Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Stag Party! (Or, The Fiction Department)

Last night was my company's holiday party. Before I qualify that, since I'm a self-employed designer, I have a story to back up said party:

A few years ago, deep in the throes of working for myself, someone asked me if I ever wanted a staff to work for me. I chuckled at the thought and promptly made up three employees on the spot to avoid answering the question seriously:

Darcelle Dardelle - my slutty and non-effective personal assistant;

Naomi Klein - my bitter and angry accountant; and...

LaDawna Marie - my transsexual intern from F.I.T. (sometimes known as New York's Fashion Institute of Technology - most often known as its colloquial counterpart "Fags In Training").

So, anyway, last night was our Annual Holiday Party. Darcelle, citing a "like, so boffo bonus deal" she got from her weekend employer, booked us a bottle-service table at Manhattan's luxe super-strip-club SCORES. LaDawna was thrilled. I was hesitant. Naomi was mortified. "Good thing you can't afford a legal staff," Naomi sniffed. Needlesstosay, after six or seven bottles of vodka, we all dropped into the experience and had a blast.

Darcelle, whose lengthy, silicone wrapped fingernails are so long she can neither type or answer a telephone, got us all discounted lapdances from her girlfriends/weekend co-workers. Naomi's earlier mortification turned into a ribald bisexual persona; she left early with several of the strippers' trick cards stuffed into the elastic waistband of her poly-blend slacks.

Much to my dismay, LaDawna admitted she'd swing across the Kinsey scale for Darcelle. Before I could say "sexual harassment awareness training video", Darcelle and LaDawna were kissing feverishly. Darcelle admitted she'd never been with a post-op male-to-female (she's had several female-to-male lovers, evidently), so she wanted to give it a whirl. I left before I found out if Darcelle and LaDawna were going to fully consummate their lust/love.

Of course, none of them showed up to work today.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Screen Ablaze (Or, And Introducing...)

And I am telling you...I'm so onboard the hype train today. I saw Dreamgirls last night at the Ziegfeld (yes, I was among the early gay and/or black and/or female and/or theater freak urbans who paid $25 for a single ticket) and all of the talk and buzz is to be believed, wholeheartedly:

Jennifer Hudson sets the motherfucking screen onfire.

She's so good she got two standing ovations - one after the operatic "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" and one during the end credits (where the audience is reminded again - this is her first film appearance). She even commanded applause breaks for single eye-rolled "shut-the-fuck-up" glances. Despite her American Idol past, she deserves every single honor heading her way.

Oh, yeah. The rest of the movie is pretty brilliant too.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Perils of High Fashion Modeling (Or, Dolores)

There's this story I often tell. It's about having a lot of grandmothers. It started when my maternal grandfather Fred got remarried about ten years ago. When I met my grandfather's new wife Grace for the first time, she sweetly asked me if I would call her "Grandma."

I had to refuse.

I didn't mean to be rude or jaded or anything, but my "No" answer, falling fast from my mouth, sounded harsh to her polite ears. I was laughing a little when I gave her my refusal, but I could tell from the astonished look on her face that I had to explain my stance.

The thing is, at that point I already had four "Grandmas". My parents divorced when I was around four years old. They have both been happily remarried for quite a long time (my mother and stepfather have been married almost 30 years; my dad and stepmother around 25) and in those new unions, I acquired more steps than a suburban split level home. I have step-everythings. I have step-relatives I don't even know about.

So, for the past 25 or so years, I have had four Grandmothers: Anna (maternal), Majel (a.k.a. "Mae", paternal), Pauline (step-paternal), and Dolores (step-maternal). They are a stalwart and whimsical set of ladies - as grandmothers are wont to be.

In my mind, there wasn't much room for Grace in this magic line-up. I tried to qualify my "No" response to her by adding - "Because you'll be number Five." This only added more confusion - since we had only just met and my Grandpa Fred wasn't exactly tuned in to the intricacies of my staircase of an extended family tree.

By the horrified look on Grace's face, it seemed she thought I was some kind of gigolo for the retired set - like I was a slutty grandson for hire out picking up wayward grandmothers at Interstate truck stops for cheap thrills, easy affection, and homemade baked goods.

I'm not sure how to transition here from the joke to the real reason I'm relating this story now - so I'll just blurt it out and back track a little:

This week, Dolores, my maternal step-grandmother, passed away in Florida after a long battle with emphysema.

She had been sick for a long time, but it was still a saddening shock to hear about her passing Wednesday night. Dolores was a sweet woman - she was something of a character. More than a decade ago, we forged a strong bond during my step-sister's wedding reception. We were both smoking cigarettes at the bar. At the time, smoking was really catching on as the worst of the worst sort of social offenses. Despite the fact that everyone at the reception was terribly drunk, Dolores and I were nearly the only people there who were smoking. So, naturally, we became each other's de facto dates for the evening.

Many months later, my stepmother told me that Dolores was always asking about me. "She thinks you're cool because you smoke." my stepmother said.

I visited Florida a few times after our bonding experience. When I saw Dolores each time, she would throw her arms around me and exclaim, "Oh, my smoking buddy's back!" and would then wisk me off to the screened in patio that she would use as a smoking lounge so we could light up.

One year, I was in Florida for Thanksgiving and Dolores' sister Nancy was visiting from Ohio. I had never met Nancy before - but immediately, I had a new Great Aunt Nancy. Nancy and Dolores were giddy as schoolgirls during Thanksgiving dinner. At one point, Nancy yelled to me across the table: "Trevor, you're so handsome. Why aren't you a high-fashion model?" Embarassed and flattered at the same time, I couldn't break it to Nancy that since the 1950s ended, there hasn't been much demand for models of my stout, stocky physique. I just nodded to her and snuck outside with Dolores for a cigarette.

