Film

Impressionisms

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 | Art, Film | No Comments

Chrissy and I braved the chilly weather and hightailed it to the Camille Pissarro show at the Legion yesterday. I’ve never been particularly fond of Pissarro’s work, but appreciate his anti-establishment demeanor, elder Impressionist status, and for what he gave Cezanne. There’s a kind of tightness, or rigidity, that seems too perfectly confined by his framing, but when he does loosen up, the paintings are quite lovely, and at times the technique is just dazzling. But still, jousting with all those blue-haired ladies to get close to one of those things…

On to Impressionist offspring, Dean Smith and I saw Renoir’s Woman on the Beach, his last film in Hollywood, starring Joan Bennett, the darling of all the european ex-pats during those years, and who gave one of her most sensitive performances. “Go ahead and say it, I’m a tramp.” The story was pretty lurid for the time, with Joan married to a blind painter—she caused his blindness—but carrying on with Robert Ryan, who believes that the painter can really see, and is using his blindness to keep Joan from leaving him. He hoards his increasingly valuable paintings in a closet, the only record of what his eyes had seen. They all get along swimmingly and try to kill each other, and then in the sensational climax, the painter burns his work and, excited about the possibility of finally starting a new project and with flames leaping high into the sky, asks Joan to drive him to New York. She can do whatever she wants, he says, she’s free. Finally freed of him and the security that the paintings brought, she clamps her arm around him and off they go, destitute and with nothing but possibility ahead, just love and art in the city that never sleeps. Bye bye Robert.

How romantic. Sigh.

I would love to see the sequel, where they get to New York and discover how high the rents have risen since they moved to their shack on the beach and how impossible it is to get a show after all the galleries moved to Chelsea and painting became less about expression than cleverly manipulating the viewer and critic into embracing facile surface and commodity fetishism. They should have worked it out with Robert and stayed on the beach.

New Years Ramblings and Rumblings

Sunday, January 8th, 2012 | Family, Film, Food, Friends | No Comments

Turning 46 has been a little strange. Actually, turning 39. Then 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 and now 46. It seemed for the longest time that so much was to happen in the future: having a gallery in New York; getting my MFA; lunch at el Bulli. Prior to 39, failure hadn’t mattered that much to me, there was always time…

Last month I dined with a group of delightful, erudite, charming, and, thankfully, mostly older A-gays. (You can read an older post here for details about this particular society.) I sat next to the real life inspiration for the Tales of the City character played in the television series by Bob Mackie, “Rick Hampton.” His manner was the perfect combination of bitchy and clever—engrossingly intimate and effervescently droll. Nestled in the comforting fine wine and witty banter of the previous generation, I was temporarily relieved to feel not yet old guard myself.

Bud, 2011

I understand that the mid-life crisis is supposed to peak around this time, and that for most of us, mediocrity suddenly becomes fun. I’m kind of stuck in wanting all this specific stuff to still happen, but am getting really nervous about it not happening now. Do I shift my expectations and just continue what I’m doing, or do I do something entirely different with more realistic and actually achievable goals?

On the left is a photo of one of my new pieces, hanging in my studio—Bud. It’s of my Foreign Correspondent’s head, the day he bleached it blonde and ran off to the Folsom St. Fair in leather chaps and a rash.

deKooning’s first New York show was at age 44 Raymond Chandler started writing at 45. This is my “nam-myoho-renge-kyo,” my soothing mantra. In a few years, I’ll be chanting something about Grandma Moses…

A few weeks ago my bears and I took a drive up the coast for a hike and lunch in Guerneville at Boon. Boon is a gem of a restaurant, a foodie oasis in a desert of hamburgers and iceberg lettuce. The ingredients are from local farms, and are integrated into dishes that vibrantly highlight individual flavors. We had brussels sprouts deep fried in olive oil; a salad of calamari, white beans and arugula; macaroni and cheese with wild mushrooms; truffled french fries; a pork belly panino; and a chocolate brownie wading in a little balsamic reduction puddle and topped with sea salt and whipped cream.

