Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Take The E Train


In "Glamourous Glue," his single from the early 'Nineties, Morrissey sang,

Now we look to Los Angeles
For the language we use
London is dead
London is dead
London is dead...

My then Morrissey-lovin' roommate Barry and I, disspirited by the changes we saw going down in our beloved East Village (had we only known what was to come) would sing along while cleaning the kitchen,

Maybe move to Astoria,
Things are great in Jackson Heights, I hear
Manhattan is dead
Manhattan is dead
Manhattan is dead

At that time, the Borough of Queens existed more for us as a concept than a real place that people lived and that you could go to. All I knew about Queens I knew from watching "All In The Family" two decades earlier.

Brooklyn was another story. Brooklyn was already cool. And in a couple of years, I would myself be moving to the People's Republic of Brooklyn, and loving it. When I worked in the South Bronx, I gained an appreciation of the funkiness and grittiness of the borough that gave us the namesake cheer. And Staten Island, of course, was politically and culturally a suburb of Bayonne, New Jersey; a land where a few sad homos lived who would look at their watches at 11:45 on a Friday night and mutter, "Damn. I've gotta go. I'm gonna miss the ferry."

But Queens wasn't even in my consciousness.

When I was dating Special Guy, I managed to find my way out the Van Wyck to visit him where he lived with his parents, Marge and Sergio in a place called White Stone. (Or as I liked to call it, Piedro Blanco.)

When Greater New York City was formed in 1895, there were many Brooklynites who didn't feel the love. Brooklyn was its own sovereign city, there was a there there. If you run into a resident of Boerum Hill on the Champs-Elysées and inquire where they hail from, he won't say, "New York," he'll say, "Brooklyn!" But in 1895, Queens County, the third and westernmost county on Long Island. It was dotted with farms and small towns, such as Woodside, Sunny Side, Jamaica, Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Maspeth and such. All those little towns had their own post offices, and as a result, if you today write a letter to your buddy who lives in any of Brooklyn's great neighborhoods, you'll address it to "Brooklyn NY 112__." But if your buddy lives in Queens, it goes to Maspeth NY or White Stone NY or Jamaica NY or wherever.

But of course, I was never writing to anyone in Queens because I didn't know anyone in Queens. (Special Guy's parents lived in Queens.) I didn't know anyone in Queens because nobody lived in Queens.

But I sense that things have changed.

I now know several people in Queens. And they're all about Queens. "Yeah, Queens is Great!"

Just like in Scooby-Doo, the answer to the most perplexing mystery usually has something to do with real estate. And you can still find an affordable apartment in Queens and take the subway into Manhattan rather than the PATH train. Queens is also the most diverse of the five boroughs. There are something like 143 different languages that you can hear on the streets of Queens. And that, of course, means that arguably, the best restaurants in NYC can be found in Queens. Back in the day when I was a devoté of Chowhound, this amazing Korean BBQ place would have a great write up that would have me drooling, followed by the inevitable, "Damn. It's somewhere in Queens."

So could it be that Queens is being colonized? Could Queens be the next Cool Place To Live? Is Queens the next Brooklyn?

It sure would make it easier to get to the airport!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Drew The Screw?

When I was looking for work after moving back here four years ago, someone at somepoint half-jokingly suggested that the County Prison is always looking for Corrections Officers.

Of course they are. Like most county prisons across this great land of ours, conditions are over-crowded. The job only pays $32,761 a year and only a high school diploma is required, so it's not really attracting much in the way of brighter bulbs and high minded sorts. UnFortunate has a history of working in prison advocacy, especially around issues of HIV/AIDS.

And, I've read "the Study."

Back in the '70s, a psychologist at Yale (I think it was Yale) set out to look at the effects of incarceration. He got a bunch of college students to enroll in the study. They took over an abandoned prison somewhere. The student subjects were divided at random into two groups: prisoners and guards. The "prisoners" would have access to toilets and showers, and they'd be fed three times a day. The "guards" were instructed about what constituted abusive treatment and were informed that this was strictly prohibited. It started out with the "prisoners" and "guards"--who were Yale students, mind you--joking around a little bit. But pretty quickly, the researchers saw things change. The prisoners became depressed, fearful, sullen, and their sense of self worth vanished. And, concordantly, the guards came to hate the prisoners, sure that they were inherently "bad" people, less than human, without scruples, and stupid. The guards also became paranoid, feeling that the prisoners were "up to something" and plotting against them, and that any threat to their authority had to be immediately put down forcefully.

After only a few days, the study was shut down because of the terrible toll being taken on the participants.

The psychologist was in the news not so long ago, being interviewed to help explain what happened at Abu Graihb.

Sooo... like... I'm not sure I'd want that for myself.

On the other hand.

When I lived in Philadelphia in the late '80s, then police commissioner Willie Williams was asked if the diversity recruiting goals that he was promoting included getting gays and lesbians onto the force. "Uhhh... Yeah, I guess so," replied Commissioner Williams. And so recruiters were posted outside of Giovanni's Room, the LGBT bookstore, and for a while it became a "thing" to sign up as a recruit, and write "I'm a homo!" or whatever after the question about whether or not you would increase diversity of the force.

So I did.

I got a notice in the mail that the qualifying exam was being given on a Saturday morning. When that Saturday morning came, I wasn't doing anything, so I showed up to take it. I scored in the 99th percentile.

After that, the Philadelphia Police Department wanted me bad.

And I was giving it a lot of thought. Remember Hill Street Blues? There was a character on the show named Goldblum, and he was all about making a difference, helping people... Y'know, all that liberal Jewish stuff. And I thought, "I could be like Goldblum!"

To be sure, there are a lot of Bad Cops (and Bad C.O.s) out there in the world. But imagine if there were no Good Cops, or Good C.O.s in the world.

I think I could be a Good CO. I could do HIV prevention education! I could do harm reduction work! I could do some pastoral counseling on the fly! I could help people!

And yes, this is all about the fact that it's a County Job and so the hiring process is all about fairness and openness and I'm feeling pretty burned by not getting that Dream Job. I'm pretty sure that if I applied, I'd get it. And man, is that tempting.

Several of the subjects in the Yale study were anti-war activists, committed to non-violence and working to ensure human dignity. And they were as abusive as the rest of the "guards."

I, Day Laborer


I guess you could call this "bouncing back."

Tomorrow morning, I'm going to get up early, put on my Carhartts and boots, bring along two forms of ID and work gloves, and head down to the offices of this place that provides day laborers for construction, demolition, light manufacturing, and the like.

As is typical with me, my head is full of romantic notions of spending tomorrow working up a sweat sorting scrap metal or placing rebar or something, along side a passel of men whose first language is something other than English--¿Que paso, campadre? Kok dyela, Tovarishche? Comment ça va, mon frère?--and coming home with $50 or so in my pocket. But just maybe, someone will take note of strapping, hard-working, convivial, quick-on-the-uptake me and within no time at all (by Christmas) I'll be commanding something more than minimum wage.

Leave it to me to glamorize manual labor, huh?

I just hope I don't pull a landscaping job. Awful buggy work. I sure wish I had more aggressively pursued promised lessons in operating a forklift when I worked at Wuperior Soodcraft.

I also sent out a couple of resumes today for some jobs I found on craigslist. So even though I'm tossing and turning a bit when I go to bed at night, I have to admit that the future isn't entirely bleak.

But I am really Really REALLY looking forward to just being Back At Work. Doing anything.

Well, not anything. It took me forty years, but I discovered that the kind of work I really enjoy is man's work. The heavy-lifting, job-well-done, show-us-what-you got kind of work. No more being a desk jockey, this I pray.

So we'll see.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The YouTube/CNN Debate

So cool, huh?

I caught the tale end of it when it was aired live the other night, and saw more of it in a rebroadcast when I was fixing hotdogs for my dad when I got home from softball.

Overall, I thought it presented a nice way for folks who aren't political junkies like me to find something in political discourse that they can latch onto, a sort of "When Worlds Collide" aspect. It rocked to see the Democratic candidates respond to more off beat questions from folks like the two guys from Murphreesboro, Tennessee, who wondered if Al Gore jumped in the race if it would hurt anybody's feelings.

I found myself thinking about vice-presidential line ups. Although it's very early in the race, and anything could potentially happen, if either Hillary or Obama get the nomination, might they draw from one of the also rans as a running mate? This is always an interesting dance, an attempt to corral the base--and the fundraising potential--of someone that the frontrunner mostly agrees with. For example, I found the idea of Vice President Kucinich to be pretty delightful. (My sister-in-law loves Kucinich because he's a fellow vegan. I wonder if there would be vegan options at State Dinners in an Obama-Kucinich White House?)

Hillary is generally regarded as "the winner," and her performance was pretty much flawless, not only with respect to what she said, but how she said it. But to be sure, there were no flies on Obama, and my guy Bill Richardson certainly performed well, too. But, aside from a few instances of not answering the question, particularly with respect to the two gay marriage questions, the Democratic roster is pretty impressive.

Did anyone else take note of the the camera-work? Some of those close-ups were pretty extreme. Pretty unusual for a debate. Seeing it on a large screen must have been like going to a Chuck Close opening. For instance, one thing that I now know that I didn't know before: John Edwards has the most beautiful blue eyes.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

We're Number Two!

Today was the last day of the softball season. (You'll all still have to hear about softball though since after taking next weekend off, we have the playoffs to look forward to.

We had two games against the Bobcats, our arch enemies. For weeks, we were number one in the division, but when we lost last week, we were 1.5 games behind the Bobcats. (Remember that tied game early in the season?) So today, we had to win the first game to tie them, and win the second game to be the season champions. (Or something. It comes down to one of those stats with three decimal places.)

We played in Bloomfield, New Jersey. As usual in Bloomfield, there were vast puddles in the infield that would very well show up on Google Maps. So that meant we were playing on the grass, family reunion softball style. It was hot and steamy today. The predicted thundershowers never materialized. And the dead still air was stirred by exactly one breeze the entire time we were there. (There was this beautiful collective "Ahhhhh..." for the half a minute that it lasted.)

