Just a little update here fair readers. First of all, after several years of waiting, I finally got in last Friday evening to finish my back tattoo. Originally conceived in a sweat lodge at Al D's place, the idea of a ronin samurai on my back, to watch my backside so I can let down my combat nerves and lower my blood pressure just seemed right. At about that same time one of my favorite actors, one of the greatest actors of all time and the personification of samurai,Toshiro Mifune, passed away. It seemed only fitting that the ronin on my back had Toshiro's face.
I bought books on Japanese cinema to take in for Ken to study. He's the fine artist that owns Custom Tattoo in the Fremont district, the same man who did my Pan on my right arm. He did a marvelous job, 2 or 3 sessions of a couple hours each, but the final impression I got at a cellular level was from a Frank Zappa album. That's kinda what tattooing over the spine is like. I took a break of about 3 years, and it felt good to get in and see Ken again. The fellow is truly an artist, not just an ink slinger. The only problem this time, unfortunately, was that the endorphins didn't kick in. The good news is, I was able to simply be there, and sorta notice the pain without bottoming to it. Here are a couple of pix, courtesy of "Gene Le Mastre Photography
Sunday morning I was invited over to to the home of some friends for a brunch. I was the last there of about a dozen or so folks, and they'd saved me eggs and sausage gravy over homemade biscuits and good coffee. There was a lot of good conversation and I really enjoyed their nice location - the fellow who had invited me has lived there 30 years, with quite a bit of acreage, a pond, peace and quiet. Nice. Afterwards I ended up sticking around for a movie and dinner.
I'm not going to name many names here, but I'm feeling the urge to pontificate, and this is the perfect opportunity.
I have the utmost respect for the gay leathermen and women from whom so much of our language, customs, imagery, ethics, and so many other things come from. Hand in hand with that, the gay men and women I know or have known who have taken a daddy or master or other mentor role - Lee Willis, Aubrey Hart Sparks, Celeste Firetender, Don Bastion, Dave Lewis, Al D. Sowers - have all shown a wonderfully responsible dedication to the role and the needs of those they teach.
[Disclaimer - I am not one of those who readily assume a Daddy role, who seek to succor others in their development like I'm describing here. I was a single parent for decades and no regrets at all, but today I can't take on others for full time responsibility beyond my kitten. I'm commenting from a dotted line to the left, not from a position of superiority.]
Around the larger community these days you hear a lot of talk about being a daddy, being a master, taking in slaves, even being in a shake-n-bake 'mentoring class' and all that sort of thing. It truly frosts my short hairs when I run into someone who just bought their first black tshirt two weeks ago and who cackles to me [true story], "I've already got 3 slaves!" Horse pucky - you just got three women who let you do something to them. Or you hear, "I'm a Born Master/Natural Dom/etc." That one is usually accompanied by "I have 8 years of experience, the first 7 online, the last in a discussion forum about Gor, and I'm about to meet my first bottom face to face."
If I suddenly walk the other direction, it's because I'm stifling the impulse to ask questions like, "Got a slave, eh? What's her middle name? What shape is her savings account in? What are her educational hopes? Medical allergies? Any absolute phobias? Any weak joints? Where do her closest family live? What part of her past are most of the land mines in? What really turns her crank? What kind of play will she really flourish the most in?" The fine men and women that I mentioned in the earlier paragraph - Al, Aubrey, et al - could answer all of those questions and more about their students. It's hard to find that in some of the latecomer folks I've described.
The folks I was with for brunch are an extended family. There is a man at the head of the family. He's of the het male top variety, but not in the common pejorative sense; purely that the three words are true for him. He has two women who live there as his collared slaves, and a third who spends about half the time in residence. I've observed them for some time in public, and in visits to my place, but this was my first opportunity to observe them in their home environment. It was marvelous. The entire thing appeared so effortless, yet it had to be the result of so much hard work. Throughout the day he was aware of blood sugar checks to be done, who liked extra mushrooms on their meal, medication times adjusted by needs of the day's changing schedule, and who had already seen the first half of the movie yesterday. All are on one family plan of cell phones and check in when arriving or leaving at outside committments. Everyone knows each other's strengths and weaknesses and work to help the other, even though that's tough sometimes. He knows what all of them are doing, how they interact, strengths to build on and lacks to reinforce. All of the family medical or legal or other committments are on a large calendar in the kitchen. It is an intricate juggle - personalities, conflicts, needs, life experiences - and he is one of the few people I've met, other than the old leathermen, who not only steps up to the responsibility but does it well.
There are a lot of folks who could learn from examples like this. It isn't all just about endorphins, dick, or sucktitty.
I started this entry a couple of days ago, and had planned on discussing what I was and was not going to do on or about September 11th. A couple of logistical thingies have held it up, and I know it'll now be too late for that sort of projection, so let me just tell you what I've been doing.
On the way to work, I've put on a CD of 'Fiddler on the Roof' instead of listening to the Dave Ross Show. As soon as the Mariners game is over in the evening, I push in the latest arrival from Netflix. [So far that has let me enjoy again both 'Breaking the Waves', a truly great movie, and 'Broadcast News', equally wonderful.] Lydia's journal entry of 9/7/02 was really spot on. I don't need to see any of the media frenzy, the widows, the platitudes, the politicians wrapping themselves in the flag and being sympathy vampires.
I'm not numb, I'm not insensitive, and I'm not ignoring the realities of the times. Last year, a few days after the WTC bombings I discussed the conflicts of the day, and the only thing that I can see that has changed is we've bombed a nation back into the stone age that was already in the stone age, and the the world wide support the US had a year ago has been totally pissed away. I'm no closer to having a win/win solution today, but one thing I know is that nothing will be healed by the media. Nothing will be made better by any politician I am aware of. And if I am to be of any good in person by person, day by day, doing whatever I can to create a better world, then I have to not succumb to the onslaught.
Life is good, but it can be really shitty at the same time sometimes. Sunday with friends, good; 9/11, painful. It's like that.