Woodstock Degeneration

Fifty-two years ago Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play – actually it was fifty-two years ago this past weekend that Woodstock became a cultural milestone – or was the milestone forged when the film was released? Whatever it did happen & now it serves as a landmark marketed as a product safe for everyone – it’s no long revolutionary or even cautionary. The music itself is mainstream nostalgia.

I have some of the cd releases that get progressively more encompassing to the point where they now include every announcement from the stage – I’m waiting for a cd set devoted to the helicopters landing. I have in my music collection the original lps release plus the full sets by Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix. I’ve even searched out cds by bands that played but that didn’t get recorded – Quill anyone? The live music overall suffers from uneven sound quality & at times bad miking – Hendrix’s set lacks the horn section which is clearly on stage playing with him. It has been mixed right out.

I’ve seen the film, the sequel, the collected bit that didn’t make it to the first two. Currently watching, for the 2nd time: ‘Woodstock: Three days that defined a generation’, an American Experience documentary (one of many) of people recollections about the festival: residents of Woodstock, the organizers, attendees, even some of the performers. 

I’ve read about it, heard about it from people who claim to have been there. One thing that is clear is that peace love was almost entirely a white heterosexual moment. The only openly queer person to appear on stage was the poet Alan Ginsberg. All the cuddling kissing couples in crowd shots are male/female pairs. I guess being hippies was bad enough they didn’t want the burden of real sexual openness. They might be counterculture but they weren’t degenerates.

I mention this because of the importance of representation. Were there lgbtq people at Woodstock? There must have been but they have mostly been erased. Free love was clearly not to be tainted by politically messy same-sex crap. There is one exception, that I know of – Taking Woodstock a 2009 film about the Woodstock Festival, directed by Ang Lee, based on the memoir Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life by Elliot Tiber and Tom Monte. 

Did Woodstock define a generation? If it did it’s a very narrow definition & an even narrower generation. I heard about it in Cape Breton, I read about it in Rolling Stone, Time magazine. I may have seen some TV new coverage but there was no real political groundswell that lead to social change. Now it’s pledge fodder for PBS.

I’ll Scratch Yours

<>

it’s hard to accept 

that enough is never enough

I can scratch an itch

then minutes later 

need to scratch again

to get what I want 

leads to wanting more

if one-on-one is great 

a threesome is impossible to resist

<>

I’m a guy who can say no

but when I deny myself

I long to be praised

for not over indulging

on my way to sainthood 

when I want to gorge myself

the smug satisfaction of drawing a line

and sticking to it isn’t as rewarding 

as giving in one more time

<>

could be it that scratch

is not the solution to itch

should I try that zen approach

when the itch is ready 

the finger will appear

if only all it took was a finger

can I learn to live with that itch

for another cd another man in the sack

better car bigger house

whiter teeth faster downloads

snappier sneakers flashier T-shirts 

all calling  scratch me now

or forever regret all the opportunities 

missed by resisting

<>

even when I look away

I sense those glittering beacons

just out of reach

straining teasing demeaning me

till I’m on my knees

too weak to do anything 

except beg for some relief

<>

to live with hunger

goes against our get-it-now culture

admitting that I don’t really want to scratch

is met with disbelief

what’s wrong with me

I gotta get with the program

whatever the fuck that is

but how do I get rid of the itch

<>

isn’t there a way to feel free

be comfortable in my own skin

without the need to satisfy some urge

is this need to be free

just another in the long list of itches

<>

scratch my back

I’ll scratch yours

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Indulgence

With the end of the world pending I’ve indulged in some frivolous diversions. Some to recapture moments of my past – such as watching episodes of I Dream of Jeannie & Bewitched. Clearly comedies made for toddlers 🙂 ‘Jokes’ one could see riding down the street on an elephant but both were more queer than I recognized at the time. Let’s face it Agnes Moorehead’s Endora is the template for every Drag Queen that exists. From the wigs, her gowns, eye makeup & remorseless bitch attitude she blazed a trail still followed.

