Tuesday, June 28, 2011

State of the Art......or getting it in the Arsht.

The phone rings and this bubbly person starts talking. She had a nice voice, and was all excited for me because I went and saw the musical "Hair" last month.  "And since you saw Hair you must really be excited to see upcoming Broadway performances of Shrek, The Lion King and the Addams Family!" Excited, really? Shrek, The Lion King?  "I'm sure you'll want to buy season passes in the Arsht for just $168!" 

You know as a gay man, I should feel a moral obligation to go to the "theater".  I am fully aware that Julie Taymor's adaptation of the Disney musical is "art". But really, really, are we all 9 years old here?  That this  is the state of the $400 million dollar performing arts center?  Family friendly fare?  Come on, I loved Shrek....on cable, but do I want to pay $50 to go see it again on stage?  No, I'm a 43 year old gay man, I want to see beauty, originality, sexiness and something that may or may not address some of the relevance that is happening here in Miami, or America....not in the the land of Far Far Away. 

On a larger note, can't we as Americans, who perfected musical theater, do better than recycling animated movies?  Come on, now as automation slowly replaces people shouldn't we investing more in the arts and creating "content"?  Should I save my pennies see Shrek movies, see Shrek the play and go green again and see Shrek on Ice?  Thank you Disney, how many "platforms" does one franchise have? So lame. 

Miami is not a theater is tenuously a cultural one.  Yet it does have a healthy population of novela actors, writers, musicians, show biz types. Maybe they'd like to work in theater?  Yet our performing arts center(and those across America) bases its entire multi-million dollar season on rehashed "Broadway Across America" pablum.  Maybe if they took a few pennies from that budget to support something homegrown it might make theater that is relevant to a gay 43 year old man who might want to see something that isn't intended for nine-year-olds. 

On a side note: There is a new gay-stripper bar just one block away.  The Arsht or arses?  Truthfully for $50 I get a lot more value at the stripper bar.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

10 Pieces of Advice to Gay Dads

Happy Father's Day!

Ah, the joys of the newborn children and the craziness of inexperienced parents.  Alas the "gayby boom" is in full swing.  Gone are the days of the rare gay dad and undercover lesbian moms.  This Father's Day has caused me to reflect on my experience as a Gay Dad. After a 45 minute conversation with my son, I realize that all-in-all the last of my worries are through.  He will not starve. He will someday be upper-middle class or higher. He will someday, hopefully in the distant future, make me a grandpa.

That being said I wanted to share some knowledge based on the experience of being a full-time, out of the closet, gay dad. I wanted to share what I've learned. I made a list, because people seem to like my "lists".

1. People do not want to see your baby at an adult cocktail party or event. Especially other parents. There is an "adult sphere" and a "children sphere". There is a baby human sphere, and and human sphere and they shouldn't mix.  Your baby is not an accessory for others to admire. It's creepy, and I think it's disrespectful to the parents who just spent $50 - $100 so they could have a night away from kids. 

2. Create your support network. This includes family, friends, neighbors who can all take care of your child when you want to go to some "adult" event. (Did I mention that I don't want to see your kid?)

3. Keep a strict, no exception rule about bedtime. For us it was 8PM. It never deviated till he was 21.  Knowing that he was safely tucked away allowed us to relax, enjoy our evenings and even go to cocktail parties, sans child.

4. Get involved in all aspects of your kid's life. Baseball, PTA, extracurricular activities are all ways to help broaden your child's life and your own.

5. Don't EVER share any personal aspect of your life with a. another parent, b. teacher, c. coach within a 300 mile radius of your home.  You may casually mention something about your plantar warts to an acquaintance at the little league, next thing you know you're sitting alone at the PTA dinner.  The child rearing network is designed for child rearing. In such it is a major alert system for any perceived illness, weakness, or deviation from the norm.  Confess to a fellow parent that your husband is having affair....before you know it you're the object of pity at the baseball diamond, PTA meetings and Sunday school. Just keep your personal life separate from your child rearing life.

6. Other parents are NOT your friends. They are your rivals who are fighting to win the limited resources of time, energy and capital expended on children. Resources like teaching time, coaching time, field trips, awards....they want this for their kids....not for yours. Think of them more as coworkers who are fighting for that big promotion. Raising kids is not a zero sum game, there are winners and losers. 

7. Your kid does not stand out because you are gay. YOU DO!  In fact, you will be known as the "the gay dads".  Your kids' teachers may know who you are, Gay Dad, but may have no idea who your kid is. 

8. NEVER, never, never explain your relationship  to a school secretary, teacher, nurse, doctor. If they ask you who you are, you are the child's parent, end of story.  If you say something lame like "I'm Dad #2" or "the stepdad" or "I'm not the biological parent" you've just given away your power. The second you hesitate about your role in your child's life you've diminished yourself in the eyes of your child, your partner and society. If anybody asks you who you are, say confidently "I am his/her father." (in a don't fuck with me tone of voice).

9.Find the "Power Mom". This is the woman who has inherited the traits needed to herd all the other moms into action. You must appease her at all costs.  Unless you want the role of  "power mom" you will use all your gay powers of flattery, good taste, bawdy humor, cutting remarks and back stabbing to get in her favor.  She is the one who will be the one who protects your child when you are not there. She is the one who will keep the other parents from making comments. You goal is make her see your child as one of her own. Once that's accomplished, it's smooth sailing. Power moms are also known as "mother hens, lions protecting their cubs, she wolves".

