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.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Monday Moment Of Zen

If you want to instantly feel better about yourself, I recommend you run, do not walk, and tune in immediately to VH1 and their latest reality show America's Most Smartest Model. This is what reality TV was invented for. This is my new favorite show bar none. "... to prove people that models aren't stupid ... and we have an unbelievable idea of what's going on around us. People die to be us, bro!" Or something.

In the meantime, enjoy this moment of video Zen ...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Leave A Penny, Take A Penny

It was a good news/bad news trade off in the results of my quarterly blood work last week. The bad news ain't really so bad, although I've confirmed with hard numbers my new alcohol-free diet has caused some metabolic changes. I've put on almost 16 lbs in just a few months. The most weight I've gained at one time in decades. I said decades. I now weigh a scale busting 162 lbs. My cholesterol has shot up to just over 200 as well. The only mitigating factor is my so-called "good" cholesterol is still quite good. However, with my family history of absolutely wretched heart problems I'm going to have to get that under control.

On the good news side, make that great news, the iron supplements I've been taking worked and I'm showing no signs of anemia any more. My blood sugar, liver and kidneys are all A-OK. They are apparently screening me for Hep C now as well, and that was a big no. My viral load came in at undetectable again and my T-Cell count was at 831. That's good for those playing along at home.

In short, I'm officially healthy, fat and happy. Except for The AIDS.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

You Can't Use The Back Door

There's a sentence I don't find myself saying often. But you do what you must when working a very busy, very difficult Live R&B event at work. I don't even know who the headliner was, some rising star at Atlantic Records, but enough people did to swamp the front door and guest list areas to create a huge backlog. The Fire Marshalls and police showed up to warn us about blocking pedestrian traffic. The front door people, not used to such an aggressive crowd, were challeneged to say the least. And one of the other managers was pretty much reduced to tears. That's been happening with her more and more lately, and I'm concerned she's just about at the end of her rope, work-wise.

As for me, I put in a 16 hr. shift, as I now need to come in Tuesday during the day to accommodate our new financial managers. Payroll needs to be done and filed by Tuesday afternoon. I followed that with a full management meeting with all departments and the owners. That was the first full meeting we've had since we opened. You can decide for yourself how silly that seems. Then I went straight in to preparations for the R&B concert. I originally planned to leave right after the headliner took the stage, biut there were so many problems I was unable to extricate myself. Shortly after the concert began I was walking back by the corporate offices and spotted about 10+ people coming up the back stairs. When I inquired what they were doing I got a litany of excuses, the most popular being they were part of or with one of the bands. I made a half-hearted attempt to stop them, knowing I wasn't going to try to push 10 people back down a flight of stairs and out the door. But I had to at least make them work for it.

I rightly deduced that someone at some point had figured out we had a security issue at the back entrance and was using it to funnel guests past the guest list as well as the door cover charge. So I took up a position at the top of the stairs between the backstage and the corporate ofiices and basically shut down the shenanigans. I was wildly unpopular, as people soon realized that almost no excuse was going to get you free run of the back entrance. At least until one of the party promoters came to me and let me know she needed to bring in some big shot executive from Geffen records and a guest. For him, my back door was magically re-opened.

Monday, October 01, 2007