Sunday, September 30, 2007

Aging Gracefully (yeah, right)

My hero, Jake over at Nofo, recently blogged about having had lipo done. He looks fab and apparently took up jogging - now marathoning - to keep his new, boyish, figure. His breathtaking and refreshing honesty about such a personal subject impressed me so much that I wondered if I still had time to get some restorative stuff done to my face and midriff.

Then I saw the above photo posted on TMZ. Somebody has developed a bad case of Michael Jackson's disease (My Name is Carrot Top and I'm a plastisurgi-botox-steroid-aholic).

I read someplace yesterday (I never remember my sources for the really good stuff) that George Orwell, of all people, once opined that people "get the face they deserve by the time they're 50." (He wouldn't know. He had the good sense to die when he was 48.)

So I immediately ran into the bathroom to have a good, middle of the day, look.

Honey, I don't know who I pissed off but ain't nobody deserves to see what I saw staring back at me.

My friend Jan once confided to me that one morning she'd stepped out of the shower in her fog filled bathroom, sans glasses, and momentarily forgot about the full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door. "Mmmmom???" she stammered.

I could relate.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Miscellaneous Friday

The last time I checked, Generals and everyone else in the military... and in elected offices, for that matter, are sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.

They are not sworn to uphold the religious literature of their choice, nor are they sworn to uphold any particular religion-based value system they may have been subjected to as children.

I am at a loss, then, to understand which part of the Constitution General Pace was upholding when he mouthed off to Congress the other day, reiterating his personal beliefs that homosexuality is immoral and that that was reason enough for the DADT policy.

If he believes, which he apparently does, that his personal beliefs trump the Constitution or the will of Congress, under what set of rules does he think this? By virtue of the fact that he's at the top of the military heap, therefore what he thinks and believes goes?

Or, perhaps, it's just a personally-held belief that he's right and everybody else is wrong.

I can think of a few other people in D.C. who feel the same way. Some of them occupy the White House. Most of them are unrecovered drunks. I wonder if General Pace enjoys a few cocktails now and then? Or more?

Follow-up to yesterday.

Like all dysfunctional families everyone in the office has chosen to pretend like nothing happened. Ah, there's nothing like an elephant in the living room to remind me of my childhood!

The Dating Game.

My friend Alan, who blogs over here, and often posts here, astonished me by expressing his opinion that I'm on the verge of dating again. AND, he added his belief that I'm a catch.

From your keyboard to God's ears, Alan!

There is an adorable little investment banker who's started appearing at my morning 12-Step group recently. Too bad he's taboo for the 1st year of his sobriety.

Have a great weekend, all! I know I will.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Workin' for Da Man

There's an old joke amongst people in the legal profession:

Q: "Why don't law firms have decent HR Departments?"

A: "Because they'd have to fire all the partners."

I mistakenly circulated an email to the entire firm today, wondering if anyone knew of a decent "watering hole" over around Penn Station. I quickly got a response from our ostensible HR lady, who just happens to be married to one of the firm's partners, telling me to not do that again.

This was followed, within minutes, by a general email to the entire firm, asking us to remember that we're professionals, that the email system should be regarded with...., etc., etc., etc.

I can't begin to tell you how many emails I've gotten from colleagues over the last year wondering if I wanted to buy Girl Scout Cookies, Avon Products, Holiday cards, or forcing me to be an innocent bystander to "good natured banter" amongst the people who own this place, i.e., the partners, that went on for days about lousy golf games, who got drunk at the partner's annual outing, etc.

The Golden Rule.

Them's that has the gold, rules.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Boyfriend

Here is a photo of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad swapping spit with a devoted voter and/or boytoy. Note the demurely closed eyes of both gentlemen. That's because they're both imagining that the other is one of the virgin's they hope to deflower in paradise.

As I pointed out yesterday, though, the mullah's get to deflower their virgins here and now. It's good to be the mullah!

Anyway, I wish the camera had pulled back a little for a "full shot" of the gents. I'd like to see if either of them has one leg "cocked-back" in the full "lost in his arms" position.

I wonder how they would look dressed as a nurse and a soldier, in Times Square, on VJ-Day?

Frankly, though, I've seen better porn in a William Higgins video (and that ain't saying much -- Wm. Higgins always specialized in dumber than shit SoCal Bimboys who never did a thing for me). But enough LA-bashing. Back to the Iranians.

We are being whipped into a frenzy of hatred towards them, just as surely as we were whipped into a frenzy of Iraqi-hating a couple of years back.

But that's a subject for another post at another time.

For the time being, know this. Gays are dying out there for no other reason than that they refuse to kowtow to religious fundamentalism.

Here. There. Everywhere.

Defend yourselves. Learn to shoot a gun if necessary. Don't put up with anybody's shit ever again.

You have just as much right to your place in the sun as anyone else does.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Denial is just a River in Iran!

