Indigo Girls

“Well, that can’t be a coincidence”, I thought as a CD title caught my eye in my local Long Beach music store. The album in question was simply titled Indigo Girls. It was on sale, so being a newly-ish minted gay, I bought the CD in a show of solidarity.

My rationale?

Cyndi Lauper talks about it in her 1983 song She Bop…

“Well, I see them every night in tight blue jeans.

On the pages of Blue Boy magazine.”

Blue Boy magazine was a glossy tribute to twink pulchritude. A gay porn magazine, in other words.

Indigo is a shade of blue.

I’ve apparently been jaded forever. But just the right amount. Maybe it’s just in my head that a gender pronoun and shade of blue equals some gay code – indeed, to hear them tell it, they went shopping through the dictionary for words that resonated…indigo struck gold for them for whatever reason – but in my music store, this CD priced at $7 resonated with me.

I’ve been a fan ever since.

I’ve owned every album.

Committed more song lyrics to memory than I thought I had the capacity for.

Lost my shit in the theater when they showed up as extras in Boys On The Side…embarrassing my friends by frantically whispering, “That’s the Indigo Girls!” in the darkened theater.

Seen them in concert in a half dozen cities on two continents..

My favorite performances being their zoo concerts. I’ve seen five zoo shows here in Portland and two more at the zoo in Seattle. The crowds at the concerts used to skew heavily lesbian, given their sexual identities. Once Lilith Fair took the music world by storm and sent female singer/songwriter types on a never before seen trajectory of success, those crowds started to straighten out.

My concert attendance started to fall off then, too. Where I’d always loved the live music experience Indigo Girls concerts provided, it was also a safe environment for me as a gay man…to flirt. Safe, because other guys there were like minded, both in bed and in musical tastes. It was as good a starting point as any for selecting a mate, right?

Never happened.

Matter of fact, the closest I got to an Indigo Girls concert love connection was attending shows for a few years with Sacha. You’d have thought that the Valentines Day show we saw at the Aladdin Theater would have put me off their concerts, but I was a super fan and after that show where Sacha and I argued through the entire thing…well, I started going mostly alone or with girlfriends.

No, what put me off was the intrusion of straight men at the shows. I’d loved the strong female vibe I encountered at their live shows. It was such a safe feeling.

A generous space.

When I looked up at one concert and saw my handful of musically like minded gay men replaced with straight guys who were canoodling through the concert until fuck time…I was done.

Until

A few years back, IG got together with a symphony.

It was crazy.

Rib and I went down to Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle and saw this show. Indigo Girls backed by the Seattle Symphony.

By “crazy”, I mean AWESOME.

Their music lends itself to the process. It’s always featured eclectic instruments, so switching to classic orchestral instruments wasn’t a huge stretch.

The Girls are storytellers, so watching their show always included an intimate glimpse into their music and personalities. My favorite story of this night was the story about the symphony performance itself.

The symphony had been practicing their set independently. The Indigo Girls, of course, had the material down. But they never practiced together until the day of the show!

The Indigo Girls roll into town – I am pretty sure this was before Amy married a girl from Seattle, so she wasn’t a randomly occurring celebrity in town yet – do a couple numbers with the orchestra and then peace out until showtime, hoping for the best.

Why is this anything important to know?

Well, Today I Learned on the Facebook that there was a symphony album coming out. Twenty-two songs, with a video of Galileo to kick it all off.

I.

Was.

Excited.

I watched the video a couple of times. It’s not their best live performance, but I can only take their word for it when they talk about the humbling experience of putting your voice in front of a giant machine like a symphony orchestra.

Viewed through that filter? This is incredible. If nothing else, it elevates the majesty of the stories their songs have always told.

From almost 1990 to almost 2020…these ladies have been and have made an enormous impact on my life. I jokingly say that at the end of my life, my relationship with my cell phone carrier will be the enduring relationship of my lifetime.

Compared to my musical relationship with Indigo Girls (they prefer no article in their band name) and Melissa Etheridge, the more accurate statement would be that the relationship with these two acts shaped the adult gay man that I became and one of the significant relationships of my life.

