Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hell Phone

Why is this not simple?

I pay a ridiculous amount for my cell phone. Like, $109 a month. What up with that? When I signed up for it, I was making significant bucks, and i wanted to be able to call from anywhere since I was Mr. Cross Country Traveler, and such.

So now, I want to drop down to a nice comfortable and affordable 450 minutes a month for the low low cost of $40 a month.

So I call up my dear friends at Cingular.

And there my sorrows began.

I was an AT&T Wireless customer until they were acquired by Cingular. So I had a different phone number I had to call. I ran through my request. And they couldn't do it. Y'see, my mailing address is a P.O. Box. They can't send the new phone to a P.O. Box. So I gave my street address. And it seems that the United States Postal Service doesn't "recognize" my street address. So they can't do that.

Like... wha...?

Okay. Plan B, right? I head to my local Cingular Store. To talk to a person. And she was way helpful. Sure fine. Will do. First step was I had to give her my cell phone number. And I did. "917..."

And there we hit a snag.

Because I have a New York City area code, there was nothing she could do for me.

And then, I tried about nine other things. Nine? Nineteen easily.

And then it all became clear: I've got to give up my New York City area code. I've got to say goodbye to 917 and say hello to 215.

I tell myself I need that so all my friends from NYC can call me for a quarter, making it a local call. And that, of course, is absurd. The real reason is that it's all about the prestige. When I give some guy in a bar my number, I want him to know who he's dealing with.

But I can let go of that.

For one thing, the only people who know that 917 is a New York City exchange are people who live in New York City.

Of course, here comes the huge pain in the butt. I'll have to call every bloody person I know and let them have my new phone number.

Hey! Maybe the cell phone companies have thought it through and there will be some kind of call forwarding service, or I'll be able to to have a message at the old number giving my new number!

How unlikely is that? Wanna make a bet?

Oh well. it'll work.

Eat The Flesh Of Our Dear Lord And Savior Jesus Christ And To Drink His Blood

That's what I did with my Wednesday night!

My father is a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. And as such, he gets all the newsletters that go out. I, of course, was baptized and confirmed in that church. But since I've been back here, I haven't set foot in the place. In fact, I haven't been there since my sister's funeral.

Not like I haven't thought about it.

But y'see, on the website of Integrity/Philadelphia, they list "welcoming" parishes in the Diocese. "Welcoming" as in, "We welcome our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ to join us in worship." And St. Paul's Episcopal Church is not, in fact, welcoming. And, in fact, the Diocese of Philadelphia is pretty un-welcoming. I'd have to travel about an hour-and-a-half to be welcomed.

But there's this new priest there. He's touted as being great for the parish because he was a verrrry successful businessman and chemical engineer (chemical engineer?) before he became a priest.

Like... whatever.

Anyway, the new guy has re-arranged the mass schedule. And they're starting up with a service on Wednesday evening. At 6:30. Perfect for my schedule.

So after a leisurely iced-quad-venti-one-pump-vanila-light-ice-latté and a cigar on the porch at Starbucks, I headed over.

It was in the chapel. There were seven us, the good Father included.

it was just so good to hear and say those words that I've been hearing and saying my entire life. There was no Book of Common Prayer available, but I didn't need one. Well, a couple of times I could have used one.

I think I'll be making a habit of this. It's like heroin for me. Once I pick up, I can't stay away. Always been like that with me.

But at some point, after the pleased-to-meet-ya's, I'll ask Father Chemical Engineer (chemical engineer), just why is it that St. Paul's isn't a welcoming parish?

Stay tuned for the answer.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


I believe it was several weeks ago that I wrote about Hungry Ghosts here. In Buddhist thought, Hungry Ghost describes a phenomenon we all know very well: I want that. That thing. That place. That car. That person. That shirt. That bullwhip. That body.

Here's what The Master has to say about that: if you give into the hungry ghost, no matter how small, innocent, and playful the ghost may appear to be, then other hungry ghosts will come. And they'll want to be fed too. Soon, you will be swarmed by them. I want! I want! I want! The more you give in a feed the hungry ghosts, the more will come. Finally, you yourself will be consumed.

Dang! Isn't that beautiful?

(I was introduced to this concept in a posting responding to mine on a website for gay men who eroticize bareback sex. Go figure. There's a lot of love out there.)

So anyway, over the past several weeks, I've been noticing hungry ghosts. And there have been plenty of them. Horseback riding lessons. Rock climbing lessons at my local rock gym. Jump boots. Clothes, always. An amazing bullwhip. A trip for the first anniversary of my 40th birthday.

In the past, I'd set to thinking. How much do I have available on my credit cards? What if I work a lot of overtime? How could I get it? How can I feed thhe hungry ghost. But more often than not, I just notice the ghost. Hear what he has to say. Let my mind wander over the possibilities of feeding him.

And then I just forget about it.

I've pared down my needs and wants considerably.

And since I got back from Inferno... well, it seems that all I need is oxygen. I've felt so complete. So content. So healed.

And into my life came this gift.

A big check.

It's from some grantwriting work I did way back when. I did the work, submitted my bill, and waited. And waited. And waited and waited. And waited and waited and waited.

I didn't call to ask--little less demand--payment. I've been on the other end. Consultants who dun for payment are consultants I don't use again. Not because it's bad behavior, just because it's sooooo embarrassing.

Truthfully, I forgot all about it.

And then I got an envelope in the mail, and inside the envelope was a check. A big one, like I said.

Yee ha! Right? I mean, let's treat yourself to a nice dinner! Let's stock up on Kiehl's products! Let's check on airfares to Palm Springs!


I took it and I paid off all of my debts. Everything. All the credit cards. My car insurance. Everything.

At this point, I don't owe anyone anywhere anything. Not one thin dime. No one has any hooks into me.

I think this is the first time in my life since I was eightteen years old that's been the case.

And mostly, this was sort of cleaning up after the ten year long party that I've been throwing for hungry ghosts.

But no more. The party's over.

And they seem to have stopped coming around. When one does show up, he hems and haws. Finally comes out with it. "Wouldn't it be great if you had..."

I smile. I close my eyes.

There's nothing I want.

The sensation of the air moving in and out of my body as I breathe, that's plenty. I'm full with that.

I have my dog. I have my whips. I have my swell little Jeep Liberty. I have my kayak. I have my dad. I have my leathers.

Everything else is dross.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Opening Line Of A Novel I'll Probably Never Get Around To Writing

"He walked into the bar with an expression on his face that seemed to ask, "Excuse me, could you tell me where I could find the auditions for the hardcore porn movie?"

