Thursday, December 28, 2017

Jason Gould: Dangerous Man? Maybe. Maybe Not.



If ever a man was entitled to leave a media footprint, then Jason Gould’s remarkable talents would make it so. If ever a man was entitled to sip from the often poisoned chalice of fame and celebrity then that dubious honor would fall to Jason Gould before many others. Strange then, that we know so little of Jason Gould the artist. Or the man for that matter.

While Gould’s body of work thus far is too sparse to sustain fandomania - gay or otherwise – he has created earnestly, albeit on his own dabbling terms. In doing so he has dropped many clues of a road hard traveled as a gay man. Some time has passed since that intense boy with the violin piqued my attention in a clip from 1991's “The Prince of Tides”, and his just-released album “Dangerous Man”. In between there’s his triple-threat short feature “Inside Out” and a 2012 EP song folio which certainly proved that the boy can sing and write. Intriguing then, is just what kind of first album he'll present at age 50, as representative of a musical vision.



Jason Gould: more prodigy than prodigious.
Producer Quincy Jones isn't likely to waste his expertise on an album for an unimportant talent or his art: "Q"s diverse artist roster ranges from Sinatra to Ray Charles to Michael Jackson. For Jason Gould, he eschews current pop sensibility and dance beats in favor of something far more sympathetic to an essentially introspective artist.

“Dangerous Man” isn’t just another gay singer/songwriter strutting his stuff for the masses. Or for a  cabaret audience either. He sings with elan and polish, but not so much that you can’t hear “Please love me” as a theme. A siren song perhaps, and Gould seems honest enough to know it. He tinkers with romance and virtuoso performance early in the album: “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” is the go-to showcase for a great set of pipes. But he takes his time to set up an intimacy few others bother with before letting it rip on the song. His innate musicality is assured (and assuring) across familiar songs like “For All We Know” and “The Way You Look Tonight”, along with superior reworkings of “Morning Prayer” and “This Masquerade” from his earlier EP.

The real payoff however comes with the album’s second half. Jason Gould shines when the arrangements get adventurous. The title track (“Dangerous Man”) is an apparent victim song…with a sting in its tail for the sake of some truth. “All’s Forgiven” encapsulates a central tenet of Attitudinal Healing. But not as a sappy Hallmark Card set to musical schlock: here it’s an emphatic anthem. Modern crooners have much to learn about just how to get it right, and Gould's reading of Jones' obscure "The Pornbroker" is a worthy template. The closing track ("One Day") suggests a return to love, in order to best know the freedom of a heart at peace. In our saner moments, we always hope that's engraved on a gentleman's calling card.



And so Jason Gould steps up to the plate once and for all as another gay man with a tale or two to tell about loving and living. And abandonment, rescue and redemption of the spirit. Not for the sake of gaiety however: “Dangerous Man” is as rich a musical exploration of one man’s experiences as it’s likely to get this side of bad taste. We may not know the man, but his weathered authenticity is most attractive. A sex symbol for the thinking man? Why not? We all seduce ourselves ultimately, and if a man like Jason Gould gets us there musically it can’t be such a bad thing.

And a little less levity for the Holidays was all I asked for: how sweet it is that I got some music for grownups!  😌

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

When Is It Time To Start Paying For Sex?


Self-esteem is a wonderful thing. Regardless of age, we all should have it. But alas, sometimes The Mists of Avalon close in, and everybody is...well, just so dammed inadequate. They don’t seem to give us that self-esteem boost we need.

Take this simple test, and find out if it’s time to break out the wallet and pony up!


1. I think of myself as a 10, and therefore I deserve a 10.

2. I’m looking for fun, and whether or not I'm much fun isn't the issue.

3. Needy guys turn me right off.

4. I can’t quite bring myself to see a guy again after I’ve had sex with him.

5. I don’t like the guys who like me, and the guys I like don’t reciprocate.

6. I believe I have limitless choices, but haven’t crunched the actual numbers ‘round town recently.

7. My sexuality is entirely about having my desires, fantasies and fetishes met.

 8. I believe I have a lot to offer, but haven’t offered anybody anything lately.

 9. I prefer to have a social, intellectual and financial advantage over guys, but…

10. …I find it personally insulting when people suggest I should be paying for sex.

Scoring:

0-3: You might get laid soon for free.

4-6: Your freebie days are numbered…get familiar with curb-crawling and $$$ negotiations.

7-10: Make a weekly booking with an agency, and demand they send new meat every time!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Is That All There Is...to a Holocaust?

Another International Holocaust Memorial Day has come and gone, with a new "leader of the Western world" and his partners in denial choosing to “de-judify” it altogether. While it’s factual that many others perished in the Holocaust, you'd be right in thinking it's incumbent on those who publicly mark the day to actually acknowledge by name all groups who were persecuted to death. Is the Holocaust on its way to becoming something else…like just another aspect of war?

Holocausts and stuff…I’m reminded of delivering one of my best friends’ eulogy when he succumbed to AIDS. Steve loved the very best of everything – especially literature. For him alone, I drew on Hemingway’s “A Farewell To Arms”, and how Papa H. likened the dead soldiers to becoming nothing more than concrete numbers and dates on roads and regiments. And how honor and courage seemed like obscene abstractions. (I lost my audience in that little chapel early on: neither an ashamed mother nor a motley collection of homosexualists drew comfort from my words. But the non-denominational celebrant at least claimed to get it.)

Come as you are. Or are not.

 The fact that the modern skinhead haircut was pioneered by queer AIDS activists as a Holocaust reminder is something apparently forgotten by gays and fashionistas alike. Analogies don’t always work because nothing is quite the same as anything else. But Shoah teaching principles aren’t as exclusively Judeocentric as one might think, and homosexualists can draw much from them. As we note that effects ripple from cause, we also note that ACT-UP was as much about honour and courage as it was about anger.

Perhaps all we take away from that Holocaust is that we’ll never meet the grandsons. Those nice Jewish and Gypsy and Black and Slavic boys we should be meeting. And that’s okay, because at least we’re relating the “then” to the “now”. We can, and should, remember “our own kind” as well. And also ask ourselves what legacy of theirs we’ve been deprived of. (Notably, our own kind weren’t liberated from concentration camps when the good guys showed up: they were transferred to other prisons to complete their sentences…‘cos, well, the law (for fags) is the law.)

Broadway initially felt a direct effect of AIDS because it hit their bottom line hard: a multi-million dollar business built on the back of homosexual creativity. The shows had much difficulty going on. But that particular loss was in and of itself. Schlagers, tits and feathers aside, it doesn’t address legacy or community: the cumulative knowledge and extraordinary talents of an era’s gay men weren’t handed on to homo replacements on Broadway or anywhere else. Our rate of replication couldn’t quickly assure that clever hands and astute minds would be replaced in a generation. Gay men worldwide lost our best and brightest across the boards, and as a generation or two of men on the planet we’re diminished for it.