Do You Know You Are My Sunshine

Monday morning, and the first full work week of the new year, and the first in over two weeks. It looms large, doesn’t it? Particularly in the enormous disappointment the Saints served up yesterday–outside of sexy Taysom Hill, who looks amazing in those all-white color block uniforms. This was probably the most ambivalent I’ve been about the Saints since before we moved here and become full time Who Dats; I’m not going to rehash any of the preseason stuff about Drew Brees, but yeah–it just never felt the same this year. Hopefully next year I’ll move past it.

At least I have my Sundays back from now on.

Plus, it’s Twelfth Night and the official opening of Carnival. I get to eat king cake now; I bought one on Friday so I could have it with my coffee this morning. Huzzah for king cake!

Overall, I had a very productive weekend, and this is pleasing to mine eyes. I didn’t read much on the Reread Project–although technically reading these Holmes stories is a part of it, I suppose; but I don’t remember much of them from my junior high school days so it’s kind of like reading something new, so I am not counting them as part of the Reread Project.

I read another Sherlock Holmes story yesterday; “The Gloria Scott,” in Baring-Gould’s Annotated Sherlock Holmes. Like the Lyndsay Faye pastiche I read on Saturday, this story is almost entirely told in dialogue; only this time, it is Holmes recounting the story to Watson; which is interesting; odd that two stories I’ve read back to back are told in similar fashion. I doubt very seriously that my Holmes story will be told that way; but I also haven’t written it yet so who knows? I did start writing it yesterday, however; which is a lovely start. I also revised two more chapters of Bury Me in Shadows, and I also got vaguely started on my website writing. I came up with another story idea, “Just Another Night on Bourbon Street,” which was inspired by my reading further in Bourbon Street by Richard Campanella; we’re now up to the arrival of the Mafia in New Orleans. I don’t know much about the Mafia in New Orleans or organized crime; I do know the mob used to own the gay bars in the Quarter, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of then are still used to launder money.

I don’t know that, I just said it wouldn’t surprise me. Particularly when you see how empty most of them are most of the week,

The sun is rising through the trees–I love how it seems like the sun rises over the West Bank, which is actually due south from the Lost Apartment–another one of the geographic nonsensities created here by the twists and turns of the river.

We watched the Golden Globes last night, which was really kind of a waste of time. Paul and I have gradually grown tired of, and bored by, awards shows. We haven’t really stopped watching many of them, we just don’t really get excited about them anymore. The Globes are more fun than the Oscars, because anything can happen there and there’s no real way of predicting who’s going to win–I would have thought, for example, Eddie Murphy was a long-overdue lock, yet the winner was Taron Edgerton for playing Elton John in Rocketman; I don’t think it means he’ll win an Oscar or even be nominated–but after Joaquin Phoenix’ bizarre acceptance speech, I’m not so sure he’s such a lock on the Oscar either. But that’s really about it; that and Renee Zellweger’s also weirdly awkward and slightly embarrassing acceptance speech were the uncomfortable moments of the evening. But it was nice to see 1917 get some attention; I love that one of the main characters is played by the kid who played Tommen on Game of Thrones, and that’s a film Paul and I actually want to see.

And now, back to the spice mines. Have a lovely post-holiday Monday, everyone.

a4d5ffbb129f115e816432aa645573e7.jpg

Walk of Life

Thursday, and a bit reflective this morning. I’m not as well-rested as I was yesterday, but still feel pretty good this morning. I’m also only on my second cup of coffee, so there’s also that.

June continues to slip through my fingers; only nine days left for me to finish the first draft of the Scotty book and finish writing two short stories. This weekend I also have to put together the copy edits for Florida Happens, and I have to do a final pass on another short story. But…the more I have to do, the busier I am, the more I seem to get done. (Which is sort of obvious; if you have less to do, you are obviously not going to do as much as you will when you have more to do. But what I mean is the more I have to do, the less likely I am to procrastinate or put something off because I have plenty of time.) I also want to read aloud the first four chapters of the WIP, and I also need to start copy-editing Jackson Square Jazz.

I have, however, requested off a very long weekend around July 4th; I will be off from the 4th thru the 10th, and that should help immeasurably with everything–especially cleaning the house. In other exciting news, today I found the image I want to use for the cover of “Never Kiss a Stranger,” once it’s finished, edited and ready to be a Kindle single. That’s one of the lovely things about living in New Orleans–it’s very easy  to take a gorgeous photo here.

I did go ahead and reread “Tell Me a Lie” last night.

