Doing What I’m Passionate About

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First selfie with the new piano in situ!

First selfie with the new piano in situ!

So the piano was delivered a week ago, and I’ve barely been able to pull myself away from it.  I haven’t lived with a piano in my own space in some six years, and even then, when I lived in NYC the Steinway in the apartment actually belonged to my flatmate, a professional pianist, so my access was not 24/7, let’s say.  But as I’d bashed my head against walls since my late teens to make my biggest passion and worst habit my career, to not have this basic tool to do what I do has been a serious handicap.  Just to be able to sit and play, other composers’ music as much as my own, keeps my own creative juices flowing.  And while porn may sustain me another couple years at best, music is for life.

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Me, supervising musicians in a pit.  Note my score under my arms; I’m already making revisions!

Some of you have asked what exactly it is I do when I’m not making porn.  You know I’m trained as a composer, having studied at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore.  I’ve written for small ensembles, like this set of four Cuban-inspired Dances for clarinet and piano:

You can hear that movement here:

At the other extreme, works for large orchestra; this ensemble would require about eighty performers on stage:

Besides piano many of you know already that I play tuba.  I also sing bass and countertenor, and I’ve dabbled in a number of other instruments.  However, most of my work has been performing what I best refer to as “music preparation”.  Generally this means working with material that already exists, editing it or arranging it or just copying it.  It’s a tiny little niche in the rather small world of classical music; I also dabble in jazz and broadway/cabaret, but to less of an extent.

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The simplest of variants of this is simply taking a composer’s manuscript and making the fine engraved copy that can be sent to publishers and put in front of performers.  This will include incorporating rehearsal marks, cues in parts, and other critical marks that ease performance, as well as simply identifying and correcting errors in the musical text.  Sometimes this is quite easy.

Sometimes its much more difficult.

Sometimes it involves transcribing into modern notation an older means of notating music, or one of the experimental means of notation that composers dabbled with in the 14th and 15th centuries, and which modern musicians are not accustomed to deciphering.

More involved, I arrange and orchestrate works.  There is an operetta by the late nineteenth century German composer active in Vienna, Oscar Straus, called Tapfere Soldat (commonly translated as The Chocolate Soldier), loosely based on Shaw’s play Arms and the Man.  Straus had a gift for melody, and every tune in this work is something you walk away from whistling.  He enjoyed great popularity in his time, but fell from fashion at the turn of the century, and was largely forgotten by the time the Third Reich started actively destroying any materials of German Jewish composers they could get their hands on.  As a result, despite there being many piano reductions of the score, we were having trouble coming up with any published orchestral score.  And the couple recordings I listened to involving orchestra were remarkably “flat” sounding anyway, not terribly interesting.  We came to realize that the orchestrations used in those recordings were made recently from the piano-vocal score, which had a bare minimum of accompaniment.  As the piano-vocal that was widely sold and hence survived would have been published so amateur musicians could play the songs at home, they were kept simple.  Examining similar works by Straus’ contemporaries whose works we have better representation, like the Strauss brothers (not related to Oscar) Josef and Johann Jr., Emmerich Kálmán, Franz Lehar, and Franz von Suppé to name a few, we confirmed that the original full score would have incorporated countermelodies and muscial gestures not reflected in the piano-vocal.  As this more complex orchestration no longer seemed to exist, whether due to Nazi obliteration or later neglect, we decided to recreate what might have been, matching the style of the day as much as possible.  This orchestration, for twelve instrumentalists, was used in a fully-staged production at the Bard Music Festival for three weeks in 2010.  I’ve prepared a full script for the musical, calling it Arms and the Man to distinguish it from mere translations of the Straus original, drawing dialogue directly from Shaw’s play and making new translations of the German lyrics for the songs to match.  And now I’m sending this around to operetta companies in the States to try to get further performances of what has proven to be a really charming and funny play with some super music.

After the success of that work, the following year Bard decided to do an adaptation of Noël Coward’s musical Bittersweet.  Coward, writing this in the 1930′s, set the frame of the story in Paris in the years coming into World War II, following an elderly lady’s reminiscing of her youth in a gilded age of the 1870′s and ’80′s.  His style hence straddled the jazz era of the 1930′s and the waltz era of the fin de siecle.  Our director thought it might make the story stronger if we updated it, setting the framework in 1960′s cold-war Europe looking back on the 1920′s & ’30′s as the gilded era.  As such, we had to recast a lot of the music into a more apropos style.  As many of the characters are in fact musicians, and stage instructions often call on them to “improvise a jazz version of such-and-such a tune at the piano” or some such thing, many of these improvisations had to be created essentially from scratch.  The great tune of the musical is a waltz tune “I’ll see you again”; at the end of the musical, back in the 1960′s, one of the younger characters creates a modern version of the song, completely missing the meaning and point of it.  The original version suggests he makes a foxtrot, but as that made no sense in a 1960 setting, here’s the original, and my piano “improvisation” drawing on the Beatles’ Michele, Ma Belle as the model.

Again, this required not only the rearrangements for the entire show, but again orchestrations to be prepared for a pit of 12 instrumentalists, as well as writing parts for the actors on stage to perform as well, and of course doctoring those to the actual ability of those actors to perform on a given instrument!  All of these folks can sing, but when stage directions call for specific ones to play piano, violin, concertina (okay, we managed to make the accordion go away)…  This was a challenge!

More involved are projects where music has to be reconstructed.  For every work of classical music we have a full set of materials for, there are hundreds which either fell from fashion at some point and have yet to be rediscovered.  Remembering that before the advent of photocopiers, music either had to be engraved and published, an expensive prospect only lavished on the few works publishers knew they’d be able to sell, or had to be copied out by hand.  If you wanted a set of opera parts, you usually had to hire a copyist somewhere in proximity of an extant score to copy the score and parts out, one at a time.  Hence many works only existed in one or two copies, many of which are in somewhat ratty condition considering how much use they may have endured in their day, or how they may have been stored in the meantime.