(That's the impression I always try to make anyway.)

Sunday, September 18, 2005


I went to a small, Catholic, liberal arts college run by a polish order of Bernardine Franciscan sisters. It was an absolutely great experience. Among the many people I called friends there was a woman named Jackie.

Jackie had a pretty interesting story. When she was right out of high school, she had joined a convent. The sisters at her convent took a vow of silence. As in, they didn't speak at all. About seven years into it, she decided this wasn't her calling. But here was the thing. How to convey this news? Once a week, on Sunday evenings, the sisters would gather for what they called Corona. They would all sit in a circle. The Mother Superior would chose someone at random, and the sister would be given an opportunity to speak. For as long as she liked. When she was finished, the sister to her left had an opportunity to speak. After a half an hour or so, Corona was over. Under this system, it took Jackie four years (!) to make her announcement. Then, to get together some money for her life after the convent, Jackie worked for three years nursing the older sisters in the convent.

And then she showed up at our wee college.

Lacking something in social skills.

Go figure, right?

I liked Jackie a lot. She had this otherworldly quality. Such a sweet nature. Thought deeply about everything.

She could probably stand a makeover. Wearing a habit for most of her life didn't leave her quite prepared for... well, anything.

Anyway, sitting around after dinner one night, a bunch of us, somebody asked Jackie about being a nun. How she could give up so much. Especially, one of the girls jumped in, guys. Having boyfriends, husbands.

"Ah," Jackie answered, "That's why I became a nun. I realized that no earthly man could satisfy me. Jesus was my lover."

No earthly man could satisfy me.

Wacky, huh?

Well lemme tell ya.

Last night, there I was at the Bike Stop. Bored bored bored. It wasn't a bad night really. Got started kind of late. A few hot guys. A few twink tourists. The usual. Bored bored bored.

What was up?

Simple. I've just been to Inferno. I've just been in the company of amazing men. Like spending time in some Valhalla. I've just allowed my beating heart to be ripped from me. I've just held in my hands the hearts of men I met there.

So that hot boy in the corner, the one with the shaved head and the beard. Kinda giving me the eye. Nice body on him. Haven't seen him before, probably from out of town.

So what? I'd chat him up, we'd make out, go back to his hotel room, and have sex or something.

And that would do what for me exactly? The point of that would be what?


No earthly man can satisfy me.

Making My Father’s Bed

Dad needed his laundry done. That means that today, I gathered it all up, loaded it into the washer, and later I’ll dry it, fold it, and put it away.

If you’ve ever cared for anyone who’s old, or very sick, you’ll know what’s involved here. It’s all filthy. Completely filthy. From when he doesn’t make it to the bathroom in time, from years and years and years of his sweat. The whites will never be white. Literally decades of dirt is what I’m up against here. He wears tshirts that are almost as old as I am. At least, I’ve been seeing him wear them for my whole life. When I find something--a pair of boxers that are little more than threads dangling from a waistband no longer elastic, a gauzy tshirt you could watch television through--I throw them away.

He hates that. A year and a half ago, when I bought him some new shirts, socks, underwear, tshirts for Christmas, I got yelled at. “I don’t need any of this stuff! There’s nothing wrong with what I have!”

I have no idea where this comes from. Maybe a clinging to what was familiar, a fear and hatred of seeing things get discarded because they’re old and worn out. Maybe when he takes his ancient tshirt reading “Pennsylvania Agriculture!” out of the drawer, he remembers the State Fair back in the 1970s, where he manned the Department of Agriculture booth, and his second wife, not yet racked by cancer, brought his young son to see the fair and visit him.

Of course, my buying him the new clothes for Christmas came from my selfish desire that he not be who he is. I want him to resemble, if only slightly, the dads one sees in the LL Bean catalog. Silver haired, teaching the grandkids fly-casting wearing a beautiful chambray shirt and snug-fitting cords, well-groomed, engaged.

The filthy, stinking sheets he’s slept in for the past two weeks get stripped from the bed. Deposited in the washer with his dirty towels. As I set to work making the bed, I can’t help thinking about how complicated our relationship has become in such a short period of time. I’m about to start on my third year here in Bucks County. In two years, the number of Things We Don’t Talk About has grown. So many little resentments have built up. On my side, and I’m sure on his side, too.

When I went to Inferno, leaving him alone for five days, he was incensed. “Why do you have to go away?” And he’s not just talking about five-day trips. He means ever. As in, going into Doylestown to check out the arts festival that they’re having.

A few weeks ago, I pointedly said to him, “Dad, I’m forty years old. If I were to spend weekend after weekend sitting here at home, that would mean that I was clinically depressed, and I hope that you’d take action to find me a good psychotherapist.”

He answered by saying that he would want that. Because he gets lonely when I’m not here.

And it’s not like we’re even in the same room, little less talking, when I am home. He sits in the spare bedroom, his “den,” smoking cigars and watching television. From ten in the morning until eleven thirty at night. Coming out once to eat something for lunch, and once when I call him for dinnner.

But on those rare occasions when he needs something back there, a lightbulb changed, new batteries for the remote control, whatever, and he calls out for me, the first time it’s with a hint of frustration in his voice (“damn lightbulb burned out again”), but the second time, seconds later, it’s panicky. Frightened. Where is he? Why doesn’t he answer?

And this will go on for years. Like George Bush, I went in without an exit strategy.

When I got together with my brother, visiting from Florida, I told him about the bad summer I’ve had, how hard it was when my father was positively delighted to learn that I didn’t have the money to drive down to Florida to visit my brother, stopping along the way to see friends and my Aunt Ellen in South Carolina. Nothing so much as a “well that’s too bad.” How when there’s a conflict between my father’s increasing dependency and my desire to have something resembling an adult life, he doesn’t even seem to be conscious that his gains are anything like a loss for me. Second childhood: he gets his way and that makes him happy. Case closed.

My brother said, “Look, he’s got nursing home insurance. You don’t need to be there if you don’t want to. You can get out.”

No I can’t. I can’t do that to him. I just can’t.

So that’s how complicated our relationship has become. So frought.

And yet, and yet, having watched my paycheck disappear within twenty-four hours after I put it in the bank, and leaving the bulk of my bills unpaid, and scrutinizing the Mega Jobs Section of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Doylestown Intelligencer in vain (there’s totally nothing!), here I am making his bed. And taking such care with it. Smoothing out all the wrinkles in the fitted sheet and the top sheet, adding an extra blanket because the nights are getting cooler, arranging the two pillows my step-mother used in their place next to him, tucking everything in securely just like he likes it...