My family came to visit for Thanksgiving. I jammed 24 of them into my living room for a sit-down dinner. My nephew Nathan slaughtered the turkeys a few days before, two free-range moderately buxom beauties who, during their eventless lives, enjoyed the Sonoma County air and grass in blissful gobble-gobble obliviousness to their digestive fate.

I saw Le Quattro Volte the other night. What a satisfying film, probably my favorite of the year, after Wong Dong-Li’s Poetry. It’s about the transmutation of a goat herder into a goat, a tree, and ultimately charcoal. Each stage is so attentively and patiently observed. A scene of the townsfolk presenting a Passion play in the streets focuses on a dog poking around, aware of absolutely every person, animal and thing, the goats looking on as if viewing a theatrical production with the dog the absolute center of attention. A lot of critical attention has been directed towards The Artist, another film that uses no dialogue, but I feel like this film brings to mind the true essence of silent cinema, where the narrative unfolds visually and the audience reads by observation. An understanding that people are—or can be—intelligent guides the film’s narrative, kind of like what the Republicans don’t do.

My niece and nephew had a baby. It’s one of those perfect little babies that squeaks and smiles and gets everybody talking about poop and breasts and flexibility.

My Foreign Correspondent moved. He got a job in New York and sold his possessions and moved within a week. His ability to shift gears so radically and decisively left me dizzy. And a little angry. Like, why couldn’t he do that with our relationship? Sigh.

A Night With Dean A Night With Emily

Saturday, April 4th, 2009 | Art, Film, Friends | No Comments

Dean Smith’s opening was Thursday night. Bob and I went together and met up with Nick, whose opening Bob had been to earlier. They both were still glowing, Bob all pink and giggly. Dean’s work is really amazing. His hand is so present but in a way that’s about it seeming not present at all. The work itself contains forms and spaces that are rendered in a way to confound resolution. It’s frustrating and beautiful, harmonious and disjunct.

Emily and I went to see Godard’s Made in USA tonight at the Castro. The film was exhilarating. Exhilaratingly frustrating and beautiful, harmonious and disjunct. At times the narrative seemed almost within reach, but then we’d be assaulted by a blaring soundtrack or recorded message, or an absurd political digression, or an emphatic political digression, or Marianne Faithfull tenderly singing As Tears Go By, or a whimsical Hollywood pastiche. Godard reimagines cinema by utilizing its language, alternately seducing us and punching us in the face with his many manifestos and domination of the medium’s clichés and vocabulary. The truth must not be known. If you finish your novel, everyone will know it, for poetry is truth.

Davide and a Mini Experimental Home Film-Fest

Sunday, March 15th, 2009 | Film, Friends, Gay | 2 Comments

Davide is visiting from NYC.  As he might have to move back to Italy next month, he’s boinking all of the guys he lusted after when he lived here, and annoyingly, they’re all totally my type and have made themselves completely accessible to him.  And not me.  Of course, my pearl-beyond-all-price is collecting dust while my Palestinian paramour is hashing out his visa issues in Arabia, so I shouldn’t be jealous, I mean annoyed, okay I mean jealous, but still, I’m annoyed.  I mean jealous.

Last night we had pizza and then a mini experimental homo film-fest at the CocoPlex.  We started with Dean Smith’s beguiling thought forms, then Cocteau’s Blood of a Poet, and then finally James Bidgood’s Pink Narcissus.  It was a thrilling evening of visually and conceptually stimulating flickers of light, ideas, and flesh.  If you haven’t seen Pink Narcisssus, and you’re a baby gay, or a baby art fag, see it today.  It was filmed over seven years in Bidgood’s tiny apartment on 8mm, an orgy of color and form and homo-erotic desire and fantasy, with dizzying dissolves and the tightest pants you’ll ever see.

