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OK, so first night in an AirBnB in Berlin. It's as central, as bright if not brighter, twice the size, and yet the same price even after AirBnB inflation as my rental central-but-south-of-the-river closet in London. I am in here for a month. I filled a suitcase with waaaay too many clothes, but for every occasion, hoping I would not have to cart many of them back.

I have found a gym close, yesterday, a Holmes Place. It is big and well equipped and clean and they let me pay for a full month and it seems to include towel service. It is a lot of money for a regular gym, and very little for what it is if you figure I do not have a permanent address yet and thus would depend on day-passes otherwise.

I try to tell myself I haven't been here a full 48 hours yet so hiding in the AirBnB is OK. When I landed in the UK almost ten years ago, I promptly got a fever and was flat on my ass for 3 days, sweating and weak, going out once to do some shopping. I am doing better than that, although I almost lost it in the Aldi trying to find anything, got it together by resolving to live on take-out a few days, and then found an Endeka around the corner. Oh good, regular supermarkets are to be had here after all. My fridge is reasonably supplied.


Day 3 and fuck no.

Went out. Back home at 2 AM. Front door key of the apartment building does not work. I am locked out at 2 AM from my AirBnB. Can't bring myself to ring the doorbell of anyone else in the building; I am a stranger here. I sent a text to my absent host, but it is 2 AM, I know they will be asleep far away. Why does the key suddenly no longer work?

Google says there is a cheap hotel close by. I walk to it, ring night bell, they say they have no room. Walk to the Days Inn, half a mile away. Night bell rung, doors slide open. Night cashier is doing accounting, says they have no room either (mid-October, no rooms to be had in Berlin? Or too much trouble to open one?) Feels bad for me for my story and my German, writes down an address of a hostel. I walk to it, just see a late night bar with people outside. I go in, lady behind the bar asks a guy cleaning up, wasn't there a hostel here? No, city closed the hostel. I call two more hotels in the neighborhood, no rooms. Not one. I send a message to Simon vaguely hoping he might be awake even though I know he should not be.

Whatever I will do, I will be a burden to someone and I hate it. I want to be the fun and helpful guy and never rely on anyone because that makes people dislike you.
Brains are not kind at 3 AM when you are locked out in a strange city.

In desperation I walk back to the building, switching off my phone to conserve energy, ready to sleep in the doorway until someone walks out perhaps. I see light from the balcony on the garden-level flat. I walk on the grass, I see a dude on the couch, sleeping.
"Entschuldigung," I say.
He stirs.
I pray he wakes up.
He kind of looks, or not, it is too dark for me to tell how his eyes are.
I hold up my key, make movements, hoping he might be awake.
He waves me away.
I hold up my key, and then put my hands together in a prayer movement. Please.
He gets up, sleepy as fuck, in a sweater and underwear. I walk to the front door as he buzzes me in.
I try my key on the inside lock. Like butter, as it has been all day. I try the outside lock. Doesn't move again. Then I notice the latch was taped over. I can't quite piece it together, but I am guessing the outside lock was changed, and somehow the idea was that the door would just be open. Except it wasn't.

I am inside and will go to sleep now. I will send my host a message tomorrow.

And now my phone will not switch on. Whatever. Sleep.

*** Edit this morning ***

It is now the next morning. I heard the front door downstairs and ran down, a neighbor was coming in. Although I may have sounded slightly manic, she did indeed check her key, and indeed her key front door key does not work either on the outdoor lock. I am not crazy: the lock was changed yesterday. I checked closer and now it seems the hole for the latch has been patched with a shim and screws so the latch does not work at all (better than the tape which stopped working last night) and this seems for real. I just talked to my AirBnB host, who is awesome but in a small cottage in front of the coast of Ireland, and she will make the right calls. But so far:

  • The front door lock was changed on me (and the building)
  • The door could not be opened because the change was done provisionally and thus badly
  • Someone does seem to be on top of it: the latch is now managed better
  • We still all need new front door keys
  • For some reason you can't get a hotel room right now in Neuköln, but I suspect that was because it was 2 AM
  • I am and continue to be OK
  • I *really* need to get better at asking for help. Simon just mentioned that I would have been furious if he had been locked out in the cold at 2 AM and had not called me.
  • I need brunch

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In the 90s, there were plenty of opportunities for me to sero-convert. What kept me negative was luck, and wanting only to top, and iron discipline in my practices. That discipline (and my guilt the few times I lapsed) came from the memories I have of people who had become poz before anything was known about the virus expressing to me, especially while managing their live with AIDS, how urgently they wanted me to stay negative. I remember arriving at a play party in 1993 in San Francisco and seeing and greeting Max who was there socially, and how immediately, out of nowhere, he put his hand in a bowl of condoms, grabbed a few, and handed them to me and telling me to make sure I always had some and to use them. He hadn't gone much beyond small-talk before that. Don't do this, was the message from the ones sick and dying, we know better now. Stay healthy.

At the same time, plenty of urban poz and PWAs at the time were creating a rebel mystique about how HIV / AIDS was another marker of having been thrown out of society and being counter-cultural if not outright edgy and hot. Of course HIV created its own aesthetic of danger in the communities that had it, and poz people deserved it because they were not garbage to be shunned, as much of society was treating them at the time. They were still sexual and alive and worthy and their sexuality was real and valid. But personally, I found glamorizing the punk of HIV / AIDS, (yes, at the time still also AIDS, you couldn't really hold the AIDS part back much) to the point that people WANTED to earn that bio-hazard tat, well, too much. I carried Max and other older men warning me in my head with me for years. Don't fucking be stupid. You know better. Many voices out there trying to keep us negative young men negative. "Don't end up like me." They would be disappointed and heart-broken at one more person to worry about and maybe lose, and I looked up to them.

