I’m Sorry For A lot of Things, Only One of Which I will Mention Here

Hi gang!

First, let me quickly draw your attention to the cover of the vintage men’s magazine above. Specifically the special book bonus: “NIGHT OF THE NUDE NYMPH”

You’ll note, if you have great eyesight, that underneath that, is says: “Compelling tale of a twisted desire…raw emotions.” –The Record

This means that upon its publication, Night of the Nude Nymph was actually reviewed (!!??!!) [Wow, that ain’t never gonna happen anymoreEd.]

I love how America used to take literary pursuits, of pretty much any stripe, seriously. Of course, this was decades ago, a couple of which I was actually alive in. And then the decades of “images” came along and soundbites, and keeping everything as entertaining as possible in order to promote deep consumerism, etc., etc. And then everything became highly personal (yes, even the nightly news!!), so that if a book gets reviewed nowadays, it’s likely just some person “opinioning” it.

Yes, I love America. I really really do. But in order to maintain this deep love I have for America, I have to move deeper and deeper into the Hinterlands so that I can hear myself think; to be cut off from the bombardment of unwanted extreme opinions, images, proclamations, and questionable definitions of “entertainment.” I also got rid of the television a long time ago.  And while it has nothing to do with my television, I have since learned to fear the extreme liberals in this country as much as I’ve feared the extreme conservatives here all my life.

Meaning that my greatest fear is of intolerance; a thing that an extremist of any variety can master with alarming speed.  A thing that will also quickly “erode our liberty without eternal vigilance” on our parts (attributed to Thomas Jefferson although he doesn’t seem to have actually written that anywhere) . (And yes, that means eternal vigilance for the liberty of the people you don’t like; such is the weighty burden of being an American. “I will defend to the death your right to do that thing I don’t like.” You don’t hear that kind of thing too much in America anymore.)

One of the main reasons I love living here in the Hinterlands is that everyone leaves everyone else alone.  And its not overrun with rules and regulations or high taxes. And no new construction is underway anywhere, at all. In fact, all the old construction remains until it literally falls down and blows away — and this sometimes takes hundreds of years.

At dawn this morning, I stood at one of my bedroom windows (in my 118-year-old house that sat vacant for a few years until I bought it last March), drinking my cup of coffee, and noticing how the guy a few houses down First Street from me, always parks his old Mustang GT horizontally across his driveway.  I love that he does that. I’m not sure why he does that but I’m thinking it has something to do with space; not outer space (although that’s another thing Americans are really eager to incorporate into the things they get to own), but the actual space in his driveway.  He can better utilize the space of the driveway he owns by parking horizontally on it.

I used to live in a town where they would never have tolerated that. If you would have dared to park your car funny, you would have been the victim of relentless neighborly scorn. And it would have escalated if you refused to buckle.

All righty!

Time for one of those things I’m sorry for!

I’m sorry I forgot to wish everyone a happy St. Paddy’s Day!

Even though I was not still officially sick, I was still under the weather enough to not want to get out of bed and deal with the computer until today. So a belated happy St. Paddy’s Day to everyone!

Long time readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recall that St. Paddy’s Day is also when I celebrate all the birthdays of my many cats . I bought them a new batch of catnip-infused felt mice, which they delighted in for about 5 minutes, and then went right back to playing with their ratty, beat-up, chewed-up, old toys.  So now I have a big bunch of brand new catnip-infused felt mice scattered all over my family room floor, being hopelessly ignored by everyone.

But that’s okay because it’s finally SPRING!! Yay!! And there are also birds everywhere outside all our many windows, keeping our attention occupied and keeping us eager for that warmer weather, wherein we will be able to open all 21 of those said windows and keep them open until October.  (It’s so cute, gang. The cats are practically glued to the windows now that all the birds have returned.)

And on that lovely note, I wish you a wonderful Equinox!! Make some heartfelt wishes today, okay? Because I think that they’re all gonna come true!! Seriously.  And now I’m gonna go make some lunch, then get back to re-writes on the new play.

