Thursday, April 29, 2010

rubbernecking

So, you may not be aware, or maybe you are, that an important blog went down last Friday and the wreckage is only now starting to drift ashore. The blog was written, or maybe not, by a young man whose nom de plume was "Mikey" and he presented himself as a gay 17 y/o hockey fanatic high schooler somewhere in the vast wilderness we call Minnesota. I found out about the blog through Towleroad who had picked it up off Outsports.com. Mikey had become something of a cause celebre by that time. His humor, sincerity and distinctive writing style (a sever text message script that became as much a character on his blog as he was) attracted a considerable following of young, closeted athletes struggling with their sexuality in the face of a mostly unforgiving sports world. He was interviewed, given free blog space, sought out and finally became the epicenter of an on-line forum called MikeyNation.com. Then on Friday it all came tumbling down, leaving behind a lot of disillusioned young people and not a little mystery.

Shifting through the detritus the last few days, I'm unable to get a clear picture of what exactly happened. There seem to be 2 theories at the top of the heap. The first is that it all became too much for Mikey and that he was ultimately scared off by an encroaching limelight or an individual who was threatening to out him for no other reason than because he could. The second theory centers around the accusation that Mikey was actually a 40-something who scammed and conned his way into the lives of countless young gay athletes, but to what end no one can say for sure.

I have heard vague accusations that Mikey befriended certain of his followers and offered to trade nude pics with them, but only a few. The photos Mikey sent were apparently lifted from various porn sites; to date I don't know of any boys who sent Mikey anything too revealing, but the shame and humiliation of being conned could well be keeping them from speaking out. I lost interest in the blog early on for whatever reason and stopped reading, but he apparently struck a cord with many of his readers and through him they found a place to voice their fears, desires and frustrations. A noble enterprise, now horribly tainted and, according to his detractors, basely betrayed.

I listened to one of his podcasts (http://www.bendave.com/saywhat/2010/01/episode-29-sherlock-homos.html) and there was no doubt in my mind that I was listening to a 17 or 18 y/o. I suppose he could have been a hired gun. There are accusations that the 40-something utilized software to soften and raise the tremor of his voice to that of a much younger man. And this all seems so very contrived and so immaculately thought out and executed that I find myself incredulous. Still, if it was an elaborate hoax designed to meet and seduce young athletes, it would be damnable if not seemingly unworkable. Once a youngster discovered his true identity, did he really expect them to simply shrug it off and succumb to his carnal suggestions? A serious derangement. But there's no evidence that this was the case, so the question of Why? remains.

There is, of course, the question of why no one took the time to verify that Mikey was for real and I wonder why some effort wasn't made. Perhaps the idealism of the adults in charge was overwhelming. Here was a young man who was a beacon, providing a much needed platform for discussion and hope. But now, of course, the damage is extraordinary. The owners who hosted the blog are being pressed to investigate... well, something. But there doesn't seem much for them to do other than be defensive about their good intentions, with which, the wag tells us, the road to hell is paved. And apparently this time the wags were right.

So, on the one hand, we have a frightened, talented kid, wary of an ever widening spotlight who, perhaps being threatened with exposure and condemnation, lost his nerve and headed back into the dark, slamming and bolting the door securely behind him. All traces of Mikey have either disappeared or are being systematically eradicated.

On the other hand, we have a seemingly brilliant, much disturbed 40 y/o who was able to not only pull the wool over the eyes of the adults who sponsored him, but also the 15, 16 and 17 y/o's who worshipped him, a nearly impossible task, here pulled off with amazing charm and aplomb. Arrested development for the Ages. One can only imagine the terror of fading youth and desire, the isolation, that fed such a plan, not to mention the time and adherence to the orthodoxy maintained. You'd think that someone that clever would have recognized the unsustainability of what he was doing... or at least read Death in Venice.

And as with all good mysteries, we may never know the whole story. With a few exceptions, some say questionable exceptions, most of the known players are running to ground or keeping their council, a good idea given the fallout. I'm not saying this is a gay story, but it is certainly a human one where compassion for everyone involved will go a long way. When I was just coming out, an older, more worldly friend cautioned me: "Gay people eat their young". And then, as I grew older, the pendulum swung the other way, "We'd really prefer if you'd stay out of sight" a cold beauty quipped one night, an over the shoulder to my friends and I, all over 40. With the wreck of MikeyNation, these two themes have collided with awful consequences. And we continue to live and learn.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

dumb monsters and things that wammer in the night

So, I don't believe in ghosts. Or conspiracy theories. Or God, as defined by just about everybody. But, as humans, I think we seek more complex answers to what befalls us than chance, fate or even luck. And considering some of the foolishness that comes down, who can blame us? I had a friend who pulled his two tours in Iraq without a scratch. A week after he came home he was hit by a bus and killed. I suppose that according to chaos theory, there is nothing unusual about this, but we're led to believe we live in an orderly universe, so we ask ourselves how this could happen. And all I can say is, I don't know, but it wasn't ghosts or conspiracies or the hand of God... prolly gonna get slammed for that one, but whatever.



