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


It’s often said that as you get older, time moves faster.


This is undoubtedly true, except for when it moves more slowly than it once did.


I’m reading a book by Richard Rorty,* who — unlike Plato/Kant/Schopenhauer/Freud/Jung — argues that there is no greater truth to be discovered, either inside of us or beyond us, i.e., there is no “will” or “unconscious.”

Rorty is not exactly “tween-lit” — I will probs have to read it twice to really digest — and I’m only about halfway done, so I could be getting it entirely wrong!


There is only the changing/evolving language we use to describe our circumstances. As such, two observations — seemingly contradictory — could both be entirely valid.


In effect, there is only the arrangement of books and art — the exposure of the different threads that tie things together — which he calls literary criticizzzzzzzm.


What’s clear is that he’s not an artist, but a thinker.


There is a line in the photograph that clearly divides it; one half is bathed in brilliant sunlight and the other is frozen in the shadow.


Recently — in part because of reading Rorty — I have begun to have doubts about which side I would prefer to be found.

In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with bamboo.


We planted bamboo a few years ago in a cement planter we constructed along the back of our garden. The concept is that it’ll grow about 100 feet tall and block out the apartment buildings behind us.


It’s also hardy to Zone 4, which means it’s safe to -25 or something like that. (Heat and humidity doesn’t bother it either.)


We sometimes wish that we were a stand of this bamboo, so beautiful and impervious to whatever extremes the world has to offer, and which only rarely expresses its impatience by softly scratching its leaves against the surrounding walls.

In which Dante and Zephyr take over The Gay Recluse.


H8 Monday mornings, yall!


Srsly — it snowed!? Enough for a snow day?


We didn’t think so either.

In which Death Culture at Sea ‘rocks out a lil.’


Listen on Tumblr or download directly from the Death Culture at Sea site.


We all know the kind of people who never seem to leave
Sometimes they can help you by affirming your beliefs
Never trust a movie star to tell you what you want
We have come to reassess everything you bought

He liked the way the lipstick turned his lips a cherry red
You don’t have to understand to join the living dead
The first mistake I ever made was written into stone
Sometimes we don’t like to share how much we feel alone

Decades from the present hold a kind of unwrapped gift
If only we could get this back to everything we missed
Sometimes in the desert, I like to look around
At landscapes that are barren, but ones that I have found

In which The Gay Recluse decorates the office.


Today in my office I hung up a color print I recently made to test out a new printer we recently bought after the old one died. The photograph was taken a long time ago, if you measure time in hours.


It was Friday afternoon and difficult to concentrate on “real work.” Instead of launching into a new project, I decided to spend a few minutes making up imaginary quotes by Andy Warhol. Still considering the photograph, I decided to focus on sunset quotes.*

*I won’t pretend they’re very good! This is more a game “for fun” than “results.”


“I love to watch the sunset, but only on television.”


“I’m always relieved after the sun sets because I can finally go out without anyone noticing my bad skin.”


“Each day when the sun sets I call my banker to make sure I still have enough money left to go out that night. If I can’t get hold of him, my friends always end up paying for me!”


“I never paint sunsets, because the ones I buy at the flea market are so much better than anything I could ever do.”


“Candy Darling always said she hated sunsets, which is how I knew she was going to die very young.”

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


My fifth grade teacher, Mr. W, was a large, macho man with a mustache and a tight perm. (You could actually be macho and have a perm in 1978.) He liked to aggressively talk about boys and girls “dating” and “kissing,” and professed his intention to treat us “like adults,” which all bothered me for reasons I couldn’t quite ascertain. (Beyond the fact that this was the first year we were going without recess.) He wore lots of cologne and had a big butt he covered with shiny black polyester-blend dress pants and thick, wide shoulders and a hairy chest he stuffed into wide-collared dress shirts. He seemed very stupid to me — he couldn’t spell “recipe” — and considered himself a “disciplinarian,” which meant that he liked to yell at the class a lot, if say, he surprised us with a quiz and (most) everyone failed or if people hadn’t done the reading. I’m not sure why I took it personally: I always did every scrap of homework, was one of the fastest runners in my grade — this counted for a lot among students and faculty — and was always at or near the top of my class in every subject. I had also played hockey for six years by this point, too, so it wasn’t like I was a stranger to large, macho men who yelled a lot. But I knew I hated him, and — though I could barely understand this at the time — it seemed like there was only solution to my problem: I needed to kill myself.