I am thinking about that now because while HIV became manageable, the other thing I encountered first on that trip to San Francisco, meth, is not. It's been in my life 25 years now peripherally, and recently has tripled in force as I have become close to a number of people who are barely managing, or trying to climb out of a relapse, or fucking succumbing to it. They are, in my opinion, spectacular human beings whose addiction is stopping them from being the forces of light they have every right to be in this world that so needs their light. Meth is now closer to home than ever.

Here in London fucking club drugs are fucking everywhere, utterly normalized, as is binge drinking. One of my closest friends here told me how he literally can't go dancing any more because the drugs make him feel so awful in the mornings. When I tell him one can dance sober, he dismisses me: it is not the same, and sober it is so much less it is not worth doing. In this culture, a month of being sober is considered a feat of fortitude enough to justify fundraising for doing it. And yes, it gets to me: sometimes I feel like my abstinence means something is wrong with me. That is just how being a social species works.
New friends always wonder a little when they find out I don't and haven't done club drugs, tell me a little MDMA would be fun, discuss the quality of coke to be had openly. I'm pretty sure that if I smoked a little hit of meth at a "chill-out", just once to know what it was like, just a smoke man, nothing major, inhaled once, all under control, and then had sex with some guy for the next 8 hours, most of my gay friends would pat me on the back, and only my straights would be worried. And maybe they shouldn't be worried. Maybe it was only a little hit just to find things out. Doesn't mean I'll go out of control right away. Totally overblown worry. Lots of guys do a little meth on weekends. Right?

Yet yet yet yet. I know so many gays for whom it is no longer a little fun treat, especially now they are sober. Losing relationships, jobs, NA meetings, relapses. Seared in my brain is this memory of standing on a street in New York and hearing this amazing person tell me "You know, the weirdest thing about addiction is how it makes the outrageous seem like a good idea. Injecting yourself with tap water because you are out of sterile seems totally normal all of a sudden."

I was horrified to hear there was such a thing as a bare-backing party in 1992, or that they knowingly allowed bug-chasers. But then I got told I needed to be cool and respect bodily autonomy and other people's decisions. Now I look at the remnants of that sex&death edginess (thanks, Treasure Island Media), take my PrEP, and smirk at guys excitedly talking about wanting "toxic poz loads". Shut up, asshole, there's no such thing anymore unless you are dumb enough to be with someone dumb enough to not take daily meds and lose the undetectable status.

Slamming is now the frontier here for the out there and cool, the tragic messes to be revered for their plugged-inness and the reality they are serving, away from us bourgeois sell-outs to marriage and suburbia. The guys I am close to I mentioned before truly do not want to do it any more, but they seem utterly alone in there. The one thing I am not hearing is anything inside their culture even trying to hold them back. There seem to be no Maxes, nobody who has been there, telling them it is a bad idea, or even metaphorically yanking a syringe away from them in some sense.

On the hook-up apps there is barely any filter, anybody moderating for what we KNOW are the keywords: chill-out, PnP, HnH, High and Horny, Slamming, Slam, Zlam. I see them every time on my grid, they reach out to me even though my profile says fuck no to that. I know tech, I know what is a real effort and what is half-hearted lip-service (surprise, they are doing only the latter). I know a bot could filter all of the profiles better than they are even trying, and filter chats real-time, and flag them up  for review instantly, but nobody in charge of the comms seems really desiring to do and be this prescriptive. How would they, why would they--I remember the Marketing dude for one big hookup fetish website, previously Marketing dude for another hook-up website, being at every major gay fetish party I was at for 3 years on two continents, eyes wider and buggier every time, until I did not, and have not, seen him around for the last few years. Facilitating chemsex makes the sites money over facilitating sober sex, and if they are on it themselves, because everyone is, because everyone can handle their drugs on a weekend, right, why would they clamp down? Why would our culture clamp down? It's just a bit of fun. A little release. Adults can handle it.

Twenty years ago there were voices from inside the community telling us to stay negative, not just external agencies and helpful initiatives. I remember going into cruising spots and finding community workers handing out condoms. I am not hearing, or hearing of, voices from inside the sex and especially chemsex community, on-line, off-line, organically saying, don't do this. It will kill you. I've been there. I barely got out. Stop.

We knew where men had sex and showed up. We know where the fucking dealers live now. Everyone knows who they are at the parties.

They say nobody proselytizes against a sin more than reformed sinners, but sometimes it feels to me like meth is bucking that trend. I hope it is just me being so out of touch with this culture I do not know where to look.

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My desire for a dishwasher and a commute I do not hate are incompatible with remaining in London.

Also, these Brexit fuckers want to make me an immigrant, instead of a resident. No. Fuck no. I am not jumping through those hoops again for this quality of life.
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- Has the same issue most Sci-Fi prequel have (including ST:E) which is that advances in technology, both of story telling and in the real world, render the actual original so obsolete that the prequel can't make itself primitive enough to come before in either look or design.

- If this really is supposed to be before ST:TOS, it's pretty clear Kirk didn't drive a super-advanced Tesla for work, but was basically long-hauling a Lada.

- WOC working together. I can't wait for Sad and Rabid Puppies to melt down. Actually I can, which is why I stay very far from actual fandom. But I am there to sense the aftershocks just to know that it happened.

- Funny enough, the rejected whatever-the-backstory not-quite-Vulcan (Is she mixed-race? Seems like a no but still. If she is, what is it with Vulcans throwing out their mixed race babies? What is it with Vulcans, so cool and rational, constantly hooking up with other races if they are going to be all mean to their mixed-race babies?) is not so much in the Leonard Nemoy style diction, or of the pale dude in the trailer playing the Vulcan, but totally in the Tim Russ style of Vulcan when she is being all rational. And then later she gets all passionate and let's just say the inflection totally changes.

