Thursday, June 28, 2007

Gay Pride Weekend

Not so much. In fact, I skipped the festivities this year. On Friday, I was busy running a party for the premier of Bruce Willis' latest Die Hard movie. Given his advanced age I believe the full title is Die Hard: My Prostate Is Enlarged. In any case a couple of thousand peeps went to Radio City for the premier and then they bounced over for an after party with us. It was supposed to be 400 people in attendance but it was actually well over 500. To say I was busy is an understatement. As such, I can only drop a bunch of boldface names on you. I never actually laid eyes on most of them. In addition to Bruce Willis, Demi showed up as well (didn't see her). Ashton was there (didn't see him). Rumor has it so was Rumer (Wouldn't have known her, but also didn't see her). I did spy actor/director Kevin Smith pretty early on. And I did in fact take a brief elevator ride with Ice-T. We chatted about how the VIP area these days is frequently so far from the main room it's no longer fun. Actually, he chatted. I was relocating a couple of chairs for a VIP table. But I smiled and said "right" a couple of times. He was quite nice. I confess, I didn't recognize anyone else. Someone pointed out Kate Beckinsale to me. Wouldn't have known her either, although I will say she's quite beautiful and she's got an amazing pair of legs. The party turned out great.

Saturday I was scheduled to work the late night again, covering for someone going out of town for the weekend. It actually worked out OK for me because I opted to go in later Saturday night which gave me time to pop in to Neo's belated wedding reception. I could expand on what went on there but in a nutshell, I chatted with some old co-workers and acquaintances. I didn't have a thing to eat or drink. I passed out a couple of business cards and caught up with some people I'll probably never see again. I got bored and actually wanted to get in to work. I worked the late night with a new manager in tow, giving him tips about crowd control and how to deploy and use our security men. We didn't have a single incident until the end when some sort of a fight broke out on the balcony level. No one was hurt or thrown off, so I didn't get involved.

But I did end up getting home around 8 am, and by the time I relaxed with some television and took Jet out to the dog park it was going on 10 am Sunday morning. I didn't think an afternoon parade was a very realistic goal. I was up and around by about 4 pm, and while the rest of the gays were parading shirtless down 5th Ave. and getting ready to dance the night away, I busied myself taking laundry down in a never-ending quest to have a clean apartment. The rest of the day was spent lounging on the couch and eating. Lots and lots of eating. But that leads me to another post entirely. If you substitute ice cream for alcohol is it still just an addiction?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I Dare Ya ...

This Wednesday (June 27) is National HIV Testing Day, sponsored by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA). Cities around America will offer free HIV testing to encourage early diagnosis and stress the importance of routine testing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 180,000-280,000 Americans who are HIV positive and don't know it. Those of us living with with HIV or AIDS can help prevent others from getting the disease.

If you are in NYC and would like to know where you can obtain free HIV testing and counseling please don't hesitate to contact me. If you or someone you know has recently tested HIV positive and is in need of resources for answers about medical care, living with HIV, or you're just in need of someone to talk with confidentially, you can contact me by e-mail at any time. Getting tested can be a scary step. Not knowing can cost you your life. Get tested. Get the facts. Take control of yourself and your life.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Revenge, Years In The Making

Several years ago I worked for a fairly large music venue here in NYC. It was right in the middle of Times Square on 42nd St. At the busiest, we were able to host a standing room only crowd just over 1,000 people. A sold out show that was seated for dinner stood at around 500. With that size house we were able to book acts every night of the week. Obviously, no one who could fill a stadium or even a 20,000 seat auditorium, but we managed to book our share of middle of the road celebrities and the occasional impressive act. I'm not someone who's all that impressed by celebrity, being a devout egalitarian and all. But I'm appreciative of someone who has a storied musical heritage or just a certain "I'm still here" longevity. Most of our bookings were handled in house, meaning we had a booking department that filled the calendar, organized dates, signed contracts. My job was (and still is) to execute the booking and fulfill the contract. Every so often we would provide the space to an outside promoter who booked an act, did PR, invited guests etc.

