weather was glorious in Tivoli today.  Full on climate change.  55 degrees.  Mid January.  The lilac is already budding.  The poor plants are so confused.  If this warm weather continues we won’t have stone fruit in the region again this year.  My friend, farmer Mr. Migerelli lost $850,000 worth of peaches last year.  The trees blossomed in January then a deep frost burned the blossoms on February 14th.  He called it the St Valentine’s Day massacre.

Because of the wonderful weather everyone seemed extra jolly.  The village is full of returning Bard students.  The coffee shop has reopened after the winter break.  I spent too much time in bed perusing social media and not enough time walking the dog.  Director Amy Berg posted a virulent anti Trump post on twitter and I thought… you know it’s not good enough to sit on your butt in some swanky Venice coffee shop stating the obvious.  Take some action, Amy.  Earlier in the day I advised my weekender friends how they might do a little more than post caustic Facebook notes and start thinking about strategy.   For a start, they could transfer their safe city vote upstate.

My friend Natalie who owns the Tivoli General store was crying the day of the inauguration but after yesterdays Women’s March she seemed a lot happier.  I think the march affected everyone.  Sending a really positive message after the horror of President Trump sank in.

In LA 750,000 people turned out and there were no arrests.

I started wondering, if life gets too bad in the USA, maybe society breaks down, where would I like to live?   All over the world ordinary healthy people are falling for a debilitating bout of nationalism.  This terrible and often fatal disease is currently sweeping one continent after another. Even though the disease of nationalism can be arrested with common sense… some victims never recover.  Symptoms include: intolerance, flag waving and micro-aggression.  Australia, France and the UK (where this stinking thinking originated) have all been badly affected. Also known as Zombie Fascism; this progressive disease leads to dogma, intransigence and intolerance.  It is extremely contagious.  I’m trying my hardest to avoid it by ignoring news channels, web sites and twitter. I’m praying I won’t be touched, moved or fascinated by the ease with which fascism falsely promises to solve all my problems. I’m hoping fascism won’t get me, or those I love. My family in England… they are already afflicted.  How quickly I’ve seen my people fall, developing very ugly symptoms then… boom: full-blown fascism.

Theresa May, caught Zombie Fascism a very long time ago.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Americans don’t recognize her name. Theresa May is the UK’s St Trinian’s style gym mistress (Prime Minister) who scored a ‘diplomatic coup’ as the first world leader to meet President Trump.  She is so very proud of herself.

Words fail me. They may fail her when she meets Donald and realizes he’s full of shit and any ‘deal’ she hopes to make with him will heavily favor the USA. Like many other leaders across the world she should have waited and kept her dignity.  Let’s remember, she’s only the prime minister because nobody else wanted the job of leaving the EU. At that very crucial moment after the Brexit vote… the men were nowhere to be found.

Seriously, part of me cruelly believes Americans deserve President Trump. All their bleating and moaning must sound like sweet music to the ears of those who have been fucked over this past 200 years by the USA.  South Americans, Iranians, Iraqis, Cubans, across the world Americans have interfered in the lives and democratic process of millions of people.

Trump is uniquely American. He is their goddamned president whether they like it or not. Most… don’t like it.  Yet, for decades Americans have been crippled by inertia and complacency. They don’t vote, they feel powerless or encouraged to feel their vote is worthless.  The Trump clown car did not arrive by accident. However distasteful he may be, he is here for good reason. To energize, radicalize and motivate the people back into the democratic process.  Evidence of which we saw yesterday.

Governments loathe the people marching on the streets, they hate the sound of breaking windows.  Governments are afraid of the people.  When the people rise up government is forced to admit its vulnerability, frailty and uselessness.

Today we must all fight, where ever we live, with the impulse to accept things as they are now.  There is a new order… but it has nothing to do with Trump.  It is about you and me finally standing up and not taking it anymore.

This is a crucial moment for all the people of the world. One we would be foolish to ignore.

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It might be a good time to remember that many, many people who voted for Donald Trump also voted for Barack Obama… twice.   We must reconcile this paradox.  It’s going to be a tough 8 years if we can’t.  

Frankly, I’m not spending every day for the next eight years incensed and indignant.  The stress will kill me.  It will kill you.  There will be many occasions when outrage or hopelessness will overwhelm us.  If we are determined to resist this presidency we must pick our battles judiciously.  Yet, one of the first battles I’m having is with myself, how do I empathise with those who voted for President Trump?  It’s a tough call.  Last year I had to set aside my resentment and accept the decision made by the British people and members of my family who voted for Brexit.

A desperate need for change is not peculiar to the USA.  All over the world people are expressing anti-establishment sentiments, electing anti-establishment leaders and pushing for anti-establishment solutions like Brexit and Trump.  I’m less upset than curious, less sad… than prepared for a scrap.

President Trump’s inaugural speech astonishingly laid bare his distrust of a corrupt and self serving American government and by extension our distrust of a corrupt and self serving government.  He audaciously described his contempt for the very people he shared the bipartisan stage.  A truculent POTUS at odds with both democrats and republicans, the Intelligence Community and The Deep State might (I’m clutching at straws) turn out to be what we all need.

Part of me is still pissed that Bernie Sander’s fight for the presidency was scuppered by Clinton fanatics at the DNC as revealed by Wikileaks.  Both Sanders and Trump energised the nations voters with the promise of revolution.  They both understood what Clinton failed to grasp: voters were demanding radical change… at any cost.

Hillary Clinton and more of the same was never going to fly in 2016.

There’s no one group of voters to blame for the ascendency of narcissistic President Trump, so we must stop blaming the working poor for this distressing state of affairs.  We must stop blocking them and de-friending them and berating them on social media.  Fact: white working class men were joined by white women and brown people and LGBT folk to elect Trump.

Clinton supporters who didn’t want radical change lazily blame white male ignorance.  My friends assure me poor white people have been hoodwinked by Trump.  They smugly remind me the white working class were voting against their ‘own interests’.

Were they? Were poor white men hoodwinked by President Trump?   No.  They knew exactly what they wanted. 

Voting against ones own interests is an elitist construct. It assumes the poor have interests and the lives lived by the poor are interesting enough for the poor to protect. Due to the banking crisis the poor have been left with nothing. They have no hope, no happiness, no health care and diminishing prospects.   Nobody spoke better to the nihilistic poor than Trump who said: I’m going to punish those who ignore you, who look down at you… those who confused you with trans rest rooms; the affluent gays… no longer second class perverts. The angry blacks and First Nation people who remind you of your cruel heart. The women who emasculate you with feminism and equal wages.

When was America great? America was great when white men were allowed unfettered dreams of greatness as others suffered some indignity at their hands. This election had nothing to do with Obama-care, nothing to do with food stamps or undocumented workers… this election had everything to do with self-esteem and unrealistic expectations. White male self-esteem and expectations. 

My friends balked when Trump promised to stop manufacturing from leaving the USA, how could anyone believe such nonsence?  Nobody.  It’s perfectly obvious to the white working class the jobs aren’t coming back and even if by some Trump miracle they did?  The working poor know they wouldn’t get those jobs. They know jobs have been mechanised.  They know a high school education excludes them from those jobs.  What’s more they have no doubt the rich will get richer and lower corporation tax will further enrich the few… but at least they won’t have to question their own white supremacy.  White men, voting Trump, are throwing themselves off the cliff into the abyss because they ran out of choices. Voting for Trump is poor white suicide, an honorable death, a samurai falling on his sword.

Poor white men have nothing and will certainly lose what little they have but Trump restores their white dignity before they die. If we fail to empathize with those who elected President Trump the pendulum will swing further to the right and our sticks and stones will not save us from full-blown fascism.

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I fell down the stairs.  My teeth are falling out.  I want a glass of red wine.

Ask me why I’m here in Tivoli.  Everyone asks.  They never asked how I made Malibu my home.  It never occurs to ask why they are here… or there.  People wash up where they wash up.  They stick where they get stuck.  I’ll tell you again, when I drove over the little bridge, I saw the Bard students on their stoops playing guitars and smoking.  When we sat in the sun on the terrace at The Hotel Tivoli that first afternoon eating almond cookies and cappuccino, I thought… I could live here.  It’s a long way from Malibu.

My neighbours invite me into their homes.  I’m not shy, I know all of my neighbours on North Road.  Some of them are difficult, most of them are not.  There’s the cantankerous woman with the Indian husband who said she would never allow me to build my house.  She lives in an elegant, converted church with a pretty campanile and an obelisk dedicated to those who lost their lives during the slave holders rebellion.  Her gang of Mexican gardeners work all year maintaining the blue stone paths, an avenue of oak trees and perfect lawns.  Number 14, to my right, the considerate garden designer and her good husband, they were first… inviting me to crawl into their Japanese tea house for a formal Japanese tea ceremony.  She whisks the hot green tea.  We admire the satsuma ware.

An older gay couple live opposite my ramshackle house.  They collect classic cars.  Last summer one of them told me quietly and sadly about his lover of many years who died in his arms just here on the drive.  We looked silently into the inky black tar as he remembered his dearly beloved.  The neighbours don’t know the gay men who live opposite my house or what tragedy happened there.  They were very discreet… until the Trump/Pence yard sign appeared.

Lydia and the ex-mayor Tom, shortly after I moved to the village, invited me to walk the coppice, to a brook at the end of the property.  Tom must be 80 years old but climbs all over his painted lady like a monkey.  They spend the winter in Florida.  Their dog Charlie escapes every night to ransack my trash.  Tom and Lydia share Charlie with Marion, a friendly Tivolian who lives immediately to my right.  She smokes as much as I want to and calls me Pumpkin, she tends 20 house cats and an elderly relative.

Bob the artist, whose work I’ve never seen, cycles two blocks into the village to buy beer.  His slim wife looks overwhelmed, fragile.  One house North.  Occasionally I hear her delicate laugh drifting over the lawn.  The cook, the thief his wife and their lover, the grumpy deaf man who valiantly scoops his disabled girlfriend in and out of their car.

Then, in the last of the Victorian houses on our side of the street, there’s Phyllis and Lee.  She paints huge canvases of naked men and women.  We went to Rhinecliff library on Saturday night and she told us the story of her life. She’s not scared of desire or her sexuality.  She celebrates love and lust.

The current mayor, Joel wonders what I’m doing in Phyllis’s house eating noodles.  He wonders why I’m here in Tivoli.  I bake Phyllis and Lee a banana loaf.  Joel looks at me suspiciously, we have no reason to be friends.  I see him often at the pub, he hugged me there the night Trump was elected.  He sat with us briefly at the Tivoli summer party and ate the free hot dogs.  He and the Deputy Mayor Emily have a plan for Tivoli that won’t include Bard students or noisy pubs or late night buses.  Even though Joel was a Bard student… once.

There are sober people in the village.  I mean… AA people.  The disgraced doctor, the chef and the celebrity bar man.  There’s the obese sex pest who I see at AA meetings but never admits he drinks every day.  He poked me in the chest outside The Lost Sock laundromat and told me I was the devil.

There are people in Tivoli who should be sober:  the newly married couple with rosy cheeks and big breasts who excel at the pub quiz.  They aren’t dangerous.  The woman who knocked over the fire hydrant is very dangerous, the same woman… the same night, she took the wing off another car before driving into the side of the pub… escaping without charge and boasting about it the following day.

There are a couple of women in the village who might do well to forgo alcohol.   Swollen faces, bruised and bloodied.  Small town drunks.

I’ve devoted 20 years of my life to AA.  I am writing about the quasi-religious cult I’ve devoted my life to, again.  The people I’ve met there are, on the whole, totally insane.  I’m very attracted in an Almodovar kind of way to the crazy house wives, the heroin addicted aristocrats, the failed pop stars and grateful accountants who kneel every morning and thank God for another day.   I love their stories, listening to the moment when they were born again.

Tonight as I sit nursing my damaged ankle I thought I might write about how much I would like a large glass of red wine.  Montepulciano.  I wonder what it would do to me or who I would become.  I wonder if I could forget sobriety for just one goddamned moment, take a day off.   Will everything I learned in AA just vanish the moment I drink?  Will God forsake me?  Of course not.  Why do I have to be an expert in abstinence?  What’s that all about?  Why is my success, my only real success measured in days sober?

A woman I know just drowned herself in a bottle of wine.  She’d been lying to everyone about not drinking and I thought to myself… so what.  Have a drink.  Have a fucking drink.  And then I listened to Sade and she was singing ‘Sweetest Taboo’ and I remember laying on Whitstable beach with Matt and we were in love and drinking white wine.  I felt nostalgic for something I had given up and replaced in equal measure with a bunch of crazy… sad people and their sad and crazy stories all because I thought I was going to die.

I have things to tell you, but those stories can wait.  Tales of obsession and ordinary madness.  Tales of greed and random cruelty.  I could tell you about the interior decorator who visited last weekend and his dull, rich white friend I endured lunch with.  I could tell you more about the woman who fell in love with me and couldn’t and wouldn’t take no for an answer.  I could tell you about rotting jaws, falling down the stairs and handcuffs.

I’ll tell you next time.

The Ex of In House in Rhinebeck is an experimental guest house developed directly from the ongoing Explorations of “IN” project at Steven Holl Architects.

 

Jim Hodges, Gladstone Gallery NYC 2016.  I Dreamed a World and Called it Love

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Faris Al-Shathir is a gay Iraqi ‘professional squatter’.  I’ve no idea what that means but Faris warranted a full-page in the New York Times describing his honed introduction skills.   I met Faris on Fire Island a couple of years ago.  He was hosting an art event, raising cash for queer artists to live and work on Fire Island.  Faris is witty, charming and bright.  I follow him on Facebook.   This week he posted this on his feed:

I connected with someone on a dating app recently. We were chatting for a few days, until he asked me where my name was from. I told him my parents were from Iraq. The next time I logged on he had blocked me. I would love to say this is the first time this has happened, but the sad truth is that it happens all the time. I don’t talk a lot about my race, but given the current political climate, I feel more and more challenged. I’m in a unique place, I have blue eyes and I am an Arab. My ethnicity is ambiguous. I understand what white privilege feels like, what it feels like to be treated like a normal human being and be given every opportunity for life and love. But my last name is Al-Shathir and to many people that is scary or disgusting. I also know what it is like to not be given a fair chance bc of my ethnicity. I know what it feels like to be on the other side, the side that isn’t fortunate enough to live in privilege every day just because of the color of their skin.
Lately, one of my biggest frustrations has been that so many people don’t seem to understand that that privilege exists. They lack empathy. They don’t comprehend that it’s a horrible reality and completely unfair. Nobody should be treated differently bc of their ethnic origin, race, or color (or gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, etc. for that matter). We should live in a society where we are all given equal opportunity. If you are one of the many people who feel complacent about this or feels like it’s not an issue, you are wrong. If you’ve learned to succeed even under these circumstances, that doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist. If you feel like it’s not going to get worse, you are wrong. The future president of our country was elected after making numerous public statements threatening, insulting and demoralizing minorities, muslims, women, people with disabilities, the list goes on and on. Over 60 million Americans voted for Trump, supporting his words and actions. He has normalized hate, empowering a scary and powerful population.
So yes, I am scared for the future. I ask all of my friends to not be complacent. We must stand for what is right.

I replied:

Faris, gay men are not great examples of empathy toward each other or other groups. I met you on Fire Island in a largely affluent, young, white environment. Try being sober and gay. Try owning the natural body you have and being gay. Try having different opinions about Prep. If you do not fit in you are treated like a pariah. There’s no room for individuality unless prescribed by Ru Paul.  The two gay men who live opposite me upstate voted for Trump. Our community is increasingly right-wing. As for racism. ‘No blacks, no Asians, no fems or fats’. Perhaps a gay dating app is not the best place to look for empathy.

Faris didn’t ‘like’ my comment.

Do I think he was blocked for being Arab.  No, I don’t.  The gays will fuck anything.  I’m sure who ever blocked him didn’t want a conversation.  Although there’s something a little whiney and naive about the post… not getting laid opened the flood gates for Faris.  He had an epiphany.  A moment of clarity.  He understood (what so many of us already understood) that white people control the outcome.  That white gay men are no different.  That Middle Eastern people and particularly muslims are currently getting the blame for all the evils in the world.  I make sure men I meet on apps know I’m Middle Eastern from the outset and my experience on the hook up apps as an out Iranian is very positive.  If you consider being objectified and fetishized by white guys… very positive.

If Faris believes he was blocked for being Middle Eastern try being a young black man blocked ahead of any conversation simply for having a black face.  My young black friend DP just returned from his first trip to London, I asked how it was visiting a city where racism in the gay community has been largely eradicated. He said, “My Grindr blew up!”  Meaning of course…  white men SAW him and contacted him and didn’t ignore him because he is black.

My friend Adam arrived upstate recently, addicted to Grindr he jumped on the app and immediately started blocking… it made me feel sick.  Sick that Adam might be missing out on someone somewhere simply because were not photogenic or rather… Grindrgenic.  I once blocked a severely disabled man on Grindr because I couldn’t bring myself to tell him his disability was going to be difficult for me to deal with.   I’ve ignored chubby men, older men and trans.  I’ve lectured men about their bad pics in the age of instagram filters.  Sadly, our on-line community has evolved into a series of photographs that may or may not grab the attention of the next viewer.   A few words then a parade of cock shots and gaping anus.

Many gay men are waking up to a new reality.  Faris is not alone.  Gay men have enjoyed a great deal of privilege these past few years. After Trump’s shock election the gays are suddenly aware they might become second-class citizens once again.   Faris, like many gay men, are feeling vulnerable.  They are beginning to understand how older men like me lived our lives before we fought and won equality… for people like Faris.   He berates the community for their lack of empathy, their ignorance of ‘privilege’.  He uses the most un american of terms: unfair.  It’s unfair that white men don’t understand the concept of white privilege.  We can assume from this clumsy post… Faris, like many gay men, is waking up.  Faris is taking baby steps toward becoming… radicalized.

Many of us already feel like second class citizens… within the gay community.   Those of us who are older, who don’t fanatically go to the gym or Soul Cycle or Barry’s Boot Camp.  Try being gay and sober or simply expect more from our fellow gay travellers.   Long ago I began to loathe those monstrous gays who took our tenuous rights and equality for granted.  Long before Trump ever threw his hat into the ring.  After Trump’s win… I am beset by Schadenfreude.   I had written endlessly that our rights, our very existence should not be used by left or right to prove a point.  Allowing ourselves to be co-opted by the left as evidence of a better society could turn out very badly for us.  It has.

During the election I warned my gay male friends not to be complacent (it’s a little late to warn about complacency Faris) and expect President Trump.  They ignored my warning, they insulted my judgement and accused me of ignoring the polls.  They were wedded to their skewed logic that Hillary would win because Trump was unelectable.   But mostly they were wedded to the idea that gay life was a bull market and could only get better.

