Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The "F" Word

I admit it, I'm one of those people who think it's perfectly okay for one faggot (me) to call another gay person with whom I'm friendly, a "faggot."

For decades I've likened it to the way some blacks talk to other blacks, referring to each other in the conversation by casual use of the "N" word.

I believed that both oppressed groups would co-opt the hurtful words and, by expressing them often, and with love, the words would become "defused" of their hurtfulness and, instead and in time, become playful expressions of care and concern by the very oppressed minorities they were originally meant to hurt.

I used to imagine a bright, shiny world of someday when one of my black friends would be able to see me on the street and call out, "HEY, FAGGOT!" to which I would gush in response with, "YO, NIGGER!" and we'd fall laughing and hugging into each others arms.

Yeah, right, fat chance.

The closest thing we have to that sort of blind camaraderie is on the comedy series Scrubs. "Hey, Brown Bear!"

And, of course, it's dramatic antithesis on Grey's Anatomy. "FUCK YOU, FAGGOT!"

Let's face it. Everybody could stand to get a sense of humor. But we also need to develop some stress-management techniques that don't include outbursts that denigrate an oppressed minority.


And Now for Something Completely Different

And speaking of gay bars... check out my friend Steve Schalchlin's web-site today for his piece on "Marie's Crisis", a cozy piano bar in Greenwich Village which, in the 1870's, became my "home away from home" when I first moved to New Yawk City. I loved hanging around there from 1978-1980. It was a wonderful time (lots of alcohol but pre-alcoholism).

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Waitin' For the Shuberts

I dropped a little e-mail to the "help" line at Telecharge (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Shubert Organization) through which I'd purchased the ticket for "Spamalot" which I was supposed to see last Saturday.

I included in the e-mail their original confirmation e-mail to me of my purchase and a complete copy of my blog from yesterday.

I've yet to hear back from them.

Frankly, I don't expect to hear back from them.

Still, hope springs eternal.

Monday, January 29, 2007

PO'ed at the Theater

I attempted to see "Spamalot" at the Shubert Theater in New York on Saturday. From what little I saw of it, it seemed funny.

I'm sure it would've seemed a lot funnier if I'd actually been able to sit in a real seat, with an unobstructed view of the stage. Which is what I thought I was getting when I plunked down over a hundred dollars for the seat.

I got to the theater about 1:20 p.m. for the 2:00 p.m. matinee. Theaters in New York typically open their doors about a half hour prior to curtain. And, indeed, that's what they did. I knew where my seat was located. I'd seen it on the seating chart when I ordered it over the internet. Nowhere on that website did it mention anything about the peculiar nature of the seats. By which I mean, that the seats were designed for 1913 asses and legs. Oh, I had some idea that the seats might be a tad smaller than the ones in newer Broadway houses, but I had no idea just how bad it was going to be. And I even had an aisle seat! I thought I'd be able to swing my legs out into the aisle, if I found that the seat in front of me was a tad too close for comfort.

Well, the people in front of me might as well have been sitting in my lap. Worse, I couldn't swing my legs to either side because there were these "rails" instead of armrests, which protruded out so far that I was forced to sit straight-legged in my extremely narrow seat.

That seat, G114 in the Mezzanine, was without a doubt the most uncomfortable seat it has EVER been my misfortune to have been sold.

I immediately told the ushers in the Mezzanine that I couldn't fit, front to back, in the seat. My femurs are simply too long. In the airline business this is known as "pitch." Even the worst seat on an airliner I've flown paled in comparison to the pitch of the Shubert seats.

The Mezzanine ushers told me that the only solution was to put a chair in the area BEHIND the rail on the mezzanine level, where I could view some of the show through a handrail, with half the stage (the upstage half) being blocked out by the low overhang of the Balcony level, above us.

I paid a Hundred and Eleven Bucks for that? They then suggested I should go (I SHOULD GO???) downstairs and tell the head usher, Susan somebody or other, about it. I did that. She disappeared out into the box-office lobby for about five minutes and then came back to tell me what I already knew. The show was a sell-out. There was nothing else available. The chair in the aisle was the only option.

So that's where I wound up, sitting on a chair (lots of legroom, I'll give 'em that!) behind a rail, unable to see upstage, trying to enjoy (HAH!) the show.

Oh, and the minute the lights went up for intermission, some other usher came over and practically grabbed the chair out from under me. There's a bar on the mezzanine level and they didn't want ME "cluttering up" the valuable drinking space where people who'd overpaid for no-name liquor could enjoy their booze.

It was not a pleasant day.

I will never set foot in the Shubert Theater again.

The Shubert Organization (no longer run by the Shuberts) will, undoubtedly, take refuge behind the "landmark status" of the theater to plead that "there's nothing we can do" about the dismal seats in the theater.

Perhaps not. But there is very much they CAN do about warning an unsuspecting public that the seats in the Shubert were NOT built to contemporary standards and that ticket purchasers should be aware of the fact that the seats may be quite uncomfortably small for the AVERAGE theatergoer and probably unusable by tall and/or large theatergoers.

So here's a big raspberry to the Shuberts who, by the deliberate sin of omission, intentially mislead an unsuspecting public into purchasing unusable goods.

Kiss my Femurs, Shuberts!

Friday, January 26, 2007

There's No Business Like Show Business...

I'm seeing "Spamalot" tomorrow. For those of you who don't know, that's the Broadway Musical version of a compendium of Monty Python skits, with music added, based mostly on their movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

I've seen a lot of theater lately. I'm going to see a lot more before I'm done, too. Over Christmas vacation I saw "The Drowsy Chaperone" and "The Little Dog Laughed." I'm seeing four more shows (at least) over the next five months.

I love the theater. So much so that, once upon a time, I was a member in good standing of the Screen Actors Guild, Actors Equity Association and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. That was before alcoholism took my dreams away, and I threw away the tools for achieving my dreams.

