Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Le vie en la cite

So much to do now with so little time to do it! The holidays are really, really here and I feel six months late getting ready for them (when I was a shmata I'd have all my holiday shopping done before the 4th of July... and at wholesale!)

I'm trying to reconcile my love-hate relationship with WeHo... somedays it acts like the best place to perfect the neutron bomb --the one that leaves the architecture but wipes out all the people. Other days, the boys are lovely to look at, but that's all... don't dare try to talk to one of them if you aren't in their cadre...

I'm getting used to the idea (if one ever truly does get used to it) that I'm aging in a fetid pool of youth that lowers the bar on idiocy every season. Other days, the sun is shining and all is right with the world.

It is a time of year when normal emotions are heightened, so the best I can do is keep close to my meetings, keep my chin up, and watch how I react.

...and it may not be a misconception that the lunatics are running the asylum. this is, after all, LA..

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

More of the same

Beautiful day in WeHo... still have a fridge full of leftovers from t-day with the folks. We had a great meeting last night, and I can see nothing but more of the same on the horizon....

Sunday, November 27, 2005

We Are A Gentle Angry People

We Are a Gentle Angry People
We are a gentle angry people,
And we are singing,
Singing for our lives.
We are a land of many colors,
And we are singing,
Singing for our lives.
We are gay and straight together,
And we are singing,
Singing for our lives.
We are a peaceful, loving people,
And we are marching,
Marching for our lives....
lyrics by Holly Near, Arlo Guthrie, Ronnie Gilbert and Pete Seeger

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Night Sky Over San Luis Obispo

Wow! On the way back from downtown to Dad's house around 11 p.m., the sky overhead was a blue-black bowl filled with stars. The air was chilled; it was hard to believe that there was any night light pollution overhead. To the South, the Little Dipper and Saturn were among the stars that were crystal clear. This was a sight not to be had in LA or San Francisco. Had I forgotten how bright and numerous the stars could be?
By the time I got in the front door, I was well aware of just how cold it was outside. Oh, but the enormity of the brilliant sky was worth the shivering!
Tomorrow will be the anniversary of the assassination of Harvey Milk and George Moscone. I watch the sky for a moment in silent remembrance.

SLO Saturday

It was a great meeting; not the same as my normal Saturday morning meeting in WeHo, but that's the point. It was a real holiday meeting, plain and simple. Amazing-and then again not-how many folks remember me here from visit to visit over the years. Even more amazing (to me) is that I am afforded the very rare privilege of going to meetings literally at Ground Zero where I made that plea for deliverance 25 years ago...

The curved glass window was Dad's office at Cal Poly SLO School of Business before his retirement.

There's something about these SLO boys, I must say. That California surfer-laid back casual unassuming masculinity not overly burdened with wearing their testosterone on their sleeve is so appealling. Makes these local guys prettier than any porn stars--not that I'm into 'straight acting' men as a rule. As they say, NBFAWB (Not Bad For a White Boy; or, Nice Butt For a White Boy). It kind of ruins it for the over-affected LA guys, as goodlooking as they are, who too often are too self aware of their looks, as with Miami Beach, due to so many people being in the industry. LA does have more ethnic variety, though, as well as a diversity of looks. It is a blessing living in a city with people from all over the world; moreso than just about anywhere else. Ah, but those Miami boys... but that's a rumination for another day...

Or maybe it's just the coffee...

