Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A New Career Path

I've decided to change jobs.

In light of what happened over the Christmas holiday with the attempted underwear bombing of that plane in Detroit, I have decided, out of my longstanding desire to aid my fellow human beings and make a contribution to society, that I will join the TSA and become an underwear inspector for all flights heading in to the USA.

I have further decided that it would be best if I specialize a little more, so I will be relocating to a major air hub in South America, most likely Brazil, where I can hone my craft and become the best damn South American underwear searcher for possible bombs and ... er... stuff that I can possibly be.

I will not hesitate to sniff, pat, feel and, if the situation calls for it, lick as much South American underwear as I need to, for as long as I need to, until I am certain that the skies above the USA are safe for any and all travelers.

god bless America.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Upon Reflection

It was a bit of a whirlwind visit to my ancestral homeland but in spite of that, there were many interesting twists. I'm still digesting.

I'm happy to report that Cat is alive and well and thriving. Cat didn't fare very well as one of two cats at my niece's home, so he became a permanent resident at my parent's house. Surprising as my father has never shown an affinity for cats. But he's a fine looking fellow with a borderline dog-like personality. Best of all for a couple of older owners, cat doesn't need to be walked or have his poop picked up. And he wisely co-operated and allowed my parents to locate his litter box all the way down in the cellar near the furnace. Cat is fully grown and filling out, and the only danger that lies ahead for him is he may become Fat Cat some day. We tend to over-feed our animals.

The family is looking a little worse for wear. Everyone is in acceptable health, they just look a bit ragged. Pale and in desperate need of some moisturizer and a spa day. I honestly have been feeling very insecure about my own rapidly aging face, but next to these people, I'm gorgeous.

I didn't get to spend very much time with my niece this trip. We made plans to go see Avatar during the afternoon on Christmas Eve. There were only six people including us in the theater during our show time. Granted, it was 3:30pm on Dec 24th in suburban Buffalo, but I'm not seeing Titanic numbers here. I liked the film, but I don't think it's by any stretch a blockbuster. It tries to be too many things (War picture, Love story, Sci-Fi Action) and ends up diluting it's own impact. My niece simply said parts of it were silly and she didn't like the prolonged war and death sequences. If you don't appeal to teenage girls, can you do Titanic numbers? I don't think so.

On Christmas night, I got the strangest, most unexpected present of all. My brother ... hugged me. In the forty (mumble) years that I have been alive, that has never happened. I'm still trying to figure out what it means.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post Christmas ...

Back in NYC after a quick Christmas with the family in Buffalo. Happy to be back in my own apartment and reunited with Mr. Riley. He seems none the worse for wear. Unfortunately I returned to a rainy windy chilly city and the storm outside has made the apartment cold and uncomfortable. I intend to run out for some groceries and dog food and curl up on the couch with my boy.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow Day

Here's Riley and a Husky neighbor girl about to band up and double team another dog in "Operation Steal Squeaky Toy". This picture was taken around noon,and then later in the afternoon I went across the street to the school playground. It was covered in snow and the only playing going on was a father throwing snowballs to his little boy, and a couple of older teenagers and their Mom trying to build a good sledding run.

Granted, we were technically not supposed to be there. It's a playground with a sign on the fence that says "No dogs". But it was Sunday, so there was no school. And it had over 6 inches of snow if not more, completely covered. There is no equipment there or grass, just a giant paved lot with some basketball courts painted on. No chance with all that snow it could be used for basketball or baseball or even street hockey. So I was quite annoyed when the Park Ranger, who by all rights should be looking for Yogi, Boo Boo and a pic-a-nic basket, decided to ticket me for playing catch with my dog in the snow.

Mostly I was annoyed because the little dwarf decided to try and lecture me about how there was a sign posted etc ...

"Spare me the lecture and just write the stupid ticket."

At which point she wrote two of them. One for having the dog off his leash and one for playing in the playground. Of course, they will never be paid as I denied having ID and gave them a fake name and address. I threw them directly in the garbage after she handed them to me. Stupid Nazis.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


America's Best Dance Crew judge Shane (Y'awl) Sparks (Y'awl) was arrested Friday night and charged with felony molestation dating back to the mid-to-late 1990's.

It seems that Melvin (HaHaHaHaHa!) has been accused of multiple counts of committing lewd acts with a child (reportedly a girl under 14) as well as two counts of oral copulation with a person under the age of 16 by someone over 21.

In other words, he's a tiny, barely literate perv.

In Other News ...

The snow has started this afternoon here in NYC and it's freakin' cold! Including inside the apartment. Since all the news outlets are calling for up to a foot of snow and near blizzard conditions, the event I was supposed to finish out the week with has been canceled. I guess I'll just stay in, play video games, clean out my email and inappropriately touch myself.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Countdown To Christmas Update

Mr. Riley's hotel accommodations are complete and paid in full. Instead of a kennel he will be staying in a private apartment only two blocks from our place. The owner is on the ground floor and the apartment opens out on to a fenced in back yard that has grass and dirt and even a bit of AstroTurf. There are already two dogs staying there and by Christmas time Riley will be one of six rambunctious pooches, most of them also pit bull mixes. I took him by to meet the owner and see the space and Riley took off through the apartment out to the yard and spent the next half hour tumbling around with the other dogs. When we left I had to get him out from under the bed where the two bigger boys had chased the girl. He is going to have a great time and I am completely relieved.

One more Christmas present to go, and I have no idea what to get my father. When we were little he used to answer the same way every time we asked what he wanted for Christmas. "I don't want anything be good."

Maybe I'll tell him this year I am being good for him. It would certainly be cheaper.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Only In New York, Kids

Left the house this morning around 11:30 for a therapy session followed by an early call (early afternoon) for work. In between I had 1/2 hour where I stopped in to a Century 21 for some holiday shopping. Then I hopped on the PATH to New Jersey. I was bundled up against the cold with a T-Shirt, thermal shirt, sweatshirt and a scarf under my winter leather coat. I had my tuxedo jacket for work in my hand and a backpack with the rest of my clothes and shoes. I actually had trouble navigating the department store because I was twice my normal size, and at one point I bumped a woman with my backpack which elicited a *tsk* and a heavy sigh. I was thisclose to telling her to get over herself, it's a week before Christmas and you're in New York City. People get bumped. I got bumped too. If you want to shop where there's room go to the fucking Mall of America.

As I arrived at the employee entrance of the hotel I realized suddenly that my tuxedo jacket was missing. I illogically checked myself, wondering if I had somehow put it on without realizing, but I was already far too overdressed. Then I assumed I had left it on the counter at the department store when I paid for my purchases, until I had a clear memory of going out the door with my jacket still folded over my arm. So where the hell was it?

At this point I remembered that while I was waiting for a PATH train I had decided to get out my newspaper and glasses. Since I needed to get them from my backpack I put down my shopping bag and draped the jacket over a metal barricade. And that's where my jacket most likely still was. In the PATH station of the World Trade Center back in NYC where I left it. I went up to the banquet office where they generously told me I could work anyway and then offered to lend me a jacket from someone who had a spare. Although part of me wanted to go back across the river and retrieve the jacket, it would have made it impossible for me to return in time to be helpful for the event.

I told everyone I intended to go back to the station after what turned out to be a fairly short shift. Mostly everyone seemed to think the jacket was gone, and while I didn't disagree, I thought maybe ...

As the shift only lasted a few hours, I was originally in the PATH station at 2:00 and by 8:20 or so I was back. I returned to the platform and unfortunately, the jacket was gone. As I turned up the stairs and headed towards the exit, I spotted "a" jacket, randomly hanging on a pole near the stairs I had come up. There was kind of no way it could be anything other than mine.