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It’s the morning after the Golden Globe awards.  I don’t have a hangover but I do have a severe headache.  Ahead of my rant, the first order of the day?  Congratulate Barry Jenkins who brilliantly won the best drama golden globe for his exquisite film, Moonlight.  By awarding this black/queer film best drama the HFPA have thrown down a gauntlet to Hollywood.  They are daring The Academy to address its crippling lack of diversity.  I predict that Moonlight will go on collecting nominations and awards (will win SAG, Spirit Awards) but can it win Academy Awards?  Here lies the rub.  The only two bankable commodities in this little film are Jenkins and Harris who are both Hollywood gold.

The liberal, Hollywood talent elite are trilling about Meryl Streep.  They forget the less liberal Hollywood majority booed Michael Moore after receiving his Bowling for Columbine Oscar and using the academy podium to remind us of President Bush’s fictitious reasons for invading Iraq in his brilliant and oft quoted ‘fictitious times’ speech.  President Obama of course, perpetuated those fictions but did it by stamping out dissent and whistle blowing within the United States.  Snowden, Assange, Manning.  My heroes.

The real money in Hollywood is behind Trump… the power.  The talent can make art out of outrage and in turn make billions of $ for the white Hollywood establishment.   I can’t imagine former friend and UTA boss Jeremy Zimmer is anything other than thrilled by the prospect of a Trump presidency, salivating over the kind of big money he’s going to make these next four to eight years.

I wonder who reps Barry Jenkins?  I can tell you one thing.  He won’t have a black agent or manager at one of the leading agencies or management companies… because there aren’t any.  Until there are black faces repping big money at the agencies, black faces producing movies or living on Carbon Beach in Malibu or heading up the teamsters union…  Hollywood will be as is it always has: racist.  A white industry where predominantly white men control the money.  It is not a place where your dreams will come true, it is a place where old white men will decide which of their dreams will come true using your talent.

It’s simply not good enough to call Trump names at award shows. Yeah he’s a prick, yeah he’s hollow, yes he’s predictable. Are we gonna repeat ourselves every day? Expecting a different outcome? Let’s call him what he is: Donald Trump is the most powerful white supremacist in the world. Riding an international wave of fascism. Your president is a white supremacist.

As I’ve asked a million times before, are you willing to put your life on the line to fight fascism? Are you willing to demonstrate, be interned or tortured or imprisoned? Sooner or later Facebook rants and memes just won’t cut it. History proves that when things get nasty the people do as they are told. However brave they say they are before the black shirts arrive. It’s my guess that you’ll put up with it too. You’ll go on the one million woman march… then they’ll round-up the South Americans in California and what will you do?  Then they’ll go after lgbt rights… and what will you do? They’ll outlaw abortion. What will you do? They’ll shoot to kill and fill the prisons with any and every black man who looks scary and what will you do? Tweet?

You’ll tweet about it.

2.

I’m very slowly going blind.  Foolishly, after many years of  not looking carefully at my plate, I started wearing my glasses when I eat.  Oh My God, revolting!  Gelatinous sauces oozing from the edge of beef and chicken.  Seeds baked into bread.  Glazes and jus and creamed potato sprinkled with chives.  I want to vomit, overwhelmed by the detail, the slightest movement as you press down onto the burger and my lunch becomes a suppurating sore discharging blood, guacamole and mayonnaise.  I am captivated by gravy as it seeps under and drips around roast pork.   Nauseated, I have to take my glasses off.  On Saturday night we had pasta with sea urchin butter and caviar at Fish and Game in Hudson.  Although delicious, I couldn’t fully enjoy it until it was just a blur on my plate otherwise, it was a mesmerizing… awful experience.

3.

The dogs know it is bitterly cold this morning.  Minus 13.  They are under the covers.  Hidden away.  Unlike England which is cold, wet, dark and raw thankfully it is bright and cold here upstate making the day less of a chore.  Our store, Tivoli General is open and there are AA meetings in Hudson.

I stayed in bed, too distracted by pain.  The infection in my jaw getting worse.

The third Monday of January is notorious for suicide.  This third Monday in January will be no different.  A mass suicide event will take place in the USA and nobody will say a word.

Did you know I fell out with Stephen Fry a year or so ago?   I had the audacity to mention the freedoms and privilege a celebrity enjoys.  Celebrities HATE when you discuss their fame.  Or in his case… his twitter feed.  We then had an email fight about God and the existence of God.   I asked him if he realised almost all of his sober friends have a god in their life.  He reluctantly accepted that spirituality may be very loosely beneficial for some people but that’s that.  There’s a connection (if you can be bothered to work it out) between his reluctance to discuss celebrity and his eagerness to dismiss a certain kind of God.   “Stephen, you don’t have to believe in God,”  I said.  “As long as you know you’re not God.”

He said rather ominously, “Be very careful.”

Not being very careful, I asked, “So if you don’t belive in God… who do you cry out to every time you try killing yourself?”

That was it.  No more Stephen Fry.

 


A Fragment

There’s darkness all around me.  Both sides.  Consider it.  Consuming me.  Your death.  When I wake in the morning and retire at night.  My obsession to kill, to kill you obscures the view, softens the edges like a drink, like a cold beer, like a veil.  Then I’m walking in the world.  I am on the street.  I am not where my body is.  Away from my house,  trapped in the sunlight.  Jacarander in full bloom.  Smashed avocado on the side-walk.  Why bother going out?  I could be planning his death.  Planning the end of his life.  Scripting the final words he will hear before he’s snuffed out.  I have to feed the dog.  Buy probiotic.  Pass the homeless black man reclining on the concrete bench.

Franklin, Selma, Cherokee.

The only fascinating thing that came out of his mouth was my cock.  I have a photograph of that.   I wish I had been more tenacious tending my own lusty garden, less sensitive, less caring.

When people stay over they complain I scream out in my sleep.  Night terrors.  They ask, who is Jake?  I shudder to think what I am doing in those forgotten nightmares.  Am I trapped or caught or bringing down the knife?  Have I cornered him?  Is he begging for his life?  Have the tables been turned, the police called?  Am I already handcuffed, am I sitting in the electric chair?

There are no consequence, nothing scares me when the lights are on, when dawn has broken.  As I make my way, steeply up the dusty trail.  Fighting one resentment after another.  Slip sliding past these single people with their dog children.  Calling out.  One dog, two dogs, three dogs.  This morning I counted 145 dogs.  I’m calling your name as I sleep.  Jake!  Come back to me.

There is something inevitable. Keep your voice down.  I am planning.  I’ll leave it up to my dreams to work out the detail.   The multiple contractions of apprehension.  Accept my fate, God’s will (not mine) be done.

I worked in the county jail for the Mexican nuns.  Organizing lectures for the pre-trial detainees.  I met murderers there.  They were so contrite. I listened politely to their stories.  “I’ve taken a life.”  He wept.  He buried her in a storm drain, using a broom handle to push her limbs out of sight.

Culver, Washington, Sepulveda.

The heavy rains, El Niño flushed her desiccated body into the LA River,  bobbing along the concrete culvert until she met the choppy Pacific Ocean.  Murderers all, never thinking I would one day join them.  Wearing orange scrubs and yellow underwear.  I wonder if I will be as contrite when strangers ask me for my story?  Contrition has never been my friend.

After many months of consideration everything is in place.  Everything I need to know:  Where he lives, the route he takes to work, how I can find him.

Hyperion, 101, West Temple.

I have seen recent pictures of him on his Mother’s Facebook.  The way he wears his hipster beard, trimmed in such a way I never knew.  I wonder if his lover advises him to wear it like that? He is wearing a jacket I picked out for him.  Do you know how much that amuses me?  Every time he pulls on that jacket he has no option but to think of me.

I have not yet bought the weapon.

The cast is chosen, the die… is cast.  The private detective, my unwitting accomplice.  The weapon?  Must buy.  Top of the list.  Number 1.  It was easy to find the Private Detective.  Google.  Boasting he once worked for the LAPD.  Despicable cops.  Everything about my failed relationship with Jake was conceived and born on the internet.  It was shaped on web cams,  emails, Facebook, Manhunt, Grindr.

Determined by him.

When and whenever he wanted.  I gave into him.  Until I didn’t.

How and why should a charming, affluent, fifty year old think like this?  Why this murderous obsession?  I used to wake every morning full of hope, like a young boy!  Enchanted by all the world has to offer.  Now I see nothing.  At the mercy of nothing.  Darkness both sides of me.  I used to wake up every morning and thank God for the new day.  Now there is no God, just a black hole where God used to be, consuming everything in the universe.  Sucking anything of value into the vortex.  The furies are all I’m left with.  On the edge of the black hole.

I have given up wondering why I am so angry at him.   This is all you need to know:

Alone in my bed at night but not isolated. The house is full of people.  The dog is well fed.  The maid cleans.  The gardeners trim and prune and sweep.  There are fragrant hyacinths, white and purple, growing in pots on the dining room table.  Freshly grown fruit picked and washed ready to eat.

I don’t expect to get away with this.  In anticipation I have been disconnecting from my darling dog.  He knows it, he paws at me insistently.  He knows something grave is in the offing.  He, in turn, is learning to trust the kindness of others.  He doesn’t want to be left on his own.  I may have murdered months ago had it not been for the extraordinary something between me and a dog.  I am ready to let go of him too.  He hides from me when I cry, he hides from me when I am angry.  Leaves puddles of urine on the white rug. He cowers when I shout at dullards on the streets or digital voices on the telephone.  He is scared by the smell of whiskey on my breath.  He is ready for a different master.  

I am ashamed to tell you, when he first arrived from the shelter I was quite cruel to him.  He was scared and disoriented when I brought him home.  Barking, barking.  He would pee on everything and after a week of cleaning the house, scrubbing the god damned carpet, mopping the tile, the smell of dog pee on everything I owned.  Every time he peed I shouted at him.

He defecated in my closet.   I shouted so hard he ran away and hid in the garden.

I wished he would never come back.  I begged God the coyote would eat him.  The rattle snake would kill him.  For a week he managed to not get eaten by the coyotes.  How?  Packs of coyote stalk my property.  Screaming for their dinner.  He walked back into the house as if nothing had happened.  He never urinates on the carpet again.

He’s not the only one who escapes the anger when it comes.  People in the room move away from me as if they know me.  I used to shout at people in the street.  I’ve been angry.  Very angry.  Furious.  It’s a problem.  Perhaps I am well-known for flying off the handle?  There’s no question mark.  I am well-known for losing my temper.  At work, in situations where powerlessness grips me, I feel myself sinking.  I shouted so loudly, my blood pressure so high, I collapsed.  Shifting the liquid in my inner ear.  The doctor thought I was having a stroke.

I lost my temper with Jake.  I lost my temper when we thought he had been robbed.  I lost my temper at the airport in Paris, Charles De Gaulle.   He recoiled.  Everyone does.  I am a big man who looks docile for the most part.  Docile, until they prod me with their stick.  Docile until the blood drains out of my face, my lips turn blue and I look like an animal.  I know where you are.  I can hear you talking about me during the day.  My ears burning.  He’s doing it right now.  I can hear him laughing at me.  Describing my horrible temper.  Sharing stories about me with his friends.  Laughing at every choice I ever made.  I imagine him with my old acquaintances (friends no more) who may have contacted him.  Laughing at how old I am.  Wondering what he ever saw in me.  My erectile dysfunction.  The white in my beard.  My stiff knees.  

He is only twenty-nine years old.  I don’t expect him to celebrate his thirtieth birthday.

Chris, the Private Detective.  The first time we met, we met in public.  We drank coffee at a large table at my private club over looking Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.

Doheny, Hillcrest, Thrasher.

A plump, sanguine, middle-aged man who is not even middle-aged. Certainly fifteen years younger than me yet seems so much older.  There is something invisible about him.  He is uniquely American.  He is invisible.  He is everyman, dressed as everyman therefore invisible.  I would be hard pressed to pick him out of a crowd even though I have met him twice.  He had no particular expression, no charisma, no beauty and no opinion.

Only when pressed did he tell me about his other clients:  a woman from Pasadena whose husband she suspected was having an affair.  He followed the unemployed spouse into Santa Monica who sat in the library day after day drinking english tea from a flask he filled at The Coffee Bean and reading free newspapers until it was time to go home.

I wondered if I had ever been followed, watched or my movements documented?   Really, who would care enough to do that?  I couldn’t think of anyone other than Joe.  The thought made me smile.  Not even he would bother.  Even as we were in the midst of our messy ‘divorce’.

The second time I met Chris the Detective we met at my home.  He had, by this time, reseached me.  He was less restrained, he knew who I was and who he was dealing with.  He told me about a boy he was looking for, a lost boy.  He thinks the boy is already dead.  Suicide.  “Let’s talk about money.”  Chris pulled a contract out of a black plastic folder and I handed him a cheque for $1, 500.  Discover where he goes, I said.  With whom.  Simple.

Yes, I am a homosexual.  I wondered if you guessed already?  Had I made it obvious? Was it evident in the way that I write?  The way I see things.  Does it differ from the way you see things?  A homosexual, a landlord and recently  (I don’t know how to write this) a television personality from a reality television show.  That’s how I make my money, odd jobs.  Like the downs syndrome boy who lives in my home town.  Running errands.  I am a high achieving cripple.

Odd jobs suit me fine.

Yet, I earn more money than I ever have.  Using all of my potential.   Even though the worst of me seems to get the better deal every single day and always has.

I can confide in you?

Each night I regret the passing of another day.  I lay in my bed and before I fall asleep, knowing that soon my freedom will be curtailed.  My sheets no longer woven from heavy linen.  My houses in the mountains will fall into disrepair.  Friends and family will come and take what they want and the lawyers will take the rest.  My dog will never see me again.  Will he too die in prison?  Euthanized by strangers?  Is it worth it?  To lose everything because he made a fool of me?  Lied to me?  Can I risk everything?  Should I?

I have never been so sure of anything in my whole life.  In lieu of suicide, murder works just fine.  I talk to him, imaginary conversations.  I catch hold of his sleeve and I ask him, “Can I tell you how you broke my heart?”  He looks back at me.  His brown eyes and soft mouth.  I say, “Because you trusted me, you encouraged me, you loved me.  Then you saw something you hated and turned your back on me and I was alone and I couldn’t bear being all on my own… again.” Then I feel sorry for him.  I want to help him get out of this pickle.  Run away!  While you still have the opportunity. I don’t want to kill anything.  But the wish to kill is never killed, even when I am happy, even when the twins are bouncing around the house.

Sometimes I want to call you and give you fair warning.  I want to tell you to run and hide so I can’t get you.  But I don’t.  I don’t because the die is cast.  I have already caused him inexorable pain and chaos.  I know his entire family (Mother, Father and sister) stand beside him whereas I have no one here.  His tiny jewish mother, her short coarse hair, married to her tall slim husband whose ambition is to travel by push bike from Southern California to burning man and take acid. His mum and dad who only found out he was gay when I forced him to tell the truth.  They were shocked their son could have made so many bad choices, led a double life.  Told so many lies.  He compartmentalized the life he led with his fiance and the life he had with me.

He is not uncommon.  So many gay men learn how to lie, to skirt the existence others think they lead.  Last week a gay acquaintance of mine found dead in his bathroom from a Oxycontin overdose.  He was fine!  His father told everyone that he had only just put down the phone twenty-four hours ago and his son, his only son, his darling son was fine.

I used to tell him that.  I warned him.  Toxic shame kept him lying to everyone who loved him and would end up killing him if he didn’t tell the truth.

2.

My name is Charles Maguire.  I am fifty years old.  I live with my small dog  in a large, mid-century modern house designed in part by Rudolf Schindler on three acres of verdant, semi tropical gardens overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  The gardens are planted with Agave, cactus and other drought loving succulents.  Below the house there is a small grove of olive trees.  Last summer I grew cherimoya, oranges, grapes, lemons, plums, peaches and many vegetables.  The excess fruit and vegatables I left at the top of the drive for my neighbours, they took the produce and ignored the honesty box.

Malibu is a tranquil place many miles away from Hollywood.  I can see the stars at night and listen to birds all day long.  Hawks wheeling in the sky.  There is a carp pond and a plunge pool.  My neighbours are European.  Americans tend to fear the idea of living on the mountain.  When they arrive at the house they say, “Are you scared of….mudslides, fires, earthquakes etc?”  And I reply, “No… not much scares me up here.  Then they tour the garden and tell me this is a ‘magical’ place.  It is when you stop being scared.

Latico Canyon, Las Flores, Topanga.

Last month young twins moved into the guest house but mostly they hang out with me.  My Mormon twins, tall, perfectly sculpted bodies, so polite and thoughtful.  As much as I love them, they shall not distract me from my great task.  Perhaps all I want is attention?  Craving attention.  Negative or otherwise?  The trial,  I arrive looking svelte and dapper.  I will stand in the witness-box and sob when forced to tell my abusive back story.

I think about him again.  I think about how he may or may not be with someone he loves who is not me.  I think of him having sex with someone he loves who is not me.  Then I think murderous thoughts that many of us have when ditched.   I console myself in the shadow of that word:  I think about the wounds on his body that I am going to inflict and how they will open in his flesh like cactus flowers.

I don’t think anyone will be surprised when they hear that I am arrested.  Most people I know understand that I am the sort of man who would or could be capable of murder.  Just like my father.   He was the same way.

The route he takes to work everyday.  Hyperion, 101, Culver.

The twins are in their room making love.  I can hear them.  One of them says softly, “Don’t!” They giggle.   They look at my AA sober coins and say, “These are really cool trinkets.”  They are going to the gym and getting ready to audition. They don’t know my thoughts.  They can’t possibly know what is going on upstairs in the head department.  They are simple Mormon boys who make love in the morning and talk about girls all day long. I can hear them kissing.  I can hear them cooing like doves.  I can hear one of them gasp.

Since he left me I have put on weight.  My jowls are sagging.  The skin around my eyes drooping over my eye lids.  My belly looks permanently full and my skin is dull and grey.  I used to be attractive but that doesn’t matter any more.  Who cares what I look like?

I don’t.

I have not had an erection for months.   Hey, gay boy.  Can you imagine that?  Fucking gay boys!  Not to have an erection?  Not to wake up with morning wood because all you can think about twenty-four seven is how you are going to speed a bullet through his brains?

Murderous thoughts destroy ones libido.  Although, most murderers say they get an erection after a murder, that ones penis becomes doubly engorged.

I don’t look at pornography, I don’t show myself on any match-making web site.  I don’t drink alcohol or take drugs.  I drink coffee and smoke strong cigarettes.  I barely ever brush my teeth unless I have to share a car with someone… and then, only when that person matters.  I stand naked in front of the mirror so the image of who I am burns into my brain.  I am ugly and useless and un-lovable.  I am old.

Some days I kneel at the edge of my bed and pray that I can be delivered from this obsession but God long ago fled the scene of this crime.  I have nothing to lose.  My life is worthless.