The Viennese composer Franz von Suppé wrote over a hundred operettas, most of which are completely forgotten.  Indeed, Suppé himself is really only remembered today for two overtures, the ones to Poet and Peasant and Light Cavalry, both familiar to anyone who watched Loony Toons cartoons in their childhood.  A few of his musicals were about earlier composers still popular in the 1860′s, notably one based on Mozart in 1854.  These musicals not only had stories very loosely based on biographical parts of the subject’s life, but also incorporated the most popular tunes written by that composer.  His musical Schubert, written in 1864 and based on the music and a very spurious biographical legend around the early nineteenth century composer Franz Schubert, enjoyed huge popularity for ten years after its premiere, but then faded.  Again, the only part of the score which was published publicly was the overture; the rest of the score and parts were put in a trunk, stuck in the theater’s attic, and forgotten about.  So when the Bard Music Festival wanted to perform this operetta, there was a hunt for the score.  It was found, but after a century of neglect, it was rat-eaten, water-damaged, faded…  And further, I wasn’t given the original but a really badly-done photoscan.  From this I had to make a full performing edition.  Pages were missing, pages were illegible.  I at least had the full lyrics and dialogue (in German), so I was generally able to identify when I was missing music, and as many of the tunes were familiar Schubert melodies, I was almost always able to reconstruct exactly how much music was missing in any of these holes.  Having copied out as much as I could, I spent weeks combing through and filling in the voids.  The result was performed at the Bard Music Festival to acclaim in August of 2014, and a recording of the performance is on Spotify.

So that’s what I do to earn my keep.  And I’m only looking to broaden that…  Not only writing more music and increasing my performances, but also perhaps picking up a new instrument or two.  I’ve always wanted to learn to play theorbo.  I want to play bagpipes again; I haven’t played since my teens.  And along the lines of bagpipes, while the Great Highland bagpipes are what most folk think of (and are a distinctly outdoor instrument!), I’d also love to learn to play the Northumbrian Smallpipes, a much sweeter and softer instrument, better suited to indoor use and playing with other instruments.  All I have to do is come up with one to start learning on…  Anyone know of one for sale?

No?  Well, thanks to you all I’ve got this absolutely amazing piano, and after years away from one I’ve finally started playing daily again.  Jeese, seems I can use the practice!

BLUE COLLAR BALLERS!

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At the end of March Titan finally actually invited me out to their site in Palm Springs to film.  Jesse has been in the industry a shorter amount of time, but had already filmed there two or three times, and I was starting to feel some envy.  I ended up staying a few extra days just to enjoy the California sunshine; Boston is still a bit bleak at the end of March, after all.  And while we were there, I got to be part of two just amazing scenes with two amazing guys.

The first was a scorching scene with a man who not only is one of the models of sexiness for me but is also a really good friend, Hunter Marx.  This scene isn’t released yet, but I’ll definitely let you know when it comes out!

The second scene was with a relative newcomer to porn, Dallas Steele.  Why this man has taken this long to answer this calling is beyond me.  He’s hot, he’s sweet, he fucks like an animal, he takes a brutal fucking, and that dick…  Curved exactly right to hit what it has to.

The film, Blue Collar Ballers, has had some stellar reviews.  To wit:

From our buddy Gay Comic Geek

From our friends at ManNet.com

There’s a great interview with Dallas HERE and he writes further about his first time on the Titan set HERE. You get to find out what a smart, humble, and rather devious man he is.

And of course Jesse posted about it on his blog, HERE.

The preview of the scene can be seen HERE.

The full trailer can be found HERE.

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Some viewers have noted a resemblance Dallas has to my boyfriend, Titan Man Jesse Jackman.  And I have to say, they’re not wrong.  They’re both well over six foot tall, they’re both massively muscular and have those “superhero” torso-to-limb proportions, they’re both furry.  Really, about the only difference is that Dallas has a tattoo or two more than Jesse does, and that Dallas has hair.  That aside, though, is it any wonder that our on-screen chemistry is incendiary?  Just wait, though…  There’s a scene coming out in the next several months with Jesse and Dallas.  THAT will be one to watch out for!

I mean, really, if it weren't for the hat and the tattoo, wouldn't you think that was Jesse?

I mean, really, if it weren’t for the hat and the tattoo, wouldn’t you think that was Jesse?  Even the smile is similar!

It is worth noting that, even after having filmed that whole scene, Dallas and I still had more exploration to do with each other after the cameras were put away.  Yet again, thanks to TitanMen and the quality of men they work with, I’ve made another really excellent friend both on and off set.

Also on the film, hot scenes from my buddies Eddy CeeTee and Nick Prescott, and a really sexy friend of mine from Chicago, Hugh Hunter.  And Hugh gets to work with my god among men, of course, Jesse.

Later in the week, Hunter Marx and I got to do a little more exploration, as we were asked to testdrive some of Titan’s new lines of toys.  Much fun was had!

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Comments from the Peanut Gallery

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So among the lots and lots of supportive comments my blog post from yesterday about the Rentboy.com raid has received, there are two standouts for being rather the opposite.

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Sidewinder says “Aren’t you satisfied with the brand new piano your gay faced BF begged for? Go “compose” something or “share your gift”. LOLOLOLOL!! BOTH OF YOU, STOP TRYING TO BE RELEVANT. You come across as a real pain in the ass. You’re a hooker, your BF is a hooker. JUST BE ONE. And please tell your better half that article about telling is mom about his “adult life” was creepy, inappropriate, and downright strange.”

Gay man With Degree writes “This is being sent around by gay men to other gay men as a gag The Idiotic ramblings of a narcotic corrupted brain. Who other than a dope with a brain functioning lower than that of someone with Down’s syndrome would compare slavery laws to prostitution law’s? And saying there’s no other employment opportunities in the world for young gay men is laughable and a pathetic attempt to justify your laziness and retardation Get a life looser”

I couldn’t have asked for better examples of exactly the sort of stupidity I’m talking about, not even looking at the misspellings and faulty punctuation, or the sophomoric handles and email addresses.  Here are two gay men, one of whom has to trumpet the fact that he has a diploma to give any weight to his statements.  These guys have swallowed the societal misconception, hook, line, and sinker, that there are classes of people who should be treated like animals.  And they’re just the men to do it.

Here’s the thing.  I know people are going to disagree with me on the Rentboy events and the nature of sex work, and that’s fine.  But it seems if you have a good reason to disagree with me, you might present such an argument.

These two gentlemen have only taken the time to find my blog and post, certainly, but all they’ve done is call me names.  Perhaps they lack the ability to formulate a reason to disagree with me, but I suspect it’s just laziness.  Anyone with any intelligence who wants to see progress would say “But wait, mightn’t such-and-such be true, or don’t you think…?”  Instead all they can do is cast insubstantiatible aspersions on my character, of which the majority people will only see evidence to the contrary.  I’m sorry, but if someone hasn’t got a good argument for his position, regardless of whether he’ll ever recognize it, he has lost the fight.

The sad thing is that these comments are couched in such a disparaging, condescending tone.  If these men had a real argument, they would have presented one.  Lacking one, but still feeling some compulsion to beat me, they’ve resorted to slinging monkey shit.  If either of them felt secure in their work, in their sexuality, in their life, they wouldn’t feel like they need to place someone, anyone, into a lower position than they feel they are.  Being a porn star and a public figure makes us prime lightning rods for this sort of abuse, but it means nothing.

