Saturday, October 14, 2006

Gerry Studds, 69

Gerry Studds, America's first openly gay Congressman, has died in Boston at age 69, due to a blood clot in his lung. Studds had been in the news recently, even though he retired from Congress in 1997, as he too had been involved in a page scandal, back in 1983. Studds leaves his husband, Dean Dara, whom he married shortly after gay marriage was made legal in Massachusetts.

Friday, October 13, 2006


During Open House New York, our "tour" of the Chrysler Building turned out to be a rather boring lobby lecture on the history of skyscrapers. We were told when we got there that contrary to expectations, we would get no further than the inside of the elevator parked on the ground floor. Oh, but we were welcome to take pictures INSIDE the non-moving elevator. Big woo. And big boo. But the lobby is grand.

Saturday Night

I hate having to make the call between Blowoff and Pet Shop Boys, but since the Boys only come around every three years or so, I'll be at Radio City Music Hall. Those that can get to DC, should definitely not miss Blowoff at the 9:30 Club.

Sirius Out Q, Monday 10AM

Listen for me on Sirius Out Q In The Morning, with Larry Flick, Monday at 10am, 7am for you left-coasties. I never know what we're going to talk about, but you can stream the show live here. I'll try to provide an MP3 of the show afterwards as well, it's always a blast.

Hic-Hic...Oooh, Thank You, Baby

Among the winners of this year's Ig-Noble Awards, a prize given annually to scientists who used bizarre or unconventional methods to make legitimately useful discoveries, is Dr. Francis Fesmire of Chattanooga, Tennessee, whose cure for the hiccups has been corroborated by a team of Israeli reseachers. Dr. Fesmire's cure? A slow, probing, circular rectal massage using the index finger. True story. Index finger, meh. We can do better than that.

Things To Be Happy About

1. Scrotum stubble.
2. Simultaneously loathing and pitying self-hating closeted homos.
3. Gravy Train and daisies, but not in the same bowl.
4. Passing smug silent judgment on intergenerational relationships.
5. A perfectly ripe "monogamist".

Here's some other things to be happy about.

We call it "sharing". It's a clear, crisp day here in "NYC". Always be true in your "heart" to your partner/trick/polyamorous group of relative strangers and he/she/they will love and trust you to be the "best" you that you can be. And that's all we can really "hope" for.

Morning View - 5th & 41st

As a giant "Fuck You!" to those continuing to cry out against scaffolding advertising, Lufthansa drops this billboard-sized adscreen across the building facing the Main Library. The lions are pissed.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sentences: Redux

Gentle readers, the subject of one of my earliest short stories, my third grade teacher, Mrs. Shireman, has found my story about her here on JMG, through some self-googling. We've had a delightful and delighted email exchange, and with her gracious permission, I am reposting the story today, almost 40 years after its setting, rural North Carolina, 1967. Today Mrs. Shireman lives in San Francisco with her husband Dick, where they recently celebrated their 40th anniversary. Thank you, Mrs. Shireman!


I was in love with Mrs. Shireman.

Teachers in my elementary school were all stamped from the same mold. They wore an air of resigned imposition. Everything was a chore, a bother. Each child a pestering gnat buzzing around their elephantine legs. Miss Rose. Miss June. Miss Virginia. They all seemed to be named after flowers, or months or states. But Judy Shireman, our brand new third grade teacher...she was...different.

The other teachers all wore their hair twisted up into prim buns. Mrs. Shireman had a dyed-blond flip. While her colleagues lumbered through the halls in billowing, shapeless Simplicity pattern muu-muu's, Mrs. Shireman wore mini-skirts with matching jackets or bell-bottomed pantsuits.

She was smart, pretty, funny. When a kid was talking to her, she paid attention. She was Marlo Thomas. She was Agent 99. She was Batgirl.

And I was in love with her.

I was a difficult student. Way too sharp for your average third grader. Insanely hyperactive. Mrs. Shireman would be handing out an assignment, "Boys and girls, please put your names..."

"I'm done, Mrs. Shireman!"

She would smile at me patiently.

"OK, Joey. Let's find something else for you to enjoy while everyone else does the assignment."

