Aug 2, 2014

Spring 2004: The Worst Date in Florida History

My day with Ryan in the spring of 1992 has won awards as the Worst Date in West Hollywood History because everything that could go wrong, did.  But 12 years later, when I was living in Florida, I had the Worst Date in New York History.  Before the evening was over, I hated the guy.   And his house. And his crazy housemates.

I should have known Andre would be a problem, when we met at the Filling Station: he was wearing a leather vest and a t-shirt that said "Flowah Powah."  Dropping the r's?  Really?

But he was hot, with 3 of the 5 characteristics that I find attractive: dark-skinned, shorter than me, and muscular running to husky. Most likely he also had #4, gifted beneath the belt (when I visited South Africa, I met someone with all 5).

We exchanged email addresses, and a few days later he invited me to dinner at his house on Saturday night.

Things went downhill from there.

1. He lived a 45-minute drive away. In West Hollywood we wouldn't date anyone who lived more than 10 minutes away.

2. In a swamp.  To get to his house, you had to walk across a bridge over a muddy moat occupied by an alligator.  

3. His house was in the midst of a major renovation.  The living room and kitchen had a floor, but you had to walk on bare boards across mud to get to the bedrooms and bathrooms.  I saw mice, frogs, and a garter snake.  Probably food for the alligators.

4. No one understand the phrase "I don't drink," so when I'm invited to dinner, I always bring 2 cans of Diet Coke.  This time I forgot. Andre had only beer, wine, and whiskey.  I had to drink brackish, bad-tasting tap water.

5. He said "I'm quite a cook.  I love experimenting with new dishes."  And indeed, he had a whole bookcase full of cookbooks.  But he served some tasteless lentil-squash horror over brown rice.  And no dessert.

By this point, I was thinking "You'd better be spectacular beneath the belt!"

6. One of his housemates joined us for dinner: a tall, thin, swishy queen from Alabama named Beau.  Not a problem per se, except in Florida it was customary to invite your roommate to "share" your date, and impolite for the date to say "no."  

7. During dinner, they both drank quite a lot and got very tipsy.  Drinking is one of my Top 10 Turn-Offs.

8. While we listened to slow, lugubrious, depressing torch songs.  One after the other. Like Judy Garland:

The night is bitter, 
The stars have lost their glitter, 
The winds grow colder 
And suddenly you're older, 
And all because of the man that got away. 

"Do you have anything lively?"  I asked.  "Energetic, upbeat, non funereal, from this century?"

Andre frowned.  "I don't know -- I'll check."  He sifted through his voluminous collection of CDs, and finally came up with one lively track.  Barbra Streisand singing "Lucky."  Beau lip-synched and acted out the moves.

9. After dinner, we sat on the couch, with more torch songs playing in the background.  Beau put on a drag outfit and lip-synched to Avril Lavigne's "Happy Ending" (which isn't about a happy ending), before saying "Sorry, can't stick around to play, girls.  The night awaits!" and flouncing out.

10. "Want to do some crystal?"  Andre asked.



I hate drugs even more than drinking!  You'd better be phenomenal beneath the belt!

11. Finally Andre led me back across the bare boards to his bedroom.  I hid my wallet so it wouldn't vanish, like I always do when visiting someone for the first time.  We started kissing and groping.

Then we heard a door slam.  "Oh, that's my other housemate, Ricky.  He's still in high school, but he stays here sometimes."

"High school?" I repeated in surprise.  "How old is he?"

"Eighteen -- he just had his birthday.  We gave him a spanking.  You should have seen him when he was sixteen, though.  The cutest little hustler you'd ever want to meet. "

Suddenly the teenager was at the door.  He was Hispanic, light skinned, with three earrings in one ear and none in the other.  Wearing a Flowah Powah t-shirt.

"Whew, Daddy got it going on!" Ricky exclaimed, looking at me. "Hey, how you like these guns?"  He ripped off his t-shirt and flexed.

"Very impressive," I admitted.

"You can touch them if you want.  Or touch something else, even better."  He flounced onto the bed.  "You into sharing, Papi?"

"It's just our first date!"

12.  "Hey, Boomer's with me!" Andre exclaimed.  "Go to your room!"

"This is my room, Papi." He flounced onto the bed.  "Got any crystal?"

"In the chest in the living room.  And turn on some Judy while you're out there."

That was the last straw.  I had to get out of this mad house!