Interesting recipe, equal parts family, catholic school and music subculture equals…me. What an arc it’s been for us both.

And I can’t wait to hear this album!

Indigo Girls

Boudoir Art

Alrighty.  Take Two, WordPress.

This morning I read a blog post by a writer I follow about an art show he’d recently attended.  He talked about the unwritten rules around art shows, how depending on the degree of friendquaintanceship with the artist, you may be socially obligated to buy.  He went on to mention that this particular artist’s creations were more bedroom fare than living room pieces, and I thought, “Yup.  Been there!”

I was reminded of a time…

Sacha had broken up with me and I’d come out of my breakup funk, but The Wallpaper had not yet moved in.

The Silver Fox and I were new friends.

Among other things he did to remain too busy, was sit on the board of a gay men and abused women’s health resource organization.  He was helping with an art auction and I went along with him.  

Something outside my norm, for sure.

He wasn’t certain of the outcome or attendance and asked me to make some bids in the silent auction to grease the wheels while he made his rounds, assuring me that I wouldn’t win anything this early but appreciating me helping to build some momentum.

Charities are so rigged.  Lol. 

Of course, I won four items.

Luckily, after saving my home post-Sacha by cleaning out one of my 401k accounts, I had a little scratch left.  Even after treating myself to this lil guy…

I still had the $2k to cover my competitive wheel greasing.  Here’s a couple of pieces I walked with that night:

The B&W was kind of a “meh” moment of bidding as I thought the starkness of the medium and actual barrenness of the scenery matched my emotional self pretty well at the time.  Since then, it’s become a unique piece among my other B&W art, most of the others being drawing or photos of buildings.  

Incidentally, the drawings I own were both done by former employees of mine, further demonstrating the social rules of art shows.  I picked these up back in 2015 when one of my employees at Green Zebra was opening her gallery.  Seriously, the only two pieces I was drawn to ended up being works by two of my other employees.  Crazy.

So, back to that first art show…in – what? – 2005?  No, I think it was 2004.  The second piece I won that night was actually a twin piece.  It’s the burnt orange dot pattern pictured above on the right.  I can’t say it was the only piece I was interested in winning, because it was actually half of a pair.  I loved the set and bid silently on both.  Unfortunately, a German couple was taken with the other half and bid only in it.  

Thanks to my competitive streak, the wheel greasing went a little wild as Otto von Ruining My Life kept trying to outbid me.  I thought I had him as I snuck up to bid again in the final minute.  He was a few feet away and facing the other direction as I scurried behind him and made my winning bid.

As they announced the clip boards were being picked up, I congratulated myself on my win.  When the volunteer got to the table with the twin set, Otto calmly turned, scribbled a bid, looked directly at me and then turned back around.

My inner congratulatory celebration turned in an instant to a slow motion scream of “Noooooooo!”

Fucking Germans.

But, at least I had one the piece with the best story.  Also a piece a normal person would never display conspicuously.

Naturally, I hung it in my hallway in Seattle for a decade, ensuring everyone who visited my condo saw it.

So, here’s the story.

When I saw this piece, my first thought was, “Boy, that sure looks familiar…”

Turns out, it was painted from a profile pic on one of the earliest asocial media platforms, Adam4Adam.  That’s where I’d seen it.

Further, the artist was known as Father John, an actual priest.

That’s a pretty depraved story, right there.  But to further make owning this more personal to me, Father John and his long term partner – while now living in Portland – had been part of the model for the “A Gays” characters in Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City.  By far my favorite books.

I heard this story, looked at this dick and thought, “I’ve gotta have it!”  You all enjoy that.

I guess I have one final art show tale.

When I was with Rib, one of his co-workers was an artist.  Aung was the epitome of struggling and working on finding her identity as an artist.  We went to several of her shows.  The pieces I bought ranged from “fun” like this Monty Python evoking piece.

To the piece I picked up at a “Rent Show”.

Hey, it fit perfectly in a blank space in my kitchen.  So there’s that.  Neither of these is displayed too prominently, if at all.  But then there is my favorite piece by Aung.

Obviously, I have a thing for pieces with bold colors.