She was skilled at using leading words like "enjoy", even when I was driving her nuts with my Ritalin-fueled battiness. I was earning straight A's from Mrs. Shireman, except in the category of "conduct", although I should mention that in Orwellian rural North Carolina, conduct was actually called "citizenship".

I guess if you were a talkative 8-year old you ran the risk of recruitment by Soviet agents.

To battle my hyperactivity, Mrs. Shireman would invent things for me to do. She called them "experiments".

"Joey, let's perform an experiment. I want to find out how many times you can walk out to the flagpole and back, until the last student finishes the test."

She would tap on the classroom window to let me know when the "experiment" was over.

Mrs. Shireman and my mother were friends. They were about the same age, both from New York City. Kindred spirits of sorts, each set adrift in the cultural wasteland of Carteret County. My mom and I visited her at her apartment a few times, where they'd talk about the Beatles and Elvis and I'd wander around marveling at her modern furniture. Eight years old and I was already developing a minimalist aesthetic.

I was the teacher's pet, obviously. I willingly stayed after school to clap erasers, staple papers, whatever. I graded tests, ran the mimeograph machine, anything to earn one of those approving smiles.

The other kids hated me. They knew Mrs. Shireman socialized with my mother, because I bragged about it. They resented her attempts to keep my hummingbird metabolism from totally disrupting their lessons, as favoritism. They'd make kissing sounds whenever I was up at her desk, or write "Joey + Mrs. Shireman" on the chalkboard. I didn't care.

One day, Mrs. Shireman snapped on me. I'd been up and out of my seat several times, and each time she'd return me to my desk with her firm grip on the back of my neck. Then I committed the mortal sin of talking during a test.

"Joey, please come up here!"

The other students exchanged gleeful looks. Hah! Finally!

"Joey, do you think it's fair to the class when you talk during their test?"

"I was just..."

"After school I want you to write sentences. 100 times, 'I will not talk in class'."

I was humiliated. Sentences! Me!

I returned to my desk. The other students found every opportunity during the rest of the day to make fun of me. Mr. Smarty Pants, Mr. Teacher's Pet had to stay after school and write sentences. When the bell rang, the other students filed out the room, taking great care to say 'Goodbye' to me, making sure I knew their pleasure in watching my fall.

Mrs. Shireman brought me 10 sheets of the special 'sentence writing' paper, the coarse sheets with oversized lines meant for first graders to practice writing the alphabet. I didn't even look up at her. I was furious and I had already plotted my revenge.

For an hour, I sat and wrote my sentences. I wrote with strong, angry strokes. A dozen times I had to stop and shake out the cramps in my hand and roll dry the sweaty pencil on my lap. While I wrote, Mrs. Shireman graded some papers, then read from a paperback novel. When I finished, I strode to the front of the class and put the sheets on her desk, face down.

Mrs. Shireman looked at me, sadly.

"Joey, I'm really sorry it had to come to this. You know I love you very much, and all I want is for you to learn and grow up to be the fantastic person I know you can be."

Maybe she said more, it seems like I stood there a long time. I couldn't hear anything else she said, because by then the loud painful buzzing in my ears was drowning out her words. Standing there, unable to meet her eyes, all I could think was: 'WHAT HAVE I DONE??'

On the pages on her desk, still face down, were not 100 sentences saying 'I will not talk in class.' Instead I'd written 100 times, in all capital letters: I HATE MRS. SHIREMAN!

Mrs. Shireman dismissed me, with an affectionate rub of my hair. Wordlessly, I walked out. When I got out of her sight, I raced down the hallway and out of the school doors. Running behind the hedges, so I couldn't be seen, I doubled back along the rows of windows. My mind was racing. I knew how to jimmy the windows to the classroom. Once, when Mrs. Shireman had locked her keys in our room, I broke in for her. All I had to do was zip in and grab those sheets.

It was too late.

Watching from the bushes outside, I saw Mrs. Shireman pick up my sentences. Her head cocked in puzzlement for a moment as she leafed through the pages. Her purse dropped from her shoulder onto the desk, and she pressed the sheets of paper to her chest, slumping down into her chair.

And she began...sobbing.

