Saturday, June 30, 2007

Remember Back When We Used To Have "Safe Words"?

Those days are gone.

A new day is dawned.

Despite my D+ on the 8th Grade Science Quiz, I'm a genius!

So I was talking to this guy on line. Big, hot, beefy bodybuilder guy. From his profile, he's pretty much a Top, and not much into SM.

I complimented him on his back. (And he has a beautiful back. Rhomboids like loaves of bread.) He came back with something like, "My back? Are you into giving massages or something?"

"Well, yeah," I answered, "But mostly I'd like to whip you."

"Whip me? Kidding me? What did I ever do to you?"

"Not about that," I explained, "It's just that I'd have a good time whipping you. See what happens first: my arm gets tired, or you tap out."

Case you're not up on Ultimate Fighting, "Tapping Out" is when the match is over. One of the fighters will slap the canvas with his palm three times, as a way of saying, "Okay, I give in. I've had enough." Sort of the hyper-masculine equivalent of saying "Uncle."

There was a pause. Then came his reply: "I never tap out."

And all of a sudden he was totally into it. It didn't take much coaxing from me ("I bet you can take a lot"), and now this Not-Into-SM Top guy wants me to whip him.

Alas, he lives on the West Coast, so it's not gonna happen any time soon.

But still, what a great strategy for seduction: We'll just go till you tap out.

It's like Johnny Knoxville and Ultimate Fighting and John Cena and Backyard Wrestling have all conspired to bring about the circumstances where men are forming a line so that I can chain them up and whip them. Till my arm gets tired or until they tap out. Whichever comes first.

So remember, the next time you're at a play event and you hear someone talking about "Tapping Out," the idea was original with SingleTails.

I'm gonna go practice with my bullwhips.

Not Looking Forward To Report Card Day

And you think I'm such a smart guy, huh?

Mingle2 Free Online Dating - Science Quiz

I got a D+

But I have to admit, I didn't study. I thought I could just coast by.

I remember in 5th Grade, we had a "Science Bee" in my class. All the other kids were eliminated, and it was a showdown between me and... Linda Partridge or Maggie Nathans, I think. One of those Smart Girls. The Smart Girl missed her question, and so I had to answer correctly to win. Mrs. Stern, the teacher, gave me the cinchiest of all cinchy questions: "What are the three types of rocks?"

That's so easy!

"Igneous, Sedimentary, and..."

I drew a blank.

"Igneous, Sedimentary, and..."

I know this! This is so easy!

Igneous rocks are formed by minerals exposed to heat close to the earth's core or by magma coming close to the earth's surface. They're formed by heat. Sedimentary rocks are when minerals get mushed together by being buried by other stuff. Fossils are sedimentary rocks. And then there's the third kind... Formed by...

"Igneous, Sedimentary, and..."

"Igneous, Sedimentary, and..."

"Igneous, Sedimentary, and..."

I didn't get it.

After what seemed an eternity, while I stood up there in front of the whole class repeating "Igneous, Sedimentary, and... Igneous, Sedimentary, and... Igneous, Sedimentary, and..." like some geologic mantra, I finally timed out, and Mrs. Stern, without even looking at me, said, "Metamorphic."

Agggggghhh! How could I forget Metamorphic!

The Smart Girl got her next question right, and I went down to defeat.

Igneous, Sedimentary, and Metamorphic.

Quarts, Shale, Diamonds.

Friday, June 29, 2007

C'est N'est Pas Rien, C'est Une Couche Mal

Oh. My. God.

I could not be happier.

Turner Classic Movies is showing Sidney Lumet's Murder On The Orient Express.

Such an amazing movie. I saw it when it first came out with my brother and my father. It's incredible film making. Every frame is absolutely perfect. And the cast: Albert Finney, Lauren Becall, Ingrid Bergman, Wendy Hiller, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Sean Connery, Michael York, Jacqeline Bisset, John Gielgud, Richard Widmark, Tony Perkins... How the hell did they get the greatest actors of the 20th Century in the same movie?

Nine year old me emerged from the theater with a fascination for train travel, Agatha Christie, and a desire to learn foreign languages. Among other things. (Hercule Poirot and I share a certain pride in our extraordinary moustaches.)

I wish I had known. I would have make myself a nice pot of tea.

This is delightful.

Baseball, Cigars, And Grace

[Note: This was written last night. Thankfully, internet access was restored this afternoon.]

It’s been a hard week for me. A very hard week.

On Monday, I had trouble sleeping. There I was at 4:30 in the morning, plagued by awful dark despair. Bleak and hopeless. It all started when I was brushing my teeth, getting ready for bed. Maybe it was just the bad lighting in the bathroom, but looking in the mirror it seemed that one of my front teeth was stained with brown.

And me without a dental plan. Or a job. Or a significant relationship. Or a date on Saturday night. Or a future.

I once read that dreaming about losing teeth is dreaming about death. Not just death, but the disappation and loss you suffer leading up to death. And for the next few hours, lying in bed, walking through the still, dark house, sitting out on the porch while dawn broke, that was certainly where my thoughts turned.

Usually when this happens—it’s a rare thing with me, but it does come upon me every once in a while—I manage to find some way to talk myself in off the proverbial ledge. Well I didn’t that night. I finally got to sleep, thinking morbid, self-pitying thoughts about whether it would be more fitting to sit in my jeep closed up in the garage with the engine running, listening to one last playlist on my iPod, or to just hang myself from one of the hooks in the high ceilings of the garage. (Just me being dramatic, I swear! Don’t get all nervous. Like you haven’t been there ever.)

And to be sure, part of this internal monolog centered on hatred of my father. The reason that I’m here, stuck in the Howling Wilderness.

And why am I here? How did I get here?


I’ve known the answer to that question for a while now.

I want my father to love me. And I was so sure that such a profound gesture, giving up my adult life in New York City to move back here and take care of him would win his love.

Well that didn’t happen.

He’s a selfish man. Every train of thought he has starts out with “What about me?” And those thoughts about offing myself out in the garage were all about my rage: “See what you did, Dad? Who’s going to make you dinner and launder your shitty underwear now?”

As I said, the feeling didn’t go away. I just finally drifted off to sleep, at about 8 a.m.
The next day, up at the crack of noon (I hate sleeping late), those phantoms from the night before were much paler, but they hadn’t vanished altogether. This whole week I’ve just felt as though the rug had been pulled out from under me. I was just going through the motions. At Starbucks yesterday, enjoying a cigar and the wonderful hazy-hot-humid afternoon, I tried to read but couldn’t keep my mind on the book, fascinating though it is.

No job. No man. No life.

Tonight at the gym, my workout was a huge effort. After just about every set, I’d ask myself, “What’s the point of this exactly?”

Usually, I’m not working out so late. But there was a thunderstorm brewing, and when I was heading out, my father begged/forbade me to go: “What if the lights go out while you’re not here.”

Power failures are my father’s great obsessive fear.

The obvious answer to that question is, “The same thing that would happen if I was here. You light candles and wait for the power to come back on.”

Whaddya want from me? Climb a ladder and see if everything looks “okay” with the transformer on the utility pole out front?

So I made an early dinner, waited until after Action News decided that the threat was passed, and then went to the gym.

Among the late gym goers is a guy named Ken. Ken looks so good naked. He’s also a homo. Or at least, semi-homo. We’ve talked some, and still nod hello to each other, but our brief conversations made clear to both of us that preferring hims to hers is all we have in common.

But tonight, uncharacteristically, Ken asked me, “How’s softball going?”

My reply was immediate: “Softball is going great! My team leads the division and we’re on a twelve game winning streak.”

And after that, when I managed to squeeze out a set of dumbbell shoulder presses, when the question rose in my mind, “What was the point of this exactly?”, I had an answer: Softball!

Softball is the thing that I still have going for me.

And is it perhaps a coincidence that this Existential Crisis hit me just when I haven’t played for ten whole days and I won’t play again until July 14th? That’s a long time to go without softball.

Truly, softball has sustained me this year, when so many of my other pillars (SM, romance, leather) have failed.

I’ve still got softball.

After my workout, I stopped at Starbucks, then headed home. The night air was cool and fresh from the shower. I gave Faithful Companion a walk, then sat down at the trusty old laptop to check email.

Outside I heard a crack, almost like a rifle shot, or a bullwhip. Then a creaking sound. An error message appeared on the screen: your internet connection has been lost.

“Hey! What happened?” my father called out from the former spare bedroom where he now spends his days and nights smoking cigars and watching television.

Before I even grabbed a flashlight and went to investigate, I knew immediately what happened.

I noticed a few weeks ago that over the wires coming in from the street that bring us our cable television and my internet connection, there were a couple of very large dead limbs of a very big tree. Both of the limbs extended out almost parallel to the ground, right over the juice from our friends at Comcast. I called an arborist to come out and take care of it, since they were both way too high up for me to tackle. The arborist has made a habit of making appointments to come and do the work and then not showing up.

In the front yard is a huge limb—that’ll make great firewood this winter—lying on top of a tangle of cables.

I came back in and gave a report to my father, who was distraught. For him, it’s all about watching television.

Ask the Baron.

Back in May, he came up to have dinner on the night of my father’s birthday. I roasted a chicken, and it was one of my best. (Which is saying a lot. My roast chicken is great.) When dinner was ready, my father came out to the table and after some preliminaries (opening the card, looking at the plate I had prepared for him and asking, “what is this?”), he wanted to turn on the television because that goddamn game show with Howie Mandel and the briefcases was on.

And yes, I’ll admit it gladdened my cold, black heart hugely a little that my father was to be deprived of whatever the hell he was watching. Which in this instance was a Phillies game.

I called Comcast, and they said they’d send out a technician tomorrow afternoon.

“What the hell am I supposed to do until then?” my father demanded to know.

“Read a book,” I said

Not the answer he was hoping for, so he trudged back to the spare bedroom.

Well, I thought, I could read a book. Or watch a movie. I have a nice but small selection of DVDs.


“Dad,” I called back, “Want to watch a movie?”

He came back out to the livingroom, and I explained to him that wonderful modern innovation that is a DVD player.

“What movies do you have?” he asked.