The first game. Oh man. What a heartbreaker. We got three runs, they tied it up, they got two runs, we tied it up. It was neck-and-neck the entire time. The Ball Breakers played some amazing softball. Collectively, as a team. But, alas, so did the Bobcats. In the penultimate inning, it was once again tied up. We were visitors, meaning that the Bobcats had last ups at bat. So it was absolutely critical that we hold them. And they got a run in and won the game.


So we would not be the division champs. But whatever happened, we'd be number two.

This begged the question: did we really want to be out here in the heat to play a second game that wouldn't make a difference?

The answer, of course, was "Hell yeah!"

And so we did.

I personally was for this, as I was benched for the first game, so I wanted to see some action. I did pretty well with catching the first two innings. But then came my first at-bat. It wasn't the strongest I've ever hit the ball, not making it out of the infield. But all things being equal, I think I could have once again beat the ball to first base. But I maybe shoulda coulda given more time to my torn hamstring to heal. Two weeks was clearly not enough. There I was, lurching my way down the baseline, sort of propelling myself with all my might with my right leg and giving a weird little hop with my left leg. No doubt it was comical. And that meant that I was out of the game.

Which the Ball Breakers won.

One of the guys on our team, Billy, lived just down the road and had invited us all over for a barbecue. So we packed up our gear for the last time during the 2007 season (stay tuned for the playoffs!), climbed into our cars, and headed off to eat.

The food was excellent, highlights including home made mozzarella from this place in Hoboken.

And there was much drinking of beer, laughter, and a little bit of speechifying. There was general agreement that as opposed to some seasons past--maybe all seasons passed--the new Ball Breakers were great. So great, in fact, that we threatened them with death if they don't come back next year. Gruesome, horrible, painful death. Not that we weren't dubious, since a few of them were (gasp!) heterosexual. But luckily the number of times I've had to take the drastic action of Calling Homophobia on them (which goes like this: I point the accusatory finger and holler, "I call Homophobia on Mike!" for infractions like making an Ewwwww-face when we discuss fisting in grafic detail) not more than seven or eight times during the season.

Way back in April, I vowed to work hard and make this the season that I was no longer such a liability to the team. Countless hours I've spent at the batting cages. I'm not gonna say I'm there yet, but I've gotten a lot better. And look at me! I'm a catcher! I love being a catcher! Some seasons, not infrequently did I think to myself, "I got up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday and drove two hours for this?" There has been infighting, there have been seemingly endless strings of crushing defeats, there have been battles with the league, there have been nasty fights among Ball Breakers. At times, it's been a rough ride.

But not this year.

With everything else that's been going on with me, softball has been the one thing I could count on. Win or lose (and we won more often than we lost), I had a blast.

At the start of the game, before we take the field, we stand in a circle, and give a cheer: "Bal-l-l-l-l-l-l-l Breakers!" Today, when we did the cheer, I added in a tremulous voice, "Love you guys!" I did this for humorous effect, and it was successful, but the truth is, I meant it.

I'm doubting a lot about myself lately, my competence, my skills, my self-worth, my Faith. Even my identity as a leatherman. But there's one thing I'm not doubting: I am a Ball Breaker.

Friday, July 27, 2007

It's Official

I didn't get it.

I'm a wreck, needless to say.

Damn damn damn damn damn.

I'm reminded though, of another job I didn't get.

Years and years and years ago, back when I was but a pup, not too long after I first moved to NYC. I was working in the General Counsel's Office of Ernst & Young, the largest professional services firm in the world. (Or at least it was back then.) Was anyone ever more ill-suited for a job? I didn't enjoy working at Ernst & Young. It was awful.

And life was elsewhere. I was volunteering with the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project. And I was something of a star volunteer. My core function was being a hotline crisis counselor a few times a month, but beyond that, I worked the speaker's bureau, trained new volunteers, did community organizing work... If they needed it done, I did it. And a job opened up at AVP: HIV-Related Violence Project Coordinator. At that time, HIV-related violence was sort of a new thing. The best way to explain might be by way of example: HIV positive men who were visibly frail were being robbed at ATMs due to the perception that they would be unable to put up much of a fight. Working with these clients was difficult: as they were formerly robust, on top of everything else they had to deal with was the increasing liklihood that they'd be victims of violence. I interviewed, with Matt Foreman, then the Executive Director, and with the staff. And I shined. I had worked really closely with Juan, who had been doing the job, and he thought I'd be great in the position.

It just started to make sense that I would get the job. They knew me, they loved me, my commitment to the mission of AVP and my grasp of the issues at hand was evident. I became increasingly cavalier at Ernst & Young, feeling assured that soon I'd be leaving that hot mess behind.

And I didn't get the job.

It went to a woman with an MSW. She had previously worked at St. Vincent's Hospital, and not long after that there was this big article in the Times about how because St. Vincent's was a Catholic hospital, staff there had to be cautious about passing out condoms and counseling rape survivors about their family planning options. If it was discovered that they were doing anything like that, they'd lose their jobs. Many people who worked there would do it anyway behind closed doors, except with Latino/a patients, as it was thought that they might be devout Catholics and would spill the beans.

I know, right? What a sordid state of affairs! And they hired this bozo who came out of there?

Not long after MSW Woman came on board, there was a volunteer meeting to introduce her. Most of my fellow volunteers knew about my candidacy for the position. I was... let's just say Underwhelmed by her. And on top of that, I had to listen to other volunteers tell me sotto voce, "What were they thinking?"

I soldiered on, for a while.

AVP moved out of the cramped space they rented in the LGBT Community Center into new offices on Hudson Street. I, of course, helped them paint their new space. There I was, late one night, doing a good job covering freshly hung drywall with white paint in one of the offices. I asked who was going to get this office and I was informed that MSW Woman would be working in there.

I couldn't take it any more after that.

And it sure seemed like the end of the world. Things at Ernst & Young only got worse. My friend Richard left, and then, worst of all, my friend Paul left to move to San Francisco. It was pretty awful after that.

And then, I got laid off from Ernst & Young.

In the free time afforded me while I lived off my severance, I threw myself into work with ACT UP, which I turned to to fill the hole that volunteering with AVP left in my life. And my work with ACT UP garnered me the attention of a certain openly gay, openly HIV positive memeber of the New York City Council. He offered me a job, and that turned out to be the job of a lifetime. All the other places I worked while I lived in NYC stemmed from my work as a Legislative Aide. It was a job I loved. Wholeheartedly. I did great things in the three years that I worked there. I met tons of people. (That Rudy Giuliani guy? He totally knows who I am. Although he doesn't like me much.)

So I'm trying to take comfort in that. Maybe, dark and bleak as things look, something good is just around the corner.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What All Good Things Come To

My iPod is no more!

There I was, cruising up Point Pleasant Pike in my Jeep, and suddenly, Silence. The screen was frozen. I did a hard reset (or whatever it is), and this time, there was a terrifying image I didn't think I'd ever see again: a Sad Mac. (Only it was a Sad iPod.)

I don't know if Sad Macs still exist since the advent of OS X. Back in the day, when your Mac SE went on the fritz, you knew it was really bad when an image of your Mac with a frowny face in the screen showed up. That meant a trip to Tek Serve, the Old Reliable Macintosh Shop on 23rd Street where they would break your heart. (Thank the Lord and Steve Jobs, I'm not speaking from experience, I only heard the scary stories once sitting around a camp fire out in the wilderness.)

But I've got a Sad iPod.

Which is understandable. My iPod is one of the originals, among the very first sold. The wheel thingy on the front of mine actually turns.

Now, all is not lost. I can send it away to Apple and the fine folks there will make it all better. But there will be a charge for that. Plus shipping. And I'm just wondering how that cost would compare to buying myself a brand spanking new iPod. After all, I bought my Shuffle for $69, so I'm betting the price of iPods has come down quite a bit in the seven intervening years.

Right now, of course, that's all academic. But if I find out tomorrow that I have a job...

Go West!

I think by temperament I'm a westerner.

When I was but a teenager, my sister gave me the Complete Works of Jack London for Christmas one year. It took me a while--maybe a year or two--to crack it open, but when I finally did, I devoured it. All of those great stories of man standing alone against nature, society, himself. But most of all, the idea of the West captured my imagination. The frontier, frought with danger, drawing weirdos and outcasts and loners and people who had run out of options to disappear into the wilderness and make a new life for themselves.

When I've spent time there, whether it be Santa Fe or Seattle, those romantic strains are always running through my head.

But what I really like about the West is the ethos: Leave me alone. And it's corollary: Do as you want to do, and have fun, just as long as you do it without bothering me.

That rugged individualism has come in for some hits, in extremis it surely has its flaws like everything else.

At any rate, I sure prefer the West to the South.

(Ahhh... What fun would there be in life without Sweeping Generalizations? Let's indulge in a few!)

In a way, the West is the opposite of the South.

My Awful Ex, who hailed from Nashville, Tennessee, was the one who put me on to the propensity of southerners to pass judgment. He told me about the Universal Tell-Tale Sign That A Southerner Was Poised To Pass Judgment: pursed lips. When you see the lips disappear, you know just what's going on upstairs. It's all about, "Why that's no way to live your life! The correct way to live your life is the way that I live my life. Now don't be deceived by the fact that what's coming out of their mouths is, "Hi! How you? It's so nice to see you! And don't you look nice, too!"

Lest ye be judged, brothers and sisters.

Alas, America today is all about Southern Ascendancy.

Huh. Another reason to support New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson!

"My Life Is An Empty Place."

I think humanity can be divided into two groups: people, like me, who love the movie The Pumpkin Eater, and people who can't take more than a minute of Anne Bancroft and Peter Finch trapped in a misery of chain smoking upper class Brits with truncated emotions.

"So much waste."

I watched The Pumpkin Eater (for the umpteenth time while baking a batch of cookies for my father and waiting for the phone to ring. (The phone did not ring; the cookies turned out well.)

"What will we do now?"

There's the scene in the Beauty Parlor. The scene in Harrod's. The scene in the psychiatrists office. The scene at the funeral. The scene where the smoke drifts back into the cigarette after Anne Bancroft went to bed with her psychiatrist. The scene in the gentlemen's club.

