Jan 23, 2015

A Beefcake Tour of France

After being surrounded with the best art in the world for a pitiably short number of days or weeks or months, no one will blame you for choosing more weeks in Paris over Dijon or Strasbourg. But if you need a break from the sensory overload, here's a week-long drive into the countryside.  Don't be surprised if you run into more artistic treasures.

And cute guys.

Day 1: From Paris, head west on A11 to Chartres (1 hour).  See the famous Cathedral, then go on to LeMans (1 1/2 hours) (stop to visit the famous Cathedral).

Stop at the Place des Jacobins, to see the Quinconces Park and the Cultural Center, and this monument to a nude Wilbur Wright.

Not a lot of gay life, but there are a few bars.

Day 2: West on the E50 for about two hours to Rennes. the heart of eastern Brittany (though only about 2% of the population speaks Breton).  See the Musee de Bretagne, and then stop at Parc du Thabor, which has some nice views, and some nude statues, including Faune a la Flute.

In the evening, try the Sauna California on the rue de Leon, but be careful: on some nights, it's mixed male-female.

Day 3:  I would spend a lot more time exploring Brittany and the Breton language, but if you're not a language buff, you might want to go south on the D775 and then east on the E50 to Tours (2 1/2 hours).  The most interesting sights are the Chateau de Tours, the Basilica de St. Martin, and the Botanical Gardens.  There are several gay bars within walking distance of the Basilica.

Day 4: It's an hour and a half drive to Bourges, and the Cathedral St. Etienne, and then another three hours on to Dijon.  You'll have just enough time to go to the Place Francois Rude, with this nude statue in its center, for dinner.  Then spend the evening at Le Bossuet Sauna, near the Cathedral.

Day 5:  Check out this beefy, nude male (hugging a nude female) on Beune Street, then drive two hours east on the A36 to Mulhouse, an old Rheinish city near the German border.

More after the break.

Jan 21, 2015

Why I Stopped Reading "Doonesbury"

Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury  first appeared in national syndication in 1970.  I had heard of the strip, but knew nothing about it until the summer of 1982, right after my college graduation, when I found a copy of The Doonesbury Chronicles (1975) at a garage sale.

It came along to grad school in Bloomington with me, along with my Greek New Testament and the copy of The City and the Pillar that I bought in West Hollywood.

I was mesmerized by these 1970s college students, who live together on a commune outside Walden College, and form an alternate family, with heterosexual romance virtually absent.

Mike Doonesbury, the level-headed, somewhat naive central character.
The radical hippie Mark Slackmeyer.
Pot-loving "freak" Zonker Harris
Conservative all-American B.D.
And especially Joanie Caucus, a housewife who abandoned a heterosexual life for the wild freedom of the commune.

In Bloomington in 1982, I started reading the strip in the Herald-Times.  The politics bored me, and I disliked the custom of using weird icons for political figures, like a cowboy hat for Ronald Reagan.

But hetero-romance was still virtually absent, and there were occasional glimmers of the same-sex friendships that once fueled Walden Pond.

From January 1983 to October 1984, Trudeau took a hiatus from the strip.  When it returned, I was in Houston, teaching at Hell-fer-Sartain State College, the worst place in the world, and to my consternation, the characters had "grown up."  That is, most of them had acquiesced to the heterosexist life trajectory of husbands and wives.  Mike married J.J. , B.D. married Boopsie, Joanie married Rick Redfern.

So I abandoned them as relics of the Straight World.  I haven't read Doonesbury since.

But I have researched the gay story lines.

1. Andy Lippincott appeared in January 1976 as a fellow law student Joanie is crushing on.  In February, he tells her that he's gay.  She's shocked -- she asks "are they sure?", certain that he must have gotten several doctors to diagnose such a serious condition.

Then Andy vanishes.  In the late 1980s, he appears again, to die of AIDS.  Many newspapers refused to run the continuity, stating that the topic of gayness was "inappropriate for the comics page."

2. In 1977, Joanie decides to spend the night with her boyfriend, Rick.  No gay content, but many newspapers refused to run the "morning after" strip because they thought it was two guys in bed together.

3. In the 1990s, Mark realizes that he is gay.  By that time, he is an adult, the host of a call-in political radio program.  He and his co-host, the conservative Chase, begin dating, and finally marry in 2007.  They have since divorced.

Not a lot, but still, more than most newspaper comics.

See also: Hell fer Sartain State College.

Jan 18, 2015

12 More Public Penises of Spain

Most visitors to Spain stick to the provinces south and east of Madrid.  The south has gypsies, oranges, and Moorish architecture.  The north has factories.

But there's a lot of attractions in the north.  Two distinct languages: Galician (close to Portuguese), and Basque, unique among the languages of the world.

Some of the world's best beaches.

Some of the world's best beefcake.

And a surprising amount of nudity in  male art.

1. Avila, about an hour's drive north of Madrid, is a beautiful walled city, famous for the Medieval mystic Teresa de Avila and for a naked limestone monster just outside the city wall.

2. Zamora, about an hour and a half north of Avila, on the Duero River, boasts more Romanesque-style churches than any other city in Spain.   Plus this modernist Homenaje a Leon Felipe, featureless except for his penis.

Everyone thinks he's a soccer star raising his hands in victory.  Actually, Leon Felipe was a poet.

3. Viriato isn't exactly nude, but he's buffed.  He was the leader of the Lusitanian people who fought off the invading Romans between 147 and 139 BC.

4. Pontevedra is in the northeast corner of Spain, about three hours from Zamora (the best way to get there is through Portugal).  It's the heart of Galicia. with lots of beefcake art, such as the Fiel Contraste, a bodybuilder holding a scale.

5. Oviedo, about four hours east on the Bay of Biscay, is the capital of Asturias.  It has a nice Archaeological Museum, the Boys-Sauna (don't worry, the clientele is all adult), and the Cathedral of San Salvador.  In the Plaza de Espana, across from the Cathedral, you can see this neoclassical boy and dolphin.

6. Plus the Monumento a la Concordia, in the Plaza del Carbayon, depicting three very muscular naked men and three naked women (not romantic couples).

More after the break.


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