Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bold, Mostly Baseless and Almost Certainly Pointless Western Conference Prediction

The Nuggets will beat the Lakers. The Finals will be Cleveland v. Denver. I say this as I sit on my couch, five minutes into the first quarter of the third game of a tied Lakers-Nuggets series. After Denver has just missed three easy layups.

I could be wrong.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

DC, San Antone and the Liberty Town, Boston and Baton Rouge

Chuck Klosterman keeps me up at night. And not in a good way. I just can’t figure it out. I’ve read all of his books except for that novel that he wrote because his first hack at noveldom in Chuck Klosterman IV was painful for me to read and I thought was surely just an exorcising of Creative Writing demons. On paper, Chuck Klosterman should be my hero. I should have posters of Chuck Klosterman on my wall with little comet shaped stickers around his head and I should, much like I once spelled out the Poison logo in lime green thumbtacks on my bedroom wall when I was 10, have some sort of CK logo drawn somewhere on a notebook at work as a secret tip of the hat to the Klos. But I don’t. In fact, there are times when I grapple with whether or not he is the most irritating and self-flagellating human on the face of the Earth or not.

It just doesn’t make sense. Again, let’s go back to his numbers. He’s a former small-town rock writer. Me too! He’s a sports nut. Hey, me too! He not only admits to being a slave to, but also genuflects at, the throne of pop culture which is something I am ashamed to admit eats away more and more free Amanda RAM with each passing day. He is so self-centered as to see parallels and life lessons between all his failed relationships and inner-neuroses and, say, the Lakers /Celtics rivalry. Yep, I think I am that important sometimes too. So why do I sometimes feel like I hate him so much?

I think he is a good writer. Not a fantastic, great, burn-your-likeness-on-the-moon type writer (typewriter?) but an amusing read. In fact, I love Chuck Klosterman IV because I think it shows what he actually is, a great magazine writer. Not a manifesto writer. Not the Thoreau of our age put into some sort of pop culture Cuisinart. He writes entertaining articles about things like why Mexicans love Morrissey and how bizarre it is to go on a cruise with Journey and Styx and their fans. My favorite part of IV is the part where he re-visits one of his first columns that he wrote as a music journalist back in North Dakota covering the Fargo scene. I get particular jollies out of it because, as a writer, it’s always incredibly humbling and laughable to go back and read something that your cocky, younger self wrote when you were pretty sure that you were the Carl Sandburg of local music media, only to realize that you were trying so hard that it’s kind of amazing that the pages of the weekly didn’t actually emit a groaning sound when opened.

I love the fact that he footnotes the more laughable lines from the piece and adds perspective from Six Years Later Chuck. Again, I find him to be an incredibly self-absorbed and self-congratulatory person so I’m conflicted over whether that bit of self-critique is actually humility or just a chance for him to stare at old pictures of himself and remark on what a handsome fellow he has always been.

Now comes the part where I tell you why I think I hate Chuck Klosterman. Other than his collected articles and bits and pieces of his essays, his writings are collectively like the literary equivalent of “The Heart of Rock and Roll” by Huey Lewis and the News. And I don’t mean that in a good way. I can’t fault Huey Lewis for finding a cheap gimmick and riding it like a hooker he cashed in his Harrah’s chips for. What’s the easiest way to elicit a reaction out of the largest number of people? Say the name of the city they live in. “Hey, that’s us! I know that thing he just said! I am familiar with that! I live in that city! I feel a bond with this artist and therefore find this song to be, inherently, kickass.” That’s what Klosterman does and it bugs the shit out of me.

“Words words words words words words (Band Name) words words words words (Failed, Kitschy Two-Season TV Show from the Late 1980’s That Band Could Be the Musical Equivalent Of) words words words (Name of Nintendo Game You Played in 4th Grade) words words words (Awkwardly Shoehorned-In Life Topic Which Could Be De-Mystified by the Aforementioned Pieces of Pop Culture Detritus). "

If you are a Chuck Klosterman fan, fine. But ask yourself, do you like him because you feel like his frame of reference is similar to your because he mentions songs that you know, bands that you like and movie characters that also annoy you? If so, do you (and it’s fine if you don’t, I just happen to) feel kind of like that’s kind of cheap? Like going to an old folks home and offering them pudding or a screening of Gone With the Wind just to lure them into the naptime room. And yes, I do sometimes refer to Chuck Klosterman’s work alternately as “the naptime room.”

