Monday, December 31, 2007

Monday Moment Of Zen - My Smokin' Hole

No. I haven't suddenly developed an affinity for getting punch-fisted. I've always liked that. Rather I thought I would give you a look at how a restaurant owner in Germany has decided to get around and register his dislike of his state's newly enacted smoking ban. Basically, his solution involves poking your head through a giant sphincter in the wall until you hang your personal pie-hole on the outside in order to practice your god-given right to die of cancer. Some would argue this is an appropriate analogy, as only a pretty giant sphincter would go to these ridiculous lengths to poison himself and still remain "comfortable". But you didn't hear me say that.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

One Vagina Martini, On The Rocks

I'm basically running the restaurant alone for the Saturday night dinner shift now, which will work unless we get crazy busy. Then it will be too much for one person. But it's exhausting and I fell asleep last night around 2:30 and didn't set an alarm on purpose. I slept until 1:30 this afternoon. So in lieu of a longer post you'll just have to be content with this story from last week out of Japan. They are so freaky dirty over there, it cracks me up.

By Stephen Yagielowicz
Wednesday, Dec 26, 2007

OSAKA, Japan – In what some observers see as the beginning of a campaign to clean up the area, a popular adult club in Osaka's Minami entertainment district has been targeted by police.
Recently six of the club's hostesses and one male customer of Impulse, a "sexual cabaret club," were arrested on charges of indecent exposure after the hostesses allegedly worked while in the nude while the customer exposed his genitals.

Other allegedly indecent acts have been reported at Impulse.
"As soon as you enter the club, a hostess will give you a hot towel that she has already used to swipe her private parts. You can start fondling the hostesses' breasts as soon as you sit down, but that's nothing. You immediately get a drink, but it's a hostess's urine served on the rocks. They also serve tidbits sprinkled with cuttings of the workers' pubic hair," Shukan Jitsuwa reported. "They also had a service where the ice served in drinks is first inserted into the hostess's private parts. They just kept on getting wilder and wilder and I think they went too far in the end."

While Impulse forbids media coverage, word of the club spread quickly, making it one of the most popular clubs in Minami.

"That place was warned plenty of times in the past for going too far," a sex industry writer said. "I knew there'd eventually be arrests there some day."
"Sure, it stretched the limits, but it never really went beyond them. It didn't provide any sexual services that resulted in ejaculation and if there was any nudity going on, it was never anything more than a quick flash," a call girl service operator said. "Even its most raunchy stuff wasn't that serious. I think the arrests have been made to send a message to others."

"Some people are saying the tough line cops are taking on adult businesses in Minami will only go on until the end of this year. But I think they're wrong. I think this crackdown is going to keep on going for ages," a writer covering Osaka police news reported to Shukan Jitsuwa. "And the reason why I feel that is the cops working on Minami now are the same ones who carried out the massive clean-up a couple of years ago of the Kabukicho district in Tokyo."

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Rest Of The Story

Last night's adventure with the new manager continued to be "interesting". After the last reservations were in and midnight rolled around we finally closed up shop for the night. As I said, I tend to avoid spending any more quality time than necessary with the new manager. I also don't follow co-workers around, making sure they do this or that. I'm not expected or paid to. The vibe around work is that you pretty much police yourself on that front. Unless something goes terribly wrong, one of the things I love about my job is that nobody is micro-managing how I use my time.

So it wasn't until the end of the night that we were thrown together out of necessity. I need to train him on the closing procedures. Registers need to be cashed out. Waiters need to turn in their charge slips, paperwork, money, etc. Change banks need to be verified and re-set. It's thrilling. Really. And it's honestly not that hard as long as you're methodical about it. You need a system. And you need to do it the same way every night. That way it becomes second nature and you generally don't forget to deposit the money or leave the safe unlocked over night.

Wow. Those first two paragraphs are crushingly boring, no?

In a nutshell, the new manager couldn't close because he was drunk.

He has a serious drinking problem, despite his attempts the other night to list all the reasons he doesn't. So instead I did the entire close for him. Which is kind of pointless because I already know how to close. And after thinking about it over night and taking in to account the fact that before he was "promoted" to his current position there were several instances where he had to be disciplined for drinking-related problems, I ultimately decided I'd had enough and went to our supervisor. I related what I observed and avoided making any dramatic pronouncements. But I did point out that, god forbid, who knows what would happen if we were to leave him alone one night and something serious were to happen when he was drinking. The potential to be shutdown and/or sued would be a massive risk. After a brief back and forth debate between myself and another manager and our supervisor, we decided that he will be relieved of his position right after New Years.

I feel bad (In a way) that I had to be the one to "pull the trigger" on this problem. But someone had to. And I hope it serves as a wake-up call for this man to see that his drinking is out of control, and so is he. But I doubt it. I don't get the impression he's ready. And you don't just realize one day you have a substance abuse problem. You have to be ready to see.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Talking To A Wall

I've been working all this week with one of the new managers. Aside from the fact that he annoys the piss out of me in general, I had the oddest exchange with him. I try to avoid being in situations with him where we make small talk because I usually can't understand half of what he's saying anyway and when I do understand him it's usually obnoxious or just dumb. Quite frankly, I have no desire to get to know him or vice-versa. But I happened to be having a bite to eat at the bar yesterday when he oozed up next to me and inquired again why I never drink. I finally decided to get it over with and replied bluntly:

"Because I'm an alcoholic."

"No you're not."

"Um. I'm pretty sure I'd know... So, yes I am."

What ensued was a 10 minute conversation about why I'm an alcoholic and how much I drank and how I quit and all the gory details. At least as gory as I was in the mood for.

The conversation ended with him complimenting me on how matter of fact I am about it and how brave he thinks I am. Oh, and we of course had to list all the reasons why he doesn't have a problem with alcohol. AS IF.

So imagine my reaction this evening when the conversation touched on the cases of champagne that were delivered this afternoon in preparation for New Years Eve.

"We're getting ready!"

"Right" I replied, unenthusiastically.

"Are you going to have some champagne with us for New Years?"

I turned my head to him, dripping with disdain (and we know how messy that can be).

"You're a fucking cartoon! Get lost, you Muppet."

OK. I made that last sentence up. I just walked away.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day, Party Of One

So I ended up working on Christmas Eve after all. It occurred to me after I posted about possibly getting the day off that my supervisor hadn't actually scheduled me to do payroll for this week. It's usually due by noon on Wednesday and my next scheduled shift isn't even until Wednesday night. So I decided to go in for a few hours on Christmas Eve and get the payroll done rather than wake up under the gun or be forced to rush through it on Wednesday. The alternative, where no one gets a paycheck during Christmas week would have made yours truly a most unpopular individual. And we can't have that now can we?

Christmas Day I woke up after dozing fitfully and puttered around watching morning TV. The Disney parade on ABC is just one giant infomercial for Disney nowadays isn't it? I think the Disney Imagineers could go ahead and replace Regis and Kelly with animatronic characters for all the fake enthusiasm they bring to the show. Maybe it's always been that way and I'm getting crusty in my old age.

Had a little coffee and took Jet to the park for a walk. After I got him home we opened his Christmas stocking. Yes, my dog got a Christmas stocking and yes, I shopped for my dog. I'm not completely crazy I didn't wrap anything. He got yet another squeaky toy and about 3 different kinds of rawhide as well as a bag of dog cookies. At one point he kept jumping back and forth from the rawhides to the squeaky toy until I decided that he was just getting confused and put some away for another day. I've already given him more biscuits and cookies today than I ever usually do.

I made myself a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese and mushrooms along with three fat slices of Canadian bacon and toast. Then I unwrapped the cards and presents that the family had sent last week that I kept under the tree as well as a couple of gifts from the kids at work. Mom and dad sent socks (which I count on every year), some clothes, about 4lbs. of pistachio nuts, three tins of homemade Christmas cookies (courtesy of dad) and a modest check. My niece sent me a beautiful framed picture of herself that her father (who was a professional photographer) took. I absolutely love it. Also got some candles and a Jet Blue gift card to offset the ticket price when I really can go to visit the family.