I’m soothed by this. By doing a good job for him. By making everything nice. Almost in inverse proportion to my frustration. Yesterday, I surprised him with one of his favorites, grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches for lunch, and last night for supper, I made a fish chowder he really enjoyed.

“It’s so good what you’re doing for your father.” How I hate to hear that. “You’re a good son.”

Just once, I’d love to relate my situation and have someone reply, “What kind of a parent would ask that kind of sacrifice from a child? A father should want his son to have a rich, full, and successful life. That’s wrong!”

And, of course, it certainly causes me to remember that there will be no one to care for me. Most of my close friends are older, my brother--my only living relative really--is fifteen years my senior. I’ll bury the lot of them. And I’ll roll around for weeks and weeks on end in my own filthy, soiled, stinking sheets, waiting, perhaps, for the home health aide to change them for me.

There. The bed is made. Beautiful, clean, fresh. You can bounce a quarter on it. Over the din of the Eagles game my father is watching in the next room, I hear the buzzer letting me know that the dryer is done. Time to fold his laundry.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


I'm still all bliss-y and float-y from Inferno last weekend.


I'm putting together a cd of some music for Roadkill. I have no idea how his tastes run. It's pretty much all of the tracks that Shuffle played on my long drive home that grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Maybe it can serve as the soundtrack to the next SuperPigs party.

Quiet night last night. Today I spent some time splitting firewood, the first time this season. And good to be back at it. This afternoon, I met up with a cranky dutchman (as in, Pennsylvania Dutch) that I've been chatting with since forever on AOL. And woof! What a hot man! Definitely one of my better internet meet ups.

Tonight for dinner, I'm making my famous Indian Summer Fish Stew. (Not calling it "chowder," as last years furious debate over just what qualifies as chowder remains unresolved. Lots of email with some strong opinions expressed were received, but no too people, despite whatever qualifications (8th generation new-englander, culinary school, etc.) seemed to agree.)

Tonight, I'm heading down to Philadelphia for a night at the Bike Stop.

Had a nice revelation today. Sort of summing up my Inferno XXXIV experience: I am home there. Hard to explain. My first experience was akin to walking across a junior high school cafeteria, not seeing any of your friends, and wondering where you're going to sit. Second year was much better, as I had met several new people, but had the inkling that I had something to prove to folks. Skipped last year, and then there was this time. From the moment the run started, I felt myself to be entirely among friends. Nothing to worry about. Just sit back, relax, and let it roll over me. To be sure, this all has way more to doo with me than it does anybody else at Inferno. But it's a wonderful feeling, to know for certain that I have a place there.


Anyway, time to make chowder.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Okay. Here it is. And it’s long.

So settle back, light up a nice cigar, and enjoy. Here’s the account of my time at Session A of Inferno XXXIV.

An inauspicious beginning to this journey.

If you had bet me that I could drive all the way through in one straight shot, stopping only for Starbucks on the Ohio Turnpike and a hamburger for lunch, I would have turned you down flat. But, leaving at 7 am, the ride out went incredibly smooth. Perhaps that was due, in part, to reduced traffic on the roads because of the extortionary price of gas. (I refused to stop for gas in Ohio. Screw’em. Their electoral votes secured his presidency, so it’s their fault that his oil industry cronies are reaping these windfall profits without sanction.) But, at 8 pm the same day, there I was, sitting in the parking lot of the Top Secret Location.

This presented something of a problem. I was there a day early. Set up would be going on, and I would be something of a distraction to all that hard work. After dinner at the restaurant across the street from the Top Secret Location, I steeled my nerves and entered. As expected, my welcome was not quite “Hail Fellow And Well Met,” but more along the lines of the proverbial fart in church. It was a problem. I said that I would be happy to drive to the nearest truck stop and sleep there in my car, but if I could sleep in my bed--and the guy I was sharing my bed with was already on-site--then I would gladly work like hell on set-up the next day. After endless consultation, that seemed to be okay. And I bedded down with Alpha for the night.

I found Alpha, busy in his cabin getting his former boy bobby all set with the bottle of Fantastick, as it would be bobby’s job for the duration of the run to ensure that their bathroom was always at all times Clean and Fresh. Alpha and I lost no time at all getting into our rollicking Inferno buddies mode, imagining writing a letter to the fantasy committee, charged with fulfilling the fantasies submitted to them by men attending Inferno, along the lines of, “Dear Fantasy Committee, My fantasy is to take the AIDS-y spooge from a popped zit and stick it up the butt of a really cute kitten.” Love that Alpha!

The next day, I worked like hell under the watchful eye of Diabolique, spritzing and wiping down everything that didn’t walk away from me in the Bondage Tent. Another irksome turn of events went down when, after it was decided that the Bondage Tent, and everything else involved with set-up was indeed “Done,” I tried to drive through the front gate to unload my jeep. In the time it took for me to walk to my car and drive up to the gate, all of the coordinators had assembled, as if by magic, and were blocking my path. With much tugging of the forelock, I asked if I could please just drive the thirty yards from the gate to my room, unload my jeep, and then go park in the parking lot. And received a flat out “No.”

This meant that those two hundred pounds of chain had to be lugged those ninety feet by Yours Truly. Muttering something about “brotherhood” all the while.

A dip in the pool and some sunbathing did a lot to restore my spirits. And, catching up with the guys there that I knew, and watching people arrive. Inferno was getting under way.

Oh man. It felt really really really Important that I was there.

I met my roommates, and together we learned that we were to be five, and not four. A cot had been set up in our room, and Session A was booked beyond solid. So amidst us and our gear, we’d have to make room for some... some... stranger. I hopefully offered that maybe he would be someone unlikeable so we could all have a good time playing wicked step-sisters to his Cinderella.

Dinner was filled with more verge-of-tears greetings (“I’m really here!”), and the electricity of anticipation of the run. Following dinner, we all gathered for Opening Ceremonies. Orchestrated by none other than Roman Cool, it absolutely brought the house down. (Why yes, that was me shouting “Bravi! Bravi!”. “Bravo” is what you shout to a single male performer, but the plural “Bravi” is to congratulate a group of performers. Unless the group consists entirely of women, then it’s “Brave.” Or for one woman, diva that she be, it’s “Brava!” There. Now you can be all smug next time you go to the opera.)

The dungeons were open.

