Gay Rights…

or rather rites…of passage, that is.

I was doing laundry last night and wondering how to kill time while simultaneously reflecting back on my evening out with Little Buddy.

She had taken me out to a show for some quality us time, which was awesome fun – as usual – but also something I enjoyed being able to enjoy with her.  Planning a party is always kinda stressful, so I know I wouldn’t have been able to really enjoy myself in her shoes at the surprise party she threw me.

I know, I’m projecting!

Anyway, this was just time for us to witness and enjoy!  

Witness…Tony Starlight!

Enjoy…his tribute show honoring Sir Elton John.

It was amazing…just the right type of retro-drag-schmaltz.  I’m sure I will get to more depth than that at some point, but something else caught my attention while I lay on the couch, listening to the washer spin.

He took a break during his show to acknowledge special events people were out celebrating.  Naturally, Little Buddy was ready.  I thought about sinking under the table, but knowing my gut reaction to spotlights and microphones, LB had provided a picture to make me easier to track down.

It was fine.  He took it easy on me.  Plus, Little Buddy had thoughtfully avoided any pictures with the diabolical “50” in them.

I’m kinda still busy selling myself on those digits.

However – and this is what I was thinking about last night – he did bust the chops of a couple of younger folk.

There was another guy celebrating his birthday, he was marking his 28th.  Tony suggested he could maybe help him out by being a Big Brother for his drummer.  His drummer, of course having caught my eye several times over the course of the night.

It’s not that I minded this drummer boy, if you will, staring at me.  Darkened dinner theater corner is some of my best lighting.  Plus, one has to admire the craft of an overt flirt like this.  He was using his de facto bandleader as an excuse to gawk openly at me, since I was right over his shoulder.  Whenever he would look at his band mate for cues, there it was.  I could feel him staring at me from behind his sunglasses.

Yeah…you keep telling yourself that, Xtopher.

Anyway, he was looking pretty cool in a patterned shirt under a white fur vest paired with white polka dot pants.  It was a fun outfit.

I appreciated it even more when Tony gave him a little hell when introducing the band.  I swear he said his drummer’s name was “Michael Homo”, but who knows for sure?  Anyway, there he was being outed as a 25 year old college student while Tony quipped he got college credit for playing music for old people.  I think that was supposed to be a cheeky bit of self deprication because this is also Tony’s 25th anniversary year, but I think most of the room felt that burn.

I just sat there and laughed.

But I was realizing how desperately young gays, like this Mike Homo fella, need a good intro into camp during their formative years.  This drummer boy has the schmaltz with a gay tilt that is Tony Starlight.  Lucky for him.  And, further, it needs to be personal and intimate, this camp schooling.  The modern crop of gays seem to get their camp exposure from RuPaul’s Drag Race.  Fine, I guess if you enjoy that kind of thing.  But all it seems to be creating is a bunch of gay parrots that speak in bitchy one-liners and memes.

I’d like a side of personality with mein camp, please.

I’m not saying that a sense of camp humor is the first thing a gay needs to learn, but it should be a part of the whole.  I think it’s a part of being fully sub-culturally aware, regardless of whether it’s an active part of your personality.

It’s part of our collective history, and I think young gays today don’t understand that history.  I love pride month as much as the next gay – total lie, I eschew pride most of the time, but at least I know what it’s about.

Hint: the party is not what it’s all about.

What frustrates me about pride month isn’t so much that I seem to have permanently misplaced my pride body, but rather that our month has been reduced to as many weekends of parades, costumes, excessive drinking and indiscriminate sex as one can cram into a month.  

Today is February 3rd and in the first 72 hours of Black History Month, I have yet to see a randomly occurring parade, party or orgy.  I think the gays are missing an opportunity.  Sadly, I think this thing that should bring us together and strengthen us as a community is on a trajectory to become a divisive agent within our ranks.

I wonder if middle aged blacks are worried that black youth don’t know what this bridge represents

or could even name it in the same manner that I worry that young gays can’t identify this building

or this man

and engage in a conversation about the cultural relevance of either.

Whoa.  How did I end up here?

Suffice it to say, I had a point…originally.

Maybe I can salvage my train of thought.  It was a rough day at work…

Gays today are being cultured by their own generation.  I’ve had conversations with younger men that left me not only certain that they had very little – if any – idea of the struggle to earn the freedoms they enjoy.  

That’s kind of on us as a culture.  

Sure, it wouldn’t hurt to teach some gay history in schools…but how likely is that to happen?

And the hard part here is that a good chunk of a couple of generations was wiped out by AIDS, so there’s not a lot of us old geezers around to do the good work.  Not to mention the priority we put on sexualizing our youth obsessed subculture versus taking the time to raise them before we rear them.

But on the other hand, that phenomenon goes both ways.  There’s a fair number of Daddy Hunters out there sexualizing their elders.  If that’s not a misconstrued cry for help…

Anyway, back to the gay rites of passage.

If I was allowed just one, it wouldn’t be coming out to oneself, or ones family.  Nor would it be the first time in a gay bar or pride parade or sexual encounter.

No.

I think my prescribed rite of passage would be to read Tales of the City.  At least the first six books.

Actually, I think that would be a good thing for any person wanting a glimpse into the breadth of our culture and how our struggle impacted individuals.  Sure, there’s a couple odd story lines in there.  Otherwise, it has a lot of important exposure for people: gays, lesbians, trans, young, old…not to mention rich, poor, middle class, happy and not so happy childhoods and how they prepare individuals to become a part of the culture they identify with or the adult chosen families that they find themselves a part of.

What say you, mein reader…what would you prescribe as a rite of passage into this gay culture we are inhabiting?

