Thursday, April 27, 2006

Camp

When I was a kid (under 10), my Mom's oldest sister, Aunt Susie, and Susie's husband, Uncle Bill, had a summer getaway along a river. We called it, simply, "Camp". It was no more than a trailer from the 1950's with a huge screened in front porch that ran the length of the mobile home, doubling its size. It only had two bedrooms, but it slept like 20-25 people every weekend. There were three fold-out couches on the porch, a double bed in one bedroom, twin beds in another bedroom, a bunk bed and another fold-out couch in what would be the living room, and more than a few hammocks outside. The porch was painted seafoam green, which came to be called "Camp green". Even now, when I see the colour, it instantly takes me back 30 years.

Every weekend in the summer, my parents would pack us up and we would drive the 45-minute trip, through back, winding roads. Sometimes, the drive seemed to take forever, but there were landmarkers along the way that I used to teach myself distance: the turn at the ballistics lab, the cherry orchard, the T-intersection, the Cone Dip, the fruit stand, the large hump in the road, the old Mill, the dilapidated bridge, and Adams' Farm. One by one, these landmarks brought me closer to Camp, and then one by one took me back home again. Sometimes we would spend a full week, sometimes just a weekend. But it started before Memorial Day and lasted until Labor Day - every summer until I was 10. After over 20 years of fun-filled summers, Susie and Bill decided it was too much to take care of. So they sold it and built a pool in their backyard.

Camp sat on several acres of land. The first day at Camp was pretty much just maintenance and upkeep, at least for the adults (we kids just played the entire time). There was A LOT of grass-cutting. And painting. And repairs. And creativity. Especially creativity. The well-house had been converted to a draft house; which means when Camp finally got decent water that didn't need to be boiled before we could drink it every week, they covered over the well and placed a big fridge in the building and created a draft beer system. Only thing is, you had to stand on a two-by-four when you pulled the draft otherwise you risked electrocution. But I could pull an expert draft by the time I was 7.

Days were filled with swimming in the river, playing horseshoes, games, puzzles, and pretty much anything that required imagination. There was no telephone or television at Camp - you made your own fun. Between my cousins and siblings, there were about 15 kids there on any given weekend. Looking back I sometimes wonder how we filled our days there, but we must have done it successfully cause every weekend, we wanted to go back.

Every dinner was a cook-out of sorts and we all gathered around a huge picnic table. Our nights were filled with music and dancing around a campfire to music like"CC Ryder" by Elvis, "Mustang Sally" by Wilson Pickett, and "Proud Mary" by CCR (which is my family's theme song). Card games were popular unless the humidity was high and then it became impossible. This was the place where I learned to swim, learned to ride a bike, learned how to roast a marshmallow. But mostly, it was just sitting, talking, laughing, and drinking beer.

Kids were put to bed probably around 10 (there were no clocks at Camp, either). My bed was the top bunk in the living room. I always had a hard time falling asleep cause I would lay and listen to the adults. Sometimes a kid was snagged from bed and allowed to join in - but not often. But when you were, it was like visiting the North Pole, or Wonka's Chocolate Factory, or some other fabled place you'd only ever heard about but never seen.

Last summer, I made a trek to the old Camp site. True to form, the area seemed so much smaller than it did when I was 10. The walk to the river didn't seem as far, the small saplings that we had each painted our names on were now tall trees, only a few with just a trace of "camp green" still on them. The dirt city we created under the trailer where we played with trucks is now covered in weeds. The cow pasture on the other side of the road is completely overgrown and hasn't seen a cow in 15 years. Adams' Farm is long gone, so is the old Mill, the dilapidated bridge, and for that matter, so is Camp. But my small handprint is still located in the sidewalk, with my name and the year - 1972.

I have thought of all of this because my Aunt Susie is sick now. She's 76 with dark spots on her lungs. Uncle Bill is 83 and walks around with an oxygen tank. This wasn't supposed to happen. They were supposed to stay the same age so that I could grow up and stay up late out by the fire, and talk and dance and laugh with them. I see them now and I long for the time when I was the boy in the top bunk. They were about the same age I am now. I miss those days. I miss those people. My childhood was rich beyond description. Cousins were just more brothers and sisters. Uncles and aunts were just more sets of parents. And as I watch these people get older, I am reminded how lucky I was then.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Vital Facts - Jughead

Last month, I introduced you to my friend Poodle. This month, meet my friend Todd, or as I call him "Jug" (I give nicknames to the ones I really care about). Jug and I met in December 1998 in Chicago. We have only seen each other 5 times since then, but he is one of my closest friends, having stayed in touch through email and phone calls. And when we do see each other, it's as if no time has passed. This week, we had dinner together in the city where we met 8 years ago. Life really does come full circle if we are just patient enough.

