More Auld Friends

Arriving in Seattle in the middle 60’s, I found no lasting friends, but my family, about whom I’ll write something soon, found me.  For the rest of that decade, besides my academic career, they were the focus of my life.  I do regret not having even one close friend from those years, just the family.  At least frequent letters to and from Lee in New Orleans were an emotional connection to the world outside the ever-growing family.

In Milwaukee in the summer of 1970 when my wife and I split up, I rather quickly I found gay friends.  Make that lovers, who became lasting friends.  They’re gone now, Ken and Kenny, my simultaneous loves.  Ken and I were close through many decades, particularly the 70’s in DC, until he passed away around 2010.  My dancing boy Kenny only survived until around 1994.  The plague, of course.  Both will be in a future memoire about my Hippie Poet persona.

As far as the 70’s in DC went, Lee/Chas and Ken, from New Orleans and Milwaukee respectively, were my old comrades.  As was Charles from Tulane, my platonic partner in the house and myriad interests.  I had some very special lovers then, but either the affairs or they themselves ended far too soon.  I hope someday that all these lost friends can live again in a memoire about my Courtesan persona.

After a brief sojourn in New York, I arrived in Santa Fe in 1981 as a mature gay gentleman and ran smack dab into my lover/partner of the next 11 years.  That’s also a tale that must await a memoire—if I live long enough and the creek don’t rise.

As you may notice, my two high school friends, Cookie and Dennis, and two “lady friends,” Jane and Frances, all mentioned in the previous post, are my only surviving auld friends. However, you couldn’t really call them close after so long and across all the distance.

Besides my family, here in Santa Fe I now have newer close friends.  Don, now 83, may qualify as auld, or at least old.  He and I met at a gay dinner group years ago and started our own dining tradition most Monday evenings.  We share many opinions, concerns, perspectives, previously married backgrounds, and a healthy appreciation of nubile youths.  Don is amused that I go out dancing and imagines that some night some guy is going to snap me up.  I don’t.

There is one other amigo here in New Mexico you might call auld, or at least viejo, though he’s a bit younger than I.  Douglas and I met back in 1981 when he was the roommate of that partner mentioned above, and our friendly association drifted lackadaisically along through the 80’s.

After I got single again in the 90’s, we forged a real, warm friendship, sharing events, trips, and outings all over the place.  Witness the silly fact that I call him by affectionate nicknames.  He calls himself Doogie, but I’ve gone through Doogaloo and Dugalug to Great Doogly-Moogly (per The Simpsons).  All along I’d considered the Dugless One an appealing and interesting Santa Fe new-age type, not too whacked out, and charmingly peace-love and nature connected.  Doogie’s spiritual enterprise has long been running a program of intercultural outings called Earthwalks, and he’s focusing on it again in his retirement.

Well, I guess that’s it for any auld friends.  Thank goodness I haven’t lost them all yet.  Those lost ones are always with me, be they long-time or only temporary human connections.  Often when this old dame goes out, like I will tonight to Molly’s Kitchen, they’ll come and ride with me in this old but still kicking body, living again in our dance.


Auld Lang Friends

Like always, as I wind down this Old Year, I’m mindful of all the wonderful friends and lovers in my life.  Of course, many of them have gone to their rewards, but they still live on in me.  Fortunately, some from my past still live on in fact.

Just the other day I phoned Cookie, a high school neighbor friend in Arkansas, and we happily reported that we’re both still kicking, though as she said, not very high.  She married my best friend in junior high, who deceased several years ago.  My best friend in high school was Dennis, and we’ve been in loose touch again since our 50th Reunion back in 2010.  After the Navy, he married and, like Cookie, made a full life in those woods I left behind in 1960.  I visited them a year or so ago and hope to do so again this spring coming.

Lasting friends from New Orleans were fewer than one might think, given my social history there.  Those still kicking are actually women friends.  I’ve never “dated” a girl—just “went out” with them.  Gorgeous blonde Jane and I spent most nights in La Casa de los Marinos dancing mad merengues—or resting in the Gin Mill a few blocks away, and saw countless dazed dawns over Decatur Street.  She now lives in San Miguel de Allende and visited with me in Santa Fe some years ago.  We email periodically.

Another from that period is Frances, now living in Seattle.  She was an Art History grad whom my beloved Indian Desai and I met one night in Cosimo’s, a jazz place on Burgundy, and took to the Gin Mill to see the lowlife.  They got together, and I got alone.  Frances and I have kept in touch through the other chapters in our lives with visits, cards, and emails.  Desai went back to India where he married, and we lost touch in the 70’s.  I sure hope he’s still kicking.

