Sunday, August 31, 2008

Greetings From Buffalo

I spent a bit of my time this weekend helping my technophobe family work out some of their computer problems. Aside from the aforementioned internet service I decided my Mom couldn't go another minute without I also took a look at her printer, which she insisted wasn't working. Last time this happened she had gone so long without using the printer that the ink had simply dried up. I doubted she would make that mistake again as she clearly knew it could happen. She didn't. This time somehow the printer that's hooked up to her machine was no longer the default printer on her system, so nothing would print unless you manually forced it to, something that wouldn't be figured out in a million years here. I tweaked her settings and all was well.

This afternoon I took a ride out to my younger sister's home deep in the suburbs of suburbia and helped her renew her anti-virus software and sign herself up for an online poker site. While i was there I re-assured her that the computer wasn't a magic tunnel whereby someone could reach through and pluck her credit card information from her purse and that as long as she didn't sign up for anything by using her credit card, chances were pretty slim that she would be charged for anything she didn't want. But apparently her desire to play poker online superseded her fear of The Internets.

Yesterday I had the great pleasure (seriously) of going out to breakfast with my Dad and three of his four brothers. They apparently meet twice a month on Saturday to argue about who among them has more money, who among their acquaintances has died or is hospitalized, and generally dish the dirt on missing friends, relatives and each other. An activity I as a gay man was quite comfortable with. Considering my dad's six brothers and sisters are all still living and the oldest one at the table that day was (I think) 85 years old, I considered it a privilege to be included. I'm thrilled to report that all of them (while wrinkly) seemed to be in good spirits. My 85 year old uncle was eager for his once a week bowling league to begin next week. Encouraging. Will I be bowling in 40 years? Will they have an old gay single seniors league by then?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

One Crisis Averted

Arrived safe and sound at Buffalo International Airport (HA!). The flight was delayed almost an hour as they "replaced and installed a part" before take off. Good thing I'm not afraid to fly at all.

I lasted exactly one day before I cracked and installed a new internet service provider for my parents. Apparently, nothing was wrong with the old service provider except that there was some kind of billing snafu and when my mom tried to settle it with the helpful NetZero customer service rep in New Delhi, she ended up getting her service cancelled. Let's hear it once again for outsourcing US jobs, people PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT! Mom decided that since she was getting an all-in one cable/phone/internet package "soon" that she would just do without until then. AS IF! In any case, once I doped out that the equipment was all fine I signed them up for 6 months of dial-up service at $10.00 a month, and presto sex-change, we were back in business. Which instantly made me the coolest uncle ever for my poor AIM-deprived 14 year old niece. That, and some mall-crawl time where I let her spend $50.00 maximum on whatever she wanted since her birthday was earlier this month. She wisely headed straight for the sale rack and also had the sense to pick out something for the upcoming fall school year, rather than something for now that woud be no good in a couple of weeks. Her good genetic heritage was shining through.

I've been in touch with a few people from work, and it seems that they are moving forward getting paperwork filed with the intent of reopening, but it could be as long as two more weeks. Still no word on when or how we would be compensated for the current lost wages. My dad slipped me some spending money the day after I got here, which at 46 years old is a little sad. But I took it anyway. Somehow, I figure they owe me. Someone must.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wave Your Little Hand and Whisper So Long Dearie

Planned for a longer post but I'm pressed for time. I went to a Gay-A meeting almost every day this week, and I'm leaving with a printout for some WNY meetings should the need arise. I'm hoping while I'm gone the mess at work gets somewhat straightened out or at least resolved so I will know for sure if it's time to move on when I get back. If you want to leave comments, I will get them in my personal email, and as god as my witness, I will find a way to update the blog while I'm gone, but it may be even more sporadicer (hee) than usual.

Ready as I'll ever be.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I am officially on vacation. The difference between yesterday and today being that I don't have to go in to work at all for another entire week, but this time it was scheduled on the calendar. And I still haven't been paid, so it's a vacation in the broadest sense of the word. It's hardly very relaxing to be off work and not really know how or if you are going to pay the rent in a week.

But I had planned a nice long visit with my family in Buffalo, and tomorrow I fly out of JFK for a quick flight across the state. As if my stress level isn't high enough, I got a rare evening phone message from my mom last night, informing me that they no longer have internet service AT ALL, so maybe I would want to bring my laptop. As if the fucking thing magically hooks up to some internet satellite orbiting Buffalo. I called her back this morning to gently explain that a laptop doesn't do any good if there's not at least some wireless network to hook up with. Then I told them they were evil people and I didn't appreciate this sick plot to drive me mad. And I wasn't really kidding. What the fuck am I supposed to do without internet service for an entire week? Seriously, if I had known I would have shortened my visit by several days. There's absolutely nothing for me to do after 2-3 days in Buffalo, and I can only entertain myself so much as my now kind of elderly parents repeatedly nod off and finally go to bed for good at midnight.

