Saturday, December 28, 2013

Now that I have…

     Now that I have a little time to take a breath and a short break from packing up and getting ready for my major, life-changing move to Florida, I thought I would sit down and catch y’all up on what’s shakin’ here. 
Just 'cause I thought he was pretty.
     I had intended to carry on with explaining some of the books I listed the last time I posted on here, but I had somewhat of a revelation yesterday. Yes, I’m afraid more mad ramblings are coming. Who knows where this is going to end up? I’ll try and get back to the why on the book list. Wish me luck. 

     Anyway, here are some of the things that have been running rampant through my mind this week. One, I’m going to be working on an old project as soon as this move is over. I know, some of you are not going to like this, but the next book about Rich and Johnny is going to be put on hold for a bit. Don’t worry, I’ll get back to it, but I have something I started over a year ago that I really want to get back to, and yesterday I had a spark, well, more like an explosion in my head, to return and get it done. This is something I've wanted to do, but I kinda ran out of steam with it. 

     The thing about going back to it is that I've learned so much in the last year, thanks to so many good writers and great betas. I’m glad I didn't finish it as I looked at it again. When I went back and read it again, I saw where I will change things, cut things and really pull it all together. Put a good polish on it, which is only going to make it better. 

     I’m not going to say too much more about it, but I will say it brings two of my greatest passions together. 
     Okay, now back to my book list. Where did I leave off…? 

     Maurice by E. M. Forester. Damn, what can I say? I found this book quite by accident. I think I was about twelve when I read it. It was a very confusing time for me. It is hard to come to terms with your sexuality when everyone and everything around you is telling you that you are wrong. Bad. Evil. Going to hell. This book actually grounded me somehow. Made me feel like I wasn't alone and that I wasn't quite so different somehow. Very narrative, which was the style of the day, but he painted such vivid pictures for me. Loved it. Still have a copy to this day. 

     When ‘The Lord Won’t Mind’, by Gordon Merrick came out, I couldn't wait to read it. I had to wait almost six years to be able to, however. Why? Well because I couldn't find a copy in the small town I grew up in. Why? Are you kidding? A book about homosexual love? Like that was ever going to happen. I remember the drug store close to my house always carried the top ten best sellers on the New York Times list… all but THAT one. It was, as far as I know, the first gay romance book to ever hit the number one spot on that list. I think that was the first contemporary M/M romance book I ever read. I was a fan from then on. I read everything Gordon Merrick wrote after that. 

     Armistead Maupin. What is there to say about this guy? If you've never picked up any of his books, you have missed out, big time! His ‘Tales of the City’ series is so wonderful I can’t help but want to jump right into them all over again. It is such a true accounting of what it was like to be gay in the 80’s. They are cute, funny, emotional, stock full of characters you fall in love with; you can’t help but connect with them. They also made a TV series out of this series of books. Very controversial at the time, also worth checking out, but I’d read the books first. 

     Okay, now for those of you who tend to like the BDSM world, listen up. Some of you are going to laugh your asses off, but this is all true. Too weird to have been made up. Amy Vanderbilt’s book of Etiquette. Of course my mother used that other etiquette book and although she taught me many things from that one, she never made me sit down and read it either. Mrs. Vanderbilt’s however, I was made to read. By whom, you may ask? Sir Paul, one of the elite leaders in the gay male leather community here in Atlanta, circa 1979. This harkens back to the era where EVERYONE started off on the bottom and worked their way up. You were taught by doing from the submissive side. No ifs ands or buts about it. You didn't want to do it, then fine, be on your way. Just don’t expect to be welcomed into that very exclusive, secretive community. 

     Yes, the big bad Leather Dom made me sit and read Amy Vanderbilt’s book of Etiquette from cover to cover and then would test me on the damn thing. That was how he started ‘training’ newbies. Some of you may wonder what the hell does that have to do with leather or anything about the BDSM community and I’m here to tell you, a whole hellova lot! Anyone who knows leather protocols can read that book and know exactly what I’m talking about. It relates directly to Old School training (I still hate Guy Baldwin for inventing the term ‘Old Guard’. The pansexual community has taken it and twisted it into something vile, if you ask me.) Anyway, there is a lot to be garnered from that book, leather or not. 

