Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mamma Mia Done Right

Stupid me paid $12 to see the Hollywood version of Mamma Mia (quick recap for those who are on the fence about going: Don't)when the best version of the song, capturing the syrupy camp fest that is ABBA, is available for free on You Tube.

Margarita Pracatan, a local public-access TV star in New York became a celebrity in London after some BBC folks caught her show while visiting the Big Apple. One thing led to another and Margarita wound up in the UK.

Here's a clip:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Very Own Silver Fox

According to The Advocate, we're living in the age of the silver fox. And to prove it, the magazine's annual sex issue is sporting a pouty, pensive-looking Anderson Cooper on the cover. Inside, you'll find fluff pieces on lesbian cougars (shudder) and a rather long story about some guy who spent a year sleeping almost exclusively with married men (whore).

I guess I've been living in the age of the silver fox since I started dating men six years ago. I've always skewed older as I found myself bored and mistreated by guys my age. Not that the older ones were any nicer some of the times, but at least the conversations were far more interesting. These guys also gave me something to aspire to, as at the very start of my career I thought I'd be faxing and copying for the rest of my life. "You mean you don't get your boss' coffee? Innnnteresting."

Of course, none of those situations ever turned into anything serious. And it's not like I stopped trying to find a more age appropriate paramour during my single days either. Soon enough, though, I was introduced to James, a silver fox whom I would later claim as my very own. Four years later, the warranty has expired but I have no plans to trade him in. He's adorable. I'd hate to think I fit some gay relationship prototype, but I do know that I have with James works, it's festive, and I couldn't imagine living my life with anyone else.

And while I don't think an attraction to debonair, sophisticated men is anything new, I do thank The Advocate for the fodder for today's blog and for reminding me how lucky I am to have my very own James.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You'r Either With Us or Against Us

Thought of the day: If you're not in favor of gay rights, you're a bigot hothead who's one bad day away from a violent rampage.

And that's truth.

Read the news these days and you'll see that the spectre for gays isn't as bright and rosy as one would expect. I fancy myself an informed observer of world events but I hate to say I've fallen asleep at the wheel, spending way too much time pounding maritas and hole punchers and shopping for my next man bag on

But the stories won't go away. There is indeed a culture war in this country and the casualties are mounting. This isn't a metaphor. People are actually dying because some Americans think gays are sub-human. It's as if we were waterbugs - few people like stomping on them, but no one makes a fuss when they're killed.

I'm all about playing nice and hoping for the best and giving everyone a chance to grow and learn, but I've made up my mind: people who are on the fence about gay rights, people who don't see this issue as one that needs to be addressed and fixed can click over my blog and go straight to

The shooting at a Unitarian Church in Tennessee this past Sunday by a man enraged over the church's pro-gay stance, the shooting death of an unarmed man at San Diego's Gay Pride festivities and the death of a gay teen at the hands of another classmate come at a time when Government officials are debating whether or not it's appropriate for openly gay men and women to serve in our armed forces.

To this day the gay community is depicted as a class of sexual miscreants, schemers who are aching to defile everything that is good and pure about America: our military, Christ, Lindsay Lohan.

Check out this video from last week's Congressional hearing on Don't Ask Don't Tell. Elaine Donnelly from the Center for Military Readiness is saying that we risk letting rogue HIV-positive rapists into the armed forces by repealing DADT:

So that gay agenda you keep hearing's an agenda for our survival. If people can cite the Second Amendment in order to stockpile guns, so too can we gays clamor for a place in the military -- how else are we going to defend ourselves?

Don't let Bravo TV and pop culture fool you - the tide can turn so quickly and the same general public that's laughing along with the gays now can call for our heads the minute bread lines start to form and our economy tanks. How do you think the Jews got wiped out in WWII? In the throes of a depression in the States, they'll go after the gays, the immigrants (legal or not), the blacks, the browns, the low-income whites, and then all that will be left are cockroaches, Ann Coulter and Wall-E.

Am an I alarmist drama queen? Sometimes. But I've also heard the words filthy gay man, faggot, puto, and maricon hurled in my direction more times - in the past six months - than I can count. And then there are the headlines. And I wonder: how big is the divide between words and actions?

I don't care to find out.

But I'm not going to take this sitting down.

If fundamentalist neo-Nazis can fund anti-gay legislation, so too can the gays support organizations that have our back. One less round of maritas for me and the donations are going to:

Human Rights Campaign
Hetrick Martin Institute
Gay Men's Health Crisis

I do believe this is war.

Monday, July 28, 2008

What Would You do With $700 Billion?