I took Jet out again in the afternoon. There were other people walking dogs everywhere. I decided to sit in the park for a while and give him a good brush. He's a gay man's dog all right and will sit for a brushing as long as I want. Plus he knows a biscuit comes at the end. Then I went back to the house and made some Christmas phone calls to family and friends to say a proper thank you for the gifts. After which I dozed off for an hour. I'm usually not one for a nap but I haven't been sleeping too great lately and I had nothing else to do so I gave in. I woke up and made some chicken and mushrooms with diced tomato and Spanish rice. I also baked a potato and have a tray of stuffed peppers I made yesterday. Dinner and/or lunch is set for at least a few days.

The one thing I didn't do all day today was go to into a single open store or restaurant. Not a 24 hr. drugstore or diner and most certainly not a grocery store or restaurant. Many years ago we developed this rule in our family. It comes from years and years ago when my dad used to have to go to work on Christmas day. Before that, stores were always closed. But somewhere along the way, as stores opened up and people started spending money, more and more restaurants and then groceries then all manner of stores, theaters and businesses opened. Because people came in. Money was made. And then more and more people had to leave their families or interrupt or delay Christmas while loved ones had to work. Because people are too lazy or too dumb to figure out what food they'll need one day in advance. Or maybe the toy they bought needs batteries. Or perhaps the camera on Christmas might just need, oh I don't know, film? How surprising it must be that the car will need gas for that trip to visit relatives today. So all manner of selfish fucks will flood groceries because they absolutely can't live without mini-fucking-marshmallows or bread crumbs. And instead of planning ahead and buying a jug of cheap wine because the family will drive him to drink, get belligerent and scream at his little girl, another dumb ass will go into a bar on Christmas night and remark about how sad it is that the bartender has to work. Not sad enough to push his beer gut away from the bar and get his alcoholic ass home, but sad nonetheless.

So needless to say I have no illusion that I will be part of the solution. That genie ain't going back in the bottle. But I refuse to be part of the problem. I have food, my dog has food. I've got milk, bread, contac lens solution, condoms and lube and clean socks and underwear. I've got several DVD's I've never watched, and a few I could always watch again. I've got video games I've never mastered and a book I'm working on. I even stole my neighbor's New York Times this morning. So I don't even need to visit a newsstand. If a few million more people would do the same, maybe someone else's dad wouldn't have to go to work on Christmas. I'm just sayin' ...

Monday, December 24, 2007

"Merry Christmas, Baby"

Come and get your present ....

All I Want For Festivus Is Serenity Now!

Slept in on Sunday. I had an easy week as far as amount of hours but there was a lot of stress leading up to Christmas. The entire restaurant staff has been working pretty hard since Thanksgiving. Entertainment, Tech, Servers, Barbacks and Kitchen as well as host/hospitality have all been putting in crazy hours, long hours or going without days off to get us through the holiday party season. We've begun to fray. At least I have. I unleashed on at least one of the servers. Not that he didn't deserve it, but I uncharacteristically strafed him so bad he'll either get in line or quit. Which I suppose is why I did it. Either outcome is OK with me.

Saturday night right before leaving for my Sunday day off it was questioned by my co-worker in that he didn't understand why I was scheduled to come in on the 24th at night since we are only open as a nightclub. I handle the restaurant, Human Resources and payroll so anything involving the nightclub beyond paying their staff has very little to do with me. I agreed and expressed my confusion as well. At which time I was informed that maybe I could take that night off as well. He would let me know. Trouble is, that night, being the 24th, added to my days off already on the 23rd and 25th would mean that I could in fact have gone home to be with the family at Christmas. I suppose I still could if I find out on the 24th that I am indeed not needed. But the ticket price the day of the flight would be outrageous and I haven't bought a single gift, seeing as how it seemed going home was impossible, so I would be forced to sit and open gifts (or at least gift cards) while I would have nothing in return. Now of course I know that mom and dad would say the presents don't matter that it's far more important we're all together. And they'd be right. But I'd still feel like the po' single gay child with no savings but plenty of HIV prescriptions to show for my life.

And that's not how I would choose to spend my holiday. However long it ends up being.

Friday, December 21, 2007

In Other News ...

Of interest. At least to me. Maybe. It possibly doesn't interest you in the slightest.

Friday, December 21, 2007


December 20, 2007 -- In a move that illustrates how television networks are girding for a protracted battle with striking TV writers while also scrambling to fill major programming holes, interactive karaoke restaurant Spotlight Live is closing in on a production deal, The Post has learned.
According to three sources familiar with the situation, broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBC, The CW and a handful of cable networks held informal talks with Spotlight founder Jen Worthington before the writers strike began about developing a TV show based on Spotlight's concept.
A source inside NBC said the network thought Spotlight, a Times Square club and restaurant that features five professional recording booths and provides professional backup singers and dancers for would-be performers, might be a nice fit with the network's theme parks, or could be a show broadcast on cable or video-on-demand.
While informal at first, sources said the networks' talks with Spotlight, which is being repped by Creative Artists Agency, have ramped up since the writers strike began Nov. 5, and a deal could be in place in time for 2008's mid-season.
Spotlight's talks with the networks have intensified as the antagonism mounts between networks and striking TV writers, and as network sources privately say they don't expect a resolution to the strike before March.
Worthington declined comment for this story. The networks mentioned either declined comment or could not be reached for comment.
Prior to the beginning of the strike, the networks ordered a plethora of reality-show programming that they hoped would tide them over until a deal was reached. But with a resolution not expected anytime soon, sources said the networks will likely need to greenlight additional reality-show programming.
Each new reality-show deal accomplishes two goals for the networks. First, because reality shows don't employ writers, they fill the void created by scripted programming that has been halted or canceled due to the strike. Second, it signals to writers that the networks can withstand a strike indefinitely.
Spotlight, where Jennifer Lopez and Alicia Keys have performed, already has some powerful partners on the music and Internet side of its business in SonyBMG's Epic Records and cable company Comcast, respectively.
Epic has agreed to provide studio time and to record, produce, distribute and market a single from eight winning singers selected by Spotlight's diners, an online audience and Epic judges. Comcast streams videos of the performers through its Ziddio unit.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's A Wonderful Life

One more day of private events before Christmas. I still have to work every day but the 25th, including Christmas Eve. I doubt I'll be around long enough to take in the festivities as we host a Jewish Singles event later that night though. Although that really sounds like it's gonna be a laugh-riot. I'll be spending Christmas here in NYC as one day off isn't enough time to hop home and it's right back to work on the 26th.

The following week we'll be open for tourists and people still celebrating as well as those that are winding up for New Year's in Times Square. We're working with some outside promoters and that seems more and more like it's going to be a disaster of biblical proportions.


Wow. Major interruption as I was writing. A brawl broke out at the bar. Police. EMS. Blood. Broken glass. None of my staff was hurt, thank goodness. I have to get the place closed up and calm everyone down. I'll update tomorrow if there's time.

UPDATE: So the fight. Here's how that went down. It was the end of the night. Kitchen was closed. Only about 20-25 bar customers left. I wasn't in the room. Apparently, there was a group (4 or so) of business suits drinking at the bar. They had come in for drinks after another function. All was well until this mook decided that his bag was missing. We never have determined if he actually came in with the damn thing in the first place, but he was liquored up enough to insist he had and it was missing. You have no idea how many people flat out insist something is lost when they never came in with it in the first place.