And it was.

I have no idea who picked it up from the railing and why. It is kind of dirty (I work around food) and not a designer label or anything. That may be the reason it was ultimately rejected. But I got the impression that whoever picked it up decided to hang it conspicuously in case the owner (me) returned to find it.

And I did.

The idea that it would be left on a platform where literally thousands of people pass by, and that someone would leave it on the chance that hours later, after thousands more people passed by, the owner would return and find it, is pretty amazing.

But I said the whole afternoon and evening that while I wouldn't be surprised to find the jacket gone, I would also not be at all surprised to find it still there.

Only in New York, Kids. Only in New York.

And no, I still haven't solved the problem of finding a place to board Riley next week, but I have been in touch by phone with a kennel downtown that has space still available, and before I head down there tomorrow I am meeting a man that lives less than two blocks away that boards dogs for a living, and he seems to think he will be able to take Riley. I know it sounds sketchy but he already has four other dogs staying at the same time and I think after talking to him on the phone that we may have met before at the dog run.

One way or the other it seems that Riley will have a roof over his head and two squares a day while I'm gone.

So that's good.

Shut. The Fuck. Up!

I wish I could describe how much I love this video.-via Dlisted

Oh, and I'm sorry you'll be hearing "AIDS is on the Rise" all day in your head.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Countdown to Christmas

Only three more gifts to buy, plus whatever else I pick up for Riley. Speaking of which, the kennel I was planning on using for him is full already so as of today, I have no place to put him while I'm gone for Christmas. Hopefully tomorrow I will come up with something, as I plan on taking care of this first thing in the morning. Maybe I'll just leave him home with $50 and a can opener.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What's Doin?

I've been working quite a bit, trying to get some money put away as I'm afeerd that right after Christmas will be a little lean. I have all the household bills paid in full (unfortunately not the credit cards) and I am working on trying to get a little ahead so January's bills won't be quite so daunting and I can relax if the work does indeed dry up for a bit. I do have one or two other projects on the back burner so if there is no work and money isn't a big issue, I can just happily live like a church mouse and work through the month on other things.

I do have to hunker down and finish Christmas shopping. Almost every year around Christmas I at some point will have a dream where I end up at home with the family on Christmas morning having forgotten what day it was and without any presents for anyone. Last week I headed out to try to get some shopping done and returned with a case of dog food and a new seat for my bicycle. Both of which I needed but not appropriate gifts.

Something unpleasant that I was hoping to avoid came up last week during my second therapy session. Not unexpectedly, I am finding that some significant issues from my childhood are front and center. I am finding myself a little torn about whether or not I should share these things here. I have been aware for a long time that family members have found their way here. Whether or not anyone is a regular reader or not, I have no idea. If the issues in question only had to do with me or my behavior, I would vomit them up as readily as I have everything else. But that's not the case. And I worry about putting down a record of my stream of consciousness musings that could impact other people. A person's memory can be a tricky thing. Particularly mine, as it is full of holes. And 40 years has made some things abundantly clearer, while rendering other parts decidedly open to interpretation.

As I read that last paragraph back, I have to laugh at myself. Something "unpleasant" is it? Ever the lady, even in the face of adversity.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

You're Not Sick Enough

What is the world coming to? I ended up having to come to the "defense" of my arch-nemesis Jack Mackenroth last week. I say "defense" as he wasn't attacked per se, but in a roundabout way the promo video he made for the web site was.

MOC blog, a site that I LOVE LOVE LOVE (for obvious reasons, and also for the fact that he frequently has a fresh take or an unexplored perspective on a variety of subjects) posted the video along with this paragraph:

"This promotional piece for (paid for by the drug company MERCK) features competitive swimmer Jack Mackenroth who is clearly in terrific shape. And I'm genuinely happy for the guy. But are we doing a disservice to young people by featuring men in prime physical condition instead of those less fortunate, physically attenuated souls who haven't been quite that lucky? Many young people (what I'll none-too-lightly call the "Post-AIDS" generation, for not having participated in the carnage) fail to grasp that being HIV-positive is neither desirous nor chic. And they need that constant reminder. Where and how is that message getting out?"

My response is re-printed below:

I can't help but feel after reading this that there's a none too subtle desire on your part to see and portray HIV+ men as sick and frail and therefore "other". It is this kind of hidden stigma that keeps gay men that are already frightened of HIV from getting tested and, if need be, treated. This ignorance and fear is what perpetuates the spread of HIV more than anything else. The facts are that most men that are diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion will remain healthy for decades and those receiving more advanced treatment today may not ever outwardly "carry a sign" of being HIV+. Nobody is advocating that young gay men today seek out HIV, but your expressed desire to have it portrayed as a debilitating sickness is kind of offensive. Sorry if we're not suffering enough for you to feel better about yourself.

I was a little annoyed at MOC's writer and a little bit sad. While the sentiment was genuine, and I have no doubt as to the truthfulness of wanting to make sure that a message like "Having HIV Can Suck" gets out to young people unaware or uninformed of what the consequences are, I think it's unfortunate that there's some obvious stigma and prejudice buried amongst the good intentions.

Of course, left untreated, HIV will still ravage and kill you. And there are the unlucky people who do not respond well to standard treatments, as well as those who are "treatment experienced" that are now suffering some difiicult side effects from more experimental drugs.

But by and large, if you do find that you become HIV+, and you are tested early and get treated when it becomes required, chances are that you will have to deal with managing your health the foreseeable future, taking better care of yourself, taking medication every day- every. day, and the very real possibility of some long-term side effects of unknown consequence. You will also more than likely experience a disastrously negative impact on your sex life, and you will be faced with the ongoing pressure of whether or not to disclose this information to your friends, your family and your co-workers. You will face a certain amount of discrimination.

But you can also lead a relatively peaceful and normal life, hold down a job, pay your bills and still hope that someday, somewhere you meet a nice guy.

And that is what needs to be reflected in the ads.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Worst. Video. Ever.

I was at the gym a couple of weeks ago, and this video came up in the rotation. I was laughing so hard that people were checking my video screen to see what was so funny. From the faux-ghetto-fabulousness to the tacky clothes and hideous jewelry (check out the giant hair berets) it is so bad, so epically tragic, that I actually have grown to love it.

Prima J "Corazon (You're Not Alone)

Prima J | MySpace Music Videos

Saturday, December 05, 2009

It's Always Darkest ...

I ended up heading across town for my therapy appointment with a mixture of anticipation and dread. Anticipation because I will be glad to have someone to talk with and it is long overdue that I get to work on some of my "issues". Dread because I hate meeting new people. I constantly worry about what I'm saying, how they might react to what I'm about to say, what they actually meant by the things they said. I frequently have several conversations going besides the one I'm actually having.

As it turns out, I found my therapist to be a little odd. And that's a good thing. I like odd. Odd makes me more comfortable. And by odd I mean kind of nerdy. With a whiff of freaky. Like I wouldn't find it the least bit unexpected to discover him some night at a bondage club, tied up with jump ropes and having his completely hairless body flogged and pinched with clothespins. Which is cool. So I was remarkably comfortable pretty quickly. As it turns out, my insurance covers 24 weeks of sessions, so we can look forward to over half a year of ME talking about ME which, as a gay man is pretty much MY favorite subject.

As the weekend unfolded I got a series of phone calls adding days to my work schedule, and while the first two were profitable from an hourly wage standpoint, last nights shift was a holiday party for a financial firm, and they were appropriately generous with their tipping. I made some much needed extra cash, and I have another two days of work ahead of me. I should get a paycheck next Friday that will cover the cost of Riley's kennel stay while I am away for Christmas. There's another looming worry solved. I also had two job interviews on Thursday, and while nothing has come of either of them right away, they were encouraging in that both of the managers I spoke to were suitably enthusiastic about my qualifications.