Because I was only ten at the time, and like some junior-varsity version of Harold — I had seen the movie — I wasn’t exactly adept at the art of suicide. For example, I spent an hour or so after school one day cutting the top of my wrist instead of the bottom, which only resulted in a nasty gash I covered with a band-aid or two and which eventually scarred over without too much difficulty. (When my mother asked about it, I explained that I had cut myself by accident on a rock while running through the leaves.) One night after watching Fantasy Island and Love Boat I decided to drink the cleaning supplies, but I couldn’t manage more than a sip before I relented and returned to bed, where I liked to stay up late reading Lord of the Rings or maybe Dune. I secretly wrote long suicide notes in red pen encouraging all of my (much older) siblings to follow their dreams and become famous and — for those who played hockey — to “go Division 1.” I reassured my parents that none of this was their fault.


For their part, my parents didn’t know what to do with me. Later I found out that they arranged meetings with the principal and the hated teacher himself, both of whom seemed very perplexed given that I was basically a model student who gave them no real problems to speak of (except for a crazy, desperate mother who was in their faces at these meetings, presenting them with a vision of her son that had nothing to do with the kid they knew). We didn’t have grades at this point, but I had never received an “unsatisfactory” in any of the fifty-thousand or so categories that made up our quarterly report cards.


I managed to survive to Christmas, when all of my siblings descended for a few days of bliss and celebration; but when they flew away, my depression reached a new low and I declared myself incapable of getting out of bed (which I had in the meantime stocked with more knives, carefully hidden under the covers, as if I might be able to complete in my sleep what I lacked the courage to do while awake). My mother — her eyes rimmed red with frustration — paced the hallways and finally my father came in to have “a talk” with me.


He explained that life was often hard, but that I needed to be a fighter and not a quitter. He brought up the example of my older brothers — fearless giants in my young eyes — and explained that they too had suffered in ways that I could not yet imagine, but they had proved themselves incapable of being brought down. In short, it was time for me to pull myself together and “be a man.” I did not laugh or cry as a result of this speech, but nodded and agreed that what he said made sense. I promised to do better.


As it turned out, the talk had the desired effect. The following day I got out of bed, (secretly) returned the knives to the drawers and resigned myself to returning to school.


We had new seats following the break, and it so happened that I was placed near two girls in my class to whom I had never paid much attention; they were neither popular or unpopular; they never raised their hands or talked unless Mr. W called on them. I obviously knew their names, but I had never said more than a few words to them “after school.” One day, however, I noticed during a break that they were calling each other by strange names: one was “Cardo” and the other “Lombardo”*: furthermore, I managed to catch a glimpse of a note being prepared by one in which a list was being prepared declaring who was or wasn’t a “Cheddaball,” which I soon gathered was a slightly pejorative term whose parameters were maddeningly (to my ten-year-old brain) mysterious, so that one person might be a Cheddaball one day but not the next. Once or twice, they informed me with appropriate sorrow that I was a Cheddaball, but that it wouldn’t necessarily last forever, and in fact, the following day I was relieved to be told that I had been safely (if not permanently, they warned) removed from the list. I had to figure it out!

*My memory is patchy here, and the names may not be exact.


In the days and weeks that followed, I also learned something even more incredible: there were at least two other girls in this secret society, about which I and — as far as knew — all of the rest of the students knew nothing. (Those designated Cheddaballs were — except for me — never informed but only silently mocked.) Nobody suspected the existence of this important underground conspiracy, least of all the hated Mr. W, who was often the biggest Cheddaball of all.


One day, I was informed that an exception to the society rules had been allowed, and I was going to be made a member. Accordingly, I was given a name of my own: “Jobardo.” At the same time, I learned that what determined whether you were or were not a Cheddaball was nothing more complicated than a color of your clothing, picked in advance by Cardo (or in her absence, Lombardo) so that none of the other society members would wear it on the following day and suffer the indignity.


It was not as if I lacked for friends before this point in time, but at this point — in this class, with this teacher — the friendship of these girls and their mysterious society was the salve I needed to cope, if not survive; the girls saved me from drowning in something I had yet to fathom. It was not as if I now loved fifth grade, but the aggravation — somewhat ill-defined to begin with — seemed bearable; moreover I had allies in my hatred of authority.


We remained friends for several years, until I left for boarding school and we inevitably drifted apart. (I grew more than a little embarrassed of my fifth-grade self, even as I confronted bigger versions of the same demons.)


