Sunday, August 08, 2010

And then I went to Skank-real (Montreal)

We all gladly go the distance for our friends. So when one of my nearest and dearest decided to fete her 30th birthday in Montreal, well, who was I to deprive her of my company? If you've never been to Montreal it's easy to tack off on a long weekend. Eight hours north of New York, it's a scenic drive straight up I-87. You know you're in French Canada when, on the U.S. side of the border, your radio starts to register stations blaring the unique honk that is Quebecois French. Alas, you arrive in Montreal and it looks kind of bleak, but whatever, they have some churches, a museum or two, and a D-list gay scene that is very International Male. Now, you might be wondering why I'm hating and referring to Montreal as Skank-real, well, it's just because the city has a skank air to it. The gay clubs are merely dressed up brothels and the streets are rather dirty -- the upside, however, is that there's a cool (though difficult to use) public bike rental system called Bixi. Bikes are parked throughout the city and you can pick up and drop off bikes wherever you like, for about $5 CAD an hour or $75 CAD for a year-long membership. Not a bad way to see a so-so city. Pix below:

Saturday, August 07, 2010

BEAR-ly Made it Out of Ptown Alive

Speaking of being selective about the company you keep, I took a friend up on his offer to spend a few days in Provincetown during Bear Week. I figure if I was out-gayed and out-abbed in Fire Island then surely a week among less persnickety men would do my self-esteem some good. And so it was. Planes, trains and automobiles - literally - to arrive at the most beautiful and vibrant town on the end of Cape Cod. Y'all know I've spent some good (and bad) times out in Ptown but I never tire of the town's beauty. The dunes, the tall grass, and the winding roads that lead to nowhere and everywhere -- it's just as easy to feel like the only person in the world out there as it is to feel cramped among a horde of bears.

Here, too, the company was stellar and my only regret is that I couldn't stay longer. Glad I caught these shots.

My Friends and I Don't Play Well with Others

BSE (Best Summer Ever) has taken me to three East Coast gay beach communities and I realize that, more often than not, my friends and I do not play well with others. Take, for instance, my last visit to Fire Island Pines. There but for the grace of God I go, into the abyss of booze, pecs and lasciviousness - not to mention the most effete gay accent you've ever heard, where every slurred statement is laced with a lisp and ends with a question mark. Don't get me wrong, I love me some gay camaraderie, but with a select group. A select group that will ignore an entire island of men to snap pictures of themselves and just get real ignorant and belligerent on the beach.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Where I've Been: Jersey Shore

Fist-pumping-like-champs, was my weekend on the Jersey Shore. Well, not exactly. I spent Fourth of July weekend with James and his sister Pam in the town of Avon by the Sea. Quaint if not unremarkable and definitely not the guido fest I was expecting. Just a lot of nice, normal-looking families with their kids in floaties and gangly teens milling about being generally well-behaved. In the spirit of spontaneity we decided to book a room at the Days Inn and catch the fireworks in Asbury Park. Why the gays have descended on this housing-project-by-the-sea is beyond me. I don't care how many cheap Victorian houses that town has, I didn't feel safe there and I'm still washing the stench of the Days Inn off my clothes. Anyway it was a trip to the Jersey Shore and the company was top-notch, scabies, hypodermic needles and tacky gays aside, we had a blast. God bless America!

Where I've Been - Austin, TX

Best summer ever started out in Austin, Texas. Over one of many breakfasts at my new fav neighborhood spot The Grey Dog (go for the breakfast quesadillas), James and I decided to have a Texas weekend. I wanted cowboy hats, great Mexican food, great barbecue, and a chance to go line-dancing. Done, done, done and done, sweetie.

Having never been to Texas, the general consensus from friends and a quick Web search was that Austin was the best bet for two confirmed bachelors who wanted to visit the Lone Star State. Besides, the city's unofficial motto "Keep Austin Weird" was inviting enough versus, say, Dallas', "Home to George W. Bush." While I didn't find Austin to be "weird," everyone was exceedingly polite and the city itself has a young energy about it that reminded me of Boston. This is, after all, a college town. It's also perfect for a long weekend if you want to get a little bit country without fearing for your life in some backwater shantytown. In two full days, you can tack off the bars of 6th Street, the city's main drag for restaurants and bars ( it's a little pedestrian if you ax me), the warehouse district (just a block over across South Congress Avenue) which is a bit more urbane and home to most of the city's gay bars and more upscale restaurants, along with some cultural landmarks. A car is a must around here, especially if you want to head out to Barton Springs, the LBJ Presidential Library and pretty much anything else that's not in the South Congress (SoCo) area.

