the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Been There, Done That


I recently went with Danny and his wife, Kendall, to a Academy screening of Bob Fosse’s “Cabaret.”  It is a great film and would have won the Oscar in the 1972 if a little film titled “The Godfather” didn’t win instead.

My favorite scene takes place in a German beer garden.  An Aryan boy in his Hitler Youth outfit stands up and sings “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” a beautiful nationalistic song about the Fatherland. One by one, all of the customers get up and chant along, mesmerized by the boy’s voice and the Nazi vision.  The only one who remains sitting is an old man.  He is shaking his head.  He’s old enough to have seen this shit before.  He knows better. 

Do people really get wiser with age?  Who knows.  I have some really dumb older relatives.  But I think you do gain experience as you age.  I’m surprised that our culture doesn’t draw more on the experience of those who have “been there, done that.”  We might think that an older person — someone over 65 — is “out of it” because they don’t use a Tivo.  But the last generation has adapted to changes in society and technology that are more dramatic than anything we have seen.   We’ve watched a 56k modem evolve into an iPod.  But they’ve seen a 56′ Ford become a space shuttle.  And isn’t the latest rock star really a different packaging of the last rock star who was a different packaging of Elvis, who was a different packaging of Frank Sinatra?

Lately, I’ve been feeling “older.”  When I say that, I don’t necessarily mean in body or spirit, but more in my interests in life.  When I started this blog, I was going to write about “pop culture.”  I still love movies, TV, and music, but recently, less so.  Lindsay Lohan – should I really care about her life?   After all, I’m not a 15 year old girl.   I’m not even a gay editor of a gossip blog that caters to 15 year old girls.   I skipped the Emmys this year.  And the MTV Video Music Awards.  And you certainly didn’t see me waiting in line for the first night’s showing of “Snakes on a Plane.” 

I know for many of you, admitting this lack of interest of popular culture is the greatest sin possible.  I know how essential it is to be on top of everything.   To be a hipster.  To be in the know.   To be seen at the right places.  To know the cool bands.   I’ve been there.   And now Neilochka is saying he doesn’t even care about “Snakes on a Plane” — a movie with Samuel L. Jackson of all people!  How DORKY is this guy?  Does all he do is IM single women and read blogs?

Which brings me to my next topic of conversation — the website Gawker, the hip New York media blog.

If I don’t stand in line for the opening of a movie, or a nightclub, I’m certainly not going to stand in line to write a comment on a website.  Did you see the rigmarole you have to go through to comment there?  My friend told me about an interesting article today on Gawker.  But when I went to comment, I saw this:

If you’d like an invitation to become a Gawker commenter, you can apply by leaving a comment. Try to make your first one particularly witty. The comment will only appear once (or if) you’re put on the list.

1. Who can leave comments on Gawker?

Anyone who has been invited, either by us or by a friend. The invite system works like Gmail’s invite system. We’ve invited a bunch of our favorite media mavens, bloggers, and frequent tipsters to comment, then given them invitations to share with their friends and colleagues. That way, the burden of inclusion, and exclusion, is shared.

2. Why are comments by invitation only?

Most online communities, like hip bars, are quickly overrun. Not that we’ll be any exception. But we’re going to try to put off that moment for as long as possible.

3. How can I become a commenter?

A) Find a friend with an invitation to share. Many of the people who we’ve invited to comment have also received invitations to share with friends. We’ll continue to seed selected inboxes with invitations to share so the supply doesn’t die out.

B) Tip us. We’ve invited some of our most frequent tipsters to comment, as a thanks for all the help they’ve given us. If you’re looking to comment, raise your chances by sending useful tips to us.

C) Convince us. If you’re lurking inside a major media company, with dirt to dish, we might be interested in having you as a commenter. For instance, we’ll send an invite to anyone with a or email address who asks for one.

D) Blog. If you’re a blogger, you’ve got a stake in what you’re saying. Many Gawker comments invitations have gone out to fellow bloggers whose work we admire.

Jesus.  It’s like I have to learn to juggle just to write some dumb comment.  I’m surprised that they didn’t want me to bring them the head of Medusa.

