The Good Sport / El Tío Grande

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

I TEND TO be a good sport. When I win at cards, for example, I rarely gloat. When I don’t win, I hardly pout at all, although my language can be a bit colorful. And, after the fact, I might silently berate myself for ALWAYS being a big loser — even though I win more often than another person soon to be mentioned. But, other than that, I’m a really good sport.

San Geraldo gloats. Kathleen gloats and even gleefully announces, “That’s all she wrote!” (an American expression). And then there’s Pedro. When he wins at cards (which isn’t often), he stands on his head. At least he’s entertaining.

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TIENDO A SER un tío grande. Cuando gano en las cartas, por ejemplo, rara vez me regocijo. Cuando no gano, apenas hago pucheros, aunque mi lenguaje puede ser un poco colorido. Y, después del hecho, podría reprenderme en silencio por SIEMPRE ser un gran perdedor — aunque gano con más frecuencia que otra persona que pronto será mencionada. Pero, aparte de eso, soy un muy buen deporte.

San Geraldo se regodea. Kathleen se regodea e incluso anuncia alegremente: “¡Eso es todo lo que ella escribió!” (una frase estadounidense que significa “no hay nada más que decir”). Y luego está Pedro. Cuando gana en las cartas (que no es frecuente), se para en la cabeza. Al menos es entretenido.

And Pedro bakes, too. My last hurrah last week. One had dark chocolate and berries. The other had white chocolate and bananas.
Y Pedro hornea, también. Mi último hurra la semana pasada. Uno tenía chocolate negro y bayas. El otro tenía chocolate blanco y plátanos.

Yes, We Have No Bananas

While the sun was still constantly shining — before these last few days of mostly cloudy, sometimes thunder and lightning, and a mix of light and heavy rain — I was on a walk on the beach when I spotted a sad-looking cluster of plants in a cement planter outside a chiringuito (beach café).

The tallest plant caught my attention because hanging from it was what I’m pretty sure is the flower that will produce a cluster of bananas.

It’s easy to get the real banana plant confused with the “giant white bird of paradise” or “wild banana” whose flowers look like the typical orange bird of paradise (except that they’re giant and white… which is probably where it got its name, don’t you think?).

Unlike the real banana plant, however, the giant white bird of paradise doesn’t bear edible fruit. So, once there’s fruit (i.e., bananas), I can easily tell it’s a real banana plant. I’m clever like that.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I’m pretty sure that what I saw was a real banana plant. I’ll wait for the bananas and will let you know for certain — unless, of course, someone out there looks at my photos and can tell without waiting for bananas (or no bananas, as the case may be).

(Don’t forget to click the image for a bigger banana … or no banana.)

Time for a another song from Louis Prima…

Drawing on Memories

FEELING LOST AND LONELY IN AN ELEGANT APARTMENT.
SELF-PORTRAIT, AVENZA, CARRARA, ITALY, 1977.

I just pulled out an old sketchbook and discovered some drawings that brought back memories.  The memories that come back when I look at my old drawings are often more vivid than those that are awakened by looking at old photographs.  I think it’s the fact that I was completely engaged in the action at the time and spent more than a moment snapping a photo or awkwardly posing for posterity.

10 SEPT BECAME 11 SEPT 1980 WHILE I WAITED IN MY ’78 MAZDA GLC TO GIVE
A “FRIEND” A LIFT BACK TO BOSTON AFTER A BUSINESS RECEPTION IN CAMBRIDGE.
HIS NAME WAS STEVEN AND HE WAS MORE THAN AN HOUR LATE.

When I was 25, I landed a job in Medical Illustration at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York.  I drew kidneys and muscle tissue.  I traced cross-sections of cadavers that had been cast in polyurethane.  I created art and typography for slides that were used by the medical school.  It was fun work and was what began my career in publications and communications.  At the time, I never went anywhere without a sketch book.  I would sketch unselfconsciously, and had been doing so for years. I doodled my way around Italy in the ’70s and gave away almost all the sketches as “thank you” gifts for the hospitality I received there.  I wish I had had a scanner!

BANANAS, MAY 1980, TOP FLOOR, 15 CHARLES STREET, BOSTON.

SEDUCTIVE BANANAS.

While working at Downstate, I drove up to Boston, just 4-1/2 hours away for a weekend visit with an old college friend, Mary.  I fell in love with Boston and immediately decided I had to move there.  I left  Downstate four months later after only 1-1/2 years for a job as a typesetter and graphic artist in a small, quirky (aka, cripplingly dysfunctional) studio in Cambridge, ironically named “Together Graphics.” The job in Cambridge paid a lot better, but was not as interesting nor did it offer the same opportunities for professional development and personal growth as the job in Brooklyn.  But it did get me to Boston, which is where I met Jerry a little over a year later.

SNACKING AS I SKETCHED, ENABLING NEW POSES.

HOURS OF SKETCHING.  I CONSUMED MY RECOMMENDED DAILY ALLOWANCE OF POTASSIUM.

For my first month in Boston, while I looked for my own place, I stayed in a basement apartment on Gray Street in the South End with Brian, a friend I met through Mary.  He was to become my best friend over the years and was my first good gay friend.  I was still living the life of a straight person, thinking I could ignore who I really was and wanted to be.  As a good friend (and someone with “gaydar”), Brian clearly knew the truth, but he never let on and he let me come to terms at my own pace. I spent a month on his couch and many afternoons hanging out at Mary’s apartment with my sketchbook, sketching the room, the house plants, and, as shown here, bananas that happened to be left on the coffee table. Jerry and I had already moved twice by the time Brian and Mary decided to move together to Maui.  I lost touch with Mary, who met someone in Maui, married, and was living in Missouri the last I heard.  After a few years, Brian (who was a serial monogamist) had also met someone.  They moved to San Diego and stayed together about a year.  Brian remained in San Diego.  So, I was elated when Jerry and I had the opportunity in late 1992 to move to San Diego, as well.  But, just before we left Connecticut for San Diego, Brian went back to his parents’ home in Massachusetts, where he died at the age of 37 of complications from AIDS.

DARTMOUTH “T” STATION, 1981.  BACK FROM ENGLAND TWO WEEKS AFTER MY SISTER DIED.
ON MY WAY TO A PARTY WITH STEVEN AFTER DISCOVERING MY CAR HAD BEEN STOLEN.

I think it’s time to start sketching again.  It’s very therapeutic and I like the depth of the memories.