Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meanwhile ...

I meant to write about the 96 year old photographer and artist who is resisting a buyout from the Carnegie Corporation, although her reps did float a $10 million figure back in October, she now claims she absolutely will not accept their offer to relocate to a similar or superior apartment at their expense. As she tells the NY Post: "They'll have to drag me out. They'll have to use their bare hands." And so the Corporation has decided to force the issue and arranged for the state to issue eviction notices to the remaining rent-controlled tenants.

Here's what I'm thinking. She's 96 years old. Can't they... you know ... wait?

Johnny Hazzard Stuffs It In

Hot as fuck porn actor and all around Renaissance fag Johnny Hazzard makes a YouTube vid with a simple kitchen recipe for dried figs. I actually think he does a great job for what it is, but quite frankly, if he showed up at my house with a lame-ass gift like a jar of stuffed figs I would immediatelty thank him sweetly while calculating the distance between him and the garbage can. Then I would totally blow him.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Coming Attractions

From The Ashes will be getting a site re-design. Hopefully right at the New Year or very soon after. I have most of it planned out in my head, hopefully translating it to the web page won't take too long. My design skills are largely self taught.

Look for a whole new direction for your fearless hero and the story so far, as I finally clear up all the cryptic clues I've been dropping. Two new roommates are moving in to my Castle High Atop Second Avenue, and I expect that will shake things up around here as well.

I will continue posting through the site re-design, and will try to come up with a year end wrap-up for you in the next few days. Although I'm notoriously bad at that kind of writing, all the cool kids do it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas From Gov. Paterson

The proposed New York State budget for 2009 includes this bit of fuck you. A $65 million cut in state funding to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP).

ADAP pays for anti-HIV drugs and some services for people who may be employed, do not qualify for Medicaid, and are unable to afford private health insurance.

Like ... I don't know ... me.

read more.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

God Bless Us, Everyone

No. I haven't gone all religious in my old age, it's just a phrase that pops in to my head repeatedly during the holidays. I found myself too cash poor to afford tickets for myself and Riley to go see the family, so we'll be spending Christmas just the two of us here in New York City.

I'll have an apartment full of people after this weekend as both of my new roommates will be moving in. I've spent the last week going through every storage space and closet throwing out anything useless or broken that I've been "meaning to" fix or use. If it hasn't happened yet, chances are it never will and I'm just getting rid of it.

I just finished a late breakfast of green eggs & ham, after which we opened gifts. One of us got new cookware and the other got a huge bone. Had I been on the receiving end of the huge bone it would have been a much better day, but life's not fair like that.

I'll be putting the finishing touches on today getting the apartment ready for the new arrivals. If there's time, Riley will be getting a bath as well. Tonight I'll more than likely take in a movie. Not too exciting, and I certainly wish I could have gone to Buffalo to hang with the fam, but it will do.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Chimp-mas

A chimp and a chump make popcorn for Christmas and the chimp freaks the flock out. Pretty funnee! -via Gizmodo

Monday, December 22, 2008


So this morning I wake up and check my email and what do I find?

Hey sexy,
@ what time u want to meet @ the gym?
What muscles will we be working on, beside our tonges & dicks?
hit me back when u get this...
Sent from my iPhone

Unfortunately, I don't know anyone named Ray.
So. Not. Funny.

Go Figure

Got an e-mail last week from the graphic artist that does a lot of the work for SIN NYC. He wanted to know if I could send any pictures of Anne Chilada that I had taken during the Holiday party I told you about. The lovely and talented dragstress will be entertaining this January during the monthly UB2 Bar Night that has found a new home upstairs at the venerable Stonewall Inn over in the West Village. Of course I was thrilled to be asked and sent along three different images that I thought might be suitable. I didn't say it, but I had a feeling that one of the photos would translate well. And wouldn't you know it, this weekend I got a copy of the flyer that was put out to promote the party:

I don't usually make it to the bar night as it involves two things I'm not very good at, drinking (well, I'm good at that but, well ... you know) and talking to people I barely know. But I happened to be (actually) talking to people at the SIN Sunday Brunch I went to a couple of months ago, and it turns out, quite a few people go to the bar night that don't drink at all. Most people, especially alcoholics, assume that everyone drinks like they do. It's not until you actually stop drinking you find out that's not at all true.

If you embiggen the flyer and scroll down to the bottom, what do we have there but the often requested, highly coveted (by me) photo credit. Don't take much to make me happy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Feel Better Already

I like the sun. I like light. I am always raising the shades and trying to brighten whatever room I'm in. The only time I don't is when I'm depressed or in a truly bad mood and just want to sulk. Then I light some candles and play some music and fart around on the internet until I feel better or the day ends and I can go back to bed. Fortunately, these days, those days are few and far between.

