Feb 22, 2020

The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia: A "Family-Friendly" Show "For the Entire Family"

The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia  is a teencom straight out of Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel, a mashup of Hannah Montana and ICarly: a girl with absent parents lives in an impossibly lavish house with a goofy "big brother"; she is trying to live a "normal" life in spite of being special, so she hangs out with two best friends, a with-it girl and a nerdy boy (who may have a crush on her).

In this case, Ashley has just received a double doctorate at age 15, and is starting a new job at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena (maybe she'll run into Sheldon Cooper).  She lives in an impossibly lavish house with her Tio Victor (Jencarlos Canela), a famous former football player turned high school coach, who never seems to attend any practices or games.

Jencarlos, by the way, is famous in Latin America, with starring roles in such telenovelas as Pasion Prohibita  and Pecados Ajenos.

In spite of her high-tech job designing robots for the Mars rover, Ashley wants to live a "normal" teenage life (with "kiss a boy" on her bucket list), so she hangs out at an impossibly lavish burger place run by Mario Lopez (sigh), who is also the producer.

I don't get it.  This guy hasn't aged a day since he played Slater on Saved by the Bell thirty years ago.  He even points it out on the show: "not aging is kind of my thing."

Ashley's best friend is social media influencer Brooke (Bella Poderas channeling Ashley Tisdale on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody).

Her nerd friend is Stick (Reed Horstmann, who has only two previous acting credits).  I thought Stick was gay because of his multiple rings, but he dates Brooke and has a crush on Ashley.

I couldn't find any shirtless photos of Reed, but I did find this one where he's very chummy with another guy. I'm guessing gay in real life.

The other major cast member is the captain of the football team, dreamy-but-stupid Tad (Conor Husting).

I couldn't find any shirtless pics of Conor, either, except one where he's water-skiing.

I assumed that there would be canonical gay characters somewhere, or gay references, or something.

But in 8 episodes, not a word.  Every boy is girl-crazy.  Every girl is boy-crazy.  The school dance consists entirely of male-female couples.  Uncle Victor has a girlfriend. Tad has a girlfriend.  Stick keeps striking out with girls.

Mario tells us that it's a "universal, family-friendly story." Jencarlos reiterates: "It's for the entire family." In other words, no homos allowed.

Gay Inclusivity: F-

In Episode 13, which hasn't aired yet, Nacho Tambuting plays someone named Blaine St. Claire.  Sounds like a gay-coded name.  Maybe he'll be an androgynous villain that no one ever says is gay. like Neville Papperman on ICarly.

Feb 21, 2020

Hunters: Everything Bad About the Summer of 1977, and Not Enough Beefcake

The Hunters, on Amazon Prime, is set in 1977 New York City, where Steve Guttenberg..um, I mean Dustin Hoffman...um, I mean Logan Lerman...discovers that there are hundreds of Nazis (the World War II kind) living in America and plotting to start a Fourth Reich.  He joins a band of Nazi Hunters to thwart their plans.

Sounds like a dour, gritty crime drama. But some of episode titles are tongue in cheek ("The Great Ole Nazi Cookout of '77"), and the episode synopsis are written in faux King James English: "In the beginning, a plague crossed the House of Heidelbaum...on the second day, God created the Hunters...a trail of signs did lead the Hunters unto the merchant's lair." 

So I'm thinking comedy-drama.  But 1977, the greatest year of the greatest decade of the 20th century!  "Dancing Queen," "Staying Alive," Jimmy Carter, Billy Crystal on Soap.  I'm definitely watching.

Scene 1: Biff (Dylan Baker), the under-secretary of state, is having a cookout and being a sexist jerk.  Suddenly one of the guests drops her plate and starts screaming that he is "The Butcher," who killed her entire family in the concentration camps.    So he shoots everyone, including his wife and kids.

Dumbest line:  "We survived!" "You didn't survive, you marinated."

Scene 2: Jonah (Logan Lerman) and his two friends (one black, one fat) are leaving Star Wars and discussing tits, when he sees Carol, the Girl of His Dreams, making out with Dennis (Gordon Winerick), the homophobic, anti-Semitic jerk she's dating (at least he's hung). Dennis steals his stash of marijuana.  They fight.

