Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm backing away from the Damien Rice for a moment to be thankful for having the absolute best friends and blog buddies anyone could have. I am as grateful as one can be for all the support I've received...and for Madonna's new cd.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Yet Another Shoe Drops

Yesterday my heart broke into a million pieces. Hopefully music still saves our lives.

yesterday i got so old
i felt like i could die
yesterday i got so old
it made me want to cry
go on go on
just walk away
go on go on
your choice is made
go on go on
and disappear
go on go on
away from here
and i know i was wrong
when i said it was true
that it couldn't be me and be her
inbetween without you
without you
yesterday i got so scared
i shivered like a child
yesterday away from you
it froze me deep inside
come back come back
don't walk away
come back come back
come back today
come back come back
why can't you see?
come back come back
come back to me --- "In Between Days" by The Cure

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

So Not Eligible For VH-1's "Best Week Ever"

We all know that life is full of ups and downs and that the downs allow us to appreciate the ups. The problem is that when you’re going through a down period, it’s just so hard to see the up period down the road – and when you’ve had a week like I have, it’s just not fucking possible to see past survival mode.

Saturday, October 22 – I noticed that I missed several calls from the office. I didn’t return them, because, well it’s Saturday. The phone rang again, and I answered it, with a purposely annoyed tone. Christian from work asks me what happened to Gary (Gary is my boss), and I ask him what he’s talking about. He tells me that he heard that he just heard that Gary’s handyman found him collapsed on the floor at his house, and that he’s now in the hospital. I call Gary’s cell – no answer. I call Mariano, the handyman. He tells me that the hospital just called him, and that Gary se murio. Gary died. He fucking died. He was 47 years old, and he just died. I had to go to the house and assure the police that Mariano did indeed work for Gary, and that it was ok for him to have been in the house. Gary’s parents were on vacation in Boston. His mother called me to find out what was happening. I had to explain, as best I could, to his mother what happened.

Sunday, October 23 – I spent most of the day walking around numbly, and not preparing for the hurricane that’s coming.

Monday, October 24 – At 6 in the morning the roar of the hurricane woke us up. The windows were shaking and buckling and the power went out. From our window, I could see huge trees being ripped to shreds and satellite dishes and roof tiles smashing into the building next door. I realized that this hurricane was like nothing I had ever seen before. We sat nervously for hours listening to the howl and destruction outside. After it passed, Rodrigo and I took a walk around the neighborhood to assess the damage. Fucking unreal. Nearly every tree was just shredded, huge cement utility poles were just lying in the street and a van had been flipped upside down onto a car. We took a turn onto Euclid Avenue to check on my car. I had parked away from all trees and signs, just in case. What I had not calculated was the roof of the synagogue on the corner flying at 100 mph into the side of my car. The entire side of my car was completely smashed in. It looks like two buffalos rammed into it full force. The nicest touch, though, has to be the roofing tar all over my car. Um, yeah.

Tuesday, October 25 – It’s pretty amazing how quickly society breaks down without electricity or water. The whole scene turned into Mad Max Beyond South Beach – no lights, downed power lines and trees blocking all the roads and sidewalks and tribes of unshowered people just roaming around with flashlights. I forgot how dark it can be at night. The stars were beautiful. Cell phone batteries died.

Wednesday, October 26 – After living on potato chips and bananas for 2 days, we are deeply grateful that the cafĂ© where I used to work (and Rodrigo still works) has food. I’m still trying to get a footing on what the fuck just happened. Everyone was just migrating around from friend’s apartment to friend’s apartment looking for something, anything, to do.

Thursday, October 27 – We got water again, but of course it’s cold. Cold showers suck ass, but I would have taken a dip in the Antarctic Sea at that point. Thursday night we got power back. So thankful that I live in the tourist area.

Friday, October 28 – I spent most of the day having “off the record” conversations with Gary’s family, friends and clients. It seems that Gary didn’t have a will, or even life insurance, even though he had literally millions of dollars worth of real estate deals in process. I have never really posted much about work, but as it turns out, I am the one who has all the information that everyone needs. I have all the passwords and account information. I’m the one who knew just about everything about his life. So, now I am the one being placed squarely in the middle of this entire mess – though I no longer have a job. Gary was the company. Without Gary, there is no company. Without Gary, I am completely unemployed. But, of course, that doesn’t matter at all to all the folks who want to “protect their interests.”

Saturday, October 29 – My biological mother, whom I just met a few years ago and have a still uncomfortable relationship with, comes to visit to celebrate her birthday.

Sunday, October 30 – I attended the memorial services for Gary. It didn’t offer the closure I had hoped it would. There was no viewing, because the morgue didn’t have power and they had to cremate his body. Um yeah.

Monday, October 31 – Rodrigo and friends dressed up for Halloween and we walked around Lincoln Road, watching the drag queens frolic – it is their night after all. I’ve rarely felt so miserable. Afterwards, Rodrigo, my partner of nearly 4 years, and who’s been weirdly distant tells me that he feels like things between us aren’t so good right now. Our conversation is interrupted by friends coming over.

I know things get always get better, and blah blah blah. But, fuck, I’m so not in a good place right now. I usually am a pretty chipper guy. Really. Ask anyone.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Just In Time For The Holidays!

The Moo-Cow Nativity Set

Thanks to Valerie over at Forward Ho! for a giving me something to do at work - and thanks to Moobert and the Crickets for being > Tab!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Ummm...

Fuck.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Evolution Of Religion

When I was a much, much younger homo-nerd in search of answers to all the world’s mysteries, I stumbled upon a little paperback with an intriguing cover in the back of a used bookstore. I must have spent two hours sitting cross-legged in between the stacks before I was able to pull myself away long enough to cough up $1.50 and catch the bus home with my new treasure. I’m pretty sure that no book has had more influence on my world view than The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris – not so much because it filled me with radically new ideas about evolution and sociology – but more because it solidified and expounded on my own observations.

For those with a significantly lower nerd quotient than is called for here, Desmond Morris is a socio-biologist, meaning that his work explores the area of the human condition where genetics and environment overlap. The Naked Ape written in 1967 (and still making fundamentalists gnash their primate teeth), looks at the behavior and societal structure, Evos of Homo Sapiens as products of evolution. Basically, how our social interactions and our experience of emotions – everything about being human – are products of our genetic inheritance. Humans weren’t the fastest, the strongest or the most agile. Our evolutionary gifts were abstract thought, group communication and group cooperation.