I haven't even left yet and all I can think about now is how much this is going to suck. And that sucks.

I'll say goodbye tomorrow.

UPDATE: I got a couple of work e-mails suggesting that the powers that ain't me seem to have expectations that we'll be re-opening. I'm still doubtful but ... also, I may have figured out a way to get a dial-up connection in to my Verizon account. Say a prayer.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hooker/Hedonist Benjamin Nicholas On The (Now Defunct) HIV Travel Ban

First off, getting into the states as a foreigner isn't always an easy thing. Thanks to a little internet research, it's evident that we don't let a whole lot of people pass through without asking them to jump through some hoops. Hell, the USA discriminates against those who are poor, routinely denying Visas for simply not having the means to get back to where they came from. All of this process is in place to not only keep the USA safe, but to continually stabilize our population with the variety of melting pot culture we're accustomed to. Sure, we're a country founded on immigration, but keep in mind that it was highly controlled and by legal means.

Think about it: Is allowing someone into our country with a debilitating, communicable disease a good thing? Would we put up the same anti-discriminatory argument if it was someone with Bird Flu or Polio? Are we giving HIV a hall-pass because slick pharmacological advertising has brainwashed us into thinking it's now a manageable lifestyle?

Believe what you'd like, but HIV is not manageable. It's not as easy as the ads in the pages of The Advocate would have you believe: One simple pill a day and life is back to normal. That's pie-in-the-sky bullshit and if you think for a second that people aren't still dying on a daily basis thanks to complications from HIV and AIDS, you're as dilluted (sic) as dishwater. A total cure is light years from being found and a vaccine for the existing uninfected is at least 25 years away from realization (or so says the Bill Gates Foundation).

So, with that in front of me, I say keep them out. Why do we need to take even greater risk as Americans, all in the name of 'equality.' This isn't about equality. It's about grandiose, radical-PCism from people who have no real grasp on reality or self-preservation. You might call it cold-hearted, but when push comes to shove, a survivalist mentality isn't a bad thing.

First of all, his entire first paragraph is so clearly based on a decided lack of anything even remotely factual, that it almost negates the entire argument. If he had done even "a little internet research" he would know that in the years 2002-2006 the average yearly number of immigrants entering the US would be close to 2 million people. And this figure does not reflect the latest (2006) estimate of 33.7 million non-immigrant visitors (requiring visas) that passed through our gates. So his insipid comments about how difficult it is to travel or immigrate to the US and how it somehow "keeps us safe" or is part of some cagey and well thought out government plan to "stabilize the population" makes him and everything he says afterward sound idiotic.

Then as if to add insult to idiocy, he goes on to compare HIV, a virus that can not be passed on via casual contact, to Bird Flu and Polio. Aside from the fact that it's an asinine comparison, he's pre-supposing, (I assume) that this is another example of our (suddenly) brilliant border policy, whereby some sort of super secret polio screening has been taking place for the last 40 years, or perhaps there is some kind of Polio/Bird Flu/Hantavirus screening built in to the metal detector at airports. If only it could detect pompous prostitutes with a dubious grasp of the issues, we'd be getting somewhere.

HIV is only communicable if you have unprotected sex with someone carrying an active virus, if you receive their blood, or if you share IV drug needles with him or her. That's it. HIV has nothing to do with attending a medical conference. HIV has nothing to do with visiting the Grand Canyon or taking in a Broadway show. HIV has nothing to do with laying your weary head down on a comfy hotel pillow or enjoying a great meal. HIV has nothing to do with visiting your family and hugging your mom.

The (now struck down) HIV travel ban had nothing whatsoever to do with keeping Americans "safe" and it very much was an issue of equality. It was about the government hating gay sex and using fear to punish those that it deemed less than desirable. There is and there never was anything "risky" about allowing HIV+ human beings (that BN so callously has decided should be "kept out") to enter this country and take a vacation or visit family or see a doctor, or simply suddenly stop walking in the middle of the sidewalk, look up and annoy the fuck out of me as they take yet another picture of the God-dammed Flatiron building.

Whether or not my virus is (in his woefully uninformed opinion) manageable has nothing to do with the travel ban and everything to do with his obvious fear of HIV and his attempt to wrap what amounts to blatant bigotry in an envelope of fear-mongering and anti-gay self-hatred.

