As I get older, I forget about some of the things I’ve done that not many others have. Case in point: I took two pornographic film classes as part of the my film studies curriculum.
The first was as an undergraduate at UCSB that was taught by Constance Penley, who Rolling Stone called a notorious professor in 1998. By the time I took the class, it had been taught several times and was not the hot-topic around campus as much as it was when it was first offered. Nonetheless, Penley ran the class as an historical survey of pornographic film, no different than any other professor would teach a survey of animation, documentary, or French cinema.
The second class was as graduate student at NYU, although our instructors were a bit sly about the subject matter of the class. They called it Explicitly Independent, insisting that we were studying experimental, independent film that pushed the boundaries of representing sexuality. This class was not meant as a broad survey of explicit film, as my undergraduate class was, but instead was meant to address a number of topics that our instructors were studying.
Both classes made clear a couple of facts about pornographic film:
- it has been around a long time: about as long as motion pictures themselves have been around.
- more people consume pornography than you think: it’s pretty much close to 100% of film viewers.
- a stylistic history of pornography tracks closely to the stylistic history of cinema at large: the golden age of pornographic film is in the 1970s, which is the same decade as the golden age of New Hollywood.
Light Industry is presenting nine short films on Tuesday, February 20, beginning at 7:30 PM: a program they call The Smoker: A Brief History of the Stag Film. The term “smoker” refers to the smoke-filled rooms where men—and only men—would watch sex on film as part of some weird homosocial ritual to prove that each guy wasn’t “a homo.” If you ever wondered what your grandfather did with his buddies at an Elks Lodge meeting on a Saturday night, it was probably watching these films.
As someone who watched a lot of these kinds of films with an audience that isn’t there for sexual gratification, I will tell you will initially feel a bit awkward when you recognize the situation of watching porn while sitting next to strangers.
Light Industry seems to recognize this. They will screen the films silent in the spirit of historically accuracy. It was common for men to hoot-and-holler while these films played, and indeed, Light Industry’s website notes “in the spirit of smokers past, we encourage attendees to provide their own soundtracks.”
I would go a step further and encourage you to provide your own beverage, too. But, remember that this is the twenty-first century: there no smoking during these smokers.
Over the last couple of months, a few of cycling buddies and I have been entertaining the idea of riding along the north shore of Long Island to the North Fork town of Greenport. Like Montauk, Greenport is a worthwhile cycling destination because both towns are about 100 miles from New York City and are each the terminals of the easternmost Long Island Railroad lines.
This past Saturday, four of us rode the Ride Between the Greens, a 108-mile ride from Greenpoint, Brooklyn to Greenport, Long Island. Incidentally, we also rode a few miles south of of Greenvale and through Greenlawn.
The ride takes advantage of the fact that the two locations are on opposite ends of Long Island and that they are similarly named. Green also provides a nice theme when it comes to designing a t-shirt.
Regular readers of this site will remember that I am not new to riding along the North Fork. I went on rides in September, October, and November last year. However, each of those rides started in Suffolk County, either at Huntington or at Babylon, where I caught an LIRR train to save about forty miles of pedaling.
This ride, like my now-annual ritual of riding to Montauk, started in Greenpoint, at Transmitter Park. There, a sign signals the end of the road that ironically was the beginning of our ride.
The route followed some pretty major arterial roads that were lightly trafficked early on Saturday morning. We took Greenpoint Avenue, over the Newtown Creek, to Queens Boulevard and then east to Douglaston to ride the LIE Service Road for a 14-mile stretch to Syosset. In Syosset, we stopped for our first meal of the day at—where else—a Panera Bread location.
After filling up on egg sandwiches and coffee, we headed towards Cold Spring Harbor and then to Huntington, where two of last year’s North Fork rides started. As a sign that we were riding on well-worn cycling routes, we spotted markings for several other rides, including the Huntington Bicycle Club’s Gold Coast Tour, the Suffolk Bicycle Riders Association’s Bike Boat Bike ride, and, yes, faded marks from past North Fork Century rides.
Speaking of well-worn places, we stopped at Briermere Farms for a peach-raspberry pie. The pie wasn’t to our expectations, which was a little disappointing considering that peaches and raspberries used in the filling were both in-season and especially surprising given that we were famished from this ride.
The ride was especially tough. As happened almost on every Long Island–ride last year, we faced a stiff headwind most of the day, and as we got closer to the end, the wind intensified. Four of us started the ride, but only three of us finished: one guy bailed about 70 miles into the route. Another rider was riding her first century ride and was challenged by the sheer length of the ride. But regardless of our experience and our training, we all were physically and mentally drained on this ride.
Ten hours and almost 110 miles after starting in Greenpoint, we arrived in Greenport just after 4:30 PM. As soon as we arrived, we went to the Greenport Harbor Brewing’s taproom to fill our growler—yes, I carried a 64-ounce glass bottle for over one-hundred miles—for the train ride home. We then went to the Little Creek Oyster Farm and Market for a bucket of two-dozen oysters we shucked ourselves.
We caught the 6:11 train out of Greenport—the last train that runs on weekends—back to New York City. Credit goes to my Tom Bihn Daylight backpack because, despite its apparently small size, it carried a full growler of beer, a pie, and my wallet, keys, phone, snacks, and the mirrorless camera I used to snap some photos that day.
As we nibbled on our pie and sipped our beers, I asked, “so, when are we riding the South Fork?” The silent but stern glances I got in response suggested that it was a little too soon to consider a ride to Montauk.
One of the coolest parts of the ride was, when in Greenport, Ian Wile, the proprietor of the farm and market heard about our ride and came to personally congratulate us. He confessed that he always wanted to do a ride like this. I was tempted to quip that I always wanted to run an oyster farm and market, but honestly, I would even know where to start.
Maybe I should send him a t-shirt.