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June 2016

WestWorld on HBO

WestWorldoriginalGood morning, welcome to Tuesday. The second day of summer. Someone on Facebook yesterday said something about it being the first day of summer and from here on out, 'winter is coming". I'm pretty sure he was joking, making a"Game of Thrones" reference, but let's not jump ahead too quickly!

Anyway, when I was a kid, the movie "WestWorld" scared me - Disney animatronics gone crazy! (and Yul Brenner was the perfect casting choice for this).

But, over time, when I'd see bits and pieces of it on TV or online, I would sort of shrug and kind of laugh - it became hokey and kind of silly.

Enter the new HBO series based on the original movie - and it's got scares galore - and that's just the trailer. Check this out - it debuts in October and should fill that vacuum left by the soon to end "Orphan Black" (fifth and final season next spring 2017).


"Jack" Things

YoungJackAltenburgBThis Sunday, June 19 is Father's Day and many of my friends are now starting to lose their parents.

But I lost my father, Jack, to cancer in 1981 when I was 17.

As we were close when I was young, his death has, so far, haunted me all my adult life ...and I suspect it always will.

However, I take great JOY in knowing that I inherited many of his best traits and thankfully not too many of his 'bad' ones.  :)

Father's Day hasn't really meant much to me since he passed.  I prefer to mark the day he died (Oct 22)  with a day of doing "Jack" things - doing things that we would have done if he were still alive - like going to a museum and/or eating chocolate ice cream. Simple pleasures, sure, but a way to sort of share the day with him one day a year.

So this weekend, if your father is still alive, be sure to reach out to him and spend the day doing what he wants to do.

But, if your father isn't alive, consider spending the day doing "Jack" things, i.e. things that your own father would like to do if it were just a normal Sunday in the middle of June. That might be going fishing, that might be fine dining, or that may just be laying in a hammock in the backyard. Trust me, doing your own version of "Jack" things will make you feel closer to your dad. It has, at least, for me.

To the left is a picture of a picture of my dad that hung in his bedroom throughout my childhood. I can't remember how old he is, but he sure is young and full of life, ready to explore the world. That's how I like to think of him.



EarthAfter a harrowing week, I spent part of today simply sitting.

Sure, I have a million things to do - but what I really needed, even if just for a minute, was to just sit. And feel the Earth breathe.

There will be more things to get mad about. More things to be offended and hurt by. There will be more tears, and, thankfully, more laughter.

There will be more sunrises and sunsets, hellos and goodbyes. There will be jobs, roommates, and loved ones.

But today, even if just for a minute, what I really needed was Peace.

A simple silence.

I recommend it to all of you, especially those of us who have spent the last few days, justifiably upset and trying to find some sense in all of this madness. I can't promise that it will change the world, but it might start to change yours. Peace.





I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again

Orlando1As an out gay man, I know that the world has never been a truly safe place.

I grew up knowing that you could kill an out elected official and claim that it was spongey snack treats that made you do it rather than your own irrational homophobia.

I grew up working for a religious camp as a counselor and director for four summers in the mid 80s. After I'd figured myself out and told a couple friends in confidence, in the off season the ED wrote me a letter saying that it wasn't in their best interests to have me return for a fifth summer. I never did find out who had betrayed me. It's probably good that I never do.

I grew up with a family that told me that they'd never speak to me again because I  am so selfish that I chose to be gay.  You'll notice that no one ever considers that being an asshole is a choice. I was born gay, what's their excuse?

But I also grew up knowing that Stonewall had happened. That a group of people who had been arrested by the police for years simply for being alive had finally had enough and had pushed back -- hard.

I grew up experiencing the first time someone on TV was coming out on their show and in real life. And I grew up seeing her career blossom.

And, most recently, I grew up seeing the legalization of Marriage between same sex couples. I never ever thought I'd see that in my lifetime.

But even though I have lived in (mostly) gay enclaves in major cities,  I'm not going to say that I have felt safe all of my life. Because I haven't.

Orlando2I have lived in fear of being harassed, attacked, brutalized, shot, stabbed, raped ...  because all of those things actually happen in the world.

I have worried and looked over my shoulder when I have kissed a man or even held hands with a man in public.

I have been told to "get over it" when I have complained that I don't see gay people in movies, TV, in ads, on billboards, etc. and I have been told that we are "in everyone's face" once we got a teeny tiny percent of the total visibility in the world.

And,  there was that time I was in a car for Aid for AIDS in the LA Pride Parade and I saw numerous protestors encroaching in on us; I really did fear for my life.

But what would have been worse would have to have taken my grandmother's advice - to squirrel myself away in a small town and become a teacher in order to "get away" away from being gay. She said, if I did that, that "your family will love you again".

