Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Tightie Righties

John Gibson, over at Faux News, is whining today that the lefties (me) are picking on him for knocking us for whining about the public preference for "news" about Anna Marie WhatsHerRapidlyRottingFace over real news regarding the war.

In other words, he's pissed off that the Leftie Correspondents and, by extension, the vast majority of the American public, aren't more gung-ho for the catastrophe in Iraq.

As a matter of fact, what he and his cronies won't tell you is that that's their real beef ... that America has (again) wimped out of a war that they (the NeoCons) were gung-ho to start. They refuse to believe that most Americans are too smart and comfy to want to spend a lifetime fighting unwinnable tripartite tribal wars in faraway lands amongst people who simply don't want what little we have to offer. IOW (in other words) they aren't interested in democracy or christianity or coca-cola or birth-control or political correctness or anything else we sell. They just want us to get the f*ck out of their country and to let them slaughter each other in peace.

I got no problem with that. I do not believe in our Manifest Destiny or any other Jingoistic Bullsh*t. Somebody should've shot W.R. Hearst after he sent his famous telegram to his photographer in Havana who complained about the lack of any action or fighting. "You provide the pictures and I'll provide the war."

How, in God's name, is that NOT treason?

I've discussed here before how James Madison went on at length about how it was as much the President's duty to keep us OUT of war as it was for him to get us into them.

I lived through (and served in the armed forces during) the Viet Nam War. Even a callow youth of 18 knew that that war was more about making the world safe for the Ford Motor Company than it was about any noble ideals of bringing democracy (or Ford Fairlanes) to the freedom-thirsty (and autoless) peoples of the world.

The last "good war" was one where people were clearly dying and were going to keep on dying until "the enemy" was stopped. But even at that, we refused to get involved until the bombs actually started falling on our own territory. The NeoCons would have you believe that the enemy has arrived at the gates (again), as evidenced by 9/11. But the problem with 9/11 is that there is no well-defined enemy in fancy uniforms goose-stepping their way across Europe.

We know that Osama was behind it and you see how great a job our multi-jillion dollar military/spy establishments have done in tracking him down.

And now they're whining that a failure to win the war is a failure of us (you, me and others like us) to get on board, sign on up, run on down and enlist, and shut the fuck up about it.

I really like a NeoCon who steps up to the plate and says, "Yup! We screwed up and we're really sorry about it."

Like that'll ever happen. Any more than Hillary will admit that voting for the war funding was stupid on her part.

Politicians are constitutionally incapable of owning up to their mistakes and being honest with themselves and others.

I guess it's no wonder that so few of them are sober.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Morning After The Most Self-Important Night of the Year

Not bad. I only missed on Eddie Murphy instead of Alan Arkin (who, by the way, was fabulous as the grandfather "get all the pussy you can!") in "Little Miss Sunshine" and also deserved to win.

I have to admit it, I was starting to nod a little by 11:15 p.m. (eastern). Oscar night is one of the few nights of the year that I envy my left-coast friends for whom the Oscar broadcast begins practically in the middle of supper and ends at a decent hour.

I felt sorry for Peter O'Toole who, most likely, will now never win a "real" Oscar (I'm pretty sure they gave him some sort of "Lifetime Achievement" consolation prize a few years back).

The women all looked lovely. There were no real "fashion-don'ts" last night a la the famous "Dead Goose" that hung around Bjork's neck a few years back, or the "Ballerina on Crack" look that somebody else showed up in the year after that.

And beaucoups HUZZAHHS to Jennifer Hudson, a girl who obviously enjoys a good meal now and then and isn't ashamed of it thankyewverymuch, who looked DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS in her lovely size 12 Oscar de la Renta, "Golden Globe Winning, Best Supporting Actress So Go Totally Fuck Yourselves American Idol and especially you, Simon Cowell, You Rat Fink Bastard" gown!

Ellen (Degeneres) was suitably cute and uncontroversial for the evening. The closest she came was some mild crack about how there would be "no movies" without the contributions of blacks, Jews and homosexuals. But I guess that was okay. After all, this wasn't the Golden Globe Awards, this was, ahem, the Oscars, Hollywoods Most Self-Important and Totally Taking Ourselves too Seriously Night of the Year.

I am SOOOOO GLAD that Marty Scorcese FINALLY got his Oscar (don't feel too sorry for George Lucas, who never got one... he got something a helluva lot better, a cash machine in Marin called ILM).

This was one of the few years in the last 10 that I actually "saw" most of what it was that was vying for prizes last night. And not just the "big productions", either. I saw "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Volver" (don't ever miss an Almodovar film, they are simply divine). I saw "Babel", "The Queen", "Little Miss Sunshine", "The Departed" and "Letters from Iwo Jima." Not one of them was a real "toe-tapper" (as opposed to "Dream Girls", which was,), as they say. But they were all good films, and full of good work by all the crafts involved, from writing to cinematography, to acting.

I love the movies. I've been fascinated by them ever since I was a kid. I used to drool over deMille epics. The longer, the better. I would've sat through "Ben-Hur" twice if I hadn't had to have been home for dinner.

But the movie that made me a real movie lover was, as someone else mentioned last night, "Lawrence of Arabia." I saw it in a movie theater on the boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey, in August of 1962. I had just turned 14. As I sat in that air-conditioned theater, far from the broiling heat of the beach outside, I relished every single frame of that beautiful motion picture. I have never forgotten that experience.