Then there’s the dealbreaker. The fact that Klosterman regularly paints himself as Chuck Klosterman: Heartbreaker, Ladykiller and All-Around Pants Earthquaker. There’s something either laughable or disturbing about his instance on fitting in, at any opportunity, another mention of his ability to break the hearts of girls far and wide. I may be blowing that out of proportion and it might only be a minor theme in his work but let me just A/B his angle and the angle of someone whose work doesn’t make me stabby, Will Leitch. Despite many reprimands from some male friends (imagine a sports nerd version of the song “Leader of the Pack”, minus the fatal motorcycle accident, when you imagine this conversation) telling me that Will Leitch is no good and he roots for the Cardinals and he’s just a hayseed who got too much blogfame too fast and I shouldn’t think so highly of him, I dig Will Leitch. When I want to read something that I feel akin to, I read something like Life of a Loser. Not in some self-deprecating (that’s not the one where you poo on yourself, by the way), Sassy magazine grunge layout kind of way. But because I just can’t identify with Klosterman’s self-absorbedness and bravado about just how clever he is. It doesn’t matter whether or not you think Chuck Klosterman is the wittiest thing since Oscar Wilde bread because Chuck Klosterman thinks so already.

So maybe I’m in the minority here. Maybe everyone else gains some sense of comfort like when the Downy bear falls into the pile of freshly laundered and folded towels when they read a Chuck Klosterman book and hear him drum on incessantly about his life, his insecurities and how he is completely irreverent because he likes hair metal in a non-ironic way. But I think it kind of murders my soul a little bit every time I read it.

Let’s see if I can explain this in a more Kloster-tastic fashion. You know how we all know that song “18 and Life” by Skid Row? You know how when someone sings it at karaoke, everyone sings along because we all laugh about how we all actually like that song and know the lyrics to it? You know like how Ricky was a young boy who had a heart of stone, worked 9 to 5. * Well, you know that part about where Ricky had tequila in his heartbeat (huh?) and his veins were burning gasoline (ouch!) and he fired his six shot in the wind and shot a kid? That kid is my literary patience and Chuck Klosterman is Ricky. There, better?

* He worked his fingers to the bone.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Is There Room On There For One More?

Here’s the pitch (pun somewhat intended) I got on Saturday night:

“Amanda, I am telling you, you’ve got to get into the Rangers! They need you! This season’s gonna be worth it. I’ll fill you in on the players and the back stories. It’s so good right now! Seriously, you’ve got to start watching them! (Name redacted) and (Name redacted) even started watching games! So Lackey returns from the DL (Hughley?) to throw two pitches and he throws one behind Kinsler then hits Kinsler and gets tossed from the game! They’re 3 and a half games up, Amanda! And they beat the Mariners! Just ask me anything you wanna know and I will catch you up! I really want you to get into this team!”

All of this can only mean one thing:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Well, Pack Up the Truck (Again)

Another Mavs season over. And you know what? I’m not sad. I mean, yeah I would have loved to have made it to the Western conference finals. Or the NBA Finals. But come on folks, don’t be spoiled babies. We got our asses handed to us in the first round two years in a row. This time we got our asses (pretty much ) handed to us in the SECOND round. That’s improvement. Honestly, bitching over the fact that there was a bad call in Game 3 is pointless. It shouldn’t have been close enough to let a bad call decide the game. The season is over. I had fun. Mathematically speaking, there’s only 3 teams in the Western conference who are better than us. And that’s being generous to Houston. Don’t be sad sacks of poo, Mavs fans. Save that for Cowboys season.

