Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Cork and Demon Western Wine Tour: Planning Anxiety No. 1

I emailed a friend to ask her something that's been bothering me since I started looking at the southern New Mexico leg of my tour today: once in El Paso, should I tack on several hours of driving time and hit Carlsbad caverns, or should I stick to The Plan, which is to travel on a winery-finding route, and not diverge?

She thought this was such a non-question. You've wanted to see Carlsbad and the Guadalupes since childhood? Then, duh. Go there. And that might be obvious--for someone else.

The big head demon I've had lurking round while planning this trip is that I must treat it as a JOB, and I am my own BOSS, and certain things must get DONE, or else I am a wandering loser HIPPY wasting my inheritance.

Certain things must get done. I'm gonna talk to winemakers and sample their wine and teach myself how to write about what I tasted. But what really needs to get done doesn't have a damn thing to do with wine. I'm doing this to learn how to trust myself. Now, I didn't say find myself; Lord knows I know where I am at all times. But if I can shove off from south Texas and make a grand loop across the Western United States on my own, for no other reasons than my own, I can probably trust myself with just about anything else.

So yeah, I should go to Carlsbad, and to see the highest point in Texas (you're right, Kym, I can't call myself a Texan and miss that opportunity!) Even if it means some extra milage and time. Not because it's practical or productive, but because I WANNA.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Area Gay Man Not to be Questioned About Brokeback Mountain

I'm at this get-together last night, and the subject falls to the Globes and Brokeback Mountain. I mentioned that I loved how each of the sex scenes were played with a roughness, either a primal or a playful sort, and that they actually do kick each other's ass at one point. I had gone into the movie afraid that they'd skimp on the sex, or make it so dilute so as not to offend, but instead there was a real energy to it, with all the layers of rage, lust, sadness and joy in place.
This kid in a plum shirt and tie pipes up, "I have to disagree," he said. "I found that the movie did nothing but perpetuate the myth that gay men are predatory."


"Wow," I said, "I didn't catch that at all."

"Well, that's how I see it as a gay man."

Look. There are a lot of situations I wouldn't step in and say I knew a damn thing about, like, say, living in Baghdad or only having one arm. But I don't need a gay guy to trump my perfectly good opinion, like it should be obvious to me that only gay men understand how gay men are portrayed in movies.

Turns out, his opinion was shared, albeit unintentionally, by Gene Shalit, who used the term 'sexual preditor' to describe the character of Jack Twist. He later apologized for the comment, intending only to speak about the one character and not of gay men in general.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Nashville Highlights

It's Hustler Hollywood! The talk of the town since it's grand opening last July. This chain of "friendly" smut stores is owned by the Grand Poobah of Boobies himself, Larry Flint. What fun it must have been for him to land his latest store on Church Street!
The whole premise behind these stores is to offer "discriminating consumers a bright, refreshing alternative to the seedy adult bookstore", and while it's bright alright, it's not all that different, and it is still geared specifically toward men. Why is it that women can't be "discriminating consumers" as well? The front part of the store is a bunch of novelty crap and the usual assortment of lubes and lewd toys, such as the one that looks like a man with his pants down, and when you stick your pencil in his butt, he moans. There's also a rowdy bunch of rude tee shirts, some of which are kinda funny, but who besides the Spring Break Beach set is going to walk around in these things? And then there's the coffee bar...WTF? What's that for, so your wife can have a latte while you browse the XXX titles? Speaking of which, it's the same old thing---all the movies and naughty toys are partitioned off in the back. Now, I'm not afraid to browse either one of these, unless I peer in and there's nothing but the same lurky dudes back there. My question is this: if you're trying for a kinder, friendlier atmosphere that allows sex movies, novelties and toys to be playful and fun rather than spooky and seedy, then why section off the store like that? Leave it all open. That way, the men don't have to feel like they're lurking in the back, and women can actually browse the viddies and toys without feeling like they don't belong there. My verdict: lame. For everyone's wholesome, fun sex movies/toys pleasure, I recommend GOOD VIBRATIONS, who has been doing it the right way for decades. They're friendly to all---boys, girls, gay, straight, whatever.

On to some shopping...

Katy K's 'Ranch Dressing' on 12th Street is totally boss. You looking for a real Western Shirt? With a real cowboy necktie? And a pair of vintage boots? This is where you go. She's got the real deal.
Except for just one thing...
I browsed around, looking for a western shirt that was a bit more casual than my Scully, something authentic, but didn't make me look like I should be holding a guitar. I found a nice one, soft, with pale green and light brown stripes that was exactly what I wanted...until I saw the tag that said "Made in China". I liked that shirt fine, but I'll be damned if I'm going to drive all the way to Nashville from Austin to buy a western shirt made in fucking China. What a drag that was. If you go there, stick to the real stuff.

We got a little lost, driving around, and ended up at a great big car graveyard:

and looking at it reminded me of a Beck lyric:

Give the finger to the rock and roll singer
As he's dancing upon your paycheck
The sales climb high through the garbage pail sky
Like a giant dildo crushing the sun

And speaking of giant dildoes...look at this visual horror:

ARRRGH! Run for your lives! The city is being eaten by a giant blue demon!
Is that not the fugliest building you've ever seen? That there's the Bell South building, and a mere photo cannot show how rediculous it looks looming over downtown Nashville. Besides, the corporate metaphor is sooo difficult to resist...must....resist....

To soothe your aching eyes, here's detail from a proper building, the beeeyoootiful Frist Center for the Visual Arts. All Deco, absolutely stunning.