If I had anything to "do over" in my life, it would be that I would've pursued a career in motion pictures. I hate the phoniness of the business, the deal-making and ass-kissing and plastic surgery and closeted lives of "married for public consumption" stars. I hate all that, yet I would put up with it, if I could make movies. In some capacity or another. But, alas, that wasn't meant to be.

In which case, I can at least strive to be the best movie fan I can be. So that's what I'm doing.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Most Self-Important Night of the Year

A lot of professions, with nothing really to back it up, think they're the most important professions on earth. God knows lawyers think that way. Doctors, too.

But nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to the vanity, the ego, the HUBRIS (go look it up) of a professional celebrity who likes to dress up and pretend to be other people in movies, on OSCAR NIGHT!

Those, by the way, are the professionals. There are others in the same business who don't even bother pretending to be someone else. They simply dress up and play themselves in movie after movie. Like Jack Nicholson, who's played the same character since 1968. Himself.

Okay, here are my bets for tonight.

Best Picture The Departed
Best Actor Forrest Whitaker
Best Actress Helen Mirren
Best Supporting Actor Eddie Murphy
Best Supporting Actress Jennifer Hudson
Best Director Marty Scorcese (and about friggin' time)

Get out the junk food, put fresh batteries in the remote(s), curl up in your favorite comfy chair, turn down the sound and be prepared to say rude things about Nicole Kidman's Botoxedly immovable forehead.

Let the festivities begin, boys and girls...


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Roundup - Day Two - 6:00 p.m. until Midnight

Don't get your hopes up. There's nothing to report after midnight.

I arose from the nap and took a look at my totally inappropriate wardrobe. I'd packed chinos, blazer and several ties (one must be prepared), but I knew by now that I'd be the ONLY one in chinos, blazer and a tie, so I opted for just the chinos and the tie, instead.

I meandered on down the hall and into the grand ballroom (don't you love that phrase, "grand ballroom"? it sounds like a roomy pair of bluejeans, n'est pas?)

Being 6'5" is a tremendous advantage in crowds. I scanned the room like a radar beacon, in search of ... well, to be honest, the most "interesting looking" table. I saw a bunch of likely suspects, some of whom I knew, and asked them if I could join them.

Dinner was lovely, but I didn't really "connect" with any of the folks at the table. However, a meeting was to follow, and then disco dancing, starting at 10. The meeting was particularly moving since we ended with a "sobriety countdown" during which people with the longest sobriety sit down first and then we "count down" the years until, finally, we starting counting backward from 12 months to 1. After that we count down the days.

We wound up with two absolute newcomers left standing, each with exactly 48 hours of sobriety. This was not to embarrass them but, rather, to embrace them in the community of recovery. It was very moving and both of them shed tears of gratitude.

We cleared out for a few minutes while the dance space was cleared in the center of the room and the DJ set up his equipment (his day-job is as a drug and alcohol counselor at one of the country's major rehabs). Within a half hour the dance music started, the lights were dimmed, and folks started to filter back into the room.

I started table hopping and eventually found my friend, whom we'll call "D", who was the chairman of the entire event. He was sitting at a table, catching his breath, with another fellow whom we'll call "Y".

What follows is right out of high school. "D" leaned over and whispered in my ear that "'Y' is into older men and he thinks you're really hot!" Keep in mind that Y is sitting at the same table, not four feet away. I thanked "D" for passing along that note during study hall but that I was actually not in the market for anyone just at the moment and, in fact, hadn't really dated anyone since the 70's and was fearful and reluctant to try.

Dysfunction reigned supreme as I played into the co-dependency that "Y" had initiated and into which "D" had plunged.

Needless to say, things fell apart quickly and "Y" fled, practically in tears, thinking that it was "all about him" and that I probably thought he was a disgusting, ugly, troll... or something like that. Which was not true. "Y", in fact, is a handsome fellow, tall, late 30's-early 40's and eminently "do-able" as we say in the biz. This was not about rejecting HIM. It was about MY fears.

At any rate add another successful rejection of hot, steamy, one-on-one man-sex to my belt for the weekend. That was notch number 3 in my holster.

I have no idea where the rest of the evening went, but I was so demoralized at that point that I decided the best thing all around was to retire to my corner for the night, which is exactly what I did.

And so, at midnight, it was off to bed.

Which Movie Are You?

I got turned on to this by Ms C Qrisp.

Yup. I gotta admit it, this is definitely "me" these days.

Minus the drugs, of course.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Roundup - Day Two - Dawn til 5:00 p.m.

I got up early, probably around 5:30 which is only 45 minutes later than my usual wake-up time. So I made some of that dreadful hotel room coffee and settled in to watch something on The History Channel.

Speaking of which, Edward Herrmann has my career, you know? There was a time in the early 80's when he and I would always turn up at the same auditions in New York. We would glare at each other, in a highly professional manner, of course, while sitting in the waiting rooms. Eventually, though, I blinked, got a job on Wall Street and he wound up with my career in show business... including the gig as narrator/host number one on The History Channel.

But I digress. Often.