And with that, I’m off to Frisco to witness amateur baseball at its most amateurish. The soothsayers at Taco Joint have this hot opinion about the outcome of tonight’s game:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lessons We Should Have All Learned From Game 4 Last Night

1. Antoine Wright can get elbowed in the throat and somehow HE gets called for a foul.


3. Dirk Nowitzki would like you all to shut the fuck up about his ghetto, con-lady girlfriend already, please. To further illustrate this point, he will save us from playoff elimination. There, happy? Seriously, drop it now, ok?

4. Carmello Anthony is allowed to hit people in the face with no fear of being suspended.

5. Nothing brings me more personal schadenfraude than learning that the Birdman is not going to be able to make the game due to hot liquid waste spilling forth from both ends of his body due to a stomach flu. Just to think of the cold sweats and stomach cramping making his mohawk sort of just tilt to the side then fall forward in defeat like Glenn Danzig after eating raw oysters from a Chinese buffet, oh the giggles... Thank you, Tummy Shame Jesus.


7. Elephant in the Room time - Would everyone chill the fuck out. That means you, classless Mavs fans. That means you, Denver 'Roid Ragers. That means you, crazy-ass weave-wearing cat-fighting reality show, erhm, "personalities". The funny thing is the person I actually have the most sympathy for in this whole thing (oh yeah, besides the Mavs who are going to have to go to Denver wearing bulletproof vests) is Kenyon Martin's mom. If she talked shit to Cuban, whatever. If a Mavs fan poured a beer on her, in-fucking-excusable. To every other retard, failed rapper, half-shirt wearing former VJ, asshole fan, homophobic psuedo-tough guy who is turning this whole thing into one big "Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!" scene, seriously STFU.



Monday, May 11, 2009

Game 3: Soul Seppuku

I went to my very first playoff game on Saturday. I didn’t get a noisemaker. A quick note on noisemaker etiquette here, folks: take the noisemaker or thunder sticks that are on your seat and your seat only. If at halftime, there are unclaimed noisemakers which are sitting in empty seats you can take those. But only after halftime. There should be no reason for me to get to my seat at tip and there be no object with which I can make noise. Anyways, back to Saturday. I was like a little kid, I was so excited. The place was packed. Everyone was clearly thinking “alright, we even this up at home and it’s anybody’s series to win.” Well, ok maybe we weren’t thinking that. Maybe we were aware of the fact that the Nuggets were killing us and the only chance we had to stop the bleeding was to use the first home game and the first home crowd and Dirk’s felonious lady troubles as motivation to finally eek out a win.

But the game was great. To see Chris Andersen foul out of the game was beautiful. While I’m not usually one for the jumbotron entertainment, the Mavs decided to go for the (inked) jugular by playing a taunting video called “Hey Mr. Overly Tattooed NBA Guy” which not only mocked the Nuggets (and specifically Andersen’s) love of body art, it also questioned whether Kenyon Martin’s neck tattoo of a woman’s name was wise considering that “girlfriends come and go.” The person I went to the game with turned to me after the video and said, “Oh my god, they’re gonna beat us by 70 now."

I remember when the fourth quarter started, I turned and said, “So this is where we blow it, right?” Because up to that point, the Mavs had kept it close. I think either team’s biggest lead was 6 going into the fourth quarter. Even better? By the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, not only had Chris Andersen fouled out but Nene had 5 fouls and Carmello Anthony and Chauncey Billups had 4 each. In short, the Nuggets were about to collectively foul themselves out. Sweet! And the crowd was finally getting into it. I’ve never actually been to a game where Humble Billy’s foreboding taunts of “deeeeeeee-fense” actually lead to the entire arena joining him in the chant. But on Saturday for the entire fourth quarter, we were all standing up and chanting and taunting and noisemaking our asses off. It felt really good.

Then a wheel started to feel wobbly when we started missing free throws. I don’t remember in what order the virus spread but in the last two minutes of the game, I saw Jason Terry, Josh Howard and Dirk split their free throws. The guy sitting (well, standing) next to me with his earphones in said, in a very grave and scary voice, after Jet missed his first free throw, “That will come back to haunt us.” I thought he was being a little dramatic.

