I’ve started to post some of my old favorite articles From the SF Bay Times on this blog because i liked them and wanted people to see more samples of my writing. Heres one from january 2006
Living with and surviving the age-old gay male fascination with Rough Trade has been a hot and current topic around my house for the past few months, or rather pretty much since I moved into this neighborhood known as the Tender Nob. This expanse of several blocks seems to facilitate my coming into contact with young men of a certain ilk who invariably show signs of some form of human goodness or decency at first, or at least exhibit some inexplicable classic beauty, the likes of which many a writer or artist in history has obsessed on (Genet’s tattooed criminal prisoners, Gustav’s obsession with the youthful perfection of Tadzio in A Death in Venice, Andy Warhol’s constant use in films of hustler icon Joe Dallesjandro) but ultimately they have qualities of a forbidden or dangerous side, the allure of criminal activity, the scandal of their tender age, the romanticized rebellion and savage street savvy, the thug/angel juxtaposition that so many fall for. One can get very caught up in the exhilaration of enjoying the company of an exotic individual from another walk of life completely, but it seems that in the case of Rough Trade, enjoyment soon will turn to regret as the true colors of Trade are revealed. Who knew that sociopath was on the color wheel and what a hideous shade it is? Should you have anticipated the inevitable fact that your new friend is a reprobate, a person with out the slightest hint of morals, gratitude, honesty or humility? They would take your last cigarette or your laptop and think nothing of it and eventually return and ask for or just take more. The big question that arises repeatedly through the shocking acts of blatant heartless thievery or the complete disregard for many of the things I value, processes I hold sacred, and the tools and time implicit to the work I do, is “Why on earth do you let this unrefined unrepentant low-life hustler trash into your home and into your life again and again, giving him carte blanche to chisel away at your comfort zone little by little with his inability to distinguish right from wrong, good from evil or the meaning of the word no?” Good fucking question.
Why do I continue being oddly involved in a blatantly parasitic model of interaction with absolutely no hope of sharing a common ground or mutual respect or trust… I’m far too busy hiding my few valuables, my cash, a checkbook, my i-pod that replaced the one he stole, and the swelling urge to bludgeon his head with a blunt object or tie him up and call the other two guys I’ve met who he has worked over in the same way and collectively help him to remember some or all of our more intimate moments or some of the angrier ones. There were so many indications that I was treading in a dangerous territory. Why didn’t I put some immediate distance on the situation and individual? It’s not like I haven’t witnessed Rough Trade in its natural habitat real close up before. Anyone who doesn’t understand why paying my bill to keep power on in my apartment takes precedence over scoring a 10-dollar rock of crack cocaine is likely just wrong–no one I should know. I can’t think of a more obvious red flag, yet I ignored or accepted this like many more to follow. Why did I ignore these things? I’m really not sure. Maybe I was continually overwhelmed by the aesthetics of the situation. This particular guy had captivated me on sight as I approached the front door of my building one night and he asked me if I had a light. I knew I didn’t so I said, “no, sorry but I do have one inside.” He said great and followed me in. He was dressed head to toe in pure gangsta streetwear, oversized layers of tracksuits clinging low on his hips, lean frame, broad shoulders, baseball cap on backwards, one leg of the sweats pulled up, big white clean Reeboks and very large hands, one of which landed on the mouse of my computer which he promptly began to play solitaire on. I should have set boundary number one right there and insisted that no one but me ever touches my computer but I didn’t, and many people just disregard that rule anyway. Small talk commenced, a joint was smoked and he almost immediately mentioned his girlfriend then added that she knew nothing of his fooling around with guys. I didn’t even have to delicately inquire and dance around the straight male psyche like Salome. I didn’t have to even start the transparent corny dialogue ala Seduced Straight Guys. He clearly was charting this course towards pleasures he was no stranger to. I glanced at his long fingers drumming the mouse and commented that his hands were so large and in a bold move that almost said, “You know what they say, big hands….” and he stood up and dropped his sweat pants. There are some words that don’t allow to be spoken. We were off to the races and I was continually surprised by his progressive knowledge of the love that dare not speak its name, flowing at an advanced course level incongruously over various classic-style prison tattoos of goth letters and religious imagery and a couple of pronounced stab wound scars–not your average mod prim gay guy body art for sure. He was the elusive real deal, Rough Trade personified. After we finished he called his girlfriend and spoke to her in Spanish and pulled back the curtain instructing her to go to her window to point out that he was standing in an apartment that was visible from hers. “Please shut the curtain,” I said feeling slightly uncomfortable He asked me if I might be able to download Fifty Cent’s new LP and burn it for him and then asked if I could give him a few dollars. Two more flags of warning I ignored with a smile.
Wondering why this person became such a regular fixture in my life, one that I didn’t put out of my life the moment he started exhibiting the truly bad behaviors and literally transformed himself into a walking living consuming list of demands upon my patience, resources, good nature, money and better judgment, I think the answer lies in a pretty simple concept. I didn’t eradicate and banish this individual from my day to day life, the constant stopping by at all hours to ask for any of his numerous needs that he had long ago decided I owed him unquestioningly, can be found in the basic description of our fateful first meeting. Note the romanticized idyllic description of the subject, his physical aesthetics alone are the most telling reasons and likely the only reason I can find in all the madness that I haven’t chased his ass off with a blunt object. Why I haven’t forbade his regular visits powered by the shocking audacity to steal from me one day and return the next to ask for more and the layers of deceit he weaves in and around his actions as justification—though you know he doesn’t truly need to justify anything to anyone in his drug-addled mind. What sociopath does? It’s a familiar scenario really; countless others have been through it. As Snoop Dogg says, “This type of shit happens every day.”
The justification for my involvement just isn’t enough any longer and has seriously damaging effects on my self-esteem, so it has to end. The other day the light at the end of the tunnel became clear when he came over and was very upset because someone had told his girlfriend that he was involved with me and another guy, and she was pissed and has vowed to confront me about it. I can’t believe she really doesn’t have a clue about her boyfriend. He told me I have to tell her there’s nothing going on. I told him that what has been done can’t be undone, and in my memory he led the way from the very beginning, he did what he wanted and there was nobody else to blame. I also said I didn’t want to talk to his girlfriend about it as I didn’t want to lie, and I didn’t want to expose the truth either. I don’t care either way. I saw the worry in his brow and watched him squirm and realized that there was one thing he actually seemed to care about after all. I told him that he really shouldn’t deceive the people he truly cares about, and that was the most important lesson to be learned here. “In the end, only the truth will set you free,” I said with a sincere smile. I meant it.
This neighborhood is colorful but I think I need to move.