Where There’s Smoke…
There's a gay guy visiting Brazil..
When I was in eighth grade my dad’s house burned down in a freak accident (he hired a man he met at a drive-up boat bar to install a deck, causing his chimney to malfunction).
I have a few choice memories that surface from this life event, chief among them being when I wrote an imagery-lush essay about it for my English class, disturbing my peers and wowing my teacher (Ms. Sharpe) with similes inspired by A Series of Unfortunate Events. I wish more than anything I had access to that essay now, where I know I used phrases like “the caved-in floor curled like vulture’s talons around the dinner table, which had crashed into the basement and resembled a char-black shipwreck in its bed of incinerated children’s toys.”
I remember how I found out that my childhood home (on Thursday nights, every other weekend, and half of each summer) had been engulfed in flames: my mom sat my sister and I down at the dining table and said, gravely, that she had some bad news. The reveal that my father’s home had combusted caused me to bark with laughter — on the one hand, I was obviously in shock, and on the other, I couldn’t help but not be shocked at all. I’d considered writing a TV show as a child called My Dad The Bad Luck Charm: this event would have probably constituted the plot of the pilot.
When I walked into the ghostly remains of my father’s home the following afternoon, I remember vividly the smell: smoke has a way of congealing onto anything and everything it shares a zip code with. My nose wrinkled as I tiptoed along what remained of the floor, careful not to teeter into the craters the conflagration had blazed into our basement, where the bedroom my sister and I shared gave new meaning to the word “ashtray.” My Bitty Baby, an American hero in a mint-green onesie named Cookie, had melted into a puddle. The staircase was warped and twisted like a Dr. Seuss book, the gnarled remains of the banister leaving the poor unfortunate souls from Little Mermaid twitching. A thick layer of black soot covered every surface. I remember my dad rescuing an Abercrombie coat he’d intended to give me for Christmas (the blaze occurred just a few days before Jesus’ birth), and how that coat smelled like sickly smog for the rest of its existence.
I share all this because, as many of you know, I’ve just gone through the most soul-wrenching, physically and emotionally abusive process a twinka possibly can on this Earth: I moved to Bushwick. The apartment is heavenly in many ways: private rooftop terrace (already the set for many, many swimsuit pics, some of which have already flopped hard on my Close Friends), my own bathroom, a Gospel church belting out hymns next door every Sunday and two rat-like dogs on the first floor that make me feel like Angel in Rent was among the most important pioneers of this lifetime… the only thing tainting all this nirvana is the smell. The previous tenants clearly chainsmoked cigarettes in their beds all day. No judgment, but I implore the court to see reason: the apartment’s living room opens onto a PRIVATE ROOFTOP TERRACE. WHY in the gobsmacking hell would you not take your little cigarette and just smoke it out THERE???? Fucking idiots.
Anyway, the smell is mostly gone now. I just thought these two life events might pair nicely together in a newsletter, since there’s also a Sex and the City episode titled “Where There’s Smoke” — it’s the season 3 premiere, and Carrie meets John Slattery’s horny politician character at a fire department calendar fundraiser in Staten Island. Since I recently attended a bathhouse and kissed the lips of an aspiring New York politician, I felt it only right to spend a page reflecting on when my dad’s house burned down in order to accommodate this most artful of confessions.
Come To Brazil
I’d love to pivot completely and become a full-time travel writer moving forward (go places for free), which is why I would like to describe my recent trip to Rio de Janeiro in as eloquent and wholesome a manner as possible.
We (my gay guys and I) visited the rainforest-infused metropolis on a whim, booking the tickets one night with a dream of attending Carnival, the famed festival occurring annually in the sunny streets of Brazil’s most vibrant city.
On the way down, we lost our bags, which was obviously quite traumatic. However, within about 30 hours, we’d had them returned to us, delivered straight to our AirBnB, a gorgeous, sunny penthouse apartment steps from the beach. We attended a few Carnival parties, sure, but due to COVID the celebrations had been subdued from what we’d heard the bacchanal could be like in the past. Instead the highlight of the trip was burning on the beaches, taking photos during hikes in the rainforest, and eating some of the best god damn burrata this side of the Mississippi. Seriously, some of the restaurants we gorged ourselves at were absolutely incredible — I do not remember the names. Travel publications, hire me!
Like many before me, I wrote off Lorde’s third studio album as a certifiable flop. I listened to it one August morning on my way to an airport, was thoroughly bored, and, aside from a few choice tracks, thought I would never indulge again. Her previous two masterworks had changed the course of my life forever, and this, a soft, moody — not bad, per se, but certainly not gripping — project, had left me cold and bored.
However, I saw her at Radio City a couple days before leaving for Rio, and in preparation began listening to the album again. I was struck by how good some of the songs became after listening on repeat — she has a way of creating a build within her music that’s done with masterful subtlety on tracks like “Fallen Fruit” and “Oceanic Feeling.” Then there was the show — I found the whole spectacle to be so riveting and healing, I continued listening to the album, and now find it to be quite good — though my favorites remain my favorites from the beginning: “Solar Power,” “Mood Ring,” “The Path,” “Stoned at the Nail Salon,” and now the aforementioned “Oceanic Feeling.” Then last night I had a dream I was asked to write the Pitchfork review of the album, and so I’ve composed these two astute paragraphs here in hopes of manifesting that vision one day.
Sundries (Beautiful Name for A Non-Binary Infant)
I watched the Spring Awakening documentary on HBO — Jonathan Groff has the most edible ass in show business and Lea Michele will earn Oscars as she makes her inevitable climb back to the top of the professional pyramid. In high school I threw a costumed Glee party and dressed as Mr. Shue (wore a shirt and tie).
The Julia Fox video continues to be the funniest piece of literature we have:
I spoke with comedian Esther Povitsky for Iris Covet Book.
We have no choice but to make this the best summer of our lives. Please reply to this email with an “aye, aye cap’n” if you’re ready to join me in that crusade.
Donate to the National Network of Abortion Funds here to help provide safe access to abortions for anyone who needs one.