Jul 12, 2014

Top 10 Public Penises of Switzerland

When I visited Switzerland after my junior year for the Nazarene International Institute, I didn't have a chance to do much sightseeing.  But there is a surprising amount of beefcake art.  Here are the top 10 public penises:

1. Beginning in Zurich, where most international flights land, this statue of a kneeling flutist by Peter Hartmann.

2. It's not exactly Michelangelo's David, but this David by Ivar Johnsson outside the Opera House has its points of interest.  Like Goliath's head at his feet.

3. What other city memorializes a homoerotic encounter, like this Ganymede about to be abducted by Zeus in the form of an eagle? He looks like the bird is about to become a pet rather than a boyfriend.

4. Geneva, the largest French-speaking city and an important center of international politics, features its own David.

5. Lausanne boasts a museum of sports, which is quite boring, except for the nude statues on the grounds, such as this Archer.

More after the break

I Spent a Month in Cleveland One Night

I just had the world's worst night in Cleveland.

1. We were delayed, so we arrived during rush hour.

2. At the Thai restaurant, they brought my partner's food but not mine.  Some investigation revealed that the server put my food on another table and forgot about it.

3. The club was completely deserted, on a Friday night.

4. The Flexx Spa was completely deserted, on a Friday night.

5. Except for a weird guy walking around asking people to pull his....hard!  HARDER!  HARDER!!!

6. They wouldn't let me leave.  They kept stalling and putzing around, waiting on other people first, stalling some more, until I yelled "Let me out of here!!!"

7. The only way to the highway was past railroad tracks, where a 1,000 car train was going by slowly. All of those movies you've seen where a car races a train?  Bosh!  You could easily outrace it on foot.

8.  The hotel LITERALLY changed location.  It was on a different highway from when we left.  We drove 10 miles out of the way before thinking "This isn't right" and plugging in the GPS.

It took 10 minutes to get from the hotel to downtown Cleveland, and 45 minutes to get back.

9. Let's not even talk about the hotel room....

10. No, I didn't see either of these two guys.  Not even close.

See also: a Beefcake Tour of Cleveland. 

Jul 10, 2014

Freedom to Marry at Washington Junior High in 1974

When I was in eighth grade at Washington Junior High, I was forced into a class called Civics, where the teacher, Mrs. Dunn, devoted most class sessions to jingoistic rants: "This is the only country in the world where people are Free! Our ancestors came here in search of Freedom!  We fight wars all over the world to protect our Freedom!"

I didn't realize that, in 1974, I was a criminal in 36 states, but I was well aware of the mind control chants of the tripods: "What girl do you like?  What girl?  What girl?"  And I knew that I was anything but free.  Soon I would be forced to date girls, and eventually I would have marry and live with a woman for the rest of my life.

So one day I went up to her desk after class and asked,  "What are we free to do, exactly?"

Mrs. Dunn glared at me as if I had disputed an elemental fact of life, such as George Washington being the greatest man in history.  "Why...you're free to do whatever you like.  You can live where you want, dress the way you want, take any job you want.  Not like other countries, where you're told what to do."

Was that true?  In England, France, Sweden, and every other country of the world, were people really herded into gigantic warehouses and forced to wear gray jumpsuits and work in salt mines?

"And you're free to change the government.  In other countries, you're stuck with a king, who can chop your head off anytime he feels like it."

In retrospect, Mrs. Dunn didn't seem to know a lot about the political systems of the world.  But this was during the Cold War, when it was hard not to imagine a simple division of the United States and its allies, good, kind, decent, and noble, vs. Russia and its allies, evil, bestial totalitarian dictatorships.

"What about getting married?" I asked.

"Sure, sure, you're free to marry the girl of your choice.  In other countries, a gigantic Marriage Bureau assigns you somebody that you haven't even met, and you have to marry her whether you like her or not."

"What if I don't want to get married?  Am I free not to?"  I felt my face begin to burn.  I had said too much.

Mrs. Dunn stared, mouth agape, for a long moment.  "Why wouldn't you want to get married, Boomer?" she asked softly.  "Is there a problem at home?"

"I just don't want to!" I exclaimed, in a loud, forceful voice, even though I felt like crying.

"But why not?"

I couldn't say "I like boys, not girls"  That may have worked before, in elementary school -- the adults would just nod and say  "You'll still a kid, but you'll grow up and discover girls soon, very soon!"

It wouldn't work in eighth grade.  I was obviously "growing up," pubescent, therefore obviously "wild about girls," like every other boy who had ever lived.

So I said "There's...uh...no girl I want to marry."

"Oh, is that all?"  Mrs. Dunn smiled knowingly.  "You'll meet someone.  It happens to all of us, eventually."

"But what if I don't?  What if I want to live by myself, or live with another boy, like Dan. Am I free to do that?"

"Well..sometimes men live by themselves, or have roommates to share the expenses. But if you want a good job or a nice house, you have to have a wife.  Besides..."  she patted me on the shoulder.  "The longer you go without a girlfriend, the more people will try to find someone for you.  You can't hold out forever!"

"L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers," I said, shaking my head sadly as I walked away. "Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains."

Actually, I didn't say that.  Not many eighth graders can quote from Jean-Jacques Rousseau's The Social Contract, in the original French.   But it's how I felt.

See also: Why there's a picture of me and a girl in my parents' bedroom.

Jul 8, 2014

The Andy Warhol Museums: Erasing the Gay

You probably know that Andy Warhol, the gay-yet-homophobic pop artist, was the son of immigrants from Miková, a small town in Slovakia, near the Polish and Ukrainian borders.
You probably don't know that the nearby town of Medzilaborce features the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art, established in 1991 to celebrate Andy's Slovak heritage.

It was a tough sell to the locals, who worried that the museum would glorify the "homosexual aspects of the drug parties." So it tried to make him a good Slovak communist (later, a good Slovak Catholic).  There are paintings of butterflies, flowers, and a Russian hammer and sickle.  His gayness is not mentioned.

To emphasize his loving (and presumably heterosexual) family connections, there are also works by his mother (a drawing of the Annunciation of our Lord), his brother Paul Warhol and nephew James Warhola.

But no beefcake.  Not even this cover that James drew for Robert Heinlein's sci-fi novel Stranger in a Strange Land.

Still, locals stay away, and parents won't even allow their children to attend the art classes held on the site, for fear that the gayness will rub off on them.

There's another Andy Warhol museum in his native Pittsburgh, considerably larger, with 17 galleries and 900 paintings.  Is it any better at acknowledging Warhol's gayness?

They do a little better.

True, you can walk through the entire permanent exhibits of giant Campbell's Soup cans and silkscreens of Marilyn Monroe without ever suspecting.

And the biography page on the website discusses his college career, his Catholicism, the Factory, his celebrity interviews, his visits to Studio 54, but not his gayness.

But the gay-themed work is available for those willing to dig, like the short film, Tarzan and Jane Regained, Sort Of (1963), starring Davis Hopper and Taylor Mead (top photo).

And some of the special events are gay-inclusive. In 2012 there was a book signing and reception for Lance Out Loud, a biography of the gay icon by his mother, Pat Loud.

So, like the "outsiders" of Howard Becker's classic sociological study, it's invisible to most people, but you can find it if you're "in the know."

See also: Andy Warhol; Lance Loud