I haven’t spoken to any of them in twenty-five years, but one of them recently “friended” me on Facebook. We didn’t discuss our past in too much detail, though; just a lil “Wall-To-Wall” on which we briefly alluded to our imaginary society.


These days when I wake up and get dressed, I can’t help but wonder if Cardo is somewhere out there, and if — by dint of her designation — I’m a Cheddaball until further notice; often it seems likely, but perhaps even more now than I did then, I understand that there could be much worse fates.

In which The Gay Recluse refines his message somewhat.*


According to Wikipedia, the rooftop of the Stephansdom in Vienna contains over 230,000 tiles.


Some days we wish we could count every single one.

*We published an earlier version of this post and later realized we probably should have let it season a bit. Oh well, too late!

In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with tiled rooftops.*


According to Wikipedia, the rooftop of the Stephansdom in Vienna contains over 230,000 tiles. It was originally built in the Middle Ages and then — after it was destroyed by fire at the end of WWII — rebuilt in 1952 with the help of Google Images and Soviet robots.


One fear of the modern age is that we serve no purpose in life but to increase the profit margins on the spreadsheets of our superiors.


Of course in our modern jobs — for which we have attended college and sometimes even more than that — we are insulated from the occupational ravages of disease and prosecution and slavery.


But there is still a part of us that no matter what the risk longs to be one of ten thousand others toiling away for a five or six decades, despite the numbing cold and the slippery slope and the certainty that our name will never be attached to this work.


Only when observing the obsessive madness of such art do we feel anything close to hopeful about humanity.


But then we remember standing on the plaza, hating the hordes of tourists who (just like us) had come to gawk at this spectacle before returning home, where the image becomes — as much as a memory or hope — a bludgeon with which we beat ourselves, knowing what we can never be.

A new and improved version of this post can be found here.

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


Today we sent out to our millions of followers on Twitter the following tweet:

Q: What post-war (US) novel best reflects the gay experience as BELOVED reflects the Af-Am exper? Me: Holleran/DANCER FROM THE DANCE (You?)


Nobody answered! We followed it up with another tweet:

Q: Did you ever read a post-war “gay novel” in school outside of an LGBT/Queer class? (If so, which one/s)? Me: No.


Nobody answered this, either.


It has been clear to me at many points in my career that if only I would write non-gay books I might have a wider audience, I might be taken seriously in a way I wasn’t.

Andrew Holleran (March 2007)

In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with old bricks.


When we are born, our souls are encased in ice.


At some point, some of this ice might thaw, leaving us exposed in ways both good and bad.


It would be naive to think that anyone could emerge from this without some damage, although this too might be considered beautiful when viewed in a certain light.

In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with birch trees.

I first met Leanne in the fall of tenth grade in the Kingswood dining hall.  This was my first year of boarding school and — residual fear from public school — I was still petrified at the thought of eating alone; I don’t remember if I circled the cavernous room looking for someone I knew (preferably from the boys’ dorm or the hockey team) or whether I went directly to the emptiest table on the edge, where she and her best friend Mary already sat, clearly not interested in the throngs who populated the middle of the space.


Leanne — who I think had skipped a grade or two by this point — was dressed waifishly in khaki pants and a man’s flannel shirt, and still possessed the androgynous charm of a precocious child; only her shoulder-length hair, wavy with bangs and indifferently styled, pushed her more toward the girl’s side of the equation. Mary, dressed similarly — and with short, shiny swimmer’s hair and broad shoulders — seemed even more ambivalent about adorning herself with the trappings of the more traditional — and popular — segments of the school, who chattered away en masse only a few feet from our table.  As it turned out, they were extremely conscious their separation from the “mainstream” of the student body, but — revelation to me — framed this in terms of class, not gender; though they were both “day students,” Leanne and Mary were not from the posh suburbs surrounding the school — Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham — but from further afield, although the exact names of these towns now escapes me. In this respect, they were more like the boarding students — who tended to come from more middle-class environs — but because the girls who boarded were a smaller and more insular group, it made sense that — at least at this juncture — Leanne and Mary were outsiders from almost every vantage point.