I can hear the twins in another part of the house film scenes for a film that has no beginning, middle or end.  The dog is with them, he’s barking and running around joyfully.  I know, if I join them they will sit quietly.  Their joy deferring to my misery.

Did you know that I used to have two dogs?  The other one was killed in the road.  I miss her so much.  Somehow her death, her cruel and senseless death introduced me to the idea of death.  Life’s fragility.  I am crying now.  Thinking about her.

Anyway, that’s that.  The detective has been appointed.  Cal from Manhattan Beach has the gun. It is presently sitting in a box wrapped in a dishcloth.  He texted me a picture of the gun.  Applying some Polaroid app to the image which made it look very old-fashioned.  Very old.  Everything is in place.  What could possibly stop me.  Other than his pleading face?  His begging cries?  His convincing argument that he might live?

Why don’t I just kill my old self and spare his young life?

I say goodbye to the dog and the twins.  I walk for one last time around the estate.  The paths that cut into the hill-side.  The view over the ocean.  I say goodbye to it all.  “The next time you see me will be on the television.”  The twins look a little confused but are too polite to pry.  The Little Dog thought he was coming too and looked quite panicked when I did not invite him into the car.  I didn’t look back.  I could hear him barking.  I didn’t look back.

405, Vista Del Mar, Highland Ave

3.

Cal, shows me the gun.  He is very excited.   A plan to kill.   I am discovering that murder excites some people, like the soldiers in Afghanistan who without consideration shot and killed innocent men and women without regard.  It was their thrill and now I feel it too.

A thrill comes over me, more intense than anything I have ever felt before.  Do men feel the same before they kill themselves?   Have I thought about suicide?  I think about it everyday.  Every single day.  If I am brave enough go kill myself I might as well take someone with me.  The man who broke my heart.  The man who caused everything to stop except time.  Stuck in this morass.

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1.

The New York State Sheep and Wool Festival held at the Dutchess County Fair Ground,  Rhinebeck NY is one of the last remaining countryside traditions in New York State.  Unlike the bawdy Duchess County Fair (started in 1842) the Sheep and Wool Festival (started in 1980) is very genteel.  Affluent white people, mostly women (with compliant bearded husbands) and gay 30 something men pet Vicuna and jostle for home spun, naturally dyed, two ply.

In England we regularly honor the land and our relationship with it.  Many of our country festivals have pagan origins.  The Harvest Moon, St Michael’s Mass, Lammas Day, country fairs and garden festivals.  When we celebrate May Day in my home town of Whitstable at the very edge of ‘The Garden of England’ on the North East Kent coast bordering the shallow, oyster clogged Swale, we revive a 16th century English tradition. Local people garland spring flowers and weave twigs of new leaves.  Pussy willow, catkins and briar. With these we entirely cover a grown man.  With his head dressed in topiary he often stands over nine feet tall.  This walking bush became known as Jack ‘o the Green.  The Jack is central to the Whitstable May Day celebration and leads a parade of Morris Dancers and mythical characters to the town square.

We celebrate our medieval past without too much shame.  The colonial atrocities we care to admit, were committed elsewhere.  We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land… and thank God for reminding us how lucky we are not to have seen the Boer War or Partition with our own eyes.  In the USA, however, the recent past is not so easily side-stepped.  The terrible ghosts white folk see:  the ghosts of slaughtered First Nation people whose land they stole and the million or more slaves who made this land what it is today.  In the North East embarrassed white people do not necessarily want to be reminded of their slave-owning ancestors or those who killed the thriving Algonquian people of the Hudson Valley.

7-14 million people lived in North America before the white man arrived.  Today, little evidence survives of the people who lived here.  Anyway, who visits North America (unlike Greece or Mexico) and thinks to see the First Nation pyramids of Louisiana or the ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings in Colorado?  The Greek government loves to invest in the Parthenon and Greeks love to visit it.  But First Nation sites are more likely to remind Americans of the Trail of Tears and treaty violations than appeal to their nationalism. 

Dr. Adrienne Keene, a First Nation scholar and activist. “We are taught nothing was here, so Native people deserved to have their land taken away: that’s how white supremacy and colonialism work.”

What of the thousands of slaves brought to the Hudson Valley?  Walk into the country side, look at the derelict shack, the rickety chicken coop.  People once lived in those… shivering as the bitter wind and snow tore over the fields, daring not to faint as the scorching summer sun beat down on thousands of enslaved men, women and their children who cleared and farmed these lands.  Driving from Red Hook to Tivoli the bucolic landscape of The Hudson Valley looks less benign.

Josiah Henson wrote, “Wooden floors were an unknown luxury. In a single room we huddled, like cattle, ten or a dozen persons, men, women, and children. We had neither bedsteads, nor furniture of any description. Our beds were collections of straw and old rags, thrown down in the corners and boxed in with boards; a single blanket the only covering.”

2.

On North Road, Tivoli NY opposite my Victorian home stands an elegant, marble obelisk erected in 1866 commemorating lives lost fighting the ‘Slave Holders Rebellion’.  When I first read the crumbling text I was taken aback.  What was the Slave Holders Rebellion? What did this inscription mean?  Was it some local event?  Nobody seemed to know.  White people didn’t know. Black people didn’t know.

The Slave Holders Rebellion is how the Civil War was contemporaneously described.   The meaning of the Civil War, the point of it…

Slavery is New York’s dirty little secret.  Many people are shocked to learn that slavery existed in the North East. Yet, as on the cotton fields of the southern states, people as property were considered essential to further settlements and do profitable business. By reducing labor costs to the care and maintenance of their human chattel, settlers turned a huge profit on a relatively small investment.

In New York State, owning 10 slaves at the turn of the 18th century was considered a large holding.  Michael Groth, in his article, “The African-American Struggle against Slavery in the Mid-Hudson Valley 1785-1827,” estimated that one in 10 households included slaves. All persons of consequence were expected to be in possession of slaves, but not every slave owner was wealthy.  People of modest means owned slaves. The purchase of a slave was a worthwhile investment for a farmer with moderate income.

“Those that could afford it kept slaves, and each owner put a mark upon his black servants, and registered the same with the town clerk, in order that runaways might be more easily traced. For instance the mark of Mathew Wygant was ‘a square notch of ha’penny on the upper sie of the left ear’.”

For 200 years, from 1624 to 1824, the first Dutch territories were sparsely settled with white people. Enslaved Africans were a major portion of those first wave of immigrants, estimated in some areas at between one-fifth and one-third.  In Ulster County, in 1746, slaves numbered 1,100 with the white population at about 4,100.  It is unknown how many First Nation people they lived along side.  The Dutch West Indies Company brought the first slaves to New York territories in 1626 to work on farms, roads and forts.  The Dutch were frustrated at their inability to profit from lumber, fur and agriculture.

In 1644 the Dutch West Indies Company brought in 6,900 men, women and children from the African coast.

It was company-owned slave labor that laid the foundations of modern New York, built its fortifications and made agriculture flourish in the colony so that later white immigrants had an incentive to turn from fur trapping to farming.

Between 1600 and 1860, the transatlantic slave trade brought 9 to 11 million enslaved Africans to the USA.  In 1820, about 10 percent of the population of the Town of Kingston NY consisted of black slaves.  By the end of the 18th century, New York held the dubious distinction of being the state with the largest slave population in the North.  Ironically, the streets of Kingston and Rhinebeck NY were more diverse than they are today.

Slaves were sold in Kingston and New Paltz at public auction.  Terms were made easy so people of modest means could afford them. A commodity bought and sold, used to settle debts and bequeathed to heirs.  Slave sale notices were common in daily newspapers, next to advertisements for land and farm equipment. They described these men, women and children as “healthy” and “stout”,  the same language used to sell livestock. It is clear from the advertisements that infants or children could be sold at the “purchaser’s option,” separating a mother and child with the stroke of a pen.

The cost of a slave today would be around $30,000.

Not everyone acquiesced.  Reported slave rebellions and insurrections took place all over North America. More than 250 uprisings or attempted uprisings involving ten or more slaves.  I’m sure many more went unreported.  Tiny acts of attrition.

18th century slave owners bragged how well treated and content their slaves were, but life for the enslaved African living in the North was cruel and un-rewarding.  New York State’s slave laws were harsh and even small transgressions punished by public flogging.  The hope of freedom inspired hundreds to risk absconding.  If caught, a fugitive slave could expect punishments including amputation of limbs or death.

Runaway slave notices published in newspapers recount in detail the outer wear worn by slaves. The clothing described in these notices reflect the deprived existences they led. Style, color and material, hairstyle and type of headwear are recounted in great detail by slave masters. Most fugitive slaves ran away with only one set of clothes.  “Young mulatto girl, wearing red calico, with blue petticoat.”  Scars, missing ears, skills, behavior – insolent, plausible, bright… were all listed.

Most slaves ran away to be with their families. Some just fled, others planned carefully.  A young man from Rochester NY took off with two sheep and a beehive.  Many fugitive slaves found refuge in the woods of upstate New York. The woods not only provided cover and protection but a chance to seek Native Americans inhabiting the region. Many found shelter and safety with Native Americans and were welcomed into their tribes. Large rewards and treaty offerings for the return of runaways did not dissuade Native nations from harboring slaves.

3.

In July 1799 the NY State Legislature enacted a partial emancipation. The law freed all children born to slave women after July 4, 1799, but only after at least two decades of forced indenture. Boys became free at age 28 and females at age 25. Until then, they were tied to the service of the mother’s master.  Children remained enslaved because slave owners were confident that parents would remain with their children. Unrestricted freedom did not come to New York’s slaves until a new emancipation law took effect 28 years later, on July 4, 1827.

The freeing, in 1827, of adult slaves led to economic havoc in the North East. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 compounded the issue and destroyed the economy of the Hudson Valley.  Meanwhile, freed slaves were left to fend for themselves.  Those with good skills were undercut by white, cheap immigrant labor beginning to flood the Hudson Valley from New York City.  The white immigrants were paid for their time and did not need to be fed, clothed and sheltered.   Some freed slaves remained as tenant farmers. Up and down the Hudson River you’ll still find names like Africa Street where freed slaves formed their own small communities.

New York City was a reluctant supporter of the Slave Holders Rebellion.  Its trading economy was heavily invested in the slave-based production of cotton.  After the Slave Holders Rebellion, New York and New Jersey were alone among northern states in not abolishing slavery.  Governor Morris and John Jay attempted to insert a clause into the founding state constitution suggesting the eventual elimination of slavery, but were rebuffed.  As New York moved to abolish slavery, amongst the counties most vociferous in their opposition and who voted, “nay” were Dutchess County.

There is white marble obelisk in Tivoli, Dutchess County at the edge of North Road. It commemorates the lives lost of local people fighting the Slave Holders Rebellion.  There is something heroic and magnificent about the title: Slave Holders Rebellion.  It perfectly articulates the ambition of that war.  And how it latterly became… the Civil War is testament to how black and brown people have had their history reframed by generations of white revisionists.  Like the First Nation people before them the domestic history of enslaved men, women, children and their brutal slave owners has been wiped away by white folk, cruel, embarrassed and afraid in equal measure.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Star Spangled Banner by Slave Owner Francis Scott Key

Slavery remains the dirty little secret of New York State.  Shared by almost every other northern state.  In the south, for good or ill, white people upholding their racism and white supremacy, proud of their slave-owning past have inadvertently kept black history alive.  The ancestors of northern slave owners do not celebrate the traditions of the land… for few white people ever worked it.  Whilst english people were ploughing and scattering black slaves were violently forced to do the same.  The history of this bucolic place, this upstate paradise, white folk keep silent… vanishing into the corn.

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It’s been some time since I turned my back on this blog.  I rather ostentatiously announced that I would never blog again.   But it’s been a tumultuous year inter personally and internationally.   Not a great year to ignore.   The most important reason for not blogging?

Last year I met someone I have grown to respect tremendously, even though in the peripheral vision of the public eye he is perhaps one of the most private people I’ve ever called a friend.  He has become one of those closest to me.  In its former incarnation my blog had become a risky means to communicate my triumphs, failures and frustrations.  Those around me felt uncomfortable, aware they could end up in this personal blog at the mercy of my public point of view.

The closer I became to my friend, the more I grew to love his gentle disposition, his trust and generosity.  I did not want to endanger our friendship nor cause him or his family anxiety.   I stopped writing.  This week I mentioned to him why I had stopped writing my blog and how I might start writing again.  He was very supportive.

2.

I am an oaf.  The older I get the more clumsy I become.  Some people become physically inept.  I’ve become mentally less agile.  Tripping over myself when I get excited.  Wading through molasses when I get tired.   Writing this blog every day kept me alert.

There’s a red squirrel living in the barn, aggressively defending the ancient black walnut tree.  He’s not at all like a British red squirrel.  He’s more like a stoat.  He spent the autumn collecting walnuts, filling a cavity at the base of the tree with his foraging.   He sits peeling walnuts, industriously creating a midden beneath him.   When I don’t see him I worry the barn cat ate him. I hadn’t seen him for a week after the heavy snow but today he was back on his branch.  His fluffy tail and chattering warning off the grey squirrels who, even though they are thrice his size, run from him when he spies them stealing his stash.

The Little Dog is getting old.  He sleeps more.  His soft jowl is grey.  He has fatty lumps forming on his chest.  He loves a long walk and streaks ahead of me and Dude.  He must be 12-year-old.  Maybe.  I’ve no idea how old he was when we found him at the rescue.

I don’t have a TV.  It keeps me from the worst of the news cycle.  Twitter and Facebook keep me up to date.  The second screen.  Bloody hell.  I’m addicted to that thing.  I’ve tried hard to not look.  Tried an app that tells me how many hours a day I spend engaging with it.  Shocking.  My head down like a pious monk looking at the little screen.

3.

Last Easter Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich stayed here with me in Tivoli. They’ve bought a very scruffy farm in Poughkeepsie.  They are vegans. They eat tapioca for breakfast. I’ve never known two people to bicker as often as they do.  We went for long walks.  Dennis says, “You realise Trump is going to be our next president?  He’s going to win.” At lunch he repeated his assertion.  My nice white, affluent friends smile knowingly.  Crazy Dennis Kucinich.  They didn’t believe him, I didn’t want to believe him.  A few weeks later the two gay men who live opposite this house put up a Trump/Pence sign on their lawn and… I knew Dennis was right.  President Trump was inevitable.

There were many dinners and lunches prepared on North Road this year.  It seemed to irritate my nice friends whenever I cautioned a Trump presidency.  “Only angry white men will vote for him.” they said.  They assured me there weren’t enough angry white men to defeat the women and the people of color Trump had offended.

They think I am an angry white man.

Trump won the primary.  The establishment attempted to shame him with crude tape recordings, unseen tax bills, the stories of unpaid artisans.

I felt isolated every time I repeated my assertion.  How could I be so sure?  “Do you have a degree in political science?”   I was asked by an affluent gay man peering at me suspiciously.  “No, I listen.”  I said. “I listen to people far away from the shrill, gay echo chamber.  I sit with AA people.  Local working people, the kind of people who plough your drive or file documents in the local hospital or work in the probation department… the kind of people sophisticated city folk never engage.  They love Trump.”

The AA folk I met all over the state confirmed my suspicion that things were not as the pollsters claimed.  The double-digit Clinton lead.  The hyperbole.  In hind sight the polls now seem like establishment propaganda.

On the TV despondent hacks wondered why every time Trump made a gaffe or said something untoward his ratings soared.  Upstate, men and women of all ages had already decided Trump was their guy.  They did not care about pussy grabbing.  Ruth said, “He can grab my pussy.”  They did not care about Trump’s debate performance or his racism.  The language Trump used… they could understand.  I heard their roar of approval echo over the mountains and into the valley every time Trump shat all over the politically correct.

My nice liberal friends were too busy believing in Clinton’s invincibility.  They refused to listen to anything other than hollow reassurance from other liberals that a Trump presidency was totally impossible.

Some polls, discredited by the establishment, indicated Bernie Sanders was the only Democrat in the race who could comfortably beat Donald Trump.  My nice white friends scoffed.  “We don’t want a Bernie revolution.” Amy said.

“When Trump’s elected you’ll wish it was Bernie’s revolution rather than Trump’s.”  I replied.

Consternation at the dinner table.  “Trump isn’t going to win,” they said.  “He can’t win.” What seemed evident to me became increasingly absurd to others.  The choice was obvious:  It was either Sander’s revolution or Trump’s.  Revolution was what the people craved.

Hillary Clinton won the Democratic presidential nomination.  They kicked Bernie to the curb, unwilling to work with him.  Clinton’s affable, dull running mate (whose name I’ve forgotten) made no impression on the nation and Pence effortlessly destroyed him during the vice presidential debate.

The affluent white people I know in New York City have become complacent, deaf to the pleas and need of the rest of the nation.  Whilst my city friends were slightly inconvenienced by the banking crisis, the working poor suffered real consequences: they lost their homes, their jobs and their dreams.  They foolishly believed affable President Obama would help them, but Obama ignored the opiate epidemic claiming the lives of desperate Americans, he ignored the many suicides of hopeless young men.  Whilst we were applauding Obama’s inclusive rhetoric, cheering his trans toilet initiative.  A black president honoring the trans community…  I heard a different story from my local white friends of all ages, smoking cigarettes after the AA meeting.   They recoiled from the trans toilet debate… unable to register their disdain for fear of PC retribution.

Meanwhile Robby Mook, Clinton’s gay campaign manager, deliberately chose to spurn the votes of the working poor and went after the soft Republican vote believing them more educated and therefore outraged by Trump’s racism and misogyny.  It was a catastrophic decision.  Mook’s strategy was informed by the ringing lies he heard in the pink echo chamber.  The same hall of whispers I am privy to.  They said, Clinton will win because Trump is a clown.  I was getting blocked on Facebook for pleading with people to get ready for President Trump.  Empirical evidence rather than scientific opinion.  I was listening to my AA friends.  I was looking at the Trump/Pence signs sprouting up all over New York state.

The gays alienated themselves from anyone who didn’t think like them or look like them or agree with their blind devotion to Clinton.  The merest questioning of her integrity was perceived as heresy.  The more they blocked me the more I realised just how hopeless those people would be the morning after the election.

I was invited to an upstate ‘Pink Belt’  gay pool party.  The hosts and guests were short, buff and white.   In spite of my fear of mediocrity I had a very pleasant time.  The short white host saw me out.  I mentioned my fear of gay pool parties as I thanked him for inviting me.  “Don’t worry,” he smiled “I’m out of shape too.”   I paused and looked into his big blue eyes.  

The gays sneer at the working poor who vote against their own interests… forgetting the working poor have no interests.  They have no Obama Care, they have no home to call their own.  They limp from one bill to another, doing their best, never daring to dream.  Trapped by debt, obesity, addiction and religion.  The working poor do not have ‘interests’ to vote against nor common cause.  They were angry, raw and unrepresented whilst Obama touted gender neutral bathrooms.

