A Jovial Creative Polymath
The Jovial Creative Polymath
A short explanation of my life:
And I walked through the valley of the shadow of death from 1981 to today – because I am a gay man with HIV/AIDS – and I did watch 100 men I knew die – and thousands of others. And I did experience what I term the evil of heterosexuals – and the miraculous changes of late – since the dark days of the 1970s and 1980s. For nigh on 40 years with every cold, every sore, every sniffle I thought, well, this is it. And it was not. It is this miracle of life shrouded with so much death that I wished to speak to a male counselor about. It is my emotions – not my mental state. I have manageable emotions of extraordinary depths from extraordinary times – not some mental condition impeding my life. Everyone in the system simply ignored me – and labeled me a horror story.
I wanted to speak to someone about Neil Murphy, who died in 1986, and how I hugged him for 20 minutes in the middle of the Ninth Circle when he was gray and emaciated, skeletal even, and no one would talk to him. And people said “How could you touch him, you might get it.” And I replied, “How could you not? You might get it.” I include here his memorial notice. Or bathing the sores of Rick Jones while trying to get his family to come take him home to die, and they were hesitant, for they had chased him away to begin with. Or John Campbell I hugged one last time before he flew off to Seattle from NYC to die under his sister’s care. Or Timmy Dessel who I wrote to in 1995 and when I got the letter from his mother I knew before even opening it – he died – and I cried. And so many more, Robert Route, Patrick Haggerty, Rita Mae, Brady, Robert, Paul Gross, Eric Brudner, Steve Penn – and more – guy after guy died week after week for a decade – and I was there, wondering when it would be my turn. I wanted to talk about Tommy Ace, the love of my life, who I lived with in 1979 and 1980 – and who came down with “it” – and lived. I speak with him on his birthday every year – and we just wonder what could have been if society had welcomed gay couples in those years – and the fact that we are both still alive – and he is still the love of my life, but well, there’s nothing to be done about it. That’s what I wished to speak about – my emotions about those times – and the fact that I am here to tell about them. The system told me no – this was not my problem – as they went on a labeling spree of mental problems that is astonishing – while sending me to woman after woman to sign more forms.
And the system sent women to my house to be my “peer counselor” and no woman can be my peer – nor counsel me – nor will I ever speak to a woman about my emotions – never.
Meanwhile, I had this extraordinary life – and it continues to this day. My creative intellectual output has not ceased or diminished one bit – and it is all happy, bright, joyful, humorous, pleasant. Everyone who sees it or hears it or reads it gets a smile and a good feeling. I am an upbeat, jovial, joke telling, story weaving, bon mot making, bon vivant happy fellow who goes through life saying hello to everyone and wanting to find out, as I say, “all about your exciting adventures.” I make people laugh everywhere. I have a good word for everyone. I have a commanding personality and can take over a room of 100 people in minutes so all might listen to what I say. And for some reason, young straight men 15 to 25 come to me for advice, and they love my music. One tattooed ruffian told me my music was “gangsta” – which was high compliment. I am so charming I am the only person the Phoenix One Voice gay pride center ever gave a birthday party for – with cake and balloons and gifts and “joy, mirth and merriment,” which is a phrase that peppers my writing.
Since 1999 I have sought out pianos to play – and I bring joy to people. I am the official lobby pianist at St. Joseph’s Hospital here in Phoenix – I play for 4 to 5 hours a day to the delight of hundreds of people. They come and tell me I brightened their stressful time visiting the hospital. I doubt one of the people in the system has heard a note I play, certainly they all refused to look at my Youtube channel. They seem to imply I am delusional about it. I told one woman I go into this charming trance as I create my music – and she dutifully noted for the record that “he has trances” – and anyone who reads that in light of these labels on the records is going to get some very wrong idea about it.