I made an excuse, pieced my way past the mud, mice, alligators, torch songs, drag queens, underaged hustlers, and miscellaneous drugs, and zoomed as fast as I could back to the normalcy of Wilton Manors.

13. I left my wallet in Andre's house.

See also: The Surprise in Comic Book Guy's Bedroom; and 15 Simple Rules of Gay Dating.

Super Mario Brothers

When I was a kid, there were no video games.  In college we played Asteroids, in which your space ship shoots asteroids and flying saucers.

Mario Brothers appeared in arcades in 1983, and the Nintendo home game Super Mario Brothers in 1987.  Oddly enough, my parents were fans.  I have fond memories of summer nights in the 1990s, living in West Hollywood but back in Rock Island for a visit, the screen door open to let in a breeze, eating watermelon or corn on the cob, and listening to the theme music coming from the living room.

There was also a Super Mario Brothers All-Stars in 1993, a Super Mario Brothers Deluxe in 1999, and various games devoted to other characters in the Mario universe, but by that time my parents had lost interest.

Nearly all of the game plots are sexist.  A princess is kidnapped, and the brothers Mario and Luigi, drawn as stereotypic Italian-American plumbers, must rescue her.

They are sometimes accompanied by Yoshi, a sentient dinosaur, and Toad, a sentient mushroom who wears a turban.

The only game without a princess to rescue is Yoshi's Island (1995), in which Baby Mario, accompanied by a clan of Yoshis, must rescue Baby Luigi.

However, none of the games involve a fade-out kiss: neither Mario nor Luigi display any heterosexual interest, leaving them open to gay subtexts.  Maybe they're a gay couple, not "brothers."

Mario cosplay is common, with some muscular Marios, Luigis, and Toads strutting about.

A film version, Super Mario Bros., appeared in 1993.  It stars Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as Mario and Luigi, plumbers in real-life Brooklyn who are zapped into a parallel Earth run by the descendants of dinosaurs,  They rescue Princess Daisy, as expected.

  Of course, Hollywood movies must always have a heterosexist plot, so Luigi and Daisy fall in love.

But, on the plus side, John Leguizamo has a shirtless scene (top photo), before he got all craggy and bizarre.

Aug 1, 2014

Pierre Perrier: Bisexual Nudity a la Francais

Pierre Perrier (great name!) has made a career of playing guys involved with men and women.

Beginning with Douches froids (Cold Showers, 2005), about a tragic three-way romance between teenagers (Pierre, Johan Libéreau, Salomé Stévenin).

And Chacun sa nuit (One to Another, 2006), about a small-town teenage musician (Arthur Dupont) who is having affairs with just about everyone, from his sister to Sébastien (Pierre).  A definite disadvantage in tracking down his killer when he ends up dead.

He has only a small part in Le héros de la famille (Family Hero, 2006), about a drag performer/night club owner who dies, leaving coworkers, friends, and family scrambling to take over.  Maybe that's why there's no bisexual love triangle.

But he's back to the boy-boy-girl machinations with Plein sud (Going South, 2009).

In American Translation (2011), a guy (Pierre) has a girlfriend (Lizzie Brocheré), but also enjoys having sex with gay men and then strangling them (here Arthur Harel).

Chroniques sexuelles d'une famille d'aujourd'hui (Sexual Chronicles of a French Family, 2012) reveals the sexual pecadillos of three generations of horny Frenchmen after young Romain (Mathias Melloul) is caught masturbating in class.  There are gay and straight liaisons, prostitution, three-ways of various sorts, and lots of heterosexual machinations.

In the tv series Les revenants (The Returned, 2012), several people who died years ago return to a small French community, with no memory of their deaths or the passage of time.  Simon (Pierre) returns to find that his fiance is engaged to someone else.  She says that he committed suicide, but he believes that he was murdered.  No gay content.

Still, that's quite a lot of same-sex romance and sexual machinations.  And when you consider that most of Pierre's movies feature frontal nudity, sometimes even with arousal, it makes his career well worth following.

Jul 31, 2014

James Shigeta and His Gay Buddies

Asian male actors have been underrepresented in American media, and when they appear at all, they are typecast as computer nerds and wise purveyors of inscrutable wisdom, never as hetero-romantic leads.  Even when they are action heroes, they never "get the girl."

Except for James Shigeta, who died a few days ago at the age of 85.   When he first started out in Hollywood in the 1950s, he broke through the racial barriers to land hetero-romantic roles.  One was even interracial, which scandalized audiences in the 1960s.