I was in a good space. “No more RoboTop” made for a good mantra. It really was just enough that I was there. I strolled around, taking in the sights and sounds of the first night of serious SM. And got to bed around midnight.

The next morning, I awoke to find myself looking at our fifth roommate, whose wee little cot was planted smack up against mine. There, inches from me, was this big, beautiful heavily tattooed man, snoring loudly. For about an hour, I watched him sleep. He seemed to be having a really good dream. Periodically, he would arch his head back, practically lifting his shoulders off the mattress, get this beatific smile on his face, like St. Teresa in ecstasy, and go, “Mmmmmmuhhhh.” I debated rolling over next to him on his wee little cot, but decided not to, as we hadn’t been formally introduced. (He had come to bed after me.)

But, the next morning, emerging from the shower, I found that Beautiful Dreamer was up and about. We looked at each other, and hastily exchanged lustful Woofs. This was going to be verrrry cool.

The first full day of the run would be a busy one for me. I was doing a scene with Horowitz. Luckily, the day before, we had run into one another and talked about it. The interest I had expressed was finding pig-space. Tragically, Horowitz had mistakenly thought this involved blow jobs. I filled him in: I hate giving blowjobs. If I never give another one in my life, I won’t be upset in the least. I’ve decided that I have too limits: One) I don’t get burned. All those years of working in restaurants has left me with a horror and dislike of getting burned. Burns hurt. Two) Nothing goes in my mouth that’s not food I like. That includes penis. That does not, necessarily, include piss. With the appropriate asparagus caveats in place, I’m cool with that. Horowitz, God love’m, said this was no problem. He could rearrange things, and turn his attention to my hole. He also told me this would involve me making an announcement at lunch. One consisting only of five words, which he would give me then.

At lunch, Horowitz was passed the microphone, and introduced me, inviting anyone who wanted to help out with a scene at 3:30 in the compound. He had me turn my back to the audience to show off my voluptuous butt, and then gave me the five words. Over the PA system, I said to everyone assembled at Inferno, “Please Sirs, fuck me, Sirs.”

Immediately after lunch, I had a date with Kokoe. Fresh from Burning Man, Kokoe was up for another flogging. I like him so much! There’s so much we share in common. He gets me, and I think I get him. So much so that Kokoe told me he is intent on recruiting me for the Radical Faeries. He feels certain that there’s a place for me at the Faeries sanctuary in Tennessee that he calls home. And paying a visit is definitely on my List Of Things To Do.

The flogging was beautiful. Both of us had a blast. I was reminded of something that a man from Texas told me at a flogging workshop I attended during my first Inferno. There I was, flogging away on my workshop bottom, and he stopped me and said I wasn’t doing it hard enough. “No,” he said, “you’ve got to give it all you’ve got. That’s what he wants, and that’s what he deserves.”


Post flogging, Kokoe and I relaxed and caught up a bit. But I excused myself. I had to go clean out. Three-thirty was fast approaching. Cleaning out took a while--just couldn’t get the water to run clear--but I had given myself plenty of time, and I enjoyed doing it anyway. And apparently, since there have been no after effects, the water supply at the Top Secret Location seems to be better quality than that in Jersey City, where I gleefully dosed myself with crypto back when I bought my Sur-Shot. And I did my level best to get into the headspace for the scene, even though sex is always so frought for me, and that is the quintessential opposite of the pig-space I hoped to attain. “I’m trusting... I’m trusting...”

Horowitz, fresh from conducting a workshop on electrical play, was unable to stop in his room and get a blindfold for me. But, I did a great job of keeping my eyes closed. (I swear!) The deal was, I would be The Hole. Taking all cummers. Horowitz would create safe space for me to find pig space. That was what the scene was all about. After my booted ankles were restrained and up in the air, my hole, tight as ever, started getting worked.

“I’m trusting... I’m trusting...”

Okay. So pretty quickly, I realized that it wasn’t a penis making me squirm. It was a dildo. Now, I’m not a big fan of phalluses made of vulcanized rubber. They... hurt. But I did my level best... to imagine the men of Inferno, lining up to take their turn at me. That was what this was all about. And, it worked.

When Horowitz decided that I had enough, he slowly brought me back. To my delight, I saw he had a well-chosen accomplice: a really wonderful guy from St. Louis I had met throwing whips at my first Inferno. H. explained that as he was also an accomplished fister, he had helped to open me up.

We sat there in the post-scene glow together.

I avoided looking at the dildo. It felt huge, but I knew the deal. Whenever anyone has wanted to use toys on me, he usually starts with the medium size one. Then, after my whining and complaining, we go down a size. More whining and complaining from me. Down a size. Eventually, if it happens at all, it’s with the teeny tiny one. Like, big as your pinkie finger. But as I was dressing and H. was fetching stuff to clean up, there it was. And it was a big one! And by the... ummm... lube line, it had gone went pretty deep into me. Wow.

So I had definitely gone to a place I’ve never been before. Ahhh... that Inferno magic.

And then I cleaned toilets. You wanna go to Inferno, then you gotta work. In previous years I had done set-up, thus freeing me up for the run. But this time, I went into the labor pool, and I came up with “Facilities.” That’s the nice way of saying either taking out the trash or cleaning the bathrooms. But I’m actually fine about cleaning the johns. It was always my job growing up, and no matter what the state of my apartment, my bathrooms have always been clean. It’s just a toilet, a bowl of water. What’s the big deal? So every day at 5 pm, I would meet up with my bathroom cleaning partner to take care of business.

And, I had made a remarkable discovery. Icarus was at Inferno! Icarus and I stumbled across each other on the World Wide Internet, and immediately hit it off. On worldleathermen of all places, where what passes for communication amounts to ‘You’re hot! Let’s fuck! Oh wait, you’re really far away...,” he and I go on and on in extraordinarily lengthy messages. When he was visiting family in Philadelphia, we met up for dinner, and discovered we liked each other in person, too. When he approached me in the beverage tent, I didn’t even recognize him, secure as I was in my belief that such good things just don’t happen to me. But there he was! We set up a date for that night, and I was looking forward to beating him until there was nothing left but a greasy spot.

Alas. Some bug Icarus had picked up had him taking to his bed. So it seemed I had a night free. Wandering through the compound, I came across Beautiful Dreamer, the fifth occupant of our room. We followed up on the exchanged woofs of that morning.

Beautiful Dreamer is All That. So All That. We’re talking verrrry hot. Covered in ink. Way sweet disposition. Warm. Open. Happy. With that ‘everybody’s buddy’ quality that I love about Special Guy. And that up-for-anything-in-bed quality that always turns my crank. We talked. And I loved talking to him. “You,” I said, “are a very special boy.”

