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May 9th, 2022

Foxy Gay Hustler Posters That Weren’t…But Anyway…

Finding a copy of this poster in a flea market shop in Cambria, even though it’s only a smaller sized reproduction, just thrilled me to my bones a few moments ago. I have been wanting a copy of this since I was a young guy.

The first time I laid eyes on it, in the window of a head shop in College Park sometime in the mid 70s, I thought the model was the sexyist long haired guy I’d ever seen. I was working for a department store driving returns for repair to various shops around Washington, and every time I passed by that head shop I made a mental note to go in there sometime when I was off the clock, and ask if the poster was for sale.

Alas, I put it off too long. One day I drove past and the shop was closed down, the insides emptied and the poster gone. I never got a good enough look at it to see what band it was for. The psychedelic lettering was impossible for me to read sitting in my delivery truck at a stop light a half block away. But the image of that sexy naked long haired guy was forever burned into my young gay adult brain.

Some years later I chanced upon a book, a very large trade paperback…I’m not at home now so I can’t be sure, but I think it was “The Art of Rock”, that had in its pages a history of rock posters, one reprint to a page along with commentary. And there it was…The James Cotton Band at the Grand Ballroom in Detroit. The book’s author seemed to think the poster began the decline of the art of the poster, as it represented, in his words, a gay hustler motif. But by then I was used to that sort of disrespect, even from the Summer of Love alumni.

So I kept searching. And searching. Eventually along comes the Internet. And search engines. Finally I see a reproduction of the poster I can download and add to my graphics library. And this is where I find out the model in the poster was…Vanessa Redgrave.

Oh.

Decades later I would joke about it in the second episode of A Coming Out Story

I have this theory that our libidoes glom onto whatever fashions and styles were in vogue when we came of age and our hormones began to percolate. Mine happened in a time of long hair and low rise blue jeans. But my gay libido never strayed into hunk territory, and there’s probably a whole ‘nother post I should do about that, and all the disrespect gay men who love lithe and handsome and very very cute males get from other gay males who are all about hunk.

So now I know my foxy long haired gay hustler is actually a foxy long haired woman. Fine. I still wanted that damn poster. A lifetime of growing up in a culture that at best wouldn’t acknowledge the existence of such as me, if not wipe us out of existence altogether, gave me lots of practise in mental gender switching…usually with flipping the pronouns in the lyrics to songs I heard on the radio, but occasionally in advertising, where I would mentally redraw some of the fashion models I saw as guys, a skillset that would get a lot of work in later years as I pursued my art…


The original model for this was a young women I saw in a google image search…

 

..which made it easy for me to look at that James Cotton Band poster and still see a sexy long haired guy. Let’s hear it for gay hustler motif!

There’s a shop just down Falls Road from my house where classic rock posters from a bygone era are auctioned off. Once I asked the guy running it about this one. Oh…the James Cotton Vanessa Redgrave one….yes…that one is very popular…if you can find one in good condition it’ll go for about six grand now…

Oh.

This afternoon I took a long leisurely drive up the California coast to a cute little coastal town named Cambria. I wanted to wander around the shops for a bit, and wandered into one with some poster reproductions in the window. I have this stubborn streak that is in constant conflict with my inner pessimism. In the back were racks like the old LP racks with what looked like hundreds of reproductions of various posters all neatly sleeved like classic comic books for sale. I reckoned it might take me a half hour to flip through them all with no guarantee of success. But I got down to it.

Flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… oh, a Rick Griffin classic… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… another Griffin… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… Doctor Strangelove… so there are 60s movie posters in here too… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… I wonder if there are any Victor Moscoso posters in here… flip… flip… flip… Failsafe… I think I’d rather have the Doctor Strangelove one…flip… flip… flip… Jefferson Airplane… flip… flip… flip… flip… if I see that Hendrix poster Bob had over the fireplace I’m buying it… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… flip… THERE IT IS!!!!!!

Finally. Along with that one I bought a couple Rick Griffin ones and the Doctor Strangelove one. They’ll go up in my art room…but the foxy gay hustler that wasn’t, but still is whenever I look at it, gets pride of place right above my drafting table.

by Bruce | Link | React!

May 18th, 2012

Denial: Not Just A River In Egypt

A Facebook friend’s status post and subsequent comment thread tosses me back to a memory of my pre coming out to myself days that is both funny and cringe inducing at the same time.   Funny how often memories of our teen years are like that…

A friend is posing for an underwear fashion shoot and he’s asking for advice on getting a nice pair of black briefs because black is the specified color of the shoot and all he has are a pair of AussieBums that he doesn’t like.   He points to a link to the AussieBum page and I take a look.   They’re nice, thinks I. I have a thing for briefs and find it regrettable that they’re not the fashion in the younger set anymore. When I was a kid, boxers were what the old men wore.   Now I’m getting old myself and boxers are what the young guys wear and they think briefs are old guy underwear.   But briefs are still out there, gay guys at least still like wearing them, and the AussieBums I’m looking at are very nice…except like a lot of underwear companies these days, the waistband is like a damn billboard with the company name occupying almost as much real estate as the material below it.

