A Song in the Park

Here’s a recent email I received from a reader in Toronto:

Hello Martin,

Just wanted to drop a note to let you know that I enjoyed your novel tremendously over the last couple of days. The novel was like a rollercoaster – an emotional rollercoaster – at times I had to laugh, at times cried. Really got into the book and the characters. Would love to have gone on and on reading more.  A sequel would be nice, don’t you agree?

Thanks again for many hours of great entertainment. I won’t forget this book.

Signed J–

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Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 20. The setting: Justin’s small stone ranch house on a remote desert ranch. Everyone is sitting around the breakfast table, talking about his primitive outdoor shower.

A few minutes later all five were melting butter on their pancakes.

“I was just thinking,” Shannon said, glancing at the others with a slight hint of apprehension, “… maybe we could put a screen of some kind around the shower.”

Justin looked at her with a grin.

“That’d take all the fun out it,” Michael said, stuffing in another bite.

“Just something temporary,” Shannon added.  She woke up that morning feeling gritty, thinking about the unlikely notion of two weeks without a shower.

Michael glanced at Brian. “What do you think, Brian.  Think we need a screen, or do you plan to tough out the next two weeks without a shower?”

Brian looked around at the faces smiling back at him, discomfited.  He lifted his elbow to sniff his armpit.

Jody looked at Michael with suspicion.  “You’re goading him just to get him naked.”

“I doubt that,” Brian said, swallowing a mouthful of pancakes.  “Just be a disappointment.”

“Hardly!” Jody shot back.

Justin joined in.  “You ought to go for it, Brian.  I’d be happy to refill the jug.” Continue reading

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Bisexual Male Masculinity … Are Bisexual Men Masculine?

Bisexual Male Bisexuality

According to Carl Jung, “No man is entirely masculine that he has nothing feminine in him. The fact is that, very masculine men have—carefully guarded and hidden—a very soft emotional life, often incorrectly described as “feminine.” Jung believes that men have a feminine side and women have a masculine side. He coined the term anima to refer to the feminine aspect of the men, and animus to the masculine aspect of the women. Men and women have both masculine and feminine sides.

Bisexual Male Masulinity

Many men who sometimes (or frequently) feel curious about male intimacy   are most often loathe to admit it because of prevalent bi and gay stereotypes.  Some guys can’t even admit it to themselves.  They’re not gay.

From marksimpson.com

Male bisexuality doesn’t exist. Or it’s very, very rare. Or it’s really just gay men in denial. Yeah, it’s official: bi guys are freaks and liars as well as non-existent.

Female bisexuality, on the other hand, is almost universal. It’s as natural and as true as it is wonderful and real and… hot!

Or so you would be forgiven for thinking if you had read the effusive reports in the papers about California State University’s recently published sex-research which claims that women are 27 times more likely to become attracted to their own sex than men.

I haven’t yet been able to study the research quoted, but any sex survey that claims to have interviewed 3,500 people and show that 0.3% of men are attracted to the same sex compared to 8% of women (as quoted in the Independent on Sunday 12/2/06) is difficult to take seriously – except as a measure of social attitudes rather than sexuality.

Bisexual Male Masulinity

Maybe it’s because some of my best shags are bisexual men, but I’m beginning to get a bit teed off with this drive to make male bisexuality disappear, either into statistics smaller than a micro-penis or obscured behind a flurry of girl-on-girl action. A few months ago the New York Times published an article ‘Straight, gay or lying?’ which seemed to be a press release for the hilariously cranky research of Dr J. Michael Bailey at Northwestern University, which apparently involves wiring up people’s genitals and showing them dirty pictures and then claiming to have ‘proved’ that male bisexuality ‘doesn’t exist’ and that most women are bisexual. Which seems a much more tenuous conclusion to reach, rather than, for instance: most psychologists at Northwestern University are very strange indeed. (Amongst other extraordinary omissions, the article neglected to mention that Dr Bailey has more than one ‘previous’ in his area: he thinks transsexuals are also ‘really’ gay men and, in a coup-de-grace of his tidy-minded thinking, advocates eugenics to solve the problem of homosexuality).

I hate to break it to you guys, but most of the evidence, historical, anthropological and sexological, suggests that if anything, male ‘bisexuality’ – it’s a terrible word, almost as bad as ‘heterosexual’ and ‘homosexual’, but it will have to do for now – is much more common than the female variety. After all, entire civilizations such as Ancient (and according to many accounts, Modern) Greece have been based on it. Not to mention public schools, the Royal Navy and Hollywood….

