Tuesday, August 31, 2004

CNN refuses to air gay Republicans political ad saying images are "too controversial". See the ad.

Public health message about crystal meth use.

NYC HIV rates reportedly not climbing.

Counting Crows: Accidentally in Love. This boy be cuuuute! Watch the video.

Chris Harbinson is not gay. He's an asshole. But soooo not gay. If he were he'd be a bottom.

NYC police arrest nearly 1,000 protesters.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

God Save Those Queens...

Press Association
Wednesday July 28, 2004 8:53 AM

The UK's "hidden" HIV crisis and the need to tackle it is being highlighted by England's Chief Medical Officer.

Sir Liam Donaldson's annual report on the state of public health outlines the need for earlier detection of HIV, pointing out that a third of those infected are unaware of their condition.

The report shows that, worst of all, people who are eventually diagnosed as HIV positive have had their disease for an average of six years, giving them plenty of time to pass it on.

The report, which deals with a number of other key public health issues, says that more needs to be done to ensure that people who are infected with HIV are detected at an earlier stage so that they do not go on to infect other people.

It is estimated that 50,000 people in Britain are living with HIV.

The report follows figures from the Health Protection Agency which revealed that rates of sexually transmitted infections continued to rise last year - up by 4% in 2003.

But since 1995 the rate has increased by 57% - from 449,666 to 708,083 cases.

Sexual health campaigners blamed rising rates on increasingly risky sexual behaviour, especially among young people and gay men, and long waits for treatment at genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics.

Sir Liam's report offers a "new perspective" on five subject areas, analysing the effectiveness of current treatments and services.

It also describes Government action in these areas and identifies the action necessary to bring about improvement.

© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2004, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 27, 2004


HX magazine has profiled a new comic book set to debut Sept 4th titled Delete. It will also feature an assortment of other heroes known as The Omen. The Omen are a group of HIV+ heroes that develop superpowers "thanks to a supernaturally touched experimental HIV antidote". The Omen will headline a spin-off series in December. I have officially begun collecting comics again, and I'm going to try to snag a more in depth interview with Robert Walker.

ABCNews is reporting the average length of a man's cock is 5.877 inches, revised from the previous Kinsey Report of 6.2 - 6.4 inches. Either way, I'm hung.

Not The Best Buy? A boycott in the making for Circuit City? -via The Ex (thanks, fucker.)

14 st. Last week. Late afternoon. Heading West. Man approaches heading East. He's crazy. Not as in talk to yourself crazy, I mean Frosted Flakes killer crazy. Man is so crazy that I feel a wave of crazy burrow into my brain and explode. It hurt! I actually reared back and grabbed my temple. That was some good-ass crazy he was spittin'.

Wall Street Sauna shuttered
. Never been. We have a Sanitary Code? The place has been open for like, 100 years. There's more to this story. Someone must want the space for something.

Fascinating backstage story regarding The Gayvernator and the day he decided to admit he was a dick smoker.

Yo, Cindy! I got yo' back, girl. Have I mentioned how much I hate PETA?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Incident Report:

At approximately 11 pm on a Sunday I was informed that a customer had been mugged in front of the building and he was injured. I immediately proceeded to the front bar where I observed R--- helping to steady the man assisted by G---. I heard them say that they were going to lead him downstairs where the light was better and he could sit. I returned to the office and got the first aid kit and some clean rags. When I returned to the downstairs outside coat check I observed that he was conscious but bloody/bleeding. I began to gently question him as to what happened, as I began cleaning up the blood in an effort to assess his injuries. (Ed. Note: At this time someone told me to "be careful, he's bleeding". *snicker*)

According to the customer, he had exited the building and was followed out by another patron. As he was walking down the sidewalk our customer had his money out and was counting it. The second patron made a grab for the money and a struggle ensued. Our customer tried to prevent the second patron from taking his money and, in his own words "threw himself away" and consequently, to the ground. The second patron was not deterred and after observing that our customer was injured, stole his money and ran away.

By this time I had determined that our customer had a couple of minor lacerations to his hands and a deep gash directly under his chin. After cleaning him up as best I could I then brought him into the closed downstairs bar so I could bandage him further. I offered on several occasions to call the police or the paramedics. Both offers were repeatedly refused. At this time our customer observed his injuries in the mirror. I urged him to see a doctor or go to the emergency room as it seemed that the cut under his chin would require several stitches. I bandaged him up repeatedly as it was still bleeding and finally managed to close the wound with a butterfly bandage. (Ed. Note: My first butterfly bandage job!) At this time I observed that he might want to remove his shirt and tie as both were covered in blood. He took them off to be thrown away.

After letting our customer relax with a cigarette and a glass of water I inquired as to where he had to go and if he had any money. He informed me he needed to take a train and he was totally robbed of money. I gave him the 10 dollars he said his train ticket would cost. I repeatedly expressed how sorry I was that this had happened and I urged him again to seek professional medical attention as soon as possible. When our customer seemed reasonably well bandaged he expressed he was ready to leave, and thanked me for the kind treatment and attention. He left on his own power, conscious and seemingly steady.


It's just after 2 am. There are various thuds and thumps coming from The Hellcat's room where he's holed up with "a friend from New Jersey". I'm assuming some sex is involved and for that, I say you go, sistah. I fear, however that drugs may be involved and if that proves to be the case I'm going to be pretty fuckin pissed to say the least. I said up front that I didn't want drugs in the house, not out of some prudish "Just Say No" hypocrisy, but because doing drugs in the house attracts people who do drugs, which results in the aftermath of being in a house where people do drugs. By that I mean theft, and things being broken, and people without boundaries. As it is, I've taken to hiding my cash when I go to bed at night. Not in the least because I'm afraid The Hellcat would take it, but when I don't know the people he considers "friends" and so far, it seems most of his friends have one thing in common: drugs. (It was only after finishing the first draft of this did I come to find out that his "friend" opened and closed The Ex's door at 7 am this morning.) Was he confused in an unfamiliar apartment? Or seeing what he could help himself to? Or so high he was just stupid? I feel ... uneasy.