I had already decided what we were going to watch.

A few years ago, I bought my father the deluxe box set of Ken Burns’ documentary, Baseball. I had also bought the collection for myself. My dad got VCR tapes, possibly the last Christmas that video cassettes were sold by Barnes & Noble, and I got DVDs.

Per usual, my father had opened up my gift, asked “What the hell is this?”, listened with half an ear while I explained, set it aside, and promptly forgotten about it.

He settled himself in his chair in the living room and I selected the DVD covering baseball in the 1940s, which was a banner decade for my father. I hit play and we started to take it in.

In one of the introductory segments, a man my father’s age describes how when he was stationed in the South Pacific during World War II, feeling forlorn and homesick, he was listening to a baseball game on the radio. A sergeant came in and joined him, and the sergeant lit up a cigar. When the guy got a whiff of the cigar smoke, he said, “And then and there, I was transported to the Polo Grounds (home of the New York Giants).”

That got my father’s attention.

“Uh… Do me a favor,” he said, “Run back and get me a cigar.”

Now, that’s actually a pretty big deal.

My stepmother hated my father’s cigar smoking. That’s why he’s consigned to the spare bedroom. I can still hear her, calling from the living room, “Howard! Shut the door! I can smell the stink from your goddamn cigar!”

Clearly, by smoking a cigar in the living room, my father knew he was risking having her ghost rise from the grave and come and carry him off to eternal torment.

“And get one for yourself,” he called to me. (At least he wouldn’t be dragged down to Hell alone.)

When I heard this, something long dormant inside me awakened.

I brought my dad his cigar, and ran out to my car to get one of mine from the portable humidor in my shoulder bag. My father, you see, doesn’t smoke maduros, and I only smoke maduros.

We lit our cigars, and sat watching Ken Burns’ documentary. Joe DiMaggio gets a hit and gets on base in an astonishing 56 straight games. Ted Williams hits .406 for the season.

Before I made that fateful decision in 2003 that brought me back here, when I was just contemplating the possibility, this was the image that arose in my mind: me and my dad, smoking cigars, and watching Ken Burns’ documentary about baseball together.

Way back when I was in college, home one summer, PBS showed a documentary of Bill Moyers interviewing Joseph Campbell. My dad and I watched it together. The whole thing. Side by side, in the same chairs we sat in tonight.

My dad and I were very much father and son, sitting there, listening to Joseph Campbell. We didn’t look at each other. Because we each knew the other one was moved to tears, now and then giving out a sob stifling sigh. If you’ve ever sat next to me and watched a movie, any movie, you know exactly what I mean. Not, of course, because I’m/we’re sad, just because what I’m/we’re watching is deeply effecting, and there’s that emotional reaction thing that we Kramer men don’t handle so well.

And cigars.

Back when we were dating, Special Guy described to me how he and his dad would sit out in their backyard in Queens smoking cigars and drinking wine together. I was struck at the time by how foreign that was given my own relationship with my father. But why should that be so? I smoke cigars, my father smokes cigars. Just, not in the same room together.

So that’s how my father and I spent this cable- and internet-free evening. Sitting watching Ken Burns’ Baseball and smoking cigars.

Not saying much to each other.

“I bet when Ted Williams didn’t get a hit he breathed a sigh of relief. Can you imagine that pressure?”

“Good old Brooklyn. I lived three blocks from where Ebbet’s Field stood. It’s apartment houses now.”

Or just, “Wow.”

“Hey! There’s Connie Mack.”

“I thought it was so great how this year, on April 15th, a lot of players all wore Number 42 to commemorate the anniversary of Jackie Robinson taking the field the first time. What a great man he was.”

I will remember this night until the day I die.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

They Want You!

More than a decade before the Don't Ask Don't Tell fiasco, the United States Navy bankrolled the filming of this video with the hopes that it would bolster enlistment.

I kid you not.

The date on the video is 1979, so I'm guessing that would be after the infamous Saturday Night Live skit that blew the lid off the all of the homosexual innuendo and double entendres in the Village People's oeuvre.

And that begs the question: was the Navy out of their minds, or were they really and truly hoping that young American homos would rush to enlist? I'm forced to believe it was the latter.

(As we all know, this had no effect on bottoms. Bottoms enlist in the Marines. Always. Without exception. Trust me on that.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Music Hunt!

I hate when I want to own a song and it's not to be found on iTunes. iTunes should have some way of taking requests, right?

In days of yore, when I was huge into music piracy (Arrrrgh!), I relied on Limewire and Napster and similar shareware sites. But, much like Diane Keaton in Looking For Mr. Goodbar when she was dating the guy who left his stash at her apartment, my head just got filled up with too many images of the FBI agents breaking down my door.

And so I turn to all of you.

Can anyone out there direct me to a website where I can obtain--for cash money!--MP3s of the following tracks?

You're Beautiful by Madagascar
The Whistle Song by Frankie Knuckles
Don't Tell Me by Blancmange

I will, of course, be wildly appreciative.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Pride NYC 2007


(Touching fingertips to tongue and running them over eyebrows; smoothing pleats on apron; gently clearing throat.)

There. I've composed myself.

Let me try again.

My hopes and expectations for heading up to NYC for Pride with the Baron were two-fold: I wanted to shake off the rollicking, rainbow-festooned mob and enter the beautiful sanctuary of the Church of Saint Luke In The Fields to attend Gay Pride Evensong. Then, later, I wanted to stand on the sidewalk of West Street, preferably in front of one of the Richard Meier towers and watch the fireworks display.

It was my expectation that the Baron would come up on Saturday night, stay over, I'd roll him out of slumber Sunday morning around 10 a.m., and around 10:30--eleven o'clock at the latest--we'd be on the road heading up to NYC. When we spoke to confirm on Friday, the Baron trumped these plans: he'd agreed to watch his sister's ailing cats, so he wouldn't be able to leave leafy Chestnut Hill until Sunday morning. He said he'd make it up there by 11:30.

So okay.

That would work.

Just before eleven, as I was getting into the shower, the Baron called. He was occupied "taking care of two households" or something, and so he'd be there around 12:30.


I took a shower, shaved, and got dressed. The night before, I had made a nice fool with some peaches I picked up while grocery shopping, and thought that the Baron and I could enjoy them before heading off.

To make a long story short, the Baron turned into the driveway at 2:15. I decided to Just Let Go. We ate our fool (quotha the Baron: "Oh. Dairy. I hope that doesn't disagree with me"), bid adieu to my father, and set off.

Naturally, as I feared, at that time of day traffic was horrendous. And we caught a lot of it. Even taking the back way through my old neighborhood in Jersey City, we didn't manage to make it through the Holland Tunnel until 5:30. Now, according to the notice I saw posted outside St. Lukes' a week or so ago, Gay Pride Evensong was at 6 p.m. To my mind, that meant getting there aroudn 5:45 to get a good seat, get settled in the pew, quiet the mind. We finally managed to find parking on West 20th Street and 10th Avenue and started walking towards the fray. The Baron mentioned St. Luke's, and I said, "Yeah, well I think that train has already left the station. But they'll be having it again next year." At this point, it was about five minutes before six. "Oh, so we'll be a little late. We got stuck in traffic."

One of my little pecadillos: I don't walk into church late. I turn around and go home and come back next week. Church is not a lecture or a meeting or a concert. Church is church. It's sacred and holy. Time spent in the presence of the Almighty.

As we worked our way south on 8th Avenue, the "conversation" went something like this:

The Baron: All these people in the way! I'll need to stop at the Starbucks at 10th and Hudson to use the bathroom.

Me: We're late. So late that the service will be over by the time we get there.

The Baron: So we'll just stand at the back or something.

Me: I'm not going to go in late.

At 6:30, we were standing on the northeast corner of Christopher and Hudson. The tail end of the Pride March was still coming down Christopher Street. (Yay Fuze Water! Yay!) The vision in my head was St. Lukes, full of people listening to the choir sing Phos Hilarion, when suddenly the big doors at the back creak open to reveal me and the Baron, every head turns...

"Let's just head to the Dugout," I said. But the Baron would hear none of it. He explained to a handome young police officer that we were trying to get to church, and the guy took pity on us, allowing us to crawl under the barricades and cross Christopher Street. We scrambled up the steps, opened the doors, and saw the procession, in clouds of incense, banners waving, at the back of the church. The usher welcomed us and handed us leaflets, and after the procession headed towards the altar, another usher helped us find seats.

Okay. So there I was, in the pew, and all that we had missed was singing the processsional hymn ("Lift High The Cross," of course, a favorite at St. Luke's.)

Okay. Let it go. Let it all go.

Besides being Gay Pride Sunday in New York City, yesterday was also, liturgically speaking, the Feast of the Birth of St. John The Baptist.

That helped. I tried to subsume my anger at the Baron in the pew next to me by considering how he was like John the Baptist. First, there's the wardrobe issues. Not quite camel skins, but the Baron prides himself on not being fashion forward. And there's the prophetic quality...

Years ago, when the Baron and I were working to get ACT UP/Philadelphia off the ground in the late Eighties, we were wheatpasting posters for an upcoming demonstration outside of the 12th Street Gym in the heart of Philadelphia's so-called "Gayborhood." A kid came out of the 12th Street Gym and said, "Uh... Guys? I ummm... totally support what you're doing, but uh... my boss, the guy who runs the gym, he's just gonna tell me to come out here and take down your posters as soon as he sees them. So could you do me a big favor and not do it out here in front of the gym?"

(A little background. The 12th Street Gym was and is the gay gym in Philadelphia. Interestingly, the owner of that gym was fairly notorious for working against the interests of the gay community. In years to come, he revoked the memberships of people who had "the AIDS" because he didn't want them in "his gym," and just recently was forced to sell his majority interest in the place to his longtime and long-suffering general manager when it was revealed that he was pumping the fortune he made from all those gay dollars into the coffers of the re-election committee of arch-homophobe Rick Santorum. No shit. You can look any of this up. Only in Philadelphia, but that's another rant.)

