Musings & Adventures

Modern gaybars: what they tell me about the bullshit siddhartha said goodbye to

[Flashback: I tapped this into my phone on Feb 6 2009 while out drinking & clubbing in London. I’ve fixed it for grammar before posting.]

What modern gaybars tell us me about the bullshit siddhartha said goodbye to:

• material perfection is not a remedy for dissatisfaction
• loneliness & craving run rampant in the midst of plenty
• hope & fear manifest very differently when you have no reason to really harbor fear
• all things are impermanent. this too shall pass, and it won’t be all bad

At least in the west, people tend to take for granted that siddartha was right, more accurately righteous, when he walked away from princedom. I think this is partially a defense tactic. By accepting it carte blanche we avoid internalizing the convictions he was actually acting upon.

The potency of the theravadin view lies in acknowledging that the Buddha was born a man. An extraordinary man, a blessed man, but nonetheless a man no different from yourself. Remembering this presses us challenge ourselves, our hopes, our fears, our convictions and our deepest habits.

Tonight I’m sitting in the middle of XXL, also known ad Fat Club. It’s one of London’s hottest gay bars. There have been easily over 1000 people through the doors tonight. All of them gay, all of them men, most of them looking for sex, and all of them understanding the fundamental premise of this place: take what you want, so long as you’re bold enough to do so.

In short, I sit in the midst of a (gay) hedonist paradise. Future nostalgists and those who live under more oppressive constraints will inevitably project special qualities onto scenes like this. Indeed, I did so when I was a fledgeling ‘mo in then-small Minneapolis. Allow me to proclaim, admittedly from a position of privilege, that it’s not all it’s worked up to be.

If anything, this scene feels like a study in the natural unquenchability of pure desire. Here each man stands with his body’s desires mere heartbeats away yet the underlying tone of the place is one of unrest and striving. Those who do quench their craving tonight will return soon. If not here then somewhere else, if not seeking sex then seeking some other satisfaction. Each time life rises to meet our wishes, we either turn to loftier aspirations or we lock onto the experience as an ideal that we will ever seek to regain Either way, the cycle continues.

Hope & Fear

Once upon a time; oft upon a place, a gay man had reason to fear repercussions for seeking fulfilment of his natural impulses. Here & now, that fear would be completely baseless. Nonetheless, hope & fear still dominate nearly every interaction. Why?

This too shall pass. Sometime, some place, the burdens of social conservatism will again descend upon us. I wonder, will it be all bad?

Musings & Adventures

Acquiring great street food in London

The most fundamental rule when acquiring street food anywhere: get it when it’s fresh. Minimize bacterial growth by minimizing the time
between the fryer and your gullet.

How to apply this rule in London or anywhere in the UK:

Go out drinking in a place where there are lots of young people partying. Drink at a destination that is 1) busy and 2) at least six
blocks from your nearest mass transit depot. Get pissed with your friends and head towards the mass transit depot at traditional closing time (12:00 am in London), not at club closing time (about 3:00 am in London). Walk to your destination via the most populace route possible. Along the way, you are nearly guaranteed to encounter multiple “chip shops” or “kebab shops”.  They are very likely to be selling doner. Choose the shop with either a) the biggest crowd, b) the most people working behind the counter, or c) the least meat remaining on the doner spit.  Give preference to places that sell “chips” over places that sell “french fries”.

You know you’ve hit the jackpot if the fryer is in constant use and the people running the counter are so efficient that you feel like you are on a conveyor belt rather while the food is being prepared with practiced skill.

As always, you should see all of your food prepared in front of you. 

In London, it seems customary to eat street food on buses but not on the tube . Never leave garbage on mass transit here. Take it with you and drop it in one of the trash bins on the street.

I personally enjoy a small chicken doner with chips. I ask for everything (all of the “salad”) on the doner with no hot sauce. Vinegar, salt and ketchup are essential on chips.