Sunday, July 03, 2011

The gayest shorts I've ever seen (wait, I just realized this title doesn't make sense because it's referencing something someone says to me later, thought it was clever but oh well might as well leave it anyway not to confuse you more)

I’m having trouble placing this town in the realm of the cities I’ve known – I mean I know I’ve only been here a few days, but I guess it’s also the way that I didn’t necessarily have any expectations. And usually when I go somewhere, or move there, I already know a lot about it. I guess when I first moved to San Francisco back in 1992 I didn’t know much – I thought it was like New York, on the West Coast, so when I got there I was shocked that there weren’t many tall buildings. But I knew there were queers and that’s why I was there and I found them. Maybe not that fast, were not the right ones right away, but soon.

But anyway now I’m here in Denver – and right, that’s the other thing: usually when I travel I’m on a book tour, I have a specific reason, but here my reason is to get away from the fires. And then explore, I guess, which is what I’m doing – have a taste of a big city before going back to Santa Fe, the quiet, that light, better air. I hope.

When the bus first pulled in I thought Baltimore, HarborPlace without the water—that view of the city in a bowl when you’re coming in, redevelopment and partying suburbanites. Then I thought Pittsburgh, with all the brick and trees, but much bigger. Or Chicago, with all the new condos that seem out of place, more out of place here but also of course not so many as Chicago – dozens, not hundreds. All the new buildings in Portland too, but not as contemporary. And then the 16th Street Mall with throngs of tourists, I didn’t expect so many tourists – I guess it’s my coastal bias, I mean who exactly travels to the cities that seem more random to me. These people, I guess.

Oh – and the free bus on the 16th Street Mall—I do like the free bus, even though it’s packed with tourists. Packed at all times, even though it arrives literally every one or two minutes – that’s how many tourists I mean. I’m on the bus right now, going to the other side of 16th Street that feels more bloated with hotels and big glitzy chain stores and malls, Hard Rock Café and even some huge bar in front of the Sheraton, I mean not in the Sheraton but on their property, a separate building with huge high ceilings and bright pink decorations, something right out of Miami, South Beach is what I’m thinking. And then there’s the other South Beach, that wall of corporate condos in South of Market San Francisco, there’s a little bit of that feeling here to, young professionals out on the town, that suburban urban attitude I love to hate.

But anyway, back to the South Beach Miami bar, everyone sitting outside and dripping with hair products and class driving – there’s a lot of money here, I’m not sure I expected that either. Tons of blonde women, I mean where do all these blondes come from? Of course I realize they bleach and dye their hair, but most of them actually look blonde too, fair-complexioned even if overly tan. Lots of jocks, but a bit softer in their machismo, or maybe that’s just the look right now: straight guys looking like gay guys imitating straight guys. Then there’s the mountaineer look, or almost-indie-but-not-quite facial hair, hippie jocks too, store-bought tie-dye with no hint of glitter in their hair, dude. Women in little dresses that look like something their mothers would wear—short enough to show off, but just not too tight, right? A Midwestern preppiness to almost everything, no I guess it’s Western, right? But no cowboy hats here—the tourists don’t even seem to wear sunglasses, just walk around squinting -- maybe that’s something that sets them apart from the locals.

Okay, here’s the end of the bus – it didn’t take that long, but I have a lot to say. I’m walking over to Colfax, one of the big thoroughfares in town, to investigate Capitol Hill – maybe that’s the gay part of town, I’m not sure. I know the LGBT Center is there, and I do want to get the gay paper, just to see what it is, since I can’t find it on the street anywhere. I’m pretty sure there’s a gay paper, saw one online, a monthly, and it made it sound like there was more than one, something about the best source of gay news in town. No – I’m sure they didn’t use the word news.

Oh, but I almost forgot to tell you: just after I mentioned that at least my headache was better here, well then guess what? I suddenly got this horrible pounding tension headache on the sides of my head, like I could feel the skin and the veins expanding, what the fuck? I figured I better listen to a feldenkrais CD, just to see if it would help, even though I listened to one earlier. This one was for the tongue, or not for the tongue but about the tongue, which I guess means for the tongue too, but wait, let me see how they phrase it? Okay: Relating the Tongue to the Jaw, that’s what I was doing, which felt okay I mean good actually, calming, I’m taking care of myself, and I did notice this bloating in my stomach, not down below like the intestinal bloating exactly, but up above by my chest, figured it would get better through the lesson, right? But oh no – when I got up it was the worst bloating I’ve felt in a while – stomach and intestines, everything in pain, and actually the bloating has been getting better lately. I didn’t want to say anything, because sometimes as soon as I think something is getting better then it gets worse, you know what I’m saying, but anyway it has been getting better overall, I mean I wake up and I look in the mirror and there isn’t much bloating at all usually, and it still does come on in the evening but not so awfully that I hate my body, hate this feeling, hate eating because it leaves me this way, hate drinking water even or whatever it is that triggers it.

So anyway, here’s my body and this pain, my body and this bloating and pain and I decide to go on a walk because maybe that will help or maybe it won’t and I’m rubbing my stomach as I’m walking outside and some guy selling the street sheet-type paper says you look like you ate the whole thing. He’s trying to be friendly I guess but it makes me feel gross although I buy a paper anyway, turn the corner and jump on the free bus and that’s the ride I was just telling you about – jocks, blondes, South Beach, but then I get off and walk towards Colfax, turn the corner towards the Capitol and right there there’s a dramatic change in the streetscape – before everyone was white pretty much except maybe one or two street musicians, now almost everyone is a person of color, hanging out in the street too but in a different way. I walk another block and there’s a used bookstore, unfortunately closed, and then residence hotels and across the street this gorgeous old building that looks like where I would live if I lived here. Although I don’t know if that type of building is exactly where I want to live anymore, certainly not on this polluted street or in this polluted town except really I don’t know where I want to live anymore, that’s what I’m saying. But anyway I’m walking past residence hotels and rundown bars with gorgeous neon signs and lots of people out on the street drinking and selling or looking for drugs, so many people out that I’m kind of stunned, I mean sometimes I come to so-called big cities and there’s no street culture at all, but here it’s like everyone’s out all over.

Suddenly the landscape feels like LA maybe, Hollywood Boulevard and lots of dilapidated ‘50s or ‘60s or ‘70s bars, older buildings though and tons of people – a big theater with a fence around it so people can smoke, tons of people, the wrong side of the suburbs is what it looks like – mostly angry straight guys and a few women wearing dresses that look like swimsuits. I guess it is summer – maybe that’s why there are so many people out, but it’s kind of overwhelming and I can’t tell how much I’m surprised by Denver, and how much is just because I’m in a city for the first time in a while. I guess the last city I went to was Albuquerque, and that had certain things like buses that actually took you somewhere, but mostly it just felt like sprawl, not the urban density that I’m surprised to find here, and yes it does seem like the streets are really loud, not just the sounds echoing from down below like I hear from the 29th floor where I’m staying. Then there’s the air thick with pollution, maybe that’s where I’m getting LA too but no it’s not that bad, I mean it doesn’t surround me and make me feel sick, like I’m walking through sludge, it’s just that the air never feels fresh. There’s the LGBT Center, a modern building and it’s closed, no gay paper for tonight I guess, two goth kids sitting outside. I’m guessing the gay area isn’t quite here – Irish bars, packed, a few hipster places, 24-hour restaurants, fast food parking lots, – this seems like the all-purpose seedy straight night area I guess and I go to Walgreens to look for Fisherman’s Friend throat lozenges but they don’t have them.

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