Monday, June 30, 2008

Happy Pride, But What I Really Want to Say Is...

For me, holidays are benchmarks, the notches on the wall that serve to remind you how much you've grown (if you're lucky) in the past year. I wax pensive on birthdays, crimmus and pride, and in the afterglow of the holiday and my weekend at the beach, I have a lot to say.

At 27, I'm living the life I always wanted back in the closeted days of my teens. Even this month, in the middle of lots of upheaval at home and at work, I'm happy, or, just thankful to be alive. Over the past four years, I've seen my life change for the better, so I look forward to Pride Weekend, the same way I've since started looking forward to my birthday and Christmas.

But if we're going to talk about gay pride, specifically that camaraderie I'm supposed to feel with other gay men because of some shared experience of self hate and eventual (if you're lucky) self realization, then I'm not in the most festive mood this year.

On a personal level, I've been screwed by more gay men (and not in that way) than I have by the bigoted straight men popular culture has told me I'm supposed to educate on the ways on style and manners. Bitter, back-stabbing, scheming and hypocritical are the nicer terms I'd ascribe to men I've come across professionally and personally. Men who I thought would be on my side just because we're on the same team, but instead, are the first ones who would have tried to trip me up as I go about my life.

I'm no Pollyanna, but I consider myself new enough to the game to still marvel at how unlikeable many, many gay men are. The same uber liberal gays who pontificate on politics from their perches at the Pines are the same ones who will flatly tell you which race they will and won't sleep with as if they were talking about bagels and cream cheese. They thrive on enlightenment following an Atlantis cruise or a bathhouse tour of Southeast Asia and after reading Oprah's recent book club selection, but mention the word God or Christ and it's like you've spit in the hummus and everyone gets bent out of shape.

Forgive me the sweeping generalizations, but it's my blog and I'll generalize if I want to.


Happy Pride. But what I really want to say to is that, in spite of the hater-gays who make me want to commit a hate crime every now and then, I love me, my life, and I'm not going to stop living because some dudes don't like my hustle.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, pictures from yesterday's parade. In short, the parade was loooong, and for the most part, kinda boring. For every glimpse of speedo action there were 20-30 minutes of boring floats and silence, except for the catty banter between my friends and I. Highlights for me: the Colombia float, and, oddly enough, the Peru float, which had a huuuge entourage of trannies and pear-shaped dancers, but hey, there's strength in numbers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fine, I'll Take Down the Post

This blog is going to be the death of me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Michelle Obama, Hit Me Where it Hurts

I was watching The View last night (yes, I DVR it)and, horror of horrors, Michelle Obama was a guest host. And in an even more frightening twist, I found myself luhhhhhh-ving her.


Mrs. Obama was charming, funny, and managed to remain above the fray of a political campaign - a political campaign that is going to get nasty very soon. There wasn't one mention of the McCain's and there were even kind words about Laura Bush and Hillary.

Now, as someone who works in PR, I can imagine the brainstorm behind Mrs. O's appearance on the show: "Keep it, light, stay postitive, make em' love you, think you can be their friend, fist pound everyone. Let's get that white woman vote."

Sadly, I'm eating it up.

The re-branding of Michelle Obama, who is more often heard to be of a working class background and not an Ivy League graduate who was commanding $300K a year as a communications director, comes from fears that she could become a liability in her husband's campaign. Remember Teresea Heinz-Kerry?

Sadly, a political spouse needs to be a lobotomized automaton. I can't remember the last time Laura Bush had an opinion, and that's why America loves her.

While Michelle's slapstick girl talk is a maddeningly obvious political stunt, I'm all for it. At this rate, why not give her a show? It could be a cross between Oprah and that crazy woman on YouTube who's divorcing her husband.

So, in one episode Michelle could be doing her hair and interviewing Carla Bruni on speaker phone, then she'd head out to Barney's to pick out ties for Obama, and every episode would end a-la-Mr. Belvedere with an entry into her diary.

Or, maybe she could be a Den Mother on Bad Girls Club. That would be amazing.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Memories, Light the Corners of My Mind

Back in the day, New York City, 1998...

Sometimes the past just happens to you. You're living your life and going about the business of aspiration when suddenly you're confronted with the people and memories you'd stopped thinking about for years.

This past weekend I celebrated my ten year high school reunion and the wedding of a good friend from college.