Are we relevant?  Are these gentlemen going to be our relevant voices, with this negativity and contempt?  Is this what we want for ourselves?

This insecurity in our ranks is what poisons us as a demographic.  If the world at large has a low opinion of us, it’s because this is the sort of respect with which we so often seem to be treating ourselves.  It’s not unique to gay men; of course this sort of need to find someone to disparage to make one’s self feel better happens across all divisions of society.  However, we as gay men are particularly broken folk.  Many of us spent our formative years hearing repeatedly how these feelings and inclinations which are so inherent to our beings are vile, evil, and depraved.  Is it any surprise that the less thoughtful of us would internalize these criticisms?  Of course lots of us have such low opinions of ourselves.  This is a malaise we need to find a cure for, and soon.  As long as we continue to turn against ourselves out of a misguided sense of self-preservation, the rest of the world is going to look down on us for our infighting and fractured front.

Realizing I’m preaching to the choir with most of you, this really is a plea to those few of you who would post such a comment.  Grow some balls.  You’ll be happier.

 

A quick addendum.  Hope you get as big a laugh out of this as I did.  Anyone want to translate what the second half of this means?  Not that I’m terribly worried about it.  The first half of the comment makes some assumptions about my finances he can’t possibly know and which my accountant will find scoffable.  However, anyone who uses “Bye Felicia” as a fake email to hide behind and yet still can’t spell “bye” or “Felicia” correctly is probably not much to worry about.

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Reflection on the Rentboy.com raid

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Rentboy Closed

Okay, so perhaps it isn’t quite so surprising that in the days following the mandated legalization of gay marriage that there might be some pushback against any freer expression of sexuality in our society.  Indeed, in the States we seem so hellbent on denying that a little physical affection is so necessary to our well-being individually and societally to the point of actually demonizing those needs that those who refuse to utilize those resources available to them hence feel they have to refuse that right to everyone else.  Misery does indeed love company!  Thus we have laws which regulate our morality instead of protecting us from criminal activity, and morality is subjective.  How long did we labor under legal constraints that precluded any sort of non-missionary non-heteronormative sex or even social engagement?  How long was it legally codified in our country that folk of African descent were less citizens than those of European descent?  As it has come to be understood that these laws were injurious to one demographic and did nothing to protect any other, they have been overturned.  And there have been objections from “moralists” to these changes every step of that way.

It is not enough to call something criminal simply because there is a law against it.  If that law exists, it is in place (or should be) to protect someone, perhaps many of us, from becoming a victim.  Rape laws are in place to prevent unwanted sexual intercourse.  Theft laws are in place to prevent people from taking our personal property.  Laws outlawing murder are there to deter folk from taking away our lives.  In all these instances, there is a victim in the crime, someone who loses something, life, property, dignity.  Anyone wishing to deprive us of these basic rights is indeed a criminal, and their capture and punishment should be the aim and objective of the criminal justice system.

Who exactly is the victim of escorting?  Is it the escort, who has entered into the arrangement of his (or her) own will and on his terms?  Has he been somehow forced into the seraglio, indentured as a sex slave?  Or is he an entrepreneur, who identifies a resource he has, and has entered into a business venture to share this resource with a public who has something to offer in return?  Is the victim the client, who understands the nature and terms of the transaction before he signs on?  Is he somehow being deprived of his money in exchange for something of no value to him?  Or is he perhaps a person desiring some company, perhaps some physical affection, and somehow lacks or hasn’t the time to pursue the normal societally-accepted means of coming by that?  Or is the victim society in general?  Does escorting bear some corollary criminal behavior the same way the inner-city drug trade is closely allied with organized crime and gang warfare?  Does providing individuals with company, and if company is of an intimate nature then providing that behind closed doors, somehow corrupt the morals of future generations any more than any other societal norm we exhibit?

Prostitution laws were enacted to protect what was viewed by the upper ends of society as a weak, victimizible class, specifically women of poor means.  The idea was that women were being forced into prostitution by unscrupulous men for the man’s profit, and hence these women needed protection.  Never was there any acknowledgement that perhaps this was the woman’s only means of survival in a world where men refused to give women the same rights to education, to run a business, to start a household.  Nowadays we have more specific laws to protect such classes of folk: we call this human trafficking, and this is a vile and horrid practice, with lots of victims of the sorts described before.  Prostitution in the meantime, having spent so much time lumped into society’s understanding of what we’ve come to call human trafficking, has only seen confirmed the veneer slapped over it by society that anyone who would sell their sex and companionship must be morally corrupt.  Folks who are sexworkers are constantly called whores and leeches; people accuse them of being too lazy to hold a “real” job, and too dishonest to declare their income to the IRS; they are told they are disease-ridden like vermin.  It is possible that examples of any of those can be cited, but I’d challenge anyone to produce evidence that the gross generalization proves true.

Similarly, it’s not the clients hiring these escorts who are victimized.  Escorts do not show up, take the cash, and just leave; these men were approached for something the client in fact needed, be that amatory or just companionable.  And judging by the number of men who have returned to hire an escort again, often the same escort, it’s certain that in fact it works for them.  Many buddies of mine who escort will say that, not unlike being a bartender, there’s far more therapy involved in many meetings than anything else, even whether sex happens or not.  Most clients simply need some physical affection, someone to listen to them talk, someone who will reassure him, despite not having someone in their life who will hug them, curl up with them, listen to their problems, or give them someone to go with to do things he enjoys, that he is still loveable.  Escorts do exactly this.  To suggest that this carries less meaning because they are paid for it is to also suggest that the comfort therapists provide is suspect because they charge, or that a doctor’s Hippocratic oath is rendered violate once he accepts payment, for instance.  Where do we draw the line?

Reading through the accusations in the complaint, not once is there any mention of any nonconsensual practice.  No instance is brought forth of a single human being being harmed, even tangentially, by letting men pay for sex with other men. Contrast this with the often exaggerated claims of trafficking and human slavery that are used to justify cracking down on heterosexual prostitutes, treating willing female sex workers as default victims: this complaint doesn’t even bother with such niceties.  The complaint’s objects are portrayed just as sickening depraved faggots violating New York’s prostitution laws, and the only apparent reason the Department of Homeland Security needs to get involved is because it involves interstate commerce.  I mean, really; that men have sex with each other and instead of one buying dinner for the other that there happens to be an exchange of cash is somehow a threat to our American borders and freedoms?