Your name: Todd

Your aliases: TJ, Ted, Uncle Ted, Carolinapup, Quillayute, Jughead...I think I have an identity crisis!

What was your first impression of me - and how has your impression of me changed (if at all)? Just this big ball of smiley. That never really changes. I attribute it to good dental care.

What are qualities that you think are important in a friend? Loyalty, trust, humor, sense and sinsibility, and the ability to sacrifice your own time occasionally to make time for theirs.

What is your favorite thing (or things) about yourself? My free-wheeling whimsicality.

What one word do you think best describes you? Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, bitch! OK...let's go with...grounded. 

If I were describing you to someone who didn't know you, what do you think I would say? "Oh my god, it's like, he's so, like, totally, like, Juggarific, girl!" 

If you were describing me to someone who didn't know me, what would you say? "He's a keeper"

What is something that you are good at? Music -- Playing guitar and piano and any other instrument that looks intriguings.

What is something you wish you were good at? Fixing cars. I can barely get the damned hood open. 

What is something you have done that you are proud of? Just gettin' by in this world and standing on my own two feet. 

What is your philosophy on life? Soak it up. Educate yourself by seeing and doing.

Is there something about me that you've always wanted to know but have never asked? Hmmmm....I know some 'tings, but I'd like to know if there's anyone from your past that you wish was not a part of your past, but your present.

Tell me something that I probably don't know about you. You know I can draw a map of the 50 states perfectly, with all the borders and everything? It's really useful.

What do you like most about me? Your unwaivering friendship.

What do you dislike most about me? Your distance keeps me from picking up the phone and saying 'let's grab lunch'. That and you moved to Chicago about 10 years too late.

If you were trapped in a cell in a dungeon for one year - what 3 people (alive or dead, famous or personal) would you want to be trapped with? I'm in a dungeon and I want to be trapped with other people? Kinky. I'm not really good at this question...but I'd want someone entertaining, so maybe Jimmy Buffett and my favorite band Eddie From Ohio. I'll bring my partner along too. That makes 6 people but I always find loopholes to the rules!

What super power would you want to have? Ooooh...probably to fly. Everytime I'm on a regional jet I feel like I lose a piece of my soul.

Where's your favorite place in your city? And why? In Greenville, it's Paris Mountain State Park...it feels like you're miles away from everything but you're 10 minutes from downtown. 

Where's your favorite place in the world? And why? Seattle. I can't explain it, but from first visit there in '98...I felt like I had come home.

What would you like to happen in the next ten years? I'd like for the general attitude of people in the world to get warmer, the beer to get a little colder, and everything else in my life to be room temperature.

You died and you are standing at the gates of Heaven. God asks you to sum up what you learned on Earth. What would you say? Who is this God person people keep talking about? ;-) Religious beliefs aside, I think I'd tell him that making other people's lives better make mine better. And that's kinda cool. 

One last thing. What question should I ask the next person? "What would you rather be doing now?" (kinda like that ol' bumper sticker)...













59 Things A Man Should Never Do Past 30

Borrowed this from Esquire Magazine (however, since this list was created for straight men, numbers 11, 33 and 43 do not apply to the 'Mos).

