Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Maoy Christmas


I belatedly discovered that the artsy genius who decorated the "Holiday Tree" inside the White House included balls that carried not only the image of a drag queen and of Obama as the fourth president on Mt. Rushmore, but of Chairman Mao.

On the tree. In the White House. At Christmas.

I quote Mark Steyn by way of comment:
If you say, “Chairman Mao? Wasn’t he the wacko who offed 70 million Chinks?”, you’ll be hounded from public life for saying the word “Chinks.” But, if you commend the murderer of those 70 million as a role model in almost any school room in the country from kindergarten to the Ivy League, it’s so entirely routine that only a crazy like Glenn Beck would be boorish enough to point it out.

Which is odd, don’t you think? Because it suggests that our present age of politically correct hypersensitivity is not just morally unserious but profoundly decadent.


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Enlightened despots




It has been puzzling to me to see the role that fabulously wealthy Westerners play in the dissolution of the West via progressive politics. Ted Turner and George Soros come to mind right away, along with all the rich of Hollywood. Why do these people, who have so benefited from Western capitalism and freedom, take such a contemptuous attitude toward it? They are far more likely to have an open ear for and use their influence to support people like Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and movements like Hamas and the whole panoply of murderous Muslim jihadis than they are to even have a civil dialogue with their own countrymen on the right.

I am no expert on the French Revolution, but it seems to me that there are historical precedents for this in the salons of Paris which fostered the ideas of the Enlightenment. Were not many of these people aristocrats? And when the French Enlightenment issued in the French Revolution, how many of them were swept away by it?

As well, several very powerful rulers of the time --Catherine of Russia, Franz Josef of Austria, to name two-- combined an affection for the liberationist and anti-traditional writings of the philosophes with a completely traditional and monarchical devotion to their own power. "Enlightened despots" is what they are called. Mouthing the slogans of freedom, they did what tyrants always do, amassed power and wealth.

So maybe our current cultural and political masters, including the superrich, do have a historical precedent.


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What is that?

Whilst having my morning coffee and a slice of pannetone, I realize that my stomach is tight. I am not sure why.

Is it reading about the endlessly feckless and hapless response of the West to the Jihad? Is it that my guy is away for a few days and I miss him? Is it that I am likely going to be carless? Is it the attendant loss of mobility and money? Is it the work meeting coming up this morning, about which I am pretty well out of good ideas? Is it the sense of fragility and dependence that a lot of these things bring up in me?

Dunno, but the tightness is definitely there.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Highmindedness

In the wake of the recent attempt by a Nigerian Muslim to blow up 300 of us, I hear on the news that the TSA affirms that it rejects any form of ethnic or religious profiling.

Why, pray?

PS. Ann Coulter puts it bluntly, as usual.

and PPS. Why do we not take a cue from the Israelis, who have a lot of experience with this stuff?



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Theodicy again

An old theologian friend of mine said that the question of God was not really about His existence. He felt that the existence of God was practically self-evident. The real question, he said, was this: Is He friendly?

Results so far are mixed.

I have been, and am, grateful, very, to have a chance to build a relationship with The Boyo. A major reason to decide for "friendly."

Sed contra, as Thomas Aquinas would say, there's my carma. I have terrible luck with cars. In the last 11-12 years that I have owned cars, they have been involved in a lot of accidents. Two of them were while moving, but I was neither driving nor in the car at the time. My ex was.

All the other mishaps, break-ins, thefts entire, and, most often, body damage came while the cars were sitting, parked on a local street, absent a driver.

Latest thrill. A drunk driver sideswiped my latest parked vehicle, bought used 2 years ago to replace the other one that was stolen and stripped. He also ran away from the scene. While I was waiting for the police report so I could report that to the insurance company, the battery gave out. I took it to a local garage and they had to do some extra work on the breaks and electricals to the tune of $540.

Today the insurance adjuster looked at my just-repaired vehicle's body damage and told me it was likely going to be written off as a total loss.