So, back on the street with a bucket of wheatpaste, the Baron turns to the kid from the gym and says, in pleasant, measured tones, "Huh. Really. Interesting. Well thanks for your support, and I hope to see you at the demonstration. Now, when your boss tells you to take down these posters, please tell him that psychotic self-hating closet case that if they're removed, I'm going to wheatpaste posters with his picture on every lamppost in this great city of ours telling the world that he's a big slimy cock sucking butt fucking fag. Okay?"

The kid from the gym thought a minute, then gave a little smile, and went back inside.

Long after all the other posters for that ACT UP demonstration had been carted away by the Department of Sanitation, that poster still hung on the lamppost outside of the 12th Street Gym until it was erased by the wind and weather.

See what I mean about that prophetic quality of the Baron's?

The music was beautiful, the preaching was great, and the Parish Social Life Committee put out a delightful spread in the garden afterwards. The Baron and I filled our plates and sat in the playground talking to a parishoner while the raucous mob swirled about the gates.

It turned out that the the actual time of Evensong was 6:30. No idea what the 6:00 notice I saw came from. Perhaps St. Luke's was giving an indulgent nod to "gay time."

The light faded, and I suggested that we head over to the river to get a good position for fireworks. And whaddya know! There, right outside of the Richard Meier towers on Perry Street was a great place to sit. We asked another helpful officer who told us that the fireworks were scheduled for 9:30. Woo-hoo! I enjoyed watching the passing crowd and making eyes at the occasional cute boy. And one or two made eyes at me. Too bad for them! Not this year! Maybe next year. Maybe.

I reflected on Prides of Yore.

Gay Pride used to mean so much to me. It was my Christmas, Easter, and Fourth of July. I would take the next day off work. I never watched the March. I was always marching. First with the Anti-Violence Project, then with ACT UP, and once with Hillary Clinton. And Pride Day was, in my experience, the worst day of the year to have a boyfriend. I generally would end the day by going to the dance on the piers and falling in love. You haven't lived till you've been part of an ACT UP contingent several thousand strong, chanting, fists in the air, but slowing down as the March turned off 5th Avenue at Washington Square to wave and blow kisses and wish "Happy Birthday" to Larry Kramer who would be watching from his balcony.

But now, Pride is for the kids.

Well that's not quite it. I am my own Pride Parade. Although I'm hard pressed to imagine what extremes I would have to go to to be In Your Face enough to get something like a rise out of someone, even in quiet little Doylestown, Pennsylvania. We're here, we're queer, and they, of course, are used to it.

So the time was now 9:45, and there had been no fireworks.

The Baron grew impatient. Impatient for what exactly, I'm not sure. He asked another cop when they were scheduled for and heard 10:30.

10:30? Are you sure? I don't remember the fireworks being that late. But it's only forty-five minutes, and it's a beautiful night.

But the Baron wanted to walk around.

I had a sinking feeling, but I fought it. I could do with a latté.

We left our perch and headed back to Hudson, where I stopped into Starbucks. Then, we headed up Hudson to 8th Avenue.

Crossing 14th Street was like going to a different city.

Much has been made of the cancelation of PrideFest. In years past, at the end of the March, there were vendors selling kabobs and smoothies and such along Greenwich Street as well as port-o-johns set up. This year, the organizers decided that instead of the Village, which isn't really gay any more, the place to have it would be in Chelsea. All the relevant community boards and local politicos were down with the idea, including out lesbian and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who represents Chelsea and the West Village in the City Council. And Mayor Mike Bloomberg didn't give permission for it to happen.

Well guess what. I think this has everything to do with race.

Folks are fond of saying that the West Village is no longer gay, that gay has moved up to Chelsea, and that now, Chelsea is the gay neighborhood in NYC.

On Friday and Saturday nights, however, Christopher Street is teeming with the gays. Many more gays, in fact, than you're likely to see percentage-wise fifteen blocks north in Chelsea. But the gays on Christopher Street, of course, are Black and Latino/a teenagers. And those are the folks that Pride is for. Even back in my personal heyday of I Love Pride, the majority of out loud proud gays I knew viewed it at best as an opportunity to get laid and at worst as reason to flee the city for Fire Island or Upstate like aristocrats stuffed into carriages leaving Paris after the storming of the Bastille.

And those were the gays that PrideFest was "for," too. It was all the lone kabob vendor at 10th and Hudson could do to keep up with demand, and at the normally sedate lesbian owned and operated restaurant Hudson Street, a crowd quickly gathered around the music being pumped out onto the street.

So what caused the fair-minded Mayor Mike "Does Nothing Wrong Ever" Bloomberg to slight the gays by denying their request to move PrideFest up to Chelsea? I think he saw the move for what it was.

Alas, this resulted in no PrideFest this year. And that meant, among other things, no port-o-johns. So I don't doubt that the highways and by-ways of the West Village were drenched in gallons of Official Pride Urine.

So the Baron and I walked up 8th Avenue, surrounded by... basically white people. Gay white people, with jobs and such, most of whom had eschewed their shares in the Pines because they thought, "I bet I'll get laid!"

A crowd was gathered outside of Pinkberry. This mystifies me. What the hell? I remember years ago when a similar crowd was gathered outside Tasty-Di-Lite, also on 8th Avenue. I happened in and got myself a dish. Eeeeeeesh! It was about as satisfying as packing peanuts. Only less so. Because it's served with all the trappings of ice cream, so you're sort of expecting ice cream. I'm guessing only in Chelsea, a place on the planet where a double digit percentage of the inhabitants have not had a single gram of fat pass their lips in a decade or more, would that pass as "a treat." And I bet there's much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth at Tasty-Di-Lite. "Oh the injustice of it all! Pinkberry's crappy flavorless disappointing fat free dessert is clearly inferior to our crappy flavorless disappointing fat free dessert! Why have our customers abandoned us in favor of Pinkberry! Thou art cruel and fickle, New York City!"

But who am I to judge trendy frozen desserts? I'm an old guy. I was older than the oldest of the throng outside Pinkberry by probably a decade. And that's how it is with popular culture. The fact that I was addicted to Haagen-Daz's Honey ice cream before I was old enough to drive and had to ride my ten-speed down to the Lumberville Store to get my fix YEARS BEFORE YOU EVEN HEARD OF HAAGEN-DAZ doesn't matter. Ditto for the fact that I did a backflip off the stage when Henry Rollins and Black Flag played at an (then) abandoned bank on South Street in 1984 or so. Ditto the fact that Madonna herself once told me I was a great dancer when I met her at the Limelight way back when. Ditto the fact that I was getting my clothes out of thriftshops back when my only competition were the poor and downtrodden and members of the Talking Heads.

That's how it is with Popular Culture. You have no laurels to rest on. It doesn't matter that my deciding to emulate clothes worn by Steve Austin and Starsky & Hutch this summer pre-dated the announcement that Xanadu on Broadway has brought rollerdisco-esque fashions onto the runway. I can still participate in popular culture. I just don't get a vote. To you, it's just another birthday--and it's debatable exactly how many candles are on your cake at that birthday--but after you blow out those candles, you'll never be a taste maker again, only a taster. And if you try to make the case to some kid about why that shouldn't be the case and trot out your credentials, they'll look at you indulgently and tune you out and then hustle down to Pinkberry for a crappy flavorless disappointing fat free dessert.

My plan was that we would walk north until 10:15, then start to head south and west, which should have us at the water by the time the fireworks were reportedly scheduled to start at 10:30. At 10 20, we heard the show start. We were at 8th and 16th. I headed west, going as fast as I could manage. The buildings were tall enough to block my view until I got to 10th Avenue. At that point, the Highline blocked the view.

"Damn that Highline anyway! Why don't they tear that thing down?"

I emerged from underneath the Highline and there it was: the Pride Day Fireworks Display.

But my initial "Oooooooh" had barely left my lips when the ghostly smoke hung in the sky not supplanted by another explosive display and an eerie silence hung in the air.

"That's it? That's all we get?"

I looked at my watch. It was 10:30.

Somehow I remember the display going on longer than ten minutes. And, of course, I would rather have been able to see and enjoy it, rather than hustling down sixteenth street... say, perched outside of the Richard Meier Towers at Perry Street, looking over my shoulder to see the reflections of the fireworks play off the glass cladding.

"Well," offered the Baron, "I hear they have a great fireworks display in Doylestown."

Much to my credit, I didn't slug the Baron. Instead, I turned to him and said, "We're going home now."

And so we did.


No regrets. It was a good day. Not the good day I envisioned, but a good day nonetheless. And there will be more fun to be had a year from now. When I'll be getting An Early Start on the day.

And sometime soon, the Baron and I will sit down and have a little talk. Although knowing the Baron and I, it will be a seemingly endless verbal marathon.

Pride NYC 2007

Let me get this off my chest. In this world, it doesn't pay to be a nice guy. Unfortunately, I seem to believe that's the way to be. And it never fails to get my goat when my good nature is taken advantage of.

So there.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Will Somebody Please Buy This For Me?

Holy crap!

Among the dozens of palm cards with which I was proferred at Folsom Street East last week was an invite to Baña. Which looks amazing. Like, NYC Nightlife meets Moscow's Sandunovsky Banya.

Alas, I seem to have missed the June 22nd party advertised on the website and the palm card I received, but I sent them email and I hope to be able to make the next one. I love the idea of the "D-List Hunk" attending to my every need in the lockerroom. (Come to think of it, I just like the idea of a D-List Hunk period.

By no small coincidence, at Folsom Street East, I managed to assemble something to wear that was both water friendly and fetish-y, so I won't even have to think about what to wear. Whenever the next Baña rolls around, I'm ready.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Annual July Dessert/SM Extravaganza!

It's upon us again!

In two weeks, I'll be enjoying DogTopper and JPZapper's barbeque and dungeoun party.

And I'm obsessing about making the Ultimate Dessert again this year.

Last year, it was all about my tarts with lemon-cream filling topped with lemon curd.

This year, the flavors I'm thinking of combining are peach, ginger, and vanilla.

(Heh heh. Vanilla at a dungeon party. Cool.)

Man of Discipline may or may not be my guest this year. He'll be up at the Gay Campground In Northeastern Pennsylvania that weekend (not that gay campground, the other one), and might be able to shoot down for the festivities.