10. Your kid doesn't care that you're gay. Just don't be too "gay" at sports events.

Next to convince yourself not to kill your teenager.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What Happend Miami, You Used to be So Seedy. (A trip down memory lane)

A recent Sunday drive from Coral Gables to NE 63rd street really got me, this place is kinda classy.  Starting out in Coral Gables we decided to take the scenic route from the Coral Gables Congregational Church to our home. We put the roof down on the convertible and we went down Bird Rd. through the Grove to S. Miami Avenue, Brickell Ave then up Biscayne Blvd. 

Let's just jump to the Coconut Grove side of Bird Road.  I remember the first time I drove through the grove with a boyfriend he pointed out to a big live oak near a park he had sex in.  I thought "wow!" this guy had sex in a tree. He was quite proud of his accomplishment, it made being part of the mile high club seem blah by comparison.  Yet whenever I'm in the Grove I think of that and how it's gone from funky little cabins tucked away in the middle of jungle-like hammocks to mini-mansions hidden among the foliage.  I remember the the Tigertail Lounge and the theater that played Rocky Horror Show till '83. As we made our way towards S. Miami Ave I glanced up to see if there were still any hot Cuban men fornicating in the branches.

South Miami Avenue in the Grove is to me the truest part of old Miami. Lush tree-lined streets, Stately Old Spanish and Art Deco Mansions line the street. When the poincianas bloom the red blossoms make the street look like its aflame. I lived on this street for a few years. Many of my neighbors were diplomats and cocaine dealers. On the corner of 15th and South Miami Ave a South American diplomat was shot in broad daylight. It was the 80's.  Good times.

Brickell Ave, the heart of the financial district, here is where we really begin to see the new, 21st century Miami emerging.  I remember it being just a collection of banks in a row. One block away in what is now known as "Mary Brickell Village" there was a chicken farm and an old plant nursery. Old tenements filled with the poorest of the poor hung clothes out the windows.  Even in the smartest sidewalk cafe, a feral chicken could be likely to steal your food or eyeball you into intimidation. Today the tenements are gone, fancy high rise condos intertwine with spectacular office towers like the Espiritu Santo bank building.(I used to tell people that it was the bank of the Vatican).  What was once a ghost town on the weekends was bustling with walkers, runners, bikers on an early Sunday Morning. No chickens were to be seen.

Finally, Biscayne Blvd. No street has changed as much as this one.  Running through the heart of downtown to destinations north, this was once the seediest, most dangerous, outrageous street in the city. Lined with bars and adult bookstores for about five miles the street had a terrible reputation. As kid I used to play a game called "punch buggy" each time you saw a VW bug I'd punch my brother. As a teen we played "punch slutty" each time we saw a hooker....well, let's just say we were very bruised up. Today, it's on it's way to it's initial glory as Miami's "front door".  A basketball arena, Opera House, Performing Arts Center, Museum Park, new foliage and tree plantings.  Hookers still roam the Boulevard, but they are few and far between, a game of "punch slutty" would be quite boring.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Been There Done That, But I Was Prettier.

Recently I was my favorite trendy Mexican/Venezuelan (Mexizuelan?) restaurant with my hubby ordering dinner. It was funny because I was completing his we seem to be doing more and more after 15 years together.  I said out loud to the obviously gay waiter, "see this is what happens when you spend so much time together, you complete each others' sentences."

The smart ass waiter replied, "I hope I die before I'm 40, if I don't I've got a gun and I'll kill myself."  Which was an amazingly odd comment coming from a. the help and b. somebody who seemingly could only improve with age.  Needless to say I was shocked and offended.  Firstly, because you just don't say shit like that to customers who are, obviously over 40 and secondly, in a position to leave a good tip. 

Of course this got me thinking about age, youth, masculinity and power.  I thought to myself, as I am sure many of us have, would we go back? Would we go back to who we were at 20? Even if we could retain our current knowledge, would we want to be that age again?  Would I want to go through college again, start a career, start a family.....retrain a husband? Granted some of these things were wonderful when I did them, but would I do them again?

It also got me thinking about all the gay men who never made it to 40, in this 30th anniversary of the first AIDS case.  500,000 gay men died in the 80's and 90's all of them would have gladly told that little boy that life only gets better and that its a privilege and a joy to reach this age.  There were very few men my age in my 20's just like there are very few gay men in their 50's and 60's today.  I never believed I'd live to 40, let alone be spinning around in a new BMW convertible.  

Most importantly would I trade all the accrued power of money, good credit, and experience for the power of youth and beauty?  In the worlds of gay men and  straight women, beauty is a very valuable currency. Would I trade his life for mine? (but he was skinny and pimply so maybe just a younger version of myself.)  Would I kill myself at 40?

Of course the purpose of this blog is to really to say that there is life after 40, after kids, after wrinkles and grey hair. The power of maturity surprises and shocks me .  That life gets better and richer as you know yourself.  If I see that boy again, I would say: "I've been your age, (but I was much prettier) and it sucked."