Rentboy.com has been in business for a whopping eighteen years.  They have always protected their interests by insisting that all transactions are for the escort’s time, never for the services involved.  What happens in that time is something determined between consenting adults.  Indeed, perhaps sex is expected, perhaps sexual qualifications are included in the advertisement, but the pay has never been for sex.  Rentboy has hardly operated under a veil of secrecy in that time; indeed, beyond offering the company of men they have also been quite visible in their advocacy for sex workers.  They have been public advocates for sexual health and mental well-being, not only of their advertisers but also for the gay community at large.  They have supported education programs, notably the separate nonprofit HookOnline, founded and run by sexworker advocate Hawk Kinkaid, and offering classes and podcasts to help improve safety and social image for escorts without judgement and without overtones of “we’re here to rescue you.”  Rentboy has offered events celebrating our gay culture, dance parties under the HustlaBall aegis and the Hookie Awards.  And recognizing the sheer number of young men in their ranks who are using this means as a way to subsidize an education, they just started a scholarship program (happily still taking applications).  Why exactly are they being targeted now?

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Follow the money, is the answer.  Rentboy has grossed well over $10 million; if the prosecuting bodies can make three citations stick and invoke RICO laws, those assets are deemed forfeit, and are divided up between these bodies.  Nice little money grab, no?  Some are suggesting that this is the principal reason the Department of Homeland Security is involved, and I agree that I think it unlikely that the Rentboy records are going to reveal the name and address of the next Paris train gunman.  The other clue may be in the unsubstantiated mention of money laundering in the complaint, and the only thing documented therein which might possibly fall under this heading is a single mention in item 58 of a line item expense in Rentboy’s records, a line item that says “Sean — Viagra”.  On one level, that might be an attempt to confirm that Rentboy was in the business of sex, not of companionship, but I wonder if someone didn’t see that as a use of corporate funds for non-corporate use.  It’s tiny, but if the authorities only after 18 years of legal hunting finally found this one little crack to wedge their crowbar into, the timing of the raid might make sense.  It would explain the multitude of national and state organizations involved in the raid, as the only true legal justification they had was financial malfeasance and potential money laundering, and thence they’re just praying they find the proof they need in the seized records and data from the Rentboy offices to make the rest of the accusations stick.

Even we in the gay community who live on the better side of the tracks tend to forget that lots of us come from far more difficult circumstances.  There’s a host of LGBT youth with no welcoming homes and families to return to and no resource for education or social improvement.  Studying at the university level requires funding beyond the means of most student-age men; for those with parents lacking or unwilling to help with these expenses, how is such an education to be acquired?  The sort of legitimate jobs available to such students don’t begin to cover the expense unless they take up all the student’s time.  I find myself wishing I’d had this as a financial resource in my own college days: I would have saved myself and my parents a lot of financial embarrassment.  Further, the history of sex work is inextricably tied in with both the feminist movements and gay struggles for equality; to turn against these escorts is to turn our backs on a public that has been our support for decades, if not longer.

There are some great minds weighing in on this.  Read columns by feminist Yasmin Nair, one by gay sex-positive columnist and advocate Dan Savage.  Florida attorney and South Florida Gay News editor Norm Kent posted a scathing critique published by Str8upGayPornScott Shackelford wrote a really smart column for Reason.com, some of which I’ve drawn on in writing this post.  He makes this statement, which I want to quote:

The larger gay community and gay leaders need to jump on this and get loud, fast. We’ve been fighting for the right to define our relationships as we choose, not allowing the government to decide what is legitimate. Marriage recognition is just part of that fight. We are not free as long as the government is dictating the terms of our sexual interactions. I expect to see outrage from every major gay and lesbian organization at the callous disregard shown toward those men who seek to sexually connect on their own terms.

Addendum of Sept. 1, with a few more awesome things written or that I’ve found since writing this post:

Three entries in the Gay Voices section of the Huffington post, one by Matt Baume, one by JamesMichael Nichols (the deputy editor of Gay Voices), and one by Matthew Ebert.

David W. wrote of his experiences on his Facebook page.

An anonymous writer contributed this smart narrative to The Guardian.

Justin Vivian Bond, writing on his Facebook page about the statement he was asked to make to the New York Times and then cited by Dan Savage.

The New York Times published an editorial looking total askance at the Rentboy raid.

There’s this awesome argument for the legalization of prostitution by German Lopez.

And for those who don’t like to read (why would you be here, reading my logorrheic prose, though, I’d wonder), there are these two amazing videos.

One by Matt Baume again:

And one produced by Jake Jaxson of Cockyboys, featuring an powerful narrative by Rob Yeager, well known to the porn, sexwork, and BDSM worlds.  This video was originally posted to YouTube, but was reported for inappropriate content and was taken down.

And can I say…  My day was made yesterday evening when it was brought to my attention that this very blog post was cited by no less than Dan Savage.  I’m just floored. 

What’s my own personal involvement in this?  Of the seven men arrested, three have been close friends for years, one (Hawk) nigh a brother to me.  One cannot work in porn and not know dozens, possibly hundreds of colleagues, friends and folk one cares about who have been or currently are escorts.  These men have done nothing to hurt anyone, are merely capitalizing on one of their own personal assets, and have just found their income slashed.

And me, I’ve escorted, and make no secret of it.  After years of a successful career in music working at the top of the field in New York City, the economic “wisdom” of a bunch of greedy bank owners toppled the economy.  Want to catalog victims?  Folks lost their savings and their homes.  Businesses tightened their belts, and cut back on philanthropic outreach.  Arts organizations, long dependent on corporate sponsorship, withered and died.  My work went from more than I knew what to do with to nil.  And as a quarter of the rest of the workforce was suddenly finding themselves jobless too, I found myself confronted with competition from people with MBA’s and law degrees for mere Starbucks posts and bartending gigs, let alone career-track jobs.  In the succeeding two years I went from living comfortably though not luxuriously on the Upper West Side of New York City, having savings, and being able to travel a little bit, to being sorely in debt, under investigation by the IRS over the complexity of my many years of tax returns, and unable to find an apartment I was able to afford to move into when my lease ran out.  Just in case it has never entered your thoughts as to how such things transpire, this is how homeless people are made.  At the risk of sounding like the stereotype of someone forced into prostitution through desperation, it was putting an ad on Rentboy that saved me, at least making it possible to move to cheaper living conditions in Chicago for a few years.  It has in a few tight moments since kept me in rent.  It has in a number of ways made possible my slow but steady return to my music career in these succeeding years.  Without it, I think it quite likely I would have been forced into being one of those poor grubby smelly folk on the New York City subway, begging for change, and enduring the turned-up noses of all those folk who are already turning their judgemental noses up at the fact that I’ve been a whore.  Truth be told I would never have let it come to that; of the options available to me, I’d have chosen a tombstone instead.