And I'll get to whip him! Yay! JPZapper and DogTopper have a gi-normous dungeon space, so possibly I'll be able to break out my long whips. Man of Discipline is so beyond training wheels.

So what do you all think about peaches-vanilla-ginger? Am I making any mouths water out there?

Red Is The Color Of Me

Yesterday, the first full day of summer, I met up with UnFortunate at the New Jersey Transit Train Station in Long Branch and we headed up the coast to Sandy Hook, looking forward to a day of nudidity at Gunnison Beach, apparently the largest nude beach on the Atlantic Seabord.

The last time UnFortunate and I had a beach day at Gunnison, it was like a four hour stay at a Soviet Gulag. When we arrived in the morning, it was a beautiful day for the beach. Then the sun went in. Then the temperature dropped twenty degrees. Then the wind came up, so that every gust was literally sandblasting us. Cold and shivering and smarting from the stinging sand-storm, we headed for my car and called it a day.

Yesterday again started out as a beautiful beach day. But largely stayed that way, sunny and warm. The weather report said "breezy," and that should have been a warning, but there we were, again getting an unexpected dermabrasion treatment, punctuating our conversation with "Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Oh! Ow. Ow." now and then.

The beach was fairly sparse. And it seems that the piping plover have decided to do their nesting on the part of Gunnison that was always the "gay part" of the nude beach. Thus, a high school student in a lawn chair was posted at the southeast end of the beach letting none of the naked people trespass where they might disturb the piping plover. ("So Meghan, do you have a job lined up for the summer before you go to college?" "Uhh... Yeah I do, Uncle Al. I'm... um... working doing wildlife conservation?")

Except for a trio of callow youths, UnFortunate and I were the only homos on the beach. That we spotted everywhere. And everyone else seemed to have those windscreen things, and I am officially In The Market for one. Hopefully I can find an orange one.

The water was perfect! It was cold, but not freezing. Just really invigorating. And because the Atlantic isn't warm yet, I didn't have to worry about jellyfish.

We spent a good four hours at Gunnison before we decided we couldn't take the dermabrasion anymore ("I bet I lost two pounds in epidermis!") and headed down the coast, stopping for burgers and dogs and fudge. I dropped UnFortunate off at the Long Branch train station and headed for home.

It was during the drive home that I noticed that Something Was Wrong. My butt was feeling especially tender.

Now, when someone commented to me recently that I'm something of an anachronism in that I still smoke, I replied that what really made me feel anachronistic was eschewing sunblock. Never touch the stuff. I still harbor quaint notions that a "healthy" tan is fetching, and try for one every summer. I usually tan well. In the past, I've stopped by a tanning place a few times during the winter to keep a base coat going, but due to my dire financial straits, I haven't this past winter.

By the time I got home, I was definitely feeling the chills. I stripped int he bathroom and immediately saw the problem. My arms, back, chest, shoulders, back, and face got some nice color. As did my thighs. But the area between my belly button and my knees is lobster red. It's been many months since they've seen sunlight, and don't seem to have taken to it well. My butt, in particular, looks like I bottomed in a pretty heavy spanking scene. And it feels that way, too. Only moreso.

Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow! Ow. Ow! Ow! Ow.

A good night's sleep has me feeling a lot better, but my but is still pretty sting-y and tender.

If anyone gives me a playful swat on the fanny tomorrow when I'm up in NYC enjoying Pride with the Baron, I may retaliate with a left hook.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Future Is Bright

I am SO going to Grad School.

Today, I headed out at noon to check out some grad schools. I visited Stevens Institute of Technology in Beautiful Downtown Hoboken then went across--actually under--the Hudson to drop in on an Open House hosted by NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies. My interest, of course, are their respective Construction Management programs. A while ago, I went down and spent a morning at Drexel University in Philadelphia. (In fact, my application to go there is pending.) I had also hoped to stop in on the New Jersey Institute of Technology, but I ran out of time.

(And I'm out of patience with dropping in links to the websites of all those schools. What's up with that? Like you couldn't find them in the unlikely event that you wanted to go there? Just mindlessly following blogging protocol, I guess.)

First off, there is no substitute for being there.

I went to the wee little Catholic liberal arts institution of higher learning in Reading, Pennsylvania for my undergrad (I can call it that now since I'm getting geared up for grad, right?) because going up the drive when my father and I visited all those years ago I just got a kind of frisson. And that gut feeling was proven by the experience of going there.

First stop was Stevens.

Up River Road, crossing the Delaware at Frenchtown, 513 to I-78 to the NJ Turnpike Extension to Exit 15C. I wound my wending way through Jersey City, going right through the old neighborhood, and waving to cubby j. sherwood when I went right by the condo de cubby. Jersey Avenue took me to the Fair City of Hoboken, which shares the distinction with Wilton Manners and West Hollywood of being a city completely surrounded by another city.

So, Hoboken is a rip! Why didn't I live there?

(Oh. Right. I couldn't afford it.)

You make a left onto Frank Sinatra Street and then a right onto Frank Sinatra Avenue and a left onto Frank Sinatra Boulevard and Stevens Institute of Technology is right there by Frank Sinatra Waterfront Park. There was a parking place waiting for me right out front of where I wanted to be! Does that always happen in Hoboken?

I met with the guy who's the head of the department and we had a decent back and forth. I definitely saw and heard nothing to dissuade me. Because CM is run out of their engineering school, the emphasis is on materials, technology, cost estimation... verrrrry nuts-and-boltsy. And I eat that stuff up with a spoon.

After I finished up my meeting, I walked down to the Frank Sinatra Memorial Little League Field to get a hamburger for lunch from the concession stand. A commemorative plaque informed me that everybody on the City Council and all the folks in charge of the Hoboken Little League seem to be of italian descent. What's more, they all seem to have those really nasty sounding italian names, like "Sfoggliagazze." (That probably happened when their forbears went through Ellis Island. The helpful folks who worked there would amuse themselves by giving made-up names to the huddled masses. My friend Lou's grandmother's family name was "Bevelaqua," but those scamps at Ellis Island decided that "Scaffitti" would be more fun, and Scaffitti was what went on the immigration papers. "Bevelaqua" means "Drink-Water" in italian. "Scaffitti" means nothing in italian.)

One of the most impressive things about Stevens is the location, looking across the Hudson to Manhattan. Pretty breathtaking.

I found my way to the Holland Tunnel and after about twenty minutes, found a place to park in the West Village. Heading up Eighth Avenue, I passed this... this... this man. One of those They Walk Among Us guys. Amazing body, beautiful gut, deep dark tan, his body and face covered with a pelt of golden blond hair. Apparently, he was taking his dog for a walk. (I didn't look at the dog. It might have been a cat. Or a capaybara. Or a juvenile yetti.) He was shirtless, wearing mirrored sunglasses, cargo shorts, and boots. Spectacular. I gave him an appreciative smile, and he gave me a nod of acknowledgement. Thanks for that, God! After a stop at Starbucks, I hopped on the subway, taking the C train up to Times Square.


I have been away a long time.

Riding the subway, something I used to do every day of my life, had such the feeling of novelty about it. Like a Nile cruise. Y'know what I miss? Subway babies! You see them all the time. These bright, attentive, fascinated-by-the-whole-thing babies, sitting on their mothers' laps, smiling and laughing. Why is it that all babies here in the Howling Wilderness of Pennsylvania spend their time in public screaming, crying, shrieking, running around heedlessly, whining, throwing whatever they can get their sticky little fingers on, and demanding high sugar treats? Every baby I see here in the Howling Wilderness leaves me grateful that being a homo has probably meant that I dodged that bullet. But with subway babies, there I am making faces and playing peek-a-boo and gushing to mom about how precious her little one is.

I got off the train at 42nd Street, and decided to walk through the tunnel connecting the 8th Avenue line with the 7th Avenue line. Many years ago, I christened this passage "The Corridor of Sorrows." Not only is it a seemingly endless subterranean tract, but way back when (at least longer than I've been in NYC), there's this art installation: these signs attached to the girders in the ceiling. You only see them as you're walking east. They read like a Burma Shave ad, spaced every twenty or thirty feet or so.

To with:







When I first moved to NYC and was working in Midtown, I started out taking the L Train to 8th Ave, then the A to 42nd Street, then I'd walk through that very passage way on my way to my soul-crushing office job. I had to change my route, walking all the way to Astor Place to catch the N or the R. It was just too much.

So NYU had their Open House at the fabulous Marriott Marquis hotel! The Marriott Marquis sports a revolving cocktail lounge on the top floors. Make sure you go there before you die. It's... well... it's a revolving cocktail lounge! It's a big round room , and the outside twenty feet or so slowly turn. After about an hour, you've taken in a 360° view of Manhattan without changing your seat. When I was last up there, it hadn't been renovated since the 1970s, so it was verrrrry Hart To Hart. Sadly, the interior wasn't landmarked before it was updated. The Open House, however, was only on the fourth floor.


You gotta hand it to NYU. They know how to market. My experiences with the rival schools of Drexel and Stevens compare to NYU are like a 4 a.m. infomercial going up against Spiderman. NYU put on a show. They dazzled! They wowed!

Their program has some significant differences from the other schools. You get the technical stuff, though perhaps with not quite the depth. Possibly, it prepares you to supervise cost estimating rather than estimating costs. It seems to be akin to an MBA with a concentration in Construction Management, with courses in Accounting, Law, Real Estate, and Negotiation that the other schools don't offer. Construction Management at NYU is part of their Real Estate Institute. It's so NYC. And I mean that in a good way.

Did you know that over the next ten years, there are $ 58 Billion in construction projects planned? From the Atlantic Yards to the Far West Side to various stadia going up. Construction Managers will have exactly no problem whatsoever finding work. And real estate development in New York City is already rife with NYU grads, apparently eager to give a helping hand to fellow alum. And get this? Have you ever seen the big fat NYU catalog of non-credit courses that NYU puts out? Well if I were enrolled in NYU's Construction Management program, I could take any of them for free. (Well, not exactly "for free," since I'd be paying $1,260-a-credit.