Her tiny shoulders heaved convulsively, and her head dropped down onto the desk. I could hear her cries.

I saw Miss Virginia walk by the open classroom door. She made a tentative move like she might walk inside to see what was going on. Then she saw me standing outside in the bushes. I jumped back, and fell into the hedge, scraping my face open. On my hands and knees, I burrowed out to the other side, jumped up and ran home.

When I burst through our front door, I was wailing inconsolably. I had blood all over my face from the hedge. I couldn't stop crying to explain to my mother, not that I would have. My mother thought that I'd been beaten up by bullies at the school. It had happened before. She called over to the school, but the principal told her that I'd been kept after class by Mrs. Shireman.

Even though they were friends, Mrs. Shireman never told my mother what I'd done. She continued to treat me fairly, but things were never the same between us. The school year ended a month later.

That was her one and only year as a teacher.

Two Great Do's

The woman on the left was the absolute best find of our Open House New York picture excursion. She was on duty at the Main Library and Father Tony and I almost dropped our cameras in awe and amazement at her elaborate Cyclonesque hair-do. She graciously smiled and twirled while we snapped away. On the right is a pic of me taken by our own Kitchenbeard at Folsom 2006. Why can't my sexy young Russian in the Village do me like LuzMaria at San Francisco's Louie's can?

Open Thread Thursday

Decades ago, I used to dream of opening my own gay bar. I had it all planned out in my head. I envisioned a little local saloon, downtown Fort Lauderdale, somewhere on the beachside of the Intracoastal. I had it all mapped out, the floorplan, the decor, the music, the beers on tap. But the one thing I could never come up with was the name of the place. Because, as every gay man reading this post knows, since the very first gay bar hung up its sign, gay men have been right there to make fun of the name by calling the bar something similar, but really mean.

Usually the name is a biting, sarcastic comment on the bar's clientele. San Francisco's bar, Pacific Heights, whose patrons were for known for their social-climbing, snobbish A-listery, was called Specific Whites. The Detour, known for the patronage of cracked-out tweakers, was called The Detox. Bars that posed as bastions of tough butchness usually received names that mocked the patrons' masculinity. Hence, The Eagle becomes The E-Girl. The Powerhouse becomes The Powderpuff.

What's your own short list of mean bar names? I'll start with mine:

Badlands - Sadlands (too easy, really.)
The Copa - The Coma (true, once the attendance died.)
Port Au Prince - Port Au Pussy (it became it dyke bar!)
Midnight Sun - Midnight Scum (this one, I never got.)
The Stud - The Stub (the doorman had one arm, for real!)


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Short Day

Midtown has erupted into sirens. A plane has crashed into a high-rise. Appears to be my apartment block. Well, guess I'll be heading home early today.

UPDATE: The building is at 72nd & York, at least 1000 feet from mine. The fire looks quite bad. At this time of day, the only people likely to be home in that building will be children and their nannies. CNN is reporting that fighter jets have been scrambled over NYC as a precautionary measure. My neighbors, Jeff of Cynically Optimistic, and RJ of Daily Blague, have already posted live pics.

UPDATE II: The plane was owned by New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle, he and his passenger were killed.

(Sally Field Joke Here)

You are kind and obedient, my virtual army of lovers. Embiggen the pic for the list of gay blogs most liked by Advocate readers. Many of my own personal favorites are on there: Andrew Sullivan, Towleroad, BlogActive, Keith Boykin, all of which are down there on my blogroll. Thanks very much to our own Foxy for providing the scan. (Post headline reference: here, for you young'ins.)

Manhunters Beware

A gay Brooklyn man is on life-support with probable permanent brain damage, after being lured to Plumb Beach for sex by four straight young men who contacted him on what police are calling a "popular internet chat line". Michael Sandy, 29, fled his attackers by running onto the Belt Highway where he was struck by a car, which left the scene without stopping. The young men were then seen rifling through Sandy's pockets. Police used Sandy's computer to trace the IP of the four young men, who are under arrest.

I have been hearing more stories like this over the past year. In the old days, gay activists used to advise not leaving a bar or club with a stranger without letting someone you know and trust meet them and see who you are leaving with. Not that many of us actually did that. What procedures could be put in place to make internet hook-ups safer?

