I flew in on Thursday, March 1st. The flight was long long long, and the only thing I forgot to pack was Nicorettes gum, a mistake I sorely regretted. But finally, after what seemed enough time on that plane to get to the shores of the Aral Sea, I arrived at San Diego International.
If you've never had the pleasure, flying into SAN involves some thrills and chills. The airport is basically downtown, so you're skimming office towers as you come in for a landing. Apparently there's quite the local controversy about building a new airport. There to meet me as I came through the security gate was Alpha, I gave him a hug hello before basically pushing past him so I could get outside the terminal to have a smoke. Alpha understood, and didn't even offer a look of long-suffering disdain.
Once again, my strategy of sequestering eleven lighters about my person was successful! Even if TSA finds one, I'll look befuddled and say "Oh gosh, sorry about that," but the other ten make it through. This trip, I arrived at the other end with all eleven lighters still in my possession.
We collected my bag and drove to Chez Alpha in Hillcrest. The weather was beautiful, balmy, in the sixties, with a cool breeze blowing as the marine layer was coming in. And more good news! Alpha's citrus crop had survived the freak freeze that SoCal got, and his kumquats were ripe!
I love kumquats! By far, they're my favorite fruit. I didn't see them at all in the stores this year. I feasted on them.
Alpha and I headed down and got take out for dinner. After a day of gorging myself on Southwest's honey roasted peanuts, I wasn't especially hungry, but I did want some protein. A nice chicken caesar did me good.
As always when I visit the West Coast, I get off the plane and I'm all energized and then suddenly I'm Very Much Not and I pretty much turn into furniture. Luckily, Alpha's nice warm bed was under me just in time.
Friday, we hung around the house. Alpha is a developer and his sixteen unit condominium complex is in the final phases of construction, so he had lots to keep him busy. That afternoon, we walked a few blocks to Hillcrest proper and stopped in at Bread & Cie. where I had coffee and read the Atlantic while Alpha dealt with some condo construction crises on the phone.
It seems that the pleasure of my company was requested by Roadkill, Alpha's ex, who whipped me at Inferno in 2005. Roadkill is an amazing man. He has created this amazing monthly play party called SuperPigs in his house. Once a month, between twenty and forty men show up, enjoy a full dinner together, and then get busy with some of the best BDSM you'll find anywhere in the country. Roadkill is a psychologist by profession, and the insights that you spend weeks and weeks thinking about afterwards just come bubbling out of him.
RK picked me up for the short drive over to his house. I presented him with the iPod Shuffle bearing the music I had selected to serve as the soundtrack for SuperPigs, and he was most grateful. At his home, which spills down the side of a canyon, we caught the last of the sunrise before we started with dinner. RK had bought some buffalo steaks, some veggies, and a nice bottle of wine. While he fixed dinner, he shared with me a talk he was planning to give in a few weeks to contestants in the Mr. San Diego Leather pageant. He was going to discuss the difference between Community and Society. In sociological terms, a society is formally organized, hierarchical, with defined roles and responsibilities. A community, on the other hand, is informal, fluid, and roles and responsibilities are less clear. A society values sticking to your role and getting the job done, whatever the job might be. A community values conviviality, trust, openness, and the support you offer to fellow members of the community?
In Mondo BDSM, often we confuse the two. We look to societies to provide us with community, and get pissed off when the community doesn't accord us the benefits of a society ("How could they not consult me? Don't they know who I am?") To support society, you do things like hold a fundraiser. To build community, you hang out and smoke cigars.
After dinner, which was great, Roadkill and I relaxed on the deck overlooking the canyon and built community, albeit a community of two, enjoying some nice cigars while wrapped in blankets.
We talked about beautiful men.
It turns out that the two way hot guys who harshed my mellow at Inferno last September were invitees of Roadkill. Roadkill, of course, was full of insight on the tough row one of them anyway has to hoe. It's the plight of Narscisus (I always spell that name wrong.) He was loved from the time he was a young man... for his beauty. People don't see him, just his beauty, and project onto him all of their longings and desires. When he inevitably does something or says something that doesn't jibe with these projections, they're resentful and angry. And that's inevitable because underneath that stunning exterior, he's just a guy.
The hour grew late, and although I could have spent the night talking to Roadkill, he drove me home. And, as I mentioned in my previous post, outside of Alpha's house, after we kissed goodnight, he said, "You'll never find what you want in an egalitarian relationship. You won't be happy with that. You're dominant and controlling. What you need is a slave."
