Friday, November 30, 2007

Divine Retribution

I see that the religious dingbats are now proclaiming I-35, which runs from north to south somewhere "out there" where I never go have declared it to be some kind of cleansing highway, sent by the Lord, to rid the country of homosex.

Or some bullshit like that. SAY "HALLELUJAH!"

I don't know much about God, but I do know one thing, and it's the same thing that the Greeks knew about their Gods. They will not be mocked.

The Greeks even had a special word for the sort of pride which garners the attention of the residents of Olympus -- and pisses them off to the point where they inflict very Godlike retribution on the poor earthly schlub who was dumbassed enough to mouth off.

That word was "hubris." It sort of loosely translates as "overweening pride" but it actually goes a lot further than that.

Greek mythology (and ancient Greek plays) are full of dumbassed jerks who piss off some God or Goddess and wind up gouging their own eyes out, or killing and eating their own children, or neat stuff like that as punishment for being such assholes to begin with.

Rule Number One in Greek Mythos: "There are Gods. You ain't them. Don't piss them off."

Now I must tell you that today, I am duly chastised by the Gods. Yesterday I posted a piece about a feeling I had regarding the aging population and my opinion that many of us would eventually be faced with the dreadful decision to do ourselves in rather than face financial ruin and become wards of the state.

Apparently I shouldn't speak of such things, not even philosophically.

This morning I received a disturbing voicemail from a sponsee of mine. He apparently attempted to kill himself last night, wound up in an emergency room overnight, and this morning they packed him off to a psychiatric rehab for a week or so.

I know I'm not personally responsible for this. I've done my best to be a good sponsor to him, not yelling at him when he has "slipped" before, but rather trying to be gentle and understanding at all times. Still, I've always suspected that he hadn't really faced up to the magnitude of his bottom. He was always too eager to "yes" me, rather than taking a moment to delve into his thoughts and feelings to tell me the truth of his pain.

It is the single most difficult thing anyone in recovery has to do, to reach down inside, through the brick wall that we ourselves have constructed within ourselves, to pull out shreds of truth which we can share with others and, finally, acknowledge to ourselves.

Apparently he found that brick wall, all alone, last night. In his call this morning, from the ambulance carrying him away, I could hear his voice shake as he cried that he had, indeed, finally "hit bottom."

I finally tracked down the place where they took him. It relieved me greatly just to know that he was someplace where he'd be taken care of (and couldn't hurt himself). He's not allowed to have any contact with the outside world while he's there -- or at least, not yet.

Every night, before I hit the hay, I hit my knees. I've done this pretty much every night since I got sober. At a minimum I thank God for my sobriety today and beg Him to keep me sober tomorrow.

I also pray that God look out for, and over, all the sick and suffering alcoholics and addicts in the world.

Humans, drunk or not, are so frail you see -- each of us needs all the help we can get.

Including me.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Swiss Family Soylent Green

When I was a kid I wanted to be Swiss, the youngest son of John Mills and Dorothy McGuire (not to mention being the kid brother of yummy James MacArthur) who, with my make-believe family, was stranded on a desert island in the South Pacific.

Oh yeah, and I wanted to live in a treehouse. Not just any treehouse, but the most fabulous treehouse (water powered) in the world. Built by the Imagineers (before they were called that) at Disney. I loved "Swiss Family Robinson." They were nice people and life on the island was idyllic.

Unlike real life.

In real life I lived with a bunch of crazy alcoholics until it was time to move out and try to figure out what normal was (I failed and became a crazy drunk just like the ones who had raised me).

But throughout the crazy childhood and the even crazier drinking adulthood, there was always this sort of Pollyanna (yes, another Disney reference) deep down inside of me, who thought that somehow or other, magically, life would "turn out okay" or that somehow I'd crash-land on an idyllic desert island with a picture-perfect family.

Then I got sober. I've succumbed to the reality that life doesn't often turn out okay unless you put a lot of grunt-work into it.

I don't think that we Americans have been putting in enough grunt work for the last 50 years or so since World War II ended. Oh, we worked like sons-of-bitches during the war. But then we got cocky. And entitled. And downright lazy.

I have a theory that we're all going to be in for a very rude awakening and not in the too distant future, either.

I think that within 20 years we're going to see a horrifying spike in the suicide rate in this country as more and more boomers (like me) hit the old-age/lack of financing wall.

