Monday, December 24, 2012

on staring

my francophile friend used to tell me that everyone in france talks about everyone else.  at cafes and bars, it’s just gossip.  so it’s not that different from america - gossip is universal.  but americans are easily spotted in france.  while everyone sitting on sidewalks and in restaurants talk about those passing by, they never move, they never stare.  they sit absolutely still, listen to their friend’s confession, and wait for the perfect moment for the object of their interest to pass by, to spy he or she of whom they speak.  americans just jump out of their seats, craning their necks to stare at some passerby, to glare at bad taste or ogle some hot piece.

i generally find it not to be a bad omen when i arrive somewhere and all the faces turn to me to stare.  you’ve seen this scene in the movies if you haven’t experienced the sensation firsthand.  needless to say, it’s not comfortable.  it’s distinctly uncomfortable, liable to occur for several reasons, such as when wearing something scandalous or radical (a time at which staring is often not warranted,) or when having something awkward hanging from the body such as snot from the nose or toilet paper from the pants, or when having committed heinous acts such as war crimes or the spreading of gossip.

the other day, i will admit that a bit of staring may have been warranted.  i have found myself a bit lazy this weekend, unable to convince myself to clean up, to take care of myself, to give myself a good once over before i step out of the house.  the other morning, john and i went over to the overlook restaurant for breakfast.  not until i stepped out of the car and caught a glimpse of my reflection in the car window did i realize how distressed and possibly distressing i looked: disheveled in the day before’s clothing, bags under my half-lidded eyes still heavy with caffeine withdraw, my hair sticking up in varied and awkward directions as if i spiked my hair with gel in 1992 and never corrected it.  the looks then that i received from the other patrons in the restaurant were warranted, and if not warmly received, then at least accepted.

john and i ordered coffee.  “and a light beer.  miller light?”  i said two please.   the server looked us over, considered the hour, but complied without too much judgment in the end.

the other evening i stepped into monsoon, that thai restaurant on n. mississippi avenue, to pick up take-out john and i had ordered for dinner.  i saw a friend in a booth toward the back of the restaurant.  he sat with another man i did not recognize, so thinking they might be engaged on a date and not wanting to be disturbed, i waved to my friend and stepped to the counter to pay for my food.  i did not stop to chat.  waiting for the restaurant to finish preparing my food, i looked back around the restaurant.  my friend and his dining partner stared at me.  i turned back around, shifted, fidgeted under the weight of their eyes on the back of my neck.  another peek behind me and they still stare, talking hushedly.  they get up and leave, but their gaze targets me as they walk past the windows away from the restaurant.

certainly they must have noted my facial expression, a complex mix of incredulity and anger.  what on earth were they staring at?

they may sometimes call me little bear, but i am not the dancing bear in the circus.  i generally do not command a crowd’s attention.  and though i had not been in contact with this friend for a long while, i had no idea there existed any bad blood between us.

times like this i think i must be clueless, that i must not have any idea what people think of me at all, that i have covertly affected some gossip to which i am ignorant.  or that my initial ‘c’ stands not only as a metonym for me, but as a scarlet letter for crazy as well.  keep a wide breadth around him.  his crazy catches.

“guilty! guilty! guilty! guilty! call me!”  my friend owen used to compare our friends to the quintessons, the face-faced judge from the transformers.  judgmental?  i really do not consider myself so, at least not anymore.  but if i am guilty, then i’d like to know the charge.  like josef k, their stares arrest me for an unknown crime, and i’m tried in their gaze.  what did i do wrong?  this time.  what did i do wrong now?  i’m at a loss.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

sketchbook no. 11

i would like to start photographing my houseplants.  photograph them for a year.  then display them in a gallery after that year with their portraits at different intervals throughout the year, show how they've grown, document their fertilizations, their blooms.  document how i sometimes have a difficult time tending to different plants.  cactus always get me.  i say, oh hey, you look thirsty little guy.  and the cactus never is.  then it dies.

how about an exhibit that consists of two receptions.  at the first reception, visitors to the gallery could make their own crystal geode things.  you know, like those crystal growing kits.  could i put one of those together, build one myself?  so everyone would make their own crystal and we'd wait for the crystals to crystallize.  how long does that take?  i should figure that out.

then at the second reception, we'd have all the crystal caves out and displayed in their glory.  glorious.  and there would be so many colors.  and everything would sparkle.

question: can crystallization be affected by external influence, as in can certain chemical process change the color and/or the crystalline structure of the mineral?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

shorter days

the season has become rainy.  it’s gray.  it’s cold.  it’s december.  today was one of those days on which i could not seem to wake up.  my eyes feel droopy, big black ellipses underneath.  the apartment cold when i woke up, the cat waiting outside by the window to be let in.

i like the mornings i find her in bed with me, curled up on my legs.  when i am away at work, she sleeps in a cubby filled with knitted scarves.

though out of town right now, i like the mornings i wake up with adam.  if cold, i can pull myself in close to him cuddle, warm up before i push out from under the covers and dress for work.  sometimes he won’t look up when i wake; i’ll dress and quietly shuffle around in the dark, and before i leave i’ll walk to the bed and kiss him.  he’ll sit up to kiss me, the covers falling off his shoulders and i think beautiful.