Next thing you know the dumb fuck is demanding his bag and up and throws a beer bottle at one of my bar backs. He missed and took out a couple of bottles in display. The sound engineer was close by and grabbed the freak before his friends intervened and took him away from the bar to calm down. He assured them he was fine. Immediately after being released this drunken overgrown fratboy proceeds to take a $500.00 computer kiosk touch screen and smash it on the ground. At this point the police were called and his friends and some good Samaritan customers tried to hustle the asswipe out the door. As they were pushing him towards the elevator the dickwad took one more opportunity to grab a glass from a nearby table and throw it at the head of one of my waiters. With that, at least two of my staff and one bystander tackled the fucker and they all tumbled down a small set of stairs. The dumb ass then smashed his own face down on the carpet, underneath which is concrete, and split open his forehead. A fate he completely deserved.

By then the police had arrived, at which point I came upon the scene. The drunk moron was laying on the floor bleeding like a stuck pig as his friend continued to berate the staff and yell at the police. I honestly thought he had been stabbed at first. While I got the whole story and made sure my people weren't hurt, EMS arrived and began to treat the perp and get him ready to transport. After interviewing staff and customers and taking names and statements, the police pretty much discounted their version where my employees suddenly and without provocation started beating on a patron for no reason, and were instead pretty clear that even though he was now drunk and bleeding on my carpeting, this douche-bag had committed at the least attempted assault, destruction of property and whatever other charges add up to 35 year old alcoholic white guy with rage issues.

In the end, my contacts with the police department tell me he was treated at the hospital and placed under arrest. My employees may have to answer some follow-up questions but there's no trouble for them on that front. I ended up cleaning up all the bloody tablecloths and napkins, as well as all the bandages, saline and plastic gloves the EMS workers discarded at the scene. The night crew was left to quickly shampoo the puddle of blood left in the rug. They did a great job, by the time we re-opened late this afternoon, you could barely see it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday Moment Of Zen

Little Pothead, Big World

Here's "Midget Mac", one of the contestants from
VH1's heinous hit I Love New York 2.

Observe how cute his tiny little hands are as he holds on to that big fat blunt. I would venture to say it's the only time he ever feels high. Get it? 'Cause he's so low ... I'll be back for the 10 pm show. Try the lamb.

-images via Rhymes With Snitch

Sunday, December 16, 2007

She's Pooped!

Closed the restaurant on Friday midnight and back again to open and work a party by 10 am. There was 3 1/2 hours of fitful sleep in between. Then I worked a regular restaurant close on Saturday night as well. A double shift on a Saturday! Don't these fuckers know how old I am? I keed. Sort of. I am beat. I ran out of gas around the half-way point but I rallied again at the end and managed to attend a going away gathering for one of the managers after work. I left after the third bottle of champagne was started and the second round of shots was downed. When you don't drink anymore, being at a bar is only fun up to a point. And that was as good an excuse as any to beat feet and get home to the dawg.

As a side benefit, I got a little extra cash for dragging my saggy white ass around the joint for 14 hours and then on top of that, the party hosts on Saturday afternoon left some cash for the managers to split. Not unheard of but very rare and most appreciated. Considering I was trying to stretch my last 10 dollars out until next Friday's payday. I now have more than enough spending money to carry me through the week and part way in to next. Huge relief. First thing I bought? A big bag of dog food and some extra cans.

I'm such a good dad....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jack Mackenroth Is Really, Really Gay

In fact, he may be running for Mayor of Gaytown judging by this YouTube video. - via Queerty.

As you no doubt either know by now or don't care, Jack was forced to withdraw from Project Rungay in last night's episode due to a recurring staph infection. People are talking now about how courageous and brave he is for being upfront about his HIV status. Fine, great. But honey, as far as I'm concerned Jack is the bravest queen I know for appearing on national television (OK Bravo) looking like Goldie Hawn in the First Wives Club! But he did take the time during several post-show interviews to explain what this (MRSA) staph infection is, how it's difficult but not impossible to treat, and how it's not really related to HIV. It can be a very dangerous infection, and left untreated people can and do die from it. It's also extremely painful. HIV+ people do, in fact, contract this infection, but it seems that you are either kind of susceptible to it or not. I speak from experience, of course, as one of my former roommates, or They Who Will Not Be Named, suffered from a recurring MRSA infection several years ago. I visited him in the hospital, I was there when he dressed the wound and I even lived with him for part of one bout. The whole time, I was of course also HIV+ and never caught it.

Happily, Jack reports that he is fully recovered and feeling fine. In fact, according to published reports he has pointed his Chelsea man-breasts to the wind and hooked up for several dates with Top Chef token-gay Dale. Bitches.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Anybody Want A Paycheck?

Every Tuesday I do the employee payroll. All the waiters, busboys, runners, bartenders, bottle servers, nightclub servers and now lately all the retail employees. I collect all their schedules, check their hours, record and report their tip money and make sure they get paid for all the private parties and events we do. Then I take all the data and record it on an Excel sheet and send it off to our payroll department. The checks come on Friday. Sometimes an employee will wait for me on Friday afternoon to point out a mistake I've made, lying in wait outside the office ready to pounce before I even get my coat off. Of course, they usually only make that mistake once. Sometimes an employee who really should know better will just try to verbally request I pay them more. Like I just send in undocumented requests for checks and they give them to me. I wouldn't be crushed under a mountain of credit card debt if that were the case.

We actually have a software program that should speed up this process but we've never been able to co-ordinate the collective will of myself, the employees, the other managers and the various individual and now outsourced payroll departments to be able to get it up and running. I am determined to remedy this by January 1. But in the meantime payroll takes me about 4 or 5 hours every Tuesday. Today it took me from 11:30 until just after 8:30. Not counting a soup run and some bathroom breaks.

This is in large part due to the increased amount of parties and events in December. The holidays and all. 'Tis the season. Because I work so hard on the payroll, I really try to make sure mistakes are kept to a minimum and everyone gets the money they're due. I basically created the rudimentary stone and tablet method we use to accomplish it every week, and I find I'm quite sensitive to accusations I've made an error or that someone hasn't been paid. It also drives me wild when the payroll department nitpicks for forms and signatures when all I want to do is get someone a check. I realize it's their job. It still makes me crazy.

Many times, an employee will plop down in my office and a bit too arrogantly for my taste announce they were shorted on hours or "something's wrong" with their check. I always dutifully try to address the problem as soon as possible, often spending an hour or two trying to re-construct the week in payroll and find out what's wrong. Sometimes, if I'm not sure, I pay them anyway. But I freely admit to taking a bit of smug satisfaction when I can prove right on the spot in front of witnesses that the "error" was in the person's shoddy or non-existent record keeping, and my borderline OCD use of documentation and filing was, in fact, perfect.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday Moment Of Zen - Craigslist Ad

Naked In The Dentist Chair - 50


Because nothing says hot like a chance to "rome" around a toothless, fat, hairy guy with his "paints unziped". Still, it's nice that he's discreet.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Saturday Spotlight (5)

Just plain folk that are awfully good singers come by all the time and belt out a number. Add in some backup vocals and a music track and bring a friend who knows how to hold the camera steady and voila!, a fairly decent Saturday Spotlight. Here's a woman named Shea and her rendition of Natural Woman.

While I'm talking about work (again) anyway, I thought I'd mention that we did a party last weekend for the Romanian consulate here in NYC. Ordinarily that news and the ensuing party would be a snooze-fest, and it would have been were it not for the fact that one of our tech guys seriously fucked up and made a major faux pas in international protocol. Due to a missed cue and a technical glitch we inadvertantly played the US national anthem (being the host country) before the Romanian (being the guest country). A musical version of a loud fart during dinner and one the party planner had a mini meltdown over. Ooops.