And well they should be. With the exception of some experience with cost analysis and P&L projections, which I have never done but I have no doubt I could, there's really nothing I haven't done at one time or another when it comes to running a restaurant and nightclub. Scheduling, inventory, payroll, cash management, ordering, event management, interviews, human resources, press releases, menu creation, bar management, POS (point of sale) maintenance. The list goes on and on. In other words, the first person who is smart enough to snap me up and put me back to work full time will be one lucky fucker. I have another interview this afternoon before going in to work, and while I don't necessarily think it is the right job for me, you never know. I am also kind of surprised that I'm getting such a big response all of the sudden from sending out resumes. My phone hasn't rung for a couple of months now and suddenly I'm getting quite a few calls. Maybe the economy is improving after all.

Yesterday I reported to the Health Academy at the NYC Dept. of Health. After reflexively getting in to the line for syphilis testing, I quickly righted myself and lined up for what I actually was there for. I have spent the last couple of weeks taking a Food Protection Course. Yesterday I took the live test, which I passed with a respectable 84%, and I am now a Certified Food Protection supervisor. Not too exciting I will grant you, but a Certified Supervisor is supposed to be on the premises of any restaurant or bar serving food, whenever the business is open. Usually this would be the chef, as well as at least one sous chef, and more than likely the receiving supervisor. But many businesses in NYC also insist that at least the general manager and assistants are certified as well. This lessens the chances that a Health Inspector would show up and find no one on the premises with a certification. It's a Health Department violation and the fine can be hundreds of dollars. Many restaurant owners will ask you if you have your certification during the interview process, and a few of the on-line ads won't even see you unless you are certified. It's a leg up, and quite frankly, at my advanced age anything that helps me get even one leg over my head is a blessing.

I also took some steps to alleviate my financial crisis, and while it was akin to re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, I did manage to shore up the operation at least until the new year. Which means Christmas will come to Whoville after all, and I can take things down from Defcon 2: Panic to Defcon 3: Mild Anxiety.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Shrink My Head

Up early as my calendar is rapidly filling up for December. I frequently have multiple appointments that end with me having to work a shift at my low-wage part-time job.

Today I am starting with a lunchtime appointment to start a new round of therapy. You get a certain amount of counseling paid for (thanks ADAP!) as part of all the great stuff you get for free after you become HIV+. I did tell you about the big screen TV and the 200 free Netflix rentals didn't I? It's true, you get them both delivered to your house right after your T-Cell count drops below 300.

This round of therapy will be (I think) 16 weeks. I'm not going because I have fallen in to some kind of crisis. Far from it. Things are much improved since the last time I saw a therapist over three years ago.

The hated roommates have been replaced by two messy straight boys that don't give me a lick of trouble.
I no longer suffer from panic attacks, and the anxiety disorder I was taking medication for? I stopped the pills for that last month.
I got a dog and he died. I got another dog and he ate my bed, but was nice enough to continue living.
I got (and stayed) sober, attended regular AA meetings but so far have failed to find a sponsor.
I got a job and then lost it when one of my employees murdered a customer.
I entered a photography contest and got serious about art.
I sold 4000 comic books for pennies on the dollar as I slowly went broke. Again.
I joined a community advisory board at the local health center, and am now heading up the committee that publishes our newsletter.
I became a licensed foster parent, but still have no kid to show for it (that's another post).
And I am generally and overall a much happier, profoundly more peaceful person.

So why go in to therapy? Well, first of all, why not? I am a firm believer in taking the time to pick up the box and give it a good shake now and then. You need to find out what's inside. And as good as things have become, I am still feeling like a lot of things from my past, and a lot of the choices I made as an adult, are unresolved and unexplained. While I have no trouble (now) making conversation and casual connections, I still can't seem to figure out how to make and keep some real friends. And I have pretty much given up on ever having a boyfriend or babydaddy. I'm still a pretty solitary figure. Don't get me wrong, I'm not walking around all tortured by that. I'm not bemoaning the fact that I buy a half-carton of eggs and prefer to sit in the single (handicap) seats at the movies. But if I am the type of person who feels better, or at least more comfortable as a party of one, I would at least like to know how that happened.

There's more, and the therapy will most likely dredge some stuff up I may or may not enjoy dealing with, but I am confident the outcome will be positive. My last round of therapy pretty much got me sober.

On another note, I am BROKE BROKE BROKE!! The plane ticket home is paid for and I will have enough money and available credit to get a few Christmas presents to bring with me, but beyond that, we will be starting the New Year with maxed out credit cards and a woefully depleted checking account. I absolutely need to find a better (better paying) job, either part time as a bartender where I can make real tips, or as a manager where they need someone who is pretty good with numbers and computers, and can be trusted not to get drunk on duty and always balance the safe.

That's it. Gotta go. Busy busy!!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

And So It Goes ... Happy AIDS Day Everyone!

By SETH MYDANS - via The New York Times
Published: October 13, 2009

AN NHON TAY, Vietnam — The first day of school was a special one last month for the 15 children from the Mai Hoa orphanage here. They are infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, and for the first time they would be allowed to attend the local primary school. “The children were so excited,” said Sister Nguyen Thi Bao, who runs the orphanage and had been lobbying for three years to enroll them in the government school. “They had been wishing for this day to come.”

But when they arrived, they found an uprising by the parents of the other students, who refused to let their children enter the school together with the infected orphans. Some of the parents hastily backed away when the orphans walked past.

After a short standoff, the principal, who had agreed to accept the orphans, told Sister Bao that their papers were not in order and that they could not stay.

The children returned to the orphanage, just a short walk down a country road, where they continue to study in small classrooms, still exiled from the uninfected world.

... About 290,000 people in Vietnam, a country of 86 million, carry H.I.V. today, and Mr. Murphy said that although the rate of increase was slowing, the infection was spreading outside high-risk groups.

Among those infected, the government estimates that 5,100 are children. Although the law requires equal treatment, almost none of them have been accepted in schools because of the fears of other children’s parents, Nguyen Vinh Hien, the deputy minister of education, said last month.

read the story here.

By Todd A. Heywood 11/10/09 -via The Michigan Messenger

An HIV-positive Macomb County (Michigan) man is facing charges created under Michigan’s 2004 terrorism laws for biting another man in a neighborhood scuffle. That, HIV advocates, state lawmakers and legal experts say is “cowardly” and “nonsense” and increases ignorance and stigma surrounding the virus.

...“Is this a dangerous instrumentality? It’s like saying that because I breathed on you and I have tuberculosis and we are fighting, that somehow because I have this disease it suddenly becomes more than just that I have this disease,” said Meadows, a former assistant attorney general. “The other charges are more than sufficient to deal with the issues involved.”

HIV experts say it is a near impossibility to spread HIV through a human bite.

“Even if you accepted that as a transmission case,” said Catherine Hanssens, executive director of the New York City-based Center for HIV Law and Policy. The charges against Allen, she said, simply aren’t warranted. “It’s just nonsense. It’s cowardly. It’s the kind of thing that keeps kids [with HIV] out of day care and camps and allows kids [with HIV] to be kicked out of karate case.”