The music is loud, almost at eardrum-bleeding levels. A thin veil of smoke hovers just above the heads of the people in the bar. A muscle man in a red bikini shakes his ass on the other side of the bar, coaxing dollar bills from the gaggle of older men gathered at his feet. I watch him for a moment. It is truly a wondrous ass, hard and round and perched atop two well defined thick legs. There is a tattoo on his lower back just above the red stretch fabric but in the glow of the black lights I can’t make out what it is. It doesn’t matter. He’s a terrible dancer, probably gay for pay like so many of them are, and who has time for that kind of nonsense? The body is remarkable, but there are a lot of guys in the place just as hot as he is, who won’t require cash up front for a fuck. Maybe I should have just stayed home and gone on-line, I think to myself. I’ve been here for almost an hour and no one’s even looked at me twice.  I look at my watch. Another half hour and I’m out of here. Home to my empty apartment and the glow of the computer screen as I cruise manhunt.com and hope someone even half-way decent messages me. But I don’t want that again, the wait for them to knock on my door and the enormous disappointment when I see that their picture was at least ten years out of date, or they haven’t been to the gym in a couple of years, or any number of things…that’s why I prefer going to bars to find someone. At least in a bar you can see what you’re getting and you don’t have to experience that awkward moment when they are standing on your doorstep and you have to resist the urge to slam the door in their face, that horrible split second of resignation of a live body’s better than jacking off to porn again.

I sip my beer, and I see a guy walk around the corner. I’ve seen him before, over the years. Desire rises in my heart and groin. I’ve always wanted him, but he was always with a guy who protectively always seemed to stick close to him—or been part of a group with no apparent interest in hooking up with anyone. He’s beautiful. He’s about six foot tall or thereabouts, with dark hair he cuts short and hides beneath a baseball cap—tonight it’s an LSU cap. He has the thickly muscled body of a football player, and always wears T-shirts and tight jeans. Tonight is no exception. His face is gorgeous, with wide blue eyes and tanned skin—there’s probably some Cajun in his background. I’ve cruised the contact sites looking for him before, with no luck. He’s either faceless in his profiles or just not on-line looking for Mr. Right Now.  I watch as he walks up to the bar directly across from me, ignoring the stripper gyrating near where is standing.

Our eyes meet, and he smiles at me. He has a beautiful smile, the kind I’d like to see in the morning when I wake him with a kiss on the neck.

It’s been a long time since I went into a gay bar, to drink and relax and have fun; even longer since I went into a gay bar looking to get laid with either someone I’d slept with before or someone new. That part of my life, and that lifestyle, is so far off my radar now that it never even crosses my mind to think about going out clubbing. I am fifty-six, soon to be fifty-seven, and while I  certainly don’t want to age myself or think of myself as old…I do feel that I’ve sort of grown out of that now.  I don’t think of it as being sad; I’m not sad about it. I certainly spent my fair share of time in gay bars.

When I talk about stories I’ve written and published, it’s not always easy for me to remember where the idea came from; in this case, I don’t even remember where the story was originally published, but I know I wrote it for an anthology; whether it was for one of mine or someone else’s, I do not recall. But rereading this one…I actually remembered the original idea; I was at the Pub one night, standing in a corner drinking a Bud Lite long neck, as I did, in a tank top and jeans. I hadn’t moved to New Orleans yet, nor had I met Paul. I was here for the weekend, visiting, and I ran into someone–someone gorgeous–that I’d slept with on a previous trip. He’d told me his name was something, I don’t remember what–he’d asked me where I was from and I’d said Tampa, so being a tourist I suppose meant giving me a fake name–but someone else I knew was there, and wound up introducing us; which is when I found out he’d given me a fake name. He was terribly embarrassed; I just laughed and said not to worry about it because it really didn’t matter.

On the flight back to Tampa the next morning I wrote a brief description of a story in my journal; about meeting someone and hooking up with someone in a bar who gives you a fake name and you know he’s lying to you but you don’t care. About five years later I started writing the story–the first draft was terrible, and it didn’t work–and then I remembered the story years later for this anthology (I wish I could remember which one) and started over. I tried to capture that prowling, on the hunt feeling you get when you go out looking to get laid, to have fun. I thought I did a pretty good job, frankly.

I actually used to run into that guy a lot after we moved here, and we became friends. He moved away about ten years ago; we always chatted and laughed and hung out for a while when we ran into each other.

I never asked him why he gave me a fake name that first time; I now kind of wish I had.

96a2aa6463aec1186b0808c4b6704c88

I Love the Nightlife

Ah, disco.