I can appreciate a company wanting to get its name out there…but I really hate it when the branding on clothes demands more attention then the body wearing them. I am not your walking billboard. Plus, when I see an attractive guy, and especially if he’s not wearing very much, I don’t appreciate advertising getting in the way. My Facebook friend merely replies that it’s all about the branding, and that normally it’s only a glimpse of the wasteband that’s visible. A company has to get your attention when and where it can.   Okay.   Fine.   I get that.   But I’m still annoyed by it.

And then suddenly I’m remembering myself as a teenager, and those first confusing, thrilling times when getting that glimpse of an elastic waistband peeking out above a guy’s   belt line would make me all hot and bothered for some reason I really didn’t want to explore just then.   I touched on it in Episode 10 of A Coming Out Story…

There’s a toss-off line in John Fox’s The Boys On The Rock, where the young protagonist Billy takes note of the different kinds of underwear he and his new boyfriend are wearing as they are undressing each other.   It’s the kind of detail, that the kid even knows how some brands of underwear are different from other brands, that tells the reader this kid has been looking at guys in a sexual way for a while now. I suspect some of my straight peers back then could tell just by glancing at a girl’s tight shirt who made her bra, and whether it had hooks or snaps. They’d have probably been surprised to learn that men’s underwear differed from brand to brand in anything more then just price. Had I told them I could tell what make of underwear they were wearing just by looking at the waistband they’d have known more about me then I was ready to tell anyone. Including myself.

In the 1960s, long before they’d come out with such things as designer underwear for men, you had maybe four major brands of underwear.   There were Fruit of the Looms, Hanes, BVDs and Jockeys. Back then your choices were white cotton, high in the waist and cut such that the leg openings didn’t rise up the thigh much.   Not terribly sexy by today’s standards. All the same to a gay kid whose hormones had tentatively started percolating the underwear pages of the various catalogs suddenly became pretty riveting reading. I started ogling them when I was nine or ten I think.

I can hear the snickers now.   A catalog? Given the level of open sexuality these days, gay and straight, it’s probably hard for people who didn’t live that period to get how sexually repressed it was, and how shocking the free love morality of the Beat and Woodstock generations were to their elders.   My peers and I grew up in their shadow and in the 1960s even my heterosexual peers had to resort to the catalogs to get their fix, though they could also at least find the occasionally discarded Playboy in the trash bins.   I remember a friend finding one of those and gleefully passing it around as we gathered in one of our secret hiding places. There was an article about a nudest camp and I remember being completely riveted by the few naked guys I saw in the pictures. My companions were all making admiring comments about the women and parrot like, I mimicked them. But I never took my eyes off the naked guys. That was discovering sex when you were a kid back in those days. You and a bunch of the other guys, in your treehouse or fort or secret hiding place, passing around a Playboy someone had found in the trash.   There was no Internet you could browse alone in your room when your parents weren’t looking.

I was careful to ogle the catalogs when I knew I was alone in the house, knowing full well at some level what I was doing and yet at the same time not admitting it to myself. And true to form the budding little geek in me began around then to critically analyze the object of my fascination. It wasn’t long before I could spot the difference between a Hanes and a BVD at a glance. The catalog retailers, Sears, Montgomery Ward, J.C.Penny, used to buy from one of the big companies and rebrand them with their own names. I could tell just by looking at them.   These are made by Fruit of the Loom…these are really BVDs…

Most spellbinding of all were the Jockeys. The first time I saw another kid in the gym locker room wearing one of those Y fronts my jaw almost hit the floor. I’d never seen anything so…alluring. Particularly on that one kid who had a body that looked like it had stepped out of one of my anatomy for artists books. It was junior high and I was fourteen or fifteen.   Being careful not to gawk in the locker room wasn’t usually a problem though. It was so embarrassing to have to undress, let alone shower naked with a bunch of other guys, that I became adept at tuning everything out and just getting on with it (I joke sometimes that it’s a trick I learned in Vacation Bible School). Plus, even at that age when you are busy becoming all hormones and nerve ends my libido was very low key and persnickety. But there were close calls. When the other guys my age began rhapsodizing about advertising for bras and woman’s lingerie I knew I had to keep my mouth shut. But I wasn’t ready to admit to myself why.