I hate to admit that yours truly is very much in the dark regarding that energy crisis everyone is banging about these days. I've noticed that gas prices are rather high and I've sort of made peace with the fact that we're all serfs to OPEC, but that's as far as my understanding of the issue goes.

Lucky for me, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman brought me up to speed on two figures who are likely to curb the path of the energy storm, provided their governments don't get in the way.

In a column that ran yesterday titled "Texas to Tel Aviv," Friedman writes about two men who are working feverishly to ween the world from its dependence on oil. One of them is oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens , who is funding a movement to create American-produced energy resources. You may have seen Pickens' commercials (he's invested a lot of money into publicizing a massive wind energy project called Pickens Plan) on TV or on YouTube, where he's getting tons of hits on his easy-to-understand video explaining how easy it is to switch to cleaner and more cost effective energy sources. Check it out here:

Boone's argument is pretty simple: "We import 70 percent of our oil at a cost of $700billion a year." And you wonder why Hugo Chavez can poke fun at our President at the U.N. and the Saudis can blow up skyscrapers with impunity - it's a matter of "bitch, what you gon' do about it?"

It should come as no surprise that another country who really wants to stop paying for Middle Eastern oil is Israel. Friedman profiles Shai Agassi, who has started a company called Better Place, which aims to become Israel's answer to ZipCar, only with a full fleet of electric cars. Instead of gas stations, drivers will be able to recharge their cars anywhere in Israel at any time.

Not sure if I can see that concept flying here in the States, where cars are literally an extension of self. Just imagine a family of four fat Americans squeezing into an electric Smart car on the way to the county fair...

Still, it's this sort of progressive thinking, that can be easily understood by plebes like me, that we need to get people talking about energy. It's a real issue, as real as the war on terror, and we need to start coming up with solutions. What say you, Barack, John?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Missing the Cape

While I get reacquainted with the gym and start to ween myself off Coca-Cola, fried foods and maritas (well, maybe not maritas), here are some pix from my trip to Cape Cod last week with James.

As you may know, visits to the Cape are usually a family affair for us, but this summer we left our siblings and parental units at home and, sigh, bonded.

Seven days and twelve hours of driving later, we're all caught up on issues domestic and romantic. I'll spare you those updates and limit the post to showing off my pictures.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Week in Review

Happy Friday! In my first week back in civilization, the dead heat of summer forced Obama on a jet-setting tour of the Middle East and Europe while celebs Stateside done flipped out. Highlights:

From Baghdad to Paris, Barack is courting the world with his Change We Can Believe In shtick. And for the most part, the world is loving it, though more learned minds remain unconvinced, asking the question: what happens after the motivational speeches? Now I don't like to spoil a wonderful story - I think it's great that 200,000 Berliners stopped by to cheer on an American of any political inclination, but still, hundreds of thousands of protesters in 2004 couldn't oust Bush-Cheney, and Europeans, thankfully, don't control our elections. So I'm hesitant to call a victory here. I mean, it's summer and Obama is one of the world's most exciting celebs, who wouldn't want to go out and see him? Does that mean the White House is his? I'm still not that sure.

Still, I love a well-executed PR program and Obama has masterfully wielded his power over the media to produce shot after shot of himself as a jetset, with-it kinda guy. I could do without the references to JFK, but it's much better than the blasphemous contest Michelle Malkin has got going on her blog where she's asked readers to offer mock-ups for T-shirts of Obama's world tour. I guess it's OK to mock Christ if you're doing it to denigrate Dems.

Speaking of Christ and PR stunts, the media machine at ABC's The View has got Sherri Sheppard shilling for headlines following comments she made to a Christian magazine about having had more abortions than she could count before embracing the Lord. After addressing these comments on the show, and saying she used to feel shame for the number of abortions she'd had, her co-hosts criticized society for making women like Sherri feel bad about their reproductive choices. Call me crazy, but I think women should just be thankful they have reproductive choices for now. Now they want a round of applause, too? Sherri's rantings painted abortion as a callous individual's solution for slutty ways and that's just the kind of fodder right-wing, liberties-snatching fundamentalists love to spit back at Congress when they lobby to put more guns and less condoms on the streets.

Someone who probably wishes she had reproductive choice a few years ago is Christian Bale's mom, who apparently got the beat down from her son, star of the new Batman movie, earlier this week. A dead co-star catapulted the movie to the top of the box office charts last week, trumping Mamma Mia (sniff), let's see if alleged domestic violence ensures a week 2 victory.

