Monday, December 09, 2013


"I'll have a Pepsi," he says.

Who orders a Pepsi? Like, on purpose? Did Pepsi just pay you to order their soft drink on this flight?

A half hour later I nudge him and say we're flying over Manhattan. He barely looks up from his laptop and shrugs. He goes back to working on his PowerPoint. It's a clear October night, with a perfectly pink sunset and we are flying over one of the greatest triumphs of humankind. The perfect rectangle of Central Park. The 5 bridges. The success and despair. A treadmill of possibility.

Enjoy your Pepsi.

I actually don't even remember if those two morons were the same person, the Pepsi guy and the I-hate-beautiful-views guy. They are all the same person and I am sick of him. To be up here, floating over the greatest city on earth with nothing to do but accept her glory from 30,000 feet in the air. This is godly.

Rewind an hour or so. In utter irritation and disgust she tosses her frizzy, middle-aged hair. With her dry voice, the flight attendant guilt trips us into checking our bags and alerts us that one of the lavatories is broken. I suddenly realize I would much prefer to be at the proctologist.

Later comes a very specific moment on the runway: the moment when the g-force shakes the plane vigorously. It's a moment I often wonder if we have enough speed to take off or plummet to our deaths in a ball of fire.

Will my heart burst before I hit the ground?

There will be another million miles.

Another damp hotel and a boring conference.

There will be another stranger in the next seat in whose business I will feign interest. We will exchange cards and never speak again.

Another flight attendant will clock me in the shoulder with her fat ass.

There will be upgrades and delays and close calls.

There will be a flight to my grandfather's funeral and a flight to my best friend's wedding.

Another package of snack mix with 2,000% of my daily sodium intake.

10,000 screaming infants and 4,000 pushy salesmen wearing Bluetooth earpieces that I want to slap off their heads.

Another perfect plane of horizon and the towers of Jersey City staring enviously at the West Village.

All of those moments. Memories of my New York.

The time we stepped out on to Astor Place from the bowels of the 6 train, welcomed by a street band playing Another Star by Stevie Wonder. It was our anniversary.

For you there might be a brighter star but in my eyes the light of you is all I see.

The most perfect moment. My favorite moment.

With all the shit and annoyance and headaches and deadlines about to be missed,
With turbulence and red eyes and soggy $14 sandwiches and unsolicited offers of sex at hotel bars,
With an embarrassing amount of unrecognized privilege,
I will never order a Pepsi.
I will never ignore beauty for the sake of a PowerPoint.
I will never fly over Manhattan with a thankless heart.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I Got A Boob Job

We all have issues with our bodies. The worst part about getting older is having to eat less and exercise more in order to keep in relatively good shape. I fucking love eating but I also love being thin. Finding some balance will be a lifelong struggle.

My grandfather was a chef and most happy childhood memories revolved around some culinary event. 95% of my extended family is overweight, not grotesquely obese but I wouldn’t say anyone borders skinny or even trim. At 6’3” and 220lbs, I’m definitely the fittest family member. My dad, in particular, is diabetic, has heart disease and at his fattest, probably pushed 400lbs. He’s always been overweight. I remember seeing pictures of him at his fittest when he was playing soccer and basketball in high school and he always rocked the man-boobs. I inherited his fat guy genes.

Growing up with a tendency to put on weight and an awareness of my inner queen, I was hyper self-conscious about my physical appearance. If I didn’t get skinny, there was no hope of ever becoming a backup dancer for Gloria Estefan or a competitive jump roper.

In my 4th grade class play, all the boys had to change into our costumes together in the gym. As I tried to change as quickly as possible in a dim corner of the room, some asshole kid pointed at me and yelled, “HE’S GOT BOOBS!” Everyone turned and laughed. Put this on repeat every day for 6 weeks. Through junior high, this kid and others made fun of my weight and boy-boobs, don't even get me started on the fag jokes. At puberty, I grew about 2 feet and pretty much slimmed out although I could never quite tone up my chest, no matter how many pushups I did.

Fast forward to my 20’s. I managed to stay fairly thin even though I put on about 20lbs of “long term relationship” weight. Career success graduated me from cheap student food to regularly going to the best restaurants in town. Whatever, I was happy. I submitted to always having a little extra meat on my body.

The man boobs that haunted me from childhood still bothered me though. I spent thousands on personal trainers and did free weights in every which way possible (I can bench 200lbs). I could not grow enough muscle to tighten up my tits. With my shirt off I always felt like my torso looked like a sad clown face.

After spending some time on the internets, I discovered that I probably had a very common condition in men called gynecomastia, the technical term for man-boobs. Some men have a combination of tissue and fat that develops around the chest that cannot be exercised away. Jackpot! I’m gettin’ liposuction, bitches!

I went to the leading plastic surgeon in town and sure enough, I had extra tissue and fat that he could extract for a cool $5700. We spent almost an hour confronting my greatest insecurity. He grabbed at my boobs, pushed them up and down, slapped them side to side. I felt like a chicken cutlet under the heavy handed mallot of an angry Italian grandmother.

I booked the surgery on that first consultation and drove home with a very empty and sad feeling about succumbing to some mutilated version of who I would be in one month’s time. So many contradicting and complex thoughts ran through my head but I was committed to the surgery with my non-refundable $500 deposit.

The day before surgery, I had a number of tasks to take care of. First of all, I had to run to the bank to get a cashier’s check. The surgeon’s office only takes cashier’s checks because apparently unsatisfied customers often dispute the charges to their credit cards and cause drama. Also, people go into extreme credit card debt because they get obsessed with getting elective surgeries. At first this seemed like a red flag, but apparently it’s quite common. Oy, white people problems.

“Please make the check out to West**** Plastic Surgery,” I said to the teller. “What? For you? You don’t need it.” “Thanks man, it’s for an old scar.”

Dude, get your nose out of my fucking business.

Next I ran off to pick up some prescriptions, various bandages, homeopathic supplements to help the forthcoming bruising and maxi pads with no wings. The doctor was adamant about no-wings maxi-pads to place over the incision area around my nipples. At the CVS checkout line, the cashier looked at my drugs, Neosporin, bandages and pads and said to me, “wow, your girlfriend musta got beat up real good.” Yeah, thanks dude.

“I fear my life will be over and I will never have lived it unfettered.” –Ani DiFranco

I woke up from surgery to a room full of nurses and my husband close by. Feeling extremely groggy and extremely high, the doctor schooled me on recovery procedures and scheduled a follow up, 5 weeks out. They wheeled me out to the car and I spent the rest of the day in a vegetative state on the couch.

The first two weeks post-op, I wore a tighter than skin tight vest with my wingless maxipads (no fucking wings!) covering my nipples to prevent chafing and protect the scars. I looked fucking ridiculous. There is nothing more emasculating than getting strung up like Marie Antoinette in a polyester corset with sanitary napkins slapped on your tits. That shit was so tight it pushed every ounce of fat on my torso down below the vest. I was muffin bottoming out of that shit.

If I get stuck in my apartment for more than a day without human interaction, I will go out of my fucking mind. 2 days post-op was my friend Meghan’s birthday. She had plans for an outdoor happy hour. I told almost no one about this procedure mostly because I’ve always been embarrassed about my physical condition. Whatever, I was on oxycodon, I could hang. Wrong! I live in Austin and this is June, temperatures are already pushing 100 degrees. A half-hour in and my fucking tits were sore and sweating into the maxi-pads under Marie Antoinette corset, under a button down shirt which kinda sorta hid my undergarments. Get me a scotch. Make it a double.