Scene 3: Jonah goes home and gets coddled by his grandmother, Ruth/Safta.  He then goes to his room and masturbates while thinking of the Girl of His Dreams.   So far this is a mash-up of cliche upon cliche, and I'm pretty sure that Jonah is straight.

Scene 4: He awakens to Ruth being shot and killed by a mysterious intruder.  Is he going to become Spiderman?

Scene 5: In Washington DC, Evil Hunkoid (Greg Austin) is taking a bubble bath and listening to the sound track from Cabaret.  Feminine Liza Minnelli fan: must be a stereotypic gay villain.  He goes to Biff's house to clean up the mess.  "You can get away with anything in America," Biff says.  "Just blame it on a black man."

Scene 6: At Ruth's memorial service, Jonah is interrogated by Meyer, an old friend "from the camps" (Al Pacino, who starred in the Godfather movies in the 1970s, unrecognizably elderly).

He quotes the Talmud: Living well is the best revenge.  Except that's not from the Talmud, you idiot.

Wait -- Meyer didn't tell him about the Nazi Hunters?

Scene 7: Jonah goes home and snoops through Ruth's things (well, I guess he has to pack them up).  He finds a hidden drawer full of documents, photographs, and journal entries from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1941 (in English, apparently).  Ruth was a Nazi Hunter!

Scene 8: Cape Canaveral, Florida.  After the plumber fixes her shower, a naked old lady (bare butt, boobs, the works) goes in. I'm not kidding -- five minutes of her boobs and butt.  Gas comes out instead of water, and kills her. 

Scene 9:  FBI Headquarters.  Hard-driven female African-American agent Morris discusses the "floppy jalopy" of a Mafia informant with her sexist boss. She gets the Naked Old Lady case.  

Scene 10: Evil Hunkoid is in a bowling alley, where he terrorizes the attendant, makes a bowler eat a bowling ball, and threatens Senator Dick's children so he will change his vote.  

Scene 11: Jonah goes to see Meyer, who has a painting of a naked man in his study.  Maybe he's gay (I hope).  A flashback to a living chess game in Auschwitz, with the ladies all naked for some reason.

Scene 12: Snooping around, Jonah finds a hidden doorway, which leads to a room full of diagrams, maps and file cabinets.  Among other projects, Meyer is investigating Ruth's murder.  Jonah runs away with a photograph of the car belonging to the murderer.

Still no coming out as a Nazi Hunter, Meyer? 

Scene 13: Investigating Naked Lady's murder, Agent Morris gets cryptic clues: "Find the first, and you will find what you're looking for."

Yawn.  Jeremy Lanutti (left) plays Biff Junior, who splashes around in a pool and is shot in the first scene.  Could I watch a show with him in a starring role, instead?

Scene 14: Jonah finds the car outside a toy store. He attacks Richter, the elderly Nazi inside, but ends up zapped and tied up, and asked "Is it safe?" (Sorry, wrong movie). "Why was your grandmother looking for me?"  Jonah tries to escape, they fight, and Meyer comes to the rescue.

FINALLY Meyer reveals that he and Ruth were Nazi-hunters.

Scene 15: Agent Morris returns to Naked Lady's apartment and finds a photograph of her shaking hands with Adolph Hitler.  

Scene 16: Evil Hunkoid does his laundry.  Biff calls and says that he did such a good job, the Colonel wants to meet him. Dig the swastika tattoo

Scene 17: Meyer explains the origin of the Nazi Hunter organization, and introduces him to the very diverse gang: a nun, a Foxy Brown, an Asian guy, Carol Kane, a guy in a pink shirt (maybe he's gay?)  Stupid last line:  "Let's get to cooking those Nazi cunts."

Heterosexism:  Constant.  I lost track of the references to tits.

Gay Characters:  Probably just the Evil Hunkoid.

Beefcake:  Evil Hunkoid takes off his shirt.  Nobody else.  But if you're into old lady butt, you got it made.