So I will likely lose my car, one I just threw money at, and get a check small enough to make buying another one unlikely.

A major effing inconvenience which I ascribe to the Deity, along with all my carkarma, and so here He's rates an "unfriendly."

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Only whites can be racist

or not.

One more self-destructive pattern among African-Americans.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Unexpected laughter


I fell asleep on the couch and woke to a hagiographical TV bio of Louisa May Alcott, of Little Women fame. Feisty dame, apparently.

After she became famous and wealthy --much deserved for the incredible amount of work she did, even if not for the quality of it-- she sometimes took part in dramatic presentations for fun. They enacted her doing a piece I found laugh-out-loud funny. As I say, I was waking up from a nap and so I quote from memory and surely inaccurately. Opening the show, she declaims:
I have the honor to present the evil Lord Billious Mudd, nemesis to our heroine, Lady Bodica Battle-ax, who will achieve fame in the one occupation throughout history that has always been been open, without qualification, to women: martyrdom.
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Kitchen, before and after

The eternal struggle between chaos and order, Dionysian and Apollonian, cooking and cleaning up, played out on the mundane Christmas plane.

We had spicy shrimp, sauteed duck liver with lemon, and creamy Gorgonzola on Italian bread slices, followed by roast duckling with orange sauce, baked potatoes and yams, broccolini, along with two kinds of champagne, followed up by homemade-from-scratch Nonna's Italian Christmas cookies and Klondike bars. Oh, and a shot of Stronachi 12-year single-malt, for health.

Last night





This morning*




*Buying that portable dish washer was one of the most lifestyle enhancing things I ever did!


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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve




Word become flesh, dwelling among us.






Puer natus est nobis
et filius datus est nobis
cujus imperium super humerum ejus
et vocabitur nomen ejus
magni consilii angelus.

A child is born for us
and a son is given to us
whose rule is upon his shoulder
and his name shall be called
angel of great counsel.

Isaiah 9.6

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Acceptance, or not




A note from a friend reminded me that, back in 2007, for some reason, my mother decided that I was not homosexual.

I was incredulous. I have changed my mind, my attitudes and my behavior about a lot of things, but one thing that seems bedrock true of me is that where sex is concerned, men are concerned.
She refused to give reasons or discuss her pronouncement and I was left to wonder, "What the hell is she thinking?"

Well, it appears that things are back to how they used to be. When I was at home last month, she prefaced a comment about something else with the phrase, "As you know, I am not thrilled about your lifestyle.."

Unless she means impecunity, about which I am also not thrilled, I guess, with The Boyo so clearly in the picture, she's remembered how things are.

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Shrinking

One of my regular reads is Shrinkwrapped, a shrink back East who sees the world in much the same way that I do.

He notes a phenomenon which I have used in arguing about the governmental take-over of healthcare.
Progressives imagine that government workers, free from the evil profit motive, are able to perform their selfless functions for the good of their subjects, unworried by the need to save money to line the pockets of their masters. Why so few Progressives are able to generalize from their experiences at the DMV remains a mystery for another time...
Government health care? Your life will be in the hands of the very same folks who run the DMV.

--------------------

Monday, December 21, 2009

Taste




I am finishing up the bottle of Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey I got as a gift from Himself on his return from Ireland and Scotland in the summer.

Rich, very peaty spirit, strong but smooth on the tongue, lively and dense in the nose.

In many ways, I have lived my life backwards. An old friend mine once told me that I was born an old man, but would spend my life getting younger and younger. Sometimes I think he was right.

One of the ways I feel younger is that I seek refuge less and less in great ideas and grand schemes and pay more and more grateful and focussed attention to the particular, the temporal, the ordinary, the material: a shot of whiskey, the brief smell of the Pacific in the afternoon wind, my lover's left shoulder.

__________________

Query

Is there much of anything in the progressive agenda which is not about the extension of state power over more and more of life?