Now in the past, this type of thing would make me upset.  I would be desperate to be included with the cool folk or bitter that I was such a loser.  I would feel insecure that I am not good enough (which is the point) and probably one of the reasons thousands of need-to-be-connected bloggers link to this commercial site.  

But, instead, I just shrugged.  I was too lazy to write a witty comment.   I had a good comment, but I wasn’t sure how witty it really was.  Besides, from my own experiences in real life — the people at these type of parties are never too exciting.  So, that’s it.  No huffing and puffing.  If Gawker wants my comment, they know where to find me.  I can always get my gossip at Entertainment Tonight.

I had a similar “shrug it off” experience at Saturday’s Los Angeles Blogger’s Garage Sale.  I stopped by and it was great seeing Carly and Communicatrix.  And the rumor was true.  Half of the participants were drag queens.  As I was leaving, I encountered two guys who were friends of friends.  One guy had on heels and the other was carrying colored wigs. I made some passing comment about the cool wigs, but they ignored me and started acting very “draq queenish.”   I figured they were trying to shock me.  I was wearing khaki pants and a button down Oxford shirt, despite the 100 degree weather (I need to do a laundry again!), so I must have looked like John Cheever walking into the wrong suburban cocktail party.  These guys perceived me as the white-bread Redondo Beach guy and they were going to do a little extra prancing to shock me and make me feel as uncomfortable as they would be in a redneck bar.   

Now, in the past, this might have bothered me.  What if these with-it guys actually thought I am a  — my god — a Republican — in this preppy Ivy League dress shirt?  I would have desperately felt the urge to tell these guys that I am as “hip” as they are.  That I’m OK with their outlandish lifestyle.  That it isn’t shocking to me to see men wearing women’s clothes.  In fact, I would have told them to run home and do a search on Google for the #1 link to “Husbands who wear women’s panties” — Yes, I’ve seen it all, done it all. 

But, it wasn’t worth my time.  I didn’t need to prove to them that I am a hipster or trendy — or anything.  I really didn’t care what they thought.  And that was a good feeling. 

And that made me feel “older.”  Or maybe, more “mature” is a better way of saying that.

Before I headed off, one of the drag queens dropped a wig, and bent down to pick it up.  I caught a glimpse of the back of his underwear.  They were Fruit of the Loom tighty-whiteys.

“Faker,” I mumbled to myself, as I headed down Melrose Blvd.


A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:   When I Grow Up to Be a Man



  1. Melissa

    I understand exactly what you are saying. The need, no matter how large or small, to be viewed a certain way, to be accepted by certain people, is no longer there. And thankfully the anxiety that goes with it leaves too. Would I ever go back to being that young girl who gave a damn? Nope. I’ll stick with 34 and what I’ve learned and the self acceptance I’ve achieved. It’s so much better this side of 30.

  2. The Cynical Girl

    Some would say that tighty-whiteys are retro-hip, but those people would be wrong.

  3. Tatyana

    Hmmm, a faker who wears thightey-whitey under the drug queen outfit and another, with his wife’s panties camouflaged by oxford button-down…Tough choice.

    I think I’ll be heading to the nudie-beach.

  4. cruisin-mom

    Geez Neil, how should I feel reading this…you people in your 30’s think you’re old…I guess I’m ready to be put out to pasture then, being 50!

  5. communicatrix

    Excellent post.

    I think I am, at 45 (in a week!), officially Old As Dirt in Hollywood years.

    You know what?

    I’d never go back. Yes, I’d like the energy I had as a 20-year-old (or a 30-year-old, for that matter) but no way would I trade anything else, even my wrinkles or flab.

    Sadly, not all people choose to take the gift of perspective that is freely offered with age. Me? I supersized it.

    F**k trends; it’s just another way The Man tries to get you down. You and your penis, you just keep marching to whatever crazy beat it is you’ve got going.

    Rock on, as the kids (used to) say…

  6. chantel

    Neil, I’ll be another year older on Saturday. I think I have wised up some but I also think that’s why I refuse to grow up. My older relatives were also dumbass’s. I figure as long as I stay “open”, “honest” and close to my kids I’ll stay on top of things. On the other hand, I refuse to stand in line for clubs, restaurants or coffee. I have zero interest in what’s “in”, “hip” or “cool”. According to my children that’s what makes me so cool; rocking out with wild abandon to Def Leppard no matter what anyone else thinks.