1977 References:  Lots.  From Three's Company to Son of Sam to the Olympics, with a constant 1970s soundtrack.  But the 1970s was also fraught with racism, sexism, and homophobia (sort of like today).

Derivative:  Logan Lerman is no Dustin Hoffman. Or Steve Guttenberg.

Watch or Not?  Who needs 1977? I was already there.

Leif Garrett

Even in the glam-rock 1970’s, when swishy postures were sexy and the androgynous became superstars, Leif was so absolutely girlish in every word and gesture, polarized so far into the feminine, that only the pronouns of “he” and “him” gave any indication that this person should be taken as male. And, in spite of a recurring role on Family as the “boyfriend” of aggressively masculine tomboy Buddy (Kristy McNichol), it was impossible to imagine Leif ever sleeping with a girl.  Even the teen magazines made quite a mystery of Leif’s romantic interests. One 1977 article, promising “99 Fax About Leif,” divulged only that he enjoyed playing Monopoly, he preferred being shirtless, and he had never told a girl “I love you.” Perhaps he had told a boy, as they lounged around the house shirtless, playing Monopoly?

Leif seemed conflicted about how epicene his public persona should be. At first he was adamantly, defiantly girlish, but when fans began complaining that parents wouldn’t allow his pinups because he looked too much like a girl, he adopted a new persona, sullen and inarticulate, and, he hoped, masculine. Instead he became androgynous, a Caravaggio youth, or the blond feminine Tadzio who leads Aschenbach to his doom in Death in Venice. The teen magazines did their part: an article in Tiger Beat announced that his first love was skateboarding “next to music and girls, of course,”  and another assured readers that “Leif is a He-Man,” detailing his enthusiasm for jogging, swimming, and horseback riding (still, nary a macho sport in the lot).

Leif released his first album, entitled Leif Garrett, in the fall of 1977, before he was old enough to drive a car; the cover shows him in a maroon shirt, again unbuttoned all the way down to his navel, revealing a smooth, firm, but undefined chest, shoulder-length blond hair, and a round androgynous face. The overt eroticism of the cover art belies the romantic innocence of the tracks, mostly covers of rock classics such as “Johnny B. Goode,” “California Girls,” and “Surfin’ USA.” Nevertheless, several tracks manage to avoid the “girl” filler, making Leif a possible successor to gay-friendly Shaun Cassidy

In Feel the Need, released during the summer of 1978, Leif rebels against both androgyny and feel-good country constraints; in a red blouse, wide-lapelled leather jacket, and grenadier-belt, with a full Farrah Faucett blow-dried hairdo, he could almost be a drag queen. Now the songs stray far from the heteronormative “Runaround Sue” to “I Was Made or Dancing” and “Without You,” which omit pronouns and girls’ names, suggesting that the pain of love could apply equally to boys and girls. Indeed, “Livin’ Without Your Love,” about walking through an empty house after his lover is gone, seems to favor the boy-reading. Leif sings:

Time is such a lonely friend, and the time on my hands is showin'
Nothin' is worse than finally knowin', and livin' without your love.

In real life, Leif apparently enjoys the company of women; he was married once, and was heartbroken when a long-term girlfriend died.  He has never made a public statement acknowledging his gay fans.

Feb 19, 2020

In Search of Basque Beefcake

I've always been fascinated by the Basque language of northern Spain -- not related to any other language on Earth, with words that date back to distant prehistory.

And the Basque physique, with reputedly the biggest beneath-the-belt gifts on Earth.  In 1999, Yuri and I visited Basque country to check.

So I did some searching with Google Translate, to see if I could get some visual evidence of Basque profundity.

1. Azkartza Metropol means "Speed City," but it's a water polo team. Some nice muscles, but a little deficient in the sausage department.

2. Another "Azkartza" water polo team. Not much of a sausage fest here.

3. Igeri taldea, a swim team.  I like the abs, but again, I'm not impressed with much else.

4. Tolosadea IKT.  Tolosadea is a province south of San Sebastian.  The older guy isn't bad.

5. Gexto Igeriketa.  Gexto is a suburb of Bilbao.  Meh.

Maybe I would get better results with cyclists.

