Is It Possible To O.D. on the G.A.Y.?


And now that I’ve pretty much resigned to using the Counter Critic as a platform for advocating for all things gay–for the time being–I’d like to share with y’all a Fan Page I started that is dedicated to drawing attention to and discussing the ideas in Sarah Schulman’s groundbreaking book “Ties That Bind: Familial homophobia and its consequences.”

In reality, this site has always addressed queer issues. C.C. has never shied from nor apologized for, well, being gay. Steady readers would figure out pretty quickly that the man behind the mask is a big homo. And the more I really consider the world and its parts, the harder it is for me to separate in any real sense homosexual politics from anything we experience in our culture. The fact is that “the homosexual” has been politicized by society, and this politicization (via suppression, oppression, and repression; pick your favorite) is evident in all aspects of culture, from works of art themselves (their content, their context, their reception) to how these works of art are produced (who’s making them, who’s curating them, how they are being written about), and that we can observe this as an injustice in virtually anything we experience. So, I guess I don’t think that using this site to explore homophobia is really a departure. And I hesitate to define the choice as an obsession, or a higher concentration of explicitly queer subjectivity. I’m more inclined, if anything, to feel that this lean would actually be more representative of the actual world in which we live, make work, and experience art. And I don’t believe in the neutrality of the critic, since gay critics have to repress their own gay subjectivity, while straight critics enjoy the privilege of not having to worry about it. (I suppose this begs for a whole other article about critics and the closet. Good idea!)

At any rate, what difference is there really between our experiences of art and life? Art is part of life. And vice-versa. So now I’m giving you a full fusion of my art (CounterCritic) and my life (Facebook) and some ideas that are pertinent to both, since it is all the same fucking thing.

Thus, here’s is a topic of discussion that I hope C.C. readers will find interesting. And if you haven’t read “Ties That Bind,” please do so now:

More Thoughts on Brian Burke story in Sports Illustrated

I’ve been thinking more about the case of Brian Burke, and it seems more and more to represent to me how limited our conversation on homophobia is, namely, that homophobia need only be addressed and confronted once a homosexual person in our lives is identified. That is, that we don’t need to worry about our homophobic tendencies as long as we don’t think there are any homosexual people around.

Quick note: Mr. Burke has chosen quite bravely to speak out about his life and his relationship with his son. It is in that spirit of openness and discussion that I’m writing out these ideas. I am not callous to his situation, or to the awfulness of his loss. I hope he would appreciate my interest in his story, and my willingness to engage in conversation.

That said, it struck me as worth considering at more length the way Mr. Burke reflected on how he raised his son after his son came out to him. His immediate conclusion was that he “never told his children that there was anything wrong with homosexuality.” For the record, and coming from a family that did exactly the opposite, I think that’s very commendable.

But I’m curious about how not teaching that being gay is wrong is somehow equated with or understood to include teaching that being gay is good. In actuality, these are not the same thing, and one can easily do the former without doing the latter.

I would posit that if there were actually no homophobia at play in Mr. Burke’s family, then his son would never have had to come out to him in the first place. If families were really not homophobic, and were really open to seeing for their children all the possibilities of future happiness, they would create for their children, from their very earliest age, an environment in which the homosexual potential was equally celebrated as the heterosexual potential.

An example. When a three year old boy would tell his mother, “I want to marry a boy,” instead of either correcting him erroneously by saying “boys can’t marry boys”–because they can in several places in this country and in the world–, or instead of freaking out and changing the subject, or leading her son toward looking at girls instead without explicitly saying there is anything wrong with wanting to marry boys, the non-homophobic mother would instead say, “Oh, good. Which boy do you want to marry?”

But this doesn’t happen, does it?



This one hit really hard, you guys. Seriously, David Foster Wallace was one of the few living literary figures that C.C. genuinely believed could save the world.