Following a convocation on Facebook, several LaG alumn gathered over drinks at Chelsea alterna-pub Half King. Old jokes hadn't stopped being funny, and, for all the awkwardness that can mark one's adolescence, the conversations with people I hadn't seen in a decade was pretty natural. Of course, my classmates and I didn't have a typical high school experience, we went to LaGuardia High School, the arts high school at Lincoln Center, where the cost of entry wasn't fabulosity but talent. So we'll always have something to talk about, no matter how much time goes by.

If you look at the pic above you'll see yours truly in a tuxedo with a lovely young lady in a blue dress, that's my prom date, Conde Nast Traveler editorBeata Loyfman and I in 1998, and this past weekend at Half King. And there's me, in the middle, with Yael Kohen, an editor at Marie Claire. Yael and I not only went to LaG together, but we wound up on the same study abroad program in Paris. A few years later Miss Kohen facillitated my New York Magazine debut.

You'll also notice on the bottom left that back in my church-going, pre-pubescent days, I was a few hairs away from having a terrorist uni-brow. My homegirl Jessica and I have since been to Belize, Brazil and Staten Island, cuz we stay goin' places.

Speaking of goin' places, I also went up to Boston, home to my alma mater, Boston University, to attend a dear friend's wedding.

The highlight of the evening: revisiting my college photo shoot days with two of my best girl friends. Every day was a photo opp, including September 12, 2001, when after not knowing what to do with ourselves, we just started snapping pictures across campus. So you'll see on the bottom left of the pics below the three of us assembled a-la-Dawson's Creek on a tree. And then, on the right, as adults, with one of us a-married.

I wonder who's next.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

In the (Man) Bag

Every so often I come across posts where bloggers spill the contents of their bags and post a pic of said contents on the Web. Well, my bag is more fabulous than any other lame-o blogger, so here's the stuff that I carry with me on the daily (well, between gym days, that's another post).

Anyway, yours truly can't live without his i-Pod (it's strut music both on my to work and on my way home); Altoids, and, duh, his wallet. I'm reading Under the Banner of Heaven these days and hoping that Mitt Romney doesn't wind up on the VP ticket -- there's not that much I can read on the 2 minute subway ride to work in the mornings, but I'm a firm believer in osmosis.

And yes, a blackberry, because, as we all know, managing people is so hard.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Boundaries are a Good Thing

After listening to me complain about, well, everything, earlier this week, a wise friend said "you have to set boundaries for yourself, what will you absolutely NOT put up with?"

And so the concept of boundaries got the wheels of my little brain spinning on over-drive yesterday as I worked my way through a family emergency. Now, when I say "worked," I literally mean "worked," because in this hyper-connected age you can bury your mom and blackberry your boss at the same time. Or, in my case, juggle doctor's appointments and a near break up while proof reading documents.

Pondering what I will and won't put up with personally and professionally in the middle of an NYC heatwave, I also put together a check list of my political boundaries. Granted, I've gone on the record about my disenchantment with the Dems, but this doesn't mean I'm pinning a flag to my lapel and switching from CNN to Fox News. Even schizophrenic GCL has limits, and here are my top three:

Family Values: I won't support the family values platform and that's because it denigrates my family; I don't want kids watching porn on daytime TV, but me living with my partner in no way corrupts neighborhoods or compromises national security, contrary to what the American Family Coalition or the Christian right will have us believe

Immigration Reform: The conversation about immigration is blatantly anti-Latino. When did we go from "tear down this wall" to "let's blow through tax payer dollars to Fort Knox-ify our souther border" I'd rather focus on OPEC, specifically Saudi Arabia, as a threat to our national security, not day laborers.

Lying: While the world may be a better place without Sadaam Hussein, it'd also be better without Chavez, Omar al-Bashir (President of Sudan) and Ann Coulter, so unless we plan on going to war with all of these people, Operation Iraqi Freedom has been a complete failure. Except for the oil industry, who has seen its profits soar following the invasion of Iraq. Mission accomplished, W.

And I could go on, but I need to save materials for future posts.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Have a Hole Puncher

This summer, have yourself a refresing Hole Puncher.

Mix cacha├ža with lime juice, some crushed pineapple, a splash of cranberry juice, a pinch of cilantro and drizzle with tequila for a summertime jolt.

It's a bad boy's drink for a good boy with a man bag and a tan.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Why I am What I am

That's me in that late 80s class picture. Yep, I'm the grinning, budding queer, preening for the camera, in a vest. While I'm staunchly anti acid wash today, my choice in clothing hasn't changed much. I still love a good vest.