Where was the change they could believe in?  Where was the change we could all believe in?

In the early hours of the morning November 9th 2016 I was on a late train from Grand Central Station to Poughkeepsie NY.  There was a middle-aged woman wearing an ‘I’m With Her’ baseball cap.  She had been at the Javitz Convention Center waiting for Hillary’s victory speech. She sat on the train weeping.  Her face wet with tears.  The conductor asked if she was ok.  She railed against Trump.  The conductor said, “Oh dear, things are going to work out just fine.” Young people started laughing, jeering at her.  Trump supporters.  She sobbed inconsolably.  The mob sneered at Obama even though many had voted for him.  They were excited, they were excited for a new American dawn.

Hillary Clinton beat Robby Mook on his chest with both her fists when she realised she had lost the race.

In the UK the Brexit referendum happened earlier in 2016.  My Mother and Brother voted to leave the EU.  Leave won the popular vote.  Hate crimes became a daily occurrence.  I felt sad and shocked.  England shrank before my eyes.  The sickening thud of jack boots on the streets, austerity leading inevitably to the solutions of the anti-establishment right-wing. I lamented our decision.  Others came to their senses too late, wishing their protest vote hadn’t had such an impact.

All over the world people are shaking the tree, expecting it to afford them cover.

Ori posted a picture on Instagram.   A dinner with friends the night after the 2016 presidential election.  10 white, identical looking gay men in their thirties… commiserating.  ‘This is why we lost the election’ I wrote beneath the picture. ’10 white gay men believed Clinton would win because they repeated wishes as if they were facts.’  He blocked me.  Nobody wants to believe that they are part of the problem. 

In the aftermath of the presidential election Hillary Clinton vanished into the woods of Chappaqua.  The rich got richer. Those friends who scorned my prediction were gracious enough to acknowledge I was right.  But what of it?   Clinton supporters are still unable to grasp what is happening, they blame the Russians, they blame Wikileaks,  they blame the electoral college, they blame the polls, Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders… they blame everyone but Clinton.   Their fury is palpable.  Their distress acute.

We wait for January 20th.

 

So, that was the final blog.  There will be no more. I’m done. 

Thanks for the support, for reading, for encouraging and even for damning me.

It was great.

Now.  Adieu.

Malibu California

Prologue.

Should I dedicate this blog to affluent, gay, white male: ‘The King‘ Chris Cortazzo?

Chris Cortazzo, Coldwell Banker’s top-selling Malibu realtor.  Remember?  He accused me of extortion when I threatened to blog about him?  Chris and his legal team predicted a felony in my future… an automatic deportation.

Chris wanted to fine me, humiliate me, take away my home and most importantly he wanted to silence me… yet, after months of bargaining with expensive help from his Super Lawyer Bryan Freedman… Chris Cortazzo accomplished no fines, no deportation, no felony.

When all was said and done Chris achieved a wobbly misdemeanor and a recently expired, three-year gag order… as part of a convoluted plea deal.  The ubiquitous plea deal routinely offered to people like me in the USA who couldn’t afford a fair trial.

No.  Chris Cortazzo is undeserving of any dedication.  He is a very, very bad gay.

Instead, I dedicate this blog to every man woman and child presently held illegally in jails and prisons all over ‘the land of the free’.  There are presently 2,500,000 people in US jails.

Two and a half million people.

Private and public US jails and prisons are crammed with brown men, women and children who could not afford a fair trial and under hopeless duress accepted a plea deal.  Worse, there are corroborated stories of pre trial detainees tortured into signing false confessions or incriminated by the police and corrupt, racist prosecutors.

Thanks to organizations like the Innocence Project hundreds of men and women have had their convictions overturned and on occasions released from decades of solitary confinement for crimes they did not commit.

Cowed by PTSD many will not survive their freedom.  Suicide and terminal illness rates are high.  It is hard for them to live normal lives.  They return to unrecognisable neighbourhoods, children estranged, families and friends scattered. In some states they are barred from voting.  For the decades of torture they endured many sue and win handsome payouts but after huge ‘civil rights’ attorneys bills, taxes and years waiting for payment they receive only a little remuneration.

Fearful, white tax payers unquestioningly pay whatever it costs for more prisons, death row, jails, the police and the military.  They believe mass incarceration makes them safer.  They rarely enquire: Who profits from mass incarceration?  They are unaware that the same people profiting from corrupt and illegal wars in Iraq and Libya also own the jails and the prisons ignoring the untold suffering within.

Whilst the 1% get richer on the backs of the poor, hiding their ill-gotten gains elsewhere, avoiding taxation… disenfranchised people of color are radicalized by brutal treatment whilst incarcerated.  The poor know they are easy prey.  Inside the big house they are gouged further by deputies who own and operate vending machines.  A 50 cent pack of noodles sold to those who can least afford it… for $3.  Loved ones forced to pay 1000 times more than you and I to receive phone calls from the incarcerated.

In America… if you are poor, vulnerable or sick… expect to be enslaved by the state.

Black communities are bullied by a police force trained to raise revenue by issuing hundreds of bogus tickets.  In Ferguson MO 80% of the residents had been ticketed for minor infractions, raising millions of dollars for a failing local government.  Private prisons are kept profitably full by agreement between local politicians and prison owners.  Remember Judge Ciavarella, jailed for receiving payment from a prison owner for imprisoning innocent children?   Some of those innocent kids killed themselves.

Two million children are arrested every year in the US, 95% for non-violent crimes.  66% of children incarcerated never return to school.  The US incarcerates nearly 5 times more children than any other nation in the world.

Ferguson and Mark Ciaverella are just the tip of the iceberg.  As in any tin pot dictatorship, powerful Americans use jail to silence whistleblowers and truth tellers.

This is my story: the story of rich, entitled white folk taking down and silencing enemies using the public court system as their personal weapon.

The blog referred to during this post is the blog I allegedly ‘threatened’ to publish if Chris Cortazzo didn’t right his wrongs.  The original blog exists publicly in its entirety as court records, evidence submitted by the prosecution during my pre-trial.

Why now?  Why write this 4 years after the event?  I might have left my story in the past but this story became unexpectedly relevant.  I was recently contacted by lawyers who revealed I wasn’t the only Malibu property owner who had fallen foul of realtor Christopher Cortazzo.

1.

Powerful friends, they say, make powerful enemies.  Chris and his friends proved they could do anything they wanted to me and others. There were times when I suspected my very own lawyer had been bought by the other side.

This is a Hollywood story.   As with any epic Hollywood story it requires a suspension of disbelief.  This narrative snakes in and out of reality tv, multi-million dollar homes, secretive Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and into the many canyons of Malibu, Bel Air and Beverly Hills.  It stars ‘A’ listed talent and their representatives, a cast of corrupt policemen, prosecutors and the judiciary.  It is the story of shameful… affluent, white gay men and their friends.

It is fortune lost and found.

2.

Dear Chris,

Let’s get one thing clear before we go any further.  I don’t want anything from you. Nothing.  I don’t want your money, I don’t want your time, I don’t want your body.  I want nothing from you… never… ever.

This is the blog you didn’t want me to write, the blog you spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to kill.  This is the blog I sat in the Los Angeles Men’s County Jail contemplating.  This is it.  This is the blog you wanted me to regret.

Chris.  Are you ready?

Before I start,  I have two words to say to you:  Hiroshi Horiike.



Hiroshi Horiike on the steps of his Malibu Mansion.

This name probably means nothing to your starry friends and clients, your 1% billionaire neighbours or the older Malibu home owners you nurture until they are ready to sell their ocean side properties.  The celebrities with whom you carouse all over the world may not be aware of Hiroshi Horiike.  I doubt if you make mention of his name in the many mansions, yachts and fast cars you inhabit.

Let me educate my readers.

Millionaire Hiroshi Horiike spent two years searching California for a dream home, one grander than any he could find in his native China.

After visiting more than 80 properties in the Los Angeles area with an agent from Coldwell Banker, Horiike paid $12.25 million in cash for a four-bedroom, six-bath Tuscan-style mansion with a swimming pool, spa and guest house on 5.1 acres (2.1 hectares) overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

There was just one catch. After settling in, Horiike found the Malibu home had less living space than he’d been told — a third less. It had 9,434 square feet (876 square meters) instead of the 15,000 square feet shown in marketing brochures from the seller’s agent, who also worked with Coldwell Banker.

You were the realtor repping both Hiroshi and the seller.  You were the realtor.   Chris, you were the realtor referred to in this quote and subsequent court documents.  Sounds dodgy doesn’t it?  No wonder you wanted to shut my big mouth.

Horiike, who also goes by his native Chinese name Peng Hong Ling after adopting a Japanese name as an adult, claimed he was cheated and sued the agent and the brokerage. He won a state appeals court ruling that sellers’ agents have a fiduciary duty to protect buyers’ interests, not just those of their clients, when there’s only one brokerage involved in a deal.

Of course you and Coldwell Banker have been defending yourselves vigorously in the courts… there’s a great deal at stake for Californian real estate agents.

If left standing, the decision could compel disclosure of confidential client information or force brokerages to drop out of transactions where they represent both buyers and sellers, threatening commissions on tens of thousands of deals.

Have you fucked it up for your Californian realtor colleagues?  Have you derailed their gravy train?

Horiike and I have a great deal in common when it comes to you, Chris.

Horiike and I were both US property virgins. We foolishly thought we could trust our realtors. We were naive, we were excited, we were unaware… in the unlikely event we were duped by unscrupulous realtors when we purchased our homes… we only had two years for discrepancies to reveal themselves before a remarkably short statute of limitation kicks in.  I discovered my geological discrepancy after two years… some people must have rubbed their hands in glee.

Hiroshi, he’s the Mensch!  Hiroshi is the man who won’t let go of the bone, Chris.  And you… you are Horiiki’s bone.  He’s taking his case all the way to the Supreme Court because, like me, he had his dream shattered by realtors.

But let’s concentrate on us for a moment Chris.  Just us.  Before this blew up you already had a very low opinion of me.  An opinion you share with many white, affluent, gay men. Chris you described me, after our couple of dates, in court documents as ‘dark and creepy’.

Let’s cast our minds back to happier times.  Chris, let’s remember when I arrived with society photographer Todd Eborle at the annual Barry Diller pre-Oscar garden party a few years back (I sat between you and Helen Mirren) we had a nice enough time.  We ate from the buffet.  We marveled at Rupert Murdoch and David Geffen chatting animatedly at the edge of the garden.

As I mentioned earlier, we’d had a date or two in West Hollywood but it didn’t work out. You claim we didn’t have oral sex.  If you can’t remember sucking my cock, I’m perfectly happy to forget it too.  The next time I saw you?  At the house on Hume Road, Malibu. I loved that house like Horiiki loved his, and a little like Horiiki I’d seen a ton of houses before I found my dream house on Hume Road.

Corey Nelson my dumb, good-looking realtor was sick of showing me property. He had shown me hundreds of homes.  Sometimes… I wouldn’t go inside.   Rude!

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Corey Nelson

The purchase of Hume Road happened before the crash when realtors didn’t have to work very hard to sell a house.  We had given up looking.  Corey Nelson and I hadn’t spoken for months.  So, when I found my little slice of paradise I called Corey because I knew he would appreciate making a sale.  I could have called anyone but I felt loyal to Corey.  I had no clue his inexperience and ambition would severely compromise me.

I was renting an apartment in Hollywood that had once belonged to Joni Mitchell.   Every day I would drive from El Cerritos Place to the Malibu property and sit in the garden, sit on the terrace and gaze at the view.  I was desperate to buy the house on Hume Road.  Indeed, my enthusiasm predicated just how much of a liberty you two groovy hucksters might take with me.

I met the owner of the Hume Road House, Kelly Mormon.  He asked if I wanted to move in before I bought the house.  I moved in.  I explored the neighborhood.  I saw a family of bob cats and eagles wheeling through the canyon.  Humming birds fed from the passion fruit flowers that grew on my terrace.  Walking Las Flores Canyon one warm evening I met a grumpy man from Cal Trans who told me buying a house on Hume Road was a really bad idea. He told me the city should buy the houses in the canyon and demolish them.  I’d heard rumors the land was unstable.  The neighbours denied it of course.  They assured me everything was just fine.

I wrote to Corey explaining my fears. When we subpoenaed his emails it was revealed soon after I wrote that email… Corey Nelson wrote you Chris asking what he should do about my cold feet. Your reply was chilling. “Call me,” you said.  I can’t imagine the plan you hatched during the call.

Corey abandoned his fiduciary duty when he made that call to you, Chris.

PRE-HISTORY

Let’s talk?  You and me?  Can I confide in you?

Do you remember the film?  I’d made a film people loved and I’d been nominated for a British Academy Award.  They warn the foolhardy: never move to LA unless invited.  Industry people (my agent and manager) told me my interests would be best served if I moved to Hollywood.  In 2007, after 35 years, I sold my beautiful sea-side house in Whitstable Kent.  I started house hunting in Los Angeles.

I met Corey Nelson from Sotheby’s a well-known realty company.  He was one of those cute ex Bruce Weber models who would do almost anything to make a sale.  I met him with an older gay realtor who claimed he was fucking him.  We met at Joan’s on Third in West Hollywood.  I love Joan.  She’s a romantic!  Have you heard her story?

Corey and I spent a long time house hunting.  I looked at hundreds of houses, none I liked. Corey was cute and fun.  We spent time together socially, we climbed Runyon Canyon.  I trusted him.  I believed realtors in the USA behaved like estate agents in the UK: with honesty and accountability.

Months into our search I had still not found a house.

3.

My recently deceased friend Jean Perramon lived in The Santa Monica Mountains.  His house had views stretching from Santa Monica to Point Dume.   Walking his neighborhood one evening I peeked past a large For Sale sign through the gates of an abandoned estate. To Jean’s consternation I opened the gates and wandered down the steep drive into two acres of lush, semi tropical gardens.  Huge cactus trees, ancient palms.  Bananas, citrus, plums.  Stone paths weaving through the landscape.  At the end of the path an empty, unlocked 1970’s post and beam family home divided into two apartments.

I told Corey about the house and he introduced me to Chris Cortazzo, Kelly’s agent.

Well, we scarcely needed introducing.

Listen, let’s face it…Chris has done very well for himself.  He comes from a humble Malibu family, his mother is often seen eating lunch in the garden at Cross Creek.  His fireman father is dead.  He sells more real estate than any other broker in the USA.  For a man who is scarcely literate… he has done very well for himself.   Perhaps it is gay mythology but your story includes a romantic liaison with billionaire Barry Diller who, it is alleged, set you up as a realtor and let you sell his property.  Is that true?

He writes this about himself on his own website:

Yes, Chris Cortazzo’s name is everywhere in Malibu, because that’s what happens when you’re “The King.”  It was actually the Bravo TV program Million Dollar Listing, in which CC was profiled among several other L.A.-area top-producing agents, that coined the term “The King of Malibu”. Perhaps it was his incredible production that earned him the title. Perhaps it owes to the type of clientele he often serves, namely some of the biggest names in entertainment and business.

After renting the Malibu house on Hume Road for a couple of weeks I asked Corey to write an offer.  The house had been on the market for a year or more hand had a price reduction. I live in a country where houses languish on the market for years, it did not occur to me that if a house had been on the market for a few months it may be problematic.  Nor did it occur to me that I may be working with a couple of realtors who were determined, at any cost, to sell me a doozy.

My soppy, inexperienced realtor wanted his commission and was sick of showing me endless properties.  We had written offers before but they had not been accepted.  I had never ordered an inspection.

The problem with the beautiful house?  During the past ten years there had been landslides on either side of the property.  There was illegal construction in the garden including un-permitted retaining walls and water tanks degrading the land, making it more liable to slide.

They knew if I had this critical information I would not buy the house and more importantly… it would be worth far less than the 1.4 million dollars I paid for it.

Neither the seller nor Chris disclosed this information.  Information, by law, they were required to reveal.  Corey told me a thorough geological report would cost me $10,000.  So, using the excuse I would save money I needn’t spend, they presented me with an expensive and thorough looking geological report conducted in 2004.   Corey persuaded me this report was adequate for my purposes, advising me I should have a verbal report from another geologist to confirm nothing seismic had happened after the 2004 report.

The difference between 2004 and the year I bought the house?  The house no longer sat on an HISTORIC slide as the report stated.  A historic slide means that during the past decade no noticeable seismic activity had taken place within a thousand feet of the property and the land was stable.   In 2004 the house sat comfortably on the ridge line,  foundations built on bedrock.

However, shortly after that 2004 report was written large parts of Las Flores Canyon including Hume Road began sliding into the sea.  My house now sat on an ACTIVE slide.  This important information was deliberately kept from me.  Moreover, Corey told me that he could not find a local geologist who would come to the house so we hired a geologist recommended by… Chris Cortazzo.  I was assured by Corey that the ‘verbal’ geological report from a geologist was perfectly normal.  Again, abandoning his fiduciary duties.

The young, good-looking geologist sat uncomfortably with us in the garden, Corey at his side.  He held the 2004 geological report.  I asked if there was anything I needed to know that may influence my purchase of the property.  I asked many, many questions.  I needed to know everything before I invested my hard-earned $1, 500,000.  Without looking into my eyes the ‘geologist’ told me the house had a “reasonable half an inch of ‘creep'”  but failed to mention either of the recent slides or the illegality of the un-permitted terracing.

I bought the house.  After we signed contracts at the close of escrow, Chris shook my hand and said, with half a grin, “You’re going to own that house for a very long time.”

Only when I tried selling the house… did I learn what he meant.

The next time I saw Chris Cortazzo he was sitting in a sex addict meeting where he claims he was ‘helping a friend’.  After seeing him at the meeting I wrote a sweet email welcoming him to SAA.  It’s hard to admit a problem like sex addiction.  I wanted him to feel safe when he returned.  That’s what we are taught to do in AA SAA etc… we look out for each other.  We reach out.  Almost immediately the troubled transphobic sex therapist Sean McFarlane who lead the meeting told me not to contact Chris again… under any circumstances.

Why?

Sean McFarlane chaired the Brentwood Sex Addict meeting (ironically held in a middle school until the school realized a famous pedophile attended the meeting) for over a decade, a serious break from the 12 traditions and frowned upon within the Anonymous community.  McFarlane didn’t seem to care much for the AA rules unless others broke them.  His personal recovery, doubted by many, seemed ‘unsponsored’.  He tells a melodramatic, highly questionable personal story and is well-known (to those within the addict community) to prey upon vulnerable celebrities eager to keep their failing marriages.