"My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it so long. I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone. Don't make that mistake yourself. Life's too damn short." Armistead Maupin

They string gays up in Iran. Unless they're mullahs. In which case they get "the pick of the litter", and, apparently, they get to exercise something which used to be called "droit de signeur" (the "right of the lord"[of the manor]... to deflower a virgin [on her wedding night]).

When I was a kid I was definitely into "daddies" but I'm not sure I wanted some antiquated priest slipping me the tongue in front of all my classmates.

Mostly, though, what I think is happening out there in the world is that there's a social disconnect between people who engage in male-male sex as a matter of preference yet who are married husbands and fathers and identify themselves as "straight", and those who reject any trappings of heterosexuality and who identify themselves as "gay."

There's the famous story of the handsome Iraqi soldier who expressed his sexual desire for an equally handsome American soldier and didn't understand the American's outrage since, according to Arab tradition, "girls are for babies and boys are for fun."

It's not just overseas, of course. Larry Craig is another example of someone who, apparently, likes to "get a little" on the down-low while passing through airports, but who is horrified at the thought of being characterized as gay. How could he be gay? He doesn't live in a loving relationship with another male. He doesn't decorate the shit out of his fireplace mantle every Christmas. Gay guys do that. He's not gay.

And since the vast majority of human beings are not exclusively gay or straight (in fact it's only about 8% of the total population, 4% hardcore gay, 4% hardcore straight), and everyone else falls somewhere along a sliding scale in the middle, no wonder most people don't like to be pigeonholed into having a label stuck on them that, in most cases, makes them feel uncomfortable.

I "got it" pretty early that there was no sliding scale for me, and that there never would be.

I can be very understanding in that regard. Too bad that the 92% of the population out there who get to pick and choose won't cut me the same slack that they give themselves. No matter where they are.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fairy Tales Can Come True - They can Happen to You...

if you're young at heart..... (I'm partial to the Jimmy Durante version of this song).

Jimmy doesn't really have anything to do with what I want to talk about today except that he, too, never let anything get in the way of his dream of becoming a great entertainer (let's face it -- he was no Caruso).

I went to the theater Saturday night here in Manhattan. It was at one of those little theaters all in one building on West 42nd street, between Dyer and 9th Avenues.

Beforehand a bunch of us had dinner at Chez Josephine, next door.

The occasion was the New York premiere of the musical version of Albert Innaurato's "Gemini" which had been a hit B'way comedy in the late 70's-early 80's.

Albert, unbeknownst to a lot of us, had met up with my former college roommate, Charlie Gilbert, somwhere along the way and the two of them began to think of ways to musicalize the show.

Charlie is a world-class composer/musician and is on the faculty of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

Charlie was a prodigy when I met him. He was a college junior at the age of 18 and I was an old man of 24 (and a freshman). We shared digs at a house in blue-collar suburbia for a year before he finished his undergrad degree and went off to Carnegie-Mellon to garner a masters. We nicknamed the place "Toad Hall" because the yard was lousy with all these little tree toads.

Charlie knew more about more different kinds of music than anyone I'd ever met. During the two years I lived in Toad Hall I was exposed to classical, jazz, opera, operetta, musical theater, rock and R&B. About the only kind of music none of us had a taste for was country, but I think that was simply because none of us had ever been exposed to it.

Anyway, we all went our ways, keeping in touch now and then, over the years. Charlie married a lovely woman he'd met in grad school whom we all adored. They produced two beautiful kids, now both fully grown and striking out on their own.

But the real point is that Charlie never lost sight of what he wanted out of life.

I could never compete with Charlie in terms of talent. The man has it, in spades. But he also had a vision... a dream. And those are two things I should've had, that I never learned how to get.

I never cease to be amazed at people who can make plans and then carry through with them. People who have a vision. People who have a dream.

I spent a part of yesterday feeling a little sorry for myself over what I perceive to be all my lost opportunities in life.

I don't begrudge anything to Charlie. God knows, he's worked hard over the years ... and to the best of my knowledge, he's enjoyed every minute of it (I worked hard too, and was miserable most of the time).

One of the gifts of being an ACOA is that life often seems like a slog rather than an adventure, and more a source of annoyance than of joy.

P.S. The show was wonderful, and I know a thing or two about musical theater. I would love to see it come back to Broadway in a full-blown production that runs for years.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wacky Shit from All Over!

Jesus Died on the Cross So Kathy Griffin Could Win the Emmy!

(best headline today!)

The Miracle Theater in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee spent $90,440 for a full-page ad in USA Today that condemns Kathy Griffin for her jokes about her Emmy rather than using the money to feed the hungry or to do something like, ya know, like Christian, with the money.

Personally, I’d like to know where a pissant theater company, anywhere, gets that kind of bread to blow on bullshit ads rather than putting on actual productions. If you ask me, them getting that kind of scratch was the real fucking miracle.

