Monday, March 06, 2006
It ain't over til it's over...
Thursday, February 16, 2006
There's no place like home (Click, Click, Click)
OK, ok some of you are annoyed at the Wizard of Oz allusions but fuck it, it's my blog and I'll write what I want! Nasty? Bitter? Jaded? Moi? No just back in New York and back to my New York ways.
Flew home on Monday, retracing in air what was accomplished with a fabulous friend and a big yellow truck on land just 2 weeks before. I followed the little plane icon on the map in the back of the seat in front of me to see where we were. Seems we actually followed I-80 for a while over the Rockies through Utah and Wyoming. I could look down and see the snow covered fields and mountains that we had driven past earlier in the month. Is there a word for that? When you fly over a place you've been and know exactly what and who is down there on the ground. Hmm, how about "aerocognization" "terra knowa" "aero-terra connectivity syndrome"? Comments are welcome at this point my darlings. While I wanted to snap pics from my window seat for the blog, I didn't want to bother my two seat mates who were busy on their lap tops. A confession must be made: I flew for the first time Jet Blue. Yes, I no longer am a Blue Virgin (oy the visual!) and even joined their frequent flyer club so now I'm True Blue (do I hear a Madonna song?). I must say it was a very pleasant flight and enjoyable experience. From the on line purchasing, to the lovely phone service when I changed my flight to Monday from Sunday on Saturday (huh?!?), free of charge, to the gracious way I was serviced on the plane (insert your own visualization here). For a post-blizzard full flight back to NYC, it was a pretty mellow experience. Usually any trip, no matter the mode of transportation, in and out of New York City is filled with tension and drama but this one was not strangely enough. I loved the much-heard-about TVs in the seats and watched cable show after cable show so I have something to talk about when I get stuck at a brunch talking about all the drivel on the boob tube. I love getting into these innocuous parlays and then announcing proudly that I never watch TV and even don't have cable (he did NOT just say that!). Well you can imagine the dropped silverware sounds and shrill queeny gasps so I won't go into detail. Any how, Kathy Griffin's show "My Life on the D-List" was really funny. Loved the Monster house show (fixing up peoples' houses to fit their fetish. Great Pirate themed house was built to replace to Whie trash ranch house somewhere in FLA I'm sure. Being a homo-homeowner (say that 3 X's fast)I love house shows. Add in an E! special on horrible parents of kid stars (The Different Strokes cast got it the worst) and voila, I was at JFK,NYC. Had a great cab ride home yakking in Russian with Grisha from Uzbekistan about the Old Country, good Central Asian restaurants in NYC and, of course, snow. Where else can you have such an experience in this country? Love this town!
So now I must mount my treadwheel again and start running. After looking at my checking account, I think I have to run pretty fast. My house was spared any snow drama, my tenant was kind enough to shovel in my absence and my 3 cats greeted me with purrs and wagging tails upon my return. The back yard is full of snow which is good, all those bulbs I planted need a good freeze. Had to dig a path out to my art studio so I could do some work and get back into the artist mode. It takes a few days but I'll be back in my mode soon. It feels like the end
of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" w/o the fab ABBA number. To quote Freda (aka Hugo Weaving) "Oh, it's good to be back! I think I lost one of my boobs." Focus on the first sentence kids, the second one was for a laugh.
No sooner had the snow, hype and drama of the Blizzard of '06 died down that it all melted away. Yes the record levels were reduced to small mounds and large pools of slush that seem to coagulate at every street corner. One loses half their boot or shoe in the murky slush as they attempt to cross the street. It's all part of the NYC winter experience. If you can't deal with it, stay in Bumfuck, WI./MI./KS...well pick your own podunck state.