As to my general living experience with The Hellcat, it's going OK. As a person, I like him tremendously. When sober he is funny and thoughtful and we share a lot of the same interests. But someone once told me that when somebody falls into addiction, they freeze at whatever age the addiction first takes hold. If that's the case, I would have to say The Hellcat's difficulties started around mid-twenties, since that's the age he seems to become when high. Exposing the people you live with to your wayward tweaked-out trick du jour is very faggot-in-your-20's.

My frustration is growing however regarding the arrangements for his housing. I thought it was all sorted but, as I've seen from others in the past, when you're dealing with New York City and the Social Services network, they will find a way to fuck it up and fuck with you. So it's not that surprising that what we had believed to be settled turned out not to be. The thing is, the only way this is going to be fixed is for The Hellcat to take care of it. During the day. When the offices are open. Getting out of bed at 3:30 in the afternoon (it was 5 today) isn't gonna cut it. It's not good enough. And as an aside, he's indirectly playing fast and loose with my home. The Ex is fully expecting to begin paying 1/3 of everything. I absolutely cannot afford to cover 2/3. So backed up against a wall, the only logical choice for me is to put things back the way they were before. Pre-Hellcat. As it stands right now, I'm a month behind in rent. That makes me extremely uncomfortable. If the prospect of falling behind another month begins to loom, I'll be forced to take corrective measures.

The frustrating part is that aside from Social Services, The Hellcat has many avenues to some substantial cash. They all involve the same thing. A couple of weeks of sustained work. But it's seeming more and more that anything that derails sitting on your ass and doing nothing and fucking and doing meth and the accompanying paranoid delusions and the two day recovery period are just not a priority. And I fear that by arranging for his housing to be provided I may have indirectly enabled the whole thing. I had hoped, I had believed, that he wanted to get better. I have seen no evidence that this is true. Curiously, I'm not sure what is causing which. Is the drug addiction rendering him unable to focus on one thing for an extended period? Is the obvious depression rendering him unable to see that the drug addiction is the source of all his problems? He has access to all the free counseling and therapy available and the time to do it. Is his refusal to avail himself of it further evidence that he doesn't want to get better and end this nonsense? How do you show someone they're in trouble if they don't seem to want to know? How much of this is brain damage? And how much is permanent?

The Hellcat is scheduled to leave for a trip to California on the 7th of next month. I'm going to at least need his housing situation sorted out by then or I'm afraid it's time for me to kick another addicted, broke, HIV+ gay man out onto the street. I love my life.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

No Condoms Please, We're American
by Gus Cairns -via Planetout.com

Young people in America have a low level of knowledge about STDs, a survey has found. It also found that fewer use condoms for anal sex than vaginal sex.

Meanwhile, George Bush's Presidential Council on AIDS has heard an impassioned plea that if it adopts abstinence and monogamy as the main thrust of its HIV-prevention strategy, it must include gay men in it and welcome gay marriage.

The survey by the American Social Health Association was aimed at assessing sexual attitudes, behaviors and knowledge among U.S. citizens between the ages of 18 and 35. In a climate currently hostile to federally funded sexual research, the survey was funded by pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline.

The survey looked at a "snapshot" of the sex lives of 1,155 adults between March 3 and 8. It found that there was a big difference between "precautions people claim to take and their actual behavior."

Nineteen out of 20 participants said they believed their current partners did not have an STD, and 63 percent considered themselves "well informed" about them, despite the fact that 28 percent were unaware that some STDs could be asymptomatic. Nearly 85 percent of the sample said they took "necessary" steps to protect themselves against STDs, but a third had never discussed the subject with their partner.

But the most startling finding was that only just over half (53 percent) of young Americans use condoms or any other form of protection during vaginal sex, and only a third (36 percent) use condoms during anal sex when they have it. Two weeks ago -- see "Research into microbicides" -- the Microbicides conference heard that between 25 and 50 percent of young U.S. heterosexuals have unprotected anal sex.

Although most participants had heard of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia, only just over half knew hepatitis B was primarily transmitted sexually.

In the meantime, spurred on by an article in the British Medical Journal that says reducing one's number of sexual partners is the key to HIV reduction (see "Fewer sexual partners should be focus of HIV fight"), the U.S. Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS (PACHA) has urged U.S. Health Secretary Tommy Thompson to assess whether the "ABC" campaign used in Africa -- Abstain, B faithful, Condom -- should be adopted by the U.S.

One presenter to the Council, Dr. Mark Thrun, head of the HIV prevention office in Denver, said that 62 percent of AIDS cases in male youth were among gay men, but that HIV prevention efforts in schools and churches "completely ignore" this group.

He "startled" some council members when he said that laws against same-sex marriage would exclude gay men from the possibility of exactly the kind of stable, monogamous relationships the president wanted to promote.

Reported in Positive Nation, April 2004

Monday, August 23, 2004

Many Thanks To All

At some point overnight my little corner of the blogsphere recorded it's 20,000th hit. I'm surprised and pleased. I hope I've entertained and informed. Mostly I hope I made somebody smile once in a while. I have much more to say and do and show so stick with me, kids. Onward and upward!

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Day Off Today....

Woke up at the crack of noon. (The only crack I've seen lately.) The Hellcat was all up for a workout at the gym. I went, along with The Hellkitten. We did a stoopid chest routine and I'm already sore and it's the same day. Means by tomorrow night I'm gonna be in some serious pain. My poor titties.

Afterward we bought some fixins for a right proper Bloody Mary and had a smart cocktail and another "to-go" before changing shirts and heading out to Wigstock. They made it a part of this year's Howl Festival. The festival runs through the 24th so it's not too late to head down to the East Village and check out the artwork. I'll probably stop back on Tuesday. At any rate we arrived in time to see Graham Norton (who will go to the opening of a letter if liquor is involved), RuPaul (blonde again, I liked the black hair), local celebs Cashetta and Cazwell (who I love, buy his music!), as well as some Boy named George (looking decidedly not as fat) and some guy named Miss Guy. The Lady Bunny (thanks, Patrick) hosted the whole mess and despite the showers they managed to draw a decent crowd.