I am a polymath: “a person of great learning in several fields of study” per dictionary.com – their example is: “Athanasius Kircher, the eccentric seventeenth-century Jesuit polymath, collector of curiosities, and borderline crank.” – and I guess that’s me. I’m eccentric, and cranky on one subject at least – gay men – and I just know stuff and can do stuff and have done stuff that just amazes people. My memory is just as fine as it has ever been – and it is encyclopedic. From aardvark to zygote there are very few subjects I could not write a 1000 word essay on within an hour at a moment’s notice – or expand it way beyond that – off the top of my head. They tested my memory with three words – “door, chair, tree” – this is supposedly the test of my memory and cognitive skills they gave me – that is an abomination. The list of projects I did from 1985 until today at just a line or two of description would fill 40 or 50 pages. I did not have a job – I had a life. I did not have a career in an industry – I did a wide range of projects that would surprise anyone.
And I do it all with aplomb and a smile and a ‘let’s get it done’ attitude. I get things done. I do not dawdle. Today, just as 45 years ago with my first job as a newspaper boy – I look at a project – conceive the method – and then I do it quickly – and effortlessly too. The quickness with which I do things has always amazed those who witnessed it. And I created things from nothing – music directories, trade shows, logos, businesses, radio shows and websites and more, endlessly more. When I was 14 or so I took on a paper route and they gave me a map of it and I took their two hour tour and cut it down to 40 minutes or so – and took on two more routes – and they came and observed, and marveled. In 1995 a trade show that might take 20 people 2 years to put together, I did in 6 months with me guiding two salesman. In 2015 I published 12 books in rapid succession. And I create endlessly gorgeous complex classical music up off the top of my head for hours and hours – a vast variety of luscious music – and I never had a piano lesson in my life
On gay men I am vociferous. I believe gay guys are great by God’s good grace. I believe we are natural – and are in fact, required for the species to survive. We are not broken, a mistake, a dead end or some strange inexplicable thing – nor an unholy terror as so many heterosexuals still state. There are 106 boys for every 100 girls, by nature, in every human group no matter where in the world. There are 6 gay boys for every 100 straight boys. That’s our ratio in the population – all over the world. And there’s those 6 extra boys staring everyone in the face – and heterosexuals go into gyrations into trying to explain it any other way – and always label us the problem. The obnoxiousness towards gay men all over the world is legendary and extensive – and it does indeed make me angry – and I have never been shy about telling heterosexuals to go to hell.
In 1978 I wrote President Jimmy Carter – and I received a reply from Midge Costanza, assistant to the president. In 1978 I wrote to the governor of Washington State – and received a response from her. I doubt there were many 20 year old gay men getting letters from governors and the White House about homosexuals in 1978. I include the letters here.
On April 10th 2013 – the day after a young woman claimed I agreed that I was “severely mentally ill” – I was published on a major Right Wing, Tea Party, Christian, Conservative website called “American Thinker” extolling the glory of gay guys. I include here a copy of that article – and the defense of me that very day by a noted anti-gay commentator. I published a second article there – and other articles on other right wing sites – at the same time COPE is claiming I was “severely mentally ill” and “can’t function” and “can’t concentrate” and is “bipolar” and on with their nonsense.
And in the decades in between I have had the “the gay discussion” with 1000s of heterosexuals. My message has been clear: if your god did not create gay men, get a better god. I have never relented in my strongly held religious belief, which Mr. Abeytia at Southwest believed and noted was nonexistent. – and there is nothing in any “religious freedom” law that says “homosexuals can’t have strongly held religious beliefs” – and I have them – in spades. Thousands of comments by me from the internet could be produced to support my claim. I have noted often that gay men are a test of the simple admonition of Jesus: “Love others as you love yourself. Treat others as you wish to be treated.” And heterosexuals have been miserable in this regard when it comes to gay men. We are certainly among the most vilified people on earth, even to this day, despite the patina of niceness which currently prevails in Western lands. Nor do I subscribe to any theory that this is “discrimination” in need of a law – this is abject willful ignorance – and a sadistic refusal to deal with the reality of gay men while fabricating endless nonsense about us – in need of some serious attitude changes among heterosexuals.
As early as 1993 I wrote up a book I have long titled “The Pink Sheep of the Ninth Circle.” It was rejected countless times by publishers. From time to time I laid it aside. From time to time I would update it and try again. Again it was rejected. And when I got to Tucson I decided to self-publish it. So I updated it again, almost rewriting the thing entirely – and in August of 2013 I finally published it to Amazon Kindle. The title is “The Pink Sheep of the Ninth Circle: Homosexuality, Homosexuals, Sissies, Queers. Faggots, and Gay Men.” It is my iconoclastic view of the way heterosexuals look at gay men – and the way we really are. I post links to it often, or send PDFs of it to people who wish. I told a woman at COPE I was “iconoclastic” and she had no idea what the word meant. So I said “thinks differently” – and she dutifully noted this for the record. The phrase has such portent given the plethora of labels now attached to my good name.
