Friday, June 29, 2007

What the Hell is Going On Here?

It must be a full moon. Yesterday was a zoo around here (old 12-Step program saying, "Just because the monkey is off my back doesn't mean that the circus has left town!").

For several days there have been pile-ups or broken down vehicles or gawd knows what else causing hours long delays on the inbound and outbound commute. This morning it was "an event" that left a residue of about 12,000 pounds of shredded, pink, R-13, fiberglas insulation blowing around the turnpike like some kind of a Queer Version of the tumbleweed in the opening credits of "Gunsmoke." (see: 1950's, old queens)

We never did see what had caused it. Perhaps a Home Depot delivery truck had inexplicably exploded during the morning rush. Whatever. We were an hour late getting into midtown.

Then there are the whackos at work. One associate I work for, Mr. Candidate for Rehab, went ballistic on me yesterday because I didn't skip lunch and work on his document, instead. Apparently that permanently negatively impacted his social life. If he's depending on me for a viable social life, he's in deep shit. I didn't bother to tell him that I no longer "do" guilt-trips. But if I ever do tell him it'll be preceeded by "Look, Sparky, if you think I don't care about you, you're right!"

Still, my Sponsor wants me to make nice with others, so I spent all day yesterday trying to placate him. Which is why I never got around to posting something (which I usually do during my lunch hour, which I generally spend at my desk.)

I'm just glad it's Friday. I can handle crazy as along as it's of my own making, which it usually is on weekends. Maybe I'll see "Sicko" this weekend. Or "Ratatouille." Or even the Fantastic Four sequel. Something. Anything.

I need a vacation. And a week from tomorrow I'm leaving on one. I don't know how I'm going to handle being away for 2 weeks, without a laptop from which to blog and surf the web. I guess I'd better start shopping for internet cafes on Cape Cod and down in Rehoboth NOW.

I'll just die if I can't read all my favorite blogs every day. I might have to read a book or something.

God forbid.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Counting Days

A friend of mine in my 12-Step program is back to counting days again. What that means is he lost his "time" in sobriety by using drugs and booze and is, once again, counting his sobriety in terms of days instead of months or years.

He "went out." That's what we call it. Big time. My friend is a musician. He'd been contracted by a big foreign musical organization to play with them for awhile. He managed to get overseas a few weeks back, and to even get in a few days of rehearsals. But then... something snapped. He was alone in a hotel in a strange city... totally disconnected from the fellowship of his 12-Step program. He'd been weaning himself from the program (his support group and home group) for over a year. He didn't bother looking up local meetings of his program in the city where he was staying. He'd compartmentalized his life to the point where no one knew where he was, exactly. Not even his wife here in the states.

When he disappeared after four days she must've been panic-stricken. I can only imagine what it would be like to have someone you love fall off the face of the earth in a foreign city, without a clue as to their whereabouts or well-being.

He holed up in that hotel for an additional 4 days. He even hid from the hotel management by hiding under the bed, at one point. He managed to elude detection for another 24 hours that way. He was using booze and crack the whole time.

He hasn't been entirely clear on what prompted him to stop. But apparently he managed to blow through several thousand dollars in a week and then poured himself, still detoxing, onto a plane for an 8 hour flight back to New York.

It's a wonder he didn't die on the plane. Seriously.

I've never seen anybody as shook up about being that close to death in all my years in recovery. As he was sharing his story with me the tears of fear and gratitude kept falling from his eyes. I think that maybe he's finally lost enough.

Because that's what it takes to get serious about getting sober. You have to lose enough in order to be totally ready.

And you have to swallow all of your pride to announce at your home group that you are, once again, counting days.

I'm grateful that my friend is alive. I'm grateful that he came back. I'm grateful that I am here, in order to find out what happens to people who aren't.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Flirting with Straight Men

I love hanging around, and flirting with, straight guys. I've always liked it. There are lots of theories why.

Theory One. Avoidance

My first lover was straight and married. I was 19, he was 39. There was no love involved, it was pure, hot, man-on-man sex. My first crush (after the first boyfriend.... don't ask) was on a straight guy. He was another sailor. My second crush was also on another sailor. When I finally got out of the Navy and got myself a gay boyfriend I didn't lose any time in finding a bajillion reasons why he was unsatisfactory. When I got honest, though, there was only one reason I dumped him. Because he cramped my drinking style.

But nothing says "Keep Away" like dating some straight man who's gonna run home to momma after a night of hot, sweaty, deniable, sex.

Theory Two. Self-loathing.

I was never entitled to any happiness. Growing up in the sort of dysfunctional family I had, I wouldn't have known a "happy relationship" if it'd come up and bit me on the ass.

As far as I knew, sex went hand in hand with unhappiness. It was just another way of self-medicating (until I discovered booze). I was not worthy of being loved. I'd heard that message often enough as a child from people who would be horrified to know that that was the message that they sent me. And long after those people died I continued to act as judge, jury and executioner of my own, continued misery. It was a dirty job, but somebody had to hate me.

Theory Three. Fear of Success/Failure/Happiness.

Groucho Marx once said that he would "never belong to a club that would have" him as a member. I related to that. I was such a mess. I'm not such a mess now, although I'm still tip-toeing through the mine field of my past, trying to find some serenity and love and peace in my present and future. It's gotten lots better. So have I. Now I believe that I am loveable, and that I am just as deserving as the next person to live happily, and paired if I so choose, as the next person.

But even in sobriety I find myself still retreating to the safe haven of flirting exclusively with straight men and leaving skid marks while escaping any possible romantic involvement with gay men. What if I find some guy who loves me? What am I supposed to do with that? I'm sure I'll fuck it up and make the poor SOB miserable. Better to avoid love altogether and stick to nice, safe, distant, emotionally unavailable straight men.