I fixed myself up and wandered down the hall to the convention area and mosied up stairs to "the hospitality suite", where I fell in with a couple of roving lesbians and one extremely handsome man, all from Norfolk, Virginia. We started chatting and, in no time, were best of friends for the next hour. So we wandered out in search of breakfast. We had a lovely time in our little boardwalk front restaurant, over scrambled eggs, rye-toast, bacon and coffee. One of the lesbians was a former Naval officer who'd risen out of the ranks to become an officer. She and I related a lot to each other. The other lesbian works for some defense contractor, re-designing interior spaces on board naval ships. The guy also works for some defense contractor doing something I could tell you about, but then I'd have to find all of you and kill you.

I was interested in more than just the gentleman's career, though. Unfortunately, although he claimed to have 19 years of sobriety, the last 10 of them had not been spent actually "doing" anything to keep his sobriety and, in fact, was living with a lover of 13 years although he maintained that it was "all over.... which I told the cops the other night when they showed up."

I left skid-marks escaping from that one.

The rest of the morning past quickly in various workshops and meetings and, rather than have a lunch, I took a quick nap before the afternoon sessions began.

I went to one workshop on Al-Anon issues (the flip-side of being an alcoholic is being RELATED to an alcoholic... and that's a whole other can of worms, believe me!), then I plopped down in one on "Aging Gracefully in Sobriety."

I have to admit, I was concerned that the workshop had the potential to slip into a "poor me" party over lost youth, lost fortune, lost opportunities, etc. But instead, it slowly evolved into one of the most spiritual events of the weekend, wherein people started talking about how, through God's grace, they'd been given a second chance NOT to "relive their golden youths" but, rather, to have a newer, higher, purpose in life... to remain sober and to help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

It was wonderful.

I also got hit on by someone in the meeting as soon as it was over. He prefaced it with, "at the risk of sounding like I'm hitting on you, I really admire your sobriety."

At first I misunderstood him, and thought that he really wasn't hitting on me. It wasn't until much later, during that evening's dance, that he said it to me again in a much more... ahem... "direct" manner.

Having missed an opportunity for quick, dirty, raunchy sex, I went back to my room to take another nap and to prepare for that evening's banquet to be followed by disco dancing until all hours!

Where things got even MORE interesting!!!

Death of a Champion.

I'll post later today on Day Two of my weekend in Rehoboth. But first, there's important business to be discussed.

The LGBT Community lost a real Champion last Sunday night. Barbara Gittings passed away in Kennett Square, PA. at the age of 74.

For those of you who don't know who she was, Barbara was a founding pillar of the gay community (and I mean that in the fullest sense of the word... "community").

I first met Barbara, not knowing much about her, at a Gay Conference (for that's what we called them in those days) at Rutgers University, in the fall of 1972. I was freshly out of the Navy and freshly into gay liberation.

I was expecting to meet a militant lesbian. What I found was a bookish, soft-spoken woman of intensity and integrity . In fact, if you squinted your eyes she probably looked a lot like Harry Potter. Although Barbara was not a librarian by profession, she did a lot of work with and for the ALA over the years, especially their gay liberation roundtable. Barbara had a partner, Kay Tobin Lahusen. They'd been together for 46 years.

I met Barbara several more times over those early years of gay lib, at conferences, and at the earliest Pride parades in New York and Philly. The last time I saw her was on the street in Atlantic City, sometime in the mid-70's. She and Kay had been out celebrating something.

She was warm, funny and absolutely pigheaded about her civil rights.

We should all mourn her passing. God rest her soul.

If you want to know more, and you should because she has an amazing history, start with Barbara's entry in Wikipedia.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Seaside Sobriety

I spent this past weekend in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware (yes, in February) at an event called a "Roundup." Roundups, in the recovery community, are opportunities for special interest groups within 12-Step Programs (in this case, the LGBT communities) to get together for a little sobriety and a lot of fun.

Well, I'm here to tells ya, Blanches, I had a LOT O' FUN! We were parked in a big motel, right on the boardwalk. It had to be big because we were nearly 400 strong. The mix was good, too. About 55% women, 44% men and 1% transgendered. Within the gender groupings, about 80% identified as totally gay and about 20% identified as bi-sexual.

There were folks there from the outer banks of North Carolina to Akron, Ohio. All the major east coast cities from New York on south were represented.

Everyone started to arrive around noon on Friday. The organizers had been there since Thursday night. The kick-off was a 12-Step meeting (with the guest speaker always being the previous year's Chairperson of the weekend), followed by a rousing evening of Bingo with prizes guaranteed to be appreciated by Queer Folk.

I had made a dinner reservation a couple of weeks back, for two, at a place called the Blue Moon. The Blue Moon is one of the fancy-schmancy places in town. It's also the biggest gay bar in town. It was the scene of many a drunken evening for me in the late 80's and early 90's. But I had never eaten in the restaurant section, even though it's always been highly rated. I wound up going stag, which because it was the off-season turned out to not be a problem. I got a window seat so I could "check out the action" on Baltimore Avenue (La Via Gay in Rehoboth) while I dined on Ceasar Salad and Filet Mignon. I liked dining alone. I like being with me. I don't "need" somebody sitting across from me in order to feel normal or complete. And I don't feel the least bit odd about it, either. What would be odd would be to sit there with somebody I've been sleeping with for 10 years and yet deeply hated, or at the least, deeply resented. I had iced-tea and bottled water with dinner. Nobody, including me, thought that was odd, either.

I got back to the motel (a whopping block away) in time for the Bingo game and sat at a table of strangers. I made it a point that weekend to sit with strangers whenever I could, to force myself to make small talk in order to get to know people.

