Oct 1, 2016
By thy rivers gently flowing, Illinois, Illinois,
O'er the prairies verdant growing, Illinois, Illinois,
Comes an echo on the breeze.
Rustling through the leafy trees, and its mellow tones are these, Illinois, Illinois.
Has any state song been more reviled and made fun of?
Yep. Across the river, Iowa's state song is just as bad, if not worse:
From yonder Misissippi's stream
To where Missouri's waters gleam
O! fair it is as poet's dream, Iowa, in Iowa.
Who decided that states should have official songs to be foisted upon schoolchildren and the audiences of football teams, and who decided that they should be uniformly so awful? And heterosexist?
I took it upon myself to read the lyrics of all 50+ state songs (some have more than one).
It was dismal. Song after song of nonsense.
This state is full of badgers, this state is full of sod,
This state is full of sandwiches, this state is under God.
New York's is hands-down the stupidest:
New York is special. New York is diff'rent' cause there's no place else on Earth quite like New York and that's why I love New York.
What, "Start spreading the word, I'm leaving today" was taken?
Contrary to what you might think, it was not composed by a 5-year old, but by Steve Karmen, an accomplished tv commercial jingle writer: "Aren't you glad you use Dial?", "When you say Budweiser," "The Great American chocolate bar."
Avenge the patriotic gore that flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore, Maryland! My Maryland!
Colorado's is all about mass extinction due to global warming:
The bison is gone from the upland, the deer from the canyon has fled,
The home of the wolf is deserted, the antelope moans for his dead
Fortunately, they replaced it with John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" in 2007.
And over half are disgustingly heterosexist, making schoolkids and football teams sing about "Aren't you glad everybody is heterosexual? Aren't you glad those pesky gay people don't exist?"
How many times have you heard Indiana's "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away," without knowing who ir what was on that riverbank? Some guy's dead girlfriend:
Long years have passed since I strolled thro' the churchyard.
She's sleeping there, my angel, Mary dear,
I loved her, but she thought I didn't mean it,
Still I'd give my future were she only here.
Other arms reach out to me, other eyes smile tenderly
Still in the peaceful dreams I see the road leads back to you
By the way, when you google "Georgia football player shirtless," what you get is Darian Alvarez, a soccer player from Honduras. Not that I'm complaining.
Before countering with "South Carolina On My Mind" in 1984, South Carolina's state song was a little more graphic about the guy's girlfriend getting with other guys..
Thy skirts indeed the foe may part,
Thy robe be pierced with sword and dart,
They shall not touch thy noble heart!
After that, Michigan's state song about lost love is sort of a relief. The girlfriend is receding into the distance, while the guy moans "What am I supposed to do without you?"
Tennessee has "The Tennessee Waltz," which we had to sing in grade-school music class; "I was dancing with my darling, etc., etc." Missouri has "The Missouri Waltz," which has a whole complicated story about a father reminiscing to his children about his wife or ex-wife or something.
Oklahoma adopted "Oklahoma," from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, which is all about getting married and moving to the land stolen from the Indians:
Ev'ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk makin' lazy circles in the sky
Um...you know that hawk is searching for small animals to kill and eat, right?
Utah! With its focus on family,
Utah! Helps each child to succeed.
People care how they live.
Each has so much to give.
This is the place!
I just wish these guys were from Mississippi, so there'd be ten of them.
No state song extolled same-sex friendship, and the only one with any beefcake was Alabama's, mentioning two Native American heroes with muscular physiques:
Fair thy Coosa-Tallapoosa
Bold thy Warrior, dark and strong,
Alabama, Alabama, we will aye be true to thee!
Whoops, my mistake. Those are both rivers.
Still, I imagine that grade school kids in Alabama have a lot of fun thinking of dirty meanings to Coosa-Tallapoosa.
Sep 30, 2016
When I was a kid, we drove from Rock Island to Garrett in northeastern Indiana at least twice a year to visit my parents' family. But after I moved to West Hollywood, I devoted my trips back to the Midwest to Rock Island and Indianapolis. I haven't been to Garrett in 20 years.
Maybe I didn't want to come back to the country-western music, red pick up trucks, Republicans, rednecks, fundamentalists, casual racism, and incessant "wife and kids! wife and kids! wife and kids!" heterosexism. This is what I moved to West Hollywood to escape.
