Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Graffiti Poetry

The sun
Uses the moon
As a periscope
to look out for me at night.


(Graffiti found in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, June 2009)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pride Parade

I've had a great weekend! Yesterday, of course, was the Pride Parade, and we had spectacular weather for it -- a huge improvement over last year, when it poured rain. Dave and I stationed ourselves on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, where all the action is, and had a great time jostling the crowds and watching the fun.

There were all the usual participants: The Dykes on Bikes, the drag queens, the muscle boys in little speedos, the bands and flag-twirlers and glamazons in huge feathery headdresses.

We didn't stay for the whole parade, which went on and on. We stayed about three hours and it looked like there was still plenty more to come.

On Saturday I went walking in Brooklyn with my friend Kate and we found lots of awesome street art. Then I went to Dave's in New Jersey in the evening, and because he hasn't really moved in yet, I had to bring some bedding. This led to the ludicrous situation I found myself in on Sunday, taking my pillow to the Pride Parade. Fortunately I was able to stuff it into my backpack so it was pretty unobtrusive!

More Pride Parade photos on Flickr here.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Happy Pride!

This is GLBT Pride Weekend in New York, with the parade on Sunday and various other events here and there. Last night was my company’s annual Pride Party. We began in the party room of a swanky apartment tower right next to the Flatiron Building, and wound up later that night at Stonewall, the location of the fabled Stonewall riots in 1969.

This is the 40th anniversary of the riots, which are often held to be the single most significant event launching the modern gay rights movement. There were gay organizations and actions before Stonewall, but the riots were certainly the moment the gays changed their strategy to fighting back rather than working from within.

The physical building hasn’t been a bar continuously since 1969. It apparently went through a period when it was a Chinese restaurant, and maybe a bagel place, according to my coworkers. I know it was a bar again by the time I visited New York in 1997, because I went there with a friend -- and I think that was the last time I was there, before last night!

Anyway, the party was fun, and I do plan to go see the parade on Sunday, if the weather cooperates. Happy Pride, everybody!

(Photo: Sticker, Chelsea, June 2009)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Farrah and Michael

Well, yesterday certainly took some bizarre and unexpected turns!

The death of Farrah Fawcett was unfortunate enough. I was a fan of “Charlie’s Angels” in the ‘70s and used to beg to stay up and watch it; I was surprised to learn that Farrah had only been on the show for one season, because her presence seemed so integral to its success. She was a huge force in the life of any adolescent male at that time -- even a gay one whose responses were based more on affinity than objectification.

I just rented “The Burning Bed” about a month ago -- Farrah did indeed turn in a respectable performance in that movie. And yesterday I posted her death on my Facebook page, feeling the natural need to participate in spreading the news and mourning.

But then came the wholly unexpected news of the death of Michael Jackson, about whom I feel much more ambivalent. Even at the height of his fame, I was never much of a fan. I never owned “Thriller.” I never felt much connection to him, certainly not in his later years when his life became more and more bizarre. I don’t have a single Michael Jackson song on my iPod.

He's long seemed more pathetic than anything -- lonely, disfigured, perhaps mentally ill. His death spares him, and us, the spectacle of a career spiraling ever-downward. I don’t want to say it came at a good time, but sometimes it’s best to just stop. I think Michael Jackson was at that point, if not beyond it.

I went with Dave last night to hear the New York Philharmonic perform Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand” at Avery Fisher Hall. It was a beautiful, resonant performance. Dave, who is generally not a pop music fan, pointed out the disconnect in hearing Mahler on the same night the rest of the world’s ears were tuned to Michael Jackson.

(Photo: Chelsea, June 2009)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

KFC on the Floor

Dave got back from Michigan last night. The poor guy had quite a day -- driving across the northeast, getting the key to his new apartment and moving in some stuff, then driving into the city to retrieve his dogs and his troublesome boyfriend.

Since his furniture hasn't arrived yet, we had dinner last night on the beige-carpeted floor of his very beige new place. We got Kentucky Fried Chicken (though we both got the grilled version) -- a very beige meal, come to think of it. I tried to liven things up with some wine and a candle, and his mom had given him a homemade apple pie, so we had a tasty dessert. We ate it straight from the pan with our sporks.

I caught the 11:30 train back into the city last night. It actually took about an hour -- more time than I expected, but as some of my commenters have pointed out, still not a bad commute.

I'm trying to be cheerful about his move, but honestly, I'm kind of depressed about it. I know it's not that far away, but the area where he's living is such a different world. It seems very far.

Oh well. One way or another, we'll adjust, right?