The Senate passed a bill condemning for the Betrayus ad (thereby sending a clear message loaded with irony to the rest of the world about our double-standard regarding free speech.)

No matter how you slice it, domestic partnership versus full-blown marriage is still the same old “separate but equal” baloney that kept blacks in their places for nearly a century. But bullshit is bullshit despite the window-dressing of bigotry wrapped in religious fervor. (I've yet to see these same folks who blast gays condemning people who eat shellfish or pork… or who sleep with their wives during their “unclean” times, despite the fact that all the injunctions come from the same historical source).

But the enlightened Renaissance Man in Sacramento obviously disagrees.

And why am I still not hearing people demanding that government get OUT of the marriage game altogether?

Yom Kippur starts at sunset today. To all my Jewish friends, may you have a Blessed and Serene Holy Day of thoughtful introspection.

And for all my Gentile friends, tonight is one of the two best nights of the year to do anything (movies, eating out, theater). So get your asses in gear and make plans!

Mazel Tov, everybody!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Gay Lolita

"Okay," some folks have asked me, "if you knew you were gay when you were six, name some of the people you had childhood crushes on?"

Alrighty, then. Time to visit the vaults. Only one of them was a real, everyday person to me. The others were all actors on tv.

Age 6: My 1st grade schoolbus driver, Frank. I wanted to be alone with him, but I didn't know why.

Age 7: Clint Walker aka "Cheyenne." Hunka-hunka furry, burning love. Again, I wanted to be alone with him... somewhere else.

Age 9: Will Hutchins aka "Sugarfoot." He was dreamy and soft and, well, kind of gay. Not at all like that Bear I was in love with at age 7.

Age 11: JACKPOT. Gardner McKay in "Adventures in Paradise." Man, did I want to be alone with HIM on that 3-masted schooner, somewhere in the South Pacific where nobody would ever find us. Forever.

Age 11: Peter Palmer in the movie musical, "L'il Abner." I sat through it 3 times on one Saturday afternoon. When I left the theater a blizzard had hit us and I had to slog home through 9 inches of snow. He later made a guest appearance on the Tennessee Ernie Ford TV show and I still remember what he sang. How gay am I? He really was a dreamboat.

Age 12: Sigh. Another dreamboat with a deep voice. Tom Tryon as "Texas John Slaughter" (a Disney series, no less!). I had seen him earlier as the monster/alien husband in the Grade-Z epic, "I Married a Monster from Outer Space", but I forgave him for that once I fell in love with him.

In all that time, sorry to report, I never once wanted to be alone with any woman I saw on tv or in real life.

Ergo sum... honey, I'm so gay I poo rainbows.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Well of course it is. Homo Sex is a threat to national security, naturally. Or unnaturally. Probably just as big a threat as Osama. Or Milk Duds. Or something.

And Eurasia has always been at war with Oceania.

Is it just me or are the crazies out in force these days? George W. Bush's Iraq War now appears poised to last until I'm dead. Hillary's trying to flog yet another healthcare plan that doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell. Some student in Florida got tased by the cops (and don't think for one minute that I believe HE's as pure as the driven snow, either... I smell a great big, publicity driven rat behind that story). And tased? Puhleeze. In my day the National Guard invaded your campus and shot four of your classmates dead for shit like expressing your opinions regarding war. Tasing is for pussies. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young will NOT write a memorable song about some publicity-hound getting tased.

Meanwhile, President George W. Shitforbrains forces generals and ambassadors to kiss Congress's ass on his behalf.

Greenspan finally starts spilling the beans. So does Rummy.

Over half the people under 30 think that the US and Germany were ALLIES against Russia in WWII (what the fuck planet have they been living on?)

Some dumbbell on The View thinks the world is FLAT.

The Senator from Idaho may like to suck some cock or get butt-fucked on the DL now and then, but he is MOST EMPHATICALLY NOT GAY!

And denial, apparently, really is just a river in Egypt.

Sometimes I wonder when Jeebus is finally gonna come and get me out of this madhouse?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The End of the Gay Ghetto

Joe of JoeMyGod posted a piece yesterday about the slow death of the gay-bar scene throughout America. He raised some good points about a loss of a piece of our gay culture and history.

But it also signals the beginning of the end of the ghettoization of gay people. For better or worse. And you can feel either way about that, and that’s fine.

When I came out, a process that I started as a teenager in the early 60’s, all I wanted to was to “fit in.” I wanted to be like everybody else (except for my family, who were drunks and idiots). I wanted to meet other people “like me” but I didn’t want to have to skulk about in back alleys in search of dark, unmarked, bars in order to find them. I didn’t think I should have to do that.

I knew that God had made me, that God didn’t make garbage and that I was no “mistake.” I also seriously doubted that some Jewish virgin had squeezed God’s baby through her Poo-nanny. So that was the end of me and Catholicism and the beginning of me and my fabulously queer self.

