Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Averageness Of It All.

It's been awhile since I've blogged. Why?  I've become so average. So settled in my middle aged (post 40, oops, post 50) life. There were several points in my life where I felt exceptional, where through smarts, looks or luck I managed cool escapes, minor crises, learned life lessons. Yet now, I sit in traffic, punch in-punch-out, and contemplate that a well lived life is rewarded with averageness. 

The reward is a quiet middle class life, with very little drama.  Where grey hairs add up with gray days. Where a days work is rewarded with a quiet evening in front of TV news watching with detachment as society becomes steadily unhinged. At the same time feeling protected in my bubble of liberalness, middle classness, whiteness. 

So what do you do? Maintaining fabulousness is work. It requires tension. It requires risks, it requires drama.  By this time in my life, which includes lots of therapy, its supposedly antithetical to what I want in my life.  Even creating the image of being fabulous is hard, social media is a cruel mistress, it requires constant feeding and attention.   I'd rather jump into someone else's selfie than actually taking the time to lift the phone, press the little thingy that changes the camera to my face, and actually make some kind of smug happy face to impress myself or others.  Also, I work at home, so I don't even to make the minimum effort to look respectable, let alone impress anyone at all. 

The beauty of this averageness is that I don't need to put up with anything uncomfortable at all.  Most of my interactions are professional ones via phone or email, so conversations are professional and detached.  Friendships are baked in and gently maintained with just the right amount of attention to maintain a dignified intimacy, nostalgia replaces the need for alcohol fueled revelry.  Caring about social issues are from a detached standpoint, albeit still a passionate one. I'm no longer two paychecks away from homelessness.

Yet the tension remains, jump in again to activism? Fashion? Edginess? Could I pull off skinny jeans? Do I knit a pussy-hat and wear it to the supermarket? Be the creepy old guy at a club, buying drinks for cute tourists with daddy issues? (Hey, they're in Miami to get laid!) What do you do to stay relevant in your own life?  That sofa is so much more inviting than a bar stool, dance floor or even laying out in the sand. 

The answer is yes. You protest and pass out on the sofa after.  You ride 165 miles on a bike to Key West to fight HIV and pass out on the hotel room after. You say "fuck the skinny jeans" they look stupid on anyone older than 13. You join a gay swim team and compete in Paris at an international swim meet.  You have a threesome with someone younger than your grown children.  You enjoy the veneer of averageness, but I remember that saying: "it's about the life in your years, not the years in your life."   Stay Fabulous friends.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Irmapocolypse and its Aftermath

I'll be the first to admit to some post-Irma-traumatic-hysteria.  But before I get to that I want to address the pre-Irma-hysteria that occurred prior to the largest, most powerful Atlantic storm on record. I would say that a lot of it was ginned up by the Mass Social Media Hysteria Complex that exists in this country.

My corporate headquarters is in a quaint office park squeezed between the Everglades, some mcmansions and a golf course in northwest Broward county.  Several of my co-workers,  who had never been in a hurricane before basically broke down in tears....on Tuesday....almost 5 days before the storm....more than 35 miles from the coast.  It's like somebody told them they had 5 days to live. I blame the Mass Social Media Hysteria Complex that exists in this country.  If you are so so hysterical that you can't find a rock to hide under, a tank of gas, a couple of gallons of water and five days of junk food, five days before a storm you really need to move to Brazil where there are basically no natural disasters.

By Wednesday the hysteria was peaked that people were hauling ass to South Carolina, I had a friend flee to Missouri. Driving 20 hours to be "safe".  If you need to drive 20 hours away you could just as well find a shelter and spend 40 hours there...I mean 20 hours driving in a car and 20 hours back or sitting in a high school gymnasium is about the same level of discomfort.  Of course well heeled evacuees could always stay in of thousands of hotels that exist in the Orlando area. But hey, the media said that this was basically an Irmapocolypse so yeah, get the fuck out while you can. 

As usual the Mass Social Media Hysteria Complex got a lot of it wrong. Storm was a category 3, which while bad, is not "flee to Missouri" bad. I've been to St. Louis and upon reflection, a high school gymnasium with cots doesn't seem so bad. Most Native Floridians would settle in for a gathering of friends in a safe house and get drunk for a cat 3 storm because sobriety is not necessary for the big bad cat 3 storm blowing palm fronds against your lanai and screened in pool.

The Aftermath.  As with any apocalypse, the Irmapocalypse is about getting back to normal. I'm not ashamed to say that two nights in September without power is my limit.  Tears and wishing for death crossed my mind as the humidity pressed on me throughout the day and night.  Endless showering and changes of underwear. The inability to wash clothes, cook food, have a cold rum and coke finally broke me. In my delirium I evacuated to a  friend's luxury condo on South Beach that had electricity and A/C but no internet.

Internet/Cable deprivation syndrome.  I realize the whole system is rigged, we are force dependent on our cable companies and internet service providers. I actually have an HD antenna hooked up to my TV.   The signal was pretty crappy and it made me rethink my commitment to PBS since that was the only signal that has a very sad show lineup. Masterpiece Theater is nothing without Downton Abbey. My internet is connected to core functions of my home: A/C, security system, entertainment, porn.  All almost unavailable without an internet signal.  Thank god for my mobile phone, but even that had some spotty connections and even delayed my cries for pity on Facebook. 

But all is good again and lessons learned will soon be forgot. The Irmapocolypse is now just two weeks of our lives that reminds us of the price of living in paradise. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Nazis? Really, Nazis. In pressed polo shirts.

I grew up in a time where Nazis were Sergeant Shultz and Colonel Klink, bumbling fools being hoodwinked by American POWs.  Everyday after school we'd watch Hogan's Heroes and the Rat Patrol and watch American's outsmart the Nazis every time. On PBS there were endless documentaries about WWII and the different offensives.  The documentaries about the sieges of St. Petersburg and Stalingrad showed civilian populations reduced to eating wallpaper glue. On the big screen we could watch Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List and understand that in popular culture Nazis were both dim and evil.

What changed? When did it become cool for Nazis, KKK and white supremacists to just show up, faces exposed?  How can the president of ALL Americans say there were "many fine people on both sides?" attending. One side was Nazis fascists and KKK.   Sadly, a tiki torch, a very gay haircut, and a new polo shirt is now the "look" for fascists these days. 