She said cases like Allen’s are proof that the nation is failing to address the epidemic with common sense. “It’s continuing the boogey-man characterization of people with HIV,” she said.

read the story here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Further Proof That I'm Retarded

Several months ago I purchased a 2 gig Sansa Clip MP3 player. I bought it for only 20 bucks from Woot! and even though it was listed as refurbished, I wondered at the time what you could possibly refurbish about a little MP3 player no bigger than a cigarette lighter. So I went ahead and ordered it. It arrived in a couple of days and I set about adding songs I had built up in my MP3 collection. At some point that week I took the player to the gym and plugged in my headphones. It seemed that the connection was kind of loose, and the headphones popped out quite easily. Moreover, even when the headphones didn't pop out, the connection frequently broke up and songs would drop out part way through. I found I had to constantly hold on to the player as I walked around the gym, sort of manually holding the headphones in place. Whenever I did certain exercises that were particularly strenuous, I had to put up with the music cutting on and off all the time. This has been going on for months.

I assumed that there was a defect in the player that I bought, a loose connection, but for $20 it did hold hundreds of songs, adding music to the player was ridiculously simple, and quite frankly, I'm not a hard-core music-type person anyway. I rarely wear headphones when I'm traveling in the subway, and even rarer still when I walk down the street. I have always held the position that, especially here in NYC, there is always so much going on, so many hidden surprises, so often the opportunity to experience the unexpected (both good and horrifically bad), wearing headphones and listening to music all the time increases the chances you might miss something. I'm not the first person to notice that many New Yorkers opt to be outside but completely retreated in to their own personal space. Portable video games, DVD players and various Apple gadgets make the people that choose to be very insular. I prefer to mix it all up with the great unwashed.

So my MP3 player use is pretty much limited to the gym and when I am feeling particularly bored on the PATH back and forth to New Jersey. For the most part I found the loose headphone connection to be a minor annoyance, and one I would just put up with.

Flash forward to today, finding me at the gym, where I have been almost every day this week. I have decided that I've become woefully out of shape, I am still about 10 lbs heavier than I want to be, and since my bike is currently down awaiting parts that I can't afford, I have rededicated myself to getting back in to shape before next summer. I had just come near the end of a tough abdominal workout, and I had been frustrated the whole time as the music kept cutting out and the headphones seemed to be popping loose every couple of minutes. I seriously considered taking out the MP3 player and smashing it against the wall. Note to self: Explore out-sized aggression issues.

As I was pacing about between lower ab leg-lifts I had finally become so frustrated, constantly jiggling the headphone jack to find the sweet spot where the music played, that I finally violently jammed the headphone jack in to the MP3 player.

...... Which is when I realized that the headphone jack was never fully inserted in to the connector. As it needed to be. Which made the music, that I had always complained to myself was a tad "tinny", noticeably louder. And fuller. And the headphones weren't loose at all. And no matter which way I twisted and turned they weren't coming undone. And if this story sounds at all familiar it's because I went through a similar situation with a Verizon Chocolate phone a couple of years ago. Apparently, these new-fangled electronics that the kids are using these days plug in differently than I am used to.

So the end of this story is that after almost 6 months of owning the Sansa Clip, I am just now getting around to actually using it the way it was intended. I also need to remind myself on occasion that it has a perfectly good FM radio built in as well. I'm sure it does other things but let's face it, I'll probably never know what they are.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just In Time For Thanksgiving

BBC News ran a story about four people getting arrested in Peru on charges of luring chunky folk out to desolate areas for the purpose of murdering them to harvest their fat. The "donated" fat was then re-sold to European pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies and used in anti-wrinkle treatments. The fat was reported to be worth $15,000 a liter, and some of the suspects were carrying soda bottles filled with human fat when arrested.

So if you happen to be walking along a desolate road after gorging yourself on Thanksgiving goodies, do not, I repeat DO NOT go in to a cave marked "Free Money" lest you be murdered and end up in a jar of Oil of Olay Extract of Cletus, and then slathered all over the face of some snooty old French lady.

Also, I will happily donate several liters of my personal fat, a bargain at $10,000, as long as I don't need to go to Peru and get bludgeoned to do it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dogs Don't Fly At Christmas Time

Before we even go there, let's just get two things out of the way.

I don't have a driver's license. I live in NYC and when my license expired after I had been here close to five years I sort of let it happen. At the time, I was militant in believing that I would never leave New York City and would never need a license. Besides, I always hated driving. I thought it was a necessary evil that was no longer necessary and was happy to let my license lapse.

And Pet Airways does not fly to Buffalo. Nobody flies to Buffalo unless they really have to. Sorry Buffalo, I couldn't resist.

But I wanted to take a little longer Christmas holiday this year since I am not working full time and I am just a lowly cog in the great machine. I thought it would be nice to take an entire week and spend some quality time with the family. I last visited home during the summer for my brother's 50th Birthday, and while I found everyone seemingly hale and hearty, I am mindful that both mom and dad are now 78 years old. Knock wood, they both seem to be doing just swell. Mom still holds down a part time job, working a cash register at a discount department chain store. Dad was working part time up until recently, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he found another part time job in the next couple of months. I personally wish they would work less and travel more, but they have their reasons for why that doesn't happen and I respect their right to make that call. Besides, I seem to be the only family member that developed wander-lust. And even though I've been in the same New York City apartment for 20 years, If I could afford it I would travel all over the world. Well, except India. And the Middle East. And Alaska would be the very last state after I visited all the rest.

In any case, what I really wanted to do was visit home and bring Riley with me. First, if I was going to be gone a week, I didn't want to spend all that time, particularly Christmas, without my dog. Second, my mom loves dogs. And she hasn't had one in the house for many many years. They have Cat now, and I can't describe how unexpected that development was, but mom is a dog person. I thought bringing Riley might give her a much needed fix, and Riley could spend a week being spoiled and fussed over by someone other than me. Also, as much as I try to deny it, Riley really is about the cutest most loving dog I've ever seen. When he's not destroying your bed linens.

So I set about making inquiries as to which airline, or really any mode of travel, would be the best and cheapest to get me and Riley from New York City to Buffalo. Turns out, you can't get there from here.

The train was out straight away. Amtrak doesn't allow animals, even as cargo. Period. Some of the major air carriers don't take pets, and the ones that do are talking about small animals that can fit in carriers and slide under the seat in front of you.

Some, like Delta, will in fact take your pet as checked baggage, but unfortunately the only direct Delta flights to Buffalo I could find are on their commuter partner, and those are much smaller planes that can't take medium to large dog crates. Continental was my last hope, as it seemed on their web site that they had some sort of pets as cargo shipping service. But when I called them originally they flat out refused to take Riley because I described him as a Pit mix, and they "only fly Pit Bulls as puppies". Fucking bigots.

And when I called back two weeks later and made another inquiry, the reservation agent helping me first claimed that it would cost $250.00 EACH WAY to fly Riley as cargo, and then backtracked and claimed that they didn't fly Staffordshire Terriers, which is what Riley's breed is, kind of, unless they were under 20 lbs. Which sounded suspiciously like Pit Bull racial profiling if you ask me. And at that point, there was no way I could afford a ticket for me, at around $325 and then add another $500 for Riley. Not counting what it would cost to buy him an "airline approved" plastic kennel as well as a veterinary visit so that he could have a doctor's note clearing him to fly. It all became far too expensive for a week in Buffalo.

This being New York City, AKA Scams R Us, I got some information about where I could secure the documentation and a harness to try and pass Riley off as a service dog, but 5 minutes in to the flight that bit of subterfuge would surely disintegrate when Riley would likely jump up on the service cart and gorge himself on bags of blue tortilla chips.

So as it stands now, my week in Buffalo has been cut to 4 1/2 days. And Riley will be spending four nights in a local kennel, which kills me every time I have to leave him there. Not that they don't take good care of him, or that I have any doubts he will be fed and walked. But the kennel cage he sleeps in has a concrete floor, and Riley sleeps in a bed. My bed. With me.