Another NYU Fun Fact is that as part of the application, they require a "Personal Statement." As explained, this is our "opportunity to speak directly to the admissions committee." And, they'll be checking up on our writing skills.

Get that? It's like writing college admissions essays!!!

How quaint!

Heh. Checking up on our "writing skills." Six months ago, I wrote a grant proposal that brought in $ 400,000. I think I might not have a lot to worry about then.

Anyway, despite the impressive show that NYU put on, it's not clinched that I'm going there. I liked Drexel, and I liked Stevens. I'll apply to all of them, see what each school is willing to do in terms of financial aid, and factor in things like location and the commute it would involve,


"Hi. I'm a Construction Manager. I have a Master's Degree."

I am SO going to grad school.

Election 2008: Subway Series?

This is fascinating!

Mike Bloomberg has left the Republican Party. But, he hasn't joined the Democratic Party. He's officially Independent of both.

And the analysis seems to be that despite his protestations to the contrary, he's gearing up for a run for President.


Longtime readers of SingleTails may recall that politically speaking, I call myself a conservative. When I lived in NYC, I didn't have a hard time thinking of myself as a Republican. But that's because being a Democrat in NYC is pretty much like being a Communist anywhere else in the Globe. The Rockefeller Republicans I met and work with always seemed to me to have the right idea. In the battle between individual liberty and interventionist government, they came down on the side of every American's right to the idiosyncratic approach to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Living in the City during the events of September 11, 2001 got me on board with a more muscular foreign policy for the country. Because of the thinking of this guy and the firmly held opinions of a certain kinkster who also happened to be part of the weapons inspection team that was sent in, I supported going into Iraq to take out those weapons of mass destruction.

But so much has changed, huh?

About the time that U.S. casualties in Iraq topped 3,000, I decided that I could never, ever again in my life vote Republican. Not even for dog catcher. Or Plumstead Township Tax Collector or whatever. I've voted in every election--even those wacky off-year elections--since my eighteenth birthday, and it's always been a split ticket. But for the rest of my life, I vowed never to support the party that knowingly lied to me, uselessly threw away thousands of lives of men and women in the armed forces, and bankrupted the country.

Which made me think of Mike Bloomberg.

Would this mean that if I had to vote in an election which was a repeat of the 2001 NYC Mayoral match-up between Mike Bloomberg and Mark Green (a man I despise with every fiber of my being), that I'd be voting for that soulless reptile? Or would I just vote "None Of The Above?"

Well, Mike Bloomberg just relieved me of that burden.

I think, Election 2008-wise, I'm still a Bill Richardson guy. But I could easily be tugged into the Bloomberg for President camp.

But wait a minute...

Clinton, Giuliani, Bloomberg... American goes to the polls in November, 2008, and those are the choices?

Like it couldn't happen?

What would that be like?

America hates New York City. You were all willing to let go of that for a little while when the World Trade Center towers came down, but just for a little while. In any considered political arrangement, New York would be a free city, like Danzig in the early 20th Century. NYC is so not America. And America knows this.

So what would it be like having the election for President of That Other Country Across The Hudson be a race between three people associated with Gotham?

Back in 2000, when the we were heading towards a match-up of the Yankees and the Mets in the World Series, I was ecstatic. But I remember going on and on about it in a gay-baseball chat room on AOL, being such a tantalizing match-up, signal event in baseball history and all that, and a guy from Arizona chimed in with, "Yeah, but what the hell is the rest of the country supposed to do during October?"

Uh huh.

After the Civil War, we put Grant in the White House. After the Spanish American War, we put Teddy Roosevelt in the White House. After World War II, we made Eisenhower President. So it seems almost only fitting that after the national cataclysm that was September 11, 2001, we give the job to a New Yorker. The question is to which New Yorker.

How about the carpet bagger who lives up in Westchester? Or the guy who has drawn the ire of the firefighters for his actions and decisions before and after the attacks?

Nah and Nah.

But the thoughtful, shrewd, visionary man who was compelled to step up to the plate by his love for the city and whose leadership has been unparalleled?

But... American says what?

Will the background issues dredged up in attack ads be all about development of the Far West Side and allocation of HOPWA funds and getting foreign diplomats to pay parking tickets? ("This is Silvio Diaz. Along with his neighbors, he turned a garbage strewn vacant lot into a beautiful garden where neighborhood children could play. Until This Man took that garden away from the community and gave it to a greedy developer to build luxury condos. Who will Silvio Diaz support for President? Who will you?") Will people in Omaha need to familiarize themselves with the people and neighborhoods of the Five Boroughs in order to make an informed decision sixteen months from now? ("When he opened up a homeless shelter in Cobble Hill to punish Councilman DiBrienza and the Community Board for opposing him on a land use issue... well that tells you all you need to know about the man.")


I love New York.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

'T'is A Gift To Be Simple

Simple Pleasures.

Those little incidental things that bring you joy. Not "joy" as in "jump for...", but just close your eyes, take a deep breath, and smile. That quiet and profound joy.

What are yours? What are those things that do it for you?

Here are a sampling of mine...

• Soaking In A Hot Tub
• Pho
That lovely, brothy vietnamese beef stew
• The Sunday New York Times
• A Day At The Beach
(This Friday! Woo-hoooo!)
• Cooking For Someone And Having Them Rave About It
• A Good Cigar
• Splitting Firewood
• Raw Oysters
• Walking Down The Street Holding Hands With A Handsome Man
• Compline
• Driving A Long Distance

And to that, I guess I'd add what I was doing just now:

• Sitting Out On The Screened In Porch During A Thunderstorm

So again, what are yours? Feel free to click on "Comments" and let me know.

And again, we're not looking for "Waking Up In A Suite At The Hotel Plaza Athenée In Paris With A Knock On The Door Announcing That Your Chocolat Chaud and Petit Pain Have Arrived" kind of thing. But more those small things.

Thunderstorm outside sounds like it's picking up again.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Not This Year, I Have A Headache

Okay. This is an interesting development.

Several times this weekend, a thought crossed my mind unbidden: I'm not going to have sex any more. When I was hanging with UnFortunate at Folsom Street East yesterday, I said it outloud.

Quoth UnFortunate, "Say what?"

But yeah.

And it's weird.

I just feel like I've been offered something that previously I thought was great, but now, not so much. Like, "Hey! Today you can eat ice cream for breakfast, cherry pie for lunch, and fudge for dinner!"

Even yesterday on West 28th Street, stunning examples of masculine pulchritude everywhere I looked, looking but not touching did me just fine.

Luckily (!), no one has been knocking on my door lately. But I honestly think that if that were the case, they'd be chasing me around the proverbial sofa like on a '70s sitcom. I am seriously not interested in getting it on.

Now of course, me being me, I've been mulling and thinking and plumbing the depths of this existential conundrum.

My first line of the inquiry was that it had something to do with my job situation. Or the lack thereof. Nothing quite kills a boner like lack of financial security. Especially when you're in your forties.

But maybe not.

There is the whole New Years' Resolution thing. That 2007 would the Year Without Love. I've written before about how eerily easy it was to let go of that. O that quitting smoking was this easy. And although Romance was the only item I intended to jettison, it seems that Gettin' It On went with it.

But that shouldn't be a surprise.

I've always found sex without love to be deeply unsatisfying. And of course I'm not talking about love in the sense of "let's spend the next decade or so sitting on the sofa eating take-out chinese bickering about what to watch on Pay-Per-View." But just that sense of really liking the guy, feeling that he likes me, and having my imagination catch fire. That's not impossible to sustain. At least not for more than an evening.

Too, I've grown awfully comfortable with my own company. The idea of getting in my Jeep, driving all the way up to NYC to spend an evening standing on the roof of the Eagle Spiegel hoping for something to happen... That's easily trumped by sitting on my porch enjoying a cigar and watching the fireflies. And of course, I'm not missing the rejection and heartbreak.

Now, I hope I'm not coming off as despairing or downtrodden about this.

Because i sure ain't.

I stand in the same place I've always stood. If the right man comes along, I'm ready for him. A man I can have fun with. All kinds of fun. But he doesn't have to be in a rush. I'm enjoying myself too much to rush into anything.

SM At The Movies

Dodgeball! Who'd'a thunk?

If you, like me, are a fan of Ben Stiller's oeuvre, don't miss Dodgeball.

And as an extra added treat, there's a brief treat when a mix-up when Vince Vaughn's team has to take the dodgeball... uhhh... field? court? arena? not in their uniforms, but in SM gear.

Even though it's done for laughs, they all look pretty good. ("Good throw by that submissive!" says the announcer.)

I don't know...

I liked it.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Folsom Street East

My day started off with brunch at the Dish in Chelsea with UnFortunate. My first suggestion was breakfast sandwiches at Starbucks, but UnFortunate cares a lot about coffee, and is not a fan of Starbucks. (At the Dish, he had an iced tea.) It was great, as always, spending time with him. But during our Starbucks conversation, I had a revelation…

Just why is it that I love Starbucks so much?

After all, I’m not a coffee drinker. I’m a tea drinker. Much to my regret, it’s a coffee drinkers world, I just get to live in it. So what draws me to Starbucks?

Sitting there with UnFortunate, it dawned on me. So much so that I all but pounded my fist on the table and shouted “Eureka!” Starbucks, you see, is the New Gay.

Let me explain.

Remember what it used to be like to be gay? Remember when people used to talk about “the Gay Community” and you had a sense that the term meant something? There was the big Coming Out thing. And you went to a gay bar for the first time and all of a sudden you didn’t feel alone any more; there was this whole crowd of people just like you. And then you went to your first gay pride parade, and there was the whole thrill of being part of all those people from all walks of life and they were all Gay Gay Gay like you! And if you thought about it, you were everywhere all over the world.

But now, Gay is the new Left Handed.

No. Big. Deal.

We’re here, we’re queer, and everybody is used to it. “Gay” just doesn’t provide any additional information any more. Does that mean you like Barbra Streisand? Is Ultimate Fighting gay? (I know a lot more gays who like Ultimate Fighting than I do gays who like Barbra Streisand.) Yeah yeah yeah. There’s still plenty of ‘phobes out there in the world, but I think that screechyness in their voices indicates that even they know they’re on the losing side.