Speaking of campy drag I also watched a few episodes of the first Star Treks. I loved these back in the day but man some of the acting is hilarious. But I love what I call ‘the attack of the set dressers’ with those alien plant-scapes. I now see the influence of the Toho studio on the set design. Star Trek did better aliens though – costumes that still inspire Drag Queens today.

I mention Drag Queen a few times because OUT TV was free for the month of April which gave me the opportunity to see some of RuPaul’s DragRace. I haven’t seen any since the first season. It was ‘fun’ to see but not enough shade to make me want to add the channel to my cable bill. 

Other indulgences – strawberry jam. I mean the jam like the sweet stuff I had a a child not this – all fruit, no sodium, no flavour stuff that is heart smart etc etc etc. It’s not going to kill me, fast. 

As well as indulging I have been purging thanks to my covid cleaning frenzy & making discoveries too. Rough drafts of stories I’d forgotten I’d written – dot matrix days & even a couple typewriter. Will input them eventually.

The best find was this vest. Jimi Hendrix outside, Electric Ladyland inside. At first I wasn’t even sure if it was mine! I have no memory of how I acquired it. Or when. Sometime way back in the 80’s I suspect. It tastes okay so I know I’m not coming down with covid19 🙂

 

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Star Trek Subtext

an all day Star Trek marathon

the original series on Blue Ray

weird space plants

funky 60’s retro-futurist sets

Kirk Spock Bones Sulu

(Sulu who knew you were

the real queen of outer space)

we had nachos   salsa

bags of sea salt-n-pepper chips

Hawaiian pizza   fried chicken

diet coke   real dr pepper

a 90 inch plasma TV

Trek in all its never to fade glory

as each episode started

we did a soprano unearthly dance

every time Scotty said

‘I’m giving it everything we got captain’

we’d eat chips as fast as we could

when Uhura said

‘we are experiencing interference’

we saw who could burp the loudest

every time Kirk took off or tore his shirt

we removed an article of clothing

(Strip Trek)

every time the fate of a culture

was decided by a kiss from Kirk

we made moony eyes at each other

until someone said ‘phasers on stun’

each time human emotions

were a puzzle

we asked deep personal questions like

‘who has the bigger dick

Chekov or that guy

with his face painted black and white?’

when any alien said

‘what is this thing you earth people call kissing’

we gave each other alien tongue baths

every time Spock said ‘illogical’

we did the Vulcan grind meld

by the time the marathon was over

it didn’t matter

that neither of us really liked Star Trek

we’ll never forget this Star Date One

Unmasked

For the summer I’m looking at my Brown Betty chapbook. All the pieces dealt with growing up in Cape Breton.

Unmasked

background:
Hendrix: burning the midnight lamp soon 

… I wish I was a merman 

 

foreground:
messy coffee table
open bottles wine beer Scotch
weed rolled in papers 

too thin to write on 

yet strong enough to hold 

a shared dream 

 

midground:
three of us
Del me Kathy
share this joint enterprise
laugh at a phrase 

I was going through 

hands touch to pass
the precious opener of minds  

or rather the opener of pants 

as Del loudly called it
his eyes on Kathy 

she gave him a look
that said ‘see you later’
then left 

with her cigarettes 

and the remains of the wine

 

‘uptight bitch’ Del laughed 

as the door shut
he stayed
the supply on hand
held more appeal than
the supply leaving the room 

that Jimi guitar
hooked its way around our brain
led our vision across patterns
my voodoo child eyes would wander
all along the corduroy
that hugged and held Del

he invitingly pushed 

the coffee table away 

to make room on the floor
we had become so smoke soft 

only the backless floor 

could hold our floating rolling bodies 

till we found ourselves
naked 

 

I could feel the crosstown traffic of my heart 

the sensation of his tongue on mine
the coarse grind of pubic hair on stomach
a move for a breath of air 

to refresh the disguise of liquor 

thighs hands lips
trimming a midnight lamp
that still burns today 

but no longer needs
a smoke-screen
the bottled mask of permission

A snap shot of an older me in my mid-20’s. I wasn’t ‘out’ but after a few drinks, in the right circumstances, I wasn’t as guarded. This piece revolves around Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland. The situation wasn’t unusual either though it was a pleasant surprise when ‘Del’ pushed that coffee table away.