Case in point: San Francisco.

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Jewish superiority







Jews are good at lots of things. But I don't know if there is any competition for the self-hatred prize. Jewish self-hatred is unique.

A stunning example:

Israeli sociologist condemns Israeli soldiers for NOT raping Palestinian women during battles. A sign that the Israelis are so racist that they think Palestinian women are not good enough to rape...

No, I am not kidding.

HT to Pajamas Media.

On the other hand.

I am interested in how groups survive and how they dissolve or are conquered or replaced.

Part of what has kept Jews a surviving and separate group is their own internal religious laws and the hatred of their neighbors. Halakha and anti-Semitism. In a place like America, most Jews gave up observance, and the benevolent attitudes of this country have produced a massive amount of intermarriage with Gentiles and consequent weakening of Jewish identity.

I watched a documentary called A Life Apart, about Hasidic Jews in America. I used to live in Brooklyn, right on the line between a Puerto Rican and Hasidic neighborhood, so a lot of the images were familiar. I thought the documentary was pretty respectful of the Hasidim, but a few contrary voices were included, of course. What struck me was that the items that outsiders found unappealing were probably crucial to the continuance and cohesion of this religious group: an unapologetic sense of specialness and superiority. It's not fun to be on the receiving end of this kind of smug attitude*, but that's too bad, I suppose. A small value compared to the continuance of a people who were almost wiped out the last century.

Some folks wanted the Hasids to get off their high horse and mix with everyone else. Well, what appears to be egalitarianism (and is) is also a crypto-superiority, the way in which general culture asserts its own specialness precisely by denying it.

One of my big and sad impressions about the West is that we have lost our instinct, our unapologetic sense of our right to be who we are. We do not assert ourselves without explanation. This indicates a deeper loss of will and self-regard. It will be an irony of history that a culture which became obsessed with teaching its children individual self-esteem lost all sense of value as a group.

What groups in history have long survived and thrived without the assumption that they are special and superior?

__________________________

*Mostly pro-Jew that I am, I would still say that Jews have to realize that this necessarily either creates or increases dislike of them by non-Jews. It seems an inescapeable problem: give up your sense of chosenness and you disappear; keep it, and you'll be disliked.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Well, that was quick




The next time I hear someone invoke "human rights", I may be tempted to smack them.

The evils and tyrannies of the various Human Rights Commissions in Canada have certainly attracted my attention but, due to heroes like Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, are on the wane. Now in formerly Great Britain, a secular court has, in effect, taken on itself to define who is a Jew and who is not.

All in the name of anti-racism.

Can you imagine them trying to meddle in the affairs of a mosque?

Cowards all.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

On the other hand

I have drafted a longish unconnected set of curmudgeonly observations on how men walk and talk, on some puzzling and/or unfortunate aspects of Black culture these days, on the nature of gay vs. LGBT identity, on the current unfortunate president of our unfortunate Republic, on how a spiritual guru can turn into yet another bitter queen.

These gems of insight you will be spared. At least for now, and all at once.

Despite yet another bit of auto-related bad luck, I have had some very very nice times with Himself and I am far more aware of how lucky and blessed I am to know him than of how irritated I can be at the world.

________________________

Movement



Something about this picture exhibits for me the angle and flow of the male body, a kind of untiringly happy roller coaster for the eye. Even at rest, eppur si muove!

In banter with My Guy about his angles and flows, I refer to it as his "architecture."

Psalm 8:5. Frank Lloyd Wright, eat your heart out.

____________________


PS. A note on ink. This fella's shoulder tattoo serves the architectural flow. It matches and emphasizes his shoulder, but its shape then moves you along into the rest of the body. Lots of people seem to think of their bodies as billboards and their tattoos are just sorta stuck on like post-it notes, without any thought to the structure of the whole. The most beautiful tattoos, to me, are the ones that work with the form of the body and become part of its dynamism, balance and play of angles.