I'm going out this week to get him a big fuzzy blanket, which I will stink up real good between now and Christmas. And then it's going in the cage with him, so at least it will be soft and smell like home.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

OOOOOOOOOoooo Gurrrrl!

I swear to god, if I got dissed and dismissed on television the way Ms. Martha did to Sarah Palin I would curl up under a rock and JUST DIE! I especially love the sarcastic "Good for her!" response when commenting on her book sales.

And while we're posting humorous video, did you happen to see this bit of hilarity from the Miss Gay Brazil pageant? Right after she is crowned and giving her post-pageant interview, an obviously unhappy losing cunt-testant sneaks up and snatches her weave! LIVE on camera!! And check out the look on her face. Bitch IS NOT playin'!

And speaking of bitch fights, it appears by this post that the Senior Smackdown I was promised and was so looking forward to will have to be postponed until sometime in the new year. Note to self: Go for the throat.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Project Inform On HIV And Aging

"By the year 2015, nearly half of HIV-positive people in the U.S. will be over age 50. In San Francisco, that figure already stands at 40 percent. While about 15 percent of newly infected individuals are over 50, people who have lived with the virus for years or decades face distinct challenges." -via Bay Area Reporter

Project Inform held a September forum in which the aging HIV population and their ongoing medical issues were discussed. Here's what they said about HIV patients with undetectable viral loads, which up until now, has been the unofficial "touchdown" in HIV treatment:

"Even low-level so-called undetectable virus in people on effective treatment – which in fact can almost always be detected using ultrasensitive tests – can trigger persistent immune activation. In addition, HIV damages the gut lining during early infection, allowing bacteria to leak out and ignite system-wide inflammation. Antiretroviral therapy dramatically reduces immune activation and inflammation, but does not bring back the normal pre-HIV state.

...Chronic low-grade inflammation appears to be the common denominator underlying all these conditions, according to Dr Stephen Deeks at San Fransisco General. It is also increasingly implicated in age-related disease among HIV-negative people, demonstrating that long-term viral infection is only part of the puzzle."

I can tell you that I have experienced what's been characterized as "low-grade" (HA!) inflammation starting sometime after I began taking HIV meds. There are several blog posts dealing with the pain I was experiencing in my hand and wrist, and as soon as that cleared up, I experienced similar symptoms in my ankles and feet. I have been suffering from other forms of foot and knee pain so severe that I have often considered quitting my job as standing and walking both have become extremely difficult. I originally chalked this up to my ever-faster rush to the never-ending dirt nap, but I now feel that the sudden onset of symptoms coupled with the severity of the pain (I went from minor "wear and tear" discomfort to almost crippling joint and tendon pain) probably has an HIV connection. Whether it's cause is the underlying infection or the meds I have no idea. And apparently neither do the doctors.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In New York City At Night

There's a pretty heartbreaking piece about LGBT homeless youth that ran in The Indypendent several weeks ago. A social worker from Sylvia's Place, one of the few shelters available to LBGT homeless youth in NYC, took extreme exception to the bleak portrait painted of the organization and some client profiles. You can read the comments below the article to get his valid perspective. Still, there's no getting around the fact that conservative estimates are that there are close to 20,000 homeless queer youth in this country, and less than 250 beds nationwide to house them and help keep them safe. You can read the full story here.

"Across the room Damien Corallo slouched in a chair, looking grim. Somebody had stolen his iPod. “Things are always getting stolen here,” he said. I sat down next to him and, just as Collazo had said, once I got him talking, he did not want to stop. When he was a kid, his father was sent to jail and his mother sent him and his two siblings from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to New York City to live with his aunt. His brother was gay and Damien, who is transgender, had been dressing like a boy as long as he could remember.

“One day our aunt told us she didn’t want any faggots in the house. And we figured out that she had given our rights over to the state. So we left,” Corallo said. “I’ve lived in 32 group homes or foster homes. I’ve lived in shelters, halfway houses, safety houses. I’ve been into lock-up, stuck in residentials. I have been in every kind of home. I went to juvie for drugs. I used to inject drugs and snort coke. I was in for about a year. It was not friendly. It was a Missouri state jail and then I went to rehab.”

Corallo said he stayed in a group home on Long Island. Three years ago he moved to Sylvia’s, where he’s been ever since. On three occasions, he’s been beaten in what he described as “gay bashings.” He’s been called a faggot and a freak more times than he would like to remember. Somewhere along the line he contracted HIV, which has since turned into AIDS. He has attempted suicide more than once, and he relapsed, too — he’s got track marks up and down his arms and a chronic twitch. He is using crystal methamphetamines and heroin again. He said he wants to break the habit, but “I could never stay clean in this situation.” Corallo is 18 years old."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Funnies

There is an old guy in my neighborhood who has been using the PooTrap (well, technically his dog has) for several months now. I don't care how convenient it is, and I acknowledge that picking up your dog's poo means that you get an occasional poop manicure, but his poor dog appears to be humiliated walking around with this shit catcher attached to his butt. And there's nothing "Magic" about it. I'm just sayin'...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Around Town

I'm dying because I have to work some dickhead's wedding or some such nonsense on Saturday and I would much rather be going to the first ball being hosted by The House of Extravganza in over five years. There will be competitions in 26 different categories, among them; Realness, Natural Beauty, Butch Queen-Vogue Fem, Battle Kat, Cha Cha Ruffle Bitch, and Butch Trans and His Bitch: A Night on the Town. I'm gagging. If you don't have to work, you should definitely head down to check out what promises to be an unparalleled night of entertainment.

The Moda La Envida Xtravaganza Ball is this Saturday, November 14, at Irving Plaza (17 Irving Place/cor. of 15th St) from 8pm.

I also want to give a huge shout out for the launch party taking place at Splash bar this Monday, November 16th at 11PM.

" is a non-profit AIDS Health Resources website with Entertainment News and On The Town updates. It's also dedicated to helping people getting around, get through and get over the system that hinders timely assistance for the newly diagnosed & people living with HIV/AIDS. And it's dedicated to entertaining you, and keeping your spirits up where they should be."

I have had the chance to go through the site and there are many very important, valuable and current links to financial and medical assistance available for HIV/AIDS patients in and around New York City. I'm hoping maybe as the site expands they will be able to provide the occasional cheap ticket to a Broadway show or maybe discounts to some of the cities better cabaret rooms.

As it is now it's a great effort and I hope that a lot of people turn out to see the show on Monday and support the web site.

Friday, November 13, 2009

As Promised, 100 Things For Restaurant Staffers (The Truth, Part 1)

Although he has titled his missive to restaurant staff in general, the opening paragraph makes it clear that this list of 100 do’s and don’ts is directed squarely at “the servers” in his under construction seafood restaurant.

To be sure, not every edict he issues is wrong or misdirected, and some are just common sense items that every restaurant should make an effort to enforce, but some of them just scream for a response. If for no other reason than they have generated a huge response from hundreds and hundreds of commenters wherever they were re-posted or discussed.

Here’s my take on the First 50:

#3. Has absolutely nothing to do with the waiter or waitress. They do not decide when or where a table is sat, and seating an incomplete party is not even at the discretion of the host or hostess. This is a management policy, and the reason for it has to do with maximizing the number of covers (read: dollars) you can do in the peak hours. I can start here because if the imaginary “tip meter” that so many diners claim they possess has begun ticking lower; you are already blaming the wrong person.

#4. Again, this is not something most waiters can decide to do, nor can most door hosts. Not sure about a Maitre d’. If you are kept waiting for your reservation, something has gone wrong at the front door or with the reservation booker. Not with the waiter.