Trump's full throated defense of the "alt right" to the point of creating a new enemy "alt left" (where do I sign up?) is deeply, deeply troubling.  Yet at the same time he reminds me of the sweet bumbling Sergeant Schultz, who was so easily swayed by whomever was standing closest to him, and the exasperated Colonel Klink who would gesticulated in anger at being hoodwinked by the Allies at every turn.

What the president has done has given ambiguity to the White Nationalist cause.  That in those rallies there could be "good people" who have a legitimate beef with immigrants and people of color.  He has created a door into public discourse for ethno-nationalism. We used to think of Nazis as the "bad guys" in  Hogan's Heroes under this president they're not "bad" they're actually victims too.
Let's just reaffirm: Nazis are bad. Fascists are bad. Racists are bad.  There are no "fine people" on their side. None. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Hello, My Name Is "LIBERAL" and I'm a Trump addict. It's been 20 minutes since my last fix.

I love watching Russian dashcam videos on YouTube.  I mean if ever there was a metaphor for this White House it is Russian dashcam videos.  You're watching people chatting in their car driving on a stretch of road and BOOM out of nowhere a truck, a Range Rover, a bear, a stroller, or another car careens across the road. Sometimes you can see the bodies flung outside the car just like  Reince Preibus being cast out of the White House. It's not pretty, but it sure is mesmerizing.  They are also a good metaphor because each clip is short, cruel and really unexpected.  Yet there is a detachment, knowing this is happening in a far off place and knowing that type of driving is just not so commonplace in America.  

Every night I rush home to watch the "Trump Reality Show".  I once watched a Spanish language telenovela before DVRs were invented. My husband and I would run home every night to be sure we didn't miss an episode. Every episode seemed like a little cliffhanger, pushing the plot further. The storyline moved incrementally with the requisite drama, theatrics, and plenty of emoting.   I swear this is what I see on MSNBC and other news outlets every night.  

My brain in its wish to see the end of this administration, is now ironically addicted to this it. Just when things were starting to get tedious,(come on Mueller, get this done already!) Anthony "the Mooch" Scaramucci, THE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT, uses the terms: fuck, cock sucker, suck his own cock and go fuck themselves in HIS FIRST INTERVIEW!  My neurons are completely and totally growing dependent on this kind of vitriol.  It's like Dynasty meets Dallas meets Face The Nation meets The Apprentice. I am getting an endorphin rush thinking about all the possible combinations of infighting and possible random occurrences that happen on the Trump show.  It's like that polar bear in the first season of Lost....very random, did we ever see it again? Of course Lost was very random, but then again so is Carter Page. 

So do I want to go back to the quaint old days of  just "ramming health care down our throats"? To the staid days where a scandal meant being on a Washington madam's client list, which  happened maybe once or twice in an administration?  Or the daily cerebral wash of endorphins I get when another Republican literally cannibalizes another?  Can I go back to the days of Chuck Todd opining on "government shut-downs", which seems almost quaint in comparison to "The Mooch" saying "he doesn't stab in the back, he stabs you in the front."  My Trump addicted physical body says: "yes, just one more hit, it'll be a quick high."  However, like any addiction, my spirit and psyche knows that this addiction, like any other, will leave a broken shell that will need a whole lot more than a 12 step program to fix.

"Hello my name is ___________ and I'm a Trump addict."

Monday, July 17, 2017

When the Spouse is Away for a Long Assignment OR Why Are There Clothes All Over The Floor?

Honey, but my career...
So my hubby recently accepted a four month assignment in Brazil.  We both agreed it was something we could do and it felt that it would give his career the boost it needed.  What I didn't anticipate were some of the challenges of being on my own again.  So we've lived this shared life for over 20  years, and roles, responsibilities, friendships and rituals are all kind of baked in.  So having to tease all of that out and figure out what I need to do to get on with the business of life is a challenge.

Well, they're not going to pick up themselves!
"What the hell are all of these clothes doing all over the house?"After my hubby left, I found myself tripping over socks, workout clothes, shoes, pizza boxes and such.  I was thinking: geez a real pig lives here and the person who normally picks up all this shit must have a lot of patience. And then it hits me: picking up shit must by synonymous with loving me.  So for the last week, I've done some self love and picked up and maintained the house until the housekeeper comes back on Tuesday. 

All of "our" friends are having such a great time going to parties and having dinners....and not inviting me. Social Media betrays all bias in friendships. They probably sit around reading my hubby's Facebook feed and and look at all the cool friends he's meeting in Brazil, who will also ignore me when he's not around. If this sounds bitter.....well okay. You realize, that in several relationships, people really only put up with you to hang out with your husband. They must have the same conversation you have with your spouse "My friend is such fun, pity he made such a poor choice in a spouse."  

Dogs are awesome!
Your dog is really your best friend. Who had a Sushi dinner with me on Saturday? My dog.  Who had a hip gay brunch with me on Sunday? My dog.  Who is sleeping in my bed now? My dog.  Never in my life have I realized, that canine affection can be the sole thing keeping us happy and well balanced. How welcome the touch of a cold nose to the back my knee is. The sheer joy of a barked greeting when I walk in the door can mean so much. 

With technology you never really need to get up off the sofa. I leave my door unlocked and tell the Ubereats guy I'm disabled, and needs to actually come into the house to the sofa.  Through Ubereats I  can choose just about any food I want, and not really move. Internet at my fingertips, remote controls, Alexa all work in concert to keep me on the sofa for as long a stretch as possible....there's even a new dog walking app.....but hey...there are limits. 
Big Mac, fries, large coke

So to summarize, being home alone without your significant other basically sucks.  Technology, domesticated animals, and self discipline take out the sting, but at the end of the day my spouse is my best friend, comrade, confidant and workout partner.  Life feels pretty dull without him.

Monday, June 26, 2017

When Pride Intersects with Fear.

So let's say hypothetically I have a good friend in the security business.  He is privy to lots of information, let's say he calls me and says "hey, I've heard some chatter and that giant gay mega-Pride you're going to in Madrid is a target, be careful".  What are you going to do? Cancel your European vacation?, Stay away from the event? Or go anyway and take your chances? 