Generally the pursuit of The Girl was mediated by a competitor or buddy, giving Shigeta's movies a number of pleasant gay subtexts.

The Crimson Kimono (1959): Two L.A. detectives (Shigeta, bisexual actor Glenn Corbett) fall in love with the same girl.

Flower Drum Song (1961): Two Chinese-American men, a nightclub owner (Jack Soo) and a college student (Shigeta) fall in love with the same girl.

Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966): Elvis starts a helicopter service in Hawaii, and bonds with Dan Kohana (James Shigeta) and his ten-year old daughter.

Nobody's Perfect (1968): In Japan, an American soldier (Physique Pictorial star Doug McClure) falls in love with a Japanese woman who is betrothed to a traditional man (Shigeta).

Shigeta received fewer starring roles after the Swinging Sixties ended, but he appeared on tv in Medical Center, Mission: Impossible, The Young Lawyers, The Streets of San Francisco, and Hawaii Five-O, playing both idealistic young heroes and villains.

I remember him in Samurai (1979), a silly tv pilot with Joe Penny (then rumored to be gay) as a lawyer who goes undercover as a samurai warrior (which the producers thought was some kind of superhero).  Shigeta played Takeo, his Asian-wisdom-spouting sensei.

In Cage (1989) and Cage 2 (1994), two buddy-bonding man-mountains (Lou Ferrigno, Reb Brown) open a bar, and run afoul of the gang lord Tin Lum Yin (Shigeta) and his illegal "cage matches."

His last role was in The People I've Slept With (2009), about a woman who has had many lovers.  When she finds herself pregnant, she goes on a quest to find the father, accompanied by her gay BFF (Wilson Cruz). Shigeta plays her hip dad.

No wife is mentioned in his wikipedia article.  Maybe he was gay.

See also: What Happened to the Asian Beefcake?

Jul 30, 2014

Thornton Wilder: Gay People Can Write Depressing Novels, Too

I have no time for Great Literature.  It's not only heterosexist, it's usually terribly depressing.

Heterosexuals aren't alone in insisting that Great Literature must be terribly depressing.  When gay people write Great Literature, it's usually terribly depressing.

Like Thornton Wilder.  I've been force to read (or pretend to read) his stuff three times.

1. People fall to their deaths.  

When we were in junior high, we were too young for Great Literature like Ulysses and As I Lay Dying, so our English teacher substituted The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927), by Thornton Wilder.

"This is Great Literature," she said.  "It won a Pulitzer Prize because it's so great.  Read it, and you'll see."

I read the back cover blurb.  A group of people fall to their deaths when a rope bridge in the Andes collapses.

"Why on Earth would anybody write about something so terrible?" I wondered.  "I'm certainly not going to read it."

When the teacher asked us to "Explain the theme of this book," I wrote: "Everybody dies."

 I got a C-.

2. People die of various ailments. 

In high school, my English teacher assigned Wilder's Our Town (1938), which also won a Pulitzer Prize because it's so Great.

It's about small-town teenagers George and Emily fall in love and get married. Emily dies in childbirth.  The last act has her in the cemetery, talking to the other people who have died since Act I.

"Why would Thornton Wilder sit down and write this stuff?" I wondered.  "And why would people actually pay to see it performed?"

When the teacher asked us to "Explain the theme of this play," I wrote: "Everybody dies." again.  I got a D.  I guess she wanted detailed analysis.

I should have written "Emily and everybody else dies."

3. The world comes to an end three times.

When I was in grad school at the University of Southern California, my Modern Drama professor insisted that we read Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth (1942), which also won a Pulitzer Prize because it's so Great.

I was leery, but also curious.  How could Wilder up the ante of depressing Great Literature?

Easy:  it's about a New England family, George and Maggie Antrobus, who are also Adam and Eve, and their two children, Henry and Gladys.  They live through the destruction of the human race three times.

In the First Act, by an Ice Age.
In the Second Act, by a Flood.
In the Third Act, by a cataclysmic war.

But every time they just start over again, and things go back to being exactly the way they were.

Talk about depression!  It's an endless cycle of death and despair!

When the professor asked us to "Explain the theme of this play," I wrote "It replicates the Hindu cycle of samsara, death and rebirth."  I got a C+.

And, by the way, none of the three works contain any gay characters, themes, plots, or subplots.  Nil.

Who was this Thornton Wilder who spent his life writing depressing, heterosexist Great Literature that I couldn't read, so I had to fudge, with the result of low grades?