I don't know whatever possessed me, but a couple of weeks back I called SAG to find out just what it would take to get back into their good graces [see: "Manna From Heaven" - January 9]. It turns out that all they want is a little letter of explanation as to why I stopped paying them dues 11 years ago... along with a Money Order for $960.00.

Today I sent them a letter explaining what happened (I'm a recovering lush) and enclosed that money order, as requested. Now it's in God's hands and the hands of the Membership Review Committee.

If my petition for reinstatement is accepted my plan is to next approach the membership committees of AEA (Equity) and, finally, AFTRA. It shouldn't cost nearly so much to play "catch-up" with them because SAG is my "parent union" (the 1st acting union I joined). The rules are (or at least were) that once you'd ponied up to join the parent union, you'd only have to cough up half that amount to join each subsequent acting union. And one's quarterly dues were "full-freight to the parent, 1/2 that amount to each subsequent union."

I don't know whatever possessed me to do this. It's not like I'm planning to jump back into show business. I guess it's because I'd just like to be ready... just in case I ever change my mind and decide to do it.

As I said in my letter to the committee, there was a time when I was very proud to be member of the Guild. I'd worked hard to get that membership originally and I'd like nothing more than to be a member, in good standing, once again.

The members of my morning recovery get together all think this is marvelous, and are very excited for me.

God seems to be pushing me in the oddest directions lately. People are cropping up in my life to whom I can be of real service. Other people are cropping up who are being of real service to me.

I'm encouraged and encouraging. I'm loved and loving. I'm needy and needed.

I'm experiencing feelings I never thought, in a million years, I'd ever be capable of experiencing.

It must be getting close to my sobriety anniversary. We drunks start getting bat-shit crazier than usual around that time every year.

Yeah. That must be the answer! (and thank you, God!)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Beginning of the End?

Don’t look now but George W. MyWayortheHighway and Queerfathering Cheney have totally blown our carefully cultivated worldwide illusion of Totally Awesome and Utterly Invincible American Military Might. In over six years of looking everywhere but where he is we haven’t found Osama. However, we have managed to start a war where none was needed and to kill lots of American youngsters in our arrogantly misguided neocon-inspired effort to Democratize the UnDemocratizable and to civilize the Uncivilizable! YOU GO, USA! (preferably home)

Did you know that right now, in Davos Switzerland, there are serious discussions underway about what life is going to be like in the world in the Post-American Age? Those braniacs see it coming. The End of the American Empire. How long did we last? 62 years since the end of WWII? Rome managed a few centuries longer.

Don’t kid yourselves. Dubya and Dipshit see it coming, too. But to ensure that the masses (gee, this is sounding more like Rome every day) are being kept constantly entertained (ignore those invading Visigoths currently attacking the city gates and occasionally lobbing fireballs over the walls!!!), the ruling family throws raw meat to the crowds in the form of hot button non-issues, like who’s getting more blowjobs than you are (queers, of course) and how those sexually sated blowjobbers are threatening the very foundations of the nation (blah, blah, blah).

When I was a kid, we were God’s Chosen People, the High and Mighty United F*CKING States of America. So if we were so high and mighty how come I had to spend so much time “ducking and covering” or running out into the hall and sitting on the floor, facing the wall, all scrunched up with my back to the impending nuclear blast? I never heard about little Soviet kids having to do that. Maybe the Soviets weren’t nearly as paranoid as we were. Or maybe the Soviets didn’t feel the need to scare the living shit out of their little kids the way we did. Or, maybe they just didn’t give a rat’s ass if all their children fried in a nuclear holocaust (and no, I don’t believe that). Or, maybe, even then we were just putting on "shows" for the benefit of the great unwashed masses out there, so they wouldn't ask too many questions about the way their money was being spent by the military-industrial complex that General Eisenhower had warned us about. A military-industrial complex which has secretly ruled this country ever since World War II.

It is my personal belief that history will judge this administration to have “blown it” for America. I believe that George W. Bush will, in time, be vilified in our history books as the Worst President the United States of America ever had. I believe that America, like Judas, sold it’s salvation for a lousy 30 pieces of silver in the form of tax cuts.

I am one of the most optimistic people I know. Others also think so. I take no joy in writing this screed, but I absolutely believe every single word of it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Joys of Singlehood

Okay, I admit it. I'm a confirmed bachelor. It's not just that I'm not looking, but I've actually sworn off looking.

It's complicated, but I was so emotionally beat up by my 15 year long love/hate (mostly the latter) relationship, while I was still in the midst of it, that I stopped even sizing up potential sex partners sometime in the early 80's.

The AIDS crisis contributed to that, of course. It became rather dangerous to entertain thoughts of "flings" along about 1983 or so, so that by 1985 I no longer wondered what handsome guys looked like with their clothes off. Oddly enough, it was about that time that my drinking really started to escalate.

I eventually escaped that relationship (1994) and dove straight into the bottle (1994-1998), started to get sober in 1998 (where you're told NO RELATIONSHIPS FOR A YEAR) and, slowly, began to realize that I wasn't really that interested in repeating past mistakes and especially not interested in taking any more emotional risks with myself.

And these days, every time I find myself thinking, "gee, wouldn't it be nice???..." I always come to the same conclusion. I already have one useless slab of man-meat cluttering up my apartment. Me. Do I really need another one? No.

Then I try to look to my friends and family, and try to see their marriages/relationships at work and I still come to the conclusion "HOLY CRAP. THERE, BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD, GO I!!!!"

So that doesn't work.

Then I look around at the available, gay, sober dating pool (and there ain't much) and I think, "THEY'RE ALL SICKER THAN I AM!!!" (we have several cute axioms for this: "dating in recovery is like fishing in polluted waters" or "for every nut there's a screw!"), so that kind of doesn't work.

And that leaves the worst of all possible worlds, looking to date "civilians" or, as we in recovery like to call them, "earthlings."

Problem number one with that is that I'll have to explain absolutely everything ("Yes, honey, I DO have to go to a meeting every single day of the week, including Saturdays, Sundays, holidays and vacations and yes, I DO talk about us there, so get over it already.") which they still won't really understand.