More after the break.

Spring 1978: Husbands, Wives, and Lovers

The spring of 1978, my senior year in high school.  I devised a clever scheme to avoid having to date girls: I would ask out a supermodel-cheerleader laughably out of my league.  Then, when she slammed the phone down, or had to wash her hair that night, my parents would "console" me by letting me borrow the car anyway.  So on Friday nights I went out with boys, to movies, to get pizza, to Leonard Bernstein's Mass at Augustana College, to the spring musical.

We would get back to my place or his place about 9:00 and turn on the tv set just in time to hear the jazzy, risque theme song to Husbands, Wives, and Lovers ("and luuv-errrrs"), produced by gay-friendly comedian Joan Rivers.

 It was the first time any man and woman on tv had lived together without being married, and hearing about it made us feel grown-up and sophisticated and sexy. Besides, gay people always called their partners lovers.

We also liked the beefcake-heavy opening credits,  in which five couples are seen in bed together, none of them in the least amorous (I don't know the names of any of the characters).

1. Cynthia Harris tries to get the elderly Stephen Pearlman interested, but he's listening to his own heartbeat with a stethoscope.

2. Lynne Marie Stewart tries to get  hunky, open-shirted Eddie Barth (left) interested, but he's busy eating a sandwich.

3. Ron Rifkin argues with Jessie Welles, takes a pillow, and storms off to sleep elsewhere.  A familiar face on tv, Rifkin later played a middle-aged gay man on Brothers and Sisters.

4. The vain Charles Siebert (seen here on Trapper John MD with Gary Frank) wrests a mirror from Claudette Nevins' hand and uses it to admire himself.

5. Mark Lonow (top photo) waits in anticipation while Randee Heller strips, but he doesn't like the results, and rejects her.

Apparently none of the men were particularly attracted to women.

We didn't continue watching; we changed the channel to Monty Python's Flying Circus on PBS.

Apparently lots of people were changing the channel: Husbands, Wives, and Lovers ended after only nine episodes.  Maybe because nobody wanted to see an hour long comedy?  Or because it aired right after a two-hour block of kid-friendly superhero adventure shows? Or because the elderly people home at 9:00 pm on Saturday nights took offense at lovers?

 But it's surprising how many Boomers remember it.  Or at least the opening credits.

The Van Patten Brothers

Speaking of show biz dynasties, Dick Van Patten's three sons and his younger brother all began appearing on screen at the same time in the late 1970s and early 1980s, producing a quadruple-threat of sandy-haired hunks.

Jimmy Van Patten, born in 1956, played a surfer in the beefcake-heavy Lifeguard (1976), and had guest spots on Gunsmoke, Three for the Road with his brother Vince, Happy Days, and Eight is Enough with his Dad.

Here he is displaying his assets in Roller Boogie (1979), standing next to androgynous romantic lead, Jim Bray.

 Jimmy also starred in the buddy-bonding Lunch Wagon (1981) with his brother Nels, and the actioner High Powder (1982) with Dick, Tim, Nels, and Ralph Macchio. Today he is a writer, director, and producer.

Vince Van Patten, born in 1957, began acting as a kid in 1970, and starred in the warm family comedy Apple's Way (1974-75), Three for the Road (1975) with up-and-coming teen idol Leif Garrett, and Rock and Roll High School (1979).

He hung out in his underwear in the homoerotic horror movie Hell Night (1981), and posed for Playgirl before becoming a professional tennis player and a semi-pro poker player. More recently, he produced and starred in The Break (1995), about a washed-up tennis pro who coaches a rookie (Ben Jorgensen).

Eldest brother Nels (born in 1955) starred mostly in his brothers' vehicles, but he can also be seen in Summer School (1987) with Mark Harmon and Grotesque (1988) with Tab Hunter.  And he appears as Farrah Fawcett's tennis instructor in the reality series Chasing Farrah (2005).

