#MyFirstGayBar: I’m a jerk at the Gold 9, Studio City, CA

My first visit to a gay bar was to the now-defunct Gold 9 in Studio City, CA, and it was as awash in closeted homophobia as you can get. You see, this took place a full ten years before I came out. To this day, I worry I was a jerk.

Several of us from my film program at the University of Michigan had moved out to LA late in 1990 to pursue our dreams. We all settled within a few miles of each other in the Valley or in Hollywood proper. To make LA seem a little more like home, one Saturday afternoon we set out to “interview” bars, to see which ones offered the proper mix of drink prices and amenities like pool and darts.

It was going along all very heteronormatively as the six of us walked into Gold 9 on that slow Saturday afternoon. It seemed like a nice dive, nothing out of the ordinary. Two gentlemen were shooting pool so my friend Mark wrote his name on the chalkboard. Beers were obtained. We chatted among ourselves, completely unaware of our surrounding; it wasn’t as though the Gold 9 was awash in rainbow splendor. Continue reading


Dear earthquakes… it’s over. Bye.

May 3, 1974: Actors dodging rubble during filming of motion picture

(LA Times)

Certain aspects of your personality don’t mesh with certain aspects of my personality. I’m afraid I’m choosing to die in another form of natural disaster.
It's all a matter of where you stand.

It’s all a matter of where you stand.

A couple of days ago my Facebook feed was filled with several posts about an article in the New Yorker about a massive earthquake that’s due to strike the Pacific Northwest. The author says that it won’t be the Big One; it will be THE VERY BIG ONE.

Normally, I’d jump all over phrasing like that. Not today. Not for you, earthquakes.

The author goes to great, well-written lengths to explain the mechanisms behind such a Very Big One and how it will turn everything west of Interstate 5 into the infrastructural equivalent of a rotting cantaloupe filled with dead bodies instead of seeds.

But I didn’t need an education. I was already quite aware of the phrase “Cascadian Subduction Zone.”

And “liquefaction.”

And “ghost forest.”

And “inundation zone.”

I have been fascinated with disasters since I was a child –so much so that our neighbors gave me a coffee-table book called The World’s Greatest Disasters when I nine. I read and reread the book so many times that the book’s British origins helped fuel a lifelong Anglophilia in me. After all, what kid can resist reading that the debris following the Christmas Cyclone of 1974 in Darwin, Australia was “scattered higgledypiggledy?”

When my mom dabbled in Community College when I was eleven or twelve, she would take me to the library when she studied. I was expected to amuse myself with the various AV materials available, and I found myself repeatedly watching one called San Francisco: The City That Waits to Die. In it, men in white lab coats placed a small toy house with a flag attached to it on a mass of wet sand, and then they shook the shake table. Every time I re-watched the film, the tiny house plunged downward until only the top of the flag could be seen. Our house at the time was on sandy soil and in imminent danger of liquefaction despite its location in Virginia Beach.

And to this day, if I wake up in a weird position on the bed, covered with pillows, I just lie there still, pretending what it’s like being covered in debris. Continue reading