Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas Wrapping

Well, the holidays have come and gone, and we're in that screeching downhill slide towards the New Year.

New York is completely deserted. The streets are empty. The subways are empty. My phone is not ringing. I had two e-mails this morning at work. I'm lovin' it!

Tim and I had a pretty wonderful holiday. In spite of our transit strike last week, I managed to get all my shopping done by Thursday, tipped out the building staff and my barber on Friday and spent about 5 hours wrapping presents. I hired a car to take me, all the packages and the a good deal of the food to Tim's on Friday afternoon. We hung out and relaxed. It was the last time we did that for the rest of the weekend.

Tim had me on a very tight schedule. We got up on Saturday, shopped for groceries and the boozy necessities, had breakfast and dove in. We made his Gramm's fruit cookies. I know people hate fruit cake. I rather like it. I wonder when the populist party line decided fruitcake was so gross? Pee Wee Herman even has a couple of half-naked gay boys adding an extension made of the hated fruitcakes he's received onto the Playhouse in his Christmas special. I was so tired on Friday night I fell asleep watching it. Tim woke me up in time to see Charo, Dinah Shore and Jambi! He's thoughtful that way. Mekka lekka hi, indeed.

We also made a mince pie. Tim reconstitutes the mince with bourbon. And some orange juice, but not much. Yeehah! We made a macaroni and cheese casserole, ready to toss into the oven. It's one of Tim's family traditions. I'd always heard about the all-seafood Christmas Eve dinners that Italian families enjoy. Tim's mom had four small children. She'd give them Mac and Cheese and fishsticks for Christmas Eve dinner and get them to bed. I sort of like that idea, and we carry on the casserole to this day.

I accompanied Tim to St. Aiden's for Christmas Eve services. So very different than the religious services I grew up with. I really enjoy hearing Tim sing in church. And I like the part when everybody shakes hands. I find it all a bit misleading. I keep wondering what the person I'm shaking hands with would do if they knew Tim and I had been rolling around on the floor bare-ass the night before.

I balance all this by lighting Hannukah candles! The Festival of Lights was very bright indeed this year!

Santa, in his many guises, was very good to me this year. I must have been extremely well behaved. I received theatre tickets (Mike Leigh's "Abigail's Party" starring Jennifer Jason Leigh!), a very sexy Canon digital camera that apparently does everything but have sex with you, Excellent Koss Pro-Am headphones, the Pet Sounds box set I've been drooling over for years, lots of books and DVD's and shirts, and neat things all around.

Tim seemed equally pleased with his swag. After 11 Christmases together, it's increasingly harder to surprise him, but I did fairly well, I think.

We had a small group of friends over for Christmas dinner. M. & Kevin came; we enjoyed Christmas cocktails, ate way too much, exchanged gifts and laughed alot. Tim and I even managed to clean up a fair share of the rubble before collapsing into bed around 11:30. Monday's clean-up was fairly painless.

The weekend will be upon us soon. We're debating going out Friday night, rather than Saturday. Does anyone know of fun Friday events in Manhattan? Saturday we'll stay home. Some champagne, an oyster pan roast, maybe some caviar. In bed before midnight. Sunday, Tim is working. I have no idea what the Dugout will be like on New Year's Day, but we'll find out! The worst possible scenario is hung-over tourists. And that ain't bad at all. Monday we can recuperate, and it's back to the real world on Tuesday.

To avoid the after-holiday doldrums, I'll spend January making plans for the rest of the year: renting our condo in Provincetown, checking into fares to San Francisco for Tim's birthday, planning!

Oh yeah, and I'll be hitting the gym with the rest of the holiday fatties. I have way to much money expended in my t-shirt collection to grow out of them!

Best wishes to all for a very Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Some Are Here And Some Are Missing

I've just been to Joe's blog, where I took in his latest and fourth installment of "The Mommy Box".

As I read, I became increasingly aware of a growing knot in my stomach.

Joe had thoughtfully supplied links so that his myriad audience could be clear about terms like KS and PICC lines. I thought about what a long time it's been since we've discussed our friends and loved ones using terms like thrush, neuropathy and CMV (look it up yourself).