But there's just one teensy little problem with flirting with straight guys.

These days most guys ain't so straight. As a matter of fact, even in the old days guys weren't so straight either. I can think, offhand, of at least 4 guys I knew in college who would've happily bedded down with me for at least one tumble in the hay, if not more. 4 guys who were, for all intents and purposes, straight as arrows. In one case, he and I both had permission from his girlfriend (which was kind of weird). She told us both, flat-out, before she disappeared for the summer, leaving the two of us alone in the house, that if he was ever going to "fool around that way" she would've preferred that it would be with me. She literally gave us permission.

And FYI, no we didn't. I knew I'd never be able to look her in the eyes again if we'd had. But we came close that summer. I think that today all three of us are relieved that nothing happened that beautiful summer 30 years ago. I'm not sure what their grown children would've thought of it. Or their grandchildren, for that matter.

Look, I'm pretty sure I don't want to entice straight men into a lurid life of homosexuality. But God help me, it's a helluva lot of fun trying!

Monday, June 25, 2007


Yesterday was Pride Sunday in a lot of places. I saw a lot of people running around in Mardi Gras drag, some of whom I suspect were utterly clueless as to what it was, precisely, that they were supposed to be celebrating, other than just being gay (and God knows, if you're young and beautiful, that is ABSOLUTELY ENOUGH).

My colleague in bloggorhea, Jake over at NoFo, has a wonderful piece today about what it is that we LGBT's have to be proud about. It's a good list and a good piece. You should read it. Jake's a fabulous writer.

I've enumerated here before why I no longer make the long march down Fifth anymore, so I'm not going to go over that again.

But it might be worthwhile to recall just how things actually were after midnight, on the early morning of June 28th, 1969, the night of the 1st Stonewall Riot. And to recall the events which led up to it.

This Wikipedia entry is a very good primer on the history of GLF (Gay Liberation Front). Check it out and take a few minutes to remember how things were in those days.

I wasn't present that Saturday morning of the riot. My first visit to a gay bar still lay a year or so in my future. But I was having my first legal drink that night. I was in the Navy and a newly minted Petty Officer Third Class.

But in part because of what happened that night, within the next 3 years I would come out of the Navy and out of the closet to friends and family alike. By the fall of 1972 I would be the newly elected President of the Gay Community of the University of Delaware and would spend the next few years marching in a lot of protest marches... not just in New York, but in Columbus (Ohio), Washington (DC), Philadelphia and sundried other places. I would also meet my first boyfriend, a beautiful blond named Rick whose heart I would quickly break, at a Saturday night dance at the GLF Firehouse at 99 Wooster Street down in SoHo. We met in October of 1972.

I still carry a torch for him.

Later on I felt hurt when a number of lesbians, our sisters in liberation, started to recuse themselves from participating in the the largely male dominated GLF groups in various cities and universities. But I understood it. I went out of my way during those years to fully identify my innate heterosexism, patriarchal thinking and racial bias. If I wanted liberation for myself, then I had to be willing to grant it, unconditionally, to others.

Could I have done more? Oh God, yes. I hardly scratched the surface of what I could and should have done. It always seemed that everyone else was doing so much more.

But I did a lot. And I'm pretty proud of that.

So even though I don't march down Fifth Avenue anymore, this year's marchers, whether they know it or not, are following in my footsteps and the footsteps of thousands of other older gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people who made that same trek downtown, numerous times, 30+ years ago.

And that's a very good thing. Something, in fact, to be proud of.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Getting On

It's my penultimate birthday before the big "Six-Oh."

I am officially decades older than I ever thought I would be. I have severely mixed feelings about having achieved (?) this venerable age. Mostly my feelings revolve around small arms and household poisons and wondering where I can obtain both.

Sometime in my late teens, probably around the age of 17 or so, I was so unhappy with life that I remember being awakened from a violent dream one night in which I was being shot to death at the age of 30, I'd be "done in." My "killer" in the dream was a jealous lover. I thought it was very glamorous and dramatic to be killed in one's prime by a jealous boyfriend.

Keep in mind that at the ripe old age of 17 I'd never had a boyfriend and, because it was 1965, I wasn't even sure what a boyfriend was... but I knew that a) I wanted one and b) I wanted to die at his hands while I was still young and beautiful (stifle yourselves).

Flash forward to the age of 41. Two weeks after that unremarkable birthday I had a massive coronary on the evening of one of the hottest days ever recorded in New York.

I lived (obviously), but only barely. For at least another decade and a half I was sure that God hated me so He kept me alive. For that decade and a half I smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish. I wanted to be more right than God. I was jealous that I wasn't God. I hated God because I wasn't Him. I hated God because I was still alive.

Then I got sober 90 days before my 50th birthday. I never told a soul, not even my 12-Step sponsor, that it was my birthday. I believe I was in court having my license suspended for six months that day. It was a great way to spend my 50th birthday! I was paying my debt to society, starting to clean up the wreckage of the past, and moving out of my drunken life into my new, sober one.

I have continued, for the last decade, to keep this date quiet from all of my new friends and acquaintences. Fortunately for me, most of my old friends, and what little remains of my family, have nearly completely forgotten my birthday.

Look, I have this theory that there's an age beyond which you should just get over the fact that people forget your birthday.

That age is 7.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dr. Digit

I've been waiting weeks for my annual date with Dr. Digit aka my urologist. I saw him tonight, after I was finally released from jury duty for another couple of years.

He looked at the latest x-rays of my kidney stones and told me how they haven't changed much in the last year.

He then crammed a well-lubed finger someplace where I've only let several (thousand) other men place well-lubed things, but it's been a long time and, oh God, I'm so lonely...