Yes, it would have been 'safe' but would it have been right? No.

And so during this Pride season here in New York, I may be tempted to be worried, to look over my shoulder, to fear for my life.... but I cannot and will not live in fear.

Like always, I will be out and about and, while some of the veneer of last years Marriage Equality victory is now worn off as we wake up to the cold shower of reality that no, not everyone is OK with the gay, I will stand out and proud with my brothers and sisters.

If you are inconsolably sad, that's OK. I am too. The loss of these beautiful young people is staggering and will not be soon forgotten.

But if you are so angry that you want to hit something, well, find Weezer and hit her (she'll put up a fight so watch out) :)

However, I invite each of us to transcend the sadness and the anger - and take action. That may mean donating money to gay causes, that may mean volunteering your time to gay causes, but what you can do right now, and very easily, is to write to your elected officials and demand better gun regulations. BTW just in case you need to know this - people aren't on their way to your house to take your guns away. They (well, WE) only want it to Orlando3be harder to get a gun than it is to get a gallon of milk. You can get them both at WalMart and only one can kill you (lactose intolerance notwithstanding). Click here to go to a HuffPo piece which gives you all the tools you need to start writing.

Finally, here's a link to a Buzzfeed article that gives a little set of factoids about each person who was murdered at Pulse.

ETA: The LA Times has put together an article on each of the victims, and you can read it by clicking here.

It is not, of course, the whole picture of a person's life, but at least we can get a nugget of these beautiful people that we have lost.





Lemons and The Three Options

LEMONSWhen Life gives you lemons, you have three options: 

ONE: MAKE LEMONADE - make the best of it, do what you can, stay the course, dig your heels in, turn that frown upside down, etc.

TWO: THROW THE LEMONS AT THOSE THAT GAVE THEM TO YOU IN THE FIRST PLACE - rail, argue, fight, be angry, give 'em back what they sent your way.

THREE: MAKE COCKTAILS - on the surface, I suppose this is the same as "make lemonade" but if that's what you see, then clearly you don't know the difference between lemonade and a fabulous cocktail. :) Mix, stir, shake, sip, sit back and relax and know that tomorrow is another day.

 Have a great weekend!

Facing the Mountain

MountainI thought I'd catch up with you all on what's going on over here at West 102nd St. Well, truth to tell, not too much. I've had some great interviews over the past few weeks but nothing's caught fire yet but I'm keeping the faith. (Really, what else can I do?) I still have a super wonderful bf (whom I won't embarrass by going on and on about him.. but I could) - and a new roommate has moved in who is really terrific.

This time out of the work world has ultimately, I think, been pretty good for me. I was in need of a short break to attend to things in my world (including, but not limited to, the death of my friend Joe, which I wrote about in April). I miss my former co-workers something fierce but that time and place are gone but at least I am still pals with them and that definitely counts for something!

So I'm rapidly approaching a decision about a creative endeavor and I have to admit that it's scaring the carp out of me to even consider doing it. But I think that I just might. I don't mean to be cryptic - it's not me being a good marketer (although I think I do OK... those of you who know my nightlife work probably can speak to that better than I since I'm too close to it) but it's me Facing the Monolith and wondering if I can scale it ....

Do you face the mountain even if you don't know that you can reach the top... or do you wait (even longer than I already have) until maybe you might be kind of sort of more ready for it?? (Admittedly I may be mixing my metaphors here. I mean, you REALLY don't start climbing Everest without the right equipment... but I assume you know I'm talking metaphorically here... but maybe that works anyway... )

The time feels to be right now but I don't know. I don't have all the tools yet ....and yet ....that's never really stopped me before LOL (again, as my friends aware of my former work in nightlife can certainly attest). I have mostly dove into things and well, they've (mostly) turned out alright. Like the time I drove a stick shift to San Francisco. I really didn't know how to operate a stick shift and I didn't really know anyone in San Fran nor did I have a job there. I just went. I climbed the mountain...... Like the time I walked in to the Mosinee Times with my best pal Woody and we somehow talked our way into a weekly comic strip.... Like the time I threw that first pool party together, like the time I started producing a weekly bingo night, like the time I started working in corporate America at a Japanese bank.......

Friendly advice and gentle kicks in the pants welcome (and appreciated) below in the comments section and/or on my Facebook page (Sound of Music memes welcome)


DaisyHello all  - it's been awhile since I wrote in this space and, so, thought I'd just post a note to say hello. Really. That's it. Just "hello".  Not "hope you're having a great summer" (because, geez, how lame) or "friends forever" (because this is not your high school annual) but just 'hello'. Like Lionel Ritchie. Like Adele. Like the Mormon guys. Like as in "... my name is..."

Maybe there'll be more tomorrow than just that, but for now: "hello".