Friday, November 28, 2008


This Thanksgiving, I am nothing but thankful.

I'm thankful that I just filled up my gas tank and it cost me less than $30.00.

I'm thankful that everybody liked the food I made--braised brussels sprouts, tex mex roasted sweet potatoes, my stepmother's famous baked pineapple, bread stuffing--at the Thanksgiving Day celebration that That Cowboy and I were invited to.

I'm thankful for time in a hot tub after the Thanksgiving feast.

I'm thankful for the very first kumquat on the kumquat tree on my patio.

I'm thankful that my hard work is paying off and I'm getting good great grades in all my classes.

I'm thankful that right off the bat I found a great little Episcopal church here in Palm Springs, The Church of St. Paul In The Desert. Although it looks like I'll have to wait until Christmas Eve for them to bring out the incense.

I'm thankful that I live here in Palm Springs. Every new day I spend here seems to serve as further proof that coming here smacks of destiny. On Thanksgiving Day proper, we had rain in the morning. Almost an inch! By Palm Springs standards, that's a flood of all but biblical proportions. All day long, the sky was just magnificent, with the clouds riding down the slopes of the San Jacinto and Santa Rosita mountains.

I'm thankful for the life I'm cobbling together here. I spent the morning working at the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission down in Indio, in a neighborhood in Indio where you probably wouldn't want to run out of gas. My job was sorting out the dry-goods store room, putting like with like and assembling bags of Thanksgiving appropriate groceries when requested. It felt so much like how I've spent so many thanksgiving days gone by: making turkey dinner with all the fixings for the clients of syringe exchange programs where I've worked. This weekend, there's an art festival in town and That Cowboy and I are gonna head over and check it out. Next weekend, it's back to Indio for the Tamale Festival. (I only have a vague idea of what a tamale is, but after next weekend, I'll know.) Last weekend, we did a field trip out to the Salton Sea, a place of strange and terrible beauty. That Cowboy is building me an outdoor shower for my patio. That'll be a nice way to unwind, feeling the warm water run over me with the moon caught in the fronds of the date palms overhead. And I'm starting to think about finding some volunteer work to do and I'm looking for a part time job, ways that I can meet people and give a little bit more structure to my weekly schedule.

And I'm thankful for That Cowboy. He's thoughtful, kind, handsome, handy, reflective, fun, considerate, honest, hard-working, inspired, spirited, patient, easy-going, sexy, as taken with me as I am with him, and he's got a great dog. I wasn't looking for a man when I moved here to the desert. But such an odd change has taken place: whereas previously, my life was a private conversation I had with myself, now it's become a dialog. For perhaps the first time in my life--that I can remember anyway--I don't feel like I'm facing the world alone. Before, relationships have always been frought: what is he feeling? where is this going? should I tell him about this? how much of myself do I reveal? will I get hurt? what should I think about that?... None of that. Just a peaceful, easy feeling. Him in his workboots and Wrangler's, the nape of his sunburned neck damp with sweat always. The two of us, side by side, or across the table from each other, telling stories about the people we've know or the places we've been or talking about God or music or art or the desert or what we might do this weekend or dogs or hiking or work or building stuff or architecture or food or cooking or what we don't like in people or things the gays do or how it's always either sunny or partly sunny here in Palm Springs or movies or horses or bears or wolves or projects we want to start in on or what we saw on television or read on the internet or my latest obsession (which would be vinegaroons). Or how much we like being boyfriends with each other. It's all just working out so well, even though to my mind there's no work involved. I don't know that I could ask for a better man. I'm sure gonna do what I can to keep him around.

I am thankful for the gift of my life. I wouldn't want any other one. Not changed by one jot.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Vampire Gets Girl. Werewolf Spurned. Again.

On Friday, That Cowboy and I joined with several hundred tween girls to catch the premier of "Twilight," the coming of age romance movie about a young girl adjusting to life in her new hometown who starts up a thing with a boy who is one of a clan of local vampires. We loved the movie overall. It reminded me a lot of the kids I used to hang out with on the porch of Starbucks in Doylestown, PA. And it was beautifully shot and had some really good moments.

But after the movie, I, of course, was grumbling. Y'see, when the eternal question--who's cooler, vampires or werewolves?--is posed, I come down squarely on the side of the werewolves. And in "Twilight," there is, indeed, a werewolf, a devestatingly hawt native american boy who rebuilds the engine of the girls cool red pickup truck. To show her gratitude, she offers to drive him to school, and offer he can't accept as he goes to school on the res. And yet she falls for the vampire boy, he of the pale skin and the lip-gloss several shades too dark.

Alas, it is ever thus. "Oh I'll sit right here while you play the piano" is chosen over "Let's run naked through the woods."

Me? I'm a werewolf guy. Hunert percent.