Hence the real victims are the guys who are legitimately offering a business arrangement on this website.  Thanks to a society that demonizes sex, they find their job made substantially more difficult, and possibly more dangerous.  It is the world’s oldest profession, so closing Rentboy.com won’t stomp it out of existence; it will resurge again.  But if we let this go by unchallenged, we know that they will inch that moralistic line back further.  How long until we find some personal freedom you and I value has slipped over that line?  If they are willing to push back, we also need to be.

Daddy Issues

DirkColtonIM

DirkColtonIM

I’ve been quiet for a while, I know.  This summer has been focused on making new things in my life go, and resuscitating older things I’ve let slide by the last few years.  That’s after we returned from our epic and awesome trip to Australia to do outreach for the Victorian AIDS Council, an experience about which I really need to finish a long blog post.

The major thing I’m redoubling my efforts on is my music career, increasing the amount of writing and performing I do.  As part of this effort, many of you were superbly generous to make contributions towards the purchase of a piano for me.  I can’t begin to say how grateful I am for that support, and all the thank-you gifts I’d promised I swear are on their way!  We’re scrambling to get the CD’s duplicated and packaged at this point.  The piano is taking up other time as well; just the rearranging of furniture to accommodate it is proving an undertaking!  Meanwhile I’m also in talks with a few people about resuming studies, perhaps pursue a doctorate in music soon.  Add to that our couple trips to California, one for the Fourth of July and Jesse’s birthday, and the other for work in LA and Palm Springs, and it’s amazing how quickly the time charges by.  Here it is, August already, and until this past Sunday I’d yet to lay eyes on a beach in beach weather this year.

All this is to pave the way for what I’ll be doing with myself after porn.  Or maybe not so specifically after porn as what will continue to fill my life as I taper porn off?  We all know people who retire from their jobs in their sixties who continue working, just being more selective with projects that interest them.  At 43 I’m getting to be serious daddy in porn, but I don’t think it’s retirement age QUITE yet.  However, nobody among you is gonna want to watch my septuagenarian ass still fucking on camera in another couple decades.  My days in porn are numbered, as are they for any pornstar.  And I’m starting to think about (and forgive me, this sounds terribly masturbatory, I know) what my legacy in porn might be.  I’m going to be remembered for something after I’m done; it won’t be anything that shatters world paradigms or changes lives, but I’d like it to be something positive, something I can be proud of having accomplished.

I got to have a quick chat with Steve Cruz of Raging Stallion/Falcon at the Grabbys last May in Chicago, about the fact that RS had asked if I’d be available for a film for the first time in three years.  I apologized for having to decline the invitation, as the shoot would have happened in the midst of our Australia trip.  I was REALLY upset to have to turn it down because it was a chance to work with one of my gods among men, Logan McCree.  Steve was honest with me regarding why they hire me so rarely: Raging has certain policies about what sorts of men they hire.  This of course is to keep a certain “look” to their films, and pretty much all studios have some sort of guidelines, codified or not, governing who they put on camera.  And I’m old.  Not too old, but of a visage where the best justification to put me on camera is to pair me with a younger man.

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With Colby Jansen on set in the Georgia wilds for Son Swap (MEN.com)

Men.com has been overwhelmingly generous with me over the last two years, for which I’m so grateful.  Scenes like the two with Luke Adams and Colby Jansen in Son Swap are scenes I’m proud of; the one with Colby is still one of the most-viewed scenes on the site, and justifiably so, considering how hot my scene partner is, the flip nature of the scene, and my kinda one-of-a-kind cumshot (a direct reflection of how much fun we had filming that).  Interestingly that scene is daddy-fucking-daddy, not daddy-fucking- … well, okay, can’t call him “son” because that’s far too specific.  Nobody is ever a blood relative, and nobody is under age, either as an actor or as their character.  I’m trying to hint to Men that perhaps this daddy-fucking-daddy thing might have some legs; here’s hoping they catch on.

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Colby Jansen. That was FUN.

And I think that touches on exactly what rubs me wrong about being “daddy” in porn so often these days.  It’s not that I object to the fantasy of being the older man, more confident and assured for a younger fellow; it’s the insistent flirting with the sex-between-family-members angle.  It never seems to be enough for there to be just a mutual interest across an age difference, as “daddy” is conventionally used in our everyday gay world.  On screen for some reason it always has to be taboo, risky, flirting with pedophilia (which so many fans read into this genre even through every “younger man” I’ve worked with was well into his twenties and every character is clearly understood to be of legal age), with family relationships (SHOULD a stepdad be making sexual overtures to his stepsons even if he knows they’re receptive? Not really to my mind…), and with societal norms.  I get it, it’s a potent fantasy for many of you, and porn is about fantasy and not reality.  But if we’re going to expect viewers to be able to tell the difference between the fantasy of bareback sex and the reality of an STD-risky real world (for instance), why are so many unwilling to make the conceptual leap from the fantasy of that sexy man mom married to the reality of “I can’t expect that with my own stepson or stepdad”?

Part of this is also not so much the ageism (though that happens too; I’m always seeing comments online about how old I am) as about presumptions about the nature of an attraction when there’s a substantial age difference.  This even happens on set; I had a heart-to-heart email exchange with one director who writes her own scripts, having to explain the difference between “daddy”, where the younger man is in fact interested in the older man, and “dirty old man”, where the older man has to use some sort of leverage to coerce the younger man into sex.  And then we actually had a fight about it when she said she understood my objection, but still wrote scripts calling for that.  She just couldn’t understand that there might be any other motivation for the younger man to have sex with an older man.  I’ve been surprised to find this assumption among many straight women, and especially mothers (she is both), that an age difference simply means there must be a predatory intent.  I tried to get her to understand that it doesn’t matter how connected and romantic and hot the sex is afterwards, if you’ve established in the opening dialogue that the only reason one party is consenting to sex is to avoid some other unpleasant situation, she’s just made a ____* film.  For one scene we never filmed the dialogue because I simply refused to stick to her script, and she threw a tantrum.  I don’t work for that studio any more…

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With my sexiest stepson, Scott Harbor, in Stepfather’s Secret (MEN.com)

When I was in my 20′s, I don’t think a man under the age of 35 ever caught my eye.  I always dated men 5-10 years older than me, sometimes even more.  So I understand why “daddy” is such a potent theme.  It was back then as well; I just wasn’t aware of anyone calling their interests “daddies”.  So the prevalence the trend isn’t in question, and I have no problem with it inherently.  I’m just starting to tire of being daddy all the time, especially with movies which play so close to the edge of “are they actually family members or not?”  This isn’t what I want on Dirk Caber’s tombstone when he goes, that “He was a good daddy.”  I’ve done other things in porn, I’ve still some amazing things to do; there are going to be far more interesting and meaningful projects.  Men.com knows that there’s a market for pairing me with someone my own age (or at least someone with whom I’m on some sort of par–I’m pretty sure Colby’s not remotely as old as I am!); TitanMen has certainly been advocating for more age-appropriate pairings for me.  And I get it: I’m 43.  I am daddy for most of my colleagues, and it’s a mentoring role in real life as well as in the porn world that I’ve enjoyed taking on (though I generally prefer not to be called “daddy”!).  So yeah, I embrace it.  I just want to be something more than that.