Second, unforeseen issue: I’m a hugger. I hug all of my friends when I see them. I told everyone that I had a cold and didn’t want to get them sick. That worked until it was time to go, I had to get home and put ice packs all over errrythang. Birthday girl didn’t care that I was sick, so she gave me a strong, tight, I-love-you-so-much-thanks-for-coming-and-I’m-kinda-drunk-so-imma-hug-you-extra-good-and-long hug. OH MY GOD BLOODY MUTHERFUCKING SHITBALLS OF HELLFIRE! FUCK, FUCK, FUCK.

I closed my eyes and let go of all consciousness, got in the car and almost passed out.

What I would recommend to anyone considering any kind of liposuction is: do it in the winter. I drove to Houston for some meetings last week. Houston is sweaty and hot everyday of the whole goddamned year. It took every ounce of concentration to talk to clients wearing maxis, Marie Antoinette, an undershirt, a dress shirt, a tie and a wool suit. Awesome!

Cut to today, 2.5 weeks post-boob job. Marie Antoinette is in the trash and most of the bruising and swelling has gone down. Still wearing a spandexy vest for a few weeks but based on what I see getting out of the shower every morning, I have never looked better. I feel like I’ve slain one of the demons that possessed me for so long. I have a long way to go to reach acceptance and love of my body but this proactive step has gotten me to the end of the long tightrope of self-hatred.

I feel like I’m already turning heads and have received some “Did you lose weight, you look great" comments. Ironically, these comments come during the constant river of nipple sweat that is being sopped up by a fresh Always pad. I’m extra motivated to eat healthy and exercise because I have given myself this amazing gift. I refuse to fuck it up. At the end of the day, probably almost no one will notice. Doesn’t matter, I will know. The removal of 600cc makes me feel like I’ve lost 80lbs.

Moral of the story: Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all. If you can’t quite get there on your own, a boob job might help. Rock those new tits with pride. If you need me, I will be topless all summer and for every summer to come.

“So I’m beginning to see some problems

With the ongoing work of my mind

And I’ve got myself a new mantra

It says: ‘don’t forget to have a good time’

Don’t give the sellers of stuff

Power enough

To rob you of your grace

Love is all over the place

There’s nothing wrong with your face”

Well, maybe your tits. Thanks Ani.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A Year(ish) in Food

It's been embarassingly long since I've posted anything. I have the white person disease where you only write/create when you're angry or bitter and I guess I've been happier these days. Austin helps. I love my/our friends there and all the vitamin D from the sun is doing me good. My territory for work grew in size for a short time and I had the opportunity to travel to California a good deal and catch up with old friends while on business trips over the past few months. LA, San Francisco and a Memorial Day Trip to New York made for some rediculous dinners and nights out on the company card. I feel the need to document some of the highlights and stay one step ahead of Gwyneth Fucking Paltrow:

I would kill a baby for this lamb burger. The charcuterie was rediculous as well.

Hello, duck fat english muffin with duck liver mousse, bacon and soft egg.

Not your Aunt Theresa's trashy Rigatoni.

Turkey Leg Braised in Milk Sandwich.

Snap. Crakle. Pop. Asian.

Sittin' Up in Brandy's Room.

Strangely, my favorite part about this place was the wallpaper and the iced coffee (with frozen coffee ice cubes! Shut. Up.).

I could eat this Margherita Pizza everyday for the rest of my life.

Sometimes you get the prix fixe with Deb.

Sometimes you drink the afternoon away with Deb.

Then you go get oysters and Sancerre like nothing ever happened with Deb.

For the walk of shame you might meet friends for Champagne and a Burger that COMES WITH FUCKING BERNAISE SAUCE with Deb.

When in San Francisco, you might have to eat this chicken as a right of passage.

Or you could always get the fucking white truffle tasting menu here.

Take a walk of food-shame the next morning here and get yourself a latte.

Take your best friend to learn about fish poop wine that will knock your socks off. Don't forget to close the gate.

Don't tell the San Franciscans but this chicken might rival Zuni. AND the bartenders are hotter.

Drive down the coast for these peaches and burrata and wash it down with Dolcetto.

After an early morning swim, take your friend to brunch.

Don't forget to take her away for her 30th birthday.

That is all for now. Suck it, Gwyneth.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Mind Your T's and Q's

Some of my best friends are straight. Insert sarcasm. Amazingly, when you function as a productive member of society and you happen to be gay, you basically have to learn how to navigate and manipulate the heterosexual society in order to promote the Gay Agenda.

Kidding. Sort of.

It's funny, so many times when Essie and I meet people (and if there is alcohol) someone invariably blurts out, "you guys are totally not event gay" as if it were a compliment to "pass" as a straight person. "I mean, you guys are so normal." Um, thanks? I'm lucky (?) to be the type of gay who holds a corporate job in a white, straight, male dominated industry. I prefer preppy fashion. I don't act like Carson Kressley. I'd rather listen to Radiohead than Britney Spears. This just happens to be me. It's also not me all the time. Sometimes I really like to queen out, which might make those acquaintances slap their words between two slices of San Francisco sourdough and bite down harder than a nipple clamp in the Castro.

I'm afraid that people think I'm assimilating when, in fact, I'm trying to colonize. I know someone who always says that "you can't be a little prejudiced" when we're talking pro-gay issues. I wonder if she would still be so open if I said that I wanted to get a sex change. People like gay as long as it kinda sorta looks like them.

Same goes for the new gay bourgeois. There is a wave of gay men who want marriage the way heteros have it. They only accept people who look like them. They are afraid of transsexuals and deplore polyamorous relationships. They want to be as heteronormative as possible.

Frankly, I love the queers. As gay becomes more and more mainstream, I feel like it's my responsibility to help and support the queers on the fringes of society who we still ignore, taunt, and terrorize.

I'm afraid that the same men who want to make people comfortable with their brand of gay, don't know their history. Act Up, The AIDS quilt, die-ins on the capitol in the 80's are all distant memories of a generation who barely exists because their peers perished. Sean Penn as Harvey Milk painted a gay-lite version of a struggle pre-80's before the greatest disease of our generation decimated a population. While I'm happy that I don't have to deal with AIDS on a personal level or with my immediate friends, I envy the camaraderie that the LGBTQ community had amidst a health crisis some 20 years ago.

I believe that everyone must know their history in order to understand their identity. Everyone goes through an identity development process, predominantly in adolescence. The young baby gays can't let the sterilized TV versions of gay form who they become in adulthood.

I don't pray, but if I did, I would give thanks to the men who took their last breath at St. Vincent's and the lesbians who sat at their bedsides. I would praise their bravery and determination to live lives according to queer ideals. I would thank the drag queen who threw the first brick at the Stonewall riot. I would give a spiritual high five to Oscar Wilde and Virginia Wolfe.

I attribute who I have become as a homo to people who fought for their queer identities and demanded to be treated decently, not to Will & Grace, Queer Eye, Sex in the City, et al.

I want everyone on my lawn, no matter how queer. It's up to those of us who appear more hetero-friendly to be advocates for the T's and Q's of the LGBTQ community. You have to know you enemy and then you have to operate on their level and then you take over their empire and bring all your queers with you. We have to stop the ghettoizaion that happens in our community and broaden our understanding of what it means to be queer. Next time someone tells Essie and I that we're "not that gay" I'm going to ask, "What do you mean? What kind of gay people make you uncomfortable?" while subsequently applying pink lip gloss and stripping down to a sequined jock strap.

Monday, April 12, 2010

How To Survive a Recession

“As life gets longer, awful feels softer.” –Modest Mouse

Today the DOW closed above 11,000 for the first time in 18 months. The S&P is approaching an important psychological benchmark of 1200. Companies added 160,000-ish jobs in March, the biggest jump in three years. Obama got his health care plan and the world didn’t end. The pandering of Republicans about imminent socialism and an end of free markets as we know it doesn’t seem to be playing out. The National Bureau of Economic Research says it’s too early to tell if we have come out of the recession, but it doesn’t take a weather man to look around and see the weather. It feels like the sun is peeking through some thick clouds at the end of a long thunderstorm.

