(no subject)

There is a book launch for my new book TICK TOCK at Printed Matter tomorrow evening from 5 to 7 pm. (195 Tenth Avenue at 22nd Street, New York City)(OK, six other books are being launched too). Duvall Beer (the Begian beer--am I spelling it correctly?) are providing the temptation with which I can lure you there. Please come.

General Idea's AIDS Sculpture

I am up in Toronto for a few days for the International AIDS Conference, along with 24,000 other people. The conference was kicked off last Saturday with the "unveiling" of the General Idea AIDS sculpture, which was originally made in 1991, along with the opening of an AIDS-related film festival, both at the Royal Ontario Museum.

The ceremony was much better attended than I would have imagined, especially there was a lot of press, and a lot of very young press. Ron Rosenes, the co-chair of the Toronto Host for the Conference, introduced the sculpture to the crowds. I used to know Ron peripherally in the early 80s as a friend of a friend (he was the "queen of retail"), so it is odd and somehow satisfying to see him in this capacity 25 years later. He is very good at it.

The sculpture had been tied up with a red ribbon, and the two actresses from that night's film, 3 Needles, cut the ribbons. Here they are afterwards, along with the film-maker and me: left to right Thom Fitzgerald, Olympia Dukakis, myself (unflattering angle!) and Sandra Oh.

The idea of the sculpture, originally commissioned by the City of Hamburg, was that graffitti and posters could collect on it, leaving evidence of it as the site of a dialogue. Unfortunately, the graffitti was cleaned off at some point (by an anally retentive museum), and only a little has begun to collect again. So please feel free to drop by the corner of Bloor and Queen's Park and add a little more.

This morning I noticed, in large black writing on the sculpture: "Stephen Harper, you shame us!". (The current Prime Minister of Canada refused to come to the opening of the conference, while the leaders of all the other parties were there, along with Bill Clinton, Richard Gere and Bill Gates).

Sleepless nights

More sleepless nights. Why?

Yesterday was the 12-year anniversary of Jorge's death... I tend to get discombobulated for about two weeks before, like a full moon approaching, but worse. This year was no exception.

For some years after Jorge died, I had no sense of his presence at all, whereas Felix seemed to hang around for quite awhile, if only to make sure I did things the way he wanted. But now that Felix is long gone, Jorge's presence has returned. I am quite aware of him these days, and that surprises me.

Election results

The most notable thing about the Canadian election results, from my vantage here in New York, was how invisible they were. Not one person at work commented on them, for example. Not a surprise really. They probably didn't even know they had happened.

I was also interested in the commentary in the American media, brief as it was. The Wall Street Journal and the Times both quoted the White House official reaction. The Wall Street Journal pointed out that the Conservatives had made significant inroads "across the country", whereas Toronto's Globe & Mail (who actually supported the Conservatives this time round) pointed out that "the Conservatives were shut out of Canada's three biggest cities."

More than anything, I was happy to see the diversity of parties across Canada. I love to see the smaller (and larger!) parties morphing in various ways over the years. I noted with glee that this year the Marijuana Party garnered almost 8% of the vote in Nunavut, even beating out the Green Party!

As always, the best election coverage is at Rick Mercer Report.

In response to a request from paulintoronto

Mark and I went to Palm Springs for a holiday. We arrived on Christmas Eve and Mark stayed until New Year's Day; I stayed a week longer.

We stayed at a gay resort called Mirage, or perhaps it had another name, I am not sure. It was a little enclave of several resorts that had been cobbled together over the years. The suites had at one time been small one-story apartments gathered about swimming pools, and had been remodeled into a sort of escapist fantasy: three swimming pools, three hot tubs, a water fall (with flames coming out of it at night), a steam room, lush tropical gardens, and all of it clothing optional.

On the way to Palm Springs—via Dallas, for some reason—my throat began to act up, and by Christmas morning I was in the emergency room of the local hospital. My abscess of the throat had flared up again.

Luckily I had caught it in time, and with a prescription in hand we continued our holiday. Two days later we ended back there again: Mark had severe sinusitis, and my throat was still not responding properly. Luckily it was a nice little hospital with a handsome bearish doctor and a similarly attractive male nurse.