Maybe I really do want a relationship. Maybe what I really want is to not have to go through all that "stuff" that couples go through in the first, oh, 30 years of their relationships.

Maybe what I really want is to still be living with my first boyfriend, Rick.

If I hadn't been a drunk, and so self-serving and naive at the time, in October of this year he and I would've been celebrating our 35th anniversary.

There's not much joy in that particular regret. But I sure hope he's happy, no matter where he is or who he's with. He deserves it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Drs. McDreamy, McSteamy & McFagbash

Is there anyone left on the planet, over the age of six, who hasn't heard all the gory details regarding "Grey's Anatomy" star Isiah Washington's "issues" regarding gay people?

For all the flapdoodle in the press and on the internet, nobody, and I mean NOBODY, is asking the salient question. How in God's name did he wind up in Show Business?? Did it NEVER occur to him that the theater is absolutely crawling with sodomites? Did he actually make it to the point where he got a recurring, leading role on a major television show without ever ONCE encountering a "Friend of Dorothy's?" Did it only recently dawn on him that there were cocksuckers and fudgepackers in the industry? HOW FRIGGIN' STUPID IS THIS DUMB SOB?

The whole hullabaloo reminds me of an interview with a member of the US Air Force, early in the days of the Clinton Administration when the idea of issuing an Executive Order ending discrimination against gays in the services was being seriously floated, who actually said, "Well, if they do order it I won't stand for it. I'll resign my commission and go to work for a civilian airline." Oh, yes. The travel industry is a fine place to avoid contact with flaming queens. It was clear that that dope had never flown from coast to coast aboard American Airlines. NOW BOARDING DENIAL, PARTY OF ONE!

What won't work, and everyone already knows this except Isiah Washington, is the "new leaf" strategy. All of this window dressing of publicly kissing and making up with his castmates, and loudly publicized meetings with GLAAD representatives is, as all the grownups in the room know, just window dressing until and when such time as the ABC lawyers can, in careful cahoots with the marketing and sales departments, pull the legal plug on Washington's Ass without fear of a) losing too many rating points and b) getting sued. There is "plot-line" to be played out. I'm sure the powers that be at ABC will twist all the talent's arms to get them to "make nice" with each other through the end of the season, after which, during the summer hiatus, Washington's character will "die in a hideous plane crash" while he is on a humantarian trip to save somebody or other in the jungles of Brazil. Or something like that.

Soaps have been doing this shit for years. It's a no-brainer.

Did no one ever explain to Mr. Washington that in Hollyweird you have to kiss a lot of ass to get and keep your career? And that includes a lot of queer butt?

As Mr. Washington has discovered and will continue to discover, there is such a thing as the "Gay Mafia."

Monday, January 22, 2007

If Isn't One Thing, It's a Mother.

I have a stepmother. She's not an evil or wicked stepmother. In fact, as stepmoms go, she's really good.

I didn't really know her until I was all grown up, though. Then, in the 80's, I really got to know her because I'd spend a week every year alone with her at the family beach house down on the Delaware shore. She was (and is) lots of fun. We'd go out to dinner a couple of times and she'd get pretty looped on a single cocktail. My drinking hadn't yet progressed to the uncontrollable phase, so I still could be "good" for a little while every evening.

But that was then, and now is now. For the past six years or so I'd fly down to Florida every President's Day weekend for an extended 4 or 5 day "mini-vacation" with she and my dad, at their winter quarters near Ft. Myers. As much as they'd want me to come, though, I could tell that it was getting increasingly strenuous on them to have a house guest for any length of time.

Then, last year, my dad and I, on the very last day of my visit, got into a minor contretemps over a non-existent issue. I asked dad, nonchalontly, so I thought, that "if I had a boyfriend, would it be okay if I brought him down with me?"

Well, I might be able to have a boyfriend, and I might be able to bring him to Florida, but we would most definitely NOT be able to stay together under my dad's roof.

Now, before you go charging off in all directions on this, be aware of the fact that there isn't room to swing a cat in my folks' "double-wide." I sleep on a fold-out mini-sofa on the sun-porch of the place. There wouldn't be room for anyone else on that cot, believe me. But, still, we were exploring theoreticals, not practicals.

Naturally I immediately copped a resentment against my father. He was a homophobic heathen, I thought. I'll never darken his door again. Yada, yada, yada, high-horse, etc.

Nothing more was said about it, I was leaving on a plane to come north a few hours after that and it would be a whole year before the non-existent non-issue would become an issue (in my mind) once again.

Then, in November, something came in the mail. It was an invitation, by a former summer intern of mine from my Wall Street days, to attend his upcoming wedding in Las Vegas... over President's Day weekend! I WAS OFF THE HOOK!!!!

Except, going to Las Vegas for a recovering drunk is never a good idea. Even though there is some kick-ass sobriety there.

Then, something else came up and, it turns out, I've booked myself to attend something called a "roundup" (which is a 3-day event for recovering drunks like myself, who are members of the LGBT community), to be held, where else, at the Delaware shore over, you guessed it, President's Day weekend. So I signed up for that.

So, last Thursday, when I got an e-mail from my stepmom wondering if I was coming this year, I wrote back that I wasn't, I'd gone and made other plans.

Now, this is the cute part. She wrote back with all the nonsense a mother tries to pull with some kid she actually raised. "Oh, this is so disappointing... what will I tell your father?.... we were counting... who knows how many more years?..." etc., etc., etc. Like that'll work. She forgets that she doesn't get to push my buttons because she didn't install them.

I reject guilt as being a tool of organized religion and birth mothers to control and manipulate their "children". It serves no other purpose than that.

She's going to have to come up with something better than guilt to get me to come down there for yet another tour of Ding Darling (the wildlife refuge) or another "Early Bird" dinner special at one of the half dozen restaurants they eat at, over and and over and over again.