I’m not posting this to brag about my circumstances or tell people what decisions to make with their lives. I still have friends who are tirelessly looking for jobs or taking jobs that they are grossly under qualified for. In hindsight, I have been extremely lucky the past 2 years. Even though the Great Recession really hurt (really, REALLY hurt) and there were times when I felt like all of my hopes and dreams were never going to come true, I now look back and appreciate the prudent choices that Essie and I made.

I have a stock market job. I was one of those d-bags who did really well through most of 2007 and 2008. While it was happening, I had this constant anxiety that my prosperity could be taken from me at any time. One should always be weary of euphoric markets. I was right. I remember landing in Colorado at noon on a Monday, turning on my blackberry to learn about the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the subsequent tanking of the stock market. Essie had two more semesters of grad school and we were supposed to start building our dream house in Austin within months. Please realize that we cut tens of thousands of dollars in architectural extravagances already, to get our costs in line with a realistic, affordable mortgage. (Meanwhile the bank never told us “no” and bent over backwards to over-leverage a frightening jumbo loan.)

Game over.

For the next year and a half my commissions were less than a third of what they were in 2007. Yes, I was extremely fortunate because my firm kept me on. Essie was working and we were ok. The house, however, would have to be postponed, lending dried up literally overnight. We now had to save 20% of the building costs in order to start construction (weeks prior we had been quoted as little as 5%). We now had two mortgages: One on a condo in Boston that we occupied and a note on the land we purchased in Austin. Neither mortgages were ridiculously high, but with the real possibility of lay-offs, we had to make some tough decisions, fast.

I think back on the Great Depression and realize how bitchy and spoiled we are. When families subsisted on one meal a day, we were losing our vacation homes to foreclosure. Essie and I made many lifestyle changes and cut out a lot of fat (sometimes literally) only to end up with more net worth than we had back in 2007.

Here’s what we did:

1. We immediately put our Boston condo on craigslist, found a renter and moved in with Essie’s parents. Not ideal for a couple of late twenty-something’s, but we made our biggest asset work for us and became cash-flow neutral after taxes. We put away a few thousand a month for our dream house down payment.

2. I interned at a wine shop. I had always wanted to learn about wine and since I couldn’t afford the good stuff, I worked the shop and got a 20% discount. Essie was in class most Saturdays so it gave me something to do while he was finishing his MBA.

3. I stopped shopping and using credit cards. There were some days when I could do some real damage at Barney’s, and thankfully, most of those items were still in style and would hopefully last me through the recession. Keeping my weekends busy (see #2) also kept my mind off materialism.

4. We stopped having hundred-dollar dinners. In Boston, the drinks, apps, entrees, desserts, and drinks can add up really quick. Dinner for two in the Sound End can easily get up to $200 before you know it. Multiply that by Friday and Saturday night and you have a car payment for a brand new BMW. We cooked at home or with friends or went out for Mexican instead of French.

5. We kept driving a crappy Honda Civic. It was (is) a beat up 2003 EX that has been nicked, scratched, and dented by the inconsiderate drivers and snowplows of Boston. She’s not pretty but she is paid off and gets us around. We are still going to keep her until after the construction has begun and we can put a big chunk of cash down on a new car. Donald Trump or some other wildly successful white straight guy once said to never finance a depreciating asset. Whenever I see people my age or younger with a nicer car, I remind myself that my most valuable asset is not my car. Bwah haha! How many properties do YOU have?

6. We used points. I had gobs of hotel and airline points saved up from all of my business travel. We were able to enjoy a couple of long weekends in New York thanks to Marriott and even traveled to Rio De Janeiro last March on American Airline points. NOTE: We were in the beach in Ipanema on the day the market hit bottom. When the points ran out, we went camping. Can’t afford to rent a beach house on Cape Cod? The B&Bs start around $150/night with a 3 night minimum. A campsite runs about $150 for 3 nights for 4 people. Not a horrible way to get your beach on for the 4th of July.

7. Keep investing. Even though I really could have used the extra cash flow, I actually increased my 401k contributions because it was very likely that I would never see stocks so cheap again in my life.

8. Lose weight. Whenever my life feels like it’s spiraling out of control, I hit the gym. My physical body is something I can control when external forces seem turbulent. You feel a sense of accomplishment and progress when headlines are full of doom and gloom. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress. Essie and I both dropped serious poundage last year.

9. Take a chance on a new city. All along we had planned on moving to Austin. My job would transfer me and Essie worked in technology, the dominant sector in Austin. It was risky moving when Essie had no job but we made a leap of faith. We packed up a POD and shipped out to Texas. We drove the Honda cross-country and settled in to a loft apartment (gigantic by Boston standards) about 2 blocks from where we hope to build our house. We have been able to get to know our neighborhood and talk to others who have built in the area. Essie found a great job after a relatively short 6 month search. Austin turned out to be one of the best decisions of our lives.

10. Communicate. I totally understand why people get divorced when they fall on hard times. If Essie and I hadn’t talked out our fears and anxieties, I think it would have been easy to direct the anger/frustration on each other. We didn’t. We still like each other. Home building together might be another story.

Chances are we will never see a recession like this again in our lifetimes and I hope the statistics tell the truth. However, if we find ourselves in a financial predicament again in the future, I know that Essie and I can be nimble and thrifty and can block out the talking heads on TV who foretell the Economic End of Days. We will start construction (hopefully) in August and our mortgage will be about $1,000 less per month with our 20% down payment. We will get a new car when we can pay cash for it, we’re still using points to go to New York and I plan on buying some gorgeous new loafers at the Barney’s summer sale this July. We are also counting down to a fun vacation rental on Cape Cod with our best friends this summer. Camping fucking sucks.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Cooking Gay: Thanksgiving Edition

