From the culture desk: admirable words, admirable things

(Plain-spoken appreciative references to penises and fellatio, plus an extended and explicit man-on-man sex scene, so not appropriate for kids or the sexually modest.)

Gastronomy, essays, calliphallicity, poetry. Starting with the New Yorker on 9/6/21 — “Food & Drink: An Archival Issue” — in a “Gastronomy Recalled” column there. From the print magazine, the head and subhead for the piece:

(#1) From the great gastronomic essayist M. F. K. Fisher

Then from the on-line magazine, this version, with the accompanying photo (by Carl Mydans / The LIFE Picture Collection / Shutterstock) and its caption:

One does not need to be a king to indulge his senses with a dish.

But, with my imperfect aged eyes — I now misread things so often I’ve pretty much stopped cataloging my errors — and my penis-attuned brain — I am an unapologetic phallophile —  what I read was:

One does not need to be a king to indulge his senses with a dick.

Beautiful penis. Oh yes, beautiful penis, let me savor you, indulge my senses! In your appearance, your feel (in my hand and in my mouth), your smell, your taste! (I am, largely irrelevantly, flooded with the strains of that hymn to loveliness, “Beautiful Girls” from Follies; I am also afflicted by hysterical exclamation points!).

A digression. Well, there’s physical beauty of a thing, providing pleasure to the eye, as we say, meaning that the mind finds pleasure in looking at it. Along the lines of the postings collected in the bluntly named Page on this blog, Beautiful Cock. Or in my 3/10/19 posting “News for penises, French Riviera edition”, where photo #1 shows the callipygian Apollo at the Fontaine du Soleil, in the Place Messina in Nice, and photo #2, from the other side of the statue, shows the calliphallic Apollo (my first use, I believe, of the excellently rhyming technical term calliphallic ‘having a beautiful penis’).

But, then, beauty is not merely physical. From NOAD:

adj. beautiful: [a] pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically: beautiful poetry | a beautiful young woman | the mountains were calm and beautiful. [b] of a very high standard; excellent: she spoke in beautiful English | the house had been left in beautiful order.

The beauty of poetry is not in its appearance. Nor is the beauty of a great meal, or even of a well-made and satisfying snack. Like potato chips. From M. F. K. Fisher’s essay:

It is said that a few connoisseurs, such as old George Saintsbury, can recall physically the bouquet of certain great vintages a half century after tasting them. I am a mouse among elephants now, but I can say just as surely that this minute, in a northern California valley, I can taste-smell-hear-see and then feel between my teeth the potato chips I ate slowly one November afternoon in 1936, in the bar of the Lausanne Palace. They were uneven in both thickness and color, probably made by a new apprentice in the hotel kitchen, and almost surely they smelled faintly of either chicken or fish, for that was always the case there. They were a little too salty, to encourage me to drink. They were ineffable. I am still nourished by them.

Counterpoint, from my AZBlogX posting of 8/7/10, “An anthropologist at the baths” (a report from the San Jose gay baths in December 2002; in the version below, I mix quotation and paraphrase):

In Scene 3, I approach Mr. Marvel, a big young man in strikingly good shape, who’s sitting in the orgy room with his legs spread and his wonderful dick on display. I step up, put my hand on his leg, nothing aggressive. He opens his legs a bit, smiles at me. I lean forward, take his dick in my mouth. For me, it has, alas, been years, and I’m 62, long past the years of desirability at the baths — but he welcomes me.

The feel, the smell, the taste, I just want to cry with happiness. And it is very easy, very nice. His hand on the back of my head, gently.

This goes on for some time. He kisses me aggressively. He enjoys having his asshole stroked, unaggressively. I lick his arm pits, getting his smell all over my face. Pinch his tits, aggressively. Go back to a bit more sweet cocksucking.

And then, that was enough. It was just right for both of us.

Potato chips perfect for the moment, and memorable for that.

Poetry for the occasion. For a change, not my poetry, but Charlie Pendergast’s. From my 6/3/11 posting “A Commonplace of Poetry”, about A Commonplace of Poetry: Poems by Charlie Pendergast (RiskPress, 2010):

Many of the poems have a high carnality index. Perhaps my favorite here is #31 (“These men excite me / in their youth”), with:

And though a juicy cock is delicious
I am far more thrilled
by what I learn of each man’s heart

In that previous life in which I engaged in more or less anonymous sex in more or less public places, after the urgent needs of an encounter were taken care of, it was not uncommon for the two of us to spend some sweetly affectionate time together, exchanging names (well, our sex names, rarely our real ones) and exchangng talk about our lives, our feelings, our desires, even our anxieties. A time to learn something of another man’s heart.

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