In high school, in the early 70s low riser bell bottom jeans started coming into fashion and I began seeing other guys my age wearing them in school.   Not every guy who wore them really had the body for it, but those who did drove me nuts every time they walked by.   The best of these really showed off a guy’s…attributes…nicely.   And if the shirt wasn’t tucked in you might see a glimpse of elastic peeking up above the belt line.   By the time I was 17 I had become I became expert at telling the brands apart just by the waistband because the stitching each company used was different. Fruit Of The Looms had a small blue stripe with a yellow stripe below it. BVDs had a black dotted line, sometimes with a red dotted line below it.   Nowadays on a lot of brands the elastic waistband is a damn billboard.   Back then it was something you decoded stealthily, like a secret message.

How I could become such an expert on men’s underwear and at the same time remain clueless about my sexual orientation is something I’ve been trying to delve into in my cartoon, A Coming Out Story.   It was a combination of the horrible things I was taught about homosexuals back in my ninth grade sex-ed class, and the relentless stereotypes of that time. On the one hand I knew I could not possibly be a homosexual because I was none of the horrible things that I’d been taught homosexuals were.   On the other, I knew perfectly well what would happen to me if it became common knowledge that I was one.   Already through most of my grade school life I’d been tormented and bullied severely because I was small, scrawny, and I hated sports.   Faggot was a routine insult kids like me got whether we were actually thought to be queer or not.   I didn’t need the extra added threat of the other kids knowing for certain that I was, in fact, a queer.

So I kept it all inside. But sex is an instinct older then the fish, let alone the mammals, let alone the primates, let alone humans, let alone teenage boys. You can try to bottle it up inside of you, but it will find its way out no matter how much you’d rather it just went away. Even such a tame little apologetic libido as my own.   It just kept…insisting that I look at all the beautiful guys.   Especially the ones with a tempting bit of skin showing between the belt line and the shirt.   Insisting that I look as they walked by.   Oh…look over there…that one…well now, his hips move very nicely as he walks don’t they?   Long legs…   Nice jeans…   Oh look…he’s wearing Jockeys…

I count it as a blessing that I was able to avoid the years of self loathing other gay guys of my generation endured.   I fell in love and in that wonderful glorious rush of teenage first love was able to finally come out to myself and not see myself as perverted, mentally ill or an abomination in the sight of God.   But I understand completely how it is that some people, strident cultural conservatives getting caught with rent boys, politicians getting caught soliciting vice cops in parks or public restrooms, can do the things they do, things that fairly write I Am A Homosexual on their foreheads in neon lights, and still resolutely not consider themselves to be gay.   All I have to do is remember back to when I was a kid alone in the house with one of the big mail order catalogs, gawking at the men’s underwear pages, one part of me completely entranced, the other just keeping its mouth shut.

  

[Edited a tad…]   I had to add the words “advertising for” to the end of one of the paragraphs there to make it clear my childhood friends weren’t transvestites.   I’m not saying any of them aren’t…just that back then they were ogling advertising for bras and women’s lingerie like a lot of boys that age did back then, not fantasizing about wearing it.   A couple wise guys here apparently thought I meant otherwise…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Denial: Not Just A River In Egypt

January 4th, 2010

Today In Random Google Searches That Led People Here…

I’ve been getting a lot of hits on this particular google search lately…for some reason…

robbie benson

When I first noticed it I got a tad scared that he’d suddenly passed away or something.   But no.   It seems the gods of Google are just favoring my little blog with hits from people, I assume they’re mostly girls, who think Robbie is very nice on the eyes.   I know the feeling.   I’m assuming they came here for this…

Yes…it’s a nice one.   So for all you folks who ratcheted up my hit count lately over this photo, I would like to take a moment to say thank you…

You’re welcome.

To the Verizon DSL user running Windows on their Mac (ugh!) who asked google today…

bruce garrett gay?

The answer would have to be…yes.   But you knew that after shuffling through all my episodes of A Coming Out Story I suppose.

I got a flyer in the mail today from Costco advising me to pre-order my Valentine’s Day flowers now, right next to an offer of $4 off on Splenda artificial sweetener.   It must be an omen.   So to the user whose google…

valentine’s day posters

…brought them here: Come back in February.   This year’s winner promises to be even more worthy then last year’s!   Here’s a wee sample of the awesomely fun time we have here during the annual Valentine’s Day Poster Contest!

Be sure to stop by then.   It’ll be Fun!

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Today In Random Google Searches That Led People Here…

May 3rd, 2009

Sexy Sketching

This may strike some of you, or most of you as odd…but most of my sexy guy sketches start with my seeing something aimed more at young heterosexual males…some pin-up photo of a sexy woman…and I’ll find myself thinking Hey…that’s a nice pose…but I’d rather see a guy in that photo… 

The young pirate I did some months ago was actually one of those little pirate statuettes you find for sale at some seaside resorts…a sexy female pirate being served a jug of ale by a little monkey.  I bought the statuette and when I got it home did several quick sketches, recasting her as a young man, and adding some background detail and giving him a slightly more direct and challenging look.  I guess you could say I butched him up a tad…but only a tad.  I was reaching for a sense where he’s beautiful and sexy but not in a passive way, such as I often see in most male heterosexual skin magazines.  I’m trying to thread a middle ground between the hyper-masculine art I see in a lot of gay magazines and the hyper-feminine stuff I see in straight boy magazines. 