I tried to achieve that with my own and have had some success, I think. When I was in NY, I came home from the gym and had a tank top on. A distant relative by marriage, who is an Emmy winner in design, noted the tat as well as its placement and pronounced it perfect for me, warning me not to add anything else or it would harm the balance. Hmmmmmm....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Animal spirits




A friend has a new dog, a young male half-wolf he rescued from the pound. Handsome young fella that puppy is, but very mellow, even rather cautious. First time he brought him over to my house to visit, the dog-wolf very slowly and methodically set about smelling his way around. We followed.

But when he got to my bedroom, it was as if someone turned on an instant high-energy switch. Jumping, running around in circles, bouncing off the bed and onto the floor repeatedly, barking, howling, rolling, and when I started in to play with him, that only ramped him up more. We had quite the time and I was covered in gray wolf hair.

Now every time he comes over, he bounds up the stairs and heads straight down the hall to my sleeping chamber.

Can't figure out what it is about that room...

________________

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This and that on an Advent Sunday





My cybersphere wanderings take me to strange places. The power of the hyperlink. You will doubtless share the thrill of the following, to which I will not link:
Many readers will rejoice - fittingly on this Gaudete Sunday - to learn that last Thursday, 10 December 2009, the Cause of Beatification of the Servant of God Zita, last Empress of Austria and wife of Blessed Emperor Charles, was solemnly opened by His Excellency Msgr. Yves Le Saux, Bishop of Le Mans, France.
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Winter here in SF coincides with a very noticeable rainy season, providing the wonderful paradox of colder weather and greener flora. Although really pretty mild for North America, the days can be chilly and wet and dark. And there has been a chunk of that recently. Has an effect on the mood, mine anyway. Easier to veer off into the land of funk.

And The Boyo has had a bad cold the last week or so. He is normally a very resilient fella about the downs of life, but colds seem to take major wind out of his sails. His frequency shifts and there's something like a grey mist or distracted static between him and the rest of the world, including me. Although he does his best, his sunny zing and connectedness diminish, which disorients me. At least that's how it feels. Not appealing, especially in conjunction with the uninspiring weather. I realize both when he and I are physically distant thru travelling or when we are somewhat unhooked like this, how much I depend on him and his abundant vitality to stoke the part of me that is happy and hopeful. I look forward to the return of my regular guy.
I'm sure he does, too.

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I have a free two-week Netflix account. Been looking at indy films, mostly gay-themed. The majority of them I turn off within ten minutes. Either my old eyes have seen and heard this before, or the plot is too silly or, most often, the characters are so unlikeable. And there is a kind of self-regarding claustrophobic quality there as well.

One film I rather liked was "Defying Gravity". It's about a frat boy's coming to terms with his homosexuality. But the context is not "I like dick", but "I love Johnny." Who, happily, loved him back. The parallel between the male-male relationship and the best friend's male-female relationship set the story in a more human frame. Not about group politics, but about the individual heart. And especially given the interpersonal focus, it made the kindness and acceptance of some of the surrounding characters quite believable.

The moral crisis was about honesty and courage rather than the usual "fucking with someone who is already committed". The minor racial theme was handled in a surprisingly non-predictable way.

Two films I watched included gay characters who seemed to care nothing for the effects of their adultery on people they professed to love. In one, Mulligans, a guy sleeps with his best friend's father (!) and in another, Leaving Metropolis, with his married boss. Marriages self-destruct in the wake. Dramatic, of course, but not edifying.