So as gay men and women what do we do?  I mean I'm still a part of a generation that remembers police raids on gay bars and massive arrests for no reason other than hanging out with our friends.  I can remember an underground world of parties that were spread by word of mouth in secret locations for fear the authorities would descend and ruin lives for simply wanting to be with your own kind. I remember being threatened by a police officer to "pay the fine, or we'll put your name in the newspaper."(I didn't.) 

I am still part of a generation where government inaction and homophobic prejudice led to the death of 500,000 gay men from a pretty horrible disease. A generation of people who had to hide their relationships from the world for fear of eviction, shunning or public shame. 

I also come from a community that overcame each and every one of those battles so I could marry the man I love, live a life of prosperity and face my community with dignity.  I fully hope the "chatter" is not true, that all the gay pride events continue to be safe, fun and meaningful.  I believe in the western ideals of democracy, of equality for all individuals and freedom of expression.  I believe in this because I have fought for it in court, at the ballot box, in the streets, in the dying rooms of hospitals.  I will not let events like what happened at Pulse nightclub last year stop me from celebrating my hard won freedoms.

So I'm going to celebrate my victories at International Gay Pride in Madrid.  I can only hope the security services are there to protect my right to assemble, to speak out, to be a citizen of a great western democracy and understand we cannot be afraid of "chatter".  We can not bow down to fear. Why? because I come from a generation of gay men where fear was worn like a very comfortable coat that hung in a very dark closet. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

What Father's Day Means for a Gay Dad

Parenting was never a goal or dream I set out for.   I don't think it was because I was gay or anything, I just didn't really feel any desire to procreate or extend the species. Being the middle son of three battling boys, I didn't feel the need to replicate the general emotional and property damage propagated by kids.  However, fate had a different idea and 21 years ago gave me a wonderful single dad who in turn gave me the opportunity of fatherhood.

So today I'd like to thank that man who gave me the opportunity to raise his son as my own. I still remember the romantic date where he dropped the bomb about being a father....a single one at that....and that choice I had to make about dating a someone who was already a parent, and by extension possibly making me one too.  I was young at the time, already working in a field with kids, so I blithely accepted the opportunity to be one of the men who would raise his six year old son.

So being with a father and by extension being trained to be one was interesting and exciting and somehow natural. Earning "parent" status from father and son was one of those roles that you both take and earn.  Just like the evolution from boyfriend to life partner and finally husband, little by little you wake up and realize you're "Dad" and no matter what happens, you know it's your title forever. 

As I learned to be a father, I learned to fight for my role, because or myself or others who are so quick to deny status to a "step parent" or "co-parent". My own reticence to explain who I was in scheme of things. Like being at the pediatrician and saying I was an "uncle" because I didn't want to explain the awkward "no I'm a gay dad" and having been chastised by my eight year old son to say "Why didn't you tell him you were my Dad!!!!"  After that, I said unequivocally to anyone who asked who I was, I'd say: "I'm his father" and I was secure and certain in that role. It was that certainty that made me understand that at last I was an adult and for a long time this boy became the center of my life, to the exclusion of many of my own wants or desires. 

From the gay man's perspective, raising a son made me chafe at the female chauvinism that "only a mother can raise a child", which is just as damaging to the kid who doesn't get to chose his parents, to the parent who is doing the best they can with cards they are dealt.  Secondly, it made me angry at "allies" who still to this day refer to gay men as "boys" because  of  their childless lifestyles. Kids are not in the cards for everyone and it is not a comment on their maturity because children are amazingly expensive for childless couples regardless of sexual identity. 

So to my son, thank you for letting me your dad, you have made me proud beyond measure and my life without you would have been poorer for not having you in it.  To my husband, you taught me to be the father and man I am today. I am so lucky to have these two wonderful men in my life who make me so proud of them and how they helped me be a better person and even a better Gay.  Happy Fathers Day!

Monday, June 5, 2017

LGBT Athletes Take A Backseat at Outgames, Scandal and Cultural Events Dominate

IGLA Championships in Miami

So perusing social media and media in general, coverage of last week's "failed" Outgames was limited to scandal, scandal, and a few short paragraphs about a LGBT swim meet and fawning of the cultural events that accompanied the sports.  The Miami Herald's coverage was particularly dismal and pretty clear that had no scandal occurred, there would have been no coverage whatsoever. Same can be said for local gay media.  Which is a shame because it was the 30th Anniversary of International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics, an organization dedicated to elevating LGBT swimmers and ensuring that gay and lesbian swimmers are respected for all of their accomplishments in the water. Outgames are about competing with dignity, about fighting homophobia in sports. 

It was a real shocker when Outgames cancelled on the opening day of the 10 day sporting event. Naturally, being funded by the City of Miami Beach, a scandal ensued, especially since thousands of athletes had already arrived and were told that their events were cancelled.  Rightfully, media pounced on the ensuing scandal and began coverage.

What was clear to me however, is the local media, gay or otherwise, had no intention of covering the sporting events at all. Sadly, it was clear that no reporters were going to cover swimming, field hockey, soccer or volleyball. It was clear that our "LGBT special correspondent" Steve Rothaus was unable to leverage a single line from the Miami Herald's sports desk, not one photographer to take some shots of athletes doing amazing things, even breaking records!  

From an LGBT athlete's perspective it's more of the same homophobia.  Sports is the one place that is still not welcoming to LGBT community, to the point that we have constructed parallel organizations that let us compete in safety, with dignity.  The homophobia that reigned in the locker rooms of our youth, extends to the gay community denigrating sports in general. Secondly, the messages sent to athletes in the closet are loud and clear, don't expect much support from the LGBT community either. 

I want to say that Miami's  LGBT swim team, The Nadadores, and water polo team,The Miami Vice, distinguished themselves in the water and on the pool deck. Hosting the largest swimming event in Miami in years, over 600 swimmers from 36 countries. Volunteers stepped up with the collapse of the Outgames and helped show how amazing Miami is.  The Swedish team , Dolphins SwimClub, set a new Swedish national record for their medley relay.   All of this happened in Miami and Gay Miamians should be proud of it. It 's a story that should be told. 