I just finished my annual re-reading Morris’ scriptures, and I just can’t stop thinking about his thoughts on the function of religion from a socio-evolutionary standpoint. Check this out…

Before we evolved into co-operative hunters, we must have lived in social groups of the type seen today in other species of apes and monkeys. There, in typical cases, each group is dominated by a single male. He is the boss, the overlord, and every member of the group has to appease him or suffer the consequences. He is also the most active in protecting the group from outside hazards and in settling squabbles between lesser members. The whole life of a member of such a group revolves around the dominant animal. His all-powerful role gives him a god-like status. Turning now to our immediate ancestors, it is clear that, with the growth of the co-operative spirit so vital for successful group hunting, the application of the dominant individual’s authority had to be severely limited if he was to retain the active, as opposed to passive, loyalty of the other group members. They had to want to help him instead of simply fear him. He had to become more ‘one of them.’ The old-style monkey tyrant had to go, and in his place there arose a more tolerant, more co-operative naked ape leader. This step was essential for the new type of ‘mutual aid’ organization that was evolving, but it gave rise to a problem…From our ancient background there remained a need for an all-powerful figure who could keep the group under control, and the vacancy was filled by the invention of a god. The influence of the invented god-figure could then operate as a force additional to the now more restricted influence of the group leader.

At first sight, it is surprising that religion has been so successful, but its extreme potency is simply a measure of the strength of our fundamental biological tendency, inherited directly from our monkey and ape ancestors, to submit ourselves to an all-powerful, dominant member of the group
.

Cool stuff to think about as we enter the new Dark Ages of fundamentalism and religious fanaticism, huh?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Like Sunlight Inside My Mind

I Walk So Tall
Ascending I Stand So High
Earth Below Me
Revolving Above The Sky
I Feel No Fear
To Be Here Is Oh So Fine
Shining Brightly
Like Sunlight Inside My Mind

- Lyrics From “Move Any Mountain” by The Shamen (1991)


Sitting in the back seat of Amy’s Volvo station wagon with Jody, on the way downtown to Club Pegasus – it started to come on. I felt shaky, confused and lightheaded. I wondered if I had made a mistake. As my consciousness started to swirl, I leaned over and put my head on Jody’s leg. I soon found myself giggling, deeply amused by how nice it felt to knead his thigh. Jody was significantly less amused.

We parked in the garage next to Pegasus. I stepped out of the car and tried to explain to Amy and Jody how surreal everything looked. I thought I probably shouldn’t go into the club, until I figured out where this was going. But I was supposed to meet Erik, Mitchell and Glenn inside and they were the only ones who had been where I was at that moment. When the door opened and the music flowed over me, I immediately knew I would never be the same.

Until that night, my life had been defined by words like abandonment, abuse, rejection, shyness and depression. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that my childhood was, let’s say, somewhat unorthodox. By the end of high school, I felt like the boy in the bubble. I felt disconnected from everything and everyone, as if I were just observing life and not participating. I had a few really close friends, but years of dealing with my circumstances left me perfectly numb. Music was like an air tube to my bubble. It allowed me to breathe and connected me in some distant way to our existence.

The numbness went away that first night. For the first time ever, I felt a part of the world around me. It’s a bit like a dream, but I remember introducing myself to just about everyone in the club. I remember Mitchell putting me on his shoulders on the dancefloor, and shoving marshmallows in my mouth in the bathroom. I remember how “Elevation” by Xpansions and “Move Any Mountain” by the Shamen seemed to be portals to some universal rhythmic truth inside of me.

I also remember telling my roommate Ted, in the car, on the way home, about the abuse I had endured as a kid. I had never told anyone before, because I was too embarrassed and ashamed. Listening to Deee-Lite on the tape player, Ted listened while I took the first steps toward healing. Ecstasy allowed me to look inside - painlessly. It allowed me to confront my past – without confrontation. It allowed me to share my feelings with others, without shame or humiliation.

Two weeks after that first night, Mitchell had his S.E.A.R.S. (Sell Everything And Run Swiftly) sale and left Pittsburgh for San Francisco. A few weeks after that, he called me at 4 in the morning from a payphone at a rave called the Whoopi Ball. He, and 100 of his new best friends, convinced me to drop everything and head out for the second Summer of Love. I moved to San Francisco in March of 1992, as the rave scene was getting set to explode. My first rave was called Toon Town – UFOs Are Real. The rave scene and Ecstasy became a totally spiritual experience for me. I explored myself and my connection to others while the bass pumped all night long, and I learned to integrate important aspects of the experience into my everyday life. To this day, I feel the deepest possible gratitude for having been able to experience the magic of that time and place.

I am sure that Ecstasy saved my life. I’ve done Ecstasy well over a hundred times. Let’s see. 52 weeks in a year….carry the 4…okay…probably closer to two hundred times. I’ve done Acid, Mushrooms, Pot, Crystal Meth, Cocaine, GHB, MDA, 2CB, Alcohol, Downers and Special K. I developed good relationships with some of them, bad relationships with some and no relationships with others. I’ve also finished a Master’s degree in Sociology, excelled at a “respectable” job, volunteered my time to teach kids at the Museum of Science and maintained deep friendships for decades. I vote in every election, donate money to charities and sometimes pick up litter off the street.

I don’t think that everyone should do Ecstasy. I don’t think everyone should experiment with or use drugs at all. I know some people who feel that their Ecstasy use caused fairly serious bouts of depression afterwards. I know a lot of people who developed very bad relationships with some drugs and suffered greatly with addiction problems. I, myself, went to a very dark place with crystal meth, and have been fighting nicotine addiction for years.

So, should I be in prison? According to the Drug War proponents, I am a criminal. I am a bad person. I am an immoral person. There are people serving long prison sentences for doing exactly what I did. Is that really a moral solution?


This is the last installment of my War on Drugs trilogy. We will now return to our regularly scheduled blogging. For further information...check out MAPS, November Coalition and DanceSafe.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Just Say...What?

For anyone who might have doubted the racist nature of America's War on Drugs...William Bennett, who served as the "drug czar" for the George Bush Sr. administration from 1989-1990 is refusing to apologize for racist remarks he made on a syndicated radio talk show. On Wednesday, Bennett told a caller: "If you wanted to reduce crime, you could - if that were your sole purpose - you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossibly ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down."

CNN reports that as of last night, Bennett was defending his remarks. Bennett also served Ronald Reagan's administration as the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1981-1985, and as the secretary of education from 1985-1988.

Yes, these are the kind of people who have made their living directing policy that imprisons people for ingesting government unapproved substances.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I Asked You Not To Tell Me That, 99!


I feel like a part of me is now gone. Goodbye 86.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

My Side Of The Fence

Okay, back to my side of the fence with my real views on drug prohibition. Without writing a dissertation, I want to discuss how The War on Drugs is irrational, unconstitutional, racist and immoral. (You asked for it, Vegas!).

