Touring LA: Tom of Finland Foundation

Explore the work of trailblazing gay artist Touko Laaksonen, aka Tom of Finland
(as seen in Xtra! and Daily Xtra!)

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“Now is the time to recognize that we are special and unique and live it,” Dirk Dehner tells me of the philosophy behind the work of trailblazing gay artist Touko Laaksonen, better known to the world as Tom of Finland.

We sit on a bed in the finished attic of what was once the home of the man who transformed the way gay men were allowed to see themselves. Laaksonen died on November 7, 1991 at age 71. For the last 10 years of his life, the artist lived here six months of the year. Now it’s the home of the Tom of Finland Foundation. Dehner is the president and co-founder.

To our left is the same desk where Tom did his work, next to a military uniform, knee-high leather boots and shelf upon shelf of archival material, including binders of original prints spanning decades.

The attic’s low ceiling and small windows create a boarding-school quality that’s appropriate for the homoerotic art covering most of the walls in the halls and rooms below. Tom of Finland’s muscled leather men, construction workers, police and military officers created “a new vocabulary of what we could be,” Dehner says. The fact that a lot of their sexualized play took place outside, in broad daylight, added to their revolutionary nature.

From the outside, with its high fence, lush garden and wooden columns, the home almost blends with the quiet residential street in LA’s Echo Park neighbourhood. Almost. Out front is parked a black muscle car with one of Tom’s iconic mustached hunks painted on it, with a square jaw and patented smirk. A similar larger-than-life cutout of a Tom of Finland leather dude stands guard by the front veranda.

Since the debut of his drawing of a smiling, pumped lumberjack on the cover of a 1957 Physique Pictorial magazine, Tom’s message has been “gays don’t have to put up with this shit. He created this world that was so attractive that we’d want to be a part of it,” Dehner says. “He gave us guys we’d never seen before.

“We dug it so much we were creating it on the outside, and then he’d chronicle it,” Dehner explains, showing me some of Tom’s collages. There are hundreds of them, images taken from magazines, of men in uniforms glued in 8.5X11 montages that provided inspiration for his work. Fans loved his drawings so much they’d put together outfits inspired by Tom’s imagination and send photos of themselves modelling their uniforms, which provided Tom with further fodder. “It was circular,” Dehner says, “affecting culture from the inside out.” Tom had an impact on gay culture, fashion (including Jean Paul Gaultier) and yes, Freddie Mercury.

Dehner can relate. Originally from Alberta, he’s one of Tom’s former models; he met the artist after sending him a fan letter. “A year later I came to LA and stayed with him and realized he needed help running his business. He was getting ripped off by the porn industry.”

Now, Dehner is devoted to maintaining Tom’s legacy and that of other erotic artists. The foundation provides a home for Tom’s sketches, uniforms and prints, as well as archival material from the likes of erotic artist George Quaintance.

Those interested in a tour should call a couple of days in advance (213-250-1685) for an appointment.

Tom of Finland Foundation
1421 Laveta Terrace, Los Angeles
tomoffinlandfoundation.org

Antwerp World Outgames 2013

Antwerp to host athletes from more than 100 countries
(as seen in Xtra! and Daily Xtra! July 2013)

Antwerp Outgames Opening Ceremonies

Antwerp Outgames Opening Ceremonies

The city of Antwerp is going through a “queerification,” says Jerko Bozikovic, co-founder of the 2013 World Outgames, taking place in the Flemish capital July 31 to Aug 11.

The veteran soccer player has competed in every Gay Games and Outgames since 1998, so he knows what LGBT athletes (and their admirers) are looking for in their travel experience.

“One thing I found is visibility of the games in the city should be very high,” Bozikovic says, recalling that at the Sydney Gay Games, outside of certain core areas it was easy to forget — or even know — the Games were taking place.

“When people come for the Games, we want them to feel the whole city belongs to us.”

Antwerp has the advantage of being a much smaller city. “You can do everything by foot,” Bozikovic says. His team is taking advantage of that to create a special experience for visitors.