There are lots of references to songs on the album of which my favorite is ‘all along the corduroy.’ A variation on ‘all along the watchtower.’ The line also refers to a famous photo of Henrix in form fitting, deep red, corduroy that seem to barely contained his cock. You’ll have to listen to the album to track down all the references.

Del & Kathy aren’t the actual names, the events come from a few occasions. Some of guys I drank with had rather cavalier attitudes towards their girlfriends of the moment & would often say things like ‘opener of pants.’ Often parties would end when people ran out of smokes.

I wasn’t really a fan of grass & rarely used it directly. Second hand smoke was close enough but when things went as they did here I did my best to get with it 🙂 I guess the pants Del was talking about were his.

I knew a couple of guys who were ‘explorative’ after several drinks. I would always know they were in the mood when they showed up at my little place on the East Coast with a forty-ouncer under their arm. One guy was a great kisser. But they needed that liquid permission. So did I then. I no longer do but I recently heard a gay podcast host confess that he’s never had sex sober – so I guess some still count on bottled permission even when they aren’t wearing a mask.

previous Brown Betty posts:

Man With A Past 1 https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3B3

When I Was A Young Boy  https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3By

Home (not of the brave) https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3Cg

Nailed https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3D9

Dad’s Pockets https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3E0

 


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Age in Play

One of the men I see frequently recently celebrated his birthday. He is much younger than me. As are most of the men I am intimate with – part of that is the aging process, part of that is that many men around my age won’t have sex with men around my age. I’m not that concerned with age, though I do find over-30 is a reasonable boundary – but younger is fine if they fit some of my preferences 🙂

I’m only thinking about the age gap because the hosts of Gayish podcast, on an earlier podcast, tangent-talked about what the youngest & oldest person they’ve been intimate with & another time talked about when was too old to go clubbing (apparently 30 is the cut off age for clubbing). Both of them concluded that more than 10 year older or younger, was the limit for  either of them. What they don’t realize is that the older you get the less restricted the age limit will become.

 

In North American culture ageism is unavoidable – often the notion of an older person with some clearly involved someone younger is seen as a joke, ‘no fool like an old fool,’ ‘I hope the money is good.’ Even I find it creepy in movies to see the older male star become the romantic object of a much younger female star. Is she looking for a daddy figure, a sugar daddy, or merely a more sexually experienced partner? Or is some writer indulging his own sex fantasy?

 

I’ve blogged about some of this before – the way sexually active seniors are viewed as perverts of some sort or denied any right to be sexual – at your age you should be over all that. Though I’m not sure what age is ‘your age.’ Not that I see myself as a senior either 🙂

This is a piece I’ve performed many times. The gap represents a pause I take when I do the piece & nearly every time there has been an audible gasp from someone in the audience.

Boyfriend

I’m so excited   

I have a new boy friend

he’s barely fifteen

 

 

 

 

years younger than me

 

did that pause catch you off guard 

were you sure I was going to say 

he was only fifteen years old

 

was it hard enough to think of a man

having a boyfriend at all

then add to it 

the shudder that it was

an innocent 

emotionally underdeveloped

fifteen year old child

 

though I can remember me at fifteen

jacking off to visions of rock star cock

Jimi Hendrix        Bruce Springsteen

that I wished there in my bed

telling you too much am I

get used to it

I’ve heard enough straight poets go on 

sparing no intimate details

about blissful raspberry nipples

moist peach fuzzed mounds 

 

so I’ll talk about man on man action

even if it makes some of you restless

a bit bored     a bit threatened

girl on girl would make you more comfortable

I usually try to make the nestling 

of men’s bodies into each other

sound sort of sweet and tender

pulling myself away 

from the gasp   grasp of sweat    pubic hair

 

so I’m excited 

about my new boyfriend

though I hate ‘boyfriend’

boy carries that too young taint

man friend isn’t close

lover is more complex 

than it is at this point

bed buddy     yeah I like that 

 

I have a new bed buddy

he’s nearly fifteen 

years younger than me

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every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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Jimi Hendrix

What can I say about Hendrix? Died too young period. I played the Are You Experienced? lp grey, replaced it twice. He was one of the first pop stars that I fantasized about when I was jacking off (the first was Jim Morrison). He was one of the few stars that all my friends liked. I once knew all the words to Purple Haze. All alone in my little basement room in Cape Breton I cried the day he died. 