- Yeah, and in ten years the Federation switched the women to mini-skirts and the men to 1960s East-German hipster garb. See "prequel issues". Or there is some insane canon explanation of why Kirk's specific periods had to have all women show their legs and have up-dos? Some kind of space disease that only human women could get if they covered their legs? Although Klingon ridges suddenly appearing in ST:TNG are now just being ignored, I read on Wikipedia, so we'll just agree to ignore that they are only ten years away from miniskirts being a uniform item too.

- Or maybe the miniskirts was a 'Wait, when you drive the Lada in outer space, you gotta make your fun somehow" thing and all other really nice ships had people in normal uniforms.

- Looks like random races being invented, because we didn't have enough already. Now, my favorite dumb race in the ST universe were Deltans, a race so advanced and sexual that, according to the ST:TMP novelization, which I read, meant that their mere presence would make everyone around them get hard, moist, or both, and sex with them was so intense and amazing it was dangerous if you were not Deltan. Could things get dumber? Yes, a race made to sense impending death. I'm sorry, that is one step lower in a series than being a one-trick pony "I feel pain, Captain!" empath Betazoid. You're just waiting for this ability to be pulled out for some story telling nonsense. Maybe by season two they'll let him do more than sense painimpending death and become a character.

- The three letter Sci Fi fandom designation of this series will be ST:D. This makes me giggle because I am 11.


May. 10th, 2017 07:47 am
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[content warning: body hair, tattoos, male nudity specifically mine]

This is what 47 looks like.

Immense gratitude to Bill Pusztai; the results are as brutal and honest and loving and ME as always when he captures his subjects.
I waited 10 years to do this and I am so proud of what we did here together.

Safe for work:

Not safe for work:

And no, I am not forcing a smile on any of them. That's my resting ominous face. And it is awesome.
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I still identify you in my mind (my mind being a very me-centric world, I guess) as being a foreign-born American, although it's clearly been some better part of a decade since this has been the case. How do you see your place in the world? Is there an identity to it?

I'm Dutch, and have always been Dutch.

When I lived in South America, it was made very clear I was a foreigner, and my family was foreign. So I considered myself Dutch. In the Netherlands I was often odd, but Dutch. In the US I got mistaken for local because of the accent I got in American School and US TV did do a great educational number about US life to foreigners, but I never thought of myself as American--just very bound and excited by the country.

It was hard to leave. I missed it for a very long time, still often do.

Over here strangers mistake me for American, and I almost always correct them. Because I am Dutch. I just started voting again in the Netherlands because I worry about where the country is going. I know I will very likely live there again. I will be a stranger again there--people are very confused when I fiddle and search for change in Euros, I have to explain I am an ex-pat and never use Euros--but I'll blend in soon.
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Schoenen of klompen, Meneer?

Crisis, wie draagt er nou nog klompen? Toch de grootsts mogelijke onzin? Ja, mijn vader draagt soms klompen als hij tuniert, maar ik woon goddomme in Londen, ik ga toch geen klompen dragen?

Laarzen, natuurlijk.
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What are some things that reliably make you laugh?

[ profile] bleepkeeper . He's the funniest man I know.

My friend Jonathan (travel reporter).

Golden Girls reruns.
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Comments screened.
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Over on another forum, someone asked what the Intersectionality meant to us in the context of an LGBT march like in DC on March 17th. I thought about this question and what I had learned participating in and reading reactions to the Women's marches a few weeks ago. My answer is about really practical things in a march. I am not sure I am fully there, but I'm trying.

Intersectionality for me means a more complete awareness that our oppression and marginalisation is part of a complex pattern that influences us all differently depending on how we fit in society. Therefore, for example, the pressures I am under as a gay white man are very different from a latina bisexual woman who lives with a partner who does not represent in the gender binary, and their children. So for this march it would mean for me:

  • It means being aware that having their back like I want them to have my back will involve me standing up against the racism that she will encounter and I will not, and which quite often will impact them more, or be indistinguishable, from homophobia. If I try to compartmentalise their oppression ("this is homophobia, this is racism, and I am only here for the homophobia") for my ends, I will lose her in our movement.

  • LBT women in the large cities were there for us during the HIV crisis, so we'd fucking better be there for their anger about shutting down of their reproductive rights. The same forces that will not allow a woman control over her body are the forces that want to regulate who and how I can fuck. I understand that since women make less on average, and women of color or of alternate sexuality make even less than that on average, shutting down free, or low-cost, women-oriented healthcare centres because they may also perform abortions is an assault of the health of the L & B & even T part of GLBT, and thus it is on me.

  • It means being willing to correct my over-representation as a white and male person in who speaks, who gets photographed, who gets represented (without whining that "women are taking over everything"). Basically, it means I need to be ready to sit down and shut up.

  • It means my kink and sex-positivity will need to be incorporated even if other people are uncomfortable, but it has to come from a place of inclusion. If we dump trans sex workers because of the politics of respectability, you have lost me and whomever I would want to walk with on a leash, if you hadn't dumped me already anyway. We are a sexual minority, goddamit.

  • It means, from my personal POV, acknowledging that while I may march to keep the rights we have obtained by now, and assimilate into the system even better so I can exercise all my options by, say, demanding federal EEOC protected status, they may be marching there to blow up the system because it will never give them any options at all. This mismatch is uncomfortable for both of us, but we have to meet. They may even convince me things will not get better without a radical change that might lower my options for a while.

  • It means getting in the way of any wailing suburban pale people who want to cry white tears of fragility when a black woman shows up with a sign that says "94% of us tried to warn y'all" or "White people elected Trump" and using my whiteness and stature and gender to remind them that a) the signs are actually true and b) it doesn't help anyone to try to sweep under the carpet that a lot of white people could look past nr 45s racism and homophobia enough to actually get us in a situation where we need to march, and that if you didn't vote for 45 the sign is not about you so acknowledge it and move on.