So as I started out saying, among these shifts I’ve been working on this summer I’ve been reassessing what my upcoming goals are.  Music is occupying more and more of my time these days.  Home life with Jesse is becoming more interesting and involved and intimate.  I’ve some huge personal projects which are finally coming together fast.  Hence I’m thinking that perhaps it’s time to consider easing up on my porn involvement, similarly to those mentioned earlier who retire from work but keep going in a more selective role; perhaps it’s time to start picking my scenes even little more deliberately.  I don’t have to retire entirely, and I make more time for the rest of my life.

I do porn for fun, in the end.  Yes, the extra cash has been welcomed and in occasional circumstances direly needed.  But it’s not a long-term career, and it’s never something anyone is going to get rich doing, so why invest in it if there isn’t some enjoyment at the least in return?  All you watchers out there want to see porn where the guys on screen are actually having fun, right?  That chemistry is so much easier when making that film WAS fun.  Being given the same role over and over again starts to dull that enjoyment, and I fear that may show.  You don’t want that.  Neither do I.  So…

There is one other HUGE consideration regarding this, which I’m going to have to save for a separate blog post, partly because it will be a lengthy enough exploration unto itself, but mostly because I’m still working out how to couch an expression of frustration without inherently attacking the industry.  When I get it written, I know you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

 

* Addendum: I’ve had to change the text of this article, as one studio objects to the use of certain words in any post that references the studio as well.  As my options were either to remove the offending verbiage or cede all of my affiliateship codes and hence income, and possibly being denied further filming work with this studio, I am forced to comply.  It does amaze me that the context these words appear in has no bearing on their use; I can be using them entirely in the sense of “There is no _ _ _ _ or _ _ _ _ _ _ in this movie” and it’s still unacceptable.  I wouldn’t want to suggest that this studio is worried that you, my intelligent reader, will think that, by mere mention of the concepts these words represent in this post, I am implying that these things happen in these films.  It evidently is not enough that I am emphatically saying they do NOT happen in these films.  As this this studio routinely flirts with this fantasy and seems certain that you, the intelligent purveyor of porn, would be able to see past the roles portrayed, I cannot believe that your worldly sophistication is simply too suspect for them.  But I wouldn’t suggest anything of the sort.  I’m sure it’s a computer-driven process that red-flags those words in my blog post.  No human is THIS moronic.

Dore Alley Photos

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So last Sunday (was that just this past weekend?  This week has been CRAZY busy) Jesse and I were at the Up Your Alley street fair in San Francisco, and I was invited onstage to flog my good friend Andy a bit for the crowd.

I love flogging.  Both giving and receiving.  Delivering a good flogging is a workout, and great for flexibility and stretching.  Receiving one is perhaps one of the most intense deep tissue massages you’ll ever get.  And for both parties, it’s a means of intensifying sensations, and hence intimacy.  It has to be done well, with some technique, and (sorry, Andy!) I got him once or twice in ways that aren’t really encouraged.  Just need some more practice; any volunteers?

Andy and I also arrived on the podium to find that, unlike years past, nobody had adorned the stage with a St. Andrew’s cross or some other apropos piece of BDSM furniture.  So here’s a shoutout to my buddy Boomer Banks for stepping in and helping support my target.

And THANK YOU to Cyn Duby, writer extraordinare, who took these awesome photos!  Cyn was my interviewer for Queer The Air a few months ago.

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Fun was had.  And it’s just a windup for Folsom in two more months!  See ya there!

NYC for Pride! Parade & Pier Dance!

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I’m sitting in front of MSNBC as I write this Friday morning, waiting to see if today’s the day that SCOTUS chooses to release their decision regarding the legality and legitimacy of gay marriage in this nation.  Regardless of how or when this transpires, whether we’ll know the answer before this weekend’s Pride festivals in NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, and so many other communities celebrating this weekend, I’m still a proud gay man and I’m happy to count so many gay men and women, friends, my brothers and sisters.

LGBAC group

It’s to join up with one of those “families” that Jesse and I are driving down to NYC to join up with for Sunday’s Pride festivities.  I first walked into a rehearsal with the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps band in May of 2000.  In fifteen years I’ve watched the group grow from the 15 people who were in my first rehearsal to often an eighty-to-hundred-strong musical marching juggernaut.  In the years I lived in Chicago, my biggest disappointment this time of year was missing getting to march down Fifth Avenue with my sousaphone on my shoulder and so many good friends in harmony around me.  Through this group I’ve had the honor and thrill of representing our community by being part of the national Lesbian & Gay Band Association band that marched in Obama’s inauguration parades.  Twice.  The second time we marched 180-strong, making us the second-largest contingent in the entire inaugural parade!  If that doesn’t send the country a message, I don’t know what does.

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I think it’s important to understand that it’s ultimately who we love which defines us from the rest of the world.  Yes, there are cultural differences and relational differences, but these are probably more resultant of decades of discrimination, and demonstrate our resiliency and ability to evolve into harsh environments and do it with flair.  So I think it’s of course important (to say nothing of fun) to see parade participants who look sexy in skimpy costumes or resplendent in full drag, being flamboyant and outrageous and proud.  I do get a little tired of Associated Press managing to publish only the most lurid photos, though, seemingly completely ignoring the fact that MOST of the parade participants are normal folk who just happen to be gay, and who wouldn’t be caught dead walking down Fifth Avenue in front of hundreds of thousands of onlookers wearing a speedo.  Community groups, churches, corporations, parents and families, and just folk; they’re proud too, and have far more to do with who we are as an entire community than just the few of us who might show more skin.  This has nothing to do with what a person looks like; it has everything to do with who we ARE.

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So this is why when so many of my colleagues are stripping down for NYC Pride, I’m going to be girding up.  The band has a full uniform, and one I’m happy and proud to wear (and sweat my balls off in, the way weather often is the last Sunday in June in NYC!).  Aside from my long-standing association with the band, I think it’s seriously important to show that there are ways for any of us to be involved in bringing pride to our community and joy to the public at large.  Beauty is so far more than just what we look like, it’s about how we interrelate, how we care for each other; it’s about what’s in our minds and hearts.  I think the band is a far better analog to that model of our community than are floats full of gogo boys.  Not only are we all friends, as an ensemble we have to keep our ears open to each other to stay together; as a parade block we need to constantly be checking in to make sure we’re still in rows and in step.  There’s an intimacy to that sort of connection, to working together to make music; being in a band is about working together to accomplish a common goal, and all you need to do is be able to carry an instrument.  Playing it helps, but I’ll vouch for it that it’s really not quite necessary, at least not to start–just keep trying, and you’ll get better.