Back in 1989, when this pic was taken, the U.S. was preparing for its first assault on Iraq. There was also a kerfuffle in Panama, which was especially felt by yours truly when his favorite Venezuelan soap opera, Pasionaria, was bumped by former Miss Universe-cum-Telemundo-anchor Cecilia Boloco with her breaking news from Panama City.

At the time, war was something I'd only heard about in a classroom: the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War. It was something distant, not something that would ever happen in my lifetime. But when it did happen, or at least when it registered in myh world, I watched, with dread and amazement, war unfold on TV.

And then the lessons I was getting from my Jehovah's Witness mother really began to ring true: the world is coming to an end. So firm was that belief that I wasn't even allowed to go on a school field trip to the U.N. that year because that's where the Devil reigns supreme(today I live three blocks away from a place the Rawhide, but anyway). JW's believe the world's governments are under Satan's influence, and the UN being the caucus of most of the world's governments, it's only fitting that Lucifer would like it there.

All of this anti-politics and war and end-of-the-world noise buzzed in the background as I graduated from elementary school and went on to middle school. And then everything came to a head in 1992 when the Clintons entered my world. It was an amazing summer for TV-watching (budding queer, remember?) and nothing was better, for me, than gymnastics and synchronized swimming at the Olympics, and the Democratic Convention where the guy from Hope took the stage.

And that's where the modern fairy tale of Clinton-lot began. There were the endorsements from the Kennedys, and the noise about Clinton's young, fresh perspective. And the acclaim for his accomplished wife and their well-behaved daughter. It was morning for America, finally, and there would be nothing but blue skies, reconcilliation and apple pie for everyone. Even a gay Latino kid in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

I believed the Clinton hype and my a-political parents ate it up, too. We never talked about Regan in our house, but we lavished praise on the Clinton. In fact, "El Clinton" could do no wrong.

Until, of course, he did. There was NAFTA, Don't Ask Don't Tell, the Defense of Marriage Act, the horrible response to the Rwandan genocide and Monica-gate. But in the age of "Friends" and cyber cafes, Clinton's foibles were somewhat laughable. Most of us felt we had the best man for the job in the White House.

Fast forward to the 2000 elections when all hell broke loose. For all of the talk today about change I think we've slighted George Bush for being the ultimate agent of change - he threw us into the culture war, and oh yeah, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention that recession his father started back in the early 90s.

Still with me? I know this is droning on but I'm getting to my point.

After 9-11 and two wars, anyone in their right mind would have thought the country would have had enough of the Republicans. And so the Democrats put out Howard Dean in 2003 as a brassy, learned and decorated alternative to Bush's gentleman's C's swagger. And things seemed great until one impassioned speech left us with John Kerry.

So we lost the election and then Hilary entered the presidential race. But wait, remember a speech by a good looking Senator from Illinois at the Dems' convention in 04? Something about seeing purple and even mentioning gay people? In a positive way, no less.

Yeah, he won me over too.

Because by then I was so over Hillary and her own flip floppy ways - from the war in Iraq to her opportunistic approach to every crisis that I wanted, sigh, a change.

And I got nasty about it (as readers of this blog may remember). Ever since I was a kid, I had an either love/hate relationship with people - I never did "nice."

But then, after seeing Hillary get tossed around and pummeled in Iowa, I started thinking about what made me like her and her husband so much in 92. And it began to strike me as unfair that all of a sudden she was being hung out to dry because a newer, untested candidate with slick prose emerged.

And then I got nasty about Obama.

However -- and now I'm getting to my point -- every time I said something mean and nasty about Hillary I was either booed or applauded, but I was never called sexist. The minute I jumped off the Obama bandwagon, though, I became a member of the Aryan Nation, and that was because, apparently, the Klan wouldn't have me.

And I've taken it in stride. Even when good friends have flat out have called me an idiot and a racist because I'm just not that into B. Hussein Obama.

Which brings me to the issue of why I call Barack by his Muslim name. First, because I read it on Ann Coulter's site and I thought it was very clever. And second, because back in 1989 I was told that Saddam Hussein was going to blow up the world and now America can't wait to elect a Hussein to power. It smacks of irony, at best, and disaster waiting to happen, at worst. In my opinion anyway, which is the basis of this blog.