(Photo: Chairs in an outdoor plaza seen from above, Meatpacking District, June 2009)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


The other day, as Dave and I were cooking, we needed some garlic. I rooted around in the refrigerator and found a head that seemed OK to me -- a bit shrunken, perhaps, with a pale green shoot coming out the top. Dave, however, took one look at it with his chef's eye and pronounced it “done.” I hate to throw anything away, so Dave suggested I plant it.

I’ve never planted old garlic before. I took the first step by setting the bulb outside on my windowsill. The weather has been so damp that the garlic wasn’t in any danger of drying out. In fact, if anything, it started growing more vigorously. The pale green shoot became dark green.

I meant to buy a flowerpot, but everyday distractions kept me from going to the hardware store. I didn’t even have a stray tin can. So finally, yesterday morning, I took it downstairs and planted it in the backyard, in a partly sunny spot. I’m curious to see what a garlic plant looks like. Will it bloom purple, I wonder, the way ornamental garlic blooms?

I also wonder how our urban wildlife will react. (Do rats and possums eat garlic?)

(Photo: Garlic street art, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Feb. 2008)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Garden State

Dave is in Michigan for a few days, picking up his car and packing his furniture, which is in storage at his parents’ house, in preparation for his move to New Jersey. So things are going to be a bit quiet around here until Wednesday night, when he’s due to come back into the city.

Things are going so well with him! We communicate well and I really enjoy his low-key personality and (occasionally juvenile, he admits) sense of humor. We spend lots of time together, learn from each other and it all seems very natural. “Where have you been all my life?!”

The fact that he’s moving is a drag, but I don’t expect it to be a huge hurdle. He’ll be in East Brunswick, which isn’t that far from the city -- about a 40-minute train ride. There’s really no question that he needs to live where he’s working, so we just have to make the best of it. Then there’s the added (but adorable) complication of his dogs, which will make it hard for him to be away from home for too long.

Bottom line: New Jersey, here I come! (Well, on weekends, anyway!)

The things we do for love. Sheesh.

(Photo: SoHo, June 2009)

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Whew! What a weekend! Dave has a friend in town from Michigan, so we've been out on the town a bit.

We met up Friday at a bar in SoHo (I got out of work early, yay!) and had a few drinks. Apparently this bar, Onieals, is on the "Sex and the City" tour circuit, because a busload of women in little flowered summery dresses and sandals descended on the place while we were there and slurped up a raft of cosmopolitans. Kind of amusing to watch. (I don't know my "Sex and the City" lore, but the Onieals website explains the connection.)

We then resolved to have "cheap American food" for dinner, so what did we do? We went to Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurant in the Meatpacking District, Spice Market. Not particularly cheap, not American. What can I say -- we were being spontaneous! I had char-grilled chicken with kumquat lemongrass dressing -- you know how I feel about kumquats.

Yesterday we compensated for our extravagance by cooking at Dave's friend Stephanie's apartment. This was after Stephanie and the visiting friend, Kellee, spent FOUR HOURS and about $275 apiece getting their hair done at a salon. (I am SO GLAD I don't have hair! Gotta say, though, it looked great by the time they were through.)

I did get some quiet time yesterday -- I took a nap in the afternoon and went to the gym. This morning I may or may not do the Zendo. I need to clean the apartment, and this gray rainy weather doesn't make me want to go outside at all.

(Photo: A stray drink in a doorway on Thompson Street, SoHo.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Crazy Eyes

It's gray and rainy here, and promises to be all weekend. I don't mind a bit of rainy weather, but this is getting excessive. Just sayin'.

Not much to report today, so I'll give you this photo of a fun little creature I found in SoHo. He sees all!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Moon, 1969

What’s the first news event you can remember?

In my case, I long believed it to be the first moon landing, in July 1969. I have a vague memory of my father sitting me down and telling me to watch something on TV about the space program, saying it was important.

But in recent years, and especially as I’ve been reading about the upcoming 40th anniversary of that event, I’ve come to doubt my memory. I was 2 ½ at the time, and the moon landing occurred late at night in my time zone. I would have been asleep. Neither of my parents recall making me watch it.

What’s more, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon among people my age. Many of us seem to believe we remember the moon landing. Several of my coworkers who are my contemporaries called it the first news event they remember too – and it’s just as unlikely in their case as it is in mine.

Are we all imagining things?

I don’t think so. Instead, I think we’re simply conflating our many separate memories about space flights that were made in the early 1970s. Maybe we remember any of the five subsequent moon landings that occurred during Apollo space missions in the early 1970s. The final moon landing, part of the Apollo 17 mission, occurred in December 1972 – it’s entirely plausible that I would remember that.

I definitely remember splash-downs from the Apollo missions – those tiny capsules crashing into the sea, trailing their colorful parachutes, and the clambering Navy frogmen.

I think it’s interesting that people my age believe we remember something we probably don’t. It just goes to show how deceptive memories can be, especially very early ones, and how we can “create” them out of subsequent events or information we learn later.