Gay Rights…

Birthday: Love

Impressing myself with my own delusional contortions while writing about all the food I consumed over my birthday weekend yesterday, I mused that I wasn’t full from overeating.  No, rather, perhaps my heart was over full from all of the birthday love I had gotten.

Let me set aside the amount of food I consumed – it was all of the food – and tell you how that little bit of pithiness has managed to kick around my noggin for the last day.

Can one be so full of love that they feel physically satiated?

Well, there’s a thought dripping with derp.

The sincerity that I experienced over the last weekend has probably (definitely) always been there with my friends, I’m sure this birthday of mine was just such a focusing agent that the emotions are lingering.  Definitely more present, even 10 days later.

But it’s been coloring my life view lately, too.

Moms with their kids.

Hell, families.

Young couples.

Dogs.

Old couples absolutely take the cake, though.

Mmmm.  Cake.

Seeing old couples tottering through the airport together makes me smile.  Always.  Moreso this last week, though.

Feeling it, I am.

Strangely, I can’t even imagine or conceptualize the type of committment and discipline that’s required to nurture a decades long relationship.

Check that.  I can conceptualize it, actually, it’s the life long partner that’s difficult to imagine.

You have to forgive me, though.  For 10 of my 30 years of adult dating life, I’ve been not dating.  That’s a measly one-third success ratio.  That may suffice for a pro baseball player (I dunno, does it?!?) but in relationship terms, that seems to lack any certain luster.

Especially when spread over two relationships versus one.

Fail.

Yet

I did end my last relationship with the forethought that I may have been ending what was – and has certainly proven to be this far – my last chance at a relationship.  That wasn’t reason enough to try and hold on to something that wasn’t mine, though.

And I think we’re both better for it.  The last thing – in retrospect – that I wanted to do was hang on until Rib woke up one day and asked himself how the hell he ended up with an old boyfriend.

Oldie Hawn, he would call me…and I kid you not when I say I loved it.

But me dying alone or not, at Myrtle’s whim or not, is not the issue that’s been on my mind.

Right, Myrtle?

For once.

Rather, it’s been…surreally, can one be so fulfilled with the experience of loving another that it sustains them through their lifetime?

Whoa.

Now, there’s a derp-full thought.

Tangentially, can one be sustained by less intimate love?  Without asking the question directly, I assume that’s what the cool septua and octa genarians are rocking these days…although Grace & Frankie would have me doubting that assumption.

Personally speaking?  I’d say maybe.  I knew Rib might be my last shot and I did what I thought right for us both.  Since then, I think I’ve followed my Orangatan spirit animal – which is often misconstrued as grumpiness – and just not tolerated foolishness in dating.

I’m starting a movement, too…there’s a legacy.

Sure, I’ve been hoodwinked a couple times. Mostly cuz I’m dumb.  And slightly weak.  I blame my penis.

But I still have a ripcord that I pull when shit gets too bovine.

But I find comfort in the comfortable warmth and familiarity of my Chosen Family…when sincerity sustains more than postcoital pizza or Ben & Jerry’s, I think you’ve stumbled onto something.

It’s made me take a longer, more thoughtful look at young widows and widowers who never remarried.  What is it they know that the rest of us haven’t had the misfortune to figure out yet?

It’s definitely food for thought.

By the way, after all the food I ate last weekend?  Look at what “holiday” my traitorously supportive calendar told me fell on my birthday.

Birthday: Love

Birthday: Food

My birthday was a week ago.

There may be (there is) a cake and fork situation in my refrigerator.  Only just barely, now, though…

But that cake is just the icing on a fantastic birthday celebration.

This is my big landmark birthday and it fell on a weekend.  The perfect recipe for breaking those diet resolutions I never bothered to make.

So.

Much.

Food.

Plus a secret gold star that I survived…but might be too big a shock for people who know me to survive.

The food started on Saturday with a solid four dozen peanut butter cookies that a couple of my co-workers made.  They were taking up too much desk space so I pared them down by a good half dozen in the first half hour.  

A full third were gone by day’s end.

At which point, I had to run out to get ready for my surprise party.

God bless The Silver Fox, but when Little Buddy called dibs for Saturday night, I knew something was brewing.  For his part, he kept the bond of trust, never admitting there was a jig, up with which to be.

And I threw out some doozy theories in the week leading up to the big day.  Seriously, I had the whole thing being filmed by any surviving Zapruder.

Little Buddy had told me she was inviting The Fox, who then made his apologies in advance for missing the get together because he had tickets to a play with Sallory.

“Like you won’t be changing those plans!”, I taunted.

I went on through the week with scenarios like, “The big surprise will be when I show up and announce that I’m only 40”.  

The Fox invited me to join he and Sallory at the hotel bar next door – he and I are…regulars – and kept changing the time.  I teased him with accusatory questions like, “How long does Little Buddy need to sneak in and decorate my place?!?”

It’s not that big and there’s nowhere really to hide.  But if that was the plan…I’m fortunate to have folks who would be bothered to go out of their way  for me.

He insisted that wasn’t the case, but when he had casually suggested the day before that we stop and get his Key Buddy key made for my new place…well, c’mon.  You don’t have to be an Olympic caliber conclusion jumper to arrive at the too easily drawn…conclusion.

All my scenarios be damned, though.

I show up at Tanner Creek Tavern and it’s just The Fox and Sallory.

We have a beer, they ordered food because somehow they hadn’t changed their tickets. There is only one opening night!  Even at The Armory.

I’ve been wrong a lot in my life, so I rallied pretty easily.  Plus, Sallory had brought me a present!

Presents: that which I secretly love but publicly play it cool.

This was still a nice upgrade from last year, though, when The Fox had bothered to be out of the country for my birthday.  I just love busting his chops.  He could light me on fire and he’d still be the best friend I’ve ever known.

