Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Okay. So I Was Wrong.

Almost forgot to mention.

I got tied up on Monday. And expertly so. In several different positions.

It felt really good. And by my reckoning, it was perhaps the the seventh time in the past decade. (Keckler had the honor twice now.) That's not entirely the fault of the Universe or whatever. There's nothing not to like about good rope bondage as far as I'm concerned, although I can't say it's something I go out looking for. But rarely do I get any propositions along those lines. (Except from Keckler. Twice.)

So. Where did I have to go for this event? Up to NYC? Down to DC? Out to LA/SF/Palm Springs? A quick flight on USA3000 to Fort Leatherdale?

Nope! I had to get in my car and drive 20 minutes south down Aquetong Road.


Now, if you had asked me on Sunday, "Say... What are the chances that you'd find an expert bondage Top living in Solebury?", I would have replied without hesitation, "I reckon about the same as Faithful Companion offering his opinion on his kibble in flawless French." (Although if Faithful Companion used the subjunctive and erred, I probably wouldn't have been able to spot it at this point.) (Although, the subjunctive is usually only used in written, rather than spoken French.)

But there he was, inviting me to come over. And when I got there, he had the St. Andrew's Cross (nicer than mine) and the fuck bench all ready.

Alas, he's deeply partnered, and no telling when our next date might go down as he was only available Monday because he had the day off work.

But even so. In the 3.5 years I've lived here, that's a definite first.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What Becomes A Legend? MAsT!

Oh cool!

I've been requested to present to the NYC Masters And slaves Together (MAsT) group on March 25th concerning my magnum opus, Fire On The Glacier. I'm really excited at the prospect! And, of course, beside myself with glee at being asked.

But beyond that, I am informed that when I was announced as the presenter for the March meeting, a chorus of "Woof!"s went up. And, the request was made that I do the presentation in boots and a jockstrap.

I am SO going to do the presentation in boots and a jock strap!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

All In The Family

Bingo! I figured it out!

This morning, I woke up before the alarm. I stayed under the covers, delaying the start of the day, the rush to get out the door for church, the search for a copy of the New York Times to buy which occasionally has me hunting for an hour, off to the gym...

As I lay there, not quite awake, not quite asleep, I wasn't thinking of the day ahead, or the job situation (or lack thereof), but of the Wistfulness Of Late.

And then it dawned on me. Clarity came in a flash.

I realized it had something to do with reading Ethan Mordden's Some Men Are Lookers. I had thought it was NYC, where I spent my halcyon days, and where the books are set. But not quite.

Y'see, one of the big themes of Mordden's Buddies series is family, both the families that we as gay men leave behind, and the families that we create around us. (At least that was the case for men of my generation; it's how I learned to be a gay man. But I wouldn't be surprised if now that being gay is not much different than being left handed or having blue eyes, it's no longer the way it all goes down.)

But I've always had that. A family I create around me. The really important relationships during periods of my life have not been sundry boyfriends, taking the stage one after another like an evening of emerging performance artists in some cramped East Village space. Rather, to extend the metaphor, it was the people I was sitting in the audience with. My family.

After I was graduated from college, I lived in Philadelphia. Philadelphia was a differnt place back then. Vast tracks of real estate were valueless. In West Philadelphia was an archipelago of Nineteenth Century mansions occupied by anarchists. Amazing apartments were available for less than $500 a month. (I splurged and rented a vast, loft-like space on the 1500 block of South Street with a tottering redwood deck on the back. At the first meeting of ACT UP Philadelphia, I met the Baron, and we quickly became partners in crime, deciding that the way things seemed to be going with the group was All Wrong and we'd have to make some Changes. Presently, we met Miss Fred, who joined us in these efforts. I started exchanging visits with an old high school friend, Ed, whose family had moved to Baltimore after his senior year. Ed was gay, too, and on one of his trips to visit me, he met Ray, whom I knew as a fellow volunteer in the buddy program of the local AIDS services organization. Ed and Ray quickly became a couple. And there were others, but we were the core group.

Back then, there was a dance club on Chestnut Street called Kurt's, which we rechristened Skirtz. There, we'd gather and boogie on down to Madonna and Rick Astley and the Pointer Sisters and Howard Jones and such. On Sundays, to avoid Philadelphia's then harsh Blue Laws, Skirtz started serving brunch. It was a catered affair: they'd load up a table withh scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and french toast, growing more inedible by the minute over sternos. For us, the most important consideration was that brunch at Skirtz was Free. (They only did it so they could make money selling liquor and being open on Sunday nights.) None of us had much in the way of money, so we would descend on gallery openings for free wine, and we knew all the straight bars in town that put out a nice spread when the yuppies trooped in for Happy Hour. So for us, Sunday brunch at Skirtz was a natural.

Back then, it was like we had the town to ourselves. At 11 p.m. on a Friday night, you could walk from one end of Center City to another and hardly meet a soul. Teenagers and punks and punk teenagers swarmed South Street, and gay men looking winsome slowly walked the the western end of Spruce Street and the spit of green by the river we called Judy Garland Park, but pretty much the town was empty.

So in we'd go to Skirtz, politely refusing the offers of $2 cranberry or orange juice and heading right for the food. We'd pile our plates high. On all the video screens that usually showed dance videos, some movie or other would be playing. Never anything good, although I think I caught part of Repo Man there one Sunday ("Hey you guys! Let's go get sushi and not pay for it!" we called to each other for weeks afterwards.)

