Wednesday, June 30, 2004

An Open Letter To Charlene,

It's Julia. Welcome to Sugarbaker's.

Well, you've gone and sold your soul to the devil. I tried to warn you but you seemed determined. I kid. Your new co-workers are fun, funny and deep down a pretty amazing bunch. In the rich tradition of all bars everywhere they also have a long and colorful history of drug, alcohol and mental problems. That's why they love me so, I'm a triple threat. At least I think they love me so. If you find out they don't love me so please don't tell me I don't want to know.

I'm sure you'll make a fine new cashew in the nutbowl. Don't take any shit from my girls. A lot of them think that just because they've been around for eight years they "got juice". I've never let them know I've always found a fact like that rather pathetic. A lot of times when I talk to them I'm making a mental grocery list or balancing my checkbook. So don't assume something's true unless you heard it from me. I may not tell you the entire truth but I never lie.

Try not to look out at the room and think it's our future in 25 years. That way lies madness. And always remember that in that 20 year separation there is a whole different era. Their pasts are not ours so I doubt their present is our future. At least, that's what keeps me from collapsing into a heap of sobbing spasms on the bar top.

So, the reason I'm writing is this:
While we're not bestest girlfriends or anything we have sort of formed this on-line connection these past few months. Now that we're working together (Saying I'm anyone's boss makes me uncomfortable. The word "boss" makes me uncomfortable. I much prefer working together.) I suppose we ought to address the elephant in the room and decide what to do about that part of our relationship. I suppose the smart and/or mature thing would be for both of us to agree to delete each other from our sites and turn our backs and walk in opposite directions. It is plain for all to see I rarely opt for smart or mature. And while I can only speculate about you, I can definitely speak for myself and say that if I told you I deleted your site and I'm not reading, that would be a big fat lie. I've got the self control of a three year old, and I wouldn't be able to resist peeking in. Plus, I've enjoyed your writing and I haven't even had the chance to paw through your archives yet, so I find the prospect of promising not to look....Impractical. So what I propose is this: Let's not even try to put the genie back in the bottle. I have no plans to edit what I write about simply because of our newly close proximity. I'll just keep in mind that you're there in case there's something I want to keep super, super secret. Or I'll write it, swear you to secrecy, and unleash a jihad upon you and your house if you spill it. You write whatever you damn well please, keeping in mind I might read it. I promise not to reveal that part of our relationship to any of your new co-workers. You'll find as we get to know each other further that keeping confidences is one of my best qualities. I'm good at secrets, except when it comes to myself, of course.

M'kay?

I have to go. Suzanne has her ass stuck in the railing outside.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Could I Git A Li'l Good News?

Got my latest blood work back. I wasn't worried (much) as I've been feeling right as rain lately.

T-Cell count was: 468 is 628
Viral load was: 81,250 is 62,000

The lesson here? Being a raging bitch isn't just a lifestyle choice. It's imperative to my continued good health.

Sorry, fuckers.
Just Go Ahead And Jump, Everyone Else Is

Like almost everyone else, I'm posting (via The Stranger.com) what everyone else describes as hilarious. Unlike everyone else I think this advice is only good for sending fags on a lifetime road of self-loathing. As comedy, I think it's tragic. So despite the advice of my legal counsel I hereby and forthwith opt to deface it.




ADVICE FOR RECENT ARRIVALS
Dos & Don'ts & More Don'ts for Gay Boy Refugees
by Nate Lippens (Edited for content by Tom Tricoli)



So you made it out of that backwater town in one piece. Now comes the hard part--acclimating to a new place and living an openly gay life. Soon enough you will discover which bars cater to your distorted physical ideals, that meth is very bad, and that a deep tan is ugly and pre-cancerous-- (True, but a base tan is attractive and a tan line makes men get hard) but what about the other stuff? Here's a cheat sheet to save you some time and trouble.

1. You are not a strong black woman. You never will be. If it makes you aspire to be assertive, resourceful, opinionated and fierce go on wit' yo' Patti LaBelle self!

2. I know it was terrible being the fag in your school/small town/own mind, but don't introduce yourself to people with this information. Being gay is, and should be, the least interesting thing about you. (Do not listen to this. Find a T-shirt and slap "I suck dick" in big letters across the front. The personal is political, or haven't you been on the planet all year?)

3. If your mother is the greatest woman who ever lived, keep it to yourself. The holiday orphans don't want to hear it. On the flip side, your family will always be a part of you even if you never speak to them again, but try not to spend your life in reaction to them. (Or you could just get some therapy, resolve your family issues and spend the better part of 60 years not affected in the least by your childhood trauma. But maybe that's just crazy talk.)

4. Rainbow flags, bumper stickers, and wind socks are no different than Green Bay Packers fans painting their faces green and gold: a complete embarrassment. Pride can be as ugly and warping as shame. (I'll just highlight "embarrassment" and refer you back to #2.)

5. Gay life can be empty and depressing, but bitching about it outside the confines of a few close friends will get you tagged as bitter. Yes, the gay mainstream is alienating with its cookie-cutter bars, bad dance music, and Queer as Folk. It's enough to make you turn straight. But electroshock doesn't work and Jesus is a sci-fi character. (The gay mainstream is alienating if you allow yourself to be alienated, find the things you like and run with it. Pay no attention to what everyone else seems to like. And you will never turn straight ever no matter how hard you pray for it to be so.)

6. Don't fraternize with people who haven't come out. (By all means, turn your back on someone struggling with the very issues you've just faced. What's one more scared and confused proto-fag amongst the thousands?)

7. Your masculinity has most likely been called into question. Anything you do in reaction to it will be a failure. Don't try to prove or disprove anything. (But always be ready to kick the sorry ass of some pathetic self-hating fag who uses gay pride to reinforce every negative stereotype about what it means to live an out gay life.)

8. There is a difference between being effeminate and being a queen. Being effeminate is just that--being. Being a queen is an affectation. I can't throw a ball, but I don't call anyone "girl," even female children. (Adopting affectations is one of your most useful skills as a gay man. You must be able to adapt to new surroundings effortlessly. One word: manipulation. It's why people do things for you they don't for others. "Just do me this one favor girl.... please"?)

9. Avoid she-bonics: referring to each other as Girl, She, and Her. "What's her problem?" That you are an idiot. This includes: Bitchslap, Girlfriend, Shit pussy, Mangina. (This will guarantee that you're the sullen, unpopular, crushing bore that nobody but nobody will ever approach in a bar. Enjoy!)

10. Don't be a misogynist asshole. Leave the tuna jokes back in your small town with your usage of Jew as a verb. If it weren't for lesbians and feminism, we'd still be sucking cock in truck-stop restrooms. I mean exclusively. (I can't comment on this. It's common knowledge "I hate women." Unless they're maids. Or store cashiers. And we already know you give truckstop blowjobs to fat married 50 year olds. It's all your pathetic faggot ass deserves, right?)

11. I've never been to a bathhouse. No, really. So I can't advise you on it but I do know they are basically a petri dish of STDs. If you are okay with HIV, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, and other STDs, by all means fuck your brains out. (Because sex is a dirty, nasty thing. And you are a dirty, nasty thing for wanting sex. And when you have dirty, nasty sex you will get a disease and you will die. I hope you're happy you filthy faggot.)

12. Do not have black-and-white photos à la Bruce Weber taken of you and your beloved. And if you must, then don't hang them up as "art" in your home. (Gratuitous nudity of any kind is always most welcome. In movies, at the theater, or the changing room at Jones Beach. It's all good. If you've got the bod for porn by all means document it. You'll be glad you did in 30 years.)

13. Don't kiss and tell. Or fuck, suck, rim, or fist and tell. Think of your bedroom like Vegas: What happens there stays there. It will keep you from gossiping, which is the true heart of darkness, and will create a sense of mystery. Besides the cruelty of nicknaming someone Princess Tiny Meat (it would make a wonderful DJ name though), it isn't good karma. And what modestly endowed dude who sucks a mean cock is going to want to go home with you after that? (Who the fuck cares what a modestly endowed dude wants? And what proper fag says "dude"?)

14. Bros before hos. I learned this the hard way: Do not sleep with a friend's ex-boyfriend. Ever. Even if they say they don't care, they do. (Almost no one gay will ever use the term "bro". You absolutely can sleep with a friend's ex but this is the time to not kiss and tell. Fuck like bunnies, twice if you have to, and then shut your mouth.)

15. You are 200 times more likely to be an alcoholic than your straight counterparts. (Because being gay is sooo shameful and stressful and you're really only gay because you're weak.)

16. Beauty fades. Develop some inner resources, otherwise when it goes, those of us with less far to fall will laugh at you. To your aging face. (Then you will finally, after years and years of envy of people more fabulous, more popular, more diverse and maddeningly more happy then you ever were, finally you will feel slightly more superior for not getting rid of your back hair.)

17. Men, like lotto tickets, should not be had every day. The odds are the same. (Ya gotta be in it to win it. Have sex indiscriminantly and often. And never, ever feel bad about it.)

18. Romantic friendships will end up being neither. (But they are fun, frustrating, heartbreaking and the source of hours of phone conversations with your best "girlfiends". They are also the source of music, art and often really really bad poetry.)

