...Coming soon. My internet is having "issues" in Germany.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
It's that time of year again where we look back over the past 12 months and decide what was good and what to keep and what was bad and what to scrap.
I suppose my resolution this year would be to find balance. I know it sounds cliched and yoga-centric but if you know me in person I'm a pretty happy-go-lucky optimistic, friendly dude and I'd like to transfer that energy into my often seemingly angry and rantist posts. The thing is I'm not that angry. Ok fine- maybe a little angry. But really, I am simply concerned or maybe even mindful over the shaping and molding of this planet, our people and our future. This blog has been a tremendous platform for meeting other people who are just as concerned or watchful or yeah- even angry. Although I haven't yet had the pleasure of shaking many of your hands (Michael Crawford of Bloggernista, Bil from Bilerico, Bret from Bstewart23) I do consider your 1's and 0's binary correspondence as true friendship, mentoring and camaraderie. Each of you have a special kind of balance I hope to acquire. Maybe it comes with time and wisdom and practice but you all know how to mix your emotions and concerns into the perfect op-ed cocktail. This is what I'd like for 2008.
oh and of course, lots and lots and lots of money!
Here's to 2008!
Friday, December 21, 2007
Gay City News is reporting that Congress has gone ahead and cut HIV Prevention dollars from this year's budget. A lot of gay groups and AIDS orgs are justifiably looking at this as a slap in the face of prevention techniques for an ongoing domestic crisis. The new budget plan offers a slight increase to the Ryan White fund and a decrease in money for CDC Prevention Programs.
"Among its provisions are just under $2.2 billion for the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act, which funds services for people with AIDS provided by states, cities, and private AIDS groups, and $692 million for the CDC's HIV prevention programs, which got $695 million in the 2007 fiscal year."Although it's good news that there will be more Ryan White dollars it was disheartening to hear the government taking dollars away from prevention programs. That was until I read this quote:
"We know that we're going to be hearing soon about increased HIV incidence rates," said Sean R. Cahill, managing director of public policy, research, and community health at the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), an AIDS group. "It's unclear if things are getting worse or if they have always been worse, but we do know that things are worse... Given that, we need to be spending more on HIV prevention."So here's the thought I'm rolling around in my head: (and trust me the last thing I want to do is be complacent about the gov't taking money away from HIV prevention) If things have always been worse or inconsistent or are getting worse than are millions of more dollars going to help?
I believe Safe Sex 101 (wear a condom) is already out there to a tremendous if not commonsense degree and, yes, I'm sure having more money leads to advancements of more effective ways of getting the message across, but this has been going on for over 25 years now, and despite the incredible and well-respected efforts of all prevention programs, something is still being blatantly disregarded.
If the funds were at 800 million and infection rates still increased or stabilized around a high number would we then ask for a billion? And if that didn't work, would we ask for more? I'm afraid millions of dollars isn't the cushion we're relying on it to be.
Money is crucial, there's no doubt. But more crucial than dollars is dialogue. I think it's not only most important, but a huge aid to prevention programs, if the average Joe gay guy begins having the HIV/AIDS conversation again (I'm not saying a lot of you aren't- or ever stopped.) I think at this point it's about internal community dialogue, realistic real-life media portrayal and sex communication regarding the individual and their relationship to sex. The self, self-worth and responsibility must come before the "should I or should I not" passion of sex and the rest will follow. The gay organizations are nothing short of heroes for their time, efforts and passion but we need to stop placing all the responsibility on their shoulders and start looking at ourselves as the solution and dialogue to these rates and statistics. This dialogue will never cost millions of dollars and a budget cut can never be placed on your voice.
I posted a comment much like the post above over on Bilerico and I got this as a response. It's terrific and schools me about the $$$=resource matter, which I needed to know. The comment is from David Munar of Preventionjustice.org.
"To use an analogue, if HIV were a raging fire you would need more than water guns and pales of sand to put it out. Would you blame the firefighters for being poorly equipped or the municipality for not making sure they have adequate resources to do the job? HIV is our raging fire and our frontline fighters have scarcely any resources to put up a fight, much level figure the right ways to help those at risk.
HIV prevention messages much change and respond to the times, and the strategies you describe are exactly how HIV prevention needs to change. But unfortunately, HIV prevention organizations in the U.S. have LESS FUNDING today than they did TEN YEARS AGO! It's no wonder, then, we are losing the fight to control HIV in the U.S. because we are simply not making it a budgetary or public health priority to do so."
If this doesn't say Happy Friday(with holiday vacation thrown in) than I don't know what does!
Inspired by the "tranny rap super group" trio of La'mady and their performance at Rapture Cafe's 1 year anniversary party, I bring you...Shirley Ellis' The Clapping Song
Also performing at The Rapture Party was the Mark Bailey, A wonderful sounding Clint, Michigan and Rosen Wood, a hasidic rabbi who gave out matzo, stripped and.. well let's just say found another use for the neck of a maneschvitz bottle...
As of December 25th Eric the roommate and I are going to Berlin! We're staying in Mitte with two Swedish girls we met on couchsurfing.com and stayed with us last summer.
I've been doing some reading and catching up on what I should hit in terms of museums, food and cityscapes but I could use a tip or two on places where I could get the nitty gritty of the city?
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Ever since NYC cabs got their high-tech makeover by having video screens installed in the backseat of every ride there has been an anger and/or concern brewing inside me that I can't quite seem to put my finger on.