The Hellcat and kitten started fussin' and feudin' and I started to bolt for home. Not aggravated but also with no intention of standing around on the periphery while psychodrama ensued. The Hellcat rang me up on my cell and got me to wait, and while he and the kitten parted ways for the evening, we headed for another bloody at Lulu's. We made the scene for tapas at that bar on Seventh and A (not 7A, the other bar across the street) and then discussed a photography project and fetched a couple of coffees at some funky East Village coffee shop I'm not sure I could find again but I'd know it when I see it, ya know?

We finally wandered home whereupon Colby told me he needed to poo. So I took him out and he did. I was thinking about going to the Wigstock afterparty at Opaline but now that I'm home with my contac lenses out and in need of a shower I think I'll just do that, make myself a vodka/soda and leave a few snarky comments on some weblogs. Maybe someone will show up and take me out to poo.

Friday, August 20, 2004

On Vacation

My brother and his wife picked up me and my niece on the first full day back in Buffalo. The plan was to take us "to the river". A term that can evoke many possible events from forced baptism to Salem witch trials, neither one of which I'm interested in participating in. But in actuality it involves a trip to North Tonawanda (or NT as the locals call it) to a stretch of landscaped waterfront that consists of a couple of miles of (only two lanes) walking/biking/blading path with a stretch of parkland and a periodic boat dock or man-made rock outcropping. I've been before and they all come here regularly for 4th of July fireworks or to "throw rocks at ducks and chase seagulls". Not to worry as my niece has a shitty throwing arm (just like her Mother) and I'm sure should one of the seagulls take it upon itself to chase her back, she would scream and run like the wind.

Across the street from the parking lot (as with most suburban areas in the US you need to drive to walk) there's a food stand called Mississippi Mudds. They serve your usual assortment of picnic foods. Hot dogs, burgers, cheese fries and various ice cream sandwiches, cones and banana splits. I had already decided to take a vacation from a strict diet as well, knowing full well I would be spending a week in Carbohydrate Town. Fuck it, I decided to have some fun. The two foot long cheese dogs with chili, sauerkraut and bacon and the order of (real) onion rings and the medium pink lemonade? All mine. It was gooey and messy and I savored every bit of it. And while I couldn't quite finish it all I did make a respectable run at it, thank you very much. After that, a long waddle along the river seemed positively heart smart.

The weather was a constant topic of conversation the entire week as it seems that summer pretty much skipped Buffalo this year. I have to say for an August evening it was surprisingly cool and grey. According to everyone that's been the norm when not raining. As such, there was almost no activity on the water. No jetskis, no sailboats and most of all no speedboats. With Buffalo being on a lake and all the adjacent rivers and creeks, speedboats are as much an accessory as a second car. It was kind of sad and creepy but made for some great pictures. This (my brother and my niece.... and a duck) was one of my favorites from the entire week:

Thursday, August 19, 2004

In Defense Of Bathhouses

An effort to close Los Angeles’ bathhouses blames the clubs for all the unsafe sex, and that’s not fair or right.

By WAYNE BESEN - via New York Blade
Friday, July 23, 2004

NEW ATTEMPTS TO shut down or over-regulate Los Angeles’s bathhouses are highly discriminatory, encroach on personal freedom and will do little to slow the spread of HIV.

A recent study of L.A.’s bathhouses funded by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention shows that HIV infection rates among gay men who sought testing in bathhouses were double those of gay men tested elsewhere and seven times higher than HIV rates among the county’s general population.

Let’s be honest, bathhouses are not the healthiest environments. People who go and engage in risky behavior are either ignorant or crazy and are likely compromising their health for the pleasure of anonymous sex.

But there are a lot of other unhealthy behaviors in society that people engage in simply because they are pleasurable. Yet, no one is proposing over-regulation or an outright ban on these “vices”.

For example, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is regularly photographed smoking cancer-causing cigars. Hollywood produces movies with glamorous stars smoking cigarettes, even though the CDC estimates that 400,000 people die prematurely each year from smoking.

More than 60 percent of Americans aged 20 years and older are overweight, with illnesses linked to obesity killing approximately 280,000 people a year. Yet, fast food chains are on nearly every corner.

The World Almanac says auto accidents killed 44,000 motorists in 2002, yet nearly everyone has a car.

IF THE HEALTH department is closing down bathhouses without taking drastic measures to eliminate these other risky behaviors, it is only fair to conclude that the crackdown is based on discrimination.

This discrimination is not of the traditional anti-gay variety, and even many gay-friendly politicians and gay leaders find bathhouses objectionable.

Still, bathhouses make for an easy political target to attack because gay men enjoying anonymous sex is not a popular pastime, such as ordering an artery clogging Happy Meal at McDonalds for the kids.

Even mainstream gay activists are loath to defend the baths knowing that right wing groups will distort what they say and falsely claim that gay civil rights groups endorse sex clubs.

But if you allow that there is no fundamental right to go to bathhouses, you must also allow that there is no fundamental right to smoke at cigar bars or pig out at Burger King.

THOSE IN SUPPORT of closing the baths like to point out that San Francisco closed its bathhouses in 1984. There is a strong argument to be made that this might have been the right move in 1984 because AIDS was a relatively new disease and a temporary state of emergency had to be declared to improve awareness.

I liken what San Francisco did to recalls of beef when a Mad Cow Disease scare occurs.

But times have changed and such drastic action is no longer needed. What we need is more education in these places. Every bathhouse should be equipped with condoms and lubrication, as well as a person from the health department offering anonymous HIV testing.

One bathhouse in Chicago goes a step further and sometimes offers the services of a mental health worker who can talk to people and help them make healthy, smart choices.

Instead of taking the wise route, the L.A. Department of Health is proposing new rules that appear to be intended to drive bathhouses out of business. The proposed restrictions allow the health department to close a club if patrons have unprotected sex.