I’ll reiterate, floats full of porn stars and gogo boys are still important and awesome. Just don’t discount the larger parts of the parade, the groups that actually give onlookers something to reach out to and to actually be able to identify with.  We in the band may not be the sexiest bunch, at least not in the conventional sense.  But we are BEAUTIFUL.  And what is Pride about, if not to make us all feel beautiful?

SO.  Watch for the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps Band.  Somewhere towards the back (we’re usually at the back) will be the sousaphones.  Mine’s HUGE.  I’m a tad shorter than some of the other sousaphone players, so it may not stick up appreciably, but my bell is substantially larger than the others.  That’s me!  Wave!

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AND AFTER THE PARADE…  I’m not done with the Big Apple Corps.  Every year at the Pier Dance Heritage of Pride selects community groups to run the bars.  All tips earned go towards the community group.  I’ve helped with the LGBAC’s bar a few times in years past, though it makes for an exhausting day.  However, this year the challenge HoP issued to applicants was to come up with some sort of “celebrity bartender”, and the band honored me by asking if Jesse and I would join them.  This year the band was granted the coveted VIP area bar, and Jesse and I will be there starting early in the evening, helping raise money for this band.  Come by, order a drink, and say hello!

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And with that, there are cheers going up over Washington DC.  Lots to celebrate!

A Deeply Heartfelt Eight-Octave Thank You

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I don’t know how to begin or end this.  So consider this a love letter.

Bach's handwritten dedication of the Brandenburg Concertos to the Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt.

Bach’s handwritten dedication of the Brandenburg Concertos to the Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt.

At no time in western culture did the arts ever not rely on patronage.  Sure, the occasional dilettante with some wealth has undertaken to paint or compose or pick up a camera, but for most of us mere mortals, getting our feet off the ground so we can get our heads in the clouds has taken more than our own blown breath filling our sails.  Perhaps with visual artists it has been easier to see a tactile return on that investment, although sometimes one starts to wonder what makes a smear of oil paint on canvas so much more valuable when Picasso did the smearing than when anyone else did.  With performing artists it becomes more tenuous, in that there isn’t anything solid someone can take home and say “I commissioned that.”  You can’t take home a dancer and put him on your mantle if you subsidize a ballet.  Sure, for a composer there’s a score, and nearly everything Bach or Beethoven or Mozart composed comes with a cover page with a dedication to some nobleman who gave them money or a living situation or did some nice thing for them.  However, the score is only a description of a piece of music that a musician then has to realize.  Think of it as though instead of a Mona Lisa, you had a written description of how to paint a Mona Lisa, each brush stroke, what pigment blend it is, where to apply it, at exactly what time to apply it…  And every person who took those descriptions would paint a Mona Lisa, no two of which would ever be the same.  And what makes music almost noumenonal…  To complete the metaphor, as soon as you finish painting a Mona Lisa, it vanishes.  In this day and age, where having a thing to show for the investment is so much more concretely understandable as hard return for the investment, it’s hard to justify asking for that sort of patronage for something so intangible.

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Against this worry on my part, somewhat over a week ago Jesse started asking me if I’d be willing to consider a crowdsource means of raising some funds for a piano.  I’ve been living without one for upwards of five years now.  My skills as a pianist have decidedly deteriorated, to my deep frustration, and it has slowed my writing nearly to a halt.  Compound this with physical problems I was experiencing with my vocal chords.  An excellent physician specialist in Boston has finally reversed those, and an amazing voice teacher who has gone through this exact problem is now pulling me back to being able to sing again.  Compound those again with as yet not having found any ensemble to play tuba with in Boston, and there’s only so much reward to playing in my little studio room by myself…  I was starting to wonder if there really was any point to having a piano at all, if it was simply time to give up and find a job-job, if after all these years of idealistic artistic masturbation it was time to pack it in and move on.

Okay, that's actually my old ophicleide, which I don't play any more, but it's a fun photo...

Okay, that’s actually my old ophicleide, which I don’t play any more, but it’s a fun photo…

It doesn’t help that my taste in pianos isn’t Bösendorfer concert grand extravagant (they’re awesome, but far more than I need), but I also can’t work on a $250 Casiotone keyboard.  It’s like expecting a computer programmer to devise a new operating system on a Speak-and-Spell.  What Jesse and I found which I can make work (and which we can get into our house!) is a “hybrid”, a Yamaha AvantGrand N2 specifically.  The works are essentially identical to the actual working action of a grand piano, so the instrument feels right under the hands, but the sound processors are entirely digital like top-of-the-line electronic keyboards.  It doesn’t go out of tune, it can be played with headphones in the middle of the night, and I can connect it via MIDI to my computer for input and output.  Kinda perfect, but steep price-wise.  I just couldn’t justify asking for help to the tune of the $15,000 list price tag of such a device.

End-on photo of the action of an American Steinway grand piano.

End-on photo of the action of an American Steinway grand piano.

But then we’d located a used one for less, and Jesse proposed perhaps just asking for some portion of the needed cash.  I said what the hell, go ahead.  I’d thought we’d get maybe $150 and a ton of well-wishers.  So he posted a kickstarter campaign at http://www.gofundme.com/piano-for-dirk.  Two days after he’d written the campaign, I finally allowed him to promote it.

And then this happened.

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There’s data there that needs a little explaining.  That screen capture was taken as I’m writing this post, 48 hours after Jesse went live with it; the “5 days” actually reflects the time since he wrote the page.  The kicker is that we raised $5,000 in just shy of 24 hours after making this public.  Having promised to post a recording of a piano piece I’d not published before, Jesse jubilantly posted to his own blog here.  And even having reached this milestone, we’re still seeing you contribute more.

I can’t begin to say how much this means to me.  For some years I’ve been thinking more and more “Why write, when I can’t seem to get anyone to listen?”  Arts are about communication, about speaking to people’s minds and hearts in ways perhaps language can’t.  In a certain sense, even language itself is an art, an “artificial” (in the archaic sense, think of the meaning of “artifice” as an adjective) means of conveying not only concrete thoughts but feelings, conceptions, ideas…  And if you speak or write and nobody pays attention, how long can one really enthuse over the idea of writing or talking for your own enjoyment before it just starts feeling futile?

It’s been a revelation to me to know that you listen.  And you not only listen, you want to hear more.  And beyond that you want to hear more, to my utter astonishment, to want to help out with the purchase of a rather heftily expensive tool which will make it possible for me to create more.