"No. Yes. What do you want to hear?"

The cinematography--it's shot in black and white--is just beautiful. And the acting is just amazing. There's nothing to compare with any movie made in the last twenty five years.

"I have scars I don't want you to see."
"You always had scars."

Ah frailty. We are all so broken, so damaged. Clinging to one another in desparation, even though we only ultimately only cause each other pain.

"You think there's something dirty about sex. You see childbirth as a way to sanctify it."
"I'll think on that."
"You would do well to."

These cookies are really good. And the recipe is so easy. My father is gonna love them.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007



Deep breath.


Second interview for the Project Manager job this morning. Basically a sit down with the other guy who works there who knew my sister.

I was a little thrown at the outset, as Guy Who Knew My Sister started out by referencing the "political activism" on my resume (Oh my God! Does it show? I thought I had sanitized it pretty well!) and recalling another era in Bucks County history: The Pump.

He asked me if I knew Abbie Hoffman.


I met him once.

Y'see, back in the early Eighties, there was a proposal to build a pumping station on the Delaware River, to take water from the river and pump it into a reservoir to serve "water-starved" Montgomery County. This was wildly controversial at the time. For one thing, opponents of the Pump suspected--probably correctly--that the purpose of the water was to serve the nearby Limerick Nuclear Power Plant. (Keep in mind that Bucks County is about eighty miles downwind from Three Mile Island, and the near meltdown there had occurred only a few years before this. Also, Back In The Day, Bucks County was something of a Hippie Haven. And all those unwashed folks in their batik clothing and thigh-high moccassins came out of the woodwork to oppose the Pump.

There were hearings!

There were protests!

People chained themselves to things!

And into the middle of this came Abbie Hoffman. No one was quite sure why or how. Possibly, like many New Yorkers, he thought that Bucolic Bucks County would be a nice place to retire to. Abbie's arrival inflamed the situation on both sides.

Now politically, Bucks County is run by something of a Republican machine. There's this guy named Harry Fawkes who is "in charge" of everything. He decides who's going to run for what office and makes sure they get elected. The Democrates thought that jumping on the Dump The Pump bandwagon might possibly get them the votes to have a Democrat elected to something (anything!).

Now, I was Against being Against The Pump. I thought that it was a non-issue. The "environmental damage" would fall somewhere between minimal and non-existant. And if the Limerick Nuclear Power Plant needed the water, I think it would be in all of our best interests to give it to them. But the Democrats jumping on board struck me as really cynical.

Oh. And Abbie Hoffman was an asshole.

In the restaurant where I worked with my sister, the word spread: Abbie Hoffman was sitting at the bar!

Now my sister had run away from home when she was nineteen to live on a commune with a rock band. So Abbie was kind of an icon for her. Sort of like I'd be if I was told while getting my iced quad venti two pump vanilla light ice latté at Starbucks that, "Oh by the way, some guy named Jeff Stryker is sitting out on the porch." Or something.

So when we got off shift, my sister made a beeline for the bar, with me in tow.

And Abbie Hoffman was an asshole.

Self-important ("Do you know who I am?"), misogynist ("you women are so stupid"), and barely articulate ("the River don't deserve to be run bone dry!"). And after he insulted my sister, he wanted her to pay for his beer ("Who's gonna buy me my next one? How about you honey").

Crazy days in Bucks County.

They built the Pump. The Democrats lost again. Limerick continues to provide our electricity. The Delaware River flows and flourishes and treated us to a series of floods a few years ago. And Abbie Hoffman died of a heart attack about four miles from where I'm sitting and writing this.

And there I was talking about the Pump in a job interview. Luckily, I wasn't pressed on the issue. (I mean really. What else should we talk about? Gun control? Iraq? Medical marijuana?)

Later in the interview, we were talking about politics again, and I think I scored some points.

The Guy Who Knew My Sister mentioned Jim Greenwood, formerly our Congressman. And also revealed that he had been a Republican Township Committeeman.

I told him how when I was a little kid, my special toy was a stuffed donkey. It was a stuffed Eeyore, but we his name wasn't Eeyore, it was Demmie. As in, "Democrat." My family didn't just vote Democrat, they lived it.

On election day in 1980, I was standing at the polls handing out literature to elect Jim Greenwood in his first bid for politial office, representing us in the State Senate. It was the height of the furor over the Pump, and Jim Greenwood was saying pretty much the same things I was saying. So I was working for him.

Oh. And he was running as a Republican.

That night at the polls, our neighbors would approach, say hello to me, look at what I was handing out, and ask, "Do your parents know where you are, Drew?"

The Guy Who Knew My Sister liked that story.

Parenthetically, I've never regretted my support of Jim Greenwood. When he was in Congress, I called him a few times on issues important to me, such as funding HOPWA (the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS Act) and increasing funding for ADAP (the AIDS Drug Assistance Program) so that the then new protease inhibitors would be covered by State drug formularies). And even though I was living in New York City, Jim Greenwood was responsive and remembered me.

But I'm feeling good about the interview.

I'm up against two other guys, and from what was said, they're carpenters and contracter kinds of guys.

But the job involves helping people out when their homes have been hit by fire or flood. And I have this whole resume that's all about dealing with people in crisis. And, I've built cabinets, renovated a brownstone in Brooklyn, and spent eight months and $ 400,000 to renovate a manufacturing building at 25 Allen Street to be the new home for the Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center. And I get the job done.

Oh man I want this job.

I love how they described it: the call comes in, I hit the road, sweeping in to take charge of the situation, managing the contractors.

And get this: I'd be getting a company vehicle. And it'll be a truck!

I've been thinking about getting a replacement for the Bucephalos, my trusty Jeep Liberty. And I've been thinking in terms of something with better gas mileage. "Thinking" is the key word here. Because I've been looking at Ford Mustangs or something like this or this or this.

And I'd be managing construction, not only the field that I've been thinking and dreaming about getting into, but I'd be getting paid for it instead of giving money to Stevens Institute of Technology or Drexel University or NYU. (Although I bet they'd be cool about me picking up some courses here and there and being flexible with my schedule so I could go get some book learnin' to make me better at my job.)

Now, there is a downside.

If I get the job, this could very well mean I don't make it to Inferno this year. I'll ask The Boss about it. Explain to him that I'd be more than willing to take the time off without pay. But I'd be at peace with that. (Especially after the crappy time I had at Inferno last year.)


Deep breath.

So I'll be hearing either way by the end of the week.

So if you're plagued by cramps from keeping your fingers constantly crossed for me for the past week (thank you!), hang in there!

But please don't uncross them yet.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ahhhh... That's Better

Geez Oh Man, did I need the last 30 hours.

Last night, I had a date. This breathtakingly handsome man from Mondo Internet asked me to the movies. He and I have talked on the phone several times over the past few months, really easy and relaxed conversations, with a surprising degree of depth to them. I suggested that we meet up for coffee--just to get a look at each other--and so we did, when I limped up to meet him after my softball game last Saturday.

The movie in question was Hairspray. So yesterday, I made dinner for my father and hit the road, driving up to NYC. I suggested, and he was amenable, to us meeting up for a bite to eat before the movie. We ate at the Dish on 8th Avenue in Chelsea, a place where I've never had a bad meal, although I've never had a great meal. But heck, what more can you ask from a restaurant, really? That Man was waiting for me when I arrived. He's a big guy, friendly, talkative, inciteful, quick witted, and SO easy on the eyes. I really like looking at him, such an interesting face on him, big blue eyes and wide smile.

At the Dish, I ordered buffalo wings and a chicken caesar salad. My wings came out on a plate with a side of bleu cheese dressing, but no carrots and celery. I mentioned this to my waiter, and this was met with a blank stare. That Man and I explained that buffalo wings is something of a classic dish, and it's the signature chicken wings (check!), bleu cheese dressing (check!), and carrots and celery (absent). He called the owner over. We ran through our explanation of buffalo wings again.

Apparently, our waiter would have to make a trip "Downstairs" to fetch me some celery.

Uhhhhh... I wasn't expecting this. Apparently the Dish doesn't do celery. Other than, if memory serves, stalks in bloody marys with brunch. (It's the celery that's important to me, rather than the carrots; I love celery.)

Finally, our waiter returned and with something of a flourish presented me with a little dish of celery chopped so fine you could probably pound it down and make a mousse out of it.

"That's perfect!" I said, "Thank you!"

But, much mirth ensued between me and That Man.

Still with some time to kill, we strolled up and down 8th Avenue on a beautiful summer evening, stopping into a couple of stores to look. I really liked it when the hair on my arm brushed against the hair on That Man's arms.

We were meeting up with some of That Man's buddies for the movies, who turned out to be two nice guys with whom I discussed Pennsylvania, dogs, and the strategizing necessary to go to see a movie in Manhattan. That Man revealed that he had thoughtfully baked chocolate chip cookies for our outing. Woohoo! When I went to see 300 with the New York boys of Leather, there were also home-baked chocolate chip cookies provided. And twice in a row is all it takes: from now on, if I ever see a movie again without home-baked chocolate chip cookies, I'll feel cheated.

So Hairspray is pretty great. Such a fun movie. So well done. The young woman who played Tracy Turnblad--who's only other theatrical experience was being in high school musicals on Long Island, and the guy who plays Seaweed were my favorites in the cast. Along with Queen Latifah as Motormouth Maybelle. And John Travolta as Edna Turnblad totally worked for me. In this movie version, agoraphobia adds a really nice depth to the character that I don't remember from the original movie or the Broadway musical. But I will definitely say that of all the movie musicals I've seen--and I admit I'm not a huge fan of the genre--Hairspray was the best. Or at least the most fun.

And it was really great seeing it with That Guy. Such exuberance! In the seat next to me, he was bouncing around, singing along, clapping, laughing, just unabashedly having a great time.

And in case you don't know, I'll tell ya: Exuberance is Hot. Always.

Give me a man who loves life so much he has to let it show anyday.