Nothing puts me in a better mood than a bright blue sky on a warm and breezy afternoon. I will cross the street just to walk on the sunny side.

Today is the winter solstice, which means it is the shortest day of the year. The least amount of daylight. That should make me sad, but in reality it means that the worst is over for another year. And now every day we gain just a little bit more daylight. Imperceptible at first, but suddenly one day in late January you will notice that it's 5:30 and still not dark yet. And spring is just around the corner. As are bright blue skies and warm breezes.

Nowhere to go but up now.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Time To Purge

I'm relieved to report I finally found not one, but two suitable roommates. I've also made myself a minority in my own home, as I will be living with heterosexuals. Which, quite frankly I don't really mind at all. Some of my worst roommate situations and relationships have been with gay men. That's not meant to be a blanket criticism that gay men are all fucked up and high-maintenance. That may in fact be true, or it may just be true about me. I am more than willing to, in retrospect, acknowledge that some of my previous problems in living with gay men could have come from my alcoholism as well as the fact that I can be fucked up and high-maintenance on occasion.

And also that they were assholes.

So both roommates will be moving in next week sometime between Christmas and New Years, and while one of the bedrooms is completely empty and ready for move in, the other is full of my spillover clothes, blankets, Christmas decoration boxes and unsold comic books. All of which will have to be condensed back in to my bedroom or the storage shelves in the kitchen. So I'll be spending all of this week evaluating, sorting and throwing out all of my "stuff". Clothes I haven't worn, magazines articles I was saving to write stories about, books I have no intention of re-reading, all of it is potential landfill.

Plus the kitchen needs to be scrubbed from top to bottom, and now is as good a time as any. I have no plans to look for work this week as nobody worth worrying about hires during Christmas week.

Three people in this apartment (plus a dog) will feel very crowded if I don't make lots of room. But at least my housing worries are over now as my unemployment will more than cover my bills with everything split three ways. Now if I could only sell off that comic book collection I will kill two birds (space and money) with one stone.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'll Show You Mine, If ...

It looks a little thinner in this picture than it actually is. While it's not all "girthy", it's a tad more thick than it appears here. It's got those big balls at the bottom, which I purchased at a discount just this week. It's got bells but no tinsel, and birds have made their home in it. As you can see, Santa is both a top and a bottom. As it should be.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas SIN New York

Usually at this time of year I am completely booked and busy managing someone else's holiday party. But due to the economic meltdown I am all freed up to actually attend a few soirees. And while my people skills are still not what you would call advanced, at least I am no longer plagued by a crippling fear every time the prospect of being in a room full of strangers rears it's head.

Which is why a week ago Saturday I attended the holiday party for the East Village Gay-A group I belong to. It was a pretty good meeting and some OK food (I cooked) followed by a funny albeit pretty dreadful "show". In their defense, I had heard that their entertainment chairs had resigned less than two weeks before the party, so any show was slightly miraculous.

This past Saturday I had the good fortune of being free to join the peeps of SIN NYC at their holiday hoedown, and I have to say, it was an amazing party that put any other I attended to shame.

They rented a really cute space waaaay down on Bank St. in the West Village. Worked out great for me because I was close by taking a class, but it was practically in the Hudson River. Fortunately, it wasn't particularly cold that night, so I didn't have to fuck up my hair with a hat. I hate fucking up my hair.

Anyway, it meant that I had to get up and get going really early that day, as I finally decided the night before that I would be able to (read: could afford) make a pan of lasagna. I also managed to scrape together an extra 10 bucks and stop by a discount store and pick up an offering for their toy drive (more on that later). I felt a little bad that I had to go the discount route, that is until I saw two other toys in the pile that night from the exact same shelf I selected my toy for a tot. It's still charitable if it's budget, right?

The party may have been off the beaten path, but they did an amazing job decorating the space. Some cleverly hung divider curtains and some obviously smart planning meant there was a designated dining area, a lounge-y, food/buffet/bar and a dance floor. The dining tables were really pretty.

While the dance floor ended up more VFW hall but who cares, it worked.

Things took a decidedly upscale turn with the dramatic and timely arrival of a perfectly coiffed Anne Chilada, who gamely entertained the troops. Poor thing, always having to sing for her vodka ... er, supper.