Trouble in the Middle East, Porn Theater

Thursday, February 26th, 2009 | Film, The Dating Game | No Comments

I received a most peculiar call this morning, from a guy in Tel Aviv who, while searching for pictures of the bear porn überstar Jack Radcliffe, somehow came across me and decided that I was the one for him. Jack Radcliffe… or me? I’d go with Jack, honey.

I told my other middle eastern admirer, who was rather ruffled by the perceived competition. So I go for months without a date, and suddenly my love life is the cause of a new conflict in the Middle East. If only the other conflicts there could be solved with copious amounts of sex.

And speaking of copious amounts of sex, check out Jacques Nolot’s Porn Theater, an amazing film that I saw with Dean Smith the other night. Inside the theater, the camera, from the perspective of the screen, slowly pans back and forth, providing glimpses of these often wordless seductions between the men in the theater and the drag queens who circle endlessly around the auditorium.  Outside the theater, another kind of seduction is going on between the middle-aged female cashier who’s seen it all, the young projectionist, and an older gay man who alternates between engaging with them and the men inside.  So you see people connecting sexually on the inside of the theater through a very specific pared-down almost theatrical and very graphic interaction, then you see the three at the box office connecting in a different way, deeply, through language and the intimacy of shared experience.  The film ends with the three walking away together for a drink, but we know they’re going to end up sharing more, the perfect ending to this X-rated fairy tale.

Love in the Time of Diarrhea

Saturday, February 16th, 2008 | Art, Film, The Dating Game | No Comments

Last week BC and I watched Pascale Ferran’s brilliant Lady Chatterley, based on “John Thomas and Lady Jane,” D.H. Lawrence’s second version of his Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I am still moist. It’s a beautiful beautiful film. It doesn’t represent sexuality as something detached from the rest of human experience, but how we’re the same before, during and after love. The lovers separate at the end of the film, agreeing on an open future that may or may not include them being together in it, but they’ve evolved so fully because of their love, accessed such intimate truths, there’s no sadness or regret, just excitement about what’s ahead. Plus Parkin is hot as all get out.

The birds have converged on Casa Coco. There are so many robins in my backyard munching down on the cotoneaster berries and frolicking in the ashtrays-cum-birdbaths I feel like Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock’s Cinderella. Soon they’ll patch together a dress for me and take me away to the ball in an Italian Prune Plum carriage. They’ve eaten all the berries from the top of one tree over the past few months, and with plenty more, they’re going to be here for a while.

I woke up early Valentine’s Day morning to a slightly stronger version of a familiar scent that registered after a moment as not my own. Tossing back the sheets I was surprised to find a fairly large and colorful deposit from my bed-guest, which formed a trail from the bed down the hall to the bathroom, where an auditory experience competed with the olfactory and visual cacophony forming my morning greeting. Valentine’s Day morning was spent scrubbing my Tibetan hall runner and washing sheets. The SuperBears and I made crabcakes for dinner, then BC and I snuggled up to The Swimmer with Burt Lancaster. My sparkling hall runner, Burt’s basket and Marvin Hamlisch’s cheesy score made the perfect Valentine.

I gave up the Gilbert & George opening last night to see my friend Kevin in a play about an imagined meeting between Hitler and Walt Disney. Kevin made a very commanding and hot little Hitler. The rest of the cast did a great job, too, and while BC, Reese and I thought that the writer could develop his ideas, dialogue and staging a bit, we thought that the ideas were intriguing. I would have loved to have seen Hitler and Leni Riefenstahl’s affair developed, only to be completely ignored by the other characters, for instance–their ignorance mirroring the German people’s turning away from what was happening in front of them. In other words, too much of the ideas were spelled out in the dialogue–explained really. Conveying the ideas within the action and interaction among the characters would have made for a more lyrical and thought-provoking play. The play ends with Valter and Adolf playing on the floor with models of their kingdoms, just two boys with big ideas.

