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The Banal and the Profane: Michael Broder

The Banal and the Profane: Michael Broder

Author: William Johnson

May 13, 2015

“The Black Party was pretty great—a big space with machine-generated fog and deep house music, filled with all sorts of men, including many beautiful ones, wearing very little clothing, dancing, having sex, taking drugs (of which we did not partake), etc.”

“The Banal and the Profane” is a monthly Lambda Literary column in which we lift the veil on both the writerly life and the publishing industry. In each installment, we ask a different LGBT writer, or LGBT person of interest in the book industry, to guide us through a week in their lives.

This month’s  “Banal and Profane” column comes to us from poet Michael Broder.

Michael Broder is the author of This Life Now (A Midsummer Night’s Press), a finalist for the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming inAmerican Poetry ReviewAnimalAssaracus, BLOOM, Court Green, Columbia Poetry Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and other journals, as well as in a number of anthologies. He lives in Brooklyn with his husband, the poet Jason Schneiderman, and a backyard colony of feral cats.


Unless otherwise indicated, the “we” in these entries refers to my husband, the poet Jason Schneiderman, and me.

Sunday, March 22.

We got to the Black Party at about 1am last night. It was our first time going to the Black Party, and the first time the Black Party was in Brooklyn—at a warehouse space about eight blocks from our house in Bed-Stuy, no less. We went to The Leatherman earlier in the month and got our first crop of leather gear. We got me a harness (they make those at the shop), Corcoran boots and a Nasty Pig jock. The jock has a deep red quilted pouch that gives the whole skimpy black outfit just the touch of color it needs.

The Black Party was pretty great—a big space with machine-generated fog and deep house music, filled with all sorts of men, including many beautiful ones, wearing very little clothing, dancing, having sex, taking drugs (of which we did not partake), etc. But we stayed longer that we really wanted to, because we went our separate ways, did not make a good rendezvous plan and spent the last two hours just trying to find each other. As I say, it was our first Black Party, but I should add that experienced partygoers insist that this incarnation was a so-so affair at best and pales in comparison to the glory days of the Black Party at Roseland, which unfortunately closed its doors for good in 2014.

We finally left at about 9am. We slept for several hours, then had brunch at Le Paris Dakar, a local Senegalese crêperie, where we did the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle, as is our weekend wont.

When we got back to the house, our new washer-dryer was installed and I was able to wash knits for the first time since January 5, when we started a major gut renovation on the garden level of our apartment to fit a new kitchen and dining area.

I was grateful for our designer and our contractors and the renovation. Grateful for what a beautiful clear sunny day it was. Grateful for lack of sleep from a night of debauchery rather than from insomnia secondary to depression and anxiety, from which I suffered throughout 2014; more about that later.

Monday, March 23, 2015.

Back to the work week. I’m a freelance medical writer. Sometimes, I feel more like a freelance medical copy-and-paster, because a lot of what I do is taking content about a drug brand created by an advertising agency and repurposing it for one or another of the online platforms I freelance for. I don’t love it, but it pays the mortgage. And the health insurance. And the renovation costs. Well, no, actually, to fund the renovation, we refinanced the house. But this is supposed to be about this week, not ancient history, so enough about that.

Today, I got my tax identification number for Indolent Enterprises, LLC, the company I just started as the legal entity for my new small poetry press, Indolent Books. The focus of Indolent Books is publishing the work of talented poets who somehow managed to make it to the age of fifty or forty or maybe even just thirty without publishing a first collection. It’s not the age that’s key so much as it is a certain personality type, people who are not the best schmoozers or networkers or self-promoters, not as ambitious or focused as some other people, but who still do really good work. I want to be their publisher. At least for starters. I’m sure Indolent will change as it grows. But before it grows, it needs to be born, and I’d say right now, it’s still in the gestational phase.

I saw my therapist in the afternoon. Along with the psychotropic meds, psychotherapy is one of the approaches I’m taking to getting beyond the mood issues I suffered from throughout 2014.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

 I saw my psychotropic medicine man today, my shrinko-pharmacologist, my shrinky-dink. (He’s a psychiatrist, which is different from my aforementioned psychotherapist, who is a social worker). He said that my Celexa is at a good dose, and I should take my Klonopin down to 1/4 mg nightly. After seeing him, I spent the afternoon at the Think Coffee café at the LGBT Community Center in the West Village, where they have free Wi-Fi and I can stay as long as I want, drinking decaf soy lattes and working on my computer, a little medical writing, a little stuff for Indolent, a little checking of Facebook and chatting on gay social media, a.k.a. hookup sites, mostly Scruff, sometimes Adam4Adam or Yes, I know, you’re wondering—open relationship? Safer sex? Stay tuned. All will be revealed. Well, some will be revealed.

In the evening, I attended a meeting of the Red Ribbon Committee of my synagogue, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST), the LGBTQ synagogue in New York City. I’m the committee co-chair. As the name suggests, we work on HIV-related issues within the congregation, including issues of stigma, visibility, prevention and services. It’s a new committee. For years, in the 1980s and ‘90s, AIDS dominated the life of the congregation—home visits, hospital visits, hospice visits, funerals, memorials. It’s estimated that a third of the membership died of AIDS during that period. Now, almost twenty years into the era of effective treatment, HIV and AIDS receive much less attention at CBST, except for the annual World AIDS Day Shabbat service. That service tends to look backward and memorialize the dead, which is important. But a lot of us are living with HIV now, and a lot of our younger members are probably getting newly infected with HIV. We need to stop thinking of AIDS as part of the past only and develop a congregational response to HIV in the here and now.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015.