Here are two pieces in The Times:

David Foster Wallace, Influential Writer, Dies at 46

Exuberant Riffs on a Land Run Amok

One of my favorite pieces he ever wrote was this essay for the New York Times on watching Swiss tennis living-legend Roger Federer play live in the 2006 Wimbledon final versus now world No. 1 Raphael Nadal. He goes into the most mundane yet pivotal mineutia regarding how the tennis ball is hit, explains just why what athletes like Roger Federer do is so remarkable, and gives the game of tennis the rapt attention that a Trekkie would give to a Schatner sighting at a Star Trek convention, all at risk of marginalizing himself and alienating readers. I loved this man’s work. Rigorous (word of the year!) and hilarious, absurd because of its meticulous accounting of the real, idiosyncratic and breathtakingly long-winded. Marvelous.

In Memorium (And, about time)

In honor of the passing of Alain Robbes-Grillet, I am going to publish here the second chapter of a novel I was writing years ago when I was taken by a particular obsession with Robbes-Grillet’s writing. It is passionate, and dense, and impersonal, and I was younger than now, and, just skimming through it, it’s quite an homage to my friends at the time when I was living in Southern California. If you know Robbes-Grillet’s work, you’ll have a better shot at understanding the language. Perhaps it’s not necessary. But I couldn’t let this sit in my computer any longer, especially since the artist who’s writing warped my mind to such a degree, has made a little note of himself this week, leaving us for elsewhere.

The Next Exit: In the truck.

The lengths through which he would go to find it were beyond what most would be willing to accept. The freeway was long and wide. It extended in front of the pick-up truck for limitless miles, and left behind a wake of equally infinite road. Each side of the freeway had four lanes, one of those being designated as a carpool lane, indicated by the regular spacing of white diamond shapes, which had been painted on the asphalt. Often the outside lane, that being closest to the shoulder, would gradually narrow until it had merged with the lane next to it, leaving the size of the road at three lanes apiece. This narrowing would also be accompanied by reflective yellow signs posted on the side of the road, on which there was one single vertical black line next to one black line that had a kink in it, which was to be a symbolic representation of the merge. Continue reading



musicophilia.jpgSome dears friends gave C.C. this book, and as soon as we’re finished taking apart Da Noise (Chapters 3 and 4 coming soon), we’ll be tearing into it. In the mean time, here’s a very elegant review by John MacDonald in The Brooklyn Rail.

MacDonald faults author, Oliver Sacks, for covering too much territory and delving deep enough into any single neurological illness: “Casting a wide net is not, in fact, the best way to illustrate music’s ubiquitous power. It’s by focusing in and diving deep that we appreciate music’s eerie sway, that we see lives made livable—that we see ourselves.”

Okay, we threw up a little in our mouth when we read the last line. But come on, even C.C. has used the “see ourselves” line before, so we’ll give Micky D a break…today.

All I Want For Christmas Is Alex Ross

alexoffice_4.jpgOur future lover, A. Ro., gets called up to the Top 10 books of ’07 list in The New York Times. (Way to go, hon!)
Despite what might appear to be a tendentious effort on our part to discredit the poor guy, we’re actually totally stoked that so many people are making such a fuss about twentieth century classical music. Our scrutiny comes from a place of love. We really just don’t want to see any more bullshitty fictionalizations about what 20th century music is, was, sounds like, looks like…tastes like. The last thing we need is some book to come along that’s like, Composers of atonal music are all fringe lunatics. Cuz they’re not. Continue reading

Da Noise: Chapter 2

therestisnoise.jpgThe most provocative part of Alex Ross’ first book, The Rest Is Noise, a large tome about the classical music of the twentieth century that is part document, part muse, is the aim he takes at Arnold Schoenberg and the authority of the atonal school of writing. This book would not have been written fifty years ago, when, say, Pierre Boulez had recently published the inflamatory and avant-galvanizing essay, “Schoenberg Is Dead,” which, ironically, pushed Schoenberg’s theories into more remote and colder regions. Nor would it have been written even twenty years ago, even after a decade and a half of downtown minimalist influence had chipped away at serialism’s stronghold. No, Ross’ book emerges decisively out of the aesthetic orgasm of classical music’s present: a giant release that’s spawning innumerable quasi-tonal composers, be they neo-romantic (generally rehashed Strauss and Mahler) or pop-minimalist. And for that, I have to give Ross credit, since in my first review, I think I said there wasn’t anything “new” about his version of the story. (My bad. Forgive?) But the credit I’m giving Ross is definitely mixed, and for a few important reasons. Continue reading