A Jockstrap is Always In Vogue

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This site has long celebrated the jockstrap, both as functional sports attire and object of art, but every now and then someone comes along to elevate it with their own personal ass-stamp. Such is the case with Sean Avery’s recent Instagram shot that shows his butt perfectly framed with the straps of a jock. It took the internet by storm this past week, and was a reminder that the jockstrap never goes out of style.

Mr. Avery certainly has the goods to go with the frame, but he’s not the only celebrity to make the most of those skimpy straps. He is, however, the only one to do so in such blatant pandering to the gay internet, and for that he gets a lot of applause.

Chord Overstreet dared to wear a jockstrap, but not in the traditional manner. While I’m all for putting a different twist on things, some items just shouldn’t be put on your face. But who am I to talk?

Jean Claude Van Damme, back in his prime, was no stranger to strutting his stuff in the unabashed European style that favored skimpy attire and Speedos. Here he is in a regular white jockstrap and smile.

Making a big jockstrap splash in the 80′s were heart-throbs Rob Lowe and Richard Gere, both of whom pulled those straps on and shook their booties until all of America was weak in the knees.

Finally, bringing up the beautiful rear, is Scott Herman, fitness guru and internet sensation. Never has so much excitement been conjured by so little clothing. Well, almost never.

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A Rose Cocktail

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Though Andy favors Fresh Market for grocery shopping, I like Whole Foods a little bit more – they’ve got more interesting items, even if both places cost as much as a black-market baby (which I’m told is illegal anyway). Sometimes, as in the case of a bottle of rose water, I’ll buy something without a clear idea of how to use it, then keep it secreted in an out-of-reach cupboard until the proper moment presents itself. That’s what happened here, so when we were having guests over and the summer night called for an indulgent cocktail, I looked up this rose concoction and modified it a bit for what I had on hand.

It’s a bit sweeter than I normally prefer, but most people don’t like things as dry as I do, so it went over well. The fresh lemon cuts it a bit; thank goodness for tart citrus.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. elderflower liqueur
  • 1 oz. simple rose syrup
  • Strained juice of ½ small lemon (modify to taste)
  • Dash of rose water
  • 1 rose petal for garnish

To make the simple rose syrup, I boiled two cups of sugar with one cup water, with a tablespoon or two of rose water. It fills the kitchen with the essence of rose, so get ready for a happy olfactory experience that reeks of early summer.

Shake ingredients with ice, let sit for a bit (for once, a bit of melted ice is a good thing, blunting both the sharper and sweeter edges) then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a rose petal. That may seem a bit precious, but it makes all the damn difference. Trust.

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Hunk of the Day: Dustin Yellin

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A champion of the quirky and the unconventional, I’ll always do my best to push the acceptance of alternative types of beauty, male and otherwise. To that end, today’s Hunk of the Day is artist Dustin Yellin, who has displayed a propensity for injecting nudity into his art, whether in person or in photos or other methods of representation. I can appreciate and marvel at how it is both an integral component to his oeuvre, as well as a jarring and sometimes dissident aspect that must be overcome. That’s the best form of art for me – the kind that is uneasily beautiful, the kind that sits just slightly askew of the gorgeous. Without that sort of challenging prism, there’s a lot less color to the world. Thanks to Mr. Yellin for making it all pop.

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The Eyes of Iris

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You have to look in the mirror and see yourself. If it feels good, then I know it’s for me. I don’t dress to be stared at, I dress for myself. ~ Iris Apfel

She is a lady after my own heart. With a style all her own, an attitude that defied the expected and surpassed the delighted, Iris Apfel is a fashion icon in a world where true icons are fewer and further between. She’s made a career of wearing what she liked, and damn those who didn’t see the genius in it. It can be a lonely place, stepping outside of the mainstream notions of pretty or appropriate, but if she felt such loneliness she turned it into empowerment. It’s only right that one of the directors of ‘Grey Gardens’ – Albert Maysles – saw fit to do a documentary on Ms. Apfel. She possesses similar qualities to the ladies who made ‘Grey Gardens’ such a powerful film – a testament to the majesty of the unique, the righteousness of the individual, the courage of those who defy the tried and tread. ‘Iris’ was released a few months ago to great acclaim, and since that time I’ve been trying to fit it into the schedule.