Bozikovic says they’re taking their cue from the 1998 Amsterdam Gay Games, where “every bus and tram had a rainbow flag.” In Antwerp, every major shopping street will be filled with rainbow flags, and they’re working on having the castle lit up in pink.

Bozikovic fondly remembers arriving at the Montreal airport for the first World Outgames, in 2006, and at the bottom of the stairs at baggage claim seeing a huge banner that read “Welcome to the World Outgames.”

“I hadn’t even stepped into the city, and I was being welcomed as an athlete travelling around the world,” he says.

In that spirit, Antwerp will have a giant welcome banner of its own, though it will be at the central train station, where most visitors will arrive via London, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. Athletes and visitors will emerge into what Newsweek voted the fourth most beautiful train station in the world, in the second country to legalize same-sex marriage, with the first openly gay male prime minister in the world.

“We wanted to create that sensation of, ‘Yes, I’ve arrived. I’ve spent time, money and energy to be here. Now let the games begin!’”

Opening Ceremony

Held in a large city square, the opening ceremony will be a prime time for meeting new people from around the world; as of publication time 104 countries had registered.

“It’s the first place to show yourself off and throw glimpses to others,” Bozikovic says.

“People are in this whole different state of mind. It’s a different energy than a Pride or a cruise or a bar,” because people are there to compete in a sport and have fun, and preparing is not just about a “Pride diet” or working out — it’s about actual training. Still, Bozikovic says, he’s met two past husbands at the Outgames.

Emotions can also peak. “You’re entering with your country and seeing people coming from Pakistan or Palestine or Nigeria, and you’re happy for them that they can make it, that they are there. These are the leaders of the world creating change, and I do believe that united we can make a lot of change . . . so much more than just partying on a boat or a float, which is great, but this is just so much more,” Bozikovic says. Saturday, Aug 3, 8pm, Waagnatie

Mr Gay World

Thirty-two delegates from 32 countries from five continents will compete in the gayest of all beauty pageants for the coveted sash of Mr Gay World. Canada’s representative, Danny Dionysios Papadatos, hails from Saskatchewan. Props also to hunky former marine Matthew Simmons of the US. The VIP ticket includes dinner, and since Antwerp is the diamond capital of the world, there will be “diamond” champagne served: champagne with a stone in the glass. For most it will be zirconia, but three guests will find real diamonds they can take home. No word on taking the winner home. Grand finale and VIP dinner, Sunday, Aug 4, 8pm, Elckerlyc Theater

Pool Party

The most unique of the many official parties looks to be the one hosted by Australia’s DNA magazine. The DNA Pool Party is booked on what Bozikovic describes as Europe’s largest pool boat. It’s in the city’s harbour, right on the river, giving “a very special feeling.” DJ Dan Murphy from Sydney will be on deck (literally). It starts at 8pm sharp. Advance tickets are essential, as this will likely sell out. Wednesday, Aug 7, 8pm, Kattendijkdok Oostkaai

Café de Love Women’s Party

For the women, Café de Love organizers promise “shorts and skirts everywhere you look, the sun on your skin, a cool cocktail in your hand . . . and DJs playing the best summer beats so you cannot resist doing your best dance moves.” The event is being held in a “surprise location!” Sunday, Aug 4, 5pm

Synchronized Swimming

Forget Martin Short in a life vest on Saturday Night Live. For a truly gay sports experience that will leave you breathing hard, check out the men’s Parisian synchronized swim team. The men are hot, Speedo-clad, and they’ve made this traditionally women’s sport their own with an almost militaristic feel to their extremely athletic routines. Think aquatic Cirque du Soleil meets kung fu fighting. Sunday, Aug 4, Wezenberg swimming pool

A bite to eat

Bozikovic recommends Zuiderterras. It’s so close to the river, “you’re almost touching the water.” He describes it as loungey, with “European cuisine.”