So we went back to our room. Our roommates were still out and about. And, y’know, we turned in early. Fitting very snugly together on his wee little cot.

Very sweet.

Okay. Now we’re up to the final day of Inferno. Tomorrow would be it. With the great scenes I had already had, with Kokoe, with Horowitz, and the wonderful night in the arms of Beautiful Dreamer... I was more than content.

And I had a full day planned. First off, a scene with a new guy from Arizona. That afternoon, I would be doing a scene with bobby. I had met bobby at MAL, when he was Alpha’s boy. Alpha had brought him to this, his first Inferno, and was being a good host. bobby is a hottie, so I didn’t have to be asked twice.

But there was a problem. bobby was looking to take the plunge into Mondo Singletails. Like... Yum! When we talked scheduling, it turned out that 3:30 was the time that worked best for both of us. Later, bobby had a date with none other than Roman Cool.

Uh huh.

Lest I need to remind you, Roman Cool is pretty much an international whipsman extraordinaire. He and bobby hadn’t specifically discussed just what they would be doing, but bobby had told R.C. that he was interested in getting whipped. And I was extended that same opportunity.

Now let me spell this out. There was the distinct possibility that bobby would arrive at his scene with Roman Cool all bubbly from getting whipped by little ol’ me.

Should I cock block Roman Cool?

(Let’s turn to the SingleTails Dictionary (Abridged Version) for that one. The STD(AV) defines “Cockblock” as follows: (verb, gerund), Success at sexual conquest at the expense of a rival who arrived on the scene first and therefore had a much better chance, in part by taking advantage of the heightened arousal of the conquest that has been elevated by the flirtations of the rival.)

So cockblocking Roman Cool would definitely not be cool. For example, I would never ever be able to bottom to him again, right?

So what to do with bobby?

I mulled this all over, but wrapped my head around a milestone: I would be doing my first whipping scene at Inferno! The honor has thus far eluded me. No surprise there. Roman Cool, Albert von Munich, Roadkill, Noted Author, Peter from SF, ARt... the list goes on and on. All of these world-class whipping Tops. They’ve got lines six deep. Who would want to be whipped by li’l ol’ me? It’s like I get to sit in on batting practice with the Yankees.

But very early on the first night of the weekend, I met dungeonbait. He approached. We chatted. I asked him what he was up for. And, he gave a thorough list, in order of interest, citing his experience level in each area.

Wow! Props there! bottoms like that make it so easy to be a Top. He liked flogging, and had had the merest taste of getting whipped, and wanted to really do a whipping scene.

So immediately, he and I had a connection. If the connection isn’t there, you might as well play Yahtzee. If it is there, and it’s strong, than there’s nowhere you can’t go.

We met up, and headed down to the whipping tent. Dang I love the whipping tent. Large and spacious, erected over a lawn so it smells faintly of grass, the various frames and crosses, like a sculpture garden. Despite the cracks of whips and the slap of floggers--and the lamentations and exultations--there’s a certain siilence to the place. Like a temple.

I laid out my floggers, and the special whip. The only one I use in a scene anymore. It feels as though they’ve been a part of my life forever. I know their personalities so well. Closing my eyes, I can see how each arcs, almost feel the weight of each, hear the sound they make.

The scene went so well. Just wonderful when you feel so on top of your game. Feeling that energy, not flowing from you, but flowing through you.

And dungeonbait was exquisite. A strong, powerful man, so responsive, and just giving himself over to me, with what seemed to be perfect trust. Just so beautiful. Sublime.


Nothing beats whipping. The most intimate experience two men can share, bar none.

So what to do with bobby? Thinking that through, I came across the motorcycle. Someone at some point had donated a bike to Hellfire. Every run, it sits there, secured with cables so it won’t tip over, with a sign propped up against the back wheel reading, “Okay To Play On. Really!”

And an idea took shape. I asked bobby if he’d be up for some chain bondage. After all, I had lugged them seven hundred and fifty miles. All two hundred pounds of them. bobby was concerned. He had been playing pretty rough. I told him that all that would be involved would be a nice gentle ride. Nothing to do but lie back and enjoy.

He sat on the motorcycle, and I set to work. Chains and padlocks. Nice guy that I am, I set them in the sun to warm them up before I put them on him. As is always (Always!) the case with chain bondage, bobby looked magnificent. There on the bike, his ankles over the handlebars, his hands above his head on the rack over the back wheel. And he was loving it.

It was a fun scene. Light-hearted. I made with the witty repartee.

Then came my favorite part. I removed all the padlocks and then told bobby, “Okie doke. Be on your way.”

bobby struggled. And struggled. And struggled.

“Oh sure. Fine. No, really. You just sit there. I’ll do all the work. No really. It’s fine.”

bobby struggled and struggled.

He managed to sit upright in the seat, and grabbed the handlebars.

“Vrrrrrooom! Vrrrrooooom!!” I offered encouragingly.

Finally free (bobby definitely didn’t set any records), we hugged. And giggled. bobby said that it was the highlight of his Inferno. (Awww... but he probably tells that to all his Tops.)

So there was this guy watching the scene. There were several who had stopped by, but he was sort of down for the whole thing.

As I was putting the chains away, he approached. He was with the fantasy committee. Y’see, an Inferno attendee has the opportunity to submit (!) a fantasy in writing, and the fantasy committee is charged with realizing that fantasy. (Wait. Did I cover that with the kitten and the zit spooge thing above? Sorry if so.)

He said he had this fantasy that had him stumped. A guy wanted to be chained up in a chair. The were planning on abducting him at dinner, but weren’t sure how to go about the chaining.

Tonight. Gosh. I had a big scene planned for that night. I wasn’t sure I could help out...

But then I read the guy’s letter to the fantasy committee. And... and... he... he gets it. He gets chain bondage. It was all there. He even specified that the restraints used be the kind that were secured with padlocks. (Of course I have restraints that are secured with padlocks!) Also enclosed was his picture. I had noticed the guy. He seemed shy and quiet. But intelligent. And kind. His fantasy description was so painstaking. This was really important to him.

And I am the only man at Inferno who can make it happen. Actually, as far as I know, I’m the only person in North America. There’s one other chain bondage Top that I know of, but he’s in Australia. And I’ve heard he’s an asshole.

I said I’d try to move my evening scene to a later date.