This weekend, after missing out on showings in Boston and New York, I’ll be traveling to Portland, Maine to see it. There are only a few artists for whom I would travel this far – Madonna and director Albert Maysles are two of those few. Ms. Apfel herself is another, and she is nothing if not a walking work of art. A fearless, funny, fantastic fashionista who has turned her life into a living piece of beauty. Her clothes are flashy, her accessories are over-the-top, and her glasses are iconic, but it’s her spirit that really soars, catapulting the zest she feels for the colorful into certifiable inspiration, gloriously pure and incandescent.

Her indefatigable spirit and extensive bracelets and necklaces became a sort of armor, deflecting criticism and catty comments in the most gorgeous manner. Some days, I don’t find it easy to access that kind of power. Ms. Apfel somehow always managed to conjure it, and it’s a commendable quality to not care what anyone else thinks. (At my best, I’m getting close.)

I was never hurt by what anybody said about my clothes, because I dress to please myself. If somebody doesn’t like what I’m wearing, it’s their problem, not mine ~ Iris Apfel

Those oversized buggy eyeglasses, those ropes and ropes of beads, those rows and rows of bracelets, those insanely varied fabrics – they come together in the most brazen and bizarrely beautiful manner, connected by the brilliant visionary whose sole guiding impetus was a love for the new and the colorful. She’s also not afraid to try things out. Too many of us play it safe with our fashion choices, afraid to move beyond basic black or conservative neutrals, afraid it might make us look foolish – and though there is comfort in safety, there is no possibility to thrill. I admire someone who takes that chance to excite much more than someone who plays it safe and pretty.

I’m a hopeless romantic. I buy things because I fall in love with them. I never buy anything just because it’s valuable. My husband used to say I look at a piece of fabric and listen to the threads. It tells me a story. It sings me a song. I have to get a physical reaction when I buy something. A coup de foudre – a bolt of lightning. It’s fun to get knocked out that way! ~ Iris Apfel

In her 90′s, she is, perhaps, at the height of her power and influence, a living testament to the wisdom and style that can only be gained with age. It’s a slap in the face to the ageist, youth-centric way the world has always gone. It’s also a unique stand of defiance against the traditional and the typical, because as she freely admits, she never felt very pretty. Most of us who don’t feel very pretty make up for it in other ways. Maybe there’s an element of a mask to it all, maybe it’s a shield – a bright and bauble-filled sparkling shield – but in a way, it’s much deeper than that, transcending the superficial and turning the notion of fashion into a way of life. A fabulous way of life.

If you can’t be pretty, you have to learn to make yourself attractive. I found that all the pretty girls I went to high school with came to middle age as frumps, because they just got by with their pretty faces, so they never developed anything. They never learned how to be interesting. But if you are bereft of certain things, you have to make up for them in certain ways. Don’t you think? ~ Iris Apfel

Fashion you can buy, but style you possess. The key to style is learning who you are, which takes years. There’s no how-to road map to style. It’s about self-expression and, above all, attitude. ~ Iris Apfel

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Hunk of the Day: Daron Cruickshank

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While he’s not the first Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial artist to be featured as a Hunk of the Day, Daron Cruickshank is definitely the most naked. I won’t post the full photos because we don’t do full-frontal male nudity here (and don’t pretend to be surprised). Besides, I’m not going to do the hard work for you – look it up yourself. (Sorry, I just got back from a peaceful extended birthday weekend in Boston and I’m a little cranky.) Anyway, congrats to Mr. Cruickshank!

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Floral Incidentals

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You’ve seen them everywhere, but probably never gave much thought or notice to them. They’re there when you arrive, and there when you leave, and they share your most intimate restaurant moments: listening in, nodding their pretty little heads, and remaining absolutely mum long after you’ve departed with your dishy dining mate. They are the little bouquets of flowers that adorn many restaurant tables. Generally made up of a single rose or, far worse, some carnations or alstroemeria, they more often than not strike me as sad and failed attempts at bringing the idea of beauty into an eating space, while not actually providing any.