It's my understanding that in the trilogy of books on which Twilight is based, Bella, the girl, does indeed get together with Jacob, the werewolf boy, in the second book. That may be worth reading.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Well Now When I Was Your Age, We Did Our Demonstratin' Different-Like.

Like, yeah.

One-time Sweetheart of the Doc Martens and Slogan-Sticker-Festooned-MC-Jacket Wearing Set, Peter Staley sums up some of my thoughts regarding the recent wave of Post-Prop 8 Activism pretty nicely.

Long did we agonize back in the day about up-coming demos: what look would our graphics have? What were our demands? What chants would we use? Who would lead the chants? What was our strategy? Would there be civil disobedience? Who would marshall the demonstration? Did we have legal observers?

The absolute worst thing that can happen is for passerby to comment, "I guess those people are angry about something" and move on. You want to move those passersby to come on over to your side. Think of the graphics for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers' Strike: simple, direct, poignant.

And unfortunately, protests here in Palm Springs have been marred by an assault on a pro-Prop 8 woman carrying a pretty pathetic looking styrofoam cross. Ever'body needs to read Ghandi's On Non-Violence and King's Letter From A Birmingham Jail pronto. To sum it up: we need to be better people than them.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The North Wind Doth Blow

Slept with the windows wide open last night. Perfect sleeping weather.

This morning, as I was driving to church with That Cowboy, it was raining. As in, there were drops of rain about two to three inches apart on the windshield. It was blowy and cool, about 60°.

I asked That Cowboy if this was pretty much what winter was like here in Palm Springs.

"Yup," he answered, "this is what you can expect from a day in February."

I was laughing hysterically--I mean really hysterically--for about five minutes. Just cackling away. Howling. Maniacal.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Here In Palm Springs

Have I mentioned how much I love it here in Palm Springs?

Here's yet another reason why. This weekend is Palm Springs Leather Pride Weekend. It is so not fabulous, humongous, exciting, and and exhilarating. It's basically a half block of Sunny Dunes roped off and filled with vendors and such. The most risque thing going on is consumption of alcoholic beverages. It's pretty easy to spot the sanfranciscans and angelinos in the crowd: they're all dressed up like it's something special going on. As I've noted so often here, in the desert, we don't try too hard.

Today on the phone, I was bemoaning to Nephtali how there's no good bookstore here in the Coachella Valley, just Barnes & Noble and Borders. Naphtali responded that "well that sounds like an opportunity for some enterprising entrepreneur to just walk into."

"Right," I said, "And the key word in that sentence is 'enterprising.' If there's an enterprise happening here, I'll be out by the pool. Let me know when it passes. That's sort of how the gemeinschafft works here."

[Gemeinschaft: That's a fun word to know. It's usually translated from the german as "community," although it has more of a sense of living in close companionship with. Thus, it evades the problem with the way the word "community" is tossed around in English to mean a demographic group. And also, it sounds like ge-Mine Shaft, so certain ears tend to prick up when you toss it out.]

'T'is true, our Leather Street Fair is a laid-back, humble little affair. It probably wouldn't be worth the trip even from Hemet were it not for the fact that today, like most days here, was a spectacularly beautiful sunny day, and down at the western end of the street Mount San Jacinto rises majestically making for a beautiful backdrop while you enjoy your sausage sandwich and watch the many hot men.

Last night, friends of That Cowboy were in town, and the two of us were treated to dinner at Wang's Of The Desert. I hadn't been to Wang's before. It's one of the most popular places here. When we arrived, the place was packed. Just swarming with the gays. Wall to wall. We were seated--reaching our table by walking across this little bridge over an indoor koi pond which brought to my mind the Three Billygoats Gruff and that troll so I said "trip-trap trip-trap trip-trap" as I crossed--and the food arrived, and it was wildly disappointing. I mean, it was just like the food served at chinese restaurants throughout this great land of ours, only greasier and with less flavor. In my newyorky way, I wondered it that was the whole point ("they do this incredible recreation of take-out chinese food!!!"), but duh, it's just the Palm Springs Way. As in, "Gosh, what kind of food will we serve at our restaurant? Oh I know, people like chinese food, so let's serve chinese food. Now that that's settled, I'm going to lay out by the pool."

That Cowboy's friends are house-flippers, and they were in town looking for places on the market. This morning, we went driving around La Mesa and Las Palmas and North Palm Springs looking at what worked and what doesn't. My eye is getting a little bit more discerning, I think. It used to be that anything moderne totally put lead in my pencil, but any more, that's not always the case. There are a lot of "great-lines-bad-design-decisions" out there. Also, there's the whole trap of "LOOK-AT-ME!-I'M-MODERNE!-SEE??!!-SEE??!!-YOU-CAN-REALLY-TELL!!!". The best places seem to have been renovated with minimal effort, so subtle that you could drive right by them and not notice. But if you do look, you slowly come to appreciate the interesting materials and finishings used, albeit from a restrained palette. Places that would just bring a slight smile to your lips as you pulled into the driveway after a long day at work.