Longevity, dramatically diminished means of support and an increasing reliance upon an already overworked and overpriced medical system are going to be the straws that broke the camel's back. People will simply run out of options, until they're faced with the only practical solution -- self-extermination.

Government won't have to "fix" Social Security. It'll simply need to wait it out -- until enough old farts do themselves in to automatically make SSA solvent again (which will also fix Medicare).

I think that we've raised a generation or two of hedonists who, frankly, will be relieved to see millions of us head off to early graves. That way there'll be more for them!

I realize it's dark thinking. Even "stinking thinking" in recovery parlance. But it's also an idea that keeps popping up in my head.

Things are going to get real ugly. And soon.

I just hope that when the time comes the survivors willl remember to NOT eat the Soylent Green.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's Beginning to Look...

like it's about 4 weeks until Christmas.

Not that you'd know if from my house. I gotta get me a digital camera so I can show you all how I really live. If I posted a bunch of photos of that here I could die in peace. Well, maybe not in peace, but certainly of embarassment.

My fellow blogger, Jake from Chicago and his boyfriend Justin, have just returned from spending Thanksgiving week in Orlando at DisneyInc. and the first thing they did when they got home was to put up TWO trees (the bitches). Check 'em out here. And while you're at it, don't forget to take a look at that chandelier they have in their dining room. It gives new meaning to the word "FABULOUS."

I have a little fake tree I bought at Home Depot a couple of years back. I put it up that year and it's been in the box ever since. I blame it on the real foliage in the living room, which has now taken over the big picture window I have there and, occasionally cries out "FEED ME" after which I have to toss a dentist or several small children into its gaping maw in order to placate it for a while. It's making a guest appearance on Larry King next week. With any luck it'll eat him. Now if I could only get it booked with Bill O'Lielly or Mann Coulter.

Christmas has gotten to be an expensive proposition now that I have grand-nieces and nephews. Before they came along, and back when I was newly sober and didn't have two dimes to rub together, life was simpler. And cheaper. Now people expect gifts. Worse, I expect ME to be able to give gifts.

Luckily, most gifts fall into one of two categories. 1. Cash. 2. Cash equivalents (such as store gift cards). Any idiot can manage these, except they do involve not only getting the cash or cash equivalents but then finding some sort of suitable "container" to put them in, which can then be gift-wrapped to look as though it actually contains something other than money or a gift card.

For those of you who absolutely insist on something substantive in the way of presents, I heartily recommend creating a wish-list for yourselves on which you can then happily disperse amongst family and friends for them to visit prior to shelling out real money for some crap you have zero interest in owning.

That way you'll have no one to blame but yourself for that shitty multi-DVD set of Norma Shearer's Greatest Motion Pictures that you just couldn't live without.

But for those relatives or friends who don't create a wish-list, you can always fall back on that old, reliable, standby.... Entertainment. Get them a gift certificate to the local AMC, Regal or whichever theater chain runs the local goo-goo-plex in your town.

That way they have no one to blame but themselves when they waste your gift on a lousy afternoon spent yawning while watching "No Country for Old Men."

But enough about that. There'll be plenty of time to shop, come Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile, go put up a tree.

BONUS Christmas Present

The rumor mill is churning. It's been alleged that Larry Flynt is investigating rumors regarding Trent Lott which prompted the latter's hasty announcement of an early retirement by year's end.

The rumor involves a male prostitute.

Thank you, Jeebus.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Thanksgiving came and went. I enjoyed it... mostly. I broke out in a severe attack of gout by Friday morning, though. I'm still trying to pin down what, exactly, I ate to bring it on. Right now the primary suspect is the duck breast we had on Wednesday night. Sigh. It struck me in the knuckle of the thumb on my right hand. It turned red, swelled up and hurt like hell. I couldn't sleep Friday night, the pain was so bad.

I'm going to have to start writing down my reactions to just about all foods now. This won't be fun. Not for me and certainly not for friends who do nothing more than try to feed me, God bless 'em.