But I digress. He announced that I have the prostate of a 20 year old. No, he didn't tell me to give it back because I was getting it all wrinkled.

But he dropped the PSA bomb on me today. A PSA test is a preliminary blood test for prostate cancer. Apparently, he saw the results of one I had last year, before my annual visit then.

He may have mentioned something about a slightly elevated PSA at the time, but it was a busy year, what with diabetes and everything, so I probably let it slip my mind that he wanted a follow-up reading in January. I didn't do it.

I did have some blood work done last weekend, in anticipation of my upcoming annual physical, at the end of July. I'm sure my internist ordered up a PSA test as part of that battery. It's pretty standard for men over 50 during their yearly physical.

It would be very easy to become alarmed about this. If I were in a relationship with somebody, it would probably scare the hell out of me.

And that reminded me of my ex. His internist told him, in 1992, that he had an elevated PSA. One test led to another and in no time, he was having his prostate removed. I'm sure it scared the shit out of him. He kept things to himself. For weeks he thought he was HIV positive, and kept it to himself. All of a sudden we were using condoms, after 15 years of a so-called monogamous relationship. I thought it was odd, but then, he was pretty odd. It was only two months later that he found out that those unusual corpuscles in his urine weren't because of HIV. He found out that it was merely prostate cancer, instead. I stayed with him all through that, including a recovery that included having to learn how to inject himself with chemicals in order to achieve an erection again.

Today I have a new compassion for people who live in fear. I know what it means to live in fear. I lived there for decades. Only in recovery have I learned how to put fear in it's proper place. 90% of my groundless fears are just that... groundless.

So, I could turn to the dark side of my self-centered, fear-based mind right now, and project a worst-case scenario of being riddled with bone cancer by Christmas and dead within a year (unlikely), or I can just sit tight, go about my life and wait for the results of the blood work.

Meanwhile, I'll focus on the good things in my life. Like friends. And family. Hell, even doctors (I have some really good ones!).

And no matter what happens I will have complete faith that it's part of some plan by someone or something greater than myself... and that it's nothing I need to drink over.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Voir Drear

I just spent a mind (and butt) numbing day (from 7:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) trapped in a courtroom in Superior Court in and for the County of Mercer in the State of New Jersey.

They were trying to find 14 people who would be available for the next couple of weeks to hear some case about some guy who got nabbed with a ton of drug paraphenalia and crack/cocaine in Princeton, of all places for God's Sake (is nothing sacred?)

They blew through over 60 prospective jurors before they hit the jackpot. I was 1 of 15 remaining jurors in the pool. The pool kept dwindling because people either a) knew somebody whose sister once dated a guy whose mother was shacking up with some skeevy bastard who ran a crank lab down in the Pine Barrens or b) their stepbrother's fiance is a cousin to somebody who is a corrections officer in North Dakota or c) they're leaving on a month long vacation to Norway tomorrow night.

Had I actually been called to the bench to begin the process of voir dire ("speak the truth") my ace in the hole for weasling out of it was that I'm in recovery. Defense attorneys are notorious for NOT wanting people in recovery on the trial jury for their drug-dealer clients. They suspect, and rightly so, that we'll hang their asses.

As excruciating as this process is, for everybody, it is our best hope for obtaining at least a fairly impartial jury for our trials. I mean, I'd want a jury composed of people like me, wouldn't you?

Anyway, the good news is that I am now relieved of jury duty for at least a couple of years (except for Grand Jury).

I intend to treat myself by taking tomorrow off.

Except for my appointment with my Urologist at 5:45 p.m. tomorrow night.

Hmmmm, come to think of it, maybe jury duty wasn't such a bad thing after all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Prisoner of Zenda

Day Two of being "on call" for jury duty and I've yet to be summoned to the Imperial Court in beautiful downtown Trenton (pronounced "Treton" by the locals).

Which, perversely, has worked WONDERS on my efforts to whiz through Season Two of "Lost." I polished off five episodes today. It was either that or "The View" and "Oprah." And I'd rather slit my wrists than watch either of those.

When I called the check-in number last Friday I was released for yesterday. So I went to work. Then, yesterday when I called the check-in number again, the recording said that I was free for this morning but had to be on-call for the afternoon session and that I should call again "after 11:30" to see I would be needed. Sooooo, I called at 11:30 and was released for today. By then it was too late to go to work and too hot to do anything of interest on a weekday, so I watched "Lost."

I called again after five and was informed that they would like to see me (and potential jurors numbered 0700 through 1500) at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow. So, first thing in the morning I'm off to the Emerald City, or whatever they call it, to do my civic duty by sitting around in a stuffy jury pool room with a couple of hundred other "invited guests" of the state, for mind-numbing hour after mind-numbing hour of sheer boredom, punctuated by moments of start raving insanity.

By five p.m. tomorrow I'm sure we'll ALL be candidates for anger management classes. I already am, and I haven't even been there yet!


I thought I was through with all this civic duty crap when I finished up my four year enlistment in the Navy a hundred bajillion years ago.

Still, there is one thing I know... if I ever found myself on "that side" of the law again, I would desperately hope and pray that I could get a jury composed of people just like me.

Because I am eminently qualified to determine which side has the best lawyers.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Let No One Sleep

Watch, or better yet, listen, to this. It's Paul Potts singing "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's "Turandot" on the show "Britain's Got Talent". Yes, that's Simon Cowell on the panel. He plays both sides of the Atlantic.

Paul's performance took my breath away. The aria itself is painfully beautiful no matter who sings it and always makes me cry. But it's especially poignant here because Mr. Potts is a Team Leader at Cellphone City (or something like that) in England.