For the record, I do remember U.S. soldiers coming home from Vietnam after our part in the war ended in 1973. And I remember Richard Nixon’s resignation, but that’s no surprise – by then, I would have been nearly eight. (Like many kids, I thought Watergate had something to do with a dam!)

(Photo: Psychedelic pig or hippo street art, SoHo, June 2009)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tom Cruise and Mangroves

Others have said it, and I agree: Tom Cruise is a little strange.

I’m not basing that on the Oprah couch-jumping episode, which seemed pretty harmless. I’m basing it on an overall eccentricity he seems to project these days, a defensive sort of anger. Plus, while I hate to knock anyone’s religion, I just don’t see how one could so fervently support a church founded in the 1950s by a science fiction writer.

I’m thinking about Tom because I watched “Cocktail” last night, one of his lesser movies from the ‘80s. I’d never seen it, and though it’s often slammed for being bad, I thought it was actually pretty entertaining. Tom was the “it” boy for my generation, or at least one of them, and there was a time during his “Top Gun” period when I thought he was just about the hottest thing on two legs.

He’s proven himself a capable actor, in movies like “Magnolia,” and he’s also committed some egregious career missteps. Hollywood has never quite respected him. As for his eccentricity, I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in such an intense, prolonged glare of publicity -- particularly in this age of ethically questionable celebrity “journalism” and creepy photographers lurking in the shrubbery.

So, yeah, he’s a little strange. But I still kind of like him!

(Photo: Urban mangroves in downtown Tampa, Fla., June 2009)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Did you ever see a movie where a character was compelled by an outside force to do something catastrophic? The example that comes to mind is the famous scene at the beginning of “The Omen,” where Damien’s nanny hangs herself under his Satanic spell.

Well, I just had a somewhat similar dream. I was doing photography at night, and walking near a prison, or some other highly secure facility surrounded by razor wire. I saw a pattern of clouds over the roof that I wanted to photograph, and I ran toward the fence and began climbing it, in order to leap over and get a better picture from the prison yard. Even as I was doing it I realized it was crazy, but I felt powerless -- I was being compelled to jump that fence. I went over the top and snagged my clothing on the razor wire, which meant I couldn’t quite jump free. I woke up just before I got sliced to ribbons.

Control issues, anyone? I mean, sheesh!

It’s true that there have been a lot of forces working against my routines lately, some of them good and some of them not. (The negatives are largely related to work.) This dream tells me I’m still a bit conflicted about moving away from my orderly, self-determined existence to one where I’m doing lots of new things and, well, growing. I’m also conflicted about my own distracting compulsions and resistances (to practice and sitting, for example).

Dreams are so funny!

(Photo: Street art in SoHo, June 2009)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Too Much Food!

Whew! A busy weekend, consisting mainly of cooking with Dave. He made mussels, seared fish and vegetables on Saturday, and seared scallops over an arugula/blueberry/lychee salad last night, as well as poached eggs over toasted slabs of good bread with a tomato and vegetable sauce. (Dave would probably shudder at how I’m describing these meals, since I’m sure those are not the appropriate gourmet terms for what we ate!)

At any rate, I now have a refrigerator full of leftovers and spare ingredients, and I feel like I weigh about ten pounds more. I think I need to eat peanut butter toast for one or two nights! But I can take my lunch to work, at least.

I’m lucky to have a talented boyfriend.

I went to the Zendo yesterday morning and then went walking in SoHo, which has always been a real hotbed of street art. I was surprised to find that a lot of the most popular spots, however, have been painted over or cleaned. It looks like SoHo is doing some sprucing up and the artists have fewer places to go, which is a shame. Now the neighborhood runs the risk of becoming, even more, a big mall.

This morning is gray and rainy. It’s wonderful to lie in bed and listen to the whisper on the leaves outside.

(Photo: Pines at sunset, Land O' Lakes, Fla.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dade Battlefield

When I was in Florida, my mom and I went to the new Tampa Bay History Center, which covers the history of Tampa back to the period before white explorers arrived and began clashing with the native Indians. The modern city got its start in the Seminole Indian wars, when Fort Brooke -- which later became Tampa -- was part of the supply line for troops throughout the state.

I know very little about the Seminole conflicts, except that they were essentially genocide on the federal government's part. The streets in downtown Tampa are named for Indian fighters and political leaders of that time, providing lingering reminders -- and probably bad karma -- from those conflicts. At the museum, mention was made of the Dade Massacre, which resulted in the death of nearly 110 soldiers under Major Francis L. Dade at the hands of the Indians in what is now Sumter County. (Near subsequently-named Dade City, but nowhere near more populous Dade County.)