Drug prohibition is completely irrational. It simply doesn’t make sense to spend $40 billion dollars per year on surveillance, arrests, incarcerations and bureaucratic drug warrior salaries while starving social programs that rehabilitate people with addiction problems. It is an absolute absurdity that we allow alcohol and nicotine, two of the most dangerous and addictive of all drugs, and we imprison users of marijuana and ecstasy. It’s also irrational to think that the War on Drugs keeps our children and neighborhoods safer. In 1933, when the prohibition of alcohol ceased, violent crime decreased sharply and immediately. This is because the illegality (i.e. scarceness) of alcohol made it a more valuable commodity, thereby creating an extremely lucrative black market. Just as alcohol prohibition gave us Al Capone and the Mafia, today’s drug war employs inner city gangs, international crime and terrorism organizations and corrupt police and politicians.

The War on Drugs is unconstitutional. The paranoia instigated by the drug warriors, has led to societal approval of major violations of our nation’s founding principles. Unconstitutional searches and seizures, wiretaps, entrapments and confiscations have been embraced as legitimate law-enforcement tools. During Reagan’s crusade against drugs in the 1980s, urine drug testing in the workplace became standard. Now, many Americans don’t even question this humiliating and invasive test of company loyalty. In 2003, Senator Joseph Biden (who happens to be a possible contender for the Democrats’ nominee for President in 2008), pushed the RAVE (Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy) Act through both houses of Congress. The RAVE Act was hidden in a legislative bill dealing with child abduction (the Amber Alert Bill), and passed with bi-partisan support. The RAVE Act essentially allows the government to prosecute business owners, should any of their customers use or sell illegal drugs on their property or at their event – even if the owners have taken steps to stop such activity. Benjamin Franklin once said something like, “those who would trade freedom for security, deserve neither freedom nor security.”

The War on Drugs is, and has always been, a war against minorities. The first anti-drug law passed in the United States was passed when, in 1875, the city of San Francisco (ironically enough) passed a law that made smoking opium illegal. Middle class, Euro-Americans had been taking opium in a liquid form for some time, but when local newspapers started running reports of white women being lured into Chinese opium dens and turned into sexual slaves, legislative action was taken. Not surprisingly, the use of liquid opium continued to be legal…but smoking opium, as the Chinese immigrants did, was outlawed. Cocaine was made illegal in 1914, because lawmakers believed testimony from Dr. Christopher Koch who said that “most of the attacks upon the white women of the South are the direct result of a cocaine-crazed Negro brain.” In 1937, marijuana became illegal as fears that its use was spreading from Mexicans to white American youths, and that something needed to be done. Currently, though most drug offenders are European-American, African-Americans are sent to state prisons on drug charges at 13 times the rate of European-Americans. Much of this racial disparity is due to sentencing guidelines in which possession of five grams of crack nets the same five-year mandatory minimum sentence as the sale of 500 grams of powder cocaine.

That’s enough drug war rant for tonight. I’m tired and fresh out of crack. The last part of this trilogy will address the immorality of the War on Drugs, from a personal experience perspective.
I know you’re waiting with baited breath...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hofzinser's Blogger Challenge - Round Two

Better late than never, right?A couple of weeks ago Hof pronounced yet another great Blogger Challenge. He warned that this one was a “doozy,” and well, that was a bit understated. Briefly stated the challenge was to “Think of an issue you believe in strongly. An issue that means a lot to you which also has many opponents… Create a post that argues for the other side. Don't be coy, don't be silly and don't be snarky. Take the challenge and really present an argument against your side in the issue.” Hof offered a long list of possible topics. I wrestled around with a few of them, and decided that “the other side” of most of the ones I was interested in could simply be written as “because Jesus said so.” I ended up choosing to argue in support of the War on Drugs, which in reality, I am passionately against. It was really difficult to keep the OkaSnark under wraps, but here goes...

The War on Drugs is a worthy and necessary government policy in order to protect children and support family stability, lower crime rates, and promote a moral American lifestyle. Our efforts to rid our society of recreational drugs should be increased – not abandoned. The current policy has helped reduce overall drug abuse. Without penalties for selling and using illegal substances, drug use would increase and become normalized. As is the case in the Netherlands, where drug possession has been decriminalized and marijuana is sold openly in coffee shops.

Illegal drugs destabilize families and the economy. Daily news reports clearly show the damage that drug abuse inflicts on children and families. More often than not, drugs are the cause of domestic violence, child abuse and child neglect. Drug use also produces irresponsible behavior, which takes a toll both on families and the economy. Money spent on drugs is money not spent on housing, food and other necessities. Also, countless production hours are lost in the workplace because of absences and the general lack of motivation that comes with drug use. Lower production in the workplace damages the overall economy and society.

The government has a responsibility to protect its citizens, even from their own actions, and promote a moral society. Illegal drugs, such as marijuana and ecstasy, are dangerous and morally wrong. Mind-altering drugs distort reality and control is lost while intoxicated, often leading to violence and immoral sexual behavior. Drugs destroy the ability to judge right from wrong and exercise self-control.

Contrary to what drug proponents would have us believe, drug legalization would dramatically increase the crime rate. Anti-drug laws prevent many people from using harmful drugs, and penalties should remain in place as deterrence. A proper fear of authority is healthy for society. Studies have shown that countries with strong anti-drug laws have lower rates of drug abuse and crime, while countries that have adopted lax attitudes toward drug use have seen major increases in drug addiction and crime.

The American public has decided that the consequences of drug legalization would be unacceptable. Stiff penalties and international efforts are necessary to express society’s disapproval. The War on Drugs is being won, and we must stay the course.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Week After

My heart has been too heavy and my mind too muddled to write with any semblance of organization. I am so deeply sad for the people of the Gulf Coast who were left behind, and those whose lives will never, ever be the same again. It’s been over a week now and the reality of the anguish and suffering are just now displacing the initial shock of the images of a government obsessed with wealth and power abandoning its most vulnerable people.

“Sir, you aren't just telling me you just learned that the folks at the convention center didn't have food and water until today, are you? You had no idea they were completely cut off?” – Paula Zahn, CNN News Anchor interviewing FEMA’s head, Michael Brown (September 1, 2005).

“The federal government did not even know about the convention center people until today – Michael Brown answering Paula Zahn, (September 1, 2005).

“Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.” – George W. Bush,
complimenting FEMA chief Mike Brown on his agency's response to Hurricane Katrina, (September 2, 2005).

“I think it puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years, If we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?” – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, (September 2, 2005).

“Our family is willing to help your family by coming to get you and letting you stay with us in our Pittsburgh home. We can accommodate one or two adults and up to four young children.” – Just one of hundreds of similar ads on Craigslist offering help (September 2, 2005).

“In America we do not abandon our fellow citizens in their hour of need.” – George W. Bush, (September 3, 2005).