By the way, he won. He's going to use some of the money to get his teeth fixed. It just goes to show you, don't ever give up on your dreams.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Mary Poppins Weekend

Why Mary Poppins? Because so far this weekend is turning out to be... "Practically Perfect in Every Way!" That's why.

The weather has been fantastic. Yesterday was probably one of the top 10 days I can ever remember, weather-wise. Today is going to be toastier, but still beautifully clear.

It's also perfect because I've had very few onerous chores to do. Oh, I had to get some blood work done, and pick up some x-rays for my appointment with my urologist on Thursday, but after that, my time was my own. And I do love a few unscheduled hours every week. I frittered it away watching a couple of episodes of season two of "Lost." The Tailies have made it to the other side of the island and the leader of the Tailies has shot and killed Blondie.

And speaking of blood work, I got the results of the tests I had last weekend on behalf of the new endocrinologist. My A1C (the end-all test for diabetics) is 5.9. That's actually just below the point of being defined as diabetic (my previous readings have been 13.9 when I was diagnosed, then 6.1 and 6.1 in back-to-back readings, six months apart).

I'm very pleased with myself about that.

Oh, and after I published my "Kidnapped" piece, I called the magic check-in number for jury duty and found out that I've been excused for tomorrow. So I get to go to work, instead!


Then I get to check the number again, tomorrow, after five, to find out what my status will be on Tuesday. They keep you on "hold" like this all week.

Mercer County sucks.


Father's Day

I have a very conflicted relationship with my father. I had almost no interaction with him as a child (my mom was a vindictive bitch and ordered everyone in the family to keep him from me, and vice versa, throughout my childhood). Anyway, the Handsome Prince was "supposed" to come along and rescue me from the clutches of the Evil Queen, only he never showed up and it turned out that the Prince had fucking issues of his own.

So, I don't have a lot of positive, warm-fuzzy feelings towards dear old sperm donor. As I've posted here before, I'm closer to my step-mom than I am to him.

I'm sure it came as a bitter disappointment to him when he found out I was gay. But no more bitter or disappointing than my feelings of abandonment by him throughout my childhood.

We're both very careful to never step too forcefully into those two subjects.

We both know deep down that we could, if we chose, open up a world of major-league hurt on each other.

And out of respect to the woman we both love we just keep our mouths shut.

To please her, I will call him later to wish him, as sincerely as I can, a happy Father's Day.

So, just for today, I think I'll enjoy the weather, enjoy my freedom and be grateful that a good woman spent 50 years making up to my dad for the year he had to endure of my mother.

Friday, June 15, 2007


I've been kidnapped. Starting next Monday I'm on jury duty in Mercer County New Jersey for a week, or a trial, whichever is more excruciating.

Every other county in New Jersey, and probably all the rest of the counties in the country, have a rule of "1 day or 1 trial" and then you're done. Not Mercer County. For, although the county is the home to Princeton University, it also has the misfortune of being home to the state capital, Trenton. And Trenton has some pretty unsavory neighborhoods, if you get my meaning, if you catch my drift.

With any luck I'll get some gangland killing but I've done this before and I know they hate having people on juries who work at law firms. Even if they are just measly assistants.

I'm hoping that jury duty ends at a decent hour every day next week because I have an appointment to see Every Man of a Certain Age's Best Friend, his urologist, next Thursday evening at 5:45 p.m. I see him once a year (I got another midriff x-ray last Saturday), so he can see how my kidney stones are doing. So far, so good. I haven't passed any and they seem to be benignly growing with no intent to escape.

Next Friday, if I live that long, will be my penultimate birthday in my 50's. I'm trying to decide between having birthday cake or cyanide.

My 50's really flew by, unlike my 40's. My 40's dragged, mostly because I was so drunk and unhappy. It turns out that the happier you are, the faster time flies. It reminds me of the very un-PC joke about the guy who was told by his doctor that he had six months to live. "Well," the guy said, "I guess in that case I'd better marry a Jewish American Princess and move to Duluth. At least it'll be the longest six months of my life."

My 50's, though, were all spent in recovery. And although there were days which I thought would never end, the years flew by.

So I'm trying (seriously now) to decide what to do for my birthday. I'll be in court that day, but I won't be in court next Saturday, and I'm thinking about doing something I really love to do.

Go to Six Flags/Great Adventure and ride Kingda-Ka until I puke! (My buddy Jake did a shout-out regarding Six Flags/Great America, boyfriends and roller coasters the other day.)

Nothing says "STILL A TEEN AT HEART (but not the knees)" louder than riding roller coasters until one needs a couple of hip replacements.

Or maybe I'll just schlep down to the gay beach in Belmar and lie, like a beached whale, upon the sun-drenched sand for hours on end, ogling the golden youth of NooJoyZee.

And if I see something I like, maybe I'll kidnap HIM and force him into a life of wanton debauchery... or debauched wantoness, whichever comes first.

It's a very good time for kidnappings. It brings out the "kid" in all of us.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bizarre Commute

I had a very bizarre evening. It all started when I ran into a waitress I've known for years on the downtown "E" train. She was on her way to work, I was on my way to the Port Authority Bus Terminal to catch a bus home for the evening.

I was glad to have been in the right place at the right time. Earlier in the day my friend had gotten a call from Paris (she's French) that her sister had died overnight. My friend was clearly devastated and was merely going to work because she didn't know what else to do. I'm a big proponent of "when in doubt, keep busy", so I was glad my friend was doing just that.

I make no secret of my belief that things "happen" for a reason. I think that I was meant to be there for her. I think she needed a friendly face, and I was more than happy to be that face. We were never bosom buddies, but I've always had a soft spot in my heart for her. She is so genuinely sweet, it would melt the coldest of hearts.

