Our Questions Resume….

After grinning and pissing and moaning, I finally have time to return to the matter at hand: answering various questions. This next one, from bonehound almost defies answering, but here we go

here’s mine typos and all :0)

firstly I want to say how much i have been relishing your Q&A posts this past week ..good stuff Mr.

tho I have many questions I want to save something for down the road for the course of actual conversation. so here is mine wrapped in a smidgeon of back story.

Back when I had first given up speed I was asked to speak before a large group of people/peers to tell my life’s story so far. Now normally these things ended with the speaker opening the floor for individuals to discuss what was on their minds, generally a lot of woe is me chatter wrapped in gratitude ( perfectly acceptable and encouraged as folks needed a safe space for that ). At this time I had done these speaking bits several times anywhere from gay rehabs to a room filled to the rim with men fresh from prison and felt I needed to take myself to a new level , draw something new from myself and hopefully a few others. With no real plan except to wing it I headed to my engagement.

It was a balmy San Francisco evening the sky overcast in gray , green and orange giving the buildings that golden glow. You could smell rain and electricity in the air. I was making my way up O’Farrelle between Jones and Hyde when i felt the first huge warm drop hit my neck , then my arm , then my shoulder. Warm rain falling in slow hefty drops. Folks darted for doorways as it began to come down . I was enjoying it just the way i always do when i looked down to my right and saw two tiny unkempt little girls with grimy knees and faces sitting on the edge of a Laundromat storefront. These grimy children sitting in the rain with the biggest smile on their faces as they devoured a snow cone without a care in the world. They didn’t seem to notice the rain at all .I All they knew was their bliss, their laughter and their snow cone. One beautiful moment . They themselves prolly weren’t even aware of it in the moment. But I caught it and I pray that someday when things are kinda dark and hard for either of them that they can cull from memory that one moment or one similar and use it to pull them forward, to inspire, to aspire , to hope, to comfort, to laugh, to remember, to hold on to.

thinking back on them now i can smell the rain and see the colors from the snow cone running down their dirty faces and hands . more importantly i can still feel what i felt in those very few seconds and it fills me with warmth and makes me smile. it frees me from the overwhelmingly mundane daily grind when i reflect on that moment and moments like it i had as a child.

so now the same question i asked the crowd that night after telling them what i had seen on the way. We( most of us anyway ) have all had moments like that as children and we have all been witnesses to others moments like that as well. Please if you can, share one of each with me?

Thank you

Thank you for adding “if you can” in there, because I am hesitant to attempt it given the eloquence of your writing. The thing about this question is that it makes me want to ask dozens of questions. Clearly, once we are sitting in the same room we won’t be lacking topics of conversation.

But all of that is dancing around the question. As I reflect on my childhood, the most blissful moment that leaps out at me was my experience of the 1965 New York Blackout. I was at the movies with my Mom to see “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World” . I remember a shot of a bucket rolling down a hill, and then the projector dying. It took a while for people to understand that the problem involved more than just the theater and finally we wandered out into the last light of a November afternoon and began to make our way up Broadway toward our apartment. I remember we stopped at our local deli-rotisserie chicken shop and got dinner. People were putting candles in their windows, and on the streets everyone had slowed to a tender, drifting pace. It was of course very quiet, and I remember a feeling that people were looking out for each other, relinquishing their aggression. By the time we got home it was almost entirely dark, and my mother set up the candles she had bought on our table. We ate the dinner and then, in the absence of TV, she tucked me into bed. The apartment was utterly different in the candlelight, and as I drank in the newly mysterious surroundings , she brought a candle near my bed and read to me until I suppose I fell asleep. In my memory, however, sleep never comes: I am perpetually suspended in the low light and the warmth of familiar covers, rapt before my my mothers gentle voice, secure and complete.

As for witnessing a moment like that, that will require some additional thought, so I’ll have to beg off for now.


  1. That’s so sweet and tender. I’ve had similar moments although L.A. never had a blackout as I recall. Most of my childhood memories in Ohio are from my grandmother’s house. I was talking with my aunt about that over last Christmas when I was up there.

  2. OK: : This is an incredibly beautiful piece of writing, relayed movingly. I very much appreciate your giving flesh to this kind of moment since, for me, the feeling it evokes is the most prized feeling I can imagine. I still — time to time — have these sorts of moments now and have a little trouble conveying to others exactly what they are like, how much I wallow in them when they come, how much I am filled with a slow-bustin’ feeling when I get them.