Miami Vice Polo Team, 5th place out of 20 teams at IGLA event

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Last Year of This Blog

So next year will begin the "Miami After 50 Blog" but before we go there I have a year to wind down my 40th decade.  I haven't been blogging lately because my mind has been clouded with election fever, followed by election depression, political withdrawal, grief, anger.....and hopefully acceptance and adaptation to new political circumstances.  That being said, this is not a political blog and I want to spare you more of that.

I also stopped writing over personal attacks on my phone and email about disclosing my HIV status in this blog. Apparently reaching almost 50, being happy, healthy, married and affluent was too much for some very sick individuals who anonymously sent several nasty texts to my phone.  Fun is my driving force, and anonymous texts at late hours make you think twice about what you write down.  

So I'm back at it again just wrapping up some things and topics in my last year of my 40s.  Things I've learned, things I've observed and hopefully give everyone a chuckle later on.  So here are some topics that you'll being hearing about over the course of the next few months:

We are going to discuss plastic surgery. Complete overhaul or just a nip and tuck?

 Exercise and the proliferation of yoga pants.....I love them. 

I work with Millennials now.....why do they keep food in their cubicles and not in the kitchen? and so many other questions....

Is 50 the new 40? 

Did I become my Mother/Father? Is there still time?

Why did my friends all plan to retire at 52 together, but didn't include me?

Is owning two dogs a slippery slope towards animal hoarding?

Of course I'll continue extol and shout about this great city both in joy and frustration! This and many other topics I'll explore in this blog over the coming year. Keep your eyes on this page. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Why You Should Go To Your High School Reunion

Few things can be as anxiety ridden as attending your first High School reunion. I can remember attending my 10th high school reunion and the angst I felt on the drive there. I was 28 and was just  getting established in my career and had finished college but hadn't really made my mark in the world. I had outgrown any youthfull geekiness and was (and am) a very confident adult. I was also much hotter at 28 than at 18. High school was definitely not a high point in my life but it was tolerable enough and I decided to go.

So last weekend I went to my 30th reunion. I have attended others, not all of them, but they were fun. This one left me a bit more pensive than most. I realize that high school reunions are a great reference point to who you are now.  Although we may say it, life is nothing like high school.  At no other time in our lives are the decisions we make  as permanent and irrevocable like they are in high school. Fail out of college? Go back to Jr. College.  Fired from a job? Go get another one. Bad marriage? Remarry.  Life after high school is full of second chances. High school not so much.  You had four years to complete a set of tasks: physical, academic and social and then its over. No going back. Your regrets, will be your regrets and there's no do-overs like you have as an adult. 

What reunions do is take us back to the last day of high school. The last day you really were a "kid". The last day when gossip, cliques, animosities and friendships seemed to be the most important things in the world. Probably the last day you thought like a kid, and not realizing that all that stuff is going to be packed away like an old yearbook, left to collect dust.  The reunions allow you to go to that last day of school and forgive yourself for bad choices, forgive your classmates for real or imagined slights or just move on and see that all these people are just typical screwed up adults.

For just a few hours you can undo some of the damage that high school inflicted on us.  Those annoying insecurities that we "just did not measure up" to our peers in some way.  And for a few hours you can remember that some people were assholes in high school still seem kinda assholish today, so the kid in you might not have been wrong either.....which is healing as well.  Then there is kid the adult in you can't forgive because the transgression is too great or too humiliating.  So you both just avoid each other.

For me personally, I go back as the only openly gay man out of a class of over 600 people.  I find it somehow empowering to "represent" with my classmates.  Weirdly, many of my classmates go out of their way to make me feel welcome as a gay man and I love to play into the best of the gay stereotypes and some of the worst.  For instance, I am happy to flirt with the girls and even with the boys who at late middle age, can't come out of the closet. I prefer the company of the women over that of the guys, being gay, it's just a more natural fit. The (straight) guys talk about work and sports, the women talk about challenges of child rearing, careers as women, as parents.  Challenges that as a gay man I can relate to.  Also, as a many a gay man can attest to, being surrounded by a lot of women is a lot safer than trying to fake talk sports with a bunch of drunken straight men. 

So I do recommend going to a high school reunion. You can reconnect with people and feel some camaraderie in the fact that you a prolonged shared experience with them, even if you didn't know them then it can be the basis for new friendships. But throughout that night, for some brief moments, you can reunite with that kid you were, give him a hug and and reassure him a bit. Because you're not that kid anymore, you're so much more. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

RIP Prince, RIP my adolescence and more Crepe Hanging

So just to remind you, this is a blog about being over 40. So you should expect some crepe-hanging about aging.  Because despite my grandmother's admonishment : "don't get old", sometimes moments happen and you realize, wow, I'm not young anymore.

Prince's passage was a just one of those for me. Not that I was a particular fan of the "Artist" as a performer per se, but his music decorates my adolescence like ubiquitous purple wallpaper. Yes, "Let's Go Crazy" and "1999" are songs that are perennial New Year's Eve favorites, but so many of his songs color my youth. Memories that are actually framed with his songs in them. Not just the songs he sang, but also the songs he wrote.

"I guess I should of known
By the way you parked your car sideways
That it wouldn't last"
I mean I can remember sitting in Missy's Dark Green Ford El Camino, drinking wine coolers on our way back from seeing Purple Rain. I can remember the music, the vinyl seats and listening to "When Doves Cry" and knowing every word, but not really getting the lyrics.(still don't) I just remember it feeling "sexy" and wanting to make out with someone, anyone, including Missy, even though we both became really gay. (Well I did anyway, she's not as gay as me, being lesbian and all.)

His androgyny was unapologetic and he had the ability to define his manhood on his own terms. Purple cat suits, high heeled boots, and stylized hair he still gave off a sexual charisma when compared to other gender benders like Boy George and RuPaul.  They came across as asexual or as pretty eunuchs. Which gave hope to us "less than butch" types who struggled to compensate our masculinity with our gay inner selves and realize that in the end, what's sexy, is confidence.

My personal gay theme song: "Do you think I'm a nasty girl?"
And the coterie of women who translated the gift of his music, fierce, good girls gone bad, like Sheena Easton's "Sugar Walls" and Sheila E's "Glamourous Life".  He brought color into music, not just purple, but a parade of Lesbians, Latinas and African American artists who exuded his confidence, pride and sexiness without apology.