Though well intended, this rule is as absurd as shutting down General Motors because a driver of a GM vehicle gets a DUI. Individuals, not clubs, can only be responsible for personal behavior. This rule is unfair to bathhouse owners, arbitrary toward patrons and wholly unenforceable.

Another proposed rule would allow health inspectors to regularly visit unannounced during peak hours. But that’s like L.A. sending a monitor into Wendy’s to tell overweight patrons, “You sure look fat, would you consider not getting a shake with your fries?”

In an editorial urging the closing of the baths the L.A. Times admits that the Internet makes containing HIV a more difficult challenge. Closing the baths will only result in a redistribution of the disease, not a reduction, as bathhouse patrons take their risky behavior to parks and the Internet.

Is there anything more aggravating than putting together a carefully worded post, with pictures to boot, only to have some sort of "internal server error" reduce the whole thing to so much ephemera? I don't think there is....

Damn! Fuck! Fuck!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Want Some Bloodwork?

CD4: 448 (27%)
Viral load: 54,617


Cholesterol: 165
Triglycerides: 79
HDL: 84
LDL: 65
Glucose: 89

And a big fat NEG on the Hep C to boot.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled, healthy except for the death in our veins, weblog.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Home Sweet Home

Back from Buffalo, I couldn't post over the weekend as it appears the site was down. I'll be catching up with all of you during the day today. Tons of things happened on my vacation so I'll get to it soon. Also, I took a lot of pictures and as soon as I can photoshop them I'll start posting them. And I still haven't purged all the things I've bookmarked for you from two weeks ago. Not a complaint, just an observation.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Good lord!

My mother has the sloooooowest internet connection ever! I'll be spending the next few days figuring out what she has on here and trying to optimize her settings for some speed. I mean, I realize dial-up is quite a bit slower than DSL but I still have to use dial up when I'm at work and it's nowhere near this slow.

Meanwhile: Greetings from Buffalo! You know how when you've been suffering with a situtation or a condition and then one day you finally stumble on to the solution, while you're happy almost giddy with glee at the thought of not having to deal with a problem anymore, by the same token another part of you is chastising yourself as an idiot for not having found the answer sooner. Such is the case with me and my anxieties regarding flying. Right before leaving the house, in anticipation of a one hour commute to JFK, I took the combination anti-anxiety meds and headed bravely out the door. I hopped on the "L" to Brooklyn then switched to the "A" out to Howard Beach and then transferred to the new train to the plane for the last leg. May I say just for the record if you haven't had the pleasure of taking this new route to JFK it's da bomb, yo. You are protected from the weather the entire trip, no more standing outside on a freezing cold subway platform. The new trains are spacious and clean and if you remember to secure a $20 Metrocard before you get into the system, you never have to stop at a booth or speak to anyone the entire time. It's swipe/train/train/swipe/train/arrive at terminal. My trip took an hour and fifteen minutes. It was delightful. Somewhere around the end of the Howard Beach leg of my trip I felt my body start to go limp. From the inside. I yawned. I crossed my legs and read The Voice. No nerves, no anxiety. I arrived at the terminal with a half hour to spare. I had no luggage to check and went immediately to a print your own bording pass kiosk. 30 seconds later I was heading for the gate. I may not be the most experienced traveler but if there's one thing The Duchess is good at it's exploiting technology to jump the line. With a dismissive glance at the poor suckers in a very long line I was off to have my shoes x-rayed. I'm not even sure if it's a requirement anymore I just send my shoes down the belt on the off chance I'll be asked to and again, no time for that. I got them for 35% off at Filene's Basement if you must know.

Unfortunately, the rain that blew in had intensified into a full-fledged storm so upon arrival at the gate my flight was listed as delayed. Indeed judging by how packed the terminal was all the flights appeared delayed. Luckily I had my spankin' new cell phone with me and dutifully dialed the parents back home to let them know and then sent text messages to my friends that read something like this:

Flight's been delayed.
I love pills.

About an hour and a half later the storm let up and the sun was out and it was announced that the plane we needed was landing and would be serviced (lucky plane) and then we could mount it and get our ride (or something). So I called the family and gave them the news. Sure enough about a half hour later we began boarding the plane. While people were settling in the rain returned and the skies grew darker. The thunder started rumbling too. Which of course meant lightning.. another delay. Two hours later we haven't even left the gate. Funny, the medication didn't stop me from being annoyed but beyond that, I sat, I read, I fought off sleep. Then I did in fact doze a bit. Finally, my 5:15 flight started taxiing down the runway at around 8:40. I don't think we were actually in the air until around 9 pm. Our ETA in Buffalo had gone to after 10. A few minutes into the flight we hit some wicked turbulence before we crossed the Appalachians. I glanced up, turned the page of my magazine and went back to watching the Game Show Network. We landed around 10:05. No one was there to greet me. Turns out they had already been out to the airport once and couldn't get any information there as to whether or not the plane was even taking off so they went home and tried to get the information on-line. They found out we were in the air about 1/2 hour before we landed. So Mom and Dad and my niece showed up about five minutes after I exited the jetway. They looked good. My niece was slightly taller than I remember and Mom and Dad were slightly smaller. But only slightly. Which was good. It was late, so we decided to enjoy the fine cuisine at our local Denny's. My niece and I picked up right where we left off. We have a bond that doesn't seem affected by time or distance. Simply put, I get her. And she gets me. And in the years to come I vow to make sure we grow closer. She's going to be an extraordinary woman. We were talking at dinner and the subject of the money she gets from my late sister's social security payments came up. She told me she has upwards of $20K already in that account.

"I'm going to buy a really nice car."

"As if. You're going to be the first member of this family to graduate from college. Didn't you get the memo?"

She just smiled and stole another freedom fry. But we both knew I wasn't kidding.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I'm Out ... Sort Of

Art By Axel. Have a look. He's good. And dirty....

The White House. I don't know who's behind this but you can spend hours poking around this site. Hilarious.

Search and destroy. Interesting stuff.

Time to grab some breakfast and pack. Woke up much more grounded. I'll be in Buffalo by around 6:30. Did I mention I'm thinking of telling Ma and Pa about my HIV status? I don't know. I may punk out....