We'd pile our plates high, and then take the throw pillows off the banquets in the back bar and arrange them on the floor, making a sort of "turkish corner." After stuffing ourselves on Skirtz's over-cooked scrambled eggs and french toast swimming in syrup to make it palatable, we'd talk and laugh and poke fun at each other, and more often than not start to nap when food stupor set in. Until Skirtz threw us out.

We were resented. We were deplored. We didn't care.

Then, I bid Philadelphia a fond farewell when I moved to NYC in June of 1990. I started doing volunteer work at the Anti-Violence Project as a hotline crisis counselor, and then got involved in ACT UP there. And started to meet people, once again gathering a family around myself.

Nothing brings people closer like sitting down in the street and getting arrested together. The way it was done in ACT UP was through forming "affinity groups" before the action. You got to know each other well. This was helpful if someone should run into difficulties while in police custody, and also minimize the liklihood that members of the NYPD would infiltrate our demonstrations in order to be sort of agent provacateurs. My first ACT UP affinity group was essentially the lesbian caucus of ACT UP plus a few gay guys (we called ourselves the "boys auxilliary"). The name chosen was the "Big Bull Femmes."

I remember one night, before or after a demonstration, we all went off to The Bar, a great East Village hang at 2nd and 2nd. (People unfamiliar with East Village geography will no doubt think that's a typo.) While there, I suggested that we do this thing with beer that I'd read that queer punks in Seattle were doing in some zine or other. Of course, they were all game. So we stood in a circle. The first person would take a swig of beer, then squirt it into the mouth of the person on his or her left, doing so in the most erotic way possible. Then that person would pass the mouthful of brewski on to the person on his or her left, and so on around the circle. When your swig of beer came back to you, you could swallow. When we got going, there were several swigs simultaneously going around the circle, and much face-sucking, as we so demurely called it back then. At some point, we became aware that the other patrons of The Bar were looking on in horror. (Girl-girl face sucking was not uncommon there, and boy-boy face sucking was the norm, but it was probably all the boy-girl face sucking--Eeeeeew!--that set them off.

As always, I was big on cooking for folks. In my wee little apartment in a building that housed three (!) Indian restaurants at First Avenue off Sixth Street, I'd do my best to keep the cockroaches at bay long enough to whip up something masterful for my friends. But more often than not, we were all meeting up in restaurants. After the Monday night ACT UP meetings at the Community Center, we'd all head off to Florent to rage or exult or exult in our rage about the goings on at the meeting. The Monday night special at Florent used to be roast turkey with cranberry relish and sage dressing, and I couldn't get enough of it.

After the Big Bull Femmes, I became apart of Anger For Breakfast (I came up with that name). And then, I did some great work as part of City AIDS Actions, working to thwart devastating budget cuts to AIDS services proposed by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. (Final Talley: We won, Giuliani lost.)

"Hey! It's me Drew. What's up? Doing anything today?"

"I am. Laundry."

"Want company?"

"I'm not gonna say no to that. In fact, if you hang out with me at my vile laundramat, I'll rent a video afterwards. Have you ever seen Arthur! Arthur!? It's hilarious!"

"Cool! I'll bring the makings of my famous hot chocolate. Have they turned your gas back on?"

"They have. Although I feel so bad about wasting money on utilities that should be going towards liquor."

"Great! Load up your laundry bag, Sweetheart, I'm on my way."

Then came the Great Intermission. My Awful Ex made me forgo my family, one by one. (Well, actually it wasn't that gradual. When we had a commitment ceremony, none of my friends were invited. I forget his flawless logic that lead to that outcome.)

(Oh. And did I mention that he was an asshole?)

After I emerged from that dour coupling, I made a beeline for GMSMA, Gay Male SM Activists. Once again, I started putting together a family, and embracing my leather-self, that I had heretofore relegated pretty much to a back burner. There I met Diabolique, and joined the Program Committee and the Leather Pride Night Committee and had a hapless year as the group's Treasurer (never vote for me to be the Treasurer of any group you're involved with). And once again, there was plenty to fill up my schedule with.

And, of course, about the same time, I joined my softball team, the Ball Breakers.

During the entire time I lived in New York City, I owned neither a television nor an air conditioner. (My Awful Ex, of course, owned both, further indication of what a mismatch we were.) But on my own, I didn't see the need for either, being remarkably heat tolerant and having something to do every night of the week.

"Hey! How goes it?"

"Goooood. And I imagine things are good with you, too. Who was that cute boy you were putting the moves on at the LURE last night?"

"*sigh* He just left. Pretty dreamy. And he looked even better wrapped up in vet wrap."


"So anyway, I was wondering. For the GMSMA program on Wednesday night, we're looking for a demo bottom. Interested?"

"Possibly. Let's meet for coffee and you can give me the details."

"Perfect! You can't see on the phone, but I'm diabolically twirling my moustache."

"Where should we meet?"

"Somewhere by the PATH station?"

"How about Café Des Artistes?"

"Perfect! I haven't been there in years?"

And then, and then, all that came to an end. I was sort of spirited away by the gypsies, only in reverse. My family of origin (that would be my Dad), laid claim on me, and I left behind my family of choice.

So that's the lacuna, the missing element. I'm an orphan.

And, of course, the tricky part is, every now and then--at MAL, during softball season, at my Gay Men's SM-Spirituality Group this Sunday--I get a little taste of family once again. But, as the old song says, "a taste of honey's worse than none at all."