Now I don’t really know how to explain what happened for the last 41 seconds of the quarter because, strangely, being there and seeing it myself was of no assistance in my effort to understand what the fuck happened. I would imagine it would be like standing on a street corner watching a car accident involving the ghost of Benjamin Franklin and Count Chocula. Nothing made sense. Everyone was confused.

I actually have the luxury of still not having seen the replays on TV so all I have to go on is what I saw with my eyes. I know that with 41 seconds left, we were up by four. I might have the order of these events transposed slightly but I know that Dirk missed an easy shot then the Nuggets were able to get the rebound and sail down the court for the easiest bucket ever scored in basketball ever. I started to see where Earphones Guy was coming from with his doomsday predictions about that missed free throw. Then, with less than 10 seconds left in the game, the Nuggets inbounded the ball and Carmello Anthony took his spot at the top of the arc. But we had a foul to give. Right? Then Anthony takes the shot and hits it. Everyone in the AAC take a little time out of their busy schedule of screaming obscenities to start to wonder aloud what just happened? Didn’t we have a foul to give? Why wouldn’t we have fouled him? Did Antoine Wright just LET Anthony take the shot?

Then we were told that the play was being reviewed. Oh ok. Good. This should clear some things up. Then we were told that the review was just to check that Anthony’s shot was indeed a three pointer, as it had been ruled on the court, and that his toesies weren’t on the line. Turns out they weren’t and it was and the Nuggets now lead 106-105 with 1 second left in the game. We all sat in our seats, stunned. And slightly amused by Josh Howard being physically restrained and dragged away by Mavs personnel. Then my stomach turned as I looked at the smiling face of Chris Andersen who was alternately gloating and trying to pick a fight with various Mavs staff while still on the court.

Was that Earphone Guy right? No, not really. It shouldn’t have ever come down to a three point shot deciding the game. But to watch three Mavs players split their free throws after a whole game of no Mavs offensive rebounding was crushing. And I don’t like the Nuggets but it seems pretty clear at this point that they are better at basketball than we are. I don’t like the fact that there is no class in this series. Who would have thought that a playoff series between Dallas and San Antonio would be so dignified yet the Dallas-Denver matchup would have all the dignity and class of Anna Nicole Smith mud wrestling Gary Coleman on the Howard Stern show?

The refs not calling the intentional foul on Anthony is inexcusable, mostly because that seems like me forgetting that I have to wear clothes to work or something. The refs had to have known that Dallas had the foul to give and that they were going to at least contemplate or attempt to foul whoever Denver was going to let shoot. However, Anthony could have hit all three of his free throws and then we would have to deal with what we really need to deal with. The fact that the Nuggets are playing more aggressively than the Mavs are and will probably seal the Mavs fate tonight by dealing us the death blow.

But it’s not just the Game 3 of this series that has got me blue. I can’t help but get 19 different kinds of excited when I see that the Rockets have beaten the clearly unbeatable Lakers and are up 2-1 in their series. To think of Kobe getting knocked out of the playoffs before the Western Conference finals gives me happy fingers. But then I remember how we beat Houston in that last game of the regular season and how that night, when the playoffs were discussed, we all talked about how Houston didn’t scare us that bad. And then I think of all the trash talking and city dissing that could happen were the Western Conference finals to be between two Texas teams. Sigh.

I haven’t given up. Yet. I had given up on Saturday as I sat outside the Old No. 7 contemplating ways to sever the brake line on the Nuggets team bus. But I will watch tonight with a limited, faintly glowing light-source of basketball hope. I don’t know what the Mavs are capable of but I don’t feel like it includes winning here then winning again in Denver. But I will have my noisemakers (that I have because some people are not noisemaker thieving bastards) and I will watch and if the season ends tonight, I will know that the Mavs got past the first round which is more than I’ve been able to say about the Cowboys in a decade.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Ok, I need some sort of Mavs primal scream therapy right now and basically my blog was established for just that purpose. Do I think that the local (and to a lesser degree, national) media should be digging through Dirk's proverbial garbage can to find the used condoms (which apparently might not exist in this case) to dust for prints? No. Seriously, everyone back the fuck off. I have a set of noisemakers that I am shaking in your general direction, press. And commenters on Dallas Morning News, this is your wet dream of a story. Please crawl back down into the lowest level of protoplastic slime caves that you usually call home. Seriously, EVERYONE SHUT THE FUCK UP AND STOP ACTING LIKE THIS IS AN EPISODE OF MAURY.