19. Cultivate friendships with straight men. "But we have nothing in common," you say? Bullshit. You are men. Many straight men are in fact softer and sweeter than their faggoty brothers. (You barely need straight people at all. You definitely do not need straight men. You're "faggoty" brothers will do fine if you find ones that don't hate themselves.)

20. Make friends with at least one dyke, you silly faggot. When the shit goes down--for instance your mother dies--fags will drop you in an instant if you aren't fun. Dykes will come to your house with food. (Chris has my answer here. Yell at him for once. The "silly faggot" remark is "delicious".)

21. Don't make friendships based solely around how outrageous you are. It's a shitty kind of attention. (See Monday, June 21. I can and have cemented friendships based solely on a person's willingness to eat his boyfriend's ass in public. Will they last forever? Who cares! Will you laugh your ass off? Oh yes.)

22. Don't refer to anyone as a fag hag. It's rude. Also don't hang out with fag hags. (Disregard this note. Fag hags are so 80's. Just find a tattooed chick with big ole titties who isn't afraid to flash 'em if it means free shots. You'll be fine.)


23. Don't date people who have scars that are older than you. (I'll find this highly insulting sooner than I care to admit. You're fat, Nate)


24. After all of that, you are still not a strong black woman. (So for all you gay bloggers who linked to this today and said how "hilarious" it was and yes, I'm talking to you and you and also you. Why don't you really read what this man is saying? Take some time to think about what it was you responded to and found yourself identifying with. Maybe you've got less to be proud of about yourself than you think. Maybe you've got some work to do starting today.)

Happy Gay Pride, fuckers.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

We Interrupt This Program...

To direct you to my first contribution to my "'net-friend" Devon's, newest venture, harmless devon. I'm working up the nerve to do a serious expose on my job and totally pull the curtain back on the magic show. But for now, this is pretty interesting and I may post follow-up content here or there depending on the reaction.

Also

I called his gut wrenching sign off "an extraordinary piece of writing" and to this day he has inspired me to work harder, do better and make this as real and raw as I can make it. And now he's back. I'm truly thrilled.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Sure You Can Marry, but.....

AIDSWalk New York is over. Filled with love for our fellow fags, Me, The Hellcat and his boyfriend A---- head down to the village. It's a bright, sunny, spring day and everyone seems to be down on the waterfront. After a quick stop in The Dugout for a beer, we join them. As it always seems to happen New Yorkers have managed to coexist, with the first, largest pier seemingly ceded to "the gays". There's all manner of shirtless men either walking up and down the pier, looking out at the passing boats or stripped down to their swimsuits getting some late afternoon sun. (Of course, I remember when I first moved here before the old pier was torn down. In those days you were less likely to see someone in a swimsuit and more likely to see him in his birthday suit. Gentrification has its drawbacks.) In any case it was a fleshfest and we were loving it. We walked the length of the "gay pier" before crossing over to the (smaller, more drab) "straight pier". I speculated that the people lounging on the connecting grass were probably the bisexuals but it was just a working theory. M--- and A----- "roughhoused" a bit (I know that word is archaic but that's exactly what they were doing). They kissed (third wheel much?), we saw a fire boat shoot its water cannons over the bow of a departing cruise ship. Yes, of course I left my camera uptown. We bought a couple of sodas, and generally "made the scene." Eventually,we made our way back to The Dugout for another drink. That's three drinks over the course of three hours if anyone's keeping score. The Dugout was much busier than when we left it but we managed to carve out an area in front by the pool table and were standing around having a chat. It was getting late, (not late at night, late as in The Hellcat and I had to work) and I mentioned that. The Hellcat said he wanted to stop at The Hangar before we headed uptown, but I was feeling relaxed and had no desire to cross over into tipsy right before a closing shift at work. A---- expressed a similar sentiment. I managed to convince The Hellcat we should call it a day. As we headed up Christopher St. towards 6th Ave. and an uptown taxi, I realized that I was pretty hungry and perhaps a quick bite might be wise. And for no other reason than there it was we opted to stop in at Rivoli Pizza. It's located right on the corner of Christopher and Hudson, and if memory serves (and it might not) they've been there a good amount of time. I know that at some point they renovated the front so that it opens right out on to the street. A smart way to capture hungry homosexuals. It worked on us.

We walked in and up to the counter and ordered a couple slices. For some reason, I walked away from A----- and The Hellcat, positioning myself closer to the cash register while they headed over towards a free standing table to wait. I really wasn't doing anything, just sort of looking around, at a menu, I think, when I became aware of one of the counter men yelling across the room. Not yelling angry just yelling:

"Hey guys, come on cut it out."

Naturally, I look across the room to see who he's talking to.

It's The Hellcat and A-----. And they were kissing. That's it. No sloppy tongue-wrestling. No kiss, grab a handful of ass, kiss. Just arm around the other closed mouth kiss. On Christopher St. OUR Christopher St. Or did I miss a memo? Now, I know how 70's that sounds, and I'm not that old.I don't believe every business on the block should be gay owned or gay related. I think ghettoizing ourselves, while understandable at the time, safety in numbers and a wish to stand together and form a "community", in retrospect may have been a mistake. In terms of allowing people to characterize us as "them" and therfore "other" read: different. But traditionally and historically (at least from the late 50's on,) Christopher St. has been "ours". And if you think that's untrue just take a walk any Sunny Sunday. It's wall to wall fags. Always has been. And if you think the aforementioned "gay pier" isn't owned by us, well girrrl you just don't get it.

But doesn't it stand to reason that if you locate your business right in the heart of Gaytown, USA that more than likely you'll attract modern, out, comfortable gay people? The kind that don't see anything wrong with giving your boyfriend a smooch while your slice is warming up? And doesn't it stand to reason that a policy prohibiting that might be thought of as offensive? Like we did.

As soon as I realized what was happening I walked over to The Hellcat and said something to the effect of, "I have no intention of giving these people my money. Let's go." I walked out to the sidewalk followed by A-----, followed, I expected by The Hellcat. And I waited. And waited. Then it dawned on me perhaps The Hellcat was living up to his nickname and I oughta investigate. Sure enough upon re-entering the establishment a verbal argument had obviously already escalated culminating in The Hellcat shoving a plasticware tray across the counter whereupon two of the countermen began to chase him,and now me out of the pizzeria. We stopped once on the sidewalk and gave them the arms outstretched in the universal "what's up? c'mon man, what you gonna do?" pose but they had no real belly for a street fight.

So what's wrong here and what's to be done? Clearly what's wrong is this establishment, or at the very least it's employees, have taken it upon themselves to police and discourage a simple act of affection. Is this also the owners' policy? Do I believe for a second that if it had been a straight couple sitting in the sun and waiting for their slice while they innocently kissed that a single objection would have been uttered? Oh hell no.Which means specifically two gay men are not allowed to kiss in public here. We can spend our money here. We can help the owners pay their mortgage here. But kissing. "Hey, come on , guys. Cut it out." THAT offends me. More, it pisses me the fuck off! What's to be done? Well, at the very least, I could just stop patronizing this establishment and urge others to do the same. I've done that before and gotten a measure of satisfaction out of it.
Gay Pride Week (day three)

Spent the day surfing the web and cleaning up my files. I was pretty wiped from the weekend at work/play and I have a standing policy of "no expectations" on my day off Tuesday. If I get to the gym, fine. If not, no pressure. Ditto laundry, house cleaning or any other pending projects.This rule does not apply to masturbation. Indeed, an afternoon pulling my pickle is frequently the only thing I'm guaranteed to accomplish. I did spend some time tending to my vast financial empire, as "Tha Man" was trying to keep me down again by fucking with one of my accounts. As I write this, an e-mail came in sniveling an apology for offending me by thinking I would not notice their evil machinations and ham-handed attempt at bilking me out of my riches. As If! Back out of my presence slowly, miscreant, lest I incinerate you with my fiery glare!

All of this preparation left me free and clear to attend my second blogger event:



The difference being this time I was determined to not be such a wallflower and take the time to meet/be introduced to at least a couple of the people I've been trading comments with. I'd never been to P.S. 122 so I had no idea what to expect. I was surprised to find a legitimate theater space that held approximately 100(?) people or so and I'll be damned if the thing wasn't sold out! They even had a helpful two page "playbill" to take. The performance would consist of 6 people reading their pieces plus two musical guests. Now, in the interest of full disclosure I did bring my increasingly snarky digicam with me, and true to form the first five or so shots I snapped were followed by a "format disk" message, this for a disk that is already formatted and an action that results in me losing said pictures. The only mitigating facts in this are that upon examination this morning all the shots I snapped during the performance are unusable as I was trying to take performance shots in a dark theater with no flash. I was hoping to capture the performers in their light on stage, what I got was a series of proto-human white blobs of no discernible gender.



I suppose I could say it's my take on the next possible evolution of humanity and call it "art", instead of what it really is, which is "crap". But I guess that's why I'm destined to be po'. I did get some usable shots just not at the actual event. There's this one I managed to salvage from a musical performance by The Hazzards, who in addition to performing a pared down version of their internet sensation video "Gay Boyfriend", hilariously decided that their contribution to the spoken word portion of the evening would be to read aloud their hate male. 'Twas brilliant, I tell ya.