For those of you who are unclear about gout, let me explain. Purines (the stuff that gout is made of) build up in the blood stream, abetted by certain foods which are notoriously high in them, such as asparagus, shellfish (every kind from clams to crabs, shrimp & lobster) and "game" (venison, wild fowl and, I suppose, duck). At a certain point the blood becomes so saturated with these purines that they look for a way to precipitate out of the blood by forming crystals IN THE JOINTS farthest removed from the heart. This is why, traditionally, the first outbreak of gout occurs in the knuckle of the big toe on the right foot.

The pain these crystals cause is excruciating. Worse than a raw nerve hit during a root canal.

There is a treatment for it. The immediate medicine is called Indomethicin, which is a heavy-duty anti-inflammatory. With me, it works within an hour or two to relieve the worst of the pain. The long-term medicines for it are Allopurinol and something called colchicine.

The problem was I forgot to pack the Indomethicin. So I suffered. A lot. For a day and half. Until I got home and took 2 capsules. That was at 10:55 a.m. By 1:00 p.m. the pain had dramatically subsided (so had the swelling and redness).

No doctor has ever given me a satisfactory explanation as to "why" I would contract gout. But I have a sneaking suspicion that it's all tied up with heart disease and diabetes.

That's the sort of problem I could sink my obsessive-compulsive teeth into.

I wonder if it's too late to become a physician, and is it a good idea for a recovered alcoholic to have easy access to prescription pads and narcotics?

I'll call my sponsor and see what he says.

I love ruining his day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


No, not Roy Rogers' horse. I mean "trigger" as in the buttons your family can push with ease because a) they installed them and b) they know where they are.

I used to think that one of my addiction triggers (as in, "if I hang around this long enough I'll have NO CHOICE but to get snot-slinging, commode-hugging, projectile-vomiting, technicolor-yawning, falling-down, drunk", was crazy women. I thought this because a) I'd spent my entire childhood surrounded by them.

There is no "b)".

However, lately, God has seen fit to saddle provide me with plenty of growth opportunities in the form of "sponsees." Sponsees are what we in recovery used to refer to as "pigeons." That was before recovery got all politically correct. Pigeon means somebody who a) shits all over you and b) flies the coop. Sponsees used to do that a lot. Nowadays it's very easy to track them down and kill them.

Anyway, these sponsee/pigeons are giving me fits. They seem to have mental meltdowns over nothing (or what I think is nothing but which, apparently, means a lot to them, like utility bills or Thanksgiving or shit like that there). They call at inopportune moments (like between midnight and dawn) when they have plenty of free time to work themselves into states over bullshit and can't understand why I don't share their enthusiasm for their latest load of insanity.

Oh, and to make it even more enjoyable, because He knows how much I adore lawyers, God has seen fit to saddle provide me with one of those as a sponsee, too!

I am blessed these days. I hardly know where to begin to express my gratitude. I don't have any time to wallow in my own insanity, that's for sure. My days fly by between work and talking my sponsees in from the ledges several times a day.

Was I this nuts when I was new?

I take back every bad thought I ever had about crazy, alcoholic women.

It's alcoholics in general that I can't stand.

And I oughta know.

I am one.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Huggy Kissy Touchie Feelie

Saturday was a very odd day. I was, as usual, overbooked. From 10:00-11:00 a.m. I attended a 12-Step Meeting in Princeton. 11:30-12:00 p.m., I got a haircut in Princeton. From 12:30-3:00 p.m. I helped friends move a 10-ton color tv and matching credenza, from 4:00 -6:00 p.m. I saw a Beatle's Tribute show (which was FABOO) in New Brunswick, from 6:00-6:45 p.m., I tried to get OUT of New Brunswick (Rutgers had kicked Pittsburgh's ass and everybody in the state was in-town to help celebrate), from 6:45-7:50 p.m., I drove like a bat out of hell 65 miles towards Willow Grove, PA, from 8:00-9:15 p.m. I was at another 12-Step meeting, and from 9:45-10:45 p.m., I drove home.


But something very odd happened that evening, at that 2nd meeting. First of all, there was a miracle when somebody I've known since childhood, and whom I'd given up for lost, resurfaced at the meeting. I was very grateful to God for that.

Secondly, and this was the truly bizarre part, some seriously good-looking men in recovery suddenly got very huggy-kissy, touchie-feelie with me after the meeting! Well, three seriously good-looking men. But that's more action than I've had in 20 years, believe me! I don't think it was a full moon. I can't believe these guys magically took a sudden interest in me. I really can't believe they can't do better!