After I revisit, I wander over to wherever my silver Jeep Liberty is parked, stopping to pick up a venti latté from Starbucks on the way, climb in, start up the engine, down Washington Street to West Houston, over to West Street, inch my way to the Holland Tunnel, then it's onto the NJ Turnpike Extension, I-78 to exit 15, Route 513 to Frenchtown, cross the river, south on River Road to Point Pleasant, up Ferry Road to Tollgate, right on Tollgate and pull in to the first driveway on the right.

"Dad! I'm home"

"Finally! It's about time! Where the hell were you?"

"Traffic was bad coming through the tunnel."

"What's for dinner?"

"I was going to heat up the spaghetti with sausage and meatballs from the other night. You liked that, right?"

"That sounds good. How long till it's ready?"

"It'll take about twenty minutes to heat up."

"You take longer to heat up spaghetti than anyone who has ever used a stove."

"I want to check email first."

"Your email can wait. Get dinner on the table, and you can check email afterwards."

"Okay," I answer as I go to check email, "I'll give a call when it's ready."

You there! Reading this! That family of yours, or whatever you call them. Figure out the next Saturday you have free. Call them all up, invite them to come over for dinner. "Y'know, nothing fancy, just something informal." Figure out something to make, something everybody will like. (Here's hoping you don't have any vegans in your circle, but if you do, I have some suggestions for you.)

I'm totally serious about this.

Do it!

It's really important.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sore Is Good

My pecs are hurtin! In the wake of my Triumphant Re-Entry to Cornerstone Fitness, I'm really feeling it.

Which is good! That means it's working!

And I've decided that what I'm going to do is to be really vigilant about my workout, so I get a really great body, and then I'm going to fulfill my lifelong dream of being a hustler!

(You can tell I've put a lot of thought into this, right? Right?)

So then all of my problems will be solved.

And I'll get to travel some.

Lone Wolf

So I'm loving Ethan Mordden's Some Men Are Lookers. Although, of course, it's making me a wee bit wistful. Last night on the phone with The Baron, I tried to nail it down.

"I wish I had... ...someone to go to the movies with! I wish I had someone to meet up for coffee with! I wish I had someone to bump into on the street and catch up with..."

The Baron quickly sprang to the conclusion that this was about Some Man. But I quickly reminded him that there will be none of that in 2007, and I'm fairly surprising myself at how easy it was to let go of all of that.

"I want... what? I want friends!" I blurted.

Which left The Baron taken aback, some. As in, WhuddumI? Pâté? For truly, the Baron is very much my friend.

I was quick to reassure him, but point out that since The Baron has made a recluse of himself down there in New Castle, Delaware, it's unlikely that we'll be going to the movies, meeting up with coffee, or bumping into each other on the street any time soon.

Then it hit me. I know what it is! I miss New York City! Not the "Bronx is up and the Battery's down" thing, but the whole spirit of the place. And the people. Of not being able to go a block without running into someone I know. Of getting together for dinner, or coffee, or chatting at the gym.

You know, that life I used to have.

Okay okay okay! Relax! I said "wistful," not "morose." I ain't gonna go there. And it's just a slight twinge, not an all out maelstrom. See! I even had the werewithal to straighten up the livingroom, make chicken stock, load the woodbox, and go to the gym today!

And, it occurs to me, relief is on the way! In a month and a half, sundry Ball Breakers will be sending me email alerting me that the first Saturday that the thermostat gets above 50°, I'm to head to NYC for softball practice!

(Incidently, if anyone is looking for an exceptionally good time, consider joining the Ball Breakers! Not a lot of experience is necessary, we're all about having fun. Get in touch with me and I'll give you the particulars.)

Sunday, January 24th, 1971

Doing some housecleaning here at the Ol' Homestead. I ran across a yellowed copy of The Inquirer Magazine from thirty-six years ago.

President Nixon!
Viet Nam!
The Brady Bunch!

The lead article, and the reason my stepmother probably saved it, concerns Lansdale, Pennsylvania: "Lansdale, Pa., in Montgomery county, is a typical small town, with conservative older folks and young people on the lose. Today writer William J. Speers takes an in-depth look at Lansdale in an effort to find out why a teen-age boy and his girl-friend committed suicide." (My stepmother lived in Lansdale, and possibly knew the trouble kids at the wrong side of the Generation Gap.)

Maybe because of all the excess hyphenation?

Among all the cigarette ads, I found a page called "People etc." Alleged readers sent in their questions concerning "the Stars" and someone at The Inquirer Magazine dug up the answers.

Here are some samples...

Q: A fan magazine I read reported that Liza Minelli plans to fling herself into the Indian cause, a la Jane Fonda and Mia Farrow. True?

A: Magazine speak with forked tonghe. Although Liza contributes to the cause, she doesn't need headlines to help boost her career. She explains: "You don't have to live and suffer with them to help. I was raised with so much drama I don't crave it."

Q: Once and for all, was country singer Johnny Cash's first wife a Negro?

A: "The subject of his first wife is strictly taboo," say members of the Cash hierarchy. But Cash's sister - business manager, Reba, says Vivian Liberto is of Italian-Irish descent, and offers documentation of the fact to doubters. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1968.

Q: When Dyan Cannon and Cary Grant divorced in 1967, one of her main complaints concerned Grant's use of LSD. Did she ever take it herself?

A: Dyan admits to tripping out once during their two-year marriage, allegedly at Grant's suggestion, and says: "I took it under a doctor's supervision, but it didn't do anything constructive for me. I didn't have a pleasure trip; LSD brings out the nightmares of your mind, and I wasn't ready for that."

Q: Why hasn't J. Edgar Hoover married? Has he ever come close?