Upon my return to Brooklyn, I finished up the book I was reading prior to the road trip, "Unchosen: The Secret Life of Hasidic Rebels" an interesting read about the Hasidic Jewish communities here in NYC and those who break away from it. Hasids alway repulsed me and interested me at the same time. Repulsed may be a strong word but before you get on the saddle of your high horse, let me explain. I mean that the life they lead is so restrictive and conformed that I just don't understand how one could live that way. From the "uniforms" to all the crazy rituals, I just don't get it. But I understand it more after finishing the book. As I finished up the book this morning, I couldn't help to think back to all those people in those small towns in MO. and KS. and other ultra right wing Christian places. You know what? They're pretty much the same (they just don't run around in ugly scotch plaid and black hats). But the narrow, close-minded philosophy is the same, just as it is with all the Muslims burning Danish flags and embassies because of a cartoon. The more conservative you get, the scarier you get. While they say they are closer to God, they are so far from him (this is my opinion). I don't want to start a huge debate, just throwing it out there for all to read and/or tell me to shove it up my ass.
On that note, two things. First, did we mention in earlier postings that we saw one anit-Evolution sign in Kansas City, Kansas (the smaller one, not of "Oklahoma" fame). Yes indeed, it read: "Evolution is an adult fairy tale"--UGH! But hey, free country, free speech. Just hope they don't get upset if I pay money to put up a sign that says "God loves the Gays" or "Without US, you wouldn't look Fabulous". Secondly, I must divulge my mother's reaction to the blog. While I was a tad hesitant initially about giving her the blog site, I relented to my better half, saying "Hey, this is me." Anyway, while I assured her a) you don't have to be gay to read the blog and b) there weren't salacious sexual details described, she went on her new MAC (yes she went to the dark side) to read this new thing called a blog. When I asked her what she thought she said that the whole gay aspect didn't bug her ( she did worry about blog readers from Iowa or Nebraska driving way out of their way to kick our asses) but the constant Christian bashing did. She felt I wrote too much about them negatively and she didn't like it. Well I was just responding to how I felt about them. There was no way of changing her mind (not that I want to) but I'm glad she actually took the time to read the blog and react to it. Can't change peoples' opinions ya know. Anyhow, she's still a fabulous mom.
For those of you who actually tuned in everyday to the blog, you may know my tirades about food along the way. Can you imagine how happy I was to eat a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, decent wine, cheeses, fresh fish upon my return? Happier than a pig in shit to put it plainly. Looking at the picture, you can see what 2 weeks on the road can do to a person so you can imagine my joy at being back in my food and wine concious, multicultural enclave. Oh joy!! And the weather is so nice I can ride my bike. Plus I'm starting yoga to get some shape back into my body. Got to get swimming too. I mean those blubberasses in the middle of the US of A were a wake up call believe me. I'm happy to be back in my routine of oatmeal and tea in the a.m. getting up at 6 as the sun begins to ascend over Brooklyn and another creative day begins.
So I leave you with that for now. I must shower, shave and shine and go to do some work. Actually biking to school to do some clean up work and begin mural designing. Also going to chat with some fourth graders (recipients of postcards from the trip) about the BGRT (just leaving out the G part). Stay tuned for more news from the Big Apple!
PS: Check out the 26th Annual Sword Ale Festival in NYC this Sat and Sun. I'll be dancing around town with other sword dance groups so if you see people in strange garb weilding swords, stop and check us out. Yours truly will be dancing in Port Authority at 9:30 am Saturday, then 1pm at Jefferson Market Library and then the Staten Island Terminal (Manhattan side) around 3pm. Sunday you can see us around 2-2:30pm in the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Sittin' in the morning sun...
While the East Coast got battered by the biggest snow storm on record, I was flitting about San Francisco in the warm California sun; going from breakfast in the Haight to a stroll through the park to the Russian Festival and a walk downtown. As much as 6 yrs in Siberia has made this native San Diegan a snow lover, and I must admit I was wishing I was home for the big blizzard and shoveling snow, being in the sun for one more day was heaven! Hanging out with friends and having a mellow San Francisco kind of day was better than sitting in the Oakland airport with harried travelers. Ron, Melinda, myself and kids had breakfast with friends of theirs in Ron and mine old haunts--the upper Haight. Just 2 blocks from where we used to live on Waller and Stanyan, 15 years ago. We took a walk over to our old building and reminisced about the parties, the neighbors and the Sunday brunches where we used to throw the extra waffles or pancakes at unsuspecting passerbys. Oh the good old days.