And yes, I really do think that little of me.

Maybe it's because the holidays are coming and everybody is looking to "settle down" for the winter.

Whatever is going on, I hope it doesn't stop anytime soon. I kind of like all of this sudden outpouring of affection for me, no matter what the cause.

Friday, November 16, 2007

BioRythms & the Bermuda Triangle

If you're as old as I (is anyone as old as I?) you remember something from the 60's-70's called "biorythms" which charted 3 different cycles of something that governed your love life, career and something else.

Well, I'm convinced that I'm bottoming out on my chart these days. One of my sponsees has picked up (booze), I seem to be bleeding cash these days, the holidays are coming and I'm just feeling "blah."

Now watch how I turn all this around in the next few paragraphs.

I mention the holidays because anyone in recovery will tell you that we are now entering what's known in the business as "the Bermuda Triangle" of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, into which many an alcoholic has sailed, never to be seen (or heard from) again.

It's at this time of year that many 12-Step Clubhouses have around-the-clock "Alk-A-Thons" which are continuous meetings during the peak of the holiday season. They're generally packed. I tell my sponsees to not even THINK about "going home to see the family" unless they are well-armed with two things... 1. a meeting list (for wherever they're going) and 2. a getaway car.

People who are new in recovery, still steeped in egotism and thinking that it's "all about them", will often refuse to be prepared to duck out and go to a meeting because "someone might notice." They never minded, of course, when people "noticed" that they were falling down drunks, but God forbid anyone should notice that they're trying to get better. This is the insanity of the disease at work. It WANTS them to stay put and be uncomfortable until they can't stand the pain anymore and might, just might, pick up a drink. Nothing would please the disease more.

I remember how fragile I was, way back when I was new in recovery and trying to survive those first "drinking holidays". I was (literally) afraid of being "struck drunk" when some emotional straw in me snapped. Fortunately, that didn't happen. And I did get hold of a meeting list and a getaway car. And I got over my fears, and excused myself when I needed to do so, and returned when no one really noticed and I got better.

And so did everyone else.

All things considered, it could be worse. I could be drunk. Thank God I'm not!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Shakespeare was Right!

Somewhere in Richard II or III or one of them Bolinbroke's or Lancastrians or someplace, the scheming, conniving SOB of a usurper to the throne utters the line, "the first thing we do, we kill all the lawyers."

Now that's always sounded like a fine idea to me. Oh, I don't have anything, per se, against them, aside from the fact that most of my adult life has been consummed, one way or another, by them.

Let me explain. I met the future ex in 1979. He was a lawyer. For MegaBank here in NYC. He was 19 years older than me and I instantly wanted him for my daddy (caretaker, protector and ATM). 15 years later I was enormously successful on Wall Street and a falling down wreck of a drunk. That's how happy I was with the lawyer (he had control issues). When I left him I said to myself, "well, THAT'S THAT. No more friggin' lawyers."

Bzzzzt. Wrong. Thank you for playing.

My next flingette was with some flack in Hollyweird who, whenever he wanted to avoid talking about something that made him uncomfortable (like how much money he owed me) would resort to saying, "Oh, I can't talk about that now. I'm up to my ASS in lawyers out here." And that would be the end of that discussion.

When the money, and he, were finally gone and I hit bottom and skidded into 12-Step recovery and slowly crawled back out of the hole I'd dug, towards the light...

God said, "He needs to be taught a lesson. I will give him a job... working for lawyers."

And so I do. And so I HAVE, since 1999. Over the years I've made my peace with working with them. Hell, I've even made my peace at sharing space in 12-Step meetings with them.

But today God went right over the top. At the end of the meeting this morning, Mr. "X", an attorney who actually has a year or two more of sobriety than I do, pulled me aside and, sotto voce, asked me if I would be willing to serve as his "interim sponsor." He said that he liked what I have. That's recovery lingo for "I see things in you and your behavior that I would like to emulate."

I've had to sleep with them, get taken to the cleaners by them and work for them.

Now they expect me to help them get sober.

What next?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What Would You Do?

if your phone rang late at night and it was a guy who had shined your shoes for you when you worked on Wall Street 20 years ago?

Well, if you're me, you let him go into voicemail and go to bed wondering what he wants. So that's what I did.