Is it because the hard-working, hardly respected non-lucrative earning cabbies have to pay upwards toward $3000 dollars to have the screens installed? Is it because they're forced to pay for any repairs or vandalism to the screen itself? Is it because I feel for the cabbies that they have to pay the 5% credit card fee for every credit card fare purchase? Is it because of the GPS tracking systems, another seemingly suspicious mode of surveillance sugar-coated in the excuse of protection for the customer or crackdown on "illegal" cabs? Or, is it because I can't help but feel it's another MegaCorp working with the city to make more money by taking advantage of an industry where the majority of workers are foreigners and immigrants? I have a feeling if the cab industry was 90% American employed opposed to 90% immigrant/foreign employed we'd be hearing a lot more about this issue.
Or am I angry and concerned over the content on the screens themselves? As a Manhattan resident I don't remember ever being asked or filling out a survey to see if I even wanted to have these screens in the cabs. Instead, they were just installed as if it were assumed that these screens and media content was something everyone wanted or would be impressed by.
But frankly, I fucking hate these screens AND I do feel for the cabbies. The last thing I need during my enjoyable ride through pedestrian-exciting and architecturally fascinating New York is more inundation from heavy corporate advertisers, newscasters dictating the latest thing I should be fearful of, movie times, sports scores, stock tickers, up-to-the minute weather, and talentless celebrities like Terry Hatcher offering me "Entertainment Updates!" Cabs used to be a relief. A respite from the rest of the city and a a wonderful tour through, in and around it. Now it's just like a mobile Times Square- no matter how easy it is to pay with a credit card.
I've discussed these frustrations with friends of mine and I have often get blasted for making an "issue" out of nothing. "It's easier to pay with credit/debit cards!" "I enjoyed catching up on sports scores." "Even restaurants have to pay the 5% credit fee- why should cabs be different?" And of the course the obvious, "You can always just turn it off. It takes a second."
Well of course I know I can just turn it off and it only takes a second. But I don't want to have to do that in the first place! Why couldn't we have just left things the way they were? To me this "high-tech" make over is both a headache for me and the cabbie.
Maybe the reason I'm so upset is because I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle of anti-techno assimilation. I don't have an ipod. I try not to text conversations but attempt to actually have them. I don't need television to fill the void and I don't need a cell phone to busy my personal time between point A and B. But all around me these modes are becoming an epidemic and I'm losing this world to gadget zombies. Try getting directions from someone on the street these days. It's impossible. Everyone's ears are clogged by headphones or their eyes are staring at their cell phones.
Have we come this far into the future to be so self-satisfyingly numb? Was it ever fashion to remain conscious of the outside world, nature, people and genuine eye contact? Should I just "grow up and get over it" stop being so concerned, give up my hope for humanity and fill my ears with music at all times and my hands with text messages? Endless, ubiquitous distraction.
Oh no! I'm experiencing feelings! Quick, please, I- I need, I need an "Entertainment Update" Stat!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
1. Ultimate Gay SexI wrote a similar post on this topic here in August entitled: Reading Rainbow
2. Making Gay History
3. From Boys to Men: Gay Men Write About Growing Up
4. Outing Yourself
5. The Way Out
6. And the Band Played On
7. Queer in America
8. Beyond the Down Low: Sex, Lies, and Denial in Black America
9. My Life and the Paradise Garage
10. Virtually Normal: An Argument About Homosexuality
Here's my list for fiction (REALLY) in no particular order:
1. Dancer From the Dance- Andrew Holleran (My all-time favorite)
2. Grief- Andrew Holleran
3. The Beauty of Men- Andrew Holleran
4. Faggots- Larry Kramer
5. The Normal Heart- Larry Kramer
6. 86'd- David Feinberg
7. Hard- Wayne Hoffman
8. Rushes- John Rechy
9. Afterlife- Paul Monette
10. The Beautiful Room is Empty- Edmund White
In that post from August I said:
"It's important to keep these books in mind. Some of them are the only history books we have, the only artifacts the gay community has to recall their histories, memories, pains and passions. There certainly aren't any American schoolbooks that will touch the subject.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Yup, I definitely just threw up a chunky mixture of this weekends eggnog and alcohol after seeing this PSA by Mike "what separation between church and state?" Huckabee. What a douche-bag!
I wonder how Jesus would feel if he knew good ol' Huckabee was using his name and birthday for political gain.
Ugh. Here comes another heave!
Yeah- a little different from the Ramones classic "Sheena is a Punk Rocker," but for some young Muslim rockers the point their trying to make is that Muhammad was a punk rocker too. Inspired by an article I found on AndrewSullivan.com I thought this article to be too important to brush over.
After some Muslim youths discovered and read the book The Taqwacores "a novel written by Muslim-convert Michael Muhammad Knight about a fictional underground Muslim punk-rock scene in upstate New York," they decided they could turn fiction into reality.
The author Michael Knight argues that Muhammad was, for lack of a better comparison, a punk rocker. A man who stood up to oppressors, denied conformity and followed his own path and beliefs. The fictional band name is The Taqwacores and it's a contraction between the Arabic word taqwa, which translates to consciousness of God, and hardcore. The word hardcore is just what these courageous young rockers should be revered as and nothing less.
Bands like The Kominas and several others focus on musically screaming their frustrations over their elders fundamentalist and orthodox values and trying to find a place within modern, post 9/11 Muslim stereotyped America. The Kominas first single "Rumi was a homo" was written as a protest song against homophobia in the Muslim-American community and was a feature at Skidmore College's annual Music Agaisnt Hatred concert.