Finally, he gave a soundtrack to my first heartbreak.. Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U " written by Prince. Every line punctuated my 20 year old heart. The song actually made me want to wallow even more because it was just too good of a breakup song.  Listening to it again makes me realize, nothing compares to Prince.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

What's Miami's Favorite Dessert? Eye Candy.

"Why are they all staring at me" was one of the first questions my Mom asked me when she came to visit me in my small efficiency apartment on South Beach in 1990.  They were probably staring because my very fabulous and attractive mom was way out of place in the still grungy, un-gentrified neighborhood south of Fifth street. The other reason they were staring was because in Miami, that's what you do.

A human being is amazing in its ability to determine friend or foe, gender, age in a fraction of a glance at another. In milliseconds snap judgements about a person's status are processed. Miamians have taken that basic instinct and honed it to new levels. Miami is a city where showing status is important. By showing status I mean wearing cool and sometimes expensive things. Now I know someone would equate this as "shallow". Which is fine, Miamians are a fun loving bunch, shopping is a sport and looking your best is not such a bad thing. "Fabulous" is usually what Miamians are going for.  New Yorkers try to be "captivating", Washingtonians try to be "interesting" the first group being grossly opinionated the second group spouting their resumes at every opportunity.  I understand that being "captivating" and "interesting" costs a lot in student loans, However you can spend a lot of money being "fabulous" too. Just different values, that's all. 
Just a normal Miami family at the beach.....

So getting back to "eye candy",  nowhere in the world will you see a better selection of it. Miamian's highly developed senses are drawn to the beautiful men and women that populate our city. Not just young ones, Miamians continue to preen throughout their entire lives.  Rarely do you see women who just decide to "go frump" and just wear the latest beige offerings from Walmart. Colors and style to rival the tropical beauty that is Miami. I mean there's nothing wrong with a knock-off Chanel or Prada to add the perfect touch to an already bright outfit.  Miami's men are also style conscious and that style tends to lean toward the mechanical: watches and cars.
What does this outfit say about him?

Our highly developed taste for eye candy also informs a lot about who we're looking at.  For example, expensive watch, white guy, probably Russian. More than five designer labels in one outfit: undoubtedly Venezuelan. Halter top, tight white jeans, hoop earrings: Cuban Girl from Hialeah. Board shorts, pale skin: Midwestern tourist. Male, long hair, has the face as if someone farted : Argentinian. Brown eyes, scrubs, beard: Cuban MD.

So of course with the consumption of all this "eye candy", proper digestion of it requires an ongoing internal and external commentary.  I mean you can't just look a big butt and say "nice" you might want to say "hang on ass we're going to town."  Or you see someone attractive and think "hot", a proper riposte might be "he's so hot I want to slap his mother." In Miami you can say it out loud or not, it's all part of the sweetness of eye candy. 
Labels darling, LABELS

Monday, March 28, 2016

"Miami Snark" a new genre of journalism.

Wishful Thinking by New Yorkers?

So, the whole "I hate Miami" refrain is a very popular meme among the New York journalism establishment.  Dating as far back as Time Magazine's seminal 1981 article "Paradise Lost" there has been a steady hope from New York writers that Miami just "fail".  Amazingly the "Magic City" does just the opposite.

 I want to start by  giving credit to Pamela Druckerman and the New York Times for spawning an entire sub-genre of journalism. Her 2014 article  defines what I call "Miami Snark".  It works like this: basically a young reporter, almost exclusively female, comes to Miami Beach in the winter, drinks, sunbathes, drinks, shops and then gloriously proclaims that Miami and its 2.5 million residents as shallow pretenders. Writing that Miami doesn't deserve it's reputation for having great beaches, shopping and sunshine but should be more "cultural". They say they are looking for "depth", but not really.  I mean if they were looking for "depth" where are the interviews with at least one local leader. They could call Ruth Shack, Paul George, Edwina Danticat, the Estafans, Mitchell Kaplan just to name a few. If they wanted "depth" they would bring a Spanish translator and head on down to Domino Park or El Municipio de Santiago and chat with the old Cuban exiles. 

It is so wonderful for writers like New York Magazine's Jessica Pressler, to confuse all of Miami with what's happening a new millionaire's condo/resort on South Beach.  Or NYT's Brent Sokol's piece begrudging the gentrification of Little Haiti....A New Yorker criticizing gentrification......Didn't they invent and gentrify the whole concept of gentrification? He lives in New York, by writing in the NYT he takes a small local issue and elevates it to some kind of international crisis.  He didn't bother to mention that there are more Haitians in North Miami than in Little Haiti. 

I don't really understand the fascination and contempt people have for Miami.  No, it's not Boston and it's certainly not "New York with better weather".  As a 3rd generation Miamian I understand that. However, I don't read similar tropes about Kansas City, Atlanta or other cities of similar size.  I truly believe at it's core it has to do with envy, that there's a beautiful, glamorous city built and run by Latinos.  That its a city with an identity that doesn't compare itself to other places or feel intimidated by self important(albeit pasty) New Yorkers.   Most importantly, it is a city with deep cultural roots that can't be understood if you don't have an affinity for Latino culture or don't speak Spanish.  These aren't Margaret Mead types, they arrive here with preconceived notions, talk to some "local" on South Beach (apparently home to all our local intelligentsia) and make the determination its a cultural wasteland.  

A big part of me wants to say "just make an effort" to the Pamela Druckermans of the world. Figure the city out, get off the beach, talk to someone other than an out of town condo developer or South Beach waiter, or in Pamela's case: her mother.  Show some journalistic pride.  Because Miami Snark is really about willful ignorance and shallowness, things I'd least expect from people proclaiming to be "journalists." 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Deconstructing Political Correctness: Do we really want to go there?

I have a secret, when my best friend and I are together we say horrible things about other people. We use terrible language, we repeat bigoted jokes we made as kids. We giggle because as good liberals we know its wrong and bad....and that what makes it so us. If you overheard us you'd think we were assholes, which might be true, but we'd prefer not be such visible assholes.
Sigh, who needs PC if we did this?
So why being Politically Correct is important, especially if you're whitish, like me. I was actually born in Honduras, to a Honduran....but at first glance I'm a whitey.   Political Correctness is important because politeness is dead.  Chivalry in all its good intentions is seen as archaic and patronizing. Manners used to be the lubricant that smoothed over social interactions. So holding the door, or women and children first in the lifeboat, are sweet sentiments, but as George Costanza of Sienfeld taught us that's its okay to knock over an old lady when trying to escape a fire. Not only is it okay, but it's pretty damn funny.  PCness is a replacement for what used to go as good manners or some cases common sense.