I spoke with him today and he wants to have dinner. At first he wanted to do it tonight. I managed to put him off until tomorrow. Yes, he's gay. We established that 2 decades ago. And he's Brazilian and he was adorable then (well, so was I!). But he's been in a relationship for 15 years now, so I know it's not about sex. I told him my Wall Street days were long finished and that I made a living, barely, as a legal secretary now. That didn't seem to deter him. I finally said I couldn't be out late because I had to catch a bus back to New Jersey -- and he offered me the use of he and his partner's guest room tomorrow night.

Well, anyone who went to all the trouble of a) calling my ex and getting screamed at by him and b) looking in the White Pages in New York AND New Jersey until he found me, obviously is someone who really wants to see me.

I just sent an e-mail to my sobriety counselor bemoaning all this and wondering, aloud, "why God is doing this to me?"

After all, I didn't get sober to have a life. I got sober to be miserable until I die which, some days, can't come soon enough to suit me.

But I've agreed to see him. And so I shall. I really have no excuse for turning this into something negative (aside from being an alcoholic -- because that's just what we do).

Seriously, though .... if someone dropped out of your sky after 20 years... what would you do?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Car 54 Where Are You?

I've been MIA for a couple of days. Hence the obscure cultural reference in the Subject Line, above. If you weren't around in the very early 60's, you'd have no idea what it refers to. Suffice it to say that it comes from a time when JFK International Airport was still called "Idlewild."

I've gotten into this rut where I don't post over the weekends because I'm having way too much fun going to 12-Step meetings and shopping at BJ's afterwards.

I blew over a hundred bucks at BJs this past Sunday. I bought a 2-year supply of Ivory bathsoap and a year's supply of Gillette Mach 3 razor blades and about a year's supply of shaving gel to go with it. I also bought two 35 count boxes of Trail Mix bars, a 1 pound block of Havarti, 2 1-pound bags of Ruffles potato chips (bad JoyZeeBoy!) and some other crap I don't really need.

Oh, and I placed an order for two pumpkin pies to take with me when I go to Baltimore for Thanksgiving (OUT OF TOWN ALERT!). I hate to arrive empty-handed as a houseguest so I'm bringing dessert and (shhhh) I also bought my hosts the DVD of "Ratatouille" which we all saw on Cape Cod last summer, and which my friends really enjoyed.

So who has time to post anything? Well, my friend Bev does. Apparently at 30 or 40 websites, under various aliases, all day, every day. No wonder the woman never sleeps.

Habits come in all shapes and sizes, whether it's posting or shopping. Obsessions. Compulsions. Call 'em what you want. I got 'em. My friends all have 'em.

On a slightly different subject, you may have noticed a little logo down at the bottom of my blog for something called SiteMeter. It keeps tabs on who drops by here. Oh, it doesn't name names, but it does tell me the name of the server and/or IP address and the city, state and country of origin. It also tells me if the viewer got here by "googling" or searching for something.

And I have to tell you, one of the most popular phrases I ever posted here, based on how often it turns up in people's net-searches, is from an old song entitled "Young At Heart." It seems especially popular among netcruisers in Central and South America. Don't know why (there's no sun up in the sky...)

Anyway, the particular verse that seems so popular goes:

"fairy tales can come true
it can happen to you....
if you're young at heart"

The song was originally sung by Frank Sinatra. It became a giant hit for him and was subsequently used in the movie of the same name. It was released in 1954 and starred Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Gig Young and Ethel Barrymore. It's a fluff of a nothing movie, a remake of 1938's "Four Daughters". Basically it's "good girls go for bad boys." But the song stuck.

And as I've previously mentioned, the best rendition of the song, I think, was by the late, great Jimmy Durante.

So, "Goodnight Mrs. Calabash.... wherever you are!" (Another obscure cultural reference. Look that one up yourselves.)

p.s. Today is my post number 300! Would somebody like to run 26.5 miles back to Athens to let everybody know? No? Wimps.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Veteran's Day - 2007

I am a vet. A wartime era vet (VietNam). I did not see combat, but I took my chances along with everybody else. I didn't run off to Canada, although I could've, and with the blessings of E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. where I was employed at the time I was drafted. They offered me a transfer to DuPont of Canada, if I'd chosen to do so. I declined.