Now pardon me while I rave, but if there was a single highlight to the night, it was most definitely the food. There was So. Much. Food! When I first arrived there was an area next to the bar for appetizers, a long table and a half for main courses, and a separate dessert table. They were just heating up dishes and sending them out when I plopped down my meat (HAR!) and zucchini lasagna. There was already a lot of food out when more and more people started arriving, each carrying a box or a bag or multiple bags of everything. Appetizers, cheeses, main dishes and cake after cake after pie after brownie. There was even the cutest "Candy Land" display already set up full of all manner of goodies. And anyplace that puts out Sweet Tarts for the taking is all right in my book.

And let me tell you, while some people went with the store-bought desserts, albeit three and four at a time, most of these these queens COOKED! And chopped and sliced and baked. The tables were absolutely loaded with food and there was still more coming in an hour and a half after the party started. I was totally gratified that my lasagna offering was absolutely scarfed down within the first half hour. That's the only part I don't like about cooking for a party. I tend to hover around my dish obsessing every time someone passes it up. No worries this time. It was a hit. Or rather the entire buffet was a hit. I had some delicious fried chicken, a piece of a giant hero sandwich, some fried dumplings, and I gorged on appetizer cheeses, meats, shrimp and fresh cut fruit. I was stuffed! Several people were manning the kitchen and the ovens as well as the buffet set up, but for the guys that handled the bulk of the work and planning, they did an absolutely amazing job. And I'm a little cunty so you know that must be true.

The bar was really well stocked (although I obviously didn't partake) and replenished with every new arrival. Plus a certain naughty elf made sure the holiday punch was good and "punchy".

And finally, I want to tell you all that in addition to making me practically roll back to the East Side, the SIN organizers announced a toy drive in conjunction with the party. It wasn't mandatory or heavy-handed, but they did announce ahead of time that the toys would go to families dealing with HIV/AIDS. And isn't it typical that a bunch of homos and those who love them, already with plenty to deal with in their everyday lives would take a few minutes and dollars out of the shopping budget to do this?

All in all I had a great time and took a lot more pictures, which I will post on the SIN photo page later. The music was great (that Joey is kind of yummy, no?), the food was to die for and the whole vibe was about as friendly and no pressure as a room full of fags can get. Thanks and well-wishes go out to SIN co-managers David and Chris T. as well as Anne, Mickeal and everyone who obviously worked so hard to create a fabulous night out for everyone at a time when one can easily lapse in to melancholy.

It was about the best party I've been to in years.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Long Day ...

Hit the ground running today. Took the dog to the store on his morning walk. Picked up the fixin's for a lasagna and spent the afternoon cooking. Went to a class I've been taking, the details of which I am almost ready to share with you all. You may or may not be surprised, depending on how well you read between the lines. After that I immediately went to a pot luck holiday party with all the SIN peeps. It was one of the better parties I've been to in a long, long time. I will have those details as well as some pictures tomorrow. Right now I'm kind of tuckered out.

Also tomorrow, I have a few appointments lined up to show the apartment. Hopefully, I will find a decent roommate or two and this will be over with. It's very draining and I just want it resolved.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Not So Fast!

Reports of my roommate search being over were decidedly short-lived.

The day after I reported that it was a done deal it was an undone deal. The young lady I had hit it off with never confirmed she was taking the space, and after a couple of days I decided to begin placing ads on-line again. I finally did hear from her, and it seems she was caught up in the economic cluster fuck and will either be downsized or relocated. Either way, she won't be moving in with me. Color me disappointed.

So the search begins anew and I have several meetings scheduled for this weekend. The only thing I have slightly in my favor is the fact that many leases for Jan. 1 are about to expire so I have a slightly more desperate pool to fish in. I'm not even looking for any long term commitments. In fact, it would fit in rather well with my plans if I can find a couple of foreign travelers or student interns to take a short rental and get lost.

All of this will be moot if I can't find a job in the next couple of months, and in light of the news lately, I'm not over confident.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Religion Is Far More Of A Choice Than Homosexuality"

Jon Stewart in an impressive and impassioned exchange with Mike Huckabee over the Gay Marriage brouhaha. Seriously, I got chills.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Any Way You Translate It ...

It's something about cleaning and a cake to the face and showering. I don't really care. After careful consideration and many, many viewings I have to say #3 on the far right is my favorite. Readers?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Checking In

I've been a little depressed and in a minor panic of late.

I have been having very little luck in finding a roommate to take my old roomie's place. As I said, considering how relatively cheap my apartment actually rents for you would think people would be lining up to move in, but I have been getting less than half a dozen responses per week for the last three weeks. It amounts to about one a day, and then with most of them, when I return the e-mail or phone call inquiry they never call back or follow through. I've tried to figure out if I'm being off-putting in some way but there's honestly no way you can tell what a cranky old fag I am just from my on-line ad.