After the movie (the chocolate chip cookies were wonderful), our little band headed down 8th Avenue. I was parked on 16th Street, and That Man and his buddy were getting on the subway to go uptown at 16th. I stopped at the Starbucks on the corner for an iced latté for the road home. I gave That Man an warm hug, pressing his strong body against mine. (No kiss, alas, as That Man is suffering from a cold sore. But I bet he's a good kisser.)

I was all kinds of dreamy and punchy on the way home. When was the last time I enjoyed a date so much?

And a realization thinking about The Job Opportunity: one of the reasons that it's stressing me out is cuz I'm such a strong candidate. I've got hella resume and experience; my interview with the Boss went on for an hour and a half, and it was nicely conversational although I think I made a good case about why I'm good for the job; the guy that works there was a friend of my sister; my references rock... You get the picture.

If'n I was a punter, a face in the crowd, then getting the news that they had picked somebody else would be a matter of "yeah whatever, onwards and upwards," but... but... C'mon, Guys! You gotta pick me!

Except, of course, they don't.

But that'll be okay.

I got home, walked Faithful Companion, and went to bed, dreamt, no doubt, about That Man and sunny, integrated Baltimore, got up, and drove up to NYC for softball.

Me and I-78... We got a thing goin on.

This week, our games were played on Field 6 in Prospect Park in the Borough of Brooklyn.

Ah, Brooklyn.

Damn, I love Brooklyn. Saturday shopping on Court Street and Atlantic Avenue, my two rockin' backyard gardens, the laundry carts that make life in the Brownstone Borough possible, the Botanic Gardens, movies at BAM, seeing the Cyclone's play ball after riding the Cyclone out at Coney Island... Sweet livin' in Kings County.

Rather than driving all the way out there, even though that would mean the exhilarating drive across the Brooklyn Bridge, I decided to take the Subway. The F Train! From West 4th Street to 7th Avenue.

Not living here anymore, riding the subway has taken on all the wonder of a trip on the Orient Express for me. All the times and under all the circumstances I've stood on That platform, rode That line... I sat there smiling the whole trip.

And of course, the F Train ride through Brooklyn takes you above ground, spanning the Glorious Gowanus Canal. I used to ride my bike, exploring the Gowanus. Long before I ever set foot in Brooklyn, the Gowanus loomed large in my imagination. When I was in college in Reading, Pennsylvania, the Village Voice humorously suggested that a scary way to spend Hallowe'en would be to visit the Gowanus at midnight, listening for the ghosts of all the mobsters whose bodies had been disposed of therein. And when I moved to Boerum Hill, I smelled the Gowanus before I saw the Gowanus. Efforts were then just starting to clean it up and stop dumping raw sewage in it. Or maybe it was the off-gassing of all of those decomposing mobster bodies.

But if you've ever taken the ride, the view, looking out over the whole borough with Manhattan off in the distance, is pretty nice.

Then the 7th Avenue stop, up the steps, up 9th Street, and into Prospect Park.

Frederick Law Olmstead, best known for his design of Central Park, considered Prospect Park to be his better effort. A "prospect" was a feature of 17th and 18th Century English landscape painting. Surveying a prospect, one sees running water, still water, meadows, and woodlands, all in one panoramic view. And if you've ever walked through Prospect Park knowing this--as I did many years ago when Flatbush Gardener first moved to Brooklyn and invited a posse of Manhattanites out there to explore his new borough of residence--you come through the trees, and there's one of 'em spread out before you: Ah! A prospect!

And sure enough, I entered the park, made my way through the trees around the edge, and there it was: a prospect! (Although this one didn't have any water, but it did have ballfields. And there, off in the distance, the Ball Breakers.

We had two games today, the first one against the Fusion, and the second against the Dragons. These teams vye for the title of my Second Favorite Team in the League. Love'em both! Such good people! Like the Ball Breakers, they both seem committed to having a good time playing softball. The Fusion, you might remember, features the man who should be datin' me instead of hatin' me, since in my catching debut I managed to snatch his tip and get him out. (Sorry!) And the Dragons feature Anna, the pitcher I love love love. She has great spirit, and for no good reason, I can read her pitches so well, as if someone was standing behind her with a big sign reading Ball or Strike yay before they even left her hand. And, to be sure, the Dragons are not without a heapin' helpin' o' the eye candy either.

Alas, because of my torn hamstring (Ow.), I would be playing in neither, just rooting on the bench.

And the Fusion beat us. Bad. My fearless and flawless rooting not withstanding. Soundly and roundly. They straight up played better ball than we did.

Good game, Fusion!

An interesting attribute of Field 6 was revealed: Field 6 is sort of the softball equivalent of the Kite Eating Tree from Peanuts. There are these treacherous divots all over the field, including one just off third base on the way to home. Ever'body was wiping out.

With the briefest of wee little breaks, the Dragons took the field, with the Fabulous Anna on the mound. I was sorely tempted to see about getting into the game, but next Saturday is our final day of play during the season and after that come the playoffs, and I don't want to miss those.

Everything we didn't do in our game against the Fusion we managed to do in our game against the Dragons, and the Ball Breakers were victorious, winning the game with some great hitting and nice fielding. But I think a significant part of why we won was that there was live music in the nearby bandshell (no doubt courtesy of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who's big into bringing live music to Brooklyn, who has been in my home and ate my food back when he was my State Senator, and whom I adore). At one point, the band was playing a cover of "Viva Las Vegas," which lent itself well to singing "Viva Ball Breakers," and so we did. So it must have seemed to the Dragons the the very Borough of Brooklyn itself, from Marty Markowitz on down, was rooting for the Ball Breakers. And how unnerving would that be?

The game over, we headed back to Manhattan, strolling across the verdant fields of Prospect Park under a beautiful blue summer sky. All in all a good day for softball.

Much fun as usual hangin' with the Ball Breakers at Ty's. After pizza and fun, I excused myself. There was a little something I wanted to do before I headed for home.

When we played last week on Pier 40, I noticed that way up there on the third level was the new home of the New York Trapeze School. And I wanted a closer look. I crossed West Street at the bottom of Christopher and headed up Hudson River Park to Pier 40, and found my way to the third level. There, against that blue sky, kids were swingin' out there, swingin' their legs over the bar and letting their arms free, and a few of them even doing a sort of sommersault to dismount. It looked like so much fun I was immediately thinking about how I could arrange to have a Trapeze School New York party.

Too, I couldn't help but notice the smokin' hot man who was giving the folks a push off the platform. I sure wouldn't mind the feel of his hands around my waist, holding me from behind. And it's a small world. You never know.

Inspired, I took out my camera. As usual, I was taking pictures of things like grass growing up through cracks in the macadam of the parking lot, but even an oddball photographer like myself couldn't help but get some shots of the light from the setting sun playing off the Hudson and such. It really was a beautiful day.

A stop at the Starbucks at 10th and Hudson, picking up a copy of the Sunday Times, and I was on my way home.

And it wasn't over. At about 8:30, I was crossing the Thomas Kosciusko Bridge on that extension thingy to the Jersey Turnpike. You climb up out of Bayonne, the NYC skyline in your rearview mirror, up and up and up over Newark Harbor. The sun had set, and the clouds were red on the bottoms and indigo on the top, hanging in a sky of that amazing, indescribable color: yellow, no blue, no yellow, no blue... It just about brought tears to my eyes.

Okay. I'll fess up. Right then, Neil Young singing "Sweet Caroline" came up on rotation on my iPod playlist, and that put me right over the edge and there were indeed tears in my eyes.

I used to feel like I lived a charmed life. Not much bothered me, because I just had this deep down faith that everything worked out fine for me in the end. Against all odds, I found the apartment I could afford, the hot guy called me back, I got that job I wanted, I managed to scrape the money together, I got elected Dorm Council President without even running for the position... Going from Happy Situation to Happy Situation.

But my luck ran out.

Which happens in many a life. Suddenly, you get old. You're not that Bright Young Thing anymore, no longer the Golden Boy. The lights stop turning green, and all the doors don't seem to fly open as you approach. There are, in fact, no guarantees of happiness and success in life. Some people won't like you. And of course, standing behind you, is some Golden Boy, brimming with enthusiasm and glowing with promise.

Ummm... Would you mind standing aside so the nice folks can get a better look at that Golden Boy, to just sort of drink him in for a minute?

Yeah. Whatever.

I want that job so bad. And I'd be good at it. And I'd enjoy it. And it sure would solve all of my financial problems.

But I might not get it. The decision might already have been made to give it to some Golden Boy who walked in the door behind me.

But age offers its little compensation.

Golden Boys sail through life, always thinking of the next party, their minds caught up in what the next Big Adventure might be. A younger me--and, truth be told, not a much younger me--would not have savored the sweetness of this weekend. A great date with a handsome man whose company I enjoyed and who set my imagination ablaze. A return visit to Brooklyn, one of the places I love most on the planet. A summer day of softball, cheering on men I love and who love me. An hour spent wandering alone in the middle of a great city, noticing, noticing... the way the light hits that cinderblock wall, the ghosts of piers, nothing but ancient wooden pilings, where men--so many of them ghosts themselves now--once met for love and sex like the world has never known, how lovely the river looks. And sunset over the oil refineries of New Jersey.

God's Grace. Nothing less than that.

"Yeah, Boss," said the Author of Creation, "Things are tough. And they might get tougher. Let me just throw a little something your way. Here's a weekend filled with sweetness. Enjoy it."

And I sure did.

Thanks, God.

Thank you for the gift of my life.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I am feeling it.

Yesterday after the interview, I gave a quick call to my professional references and got reassurances that they're in my corner and would say good things about me. And I have to admit, I have some pretty solid references. I sent off an email to the guy I interviewed with thanking him for the opportunity, and briefly reinforcing a few of the ways that I'd be just what he's looking for, and listing my references for him.

And I was feeling pretty good. Can't be a bad thing to make a strong showing, stand out from the competition, right?

And then the morning came.


And with the morning came the mail. And with the mail came a notice from my friends at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, just a friendly note to alert me to the fact that my Unemployment Checks are soon to run out.

And I'll be left penniless and abject.

Okay. Not really. More likely I'll get a crappy job with a temp agency. (I'm hoping that there are still temp agencies.)