Grab a beer

With 1,200 breweries in the country, “Belgium is known for its beers,” Bozikovic says. He loves a place called Pelgrom. “It’s in medieval cellars, with hundreds of candles and chandeliers. It’s a place to go share life stories or hook up with friends.” And he says the acoustics are so good you’ll be seated next to strangers and not hear what they’re talking about. More importantly, you don’t have to worry about them hearing you talking about them.

The World Outgames will coincide with Antwerp’s Pride celebrations, which run Aug 8 to 11. The parade is Sunday, Aug 10. Full details at antwerppride.com.

My guide to Los Angeles

Touring the history-rich City of Angels
(as seen in Xtra! and Xtra! Daily, Nov. 2012)

“There used to be signs in the windows of places for rent: ‘No Jews, dogs or actors allowed,’” Jim Anzide explains of West Hollywood’s colourful history as he takes me on “Hollywood’s first and only gay bus tour” (outandabout-tours.com).

“The area was very family-oriented,” he says, and the locals were fighting the influx of “movie people.” As a homo hunk in a tank top and short-shorts walks by, it’s clear who won. “Coming into the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s,” Anzide says, “this area filled with bohemians from the film industry.”

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Because West Hollywood was not incorporated, Los Angeles police had little authority in the area, leading to looser laws and, ultimately, making it a gay haven.

It also saw an influx of Russian Jews during the 1980s. “Café Galea was nicknamed Kaffagela,” Anzide says, and the homos in the area were referred to as “gefilte swish.”

Anzide points out a number of modern queer landmarks, like the restaurant offering up fresh corn from the grill. Decades ago it became the home of the Metropolitan Community Church as the congregation outgrew the Reverend Troy Perry’s living room. Not far away is the site of the infamous Studio 1 nightclub (now called the Factory, home to twinks and their admirers). “This club shaped gay club life even today,” Anzide says, though not for the best. Back then it catered to a mainly white male gay crowd. “Anyone of colour, or women, was asked for three pieces of ID . . . the Professor of Gilligan’s Island’s son did an exposé to see who was being turned away. Big scandal.”

Drama and bars go drink in hand, and this being West Hollywood, it’s a double. We drive past the straight bar Barney’s Beanery, which sported a sign that said “Fagots [sic] stay out” until the country’s first openly lesbian mayor was elected in WeHo in 1984. One of her first acts was to “walk in and take it down.” It’s a perfect example of the region’s strained relationship with queers, where gays and lesbians have at times flourished while still facing horrific persecution.

A homophobic sign, however, pales before what lies ahead. We head downtown for some of the most emotional moments of the Out & About Tour.

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Anzide takes us through a revitalized strip on what’s now Los Angeles Street. Back in the 1800s, “with the influx of newly freed Afro-Americans it took on the name Nigger Alley. That name was posted on street signs and maps until the City of LA changed that in 1877.”

As we move onto Hollywood he gestures to the slew of back alleys that were entrances for “pansy clubs,” which flourished during Prohibition. Effeminate men performed flamboyant drag numbers, and stars would “rush” to see them after a long shooting day.

After Prohibition, Hollywood’s flirtation with the deviant element changed dramatically. The curiosity for novelty in the “anything goes” era waned with the legalizing of booze, and the height of the Great Depression led to a strengthening of the religious right. Homos became enemy number one.

As we drive, Anzide points out the battered metal sign that says “Morris Kight Square/Co-founder of the world’s first street-closing gay pride parade/Sunday, June 28, 1970.” This victory was costly. Entrapment had long been used in many cities, with police officers posing as gay to entice men into compromising situations in places like public restrooms. With the booming movie industry, Hollywood had its own twist on this, “dating as far back as the silent film era.” The police hired handsome young men who had come west hoping to become stars but didn’t quite make it. Instead, these so-called Hollywood rejects would flash their junk at urinals or glory holes, and when their unsuspecting victims went for the bait arrests would follow.

There was a two-strike system. The first arrest could lead to six months in jail. The second time, “you were sent to Atascadero State Hospital . . . They’d be given a choice. Lobotomy or castration.” Both gays and lesbians were persecuted, some of them forced into hospital by family members.