Eventually, though, I did skulk down back alleys into dark bars in order to find others like myself. I even had a lot of fun in those places. But they were always redolent of “shameful hideaways” where out-of-towners from Pissant, Utah, on the prowl in the Big Cities of the East and West Coasts, could get a little same-sex nookie while “on a business trip”, secure in the knowledge that the wife and/or hubby remained safely tucked away back home, where they belonged. Out of sight and definitely out of mind … for the evening.

And for that reason, these joints also often smacked of self-loathing. I never knew how self-loathing I was until I started looking at my past behavior as a gay person and in terms of all my destructive addictions. Booze, drugs, cigarettes, rampant sex… all of them overindulged in to the point of doing serious physical damage to myself.

Then I got sober. And I started peeling away the layers of denial about what I’d done and the reasons why I’d done it. And I saw the self-loathing that lay beneath it all.

So, if we’re moving to a “post-gay” world, where we’re as common as the next door neighbors and it’s just as cool for gay people to cruise each other at the supermarket as it is for Hets to do it, then so be it. I embrace it. In fact, I believe the whole point of the “movement” over the past 38 years has been to get us to this point.

When I sobered up and started feeling better about myself it seemed that my need to constantly reassure myself of my inherent worthiness started to disappear. I began realizing just how cheaply I’d sold myself into the bondage of addictions in the past.

I hope I’m sober enough now to recognize it if I ever start killing myself again.

Monday, September 17, 2007


I had a good time at the roundup. I saw some recovering folks I know from meetings all up and down the east coast. There were some really good workshops on Saturday on everything from "Dating in Recovery" to "Roles and Codependency."

Growing up in a dysfunctional, alcoholic family really gave me a boatload of false ideas about relationships. One of the biggest was that they were fearsome things, easily destroyed and that one should never express one's feelings regarding them.

When you're Irish and Catholic that leads to communication via triangulation. For example, if I was pissed at you I would never tell you about it. That would be far too confrontational and combative and might piss you off, which would never do because I'm the only one entitled to be pissed off in our little dyad.

I would, however, share that information with our 2nd cousin, Delia, who lives in Detroit. My thinking would be, "Delia has a cooler head... she'll be able to dispassionately pass along my pissed-offedness to you without pissing you off in the process." I would expect her to mediate the so-called issue, to resolve it with you in MY favor, and to get back to me with the results.

Don't laugh. This is how my family operated.

Regrettably, it's how I continue to operate in some areas. I'm much better now about setting boundaries with people. I'm fairly certain that the world won't end if you get pissed at me, so I'm willing to risk it.

But it also spills over into my ability to interact with people I'd LIKE to have a relationship with, including potential romantic partners.

Example. I find Mr. A attractive, therefore I will throw myself at Mr. B in the hopes that A will get jealous enough (or interested enough) to come over and say hi. It would never occur to me to go say "hi" to Mr. A because he might laugh in my face and say, at the top of his lungs, "HI? As if I'd ever marry you!!!" Or something to that effect.

You can see how socially disabled I am.

That happened this weekend. I found some tall guy very interesting. Naturally I never spoke to him and every time he looked at me looking at him I pretended I was looking at something or somebody else.

And, of course, I immediately started chatting up some nearly insane person sitting next to me, who was thrilled at the attention and was probably mentally renting a U-Haul for the big "move-in" next weekend. With me.

After 9 and a half years of sobriety I'm STILL trying to learn how to be a teenager.

The Philly Roundup is October 12, 13 & 14th, just three weeks from now.

Maybe I'll have better luck next time.

Or not.

Friday, September 14, 2007

New Jersey Roundup!

Some of you lovely folks who really should get hobbies might remember that I went to the Rehoboth (DE) Roundup last winter, over President's Day weekend. Well, it's the start of a NEW roundup season already.

In a few hours I'll be heading out all the way across Route 33 from Hightstown, NJ, through Freehold (home of "The Boss") then to Route 18 and finally to beautiful, out in the middle of fucking nowhere, Tinton Falls, NJ for the newly resurrected New Jersey Roundup - 2007 Edition. So no more postings this weekend unless I get real ambitious Sunday night, after I get home.

The Rehoboth Roundup was enormous (+400 attendees), well organized, great workshops, plenty of fun activities and GREAT speakers from various 12-Step programs. If our first NJ roundup in many years is half as good as that, then there is hope that it might continue on again next year.

Roundups are kind of like websites. There comes a time when they sort of "go viral" and suddenly become enormously popular (like the P'town and Rehoboth and Miami Roundups). Word of mouth actually accounts for a lot in terms of building popularity for them.

Next month is the Philly roundup, which I'm also looking forward to attending.