Time for cocktails! Leather cocktails by the pool. Traditionally, cocktails on the last night are when you Dress To Impress. And I had an idea. I left my Menkes at home. (Sorry, David.) I wanted to show off my ink. So, my chain tattoo goes from my right ankle to my left wrist. I wore my Wesco boots and jockstrap, and I wrapped a length of chain from my left ankle to my right wrist. It was a total hit. However, every time I moved, it yanked more of the hairs out of my asscrack. How do those men I chain up deal with that??? When folks started lining up for dinner, I quick ran back to my room to switch off the chain for a leather vest.

Inferno Tip: Smother your prime rib that you get at the banquet in the horseradish sauce.

After the banquet, during announcements, I got the word. The abduction was soon to transpire. I scampered off to the Bondage Tent to get ready for the abductee. They brought him in, pillow case over his head, and plopped him down in a barber chair.

I put on the wrist restraints. And secured them with padlocks.


Then the chain started going on. I rapped to him while I worked. Telling him how much I liked the all-but-eternal quality of steel, that he was in there until I decided otherwise, and that ultimately, he’d turn to dust before the chains would. I managed to get one of the lengths of chain, secured with a padlock, around his beautiful dick and balls. And he was just beautiful. So gorgeous. All wrapped up like that. I removed the pillowcase so he could enjoy the spectacle, too. And enjoy it he did. He sat there stunned and awed, looking down at his immobilzed body.

“Look at this, boy,” I said, “I’ve even got your dick chained up.” I reached down and grabbed it, stroking it.

And damned if he didn’t shoot a huge, huge load. It was like popping a baloon.

All good things must come to an end. And the chains had to come off. I did the take-off-the-padlocks thing. He was astonished at how heavy the chains were. I asked him if he’d be down with wearing one of the chains, the first one I ever bought actually, padlocked around his neck overnight. He consented, beaming. Cool.

Okay. Time to switch gears. One more scene to make my Inferno complete. I was getting whipped. By the man they call Roadkill.

Roadkill is the kind of guy you’d want to be caught up in a Central American revolution with. Note the phrasing there. I didn’t say, “If you had to be caught up in a Central American revolution. Nope. More than that. Even if it meant that the two of you would be ultimately shot as enemies of the people, when you were sitting in your hotel room and heard gunfire and turned on the television to see that the airport had been taken over by the rebels and there was no way for you to leave, you would find yourself thinking “Great!”.

Roadkill and I had talked. Very casual. Like we were talking about a dinner party. I like my wrists down, not up above my shoulders.

I had nothing to prove to anyone, least of all myself. I just felt that I was due. I’ve whipped a lot of men (and whippingboy!) since I took it from ARt. Yeah. I was due.

And I swear, that was it! That’s what it was all about for me.

I decided that it would be worth my while to spend some of my dwindling resources on a run tshirt. They’re really cool this year, art by Axel of Seattle. And they’re white. And as I explained to Roadkill, if... I... uh... bled, then it would be cool to... uh... put the tshirt on, and... uh... kind of have a... uh... memento. “Not,” I made clear, “that blood was a goal.”

Roadkill reserved space for me on the cross in the noisy dungeon. Even though I would prefer the whipping tent, the sweet smell of the grass and cool september night and all, but I am not good in the whipping tent. I am a verrrry noisy bottom.

Y’see, I love to sing. But I apparently have a not so great singing voice. But when I’m up there on the cross, you better believe I’m gonna sing out. So, much better I rattle the rafters of the noisy dungeon than wake up everyone within a fifty mile radius of the Top Secret Location.

I had told Roadkill that I hated to be flogged, and so he decided that he’d warm up with the whip.







We started with tying me down. My ankles. Around my waist. I was wearing those wrapping wrist restraints from Mr. S. But Roadkill opted not to attach them to anything.


Here we go.

First came those little kisses. No cracks. Just the touch of the whip.


Something was... ...different.

When I was whipped before, I remember it as being sort of fun. I don’t remember it being painful really. And I don’t know that ARt went easy on me.

But this hurt.

During the tattoo journey, there were some nights where even though the ink was going right on my shin or ribcage or something, it was no problem. I would just be yucking it up with Joe. But on a few nights, I was just not processing the pain. It hurt. A lot. And I wanted it to be over.

And tonight, I just didn’t seem to processing the pain.

Last time, i was laughing at times. Crying, laughing, it was all the same.

I had to work at it. Deep breaths. Working up the adrenaline. The restraints on my unrestrained hands cushioned my hands like boxing gloves. And I guess that was the association. When one of Roadkill’s throws hit home (damn that boney back of mine!) I would pound my fists against the cross. Like a prizefighter getting his blood up.

We built and built.

Oh man.

I was mostly incoherent. But a few times, I remember saying, “I am really scared.”


Boy, was I ever scared.

There was the usual fear-of-disappointing-the-Top fear. Being way too much of a lightweight. That fear. But there was something else there I was afraid of. Something deeper.

Heavier and heavier.

Cracking now. Cracking and connecting.

I was howling. Explosions of pain on my back as Roadkill’s whip rained down on me.

Howling. I was howling. Pounding my fists against the cross. Howling.

(My sincere apologies to anyone else who was trying to do a scene in the noisy dungeon that night. I mean really. What a pain in the ass that would have been.



And scared.

Roadkill moved in for the kill.

And there was Alpha. Standing behind the cross, his sweet, beautiful face. His eyes looking into mine.

Okay. So at this point, I was in a place behind howling. i was screaming. Screaming and crying. And really really scared.

“Just two more,” said Alpha.

“Oh god John, I’m scared, I’m so scared.”

Crack. I screamed.

Crack. That was it.

“It’s okay now. It’s okay,” said Alpha, “It’s over.

John, I said, it’s worse. I’m still afraid, but now I don’t know what I’m afraid of.

And with that, the bottom dropped out. And down I went. Down down down. Just weeping and wailing.

I wondered, would this stop? Would this be it from now on? Had I lost it?

This was despair.

This was hell.

Alpha and Roadkill held me. Held me tight. While I went right to hell. I spent what felt like a long time there. Thus giving me grave concerns. What was the way out?

But then it happened.

I remembered the scene earlier in the evening after dinner. That sweet man. His fantasy. The chains. The expression on his face.

I always try to do my best. And sometimes, I end up doing something good.

That was it. The thing to hold onto. The way back. The road out of hell.

I was breathing again. Roadkill and Alpha were there. These two amazing men.

I was okay.

My head swimming, I leaned against the cross as Roadkill cleared away his gear. Time for us to vacate the cross.