1. Coin his own nickname.
2. Use a wallet that is fastened with Velcro.
3. Rank his friends in order of best, second best, and so on.
4. Hacky sack.
5. Name his penis his name plus junior.
6. Hang art with tape.
7. Hang The Scream, unless he stole it from the Munch museum in Oslo.
8. Ask a policeman, "You ever shoot anybody with that thing?"
9. Ask a woman, "Hey, you got a license for that ass?"
10. Skip.
11. Take a camera to a nude beach.
12. Let his father do his taxes.
13. Tap on the glass.
14. Shout out a response to "Are you ready to rock?"
15. Use the word collated on his resume.
16. Hold a weekly house meeting with roommates.
17. Name pets after Middle Earth characters.
18. Jokingly flash gang signs while posing for wedding photos.
19. Give shout-outs.
20. Use numbers in place of words or locations, such as "the 411" for information, or "the 313" for Detroit.
21. Hug amusement-park characters.
22. Wear Disney-themed neckties.
23. Wake up to a "morning zoo."
24. Compare the trajectory of his life with those of the characters in Billy Joel's "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant."
25. Request extra sprinkles.
26. Air drum.
27. Choose 69 as his jersey number.
28. Eat Oreo cookies in stages.
29. Volunteer to be a magician's assistant.
30. Sleep on a bare mattress.
31. End a conversation with "later skater."
32. Hold his lighter up at a concert.
33. Publicly greet friends by shouting, "What's up, you whore?"
34. Wear Converse All Stars with a tuxedo.
35. Propose via stadium Jumbotron.
36. Decide anything based on the ruminations of Howard Stern.
37. Call "shotgun" before getting in a car.
38. Dispute someone else's call of "shotgun."
39. Whine.
40. Mist up during Aerosmith's "Dream On."
41. Purchase fireworks.
42. Google the word vagina.
43. Ride a pony.
44. Sport an ironic mustache.
45. Hit 13 against a 6.
46. Organize a party bus.
47. Say "two points" every time he throws something in the trash.
48. Buy a novelty postcard in another country of topless women on a beach and write, "Wish you were here" on it.
49. Keg stands.
50. Purchase home-brewing paraphernalia.
51. The John Travolta point-to-the-ceiling-point-to-the-floor dance move; also that one from Pulp Fiction.
52. Put less than ten dollars' worth of gas in the tank.
53. Keep a minuscule amount of marijuana extremely well hidden.
54. Read The Fountainhead.
55. Watch the Pink Floyd laser light show at a planetarium.
56. Refer to his girlfriend's breasts as "the twins."
57. Own a vanity plate.
58. Whippits.
59. Say goodbye to anyone by tapping his chest and even so much as whispering, "Peace out."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Nothing New Under The Zun

American Dreamz. Not to be confused with American Dreams.

American Dreamz stars Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid and Mandy Moore. American Dreams stars a bunch of people I've never heard of and a woman from NYPD Blue. American Dreamz is a contemporary movie about culture and music. American Dreams is/was/might still be a series set in the '60's about culture and music. American Dreamz is American Idol-esque. American Dreams is American Bandstand-esque.

But American Dreamz is way more hip than American Dreams. After all, there is a "z" instead of an "s". But DreamZ, aside from having a bit of flava in the title, boasts the whitest cast ever assembled for a movie; Hugh, Dennis and Mandy all look like they just stepped out of a saltines box. Add to that actors Willem Dafoe and Chris Klein, and the entire cast practically glows in the dark. I haven't seen the movie - I won't see the movie - but it looks as if Hugh is playing a Simon Cowell-Bitchy Brit type, and Dennis is a disengaged, somewhat estranged U.S. President (hmmm, "W"onder "W"ho that could be based on?).

The young female lead in DreamZ is a blonde Midwest chippy with hopes and dreamZ of making it big and making a difference in a struggling world. The young female lead in DreamS is a blonde Philadelphian chippy with hopes and dreamS of making it big and making a difference in a struggling world. Biiiiig stretch guys! Really creative work. Below are images of the two young female leads.


Can you tell which is which? Yeah, me neither.

I think the real American Dream(s)(z) would be for the creative department(s)(z) to be ... well, creative, and to come up with new idea(s)(z). It's one thing to do a variation on a theme, but quite another to do that variation and not even change the title. Simply changing a letter is just downright insulting. What's next?: Happy Dayz? Good Timez? Golden Girlz? Dynazty? Sorro? Tarsan?

It Zucks!

Friday, April 21, 2006

I Cheat Death

Recently, The BF and I took part in a photoshoot designed and photographed by Jessica Sladek, a photographer in Chicago (click here to see his). She had people show up and write something significant about themselves on a white dry-erase board. And then she photographed you in front of it.

By the time I was photographed, the board was loaded sayings like "I want to inspire people", "I lack direction", and "I have just one flaw" (which was obviously NOT mine). Here is the one Jess took of me:


Some facial expression huh? Perhaps I am being skeptical? Perhaps I am being judgmental? Perhaps I am thinking a dirty but fun thought? Perhaps I am saying "come here", or perhaps it is "don't even think about it"? Or perhaps something else. Whatever the case, it's a good shot of me.