"A growing number of young Muslims who resist their parents’ orthodox views, but also struggle with the values of their non-Muslim friends, are embracing punk. Muslim punk provides a place to forge a new identity for young Muslims confused about religion and their role in American society, particularly as they are bombarded by negative stereotypes of Muslims in a post-9/11 America. At the same time, Muslim punk offers a palpable way to express anger toward the orthodoxies of fundamentalist Islam."I agree with Sullivan's statement that we must be aware and concerned over the spread of fundamental Islamic ideals but it's also important to note the contradictions and satire for which these punk bands stand. Individualism and rebelliousness are inherently western ideals, and it's healthy, if not damn important, for these youths to retain who they are while having the flexibility to experiment with their modern identity by inevitably having to appreciate two of the most basic American rights: Freedom of speech and expression.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
14th street is jam packed with people and personal space is clung to like a drowning victim's catch for air. Union Square? Forget about it. It's an unrelenting pillage of Starbucks Red Cups, mittens, rosy cheeks, breath in the air and shopping bags, from "Jingle Bells" to "Sleigh Bells." Yup the holiday threat level has reached red (and green.) The siege is upon us.
It was with great relief that at 7PM I'd be ducking into Nowhere Bar for the annual Worst Christmas Party Ever. Julio and his boys from Brooklyn host a party of unapologetic Christmas tackiness. The Worst Christmas Party Ever is a dress code of awful holiday sweaters and silly head-worn ornaments in an environment of horrendous holiday remixes and a white trash buffet.
I stepped into the bar to the beat of Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas" and found Julio wearing a Miss Claus dress and sticking bows onto people. I greeted him, kiss on the cheek and took a bow to stick onto my chest. I went up to the bar and ordered a beer and sipped it while taking inventory of the place. If you could imagine visiting your grandmother in a trailer-park retirement center then you have a pretty good idea of what the bar looked like. The sweaters were deplorable as was the the "blue-collar" punch of melted orange-sherbet and sprite. Vienna sausage (in the can) with American Cheese and nicely displayed strawberry pop-tart slices. There were a few guys wearing antlers and John was wearing a knitted frock, right off the senior citizens rack at the Salvation Army covered, of course, in twinkling Christmas lights, and if I'm not mistaken, an edible Christmas tree of celery and cherry tomatoes, but it wasn't until the Chipmunk's holiday classics played over the speakers that my lips cracked a smile and I said to myself, "This is the worst Christmas Party Ever..."
The party went from the afternoon well into the evening and by the time I checked out, the place was packed. One didn't even need drinks to have a good time. The laughter came naturally from the silly attitude and energy of everyone there. Tis the season!
Some recent study suggests gay men possess a higher degree of neotony. Neotony, according to dictionary.com is "the state resulting when juvenile characteristics are retained by the adults of a species." And, man, if this wasn't a case of that- I don't know what is! And thank God for it! This party was "awful"ly fun and it was a reprieve from every other holiday party of the season. This was truly a time to let your hair down and celebrate the holidays in the most honest yet tacky-traditional and nostalgic way possible.
On my way out I said to Christian, another host of the party, occasional Nowhere bartender and recent friend of mine, "Gosh Christian. This is the worst Christmas party ever!"
"I know," he said rolling his eyes, "isn't it fucking terrible?"
Friday, December 14, 2007
Oh major league baseball, you've really knocked it out of the park this time. News sources over the globe are reporting that 80+ baseball players are exposed in an illegal steroid using spree.
I'm not really surprised and since I never had, or will have, the patience or interest to sit through a full baseball game I really couldn't care less what happens to the sport after this- which most likely will be nothing, but the quote I choose to pay attention to most in all this reporting is in the New York Post article which states,
"Widespread use by the players of such substances unfairly disadvantages the honest athletes who refuse to use them and raises questions about the validity of baseball records..."
That's right. Plain and simple. It's unfair and it's cheating. This is so quintessentially American, honoring those who represent bigness and good ol' Americana winning but one tiny peek under the surface and you find out it's all a big lie and facade.
"America's favorite past time."
Well, you know what, just like everything else "America's favorite past time" has been run through the mud with corruption, scandal and millions and millions of dollars. And here we have all our good ol' red, white and blue American Dads teaching their sons to look up to these players because that's the men they should become! Bullshit!
This isn't about healthy competition, the celebration of sports or achieving goals. This is about the American culture. The American culture that is: millions of dollars, huge houses, outrageously expensive cars, lying, betting, and sliming your way up the system for grand-slam bank accounts. "Fuck you American Public! This is about ME!"
Well if and when this country ever allows me to legally have a child without some idiot trying to tell me I'm wrong, I'm going to teach them to look up to the real heroes: Teachers, writers, artists, and all the other people who will never see the contracts these honored baseball players receive.
Several Hundred Gays, 3 Singing Divas, 2 Shritless Bartendars, 1 Smokin' hot Executive Director and a Partridge in a Pear Tree
Last night I attended a great holiday fundraiser for The Ali Forney Center, an organization committed to sheltering LGBT homeless or kicked out youth. The center also provides: short- and long-term housing -- 32 beds in total, in six apartments -- plus free medical care, HIV testing, mental health services, showers, food, computer access, and job training and placement at its drop-in center in Chelsea.
