Friday, May 15, 2015

Estate Sale.

On his way to the train, C saw a sign on the door of the building next door announcing an estate sale today. He texted me to ask if I wanted to walk down and see if there was anything we could use.

Things I bought:

A navy blue raincoat, 60's style with a zip-out lining.
A small wood mid-century picture frame.

Things I saw:

Piles of vinyl records, mostly classical and opera with a few Broadway soundtracks (South Pacific, Fiddler) all in very good shape.
Lots of very old and worn out kitchen stuff: pots and pans, dinnerware.
A pulp paperback novel, House of Dolls, about a Jewish girl held captive by Nazis (I think).
A very dusty hardback copy of The Well of Loneliness.
What looked like a college yearbook, 1928, in German.
A copy of the Life magazine declaring on the cover Israel's victory in the 6-day war.
A lot of beat to shit furniture.
Threadbare carpet in every room, some of it repaired with duct tape.
About 15 60's-style golf jackets, all different colors.
A big pile of ladies' scarves, all different colors and patterns from 40s through 70s styles.

Things I would have bought if I'd had more cash with me:

A couple of those golf jackets.
A set of very pretty cordial glasses.
A set of stainless steel canisters with Bakelite handles (flour, sugar, coffee, tea).
2 never-used kitchen towels with touristy designs on them in French.
That House of Dolls book.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Is It News That Gays Are Boring?

I don't want to pick on David Hockney, one of my favorite painters, he's certainly not the only one saying this, but I'm getting more and more skeptical of this narrative. I know I've contributed to it, but it's seeming less and less correct as we watch the mainstreaming of homosexuality play out, marriage and kids and every other TV show about us now. I'm starting to think the whole "gays are boring now" complaint distorts and distracts from what's really happening, which is the death of bohemia, or outsiderness. Because now, like "alternative" became just another commercial radio format, being an outsider is just another brand.

Disruptive is the buzzword now. But it's always used in the context of some big corporation, like Apple, trying to find a way to sell more of something and make more money. What do you have to do, or believe, or dress like, to be actually disruptive now? Who is a threat anymore? Does anyone do anything radical anymore that doesn't get put on a t-shirt or made into a commercial to sell cars?

It's kind of undeniable that "our culture" -- radical sex, gender play, confrontational politics -- has been, like a roll of film (what's that?), bleached and dulled by exposure to daylight. (I'm talking about gay bars as event spaces for bachelorette parties.) But -- and I say this with the self-caveat that all these things are most definitely inextricably intertwined -- it looks to me like this is less a function of increased acceptance of non-heterosexual people and our emulation of "normal life" than it is just another result of the bulldozer of corporate control of modes of expression, of urban and suburban real estate, of the landscape of our dreams.

The disappearance of sleazy drag bars is exactly analogous to the disappearance of independent book stores. Grindr is Amazon.

I don't think gays got boring. Weren't there always boring gay people? They just used to stay in the closet and live miserable lives making their wives and children miserable along with them. (Which may be an interesting scenario, for a play or novel, for example, but you'd have a hard time convincing me that it's better for the people involved.) There have always been homosexuals with no particular urge to move to a bombed-out inner city neighborhood, dumpster dive, and make political art. It's just that now those folks can marry someone of their own sex, have test tube babies with a surrogate mother, and, well, they can't be Boy Scout leaders, but that's probably not too far down the pike, and lesbians can be den mothers, can't they?

I guess the natural conclusion here, if I follow my logic, is that we're not witnessing just the death of gay culture but the death of popular (in the sense of "of the people") culture in general, but I'm not sure I'm ready to follow my logic, at least not today.