Last time I saw my cousin Annie, she was ten years old. Now she's 30, a plump hausfrau in a Wal-Mart frock living down the road in Auburn, Indiana. She says "I haven't seen you for so long! Are you still a Nazarene?" and introduces her two sons, Paul, aged five (named after my Uncle Paul), and Phil, aged two (named to be alliterative, I guess). Paul shakes hands solemnly; Phil hides in his mother's arms.
Then her husband, whose name I don't catch: a scary redneck truck driver with an admittedly spectacular basket, but few other attractive traits: a long face, a scraggly beard, and lots of ugly tattoos.
"So, how do you like living in Florida?" Annie asks. "Do you spend all day at the beach, looking at all the gorgeous people in swimsuits?"
"Not really. It's like living anywhere else -- I get up, go to work, go to the gym, come home."
"Are you seeing anyone special?"
I'm not going to mention my new boyfriend, Wade the Beach Boy. I'm not going to come out to a small-town fundamentalist hausfrau married to a scary truck driver.
Indianapolis, September 2016
A funeral. Annie is 45 years old, with a new husband, a 50-ish chubby guy with a moustache and square workman's hands, and, I assume, the supersized basket she finds attractive. They sit with her mother and sons.
Paul is 19, a sophomore at Indiana University, taller than me, curly-haired, handsome, with a stunning smile and a big chest and shoulders obvious even in his blue dress shirt. I wonder if he inherited his father's super-sized basket.
Ok, he's my second cousin, but I can't help cruising him a little.
The full story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.
Pietro Boselli began modeling professionally at the age of six in his home town of Brescia, Italy. But when moved to London to go to university (University College of London, Mechanical Engineering with high honors, 2010), he knew that his modeling would detract from his academic achievements. So gradually he refused assignments, deleted it from his resume, and went into the closet.
Uh-oh. What happens when you google "Pietro Boselli" and "Modelling," hoping to find some of his academic research on the topic?
Resigning himself to his fate -- and anxious to make some extra money to pay his university fees - Pietro signed on with Models 1, and began to get prestigious assignments for Abercrombie & Fitch, Moschino, Equinox, and Vogue.
Dr. Boselli worries about what will happen in the future. How will he be taken seriously at conferences? How will he be able to get an academic job?
Meanwhile modeling is fun, and you get used to the constant cruising and sexual innuendos.
He hasn't specified a sexual orientation, but he's happy to give interviews to gay magazines, so I'm going to guess straight.
Sep 28, 2016
I'm in Paris for the first time in eight years, visiting my old haunts and catching up with old friends. Farshad, the French Moroccan on my Sausage List, and his roommate Michel have me over for dinner.
Farshad is 38 years old, dark-skinned, bearded, with a hairy chest. More importantly, he's one of the founders of the first gay Muslim organization in France and a member of a gay-friendly masjid. Michel is a second-generation French Tunisian in his 20s, short, slim, with a smooth chest.
The French are not as star-struck as Americans, so celebrity hookups are not a common dinner-party topic of conversation, but I mention my relationship with Jimmy the Boy Toy, how my real-life celebrity boyfriend was not famous enough, so I invented a hookup with Gregg Sulkin of the Wizards of Waverly Place.
"Why didn't you tell him Leonardo DiCaprio?" Farshad asks. "He's more famous, and more believable. Tout le monde a été dans son lit. [Everyone has been in his bed.] Even me."
I nod knowingly. Leonardo DiCaprio is not only immensely talented, a humanitarian, and a strong ally of the gay community, he's very, very busy. He has been involved in passionate romances with female supermodels from three continents, yet he still has the time and energy to rack up up gay rumors. Nearly every guy I know claims to have been with him, or at least to have seen him kissing a bloke at a nightclub.
But Michel is impressed. "You and the star of Titanic!" he exclaims. "I never knew that. Did you say 'I'm king of the world!' when you topped him?"
The full story, with nude photos and sexual content, is on Tales of West Hollywood.
Sep 27, 2016
For many years they appeared in Tintin Magazine, and comparisons with the Tintin strip are inevitable.
1. Tintin was originally published in French, Suske en Wiske in Flemish.
2. Tintin has a talking dog, Milou (Snowy). Wiske has a doll, Schanulleke (Muffin), which doesn't talk, unless she is brought to life.
