Oct 7, 2008

Smashing Pumpkins

Halloween is the essential gay holiday. I think its because of the dress up thing - every queen is an Actress at heart, and a role is a role, no matter how small. Halloween parties are fun because everyone there is playing an archetype. Which IMHO is what everyone is doing 24/7 ANYWAY, but at a Halloween party it's all right out in the open! Thinking back over a few of my more memorable costumes, I've been an alien robot as a child, a bee, a soldier in high heels (my feet swore "Never again!") One year a friend and I went as Mummies (you know, sexy mummies...) He was a recovering Mormon, so we were some crazy Egyptian/Aztec duo, or something.

Thanks to the House of Vader, (which is doing one Halloween post a day 'til the Great Pumpkin Day), I watched Disney's version of the Hudson River classic: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It's a tale of two men in competition for a wealthy and beautiful woman - in other words - the story of Troy and the War of Heaven all over again. This little coquet is named Katrina, and her charms sweep like a hurricane through tiny Sleepy Hollow, devastating every male. The competition eventually thins to two suiters - Ichabod Crane, the physically awkward but socially elegant schoolteacher, and Abraham "Brom Bones" Van Brunt, his polar opposite.

You might say that Ichabod represents the lofty head of science, learning, social graces and artistic skill (the left brain), while Brom represents the head down under - the swaggering rogue with bone (the right brain). We know from the very start of this competition that Katrina has already chosen Brom, but she uses Ichabod as a foil - to make Brom prove his love. Brom devises a plan (uses his head) to scare the shit out of Ichabod, appearing as the headless horseman. Brom lures Ichabod into his realm - the right brain, with a frightening ghost story. Ichabod, being easily frightened (as the left, ego-centric brain always is) soon finds himself mired in the dream-like dark forest of Imagination Land, where everything symbolizes something else.

It is there that Ichabod meets the headless horseman, holding a flaming pumpkin aloft for a head! He chases the schoolmaster, threatening him with a great sword, desiring his decapitation! Ichabod (ego) flees, and as he crosses the bridge (the Corpus Callosum, Rainbow Bridge, Stargate etc.) to left brain safety - where the headless horseman cannot cross - the flaming pumpkin is hurled across the bridge, straight at Ichabod.

In the morning, Ichabod (the egoic brain) has disappeared, leaving behind a smashed pumpkin on the road. Brom Bones marries Katrina (Grail signifier) and Ichabod is never heard from again.

As a tall and awkwardly skinny teenager, I always identified with Ichabod - I think plenty of gay men do. Yet gay porn is full of Brom Bones, not Ichabods, and I think we see Katrina's side - a hunk is a hunk - and all the art in the Louvre is still a poor substitute. Yet a brute is just a brute, and it seem to me that a civilized brute is what grrrlz really want...

I think gay men are attempting this bridging between heads. I am privileged to follow several gay bloggers who alternate posts of profound intellectual insight with posts of profound turpitude. We're getting our heads together!

Manhattan is a rather excellent metaphor of this bridging - or was. Before the clean up, it was a city brimming with sexual danger and artistic virtuosity - Oscar Wilde in a sling - hot!

Sleepy Hollow is a Dutch (Netherlands) settlement, as was Manhattan. Netherlands = "underland", which is close enough to the land down under to make the point. Amsterdam is also well-known as a sexual "crossroads" - another town of canals (rivers) and bridges.

Men At Work: The Land Down Under

I come from a land down under, Where women glow and men plunder! Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder? You better run, You better take cover!


FilmNoir23 said...

Sleepy Hollow, NY is also home to the Rockefeller Archive Center.

Anonymous said...

turpitude is a new word for me and I really like the use of the word foil, I remember that from math class.

Manhattan is an old Indian word for Man's Hunting Ground. Broadway, also, which is the high ground running directly north, so the Hunters could see into each valley at their side. The Indians did not live in Manhattan but rather in Brooklyn, where they had farmlands. Flatbush is the path from the farm lands of Long Island where the Hunters would cross in canoe at the point of the Brooklyn Bridge.

I want to dress up, but probably won't. There's a Halloween Parade in the West Village, Manhattan.

Michael said...

Todd - that's quite interesting. I have a feeling that Washington Irving was a Freemason, but it's just a feeling. In any case, a fascinating guy.

James - thanks for the Manhattan background.

Anadæ said...