She got off at 50th Street and I stayed on until the train pulled in to 42nd Street. I got upstairs to my departure gate and, no sooner had I gotten in line when I saw my brother trundling up the ramp towards me.

He's my baby brother, but in many ways he's more of a man than I'll ever be (I'm sure he'd say the same about me). I told him to stick with me in our line so we could yak all the way home and that I'd give him a ride to his house from the Park and Ride where I abandon my Element every morning. It was nice to get some quality time with him. We yammered all the way down the turnpike, and during the drive home we promised each other that we'd fix each other's financial problems, should either of us win this week's "Mega-Millions" drawing.

My big plans for the evening included watching TWO episodes of Season Two of "Lost" (actually episodes 5 and 6 of the season). I watched one episode which was largely a flashback of Sun falling in love with the Korean hotel owner's son... only to find out that he was using her as a "cover" for his romance with some American woman he'd met in collge. I was on the verge of watching the next episode when the phone rang. It was my friend Dennis from Baltimore.

Dennis and I go back to the 12th century. Okay, 1971. He and his sigO, Patrick, my college roommate, the Kleen Kween, and I form the nucleus of a summer rental at the beach every year. For decades it was in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, last year and this coming July it'll be on Cape Cod, near Dennisport.

Dennis and I are great company for each other. When we both still smoked (but nobody was supposed to know that), we'd get up at the crack of dawn at the beach every day, put on a fresh pot of coffee and sit on the screened-in porch, overlooking the Atlantic, as the sun came up over the ocean; drinking coffee, smoking ciggies and yakking up a blue-streak about everything and everybody.

Patrick and Richard are real layabouts, never rising before the crack of 9:00 a.m. whereas Dennis and I would've made great bootcamp drill instructors, arising when it was still the dead of night.

The problem is, Dennis and I never know when to shut up. Last night was no exception. An hour after I answered the phone I told him I had to go to bed. And so I did.

Three distinctly different people "happened" into my path last night, each of them diverting me from my complacency.

It's said, in my 12-Step Program, that "if you want to make God laugh, tell Her your plans!"

Sometimes, truer words were never spoken.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I am sick to f*cking death of the NYPD's penchant for staging "terrorist alert" practice drills during the morning rush hour along 42nd Street anywhere from Times Square to Grand Central. Watch the video, above, to see how this works. It usually involves 80 to 100 patrol cars.

Sometime around 6:45 a.m. the alarm goes out and every available squad car within x number of miles of the test site that day (on 42nd Street it's either Grand Central Station, Times Square, the main branch of the Public Library, or the all-important Starbuck's kiosk at the Sixth Avenue entrance to Bryant Park) drops whatever they're doing (coffee and donuts) and careens, sirens blaring, Hollywood bars blazing, to the designated gathering place. They then execute a maneuver I call "the phalanx" (they call it a "surge") wherein they back their patrol cars in off the street, diagonally, onto the sidewalks, thus blocking at least two lanes of traffic and half of two sidewalks. Because there are so many squad cars, this usually involves blocking the street the entire width of a city block, from avenue to avenue.

The cops then abandon their vehicles and congregate in groups which I assume correspond to their individual precinct houses, whereupon their sergeants or lieutenants count heads and then read them a bunch of shit and then keep them hanging around long enough so that everyone will qualify for at least an hour of extra overtime that day.

Needless to say, this pointless excercise in futility brings crosstown traffic to a grinding halt.

They've been doing this ever since 9/11.

I would mind it a lot less if they'd actually have these drills when the terrorists are most likely to strike, i.e. when nobody's looking. But, oddly enough, they only seem to stage these things when it's most likely to increase everybody's paychecks the next week, i.e. at the change of shifts.

I doubt that the terrorists are going to strike in the middle of 42nd Street. It's far more likely that they'll sneak into Grand Central from the sides, from 43rd to 46th streets, along Madison or Lexington .... where nobody would pay any attention to it.

However, doing it on 42nd Street insures that lots of people pay attention to it. Especially tourists who, by now, have heard all about these thrice-weekly maneuvers (one can only conclude that the terrorists have heard about them now, too!), and line up to watch New York's Finest gather to make breakfast plans for later.

In the meantime, a mile-long line of traffic forms behind the phalanx, from both directions, composed of commuter buses, taxis, delivery trucks and poor schmucks trying to get from one river to the other, all sitting, idling, and burning up OPEC oil like there's no tomorrow.

The fact is that after years of doing this at boringly predictable locations and at utterly predictable times the blush has definitely worn off the rose and the NYPD is no longer fooling anybody.

These exercises are no longer really about preparing for a terrorist attack.

They're really about making a lot of overtime for the NYPD.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

David Chase Can Kiss My [cut to black]

Brilliant or uninspired? No matter what you think about it, the series Finale to The Sopranos on Sunday night, which I watched because the Tonys were so interminably boring, was completely unsatisfying to someone like me.

I need closure. I WANT closure. I like plays that have beginnings, middles and ends. This is referred to as "observing the Aristotelian Unities of Time and Place" which is just a fancy-schmancy way of saying that "it makes sense."

Sunday night's closing to The Sopranos did not make any sense. Oh, I "got it" that it was up to me to fill in the blanks, any way I saw fit. I "know" about art, and about how it's "all in the eye of the beholder".

But I have a hot flash for Mr. Chase. TV ain't art. It never was art and it never will be art. That "tv as art" boat sailed at the close of the 1950's when shows like Omnibus and The Bell Telephone Hour started going off the air, to be replaced by hour-long western anthologies and half-hour mindless sitcoms. And why was that? Because the sales departments of networks could charge more for a minute of a successful western or sitcom than it could for an entire hour of high-falutin' "art." That's why.

