Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I'd Rather Be Road Tripping

Oh my god, as I started to write this, "Winter Kills" by Yaz came on my iTunes shuffle. Geesh. I promise not to go all 1982 pre-teen goth in this post, despite the soundtrack that's kicking it off. And warning: this could be a long one.

I haven't often considered this blog to be a diary, but the last several days have had my emotions all over the place that I kind of stopped working midday today and spent a good five minutes looking at my shoes, like someone reached into my spine and flipped on On/Off switch.

(Great. Now I'm even alluding to myself being like Vicky from "Small Wonder.")

I was originally supposed to have gone to San Francisco last weekend, but that vacation, as much as I wanted it, would have been turned into 4 days of me being totally stressed out due to all the work that I needed to get done by tomorrow and before I have to go to Boulder for work Thurs. AM. Essentially, there was just too much to be done, and good martyr than I can sometimes be, I decided to actually finish everything on time rather than be a basket case. Plus, a certain client right now is making me so angry that I've been on the verge of hanging the phone up on people, and I needed to see if there was some way to put an end to that. (Alas, no, but whatever...)

Luckily, what it did mean was a chance to go out with Marc on a bona fide date Friday night. Not that our previous night out and about wasn't kinda sorta a date, but this was, like, dinner and a movie--something I haven't done with a man in a long while, I have to say. After meeting me at my place we took my car (he apparently spilled DayQuil in his passenger seat, which brings up interesting images, but I didn't ask) and headed to (gulp) The Grave (aka The Grove). Upon trying to find any food and essentially having windows slammed in our faces as everything closed, we decamped to Whole Foods to listen to Doug E. Fresh play on the PA system as we had sandwiches made and then nibbled salt and vinegar potato chips before heading off to see "Reno 911: Miami," which is exactly what you'd expect--i.e., funny but not necessarily worth $13.

Not that I cared. I was thrilled to be out with a handsome, smart man who wears cute clothes. Short supply in these woods lately. The mystery of how one ever manages to meet people with whom they click is something I've thought about a lot since that night. It just amazes me how sometimes the pieces kind of fall into place--and someone with whom you've chatted online is actually equally engaging in person.

The rest of the weekend wasn't so exciting... basically a full day of work Saturday and watching... oh god, what was it? ... some stupid movie with Lesley.... Oh, wait! "Blood Moon." Good god what a dumb horrible AUSTRALIAN movie. I am still not clear if it was a horror movie or a 1990 episode of "Beverly Hills 90210." With bad accents. And permed hair. And a really slow middle section. Wait, that totally IS "Beverly Hills 90210."

And as much as I have to love the fact that a lesbian (really, a dyke!) was hosting the Oscars (something I never thought I'd see 10 years ago), god they were boring and almost no one looked good. I don't care what Tim says, Gwyneth Paltrow looked like something a scallop would throw up. And Naomi Watts looked like a cinched stick of butter. And then Nicole Kidman.... oh, Nicole, what did you do? You looked like you had an umbilical cord wrapped around your shoulder.

Thankfully, the fashion horrors were all nicely offset by Jeff and Co., who provided great commentary, good ravioli, and a tasty champagne cocktail.

Jumping backward in time, however, I forgot to actually mention last Thursday, which felt like the final meeting of the original incarnation of RAG, aka The Pink Ladies, aka A Bevy of Gay Media Boys. I don't know how many years it's been now since Jeremy, me, Rick, Matt, Darren, Chris and (originally) Dan first got together--our bond being that all of us in one way or another contributed to gay media/publications. Mike soon joined us too, and the merriment continued--monthly or bimonthy get-togethers that involved lots of bitching and alcohol. Kind of our own Dorothy Parker thing, it was always nice to recognize myself as a part of this group of men. I never had a large circle of male friends at any point in my life. Maybe college out of necessity, but this was really a group I knew and chose to be a part of--us homosocial homosexuals.

Darren and Matt leave this week for New York and who knows what will become of us. I am sure we all love an excuse to have a good cocktail, but it doesn't quite seem the same.

We shall see. We've already discussed opening a New York chapter.

Damn... that's a lot to cram into a few days... and I didn't even fit in a client telling me something I wrote looked like it was written by an 8th grader and that I "used to be a writer or something like that." Charming, non?

Oh, wait, I just did manage to fit it in, didn't I? The best part is that then I found an egregious spelling error on a printed piece of their collateral material.

And on that note...

A chapter definitely feels like it's closing as Matt and Darren leave. They have been part of my L.A. fabric for some time. I will miss having them nearby. But, to complete the cliche, a new chapter may have indeed opened. If being told I wrote something like an 8th grader spurs me onward to other things, if a cute young man with good taste can make me laugh, if I can continue to appreciate the people I have in my life...

No more Yaz on my iTunes.

Now it's "My Life in Art" by Mojave 3--a dusty tune made for late night road trips--the kind I wish I was taking right now across the desert of the same name.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Week in Music

It's amazing the soundtrack you can amass and encounter over a week:

Wake up from a dream involving Jennifer Hudson singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." Christ, is that gonna be the theme for the week?

Schizo music day:

1. It's OMD Appreciation Day: "Dazzle Ships," "Architecture and Morality," and especially "The Peel Sessions." Delicious '80s avant-garde synth pop.

2. It's Old-School Rap Appreciation Day: Drive back from business lunch with Jessica and listen to Salt 'N' Pepa's "Hot, Cool, and Vicious," telling her about how Susan and I bonded over "Tramp" in, oh, 1988...