So it was on one such occasion I had the displeasure early on in my employment to come to know one such producer. She was on the far side of middle aged, 5 foot 2 and about 95 lbs. And every stick-thin pound of her was pure, pinched-faced nastiness. I have never met anyone who was so habitually and universally rude to everyone she encountered until I met this woman. Starting with the day we met and she started barking out orders to me and my new staff without even taking a moment to introduce herself or dispense anything but negativity and frustration. No one, it seems, from the hosts to the bartenders to the cooks to the backstage personnel ever did anything to her liking. And this was not to be an isolated incident. Whether she was on the premises as a producer or a customer, you could always look forward to multiple demands to see a manager and a litany of complaints. As a customer she was intolerable. I finally took to ignoring her requests to lodge complaints whenever she was in house as anything but a producer.

As a producer, she was a joke. Her client list was and continues to be populated by a rag-tag collection of has-beens and never was. Although she would occasionally book an act one had actually heard of, they were always lodged firmly in the twilight of a not so impressive career. And it was her ticket sales and her guest lists where the the truth about her producer skills would be told. More often than not, her ticket sales were so lackluster, that the bulk of the audience would be made up of free ticket holders, in an attempt to "paper the house". Her guest lists would often be larger than her paying customers. And while a lot of her free tickets went to record labels and other music venues, the people that actually used the tickets were usually interns and front office personnel. Meaning the "important" people dumped their tickets off on the flunkies. She would always turn in a guest list with at least four or five "names" on it. Patti LaBelle was a favorite. Patti was routinely listed as a VIP guest at this woman's bookings. Patti never came. Nor did anyone else of note as a musician or producer. Her VIP tables usually stood empty until halfway through the show, when we'd dump them off to someone that was willing to at least buy some food and a round of drinks.

All of this made her imperious attitude, her demanding behavior and her downright snotty lack of manners all the more infuriating to me, and I was always at a loss as to why I was forced to put up with it. I usually just avoided her at all costs when she was on the premises, and frequently sent a security man or door host to answer one of her summonses. I either fixed her problem or ignored her depending on my mood and how busy I was. To say I didn't miss her when I resigned would be a massive understatement. So you can imagine my horror when she began sporadically popping up at performances and events at my new job. I vowed then and there that I wouldn't allow her to get a single bony claw in on the production end of this gig. And I kept an eye out to make sure none of her clients appeared on our booking calendar.

This week she emerged from her crypt once more, during an R&B industry party we've been hosting once a week. Typically, she asked to see a manager at the door when she wasn't seated and her name didn't appear on any one's guest list. Not surprising, considering these performers are up and coming rather than foot in the grave. They aren't looking for a Pity Tour booking. In response, I let her marinate at the host stand for a good half hour. I confirmed with the door host that she was good and irritated before I even approached her. I thought that might be enough to satisfy me and intended to find her a seat if I could. So I finally walked over and called out to her by name. I introduced myself, as she obviously had no idea who I was or how we knew each other. She was exasperated and asking for a seat for herself and her important guest. I had never heard of him. But I still made the rounds and looked for seating. There genuinely wasn't any. Then I started to create some seating from an unused table and some chairs. It wasn't in a good location, and I was sure she would instantly complain and try to grab something front and center. It was then and there I decided that I wouldn't suffer another second with this self-important little crone.. I stopped creating a space for her and returned to the host stand. Whereupon she pretended to be taking a cell phone call and completely ignored me. I know with absolute certainty that no one was on the other end of that call. If she was trying to get the upper hand in this battle she seriously over-played herself. When she finally deigned to get off her fake phone call and acknowledge me I casually informed her that there was no seating and there was nothing I could do. Her malnourished face fell. She asked to speak to the other manager, who she knows by name but has absolutely no relationship with. I refused, explaining that he was "busy". A word she practically choked on when she repeated.