I leave you with another old song I only recently found out about through that Australian guy’s blog (A1000Mistakes), and I absolutely love it!!! The Beasts of Bourbon singing Drunk On A Train!! It cracks me up! The lyrics are fantastic. Okay!

Enjoy, gang. And thanks for visiting! I love you! See ya!!

Holy McMoly!!

Man, was I sick.  3 long weeks of that garbage. But I finally broke down and went to the clinic over the weekend. They promptly put me on 4 different meds, all of which had to be taken at different times, in different quantities, and that alone can make a sick mind really rebel against the system. But I am finally almost well!

Jeepers, that took forever.

While I was down for the count, I laid in bed and watched a  lot of YouTube stuff on my phone.  You know, I really hate to watch those indescribably “unofficial” videos of concerts  other people make with their phones,  because I know the entertainers really wish that people wouldn’t do that.  There is no quality control whatsoever, and of course there is no way for the entertainer to “merchandize” that.

And yet…

I was not able to resist watching Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds in concert in Saint Petersburg Russia last July recorded (not at all well) on some Russian guy’s phone.

And I am talking terrible sound quality. And I am talking terrible visual quality. And yet I am still talking: What a mesmerizing concert. Even under those wretched video conditions. Often, the guy taping it couldn’t keep pace with Nick Cave moving all over the stage and so only God knew what we were suddenly looking at. And sometimes  his phone would drop briefly and he would only be capturing the backs of the heads of the people in front of him. And I would find myself calling out to him in my horrifying laryngitis-infused gasp: “Dude, dude!! Fix your phone!! I can’t see!!” As if I were actually there beside him, watching it all on his phone.

Yes, I feel a little guilty. I didn’t pay the 3 billion rubles the actual tickets must have cost, and the sound & visuals were awful, plus I was hopped-up on various cold meds throughout, yet it was still astoundingly cool. A great show.

And I have to say to all you Americans out there reading my blog; yes, you who steadfastly refuse to listen to Nick Cave — I must say that all those Russians, who speak a language that could not be more dissimilar to English if it tried; yes they were all singing along in English to those lofty Nick Cave songs and you can’t even be bothered to listen to them in your own native language. A word to the wise is sufficient!

Okay!! Onward.

I am hoping against hope to get back at the revisions of Tell My Bones today. I have been so sick that it was hard to even get out of bed, let alone to think in an even remotely creative way. And of course the clock is ticking.  Sandra and the director of the play patiently await my revisions in NYC  so that rehearsals can begin!

Nothing like a  little pressure and a whole lot of stress to get those creative juices churning… But here we go, gang.

I hope all is going good in your part of the world! Sorry for my prolonged absence. Thanks for visiting. I love you!! See ya!

(I know you’re not gonna listen to it, but here’s one of my (many, many) favorites from about 20 years ago or so. Thank god we don’t have to learn this whole song in Russian….)

Please bear with me as I attempt to post…

I’m still sick! But the good news is that I feel a lot better.

I dragged myself from the sick bed in an effort to share with you Sandra Caldwell’s newest photo. I love it so much!!

Sandra Caldwell. The actress I write for in NY.

The only down side to this new photo (there were actually several new photos from this shoot that were just wonderful, gang), is that she is back in NYC now, gearing up for rehearsals for the staged reading of my play, Tell My Bones.

I say “down side” because I have not yet written the staged reading version of my play, Tell My Bones. Because I’ve been so fucking sick.

Structurally, it’s ready to go. I did a lot of work before I got sick. But there is still a whole lot of revising, tweaking, paring down that I need to do to the text of it. And I need to have a truly keen presence of mind to do that, guys. Because everything imaginable hangs on the staged reading being a success.

I got out of bed primarily for Holy Communion today — Ash Wednesday. And felt reasonably good. But as the morning has gone on, I keep sinking back down to feeling not-so-good.  I was up literally half the night coughing my lungs out. In that horrific way where you can’t catch your breath, and you’re pissing into your PJ bottoms, and you’re thinking you’re literally going to hack a piece of your lung out of your mouth — and yet you know that you’re on the mend because you’re coughing up everything that accumulated for the past week. So surely you must be getting better!!