This year, Rib and his new boyfriend had taken a page out of The Fox’s birthday playbook and gone to watch the Australian Open live, which inconveniently occurs around my birthday.

So, there we are, us three.  Beer and wine raised to toast the eve.  I’m happy to have them for even a little while.

And while I’m enjoying a simple moment with dear friends, I find myself following four eyes across the bar, focused on black balloons parading from the door and headed in our general direction,

Ok, that one I did not see coming.

Little Buddy.

2.0.

Breitbarb.

The good and getting better friend…he really will need a blog name at some point.

All parading toward our table.

Well, that can’t be a coincidence.

Wires having been crossed, I was expelled from the bar and left to cool my heels in the hotel lobby so our table could be staged with all the required fiftieth birthday party accoutrements.

You know, I’m lucky to have people I love in my life who also tolerate me.  Less surprising to me, but perhaps me alone, is that there’s a bar in my life that doesn’t mind setting aside a table for my friends to mark my pickled ass’ birthday.

On a damned Saturday.

In downtown Portland.

On the Onesie Pub Crawl weekend.

Whatever.  I was here first.

When I returned from my lobby exile, the Filipina Fox and her husband had joined the birthday melee.  So had a new instant friend that I’d met at LB’s and 2.0’s wedding last summer (more on that in a later blog, promise) and her younger, better looking and more Asian blooded version of my doppelgänger boyfriend.  Little Buddy had rallied quite a bar busting group for this lil surprise shindig.  

I was pleased.

So, Little Buddy had made this cake.

It was glorious, but also a shituation, as I learned.

She had been aiming to do a cake-homage to both my Star Trek fandom and my Red Shirt Diaries blog theme.  The red fondant hadn’t cooperated and she’d scratched it and taken it back to the drawing board for a slam dunk of subtlety that bumped the overt Enterprise shaped 30th birthday cake to second place in the Best Ever Cake category,

Sorry, not sorry, Sacha.

It was a Tribble Cake.

I mean, I ate a bunch of those tribbles and a healthy slice of cake.

And a second beer, duh.

Happy as I was, I learned that this party was portable.  There was a table waiting for us at Nostrana.

It’s a tres she-she Italian restaurant that I’d never been to.  I’ve eaten several times at the Pearl District sibling restaurant, but that’s just a front for $50 pizza.  Nostrana is a mother lode restaurant.

We ate the pants off that place.

Remember, I was full from beer and cake.  

Let that stop me, I did not.

2.0 started us off with a charcuterie plate that featured typical sliced cheeses and cured meats as well as a few terrine options and fucking lengua.

Yeah, that’s beef tongue.

It.

Is.

So.

Good.

Little Buddy corralled the Som for some wine.

We were also downing bread like Dr Atkins was heading our way in slo-mo with a scale.

Then.

Then…the pasta main course.

The plan had been to take my Michael Douglas ass out to a bar after dinner but the trifecta of the Onesie Bar Crawl, 2.0 comfort considerations (in a gay bar) and my grumpy old man refusal to pay cover to be ignored in a bar landed us back at my place drinking The Fox’s wine.

It was perfect.

But the weekend wasn’t yet done with my belly.

Sunday morning was brunch with The Fox. No doubt penance for not canceling his opening night plans the night before.

No.

Check that…obviously he shouldn’t have made those plans in the first place.

Obviously!

I mean… he knows how extra I pretend to not be.  It’s like we had never even met.

But a one on one brunch with my NSLP – Non Sexual Life Partner – was beautiful.  What a delightful way to usher in day one of my 50th.

It’s surreal to type that.

Post brunch plans included a pre-family dinner nap…and I kind of needed it.  One big meal left in my weekend and I was already ready for my food coma.

We were eight for dinner.  I definitely didn’t get too hungry for dinner with eight.  But I nearly ate my weight with those eight.  If only our table had been at 8:00, that could have been a seizure inducing alliteration.

Alas, my family all traveled the 20-30 miles into town to join me at the newest Pok Pok. This is a Portland “It” restaurant from years past.  I’d never been, so they had opened a new place “ten” blocks from my place to tempt me.  I’ve been meaning to get there for months since they opened.

This was the perfect excuse.

I think we split nine entrees between the eight of us.  They recommend an entree for two people to share, so we were a little over that ratio given our census.  But best safe versus sorry, right?  Plus, I think I forgot a few in my tally.

Here’s my gold star moment:

My whole life, I’ve been a picky eater.  My list of “No’s” for food looks – and probably is – longer than any single person’s list of disqualifies for potential mates.

And yet, I don’t starve.

Because in my years I have learned to think of others, I made sure that our order included the mushroom salad for my mother, who may have single-handedly in life made mushroom farming a viable vocation.  

Seriously.  She loses it for mushrooms.

One of my favorite mom/son bonding stories is of our family table growing up.  At our pre-Chuck family dinner table on La Cour, I had a side of our six top table to myself.  My sporty siblings sat across from me and I sat next to my mother on my side of the table, obvious gay son dinner table placement, right?

Me being the petsnickety culinarian and my mother making her food budget pennies scream to feed her Galby Five, there were a lot of what I would call lesser filler ingredients.

Onions.

The Peppers Bell.

Mushrooms.

My awesome mom would sit next to me and eat these Xtopher-only deemed lesser ingredients off my plate.  Right out of their individual and separate piles I’d created for each at the perimeter of my plate.

Talk about a Niles Crane worthy OCD moment.

Talk about symbiosis!

Obviously, I stipulated that this Xtopher anathema of a mushroom salad be placed at the end of the table nearest Mom-Donna, furthest from me.  You know that bitch mushroom salad ended up getting passed to everyone and ended up at my corner.