And with that I spun around on my gay heel and turned my back and walked away. All the tension in my body positively melted away, and I'm sure a satisfied smirk was on my face. Just because I could, and in order to seal the deal, I pulled aside the main host from the party. I put my arm around her and pulled her in close:

"I will love you forever if you make sure that horrid woman has absolutely no hope of finding a single seat in this venue for the rest of the night."

"If it makes you happy..."

"Honey, it makes me ecstatic."


The lesson here kiddies is a real life illustration of that age old adage. Be careful how you treat people. You never know when you're dealing with a gay man with a malicious streak and a very long memory. A lesson a certain Ms. Jill Newman would do well to learn. Loathe you, mean it!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mystery Solved

I found out the origin of the Secret Service business card. It belongs to an old acquaintance. I hadn't told you the story of how my roommate lost her PR job and took a position as a waitress to keep a roof over her head. As it turns out, her new job as a waitress is in a bar downtown that I logged a few years in as a bartender in the early 90's. Although my old manager has died and the former owners have apparently passed on the day to day business to other family members, enough people are still connected to the bar that remember me. And it seems the occasional friend or customer stops by and is informed of the connection to my roommate. One such person has gone on to a career as a Secret Service agent. And there you have the origin of the business card. My version where a Secret Service agent breaks into my home and leaves a business card is much more appealing. Oh well ... In any case I took down the post where I speculated about the card and posted it online. I wouldn't want a former friend and current Secret Service agent to have to explain why his business card is prominently displayed on the blog of a HIV+ gay middle- aged man of questionable moral character.

I've been trying for weeks to figure out why I can't transfer music from my computers to my Mint Chocolate phone. It finally occurred to me it might be a format incompatibility. After just a bit of digging, I confirmed the problem. In the interest of not geeking out, I shorthand: mp3 no, WMA yes. So I took a few minutes finding a free converter and spent quite a bit of time today converting files and loading up my phone with music. It's the small victories. I also found a company on-line that will print enlargements of digital photos to be used as framed posters. I had picked out a photo that would be perfect for the re-painted living room. I paid $40 for a 24X36 enlargement. According to the web site, I should receive it within a week. I'll link to the site after I get my print. Assuming they do a good job, I'll have one-of-a-kind art in my apartment. I'm a middle aged gay like that.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Public Service Announcement

European drug maker Roche has recalled all batches of the drug Viracept because of contamination in the manufacturing process. The drug at contaminated levels could possibly cause cancer. Viracept is not manufactured by Roche in the United States, Canade or Japan. Thousands of HIV+ people throughout Europe are taking Viracept, and it is widely used in Africa. I'm bringing you this information as I do get many European readers that could help spread the word. Also, AID for AIDS has put out out a call asking for donations of any unused Viracept (as well as any other anti-retrovirals) to be sent in so they can distribute it to people that need to replace their contaminated supply. They are also asking for any unused viral medication for hepatitis.

We now return to my rather uneventful life ...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Somewhere, There's A Pigeon ...

with a horrible limp. I came across this bit of carnage while walking Jet the other day. I looked for a pigeon with a peg-leg and a crutch, but no such luck.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I Give Good Letter

My note to the powers that be:

Hello all,

I realize some of you are out of the country or on Blackberries so I'll be brief. As requested, I wanted to inform you that beginning this weekend I no longer will be available to work the late night "night club" hours. While I do have many concerns regarding door policies, security, financial compensation and staffing, I'm confident these issues could be addressed and solved going forward. What I'm unwilling to continue to ignore however, is the crushing amount of hours I'm apparently expected to work on any given day. In case anyone isn't aware, at minimum, all the managers worked at least an 18 hr. shift on Saturday. I came in at 2:30 in the afternoon on Saturday, and my shift legitimately ended sometime after 8 am Sunday morning. It was the same story last week, and if things are left as they are, I have every reason to believe this would be repeated on Friday and Saturday this weekend, with the addition of the late night concert/performance this Friday. I never agreed to work these kinds of extreme shifts and in my extensive experience managing live music and nightclub venues, I have never been asked to, except in an emergency situation (an example being the five days I opened and closed during the World Trade Center destruction). Please understand, I am not afraid of hard work, and long hours usually come with a management job, but I feel what I'm being asked to do is beyond the pale. It has already had a negative impact on my physical well being and my personal life, and while I'm willing to do whatever I can to assist in making S-------T L--- a success, I'm unwilling to jeopardize my health. I plan on working my restaurant shifts this weekend, and I will do all I can to ensure that the late night venues are set and ready to go. Or, if you would rather have more of a management presence on the late night, I will be happy to fill in there, and adjust my restaurant hours accordingly, until you arrange for a more permanent solution.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Thick Plottens

Checked my work e-mail before bed and found this little throwdown from my boss (the Managing Director) to our boss (the owner):*

*Names have been redacted for privacy reasons.


Subject: Problems on the horizon


There were quite a few situations from this past "Club Night" Saturday.

A guy pulled a knife on security in the elevator while being escorted out.

A bottle of Veuve clicquot was dropped from the 4th to 3rd floor narrowly missing a bottle service server.

P----, the promoter was having his staff tell our guests at 9:30PM that we were closed for business for the night.

A late night guest started to physically fight with S--------, luckily T--- from security was there to intervene.

Several fights occurred through the course of the night.

The NYPD came and spoke to S-------- and told him they will be back at the next event with the FDNY to inspect the premises and do a head count, besides looking for any possible violations.

In NYC, if there is a violation found, the premises is shutdown immediately, the manager is automatically locked up, in this case for the entire weekend at the tombs, until Monday.

As a result of this, all of the manager staff will not be present to work any promoter event.

Please notify R----- R-----, your head promoter, of that fact. Hopefully he can provide management for Spotlight Live for all upcoming promoter events, starting with the Latin night this week, and going forward.

I and the management team will of course be there to work our regular restaurant shifts as usual.

I am sorry to have to deliver this information to you, but I felt you should know this ASAP.




I can't wait to get the dirt tomorrow.


Oh, and on another subject, Neo has come back to town from London, where he's going to school and gotten married. For those of you who are not longtime readers and don't know of my one-sided love affair with Neo, I've dug up some pertinent links. I've been invited to the stateside wedding reception at the end of this month. I still love Neo, although not in the way I did. Or thought I did. and I'll make every effort to be there and wish him well. Along with the man he married. His name is Derwood I believe...

Monday, June 11, 2007

No Mas, Por Favor

Made it. Got home just before 9 am. Took Jet to the dog park, had some breakfast and passed the fuck out. Woke up around 3 pm 'cause the phone was ringing. I prayed it wasn't work needing me to sub in. I finally checked around 4:30, when I felt like if I had to, I could drag my ass back there. Fortunately, it wasn't work. I laid around on the couch watching movies, finally ran down to walk Jet and pick up some Chinese for dinner. Fell asleep again till almost 2 am. I was up 'till 6 when I finally passed out one more time. I dozed off and on today until I finally felt halfway human this afternoon. I ran out to catch the last half of a glorious afternoon weather-wise. Stopped in for a 10 min. fake n' bake. I may feel like death but I should still look fabulous. Popped out to the Home Depot for a quart of stain so I can freshen up the floors. Ran over to Bed Bath and Beyonce just to compare prices on a new table lamp I want but don't need. I already found the one I really want at the Depot but it's $80.00. I haunted the shops on 6th Avenue, mostly looking, but I had to cut it short. My knees are killing and I feel like I pulled a muscle in my lower left back. It kept flaring up as I shopped. I kept bending to stretch it but I finally gave up and headed for home. One minor detour at the Old Gravy where I picked up a new T-shirt and polo (red, I don't have one) and a pair of cargo shorts. They were all on sale for Father's day, total cost: $29.00.