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We stop outside the beautiful Biltmore Hotel, whose grandiose interior has hosted presidents, celebrities and a gay revolution. While most gays think of New York’s Stonewall riots as the tipping point for gay rights, on the opposite coast a small group of queers, who were essentially tortured in mental institutions, fought back. It was here they won one of the most significant victories in the battle for gay rights.

In 1971 the country’s most influential psychiatrists gathered at the Biltmore to discuss policy. Disguised as doctors, a group of gays crashed the meeting. Half the psychiatrists fled, while others stayed and listened to how their “treatments” had destroyed these men’s lives.

Two years later homosexuality was removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders.

Hikes & bikes with a dyke

I highly recommend following up the rich Out & About tour with a Bikes and Hikes experience (bikesandhikesla.com). Discovering any city by bicycle is an amazing experience, but to do it in LA, with its car-centric network of freeways, is mind-blowing.

Thanks to the queer-friendly nature of the group, I also meet some charming gay Aussies, as well as our lesbian tour guide, Kim Beaudoin.

Our starting point is West Hollywood, where Bikes and Hikes is headquartered. (They have two locations and are the only bike touring company in the city; they also do rentals.)

In six hours we cover more than 30 miles, with lots of water and pee breaks. Beverly Hills and Bel Air present the biggest challenge with their many hills, but anyone of moderate fitness level should go for it (there’s also a shorter tour “that an 80-year-old grandmother” could handle). Highlights include Lucille Ball’s old place and the rental house where Michael Jackson died.

The rest of the route is fairly flat (topographically speaking), taking us down to Santa Monica, then along Venice Beach (where we pause for a healthy lunch of wraps and salads while ogling shirtless hotties headed to Muscle Beach). From there we glide by Marina del Rey (where Dexter comes to dump body parts) and veer toward Ballona Creek (site of the Terminator 2 motorbike chase). With an amazing bike path alongside it, the creek takes us all the way to Culver City, the final highlight on the tour. The Wizard of Oz was shot here (Beaudoin points out that in that pre-internet era most of the Munchkins actors had never met other little people. Like any marginalized set of individuals brought together for the first time, they partied. Hard.)

Universal Studios

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With my brain brimming with gay history and my body whacked by six hours of cycling, I wrap with a visit to Universal Studios theme park. The Simpsons TV show has long been a gay favourite, and fans will love the ride. Strapped into a car that tosses us around in a 3D simulation, we struggle to escape Sideshow Bob. The new Transformers ride is also hugely popular. I loved the studio tour, complete with cheesy Jaws attack. There’s something about visiting the clock-tower square from Back to the Future (still crushing on Michael J Fox), seeing the peaks of Dr Seuss’s campy Whoville’s towers poking up over the roof of the neighbouring Bates Motel (creepy!), and then driving through the airplane crash site from War of the Worlds. I mention the latter because Tom Cruise is not gay. You heard it here first.

EVENTS

Elevation 2013

March 13–17, 2013. The 11th annual Ski Week in Mammoth Lakes, California, is a great alternative to the usual party scene, with its huge dance parties, nationally known DJs, beautiful setting and some of the best spring skiing around — all at a world-class resort. mammothgayski.com

Christopher Street West Los Angeles Pride 2013

June 7–9, 2013. At this annual event, thousands throng the heart of West Hollywood for world-class entertainment and the big Santa Monica Boulevard parade. See photos and videos of previous years on their website, plus details for 2013. lapride.org

WHERE TO STAY

Hyatt Regency Century Plaza

This beautiful hotel in Century City has a walk-in pool, hot tub and private cabanas, all steps from an Equinox fitness club and an upscale, open-air shopping plaza with the likes of Hugo Boss, Brooks Brothers and Bloomingdale’s. Car renters may want to take advantage of the Hertz location on site, and Starbucks is right there for your caffeine fix. centuryplaza.hyatt.com