And, of course, I'm still mulling that.
The next morning, it was off to Palm Springs!
When Alpha had asked me what I wanted to do during my visit, I said, "Spend time in the desert and spend time in a hot tub." Two things that never cease to make me happy. Orbitz found us a motel room we could afford, and so we loaded up and headed off.
Oh. Alpha's Mazda RX-8 was in the body shop after it was broadsided while parked by a man wearing no pants high on crystal meth who had engaged police in a high speed chase. So, Alpha was borrowing a Subaru that had belonged to Roadkill's slave pluG, recently deceased.
Here's the license plate of that Subaru:
I know, right?
Oh. My. God. What if somebody saw me tooling around in that? Talk about violating truth in advertising rules. I was giggling bigtime about that the whole way to Palm Springs.
We wound our way through the windfarm that greets visitors.
Our first stop was Desert Hot Springs, a place that fascinated me.
One of my favorite forms of wasting time is playing around with www.realtor.com. You punch in a zip code and a price range and see all the houses on the market. Looking in the greater Palm Springs area a while ago, I found some cool, affordable places in Desert Hot Springs. I found a local paper online, and learned that the folks who lived there prided themselves on the fact that there was nothing much to do in town. If you wanted to see a movie, you had to go into Palm Springs.
What a potentially cool, quirky desert town!
We drove around, and found a pretty amazing house for sale built up on the mountain, where the town runs up against Joshua Tree National Park. If'n there was a chance in hell I could get and pay a $400,000 mortgage, I would be very happy there. But it was fun to imagine doing that.
Down in Palm Springs, we found our hotel and settled in. Alpha called up a buddy of his who lived there, and we joined him and his housemate for dinner.
Alpha's buddy lived in a pretty amazing place himself. He had just completed getting solar panels installed on the roof, and so now the local electric company would be paying him. Nice! And, I noted, he had a hot tub.
We went to dinner in a little mexican place in a strip mall. And there I had the best mexican food I've ever had, and a very memorable meal. The place was all about mariscos (seafood). I shared a dozen oysters, and then had this amazing seafood cocktail kind of thing, that was the specialty of the house. Finally, I topped it all off with some shrimp tacos. Again, I had no idea mexican food could be so good, and I like mexican food.
Then we all headed back to the solar powered home and jumped in the hot tub. Too perfect. Our host had to head to Sidewinders because he was pretty religious in doing their line-dancing thing, but he told Alpha and I we could sit and enjoy ourselves, and even floated some chocolate in a tupperware dish for us to enjoy as he left. So there we say, in the perfect hot tub, looking up at the moon caught in the fronds of the palm trees overhead.
On Solar Powered Bear's recommendation, the next morning we headed to Koffi on Palm Canyon. Over coffee and little baked things, I read the New York Times and watched the local men gather in circles on the lawn of the little park behind Koffi. And there was lots of eye candy. Lots.
Alpha, who needs something more substantial in the morning than a bagel or whatever, headed to a place we had passed and he and I made plans to meet up afterwards at the Starbucks at Palm Canyon and Taquitz. I finished up the Times. As I got up to leave, this hot musclebear approached. He and I had been playing eye hockey. He introduced himself and I told him I was visiting from out of town. He told me that the place to be that evening would be the Barracks, where things got started around 5 p.m. I told him I'd look for him there.
Alpha and I spent the day doing some Archi-tourism, visiting some Frey and Neutra buildings, and driving through Warm Springs or Sands or whatever it's called. It's sort of Palm Springs' Porn District. Lots of gay resort places where so many of your favorite porn cinema oeuvres were filmed. And indeed! There were all these porn star looking guys sort of aimlessly idling on the sidewalk. If I remember correctly from the '80s, it's called "cruising."
Among the highlights was a visit to Palm Springs' City Hall, designed by Albert Frey, the master of Desert Modernism himelf. Here's me basking in the wonder of it all...
That night, at 5 p.m., I rolled up in the KINKBTM-mobile outside of the Barracks.
I was nervous as a colt! Serious! Like I had never been to a leatherbar before! Uncanny.
I needn't have been, of course.