Sunrise in San Luis Obispo

Sunrise in San Luis Obispo is one of the most beautiful sights one can ever behold. Yesterday, the morning fog swirled around the Seven Sisters; today the sky is clear and blue. Out the window I can see Cerro San Luis and Bishop's Peak. There is still residual warmth (not as much as LA, but I'll take it) during the day; yesterday we had a light rain that bordered on mist. Quite atmospheric. From the Central Coast to Marin County, the California coast and woods are made for hiking; the meandering, meditative kind.
So far it's been a great little sojourn up to San Luis Obispo. Yet, while my little sister Courtney has a wealth of friends from her school days here, I really don't know anyone in the area. There is someone I met at the Western Round Up in San Francisco years back who lives in one of the other little towns in San Luis Obispo County; for community, though, I depend on the tightly knit local meetings. As they used to say, however, there are no meetings like the ones you first get sober in, so I know better than to fault them for not being LA. Family is the primary focus of any visit to SLO anyway. Someday, I'll get a chance to attend the one gay meeting they have here--a far cry from having three thousand meetings in LA with over three hundred gay meetings. For all its unwieldy urban sprawl, there are at least those pockets of nature and, yes, some real enjoyable urban enclaves, in and around Los Angeles.
Last weekend, I had a chance to do a little plein air sketching and photography around San Pedro, and even managed to catch the shuttle bus to Long Beach over the Vincent Thomas bridge; but the bus doesn't have regular stops on Terminal Island on the weekends, so I'll have to plan a sunrise trip down to do some 'sunrise at the harbor' drawing and photos--bearing in mind that folks are more and more nervous (and sometimes irrationally jittery) about terrorism. Given the high profile of the LA Harbor as a target, it isn't all that unexpected. More than once, I've had plainclothes or uniformed patrols watch me with varying degrees of subtlety. Just as long as I don't disappear with no one knowing where I am into the Terminal Island prison in some secret holding facility for Homeland Security, without anyone believing that I'm not a threat. My luck, I'll be at the right there at the water's edge the day something does happen (and like earthquakes, more and more people are saying 'when' it happens, and not 'if').
Not today. Today there is no hate, no worry, no terrorism, no looking over one's shoulder-- except to seek the wind chimes tinkling from damn near every front porch, or watch the birds sweep overhead or the canopy of leaves as one walks down the quiet streets.
Better get ready for the morning meeting... I really enjoy making the Melody Group whenever I can when I'm up here, and today may be my only opportunity.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

not the best of days

During a google search of my name, I came across a url from David Ehrenstein that had a photograph of Lance Robertson and myself from our days at A Different Light. Only, when I clicked on the photo, I got a message laced with profanity that told me to f*ck off... among other things.

There are a number of people with the name Mark Haile out there, I've found over the years, including the person who stole my identity and went down to the Beverly Center once and spent a few grand in my --my-- name.

Not having my image on the web doesn't bother me as much as having the crap up there linked to my name. I've dealt with the Emperor Haile Selassie jokes since kindergarten, but this is a new wrinkle.

This is what I get for not being tech savvy and having my own access to the net at home.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Thanks to Towleroad for this memory...

I remember fondly Florent on Gansevoort in Manhattan's meatpacking district. Now that was a fun place to eat! And this was way before Sex in the City. If I recall correctly, it was at one time called "the gayest restaurant in America." And there was no muscle queen-Prada boy attitude, either. Why is it my favorite place to eat is always in another city? Of course, there is Nick's, my secret diner in LA. Anyway, it was great to be reminded of Florent.

You think I'd be grateful it's nearly 90 degrees today

Liliana is leaving for Seattle. Bah humbug. I'll miss her terribly, even if it isn't the end of the world.

No winning lottery ticket. No bf. Not even a handjob. Go go boy neighbor has 'em running in and out of his apartment at all hours of the night (thanks for slamming the door, kid). And secret crush neighbor has a very active (or is it passive?) --ahem-- social life that I can hear through the wall.

I should just write a chronicle of the doings in our building. Some of them would be too unbelieveable for any editor to accept...

Weird thing happened yesterday on my way home from the market. There was an empty one of those tiny plastic baggies (right outside the WeHo Sheriff's Station!) at the bus stop. The cute --and I do mean cute-- little puppy sitting next to me discovers it, and remarks that he's been off of the stuff for 15 days now, but he's starting to go a little stir crazy because he had no idea of how to fill the void. He was fully cognizant that it was the drug that was making him want the drug; he'd blocked the phone numbers of all of his [former] using friends. But work, the gym and the four walls of his apartment weren't doing it anymore.