We seem to have missed out on the used model we found earlier, but if years of watching eBay and other online sources have taught me anything, if it showed up once, another one will come along; we just have to be vigilant.  Now we have the means to jump on it when the next one does appear.  Meanwhile, the campaign is hardly closed; I’m still thrilled and delighted to send CDs and scores and manuscript pages to anyone who still wants to contribute, and believe me, every last little bit helps.  The campaign is still live at http://www.gofundme.com/piano-for-dirk.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!

I really, really hope that I can begin to repay this kindness.  It’s not just the money, as vital as that has been.  It’s the restoration of faith.  That’s priceless.

The composer at work. Thanks to you, back at work!

The composer at work. Thanks to you, back at work!

 

 

Yeah, I write poetry too.

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So here’s another geeky aspect to me.  Sometimes when I’ve got an emotion I need to find an expression for or need to pinpoint the source of, I’ll write poetry.  This one was written a year ago after a vile fight with one of my very closest friends, and written in the certainty that we’d never talk to each other again.  Took us over six months, but we did patch things up, and we’re closer than ever.  However, with events in the past couple weeks, suicides and deaths of dear friends in San Francisco, New York, and Paris, I’m posting this.  You’re under no obligation to read this; this post is more for me.

Ancora Ductila

His initial impression is of a distant sweetness,
Perhaps more tasted in the air than smelled,
Redolent of apricots, of heliotrope, of hashish;
He inhales deeply, imbuing his corpse
With the vapor wafting unseen on the breeze.

The aftermath is differently beautiful.
No birds sing, no animals prowl;
Not even ants creep among the dusty remnants of grass.
Trees stand leafless, their wood dry and white
Where the bark has eroded away.
No corpse is left; only bones,
Bleached grey in the unyeilding sun,
Lying in discontigous piles, fractured and splintered,
Twisted, and tinged black along dagger-sharp edges.
Knots of what was once hair and feather
Blow in the scentless wind. Decades hence,
When starving dogs first return to this dishallowed ground,
They will refuse these gnawings,
Preferring to chew the dessicated soil.

Those colorless, fragrant clouds
Pass over unseen, like a Pesach angel,
Mordant, bearing malaise across once-verdant lands,
Stripping, defoliating flower and tree,
Dropping both hawks and bees from the air,
Still in tormented guises of flight;
Turning horse as easily as vole aside,
Slavering at the mouth as to rid themselves of the taste.
They die as do insects, their twitching legs
Pawing at the air above, attempting to run, to burrow,
To flee the death they cannot see,
The angel’s flaming sword apparent only
In the line of life overtaken.

Centuries ago, in another dry blanched land
So ostentatiously given to our father’s fathers’ fathers,
The local harpist king once quipped at dinner,
“The number of our years are three score and ten;
And the fullness of those is labor and sorrow.”
When no guest cracked a smile, he harrumphed,
Realizing that only he would ever understand the joke.
His best friend, nay lover, was compelled to forsake him;
His wives conspired and played him for a fool;
His own much-loved son betrayed him, and was slain.
This tragedy played out on a stage only he could attend;
In generations since, most men fail to see the proscenium at all,
And hence never understand that, relatively,
His life was a comedy compared to theirs.
It matters not what to what means we resort;
All human interactions end:
All friendships, marriages, businesses, emnities, treaties.
Men grow distant, or are driven asunder; they quarrel;
Men die.
The gossamer threads, these ductile anchors,
So anxiously thrown in hope
Of securing an enduring bond,
Like a harpsichord string are so easily overtuned
And played too fiercely, they snap;
Or like an elastic band, they harden by exposure
Until in an unobserved moment they crack
And crumble away like unfired clay.
The only constant in our human experience
Is the ever-renewed disappointment
That no meaningful, worthwhile, or pleasurable connection
Proves permanent.

Thus, as all isthmi wash away,
Eroded by the unappeasable surge of the brine-heavy sea,
Does each man become an island.

The only things he sees:
The colorless, cloudless sky arching above him,
And the unsetting sun,
Scorching the unending dead plain stretching waterlessly ahead of him
As far as his myopic and cataracted vision can discern.

The only things he feels:
The crumble of the harsh dead grass under his calloused, gnarled toes,
Hardened by constant wandering beyond the ability to bleed,
And the sting of the wind-borne dust on his grisled, rosacea’d face.

The only things he hears:
The irregularity of his own slowly slowing heartbeat;
And the rasping exhalation of the rank vapor
Issuing from his grey, chapped, split lips,
Seeming faintly sweet to his own nose.

And the only thing he knows
Is that he bears a guttering, malodorous flaming sword
And thus he styles himself an angel.

June 2014

 

Value everyone around you.  Take time to say you love someone.  Don’t wait to find peace after an argument; do it now.  You just never know when all further opportunity will be taken away.  In the past four years I’ve lost over twenty friends, from people I just knew and liked to my nearest and dearest.  It doesn’t get easier, it doesn’t get any less painful.  And there’re always things left unsaid.

RIP William, James, Marcel, and Eric.  I love you guys.

 

Angel with a Flaming Sword

Edwin Howland Blashfield, 1893

Another Video Cameo

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So I was at Folsom Europe last year, and while waiting for my buddies to come down from their hotel room I was sitting talking to this fascinating guy outside of the Boxer store on Eisenacher Straße these two fellows walked up to us, explained that they were filming a documentary on the Folsom festivities with a focus on extreme body modification, and would it be okay if they took a few moments of video of the two of us.

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We saw no reason why not, so they held the camera as we continued our conversation, said Danke, and moved on.

Later in the day at the fair itself, I was aware of them particularly focused on a spectacularly blue-eyed fellow with an engorged set of genitalia inside a custom codpiece, and figured that must be what they were talking about when they spoke of “extreme body modification”.  Cool, right?

Here’s the excerpt from the really rather fascinating documentary.  My appearance is a quick flash at about 1:25  …in a sequence of people presumably “laughing” at this fellow’s extraordinary equippage.

Just for the record, when that footage was taken, the fellow who’s the focus of the documentary is nowhere nearby.  And, even having noted him, I’m the last person to laugh at anyone with the balls to undertake such a physical change.  Frankly, I think this is awesome.  It’s not anything I’d do to myself, it’s not something I understand the utility or aesthetic of, but I have to respect someone who saw something he wanted, understood how to accomplish it, and put it into effect.

And I REALLY have to respect a fellow who can do this in the face of a general public that is as likely to laugh at him as objectify him or just be turned off.  How many of us really could have seen past the appendage and found the man himself?

Now I wish I’d had the opportunity.

Next year.