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Hi, I Can't Come To The Phone Right Now...

My first vacation in 3 years began this morning. Taking a vacation from my job has always been problematic as I am one of two people that do my job. We have one other person that can step in to babysit the business when necessary but he is used on an emergency basis or on a shift when nothing of any substance usually happens. So for the last three years it's been me, Jabba The Drunk and our ragtag bunch of outcasts, freaks and lunatics. My personal squad of mewling hunchbacks. And that's not even counting our customers.

I've taken off a few long weekends. I've managed to hit the beach on a day off on occasion. I even had the chance to visit the family. Strangely, as I note the date of that post being July of last year, I've been telling everyone that I haven't seen my parents in "a couple of years." I wonder why it feels much longer than it actually was? There was also a pre- From The Ashes winter visit, the highlight of which was a vicious winter storm that dumped eight feet! of snow on my ass, turning my three day jaunt home into a grueling, six day, cabin fever inducing prison sentence. That resulted in a ban on winter visits. Making the Holidays problematic.

But this is my first out and out scheduled vacation. Made possible only because we hired temporary help. This very odd German man that works in a restaurant down in Ft Lauderdale. My overlords have quite a few business interests down there and invited this man to spend what is normally the slow season in Florida up here. His main function was to learn to babysit the business for the summer so that Jabba and I could schedule vacations. Now if that sounds extraordinarily generous of the overlords that's because it is. I'm quite sure there is much more to the story of the deeply tanned, frequently glassy-eyed, German temporary migrant worker. For some reason I think it involves a leather hood and ball-gag. I'm just too, too tired to even try to discover what it is. This vacation couldn't have come at a better time because quite frankly, The Duchess is burnt crispy. I'm taking today to decompress. I woke up wound tighter than (insert stringed instrument metaphor as illustrative joke here, I can't think of one). I'm wrapping up some loose ends around the apartment, making sure the bills are paid and the house is tidy. Yes, I clean before I leave town, I know that's weird. But a tiny part of me deep down seems to say "If anything happens when you're traveling, at least they won't say your house was messy." So I dust. Besides, I like to come home to the clean.

Tomorrow I fly to Buffalo. I'm a little apprehensive. I had a series of panic attacks on a long weekend in Provincetown. One on an airplane to Provincetown and one before the return flight from Logan. I think there was one during the weekend. Small wonder I don't look on that trip and think "fun". Ever since then I've been a little skittish about flying. I have flown since without incident. I've developed a little routine that seems to work. No drinking the night before a flight. Tonight, I'll enjoy some alcohol-free bed rest. That right there usually elevates my mood. My flight isn't until 5 pm tomorrow so I won't be rushing to the airport or ramped up on coffee. Plus, this time I have my one-two anxiety med combo. So while nervous today, it should be fine. The flight is ridiculously short. You read a decent magazine and then prepare for landing. Besides, my desire to see my family and help my niece celebrate her birthday should, in fact, supersede my groundless fears.

I am counting on Buffalo being as sleepy and boring as it usually is for me. I just want to visit with family and fall asleep in the afternoon and go out for mind-bogglingly cheap and plentiful food. I plan on resting my poor liver for most of my trip as well. I return to New York Monday night, and then three more days off before work resumes. Posts should continue un-abated. Mom's got a dial-up connection. I may have time to pop something up tomorrow. Wish me good journey!

Monday, August 09, 2004

This Is Heartbreaking


South Africa 'Recycles' Graves for AIDS Victims


Published: July 29, 2004

DURBAN, South Africa, July 23 - At S Cemetery in Umlazi Township, Innocent Gasa's handiwork is everywhere: endless mounds of fresh red earth topped with headstones, unpainted wooden crosses, or, for the most miserable, bricks bearing a painted identifying number. Mr. Gasa has dug graves on this lumpy, unkempt, Halloween-spooky hilltop for two years now, five holes a week, 52 weeks a year, well over 500 holes in all.

Which may seem peculiar, seeing as S Cemetery exhausted its last space for new graves five years ago. City records sum up its status succinctly, even dismissively: "Full."

But in Durban, "full'' is a term of art. This city is being battered by an AIDS pandemic so sweeping that people are dying faster than the city can find space to bury them. And so gravediggers like Mr. Gasa are reopening existing graves - the city calls it "recycling'' - and interring fresh bones atop the old ones.

The job gives Mr. Gasa nightmares. "I think it is not a good thing, to take out the bones'' for reburial, he said during a break in his spadework. "But we have no choice."

Every time southern Africa's AIDS epidemic threatens to exhaust its store of superlatives, some new, sobering extreme rises to the fore. The latest is Durban, where 51 of the 53 municipal cemeteries are officially filled to capacity, and a surging death rate threatens to overwhelm the remaining two within a couple of years.

"Five years ago, we used to have about 120 funerals a weekend, but this number has now jumped to 600," Thembinkosi Ngcobo, who heads the municipal department of parks and cemeteries, said in an interview this week. "In order to cope with the current rate of mortality - we hope it is not going to increase - we will need to have 12.1 hectares every year of new gravesites."

That is nearly 30 acres. "That would obviously turn Durban and the whole country into one big graveyard if we continue," he said.

The statistics offer little encouragement. Roughly one in eight South Africans is H.I.V.-positive, and in Durban, South Africa's third-largest city with about 3.5 million people, a survey two years ago of women at pregnancy clinics found about 35 percent were infected with H.I.V.

The city held a conference on the cemetery problem this month and discovered that a host of other South African graveyards - in Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth - are also filling up at alarming rates.

Durban's space crunch, says Mr. Ngcobo, defies a quick or simple solution.

Cremation, cheaper and space-saving, is an obvious option - and an untenable one for many of the ethnic Zulus who make up seven in 10 Durbanites. "It is not good to burn the bones in Zulu culture," Mr. Gasa, the gravedigger, explained. "Your ancestors are unhappy."