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Picture of my cereal. LJ doesa not allow Instagram embeds.

OK, so recipe. There's two components to this: the lentil crunchies and then the vegetable pillow shreds.

The vegetable crunchies, for a 5 day supply, are

3 cups of red lentils, and only red lentils, cooked for about four minutes so they are al dente. Spread on a baking sheet and put in a 150 degree Celsius oven for about 15 minutes, re-spreading them every 5 minutes. The idea is to dry off the steam. Put the hot lentils in a bowl, and add about three tablespoons of coconut oil, stir, and about three eggwhites. I also add half a cup of unflavored whey protein. Mix it all together, and then spread, as best you can (don't go crazy, it doesn't matter that much), on parchment paper on a baking sheet and back in the same oven it goes.

The eggwhites and oil will quickly make the lentils stick together. Over the course of an hour get in the oven every 15 minutes and break the clusters up (I use a spatula) and moving them around in the oven, making them smaller and smaller until they are bite-sized and pretty dried out and crunchy.

Here's the deal: by this point they are simply flavourless filler, like white rice with your evening meal. Several ways to solve this:

  • Add a third or a half a cup of erythrol (or splenda or stevia or agave or even sugar) and a bucket (ok, 4 tablespoons) of cinnamon to the egg and oil mixture.

  • In the above picture I added sugar-free chocolate shavings in the last 10 minutes to the clusters.

  • You may (I have not tried this) use flavoured protein powder instead of unflavored protein like I did, and maybe it will survive the baking. At your own risk.

  • Maybe when eating just crunchies mash them with a banana, coconut shreds, apple sauce?

The other half of the cereal is made by combining about 2 cups of shredded carrots, 2 cups of shredded raw sweet potatoes (I was them hard but don't peel them), a cup of chopped mixed nuts, again three tablespoons of coconut oil, two or three egg whites, half a cup of unflavored whey, random spices (cinnamon, ginger), until you get this mixture of wet vegetables. I spread this on parchment paper on a baking wire rack so it is a large flat rectangle (I only have one baking sheet), about a centimeter thick. It goes into the oven as well (I put the crunchies low and this rack high) for about twenty minutes, take it out, cover the vegetable rectangle with parchment paper, put a another rack on top of that like a some demented sandwich, and turn the whole thing over using oven mitts because the bottom rack is 150 degrees Celsius. Take the hot, now on top, rack off, peel off the old parchment paper on the top, and put the vegetables back in the oven for another twenty minutes.

When done, let everything cool. Cut the vegetable rectangle into small rectangles, mix with the crunchies in a big bowl. I also add sunflower seeds and perhaps shredded flax seeds.

It is not super sweet, so some might want to add more sweeteners, but I really like the combo of textures in milk. I do 5 to 6 days with this, but I like a big breakfast.


Jan. 28th, 2017 02:43 pm
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So I'm in the Lego store, it's this new store LEGO opened in Leicester Square, that has all the lines and models, with my friend who is a bit of a Lego addict. We're walking past the shelves and he is explaining how all the lines fit together, scale and adventure-wise.

We get to the shelf that is very pink and purple. The Friends line, targetted to girls. But right next to it is a new line: DC female heroes. I light up, just as a female store help is removing a Frozen castle model from a display case. She stops when she hears me gushing to my friend.
"This is wonderful! This is action! And LEGO! And fun!"
We ended up in this whole conversation how it was selling, and that it actually was the same scale as the Friends line so it makes great expansion either way. I do remember looking up at the big set again and looking at the characters and saying "And she's wearing trousers!"
"Uh-huh." She knew exactly what I was looking at (the depiction of Wonder Woman).
I look at the actual minifgs. "And A-cups." I blurt out.
We both knew what we were saying without saying: LEGO is actully doing superheroes without the bimbo aspect and it is wonderful. I told her how how I had my doubts about the Friends line, but anything to get people of any gender into LEGO, you know, and the Superhero Girls to go with it is even better. It's like Barbies, but better, with creativity.
And then I noticed the elves line again and she laughed at me describing it as "LEGO for baby goths!" and I could totally see the cross-over between the sets.

And then me and my friend started gushing about how it was playing with LEGO as children that got us into IT and then into IT Design and was responsible for our actual current good jobs and careers. I keep wondering if she gets those kind of conversations a lot, where people just ask about a set and before you know it they tell you about their lives.


Dec. 8th, 2016 08:41 am
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Chop wood, carry water. Chop wood, carry water.

Chop wood carry water, prep your protein secondary meals for the week. Take those hours on the weekend to shop the week, make your meat and sweet potato soup, make the frittata, make the breakfast. Chop wood, carry water.

Chop wood carry water. Do your best at work. Chop wood carry water, another wireframe, another presentation, helping out another person, speaking up but paranoid it is too much, take the long train to remote meetings. Chop wood carry water. Chop wood carry water.

Chop wood another gym session carry water twice a week with an intense trainer. Pre-bed shake. Supplements.

Chop wood fight your weekend laziness to be on time to see your friends. Carry water fight your social passivity to even show up. Carry water worry you are neglecting those that want to be with you.

Chop wood, carry water: don't get wrapped up in the end goal. Laugh because you realise you'll never make them anyway, you are just trying to get as close as you can to accomplished, or maybe just safely continually employable, safe, and muscled big and socially apt and have a super friends posse and make the planes home. Chop wood it's all self-centred anyway.

Carry water, run through an airport again.