The Ali Forney center is one of the better organizations I've heard of lately and greatly commend their efforts. It is interesting to note that 40% of NYC's homeless youth are of LGBT identity and since youths are naturally coming out younger and younger these days, The Ali Forney Center really does offer a safe place of shelter for kids who's homes and families refused to accept them.
The fundraiser was held in a magnificent West Village apartment. One of those apartments where upon walking into you gasp and exclaim, "Wow, this is Manhattan!" I placed my coat on the coatracks and stashed my backpack along with some others underneath the coats. I moved further into the apartment and happily pulled out my checkbook to pay a donation which will go toward a new set of sheets and bedding for the center.
There was a wonderful spread of food and desserts from local gay and gay friendly eateries around town and an open bar. I grabbed some chips, chicken satay, a vodka and mingled with guests and caught up with familiar faces. People generally seemed to be talking about The Ali Forney Center along with other organizations mixed with mild cruising and discussion of Holiday Plans. There was one guy who caught my attention more than once. A beefed up, goatee'd Italian looking fellow who seemed to be caught up in a lot of meet-and-greets.
The apartment was reaching capacity when an announcement was made that a show would be taking place downstairs in just a few moments. I walked downstairs and grabbed a seat next to some Brooklyn buddies of mine and watched Drag Queen Trai La Trash talk about the center and do a comedy bit. She welcomed on stage Diva Singer and New York local Natalie Douglas who sang a few gorgeous sounding holiday hits and did a duet with party host and fellow New York singer David Raleigh. It was fun and festive and beautiful and nice and yes- ok- yes, even I, Mr. Scrooge himself started feeling as though I was getting into the holiday spirit.
Trai La Trash took the stage again and introduced Executive Director of The Ali Forney Center, Carl Siciliano- and what do you know? It's the Italian hunk! Swooooon. The crowd fell silent and listened to Siciliano talk about the work done at the Ali Forney center and how important it is to pay attention to the health of LGBT youth. Gosh, this guy is racked up the points. It was a heartfelt speech and peaked mine, as I'm sure many other's awareness to the LGBT homelessness problem. Trai La Trash, also understanding what peaks gay interest, teased the crowd that if we donated more Mr. Siciliano would take off his shirt. Immediately I started thinking of my bank account. Grin.
After the speeches were finished and donations were in the fundraiser turned into an amazing traditional, all out, balls to the wall, raging house party. The DJ cued everyone in that the party was officially beginning by spinning the 2007 classic line, "It's Britney Bitch..." and the rest, well, the rest is holiday history. I guess you'll have come and donate next year to find out how much fun this party happens to be.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Dear G Lounge NYC,
Oh my god! I just had to write and tell you that your illustrated advertisement for G Lounge's new party Kute really speaks to me! (Is it pronounced Koot-e? Or is that U with the little dots over it not even a letter, but a super-cute emoticon? who knows :) does it even matter? As I always say, "what-evs!")
I mean, finally, there's a party in New York City where chip-on-the-shoulder attitude and extreme affectedness is fiercely appreciated. You're my savior! I was soooo tired of guys who are like 31 and 32 trying talking to me. As if, right? Thanks for your understanding.
This new party comes at a perfect time because I've really been spending a lot of time perfecting my upper-body while doing this Soho studio yoga-infusion diet of ice cubes and lettuce which has made my waist slim and tight like an adolescent boy. I've completely shaved my chest and have my laser hair removal appointment next week! No one will ever know I used to have such imperfections- let's you and I keep that between ourselves! I have also been working on the way I stand, with and without a cigarette. I mean, I don't smoke but I'll hold one if the boy checking me out has cigarettes. I just have to remember how to do it- the steps are: 1) inhale through perfectly circular lips 2) exhale upward, as if I don't have a care in the world but then gaze at the sky as if I notice a perfect twinkly star, and finally 3) dramatic head turn to the left, chin to shoulder, eyes focused like a hawk! Puh-lease, you never know who's going to be there taking that uber-crucial myspace pic! A girl always has to be prepared!
G Lounge, what speaks to me most about this illustration you use to promote your party is the attitude in that model-boy's face. I mean, this IS what we need in NYC and I'm so glad you understand. Attitude is what separates the bois from the boys. I'm counting the days until next Sunday because when I get to this party I am going to flash squinty eyes, raised eyebrows and open-mouthed I'm-disgusted-with-you glares from floor to ceiling. I mean, that is how to make the boys want you, right? So excited.
Viacom/MTV plans to turn many long term freelance positions into staff jobs and offers freelancers a choice between their old healthcare plan and an entirely new one. Also, the deadline to decide on the plan has been extended from this later this month until February '08. Way to take a stand freelancers.
"We've implemented a process for evaluating freelance and temporary employee positions for possible conversion to staff positions," reads the announcement from JoAnne Griffith, MTVN's executive vice president for HR. "This process is currently underway." Freelancers will now have the choice to continue with their current health plan—including dental!—or sign on to MTV's Aetna plan. Either way, they won't have to make the decision until February of next year, nearly three months after the original deadline set by the company last week.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
For the past week or so I've been contemplating about whether to even bother throwing my dice in on Peter LaBarbera's Americans For Truth About Homosexuality and their plea to Nancy Pelosi to "publicly condemn" The Folsom Street Fair. When taking a rather hard piss last night I decided I couldn't let this go.