Mr. Ngcobo's office is campaigning to change the cultural bias against cremation, even visiting schools to argue that it can coexist with the Zulus' complex funeral rituals and their deep reverence for the dead. But success so far is limited; in five years, the share of Zulu burials by cremation has doubled - to 2 percent.

Recycling is but a temporary solution: many apartheid-era graveyards once set aside for blacks are in poor or boggy soil and are unsuited for their existing burials, much less additions. No grave can be recycled for at least 10 years, the span needed to reduce a corpse to bones, and survivors can prevent a grave from being reused at all by renewing their lease on the burial site.

In practice, Mr. Ngcobo said, most families consent to recycling only under financial duress: using someone else's grave costs 320 rand, or about $53, while acquiring a new gravesite at Red Hill Cemetery, one of the two still open, costs about $250. Families also resist interring a loved one with anyone except a close relative.

Even then, he said, there are problems: some survivors claim that the departed speak to them in dreams, complaining, for instance, that their bunkmates have pushed them so close to the surface that they get wet when it rains.

Durban could also build new cemeteries, and, indeed, the city is negotiating to buy a 100-acre site to do just that. But it costs at least $1.25 million to build a graveyard, and more to maintain it in perpetuity, money the city does not have. And those 100 acres will last only three and a half years.

A deliberate man, Mr. Ngcobo says that simple economics will eventually lead families to the logical solution, cremation. "It's not uncommon in a family to bury, say, three people a year, and it is becoming very expensive,'' he said. "On average a funeral costs 15,000 rand" - close to a year's average income. Cremation costs 375 rand.

He could be a highways official contemplating the effect of toll roads on traffic density. But when he talks about how the rising death toll has affected his own life, it is clear that he is anything but detached.

"You are now required to go to funerals every weekend," he said. "At times, you go to funerals for eight weekends nonstop. At times, you have two a day, so you have to divide the family up so that one can go to one funeral, and one to the other. If you live in a neighborhood, you are sure to feel it."

Facts and figures do not do justice to Durban's plight. For that, only visits to S Cemetery, which serves one of Durban's most destitute neighborhoods, and Red Hill Cemetery, one of the two municipal graveyards still open, will do.

Opened in 1996, Red Hill was supposed to last 15 years. Mr. Ngcobo now estimates that it will be full in 10. No one who walks Red Hill's rows of recent burials, heap after heap of dirt blowing slowly away in the Indian Ocean breeze, can fail to be sobered by the havoc AIDS is wreaking here.

Yet it is not the number of graves that stops a visitor cold, but their markers. Some of the dead are remembered with only a sheet of paper, shielded from the elements by plastic wrap, listing names, dates of birth and dates of death. For many more, the only record is a few strips of plastic tape, imprinted by a mortuary's label-maker and glued to a tiny plate.

At S Cemetery, the 37-year-old caretaker, Anton Khumalo, bends over a succession of markers and ticks off the ages of the dead: 31; 20; 38; 39; 26; 29;35; 31. "Most of the people - maybe this one - are 18 to 30," he says, peering at one marker. "You hear from the relatives that they died of AIDS. They're not ashamed. They say: 'Our kids don't listen. That's why they died.' ''

Mr. Gasa, the gravedigger, nods when asked whether any of his friends have died from AIDS-related diseases. "Too many," he says. "I can't count them. Too many."

Cemeteries here are all but deserted on weekdays. But as the sun peaks overhead at S Cemetery, Judith Dlamoni and her granddaughter, 4-year-old Phmelele, pass through the rusted gate to visit the grave of Phmelele's mother and Ms. Dlamoni's daughter, Gutulethu Dlamoni.

Gutulethu Dlamoni died last October at 25 after traditional healers failed to cure her. Her husband, an ex-convict, does not live nearby. Judith Dlamoni, 73, unemployed, divorced and broke, is now the sole support of a 4-year-old.

At Red Hill, the only visitor is Siyada Tlatla, 22, who is building a block wall around the grave of his uncle, Phumalani Mkhwanaze. Mr. Mkhwanaze, he says, "was into sport, very into sport.''

"Cross country,'' he adds. "He ran marathons."

Mr. Mkhwanaze left a wife and a 1-year-old son. "He got sick," the nephew says, not needing to say more.

He was 28


Saturday, August 07, 2004

Before I Walk The Dog....

Which Movie Villain Are You?

Crystal. He keeps telling you but are you really listening? I don't think so...

R.I.P. Buffalo born "Super Freak".

"Enjoy every sandwich." This is what I've been trying to say all along.

Michael Alig phones up James St. James. This is good. Real good. -via World of Wonder

Saturday seems to be the day I take care of upgrades and general weblog maintenance. I finally got the Atom feed working right so I could syndicate my site. I chose Bloglines to list me because, as advertised "it's free and easy to use." I'm also listed over at Queerfilter which is signified by that tiny little "glbt" button at the bottom of the page. The button that leads nowhere because I haven't written the referral link for it yet. Bloglines has a lot of cool features. Not the least of which is they publish a list of blogsites I follow for me. Some new ones were added, and a couple unfortunately couldn't be as you don't seem to be generating a site feed. My connection has been wonky all day though so maybe it's me. Speaking of connections. My phone came enabled to connect to something called "T-Zones" from T-Mobile. But as I discovered "enabled" does not mean "able". You have to suscribe to T-Zones at $5.00 per month. Except when the nice lady at T-Mobile took my T-Zone information and signed me up she informed me that there was no charge. Huh? T-Mobile is waving the $5 charge until they notify you that they will begin charging. But they haven't been for several months. Ain't that T-rific?

Friday, August 06, 2004

News, Notes and Stuff

Once a day HIV dosage gets FDA approval.

While the bad news is here.

And while I've already given you the link to RateARod, the fine folks at RateHisButt will not be out done. And while I don't know the exact translation, I'm pretty sure that two out of those three words are "rate" and "rod".

LOGO recently unveiled some more specifics regarding their programming plans. Even better, they printed some names of department heads and such for me to try and contact. Eileen Opatut, consider yourself officially stalked.

And ya thrill me when ya drill me.....