I have no axe to grind against Mr. Chase. I'm sure it was his best effort. But do you know what? The Series finale to Six Feet Under was 10,000 times more gratifying than whatever it was that I sat through last Sunday night.

I didn't much care for The Sopranos, either as people or as a television series, when it was on. I like it, and them, even less now.

And that includes the horse Mr. Chase rode in on.

Monday, June 11, 2007

12th Step

Today my 12-Step home group had it's bi-annual elections to fill all of its service positions for the coming six months.

I don't know what came over me but my hand accidentally shot up when they asked if anyone wanted to co-chair the Friday morning beginner's meeting.

I won.

This obligates me to be there, every other Friday, from July 1st through December 31st. Don't bother doing the math, that's 13 times. I have a co-chair, a very nice young woman, who'll be doing the other 13 Fridays.

This'll be the 3rd or 4th time I've co-chaired this meeting since I started attending meetings there, in March of 2000.

I don't get a lot of opportunity to be "of service" to others in my 12-Step Program because of the amount of commuting I do. Hence my comment in my bio about spending "too much time" on the New Jersey Turnpike every day. Nevertheless, Service Work is a very important part of recovery, especially for somebody like me, who has a few years of sobriety under his skirt.

I love chairing the Friday meeting. It's the biggest meeting of the week, attendance-wise. Also, it's a beginner's meeting, so we try to keep to beginner's topics, such as "how to avoid getting drunk over the weekend" or "dealing with your parents without resorting to dealing with your dealer."

We tend to get quite a few people who are counting days (from 1 to 90) in recovery at this meeting. We always let them share first. We old-timers keep our traps shut and absolutely love it when the newcomers share. Because their shares are almost always loaded with pain, it serves to remind us of how much pain we were in when we first got clean and sober... and vividly recalling that pain is important if we hope to stay clean and sober in the future.

It's also beneficial to the newcomer to share that pain because it actually helps to lessen it. Whenever people share at 12-Step meetings, everybody wins. The newcomers will benefit from listening to the experience, strength and hope of the old-timers, with whom they strongly identify. To hear how they managed to survive that pain, and to work through their painful issues, using the 12-Steps of recovery, gives the newcomer hope and faith in the program and will, eventually, give them a faith in a Power Greater than Themselves.

I am always humbled whenever I'm selected for service. I'm humbled that my co-recoverers have faith in my ability to lead. I'm also reminded of our Second Tradition which states:

"For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern."

I hope I can keep that in mind from July to December.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Note the hyphen in between the "Show" and "Business" in today's title. That's because there ain't one without the other. I could never get that through my thick skull. I thought if I were as well-loved and funny on stage in New York as I had been, well, at the University of Delaware, my career was assured -- along with fame, wealth and a corner booth on the main floor at Sardi's.

I had to settle for being a member of SAG, AFTRA and Equity which, if you remembered to bring your union cards with you, would entitle you to ask for "the actor's menu" at Sardi's, whereupon the prices were about half what the unsuspecting tourists would pay.

Every year, on this magical night, I start to watch the Antoinette Perry Awards (aka "The Tonys") which are not to be confused with the Sarah Siddons Society Awards, which you see Eve Harrington receiving in the opening scene of "All About Eve." But I digress.

I moved to NYC, in the Spring of 1978, having some vague notion that I was embarking on a glamorous career in show business. It turned out, of course, that in addition to a desire to be famous and wealthy, you also had to be incredibly talented and phenomenally lucky. I was passably talented (good enough for regional ... well, dinner... theater). But I never had a lick of luck at anything (other than surviving every feeble attempt I made to kill myself with liquor and drugs).

And every year, as I watch the Tonys being handed out to an increasingly younger and demonstrably gayer crowd of theater denizens I think to myself, "What have they got that I haven't.... oh, wait. That's right. Now I remember."

But as a lonely, gay teenager, hiding out in my bedroom, watching the first network broadcast of the Tonys in 1967 on a grainy black and white set, wondering who or what would ever come along to rescue me from the clutches of the Evil Queen (my alcoholic mother), my imagination caught fire and I got some hope. Maybe, someday, I would be up on that stage, accepting an award for best actor in a musical from Angela Lansbury or Joel Grey. And that would "show them", them being the people downstairs who were sucking the life out of me at such a tender age.

Well, I never got that award, and that's okay. I'm content to be who I am today. I'm content with me. And I don't need any awards to validate me. I certainly don't need to "show them" anymore because "them" are long since gone.

They say that "living well is the best revenge." You know what? That's true. I don't have squat, yet I still live better than most people I know.

Best of all, I get to write all my own reviews.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Peter Pace, Paris Hilton & Isiah Washington

Peter Pace won't be nominated to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs again, ostensibly because the hearings would "focus on the past, rather than the future."

Well, how's that for fucking understatement?

The past? As in the past five years of utter mismanagement of a situation that should never have occured to begin with and only looks bleaker with every passing day.... as young Americans die for nothing?

Or the past as in when General Pace said out loud that "homosexuality is immoral", when every gay man and woman in uniform is expected and enjoined to keep their big fat traps shut about their gay politics while it's okay for the General to mouth off about his?

This guy is not a healer, not a visionary, not a good leader. I'm not saying that Good Generals need to be Dr. Phil. But they don't have to be Atilla the fucking Hun, either.

So, Hallelujah and Amen, to the end of Peter Pace. May he retire, as I'm sure he will, to some cushy no-work, high-pay, job as a "consultant" to some arms manufacturer who likes to have an "in" at the Pentagon on the payroll, whilst he also double-dips into the public weal for a hefty retirement plan as a multi-star General (with full benefits for life, such as medical care and tax-free PX shopping).