And I like the sentence I chose. If you look over to the right, in the center, you will see "I Cheat Death". When I told The BF what I wrote, he responded with, "That's good for you." I like the picture Jess took of him, too. And I am excited to see the others as well. Some of the things that were written on the board were very inspiring.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Impeachable Offense

I had such high hopes for this show when it started last Fall. Along the vein of the Christopher Reeve's Superman slogan of "You will believe a man can fly", Commander-in-Chief gave us "You will believe a woman can be president". Even if it wasn't some kind of covert poll to see if Hillary or Condoleeza should run or not, it was time to advance America's thinking, time to move us forward as a nation. Other countries around the world are electing women to powerful positions. And while America has hinted at it for the last two decades, ABC Programming is here to tell us that we are actually ready for it.

So I tuned in faithfully every Tuesday night to watch Mackenzie Allen run the country. Even though I thought she was a little stiff, Geena Davis did a pretty good job. She folded her arms a bit too much for my liking, but I believed her character portrayal. So at first, I was a believer, and I was hoping that the rest of America was believing with me - that a woman could be president.

And then the show did stupid stuff: a quickie sex hookup on Air Force One while it was being held hostage, a teen kegger in the White House while the president was out of town, two kids making out on a couch in the Oval Office with no security in sight. These are just to name a few. And these scenes made me mad -- made me mad because they were cheapening the entire idea.

I don't believe for a second that a political advisor could hook up on AF-1 while it is being quanrantined in a bomb threat (even if it is "Zack Morris"). I don't believe for a minute that the president's kids could throw an unchaperoned all-night keg party in the mansion and go running through the halls mooning portraits of John Adams. And I don't believe two teenagers could do it on a sofa in the Oval Office and no one else be around to stop it (even Clinton has to use his private bathroom for such meetings). So, for that matter, why should I believe a woman could be president?

The show has now been moved to Thursday nights and has apparently hired new writers. So perhaps it can be revamped and made into the show it promised it would be. I missed its re-debut last Thursday, but I will be watching it tonight, just to see.

Personally, I do believe a woman can be president. But this show does little to advance the cause.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Carroll Spinney

For awhile, during my childhood, he was a hero of mine, and probably yours too. I watched him on television almost every day: listening to his stories, singing along with his songs, learning the lessons he delved out. He taught me my ABCs and how to count. He introduced me to his imaginary friend and he taught me that being a little different made you unique, not strange. I loved him.

He was on my lunchbox in kindergarten. I had a tee shirt or two with his picture on it, and countless books. And for his efforts he was given my undying attention, 4 Daytime Emmy Awards and 2 Grammy Awards, 2 Gold Records, a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Library of Congress's Living Legend Award.

Mr. Spinney has performed in countless stage shows across Australia, China, Japan, and across Europe, has visited the White House multiple times, served as a recording artist on dozens of albums, conducted orchestras across the US and Canada, including the Boston Pops, and starred in theatrically-released movies with high-billing.

As a child, I learned many lessons from him. But as I became an adult, he taught me how to be independent, yet still need my friends; how to love my family, yet be able to create my own family around me; and that just because others don't see or believe what I do, does not make my ideas or beliefs wrong.

On April 22, at the 2006 Daytime Emmy Awards, Mr. Spinney will receive the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Lifetime Achievement Award. He was a wonderful influence on - well - just about all of us at one time or another. We should all be grateful for Carroll Spinney.

Who is he, you ask? You might know him better as this character.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Déjà Vu All Over Again

It's many months until Hallowe'en, but do you want to hear something creepy? Last Saturday morning, the 15th, I awoke telling The BF that I had a weird dream that I was drowning. Know what the 15th was? Only the 94th Anniversary of the Titanic sinking -- which happened at 2:20am on April 15, 1912 (I found this out later in the day after being saturated with Titanic documentaries on The History and Discovery Channels).

Over 1,500 people drowned in the north Atlantic after the ship's hull scraped an iceberg that was remarkably too far south to begin with.

Coincidence?

I have a fascination for the possibility of past lives, as previously reported. And it wouldn't surprise me that I could have been some poor, penniless immigrant schlomo riding in steerage with the rats, on his way to America for a chance at a better life; perhaps not completely unlike myself today moving to a new place, (this time by plane) to open a new world of possibilities and experiences. (And of course, you know I just had to use up 3.5 hours of my Sunday evening listening to Kate Winslet say the name "Jack" about 2,000 times. But for your sake, I did find this abridged version - only takes 30 seconds.)