I loved watching Aung mature as an artist.  Even more rewarding was visiting Rib’s flat after we’d broken up and seeing it filled with a bunch of Aung’s work that he’s bought at her “Moving Show” when she left Seattle.

He had learned the rules too well!

Boudoir Art

The Widow

There’s an old Sandra Bernhardt schtick about Grindr where she riffs on the gays being idiots for needing an app to find…let’s call it a date.  She says something along the lines of. “I don’t need an app to tell me there’s a hot guy three feet from me!”

And she’s kind of right about the ridiculousness and depth of our retardation if we need an app to introduce us to one another.  That’s partly why I call gay (let’s stick with this for now) dating apps asocial media.

But for once it actually seemed to work out as ridiculously as she described it.

I “met” a guy who lives on the next block.

Allegedly.

He was in my neighborhood and was a cute lil Sparky, so I threw him a woof.  Immediately after which, I recalled from his profile how he said “messages work better than woofs” so I sent him a message culpa.

It worked and we began chatting.  I learned that he’d moved up here recently from SoCal and lived in the Elizabeth, which is one of my aspirational Pearl District homes.

Not my favorite, but with units priced starting at a cool half mil for us plebeian folk…darned affordable.

And, literally on the block right behind me.

One of the few people to ever earn the distinction of being blocked by me on an asocial media site was an old guy who lived in the Elizabeth.  Our units faced each other until the hotel on the backside of my block was built.  We used to chat online over our morning coffees and had a nice virtual friendship.  He was looking for more, I was looking for less so we were at a little impasse of interest levels.  

But still, we randomly chatted.

The third time he reminded me what I can expect my junk to look like in 15 years, I blocked him.  I felt for him, we are living the same plight.  Too old to catch the interest of a gay of our very own, too young to actually be dead.  But, I don’t want to see my friends naked, and him pulling this shit on me every month or so demonstrated an ulterior motive I didn’t want to deal with, so we never met.

But, boy-oh!  If only I could manage my attractions, I coulda been living in a dream house.

However, now I was chatting with a 31 year old unreasonably good looking guy that lived in the very same building.  

Quite a package deal!

Bonus points were given that after a week of chatting, I still didn’t know what his junk looked like.

And it was a week of talking about hobbies, and tacos and post coital ice cream and beer and wine and working out…but after that first day on the app, I never “saw” him in my neighborhood again.  He was always 2-3 miles away, which I randomly attributed to him being at work or at the gym – one of the only pics he’d sent me was him working out, and it wasn’t at either of the gyms in the Pearl so I assumed that he had a distant gym that he preferred.

I try to assume the best.

But I did have some misgivings, based not only on his phone’s inability to accurately place him where he said he physically was, but also because I really doubted that he could afford a place in the Elizabeth.  My suspicion was that he didn’t live in the Elizabeth, but maybe somewhere, oh…2-3 miles away.

Whatever. 

He mentioned briefly that he had been engaged and his fiancé had died suddenly last year.  I didn’t pursue it via chat, but my mind briefly flashed back to my old neighbor and I began wondering what ever happened to him.

Actually, in my mind I had decided that was his fiancé and he’d died, leaving my condo to The Widow.

Nonetheless, despite those minor, niggling misgivings, I asked him out for a Friday drink.  I told him that I needed to be in bed – alone – by 8 for work the next day, but we could meet for a beer at 6 and I would introduce him to some of my favorite Oregon IPAs that he hadn’t met yet.

He declined.

Sure, in a sweet way, saying that he wanted more time together for our first meet up.  Ok, sure…how long does it take to drink a few beers and chat?  Two hours seemed like plenty, but I accepted his tentative alternate of Monday.

<ignores obvious warning whistles>

I just assumed that his current weekend was booked up, which I got used to while dating in Shittatle.

Here’s the funny part:

No, I swear, this is gonna kill ya.

Me, being playful me, texted him early on Friday and suggested he sneak out of work early and we could grab some happy hour since it was gorgeous out.  He replied, in what I assumed was a genuinely adult tone about how he’d just been sucked into a project that was gonna keep him late at work.