#6. Just silly. The restaurant (and the waiter) is trying to sell you things. THAT’S THEIR JOB. It’s a simple, and very common, technique to try subtle “tricks” to get you to buy, and that includes making tap water “seem” like the “poor” choice. This is exactly like the grocery store putting the least expensive items on the bottom shelf. The eye-level is reserved for maximum profit. IT’S BUSINESS, you’re not being insulted and you are an adult. Get over it.

#7-9. Here’s where we go off the rails. While I agree, I don’t need to get the waiter’s name; some people (see all the comments) really like it. Some people are in no mood for “cuteness and jokes” and some are quite friendly and up for a good time. And how is the waiter supposed to be cold and efficient (no jokes, no flirting) and then not be “robotic” reciting the specials? You either want the show or you don’t want the show, but the waiter can’t be expected to turn it on and off line by line whatever the mood of the diners (keep in mind there’s a good chance we could be talking about 6 or more tables with near 40 or more individual people) or wherever we happen to be in the eating out process. And jumping in to a conversation to get even a drink order is like successfully executing Double Dutch, it is enormously difficult and multiplied by several tables over the course of a busy night, it’s amazing it gets done at all. And I won’t even discuss the times when the waiter is COMPLETELY IGNORED by a table that (for whatever reason) refuses to respond when approached. What in the world does one do with that?

#17. This elicited probably the biggest response in the comments. And I will say on paper, I agree. Restaurant meals were usually more elaborate, consisting of (basically) an appetizer, salad, main and dessert course. Usually, everyone was served all the courses, even if they opted not to eat every one. That was when it was desirable and appropriate to serve and clear a course all at once, getting the table and diners prepared for the next one. Today, dinner is more of a mix and match, where appetizers are rarer and not everyone orders a salad. Many times it’s a glass of wine and an entrĂ©e. So courses, and the collective clearing of them, are becoming a lost art. Also, when the plates are cleared is again sometimes a management decision and not in the hands of the waiters. I managed a well-known (not fine dining) restaurant where I was instructed by the GM and the owners to get the plates cleared as soon as people were done eating. So that’s what I encouraged the staff to do, even though I disagreed. And if you read the comments attached to the original column, there are more than a few people who want their plate gone after they are done. They HATE having to sit and look at their cold dirty plate while others are finishing. Do we enforce the rule and let them fume? What if that’s the guy (or girl) that will pay the bill and tip? THAT’S the customer that is always right in my book.

#19. Again, not up to the waiter. That is a policy set by the manager/owners. P.S. If you don’t get automatic seconds on the bread without asking that is usually a management decision as well.

#23. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Aside from the ridiculous idea of a busy waiter on a Saturday night having the time to STEAM THE LABEL off a bottle of wine, how exactly would he accomplish this? Hold it over a boiling soup pot in the kitchen? You want to see a chef kick a waiter’s ass? Here’s an idea, how about these supposed high-end customers in this supposed fine dining restaurant do something with their fancy new IPhones besides text message during dinner (or worse, take a call at the table) and try something wacky. like making a note about the bottle of wine they just enjoyed. Are these grown-ups we are waiting on or helpless little kids?

#24. Many many scotch drinkers would completely go insane if I didn’t refill the glass they are using

#26. Your white wine is going to be kept chilled in a bucket. If you don’t want that, say so.

#31. There is any number of reasons why a diner didn’t eat all or even half of his or her food. Calling undue attention to this could be potentially rude and/or embarrassing. A simple question such as, “was everything all right?” is much much better than the confrontational “what went wrong?”

#32. Ridiculous. Sometimes a simple touch on the shoulder is preferable to getting someone to move out of the way rather than dumping a tray of food or drinks on them. I have had people back right up in to me and if I didn’t use my hand to stop them it would have been a disaster.

#42. Ridiculous (Part 2!) I have complemented women on a fabulous outfit or a gravity defying pair of pumps on many many occasions. As a gay man I will defend with my life the right to do so! And besides, most women in Manhattan haven’t spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on shoes or an outfit just to have no one notice, and an approving nod from a gay waiter or bartender is the ultimate compliment.

#46. See #42. If Victoria Beckham parks her skinny and perfectly outfitted ass down at my table she is most certainly not equal to everyone else. If David Beckham sits next to her it’s “Victoria who?”

Coming up, the next 50.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Drunken Idiot Lives

Here's an amazing video of a ridiculously drunk and extremely lucky 26 year old in Boston who stumbles off the subway platform directly in the path of an oncoming train. In all my drunken escapades I was never almost killed, but I did manage to hurt myself (cracked ribs, broken tooth, mystery bruises etc) on many occasions. Considering all the times I woke up without having any memory of how I got home, I guess there but for the grace of god ....

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sex And The Single POZ

POZ Magazine ran a pretty informative piece on the laws in the US regarding HIV and disclosure to potential sex partners. Basically disclosure laws vary state by state in this country, and only 14 states have either no laws criminalizing HIV exposure or limit their prosecution to people that expose others to HIV with intent. Presumably, that means people who know their HIV status, do not disclose this information to a sex partner and do not use condoms to protect that person from exposure. Or obviously, the few documented cases of people who knowingly and with malice infect others through sexual contact.

In the rest of the states disclosure laws and criminal behavior vary and are wide open to a host of interpretations, many times based on a lack of good medical information, fearful or over-zealous prosecutors or judges that seem to be woefully uninformed about the realities of HIV transmission. In many states, it is considered criminal behavior to have sex with someone without informing him or her of your HIV status, regardless of the sexual activity that ensues and with no regard to the use of condoms.

In Iowa, you can be prosecuted for kissing without disclosure. In Missouri, a person could receive a death sentence for transmitting the virus without disclosure.

Most HIV transmission "laws" were written in the early to late 1980's, and they were never amended or updated as reliable transmission data was finally understood as fact by the medical community.

Unfortunately, a very informative article was absolutely ruined at the end when the authors began discussing what HIV+ people could do to protect themselves from prosecution for having sexual relations? Here's what they suggested:

What can HIV-positive Americans do to protect themselves? In theory, one defense is “informed consent.” If you can get a person to indicate that you have made it perfectly clear that you have HIV, and do so in front of a witness, such proof of disclosure may hold up in court. But unfortunately, many states do not define what constitutes “informed consent.”

You could ask the people to whom you disclose to sign a letter stating that they have been told—and acknowledge— that you’re HIV positive. It will need to be notarized (stamped by a notary public at the time of signing) to be effective. Another method is to tape record (or videotape, say, with your cell phone or a digital camera) your disclosure. Remember: For an audio or video file to be admissible evidence in court, you must state, on the file, that you request permission for the conversation to be recorded and the other person must verbally agree and state his or her full name.

You could also invite a friend to be present when you disclose to a potential partner. That friend should be willing to stand witness to the disclosure should charges ever be brought against you. Or you could take a potential partner to your doctor to educate him or her about HIV and its potential risks—so you have a witness to his or her awareness of your status.

I kept looking for the smiley face icon to indicate they were joking but sadly, they were not. At what point in the bar or the nightclub or the bath house do you trot out the notary public to sign your AIDS papers? When you are making your cellphone videotape of you and your sex partner stating your names and acknowledging that HIV disclosure has been discussed and agreed to, is it better to do it in your underwear in your dimly lit bedroom? Is authenticity going to come up later? Even if you have a relatively "conservative" sex life, who has an HIV doctor that will be willing to take 3 or 4 appointments a year solely to explain HIV and potential risks to a "prospective sex partner"? And who in the holy hell is that fucking proactive?