The other, way more interesting story of note had to do with the guest list at the party. Out of all the people you would expect to find at a snooty cocktail reception and dinner thrown by the Romanian embassy, I would venture one of the last would be this guy:

That's right folks, I couldn't have been more delighted to see America's Most Smartest Model finalist, alleged serial groper, Romanian born (aha!) Andre Birleanu. I thought about trying to dress up like Poland and see if he wanted to try and re-create the Soviet invasion, but in light of the fact that we had already risked one international incident, I decided to stand off to the side and giggle like a schoolgirl instead.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Very Funny, Universe

I was just about to post a quick blurb letting you know I was around and fine. I had the day off yesterday and spent the time cleaning, watching internet porn and putting out Christmas decorations and putting up the tree.

Then just before I logged on here I pulled up my checking account on-line. My roommate's rent check bounced. Which means my rent check will bounce as well unless I figure something out right quick. Not good people. Soooo not good.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Thanks Universe!

So a couple of days after I wrote about the sad tale of my jacked up finances and my landlord's demands to, literally, get my house in order, I had set about advancing cash into my checking accounts and looking under every financial seat cushion I could find hoping to discover some hidden change that would make things better.

I also took the time to update my resumé and began answering Help Wanted ads. Although I pretty much love my job, I haven't been happy with my salary for quite some time, and I really have been pretty vocal the last couple of months about that very thing. My financial meltdown simply spurred me on to take the bull by the horns and launch my rapidly aging ass back in to the marketplace and see if I could find another company willing to pay a little better for my multi-faceted skill set. My intent was to possibly parlay a better offer into a raise. Unless I managed to stumble into an obscene compensation offer for my services in which case I would disappear faster than a diaper changer at Britney's house.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself alone one morning with my boss, who initiated a conversation about some future plans at work. One of the original managers is leaving, opting to return to Las Vegas and escape the cramped and depressing housing she found herself in here in NYC. There's a bit of a churn at work in general now, and it wasn't lost on me that people had begun jockeying for position. In any case, my boss inquired about whether I was willing to accept some increased responsibility in the new hands being dealt, and offered a salary increase to go along with it. I quickly agreed to an increase in both my responsibilities and my paycheck. Although quite honestly, I already have quite a bit more responsibility than even he seems to be aware. But that's a discussion for another day.

I decided not to ask about the size of the raise at the time. I didn't want to appear greedy. I did however mention that I had begun looking for another position, explaining that money, or rather my lack thereof, had been a serious consideration and I was prepared to leave if my financial compensation didn't improve. If I do say so myself, I think I lobbed that one exceptionally well, placing it directly between my offered raise and the actual figure. I said I'm not greedy, but she's a crafty one.

The upshot: Today I was given a 10% pay increase effective January 1st. It was exactly what I was hoping for. It's what I should have been making all this year. Again, that's another discussion. And while 10% won't translate into any kind of sea change in my quality of life, it will help. More importantly it makes me feel better.

And feeling better is half the battle isn't it?

And while I'm thanking the universe anyway, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention stumbling on to a repeat marathon of the Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, or as I prefer to call it, the Asses I'd Jam A Stick In My Eye To Eat show. It was during said marathon that they ran promos for the new season that began airing tonight. In the opening episode, La Dickmesoon brilliantly (in my opinion) decides to open a Latin division of her "agency". The result? An hour enjoying some Ben & Jerry's Vanilla Caramel Fudge watching a coke-addled, collagen-lipped, white trash harpy screech in borderline racist Spanglish at some hot Latin male models in their underwear. Heaven! I can't think of a better way to celebrate. And that's a pretty amazing statement to close on.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Monday Moment Of Zen - Acres of Ass ...

It's video hooch Angel Lola and more junk in more trunk than anyone could possibly need. If you're feeling out of sorts today, just pull up this photo and contemplate the boo-fucking-tay.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Saturday Spotlight - (4) Sunday Special

So long, Whoopi.

Whoopi Goldberg has been broadcasting her morning radio show Wake Up With Whoopi from our venue every Friday morning for the past 15 weeks or so. It was on the air either incredibly late or ridiculously early in the New York market, depending on your point of view. Either way, I rarely see 5 am from either direction these days. So while I did get a glimpse of the Whoop-ster on several occasions as I was making my way home, I never actually met her. Several people on my staff not only met her, but dealt with her extensively. Lest you think I'm setting up something scandalous, all my employees had nothing but the highest praise for Whoopi. They all said she was funny and nice and a pleasure to be around. That and she really, really likes bacon.

Alas WKTU, the station that carried her show in New York, discontinued airing her ratings challenged talker last week. And just as quickly, we got the memo that we would no longer be hosting her Friday broadcast.

So this weeks Saturday Spotlight (On Sunday) features R&B and soul singer Ryan Shaw and a quick glimpse of Whoopi at the end. It was nice working with, and not meeting you, Whoop.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

AIDS- It's Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

The following facts and statistics from the international AIDS charity AVERT.

In 1981, the United States of America became the first country to identify AIDS as a distinct condition. Since then many thousands have become infected, and by the end of 2005, more than half a million people had died of AIDS in America – the equivalent of the entire population of Las Vegas. There are currently more than one million people living with HIV in America and around a quarter of those are unaware of their infection, which presents a high risk of onward transmission for future partners.

Yet the USA has no formal AIDS strategy, and thousands of uninsured Americans struggle to access good HIV care and antiretroviral therapy. The world’s biggest donor of AIDS-related funding is itself facing a major, ongoing AIDS epidemic, and the situation grows worse each year.

There are also variations in the geographical distribution of AIDS cases across the USA. Once an epidemic that was concentrated mainly in the gay populations on the East and West coasts, AIDS has also now taken hold within Black and Latino communities in many Southern states. The map on the right shows how AIDS cases were distributed across the US in 2005.

New AIDS cases across the US, 2005 (brown = highest concentration, light yellow = lowest)

The USA has no national prevention strategy or prevention targets. Prevention initiatives that actively work to prevent people becoming infected tend to be carried out on a state- or city-wide level, either by local authorities, or by HIV support organizations. Such prevention initiatives may concentrate on particular communities or groups of people, or they may be more general in their focus. Independent organizations play a particularly big role in preventing HIV among injecting drug users, as it is illegal for federal money (and occasionally state or city money) to be used for needle exchange programs.

One area where prevention efforts have successful in the US is the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT). Routine HIV testing for pregnant women in many states, and good treatment and care, means that diagnoses of HIV in babies have dropped dramatically since HIV was first discovered in the US.

In other areas, prevention efforts have had less of an effect however, and while combination antiretroviral treatment has helped to dramatically reduce the number of people developing and dying of AIDS in America, overall, around 40,000 continue to be diagnosed with AIDS every year. This suggests that HIV infection levels are not declining.

In September 2007, over 100 AIDS organizations joined together to call for the introduction of a National AIDS Strategy that would set out a clear national prevention plan and bring an end to the 40,000 new infections that occur each year. The campaign targets the candidates for the 2008 presidential election.

“The wealthiest nation in the world is failing its own people in responding to the AIDS epidemic at home. Our country must develop what it asks of other nations it supports in combating AIDS: a comprehensive national strategy to achieve improved and more equitable results."- Rebecca Haag, Executive Director of AIDS Action.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

This Is An Embarrassment For This Country

On November 6, the Department of Homeland Security proposed even more restrictive regulations for HIV+ travelers that wish to enter the United States.

Here's the gist of things:

"The US is one of only 13 countries that completely ban incoming travel across their borders by the HIV-positive. The others, according to a list established by the leading German AIDS service organization, Deutsche AIDS Hillfe, for the most part have undemocratic regimes. They are Iraq, China, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Sudan, Qatar, Brunei, Oman, Moldova, Russia, Armenia, and South Korea.

A waiver to the ban is required for HIV-positive travelers to or through the US. Even when a travelers US stay merely involves changing planes, a waiver is needed.

Last year on World AIDS Day, President George W. Bush pledged to issue streamlined new regulations with a categorical waiver that would make it easier for the HIV-positive to receive exemptions.