And now, I'm gonna put on my leather pants and get ready to meet up with That Cowboy for dinner tonight, after which we'll wander aimlessly around the Leather Pride Street Festival until we decide we've seen enough for one day and head home to watch some telly-bision before heading to bed.

I really like it here.

A lot.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Morning After

I didn't have to wait too long to vote yesterday. When I got to the polls yesterday morning about 10, there were about ten people in the place, completing the arrows on their paper ballots. In Pennsylvania and NYC, I voted with machines with levers, so this art project thing was a little off putting. I was worried that I'd mess it. I'm in the middle of mid-terms at school, so as I'm in that mode, it felt just like taking a test.

As I made my way to the lockbox to insert my ballot in the slot and receive my "I Voted" sticker that would get me free coffee at Starbucks, I noticed that the other voters in the place were all older african-americans and the gays. We were all smiling at each other, almost conspiratorially. Although in retrospect, we weren't smiling because we felt we were doing something wrong, we were smiling because we felt we were doing something significant, that we were making history.

For the black voters, it was all about voting for the first african-american who would become President of the United States of America. For me, it was voting so that gay men and lesbians would be able to have their relationships recognized by the State of California. Like them, I would have been surprised and dubious if it had been suggested to me at some point in the past that I would have the opportunity to do this.

I am old enough to remember when it was very much Not Okay to be a homo. I remember when gaydar was a tool of survival, particularly on the job when if it was known that you were a shirt-raiser, you wouldn't be getting any raises. I remember when a four guys carrying lacrosse sticks piled out of a car in the middle of the West Village (!) calling me fuckin' queer. I remember when Bush 41's Secretary of Health and Human Services, Louis Sullivan, said on Nightline that AIDS in fact was not a matter of great national concern because it didn't and wouldn't be affecting americans other than homosexuals and those living in the "inner cities." I remember when checking into a hotel room with another man and asking for a room with one bed felt like a Really Big Deal and if we were tired or we weren't sure that there were any other motels around we would just let it pass and let them give us two full beds. I remember when Tony Randall's character on the short-lived sit-com "Love, Sidney" was rewritten from him being gay to just being this guy who lived alone and took an unusual though non-romantic interest in the young single mother living in the next apartment. I remember the preacher at Jack Schmidt's funeral saying from the pulpit that God saw homosexuality as an abomination while Jack's partner Rick quietly sobbed.

Not that it was all horror and torment. Or even mostly. There was, of course, a wonderfully fun aspect of being on the outside of american society looking in, of secretly laughing up your sleeve at the clueless straights. I once actually overheard some guy say, "You mean RuPaul is a woman???" And when you gave a little wink to the guy at the airport check-in counter having detected a certain way he had in pronouncing those sibilant S's, it might get you an upgrade on your seat.

And, of course, I am nothing if not ambivalent about this whole idea of gay marriage. When friends said that they were at a wedding a few weekends ago, it took me a while to realize that it was two men who were tying the knot. Too, I still think it devalues relationships that gay men do amazingly well--friendships--in favor of those that we're not so good at. But that said, I am warming to the idea.

But here I was, voting No on Proposition 8.

Surely we'd win the day. Surely a simple majority of the California electorate would see through the hateful, lying, fear-mongering ads run by proponents of Prop 8. Surely this wonderful "live and let live" state that I moved across the country to call home would be better than that.

But no.

The results, 52-48 % in favor, are such a kick in the stomach.

Really? Really??

So yeah. It's really cool that Black is the New President and all, but I'm not quite celebratory. In fact, I'm feeling a little vindictive. At Starbucks this morning, my blood boiled when I noticed that the nice older straight couple in line ahead of me were wearing wedding rings. And it's particularly stinging that one of the factors leading to the ratification of Prop 8 was high turn-out by african american voters who overwhelmingly voted for it. In the aggregate, african-americans are standing in the way of the expansion of civil rights and human dignity. Now that's a nice thought.

So yay. Yay, Obama. Hooray. It's a great day for America. When do I get to be an american?

Monday, November 03, 2008

But He's Making Progress

(earlier today)

Me: Why is tonight a very special night?

That Cowboy: Ummm... Because you have your History of Architecture mid-term?

(I look exasperated.)

That Cowboy: Ummm... Because tomorrow we vote?

(I still look exasperated, but shoot a quick glance at the television.)

That Cowboy: Oh! Because we watch "Heroes"!

Me: That's. My. Man.!