Dolores was diagnosed with emphysema a number of years ago, which forced her to quit smoking. I only saw her once after her diagnosis. She had to use an oxygen tank and frequently asked rhetorically "Why can't I just smoke one more goddamn cigarette?"

I quit smoking (again) for good a few weeks ago. It was a sort of birthday present to myself. When I got the news of Dolores' death, I was out at dinner with my friend Robert. I was more than a little stunned. Since I was out in public, I couldn't really grieve fully. But, there was one thing I could do.

That night, Dolores, I smoked one last cigarette for you.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Surprising Sometimes (Or, A Turned Corner)

I went to a birthday party last Friday at Mo Pickens in the East Village. The party consisted of a large group for dinner (20 or so people) which was sort of complicated by the fact that we all had to pay a cover charge for a live band that was performing in the dining room.

I'll admit this now - whenever the phrases "live band" and "birthday dinner" mingle together, I get nervous. These two phrases, as delightfully loaded as they might be on their own, don't ever really need to get together for an impromptu shindig or hoedown or clambake unless, of course, you're in a band yourself...or your mother's an accordion teacher...or you happen to be named Courtney Love. As far as I'm concerned, "live band" and "birthday dinner" should stay singular individuals - loners and rebels - for good reason. They can be enjoyed separately in one evening or one day certainly, but both at once seems like a recipe for disaster.

Earlier that day, I was thinking about the evening ahead of me. My mind raced and looped into thoughts of dinner theaters and hammy performing and uncomfortable, required applause.

The all-day racing and looping was fortunately all for naught; the live bands (there were two) were intoxicatingly great. Their music was atmospheric and emotional and electric. As I sat there glued to the bands and their music, I was so drunk in song I could barely eat my dinner. I could only think about what an amazing act of courage it is - to get up in front of people (and their dinners, too) and create something. Performing is such a transient experience - it exists only at the moment it's being made and then it's gone. The thrill of it is in the watching and the being there. Recordings can hardly ever match the magic and the energy a performer can give a live audience.

Sometimes, despite my aging (and aged) notions about things, life can still throw surprises my way.

Links to the two bands are below...

Jamie Leonhart

Michael Leonhart

Friday, December 08, 2006

Is It Witch's Or Bitch's Tit? (Or, Heat)

Since it's now officially freezing - here are pictures I took this summer at Brooklyn's hot and famed Bastille Day block party on Smith Street.

I know it might be a bit too early to get bitchin' about the season shift (especially since the hell-on-earth known as January is coming fast), but still. It's colder than a bitch's tit or a witch's tit or a Beluga whale's teet outside today and, despite the allure of breaking in new winter accessories, I'm not feeling it one itty bitty bit - or one itty titty tit.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Some Things Are Like So Hard And Stuff (Or, Education)

I just had a birthday, so as I'm one year older, I feel more than a little entitled to bitch and moan and moan and bitch about today's youth...so here goes:

Certain antics of a certain former teen star make me wish for days when famous and talented child actors went from big Disney movies to Martin Scorsese films to French boarding schools to Yale.

Color me a snob - but what the world needs now is more Jodie Fosters. Or, at least, a Jodie Foster Clinic or a Jodie Foster Treatment Center or a Jodie Foster Talent Triage or a Jodie Foster Manage Your Stage Mother Emotionally Workshop. See, instead of muff flashing as a young adult, Jodie was quietly muff diving behind closed doors.

Yes, there's a difference.

OK, OK, OK. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking Leif Garrett. You're thinking Dana Plato. You're thinking Judy Garland (remember, I'm semi-officially old now). You're thinking - hey, for every single Jodie Foster, there's a million strung out, coked-up, pill-popped, time-serving, friend-killing, talent-wasting kid stars who grew up to be strung out, coked-up, pill-popped, time-serving, friend-killing, talent-wasted whores and thugs and who-were-they-anyways.

I suppose it's tougher to watch since it's all happening so quickly for poor you know who. Society's collective attention span is so short now, we can't even pay attention to car crashes or train wrecks for too long - they have to be wilder, bigger, badder than ever and done in five seconds flat so we can hurry up and watch the next one.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

From Russia With A Lot of Talking (Or, Our Testosterone, Ourselves)

I saw Casino Royale on Friday night. It was as joyously manly an experience as one could ever want from a James Bond film. In fact, Daniel Craig, the new James Bond, is nearly (dare I say...perfectly?) rough trade and makes Pierce Brosnan seem like a fading menopausal beauty cut from the same delicate cloth as Blanche DuBois. Casino Royale is so balls out masculine that I was even thinking at times (especially during a cock-and-ball torture scene in which Mr. Craig is stripped nude and strapped to a seatless chair) that all of the Brosnan-Bond movies (and of course, the Dalton- and the Moore-Bonds as well) were somehow sequels or prequels to Bridget Jones' Diary.

I was so caught up, I kind of didn't mind that the row behind me was littered with drunk Russians who were laughing and commenting full-voiced through every scene. Given Craig's badassedness and Eva Green's smoky eyes, there could have been a marching band practicing behind me and I wouldn't have noticed.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Friday, December 01, 2006

All Day Night (Or, Night All Day)

I know it's to be expected of this time of year, but it's been night all day today.

Well, not really night or midnight alley or midnight at the oasis or ball drops at midnight or midnight in the garden of good and evil or night of the living dead or night of the iguana or the freaks come out at night or boogie nights or it happened one night or in the heat of the night or fright night or night flight or opening night or mala noche or queen of the night or hell night or clash by night or silent night.

No, not that at all.

It's been a dusky shade of twilight all day.