Occasionally, though, they do work, and mostly by accident. When the happy coupling such as the one featured here occurs, my heart gets a little giddy – as much for the perfection and simplicity of such beauty as for the unexpected nature of the chance encounter. We get so little, sometimes, that when it’s there, even in the tiniest of bouquets, it means something more.

These are from the Columbus Avenue location of House of Siam, where the goodness of the Thai dishes is just as vibrant and delicious as this little floral grouping.

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Hunk of the Day: Nicholas Clayton

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By the looks of him, Nicholas Clayton spends a lot of time at the gym. But even his buff body probably didn’t want to spend the entire night there, which seemed to be how things might play out after he got locked into a fitness center in Florida recently. He posted a video of it, which is making the internet rounds, as much for the absurdity of his predicament as for his handsome mug. Stranger things have brought hunks to this page, but not many. Congrats to Mr. Clayton for keeping his cool, and keeping things hot.

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Revisiting Ryan Phillippe at 40

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Seeing as how I’ve just joined the 40-and-over club, I’ve been ruminating on how other men are handling the quad-decade mark, so when these photos of a 40-year-old Ryan Phillippe showed up online, I felt a little relief at being in such hot and sexy company. Though I’m woefully aware of being a far cry from the shape that Mr. Phillippe has crafted for himself at the four-decade mark, but he’s definitely an inspiration (and very deservedly a former Hunk of the Day). This is the sort of thing that people post on their refrigerator to deter them from sneaking a gallon of ice cream in the heat of the night. I’ve got a year to work such magic…

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Hunk of the Day: Jacob McCaslin

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The process of choosing a Hunk of the Day is haphazard and random at best. There is no scientific method involved in such sexy madness. Mostly, it’s whatever crosses my FaceBook or Twitter feeds. Such was the instance in the selection of Jacob McCaslin as Hunk of the Day. I’d seen his handsome face on a photo promoting his appearance at the Trophy Room in Boston. I haven’t been there since it was Fritz, and from all indications I’ve been missing some good things (and not just the killer cocktails).

The best part of this hunk feature is that he already has a website delineating his accomplishments, so my work in writing this has been whittled down to this intro. Check out excerpts from his bio below:

Jacob McCaslin is an award winning vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. While only 19 years old, and having never taken any music lessons, he is recognized as an advanced guitarist by respectable guitar players and dubbed a gifted singer by vocal instructors.

He received a songwriting scholarship from Berklee College of Music. Jacob has also been recognized for his songwriting abilities by winning KTUB’s One Song One Chance songwriting competition in 2011. Winning One Song gave Jacob McCaslin and his band at the time, Jacob McCaslin & Roll the Credits the opportunity to record an EP. In May of 2012, the band released Walk a Mile – EP, which is now available on iTunes. The Limited Edition version, which includes bonus tracks, behind the scenes footage, as well as remastered tracks, is available exclusively at jacobmccaslin.bandcamp.com.

After the success of the Walk a Mile EP and the summer tour, in which a majority of shows were primarily centered around the Seattle area, the band was able to afford their own recording equipment and began tracking songs for their future album. In addition to producing their own songs, Jacob McCaslin and Colton Stapper started Stapper Studios, a mobile recording company which focused on bring professional recording quality to local artists. As Colton and Jacob both engineered all the projects, Jacob also mixed/mastered everything.

In the start of 2013, the band announced that the album, Cautionary Tales, was being recorded and produced and would be released soon, and a hiatus from performing shows would be initiated.

Shortly after announcing the band’s hiatus, the single, and cover of Mama’s Gun’s, ‘Get a High’ was released on YouTube and Bandcamp for free. Jacob McCaslin & Roll the Credits received an amazing response and the video grew very popular, reaching 50,000 views within the first 2 weeks of being released. After the success of ‘Get a High,’ the band focused on recording the rest of the album. In September 2013, the band released ‘Cautionary Tales,’ exclusively on BandCamp.