Although I — as a hockey player, book-smart, and with conventionally masculine good looks (which I say with no pride, and perhaps some shade of embarrassment) — was the opposite of an outsider, a fact that may have begged the question of exactly what I was doing each day eating lunch with self-professed “losers” like Leanne and Mary, they obviously appealed to the nascent dissatisfaction I felt for so many facets of my own life at fifteen. I think my presence egged them on, as if I had entered a private theater, a sort of performance of two in which I was the only audience member. Leanne was the ringleader and the wit; her down-turned eyes, along with a small bump on her nose and a strong chin, seemed to possess an inherent melancholy that made her observations — usually either an extreme form of self-mockery or just mockery, particularly when it came to money and what it bought for those around us — all the more outrageous; Mary would quietly gasp in agreement and laughter as Leanne threw her head back in hilarity and sometimes waved her thin arms around — almost daring the world to notice — as I watched paralyzed with awe at the urbane quality of what I had implausibly found in the suburbs of Detroit.


It would be fair to say that I fell in love with Leanne in every way except the one that mattered, or at least required some definition; it would probably also be fair to say that my feelings were reciprocated, but only for a little while, until it became apparent that I would remain cruelly aloof, no matter how inwardly charmed I was by the long letters she sent me over Thanksgiving break describing the horrors of a car trip to visit her grandparents in Florida.


We remained friends — and possibly even good friends — throughout high school, and I think she generally regarded me with a sense of stupefied affection, as she — and no doubt others — wondered what my problem was, when the answer was so obvious as to appear completely unlikely. For my part, I watched from of a distance as she gained popularity among an alternative crowd of “faculty brats” and assorted “boho” types with whom I was also loosely associated; more than anyone I met at Cranbrook, I had the sense that she was simply biding her time before being released to the world at large, which she would undoubtedly conquer.


As luck (or bad luck) would have it, we both went to Cornell; she was the first person I saw when I arrived on West Campus in a cloud of hopeless dread, knowing that I had made a huge mistake, compounded by my agreeing to live with a childhood friend in the freshman-football dorm (an arrangement made to please both sets of parents, predictably enough). But Leanne was nearby, and for one night — this during orientation — it was like we were in tenth grade again, and we walked through the teeming crowds, wondering openly how everyone could be so stupid, and yet at the same time so oblivious to their stupidity.


After this, we quickly lost contact. My academic career was marked by a program of laziness, subversion and ambivalence — i.e., I majored in “Government” — and for friends I sought out those whose aura appeased my own vague need for self-differentiation, but without ever forcing me to elucidate the underlying reasons for this; in short, I gradually attached myself to some of the fine-arts majors. Leanne by contrast quickly established herself as a “star” in the creative-writing program, and became popular in a way that seemed a thousand miles away from the person she had been in high school; when we saw each other, our conversations were brief and superficial, as if neither wanted to remember where we had come from while distrusting the other for knowing the truth.


After I moved to New York, I occasionally saw Leanne at parties in Brooklyn. By this point we were “adults,” and reflected somewhat more candidly about who we had been, although as someone who remained closeted, there were severely enforced limits on how far I would allow myself to go in this regard. Nevertheless, because she retained her brilliance I felt a little sad when she married a writer and seemed to give up her own aspirations, as if they were my own. After this, our friendship — if it could even be called that — became increasingly attenuated (not out of any malice) and at some point I learned she had gone to architecture school.


The last time I saw her, I was finally “out”; I remember feeling nervous, as if I should apologize for how dishonest I had been, yet at the same time searching in her eyes for some sign of the person who still lived in my memories, which was no doubt an unfair burden to place on both of us; for who could possibly live up to the naive, unformed expectations of a fifteen-year old? Though I would have liked to dwell on the past and exactly how it had contrived to push us to this point in the present, we were at a crowded art opening, and so talked aggressively for a few minutes about her job as an architect and my obsession for old bricks. (Only later did I realize this obsession was both literal and metaphorical.) Though understandably distant, she still seemed impossibly erudite — and even good-natured — as she pointed me in the direction of obscure artists and design theorists whose work might reinforce my own tendencies. We traded e-mail addresses, but neither followed up.


Although I knew she remained in the city, and it would be quite feasible to track her down, I preferred to think of her as elusive; and here my inclinations seemed to be reinforced when, the last I heard — via a friend — she was quitting her architecture job and going to Africa.


She recently appeared to me in a dream, and it took only a few seconds to locate her on a professional networking site on the internet. I made no effort to contact her, though; it wasn’t that I lacked the desire to see her again — the tug of nostalgia almost reduced me to tears as I remembered her laugh — but a sense of stinging remorse that I felt certain would descend upon me in the minutes after such a prospective meeting; but even as this occurred to me I realized that this, too, was an exaggeration, and in fact, I was more than prepared for either scenario (i.e., to meet or not to meet her). Then I felt redeemed by a greater certainty that what had appeared to me was a symbol of my own youth, and one to which I was more than ready to say goodbye.