Oh, well…and I go about my day.  This does involve replying to random messages I’m getting on Scruff, mostly from people flying into town for the weekend who want to know if I’d like to give them a congratulatory fuck for arriving in Portland.

No.

But, while responding to one such message, I happen to see The Widow is online…aaaaand 146 miles away.

Shittatle.

I click on his profile, and sure enough:

Travel icon engaged, upcoming trip announced and, as I mentioned, he’s 146 miles away.

Oh, well.  I’m not upset by this.  I’m really more just curious as to why he wouldn’t say he’s going out of town.

Between my favorite sounding board, the Silver Fox – who insists I’m too hard on people, we decide that I should just let it lie until we meet on Monday.

“If he makes it back, I grumble.”

But I do.

Until.

He messages me at 6:20, “I’m off!”

That’s your long day?!?

I continue to let it lie until he messages me again later that night.  I’ve already popped my melatonin, as I do in order to be able to fall asleep at 8 pm.  I forget the context of the message, but my response is something along the lines of, “Let’s talk about it Monday.  Enjoy Seattle!”

Because I just couldn’t help myself.  I blame the melatonin.

He gets into this innocent act, thinking my response was meant for someone else.  When I explain my text, he insists he’s at home and basically dates me to meet up.

It’s about 7:45 now, so that’s a “no” from me, but I fall asleep wondering what would have happened if I’d called that bluff.

The next couple of days were spent with him asking to meet up again on Saturday and then immediately taking offense at some innocent pith I tossed out a few minutes later.  Same thing on Sunday, which ultimately ended with him asserting that he’s been trying to get me to meet up, but I won’t commit, so he’s walking away.

Good, I think and tell him, “In the last 48 hours, you’ve called me an asshole, a dick, passive aggressive and a few other pretty hostile things while continuing to alternate between asking me to get together and then manufacturing offense to get out of it, all while your phone thinks you’re in Seattle.  But, ok.  Bye.”

I feel bad when shit like that happens, especially with someone you’ve never met.  But what can ya do?  Given the evidence I witnessed and the behavior I experienced, I’m fine believing he was in Seattle – possibly at a Black Widow convention, maybe not – and just didn’t like being called out on it.

Haven’t heard from him since and still haven’t seen him around the ‘hood, so I’ll call this a lose/win situation.

Next!?!

The Widow

I Need A Haircut

I have briefly considered wearing my hair in a longer style recently.  I think this is just a further manifestation of my desire to avoid being perceived as sporting anything that could be lumped into the notion of “the gay haircut”.  To be sure, this has everything to do with my time in Seattle where every homo on The Hill seemed to have the same haircut…most, courtesy of Rudy’s Barbershop.

Don’t think there’s such a thing as a gay haircut?

Remember this bullshit from a few posts back?

Ugh.  The Hard Part.

A good name for my autobiography in progress, shit name for a hairstyle.

Totally gay.  Plus, it makes me respect gay guys a little less – yes, that is possible.  I imagine someone walking in and saying, “This is the style I want” and whipping out this guy’s pic.  Because, we should all take our style cues from the guy with facial tattoos…

I still won’t go to the Rudy’s in Portland, a) because Bishops is several bucks cheaper, but also b) because I usually get a more diverse choice of stylists there, making for a better experience for me.

Usually.

Foreshadowing!

Oh, and c) Bishops offers a beer while you wait, last I checked, Rudy’s didn’t.  Sure, it’s bullshit hipster beer like PBR or Montucky – same beer, by the way, just different marketing.  I kid you not.

I’ve gotten pretty good at timing my arrival at my local Bishop’s so that I’m the first one there.  In and out in record time.  The stylists are usually happy to see me, especially if it’s a slow starting day and there’s no line waiting to get in.

What can I say?  I tip like my father.

However, on my last trip…well, it was a trip.

First in the door, and no line had formed behind me.  I’m getting really good at not noticing that lines no longer form around me.  In this case, I easily convinced myself it wasn’t because I’m too old to be waiting for anything cool enough to queue up for.

It was Thursday morning at 10:50.

Normies were working.

I love my atypical weekend.