And even though I felt like I was gonna die from that horrible hacking, I was also in this wonderful euphoria because I am so fucking in love with my guy and he had texted me such a cute little string of emojis before I went to sleep and it was still on the screen of my phone. So it just kept making me smile, you know?

ME (all night): Cough, smile. Cough, smile. Cough, smile.

So. I feel happy; I feel pressured to get well enough to work on the play today; maybe even wash my hair, which is truly horrifying to behold. It promises to be an interesting day.

Oh, also. I saw on Instagram this morning that Lukas Nelson (son of the very famous Willie), and Dhani Harrison (son of the famous George), Jakob Dylan (son of the indescribably famous Bob) and Adria Petty (daughter of Tom, who I heard today is no longer dead, thank God — wait, that was probably fake news). Anyway, all of these offspring of hugely famous songwriting men are involved somehow in Lukas Nelson covering a previously unreleased song of Tom Petty’s.

Okay, now. This clearly means that anyone in the Universe could cover a previously unreleased song of Tom Petty’s and I’ll be forced to buy it! Well, I already buy Lukas Nelson CDs, but come on. If Taylor Swift covers a previously unreleased song of Tom Petty’s I will be forced to refuse to listen to it, or to buy it. And how will I stand that??

Hey, though, that reminds me. A fellow blogger from Australia, a1000Mistakes, recently turned me onto Tropical Fuck Storm and I really like them!! And also regurgitator! So I leave you with some new favorite songs: You Let My Tyres Down, by Tropical Fuck Storm, and Weird Kind of Hard, by regurgitator.

Okay! Listen and enjoy, gang. Thanks for visiting. I love you so much! See ya.

Variations on a Most Lovely Theme

Do you notice how sometimes when you’re sick, you wake up and think, Hey I feel lots better today, and so you try to do a million things only to make yourself 10 times sicker than you were even the day before?

That was me yesterday. But because of that, I spent a lot of really spacey, sort of drug-induced dreaminess in bed this morning because I was incapable of doing anything else but just lie there for 5 hours, trying to drink coffee.

And I was thinking about my Lou Reed birthday post from yesterday, and thinking about that song Walk on the Wild Side and how much it meant to me when I was growing up, and how songs like that literally  helped get me to NYC – helped me find my way there.

I moved there when I was 20, in 1980, thinking I would stay one year and then move to L.A. But once I got to New York, it was like everything I ever dreamed life was supposed to be, and also a whole lot worse. So I stayed there for nearly 30 years.

I think of those years in NYC as “my life” and everything that came afterwards as basically just the stuff I need to do before I die. Well, I did fall in love recently and that might change things, change my take on the world. It’s too soon to know for sure but I guess we’ll see.

Anyway.  Loyal readers of this lofty blog know that pretty much the very instant I moved to NYC, I fell in love with an older man who turned out to be a hitman for the Mob and then I launched myself headlong into a pregnancy with him that devastated me. And in the middle of all that, John Lennon was killed, and he was truly one of my girlhood heroes.  All of this was, literally, within a month of my moving to NYC. Once you get NYC into your veins like that — and it was so easy to do back then; it was a whole other world then — you just can’t get it out of your system, really. I became a New Yorker, like, overnight.

In the mid-1980s, I joined the Visiting Nurse Services of NY as a volunteer, because of the AIDS crisis going on back then. I went into the homes of people in the last stages of AIDS and tried to help make their lives easier in anyway they needed until they died, which was usually right away. By the time they sent someone like me into someone’s home, it was sort of the death knell.

THEM: “You’re not a nurse.”

ME: “No, I’m not.”

THEM: “Who are you?”

ME: “I’m just here to help you with whatever you need from now on.”