He was a celebrity writer,a bon vivant, who traveled in famous circles and knew everyone in the Jazz Age.  He was gay, but so tortured by self-hatred that he didn't do much about it.

Even with his close friend, the very hot Samuel Stewart, who later became famous as the novelist Phil Andros (top photo).  Stewart said that they had a relationship, but their sexual encounters were skittish, furtive, momentary, and never discussed.

Wilder wrote in journal:

 "I am more and more willing to agree with certain authorities that homosexuality is negative — that it is, even when apparently aggressive, a submission to solicitations."

Ok, that sounds homophobic, until you remember that in Thornton Wilder's world, everything is negative.  There is no meaning, no hope, just suffering and the inevitability of death, no matter if you are gay.

See also: Why I am Not a Novelist.

Hello, Dolly!: The First Gay Diva

In 1964, Jerry Herman, the gay composer who gave us the anthem "I Am What I Am," and Michael Stewart, the gay playwright who gave us Bye, Bye Birdie, sat down to write a musical comedy adaption of The Merchant of Yonkers (1938), a play by gay writer Thornton Wilder.  It was, in turn, an adaption of Einen Jux will er sich machen (He'll Go on a Spree, 1842), by gay Austrian playwright Johann Nestroy.

The end product of this long gay legacy is Hello, Dolly!, the story of Mrs. Dolly Levi  (Carol Channing on stage, Barbra Streisand in the 1969 movie), a professional purveyor of heterosexual romance in Yonkers, New York.  Actually, she claims to be a professional arranger of everything:

If you want a law abolished, jury swayed, or toenails polished, just leave everything to me.
If you want your liver tested, glasses made, or cash invested, just leave everything to me.

But in this musical, she's only involved in matchmaking, and she does quite a lot of it. Most musicals have two hetero-romances, one serious and one funny.  Here there are four.

I hated West Side Story, where Uncle Toms created an oppressive heteronormative nightmare out of just one hetero-romance, but for some reason I quite like Hello, Dolly, with its four.

Maybe because the first two romances come between Barnaby (Danny Locklin) and Cornelius (Michael Crawford), clerks of wealthy feed store owner Horace Vandergelder, who might easily be a gay couple.  They go out on the town in search of anonymous hookups as a sort of male-bonding competition:

We'll see the shows at Delmonico's, and we'll close the town in a whirl
And we won't come back until we've kissed a girl!

And because the third comes between fey artist Ambrose (Tommy Tune) and Vandergelder's niece, who is trying to establish her independence from her domineering uncle. They have perfectly mercenary reasons to wed.

The fourth is with Dolly herself.  She is approaching middle age (excuse me?  Barbra was 27), and worrying that  "the parade will pass by," so she sets out to land client Vandergelder (Walter Matthau). I don't know why -- their personalities are polar opposites, and she's closer in age to Barnaby and Cornelius.

Maybe because he's quite wealthy?

We know why Vandergelder wants to get married: for the housework.

In the winter she'll shovel the ice, and lovingly set out the traps for the mice
She's a joy and treasure,  for practically speaking, to whom can you turn when the plumbing is leaking?

So instead of a claustrophobic "One Hand, One Heart," we have an entire roomful of male camaraderie, and one gay diva:

I feel the room swayin', while the band's playin'
One of your old favorite songs from way back when
So take her wrap, fellas,  Find her an empty lap, fellas
Dolly'll never go away again

There was a lot of gay talent among the cast, too.  On stage, Cornelius was played by campy gay performer Charles Nelson Reily.  In the movie, Tommy Tune was gay, and Danny Locklin bisexual.  Both Barbra Streisand and Carol Channing were gay divas (although Channing took a few steps backwards recently with her insistence that the Bible condemns gay people).

See also: West Side Story

Jul 29, 2014

Searching for Beefcake at the Kosice Peace Marathon

I spent the summer of 2005 in Levoča, Slovakia, teaching "food service management" to sullen Slovak high schoolers. But at least there were a lot of opportunities for seeing beefcake, like side trips to Prague and Vienna, and the water park of Tetralandia

And the International Peace Marathon.

Almost every year since 1924, the town of Košice, about  1 1/2 hours east of Levoča, hosts a marathon.

Plus a half-marathon, a 20 km wheelchair race, a 4.2 km mini-marathon, and many other events for amateur athletes from all over the world.

I didn't actually see the marathon -- it takes place during the first week of October -- but there were preliminary events and practices all summer, in conjunction with the Cassovia Folkfest and the Summer in the Park.