Inside, I was greeted by the hot musclebear who had invited me. He introduced me to his hot musclebear partner and their friends, with whom I was happy to hang for a bit. And then, in walked the only other guy on worldleathermen who has a pic of himself sporting a black eye in his profile. Shiner and I had met briefly back in January at MAL. He's an amazing man. And if I was the Palm Springs resident I long to be, I'd be stalking him. (And I bet he'd love that. The sick fuck. *sigh*) I made a couple of tours of the place, generally in awe, and then hung out with Shiner and his friends.
Y'know, it felt like the LURE. Those halcyon
After that night of the Barracks, I don't think I'll be able to go to the NYC Eagle for awhile, little less the Bike Stop in Philadelphia. Both of those venues fall way too short.
And then came the part where Shiner and I kissed goodbye and I totally fell in love with the man. Just like used to happen to me so often at the LURE. And just like hasn't happened to me in years. It's good to know that machinery still works.
Alpha and I had dinner at a place called Rainbows that night. It was not a good dining experience. By any measure. And what the hell was up with the piano bar situation? The Entertainah in the next room couldn't carry a tune in a wheelbarrow. I swear! He must give a great blow job. In the opinion of whoever books for Rainbows anyway.
The next morning, we went off to visit an art conservator who had done some work on a couple of Tom of Finland originals for Roadkill. RK asked Alpha to pick them up for him while we were down in the desert. On the phone with the conservator, Alpha told him we were heading up that way because we wanted to see some Alexander houses, and the conservator confessed he lived in one.
So... like... we'd get to see the inside of an Alexander house!
And it was. Just so perfect. The original ranch house. Great layout, beautiful finishes, restored and maintained with care. We picked up the original Toms and then drove around the neighborhood.
And wouldn't you know, we found It. The Holy Grail: the Kaufmann Desert House designed by Richard Neutra.
The Kaufmann's were also the people for whom Frank Lloyd Wright designed Falling Water. A photograph of Mrs. Kaufmann lying on a chaise out by the pool of her desert house started the whole modern thing going. The picture conveyed the sybaritic bliss of Modern: the clean lines, the purity of materials, letting the outside in, having the house become part of the landscape instead of imposing itself on the landscape. Millions of people looked at that photograph of Mrs. Kaufmann and thought, "I want that."
Alas, we didn't get to sit our sybaritic selves down by the Kaufmann Desert House pool. We had to content ourselves with what we could see from the street. Which was awesome.
Here's a pic of me prostrating myself in homage to the pure beauty of the place...
I got shivers seeing it, and not seeing it in a book. Few things move me like great architecture, and to my mind, architecture doesn't get a lot better than that.
We continued driving around the neighborhood, and also found the Edris House, another Palm Springs great. When we ran out of Palm Springs, we came upon a path leading up the hill into the desert.
When I talked to Hot Tub Guy before I left, he told me how he envied me getting to spend some time in the desert. "Make sure you take some pictures," he said, "And make sure you're in the pictures to prove you're actually there!"
I informed Alpha that the Time Was Now. We were going to take some pictures of me naked in the desert.
We headed up the trail, and when we got out of sight of the local populace, I stripped. For the next half hour or so, Alpha shot while I pretty much did the stretching routine I do before my workouts.
Here's an example...
(And you were worried I wasn't going to come across with a pic of me naked, right? Well, this is Singletails! And we aim not to disappoint. Plus I'm a total exhibitionist.)
It was time for Alpha and I to hit the road. We stopped for lunch, and then went out the way we came, through the wind farm and over the mountains.
Back in San Diego, there was pretty much just time to head out and get dinner. We had to get up early the next morning to make my plane.
Leaving San Diego was really hard. People I love, great SM, the Barracks in Palm Springs, the desert, coyote howling at night, hot tubs... I could be really happy there. If only, if only.
Back in Philadelphia, I was faced with 22° temperatures. And the prospect of taking public transportation back to where my car was parked outside Hot Tub Guy's apartment in Fishtown. Over the platform where I waited in the cold for the train at the airport, there hung a one of those red dot banner sign things. This one bore the message: "Welcome to Philadelphia."
Note the period. Not an exclamation point (Welcome to Philadelphia!), which would make it seem warm and inviting, although perhaps overly so. And not leaving it unpunctuated (Welcome to Philadelphia) which makes it neutral and matter of fact.
That period conveyed to me a sardonic and snarky welcome. As in, "Welcome to Philadelphia. Sucker." Muttered under the breath, rather than smiling and extending an open hand.