One of my patients was an aging black pimp up in Harlem, who had this amazing apartment straight out of the 1920s, and a wife who was still working as a prostitute, who was part black and part Chinese, who looked & dressed like an aging dragon lady. (Yes, folks, from that slice of my reality, my now classic erotic novella Neptune & Surf was born.) That particular patient – a pimp who kept his wife turning tricks until the final moment – only wanted me to read to him from the Bible, which I did, until he died.

Another patient of mine lasted for quite a few months when they assigned me to him.  I was 27 at the time. You know, this kind of work is very confidential.  However, not only was this over 30 years ago, the patient’s Significant Other mentioned me at the funeral, so that was public, and so now I feel I want to go public, too.

That particular patient was the photographer, Peter Hujar. A gentle, warm, lovely man. A very talented photographer who documented so much of the NYC I lived in — and had gone to NYC to experience in the first place.  He had some truly famous, and infamous, photos framed and mounted on the walls of his modest apartment.

I bring all this up in connection to Lou Reed’s song, Walk on the Wild Side, because Peter Hujar took some iconic photos of men and drag queens from that era, including the men Lou sang about in that song.

When Peter first let me into his apartment that first day, I looked at all those photos hanging there on the walls and was stunned. I said, “Did you take all of these? I know these photos.” They were truly part of my life.

He was already so fragile by then, even though he would live a couple more months. But that day, he said to me, “You’re just perfect, you know that? I apologize for being so sick.”  In the early days of the AIDS crisis, the patients were basically treated like they were radioactive, because the disease was not understood yet but it was killing everybody. Most people back then would not get near anyone who was known to have AIDS. It was hard for the nurses to find enough volunteers. For some reason, I never had a fear of being around them. I saw them as people who needed help while they were dying and that fear was never going to be the right response when anyone needed help while they were dying.

Below are a couple photos Peter Hujar took. Click on them and they get larger. I’m guessing he also took photos of Holly Woodlawn, Joe Dallesandro, and the Sugar Plum Fairy (Joe Campbell), but you’d have to google all that.

Candy Darling on her deathbed. I saw this photo in Rolling Stone Magazine’s Random Notes when I was 14. At the time, I simply could not believe that she was a man. I never forgot this photo and I was stunned to learn that Peter was the photographer who had taken it.
Jackie Curtis at his own funeral in 1985. Another photo I saw long before I met Peter Hujar.
One of Peter Hujar’s self-portraits. This one is from 1976, 4 years before I moved to NYC. He looked pretty much exactly like this when I met him 11 years later, although he was painfully thin by then.

Yesterday, when I posted about how the song Walk on the Wild Side helped shape my life, making me who I am, I meant it on so many levels. Even though I’m almost 60 now, those very early days of mine in NYC seem like they truly happened just yesterday.

I’m not sure why so many gay men, drag queens, heroin addicts, gay alcoholic poets and painters, had such an enormous influence on who I was and who I became as a writer and as a woman, but they really did. A song like Walk on the Wild Side is part of my DNA now.

And I think that when people in Toronto (and sooner or later NYC), finally see the one-woman show I’ve been working on for 5 years now with Sandra Caldwell about her own life (The Guide to Being Fabulous), you’ll agree that the two of us meeting at all was pure destiny from the word go.

I was totally born to do this, to help bring her incredible story to the stage.  My play, Tell My Bones, about the painter Helen LaFrance that I wrote for Sandra, is a beautiful piece of theater that I want to share with the world. But being part of a play like The Guide to Being Fabulous is why I was born.

Better than Yesterday

And sometimes that’s all I can ask for, right? That today is better than yesterday.

I’m still sick but nowhere near as bad as I felt before.  (Plus, it’s good to know that you’re never too old to throw up! That’s sure some good news!)

I’m struggling to at least get my voice back because I have a conference call with someone in L.A. in 3 hours. As of right now, I cannot talk. So we”ll see how that goes.

It would have been Lou Reed’s birthday today, had he remained alive, which he did not. But, hence, the photo at the top there.