“I open the television there's people still there waiting to be rescued and for me it's not acceptable. I know there's reasons for it. I'm sorry to say I'm being rude but I don't want to hear those reasons. You know, some people are stealing and they're making a big deal out of it. Oh, they're stealing 20 pair of jeans or they're stealing television sets. Who cares? They're not going to go too far with it. Maybe those people are so poor, some of the people who do that they're so poor they've never touched anything in their lives. Let them touch those things for once. The main thing right now it's not the people who are stealing. It's the people who are left there and they're watching helicopters flying over their heads and they're praying. How come it's so easy to send planes in another country to kill everyone in a second, to destroy lives?” – Celine Dion, (September 3, 2005). I'll (probably) never have another snarky thing to say about Celine.

“The palettes of food and water that have just been dropped at selected landing zones in the downtown area of New Orleans. It’s an outrage because all of those elements existed before people died for lack of them. There was water, there was food, and there were choppers to drop both. Why no one was able to combine them in an air drop is a cruel and criminal mystery of this dark chapter in our recent history. The words “failure of imagination” come to mind. The concept of an air drop of supplies was one we apparently introduced to the director of FEMA during a live interview on Nightly News on Thursday evening.” – Brian Williams, NBC News Anchor, (September 5, 2005).

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Today's USA

Sampled from the Onion

Okapi Visuals

The lair has grown to accomodate a photo blog. http://www.okapivisuals.blogspot.com

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Day After

Thursday, 10:18 am. – The boss is in the Dominican Republic, so Cyrus is basking in passive-aggressive tardiness to work (for the third time this week). Jody calls to see if Cyrus is actually going to work because of the newly-formed minimal hurricane heading towards Palm Beach that might cause some gusty breezes and light flooding in Miami. Wise Cyrus declares that “these people are always so dramatic. So we get a little rain? Who cares?”

Thursday, 2:00 pm. – Cyrus and Olga (friend and co-worker) decide to stop making business oriented phone calls, because everyone seems to have closed up shop. Melodramatic realtors. Cyrus and Olga volley lunch ideas. Steve’s Pizza? Ethiopian? Indian? Okay, Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet it is. The sky is all swirly and sheets of rain batter the restaurant while Cyrus and Olga laugh at how stupid everyone is when it comes to sub-tropical weather patterns.

Thursday, 4:37 pm. – Bzhoooom. The power goes out at the office. Both Cyrus and Olga note the violent chop in the bay and the powerful gusts that make driving across the causeway back to our barrier island apartments slightly challenging. Hmm.

Thursday, 6:00 pm. – Cyrus has no trouble finding parking. It’s a little creepy. Cyrus heads to Ocean Drive where Cyrus’ boyfriend Rodrigo works to check in and give him a rain poncho to walk home in. There is some laughter, at Mariah’s expense, about how upset she must be that her pre-MTV video music awards glitter yacht party had to be moved to an undisclosed location because of the weather. Then, Cyrus heads home.

Thursday, 6:15 pm. – Looking like an Anderson Cooper exclusive, Cyrus dodges flying objects and pelting rain as he makes his way home. He starts to wonder if he has underestimated this weather event, just a little.

Thursday, 10:00 pm. – Olga, Brandie, Rodrigo and Cyrus are hunkered down with board games and popcorn. Some crazy shit is going down outside. Cyrus’ friend Stimpy in Atlanta is a total natural disaster enthusiast and calls intermittently with updates, because of course, there is no internet access or television. He lets Cyrus and company know that they’ve got several more hours of 80 mph winds and that a new expressway extension has collapsed. Cyrus and Olga have slight scuffle over who is the bigger dumbass.

Friday, 1:30 am. – Olga, Rodrigo and Cyrus venture outside to see if everything’s still there. Almost all the roads are blocked with toppled trees and street signs. A huge banyan tree has been literally blown apart with its branches strewn up and down 14th Street. Olga notices a lone mourning dove sitting quietly in a clump of banyan branch in the middle of the street. They move the branch to the sidewalk with the dove intact. The group celebrates their animal rescue ant then tries to walk onto the beach to see what the ocean looks like, but are unable as they receive the most thorough, and agonizing beach sand exfoliant ever. The wind shreds their rain ponchos to bits as they scamper back across downed palm trees, flying newspaper boxes and miscellaneous missiles.

Friday 2:00 am. – Nearly home, they see a glowing light behind an apartment building and hear a noise that, together with the visual display, indicates that either a UFO has landed in the Art Deco district, or a huge transformer is blowing up on top of a neighbor’s building. They decide it’s probably best to get out of the standing water and battering rain while the power lines are coming down.

Friday 1:00 pm. – Cyrus walks around snapping some shots as the ‘hood as cleanup crews work feverishly to make sure that Mariah, and MTV, don’t hold this against us. Photos of the destruction will be posted soon, for my disaster junky friends
.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Behind The Wheel

I know everyone thinks that traffic in their neck of the woods is the worst in the nation and that drivers in their city are the most awful. But, really, as anyone who has been to Miami can attest, we really do have the most preposterous obstacle course highways in North America. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just given up on getting to my destination, and have turned around and gone home, to spend another hour looking for parking. For example – I-95. It begins somewhere near the Canadian border and it’s possible to drive down I-95 from Maine through New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and down through Georgia to Jacksonville. As you enter the Miami area, all rules, courtesies and manners are to be thrown out the window. No, really. Your life depends on it. You’ve got to be all adrenaline and dilated pupils to make it from Aventura to Miami Beach alive. You will need to maneuver around grandmas sitting on phone books to see over the steering wheel while driving 40mph in the fast lanes, Haitian tap tap drivers, lost and frightened German tourists and street moto-racers living out their “2 Fast, 2 Furious” fantasies while weaving in and out at 140mph. I can deal with all of them. But, I am totally out of patience with morons meandering their way, from one lane to one three lanes over, while talking on their cell phones and accelerating and decelerating intermittently and without any outside stimulus. Can we please just change the HOV lanes (which seemed like a good idea) into lanes strictly reserved for self-important idiots on cell phones, so the rest of us can get back to driving aggressively and recklessly?

Friday, August 19, 2005

To: Cindy in Crawford

Dear Cindy,

I just wanted to let you know that it’s working. We can feel your pain, and they are afraid. They’ve done everything in their power, to camouflage the painful reality of their misdeeds and miscalculations. They banned media coverage of dead sons and daughters coming home, so as not to upset a public already immersed in runaway brides and missing white, middle-class co-eds in Aruba. They are afraid that we will see the truth in a flag-draped coffin. They arrogantly refuse to meet with you, and the world, to explain where the weapons of mass destruction are, where Osama bin Laden is or where America’s dignity is as Halliburton profits in death. They won’t meet with you because they are afraid. They are afraid that we will see the grief, anger and goodness in the heart of a woman who lost her child for nothing. They are afraid of a woman who has nothing left to lose.

The evening before last, I joined over a hundred others in candlelit solidarity with you, Cindy. Over 1000 similar gatherings happened all across the nation. Millions of us wish we could take away your pain, and millions of us are encouraged by your bravery and determination to stand alongside a road in Texas, and demand accountability from the most powerful man in the world. Millions of us are waking up, with terrible resolve, and they know it. And they are afraid.