Oh, there were a lot of people there whom I did know, and I also spent a fair amount of time reconnecting with folks whom I'd not seen since my last roundup, three years ago.

What was wonderful was how comfortable I was. Rehoboth is MY turf. I grew up there (practically... I am a Delaware Boy by birth and spent a lot of time on the DelMarVa shore as a kid and, later, as an adult). But I was also very comforted by being there with hundreds of people who understood me on a deep, fundamental, level. I was flirtatious, probably for the first time in many years. I "came on" to a couple of guys, and quite a few guys came on to me, too.

This was enormous progress for me. I have been very emotionally shut down and unavailable for many years. That was all fear-based and I was enabled in it by well-meaning family and friends who didn't want me to get hurt again, the way I was for 15 years in a terribly sick relationship.

But hearts are useless if they're not available to love and be broken. Otherwise they're just mechanical devices that keep us breathing, but hardly alive.

I learned a lot about myself this past weekend. I learned how to make myself more a part of life than I've been for a long time.

I'll talk more about the weekend over the next few days.

But for today, take this with you, dear reader; I am alive. More alive than I've been in many years.

And I am truly happy.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Follow the Yellow Brick Turnpike

I'm setting off now for Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to hobnob and cavort with my fellow wizards, er, to ponder, peruse and seek the deeper meaning of life with my fellow recovering drunks for the next couple of days...


I'll be stopping off in Newark, Delaware on my way home to mooch a free meal off my sister and brother in law.

I won't be touching a computer while I'm away, not that I'm a regular blogger anyway. But I'm not like my friend Bev, who'd move heaven and earth to blog, no matter what. I fully expect to receive daily reports on the afterlife from her, when that time comes, many many decades from now.

Enjoy your President's Day Mattress Sales, everybody, and I hope the weather is very nice, no matter where you are.

Until Monday I am faithfully yours...


Thursday, February 15, 2007

I am NOT an Evangelical Christian!

Thank God!

I'll let you all in on a little secret. I was raised to be a good Catholic boy, but I'm not. I'm a cocksucking fudgepacker, you see, so I can't possibly be a good Catholic boy, although I believe I probably qualify for the priesthood, based on those two talents alone.

I think I've shared here before that I've known I was "different" in that way since I was five or six, that I had a massive "crush" on my schoolbus driver when I was in the First Grade. Needless to say, this didn't exactly jibe with what I was having shoved down my throat every day in Catholic School, nor on Sundays in church. So, by the time I was 14, and REALLY knew what it was that I wanted shoved down my throat (and it wasn't religion or a communion wafer), I also knew that "something had to be done" about the irreconcilable feelings inside me and the irreconcilable teachings of Holy Mother of God, The High and Mighty Roman Catholic Church.

So I chose me.

And with that single act of self-will I decided to fly in the face of 4,500 years of Judeo-Christian teachings and to violate the writings of many sun-drenched, half-baked desert rats whose real interests regarding God lay in a) His Portability (a single, invisible God being very handy for a nomadic people who had enough shit to lug around as it was) and b) an Almighty God, into whose mouth Words could be inserted that served the interests of the Oligarchs who ran the clans.

The first chink in the dam. There was nothing wrong with me, ergo sum, they are incorrect. Imagine that. A 14 year old actually thinking, "The Church is incorrect." But that's what I thought.

And it was a very short jump from there to, "Hey... if they were wrong about THAT, what else are they wrong about?"

And, as it turned out, they were wrong about ANY NUMBER OF THINGS.

The second chink in the dam. The Church was pretty fucked up about a lot of shit, and I was no longer BUYING the rather faulty looking product.

You don't have to stand back very far from religion in order to start seeing its flaws. All it takes is a little lack of faith.

I do not believe in The Virgin Birth. I do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I do not believe that he was resurrected, nor that he arose, bodily, into heaven (and neither did Mary!)

I do believe that there is a God. I also believe that there was a Mary, and a Joseph, and an Andrew, John, Matthew, Mary Magdalene, Jesus and all the rest of them. I do believe that Jesus started a sect of Judaism which preached tolerance and love and forgiveness and acceptance. I believe that he was a GOOD AND HOLY MAN. The operative word being "man.'

And I believe that an awful lot of people got very, very rich and very, very powerful, and that they continue to get rich and powerful, by twisting and distorting and spewing venomous, hateful words, in Jesus's name, totally forgetting his words of love and forgiveness and tolerance and acceptance. Instead, they preach a message of conformity, of lock-step thinking, of dogma, of unbending, unaccepting, unloving, money-donating obedience. Not to God, but to "themselves."

And I believe that IF there is a place in some sort of human-shaped afterlife where there is something like humanlike consciousness, that there is a very special version of Hell for all of those people who told me, and millions of others like me, that I was sick, that I was sinful, that I was rotten, that I was no good, that I was unacceptable to them, that I was unacceptable to God and that I was garbage.

They were wrong. I am Ron. God loves me, every square inch of me, warts and all.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Nor'easters, Felonious Soldiers & Doug Feith

The nor'easter has turned out to be just that. I peeked out the window at 4:00 a.m. this morning and saw a "dusting" on the car. An hour later I was chipping the car out from under a frozen blanket of ice which had looked like snow from upstairs.

Owell, I got to NYC and the office. We're closing early, though. 4:30 p.m. It's been crappy out all day. The sleet is blowing sideways, as often happens in nor'easters.