I didn't get some rich relative (of which I have none) to "buy me" a place in the National Guard or the reserves.

I didn't run. I got drafted. I enlisted in the Navy instead. I was on active duty from 1968 to 1972. I climbed the corporate ranks of the military, too. I went from E-nothing to E-5 in 2 years and change (that's the equivalent of a Sergeant in the other services). My quarterly ratings were always in the top 5 percentile. I was Sailor of the Month and Sailor of the Quarter in my divisions at the Naval Air Test Center and I graduated first in my class in Aviation Electronics School. When my enlistment was nearing it's end an unending string of Chief Petty Officers and Officer/Pilots walked the deck with me, trying to convince me to re-enlist.

In short, I was a model sailor and a valuable military asset.

There was only one, teensy thing wrong with me as far as the government was concerned. I was a homosexual. They didn't know that, of course. But I did. I endured 4 years of listening to derogatory comments about queers and living in fear of "being found out" at any time. But I kept my secret because I had goals ... to fulfill my obligation to the nation and to collect my hard-earned VA benefits once my enlistment was up.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed, finally, a bill outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. They dropped the trannies in order to "git'er done." I hate politics, even as I understand the necessity for it. Both sides must come away feeling as though they have something to show for it.

So the poor trannies got thrown under the bus. As someone who has been thrown under the bus any number of times, I totally understand how they must feel today.

At any rate, the bill is progress. We live in an imperfect nation with imperfect leaders who govern imperfectly.

So this Veteran's Day (Sunday) I intend to keep in mind two heavily put-upon underclasses in this nation of ours. The closeted men and women who proudly wear the uniforms of our armed forces and our transexual citizens whose only crime was to feel compelled to heed Shakespeare's admonition to "thine own self be true."

I am truer to myself today than I have ever been in my entire life. And yet, there is much work remaining to be done. And that goes for the country, too.

Peace, everyone.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Coach USA-Suburban Transit, Academy Bus Line (follow-up)

I neglected to mention one other exciting little glitch in our perfect mass-transit system in New Jersey.

The dispatchers in New York are all employees of Coach USA/Suburban. The dispatcher at the 8-A Park and Ride is an employee of Academy.

They have no means of communicating with each other NOR can they communicate with the drivers of each other's motorcoaches. Therefore, if an Academy bus doesn't show up in New York, the dispatchers there have no idea where it is or, indeed, if it's even going to show up (this is for the evening commute back home to New Jersey).

The reverse is true during the morning commute into the city. The Academy dispatcher hasn't got a clue as to the whereabouts of the Coach USA/Suburban buses.

Furthermore, when you have the gall to ask them about it, you get a curt response that's tantamount to "go fuck yourselves."

I will not rest until I have brought these bastards to their knees.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Coach USA-Suburban Transit, Academy Bus Line

You can bet your bippy I won't be extolling the virtues of the above-named companies today.

In fact, they suck. And here's why they suck.

Coach/Suburban has a monopoly on bus service out of Exit 9 of the New Jersey Turnpike to and from New York City. This monopoly was granted to them because they bid, and won, a contract from the township. That contract has severe penalties built into it if Coach/Suburban fails to perform. They must be on-time. They guarantee X number of seats will be available within X amount of time during both the morning commute from New Brunswick to New York AND during the evening commute from the Port Authority building in New York to New Brunswick. It's a pity I don't commute out of Exit 9. My life would be perfect if I did. Unfortunately, I commute out of Exit 8-A, another 12 miles or so down the turnpike.

In the 7 years I've been making an evening commute out of New York I have observed, time and again, the dispatchers in New York deliberately CANNIBALIZING buses from other service areas in New Jersey SOLELY for the purpose of fulfilling their contractural obligations to the New Brunswick riders... often leaving riders to much further destinations (8-A Jamesburg and 8 Hightstown) high and dry and awaiting a bus that won't be pressed into service on the High and Almighty New Brunswick run.

Their primary competitor in New Jersey is Academy Bus Lines. The only problem with Academy is that it has no accountability to the riders whatsoever. No contracts, no nothing. In fact, they just plain don't give a rat's ass if you get to work or get home from work at all.

Their attitude is one of condescension, as though we, the riders, should be fucking grateful that they showed up at all. Today's morning Academy bus, number 1804, arrived with a rotting supply of 3-day old fruit and cold, half-empty, coffee-cups, jammed into the mesh netting of the seat backs at the back of the bus. This bus had clearly not been serviced for some time and actually posed a health hazard.