In The Flesh, shot in Atlanta, of all places, about 15 years ago, is a riff on the intergenerational theme combined with the cop who falls for the male prostitute. Wooden acting, but with several redeeming features, including a lead dyad who are both men, not queens.
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I re-watched "Trembling before G-d", about orthodox Jews who are homosexual. A pickle. And a kosher dill at that. My Unitarian friend, Rev. L, once told me that the only two real religions in the West are Judaism and Catholicism, since once you are in them, you can never really get out.
I sympathize. Observant Jews who are homo have it worse, I think, since the drive to marry and have children is at the religious, not just cultural, heart of rabbinic Judaism (as it is with Mormonism, for example, and there perhaps even moreso.) Catholicism is full of unmarried types who are, in fact, the great icons of the faith. Including Jesus, of course.

Jesus and Buddha have much in common with each other in this respect, as do Moses and Mohammed. Two celibate idealists vs two married lawgivers.

Though I am mostly a pro-Jewish guy, one scene with a bunch of very orthodox men in NY protesting angrily against gays led me to muse that if you gave these fellas guns and they adopted a world-embracing imperialist vision, they'd be Taliban.

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Looking forward to my Santa Lucia dinner with Himself tomorrow. He first invited me for dinner at his house two years ago on her feast day. I was already pretty well entranced with him by that time, but I recall how excited I was, and how handsome he looked. He still doesn't always get it, but sometimes I look at him and think that there is no better view on the planet. He'll just have to deal.
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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Irksome

Just saw another, yet another, commercial where the father is a blithering idiot and his wife is superior and contemptuous. They are ubiquitous. (And it's only white fathers that get this treatment, by the way.)

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Random thoughts on sex





As a species, we are capable of desire for many members of our race. We are also capable of having that desire channeled so that it focuses on just one person. That is mysterious.

One man in good shape is not radically different from another man in good shape. Height, color, size, etc. can all vary, but they are actually more alike than different, at least from my perspective and experience.

But there is that mysterious connection which takes place where only one man will do. If it a matter of fetish --hair color, skin color, certain kind of build, penis size-- it is pretty understandable. But it happens all the time where the reason is, well, the man himself, who he is. Just as compelling, not so easy to define. But only he will do.

_________________


I wonder if the category "gay" is any longer really about sexual orientation, sexual object choice, or if it is about gender variance. If it were about sexual orientation, then something like a gay, lesbian and bisexual demographic would make sense. But with the canonical addition now of transgender, the common denominator is not same-sex erotic desire but deviance from gender norms.

Unfortunately, that makes sense of a lot of gay culture.

________________

Not only do males and females generally experience sexual contact differently, but each individual experiences it differently, often based on their character typology. For some types,
the sexual experience is about physical pleasure, for others about physical closeness. For some, the body's experience is all there is, for others the body is not distinct from the soul.

As well, age and experience bring changes. My affection for men in their 50's comes not only from my appreciation for how a man's life experience shows in his body, his face, his build, etc but from his sense of self. Honestly, I now see faces of men in their twenties, very handsome, unlined, with bright eyes, and they look somewhat like masks to me. But a craggy, lived-in face, with weathering and stubble...to me this is a wonder of nature. And being the type of guy I am, that is not an intellectual aesthetic appreciation; it makes me want to kiss that face.

Preferred pleasures can change, too. There are a couple of things that used to be almost absolute requirements for me that are now matters of indifference. And there are a few things that I now really love to experience that I don't recall being so interested in at one time.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Infamy and destiny

Today is December 7th.
Sixty-eight years ago,
the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor,
brought America into war.
Four years later,
atomic bombs ended that conflict,
which killed so many.

Both my fathers were in that war
and survived to come home.
I had an uncle who did not.

My birthfather, Lee, who died when I
was an infant, was in the Army signal corps
in North Africa, Italy and Germany.



My recently deceased dad,
Jack, who raised me,
was a Naval bomber pilot
in the South Pacific.



I look a lot like Lee. No surprise.
But at Jack's funeral, two people who know nothing
of my history came to tell me
how much I looked like him.
Which I don't at all.
But I was his son, in reality if not in biology.
I am honored
to look like both my fathers.