With much love,

Cyrus

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I Am Not A Patriot

That’s right. I said it. I am not a patriot. Given the rah rah rah nationalism that has swept the land, it would probably be in my best interest to change my identity and move to Papua New Guinea, but first let me explain where I’m coming from.

I don’t hate the United States, although I do deeply abhor the current leadership. I love living where I live. I am grateful that I am able to enjoy the freedoms I enjoy, and I am thankful to (for the moment) have the freedom to fight for those that I am not yet afforded. I love Hollywood, Disney World and Starbucks. But, I have never been able to understand the whole “us” against “them” thing that so many people, American and otherwise, hold so tightly in their fists. I love, passionately, the diversity of cultures and histories on our planet, but histories and cultures almost never are well represented by the government sponsored borders that are somehow supposed to clearly define them. I don’t know that we should totally do away with national maps, but, we should definitely, as people, be more aware of the way borders are used to limit our experiences by those in power. Multi-national (read as: American) corporations figured all of this out some time ago, but the average Joe is still hoping that “we” will kick “their” asses.

Certainly, pride in one’s own accomplishments is a good thing. Patriotism is false pride. It’s not dissimilar to, for example, a Miami Dolphins fanatic who lives out accomplishments vicariously through a team that somehow, purportedly, represents the citizenry of Miami. If the Dolphins make it to the Super Bowl, against the Pittsburgh Steelers, then, people who happen to live their lives within the artificial borders of the city of Pittsburgh become the enemy to Dolphins fans. If the Dolphins win, this is supposed to prove, somehow that “we” are better than “they.” Nationalistic pride just feeds the “us” against “them” mentality that tolerates racism, xenophobia, homophobia and sexism. Complete nonsense.

Last week I visited Pittsburgh, where I grew up. Pittsburgh and Miami are nearly as different as two cities can be. But, really one is not better than the other, they’re just different. Miami has sub-tropical weather, beautiful beaches, amazing sunsets, and a Latin American rhythm. Pittsburgh has rolling hills, picturesque city parks, world-class museums and an Eastern European heritage. They are both great places, filled with wonderful people and opportunities.

Recently, my friend Ann, who used to live here in Miami Beach and now lives in Connecticut, sent me, several other friends and family members the following e-mail entitled FUNNY!:

You gotta love Robin Williams...Leave it to Robin Williams to come up with the perfect plan ..
what we need now is for our UN Ambassador to stand up and repeat this
message. Robin William's plan.(Hard to argue with this logic!)

I see a lot of people yelling for peace but I have not heard
of a plan for peace. So, here's one plan.

1.) The US will apologize to the world for our "interference"
in their affairs, past & present. You know, Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo,
Noriega, Milosevic and the rest of those 'good ole boys,' We will never
"interfere" again.

2.) We will withdraw our troops from all over the world,
starting with Germany, South Korea and the Philippines. They don't want us
there. We would station troops at our borders. No one sneaking through holes
in the fence.

3.) All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs
together and leave. We'll give them a freetrip home. After 90 days the
remainder will be gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of who or
where they are. France would welcome them.

4.) All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited
to 90 days unless given a special permit. No one from a terrorist nation
would be allowed in. If you don't like it there, change it yourself and
don't hide here. Asylum would never be available to anyone. We don't need
any more cab drivers or 7-11 cashiers.

5.) No foreign "students" over age 21. The older ones are the
bombers. If they don't attend classes, they get a "D" and it's back home
baby.

6.) The US will make a strong effort to become self-sufficient
energy wise. This will include developing nonpolluting sources of energy but
will require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness. The
caribou will have to cope for a while.

7.) Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries $10 a
barrel for their oil. If they don't like it, we go some place else. They can
go somewhere else to sell their production. (About a week of the wells
filling up the storage sites would be enough.)

8.) If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the
world, we will not "interfere." They can pray to Allah or whomever, for
seeds, rain, cement or whatever they need. Besides most of what we give them
is stolen or given to the army. The people who need it most get very little,
if anything.

9.) Ship the UN Headquarters to an isolated island some place.
We don't need the spies and fair weather friends here. Besides, the building
would make a good homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.

10.) All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That
way, no one can call us "Ugly Americans" any longer. The Language we speak
is ENGLISH.....learn it...or LEAVE...Now, isn't that a winner of a plan.