Oh, and it invariably arrives late these days, mostly because the driver has been coerced into stopping at Dunkin' Donuts to pick up coffee for the dispatcher at the 8-A park and ride, who is too lazy to stop and get his own.

The problem with both of these companies is that they're both subsidized by New Jersey Transit to operate their routes. Subsidized up the ass. By taxpayers. Like me. On top of which each rider (from my stop) has to shuck out 90 bucks a week (yup, 9 bucks a trip) to get to and from New York. That's Four Thousand One-Hundred and Forty dollars ($4,140.00) in POST-TAX dollars I (and all the other schlubs on my bus) pay to Coach/Suburban and/or Academy every year. Throw in another Three Hundred and Eighty-Five dollars a year to park ($385.00).

This is just the tip of the crooked iceberg in New Jersey. Only an idiot wouldn't realize that both of those companies GREASE every politician in the statehouse in Trenton in order to assure that they retain the most-favored nation status that they enjoy; and shutting New Jersey Transit out, thus insuring gluttonous profits for the two, privately owned bus companies.

It's a shame. It's a disgrace. It's a major pain in everyone's ass.

And nobody does a fucking thing about it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Opinion Flambe

"Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one and everybody else's stinks. "

Old 12-Step Program adage.

I made the mistake yesterday of posting an opinion over at JoeMyGod regarding cellphones and cellphone blockers. The blockers are, of course, illegal in this country, but they are NOT illegal in several foreign countries where suppliers will be more than happy to ship one to the States for a small fee. Because so many people are completely insensitive to how annoying their cellphone usage is, I support the "zap the mothers" faction who want to make the blockers more readily available here in the States.

Well, I touched a nerve and got mildly burned in the process. It was pretty tame, really.

But it brought back memories. I'm a survivor of CompuServe's old Section 17 of the "Issues" forum which ran over there for years. We had plenty of flame wars there, usually when some radical right, born-again, bible-thumping jerk, who'd been given a computer for Christmas, logged into the internets and went trolling for queers and lezbeans. They'd find us and zoom in like so many diver-bombers (in fact, that was their nickname, "dive-bombers"). The problem was they really weren't much fun to spar with because we were all a bunch of over-achieving Mensa refugees who liked to hang out together, sharpening our claws on each other until the unwitting dopes arrived. It was like shooting fish in a barrel.

They wouldn't last long because a) we were smarter than they were and shot holes in every argument they posited and b) they fainted when they got their first month's bill. It cost a f*cking fortune to belong to CompuServe in those days, based on connection time (we insiders used an off-line reader program called "TapCis" which would log you in and quickly upload any posts you might have and then, just as quickly, download the latest posts and then log off).

One time we were cordially invited by the good folks over at the US News & World Report forum to "drop by" and engage someone from the Colorado Family Council, or some such crapola, on the subject of equal rights for gays (this was right after Colorado had passed some cockamamie law banning the granting of "special rights" for homosexuals... which was shot down a year or two later by the Colorado Supreme Court).

But there was a dark side to all this verbal sparring. When we got bored... or when there wasn't anybody else to fight with, we would occasionally turn on each other and start to devour our own young, as it were. I was guilty of doing this. I'm sorry for my behavior then and try real hard not to get into "flames" these days if I can help it.

These days, when I find my blood-pressure rising over some trivial subject or another, I try to remember that somebody, somebody who had a momma and a poppa, might not see things quite the same way I do.

We have another saying in 12-Step programs:

"Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?"

Most of the time these days, I opt for happy.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Cawfee Tawk!

Well, I have coffee. Whoop-di-goddamned-do!

I also have a coffee table. This had been a subject of some doubt for most of the year since starting late last year I'd buried it under piles of paper that I had every intention of "getting around to" sooner or later.

Well, it's later, so I attacked the stacks yesterday. I spent nearly four hours going through each and every scrap of paper. There were my discharge documents from the hospital after my quad-bypass surgery in 2004. There were co-payment receipts from doctors. There were invoices from CDW (a new disk drive), Best-Buy (a cable modem) and various crap from other places.

The shredder got a thorough workout and I filled nearly 4 medium sized trash bags with paper confetti.