In the video below Peter LaBarbera discusses how the Folsom Street Fair, "is tolerance run amuck." Needless to say, idiot/bully/jarhead Sean Hannity seems to agree with LaBarbera while Alan Colmes asks why spread the video if you don't want people to know about it?
Two things. 1) They keep referring to "gay men, gay men, gay men" but the footage they chose shows more women than it does men and 2) the children- always with the fucking children. Nobody during this whole moronic, oppressive debate points the blame on the adults who brought their children to Folsom. I don't really think Folsom is a place for children but if a parent wants to bring a child to an event like this- so be it! But don't blame the gays for bringing children, blame the parents! Leave us out of it.
What gets under my skin most, what boils my blood more than anything is LaBarbera's refusal to accept or respect that this nation has a separation between church and state and that consenting adults have the freedom to choose and freedom to express what they do and how they do it. Yet here's another person trying to challenge one of the most basic American ideals. Yes, Folsom Street Fair might be perceived as a little extreme but if you don't like it then don't go. Don't involve yourself in it! I don't like Hannity and Colmes or Bill O'Reilly so I don't watch them. They're one of the definitive reasons of why I don't own a television. I don't like 'em, I don't watch 'em but I don't go around telling other people to not watch them, I let them make their own decisions. I don't like fundamentalist churches so I don't go, but, I don't TELL people not to go either.
I know this post isn't really profound and definitely does not illicit anything more than a "duh.." response, but it's important to remember we live in America. The land of the free. The land of freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of choice. I love this country and the rights to freedom which we are granted. But this country is being stolen and these freedoms are being taken away from us, slowly but surely, by people like LaBarbera and his pals in the current administration. So here's one thing I am going to tell you to do: Start giving a shit. This is YOUR country, YOUR world- fight for it!
The Hairy Hanukkah pics are up via my wonderful friend and master DJ Josh Sparber's blog. Click here to check 'em out. Hysterical! Josh is the King of silly photo captioning.
And tonight's Reading for Filth at Rapture Cafe line up includes: Craig Chester, Dominick, Taylor Mac, Chadwick Moore and Sam J Miller. I'm especially looking forward to seeing/hearing gay writer Sam J. Miller who's work I've seen performed before. Sam is a truly talented young guy writer whose stories come from the heart and do not shy away from raunch, reality or humor. I was very impressed last time I saw him read, keep an eye out this guy!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Champions of the first ever Big Apple Dodgeball League
(Tops: Molly, Julia, Eddie, Todd, Jeff, Steve Jason, Chris
Bottoms: Me, Koray, Vosillious)
It wasn't easy. Last night the Eagles went up against previous 1st place team The Butter Balls whom we miraculously swept in a 2-0 win. We were focused, communicating, had amazing encouragement from our Team Captain Jason Saft, threw the balls low, dodged like none other, and made risky but efficient catches.
Next we played Gym Bar's OB-GYMS, a tough team who knows how to catch and how to dodge, but they lacked throwing skills when it came to playing against the mighty Spread Eagles. We wiped them in a 2-1 win.
Since The Butter Balls beat out the monsters of Big Booty Bread the final game was between The Butter Balls and us. It was a nerve-wracking game to be in but our all star players, sneaky Todd , The fearless Molly, The hard throwing duo of Koray and Steve and the cunning Chris Kelly all contributed in smearing out the Butter Balls. We won. We did it! Congratulations, Spread Eagles!
I always knew we had it in us. We started the season off being one of the best teams and we ended being the best team. I truly believe it wasn't just our playing which helped us take the title it was our amazing attitude, our respect toward each other and toward sportsmanship, our kindness to other teams and our fairness on the court. Every Monday night we pledged to communicate with one another and in the end it worked. I can honestly walk away from these courts with 11 great new friends but more than that, a whole league of new friends. Dodgeball, as silly a sport as it may sound, brought our community together into friendship like nothing I had ever seen before. We're a team. All of us. Whether players on a court or an entire community, we're all playing together. Game on.
See you all during Season 2!
And on to flip cup....
Molly, Eddie, Koray, Steve, and me
Our amazing Team Captain, the handsome and hysterical, Jason Saft
Celebration Shots (literally)
The Incredible Second Place team- The Butter Balls
Sunday night I headed 20 minutes west of the city to my parent's home in suburban New Jersey for a family Hanukkah celebration. My oldest sister Meredith, husband Jeff and Baby Max came up too from their home in South Jersey to enjoy potato latkas, light menorah candles and spend time with "the fam."
Family time was a huge catalyst in my decision making to move from Los Angeles back to NYC. After spending 4 and a 1/2 years in Arizona going to college and two years in Los Angeles, paying "industry" dues, it was time for me to come back "home" before my family changed and evolved too much without me. My oldest sister was pregnant with my first nephew, my older sister Rachel, was just married and there I was on the other side of the country missing it all.
Now back in NYC for almost a year and a half family time has become a once-a-month, if not more often, occurrence. Usually I head into New Jersey where Mom makes me dinner and I spend the entire day consuming everything that is on-demand cable television and practically eating the entire refrigerator, yes- handles, magnets and all. Plus it's only 20minutes from Manhattan by bus and the suburbs are always a breath of fresh air from the exhaustiveness that is city life. Sometimes though Mom and Dad will come into the city and I'll take them to new restaurants I've read about in the Village Voice or the around-town food blogs. Whether Jersey or the city, it's always nice to see them.