A: At 76, the FBI chief enjoys his bachelorhood and doesn't want to risk having a wife or child kidnaped. However, he's been a close friend of fashion model Anita Colby for over 30 years, and has taken her on several wild gangster-chasing rides. Ginger Rogers' mother, Lela Rogers, once had her eye on Hoover, but he gave her the slip.

I'm guessing that fashion model Anita Colby (did you know that's referred to as Times style? Instead of saying, "the fashion model, Anita Colby," the New York Times started abbreviating it to "fashion model Anita Colby" and the like) was relegated to the back seat when Hoover went tooling around on "gangster chasing rides" on Martha's Vineyard, Miami Beach, and Palm Springs.

Sure was a different world, huh? Although there is a certain plus ça change element, just the same.

And I love this! Check out this ad copy for "the New Miami Beach": "Announcing a totally new turned-on tropic resort for today's alive young Americans. On a palm-studded, sun-blazened strip of sand along the azure Atlantic, an experiment in living is going on. There's a new discotheque with a reverse twist. It looks at you with electric eyeballs while the walls quiver from three rock bands on three different stages. At another new club, good vibrations come off when you climb a plastic mountain as it changes shape and color around you. Hugh Hefner has opened a whole new hotel here for Playboys of the western world. While another group grooves at the free rock concert on the lawn right next to the Mayor's office. The place is Miami Beach. The experiment? To see if the new people can tear themselves away from the sunning and fishing and golfing and racing and sailing and sightseeing of the old Miami Beach long enough to plunge into the lifestyle of the new Miami Beach. Come and try the experiment. At worst, you'll blow a little dough. At best, you'll blow your mind."

And the chicks are hot, too! I'm on my way!

Striking another tone, an ad for "Abortion Counseling, Information and Referral Services" informs readers that "Abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy are now legal in New York State. There are no residency restrictions at cooperating hospitals."

Rubye Graham, fashion editor of The Inquirer, features "Prairie Dresses For City Slickers" in a two-page spread, thus launching the careers of thousands of drag queens.

And check out this yummy recipe from Elain Tait's "Sunday Special":

Divine Turkey Medley

2 cups egg noodles
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally
4 large turkey slices or 2 cups turkey or chicken pieces

Basically you throw it all in a pot till it's bubbling, then put it in a caserole and stick it in the oven at 350°.

Just what exactly are "turkey or chicken pieces"?

In another recipe for "Skillet Herbed Kidneys," the "pieces" are identified: 4 lamb or 2 veal kidneys. The "Herbs" in question are salt, pepper, and parsley flakes. Now how zesty and daring is that?

Of course, in the "Mail Order Shopping" section at the back, we catch a glimpse of the dark and seemy underbelly of American life in 1971. "Zip! Bulges positively disappear with He-Man Super-Elastic Control Brief with Flyfront Pouch Men! Zip Away 3 Inches of Bulge As You Help Relieve Backache Instantly! world's first completely undetectable feather-light all-power-control stretch support without pouch!"

Say what?

Mystified? In the adjoining ad touting a basically identical product for women, it's described as a "pull-on zip up panty girdle."

And the illustrations are priceless, too. I wonder how much those somber young men with the bedroom eyes were paid for being photographed wearing a panty girdle?

And speaking of drag queens, another intersting ad catches my eye: "For every feminine inch of you... TALL GIRL fashions! Be an unforgettable women [sic] . . . in fashions that reflect your impeccable taste. Pant sets, dresses, sportswear separates . . . all designed for the woman 5'9" or over who knows fashion. Sizes 8-24. Plus 87 different styles of shoes, sandals and boots sizes 9-14 AAAA to C." There's an illustration that goes with this ad, too, and it's pretty much a drag queen.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Search Me

So, have you all tried the new Search feature here on Singletails?

I've been having fun with it. Both in bringing up some of the more memorable pieces I've written (was giggling anew at "Bear Eye For The Twink Guy" last night), but also searching on a word like "freshly" or "showtime" or "breakable" or whatever.

Up come a series of seemingly unrelated chunks of my life, spanning the five years (Five Years!) I've been posting here.

It reminds me of the conceit in Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five," where Billy Pilgrim, taken away by the Trafalmadorans, does a time-tripping thing, reliving or living segments of his life, as he can both visit the future and the past.

I'm missing the Hit Counter which formerly graced the bottom of my weblog, letting me know that since October 2003 (I think) I had 91,383 hits. So close to 100,000! Ah well. It ain't about that, right?

I'd like a pic of li'l' ol' me to grace the "Who is this guy???" part of the right side of the window, but it seems I have to download some software to make that happen. And I don't wanna. Maybe I can work around that though.

And I'm sorry to say, Ames, I miss the orange. But that's just because I like orange. Orange is my favorite color.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Yes, This Is SingleTails. Don't Touch That Browser!

Yeah. So. Yeah.

New look here at SingleTails. Blogspot has apparently been acquired by Google. Making the upgrade meant choosing a new, tragically Not Orange Enough new template for my weblog. But on the upside, I'll now be able to add stuff like a listing of blogs I admire, books I'm reading, upcoming travels, stuff I've written... the ways of which have heretofore eluded me.

So that's cool.

And, you'll note the new search feature--it is Google, after all--at the top of the page. I have yet to take that for a test drive, but it could prove interesting. Looking for my vietnamese fish stew recipe that I posted way back when? Shouldn't be too hard to dig it out now.

Oh. And I think I opened up the comments feature so that any o' youse can sound off, not just folks with blogger blogs. (I decry such exclusionary practices. To be sure.)

So hope you enjoy!

Me and J. Danforth

Oh cool!