It seems the gay sensual archetype here in the U.S. is the hunk.  I’m really not into that.  But I’m not really into uber twink either.  There is very little I find myself responding to in any of the gay magazines or the online photo galleries.  I’m not into porn.  Porn is obvious.  I want to be teased.  I like the sensual and beautiful over graphic sexuality.  And no…this isn’t just a middle aged guy loosing his interest.  I’ve always been like this.  In a world that must seem to the pulpit thumpers like it’s swimming in sex, there is very little in it I actually like.  I don’t see that as my being particularly finicky.  I’m an artist.  I don’t like saying that about myself because it sounds so damn pretentious, but there it is.  I spend a lot of time with my feelings…alone at my drafting table, or out and about with one of my cameras.  I know perfectly well what turns me on and it’s not that I have a sexually narrow bandwidth, it’s that the culture I live in does not like to admit that men can be beautiful and sexy that particular way.  Most of my skin magazines are Asian and that’s not because I have a thing necessarily for Asians, but because Asian cultures seem more willing to admit that males can be beautiful and sexy in a way that isn’t hunk.

There are males like that everywhere.  But here in the U.S. they have to dress like slobs or butch up or they catch grief from other U.S. males.  Once upon a time, back in the 70s and early 80s, sexy lean and beautiful guys could wear their jeans tight and low and their hair long and their cut-offs high and nobody gave it a second thought.  That was a great time to be a young gay man I’m here to tell you.  But then as the gay rights movement grew and became more vocal, heterosexual males experienced a kind of gay panic and then those gawd awful baggy pants and swimsuits began to appear and all the sexy beautiful males went into hiding, lest someone think they were gay.  Meanwhile, gay males, after being told for generations that they were pathetic mincing swishy faggots, began to reclaim maleness for themselves.  That’s a good thing, but alas it’s become too much of a good thing.  At least for me.

So when I want to spend some sexy time at the drawing board, I find myself inspired more by straight boy pin-up girls then by anything I see in the gay press or online on the gay websites.  It’s weird I guess, but except for the passivity I usually see in it, I find myself drawn more to that then to explicitly gay stuff.  I just mentally switch the gender of the subject a lot.  I find myself looking at something that is very nice, but would be greatly improved by adding a few ‘Y’ chromosomes.  But not too many. 

The sketch in the previous post started out as a photo of a gay guy in low riser jeans with thong straps rising up slightly in a very sexy way from the pant waist.  I thought that was a good idea, but I didn’t like his pose and he was a tad too muscular for my taste.  I like muscle…I like the hardness of the male body…but there are limits.  Then I saw another photo of a woman in a very tiny bikini and a hat.  She was looking at the camera in a pouty pin-up girl kind of way.  I took her pose and the idea of the low risers and thong straps and tried to combine the two.  I made the pose a tad more assertive and changed the facial expression from pouty pin-up girl to more introspective and sensual male.

I do most of my pencil work these days on layout paper because it’s easier to erase and re-draw and I am a hunt and peck kind of draftsman, not a professional by any means.  I am completely self taught and it probably shows.  When it’s sexy time at the drafting table my goal is making myself all hot and bothered.  It isn’t like I have anyone in my life to do that to me.  So I do it to myself.  I find that it’s often the simplest strokes of the pencil that can have the most dramatic results.  The concentration level is intense…almost trance like…while I’m working with the pencil.  That logical analytical side of my brain is working on the mechanics of drawing, and at the same time it is dispassionately watching the libido.  I draw to make my libido go…Damn!  Goddamn! 

Beats sitting alone in a bar pondering the fact that Facebook is feeding me ads for Mature Gay Dating now.  I would love to find a nice, good looking, good-hearted gay guy about my own age to date.   As long as he wasn’t mature.

[Edited a tad…]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Sexy Sketching

January 27th, 2009

Boys Will Be Girls And Girls Will Be Boys

I hadn’t known this, but the other day on Fark.Com one of the headlines read that January is National Drag History Month.  As a gay man who tends to favor somewhat androgynous males, I have to admit that some of these performers just knock me out.  That’s not to say I like it when guys dress up as girls, so much as when guys can be sexy and sultry and beautiful.  There’s an art to this that I never really appreciated when I was younger, and stereotyped drag as an artifact of gay repression.  You can certainly view it that way.  But in a more liberated time, you can also view it as a kind of subversive gender-bending art that is beautiful and sexy for its own sake.

Some drag performers don’t have it.  They just look like guys wearing dresses.  But some guys have got it going on.  One commenter on Fark said that a boy in a dress is just a boy in a dress. 

No…  Not at all…

…not at all.   