The youngest of the group, Tim Van Patten (born in 1959) is Dick's younger brother, so technically the uncle to Jimmy, Vince, and Nels.  He starred as a high school basketball player named Salami in The White Shadow (1978-81) and the actioner High Powder (1982). More recently he's had roles on St. Elsewhere and True Blue, and he's directed episodes of Sex and the City, The Sopranos, and Boardwalk Empire.

See also: Timothy Van Patten, Tony Danza, and Robert Wagner on a Cold Winter Night; Duke Van Patten

Home Town Beefcake #2: The Iowa Side

This post has been moved to Small Town Beefcake.

Feb 18, 2020

I'm Not Okay With This: Homophobic "Confusion," Teen Angst, and Violence

Netflix is trying to sell me a new series called I am Not OK with This.  The blurb reads: "A teen boy negotiates his budding sexuality and superpowers."

"Budding sexuality" usually means being gay, but it could mean "Becoming a Man By Having Sex with the Girl of His Dreams."    I'm going to need a lot more research before I commit.

1. The Netflix Trailer.

An androgynous, rather dumpy boy is walking down a small-town street.  A car pulls up, and Smiling Boy -- obviously a boyfriend, or soon-to-be-boyfriend --  asks if he is heading to school.

Wait -- the person has a high voice.  Are they supposed to be a boy, a girl, or nonbinary?

The nonbinary person gets in the car, and Smiling Boy drives them to school.  The end.

Whoa, talk about a boring trailer! A nonbinary person gets a ride to school.  In the gripping second episode, they study algebra!


The Internet Movie Database tells me that the nonbinary person is actually a girl named Syd (Sophia Lills, who often looks like a boy or plays a boy in her performances). 

Its trailer begins with a person -- maybe Syd, I'm not sure -- running down a deserted street splattered with blood a la Carrie.    Then she gets mad at her horrible factory town and develops telekinetic powers, a la Carrie.  Smiling Boy is thrilled by her new abilities.  She also flirts with a girl and a boy (who takes his shirt off).

3. Back to Netflix.

A new blurb specifying that it's a girl.  Apparently they fixed their original error.

4. Wikipedia

The minimal article says that the series is based on a graphic novel by Charles Forsman, and it's filmed in Pittsburgh.  And it's a "comedy-drama," which means "drama with an occasional joke."

5. Amazon

Next, Amazon, which tells me about the original graphic novel.  Syd looks like a teenage version of E.C. Segar's Olive Oyl.

It's about "sexual confusion." Sid is in love with her best friend Dina, who is dating the homophobic jerk Brad.  Apparently the paranormal powers result in violence.

"Sexual confusion" sounds rather homophobic.  Is Syd a lesbian, or is she "confused" and getting a boyfriend to "straighten her out"?  Maybe Smiling Boy.

The reviews of the graphic novel are mostly negative: it doesn't end well.  Depending on how homophobic the reviewer is, that could mean "Syd comes out as a lesbian" or "Syd kills her entire class at the prom."

6. A review of the graphic novel on NPR

Syd has sex with a boy but doesn't like it.  She gets vengeance on the homophobic boyfriend of her crush.  There's "a body count."  Sounds awful.

7. IMDB Again, and Instagram

To see if there is any beefcake on the cast list:

Dina (Sofia Bryant) must be  the best friend who Syd has a crush on.

Brad (Richard Ellis, left) is the boy who takes his shirt off.  He seems to be the homophobic jerk who's dating Dina.  No physique photos.

Liam (Aiden Wojtak-Hissong) is Syd's little brother.  He looks around 10.

Stanley (Wyatt Oleff, left) is the Smiling Boy.   I'm guessing he becomes the confidant who converts Syd from lesbian to straight.  No physique photos.

Ricky (Nickelodeon boy Zachary T. Williams, top photo) ,may be the boy who converts Syd, or else maybe he's gay and hooks up with Stanley.  He's the only one with physique photos available.

That's all the cast who appear in half or more of the episodes.  later down the cast list are: Bloodwitch Singer, Mr. Whitaker, Stan's Dad, Popular Guy, Cashier, Teacher, Precision Driver, Customer, Diner Patron, and Waitress.

Wait -- Bloodwitch Singer?