"The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying 'Give me your poor,
your tired, your huddled masses. She's got a baseball bat and she's yelling,
'You want a piece of me?'"

~~~If you agree with the above forward it to friend...

If not, and I would be amazed, DELETE it !!!!!

I suppose being immersed in American suburbia has deadened her sense of right and wrong so much that she didn't think that many on the receiving end of this garbage would be offended. I know she's not a bad person. She's actually an incredibly compassionate and loving human being. It just scares me to think that this kind of hate in the name of country has become so normalized that she didn't even think twice about it. My partner of nearly four years, from Argentina, was "illegal" for the first two years of our relationship. We went through, and are still going through, hell to make sure that we're allowed to continue building a life together here. She knows this, and still she thought I'd get a chuckle out of this. Instead she got a "reply all" fuck you from another friend. Unfortunately, she thought that was the offensive part of the story.


Oh yeah, I didn't think Robin Williams would say something so ridiculous either...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Evolution Is Being Televised

For the past few days I’ve been completely holed up watching the evolution literally being televised. The past year hasn’t been exactly stellar for the homo-affectionally inclined. With the rise of the American Taliban, we’ve just been losing one battle after another, with state after state eagerly legislating gay Americans into the less-than-human category, and everyone from the Pope to Mel Gibson hell-bent on banishing us to hell. Conversations about constructing a gay Underground Railroad to Canada became eerily serious, and HIV and crystal meth stepped up their attacks on our communities. On top of all of this, Sex and the City ended leaving the entire gay community feeling like they had just lost most of their best friends, and Will & Grace entered into the Roseanne show zone (this is when a ground-breakingly funny sitcom outlives its expiration date and continues its run two, sometimes even three, seasons longer than it should).

Last week, gay America took a giant leap forward with the introduction of Logo, the first readily available all-gay cable channel. The programming includes gay-themed movies, documentaries, original series, comedy shows and music concerts. Even many of the commercials are gay-themed (the Orbitz commercials are kind of shockingly gay). I knew that Logo was coming some time ago, but I had no idea that it would have such an impact. I have seen countless gay-themed movies and plays, read a ton of gay books and listened to incalculable hours of gay music. I’ve even been to two Pet Shops Boys concerts – which are, hands down, the absolute gayest events on Earth. And yet, to have a television channel with 24 hours a day programming for gay people just so unbelievably cool! It’s so fucking exciting to think that ordinary, straight, middle-American channel surfers with little, or no, exposure to “the queers” might stumble into understanding us just a little better and hating us just a little less. Or, maybe not. Maybe it’ll just be fun for us – and
A*.

Last night, we watched Torch Song Trilogy with some friends. After nearly 20 years, Torch Song still stands unsurpassed as the most excellent gay film ever. Ever. I have seen it at least 20 times and it still makes me grateful that my life time coincides with the Torch Song Trilogy era. It stars Harvey Fierstein, Matthew Broderick and Anne Bancroft, and seriously, if you care about anyone who’s gay, you owe it to your relationship with them to see this movie.

After more than a year of crippling disappointments, Logo reignites hope and reenergizes the gay soul. Welcome to our culture.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Nuts And Bolts Of It


A short while back, Mr. Hof was inspired by Mr. Sideways to raise the blogger challenge flag and the following gauntlet was thrown:

You did not have perfect parents (none of us do/did). They set your sights 'off' on a few things. Blog out one of the sights you now, as an adult, realize your parents set wrong.


After much deliberation, some hesitation and a threat from A* , I have accepted the challenge.


The first thing I can remember is the excitement of seeing a school of little fish swimming along the shore. It’s hazy, but I remember throwing my little pink sand bucket in the water, and the fish scattered and disappeared. Linda went into the surf and got my bucket back. I threw it into the surf again. I also remember lots of talk about “the motel.” Somehow, in my three year old mind, I surmised that a motel must be an animal. I can still remember my confusion over what a motel must look like. We entered a room and I immediately began searching for a motel. I looked everywhere – even under the bed. They asked me what I was looking for, and I told them that I was looking for the motel. I remember a huge burst of laughter. I was three and we were on vacation in Panama City. It was the vacation that was always referred to as “the trip we took to Florida right after we got you.”

Four years ago, a series of coincidences and a little determination led me to Madeira Beach on the West Coast of Florida to meet my biological mother for the first time since I was two years old. All those years of wondering came crashing upon me in a literal split second when she opened the door. The first few minutes of our new relationship were a frenzied Polaroid snapshot series of muddled emotion. I was thoroughly stunned by the surrealism of the moment. For whatever reason, I hadn’t expected it to be so, um, heavy.

I saw baby and toddler pictures of myself for the first time. I saw pictures of my father and my grandparents for the first time. I learned that my ancestors were Jewish, German and Irish. I was told that my abandonment, at two years old, was really just a bit of a mix-up – a mistake. My parents met in Pittsburgh, fell in love, got married and had me. Apparently, when I was two, they decided that they had made a mistake and got divorced. My mother and my maternal grandparents always spent summers in Pittsburgh and winters in Miami Beach (yeah, kind of weird that I ended up back in Miami Beach, huh?). My mother chose to leave me with my father and move back home to Florida. One day, my father made the decision not to pick me up from the babysitter – ever. The babysitter, Peggy, never called the authorities and just sort of gave me to her daughter, Mary Jane, in what she thought would be a temporary foster situation. At this point, I’m told, I stopped speaking and spent much of my day hiding in closets and under furniture. Mary Jane became concerned when, after a few months, her two-year-old daughter, Kathy, began to mimic my behaviors. She asked her cousins, Ruth and Edward, if they would be able to provide a foster home. In the driveway, they made the decision to take me in. A few weeks later, we were vacationing in the Redneck Riviera, and Linda, who is 13 years older than me, became my sister and saved my little pink sand bucket from floating out to sea.

I grew up calling Ruth and Edward mom and dad. I have no recollection of life before them, and they never hid what they knew of my story. When I was entering middle school, it was discovered that I had no social security number or birth certificate, and, as a remedy, just before my twelfth birthday I was legally adopted. My new parents were well into their fifties, and not particularly nurturing personalities. Edward was a miserable alcoholic, who beat the fuck out of me regularly. I would often “forget” my gym uniform for school so I could keep the welts on my legs hidden. Ruth was the kind of person who was never happy unless she was complaining about something. My sister Linda has a heart of gold and I love her as much as any little brother can love a big sister, but she got married and moved out when I was just six and I was left to fend for myself. As a kid, I spent most of my time alone in the woods behind the house. I mapped out the entire forest, watched a litter of foxes grow, and listened for fleeting scarlet tanagers and raucous blue jays. I developed an intense relationship with Nature that still comforts me to my core.

By fourteen I was escaping to my friend Erik’s house as much as possible. His parents were divorced and his dad let us do pretty much whatever we wanted. We were complete delinquents, and as Erik’s sidekick, I felt a part of something for the first time ever. We shoplifted cassette tapes, U2 posters and Jams® shorts (it was 1984, what do you want?) and sold them at school for money for cigarettes and pot. By graduation, I was living in my car – a Ford Pinto no less, and having the time of my life.

It’s difficult to pinpoint a sight that my parents set wrong. Fuck, it’s difficult for me to define parents. My sights weren’t set wrong. They weren’t even presented to me. As a result of my childhood, I have a deep, vertigo-inducing well of anger and shame. The sides are so steep that I can’t really look into it for fear of falling in. Fortunately, I am also equipped with a bottomless supply of empathy and compassion.