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A Birthday Recap, A Day Late

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Ensconced in the Judy Garland Suite of the Lenox Hotel on my 40th birthday, I am in no position to worry about blogging or updating this website, so I’m pre-populating posts such as this one, in which a look back over the previous lovely week will have to suffice until my return to the hum-drum existence to which I’ve instantly become unaccustomed. While we normally do the weekly recap on a Monday, it’s a day late because of birthday shenanigans. On with the show…

Setting the Pace was Hunk of the Day Lee. Fellow quirky actor Miles Teller kept it going.

One of the first official tour stops was Cape Cod, but even better than that was the introduction of The Brits ~ cherished friends of JoJo who quickly became cherished in my heart as well. She has a knack of making people feel like they belong.

Summer flavors are better than any other.

Kelly Kilpatrick shows off his naked man butt for his Hunk of the Day debut.

Sumer was blooming its head off.

Putting the wood in Freddie Woodward.

In real time we’re just ending it now, but this is where it all began.

Tom Daley’s bulge is beautiful in burgundy.

Beauty’s where you find it, and sometimes it whispers.

Manchester hunk and ball-master Luke Shaw.

The rousing cry of the return of a rebel.

A Madonna Timeline to coincide with the eve of a birthday.

I turned 40. Fucking 40. And I think I’m gonna like it here.

Happy Ass Ending, because some things never change.

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Birthday Boy, Birthday Suit

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When Madonna was putting out her ‘Sex’ book at the ripe old age of 36, someone asked her if she’d stop taking her clothes off for pictures when she was 40. True to form, Madonna balked then, and judging from the set of topless photos released this past spring when she was 56, I’d say she’s still balking now. However, much as I’d like to be, I’m not Madonna – and I don’t have the millions of dollars at hand to afford the trainers and chefs and time that would enable a honing of my body into such pristine form. For that reason, posing nude into my 40’s doesn’t seem like the best idea.

Besides, the idea of evolution, upon which this website was founded way back in 2003, forms the basis for everything I do here. Change is cause for celebration. New things are welcomed and embraced. If they work, they can stay, if they don’t we move on. But one thing I can’t abide is stagnation. Dullness. Repetition and more of the same. So when the notion of MORE nude photos of my already-overexposed naked ass reared its head, I began to wonder if we haven’t played that hand enough. How does one go on making male nudity interesting and fresh and new?

You’ve seen it all before,

You’ve seen it all before,

You’ve seen it all before

There’s also the well-intended advice and exasperated chatter of those who claim that at my age it may be time to tone things down, to mature with grace and dignity (and covered head-to-toe in fabric of some sort). If I’ve learned anything in 40 years, it’s that I shouldn’t be so quick to shut down ideas that at first glance appear different or oppositional to mine. To that end, I’ve given it some thought and put in some considerate deliberation, and I’ve come to a conclusion:

Here’s my naked ass.

My 40-year-old naked ass.

If you don’t like it, I probably didn’t invite you to this pool party.

Be gone before someone does a cannonball on you.

All bad punning aside, I’m 40 years old, and I can do what I want. For a spell of 90 degree days, I find a bit of skinny-dipping a refreshing way to end the afternoon. It’s still exciting. It’s still invigorating. And as long as I’m enjoying it, I’m going to share it.

BOOM.

BAM.

POW.

For your end, you are free to avoid this space if you don’t want to take the chance of encountering naked booty. Forewarned is fairwarned, and this place is not always safe for children or work. Since I abhor both, it’s not an issue for me.

And now, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my birthday spankings.

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My 40th Birthday

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Holy fuck, I’m 40. In what crazy-ass time-warped universe could I possibly be 40 years old? I was just 29 a few days ago… In some ways it’s unthinkable, in some ways it’s inevitable, but mostly the act of turning 40 is, for me, uneventful. It’s never been the number that’s bothered me. There are deeper forces than some arbitrary milepost at work, and that’s where my head is at right now.