Consequently, he has a gang of loyal Hollywood/sports celebrities with whom he consorts in and out of therapy.  He would boast how he taught Mike Tyson’s daughter to swim.  The daughter who tragically… drowned.  Our ‘trusted servant’ McFarlane rarely accounted for the huge 7th Tradition purse he collected every week and handed over to his ‘treasurer’, John Artz.

It is rumored Sean McFarlane would take sex addicts through the 12 Steps… if they paid him.  Again, discouraged within the anonymous cult who pride themselves on sharing their sobriety with newcomers… for ‘fun and for free’.

Sean ‘no shame in my game’ McFarlane is a transphobe.  I never once heard anyone in that Sex Addict meeting challenge his transphobia.  He considered all trans people ‘evil’.  Whenever he had the opportunity he told graphic tales of his own heroism in the face of evil transsexuals.  How he saved one or other of his many trans chaser clients from the grips of an evil ‘tranny hooker’.

The group would cheer Sean’s transphobia.  Lawyers, agents, actors… casting directors.    Collectively witch hunting the trans people Sean considered evil.  Lately, as the Hollywood conversation turns toward inclusivity, color blind casting, gender neutrality… one wonders how Sean and his creepy white guy transphobic friends in the entertainment industry will survive?

THE REVEAL

The last time I heard from the ‘geologist’, he had turned to Jesus.  I was in my bed… at home in Malibu.  It was dark.  He called from a blocked phone.  He was distressed.  He apologized for calling late at night.  He stumbled over his words.  He told me Corey instructed him not to mention anything that would influence me away from buying the house.  The ‘geologist’ felt guilty.  He omitted to tell me the status of the slide had changed from historic.. to active.

He told me the lie plagued his conscience.

People ask: What did you do when he told you?  What could I do?  I tell them. “I listened.”

When we subpoenaed the geologist during my pre-trial… a completely different man (50 years old and morbidly obese) arrived at the court-house.  He didn’t want to be there, he was sweating bullets.  It was all the proof I needed but the pre-trial judge refused to listen to our evidence.  It was one of your triumphs, Chris.  The truth couldn’t help us.  The statute of limitations had long run out.

When I spoke to Corey he said,  “I knew this would come back to haunt me.”  You’re right Corey, if you have any conscience, it’s going to haunt you… the rest of your life.

After the geologist’s late night call I emailed Chris letting him know I’d give him time to ‘do the right thing’ and find a solution including a ‘fair and equitable’ settlement… or I would start a campaign against him… including paid advertisements in local newspapers, national news articles and a revelatory blog.

Soon after writing this email I was arrested and held without recourse to bail in LA Men’s County Jail.

2.

TP… the bug-eyed, ex head of a major film studio and his son were Malibu neighbours and regular faces at my sex addict meeting in Brentwood.  TP’s son described sex therapist Sean McFarlane’s reaction when he heard I’d been arrested,

“Sean leapt out of his seat and punched the air screaming… ‘he’s going down’.”

Bryan Freedman, John Adler (my SAA sponsor), TP and others smiled broadly at the news.  The men in that sex addict meeting coalesced around you Chris, you became one of their walking wounded.

Bryan Freedman, another self identified sex addict/alcoholic I  saw almost every morning at either the 7am Palisades AA stag meeting or the Sex Addict meeting in Brentwood.

Chris, how did you meet Bryan Freedman?  Did you meet him at the sex addict meeting?  Did transphobic sex therapist Sean MacFarlane introduce you?  Bryan is a great fan of transphobic sex therapist Sean McFarlane.

Bryan Freedman’s firm Freedman + Taitelman would represent your interests against me.

Bryan J. Freedman was selected as one of the most influential entertainment litigators in the country by The Hollywood Reporter in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 and in all eight years has been named in the Top 100 Power Lawyers list. Additionally, Bryan was recognized as a Southern California “Super Lawyer” in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, a peer-based award reserved only for the top 5% of all lawyers in Southern California. Also, Bryan has the unique distinction of being 1 of only 22 selected Honorees to Variety’s 2015 Legal Impact Report.

I know a very different Bryan Freedman.  This is the man who wept in AA meetings because he couldn’t bully his son into being the first jewish NBA basket ball player.  This is the married man who confided in a public SAA meeting he couldn’t stop intriguing with women… looking at small ads whilst his wife slept beside him.  This is the man who would high-five the equally despicable UTA Talent Agency boss Jeremy Zimmer at the AA meeting ‘above the bank’ in the Palisades where we sat together for more than a decade.

How involved was Bryan Freedman?  How much money did you pay him to have me vanish into the jail system?  I’m guessing he was involved with the plan?  He’s a Super Lawyer. His plan might include a cast of corruptible characters.  How much did they have to do with my illegal incarceration in the Los Angeles Men’s County Jail?

You and your advisors believed I might bend to your will if you held me in jail long enough.

Remember, we have to suspend our disbelief:

Just about every branch of Ferguson government (police, municipal court, city hall) participated in “unlawful” targeting of African-American residents for tickets and fines, the Justice Department concluded this week.

At first, the plan unfolded splendidly!  We understand  how utterly corrupt American prosecutors are.  Existing in a semi secretive world of grand juries and trumped-up charges designed to protect the rights of the 1%.  County prosecutor Anne-Marie Wise is no different, she played out your rich boy charade very admirably.  Anne-Marie, persuaded there was a case to answer by your impressive lawyer, sent her ZZ Top cops to arrest me.  They kept their cop badges under their waist length beards.

I agreed to meet Chris on the Pacific Coast Highway outside the Country Kitchen in Malibu (opposite the home of Tom Pollock) where he had offered to make his amends for ripping me off.  Instead, as I ate my breakfast burritos the cops arrived.  As I sat handcuffed in the blazing sun a black Rolls Royce with blackened windows cruised past,  it lingered.  Was that you Chris?  I knew the Rolls had something to do with you, Chris… so did the cops.

Did you enjoy watching me handcuffed Chris?  Did you take photographs on your cell phone?

ZZ Top and I headed up Las Flores Canyon to Hume Road.  The crazy bearded cops ran around my property with guns.  Why?  Because this is the melodrama of over paid, over weight, underutilized… LA cops.  Once in the house they meaninglessly tossed furniture and emptied my draws.  They seized my lap top and took me to the Calabasas police station where they interviewed and charged me with a felony extortion.  Extortion (for those who remain confused) is either threatening to reveal a secret or a crime unless money is paid.  It usually accompanies threats of violence.

Even though I had a valid US visa I was informed I could not post bail because of an Immigration Hold.  If an alien in the USA is charged with a felony they can be held for up to 48 hours by ICE to determine if they are a threat to the nation.

Your plan was working.

A day later I was taken to The LA Men’s County Jail.  Processed.  Screamed at.  They gave me a chest X-ray.  They fed me a baloney sandwich.  They asked if I was either suicidal or gay.  I told them I’m gay because I’d heard from Robert Downey Jr this was the only way to survive the jail and anyway I’d been out of the closet for a long time and I wasn’t about to crawl back in.  Not on your account Chris Cortazzo.

48 hours passed.  I was not released.

Whoever flicked the switch… whoever threw away the key did so at this moment.

To achieve this plan they needed a dependable federal government insider: someone prepared to override ICE protocol and keep me detained for longer than the mandatory 48 hour Immigration Hold.  This part of the plan required someone important in Federal Government to break the rules.  At the final reckoning I was held longer in Men’s County Jail on an ICE hold than any other pre trial detainee… ever.

Keeping a pre-trial detainee in jail until they bend to the will of the prosecutor is a common ploy.   It happens all over the USA.  It is happening right now as you are reading this blog.  People agree to anything to get out of jail and they assumed I’d plead guilty to felony EXTORTION and an automatic deportation.

As you can imagine, the jail is a dangerous place.  I had to get a grip.  Surprisingly I was very well equipped to deal with the jail.  AA/SAA had taught me a few simple tricks:

1.  Wherever I am… I am in the right place.

2.  It’s all part of God’s plan.

3.  Acceptance.  Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.

So many of the lessons I learned sitting with Sean MacFarlane, Jeremy Zimmer, Bryan Freedman and you Chris in the rooms of SAA and AA… listening to the 12 Steps kicked in and saved my ass.

And so… I sat in the jail.  For 86 days I sat in the jail.  I’ve already written about that, Chris.  I’m sure you’ve read it.

Almost immediately, the plan began to gently fray.  The first part of the plan depended on my finding the situation in jail… terrifying and intolerable.

You thought I was like you and Bryan and Jeremy and so many entitled, affluent white dudes?  You were certain I’d agree to anything to get out… including your terms. You thought I’d crumble.  You thought I’d lay down and die.  But the only thing crumbling… was your plan.

Chris, as you subsequently learned, I’m a stubborn son of a bitch and I wasn’t agreeing to anything.  So, for a few weeks I went back and forth to court.  The first two judges were ghastly and totally on your side.  They refused to listen to evidence, they were rude and surly to my attorney.

Do you remember?  I sat in front of you at the pre-trial.  I was shackled.  You sneered at me Chris.  This is where I learned how much you hated me after our date.  This is where it became apparent to me the rich can do anything they want in an American court.  They can buy the court just like they buy everything else.  Protected by your tame prosecutor, Chris… you looked so very smug.

After keeping me illegally in the jail for 86 days without a whiff of surrender, without capitulating, without giving an inch…. the ACLU started sniffing around my case and someone got scared.  Someone was likely going to be held responsible if something happened to me.  If I died in the jail of cancer… or a gall stone blockage… or fell victim to the violent deputy culture in the jail, which might very well have happened.

I realized two months into my incarceration:  Wow, this situation is illegal and someone… someone is going to have to pay for this!   I’m going to get paid for this.  I relaxed, thinking to myself:  another tough day at the office.   I played cards, I ate pork rinds, I had visitors, I kept myself out of trouble and I waited.

I told my friends on the phone I suspected my incarceration was illegal… knowing I was being listened to.   Then, one evening with a little warning from the Mexican nuns working in the jail for the Esperanza Project, I was called from my dorm, sat in a holding cell for a few hours, handed my clothes and ushered out of a small, unassuming door at the back of the jail.

The puckered asshole of the jail. Shat out onto the balmy LA streets.

At the final reckoning I was paid for every day I was illegally held as a pre-trial detainee without recourse to bail.

Fuck Chris, the day they released me from the jail you were on the phone for hours to your lawyers and the prosecutor and the prosecutor to your lawyers.  My release terrified you and a simple order of protection wouldn’t mollify you.  As I was getting out of the jail and headed home to Malibu and my dog… you were hiring 24 hour body guards.  You were frightened I would come after you.  And why wouldn’t you be scared?  After all, you and your friends had kept me locked up illegally for three months.

I must admit, when I first read this flurry of activity in your restitution claim (you expected me to pay your lawyers fees) and the hiring of body guards as documented in your restitution claim I laughed out loud.  I have no other weapon than this blog. The only weapon I have is so American:  freedom of speech.

Once out of the jail my lawyers and I relaxed into a long wait for you and your lawyers to alter your expectations.  You hadn’t really worked out what would happen if I didn’t capitulate.  You hadn’t worked on finding a corrupt trial judge.  You thought I’d be long gone.

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BRIAN TURNAUER

Were you assured by ‘Super Attorney’ Bryan Freedman and his unfortunately large featured lackey Brian Turnauer they would find you a sympathetic trial judge?

The catastrophic and totally unexpected final blow to your plan came soon after my release: Ms Wise seemed poleaxed by the judge assigned to our case: enter the unassailable Judge Jessic.  The Judge who couldn’t be bought.  The judge most likely to have integrity.  You should have seen Anne-Marie’s face Chris,  when she realized our Judge wasn’t going to play the game.  My favorite line of Judge Jessic’s to Ms Wise?

“I must admit I’m finding it difficult wrapping my head around this charge.  What’s the difference between threatening to blog and threatening to write a Yelp review?”

The prosecutor hung her head and said quietly… ‘nothing’.  You should have been there Chris is was GREAT.  Just like the time… and I’m repeating myself but it’s worth repeating… when Judge Jessic wondered out loud why I was sitting in the dock and not you.   We all know the reason for that Chris?   Because justice in the USA is reserved for the few who can afford it.

How quickly a felony dissolves into a convoluted misdemeanor when you can’t buy the judge.  At the suggestion of the ACLU I refused to plead guilty to anything and opted for the Californian ‘No Contest’ plea.  The huge restitution claim was whittled to almost nothing.  No fines or costs to pay.  All you were likely to get out of your ‘plan’ was a gag order.  A three-year gag order.

I had to sit quietly on probation for 18 months.  A grimy realtor from AA, the appalling self-promoting/self-obsessed/self-publishing Robert Radcliffe (Sotheby’s Palisades), called the police and told them I had been rude about you Chris Cortazzo.  I read the police interview, Rob.  The lies you told!  The police jumped all over the claim spending hours of their time filing reports.  Jessic threw it out.  He knew what was happening.

Tell me Chris, even though it’s election year and this may be dangerous conjecture.. I’m guessing Hillary Clinton did your federal bidding… just a guess?  To hold me indefinitely in jail… breaking the rules.  Did your billionaire mentor Barry Diller do the leg work?  Did Barry call the Mayor or the state department?   I can’t imagine Hillary would take your call, Chris.

I returned to the Palisades AA stag meeting.  The discomfort on the faces of Jeremy Zimmer, Bryan Freedman, John Artz (Malibu based DUI attorney with plenty personal experience of DUI) and the Dutch creep who burglarized my house whilst I was in jail.  I wasn’t disappointed.  They were outraged!  Jeremy complained bitterly I had broken AA laws by blogging about him.  Fuck you Jeremy Zimmer.  Fuck you.  There are no AA laws. There are no leaders.

Chris, this is the blog I must have written a thousand times since I left the jail, I wrote it… then deleted it.  I wrote it… then deleted it.  I must have torn up a million words.  Sometimes, I would frame the blog as an apology, sometimes a roiling river of resentment.   I had months to write it, months to rewrite it.  Waiting for the gag to be removed.

And now?  How did you affect the rest of my life?  As I outlined in my damages claim, I have PTSD.  I deal with it.  The experience inspired a general disgust for affluent, white gay men and specifically a loathing for realtors, lawyers and Hollywood agents.

The extortion law was originally written to protect people who had committed crimes or had secrets from being violently blackmailed.  Of course it’s hard luck when, in life, one gets fucked over.  In America the potential for being fucked over is a daily hazard, most often than not those who manage to successfully do the fucking over are hailed as the winners.  Just look at the Wall Street ‘winners’ rewarded for fucking over the entire nation.

Unlike most people who get fucked over, who cannot fight back…I have this modest blog.  It has proved to be one of the most effective fog horns in the world.

EPILOGUE 

Try as he might, Chris Cortazzo couldn’t keep out of trouble.  Chris faces more legal challenges.  As well as the lawsuit with Hiroki the Chinese Billionaire another grubby lawsuit has emerged… from a desperate Persian family whose property Cortazzo represented.  They are claiming Chris cruelly ripped them off.  The truths Chris feared most have revealed themselves.  A theme emerges: those of us who have publicly aired our grievances with Chris Cortazzo share a common bond.  We are all foreigners in the USA.

As for the legion of Million Dollar Listing fans who couldn’t believe Chris was anything other than a saint?  I ignored the lies written about me all over the internet; I don’t have to prove myself to anyone.  There’s no shame in my game.  With the help of the ACLU I sued LA County and a substantial financial settlement arrived from the City of Los Angeles a year later.  I sold my beautiful Malibu house.  I moved to New York and set about reinventing my life.

Bryan Freedman.  (I’m slowly shaking my head.)  There was a time I held you in such high regard I asked you to become my AA sponsor   It’s hard to forgive you Bryan.  You, Sean MacFarlane, John Artz and Jeremy Zimmer are the worst kind of ‘sober’ people.   Daily celebrating the AA message of humility, espousing the 12 Steps, quoting The Big Book… declaring forgiveness and ownership of ones defects of character.   Your ‘sobriety’ is a sham.  You may as well be drinking/drugging /cheating on your wives.  You remain the same Trump like arrogant hypocrites, behaving contrary to the AA message, as you always were.  The very same men who arrived in our rooms broken and defeated (I remember your stories)  begging for help with their alcoholism and sex addiction.  You have learned nothing… whilst affording me the greatest gift: LA County Jail.

The Brentwood celebrity Sex Addict meeting moved locations.  An undercover journalist sat amongst the sex addict group from a sleazy British newspaper.  He called me, wanted me to help him out.  The SAA attendees scattered. Members of the meeting asked why there was little financial accounting within the group.  Every week the 100 or so the very rich men in that school room would drop five or ten dollars in the ‘7th Tradition’ basket.  No one could account for it.  Where had the money gone?  Sean was removed by democratic vote as the group leader.  His wife left him.  The meeting disintegrated.

The cult of snake oil salesman Sean MacFarlane is not new to the anonymous programs.  AA/NA is particularly prone to charismatic leaders guiding the incomprehensibly demoralized addict and alcoholic out of the shadows and into the light.  Rehabs, sober living accommodation, half way houses and addiction counsellors… facilities mostly run by addicts and alcoholics, the lunatics are indeed running the asylum.  No doubt there will be many other Sean MacFarlanes ‘helping’ other desperate addicts achieve sobriety… of course,  for huge sums of money and little consequence.

As my interest in blogging dissolved and published less frequently this past year I often wondered how I would say goodbye (once and for all) to this blog.

Before I blogged I kept a journal. Laboriously hand written every day for twenty years.  Secret.  The blog became a paradox.  A public diary… yet intensely private.  If anyone mentioned the blog to my face I became indignant… as if they had snuck into the library and read my private journal.  When asked, I refused to talk about it.  The blog, I explained, was my public life.  If you want to talk about it do so through the blog.  “You are my private life.”

These past months I returned to keeping a hand written diary.  Life is too exciting not to.

Since Jenny Ketcham introduced me to WordPress in 2008 so much has happened.  Some good, some bad.  I’d dabbled with blogging when I first lived in Hollywood but it was only after I met Jenny during Dr Drew’s Sex Rehab that I embraced it.  I embraced the freedom and notoriety blogging afforded me.   Shortly after I began writing daily, as if to confirm my good fortune, Roger Ebert tweeted how brilliant it was.

The show, when it aired, was not well received among gay white men.  My blog too, seemed distasteful to the gays.  In fact, gay white men seem terrified of my blog.  It caused a visceral hatred.   Gay white men have so many secrets.  By exposing my own frailties and perversions the blog threatened to incriminate them all.

Yet, even though one might think many people read my blog, I rarely had large number of visitors, tiny numbers compared with successful blogs.  Occasionally the numbers would go crazy.  The largest number of visitors for one post?  The Bryan Singer blog.  20,000 people in one day.

During my most active period, writing daily, I built up a loyal following.  I was approached in the street, I was given unsolicited advice about my mental health,  I was sent gifts for the dogs.