______________________________

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Type casting


I'm the type of guy who likes typology. I like to use overarching maps of all kinds of things, including people. My favorites are the Jungian-based Meyers-Briggs and the strangely useful Enneagram. It's a kind of shorthand that outlines how a person is likely to perceive the world and themselves, to act and make judgements, etc. I find it useful especially where there are conflicts between people which can be traced to typological styles. It can defuse things if people get the idea that the differences are not aimed at each other but flow from a set of character structures that are almost innate.

The Boyo recently took a Meyer-Briggs test and discovered what I already knew, that he is an ESTJ. He is extraverted, interested in the world and people outside himself. He is sensate, focussed on concrete physical objects and situations in some detail. He is a thinker, preferring to use rationality to assess situations and evaluate them. He is a judger (a peculiar term in MB parlance) who prefers order and predicability. Guardian or Enforcer is a title that fits this type. Empath, for example, does not.



There are sixteen combos of these four items and plenty of descriptions of how each type typically (!) perceives, judges, behaves, etc. How folks act in relationships, at work, etc are included.

I am an INTP, opposite to The Boyo on three out of four items. This stuff is not exact science, so you can find MB websites tell you that the relational pairing an INTP and and ESTJ is both a disaster and that it is a good balance. The fact that we are both T's is a big help. And the other differences are, to me, mostly a source of interest, at least at this stage.

As an introvert, my internal world is more powerful for me than the outside. As an intuitive, I am more concerned with the possibilities of a situation than its concrete details. As a thinker, I, too prefer to use rationality to assess situations and evalute them. As a perceiver (again, this odd MB way of talking) I prefer to let things unfold without a plan. I'm an Architect or Investigator.




I use the typologies to alert me to differences that I might naturally have problems with; the type discourse allows me to see it as simply a normal alternative with its own pros and cons.

Not everyone responds like this.

Mr. ESTJ, for example, recently did something typical of his type and I sent him the following email note (in a form and manner typical of my type):

ESTJ Weaknesses
  • Tendency to believe that they are always right
  • Tendency to need to always be in charge
  • Not naturally in tune with what others are feeling
  • May inadvertantly hurt others with insensitive language

This was the reply I received:

Can you explain how these qualify as weaknesses?
Thank you.



In the end, ya gotta laugh! And we do. A lot. It's pretty typical of us types.

___________

Friday, December 04, 2009

All warm and toasty

Mark Steyn. Hard to top his gift for words. On the antics of Western politicians responding to the "settled science" on anthropogenic global warming...
The science is so settled it’s now perfectly routine for leaders of the developed world to go around sounding like apocalyptic madmen of the kind that used to wander the streets wearing sandwich boards and handing out homemade pamphlets. Governments that are incapable of—to pluck at random—enforcing their southern border, reducing waiting times for routine operations to below two years, or doing something about the nightly ritual of car-torching “youths,” are nevertheless taken seriously when they claim to be able to change the very heavens—if only they can tax and regulate us enough.
The whole thing.

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

The minarets of Switzerland




I agree that the Swiss were right to ban the minarets.

Why? Because Islam is not a religion like Buddhism, Christianity or Judaism.

Islam is essentially, fundamentally, inherently and historically an expansionist theocracy.
A theocracy in the literal sense, where the divine law is the law of the land for all, believer and unbeliever alike. There is in Islam no separation or division between religion and the society, religion and the state.

Where Islam has not been an expansionist theocracy is when it is forced to act differently by outside stronger powers or when it has suffered from internal inertia, conflict or corruption.
But when it is true to itself, it is a theocracy on the march. And it is on the march.

Consequently, the notion that Islam is "just a religion" and therefore deserves the protection of the law is mistaken. Islam is a religion the way the World Church of the Creator is a religion. Its natural goal is to conquer and rule the society in which it finds itself.

So the minaret is not like a steeple. It is like a foreign flag. Good for the Swiss.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Relief

Took a contemporary shot of two men making love and morphed it into something that feels a bit more...timeless.











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