I said, I don't sell any fucking Chunky Monkey!

Um...yeah...fine. No more cock up my butt. Right. Now where's my money?

Major geek alert! Check out the pics. I'm soooo jealous fa real.

From The Ashes goes blind!

Which former pop culture reality show star has been spotted supplementing his income performing the world's oldest profession? He's been quite popular, as well.

Which well-linked NYC Blogger was observed exiting a midtown east watering hole like he was evading sniper fire? Serpentine....

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Happy Happy, Joy Joy!

As I wrote previously, I've been internet deficient of late. Shortly after the display on my laptop stopped working, I managed to break the monitor at work. Aside from the largely unimportant fact that we couldn't use the work computer to print out forms, track sales and all the other boring crap we do with it, I was hooking the monitor in to my laptop and using a dial-up connection through the fax machine to get internet access at work. I had always been wary of having internet access on the job as I'm such a pervy porn man at home when I'm on-line. I always have a page open of legitimate research or news that I'm studying up on and another page with an open chat window or a link to Manhunt. I just popped over for a quick check now just from mentioning it. Surprisingly, I didn't do much porn surfing at work. Mostly I would read and answer e-mail, read and answer ads on Craigslist, search job listings. By the way, does Monster.com really work for jobs? The site just seems so enormously bloated that I can't imagine my little resume floating to the surface where anyone that's in a real position to hire me would see it. I am totally intimidated by that site.

At any rate, the idea of getting turned on at work and then suddenly being called to the floor to address a problem seems, well problematic. Of course, since it is a gay bar, perhaps approaching a customer with a bouncing boner in your pants would be enough of a pleasant distraction to diffuse the situation. "Hello, I'm the manager. How can I and my swinging stiffy help you tonight?" Just a thought. At any rate I had purchased said monitor on EBay for like $75 about six months ago. It was probably used and refurbished and then resold. All would have been fine but for me constantly un-plugging and replugging the monitor into my laptop and back to the computer. After about a week of this the little connector pins got horribly bent. Of course I tried the obvious and got some tweezers and attempted to move them back into position but it was no dice. The monitor was well and truly fucked, and my only at work connection to the internet was fucked with it. Doubly frustrating because I'm not sure why but I have content for days backed up in the pipeline. I'm don't know what's fueling it but I have stories and ideas and news coverage just absolutely gushing out of me these days and it just runs the gamut. HIV info, sex, gay news, gay sex, political junk, opinions, my sex life, home, work stories, stuff stuff stuff. So I'm wondering if I might be a little too all over the map. I've noticed a big spike in readership lately and I wouldn't mind a little feedback. Not that I'll necessarily do it but I will at least listen. Do you like that the things I talk about vary? Do you think I'm not focused enough? I'm trying to give out HIV info whenever possible. Do you think I'm succeeeding? More sex? (probably a dumb question) Finally, and most important to me, do I make you laugh on occasion? Let me know. I'm looking forward to it.

I had decided that I couldn't stand living without a cell phone another minute. Not that it was important to my work, not because I feel I'm important enough that I need to be reached at any time. Simply for the same reason I'm guessing most people want a cell these days. Because everyone else has one. I admit it. I'm a gadget queen. If everyone else has something, even something I don't really think I need, eventually I'll want it too. I talked about my previous attempt(s) to take over the cell some careless customer had left behind. That was an unmitigated disaster. But I needed a tech fix and laptop repair is currently not in my available funding range but I figured I might be able to get one of those pay as you go phones they've been selling now. All the major carriers sell at least a couple models. So I traipsed over to (yes, I still traipse) the Circuit City at Union Square. (Soon to also be the site of a branch of Filene's Basement. I was so excited to see the "coming soon" sign I walked over and jerked off on it. Unfortunately, the selection at Circuit City was pretty poor and they were all doing that damn rebate thing. I hate, hate, hate rebates. Just put the motherfucking item on sale at a good price. Why do you need to tie up my $75 dollars for ten weeks before you send it back? I had no desire to shell out $150 plus tax plus buy minutes just to have a phone and then wait 10 (or more) weeks to get a rebate that I actually need now. There had to be another way. Then it occurred to me that I had a working Nextel phone. And even though the customer service at Nextel sucks dirty monkey ass, I was willing to hold my nose if it meant getting my coveted cell phone. So I rang up the local Nextel wireless branch and inquired as to weather they sold prepaid cards. They do, indeed. And you can buy them in any wireless shop around Manhattan. Ah-hah. So The Hellcat and I set out to do some laundry and see if we can secure me a working cell phone. After dropping our loads ..... we headed across 14th street as it is lousy with wireless dealers. And by dealers I mean that in every sense of the word. Wireless phone dealers in New York are a pretty shady bunch. I don't think it's a business for the feint of heart. Somehow you get the impression if you really needed a kidney for transplant on the QT, a wireless phone shop might just be the first stop you'd make. In any case our first stop produced a claim that while yes, they sell prepaid Nextel cards I would have to bring my phone in for something called "boosting" which I beleve when translated from Farsi stands for bullshit and that would cost "around" $80 plus whatever the cost of the card was .... are you getting the picture? I covered my bankcard with one hand and backed away slowly. The next stop further up the street was where we finally hit paydirt. Unfortunately, they don't sell Nextel pre-paid cards. What kind of phone is it? (Insert foreign language discussion between counter clerk and older, obviously in-charge man sitting behind counter.) Well if you like, you can bring the phone in and we'll exchange it for another model. "But I don't want to buy a plan it has to be pre-paid." "Yes, pre-paid." Success!
I dutifully hurry home to pick up the phone and return to the shop. Now only the original counter person is there. I show him the phone and the new Sim card I bought for it. This prompts not one but two seperate phone calls on two phones. One I believe to an Al Qaeda cell and one to Arafat himself. (I am sooooo gonna have my blog spit out of a computer in Quantico today.) He claims that the phone isn't that good but that he has one. Sure enough he does. I'm thinking, if it sucks why do you have one, and I also know it's total bullshit because my phone is still selling on EBay for upwards of $175. The Hellcat mentions that it better have a color screen to which the clerk says "no, no color." We both express dissatisfaction until finally, when all the phone parties agree to strike at the heart of the infidels tomorrow, he offers up this phone. It's nowhere near as nice as the one I'm trading in but it has a color screen and AOL (feh) e-mail and you can text message and the whole thing along with 225 minutes cost me $60 and it works and it's mine, mine, mine. Now during the day I will just program my home phone to ring through on my cell. At night, people will have to try both numbers. And I'll get people in to the habit of leaving messages on my cell, as The Ex has clearly demonstrated that he's listening to all my messages. Something I knew he would do when I agreed to share a phone. Eventually, if the nimrods at Verizon ever get their shit together, I'll have my DSL line converted to "naked DSL" and then I can have my precious 212 number back, but on a wireless line now, and how cunt will that be? *snap*

