I interviewed Saul in 2011 for a project about sex addiction that never came to fruition, at least in the form I had originally envisioned. A sixty-something native of Bensonhurst, he had the most delicious speaking voice, which I dare describe as a potion of equal parts Jewish, gay, and old-school Brooklyn. But it was his untapped authorial voice that moved me to develop our conversation into a monologue, unburdened by an interviewer's questions, and strung together into a reflection on the intersection of sexuality, religion, and identity in the 1960s and 70s.
I didn’t have sex until I was already out of college, and was a social worker. I [...]
Follow the slope downward, to the east, toward the meadow, to where the earth levels off and there are crocuses coming up through a damp layer of wood chips. This is where the tree is. Behind the tree, the ground rises into a sort of berm between the Botanic Garden and Flatbush Avenue that breaks the siren howl and traffic rumble. A wide asphalt pathway meanders in front of it. On a typical spring day visitors usually pause here to admire the tree, and read the placard with its name and chuckle, because it’s a caucasian wingnut.
The tree’s branches are thick and deeply ridged, twisting out from a [...]
The toilet man was obsessed with numbers. Like the number of days he had left to live. Ten-thousand five-hundred was about how many days he said he had left, if he lived to be eighty. Thirteen years ago, the Toilet Man said, he turned forty and asked himself, how long is one lifetime? Then he checked the national statistic: eighty. So, forty more years; fourteen thousand, six-hundred days more days, give or take. "And then you die," said the Toilet Man. He lingered over the last world, stretched it. "Dyyyyyyyeee," it sounded like.
Back then, before he was the Toilet Man, he was Jack Sim, a rich Singaporean, running 16 [...]
I have one spiritual ritual in my life: every morning I check the Los Angeles Times' Homicide Report blog to learn who was killed in Los Angeles County while I slept.1
The Homicide Report addresses two questions every newspaper covering a major metropolis should answer: who was killed last night, and why? But most newspapers don’t do this because the logic of most newsrooms is that not all murders are sexy, grisly, or surprising enough to be written about. The Homicide Report operates on the inverse principal: Every murder gets a story because murder is inherently worthy of our attention.2
The Homicide report is anchored by a [...]
In the flatlands between Mill Basin and Marine Park, just before the avenue arrives at the golf course and Jamaica Bay, you’ll find VERG South, an emergency hospital for pets. Inside is a dog, which isn’t very surprising, this being a place for treating dogs and cats. Only this dog is famous.
The dog came to VERG—that's Veterinary Emergency and Referral Group—in a roundabout way. First the dog arrived at a vaccine clinic, probably hosted at a PetCo; the story is fuzzy at the beginning. One thing is certain, and terrible: the dog had owners. They brought him to get shots, which they thought might cure him. He was [...]
"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."—Oscar Wilde, "The Critic as Artist"
An old friend once told me a story about her son Edison and this other kid he grew up with, Brendan. It seems that when they were really little, like six or so, the boys were on a soccer team, they were playing soccer and Edison fell and was hurt. And everybody clustered round and was all ooh, ahh, to make sure he was okay. Straightaway, Brendan totally faked an injury of his own, thumped to earth and started wailing, so that [...]