Dumb hooker.

Friday, August 22, 2008


So the speculation is the conversation went something like this:

Stupid Bakery Employee: OK, you want that cake delivered?

Office Manager: Yes, Can I have a message written on the cake?

Stupid Bakery Employee: Duh, Sure. What would you like?

Office Manager: "Best Wishes Suzanne" and underneath that, "We Will Miss You".

Stupid Bakery Employee: Darrrrrr, OK.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

On Hold

We've been pretty much closed for over a week now. After the raid by the Mayor's Task Force the owners can't seem to get the permits and paperwork they should have had all along to make it legal for us to open. And I have been told by my sources in the NYPD that if we do open up illegally, the manager on duty can look forward to a trip to the precinct and possibly jail. Not only are the police coming by periodically to check out our status, Making sure the door is locked, looking in to monitor activity, yesterday afternoon they were actually stationed right outside our front door for the duration of the shift. They gave the GM a citation because there were cigarette butts and trash on the sidewalk out front. In Times Square. So now we're being harassed by the cops and we're not even open. This doesn't bode well.

To make matters worse, the owners missed payroll on Monday. This is the second time in less than 6 months, and that was when we switched our pay day from Friday to Monday. Significantly, they've offered no explanation or apology to the staff or management as to why they missed again or when they intend to rectify the situation. As each day passes with no work and no pay I am less and less inclined to think this will ever be resolved to where we open for business. Although meetings still seem to be taking place behind the scenes and no one has yet to completely throw in the towel. I do have a job interview this afternoon before I go to "work".

As a way to illustrate, I got a text message from my boss last night saying he was waiting to hear from the owners but we might have some good news. Then he sent a follow-up text canceling tonight's event. Then another calling a management meeting for today at 4, with the caveat "no bad news". And then this morning I got up to a text message putting that meeting "on hold" awaiting new information.

At this point, all I really want to know is if my paycheck is coming and when.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Run Suede, Run!

Tom was biking in to work after having another stage his of root canal completed. Actually, at first Tom rode all over the lower west side looking for The UPS delivery center so Tom could pick up a package that he missed delivery on. But once that was sorted, Tom began pedaling up 8th Avenue heading for work. Just past 34th Street, who should walk directly in the path of Tom's bicycle but Suede, from this season's deservedly oft-maligned season of Project Runway.

Tom hates Suede.

OK, hate is too strong but Tom really doesn't like Suede. Aside from the fact that Tom thinks that Suede is a no-talent hack as far as design goes, Tom also thinks that faux-hawks are a pretty played out hairstyle, and certainly should absolutely not be worn by men over 30. Tom won't even go there about faux-hawks dyed blue. Tom also can't stand people who speak about themselves in the third person. Tom thinks it's absolutely ridiculous. And even if it was cute once or twice, which it's not, Tom thinks Suede looks like a complete idiot doing it week after week on national television. Especially when there's nothing else particularly interesting or remarkable about Suede.

So all Tom could think of when he spotted Suede was how much fun it would be to run Suede over. And then Tom could pin Suede down with his front tire and explain that single names are only tolerable on people if you earn them over decades, like Cher or Elvis, and not when you decide to just refer to yourself that way, like Suede. And Tom would instruct Suede to knock it off, because it's annoying.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sunday Reset

Aside from the fact that today was one of the most spectacular days weather-wise of the entire summer, I set about renewing my spirit any way I could think of.

So after 2 Gay-A meetings, a really long bike ride, an unsuccessful quest to do some photography, a trip to the gym to perk up my man-boobs and an extended 3 1/2 hour late night session scrubbing down the bedrooms in my apartment until they shined like the top of the Chrysler building, I am sweaty, my nails are dirty, I have a hallway full of trash that needs to go down and all I want to do is collapse in the bed.

But I do feel at least a little more mentally prepared to face this week's potential shit-storm of bad news, canceled parties, disgruntled staff and leaky ceilings.

So I guess there's that.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

In The News

I may or may not have a job in the near future. I've linked to a bunch of press, good and mostly bad, to provide an explanation.

Nightclub impresario Steve Lewis gives a pretty spirited defense of our nightclub personnel as well as an accurate recounting of the murder and what an aberration it really is.

New York Magazine repeats Lewis' sources claiming we're "in trouble". This dovetails with a televised statement from the Police Commissioner of New York City, claiming he has ordered a "very focused" look at the business. I've personally heard from other sources that "Commissioner Kelly wants you closed". Not surprisingly, a lawsuit related to another death "linked to" the club sixth months ago has just been filed.