Happy birthday to me! Fifty-four years old today. We saw the wonderful production of The Heidi Chronicles on Broadway tonight. Pre-theater dinner at Junior’s (John’s Shanghai, the awesome Chinese place on West 46th Street where we were planning to have dinner, had suddenly and unexpectedly gone! closed! for good!), and our favorite red velvet cheesecake from Junior’s after, which we took home and ate while watching an episode of The Comeback. Then, Jason, an English professor at a local community college, graded papers until 3am, but I went right to bed way before.

Thursday, March 26, 2015.

I got 151 happy birthday messages on Facebook yesterday, which was very sweet.

Today was all about illness. A bronchial infection had been creeping up on me, and I called the nurse at my primary care doctor’s office and discussed my symptoms, and she wrote me a prescription for azithromycin. Had it phoned into a Duane Reade near the office of the sports medicine doctor I’m seeing today for that awful pain in my right heel, which I assume is some sort of tendonitis but turns out to be plantar fasciitis, for which he refers me to a podiatrist whom I’ll see in a few days. Then, I go to the pharmacy to pick up not only my antibiotic, but also my new Klonopin and Celexa prescriptions from the shrinky-dink.

Really nice day, otherwise. After the pharmacy, I went to Think Coffee at the Center, where I worked until it was time to go meet my friend J. for dinner. J. and I are friends from the doctoral program that I finished in 2010 and he’s finishing up now. At one point, he saw my phone light up, and since I was expecting a text from Jason about whether he wanted me to bring dinner home for him, J. pointed it out to me. I checked my phone and said, “No, it’s not Jason, it’s just Twitter and Scruff.” And he said, “Scruff? What are you doing on Scruff?”

And that was the moment I came clean. J. and I have been friends for years, but I’d never told him about that part of my life. At first I just told him that Jason and I were open. But I’ve always suffered from a bit of logorrhea, and before he knew it, I was telling him all about my life as a sub bottom pig slut cum-dump. Bare-backing. Having sex with poz guys on meds and neg guys on PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). Being into the dom/sub scene. I was glad that that was finally all out there. J. asked, “Why didn’t you tell me this years ago?” But I didn’t think he realized how much he’d changed over the ten years I’ve known him. He was a mere sapling when we first met, and very modest, and not even public about his gayness, which he now advertises quite…flamboyantly?…with a luxurious mane of curly dark locks that he takes every opportunity to flick Cher-style. I don’t think he would have been comfortable hearing about all of this once upon a time. But now, it was fine and, if anything, it brought us closer together by eliminating this last vestige of secrecy. Well, on my part, at least. I still know nothing about his sex life! Well, that’s not entirely true. But this is my Banal and Profane, not his, so that’s enough about that.

Friday, March 27, 2015.

My regular morning routine: coffee, feed kitties (a feral mom and her four feral sons who live in our backyard), journal entry, take Celexa and thyroid medication, do Lumosity brain training (at my age, I need to stave off that senile dementia), check email, check Facebook, maybe post a status update.

On Friday afternoons, I meet my poetry friend L. for poetry lunch at a café-bar-restaurant in Boerum Hill. We eat lunch, drink coffee and either write poems, talk about poems, or both, depending on which Friday of the month it is. L. is one of the inspirations for Indolent Books. She’s about my age and a really good poet, with an MFA no less, but she has only published a few poems in journals and has not published a collection. I want to change that, for L. and for all of the “Indolents” of the world.

On Friday evenings, we usually go to Kabbalat Shabbat (Sabbath eve) services at CBST, but tonight, we had tickets for the Broadway musical On the Twentieth Century, a Roundabout Theatre production (we subscribe). It was a great show and marked the return to form (is that too catty?) of Kristin Chenoweth, whom we loved in the 2007 revival of The Apple Tree, but who was pretty awful in the 2010 revival of Promises, Promises (although Christopher Isherwood in the New York Times insists that that was the fault of the production, not Chenoweth).

Saturday, March 28, 2015.

Another Saturday, another Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle, which we generally do on Saturdays because we get it a day early with home delivery. Rest of the day: rather uneventful. But this evening, we went to Brüt, a monthly gay dance party at Santos Party House on Lafayette Street in Tribeca. Thought there would be sex so I got good and prepped. But it wasn’t that kind of party. In fact, the staff polices for sex pretty strictly, running around with these flashlights and poking them into every nook and cranny. Some people, of course, still managed to have sex. Let me say no more out of respect for the privacy of others, but it wasn’t me. So all my prep was for naught. Fine, it wasn’t that kind of party, I’ll know better for next time, if there is a next time. We didn’t actually enjoy it all that much. And I would not even have worn my jock if I’d known I wasn’t going to get fucked.

Well, that’s going a bit far: I look really cute in my jock and would probably have worn it, anyway.

William Johnson photo

About: William Johnson

William Johnson is the former Deputy Director of Lambda Literary.

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