Evil Old Queen.

Thanks to everybody for all the birthday wishes yesterday. I celebrated by dragging my enfeebled, liver-spotted carcass into bed at 8PM, falling asleep before they even found the body on Law & Order. Celebration was made, however, on Sunday night, on my usual round of beer busts, where multiple shots of Jager were handed to me over the course of the night. One of the Farmboyz poured me into a taxi and gave the driver my address. I think.

Yesterday, my sister's annual funhouse box of birthday presents landed on my desk. Amongst the Smarties, Animal Crackers, and t-shirts, were gifts from her kids, including this picture frame, made by my 5-year old niece in the preschool crafts class. "Happy bifhday, Uncle Joe. You are the Evil Queen. I can do a cartwheel."

This kid, she learns fast.

Morning View - MetLife Tower

Built on Madison Square in 1909, the 51-story MetLife Tower ruled as the world's tallest building until the Woolworth Tower went up downtown four years later. The MetLife completed a multi-year renovation in 2002 and today you'd swear it had gone up yesterday, not 97 years ago. My late aunt once had an office behind one of the clockfaces, screwing her out of a fabulous view of Madison Square Park below, the original site of Madison Square Garden. The perimeter of the park may be the single best viewing point for landmark NYC buildings, affording spectacular views including the Flatiron, the Empire State, and the NY Life tower.

Trivia: The minute hand on each of the four clockfaces is 26 feet long and weighs 1200 pounds.

Best. Title. Ever.

I don't think I've ever merely posted about someone else's blogpost title before, but Little Tom's header for his story about apartment renovation? I'm stilling laughing 12 hours later.

Spackle, Neely, spackle!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Aaron IM's A Thoughtful Question

Aaron: if a Splash bartender leaves his job and starts doing porn, does that mean that his status in the gay world has gone up or gone down?

Joe: Hmm, I'd say that would be a lateral move.

Aaron: OK.

Joe: Unless he bottoms in the porn. In which case, down.

Aaron: He does. Is that so wrong?

Joe: I don't think so, personally. But I don't make the rules.

It Was Inevitable

Christopher Street, Sunday 5pm, outside The Hangar bar.....

Twink 1: What's that Ty's place like?

Twink 2: Ugh. A total Foley bar.

Twink 1: Ew.

Do Not Snack From Bodega Steamtables

I know that days-old imitation seafood salad is mighty tempting, but try and control youself. Relax, take your time, pay first, then enjoy your listeria.

Birthplace Of The "Club Kid"

Completing the dismal hat trick of three consecutive posts about the demise of NYC landmarks, here's a shot I took yesterday of the Church Of The Holy Communion, Chelsea's grim bit of gothic revival more famously known as The Limelight, the nightclub that brought us the legendary Disco 2000 parties, Michael Alig, DJ Keoki and a dismembered drug dealer here and there.

Limelight is also the only nightclub I've ever been thrown out of, back in '91, when my stupid friend would not stop shining his gawdam laser pointer at the DJ. Security said "Give us the laser or get out." And since my friend had paid something like $300 for it (now they come free with gum), he wouldn't surrender it and out on our asses we went, a mere 20 minutes after getting inside, having waited outside in the line, in the snow, for over an hour. Yeah, still mad about that, actually. Stupid friend.

I was going to say something about the Limelight's shady former owner, Peter Gatien, and his racketeering and tax evasion conviction losing him the right to hold a liquor license, but I got sidetracked by Wikipedia's hilariously whitewashed entry on him. Kudos to Gatien's PR team on that, sincerely. (I did love Gatien's weirdly fantastic futuristic Times Square disco, Club USA.) After Limelight closed, the club changed hands and was completely gutted out, returning as the dreary Avalon. During the renovations, my buddy and I stopped by and we each bought one of the metallic starburst light fixtures that hung over the DJ booth. Nearly killed ourselves cutting them down.