Unfortunately, despite using the terms streamlined and categorical, in reality these regulations are neither, said Victoria Neilson, legal director of Immigration Equality, which works on behalf of LGBT and HIV-positive asylum seekers and immigrants."

Read the whole article here.

It's a stupid policy that has nothing to do with Homeland Security or the public health. Tell me again how people with HIV don't experience discrimination anymore ....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Spare Any Change?

That sound you hear? That's the wheels falling off my financial wagon.

I racked up a huge amount of credit card debt when I was drinking. For most of the last 10 years I've managed to juggle it pretty well. But I was always robbing one account to pay off another, I would open new cards and charge off the balance, believing I had saved money somehow. Don't get me wrong. I absolutely knew that wasn't true. I was delusional not stupid. And as hard as I've been trying to pay down my debts, I'll never pay it all off. I feel it's my god-given right as a gay man to die with massive credit card debt. It's the trade off for not being able to catch anything thrown to us.

But as my drinking and all the accompanying mental impairment began to really take over, the amount of money I borrowed and spent increased. Meanwhile my ability to earn a living and hold down a decent job decreased. The result was tens of thousands in credit debt. I can't bear to really add it up. But I've been trying to chip away at it ever since I started my new job. And I was doing all right. I had paid off a $500 VISA card and was almost finished paying down another $1000.00. I slowly reduced other cards enough that the payments began to drop ever so slowly. I was always broke, but it started to feel like I had a little breathing room. Of course, that was a bit of a delusion as well.

For the past year, I've been behind on my rent. Right towards the end of my spiral, I wasn't working and wasn't really earning much. I was on food stamps and working a part time job in retail. The income in no way matched the outflow. The last couple of months before I quit drinking I basically used credit and my roommate's share of the rent to live on. I was a month behind, and then two months. And while I've been working and paying the rest of my bills more or less on time, I never got that back rent paid off or caught up. My landlord has been a saint, but apparently even he has his limits. The last couple of months, he has been sending me letters reminding me that my rent was due. He mentioned the 2 months as well but basically only insisted I not fall further behind. I didn't.

This month, I got another letter. He wants me to pay off the two months I'm behind. I'm confident he won't renew my lease in February unless I get this paid off soon. And he's as non-threateningly as possible threatening eviction proceedings. At first, the alcoholic in me kicked in and I got angry. At him. I've been doing so well and trying so hard, and now the fucking landlord wants the rent.

His rent. Of course, that's when it hit me. Well, not then but soon enough. How that kind of thinking was the result of my alcohol use. How I managed to view someone asserting that I behave responsibly as somehow the one who's at fault. I am so comfortable in the role as victim that I automatically cast myself in the part even when the facts don't bear it out. You see, that's the first step on the road to the liquor store. And if someone was going to come along and fuck up my life, well then I could do a much better job of that. Fuck it. Who cares?

But all the man wants is the rent he is due. The rent I owe. The money I've agreed in writing to pay. He's not doing anything to me. And up 'till now he's been beyond patient.

So I got over it. And set about figuring out how the fuck I would pay this off. I made a list. Between the back rent and the bills that would be due I will need about $4100.00. He wants it now but I'm sure I can stretch that until a week from Friday. It took me an entire afternoon to figure it out. And I'll have to almost max out every bit of credit I've built back up. I also have no idea what I'll do for spending money the next two weeks. There's nothing left.

But this isn't a complaint or a thinly veiled solicitation. If I was gonna hit you up for money I'd be much more pathetic sounding and blatant. And I'd find a way to work in a small tumor. And really, if I was about to be tossed out on the street I would swallow my pride and contact my parents or my brother, neither of whom is rich but they could certainly bail me out. I would be completely and totally mortified but I would do it.

This is me just trying to live in the truth. I haven't been writing as much and I haven't been talking in detail about my life since getting sober. And for the most part it has been wonderful. But one of the things they talk about in Gay-A is the consequences you have to face in your life when you get sober. And how just getting sober doesn't automatically solve all your problems. I think maybe this is one reason why some people get sober and then falter. They don't seem to realize that things will most assuredly not always go your way in the future. And that the past will still have to be dealt with and cleaned up. It's hard. And it's hard work.

I'm thankful I have the brains and resources to figure out what to do. I am absolutely blessed that when I needed to find $4100.00, I had managed to build up enough credit and earn enough money to cover it. I am completely aware that many people in this country wouldn't be able, and that still many, many more are much more worried about whether or not they will get a meal today at all. This turn of events ruined my weekend and stressed me out. I'll get through it.

The story goes on.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Don't Like You

Praise the spirits! Now that you are all finished with your holiday weekend and are getting ready to get back to work, I am just about to start mine. (Ha, Ha. Suck it!)

Traditionally, in the restaurant/bar business a long holiday weekend will bring out some of the most obnoxious, unreasonable groups of people you would ever want to come across. This weekend proved that true, although quite honestly, I've been through worse. I used to remark it was as if they never go out in public more than once or twice a year, until I finally realized that it was probably a good guess. It's the people that don't know how to order their food or wait for a dirty table to be cleaned and set or why they might aggravate someone by asking me to split off a check so they can put that amount on a credit card ... unless of course that credit card is declined in which case they would like the checks put back together so they can just go ahead and put the entire amount on the original credit card they had first provided. Sure, pinhead! I have all kinds of time this weekend to do pointless tasks for you.

But at least another nightclub was kind enough to provide a fatal stabbing on Thanksgiving (nothing says happy holiday like a punctured lung!) that made the papers, thereby insuring that our little gang related beat-down with accompanying grand larceny never registered more than a blip on the police blotter.

In case you can't tell, I'm a little at a loss for love of my fellow man. Unless he's Puerto Rican. But that's another kind of love. My patience is finite and the well is dry. Fortunately, I can tell that my soul will be restored by a little cardio workout, a healthy dose of man-on-dog lovin' and lots and lots of retail therapy. I best get to work.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Saturday Spotlight (3)

I liked this performance so much that this particular video was actually posted on You Tube by me. While I wasn't particularly shocked that this employee decided to drag it up as Batgirl for Halloween, I was pleasantly stunned to see him get up and perform a funny and mildly tragic version of Britney's Slave For You. Quite deserving of a Saturday in the Spotlight.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Plus Ça Change ...

Thanksgiving pretty much came and went here at From The Ashes HQ. I did get the day off, but a single day doesn't really allow me to spend the money on a one day flight back to Buffalo and an early morning flight back to work. Besides, my bosses are so wishy-washy and passive aggressive most of the time that we hadn't really received a schedule for this week until late last week. Not enough time to make good plans. Of course, they all managed to scheduled time for a three day break for themselves either before or on the holiday. I guess that's why I make a substandard wage.

On the bright side the weather was quite nice. Temp in the lower 60's with some peaks of sunlight. I dozed in bed an extra hour and finally got licked awake by my impatient buddy. I managed to distract him by raising the window shade. The street traffic can keep him busy for over an hour.

Once I managed to down a cup of coffee we were ready to go for a walk in the park. Even with so many people traveling or visiting others, it's NYC and there were still people all around. Reading, snoozing on a bench. Having some lunch. Feeding the squirrels. Fall finally came to the city and the trees are giving up leaves by the thousands. There are multi-colored piles of nature's discard everywhere. Apparently, by the way Jet roots around in them they are loaded with quality smells as well. I expect with the weather calling for wind and cold tomorrow it will only be more dramatic. We accomplished our mission (pooped) and walked back home. I had already planned to take Jet for a longer outing later and with luck give his coat a good brushing.

I stopped at the grocery store the night before and while I had no intention of making a sad little Thanksgiving feast for one I did give a nod to the holiday and bought myself a big breakfast ham steak to go with some eggs and whole wheat toast for a delicious afternoon brunch. I also couldn't resist buying a pumpkin pie for dessert with dinner. I noodled around on line, deciding I was happy I hadn't posted the same pictures for the holiday that everyone else had by Googling Thanksgiving under image search. The cat and dog as pilgrim and indian isn't so cute the 10th time you see it.