I must begin by thanking the women who have helped me pursue my love of cooking homosexually: The Gregarious Julia Child who taught me how to tie and season a roast while other kids were watching the Superbowl. Thanks to the diligent editing of Ruth Reichl from Gourmet Magazine (may it rest in peace now that all of those hideous pedestrian magazines have stolen its shelf space. Cooking Light? "Oh look! Another 12 recipes for dry chicken!" More like "Cooking Straight" or "Cooking With No Sense of Metaphor"). Canipes of love also go out to Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso of Silver Palate fame. For without them the 80's would have been a completely useless decade and my drab suburban upbringing would not have been colored with Caviar Roulade and Foie Gras. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner does not have to be complicated. Straight people and their multi-national food corporations will have you think that it's perfectly fine to serve cranberry sauce from a can or make your stuffing from a box. A lesson to you all: stuffing comes from bread, not from boxes. Cranberry "sauce" does not imply to your guests that you are one who lives graciously. "We're having Cranberry chutney and herbed savory bread pudding." Doesn't that sound lovely? Many of my Thanksgiving guests spend the previous night at my house or arrive early to enjoy brunch, cocktails and witty banter. We start with a sausage and manchego strata. An Italian strata is more or less a lazy Gay's quiche. The chef de cuisine layers bread with sheep's milk manchego and crumbled andouille sausage along with caramelized onions, a handful of whatever herbs are on your kitchen windowsill. The strata can be assembled the night before and popped in the oven at 400 degrees and baked for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown. This frees up your morning to talk with your guests about perennial gardening, 4 ply cashmere, the trade deficit, or Madonna's cheek implants. Also, throwing the strata in the oven will allow time to steam, starch, and press your white table cloth and napkins. What?Serve squares of the strata with a mixed green salad (use whatever vinaigrette comes to mind: white balsamic honey thyme, lemon garlic don't need ME to tell you!). Strong coffee is also necessary to keep your guests alert and postured appropriately. As your guests sing along to the Cole Porter songbook, prepare the turkey. Anything over 14lbs and you're in for a gay man's nightmare: dry breast meat. I prefer to brine my turkey for about 8 hours in a bath of spring water, apple-wood smoked salt, white pepper, garlic, and rosemary. I generally follow one of the recipes from Gourmet, as Ruth's relentless kitchen staff have attempted cooking turkeys in every imaginable combination of salts, infused butter, herbs, etc. While you are prepping the turkey, put out a lovely spread of anti-pasti. This past Thanksgiving, I used inspiration from Spanish Tapas to create my nibbles. An earthy block of manchego next to garlic and lemon olives compliments a spicy chorizo. Sweet fig jam next to punchy cornichons and a glass of Juve Y Camps Cava will make the afternoon a delight. "What turkey? These olives are divine!" Gay people like to take the European route and have dinner at a sophisticated hour: anytime after 8pm. This allows time for a workout, assembling your flower arrangements, and a quick facial moisturizing treatment. Every chef must create anticipation for the most homosexually intense meal of the year. As the turkey rests, I make a reduction or "gravy" as straight people refer to it, out of pan juices, a roux, and a little heavy cream. I mash Yukon gold potatoes with salt, pepper, and cream cheese. Quickly saute brussel sprouts with butter, salt, and honey while making sure your savory bread pudding or "stuffing" is becoming golden in the oven. This year, I included mashed yams which were dressed up with pureed chipotle peppers in adobo. This added a nice spicy contrast to the meal without being overly ethnic. Don't forget to add a dab of cranberry apple cutney to each plate. Beaujolais or Gamay are appropriate wines to serve. Chardonnays and Cabernets are for the nuveaux riche who don't understand nuance.Make sure that no guests have an empty glass. If it's on the table, it should be full. This rule applies to water glasses, wine glasses, and any dishes. No one wants to sit at a table with a cleaned plate and an empty champagne flute staring back at them. Also, be sure that your flower arrangements are not too tall or too fragrant. Your table ornamentation should not compete with the extravagance of your menu. As dessert time approaches, polish your snifters and pour your guests 2 fingers of Cognac, Armagnac, or Calvados. I prepare ONE Thanksgiving dessert. You don't want to encourage any already heft guests to over indulge. I enjoy a pumpkin bourbon cheesecake with a graham cracker crust. It says, "I'm down to earth. I understand what average people want." This will put your straight guests as ease.I hope you find these entertainment and cooking tips helpful. May your day of thanks be filled with joy and culinary faggotry.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Life in First Class

“Would you like a drink?” I pause my i-pod and look the over-waxed, flamboyant airline steward square in the face. I enunciate slowly, “Scotch. Two rocks.” “Coming right up, sir. We’re going to be taking off in a few moments, so please put your headset away.” “Got it,” I snatch.

Headset? Who says “headset” anymore? This is 2009. “Oh yes, Queeny McBottom, as soon as my cassette is done rewinding, I’ll be sure to stow my headset.” This faggot is only 25, max, and has taken on the language of the aging, aggressive water buffalo tribe better known as the Airline Attendants Union where hairstyles and vocabulary do not progress past 1987.

They are evil and need to be destroyed.

I should know. I spend a lot of time on planes. I fly 45 weeks a year and have ass-kissing status on every airline in the greater 48. Due to my proverbial timeshare on American Airlines flight 1542 with service to Boston, I find myself in first class more often than not. And here I am. Seat 1B. I’m the first to get on and off the plane, you pedestrian motherfuckers.

The first class attendants tend to be more relaxed and therefore friendlier than their cattle-herding countercows in the back. After all, the first-class attendants only have 12 assholes to wipe versus 100. I don’t want them to feel too privileged, so I make them work. Always remember where you came from. For instance, I like to pretend I’m sleeping and knock over my ceramic ramekin of warm nuts into the aisle only to be followed by an attendant closing her US Magazine and scrambling to clean up the molten peanuts with long, audible sighs. I still pretend to sleep but crack an insidious smile as if I were deep in a blissful dream about unicorns impaling retarded babies.

On days when I’m feeling particularly foul, I’ll pack a delicious wedge of French Epoisses and some stone wheat crackers to snack on during a long flight. I should mention that I am lactose intolerant and have a gluten allergy. Wash that heavenly little snack down with a coffee and by 35 minutes into the flight, I will obliterate the bathroom, which coincidentally, is directly across from the galley where the airline attendants gather to gossip about their meager, petty little existences. Oh yes mis amigos, cheese and wheat really blow me out hardcore. Fuck colonics, I’ve got a recipe that cleans out months of the residual bacteria clinging to my bowels from all the semen, drugs, and red meat I ingest.

I like to think of myself as Karma’s Little Helper, getting back at these assholes for pushing little old ladies down the aisle and keeping the airline industry from profitability with their blood-sucking union demands. It’s the little things, you know?

“Do you think we’ll ever get outta here?” Fuck. I hate this part. The fat ass next to me knows I’m awake and I can’t put my “headset” on. “I don’t know, it’s rush hour in Chicago and it’s raining. I’m not holding my breath.” “I’ll say,” he snorts back.

What is it about fat people? They really gross me out. It always hits me when I’m in line at a Starbucks and I’m forced to look across the bar at strangers while waiting for my drink to be made. I don't really know what to make of the 300lb+ ladies, for instance, who are ordering venti mochas or frappuccinos at 8:00am. I feel like I'd be doing them a disservice by not tapping them on the shoulder and saying, "Hi. Excuse me, I don't mean to interrupt your morning routine but did you know that drink has 650 calories in it? ...and well, let's not fool ourselves, you really should be watching what you eat. Let's trade that in for a nice hot green tea, shall we?" Isn't that what a good patriot should do? Isn’t it Christian? Shouldn't we watch out for the well-being of our fellow consumers? In fact, one day I was putting non-fat milk into my grande mild roast when this heifer rolled up to the counter and hip-checked me out of the way like there was a stash of secret pies behind the napkin dispenser. "There's no half and half", she grunted. I replied concernedly, "maybe someone's trying to tell you something", and exited stage right.

Fatty First Class starts an unsolicited conversation: “Last week I was stuck in Dallas, mechanical problem they said. No announcement until we’d already been on the runway for an hour and a half. What’s the matter with these people?” I respond with a it’s-not-funny-but-I’ll humor-you-half-pity laugh, “I don’t know, I guess it’s just the nature of the beast.”

Please shut up. Please shut up. Please shut up. Fucking shut up. Fuck.

“I remember back in the 90’s when you could walk up to the gate, find your seat and be in the air 10 minutes after you got to the airport. So what brings you to Chicago?” “Oh, I’m just connecting from Denver, on my way home to Boston.” “Boston, eh? Where’s the accent?” “I don’t have one. I’m educated.” “HA! Well then, you know, I used to work in Boston for a drug company.”

Fuck me. Here we go.

Fortunately, I’ve been in this situation 100 times before and I know how to keep him going for hours without ever having to divulge a single personal detail about myself. When I do, I usually lie. Not those hey-bro-let’s-lie-to-this-chick-at-the-bar genre of lies. More subtle, believable lies. Lies that make you think, “Oh, you know this guy is interesting. He has his shit together but seems like he’s on the wrong career path. I get a good feeling in my gut from this one. I think I’ll offer him a job.”

And that’s how I climb the corporate ladder, by getting these self-obsessed, generic blow-hards to offer me jobs. I merely coax them into to talking about themselves and magically deceive them into thinking that I’m the exact person they were at my age. It’s quite easy. I’ve made a lot of money doing it. Not like, penthouse-in-the-sky money, but a good sized-suitcase full of money. I crossed the $100,000 threshold on my W-2 for the first time at age 23. Now, at the ripe and grizzly old age of 30, I have a handful of properties, a healthy savings account, and a job title usually afforded to douche bags 15 years my senior. I can handle this shithead.