Coincidentally, the Dade Battlefield -- now a state historic site -- is just off the highway we planned to take a few days later to visit my brother in Jacksonville. So Mom and I decided to stop by the battlefield and check it out. I grew up very close to there, but had never visited.

Unfortunately, as we approached the area, it was POURING rain. Sheets of water were falling on the windshield and I could barely see to drive. We thought we’d have to cancel our plans. But then the rain suddenly stopped -- as summer rainstorms do in Florida -- and we emerged from the car at the battlefield and walked around a bit.

The rain gave everything a silvery sheen. The woods were humming with bird-sized mosquitoes. It was fascinating, though kind of dark and eerie, too. We were the only people there.

This column allegedly marks the spot where Dade himself fell and died. (I wonder how they know that?)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Exit the King

Last night I finally got a chance to see "Exit the King," a new adaptation of Eugene Ionesco's play starring Geoffrey Rush and Susan Sarandon. It was terrific! An examination of life and the process of dying, it started out quite funny and lively and eventually came to a sort of quiet, dark, boundless place. Both of the stars were wonderful -- I've been a fan of Susan Sarandon for years, and she hasn't been on Broadway since 1972, so it was great to see her live. Rush, a brilliant actor, had a physically demanding part.

Ironically, given the play's subject matter, someone in the audience had a medical emergency during the show. I wasn't seated near them but I heard gasping and they were removed from the theater. An ambulance later showed up. I hope they're OK.

(Photo: Bushwick, Brooklyn, May 2009)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Feng Shui

I went to a presentation during lunch yesterday about Feng Shui, the Chinese principles of design that are supposed to provide a happier, healthier environment. (We don’t have these sorts of lunchtime discussions every day, by the way -- this was a special event by a woman who used to work at my office and now makes Feng Shui her career.)

I don’t know much about Feng Shui, but I learned some interesting things. The idea is to maintain a balance between five essential elements -- wood, fire, water, metal and earth. Different colors and shapes belong to each element, and there are also basic principles about orienting furniture in a room and the ways that furniture should be designed for optimum comfort. If done correctly, Feng Shui (which means “wind and water”) prevents blockages to the flow of Qi, or energy, that must be able to take a slow, meandering path through your home.

I think there’s some truth to Feng Shui, based on what little I now know. It makes sense that certain furniture designs would make us feel more secure and therefore happier and more prosperous. I’m not sure I buy all the specifics, but I do believe in energy flow, so I can see how it could work.

Fortunately, my apartment seems pretty good by Feng Shui standards. I might need a bit more fire in the room. Maybe I should go buy a couple of red pillows or something?

(Photo: At the supermarket, Jacksonville, Fla., June 2009)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cat Drama

My homecoming yesterday wound up being a bit more complicated than I’d planned. Dave watched my cat, Armenia, while I was gone, and he did a good job feeding her and trying to keep her amused, considering how cantankerous she can be. But when I got home I realized she was even more cantankerous than usual. She complained loudly as she walked around the apartment, and during the short time I spent unpacking my bag she visited the litter box several times.

Uh-oh. The dreaded Urinary Tract Infection.

Indeed, once she skipped the litter box entirely and went on the floor nearby, which is a sure sign that she’s in pain. I also detected small spots of blood in a few places on my floor, which Dave wouldn’t have noticed but I could see because I know the grain of the wood so well.

So, despite the fact that I had to get to work, I called my boss and begged off, packaged up the cat and went to the vet. (I’m sure she was thinking, “Why did you bother to come home if you’re going to treat me this way?”) Armenia is renowned at the vet for being a fighter, and she did not disappoint, screaming like a banshee as the vet took her temperature and collected samples. He gave her an antibiotic, Clavamox, which I fold into her Fancy Feast every morning and evening.

To top it all off, we had a huge thunderstorm last night, which freaked her out completely. She’d run across the apartment when the lightning flashed, then run back to me at the sound of the thunder. The poor thing was running relays for about an hour.

This morning she seems fine, though, lying next to me and giving herself a bath. I think she’s glad I’m home, but you can never really tell.

(Photo: Sea grapes in Anna Maria, Florida, May 2009)

Monday, June 8, 2009


I'm back from Florida, where I spent a weekend on Anna Maria Island with some friends and visited my family near Tampa and in Jacksonville. I ate Cuban food, went to the new Tampa history museum, walked the new Riverwalk along the Hillsborough River, and spent quality time with my 2 1/2-year-old niece, who talks nonstop! I had a great time and it was good to see not only my niece but also my mom, dad, brother and other family, and numerous old friends.

In Anna Maria, which is near Bradenton south of Tampa, the poinciana trees were blooming beautifully. I took these shots while roaming around the island, a very low-key place for an escape to the beach. No high-rise condos, no malls, very few crowds. I've been visiting there for years, and I always go home happy and rested.