It's going to take cold, hard cash.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Floodgates

Maybe it's the moon. Or the tides. Or the time of the year. Or, maybe, it's just because God wants it this way. No matter what the reason is, people from the past seem to be cropping up left and right in my life lately.

I have this friend Tom who lives in England. Tom is a dear old friend "of a certain age."

Okay, me back up a little. Towards the end of my drinking I behaved very, very badly towards a lot of friends, here and in Europe. I thought I'd lost these relationships permanently because, due to my circumstances, I'd moved out of New York and, basically, left no forwarding information. Then, as these things do in time, I started reconnecting with people from my past. Slowly, at first. But Tom was one of those early people. He had hosted me in London umpteen times in the 80's and early 90's. We had a lot of fun together over the years. Anyway, as my recovery progressed we'd write back and forth to each other a few times a year. Or there'd be the odd "Christmas morning phone call." But communications between us really perked up recently when Tom FINALLY joined the rest of the human race and got a computer, internet access and an e-mail address.

In a previous post I mentioned being in Delaware last Saturday for my sister and brother-in-law's anniversary. Several digital photos were taken, including a particularly nice one of me with my eldest niece. So I decided to send it to Tom as an e-mail attachment, just so he could see how much I've aged since 1993 (the last time we saw each other).

WELL. That certainly opened the floodgates. Apparently Tom forwarded the photo, along with my e-mail address to a whole SLEW of friends in the UK and Spain and, out of the blue, every time I log in to my e-mail account these days I find yet another "HALLOOO RONNIE" e-mail from long, lost friends.

As I read every line of those e-mails, I've realized just how much I'd missed these people over the last 10-15 years. They had always been kind and gracious and funny and witty and loving towards me. And I had treated those relationships like they hadn't even existed. I've missed so much of my life because of shame and indifference.

And with that realization came the opening of the other floodgates and the tears flowed, as I saw that these people had just been waiting for some sign, any sign, from me that I was willing to pick up where we had left off.

In the past I was always quick to discard the most precious possessions I had. Friends are not garbage, and when I treat friends like garbage, I'm treating me like garbage.

I'm through treating people like garbage. I'm through treating me like garbage.

I'm so glad that God is doing for me what I cannot do for myself.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Joy of Living

As my sister recently pointed out to anyone within earshot, I'm a recovering alcoholic. One of the ways in which I stay recovered is by working with others, by which I mean people who are new to recovery, usually people who are still shell-shocked by whatever events led them to their 1st 12th Step meetings.

People like that often, but not always, are so "mocus" (mostly out of focus) that you could recite the phone book to them and they'd think you were God.

People like me, who have a few "24s" under our belts ("24s" = days in recovery), are duty-bound to do what we can to help the newcomers through that difficult and very painful period of their lives. Initially many of them need total parental care. They're so devastated by years of alcohol and/or drug abuse that they have difficulty focusing on the simplest of tasks.

It is one of the many paradoxes of recovery programs that you "keep it by giving it away." Alkies and druggies, in their active addictions, are the most self-serving, self-centered people on earth. As we recover we find, often begrudgingly at first, that "working with others" is tremendously rewarding.

It took me a long time before I finally began "to get it" that by sharing my experience, hope and strength with others, I would find a sense of fulfillment that I had never experienced before in my life.

I'm in the midst of such an experience with someone now. We have a great deal in common. It's as though we had identical childhoods, both of us having to grow up with alcoholic mothers who "used" us as pawns in power struggles against our fathers. And we both dealt with it the same way, by turning inward and shutting down our feelings of anger, and love. When I talk to him, one on one, about my experiences, I can see the look of amazement on his face as he realizes that he is not alone, that someone else truly "understands" his pain and has compassion for him.

When I'm with him I feel like I'm pouring cool water into the mouth of a man who has just crawled out of the desert. I can't pour it fast enough for him.

This is what recovered alcoholics live for. It is, in fact, our "primary purpose", to stay sober and to help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. Not to make a killing in the stock market, not to kick back and relax, not to wait for somebody "else" to do something.

Giving back what was so freely given to me is the real Joy of Living.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Blah, blah, blah...

I've changed my mind. Originally, I wasn't going to talk about anything today, instead I was just going to recommend that you read one of the fine weblogs and websites I mention below, left.

Then I actually went and READ one of those websites myself. It was the Huffington Post. And what I read made me mad. You can check it out for yourself here. It was about how President Bush deported himself Sunday night on 60 minutes. I believe one of the quotes was, "looking like a stoned teenager, with a lopsided grin on his face, as he described how" American youths were dying in Iraq trying to carry out his failed policies.

I've known, from the get-go, that this creep was a fiasco. But what can you do? He got elected. Period. He stole it the first time and squeaked by the second time and he is the President and Commander in Chief. It's not my job to like it, but it is my job to accept it.

Except, it's awfully hard to accept that this monumental business failure and outright lousy human being has been handed the plenipotentiary power and majesty of the People of the United States of America, to do with as he will until his term of office is over.

It's hard to accept that this control freak, untreated alcoholic and blue-blooded coward represents the sovereign will of The Nation.

It's awfully hard to accept that George W. Bush is anything other than America at its absolute worst.

And we elected him. We allowed it to happen. We sat by, complacent as shit, and voted our wallets rather than our hearts. We did this thing. And, as it unfolds, today, tomorrow and even 10 years from now, we will have no one to blame for it but ourselves.

At least when Clinton lied... nobody died.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Sacred Duties

I had the day off so I scheduled a follow-up appointment with my new internist. I saw him for the first time last summer, having fired my previous internist for being a dumb twit.

I like my new internist. A feeling confirmed by today's visit which was brief, to the point, and utterly lacking in surprises. I'm in the pink, my readings are fine, I got some scrip for some meds I need and I got a few free samples of ... well, a male performance drug, to be perfectly blunt. His parting words were along the lines of "keep up the good work and I'll see you next summer."