How do these guys find me? From San Vicente to Highland, I listened, gave him some suggestions and places he could go for help. He said that the last time he was high, he tried to call the police to have them take him away, but they couldn't be bothered. He didn't sound like he wanted a residential program, but outpatient counseling or CMA sounded like it was something he could try and be successful with. I wished him good luck and offered encouragement as he got off the bus. He might not be an addict in the strictest sense of the definition, but trying to do it on his own, without a plan or guidance, was a recipe to slide deeper into the pit that he could see coming had he not stopped when he did.

So what was my trouble again?

Everytime I see a cute guy in a meeting for the first time, he turns out to be a newcomer. Everytime I see a see a cute guy outside of a meeting, he inevitably turns out to be off limits for one reason or another. I live with the dread that I've exhausted my lifetime supply of available men.

Ah, to be that young again... but with the foreknowledge of what was to come and the means to avoid it!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

For D

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console.
To be understood as to understand.
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It Is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Docendo Discimus

I'm a little surprised that there's been so little fanfare about "Commander in Chief" on ABC tackling HIV. The scripts have been rather two dimensional up to this point (maybe we've been spoiled by "The West Wing") and Donald Sutherland --until this week-- was a villian right out of "The Perils of Pauline." They humanized him-and in so doing, there's hope for the scripts to come.

I've seen nary a word in the blogs (other than the official site for the show) commenting on the episode. Not that it isn't out there... I just haven't had time to really look. What those who have commented have failed to mention (maybe they're too young to remember) is that President Clinton had both gay and HIV positive staffers in his administration. Even Bush Sr. kept a token gay or two around (the Log Cabinettes will probably chime in with a huff as to the total head count of G & L or HIV positive appointees by current and past Republican administrations).

For my money, Anthony Azizi, who plays Vince Taylor, is way cuter than Matt Lanter, who plays the president's son Horace (and so it would seem the odds-on favorite cast member of gay boys, in part to his role on a reality show last year). I do appreciate that they put him on the high school swim team, though, so we'll have lots of Speedo scenes. Somewhere in Nebraska --and the Castro-- men and boys of all ages will be recording those scenes. (yep-one site even had the video of the pool scene!) The official blog did have one correspondent who noted the legalities around firing a person with HIV. The issue is so 80s. How soon they forget...

The best part of Azizi's role thus far was a week or two ago when he had to repeatedly remind people that he doesn't speak Arabic (his character is supposed to be a Palestinian, which I thought was enough to lay the groundwork for future plotlines concerning him).

Given the shortage of openly gay characters on primetime television this season, at least we have one who won't be a comic foil.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Respice finem

So the Catholic Church is going to vet seminarians for signs of homosexuality. Good! Let's contemplate the out-of-court settlement for the first heterosexual falsely labeled as gay to be separated from the priesthood.

Of course, if I seem a little bemused by the church's intentions, it might be because my outrage at the church's inability to differentiate between gays and child molesters or acknowledge that lifelong celibacy by even allegedly heterosexual men is, well, unnatural, is more than compensated by the hastening of the end of the Catholic Church--in North America at least. To quote Jamie Fox from Jarhead, "Boo-rah!"

The Church can continue to exist in Rome for all I care--I've no problem with them there where no one pays them much mind anyway. Pancho Villa had the right idea when he castrated priests accused of abuse, saying in his defense that they've taken a vow not to have sex anyway, so they ought not mind he was helping them resist temptation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Good day, sunshine....

The middle of November, and it's a glorious day out... the boys are probably all at the beach, seeing as how deserted the streets of WeHo are. I was so sluggish getting up, that now it wouldn't serve any purpose to head out there. By the time I got to the gay beach, everyone would have already left. Maybe after the morning meeting tomorrow, eh? Ah, Los Angeles... perhaps it got a few well-aimed zings in last night's SINC, but this is the place to be...