In addition to gorging ourselves -- we drove to Driftwood in the Texas hills to have a proper BBQ experience at The Salt Lick, had terrific Mexican at Maria Maria (owned by Carlos Santana, not that that drew us there, we just found out when we read the menu) and I had my first-ever bacon-and-cheddar-infused Bloody Mary at Frank (proud purveyors of artisanal sausage and gourmet coffees) along with a pulled pork omelette. Sights worth checking out:

Lyndon B. Johnson Library & Museum

Barton Springs

Texas State House


The Basics

Getting there:
JetBlue has a non-stop out of JFK, we scored a deal via Twitter, where the airline pushes out discount fares on Tuesdays via @JetBlue

Stay here:
We stayed at the Intercontinental on South Congress; it was a five minute walk away from the State House, 6th Street and warehouse district.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Where I've Been - Part 1

Even if you're a casual GCL reader, you will have noticed that I took an unexpected three-month break from blogging following a couple of months of infrequent posting. Long-story-short...

Actually, it's a fun, long story. Here we go.

Back in March I decided to leave my job and take a new one. Sure, millions of people -- even in this economy -- do that, and it's the way life works, right? Wrong. For me, leaving the job I had enjoyed for four years was about more than just taking a natural next step, it was an opportunity to seize money, stroke my ego and engage in a little bit of drama. I couldn't stop patting myself on the back for making a smart, strategic decision and for getting everything I thought I wanted all before the ripe old age of 30. This was to be my now, and I deserved it because, in my mind, I'm smarter than the average gay in PR and I had been waiting my turn for far too long to be recognized for my abilities.

So off I went. To peddle discount wares. To make something of myself and think big and different. I barely lasted three months.

Timing, as you know, is everything. And the only good thing that came out of my self-importance and job-hopping was that the realization that I needed to pull myself together and out of a bad situation right away came just before the start of summer. In the days leading up to Memorial Day weekend I decided I had had enough of not eating and spending endless happy hours dissecting cryptic feedback and passive aggressive behavior.

I decided to give myself the BEST. SUMMER. EVER.

Cue Katy Perry's "California Gurls," it's been a daisy-dukes-bikinis-on-top kind of summer for me.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

GCL is BACK and He is NOT Happy About this Islamic Center at Ground Zero Situation

It's been a while, hasn't it? I have lots to tell you dear reader (hi, James!) about where I've been over the last three months and what's been keeping me from blogging. I'll share full details later today.

In the meantime, what the hell is going on in this country? A blogger can't take a break to evaluate his career and focus on his abs without his hometown losing its darn mind. I'm talking about the City of New York's approval to erect an Islamic Community Center within a few blocks of Ground Zero. Allah sure is great, isn't he?

In a speech defending this ill-advised decision, Mayor Michael Bloomberg threw his hat into next year's Oscar race with a teary-eyed plea for tolerance and open-mindedness. A choice quote from the speech: "The attack [9-11] was an act of war - and our first responders defended not only our City but also our country and our Constitution. We do not honor their lives by denying the very Constitutional rights they died protecting. We honor their lives by defending those rights - and the freedoms that the terrorists attacked." (Full text at HuffPo)

Correction, Mr. Mayor: our first responders and the civilians who either burned to death, suffocated, were pulverized or had to jump to their deaths did not die protecting our constitutional rights - they were murdered. They were murdered by adherents of a faith that spits in the face of our country's Judeo-Christian values every single time we make an overture of peace. What further proof do you and your cadre of yuppie, left-leaning fools need before you realize that it is impossible to integrate Islam into our society?