Medically speaking, it's been a good year. The last "surprise" was the diagnosis of type II diabetes last January. It was a year that was surgery-free. The first such year since 2003. Yeah, I need to lose a few stones (I nearly said "pounds" but to be honest, it's really a couple of stone which, for those of you who don't know, is 14 pounds).

So, on the heels of such a good visit with the doctor I immediately took myself to the movies to see "Pan's Labyrinth" at the Princeton Garden Theater in beautiful, downtown, Princeton, New Jersey. It's right across the street from the campus of Princeton University. School's in session so the town is full of undergrads... all of whom appear to be... oh, say, 12 years old to me. I was early, so I killed a half hour at the local Starbuck's with a Vente (double-cupped, leave room please).

Well, I'm sure Guillermo del Toro had the best of intentions but, let's face it, a film about and set in Fascist Spain during the Spanish Civil War is NOT exactly a "toe-tapper."

I didn't exactly flee the theater after the movie, nor did I dawdle in my seat through the closing credits.

Besides, I had to get home in order to prepare for the most sacred duties a gay man has to perform on the 2nd Monday of January every year. I refer, of course, to the necessary preparations for watching tonight's broadcast of The Golden Globe Awards, a night second only in religious significance to the Oscar broadcast at the end of February.

And so, it being 8:01 p.m. (eastern time) I must wind today's scrivenings up and get my butt over to the comfy chair.

Drink up, everyone! It's SHOW TIME!!!

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I had breakfast this morning with three queens and a straight guy. Two of the queens were former Ms. Delawares. One of them is my niece. She'd brought her boyfriend. The other former Ms. Delaware was flying solo. The remaining queen was a very sweet but (unfortunately) prematurely balding young man who has been my niece's best friend since they were in grade school. (And face it, ladies, a gay guy is definitely a girl's best friend!)

We were having breakfast together because last night we had all gathered at a hotel in Newark, Delaware to celebrate the 25th wedding anniversary of my sister and brother-in-law. They'd taken one of the ballrooms, just off the lobby, for the event. Because it promised to be a late night, I'd taken a room there for the evening, as did, apparently, the other queens and their escorts.

The party was great. I had a wonderful time. Right up until the moment when my sister, in a fit of familial exhuberance, fueled by tee many martoonis, blurted out to the crowd, through the Karaoke system, that her brother (me) was, "a recovering alcoholic."

Now, I don't make a secret of the fact that I'm an alcoholic and that I'm in recovery. I don't even mind that my friends and family share that information, one on one, with people they know.

But something way down deep inside me feels kind of icky about having somebody I know and love... blurt it out in public. Especially if I'm there. I wanted to hide. I was pissed. I was hurt.

I sat and sulked for awhile. Fortunately, it was late enough in the evening, and enough liquor had been consummed by everyone, so nobody noticed how I was feeling and acting. Around 11:30 I discreetly left the party and went to my room in the same hotel for the night.

This morning I prayed about it and thought about all the times I had thoughtlessly ignored the feelings of others over the years and about how many of them had forgiven me, and about how we're all human and we all, including me, make mistakes and it was then that I realized that the best thing to do was to call my sister and mention it, without being angry about it.

Which I did. In the old, evil, drinking days, I would've been a real prima donna drama queen about such a public gaffe. There wouldn't have been any forgiveness, at least not without causing as much suffering as possible in retaliation for the original slight.

My sister was embarrassed. She tried to explain it away by saying that she only said it because she was so proud of me. I assured her that she was forgiven, that I know how much I had to be forgiven for from my own past, that I loved her and knew she would never do anything to hurt me and then I let her get back to sleep. She was pretty hungover.

Then, happily, I trucked on down to the lobby for my "complimentary cooked-to-order" breakfast and ran into the group of youngsters I mentioned up above. They were pretty hungover, too. But we had a lot of laughs anyway. Beauty queens have pretty wicked senses of humor. So do their boyfriends, gay and straight.

These days I'm just a queen among queens. No better, no worse, than the rest.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Gear Queer

My name is Ron and I'm a technoholic.

Background: You already know I built a color tv when I was 19. Before that I built a stereo amp and prior to that a shortwave radio.

But you don't know that going back to childhood I was as fascinated by what was going on behind and inside the TV as I was by what was ON the tv. I used to scare my nana by taking the back off the set and poking around in there, even when I was six or seven years old. It's a wonder I didn't electrocute myself.

When the Navy got hold of me I got to know a fair amount of electronics, certainly equivalent to an associates in ee. I also built what was then the top of the line kit-form receiver, the Heathkit AR-15 Receiver. It cost nearly as much as the tv (over $300 in 1970 dollars). It was a honey.

Anyway, I mention all that because in due course, in the late 70's, after a 6 year or so hiatus from electronics, I started hearing and reading about these "do-it-yourself" consumer computers. I was very interested. Then I met my ex. And, simultaneously, a couple of guys from Silicon Valley were flogging something called the "Apple II" computer at trade shows out west. A few "home-brew" shops started opening up in Manhattan and I used to hang around them on Saturday afternoons. I lusted after a home-brew computer, or an Apple, or a Commodore 64 or an Atari. But I was cash-strapped and my ex thought these were nothing more than "toys." I bided my time. I latched on to every chance to keep up with technology. As an office temp I got the chance to learn Wang and Lanier and Xerox Word Processing systems. They had huge 8" diskettes capable of storing up to, gasp, 180 kilobytes of information!!!

Then I got the chance of a lifetime. I landed my job on Wall Street in December of 1983. By the summer of 1984 I was putting in a purchase order for an IBM-PC XT (for the princely sum of $6,000+). In no time I was the King of PCs on the trading floor. I was the "go-to" guru for batch files and autoexecs and config dot sys files. I knew about memory stackers and ram and rom and device drivers.

They kept promoting me and giving me bigger budgets. Eventually I put the first Novell network on the floor. The file server sat under my desk, not in some remote server room where it was tended to by people who didn't care about users. I cared about users. I was a part of a "profit center." The User was King, in my book. And the Users rewarded me for it.