I always wrote for myself.  I didn’t feel the need to be ashamed of anything.  I wrote about anger, intrigue, sex, sexuality, religion, politics and much to the horror of AA people… I wrote about my relationship with AA as I fell in and out of love with it.   Attendees at the ghastly Palisades Men’s 7.30am AA Stag meeting were particularly angry about this blog.

Fleeting love affairs rather than the cult of abstinence inevitably enriched my writing.   The relationship with Jake B existed more in the blog than it did in real life.  It flourished on these pages and withered on the streets of NYC.

Our love affair inspired me and the blog soared.  As the relationship failed… so did my writing.  When Jake and I split I sank into an obsessive, self destructive depression.  I posted every intimate detail of our life together.  The blog became less creative and more vindictive.  My loyal readers fell away.  Fury enveloping everything around me.  A thick cloud of resentment that took years to clear.  Years in the shadows with only my obsession to give me succor.  I worked it all out here.  Page after page after page. The carcass of our love affair lay there for years, like road kill.  If anyone googled his name my blog would jump up at and slap them in the face.  Page after page after page.  Finally, after much soul searching, I removed the most scurrilous descriptions of him. Why?  He wrote a long email that put an end to the nagging questions.  All I wanted was closure.

I was never very far away from the blog.  The blog came to define my years in the USA.

Of course! The blog, famously, became the instrument for which I was arrested.  It was sited in court documents, extravagantly quoted by the police and prosecutors.. but more of that in my final blog.

As I’ve grown happier, at peace… the blog becomes less interesting to write.  Long before it became a liability… I enjoyed the daily commitment.  I had a wonderful writing routine.  Waking at dawn,  a long walk with the dogs into the dewey Santa Monica mountains.  I spent far too much time overlooking the Pacific Ocean,  but when I was perfectly calm I’d sit at my desk and unpack the previous day.

It is not any more necessary for you to know me.   No longer appropriate for you to know every detail of my life. It is none of my business what you think of me.  That is for the book and the candle.  So, I bid you… my dear reader, adieu.

 

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1.

Last night, another fraught, upstate church basement, sandwiched between two miserable men at the damp and draughty AA meeting, sitting opposite the un-insightful chef, listening to the uninspired leader tell his wretched, cliched story… I was having a revelation.

Remember St Alphege?  Our local Protestant church? Whitstable?  Remember that? I must have been 8 years old when I decided to flee our secular household and join the choir.

The choir mistress dressed me in a black, woolen floor length cassock, a white starched surplus and a dramatic ruff.  I remember slipping on my costume, the voluminous sleeves, the swishing of the fabric around my legs.  I though, this is what an evening dress must feel like.  I feel fabulous.

It felt sooo fabulous I would break the church rules and wear my cassock and surplus home and hang out in my room, draped over my bed like a movie star.

I knew a great deal about movie stars.  I’d watch afternoon TV when ever I could. Black and white American movies from the 30’s and 40’s played most afternoons on one or other of the three channels available at the time.

My mother thought I wanted to be a priest. Nope, I wanted to be a glamorous movie star draped over a chaise lounge.

One sunday the Choir mistress told me I couldn’t wear my cassock home anymore.

Pissed, I began volunteering at the bi weekly church jumble sales. This gave me access to a huge number of free dresses.  I hauled them back to my room.  I don’t ever remember being ashamed.  My mother seemed amused.  My favorite was a black taffeta gown encrusted with jet beads.   I would hang out at home wearing that.

Thankfully, a prepubescent boy in a black taffeta ball gown didn’t seem to attract too much attention.  Even when I decided to wear it in the garden.  My neighbors asked where I got it.  “I designed and made it,” I told them.

2.

My mother borrowed an elegant navy blue crepe cocktail dress.  Loaned to her by my aunt.  She wore it to a party and the photograph of her from that dinner and dance makes her look so sophisticated.

One night, my parents were out, I crept past the baby sitter watching TV in the sitting room and into my mother’s bedroom. I pulled the dress out of her wardrobe and over my head.  The silk satin lining, lingering scent in the luxurious fabric.  I am a woman. 

It felt wonderful… but it didn’t fit.  It was too long.  It bagged under my skinny arms.  I looked in the mirror and the dress swamped me.  It was so unflattering.  I wanted it to look as marvelous as it had on my mother.  I found a pair of scissors and began altering the dress.  The more I cut into it the less it fit… until it was a tattered rag.

I lay in bed terrified I would be beaten.

She must have found it but she never said a word.

3.

My grandmother bought a remnant of purple, silk velvet.  It was beautiful.  She lined a cigar box with it.  With what was left I wrapped up a small doll I owned.  I would rub the velvet on my cheek.  When I took the doll to school… I was ridiculed, by everyone including my form master.

I woke up to a horrible reality.

Other boys did not have dolls, they were not wearing evening gowns at home and they did not have mad crushes on other boys.  The ridicule turned to homophobia.  Hmmm, I thought.  So, you’re going to hate me for something I can’t change?  I’ll give you good reason to hate me.  You don’t want my fledgling sexuality shoved down your throat?

Well! Suck this… bitches.

And so, I left the church.  I was sent to a boarding school in Shropshire.  To escape chores on a Sunday morning I’d join my head master John Lampen at a Quaker meeting in Shrewsbury.

I sat in silence for an hour then hang with my friend Susan at her parents house.  I didn’t listen to the Quakers whenever moved to speak in the meeting, but one Sunday somebody said something that caught my attention.  She said what all Quakers believe:

‘There is that of God in every man.’

I heard something I knew to be irrefutably true.  I understood instinctively there was indeed that of God in every man… we are all born with our own god, a relationship with a god of our understanding, as I was born with skin and teeth and hair… I was born with a soul.

God was an inherent functioning part of me.

Notionally I believed in an external ‘god’ from the brimstone vicar of St Alphege.  But he was obviously very disapproving of the kind of boy I am. This Christian God channelled through the pompous vicar hoseing down his congregation every Sunday with his sanctimonious Christian flavored God.  The God of sanctioned wars and disease who hated gays and abortion.

Their God was not my god.

I had a very special, unique god inside of me… he would not judge, he would understand. A gay god.  Of course my god is gay! Everything about me is gay, from my nose to my liver… to my god.

The God in this gay man, in me… was going to be my friend.  A friend who understood my doll and my jet encrusted ballgown.

We started chatting.  I trusted him. He would instinctively know answers to the most baffling problems if I listened carefully to my new friend.   When I stole something he would chide me.  When I strayed from the path he would gently guide me home.

I would never again face anything on my own.

4.

Like many teens I had a miserable adolescence and sought to change the way I felt. How ever I could. I listened less to the God inside of me.

A friendship cannot prosper if one or the other is ignored. So it was, as the years past, I made difficult decisions…  without consulting him.

Without him I made bad choices, choices I was ashamed of.  I turned my back on my helpful friend.  I chose ambition and drugs and alcohol… none of which interested him.

I ignored his protestation.

The more I ignored him… the weaker he became… his voice grew  inaudible.

Decades past.

I found myself, stunted, thirty something, staring into the bathroom mirror of our home in Kensington that balmy September… staring into my hollow eyes, my nose dripping, the house over run with lower companions.  My heart was beating like mad.  I called out to my old friend: God help me!

He was not there.   Instead of his reassuring voice… I faced a black hole, an abyss where once I found comfort and solace.

My diseased soul.

As I stood at the mirror I heard, quite clearly, another voice.  Another, less friendly voice.  And that harsh voice made clear the choices I had: to live or die.

So, that windy night, I chose to live.  The house emptied, I scrubbed the floors.  I ate dinner and slept at a decent time.   The following day I went to my first AA meeting and written on the wall was the word God.  A God of my understanding… and I knew I had come home.

5.

A few years later I had lunch with my mother.  The evening dress I had butchered in her bedroom as a child weighed heavily on my conscience.   I told her what had happened and apologized.  She looked at me quizzically.  “No,” she said.  “I remember that dress very well.  I returned it to my sister.  It was perfectly okay.”

“It wasn’t cut to ribbons?”

“No.”

“It must have been a dream.”

“Yes.”

A dream I had carried around most of my adult life.  The fear and the shame I had carried around for all those years.  I loved the dress?  I hated the dress?  I don’t know.

  
Did you think I was oblivious?  When I toured the fancy talent agencies?  Meeting the managers in their art filled, airy offices on the west side?  Shaking hands with eager entertainment lawyers. Do you think I didn’t notice the teamsters and the grips and the sales agents… the casting directors, the art directors and the camera department… do you think I ever said out loud… why are none of you black?  Why are so few of you latino or asian?

When I arrived in Hollywood, at the talent agencies, they introduced me to gay agents… because I’m gay.  They thought I might feel more comfortable. They talked gay with me.  They told me about their husbands, they hoped I might party with them in Palm Spings. What do they do with their black clients?  All those white agents perfecting their patois, their chicken and waffles… their white shame… their apology.

On their own… feeling safe, they tell you what they really think.  On the golf course, in the AA meeting.  Listening to the talent agency owner whilst he disparages woman (‘nobody wants a woman director’) and people of color (‘they just don’t have our work ethic’).  At the white AA meeting we attended in The Palisades I watch in awe as the sober, white entertainment lawyers… hoping to do business with the fat, short, racist… laugh in agreement.  It doesn’t go unnoticed that most of the powerful white men I meet pandering to low grade racism… are Jewish.

I was told by one mega producer who famously makes very, very white super hero films that he wished every muslim would either convert or die… and when I wrote to him the following day explaining members of my family were muslim he replied it wasn’t his problem I was related to ‘rag heads’.

I was called a rag head and sand nigger by a well known gay white writer when we fought about money.

The white, gay caterer told me last week he didn’t employ black people.  “It makes my clients uncomfortable.”  He smiles, he hopes his winning smile will somehow deflect my critical glare.  He hopes, because he has come out as a racist, I might extend some sort of sympathy, some understanding.  When he came out as gay… he was a hero.  Would his honesty about race garner the same result?

Sales agents told me, when casting  my film Dorian Gray, “Don’t even think about a black lead, we won’t be able to sell to the Middle East.”  They were unembarrassed by their racism, actively excluding black people from lead roles, from leading, from leading a better life.

I asked talent agents to suggest people of color to play Dorian Gray.  They couldn’t.

Charlotte Rampling and Michael Caine are not the problem.  The teamsters and the agency boss are the problem.  Of course Charlotte and Michael see black faces on set, in the make up trailer and at Craft Services.

They say the Oscars don’t matter.  Of course they fucking matter.  White people with an Oscar nomination can expect a wage increase of a gazillion %.  Awards are factored into contracts, an award contractually guarantees the writer/director/lead cast more money.  That’s how contracts are structured.

Pretend, as Robert Redford did yesterday, it was the work rather than the award that mattered… betraying his disingenuousness.  His elitism.  If awards don’t matter… get rid of the Sundance awards.

White men (gay and straight) keep women and people of color away from the big money, excluded from the validation, the opportunity, from the prizes.  

Prizes that suddenly don’t matter to Robert Redford… because it’s not about the glory, it’s about the work.

Tina Gharavi is an Iranian Film Director.  Her statement on Facebook today should bring tears to your eyes.

I am constantly told, oh it doesn’t matter, doesn’t exist, it’s not worth getting upset over…. or that it will change with time, that it’s all in my head… or make a film that they cannot ignore… or if you were any good, it will happen anyway…. At the end of the day, my whole career has been needing to prove myself twice more over than those on my left and right and it is exhausting. More than just the work itself, it’s the fact that people deny the prejudice even exists. When I first met my partner, he was skeptical that there were systems at play that did not give me the same chances as other filmmakers. After 5 years of watching, he has seen the many times that opportunities were given to others less qualified… of the invitations that never arrive… Now he is more livid than me…. He sees the fact that the panels will invite the white male director (except when it is a panel where they need to discuss diversity or need a female to turn up). Truth is many black filmmakers watch their white peers rise up with projects which are less interesting and challenging… well, one can imagine the effect that has on the soul. Films are a commercial as well as an artistic expression. I have said this before, sometimes I wish I had never left painting. You can paint without much money but filmmaking… that means a lot of people have to have incredible belief and support for your vision. Most of the time, however, it is a failure of imagination… and that is were we are all poorer. We need to confront this and Charlotte would do better than making choices and decisions based on her own experiences. I don’t know many black or ethnic filmmakers who would agree with her. I challenge her to work on my next film, not as an actress but as an Exec and watch exactly how many opportunities I am given which impoverish my fellow white filmmakers. I call her out… if she wants to really see what the truth of it is. If she was following my story so far she wouldn’t have said what she did. I don’t want a leg up just because there aren’t enough black filmmakers…. I want an equal opportunity because I have important stories to tell.


Carol, the well written, well designed, well shot, well acted but ultimately turgid new movie by avant garde industry darling Todd Haynes has a fan base… an angry, indignant fan base.

Many beyond the film industry feel this mostly second rate film should have earned a place in the best film and best director categories at this years academy awards.

The vociferous fans feel the film has been ‘snubbed’.

There are blogs and op eds and blazing Facebook posts about this apparent injuctice. The fans blame homophobia, misandry, misogyny and fear of women’s sexuality.

Even though Carol has in fact been nominated in 6 categories including the prestigious written adaptation category this is not enough for many disgruntled Carol fans.

There’s plenty to complain about this award season.  People of colour are vanished from the awards. Female directors?  None.  The roles women are asked to play:

Best Actor jobs: Screenwriter, astronaut, trapper, inventor, artist.

Best Actress jobs: Mommy, lady, inventor, girl, wife.

I’m wondering if, after this so called scandal, members of the academy will bother voting for this slight film at all.

Wether they are directed by white men or not (Carol was directed by a white man, a man… why?) most of the other nominated films are simply more engaging and well directed.

Personally, I’m rooting for The Big Short. There, I said it.

2.

Tivoli is under siege this afternoon,  gangs of identically dressed gay men.  Fur trimmed Parkers and skinny jeans.

Identical white gay boys.  Vile.

They stare at me dressed in my tweeds and hunters like I’m a fucking circus freak.

Fuck off.

  
The lottery.  One and a half billion dollars.  Imagine…

Imagining, like millions of others this weekend, how one might spend a billion dollars… I learned something helpful about myself and my life goals.

Recently I met a psychic.  She told me my mother would win the lottery.  I told my mother to play… she won $50.  She was thrilled. I was thrilled for her.

Gripped by Powerball fever, everybody wants a chance at the big money.  Everybody wants the Powerball mega bucks payout.  I took notice of the rolling stock market jackpot indicator.  $700,000,000.  I baulked at the tax one would have to pay.  You wouldn’t see any more than $300,000,000 if you opted for the one time pay out.  Sad face.

Frankly, a crisp $20 would have done the trick. 

Everybody wants the jackpot.  Rich people were doing it, poor people do it every week.  With so much at stake, everyone everywhere in the USA contributed to the largest purse in lottery history.

I surreptitiously bought five tickets at Hannaford supermarket in Kingston.  I told the woman who sold them I’d never bought a lottery ticket before.  A ghost of disbelief flickered across her white  face.

“A psychic told me to buy it.” I lied.

She said, “I’ve sold so many tickets to ‘first timers’ this week.”

“Thank you, thank you for that.” I replied.

I felt better about buying a lottery ticket.  I felt relieved.  Affluent people don’t buy lottery tickets.  Poor, uneducated people buy lottery tickets.  It was essential she understood I would never usually gamble in the ghetto.

As I lay in bed that night, my ticket folded neatly in my wallet, I imagined a life with $500, 000, 000 in the bank.  What would I do?  

We are all limited by our imaginations.

I’ve seen some of my friends earn extraordinary amounts of money. The last time I saw JJ he told me since becoming very rich, very successful… rather than having a huge life his life had… shrunk.  The same faces, the same path around the world.  Holding onto his position at the top of the pile. Fame and fortune can hamper the inquisitive.

My current best friend is very rich.  Very, very rich.  He lives well but has worked the same job the past twenty years.  His money and his job are unconnected. He has a nice life.  I found myself wanting to ape him.  A lovely apartment in the city, a house in the country, a dependable car.  He gives money to charity, he is generous with his friends.

But… with his kind of cash, where would I want to live?  To my surprise, I knew immediately that I didn’t want to live in the USA.  I started my search for a dream home in Paris.  I found a sweet apartment in the 7th for 1.5 million euros.  I looked for a country house in the french countryside and quickly settled for something that cost 500,000 euros.  

After I’d made myself and my family comfortable… which charity might I patronize?  I decided to set up a foundation for poor British kids who can’t get into drama school.  I gave money to a bat charity and another that supports country skills and farming practices.  I gave money to beautify Whitstable, my home town.  I concluded that with the bulk of the money I wanted to help the motivated, stuck in poverty or prejudice, achieve their goals… to break through their own glass ceiling and… fly.

As I lay there I realized I didn’t need $1.5 billion to achieve my rather humble aims.  Everything I wanted to achieve was within reach.  I could already buy a place in Paris.  I could determine to raise money for all of the charities I wanted to help.  Maybe winning the lottery, for some one like me would be a curse?   Untold millions would merely inflame the disease of more that seems to blight me… blight us all?

Today I walked home with half a baguette in my pocket.  This simple action gave me so much pleasure.

The first week yielded no winner.  I wanted to see this through.  The Powerball lottery and I have a relationship now.  I could have gone elsewhere to have a second go. Instead, I went back to the reassuring woman in the supermarket.

“Didn’t win?” She smiled.

I bought ten more.

I didn’t win that week either but three people did.  The jackpot divided into three paltry $300,000,000 increments.  I found myself wondering, what would THAT buy you in the modern world?

 

Hudson, NY 2015 winter.  I moved into the Princess Beatrix House, owned by Tanja Grunert and Klemens Gasser.   The ice so thick on their un-ploughed drive it’s almost impossible for the tiny Mexican movers from sunny California to negotiate the heavier items from the pantechnicon to the house.  They wear my Knole sofa like a huge hat.  It is bitterly cold yet these foolhardy boys brave the day dressed only in thin, grubby tee shirts and flimsy, cheap sneakers, skidding up and down the icy drive.  They are totally unprepared for the winter delivery.

Before I arrived in Hudson, NY I had never heard of Eric Galloway, Eleanor Ambos, Tim Dunleavy, Warren Street, Modern Farmer, Anne Marie Gardner, the Bonfiglio bakery… or the slew of slippery realtors wheeling and dealing all over town.

I didn’t know the Basilica or Helsinki or Etsy.   I didn’t know the darker side of hipster culture, the craving of desperate, lonely females and the clawing misery of gay men trapped upstate in search of a better, freer life.

The only person I knew ahead of my 9 months in Hudson was Marina Abramovic.  And it was she who piqued my interest the very first time my friend Tom Taylor showed me the building Marina had acquired, the building Rem Koolhas had been charged with transforming into a ‘laboratory devoted to performance art’ funded by 12 million crowd sourced dollars.