There weren't any naked runners, unfortunately, but a number were shirtless, and in Slovakia there are always beneath-the-belt sights to be admired.

Plus the town, dominated by St. Elisabeth Cathedral,  Košice Castle, and of course, a statue of a naked runner.

See also: Searching for Beefcake at a Slovak Waterpark and A Beefcake Tour of Eastern Europe

Jul 28, 2014

The Mysterious Cabinet Photo of Jasper Redfern

I found this photo on the internet.  An extremely muscular man, with a modern bodybuilder's physique, with his hands behind his back.  The caption said "Jasper Redfern...Sheffield."  Obviously the photographer.

Who was this Jasper Redfern who was taking photos of naked men at the turn of the last century?  Was he gay?

According to Who's Who of Victorian Cinema, Jasper Redfern (1872-1928) was a photographer and exhibitor for Lumière Cinématographe, an early film producer.

In 1899 he began to photograph sports matches, including Sheffield's football games, and in 1900 he took a tour of North Africa, making motion picture travelogues along the way.

North Africa seems promising.  The "Lure of the Mediterranean" was very strong.  Gay men from Andre Gide to William Burroughs traveled there in search of homoerotic freedom.

Upon his return, Redfern became a full-time moviemaker, directing films like Uncle Podger's Mishaps and Kick Me, I'm Bill Bailey.  He opened the Jasper Redfern Palace by the Sea at Westcliffe, which offered offered a variety of Vaudeville acts in addition to film.

Later he devoted himself to medical research, experimenting with the use of X-Rays to cure cancer.  Ironically, he died of cancer caused by over-exposure to X-Rays.

No mention of a wife and kids, but he may have had some.

So why the muscleman?

It's a cabinet photo from the 1880s, when Redfern was still a teenager, still thinking about his life's work.

Often the photos were sold to painters as a cheap alternative to hiring models.  Maybe Redfern sold it to a student at the Sheffield Institute of the Arts.

Or maybe he kept it, as a model for his own destiny.

Manly P. Hall: Gay Psychic Murdered by His Lover

When I lived in Los Angeles, there was a University of Philosophical Research at 3910 Los Feliz, near the Silverlake gay neighborhood.  But it wasn't a university, and it didn't do any philosophical research, although it had a library of 50,000 volumes.  It was a mystical/occult organization founded by Manly P. Hall (1901-1990), who published The Secret Teachings of All Ages (1928).

I haven't read it.  It's a gigantic compendium of occult lore, thick, dense, and impenetrable, with chapters on "The Bembine Table of Isis," "The Hiramic Legend," "Hermetic Pharmacology," and "Fundamentals of Qabbalistic Cosmogony."  But it was immensely popular, on the shelf of everyone from H.P. Lovecraft to F. Scott Fitzgerald, and it has never gone out of print.

Hall became one of the biggest celebrities of the era.  In 1934 he founded the Philosophical Research Society, and stocked its library with thousands of rare occult volumes purchased for him by wealthy disciples, notably oil heiress Carolyn Lloyd.

He wrote many more books -- nearly 200 -- some with beefcake covers, like this rather buffed deity with a shining phallus creating the worlds.

He delivered over 7,000 lectures.

For all his erudition, Hall's philosophy was simple.  His Ten Basic Rules for Better Living include:
1. Stop worrying.
2. Don't try to dominate and control other people.
3. Learn to relax
4. Cultivate a sense of humor
5. Reign in your ambition.
6. Don't accumulate more than you need.
7. Believe in something bigger than yourself.
8. Never intentionally harm anyone.
9. Beware of anger.
10. Never blame others for your own mistakes.

Elvis Presley was a fan.  So was Ronald Reagan. He officiated at the wedding of horror movie great Bela Lugosi.

Disciples stood in line around the block on Los Feliz Avenue to hear his advice.  Astrologers, bodybuilders, magicians, actors, writers, philosophers.

A few -- the best and brightest, the most eager, the most muscular (see top photo) -- stayed on, to become his assistants.  Like future paranormal researcher Arthur Louis Joquel.

Hall was gay or bisexual.  He was married twice, but neither marriage was ever consummated.  His wives and disciples turned a blind eye to his interest in attractive male proteges, and quickly put a stop to any hint of scandal. Except for the last one.

In 1988, when Hall had become morbidly obese, almost unable to walk, and showed signs of dementia, he fell in with a salesman-turned-psychic named Daniel Fritz, who claimed to be a reincarnation of a prince from ancient Atlantis, and his son David, who regularly took spirit-journeys to Jupiter.