The other musical performance was courtesy of Faustus. He performed an original song composed especially for the night. How do people do that? Gee, I want to write a song. And then they do! I think it's an amazing ability. It was a great performance, although I have to admit, when the lyric "my perfectly sculpted ass" came out it sent me careening on a whole 'nother tangent involving me, Faustus, the inside of the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine van and 3 jars of Fluffernutter.

As to the spoken word performances they were a lot of fun, mostly. His best stuff being the exasperation us professional homosexuals are feeling regarding this new pan-sexual, poly-morphous not gay but not straight call me queer culture that kids today seem to be fond of. Feels a bit like chicken-shit fence sitting if you ask me. Like I can have my straight and suck dick, too. I say pick a team. And you can never go wrong ending your piece quoting from Funny Lady. Read on

He did a very funny but slightly touching (if you were paying attention) piece about a night when he and his partner performed in drag for a charity event. In between the obligatory Liza jokes there was some obvious affection shining through. Nicely done.

While I haven't been following his exploits on a regular basis (Come on, I only have so much to give!) I may have to squeeze him in now. Knowing you're not the only one who totally wanted to be The Bionic Woman makes the world seem a little more right. Sparky generously posted his piece on his site in it's entirety. Go see it or be lazy and click here.

Another drag-themed presentation courtesy of Jim Barrett from DC. Unfortunately, I'm having trouble tracking down his weblog so for now, suffice it to say it involved a charity drag race, your tax dollars in action and a horrid multi-fag pile-up on the streets of DC. Head's up, comin at ya...

There were a couple of lesbians on the bill as well....

*cough*


*sound* crickets

*gets some water*

No. I'm kidding, sort of. Lesbians can be rather earnest and there were no restrictions on the subject matter beyond "gay" and if you like, stereotypically all the men went for laughs, so it's not all that surprising that true to her "nature" one of the lesbians decided to recount a gay bashing from college. And you can make a case that someone ought to take the time during this little celebration of pride that not all is right in our gay little world. Still, as politically correct as I'm trying to be, way to suck the life out the room, girl.

*Ahem* Well, that was unpleasant.

My first impulse is to go back and totally deconstruct Kiri's piece and what I didn't like about it. But I felt that I would be proving a point over the back of another and that hurting someone while trying to defend myself didn't seem like the most decent course of action. I didn't like it. I have my reasons, and I'm allowed. And self-righteous harpy's who wrap themselves in the queer civil rights movement flag and then insult you and then cry foul won't dissuade me.

Since my scorched earth policy has seen to it that I won't be participating in any of these events in any capacity but audience member, I might as well wrap up the night and give you the rest of the story. I hit the street and dialed up The Hellcat who was supposed to attend the show with me and almost made me miss it waiting. He missed a message from me that I was on the way and once he arrived at the space it was sold out and too late. Being 7 blocks from 9th st they just went home. We agreed to meet on a nearby corner and started wandering the neighborhood as I recounted the show. Part way up 9th st. I came upon this little fella in a locked up store front and he seemed to need me to take his picture. I obliged, seeing as he had dressed and all. I'm pretty sure the leg is plastic.



We decided to head over for dinner to a place The Hellcat likes. Goofing around along the way as they do this punch/slap/kiss/hand holding combo that you do believe it or not find unremarkable after spending enough time with them. More silly pictures ensued.



Dinner took place at The Pink Pony. It's on one of those little side streets off Houston. I could find it again easily, but I couldn't tell you exactly where verbally. I had a vegetarian eggplant lasagne that was to die for and a really well done gazpacho. We polished off a bottle of wine in about 20 minutes. Entrees were in the $11-$15 dollar price range. The decor was a bit haphazard for my taste but the space itself, long and narrow with rooms separated by enormous heavy wooden doors. She's got good bones, as they say.

After dinner, I convinced The Hellcat and Hellkitten to go with me to The Slide as his friend Aaron was on the turntables and I had yet to hear him. There were probably five or six men left over from The WYSIWYG event. Aaron was very sweet and I of course recognized Him and Bob and found out later who he was. Shots were poured (shades of college), drinks were made and spilled (OK that was me), stories were told and confessions were made. Charlie owned up that he was still polishing his piece (that sounds dirty) right through the intermission. I know, I know you want more dirt. It seems Aaron is celebrating a protracted birthday week if you will and in lieu of presents he was requesting you expose your little man to earn a free drink. A reasonable trade off if you ask me. Many bloggers agreed and there was periodic dickus floppus occurring. Eventually some found it so liberating that spontaneous dickus floppus occurred with just a request and no reward. Far be it for me to name names but I do wanna say, crisafer, "call me". Pretty soon I felt an embarrassing drunk coming on and this hard core core wasn't showing any signs of stopping so I said my goodbyes and weaved (jus' a l'il) up Second Ave. But not before I got this shot, one of my favorites of the night. Is this not a slick bunch a "dudes" or what?

Monday, June 21, 2004

Ring! In Which Yours Truly Phones It In..

Hi Pappa! ... It's Tom...I'm fine, just calling to wish you a happy Father's Day. I'm sorry it's so late but I had a very busy day... Well, I closed the bar and got home by a little after 5 am. Went to bed around 5:30 and inexplicably woke up again by 11:30.... No, I haven't been sleeping well lately, Dad. I don't know, I mean I sleep OK just not for very long. 5, 6 hours and then I'm awake again.... no, I don't take naps. Hey, remember when I would get all like narcoleptic when I was a kid when something would upset me? I would spend the afternoon cutting the lawn without being told and you would come home from work and point out all the mistakes? I was 12. Then you would yell at me for something and I would start to cry and then you would threaten to really give me something to cry about and then I would run up to my room and have some sort of a mini seizure and pass out for four or five hours? Remember?.... yeah, good times. Good times.

Anyway, so I got up even though my body didn't want to but my brain said go. Which was cool because we had made tentative brunch plans for today. I say tentative only because I was doubtful I'd be up in time, what with being drunk and all, but here I was, waiting for The Hellcat and his boyfriend (Hellkitten?) to get up. We were supposed to meet for brunch at 1 and it was after noon when they stirred. I found out later they had been fucking all morning so there's up, and then there's "up", eh Dad?(wink).I think they're all over each other because that's what they do, number one, and number two this is the first time The Hellcat has lived in such close proximity to The Hellkitten and I think they're enjoying being able to see each other virtually at will as they're now only separated by what amounts to a few blocks. Anyway, the Hellkitten headed for his place to change and we did the same....
What? Oh, I put on a jockstrap, jeans, Timberlands and a wife-beater. I tried to find a cockring from The Hellcat's toy chest but I didn't see one....No Dad, that's not normal brunch wear we were dressing for the day, I'll get to it be patient. But it was closer to 1:30 before we headed out to meet for brunch. Late again.

We had a table reserved at Lips and hopped in a cab and pulled up around 1:45... Yeah, they're in drag on Sunday afternoon.... No, it wasn't very busy. I guess a gay drag bar isn't the destination of choice when it comes to Father's Day...I know, weird huh? Anyway brunch was Me, The Hellcat and his kitten and The Hellcat's two friends from Cali. The Food was OK. I had the steak and eggs. A touchy dish because invariably of the two ingredients (steak, eggs) if one is bad well.... in this case it was the steak. Whatever they're using for steak mine was really really a tough cut of meat and way too hard to chew and swallow this early in the day. I was forced to wash it all down with two bloody marys. Drinking with breakfast is a lot of fun, Dad.

After brunch was eaten the afternoon drag show started. Or rather, I was dragged into the drag show. The incomparable Kenny Dash acting as brunch hostess pulled me up with her and proceeded to strip off my shirt, then my wife-beater. There I was, nipples to the wind in front of everyone.... what could I do, Dad? I started to take off my pants. Apparently I was selected to be the "man auction" that day. I wasn't hopeful and sure enough I think I went as high as 18 dollars and some coupons but what the hell, a date's a date. But there's a picture of me, shirtless, in the middle of a restaurant while a 250lb drag queen pulls a fistfull of my jockstrap out for everyone to see.... Dad? Are you crying?

After brunch played out our party minus one headed towards 28th St. and the new location for Folsom Street East. Ironic that it falls on Daddy's day, no? This was my first visit to what amounts to a leather block party and no, Dad, I'm not thinking of adding leather bottom to my list of identities but while the leather S/M thing doesn't turn me off, it just doesn't yank my crank so I hardly ever get much exposure to it. I even tried on a harness borrowed from The Hellcat before we left the apartment. I took one look in the mirror and laughed. It's so. Not. Me. It was my first trip to The Eagle as well. I've been too chicken-shit to go at night or alone. So good news, Dad, I've been to my first leather bar. Butt plugs all around!