‘The Big Chill’ was on television the other day, and watching that when you’re about to turn 40 is akin to watching ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ when you’re about to turn 21 (I managed to do both, with various emotional landmines exploding around me). The first time I saw ‘The Big Chill’ I found it drab and dull, but what was once a big bore suddenly became relevant and relatable. The set-up is slightly contrived, but it provides the perfect backdrop for the ruminations of incontrovertible middle-age: following the suicide of one of their college friends, a group gathers and finds their lives far from where they thought they’d be. Here was a group of people who found themselves losing their way and grappling with the realization that while the time for dreaming went on forever, the time for action and for doing anything may have already passed. There’s a coldness to this, and a hardening of the heart that, once begun, is very difficult to slow or stop.

 

“I haven’t met

that many happy people

 in my life.

How do they act?”

~ The Big Chill

I’ve felt that chill recently. I don’t know if it’s turning 40, or simply the ripening of my situation. I’ve been with a loving gentleman since 2000, I’ve worked my way up to a decent position at work (after starting out as a Grade 5 Data Entry Machine Operator almost a decade and a half ago), I have a wonderful support group of close friends who’ve stayed with me for the better part of several decades, and I’ve been generally healthy for most of it. In so many ways, I have so much. Yet there’s been a gradual erosion of the spark and jolt of feeling alive, of new experiences and new places. I find myself looking back at previous periods of life and thinking how much more colorful and exciting they were, how much more passion and excitement and hope buzzed with the birth of each day.

Unused to such nostalgia, I was surprised by the worry and weight that was slowly building. There was a sense of general ennui, to the point of madness, in what followed a long, gentle, barely-discernible slope of sadness. Yet for all of that, I haven’t done much about it. I’ve been complacent, unable to muster the real ambition and drive to do anything other than vaguely complain or whine on occasion, finding substitute thrills in clothing or cologne or the same old trips to the same old places. I’ve wondered about those friends from high school and college, as I watch them expand their families on FaceBook, as I hear from them on birthdays, as we move further and further away from our youth, and from each other. I hope they are finding their own happiness.

“I just love you all so much. I know that sounds gross, doesn’t it? I feel like I was at my best when I was with you people.” ~ The Big Chill

Then I think the terrifying thought: what if it meant more to me than to them? What if everything I’ve ever believed in was a minor footnote in their lives? It’s so hard to tell whether we matter – whether we really and truly matter. A crippling doubt envelops everything then, and an insatiable insecurity – never quelled, never satisfied, never conquered – over-rides all the good I’ve ever tried to do in this world, and suddenly it all feels so pointless. We want so much to mean something to somebody. Anybody.

“A long time ago we knew each other for a short period of time; you don’t know anything about me. It was easy back then. No one had a cushier berth than we did. It’s not surprising our friendship could survive that. It’s only out there in the real world that it gets tough.” ~ The Big Chill

I have to believe that it still matters, that we still matter, that what we went through together still means something, still holds a place of significance in our hearts. I have to believe that love doesn’t just disappear, doesn’t fade away even when time and place and circumstance keep us apart. I have to believe that even in the smallest, most mundane motions of a day there is meaning and magnitude and magnificence. If we don’t believe in that, if we don’t believe in something…

“Wise up, folks. We’re all alone out there and tomorrow we’re going out there again.” ~ The Big Chill

I don’t want to think that we’re alone. As much as I love my solitude, and as well as I do forging my own way, I don’t ever want to feel that I’m truly alone. I also don’t want to feel like nothing matters. If I’m dramatic or high-strung or over-the-top, let me be that way. The opposite is apathy. There’s nothing more cruel and damaging to the human spirit than someone who just doesn’t give a shit. That kind of coldness can crush the happiest soul.

And so I greet 40 with gleeful defiance and happy ownership of everything I’ve done up until now, and everything I have yet to do. I will still be here. I will write, and I will take pictures, and I will read and garden and sing along to Madonna songs as loud as I like. I’ve done it since I was a child, I’ve done it as an adult, and I’ll do it until the day I die. I’m taking all the foolish baggage that comes with turning 40 and turning it into something to signify the start of everything. We are far from done here – and we always will be.