I really loved Lou Reed so much. What a songwriter. When I think of all the later songs he did that were just so good, I tend to forget absolute gems like Walk on the Wild Side. I do not want to forget gems like Walk on the Wild Side. I don’t want to be in a world where a song like that doesn’t exist anymore. It helped shape the person I became. And as difficult as that can be for me to digest on some days, most of the time, I really like the person I became.

My daddy cat is feeling lots better today, too. He’s frisky and back to being his naughty self.  So I guess that’s good.

I had better dreams last night, too. And I awoke feeling like I was able to forgive just about everybody. There’s a few key people that I don’t forgive so much as I just sigh and say, whatever, and move on because the degree to which they need to be perpetually forgiven astounds me.

Oh, and I forgave myself. Mostly for being too trusting, and for being too quick to always blame myself.  You know, sometimes other people are wrong. It may seem like a no-brainer for you to figure out, but it’s taken me a lifetime to understand that.  That sometimes the other person is just genuinely up to no good and they know it and I need to just accept that I can be too gullible.

I mentioned this guy back in December – JosephJames.  He’s a professional reader in London and he is just so good. He really helped me again last evening, on Instagram.  He pulled the worst card in the tarot deck: the 10 of swords. I hate that card. But his take on it was so  cool. “It’s time to take the knife out of your own back and put on your wings.”

Image result for 10 of swords

He said this based on the sunrise in the background.  That 10 swords in the back is just overkill already;  get up and start a new day.  He said to put on your angel wings and just be your own angel, and accept the apology for yourself that you were never given.

So early this morning, around 5am, I was finally able to forgive certain people because I decided to accept their apology — the ones they never actually gave me. Just forgive and move on. And I’m gonna try like hell to look at all of this in a different light that somehow sublimates me and takes away my victimhood.

(I’m being alerted that “victimhood” is not an actual word, gang, but whatever. On we go.)

Okay, I need to go back to bed until my conference call. So I’m outta here. Have a terrific Saturday, folks, wherever it takes you.  Thanks for being here. I love you!! See ya.

Holly came from Miami F.L.A.
Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A.
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side,
Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side.
Candy came from out on the island,
In the backroom she was everybody’s darling,
But she never lost her head
Even when she was giving head
She sayes, hey baby, take a walk on the wild side
Said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
And the colored girls go,
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Little Joe never once gave it away
Everybody had to pay and pay
A hustle here and a hustle there
New York City is the place where they said:
Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
I said hey Joe, take a walk on the wild side
Sugar Plum Fairy came and hit the streets
Lookin’ for soul food and a place to eat
Went to the Apollo
You should have seen him go, go, go
They said, hey Sugar, take a walk on the wild side
I said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side, alright, huh
Jackie is just speeding away
Thought she was James Dean for a day
Then I guess she had to crash
Valium would have helped that bash
She said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
I said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side
And the colored girls say
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Songwriters: Lou Reed
Walk on the Wild Side lyrics © 1972 Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Oh Jesus Here it Comes Again

I am, of course, referring to the dawn of a brand new day.

I feel like absolute garbage.  Respiratory gunk and a swollen throat — both stemming from that weird pas de deux that I did with my vacuum cleaner the other day. (See some sort of post below.)

I wish I could just go swim in the sea somewhere.  I have no idea if it’s true, but I always think that submerging oneself in saltwater – the ocean – will wash away everything that’s making it so you can’t breathe.

And of course it snowed again here during the night, so the thought of going swimming in the sea someplace where it’s hot oddly makes all this congestion garbage in my lungs today feel a lot worse.

I’m also wishing I could go down to some river somewhere and get a full-submersion baptism and have that dove of peace fly out of the top of my head, taking with it all the things that fuck me up in this world.

I’ve having so many distressing issues going on in my head at once these days that I just can’t deal with them. (I’m guessing that’s another reason why I can’t breathe right now.)