Then it was time for a nice walk over to the dog run at Madison Park. We cut over by walking past the exclusive and key-locked Gramercy Park, which, for all it's landscaping and imposing sculpture, smells ... no, reeks of dog piss. The run wasn't too crowded but the dogs and people that were there were quite friendly. Jet got his good brushing too. By the time we meandered home and climbed up 5 flights of stairs, I wasn't too tired but Jet promptly sacked out and snoozed for hours.

After a quality Thanksgiving wank, which I totally thanked myself for, I started puttering around the apartment cleaning the floors and straightening up. I checked out all the Black Friday sale ads, making mental notes about camera prices and features. That will probably be my next big purchase, if and when I can ever get caught up on the bills. Then I decided to install the new towel bar in the bathroom that I purchased last week and unclog the shower drain for the umpteenth time. I'm surprised my roommate isn't totally bald. She looses hair by the handful every shower. That all took surprisingly long. By this point The Incredibles was airing on network TV so I took several breaks to enjoy that. Satisfied with my handiwork I ran down to the Million Dollar Deli and bought some salad fixin's and ice cream to go with my pie. Dinner consisted of leftover pasta with chicken, mushrooms and peas, fresh garlic bread and salad with lots of crunchy veggies. Hardly Thanksgiving fare but absolutely yummy nonetheless.

After cleaning up the dinner dishes I channel surfed a bunch. Everyone puts up marathons of this or that this time of year so I hopped around watching Project Runway and Iron Chef and Little People, Big World episodes. Oh, and as an aside, the whole time my day was unfolding, my former roommates, They Who Will Not Be Named, had obviously left town or at least left for the entire day. I know this because I recently noticed that they got a replacement for the late, beloved Colby. And the poor little pup spent all day and night barking and howling in whatever room he had been locked in and left. He was still at it at 1:30am when I took Jet for his last walk. I guess that's another innocent animal that can expect a shortened life span and a miserable life.

After Jet's walk I finally tucked into that pie and ice cream and then took some time to update my resume before bed. I was going to leave that little fact hanging for you, but lest you get the wrong idea, I am still gainfully employed. But I've decided to test the waters and see if I can get some better offers. Either as a back-up plan or a bargaining chip. We shall see. Won't we?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday Spotlight (2)

This week's spotlight falls on R&B singer/songwirter and Grammy winning (Lady Marmalade) recording artist Mya. She appeared earlier this year courtesy of Universal Music as part of the Tuesday night R&B Live series.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Don't Fuck With Me People

So about three weeks ago I was surprised to find an invoice in my mailbox for a subscription to People magazine. At first, I thought it was a humorous mistake, an invoice somehow addressed to me in error. Until the next day, when a copy of People arrived in my mail. I was surprisingly surprised and angry. Ordinarily, I am not one of those people that thinks a business or corporation is trying to "rip me off". I don't obsessively monitor my checking account lest someone steal my identity. If you truly want to assume my identity have at it. If you can figure out how to magically make a bone-dry bank account and a couple of maxed-out credit cards produce cash flow I'd love to see it happen. Oh, and if you can get my identity laid on occasion I'd appreciate that, too.

But having said that, I do have a sense of what I've ordered or signed up for. I do, in fact, go through my credit card bills to confirm I've actually been to the stores listed on them. And while I do periodically subscribe to the occasional periodical, I am pretty picky about what magazines I read "religiously". The last magazine I received on a regular basis was Time, and that was because the trial was free. As soon as they wanted to charge me I cancelled. My absolute favorite magazine would probably be Vanity Fair. The photography is great and the articles are in-depth and well written. I usually keep a copy for a week or more as I slowly enjoy finding interesting tidbits inside. Plus, it makes you look smart if you leave your copy in the bathroom.

Which brings me back to my distress at receiving a copy of People. I hate that magazine. Perhaps hate is too strong a word. But there's nothing I like about it. The articles, when they are not soul-crushingly boring, are poorly written and largely incomplete. It's the McDonalds of writing. devoid of nutrition for the brain. Reading it just makes you fat and lethargic and hungry for actual information a few hours later. I would be mortified if someone found a copy in my
bathroom. People magazine is not even worthy of my poop. I'll be damned if I'm gonna get it in my mail every week.

So after several weeks of deliveries I received another invoice. This was obviously no fluke. I had somehow been signed up for People. I racked my brain trying to remember where I had been on The Internets that I might have accidentally authorized a subscription. I couldn't think of one. And I further suspect I hadn't as the times I do order a magazine subscription, I tend to provide a credit card for billing. I hate getting invoices and prefer to pay up front. So after finding the link on my invoice to and their subscription department, I discovered I couldn't dispute the charge, only cancel the subscription. Which I did, with extreme bitchiness:

Comments : I have cancelled my subscription. I have no idea how you got a subscription order from me. I hate your magazine and would never read it much less order or pay for a subscription. Do not attempt to bill me again.

The next morning, I received an e-mail response:

Thank you for contacting PEOPLE Customer Service.

It is not our policy to enter an order without receiving what we believe to be the proper authorization to do so. Please be assured that we have canceled the account. You may disregard any further billing notices that you receive, as we may be unable to intercept them in the mail. Since our mailing labels are prepared in advance, you may receive one or two more issues. Please accept them with our compliments.

Shane C.
PEOPLE Customer Service

Damn straight, Skippy.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

(Son Of) In The (HIV) News

"Well, the good news is your new kidney works fine ... "

4 patients test HIV+ from transplanted organs
Spread of AIDS Virus to Transplant Patients Signals Need for More Information on Donors

A troubling case in which a high-risk organ donor infected four patients with the AIDS virus and hepatitis has led medical ethicists to warn that patients need to know more about whose organs they're getting.
Public health officials said Tuesday the Chicago case is the first known instance of HIV transmission through organ transplants since 1986.
It's also the first ever known instance in which one organ donor has spread hepatitis C and HIV at the same time, said Dr. Matt Kuehnert of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention....

Initial tests on the donor for HIV, hepatitis and other conditions came back negative, most likely because the donor had acquired the infections in the last three weeks before death.
It takes 22 days from the time of exposure to HIV for antibodies to be picked up in the standard HIV test. During that time, a person can still be infectious.
Because of that lag, there's growing support for a newer costlier test that can detect the virus earlier but takes several hours longer to get results.

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In The (HIV) News ...

Here's the significant snippets:

SOURCES: Gov’t to report alarming spike in HIV
-CDC numbers may be 50 percent higher than originally thought

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is mulling over when to release alarming new statistics showing that as many as 50 percent more people are being infected with HIV each year in the United States than originally reported by the government.

According to AIDS advocacy groups familiar with the CDC, middle level officials at the disease prevention agency have quietly confided in colleagues in professional and scientific circles that the number of new HIV infections now appears to be as high as 58,000 to 63,000 cases in the most recent 12-month period....

Two sources familiar with the CDC, who spoke on condition that they not be identified, said CDC officials have said privately that the higher numbers of HIV cases appear to be driven by more rigorous and accurate HIV reporting by the states of existing cases rather than by an actual increase in the number of new cases.

New federal rules requiring states to keep track of the names of everyone who tests positive for HIV took effect in most states in January. The new rules came at the same time the CDC announced an initiative calling for widespread HIV testing of most adults in the United States during routine doctor visits as well as hospital emergency room visits.

Although mandatory reporting rules have been in place for AIDS cases since the beginning of the epidemic in the early 1980s, mandatory reporting for HIV cases did not begin until recently. In past years, CDC officials have said they based their estimate on the number of new HIV infections on projections and extrapolations from the number of full blown AIDS cases as well as HIV cases obtained by a sampling of hospitals, clinics, and anonymous testing sites, among other places...