It was my personal hell.

Me, being both a newly minted legitimately grumpy old man and a dick, I quietly engaged in the dinner table conversation with my family while quietly – and for attention only – eating off the mushroom salad plate.

No,

One.

Noticed.

Goddamnit.

I even casually and without irony said things like, “I think there are mushrooms in this” and yet…nothing.

I’d only had a glass of wine and a complimentary glass of champers at Thelonious Wines before dinner and a cocktail with, so I wasn’t even buzzed when I made the decision to choke down some mushroom salad, defiantly.

And no one noticed.

So I went home and ate some of Little Buddy’s bday cake…planting a fork in it for future and what turned out to be frequent use!

I’m still full a week later.

And that’s my birthday.

Of course, with so many people I hold dear in my life turning out to celebrate, my grinchy old heart might just be so full that it’s pushing down on my stomach, making me feel that I’ve over eaten.  

Toss up, eh?

For your amusement, the song Pandora barfed out as I’m wrapping this up was Knocking On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan…you can’t make this shit up.  It’s my life!

Birthday: Food

Farewell, Summer

Yesterday was the first day of Fall.  It certainly showed here in the PNW, too, all cool, gray and drizzly.

Wonderful!

Another reminder of how pecadelicious – Chrisism- my body is.  With my AC set at 70 in the Summer, I’m comfortable.  With my heat set at 70 in the winter, I’m freezing.

However, I was reminded as I noted the change of seasons that I never shared my vacation story, and it’s been a month.

It’s funny, I’m about to step into my sixth decade – ok, stumble or possibly stagger – but I can still be the bratty kid that complains to my parents that we haven’t had a family vacation forever.

I really rather rely on my elder and only sister for this type of stuff.  Her three younger brothers are borderline loners – at best.  Once Mom-Donna officially retires from her holding-the-family-together duties, the mantle will be hers to wear.  Mom has tried a few slow steps back from her matriarchal role, but still steps back in with statements of the, “I’d like to host one more holiday while I still can” type.  

She’s such a Prince Philip sometimes.

The result of my mild tantrum, nevertheless, was the parental gift of a summertime family vacation this past Christmas.

Finally, after a long break we were getting the Galby clan back together again in Central Oregon’s high desert retreat, Sunriver.

It’s always fun.

Always.

We’re together under one roof again, yet still free to pursue whatever we want throughout the day, coming together each night for dinner as a group.  Everyone takes a night of cooking duties, which is enjoyable for everyone.  Dad’s night – being the patriarch – is hosting dinner out at a restaurant.  The ‘Phew, as the youngest on the other hand, dips into his hard earned Birthday and possibly allowance fundage to treat us all to pizza delivery on the night of our arrival.

It’s a good ritual.  Plus, it provides me a chance to cook for people, which seldom happens outside of MNSC.

It just occurred to me that the last couple of family get togethers in the desert have proved near – or actually – fatal.

The last trip out for a Christmas getaway a couple years back was interrupted by a Christmas phone call from my ex, Sacha to tell me he had colon cancer…a story for another time.  Maybe.

That Christmas holiday was – more importantly to me – also marred with our family’s collective concern for dad, who had recently had a coronary procedure after which he wasn’t feeling well.

The trip before that was Rib’s first family vacation.  This was maybe five years ago?  Before the pizza even arrived, we were booking a flight for him to ABQ to attend his grandmother’ funeral.  Enviably, as I tap this out in a coffee house, he is with his new beau and family at Munich’s Oktoberfest.​

​I love that this video he sent me of his family vacation was so timely as I reminisced about mine.

Beyond those recent vacation danger moments, I’d say our other vacations were reasonably trauma free.  

Well

There was the Bike Ride Incident and The Nose Hair Situation, both of which I blame exclusively on my Black Sheep Brother.  Only one of which is near funny.  Black Sheep Bro and I went trail riding with the ‘Phew, I think he was still aged in single digits at the time.  We were having a blast leading him through the trails with a vague goal of finding a path to the ever elusive Benham Falls when he just barely nicked a fallen log that had been cut through to preserve the bike trail’s passability.

He.

Went.

Flying.Poor kid.  Right into a tree.

Little fucker scared the hell out of me and BSB before walking it off.

Talk about a dodged bullet.  I thought for sure my only nephew – at the time – was going to spend the rest of his Halloweens dressed as Stephen Hawking.

Things have changed since then.

I’d sent my bike home with mom and dad the week before after they came to town for a lunch date.  Er, doctor’s appointment.  When they picked me up, all I had to do was show up on the curb with my suitcase.

And a case of wine.

That’s a good change, in my opinion!  My sister had put in a request for some of that good stuff I’m always going out to Hood River for, so I took two bottles each from two of my favorite wineries out there.  I was reserving those for my night of cooking.  But since it’s also Summer, I rounded out my case with eight bottles of Rose.

My parents clucked their tongues at my “extra” baggage.  Not only because their car was also full of their bags, food for the week and doggie travel needs, but also because they had also brought a case of wine.

Great minds…meet the Galby clan!

We made it all fit.

Plus, a growler I’d gotten at 2.0 and Little Buddy’s wedding the day before.

And a huge watermelon The Silver Fox had gifted us.

As we made off on our way, I rationalized two cases of wine being barely enough if even four of the six legal drinkers partook with any regularity.  Really, that’s an easy three bottles a night, closer to four.

Five.  Five a night, tops.

As I mentioned, we all still take our bikes, but only my sister’s family unit rode together.  I put in daily rides, except for arrival and departure days.  It was good.  I’d spent the prior couple of weeks in spin class to trim up a bit.  But nothing prepared my ass for 15-20 mile rides in the saddle of a real bike.  My butt was less bun, more hamburger by the time I left.  But a nice 60+ mile four day stretch was good for me.  