So…  Happy National Drag History Month Mrs Cuba…aka Deanna Lexington.  Wish my friends down there hadn’t been such a bunch of jackass knuckle-dragging dickheads and let me have a chance to meet you last year.  But if you happen to chance across this post…I have some more photos from that Academy of Washington D.C. Miss Gaye Universe Ball.  It was nice to see you get an award.  Personally, I thought you should have taken it all.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Boys Will Be Girls And Girls Will Be Boys

January 3rd, 2009

How To Draw Pictures Of Sexy Guys In Their Underwear In 3 Easy Steps…(Lesson 2)

Okay…you all remember our last lesson…right?  Fine.  Today we’re going to build on that a little…

Step 1:   Create a basic stick-man frame.  Try not to make it too detailed.

Step 2: Add the major body segments as oblong bean shapes…head, neck, chest, arms, legs…and so on…  Again…try to keep it simple.

Step 3:  Now add the detail.

 

NEXT: Can you draw Muhammad?

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on How To Draw Pictures Of Sexy Guys In Their Underwear In 3 Easy Steps…(Lesson 2)

January 2nd, 2009

Let’s Start The New Year Right

I keep getting hits on This Post, via search strings like "sexy guys" "sexy guys underwear" and so forth.  And from the most interesting places too…like Ogden, Utah and Dubai, Dubayy and Islamabad, Pakistan, where they’re only a little more sexually repressed then in Utah.  No, I am not kidding about the hits from the middle east.  I get an amazing amount of search engine hits on gay topics from that little sex hostile part of the world, and lately that post in particular.  Oh…and the American bible belt of course.  And…Utah.

Let’s face it…this poor world is hungry for images of sexy guys wearing little to next to nothing at all.  And I’m here to help.  Time for another drawing lesson.  Bring your drawing pads and sharpened pencils here tomorrow.  It’s easy.  It’s fun.  You could be excommunicated from the Mormon church!

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Let’s Start The New Year Right

December 6th, 2008

A Lovely Little Art Deco Spaceship, From When The Night Sky Was New

The Polaris II from The Space Explorers. Well…actually, it’s Weltraum Schiff 1 from the German film Weltraum schiff 1 startet.

Back in the 1950s, William Clayton and Fred Ladd combined several films into one they serialized and syndicated to local TV stations for use on their daytime children’s shows. I was a pre-schooler and the stars in the night sky were fascinating. Mom bought me a little “Golden Nature Guide” book on stars…

Stars

…which, as you can see, I’ve kept all these years. That book I think, was my first step into the world of learning, and what it taught me about the heavens above was a revelation. The sky above was beautiful, mysterious, and yet understandable. My world, which until then compassed only the backyard of the apartment complex we lived in, and a small shopping plaza just down the street, suddenly became huge.

There were other kid’s space shows on TV back then, but The Space Explorers stuck in my imagination…largely for the beautiful imagery and background music Clayton and Ladd chose. One of the films they used was a Czech Russian educational film titled, Universe, which lent The Space Explorers some absolutely riveting (to my pre-school eyes) artwork of the stars, planets and moons. I have tried for years to get a copy of the whole, thing, but I suspect all the various copyrights to all the pieces Clayton and Ladd used to make The Space Explorers are just too hard to get all in a row and still make it worthwhile to put on DVD. But I am stumbling across more and more of the parts on YouTube now, and what’s impressive to me at age 55, is how detailed my memory of that cartoon serial was, compared with other things I watched from that period in my life.

In my scrap books are some of my earliest sketches and drawings and that little art deco spaceship is there among them. I tried for years to find a model of it somewhere. Finally, a small enthusiast shop, Fantastic Plastic, has come out with a model you can build. If this is the sort of thing that strikes your fancy, then you might want to explore their online catalog, as it is full of all sorts of spacecraft, well known and obscure, from science-fiction films past and present. I ordered two…one for practice since I haven’t built a model anything in years. For most of the 1980s I worked as a freelance architectural model maker and built custom models of new buildings and parks from scratch. So I’m not entirely without some skills in that regard. But by now they’re probably very rusty. The kits came in the mail last week and unpacking them, and examining the pieces, I could feel the seven year old boy inside of me get all wide-eyed and excited again.

I won’t paint them quite like I see in the shots on the Fantastic Plastic page, but it’ll be close. I want to try for an effect that’s more like smooth aluminum metal then silver paint. That’s what’s going to take some time investigating and practicing and why I bought two kits instead of just one. And the windows should look like they’re being illuminated from within, not dark. But as I can’t install lights in this thing that’ll be a trick to accomplish with paint. But with the right touch of the brush I think I can do it. Eventually one is going down in the art room, and the other in my office at Space Telescope. I’ll post some shots of the finished work here.