Of course, I think due to my lack of sleep I forgot to bring my camera to document all this and I didn't have the desire to buy a disposable replacement so I have absolutely no pictures of any of it but I promise to tow the digicam around with me on my Gay Prideapalooza tour of NYC for the rest of the week. If it helps, you can check out this 20 page photo spread of pictures from Folsom Sreet 2002, that I found. Daddy, meet my new Daddy. The rest of the afternoon we walked in and around The Eagle. I decided I want to improve my own collection of "rubber friends" as I've been using the same two for a while now.... oh come on now, Dad! Don't make like you've never lubed up a 10 inch molded rubber cock and shoved it up your own ass before. We've matured past that by now.

But it did start getting late, and I started to think I ought to get up to The Wrinkle Room. My shift did start an hour and a half ago. I guess I figured I'd seen enough for one day shortly before I made my exit. We were standing near one of the bars where The Hellcat had purchased a couple of beers. The Hellkitten of course being all over him. It was with a mixture of amazement and amusement that I suddenly looked down to see that right there in the middle of the bar The Hellkitten had pulled The Hellcat's pants down and calmly started eating his ass. The Hellcat didn't react, I didn't react, the totally turned on patron next to them most certainly did. It was right then and there I had a thought about The Hellkitten, Dad. I thought, I like her, I really really like her.

Anyway, Dad. As you can see I was much too busy to call you until now. Well, that and the fact that I wasn't really sober enough to speak until now. I hope you had as much fun today in the suburbs outside Buffalo.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Gay Pride Week (Day One)

Today marks the official (because I say so) kick-off to Gay Pride week here in NYC. The latest fag rags are out and if you even tried to attend all the parties and events listed every day for the next week serious liver damage would surely be the result. My celebration actually began a day early (I'm ahead of the trend like that) as last night The Hellcat scored us some free ducats to an Off Broadway show. I had never even heard of the show, so I had doubts as to the quality of the production but decided to forge ahead, my attitude being if it made it to Off Broadway how bad could it be, and besides, an experienced New Yorker such as myself can convincingly "come down" with any number of maladies to escape from a dinner/party/event that has turned into a horrible bore. What? You think everybody suffers from sudden blinding migraines? Wise up sister. Migraine is a code word for your party sucks.

So the show in question is called Toxic Audio. I have to say, it was really entertaining. I thought at the outset that trying to mount a show basically about sound ( think STOMP for vocalists) was going to be a stretch but the show was as much a testament not just to sound but to manipulating sound to achieve a variety of sound effects. With that extra layering you did indeed get an hour and a half of variations on that theme. More than satisfying. Indeed my only criticisms after the show were in the set design, which I found too sparse. It was past low budget to no budget. Also the costumes. Nobody looked good in anything they wore. Ever. With the main black/grey/red outfits they were forced to repeatedly wear particularly unflattering. The only time anyone's clothes were any good were the few times the cute men in the cast took them off. And no, this wasn't a cute boys in their underpants type show. Still, some much appreciated, though harmless, skin was flashed.

Before the show, we met up with two of The Hellcat's Cali friends. One I had met briefly already the other I hadn't. The second guy I found out was a recent transplant from San Francisco who was here to start a job that has temporarily evaporated (for now he hopes). He had a gay Conan O'Brien quality to him with a healthy dose of self deprecating wit without seeming pathetic. I liked him OK. How could I not he made a slight pass at me. He asked for my phone number and as he was programming my name into his cell he said something like, (OK exactly like) "I should just put it under hottie ." Fortunately I was already flushed from the Cabernet, but *blush*. Come to find out later that that's the second of The Hellcat's friends to express an interest in my candy. The first being over the weekend and taken with a grain of salt as he was coming off an Ecstasy (among other drugs, I'm sure) fueled two-day, meaning he may have just been residually horned up and the fact that I had a cock and a pulse were enough to make me "seem hot".

The other great part of the night was that after an aborted attempt at dinner in a kosher steakhouse (I don't know) failed because none of the parties involved had the presence of mind to put two and two together and reason that a kosher steakhouse would most likely be closed on Saturday night (if you still don't get it find a Jew and ask, people in Minneapolis are out of luck. You have no Jews... Look it up), we opted instead to meet at The Blue Fin at the midtown W hotel. I've been looking for an excuse to check it out. It was swellegant. We couldn't get a table without a reservation but we were informed there was ample room at the upstairs bar with a full table menu available. There was and it was. Rounds of drinks were ordered, I opted for "a cabernet" guessing (correctly) that I would like whatever that meant as I'm not one of those whiney wine gays. Just make sure it's fresh, I say, and for god's sake a recently opened box, if you please. It wasn't nearly as expensive as I'd heard with all the entrees hovering in the $27 dollar range. Not by any means cheap but not outrageous either. The decor was standard to the W hotels, quite lovely with shades of tan and sandstone and bamboo repeated often throughout. The food, when it arrived was visually attractive if not portion-wise impressive but deliciously done with some well done accents that meant plates were eaten clean. I wish I could get more descriptive with the food but honestly, it's an area of skills that I'm sorely lacking. I'm quite adventurous with what I eat but I will often clean my plate without ever knowing or inquiring what a particular side dish was or how it's made. I'm very much a "Good food. Me eat." kind of diner. The details don't interest me that much. If you must know I opted for a seared tuna appetizer that fell very much into the good food eat category. The service was as attentive as I'd heard, and uncharacteristically, for upscale New York restaurants, genuinely nice. Tom sez...."Thumbs up, to The Blue Fin. Next time you're in New York, it's worth a visit."

After The Blue Fin the parties separated as The Hellcat's friends had already secured tickets to Hairspray for themselves. We all met later back at The Wrinkle Room. But not before a detour around ten city blocks to make way for a (laughably) late Sean Combs and a flying former Russian gymnast. I magnanimously gave away some of the owner's liquor, and every one called it a night around 1:30 or so. Leaving me to close. Alone again, naturally.

I'll be publishing this after the obligatory spell check. If this reads as disjointed as I suspect it does the reason is because even though this is a Saturday night wrap-up I'm actually composing it Sunday night after six hours sleep and a full schedule of events all day Sunday as well. Details forthcoming after a good night's sleep, a restorative trip to the NYSC and hopefully more good wine.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

OK! OK! I Heard You..

The Universe spoke to me. It fuckin threw up on me. The events of last week got me thinking about why I was so upset about it. Besides the obvious I mean. It provoked such an extreme reaction in me that I felt compelled to lash out. The question is, who am I really lashing out at, and why? After a day and a half of blind fury my rational side began to re-emerge. I reasoned that if my original intent was to protect the last vestiges of my privacy, and that was now torn from me as an option, than all of my actions to protect that option were rendered inert as well. I was now free to move about the internet unfettered by fear. And free to express my outrage as well. I found I enjoyed my liberty immensely. I realized that fate had opened a door for me. A challenge was made or at the very least implied. All that was left to me now was a decision as to whether to accept or decline.

Could I, once and for all, assume the public persona I had carefully created? Really and truly honest about my status in deed and in word? Is it time for tommyrico to fade into the background so that Tom may emerge into the sunlight? At this point does any of it even matter to anyone but me anyway? A year and a half of stories and breakdowns and truths and triumphs and still a total stranger walks away thinking I infected an 18 yr. old boy. (A now deleted comment.) Yes, of course consider the source, but when this falsehood gets repeated as fact and regurgitated ad infinitum to the point that it morphs into "I heard about this guy who..." am I doing more harm than good?

All I know for sure is I feel it's imperative to take back the name. Names have power if you let them and I obviously imbued my own name with a great deal of it. I resented letting that power be in another's hands and resolved to take it back. I considered re-naming this weblog a variation of my-full-name.com. A decision similar to Bradford's transition away from Young Bradford. But I truly love the title From The Ashes. It's been a running theme in my life long before I ever started this chronicle, indeed, even before I was diagnosed HIV+. The idea of re-birth from destruction, the act of emerging from the wreckage to live on and fight the good fight gives the story, the life, the struggle an epic feeling I've always responded to. From The Ashes, all is possible. So a name change was considered and rejected. It would be simple enough to just edit my profile attached to this and include my full name. It feels right, so I probably will. But it didn't feel like enough of a statement.

All last week, I obsessively searched the internet, launching searches and tracking down sitemeter links in an effort to gauge my exposure. Odd for an exhibitionist to even admit, but I rarely search for me (as he now knows). After all, I know where to find me. During one such search I stumbled over this:

http://gayety.net/rants/queer/what_price_a_reputation

Strange to get an ego stroke and the twinge of shame at the same time. To be proud to have even provoked the conversation coupled with the embarrassment at spending so much time last week trying to not acknowledge the very thing I claim to have no fear acknowledging. And yes, I see the issue is more complicated as you fold in fractured family issues and my own need to feel like I'm in control of every aspect of my life. But if you boil it down, at its core this was about fear, as fear is the prime motivation for almost every decision most of us make. And the overriding theme of this whole year for me has been to face my fears. As I read and re-read that page and Paul's response, a voice inside my head began to repeat itself over and over again, getting louder and louder until not listening was clearly not an option. "So, what are you gonna do about it, AIDS boy? What are you gonna do?" The doorway opened. Undaunted, and now truly unafraid, I stepped through.

My name is Tom Tricoli. I'm HIV positive. It's nice to finally be here. Call me Esther.