This is one of the biggest problems of living alone. It's too easy to succumb to the temptation to "just let it slide" (whatever "it" is) for awhile. Like a year. Or two.

Quentin Crisp, one of the Stately Homos of England (God rest Her Soul) once said (and I concurred) that "dust doesn't get any thicker after the first two years." Still, it never hurts to run a dust-rag and a vacuum around the place every once in awhile.


On another note, this one musical, I found a new British Pop-Goddess over the weekend. 19 year old Amy MacDonald. Her big hit right now is entitled "Mr. Rock and Roll."

I hope you enjoy her and it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

I’m Dreaming of a Cuisinart Coffepot…

My mind is made up. And it only took a week. Less, actually, since I’ve only been mulling it over since Sunday.

Tonight, after work and on my way to my Friday night LGBT 12-Step meeting in Princeton, I’m going to stop at BB&B (Bed, Bath & Beware!) and get that matte black Cuisinart coffeemaker. I hope you didn’t really think that all my blather here last Monday was the final word on it did you?

The fact that it only took me five days to decide this is actually progress for me.

It only took me eleven years to decide to leave my ex, and then another four to actually do it. Guilt and fear are powerful motives for doing… or not doing… anything.

It took me about a month to decide to buy the Toaster I drive (the Honda Element). I’d shopped for cars probably for about four or five months prior to that. I was torn for the longest time between the Honda and the (Toyota-produced) Scion, which also has a boxy model.

And some people say I have a fear of commitment!


(p.s. I’m torn. Should I get my hair cut tomorrow morning, as previously scheduled, or should I get my oil changed instead? Decisions, decisions…)

(p.p.s. Go see a movie this weekend. Try the one with John Cusack. I know a little bit about it. The story just about broke my heart.)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Rollerena: Diva, activist, skater, legend.

The first time I heard of RollerArena (later, Rollerena), I was fresh out of the Navy and the closet and running up and down the east coast, in the fall of 1972, attending various gay lib functions at sister universities to the U. of D., where I was the President of the fledgling LGBT group there. It was said that Roller showed up, like Batman, only in a tattered old wedding dress, eyeglasses that looked like Barry Humphries castoffs, and roller skates, at anything that smacked of political gayeity or just plain fabulousness.

The first time I saw Rollerena was on a streetcorner in Greenwich Village, around Christmas of 1972, when my then boyfriend, for my Christmas present, had gotten us tickets to see "Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill" which was playing at the Theater de Lys (later renamed the Lucille Lortel theater), on Christopher Street. I was enthralled as Rollerena whizzed by, tattered train dragging in the slush, holding a magic wand like Glinda's, waving it over the crowds on the sidewalk, bestowing his Queer Blessings on us all. Roller was street theater. Roller was Guerilla gayness. Roller was my Hero(ine).

One rumor had it that by day he was a block trader at a brokerage house (Wrong. He worked at a city agency), but by night he became the doyenne of dramatic faggotry. It was known that he was one of the darlings of Studio 54 and could be found there many nights of the week. But he wasn't just a disco diva. No, no. This public display of fabulousness had a serious, political purpose behind it.

The next time I saw Roller was in the summer of 1973, at the NY Pride March. I've blogged before about what disorganized messes the Pride Marches were in those days (and a helluva lot more fun than the pre-packaged ones they stage today). Roller didn't remember my name, but he remembered my tallness or something, for he came flitting over to greet me where I had joined the congregation from Rutgers (to say "hi" to a bunch of my fellow radical faeries from that fine institution of insubordination). He, as were we all, was charged by the electricity in the air. In those days civil disobedience was one of the most powerful aphrodisiacs around. ("Hello, my name is Chance? Wouldn't you like to give Chance a piece?")

I continued to hear about Roller over the years, even as I drifted away from my gay lib roots. Sometime, probably in the early 90's, I thought about Roller and wondered whatever became of him. But in those pre-internets day, there was no easy way to check up on him.

Then, on a whim, this morning I googled him.

There's a nice little article about Rollerena here. You should read it. Rollerena is an important part of Your Gay History!

Rep. Richard Curtis, the Washington State Closet Case I flagellated here yesterday, has resigned (surprise, surprise).

It's also rumored he's in the market for a good divorce lawyer.