Last week, on Gilmore Girls, the scene between Jess and Logan was so fierce, I wanted them to end up making out together. Alas, since in real life Milo Ventimiglia is dating Alexis Bledel, slight chance of a menage a trois there.

Wish I'd remembered to bookmark the site where someone had an animation of Jake Gyllenhaal shaking his butt... I wasn't that into him before, but with his buffed torso from the impending Jarhead everywhere around town and all over the tube (unlike the extremely chaste and demure ads for Brokeback Mountain... hmmm; what could be behind that, I wonder?) it's kinda hard not to get, well, hard thinkin' about him. If only most of the real life Marines were as built--or articulate.

At the Brewery Artwalk last weekend (part of what has kept me away from the computer) there was a video/mixed media artist whose studio was almost entirely given over to his sentiments on the war in Iraq. One piece featured an everchanging montage of portraits of actual military casualties, with their hometowns and ages. They're all so fucking young. Too young--most were 18 to 27. I left the studio choked up and in need of air. We need something like that for December 1 (World's AIDS Day) to remind ourselves of another group of lost souls --especially since people seem to be oblivious to the actual human cost of HIV. I'm glad young people don't have address books full of dead people in them, but the complacency is unnerving for those of us who were surrounded by the epidemic in the 80s and 90s. We don't need to relive the loss of more than 20 9/11s so much as to make sure people will someday have the luxury of having to ask what life was like then while paying tribute to the very real lives cut short. By the same token, I get a deep-rooted resentment everytime I see one of the ads for the frou frou benefits of the Hollywood cognoscenti for any of the countless children with AIDS organizations. There is an unspoken subtext to these events, that these were the innocent victims of the epidemic, as opposed to those other people, who brought it on themselves somehow. Actually, it pisses me off. Yeah, many of the same folks go to all the local events supporting local HIV organizations, but the demonization factor--even if unmentioned--is louder than organizers of such soirees are aware.

If I hadn't read that excerpt from Andrew Sullivan's blog about the impending end of a gay community, I might not be as pissed. I was always polite when I spoke to him when I hosted his book signings back in the day, but sometimes that boy is off his rocker. He usually has a decent premise for his essays, yet he's such a self-hating homosexual who won't acknowledge it --with disproportionate influence among the straight literati-- that his Vichy-esque betrayal of his own people to go unchallenged is unfathomable. Betty Berzon stood up once at one of his readings, and gave him Hell--in a civilized, appropriate, respectful manner, of course. Michelangelo Signorile was the only person who took him on with any regularity. The way those two sparred I once joked that in a Hollywood movie they'd end up lovers by the final reel. Nobody pulls the goddamn mike on Andrew these days, that I see, with the same degree of public profile as ten years ago. The cap of it is, that if Sullivan got what he wanted, he should've been booted out of the country, since he championed the very people that made it illegal for him to have entered the US (much less become a US citizen) in the first place. Nobody every called him on that. He's one person I suppose I wouldn't mind our sending back to England in a pine box. Frankly, I don't care how he leaves, as long as he just goes away.

Okay, got that out of my system. It is far too beautiful of a day to get riled up over the likes of him. Off I go, to enjoy what there still is of the daylight out there. Guess I made up for lost time with this post, eh?

Monday, November 07, 2005

be sure to vote tomorrow!

The long season of political ads is about to come to a close... thank God. They've more than made up for any productions lost to Canada with the number of hit pieces for Ah-nold's initiatives assailing me on every channel. Someone at WB should have at least had the courtesy not to bombard Sex In The City with his smug commercials. But I guess with all the layoffs over at Warner Bros, they couldn't afford to turn down any paying gig, the whores.