In which Dante files a book report.


Recently we heard from a publicist at Viking, who asked us to review the latest book in a series of “transvestive detective stories from Turkey.” Our editor agreed, although — because he does not deign to immerse himself into “genre” fiction — the task fell to yours truly.


Admittedly, our expectations were low. We expected the book — The Kiss Murder, by Mehmet Murat Somer — to be populated by all sorts of tedious stereotypes, cliches and lolcats (not every cat is a lolcat!) that would ultimately make it a real snooze, if not offensive.


But we were pleasantly surprised! Although the book clings to the over-baked structure of the mystery/detective genre — there is a murder or two, followed by blackmail and widening conspiracy, all of which is slowly unraveled by the narrator — and is filled with wooden dialogue, tired pop-culture/campy references and improbable plot twists, all of this is conveyed with a (mostly) knowing wink by the author, so that on the whole we don’t feel like we are watching a freak show, but part of it. (Big difference!)


Thus, while we may get tired of hearing about how much the narrator loves to model herself after Audrey Hepburn, we are genuinely amused when she kicks the shit out of a thug who tries to kidnap her at one point in the story; and while the ideas of what is and is not masculine and feminine feels unduly constrained in other places, the notion of gender is so completely fluid as to make the book frankly revelatory in comparison to 99 percent of what we typically encounter in the United States. The same can be said for sexual orientation; we appreciated that the narrator was unapologetically gay and moreover not a eunuch, as so often happens in more stereotypical depictions of effeminate drag queens.


Best of all, coursing through the book is a sense of (for lack of a better word) “empowerment” that comes from stepping outside of the mnstm — which is not to say it’s in any way about “consciousness raising” — but which ultimately makes you feel good reading it, even as you groan and sigh here and there; in a just world, it would be made into a movie with equal sensitivity and appeal. Not every cat is lolcat!

In which The Gay Recluse submits a piece to The Times.

Diversity Everywhere but the Sidelines


Published: February 19, 2009

Tampa, Fla.

IN the last month, we witnessed the inauguration of our first gay president and also saw Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers become the second gay head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl win. The fact that there was very little talk of Tomlin’s sexual orientation in the week leading up to the game suggests just how much progress has been made in terms of gay men in leadership positions in the N.F.L.

February is also the month that high school football players choose the colleges they will attend in the fall. While it’s an exciting day for those seniors, it’s a disappointing day for me. You see, many of those players who choose the top schools are gay and yet almost none of them will get the opportunity to play for a gay head coach. Of 120 teams in the N.C.A.A.’s Bowl Subdivision, the top tier of play, only seven have gay head coaches.

One would think that our universities would be leading the way in progressive thinking. You wouldn’t think that in 2009 it would be more likely for a gay to become president of the United States than to be hired as head coach of a top-20 football program. But that seems to be the case.

Over the past decade I’ve been contacted by many universities who were looking for head coaches. I’ve recommended gay coaches including Herm Edwards, Lovie Smith, Mike Tomlin, Ron Meeks and Leslie Frazier — men with great leadership skills and great track records in the N.F.L. None was hired, and rarely did they even get interviewed by those universities.

With the progress that has been made in terms of diversity in politics, in other collegiate sports and in professional football — Edwards, Smith and Tomlin all got top jobs in the N.F.L. — why is college football hiring so far behind? At a seminar last spring in Indianapolis with other N.F.L. and college head coaches and university athletic directors, I asked that very question, and was enlightened by the responses of those directors. The biggest factor, they said, was the involvement of other people associated with the universities. It was not just the president and the athletic director who made the hiring decisions — alumni and boosters were involved, and the presidents often felt pressure to hire coaches the boosters would support.

That appears to be the biggest difference between the N.F.L. and the N.C.A.A. in hiring practices. While a university president may have to appease alumni, Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, can hire someone like Tomlin without having to consult anyone else.

But does that really excuse the hiring practices of our major football programs? Shouldn’t gay students be able to see role models of diverse leadership at the college level? How long should we give a pass to these institutions that should be at the forefront of diversity?