So, naturally, I've spent the morning cleaning the bejeebus out of the apartment at home... just in case. Oh, alright. Just in case I meet Mr. Right and he wants to move in this weekend.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

As you may also recall, I got some definite interest during the Rehoboth Roundup and I'm kind of hoping that'll be true this weekend, too. The big difference being that this Roundup is happening less than 40 minutes from home (Rehoboth is a good 2 hour drive from where I live), so it's more likely I'll meet someone who is GD (geographically desirable) than it was in February.

Yeah, I know that sounds crazy. Hey! I'm a drunk! (recovering)

Now if you'll excuse me, the toilet definitely needs a shave.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Lies and Whispers

It's that time of the election-cycle (by which all things in the US are truly governed) when everyone who hopes to lie their way into higher office set about to "re-align" their stands on just about everything (divorce, abortion, me) in hopes of capturing the hearts and minds of the largest possible number of voters (idiots).

It also leads to the need for really big lies, such as the half-assed crap like we heard on Monday and Tuesday from Frick and Frack (Petraeus and Crocker) on the subject of George W. Bush's War in Iraq. Time is running out and they know that the best they can hope for is to stall until it's some Democrat's problem.

They're no fools. They're out there taking the heat off Bush now because they know that there'll be a PAYDAY for them in the future in return for being good little soldiers now. All they have to do is sincerely lie to Congress. They don't even have to be convincing. All that matters is that, when the time comes for THEM to run for office, they'll be able to claim that they were good soldiers and true patriots and they honestly believed the bullshit they were saying at the time and, therefore, we should vote for them.

Truth means nothing in our country. Spin is King.

Nazi Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels knew this.

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

I believe that we have a conspiracy of fools and liars running the country these days, funded largely by self-serving, egotistical institutions that have zero interest in serving the public good or upholding the true values upon which our nation was founded. I believe that politicians (and the left and right-wing think-tank flacks and corporations behind them) are out to do two things... to get these politicians elected and then to get them re-elected. Period. After which they will do their best to serve the money behind them.

Over the decades my life has been dragged through the mud time and again by people who couldn't care less whether I lived or died. I was merely collateral damage to them in their war against each other. And every American of zero note, such as myself, is as expendable as Kleenex in their battles against each other.

When I witness, as I have this week, the spectacle of Washington running amok and doing what only Washington can do best, lying, cheating, stealing, backstabbing and posturing, it makes it very hard to care about anything or anyone other than myself.

I think I need to speak to my sponsor.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Best Headline Yesterday (9/11 Anniversary)

"The only thing flying around the Pentagon today is bullshit." Wonkette

There was a time, many eons ago, when I wanted nothing more in life than to be outfitted with a Hasselblad camera (2x2 format) and sent into the jungles of far-flung places by the National Geographic Society. That time was called "High School" and I don't have many fond memories of it (I doubt that few actually do), so jungles sounded like a fine idea to me. Needless to say, God and my family had other plans.

The other thing I wanted was to be a big Broadway star. That didn't happen, either.

However, I did manage to become a big fish in a small pond at the University of Delaware between the summer of 1973 and the spring of 1976. During that time I managed to finagle my way into over 19 productions, everything from big "main stage" flapdoodles all the way down to teensy shows at the Student Center cabaret named Bacchus (after the Greek God of wine and alcoholism).

The other day I posted a picture of myself in our summer theater production (1974) of "Damn Yankees."

Today, for your edification, I post the above photo from our Winter Session (U. of Del. - January, 1974) production of Mr. Oscar Wilde's "Lady Windermere's Fan," "fan", so-called because I have the hots for her.

It's a Victorian fluff of a nothing about, well, about Lady Windermere and her fan. Well, actually two fans. One is a literal fan which she inadvertently leaves at the home of a bachelor gentleman (me) who is her "secret fan."

It's loaded with high-falootin' English talk, tons of famous Wilde bon mots ("My dear, the only thing worse than being talked about is NOT being talked about!") and ravishing costumes, as evidenced above (that's me on the right) decked out in the height of 19th Century Evening Foppery.

The gentleman to the left, whose name I do recall (and he was actually quite a looker under all that makeup) shall remain anonymous. However, he is a famous chef these days somewhere in the East and you may have actually seen him on TV at one time or another. And that's the end of that. Don't bother pressing, I shan't say another word. My lips are sealed.

Besides, I don't think he's out to his mommy yet. Or anybody else.

Anyway, I hope you get some sort of perverse kick out of watching me cruise down memory lane.

G'day, Possums!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I See Dead People

It'll come as news to nobody that today is the sixth anniversary of the occasion of a bunch of Islamic Martyrs, hopped up by the thoughts all those virgins they were going to get in Paradise, hijacking a bunch of planes and flying them, at flank speed, into the WTC, Pentagon and earth of western Pennsylvania, killing thousands of people.