    Thanks for tacking the tarp of description on this one. And thanks for sharing something I often mistakenly think is missing from a lot of people’s experiences.

    And : I loved your response, too, about the black-out. Film. Books. Darkness. Community. Family. How you set this brings a certain glint of palpable hope to my mind; it feels like it’s on the brim between personal and political realms, where both are sensible and warm. The phrase relinquishing their aggression even made me feel a kind of excited release as I read it.

    ::Hat tips:: You both made me see the world in brighter light this afternoon.

  3. mmmmmmmMy Question

    I’ve been wondering what question i could ask of you in this setting
    seeing you standing next to Puppy
    gave me a simple, not-too-dear, question i’m curious to hear thought about:

    Do your Tattoo’s ever speak to you? (Puppy, feel free to reply as well)
    does the pain, the physical pain of the needle
    or the emotional pain (or pleasure or memory) ever come up and catch you off gaurd?
    i’ve never had a piercing nor tat
    only a broken nose
    but recently a memory of a splintered rib…
    when i was 14 and wrestling with my-object-of-desire Teacher
    he would slam down on me on the mats, sometimes pound my chest with his fists while he had me pinned down
    and once he cracked my rib: right over my heart
    i think it was that injury that led me to stop intellectualizing my emotions away
    and start feeling them
    the more i got into my emotions (in earlier years) the more that pain would re-surface to talk with me
    then fade back into the every-white-noise of feelings…
    just three days ago at the hot springs with Paul it came back feirce
    and i had to work through it…

    question again:
    does the pain from your Tattoos ever come back surprisingly and take you to a place of power/vulnerability where you learn deeper layers every time?

  4. from blackout to blackout

    the day you posted this i read it to Leo and he started telling me his story…
    i sketched it
    and meant to post it back here… i almost forgot
    here it is:

    i remember that blackout..

    i was coming home from work
    i was in the subway
    with a friend of mine from high school
    we used to meet to take the E … or the F train out to Jamaica
    from there we caught the buss
    to the end of the line
    which brought us to floral park.

    we were on the E train
    it came to a stop…
    but it happened so frequently there…

    i had a date with bernadette that night
    it was around her birthday

    i was kinda concerned
    i was going to be late again….
    she lived right where the buss stopped
    so i would just go there…

    we waited
    then it became more apparent it wasn’t just a problem with the subway
    they came through the trains and told us
    led us through the tunnels on the cat walk
    it seemed like a very long walk

    we came out at the 168th station

    when we came out
    we expected to see everything normal
    that was the big shock
    when we came out
    everything was dark
    it was 6:30 in November…

    we then had to walk
    down to 179st to where the busses went out to the queens/nassau border
    … we eventually got on the bus
    everything was crowded, chaotic
    when we got out to Nassau
    we assumed everything would be alright
    : it was just a city problem

    but it was the same
    when i got to Bernadette’s house
    her mother had made supper
    we ate by candle light

    then we walked down to a bar and had a drink
    everything lit by candles
    … on the way back
    we ducked into an alcove of the movie theater and started kissing
    but a police car drove by and shone the lights on us
    — we were embarrassed…
    we walked back to her house
    and i slept on her couch..

    my brothers took my brother’s car down to 179th street to pick up people to take back out there…
    a lot of people did that
    ferrying people back out to the areas
    so they wouldn’t be stranded in the city

    i just remember the stillness of it all…
    all the things that always make noises
    just stopped…

    i remember us walking along the Jericho turn pike
    we’d flash our cigarette lighters to see eachother’s face…
    there was no moon…
    cloudy sky..

    it was a weird… but benign night…

    such a contrast to the July, 1977 blackout
    which was all chaos and crime
    looting and fires…

    i still have the radio that someone gave me then..
    he said “always keep this in case something like this happens..”
    it’s by my bed up at the hermitage…

    there were people at the church
    and everyone stayed there
    no one wanted to go out in the city
    nothing was running

    it really wasn’t safe to walk between neighbourhoods
    everything was dark
    and everyone was afraid

    i lit candles and kept everyone safe at the church
    listening to the radio

    while down in Christopher street
    everyone was drinking up the beer because the coolers had stopped working
    someone got battery power radios and they were dancing in the streets
    everyone spent the night there for the same reason…

    from blackout to blackout…

  5. Re: from blackout to blackout

    I was wondering why I hadn’t read this before, but then I see that you just posted it…

    A wonderful story.

    The most recent blackout was a harkening back to the ’65 one, quiet and much more tender.

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