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The Madonna Timeline: Song #113 – ‘Rebel Heart’ – Right Now

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{Note: The Madonna Timeline is an ongoing feature, where I put the iPod on shuffle, and write a little anecdote on whatever was going on in my life when that Madonna song was released and/or came to prominence in my mind.}

[On the eve of my 40th birthday, a most-fitting Madonna Timeline: the title track to her latest album (and current tour) ~ 'Rebel Heart.' The demo leaked early, and remains, in my humble opinion, the superior version, but I’ll include the more acoustic and stripped-down album version at the end, as that’s almost as good.]

When Madonna turned 40, or shortly before or after, she delved into yoga and put out her magnificent (and yet-to-be-topped) album ‘Ray of Light.’ According to a New York Times interview at the time, yoga had brought about a profound transformation in the once-material now-ethereal girl. At one yoga session she once found herself in a particularly strenuous pose and suddenly just started crying, letting out emotional baggage she’d been carrying for 40 years. I’ve always been struck by that image, and I’ve since wondered what will come of me when I hit 40. I guess we’re about to find out. Will the torrents of four decades of pain be released or relieved? Will I heave forth some cleansing expulsion of pent-up sadness or anger or fear? Will I rejoice in a new freedom? Somehow, I don’t think it will be as dramatic as all that. It’s just another day, and a Monday at that. Still, like it or not, the number means something, even if it’s been impressed upon us by a society hungry for drama and terrified of aging.

I LIVED MY LIFE LIKE A MASOCHIST 

HEARING MY FATHER SAY, “TOLD YOU SO, TOLD YOU SO.

WHY CAN’T YOU BE LIKE THE OTHER GIRLS?”

I SAID, “OH NO, THAT’S NOT ME,

AND I DON’T THINK THAT IT’LL EVER BE.”

The steady stream of water falls hot from the shower head. I stand there in the wet, stilled suddenly by the woman who has never failed to thrill me, and thirty years into her storied career the words and music touch me like the very first time. As her new song sounds brilliantly against the tile of the bathroom, I stop in my scrubbing, look through watery eyes, and simply listen. So much of my shower and car music is Madonna, but most of the time it’s background noise. Far more intent on testing out a new Aveda body wash or jockeying the Ice Blue Show Queen out of a bottleneck situation, I hear her, but don’t always listen. On this night, I do. Standing there, naked and quiet, I listen to ‘Rebel Heart’ while water surrounds me. Forget a reinvention, this is a rebirth. Thirty-nine years into my life, it feels like a baptism.

Her voice reveals further shades of vulnerability, with an underlying resilience that has allowed her to survive, and thrive, this far into an entertainment career, unrivaled by almost everyone. In ‘Rebel Heart’ she was a little girl, a grown woman, and the very sensitive human who registered hurt and love in ways both wizened and misunderstood.

THOUGHT I BELONGED TO A DIFFERENT TRIBE

WALKING ALONE, NEVER SATISFIED, SATISFIED 

TRIED TO FIT IN BUT IT WASN’T ME, 

I SAID, “OH NO, I WANT MORE,

THAT’S NOT WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR.” 

It is just another number, and tomorrow is just another day, yet there is an albatross of significance to the person turning forty years old. Society has largely assembled such an onus, creating a false notion of anxiety upon hitting the much-maligned milestone. Some, like Madonna, have pushed back against such limitations, railing in opposition to the notion of the prim, proper, and age-appropriate – subjective terms at best, ageist and elitist at worst.

In that respect, it is not the number that scares me. It’s the question of whether I’m where I want to be, four decades into this journey. That’s a question that has plagued me since I was first cognizant, and I hope it bothers me until the day I die.

SO I TOOK THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED BY AND I BARELY MADE IT OUT ALIVE

THROUGH THE DARKNESS SOMEHOW I SURVIVED

TOUGH LOVE – I KNEW IT FROM THE START, DEEP DOWN IN THE DEPTH OF MY REBEL HEART.

During my freshman year at Brandeis, I took an Introduction to Astronomy course. I thought it would be all stars and moons and romantic dreamy prose, so when it turned out to be mostly physics and difficult calculations, I was less than thrilled. The scope of it, however, was impressive, and on clear November nights, we’d ascend to the top of the science building and view the skies through telescopes and binoculars, and begin to feel just how large the universe was. Up until then I’d eyed my professor’s unruly and unkempt beard with disdain, judging his soiled jeans and dilapidated belt with profound displeasure. Now, I realized something. It wasn’t that he didn’t care. He simply knew it didn’t matter. Not when other worlds expanded ad infinitum, not when we were smaller than specks of dust in both time and distance.