“Oh, so you’re in pharma. What do you think about the drug Merck has in the pipeline?” I fake interest. “You follow Merck? Don’t even get me started…” Every pharmaceutical company in the world has a new drug in the pipeline. That’s what they fucking do.

Engaging powerful people requires knowing a microcosm of each industry. It cost me a $65,000 piece of paper from business school to learn that. Most of my friends are the opposite of me; they care about integrity, benevolence, lactaid. They want to change the world, get respect for their artwork, have anal sex with someone they love.

They earn the square route of my paycheck.

They coo, “How did you become so successful?” “You are so ambitious.” “I can’t believe what you’ve accomplished at your age.” “Oh just a lot of elbow grease and good work ethic”, I respond. In reality, I make money via manipulation and lies. You may think that sounds harsh but please, hold your judgment. I’m not stealing diamonds from holocaust victims; I’m just trying to make a little coin. Everyone could make $1,000 a day if they took off their rose colored glasses, flushed their ideals down the toilet, and learned how to abuse the rape-and-pillage economic system we know as capitalism. I owe little to my academic record, my militancy, my knowledge of complex financial transactions, and more to my whiteness, my toothy smile, and my upbringing in a proselytizing cult.

I don’t believe everything happens for a reason but I believe that I can mind-fuck through the chaos, doggy style.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Toast To My Friends

I wonder how long it takes to forget the fastest way to drive from the South End to Beacon Hill or the quickest way to walk from the North End to the movie Theatre on the Commons? I spent my first few days in Boston with a t-pass, traveling the subway, attempting to learn and conquer every neighborhood. I’ve lived in Somerville, the North End, Dorchester, the South End, and Eastie. If the geography gets fuzzier with time and distance, I hope the memory of my Boston friends does not.

I want to pick on a few of you who have colored (I’m looking at you Amy) my 10 years here:

-Dan. I’m not sure exactly how we first met but we were young Jehovah’s Witnesses who shared a love for art, music, and booze which is immediately enough to get you kicked out of the church. I had a blast with you making fun of bible-thumpers and being the most obnoxious, foul-mouthed, sluttiest Jehovah’s Witnesses that Boston will ever see. I’m happy that we escaped and that you found Erika who is quickly becoming on of our favorite people on the planet.

-Mark. Mark McGrath probably doesn’t remember but we first met when I was probably 12 or 13. I was at a family reunion complete with cans of Bud Light, volleyball, hot dogs, and a riveting discussion about NASCAR. I was daydreaming about my real family pulling up the driveway in their Rolls Royce, putting me in an Armani suit and whisking me away to a Park Avenue penthouse. I stopped daydreaming/jump roping long enough to see a handsome young Mark walking into the backyard with a slightly effeminate man at his side. The reunion was a potluck and Mark brought Foie Gras. I ran over to my Teen Vogue and scribbled in the margins, “Look up cousin Mark after high school.” I’m so happy I did. Thank you for being a mentor and a friend.

On June 1, 2007 Mark risked his life to marry Essie and me in front of the crack heads and prostitutes of Blackstone Square in the South End. Thank you for being part of the happiest day of my life.

-I’d next like to give a shout out to the brown lady in the back. Amy and I go way back to high school were we used to sneak into gay bars underage and make out with boys. We lost touch when she was disfellowshipped and I went on being a JW zombie. We randomly bumped into each other during a snow storm in Downtown Crossing a few years ago and became friends again. I was afraid to getting to know you again after having abandoned you as a brainwashed JW but you have an amazing ability to forgive and move on. Thank you for literally holding my hair back when I was puking out the window of a taxi after my bachelorette party.

-Ben, the mere fact that you make my best friend happier than I’ve ever seen you is reason enough to be friends with you. Fortunately, you’re also awesome. If you break Amy’s heart, Essie and I will rape you. You both are closer than family.

-To the other ethnic friend, Sheryl. I was afraid to meet you and Alan because Essie had built you up to god-like status. I think we probably broke the ice on the dance floor, hip checking frat boys so that we could pop and lock within our own personal space. I know you love us because you took Essie to NYC for his bachelor party, rolled on ecstasy, slept for 45 minutes, got on the Fung Wah in time to get trashed with my bachelorette party at Jacques without skipping a beat. You are a fucking professional.

-Anne Continelli, you are such a cunt. Let me recount our first conversation:
Me: Are you a lesbian?
Anne: Did you just pirouette?

Anne slept over at my place early in our friendship after a show we had been working on. We did a bar crawl up Washington Street. Anne was wearing a shedding red feather boa which later became known by my neighbors as the “Cherokee Trail of Feathers.” Anne, your laugh is infectious and should be patented.

But really I have to lump Steph and Anne together because we have so much history. The three of us spent the summer of 2004 basically jobless and drunk. I could barely come up with my rent but could find $20 to go get drunk with Anne and Steph at Club Café.

-Steph, you are the most creative person I know and you have made every birthday, holiday, and toilet seat more fun. Anne, Steph, and I have a special bond because we’re all dramatic alcoholics who met our boyfriends on the internet. Steph and I were supposed to pack up for New York but we spent too much time trolling the internet and found Essie and Jon who stole our dreams and our “bohemian” lifestyle. Thanks guys.

-Seriously Jon, you reigned in Steph and made her exponentially more awesome. Your enthusiasm doesn’t even annoy me anymore. Also, you can engage Essie when he wants to talk about positrons while Anne, Steph and I discuss the intensity of Anne’s last yeast infection. You have the sweetest of hearts and I can’t wait to show you our new city.

-And to my other little electron, Kyle. You are such a refreshing contrast to Anne’s cuntiness. You put up with constant harassment about being a gamer while still willfully coming to all of our parties and engaging us in intellectual debate. Also, if Keanu Reeves, John Cusack, and Gandalf had a baby, it would be you. Thanks for putting up with us, please come visit.

-Speaking of “putting up with”, don’t mind my friend Deb. She may be little and unnoticed but she will cut a bitch if you get in her way. Deb and I are ladies who lunch. We’re ladies who lunch over a bag of salad and 3 bottles of prosecco, followed by a nap. Even thinking about being in a room with Deb and a bag of pot makes me laugh harder than Anne’s resume. You are the only one here who has actually seen Austin, so I’m counting on you to harass everyone to come visit in your little, annoying way. Deb, you, Anne, Steph, Amy and I are the Sisters of the Immaculate Collection and put every other bridal party to shame with our polyester nun costumes, crucifix confetti, and drunken rendition of Son of a Preacher Man. I worship you guys.

-Lesa, you are my favorite lesbian MBA. You kept me sane during our 18 months together in grad school. I remember leaning over to you during a lecture on supply-chain management and whispering, “What are we making again? Widgets or Chatchkies?” At an Irish Pub on a class trip in DC I taught Lesa the chorus of every Irish song ever written: They ate our food and stole our land so early in the morning. …and other Gaelic phrases like, “Is that a potato in your pants?” …and remember that time we got totally wasted at Auschwitz?

On a serious note, I’ll never forget standing with you at the Lincoln memorial, hearing about your protests and die-ins when the Reagans wouldn’t even utter the word AIDs. You showed me firsthand what an activist looks like.

-Thank you Shelagh for being Lesa’s rock during school and for adopting Essie and I when shit gets bad. We love you both and daydream of lazy afternoons on Herring Cove long into the future.

So, after 10 years in this shitty town of fucked- up roads and high taxes, I can leave knowing that if we get plowed down by an 18 wheeler or gay bashed at the waffle house on our road trip, at least I will die with my favorite person but I will also die with the memory of you. I’m in love with your memory.