After a successful jump start in spin, with minimal discomfort to my never-healing knee, I had aspirations of riding to the top of the Cinder Dome of the mega-volcano Newberry Crater.  Once the hills hit “straight up” status, my knee straight up refused.

Oh, well.  I still got plenty of exercise and just enough sun, even without the view from the top of the dome.

For my brother’s part, he pedaled to the store one evening, only to return grumpy or confused.  Hard to say.  He was all disturbed at how everyone he passed greeted him.  

I told you…loners.

Anyway, I’d noticed it on my rides. too.  It hadn’t bothered me, though.  I enjoy the social nicety of greeting passersby.  I was more interested in the range of greeting; from the apex vocal salutation to this:which was kind of a very minimal entry.  It was also an indictment for the homogenized environment we were spending the week in.  The darkest skin in this high desert mecca was simply overexposed and under sun screened.

This was the first time we didn’t – not a single one of us, let alone the group – spend time laying about at the pool.  There was a sister’s family rafting trip and a brother and nephew kayaking excursion, otherwise it was fairly pedestrian adventures.  Shopping in Sunriver or heading into Bend for some…shopping.

My sister and brother-in-law took the ‘Phew to look at COCC – that’s for you, Diezel.  He was considering Central Oregon Community Colkege for his first two years, but came back ambivalent.

I cannot believe I’m days away from having an 18 year old nephew!

While they were doing campus tours, the rest of us took off for the High Desert Museum.  Quite a way to spend an afternoon, with some self-improvement undertones.  It’s a nice mix of self-guided educational exhibits and nature path wanderings.

There were way more pics taken than I can comfortably squeeze into my humble blog post, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw something in just for Diezel’s enjoyment, so he knows he’s never too far from my thoughts.

So, enjoy, my friend and chosen family member!

Just to shake it up, no humans died or had close calls this time around.  But Buddy, my parent’s dog decided to give us all a scare, with a late day trip to the vet.  The local Sunriver vet wasn’t equipped to handle his situation and escalated him to Bend, 20 miles away.  This resulted in a doped up doggie and my parents enjoying my carbonara reheated.

But, in spite of the changes, the important things remain…

Each of us, being there, for one.  It was touch and go for me.  Mom and dad had picked a seemingly random week in August, the month that usually works for all of us.  Little did we know that we’d signed on for the biggest travel debacle in Oregon highway history: the 2017 eclipse.  

With the increase in tourists traveling in and me working at the airport, I was fairly certain I’d be asked to cancel my vacation.  The request was just to be back for the two days prior as people landed and one million tourists and 27,000 rental cars hit the road.

I was more than willing to fly back instead of risk the road trip…ODOT was tactfully suggesting that people take not only plenty of water for their travel, but also relief vessels, if you get my drift.

I don’t want to be that close to my family.  Hello, Alaska Airlines!

In addition to being there, also the food!

I think cooking for people is the simplest way to show love.  It’s demonstratively caring for them by providing sustenance.  Sharing stories and time over the table.  Figuratively or literally breaking bread together…there is – to me – no better way to illustrate family.

And every night, there we were…gathered at the table celebrating our bond.

Not a bad Christmas gift, parentals…thank you!

Farewell, Summer

Adam Ant

I’m old.  I forget things.

Like that I bought tickets to this February concert back in September.

It popped up on my calendar as a reminder and I was all, “Yeah, I should have bought tickets to that.”  Then I corrected myself from the plural to the singular since I recently committed to focusing on – well, anything but dating for the foreseeable future.

But something was tickling the back of my brain and a few hours later, I went into the email account I use for buying stuff just to be sure.  And, sure enough…there was a flagged purchase confirmation for Adam Ant.

Ta-da.

A few days later, there I was Uber-ing over to the Revolution Hall to meet up with Little Buddy and Vulture and their plus ones.  LB brought her daughter and Vulture brought his recently christened fiance.  There I am in all my single pride.  I arrived after they ordered, and I had left myself enough time to join them for a beer while they ate.  It was inadvertently shrewd planning on my part.  I was coming from work, so it was a tight run from the airport to home to the venue.  I think the space is nice…albeit a little tight for a restaurant attached to a concert hall.

Plus, can we please start getting away from all of this post industrial cum modern design?  Or at least start employing a little better sense of the end use of the space when we do use it?  I mean, is there no such thing as a post industrial carpet design?  This place with its polished concrete floor was noisy!  That can’t be good for the servers’ legs.

And, I know I’m getting off topic and careening toward my Early Onset Grumpiness tendencies at a reckless pace, but I only bring it up since I’m writing this after standing in line at Tilt to buy a pie on – wanna guess?  Polished concrete floor.

This follows my incredible dinner with The Silver Fox last night at Danwei Canting where we made it just in time for frigging family hour.  I actually looked across the table and said to The Fox, “This place could use a carpet.”  Of course, this was right after some kids at a corner table started screaming and startled another mother, causing her to knock over a – go figure – metal chair onto the…polished concrete floor.

Yawn.

But,I think that burst of grump will serve as a nice warm up to fully appreciate what happened upstairs while we were standing in line to get into the venue.

First of all, Little Buddy’s lovely daughter is by far the youngest person around – we’re talking by a couple of decades – including the kids taking tickets.

I’m chatting with Vulture, which according to LB, we do rather loudly and animatedly when we get together.  I hadn’t realized this, but we see each other virtually every day…an actual in-person audience with Vulture is not to be taken for granted!  Gotta make the most of it.

old-tattoosWe’re talking about tattoos.  I think I overheard someone else talking about it and I was off and running.  We discussed how they seem to be more of a body modification, like piercing, than the meaningful and thoughtful pieces of body art that were frequently still shocking to our generation…but they weren’t as overt, either.  I think the word I used was discreet.