The voter turn out is projected to be quite low tomorrow... and it might rain on top of that. I've never missed an election yet, though, and I'm not about to miss this one. It would be sweeter if they'd started the 'recall Arnold' movement in time to qualify for his f'ing special election. I'm so waiting for the day when someone gets their hand on his citizenship application and hopefully finds some inexecusable irregularity. Too bad he can't be deported for adultery. Every time something comes up about him, he manages to get it buried. I wouldn't be surprised if one of the old queens he used to prostitute himself with when he was a teenager is some powerful fucker in Malibu Colony who makes a convenvient call now and then on his behalf. The thought of him and Joe Weider together is enough to make me puke. But not out of the realm of possibility...

Maybe when he's forced out of political life, and divorces Maria, he can go bake to Austria with his tail between his legs and open an antique shop where he'll dispense steroids under the counter.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that all of the preceeding rant about Ah-nold is all unsubstantiated hearsay (and wishful thinking). There exists the very real probability that none of it is true, nor will come to pass. Now, don't sue me, because my assets add up to a pile of broken furniture and clothes that wouldn't fit the governator anyway.

Other than that, it has been a beautiful day.... it was cloudy earlier, but the sun came out before Jean picked me up to go for coffee at the Starbucks at Westmount Beach. Here it is November, and still plenty of eye candy to enjoy on a sunny afternoon. Now that's a far more pleasant thought to ruminate on...

Friday, November 04, 2005

To see Nicholas Snow's Halloween photos....


So another Friday afternoon rolls around, with only a tentative plan for the weekend, other than to go to the "Best of Old Time AA" meeting tonight and the "Survivors" meeting tomorrow morning.

At this morning's meeting, with over a hundred-plus in attendance, I had the most time of anyone in the room (again) yet I sometimes feel rather anonymous there. To some degree, that's a good thing; that is, when it helps me keep my ego in check and be just another member among members, as responsible for putting away my coffee cup and chair as anyone else. At tonight's meeting, there will be at least four or five people with more time than me out of close to 200... a comforting feeling, to have some folks ahead of me. I do, keeping things in perspective, try to welcome the newcomers as is part of the responsibility of having time in the program. There's no denying, however, that there are some people in WeHo who just brush me aside aside as though I'm invisible. That's what I get for not writing screenplays, eh? As the saying goes, those that matter don't care, and those that care don't matter. It's just weird, is all, having time. There's no warning in advance of what it will be like. Blam! All of a sudden, you're one of the old farts instead of in the middle of the pack. It probably means I shouldn't wistfully check out the 20-somethings anymore... after all, I'm gonna be 40-something in less than two weeks. What? You thought I'd put my real age here in case anyone ever does read my blathering?

Yet, Mike insisted on giving me a ride in his Ford Bronco after the meeting this morning, only to find out that the Pearl Art Store wasn't open until 10:00, so he dropped me off at the Tar-jay at La Brea & Santa Monica. It was a hoot the way he roared around LA city streets as though we were climbing over unpaved hills. Maybe because we were in his big ol' truck looking down at the little compacts I felt safer than I would've had we been driving that way in a smaller car... The half hour or so of conversation we had over any number of inane and unrelated subjects was well worth the price of admission. It reminded me just how much human interaction I've not been engaged in of late. Yesterday, I ran into Nicholas on the bus, and we discussed, among other topics, the pros and cons of our increasingly online community and its' impact on the gay ghetto. On his recommendation, I viewed the many Halloween pictures he'd posted onto his site. I'm sorry to say that I did not see the cute lil' fireman he'd photographed while on the Boulevard Monday night. Cuter than any Dalmation, for sure! Not as cute as my favorite pick of the night in the Coco Cafe tee shirt advertising Cuban sandwiches (was it a real place, or one of those faux vintage shirts?) ...damn, now I'm in the mood for some plantanos, moros, and a cuban batido. Maybe I'll treat myself on my birthday with a long overdue visit to Versailles. Not exactly the trip to Vegas I'd wanted to go on, but a little bit o' Miami in L.A.... without the humidity. This is just the time of year SoBe would be jumpin', too... Guess I'll have to settle for WeHo., and remind myself of all the poor kids who can't even get here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I'm Mad as Hell, and I'm Not Going to Take it Anymore

I have to really be judicious about reading about the religious right in the news with my breakfast. I'm apt to forget I'm a pacifist one of these days. What ever possessed us (as a society) to have this misguided sense of fairness in allowing Donald Wildmon and Lou Sheldon and their ilk free reign to wreak havok ...and enrich themselves in the process--at our expense--has to be subject to some kind of dialogue. It's one thing to allow free speech and tolerance in an open society, but another to let people dismiss entire groups of people as 'evil' or not worth living --or to actually call for physical harm in some instances.