But back to politics. The Christian Science Monitor is clamoring "Hillary for VP." Which got me to thinking, my girl's been keeping a low profile these days. Is she over politics? Where she at? I wonder if she took my advice and is somewhere in the South of France. Or the Pines.

Which is where I'd love to be right now. Instead, I'm off to work.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I Won't Enlist, Don't Ask Me

Congress is going to revisit Don't Ask Don't Tell for the first time since 1993 tomorrow. With recruiting becoming an ever more daunting task for the armed forces, they're now resorting to maybe courting Pink Street.

From USA Today: Democrats in Congress hope to ignite a drive to reverse the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy Wednesday with the first hearing on the subject since 1993, when President Clinton said gays could serve in uniform if they kept quiet about their sexual orientation.

Obama has said he would propose repealing DADT, McCain wants to keep it in place.

I know I should care more about this issue I'm really ambivalent about our military. I hope all of our troops come home safely, of course, but really, I couldn't care less if they want gays or not in the armed forces. And that's because it's a career path that never crossed my radar: flight attendant and fashion designer yes, major league pitcher or war hero...not so much. So, this whole business of the military being anti-gay just makes me want to toil even harder at my PR job - cuz that's where gays belong: in the business of smiling, dialing and cat-fighting.

But if it comes to pass that the closet door is burst open and gay soldiers are going to strut into Baghdad, I do hope the army will consider a few of my recommendations as there are a couple of gays whom I would love to ship the Middle East for an extended tour of duty.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Viva Colombia

Happy Independence Day to all of my Colombian people worldwide. In places like New York, Miami and Madrid it's easy to find scores of paisanos to spend the day with, but my cousin Evelyn, an ex-pat studying in Tokyo, doesn't have that luxury. Still, she made do with her new friends in the far east and took Asian fusion to new levels.

Saludos primita!

Feeling festive yourself? Hit me up, if you know my digits, and let's do some Colombian stuff whenever, wherever. Check out the New York Times guide to a Colombian weekend in the city.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Girl, What You Wore to Peru?

Outfits, baby. I wore outfitsss for a hike along the Andes to Machu Picchu. I rocked North Face, Marc Jacobs, Dolce & Gabbana, hoodies and a Mets cap as I battled the elements and the Chelsea queen within on my way to the Inca holy land. And I did it on the clock. As part of my job, I escorted a group of reporters on a press trip to Peru to showcase LAN Airlines Premium Business Class and acquaint them with one of the hottest tour operators in South America, Mountain Lodges of Peru. Style met style on this journey as the cushy comforts of my client's business class cabin were complemented by the plush attention of a lux tour company that's re-inventing the concept of glamping (glam camping).

But don't get it twisted. A boondoggle this was not - for every glass of champagne swilled in my seat-as-bed (technically referred to as a full-flat seat) on my way to Lima, or every night spent under the stars stewing in a jacuzzi, there were miles upon miles of rocky, muddy, steep, and dusty trails to conquer. Thirty to be exact. And then there was the issue of altitude which, depending on your physical make-up, you can either get used to pretty quickly or lose your lunch over. I straddled the line between asphyxia-induced hallucination and run-of-the-mill huffing and puffing.

And I'd do it all over it again. For some reason I wound up thousands of miles away from my self-complicated life and smack in the middle of nature - and I couldn't be more thankful for that. Even self-absorbed me recognized the smallness of, well, me, and my issues, next to the mountains of Peru. I was seeing red before my trip, but soon enough my sights were set not on vengeance and snarky comebacks, but on the lush green valleys and snow capped mountains outside of Cusco, on the fog rolling in over the Santa Teresa valley and on the coffee fields of Lucmabamba.

For five days I embraced that boy within me that probably never was. I relished in the dirt that accumulated under my nails, in my shoes and and on my face. I marveled at my dirt brown snot and didn't shave until the end of the trip. And not once did I get sick - not bad for someone who'd never hiked before. It was absolutely liberating. Eff you, Seventh Avenue.

The journey began in Cusco, ancient capital of the Inca empire. Much of Inca history is based on conjecture but scholars do know this: the Inca loved gold and silver, as did the Spaniards, and on came the genocide. The Spaniards won.

What's left of the turmoil is a beautiful colonial city that is home to centuries-old religious institutions like Saint Dominic's Cathedral, a monastery built on top of an Inca temple, and the Iglesia del Triumfo (Church of the Triumph) a massive complex with 12 chapels all teeming with gold, silver and other sparklies in honor of a host of Catholic saints.

I was especially struck by the art in Cusco, as it's the home of the Cusco school of painters who were taught by the Europeans to create pieces that are reminiscent of Raphael, El Greco and Rubens.