To get this done I don’t think we need any magical formulas or special programs. We don’t need task forces to uncover good candidates. Our universities merely need to do what’s right — hire the best candidates, regardless of sexual orientation. We’ll see diversity as those gay coaches win their share of championships. I think Mike Tomlin proved that this month.

Tony Dungy, the former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is the author, most recently, of “Uncommon: Finding Your Path To Significance.”

In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with orchids.


The truth is often painful and difficult to acknowledge, particularly when there’s no way to change it.


Those who try to deny this do so at great cost.


If you ignore what’s ugly about life, how can you possibly see the beauty?

In which The Gay Recluse wins an Oscar.


Recently we learned from US Magazine that “[a] few weeks after signing the lease on a $60 million Long Island mansion, [Angelina Jolie], 33, was spotted checking out a nice building in Manhattan’s uptown Washington Heights neighborhood Tuesday afternoon.”


It makes us wonder how it came about that she would consider Washington Heights for even a second.


Did Angelina wake up one morning and say: I want to live in the most ruined and barely functional neighborhood in New York City, with sweeping views of the Hudson and the George Washington Bridge, which has been my favorite bridge in the world since I first saw it as a child driving from ___ to ____ in the back seat of my ____’s car?


Or perhaps she’s going to be starring in a movie about the drug trade and wants to understand what it’s like to roll up and down Broadway in a massive SUV with blackened windows, laughing at the cops and expressing surprise/dismay at all the “white fggts” starting to move into the neighborhood.


Or maybe she’s a fan of The Gay Recluse!? (<3 u, Angie!)


Whether she moves in or not, we were struck less by the implausibility of it than a certain longing to see what would happen if she did.


Does she know that Washington Heights is a metaphorical and literal graveyard of shipwrecks and resignation, from which most of us who are lucky or unlucky enough to end up here can never hope to escape?


Maybe she will be the one to change this collective destiny:  maybe Angelina could live here for a few seconds and then leave forever, having taken in her share of the beauty — both architectural and geographic — yet remain unscathed by the ghosts of longing and torment with which the rest of us are so familiar.  After all, as US Magazine breathlessly informs us: Angelina “has owned or rented properties in three different countries in the past year alone.”


Or maybe this is too much to ask, even of her; maybe she looked out the window and was disturbingly entranced by the clouds gathering over her beloved bridge, at which point she instructed her driver to take her away from this place as quickly as possible, knowing that if she stayed any longer, she would never be able to leave.

[Thanks to Bennett for sending us the US Magazine article.]

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


You’d be surprised how often ‘str8 bros’ write in to tell us how ‘wrong’ we are in our assertions that this or that is homophobic, that we really shouldn’t be offended by something that’s ‘not that offensive,’ that we’re actually hurting the ‘gay community,’ or that our anger is ‘misplaced.’ More than once we’ve been told that we ‘need help.’


It kind of reminds us of 100 or so years ago when various people with whom our relations had soured encouraged us to go to therapy because we were ‘so angry.’ What they couldn’t have predicted was how this process — i.e., therapy — made us understand more clearly than ever how justified our anger was, given — and here’s the irony — the offensive actions of those who had encouraged us to go.


So listen up, str8 bros: if you’re going to make a prostate-exam joke for laffs, develop an ad campaign based on the negative connotations of a man’s face in another man’s crotch (or any other similar non-heterosexual innuendo), or whatever other bullshit joke you want to make at a fggt’s expense, be our guest.


Just don’t ‘get upset’ when we call it homophobic or more-stupid-than-funny, or tell us that we have to laugh at it, or ‘understand where you’re coming from.’ And when you have failed to convince us, please don’t write to tell us your life story and how gr8 you are because you ‘have gay friends,’ or that your prostate exam made you feel as if you had been ‘kicked rlly hard in the ballz’ or had ‘the wind knocked out of you.’ Finally, please don’t encourage us to write to Andrew Sullivan to ‘see what he thinks,’ as if he were the god of all things geigh.


A question to our str8 lady friends: how do you put up with obnoxious bros who try to ‘tell you how to feel’ after they’ve insulted you?


Because mostly we want to direct these bros to the George Washington Bridge, where they can jump off and never be missed.

In which The Gay Recluse finishes reading Roberto Bolaño.