The unusual circumstances of my personal history have always placed me firmly in the enchanted position of outsider looking in, and that’s not always a bad thing. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to accept full responsibility for every accomplishment in life. If I don’t do another fucking thing, but sit on the couch and watch Brady Bunch re-runs for the rest of my life, I’ve beaten the odds. And that’s kinda cool.

I’m still trying to make sense of it all, but I’m getting there. I’ll be in Pittsburgh in two weeks visiting Ruth and Linda and my beautiful eight-year-old niece, Nicole.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The 100th Monkey

Has anyone noticed that our society's obsession with technological progress is utterly, and wholly, taking the joy out of life and devouring our souls? It's so apparent, and we keep marching, like lemmings, toward a very near future totally sanitized of all culture and connection.

I have always felt a sort of odd nostalgia for the future, a kind of retro-futurism deep in my soul. I spent a remarkable amount of my younger life daydreaming of a future sculpted by the mid-century imaginations of Frank Lloyd Wright, Oscar Niemeyer and Walt Disney. I couldn't wait for progress and technology to move us all into a sleekly designed, organically balanced, ultimately connected tomorrowland, just as the past had promised.

For a very short time, in the very early '90s, the future was in San Francisco. The whole city seemed connected, 100th monkey-style, to a cyberdelic, entheogenic, utopian tomorrow. A lost boy's daydream come true.

But now, daydreams of the future have turned into nightmares of anxiety. The promise of progress has failed us, but we won't admit it. The information age has become the isolation age, as we cower more and more behind our technology, avoiding real contact because we're just too tired. Too tired from programming our cell phones, palm pilots and iPods. Everyone is angry. All the time. All the time, and still we need more time. Our society is overwhelmed with easily retrieved and meaningless information. Art and culture have become just as easily retrieved and meaningless, and it doesn't matter much because no one has time to think about expression anyway.

Knowing what I know now, I've let go of my nostalgia for the future. Maybe the future happened in the 1970s. Technology had evolved to the point of making life easy enough, without obscuring its own purpose. Connection with others was easier and more natural, while art and culture were earned and vital. Blackberrys, e-mails and TiVo have not brought any joy to our lives (ok, maybe TiVo), but still we cling to them as if they somehow really create more time. Technology has become maddeningly counterproductive with no future in sight.



Friday, May 06, 2005

The Day The Glamour Died

I have officially declared South Beach dead. That's right kids, it's not in a lull...it's over. How do I know? Because I am over it. I, who have been so happy here for the past 10 or so years. I, who inspired (read as: coerced) several core friends to move here because the South Beach lifestyle was so relaxingly outrageous. I, who stayed through every incarnation / exploitation of the Beach from the days of Drag Queens and Old Yettas to the Eurotrash Invasion to the current South Beach culture of Bling, Fake Boobs, and Bouncing Cars.

Since my move here in 1994, South Beach has been really good to me. I came here as a refugee raver from San Francisco fleeing a peace, love and unity dream that, somewhere along the way, morphed into a terrible, dark crystal meth nightmare. South Beach was never an aspiration. But, when the club anthems changed from "Everybody's Free" to "Save Us," I luckily had two amazing friends from back home in Pittsburgh who were there to save me. Jason and Jody were preparing to move from Pittsburgh to South Beach, when Jason came to visit me in San Francisco. I was living is squalor in a lovely neighborhood called "The Tenderloin," sleeping and eating only Monday through Thursday(except for the occasional Cordoruoy City Tuesday night), and had become totally comfortable with my impending self-destruction. Jason guilted me into relocating to South Beach with him and Jody, and luckily, somehow in my amphetamine haze I made the right choice to go. I will be forever grateful to Jason and Jody for literally saving my life.

It was so hard to adjust, at first. Coming from grungy San Francisco with a raver mentality and a new wave heritage, it was hard to see myself ever being a part of this John Waters meets Celia Cruz oasis at the tip of civilization filled with models, body boys and their admirers. A really severe 6 month case of post-crystal depression and isolation certainly didn't help warm me up to my new home either. So I left. I went back to drawing board - Pittsburgh. I can still remember the day late autumn, in Pittsburgh, when I was able to feel again. I noticed the beauty of the changing leaves in the crisp fall air. A few months later, I found my way back to the Beach - this time as a sojouner, not a refugee.

I carved out a little niche in South Beach and re-discovered me. I deepened my years long friendships with my Pittsburgh-gone-South friends and made great new friends from all over the world. I learned to rollerblade, speak Spanish and Kreyol and I went skydiving for the first time. I learned how to ignore that voice that said "you can't do anything," "you're too damaged," "you're not good enough." I took a class just for kicks at Miami-Dade Community College and ended up with a Master's Degree in Sociology from FIU.

One of my favorite things about South Beach has always been it's constantly evolving culture. When I first moved here, Bridgette Buttercup and Paragon were symbols of the kitschy frivolity and slightly seedy air of the Beach. You could ride your bike down Lincoln Road at midnight and not pass another person, except for the occasional x-ed out body boy lookin' for love in all the wrong places. You could see Madonna dancing at a club (and I did, believe it or not). You could pay $450 a month for a cool art deco apartment.

In the later '90s, Lincoln Road had a facelift and condo towers started spring up. Every trust fund kid from Europe and New York with a penchant for models and cocaine headed for the "billion dollar sandbar." The club scene got crazy, a huge movie theatre was built and the Travel Channel became obsessed with Mango's. I still liked it though. It seemed to have the best of all worlds. It had all the spectacle of New York and LA, without that "rat race" feeling. It had the warmth and sexiness of Latino culture without the oppressive military regime that so often comes with it. It believed in classic American rugged individualism without holding on to American stuffiness. Then, Versace was killed.

In 2001, Argentina's economic crisis sent a huge wave of immigrants to South Beach. Armed with European sensibilities and South American know-how, they added a new flavor to the scene, and I made a lot of super new friends. South Beach has been good to me.

But, now the South Beach that I grew with is gone. The greed of the developers did finally prevail over the creativity of the early SoBe denizens. Skyrocketing rents have doused the last flickers of innovative living. The streets between the multi-million dollar condos are filled with Lamorghinis, prostitutes and vomit, and not one fucking parking space. The nights of Queers and Non-Queers of all shades dancing together, united by a string of fierce house divas, have been replaced by crunk thugs, Lil' Jon and misogynistic reggaeton. Most of the Queers who turned every weekend into an ecstasy-fueled celebration succumbed to the crystal epidemic that moved east from California and hit South Beach hard just before September 11th. Some moved away, some died and some are still sitting alone behind tightly closed curtains, cruising the internet and going nowhere.

South Beach has lost its sense of humor. Early on, New York gave us its velvet ropes, fashion elitism and a sarcastic edge. But, from the beginning, SoBe culture had a sense of tongue-in-cheek playfulness and giddiness that just wasn't possible in gritty New York. Apparently, it's hard to laugh when the sidewalks are covered in human and pet waste and the sun is blocked by enormous empty condo towers filled only with investment. The glamour has finally died.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Just Another Cliche Un-American

Your Inner European is French!



Smart and sophisticated.
You have the best of everything - at least, *you* think so.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Crisco Disco Posted by Hello

Blogger Campfire Games

Blogger-Extraordinairess A** passed this little get-to-know-your-blogger-friends-better-campfire-slash-pajama-party game along to me. Apparently, these questions originated deep in the blogiverse, so it seems only right that I should attempt to keep it going.

Alright my Cyrian friend your questions are as follows:

1) If you lost every single material possession what would you miss the most?