Watch it or not?

Doubtful.  I am not ok with teen angst with no beefcake, homophobic "sexual confusion," no gay characters, and a body count.

Feb 16, 2020

"Merlin": Is There Enough Beefcake to Make Up for the Not-Gay Couple?

I'm interested in the Grail legend, because of its origin in ancient Celtic mythology, but the rest of the Arthurian mythos leaves me flat.  It's mythology in mythology, symbolism that leads to deeper symbolism, but no one will say for sure what the symbolism is.  The Castle Perilous, the Sangreal, the Green Knight, the Dark Tower, the Lady in the Lake.  It gives you a headache.

So I went into Merlin (2008-2012, but newly arrived on Netflix) with low expectations.

In this rendition, Arthur (Bradley James, top photo) is a teenage Once and Future King (although the title makes no sense if he hasn't become king yet),a sort of Prince Harry, rabble-rousing under the disapproving eye of the snarling, villainous King Uther Pendragon (Anthony Head).

Enter country boy and magical adept Merlin (Colin Morgon, much younger looking without the moustache).  He has a meet-cute with Arthur, after posturing for a bit about whose penis is bigger, the two settle into a gay-subtext friendship.

Just subtext, although fans are shipping like mad. The producers adamantly deny that any gay reading is intended.  No gay people existed in the Middle Ages, right?

So they both meet girls.  Merlin hangs out with Gwen (Angel Coulby), a "lowly servant girl" who of course will become Queen Guinevere, while Arthur favors Morgana (Katie McGrath), who will become Merlin's nemesis Morgana Le Fay).  I see a future of mixing and matching.

Magic is strictly forbidden in Camelot (in spite of the dragon downstairs who keeps telling Merlin he's the Chosen One).  The first three episodes all had plots borrowed from Bewitched: Merlin uses magic to save the day, then lets Arthur take the credit.

The Once-and-Future-King business will unravel slowly, as episode-of-the-week features "a mysterious stranger comes to town who is not what he seems."  But I read through the cast list to see if I recognized any characters from the mythos.

1. Sir Gwaine (Eoin Marken) is probably Sir Gawain, who will meet the Green Knight.

2. In the mythos, Sir Percival (Tom Hopper) finds the Holy Grail.  But these people don't have a religion, so what can he find?

As long as he takes off his shirt while finding it, who cares?

3.Sir Elyan (Tomiwa Edun, left), Gwen's brother, is a new character. 

4. Agravaine (Nathaniel Parker), who will reveal Lancelot's affair with Guinevere and bring down the kingdom.

Does it seem fair that a king gets dethroned just because his wife schtups some beach hunk?

5. Lancelot (Santiago Cabrera) only appears in six episodes.  I guess he hits it off with Guinevere very quickly, though I can't see why.  I'd take Arthur any day.

5. The evil Mordred is played by Alexander Vlahos (left), who usually plays gay characters.  I hope he's not going to be a stereotyped queer-feminine villain.

6. Fintan Mckeown plays King Odin. Apparently they'll be delving into Norse mythology; there's also a Freya in the cast list.  But no Thor.

7. Taliesin (Karl Johnson), the legendary Welsh bard.

8. Tindr (Paul McNeilly).  What, no Grindr?

9. Sir Pellinore (Sean Francis, left).  In the mythos, he is endlessly chasing the mysterious Questing Beast.

10. The Fisher King (Donald Sumpter), whose kingdom is barren because he is suffering from a mysterious groin injury.

Plus Druids, Queen Mab, Helios the Sun God, and Geoffrey of Monmouth, who first wrote down the Arthurian legends.  But no Beowulf.

Pudge and Bum, the Beefcake Buddies of Yale University

I saw the name Pudge Heffelfinger online the other day.

Ok, "pudge" means fat, and a "heffelfinger" is a sex act, so..surely this was a made-up name, from a humorous story or satire.

But no, there really is a Heffelfinger family, with a member named Pudge.

Obviously I have to write a post about him.  Someone with such a distinctive name must have some gay connection.