It was already not a good time for anything to distract you from the deep-ish hole you have dug yourselves into, Little Sad Mavs. But this is the last fucking thing you needed. You get distracted when someone at the concession stands has a laser pointer. You cannot handle a felonious baby mama situation. You are not the Nets or the Lakers or even the fucking Knicks for that matter. You don't do drama very well. I don't know the details of the case but Jesus Christ in Heaven why couldn't you have made this go away for a week or two until you either got thumped by the Nuggets or gained a little ground on them. You are down 2-0 in the second round of the playoffs. This is retarded shit that you should not be dealing with. I'm not one to lecture about where to put your naughty bits but if you know you've got some dirty water coming down the pipeline, you've got the money and resources to direct the flow. I hope I am wrong. I hope personal turmoil equals basketball sucess somehow. Yeah.

Mavs in 5.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I Love This

I blogged about Stephen Fry's response letter to his 16 year old self a few days ago. The letter appeared in The Guardian and now they have printed (errr, published?) some of the reader's letters to their former/younger selves in response.

Seriously, this is like Valerian root and a hot meal from my mom all in one. It's nice to know that, minus a few Debbie Downers, the general school of thought is "Everything's gonna be okay."

Deep breath. And exhale. Thank you, Guardian.

Let's Win Game 2 for Dom

Seriously, I don't like all the colorful character actors from my childhood checking out all at the same time. So hey, Dallas Mavs....let's not act like loose kitty cats out there on the court tonight. Let's win one for Dom. Below is the text message exchange between my friend Chad and I after I broke the news to him:

Me: Dom DeLuise died today. When will the killing stop?!

Chad: Oh dear god. What a profoundly funny man.

Me: Profoundly and rotundly funny man. RIP Big Dom!

Chad: Has Burt Reynolds made a statement? How about Mel Brooks? Gene Wilder?

Me: Who can make a statement at a time like this? I think the laughs he left us with is all the statement we need.

Chad: What was the cause of death? Morbid obesity or over half a century of closeted homosexuality?

Me: No official cause yet though your theory holds water. Did you remember that his character in Smokey and the Bandit II was a hitchhiking Italian gynocologist? I did now.

Chad: Touche. I watched Golden Girls last night and very nearly wept.

Me: Can we watch Steel Magnolias soon?

Chad: Yes. Perhaps we could watch some old Maude reruns...

Monday, May 4, 2009

My Almost Entirely Non-Basketball Thoughts About Game 1 of the Mavs-Nuggets Series

Bullet Point Uno - When it comes to Nenes, I will always take this one:

over the one that killed us on the court yesterday. Does the Brazilian, basketball playing Nene have a gay best friend named Dwight who regularly calls people out for being “awful” at fashion shows? No. Does Brazilian, basketball playing Nene get trashed in stretch limos and sing catty songs about frenemies? Nope. Does the Brazilian, basketball-playing Nene have a foundation called Twisted Hearts that vaguely might have something to do with helping abused women by having wine parties where everyone wears fancy church hats? Nuh-uh. Most importantly, does the Brazilian, basketball playing have a past that includes exotic dancing? You see where I am going with this. And you see why every time that big, dumb Brazilian scored each one of his career playoff high 18 points, I just thought, “What would Dwight do?” right now. Clearly this extended comparison between a person on The Real Housewives of Atlanta (way to rep the 404?) and a member of the Denver Nuggets has bored, confused or annoyed most anyone who reads my blog. On to Thought #2.

Bullet Point Dos - The Birdman:

I sent my friend Danny a text during the first quarter asking him to serve as my alibi when I can no longer contain my urge to do something painful and or causing great embarrassment to Chris Andersen. I suggested that he tell the authorities that we were at Bible study and he has absolutely no idea how Chris Andersen ended up wandering the streets of East Dallas in a daze with the words “Love Hole” tattooed across his forehead along with an arrow pointing down the bridge of his nose, stopping neatly at the tip.