A blog which, by its title, according to some, speaks to some inner conflict and latent schizophrenia. I think the title of my blog describes me perfectly. I'm a gay man with some conservative opinions -- I won't even say I can't help them because I don't want to make excuses for agreeing with many of the sound lessons I learned in a Christian household. But my liberal streak absolutely holds government accountable for the well being of the people and it demands that the less advantaged be given some sort of leg up to even the odds every now and then.

I'm not schizophrenic, I'm just open minded. And I'm thankful to live in a country where I can say that my open-mindedness doesn't see B. Hussein Obama as the right candidate for me.

And where, at 9 years of age or at 27, I'm allowed to gel my hair and wear whatever kind of vest I want.

Yay Pandas!

From CNN: "'Kung Fu Panda' masters box office," Carrie eats her Manolos.

Mmm, pandas.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

There Goes the Latino Vote

From Hillary's campaign:

I understand that the Dems are making her support Barack, but it's the bait-and-switch tactics the Party has been playing that will cost them the election in November. Rail-roading Howard Dean and substituting him with Kerry, and now this Obama/Clinton situation just confirms, for me, that the Dems politick like no one's business and are just a bunch of spiteful, incompetent blow hards.

It's so easy for anyone to bash the Bush administration but even with that, the Dems can't get their act together and find someone that most of the party can support.

I certainly won't cast a vote for B. Hussein Obama and I can almost guarantee that the Latino voting block everyone likes to talk about from time to time will either sit this one out or vote for McCain.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hillary: "No Decisions Tonight"

CNN says Obama has sealed the Dems' nomination. And so the people have spoken.

Hillary, however, isn't conceding defeat tonight.

Not because she's stubborn or arrogant. Not because she doesn't know that this campaign is over. Hillary isn't conceding defeat because this isn't the first time she's been hung out to dry by the media, by the Dems, even yours truly. And each and every time she's come out on top.

"On top," though, isn't going to mean a nomination in Denver. "On top," for Hillary, will be for the ages to vindicate what has been a life-long commitment to the service of the American people. Because where Hillary sits now is hardly a place of glory, but of beat up martyrdom. And short of cowering in defeat, she's just weighing her options. She may not have a place in Denver, but she has a place in the next chapter of our nation's history.

And kudos to B.Hussein Obama for acknowledging that. I actually liked his speech tonight. As a man of color myself, I applaud his win. It's historic, it's exciting. Let's hope it inspires many more people of color to take ownership of their role in the next chapter of our nation's history. It certainly makes me believe that anything is possible in this country.

And my fav part of the evening? Hillary's closing track after her speech here in New York. When I go out, you can play this song, too, y'all. Simply The Best.

Monday, June 02, 2008

This Old Studio

Now that gays are almost allowed to get married in New York, I think it's time for me to put a steak in the ground and turn the studio that James and I call home into our show piece. (You so thought that steak in the ground reference was going somewhere salty, didn't you?)

Anyway, here are our current digs:

It's nice, woodsy, sturdy, masculine, it's James. With a bit of a twist, hence the swirls on the couch (and, yes, the peonies).

But four years into our relationship, some jewelry and a beautiful man bag I call Baby Gucci, the next chapter of our life together will be marked by pursuits domestic. Like Marie Antoinette, Scarlett O'Hara and Jackie O, I'm turning this house inside out and making it scream ME. I mean, US (but emphasis on ME).

Here are some points of reference for this project, which will have to fit into our summer schedule. James, Ol' Penny-Pinch, as I like to call him, is trying to put a budget on our vision. Pish posh, I say. Did the pharaohs put a budget on the pyramids?

From Versailles:

And some concepts from my new bible, Domino magazine:

I like the simple gray with emphasis on texture and the illusion of high ceilings. However, it looks like the showroom for some cookie-cutter condo. Which, sadly, I like.

I like the metallic, blinding white quality of this room with sketchy lines and crumpled shapes. And I've always wanted a Louis XVI chair...

This is more James' color palette but a layout that I could live with. It's a little too Bessie the cow for me, but the butterscotch hues will offset the sticker shock for my beloved.

This is way minimal for me but I like the balance of large pieces against smaller ones. And I like breaking up white with a splash of hot pink.
I know, I know, we're lucky to have an affordable apartment in Manhattan and we should save our pennies to buy a place once the real estate bubble bursts. But when the hell is that going to happen? Unlike premium denim, a classic six can't be found in the bargain basement, so it's either make do or hope for the best. Fortunately, unlike a classic six, many of the items in these concepts can be found in a bargain basement.

Let the games begin.