In my collection I have as stand alone’s: Are You Experienced?, Axis: Bold as Love, Electric Lady Land, Ultimate Experience, BBC Sessions, Isle of Wight 1970, Feeling Good, Sunshine of Your Love. An mp3 collection that includes Axis Outtakes, Rainbow Bridge, Band of Gypsies & tucked away in another mp3 collection Cry of Love. Plus a ‘is it Hendrix or not’ set of jams with member of Traffic. 

Wait there’s more: Hendrix at Woodstock. A dvd of his Monterey Pop break though. Not to mention Gil Evans’ jazz take on Hendrix. Plus biographies by Curtis Knight and one by Charles R. Cross. In a pic file I have a photo of the cast of his cock made by the Plaster Casters. A bough in San Francisco teeshirt of the Axis cover art & a lunch pail of the same.

I’m not going to name check every track or every lp. The Experience studio albums are still state of the art engineering. They are also state of the art psychedelic. Feeling Good, Sunshine of Your Love are weird odds & ends of live stuff that slipped under the radar of his label. Messy at times but fun. One track has a very drunk Jim Morrison bellowing away. 

It’s his Experience studio work I enjoy the most. He seemed to lose direction without the band. The Woodstock release isn’t true to the event, though, as the percussionists & horns playing with him on stage, have been nearly erased from the mix that has been released. But it is still worth having. His sense of fashion still inspires my selection of shirts. 

Craving

‘You want it? Don’t you? You want it bad? I can tell. I can see it in your eyes, in your flesh. The way sweat beads along your upper lip. You want it? Don’t you? You want it bad? I can tell.’

‘Are you talking to me?’ 

‘Yes. Of course who else would I be talking to.’

I glanced around the mall. It was thick with people scouring the stores for that ultimate bargain. 

‘Anyone of them?’

‘Oh no. You heard. It had to be you. You want it? Don’t you? You want it bad. I can tell.’

‘Excuse me?’ Another woman stopped. ‘Are you talking to me?’

‘No. He’s talking to me.’

‘Perhaps I mean both of you.’

‘What’s he going on about?’ the second woman asked me.

‘I don’t know. I heard him babbling like this and stopped. I thought he was a pan handler.’

‘Ladies! I am not a pan handler.’ He stood an inch taller. ‘I am here as a warning, as an oracle to your future.’

‘Oh please. Give me a break.’ I started to leave.

‘No. Wait. You can’t go. You know you can’t go. You both know I’m right. You both want it? Don’t you? You want it bad. I can tell.’

Another shopper stopped. ‘What’s he selling.’

‘The future.’ I told her.

‘Been there, done that.’ She started to walk away.

‘You cannot have been there,’’ he railed at her. ‘No one has seen  the future. No has done it.’

‘Look. I know what I’m talking about. In a moment I will be gone.’ she left.

‘I guess she didn’t want it that bad.’ I wanted to laugh. ‘So get on with it. What’s the spiel. What do we want?’

‘Yeah. Come on,’ the other woman added. ‘I haven’t got all day.’

‘You have a life time ladies. A life time. But you want it? Don’t you? You want it bad I can tell.’

‘We’ve heard that bit. Get on with it or we’ll be gone, too.’

‘No. You can never escape once it had sunk its insidious claws into you. Never escape.’

‘Look,’ The other woman stepped away. ‘I’m escaping now.’ She disappeared into the crowd.

‘What’s with you people these days? No depth. No real sense of value.’

‘You have to give people something of value. I’m sure you mean well. What ever it is you may think. But words aren’t enough.’

‘But don’t you feel it? Deep. In your bones. Feel that something, that need.’