I also “went out” to La Casa de los Marinos with another woman, Martha, a student from Southeastern in Hammond with wild blonde hair and arresting blue eyes.  She and I created a leaping dance we called “The President Kennedy.”  Martha lives (I hope) in Arcata CA, a militant vegan lesbian grandmother known locally as Granny Green Genes.  We haven’t been in touch for a few years, but at this late date, I’m afraid to check on her.

A platonic friend from back then was Lee (later Chas).  Faithful correspondents through the rest of the 60’s, we hung out together when I moved back to New Orleans in ’71.  In ’72 we moved to Washington DC together and were close neighbors throughout that decade.  But when I moved off to New York, we lost contact for some fifteen years.  In the late 90’s he got back in contact, and we resumed our old closeness.  For several years he came out to Santa Fe in the summers for the Santa Fe Opera  season and would stay the weeks with me.  He died in 2003.

Not quite so lengthy was my platonic friendship with Charles, a faerie sister from Tulane.  We weren’t all that close in New Orleans but accidentally re-connected in an elevator in a Chicago hotel some years later.  When I went back to Ann Arbor in ’72 for dissertation work, I moved in with him and his lover for a couple months.  Then Charles moved to Washington DC right after Chas and I did, and we wound up buying a Victorian house together at Logan Circle.

1320 Rhode Island Avenue NW--The Four Belles

1320 Rhode Island Avenue NW–The Four Belles

Charles is a special story unto himself, a tragic drama lasting till he passed on in 1992.  On that sad note, I’m getting all choked up, so let me save other memorials for another time.  Sniffle.



The Single Senior

Okay, now I’ll tell you about another of my intimate eccentricities:  I live alone, as a singleton so to speak.  (We are apparently an increasing minority in this otherwise coupled society.)  My solitary lifestyle started more than 20 years ago, and I was more than happy to take charge of my own happiness.  Also it was an enormous relief no longer being responsible for that of anyone else.  Maybe my comfort in bachelorhood comes out of my boyhood solitude in the woods.

I took charge quite seriously, pursuing my happiness through dancing, writing, art, and plants.  Ever since my childhood I’ve been a plant person.  It almost got out of hand in my plant-freak phase in DC, but I controlled it in my plant-collector  phase.

Plant Freak

Plant Freak

Then, in my third career I literally blossomed for 15 years as the Iris Man of Santa Fe.  My DC fantasy of having a plant store came true.  And just like the kid who’d happily peddled peaches beside the Arkansas highway, I totally loved selling Used Plants in my booth at the Santa Fe Farmers Market.

Babylon Gardens - Used Plants

Babylon Gardens – Used Plants

I’ve already written about my happy bachelor dancing in these single years.  And writing and art have produced happy results that I feel quite good about.  Actually, when you don’t seek your happiness in sex, it doesn’t seem all that hard to catch, and I continue snatching it up with writing memoires and drawing Aztec stuff.  What’s more there are new opportunities for ecstatic dance at the Blue Rooster, and I just heard about a New Year’s Eve party happening at Molly’s Kitchen.  Single life is good.

With one notable exception 17 years ago, living alone has meant sleeping alone, and that too has been fine.  It’s as though my earlier years of love affairs and relationships simply were enough.  But don’t get me wrong—I’m no St. Augustine, all holy and repenting the wildness of my lascivious youth.  I still appreciate an eyeful of visual vitamins in the locker room, and a sloe-eyed youth can still tickle my fancy.  They’re like icing on my cake.

In these single years, I’ve also enjoyed meeting some angelic beings who show me that perfect beauty exists, archangels who prove the existence of the divine.  The Archangel Joel with curly blond hair, a renaissance seraph, worked in a bakery and had a delicious little mole on his throat.  The Archangel Eric, heroically built and bright-eyed, tended bar and even acted like he liked me.  And the Archangel Luke, who gave me blinding visions of naked glory at the Spa, ruled my fantasies for two years.  I’ve forgotten the others’ names.

Some might say celibacy is just another word for lack of opportunity.  I’d most likely have a pretty hard time turning down an attractive offer of nookie, but apart from the notable exception alluded to above, that hasn’t happened as of yet.  Nor do I expect it to.  My elderly mantra has long been “No Expectations.”  I’m not sure I’d even want such an offer.  No matter how you come by it, nookie complicates life, and in these ultra-mature years I’m craving simplicity.