“There has been a de-emphasis of anything gay by the administration,” he said. “They have focused mostly on testing, which is fine. But you still need education and prevention programs, and you have not seen an increase in funding for that.”

Jim Driscoll, a Washington adviser to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and another former member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, known as PACHA, said he has heard from people familiar with the CDC that officials were considering releasing the new figures on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1.

“But the word we’re hearing now is they’re leaning against releasing such bad news on World AIDS Day,” said Driscoll. “There’s some talk of them releasing the new figures during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, when the fewest possible people will be paying attention.”

Read the full article here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday Moment Of Zen

You can either live in constant fear or accept that invisible cows are always lurking nearby. Think about it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday Spotlight

Now that we've been open for over 7 months, there is so much video posted on You Tube it's ridic. Some of them are well done, shot with a proper video camera and decent lighting, and some are nausea inducing shaky cell phone crap shot from the 3rd floor balcony. I probably won't be posting any of those, unless someone gives such a stupendously bad performance that they transcend the limitations of shitty cell video and distance. And that's always a possibility. Be that as it may, there are literally hundreds of videos from various events, parties and performances. So every Saturday until I run out, I'll be posting the best, the worst and hopefully the most entertaining selections from our video vault.

For the inaugural posting however, I'd like to show you some pretty good video shot during the Nico & Adrian Spring/Summer 2008 fashion show we hosted back in September. Lest you lose all faith in me, the video opens with some very attractive female models, but simply sit back until about the 1 min 30 mark and you'll be treated to a cavalcade of hot man/boys with no discernible body fat in various states of undress. Plus there's a plethora of pec-tacular coffee/cocoa colored skin to keep me happy for weeks. I'm just sayin' ...

Friday, November 09, 2007

My RealAge

I clipped off three years. I guess I can still fudge on my Manhunt profile ...

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Low unsaturated fat
Medication use
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Thursday, November 08, 2007

If You're In NYC This Weekend ...

On Thursday, November 8, Housing Works Thrift Shops will launch its fourth annual Fashion for Action event with a benefit at the Rubin Museum in Manhattan. The VIP kickoff reception will be hosted by Rashida Jones from NBC’s The Office.

Fashion for Action is a three-day sale of $1 million worth of designer merchandise, at 70-80 percent off retail prices, to benefit Housing Works, which provides services to homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS.

The sale will be held at Housing Works Thrift Shops' flagship store (143 W. 17th St, New York, NY) from November 9–11. Sale hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on November 9 and 10, and noon to 6 p.m. on November 11.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Help Wanted


Reply to:
Date: 2007-11-02, 10:36AM EDT


Ed Note:
Well, at least you'll be smarter than your boss ...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Names Sweetie, Give Me Names

Did a party tonight for the opening night of Cyrano de Bergerac on Broadway. Up until this afternoon I thought it was a movie premier and not a Broadway show. And considering I'm usually up on the general buzz in entertainment here in New York, I'm not expecting anything resembling a hit. Still, it was apparently noteworthy if for no other reason than it's the Broadway debut for Jennifer Garner. She of the lamentable movie Daredevil and the horrid follow-up Elektra.

Garner is playing the beautiful but strong-willed Roxane and Kevin Kline is playing the title role. Daniel Sunjata takes on the hapless, handsome and not-so bright Christian. And for the record, in person Mr. Sunjata has the handsome part down. Damn! The man is gorgeous!

The party went really well. Open bar, pasta and chicken buffet, relatively warm finger food etc. There was a string quartet on stage during dinner. That was a nice touch. Mr. Jennifer Garner was at the opening and the party to show his support. Kevin Kline was a no-show.

I gave Glenn Close her own plate of hors d'oeurves. And some cupcakes.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Howl-oween

Oh, the humanity.

The People Have Spoken

As I've stated many times, I'm getting tremendous enjoyment from the current crop of dance shows on television. Unlike some people, who professes his love for Marie Osmond only to focus on how he looked during his own melodramatic swoon, I was truly afraid I had seen Marie drop dead before my very eyes. (Even though Marie totally let me down the night I managed brother Donny's concert and she was scheduled to be in the opening night audience. Alas, she pulled a no-show, and dashed my pathetic if unapologetic hopes of meeting her.) But despite the fainting scare, I've been truly enjoying this season of Dancing With The "Stars". And even though I snarkily question the shows' relatively loose definition of Star, it seems that America has decided that they would rather watch a couple of over 40 year-old ladies they've actually heard of entertain them than a 20-something nobody with a decidedly chunky butt. OK, true but mean. But it appears that America finally decided to ask the question I've been asking for over three weeks now:

What the fuck is a Cheetah girl?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday Moment Of Zen - Sonic Boom

This is a photo taken by Ensign John Gay (I know) of a F/A-18 Hornet breaking the sound barrier. No hidden meaning. Just cool.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Went to work at 3:30 pm Saturday. Got home at 6:40 am Sunday. Jet just fell out of bed. Stupid doggie.

More later.

OK. Had some coffee, a hot meal and a hot shower. I'm feeling better if not a bit out of sorts. We had a very busy Saturday night on it's own, but we had a bit of extra pressure because the owner was in town entertaining yet another important business contact. In the last few weeks we've hosted the presidents of two major record labels as well as the CEO of a Universal-ly known media group. Last night, it was international media tycoon Rupert Murdoch who came in for dinner. I'm not sure why "the Rupe" was in town and what in the world his interest was in an over sized karaoke bar, but I don't know all the ins and outs of the owner's financial arrangements nor do I particularly care. It's not my money and never will be. It was enough that my employers most definitely cared that things went well. And apparently, they had been stressing out a lot of the other managers all afternoon. Phone calls and text messages were flying. By the time I arrived at work, the other manager I was to be working with for the night had worked herself into a total frenzy. And she seemed to be intent on passing her mania on to me. She just kept talking about how this was a crisis and that was going wrong and this person was late and that person wanted some sort of special arrangement and how her phone hadn't stopped ringing. I responded by listening to her mad rantings at length and then smiling and assuring her that it would all be fine. I'm sure she thinks I'm a complete asshole.

But you know what, it did turn out totally fine. Everyone got sat at a desirable table, all the food came out hot, looking good and in a timely fashion. The entertainment was terrific, the energy was positive and the stress level, although high, never got out of control. People did their jobs. As I believe they can and they will. It's why I don't understand why a competent person would allow herself to be completely twisted in knots by a situation that is totally manageable. All you need to do is trust yourself and show the people around you that you are expecting their best. They usually give it to you.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kaletra Is Good For Your Brain

Does this mean I can't blame being a dumb ass on The AIDS?

At the third week, all ten patients had reductions in viral load in their CSF. Of the eight patients who continued to the end of the study, all had undetectable viral loads in both the blood and CSF at week 24. The researchers conclude that Kaletra does appear to reach the brain at high enough levels to shut down HIV reproduction.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Lucy, You Can't Be In The Show

Big doin's down at the club this week..
Fred and Ethel are helping me work up one of their old vaudeville routines, Mrs. Trumbull is watching little Jetty, and that crazy redhead is scheming to ride a horse across the stage while on roller skates.

But seriously it's the official unofficial start of the event/holiday/party scene here in NYC. And we have two weeks of pretty big bookings starting tonight and ending next week with Halloween. Then we get a day off followed by six more days of bookings after which the office Christmas parties should be revving up. It's exhausting and exciting and hopefully highly profitable for all involved.

Tonight kicks things off with a free concert performance by none other than the lovely and talented Alicia Keys. It's being sponsored by Heinekin and promises to be quite a scene at the door as only invited guests of Alicia Keys and Heinekin will be allowed in. I do love standing at the door and not finding some self important nobody important enough to get me to lift a finger to get him or her on a guest list. Many people in this city have an over-developed sense of entitlement. And I'm just the queen to take them down a notch. I do these things for the betterment of us all.