I just googled myself, and up came this Blast From The Past. It's the account from the New York Times of my disrupting a speech made by then-Vice President Dan Quayle during the 1992 Campaign.


Good times, good times...

Vice President Quayle was speaking to members of the New York Conservative Party, and you've never seen such a room full of Neanderthals. They were blood-thirsty. George and Andrea went first, and this Conservative Party member came charging through the banquet room and tackled George into the press table at the back. (George was unhurt, and it made for some thrilling "You Are There" coverage on the news that night.) The Secret Service escorted George and Andrea out. After that reaction, I and my partner Suzanne (one of the most beautiful women I've ever known, resembling a young Princess Stephanie of Monaco), sort of looked at each other, like "Uh. Oh." But when I decided that I couldn't take another minute of Dan Quayle's bloviating, I rose to my feet.

What I said was, "When are you gonna talk about AIDS, Dan? You can't dodge AIDS!" (Quayle had just referred to Bill Clinton as being a "draft dodger.") The Secret Service was on us pretty quick, as they approached me and Suzanne, one guy said, "We're gonna get you guys out of here before this crowd tears you apart." And that sounded good to me!

As they lead us out--no handcuffs, alas--I was maniacly bellowing "AIDS Dodger! AIDS Dodger! AIDS Dodger!"

We weren't arrested or anything! They just deposited us outside the hotel, after permitting us to reclaim our coats from the coat check. So, ebullient, we jumped in a cab and headed up to the West Village. Since it was a Monday night, the ACT UP (that would be "AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, a diverse, non-partisan group of individuals united in our anger and committed to non-violent direct action to end the AIDS Crisis.") meeting was still going on, so we got to go in and get a heroes welcome. When that article appeared in the Times the next day, it essentially made everyone I worked with at the General Counsel's Office of Ernst & Young, the largest professional services firm in the world, aware that I was 1.) a homo, and 2.) uppity about that.

Made for an interesting day at work.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Big Change

When I woke up this morning, I didn't imagine that the day would unfold... uhhhh... the way it did.

Can't really go into details, but I will say this: I'll be able to get back to going to the gym now. Big time. And with the change in my metabolism, it will be interesting to see how things turn out. I don't think I've gone for so long without lifting weights in the past ten years of my life.

Man! Am I gonna be hurting on Friday! Good thing I haven't canceled my membership.

Figured out what's up, maybe?

I'm doing fine. Better than fine.

No! Really!

I'll admit there's an undercurrent of anxiety. As in, haven't I had enough financial hardship for this decade? But overall, I emerged victorious. I countered nastiness, pettiness, and short-sightedness with kindness, graciousness, honesty, and openness. And I was victorious.

Last Wednesday night, I prayed for healing of the situation. When I did so, I'll admit it was half-hearted. I thought that the situation was beyond God's help. It didn't seem to me as though there was any way out. But that's how I feel. Healed.

So... like... Wow!

But if you hear of a good opening, drop me an email.

Uh oh

I seem to be having some problems with blogger. I tried to add a google "search this blog" feature (that would be the ribbon across the top), but the format seems to have gone awry. I hope I'll be able to fix this without calling tech support at blogger.

That would be because there is no tech support at blogger.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Wry Observation

Not so very long ago, I merrily skipped off to work in the morning (okay. I drove. After all, it's forty miles away.). At the end of a full and productive day, I'd tear myself away and head home, my head full of all the great things that were possible all the way home.

Well that's over. For reasons I won't go into hear (suffice it to say that it has nothing to do with either the staff, clients, volunteers, mission, direction, or work of the Place of Employ), it's become pretty nightmarish. When I've filled a few colleagues in on the particulars, they were floored by what I had to tell them. So now, every morning, I get out of bed and manage to put one foot in front of the other and just not think too hard about what the day will bring to get myself down to the Place of Employ.

(When I heard on the radio this morning that Chase Utley has signed a seven year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, citing as reason that although he grew up in California, he really loves Philadelphia and considers himself to be a Philadelphian and this is where he wants to stay, I thought, "Chase, next season they're going to grind you to powder." This is a town, afterall, that loves to hate a loser. And if you come all fresh-faced and full of enthusiasm and hopes and dreams, they'll do their best to wipe that silly grin off your face soon enough. I think it has something to do with the fact that Philadelphians, deep in their hearts, feel that they've gotten the short shrift in some cosmic way.)

And there's the other thing, too. My New Year's Resolution. No romance in 2007.

I am amazed at how that has really taken off. That constant drumbeat... That Greek chorus of "seek-him-seek-him-seek-him" that I've pretty much heard unabated since I was a teenager has departed. Now, I'm open to the possibility, but I can't say I'm looking for it.

On my drive home tonight, mulling these two things over, I think I hit upon a Great Truth: It's not all about the dopamine.

Say what?

Well, think about it. Dopamine, of course, is the neurochemical that, when it floods your brain, gives you feelings of pleasure and well-being. When you meet with some great success in your professional life, part of your reward is a shot of dopamine. And, along with oxytocin and serotonin, your cerebral cortex gets a nice dopamine bath when you fall in love.

But let's think about that.

It's just a molecule.

And, if it's really that important to you, you should know that you don't have to rely on the viscisitudes of happenstance to get a dose of it. Another molecule is available that just the exact same thing. It's called an opiate. And you can find it in heroin, morphine, and in the Percaset my doctor kindly provided me with when I was having my mouth problems a few weeks ago.

It's just a molecule.

And you can't organize your life around a molecule.