Speaking of phones. The New York Times ran a story on July 25 of this year about some newfangled service called VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocal). They so cutting edge ...... christ.

And finally, while we were traversing 14th street in search of unscrupulous wireless dealers we ran across a new bar/coffe shop that we had read about in The Post as being "dog-friendly." Places that tolerate and/or encourage you to bring a pooch put your feet up and set a spell. They had put a blackboard out that they planned to hold a screening of the infamous documentary "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism" at 8pm. The Hellcat expressed an interest and I had heard bits and pieces of how this chronicles Fox News channel's hard shift to the right, all while maintaining and repeating their slogan of presenting "Fair and Balanced Reporting". It was stunning and sickening to see the "talking heads" of the various Fox "news" reporters mindlessly regurgitating whatever buzzwords or phrases they had spoon-fed to them like so much pablum. And it confirms once and for all what I've always suspected. Bill O'Reilly is not only a loud mouthed buffoon looking to get rich by yelling the loudest and being the most outrageous. He is truly an evil, horrible Nazi. He's also drunk with the notion of his own perceived power. And while I still do believe in free speech, I would relish the opportunity to go on that show someday and expose him as the nasty, petty, egocentric, steaming pile of poo he really is. If you get the chance, see this work.

I would tell you the name of the bar we saw it at, but I'm not sure if they were allowed to show it there and I don't want to get anyone in trouble. I'll find other ways to plug the business as the space is great, the staff seems funky and friendly, and their garden is wicked nice. They deserve to do well.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Did I Mention I Got A Dog?

Well, he's The Hellcat's dog, actually. He's a nine year old dachshund named Colby. I'm an aunt, if you will. Colby was supposed to be spending the summer in The Pines. He had a share. I don't think Colby liked his housemates so it was decided that Colby could come here. Now you have to know, animals and babies adore me. I am endlessly fascinating to dogs, cats and infants of both sexes. It's not until the little boys grow up do they cease being interested in me. Colby can be a little skittish, largely because of the Hellcat's nomadic lifestyle I would think. But he's such a cute, expressive dog that I was instantly smitten. Now here he was in my house and even though I appreciate cats, I loves me my doggies. The only reason I never got one of my own was because I didn't want to be tied to caring for an animal. I wasn't sure I could. I'm still not.

Be that as it may Colby and I spent some immediate quality time together as The Hellcat went off "on a tangent" right after Colby arrived. As such, since Colby requires a human for some basics (food, water, walking), a go-to human was required. Number one, I just happened to be around. Number two, dogs can sense who is receptive to them by body language, tone of voice and other signals. Number three, dogs can suss out who "owns" the space they are in and because of that natural pack mentality they are born with, if you let the dog know it's welcome in your pack, they respond immediately. And to top it all off, a thunderstorm rolled in on our first day together. Colby, like many dogs, is afraid of thunder. Again I became the go-to human as he went into full "hide me" mode. Our bond was complete.

Additionally, as it turns out, The Ex is so not a dog person it's hysterical. Not all that surprising as his empathic abilities are next to nil. Forget trying to figure out why the dog is barking. Just yell "shut up" at it six or seven times. That oughta do the trick. Is it any surprise that during the initial "getting used to each other" phase that The Ex was the one to step in dog shit? Not that the Colbster is badly trained. I've found that if you get him on a regular walking/eating/shitting schedule that he goes outside like he should. The problem is, The Hellcat is not just on a late schedule. Any dog could adjust to bartender time. (Something that hadn't occurred to me, dogs don't care if it's 4 am when you walk them as long as you walk them.) The problem is The Hellcat will go on a drug and/or sex binge, and seemingly "hope for the best" when it comes to seeing to Colby's needs. So I've taken to backstopping him. That's not a complaint. I'm enjoying it. And The Hellcat has surmised (rightly so) that I will take on the role. The pecking order is clearly defined by Colby himself. When The Hellcat is up and around Colby prefers his company and follows him everywhere. When he's away or not coherent and Colby is left on his own, I become the benevolent aunty. I get him food and take him for walks and make sure he has water. He curls up on the couch with me if I'm watching TV. He frequently hops up on my lap while I'm surfing the net and blogging. I love having him around. So much so that I'm seriously thinking about getting one of my own. I'm not in a rush, maybe I'll get one while Colby and The Hellcat are here. Maybe I'll wait until when/if they leave. I've absolutely fallen in love with this breed. How many times a day do I want to say "labradoodle"? Many. But knowing me I'll probably rescue a mutt rather than buy a breed. Not too surprising, considering it's what I do with humans. What's a good name for a labradoodle?

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Public Service Announcements

If you are using Mozilla Firefox as your browser the spellcheck feature as well as the upload image feature in your blogger window will not work because they are blocked as pop ups. You have to enable them by going to tools>options>web features>add site. Then type in www.blogger.com and click OK. I'm stupid and you're welcome.

Today's recipe for a lovely head.

10 milligrams of Buspirone in the morning
followed by
10 milligrams of Buspirone in the evening
as well as
1 milligram of Clonazepam

Wait one hour and enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling that ensues.
Optional follow-up later with two or three Ketel One and sodas to extend and enhance the ride.

What's yours?