I’m gallery hopping with Emily today. The bears are in town, so I’m seeking aesthetic-, instead of sensual-healing this lovely day.

Milk Action

Monday, February 4th, 2008 | Film | No Comments

Gus Van Sant is filming a new picture about Harvey Milk, down the street from my house, starring Sean Penn as Harvey. Tonight Dean and I emerged from the MUNI Metro and were thrust into a late-1970’s rally outside the Castro Street Station. The facades of several shops on Castro have been converted to look as they did during Harvery Milk’s time, The Poseidon Adventure was on the Castro marquis last week, Bette Davis tonight, and the street is lined with big gas-guzzling cars from the era. They also have the swankiest port-a-potties all over the ‘hood. Or maybe they’re little dressing rooms? The other day they shot a scene with Harvey yelling about legalizing pot (pictured below). I can’t imagine how dealing with all the local businesses and permits and port-a-potties is easier than shooting on a studio lot, but it’s thrilling that they’re here. Do they still have studio backlots, or are they all theme parks now? Anyway, it’s a blast watching the neighborhood age backwards.

They’re still filming the rally on Castro, as I type this. “Okay, here we go… and roll ’em!” The whole neighborhood is vibrating. “Good ! Good! Thank you… Cut!”

Saturday Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Dates

Sunday, October 28th, 2007 | Art, Film, Friends, The Dating Game | No Comments

My breakfast date was sent straight from Central Casting—“Coco’s Dreamboat.” He lives in Southern California and came up to SF for a few days. We had met and chatted online only a few weeks prior to his trek northward. He stopped by my opening Thursday night and while smushing me between himself and Abearius in a Coco Sandwich, asked me to breakfast Saturday. He reminds me of the giant stuffed teddy bear that my kindergarten teacher let us all play on during recess—only he was all mine and I didn’t have to share him with all of those squealing tots. I fell in love. Really, I would have married him. Right then and there. We talked and talked, of ideas and music and art and infectious disease. I giggled like a girl, sappy music played in the background, the world was in soft focus, we embraced… and then off he drove to San Jose for his lunch date.

My lunch date was the terrorist that I told you guys about a few weeks ago—the one whom I thought had read Naguib Mahfooz and seemed to have a good head on his furry shoulders? Well, he not only adores Edina Monsoon, he aspires, unironically, to be her. He picked me up at lunch time to grab a bite before heading out to see my show. He had led me to believe that he was interested in buying my work. In the car, he asked me for a recommendation for his new car—a Maserati or a BMW? “I can spend up to a hundred.” I assumed that he didn’t mean $100, which is closer to what friends of mine have to spend on cars. He said that since his brother-in-law has a Hummer and his sister a BMW, and in his business he needs to drive something appropriate for his position, he needed to buy a gas-guzzling power symbol to display his status. I had thought he was just a bottom.

I was still trying tactfully to educate him on the great opportunity to educate his own circle about our responsibility to our environment and ending our dependence on foreign oil when he blurted out excitedly that he was about to set up production in China on a product that he was getting made for a fraction of the price that it would cost to be made here, “Dahling.” My mouth just dropped to the floor. Here I was with this person who represented everything that is wrong with the world. “Do you know what the real cost of production is in getting something made cheaply in China,” I asked? “I can just replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, ride the streetcar downtown, and recycle, but you, you can make a real difference….” but I was cut off again. “Dahling, look at that gorgeous little converrrrtible over therrrrre.” I gave up.

At my show, he basically said that he didn’t understand it. He even pointed to the pretty paintings in the back room, “Now that’s art!” He actually said that. On the way back to the car, we walked by one of those dreadful 3-story antique emporiums on Grant Street. A few days ago, Big Chris had asked me, “Could you imagine anyone actually buying anything there?” Well, my little terrorist pulled me over to the window to show me a giant carved quartz eagle, wings spread over a cloisonne globe. “I bought a much larger verrrrsion of this a few years ago. Don’t you love it?” “Well, there is a place for it.”