To old friends and new starts.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Many Uses of Vodka

According to the website Divine Caroline, there are many household uses for Vodka, other than drinking. I disagree. I don't believe one should waste a spirit with such propensity, only to degrade it to Martha Stewart-esque craftiness. Caroline's Top 10 non-drinking uses are:

1. To remove a bandage painlessly, saturate the bandage with vodka. The solvent dissolves adhesive.

2. To clean the caulking around bathtubs and showers, fill a trigger-spray bottle with vodka, spray the caulking, let set five minutes and wash clean. The alcohol in the vodka kills mold and mildew.

3. Clean jewelry. Soak the jewelry in vodka for five minutes, then rinse, and dry.

4. Clean lipstick from clothing. Rub the stain with vodka, then throw into your regular wash.

5. Remove the glue left behind by a bumper sticker. Rub the glue with a soft, clean cloth soaked with vodka.

6. Prolong the life of razors by filling a cup with vodka and letting your safety razor blade soak in the alcohol after shaving. The vodka disinfects the blade and prevents rusting.

7. Spray vodka on vomit stains, scrub with a brush, then blot dry.

8. Using a cotton ball, apply vodka to your face as an astringent to cleanse the skin and tighten pores.

9. Add a jigger of vodka to a 12-ounce bottle of shampoo. The alcohol cleanses the scalp, removes toxins from hair, and stimulates the growth of healthy hair.

10. Fill a sixteen-ounce trigger-spray bottle and spray bees or wasps to kill them.

Suck it, Caroline. Here are MY top 10 uses for Vodka:

1. To drown internal voices, pour 3 ounces into a chilled glass and slam.

2. To eliminate public speaking anxiety, empty 2 ounces of Vodka into gullet.

3. To stop a bar fight, chug bottle of vodka, break the bottle on wooden chair and proceed to stab opponents with broken bottle.

4. To lubricate family reunions, give Aunt Theresa a glass of lemonade with 2 oz. of vodka and allow 15 minutes to allow for the story about how Grandpa Henry used to force her to "sit on his lap" at 2 in the morning.

5. To make your blind date more attractive, pour 3 oz. of vodka over the rocks and sip briskly. Repeat x 4.

6. To relieve guilt or shame, pour 1 oz of vodka into morning coffee, repeat process at work.

7. To prevent "breakup blues", soak 1 rag with vodka, place in ex's basement and light on fire.

8. To destroy pesky livers, swallow 12 oz. of Vodka, daily.

9. To bed a mormon, freeze 3 oz. of vodka with red Kool-Aid and serve as cold, fun, summertime treats at congregation picnic.

10. To relax the anus for penetration, imbibe 1 handle of vodka and chew down on wooden spoon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I don't blame it all on you, but I don't want to be your friend

I was baptized at this auditorium. The photo you are viewing is the Natick Assembly Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, located in the gorgeous metropolis of Natick, Massachusetts. It is common for youths who are raised in the religion to get baptized in their teen years. I was rather intelligent for my age and extremely competitive so I decided to get baptized at the Natick Assembly Hall at age 12. I thought I could baptize the gay way. Cut to me with a blow dryer, hair gel, and self-tanner in the men's locker room, striking poses in the mirror.

I remember Sister Bias (names HAVE NOT been changed...seriously) handing me a small gift and a handwritten card after the grand event. Gift giving to baptismal candidates is generally discouraged, but I managed to make out with a new creepy Jehovah's Witness briefcase and a few fancy pen sets (all for use in the door to door ministry). Sister Bias recruited my mother and had studied the Bible "Jehovah Style" for 5 years until mom got baptized. She was a tough old broad. Focused, diligent, faithful, judgemental, authoritarian, and all around intimidating. She was the force and structure my mom needed to find meaning in her life and she scared the shit out of me as a child.

Sister Bias coined herself my "spiritual grandmother," although she was less of the sweet fairy-godmother type and more like Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. In her handwritten card, she told me that my day of baptism was the most important day of my life because I was dedicating my life to Jehovah. I knew somewhere in my 12 year-old mind that her remarks were not true and so began years of pretending to like people because Jehovah told me to be friends with everyone, even grumpy old Sister Bias.

My adolescence was pocked by a constant stream of disingenuous behaviors which revolved around trying to please the Jehovah's Witness authorities and grow up sensibly in the lesbian capitol of America: Northampton, Massachusetts.

In my more recent years, I've deprogrammed much of the doctrine, xenophobia, homophobia, and delusions of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Unfortunately, some of the more deep-seated social traits still arise from time to time.

As kids, we could only be friends with other Jehovah's Witnesses. All other children were going to perish in Armageddon, so obviously we didn't want to get too attached. The problem was: most of the other Jehovah's Witness kids sucked. They didn't want to read People magazine or jump rope or listen to Gloria Estefan tapes. They wanted to play softball and watch Sports Center on ESPN even though the season premiere of House of Style was on MTV. How was I supposed to plan my next season of door-to-door preaching outfits without Cindy Crawford's expertise? I hated them all, but they were "good association" so I had to play along.

I realize now that this formed a level of diplomacy in my personality that I struggle with, even today. While I find it easy to make friends, I have a hard time drawing boundaries or backing off when I really don't want to be friends with an individual any longer. There have been 3 people in particular who I have strung along in friendships because I felt as though I had to be friends with them. Eventually my resentment of these friends escalated to the point that I had to end the relationship. All 3 "break-ups" were ugly and could have been avoided had I acknowledged my dissonant behavior earlier in the relationship and called it quits. My Bible-trained diplomacy over-rules my innate understanding that you don't have to be friends with everyone.

The most recent example happened today. I dropped out of a wedding for a girl who I was never that close to, who imagined a close friendship that never transpired. The break was ugly and painful for both of us. It has been playing out like a bad Mexican soap-opera, flush with runny mascara and mangled blond hair-extensions. Aye dios mio.

With this in mind, I wrote to another former friend who I broke up with by giving him the silent treatment. Totally unacceptable behavior on my part. In an attempt to acknowledge this personality flaw, I wrote him this:

"I was thinking about you this weekend. Essie and I are moving to Austin in a few weeks and I've been relishing my remaining time in Boston. I was in the South End on Saturday night and remembering all the late nights at Club Cafe and Eagle and Francesca's and trips to P-town and on and on.

I owe you an apology for disappearing out of your life before you moved to Florida. I needed space in our relationship and instead of being honest with you, I dealt with it passive/aggressively and for that I'm sorry. I look back fondly on the time we spent together and will always appreciate your generosity with I was jobless and your emotional support when I was dealing with alienation from my family. You were a very loyal friend and I treated you horribly. You did not deserve abandonment.

I hope you look back on our friendship with as much laughter and happiness as I do."

Maybe I'm just trying to excuse the guilt I have for the bride I broke up with, but it felt really good to write to someone I had wronged and try to learn from and dig deeper into the etiology of these experiences. I want to be better than this. I want to say "enough is enough" before things get out of control. I want to stand up for myself and my unhappiness by grabbing my jump rope and remote control and going forth to change ESPN to House of Style starring Supermodel Cindy Crawford...even if it alienates people.
"I will not pretend
I will not put on a smile
I will not say 'I'm alright for you'
When all I wanted was to be good
To do everything in truth."
-Martha Wainwright

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thunder & Lightning

No, this is not a post about abortion. This is a post about my mother. My mother is anti-abortion. She's anti-a lot of things including non-Jehovah's Witnesses. My mom, however, is not a bible thumping, snake handling evangelist. You'd think with the whole "I don't really have a close relationship with my gay son because the bible says his 'lifestyle' is wrong" thing she'd be one of those mean and nasty Christians we've come to know and despise. She's not.

Mom is actually just a really docile, timid person who happens to be extremely faithful because she finds the real world too scary to deal with on terms other than Jesus infused absolutes. She came from a family of 6 kids. She was the sensitive one who cried a lot. Mom married her first real boyfriend and was a devout Catholic until her brother died tragically and Jehovah's Witnesses showed up at her door with "the truth" about what happens to the dead. She was ripe for their brand of mind control.