Whenever these big-picture conundrums rear their weighty, philosophical heads, I panic a bit. There’s nothing reassuring about being nothing, and it’s frightening to think about how minute our place in this world is. To combat that, part of my existence has been dedicated to making myself seem larger-than-life. Maybe Madonna does that subconsciously too. It’s a fear of oblivion, a fear of not being known, a fear of not mattering. ‘Rebel Heart’ might be her way of reassuring us, and herself, that it’s ok. We did what we had to do to survive, to feel safe and secure and prominent when the reality of the universe was doing everything it could to make us feel small and insignificant. We acted out, we dressed outrageously, we thrashed our bodies and brains to excesses of emotion just to leave an effect, an impression. We loved ourselves because sometimes it felt like no one else in the world did, and even if we were faking it, there was truth and loneliness and hope in that.

 

I’VE SPENT SOME TIME AS A NARCISSIST,

HEARING THE OTHERS SAY,

“LOOK AT YOU, LOOK AT YOU!

TRYING TO BE SO PROVOCATIVE.”

I SAID, “OH YEAH, THAT WAS ME.

ALL THE THINGS I DID

JUST TO BE SEEN.”

At times of feeling unseen and small, when the universe expands in terrifyingly exponential form – unending and beyond the scope of my limited comprehension – I try to shrink the view, to narrow my focus on the most minute particle I can hold in my hand. There may be something to this theory of relativity after all. A ragged cube of salt, a jagged piece of sand, an oblong grain of rice, or a seed in a sea of thousands of seeds – there is comfort in carrying the whole of their existence in the wrinkled landscape of an upturned palm. I limit my gaze to a single coneflower, and follow the circles to its very center, or blow off all but a single parachute of a dandelion seed.

A drop of water joins another, collecting en masse, running into tiny rivulets, gaining in volume, rushing into small streams, raging into rivers, surging into seas, overflowing into oceans and finding their sunlit way into the sky again, in sunbeams transporting them back to the clouds, from which they will fall again. The push and pull, the rise and fall, the ebb and flow – it begins and ends and begins again.

OUTGROWN MY PAST AND I’VE SHED MY SKIN, LETTING IT GO AND I’LL START AGAIN, START AGAIN

NEVER LOOK BACK, IT’S A WASTE OF TIME

I SAID, ‘OH YEAH, THIS IS ME, AND I’M RIGHT HERE WHERE I WANNA BE.”

I SAID, ‘HELL YEAH! THIS IS ME, RIGHT WHERE I’M SUPPOSED TO BE.”

Above me, the shower spurts more hot water over my head. It runs down my body, this body that has grown around me for almost forty years, that has carried and cushioned me from a hard world. Here, a scar on my shoulder from when I scraped the rough bottom of my parents’ pool – there, above my knee, a recent red welt from where a bamboo stake pierced the skin in an over-zealous pruning expedition. I watch a drop of water travel down from my chest, pausing for some literal navel gazing around the spot where they cut me off from my mother, and follow it as it drips off the tip of my sex, landing on my toe and trickling away down the drain. I stare down at the glistening, damp patch of hair surrounding where I’d create life if ever I were to have a child. I know now, and I’ve known all my life, that I will never use it for that purpose. I won’t have children. Turning forty won’t change my thoughts on that, but it does cause pause, and wonder. It also brings up the prospect of mortality looming on a distant horizon. I’m probably about halfway there. What, if anything, will I leave behind?