     The last book I want to mention is Anthony Bordain’s Kitchen Confidential. If you ever wanted to know what it is like to cook professionally, or want to know what goes on in a commercial kitchen, then you need to read this book. It is sooooo true. 

     Sorry I missed doing the blog last week, but I've been a bit occupied with getting this move underway. It is one thing to move across town, but entirely something when you move several hundred miles away. It isn't like you can just go back and forth until you have everything. Then you have to get all the vet records, doctors records, insurance stuff transferred, and the list seems to go on and on. Such a pain. But the pay-off is going to be fantastic. I am so excited I can hardly stand myself! 

     I am not sure if I will be able to do a blog next week or not. I’m not counting on it since next Friday is the official move day. I will have a lot going on next weekend, so I may not make it. If not, happy New Year, everyone. Be safe. 
If you don't know by now, I love Gio Dell. He inspires me every day.
     Again, try and do something nice for someone. It really isn't painful. Trust me. 

     Later y’all, 

      Max ;-)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Another Week, Another Blog…NOT

     I’m starting to think this whole blog thing might be becoming just a wee bit easier for me. What I mean is, I’m starting to have more ideas earlier about what to ramble on about, instead of panicking as I face a blank page the day of posting. This one came to me earlier in the week from a post on FB. 

     If you follow me on Facebook, or anyone else in this small corner of the literary field, you couldn't possibly have missed that list that went around, asking for the top ten books that made a difference in your life or some-such thing. I think I got pinged on that one about ten times, so I finally broke down and did a list. I also stated that I wasn't going to tag anyone else, but everyone seemed have done it already and quite honestly, I was really kind of sick of seeing it. So, here is the list that I made. 

1. The Pearl by John Steinbeck; Not sure why this has stuck with me all these years, but it has. 
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; This was a powerful story and I liked Boo. 
3. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell; I can’t remember how many times I’ve read this book. 
4. Cry to Heaven by Anne Rice; I should actually just list this author as there are so many of her books that I've read that have impacted me in one way or another. 
5. Maurice by E. M. Forster; Major change in my life after this book. I wasn't alone. 
6. The Lord Won’t Mind by Gordon Merrick; Another author that should be listed. This book though really changed me. It was also the first gay themed book to hit number one on the New York Times best seller list. 
7. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin; I loved this whole series. They were just fun.
8. Etiquette by Amy Vanderbilt; Yeah, I know there are some who are shaking their heads over this one. I have my reasons. 
9. Fannie Farmer’s Cookbook; by (duh) Fannie Farmer. What can I say? I’m a foodie geek. 
10. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bordaine; I actually cheered when this book came out. It is all so true! 

     What does this have to do with anything you may ask? Well, just chill out for a minute and I’ll tell you…sheesh… There are many things on this list that shaped, formed, and directed me through my life as a young person/adult. That’s why this list reveals a lot about me. 

     You may have noticed that my list includes cookbooks. Yeah, I’m that kind of foodie-geek and always have been. As I get ready to pack up and move, again, I look at my bookshelf and am now glad that I only unpacked about a quarter of my books from when I moved last year. I knew this wasn't going to be a permanent residence, so I knew this move was coming, but still, I don’t have to like it. The reason I mention this, is that I only have a few cookbooks to pack away.

     As crazy as it seems to some, I would say seventy percent of the books I own are cookbooks. Quite a few were gifts over the years, but there are quite a few that I purchased myself. Now here is where it gets a little weird and I know some won’t get it, but I almost never buy a new cookbook. I want them to be well used. Loved. I want to see the stains on the pages. Pages that stick together from previous owners concoctions. If there are notes in the margins, I’ll probably buy it no matter what kind it is. If I see a used bookstore, chances are I will go directly to the cookbook section. Yeah, I know. It’s a little weird, but that’s who I am. 