Chop wood carry water, portion your energy when fatigue hits you. Keep executing at work, keep working out to create energy, carry water stop maintenance on other things so you can sleep longer. Chop wood efficiently find time with minimum time off to get checked out. Carry water just keep showing and waiting and pushing to get a diagnosis.

I think my version of adulthood is that I no longer try to reward myself with food or hiding or stopping. My version of adulthood is being in an outpatient waiting room for a procedure you know will suck, and having woken up and time, and selected the bag from your collection of bags that will be the most useful in the hospital today, and finding yourself carefully folding and rolling your cardigan and shawl so they will take the least space.

Chop wood carry water, don't do anything stupid. Chop wood carry water, indulge in sugary stuff only on Sundays, notice how defined your arms and legs are, be leaner than ever. (If only you could add some real mass). Chop wood carry water but somehow everyone around you does lines of coke on weekends and doesn't sleep and makes Director as a banker and has killer bodies and they all know each other.

My version of adulthood. Chop wood, carry water do the right thing. You're on antibiotics now so take your pill, properly, twice a day. Don't let anyone, including yourself, down. Chop wood carry water people can count on you. Chop wood carry water but the years only make it harder.

I don't want to be any other way. I don't want to regret not having been diligent enough or not tried hard enough. I just wish it worked better.
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I just look at the results of the election, especially now the stats are in, and it just screams Triumph of Masculinity to me. The celebratory pictures all feature bros to the hilt, the 87+ reported nation-wide hate crimes all have bros at the center. The vote difference is barely a percentage or two, but the polarisation of it goes all to white men and women, slightly better off ones, versus everyone else. It feels like a vote for keeping the opportunity to get ahead over other people's backs versus creating a truly level playing field, a vote for sending destructive rage to Washington versus a vote to send someone to continue the current lines for social justice, a vote for chaos over policy wonkishness.

America doesn't like wonks. Al Gore lost because it felt like he'd spend time devising policy instead of going out for beer with you. Literally, that was the family commentary I got in 2000.

It is a vote for muscularity, bias to action, robustness, speed, with a big dose of chaos, and may the chips fall hard--which is why it feels like such a fascist vote. It was not a vote for sharing, policy, balancing, stability. And gender-wise, it literally was man vs woman, and the man won in large part because the woman got unbelievable misogyny sent her way for her continuing ambition.

It feels familiar. No, not W, though the current days of grokking that That Guy with That Dudes Family will now get to live in the White House, currently inhabited by a model nuclear family of love, intelligence, and class, is just like when I realized That Smirk would now run the military. No, the way this feels is Reagan, what I grew up watching. Individualism, bootstraps, me-first, muscularity. A counter-notion to all this chaos and freedom being unleashed by people exploring themsleves in millions of directions of tie-dye and hippies and New Age. Yes to coke that keeps you awake at the office for days, no to toking that makes you passive and accepting. Yes to power suits, no to freaks and punks (who flourished in their counter-cultures). And yes to bodies being grown big in gleaming palaces. The 70s era of boogieing--where a Rolling Stone article about it led to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER--gives way to an era of aerobics, freshly repackaging boring calisthenics, and pumping iron--where a Rolling Stone article about that scene leads to another Travolta classic, PERFECT. Me me me in red power ties and tubs of whey in their duffle bags; yes, this election reminds me of the 80s.

White maculinity, white muscularity. The 80s body cuture created the 90s heroin-chic reaction, but ever since then bros soldiered on, chugging protein powder and they are even lifting bro. But now there's a 010 twist to it: Instagram life. Massive amounts of boys and mens are posing their muscles like Kim K and all her knock-offs sell their boobs and ass, to a degree that would not have been acceptable as masculine in the late 80s outside certain circles of Death Metal. But then again, we've gone way past the 80: Jersey Shore globally already over a decade ago normalized Tan Gym Laundry as a lifetsyle, Guido Juicehead as an archetype to tap into a market with, and now 10-year-old boys have eating disorders and typing in #fitness gets you as many men as women posing their almost-naked bodies for the explicit goal to create envy and lust, and they're seriously not just gay men.

Why, though? Why are boys showing off that much? A year ago some article posited that the body-obsession was one of the escapes young men had to the Millenial con game where Boomers extracted all value by borrowing on the future and the bills were now coming due in such a way that young people with massive student debt and no good job or safety net had absolutely nothing to look forward to but roommates and three barista jobs. You can't get a deposit for even a new car, but you can invest your time and sweat in lifting weights, injecting roids, and getting those hearts on your pics. Besides, eating only vegetables and chicken breast is cheap. It's an utter drag, but it is something. The article made the need for control and pride sound like anorexia.

So, a victory for bros. A victory that at best will unleash chaos if Trump follows through with putting nobody with any experience in any post, and at worst is already shaping up at having even more insidery insider lobbysist run Washington. I'd be surprised if things got better for young people, or older people, or anyone under $200K a year. The trends are on track, and they are not going to change for social sharing, respect, and empathy. Expect the ideal male body to get a lot bulkier again, the bros to seriously turn their 6-week light steroid cycles into 15 week drags, action heroes to be played by IFBB pros again or have the current crop be digitally altered to look like that, and locker room talk to be the new vernacular.

But let me tell you a little secret I know from inside the iron halls: it's never enough. The biggest guy is always worried he is not big enough. The middle guys are always checking each other out, and because they believe in individuality and hierarchy, they are consumed by ranking each other and fear of losing. The drag to get there is unbeleivable, with every step to 'the next level' taking the same amount of will power and time and effort as the 5 before it together.

Nothing was never enough for Trump. Nothing is ever enough in the muscle game if you are doing it for comparison and your sense of pride is counted in other's looks. No remedy is ever enough when you see your prvilege being chipped away as minorities come to equality and the smaller guys or even women lift almost as much as you. It will never be enough, and you will never be happy if all you can see is the next level, and what you are now and the amount of hearts you got today is not enough.