The Donald's Trumpolution is working hard to destroy the whole political correctness built by minorities in academic and corporate settings so people can just be just like me and my best friend in our most drunken intimate moments.  So white people can just shout out "Nigger" in the workplace cafeteria and laugh at the expense of anyone who might be offended. Political Correctness is about not being an asshole to the brown, black, gay, female within listening range of your voice. When they are not offended, they tend to work, compete, study and produce more.  Because people who are not pissed off work better and steal less office supplies.

I understand that it might be hard to not say offensive things about people.  Believe me I do it all the time. And yes, you can be sent to the human resources department for making fun of white people, my Cuban husband was written up for being overheard at the office party for saying "he's sad, he dances the white man dance." 

On Sunday I was at the Oasis Cafe on tony Key Biscayne.  A very white middle aged woman stormed out of the packed establishment, disdainfully yelling to her husband in a nice Porsche "THEY WON'T HELP IF YOU DON'T SPEAK SPANISH". Obviously upset that nobody in the shop was actually speaking English and she really didn't want to wait in a long line, because the Porsche was sitting in the street with the engine idling.

What you have without Political Correctness and world without manners is just rudeness unchecked. I do believe that  Political Correctness can go too far and there are plenty of examples where it's used as tool to dampen discussion and free speech. However with the decline of strong social conventions known as manners what's the alternative?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Welcome to the word soup of the Trumpverse

I'm seeing the Trumpverse seeping in like Miami's  full moon king tide.  You can deny it, but soon you'll be 3 feet deep in it trying to get to spin class with your Lulu Lemons rolled up to your knees.  I was at a gay campground last month and I saw very butch jeep with a large TRUMP magnet proudly displayed on the bumper. If you can find Trump there, he's everywhere. 

My young hip Cuban neighbor extolls Trump's honesty. You can't lie with word soup. Trump is going to win. He will be the next Republican nominee. I didn't have the heart to tell my neighbor that to white people like Trump, "Mexican" is actually all people of Latino descent. So when he rounds up 11 million undocumented "Mexicans" everyone with a Hispanic last name is going to get caught up in the dragnet. 

So I listen and I fall into the vortex of the Trumpverse.  I try to comprehend a world with this man at its helm. I try to imagine a presidency similar to his candidacy: lots of free thought word association called in from his phone.  Him and Sarah Palin talking in fragmented sentences like some kind of Beat Generation poet. He's the post modern Allan Ginsberg:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
     madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at
     dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient
     heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the
     machinery of night . . .

We do know that Allen Ginsberg and company were all experimenting with LSD and hallucinogenics what do you think Sarah Palin and Trump's excuses will be? 
Sarah Palin's endorsement of Trump:

"And now though, to be lectured that, “Well, you guys are all sounding kind of angry,” is what we’re hearing from the establishment.
 Doggone right we’re angry! Justifiably so! Yes!
 You know, they stomp on our neck, and then they tell us, “Just chill, okay just relax.” Well, look, we are mad, and we’ve been had. 
They need to get used to it."
-Sarah Palin "Trump"

We liberal elites laugh, but this is the kind of prose that wins votes.  This is going to get Trump to the Republican Nomination. His word cloud honesty:

"And I like them. I hear their speeches. 
And they don’t talk jobs. 
They don’t talk China.
 When was the last time you heard ‘China’s killing us?’ 
They’re devaluing their currency to a level that you wouldn’t believe it makes it impossible for our companies to compete.
They’re killing us, but you don’t hear that from anyone else. You don’t hear that from anybody else.And I watch the speeches. I watch the speeches and they say ‘the sun will rise. The moon will set.
 All sorts of wonderful things will happen.’And the people are saying ‘What’s going on?
 I just want a job. 
I don’t need the rhetoric, 
I just want a job.'"

So Imagine these people, who listen to the "honesty" the way that marshmellow fluff is an honest food, I imagine that they have word magnets all over their refrigerators. Word magnets that have been there since they came out in the 90's.  They would leave cute little messages with haiku rythms and clever bon mots and cryptic phrasing. This is the Trumpverse, just fragments and half thoughts. 

Speech Writer tool at the Trumpverse

The Trumpverse has arrived

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Welcome Aboard, it's love, love love..........

So the term "cruising" can have many connotations, but in Miami its pretty well understood that the term refers to the to the ships, the cruise lines to be exact.  I just spent a week on one of them, Celebrity's Reflection.  I can say unequivocally that I had a fun time, However whenever I have cruised there is always an ambivalence about it. Here are some things that stood out:

The Frequent Cruisers: its hard not to miss the frequent cruisers. These are people who basically just given up and have decided that their leisure time and treasure will be entirely dedicated at sea. Like frequent flyers they achieve some kind of status points and have secret meetings on board with the captain and Isaac the Bartender.   If you're on your first cruise they will call you a "virgin" but in the most patronizing way.  The Frequent Cruisers basically stand around and complain how this cruise wasn't as good/long/expensive/exotic as their last cruise or the one before that.  They feel entitled to everything and refuse to leave the ship for shore excursions. Their whole existence revolves around staying on the ship and drinking. You tend not to see them during the day. They love "re-positioning" cruises.  Favorite hangout: Martini Bar. 

Condescension When You Ask About Connectivity:  Internet connectivity for us landlocked types is like our lifeblood.  Life is better with connectivity. Why? Because some key things occur when you're connected to the internet. 1. You can find people with ease. On a giant ship, you will not find who you are looking for by just "walking around". Complicated schedules have to kept in your head and meet up points and so on. 2. You can't truly win an argument without Wikipedia. 3. So much of our data is kept in the cloud, our music playlists, cameras and applications won't work well, rendering our devices almost useless.  However if you dare to complain, cruise personnel will act condescendingly and say "you can't even disconnect for a week?"  My response is "why should I?"  I mean the charges to connect are astronomical but as anybody knows there must be a cheaper solution.  Being connected is part of modern living....I can usually get connected in the most remote of places and minimal cost....but these floating cities feel that you are pitiable because you want to tell your friends on Facebook what a good time you're having. 