Wiske's Aunt Sidonia
The befuddled scientist Professor Barabas
The portly comic relief character Ambrose
Muscular superheroic caveman Jethro.
4. Tintin's adventures are mainly naturalistic, with occasionally a bit of science fiction. Suske and Wiske run the gamut of mystical, paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction. They travel back in time to ancient Egypt or the Viking era. They stop a war on the far side of the moon. They interact with ghosts, dragons, wizards, and fairies.
5. Both Tintin and Suske en Wiske all but eliminate hetero-romance. Suske and Wiske are platonic friends, and the adults rarely go out on dates or express romantic interest.
6. Tintin has a strong gay subtext, a romance in all but the name between Tintin and Captain Haddock. I haven't found one in the Suske en Wiske albums that I've read.
But there's lots of beefcake, of a cartoonish sort.
7. Both Tintin and Suske en Wiske have been translated into many languages. Suske en Wiske is particularly assiduous at translations into Dutch dialects: Brabantian, Dreents, Fries, Groning, Kalmhouts, Limburgish, Tweants.
Admit it: You didn't know there were so many dialects of Dutch. Actually, there are 18, if you include Afrikaans and Flemish.
8. Both have achieved popularity in media other than comics. Suske and Wiske have appeared in several movies, with Suske played by David Verbeek, Niels Destadsbader, Joeri Busschots (left), and Guilhermo Appolonio (top photo). There have been television programs, stage musicals, and video games.
Cosplay is popular.
There are statues of the characters in Antwerp and Middelkerke, and a wall mural in Brussels. They have their own museum in Kalmthout.
In 2013, Charel Cambre introduced a spin-off, Amoras, with adult Suske and Wiske going into the future to avert a catastrophe in the present. Suske pairs up with a girl named Jerusalem.
The adult Suske is a handsome, muscular action hero, but he encounters semi-naked girls and has a hetero-romance.
You get something, you lose something.
Sep 26, 2016
He was a big man!
Sounds good so far. When I was seven or eight years old, I was all for watching tv shows about a man, especially a big man. Especially a big man who was a "dream come-er true-er."
But Batman was on the other channel. No kid in his right mind would pick a cowboy over the Dynamic Duo. I never saw a single episode of Daniel Boone (1965-70) when it originally aired.
I've seen one since, for research purposes. Not a lot of gay content. Not a lot of cowboy content, either.
2. He has a sidekick anyway, Mingo, one of the least convincing Native Americans on tv, actually played by singer Ed Ames (who, although Jewish, became famous for recording the Chrismas song "Do You Hear What I Hear").
3. It's not even the Old West. This is Kentucky during the Revolutionary War.
Prior to Daniel, Fess Parker had starred in other Disney productions, notably Davy Crockett, Old Yeller, and The Light in the Forest (ignoring the crush of James Mac Arthur). Afterwards he retired to run a vineyard and give conservative speeches.
Magnum P.I. clone who keeps encountering nude women and swishy gay stereotypes while trying to solve a murder. At least he looks good semi-nude.
Sep 25, 2016
Conservative superstar Pat Boone, the World's #1 homophobe, had a three-way with Darrin of Bewitched?
I'm back in West Hollywood for a post-Oscar party thrown by Lane and his roommate Randall, 62 years old, but still a hot muscle bear with a pierced penis and a coterie of leather bear, cub, and otter friends.
The conversation moves inevitably toward celebrity hookups, and Randall begins telling the story of how, as an 18 year old in 1958, his friend Dick Sargent (who would star in Bewitched in the 1960s) took him to a gay party in Beverly Hills, where they hooked up with Groucho Marx and Cary Grant. On the same night, in the same bed.
He's at the part where he and Dick are sitting in a parked car, making out and discussing who's gay in Hollywood. Sal Mineo. James Dean. "Pat Boone. I haven't actually been with him, but I've watched him in action."
"Wait, wait, wait!" someone exclaims. "Pat Boone is a total homophobe. He writes books on how to 'be saved from the dangerous homosexual lifestyle.' Are you trying to tell us that he's gay?"
"According to Dick, he's straight, but open to 'fooling around' with guys," Randall says. "They shared a teenage fan when they were working on a movie together."
The full story, with nude photos and explicit sexual content, is on Tales of West Hollywood.