Joe has chosen to relate this story in cliff-hanger fashion, a sure way to bring your readers back again and again, to which some of our most time tested writers will attest.

I perused the comments section, and in all 20 then posted, not one mentioned Tim. He's almost the invisible man to Joe's readers. The poor man's gone from porn star to skeleton and know one has seemed to notice.

Some weeks ago, while we were standing around guzzling beer, Joe asked me if I knew what a "Mommy Box" was. I did.

I also know what it's like to lose almost every friend I ever had to AIDS. I know what it's like to throw a suit in the trash, because I'd worn it to so many funerals I never wanted to see it again.
I know what it's like to see my best friend Barry, 28 years old, have a stroke and die, due to the toxicity of the drugs used to treat him. I know what it's like to see an entire generation disappear in a few short years, right before my eyes. I know what it's like to bear witness to all this, still standing, and wondering why.

And I've been thinking alot about this song by Neil Tennant & Chris Lowe:

I came across a cache of old photos
And invitations to teenage parties
Dress in white one said, with quotations
From someone’s wife, a famous writer
In the nineteen-twenties

When you’re young you find inspiration
In anyone who’s ever gone
And opened up a closing door
She said we were never feeling bored

Cause we were never being boring
We had too much time to find for ourselves
And we were never being boring
We dressed up and fought, then thought: make amends
And we were never holding back or worried that
Time would come to an end

When I went I left from the station
With a haversack and some trepidation
Someone said: if you’re not careful
You’ll have nothing left and nothing to care for
In the nineteen-seventies
But I sat back and looking forward
My shoes were high and I had scored
I’d bolted through a closing door
I would never find myself feeling bored

Cause we were never being boring
We had too much time to find for ourselves
And we were never being boring
We dressed up and fought, then thought: make amends
And we were never holding back or worried that
Time would come to an end
We were always hoping that, looking back
You could always rely on a friend

Now I sit with different faces
In rented rooms and foreign places
All the people I was kissing
Some are here and some are missing
In the nineteen-nineties
I never dreamt that I would get to be
The creature that I always meant to be
But I thought in spite of dreams
You’d be sitting somewhere here with me

Cause we were never being boring
We had too much time to find for ourselves
And we were never being boring
We dressed up and fought, then thought: make amends
And we were never holding back or worried that
Time would come to an end
We were always hoping that, looking back
You could always rely on a friend

And we were never being boring
We were never being bored

I realize that most of what's transpired in the last 25 years means next to nothing to the generation that grew up after the Plague Years. I'm thinking at best, AIDS is now looked upon as a mere inconvenience, something regulated with medications, but certainly no big deal. I'm glad that it appears to have come to this.

I wish more people remembered what it took to get here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I'm Walkin'

Like some 4,000,000 other New Yorkers this morning, I walked to work.

Our entire public transportation system is shut down due a strike called by transit workers. Cars are not allowed in mid-town unless they have a full complement of passengers. Taxis can pick up multiple fares, as they see fit.

Basically, we're in lock-down mode.

I'm reminded of the last transit strike, way back in 1980, a mere 20 years ago. That one lasted 11 days. Hopefully, this one can be resolved sooner than that.

I don't mind walking. My walk entails 31 blocks and 4 avenues, heading northwest. No big deal. I often walk home after work to clear my head, if I'm not going to the gym.

I was offered a ride within steps of my apartment by two women in a PT Cruiser. I thanked them, but told them I was okay...perhaps someone else would need the ride more than I did.

Back in 1980 I was employed by one of New York's then-premiere interior designers, Michael de Santis. Our offices were located at 2nd Avenue and 59th Street. Michael maintained a staff of 12 or so, all of us devoted to creating the deluxe designs he was rightly famous for. To this day, as I walk through galleries of once again cutting edge Karl Springer and Vladimir Kagan furniture, I know that many of these pieces were commissioned by our office.

