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Vertical Prose


March 15th, 2006

letter to a friend @ 06:00 am

we rode the train all day
well
not too early
but it was a 6 hour ride
from Amsterdam to Berlin

long flat plains
covered in snow
falling sideways
through the birch forests

i was shocked
that we were pulling into Zoo Station
the view from the platform: a bombed out church
left in a monumental state of disrepair.

we went out of Zoo Station
to the U-Bahn right next door
took the line U2 to the Wittenburgplatz

U2?

so i put on Achtung Baby the first night i had to walk around
and laughed at U2
and laughed at my childhood
and wondered what experience those guys had here in Berlin
... and why i never knew they were singing about Berlin?

somewhere in berlin with you
everything covered in snow
i laughed about you too
about you and me
about "who's gonna ride your wild horses"
and all the other songs.

i don't remember ever watching "Wings of Desire" with you
but i found myself on Potsdamerplatz
and marveled at how everything had changed from when that movie was filmed ( a few years before the wall fell )

art and culture
and money

and space
holes left over
waiting for the change
where commerce hadn't found it yet
and communism or war had amputated parts of it

some small side street
lost in twenty years ago
a watch tower
where... i guess... they'd shoot you if you tried to go across. . .
still, a little tiny sad box of a café underneath it
under it's watchful eye
filled with silent faces drinking their coffee

many miss it
that way of life
it's all they knew
all this "freedom" is utterly confusing to them.

we took the u-bahn back to zoo station
and left out of there early sunday morning
so we could see Dresden
a Jewel of Old Germany
destroyed out of spite in the war
-- attempted restorations
but a bulk of communist-era buildings
... the emptiness
something left me feeling so sad
so "depressed"
we had scheduled three hours to see the town
by one and a half
i wanted out of there

... we spent the last hour sitting at the train station waiting 
being cold (snow still falling)
reading Thomas Mann (ugh, i really don't like his writing style, but want to read Death in Venice before i get there )

did i ever share eastern european authors with you?

the big ones like Kafka and Kundera
we didn't really talk about them so much, did we?
the smaller ones like
Schultz, Grombrowitcz and Walsser

Prague IS a midaevil city
and Leo has never read any of that stuff
so i recount the stories i remember ( i read the bulk of that stuff at 15 through 19 )

all about feeling out of place
wondering who the fuck you are
giving yourself over to paranoia and self consciousness
and getting lost somewhere in there
or exulting it.

i sat in a bath house last night (it's 5:30 am now, i woke from the heat of the radiator, and the dramatic dream i was having)

sauna, whirlpool
i sat in the tepid water
bubbles everywhere
having just had sex with some finnish guy
wondering
after the rush of it
why i'd done it...?
and
indeed
why i'd done any of it

remembering in my youth 
after i'd left Oscar Wilde and Morrissey and found Fags in Indiana
i believed that being a part of gay culture = AIDS = Death
so fearing and avoiding sex with queens, bath houses, bars, discos

but as i aged
lost somewhere in america
i felt i had to accept gay culture

not like you did it
where you embraced a personality of it
piercing your eyebrow, dying your hair
being a beautiful young thing
but i made myself an old man who had just left his wife and stumbled into my generation's outlets...
(except i wasn't an old man who had just left his wife... i had just left the midwest and all the repression entailed)
not knowing what to do
i would sit in bars and talk with the Cat Men
drinking
drunking
the going home
the hopeful love
based in nothing

eventually succumbing to bath houses
after working in one
to try and understand the culture
to try and get past my fears
.. i just made it so i couldn't hear the screaming of my paranoia anymore
but i blotted out the voice of reasonable fear as well

but that's how i moved, that's how i lived
and found it ok,
somewhere in my life
to retire
and spend my days chasing tail
caught in the hungry rush
and wondering Why when the sweat had cooled

i was right about everything
or half of everything
or a quarter of everything
-- just enough to seal my fate
and wondering if it could have been different if i'd chosen writing imaginary paranoias 
(though, at the breaking point, i didn't want to create more fear and pain for the world
even at the expense of my catharsis
my fear of proliferating pain to any audience
kept me doing it in my friends and lovers)

so i sat with the bubbles around me
wondering what it was i WAS doing
and wondering what you were doing...
being gay in your way
much safer, much more nourishing than mine
and cultivating your life
even if out of stuff i can't understand or enjoy
(LA)
doing your best to sculpt a person of  . . . famous movie making
and even if you possibly failed that
you would have a satisfying domestic life
and an acceptable job doing certain affects for TV and films
dreams to reach for
and something to fall back on

where i'm at a crucial moment
and have no idea where i want my story to go
how to make it believable
how to even keep it going...
how to pull a magic trick again
to keep it from becoming a horrorshow

but i guess i've got some talent for magic tricks like that
(the bunny will set you free -- i saw it on my ipod a few days ago)
some sort of faith in myself i'll be alright




thanks for being a person
i can share a story and thought with
even if i'm not being able to communicate with you
lost in Lyon
or somewhere in Europe with you
 
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