‘The only need I’m beginning to feel is the need to take a …’ I stopped. I couldn’t tell him that. What was coming over me? Telling a stranger I had to go to the bathroom.

‘Ah. So I was right. You want it? Don’t you? You want it bad, I can tell. The ladies room is through the food court.’

‘Thank you.’

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

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every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

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October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Kenny Burrell

I was introduced to Kenny Burrell by a jazz-head co-worker when I actually worked, on the east coast. He had a huge jazz lp collection that he selectively loaned to me & I recorded those lps onto cassettes. One of those lps was The Tender Gender. I loved it.

crystal01

Burrell’s sound is fluid & bouncy, similar to Wes Montgomery. Tender swings and I always enjoyed it but was more caught up by the jazz-rock fusion than this sort of retro smooth sound. I love the chattery guitar work on Girl Talk. I have that Tender dupe replaced on an mp3 collection that includes it along with Burrell’s Men At Work, Ode to 52nd Street & Blusin’ Around. All fine, tasteful & satisfying recordings. Some live, some with a quartet & some solo work. Tucked away in my Coltrane collection is their sweet collaboration.

crystal02

To round out the mp3 cd I added Gary McFarland & Gabor Szabo’s Simpatico: I love Szabo (more about him when I get to Sz). This is a fine set that includes the jazz classic Spring Song.  Both Szabo & Burrell enjoy latin rhythms so it seemed fitting to include Herbie Mann: Do The Bossa Nova – the bossa nova was a jazz trend at one time. Mann is a master flute player & on this he works with master musicians in Rio.crystal0

To mix things up I rounded this cd off with the legendary Gil Evans: The Music Of Jimi Hendrix – this is a crazed lp of jazzed up Hendrix. I’d heard about this recording for years but could never find it – but thanks to iTunes I was able to get it. Massed tubas on Crosstown Traffic. The somewhat cheesy electronica is annoying but plays such a minor role I stop hearing it. Hendrix’s songs stretch out in ways you wouldn’t expect.

browndishes

I also have, as a stand alone, Burrell’s Ballad Essentials. A Concord completion that spans his career with a great set of standards: Body & Soul, Blue in Green. His playing remains solid through out but if it weren’t for actually dates on the tracks this could have been recorded at any point in his life.

sample

Body Talk

Oprah:   Good afternoon. On today’s show we will be talking with Duncan’s brain.

Brain:  Excuse me, Oprah, but you are talking to a brain period. That I’m Duncan’s, or anyone else’s, is merely a coincidence.

Oprah:  But surely you don’t deny you hold the memory, the personality of Duncan.

Brain:  No more than a floppy disc holds an identity for a computer. All that info can disappear at any time, you know, but my essential function can go on.

Oprah:  Yes,  well I see, but without Duncan you wouldn’t have a sense of identity would you.

Brain:  Much of what I do is irrelevant to identity. It takes as much unconscious brain power to breath as it does to make me conscious of the identity Duncan. That cognition doesn’t affect my other functions.

Oprah:   So you are saying that without you there’s be no Duncan but without Duncan there would still be a you?

Brain:  Exactly.

Oprah:  All brains aren’t the same are they.

Brain:  Put it in a row of  twenty jars and could you tell one from the other?soon

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo
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16

January 20, Wednesday: judging at Hot Damn! it’s a Queer Slam – featuring  Dominic Berry Supermarket Restaurant and Bar 268 Augusta Ave., Toronto, Ontario M5T2L9

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September 1-5: attending FanExpo 2015expo16

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November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

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#Burdon’s Burden

brownlp

Next on the shelf are two massive mp3 collections grouped around Eric Burdon. This started when I blogged about the Animals last year. I discovered that Eric was still recording & had recently released a new lp ’Til Your River Runs Dry – he remains in fine vocal form & it’s worth checking out. It’s on the first cd along with his work with War and Soldedad Blues w Jimmy Witherspoon: post Animals & fun strong stuff. Eric was always eager to try new things & his work with War is solid if unexceptional.brown