The Nights

Nov. 3rd, 2016 09:31 pm
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And that's how on a random Wednesday I ended up having Indian food in a tony restaurant off Fleet Street, like I was in an episode of glossy young professionals TV show, after meeting my friends first at a members cocktail club where I ordered a pot of green tea without anyone batting an eyelid. And we three re-affirmed that while we do so pay heavily in one way or another for the privilege of living in London, it does really have it's moments.
Yes, I always wanted to live a city lifestyle. Now I have a personal trainer who makes me feel great, a really good and challenging contract, still The Closet I Live In near the city center, commutes that do not kill me (the current one, Kennington to Victoria, is too easy for words) and people to see, still in a spectacular center of the world I can manage these days. The job is in financials, so we actually leave the office at normal times, like 6, which is fucking amazing after a decade in agencies and telecoms. I have a life. I need to do volunteering, not just write checks for my friends doing rides and runs, but I have a life.

10000 experiences to be had, and I will have them all.

Of course, there's also issues. I made the mistake fo eating a bar of sugar free chocolate when I travelled to NL, which means I overdosed on Maltitol. Maltitol is a sugar alcohol that ferments in the gut at high volumes, so I spent part of my Dad's birthday dinner in cramps, and the next day, and the next. I tried activated charcoal as the Internet recommended, that just toned it down. For a week now my gut has been acting up, wrenching itself in horrible feelings that do not go away like normal cramps do after 20 seconds. They kept waking me at 5 AM every night, after which I asked Dr Google to diagnose me which meant that, according tof orums, I had stomach cancer, an ulcer, IBS, and would feel like this for decades without ever having relief. I resigned mysef, as one writer did, to waking up every night in pain at 5, just being a little active, and then trying to sleep between 6 and 7:30 again. As for the activity, the first night I cleaned the kitchen, the second night my bathroomette, and I had plans my thirs night I'd do the shelves in my fridge. Seriously, I was cleaning my bathroom at 5AM with gut cramps, waiting for them to stop so I could sleep again.
Then my trainer suggested Buscopin, and I am sleeping through the night again, though it has not fully settled down during the day. But it is funny how my brain will blow up anything that is wrong with me into a life-long affliction of pain, instead of me reaching for drugs and making it go away like normal people. I guess 25 years of thinking ever minor cold was a seroconversion will do that.

Also, I now have LHB tendonitis in the other shoulder. Yeah, I never mentioned, I had that 18 months ago on the left, and just ignored it, kept liftin, and slowly it rheabbed. Now it started acutely in the right shoulder, but this time I have a trainer who immediately sent me to his massage therapist. He diagnosed it, and then loosened it, and then applied a fuck ton of pressure, all while we were talking about deaths in his family. (No, this is totally normal if you know me.) It was after the massage and the admonishment that I was on a week of forced upper-body rest that instead of the gym I asked CityMapper how to get to the coktail bar where I knew my friends were. City Mapper rules my life these days, nothing gets me through London faster.

This is what you get in metropoles: busy, expensive, often exhausting, but damn so many options. Including just sitting home and blogging if you want.


Sep. 8th, 2016 10:21 pm
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Threads today: 50 years of Star Trek, posts on Facebook and Whisper of how you met a celebrity, and a horrendous attack of homesickness for LA today this afternoon when I was thinking about Imagineering. Just horrible deep regret I didn't stay and somehow made it work, even though at the time I did not know how. (Finding out a few months ago there were digital agencies at the time in LA where I could have become a designer as I am now, did not help. Not that I would have known how to work them.) So then today, on the bus after the gym, I suddenly remember an incident that brought it all together: meeting a Star Trek celebrity in LA.

I was in an art gallery, I believe in Culver City, because we went with a building neighbor every month to the openings so she could get more into the art world, so it probably was one of those trips. Evening, then probably, and still so lovely warm at night you could just walk from gallery to gallery with just the lightest of long-sleeved T-shirts. It was a photography exhibit, and suddenly I saw the back of a tall, black-haired gentleman next to me. And I knew who he was without seeing his face or hearing his voice, which I still find so amazing. I may have mentioned it to [ profile] pinkfish, if he was there, or maybe he to me as well.

But there I briefly stood, examining photographs, as he was, next to Leonard Nemoy. I barely ever glimpsed his face.

Of course I didn't even let him know I was there, or recognized him. I have lived in LA and AMsterdam; I know what to do around celebrities: leave them alone.
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While they're all out voting, I'll post this here especially because nobody really reads this space any more.

And no, I do not get to vote in this British referendum about staying in or out of the EU. But members of Commonwealth countries who live here do, it seems.

I have found three streams of though about leving the EU:

  1. A disenfranchised protest. There are many of those here in the UK; the Conservative government has spent the last 8 years pushing through a reformist Austerity agenda that in the end is a transfer of wealth from poor people to the older middle class, who vote Tory, and themselves. Austerity has actually not helped up clean up the national books, as the insecurity and reduction of demand it has created has forced the government to borrow more money than ever. The result is that an underclass has been expanded significantly, who have been agitated with 20 years of anti-EU outright porpaganda. Many of them will admit they do not know that Brexit will be better for them or the country, but at least they get to say up yours to the people they perceive as an unaccountable EU elite (see propaganda). The Labour party has been unable to reach this voter.