I have wanderlust, or had. From 1985 to today I spent on average only 6 months in a city before going to the next one. A few nights, a week, a month, 3 months – 6 months – 8 months – then on to the next city – and then returning to some cities, or moving on to new ones. Sometimes to the homes of friends and family – and often to some city where I knew no one and had no reservations and just showed up. I arrive, and I get to work. In each city I obtained reasonable lodging within hours – and started a spectacular project within days, and sometimes hours – in November 2002 I first set foot in Phoenix at 4 AM on a Greyhound bus, and by 6 AM I was playing piano at the Hyatt hotel downtown. The restaurant there gave me breakfast and said “Come back every day.” The longest I spent anywhere in 35 or so years was 2004 to 2006, when for 18 months in Baton Rouge, I completed and published my book “A Hidden Impact: the Czechs and Slovaks of Louisiana from the 1720s to today” – and rescued some 30 Czech citizens out of the maw of Katrina, and was the temporary honorary consul of the Czech and Slovak Republics to Louisiana.
From late 2009 until August 2011 I again lived in Baton Rouge, this time taking care of Duchein Cazedessus, a World War II veteran that was a friend of mine for 20 years. He turned 87 and could no longer drive, so I moved in with him and did all the driving, cooking and gardening. Other than that – incessant travel. So when I showed up in Tucson, or Phoenix, I was not some lost soul trying to get my life on track as these people apparently imagined – I was a seasoned traveler going to yet another city like I had done countless times before. I showed up with a day’s notice to the Roadrunner Hostel in Tucson where I had stayed before, where I know the owner – and in 5 days I had an apartment, a library card and a bus map – and tried to set up medical care, which the system there bollixed beyond all belief. In January 2014 I arranged with Mary Stephens, owner of the Phoenix Hostel, a week there – and within 5 days had an apartment. I just do it, I do not fret, I don’t worry, I don’t dawdle – I move along at a steady pace and get it done. And I have never failed at doing it.
In this wandering around among the first things I did in any city was to head to a gay bar – within hours of my arrival. Not because I needed a drink, no. But because a gay bar is an instant social network. It’s a place of information on health care, possible jobs, housing, projects, pianos, friends, guides to the city, and more. Any gay man can walk into any gay bar in the world – and be instantly accepted and if need be, assisted. It’s a social service center – without a form or bureaucrat in sight. Things get done, and they get done quickly. It’s also a place of refuge from the many heterosexuals all around us – in fact, it’s the only place where we are the majority. And I have long joked that straight bars are where people go to forget about their troubles – and gay bars are where we go to solve them. It also so happens that 9 times in my life police came into bars where I was and harassed us and called us garbage and worse – and I deeply resented in then – and it bothers me still.
I say I had wanderlust – because I really do want to settle down. My energy is sapped. I am physically weak – my mind is fine – my body no longer wants to go all day. I need frequents rests – and I still get more things done faster than any bureaucrat on the move. I now have this fantastic apartment in the perfect location – and I plan on living out my days as Providence decrees in this place. What these people put on my record threatens and imperils my plan. Their accusations of drug and alcohol abuse and mental instability might imperil my lease – who knows what anyone would think if they read any of this that the system wrote about me?
Though, because of my travels, and because I have this charming positive effect on people, I have friends all over the world. Just one example: in 2009 in the hostel in Reims, France, I met a man from Spain named Rafael. We talked for about 3 hours, only in Spanish – he speaks no English. We connected, because instant friends – and now I’m not only still friends with him on facebook, with a standing invitation to visit his home and family in Palma, Balearic Islands, Spain – he wrote a brief note of support for me.