Listen, I get that he had it rough. And I do actually mean this with all sincerity: I feel for him in that respect. I respect his athleticism and the fact that he wasn’t Luke Walton-grandfathered into the league. But three things:

a) Buy your mom a house, you fuckbag. I have read the articles and sure, there’s probably more to the story than what we have read but jeeeeez. Really? I’m not saying buy her a Gulfstream and a gold and diamond Jesus-on-a-spinner chain or anything. But seriously? I’m pretty sure 60 or 70 grand could buy you a decent place in Iola, Texas. But whatever, I digress

b) I hate birds and I don’t like the stupid faces you make when you block shots so you put those two things together and I become nearly apoplectic when you block a shot. Not because you blocked one of our shots (though that IS rather annoying) but because you act like you just did some crazy Space Jam shit and the entire ABC broadcasting crew gets paid by the “Birdman” apparently.

c) This is the most important one. This is the one that I feel like needs to be said. Despite all your hardships, Chris Andersen. Despite your struggles with substance abuse, Chris Andersen. Despite going undrafted and playing in places like China and Sheboygan or wherever else you played before Denver and New Orleans, Chris Andersen. Despite all of that….you simply MUST look in a mirror. Right now.
You always had all the elements of total tooldom inside you but you kept them in complete balance so as not to overpower the senses. Bad tattoos but loveably shaggy hair. Soul patch, sure. But always something to counterbalance. Now, you’ve let the douche go unchecked and all those awful attributes have aligned and come together to form you circa right now. I have seen guys walking through the West Village on “All-Drinks-Totally-Free-if-You-Throw-the-Sideways-Peace-Sign” Night with more self-respect and looking far less ridiculous than you do. Seriously, I almost want to like you. I almost want to think that you are out there on the court every night, looking like you do in some Andy Kaufman-level test of just how gullible and easily-riled we all are. Instead, I think you probably hang out with a bunch of guys that act like, look like or actually are Jeremy Piven when not blocking shots and making pterodactyl faces.

Bullet Point Tres – Why did the Mavs squad look like Kent State, 1970?

Seriously, every time I diverted my eyes from the screen for a few seconds (which was often considering how many times the Mavs were turning it over and missing shots), I would look up to see a Mavs player sprawled out on the floor like Basketball Jonestown was starting to happen. First Dampier went down. Then Howard. Then Dirk. I’m pretty sure at one point I saw Rick Carlisle out cold in front of the scorer’s table. So the Mavs are taking their cues from those fainting goats who warn sheep herds about approaching predators? Neat! This is a hyper-violent and contact-heavy series so far and I understand that explains at least part of what I saw. And I also understand the Mavs trying to get the call. But seriously, it was like a squad of Eduardo Najeras and Manu Ginoblis (minus Ginobli’s ability to hold onto the ball and/or shoot it). STOP FALLING DOWN, DALLAS MAVERICKS. Get one of those candles that gets excess wax out of your ears or whatever you must to do reset your internal sense of balance. Just stop being horizontal so fucking much. Nothing says “we came here to fight” like “I think I see someone’s keys under Section 102”.

I will be attending Game 3 in person. If you lose Game 2, I will bring a Wood Block with me to the game on Saturday. Apparently, Gitmo-level aural torture is a turn-on for the Mavs.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Maybe it's the fact that it's the Friday of a long work-week. Maybe it's the fact that I am going to see my friend Dave Little later tonight play a set in which he promises to resort to bestiality within 3 minutes of the start of the set. Maybe I just will use any cheap old excuse to post something written by Stephen Fry. Most likely it's that last one. In case you have never met me and have only skimmed over this blog in an attempt to kill time until the correct bus comes, let me catch you up. I idolize Stephen Fry. He recently wrote a letter to his 16 year old self, a response to a letter that his 16 year old self wrote to his future self which he featured in his autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot. I am not gay and I hate to play that game where you co-opt someone else's thing, bending it slightly so you can ride on their cause coattails. As I have blogged about before, I have very close family and friends who are gay and before I made it to the end of this letter, I too had tears splashing across the keyboard. Also, being a poor and chubby teenager who only cares about theater class and The Smiths didn't make me Miss Popularity myself so I can feel his pain in some very small, miniscule way.