The Hordes: The ship is packed with people, there are hordes, it's like the Black Friday at the mall...everyday...all the time. The hordes are excited, the hordes are drunk, the hordes want your chair, your massage, your fitness bike. Prepare to deal with hordes. 

The cost. All things considered it's a bargain as far as vacations go. However there are a lot of hidden costs....drinks, excursions, exercise classes, specialty restaurants, spa treatments, etc. etc. all of these things add up considerably and  your wallet will lighten up to the point it becomes a flotation device. 

Finally, if you're from Miami you really don't need a tropical vacation.  

Cozumel? Jamaica? No, Miami

Monday, December 14, 2015

1st Christmas Without Faith. Nudist Pagan Ritual or More "Santa Baby"

Those of you who follow this blog might be aware of this author's great schism of '14.  When after months of contemplation I parted with my former church, and consequently gave up "faith" in general.  I left in my usual understated way, with a few choice words for the pastor and leadership.  But a year has passed and the holidays are upon me and in truth, I really love the holidays.

Now without the fetters of religion I'm wondering how to under gird my holiday traditions. I'm wondering if I should go "full pagan" and celebrate the winter solstice, with perhaps an animal sacrifice in the nude or go "full commercial" with endless renditions of Santa Baby and lots of designer gifts.  Or do I do nothing....not acknowledge the holiday at all, although in my heart I want to.

War on Christmas.

So in full honesty, I'm celebrating the holidays this year like every year. Yes, I've cut out the midnight mass and much of the religious trappings of the holiday. The creche and the three kings did not come out of the box this year and probably won't ever again. Thankfully "The WAR on CHRISTMAS" has made cruising the holidays a very secular affair.  There's less Hark The Herald Angels, and much more Deck the Halls.  In fact, Starbucks' red cup makes me question the whole "reason for the season" entirely.

Importantly, I also have an addiction to cool ornaments. This year I'm doing a whole Mexican, Day of the Dead thing on the tree. (That seems like a good holiday too.) But my Star Wars and Start Trek ornaments are up there too.  I think the tree thing is just a way to channel your inner id. Why would I want to stop that? Of course as an atheist, I could put that tree up anytime, assuming I could find a Douglas fir on sale in May.

That being said, I just can't let go of the "spirit" of the holidays. Giving, seeing friends and family are joyful, regardless that it takes the holidays to make it happen.  Helping the less fortunate and thinking about children, both our own inner child and the ones in our lives is something we don't do year-round.  That being said, I can't completely let go of the religious nature of the holidays. I'm sure the pagans were, like "I'm so stressed, and I've got to pick up the goat for sacrifice, but then again, its the Holidays."  So while I claim to be a non-believer.....there's still belief in the hope of humanity and the real joy this season brings to so many.   So Happy Holidays everyone.

Those pagans! Then again I could go to Haulover Beach for Xmas

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I JUST CAN'T: Its Time to Change the Narrative on HIV and AIDS

I can't anymore. I just can't. I can't sit through another speech or ceremony where a sad gay man speaks about his boyfriend who died of AIDS in 1986. Or a slideshow homage to the victims of AIDS who are wearing Members Only jackets and big 80s hair. It's time to put that to rest, I'm sure the fabulous dead would be like "girl, move on, day-glo was so three decades ago."  Yet this sad broken record replays itself over and over.  The stereotype of a sickly HIV positive gay man who is sexless is still the image that comforts people who know little about the disease, or their own HIV status. 

Yet the "AIDS industry" struggles to keep this death based narrative alive, because that is the orthodoxy of the HIV Epidemic. AHF, AIDS Healthcare Foundation uses its multi-million dollar bullhorn to warn gay men against PrEP despite clear scientific evidence that it's overwhelmingly successful in preventing new infections. It uses tactics such as sex shaming gay men who take Truvada to prevent HIV. It throws out red herrings like "drug resistant STDs" which do exist, however, even most diseases treated with antibiotics eventually succumb to drug drugs are developed to fight resistance.

So, finally, in 2015 we can actually change the narrative around HIV disease.  We can move away from the depressing, fear-based tropes that have permeated our culture, especially our gay culture for the last three decades.  In the last two years, especially in the last year new medical breakthroughs have emerged that show that HIV is beatable. That we can finally turn the corner on the epidemic. In all seriousness, HIV is no longer a major topic of conversation in the gay set and there is a hunger to move on.  But we can't move on quite yet.

We can't move on until we agree that the new studies of PrEP: Pre Exposure Prophylaxis are amazing breakthroughs and offer gay men a hope of a life free from the fear of HIV. As gay men we should encourage men who are not infected to start taking Truvada faithfully.  Second we need to get all those gay men who don't know their status to get tested. New studies show that with sero-dis-concordant couples (couples with different HIV status) if the infected partner has an undetectable viral load, the odds of transmission are almost nil.  These two breakthroughs can finally put a halt to this disease among gay men. Governor Cuomo of New York has a stated goal to get all sexually active gay men on PrEP while getting positive guys to undetectable viral loads, the combination should be enough to break the back this epidemic.  We need to make this final push, to make HIV infection rare in this country.

We need to sell a positive future for young gay men, that life without HIV should be the norm. Oh, and tell all of us survivors from the worst of the epidemic, that despite all the horror that HIV brought on us in the 80's and early 90's. We won't forget the 500,000 men who died, but I think its time we let them rest in peace and not use their memories to promote outdated ideas about fear and death always intertwined with sex.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Note To Millenials: There's "sharing" and then there's too much "sharing". Know the difference.

I am a firm believer in social media. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Grndr are all great.  It gives each of us exponential power to express opinions, share ideas, art and images.  However, as I move into my curmudgeon phase, or as the gays might say "becoming a bitter queen", I realize that sharing in the virtual world, is not really appreciated as much in the real world. At least not by me.  

For example, twice in the last month I've attended events that one would consider costly. The first one, was an awards dinner for two people who have done amazing work to fight for gay rights and have given a lifetime of service for the cause of social justice. The night was fun, both speakers gave wonderful speeches about service and selflessness. One actually went to the Supreme Court and defeated the national "marriage ban" for same sex couples. One speaker brought the entire room to tears with his speech about service to fight the AIDS epidemic and the hard work of getting marriage equality. 