Eventually, though, I tired of my position and became more and more enamored of alcohol. I finally broke down and bought a home computer (one of the 1st generation of Intel "Pentium"s) and quit my job.

I lost touch with keeping on top of technology as I sank into self-pity, self-loathing and self-centered depression. Then, as I began the slow climb back to sanity, it seemed like I never had time for my once beloved technology.

But deep down, and despite everything, I've always been a Gear Queer. A fact that's been driven home to me yesterday and today as I've tinkered with this wondrous new thing in my life... my Motorola Razr cellphone.

I love it.

O Brave New World that has such things in it!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Are you "IN"?

After a massive screwup yesterday, FedEx (it wasn't their fault) brought me my new cellphone. Actually they brought me a box full of geegaws, gimcracks, accessories, manuals, contracts, things I don't know what to do with and assorted other "stuff" in the middle of which was another box that actually contained my new phone.

I had all this stuff delivered to my office since Verizon prefers that someone sign for it. Pity they don't also insist that their fulfillment center employees can read and type English. Anyway, I had to schlep it home on the bus last night, before I could actually assemble the various pieces and charge up the batteries. After a big delay on the turnpike due to an overturned 18-wheeler somewhere near Newark International Airport, I got home at 7:20 and started to piece it all together.

I started out by charging up the batteries in everything (the phone and the Bluetooth earpiece). That took all night.

This morning I gathered up the phone and headpiece, found the requisite paperwork and headed off to work, anxious to activate my new phone.

I followed the directions and entered all the information via the keypad. Then, out of the blue, Veronica Verizon appeared on the line (this was a land line, which you must use to activate your cellphone). She wanted to help me and to "point out a few features", such as how to have money magically removed from my bank account and inserted in Verizon's bank account every month, at the touch of a few buttons.

Well, that was exactly how I wanted to spend my morning, listening to that crap. I just wanted to make a call but first... we had to "join" the headset to the phone.

I navigated the menu system and found the correct option. I work in a law firm. The phone got busy and immediately found a half-dozen Blackberries that it wanted to sync up with with. But it didn't see my Bluetooth. I shut everything off and tried it again.

Meanwhile, the script that Veronica was working from was obviously outdated since all the menu choices she said I should be seeing weren't there and I was seeing a bunch of choices she was clueless about.

Never mind, though. Within a few minutes my Bluetooth was synched up to the phone and we made some test calls, outgoing and incoming. The headset worked fine.

I finished up my business with Veronica, thanked her for all her "help", hung up and started at the phone.

It was time for the acid test. I picked it up and flipped it open (it looks like the old "communicators" from Star Trek (classic)). I pressed the numbers for my Sobriety Advisor's cellphone and hit "Send." I heard it dial and, on the 4th ring, he answered.

He's on Verizon, too. We can yak forever because of that. This is called "IN" calling by Verizon. You can talk for hours and not use any airtime or longdistance for it.

But we only chatted for a few seconds before he had to go back to work.

So I carefully hung up and sat the phone on my desk, where it's sat for the last 6 hours.

And the damn thing hasn't rung once. WHAT THE HECK AM I PAYING FOR?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Boy Toys

Now that I have your attention, this isn't about twenty-something twinkies who latch onto sugar daddies and live out their highly expendable youths, as little more than unpaid courtesans, on Manhattan's fascionable Upper East Side, or in the Silver Lake District of Hollyweird.

It's about electronics. Face it guys, who among us has lost his childlike fascination with all things electrical and/or electronic? Who among us isn't immediately drawn to the consumer electronics section of every department store we enter? To stare, slack-jawed and drooling in wonder, at projection tv's the size of the Big Screen at Radio City Music Hall, wondering which wall at home could be sacrificed to make room for it... if we only had the $9,999.99 needed to drag the 10-ton wonder home with us this afternoon... as soon as we can rent a truck and call our hateful brother-in-law to come help us lug it?

Well, I don't have such a tv (yet), but I got something nearly as good. FedEx has delivered the must-have toy of the 21st Century, my brand new cellphone. It's actually quite daunting, fishing through the box full of accessories that came with it. I'm sure it'll take me at least 11 of the 15 days grace period I have to return the phone just to learn how to use it.

I don't know why, but I suddenly feel a little more grown up.

I'll let you know if I decide to keep it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Manna from Heaven

I made it a point last week to contact SAG (the Screen Actors Guild) to find out how much it would cost to get back into their good graces... having unceremoniously stopped paying dues to them, oh, 10 years or so ago.

I spoke a couple of times with a very nice young man whom, I suspect, is both a friend of Bill (W.) and Dorothy (gay as hell). He had to do some homework on my case, which took him a few days. He called me back last Thursday with the good news. All I had to do was send SAG a postal money order for $960.00 and enclose a little note explaining my past, um, er, well, "difficulties."

Well, $960.00 is a chunk of change. Still, I was determined to do it. There was a time when that union membership meant everything to me, not the least of which being that it SAG became my "parent union" and, therefore, the gateway to membership in the sister unions, Actors Equity Association, and AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

My thinking was that once I got back in good with SAG, I'd tackle the other two unions, two.

That could add up to an awful lot of "past due" dues and fines. But I wasn't worrying about it. In the last few years I've really learned that God truly does provide and that I worry, generally, needlessly and often over nothing.

Out of the blue our office manager informed me today that I had 14 and a half unused PTO (personal time off) days leftover from last year and that company policy would allow me to "roll-over" 4 and a half days to this year... and that next week I'd be getting a "buyout" for 8 unused days. That's just 2 days shy of a full two week paycheck. More than enough to pay my past due SAG dues, and a couple of other little bills.

To sweeten matters further, I leaned on my insurance agent and got my auto insurance for this year reduced from $1,200 for the year to little more than $800.00.

All of a sudden, money seems to be dropping out of the sky, like manna from heaven.

Sometimes you just have to have a dream and then stand aside to let God take care of the details for you.