when the autumn turns cold like this i like being alone.  i like the quiet of my house.  and i like cooking for myself and drinking tea and reading before bed.  but i like the loneliness because i also have a desire to be around those i love.  hanging christmas ornaments in the apartment makes me miss my family, my mother and sister and father.  if i were in alabama, i would lay around the house and care for the cat then have chinese for dinner with my family on christmas day.  if the cold keeps in during this time of year, the time i spend with friends becomes more cherished.  i want drinks with friends, unlayered, out of the rain, ruddy cheeked and smiling.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

needing more time

remember years ago when we would create, all the time, when we were just always making things and reading and reading and reading and reading?  remember when i made art about reading?  remember when i painted and read about painting and planned performance art pieces and read about performance?

when i was studying visual art over a decade ago, our professors encouraged us to read constantly about art, to make it our lives.  and we took that to heart.  my sister, my friend tony, and i always toted a copy of artforum or art in america everywhere we went on top of the other books we were reading.  on top of the sketchbooks we carried everywhere with us.

i have dozens of sketchbooks and journals filled with drawings and journal entries and magazine cuttings and stickers and pictures and photographs and scraps of all sorts, bits of design and art and color and inspiration for later.

for a long time i thought that my life would be just like that: i would read and browse and collect and consider then create these art projects, create these performances and paintings and attempt to explain visually certain ideas that percolated up in my brain.

i have just finished reading allison bechdel's most recent comic memoir are you my mother?  bechdel writes about her relationship with her mother, her relationship with her therapist, her relationships in general, and ties it all together with her research into psychotherapy, particularly childhood development, development of the 'i' and attachment theories as developed by donald winnicott.

i found striking her descriptions of this psychotherapeutic investigation, the references to influences like virginia woolf, her considerations of her mother's interest in sylvia plath.  it made me realize that i do not read as much as i used to, that i do not research as much, and that i wish i had the time for more of my own research, my own development of ideas.

bechdel's mom helped pay for her life after college when she lived in new york, trying to make it as an artist and writer.  now allison bechdel is an artist/writer, has time for herself and her own project.  indeed, her research, her projects are her livelihood.

you know i read a lot.  i'm a reader.  but i don't have the time or energy or patience right now for deep research.  i do not have direction.  and though it seems like i should be doing this, like i should be making something, as i have always been involved in projects for so long, i don't know what i would make.

in thinking about what sort of project i would put together now, i wonder what fascinates me, what sorts of ideas interest me now?  and i worry i do not have enough interest in anything particular anymore.  not like i did.

i need to figure this out.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

bridge club

back in august, a friend of mine in new york left me a message on my facebook wall: “Am i missing out on queer greatness by not being in PDX?”

and i’d like to believe we’re building something amazing in portland.

two years ago mikiel and i played together under the name djs ride or die.  in the window of bar bar we djed at the beginning of a february queerlandia.

one of the best things about portland is its long history.  mikiel and i started playing music at our friend john’s party.  john has been throwing parties and djing for a while.  through him i know a history of queer parties and events and communities back through booty and the original eagle and blow pony, through zebra and sissyboy, through gay culture on stark street.  back through decades, back through a time many of us cannot know or remember.

at rooster rock two summers back mikiel and i started to think about throwing our own event, what that would look like, what we would want it to sound like, for whom we would be hosting this event.  hot summer days and it was easy to daydream.  but it was also at rooster rock that we ran into our friend kevin who put us in touch with alan, the owner of produce row, and our summer daydreams started to concretize.

a tea party: a queer afternoon day-drinking social event on the patio of produce row cafe.  six hours, six djs.
january one year ago saw the first bridge club.

the crew that throws bridge club with us has become so invaluable.  bridge club could never have worked out, never become established without all the djs and artists who invest so much into the event: rob (orographic) and brendan (pocket rock-it) and ryan (gossip cat) and john (huf n’ stuf).  shawn brought an incredible look, flawless design.  terrance brought his passion for early americana, for 78s and jazz and american music.  each dj, each artist has brought with him a unique style, unique influences, and flawless art.  together these men created an atmosphere, an environment, a beauty.

and this group of artists make and produce and dj and create art and music with so many others here in portland, at other events, for other communities.  bridge club is a node in the dialogue with other parties and other parts of the queer community, with other aspects of portland life.  it’s not just the amazing guest djs that have graced bridge club with their talent: mercedes and l-train and rafael from the miracles club and bruce la bruiser and dundiggy and eric hansen and nark (our guest today).  i’m talking about the entire community.  i’m talking about all the other parties and party people in portland.  bridge club is in dialogue, creating something larger, putting together a larger community with other events: gaycation and bent (though ended) and hey, queen and twerk and queerlandia.  we’re talking about a larger community; we’re building history on a long trajectory.

i love the people that throw these parties.  and i love the people that attend these parties.  and i love that in portland we come out and dance and we come out and talk and we come out and argue and flirt and kiss and create and invest.  we’re all fully formed, free agents.  we’re not just queer.  we are djs and designers and artists and musicians.  we’re psychologists and journalists and financiers and professors and politicians.  we queer and so much more.  we interact on so many levels.  we come from so many different places, from so many different backgrounds, invested in so many different disciplines.