The following essay is part of a project I worked several years ago, The Dreamer That Remains (please see post on March 3rd, Foundation). This particular essay, The Host, is based on a journal entry from 1997. The italicized passages are all quotes from the great William Carlos Williams poem The Host:
It is all (since eat we must)
Made sacred by our common need.
I was 26 years old when I finally left Colorado. I left for Boston. After spending a number of years selling books, studying Balinese gamelan and art, and pursuing my own photography, I finally decided to make a real commitment to my art as a photographer. I needed to move on from my interests in and studies of Balinese art, I thought, and really learn the art of my own culture.
Boston was new to me. Never before had I lived in such a large city, but I quickly grew to love it. As a photographer, the move was a difficult transition. I hadn’t quite discovered myself as an artist, and was still working through my early influences – Robert Adams, William Henry Jackson – of western photography. Out east, however, I didn’t have the same understanding of the landscape. Eventually, I ended up working close to home, and worked on a series of self-portraits.
I liked to take advantage of all that Boston had to offer, whether photography, music, food, or any other kind of entertainment. Born from my own deviant curiosities, I would occasionally venture to Chinatown to see the adult emporiums. Often, I was intrigued by the degrees of culture I found here, more than by the images sold for arousal.
On one of these visits, I entered and saw the life-like female companions made from rubber, with only assholes and vaginas, some advertising real-like pubic hair and vibrating pussies. I also saw dildos the size of watermelons and glow-in-the-dark vibrators.
Most intriguing, however, I found was the array of people. They ranged from poor to rich, from stereotypes in trench coats and fragile psyches to financial executives in Brooks Brothers suits. I myself have brown eyes, and milder mouth.
So fond of Luis Bunuel, what fascinated me most were the corporate executives in sharp suits with leather briefcases, there to masturbate on their lunch breaks to the Anal Secretary, taking her dictation, before heading back to their high-finance work-a-day world.
Also fascinating to me was a black couple that looked a little raggedy, with do-rags and flannel shirts, and smelled faintly of whiskey. They were there to look over the dildos, many of them modeled after black men and given names like Black Beauty or Black Inches.
I made a quick sweep through the store, just to get an idea of the selection and the clientele. I liked to think of myself as being separate from it all, but in the back of my mind I knew I was in the emporium for the same reasons all the others were there – insatiable desire and cultural alienation. Still naïve to big city life, I was in awe at the sheer volume of goods sold here.
When I left, as I entered the subway terminal up the street, I saw a black woman in here 30’s, some what over weight, involved in some kind of skirmish with a white homeless man with a big Walt Whitman-like beard. Apparently the man grabbed the woman’s hat, and tossed it over a fence down in the station. She yelled furiously.
As I walked into the station, a cop quickly intervened. The woman verbally accosted him too: “Goddamn-mother-fuckin’-sonofabitch! Get off my fuckin’ back!” She expressed a truly profound anger.
I past this scene, and boarded the train. Across from me was an older Chinese man sitting with his grandchild, a little girl probably 5 or 6 years old. She wore a black dress, black shoes with buckles, white tights decorated with small pink flowers, and a blue raincoat with a hood. She squirmed in her seat, but her grandfather sat quite patiently.
Somehow, all of this seemed whole to me – the emporium, the fight in the subway, and the little girl with her grandfather. No one was there save only for the food. Which I alone, being a poet, could have given them. But I had only my eyes with which to speak.