It just doesn't stop once you're keyed-in, does it? I'm racially mixed with the Aquehung, a word pronounced ah-kay-WUNG, meaning People of the High Bluffs, the original name for the Bronx River, a nation-tribe no longer extant. Next? Sleepy Hollow is home of the Lyndhurst estate, prominently featured in the horror films "House of Dark Shadows" and its parallel universe tale of ill-aspected couples, "Night of Dark Shadows", the pool house where (in the former tale, not the latter one) Caroline, as the recently turned vampiress, attempts to turn David Collins, is currently undergoing renovations. Remember the Moonie cult of the Rev. Sun Nyung Moon? Well, he's the next-door neighbor. Three of his sons are currently building a new commercial investment, Ridge Hill Village, in Yonkers, overlooking the NY state thruway & Tuckahoe Road (named after yet another Native American nation-tribe), all just stone's throws from the great Hudson River. Next to even Moon's property lies the estate of Washington Irving's Sunnydale, which plays host to annual Hallowe'en retellings & family dress-up days, yay! Hello? Buffy the Vampire Slayer's fictitious town's name, a veritable Hell-mouth of all kinds of demonic pedigrees' activity, bears a similar name, Sunnyvale. In Tim Burton's version of the Washington Irving yarn, beautifully photographed to exude a creepy ambience, Christopher Walken's depiction as the gourd-headed phantasm aspects short, spiky hair, a cleanshaven countenance, and teeth filed into points, not at all as a German Hessian soldier would've looked. Well, speaking of pates, mine's spinning with all of these synchros. Sir, I must take my leave hence. Have a great Samhain, bud!


Anadæ said...

Correction: my Buffy aficianado pal, Dead Mom over on Vampire Freaks (dot) com (thanks, Mary Ann) tells me that the Irving estate AND Buffy's little hamlet of supernatural happenings share the exact same moniker, Sunnydale. Time to dust off that all-musical episode, "Once More, With Feeling!" and whip up some mulled cider for those chilly (and chilling, mroo-hoo-hoo-hah-hah-haaaaah!) evenings, kiddies!

Michael said...

Anadae (my keyboard doesn't make that connected ae thing...) - Some great Sleepy Hollow synchs! Even the full Moonies. Yea, I noticed the Sunnydale thing also, thanks for tying it Buffy. I've often called Kirkland "Sunnydale North". IMHO, anyplace where the myths and symbols break out of the "underworld" of the dreaming mind and manifest in strange and disquieting ways is rightly called a hellmouth.

Esperanto Grrl said...

Those Disney shorts are amazing. The "Little Hiawatha" got me to read Longfellow's original poem, which is my favorite book to this day.

The Hudson River Valley is one of the most beautiful and weirdest places in the entire world, and I'd love to retire there, and able to go into the city by train on the weekends.

In regards to your comment about how all women want a brute that women tame with love, I'm inclined to think that you're right and that's a fantasy with a lot of power for women. Every girl thinks they can "change" a bad boy or an animal and have them show a different side.

In fact, one story I've always thought as having lots of sexual power is Tarzan. Here's a wild man (appropriately beardless and godlike) that is squeezed into a suit and a haircut by love of a woman. You could fill a library with all the romance novels that are a variation of Tarzan.

I guess the desire here is to have a man that is valorous and dangerous, but to "settle" them and turn them away from a dangerous life. But if the shit hits the fan, he can still save you and the kids.

I was just thinking about the common female fantasy of cops or firefighters - alpha males. In Roman times, women used to coo over gladiators, even if they were ugly, but just because of their "dangerous" job.

As for me, I personally like big handsome brutes, but it's interesting how the majority of my dating history has been skinny hipster intellectual types I can connect to.

In fact, I have a feeling my tastes are duplicated among other women. A very common type of romance novel has this basic plot: a heroine crashes on an island with a goofy nerd, who rises to the occasion and protects her (and in the process gets all hot and suntanned and buff).

One characteristic of female romance fantasies that men don't understand is the capacity for disassociation. I personally fantasize about muscle studs and Tarzan, but date Topher Grace types. Just because a woman has a fantasy doesn't mean she'd want it in real life.

In that sense, it isn't really a conflict, just like you can drive a Honda for the gas mileage but dream about a Lamborghini Countach. And if I was Ichabod's gal, I'd go for him. Especially if he's played by Johnny Depp.

Michael said...

E Grrl - thanks for commenting. I was kinda thinking about you when I was posting this.

The Tarzan archetype runs deep. I used to love EGB novels. I have a great story about Tarzan:

I was on holiday in Costa Rica, and I befriended some classic A-gay California boys, one of which was especially prime beefcake. I wasn't even close to any of their league, but they invited me on a river rafting "expedition" of a Costa Rica river, probably because they needed a fourth. Anyway, it was a fabulous trip, full of waterfalls, orchids and a few dangerous rocks. Our guide quickly called the buff one "Tarzan", and he loved it, but truth be told, Tarzan was all looks, and no action. When we needed a strong arm at the paddle, he was NOT it. He paddled like a girl, no offense. So I'm the skinny geek with glasses, paddling my heart out, because I'm the only one on board (besides the guide) who seems to understand that this is not just a Disney ride and that a capsize is something we REALLY want to avoid. In other words, posers are great, but they are WORTHLESS if they can't back it up!

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