It made a good article worth reading in to a complete joke, and did nothing but make HIV+ people hoping for some good information on how to have and maintain some semblance of an adult sex life left to fend for themselves.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Santas Without Pants

Came upon this scene yesterday afternoon while traversing Union Square on the way to work. Turns out it was a promotional stunt for a book signing later on that night. Augusten Burroughs was reading and signing from his latest work, You Better Not Cry, a collection of Christmas themed short stories. Unfortunately my substandard wage job called so I missed it. You did too, but if you want to hear him read an excerpt from the book, go here where there is an MP3 audio snippet of Burroughs reading a passage embedded in the page. Apologies for the so-so quality of my cell phone cam.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Does HIV Cause Premature Aging?

New York Magazine ran a pretty disturbing piece about HIV+ individuals, and some possible new side effects to the virus as well as the HIV meds that have saved so many lives:

"Some fifteen years into the era of protease inhibitors and drug cocktails, doctors are realizing that the miracles the drugs promised are not necessarily a lasting solution to the disease. Most news accounts today call HIV a chronic, manageable disease. But patients who contracted the virus just a few years back are showing signs of what’s being called premature or accelerated aging. Early senility turns out to be an increasingly common problem, though not nearly as extreme as James’s in every case. One large-scale multi-city study released its latest findings this summer that over half of the HIV-positive population is suffering some form of cognitive impairment. Doctors are also reporting a constellation of ailments in middle-aged patients that are more typically seen at geriatric practices, in patients 80 and older. They range from bone loss to organ failure to arthritis. Making matters worse, HIV patients are registering higher rates of insulin resistance and cholesterol imbalances, and they suffer elevated rates of melanoma and kidney cancers and seven times the rate of other non-HIV-related cancers."

I can personally report that some of the men who regularly attend the HIV+ support group I drop in to have brought up a host of concerns about cognitive impairment and HIV, what it means, whether or not it's real and how to diagnose it. Well before this article came out. Some of them are realizing that something is not right, and are confused about what, if anything, they can do about it.

Also, I wonder if it's just me who noticed this lovely little factoid, which I believe is touched on later in the article:

"Either way, it is now clear that even patients who respond well to medications by today’s standards are not out of the woods. Current life-expectancy charts show that people on HIV medications could live twenty fewer years on average than the general population."

Scary stuff.

HIV and aging is a topic that I will be exploring with a little more regularity here at From The Ashes. It's a field of research and medicine that far too little is known about, and it's a subject that will take on more and more significance as the first generation of HIV survivors moves in to their 50's and 60's and (hopefully) beyond.

In the meantime, you can read the whole story here.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Stalkerazzi Update

If you need to gun me down here's where I'll be tonight.

"Starting on Tuesday, November 3, the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation will donate its gallery to host, "Art & AIDS: Living for the Moment," an exhibition featuring 50 artists living with HIV/AIDS. Over 130 works of art, utilizing diverse media, will be on display through November 7.

The exhibition is an outcome of work from weekly therapeutic art classes as part of GMHC's Volunteer, Work and Wellness Center. Art teachers donate their time to teach classes for GMHC's clients (consisting of professional and non-professional artists), and assist in curating the annual exhibition. The artists are able to sell their artwork which increases financial independence, particularly for those who live on a limited income." -via Gay Men's Health Crisis

The opening reception is tonight from 6-8, and if you are in NYC you can attend by calling 212-367-1014 to RSVP.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Banned In Seattle!

So I got into a little on-line dust-up with Scott, the author of Bill In Exile. It all started with a video post Scott put up of a guy called "Pig Daddy". In the post, PD shoots up crystal meth on camera, has another syringe behind his ear, and settles in (presumably) to spend the next few hours jerking his limp dick and playing with his over-sized, tortured nipples. This is not a new subject with Old Scotty, as in between other celebrations of military men, postings of hot naked boys and rants against evil and stupid Republicans, Scott routinely glorifies crystal meth use and drug abuse. He claims that his own crystal meth habit, while prodigious, was something he just up and stopped one day, and that was that.

My original response was short and to the point:

"Watching that video fills me with an overwhelming sadness. There’s nothing fun about watching someone hurt himself."

I was not the only person to react this way.

That post and others like it were met with a vigorous, angry and utterly laughable defensive response from Scott, equating "recreational" crystal meth use with a "hobby" like (get this!) model ship building or skydiving.

That led to a back and forth exchange wherein Scott and I traded comments and insults. My point in all of it was two-fold. Scott is constantly referencing and fondly reminiscing about his past drug use, specifically crystal meth, to the point where I have long suspected that he may not be using, but his addiction is far from over. My second point was that it was irresponsible to glorify crystal meth use in the manner he always has and continues to do. He doesn't just discuss meth use, he revels in it, he pines for it and you could seriously make a case that he still craves it. And nowhere in this celebration of the good times to be had staying up for days and days having unsafe sex tweaked out of your mind do you find Dear Old Scotty discussing the ramifications of such behavior.

Namely HIV and death. Extreme weight loss. Facial disfigurement. Ruined relationships. Angry, dysfunctional children. Did I mention permanent brain damage?

Scott seems to believe because he was never homeless, never broke, and never had to steal from people to get his drugs that he was never an addict, and there were no real consequences to his behavior. My decision to dispute that and to call him out on it made me a judgmental prig. Indeed he repeatedly makes a point to talk about what a luxurious lifestyle he maintained while living in New York City, high above Christopher Street and high as a kite surrounded by hot naked men having hot naked unsafe sex. There is never a mention as to how many of these men are still living or in what condition. I suspect because that would be a painful slice of reality that Scotty would rather not think about. And if you try to bring it up he will, loudly, vociferously and against all logic, try to tear you down. It should be noted that the title of Scott's blog, Bill In Exile, refers to Scott's acquaintance Bill, currently serving time in prison for selling and possessing crystal meth.

I won't re-hash what was posted in the BIE comments, for now you can read them as posted. But I did send off another missive in response to Scott's repeated attempts to portray crystal meth, as well as the shitstorm of problems attached to using it, as something akin to a simple lifestyle choice. This resulted in an equally angry and verbose response that consisted of speculation that I am newly sober and out of my mind. The first allegation is just not true and the second ... well ... could be. I also have over a decade of study about addiction, the social consequences of same and the successful treatment of addiction and depression under my belt. And somewhere in the back and forth of it all with other commenters slavishly devoted to or curiously afraid of Scott, it became a matter of spin worthy of Fox News that I was claiming that all people who use drugs are addicts. I never, ever once wrote that line or even suggested it. But it was the thing that Scott O'Reilly and a host of lazy readers hung their hats on in an attempt to shut down dissent.

It was after the first exchange I was threatened with banishment (ooooooooo!) from the BIE comments if I didn't "come correct". For those of you who aren't familiar, this was a blatant attempt by someone with addiction issues to control the situation. This is what addicts do. They believe that not only do they control every aspect of their own lives, but that they can somehow force you to cede control of yours. Healthy people know this is nonsense. When addicts are confronted by someone or something that challenges that perception, they will suddenly cut you off by any means necessary. It's based in fear. Although someone untreated will deny that to the heavens.

I had a feeling I should have made a copy of my second response, as I felt a banishment(temper tantrum) was imminent. Suffice it to say I re-iterated my belief that it seemed that the video of PD clearly seemed to be that of a heavily addicted crystal meth addict, that it was irresponsible for Scott to post it and glorify the behavior, that it represented a long pattern of Scott encouraging and celebrating drug use and unsafe sex, and that perhaps, given his extreme and seemingly over-the-top reaction to all of it, Scott ought to examine his feelings regarding his injection drug abuse.

Oh and I also called him a narcissist, a smart-ass, a liar, a couple of other things and an asshole. I ridiculed his threat to "ban me", as if he possessed some sort of magical ability to kick me off the Intertubes. This of course made the untreated crystal meth addict lurking inside Scott absolutely crazy. I acknowledged my own recovery and hopefully shot down his reasoning that this somehow made a single thing I was upset with him about any less true. It didn't. While I was at it, I made a pretty good point that he was full of shit, that he was justifying his past behavior against all reason, and that he ought to knock it off.