Reading between the lines, it appears I'm not the only one struggling with similar issues. I'm gonna miss her.

P. to the S.
I ran into Mr.-Big-shot-I got-mentioned-on-Fleshbot on the street yesterday. *whispers* He's kinda cute. But I lied to ya girl, I wasn't going for drinks. I was headed for some nasty sweaty monkey lovin'. Rarr.

Do bloggers get their period at the same time after a while?

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Unexpected Plot Twist Alert!

I'll just throw it right at ya, lest I be called a "plot twist" tease. At my invitation The Hellcat has moved in with me.... Someone just spit milk out his nose. Crazy? Perhaps. I'm trepidatious but not overly so. Shades of Al Coholic? Doubtful. There are many reasons why this could be mutually beneficial. First, obviously, is saving money. This arrangement will knock a couple of hundred dollars off both my share and The Ex's on the rent. A chance for me to put some extra away for a nefarious plot I have yet to discuss here as of now (It involves a Brazilian soccer team, some rope and 20 cases of Merlot, but that's all I'm sayin'). For The Hellcat, I believe that this will significantly lower his monthly expenses as well. Paying one-third the rent for my rent-stabilized castle high atop Second Ave. is still far and away cheaper than trying to go it alone in a two bedroom apt. even if it was in Jersey. As to what The Hellcat will be doing for work, that's undecided for sure yet. Let's just say that money is in the pipeline and we think we got it covered. Hate to be all mysterious but my new identity as a public figure (more on that later in the week as well) makes me freer on the one hand, but more cautious when it comes to other people's privacy on the other. Translation: I'll still post pictures of my own shaved white ass but I won't talk about other's without permission.

What else do I get out of it? A new playmate for one thing. I do like to go out but sadly, as with most things lately my version of go out and The Ex's has become wildly divergent. For example, last week I went out. I met The Hellcat in the village and we grabbed a quick, late workout at The Equinox on Greenwich. Nice gym, by the way. After that we headed across town via Bleeker and then W. 3rd. We were both hungry and finally settled on a really cute Mexican joint that should have been way busier than it was although I think a lot of people were inside where the a/c was better so it's hard to judge. We split a pitcher of sangria and ordered this tortilla taster for two that came with everything (counting at least nine items) on the side for a build your own tortilla extravaganza. It was wicked tasty. We talked, we swapped stories. We ogled the boys working the crepe stand across the street and made up porn dialogue for them whenever they started talking. Thoroughly bean-filled we window shopped back across town finally splitting up as The Hellcat bought a single rose to suprise/apologize to his boyfriend of late. By two days later they had broken up. Back together by the time The Hellcat moved in over the weekend. Anyway that, to me, is out. Or a movie or a play. Or an afternoon shopping. The Ex's version of out is defined by two things. Getting drunk and gogo boys. Neither one of those things am I at all opposed mind you. But he does it every weekend all the time even when he claims he doesn't feel like it. Two weeks ago he scored a rare double play as on the road to getting shit-faced, he apparently got too close to a local gogo 'ho who proceeded to lower his balls directly into The Ex's mouth!(The entire next afternoon was spent replaying that story to everyone on The Ex's phone tree.) Now that's mentertainment! Besides, he doesn't go out at all during the week. Out to dinner is apparently not an option because, and I'm paraphrasing, going out to eat without drinking is too expensive and what's the point? Ah, homosexuality, what have you done to us? That we can't (OK he can't) find the pleasure of a good meal can be the company and the food itself. Yes, Margarita Madness at Fat Ethyl's House of Fajitas (no, you may not steal that) is stoopid fun, but so is al dente pasta, garlic bread and a single glass of good wine. If you're with the right people, that is.

And I think The Hellcat will benefit from living in a home with a stable Mommy and Daddy. He's been bouncing from house to house and living with this person or that for a month or two ever since I've known him. I don't really blame him I just think you get on this track. And you constantly spend your time trying to get the bills paid and keep the lights on. And you start to catch up and then boom, you're out of work for two weeks 'cause your health is wonky. Now you're further in the hole and you're behind on the light bill. Do you keep the lights on or your cell phone paid up? Can't pick up extra work if you can't get calls. Now you party too much and you miss work again. Scratch another 150-$200 you really needed. It's pretty easy to be drowning in debt and bills right quick in this town. But The Ex and I are two of those "more mature gays" (at least when it comes to house and home) that Ryan was musing on the other day. The bills are paid, there's a roof over our heads and food on the table. Always. And truth to tell I'm way more ant to his grasshopper any day. He really doesn't have a pot to piss in as he spends it as fast as he makes it, while I do have a retirement account. There's not enough to retire on in it, but I got it. Baby steps, children. I think it will be good for The Hellcat to see that it's possible to be gay, well-dressed (me), fun (OK, me again) and able to hold down a job in NYC. So we (rather I) threw him a lifeline. I set some ground rules. No drugs in the house. I'm not Narc-Anon so whatever you do outside the house is cool but my castle is my refuge and I've already proven I will push you into the moat if you threaten my serenity. So drug-fueled drama stops at the front door. The Ex don't like tricks in the house so keep that to a minimum as well. And this is all on an experimental basis anyway with a September ending deadline. Or at the very least a re-evaluation where we can say no hard feelings and goodbye, or talk about making him a full fledged member of the family. My hope is that The Hellcat takes advantage of finally being in a situation where you don't have to worry about the bills being paid or the landlord threatening eviction or the rent money being taken but not paid and uses the next four months to get a decent bartending job and saving up some cash and enjoying a modicum of stability. And I'm the most stable crazy faggot I know. Having said all that, The Hellcat dropped off all his possessions on Sunday afternoon, he made me late for work, and I haven't seen or heard from him since.

Oh, and by the way. Now the HIV+ men outnumber the negs 2 to 1. Another bonus should voting need to take place.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

They Don't All Smell Like Roses...

Spending half your day on the web produces a plethora of free software, free tutorials on almost any subject, hours of enjoyment with the previously highlighted weblogs and sites listed below, as well as the occasional handjob. Unfortunately, you also run the risk of unearthing gems like this:

I'll blow you while you take a dump - 35

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reply to: anon-33637786@craigslist.org
Date: 2004-06-13, 2:27PM EDT


Sit on the toilet and I'll get down between your legs to watch and smell as you take a shit into the bowl. Then you can either jerk off or I'll go down on your cock and suck you off. Wipe up and go...no need for conversation. Me: bi hot guy, hairy and muscular. Neg, UB2

Remember people, if you're going to watch and smell someone take a shit and then immediately suck them off (all without conversation, no less!) for the love of god please, please be hiv-.

In a variation on a theme I'm a little concerned about the folks "behind" (pun intended) The Poop Report. Surely someone has dumped some "poop worthy" news since February 12.

Maybe this qualifies.

News flash!

Generalissimo Ronald Reagan is still dead. Yes folks, the latest news out of California is that despite an extensive North American tour, Ronald Reagan remains potential worm food. That has not stopped clever Republicans from finding a way to get some mileage from the soon to be putrified cadaver.

Also-

If you do a search on msn with keywords blood, suckin, vamps, porn I come up third. I'm not sayin, I'm just sayin....

however if you search Quick under "gay guys wrestling in underwear" I'm only fifth

and finally, if you search Google under "knuckle hair men shave" *drum roll* I'm #2!

Thank you! And Good Night!

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Yo, yo, yo Check it!

Contrary to how it appears I have been quite busy with many other things. I want to show you some cool new (to me) sites I've been enjoying lately. I guess technically they're weblogs, but in my opinion they've really transcended that term and its limitations. Or I just really like them. You'll find them permanently linked in the (aptly named, it seems) "Link" section below. They are all worth checking often.

You gotta love low culture. The concept and the site, as it turns out. It's snarky, funny, smart and outrageous. Can't imagine why I'm loving it. Go. Read. Laugh.

I have a similar reaction checking out glassdog. With the exception that it has more of a single voice to it (even though it's not) then low culture's collective but unified chorus. He recently mused about his design bordering on over the top but I think it's eye-catching (in a good way) and well done.

The Stranger.com is a great resource for "stuff". Great for news you might not see anywhere else and a link in columns to several other great sources. There's even a link to Dan Savage's Savage Love column (it's where I first learned of a fetish for furries), as well as links to news, arts, classifieds and more. I have to find those furry pictures I saved somewhere.

If music is your muse why the fuck don't you have the House of Diabolique bookmarked? Ms. Diabolique knows her music, miss girrrl and her site is FIERCE and this weekend I downloaded and burned a Juniour Vasquez set from 1995. I will be starting the night next Friday with it. This link I was reluctant to even give away. It's that good. You. Must. check yourself or wreck yourself. *Snap* and turn. Bitch!

I didn't forget to sex you up, either. I stumbled (literally, I have no idea now how I got there) onto this site. A porn site from Berlin known as CazzoFilm.com. Now this is what I wish more American porn was about. The Cazzo men are skinny, hairy, cut, uncut, young, older, black, white, pierced, inked and humpalicious! Their XXX gallery is a pay site but they are very generous with a very hot (G-rated, NOT) gallery. Here's an example of what they apparently consider not x-rated. Ich bin ein Berliner! (Shut it, if I spelled that wrong.)