But I've worked it up in my mind till it's make or break: I get this job or it's ruin.

Not the best way to think about things. Stuff like that'll make you crazy.

And it's not a good strategy. Like men in bars, potential employers can smell desparation, and it doesn't smell like roses.

Be cool. Just be cool.

Like Donald Draper on Mad Men.

Did you see the opening?

Oh man! Tobacco, liquor, moderne interiors, and sharp suits. And those moderne interiors sure make me swoon. Visually, Mad Men totally has me. The writing is a little obvious: just when everything looks hopeless, our boy stands up and says, "Wait! I have an idea!" and Guess What? The day is saved. (Although I eat that up like ice cream.) But there sure were many lines that sparkled. And the characters were compelling.

But the look of the thing. Bee-yoo-ti-ful.

And I wonder if they plan to spring lots of topical references on us to create that verisimilitude? It's set in NYC in the late '50s, and Andy Warhol was busy changing graphic design then. I for one would welcome a Warhol cameo.

And going forward, I'm gonna be channeling some of that '50s cool.


Play it cool.


I think that many of you might thank me for this. So that's what accounts for the sudden popularity of Rugby! Take note though: it's definitely not safe for work.

What I find really interesting is many looking at this would think they're "acting gay." But no. They're not. They're acting like men. That's pure, unadulterated man behavior. Any man who has ever been in an all male environment when the testosterone starts pumping (fraternities, Boy Scouts, gym lockerroom) knows that carrying on like this is inevitable. (Unless there's a closeted homo in the group, who would be the first one to say, "You guys! C'mon! Quit it!" because he's fearful that his head will explode if things go too far down that road.)

But gay men get slammed for having a penchant for whipping it out at every opportunity, not infrequently by Gabriel Rotello other gay men.

There is no shame in being a man.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Treat Yourself!

Summer! Don't we love Summer!

Disconsolate because you don't have an iPhone and want one so bad?

Toss yourself a bone, Baby!

On your next trip to the store, pick yourself up some blueberries. Better get two quarts. One quart just won't satisfy.

Take the time to pick through them, getting all those little stems off and rinse them with cold water. Then put them in a nice little bowl, sprinkle a little sugar on top, and cover them with cream.

So. Good.

So. Unbelievably. Good.

What makes a nice accompaniment? Lime-ade!

Go out and get yourself some limes. Bring them home, juice the limes, either in the juicer or the old fashioned way: cutting them into quarters and squeezing the juice out. Oh! Forgot a step! Take a vegetable peeler and take off the zest of the limes. Keep it in big pieces.

Okay. Now here's the important part. The lime juice has to cure so it won't be bitter. Just leave it out on the counter overnight.

[Omigod! I'm watching Top Chef. I love that Howie and Joey almost got in a fist fight at the start of the competition, and now they've got a total mancrush thing for each other going on. And their food rocks.]

Anyway, after your lime juice cures, you can use it to make syrup. It's easy! Pour the juice into a measuring cup and see how much you have. Then put it in a saucepan on the stove and add the zest. Let it simmer for a little while so it steams but doesn't boil. After about twenty minutes of that (find something to do in the kitchen so you can keep an eye on it), add an equal amount of sugar to the lime juice you had. For instance, if you had 2/3 cup lime juice, add 2/3 cup sugar. Stir the sugar so it dissolves, and that's it. Pour it into a bottle, or you can pick up one of those squeeze bottles for ketchup or mustard at the supermarket. To make lime-ade with your syrup, fill up a pitcher with ice, squirt some syrup over the ice, and add water. (You can make it by the glass, too.) Experiment with the syrup: a little goes a long way. The syrup is also PERfect for making yourself a nice Mojito, too. All you need is some fresh mint and rum.

Oh. The interview this morning went great. I met with the owner of the company, and liked the guy a lot. (Not that way! Okay. Maybe I did a little.) The company is great. It's growing and successful, and I could grow with it. The job is just ideal for me. It's all about projects, each one a new cast of characters and a new situation, new problems to solve. I'd be learning so much. And I'd get to work with Men With Tools, something I grew to love at Wuperior Soodcraft.

Oh man. It would just totally rock.

Now see, I went and got myself all overheated thinking about this job.

I know! I'll cool off with a nice glass of lime-ade.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Light Candles, Cross Fingers, Sacrifice Small Animals

I have a job interview!

And it's for a job I'd really really like to have: project manager for a local company that does home and commercial renovations.

I would love to have this job! It would be like all the best aspects of Wuperior Soodcraft combined with things I've loved about other jobs that I've had.

And, I have to admit it's a relief not to be in the... um... "Human Services" field where I've toiled lo these many years.

I'm particularly hopeful as it seems that they guy that I sent my resumé to went to school with my sister and liked her a lot.

Please please please please please...

Moving To Springfield!


If you go to the website for the Simpsons Movie you can create your own Simpsons avatar!

And here's me...

See you at the Kwik-E-Mart!

Monday, July 16, 2007


Oh. My. God.

So I decided to do a web search on first aid for a torn hamstrung. It seems that there's grade one, where after exercise it sort of feels like a slight cramp (I don't have that); a grade two tear, which hurts right away (check) and causes pain and limping (check and check); and finally grade three, which has all that pain but also a bulge or a depression where the muscle is torn (no, thank the Lord).

And they recommend the RICE protocol: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. I know this as "Ace it, Ice it, Elevate it," and I pretty much did that.

Okay. So far, so good. But then I read this...

As a general rule, grade one Hamstring strains should be rested from sporting activity for about 3 weeks and grade two injuries for about 4 to 6 weeks. In the case of a complete rupture, the Hamstring muscle will have to be repaired surgically and the rehabilitation afterwards will take about 3 months.

Four to six weeks??? I think Not.

C'mon, legs! Are you feelin' the healin'? We got two more Saturdays in the season, and I won't be taking myself out.

On The DL

That would be as in "Disabled List," not "Down Low."

Little about me is on the Down Low.

So Saturday was softball, two games against the Noreasters. We were playing at the fields on Pier 40, the mammoth pier that I always thought was just a parking garage on the Hudson River at the end of Houston Street.

First stop that day was to pay a visit on Bruiser. He has a new apartment and wants to do some painting, and needed some painting advice. His apartment, a duplex, kicks ass. Great space, and he's picked out some good colors. With a two story space, it's gonna be tricky to do the painting, but not impossible. After the painting consult, we took a cab across town. I stopped in to visit with his place of employment, where I've dropped a lot of money over the years, then I grabbed an iced latté and headed to the grass pier at the end of Christopher Street. After taking some sun, I headed down the walkway to Pier 40.

With No Idea about the ordeal that awaited!

Pier 40 is an amazing space, a big industrial box with astroturf covered fields in the middle. But it's not ideal. The three-tiered parking garage that skirts the pier means that nary a breeze off the surrounding Hudson River reaches you, and the astro-turf reflects the heat. So the fields were broiling.

The first game we were shut out. First time ever. Only once did one of our guys manage to make it to third base. They used a short outfielder as their defensive strategy, and Man! Did that ever work well for them. I was on the bench for the first game, so I only had to watch the grueling defeat, and not participate in it.

After a fifteen minute break, we started in on the second game. I was catching (Yay! I have embraced catching). We took the lead early on, and did a not too bad job at holding them with a couple of scoreless innings. And our pitcher/manager did some brilliant strategy, walking a batter to load up the bases so we could get a forced out at any base to end the inning. And it worked! Of course, if it hadn't, and they had gotten a grand slam or something,

I had two at bats. Both of my hits were lame (what the hell??? I'm doing pretty good at my weekly trips down to the batting cages! Just one good hit. That's all I ask. Is that too much to ask?), but I got on base both times thanks to my amazing speed. The first time, I was stranded on base. The second time, the Noreasters had managed to overtake us and take the lead. I got on first, advanced to second, and then, when the next batter got a good solid hit, I headed for third, and there was the third base coach waving me on to home, so I kept on going. But ahead of me, I saw the Noreasters' catcher crouching, looking to get thrown the ball and tag me out!

Hell no!

I gave it everything I had, and heard that awful squish and felt that Ow! in my left leg. Which didn't slow me down at all, and coming across the plate, I was the tying run. And it really hurt. I had torn a hamstring.

I bore up as best I could, and maybe I did too good a job at that, because I got No Sympathy Whatsoever! The focus of my team mates was on the game, of course, rather than on whiny old me, so I can't say that I blame them. Although there was an awkward moment when the inning was over and I told the other guy who catches for us that there was no way that I could do that. This was not Game II of the World Series, and I am not Curt Schilling.

And see what a good job I've been doing at manning up and dealing with the excruciating pain I was feeling? Billy, the other catcher, was like, "Uh... Why?"

But he headed out.

We managed to hold them scoreless, so we were going into the last inning with a tie score. (It just wouldn't be the Ball Breakers without drama like that, huh?)

I came up in the batting order again. When I was on deck, I limped over to Diana our manager and Softball Rules Maven and said, "I don't know that I can do my at bat."

Diana, concerned, explained that I was in the batting order, so it would be an automatic out.

Awww geez.

I had an image of myself lunging and screaming running to first, possibly doing considerably more damage to my leg than I had done already.


But then, none other than Norsky Bear got a great hit, and Papa came running from second to win the game for the Ball Breakers when he crossed home. And I didn't have to bat. Game over. We won.

Okay! Time to pack up my gear, change out of my cleats back to my boots, and head to my car. That only took a couple of hours.

It was my fond hope that a good night's sleep would do wonders for my poor hurtin' leg. On Sunday, I was meeting up with the one and only Leather Egg after years and years and years of us bumping up against each other in one internet forum or another--we're talking way back in the AOL days. He was down here in Bucks county for a get together with bunches of his friends from college. Leather Egg proposed that we meet up in New Hope, but I was able to disabuse him of that notion. There is very little that can compel me to battle the crowds and spend hours looking for parking in New Hope on a summer Sunday, especially when Doylestown is a mere nine miles up the road.