I've already blathered here about my whereabouts and doings that day (I was in NYC - my brother and I engineered a breathtaking escape from the east side to the west side along 53rd street and fled north along the West Side Highway and out to New Jersey over the GW Bridge).

Others had breathtaking tales to tell of harrowing escapes from near certain death, or heartbreaking tales of personal losses. Not us, though. The biggest loss I experienced that day was the death of Father Mychal Judge, the chaplain of the FDNY. Not because he was a priest, nor because he was a chaplain. I mourned his loss because he was Irish (and proud of it), gay (and proud of it) and a recovering drunk like me (I was proud of that).

But it was later, on TV, in magazines and on the internet, that I got to see real close-up photos of deaths, either after the fact or as they were about to happen (i.e., shots of "jumpers" from the towers). Those deaths weren't particularly heroic, but rather horrifyingly desperate, born out of a total lack of any other available options.

It was not hard to develop a somewhat morbid fascination with the events of that day. They had funeral masses all day long, every day, for weeks on end at St. Patrick's Cathedral, just a few blocks south of my office building. I still smoked in those days and every time I went outside, there'd be ANOTHER funeral procession lining up to march down Fifth Avenue (I got real sick of bagpipes during this time and I usually love bagpipes).

Eventually, though, they ran out of body parts to mourn and bury, and the rawness of the events of that day faded (although it took weeks for the plumes of smoke from the great pit where the towers had stood to finally stop).

And then, somehow, six years went by.

Yesterday I took the day off to attend the funeral of a 2nd cousin in Philadelphia. Father Al was 81 and he'd been in poor health for some time. For me I didn't experience a sense of loss at his passing so much as I sensed that the last tenuous threads of that part of my family were coming undone. I became desperate to attend the funeral in order to try to reconnect with that part of my tribe.

I'm very glad I went. I saw my childhood sweetheart (yes, a girl... we were androgynous little things at age 8-9) and told her I was sober. She then confessed that her mother had died of alcoholism, along with the kid we played with across the alley AND his father. I spent a lot of quality time with relatives I never even knew I had. It was a long, exhausting day. I couldn't have imagined a nicer sendoff for Albert than for his extended family to get together to celebrate life.

It's nice to remember the dead, but I'd much rather celebrate the living.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Ah, Show Biz

Click on photo in order to (as Joe of JoeMyGod says) "embiggen."

Some people have asked me why I have such a teensy picture of myself in my profile. Well, up until this past winter, frankly, it was the most recent picture I had of myself. Yes, yes, and I was semi-disguised behind sunglasses, too.

But after a year of blogging I've decided to rummage through the pictorial trunk and see what else I could come up with to give you, Dear Reader, a couple of yuks.

I've already posted the picture of myself in boot camp, which was pretty scary. I looked like an anorexic miler.

But after the service I started to fill out a little and did some college theater. I have a bunch of photos of myself in various productions there, but this is my all time favorite photo of me (I'm the tall one, 2nd from the left) in my all-time favorite show (Damn Yankees). I loved singing barbershop quartet with the other guys (2 of whom I'm still in touch with). We did it in summer stock, on a nightly rotating rep basis, along with "Death of a Salesman" and "Hotel Paradiso." Let me tell you, it was confusion every night in the dressing rooms trying to figure out if we were supposed to be depressed or overjoyed.

To this day the closing night of Damn Yankees remains one of my most cherished memories of my college years. By then the show had developed a following in our college town of Newark, Delaware, and the place was packed with DY groupies who anticipated every joke and gave us rousing ovations after every song. And the more they loved and gave to us, the more we loved and gave to them. The intense feelings of euphoria poured across the apron of the stage in both directions that night. It was magical.

It was especially flattering to me because some fan kept stealing my headshot from the company bulletin board in the lobby throughout the run of the show. I think we had to replace it 3 or 4 times.

I had bigger roles in my 4 years of stage acting, certainly more "important" roles in Shakespeare or Chekhov, but none of them ever gave me the sense of joy and satisfaction I got from playing "Smokey," a member of the quartet, in "Damn Yankees."

Friday, September 07, 2007


One of the tenets of faith in 12-Step sobriety is that, ultimately, we get clean and sober in order to be of service to others. In fact, we say that our "primary purpose is to stay sober and to help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety."

Everything else in our lives becomes... not unimportant, but certainly secondary to our sobriety. It has to be that way because without our sobriety (first) we wouldn't have anything else. We'd lose life partners, children, careers, fortunes and health if we started using again.

Sometimes that "service" we render to others takes the form of one-on-one sponsorship of a newcomer. A sponsor's job in recovery is, simply, to lead the newcomer through the 12-Steps of recovery. It's not to be "the fixer." It's not to be mommy or daddy, or Dear Abby, or Bank of America or Triple AAA. But it is to share the sponsor's "experience, strength and hope" regarding their own experience with the Steps. Period.