So the night seemed to be coming to close, when a montage of a young attractive couple appeared on the screen. A lot of selfies and Facebook shots of these two twenty-somethings. Then you realize its a bunch of pictures of the co-host of the event. He comes up to the stage, invites his boyfriend up and does a marriage proposal.  Which is cute, I guess. It was peripherally connected to an event that honored people for their years of service.  However, my hubby and I did not spend close to $1000 to see activists who had accomplished amazing things being upstaged by a cute kid who thought he would hijack the event and really make it about himself.

Then it happened again. My hubby and I raised thousands of dollars for the HIV/AIDS ride,  Rode our bikes 165 miles from Miami to Key West and at the closing ceremony another millennial woman got up on the stage to read a passage with her wife.  They started to cry and said, "this is hard because my mother just died on Wednesday."  There was a collective "aww" sounding similar to the "aww" heard during the marriage proposal. She read her piece and stepped down. Did the mother die of AIDS? No, I learned later that she hadn't. It had become a topic of conversation with the riders afterwards. But again, the moment became about her grief and not about the cause.

I know this is nit-picky. But when you give a speech, or host an event, it's first and foremost about the audience.  It about graciousness and giving your all to make sure that they are comfortable, entertained, educated and or welcomed. Which means in many cases, means being selfless, taking your moment in the spotlight and remember the words in your mouth are not just about you. There is a delicate line between sharing a personal moment and just making a spectacle of yourself. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Year Without Faith, Less Church, more Mimosas.

So It was about a year ago that I had my falling out with religion and faith in general. Considering that the Pope just finished his whirlwind tour of the U.S. and Cuba I think now is a good time to reflect on this year of absolutely no religious activity (aside from railing against it) and how my life has changed.

First and foremost, my life is much more at peace and contemplative. As a child I never enjoyed church and always loved those Sundays where my parents were too busy, lazy or distracted to make us go.  They were lazy Sundays spent outdoors, like a skipping a day from work or school, a personal free day, knowing that everyone was busy, and you had the streets, woods, house to yourself.  I am glad to say, those Sundays are back. Lazy cycle rides and fun gay brunches populate my Sundays now.

Secondly,my family is profoundly uncomfortable with my anti-church, possibly atheist, fervor.  I cannot bring myself to step into a church. My mother is very worried for my soul which is odd because she's a Presbyterian. Short chats with family about her concern, and I thought Presbyterianism was the mayonnaise of main-line Protestantism, maybe there's some spice there yet. Also there are the small religious rituals, practiced reflexively over a lifetime I've let slip away. Saying grace, small prayers, even types of condolences seem fake, and I try to avoid them. 

Finally, there's just a general anger at organized religion in general, with its siren song of salvation, redemption and canned platitudes.  I had a glimmer of hope with the Pope with his glorious PR campaign and sweet words and then he runs off and has secret meetings with anti-gay crusader Kim Davis.  Which says to me that bigotry is tolerated, as long as it slips in the back door. As a gay man, it completely invalidates his messages and all the hard work he was trying to accomplish. It also reaffirms my disbelief in organized religion, whether its the Vatican or Coral Gables Congregational, religious leaders promote dialogue and inclusion but they only want to hear their own words repeated back to them and include only those who agree.

 "Waiter, another mimosa please."

Drag traditions

Monday, June 8, 2015

Venezuelan Chavistas Tried to Commandeer My Pool on Saturday. (and why do communists have to be so cute?)

You may or may not know that I happen to run the local Masters Swim Team, the Nadadores. Which is celebrating 21 years in existence this year.  Each Saturday our team reserves 8 lanes so we can do our workouts. Hadley pool is a fantastic facility run by the City of Miami Parks and Rec Department and they have been fantastic for the last 10 years we have been swimming there. 
So, last Saturday I arrive at my local pool for practice and noticed there were far more swimmers at the pool than usual. My coach whispered to me that they were the Venezuelan National Team practicing in Miami for the Pan American Games in Canada this week. All excited I whipped out my iPhone and snapped a few pics of some very cute swimmers. Suddenly, a very officious, albeit handsome young man approached me and ordered me to stop taking pictures of his swim team. He was arrogant, rude and very cute, I knew that it was going to be a tense day at the pool. 

 No pictures without communist approval...
I quickly realized he was the team apparatchik and the only person authorized to speak to anyone outside the team. The coaches, the swimmers and entourage were keeping a far distance from the lifeguards and this young man was the only one doing the talking.  He was demanding that he should get the entire pool because they paid for it, they were practicing for the Pan American Games and they were the Venezuelan National Swim Team. What he wasn't aware of is that he paid only for half the pool, because our team pays for the other half.   I was not about to send my 25 swimmers home for a bunch of communists. Also, a significant number of my teammates are Venezuelan emigres, and I doubt seriously that any of them would appreciate being displaced a bunch of communist Chavistas.

So Mr. Chavista Apparatchik argued incessantly with the lifeguard to push us out of our lanes to the kiddie pool.  Thankfully his arrogance fell on deaf ears of our own city bureaucrat who was on the phones with his superiors, on a Saturday, trying to accommodate two swim teams that had reserved the pool. We began practice as the poor lifeguard and the communist debated. Hitting a bureaucratic stalemate the communist had no choice but to come to me to negotiate for the extra lane he needed for his team.  Now instead of arrogant, Mr. communist was all smiles and niceties. "Por favor Señor, let us have one of your lanes....."  I remembered how arrogant he had been just 30 minutes earlier....his poor treatment of the lifeguards, the suffering of my wealthy Venezuelan emigre friends....but he was so cute, and young......."yeah, fuck it, you have the lane for 30 minutes".
" Oh, thank you señor." he said in Spanish.

Who am I to deny a cute young communist his dreams of medals?

I was left with these questions:
1. If they are so anti-American, why the fuck practice in the most anti-communist, anti-Chavista city in the U.S.?
2. Was it communist arrogance, youth arrogance or swim team arrogance on display?
3. Why didn't you just try to be nice in the first place and ask nicely instead of causing all kinds of drama?
4. I doubt I would have given him my lane if he wasn't so damn cute.....