Then he banned me. Ostensibly for calling him an asshole and violating some sort of blogger code that he himself made up. Becuase that's what addicts do. They make rules. And when you reject their rules and exploit the cracks in their carefully constructed facade they lash out and then run. Lest the whole house of cards come tumbling down. He did use the opportunity to insult me personally as well, and while I suppose I could waste the time it would take to "crack the ban" and respond on his space, in the end, it hardly seems worth it.

As a last-ditch effort, Scott even took the time to take a swipe at you, my loyal tens of readers and highlight some sentiments from someone who claims to be a "harm reduction counselor". My total feelings regarding harm reduction aren't entirely negative, but in the end, "harm reduction" in drug and alcohol addiction is like trying to only let a teenage girl get "sort of" pregnant, or a reckless driver have a "not so bad" accident. You can be a paid employee of a failed experiment and still be full of shit and misinformation. A degree in stupid doesn't make you any less stupid. They aren't mutually exclusive. But that's another post.

The denial over there runs pretty deep. Pushing my points any further stoops to a level that gives this all more importance than the possible payoff is worth.

Suffice it to say that I maintain that what Scott is doing and saying over at Bill In Exile regarding crystal meth, unsafe sex, and drug and alcohol abuse and addiction is bad for the people that read it, it's bad for the people that believe what amounts to dangerous utter nonesense, and it's sad that he refuses to see and acknowledge that. But I understand that would involve seeing and acknowledging a truth about himself that he may never be ready to see.

He did make one salient point. And that is if I feel this strongly about him and his opinions, why the hell do I read, write and carry a link to him? My answer is that (A) This is something that has been building and bothering me for almost a year, and it finally came to a head with the video post and Scott's ridiculous, childish and impossibly head-up-his ass response to it all and (B) as I said, he posts really hot pictures of naked guys.

But I stand corrected, so I will leave the link up for a few days in case anyone wants to see for themselves what the fuss is or isn't about. After which I will de-link the Nasty Old Guy and take my 46 readers and go.

I no longer wish to see and be a part of it. And that, in the end, is how the Internets work.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Breaking: President Signs Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension - Officially Lifts HIV Travel Ban

Here is an excerpt of President Obama's remarks:

Twenty-two years ago, in a decision rooted in fear rather than fact, the United States instituted a travel ban on entry into the country for people living with HIV/AIDS. Now, we talk about reducing the stigma of this disease -- yet we've treated a visitor living with it as a threat. We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the AIDS pandemic -- yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people from HIV from entering our own country.

If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it. And that's why, on Monday my administration will publish a final rule that eliminates the travel ban effective just after the New Year. Congress and President Bush began this process last year, and they ought to be commended for it. We are finishing the job. It's a step that will encourage people to get tested and get treatment, it's a step that will keep families together, and it's a step that will save lives.

full text/video available via Towleroad.

One Hundred Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do (Part 1)

Bruce Buschel, aspiring restaurant owner and New York Times columnist, offers up this list of things he claims his waiters will never do. In my next post, I'll explain why some of these rules are wildly insulting to waiters and waitresses, why some of them are ridiculously silly, and why many more are simply not realistic given the reality of working in any restaurant. Also, I can't stand people who begin sentences with pretentious words like "herewith", and somebody at the New York Times needs to review how to spell basic contractions.

Herewith is a modest list of dos and don’ts(sic) for servers at the seafood restaurant I am building. Veteran waiters, moonlighting actresses, libertarians and baristas will no doubt protest some or most of what follows. They will claim it homogenizes them or stifles their true nature. And yet, if 100 different actors play Hamlet, hitting all the same marks, reciting all the same lines, cannot each one bring something unique to that role?

1. Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting.

2. Do not make a singleton feel bad. Do not say, “Are you waiting for someone?” Ask for a reservation. Ask if he or she would like to sit at the bar.

3. Never refuse to seat three guests because a fourth has not yet arrived.

4. If a table is not ready within a reasonable length of time, offer a free drink and/or amuse-bouche. The guests may be tired and hungry and thirsty, and they did everything right.

5. Tables should be level without anyone asking. Fix it before guests are seated.

6. Do not lead the witness with, “Bottled water or just tap?” Both are fine. Remain neutral.

7. Do not announce your name. No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness.

8. Do not interrupt a conversation. For any reason. Especially not to recite specials. Wait for the right moment.

9. Do not recite the specials too fast or robotically or dramatically. It is not a soliloquy. This is not an audition.

10. Do not inject your personal favorites when explaining the specials.

11. Do not hustle the lobsters. That is, do not say, “We only have two lobsters left.” Even if there are only two lobsters left.

12. Do not touch the rim of a water glass. Or any other glass.

13. Handle wine glasses by their stems and silverware by the handles.

14. When you ask, “How’s everything?” or “How was the meal?” listen to the answer and fix whatever is not right.

15. Never say “I don’t know” to any question without following with, “I’ll find out.”

16. If someone requests more sauce or gravy or cheese, bring a side dish of same. No pouring. Let them help themselves.

17. Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.

18. Know before approaching a table who has ordered what. Do not ask, “Who’s having the shrimp?”

19. Offer guests butter and/or olive oil with their bread.

20. Never refuse to substitute one vegetable for another.

21. Never serve anything that looks creepy or runny or wrong.

22. If someone is unsure about a wine choice, help him. That might mean sending someone else to the table or offering a taste or two.

23. If someone likes a wine, steam the label off the bottle and give it to the guest with the bill. It has the year, the vintner, the importer, etc.

24. Never use the same glass for a second drink.

25. Make sure the glasses are clean. Inspect them before placing them on the table.

26. Never assume people want their white wine in an ice bucket. Inquire.

27. For red wine, ask if the guests want to pour their own or prefer the waiter to pour.

28. Do not put your hands all over the spout of a wine bottle while removing the cork.

29. Do not pop a champagne cork. Remove it quietly, gracefully. The less noise the better.

30. Never let the wine bottle touch the glass into which you are pouring. No one wants to drink the dust or dirt from the bottle.

31. Never remove a plate full of food without asking what went wrong. Obviously, something went wrong.

32. Never touch a customer. No excuses. Do not do it. Do not brush them, move them, wipe them or dust them.

33. Do not bang into chairs or tables when passing by.

34. Do not have a personal conversation with another server within earshot of customers.

35. Do not eat or drink in plain view of guests.

36. Never reek from perfume or cigarettes. People want to smell the food and beverage.

37. Do not drink alcohol on the job, even if invited by the guests. “Not when I’m on duty” will suffice.

38.Do not call a guy a “dude.”

39. Do not call a woman “lady.”

40. Never say, “Good choice,” implying that other choices are bad.

41. Saying, “No problem” is a problem. It has a tone of insincerity or sarcasm. “My pleasure” or “You’re welcome” will do.

42. Do not compliment a guest’s attire or hairdo or makeup. You are insulting someone else.

43. Never mention what your favorite dessert is. It’s irrelevant.

44. Do not discuss your own eating habits, be you vegan or lactose intolerant or diabetic.

45. Do not curse, no matter how young or hip the guests.

46. Never acknowledge any one guest over and above any other. All guests are equal.

47. Do not gossip about co-workers or guests within earshot of guests.

48. Do not ask what someone is eating or drinking when they ask for more; remember or consult the order.

49. Never mention the tip, unless asked.

50. Do not turn on the charm when it’s tip time. Be consistent throughout.

Next week: 51-100.