I had a nice time this past weekend up in NYC at the annual motorcycle show, hanging with the BMW guy I had a few dates with last year this time. It was sooooo cold. But at times, just relaxing into the cold, it felt bracing and envigorating. Unlike the cold I seem to have caught. (Yet again. What is this? The fourteenth cold of the season?) But, happily, my cold isn't making me feel bad particularly. I'm just breathing a different way. And then there's church. My Wednesday night Eucharist followed by "Adult Christian Formation" (Last week I lead the discussion on "The Early Church," and this week I'm leading the discussion on "The Church in the Middle Ages.). And lemme tell ya, I am having such a great time writing my gay werewolf romance. Since it's pretty clear that the guy that my hero, Gary, is infatuated with is, in fact, a werewolf--although that's not clear to Gary, blinded as he is with desire--the suspense comes from wondering just what the guy's intentions are. What's this going to do to Vic? Get it? Just like any budding relationship. The process of writing in this case is just like the process of reading: I can't wait to see what happens next! And, I am more aware than I have been in most of my adult life of those relationships that I have that I truly value. All the support and kindness and words of wisdom and sympathy that have been offered to me by some men I'm honored to call my friends. It's new for me to be the relier upon rather than the relied upon, but it brings me deep peace to know that I'm not in this alone. People who care about me are keeping me in their prayers.

Peace. Contentment. Delight.

Without that molecule, I'm doing alright.

It's not all about the molecule.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

MAL... C'est Bon!

Back. Mid-Atlantic Leather was fantastic. Although not in the way that I expected.

Work, unfortunately, is another story. My Board of Directors, alas, are idiots, causing me no end of anxiety and sleepless nights. Before I headed south on I-95 to DC, I met up with my predecessor for coffee at Starbucks to lament and gnash my teeth. Having been through it all, and worse (they were awful to her), she could certainly offer her sympathy. But, alas, since they're the Board and I'm the Executive Director, it's a no-win situation for me. I report to them, not the other way around. And, according to our bylaws (despite my predecessors frequent attempts to amend them), there are no term limits, so this band of malicious, back-stabbing, obstructive mediocrities will be there forever.

But finally I got on the road, and did my best on the drive down to put all of that aside, fearing that obsessing and insomnia would cramp my style. The traffic on 95 wasn't too bad, even in Delaware, and I made good time. I would have made it in under three hours if not for a stop at in Delaware for gas, a roast beef sandwich from Arby's, and a refill on my latté.

Upon arrival at the Residence Inn, I checked in, unpacked, and took a nice long, hot bath. I was aware that across Thomas Circle, in the lobby of the Washington Plaza, MAL awaited, in all its glory. I was brimming with anticipation, but I almost wanted to sustain that. Imagine a blazing hot day, and there you are, perched on the diving board over a swimming pool that spells refreshing cool. Your toes curled over the edge of the board, but instead of jumping off, you stay crouched, letting your appreciation of the eternal moment Before It All Happens build and build.

But finally, after my bath, I got dressed and made my way through the balmy DC Friday night to the Wash Plaza.

And there they all were. The leathermen who sustain me.

Per usual, I was Paris Hilton, not able to walk ten paces without someone greeting me warmly. People I know well, and people I know only through the magic of the World Wide Internet. I made my way to the cigar tent, which I guess at this point is the smoking tent, since an indoor smoking ban went into effect in DC on January 2nd.

At this point, recounting becomes difficult. A listing would doubtless leave people out, and I don't want to slight anyone.

I stayed till my eyelids started to grow heavy, and I was in bed that night at the Residence Inn by 2 a.m.

A wonderful development: Starbucks, in their campaign to conquer the known universe, has opened up a store right across the street from the Residence Inn. So the next morning, I put on some clothes and hustled over there to get a nice three-pump-pumpkin-spice-latté to start my day.

I had lunch scheduled that day with Bear Man (the One, the Only), meeting up with him in the Vendor Mart, so I headed there. At this point, there's nothing I need, at least nothing I can afford.

Or so I thought. Check this out. A couple of guys from Provincetown who blend clean, sharp design with flawless garment-by-garment fabrication. They're stuff is amazing. If Laura Bennet of Project Runway fame was designing clothes for leathermen, this is what she would come up with. I dug deep into my bank account and sprung for a pair of Inseam pants, making a huge fuss with the guys who made them and who were selling them to me. (They were there courtesy of Max from the Leatherman, and I'm eternally grateful.

Lunch with Bear Man (the One, the Only) was great. I told him how happy I was to be at MAL, how events like this sustain me and keep me from picking out a really high bridge over the Delaware River. Bear Man (the One, the Only), made a good listener, and offered words of encouragement I took to heart.

And then, of course, it was back to the cigar tent.

That's when I first noticed it. This odd feeling. I sort of felt... out of it. In much the same way I did back in September at Inferno.

There I was, surrounded by the most desireable men I can imagine, and yet, I didn't feel even a vague inclination to pursue. There was no hunt in me.

I tried to shake the feeling, but couldn't. This strange disengagement persisted.

Mulling it over (with, I admit, a little panic, along the lines of "did I just drive all the way down here and spend all this money on a hotel for nothing), I tried to name the feeling. When the words "self contained" passed through my mind, I had the realiation: this was Zen! It was detachment. I was open to possibilities, but not neeeeeding anything to happen. The moment, the experience, the men of MAL were enough for me.

And the warmth with which I was greeted. Guys threw there arms around me, so happy to see me. I felt loved. Loved and welcomed by my brothers in leather.

I know! Sounds way sappy, right?