My photos. Good photography allows us to re-connect neural pathways that may have, for one reason or another, been incinerated. And that's nice. Close runner-up: The clock that I bought on the street in San Francisco made out of a '70s disco record album cover with a hairy man's arm grabbing a fistfull of "disco".
2) What is the most important life lesson you have learned thus far?
Anything can be snorted...but it doesn't always feel good.
3) You get to have 5 minutes with the "Powers Above" what would you talk about?
I'd ask to see the power point presentation called "The Big Bang and You."
4) If a book was written entirely about your life what would it be called and why?
Nibbled By An Okapi .... a personalized version of Touched By An Angel.
5) (James Lipton Alert!)Cyrus ... (dramatic pause) what sound or noise do you love?
The sounds of the cloud forest in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Especially the deeply haunting call of a three-wattled bellbird. And yes, I am completely comfortable with my level of eco-nerdiness.

And now....Totally copied and pasted from A**'s blog:

Your turn! (if you want)I'll offer to interview the first three people to respond to this post just:
1. Leave me a comment saying *interview me*
2. I will respond by asking you five questions here on "9th Circle" in the comments section. They will be different questions than the ones above. Oh Goddess let's hope they are as good as these..
3. Then you update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
4. If you want, include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. Then you ask 5 questions! :-)

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Crib Notes From The High Rollin' Okapi

I have finally pretty much caught up with the train wreck at work caused by our company conference in Las Vegas last week. I've been all over this country of ours, but Vegas has always eluded my adventures. To be honest, Sin City was never really that high on my list of necessary destinations. This was certainly not due to its sinfulness, per se, but more due to my perception of the way the sins are packaged. I think I must have been rebelling against a perceived commodification of sin, which, all too often dilutes the fun.

I stand corrected. Vegas fucking rocks. I was there officially for an unreal estate conference, I didn't get drunk and I gambled really minimally....and I still had a BLAST! I'm still kind of reeling from the sensory overload of it all, but here are some highlights...

* The Blue Man Group at the Luxor. This was possibly the coolest show I've ever seen. It is my opinion that truly great post-modern art can be defined by its ability simultaneously touch the primal and the futuristic, its abililty to provoke both complex introspective thought and childish giggles, and its ability to be interactive. Blue Man epitomizes great post-modern art.

* Cirque du Soleil Zumanity at New York New York. For a good time, definitely call Zumanity. This adults-only version of Cirque du Soleil was beautiful, funny and completely entertaining. Of course, for my jaded acquaintances, the man on man jail scene, the woman on woman water acrobatics scene and the high-flying dwarf man on leggy naked woman scene wouldn't raise one cynical eyebrow...but it's sure fun to watch the straight Kentucky tourists squirm.

* The rides on top of the Stratosphere tower. At the top of the 120-some story tower are three cute little relaxing rides called the High Roller, the Big Shot and the X-Scream. Yeah, um, if you just want to take a load off and relax a bit after a long day of walking from casino to casino, then, um, this is the place to be. The Big Shot is exceptionally relaxing if you don't have a lot of leisure time.

* Pai Gow Mania. It apparently takes a four year degree in Asian gambling to understand the rules to this Chinese poker, but it takes only a sense of the absurd to enjoy watching the craziness.

* I also took a little time out to check out the Stardust Casino. As it turns out, in my continuing archaeological dig of my genetic history, back in the day, Uncle Milton Jaffe was a co-owner of this lovely Las Vegas landmark that now features the Wayne Newton Theatre. I took a picture.

I took lots of pictures.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

This One's For La Drea

It's nearly identical to my own personal list....minus Ellen....I can't get enough of her, period. The 50 Most Loathsome People of 2004.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Music To Live By

It's come to my attention as of late, that I have an apparently annoying habit of making repeated claims that "no really, this is like my favorite song ever..." So, as difficult as it is...I'm making an official top ten songs of my life. Songs have been chosen according to cosmic brilliance, relevance to my life and/or ability to assemble neurons in my hypothalamus into MDMA fractal-like formations. If I ever have that movie made, the soundtrack would look exactly as follows.

1. Papua New Guinea - The Future Sound Of London. Picture it. Woodside, California. 1992. A log cabin, a redwood forest, a sauna full of ravers, glitter falling from the full moon and this...the most beautiful song ever made.

2. Stella - Jam & Spoon. Again, it was 1992. I had no idea where I was going in life and I didn't care. This masterpiece sounds like the sun coming up over the Nevada desert opening the day to a million possibilities. Just hold me. Love me. Hold me. Love me.

3. Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division. The ethereal brilliance of this song can never be matched. It still sends chills up my arm.

4. Move Your Body - Xpansions. The theme song to the night that changed my life. The genius that was created by a 303.

5. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out - The Smiths. A few months ago, I had the honor of hearing this one live as Morrissey's encore. I was like a 14 year old girl at a Beatles concert. The most inspired lyric ever...hands down..."and in a darkened underpass, I thought oh god my chance has come at last. And then a strange fear gripped me and I just couldn't ask."

6. It's Alright - Pet Shop Boys. The summer of '89 was so much fun. This song makes me so happy that I nearly cry everytime I hear it.

7. Perfect Kiss - New Order. An electronic orchestra handed straight down from the heavens.

8. Psychotropic - Hypnosis. Full-frontal blissout. Man those escalators were fun...but who were those fuzzy people?

9. Running Up That Hill - Kate Bush. It conjures romantic feelings of heather uplands and druidic landscapes. What a wonderful voice.

10.Voodoo Ray - A Guy Called Gerald. Vocal samples from an entheogenic phantom calling from a far away nebula. This track is an absolute landmark.

So there. I did it. It's possibly out of my system now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Blessed With $46,000 After Using Prayer Rug!

So after a long day of self-evaluation at my new job in the unreal estate industry and visualizations of myself as Annette Benning's character in American Beauty, I come home to a mailbox stuffed full of bills and an envelope festively decorated with bible quotes and testimonials from Jesus' satisfied customers. Normally I would just toss it into the trash without even opening it, but I've been doing the personal trainer thing three times a week and my behavior has been, uh, er, unpredictable. And, so, enticed by the brilliant marketing of "These next 24 important hours are crucial to you. Timing is important to God." I took a deep breath and dove in. Having not been raised as the church-going type (thank god), and therefore not regularly exposed to crucifiction art, I nearly screamed when I pulled out a paper church prayer rug with a picture of Jesus complete with a crown of thorns, closed eyes and a small tear running down his nose. At the bottom of the paper prayer rug are instructions..."Look into Jesus' Eyes you will see they are closed. But as you continue to look you will see His eyes opening and looking back into your eyes. Then go and be alone and kneel on this Rug of Faith or touch it to both knees. The please check your needs on our letter to you. Please return this Prayer Rug. Do not keep it." At this point I am mystified...and wondering how did they draw this portrait in such a way that Jesus' eyes do actually open if you stare at it long enough? I'm also wondering what the Jesus capitalization protocol is since Eyes is capitalized after the name Jesus, but not capitalized after His. Hmm. Then I mosey over to the section where I am supposed to checkmark my prayer needs...and the choices abound...

( ) My soul.
( ) My Health.
( ) A Family Member's Health.
( ) To Stop A Bad Habit
( ) A Home To Call My Own.
( ) A New Car.
( ) A Money Blessing.
( ) Pray For God to bless me with this amount of money: $______
( ) Enclosed is my see gift to God's work of $_______

Does anyone else feel uncomfortable here? Then I move on to the testimonials from the clients of Saint Matthew's Church. C.D. from Pennsylvania writes "Dear St. Matthew's: God blessed me with over $5,000!" Mrs. T.F. from Texas writes "Our Lord...has blessed us with a big 6 room house!" E.C.S. from North Carolina thanked St. Matthew's because he/she "received $10,000 in a financial blessing!"

Religion is creepy. I wish I lived in a Blue State...with palm trees.