One more thing: As I was composing this post, I decided I wanted to include a scan of that old book on stars mom gave me back in my pre-school days, because it was one of those small but important things, a touchstone, for the direction my life would eventually take. I’ve said before that I was blessed in a way, to have entered school shortly after Sputnik scared the hell out of The U.S., because suddenly there was an emphasis on getting America’s youth a good science education. When I went to scan the book, I took another look at the back cover. Here it is…

Starbook - back

Each guide has been written by an outstanding authority on science education… A lot of the information in that book, printed in 1956, is dated now. But the spirit is even more relevant now after decades of republican party and religious right assaults on science, reason and knowledge, then it was even at the height of the cold war. Science is not a dry collection of facts on display in a museum or a textbook. Science is a way of knowledge, where knowledge is understood to be something you actively discover, not something you passively receive. A science textbook is not a bible. It is not a political diatribe. It Wants to be challenged. You are Supposed to have questions when you finish it. And you are supposed to be unafraid to ask them.

My little golden book of stars. A relic of the cold war. It was a time in America of stifling, absolutely stifling conformity. But for a moment, for one brief and shining moment, the nation understood clearly, in the shadow of a nuclear, not biblical Armageddon, that the way you fight totalitarianism is by teaching your young to how to think for themselves, and that the pursuit of knowledge is a great adventure.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Lovely Little Art Deco Spaceship, From When The Night Sky Was New

August 5th, 2008

Oh…Almost Forgot!

…by the way…  Happy National Underwear Day!

 

 

 

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

July 8th, 2008

Like A Thief In The Night…

Some years ago, I was living in a basement in Wheaton Maryland, and trying to date this cute guy who lived nearby.  I knew him from a gay BBS we were both on.  One day he invited me over and we sat around chatting for a bit, and he popped this cartoon he said he really liked into his VCR.  It was called The Brave Little Toaster, and on that basis alone I think I’d never have so much as touched it.  It just sounded like one of those suffocatingly cute children’s things I used to absolutely hate when was a child myself.  But it caught my attention instantly.  There was, I could tell right away, an insightful, and playful, and very very smart mind behind it.

There’s a scene in the movie I still distinctly remember.  The little toaster is walking through a grassy field (on its four tiny little toaster legs) and it walks past a flower.  The flower glimpses its own reflection in the toaster’s chrome sides and instantly perks up, attracted to the beautiful reflection it sees.  No, says the toaster (I’m trying to recall the dialogue from memory here…), I’m not a flower.  But the flower doesn’t understand.  It leans closer to the reflection it sees, utterly entranced…delighted…yearning…  No, says the toaster again, distressed.  That’s you, not me.  I’m not a flower.  And the toaster walks away.  And all the flower knows is that the beautiful flower it saw just walked away from it, and when the toaster looks back, it sees the flower wilting. 

It was just a little toss-off scene in the film, not really bearing at all on the action.  But the depth of it stunned me.  And I thought to myself A gay man wrote this

But my attention was also distracted at the time, ironically, by the cute guy in the room with me, who would soon walk away from me too, and I never looked closely enough at the film credits to know who the creator of all this magic was.  Well, now I do. 

Alas and damn… 

Sci-fi Writer Thomas Disch Commits Suicide

Science fiction writer and poet Thomas Disch has committed suicide. Disch died July 4 and his body was discovered July 5, according to the New York City Police Department. He was 68.

The author of popular sci-fi novels Camp Concentration and 334, Disch had been openly gay since 1968. Following the 2004 death of his partner, poet Charles Naylor, Disch reportedly began suffering from depression.

Awarded many honors for his fiction, including two O. Henry awards, the genre-bending Disch also published more than a half dozen books of poetry, a whimsical Child’s Garden of Grammar (1997); a history of speculative fiction, The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of (1998); and the Brave Little Toaster series for children.

It got him.  His other half died and it got him.  I could feel it myself that week, like a dark shadow hovering over the earth, patiently watching for stragglers.  And, reading Anna Quindlen’s review of the book The Brave Little Toaster was based on, makes me wish I’d read it first before seeing the movie…

The publisher optimistically says ”for both children and adults,” but what would the average 10-year-old make of the information that flowers can speak only in verse and that ”daisies, being among the simpler flowers, characteristically employ a rough sort of octosyllabic doggerel, but more evolved species, especially those in the tropics, can produce sestinas, rondeaux, and villanelles of the highest order”? Besides, most of the jokes are too good for children. Like C. S. Lewis’s Narnia chronicles or ”The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster, ”The Brave Little Toaster” is a wonderful book for a certain sort of eccentric adult. You know who you are. Buy it for your children; read it yourself.

Yeah…

"…before any of the small appliances who may be listening to this tale should begin to think that they might do the same thing, let them be warned: ELECTRICITY IS VERY DANGEROUS. Never play with old batteries! Never put your plug in a strange socket! And if you are in doubt about the voltage of the current where you are living, ask a major appliance.”