Alpha smiled at me, sang, “Hey there, you with the stars in your eyes...”

He didn’t know the words. (Who does?) He hummed the tune.

Roadkill took me in his arms, and we danced. There in front of the cross. He lead. I followed.

Hey there, you with the stars in your eyes.

I asked, no one in particular, “Was that still SM?”

And was it? I mean, is that what this was all about? If so, what is this SM stuff all about? Damned if I know.

We lay down, the three of us, on the mattress underneath the bondage frame in the noisy dungeon. Other folks took over the cross. Other scenes went down. We listened to the noises.

bobby showed up. Joined us. Alpha headed off into the night. Roadkill, bobby and I made our way back to the compound.

I was all kinds of wired. My back felt amazing. So warm.

I put my shirt on. Not because I felt it was anything like bloody. Tonight, I was a wuss. But as usual, I was cold.

We three stood together, arm in arm in arm. Watching all that SM. Or whatever it was.

“I wish,” I said, “that I could take my dog for a walk. On a summer night like this, under the stars, it’s such a perfect way to end the day.”

Roadkill was inspired. He took his whip, and looped it around bobby’s neck. “He’s not your dog, but he needs a walk. Just bring him back to me. I’ll be down there.

So pup bobby and I took a walk.

My last night at Inferno. That night felt like the most important night of my life.

And I sure didn’t see it coming.

I delivered pup bobby to Roadkill, who smiled at me and said, “He thinks I’m going to go easy on him.” As I headed back to my room, I heard Roadkill’s belt working bobby’s butt.


I joined Beautiful Dreamer on his wee little cot. Tonight, I really needed a man to hold on to. All the better a hot man like Beautiful Dreamer.

The next morning. Time to pack and leave. But first a shower. When the bathroom was roommate free, I headed in. Peeling off my shirt, I wondered how my back was looking. Wondering if there would be anything to bear witness to the amaziing night I had had.

And whaddyaknow. There were marks on my back. I asked a roommate if I could borrow a mirror. And tthere it was, in all it’s gory glory. A whole archipelago of cuts from Roadkill’s whip. I had bled. I wasn’t perhaps the wuss I thought I was. Roadkill, perhaps, hadn’t held back. He had let me have it.


I loaded up the car. I went to brunch. I retrieved my chain that had spent the night around Fantasy Man. I bid fond farewells. I got in my Jeep Liberty, and headed out the driveway. And there was Roadkill, walking with his slave, pluG. I slowed, I stopped, I opened the door. Confirmed that I was leaving. I told Roadkill that I tried to do journaling, but it seemed that language was distancing, and I didn’t want that distance. I didn’t want to leave the experience behind. “Words are coins with the faces worn off,” agreed Roadkill, quoting Nietzsche.

And so I left him with these: It was wonderful. Thank you.

The long drive home. Not starting out first thing in the morning, I lost my light about two thirds of the way. That made for slower going. And fatigue. I stopped at a rest stop off Route 80 in the wilds of Western Pennsylvania. Yeah. I was kind of hoping for some friendly trucker to invite me to spend the night in his comfy cab. Okay. So I periodically flashed my headlights and spent time leaning on the hood of my jeep smoking and rubbing my crotch.

And got a few hours of uncomfortable sleep.

And now I’m home. At work, my partner, the Bush-votin’, Bible-thumpin’ one, is full of questions. What did you do? Did you play games? What did you do? How many guys were there? What did you do? And by the way, what did you do?

“First rule of fight club: Nobody talks about Fight Club.”

But I have been somewhat more open at my gym. Just flaunting my back. For all the dads and high school football players that populate the place.

And I’m still pretty much in awe.

Of those amazing men. Many of whom I love. Some of whom have held my heart. Some of whom have entrusted me with theirs. And just the fact that Inferno exists at all.

And that I was there.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

...hang in there. I arrived back from Inferno safe and sound. It was amazing. I'm doing my best to reduce my experiences to mere language for posting here. Probably within the next day or so. Definitely before the lashes on my back fade.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Locked, Loaded, Etc.

I'm packed!

Just about. Still have to deal with clothes to wear and such, but the whips, floggers, 200 pounds of chain, steel dowels, boxing gloves, restraints, and such are loaded into the Jeep Liberty.

Ready to go to Inferno.

It all takes up surprisingly little space. For a Top, I travel light. My first time at Inferno, I brought everything but the kitchen sink. I had enough vet wrap and duct tape to encircle the entire encampment. Perhaps I've mellowed with age, but at this point, I'm playing to my strong points. Whips and chains. I could probably improvise for something off that menu. But I don't know that I'm so inclined. No more RoboTop! If there is commonality of interests and animal attraction, then I'll do a scene. If not, than not.

I've got a couple of scenes lined up in advance. All of which will feature me in bottom mode. Pretty much. Horowitz is engineering some sort of sex pig extravaganza for me. (Reeeeally nervous about that one. Truly. What have I signed up for? I sent off email to roadkill asking if he'd whip me. Of all the whipping Tops at Inferno, he's the one to whom I feel the strongest connection. I had asked Alpha months ago to do the honors, but Alpha, alas, doesn't feel his singletail skills are quite there. And yeah, I want to be whipped. Nothing to prove. Not harsh and severe. I just sort of feel like I'm due. I can't count the number of men I've whipped since I last took my place on the cross.

And then there's that other scene. With Alpha. Every year, he and I struggle to devise a way so that we two Tops can do a scene together. He's usually up for a flogging. And I'm cool with that. Absolutely. Such gusto there! My first year at Inferno, Alpha flogged me, and I learned that I don't like getting flogged much. The last time I went, there was the tickling scene. Which I envisioned would be all about us snorting and giggling and having a gay old time. I guess I sure didn't understand what tickling was all about. As soon as he offered me the opportunity to give up the safe word, I sang it out. Laughing till it enduces panic is a surprisingly heavy scene. Take it from me.

So this year. I proposed, and he accepted. Alpha is going to hold me while I cry.

Aren't my bottoming skills coming along nicely? Look at me, asking for exactly what I want! Go figure!

Ah Inferno. I can't believe I'm actually going to get there. Surely I'll find that gas at $9.59 a gallon will force me to turn around and head for home before I even get west of the Allegheny Mountains. Or something. Or my father will call me from the road with some crisis or other. Or something. Or I'll arrive and they'll give me the news that there's been some terrible error with my registration. Or something.

Will it actually come to pass? Will I actually manage to make it all the way there?