All that seemed to change this afternoon when I finally met a young lady I seemed to have an instant rapport with. She's friendly and bright and seems to really love the idea of living here with the extra security of a dog to watch the house. Never mind that Riley's protection can be bought with a slice of ham. We sort of tacitly affirmed that the feeling is mutual and I expect that she will call me tomorrow to take the apartment. That will be a huge load off my mind.

Things are not so rosy on the job front. I have been sending out on-line responses to 10 -15 want ads every week, and where that usually would result (for me) in at least two or more requests for interviews, some weeks I'm not getting any. And I have a pretty impressive resume if I do say so myself. Truth be told, I've sort of lied by omission about the time towards the end of my drinking days when I bounced from job to job. No sense muddying up the waters with messy details that don't reflect on where I am now.

Significantly, I have been contacted by the majority of my old employees letting me know that a lot of them are ready and able to return to work any time, which means that my dearth of job opportunities have much to do with the ass falling off the economy and not my own job-worthy-ness. Everyone is out of work or working a crappy job for no money. Knowing that doesn't make my current lack of income any less stressful. Still, now that I've found what seems to be a suitable roommate, I should be able to at least keep current on the bills until a good paying job comes along.

On the bright side of that, I do have a preliminary interview for a job I would dearly love to snag at a new restaurant/hotel across the river in New Jersey. Unfortunately, it's a phone interview, and if you've never had the pleasure, they suck. The headhunter is in Chicago and I will be here in New York. We have a phone call at an appointed time during which she pulls apart my resume and fires a bunch of questions at me. All of which I have to answer without having a face to look at or the ability to gauge whether or not I am boring the crap out of her. I hate it. I am a very visual person, and I usually take cues from someone's face, body language and a host of other non-verbal clues to try and win the person over and give a good interview. A phone interview makes me feel crippled.

I've also been to the dentist again. I bet you thought I was done when my root canal was finally finished. I did too. But it seems that my dentist decided that I had worn away the enamel on my teeth where they meet at the gum line. It could be a side effect of years of drinking and whatever vitamin deficiency goes along with that. So I have a series of appointments set up where he will fill in all those open crevices with porcelain. It should prevent further decay and stop any sensitivity I have to cold foods and ice. If you ask me, I think my dentist has a crush on me and is inventing reasons for me to come in. I don't want to buy trouble, but I can't believe my ADAP insurance covers this many visits and this much work. But they have never asked me for a single payment so I guess I'll just enjoy it and flash my reconditioned smile.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Real Result Of The Arkansas Gay Parent Ban

"The measure was written to prohibit straight and gay people who are living together from adopting or becoming foster parents, but its real objective, child welfare experts say, is to bar same-sex couples like Shelley and Ross, 52, from raising children—even if it means youngsters who desperately need families will wait longer."

But finding potential homes for foster children is a continual challenge across the country—especially for children who are older and have special needs. Some 129,000 U.S. children are in foster care, and the only criteria should be who can best provide a loving, permanent home, according to Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

In a recent report, the non-partisan group concluded that a national ban on gay adoptions could add $87 million to $130 million to foster care expenditures annually because these children would then be living in other types of institutional care, such as group homes.

"On its face, this [Arkansas] law is just crazy," Pertman said. "I fear what will happen if other states see this as a model." -via Chicago Tribune (read more)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Nice WAD

Did AIDS Change America?
By John-Manuel Andriote

More than 500,000 people have died from AIDS-related illnesses in the US in the last 27 years - but has AIDS really changed the country?

The actor Paul Michael Glaser, who presents a Radio 2 documentary on the subject on Tuesday, has no doubt it has had a tremendous impact at a personal level.

Best known as Starsky in the long-running television show "Starsky & Hutch," Glaser said: "AIDS had a huge impact on my life and on hundreds of thousands of my fellow Americans."

Glaser's own wife, Elizabeth contracted HIV, which causes AIDS, from a blood tranfusion in 1981 - the year AIDS was first reported in the US.

"The fact that no one could pinpoint exactly where the illness was stemming from led to confusion and a certain amount of panic.

Elizabeth and her daughter later died from AIDS-related causes.

Among the archival and new interviews used in the documentary, Elizabeth Glaser's speech to the 1992 Democratic National Convention raised issues still being raised in 2008.

"Do you know how much my AIDS care costs?," she asked.

"Over $40,000 a year. This is not the America I was raised to be proud of, where rich people get care and drugs that poor people can't. We need health care for all."