Now I'm home and contemplating a quick dinner before I have to get settled in and get ready to do it all again next week. So needless to say I feel my weekend "off" was quite the bust. And unless they're in a real jam for next week, I don't think I'll be available to help steer the late night anymore. Of course, this all could be moot. We had a visit from a captain in the NYPD on Saturday. They are decidedly unhappy that we are morphing into a nightclub on the weekends. We've already had problems with sidewalk traffic and a couple of minor fistfights. We've been threatened with visits from the NYFD, building and health inspectors if we don't cut it out. Should be interesting ...

Saturday, June 09, 2007

See You On The Flip Side

I'm about to march headlong into hell. I'm heading in to work this afternoon around 2 pm. we have about 100 reservations on the books before 5 pm. Mostly these are children's birthdays, teens going to the theater and silly tourists who don't know the real fun happens after 10 pm. All told, we were at well over 325 reservations by last night. And that's before we finish dinner and open up as a nightclub after 11 pm. we're expecting another 1000+ people after that. My shift is not likely to end until sometime after 7 am. That's 17 hours if you're counting at home. To say that I'll be tired afterward is a gross understatement. To say that everyone ought to be very careful how they approach me and what kind of problems they cause me is a nice way of saying: DO NOT PISS OFF THE DUTCHESS.

If you know what's good for you.

Have a good weekend. See you after.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Time and Money

Thanks Universe! Sort of. As requested, I've been offered more money in compensation for my time on the late shift Saturday. And while they were at it they threw in an offer for this Saturday, another club promotion, as well. And while I greatfully accepted what amounts to a bribe, upon reflection I've decided that I'm going to be unavailable for future bookings. At least as far as these all night club promotions go. Not that I'm unable to work them. The issue is two-fold: One, I have never been compensated at a rate I thought was fair for the amount of hours I've been working. Two, adding an entire 6th shift on to my already busy work week would push me well into an 80 hr. work week on a consistent basis. And there's no way they would offer me enough in compensation and bonuses to make that kind of a schedule worth while. In my old age and sobriety, I'm finding that my quality of life becomes an important factor in my decisions. I need time for other things. I need other creative outlets. I need a little time every few days to take a long walk with my dog and think. You can't always translate those things in to a paycheck. Don't get me wrong, if I was offered a ridiculous amount of money to put my life on hold for a while I'd probably sell out. But I'm being offered a little extra money for a whole lot of work, and quite frankly, it's just not worth it.

So for now I'll help run the restaurant. I'll try to make some sense out of the mess that the events department creates. I'll do Human Resources. I'll do payroll. I'll sort out their calendar and party planning system. I just won't have anything to do with the nightclub work. At least until someone pays me to.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

No Budget

Worth watching for the dance breaks alone ...

The Best Laid Plans

My plan was to get to a Gay-A meeting on Monday, since my first day off, Sunday, was pretty much shot from the extremely long, extremely late Saturday night shift. I dutifully walked across town to 9th Ave. only to find that my regular Gay-A meeting had been replaced by some sort of an election. Apparently, the day to day business of running Gay-A takes some sort of voted on body of former drunks, the details of which didn't interest me because I really felt like I needed to attend a meeting. My experience from the other night, being semi-surrounded by people handling their stress through drinking had left me feeling bad. Not badly enough, obviously, that I would take the time or effort to find another alternative that night, instead opting to ditch the meeting and snag a Chinese dinner. But I did make plans to get up early the next morning and try to get to a noon meeting I've been meaning to try. I also wanted to make a concerted effort to get back to the gym, at least for a round of cardio if not for a full workout. Unfortunately I set my alarm for 10 pm instead of am and when I awoke at 12:45 this afternoon I knew my plans would all have to be tabled for another day. It was all I could do to catch up on my e-mail and get the dogs walked and fed. Yes, I said dogs. I'm finding the care and feeding of Mr. Tails is falling more and more on my shoulders. I could just tend to Jet and leave Mr. Tails to sit locked away in his room, but anyone who knows me knows I couldn't. It's just too mean.