Finally (almost), I want to direct you to a brand new site courtesy of an acquaintance of mine, Devon the Escort. I've been enjoying Devon's musings on art, literature and (lately) body fascism. I have to confess, this 'ho makes me feel downright stupid at times as his take on a variety of topics sometimes exhausts even me. He's birthed a new baby he's dubbed "harmless devon" that promises to cover a lot of that same ground but with more of a collective voice, which seems like a natural progression. Just out of the box he's promising content from Dan Savage, an openly HIV+ escort, thoughts and interviews on the state of gay marriage as well as an upcoming interview with my buddy geekslut. I can tell you for sure I'm heading out this week to find some of Dennis Cooper's work based solely on the Richard Goldstein feature Devon provided. He's currently debating the pros and cons of making this a pay site or not. My vote is decidedly "not".

Finally (I swear!) I would be remiss if I didn't provide a link to this new grassroots protest/boycott taking shape in response to the state of Viginia's ban on civil unions and, it seems, any contractual arrangements between same sex couples. Virginisisforhaters.org says it much better than I could and they offer ample opportunity for people from all across the country and all walks of life to comment on this issue. Personally, I truly believe that a protest linked to cash is pretty fucking effective. And no, the irony is not lost on me. You could spend hours, have a look...



So I'll be adding these links permanently at some point this weekend. In the meantime you can scroll down and see the five (six) links I picked as my favorite posts from the past. But for now, there's a street fair right outside my front door on 2nd Avenue, and while I don't need socks or sterling silver jewelry, a sausage and pepper sandwich sounds delightful, and hot corn on the cob may be an option as well. Plus, there's not a cloud in the sky so two words, shirtless latinos. I'm out.

Friday, June 11, 2004

A Little Perspective

Ed Note: I think this tells you what you need to know better than I could.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May 23, 2004
STAVING OFF STARVATION
When Real Food Isn't an Option
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.

ALL the mukhet bushes near the refugee camps in eastern Chad have been picked clean, the World Food Program warns in its latest appeal on behalf of more than 100,000 Sudanese who have fled fighting in their country and now face starvation. Mukhet berries are poisonous, and must be soaked for days to leach toxins out. After drying, they are ground up, but the flour has little nutritive value.

In Haiti's slums, round swirls of dough can be found baking in the sun. They look almost appetizing until you learn the ingredients: butter, salt, water and dirt.

In a world where the rich spend millions on ways to avoid carbohydrates and the United Nations declares obesity a global health threat, the cruel reality is that far more people struggle each day just to get enough calories.

In Malawi, children stand on the roadsides selling skewers of roasted mice.

In Mozambique, when grasshoppers eat the crops, people turn the tables and eat them, calling the fishy-tasting bugs "flying shrimp."

In Liberia during the 1989 civil war, every animal in the national zoo was devoured but a one-eyed lion. Dogs and cats disappeared from the streets of the capital.

But all that is, at least, fresh protein. During the siege of Kuito, Angola, in the early 1990's, Carlos Sicato, a World Food Program worker, described a man producing an old chair and promising his family, "If we don't die today, we can survive for four more." He soaked its leather for 15 hours to soften it and remove the tanning chemicals. Then, with boiling water, he made "lamb soup."

Anne-Sophie Fournier, director of the American branch of Action Against Hunger, said she had read that the victims of the Soviet famines of the 1930's ate furniture, too. The scene in "Gold Rush" in which Charlie Chaplin, trapped in a Yukon cabin, ate his shoe (actually made of licorice) was not entirely fanciful.

Starvation brings out what professional famine fighters call "coping mechanisms."

The simplest is such a truism that it seems absurd: When there is little food, people eat less.

Eritrean women strap flat stones to their stomachs to lessen the pangs. Mothers in many countries have been known to boil water with stones and tell the children that the food is almost ready, hoping they will fall asleep waiting.

Not eating is actually effective, famine experts say, at least for a short while. Farmers living on the edge know that if they can ration what's left and hold out a bit longer, the rains may come. Or United Nations trucks full of high-protein biscuits or corn-soya porridge might.

"We know from hunger strikes that in a controlled environment, people can live for 40 days without food," said Patrick Webb, chief of nutrition for the United Nations World Food Program. "But a famine situation is clearly not a controlled environment."

Since 1500, economic historians argue, no famine has been caused solely by a lack of food. Drought may wipe out the crop, but some political force always stops help from arriving: British indifference during the Irish potato famine, the Maoist crushing of peasant farmers in the Great Leap Forward, clan warfare closing Somali ports. No democracy with a free press - even including post-independence India - has ever suffered mass starvation. If North Koreans are occasionally eating each other, as has been rumored for years, it is because the government refuses to admit how desperate its citizens are, and to give aid agencies an unfettered right to find and feed them.

Food shortages often set off strange migrations. In World War II, European urbanites visited farm cousins hoping for food parcels, while in this age of United Nations aid, farmers may rush port cities at the rumor of a ship.

Until help can arrive, people cope as their ancestors did. Rural people may be much better at that than city dwellers, who may be quickly forced to eat rats or chop up the palm trees along urban boulevards seeking their edible hearts.

An informal survey of World Food Program experts produced many examples of resourcefulness.

Africans dig up anthills and termite mounds to sieve out the tiny grains the insects have gathered. Some seeds, however, provoke fatal allergic reactions.

Like Chad's mukhet bush, wild cassava in tropical regions and baucia Senegalensis in West Africa are poisonous, but can be made edible by pounding and soaking for days.

In Bangladesh, a type of lentil known to slowly destroy the nervous system is eaten when people are hungry enough.

Marula fruit is so tasty that elephants knock trees down to get at it, but in battered Zimbabwe, once the fruit is gone people may be reduced to eating the tough seeds by cracking them with rocks and fishing out tiny kernels with a pin.

Plants with very little nutritional value are eaten, like seaweed, tree bark and grass in North Korea or corn stalks in Africa.

Plants that are hard to harvest, like cactus (because of thorns) or water hyacinths (because of crocodiles), become worth the risk.

The skins and bones of dead animals that even vultures are finished with may be boiled for soup.

The danger of all these substitutes is that they can cause diarrhea, which can kill more quickly than starvation, or irritate the gut so much that it has a hard time digesting better food if it does arrive.

Under those circumstances, people can "lose more than they gain from eating," Mr. Webb said.

Even dirt-eating is a coping mechanism that shows its worth when times are tough. The medical name for dirt-eating is pica, and while it is considered a pathology among the well fed, among the poor it can add minerals to a diet that even in good times may only be corn or sorghum mush.

In Zambia, balls of edible clay are sold in street markets. In Angola, a dark dirt called "black salt" is sprinkled on cold food, but cannot be cooked because it loses its tang.

And the dirt biscuits of Haiti - called "argile," meaning clay, or "terre," meaning earth - are not exactly a final cri de coeur against starvation.

Like the mice in Malawi, they are a staple of the very poor, somewhere between a snack and a desperation measure. Making them has been a regular business for years. The clay is trucked in plastic sacks from Hinche, on the central plateau. Blended with margarine or butter, they are flavored with salt, pepper and bouillon cubes and spooned out by the thousands on cotton sheets in sunny courtyards that are kept swept as "bakeries." They cost about a penny apiece.

"They're not food, really," said David Gonzalez, a reporter at The Times who has visited Haiti many times. "People with hunger pangs eat them just to fill up their stomachs."


copyright 2004. The New York Times Company

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

One Never Knows, Does One?

Ed Note: Chances are, I'm poking a stick into a hornet's nest. But in reality, I've already been stung. This seems too important for worries about my comfort level to win out. I was so upset and angry when this happened I couldn't get the words out. Until now.

You know, I started this weblog right after I was diagnosed HIV+. Back then, I thought of it as a way for me to keep a record of my experiences and impressions. As a way to purge myself of fears. As a tether line to the truth at the core of myself in case I started to lose my way. That's still the case. I'm learning, growing, discovering my strengths and accepting my weaknesses every day.

As the months became a year, and then more, it became something else. As people from all over the country and then the world began to e-mail me: "You don't know me but...." it became so much more. I began to realize that while I certainly couldn't change the world completely, I could use my illness and this weblog to give people information they might not have. To reassure someone during those frightening first few weeks of a new diagnosis that it's going to get better. To show that while certainly, staying negative is better if not easier, becoming positive can spur you on to really crystallizing the salient point that you oughta get off your ass and make the life you have the best you know how to make it. And that's what I've been trying to do here. To make you laugh because life is fun. To touch your heart because life is tragic. To make you think because knowledge really is power. And to give you hope because in hope there are dreams and in dreams there are no limits.

But as with all public endeavors there is risk. And there are surprises. When you chose to live an open-book life it can have consequences insofar as who is doing the reading. It's the ultimate loss of control, an extraordinary leap for a (diagnosed by Neo) control freak like me. As limitless as a presence on the internet seems to be, inherent in that arrangement is the fact that (virtually) anyone has access to you.