Meanwhile, though, the big news in the NYTimes this morning is that the government is "looking the other way" regarding criminal records in its desperate campaign to recruit cannon fodder for Iraq. Of course they haven't slowed down the rate of DISCHARGING much needed personnel (interpreters, in particular) for being queer.

In other words, "Support Your Felons" could soon be appearing on bumper stickers from coast to coast.

I'm hard-pressed to understand how it serves the nation to put homos out, and drag armed robbers in.

But if you're looking for something that'll really fry your bacon ... and make you want to demand action from your CongressCritters about ... it's the story of one Douglas Feith, a deputy Secretary of Defense for Policy, who ran an ideological neocon think tank, from WITHIN THE PENTAGON, which deliberately twisted (and created) facts to "suit" the needs of an administration hellbent for war with Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Feith was appointed by the former defense secretary, Mr. Rumsfeld.

I'm quite sure that the Pentagon should not have policymakers with political agendas on it's payroll.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Weather Hysteria

If you happen to live within viewing distance of either the Philadelphia or New York tv stations, and you happened to watch CBS's "Sunday Morning" last Sunday, you would've been treated, occasionally, to the sight of some local weatherdude hysterically predicting Armageddon for today and tomorrow.

Luckily it's starting to look like a non-event as nor'easters go, mostly a windy, rainy, slushy storm starting, oh, sometime around now(ish) and continuing through, oh, tomorrow(ish).

We're used to this sort of thing around here.

Friends of mine who live on the left-Coast have sometimes wondered aloud to me why I would live in a hurricane zone (ignoring, for a moment the fact that they live atop 50 million square miles of Jello).

I tell them that hurricanes are nothing to us. Even the lengthiest hurricane is over in 2-3 hours. They travel real fast. The REAL damage from storms happens in the winter, from nor'easters.

With any luck, this storm will not turn out to be one of those 3-day monsters that eats whole communities and hundreds of miles of shoreline.

I'm saying all this in the hopes of jinxing the storm so everything will be just peachy, keen, when I head out on Friday morning for my 3-hour drive to Rehoboth, Delaware. I mean, even if it turns out to be a real blizzard (which it won't, DAMMIT), they'll have the entire route cleared by Friday. It's all major, 8-lane type, expressway.

Okay, okay, I'm whistling past the graveyard. I admit it. I NEED THIS WEEKEND.

I'm worked out. I'm sponsored out. I'm sponseed out. I need a little R&R time with others of my kind.


The Dixie Chicks

I'm no big fan of country & western music, especially of the "I'm so miserable without you, it's almost like having you here" variety of self-pity set to music. However, I would like to put in a plug right now for The Dixie Chicks album, "Taking the Long Way" with its hit song, "Not Ready to Make Nice" on it.

This is about voting with your wallets. I'm voting with mine. Buy this album and send a message to the Red States Radio Stations, telling them to "Kiss Your Grits."

Monday, February 12, 2007


I've got a bad case of the Monday morning "blahs."

It's not being helped by the dire predictions of the weather gurus that we're going to get some sort of winter blast overnight Tuesday, into Wednesday here in the Mid-Atlantic. It won't be anything like what they're suffering up and out in west central New York state, but they're acting here as if it's going to be the blizzard of the century.

The good news, though, is that this will be a short work-week for me. I'm taking Friday off and we're closed next Monday, too, for President's Day.

I'm heading down to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for the long weekend to attend something called a "roundup." Roundups are (usually) weekend-long events, usually in resort areas, for sober people in recovery. In this case it's a GLBT Roundup.

The weekend will kick off Friday night with some sort of big "welcoming" event, probably dinner, followed a 12-Step meeting and then some sort of social event, such as bingo. Saturday there'll be a continental breakfast, followed by a day of workshops devoted to subjects of particular interest to gays and lesbians in recovery, but not necessarily "about" recovery. Topics might include, "Sober and Dating", "Over 50?", "Aging Parents and their Rapidly Aging Gay Children". Stuff like that. Everyone will share their experience, strength and hope on the topics and, hopefully, everyone will take something home that'll help them to lead better, sober, lives. That's the theory, at any rate.

Then, on Saturday night, there'll be a BIG dinner, an even bigger 12-Step meeting and then some sort of entertainment program, followed by a dance. Sunday morning they'll have a real "sit-down" breakfast, another workshop or two then, finally, around noon, they'll elect officers for the next roundup and everyone will head home.

I've been to two of these things before, both of them in Philadelphia. But I haven't been to one in a couple of years. Surgeries and/or other events conspired to keep me away from them for at least 3 years now.

They're not just about recovery. They're also about fostering a sense of "fellowship" in recovery and networking with others in the GLBT community from around the region. Because of its location I expect to run into people from Washington (DC), Baltimore, Wilmington (DE) and Philly.

And, yes, there's always the chance of having my eyes meet someone else's "across a crowded room", but I don't go with that intention in mind.

I don't know why they call them roundups. It could be a cowboy thing. You know, as in "rounding up" the herd.

Roundups are not "official" 12-Step sanctioned events, although, technically, they could come under the heading of "retreats" which Bill W., the co-founder of the grandaddy of all 12-Step programs, Alcoholics Anonymous, said were part of the foundation of recovery.

But they're not frowned up, either. They can serve good, sober, purpose.