I get on about how I’m easing my way into the acceptability of tattoos on the neck, above the collar line.  I had this really nice guy that worked for me who showed up for his interview in a dress shirt and tie, just peeking over the edge of his collar was a tattoo that looked like it had been scrawled on in prison.  Not the best first impression for a judgy old bastard like me.  He interviewed really well.  I had asked him about the tattoo, and explained that tattoos weren’t frowned upon, but in order to maintain as credible an environment as possible – since we were selling high end espresso machines – would he accept wearing his collar closed.  He said he would…and then told me that his tattoo was his daughter’s name.

His daughter who had passed away as a toddler.

So, y’know…I felt like a real jerk.

I still went back and forth about whether he should get the job.  Ultimately, he was the best qualified of our candidates, so I gave him the position.

He disappeared a few months later.

pikachu-tattooAdd that experience to what I went through with The Broken Poet with his Pikachu neck tat and I think I come by my reluctance to accept overtly placed tattoos honestly.  There’s a lil example of what a Pikachu looks like, in case you need a refresher…no pics of the BP, sorry.  Although, the guy in that pic is a tasty lil nugget, eh?  I wonder what’s wrong with him.  By the way, can anyone tell me why people lose their shit over this Pikachu fella?  We’re talking about people who should be looking forward to being adults and being taken seriously…yet they won’t let go of this childish imagery.  I think it’s self sabotage, but I’d probably just bore you talking about that.  Plus, I think I’m already pretty far off topic.

Back to Vulture and I, chatting away about how out of control tattoos have gotten.  They seem to be less meaningful these days and more of a way of compensating for…I have no idea what.  I realize that I’m probably being listened to by people who are exceedingly tattooed as we stand there in line…nevertheless, I persist, moving into how when taken in the scheme of facial tattoos the neck tattoos look almost modest.

Almost.

But nothing says “Bad Judgement” like a facial tattoo, I speculate as the line starts moving forward.

We get inside and find seats.  Vulture and I somehow separated.  Little Buddy tries to steer around the leaning over people to shout at each other above the music mess that could become, but we wouldn’t have it.  There’s just enough time to get a beer at the upstairs bar before the Opening Act comes on.  The crowd isn’t too densely populated.  There’s a few seats available and the mosh area in front just has a few stragglers standing around.  It’s an all girl band, which prompts me to take a moment to text D-Slice up in Seattle, since she is in an all girl Nirvana cover band.  They are a little hard for my taste, but it’s a good opening band, getting the crowd energized with songs like the one that I can only assume from the aggressive hand gestures is called “Fuck You”.  The guitarist looked like a wuzzle (copyright:  LB) of Sia and Myrtle Snow from American Horror Story:  Coven.  Her hair was probably 18 inches long, curly and radiating outward from her head.  It was pretty amazing to watch.

adam-antThe Opening Act finishes up and his Adam Ant-ness takes the stage.

Two words:  The Hat.

Here’s, also, a man that likes his tattoos.

He’s not been one to shy away from theatrical make up, either.

It all adds up to quite a stage presence.  Particularly for a man in his early 60s.  I typically can’t hear much of the words being sung at concerts, unless someone actually paid attention to what was going on at the sound check.  I get the gist of the songs being played, but mostly I just hear bass and percussion.

Still, I couldn’t not watch him perform.  He’s not a great dancer, his big move was stepping up onto a speaker at the front of the stage and bringing the other leg up into an exaggerated step class maneuver.  I mean, that’s nowhere near the jaw dropping bad moves you’re gonna see at a PAt Benetar concert, so he has that going for him.  It was just a magnetism about him that held my attention.

adam-ant-2Well, that and LB’s comment about how much he looked like the lovechild of Capt Jack Sparrow and – god, who did she say? – Edward Scissorhands, maybe?  Maybe it was just Johnny Depp.  But she was right.

The band had two drummers.  Actually, the stage was set up symmetrically with two drum kits at the back and then two guitarists flanking Adam And.  The band members were a melange of humanity and styles.  I had heard talk that one of the guitarists had died recently and that this might have been the replacement guy’s first show.

patsy-stone
Patsy Stone from AbFab

 

On one side of the stage, you had Patsy Stone absolutely killing it fabulously on drums and Keith Urban on guitar trying too hard to look like a rock and roll guy.  On the other side of the stage you had the other guitarist…the replacement guy, who my Little Buddy took quite a liking to.  I couldn’t say I could blame her.  He was nice and sexy.  Your parents’ basic rock and roll boyfriend nightmare.  The fourth member of the band?  I honestly have no recollection of him.  It’s weird.  I totally remember how the stage right side of the situation was like caricatures of famous people playing instruments and the other side was much more normal looking…but the drummer is completely lost to my memory.  Obviously, I’m distracted thinking about the sexy guitar guy…oops.

Now, here’s the best part.  At least in my mind:

If you look closely at the picture of Adam above, you can just make out under his right eye, Adam Ant’s facial tats.

Because:  FML and my life is perpetually spent trying to answer the question “What could possibly go wrong?” in living color.

Adam Ant

Music:  LIVE

This isn’t a bad way to end the “summer” concert season.

I’m sitting at my local watering hole after watching the third stern talking to that Hillary has given The Donald this election cycle and – somehow – they have managed to go from debate viewing to live music in about 20 minutes.

I’m ok with this.

That 20 minutes was just about long enough for me to reflect on a pretty light series of concerts this past summer.  Not dating anyone can tend to stall one’s live music ventures.

Or misadventures in the case of my summer of ’16.