 

SO I TOOK THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED BY

AND I BARELY MADE IT OUT ALIVE

THROUGH THE DARKNESS SOMEHOW I SURVIVED

TOUGH LOVE – I KNEW IT FROM THE START

DEEP DOWN IN MY REBEL HEART 

I’ve tried different ways of leaving a legacy, desperate attempts at not being forgotten – attention-getting antics, doing something or wearing something or writing something that wants only to be remembered. I won’t have anyone who will tell my stories later on, just what exists here, in this virtual online realm, a ghost until my host stops receiving payments, and then a page that cannot be located. One day I may only be an Error – Not Found. Then will I truly be gone? I don’t know. I don’t know how dark that place may be.

Until that darkness arrives, however, I will be here. Even if it’s futile, I’ll go down fighting. I will do my best to display a galvanized compassion, to uphold a nobility that may not even count for much in this world. Even if it doesn’t matter to anyone else, it matters to me. Maybe these words will live on, maybe they won’t, but for now, for this day and night, I am here. You are here. We are here, and we are together.

The shower stops. The song ends. I wipe the water off of my face. Tomorrow I will be 40.

Madonna has said that ‘Rebel Heart’ is the embodiment of two sides of her personality – the rebellious controversial part, and the romantic softer side. It’s a fitting juxtaposition: a warrior is nothing without heart, and a heart cannot beat without some protection. It seems both strange and inevitable that thirty years into her game, and one day short of forty years into my life, she has become the woman warrior forging the way to the future – unstoppable, heroic, and brave.

SO I TOOK THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED BY AND I BARELY MADE IT OUT ALIVE

THROUGH THE DARKNESS SOMEHOW I SURVIVED

TOUGH LOVE – I KNEW IT FROM THE START, DEEP DOWN IN THE DEPTH OF MY REBEL HEART.

IN MY REBEL HEART… IN MY REBEL HEART.

SONG #113 – ‘Rebel Heart’ – Right Now

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The Rebel Returns

mad bday 0091

It’s been a long stretch since the last Madonna Timeline, but today she returns in grand form with the title track from her latest album, ‘Rebel Heart.’ It’s a rather special entry, coming on the eve of my 40th birthday – a perfectly-timed arrival for a milestone that often triggers some introspective reflection. I don’t quite intend to have a nervous breakdown over it, but you never know how such things will play out. In fact, in writing the new timeline, and my birthday post, there may have been a mini-drama-meltdown, but I’m still here so it didn’t end completely badly.

As for Madonna, she’s nearing the opening of her ‘Rebel Heart Tour’ and there is electric excitement in the air. For today, though, a little litany of some of the more meaningful timeline entries that have moved me the most over the years, starting with my favorite Madonna song, ‘Drowned World/Substitute for Love.’

One of the most beautiful and heartfelt songs she has ever written, and the one that turned me into a super-fan, is ‘Promise to Try.’ I liked it so much I even toyed with the idea of using it as my yearbook quote: I fought to be so strong, I guess you knew I was afraid you’d go away too.

Even in her quieter songs, she still manages to make an impression, as heard in 1994’s ‘I’ll Remember’ – a song that snuck up on me and captured a moment of brittleness.

Along those lines, and going back even further, ‘Crazy For You’ made a distinct and memorable influence upon my boyhood, resonating with a longing that would last through the years as I tried so hard to control my heart.

I’ve been on the verge of disowning my behavior and countenance during the obsessive time that ‘You Must Love Me’ came out, but it’s part of the history, part of the timeline, and part of the nonsense that made me into what I am today. Be careful of being too quick to alter the past. Everything has happened for a reason. ‘You’ll See.’

Even if you ‘Live to Tell’ there are times you may feel like you are ‘Falling Free’ but that’s when you need to ‘Take A Bow’ and realize that you, yes you, are indeed a ‘Masterpiece.’

Now, rouse your rebel heart and get ready to take the road less traveled… a new Madonna Timeline is coming up later today.

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Hunk of the Day: Luke Shaw

Luke shaw

My burgeoning love affair with all things Manchester continues in full-force, as Hunk of the Day Luke Shaw came to prominence thanks to his work on Manchester United. One of the team’s pricier acquisitions, his performance for his first season on the team has been graded (by his own admission) a C-. I’m not sure how well he’s done as I don’t much follow the scores as much as the shirtlessness. He’s got the scruffy beginnings of a young David Beckham, but time will tell whether it all pans out.

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