In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with the spring garden.


Though undeniably bright, there is a stark quality to the March sun that makes the phlox (and the sempervivum) seem — oddly — both luminous and bedraggled.


The silver veins of the surrounding rocks add to this quality, and for a second I dreamed I was in the mountains of _____. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever visit a desert/mountain/rain forest and think: this place looks so familiar, I have seen it in a small garden in Washington Heights.


In this post, the garden is a metaphor for the city, while the plants and rocks are elements of the past that we may or may not recognize until we see them in the present (possibly while lost, driving around in the most labyrinthian sections of Queens/Riverdale/Lower East Side circa 1988).

In which Dealth Culture at Sea* is a light that turns to blue.

*Since there seem to be a few new folks stopping by here, a note of explanation: I used to play in an indie-rock band called Saturnine, and this — i.e., Death Culture at Sea — is my new ‘band,’ consisting of me, myself and I.


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“Field High and Burning”

Let’s walk through this religion
Searching for the kind of things we know
We never really know

The streets so full of people
Had never looked so empty in the night
So empty in the night

Here beside you is something you can never really touch
Beside you is something you can never really touch

Fear has seen the morning, and he felt slightly wasted with the sense
Of being split in two

He asked if you were serious, and then he fell asleep inside your arms
Crushing him in you

His soul was rather jagged, but all he craved was feeling something new
Besides these waves between us

He woke beside you, and smiled in a light that turned to blue
A light that turned to blue

In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with spring.


The Weeping Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens ‘the blues’) is one of the bluest of conifers.

Blue conifers are true beauties.

–Andy Warhol

In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with the George Washington Bridge.


(American gay fiction writer and flickering beacon during the Dark Ages of post-war American fiction) James Purdy died today, and as so often happens, The Times obit neglected to explicitly state that he was gay/queer/homosexual/vext. Not that you could really hide it in Purdy’s case, given that the subject matter of his books so often dealt with such themes, and to be fair, the obit did not fail to discuss his work in these terms.


But according to our friend John — who is in a position to know such things — Purdy spent a lot of time ‘chasing after young men many decades younger than him,’ which I suppose is simply beyond what The Times is about to include in any obituary. Still, it’s fun to imagine: “As a gay man who lived in New York City for close to sixty years, Purdy was never partnered, but ravished approximately 40,682 men — many barely out of their teens! — and in his later years was never seen without a posse of young admirers.”


Although the obituary makes the case reasonably well that Purdy was an Important But Neglected American Writer — which is true (and if you haven’t read him, we recommend starting with Eustace Chisholm and the Works) — there is a somewhat disturbing soullessness to the piece as a whole, a hovering ‘lonely bachelor’ aura that makes it feel just a little sad/stereotypical, as if Purdy was ‘a lonely and bitter homosexual’ without a trace of love or passion in his life. (Who knows, maybe that’s true.)


Or maybe I’m just thinking about how I would want my own obituary to be written, i.e., even if I had written 20 novels that were/were not critically acclaimed, and even if I didn’t have a boyfriend/partner/spouse/husband (something ‘culturally sanctioned’ for The Times to mention) I would still want a few words dedicated to some aspect of ‘being human’ or perhaps just being ‘alive’ (by which I mean a capacity to feel/love, even if it’s not necessarily feelings for another person).


E.g., “An admirer of the Brooklyn Bridge, Purdy was known to make a point of walking across it at least 300 times per year.” Or: “In addition to writing books, Purdy collected flower-themed stamps, for which he held a lifelong obsession.” Or: “Purdy had a beagle named Stanley who for many years never left his side, and was often seen dining with him in restaurants.” Or: “Purdy loved nothing more than a good salad!”


When I read about death — and particularly about that of an artist or writer — I want to see some signs of ‘real life,’ some indication that perhaps this person was a ‘lil obsessive’ and not just a robot in the bourgeois capitalist society/factory in which we’ve all been slated to pass these recent decades; if it’s not there, the risk is that you put down the paper (a metaphor) and think ‘what’s the point?’ which is a completely different level of neglect, and one that none of us really deserve.

In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with the George Washington Bridge.


Today the sky was windswept, which reminds of when I first moved to New York City and me and my friend Mike were walking around the Lower East Side one night — it was definitely winter — and we saw what could only be described as a tumbleweed that blew across the intersection, not far from where we stood with our mouths agape. We were both big fans of the Meat Puppets, of course, and as we continued on our way, we discussed the song “Tumblin’ Tumbleweeds,” from the first Meat Puppets LP, a song I just learned — via Google — is a cover of a traditional folk song. Not that we would have cared about this at the time: we were only interested in the past so far as it extended back no more than ten-fifteen years (which seemed like a long time then), i.e., to the glory days of SST Records.


If this — to see a tumbleweed in Manhattan — happened now (assuming the entire LES hadn’t been transformed into an upscale shopping mall), we would no doubt have taken a photograph or video of it and posted it for everyone to see, but for us it became a memory that we shared and was one of those goofy jokes/events that I suppose — once you share enough of them — forms the foundation of any friendship. For years after we would say to each other, “do you remember that time we saw a tumbleweed?” (This was no doubt annoying to those who missed out or refused to believe such an improbable truth.)


Perhaps one casualty of ‘the Facebook age’ is a sort of passive destruction of any part of the present not documented with some kind of photographic (or via e-mail) textual reference; it’s almost like we don’t have to worry as much about filtering things out in our daily existence, because we can always do it later. I’m no less guilty of this, of course; I didn’t keep a journal on my recent trip to Europe, because I literally took a thousand photographs and will rely on those in the event I want to remember something.


Once I saw a tumbleweed blowing across the windswept streets of downtown Manhattan.


Because I didn’t take a photograph of this, it may or may not have happened.


Like fewer and fewer events in the modern age, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with the George Washington Bridge.


There is a pastel hue to the sky today that I haven’t seen since ____, which makes me think that summer is approaching. It reminds me of the sky I saw not too long ago in Vienna, although there the tones were more subtle and exquisite in a way that New York cannot ever quite seem to match — probably because we are too far south — but it also reminds of the sky that I saw from this exact location last year, when I first starting paying closer attention.


It makes me look forward to the coming months, when the sun will move north — inching closer to the bridge — and each day fall dramatically behind the Palisades. Only the bridge is constant and unchanging, as if tying the past to the future, as much as one piece of land to another.

In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with the George Washington Bridge.


Today, before work.

The George Washington Bridge is a true beauty — someone should write an opera about it!

–Andy Warhol