I got up early--a good thing, since it took me a good ten minutes of wincing strategizing to get my boots on. And standing in the shower with the water hitting the back of my thigh felt so good that I didn't want to let go of it. And for a good half an hour, I just didn't.

Leather Egg and I met up at Starbucks in Doylestown--like you didn't see that coming, huh?--and headed across the street to Basically Burgers to get some chow. I was challenged to go beyond the 1/2 pould burger I usually get to go for a one pound hamburger feast. So yeah sure, I'm in. It was good, but I had to call it quits at the 7/8th of a pound burger. Then, probably looking not unlike Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy, Leather Egg and I wandered up the hill to check out the Mercer Museum, then back to Starbucks for iced lattés and a sampling of some cigars (maduro robusto... how did he know???) that Leather Egg had brought along with him. Uhhh... Aged maduro robustos. I tend not to do the whole self denial thing when it comes to cigars, but I have never had cigars as wonderful as these. And I got the last few in the box as a gift.

So today, two days later, my hamstrings still hurt like hell. It feels a little bit better, but I know from experience that torn muscles can take a while to heal.

But of course, in the mean time, I get the great experience of having people ask me, "Oh gosh! What happened?" and me get to give a brave smile and grunt out the answer, "Pulled a hamstring playing softball."

Love that.

Sunday, July 15, 2007



A few months ago, I hit on a sort of interesting cruising website: BigMuscleLeather. If Mondo Recon is the Wal-Mart of gay leather sites, BigMuscleLeather is kind of a "boutique" site, started by two guys named Bill and Andy (I believe), who are apparently fixtures in the leather-bear community in SF, and the founders of BigMuscle.com.

When I first stumbled upon it, I was a little dubious. First off, there's the name, which sort of sounds like it's a translation of one of those long German words comprising a string of nouns, adverbs, and adjectives strung together that ends up meaning something like "washing machine." (This occurs in German because those tribes inhabiting the Rhine Valley never benefitted from the latinization that other european peoples conquered by the Romans enjoyed, thus, their language is closer to the roots of the original Indo-European. Lovers of German contend that makes the language more evocative and more precise, many words having subtle shades of meaning that are readily evident to native speakers. Hence, the popularity of certain German words that have found our way to these shores, such as Schadenfreud ("Shameful" + "Joy") to describe the little twinge of self-satisfied happiness you can't help feeling when hearing of the misfortune of another; Zeitgheist ("Time" + "Spirit," but the use of "spirit" from which we get the Anglo-Saxon word "Ghost,") to mean the "spirit of the times"; and--one of my personal favorites--Weltanschuung ("world" + "view," as in the view you would have from the top of a very tall mountain, seemingly reaching to the ends of the earth, to describe the idiosyncratic way you look at life and your own place in the Cosmos.)

Hence, I usually refer to the site to myself as Grossemuskelleder, or, Big + Muscle + Leather.

[Note: I had a semester and a half of German in college and I didn't do all that well. I just could not get the hang of cases. For no good reason at all, Aus, Außer, Bie, Mit, Nach, Von, Zu sticks in my mind, which are the parts of speech that indicate the use of some case or other. Genitive? Nominative? ¿Quien sabe?. So all that German is probably rife with errors.]

So the other thing that gave me pause about Grossemuskelleder is the fact that you had to be vetted to become a member of the site, doing up your profile for the review of someone--presumably Bill and Andy--and had to pass muster to come on board. The criteria could very well be as simple as, "Yup. I can see his face in the pic and that's a valid email address," but my own crippling self-doubt squirmed to the surface to point out that maybe I wasn't "Good Enough" for GrosseMuslelleder.

And Jiminy Crickets! Grossemuskelleder can sure make you feel inadequate.

Almost universally, the membership comprises leathermen with Really Big muscles. Hulking, beautiful, handsome men. The kind of men that I personally would never have the wherewithal to walk up to and start talking to in a bar. (Although having made the acquaintance of many similar demigods over the years, once you get to know them, many are as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside. Some, of course ...not so much.)

So anyway, here's the thing that I find really really intriguing about Grossemuskelleder: the profiles.

An interesting graduate thesis could probably be written (can you still major in Semiotics at Brown? this would be perfect for that) about profiles on Gay cruising sites.

Here's representation of a profile on Manhunt: "Abercrombie GWM 32 y.o. 5'11" 165 smooth 9 cut vers. Like mutual JO your place after work" followed by some reeeeeally unattractive snarky comment like "fat old guys don't even bother me" or "please prove to me that there all gay men aren't total losers," and all of that would be topped with a couple of pictures of the guys elbow or him standing fully clothed on the Marin headlands overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge with his face pixelated or an indistinct shot taken in the bathroom mirror with the flash obscuring the head.

Then there's a site like BNskin, where most profiles have nothing along the lines of any kind of physical description of the author, merely some description like "inked filthpig cumhound 4 SSorted mateSS" accompanied by a couple of pictures that wouldn't be out of place in Proctology textbooks.

But it's telling that the form that profiles take tend to be similar within a site, but dissimilar from site to site, no? Undoubtedly, guys have multiple profiles on multiple sites, each one adapted in accordance with the lingua franca. So very likely, Abercrombie GWM and inked filthpig cumhound could be one and the same person.

Each site seems to have its own unwritten ethos, and when you're in Rome, you do as the romans do.

Now then, what would you imagine profiles to be like on Grossemuskelleder?

They're poetic. For the most part anyway. There are many many that don't have anything written at all. But it's not uncommon to find, beneath a raft of pictures of the guy that would be worthy of any beefcake calendar, a five hundred thoughtful and thought provoking words he's chosen to describe himself. I've run into quotations of Shelly for pete's sake! But regardless of how well-spoken they are, most of the members of Grossemuskelleder are doing their level best to explain who they are and what they're about.

It's almost an answer to the question, If everybody in the world was "Hot," what would you do to stand out? When everybody is fairly well armored with slabs of muscular pecs, delts, and lats, ironically it becomes the content of your character that matters most. These grosserenmuskelledermänner are all off in a parallel universe, sitting around in togas pondering the Great Questions like they were the School of Athens.

Or not.

Y'know... just one man's opinion.

Friday, July 13, 2007

My Porn Name!

Somewhere I ran across a new formulation to figure out your porn name. I forget the last one, but it didn't work for me.

Anyway, this new algorithm calls for taking the name of your first pet as your first name and the street you grew up on as your last name. That gives me Chippy Tollgate.

I am SO Chippy Tollgate.

"Chippy," by the way, was a french poodle. Chippy hated my guts because he knew me when I was a grasping, climbing, tormenting toddler. Mostly, he was a family pet. Come to think about it, the first pet that belonged to me was a cat named Boots.

Hey... Boots Tollgate! That works, too.

Fragment Of A Never To Be Written Screenplay

[Nick and Roman are in a vintage white 1973 Ford Mustang, driving to Las Vegas on a desert highway. The time is the present. Nick is driving; Roman is in the passenger seat. They have been silent for some time when Roman speaks.]

Roman: Y'know, all I want is a relationship. Why is that so hard?

Nick: No. No, you don't. Nobody wants to be in a relationship. People don't want to be lonely. Or they want to not have to work so hard to get laid. And they think--incorrectly--that a relationship will solve that. Which it won't. You don't get anything from a relationship. Being in a relationship is nothing but a selfless act of altruism.

Roman: So I don't want to be in a relationship?

Nick: The only reason to want to be in a relationship is because you want children. And anyone who wants children is insane.

Roman: Huh. You're right.

Nick: Of course I'm right. And I'm right about this, too: what you want is to fall in love. That's all everybody wants.

[The camera pans to Roman, viewed from outside the passenger window, gazing out the window, looking vaguely confused. Then, a look of recognition crosses his face, and he turns and looks at Nick.]

Oscar Wilde And George Bernard Shaw Discuss Pop Music!!!

Oscar Wilde: Shaw, I say, Green Day are from San Francisco originally. Am I quite correct about that?

George Bernard Shaw: What's that? Green Day? Why yes. I believe so, Wilde.

Oscar Wilde: Ah. I find that to be fitting. Their songs are much like the weather in San Francisco. Wouldn't you agree? If you don't find it to your liking, wait a moment and it will change completely.

George Bernard Shaw: Eh? Oh! Yes, quite! In that it's very changeable. Very witty, Wilde! Very witty! Good show.

Oscar Wilde: I hope someone wrote that down.


You can have your Cartier-Bresson, you can have your Weegee, you can have your Ansel Adams, you can have your Man Ray, you can have your Cindy Sherman, you can have your Bruce Weber, you can have your William Cristenberry, you can have your Diane Arbus, you can have your Alfred Steiglitz, you can have your Robert Mapplethorp.

Just give me Bearfighter. Photography has found its apotheosis in his work. Beautiful. Takes my breath away. Sure as hell wish I had the money to buy some. Absolutely stunning compositions.

I'll just mention here that there are exactly 110 shopping days left until my birthday and if I were to commence my forty-third trip around the sun with Bearfighter's "You Are Mine" hanging on my wall, I would be a verrrrry happy man.

(Oh. And I didn't mention BullmanX in the above list because his stuff rocks, too.)

(The already profound debt of gratitude I owe to the brilliant Jocko is only deepened for his turning me onto this. T'anks, J.!)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"It Is The Patriotic Duty Of Every American..."

Oh no! Lady Bird Johnson died!

I love Lady Bird Johnson.

Her husband... not so much. But next to the contributions of other first ladies, Lady Bird Johnson tops the list in my opinion.

And why?

Because her big deal was "Keep America Beautiful." She worked--effectively--against litter and polution. Remember that crying Indian? That was part of Lady Bird Johnson's campaign. And the highways and byways of this great nation of ours used to be strewn with garbage. And you just don't see that anymore.

And speaking of our highways and byways, Lady Bird got it into her head that all those billboards that used to line the interstates were a blight. She wanted people driving the Eisenhower Interstate System to be able to look out and see hills and plains and trees and farms and not be bombarded with billboards. And she got her husband to introduce legislation to ban those billboards. Legislation that was wildly unpopular. There were many business interests who liked being able to advertise their products on billboards. Business lobbied hard against the ban. But Lady Bird lobbied even harder. And remember, there was no organized lobbying effort on behalf of hills and plains and trees and farms and the unobstructed views thereof. And Lady Bird Johnson prevailed.