And it turns out that one of the kids here, the oldest, if you'd like to know, goes a bit bat fuck some week nights, because she thinks she sees monsters, or hears them, or whatever. These monsters are pretty stock stuff: they lurk in the closet, under the bed, hide in a dark corner. And as kids since time immemorial have been seeing monsters in these exact same places you can reach two conclusions: 1) either the monsters exist, but are as unimaginative as a sack of hammers, so what's to be afraid of, or 2) Binkley's Anxiety Closet is more than just something Berke Breathed dreamed up. And, of course, I vote for the latter.



I've been here two months now and, not to put too fine a point on it, we live in the woods. And I don't mean some landscaper's wet dream, I mean THE WOODS. Like Hansel and Gretel type woods. So, in addition to the usual gashlycrumb terrors kids experience, there are branches scraping, animals scratching and an assortment of grunts, sniffs and snorts. So, yeah, some nights the kid in question get's the piss scared outta her. Kinda watching this develop, I noticed that it never happens on the week-ends, on holidays and I don't remember it ever happening over Christmas. So i deduce that what the kid is feeling is normal anxiety, but she doesn't know what anxiety is so she translates it into any one or all of the perennial kid fears and so were digging through the closet at 4:30am looking for monsters... I know... there are SO many ways I could take this, but let's just keep to the... erm., straight and narrow. That's what put most of us in the closet in the first place... sorry! Really sorry. Couldn't be helped. Knee-jerk type of thing...



ANYWAY, I mention all of this to Dorry who I think is a good mother, just a bit scattered... Ok, a whole lot scattered, but a good mom nonetheless. And after laying this all out in admirable clarity, Dorry proceeds to thank me for my very interesting hypothesis and then she tells me that she thinks her kid is an Adept and is picking up the spirits of dead Confederate soldiers that drift through the woods some nights. And suddenly I understand why the kid is having nightmares.

I so need to get out of here.



The balm for our fevered brows this post is model Nikolaus Fuhrhauser as shot by Kosmas Pavlos.

And you're not getting any more Tim Urban, so you can forget it. It's for your own good. Really.



Like there's even a comparrison...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

is it safe?

Our suburbia is nice, but it's also death if you let it. It's quiet and serene, which is nice once and a while, but every so often you need to come down from the tower and mingle with the great unwashed... erm... like going to the Kroger supermarket. That may seem like the statement of some elitist, Euro-centric smart-ass... which I am, just so you know, but in this case it's also pretty accurate.



We're not exactly in the middle of things here, which is like saying that the international space station doesn't have enough parking. The north bound MARTA line ends about 10 miles away and if you do want to enjoy the natural beauty of the place and hike up to the Kroger in question, it will take you about 40 minutes. Once there you can also enjoy a coffee shop, a hair salon and... wait for it... The Casserole King! In the Kroger, you can spend time at the Ham Bar and wander around looking for things exotic, like lamb or whole wheat flour. If you want Bisquick, on the other hand, you'd be in pig heaven... or maybe Bisquick heaven if you want to carry the metaphor that far, and I'm not even sure it's a metaphor at this point.



Coming from my long and enjoyable Euro experience, even in the little town I spent having a love/hate relationship with for the last four years, every little village/town/city has a square, or a series of squares, where people congregate, have a coffee, drink wine, shop, argue, whatever. Here in suburbia, that concept is eschewed for remote locations, manicured lawns, houses "set back", gigantic cars and gossip about the neighbors... which you can also get in the village square, so there's that, at least. If I was certain I was going to stay here, I would get a car and that would certainly help, but things are still up in the air in that department, so I continue to bide my time, but the longing for urbanity is sometimes overwhelming. I use to kid myself about cabins near lakes or nestled in mountains, but I am, when all is said and done, a creature of the city. And I think this is true of many gay people. It is the cities that offer us refuge and acceptance, even anonymity, whereas the countryside tends to leave us exposed and scrutinized, though it continues to be true that we can get killed just about anywhere. Maybe we can say that the city offers more targets... scant comfiort, but there it is.



I don't know, should I be complaining? I ask myself. You ask yourself a lot of things in the 'burbs. But I'm loved here. There is time to read and reflect, listen to music, enjoy nature (The big news this week has been a fox in the neighborhood... like they fall from Mars occasionally. We do live in the woods, for chrissake... ), but let's face it, it is possible to get too much of a good thing and as I get to know my neighbors, the stress level here is tremendous. It's like a lot of these people worked very hard to get here, because it represented some dream of safety and contentment, but when they got settled, they found it was closer to a boring siege mentality than anything else. But, as life is what you make it, I guess I'll just shut up and take the dog for a walk. Things could always be worse.

So, yeah, that's the news from the countryside.


Some shots from Fantasticsmag's latest lay out. I was going to post a bunch of shirtless Tim Urban shots, but it just seemed liked one more mundane example of everything I was writing about... not that I'd kick him out of bed for eating crackers or anything. Anyway, you decide...