There have been plenty of times I've had the satisfaction of watching them hang themselves from their own petard, but not nearly often (or quick) enough, thank you very much.

I just read how the effects of the religious right on science education are causing the United States to fall behind in the tech world. It isn't hard to imagine a world in the not too distant future where American women have to wear burkas as the Muslim world progresses into the future.

Dad had noted that while he was in the Kingdom, the Saudis were actively planning for a future after the last barrel of oil would be pumped out of the ground and they would be major players on the world economic scene. Would Europe or Asia shed a tear if the late, great American empire were to sink back into itself, leaving them to dictate the terms of the world's markets?

Just wait'll I get my coffee... then I'll really get started. Not exactly the meditative state I planned to be in before speaking tonight.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Day After

To look at the street today, one would never guess that a mere twelve hours ago it was packed with nearly half a million people. The heart of Boystown was our very own Potsdamer Platz, full of life and gaiety, and alive with the promise of forbidden pleasures, just around the next corner...

Now, SaMo Blvd has been tidied up and sanitized for your protection; no hint of the night before remaining. It's as if when the revelers groggily came to this morning, they wanted nothing to remind them of their excesses of the night before...

The Halloween Carnaval was great fun, even for all the breeders. It isn't all of the straights that have changed the festivities--after all, my brother and sister were there with their friends. It was the presence of those teenagers who were more than a little rough around the edges, and by all appearances spoiling for a little mayhem. Each year, the homogenization and heterosexualization of Halloween continues. And the moreso it becomes, the more the gay boys stay away. It wouldn't be hard to imagine the day when all the hets arrive to ogle and discover that the gays have all gone elsewhere en masse.

Not nearly as many topical costumes this year... and the circuit boys stayed away in droves in comparision to years past. The warm weather allowed for the comfortable baring of skin--of which there was precious little. Oh well, maybe next year. The pendulum could always swing back the other way.

One sweet little puppy wore a kissing booth... I'll bet he more than paid for next month's rent from the proceeds. The hottest puppy wasn't in costume at all, but wearing jeans and a tee shirt from some cafe advertising Cuban sandwiches. I'll let you think up your own pun to go with that! He was adorable, for sure. I sure as heck couldn't afford to keep him in the style to which I'm sure he'd like to become accustomed to.

Marlon was dazzling as an Inca costume. He's one of the sweetest little studpuppies in the WeHo meetings. I wonder if he met up with the conquistador of his dreams last night....

For some reason, I'm as dehydrated as all get-out. As nice as a day as it is, I've a mind to get a Red Bull, go to the market for dinner, and just head right on home. After staying out last night, I'm looking forward to watching the Gilmore Girls and my fix of Sex in the City.

Tomorrow, I have to speak at the meditation meeting at the Cafe Tropical, and I only have the barest idea what I'm going to say. I'm still mourning the loss of my new moleskin notebook, which I'd barely used yet. The first thing I put in it, as a matter of fact, was an excerpt from Anne Lamott's "Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith" that I thought a propos for a meditation meeting. As divine inspiration would have it, I just found a corresponding excerpt from Natalie Goldberg's new book. My take on meditation is probably a little unorthodox-- but hey, the meetings at the Cafe Tropical are nothing if not a little unorthodox.

I need my Red Bull, and I need it now!

Next Saturday, I'll make a point of going down to the Pearl Art Store and getting myself another moleskin... maybe that will undo the spell I'm under.