So the next time you're cruising along I-80, noticing that little out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere farm and wondering if all those yellow flowers just grew there or if they were planted, you have Lady Bird Johnson to thank that you're having that peaceful easy moment and aren't being subjected to billboards selling you Viagra or Ford Trucks or lottery tickets or Pepsi or whatever.

And, I was fascinated as a wee little one by a commercial featuring the first lady, in which she informed us that, "It is the patriotic duty of every American to go out and plant a tree, a bush, or a shuh-ro-a-buh."

Say what?

I asked my grandmother what a shuh-ro-a-buh might be, and she was stumped. Sometime later, probably when we were watching "Dark Shadows" together, Lady Bird Johnson's commercial came on again.

"She mean's 'shrub,'" my grandmother informed me, "She's from Texas, and those people don't know how to talk down there."

Ever since then, I've referred to hedges and junipers and rhododendrons and such as shuh-ro-a-buhs.

Thanks, Lady Bird Johnson, for the many ways you made our lives better.

The Batter Is Out!

Gay men and lesbians can get married in Massachusetts have their civil unions recognized in several other states, an openly gay man was almost elected Mayor of Dallas and he would have joined a host of openly gay and lesbian elected officials across the country, there are so many queers on television that the Logo channel sort of unnecessary, mainline Protestant denominations are increasingly tolerant of same-sex congregants, non-discrimination laws are on the books in more and more places, and it seems likely that if the Democrats manage not to screw up and take the Presidency next year then gay men and lesbians will be able to serve openly in the U.S. military. Et cetera, et cetera.

So, you might not be wrong in asking yourself, "Are we there yet?"

Are LGBT folks now woven inextricably into the fabric of American life? Have we achieved what generations have fought and died for? I mean, imagine plucking up a member of the Mattachine Society and dropping him into our contemporary culture. He or she would weep tears of joy, no?

But I'd say "no." We're not quite there yet.

Almost, maybe. But not quite.

What we need is an openly gay man playing Major League baseball.

No, really!

At that point, we can all just relax.

We need a gay Jackie Robinson. And we need a gay-friendly Branch Rickey.

The exclusion of Blacks from baseball was a matter of insidious convention: the commissioner exacted a promise from team owners that they would not sign any of the numerous outstanding players from the negro leagues. Branch Rickey, the effusive and whiskey-soaked manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers changed all that when he gave Robinson a contract to play for the Montreal Royals, a Dodgers farm team, in 1946, and the next year brought him up from the minors to play for the Dodgers. And they had an agreement: for three years, Robinson would have to take it. Whatever abuse was heaped on him, he would have to bear it silently, and never, ever respond. And the abuse he faced was considerable, even from his own team mates. And this being baseball, it wasn't just verbal; he was spiked and beaned. But Jackie Robinson bore it all with superhuman dignity. The only response he offered was to play incredible baseball. Rickey's motivations probably had to do as much with money as they did with notions of fairness and justice, but to the American people, Jackie Robinson almost immediately became a national hero. If you loved baseball--and back then, that would be just about everybody--you had to admire the man.

Even today, baseball is the fundamental crucible of the American experience. It's our game, and our gift to the world.

I truly believe that if some obscure rookie third baseman on some Major League team somewhere would mention that he sure found all the traveling during the season to be hard on his boyfriend, the world would never be the same.

Not to say it wouldn't be difficult for him. Particularly when his team played in Philadelphia. (When Robinson and the Dodgers first played in Philadelphia, the Philiadelphia team was so viscious that it united the Dodgers in support of Jackie Robinson. And oh yeah, the Dodgers beat the Philadelphia Athletics that day.) On and off the field, he would be living under a microscope. Overnight he would become a household name, and everybody would have an opinion about him. And so, it would be really helpful if he was a good ball player. And if he wasn't injury prone. "On the disabled list with a groin injury"... Yikes that would be tough. But really, all he would have to do would be to live his life and give 110% on the field. That would be plenty. Every time he took the field with his team, those specious arguments about why we should be second class citizens would crumble one by one.

And call me crazy, but I think that baseball is ready for this.

Last night, I watched the Triple A All-Star Game. The game was played on the homefield of the Abuquerque Isotopes. That's such a great name for a team, and much was made of it. The announcers commented at one point that one particular player probably knew exactly what an isotope was, as he was a graduate of Yale University with a degree in Bio-Chemistry or something.


Not so long ago, baseball players were sort of famous for being not very bright compared to other professional athletes. You were recruited for football or basketball out of college, but not so baseball. You got into the major leagues by giving up your life to minor league baseball, usually right out of high school. If you completed high school. And playing in the minor leagues is a rough time. It's constant travel, and they get traded around a lot, and you get paid something like $800-a-month, no matter how good you are. When you're not playing, you're either practicing or sleeping. And less than five percent of minor league players ever get called up to the majors. It is, and it's considered to be, a life of sacrifice. All for baseball. So no matter how good you are, if you have a college degree--from Yale no less--and you're employable, you've gotta really Really REALLY love baseball to decide to give up five years of your life to play it. But increasingly, that's just what's happening. Thus, the minor leagues and the major leagues are now boasting a more educated--and hopefully somewhat more enlightened--group of men. Joe Valentine, a pitcher for the Cincinatti Reds, was reared by two women who have been in a relationship for thirty years. No one is much concerned about Valentine's non-traditional family, only his performance on the mound. I don't think that would have been the case twenty years ago.

Still need convincing that baseball is our rubicon? Check this out. Gay nights at San Diego Padres and also, according to Jimbo, at Washington Nationals games, have been besieged by anti-Gay protesters. And fairly large protests, too. Probably more than show up at Pride parades our city council hearings and such. And as the quotes from the anti-gays seem to indicate, what gets them particularly exercised is the admixture of baseball and gay. And the fact that Their Sons will be there at the game.

Now I think that these people have some vague memory about Jackie Robinson. Because part of the Jackie Robinson phenomenon was that regardless of how mom and dad might have felt about "those negroes," little Tommy couldn't help but be amazed when Jackie Robinson stole home. Very quickly, Robinson became one of the most popular players in history.

Those Christians know what's up.

There we are, bottom of the ninth. Our guy's team leads by one run, but the opposing team--let's just say it's the Phillies--has two men on base at first and second. Two outs. Howard is at the plate, and he's done pretty well against this pitcher. First pitch; Ball One. Second pitch, a nice cutter, get's a strike. The count is 1-1, the third pitch, Howard hits it! A line drive to right, and Oh! Our Guy at Third dives for it and while he's still sliding on his belly makes a perfect throw to First. Howard is out, and Our Guy's team wins! Great play by Our Guy!

Everybody who's supporting Our Guy's team is on their feet, cheering wildly. If it's an important game, his team mates are out of the dugout to carry him off the field. All those fans, the dads, the moms, and especially the kids, are cheering for a cock-sucking homo who made a great play.

Trust me. America will never be the same after that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Hanged Man And All His Friends

It's my latest obsession. Tarot cards!

At the Doylestown Book Store, I bought the whole Tarot outfit, including a deck of Sharman-Caselli Tarot cards, a book explaining the cards written by Juliet Sharman-Burke, and a deck of cards that I can "color" myself. (I'll be skipping the part where I color my own Tarot cards.)

The cards are beautiful. They images are suggestive and evocative.

To the best of my recollection, I've had my cards read twice. The first time was the summer before my freshman year in college. Huh! I remember what I was wearing! This bright, turquoise Izod-style shirt. I went to Madame Edith, who plied her trade in New Hope. I think my "question" was something along the lines of, what the hell should I do with my life? I guess I told Madame Edith that I was wildly ambivalent about going off to college, because that's where she focused her attention. She told me that there was a male authority figure in my life ("Uhhh... I guess my dad?") who was telling me to go in one direction. So far, so good. But then, she said that there would come a "Dark Woman" who would try to seduce me from this path. And if I allowed that to happen, then my life would be ruined.

So Madame Edith pretty much missed the boat there. The only "Dark Woman" in my life then would have been Sade. I kinda liked her music, but I didn't wonder if she had any insights to offer about going off to a Catholic liberal arts college in Reading or keep cooking in restaurants and maybe get my own apartment. However, once I was in college, I used to joke with my friend Julieanna the Opera Singer, who was Black, that she was the Dark Woman who secretly wanted me to drop out of school.

So no.

The second time was a friend of my first boyfriend in NYC, this woman named Solange. (Is "Solange" the coolest name or what?) I don't remember a single thing she said. The boyfriend was deeeeply into being a Pagan. So it was all about shopping trips to Enchantments, this witch store on (I think) 9th Street in the East Village and casting spells and figuring out which deities required what color candles lit when and whatever. I was pretty much not down the whole Wiccan thing. ("I'm an Episcopalian!") This was also before I dealt with my passive-aggressive tendencies in therapy--I'm not perfect, but I'm sure a hell of a lot easier to deal with--so I imagine that while Solange was reading my cards, I was smoking and distractedly looking around the room. And not hearing any of it. Plus, I was still pretty much an Existentialist back then, so I saw prognostication as undermining human freedom. (*sigh* Remember your twenties? When you had things like that figured out?)


Why now? What gives?

Well, I'm not sure. Maybe it's because of the whole Shaman thing I've been rolling with over the past few years.

But mostly it's about dreams.

I love it when somebody says to me, "I had the strangest dream last night." I'm pretty good at interpretation of dreams. Five years of Freudian psychoanalysis will do that for ya. And I love when I just hit it, and the person is like, "Whooooaa... Yeah!" and is suddenly seeing life differently.

So that's how I'm thinking of the Tarot cards.

The images in dreams are mostly arbitrary, but we are creatures who like to think our lives have meaning. Analysis is just telling yourself the story of yourself. The interpretation of dreams is all about that. The dream is a story. What does the story mean? Why... it's a story about me!

That kind of thing.

So a spread of Tarot cards could be like a dream. "What does it mean?" And maybe, "Hey! It's about me!"