On this one I threw in some Sister Rosetta Tharpe: great female r’n’b thumper. Ginger Baker: one his many post Cream Africa projects: clunky but fun. Osibisa, Mandrill: two Santana inspired bands with strong African roots – these are both later career recordings. Eek-a-mouse: Black Cowboy: every collection needs some obscure reggie  The Congas: more of those African rhythms.

greyice

The second collection has Love Is: Eric & the Animals do their double lp of indulgent yet endearing songs. I enjoy their take on Ring Of Fire. River Deep is hilarious though with the echoed Tina Tina at points – was he having it off with her? The Black-Man’s Burdon – how he got away with title is beyond me, more of his work with War. Plus their live tracks & other performers at Monterey Pop. Monterey was where he fell in love with Jimi Hendrix & that changed his musical direction for several years.blackcouch

I counted this off with a slew of Lonnie Donegan: Lonnie was one of those British hitmakers who never crossed the ocean – his influence on British pop is substantial though – his rockabilly recording of House of the Rising Sun, Mule Train & others clearly influenced the Animals, The Stones, the Beatles, The Yardbirds, Eric Clapton.

sample

Journey

When I was turning twenty-three life was a lost treasure that I no map for, futility seemed a nice, kind way of looking at it – why bother – but I was driven at the same time to bother. A Doors song was my theme ‘music is your only friend’ and I believed that – I was a little town queer who felt isolated and threatened.

Lucky I wrote a lot – driven to expresses something. though I never knew exactly what is was I wanted to say – I kept trying to say it. I had some booze buddies, musicians and poets. Smoked a few joints with them and hung out in my family’s basement. I had a room there decorated with Beatles posters, my paintings – more getting the inner out some how.

Drunken, near blackout fits of sex. Oops, what did we do last night sort of stuff. Seeking and just not connecting with anything other than the shame of being what I was with no one to share that with.

I became more eccentric as years went on but the patterns were really set then. The things that I held closest to me music, books, painting all around me. My writing and some friends who were more extensions of my fears & wants than companions.

Got a job at Famous Players thanks to the mother of my best friend Howard. Flo was box-office there & that was to be my position, I quickly became assistant manager & candy boy. Made lots of pop corn.

Gave me a steady income and some sense of being functional. Added at the same time to my sense of not fitting in. I think that was a big thing for me then. wanting to be like the others yet not wanting to be like the others. Wanting acceptance without wanting to conform to some pattern.

The past year hadn’t been that bad or good, aimless and pretending I was looking for some job to steady my Dad’s need to see me working and out of the house.

The folks were never that approving of my writing or painting – like many, they figured that stuff was only good if it made one lots and lots of money. Sex wasn’t discussed at all and I didn’t know how to go about telling them that anyway. It wasn’t till I was ready to leave the Cape many years later that I told them. Not that it was such a shock mind you.

Looking back I really didn’t know how to establish myself as a man, as an adult. Booze was one of those adult things but I felt I had to hide how much I drank & how often. Sad, but true. All those secret nooks and crannies.

Some of which had no real outlet then and there. Little was I to no what the journey of my future was to hold. But I survived wanting to wake up dead, wanting to end the confusion and pain and made it past 23 and even past 24 and finally here I am.

 

 

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo
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November 18, Wednesday: judging at Hot Damn! it’s a Queer Slam – The Supermarket., Toronto

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‘read the smoke’

kumari giles, in ‘things i cannot speak’,  with ‘young palms lined with old stories’ shared some stories as part of the Young Creators Unit at Buddies in Bad Times on the weekend. Memories of Sri Lanka, coming-out, the power of the haircut, of grandmothers, infused the piece.  Of war ‘you cannot erase a people without erasing yourself.’ kumari shifted from characters easily, perhaps too easily, as at times one wasn’t sure whose pov was being presented – which, in a way, underlines the difficulty of maintaining  any identity in our culture.

whiteshelf

a moment of shelflessness

Simply staged, with good use of red fabric – it was blood lines and restraints at times – sound effects and lighting. A simple, evocative performance in which I identified with the way we become ‘impressed’ with actions of the past – how we take on mannerism of parents without realizing it – I have my father’s aches.