It's all about the journey, some say. However, it seems sometimes you arrive at the other end and sometimes you don't. Perhaps I was aboard the Titanic when it sunk on April 15th, the same way, perhaps, I was in Ford's Theater the night Lincoln was shot. And by the way, Lincoln died on April 15th too.

Double coincidence?? (insert eery organ music here)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Gold Record

My friend Ryan took the photograph for the cover of Fall Out Boy's first album, "Take This To Your Grave", which recently went gold.


This means Ryan will get a gold album sometime next month. And while I am not a fan of this band, I do think Ryan is a very talented photographer.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Chipotle Es Muy Fabuloso

Last week, I received an email from my neighborhood Chipotle telling me that my business card was drawn and I had won 5 free lunches for me and 4 co-workers. Sweet deal, I thought. I eat there sometimes twice a week anyway.

And then I got an idea.

As it was also my birthday, and the office rule is that the birthday person brings treats in for the entire office, I sent an email response to Chipotle, thanking them for the freebies, but wondering if they could extend the lunch offer to everyone in my office so that I could provide lunch for everyone on my birthday instead of cookies, brownies or anything else unhealthy. The catch was that there are 45 people in my office.

A few minutes later I received an email back from Chipotle that said, "Sure, why not?" So on Monday, my entire 45-person office ate a free lunch at Chipotle, and I STILL get the 5 free lunches to use anytime next week. Remember what I said about customer service last week? Apparently it still does exist ... but in very rare quantities.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Birthday & Anniversary

First, the birthday.

I am coming off of a truly great weekend. On Saturday, I celebrated my 40th birthday. And in waiting for this day to come, I could not have had a better time. I was surrounded by 15 friends at a party thrown for me by The BF. And even though I never like being the center of attention (except on my blog), it was just low-key enough that I was comfortable and carefree. Enough so to get pretty tipsy and show off my skill at "shot fake-out" drinking.
You can see more pics of the party by visiting The BF's Flickr Page.

After drinks, shots, and snacks, we all headed to Sidetrack where Norbert treated us very well. More drinks and more shots followed. I met some guys from the Chicago Football League and I got drafted to play this Fall (I kept hearing the word "blocker" over and over so I guess I know what my position will be). The BF and I followed up Sidetrack with Charlie's where "Sexy Hips" and I got our dirty dancing on before calling it a night. It couldn't have been a better celebration.

And as far as gifts go, I made out well. Especially from The BF. Among the booty (ba dum bum) was this tee shirt that he made -- that's right, MADE. Knowing my attraction to geeky, dorky guys (sorry, kb), he created the font, carved out the stencil, then painted it on. Not stopping there, he also made -- that's right, MADE -- me a scarf out of very soft fleece, complete with tassles and a monogramed "D". Truly one of a kind - just like him. Can't wait to whip it out (the scarf, that is) next winter.

And now the anniversary.

Today also marks the 1 year anniversary of this blog. I began it a year ago on Monday, April 11th. I've been keeping written journals since 1982, and now and then it's fun for me to go back on any given day to see where I was and what I was doing on, say February 24, 1986, or July 15, 1993, or October 3, 2000. And even though I keep the journals going, this blog is a public extension of my private thoughts (a lot of things I keep to myself, however). I am happy I started this, and am excited to see where it leads. I hope you will follow.

Thanks to all those who participated in Saturday night, and even, indeed, the past year. And now ... onward!

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Big 40

Tomorrow, I finally do it. I turn 40 years old on Saturday.

My joke for the last year or so has been "I've been a daddy since I was 22, this will just make it official". Truth is, I have always been an older man stuck in my 20's and 30's, just waiting for my time to shine. And now - ceremoniously - that time has come.

My 20's was a decade spent figuring out who I was as a person. My 30's were all about where I fit into the gay world. And now my 40's are here; a time when I get to see who and what finally fits into MY world, the world I created. I am not the man I was at 30, or even 35. Far too much has happened for things to stay status quo. And it's all very exciting.

To those who say 40 is the new 30, I say stop trying to make yourself feel young. I worked my ass off to get to this age, and I've got the battle scars to prove it. I am going to wallow in it like a pig in mud. I would not want to be 30 again for anything. I didn't like myself so much at 30. But at 40, I feel like I am just starting to be the man I have waited to be all my life.