Post brunch we strolled through the park over the the uber cool new De Young museum. Everyone (yes EVERYONE) was in the park enjoying the sunshine. Someone was conducting a mass swing dance lesson, babies were everywhere. After 6 weeks of torrential rains, people were happy to get out of the house. The elusive younger brother of Ron, Kenny, made an appearance in the park, taking a detour from his planned bike ride to be social. He and I grew up together too and he's been so evasive about hanging out. Having a Harvard MBA has made him a bit arrogant and snobby, but that shit don't fly with me. I remember when he was nerdy (and "f" but I won't utter that word). Why do people get themselves so wrapped up in work and schedules that they can't take time out to hang with old friends?? I mean wouldn't you drop things and make time for someone you know 20+ yrs and still consider a friend? I would.
Walked over to a street corner not far from the park and was picked up. Oh the eyebrows are raised now aren't they?? Well I was picked up by my friend Marion and off we went to the Russian Center for the 18th annual Russian Festival. Marion was the artistic director of "Neva" the Russian Folk Ensemble of the RC back in the 80-90's of which I was one of the dancers. We haven't been in the RC in 15 yrs. so it was fun to walk around reminisce, visit people we haven't seen in ages, speak Russian, drink vodka, etc. There was a hot band from LA playing, "Limpopo" a Russian band that takes folk songs and punks them up. Crazy guys and a lot of fun to watch. The little kids singing and dancing was really cute too.
During breakfast with Nico and Marie, we were discussing the differences between living in SF and NYC. Marie summed it up nicely, "New York is for the intellect, San Francisco is for the soul." I guess that is true. I always feel inside like I'm coming home when I get to San Francisco. Going over the Bay Bridge, I relax and just get into that SF vibe. The NYC intensity melts. I remember how fabulous it was living here 15-20 yrs. ago and I'm sure it would still be a fabulous place to live. I dream of owning a big old Victorian up in Ashbury Heights. Give me some time to earn some moohlah and I'll be there.
Saturday was a glorious day and Ben, Robert, Neil and I went hiking in Marin. A short afternoon hike north of Mt. Tam (Tamalpais for those of you out of the know) up to a peak for a picnic in the sun. Red wine, horseradish cole slaw by Robert and a delicious fritata by Ben-right out of a scene from "Sideways" really. Good friends, good weather, good times. What more do you need? Shoot me, I die a happy man. Now do all of our dear blog readers follow my example of how to enjoy life? If not, I think you should. Life gets so fast and we over schedule ourselves so that we can't take time out to just enjoy the simpe things that life puts on our path. We have so many choices which can overwhelm and disable us from making a choice (don't they have a pill now to help with this new ailment, Selectaphobia?). PLEASE NOTE: This is a hidden message of advice--Live, Live, Live!!! Just like Auntie Mame taught us so many moons ago.
So today, I'm going to attempt to get back to New York City. I'm excited, it's my first time on the much talked about JetBlue airlines. Can't wait to get my hands on that screen in front of me. Who knows maybe I can volunteer to get off the plane and get a free ticket. Remember--a missed opportunity is a terrible thing. A domani!
Saturday, February 11, 2006
If you're going to San Francisco...
My friend Ron and I have been working on some children's book boxes for the past few days. They will be wooden boxes for kids to put books in with animal faces on the front. We made templates from wood (pig, cat, dog, frog and lion) and put together a prototype. Now I'll figured out how to get these going back in NYC. I connected with my butch side as I sawed and sanded with Ron's power tools. I love big tools and look forward to putting together a shop in my basement one day.
The weather has been fabulous and it's shorts and t-shirt weather here since I landed. My imminent return home to Brooklyn has been postponed by one day since a big snow storm is blowing in and why rush back to be delayed by weather when I can have another day in the sun. My friend Danielle runs NIA classes here in the East Bay and I joined her for some stretching and aerobic work yesterday morning. After 9 days in Ol' Penske, my body needed some good stretching and I got it with Danielle. Nia is sort of like aerobics and yoga together. Afterwards we did lunch in the sun at an outdoor cafe and caught up on things. Danielle and I go way back to college where we studied Russian together at SFSU. We have been many places around the world Russia, Crimea, Argentina which has bonded us for life.