Because I know her personality so well, I can't be mad at her for being a JoJo (my endearing nickname for Jehovah's Witnesses). I can be furious at the JoJos for destroying my family, but I totally get why she's one of them. I don't have it in my heart to trash their organization in front of her even though I'm usually the first one to bitch about their mind-fuckery. She was the perfect recruit and raised us in the faith for no other reason than she felt like she was throwing us a life jacket. My brother stuck around, I bolted on the first bus to Boston days after I graduated high school.

I had a nearly idyllic childhood with the sweetest mom on earth who defended and fought for her children tooth and nail. I had a mother who never missed a dance performance, piano recital, or high school theatre production. (She was "shocked" when I came out?!) With or without Jehovah, I'll always love and look back fondly on the home she made for us.

I've always had a mean streak, perhaps it's part of the gay gene. JoJo's try to get follwers to "strip off the old personality" and become meek, governable people. Maybe it was all the Whitney Houston, maybe it was all the Sally Jesse Raphael, but I could not drop the sarcastic remarks and cynical comments post bible-study. Mom pushed me to try to change but also laughed at my mocking jokes in secret dissent, out of ear shot of the congregation elders.

The organization's publications are written in near biblical prose which reads as culturally out of touch and ridiculous to any outside intellectual. Imagine Yoda with a handful of Jesus thrown in and you've got the perennial Jehovah's Witness journal: The Watchtower. As an ideal JoJo, my mom would even use some of their phrases in everyday speech, to which I would heckle her until she doubled over laughing and begged me to stop. "Do not be mislead. Bad associations spoil useful habits" would turn into "Do not be misfed. Bacon wrapped scallops make for fatty rabbits." At church, Satan is referred to commonly as "the father of the lie." If mom were to make any semi-transparent exaggeration, I would respond with a quick, "what are you getting Satan for father's day." And on and on...

My mean streak would also prompt me to terrorize her, which I did at every possible interval. Just as she was afraid of an oncoming Armageddon, she was equally afraid of thunderstorms. She would close all the curtains in the house, unplug every electronic device, put on a pair of rubber-soled shoes, and hide in the hallway or basement with candles and provisions in case this was the thunderstorm to preface Jehovah's Day of Anger. I would take every opportunity to prey on this fear.

One time during a thunderstorm I pretended to be talking on the phone. Mid-conversation I threw the portable down started screaming that lightning was shooting out of it. I "somehow" could "hear the electricity" coming over the line so I threw the phone against the wall and could "actually see live electricity coming out of the receiver." Mom hugged me tightly and thanked Jehovah for saving me from my impending, lightning induced death. She would thank him for the "biblical" hope of the resurrection where dead, faithful, lightning-struck Christians could walk the earth and praise his glory. I would bury my face in her shoulder and laugh hysterically.

Sometimes she would make us get in the car because the car was "the safest place to be in a thunderstorm." We'd be sitting in the driveway with mom cowering/praying in the front seat, I would wait until shit really got loud, roll down my window, and hang from the waist out of the car, taunting the storm at the top of my lungs. I'm sure I added 15 years to her life.

Always one to push the envelope, screaming out of the open car window in the pouring rain and clapping thunder stopped scaring the B'Jesus out of mom, so I had to find another way to engage in good old son/mother terror mongering. In the dead of summer, with dark, ominous clouds rolling in, I would wait for the interior of the house to get really dark, and for mom to get her candles going. I crept quietly into the kitchen, took out the aluminium foil and wrapped a couple of layers around my chest. "Mom! Come see my new outfit!" She'd come running into the living room to the sight of me standing chest out in front of the picture window. Maternal panic ensues.

Now for the coup d'etat.

Once she realized sitting in the car was no good and that she had to hide the cordless phone and aluminum foil during "God's Discos" as I referred to them, I had to freak her out with something completely novel. Being a creative kid with a knack for fashion, I scoured my closet (this was my designated thunderstorm shelter) for shirts with metal embellishments, shoes with taps, anything that would taunt nature's electric forces and make my mother crap her pants. "Of course! How could I be so blind!", I exclaimed. Yes, I had found the perfect instrument to solicit surefire electrocution: the much despised wire hanger.

I bent the hanger into a halo-like headband with the hook pointing straight up like a skyscraper lightning rod and snickered homosexually into my bedroom mirror. With a stealthy leap out of my bedroom window, I was ankle deep in the late-summer downpour with streaks of lightning in every direction. I went up to the picture window and banged on the glass furiously. When mom appeared, candle in hand, and saw my accessory of death, she screamed a hair-raising scream to which I threw my arms in the air and ran like an epileptic around the front yard.

Rarely in my life have I laughed as hard as I did when scaring my mother. I miss her.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Some folks like to get away, take a holiday from the neighborhood

Hop a flight to miami beach or hollywood.
I'm taking a greyhound [or fung wah] on the hudson river line
I'm in a new york state of mind.

I seen all the movie stars in their fancy cars and their limousines,
Been high in the rockies under the evergreens,
But I know what Im needing and I dont want to waste more time-
I'm in a new york state of mind.

It was so easy living day by day
Out of touch with the rhythm and the blues,
But now I need a little give and take,
The new york times, the daily news...

It comes down to reality-and its fine with me cause Ive let it slide,
Dont care if its chinatown or riverside,
I dont have any reasons, Ive left them all behind-
I'm in a new york state of mind

-The Piano Man

Essie and I went to New York for my birthday/Memorial Day weekend. I've written odes to New York before but this was an exceptional weekend. Instead of recounting every detail, I'm going to vomit links at you, and recommend you attempt to see every one of these places if you take a trip to the greatest city in the world:

Follow my advice and you will live a happier life.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

resuscitation vacation

I want to go undersea in a diving-bell
and return to the surface with ominous wonders to tell.
-Tennessee Williams

Essie and I went to Rio De Janeiro about a month ago. Everyone keeps asking me "how Brazil was", to which I respond with a detached, "great." It was our second time there so there were no real new surprises. Our good friends Ben and Robert met us there which made for more ambitious day trips than had we been left to our own devices.

Truth is, not many Americans choose to fly 13 hours to a 3rd world country for their yearly vacation. Most people are happy enough taking a 3 hour flight to Mexico or some resort island only to be surrounded by brown people serving up weak cocktails followed by dinner at the Outback Steakhouse and a nightcap of hotel-bar karaoke. Not my idea of vacation.

I need to go somewhere that challenges me. I want to explore our planet and see how other people live their lives sans 24 hour news stations. Vacations have never really been about relaxation as they are about taking me out of my comfort zone and adapting to the world around me, the real world that emerges when you're the only white person in a restaurant or the only American for 20 square miles.

Rio renewed me in so many ways. Aside from sufficient vitamin D with beachside caipirinha chasers, rainforest hikes, and the standard breathtaking vistas, Rio perscribed equal parts reality and transcendence.
In Rio, you are surrounded by extreme wealth and extreme poverty. The reality of pre-teen hustlers next to multi-million dollar townhouses go together like peanut butter and jelly in this town. At night when the favelas light up the mountainsides like white strings of lights coiled around mountainous Christmas trees, you wonder: "when are they going to get pissed off enough to come down here and revolt?"

Two things make the poor and rich coexist relatively peacefully: beach & samba. There is no dominant race in Rio. In fact, they've won the proverbial gene lottery in the sense that they are a mix of European, Indigenous, and African blood. Cariocas (residents of Rio) define "culturally ambiguous." This racial mix has produced a country full of gorgeous dark-skinned, light-eyed, curly-haired supermodels. On the beach clad only in the smallest trunks/swimsuit money can buy, people mingle, drink, play soccer, roll in the waves and proudly strut their hotness regardless of age, sex, or skin color. People get off the bus in business attire around 5, strip down to almost nothing, and meet friends for smoothies and a round of soccer/volleyball until the sun goes down. Seems healthier than us gringos trying to squeeze in a 30 minute cardio workout after a 10 hour workday.