So stay tuned ... there's alot more fun ahead.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tipping . . . Or Not

I am not a fan of this latest trend - stores with tip jars by the cash registers. These jars are popping up everyplace the Gen-Y'ers are working - coffee shops, music stores, even some clothing stores. It is so indicative of this generation to be asking for more without actually working for it.

I tip people in the service industry who hustle for my benefit: mostly food servers and bartenders; people who are juggling more than one customer at a time and have to deal with everyone's crap at the same time. I am not about to tip someone who's job it is to work within a 6'x6' space barking my coffee order to someone standing 8 feet away. Or the person working behind the counter at the take-out place where I have to go and pick up my own food. Or the salesperson who rings up the three tee shirts I buy in her store after standing in line for 15 minutes waiting for her to stop staring at a break sheet on a clipboard as if she is figuring out thermodynamic speed ratio equations. These deserve a tip??

If customer service were truly good in the U.S., I would be happy to reward it with a little extra cash. I've lost count of the number of times I have given a snotty "you're welcome" without even receiving the "thank you" first. There's a cashier at my CVS who doesn't speak to anyone - no "next please", no "your total is...", and certainly no "thank you". He points at things alot and bats his eyes as if he's in a coma. He's not mute, he just doesn't care. I'm not even thanked in another language, which would be preferable to just being stared at, as if I am supposed to be thanking him for the privilege of his service.

I am not sure when it happened that customers ceased being the reaon for your work and became the interruption of your work. If you can call it "work". I've had to interrupt employee conversations, both on cell phones and in person to ask for assistance (one of my biggest pet peeves is two employees complaining about their job while at work, bitching about other employees or their managers in front of me.)

If every clerk was like Maureen at Walgreen's at Belmont and Broadway, I'd be tossing out tips right and left (The BF is totally charmed by her). She's funny, helpful, and she seems to enjoy what she does. She might be a little slower due to her high social skills, but she makes the experience of waiting in line tolerable, albeit enjoyable. If Maureen had a tip jar, I would fill that sucker.

But she doesn't, because she knows it's inappropriate. But then Maureen is probably in her late 40's. She's not mad at the world for no damn reason, and she's not suggesting that she gets tipped for doing a job she's getting paid to do in the first place. If those other clerks would put as much energy into their work performance as they put into making the signs for their tips jars, customer service may finally return.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Car Names

I've had a few cars in my time. My very first car, that I bought myself in 1983, was a 1979 Chevy Chevette. His name was Charlie. I only had Charlie for 18 months. Charlie had a manual transmission, which I didn't know how to drive. My friend Chris Dellone had to drive it off the lot for me, and then taught me how to drive a stick shift. I kinda hated Charlie at first and only bought him because I needed transportation to the beach for the summer where I spent three months drawing caricatures of people on the Boardwalk and parking cars at Phillip's. I tried to jazz him up by adding pinstripes on the outside of him, but there is only so much you can do to a Chevette.

My second car was Rhonda, the Honda. She was an '83 Accord LX. I loved that car; gray with burgundy cloth interior, a kickin' cassette player and a sunroof. I was pimpin', baby. This was the car that I drove back and forth from my folks place in Frostburg to Ex#1's place in Sterling VA twice a week for several months before we finally moved in together - that's 280 miles round trip, twice (it's amazing what young hormones are capable of). This was also the car in which I suffered my first heartbreak. I logged alot of time on random drives and sometimes just sitting and crying. I pounded her steering wheel, beat her seats, and drove her recklessly at times, but she was ever faithful and dependable. Then sadly one night, she died a miserable, fiery death when a mechanic only put in one quart of oil after an oil change. One night driving down Route 7, Rhonda's engine caught on fire and she was totaled.

Ever wonder how we decide the names and genders of our automobiles? My first two autos were both 5-door hatchbacks, similar in shape, just built by two different makers. Yet one was "male" and the other "female". I just knew, at first glance, the gender and name of each car. And it's amazing how much we experience, both physically and emotionally, in our cars: from first kisses to driving to a parent's funeral to job interviews to breakups, and so on. And each time, they help us in the transition through periods of our lives, asking only for gas and the occasional tune-up. They listen without complaint, judgment, and feedback. How many conversations do you think you've had by yourself in your car?