drawers02

put your drawers down

Next up was Andre Prefontaine, in ‘(mE)dith Piaf’, ‘read the smoke’ of his past for us as he shared his recovery and his love of Piaf. Like kumari’s performance he shifted from character to character but his piece was about self-destruction and self-discovery. Funny, clever, emotionally vulnerable and satisfying. He touched on the recovery process without being industrial; queer life & the sex trade without being defensive or exploitive. An honest, direct & accomplished piece.

drawers

Ikea magic

The staging was as simple as the first piece but with a greater sense of theatricality – the evocation of Piaf via lighting was excellent. Sound effects propelled the story perfectly as Andre created characters with lighting, accents and appropriate finger-snaps. Looking back the piece also mirrored Cabaret: the musical about sex, drugs and self-discovery right down the Joel Grey like personification of cocaine. Je ne regrette pas le voir.

samples

a piece of mine about sex, drugs & rock’n’roll

Unmasked

background:

Hendrix: burning the midnight lamp

soon … I wish I was a merman

foreground:

messy coffee table

open bottles wine beer Scotch

weed rolled in papers too thin to write on

yet strong enough to hold a shared dream

midground:

three of us

Del me Kathy

share this joint enterprise

laugh at a phrase I was going through

hands touch to pass

the precious opener of minds

or rather the opener of pants

as Del loudly called it

his eyes on Kathy

she gave him a look

that said ‘see you later’

then left with her cigarettes

and the remains of the wine

‘uptight bitch’ Del laughed

as the door shut

he stayed

the supply on hand

held more appeal than

the supply leaving the room

that Jimi guitar

hooked its way around our brain

led our vision across patterns

my voodoo child eyes would wander

all along the corduroy

that hugged and held Del

he invitingly pushed the coffee table away

to make room on the floor

we had become so smoke soft

only the backless floor could

hold our floating

rolling

bodies

till we found ourselves

naked

I could feel the crosstown traffic of my heart

the sensation of his tongue on mine

the coarse grind of pubic hair on stomach

a move for a breath of air

to refresh the disguise of liquor

thighs hands lips

trimming a midnight lamp

that still burns today

but no longer needs

a smoke-screen

the bottled mask of permission

shelf02

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Infernal Violins

Angele Dubeau & La Pieta: Infernal Violins (Jan04) – I heard Danse Macabre from this cd on the car radio summer of 2003 & had to have more by Angele. I found the cd on sale at HMV after Xmas that year. A double set – one of the music, the other is videos & concert clips (that I may never have watched.)boots

 bevy of boots

The selection lives up to the title – infernal. The sound quality is pristine – almost as if the microphone is in the bow of the violin at time. Her playing is emotional, energetic (when called for) and at times transporting. The material runs from Offenbach to Jagger. That’s right, like many classical players she can’t resist tackling pop music. Here it a combo of Paint It Black/Sympathy For The Devil & it is great fun. (Not as much fun as Nigel Kennedy tackling Jimi Hendrix though.) kidshoes

shoes on ice

On the shelf this is followed by Weekend Classics: Famous Operatic Duets (Aug95). I wasn’t much of an opera fan back in the 90’s – but in ‘95 I had recently heard the duet from the Pearl Fishers on the car radio, then spotted this on sale .99 ! at Sam’s. I saw this duet on it & bought it. blackshoes

shoes in the shadow

Weekend Classics was a cheapie series of compilations from London. Cuts were from the 50’s & 60’s & repackaged for quick sale. Here there are duets from La Boheme & others. It makes a nice introduction to opera. Though I probably couldn’t tell an aria from Tosca from one from La traviata; or discern between Joan Sutherland and Renata Tebaldi (nor care to learn how to).