  7. Neil

    Are all bloggers except me born in September? It makes sense. Since Virgos are supposed to be obsessive.

    Let’s see now —

    It’s Communicatrix’s birthday next week.

    It’s Chantel’s birthday on Saturday.

    It is Jacynth’s birthday on Tuesday.

    It’s Brooke’s birthday on Thursday.

    It’s Karl’s birthday on the 18th.

    It’s Danny’s birthday today.

    It’s Elisabeth’s birthday today.

    And happy birthday, Tuck, back in NY!

    Any one else?  It must be true what they say about those COLD DECEMBER NIGHTS nine months earlier — the best time for a couple to…

    Actually, now that I think about it — I already did a post like this (you see, when you get older, you start telling the same stories over and over again).  But last year July was the big birthday month!

  8. modigli

    I guess that’s gawker’s version of the velvet rope. how lame. Eff them!

    I think it’s freeing to no longer care about how you are perceived, or what amount of stupid pop culture you know about. It reeks of such desperateness to worry about those superficial things.

  9. Pearl

    My birthday is later this month and I’ll be 45 according to my birth certificate. According to my maturity level, I’m about 12. (gawky at times, yet discovering the world.)

    I’m not a Virgo, Neil; I’m a Libra. But as my birthdate is on the cusp, I like to think of myself as a “harmonious virgin.”(once upon a time)

  10. Neil

    harmonious virgin? I have no idea what that is, but it sounds cool — like some weird Indian sex position.

  11. scott

    Dude, coolio. Thanks. I mean, I’m married, and straight, but I’m flattered nevertheless.

    Hello, Neil.

  12. Tara

    I hear you on this one. I live in a college town. The median age here is 23.5 years. I felt old at 24. Oddly, now that I’m 41, I don’t feel all that old.

    I love my big fat nerdy life. I was so punk rock when I was younger, that it’s so freeing not to give a shit or to have to be continually fashionably angry.

    In fact, I’m so old, that I have last year’s trendy birthday month. Props to all the other Cancers out there.

  13. Daisy Mae

    It’s not my birthday anytime soon but I have been 29 at each birthday for the last 10 years if that counts in the “feeling old” game of life.

    My 1st husband (satan) was older than I so I alwasy felt like I was too young. Now the 2nd hubby is quite a bit younger than me so I feel like the dirty old woman.

    Getting old is a bitch. Maybe next marriage I should marry someone my own age… That’s not a mommy’s boy….

  14. plain jane

    You can wear women’s underwear with the best of ’em and not have to prove it.

    I’m with you on your perspective. I wouldn’t go back to my young, insecure, striving-to-fit-in years for anything.

  15. Charming, but single

    I guess there’s going to be a riot in the comments if I say I feel old at 26, right? ;P

    Good post, as always. 🙂

  16. Rabbit

    Ew, people still wear tighty-whiteys?

  17. cruisin-mom

    No Neil, not all bloggers are born in September. Some of us are sexy scorpions, born in November. To Communicatrix: NO…YOU rock on, girlfriend…love what you had to say!

  18. V-Grrrl

    Faker indeed! If ya wanna be Queen, ya better be rockin the stretchy lace thong!

  19. deannie

    *sigh* Mr Tighty-whitey is a POSER.

    It feels good to be happy in your skin, doesn’t it? Good for you!


  20. Jocelyn

    Life’s too short and I’m too old. I don’t do line ups. Anywhere!

    Oh, men who wear women’s clothes? Why they’re just English.

  21. Dagny

    My attitude hasn’t changed much since my 20s. A place can’t be that hip if I didn’t receive an invitation. I don’t like to stand in lines and the places I have frequented have always understood that. The one difference is that in my 20s I did put a lot of effort into wearing just the right outfit. I still put in the effort but now I choose to dress for myself and not others.

  22. the psycho therapist

    Some of us are not Virgoians and some of us already did an entire post on tighty whities this past Thursday *cough* but most of us still consider you to be a blog god.