But I swear! It was just so good! When men I love and admire and respect demonstrate love and admiration and respect for me... Well, I just feel as if I'm borne aloft, supported, and (there's that word again!) sustained.


Of course, there was The Disappointment. The man I whipped down at Black Rose had to postpone our date for Saturday night at the DC Men of Discipline dungeon party at the Crucible because of some health issues. So, we met for coffee.

And coffee was wonderful. Our time together at Black Rose, and was mostly occupied by me whipping him. I suspected that he was a really good guy. But over coffee, I learned just what a good guy he is.

Man of Discipline has these beautiful blue eyes, and a clear-sightedness and calm common in men from the Midwest. (He's from Wisconsin.) He's smart, self-deprecating, and judging by how he was bearing up under his current adversity, seems to be a happy, decent guy.

We both agreed that our not being able to get together this weekend was not the end of the story, just a postponement.

And walking back to the hotel from coffee with Man of Discipline, another word came floating through my open mind: "Smitten."

Uh oh! Not even two weeks into 2007 and already I'm forgoing my New Year's resolution?


I'm open, but not pursuing.

Back at the hotel, another long, hot bath, then another cigar or four in the cigar tent, more meeting, hugging, and catching up. And, I met the only other guy on worldleathermen who has a pic of himself with a black eye up in his gallery! And Man! The internet does not do him justice! Smokin' hot! And, of course, a resident of Palm Springs. (Blast!) But from what he said the feeling was mutual.

That night, when they got back from leather cocktails, I met up with a guy named Spike and his posse for dinner. Interestingly enough, one member of Spike's crew did the same work I'm doing, only in Michigan. Michigan guy couldn't join us for dinner as he was coming down with a bug, but them what could had great food at Thai Tanic, a restaurant a few blocks away from the Wash Plaza.

Oh. At an adjoining table was a sleek of rubbermen. (Add that to my list of proposed collective nouns for the kinky set.) They were all wearing rubber body suits, and, I was amused to note that they all had their napkins in their shiny rubber laps. I mean, how come?

Great dinner, and great company. Spike gets to Philadelphia for work on occasion, and I hope we can meet up sometime. A great guy, and a friendship I'd like to develop.

After dinner, I was already feeling a little tired, and decided not to make my way down to the Crucible. A few years ago, I went to a Saturday night Crucible party stag and spent the whole night being a spectator. I didn't want to make that mistake again, and also, since I was feeling sleepy (only 11 p.m.!!! I'm old!!!), I wouldn't trust my aim even if I did find a willing bottom.

So, more hanging in the cigar tent, reclining on the cloud of fellowship, and then off to bed.

Sunday. Last day.

I headed to Starbucks, and started the day the best way I know how to spend Sunday morning: with the New York Times. Afterwards, I put on my new Inseam pants and headed across the street. I decided to toss some more money to the Inseam guys and bought one of their tshirts. (Also, I had underpacked and didn't have a clean shirt to wear the next day. Imagine! Someone underpacked for MAL!!)

For dinner on Sunday night, I met up with my Friend and (Former) Landlord. And talk about smitten. He's positively giddy about a guy he's been seeing from SF. I told him he was nothing less than ebulient, and this man, who is one of the most depraved I know--and I know a lot of depraved men, blushed.

We ate at Afterwards Café, my fav restaurant in DC. Dinner, of course, was excellent. And, it's always great talking to Friend and (Former) Landlord.

I stopped in at the Recon party at the Ramrod. It was packed. Oddly, I didn't recognize anybody from Recon, with one exception. This guy I've lusted after for years from Chicago was there, and meeting up with him--consumating an internet relationship as it were--was enjoyable.

Back at the cigar tent, things were jumpin'. I mingled, I enjoyed a cigar or six. NYSadist, who I went home with several years ago from the LURE, and who was the first person to put a flogger in my hand, sauntered up to me wearing dark sunglasses. Which I thought was an odd choice for midnight.

Then came the Reveal: he removed the sunglasses, and his the pupils of his eyes were a demonic red. He opened his lips to reveal needle sharp canine teeth.

Unbelievably effective! When Hawgs saw it, he totally freaked out. And I don't imgaine Hawgs was a man who freaks out easily. But NYSadist was the closest I came to an encounter with the Undead. 'Sadist and I spent some time talking, vowing to meet up sometime in NYC, so we can both terrorize some boy so bad he shits his pants. Although I think I'm fairly twisted, I've got nothing on 'Sadist.

The evening grew late, and I decided to draw my MAL experience to a close. Feeling warm, loved, and still very self-contained. As I headed by the door, a guy I've chatted to online approached, introduced himself and his boy, and invited me up to his room.

"I'm pretty tired," I countered.

"Aw c'mon!" he responded.

So, okay.

And so the capstone of the weekend was me with my fist in his boy's ass.

I went to sleep dreaming wonderful dreams.

Back here in Pennsylvania, it was the worst possible homecoming: the montly meeting of my Board of Directors. (I know! On Martin Luther King Jr Day! What? Are they an outpost of Utah?) It wasn't as bad as I feared. it was worst.

On the long drive home afterwards, I thought about the weekend I had just had.

I took a deep breath, turned it all over to God, asking him to heal the situation, and I was able to recapture that Zen calm and contentment.

Thanks to the Grace of MAL, I'll be fine.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

DC Bound

Tonight, I rushed home from work and picked up Faithful Companion. It was time for his annual visit to the vet. I'm happy to say that apparently, pending the examination of his stool sample, Faithful Companion is in good shape. He's getting older, and losing weight, down nine pounds from December, 2005. So I'm doubling up on his ration of kibble for a while.