It seems to me that my entire interview consisted of Michael asking me if I could type purchase orders. In fact I could. I started the next week. After a few days of typing purchase orders using the special hunter green typewriter ribbons we used for everything, Michael asked me to put together a table setting for Bon Appetite Magazine, utilizing advertiser's products. I had to visit shops and showrooms and assemble everything in Michael's empty apartment, so that the magazine could photograph him fixing a vinaigrette to pour over asparagus that I had arranged on a Wedgewood platter. So much for purchase orders. When people asked me what I did for a living, I would tell them: I shop!! Come on, I was 24 years old! It was very glamorous.

I was among three men in their 20's who worked for Michael.

There was Marc, blonde, and mustachioed, who was in charge of Michael's contemporary projects. Marc wound up being spirited away by a very famous prince he'd met at Studio 54.

There was Chris, chestnut haired, with an amazingly thick mustache, as well. Tall and handsome, somewhat dreamy of demeanor, Chris seemed to laugh his way through life. We were close friends for awhile. I last had word of him some years ago, when arriving to spend the night at a new acquaintance's apartment, I realized I was across the hall from where Chris lived. I mentioned this, and was asked: Do you mean, Chris C., the famous numerologist? Things change, I guess.

Lastly there was me, black haired and bearded. I took no end of pleasure stomping around the most genteel Decoration & Design building in either my Schott Perfecto motorcycle jacket and boots, or the assortment of 1940's haberdashery I was busy amassing including cashmere blazers from Bermuda and vicuna or rich jeweled toned rayon shirts. You could buy those things for a practically nothing back then.

We were well aware of the figure that we cut, as the three of us sailed down 59th Street at the end of the day. Michael's men: blonde, brown and black. Eyes met as heads turned and people stopped to watch our progress. We pretended to be oblivious to our effect on passersby.

It seems a very long time ago.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Dadzilla

If you are one of the 480 people who were sent here by this, welcome.

Please know that the other nickname being bandied about for me was Dadzilla.

I'm actually fine with both of them. I've been called worse. SuperDaddy was coined at a friend's 30th birthday party this past fall. It looks like it stuck. I don't mind. I've been wondering exactly where a 51 year old man fits in to the scheme of all thing gay, and I guess that question's been answered for me now.

Joe is extremely kind. I'm just a regular guy, as you would soon find out if you happened to hit the Dugout on a Sunday afternoon. It's just that my partner Tim's been bartending there for over 8 years and I'm usually hanging out, waiting for him to go home. Consequently, I've met a whole lot of people. You should know that I'm pretty approachable. And you can't miss me. Joe's clues could lead the walking dead directly to me.

It was a fun night. Joe arrived first, followed by Bryce and Neil, Dustin, Liam, Gregg, Greg and Mike, Eric, Erik, Jeffrey, followed by an assortment of attractive new guys. Lots of beer was consumed. Lots of hugging and random making out ensued. Some of us got way drunker than others. The whole thing was over by 9:00. Tim and I were home and in bed by 10:30.

By the way, Tim and I have nothing against Cher. We think she's just fine. We just HATE those songs. Play them at your own risk.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

All You Need Is Love

It was Thanksgiving, 1980. I'd just turned 26 and recently traded in an extremely glamorous job that paid nothing for one that rewarded me a bit more, but sent me spiraling down the road towards major alcohol abuse.

Robert and I had houseguests sleeping on our sofa that weekend. A dear friend, an ex-New Yorker, who had been banished back to his Florida hometown for misdeeds and most unbecoming conduct. We had worked together once in a showroom at the D & D Building. That, of course, is another story.

He was back for the holiday, this time with his new beau, a pharmacist by trade. Hooray, we shouted, upon learning this fact. And we weren't disappointed. Said pharmacist did not arrive empty handed. In fact, not long after introductions, he placed an extra large, economy size jar of Ionamin on the coffee table. I had never seen so many diet pills at one time. Ionamin is a fairly low grade version of speed, mostly prescribed for overweight suburbanites. Taken by the handful, it allowed us to stay up all night in the popular clubs of the time. Of course, we had to smoke endless amounts of grass, and drink copious amounts of white wine to keep from grinding our molars into a powder fine enough to snort.