Pudge Heffelfinger (1867-1951) played baseball and football in high school in Minnesota, then went to Yale, where he became all-American three times in a row (I don't know what that means).

I couldn't find any shirtless pics, but he fills out this Yale sweater well.  He was 6'3 and 200 lbs, a giant in his era.

After graduation, he played for the Chicago and Allegheny Leagues, where, in 1892, he was paid $500 for a game against Pittsburgh,  becoming the first professional football player in history.

Later he coached the California Golden Bears, the Lehigh Brown and White, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers, plus returning to Yale as a guest player and coach.  He appeared in exhibition games through his life -- the last time he played was in 1930, when he was 63).

Meanwhile, he published sales booklets for sports equipment and an annual book, Pudge Hefferfinger's Football Facts.  

He produced a sports quiz radio program, plus a spy show, Secret Agent K-7.

For a career, Pudge worked in the shoe business and real estate, and spent twenty years as the Hennepin County, Minnesota Commissioner.  In 1930 he ran unsuccessfully for Congress.

He died in Blessing, Texas in 1954, leaving a wife and four children.

But being married with children doesn't necessarily mean that Pudge was straight.  What about this intimate pose in a cabinet photo from his Yale days?

The moustached guy with feminine hand thing and his wrist an inch or so from Pudge's crotch is Bum McClung, aka Thomas Lee McClung (1870-1914), three years younger, a "frosh" who became a football star in his own right, and, like Pudge, returned to Yale  to coach throughout his life.

After graduation, Bum became the treasurer of Yale University, and in 1909 the United States Treasurer under President Taft.

When he died unexpectedly from an illness in 1914, an obituary called him "a remarkable athlete, a wonderful football player, a lovable classmate, a diligent student, a manly man–a type Yale men idealize for emulation."

You'd never make it to a high office in the U.S. today without being married, but Bum managed.

The late 19th century was the "era of the bachelor," when many men who liked women feared the loss of freedom that came with marriage, as well as the debilitating effect of the sex act itself.  Being unmarried doesn't necessarily mean that Bum was gay.


Maybe he and Pudge....

Here's another picture of Bum McClung with an unidentified friend.  He's doing that feminine hand thing again.


Parikkala Patsaspuisto: The Forest of Gay Dreams and Nightmares

When we traveled from Helsinki to Saint Petersburg in 1998, the train went north to Lahti and then east, entering Russia at Vainikkala.  But if you follow the border for another 75 miles, you will reach the small town of Parikkala, population 6,000, and a short distance outside, the Forest of Gay Nightmares, aka the Parikkala Sculpture Park (Patsaspuisto)

Veijo Rönkkönen (1944-2010) lived all his life in Parikkala.  He worked in the paper mill for 40 years. He was a recluse, with few friends; he never traveled.  In his spare time, he read, practiced yoga, and molded statues in concrete.

Nearly 500 of them.  Some women, animals, and abstract shapes, but mostly men. Mostly naked, or in underwear with explicit bulges.

Realistic, painted, with the haunting, blank expressions, carnivore-teeth (some with real dentures), and rubbery limbs.

Creepy like the underwater drowned-people sculptures in Grenada.

They are scattered randomly around his property, sitting, standing, working, singing, praying, meditating, chasing each other, hugging, doing acrobats, or marching, ghostly armies.

Some are half-hidden by the undergrowth, and jump out at you as if in surprise.  Others are covered in moss, relics of a decaying world.

Moment by moment, the figures become whimsical, mundane, homoerotic, surreal, and disturbing.

During his life, Rönkkönen adamantly refused to turn his sculpture garden into a tourist destination: it was private, a glimpse into his soul.  However, he was gracious to the visitors who stopped by, and as word got out, he won the Finland Prize from the Ministry of Education in 2007 and the Travel Journalists Guild Award in 2008.

Today the site receives 30,000 visitors per year.

It's always open.  Go at night, and then imagine trying to fall asleep in that cottage in the middle of the woods, surrounded by concrete images of your dreams, desires, terrors, and obsessions.

See also: Top Public Penises of Finland and The Gay Surrealism of Kalervo Palsa
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...