I should link to it probably so here's the link.

But fear not. Here's the whole thing, effortlessly plagiarized below for your reading pleasure.

Stephen Fry's letter to himself: Dearest absurd child

Just who was the young, arrogant and confused man to whom Stephen Fry recently felt compelled to write a long and heartfelt letter? Himself, 35 years ago

I hope you are well. I know you are not. As it happens you wrote in 1973 a letter to your future self and it is high time that your future self had the decency to write back. You declared in that letter (reproduced in your 1997 autobiography Moab Is My Washpot) that "everything I feel now as an adolescent is true". You went on to affirm that if ever you dared in later life to repudiate, deny or mock your 16-year-old self it would be a lie, a traducing, treasonable lie, a crime against adolescence. "This is who I am," you wrote. "Each day that passes I grow away from my true self. Every inch I take towards adulthood is a betrayal."

Oh, lord love you, Stephen. How I admire your arrogance and rage and misery. How pure and righteous they are and how passionately storm-drenched was your adolescence. How filled with true feeling, fury, despair, joy, anxiety, shame, pride and above all, supremely above all, how overpowered it was by love. My eyes fill with tears just to think of you. Of me. Tears splash on to my keyboard now. I am perhaps happier now than I have ever been and yet I cannot but recognise that I would trade all that I am to be you, the eternally unhappy, nervous, wild, wondering and despairing 16-year-old Stephen: angry, angst-ridden and awkward but alive. Because you know how to feel, and knowing how to feel is more important than how you feel. Deadness of soul is the only unpardonable crime, and if there is one thing happiness can do it is mask deadness of soul.

I finally know now, as I easily knew then, that the most important thing is love. It doesn't matter in the slightest whether that love is for someone of your own sex or not. Gay issues are important and I shall come to them in a moment, but they shrivel like a salted snail when compared to the towering question of love. Gay people sometimes believe (to this very day, would you credit it, young Stephen?) that the preponderance of obstacles and terrors they encounter in their lives and relationships is intimately connected with the fact of their being gay. As it happens at least 90% of their problems are to do with love and love alone: the lack of it, the denial of it, the inequality of it, the missed reciprocity in it, the horrors and heartaches of it. Love cold, love hot, love fresh, love stale, love scorned, love missed, love denied, love betrayed ... the great joke of sexuality is that these problems bedevil straight people just as much as gay. The 10% of extra suffering and complexity that uniquely confronts the gay person is certainly not incidental or trifling, but it must be understood that love comes first. This is tough for straight people to work out.

Straight people are encouraged by culture and society to believe that their sexual impulses are the norm, and therefore when their affairs of the heart and loins go wrong (as they certainly will), when they are flummoxed, distraught and defeated by love, they are forced to believe that it must be their fault. We gay people at least have the advantage of being brought up to expect the world of love to be imponderably and unmanageably difficult, for we are perverted freaks and sick aberrations of nature.They - poor normal lambs - naturally find it harder to understand why, in Lysander's words, "the course of true love never did run smooth".

Sexual availability, so long an impossible dream in your age, becomes the norm in the late 70s and early 80s, only to be shattered by a new disease whose horrors you cannot even imagine. You would little believe that I can say to you now across the gap of 35 years that we are the blessed ones. The people of Britain are happy (or not) because of Tolpuddle Martyrs, Chartists, infantry regiments, any number of ancestors who made the world more comfortable for them. And we, gay people, are happy now (or not) in large part thanks to Stonewall rioters, Harvey Milk, Dennis Lemon, Gay News, Ian McKellen, Edwina Currie (true) et al, and the battered bodies of bullied, beaten and abused gay men and women who stood up to be counted and refused to apologise for the way they were. It has given us something we never thought to have: pride. For a thousand years, shame was our lot and now, turning on a sixpence, we have arrived at pride - without even, it seems, an intervening period of well-it's-OK-I-suppose-wouldn't-have-chosen-it-but-there-you-go. Who'da thought it?