By the end of 2005, nearly one million Americans had been diagnosed with HIV-AIDS since it was first seen among a handful of young gay men in 1981, according to the most recent figures from the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

But the figures do not begin to reveal the personal pain those who have been affected have experienced, or the prejudice they have had to endure.

Neither do they shine a light on the huge progress that has been made in managing - if not yet curing - HIV infection.

Early panic

In the early 1980s, Glaser remembers society took time to adjust to the new menace: "The fact that no one could pinpoint exactly where the illness was stemming from led to confusion and a certain amount of panic."

High-profile actors, performers and athletic stars, such as Rock Hudson, Liberace and Ervin "Magic" Johnson, and the involvement of celebrities such as actress Elizabeth Taylor, helped stem that initial panic.

A teenage boy from Indiana called Ryan White, who contracted HIV from blood products used to treat his hemophilia, also played a big part in changing attitudes.

He showed Americans what it was like to live with the health challenges and social stigma of having what many considered a "gay disease."

After his death in 1990, the federal government passed the Ryan White CARE Act, today a $2 billion program funding HIV-AIDS care and support programs.

Gay community hard hit

Without doubt, AIDS has inflicted a terrible toll on the gay community.

America's best-known AIDS activist Larry Kramer recalls: "I had kept a list of how many I knew, and when it reached 500, I stopped keeping the list.

"All of my friends, everybody was dead."

Cleve Jones, a San Francisco gay activist and co-founder of the city's first Aids service organisation, was outraged that friends and families "were too ashamed" to acknowledge the cause of their loved one's death.

Jones formed the AIDS Memorial Quilt in 1987 as a way of memorializing the fallen.

Today the quilt includes more than 40,000 panels for those killed by AIDS - but that represents fewer than one in 12 of those who have died from the disease in the US alone.

The tide began to turn against HIV-AIDS in 1996, when combinations of drugs were reported to have tremendous effects.

By 1998, San Francisco's gay community newspaper Bay Area Reporter made headlines across the country with its own headline: "No obits."

Lowered guard

With the promise of effective treatment, many lowered their guard against HIV, believing the expensive, toxic drugs would save them if necessary.

The upshot has been increasing new HIV infections, particularly among young African-American men.

Dr Marjorie Hill is director of New York's Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), the world's first AIDS service and education organization founded by Larry Kramer and a small group of gay men.

She notes a CDC study which found 46% of a sample of young African-American gay and bisexual men were HIV-positive.

"That's outrageous," she said. "That's unconscionable."

"We're not going out of business - because unfortunately business is booming."

Profound yet incomplete changes

If the US has not become completely accepting of people affected by HIV-AIDS, there have certainly been profound changes in the lives of those affected personally, in the gay community and in society at large.

The greater visibility of gay people in mainstream culture, and a more tolerant attitude in society has helped.

I have spent half my life reporting on the impact of AIDS in America and AIDS has certainly brought a new level of maturity to many gay people.

We had to learn what integrity means and to be yourself and not be apologetic about who you are as a gay person even when surrounded by straight people.

People with HIV today are more involved in managing their own medical care.

And AIDS advocates have struggled to ensure that people with HIV and those with other illnesses participate as advisors, and not as mere "subjects," in medical research.

Carries a stigma

But despite greater awareness, HIV still carries tremendous stigma in America.

People within the gay community are judging each other based on HIV status
Bob Bowers

Dr Hill said nearly half the women in a GMHC support group have not told their families they are HIV-positive.

She said: "They said if I told my family, my niece and nephew would not be allowed to come eat at my house.

"This is 2008. That attitude is ridiculous."

Yet it persists among many gay people, too.

Bob Bowers is a straight man who has lived with HIV for more than 20 years.

He said: "People within the gay community are judging each other based on HIV status."

He notes that if an HIV-positive man asks a "neggie" for a date, "they are not even going to consider it."

Assumptions still made

For many, including some medical professionals, HIV-AIDS continues to be associated with people who "look" a particular way, live in certain parts of town, and have a non-heterosexual orientation.

Dr Hill said: "I'm an African-American woman living in New York.

"In New York black women are nine times more likely to die of HIV than white women.

"I have never had a medical provider ask me if I would like an HIV test."

The question must be asked again: Has AIDS really changed America?

The answer is yes.... but.

Yes it has had profound changes, but it depends on whom and which aspects of the country you are talking about.

John-Manuel Andriote is a former Washington Post journalist who has been writing and researching HIV/AIDS for more than 20 years. His former partner died of AIDS in the 1990s and he has been HIV positive himself since 2005.

How Aids Changed America is broadcast on 2 December at 2230 GMT on BBC Radio 2.