Farmer’s Daughter

Located directly across from CBS studios, where shows like The Price Is Right and Dancing with the Stars are taped, the Farmer’s Daughter is a fun, country-style hotel. It’s within easy driving distance of West Hollywood and is minutes from The Grove outdoor shopping mall, where hunky Mario Lopez tapes his Extra TV segments Monday to Friday. farmersdaughterhotel.com

Sheraton Universal

The very friendly folks at the Sheraton Universal are clearly eager for visitors to have a good time. With its beautiful pool, hot tub and workout area, it’s just a shuttle-bus ride away from the Universal Studios theme park. It’s also a five-minute walk from the city’s red Metro line, which can take visitors into Hollywood. sheratonuniversal.com

Hilton Checkers

In the downtown area, the historic Hilton Checkers is a great option. It’s close to the Metro, has a rooftop pool, whirlpool and sun deck — with an amazing downtown view — and offers easy access to Hollywood, the Museum of Modern Art and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. hiltoncheckers.com

GETTING THERE

American Airlines

With numerous direct flights to Los Angeles, American Airlines has some of the cheapest airfares to the City of Angels. aa.com

For map locations and website links to more than 200 places of interest see our gay Los Angeles listings pages.
LA Tourism
discoverlosangeles.com
West Hollywood Tourism
visitwesthollywood.com

Here’s my quickie fun guide to beautiful Puerto Vallarta!

Enjoy beaches and gay nightlife, but beware of the chupacabra
(as seen in Xtra! and Xtra! Daily, Jan. 2014)

Sunset cruise

Sunset cruise

“The guys who checked in today both came single last year,” says Logan Miller, chief concierge at the gay boutique hotel Casa Cupula in Puerto Vallarta. “They met at one of our cocktail parties, and long story short, they’re back this year celebrating their one-year anniversary with sailing tours, champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries.”

True love is alive and well in Mexico’s de facto gay capital, but Puerto Vallarta’s not just for husband hunting (though I have it on good authority that one can easily make new friends while bobbing in the waves at the gay beach just four blocks from Casa Cupula. It’s a $3 cab ride, though most people prefer to “walk off” their meals).

Like everyone I’ve spoken to who’s made “Puerto Gayarta” home, Miller raves about PV. “This is a year-round, full-service beach. You don’t have to sneak around with a cooler, and there’s no other tropical gay beach destination in North America.”

While Miller’s sassy enthusiasm makes him the Laverne of Casa Cupula (he’s the one who named their diet margarita The Skinny Bitch), the hotel’s owner, Donald Pickens, is the pragmatic Shirley. He opened the hotel as a five-room guesthouse in 2002. Over the years he’s added three more buildings, for a total of 21 rooms.

Pickens came to PV from the US to “chill” after the company he was working for “put me out to pasture . . . after the tech market crashed. I decided to buy and renovate.”

He’s become passionately enmeshed in the community and the country, pointing out how gains in gay rights in Mexico, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage and adoption in Mexico City, are built on constitutional reforms instituted back in 1917, following the Mexican Revolution.

“Mexico was so Catholic, and the church was so powerful [and often corrupt],” he says, “they separated church and state.” The reforms include anti-clerical articles and a prohibition against creating a list of banned books. That provided the legal foundation for today’s gains, but socially, Puerto Vallarta’s uniquely gay identity heralds back to a Tinsel Town scandal.

“Puerto Vallarta got on the American map in the 1960s when Elizabeth Taylor came with Richard Burton [when he was filming Night of the Iguana], and they brought the Hollywood magic with them,” Pickens explains. They’d already caught the world’s imagination, starting an affair on the set of Cleopatra, both of them married — and not to each other. They later bought a villa in PV and would bring their entourages to the city. Taylor, especially, was “friends with a number of gay people in Hollywood — Montgomery Cliff, Rock Hudson.”

And so PV got a huge boost as a tourist and gay destination.

“Puerto Vallarta used to be called the San Fran of Mexico, because if you were gay in Mexico you could come here to be out . . . Now the city’s coming out with a marketing campaign that’s beyond gay-friendly,” Pickens says. The city celebrated its first Pride and a new Flower Festival in May of 2013, both efforts to extend the tourist season beyond its November–April window.