The details of that incident, as well as the lawsuit, were recounted in the New York Sun. Now I understand that filing a lawsuit in this country is easier than getting herpes, but can someone explain to me how we (as a business) are responsible and liable for a knife fight that results in a fatal stabbing that takes place six blocks away? It seems that not only is our security responsible for finding and ejecting grown men and women bent on having a "gang fight" in a public place, but we are apparently responsible to see that all parties involved arrive safely to their homes, wherever that may be. Do we have to tuck them in and kiss them good night? Ridiculous.

The upshot of it all is we weren't able to get whatever paperwork and permits we now suddenly need to have after passing numerous inspections over the last year and a half. So after all the staff arrived and set up the restaurant for dinner, we ended up being closed for the remainder of the weekend, and everyone was sent home. We are supposedly opening up for a small private event on Monday night, when all our paperwork will be in order and on file.

I remain skeptical, and have begun checking out new job prospects.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I've Been Violated

As expected, I got a delightful little visit from the Mayor's Task force last night. This is the agency that visits you whenever your place of business receives any kind of negative press, like, say, a murder. The task force is comprised of inspectors and officers from the local Police precinct, FDNY, Health Department, Buildings Department and I believe there's one guy who's only job is to lube you up and kiss you before the major ass-raping you're about to get from the city.

Of course, as soon as they walked in the door there was some sort of a problem with our fire alarm system. I'm not being coy, I don't know how the damn thing works. If it goes off and there's a real fire I get everyone out. The End. But whatever was malfunctioning had them threatening to close us down immediately. We finally compromised, after much wrangling, and partially closed so we could at least finish the private corporate event that was in progress up in the Penthouse.

The assault on my hole continued, the most egregious bit of ridiculousness took place when they claimed we were in violation of the Cabaret Laws, in that we're not licensed for people dancing. I won't even go in to how completely and utterly six kinds of retarded the Cabaret Law is, it would have to be a whole other post. But by way of illustrating, what they saw as a violation was when a few corporate suit and tie types were enjoying some karaoke entertainment. Apparently, while they were going wild and singing along to some karaoke track, they had the audacity to throw in some movement, perhaps some arm gestures, a spin, or maybe a re-creation of the video that the song was from. This, in the eyes of the task force, constituted dancing and was deemed illegal.

When all was said and done, I was left with 10 (count 'em, 10!) violations, over half of which were for some sort of licensing paperwork I have no control over, as well as another two for the exact same No Dancing horror we perpetrated on New York City. Still, at least they had the decency to write all the summonses (pictured here) for the same court date, so's I can bend over and grab the courthouse railing all at once and they can just pull a train on my doughy white ass. Maybe I'll get some hunky bailiff to do the honors with the lube and the kisses.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Let's Clean Up

Dirty boy takes a bath at an Ohio Burger King. No word on whether he's packing a Whopper or a Whopper Jr.

On My Back

Rockefeller Center, Night.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I'm Not Speaking ... To Anyone

The events of this week, along with still being bummed about losing Jet, have made me feel lower than a fat cat's engorged belly. I slept until almost 1:30 Sunday afternoon and spent most of the rainy and overcast day noodling around the internet and watching crappy television. I was looking to be distracted, or at the very least, not think about anything for a little while.

I've spent the last few days trying to be strong and together for all my co-workers, many of whom were quite devastated about the murder. It goes without saying they were mourning the senseless loss of life, but it should come as no surprise that they also struggled to try and make sense of the fact that they had worked and spent quite a large amount of time with a young man who would do something so violent, so unexpected. Many of them reported they cried for the first time during news footage showing him being walked in handcuffs from the police station to jail. Also, many employees underwent understandable but extensive interviews from the police department, and if you've never had the pleasure it can be as much fun as my aforementioned root canal. Even if you know you're not a suspect you can end up feeling guilty.

The result was we reopened on Friday with an air of sadness and extreme tension, which I did my best to manage if not dispel. Some of the staff, particularly the bartenders who worked with "Ronnie" every day, found that they couldn't even start that first shift. So we allowed anyone who needed it to get out of work for the day, with no consequence. Most of them returned on Saturday. One bartender opted to quit.

People's reactions, and their way of dealing with the stress of all this have been a real eye-opener. One of my employees wanted to know if he would be financially compensated for the loss of income the murder had caused him. Other employees called in on Thursday wondering if there was any way, during a murder investigation, that they could pick up a paycheck or the previous weekend's tip money. It was infuriating and sad. And it's all left me quite drained, and feeling sorry for myself as I spent the day focusing on the fact that after I spent the last few days holding everyone else together, I really don't have anyone to do that for me.

