Javier Bardem in Skyfall

I Wish I Were a Sociopath

The mental tirade that kicked off this piece began the other evening in Trader Joe’s, just after I returned from a ten-day trip for Thanksgiving in New York to visit the family.  Normally, TJ’s has far cooler than regular supermarket music, usually vintage-ish, Blondie-like bops that play on maximum rotation in your head long after you’ve left the store, until you hear something else to replace it. 

Royce from Royce and Marilyn

In Search of Royce and Marilyn

This post is dedicated to Jonathan Kemp, whose latest book Twentysix has just arrived from the printers and is available on order from Amazon.  It’s twenty-six prose poems about random sexual encounters, or it was when I read an early version of it.  When we were a couple, I made Jonathan write me in as one of the stories, but I might not have made the final cut; I wasn’t exactly a random encounter, nor am I exactly prose-worthy in bed.  (This just in: Jonathan’s first book, London Triptych, is available as of today in the US.)

A couple of years ago, Jonathan sent me this video as a sort of birthday card.  It’s mandatory viewing to follow the rest of this post:

The moment the video was over, my mouth was agape and little cartoon hearts could be seen popping joyously around my head.  I’ve known many aging alcoholic drag queens in my day, but none could surpass Royce, even if she is a real woman.  This wasn’t mere bitterness or curmudgeonry, Royce’s was cuvée de prestige vitriol of the finest vintage.  I watched it over and over and over again.  My roommate at the time was a big burly gay plumber named John Wood, who is more masculine than any straight man I’ve ever met, like something Tom of Finland could at best imagine and draw as a cartoon, but would never meet in real life.  He and I stomped around New York belting “Oh, just SHUT UP!  You know nothing!  God on a wheel!” for an entire August, until one day John said, “We need to stop.  I think we’re annoying people.”