Anyhoo…

One of the two worker-people unlocks the door – she’s kinda non-descript and I decide I instantly want her cutting my boring hair instead of the girl with fluorescent pink braids.

Of course, this being my life, I got Pinky.

No big deal.  I can rally.  It’s only 25 minutes of my life, which is cumulatively the same amount of time I’ll probably spend having sex with other people between now and the end of my life.

Oh!  The end of my life in two or three decades!  Sorry to alarm you, mom!

I actually found myself checking myself on my earlier choice of stylists.  It doesn’t matter, really…I just think my dull head will bore someone as outwardly extravagant as Pinky.  Simultaneously, I’m mentally scrolling through the covert reasons for her  choices in self-expression.  I am decidedly a tee shirt and jeans guy, but still, I appreciate the effort people put into their appearance.

Even if I question the underlying motivations.

Total sidebar, as I’m writing about Pinky, I’m debating whether one of my DBE partners thought – or reflexively assumes – my comments about his garb this morning were slightly racist.

And whether maybe they were.  Or, at best were ignorant or insensitive.

I assure you that they were well intentioned, if not poorly informed.

But you gotta understand that my DBE is Snoop Dogg’s uncle as well as the father of a Women of WWE woman…when he dresses he makes this guylook like a tee shirt and jeans guy.

His outfit for today’s meeting was an exercise in monochromatic brocade paired with pointy toed patent leather shoes with hobnails (for lack of the appropriate cobbler jargon) around the sole at the front and topped off with a metal point with a skull shaped into it.

Those were some fucking shoes.

As a white guy, I don’t think I stood any better chance of commenting on them and not sounding ignorant or racist than Harvey Weinstein does of complimenting an actress’ gown and not sounding predatory.  So, fuck me.

So, Pinky starts in on the cut with some small talk about where I live and what I do.

Everything was fine until the second question, which was also about the same time I realized Pinky was trans…providing a shorthand answer to a few of  my initial questions on why someone would have that hair color.

And dye their eyebrows to match, by the way.

Regardless, it really popped against an alabaster skin tone that would make Casper look tanned.

It wasn’t that I do HR for a group of news & gift shops at PDX that caused the conversation to slide sideways.  It was the, “That sounds interesting” comment, rejoined with my, “Mostly, I just chase staffing issues all week” that committed our conversation to a slide that I didn’t even try to steer out of.

I have this longstanding rule about not pissing certain people off:

Your barista.  

Any waiter.

No need to risk a “sneezer”, right?

Barbers and stylists certainly qualify for this group of people not to piss off.

At this point, I start to realize I’m in a conversation that I’ll be lucky to escape from with just a pair of scissors stuck in my skull.  At worst, I’ll also be buried with a bad haircut.

You see, when she asked why staffing was such a problem, I didn’t leave it at a simple, “Hiring at the airport is just challenging”.  

No.

I had to go on and talk about how it’s tough to have a group of long-term associates – read: older – in today’s hiring environment because many of my new hires are college students…or at least college aged.

See how that last part comes across as judgy?

Me, too.

Now.

But the reality is that the two demographics just. don’t. get. along.

So our conversation is now in a full-on slide and Pinky contributes that maybe it’s not that millennials – her word – weren’t so much flaky or lazy – also her words – as they were tired of being pawns in the big capitalism game that is America.

I totally allowed that point, agreeing with the current backlash of the younger generations toward the Boomer-favoring economy.

Maybe millennials are just tired of working to pad someone else’s balance sheet.

Once again…not taking advantage of a strategic opportunity to not re-engage, I posit that no one is required to actually participate in capitalism.  She questions my sincerity by demanding an answer to how one will survive in today’s America without working for The Man.

You know, I say, I don’t know.  Yours is about the fourth generation to struggle with that question and I really don’t know the answer.  You’re in Oregon, where craft beer and weed are the past and current alt-industries.  Look at all the craft brewers selling out to big beer in “distribution deals” and ask yourself if weed will follow a different path.

Doubtful.

So, these alt-industries that basically have working class hero stamped in their DNA sell out.  Here’s what we think is the answer to capitalism run amok, selling out and caving to said capitalism.  The generations between you and I didn’t figure it out.