And as a backpacker's paradise, Cusco offers tons by way of colorful characters. But we'll get to that later.

You can see art and have a snog with a random Brazilian anywhere, but you go to Peru for the nature. And if you're lucky like me, you get to wade knee-deep in nature and wash it all off at a luxe lodge every night.

The highlight of the hike, believe it or not, wasn't Machu Picchu. At least not for me. I was more impressed with the Salkantay Pampa and the snowcapped Salkantay and Humantay Mountains:

I felt like I was in a Marlboro ad on this part of the hike. On this particular morning we set out at 7am - and it was fuh-reezing. By noon, we were 15,000 feet above sea level and hugging each other. Our first achievement of the trip. But it wasn't without it's drama:

Still, getting up close to the mountain, feeling the snowflakes om my nose and taking in the blinding sun made all the drama worthwhile. This was my first day as a hiker and this was the sort of jolt I needed to keep going.

And the sights just kept getting better.

Along the way, the lodges we stayed at fed us, cleaned our boots (in my case my Pumas, which held up fantastically) and placed hot water bottles in our beds before we went to bed.

I even ate guinea pig, or, as the locals call it, cui.

Recaps of days 2 and 3:

And now the moment you've been waiting for. If you've made it this far, thanks so much for staying with me, I hope the following makes up for all the pre-amble.

Machu Picchu is, rightly so, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. When I said it wasn't the highlight of the trip for me I just meant that Peru is teeming with unbelievable sights, and having been so focused on Machu Picchu from the start of my trip, I was blown away by how much more there was to take in on our way to the site.

But make no mistake, Machu Picchu is truly an impressive site. It looks as if it's hovering between endless jagged peaks and you can literally stare at it, dumbfounded, for hours. How did that complex of houses and temples just happen in the middle of nowhere? No one knows for sure, but the result is still amazing.

Yep, I brought my Lil Kim T-shirt to Machu Picchu.

Among the many lessons I was trying to absorb from the heavens while atop Machu Picchu, the one that came through loud and clear was that there is no easy way to see this place. There is no way around the hiking and climbing here so if you want to go and think you can skip the travails of steep inclines and stress on your hamstrings - no dice.

We caught a bus for a train early in the morning to reach the town of Aguascalientes (Hot Waters) where we caught another bus that took us up to Machu Picchu. The first train ride was, as we say in Spanish, muy folklorico - it was full immersion in the sights and smells of Peru.

One of our guides, Diego.

On the way back, we took a luxury liner and were treated to a dance number by a guy in a ski mask and a fashion show by the train's attendants. One minute they were wearing their uniforms, the next, they were struttin down a runway (read: aisle)in Alpaca confections. I was expecting for unicorns to come out from under my seat as I was sure I'd OD'ed on coca candy. But no, I was not hallucinating, the same person who served me my sandwich was now grooving to Dancing Queen. And I had to sing along:

Ski-mask dance number (notice the woman, who I assume is from Iowa or some other backward state, staring at me):

And now the fashions:

By now you should be as dizzy with nature, culture and history as I was by the time this fashion show took place. Fortunately, our train was speeding not toward another hiking trail, but toward our goodbye party in Cusco which ended conveniently before our 7am flight to Lima.

Tell us about it Tracey:

Because we had to go about our hike sober, we made up for the dry spell with a few Cusquenas. We played darts for a bit, then head out for Cusco's clubs which will play anything that was hot in 1999. And I loved it. Pictures with random strangers and an accidental snog with one bawdy Brazilian (meaning, I snapped the picture and as soon as I turned around I had a carioca on my lips)definitely put a bow on five fabulous days.

How would Lima ever compete with that?

Well, what Lima lacked in bawdy Brazilians it more than made up for with historic sites and colorful buildings.

And that brings this recap to a close. I'd never thought that my job would afford me the amazing opportunities I've enjoyed over the past few months. This trip to Peru was one of the most exciting experiences of my life and I'm still reeling from the things I saw.

If you ever want to make the trip yourself, I can't recommend Mountain Lodges of Peru enough. Not just because they worked with my client on this trip to comp my stay as well as that of the reporters we brought on the trip, but because our guides Pepe and Diego turned this priss into a true mountain man, and anyone who knows me can tell you that that is no small feat. Also, these guys are running a business that's helping the communities surrounding the lodges - so you don't have to worry about being an entitled gringo flaunting wealth among the less endowed - MLP is handling job training, health care and education in these parts - so not only are you treating yourself to a fab experience, you're also doing good for people in need.

Y, por supuesto, LAN Airlines, my client, is the best airline in South America.