    If I ever get serious about this medium, like Treespotter says, I want to be you when I grow up.

    PS Happy Birthdays to all

  23. Nance

    Gawker? WTF is that?

    Who cares?

    Not this Taurean.

  24. Brooke

    Freak. Just last night I was at a barbecue and we were talking about all the things that the elderly people of today have seen – from the first plane to landing on the moon, from the movie A Space Odyssey to the internet. Were you listening?

    I, too, have become indifferent to all things Hollywood and trendy. I no longer watch my former obsession – Entertainment Tonight. I ignored the Emmys, and I no longer even read Rolling Stone. I now watch HGTV and read Coastal Living, and I’m all the happier for it.

    I’m still young at heart though. Thanks for remembering my birthday. 🙂

  25. Danny

    I honestly think I’d rather stick forks in my eyes and cut my legs off at the knees with an ax rather than “apply” to leave comments on Gawker. Here’s a witty comment for them: “Kiss my lily white baby boomer ass!” God, those procedures for becoming a commenter make me see red–shouldn’t the Internet be free of that Studio 54 are-you-cool-enough-to-live bullshit? I guess I’m showing my age with the Studio 54 reference, but hey, today is my 47th birthday. We just got back from lunch at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel which was full of twentysomething wannabes including that asshole boyfriend of Paris Hilton’s who was caught on tape saying all sorts of disgusting things about Lindsay Lohan with Paris seen laughing uproariously in the backround. Thank God George Hamilton was at the table next to us to balance it out.

    By the way, that last line in your post? Best. line. ever.

  26. wordgirl

    You must be my male twin and we were separated at birth. I think it is worse to not KNOW about popular culture than to not care about it. See? I know who Lindsay Lohan is. I just don’t give a rat’s ass. I think we’re going to be okay, Neil.

  27. better safe than sorry

    i feel this way alot. i think the reason i don’t follow the pop culture closely is because it’s not my life, it’s theirs and i just don’t find it that interesting. the bit that i do follow, usually makes me feel more sad for them then interested.

  28. Wendy

    Interesting way to look at it. I’ve been thinking about this too.

  29. paperback writer


    And we all thought we escaped high school, didn’t we? Apparently, the line of thinking “I’m cooler than you,” still exists. And probably will keep on existing.

    Damn, I had something else to say, but I’m tired. Oh, well.

  30. Trix

    I’ve always been attracted to mature/older men.

  31. Neil

    Maybe I should be less harsh on Gawker. After doing a little more reading, I learned that this “velvet rope” nonsense is mostly a facade. They are at core — a commercial outfit out to make money. They did try to open up the comments once, and it was a disaster. There was one moronic comment after another.  It was safer to throw the masses out and keep on posing as a hip place rather than let their advertisers see what idiots actually comprise their readership.

    Still, I see Sony Pictures Classics has no problem advertising on the site, with their sexy ad for the movie “The Quiet” flickering on and off on the left side of my browser.  It seems wrong to enjoy these nifty Flash advertisments until I become an official “member” of the site.  So, until then, it seems only fair that I use my Adblock extension in Firefox to block all Sony Picture Classics ads every time I’m on Gawker.   Don’t you agree?

  32. Hilly

    You know what is odd? I don’t really care about celebrity gossip nor do I pay attention to it. And this did actually start somewhere in my early 30’s (am almost 35). I guess the newest generation of celebs are all such spoiled crazy beyotches that I do not care who got drunk, showed their boob, married a crazy Scientologist, blah blah blah.

    If that makes me old well, sign me up for a lifetime of free Depends or something.

  33. Danny

    You’re not being too harsh about Gawker, they deserve far worse for their idiotic policies and stupid content. And have you noticed how their “invited” elite STILL leave one moronic comment after another?

  34. maitresse

    no one has said a word of tribute to the genius of Bob Fosse and I am ashamed of you all.

    the film is fantastic but the 1997(?) cast recording with Alan Cumming is superlative. But isn’t Cumming just a repackaging of Fosse…?

    Peu importe. By the way, my former acting coach is one of the hideous dancing chicks at the club in the film. and her husband was the weeny Jet in “West Side Story.”