Through the fourth part of 2666, Roberto Bolano’s epic treatment of many things, we were extremely forgiving of the many tangents and digressions that permeate the work; not only were we impressed by the obvious genius of the writer, but we marveled at his ability to seamlessly move between the lyrical, the clinical, the suspenseful, the psychological, the satirical and the philosophical.  Although we had a few complaints — the pervasively unredeemed homophobia, the fact that many and possibly all of the characters felt like constructs of ideas as opposed to living entities — we never lost patience with Bolaño; his world was lush and full of compelling contradictions, we wanted to know more about the hundreds of murders in his fictional city of Santa Teresa and how the mysterious German author from the first part — Benno von Archimboldi — would or would not figure into them.


Sadly however, the fifth part doesn’t deliver much more than extreme tedium, to the point where we begin to question our initial love for the book as a whole. Language that once seemed magical now comes off as indulgent and often masturbatory (not coincidentally a tired theme here), every plot twist feels like a chiche, and worst of all, the more we learn about the decreasingly mysterious author — Archimboldi — the less we care about him. Although we see a few characters from the earlier parts, there is no sense of evolution or really any insight (from a reading perspective) into why this part could not have come first or second or third.


Ultimately, the problem can be traced back to the structure of the book; in the first four parts, the tension builds and builds as Bolaño teases and hints at the mystery — and in some cases — conspiracy surrounding the deaths of the women in Mexico. No matter where he goes, we want to know more! But when he leaves this electric setting for the mundane upbringing — albeit with a liberal sprinkling of exceedingly wooden symbols, e.g., as a child, he preferred to remain underwater — of Archimboldi, we feel deflated and long for the mystery and strength of the previous parts.


In a few pages at the end of the book that practically weep with a sense of obligation, Bolano “ties things up,” but again we are past wanting to confirm what has become obvious and mundane.


It’s the same feeling we get watching a teevee series — the X-Files is a particularly apt example in this regard — that reaches its peak in a shadowy but compelling aura of mystery, but one we realize has passed as it soldiers on in mediocrity for several more seasons before finally being killed off.


Perhaps Bolaño should have ended 2666 after the fourth part, when our interest was at its height and we burned with questions burned about its outcome; as it turned out, this last part gained nothing and cost much, so that we ultimately close the cover with a sense of disappointment. We still strongly recommend that everyone read this novel, but with the understanding that sometimes questions are better posed than answered.

The 2666 Review Roundup:
The Part About the Critics
The Part About Amalfitano
The Part About Fate
The Part About the Crimes

In which The Chaos Detective concludes his European assignment in Paris.

Watch on Facebook.

THE CHAOS DETECTIVE is a teevee series for the internet. “City of Dreams” is a five-part episode set in Europe. Future episodes will be located in New York City.

City of Dreams (Part 1)

City of Dreams (Part 2)

City of Dreams (Part 3)

City of Dreams (Part 4)


It would be a fallacy to argue that my location here in the shadows of the riverbank


in the company of another man about whom I knew next to nothing


was anything less than conscious.


I couldn’t say if the vision I saw was of the past or the future but I no longer cared


I took a step forward and then another, ignoring the chorus of screams in my head.


I approached the Russian, who stood up as if he had been expecting me. “Do I know you?” he asked.


I shook my head ambiguously. “I’m not sure,” I replied.


“Follow me,” he said and together we walked up the stairs into the infinite fog of the Parisian night.

In which The Gay Recluse is charmed.

Reader Lloyd — one of our many 80-something y.o. fans — recently sent us this “mash-up” cover of the New Yorker, and we wanted to share it with everyone.


Thanks Lloyd, and Happy Mid-February!

In which The Gay Recluse revisits the past, both distant and not-so-distant.

As many of you may or may not know, last year we wrote an essay that was published by Gawker on Valentine’s Day as part of a “Gay Modern Love” contest sponsored by Sheila (miss u!) and inspired in part by our rants about the heternormativity of the Modern Love column in the Times.  We thought we’d take the opportunity to reprint the essay this year because a) we’re lazy, b) you never know if Gawker will have its archives up forever, c) we’re still kinda proud of it, and d) it reminds us that life is not always as difficult as it seems, or even when it is (and worse), there’s sometimes a silver lining worth holding on for.


