Wednesday, October 12, 2016

You Should Know the Score By Now

New York! It's always a thrill to enter this city. "La Capital" as they say in Argentina. Capital cities have that vibe of everything converging in a culture or nation. Mexico City has it, Buenos Aires has it, and New York has it in spades. Makes you remember how amazing, despite all its dramas and shortcomings, this country is. It's hard not to feel overwhelmingly motivated and positive here, and even when folks complain, it's still New York. San Francisco seems mired in misery about rising rents and gentrification, but NYC, no matter what happens, can be defeated by nothing. It's a god or goddess of's everything that's best about America....and it makes you feel something about the human spirit..fuck yeah, look at this! Look what people can build! Richard LaBonte said, "it's majestic"...yes, like a big fabulous castle...or as captured by George Gershwin and Woody Allen in true romantic writer mode:

A song I always sing when I visit, probably because I first visited New York City as a high school student in 1979 when this song was on the radio...with all its sweet, plaintive disco sadness... listen to all the words...

You're no tramp, but you're no lady, talkin' that street talk
You're the heart and soul of New York City

I'm the same. I'm not the heart and soul of NYC of course...I'm not sure what I'm the heart and soul of, but I'm no tramp nor am I a lady...I'm something in between, talking my sweet talk....

My other favorite Manhattan song..courtesy of Blossom Dearie....

And if women are singing the city's praises, why isn't it singing back to them?

This guy poured me coffee at a diner and I said, "you must be Mike"..."No" he answered, "I'm Chris -- Mike and Kyle are my band mates"

The lovely little Queens rowhouse that I stayed in while Mark and Bill were off in Barcelona and Portugal. Bill and Mark are my oldest gay friends, a couple who've been together 32 years. Both amazing people and champions in a million ways - they took me to my first ACT UP meeting, they did yoga with me for years, they both inspired me with their activism, their art, their generosity and goodness, their humor, their ability to live and be happy and do what they love - to serve others and to enjoy, which is my goal as well. Their love for each other has inspired me and put the lie to all those who have tried to dismiss gay love...Fuerza Bill and Mark, love you both so much

Then and now....


Bill never aged as you can see, and Mark only slightly, much like myself.... I love their neighborhood, which is still pretty pre-grentrification...lots of Greeks, Mexicans, women in it because it's unselfconscious...the few hipsters or yuppies (remember that word?) can be seen at the newer eateries, etc. - generally self-conscious, vain, and unfriendly, sad to say...but those who seek wealth and power are the same everywhere in all times (power and wealth are the booby prize of human life, or as Bruce Springsteen once said of the burbs - the door prize)......instead, seek connection, seek service, seek art, live in the heart not the head...those who do are spilling out of the trains in Queens, with lunch pails and snotty little kids, offering me directions and good wishes, welcoming me home...and what is home? For me, it's a friendly smile from a stranger in a faraway place, someone who gives with no expectations of anything in return other than the affirmation of we are all here together for whatever reason, lets be kind to one another

My good fortune: Leonel, who I met in Oaxaca in 2014, just happened to have moved here in the interim. I had no idea! We spent a lovely day walking the breadth and length of Central Park. For the first time, I didn't visit a museum, so strong was my longing for nature after a solid week of concrete and airports...and the bonus of getting to speak Spanish for 3 hours with this good, gentle man :)

High rent apt bldg flipping off us poor folks out for a stroll

Some of the folks at the reading...bottom left, Jim Eigo, an early champion of my work, and behind him Tom Cardamone, my favorite gay author...then left to right...Paul Masse, Greg and Donnie, Jerome, Kyler, Rich, Joshua and Chris. We had an amazing discussion afterward about art, life and pushing the envelope

Tom's artful pic:

And the Keith Haring murals all over the walls in the gay center's that's pushing the envelope for pubic go, Keith! 

"Once Upon a Time” was an homage to the more care-free days of bathroom sex before HIV and AIDS ravaged the gay community in New York and beyond. These are not the Haring images we are used to seeing on buttons, magnets, puzzles, and clothes; this is the private, sexual Haring come to life in a grandiose and unapologetic celebration of gay sexuality. 

Chris, on our rainy walk down to Poet's House to see Alfred Corn, who was being feted by the likes of Edmund White...

Edmund White is probably the grand dame of gay letters, and he's the sweetest man you'll ever meet. I see him occasionally and was really happy to see him at Alfred's event...I happened to be reading his short story collection, Skinned Alive, so he signed it, and I passed along my book, which I hope he enjoys. Below, myself with poet Alfred Corn

Then it was off to meet filmmaker, Nicholas Giuricich, who'd read all my books, which is always that rare gift. We had a great time at a sports bar way down in the financial district, while the rain came down outside, and we shared a million stories. He's a sweet, sharp guy and he'll be coming to Mexico City when I'm there, so I look forward to more time hanging out and sharing our creative visions 

  I was here for way too short a time..I never visit New York for less than 10 days, and I was here only 3....tough to go...and it rained as I sad, and yet the bus driver, in true New York style, was all New York Brooklyn accent and talking a blue streak about everything....this town is full of great people....and, of course, at my age, to quote our New York disco anthem, you should know the score....I'm not some big famous writer, but I do what I love and I'm happy for that and maybe the score is not what it's about, or "the score" is something else entirely...who knows? I feel very lucky and very loved by a special handful of folks....gratefulness is the greatest answer to the world, just as art is the greatest question. I'll take Manhattan and I'll take Trebor....

I asked Nicholas before we left: "Will you end up going to LA?"
"No, New York is where I want to be."
I smiled. I wanted to say, "Me too". But I think that time has passed, though I always wanted to live a few years here. Well, I'm grateful for Buenos Aires, Mexico City and to visit NYC whenever I can. That's the score right now!

Should we have Frank take it away?.....

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