The Old Tennis Court on the corner of North 7th Street and Columbia Street in Hudson, NY owned by Marina Abramovic, stands forlorn, peeling and abandoned.  The windows boarded, trash blown under the grand portico.   It waits, warehoused like so many building in Hudson, for it’s owner to come renovate, repair or make good the myth of Marina Abramovic transforming this imposing building into her performance art institute.

Tom Taylor, stopped his beaten truck outside the building.  After several weeks of heavy snow and bitterly cold nights a wall of ice stood between us and the building.  He was excited to show me, telling a story I would hear many, many times from equally excited local people.

2.

Upstate New York .  Cheap, fertile land… derelict 18th and 19th century houses desperate for attention.  Abandoned red brick factories.  The promise of space and sanctuary.

My first visit to Woodstock, with cabaret star Lady Rizo three Christmases ago, my first real taste of life beyond NYC.  The thick white, blindingly white snow, the mountains, rivers and forests a welcome respite from 12 years of endless summer in Southern California.

I returned the following winter to the same charming stone house and started looking for a home to buy.  Property prices were very low.  As usual I was tempted by obscure, isolated locations but did not give in to that melancholic fantasy.

It was an invitation from Tom Taylor to Eleanor Ambos’s huge Victorian pile in Philmont that finally ignited my passion.  I’d met him on some dating app in the city when I spent that mad winter in the Captains House in Brooklyn.  After months of asking me to visit I finally bundled me and the dogs into the rental car and headed north.

Tom is the right hand man and beneficiary of Eleanor Ambos’s valuable real estate portfolio.  Her notable possessions:  the Pocket Book factory in Hudson and The Metropolitan Building on Long Island.

“It is as if she doesn’t hear the same music that everyone else is hearing,” says director Andrew Michael Ellis of 89-year-old Eleanor Ambos. In his documentary short Ellis follows the eccentric aesthete as she loses her eyesight to macular degeneration.

Eleanor bought the dilapidated Metropolitan Building on Long Island in 1980 as a cheap alternative to the area’s warehouses to store her vast and growing collection of salvaged antiques. The octogenarian owner caught Ellis’ eye while he was shooting there. “She had no intention of being a subject in a film at first, but eventually I became her friend, therapist, practically her lover. It was impossible to be a fly on the wall.”

The month I met her she had bought a 72,000 square foot mid century modern school in Claverack.    The day I arrived to see it she was laying a delicate floral carpet in the hallway.  “I like playing house.” she purred.  And that, my dear friends, is what attracts people to her and repels people from her.  I introduce her to the thin lipped owners of the Gilded Owl in Hudson, a most pretentious ‘gallery’ curated by interior fluffer Andy Goldsworthy and down and dirty art trader Elizabeth Moore.

THE GILDED OWL is an online journal exploring craftsmanship in modern and contemporary design, fine art, fashion, and music. Inspired by authenticity, ingenuity, and above all, quality, Andy and Elizabeth Moore continually investigate subjects of fascination and enlighten their readers as to what makes the beautiful beautiful.

And if that description isn’t enough to make you puke… Elizabeth, Andy and I visited an Ambos property (they were both eager to see) namely the magical Summit Mill in Philmont with Eleanor and Tom.  After the visit Andy and Elizabeth couldn’t wait to kick the snow off their moon boots and rip into Eleanor’s aesthetic, her hoarding and wonder how other people could find her so fascinating.

3.

Hudson has rich history of despair. The ghosts of a thousand hookers, gamblers and dismembered whales join those native Americans murdered here for their land.  Something very bad happened in Hudson, something catastrophic… something that has scarred its psyche, blighted the land and poisoned the air.  Those who spend a weekend in Hudson seldom notice it, those who live there become irradiated… toxic.

Resentment and vitriol.  The Hudson cancer… is much reserved for one successful Hudson businessman: Eric Galloway.

I visit Hudson only occasionally.  I walk Warren Street, much of it owned, to the chagrin of those impoverished white people who live there, by the stately Eric Galloway and his billionaire boyfriend Henry Van Ameringen.

At the very heart of the contempt for these acquisitive gentleman is racism.  Eric Galloway is an angular, elegant black man and the despair white people  have (who are not benefitting from his patronage) often descends into barely concealed racism.

‘Educated’ white folk who think they know better about architecture, who keep tabs on each purchase Galloway and Van Ameringen make all over the world.  Tanja Grunert and others could barely contain themselves when Galloway bought much loved and recently deceased (owner of the fanciful store Rural Residence) Tim Dunlevey’s iconic Union Street home.

“That disgusting man bought Tim’s house.” She said.

Yet, who was Tim’s ex boyfriend meant to sell?  The poor white people who couldn’t afford it?  Or, the contentious black man who could?

4.

This past year Hudson’s ‘revival’ (one of so many) has continued with renewed vigor.  The expensive, beautifully designed River Town Lodge opened at the top of Warren Street.  Farmer’s restaurant on Front Street spared no expense on its warm and elegant interior, bravely situated in a less salubrious part of Hudson and lastly the airy bar Or on 3rd and Union Street enjoys enormous success in a beautifully renovated 1930’s garage.  All quality establishments, some owned by Eric and Henry.

These small businesses are the future of Hudson.  Other larger businesses are sniffing around.  Soho House are discussing the possibility of opening in Eleanor Ambos’s Pocketbook Factory.  A whirl of invesment and optimism… yet, The Old Tennis Courts on the corner of North 7th Street and Columbia Street in Hudson, NY owned by Marina Abramovic remains forlorn and empty.

As painful as it is, it’s time for everyone in Hudson, NY to accept the truth:  Marina Abramovic isn’t coming.

 

 

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I am a carnivore!  I am a carnivore. The decisions I make around meat… the purchase and consumption are based upon the farm where the animal was raised.

Yesterday we ate a pig for dinner. It was really delicious. It came from a friends farm. It fed 10 people. However, the picture of me carrying the pig home seemed to upset some people. Some of them stopped being my social network friends.  Some of them… fellow carnivores.

I was accused of ‘lacking empathy’ for posting the pic above.

Many meat eaters pretend the meat they’re eating doesn’t come from a living animal. They are divorced from what they are eating.  This, my friends, is the tragedy of our age.

If you eat meat but cannot bear where it comes from… perhaps you shouldn’t be eating meat?  Most animals, most people eat are farmed in terrible conditions. Most carnivores blind themselves to this fact.

For those of you who eat meat but hate the idea that it was once a living thing.  Perhaps you should tour an abattoir? Perhaps you should pet a pig or cow or a sheep? Look into its eyes?

Maybe I am a cold hearted man for posting a picture of my dinner before it was cooked? Frankly, I think it’s far more honest to do that… than sanitized, pretty pictures posted on Instagram after the fact.

2.

Tamer Rice, 12 years old.  A child, playing with a toy gun (in an open carry state) with his sister in a public park was shot dead by two discredited Cleveland cops seconds after they answered an emergency 911 call.  They have since been absolved of their crimes by a corrupt prosecutor after a secretive and wholly inappropriate Grand Jury ‘trial’.

We know all about corrupt prosecutors.

Few of the ‘friends’ who were so animated by my photograph of me and the baby pig were moved at all to comment on the death of an innocent young black boy.

3.

Late one night, feeling under the weather after a bout of this particularly pernicious cold, I wrote a note to that ex.  Yep, I’m that guy.  Fuck. FUCK.

It was another misguided attempt to put the past behind me.

What is it about feeling sick that weakens ones resolve as well as ones body?  Keep me away from my lap top when a nasty cold makes me vulnerable to nostalgia.  Please.

I’d read somewhere that he has a fantastic new job and I wanted to congratulate him.  Why would I think my congratulations would be wanted?  It’s absurd isn’t it?   Congratulations.

4.

   

 

 

Last week a very young gay friend attended the Trevor Project’s Trevor Live 2015 event.  My friend is a proud member of their youth advisory council.  The Trevor Project remains one of the most ambitious and honorable LGBT organizations currently available to at risk LGBT young people, providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.

The Trevor Project was founded in 1998 in West Hollywood, California, by James Lecesne, Peggy Rajski, and Randy Stone. Creators of the 1994 Academy Award-winning short film Trevor, a dramedy about Trevor, a gay thirteen-year-old boy who, when rejected by friends because of his sexuality, makes an attempt to take his life.

Before this brave film aired on HBO the filmmakers, realizing that some of the program’s young viewers might face the same kind of crisis as Trevor, searched for a support line to be broadcast during the airing. They discovered that no such helpline existed and decided to dedicate themselves to forming an organization to promote acceptance of LGBTQ youth.

My young friend flew from the east coast to attend the event and by all accounts had a very enjoyable time… until he was sexually assaulted by an older gay man in front of his friends who thought it appropriate to cat call and high five each other when they saw my young friend being inappropriately groped.

It was not the only time that night he was sexually harassed/assaulted.

“I don’t understand why people think it’s ok to grab my ass and say crude, sexually charged comments.”  He said.

When I urged him to write to the Trevor Project and let them know what happened he was worried that they wouldn’t take the complaint seriously because the rich white men who had assaulted him were big donors to the Trevor Project.

I could write endlessly about gay white men, their pink privilege, their resistance to the notion of sexual consent and a widely held gay belief that men can’t assault, harass or rape other men.

My friend has (as of today) not written to The Trevor Project to report these incidents at their Trevor Live event.  It’s very hard for a young man, recently out, to articulate his disgust for this kind of behavior.

The assault did not take place in a bar or club where these assaults occur  all the time… more often than not overlooked by victim and perpetrator.  It happened at a fund raising event for at risk youth.

 

 

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I woke at 5am.  It’s still dark.  The wind roars through the maple trees. The last of the leaves scoot up chilly North Road.  The dogs lay under the covers, they know the drill:  every morning I get up at 5am, I take a bath, I drive to Rhinebeck in the beaten up Mercedes the crazy artist gave me.

I sit with the same kindly, sober men and women in the cozy church basement.  I toast raisin bread and drink mugs of black coffee.  I sit at the back, close to the piano.  I am knitting another fragment.

I like morning AA meetings.

Remember the Palisades?  That 7am meeting over the bank?  The fat agent?  The lawyer who couldn’t stop looking at porn whilst this wife lay sleeping.  Remember the good doctor, the beneficent politician who by the ‘grace of god and this program’ stays sober today?

Recently I woke up and had a radical, disturbing thought.  I had a crazy AA cult thought: that if I dared be late for the meeting, dared miss the AA meeting in Rhinebeck something catastrophic would happen.  That I might die.  That I might not be able to depend on God to keep me safe.  Even though I have committed to the path he has chosen.

They say in the rooms of AA: if you desire anything more than AA you will never achieve your desires.  That putting things ahead of AA means putting them in jeopardy.

I waited for a moment.  I thought more about the crazy catastrophic thought.  It made me angry.  What was I thinking?  I wondered how I’d ever achieve anything ever again?  How could I escape this ‘sober’ thinking?

The sober life they promised when I walked through the doors of AA was a ‘bridge to normal living’.  But my normal living has become enslaved by Alcoholics Anonymous.

I understood momentarily that living a fearless, hand it over to God life… has become inert.  The furrow God has ploughed for me, the one I dare not leave.  They say in the rooms that he’ll never put anything in my path I cannot handle.  As long as I hand my will and my life to him.  My will and my life.

Sometimes I’m willful.  Occasionally I want to take my will and get something achieved in my time.. not God’s time.  But I fear those thoughts.  Immediately I run back to the safety of a prayer, God Grant me the Serenity.  I am once again taken care of by the benevolent force.

Sobriety is no longer about not taking drink or a drug. I am committed to a way of life. So I might not make the same mistakes, create chaos, or harm those around me I commit daily to a strict routine of making lists, taking inventories, I pray and meditate, I reach out to the newly sober, I practice the principals of Alcoholics Anonymous in all my affairs.

But…

Where’s this leading me?  I’m on my own, and rather than invest in a robust social life with similarly healthy souls… sobriety causes me to think twice about any and all interactions.  I no longer desire the normal friction that casually brushing up against another human being causes.

I think twice about driving to the city.  I think twice about having my hair cut.  I think twice about leaving the house.  I think twice because I don’t want to think at all.

I say to myself, “Sit silently in the coffee shop.  Do not live in fear.”  I crave the promise that I might effortlessly know how to deal with problems that used to baffle me.  I take the route that most likely avoids any and all people.    My fantasy is: with God’s help I am a slender ghost who haunts my own life.

The following morning I went to the meeting and told them my doubts.   I explained the crazy thought.  They were very kind.  They have the same thoughts.  They reach the same conclusions.  They keep coming back.

I get home at 9am.  I let the dogs out.  They chase squirrels and deer. The day unfolds before me.  Sober.  A ghost.

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The rain, interminable. Cats and dogs. Great lakes puddle over the marshy back land.   Ominous clouds scud over the Hudson Valley.  Tom the gardener ploughs trenches down hill, unplugging the dams. Thirty years of fallen oak leaves dredged from soggy trench and damned culvert.  Branches thrown over the fence into the once vacant lot by lazy neighbours, removed. A scribble of dead bramble, removed. Now, on the northern perimeter, a pile of rotting vegetation – we might have burned on November 5th if we lived somewhere sensible.

However.

“There’ll be no bonfires in the village.” She said. The woman at the Mayor’s office. So. No wood smoke drifting over sparkling, frosty fields, no Guy Fawkes. No baked potatoes wrapped in scalding tin foil found amongst the dying embers.

I call friends in Los Angeles, they ask smugly if I’m prepared for the winter. They have no idea. Windows, insulation, boiler… thick curtains thankfully saved from other draughty, Victorian mansions. The winter months do not scare me. Come winter, come freeze the air, let the first snow fall.

How many pairs of gloves will I lose this year?

I am happy in Tivoli, so are the dogs. They chase squirrels, rabbits and deer.

The Little Dog has been skunked twice. Good God! The second time I took him to the vet, where they washed him with some magical solution.   Better than being savaged by coyote or bitten by a rattlesnake… I suppose, cheaper to remedy. He’s such a brave, curious, foolhardy Little Dog.

Dude hasn’t been skunked once, he hangs back from anything mildly threatening. He learned to climb the steep stair in the new house, laboring one step at a time he finds us in bed then dances on two legs until I fetch him up.

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I drive my old Mercedes into Hudson once a week. It’s a lovely town to visit but I hated living there. I hated it.  Frighteningly, I can’t remember the name of the road where I lived. Let me remember. Bellview, Fairview… PROSPECT!  Prospect Avenue, Hudson, NY.

So many irrelevant details scrubbed from the hard drive.  I will never forget that house.  That vile, ‘English Tudor’ house on the optimistically named Prospect Avenue. Overlooking the hospital; and a busy, dirty road.  The worst place (by far) I ever lived. Badly designed, badly renovated, so badly insulated: incapable of keeping heat in the winter or cool in the summer.

The house was haunted, not by angry ghosts moving things around or waiting in the corner… but melancholy, lonely women, dragging themselves up and down the stairs.  Most evident, the ghost of an elderly school teacher who spent twenty years peering from the sitting room window, equally scaring and delighting passing school children like a Halloween ghoul.

The house attracts lonely women.

Tanja Grunert, the current owner,  is the last of a long line.

So, I dedicate this blog post to her. To lonely Tanja whose life is more treacherous than a Hudson pavement in mid January.

The night I met Tanja she was wearing a huge black and white fur coat.  Like a skunk.

IMG_9720A short, stocky woman, she wears baggy jeans and tailored jackets. Her cropped, gray/mauve hair… cut hard around her masculine, pudgy face.   A smear of red lipstick, the only evidence she might be a heterosexual woman.

The night we met (by accident over steaming bowls of Asian broth) I should have run away.

Sadly, I have never had the resolve to run from a catastrophe.  As the towers came down I ran toward them.  There is something immediately alluring about Tanja, something fascinating.  From the moment we met I was hooked.  Some people are.  I’ll not be the first and I won’t be the last.  She crafted a first class art world career from a scintillating  first impression.

That night Tanja focused her all on me, seducing and melting… gasping and fluttering, roaring her huge laugh.  After dinner she invited us to the house… that house.

Much later I understood the only time she threw back her head, roaring that infectious laugh, was used as part of a sinister, well rehearsed routine.  A carefully constructed formula.

We discovered we had many people in common, Jay Jopling, Samia Saouma and Benedict Taschen.

She told me how beautiful I was. Told me I was her ‘type’. I was clear about my sexuality, “I am a gay man.” I said, as she coquettishly batted her eyelashes, grabbed hold of my hand, inviting us back to her cold, empty house. “Oh I’m so sorry.” She bows deeply into every apology. She is a committed apologist. “English is my second language.”  During our cohabitation I must have heard her say a million times, “Excuse me if I don’t understand.”

It was a lie.  I knew from the beginning she understood everything very well. Yet, I chose to ignore her lies. I chose to ignore, that cold winter, her lies, her homophobia, her racism, her alcoholism and her delusion.

Tanja is an alcoholic.  She is the kind of binging alcoholic who convinces herself that because she doesn’t drink in the morning she doesn’t have a drinking problem…. but she drinks in the morning. She is the kind of alcoholic who convinces herself that because she doesn’t drink alone she isn’t an alcoholic… yet, she drinks alone. She is the kind of alcoholic who convinces herself that she isn’t an alcoholic because she doesn’t black out and wet the bed…

She drank wine by the bottle, chain-smoked cigarettes; listened to opera so loudly on her record player that good conversation became impossible. Drowning in Wagner, drowning not waving, into misery.

That night, my first visit to her house, she lit a fire in the huge, totally empty sitting room.  Her husband was gone. He had taken flight that summer. Taking with him the money (his fathers) and the possibility.  She told him: “You cannot come to the house in Hudson.” He said, “You can’t have money to furnish it.”

I said: “You have an empty house and I have furniture.”  She said “Yes!” immediately.

Listen for a moment. Stand back.  Re-read my offer and tell me what could possibly go wrong?

Obviously it was terrible mistake. Half measures avail us nothing. I had no right making a deal with this devil. She started texting and calling all day and all night.  She would introduce me to her friends as her boyfriend or her husband.  She’d tell everyone who would listen that she loved me.  I was living in the East Village. We had dinner in the city. Tanja tried making me pay for her expensive wine habit… I refused.

Instead, I moved in.

So began a slow, interminably slow, head on collision. Two cold, stubborn alcoholics buckling, catastrophically into one another.   I spent nearly a year at the house, firstly because I was entranced… then the doors began to slam behind me. The furniture arrived and she took what she wanted from my things. “Each thing more beautiful than the last.” She cooed.

My Gary Hume disappeared.

Because she is an unapologetic racist she made me hide my African art because black people do not interest her. They make her ‘think of slavery’. They ‘make me sad’.  “I would never sleep with a black man.”