Except for you, of course.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


I'm going to link to the NY Post for this article, because believe it or not, it seems to be pretty factual as far as I know to what actually happened. And while I'm giving props to the dipsticks that usually write for the Post, the story is actually off the AP Wire.

If you don't read the article, it turns out the the tragic death of the missing young lady was caused by one of my employees. For the record, he was a bar back, a current employee, who previously worked for the building when it was owned and operated as another club entirely. To say that it's a shocking turn of events would be an understatement. And while I can reveal more now that an arrest was made, I don't want to blurt out anything that would prevent justice from being served. If you know me, you know I believe, assuming he is guilty of this crime (and a confession seems pretty guilty) that this young man needs to go to jail. No question.

I will say it's truly bizarre to know that I've been working with someone for almost a year and a half, since the day we opened, and find that he has committed, is capable of committing, a possible sex assault and murder. To say that there were no signs previously is a massive understatement.

What I can be up front about now, considering what I knew about the crime scene, where the body was found and how she may have disappeared, is that I was pretty certain that this crime was committed by someone who had an insider knowledge of the premises. And that pointed to an employee of mine. Many people are speculating about a great many things, but I knew there was no way that a "stranger" with an intoxicated woman in tow would have found his way all the way up to the utility shed on the roof. There were far too many doors (locked and unlocked) and stairs for someone to "wander" up, even if he intended to commit an assault, a robbery, what have you.

I can also say that if the police time line for the crime holds up, I spoke with a person who ended up committing murder about 1/2 hour before he actually did it, and while I wasn't "on duty" at the time, I was certainly on the premises when he killed this poor girl. And that is six kinds of creepy.

Much is being said in the press about club security, and second guessing about what could be done to prevent this. But I truly believe this is not something you could have security for. Security is there to check ID, prevent/break up fights, hopefully keep people from falling down stairs or tearing the towel dispenser off the wall. It would be wonderful if they could anticipate this kind of horrible act and stop it from happening, but I don't think that's very realistic. How do you anticipate one human being attacking and murdering another in a public place? How do you then assume you could predict a trusted employee with no criminal record could be holding this kind of violence inside him? I don't think anyone could.

It's a tragic act, and a single mom is grieving the loss of her daughter. I know she may never find comfort, but I hope she at least gets justice.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Can't Reveal Much ...

But this video and report from Channel 7 is not entirely accurate. I can tell you I was right there when police discovered the body. It's a tragic story. I hope the police find whoever did this quickly.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sunday, August 03, 2008

C.D.C. sez "D'oh!"

MEXICO CITYThe United States has significantly underreported the number of new H.I.V. infections occurring nationally each year, with a study released here on Saturday showing that the annual infection rate is 40 percent higher than previously estimated.

The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that 56,300 people became newly infected with H.I.V in 2006, compared with the 40,000 figure the agency has cited as the recent annual incidence of the disease.

The findings confirm that H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, has its greatest effect among gay and bisexual men of all races (53 percent of all new infections) and among African-American men and women.

Read More ...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

I'm Published!

I was surfing the interwebs after work tonight and lo and behold, what do I spy? An article in HIVPlus magazine (and all about the SIN NYC Pride March at the end of June. As I'm scrolling through the article, a re-cap by David Llewellyn of the events from that afternoon, I find that the article is accompanied by a lovely set of four pictures, three of which were taken by none other than little ole' me. I gave David and SIN full permission to use the photos however they wanted, and I was hoping that maybe one would make the magazine I had heard was running a story, so three pictures makes me absolutely proud and thrilled! I mean it's just a little niche mag that a bunch of gays and random other degenerates will flip through while waiting for the results of their HPV test (that is, until they start to think that if anyone were to spot them reading a magazine about HIV that someone would assume that maybe, you know, they might actually be HIV+, at which time they swap it for a leaflet about crystal meth addiction and treatment), but still, it's a real magazine and those are my pictures so, "Have some photos published in a magazine" you are hereby checked off my things to do list. Although, a photo credit would have made this absolutely perfect *cough* douchebags *cough*.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Summer - time?

I can't believe it's August 1st already! Summer is half over and all I've really done so far is work and cry. And while work will continue I have no intention of letting the summer go by without taking some enjoyment out of my favorite time of year. Look for me to blog more often during August. I'm planning some day trips by bike, I have movies to catch up on, I can't wait to see the revival of Hair in Central Park and as much fun as I can cram in to one month. I'm out.