The long weekend was spent hitting the bars, restaurants and clubs. Lunches at 1/Fifth, dinner at Trilogy or Clyde's, 12 West, The Eagle and The Spike. When we weren't running around on a tear, we were huddled around my coffee table. Along with the current dance music of the day, two records played in high rotation. One was the Rolling Stones' "Let It Bleed". The other had just come out a few weeks prior: John & Yoko's "Double Fantasy".

Now the Beatles had long ago made every attempt to alienate all but the most hardcore of their fans. John had proclaimed that he didn't "believe in Beatles". Paul had gone so far back to basics, as to create what was seemingly toddler music. After unloading a pent-up masterwork in the early 70's, George was just getting more and more severe. It was his Guru, or the highway. And Ringo was Ringo. The sum was definitely greater than the parts, though the parts could be quite amusing sometimes.

John had not recorded in years.

Double Fantasy started out with an anthem like no other. It was huge, yet welcoming, from the sound of the little Buddhist prayer bell at the start, to the massed distorted chorus at the fade. It seemed like John was beckoning us back to the warm and jolly hearth that was the Beatles, and it was (Just Like) Starting Over.

We played this record over and over that weekend. In our enlightened states, we studied the passed around album jacket, searching for clues. The back cover featured a picture of John and Yoko, posed on the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West. They look fit and prosperous, facing east and an unknown destiny. Or was it? I was most unsettled by this picture, and still am to this day. Their expressions are grim, almost determined. What were they thinking? What did this photograph portend?

I know none of this means anything to most of you. The Beatles are something your older siblings, or even your parents revered. Their music, so ubiquitous, cannot even be heard clearly anymore, without the freight of 40 years accumulated memories and references.

You cannot begin to imagine a time when these things actually were fresh, new and had actually never been done before. Nothing was being recycled for the umpteenth time. It was being made up, as we went along. And we all wanted more. Even in the dreary economic and political climes that prevailed through the late 60's and all through the 70's, there was always the "sea of possibilities", as Patti Smith said.

Gun shots and Ronald Reagan finished all that forever. What a grim year 1980 was. The beginning of the end.

Friday, December 02, 2005

ZZZZZZZZ.....

I'm just dull, dull, dull.

A very quiet week. Worked like a dog, then came home and collapsed every night. I didn't make it to the gym once. Just call me Fat Daddy. Or better yet, don't.

I've had the head cold from hell, which finally seems to be abating. Last night I took a mighty dose of Nyquil and turned in. I woke up 8 hours later, in the exact same position I'd fallen asleep in. Very odd for me....I'm a big tosser and turner.

Hopefully, tonight's Martinis will kick the cold out of my system completely.

We're off tomorrow to M.'s house in the wilds of northern New Jersey. We've had an annual Christmas gathering in his bear-ridden house for the past few years. It involves tree decoration, a roaring fire, large drinks and even larger steaks.

M.'s been requesting a special Christmas cocktail. He even sent me a recipe for Oprah and Rachael Ray's Pomegranate Martini. It involves 1-1/2 cups of Pomegranate juice and 2 ounces of vodka. What's wrong with that picture? Sounds like instant throw-up to me.

I think we'll just invent a sort of Cosmo, substituting Pomegranate for the Cranberry juice, serve it to him in tall, chilled stemware, and Tim and I will just swill bourbon Manhattans, like the tough guys we are.

We plan on watching tapes of a mutual friend hawking his jewelry line on HSN. He's one of their star sellers. Here's a fashion hint: Kukui Nuts!!

Now that we're sledding headlong into the holiday season, I have no time for the malaise that has plagued me these past few months. I've gotten started on my shopping, and I'm not going to get all "project-manager-y" about it. It's going to be fun this year, dammit!

Anyway, we have enough things going on to keep me out of the bars on Saturday night until after New Year's. Of course, I'll still be at the same old dive on Sunday nights, with the exception of Christmas day. Now that would be just to awful to even contemplate.

Have I ever told y'all about hanging out in the International Stud on Christmas Day? In like, 1974? Depressing doesn't cover it. The evening definitely lurched on it's own accord into Tennessee Williams territory.

Maybe another time.