A couple times my grandson Jammes has asked me if I ever get lonely living alone, and I say no.  I really don’t.  There’s always something to occupy my mind—even if it’s a nap.  And the stuff I do is hard to do with someone else.  I love human contact otherwise, like with chums at the Spa and my few friends and family, but I’ve got to have my solitude.

In a big stretch for this recluse, Jammes sometimes stays over with me on Friday nights.  I put other interests aside, and we play games, read, or watch videos.  I camp out on the sofa and let him sleep late in my bed, which 12 year-old boys are good at.  Like his grandfather, Jammes likes to read comics over his breakfast.

Tattoo Rant


Now that I’ve let everybody in on one of my most intimate eccentricities, I don’t imagine that the rest of them would shock you.  So I’ll leave those disclosures for another time.  Instead, I’ll save you the trouble of reminding me and do a rant right now from my un-inked perspective about tattoos, relying largely on my spa experience.

Besides the physical exercise, going to the gym in the daytime (as well as out dancing at night), provides many eyefuls of the tattooed and otherwise ornamented bodies of young folk.  Sadly, I usually can’t discern details of the vast (and idiosyncratic) patterns or appreciate the artistic statements, since staring isn’t polite.

(As a sociological observation, I’ve been noting now at the EDM sessions of the local twenty-somethings that they don’t seem to be quite as taken with tattoos and piercings as are their elders.  I’m even seeing more “kids” nowadays at the Spa without a mark on their bods.)

Certainly some folks of my vintage have tats, but I think I’ll make do with my cockadoodle.  What I can’t quite grasp is the frame of mind somebody must be in to post some of the weird things I see as tattoos.  Of course, chacun á son weird.  Personally, I like more of the ornamental design stuff than the pictorial or narrative.  (One guy has a fox chasing a rabbit across his belly.)

By me there’s something classy about the patterned armband or ankle-band, but for some reason I find those maniacal Maori shoulders and orientally intricate sleeves personally disturbing.  But some of the full-back tableaus are impressive.  Aesthetically, I’d prefer more cohesive patterns, something more of an overall design.

In my historical wanderings, I’ve run across lots of tattoos amongst Native Americans.  There were some spectacular full-body tattoos amongst the extinct Timucua  people in northern Florida.  They were painted by the artist Jacques le Moyne  (around 1565) while at the ill-fated French settlement of Fort Caroline.  The best I can do for an illustration is a detail from an engraving of one of his lost paintings.

Timucuan full-body tattoo

Timucuan full-body tattoo

Full-body patterns like that are probably more than most folks could put up with, I suppose.  But I do wonder why facial tattoos are so neglected.  They would be a sure way to (modestly) get people look at your body art.  While enthralled long ago by the Indian mounds, I ran across some great line-art engraved on shell from the Mississippian site called Spiro Mounds in Oklahoma, some of which can be seen re-drawn in my Gallery of Pre-Columbian Artifacts.  My favorite is the head of a warrior with the so called “forked-eye” tattoo and a remarkable hairdo and headdress.

Warrior Head with forked eye tattoo

Warrior Head with forked eye tattoo

In my Aztec obsession I’ve run across any number of facial tattoos.  Frequently faces were sectioned in different solid colors, and they used eye embellishments.  It would seem that such designs were the identifying “signatures” or “trademarks” of specific individuals.  Talk about having an unmistakable identity.  Here are four I’ve drawn on authority of the marvelous Codex Nuttall  which is admittedly of Mixtec origin, but what the hay!  Don’t miss the other details including the (real) beards.

Aztec/Mixtec facial tattoos

Aztec/Mixtec facial tattoos

Native American tattooing traditions continued long after European contact and the colonies.  In the late 18th century a young Creek gentleman named merely John combined ink and jewelry in an elegant fashion statement.  Here’s my rendition of a 1790 drawing of John by the early American artist John Trumbull.

John the Creek

John the Creek

By the way, I have a superb suggestion for truly personalizing tattoos.  Considering the Aztec picture-writing of dates in their ceremonial calendar, folks could very easily sport their personal Aztec birthday-names as identity-tattoos.  All you’d need to do is consult the tonalpohualli to find out your number-day name, grab one of my day-signs, slap the appropriate number of dots in whatever arrangement around it, and there you go.  Here’s one for someone born on the day Five Flower (which is also the day-name of their god of games and parties).

Five Flower

Five Flower

Not to belabor the subject, though I will, I rather think that some of my Aztec deities would love to ride on somebody’s bare back.  Take for instance, Itzpapalotl, The Obsidian Butterfly (or Clawed Butterfly), the goddess of the night and stars.