Meanwhile, I'm taking the lead in making sure that hospitality and VIP arrangements for Alicia Keys are done right. Of course, we received her backstage rider the morning of her appearance, so I'm afraid she won't be getting her six packets of instant oatmeal. I hope it doesn't affect her performance.

UPDATE: Alicia Keys just took the stage. She's very pretty. I've been here 12 hours now. This is the first time I'm truly satisfied with how we've taken care of a celebrity performer backstage. Her security, dressing room and kitchen/hospitality staff did a great job. She got her instant oatmeal.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday Moment Of Zen

The Great Puppy Escape

Your mission, should you decide to accept it ...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fucking Brilliant

111 male members of Improv Everywhere meet and do some shirtless shopping at the 5th Avenue Abercrombie & Fitch store:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Advice For Someone Who Tests Positive

Wednesday's post and Randy's comment in response to it got me thinking. While it's been over 4 years since I confirmed my HIV diagnosis, I still vividly remember the week it happened and the months of doctor's appointments, blood tests, uncertainty and worry that ensued. I received some rudimentary individual counseling and sought out more extensive group counseling on my own. This was enormously helpful and I highly recommend it. That article got me wondering about people who are newly diagnosed and the support they may or may not get from friends, family and their community. Specifically, I'm wondering if, like the article I republished, any of you remember what was particularly helpful or sensible or comforting advice that you received from a friend, a boyfriend or even a doctor or your mom regarding HIV.

I'll start. Not surprisingly, the best piece of advice I received came from my friend Neo. He was the first person I thought of when I got my diagnosis and the first person I told that week. His advice, for which I will be eternally grateful, was that I should resist telling anyone else at first. Not The Ex, not my other co-workers and certainly not my boss at the time. I didn't know how good that advice was then, but I took it, and in hindsight it was invaluable. I've since heard many a horror story about people who have broadcast their HIV status to someone they believed they could trust, only to have it lead to harassment on the job, eviction from an apartment or the disintegration of a relationship.

Besides, no matter who you are or how much you think you know, an HIV diagnosis can be gut-wrenching to say the least. As Neo pointed out, the diagnosis is just the start of a long journey. There are many decisions that have to be made and a lot of issues that will need to be addressed. None of these decisions are necessarily cut and dried, and it's helpful to take your time and come to terms with who you are, how you feel and what direction you want to take things. Mucking things up by involving people who don't need to be involved makes it infinitely harder to sort out.

Obviously, because I was a single man at the time, I didn't have to face telling a boyfriend or partner, and I'm certainly not advocating covering up an HIV diagnosis from someone you're sexually involved in. But I do recommend that in the case of everyone but your own doctor (assuming he or she hasn't diagnosed you) that you wait before sharing this news. Learn to live with it a while and make some decisions about who needs to know and why. Until the day comes when being HIV+ is a curable condition, or the discrimination and irrational fear against me and mine comes to an end, it's best to come out of the HIV closet a little more cautiously. For your own sake if no one else's.

Readers ....?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Checking In

Just a note to let you know I'm around. I have several unfinished posts from last week that I'll clean up and get on for next week. Promise. This week and next have been pretty busy at work. We are currently slightly understaffed (especially for the busy holiday season ahead) and we're getting ready to roll out a new menu. I'll explain in another post how much extra work that can be. That is, if you're a manager who actually does anything to earn a paycheck. But that's another post as well. Last night, I basically ran the floor as a manager by myself with the help of a very competent hostess. It was Saturday night in Times Square, and while we weren't packed to the rafters it was ridiculously busy. I did a lot of swearing and pointing and serving and several people were physically shoved out of the way, but we got the job done and no one was hurt. A win if you ask me.

Today is the start of my weekend. I've been up for about an hour and have yet to turn on the TV or music of any kind. It's a crisp, fall Sunday afternoon and the silence restores me. I made a spectacularly good cup of coffee. Jet's getting a long walk to make up for my long hours at work the last couple of days, followed by a rawhide that he will take a couple of hours to gnaw down to the exclusion of everything else. But first, he's getting an overdue bath.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Worth A Read

Offering Advice to a Friend Who Tests Positive
By Jim Pickett

I heard from a friend the other day, someone I had not spoken to or seen in quite some time, years actually. We just hadn't been in touch, not due to a lack of friendly feelings for one another; rather a result of the different orbits in which we travel. A little younger than my 41, he's gay, really funny and super smart -- a great guy.

He was looking for some advice as he had just tested positive for HIV.

This was relayed to me in a voice message. I had not answered my phone when he rang, as the number from which he was calling was coming up unknown -- he had blocked it. I listened to his voice, and despite this news, he sounded fine, he sounded like himself, but what he said really struck me. I felt sad that this had happened to him, and was a bit shocked, as I guess one always is, when a friend who has navigated the mine field for so many years comes up positive. As it turned out, his last negative test was at the end of 2006.

We played a bit of phone tag over the course of more than a week, and finally connected over a recent weekend. My friend had lots of questions. He wanted to know what I thought about his t-cell count and viral load -- both his first. Ah, you always remember your first, don't you? They weren't great, but not catastrophic either. He wanted to know about the meds -- what I thought about "hitting hard, hitting early" and the side effects. He wanted to know if I thought he needed to get started.

He wanted to know if the meds were going to make his face sink in, and give him "the look." The prospect of wearing HIV all over his face was not appealing.
And he wanted to know if he would be able to lead a normal, happy life. And he wanted to know how long he might expect to live this normal, happy life, if indeed normal and happy were possible.

He was worried, concerned, and not to put too fine a point on it, scared.
I listened and offered him my empathy, "expertise", and sense of humor as I tried to reassure him that he was going to be okay, he was going to get through this, and right now he simply needed to think about taking care of himself mentally and emotionally while allowing himself to go through the phases of grief that invariably come with an HIV diagnosis.
"Above all, be patient and kind with yourself right now," I told him.

I also gently suggested that while he didn't need to tell the world he was HIV-positive, and that disclosure was a very personal thing that we all must deal with in our own way and in our own time, at some point he would need to "tell" his insurance company. He had been paying for this initial blood work and doctor visits out of his own pocket, wary of putting it on his insurance and having them find out his status. I told him I understood how he was feeling, but the cost of his care and treatment needs would certainly put a huge burden on his bank account, and would be unsustainable. That's what insurance is for, hello! While many Americans have crappy insurance, I knew his was not.

Now, none of this is remarkable, right? Many of us have been down this road, are on it right now, thanks. My advice was nothing special or earth shatteringly original. My jokes had been told before. Of course, for my friend, all of it was completely new, and thoroughly overwhelming and frightening. Remember? But again, we've all been there, bought the t-shirt, and can now recount funny stories around the campfire about how we thought we were going to DIE TRAGICALLY in those initial days -- boy, were we drama queens!

He would and will survive. There will be some dark and confusing days ahead of him, pangs of regret and worries that do not pass, bouts of nausea and perhaps some explosive diarrhea, but he will be alright.

What is illuminating to me in all of this is the fact that my friend is a medical doctor, with a great salary, a roof over his head, friends and family who love him, assets, and stability. He has his health, and will likely be able to keep it with the access his position in life affords him in terms of high-quality care and treatment. And hello again, he's a DOCTOR. He can understand all this stuff better than most of us, right?

A large percentage of people who test positive for HIV have none of these things, are not supremely situated to take a hit like this. With the CDC, policy makers, the medical establishment and many AIDS service organizations in a headlong rush to eliminate counseling and consent in a misguided effort to expand HIV testing, and test, test, test, test, test, TEST, it is the INDIVIDUAL who is forgotten in the hysteria.

My friend.

Testing positive for the virus that causes AIDS is still a big deal, even for someone who seemingly has everything he needs already in place.

This article was provided by Test Positive Aware Network. It is a part of the publication Positively Aware.