In any case, between the fact that I'm a little frustrated at the lack of personal time I'm finding and the fact that I'm feeling under-compensated for the Herculean work we've been doing running the restaurant, I arrived at work in a completely foul mood. It was made worse when it became obvious that our event staff doesn't have a clue what their function is or how to successfully go about it, and we once again had to spin gold from the poop that was a lack of coherent information. For example, tonight's private event was to take place on the main floor or the Penthouse, and was to begin at 5:00, 6:00 or 6:30, and end at 9:00 or 11:00, all depending on which e-mail or event order sheet you consulted. And we still made it work and work well. I definitely need more money for this.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Work, Work, Work

Haven't posted in almost a week. Wish I had something dramatic to relate, but the truth is I'm working all the time. When I'm not at work I'm hanging out with Jet or puttering around the apartment. I got most of the painting done in the living room. I will finish tomorrow as the forecast calls for rain showers. Perfect painting weather. I'm still trying to figure out a plan to put a fresh coat of polyurethane on the floors and keep Jet off it while it dries. I don't want to varnish a coat of dog hair to the floor. I can't wait to show you some pictures. I'm very happy in my living space these days.

Work is going OK. It's more hours than I bargained for. Had I known I would have asked for more money. Last night (Sat) we were open for business and had over 200 covers on the books. That's normal. But after midnight an outside promoter held an event and drew another 1200 people. We had all four bars open on four floors. We had bottle servers and barbacks and bartenders and about 15 security guys all working to try and keep things going smoothly. So basically we served a Saturday night dinner crowd and than a nightclub crowd back to back. We were open till 4 am. By the time we got the rooms emptied it was going on 5. The other managers took to sorting out all the open checks and credit card tabs. I handled closing down the bars and cashing out the registers. It's tedious and time consuming. Some people get totally intimidated dealing with $40,000 in receipts and cash but I find that I don't really think of it as money. Certainly not my money. So to me it's just numbers. And they have to add up right or I need to figure out why they don't. It's that simple. Still, there's no real fast way to count the registers and reconcile the credit cards, not if you want it to be accurate. Which is why I ended up getting home at 9 am this morning. So late the morning grocery stores had already opened, and I came home with an egg & cheese bagel. I took Jet to the dog park while I read the paper and sipped some coffee. My intent was to get some painting done and go to bed but I found myself falling asleep after inhaling the bagel sandwich and some chips. I ended up sleeping until after 3 pm. Jet has taken to laying across my chest and licking my face when he wants me up. He'll give up and go away if I push him off but he's hard to resist.

I woke up exhausted, my legs and feet were sore and it was raining. I still managed to finish painting the ceiling and drop off a bag of laundry. After a burrito dinner I dropped off to sleep on the couch. Again, I wonder if this is old age or hard work or both. I decided to go with it and woke again around 1 am. After cleaning up the apartment and feeding and walking Jet (again in the rain) I put a coat of primer on some metal pipes that need painting and organized my bills for the month. Then I cleaned up the kitchen, packaged some recycling and washed and dried all the painting supplies from the last few days. By the time I checked again it was after 4 am. I finally had to take an Ambien (god bless you, Ambien) to knock myself out. It worked so well I actually fell asleep in the middle of composing this very post. After another 8 hours of rest my body aches have healed themselves and I feel pretty good. Today's agenda includes some more painting and cleaning, I have to pick up that bag of laundry and Jet needs his food store replenished. I also need to get to a Gay-A meeting. The extremely late shift and the fact that I actually stepped in and bar tended the other night brought back a lot of memories of my drinking. It left me unsettled and I need to work it out. I'll tell you about that tomorrow.