Friday night was Skipper's Hawaii 5-0 party. She's a friend of my friend Cam and lives up the road a bit. Now I knew I packed my blue shirt with the pineapples on it for a reason (the dress code was Hawaiian). It was her 50th b-day and I loved the Hawaii 5-0 theme--I'll remember it 9 yrs. Everyone was festively garbed, the highlight being the young, topless guy with a grass skirt walking around. When I found out it was Skipper's 14 yr old nephew, I put my tongue back in my mouth. The champagne flowed, the bong was toked, the food was plentiful--a great time had by all. I got in a heated debate about the education system in America on the balcony with Francis and Donna (another fellow NYCer) which expanded into other debates. Dane (Cam's boyfriend) and I giggled over the bizarre tasting beef jerkey home made by a guest. She proudly told us how she put hamburger meat in her dehydrator as we supressed our laughter. Kevin's chicken wings were the bomb and after a few hits of the old bongeroonie we were munching those down like crazy. Reflecting on my past week on the orad, I told my Hawaiian shirted party going friends of HST's penchant for Hawaiian shirts when he was on vacation with the wife and daughter in Key West. Did you know of the 33rd's Hawaiian fetish? Well let me tell you neither did they (but they do know!).
Rumor has it that a big snowstorm is headed New York's way so I delyaed my trip by a day this morning so I can spend a bit more time with friends in town and attend the Russian Festival at the Russian Center of SF. The RF was a big thing for me when I lived here mostly since I danced in a Russian Folk ensemble "Neva" which was based at the Center. It'll be cool to check things out and see who I recognize at the Festival. It always was a wacky event.
The sun is blazing here on Saturday morning and I'm getting ready for a hike up in Marin with Ben, Robert and Neil. More about that later. Meanwhile, got some work to do before I play. Mr. Alland has gone AWOL on me up there in Portland. I hope he hasn't got lost in all those moving boxes. Hey Matthew are you there darling??
Thursday, February 09, 2006
The Day After the Epilogue
I flew down to the Bay Area to work on a children's book box design with a woodworking friend of mine. I have the vision, he's got the wood and together we are going to make some prototypes to hopefully sell through TomCat Designs (my business). Yes, after 10 days of galavanting across the US, it's time to get back to work :(. But it's fun work, so I love it. I'll post pictures of my box (no pun intended) once it's done--so stay tuned. Now that I'm in this pattern of waking up at 6 am and writing on our blog, I have to keep it up--yes?
By the way, for the record, a. Matthew and I are just friends b. "Let's Go Roadtripping USA" is a crap resource for a roadtrip (we equally gave it a thumbs down. The Road Atlas was a better resource) and c. the 1999 Damron's Gay Guide to the US was still a pretty reliable resource (at least one of the bars listed in each place is still there, we don't know about all those cruisy areas the authours filled their guide with--we didn't go there).
Another by the way, I must reveal is THE TRUE AND UNUSUALLY BIZARRE STORY OF FLAT RAT. Yes, as promised earlier, the truth shall be revealed at the end of the BGRT and now that time has come. OK so here goes. Can you believe that in a house with three cats I could have a mouse problem? Well a year ago Lulu, my black cat, was catching mice in my house. Not a lot, 2-3 in all, but it was still weird that the mice were so dumb they didn't figure out there were 3 cats who could whoop their ass in my house. So, two friends from Russia came to stay with me for two weeks and slept on an air matress in the living room. Well, when they left, I did a full cleaning of the place, including rolling up the Turkmen carpets on top of which the mattress laid. To my shock, as I rolled up the rug, there on the floor was a completely flat and dried out mouse, aka Flat Rat. He was in such a position as if he were running and his tail was all wavy. As an artist, I thought this was really cool and had some artistic potential so I dropped him in a plastic bag and put him in my art studio. And there he sat until the inception of the BGRT. Now I know the majority of you thinks this is really gross but hey, the artistic process is a mysterious, intangible thing so go with it. I must add a proviso that this is the only dried animal I have polyurethaned and I have no intention of doing this to my cats when they croak or any other four-legged thing. Nor will I turn into some off shoot of Jeffrey Dahmer either--shellacing body parts instead of making a stew out of them.