But no matter what the reasons behind it, I'm really looking forward to it.

If nothing else, I expect to clean up at Bingo and get some major shopping done at the Rehoboth Outlets (tax-free Delaware shopping!). And how gay is that??!!!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Anna Whatsherface

My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
It gives a lovely light.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, "A Few Figs from Thistles", 1920
US poet (1892 - 1950)

Anna Nichole Smith died yesterday at the age of 39. It would be very easy to be snarky, but I'm going to try to avoid it. She epitomized everything that was great and beautiful and stupid about being an American and a Texan. She barely made it out of the eighth grade. She worked in a titty-bar. She met a rich old coot and made his last year on earth a happy one. Why shouldn't she get a half a billion bucks for it? I'll bet the old coot thought she was worth every penny.

She became a media whore, addicted to being watched (amongst other things), no matter what the reason. She knew she was a trainwreck but went along for the painful ride anyway. She took drugs, probably lots of them. She probably drank a lot and ate a lot, too.

The fact is, on the surface it looks suspiciously like she was an addict... to everything.

Of course all she really wanted was to be loved. A lot of people self-medicate and die early because they have this great big empty "love-me" space in the middle of their souls, which goes back to childhood. I should know. I had one and tried to do the same thing. Luckily for me, I failed.

You can flip through our roster of dead American "personalities" and odds are pretty good that MOST of them wound up pursuing fame to fill that empty love-hole, and many of them wound up pursuing it right into the grave when they realized that a million photographs of themselves, smeared all over the tabloids, will never make up for the missing cuddle they didn't get from mommy when they were sick, or the bullying slap they got from daddy when they were seven. And yes, it is that simple. Orson Welles knew it and shot it in close-up... the lips of the dying Charles Foster Kane uttering one single word summing up a lifetime of desperately shitty living in the relentless pursuit of the one thing he could never, ever have again... "Rosebud"...

Anna's name is all over the papers today and probably will be the butt of tons of jokes by the late night comics until Sunday morning, after both Saturday Night Live and MAD-TV get through crucifying her tawdry little memory. Soon though, she'll just be another footnote in Hollyweird History.

It's hard to work up much sympathy for folks who clearly got everything they have, not because of hard work or diligence, but simply because they have great facial bones or big tits. Harder still to sympathize when they seemingly have everything, yet bitch about the pain. Pain? WHAT PAIN?

I really do feel sorry for the newborn infant, no matter who the father winds up being. Primarily because she, as the only rightful heiress to whatever fortune there winds up being, will find herself being saddled with a bunch media-whore daddies who will fritter away said fortune litigating her parentage right into the poorhouse. As usual, only the lawyers will win.

The greatest tragedy in all this is that there wasn't, and isn't, a single adult in the whole drama who could turn around and bitch-slap everyone involved for being so monumentally self-serving and stupid.

But I've gotta admit it... and I am ashamed of it, but I too love watching the entire show.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

King George the Unanointed

There was an interesting sidebar in last Sunday's NYTimes Magazine. It purports to quote James Madison, a man who knew a thing or two about our Constitution and, more importantly, about the intent of his co-framers, notwithstanding the exact language they wound up using.

This is a portion of the quote from something called: "Letters and Other Writings of James Madison."

"The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the Legislature the power of declaring a state of war [and] the power of raising armies... A delegation of such powers [to the president] would have struck, not only at the fabric of our Constitution, but at the foundation of all well organized and well checked governments. The separation of the power of declaring war from that of conducting it, is wisely contrived to exclude the danger of its being declared for the sake of its being conducted." [my emphasis]

The quote is actually part of a larger discussion of which powers devolve to which branch both by virtue of being expressed and, more importantly, about by being merely implied.

Time and again in the larger piece Madison warns in the most extreme language (well, extreme for the 18th century) about the power to absolutely corrupt that absolute power almost certainly guarantees. He goes on at length about the duty of Congress to impose checks on the president and even goes so far as to say that it is the duty of the president to pursue peace at all costs in order to restrain a war-crazy Congress.

So our current problems with the Imperial Presidency (for that is what it has become) are not the result of a bunch of power hungry clowns who have come along and SEIZED the power to make themselves imperial, it's that one of the co-equal branches, Congress, has consistently and shamefully abandoned it's right and DUTY to constrain the Chief Magistrate at every turn.

In other words, George W. is no fluke. Our so-called elected representatives have handed war, the crown, the sceptre and the orb, to him on a silver platter.

If Madison were alive today he'd be horrified that we've gone and elected ourselves a King.

Post Mortem

Molly Ivins passed away the other day. She was a hell-raising reporter from Texas who never feared to speak truth to power. I will sorely miss her. She always loved putting politicians in their place and loved bashing the Bushes as much as I do. She went after George, Sr. one time for using the word "summer" as a verb (only the richest of the rich actually "summer" someplace.) But my absolute favorite anecdote about her concerns Pat Buchanan's address to the Republican National Convention in 1992 when he referred to the "culture wars." Her response to the speech was great... "it probably sounded better in the original German."

RIP Ms. Ivins.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Old Farthood - Part Deux

Remind me to never throw myself into the subway doors again.

When I was young I thought nothing of wedging myself into the subway doors in the hopes that the conductor would open them wide enough for me (and several others) to sneak into the car... rather than waiting a whole five minutes for the next train to come along.