Damn.  Rest in peace Mr. Disch.  I wish I’d known how good you were when you were alive…

 

”Once a mortal, soon to be in Heaven, I may be

your best chance to distinguish yourself

as someone specially Blessed and bound for Glory

without going to a lot of trouble or expense …

Start with a little Tom My God shrine beside the BBQ

and before you can say Glory Be the whole back yard

and all its gardening tools are tax-deductible!

If your tax returns are challenged, show this poem

to the judge and ask him how many believers

constitute a Faith …”

   

But I know now.  And if you and Charles aren’t together now in some better place, at least you lived to see a world where the two of you could be together in our memory.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Like A Thief In The Night…

June 29th, 2008

Why Are Bruce’s Photographs Like Hitler’s Watercolors…

Answer: They have no people in them.

So…it’s come to my attention that certain folks seem to think my photography is notable for absence of people.  That’s not exactly true, or I probably wouldn’t be invited to take pictures so often of things like weddings and prom dates.  Oh…and drag performer award ceremonies.  But I’ll admit it’s true that I don’t often spotlight my people pictures in my art photography galleries.  Sad but true…what you mostly get there is this kind of thing…

  
 

 

That’s from the Puerto Vallarta gallery.  People were asking the other day where the hell the people were.  I’d depopulated the entire city, they joked.  I’d posted a private gallery with a bunch of snapshots of the friends who took me there, but I elected to omit those from the published gallery for two reasons.  First, those were private.  But the gallery was intended for my art photography, and yes, that stuff tends to run in this direction…

  

 

   
That’s a typical specimen from the Shadows and Light gallery.  I do that sort of thing.  And…this sort of thing too…

 

 

 

And this sort of thing…

 

 

Lots and lots of that sort of thing, actually.  It’s what comes out of me most of the time.  And for what it’s worth…I hate it.  I hate it so much that for just over a decade I put my cameras down and refused to take any more pictures because I was so sick of looking at it.  Even when I was trying to be playful, I kept seeing it…

 

 

They say there’s a fine line between artistic and crazy.  After just over a decade of not even so much as touching my cameras, I picked them up again because I just had to.  It sounds insufferably arrogant to stick the ‘artist’ label onto yourself, but if one symptom of it is you do it because you have to, even if you hate what you’re doing, because something deep down inside of you just keeps pushing you into it and you could stop breathing before you could stop making your art, well then that’s me. 

But…well…I don’t hate everything I do.  I really like my people pictures.  Back in high school, and my college years, back when the camera bug really got me, I actually did a lot more people stuff then shadows and light stuff.  I really got into it as a matter of fact.  Really, really into it…

  
 

 

Really…really…into it…

 

And…somehow…I stopped doing that kind of thing.  I just can’t imagine what happened.  Nobody who knows me seems to be able to figure it out either.  All they know is Bruce doesn’t take people pictures.

Well…Actually…yes I do.  When I get the chance.  When it’s something that strikes at my heart.  People I find doing noble work, and I just have to document it, because it’s so beautiful to see…

 

 

 

 

 

 

People I know…creative people…doing noble work… 

 

 

 

 

People taking a stand for life’s beauty…becoming beautiful themselves in the doing of it…

 

 

 

 

People…  Yes…I take pictures of them…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But…you know…sometimes it’s the artifacts we leave behind, the marks made on the earth by the human hand…by the human heart…those ephemeral footsteps along the shore we leave behind…that speak so profoundly to the human condition…to existence…  

  
 

And that’s what keeps calling to me.  That’s what I have to go find.  And bring back.  These are my little footsteps in the sand. 

There’s a difference between the carefree snaps I take of my friends when we go here and there, and my art photography.  And my artwork isn’t entirely devoid of people.  Furthermore, if you look closely, carefully, you can still see a spark of that sense of life I used to have…back when I could still be certain I would find my soulmate…back when I could still be certain beauty made life worth living.  At least I can still see it.  A little bit.

You know…beauty…

 

Yes, actually, I Can do people.  If all you can see in my photo imagery is the lack of people, you’re not really looking at it.  On the other hand, I really really wish my friends would quit thoughtlessly blaming me for the solitary, emotionally isolated life I’ve lived for so long, that I hate the sight of whenever I look at the brutalist imagery.  Particularly the friends in a position to at least try to help me out of here.  If I fucking hear "You just need to get out more" one more fucking time I swear I will go nuclear.   Yes, as a matter of fact, there Are people in my photos, and yes, as a matter of fact, I Do go out from time to time.  Just not into gay bars looking for this week’s trick every Friday night.  Does that make me a recluse? 