No different than the hundreds of other psychics, astrologers, occultists, and reincarnated princes that Hall had entertained over the years.  But his disciples suspected that these two were con artists.  

In August 1990 Hall rewrote his will to give Daniel his entire estate, worth some $52,000,000.  Six days later, he was dead.  Daniel and David were alone with the body for several hours.  Disciples believed that the two had murdered him.

An inquest found no evidence of foul play.  But the will was contested, and the estate reverted to Hall's widow.  Daniel and David moved on to other clients.

Jul 27, 2014

Herman Brix: Almost the First Tarzan

The iconic Tarzan has always been Johnny Weissmuller, who took Edgar Rice Burroughs' sophisticated, multilingual Lord Greystoke and embued him with  "me Tarzan" jargon, the fake-African "Umgawa," the chimp companion, and the vine-swinging.  But for a trick of fate, Herman Brix would have become the Ape Man.

Like Weissmuller, Herman Brix was an Olympic athlete. He won a silver medal for the shot-put in 1928.  He moved to Los Angeles in 1929 and went to work in the movies.  In 1931, MGM chose him to star in the new talkie, Tarzan the Ape Man, but he broke his shoulder before filming could begin, and Johnny Weissmuller took his place.

But a few years later Brix had another opportunity to play Tarzan, in a movie serial, The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935).  

It was so popular that Brix became typecast as Tarzan, and found it difficult to get other work.

He de-Germanized his name into Bruce Bennett, and appeared in many more movie serials, Westerns, and detective movies.  After serving in the Navy during World War II, he continued to work, mostly in B-movies.

In 1961, he wrote and played the villain in The Fiend of Dope Island.  The "dope" is marijuana, which whip-wielding Charlie Davis (Bennett) forces innocent Caribbean natives to grow for him, until David (Robert Bray) shows up.

He died in 2006, at the age of 100.

An Excruciatingly Boring, Heterosexist "Boyhood"

In college I learned that whenever someone tells you that a novel like Ulysses is Epic!  Marvelous! Stupendous!  The Best Thing Every Written!, it's bound to be heterosexist.  Not to mention deadly dull.

I'm pretty sure that's the selling point.  It's the Best Thing Ever Written because there are no gay people in the universe.  No gay people!  Marvelous!  Stupendous!

Same thing with movies.  I just saw Boyhood (2014), which got reviews like A Triumph! One of the Most Extraordinary Films of the Century!  Will Change Your Life!

It was awful.  Like two tv movies on the Hallmark Channel crammed together, but without the dramatic tension.

Movie #1:  Single Mom Patricia Arquette is raising two children in small-town Texas, with the unwelcome interference of her irresponsible ex-husband (Ethan Hawke, left), who wants to become a country-western singer but settles for working in an insurance agency.  She goes to college, where she dates and marries her psychology professor  (Marco Perella), but he turns out to be abusive, so they divorce.

She completes her doctorate in an impossibly short period of time, and becomes a professor without any publications.  One of her students (Brad Hawkins, top photo) catches her eye, so she marries him.  Later they divorce, I think.  It's not really clear.

Movie #2: The story switches to her son Mason (Ellar Coltrane), who has become a sullen, artsy, exceptionally ugly teenager.  He gets a part-time job as a dishwasher, butts heads with his photography teacher, gets depressed, smokes, drinks, has sex with girls, and has long, boring conversations about the meaning of life.

In the final scene, he begins college.  His roommate and two girls invite him to go camping for long, boring conversations about the meaning of life.

The schtick of the movie is: it was filmed over a 12 year period, with the main cast returning year after year to film new scenes.

That might explain why it is so episodic, with characters appearing out of nowhere and then vanishing without comment.

And why it's so incredibly, intensely, "just shoot me" boring.

But it doesn't explain why this is such an aggressively heterosexist world.  In Psychology class, the professor lectures on universal heterosexual desire:  "Whenever you see someone of the opposite gender, you are instantly drawn to them."  Questions of "Do you have a girlfriend?" and advice about how to handle heterosexual relationships inform Mason's life, long before his parents have any way to know his sexual orientation.  Once he becomes a teenager, it's girls! girls! girls! all the time.

I think the new Transformers movie is playing in the theater next door.  See that instead.

Or anything on the Hallmark Channel.  At least it will break up the monotony with commercials.