  2. People who stand to gain power and influence by the exit. These come in a number of flavors, with the main two being the politicians and pundits who have gained popular appeal slagging off the EU for decades, who finally see their time has come. A Brexit will vindicate them entirely, which they will be able to translate into positions of power. The people who fund them, like Rupert Murdoch, will then be able to get rid of a whole lot of laws and controls the EU currently imposes on employers not to be total dicks, thus being able to extract labor to add to their capital. Whether the politicians and pundits who have been doing the dirty work for dismantling minority and labor protections are actually as racist and xeonophobic as their campaign of lies indicate they are, we will probably only know if they win, or on their deathbeds. All indications are that the most respectable of the mouthpieces actually is not a racist, but will say anything at anytime to further his career. He has his sights set on being Prime Minister, and he may just get it for the same reason he became Mayor of London: people thought it would be funny and shut him up.

  3. The third stream I have seen, and it is the one that scares me most, actually lives inside the first two groups as well, but also in Brexiters, at significant levels in my opinion, outside of what I have already outlined: people who think the UK is fundamentally still a country and culture that should own the world. They genuinely think the UK has something better about it, something more dignified and smart and worthy than the other countries in the EU. They have looked down on other countries and nationalities forever, and do not understand the rebate and and refusal to join Schengen and the € are irritants that have undermined the UKs position in Europe for years, but think this is all simply due to the UK from 'that bunch'. They giggle at the joke that the way British people speak foreign laguages is to just yell English louder, but also never learned to converse in anything else. These people are as convinced of some form of English exceptionalism as nationalist Americans are convinced of theirs, but it goes so deep in their atttiudes they have never even really noticed. Of course the UK does not need the EU. Of course they are still an economic super-power, and they always will be. Of course the other European countries won't pull the services and currencies and headquarters away from London, they'd be foolish to; don't they know the UK is an economic super-power? They genuinely think they can do trade deals with the US, China, Brazil, and India, especially India (those fuckers owe us everything) on their own, because the UK is just simply better. That's why everyone wants to migrate here, so obviously, well...

I have kept rather quiet about it all; the British have made it clear I am not to have a voice in my future here, even after 8 years of paying taxes, because I have not naturalized. I doubt much woud change for me in case of a #Brexit in the first five years, and most likely I will be either grandfathered in or, more likely, because the UK still wants to trade with the EU, they will have to accept open migration with the EU like other non-EU countries in Europe had to. I just suspect the border would just get even pissier to cross, although it is still a lot nicer than the US to enter for me.
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The more I read about 'responsible gun ownership', the more it looks like monogamy: everyone swears they can do it for life until they ruin it in just a few passionate minutes. But instead of just fucking up your family, screwing up responsible gun ownership means people end up dead. And if you screw up while owning a really fast big gun, many people end up dead.
Every lie-detector episode of a day-time trash-talk TV show shows how well those really important vows of monogamy are kept, vows they make in front of their community. But somehow I am supposed to believe that everyone who swears they will be a responsible gun owner when they sign a license won't screw up the next 40 years of their life, ever. Every one. Every last one around me with a big gun will never screw up, never lose their shit, never fall mentally ill, never get super angry, never take drugs, never be stupid for a moment and let stuff lying around unlocked, and never ever will have a break-in.

At least when people lose their shit in a car--and they do, I acknowledge this--they don't take out 50 people in 20 minutes. And that car has had a use besides killing people.

I can't believe the discussion expects anyone to take the sentence 'responsible gun ownership' seriously. That's not something you are, it is something you do, and people change what they do in an instant for a multitude of reasons. How much damage should they be able to inflict with what is in their homes and hands when they stop being responsible?

The UK has mental illness too. It is not well treated here at all. You can tell in the homeless, and in the stats of who is at home signed off work. But there's no US style rampages because they do not have the tools. Someone here got so crazy last week that he stopped being a responsible gun owner, if he ever was one, and went on a passionate gun-fuelled rampage. But he could only get a little gun, so only one person died. Not 50.

BTW, not interested in rehashing the tired arguments, you can do that in your own spaces. Comments very screened, doubt I will allow any. My blog, my rules.


May. 26th, 2016 10:19 pm
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I honestly am convinced by all reports that Global Climate Change is happening, and that we are so past the point of no return for a cataclysmic change of our current lives that the debate whether it was caused by humanity or not is pretty much moot (it was, btw). Even a 100% change right now of burning no fossil fuels, none, nada, tomorrow, would only limit the carnage, not prevent it. Hell, the carnage is already happening anyway with river floods and food shortages. I actually expect it now to be worse than any "reasonable" prediction.

I recycle, but I feel it is a futile experience; decreasing landfills seems like a minuscule activity when you consider the city you live having major floods in your lifetime and god knows what will happen to NL--at some point you just can't build up against both the sea rising and river floods. And fuck knows what all of the Asian coast line will do. How all our arable land will shift north. How storms and events the world over will intensify and become 5 times more frequent or so.

In 2008, when I was hanging around the Collapsonomicists, they always told me cultures don't collapse into Mad Max overnight, or in months, or a year. It is a decades slow decline as the network of people and specialisations and sub-widget-for-sub-widget-for-machines factories start to fail and disappear, slow, slowly. And god, when you think about it, is our current world fragile and specialised, stacking nonsense on nonsense.

We live in a world where people can have whole lucrative jobs helping people who make nothing tangible as well, to write 140 character messages with a mental lifespan of about an hour, if that, to be seen on pocket computers that are expected to be replaced every 18 months. If these social media helpers get good at it, they get to lord over other people writing those messages. I've made money herding smart people for days into a process of drawing badly so that we could agree how a person could use a tiny pocket box that talks to a bunch of computers in an office to display the data from their homes so they could tell other computers to add non-existent money to their accounts to keep the lights on. An infrastructure worth millions and millions of pounds employing thousands of people to recreate a wood fire than we used to sit around in caves, but now with proper shareholder value added. There are days my business existence drives me insane, both by how fragile it is to breaks in those networks and stacks of brittle technologies, and how when the zombie apocalypse happens, I will have nothing of value to contribute--unless someone needs workshops run on how to best construct the perimeters to the survival camps. I will be sending out foraging parties to get me back Sharpies. I will use them well: many brave people will have died to fetch them for me. I hope they find some green ones too.