Slightly morose and tired. It's Valentine's Day, after all. But that evening, at The Spotlight--a dive of a hustler bar in Hollywood--Jeremy and I grab Coronas and hear some delicious jukebox tunes. Why am I surprised to be hearing The Pixies in a divey gay bar in Hollywood? Oh, RIGHT, because it's a divey gay bar in Hollywood and the Pixies, of all things, are on the jukebox. What the...?

Jody Watley's "I'm Looking for a New Love" is on 92.3 FM. I totally think it's Whitney Houston for a minute and then change the station.
I keep listening to "Big Judy: How Far This Music Goes, 1962-2004" by Judy Henske, one of the most criminally underrated female singers ever. I am lucky to have met her, too, which makes listening all the better.

Morning: "Love Is a Battlefield" is on the radio. Turn it up.
Gym midday: "Divorce Songs" playlist. Split my eardrums listening to Sleater-Kinney's "The Fox" *and* "War" by Celebration (during which I make a total ass of myself by singing out loud my favorite line in it: "Got more guns than anybody!"). Oops.
Evening: Stop talking in the midst of the going-away party for Matt to listen to "Furious" by Throwing Muses on Tim's stereo. Upon leaving and driving home, the iPod shuffles: M. Ward: "Headed for a Fall"; Lavender Diamond: "You Broke My Heart"; "Dirtywhirl" by TV On the Radio; Belly: "Low Red Moon"; and (ahem) Expose's "Point of No Return."


Kristin Hersh live at Amoeba Saturday afternoon--get chills listening to "Winter."
Neko Case live at the Henry Fonda Saturday night--get chills during almost every song. The vocals make me melt.


Catch up on new purchases: Lucinda Williams' '"West"; Band of Horses' "Everything All the Time"; Beirut's "Lon Gisland" EP"; Nina Nastasia's "On Leaving"; Bows' "Cassidy." Make new playlists for iPod. Look at my CD collection and think, "Fuck. Maybe I should stop buying stuff."

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Cackle and Some Krispy Kreme

"People come, people go
Sometimes without goodbye, sometimes without hello
She's got one magic trick
Just one and that's it
She disappears..."

I don't want to write a downer post.

It's why I haven't written in a week. I've mostly felt like an exposed nerve, open to the air, a dull pain coursing through me: one minute I'm fine, the next stricken by an unexpected feeling of loss.

I was both close and not close to Aslan. In the years I worked with her, she taught me a truly immeasurable amount--about semicolons, about the blessings of good espresso, about what it means to be proud to be gay...and why it will *always* be political, god damn it. At her memorial service on Saturday, it at first felt like an awkward reunion of people with whom I used to work very closely and some I really had not wanted to work with closely. Wayne was there too, which was both a comfort and weird, as I wondered sometimes what year it was, and how his connection to these people was borne of my time at Frontiers, a time that feels like a former life.

But I thankfully found myself laughing almost immediately in remembering Aslan, who was truly hysterical in the best sense. And she knew it, as well as loved being the center of attention. I used to call her a troublemaker and she would let her smile fade for just a few seconds and nod her head solemnly: "I am. I'm terrible." A beat. And then a cackle would erupt from her mouth.

So many people had great stories to share that it truly felt like a celebration of a life: firery, funny, smart, frustrating, incorrigible, endearing, inspirational--all the things a person is and should be.

I even had to share one story with the crowd. I am not one for standing in front of people and talking, but when I first interviewed at Frontiers, I came in for my second interview and Aslan was there, grinning devilishly at me... asking good, thoughtful questions, and making me feel very much at home. And then she says to me: "How do you feel about working with crazy people?" I probably blinked. And then said: "As long as they don't try to share their medication with me, I'm fine." She laughed. I laughed. A bond was instantly formed.

Leaving the service and going home, I felt lighter... ready to actually enjoy my evening, which I did immensely--from a gin and tonic at the Good Luck Bar to a beer at the Eagle among other shenanigans... it was an evening made memorable perhaps even more so because of the nature of how it began. I was feeling like I had to enjoy the moment instead of worrying about it and thankfully was in very good company.

The flip side of a memorial service? A baby shower the next day. And yet, it's Nicole and Michael, and the tables at the shower were decorated with stacks of Krispy Kreme donuts. No games, no frilly bullshit. Just a buffet, donuts, conversation, and unwrapping presents.

I suppose I could wax poetic about life and death sharing my weekend. But anyone who's experienced either the birth of a baby (or a friend's, family member's, etc.) or mourned and celebrated a life knows the magic of those feelings both good and bad.

And Aslan would hardly want me to sit here typing about how maudlin I've been and what I'm learning. She'd tell me to get up and go do whatever it was I wanted to do... get out there and live your life, honey. Good for you.

And then she'd let loose another cackle.

Monday, February 05, 2007

I Hate Saying Goodbye

Within 20 minutes of each other today, I found out my friend Darren is moving to New York in 3 weeks and that Aslan, one of the co-workers I actually liked at Frontiers, passed away over the weekend.

I could go on at length about both, of course. Darren, at least, I know I will see again--and I could not be happier for the career move he is making. I know the guts--and the intelligence--it takes.

Aslan, I never saw enough after I quit the magazine in 2005. The last time we spoke, I was standing at a car wash on 3rd Street. It was a warm, overcast day, and Aslan was talking about how she was getting ready to go back to work after being ill and in a convalescent home. We didn't dwell much on work, though.

Instead, we laughed.

I want to remember that right now, juggling all of these competing memories: On the phone, listening to the traffic, my fingers reaching out to touch bougainvillea blossoms spilling over a fence, Aslan's voice telling me about her crazy roommate in the convalescent home, and the hearty, infectious laugh coming through loud and clear.