Hanaukkah was just the same- a wonderful, pleasant time. Baby Max, being the newest addition to our family has proved to be a stronger and thicker glue holding my family together. I've become an Uncle, my parents have evolved to grandparents, and my sister and brother-in-law, now parents. Between us all, crawling around the floor, we have this tiny piece of human, coming to life before our eyes and aiding to the stronghold that is The Leven Family. And this is how life works, changes, evolves and morphs- inevitably. Suddenly the lyric's to Fleetwood Mac's Landslide become truer than ever and rips it's way, through flashes, into my soul.
"But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I'm getting older, too..."
My Mother laid out a tremendous Jewish-cultural spread of cold cuts, (turkey, pastrami, roast beef) Rye bread, spicy mustard, pickles and of course potato latkes, cooked in oil, to remind us of the oil the Maccabees used to keep that flame for 8 days straight. We lit the candles on the menorah sat down and enjoyed dinner.
At some point in the evening we exchanged gifts. I bought Baby Max an adorable set of bear paw mittens (like his Uncle) which, like anything else, were covered in drool in moments. My sisters and I chipped in to get Mom and Dad a new set of dishes and aimless houseware supplies they requested and Meredith and Jeff bought me a fresh new Journal. My Mother then handed me a wrapped gift and I tore away at the silver paper covered in Star of David's and dreidels. Inside was a book entitled: "Mama's Boy, Preacher's Son" and when I studied the cover further and read, "A memoir of growing up, coming out, and changing America's Schools" I felt a crack in my heart and my eyes begin to well up. I looked up at my family, my mother and father, and in a tremendous effort tried to utter the words "thank you" without a waver in my voice or a tear desperately wishing to fall. But I couldn't. The "thank you" came out wavered and the tear did fall. Written by Kevin Jennings, The Founder of GLSEN, an organization which sets up gay-straight alliances in American Public Schools, the book proved itself to be more than a gift, more than a holiday surprise, but a token of unyielding support and love from the two people who matter most.
We ended the evening by having dessert. Cheesecake, marble poundcake, coffee and Hanukkah gelt. My brother-in-law and Father retired to watching more football, my mother and sister cleared the table and I sat around watching my family, noticing change, age and growth and watched the Hanukkah candles flicker down into yet, another year.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, we've come a long way, thrown many a ball but- YES - The Spread Eagles have climbed their way into the official Big Apple Dodgeball playoffs! Only 4 out of the total 8 teams get an opportunity to make it into the playoffs and my beloved Spread Eagles will be there tonight to kick-ass for the number 1 spot!
Tonight we have a tough, if not the toughest game ahead of us. We are playing the Slimy, hard throwing, quick dodging Boy Butter Butter Balls and they've got some outrageously fierce players. The Spread Eagles have a few tricks up their sleeves however and after last Friday's team party we're jazzed up, prepared, communicating and ready! As I always say, BRING IT!
Tonight there are some new rules:
Only 4 balls opposed to the usual 6
double elimination bracket
If any team loses 2 games out of three they're OUT!
Spread em wide, Spread Eagles!
(Eagles-Black Knights/Butter Balls- Yellow Pansies)
I work in television and I am also a freelancer. In the freelance world there are two types of freelancers. Freelancers and perma-lancers. Perma-lancers are people who have held the same "freelance" job for a long time, if not, several years. For whatever reasons, (healthcare benefits, 401K plans, taxes) companies like Viacom and many other production companies keep employees as "freelancers" opposed to making them staff. This is something I've come to accept years ago and have managed to get benefits through other, often overwhelmingly bureaucratic means. Those at MTV who have been perma-lancers for a long time are suddenly getting their health care providers switched and changes to their 401K plan. From what I hear there is still a lot to be explained both by Viacom (owner of MTV) and the payroll company MTV deals with. Many of the perma-lancers I know over at MTV are upset this bad or head-achey news is coming right before the Holidays and right before the New Year, a time when the production world is notoriously slow or frozen.
It would be nice if a company were to offer me benefits, but I'm a freelancer and in television one can only work from project to project. Once that project ends, whether it's a week, month, or a few years, there is no more work- you must find the next project.
However, had I been with MTV for a long time- if I were a perma-lancer this would directly affect me, the benefits and 401K plan I've been acquiring and yes, I'd be upset and have a feeling of employer disloyalty. The people affected by this have a right to walk out. I guess we'll have to see what new deals and plans Viacom can come up with. In the mean time this should be a lesson to all freelancers. Don't depend on anyone but yourself. Cover your own ass. You never know when or if the job you've been hired for will fall out from under you.
Check out freelancersunion.org for freelancer health insurance information.
For more information read this Gawker.com article. Photos also courtesy of Gawker.
A New York Post article entitled: "Getting De-layed" is reporting that delayed flights are causing more people to socialize, drink and inevitably...hook up.
Philadelphia, Newark, JFK and La Guardia are among the top five "hook up" airports listed in this article. Philly International Airport has a track record of having the most delays and cancellations in the country but also hosts 16 bars, 7 lounges and 57 restaurants. Newark, JFK and La Guardia also hold records for a high number of delays but also share a high abundance of drinking and eating establishments.
There seems to be a direct correlation here because smaller more efficient airports show a lower number of hook ups/dates while also having fewer bars and restaurants.
"Commissioned by AXE, maker of a line of deodorants, body sprays and shower gels, the study found that one out of every 10 respondents (out of a total of 860) has gone out with or knows someone who has gone out with someone they met at an airport."I am leaving for Berlin on Christmas Day out of La Guardia. If the flight is delayed maybe I can meet a handsome man...or married republican senator.