The images of the Tarot certainly lend themselves to that.

So just like I know that when you dream of a house, it can be interpreted as having something to say about a relationship ("And the house collapsed? Ooooh. That's bad."), learning what the Five of Cups might mean can have similar results.

And as a person who usually doesn't remember his dreams, learning the Tarot will sort of give me dreams on tap.

Monday, July 09, 2007

And No, I Won't Join Your Fruity Little Club

BadFaggot, whose weblog I love, is selling many Monty Python episodes on VHS tapes. Although some episodes are missing, he reports that among the included Python segments will be the Spanish Inquisition.

I quickly clicked on Post A Comment so I could wittily add, "Why... I wasn't expecting the Spanish Inquisition..."

I had forgotten, although I was quickly reminded, that BadFaggot maintains his weblog courtesy of LiveJournal, and LiveJournal is a Fruity Little Club.

I hate LiveJournal!

For the most part, unless you're LiveJournal user, you can't post to a LiveJournal weblog. And some LiveJournal users even limit posts to people who they have deemed to be their LiveJournal "friends."

At times, I've considered just opening up a LiveJournal account so that I'd be able to post comments to LiveJournal weblogs, and have my sole entry in my LiveJournal be "Go here now."

But not. I'm not going to do that because... I don't want to join your fruity little club!

I hate LiveJournal.

Way back in the day, when I started SingleTails, for a while it seemed to me that I was the only leatherperson who was blogging. There were a lot of other homos who were blogging way back then, but I sometimes felt like I was treated as an interloper--the Cool Kids Table In The Cafeteria kind of thing--because I was kinky. And I was thrilledThrilledTHRILLED when I happened upon the previous incarnation of Forge Lives because it meant I wasn't the only one. And Forge devised this whole 100 Leather Bloggers thing, whereby if you were kinky and had a 'blog, you could put this little symbol thing on your front page so we would Know One Another, and the goal was to have as many as 100 kinky bloggers out there on the Internets. girlfag still has the 100 Bloggers thing on her excellent (Not LiveJournal) weblog. And when someone would send me email or post a comment along the lines of "Wow! Great blog! It's great to read someone kinky on the web" (yeah, this was a long time ago), I'd encourage them to start their own weblog, dangling the promise of the 100 Bloggers Project before them. Most of them went by the wayside after an initial "Well gosh, I'm not quite sure what to write here, but this is what I had for breakfast this morning..." kind of post, but many live on and thrive and I love to read them still.

And then along came LiveJournal. Sucking all that budding talent into their Fruity Little Club.

So fine.

You all go off and enjoy yourselves. And it's not even like I won't ready your weblogs anymore. But since I can't post a comment, you'll never know whether or not I'm reading you or not, will you?

But let's be clear about one thing: I won't join your Fruity Little Club.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Lucky indeed!

I'm not one to believe in Luck, unless it's the dumb variety, which has gotten me out of a number of scrapes over the years.


Well, let's recount.

Yesterday morning found me whipping up vanilla sauce and créme anglaise. The vanilla sauce was way easy and had a great result (equal parts water and sugar boiled for three or four minutes, then vanilla extract added). The créme anglaise threw me a little bit, since the recipe I was using didn't quite give information about when it was done, just said, "and cook." It didn't seem thick enough to me, so I kept wisking and cooking. Then, I decided to wisk it in an ice bath, and that made it thicken up nicely. And then it set. As custards do.

This meant that although it tasted great, the look of it wasn't what I was hoping for, no creamy expanse of golden cream atop my trifle, but sort of globby and unspreadable.

Ah well, I thought, let's just conceal that with whipped cream! And so I did. And on top of the cream, I made a nice rosetta arrangement of peach slices, peach juice, gingersnap cookies cut in half, and vanilla sauce. I walked Faithful Companion, bid adieu to my dad, and headed over to Pottstown.

When I arrived, there were only a handful of guests there, some I recognized from years past or other contexts, and some who were knew to me. A few hours before dinner, Man Of Discipline rolled up. I introduced him around, and then settled in and passed the afternoon talking. Such the nice group of guys. Dinner consisted of grilled italian sausage, and it totally hit the spot. After dinner came dessert--the moment I had been anxiously awaiting--for weeks now--and sure 'nuff, the ginger peach trifle was well received. "You made this yourself?"

Yes I did.

More talking. I enjoyed a cigar. The light started to fade. But just as I went and fetched a bottle of water and was preparing to suggest to Man Of Discipline that we head up the hill to the barn, he announced that he had to leave, wanting to get started before he was traveling in the dark on unfamiliar roads, and a buddy of his was waiting for him at the gay campground where he's spending the weekend. (Not that gay campground, the other one.)


Or not.

Luck deigned to intervene.

I saw him when he arrived. Medium height, shaved head, wearing a lightweight sweatshirt unzipped to show off his nice pecs. He looked like a prizefighter returning to the gym where he had first learned to box. Nothing tentative about him as he descended the steps to the patio smiling. Just confidence, his face glowing with anticipation. Way sexy.

And he also reminded me a little bit of Harry Goldenblatt on Sex And The City, who made Charlotte York into Charlotte York-Goldenblatt. Of all the men who have appeared on Sex And The City over the years, I think Harry is the hottest. In one episode where they went to the beach, Charlotte is aghast when Harry, cigar sticking out of his face, removes his shirt to reveal the Hairiest Back Ever. I, on the other hand, just about creamed my pants.

After Man Of Discipline bed us all goodnight, I tarried for a bit, enjoying my own cigar, then headed up to JPZapper and DogTopper's well appointed barn.

"Well-appointed"? No. That doesn't quite cover it. "Fabulously outfitted dungeon" is closer to the mark. A few scenes, including a quite electrifying display by Master of Mirage were underway.

Prizefighter guy and I were on each other immediately. What followed was a very hot bout of sportsex with him in the sling and me in the saddle. He looked So Damn Hot looking up at me, urging me on. And his hole felt even better. So sweet!

I haven't been to many orgies. Of the few that I've been to, I can't say I've quite gotten the knack of it. But last night I made some improvement in this area. At an orgy, it's like a cocktail party: it's considered bad form to pair off with one other guest and the two of you head to the kitchen and sit and talk together about 19th Century French poetry. Uh uh. You mingle. You do your best to have quality interactions with as many folks there as possible. Emphasis on the quality. So Prizefighter and I ended things a little early, with both of us wanting more of each other (and not before I put him up against the St. Andrew's Cross and beat on his beautiful meaty bubble butt till it was nice and red... fukken WOOF!). We exchanged numbers.

And then came the clearest indication that Luck just might have something to do with it...

Me: I like you. A lot. Do you give a good backrub?
Prizefighter: I'm a massage therapist.


Cue the brass band.
Watch my eyes spin around before coming up 7 7 7, like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
No way!

To renew myself after Prizefighter, I headed for the hot tub. I was alone when I got there. I sprawled out, resting my head on my folded arms floating on my belly. I could watch, but not be seen. And that was kinda cool, seeing men moving among the various outbuildings in various states of undress and dishevelment.

And then I heard fireworks.

I looked up, and through the trees, I saw fireworks. Pottstown was apparently doing their fireworks show that night. And I, sitting in a hot tub, got to watch.

Fireworks. In a hot tub.

I love fireworks. (I still haven't forgiven The Baron for making me miss the fireworks for Gay Pride in NYC.) And, as even the most casual reader will know, I love hot tubs.

What the hell are the chances? I'm soaking in a hot tub and I get to see a fireworks display???

It had to be...


When I headed back to the barn, I took note of this big built beautiful man with innocence in his eyes, shyly holding back from the festivities. I cunningly circled like a shark, thinking that a direct approach would startle him. Out on the deck, I introduced myself.

And he was a sweetheart. From South Jersey.

What the hell is it about South Jersey? Do they put something in the water there? I have a total soft spot in my heart for men from South Jersey. Think about that guy you know from South Jersey. He's guileless, kind-hearted, surveying the dark and malevolent world we live in with openness and wonder, obviously seeing something very good there that the rest of us somehow miss. Right? Isn't he? It's amazing! They're all like that.

And Mr. South Jersey was no exception. He and I talked out there on the deck. About work. About growing up. (We both agreed that everybody has a bad childhood, it's all about how well you live your life as an adult.) About working out and the gym. (He hates crunches and never does abs either.) And about Jesus and God and such.

And it was while we were having a theological discussion that he absentmindedly reached out with both hands and tweaked my nipples. And we went at it.

After a time spent on the creaky ol' bench out on the deck, I suggested we move inside the barn, so we did. The space available which best suited our purposes was a wrestling mat folded up and stacked against the wall out of the way. We collapsed on it and spent the next hour or so grappling around with each other, kind of having sex like two fifteen year old boys. Luckily, our folded wrestling mat was right next to a... ummm... Convenience Station, y'know, a table with a selection of lubes offered. So pretty soon both of us were sticky with glycerin.

And then there was a weird thing.

This... this... guy... he sort of crouched over us, kind of joining in, kind of just observing from really up close. And he was mumbling to himself, Rain Man style, delivering an inner monolog of his own stream of consciousness, in part offering commentary on what was going down with me and Mr. South Jersey ("yeah just lying all over each other, got tattoos, yeah all inked up, yeah giving and getting, yeah"), but interspersed with a kind of Dada free association: "and Street People come in the door, and they see us and they're afraid because we're Masculine."

I've seen the best minds of my generation... Et cetera. Et cetera.

Mr. South Jersey, being from South Jersey, took it all in stride, of course. Glancing at me now and then with a look of "Huh. How about that?" So Rain Man just sort of contributed an odd background motif to what we were getting up to. And then he moved on.

Our wrestling subsided into a more casual holding and massaging. I drifted off to sleep once or twice, resting my head on Mr. South Jersey's big pillowy pecs.

Time to call it a night.

I thanked Mr. South Jersey for our time together, put my clothes back on, bid goodnight to my hosts and thanked them for having me (DogTopper: "But I haven't had you yet!"), got in my Jeep, and headed for home.

What a great day.

Lucky me!