But heck! I miss that Gay stuff!

But now, I have Starbucks. Because Starbucks is the New Gay.

Think about it!

Once I was a member of Queer Nation, and now I am a citizen of the Starbucks Nation. I can’t run around wearing a pink triangle pin anymore, but I can walk into any Starbucks in the world and order my iced quad venti two pumps vanilla light ice latté and they’ll recognize me as being one of The Tribe.

And Starbucks has become the pole star in the firmament just like Gay once was. Everybody has an opinion on Starbucks. Once someone tells you where they stand on the Starbucks issue, you know who you’re dealing with. Just like it used to be with Gay. You had the gays that went all overboard with Gay. You had the gays who were all about “just because I like guys doesn’t mean I have to be all gay.” You had gays that insisted on being gay in their own alternative way (just like that guy you know who insists on only going to the little independent coffee house place and never to Starbucks).

So now it all makes sense.

After brunch, UnFortunate and I headed over to West 28th Street to get in on the festivities. But Yikes! It was closing in on four o’clock. That’s when I was due to start my shift selling water with the New York boys of Leather. I headed to the table and checked in with Christophe, who I was sharing my shift with. The boys were out in force, so there was no immediate need for me. I got permission to wander about a bit and take in the whole awesome spectacle of Folsom Street East.

I have been away a long time. Going on four years now. Before, events like this felt like a homecoming, a reconnection. Now, this time around, it was all just disconcerting, as though I kept getting mistaken for someone. Who was that guy? What was he like?

Damned if I know.

I’ve talked before about feeling disconnected from my leather self. Now, that leather self seems all but unrecognizable to me.

Now, I still like to whip men. I still harbor notions about masculinity, and the intimacy that only two warriors are cabable of. I still wear boots just about everywhere except the beach.

I don’t feel this whole thing as a loss. So maybe not disoriented, but reoriented. It’s not the essence that feels foreign, just the trappings. The clubs and the bars and the Old Guard and the New Jack and the dungeons and the rules and the codes and the whole “brotherhood” thing. ¡Basta!

So it all got to feel a bit overwhelming. I was ready to go sell water with the New York boys of Leather. It would feel good to have a table between me and the hoi polloi.

O that boy energy!

The boys looked great. I was warmly greeted, proud associate member that I am.

It was a beautiful day. Hot and clear and humid but not sticky. And every once in a while, a sweet breeze came off the river. And it was a good day for selling water. At two dollars a pop, it was flying.

Years ago, in that other life I lead, I sold water at Folsom Street East. I had a vivid recollection of the aching misery of having to plunge my arms into a garbage can filled with ice water to get out the bottles.

Thus, I came prepared!

The boys had set up a tent kinda thing behind their table. (Brilliant!) I stepped inside, and changed into my Water Selling Outfit, consisting of my Keane’s, a one piece body suit (sleeveless, just covering the thighs), and, the elbow length gloves that I have, made for ice fishing or something. They’re waterproof, and good for temperatures below freezing. Not only did I look pretty fetching, but fishing the bottles out of the ice water was no problem whatsoever.

So that became my job. Perfect. I could hang with the boys, and just lose myself in the work at hand. And there, across the table, was the panoply of New York City leather scene. Safely across the table.

And guess who was there: Cranberry Juice Guy! A couple of years ago at MAL, he emerged from the crowd in the lobby of the Washington Plaza Hotel and introduced himself as a faithful reader of SingleTails. To show his gratitude, he gave me drink tickets for cranberry juice. (Being a faithful reader, he knew that this was my preference.) Running into Cranberry Guy was like getting a Pulitzer. In the cosmos of the blogosphere, SingleTails is a small, dim star way off on the edge. But when Cranberry Juice Guy casts his proverbial eyes heavenwards, there’s just one star he’s looking for.

The time flew. Before too long, we had sold our last case of water. I changed back into my Goin’ To Folsom Street East clothes. I fired up a cigar and watched the men.

Six o’clock rolled around pretty quickly. It was time for me to say goodbye. I had to get back to Bucks County and get a Father’s Day Dinner on the table.

Cigar in hand, I made for the exit, walked east to Eighth Avenue, then south, down to the West Village where I parked.

A beautiful day in New York City.

I may not be sure just who I am, but I know where my home is. Today, it was on West 28th Street.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I Am Joe Girardi


The Ball Breakers played the Dragons and the Fusion today at Cunningham Park in Queens.

Our first game was scheduled for 2 p.m. Since it was in Queens (not a borough with which I'm familiar, I gave myself plenty of extra time, leaving the house at 10:30 a.m. Instead of going with my gut (I-78 to the Holland Tunnel, West Side Highway to the FDR, Brooklyn Bridge to the BQE, BQE to the LIE, and right to Cunningham Park), I decided to see what Google Maps had to offer.


I-78 to I-95/Jersey Turnpike North to the George Washington Bridge, Cross Bronx to the Clearview, was the Google Maps suggestion.

What a disaster.

Getting to the George Washington was awful. For eight miles it was a total parking lot and took me over an hour. I arrived at Cunningham Park at 1:58 p.m., just as we were getting ready to take the field. Thus, I wasn't on the roster for the first game.

Hate that!

The Ball Breakers managed to beat the Dragons without me. (That was bittersweet.)

Our second game wasn't until 5 p.m. As planned, we had a barbeque in the interim, with Anthony bringing his grill and fixin some burgers and franks. I love hot dogs. While we lounged and dined, it was announced that I'd be catching for the second game against the Fusion. Yes! While I was up there--or rather down there--squatting behind the plate, I thought, "I am Joe Girardi!"

Okay. Not that I have The Most Amazing Ass God Ever Gave To A Mortal Man like Joe Girardi possesses, and not that I could at all compete with him in terms of skill, Jorge Posada was the catcher for the Yankees, and Joe was worked into the game to give Posada a break. Now, I've idolized Joe Girardi for years. Okay, I've idolized his ass for years. But still, I was moved by that kinship. And I decided to embrace being a catcher. I will be a really really good catcher. I will be the catcher for the Ball Breakers. I'll give my pitcher a solid target, I'll make the returns, I'll catch pop flies, I'll make the plays at the plate tagging runners out. I will perform!

Today, catching, I got beaten up a bit, too. The ball was coming at me right out of the sun, and several times, I didn't make the catch, the ball hit the plate or the ground and bounced up and hit me. Once on the shin pretty good, and once getting me right in the ear. And it bled a little! I've bled for the Ball Breakers! From my head! I mentioned to Norsky Bear and he said, "Of course, that's what happens to catchers."


Especially catchers like me, who don't wear face masks. Might I get a cauliflour ear? A nice mouse? Stitches in my jaw? A black eye??? Dude! That would totally be too cool for school!

But, I was brought back to earth from these reveries by my two appearances at the plate. My hits were lame! The first time, I barely tapped the ball right to the first baseman, who barely had to extend his toe to hit the plate and get me out. The second time was another not-so-great hit, but at least I got on base and no one was out. Alas, I was out on the force play at second.


And at my second at-bat, I had just taken a big swig of Gator Ade. I set the bottle, damp with condensation down in my lap, and in doing so had a big wet stain on my crotch, looking for all the world like I had just wet my pants. My team mates, of course, were supportive and encouraging: "Oh. Like that's the first time that's happened." "Hey Drew, you future with the team DEPENDS on how you do batting."

Ah well.

Tomorrow, I head back up to NYC for Folsom Street East. If'n you make it there, stop by the table where they New York boys of Leather are selling water between 4 and 6 p.m. and say hello, as I'll be doing my volunteer shift. (I have a special outfit all planned for my Ganymede duties.)

Ah well, if only I had a nice shiner from softball to show off tomorrow.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Gay Army


I know not how or why, but I get weekly emails from It's news, information, and entertainment for people currently or formerly serving in the military. The content is pretty good, and has deepened my appreciation of military journalism. The entertainment portion of is called "Shock And Awe." I was wasting time there looking at their tattoo gallery this morning when I stumbled upon this.

What is that?

"Five of the gayest men in Scandinavia..."?

It appears to be a slice of reality television that wasn't picked up by anyone. Why Scandinavia? Was it a production of the Norway equivalent of BravoTV? Before you go bringing it to the attention of GLAAD (Don't they have bigger fish to fry? Oh that's right. They only seem to fry really really small fish, most of which seem to have been netted in error), I'll go on record as saying it looks pretty interesting. RealityTV at it's best, wherein a disparate group fo people--in this case, the gayest of the gays in Scandinavia--are thrown together in a series of ordeals, and gain an appreciation of inner strength they didn't know they had, each other, and the strange world they've entered. Just like Paris and Nicole on that farm in Tennessee! I, for one, would be interested in seeing the obligatory "final episode interview" with the drill sargeant where he talks about his newfound respect for the gays.

Yet another kooky offering from the Internets. From me, to you.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The (Sporadic) Genius Of Phrenology!

This afternoon, in my perusal of the internet, I ran across this interesting piece about formerly well regarded psychiatric "treatments" that are obvious bunko. Big fun! But then, in the section covering Phrenology, I read this: "thick folds on the back of the neck were signs of a sexually oriented personality". They're talking about neck cleavage!

I love neck cleavage!

If'n you're new around these parts, neck cleavage refers to the folds of... uhhh... fat that grace the backs of some men's necks. And neck cleavage drives me wild. A man with neck cleavage just has to look my way and I melt.

And apparently I'm not the first guy to found them alluring. Any phrenologist would agree.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Iceman Goeth

Ötzi the Iceman is again in the news.

Ötzi is a five thousand year old man who was discovered frozen in a glacier in Switzerland in September, 1991. It turns out that Ötzi was the victim of foul play.


That takes me back.

After Ötzi was discovered, it was widely, though erroneously reported, that the Iceman had several tattoos and body piercings, and--get this--that evidence of semen was found in his well preserved rectum. Faster than you can say "We're here! We're Queer" in Cro-Magnon, Ötzi was claimed as one of Our Own, and was wheeled in to prove that men have always been doing the ass sex thing.

