By Jeff Walsh
I have a friend and former teacher that I see whenever I go home to visit and, even without much warning, we'll end up sitting at a corner table at a casino bar, order some drinks, and settle in.
It's become pretty routine that we're going to catch up on things, have some deep conversation, and just enjoy each other's company for a few hours. And, no matter how long it's been since we last got together, the connections flood back and you realize the special bonds that people share.
When I got my review copy of Brent Hartinger's The Elephant of Surprise, I was a bit apprehensive. How long ago did I read the last book? How did it end? And, since this is the fourth book in the Geography Club series that began a decade ago, how did we get here?
I didn't need to worry. First of all, Hartinger does a quick summary at the beginning of the book. But as you start reading the names, and how the characters interact, it all starts coming back to you. Maybe not every plot point of all three books, but the bonds between the characters, the little quirky details, and the comfort of being on a journey with these friends again.
Another new social media experience I had tonight is seeing a friend tagged in a lot of photos and such on my Facebook ticker, and when I finally clicking through to see what kind of trouble he was out getting himself into, I learned that all of the tags were, sadly, eulogies...
I knew William Brandon Lacy Campos from around when I first started Oasis in 1995, and he would submit columns every month in his early activist days in the mid-to-late 90s. We never became great friends then, but I always stayed aware of what he was up to.
When we were both in the Bay Area and later NYC, we made a lot of casual plans that fell through, as you do, finally seeing The Kinsey Sicks at the Highline a few months back. But with Facebook, we thrived. Every day, we traded torrents of bitchy over-the-top remarks. I'd say something culturally insensitive. He'd threaten to slap be back to slavery. I'd ask if I could pick what kind of plantation I wanted to own, and on and on.
The subtext was always playful, though, and I enjoyed being connected with him as often as we were through our conversations. I mean, why spend time making fun of people you don't care about?! So, our physical interactions were incredibly low, but after more than two decades of being aware of someone, there remains that connection.
By Jeff Walsh
Anthony Lee Medina first caught my attention when he nearly fell on me during the Spring Awakening tour in San Francisco. I was seated onstage, and he took an impressive spill during 'Bitch of Living,' that only seemed to energize him more for the song.
I'm never quite sure what it is about seeing certain performers in a show, and you follow them after that show, but I've always kept up with Anthony (Facebook helps there).
Of course, since that time in 2008, I spent much of the time erroneously thinking Anthony was straight and not Oasis material, a notion that was quickly dispelled upon seeing his solo show, Anthony Lee Medina - About Me, after moving to NYC.
Now, Anthony is starting a new part of his career, as he raises the money to put out his first collection of songs, The Ladybug Articles, later this year. Most of the songs are inspired by his ongoing tumultuous relationship with a guy he is still in love with.
We met during the recent heatwave at Otarian, a vegetarian restaurant he turned me onto in the city, and we talked. A lot. Here's what we had to say:
I think there should be a student discount for vibrators and other sex toys.
In third grade I dissected owl pellets. Despite my usual enthusiasm for science, (I won the state science fair that year experimenting with the feeding habits of Lumbricus Terrestris (known to laymen as "earthworms")), I was deeply troubled- not so much by the pellet itself, after all, I handled the worms without so much as a murmur- but, as I now believe, by the concept of regurgitation. As my schooling progressed I was introduced to a more sophisticated form of pre-digestion: the textbook.
I'm on Oasis! I'm so excited. It finally worked.
So I guess this is where I just start to spill everything - who I am, what I'm all about, where I'm from...
Well, Sat. night I found out that I suck at flirting. I went to this big pompous formal event with tuxedos and evening gowns and everything. I was at a table with this guy I hadn't seen in months. (Let's just call him Andrew). I knew he was gay when I saw him last September, at a friend's party, playing truth or dare in the hottub. Wow.
here is a list of painful memories:
watching my parents shoot up
listening to my parents fight
watching my arents fight
talking to the cops about my parents fight
going to a jail, and seeing my daddy through a glass window, holding back the tears so i could talk to him over the little phone
waiting for hours to see my mom on my birthday, when she promised she would come, but then didn't show
um...here it goes...just a little background:
when i was born my parents were both drug addicts, i was born addicted to heroin and coke. when i was four things at home started to get out of hand, and my grand parents got custody of me. I guess i have always known that im not completly straight...in preeschool i had a "friend"...Chealsea...she and i used to kiss and shit...all the stuff we thought only boys and girls could do. Now dont get me wrong, i have been raise in a very liberal, accepting house...i mean, for god's sake...i live in San Francisco, and my grandma teaches human sexuality at SF state university! we always had gay family friends over, i i was told it was perfectly normal...that it was better than normal, that it was beautiful. However, that is not what our storybooks said, and that is not what the tv said...the media had a major impact on my beliefs and values during the very early years of my life...anyway, chealsea and i would kiss and stuff, but i always, to some extent, thought what we were doing was wrong...but at the same time, i thougt it was normal, that every other four year old was experimenting in this fashion...
Am happy, like the bi-polar mania kind of happy! LOL! I'm pretty sure its not a chemical imbalance induced happy, but I imagine this is what it would feel like to be on the manic end of the bi-polar episode.
Anyway, I painted tonight. It was fantastic. When I stop and then go back, I always wonder why I don't just do it all the time. Oh wait, starving artist is not my style.
Okay people. I really need to know how "we" turn out as homosexuals. Is it the chromosomes (x and y genes)? Or do circumstances or incidents shape us into becoming queer? I mean I've always liked girls and I think along the way I got used to liking boys, because it was the "normal" thing to do.
On a totally different note....how can you really tell if a person is queer, without snooping for hints. Do we all have underlying qualities of homosexuality, which are just waiting to be triggered? Or are those "straight" people, just NOT attracted to the sexy girls and hot guys?!?