Finally on the road back to my house, he said, “Dahling, I know something’s wrrrong, what is it? Arrre you okay?” I was thinking “How did I get to this place in my life, with this wretched person? How can humanity be saved?” Instead I smiled and said, “Oh, it’s just having my show up and having worked so hard on it, I’m just a bit exhausted…” blah blah blah. He touched my hand and squeezed it. “I really like spending time with you, Chrrrris.” My “goodbye” has never held such finality.

I had but a few hours to recuperate before dinner with my third date of the day, my Paris Hilton. Seeing his hybrid pull up to my house set my mind at ease, and we motored with a minimal impact on San Francisco’s fragile ecosystem to catch Dan in Real Life. Mick Lasalle, the Chronicle critic–whom he knows, of course–had raved about how inventive the film was, but at every inventive moment, the film steered right back into familiar territory and ended exactly as it was supposed to and the way we all figured it would. It was a fun film, sure, and well-acted, but inventive?

We held hands in the movie, had sushi afterward, and then made out back at the Coco Pad, but I was still too emotionally exhausted from my show opening and my lunch date with the eco-terrorist to let lips or hands stray too haphazardly into any belted or zippered erogenous zones from which there would be no return. We chatted and kissed, chatted and kissed, chatted and kissed. Famous locals kept slipping off his tongue. I’m usually so compelled towards completing a pass that I had to keep thinking up new ways to avoid going to second base. “I’m thirsty, would you like anything to drink?” “I have to pee.” “Is Steve Carell just really good at being depressed or is he a truly versatile actor?” “Are Anna Paquin and Alison Pill the same person?” “Have you packed for your trip yet?” …”Um, Chris, do you realized that you’re talking to me while my tongue is in your mouth?” Finally, he got it and left, his shirt untucked and covering any embarrassing displays of intention as he lumbered down the stairs, and I fell onto my bed… zzzzz.

Walk Like an Egyptian

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007 | Film, The Dating Game | No Comments

I went out with this cute furry Egyptian tonight. He fits the profile of a terrorist so perfectly that I kept my hand on the handle of the car door in case I had to make a quick getaway and roll out onto the road on the way back from the restaurant. That is, he fits the profile until he opens his cute little furry mouth, and out rolls this big queen. He wears gold rings studded with diamonds, cologne, and unbuttons his shirt so that his hairy chest spills onto the table. He seems to be the only one of my would-be suitors to share my thoughts on relationships, love, monogamy and french kissing in the USA–and his body is straight from Central Casting–but he’s a bit more materialistic than intellectual. He’s fun, though, and has read Naguib Mahfooz, so a second date is in order.

I’ve been seeing Bob more. His little boyfriend left him for a rabbi. The absence of boyfriend-ness means I finally have a movie partner to watch all those Sokurov and Peter Watkins films with. I’ve missed Bob. He came over for dinner last night, and to watch Sokurov’sFather and Son–a meditation on father/son intimacy. It was overwhelmingly homo-erotic, to western eyes maybe, but still, pretty dang erotic. I can see all the things I loved in Bob, but also suddenly and with amazing clarity the reasons why we couldn’t be together any more.

Life Munches On

Thursday, August 9th, 2007 | Art, Film, Food, Friends, The Dating Game, Travel | No Comments

Life munches on.

I spent last weekend at Dean & Doug’s Inverness pad. We picked huckleberries, which turned into a delicious ice cream topping, donned our netting and fed the bees. Dean did the best Queen Bee imitation. I brought up an apple pie that I made from apples that they had brought to my house the previous weekend. Apples, apples, apples–everywhere apples! I made about 3 pies with them and still have more! We spent the bulk of the weekend picking fruit and cooking and eating and drinking, like what people used to do before TV. They recently put up a deer fence, so they toss spent apples over the fence for the deer to nibble on. And nibble they do. It’s like putting out used furniture on 20th street in front of my house–gone in 15 minutes. Where are the deer when there are no apples for them to eat? How do they just suddenly appear? They are so adorable, I don’t see how people can shoot them, their swirling pink tongues and quivering little white tails and (real!) doe eyes.