I ask you: who is going to lead the community outreach at this center? Will it be someone like Anwar Al-Awlaki, the Washington, D.C. imam whom the media cast a spotlight on in the wake of the 9-11 attacks as a voice of moderate, pro-America Islam? The same Anwar Al-Awalki who is now clamoring for the deaths of Americans from his perch in Yemen? (NYT) Or will it be someone like Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood solider who turned his arms on his fellow soldiers last year? (MSNBC) And who will this community center - err, madrasa - attract? Will it be the likes of American men who are happy to move to Pakistan, Somalia or Yemen to fight against Americans, like John Walker Lindh, or the Somali-Americans who have returned home to wage jihad (NYT)?

If we're so invested in honoring the memory of the fallen and the heroism of those who helped rebuild Ground Zero why can't we ensure that these people have adequate medical care today? Why was the health care bull for 9-11 workers shot down in Congress? (Politico) Listen up, Mr. Mayor - New Yorkers need healthcare, not a mosque or a shrine to Islam.

How dare our politicians hijack the idea of tolerance and open-mindedness so as to place terrorism and the faith that breeds it on a pedestal?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Our Collective Reflection in the Sparkle of a Tiara

Who would have thought that the schlack of the Miss USA pageant would serve as a mirror for Americans to look at themselves and the issues that affect our country? Yep, the sparkle of big white...teeth, the shimmer of flowing hair extensions and the radiance of spray-tanned flesh not only celebrate gay men's notion of femininity, they're also the heat index for our country's most pressing problems. Based on the outcome of last night's pageant, where Miss Michigan, a Lebanese immigrant, won the crown, it looks like the debate about what it means to be American is going to be a scorcher. While Americans are trying their darndest to not look at people of Middle Eastern descent with suspicion, boom! the new face of American beauty could easily get pulled over in Arizona for a review of her immigration documents or be detained for a thorough once-over by the TSA.

You may recall the row that ensued last year between celeb-blogger Perez Hilton and Miss California, Carrie Prejean (she of lofty Christian values, silicone boobs and just-leaked coochie photos), who expressed an opinion against same-sex marriage. Hailed by the right and mauled by everyone else, Carrie didn't need to win a crown, she just got on the fast-track to political pundit status.

And so it goes this year, the year of suspicious packages and legalized racial profiling. If there's an issue America doesn't want to talk about, or, hell, if there's an issue America isn't talking about enough, Donald Trump's solution is to throw a bikini and a tiara on it. Well done, DT!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Arizona Lays Down the Gauntlet for Latinos Everywhere

Arizona has become the first state in the union to legalize racial profiling with the signing of a law to "identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants." (NYT) Signing the bill into law last Friday, Governor Jan Brewer has set off the outrage of Latinos and other conscientious Americans, not least the president, who take issue with the idea that cops can now stop anyone they suspect is in this country illegally, and fine and detain them if they fail to present proper documentation. (HuffPo)

So, Latinos, are your papeles in order?

It's shocking, isn't it, to watch elected officials with the support of their constituents enact hateful legislation right in front of our very eyes. The amount of time and money that has been poured into marginalizing one group and amplifying hysteria around an issue that will not go away speaks to the shortsightedness and bigotry that still exist in our government. As a Latino myself, I can't even imagine what I would say if some cop pulled me over on my way to work and asked to see my proof of residency. That's progress for ya.

True, Arizona has a high undocumented population and the state is the busiest illegal entry point along the U.S./Mexico border. With over 400,000 undocumented residents, yes, it's understandable that Arizona would want to address the strain on its resources and its identity - after all, how do you govern over a people who you don't even know are there? You've got close to half a million people under your watch whom you are morally and legally bound to serve and protect, but they have no obligation to you. From that perspective I understand the frustration of the people of Arizona.

These issues, however, all point to the need for comprehensive immigration reform. We can't apply martial law to the border, we can't just round up people based on the color of their skin and we can't just force everyone to wear their badge of citizenship. That's not what America is about. This isn't the former Soviet Union, this isn't Stasi-era East Germany, this isn't any Latin American country (pick one) under military rule. We're a country of visionary leadership, of innovative solutions - why haven't we been able to come up with a process to bring undocumented residents into the legal system, tax them appropriately and bring them from the shadows into our society? They're already here, they're already working (most of them), so what other choice do we have that doesn't compromise the principles on which this country was founded?

Our own hate and mistrust will be our undoing. This legislation in Arizona is frightening and needs to be challenged. Who's for a march on AZ?