She buys five tickets for the Bjork concert but can’t find anyone to come with us.  Finally she invites people who barely know her.  They say, “I don’t know her at all.” At the will call she’s told very clearly that her tickets are being exchanged for better tickets.  Tanja starts screaming. Screaming at everyone.  Kicking the theatre.  I stand back and watch her disgusting spectacle.  I take the tickets, tell her to shut the fuck up, lead her into the theatre.  We take our excellent seats at the front of the theatre.

Shocked by her behavior we walk in silence back to the car after the event, unable to discuss Bjork like normal people.  Like the normal people around us, happy and grateful to have seen Bjork.  Her tantrums, her temper, her screaming, her crying fits of righteous outrage and indignation became so regular I learned to ignore them.

The winter was long and hard and cold.  Minus 23 degrees.  Unheard of upstate New York.  I found myself held hostage by the masculine German woman in the unfriendly house.

She refused to fill the oil tanks. The house froze.  The pipes burst.  The tiles fall from the bathroom walls. I fill the oil tanks myself, ferrying 10 gallon cans from a filling station five miles away.

The chaos, her unmanagability became easier when the sun began to shine.

Spring came suddenly this year.  The original deal she reneged.  She wanted money.  Always desperate for cash.  Another good idea blown into a million pieces. I handed it over.

Her grasping, fat fingers.  Her solid, bruised, Teutonic arms quaffing wine, passing out, laying naked on her bed until she leaks yellow stinking piss all over herself.   Naked on her bed, not sleeping but unconscious. Laying like the dead waiting for the autopsy, naked on her back.   Acres of white flesh.   “We are always naked.” “We always talk to ourselves.” “We only eat from Fish and Game.”

She tells everyone that an important publisher has commissioned an auto-biography. She says that the money will come.

“We only write in the kitchen.”

“We hate mood lighting.”

She spends hours under the harsh light at the kitchen table tapping on her keyboard, claiming to write a book some grand publisher might (or might not) have commissioned. She says she’s researching but she’s on the internet trying to fill the consuming void her younger husband left when he scarpered last June.  Filling the gaping, suppurating wound with Internet dates on match.com, okcupid and other… less salubrious sites. She shows me a thousand pictures of penis she has been sent.

Her less sexually ambitious female friends think she is a pioneer. This old queen knows she is a lonely, sleazy woman on the cusp of suicide.   In and out of Belleview. Unable to accept the truth.   Popping pills. She is poor, illegal and single.

Gay men seldom share the cache of penis we’ve been sent on line. Maybe the largest or the smallest. Maybe the most beautiful. She indiscriminately shows me every one. She wants me to know she is still relevant, that her menopause hadn’t knocked her through a hoop. (Like Samia before her.) But her boast falls on deaf ears. I look at her poker faced, disguising the pity I have for her.

There’s a young art dealer in town with a cool gallery, I buy art, he delivers the art to the house. He knows who she is. Curious to see where Tanja lives, he is surprised that the house is so clean. He expects to see a mountain of empty bottles. He tells me that she owes everyone money, him included.

“There’s a joke art dealers tell each other. They laugh about how long they’ve been in the art business. They say, I’ve been selling art so long… I remember when Tanja Grunert was hot.”

I reserved the most sympathy for her children who instinctively knew how selfish, self-obsessed and self pitying she and her ex husband are.   Both so eager to flee from her, like the men she meets on-line. A French man meets with her and tells me “Within a few minutes of phone conversation she offers to lick my ass.” to be his toilet. When he meets with her he says he could not fuck her because fucking her would be like “Fucking grandma.”

After meeting him she text messages twenty times an hour. She sobs, howls… when it becomes apparent that he is not interested in her. She wrings her hands and bangs her head into the wall, she blames everyone for her distress.

She meets another man and calls at 1am to ask where they can find a woman for some three way. I terminate the call.

Her teenage daughter watches as every man her mother meets on the internet lets her down. Steals what little she has left.  She has learned to keep quiet. She is biding her time, waiting for the day she can turn her back on them all.

Tanja boasts that during her second pregnancy with the girl she was high on cocaine, drunk on alcohol every day for the first trimester.

Her insufferable, precocious, entitled, blue-eyed son lives with us for the summer. He leaves chaos and mountains of trash infested, after a few hot days, with maggots. He said, “You are the room mate, you must clean up after me.” I refuse.


I video the mess and send it to his mother. He is now at an expensive college in SF exploring his homosexuality, thankfully a long way from his gentle, yielding girlfriend who was often heard plaintively asking the teenager why he needed to hurt her to express his love.

The boy barely conceals his contempt for the girl. Like his mother, like his father, like his grandmother. Generational dysfunction.  Violence. Violent to others, violent to herself, Tanja told me her husband would beat her in the bedroom.  Not because he loved her… because he hated her.  The provenance of the son’s fledgling misogyny evident for all to see.

The son drinks until he passes out.  Naked on his bed.  His father drinks himself into a black out… she wets the bed. I could smell the piss before I saw it.

Her son wants to stay with me at the hotel.  I cling to the edge of the bed.  As far as I can from his yearning adolescence.  Tanja wants to know why he is so interested in me.

For all of her gay friends, she is an unapologetic homophobe. She makes sneering jokes about ‘Your side’ and ‘Your people’ she tells me that I am ‘No use’ to her.  They are not jokes, they are evidence of her deep-seated homophobic resentment. For all the extraordinary gay men she surrounds herself, delighting them with her drama… she hates gay men. We are good for loans and art purchases. We loyally turn up at the hospital every time she half-heartedly overdoses.

When I brought that beautiful boy Spencer home, she asked if he was my boyfriend, then slandered me in German.  My school boy German catches every word.

Gay men know this: we all know that those determined to kill themselves rarely fail. The rest, like Tanja, merely crave the attention: cosseted in hospital beds, prescribed medicine, given the benefit of the doubt.

The gays around her provide the Greek entertainment.  The chorus.  Picking up the pieces.

At dawn, when she finally let me sleep. Before she falls into her bed, Tanja became sexually abusive. When we are on our own, if I’m the only person in the house she focuses her sexual violence on me.  Keeping me awake until dawn, drinking and smoking. Trying to touch me.

When, at the end, I mention that she is sexually harassing me and I could sue her… she smiles a smile only a torturer could have smiled and I saw very clearly into her rotten, stinking soul. She looked like the devil. I saw the devil smile. I will never forget that smile, for it was quite unlike anything I had seen before.

In the morning, by way of apology, she reminds me again that her mother had abused her. That she had hidden from the Nazis by living in a box under a mill, like a fairy-tale troll. After the war her mother had children and beat them. This was the excuse she gave for abusing me.

The same excuse. Again and again.

Excuses: excuses not to pay her artists, why the house would freeze and the pipes would burst.  Excused for not having insurance when Sandy hit Manhattan and filled her Chelsea gallery with raw sewage. Excuses for not paying her taxes, for not bothering to renew her visa.  Excuses why she never made a better job of killing herself. Excuses and apologies. One after another. A crocodile of dead infants snaking their way to hell.

After my painful pancreas operation, drowsy on meds she made me drive to the bank, fetch her $3000 and then punches me when I burst into tears. She apologizes immediately; she tells me that she was abused by her mother.   It’s too late. The summer is coming to an end. I hate her with such vigor. I hate being near her, I hate her voice, her smell, her proximity.

We drive back to the gallery where an angry artist is waiting for cash. Arms crossed.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand.”  She pleads with the angry artist.

At the end of August I empty the house of my possessions and I am free. 8 months of hell finally comes to an end.  I move to Tivoli.

Even after I am gone she demands money.  I have learned not to respond or engage.  A good lesson in restraint of pen and tongue.

Tivoli HotelDevon Gilroy

There are many wonderful things to recommend a visit to The Hotel Tivoli or The Corner Restaurant in Tivoli, Duchess County.   The exquisite decor, the art, the many celebrities who visit this tasteful oasis created by the sensationally successful artist Brice Marden and his imposingly chic wife Helen.  Adding The Hotel Tivoli to a burgeoning chain… they also own The Golden Rock Inn on the Caribbean island of Nevis.

Together with landscape architect Raymond Jungles, Brice and Helen have turned Golden Rock into something extraordinary: a jungly hideaway, with the artfully overgrown botanical gardens of a fantastical world. It’s impossible to tell where the gardens end and rainforest begins. Curious plants grow on a grand scale: giant palms, like fans of the gods; elephant’s ears so vast you can use them as parasols. On this island-in-the-sun you can almost hear them growing.

Without doubt the Mardens’ have exquisite taste and an eye for sensitive restoration.

The Hotel Tivoli, once the Hotel Madeleine is an imposing Victorian building on the corner of North Street and Broadway in the heart of charming Tivoli.  Apparently, when they bought it, it had seen better days.  The Mardens’ transformed the building from dull… to glamorous.  The startling restoration of this fine building has attracted many new faces to what was becoming a Bard dormitory town.  Indeed, the younger staff at the Hotel are all Bard attendees.

These optimistic, wealthy students who flush through the town every year, year after year lend the place a Southern Californian hippy vibe.  Youngsters hang out on stoops, out of windows, laughing and singing.

Tivoli HotelTivoli Hotel

The whole operation would be perfect were it not for the chef at The Corner, Billy Gilroy’s errant son Devon Gilroy.  Covered in Tattoos, clipped hair… I met him through one of his many, many ex girlfriends who he dumped unceremoniously… but continued fucking.

This good looking, bearish, slightly over weight young man is single handedly the fly in the luxurious ointment at The Corner Restaurant.  Despised by his wait staff and many of the women in the hotel, he bullies anyone and everyone in his kitchen.  Perhaps he thinks he needs to behave like Gordon Ramsey to be a great chef?  In fact, this screaming, shouting and abusive behavior has more to do with his insecurity than some mad, uncontrollable genius.

Only today one of his ex staff bemoaned how he treated her disrespectfully, reducing her to tears…  then, after a couple of days, Devon makes a simpering passive/aggressive faux amends.

Devon Gilroy is a very lucky boy.  Helen and Brice Marden sent him to Morocco to learn the ways of North African cuisine.  He came back with a lame Tagine and a recipe for ‘Moroccan street bread’… what ever that is.

During the Spring, after the harshest upstate winter,  I made a great effort and spent a lot of money supporting The Corner Restaurant, well before the summer rush.

There were occasion when my friends were the only party in the restaurant.

I introduced fancy architects, I took my celebrity dot com friends. I took artists and art collectors and gallery owners.  As the restaurant grew busier the food shrank in portion, the plating messier and the quality dwindled.  I took my very best English friends and a clumsy waitress spilled a bottle of beer on his head and over his white shirt.  No apology.  Nothing removed from the bill.

My early Yelp review raved about the place.  I wished it every success.  I have stayed in the Hotel twice.  The rooms are wonderful (I really wanted to write wonderful in Caps) and The Hotel remains without any serious competition for 100 miles.  I urge you to break the bank and stay in the Hotel Tivoli, eat the amazing breakfast (divine almond cakes and home made jam) but please don’t bother with dinner at The Corner, unless… you’re drinking at the spectacular marble bar.

(Hungry?  Drive six miles to Gaskin’s in Germantown for dinner.  A class act.)

Oddly, my later… less complimentary Yelp review was removed at the The Corner’s demand.

Pity they forgot my blog.  I didn’t.

Brice and Helen Marden run a money no object operation at the Hotel Tivoli.  It is a beautiful gift to the people of Tivoli.  Stuffed with iconic, contemporary furniture and millions of dollars of art.  A true gem.  There is a huge portrait of Helen at the top of the stairs by Francesco Clemente.  It is without doubt one of the finest hotels in the state of old New York.

I’m sure that with well trained servers and a new, less tyrannical chef, (working along side Nancy the excellent GM and Jeannette the elegant maitre d’)  this star restaurant will rightfully sparkle in the local firmament.

Brunch Hotel TivoliHelen Marden by Clemente


 I took a picture of this boy last night.  He is fucking gorgeous.

1.

There is something all at once despicable and wonderful about small town living.  Small town people are small town people for a reason. They are exactly the same the whole world over… unless they’re living a double life (NYC and Upstate) after a few years… their brains begin to atrophy.  They are left behind, destined for a life of small minded, tight-lipped misery.

Hudson is just like Whitstable.  I’m used to the small town narrative.

Like Whitstable, every weekend Hudson fills with the fabulous and the not so fabulous.  They arrive on packed trains from the city and in expensive SUVs.  Yet, it is those stuck upstate season after season toiling year after year in Hudson or in outlying communities that are most damaged.  As hard as I try steering myself clear from these half baked personalities and the inevitable drama, one is drawn to both like a moth to a flame.

They, the hapless year-rounders, want to know you as much as they don’t want to know you.  When they meet you they quickly establish if you are a threat to their superiority.  They want to feel superior.  They gobble up half-truths on google.  They regurgitate everything they think they know to whom ever will listen.

As I’ve written previously it is with neurotic, heterosexual, single, childless women that I have most trouble.

This week I had a run in with a woman who was in the habit of dumping dog shit over her fence and onto my land, then there’s a female fag-hag realtor related to the Woolworth family and recently fired from her realty business… after meeting me she called her ex relatives in Hollywood to spread misinformation… and then… most tragically an ex editor who limps from crowd to crowd soliciting sympathy for her bad choices wherever and whenever she can.

The realtor, Pamela Murphy is the poor cousin of producer Cassian Elwes rich ex-wife.  She used to work for the very posh Hudson realtor Mary Mullane.  The first time I met Pamela she spent an hour degrading Mary (who fired her) in a way I knew she would eventually degrade me.  When it happened (as I knew it would) I called and reminded her that her shrill, unsophisticated demeanor had caused her to be a terminally single fag hag.  That and her obvious alcohol abuse problem.

Hudson heterosexual males aren’t so bad.  I’ve met a good-looking dog whisperer and an ex LA gay for pay property developer.

Mind you, the weekenders are not immune from pettiness. The ‘blond’ art dealer and her gay business partner have a couple of drinks and abuse her hapless husband.  The slim, gay interior decorator with floppy hair confides that his business partner’s husband is lazy, that he doesn’t have a job, that the art dealer supports him… that she should never have married him.

That’s the problem with gay men… they want their best women pals married to them.

Listen, I am in opposition to most things.  A legacy from fighting for my gay life since I was 13 years old.  You don’t like gays?  Fuck you.  You don’t want gay people to shove their lifestyle down your throat?  Let me shove this gay shit down your fucking throat.

2.

I meet everyone who passes through Hudson.  Bumping into legendary Micky Wolfson and iconic Joseph Holtzman the creator of Nest magazine, or the terrible Rob Roth (momentarily without Deborah Harry’s balls in his mouth) but escorting the totally insane Parker Posey.  Sticking out her hand.  “Hello, my name is Parker Posey.”

So, when I bumped into Bruce Cohen and Gabe his charming, much younger husband and their adorable daughter on Warren Street last weekend I was not entirely surprised.   Bruce is looking haggard.  He still has shoulder length, curly blond thinning hair, he looks like a straight stoner who can’t bring himself to get another look.  As if his long curly blond hair defines who he is.

He’s a great producer but seemingly no longer with producing partner Dan Jinks.  Remember it was they who asked me to direct Liberace starring Michael Keaton.  Anyway, I wondered what he was up to and he said he was developing a gay history series with Dustin ‘Lance’ Black and Cleve Jones.  I nearly threw up my breakfast.  I couldn’t think of anything worse than a Lance Black gay history series created to ‘educate’ straight people.  A Lance Black whitewashing of our history from the arbitrary starting point of Stonewall.  I went on… why are you working with that idiot?  Why not George Chauncey, Neil Bartlett, Stephen Fry… anyone but fucking Lance Black and Cleve Jones.  Thankfully Bruce’s husband agreed.

And what about gay people of color I asked?  Queer culture?  Oh, Bruce reassured me, “We have a black man,” adding weakly, “We’re telling his story.”  But let’s face it.  Bruce and Lance aren’t interested telling the black gay story… because this show is for white straight people.  What about lesbians I demanded?  He buckled.  Realizing that his white gay male documentary was going to be a big pile of exclusionary SHIT.

It galls me that people like Lance and Bruce get to tell our history… where were they when I was being visible at 13?  Where were they when others were taking direct action for Outrage or Act Up?  I’ll tell you what they were doing… they were hiding under the covers.  Cowed by religiosity and gay fear.

I register their distaste.  These gays.  These cowardly white gays.  Those white gays who rode on the coat tails of those of us who confronted the status quo.  Whilst I was reminding straight people in the 1980’s how lucky they were to enjoy our clubs and bars, whilst I let them know that I did not enjoy the same privileges they took for granted… and risked their violent ire.  Bruce and Lance were thinking only of themselves, propping up the white patriarchy.

Whilst i was making queer films and queer plays for queer people without deferring to straight people… men like Bruce and Lance and every gay male agent I met at all the big Hollywood talent agencies were telling me to stop telling queer stories because there was no future in it.  Future = Money.

Catalina

The day is bright and humid.  The endless hum of lawn mowers, all summer long.  The grass grows lush and green.  The trees heavy with monstrous leaves and creeping vines.  Gold and purple wild flowers a meter high at the side of the road: Golden Rod, Deptford Pink and Bouncing Bet.

The Hudson River meanders gently toward the city, decorated at its marshy edge with great swathes of invasive water chestnut.  Feeding the lazy Hudson River, fast moving creeks course down the mountain, over shallow rocky beds and over the curvaceous, verdant landscape, dramatic water falls, giddy tributaries.  Vast, flat abandoned reservoirs formerly providing local industry with renewable energy.  Magnificent 19th Century, red brick factories stand empty, patiently waiting for a thousand weavers to march through the mahogany doors and start weaving again.

The land like the water resources here in upstate New York remains mostly uncultivated.  That California with no water still provides America with the majority of its fruit and vegetables while this verdant place remains fallow.

No lawn mowers in the Santa Monica Mountains.  Just the wheeling of the hawks, the booming crash of the waves at night rolling up the canyon with the morning mist.  They ask me if I miss Malibu.  They wonder why I would trade Malibu for this.  I had 12 good years in LA before I had my last rather complicated… year and a bit.  Do I miss it?  No, not really.  I miss my house, I miss slopping around that huge room.  Looking at the ocean.  The dogs finding patches of sunlight.  I don’t miss the rattlesnakes or the coyote.  I don’t miss the brush clearance.  I don’t miss the winding road to the PCH.  I miss the prestige of having the house.  I do.

Misty Morning

The magnificent pines at the back of the house, the Brazilian Orchid Tree, the figs, lemons and cherimoya.   I wonder who takes care of the carp?  I wonder if the gophers invaded the garden this year?  I wonder if they fixed everything I never got around to?

As one grows older it is harder to make sense of change.  Rapid, inexplicable change.  This is the great secret of the third age.  We are less adaptable.  We seek comfort and safely.   It is hard to imagine what will come next.Final Day