And so it came to pass that I would one day cross paths with the Gay Deaf Militant Terrorist. Now mind you, before that happened, I didn't even know Gay Deaf Militants existed, so in that, if I must try to take some good from it (and I must), there was something new I learned. At first, I believed that this GDMT was an anomaly. A lunatic pocket off in some silent corner of the web seething alone. Not so. Further research has revealed a sub-strata of GDM's imagining secret "hearie" agendas that do not exist and subtext about our (supposed, although truly non-existent) relationship to the audibly challenged in our midst. But I misjudged how deeply his hate ran and how hurtful the form his rage could take. As I voluntarily set sail towards the lunatic fringe, I had no idea where this journey would take me.

At first the rantings directed at me were veiled. I was referred to in print as "this guy" or "someone called me...". As the GDMT's extreme anger festered inside him and he began to realize that my retaliating would be in print and he no longer feared for his physical safety, his attacks escalated in tone and severity. In retrospect, and based on my desire to understand where hatred is born, it seems that because I really had frightened him for a time, coupled with his deep-seated resentment for "hearie" people, that getting revenge by somehow finding a way to hurt me became paramount in his twisted view. Should I have suspected this was going to take an ominous turn? As references to me began turning up again and again for days and then weeks? Yes. The obsessive fixation is there to see. I just didn't.

I believed at one point, that my tactic of not responding to any of this was working. I would have to suffer a few veiled references before it all faded away like the ephemera it should by all rights have been. That is, until anonymous hate messages found their way to me. At first, it amused me more than bothered me. They were so out of touch, both in syntax and sentiment, that I simply filed them under "anonymous lunatic", preparing to laugh at them, laugh it off, and move on. Believe me, when I decided to devote a real life, real truth, warts and all weblog covering New York City, gay men, sex, growing up and HIV I figured I would have to deal with my share of psychotics and bigots. It was only through a modicum of digging and my own natural curiosity that it was revealed to me that the "anonymous lunatic" was, in reality the GDMT.

This was a surprising new tactic and it made me furious. How long was I going to have to suffer the attention of this fool before he realized that, contrary to the self aggrandizing scenario he had concocted for the situation, I wanted nothing more to do with him? Unfortunately, I accomplished the opposite by posting an elaborate attack (with pictures), detailing the hateful wishes that he's hoping for my death (not anytime soon, by the way), and all the things I won't rehash because it's boring even me. Was it childish of me? Foolhardy? Apparently it was childish. The proof of that for me is that the GDMT retaliated with an almost identical post. Only he decided to kick it up a notch. Apparently, and I believe it to be through one of my e-mails, he managed to get my first and last name. Which he was now using repeatedly in every reference to me. I am not, by nature a paranoid person. That's why my full name comes on many of my e-mail accounts. I believe that if you feel you have to write a letter, or contact a company about their services, or respond in print to something that upsets you, you should have the courage of your convictions (grow a set) and use your name. What truly upset me at first was that I had no desire to have my name in any way, shape or form be associated with the content on those "pages." And believe me, it had less to do with what was said about me so far as it is that I detest most of his views on life, I don't like his politics, I don't like his social dealings, I don't find his experiences interesting, I don't care what's going on with his job, I don't know, or care to, what the fucking difference is in ASL or DSL or ASPCA. I. don't. care. But now here I was, by name in print splashed across all of it. Of course, the rant by the GDMT went on and on attributing the whole problem to my being a "stupid hearie" and I was ugly to boot. References were made to my decision to face my anxiety problem. Any and all supposed "flaws" were now being made fun of or derided. A classic tactic by someone in crisis and consumed by self-loathing is a need to denigrate others and their "problems" in the (futile) hope that this will elevate themselves somehow. Ridiculing me for helping myself to heal reveals much about the source.

But I had now cemented the fixation. I was now being referred to in a reaction to his choice of lunch. As if I care. I was reference-linked to his invitation to a graduation. More "criticism" directed at me, as a weblog primarily about living with HIV is....wait for it.."65% about HIV"! As if I am writing to interest or speak to the GDMT in any way shape or form. Other objects of the GDMT's scorn were invited to "suck Tom's diseased dick." In that, I must say there's some truth. I am in fact contagious. Unlike those medicated HIV childrens, I'm not sick enough yet for medication. I don't get to squawk that my viral load is undetectable. It's all too detectable, I'm a walking bug factory, muthafucka! So diseased, check. Point taken. That's of course when he wasn't e-mailing me directly claiming I was suffering from "crix body" or "facial wasting". It was then I saw the path we were heading down, too late to stop it.

And on May 22, it finally happened. Among much more of the same insane drivel he posted this:


(My first and last name)
is at it again. Our emails has been bouncing off each other like a dodgeball. He always threw such hateful comments about deafness, appearances, intelligence and so on. I threw it back with his flaws. He has flaws such as too old, too ugly, too bitter, consummated with HIV thing, et al.

You know the rules, what you sow, you reap. He has been vicious so I had to defend who I am by throwing it back onto him. It is silly since he is much older than I am. Yet, he is still a bitter queen. Maybe that is why he has the virus to shake himself up and wake up.


Aside from the obvious, it's telling that I allegedly referenced his deafness along with the other things. I categorically admit I called him stupid and fat. I would never, ever make fun of a person's disabilities. My spirit doesn't permit an offense like that. So deeply is the GDMT lost in his own psychosis, he reads affronts to his deafness where they don't exist.

Most important, of course, is that this reprehensible creature has now told the world, and by extension potentially my family, that I am HIV+. Now, I haven't been exactly hiding this fact. I'm pretty sure everyone I work with knows this. I'm certain anyone from New York City that pays attention to what I write could easily discern what I do and where I work. And it has been a running theme throughout my writings that I'm urging people to not be ashamed of contracting HIV. To face the situation with dignity and determination. All my closest friends I've told. But the family, that's a whole 'nother ball of wax isn't it? If you've been with me for a while I do mention the family on occasion but not very frequently. We're not estranged by any means but we're really not that close. Not so close that I didn't consider telling them a personal medical diagnosis right away. At first, I was wisely counseled by Neo that I shouldn't disclose this to my family. He had waited over a year and was glad of it. I see now he was absolutely right. It's the type of thing you yourself need to take the time to get used to. You have to allow yourself your own process. To incorporate what it means to be HIV+ into your life and lifestyle. There's a learning curve. And it's certainly no time to have the added burden of trying to comfort a (potentially) hysterical family. Let alone running the possible risk of an out and out rejection. These things do happen, they are real.

And so I waited. But it has been a subject I have re-visited many times in my mind. I believe I could tell them now. I think I know the right words. But I've been in no particular hurry. While I'm ill, I'm not sick. There's no urgency spurring me on. I definitely have no plans to let them know this information any other way but face to face. Sadly, now I may not get that chance. While my immediate family is woefully internet deficient, the same can't be said of cousins and peers in my rather large extended family. They can and do (as I do) casually waste an afternoon doing random searches. And so I can expect that one day, maybe soon, my family will be made aware that I am HIV+. Regrettably, they will learn it in an environment of hate. In a forum I find reprehensible. Attached inexorably to a "man" who's every "thought" makes me want to wretch. For this, above all else, I apologize. I'm sorry I misjudged how deeply the wellspring of his anger and resentment runs. I'm sorry I didn't see that an individual who can gleefully celebrate your illness and possible death is capable of limitless psychotic fixation. I pray that this person will one day seek help for the self-loathing he has masked with complete narcissism. But I'm not hopeful.

So why am I telling you all this? What do I hope to accomplish? Well we're pretty much right where this posting started. If I accomplish anything at all with this weblog it will be a source of information for others to come. I want to prepare you. While for the most part my friends and co-workers have been great sources of comfort and pride for me, while I have surprised even myself with my ability to hold fast to my core beliefs of spirituality and strength, there are those within and without our world that may take your HIV status and attempt to use it as a weapon. They will call you diseased. They will attempt to embarrass you publicly as if my illness will somehow mask you being bereft of spirit. As if my "flaws" somehow elevate you to a more advantageous position. When all they really show you to be is scared. And sad. And soulless. Things that I will happily never be. And while I don't believe in "prayer" as others define it, I will work to understand and accept that while a great evil was done to me, the source of that evil is suffering horribly too. And The Universe will take care of the rest in due time. This I know and believe with all my heart. And now, my true beloveds, so will you.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Update:

The Hellcat called in around 3am as I was closing up. It was a shockingly horrific cell phone connection where we were only able to confirm who we were and communication would not be possible with this connection, but even getting every third word I managed to hear the words "I'm OK." which is all I really wanted to hear.

Coincidentally, I heard from the other half of the original Hellcats today. He left our employ after securing a teaching position at a major East Coast conservatory. For now, he's spending the summer slingin' hootch in Provincetown. Interestingly, he's considering tabling the hallowed halls of education for a roll of the dice in Lost Wages. And why does this information not suprise me one bit? Damn these premonitions!