sample

Trinket

Bev patted the soil on the last of the seeds. Oriaha had found the seeds under the floor boards of the ruined barn. They might not have even know that ruin was there if the pond hadn’t suddenly dried up. “Time for a new well, I spose.” Oriaha had said after he saw the mucky ground turn to hard dry clay over the summer. “Could be,” Bev had replied secretly glad the the evil smelling pond was  gone. They had ignored the pond bed over the winter but once spring had come and no new water flowed in to fill it Oriaha called on Trinket Annie, the dowser, who found them a good clean spring not too far from the house. This one was to the east. Bev knew the east brought good new energy. The old pond at the north end of the land was in the place of endings. It was one day in late April when she first saw the outlines of something in the dried muck. She got out her trusty broom and began sweeping away till she struck the floorboards. “Sure’nf musta been Old Rev Geddis barn. Knew it wh’round here somewhere.” “Boards could be good for sum’thing, don’t you think?” “Well, Bev they’ve bin un’erwater too long so’s they’d be rottened clear through I spect.” “Can’t hurt to give a look.” She stooped down and began to pull gently at one of the boards. It gave way and sent her with a loud thump to her butt. “Guess they’s settled in there.” “Oh, don”t you laugh at me, Oriaha Dankiels. Give me a hand.” That’s when they found the old chest. Sealed as tight as a drum with wax. Held down by the weigh of the lock. The lock gave way with one good blow of the hoe. It was filled with glorious golden seeds. “Looks like hay of some sort.” “I spose,” Oriaha ran his fingers through the hulls. “Let’s try’em over in the south pasture.’ “Good idea.” The seeds seemed happy to be in the light, to be out from under the water and the muck of so many years. “Musta a been down there over 100 years.” “Think they’ll still gown?” “Caint hurt to try.” Bev stepped back to survey the first neat row. They were only going to try one row so see what they seeds might be. Not even Trinket Annie recognized what they were. boot03

buckled buckle boots

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Unmasked

In Canada Thanksgiving falls in October. So the Toronto GLT (et al) recovery AA/AlAnon community holds an annual roundup on Thanksgiving weekend. This year was the 36th such roundup. I haven’t missed one, yet. It draws up to 400 members from around the world but mostly from Ontario & Michigan. It’s always a good opportunity to reconnect with people I see once or twice a year, even locals, and share our progress & dedication to spiritual recovery.

drawersI see a Ikea nightmare

Towards the end of my drunk life I was published, exhibited & performing – on my way somewhere but had become increasingly suicidal. I had the things that we’re supposed to make me feel fulfilled & satisfied & yet they left me lost and looking for a way out.

polerider I see a pole rider

Looking back I realize I was attempting to fill a spiritual need with physical objects & accomplishment – an attempt that only made the need bigger not small. There was no such thing as enough. Booze was a mask to hide behind and when I was drunk enough to reveal something of myself.

shade I see a party hat

I was transferred to Toronto & here I was set, almost by accident, on the road to sobriety. First hurdle, as it is for many, to real commitment to recovery was to deal with the difference between religious and spiritual – some people still cannot grasp that difference – such is life. But for me there is a difference. It’s like the difference between life and death.

samples

Unmasked

background:

Hendrix: burning the midnight lamp

soon … I wish I was a merman

<>

foreground:

messy coffee table

open bottles wine beer Scotch

weed rolled in papers too thin to write on

yet strong enough to hold a shared dream

<>

mid-ground:

three of us

Carl me Kathy

share this joint enterprise

laugh at a phrase I was going through

hands touch to pass

the precious opener of minds

or rather the opener of pants

as Carl loudly called it

his eyes on Kathy

she gave him a look

that said ‘see you later’

then left with her cigarettes

and the remains of the wine

<>

‘uptight bitch’ Carl laughed

as the door shut

he stayed

the supply on hand

held more appeal than

the supply leaving the room

that Jimi guitar

hooked its way around our brain

lead our eyes across patterns

the voodoo child

my eyes would wander

all along the corduroy

that hugged and held

Carl as he invitingly

pushed the coffee table away

to make room on the floor

we had become so smoke soft

only the backless floor could

hold our floating rolling bodies

till we found ourselves

naked

<>

I could feel the crosstown traffic of my heart

the sensation of his tongue on mine

the coarse grind of pubic hair on stomach

a move for a breath of air

to refresh the disguise of liquor

thighs hands lips

trimming a midnight lamp

that still burns today

but no longer needs

the bottled mask of permission

glass too much stem not enough where