I adore Joel Derfner, so naturally I was delighted to find a review of his blog in yesterday’s Best Gay Blogs. I’m posting it here today, in it’s entirety. I’m doing my part to spread the Gospel of Joel.
I read a lot of blogs, as I’m always looking for a new voice or a new point of view. Over time however, the more I read the more I’ve noticed most blogs tend to fall into several broad categories. There are the latest conquest blogs, there are blogs about books and food, there are rant blogs, and blogs about families or clubs. But underlying all the different categories, there are two fundamental distinctions. Some write because they want to be heard, and some write because they have something to say.
“The Search for Love in Manhattan”,http://www.joelderfner.com/blog/,falls into the second of those categories.
I almost passed his blog by, as at first glance it looked as though his site existed solely to sell his books and music.
And he has been a busy fellow. He’s written music for several theatrical works. You can listen to samples at his site. My favorite is Backwards Day. When I first listened to it, I knew that the young man who sings it is simply crying out to be kissed, long and hard and passionately. You’re sure to find a favorite of your own.
He’s also published, with a volume of haiku out in 2002. A second book, a volume of essays, is due out this spring.
These aren’t your run of the mill haiku, though. One of my favorites among Joel’s work isn’t in the book:
You think Kierkegaard
Is a new deodorant.
I must be insane.
In just a few words he manages to tell us the complete story of a date gone horribly wrong.
When we connected, I asked him what’s kept him blogging all this time.
Joel: “Neurosis. I would have stopped long ago except I worry that, if I do, people who read me will stop loving me.
I started blogging around the same time I wrote my book.
After my boyfriend of 2.5 years and I broke up, I went on a lot of bad dates and had a lot of bad sex. The good thing about this was that it resulted in a lot of very funny stories. My friends Rob and David suggested that I start a blog, and I was like, a what? Then they explained, and later that night, instead of paying my bills, I set up the Search for Love in Manhattan.”
Another riveting tale of a date gone horribly wrong:
You have talked and talked
For hours on end, and yet still
My watch says 8:10.
BGB:How do you draw readers?
Joel:”Let’s see. I think I’ve knowingly had sex with four people who read the blog, though of course there could be others that I didn’t know were readers. Two people I’ve slept with went on to start blogs themselves. I’ve also made a few good friends through blogging. Oh, and best of all, I got back together with my boyfriend. I blogged about that November 17-20, 2003.”
BGB: So basically, your life’s work is going about doing acts of kindness to perfect strangers.
Joel:”Well, I try to be constructive. For example, I’m taking Middle Egyptian (I don’t know any verbs yet but I can say (and write in hieroglyphs) things like “the temple of this pharaoh”) because in the spring I reconnected with a brilliant brilliant brilliant writing professor from college who was doing ancient Greek (which I also studied in college) and talking with him on the phone I remembered how good it felt to be an intellectual, which I haven’t gotten to do very much since moving to New York, so on a whim I decided to sign up for this class. This is not my first experience with hieroglyphs–One of my favorite posts is about hieroglyphs- http://www.joelderfner.com/blog/2006/09/post_119.html.”
In his heroic attempts to become The Gayest Person Ever, Joel’s extracurricular activities include go-go dancing and knitting. I felt it appropriate to finesse a little information out on these important topics.
Subtle as always, I decided to move in by stealth. I asked, “Have you knitted your first afghan yet? And are there pictures? There must be a picture.”
Joel’s response was the picture of modesty. “I have not knitted an afghan yet, but I have knitted a baby blanket, of which there’s a picture somewhere on my blog. My current project is very high-concept. I’m knitting a 3-dimensional scarf shaped like DNA, and on either end I’m going to duplicate-stitch “Xq28,” which is the region of the X-chromosome where the gay gene is believed to live. So it’s a gay DNA scarf. It is a gift for my boyfriend.”
Unfortunately, there are no pictures available yet.
I was equally subtle exploring some of his more athletic activities.
BGB:”Do you wear Spandex when you teach aerobics? This is important. And do you have photos?”
Joel:”I do not. I generally wear cotton, and I have, unfortunately, no photos. I do have a photo of me in the outfit I wear when I’m go-go dancing (though I don’t really do that anymore). If you promise you will not use it to bring down my blossoming political career I will send it to you.”
Trying to conceal my delight at being bribed, as well as discovering that, in addition to being a scholar and a brilliant creative mind, he knew how to shake his money maker, I oh so casually asked, “Boxers, briefs or jockstrap?”
The response was forthright.
“Boxer briefs, except when I was go-go dancing, when it was super-skimpy briefs or nothing.”
I’m closing in now. “And do those briefs have a motto?”
“Rident stolidi verba latina.” (“Fools laugh at the Latin language.”). Don’t worry, it’s a punch line from an old comedy routine by Ovid.
Now I was ready to go in for the kill. I wanted to get in touch with the innermost core of this fascinating man, a scholar, composer, poet and well hung hootchie dancer. I knew that we were both ready for the money shot.
“Tell me, what moment would you like to go on forever?
“The moment before the medication stopped working.”
He’s the only man I know who’s ballsy enough to place a Men4Men ad written in Egyptian Hieroglyphics, and make it work.
I think I’m smitten.
P.S. Sure enough, I knew I missed somebody. Yen and I exchanged links to his blog named Sufficient Gift, but then he disappeared, and I didn’t know where he went. This morning he turned up with a new address.
So please visit Yen at his blog newly named Two Lucky People. Yen is a globe trotter and a journalist who always has something of interest. Please take a look, and be sure to say Hi!