  35. tamarika

    Oy, Neil, what a post! How you make me laugh and think and think and laugh. Oh dear, am I the oldest one commenting here at age 57? Oh well, perhaps I am the wisest too! “You make me feel so young …”

  36. ElizaF

    Neil, it is not that we get wiser as we get older, it is just that we care less about being wrong. E. (31)

  37. Karl

    Geez, you forgot MY birthday, which is on the 18th of this month. I’m going to assume it’s because I didn’t send you any photos of Lane Bryant models in bras and matching panties.

    And I’m tired of the elitist blogs that make you jump through hoops to comment. Screw ’em. I should be making THEM jump through hoops in order to get me to comment. Losers. Stupid CAPTCHAs are bad enough.

  38. ExpatJane


    I’ve never really given much of a shit. I’ve had a few slips. The most notable one was years ago now when I chose to go through sorority rush. However, the whole process freaked me out; I cut out of it fairly quickly and joined the ranks of the proud independents. I guess that lack of caring what people thought is what made it possible for me to just up and leave the country six years ago. Honestly, I just find most people to be too dense for me to care about what they think of me. They’re still trying to figure me out, and I tire of having to explain myself.

    It’s great to be up on popular culture, but if that’s all you’re up on you’re boring. I’d much prefer someone who can discuss the latest gossip AND their favorite author or book that they didn’t discover because they saw the movie first. I guess being an L.A. native makes me someone who just rebels against the tragically hip. Growing up there, I felt a lot of people in L.A. were just stupid and self-centered. I never wanted to be one of them. I left L.A. as soon as I felt it was time. Whenever I go back, I have to admit I spend most of my time laughing at people which is so easy to do.

    Doesn’t that just sound snotty? However, that’s how I feel about my hometown: stupid people concerned with stupid things that just don’t fucking matter. All and all, it’s a fun place for a party and shopping, but past that, there are other places I prefer.

    As for Gawker, my reaction was similar as I wanted to post a comment awhile back, but then saw their mad requirements to be a commentator, shook my head and moved on. I understand their spiel on the one hand, but I figure if I know someone active on the site one of their coveted invites will eventually find its way to me. I just think by then, I won’t care at all about what Gawker has to say. I don’t really care that much now.

    I guess I’ve just never been hip enough. Eh, fuck ‘em. Their looks will fade and all they’ll be able to talk about is how so-and-so’s boobs are at her navel now.

  39. Neil

    Maitresse — Maybe I am getting old, but I would LOVE to meet the guy who played the weeny Jet in “West Side Story,” much more than meeting Lindsay Lohan.

    Karl — Happy early b-day!


    Surely the drag queen was at least wearing boxer-briefs?

  41. Rhea

    I totally get what you are saying and it is really refreshing to hear you say it. I guess I must admit to some of these same inclinations. But I’m older now. How old are you? Did you say it one day and I missed it? But I am in my 40s and I don’t care so much anymore. And I’ve come across the sites like Gawker that don’t let you comment unless “invited.” “Pshaw” is all I have to say to that!

  42. justrun

    Not caring about being able to comment may be a sign of maturity. However, I think writing about a drag queen’s underwear is the opposite. You have struck a balance. Well done.

  43. Alison

    Um, it’s hard enough for me to type in the Captcha thing for some blogs. Apply to comment at Gawker? Forget it.

  44. Edgy Mama

    I never read the comments on Gawker anyway!

  45. Paris Parfait

    Wise words, my friend. As for the Gawker comment nonsense, that’s just ridiculous. I subscribe to Groucho Marx’s view – any club who’d want me as a member… xo

  46. Viscountess of Funk

    Some bloggers are Scorpios, the intense myterious ones. (Not that I believe in this stuff). I don’t read Gawker. I just read good folk like you.

  47. ashbloem

    You have to be invited to comment on Gawker? Serious? I’ve maybe been on that site twice (that’s how hip I am). That’s the lamest thing I ever heard.

    I like Citizen of the Month and its equal opportunity commenting.

  48. BA

    “Do people really get wiser with age? Who knows. I have some really dumb older relatives.”

    Whenever I think about that I wonder how dumb they were about thirty years ago…

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