Laundry. Packing clothes. Making food to sustain my father for a week while I'm gone. Work tomorrow. Dropping off Faithful Companion at Doggie Lock-Up. Buying some cigars for the trip. Picking up pizza. Getting to bed early. Waking up at 3 am. Hitting the road.

And then I'll be there.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Porch Picnic

Here's the menu for tomorrow. Once again, I am challenged with preparing epicurean delights for my vegan sister-in-law. I used to resent that mightily, intolerant as I am of people's "food issues." But I've come to love it. So, instead of when I would open up a can of baked beans for her while we all enjoyed my pot roast, these days I'm orienting the entire menu to exclude meat, fish, dairy, eggs, butter, and whatever else doesn't come up out of the ground.

Couldn't quite hold myself back on the shrimp salad, although she can have it without the shrimp. And I decided to go ahead and make my barbequed chicken. But pretty much, everything is fair game for her.

•Mexican Corn Salad with Sweet Corn, Black Beans, and Tomatoes (Easiest thing in the world. I'm roasting the corn and the tomatoes today.)

•Vietnames Shrimp Salad (Make the salad out of seeded and skinned cucumbers, sesame oil, lime juice, honey, a wee little bit of rice wine vinegar, red onions, mint, basil, and cilantro. Then over a high heat in a cast iron skillet, cook off the shrimp with sesame oil and lots and lots and lots of Tabasco sauce. The end result is that you've got this cool, sweet cucumber salad paired with little balls of shrimpy fire.)

•Barbequed Chicken (Best made over a smokey Weber grill--not the gas grills, a waste of money if there ever was one--where you soak hickory chips in water and put them over the coals. I'm making it in the oven. At a verrrrry low heat. I slice up peaches and sweet onions, and douse it all in Balsamic vinegar. Then put it in the oven for eleven days and just forget about it. Amazing.)

•Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes Paired with Roasted Green Beans. (Tossed with walnut oil, black pepper, and kosher salt, in the oven at 500°, first the potatoes, then add the greenbeans. I think I'll have some chilled chevre standing by to finish it, if the non-vegans around the table are so inclined.)

•Sautéed Zucchini (Oh yeah. Dust with flour, salt and pepper, and sauté. In walnut oil instead of butter. I'll have some shaved parmesan at hand, again for the non vegans. When I was a little kid, my family used to make an entire meal out of just sautéed zucchini.)

•Cantalope Salad (So simple. Balled cantelope. Mint. Basil. Lime juice. Honey.)

So, there'll be some good eatin' at the Kramer's tomorrow.

Hope all of you enjoy the weekend, too.


More thoughts on New Orleans.

I'm really sorry that I missed New Orleans. It's long been on my list of places to "get to," and now it looks as though I missed it. My sister had a friend in the Big Easy. He lived on the ground floor of the oldest apartment building in the French Quarter, and therefore, I think, North America. He had this enormous bathtub behind a wall of windows looking out onto Bourbon Street. You could see out, but no one could see in. So my sister enjoyed lighting candles, taking a bath, and watching the streetlife outside. Wow. How sublime is that?

And of course, New Orleans, and Labor Day Weekend, was the site of Southern Decadence. I've heard the stories, and it sounded pretty wonderful. Joyful erotic abandon.

And now, unless the Powers That Be get off their butts and decide that not just the buildings and the infrastructure, but the very spirit of the place is something that we can't let Katrina wash away, then it's all gone. Washed into the toxid brew that the Gulf has become.

Which makes me think of the Fire Island Pines. That magical and transcendant and beautiful place. It's pretty much a given that one day, within my lifetime, a well placed hurricane is going to make it all go away. It's only a sandbar, afterall. The wise man built his house upon the rock, and the foolish men (and women) built their houses on the sand. Wonderful houses that they are. And one day it will be no more.

I guess there's a "Don't Postpone Joy" message in there. Treasure what the Lord has given us today. Because tomorrow, it might be a dimming memory.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

At Work The Other Day

Things were going gangbusters getting the job I was working on hardwared up. But none of the natural parts that I needed--cuttlery dividers, lazy susan shelves, spice racks and such--were ready. They hadn't been sent to the finishing room with the rest of the cabinetry. All they needed was sealing and top-coating. I alerted the foreman, Mark, to this snafu, and he said he'd see what he could do about expediting them for me.

I really like Mark. He's this big no-bullshit-ever kind of guy. Very earnest. Stingy with words of praise, but when they do come directed at you, you know you've done something great.

So a little later, I'm bent over at the waist installing a stainless steel soap tray in a sink base cabinet. Mark comes up behind me. "Dutch," he says, "all your parts are looking great!"

I stand up, turn around, smile, and reply, "Thanks Mark! Pretty good for forty, huh?"

He stands there, his mouth open, blinking at me, for a full five beats. Then he just turned and walked away. Probably unsure of what just went down.

So Much Time, So Little To Do. Wait. Stop. Reverse That

Gotta clean out the car. Gotta get something together for a porch picnic on Monday for my father and my visiting-from-Florida brother and sister-in-law. Gotta make sure that my father has something to eat while I'm away. Gotta pack. Gotta drop off Faithful Companion at the shelter.

Because Tuesday night, I want to go to bed around 9 pm and set my alarm for 3 am, so I can get up and get on the road.

Because I'm going to Inferno.

I'm driving there. Pretty sure that the price of gas on the way out will put me right in the poor house. I can't afford a motel this time, so I'll be catnapping at rest stops along the way. I think I'll be downright weepy a lot of the time on the trip. If I end up doing any scenes, that's just gravy. All I really want is just to be there. To have that dust work its way into the seams of my boots. To talk and laugh and play eye-hockey with those men. To remind myself maybe who I am. And what I'm about. And why I want to go on living.

Can't Help But Think

Horrible watching New Orleans descend into madness and mayhem. So much seems to be coming home to roost there. I mean, sure, go ahead and structure a society so that you have a predominantly African-American underclass trapped in perpetual poverty, shut out of education and healthcare and services, but don't be surprised when decades of neglect erupt into fury and pandemonium.

And it leads me to recall New York City, when we had a blackout for sixteen hours in the largest city in North America, and it resulted in a great big party, with stores giving away free ice cream before it melted, folks checking on elderly neighbors, and the Fire Department making sure no one was trapped in any elevators in the entire city, and folks stepping up to the plate to direct traffic, and an entire town sitting out on their candlelit stoops with their neighbors. No looting. Not even, as far as I'm aware, any surge in crime. Makes me bust my buttons with pride to have been a part of that.