Monday, January 08, 2007


I finally did it.

After years of vehemently sticking to my Ludditical Guns and swearing up and down a blue streak that I would NEVER, EVER, EVER DO IT... I finally broke down and...

ordered a cellphone.

Oh, Gawd.

What have I done?

This is the road to perdition. I might as well have opened up a vein and given Verizon the PIN number to my ATM card along with permission to anally abuse me as much as they want for the next two years.

Everybody knows that's what happens when you "agree" (as if you have any friggin' choice) to the "Terms of Agreement" on your (lack of) Service Contract which states, generally, that they own all the marbles, that you will never own any of the marbles and that they may change the rules of the game any time they like to suit themselves and you can go f*ck yourself if you don't like it.

That's pretty much what everybody signs up for when they sign up for cellular service.

My new cellphone hasn't arrived yet. It's a Motorola RAZR (silver). I got a Bluetooth headset to go with it so I can use it in the car. I tend to make long trips in the car on weekends, so that'll come in handy. Most eastern states have laws against using cellphones unless they're "hands-free." I like the RAZR. It's techie and sexy. I signed up for the full insurance package, too. I know me. I'll wind up flushing it down the john, or leaving it on a subway in no time.

It's only taken me about 5 years to decide to do this. I take forever to make up my mind about (some) things. I shop and shop and shop and then, seemingly, make what I consider to be a "hasty purchase." I'm always in denial about what I really want. I kept telling people, "Oh, I'm not important enough to have a cellphone" or "Oh, I'm in too much touch already without being even more in touch." Stuff like that. But deep down inside, I always knew that the day would come.

I've already warned a couple of my friends (whom I know also subscribe to Verizon Wireless) that I'll be calling them incessantly. Calls from Verizon to Verizon customers are free. All the time. My friends, knowing this, just roll their eyes and say "the novelty will quickly wear off." Yeah, I guess they're right and I know they're praying that they are.

But I'm not going to let them dim my newfound enthusiasm. Just for today I have a massive case of Cellularitis!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Unusual Weather We're Havin', Ain't It?

I woke up this morning and it was 65 degrees. That was at 6:00 a.m., Eastern Standard Time. It's January 6th. I live in central Smartypantistan. Oh, alright, New Jersey.

As much as I love it, it was pretty weird putting on shorts this morning to head off to my morning dose of sobriety with a bunch of like-minded folks.

As we stood around yakking in the parking lot after the get-together, most of us in short-sleeved shirts, we all agreed, this was pretty weird.

By now we should've had at least one or two really good snowfalls (6" or more). Temperatures should be around 20 degrees at night and, maybe, all the way up to 35 or 40 degrees during the day. February is generally our coldest, snowiest month. But January can usually hold its own in the bitter, freezing cold department.

The weather gurus are blaming it on El Nino (Why not? We blame God for most of our problems, so we might as well throw the weather in there, too.) The Tree-Huggers are blaming it on global warming which, even if not completely true, certainly gets my vote for having played a major part in it.

Whatever. Denver is digging out from it's third major blizzard in as many weeks, livestock is dying by the thousands in southeast Colorado and Kansas, the Northwest has been getting pounded by storm after storm and, meanwhile, here in Tropical New Jersey, we're ready to start growing orchids.

If my late Irish grandmother were alive, SHE'D know what was responsible for all this. She had a world-view that was simple and direct.

She'd blame it on "the rockets." "It's not natural", she'd say in her thick Irish brogue, carefully maintained even after 40 years in this country, "to be firin' all them rockets up into the heavens."

You see, she blamed God for everything, too. God was pissed at us for firin' rockets up into his space and would take it out on us with crappy, weird weather.

I miss my Nana. She was bat-shit crazy at times, and a drunk to boot, but God, how I loved her.

Friday, January 05, 2007


I was reading an article somewhere (the NYTimes is generally my source of choice) about how we have too many "stans" in the world. Baluchistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhistan, etc, etc.

The "stan", apparently, is an old Persian modifer which means "where they live." So, Afghanistan is where the Afghans live, etc. You get the idea.

Anyway, it got me to thinking (always bad news) about how we could apply that to the good old, USofA. If I were a Republican I can think of a million ways to polarize the nation using "stan" to refer to "them" and "where THEY live." Surely a clever and utterly soulless Republican operative could make political hay out of that.

Howabout "Christistan" for the Midwest and South? Or, "Liberastan" for the Northeast?

We could get even more specific. "Fagistan" for Provincetown. "Ditzistan" for Hollywood. "Caffeinistan" for Seattle. "Beefistan" for Chicago. "Yahooistan" for Texas and "Oyveyistan" for Florida.

Naturally New Jersey would become "Badabingistan".

But come to think of it, we'd really need to forget about old boundaries and start creating new ones. Badabingistan would include not only Northern New Jersey, but also portions of Staten Island, Brooklyn and Southern Manhattan. Fagistan would include not only P'town, but also most of San Francisco, large parts of Rehoboth (Delaware), all of Key West and 80% of West Hollywood. Oyveyistan would include vast sections of Miami, but also big chunks of Queens and Brooklyn and some communities in Northern Jersey not previously settled by the Badabingians.

Where I live, in Central NJ, isn't really a part of Badabingistan. I'm surrounded by Rutgers, Princeton, the Institute for Advanced Studies (where Einstein spent his last years), and lots of other high-falutin' think-tanks, such as the Sarnoff labs where they invented our version of color TV and stuff.

So, tonight, when I hop on that commuter bus, I'll try to contain my excitement at heading home to


Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Gayest Year Ever?

I overheard a conversation on New Year's Eve at a little (sober) GLBT get-together to the effect that now is a very good time to be gay.

That was followed up by an op-ed piece yesterday by the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Shalikashl... whomever, that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" should be dropped and that the services are, at long last, ready to accept out gay people.

Well, yeah, I have to admit it's a helluva lot better to be gay today than it was a decade ago. Which is a helluva lot better than it was the decade before that, and so on, and so on.

