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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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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The Art of James Michael McCracken

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Artist that have an affinity for the male form, and who paint men with abandon, have a special place in my heart.  See more of J. Michael McCracken’s work on his website.

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“Sometimes you have to sew that silver lining in yourself!” J. Michael McCracken.

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“Being an artist is somewhat a miserable experience, but not nearly as miserable as not!”

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May we all strive to be that which we seek in others”

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“For me painting not only calms the best within, but rather he is the artiste.”

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Something Else Men & Women have in Common

FEMALE SEXUALITY

From To Err is Human (Articles on human health and sexuality)

Women also relieve their sexual frustrations by masturbating, just as men do. But in women, the mechanism of masturbation is more complex than in men. While men can achieve their orgasm just by applying a steady and strong pressure on the penis, women require a mental framework along with physical contact to reach their climax. In women, the touch is not the important part of the masturbation; the thought in their mind is. Also, male masturbation is a largely external process; but in women, masturbation is done by stimulating the internal genitals like the vaginal tract.

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As already mentioned, there are various techniques of female masturbation. One of the most popular techniques women use is to arouse the clitoris. Women may begin with caressing their vulva and labia first; but gradually they will work their way to the little pea-sized pink organ known as the clitoris which lies between the folds of the labia. Women respond a lot to a rubbing kind of movement on the clitoris, which is generally done by the women with her first two fingers. The pressure and the rapidity of the strokes differ from women to women.

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Since masturbation in women is an internal process, they can afford to be more adventurous than men. Though a woman produces enough lubricating fluids when fully aroused, some women would still apply lubricants such as KY Jelly or Vaseline. An external object in the vagina leads to an enhanced stimulation in most women. For this reason, women also experiment by inserting several objects shaped like the penis into the vagina. The list includes fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, gourds, bananas, radishes, etc. While putting any foreign objects such as these, it is necessary to lubricate the vagina more than its natural lubrication.

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There are many sexual toys available to help women in masturbate. The most popular one is the dildo, which is a device shaped just like the human penis. This device could be mechanical or it could be battery operated. The idea is to insert the dildo into the vaginal tract to get a similar feeling as during penetrative sex. Advancements in the dildos have provided vibrators to them, due to which the pleasure it provides is greatly enhanced. Women use dildos even to stimulate their anuses. Thus, it can be said that the dildo is a versatile masturbatory device designed for women. Continue reading

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Nude Yoga for Men: Interview with Per Erez

It’s not about being gay or straight or bisexual.  It’s about being a man and a man’s natural desire to be with those like him.  The nudity simply makes the experience more prophetic.  It’s about being a thoughtful man, uninhibited by the shackles imposed by homophobic mores and society’s misguided strictures of shame.  Thanks to Per Erez, male body acceptance is alive and well in Chicago.

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An Interview with Per Erez . . .

From chicagoist.com

Despite their initial reservations, men in Chicago are turning the other cheek and joining all-male nude yoga classes, an exercise the Associated Press calls “a form of sensualized yoga practiced nude.” Per (pronounced “Pear”) Erez, who teaches the classes in his private Rogers Park studio, limits the number of men who attend the sessions in order to “establish clarity of intention” and to provide a more “individualized approach to teaching.” Erez, 43, a well-established yoga instructor who has taught traditional “clothed” yoga for over 20 years (Oprah Winfrey is a former client), believes practicing nude yoga offers men a chance to be less concerned about “how they show up physically on their mat,” and gradually reduces “their own inner critical voice about what the male form should look like in others.”

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Chicagoist: What is the number one question you get asked by beginners?

Per Erez: Oddly enough, it is probably not what most people would think. When I first began teaching these classes, I got much of what I called the “Big E” question from men who were concerned about bodily responses during classes. You will find frank discussions of erections commonly labored over on almost all the nude yoga Web sites across the country—including mine. The most common question I get these days, however, revolves around men who want to join, but who happen to hold positions of authority or esteem in their local communities. On several occasions, rabbis, pastors, teachers, doctors, and even a few politicians have asked what happens if a patient, congregant, student, etc. comes to the same session they plan on attending.

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C: And how do you calm these fears, Per?

PE: I don’t, in particular, have one answer, because I think students concerns about disclosure and revelation of nude yoga practice don’t all come from the same place. Some realize they won’t have to worry about losing their jobs for example, but social ostracism is more the issue. Some prospective students are more concerned with how co-workers or friends might think them unconventional or downright silly for even considering yoga like this.

Ultimately, I encourage members not to share anything more about themselves than their first name (or a name they would like to use) if they are uncomfortable; like all transformations, at some point, one has to be willing to step to the edge of current self-knowledge in order to explore the unknown self on the other side. Practicing this way is about taking that first step with lots of support and safety.

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C: What were your initial concerns related to teaching an all-male nude yoga class?

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Street Painting by Kurt Wenner…WOW

And WOW again . . .

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“Although I employ an arsenal of visual tools to create illusion, the classical language of form is the most vital. Classicism is vastly superior to other forms of realism for the creation of illusion, as it is based on human perception. Every stroke has the purpose of communicating form and space to the viewer. While stylistic references may tie a work to the 1400’s, Renaissance, or Baroque, illusionism brings it into the present by creating an optical and geometrical link to the contemporary surroundings.”

Visit his fascinating website here.

…and be careful, don’t fall in.

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Kurt Wenner has combined traditional street painting techniques along with classical training, illusion, and performance to invent an art form all his own. This has come to be known as anamorphic, illusionistic, or 3D street painting.

Wenner’s development of this technique is featured in the National Geographic documentary Masterpieces in Chalk. Artists using this technique today can trace it back to Wenner’s invention in the early 1980’s. His three-dimensional images have inspired festivals and public events throughout the world, as well as others to continue the practice of bringing images of icons and popular culture to an ever changing public. While the art form continues to develop one thing has remained unchanged, madonnari and their  paintings continue to vanish after a festival, or with the first rains.

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Franz von Stuck

German Symbolist Painter

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February 24th 1863 – August 30th 1928.

Franz Von Stuck was am influential German Symbolist/Art Nouveau painter, sculptor, engraver, and architect born at Tettenweis near Griesbach in Lower Bavaria, Germany, the son of a miller. He was noted for his treatment of erotic and comic aspects of mythological themes.

The Kiss of the Sphinx

The Kiss of the Sphinx

As a child he quickly became a gifted caricaturist. From 1878 to 1881 he attended the Kunstgewerbeschule in Munich, where he received particular encouragement from Ferdinand Barth (1842–92).

Salome

Salome

Von Stuck attended the Munich School for the Applied Arts after secondary school, transferring in 1881 to the “Königliche Akademie der bildenden Künste” (Royal Academy for the Fine Arts). The drawings he did for the portfolio ‘Allegorien und Embleme’ (‘Allegories and Emblems’), published by Gerlach and Schenk in Vienna, made his reputation as an outstanding draughtsman as early as 1882.

Fighting for a Woman

Fighting for a Woman

Awarded the gold medal for the painting “Die Wächter des Paradieses” (“The Guardians of Paradise) at the Annual Exhibition at the Munich Glass Palace in 1889, Von Stuck devoted himself entirely to painting, becoming a portraitist who was much in demand. His sitters’ regal poses elevate them above the mundane, making them sublime and timeless. In addition to some early landscapes and numerous portraits, the painter’s oeuvre is notable primarily for mythological and symbolic themes.

Dying Amazon

Dying Amazon

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Susanna Bathing

Susanna Bathing

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