Except for a day in Joshua Tree National Park (which was glorious), we spent most of our time at the resort, lying around the pool, reading or just vegetating. Our quarters were not what we had hoped. We had booked a one-bedroom with a full kitchen with the thought of indulging in lots of cooking. But the sink had no hot water, and there was only one fork and three mismatched knives, a small pot with its lid missing, a plastic ice bucket with two lids, and a smallish frying pan that had seen better days. Obviously this was a room to microwave in, not cook. The bedroom had a view into a kind of alleyway where they kept cleaning supplies and trash. A thin connecting door to the next suite let us know when the neighbors were having sex, or just watching one of the three channels of porn.

I fretted for days over whether to cut my trip short and return with Mark. The holiday would cost me more money than I could really afford, and I didn't want to stay in that suite alone. On the other hand I knew that I needed a kind of retreat, a time to do nothing. And as strange as it might seem, this place was perfect for just that. I loved the gardens, and although the rather clean-cut L.A. crowd was not to my taste, it still had some range in ages, from late twenties to sixties, and I was relieved to not be the oldest one there.

As luck would have it, an "executive suite" opened up, and I ended up in a rambling apartment with a sort of early seventies Egyptoid/Deco decor, obviously designed for porno shoots. The kitchen was equipped with everything I could have wanted, but now didn't. as I was alone. The television had an extra bonus channel of porn, and the lighting featured coy down-lights that showed well from the gardens. The apartment had three entrances on three exposures, for quick getaways. Unfortunately, I did not have a camera with me. A video camera would have been best.

The week after New Year's Day, the clientele completely changed. The crowd thinned out, and "locals" began to populate the pool area: it seemed that locals were invited to use the grounds free of charge, presumably if they met muster. It was then that I realized that many of the men around the pool were also featured on the porno channels, and in fact many of the videos had been made on those very grounds.

The "locals" tended to be guys with muscles, tattoos and big dicks, the kind of guys who sit on the edge of the hot tub, rather than in it, so that you can admire their equipment. They were of a variety of ages and I realized that gay porn had aged along with the baby boomers... and some of these guys were getting on in years. It was also clear that size-enhancing drugs were popular.

By the time my stay was coming to an end, I was ready to leave. On the last day, my friend Justin turned up and we drove around the city looking for fifties modernism, a fun and easy task. (I didn't mention the architectural tour that Mark and I went on, which was really great. Now I was trying to remember where my favorite houses were, a group of steel and glass Alexander model homes from the early seventies that were never put into production, because the price of steel went up. They were designed to be erected in a few hours each.)

Of course I forgot to mention our rocky getaway: box cutters were found in my backpack and the Homeland Security people were called (is that what happened to that knife!). On the way home, after lengthy delays, my luggage was lost, or so it seemed. In fact it had been seized by homeland security again. They had even opened up a jar of marmalade I had packed away (don't ask!) and stirred around the contents, leaving big black thumbprints on the jar: needless to say I threw that marmalade away!

AA Bronson at the New School

My public discussion of my healing practice (as healing and as art) has been rescheduled for this coming Saturday at the New School.

As part of the project, I have given 9 free one-on-one healing sessions, which I have documented. I will not be showing the documentation at the event, but the knowledge of those sessions, the fact that the recipients may or may not be present for the discussion, and may or may not speak up, all inform the discussion itself.

My apologies to everyone who showed up last time, only to discover that I was in the hospital!

Here is the announcement:

On Healing and Memory-AA Bronson in conversation with Gregg Bordowitz and Elizabeth A. Povinelli

Rescheduled for
Saturday, December 3, 2005, 4 - 5:30PM, followed by a reception
The New School, Wollman Hall
66 West 12th Street, 4th floor
New York City
Admission: $8, free for students with valid ID (see ticket info below)

My practice starts with my hands. When I put my hands on your body, I get information. That's where I begin, with my hands on your body on my massage table. We talk. I get an idea of you and your energy and your particular needs; a sort of psychic reading. (AA Bronson)

A unique opportunity to hear one of the great figures of American conceptual art, and to have his practice illuminated by one of the key critics of the genre, Gregg Bordowitz. Eminent anthropologist Elizabeth A. Povinelli will offer a reprise of their conversation that will touch on death, memory and healing.