I’ve always loved to dance. In fact, many times when I’m cleaning and Paul isn’t home, I’ll put on some dance music and dance around the Lost Apartment while I’m cleaning. If it’s a song I particularly love, I’ll slip into Drag Queen mode and perform as I sing and dance along to the music. It brings me joy, and there’s nothing I love more than a dance jam. One of the things I tried to imbue in the Scotty books–especially Mardi Gras Mambo–was the joy that can be found in dancing and dance music; some of the best times of my life were on the dance floor.

When I was a kid I used to watch Soul Train and American Bandstand, and tried to copy the way the young people on the show danced. I loved going to high school dances. Of course, gay bars are often all about the dancing. I was also a child of the 1970’s, very much, and so I lived through the popularity of disco, which I loved because it was dance music. And while I sadly never went there, you also couldn’t live through that period without knowing about Studio 54.

So, you can imagine my disappointment when I saw the movie 54<; it was a glossy “boy from Jersey moves to the city gets caught up in the glitz but then walks away from it and learns from his experience” type movie. And while I may have never gone to Studio 54, I knew enough about it–and lived through that time–to know that this movie was deeply, deeply sanitized.

When I heard there was a director’s cut, that was much better because the studio had redone almost the entire film, I thought–I want to see it. Paul went to a play Friday night, so after I was finished with my daily work I got in my easy chair with Scooter and rented it from Amazon.

Seriously, it was amazing.

51j9xzmxetl-_sx200_ql80_

The only resemblance this movie has to the studio release is the cast and it’s about Studio 54.

This movie is bleak, dark, and realistic–I would say it’s just as dark as Saturday Night Fever, which is an incredibly dark movie.

Shane, the main character, played by Ryan Phillippe in all of his stunning young beauty, lives in Jersey City with his father and two younger sisters. This is blue collar America in the 1970’s in all of it’s realistic bleakness. He works as a pump jockey at a gas station; the hostage crisis in Iran is going on; the economy is in the toilet, and he is uneducated but wants something more–like so many people did from that background (like Tony in Saturday Night Fever, for that matter). He has a crush on Julie Black, an actress on All My Children, and after one wretched night in a bar where he meets a girl, they have mutually unsatisfying sex in the backseat of his car, and when he asks her if she want to go out sometime, she dismissively says, “I’m from Montclair and you’re from Jersey City. I don’t date guys from Jersey City”–he gets the big idea to cut off his long frizzy hair into a more stylish look and convince his two buddies to go into the city with him and try to get into Studio 54, where he might have a chance to meet Julie Black.

Shane catches the eye of Steve Rubell, played by Mike Meyers, in the crowd outside and is picked to go inside–his two buddies aren’t–and Meyers tells him, “Not in that shirt”–forcing him to take it off as the price of admission. Once he is inside, though…and this is very important–he is dazzled by the inside: the people, the decor, the music, the dancing, the celebrities.

ryanphillippe54

Before long, he’s hired to be a busboy, which requires him to wear those hilarious little running shorts that were in vogue back then–the bartenders are all gorgeous and shirtless–and he befriends another barback, whose wife works in the coatroom, and he moves in with them after his father throws him out for working at ‘that freakshow.’

The director’s cut doesn’t shy away from anything–the sexuality, the hedonism, the drugs. Everyone is smoking pot, snorting coke, popping Quaaludes. And of course, gorgeous as he is, Shane is getting laid left and right and using his body as his commodity. Shane also explores his own bisexuality; the movie never really makes it clear whether he is hustling when he is with wealthy men, or if he genuinely is fluid sexually. He often sleeps with people that Steve tells him to, and even gets some modeling gigs.

But the relationship with his married friends–Anita and Greg, played by Salma Hayek and Breckin Meyer, is also at the heart of the movie. They genuinely love and care about each other, but it’s never clear whether Shane is just close to them or if he’s part of the relationship. He definitely has sex with Anita–but after his initial anger Greg forgives him because they’re family.

There is also an incredibly awkward moment when Shane misreads a cue from Greg–now supplementing his income by dealing drugs–and they kiss for a moment before Greg freaks out and runs away.

54-16x9

I am not kidding when I say the director’s cut is a completely different movie from the theatrical release. There are characters in this version that don’t even show up–or if they do, it’s a small scene–in the theatrical version; there are whole stories and plots that vanish from this to the ‘original.’ This movie is very much in the tradition of Saturday Night Fever and Cruising (both of which I need to revisit now), and in its darkness and complexity, is equal to–and in some ways, superior–to both. This was the 1970’s I remember.

And the music! Oh, the music is so fantastic.

I highly recommend it.