We took a walk after dinner on Saturday night–an incredible vegetarian dinner involving artichokes, barley, cauliflower, corn, and love–a walk “around the block.” It was so dark from the dense canopy of trees that I could only make out a slightly less-dark trapezoid under my feet that was the road. Everything was blurry, like walking in a cartoon. I could hear the crunch of my feet on pavement, but couldn’t see my feet. I’d stick my hands out in front of me and they’d melt into the less-dark-ness of the road. Then I’d turn to the side and see trees disorientingly silhouetted against the night sky in remarkably sharp focus, and then look straight ahead again into the blurry abstraction of the road. It was thrilling. Sleeping was like that, too, pitch black and hallucinatory. I could hear every sound of the many creatures visiting the improvised feed lot outside my window–munching sounds and cracking twigs. Were I not surrounded by my dear hosts and dear deer, I would have thought I was in a horror film.

Caitlin Mitchell-Dayton had a show at Paule Anglim that was pretty dynamite last month–very large caricatured portraits of her contemporaries on scrolls of linen, big bold blobs of color. She’s my kind of painter–expressive and gestural. If Fat Albert had a painter friend in the ‘hood, it would be Caitlin, master portraitist of the new Cosby kids.

Nick Dong finally returned my Inter-Personal Masculinity Evaluator, so line up to be evaluated.

A crisp new version of Lang’s Scarlet Street came out a while back and I finally watched it, having seen it many times over the years as a fuzzy scratchy worn out print. It’s the story of my life, rich with gender ambiguities and frustrated attempts to love the person that you eventually have to kill. Chris Cross, played by Edward G. Robinson, is a meek clerk who, in his spare time and in the bathroom, paints naive portraits of “what he feels.” The film opens with Chris being feted for decades of service to the firm, with no hopes for advancement. He glances out the window to notice the boss’ beautiful mistress waiting in a limo outside. He says to his colleague, “I wonder what it’s like to be loved by a woman like that.” Not “I wonder what it’s like to LOVE a woman like that,” but “I wonder what it’s like to BE loved by a woman like that,” establishing his passivity. He finds out alright, and ends up homeless, unable to claim his identity as the painter of his own masterworks that were improperly (but with his blessing) attributed to the woman he desires most but kills; Kitty, who led him to his downfall, the love that he can never attain, but whose voice calling out to her lover–who gets blamed for her death and is fried in the electric chair–will haunt him for eternity. It’s a sublime masterpiece.

I’m getting into Top Chef. I developed a big crush on Joey, the chunky italian, who was asked to pack up his knives and hit the road last week. He breaks down and cries, it’s so heartbreaking. I’ve watched the last 10 minutes about 5 times already in reruns, and I cry each time, hoping that this time he’ll be spared, that it won’t be the last time I’ll see him. He even says, “This isn’t the last you’ll see of me,” but come on. The other hot chunky guy, Howie, is a thug, and while cute, he’s a thug, really, with no inter-personal relating skills. The other chef-testants cower in fear when they have to break up into groups, fearful that they’ll end up in his group and have to deal with his misanthropic dictatorial take on group dynamics. Still, I’d boink him. And eat his food, of course.

What else? Reese turned 14–Bob made a volcano cake that spewed lava. Many contestants on The Dating Game, but none worth mentioning. I drove D to Reno to visit his mom and discovered that everybody there is overweight and limps. No dates, though. I’m having dinner with Thomas Hardy tonight. I didn’t get ANY of the grants that I applied for. But you haven’t seen the last of me…

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