We caught an awe-inspiring Murano glass exhibit there, and the combination of building and show made me feel like a kid full o' wide-eyed wonder. Also on was a multi-media exhibit by Deborah Aschheim called 'Neural Architecture No. 6', a metastatic network of clear plastic 'neurons' hanging from all corners of the museum. Each pod had either a camera, a two-way radio, or a monitor, so that you could catch snippets of the conversations of others in another room or see yourself being 'watched'. It's a multilayered work exploring the world of secret surveillance. Check it out.

And finally: the Parthenon by moonlight. It's closed at night, but walking around it in the dark is a must do.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Don't Miss the Dempseys, Jack!

Our first night in Memphis, we feasted on Tennessee-style BBQ ribs at the Blues City Cafe on Beale Street and afterwards, asked our waiter which music venues we should check out. He pointed to the adjoining bar and insisted that we see that night's act before going anywhere else. Our reward for taking the advice was The Dempseys, a fabulous frenetic free-for-all of a rockability band that blew my little mind.

I can't think of when I last saw a gig as tight and exciting as these guys. They were hilarious, dexterous, and inexaustible, and a little nuts. To call them 'Rockabilly' is really an underestimate of their range; they had a full grip on every genre surrounding rock and country, including jump blues, Western Swing, surf rock, and even a soupcon of the Sex Pistols. But this was only the songs themselves. As if to prove the absolute extent of both their mastery of all things showman, each of the trio took a turn at the drums, stand-up bass, and Fender Telecaster with near-equal prowess.
There were moments a-plenty when I thought they'd topped everything they'd done already. The medley of artists that ranged from Roy Orbisson to Johnny Rotten was a blowout, but so were the acrobatics---in one of the finest moves, spazz-tacular bassist Joe "Slick" Fick stands atop the bass fiddle and plays guitar while guitarist Bradley Dean Burkedahl slaps the bass with one arm under Fick's legs. Drummer Ron Perrone Jr. ended the second set with a drum solo that led him all around the bar, tapping out rhythms on every table top, ashtray, beer bottle and boot sole in the joint.

The Dempseys' site has a lot of info on their accolades and purchasing CDs, but they are a must-see live. Of all the bands playing that night in Memphis, I can't imagine a better one to have caught. Thanks, Blues City Cafe Waiter Guy!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Okay, just one more doll: DJ Korea Love

elouai's doll maker 3

Monday, January 02, 2006

My Candygirl Doll and Thoughts about Jobs

elouai's doll maker 3

OMG, how cute is she? Aw, c'mon, give it up. It's five pm, I'm blowing a little time while waiting for the laundry to finish up. Make your own!


There was this guy at a New Year's gathering last night who used to be tangled up bad in drugs but now builds furniture. It's not often I meet someone who can recite lyrics by The Fall or who can sit and listen to McGovern and I dork out about some Cotes du Rhone and not zone out. I used his business card to make a point that marketing isn't all evil; for a craftsman, it is simply a tool with which to leave an impression. He told a story about this woman who brought him a picture out of a magazine of a kid's bunk bed that looked like a medieval castle and wanted him to build one just like it. He looked at the picture and realized that it would cost five or six grand to custom build it, so he asked her: if you liked the bed in the picture, why didn't you just order one of those? "Oh, because it was way too expensive," she said.

You know, here's this craftsman, who crafts furniture by hand out of high quality materials, and this idiot woman thinks she's going to be able to get him to build her fucking pre-fab, particle board bunk bed for less money. How skewed an assumption is that?

This story, along with another conversation about how much we both despised bosses who spewed out corporate policy like robots, got me a' thinkin' about what kind of job I want in the future. The bunk bed bitch reminded me of how completely done I wish I was with having to perform the duties of customer service. I've been really good at it for years. Customer service requires that you take a lot of silly shit off people and be able to grin straight through it. This is a fantastic skill to have. When I'm on my game, I can take it with the biggest lovin' smile ever to stretch between human ears. I could solve that grumpy guest's problem before they could bat an eye. It's just that...well, I don't fucking wanna anymore. And when I don't wanna, I don't do so good.

Desperate to move away from the foodservice and bar industry, I took a job several years ago, and though it was cubicle-land, you could decorate your space with any Beanie Baby or retro plastic action figure you wanted. And for a while, I really believed that I could get into the gig, perform the mandates, prove myself, and move up. I pictured myself becoming a trainer of new recruits, since I had a propensity for telling others how they ought to do things. But I could never quite follow all the little meticulous procedures for which we were evaluated. I got restless and bored, and began to tell people exactly what I thought they needed to hear.

So what kind of gig am I made for? How is it I'm smart, knowledgable, talented, and have such a lovely ass, yet am still, at my age, wondering what I wanna be when I grow up?

There was a guy named Mark who worked at the now-defunct Mezzaluna restaurant, who spent nine months out of the year waiting tables, and the remaining three in Alaska or Maine, hiking and making music. I used to think, wow, what an effin' hippie, but now I'm thinking he had the perfect gig. The restaurant grind only lasted so long, then he got to spend a nice long chunk of time doing what he loved. He was really good at the tables, too, never got riled up; I used to think he was immaculately stoned all the time, but I bet not now. He could count down the days until he left all these screechy yahoos behind for the great outdoors. Knowing that the struggle was finite, how could you not take it in stride? It's only when you feel stuck that it starts to eat at you.

I put up a map of the U.S. on my kitchen wall above the table where I blog. After a short jaunt to Tennesee, I'll begin charting my destinations for the C&D Wine Extravaganza Hootenany Tour 2006. This will be one of the best things I've ever done, I can feel it. It'll yield up amazing things. Planning it is my gig for the time being. In a way, I'm employing myself as my own opportunity scout. I'm such a kickass boss.