And sometimes that service comes in the form of serving in some leadership function or another. Here's where it gets tricky. We have no President or Chairman of the Board or, indeed, much "management" at all, to speak of. As we say, "our leaders lead, but they do not govern" and anyone, anyone at all, can be "recalled" from a leadership position at any time simply by means of a "group conscience." These positions are always an honor to fill.

Back in May I was elected by my home group to lead a Friday morning beginner's meeting here in Manhattan. This was the third time I've been elected to this post over the past seven years. The length of the term is six months. I have a co-chair and we alternate Fridays from July 1 through December 31.

For reasons nobody quite understands (God?) this Friday morning meeting has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 7 years. This morning (my turn) we had 75 people turn out for it. We ran out of time before everyone could "share." When I see that this is going to happen I try to pick out newcomers in the crowd to call on because they are the most likely to drink. The old timers might cop a resentment over not being called on, but in the immortal words of my sponsor, "screw 'em if they're that overly sensitive."

He's right, of course. He always is (he also monitors this blog - "LOVE YA, BRO'!"

I look forward to Friday's meeting more than any other in the week. When I sit up in the front of that room and see the looks on the faces of people who are trying, like me, to get better... when I witness their struggles and their losses and their victories, small and large, I am overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and with a profound belief in God and in miracles.

For any day that 75 alkies and druggies don't pick up a drink or a drug is nothing short of a friggin' miracle.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Unbearable Yuckiness of Being

My life, for the most part, is one unending string of serene moments. That's been the case ever since I stopped drinking ... and suffered through the first couple of years of sobriety.

Whenever life got disruptive, even for a little while, it generally involved some interaction I was forced to undertake, or to endure, with my biological family of origin.

Things had been pretty quiet on that front for a few years now until a phone call came on Monday evening from my aunt informing me that her first cousin (and my late mom's), the family priest, had passed away that day.

Albert (his name) had, by all accounts, started out in life as a prissy little thing who loved dressing up... like a priest. I remember comments being made about how he was always holier than everybody else and would walk around with a rosary draped over his hands. They packed him off to seminary when he was 18. I can actually remember attending his ordination in Connecticut even though I was only 4 at the time. He was then sent off to Puerto Rico to do his time as a parish priest somewhere in the mountains (no cabanas or beach boys), coming home only occasionally to preside over baptisms, weddings and funerals.

In time I became an altar boy and celebrated mass with Albert a couple of times at the local parish church.

But eventually I outgrew Roman Catholicism (when I grew pubes and realized that they were wrong about me) and I once shocked Albert by playing "The Vatican Rag" by Tom Lehrer for him. Things were never the same between us after that.

We lost touch for years, others kept up the family cohesion. Eventually he got reassigned back to the states. In 1995 I copped a giant resentment over the fact that he wouldn't come home from Pittsburgh to preside at my mom's funeral. I ran into him and his brother, Victor, at my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary a few years back. Albert had had a foot removed because of diabetes and his brother now helped him around.

After that we started exchanging Christmas cards every year. His were religious but not odious, mine were secular but respectful. We'd both jot a short note to each other expressing our sincere wishes for the health and happiness of the other in the coming year and that would be the end of that.

And now he's gone.

The family (his brother) won't have much to say about the funeral arrangements. The Order he belonged to will pretty much dictate policy in that regard. And trying to find out their plans is like trying to pull sanctified teeth.

Meanwhile, I'm forced to interact on a nearly daily basis with a bunch of people I really don't have very much in common with these days. They tend to be racist, bigoted, homophobic, alcoholic, drug-addicted (legal), co-dependents who love to live their lives as self-inflicted victims. I've been thinking that they'd gotten even nuttier in the last 15 years.

But I was telling this to a friend of mine in recovery earlier today and he said, "Maybe they're not any crazier than they used to be. Maybe you're just a helluva lot saner."

And all of a sudden I was overcome with a feeling of yukiness. How am I supposed to love these people when I can't even stand to be around them anymore?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


When I was a kid, watching the grand opening of DisneyLand in Anaheim in living black & white on channel six out of Philly (ABC), I was enthralled to find out that they had various "theme areas" to the park. There was Frontierland (because Davy Crockett was a Disney franchise), Tomorrowland (with it's sleek RocketShip), Adventureland (with it's Pirate Ship) and Fantasyland. When my imagination turned, as it often did, to the subject of my rescue, when the Knight in Shining Armor (my father) rode in to rescue me from the clutches of the Evil Queen (my mother), he and I were then always torn between riding off into Tomorrowland or Fantasyland. Generally, though, we came down in favor of Fantasyland.

I got enabled (a lot) by people who wanted to control me over the years. The adults with whom I lived while I was raising myself, the Navy, some well-meaning but totally controlling friends in college, lovers, bosses, et al. President Shitforbrains got enabled a lot, too, by the finest politicians and institutions that his daddy's money could buy. Eventually I hit a bottom and had to face a lot of realities, real fast. There's nothing like waking up in a jail cell on a Sunday morning with a DUI and no bail to get your attention.

