I just watched the Buena Vista Social Club film by Wim Wenders. It sure does make a lot of political statements without ever making a stated political statement. The look on the faces of those aging Cuban musicians as they see the lights of New York City for the first time is sure an uplifting moment, unless you think America is the source of all evil in the world, I guess.
My first visit to New York City was not so pleasant. It was around 1980 and I was up there showing some documentary films at the Margaret Mead Film Festival at the Smithsonian. I had been in big cities before, but this sure was the damnedest place I'd ever seen. It must have been in the fall, 'cause there was a lot of interest in the baseball pennant races. I sat in a bar one afternoon and watched the Yankees play, and there must have been a hundred faces smushed against the window at any given minute, just to catch the score on the TV.
I was staying in a hotel near Central Park, and the last night I was there it was raining like crazy. I'd been partying pretty good for a few days in a row, so I was in the mood to just cool down that night and get home the next day. The rain let up for a bit, and I went to find the nearest bar to have a couple of beers and get some dinner before an early bedtime.
I found a little neighborhood bar not far from the hotel, and settled into a bar stool. There were 2 guys, around my age, who both appeared to be working there. And there was one girl playing pinball. They all seemed to know each other, and I appeared to be the only buying customer. It was around 7 PM.
The rain picked back up just as I got comfortable, and it was a the type of rain where the drops seem as big as marbles. You know that kind of hard, hard rain? I'm from the South, and these folks were getting a big kick out of my accent. The 2 guys, in particular, seemed to just be having a ball listening to me say anything. They seemed like nice folks, so I didn't mind. After a while, I wound up in the back playing pinball with the girl. I was single at the time. So was she, it seemed.
Then one of the guys said, "Why don't we just close this place down and go have some fun? No one's coming in here in this rain tonight." They asked the girl if she wanted to go, and she said yes. Then they asked me if I'd like to go, too. I'd had exactly one too many beers to say no. So we get a cab and they tell the driver to take us to The Main Man. I'm not thinking about anything but the rain. He drives for a while and then pulls into a dark alley and lets us out. We go into this club, and I immediately realize what's happened. These 2 guys start kissing each other, and I notice that the walls of this dank dive are covered with giant pictures of guys enjoying each other's company way too much. Boners akimbo.
So, here I am. I don't know the location of this place. It's raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock outside. It's late at night. And several guys in this place are looking at me in a way that I'm not quite used to.
The only female in the place is the girl who came with us. Obviously what you'd call a fag hag, I guess. But, luckily, she took a form of pity on me and apologized for what had happened. She suggested I call a cab and we went to the back and played pinball until the cab came.
Now, what lessons did I get from this experience? First of all, I learned that you can't trust people as much as you sometimes want to. Second of all, I realized how deeply folks from where I live must annoy some Yankees. Third, I learned that homosexuals aren't all nice, touchy-feely folks, like Hollywood wants you to believe. These were some evil bastards who put me in that very uncomfortable situation, and it reinforced a lot of negative feelings which I had been trying to overcome around that time.
Thanks for the fucking, guys.