Vallarta Pride 2014 will expand this year from its traditional weekend to a five-day festival, which will take place May 22 to 26.

I confess that when I first arrived in the city in early May, I found myself wondering about the timing of the trip. After all, the weather in Toronto was finally warming up, so was this really the time for a tropical destination? As I collapsed into bed at midnight, having just arrived at the CasaMagna Marriott from the airport, I found my ears teased by a strange sound. I popped out of bed with a huge grin. It was the ocean. I rushed to the balcony, threw open the curtains and stared out at the waves, listening to them crash over the sand.

Any doubts I had about the timing of my trip evaporated.

This was way better than Canada in May.

Where to stay
For those looking for a boutique experience with a gay flair, Casa Cupula is the obvious choice. “Every room is different,” Pickens says. “It was a pain in the ass, but it was worth it. It looks beautiful.” Where some places distinguish between ocean or non-ocean rooms, Cupula’s guests can get fussy over whether they are in the “the Orange Room or the Black and White Room . . . Here, there’s a lot more detail.” That includes adapting to the gay clock. “Everyone likes to go out late at night. We don’t have an early end to breakfast. Technically, it’s at 11:30am, but if you roll out of bed at noon and want eggs, we’ll make you eggs.” If you’re looking for a resort experience and don’t mind being a taxi ride out of town (and from the gay bars), the CasaMagna Marriott provides a lovely stay right on the beach, with a great buffet breakfast, helpful staff, huge pool with swim-up bar and a turtle sanctuary.

Where to eat
To get a lay of the gustatory land, I recommend taking advantage of Vallarta Food Tours. With eight different stops, you will get an authentic PV experience, from Mole Rosa (mole is an Aztec word that means to grind and mix), to the best taco stands in the city. (Hint: if a taco stand offers more than two types of meat, move on. The best ones have only one or two options, they cook it fresh, and when it runs out, they shut down for the day. Recipes are often handed down from generation to generation.)

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Where to drink
A full belly needs a wet palate, and nobody knows Puerto Vallarta’s hopping gay bar scene like Christian Serrano and his Gay Vallarta Bar-Hopping Tour. He originally came to PV for two weeks, fell in love with the city, and “told my mom send me all my clothes. That was seven and a half years ago.” Dinner, drinks and shots are all included for $75 to $125 (depends on the night, the itinerary and the number/types of drinks/shots in the program). The tour starts with dinner at a restaurant so people can get to know each other (“I see those people hanging out with each other for the rest of their trip,” Serrano says), and on a typical night this is followed by three bars, one stripper bar and two nightclubs. “There’s never a cover charge, you never wait in line, and it can normally be an hour wait in high season” to get into a club. On some occasions, Serrano will also have special hosts, like a stripper stripping at each location or a pornstar or drag sensation and Canadian treasure Miss Conception, who’s known to spend her winters in PV. My favourite stops include the funky Reinas bar, with its kitschy makeup station and walls adorned with wigs, funky sunglasses and lady hats where you can “completely drag out.” My number-two choice is strip bar Wet, where two of Serrano’s “very cute” clients once got into the shower stall and put on a naked show of their own. gayvallartabarhopping.com

Where to escape
If you want to get away from the beach (but not the booze), take a drive into the mountains to enjoy the Vallarta Botanical Gardens. A haven for indigenous orchids (they have dozens of species), this former cattle ranch was converted seven years ago into a botanical retreat. You can stick to the gardens or follow the old cow trails into the forests of the surrounding conservation area, down into a valley with a river full of swimming holes. (“No crocodiles,” I’m assured.) Bring a swimsuit and towel. There are five trails, each taking 40 to 80 minutes to traverse. Stay for a delicious meal, and for a margarita with an extra kick, order a chupacabra, which is made with tequila and raicilla. What’s raicilla? My guide laughs: “It’s basically moonshine” and is local to PV, so you won’t find it in other parts of Mexico. The chupacabra was delicious, and as a lightweight in the drinking department, it had me drunk after only a few sips.