I have never been in trouble with the law. I have never been suspected, investigated, implicated, and certainly not arrested or convicted of any crime ever. The only negative dealings I ever had with the police where the Nine Bar Raids I experienced in gay bars between 1977 and 1993 – when cops would come in, turn off the music, turn on the lights, and line us up to berate us with their night sticks waving in our faces – for the “crime” of sissy smooching, as I call it repeatedly on the internet. I have never even gotten a speeding ticket, nor suspected of a DUI. The only time cops pulled me over was twice with Louisiana license plates in New Jersey and New York – just to see if I had guns – and in Louisiana for my rainbow sticker on my bumper – and because twice I had a black man in my car – and they were wondering if all was right. He was the oboe player with the symphony, all was fine.
I have never been involved in any civil litigation – I have never sued anyone nor been sued. The only court case I was ever in was a 5 year long New York City Housing Court landlord-tenant dispute between 1981 and 1985. Acting as “pro se” and writing our briefs – I won 5 years of rent abatement and a $6,000 penalty for damages for me and 14 other tenants (not all of whom lasted the entire 5 years, having gone on with their lives before the conclusion.)
I have only been involved in 3 physical fights in my life. Twice in 9th Grade – when I had to beat up Michael Henderson and Allan Rolli who thought they were going to take up the cudgel against gay men in 1973 – and call me names and push me in school. So on Henderson’s front lawn, 3 or 4 houses from mine, I just pounded him into the ground in a rage and fury – and his father came running and my father came running and as they pulled me off screaming “Don’t call me queer again” and Henderson crying – his father started to take up the cudgel and mine said “Don’t call my son queer” – and that was that. Rolli I punched just outside of the principals office, and he came running, for he saw it out his windows – and I said the same thing “Do Not Call Me Queer Again” and everyone marveled. For a sissy to pound the bullies is not expected. As I joked – I became the “bashing fag” instead of “fag bashed.”
The third time was in the early 1980s – two young heterosexual men thought they’d come into the 9th Circle and beat us up. They came in wearing coats, under which they had baseball bats – and they took them out and started swinging and the gay men went running. I did not – I was right there – and I rushed them, while calling for aid – and I started beating one up – and I dragged him out the door – threw him down the steps and then kicked him into the gutter. The police were not called. The incident was well handled – and I received many a drink in thanks for my bravery.
I am a polyglot – I speak – besides English of course, and about which I have been published – Spanish and Czech. I am not fluent in these two, but I certainly can hold hours long conversations in them, and I can go through the day speaking only them. I have written a booklet in Spanish about how to think about learning English, it is very popular among my friends in Mazatlan, Mexico. I have written a 3 page essay for Czech friends and acquaintances on “the” and “a/an” because Czech does not have these words. I have studied linguistics – languages – words – Latin – alphabets – writing systems – the entirety of human communications I have studied. I can get along in French, Portuguese, Italian and less so, German. I can loosely read Dutch and Romanian. As I joke, I know 30 words in 30 languages.
I am an artist – incessantly painting – for decades. I have left behind a trail of paintings – many of which I don’t even have pictures of. But at least 600 paintings by me exist. Since I got to Tucson, and then Phoenix, I have painted some 150 works. I have 57 works on my walls. All of it is bright, cheery, effervescent, ebullient, golden, silvery, brilliantly colored – everyone notes the color – except for one skunk of man – he did not notice my art at all. I think he is the only person who ever came to my house who did not mention my art. What a bizarre little man claiming to have a right to manage and oversee my life. Even the police who came to get me at his behalf noticed the art and commented on it. Alone among all humanity – this miserable man demanding to run my life while being wrong about everything didn’t notice.
This is the short version – what I could show a court about what I did in my life – and since I arrived to settle down in Arizona would simply astonish the court – and take weeks to show. The court might remember the classic holiday film “A Miracle on 34th Street.” There’s a scene in the movie when Kris Kringle’s lawyer is trying to prove that he is not insane and is really Santa Claus. The lawyer presents 3 pieces of mail to the judge, and the prosecutor says “Come now, that’s all you have?” and the judge insists on more proof. So Kringle’s lawyer has a parade of mailmen trudge in bag after bag of letters. Well, if I might joke – what I can show about my life, both before Arizona and here now – would simply be like those bags of mail dumped on the judge’s desk. That judge did rule Mr. Kringle sane, and who he said he was, by the way.
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