I had so many frustrating and just plain bad dreams last night, too. By anyone’s definition, my sleep was not restful. I know that I’m trying to come to an understanding about several different things that, frankly, are just plain impossible for me to figure out.

You know, like when you simply haven’t been dealt enough cards. It’s not that the cards I’ve been dealt are bad, necessarily, it’s that I feel I just don’t have enough cards in my hand to figure out how I’m supposed to play this hand — to live a better life right now.

In some ways — the plays, for instance — life is really going good. In other ways, things suck and I’m not sure how to make them not suck.  I know that forgiveness is key, but sometimes I get so darn tired of forgiving people. (ME: Why don’t you just do the right fucking thing for Christ’s sake?!)

I know; I’m a minister. That’s not a good sign. One of the reasons Jesus refuses to give me my own flock to lead around, I’m guessing!

I know that giving myself a break is also key, but I’ve never been very good at doing that. I’m always the first on my list to be merciless with, regardless of what the topic is.

So here we are, with another brand new day to try to get it right this time, and I’m just so fucking angry, disillusioned, frustrated — you name it; it’s not got a good feel to it but I’m feeling it anyway.

And my daddy cat is sick, too, the only cat in the colony that actually interacts with me, so I sure don’t want to lose him. Well, I don’t want to lose any of them. But I’m trying to get him to take his medicine so that he will start feeling better (ME: Do as I say, cat, and not as I do, because I’m feeling like garbage here, too.)

One happy thing. A record I ordered probably 6 months ago is finally supposed to arrive today. I have every single song on this 2- album set, yes I do! Most of the songs, I have on several different albums. But they have included one – yes one – song that was never released before, so naturally I had to buy the whole thing. They dropped the new song on YouTube the other day, but I refused to listen to it. If it’s the only song on the collection that I haven’t heard yet, I want to put it off as long as possible.

Image result for tom petty best of everything

(Another thing I’m really getting sick and tired of is Tom Petty being dead. Enough of that already, okay? Get up, dude! It’s not funny anymore.)

Jesus.

Brain dead but still walking around!

Yes, that would describe moi yesterday.

No, not the gutter girl part — the brain dead part! Thank you very much.

I spent several days writing up some promo materials that Sandra needed for the Helen LaFrance play (Tell My Bones). And as is par for the course, Sandra’s brief text said she needed  something simple, but then it turned out that she needed a whole lot more than something simple, and a couple hours of work turned into several days of work just to create a 3-page promo.

But it’s done now and off, and now I’m back to scaling the play down to a 30-minute staged reading version. Not an easy thing to do.

I’m trying to sort of internalize the director’s notes, and trying to get a feel for his “vision” for the reading. And in the process of trying to do that – a process of psychic phenomena — I realized that I had become brain dead.

I decided that what I needed was some really strong coffee. That brings most brains quickly back from the dead, but all that it made me do was suddenly vacuum the whole house.

I have one of those bag-less vacuum cleaners, where you remove the center thingy and then click open the bottom and empty the contents directly into the trash.

Yesterday, it worked in a different way. I removed the center thingy and the bottom clicked open  on its own and deposited a whole house full of dust and dirt and cat hair and who-knows-what-all filth into a nice billowing pile in the center of my family room carpeting.

When you’re wired on really strong coffee, it’s hard not to lose your mind. Luckily, I was already brain dead, so I looked at it and said, “You’re kidding me, right?” I had to vacuum up the whole darn thing again. I was covered in dust, and I’m allergic to dust. So then I had to drop everything, throw my clothes in the wash and take a shower. By the time I was sitting in front of the play again, I was even more brain dead than before and really only capable of staring.

I’m hoping that today will be more fruitful. I’m steering clear of strong coffee, for one thing. Just let the house vacuum itself from now on.

Life is just weird, isn’t it? The brain works when it wants to work. And stares the rest of the time.

Okay, on that lofty note! I’m going back to bed!! Oops! I meant: I’m gonna get crackin’ around here. See ya, gang! I love you and thanks for visiting.

The world of author Marilyn Jaye Lewis