Thanks for all your comments along the route and look forward to seeing more of your reactions...TT
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Day 10: Epilogue
Morning dawns in
The Big Gay Road Trip is done. Can I divulge that we ended in the same gay and merry spirit as we began the trip. No cat fights or big blow ups occurred (unlike the one we saw yesterday while the van was being unloaded. Tom was staring them down and ready to do some gay couple counseling right there on the street!) and our friendship remains intact.
MA and TT’s Top 10 Best of the Best List
Best Tourist Attraction
Best Country Song
“Sarah Beth was scared to death” by Rascal Flats
Hottest of the Hottest Americans
Michael-KY (MA’s choice) Jabe-SLC (TT’s choice)
Best Gay Surprise
Best Hotel Chain
Best Western Hotels
“Give Satan and inch and he’ll be a ruler”
Best Tour Guide
Leah (aka Lee)—Maker’s Mark Distillery, Loretto, KY
Best Truck Rental Company
Penske (of course!)
Best Patriot Act Performed
MA and TT’s Top 10 Worst of the Worst List
Worst (and Dumbest) Waitress
Worst Pin up for a Healthy America
Obese man in Louisville, KY
George W. Bush
Day 9: On the trail of Lewis and Clark
During the packing, Matthew noticed a gash in the back tire of the truck. Lo and behold across the street was Lew’s Tires so Matthew did a grand job of parking on the wrong side of the street if front of the store to have the guys check out the tire. The guys joked with him as he came in, saying his parking job violated a few Federal Laws. A tall, strapping man at the counter came out to inspect the gash and told us we were OK to drive. As Matthew listened intently, Tom drooled and photographed the event for posterity (and what a posterior it was!).
In the day time,
Our first stop of the day, and our only tourist attraction of the day, was in Pendleton—home of the Pendleton Wool Mills. Pendleton, for those of you who don’t know, is famous for its wool products, mainly their everlasting jackets and blankets. Over a century old, they’ve been spinning out high quality wool goods from this mill. Another interesting fact is their working relationship with local Native American Indian tribes at a time when it wasn’t done. We barreled in and asked for a tour which we got immediately instead of having to wait an hour. Oh, the joys of traveling in January! Debra took us through the actual mill, the three of us: Matthew, myself and another woman. Because it is so loud in the place, you have to wear a walkman like device to hear Debra spin her yarn on the wool. It was a great tour. We loved looking at the entire process from spinning the wool, spooling it and blanket weaving. Matthew was ecstatic and snapped away each step of the process, while Tom asked meaningful questions about the process, unions and outsourcing. Post tour, we went to town in the store buying up blankets, pillows and jackets at factory prices. An hour or so later we said goodbye to Debra and headed on our way to PDX. Please note: MA and TT highly recommend this tourist attraction if you happen along the Northeast corner of OR.
After the fabulous wool experience we decided to make no more stops (except for gas and lunch) and get on to
For the last 6 weeks it’s been raining nonstop here in
We arrived at in the NW section of
Things couldn’t have worked out more perfectly upon our arrival in PDX. Matthew arranged for the movers to meet us at his new abode and we had Ol’ Penske unloaded and returned by . It was sad to say goodbye to our yellow friend but all good things had to come to an end. The Penske guy thought we were a little strange getting all verklempt over a truck but OP meant a lot to us and became like family. We walked back to Matthew’s place, piled high with boxes. Matthew had everything meticulously organized and could find anything he needed thanks to his handy spread sheet. We did have a time finding
Bests of the Day
(Pam at the Oregon Trail Restaurant)
(Jake at the tire shop in
(Pendleton Woolen Mills)
Acronym of the Day