It was good to be the King.

Let's hope that his successor is not as big an asshole as his predecessor was.

Next up, the judge ordered Paris Hilton back to the pokey this afternoon. Apparently she got hysterical and had a nervous breakdown in court. Nobody gave a rat's ass. She's back in the cooler, where she belongs. Not because she's a drunk. Not because she violated parole. Not because she has a sense of entitlement a mile wide and a thousand feet deep.

She should be back in jail for the same reason that Peter Pace should no longer be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and for the same reason that ABC fired Isiah Washington today ... to prove to them all that their shit does, indeed, stink.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Professional Queers

In the early days of my fully-fledged gayness (1807... okay, 1972), not long after I shed the last of my closetyness, I found myself, often, in the company of what I started to term, only to myself, "Professional Queers."

I have to admit that I was sort of judgemental towards PQ's. These were people who had become so outraged at the treatment of America towards it's LGBT's that they divested themselves of any semblance of "normal lives" and instead devoted themselves to ... well, overturning the status quo through various, mostly subversive, political activities.

There were people like John Francis Hunter (a beautiful man who used a lot of facial moisturizers, as I recall), Barbara Gittings and her partner, Kay (Barbara was a marvel. I adored her.) and Frank Kameny, who had been a government astronomer until the government found out about him.

I guess they were afraid he was going to divulge state secrets regarding Orion's Belt to the Commies, or something.

Anyway, surrounded as I was by all this American League Queerness, I started to see myself becoming so embroiled in the movement, as many others had, that I feared that in no time at all I, too, would become a PQ.

I decided that I didn't not want to be a PQ. Hell, I was far too interested in partying to get too worked up over my rights. Yeah, yeah, I wanted 'em alright, and I was sure putting more effort into getting them than 90% of the rest of the gay population was, but I liked having some "down time" now and then. Down time when I could engage in a little Down Low which, to my way of thinking, involved booze, drugs and handsome men.

In time I walked away from all that involvement in the movement. It was easy enough to do. Especially in my last year at the UofD, when politics got way out of hand and a faculty friend of mine wound up in Federal Court fighting the University over his right of free speech for being gay. That experience left a lot of us with a bitter taste in our mouths. I was thoroughly disillusioned by it, even though it hadn't happened to me.

I took two hostages and moved to Seattle. There I began my life as a voluptuary (good-time Charlie). I forgot about politics and focused, instead, on the message of hedonism that had been born out of the movement. I wanted to drink, dance and get laid. And so I did.

I've let other people do all the work for many decades now. But now, I think it might be time to get back into the fray.

I've started taking baby steps. I regularly e-mail my two (liberal) Senators from New Jersey about LGBT issues both in NJ and the US. Senator Lautenberg (or one of his staff) actually composes e-mail responses that don't sound like they were generated by a machine.

But I need to do more. I'm obliged to do more. I have talents, now, that could be of use to the movement. ORGANIZATIONal skills. CONFRONTATIONal skills. More than just a hot-head full of piss and vinegar, someone who can actually make a difference.

Maybe it's time to rejoin the cause and become a Professional Queer.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Clear Disgrace of Washington D.C.

Sergeant Kokesh (USMC) has had his honorable discharge reduced to a General Discharge. This was the Marine Corps way of backpedaling. They originally wanted to give him a dishonorable discharge. This was because he was "disrespectful" to some jive-ass brass hat (an officer of some non-discernible rank) and to the uniform, presumably because he wore a stripped-down version of his combat camo gear during some protests.

During my stay in the United States Navy I, myself, participated in MANY anti-war activities (and this was on ACTIVE duty, not the inactive reserve, like Sergeant Kokesh). I cannot say with any certainty that I didn't wear some portion of my uniform during these activities. In fact, I'm pretty sure I DID wear some piece of my uniform while marching down Pennsylvania Avenue from behind the White House to Capitol Hill.

I was wearing my Navy issue skivvies underneath my civilian clothes. I'm absolutely certain of it.

And, by the logic of this military kangaroo court which has attempted to strip Sergeant Kokesh of his honor (they failed, by the way... they've created a martyr, instead), that makes me guilty of bringing dishonor to the uniform of the service.

So come and lock me up, assholes. I'm waiting.

Meanwhile, President Shitforbrains has nominated some faith-based Snake Oil Salesman to be the #1 doctor in the United States. This so-called physician thinks that us 'mos are defective and that we need to "give up" our "evil lifestyle" and "choose" the other "right" one, instead.

The various logic-defying leaps and bounds in that sort of thinking is nothing short of breathtaking!

Where DOES President Bush find these people? Under rocks???!!!

I cling to the hope that someone will come along to rescue this nation from the clutches of the evil clans who sit on both sides of the aisles.

I hope and pray that someone will point out to the Red States and their small-minded minions that the United States of America was invented here, in the Blue States, and not out there in "Jesusland".

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Diabetes for Fun and Profit!

I had my first appointment with my endocrinologist this morning. At 8:00 a.m.

I've been to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital a bajillion times over the last couple of years. I had an angiogram there, quadruple-bypass surgery, bi-lateral endarectomies and gawd only knows what else. I know the place like the back of my hand.

The problem is that they're constantly reinventing the city of New Brunswick, where the hospital (and Rutgers, the State University) is located. Basically they're doing road work that should've been done 30 years ago.

There's a message there... for me. About getting things done to me that should've been done 30 years ago.