I like my vet a lot. He sees my tenderness and playfulness with Faithful Companion, and is apparently charmed by that.

No doubt about it, I'm just crazy about tht little dog with the big brown eyes.

And tomorrow, I'll be dropping him off at doggie lock-up. I'm headed down to MAL as soon as I can make it.

Even though it seems that Man of Discipline is having some health issues and I won't be whipping him on Saturday night. In fact, Man of Discipline will have to miss the whole she-bang. On Saturday afternoon, I'm going to meet up with him for coffee. I've been thinking a lot about him. Not, of course, in a romantic way, since this is 2007 and I'm not doing that this year.

But damn I'm looking forward to it.

Tomorrow, I drive down, check into my room at the good ol' Marriot Residence Inn, and take a nice hot bath. Then I'll head over to the Plaza hotel, check my coat, and enter the sacred ground of the Cigar Tent. And so the weekend will unfold.

Oh man. I need this bad.

I'll be sure to tell you all about it when i get back.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Il Miglior Fabbro

A balmy 73° here in Bucks County today, so I headed to Starbucks in Doylestown to enjoy my summer drink (iced quad venti one-pump-vanila light ice latté) and a cigar on the porch. And I decided I wanted something to read. Months ago, I had picked up Ethan Mordden's fifth installment in his "Buddies" trilogy, Some Men Are Lookers.

I was in my twenties when I read Buddies, I've A Feeling We're Not In Kansas Anymore, and Everybody Loves You. Few books have made me the man I am like those have. So powerful, so thought provoking. Ostensibly the tales of a group of gay men in Manhattan, to my mind they set ofrth an ethic and a worldview. It's just amazing. And, they're hilarious.

Some Men Are Lookers does not disappoint. I was snorting and giggling in no time. And, of course, riveted. Here's a sample of Mordden's writing...

"Look, I like it hot, same as anyone. But what I always wanted was somewher there would be a door that I could walk through, any day of the week, and the person in the room behind the door would know how I felt just by the face I had on. On the back side of the door would be all the assholes and schmucks and idiots who fuck your day up. But on this side I'd get a human being instead of an android.
"That's all those beauties turn out to be, after a god long while. Fabulous androids. Blond boy in a black T-shhirt and kaki shorts. Or dark hair, jaw for years, sculpted soft mouth that gives out with irresistible 'Yeah.' Classic gym hunk dancing in a tank top, arching his back by the water cooler. You want it, they have it. Order now--they do everything. Except feel. Put your arms around them sometime, try for warmth. There's nothing in them!"

Oh man.

So reading stuff that good always has the same effect on me: why pick up a pen? (Or, y'know, why bother to tip and tap away at the keyboard?)

So nice to feel all reflective though. Whimsical. Facing life with an ironic half-smile.

Does anybody out there know Mr. Mordden? I'd sure like to meet him.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tough Town

I've tended not to talk about work much since taking the new job. Wuperior Soodcraft was a different story, causing me to wax rhapsodic on a regular basis. But the new job is fairly straightforward. Job is job. and there's probably not a lot interesting about my occasional gripes.

But I'm making an exception. Talking not so much about the the Place of Employ, but about the city that the Place of Employ calls home: Philadelphia.

Now, I built my career in New York City. Which is a tough town. You've gotta be bulletproof. There are some... uh... "strong personalities" in that town. And I ran into a lot, but there's a hell of a lot that I never dreamed of that I'm running into in Philadelphia.

For example, I present to my Board of Directors an idea we've cooked up that will geometrically expand the reach of our efforts without any significant increase in resources--which we don't have right now--and how do they respond?

"When I called the agency three weeks ago and talked to M. she was very disrespectful to me on the phone."

Not anomalous!

It keeps coming up.

"Did you know that three years ago he got drunk and made some really sexist comments at a party..."

"And there he was sucking face with the program officer from one of our funders..."

"I don't like her!"

It's all I hear! It's totally all about gossip and opinion!

I mean, not like that didn't go down in NYC. Especially in politics, it's all about gossip. (If you ever want the complete history of everybody who Rudolph W. Giuliani cheated on his wife Donna with while he was Mayor, buy me a Margarita sometime.)

But it doesn't determine anything. That's a matter of how smart, how effective, how persuasive, how creative, how innovative, or how much you manage to get done in a day.

But it's my experience that in Philadelphia, none of those are considerations. It's all about whether or not you like the person.

On my drive home from the Place of Employ tonight, I shared these observations with the Baron.

And the Baron concurred and elaborated.

By way of example, he described an acquaintance of his, a journalist of sorts, who lives for nothing more than being admitted gratis to soirées and openings where he gets to drink wine without paying for it.


For this guy, that's what it's all about: getting to drink wine without having to pay anything. And he'll be sure to mention you in his column. (Now, I'm not an expert in journalistic ethics...)

In a city of mediocrities, all you care about is getting smoke blown up your ass, and the best way to get some of that is to blow smoke up someone else's ass.

So... Like... Uh oh.


Well maybe not all is lost.

In the last hundred years, the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection has had exactly two mayors that weren't total useless hacks: Richardson Dillworth and Edward G. Rendell. Rendell, of course, is currently our Governor. During his time in City Hall, the city took off. Seemingly by force of will, Mayor Rendell turned the city around. Buzz Bissinger, the guy who wrote "Friday Night Lights," chronicled the mayoralty of Ed Rendell in his book "Prayer For The City."

And I'm gonna read it.

If Ed could plow through all the hacks in this town and get the job done, then maybe so can I.