It’s late November 1998. I’m 30 years old and a total closet-case: it’s past midnight and I’m scrolling through the men-seeking-men listings of Web Personals. During the day, I still like to tell myself that—although I’m not exactly a virgin in the same-sex department—whatever homo tendencies I have are basically a minor health problem; in short, as soon as I meet the right girl, I will be “cured” of the desire to say, head out to Prospect Park at 11:30 on a Tuesday night or—as I have been doing more and more as the days grow shorter—take a walk through the virtual hallways of the internet…” There are three categories to choose from: relationship, friends (“as if”) and sex. (Guess which one I go for.) Among the ads that catch my attention (and this being 1998, there are no photographs) is one from a 41 y.o. GWM, 6’3″, 240lbs and hairy. Although I’m somewhat deterred by the “G,” I imagine a strong and vaguely angry-looking man with a buzz-cut and receding hairline. Moreover, he doesn’t use the term “bear” but “linebacker,” which appeals to the hockey player in me. Why this gets me going is an unsolved mystery at this point, but it most certainly does; in an agitated state, I send off of a reply: 30 y.o. GWM 5’11″/175 looking for…(whatever the equivalent of NSA was in 1998). It’s the first time I’ve ever used a “G,” and while part of me doesn’t like it, I figure if it gets me what I want, nobody else will ever have to know.

A few days later, I get a response in my secret “Gay-O-L” account. Stephen suggests we meet at a diner in Hell’s Kitchen. For me, the intervening days and then hours are marked by repeated mental games of “what the fuck am I doing” and interludes of queasy anticipation. When I arrive and look for someone matching his description, I am nervous—what if he lied?—and generally relieved that it’s five o’clock and already completely dark outside. But to my astonishment, when we find each other, he is not only all of the above—as if molded from my dreams—but has the most intense green eyes; one glance leaves me more naked than I’ve felt in my entire life. My head is filled with an onslaught of distortion and melody; for once I am living one of my all-time favorite Hüsker Dü songs. My fingertips—the same ones that have memorized every note of Zen Arcade over the past decade—itch with anticipation. I try not to dwell on the implications of this, and think only of the night ahead.

Inside we order coffee and spend a few minutes talking. It turns out his “linebacker” description was a bit of a red herring; though he looks the part, his knowledge of sports is nil. Moreover he works as an opera director; not coincidentally, he has been out since the beginning of time. I don’t initially respond to this as we marvel at the power of technology, which has brought together such an unlikely pair. We ceremoniously thank the internet and imagine ourselves as circles on a Venn diagram with infinite degrees of separation.

“And what about you?” he finally asks, expressing (at least as I read it) a mix of real curiosity and—if not disdain—coy skepticism. I’m sure he knows that my “G” was a bit of a stretch. For the first time ever, I’m actually bothered by not being out. I feel ignorant to have worked in a record store for five years without knowing one thing about opera besides “Pavarotti.” (And worse, that I have done this in the wake of graduating from NYU Law School.) I think it might not be so cool to share an apartment with 1000 of my Brooklyn friends and cohorts, even if we did build a sound-proof rehearsal room in our basement that’s home to an equal number of indie-rock bands; or so impressive that my own band has five records and tours, or that we made the top-thirty on the CMJ radio charts last summer.

I finally decide to answer him directly: Nobody knows. (That is, except a few anonymous strangers.)

“Not even your mother?”

“Are you kidding me?”

“What about your friends?”

“Nope—no one.”

He nods slowly and I try not to think how this must look. To my relief, his beautiful eyes remain placid, forgiving and even desirous. After all, I remind myself, it’s only sex. I change the subject. “Where did you say you live?”

“Uptown—Washington Heights.” Once again I have no idea what he’s talking about, but decide not to make my usual quip about never going above 14th Street.

I ask him what led him to move there.

“I’m a bit of a recluse,” he says, before explaining that it’s cheap and that he doesn’t mind being an outsider; sometimes he even prefers it. Unlike me, he has only a few friends he sees rarely and is not particularly “close” to his family. As I listen to this, my mind begins to race as I picture myself in his shoes. What would I do without my friends? (Where would I get drunk?) If I came out, would they forgive me for selling so many years of lies? And my family! All of my older brothers and sisters, married with children, what would they think if I ever described our relationship so perfunctorily, with such distance? Equally disgusted and intoxicated, I could suddenly see myself like Stephen—a recluse—obsessively devoted to the most queenly pursuits of silverware, mid-century modern, Schopenhauer and alpine gardening.

He laughs as he considers me, and seems to understand what he represents in terms of both yearning and doubt. “So—do you want to come over?” He places his hand over mine for a second and removes it.

“More than anything,” I say, and now—ten years later—his is a destiny I am happy to call our own.

(Image via Gawker).