Noo Yawkers are an impatient lot. We want what we want when we want it. And we don't want to hear any shit about it, either.

Anyway, I don't recover from such nonsense as quickly as I used to do. I'm in a lot of physical pain this morning. I bruised a rib, or pulled a something. All I know is that I wince when I lift my arm like this.... (pause while everyone says, "WELL, DON'T LIFT YOUR ARM LIKE THAT!")

I remember being down the beach house (yes, the family used to have a beach house) sometime in the late 80's. My stepmom had retired and, in those days, I'd go down every year and spend a week alone with her. Anyway, one day I reached up into the kitchen cupboards to get something and something didn't go quite right and all of a sudden, SOMETHING HURT LIKE A SON-OF-A-BITCH. "OUCH" I yelled. She came darting into the kitchen (she's about 4'11", soaking wet) and yelled back, "WHAT HAPPENED?" I told her that I was merely reaching for something when something went horriby awry and I was in PAIN, BLAH, BLAH, SELF-PITY, ETC.

Well, I should've known better than to look for sympathy from her. All she said was, "How old are you know?", so I told her, "38"

She just shook her head, turned around, started to walk away and muttered loud enough for me to hear, "Yeah, that's about the time when that starts happening."


Don't get me wrong, I love my stepmother, but because she didn't raise me she doesn't have those same maternal feelings for me as she does for my half-sister and.... oh, who the hell am I bullshitting? She doesn't have much pity for anybody, come to think of it, whether she raised them or not.

Anyway, the real subject I'm dancing around is that I found out last night that mom's mind is starting to go. I want to cry. I mean, I always knew this day would come, but no matter how much we think we're prepared for these things... we never really are.

I know, deep down inside, that in the next year or two things are going to change, dramatically, for my stepmom and my dad.

I went through this before, with my birth-mom, back in the late 80's and early 90's. But there's a big difference between now and then.

I was drunk then. This time, I can't run away from the pain.

Nor do I want to.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Old Farthood

Let's face it, I'm getting old, and so is my entire generation. A quick surf of the web today revealed a number blog titles such as "Face it, Boomers - You're in Geezerhood!"

It's twue, it's twue.

I've been getting old for some time now. I probably noticed it... well, I SHOULD'VE noticed it when I had my heart attack in 1989, at the age of 41. But I was way too busy making money, smoking, drinking, screwing my brains out and hating every minute of my life to pay much attention to it then.

Nor did I pay the least bit attention to my so-called health during the last few years of my most intensive drinking. I was desperately hoping to die, not live. God had other plans, obviously.

Even in early sobriety, I was aware of new aches and pains I had previously never noticed, but I just accepted those as an inevitable consequence of so much smoking and drinking.

The shit hit the fan, though, when I had an angiogram in February of 2003. I wasn't surprised that my cardiology group had suggested that I have one. I hadn't had one since my giant coronary in 1989, and God only knew how clogged up I'd gotten since then! I didn't escape from the hospital that cold February morning before I'd been cornered by the chief of cardio-thoracic surgery at RWJ (Robert Wood Johnson) Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey who, with his blindingly blond good looks and blindingly beautiful teeth, informed my drab, sad-sack self, that I was a "ticking time bomb" and that he'd be doing a triple-bypass on me the following week.

It was two weeks, and it was a quadruple-bypass.

But never mind that now.

The important thing is that I started to feel my age after that. I had terrible aches in my muscles and joints which my (then) internist (subsequently fired for incompetency) did nothing about until last summer when my new cardiologist suggested that we "try" going off of statins for a few days to see if it helped. I've already written about that. I'm doing fine without statins now, living instead on a combination of non-systemic cholesterol reducers called Zetia and Welchol, respectively.

But I have numbness constantly in my feet now. It's pain-free thanks to something called Lyrica, which is an anti-convulsant they prescribe to diabetics who suffer from neuropathy (numbness/tingling).

And lately I've noticed new joint pains, this time in the fingers on my right hand. This is not good. I can take pain in the feet. I've never been a long-distance runner. But my hands are my living.

Oh, and food. There was a time when whatever I ate ran right through me like a dose of salts. I maintained my slender 6'5", 190 pound, frame for quite a few years. But after a couple of years of couch-potato-hood, a nearly non-existent metabolism, combined with old age and an overfondness for salty/fatty snacks made with vast quantities of nuts and/or potatoes, the pounds have accrued to the point where I'm now toting around me and my twin brother.

The great irony is that I never planned to be this old. The original plan, as I imagined it at the age of 17, was to be dead by 30. Somehow or other that got re-written along the way to 40. But my 40th was spent lavishly entertaining nearly 2 dozen friends in a very expensive, posh, French restaurant on the East Side, downing gallons of Dom Perignon and dining on Filet Mignon and Dover Sole. So I upped the ante to 50 that night. The following year I had a coronary. The rest of the 40's were spent in a downward spiral. By 48 I was really hoping that 50 would never happen. No dice. In fact, I spent my 50th birthday standing in front of a judge pleading guilty to a drunk-driving charge and wondering how my life had unravelled to such a degree.

Now I'm staring at 60 and there are lots of unanswered questions about that. I'm supposed to not worry and let God sort it all out. So that's what I try to do.

However, every once in a while I can't help but wonder about the future.

A future that's nearly here and with it, my old age.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Old Friends

For reasons I'll probably never completely understand old friends have been cropping up, left and right, in my life lately.