I have ten nieces and nephews and I don't know what the kind of world the fuck they are going to live in, but I doubt it will have pre-packaged single serve organic mochi in 5 flavors for all of them--maybe just the 5%. We're caught between rapacious neoliberalism that stops most of us from getting better off over time as our parents did, and has now saddled the young with ridiculous debt and no options, and mechanisation of almost every job now that deep learning will allow robots to navigate mines as easily as they diagnose diseases. The planet's weather has been so destabilized resources we depend on will dwindle, while we globally undermine the only model for portioning them out we have collectively agreed on sucks the least, by making everyone unemployed and gives 200 people all the wealth. Currently 47% of all Americans can't cover a $400 emergency. That is shocking. It's also the state the world has always been in except between the years of 1945 - 1980.

Can the AIs mititgate out of control weather? They had better because humans can't get organised enough to stop it because of our short term impulse. It's just that I do expect these major shifts in my lifetime, as certain breadbaskets now become 0 yield and other land will become arable. Will we get vertical farms in collapsing office buildings in Detroit? Will all cities slowly start to look like inner-city Detroit as infrastructure rots away? I still recycle paper and plastic in my household, but I keep wondering for what.

The image I feel coming closest to is SOYLENT GREEN. Forget the sensationalism of the plot reveal; I'm more thinking a city crowded, perenially hot. We recognize how the people live, but it is brutally backwards from where we used to be. People are crowded as everyone needs roommates to pay the rent, and sometimes just fucking homeless sleeping on stairs. We already have plenty of homeless, but these aren't mentally ill or confirmed clochards: they are people who want to work and want to stay healthy but for whom the economy of overcrowding and mechanization and indusrtialisation just no longer has a dwelling but an assigned spot in a hallway. I just noticed days ago that the homeless problem in London is worse--and that the homeless look healthier, younger, and relatively undrugged. They travel in small groups, they share resources and pets, and they could be a whole lot of trouble if their class-consciousness ever truly awakes.

Yes, my fear is making me more of a Socialist. I was thinking Basic Income wasn't the worst way to distribute the resources robots and a few smart people will produce in our post-AI world, until an article woke me up to the fact that that is basically a technocratic solution to an organizational problem that will only stratify everything more. Menawhile, the dream of richess combined with an incredibly clogged market is creating the opportunity for privacy-free dorms for entrepreneurs, which are basically homeless shelters for people with enough social markers to make their aspiration to wealth more credible than of a mentally ill black man roaming the streets of Downtown LA.

It's all too inching to dystopia for me, but only because I am old enough to remember dreams of everyone getting white picket fences, not just a few whose lives allow them to live far outside of cities or have a crapton of money or have been in the same place for half my life and thus could buy in before the cheap money of the last three decades turned homes from a necessity to an investment vehicle and blew up city living for the young and the new. And above a certain age, the homeowners just don't get what the rest is looking at; I have 30-something friends telling me their parents berate them that of course they will never own their own homes for buying new phones every two years, and of course my friends wonder what planet their parents are on if they think an iphone and a plane ticket to the US for a holiday is actually what is keeping them from having a £60.000 downpayment ready. People ten years younger than them start this race with student debt to service even before that downpayment. I'm terrified at what the twentysomethings here are looking at, because I can tell them what it looks like: I just have to look at my 40-something friends in the US who are not in tech.

I am 46 and I don't feel safe. Circumstances have me free-lancing again, and I laugh at this "freedom" is the envy of many. I just see it as having to double down on budgeting because I can't predict the future much, and I certainly can't book travel unless I know where and when I am working. I was talking today about someone about graffiti artists and they said "But of course, they have no financial security." I had to remind them that neither had I. I may be comparatively wealthy (but not for long should I be unable to work) and I make a lot when I work, but nobody in the sharing / free-lance / flexible economy is stable. A friend of mine in one of the financial oversight agencies keeps telling me the macro balance sheets have still not dealt with the 2008 crisis, really, and that he is a pariah at work when he mentions he is not sure either homeownership or pensions will actually be any kind of old-age insurance, something the rest of the agency just assumes will be.

Articles being shoved at me by Medium on recommendation of my tech & design entrpreneur friends on Twitter tell me global poverty is crashing so things are working, and that I need to spiritually grow to let go of the rat race and find freedom away from the shackles of expectations about materialism, ambition, career, and relationships I carry from social conditioning about success created to keep me in my place as an unenlightened drone. I keep think I'd love me some enlightened release from this existential anxiety of what the fuck I will do once the world shifts so fast UX no longer is what I can get paid to do or my credibility to do it is lost for being too old in an ageist tech world, but I still need to make money for shelter and food today, and that involves staying in this rate race.

I'm just fucking happy yet again I don't have children. Having someone whose future depends on me would drive me insane right now.

fj: (Default)
"Fishy" as some drag synonym for passing as female is an unbelievably misogynist term.
In my youth, I instinctually never bought David Bowie as some guiding light for queerness: his constant insistence it was all theater implied he got to take it off at home and safely go to the supermarket or negotiate his record contracts flaunting the ultimate accessory for success: possession of a white penis.
And then he goes and does the hetero-normative rock-star thing of marrying an impossibly beautiful woman anyway, like all male rock-stars before him. Some commitment to queer transgression there, people.
It's truly cold to tell a group they are too focused on identity and identity politics when the statistically prevalent outcome of medically neglecting their identity issues is suicide. Or to espouse how awesomely self-reliant and strong a gender-bending lifestyle hobby makes you by only counting the survivors.

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