It’s up to your generation to do us one better.

– And this is fully where I should have muzzled my inner Julia Sugarbaker –

But until you do, you might try not biting the capitalist hand that’s feeding you, because that’s a little hypocritical, no?

Her mouth made the same perfect circle that both my eyes were making as she realized whatever she realized and I realized that I’d just broken one of my cardinal service people rules.

God help me.

Regardless of gender identification and politics, I’ve decided that I’ll probably go back to wearing my hair styled short again.  I think it was my writing about Egypt and seeing pictures of younger me, but whatever the impetus, I recently found myself entertaining the thought, “Maybe I could be one of those old guys with the IDGAF long hair…”

As grumpy as I am, I suspect that scenario plays out with me taking clippers to my head in frustration one evening.  Which, having likely worn out my welcome at Pinky’s Pelo Palace – er…Bishop’s – might be my follicular reality soon enough…

I Need A Haircut

The Short, Hot Mess

I’ve had pornography on my mind quite a lot over the last week or so, albeit in a non-traditionally male manner.

Last week I had a strange experience that made me think about several guys that I have dated in the past who were or ended up working in the adult entertainment industry.  Writing that really made made me think about the industry as a whole and how it impacted the people who work in it.

It was quite an unexpected result from that little walk down Chagrin Lane.

I alluded to someone that I’ve referred to as The Short Hot Mess for over a decade, but didn’t really flush out my experience with him, thinking that I had already created a draft that I could edit and finish him off.  The strange thing is that I’ve been stuck in a thought eddy about him but also about porn in and of itself.

Let’s tackle the namesake of this article first, eh? Continue reading “The Short, Hot Mess”

The Short, Hot Mess

Life’s Work Blog

I was in Seattle last week pulling some of my personal belongings out of my condo to feather my Portland nest.  In the interim between planning this trip and executing, the place sold, so there’s that.  However, I decided just to do the day run anyway and make the next few weeks of my Portland life a little more plush.

I drove up with The Silver Fox, leaving at 7:15 in the morning.  It was one of those fantastic middle-aged mornings, where I woke up at 4:30 to pee and couldn’t go back to sleep.  So I went to a 6:00 spin class and was 15 minutes late for our 7:00 departure.  We counted the number of times Hello by Adele came on XM Radio on the trip up as a way of passing the time.

Three, if you were curious.

The trip was fast.

A little rain.

A little traffic.

But we arrived just before 10:30, so I’d put that squarely in the “Making Good Time” column…even though it took us 30 minutes to get from SeaTac to Seattle proper – 15% of our travel time to cover 7% of our trip’s distance.

It helps that we didn’t stop to pee.

Unless you ask The Fox, then he might say that the 10 minute Rest Area detour would be worth it. Continue reading “Life’s Work Blog”

Life’s Work Blog

The Second Son

I set out late last week to write an entry about my ex in Seattle, who stubbornly – but in a good way – kept popping into my consciousness over the week.  The one relationship I’ve had that doesn’t make me look like an embittered old man and I choked.

Couldn’t do it.

It was surprisingly emotional for me, so it remains a draft that quasi-haunts me…Xtopher’s Rib.

Someday.

Meanwhile, my number of blogs in draft status has crept back up to 23…just under 50% of my total posts, so I committed to myself to crack out a couple this week and get that number more in line.  One-third of my content in draft status just makes me feel like I have issues completing things.  I don’t need that, I have two partially completed novels to make me feel like a failure…they don’t need any help.  As a matter of fact, my blog is the reason I use for not working on my book ideas.

Then, I saw on Facebook earlier today – while stalking a friend’s page – that I had missed National Sibling’s Week.  Well, even though I got you the same thing for NSW as I typically do for your birthdays – nothing – I wanted to apologize to Chuck and Lizard Breath for missing the opportunity to tell them that I love and appreciate them.

Every week, too.

Not just some random week that the internet made up.

Which brings us to the awkward fact that I have three siblings and one is estranged. Continue reading “The Second Son”

The Second Son