Here’s the rundown:

Temper Trap was good…aside from that basic white girl throwing up three feet from me.  I hadn’t been to the Wonder Ballroom since seeing Feist there in what could have been the last century.  An old grade school pal and too infrequent coffee buddy of mine put the place back on my radar earlier this year when describing the experience of taking her daughter and her friends out to an all ages show there.  Badaboom-badabing, I’m cruising their calendar and come across this Aussie band that I’ve only ever kind of heard of.  I knew one song.

I bought two tickets.

I wasn’t sure if I was being optimistic about finding a date or if I was secretly preparing to indulge my grumpy old man-ness by insulating myself from people who were lacking about three decades too little life experience to safely get too close to me.

It occurred to me later that I sure hoped it was the former because in a General Admission venue, protecting two “seats” could prove challenging.

It was the latter.  A fact that really stung once the poster child for birth control emptied her stomach next to me.

I think by the time I left the Echo and the Bunnymen concert at the Crystal Ballroom a couple of months later I was beginning to realize that it wasn’t the near-unknown or nostalgic bands from my childhood (who refused to play their classics instead of stuff released within the last 10 years, incidentally) that really had me feeling I had squandered the summer’s live music opportunities.  It was the fact that I had squandered the summer’s live music opportunities.  Usually, I can be counted on to randomly pop into a show that I happen by.  And you just know how good that show is gonna be if you can buy a ticket at the box office while the opening band is still playing.  But sometimes you find a real sleeper that you enjoy.

That hadn’t happened this summer.

Mostly because I was still grinding my nose at the Zeeb and that had me working Friday and Saturday nights until 11:00 or later.

And I was insisting to myself that that was ok.

No.

But in addition to missing random opportunities, I had also missed some of my favorite bands that had rolled through town this summer in pretty rare appearances.

Tears for Fears.

Morrissey.  (Sorry, LB…)

Cashed Out, a Johnny Cash cover band.

Willie Nelson.  Yes, I would have loved seeing that old codger!

Countless opportunities to see Life During Wartime, a Talking Heads cover band.

Pink Martini.

So, I’m not sure what my mindset was when I walked into Echo…but I know I had an agenda:  Hear them perform my favorites.  End of agenda.  Ironically, I had tried to get tickets earlier and couldn’t and then the week before the concert there were magically tickets available.

I should have taken notice of that little harbinger.

I get there late, and the place is deserted.  The Little Buddy and her 2.0 are at the front between the stage and the bar.  How can this be bad?

Except.

There’s about a football field worth of empty space between the doors and the minimal crowd.

But the opening band hadn’t begun yet, so maybe people were making a legit date night of it and were having dinner beforehand.  And then the opening band began.

I really – sincerely – wish that they hadn’t done that.

I try not to criticize people who do things that I absolutely cannot do.  Performing live is one of those things I cannot do.  This is not to be confused with people who sing Karaoke.  I openly enjoy their shortcomings.  Because I could do the same and wisely choose not to.  You’re welcome.

I will say that this band – Coastal Fish or something – played every song like their plane was going down and they just wanted one more jam together before the end.  But they didn’t seem to be playing together.  They were all jamming and none of their efforts really seemed to be in concert with one another’s.

So, it was kind of painful.

Almost as painful as the VIP section that was directly in front of where we were standing.

And had two people in it.

No, wait…another couple just barely showed up during the opening band’s set.  While the Coastal Fish ignored one another on stage, I got to watch these two couples do the same in the VIP area.  They literally stood about as far from one another as possible.  It was awkward.

But then Echo et al took the stage and…nothing up there really changed.

Ian McCulloch pretty much phoned it in.  I think he really just showed up for the barstool full of cocktails at the back of the stage, which he called a Crystal Ballroom minion up to refill during their set.  He was openly smoking a cigarette on stage.  Once they finally got around to performing Bedbugs and Ballyhoo, I got on my Dancing Horse and left early.

I heard the next day that LB and 2.0 had pretty much done the same.  I had lingered in Lola’s – which is one floor below the main stage – and watched another song on screen, so they may have actually paroled themselves before I left the building.

So, that was it.  2016 was looking like a live music let down for old Xtopher.

Until last night.

There I was, deflecting The Silver Fox’s invitation to The Big Legrowlski to watch the debate.  I wasn’t sure they were airing this one, since I was sure that they had live music scheduled to start at 8:00.  His Foxiness reminded me that the debate only lasted 90 minutes, but I was not sold on the reality of the transition from politics to live music within such a tight window.

Now, I know they can do it.

Plus, he had – in classic Fox style – double booked himself and was going to be leaving early to watch a Portland Timbers match at their stadium up the road.  But after a few grumpy texts and a couple of hours to cool off, his Fox-timism won me over and I joined him there just before the debate.

Is it frightening or funny when the debates are more outrageously bizarre than the Saturday Night Live sketches about them?

I’m going with scary…

But, now it was showtime!

Since I had been abandoned by The Fox, I decided to stick around and see what my little taphouse turned bro-bar could do with live music.img_1533

My advice?  If you have a chance to see John Hull live, do it.  If you don’t, go to his SoundCloud and give him a listen.  Totally worth it.  If you like the same type of music I do.

Which is the best music, after all.

After his first couple of songs, I had a run-in with my own trademark awkwardness when he introduced himself and…oops, I mistook “Any John Hull fans out there?” for “Any John Holmes fans out there?”, which was quite the non-sequitur and caused my head to snap up from my phone in a not-too-subtle manner.

I think he noticed.  I was sitting at the front table.

After his first couple of songs – his own – he performed a couple of covers:

Jason Mraz with some Bob Marley mixed in to incredible effect.  Gotta love an acoustic mash up.

Sting – Roxanne.  Which he really made his own.