I remember a lively conversation at The Bar, (it was called that, "The Bar," at 2nd avenue and 2nd Street) about how hot it would be to get it on with a tattooed and pierced man wearing only the skins of animals he had hunted and killed himself. And, of course, wondering if bottoms vastly outnumbered Tops in paleolithic Europe the way they did in late 20th Century Manhattan.

And, of course, none of this was true. Although it was reported somewhere in the gay press, and other outlets reported on the reporting, and so on. Even after one of the paleoanthropologists went public with the fact that we had no way of knowing just what Ötzi's love life was like.


So sixteen years later, paleoanthropologists have figured out that Ötzi got it in the back with an arrow.

Which has me wondering... have they gotten around to looking for non-Ötzi DNA in a certain orifice?

Top Hot Chef

Holy Cow!

It's the opener for Season Three of Top Chef. I didn't catch much of Season One, but I sure enjoyed the eye candy that Sam provided in Season Two. And I liked Sam's cooking, too. And he was so great to look at. Ted Allen of Queer Eye fame responded when somebody commented that Sam was "kinda hot" by chiming in with, "Kind of?"

So that left me unprepared for the line up for all the piping hot beef on Season Three. You should see the guns on this guy, who lives in Chicago. The beautiful bear John--who did all his own carpentry!--on Top Design was from Chicago, too. It's a shame that town is so far away from the ocean. And then there's Joey. Living in NYC, guys like Joey are everywhere, so you forget what delectable morsels they are. Those Lovers Of Life who ask for more bread to mop up the last of the sauce. Here in the hinterlands, they're much fewer and farther between, so Joey is a pleasure. And, he's the chef at Café Des Artistes, so I've eaten his food. And Howie. Woooof! You just know that Howie likes a nice cigar after dinner. Brian seems pretty spicey. And he sure fills out his kitchen whites. I'm willing to bet that Clay has a nice Andouille sausage on him.

I think we need to see a naked batter fry Quick Fire challenge.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bucephalas Update

This morning, I talked to Dave, who runs the garage where my Jeep was towed.

Dave reported that he's been driving my Jeep around lower Montgomery County, but he's been unable to "recreate" the situation. And he thinks that the spedometer kicking out minutes before was perhaps just a coinky-dink.


So that's cool. It doesn't sound like I'm in for a major financial hit here. (Although anything over $20 will be a major financial hit for me.) It sounds like I'll be getting my Jeep back soon.


If they can't find the cause, doesn't that mean it can happen again at any time?

I'll try to remember to ask him what I should do next time my Jeep stalls miles away from home, other than calling a tow truck and getting it towed over to Dave's service station. Perhaps there's some clever automotive trick. Like holding my breath and crossing the fingers on my left hand while I turn the key in the ignition with my right hand.

Onward And Upward!

After I clicked "Publish Post" to get the post below to all of you, I sent away to my alma matter, Alvernia College, for my official transcripts, to be sent to Construction Management Schools I'm planning on attending. Then, I went online and applied for a Federal Student Financial Aid PIN. (Getting a PIN is the first necessary step in doing an application for money from the gov'mint so I can go to school.

I did have misgivings about the Hippie School job, since I've set my sites on going back to school to get a Construction Management Certificate. And gosh, that wouldn't mesh well with my job description there, so it would be pretty clear to them that they were but a stepping stone on my way to glory. So perhaps, rather than a swat from the Universe about my employability, rather this is a gentle reminder that I have a different path ahead, that doesn't involve raising money for a Hippie School in Upper Bucks County.

Message received, Universe!

I'm back on track.

Damn Hippies!

Well heck.

When I got up this morning, waiting for me in my email in box, was a note from the Hippie School telling me that after careful consideration, they decided I was not the person to for the Community Development Administrator position.


The expressed reason was that I didn't have a background in the philosophical underpinnings of the school, worked out by a German theosophist kinda guy.


I really liked the Hippie School, and I would have really enjoyed working there. (The drive to work alone would have been the equivalent of spending six years in a Buddhist monastery.) And I sort of have that feeling that... ummm... could there be a better qualified candidate out there? Seems a wee bit unlikely.

Oh. And my job at the Previous Place of emPloyment showed up on a non-profit jobs bulletin board.


I'm not panicking yet. But next month this time, if I don't at least have something cooking, then I'll be panicky.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Alas, Bucephalas

Friday afternoon. I'm relaxing at Starbucks, enjoying an iced-quad-venti-two-pumps-vanilla-light-ice latté. Well earned, too! After a great time in the batting cages, I hit the gym for the first day of the New Workout Routine. (Lunges carrying two twenty pound dumbells! Oh! My! God!)

My cellie explodes.

It's the Baron.

I've been helping the Baron bivouac from his soon-to-be-former abode in Center City up to his new digs. It's been taxing, shall we say. The Baron, you see, is a collector. Specializing in what is known as "ephemera." If you find yourself wondering what kind of graphic design Chip Duckett was favoring in promoting his party at the Limelight in 1991, be sure to check in with the Baron, who has a copy of the invite that was passed out. Or, perhaps, several dozen copies. Y'see, if the Baron finds an interesting article in The Welcomat, a free Philadelphia weekly published in the late 'Eighties, the Baron felt compelled to round up as many copies of them as possible. As a result, the soon-to-be-former-abode of the Baron is packed to the rafters with paper. Once the piles of back issues of Interview and Spy and Philadelphia Gay News completely covered the door of the closet, the Baron never went in to the closet anymore.

Collecting is an interesting obsession to indulge in a good friend like the Baron. Until you have to help him move. Then it becomes a matter of, "I don't even want to know just what is in this really heavy box that I'm sweating and straining to lug downstairs."

And if you have any doubts that the gods have a sense of humor, consider the fact that the Fates ordained that the Baron and I would be friends. I, the minimalist, who loves to Throw Crap Away and lies awake at night wondering how I could have less. And the Baron, who squeals with delight when he finds that some Fool has put out on the curb a box of promotional materials for a gallery opening rendered unuseable by a printing error and carts the entire lot home.

Felix and Oscar had nothing on us.

So back to me on the porch of Starbucks.

My cellie explodes.

It was the Baron.

He needed my help.

With The Move.

He has to be out by Monday. He wasn't where he hoped he would be. I was planning on coming down to help him schlep on Saturday, but he needed my help on Sunday, too.

That, of course, would mean missing softball.

I was furious.

Miss softball??? He wanted me to miss softball??? Does he not know who I am?

I was petulant the way a little boy might be petulant having a favorite toy snatched away from him. I called the coach of the Ball Breakers and gave the bad news.

So yesterday, I headed down to meet up with the Baron to help him move. On the drive down, I noticed that my spedometer seemed to have stopped working. The needle was pointing to zero as I was flying down Route 309.

Huh. That's odd.

I picked up the Baron, and, followed by the Baron's sister, we headed down to Center City to pick up a load of paper. Not ten blocks from the Baron's, on Stenton Avenue in Northwest Philadelphia, my Jeep Liberty stalled.

I turned the key in the ignition, it started up again, but it wouldn't take.

Something was wrong.

With the help of a kind passerby, we pushed it over into a parking spot. The Baron called his sister who was there on the double. We called a towtruck, and my Jeep Liberty is now at a service station in Flourtown, PA. They won't be able to take a look at it until Monday, of course. I'm hoping that they'll call and cheerfully report that my battery cable was loose and they tightened it up and I can pick it up any time and by the way the charge will be $2.79. But that won't be the case.

So many story arcs came together there sitting on the sidewalk on Stenton Avenue waiting for the towtruck, it was like the final episode of Heroes.

There was the Baron and his move. But there was also my reduced financial circumstances. And then there was the fact that when I bought the Jeep, I paid for an extended warrantee that had me good up to 90,000 miles, and my odometer read 90,549. And while sitll at my Previous Place of emPloyment, I had been thinking that come Spring, I'd see about trading in the Jeep and getting a new car, but of course that can't happen because I couldn't get a new car without a paycheck coming in. I had a date planned on Monday, taking a hot boy from Queens to the beach. And then there's just the whole thing about my automotive cluelessness that makes me feel soooo fragile when dealing with mechanics (I can benchpress 225! I can weld! I once won a cow milking contest! I can throw a twelf foot bullwhip with pinpoint accuracy! I've read Rimbaud in the original french! I make a great meatloaf! Please don't take me to the cleaners because I couldn't change a fuel filter if my life depended on it.)

And of course, this means until I get my car back, I'll be driving my deceased stepmother's white Ford Taurus. (So. Not. Me.) That's the car that left me stranded by the side of a highway at 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve with an eighty-five year old woman in the passenger seat and no cell phone.


Throughout it all, I was calm, cool, and collected. (The Baron and his sister were mightily impressed by just how calm, cool, and collected I was.)

But of course, I'm comforted by one thought.

Today, Sunday, although I'm not up in NYC playing softball, I'm also not helping the Baron move.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Whole New Workout!!!

Lately I've been getting bored with my routine at the gym. What I've been doing runs as follows...

Day One
Cable Flies
Decline Bench Press
Push Ups

Day Two
Cable Lateral Raises
Military Press
Dumbell Tricep Extensions

Day Three
Chin Ups
Barbell Rows
Cable Bicep Curls
Dumbell Bicep Curls

The way I used to work each move was to do ten reps, then up the weight and cut to eight reps, then up the weight again and do six reps. But on the advice of hot tub guy, I sort of reversed that, and started with the maximum weight I could do and squeeze out at least six reps. Then after that, I'd start taking off weight until I could do ten reps. Each time, I would go to failure.

This routine made sense to me because it had me lifting some of the heaviest weights I've ever been able to handle, and heavier is better if you want to get bigger, right? Every week, I'd be upping my starting weights. (If I got to ten reps in less than three sets, that meant next time around my starting weight would be higher.)

But I've been doing this for awhile now. And I've sort of been wondering how I could do things differently.

And I found my answer!

There's this website I like, RealJock, that's all about physical fitness for the gays. Really cool workout suggestions with clear descriptions of how to do things, and the forums are pretty lively. And in one of the forums, a newbie guy who is a hard gainer posted asking for advice for hard gainers.