After Rhonda came "The Turd", so named by my brothers because it was a brown 84' Ford Tempo. I bought it almost completely stripped - no A/C, no stereo, nothing; this was a necessity purchase to fill the void of my dearly departed Rhonda. The thing with The Turd was that I was not going to keep it long. My folks wanted to buy me a stereo for Christmas one year and I told them not to since I wasn't keeping the car. A year later, they offered to have a sunroof installed and I said no because I wasn't keeping the car. I bought the car in 1985 and drove it for the next 10 years - covering my first move to DC, my return to college, and the million road trips to vist Ex#2. I had a difficult time coming up with a name for this car, but at Shenandoah, it became known as "Miss Paisley" - and at least 5 people had keys to her. And as long as everyone kept her clean and filled with gas, I didn't much care who drove her. One day, a classmate was driving her and slammed into a hidden pothole and broke the rear axle. Since it would cost more to fix than the cost of the car, I donated Miss Paisley to an organization that taught skills to mentally challenged adults.

Then came Jett, the Jeep. I bought him new in 1994 and fell in love on the spot. He moved to DC with me initially in 1995, but when he kept getting broken into when I was living on The Hill, I sent him back to live with my parents (I mean what would someone think would be valuable in a vehicle that has no windows or a roof?). To compensate, I bought Judy the white '96 Jetta. I drove Judy around DC and on road trips to the beach and home. When I would visit my parents though, I would always jump in Jett and go for a joyride through the mountains and wide fields of western MD. Judy was the red-headed stepchild in Jett's presence.

Sadly, one day, Judy was stolen while parked in Dupont Circle. When the police found her in a lot in SE, she had been involved in a jewelry store robbery (the backseat was covered in small ring boxes) and severe damage had been done to her interior. She was a great car, but I totaled her. So then I brought Jett back down to DC to live with me.

I loved that jeep, and it became synonymous with me. My widely-used online nick was "Beef in a Jeep" and I am personally resposible for the sale of 9 Jeeps that I know of (roommate Ashley even has one now). After 11 years, he was just beaten up enough and dented in all the right places that he was perfect! Roof off in a rainstorm? Didn't hurt him. Back into a telephone pole? Character dent. Then one morning in June, I went out to take him to work and he was gone. I had noticed wires pulled from the back a day before, but just shoved them back up under the dash, thinking nothing of it. Apparently someone was going to hotwire it and couldn't. They must have come back and tried again - and succeeded. Jett was never found. I think I cried a little.

So right now, I am carless (these days, I am "Beef on a Bus"). So far I haven't needed an automobile in Chicago. Parking is an atrocity, and the bus and trains take me everywhere I need to go (I've only been in three cab rides since I moved here in September). Not sure if or when I will purchase another. But I think you can guess what I will buy when the time comes.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Whine & No Cheese

Who does Jonathan Antin think he is?

So far, the narcissistic owner of Jonathan Salons is spending this season of Bravo's Blow Out crying - literally - about how he can't handle all of his success. Poor. Fucking. Baby.

"I'm just a kid from the streets, man. I dropped out of high school. This stuff isn't supposed to happen to me", he moans as he uses Kleenex after Kleenex when unloading on his therapist, who seems to be laughing at him. And rightly so.

"I've got two salons going and opening one in Hawaii, I have NY Fashion week, I have my product line, I have my family and my kid ... it's so much!" Yeah. So much. How DARE he complain about being successful! If he thinks three salons are going to be too much to handle, then for cripes sake, don't open the third one! He's already bitching because his agent calls him "every 10 minutes" with something new. I know actors that would suck a ham sandwich through a straw up their noses in the middle of Times Square if their agents would just return phone calls.

Hey, Johnny Reb, you don't need to open a salon in Hawaii. Who's there? Tourists and hula dancers. I don't even think native Hawaiians cut their hair. And if they do, they sure aren't going for that long-layered cut you do on EVERY woman who sits in front of you.

When I first started watching Blow Out, I was dating Ex#4 (also a stylist), and I thought this might give me insight into his world and the things he deals with. And all I saw while watching the show was a shallow, demanding, egotistical man who wanted perfection without realizing the innate beauty in modification. He hired stylists for their capabilities, but refused to allow them to express themselves. Yet he constantly did exactly what he wanted even when the customer clearly stated a desire for something else. It happened last season at Fashion Week and it happened again, already, on this season with a photoshoot.

I was hoping success and the trappings would have softened Jonathan slightly, but they've only made him seemingly more tyrannical. He throws "fuck" around in business meetings, to associates and employees without regard for professionalism. He can't be happy with what he has - he's too stressed out to get more. I don't think I am going to watch any more of this show.

When does Project Runway come back?? I miss Daniel V. already.