And there's nothing like a quick trip to Iraq to give Assahola Bush a slap or two in the face, regarding the "real life" he's been ignoring for years now.

There's a wonderful piece in The Huffington Post about it today. Go check it out, here.

It's a funny thing about Fantasy. It can be whatever your pea-sized brain needs it to be. Whatever serves your immediate and unbending, unyielding, needs. Fantasy. Great word that. It implies a total denial of current reality.

Speaking of that, one of my favorite moments of all times in the theater comes in "Angels in America" when a doctor confronts Roy Cohn with the truth about his disease. Roy absolutely, vehemently, denies that he is "gay." Oh, he may have had sex with men, but he is not gay. He threatens the doctor with ruination if the doctor even utters the thought that Roy might be "gay." Roy sums up his feelings about it thusly, "whatever it is that I am... it's NOT THAT!"

And that was the end of that. Oh yes, he took it up the butt from a string of handsome young men (proteges all), but he was NOT THAT.

Pacino was (well, wasn't he always?) over the top in his performance of the scene. But he definitely captured the essence of what Cohn was all about. Absolutely controlling and dictating what people even thought about him. Or, at least, he tried to.

That's why, slightly later in the play, as Cohn lay dead of AIDS in the hospital, one of the most breathtaking pieces of sheer theatricality I have ever seen in my life occurs when the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg (played by Meryl Streep in the HBO production) steps out of the shadows to say Kaddish over his corpse. It brought tears to my eyes and spoke volumes regarding the subject of forgiveness.

Anyway, Dubya is a lot like Cohn. Controlling. Pigheaded. Absolutely Right and everyone else is absolutely wrong. A dictator. Cruel. Self-centered. Egotistical. Completely unsolicitous of others unless he's gonna git sumthin' outta it.

There are two types of people in his world. Himself and all the little people.

He should only be so lucky as Roy Cohn when the time comes for someone to say Kaddish over him.

And speaking of denial, see also the latest on Larry Craig. He's still hiding his queerness behind his children. As though he were the first gay guy to get married and sire kids as beards.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

My Big Fat Sober Life!

I got way too busy to blog yesterday. They closed the office early and lawyers, being lawyers, they like to cram as much crap into Fridays as possible (because they don't do a friggin' thing all week), so that meant cramming even more crap into even less time than usual.

I had dinner with a friend of mine last night. A(nother) nice straight guy, divorced, with a 12 year old, pubescent daughter who has definitely taken a turn to the dark side (paging Darth Vader). But I never turn down a home cooked meal, if I can help it. And it's fun to watch hormonal teenagers in action and to wonder how I managed to survive my puberty. I think I postponed it until I was 20, which helped in the houseful of drunks I grew up in.

I crashed early but I was up at the crack of dawn today to shop. Tomorrow is my friend John's annual Labor Day Picnic, Ice Cream Social and Tractor Pull, which I wouldn't miss for the world. It has gotten to be a dubious habit of mine to bring my world-famous "Kitchen Sink Salad" which starts with loose spinach (a pound), Hearts of Romaine (chopped), crushed walnuts, shredded carrots, sliced red bell peppers (cleaned), red onions, mushrooms, mini-cubes of cheese, grape tomatoes, mandarin orange slices, croutons and tossed with a combination of Caesar and Ranch salad dressings (Maries).

I have to put it into a couple of those disposable aluminum oven roasting pans in order to transport it over to Pennsylvania for the party. It takes about an hour to get there and I like to keep it in the fridge right up until the moment of departure.

Anyway, it takes a fair amount of time to assemble the ingredients and to pre-prepare some of them, such as chopping the lettuce then washing and rinsing it and then stowing it in plastic bags in the vegetable crisper overnight.

The party will start at 2:00 p.m. (EDT) tomorrow, but I'm the coffeemaker for a Sunday morning 12-Step meeting, too, and I'll have to run over to the town hall tomorrow morning to get the coffee going, then come home and finish assembling the salad.

Oh, yeah, and I have to stop and pick up a sponsee I'm taking to the picnic with me, too.

I'm happy about all that. I'm really happy because some new shoes I ordered showed up yesterday. A pair of Sperry Topsider deck shoes and (be still my boyish heart) a pair of Jack Purcell low-top gym shoes which take me right back to my miserable youth! But Lord, I do love those sneaks!!!

Oh, and I've been sharing at my meetings about this being the 10th anniversary weekend of my emotional bottom, when all I wanted to do was die.

And my phone has not stopped ringing since yesterday with calls from people in recovery telling me how glad they are that I didn't get my wish that weekend 10 years ago.

I'm glad, too.

Have a lovely holiday, everyone!