Billed as "the Studs Terkel of Zombie Journalism," author Max Brooks, takes us around the world capturing many survivor's stories of The Zombie War from the first outbreaks to The Great Panic to Total War to Victory. How do you defeat an enemy that doesn't feel fear or emotion, doesn't need to be clothed, fed, or sleep, grows larger with every bite and only dies when you destroy the brain? This is the struggle of the war against Zombies.
I don't even think one needs to be a Zombie or horror fan to enjoy this riveting and ultimately haunting book (I had two nightmares in the course of reading it.) Written in the style of a military document this book fills every gap and question one might have about zombies and how this modern world would react if attacked. Within this style the book cannot prevent itself from being a satire on the modern world and how we look and react to war and fear. I took my time reading this book and loved experiencing every fictional point of view as if it were real. This book is nothing short of a apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fan's wet dream. Two hugely severed thumbs up!
(click the link under the pic to visit the official website and take the survey to find out your chances of survival.)
Friday, December 7, 2007
This Saturday is the hottest, hairiest dance party in NYC, with the BEST music. Dance 'til the place closes type of place! It's an all-out Bear/Musclebear/Daddy/Cub/Hairy Guy/Smooth Friendly dance party. So much fun. See you there! BLOWOFF
If I were only able to go to one person and ask, "what's the latest and greatest in current media and music," Mark would be the guy I'd ask. Mark is a connoisseur of all things media and music while also being passionate about world travel, current events, gay community/rights and general all-around silliness. I also have to mention that he's not only the organizer of Big Apple Dodgeball but he is also one of the most adorably handsome men hanging around NYC. Check him out!
AND, who's hungry?! Good cus I got some beef right here! My good friend Vinnie is all food, all the time, and he blogs about his culinary adventures throughout New York City on his page, Memoirs of an Ubereater. He is an incredible writer who knows good food and knows how to report on it. From burgers to pasta, pizza to cheesesteaks Vinnie has got food covered. If you been meaning to check out a new restaurant or are stumped as to where to go you must consult Vin first. Check him out (www.ubereater.com) because according to Vin, "if eating doesn't hurt, you're doing something wrong."
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Have you ever read an article about the rise or fall of HIV infection rates and when you reach the end you're either scared shitless, angry or have no idea what the hell is going on? Yeah, me too. All. the. time.
After reading this incredibly muddy article by 365gay.com entitled: "Study Suggests Shift In Attitude Among Newly Infected Men With HIV Regarding Partners" I again had that, "uhh, what?" feeling. But lately, do to having some incredibly bright and educated people around me I've grown skeptical of the way percentages and statistics are reported and thus my post-article freak-outs have declined.
Here's the dilly:
The article is saying that some poz men are barebacking or men who happen to be barebacking, are positive, but in some cities (like SF) they're beginning to only bareback with other positive men. This is otherwise known as "serosorting."
Serosorting, as defined by wikipedia is "the practice of seeking to only engage in sexual activities with partners who are of the same HIV status as you. In April of 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported that the practice of positive-positive serosorting is partially responsible for the decline in new HIV infections in San Francisco.
Serosorting is the reason why it is possible to see a simultaneous increase of barebacking stats with the decrease of HIV infection rates. Men who choose to not use condoms aren't changing their sexual acts but they are changing their sexual partners, and that in itself is a way to avoid spreading HIV. The trend here is that positive men are barebacking each other and not negative men.
Now listen up and listen up real good. I'm not advocating unsafe sex. I'm not saying that it's a good thing that poz on poz men are choosing not to use condoms (there's a TON of other health related issues with that alone.) I'm simply clearing up a hard-to-decipher article before we start stigmatizing the entire positive community as barebacking orgy-fueled deviants. Trust me, as I've reported before, a lot of gay men, even myself at one time, came spring loaded with that defense. And, yes. Yes. Yes. Yes we can talk about how this trend might make barebacking seemingly more acceptable, that it isn't foolproof and that negative men might get caught up in this, but it is none-the-less, an interesting trend and attitude shift to note.
I feel as though this is neither good nor bad news and proves how complicated statistics, percentages and HIV reporting can be.
Case in point- the article states:
Two separate studies presented earlier in the week at the National HIV Prevention Conference, however, found that more than 35 percent of men who have sex with men continue to have unsafe sex.Everybody freak out, right?
Hold on a second. As a friend of mine pointed out when discussing this article:
How many of those guys are poz guys who have unprotected sex with poz guys only? In terms of HIV prevention, those guys should be counted out of the equation.
How many of those guys are in monogamous longterm neg couples? In terms of HIV prevention, those guys should be counted out of the equation.
How many of those guys were having non-penetrative or oral sex? In terms of HIV prevention, those guys should be counted out of the equation.
The real question is: How many NEGATIVE men fail to use a condom when they have ANAL sex with someone whose status was uncertain or POSITIVE? But nobody ever asks that question.
See that's just the thing. In many of the safe-sex surveys I take or the questions I answer when getting tested, I'm always asked, "Did you use a condom the last time you had sex?" The answer is almost meaningless without a follow-up question: "Were you and your last partner both already poz? Were you and your last partner both neg men in a longterm monogamous relationship? Was the last time you had sex a strictly oral/J.O. encounter?"
Hell yes. Complicated! But important.