Anyway, I like my new doctor, even if I had to wait a year to see him. I told him that I felt like I'd finally gotten into Studio 54. He laughed. He's a nice man. He had two little associates who trailed him the whole time I was there. One was a full-fledged doctor and she did most of the leg work in terms of getting my whole background, current medical status, etc. The other, an even younger lady who reminded me a lot of somebody, but I can't remember who, was all agog the whole time. You could tell that she was very, very new to the medical profession. She looked like she was about 18 years old. The slightly older one looked to be about 25-27.

Teaching hospitals are all the same. Watch "Scrubs" or "Grey's Anatomy" or "House" and you'll get some idea of what I'm talking about. Lots of grizzled old farts and bazillions of fresh-faced probies who will probably wind up killing as many patients as they save before they finally finish their residencies.

But I'm one of the lucky ones. I've had tremendous luck at RWJUH. I've also had tremendous medical care there, too. Don't get me wrong, the place pisses me off now and then. But I'm still HERE to be pissed off... and believe me... that's a friggin' miracle.

My new doctor is immediately taking me off one medicine, Actos, that I've been on for over a year and a half. It turns out that Actos is probably the cause of my enormous weight gain (over 45 pounds in the last year). He's also put me on something called "Byetta" which is, basically, Gila Monster spit that works wonders on my diabetes. It comes in a tube and I have to inject myself in my stomach with it twice a day. It doesn't hurt at all. I've already done it once. Checking my blood sugar actually hurts more. He's also taking me off a cholesterol med I've been taking since Christmas. He says taking that medicine is like carrying coals to Newcastle, i.e., pointless. If my uric acid is okay, he'll put me on nicotinic acid which is, apparently, an old standby for cholesterol reduction.

I have to fax my blood sugar readings over every week now. I have a follow-up appointment in October. I have a hot-line number and a hot-line e-mail address if I have any problems or concerns. I'm being monitored.

I feel like a beta site... or a lab rat.

There are only 100,000 endocrinologists in the US and over 30,000,000 diabetics. That last number is expected to double in the next 10 years and most health plans would rather pay for amputations than for education.

I'm lucky I got educated about my diabetes. That education opened some doors for me that most people won't ever get to see, let alone go through.

I am one of the lucky ones. Thank God.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Whatever happened in Florida yesterday morning showed up here last night and continued through the morning commute which, on Mondays, is no joy to begin with.

But I'm here.

Which is also about the only thing you can say about all the characters on the tv show, "Lost." I only mention it because I've gotten hooked on it. The problem has been that the show comes on so late that I can never see it. Therefore I haven't seen it since it's earliest days, when I think it came on somewhat earlier.

Anyway, somehow or other I caught the last episode of Season Three a few weeks back and it instantly rekindled my interest when Charlie (apparently) died in the undersea ... chamber. So I put out an APB at work the next morning, asking everyone in the firm if they had seasons one and two on DVD and if I could borrow them.

The head of our back-office came through for me and, a week ago last Friday, he handed me a bag containing the collections. So I spent the weekend looking at about 4 or 5 episodes. Then I settled down during the week to watching 2 episodes a night. Hey, there's nothing on TV now that sweeps is over and television has lapsed into the summer doldrums.

I did another marathon this past Saturday, and caught 2 more episodes yesterday. So, in just over a week, I've seen 18 of the 24 episodes from Season One. I should finish the remaining 6 episodes this week and be able to start on Season Two this coming weekend.

I love the fact that I don't have to sit through commercials... or take week-long hiatuses between episodes. I can back-to-back as many as I want. It's also easier to see "the big picture" this way. To see how so-and-so is related to such-and-such because of this-and-that.

I LOVE watching television this way. Episodically, but speedily.

It's also easier to see that there are no heroes on the island (or in real life). There's good and bad in all of us. Sometimes we mean well and sometimes we have agendas. Sometimes it's all about me and sometimes it's all about you.

Life's a tough call sometimes.

Now, I already know too much about what's going to happen, but for now I'm pretty good at suspending my prior knowledge (and disbelief) and actually getting into caring about Claire and her baby (and why DID Ethan want her so desperately? SHUSH UP! NO SPOILERS, PLEASE!). And will Charlie stay clean? Will Sayid and Shannon stay together? Is Hurley really "jinxed?" And what about the crazy French woman in the jungle? Will she kill the guys who've set off to find her to ask her for some batteries? Will Locke ever find something to eat other than gutted toad? Will Jin ever forgive Sun for learning English? Will Kate and Jack ever become an item?

And will somebody please wipe that sh*t-eating grin off Sawyers face? (Gawd, I hate that smug SOB!)

And who the f**k are the "Others?"

Stay tuned until next time...

Friday, June 01, 2007

TB Boy

TB Boy is "pretty sure" that he wasn't infectuous so he decided to go ahead and have unprotected sex, er, breathing, with bunches of people trapped inside an airliner with him (several of them, actually) for hours and hours and hours on end.

Now if some queer who'd been diagnosed with HIV but who had yet to exhibit any symptoms went around having unprotected sex with people because "he wasn't sick (yet)", you'd better believe that there would be a public outcry (and probably some lynching mobs) about it.

I work for lawyers, I know how they think. If some CDC doctor didn't sit down with TB Boy and put an iron-clad "no-fly" contract in front of him to sign, he would've done exactly what he did... find some way to weasel out of it. And to not feel an ounce of shame or remorse about it, either because, you see, that's the way "the game" is played!!!!

And yes, they DO think they're special and unique and different.

Do I hope he dies? Of course not. Do I sincerely hope that somebody will take him outside into a dark alley and pound the living shit out of him? YOU BET I DO!

He may not be legally culpable.

But is morally culpable. Not to mention reprehensible, egotistical and utterly self-serving.

Does his new bride actually trust him to be the father of her babies? I don't care how cute he is.

I wouldn't trust him as far I could spit.