# # #

A founding member of the legendary Canadian art group General Idea, AA Bronson began his training as a healer in 1989, when his two partners in General Idea, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal, were first diagnosed with AIDS. His intention was to act as a kind of midwife to the dying. Five years after their death in 1994, Bronson started to exhibit again, now under his own name. By 2003, he was incorporating his work as a healer back into his artwork, with exhibitions at Galerie Frederic Giroux in Paris (2003) and John Connelly Presents in New York (2004), and in his performance "Butt Massage Demonstration" the same year. His work has also been seen at the Vienna Secession, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the List Visual Arts Center at MIT, and the Power Plant in Toronto.

Gregg Bordowitz is a writer, film and video maker. He teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is the author of "The AIDS Crisis Is Ridiculous" (among other publications). Elizabeth A. Povinelli is a Professor of Anthropology at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Columbia University and is Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Culture.

Organized by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School, on occasion of its year-long event cycle "Considering Forgiveness."

LOCATION: The New School, 66 West 12th Street (Bet. 5th & 6th Aves), New York

TICKETS: Make your reservation by email to: boxoffice@newschool.edu. Tickets can be ordered by phone with a credit card (212) 229-5488; in person at The New School Box Office, 66 West 12th Street, main floor, Monday-Thursday 1-8 p.m., Friday 1-7 p.m.

INFORMATION: 212.229.5353, specialprograms@newschool.edu, www.generalstudies.newschool.edu/specialprograms

Hospital visit

I was let out of the hospital last night. I have been there since last Thursday.

Last Wednesday morning, I awoke to find that I could not eat and could drink only small mouthfuls and with great difficulty. I spent the day in bed. That night I had alternating fevers and chills, and the next morning still could not eat or drink.

By mid-afternoon I was finally motivated to call my doctor, who sent me instantly to a throat specialist, Dr. Leibowitz. This doctor examined me for a few minutes, explained what he could see, and what he could not, and sent me immediately to emergency. He was afraid that my breathing would soon be blocked as well.

In fact, this must have been quite serious. I did not have to wait in emergency but was wisked straight inside, and spent the next 10 hours there. I must admit, I loved the emergency room at NYU Medical Center. The staff was uniformly young, smart, sassy and sexy, and there was lots of back-talk and an amazingly high but good-natured energy (it was a full moon too, I later realized). I had a delightful nurse and a cute and thoughtful Doctor.

After a battery of tests, including a CATSCAN, they decided that I had an abcess of the throat, a rather strange one, sort of worm-shaped, that wound itself around my neck, and had become badly infected. In addition, the entire throat area itself, my voicebox and so on, were also badly infected.

They transferred me to my next hospital experience, the post-op ward.

The post-op ward held four beds and a nurse's station. The four of us were wired up to various monitoring apparatuses, and the room itself had a wall of glass with a glorious and panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline, from the Chrysler Building to the UN Building. Although I was not post-op, I guess they wanted to monitor me closely. I was very happy to be here, I loved the post-war modernist interior and the view. I also loved the other inhabitants, especially a Sikh holy man, with a saffron turban ("I just lie here. I am a man of the Light.") Immediately opposite him was a CEO-type, who kept his curtain carefully arranged to block any view of the Sikh (He found the Sikh too "noisy", he confessed to his wife, who was about 30 years younger than him.)

Here I was put on intravenous steroids, to bring the swelling down, and then eventually on intravenous antibiotic. After about 24 hours I was declared fit to move to a "standard" ward.

Not quite standard, though. Perhaps because of the enormous quantities of anti-biotic that were being dumped through my system, I was transferred to the transplant department. Here I was given an extraordinarily dim and cramped space in a room with a young black man who seemed to be attempting to recreate his teenage bedroom. He played music videos nonstop night and day and had the curtain wrapped around his bed so that I couldn't see the daylight (he had the window side). He was HIV positive, had a major kidney problem, and this was his "first" infection.

Luckily I managed to have myself transferred to an empty room, where I stayed until Sunday night. Although Mark had been visiting all along, and then my friend Chrysanne, now Tim and Richard came too... I only regretted that they didn't get to see the post-op ward!

I was let out eventually with the warning that I might still need another CATSCAN, and if the results are not good, may have to have surgery. The doctors are confident that the infection in the throat will disappear (after 10 more days of antibiotic pills, I would be surprised if it did not), but the abcess itself could wall up, and infection could be protected inside.

I suspect that the "panic attack" that I reported here a few weeks back was in fact a small advance attack of the infected abcess, not a panic attack at all!