I know what you are doing now, young Stephen. It's early 1973. You are in the library, cross-referencing bibliographies so that you can find more and more examples of queer people in history, art and literature against whom you can hope to validate yourself. Leonardo, Tchaikovsky, Wilde, Barons Corvo and von Gloeden, Robin Maugham, Worsley, "an Englishman", Jean Genet, Cavafy, Montherlant, Roger Peyrefitte, Mary Renault, Michael Campbell, Michael Davies, Angus Stewart, Gore Vidal, John Rechy, William Burroughs.

So many great spirits really do confirm that hope! It emboldens you to know that such a number of brilliant (if often doomed) souls shared the same impulse and desires as you. I know the index-card waltz of (auto)biographies, poems and novels you are dancing: those same names are still so close to the surface of my mind nearly four decades later. Novels, poetry and the worlds of art and ideas are opening up in front of you almost incidentally. You spend all your time in the library yearning to be told that you are not alone, and an unlooked for side-effect of this just happens to be a real education achieved in a private school designed for philistine bumpkins. Being born queer has given you, by mistake, a fantastic advantage over the rugger-playing ordinaries who surround you. But those rugger-playing ordinaries have souls too. And you should know that. I know you cannot believe it now. They seem so secure, so assured, so blessedly normal. They gave Cuthbert Worsley the Kipling-derived title of his overwhelmingly important (to you) autobiography The Flannelled Fool: "these are the men that have lost their soul/ The flannelled fool at he wicket/ And the muddied oaf at the goal".

You look down at the fools almost as much as you fear them. The ordinary people, whose path through life is guaranteed. They won't have to spend their days in public libraries, public lavatories and public courts ashamed, spurned and reviled. There is no internet. No Gay News. No gay chatlines. No men-seeking-men personals. No out-and-proud celebs. Just a world of shame and secrecy.

Somehow, as you age, a miracle will be wrought. You will begin by descending deeper into the depths: expulsion, crime and prison - nothing really to do with being gay, but everything to do with love and your inability to cope with it. Yet you will, as the Regency rakes used to say, "make a recover" and find yourself at university, where it will be astonishingly easy to be open about your sexuality. No great trick, for the university is Cambridge, long a hotbed of righteous tolerance, spiritual heavy-petting and homo hysteria. You will emerge from Cambridge and enter a world where being "out" is no big deal, although a puzzlingly small number of your coevals will find it as easy as you to emerge from the shadows. Before you damn anyone for failing to come out, look to their parents. The answer almost always lies there. Oh how lucky in that department, as in so many, you are, young Stephen.

But don't kid yourself. For millions of teenagers around Britain and everywhere else, it is still 1973. Taunts, beatings and punishment await gay people the world over in playgrounds and execution grounds (the distance between which is measured by nothing more than political constitutions and human will). Yes, you will grow to be a very, very, very, very lucky man who is able to express his nature out loud without fear of hatred or reprisal from any except the most deluded, demented and sad. But that is a small battle won. A whole theatre of war remains. This theatre of war is bigger than the simple issue of being gay, just as the question of love swamps the question of mere sexuality. For alongside sexual politics the entire achievement of the enlightenment (which led inter alia to gay liberation) is under threat like never before. The cruel, hypocritical and loveless hand of religion and absolutism has fallen on the world once more.

So my message from the future is twofold. Fear not, young Stephen, your life will unfold in richer, more accepted and happier ways than you ever dared hope. But be wary, for the most basic tenets of rationalism, openness and freedom that nourish you now and seem so unassailable are about to be harried and besieged by malevolent, mad and medieval minds.

You poor dear, dear thing. Look at you weltering in your misery. The extraordinary truth is that you want to stay there. Unlike so many of the young, you do not yearn for adulthood, pubs and car keys. You want to stay where you are, in the Republic of Pubescence, where feeling has primacy and pain is beautiful. And you know what ... ?

I think you are right.