So…some months ago we all went to this bar we’d never gone to because our usual hangout had been invaded by bears.  And yeah…you all noticed how immediately taken I became by the bartender that night.  You started joking about it.  That’s Bruce’s type all right…  And there I was…gawking away like a schoolboy again.  Somebody did me a really big favor that night.  A favor nobody else had ever done for me before.  They got his name for me.  Sweet.  And then I was able to talk to him.  And some of you may have noticed that I put some effort into getting to know him a bit more in the weeks and months afterward.  Yeah…nothing eventually came of it.  But to the guy who did me that favor…Thank You!  I had a chance I wouldn’t otherwise have had because of your kindness.  Nobody ever did that sort of thing for me before.  I am not kidding.  That was the first time in my life someone ever did that for me…and I note that you not only didn’t think twice about it when you sized up the situation, but that you enjoyed doing it.  Wow.  Never mind a boyfriend…where were You all my life! 

For a while there, I didn’t feel so disconnected from…people.  It’s nice to feel like you’re a part of the world from time to time.  I really don’t want the brutalist imagery to define me.  You know what I really hate more then the thought of dying alone?  It’s the thought of people picking over the body of my work after I’m gone from this earth and going "Oh how tragic that he was so lonely…but Such Wonderful Artwork that tragedy produced!  No.  Please.  I’m going to put it in my will that if I die never having found that intimate other in my life, my executor is to burn it all.  All the film and prints and hard drives with the digital library.  All the paintings and drawings.  Take down the web galleries and the cartoon pages.  No collector’s joy in my desolation…please.  One way or another, I will not be defined in death by my sorrow.

 

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

June 24th, 2008

Awe

Spectacular double rainbow in the sky here in Baltimore yesterday!  I’d just come home from work and glanced outside to see a sudden shower coming down on my street.  So I stepped out onto my front porch to watch, and noticed the sun was out and brightly shining to my west.  Down towards the end of my street, you could see the rain coming down in glistening sheets of raindrops through the intense sunlight.  To the east, it was dark as slate. 

I can’t see the sky too clearly from my front porch because of the Japanese oaks in the front lawn.  But given what I could see…sun shining brightly over there though the rain…dark rain clouds in the sky opposite…I reckoned there should be a rainbow over in the dark patch somewhere.  So I stepped out into the rain to take a look.

There was…

 

 

Already some of my neighbors had come out to take a look.  First you saw the bright inner rainbow.  Then as it became even brighter, you started seeing an outer one.  Eventually, the two of them formed perfect arches, vaulting across the Baltimore sky…

 

 

So beautiful!  The white car roof in the foreground of the last shot is Traveler.  By then the shower had turned into a light sprinkle and I took a stroll through the neighborhood, not minding how wet I was getting at all, just completely enraptured by the intense colors arching overhead.  These photos don’t really do it justice.  It was almost like they were burning up there, like the sky had caught fire and every color hidden within it was now ablaze, so intense were those arches.

It must have lasted for almost an hour.  Then the sun began to set and the rainbow slowly unraveled, as if drawing itself down into the earth.  First the outer loop faded away.  Then the top of the inner loop seemed to break off, separating it into two half arches.  Slowly, slowly, the broken arches shrank from the sky, until only two rainbow pillars at either end of the horizon were left.  But the pillars of color remained for a long time, staying bright and fiery until the last of the sunlight faded in the west.  I walked up and down the blocks of my rowhouse neighborhood until there was almost no light in the sky, and looking down the cross-streets toward the horizon, I could see those fantastically intense pillars of color well into the twilight.  They looked like fountains of color erupting from the earth.  I’ve never seen its like.

Whatever weather pattern had brought us the rain, a blanket of cool, dryer air came along with it and the evening was perfect for getting out of the house and strolling around some more.  I left all my chores undone and just savored it because I know what the summer will be like when it finally settles in.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Awe

May 13th, 2008

Can You Draw The Pirate?

then you may have what it takes to be an artist.

Lesson One:

No silly…not that Pirate.   This Pirate… 


 

  
 

 

This is a work in progress.  I’m trying desperately to get my drawing groove back.  I took a sick day off today because my insomnia came roaring back last night for some reason and I felt utterly miserable this morning.  I stumbled down to the basement to do a laundry and laid eyes on the little pirate statuette I’d bought in Catalina a couple of summer’s ago.  My brother probably remembers it.  The subject is female but I took one look at it and knew I could draw a really sexy male pirate from it.  So I bought it and took it home and it’s been sitting on one of my art room shelves ever since.  This morning I picked it up and plopped it on my drafting table, taped some Strathmore to one of my drawing boards and somehow, even though I could barely think straight, managed to wrest out a pretty good pencil sketch of what I had in mind when I first set eyes on it.

A few slight adjustments to the body here and there…somewhat broader shoulders, a slightly different curve on the backside, a somewhat sharper jawline…and there was my beautiful and dangerous young pirate.  I think I’ll leave him blond.

I’ve some more work to do on this, mostly background stuff now.  I need to work on the monkey a bit too.  Then I’ll ink it up.  Stay tuned. 

 

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

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