Itzpapalotl, The Obsidian Butterfly

Itzpapalotl, The Obsidian Butterfly

Go for it—the colors are entirely up to you.






Fitness Secrets

I must admit I’m a moderately serious physical fitness freak.  You’ve already heard here about my constant dancing, and I can also report a couple ecstatic decades of running.  Now for the past thirty-some years since the knees gave out, I’ve gone almost daily to the Santa Fe Spa, the one looking out at the vast and expanding National Cemetery where ranks of white tombstones are a morbid motivator for keeping fit.  Truth be told, I religiously take a sauna every day, but I’ve been known to cut myself some serious slack on the workout schedule.

In the sauna I generally stand close to the stove and ‘rotisserate.’  Casually nude, I’m distinguished by my white mustache and what I call my ‘cockadoodle.’  It’s a short steel stud through the little loop (called a phrenem) just below my glans penis, a curious aftermath of circumcision.  (Think about that for a minute.)  A vain old man, I’ve felt that this, my sole adornment (no rings or jewelry at all), is an eloquent secret understatement in this age of tattoos and piercings.  Remind me to do rant about body decoration sometime.

Recently I’ve been virtuous about a daily half-hour on the treadmill, same time on the machines, and likewise in the sauna.  I don’t think it’s unrealistic to credit this physical regimen for a large part of my excellent health.  It has held me at around 160 pounds, and (I hope) kept my pecs, abs, and glutes from sagging.  At 5’ 9+” now, I’ve lost an inch and a half since my prime.

At least as good for my physical well-being, I’m sure, has been my unprocessed diet, heavy on vegetables, salad, and chocolate, which helps maintain a positive outlook.  The only alcohol I bother with is a glass of cheap red wine at dinner (on doctor’s orders).  Beyond nuts and berries, I also swear by a remarkable item which I’ve been consuming it daily for about twenty years; it costs virtually nothing except time for easy preparation; and it tastes good.

Enough with the riddles.  I’m referring to a tea-based drink called Kombucha, which has gained a certain chic in the health-food industry.  I’ve never tried their expensive bottled stuff, doubting it could be as good as my home-brew.  The sparkling taste I compare to a slightly “hard” cider.  To prepare it, you float a slab of yeasts, enzymes, fungi, and who knows whatever (often called a “Manchurian mushroom”) on a vat of sweetened tea for 10-12 days.  That’s it.

I started the symbiosis with my mushroom (Some folks name theirs!), at the ripe age of 52, shortly after my mustache and beard had turned white.  The graying of my head hair apparently stopped in its tracks, still only touching the lower sideburns.  For many years I’d suffered from a testy digestive tract with almost constant heartburn, and that disappeared immediately.  Almost as quickly my energy level ramped up some notches from the middle-aged lethargy I’d been experiencing before, and the energy has maintained now into my seventies.

I won’t claim that this tonic is some miraculous elixir.  But it sure does seem like my aging process sort of stopped, or at least slowed way, way down when I took Kombucha into my life.  Everybody, and I myself not the least, is surprised that I don’t look like the old coot that I really am.  I’m properly grateful to Providence for this blessing, but I could use a nicer nose and fewer hairs in the ears.  And I’m thinking about shopping for a fancier cockadoodle.


In case you guys wonder why I let several months go by after my first posting, it was because I was working on both the next instalment of memoir and on drawing.  I decided that my Aztec deity images  and book on the ceremonial calendar  weren’t of much use to anyone in those formats.  People should have some way to get involved in the images and learn about the Aztec gods and goddesses, I figured, and what better way than to work with them the way I did (with such fun) coloring them for the book.

So I’m doing a coloring book.  It’s a rather intensive project to rework the images into full-scale icons in the barbaric splendor of the historical codices.  (In a weird way, I feel like a “santero,” the traditional New Mexico painter of saints.)  I’m calling it rather appropriately YE GODS!  THE AZTEC ICONS and also planning an illustrated encyclopedia of the Aztec deities to be called YE GODS!  THE AZTEC PANTHEON.

Shooting for a total of 26, I have most of the basic images, but turning them into the icons is taking a while.  The project could easily take another year—or more.  And it gives me something to do in my dotage.  Presently I’m in the middle of the third in alphabetical order, so at least I can give you the first as an example:  ATL, the deified element of Water.

ATL, Aztec God of Water

ATL, Aztec God of Water

Click here to download the icon with a caption page and model images from the Aztec Codices.

It is also available in freely sizable vector drawings on the coloring book page.