It’s unquestionable that female bisexuality is today much more socially acceptable than male bisexuality, and in fact frequently positively encouraged, both by many voyeuristic men and an equally voyeuristic pop culture and also, perhaps slightly paradoxically, women’s new-found desire to assert themselves sexually. What’s more, female homosex has never been legally or socially stigmatized to anything like the same degree as male homosex. It’s a fond myth that the Victorians exempted female homosex from legal censure because Queen Victoria couldn’t conceive of it (apart from anything else, the young Victoria was a fan of Sappho). Woman-on-woman love action wasn’t legislated against because, unlike male homosex, it simply wasn’t considered of much consequence. It may be difficult for feminists to grasp, but ‘patriarchy’ was always much more concerned about where men’s penises went than women’s tongues.

Bisexual Male Masulinity

Straight women now have something to gain and little to lose by admitting an interest in other women. Rather than exile them to the acrylic mines of Planet Lesbo, it makes them more interesting, more adventurous, more modern… just more. For the most part, however, straight men still have nothing to gain and everything to lose by making a similar admission. It renders them considerably… less. Unlike women, men’s gender is immediately suspect if they express an interest in the same sex. What’s more, any male homosexuality still tends to be seen as an expression of impotence with women. In other words: men’s attraction to men is equivalent to and probably a product of emasculation.

A straight man admitting that he finds masculinity desirable – as so many clearly, thrillingly do – threatens to cost him the very thing he values most: not only his own manhood and his potency, his reputation with the ladies, but his lads-together homosocial intimacy with other men. It’s a nasty, vicious, bitchy trick to play on millions of red-blooded men, but this is what passes for common sense in the modern, anglo-saxon world.

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When a male in public life is outed as bisexual – and, with the exception of controversy-courting David Bowie in the 1970s, who now denies he ever was, they almost never come out willingly – he is immediately represented as ‘gay’. For a man, unlike a woman, there is no such thing as ‘half gay’, it’s tantamount to being half pregnant.

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Kurt Wenner Revisited

You saw Kurt Wenner’s magnificent street art here.  Now have a look at his more traditional work.

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“My interest in Renaissance classicism started with the simple desire to draw well. I was struck by the vast difference between how students and teachers drew in the 20th Century and the way artists drew 500 years ago. It seemed to me that artists of the past had abilities far beyond those of today. My curiosity about this discrepancy took me to Rome in order to seek out and master drawing and painting within the “language” of western classicism. During this time I isolated myself from 20th century art in order to explore the ideals and concepts practiced in earlier centuries. It has since become an ongoing mission to rediscover classical traditions and communicate them to a contemporary audience.”

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The Renaissance

What would it be like to go back in time, to Italy during the time when Michelangelo walked the streets of Florence, spend maybe a week observing and being part of the daily life of that era?  It’s impossible to imagine.  Emerging from the dark ages, they were days on the dawn of a of new enlightenment.  They may not have understood the reasons for the plague or the reasons to bathe more than once or twice a year, but in its rawest terms, they understood life.  And they understood great art.

Renaissance

The Renaissance (French for “rebirth”)was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Florence in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historic era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not uniform across Europe, this is a general use of the term. As a cultural movement, it encompassed a resurgence of learning based on classical sources, the development of linear perspective in painting, and gradual but widespread educational reform. Traditionally, this intellectual transformation has resulted in the Renaissance being viewed as a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern era. Although the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as social and political upheaval, it is perhaps best known for its artistic developments and the contributions of such polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term “Renaissance man”

Burning of Troy by Adam Elsheimer

Burning of Troy by Adam Elsheimer

There is a general, but not unchallenged, consensus that the Renaissance began in Florence, Tuscany in the 14th century. Various theories have been proposed to account for its origins and characteristics, focusing on a variety of factors including the social and civic peculiarities of Florence at the time; its political structure; the patronage of its dominant family, the Medici; and the migration of Greek scholars and texts to Italy following the Fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

Susanna and the Elders By Artemisia Gentileschi

Susanna and the Elders By Artemisia Gentileschi

The Renaissance has a long and complex history, and there has been much debate among historians as to the usefulness of Renaissance as a term and as a historical delineation. Some have called into question whether the Renaissance was a cultural “advance” from the Middle Ages, instead seeing it as a period of pessimism and nostalgia for the classical age,while others have instead focused on the continuity between the two eras. Indeed, some have called for an end to the use of the term, which they see as a product of presentism – the use of history to validate and glorify modern ideals.

Danae by Artemisia Gentileschi

Danae by Artemisia Gentileschi

Whatever the scholarly consensus is today, however intellectually small the world may have been, the great artists  that lived during the Renaissance knew passionate and sensuous art.  Their work is magnificent.

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