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Check out visitpuertovallarta.com for more info on gay Vallarta.

Queeroes 2!

923396_10151633912490987_136657381_nOk, I’ve been remise about posting, but what better way to motivate me than to announce the release of Queeroes 2, the sequel to cult classic Queeroes! I wrote this after injuring my groin in water polo as I couldn’t go to the gym, do Pilates, or play in the pool and was bored out of my mind. Get your copy from Amazon!

[amazon asin=http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1590214897/sr=8-1/qid=1379609250/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&qid=1379609250&seller=&sr=8-1&text=www.amazon.com]

 

Slowing Down Time

A phenomenon that I’ve been interested in is time distortion, experiencing time as if its moving in slow motion (it also works in the reverse, where time can “fly by.”) For sports purposes I was interested in the former, and today I think I got it happening at cross fit.

I was doing cleans, making mini adjustments to my technique for various reasons, and I hit a sweet spot where I’d clean the weight off the ground, go into my mini squat to catch it, and something really cool happened. Normally all of this happened so fast (or so clunkily) that I couldn’t keep track of all the different phases (they are all supposed to meld really, one into the other). But by the end instead of trying to force the weight onto my shoulders, I had these moments of waiting, one, two, and then the bar just landed there. It was that one, two moment that felt like time “slowed” down (of course it didn’t, but in theory I was in the right state of focus that extraneous material was shut out, and with my conscious and subconscious only focusing on what I was doing, I had a much greater awareness, creating a sense of time distortion.)

The other thing that really helped was imagining myself as a rubber band snapping the weight rather than thinking of myself as powering through the movement.

The Art of Learning

Just started reading the book The Art of Learning. Am already fascinated. It’s the story of chess genius and Tai Chi master Josh Waitzkin (the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer is about him).

Quote: I was unhindered by internal conflict–a state of being I have come to see as fundamental to the learning process.

Quote 2: I have come to understand that these little breaks from the competitive intensity of my life have been and still are an integral part of my success. Times at sea are periods of renewal, coming together with family, being with nature, putting things back in perspective.

Pushing towards strength

So today’s fun hypno experience… I’m working on improving my crossfit performance by pushing through. What came to me was instead of pushing to failure, pushing towards strength. Will see how that pans out in an hour 🙂

Box jumps

This week’s X-fit victory goes to… Box Jumps!

I was pretty proud of myself when I could do box jumps (as the name implies, literally jumping on a box) on what I thought was the highest height of 30″.

I foolishly believed this to be the max because that’s with the box turned on its side, and literally it doesn’t get any higher. It’s a box. Then in the past couple of weeks I was introduced to stacking plates on the box.

When this first happened, I declined to put a plate on. Today, I was told by “Dr.” Nic (I’ve Doctored him cause he’s got so many training qualifications I figure he’s earned it) that if he’s doing the workout with (I think) 4 plates on the box, then I was going to do the WOD with one plate on the box. He’s really good at scaling workouts for different abilities, and I found any voices in my head that might have wanted to argue quickly shut up. I did a test round, and got up on the plate on top of the box no problem. My conclusion? “That was easy.” Clearly I had been psyching myself out, something I’m becoming more aware of as I push myself to complete a few more reps than I think I’m capable of doing.

Also in the workout…hand stand push ups. I’ve struggled of late just to get into the handstand (feet against the wall) and have not come close to a HSPU.

Today I did the scaled version with my feet on a wooden box. So big goal for 2013 is to master the HSPU.

Penultimate note…building on last week’s victory… adding to my mental cues for overhead squats, tilting the pelvis back and pushing knees forward as I go into the squat. Thank you Coach Jordan!

And now the closing note… Dr. Nic struggled with the box jumps at the prescribed height (which was much higher than what I did). I mention this because it was a good lesson for me to see someone so skilled having to work at it. At times I forget that yes, this is still work for everyone, and everyone has their challenging moments.

And then there’s this guy…

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