For some reason, he decided to ask the crowd if there were any requests.  All three of us.  But he wasn’t talking to his girlfriend, who was sitting at the other front row table.  He was talking to the woman in the back of the room, who occasionally had the bar manager and owner sitting with her.  I had been invited to that table, but passed, because E.O.G. and also, a friend of the bar from the bakery across the street had dropped off a box of their day olds and I was busy resisting that temptation.  I think we all know how that would work out for me if I was within arm’s reach of those poor pastries.  Anyway, Back Of The Room gal choked on coming up with a request, so I suggested some Tracy Chapman.

One great acoustic performer covering another seemed like a legit request.

He didn’t know any titles off the top of his head but gamely told me to suggest one and maybe he could make his way through it.  This is where he met my trademark awkwardness when I inadvertently insulted him by requesting…Give Me One Reason To Stay Here.

Oops.

I think he noticed.

 

Instead he played a Death Cab for Cutie song – I Will Follow You Into The Dark – and proceeded to give us PNW slobs an education in Death Cab trivia.  Ok, one thing a San Diego boy might want to remember is that while, yes…Death Cab is also “kind of” known as Postal Service, they are from Bellingham, WA and we probably already knew that both bands shared a frontman but were in fact different bands.

But the cover was still solid…what this guy might have lacked in trivia accuracy, he more than made up for in just being a guy you want to sit and listen to for a beer or two.

Abdicating music selection to the crowd for another attempt at a random pick, he got Sweet Caroline as a cover suggestion…which I thought was pretty mean.  Not everyone can trot out a Neil Diamond.  Not even the cover bands that I’ve seen can deliver consistently.  Damn if this guy didn’t end up bringing it home.  Even getting the crowd – which had grown to double digits at this point – involved in the sing a long component of the performance.

I know that won’t be my last live show of 2016 – not with the holidays coming up! – but not a bad way to transition out of summer shows and get me excited for what the rest of fall and winter have to offer.

Then I can gear up for 2017 and hopefully put a little intent behind my music experiences and get my live show mojo back!

I feel tempted to go back and capitalize all of the seasons like good grammar dictates they should be, but then I’d be proof reading my work and that would degrade my stream of consciousness style…but I just want you all to know that I thought about it.

Love and pizza, yo!

Music:  LIVE

Golden Angels

golden-gurls

Yep.  This is how I spent my Friday night.

It was a totally procrastinated cum spur of the moment event.  A couple of friends put this on my radar simply as a drag version of the Golden Girls, called Golden Gurls.

I promised to attend.

Links were sent so I could easily purchase my ticket, my friends know me so well.  Regardless, the apathy still set in.  I swear, in my past life I was a Roman named Procrastinates.

Well, after yesterday’s Bruce Springsteen debacle, I needed a boost…this was it.  And here’s an online ticket sales opportunity that delivered.

Same day.

Granted, we’re obviously talking different levels of entertainment here, but entertainment that is accessible certainly has a premium.

My Little Buddy was the one that originally suggested I attend, and like every other show she has suggested it was a gem – albeit a raw one.  And as far as recommendations from her go, it was up against some pretty stiff competition, from sure things like machete Star Wars to decidedly locals only events like musical versions of Road House and Heathers as well as Lost Boys:  Live.

Are you sensing a high camp theme?

Add in that with the Little Buddy, one can always count on a cheery and gabby pre-show dinner or drinks and you don’t even have to lure me with the fact that this is in a decommissioned church.  Camp needs its inherent irreverence, eh?

The experience last night took me back to the early 90s in Long Beach when I would hit my local gay dance bar for their Beer Bust on Sundays.  They were a dance bar, but being two stories, the dance floor was upstairs and the ground floor level was a basic bar where you could play pool, watch an occasional performance by a local band or just Stand & Model for the other guys.  If you were really unlucky (me, obvs) then some gross old man would favor you with a cheesy pick up line like, “OK, I’ve got to ask what cover I’ve seen you on”.  FFS, at least I’m not that guy.

the-del-rubio-tripletsThe upper level wasn’t just for dancing…not that there wasn’t plenty of that on Friday and Saturday nights, but on Sundays you paid $5 for your cup at the door and drank for hours and the upstairs was transformed into a showplace for acts like The Campers and The Del Rubio Triplets.  I’m posting a pic of them on the right, but you really should at least click the Del Rubio Triplets link because it’s a clip of them on…The Golden Girls.

Can I bring shit full circle or can I?

Man.  I just got sad thinking about them.

The Del Rubio Triplets had a 50+ year career in entertainment.  That I was seeing them in their golden years for $5 (along with all you can drink shit beer) at a gay bar in the LBC was a pretty crazy thing.  But that’s what camp is, right?

They were camp versions of themselves.

Anyway, you know Bette Davis would have been even more of an icon if she would have gotten to that same level of awareness…the last Del Rubio sister died at age 89 in 2011 and it both amazed me and saddened me to hear that news.  Amazed because I was seeing her and her sisters perform in their early 70s and saddened because their death reminds me of the youth I playfully misspent and have left only in my memory.

Anyhoo…that’s just a little reminiscing to set up how much I appreciate these little culture outings that my Little Buddy sets up for me.

The play itself – well, what can I say?  Minimalist scenery and propage.  Questionable writing and dialogue.  Cues…what are those again?  Professionalism and showmanship might be words that every member of the cast missed on their SATs…but it was a blast to observe.  Go see it, if you can.  For every wrinkle in the production, they make it an inside joke and let you in on it as the audience.

Camp.  To.  The.  Core.

It only runs through tonight, 9/17, but I am assured that the Golden Gurls will be back for their annual holiday show, so if you can’t make it tonight then you can see them at Christmas.

Love and Pizza, yo.

Golden Angels