BUT, I'm still half a citizen in my home state, and a non-entity in many states.

When I tossed myself into the fledgling gay lib movement, back in 1972, Stonewall was only 3 years behind me. Our tiny little Gay Community at the U. of D. had sister and brother groups up and down the east coast, from Boston to D.C. And it behooved us to throw our support behind each other's groups, for survival purposes. We never thought, in a million years, that it would be "okay" to be gay the way it's okay to be gay today. We were ecstatic when the American Psychiatric Society declared that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness. And we were equally delighted when states such as teensy Delaware repealed their anti-sodomy laws. We thought all that was "real progress."

I never occured to us to get married. We were young and horny and happy to be able to just screw around without getting arrested.

But, times have changed and things have certainly taken some odd turns.

The other week, for example, a commercial website (which I'm always loathe to praise, or even mention) carried one of the funniest things I've ever read. The website is VH1's, and the item of the day was "The Ten Gayest Moments of 2006".

Come to think of it, it was a pretty gay year. But my absolute favorite item on the list is Number 4 (DreamGirls is this years Brokeback Mountain) and, in particular, the last sentence:

"We only hope this movie is wearing protection as it thrusts its power ballads up into your musical loving ass."

And if that isn't the queerest thing you've ever read, then you are truly a bunch of jaded show trash.

Luv ya! Mean it!!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I'm tired of fighting the inevitable.

Over the holidays I got a bunch of crap from a lot of people who love me, or at least like me, along the lines of "when are you going to give up this crappy sobriety job of yours and either get a "real" job OR, at least, start doing something that feeds your soul?"

I've decided that I have a new guardian angel, the former head of Worldwide Equities at Big-Assed-Brokerage House, Incorporated, where I worked from 1983 until liquor became more important than work in 1994. The Angel in question passed away last May and ever since then I've had this nagging, niggling, feeling that he was nudging me back towards the Street to finish out my working years making a few sheckles I can put aside for my REALLY old age.

A very good friend, out of the blue, got a job a few months back at some sort of hedge fund where he had to become a principal of the firm (a high-muckety-muck). That meant becoming licensed with multiple state and federal licenses to act as a stockbroker and also to be able to supervise same. We were talking last week and he casually asked me what would prevent me from working on the street again. "Oh" I said, "I don't have my licenses. They expired many years ago." There was a pause and he said, "That is no longer a problem for you."

Oh, yes it is. I'm thick, but not that thick. I understood what he was offering me. His firm would sponsor me to take the necessary exams, which, basically, meant he was offering me a job.

So, naturally, I called Screen Actors Guild yesterday and inquired as to what it would take to get back into their good graces, too. I'd been a member in good standing of the Guild from 1980 until 1995, when I just ... well, stopped paying my dues. I'm still waiting to hear back from them on that one. I know some agents in recovery now.

Then, another friend who just happens to be a Hip-Hop Artist of some note, started ragging on me to start "getting with" the writing. Not just this blog. She was very serious about me getting very serious.

I don't know what's going on, but I do know that the signs are everywhere. It's time for a change. A REALLY BIG CHANGE.

I hate change. Most drunks do. Things are just fine, thankyewverymuchferaskin'.

But change is inevitable. I have learned that. I've also learned to (somewhat) not be afraid of it.

Growth. It ain't just for puberty anymore.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Back in the Saddle Agin'

Man, when that alarm went off at 4:50 a.m. this morning, it was pretty damned early out! But it was time for me to go back to work. Oh, I had a swell time last week, staying in bed every morning until 6:15 a.m., followed by days which were jam-packed with wonderful activities.

But I was ready to go back. I missed some people in New York. Besides, how would I know how much I enjoyed my time off if I didn't have anything to compare it to?

I've come a long way, and I have a long way to go in my recovery. I'm on the verge of yet more cataclysmic changes.

And that brings me back to today's title, "Back in the Saddle Agin'". I can't tell you how many times, over the last few weeks, it's been brought (abruptly) to my attention that it's "time for me" to lose my "sobriety job" (sobriety job = a "brainless, low-paid form of underemployment designed to maximize the amount of time, due to lack of worry, one can spend going to meetings and working with others") and to get a "real career" either doing something I really like or, at least, something that pays boatloads of cash every year.

Some suggest that I renew my (lapsed) government licenses to practice fiscal mayhem on an unsuspecting public and get a job on Wall Street (again). Others suggest I go back to my first dream, acting, and look into getting myself re-instated in the acting unions, SAG, AFTRA and Equity.

It's interesting to note how other people's opinions about what I "should" be doing is largely informed by their own fears and prejudices.

Still, both camps are right about one thing. I'm long past the need for a sobriety job.

And, it's time I made some real bucks again and bought some property and put aside some real Benjamins for my rapidly approaching old, er, middle-age. Or, at the very least, do something that really "feeds my soul" which, to be honest, being a legal secretary doesn't exactly do.

I know that most of my workmates wonder why, exactly, I'm doing this for a living. I'm pretty sure some of them think I'm on the lam from either the Government or the Mob.

Whatever. This isn't about what other people think. It's about what am I going to do to make myself happy.

Ah, the magical question.

I'm happy now. I just wish it paid twice what I'm getting.

But I sure would like to win a Pulizter Prize someday.

I wonder if Frank Rich is planning to retire soon?

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Years Resolutions

For 2007,

I resolve to do whatever it takes to just skate by.

I resolve to never notice when I'm being noticed.

I resolve to pray to God for the strength to bear up under all of life's adversities.

I resolve to be as accepting of things and people as is humanly possible.

I resolve to happily accept my lot in life.

I resolve to do my best to give as much unconditional love as I would like to receive in return.

I resolve to try to find forgiveness in my heart for the people whom I think have wronged me.

I resolve to try to pay more attention to others than I do to myself.

Oh, yeah, and I'd like to lose a few pounds, too.

Have a great year, everybody.

I intend to.