Today the Church Of The Holy Communion only faintly reverberates with the techno echo of ten million K-bumps. It's been seized by the state and I suppose it will be sold at auction. I think it would make a fantastic apartment, however I have the feeling it will end up a "funky" outlet for Crunch Gyms or something similarly uninspired. Hey! We're working our abs! In a church! Cuh-ray-zee!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Tower Toppled

In what many music industry insiders consider the final nail in the music retail coffin, Tower Records was liquidated on Friday after a couple of years of operating in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. All stores immediately put up their "Going Out Of Business" signs, including New York's Broadway store, pictured above. This leaves only Virgin Records, with 20 stores nationwide, as a significant deep-catalog music retailer, as what few mall-based music stores still exist typically only offer the top chart hits.

As Tower's liquidators begin to reduce outstanding debts by returning mass quantities of product to the labels, this will likely put numerous small labels out of business. Tower's distribution arm, Bayside, served as the warehouse agent for many niche labels entire product lines. This happened in 2001, when Valley Distributors, my employers in San Francisco, went bankrupt. So many longstanding small labels were taken down then, and it appears about to happen again. Among my responsibilities, I was our rep to the northern California Towers, so I know a lot of really good people that are losing their jobs. Tower always seemed like a pretty decent place to work, the stores kept their managers for many years, always a good sign. We felt so bad for Tower, Farmboy T and I walked in a bought a CD. In person. In a store. Old school. What a sad day for music lovers.

Country Bluegrass & Blues

Landmark punk venue CBGB's is in its final week of existence. Downtown drugstores are already lamenting lost eyeliner revenues. Yesterday we found a line of baby punks sitting outside, waiting for a show. I asked them who they were waiting for. "Agnostic fucking Front, dude!" Punkers say "dude" now, apparently.

Brock Does Manhattan

Everybody say hello to Brock...aka Tank Montreal (find him on BMB yourself), a friend of the Farmboyz visiting from Canadia. Note to self: get thee to Canadia. Here's an interesting side of Tank Montreal.

Great Jones

At the risk of making a tiny, busy place even busier, I must recommend the Lower East Side/Noho joint, Great Jones Cafe, as my new favorite brunching spot. The Farmboyz have taken me there twice now, and this hole-in-the-wall rocks. Cajun-inspired menu, only about 7 items. And hot Bloody Marys. This shack seats about twenty, so c'mon and bring your jukebox money. Great jukebox: Shangri-La's, Peggy Lee, Ruth Brown!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

People! Please!

The Farmboyz and I attended the annual Mr. Eagle pageant last night. I've been to plenty of these things and I had predicted that at some point the MC would have a big-girl breakdown and start screaming at the crowd for not paying attention. I even gave a little pre-show, "People! This is your Mr. Powerhouse! Please show some respect!" As it turned out, that was precisely the moment we walked in upon at 11:45pm.

MC: People! Please! This is YOUR Mr. Eagle! Show some respect and SHUT THE FUCK UP!

It was far too crowded for us to get within sight of the stage or the contestants, so we hit the second floor, running into Little Tom, looking fly in his harness. I was about to ask if he wasn't freezing in that thing, when a nearly naked friend of his walked by. Tom said, "Oh, that's Tony's winter jockstrap. It's insulated." Later, I bailed on the Farmboyz as they had some poor young Latino boy pinned between the two of them. I stuck my hand out to say hello to the kid, "Hi, I'm Joe. I see you've met my friends, Mark and Foley."

As far as the contest, we never saw the winner. Tom had been gunning for some little bear calling himself "Osito", but he didn't win. Apparently the winner will spend his title year working on his platform of world hunger, literacy, and fisting.

Morning View - Flatiron Building

Most people like to take pictures of the Flatiron Building, one of NYC's first sky scrappers, from the front, to emphasize its uniquely thin profile, but I think the side view is pretty grand too, don't you? The Flatiron was built in 1902 and one legend is that it generated the jazz-era slang expression "23 skidoo!". The story goes that the unique wind patterns created by the building would blow up the skirts of women walking by, and that cops would disperse the crowds of men waiting on the corner of 23rd Street in the hopes of witnessing such an event, with the admonition, "23 skidoo!" Flatiron is a nickname derived from the building's iron-shaped footprint. Its real name is The Fuller Building, after American painter, George Fuller.