I think the samba is satanic. Watching live samba is like watching a snake charmer heal the unbelievers at a baptist church in Alabama. Our night at the Rio Scenarium (second time there) reminded me how much music can change your mood, lift you up, and make you dance no matter how bad a mood you may be in. Cariocas shake their hips, dance with people twice their age, and rub shoulders with every socio-economic class while never missing a word of the chorus. The Afro-Brazilian drummers make you want to roll your eyes back letting the percussion lift you up from the crown of your head, levitating over the dancefloor. It's a happiness that permeates the room in a way I almost never experience in America.

All in all, Rio reminded me that I'm living the right way. Rebelling from the status quo can be exhausting in the United States. Turning off the TV, making music, giving in to your humanist tendencies are all discouraged by the corporate canopy. Brazil gave me the clarity of knowing that other people on the planet hold the same simple things close to their hearts. Nature and music allow us to transcend banking crises, declining stock portfolios, and over consumptive behaviors.

Every taxi driver in Rio congratulated me on my new president. They are so happy for America so I can only smile and nod with hidden envy for their sun and basic rhythms. I hope that I can create microclimates of Rio for my kids and my friends, pushing out corporate greed, mindless cultural anxiety, and whitebreadedness that permeates our isolated cultural drama. I want to make the waves crash harder, the sun shine hotter, and the music play later like Rio taught me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Inner Rapper

I came up with this in the shower today, I don't know why. I've been listening to a lot of old school LL Cool J and Kanye West lately:

Booty shaking to a champagne toast

More shady than a craigslist post

Gettin' skinny don't mean to boast

Got a chicken that I need to roast

Break dancing on a taxas floor

Call the ER, ready for more

Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday

But never ever mother fucking jam today

Ode to My Shoes

Sometimes I forget that I'm the bomb. Life knocks me down. People get in my way. Recessions leave me feeling powerless. When I feel this way, I just look down. At my shoes. My shoes are really awesome. My shoes elongate my full 6'3" frame and make me hold my chin parallel to the ground, reminding me to walk tall with certainty and determination.

My shoes kick balls from the boardroom to the barroom and step on minions who dare cross my path. My shoes help me to articulate. They help me trump adversaries. My shoes say, "don't fuck with me, I'll tread all over you."

I grow out of my shoes like a lotus flower from a lilly pad.

My sleds rock boxes, kick foxes, make you wonder who the pimp without the socks is.

From the leather soles of Harris, through the thread of Prada, tied with laces by Gabanna, don't FUCK with my shoes.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fun With Chimps

On Monday, February 16th a Connecticut woman was brutally attacked by a 200 pound domesticated Chimpanzee named Travis. The owner, 70 year old Sandra Herold, called her friend, 55 year old Charla Nash to come over and help with the chimp who was behaving erratically. Upon seeing Ms. Nash in the driveway, Travis descended upon her with all of his might, biting and scratching at a furious pace. Ms. Herold proceeded to run out to the driveway with a butcher knife and stabbed Travis repeatedly. Unable to calm the maniacal chimp, police arrived and shot Travis twice. The chimp receded to his living quarters and died from his wounds.

I will attempt to portray the events leading up to the attack in theatrical style.

[Scene: Stamford Connecticut. It is a chilling February dusk. Warm light glimmers from inside a quaint, understated, antique Victorian with a wrap-around porch. Monkey bars peek out from behind a garage. Leaves blow in petite whirls on a driveway, carelessly tiptoeing over browned banana peels. The street is quiet.

Inside the home we find a 70 year-old woman, Sandra, in the kitchen preparing a salad of roasted root vegetables on her granite counter-topped island. She is wearing pleated corduroys and a navy cotton turtleneck sweater. The sound of cutting can be heard. In an adjacent room, a chimp named Travis, reads The Economist through round, vintage spectacles. He wears a blazer and a diaper and pendulates slowly in a wooden rocking chair.]

TRAVIS: [He yells into the kitchen from his rocking chair] Sandy, can you believe that our current account deficit is approximately 4% of our GDP?! The Obama administration really has their work cut out for them. Remember when we had brunch with Paul Krugman at Sally's last weekend? He thinks it's going to get even WORSE in Q2. I'm so happy we sold out of our high yield bond portfolio last September, the whole market is going ape shit. [Pause] Honey, what are we up tonight? Do you mind if we just lay low? I feel like we've been running ragged the past few nights and I just need to relax.

SANDRA: [Continues chopping vegetables] Well, actually, I kind of thought we could have a dinner party tonight. I'm making this salad and I thought you might like to cook an entree. You know, you haven't had a chance to really make anything new since the bananas foster you made at our New Year's party. I thought I'd have over...

TRAVIS: Oh, marvelous. There's this new recipe in Gourmet for spiced rubbed cornish hens that I've been dying to try. Who did you invite? Al Maysles?


TRAVIS: Bill Hambrecht, the hedge fund manager? [Pause] Oh, you must have invited Dr. Sharma and his cousin Raj who just started teaching organic bio at Yale.

SANDRA: No, no, and no. I wanted it to be a little more intimate, so I just invited one friend. I mean, she's having a lot of personal problems and she really enjoys spending time with us. You know, she feels at home here, and I just couldn't leave her...


SANDRA: [Stops chopping] It's...Charla Nash.

TRAVIS: WHAT!? [Travis somersaults from the living room to the kitchen island where Sandra is standing. Anger brews in his eyes.] That fucking West Hartford piece of uncultured white trash?! Is this some kind of joke?

SANDRA: [Flustered] No, no. I know you don't like her but she's just...

TRAVIS: Don't like her? [Raises voice] Don't LIKE her?! At our last dinner party, the bitch brought her "famous" string-bean casserole with those crusty little fried onions from a can. I wanted to vomit all over her macrame cardigan. [Sarcastically] Oh thanks Charla, let me just serve this duck liver terrine and 1998 vintage Bordeaux alongside a STEAMING PILE OF YOUR FUCKING CASSEROLE!

SANDRA: [Becoming meek, backing away from Travis] She's not that bad, Travis. I mean she supports our political efforts...

TRAVIS: [Pacing back and forth across the room] Supports our political efforts? She thought our fundraiser to get the Bronx zoo to stop Euthanasia was a racist attempt to keep young Japanese tourists from visiting the sea lion exhibit. She's a fucking idiot!

SANDRA: You always think my friends are idiots, I have no control over my own social life, and you never let...

TRAVIS: Oooooh. So that's what this is all about. Well maybe your friends are retarded. Maybe you can't relate to the people in this town because you were just a C student from the wrong side of Greenwich. Don't blame this on me Sandy, don't you FUCKING blame this on me. [reaches into diaper, pulls out a handful of feces, and throws it at the wall]

SANDRA: Jesus Christ Travis, why don't you pop a couple of Xanax and chill the fuck out. Charla is going to be here any minute.

TRAVIS: I will not stand to have that bumbling hillbilly in my house, drinking MY wine, eating MY food, drooling on MY Italian leather sofa with her frothy, opaque discharge.

SANDRA: There is no reason to get this upset, Travis, you are completely out of control.

TRAVIS: [Swinging from Chandelier] Out of control? You wanna see out of control? If I see that bitch Charla one more time, I'M GOING TO RIP HER FUCKING FACE OFF!

[Headlights appear in the driveway. Travis bolts through the front door. Blood curdling screams are heard offstage. Sandra grabs her butcher knife and runs out to the driveway. Blackout.]