It started a couple of months ago when I got an e-mail from an old friend in England, whom we'll call "George" (for St. George, the patron Saint of England.. you know.. the one who slayed the dragon).

Anyway, George is a decade or two older than me and I originally met him, and his then lover, now deceased, "Harry", in 1979. I met them through my ex. Over the years they, and then after Harry passed away, George alone, would often visit the states and I would go and visit with them. On my first trip to England, in 1981, they took great pains to show me the England of "the 1930's", the one that appears on tv in either Poirot or Ms. Marple mysteries on PBS. It wasn't until my next visit, in 1984 with my brother in tow, that I realized that England even had freeways ("motorways").

When Harry passed away we were very concerned for George, even though we knew he had a good, solid, circle of friends. I visited him several more times before I left my ex. Through George (and Harry) I met a number of their friends, all male couples. One couple had a gorgeous Edwardian Townhome in the Earl's Court section of London, in addition to a beautiful weekend "beach home" in Brighton, near to the famous Prince Regent's "Chinese" Pavilion built by the spendthrift George IV while he was still the Prince of Wales. Another couple were international, one being English and his partner being a Catalonian who headed the Spanish National Bank in London. Eventually, after they both retired, they moved to Barcelona to be near the Spaniard's family, and especially his mother. I visited them once there, in 1993, just before I disappeared into the mists of booze. They also had a weekend "getaway home" in Sitges, the gay beachside resort about 20 miles south of Barcelona, on the Mediterranean.

There were others, including even a Vicar, the Reverend "Gin-Wrigley" as he was kiddingly known.

I loved them all and enjoyed both their company AND their extremely gracious hospitality towards me over the years. The Spaniard/Brit couple, especially, had wild senses of humor and were extremely funny to be with and around. They would somtimes stage mock "battle royales" with each other, usually at dinner time, screaming at the top of their lungs, which never alarmed the neighbors, who'd grown used to their shenanigans over the years.

I thought all of this was lost to me. The Europeans were "the first" to go when I started whittling my world down to the size of a scotch bottle. I thought, "Well, they're all HIS friends [the exes], not mine! They don't really want anything to do with ME!"

How wrong I was. As I mentioned above, "George" finally broke down and got a computer and an e-mail account sometime in November or December. He sent me an e-mail. I e-mailed him back. The next thing I knew, over the last month, I've been barraged with e-mails from most of the entire crowd. It's been heartwarming and exhilarating.

Eventually I sent them all a one-page description of what happened to me over the last 13 years, and how I've bounced back thanks to God and my recovery.

They've written back how grateful they are that I survived and that I'm a better, happier, person than the one they originally knew and loved.

These are gifts which have no price tag. I never in a million years could have imagined that this would've happened and, more importantly, just how much it would mean to me.

I am blessed and humbled. God is doing for me what I could never do for myself. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

On-Line Frustration

I really needed to buy some more shirts, so I left myself a Post-It (what did we do before Post-Its?), stuck to the side of my flat-screen monitor, to spend at least a half-hour today wasting company money by browsing the Land's End website in search of a half-dozen shirts I a) can fit into and b) live with.

I used to like shopping on-line. That was before I found myself bogged down in a mare's nest nightmare of multiple logon ID's and thousand's of passwords I immediately created and forgot over the last decade.

Then I started doing the worst thing anyone can do, I started to "normalize" all of my logins and passwords so that one-size would fit all. If anyone ever manages to get hold of my login id and password, I'm screwed.

They've gotten very fancy at these websites these days. Time was you just went in and ordered five shirts in your size and that was the end of that. Not today. Oh, no. Nowadays you no sooner get to the page you're looking for (Dress Shirts->Big/Tall->Straight Collar) when you get an annoying popup asking you if you'd "like some on-line help?" which, you full-well know, is being manned (or womanned) by some flunky in a sari in beautiful, downtown Mumbai, and who wouldn't know a western-style men's dress shirt if they fell over it.

Once you've managed to dismiss the annoying OutSourcer, who works for mere rupees on the dollar, you're faced with a bewildering barrage of "Sorry - Out of Stock" messages every time you click on whatever it is that you've just fallen in love with. Or "not available in this size" when you've found a color you like. Or "Would you like monogramming with that... for only five bucks more???"

They might as well ask if I'd like it SuperSized, too.

Then, as your shopping cart fills up, you hit some mythical jackpot. In my case it was $250.00, after which "everything else will be shipped for FREE!"... well, isn't that good news? In that case, send me two of everything.

I have to admit the next part was my fault. I got into a spending mood and decided to check out the ties... while I was there. So I bought two of 'em at $45.00 a piece (big and tall guys pay more!). Then I started the arduous process of checkout. I got to the credit card info input page. Fortunately for me, I do NOT allow websites to "store my credit card data" for future reference, by me, them or anybody else. I put in the necessary digits and clicked on "Proceed." They showed me my grand total, along with a list of everything. I changed my mind about the ties. And the monograms. I decided to change my whole order. I thought the website was going to have a nervous breakdown as I tried to simplify my order. Eventually though, I succeeded.

I pressed the magical "Send" button and my checking account was instantly debited, even though everything I ordered is backordered for a week.

Was there ever a time, aside from "lay-away", when you gave somebody your money and they said they'd "have it for you in a couple of weeks?"

Anyway, I'm sure the shirts will be fine... when they get here.