Hard gainers are folks like me: congenitally skinny. Some people--of medium height with broad shoulders and narrow hips, also referred to as "Mesomorphs," can put an inch on their biceps by loading up the dishwasher. Hard gainers are just that, they have a hard time putting on weight, even when that weight is lean muscle mass.

I posted to the forum and offered some advice. And the next poster basically said I was on the wrong track. He suggested that hard gainers look at Hypertrophy Specific Training.

Say what?

I looked into it.

The stuff about "slow protein" and "fast protein" I'm dismissing out of hand. I'm not a believer in supplements and such. But I'm liking the approach. The basic idea is, contrary to what I've heard and read for years, if you want to get bigger all around, work your whole body every day at the gym. You don't have to kill yourself, but if you work all your muscle groups consistently every day, your body will adapt by getting bigger.

Get it?

Years ago, I was working out at this gym in Brooklyn that had a great pool. Every morning before work, I'd spend twenty minutes swimming laps. And man did my body respond. And that's basically the same thing, right? The great thing about swimming is it works every muscle group in the body. And I was doing that every day, without giving my muscles time off to recuperate.

So that's the deal. Every day, I'm going to work chest, back and shoulders, legs, biceps, and triceps. Not killing myself, just a nice, moderate workout. One of the criticisms I've heard about Hypertrophy Specific Training is that it's boring. You're doing the same thing over and over again every time you go to the gym.

But I, genius that I am, might have figured out a way around that. Just because I'm working my chest every day doesn't mean I have to do bench presses every day. Get it? I've figured out enough variables so that I can work all five of the basic muscle groups for four days before I have to repeat.

And I'm looking forward to the new thing.

Now, don't get me wrong.

I very much doubt that Hypertrophy Specific Training is the the Be All And End All and the answer to all my problems and that in six weeks I'll have to get a whole new wardrobe because I'll have a 52 inch chest, a 32 inch waist, and 22 inch guns. (That would be steroids!). My theory of Going To The Gym is that you've got to do it. If you're happy to spend forty-five minutes on the stair master, or do yoga, or swim, or ballroom dancing, or whatever, that's cool. But you've got to go to the gym. Nature didn't design us to sit down every waking minute of the day, and if you do that, you'll very quickly reach the point in life when you've got many more bad days ahead of you then good ones. Me? I like lifting weights. I pay a lot of attention to form, and I get to feel all superior to everybody who doesn't. I like the testosterone boost it gives me, and after my work out, I rush back to the lockerroom, rip off my shirt, and spend a couple of minutes admiring my pump. And if I didn't go to the gym, I'd weigh 162 pounds and no one would date me ever.

So in my gym life, I'm off on a new adventure.

If Hypertrophic Specific Training does turn out to be the Be All And End All, I'll be sure to tell you about it. But frankly, I'll be a little disappointed if that's the case. Because when I get bored with it a year or two from now, I'll have nothing to switch to.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Yesterday, I helped the Baron with his move, loading up my jeep with his... ummm... precious belongings, and hauling them up to his new digs.

Among the stuff we transported yesterday was the Baron's music. As he pointed out, "Once your music is out of there, it's not your home any more."

"Look at these!" he said, and showed me a couple of mix tapes that I'd made for him eightteen years ago. I plugged them right into the tape deck. Now, overall, I make a pretty good mix tape. Ask the Baron and he'd say I make an excellent mix tape.

But one of my selections back then in 1989 made me cringe: "Somebody" by Depeche Mode.


What tripe!

"I want somebody to love, for the rest of my life..."

It's just way too much. Laying it on with a trowel.

I cringed thinking about that 1989 version of me, sitting there on my mattress on the floor while "Somebody" played on my tape deck, thinking, "Yeah. Oh yeah. Will I ever find that somebody?"


I think it hits me that way because it's coming from a place of need, along the lines of, "I want someone to complete me, to make me whole." In other words, I don't want to be lonely ever again.

That way madness lies.

I'm not being anti-somebody here, just anti-"Somebody." I don't need somebody. And if the truth be told, I don't particularly want somebody.

More correct to say that after forty-two years, I've taken this ride as far as it will go. I've seen just about all I can from behind these two eyes of mine. I'm ready for a new vehicle, a "we" rather than an "I."

But I'm cool.

As I mentioned to IcarusPNW this afternoon when we were IMing back and forth, Life promises nothing except hardship, loss, and disappointment. That's what's due to us. That's what we can look forward to. But whenever something comes along that's not that, it's miraculous. It's wonderful. And we should be profoundly grateful for it. I count among my sins not always recognizing the great gift that a Somebody represents when a Somebody came along.

Democracy, Or The Lack Thereof


Two institutions to which I belong, and to which I am committed, are grappling mightily with issues near and dear to my heart.

First off, there's the Episcopal Church. And the issue here is homos.

Then, there's the Chicago Hellfire Club, which you might have read about in your local LGBT (that acronym I like to pronounce "LugBut") paper, as their exclusion of trans-men has become a hot issue.

Now, both situations must have folks on the outside scratching their heads, wondering what the big deal is. I wouldn't doubt that most people in the pews of the average Episcopal church know gay folks, and have probably known a few gay clergy in the day, and if a simple majority of Americans believe that same sex marriage is an okay thing, there's probably over-representation of that point of view among the Smells and Bells types.

And similarly, within the Chicago Hellfire Club, I don't doubt that most of the views of club members would be along the spectrum from "Absolutely! Some of my best friends..." on the one hand to, "Uhhhh... Sure. I guess I wouldn't have a problem with that" on the other. I don't think anybody in the club is really pleased that we're sounding in the press like a "Whites Only" country club explaining why the Chicago Civil Rights (!) law that bans discrimination against trans folks doesn't apply to CHC.

So surely, those head-scratchers outside of either group would say, can't you guys just go with the flow and say, "Okay, the homos/transguys can stay."

But that's not gonna happen, in either case, any time soon.

Because, you see, neither of these groups is a democracy.

The overwhelming majority of people invested in the Episcopal Church or the Chicago Hellfire Club don't get a say in the matter, little less a vote on the outcome.

Somewhere, off in a room behind closed doors, the decisions are made, and the rest of us can either live with it or pull on our boots and walk.

It's that simple.

O that it were otherwise, of course. But it's not.

ACT UP was the most purely democratic group I've ever been a part of. All important issues--and plenty of ridiculous irrelevant decisions--were decided after spirited debate by a show-of-hands vote at the weekly meeting. Taking the broad view, you see ultimately that Good triumphs over... ummm... Not So Good. When everybody gets together, we all end up listening to our better angels. And even when I was on the side of the Not So Good (for example, I argued for a narrow focus to our actions, strictly adhering to an agenda that served the nitty-gritty day-to-day interests of people living with HIV/AIDS, thus taking no position on the first Gulf War or joining in broader struggles, including civil rights for the gays). But when a vote wouldn't go my way, because I was able to trust the process, I didn't feel like it was the end of the world.

And I have no doubt that if in either institution there was a great big sit down where we all talked and talked and talked until there was nothing left to say, and then voted up-or-down, then everybody would be so much better off.

But democracy is not for the faint of heart. You have to have a verrrrry high tolerance for tedium. And it's so messy and slow and feelings get hurt. Having had a good taste of it, however, when "elections" consist of presenting a pre-determined slate of candidates to the membership for their vote, with eight people vying for eight positions... I just wince. Similarly, confronted with unabashed cynicism in church governance (for God's sake!), I have to take a few deep breaths.

History is a long march, not a sprint.

Eventually, there will be a rite in the Book of Common Prayer for the blessing of same sex unions. And one day, if the Chicago Hellfire Club is still around, all leathermen of good standing with passion, a sense of responsibility, and what used to be called "heart" will be welcomed at Inferno, without much concern for "penile appendages," and a good time will be had by all.

Happy Anniversary, SingleTails

We're a day early. But five years ago, on June 6, 2002, if you set your browser this way, here's what you would have read...

So it begins. By way of introduction, I'm a 37 year old gay man, living in Jersey City and working in Lower Manhattan. I grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I recently purchased a condo in Fort Lauderdale. Part real estate investment, part weekend getaway. My project (as Jean Paul Sartre used that term) is to build for myself a full and happy life as a single, childless man. Sort of a secular monk.

And what's the thing about 'single tails?' Well, everybody needs a hobby. Mine happens to be throwing whips. Primarily I work with snake whips, which are distinct from bullwhips in that a bullwhip has a wooden handle at the end, and a snake whip has a shot-loaded butt on it. I work with a 5' kangaroo snake whip with a 2' fall, a 4' kangaroo snake whip with a 2' fall, and a 5' kangaroo signal whip. What's to like? Absolutely the feeling of wielding that power (the crack from throwing a whip occurs because the power of the throw is concentrated in the tip, which breaks the sound barrier). Also because there is a zen quality to throwing. Like splitting wood. Like target practice. If you think about it, you screw it up. You rely on your body's knowledge, find your center, and throw. Here's an informative link on the subject:

So. More to come.

And hella lot more to come, as it turns out! Tomorrow will be five years and almost two thousand posts.

Back then, blogging was a relatively new thing. For the most part, there were a few political bloggers out there and high school kids. Blogger, of course, was the only game in town. Live Journal had yet to set up their Fruity Little Club. (I hate LJ because unless you have a journal on Live Journal, you can't post comments. Bastards!)

And for a while, it seemed to me that I was the only blogging leatherman on the World Wide Internet. I found plenty of other queer bloggers, but it was a few months at least before I discovered LeatherEdge and LeatherEgg.

Jeez. Five years.

My readership has waxed and waned and waxed and waned over the years. But I still keep plugging away at it. Way back when, I would get emails from infatuated folks who ran across the url for my weblog on my WorldLeathermen profile (shhhh! WorldLeathermen frowns on that, in a verrrrry Live Journal kind of way) and declare, "I just read your entire blog!" That would be quite the undertaking now.

And, of course, leatherfolk with weblogs are now legion. I sure can't keep up with them all.

A few times, I've thought about chucking the whole project, sensing that I just didn't have much more to say. But I persist, almost, at times, in spite of myself. And I don't see much sign of stopping now.

So it continues.