Update: Part Deux

It's Tuesday, June 8 2:36am

I bought the cutest little plant stem faux metal candleholder. I attached a glass shade with a metal insert that holds the candle. As the candle burns down the shade ... slowly... lowers. It's in my open bedroom window and it's quite beautiful. The traffic on Second Avenue is sporadic and largely quiet. Note to self: The cost of peace and tranquility is $7.00. (Candle not included)

I had a long conversation with The Hellcat today. Drugs may have been consumed this weekend but it wasn't the headfirst jump into a vat of crystal I had feared. Rather it was a case of Jabba The Drunk causing needless drama and The Hellcat finally deciding that enough was enough and on the ferry ride over from Jersey he had a moment of clarity and decided to voluntarily step off the hamster wheel. He did in fact leave me a message at the time (I didn't get it), and I did in fact leave him a message on Saturday that he didn't get. So apparently cell phone service between here and Hawaii (not important) works fine but between New York City and Fire Island, NY (where he went to decompress), not so much. In any event, while I hope that the story of my friendship with The Hellcat will continue, his tenure as an employee is well and truly done. Most importantly he's safe and sound and he will live to tie up and piss on a hairless bottom boy another day. And there was much celebration throughout the land.....

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Much To Say On Many Things

Did you cut your hair?

Obviously, We've had a bit of a site revamp. First, if you're on a decent screen and you're wondering why the background color looks slightly different that's called "oatmeal". Looks like a light, light brown to me but I must admit, oatmeal is much more gay. The links/archives have been centered and spruced up a bit. Purely an affectation and cosmetic but hey, I like it. Finally, and this was a bitch to pull off, I've added what amounts to a cast of characters. That single initial business made for kind of a dull and certainly cornfusing read. I left people with initials if they were incidental to the story but all recurring or significant (read: pain in my ass) characters have been given appropriate (sometimes un-imaginative) nicknames. Further, I decided to take advantage finally of the perma-links in this chronicle and I managed to back-link said characters to their last appearance dating through back to their first. If you're bored and want to browse backwards there you go. The only thing I want to do yet is add an animated .gif of some sort to the title page, and I want to add a title page link to my five favorite postings. I just need to decide what they are.
__________________________________________________

Took him long enough.

We can pretty confidently be sure he spent the last 5 years or so in a diaper wallowing in his own poop. All I know is I had to turn off the TV from 4pm on. Even dead he makes me angry. Thousands if not tens of thousands of good people are dead and he bears a lot of the responsibility. Never say karma ain't a fuckin bitch. I'm not alone it seems:

bj's gay porno-crazed ramblings
useless! worthless! insipid!
Gay Porn Blog
james wagner.com
buggery.org
The Search for Love in Manhattan
The Biologic Show
bj's gay porno-crazed ... (part 2)
Dear Steven by Matt Foreman
KitchenBeard
Ben Tripp via counterpunch
Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 Goodbye and Good Riddance -courtesy of Buggery.org
Dogpoet
Joe.My.God
:::JOCKHOMO:::
The Truth About Reagan and AIDS via Dogpoet
TRL The Rob Log
And Finally: (I think) also via Gay Porn Blog (comments):

I was born during Reagan’s second term and have no recollection of him as President other that what I have read in books, one of which is the Shilts book, And the Band Played On. I do feel, however, that the availability of Eastern European porn is of little consequence if we are to consider it in terms of lives lost to AIDS while Mr. Reagan was dabbling in Eastern European politics. For those who would say we need to give him credit for the freedoms he brought to that same area of the world, I would reply that to be so desperately enthralled with fighting for freedoms outside our country while ignoring basic rights and freedoms of citizens at home is no exchange at all. It might be different if he consequently refocused his priorities at home, but we all know that never happened. How sad it is that there are so many politicians in Washington, but much, much fewer statesmen, and even fewer humanitarians.

I may only be 18, but I know there will come a time when I will force myself to come out to the world. When that time comes I hope I can remember to honor the memories of those who have given so much that today’s tribe could have the rights we presently have, and that today’s fanatics wish to take away from us. Sometimes it’s all I can do to react rationally when I’d prefer to react “Monettishly”, to those who should know better, and tell them to go fuck themselves. So much for youthful optimism.

Ironic that one of those diseases for which his administration chose to ignore research funding started (or as some believe, continued) his downward spiral, isn’t it?

_________________________________________________


E.T. phone home!


The Hellcat
got fired. There was no way for me to prevent it. He didn't show up for or call out of his shift on Thursday. It was Jabba The Drunk's shift so he was doubly screwed as Jabba has been waiting for a good enough reason to can her ass. And this was it. Had I even tried Jabba would have thought I was nuts or me and The Hellcat really were fucking. We think he called in on Thursday shortly after 6 but hung up. He called my house at roughly the same time but failed to leave a message. I've gone from being sad to annoyed ( I had just talked to him about learning to keep his out-of-work drama from spilling over and affecting his job.) to now I'm worried. I haven't heard from him and I called yesterday just to see if he was all right. I'm guessing it was a drug binge that either hasn't run it's course or he's still coming down or he's just embarrassed at having fucked up. Either way I wish he'd call.

Friday, June 04, 2004

I Want To Ride My Bicycle, I Want To Ride My Bike...

Sometime in March I think my brother and his wife breezed into town for the weekend. It's the third time in three years and it always puzzles me. They aren't interested in the theater. I don't believe they go to the movies. They don't particularly like nightclubs, although I did get them down to the legendary CBGB's on their next to last visit. They love the Yankees so there's always an obligatory game at the stadium. They always stay in the same hotel. Almost everyone in my family can be described as a creature of habit. We seem to find comfort in the repetition. I fight against it much much harder, but guilty as charged as well. Anyway we hung out in restaurants with my cousin and his wife and wandered around the city aimlessly. A habit I highly recommend you get into as some of my best days have been spent leaving the apartment with no idea where you're going beyond "out".

In any case, toward the end of their visit we stopped for a bite to eat in a small but really good restaurant near my apartment. Before dinner was ordered they handed me a card. Being right after my birthday I figured that was it and thanked them.

"Open it."

"Oh, OK."

I wasn't expecting anything as traditionally we only exchange Christmas gifts. I opened the card and inside was a gift certificate for the bike shop down on 14st.

"To replace the one that was stolen."

"Holy Shit! Thanks!"

Now, truth to tell, this gift certificate was for $140.00. I know that bike shop I've been in it many times and you are not getting a bike for $140.00 from there. But it would give you a good start on a $240.00 bike and if I only had to spend $100 or so on a new bike, that would be a plus. Besides I don't know which idea came first, the visit or deciding to try and replace my pilfered peddler or coming all the way down to 14st to a bike shop near my house, but regardless I was a little stunned and truly touched by the effort.

Flash forward to this week, and poor bike-less me. Shortly after that day in March I visited the bike shop and indeed the going rate for a decent bike coming out of that shop was around $250.00. Add in accessories, a padded seat (I'm delicate like that), a good lock, a basket with daisies (for groceries!), and it looks like I'll need to spend a good $175 or more to replace my other bike. And I have to say, I've thought about that bike every few weeks since then. But something always came up money-wise that took precedent. Such is the level of my Jenga Finances that pulling the wrong block at the wrong time makes the whole tower come crashing down.

But good sense be damned the weather report for this week was looking OK and Memorial Day signaled summer and summer signaled bike rides through Central Park and lo and behold I send the Con Ed bill to the phone company and the Verizon bill (those fuckers) to Con Ed. The rent can be late, and eanie-meani-chili-beanie! I gots me a new bike!

And she's silver and blue and shiny and I named her Bertha after my grandmother 'cause she was silver and blue and shiny and one mean old bitch. And the only thing I have to say to the cursed individual that stole my bike last year this does not lift the pox I laid down in a jihad against you and your loved ones and if you're thinking of coming to snatch this bike. Don't.


Ain't she purdy?



Thursday, June 03, 2004

Is Resistance Futile?

Must ... not ... acronym ... name!

In other news...

From the Dept. of Putting My Gay Money Where My Mouth Is, In part as a sound business decision and in part in support of the new Gay & Lesbian TV Channel, I just bought 25 shares of Viacom stock. Did I just flush $950.00 in an investment colored in emotion? Only time will tell ...

What is it about that show While You Were Out that I love so much? Hmm ... I can't seem to ...

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Is It Just Me?

Or was the newspaper coverage about this woman taking a slug on a crowded subway train completely overblown? My god, The Daily News had it covered on the front page and four full pages inside. She got shot. She's gonna live. Why don't they just go for it and state the obvious. Maybe a headline more like this:

White Woman Under 30 Shot!

I mean, seriously, what other reason could there be to go on for four pages about this "mactress". She had an under 5 on Law & Order: Criminal Intent? B.F.D. the way they eat up extras for that franchise it's practically required of citizenship. A web-based soap opera? Don't get me started. Perhaps it was her stint in that bit of hilarity everyone's buzzing about, "Fashion" up in White Plains. What's that? No, I don't know where White Plains is either...

Former college director is quoted "She walks into a room and you go, 'My God, it's Julia Roberts,' but in addition to that, she really has a lot of talent." W.T.F.? Does Julia know you called her a hack?

The only remarkable newsworthy coverage in all of this drivel came at the end. Who knew Judge Hatchett was still on the air?

Oh yeah, by the way the suspect we're looking for appears to be "a scruffy blond man with gray pants and a tan jacket". Good luck with that.