I'd like to be clear about something. You can disagree with me all you want but I feel it is tremendously important that we do not look at postive and negative like black and white cards or a pass/fail on a college exam or a yes/no answer. In order to really begin combating this virus we need the ability to acknowledge and comprehend everything it involves. With anger and sympathy being both important factors, it is simple understanding that will eventually be the key factor winning out.
Joe Birdsong, owner of Rapture Cafe, promised the readers and attendees of last night's Reading for Filth that there would be a huge surprise at the end of the evening. And man did he deliver!
Last night I witnessed my first gay/trans wedding and it was a wonderful thing to suddenly be a part of. This wasn't some kind of ceremony, or unionization or "ring giving" this was a full-on wedding. And you know what, conservatives? The world didn't come to an end. Heterosexuals did not feel like their marriage carried less "sanctity" and everyone gay/straight/trans/black/white applauded.
It's just love, people. Simple love.
Congratulations and best wishes to the happiest and healthiest!
Prevent-it.ca, a Canadian organization focused on serving a wake up call to all employees and companies to be more alert and conscious-minded when working in high risk environments, came up with this startling and hard-hitting PSA.
I don't know whether this was made to be broadcast on Canadian Television or if it was solely created for web-usage but despite the horror it does hit at a core. Yes this ad is horrific and it does border on the impossibility of not being able to predict the future, but it does score "wake-up" points and those can often be invaluable.
If you can stomach it- there are a whole series of these ads. Check out the you tube vid links under the PSA when it finishes.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services estimates there are between 575,000 and 1.6 million homeless and runaway youth between 12 and 24 in the United States. The National Lesbian & Gay Task Force further concluded in a 2006 report titled "LGBT Youth; Epidemic of Homelessness" that between 20 and 40 percent of these youth self-define as LGBT....
An estimated 8,000 to 10,000 homeless LGBT youth are on the streets in New York on any given night. And the National Alliance to End Homelessness maintains these youth remain more vulnerable to violence. They suffer higher rates of mental illness and are more likely to engage in sex work. The Washington-based advocacy coalition further estimates sexual violence rates are more than seven percent higher among homeless LGBT youth than their straight peers and are more likely to attempt suicide.
"Being homeless is not some musical like "Rent" where everyone can sing along and be happy about it," she said. "They [LGBT youth] are afraid to go to any place for help because they’ve been taught their whole lives that the way they are is wrong. They are afraid someone will hurt them; kill them."
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
I just returned from lunch at a typical NYC diner where along with the food I had to swallow the relentless barrage of Christmas music sickeningly ubiquitous during this time of year. Of course this same diner, which advertises their amazing chicken noodle soup everywhere, had a Christmas tree and no menorah to be found. Not surprised. Every year, same shit, everything Christmas and a total disregard for everything else. Even in New York, the state with the highest Jewish population in the country.
I returned to my computer and see an email from my friend Wayne who captured the photo below:
Tis the season!
Get your dreidel, bitches! Happy Hanukkah!
After Reading for Filth at Rapture Cafe, my friend DJ Josh Sparber, a few other gay Jews and I are throwing the official gay Hanukkah Party at Eastern Bloc. We threw the same kind of party for Rosh Hashanah which was a total blast. Come for Manischewitz shots, chocolate gelt, and cheap drinks for cheap Jews! As you should know you neither have to be Jewish nor gay to come.
Monday, December 3, 2007
This is the second time I'll be reading my own work for The Rapture Cafe series:
Reading for Filth: Queer Writers Read about Queer Sex.
THIS Wednesday, December 5th
Rapture Cafe (Avenue A between 12th & 13th streets)
I'll be reading with Super Huge Mentor and Blog Daddy, Joe.My.God as well as Dlist Diva Robbyne Kaamil, and musical virtuoso Our Lady J.
Please come by!
Tonight is the night, ladies and gentleman. Tonight we find out which four Big Apple Dodgeball teams are going to the playoffs and which teams say goodbye.
Lately the games have been riotous and heated! The balls are being thrown harder than ever, teams are going that extra inch for risky catches and the sidelines are erupting with screams and boos.
Only 4 teams make it to the playoffs and my wonderful team, The Spread Eagles, is currently in 4th place. Eek! Tonight we have to Bring our Spread Eagle power against the David Barton
Bottoms Ballers and the Throw-hard monsters of Big Booty Bread Ballers.
You want a piece of The Spreads? Oh yeah? BRING IT!
The Eagle Sponsored, Spread Eagles Team:
Tops (Left to right): Me, Molly, Captain Jason, Koray, Chris, Steve
Bottoms (left to right): Todd Jeff, Vasillios, Eddie
Another young gay man uses his Do-It-Yourself power to do what he feels he can to prevent HIV and vent his feelings. 28 year old stud-monster and porn actor, Francesco D' Macho, (NSFW) created this PSA which he posted to his blog on World Aids Day. Francesco's PSA is raw, hard-hitting and exactly what I feel my demographic needs to see in order to realize HIV never went anywhere and is still a tremendous issue affecting our community. The PSA is not *entirely* safe for work but it is a must see.
For a young gay rights and HIV activist, such as myself, to see another young man doing what he can to join the fight empowers me with a sense of hope and brings a tear to my eye. I am relived to know that although seemingly seldom, we are not alone in this battle and people still DO CARE about the ongoing issue of HIV and the wellness of our gay brothers. I congratulate Francesco for speaking his mind and pat him on the back for his brutal and unapologetic honesty.