     I’d like to explain ‘Cry to Heaven’ if I may. Yes, it was a wonderful historical book that I've read several times, and still enjoy it to this day. It had all the elements that I love. Venice, so romantic, classical music, hot sexual situations, and then that something special that fascinated me, drew me into the book like few ever had. There is a passage where one of the main characters was noticing a man’s hand. The description of just that hand had me drooling. The power of words, right? 
     Now I've always had an attraction to hirsute men. Don’t know why, just wired that way. I remember being enthralled by my Uncle Mac’s very hairy legs (uncle by marriage). I was about five years old at the time. Although I didn't understand the attraction, it was there even then. I guess it didn't hurt that he looked a lot like Tyrone Powers either. Of course I would be remiss if I didn't mention ‘Interview with a Vampire’. That was the first Anne Rice book I read, and fell in love with her then. 

     My grandmother was born in 1880 on the family farm in Tennessee. She was somewhere towards the middle of the pack of thirteen children. I still remember going to that family farm, which is still in the family, by the way, when I was very young. Her eldest brother was still alive at the time, and very old. As I try to remember, I think he was somewhere between twelve to fifteen years older than my grandmother. With those figures in mind, he was born not long after the Civil War. I would sit on the porch while he would tell stories of when he was growing up and all the things that our family endured and how they had barely been able to keep the farm. This led to my fascination about the Civil War era and the traditions of the Old South. Think of the Uncle Remus stories. Oh, I forgot…NOTE: for those who don’t know about Uncle Remus, you should check them out. In all our trying to be politically correct, poor Uncle Remus and his teaching stories have pretty much been censored right out of our history books, all because he was perceived as an outdated ‘Uncle Tom’ type. Hey, it was part of history. We need to embrace it, accept it, and take the wonderful words of wisdom in those very intuitive tales. 

     To say I am a fan of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind would be a major understatement. I remember the first time I read the book. Here is a little story from my childhood that y’all might find amusing. I was in fifth grade which made me ten years old. The new big modern library had just been finished in my home town, which wasn't far from where I lived. 

     To truly understand my love of reading and books, you would have to understand my mother. She was constantly putting a book in my hand. Up until the age of four, I was read to constantly. My mother, sister, father, grandmother, nanny (yes I had one) and various aunts and uncles, were always reading to me. My mother and sister started to make me read to them when I was about four along with forcing me to tie my own shoes. Very demanding women in my family, but I digress. (There is a reason why I call this ramblings, remember?) 

     Off we go to the new library to check it out. The place was huge to a ten year old. Row upon row of books, as far as I could see. I’m sure my mouth was hanging open. My mother set me loose to go and find a book or two. I was first directed to the kids section. I looked around and immediately turned my nose up. These books are for little kids, I remember thinking to myself. 

     Next stop was the ‘Young Adult’ section. After looking around I saw a few things that kind of interested me, but nothing that I wanted to be my very first book from the new library. I wanted something special. For the life of me, I will never forget that day. I can remember the smell of the place and all its newness with the scent only old books can have floating above it. The way the brick floor felt under my feet and all the light from the high windows. 

     Then I saw it. There on a table in the middle of the ‘adult’ reading section was a display of Gone with the Wind. It had recently been re-released into theaters and I guess the library thought it timely to display it. That was it. I went and picked up a copy, of which there weren't many, and took it to the checkout counter. The lady looked at the book, and then looked at me over her half cat-eye glasses, the little chain that held them draped around her neck. I remember thinking how pinched her face looked. 

     “Don’t you think this may a bit above your reading level?” She asked. Her name tag said Silvia Shipe. 

     That is how much of an impact this had on me. I still remember her name. When I said no, her face scrunched up. She decided that she knew better and suggested some other books that would be more ‘age appropriate’. I remember two that she suggested. Little House on the Prairie, which I’d already read, and the Borrower series, which I’d already read. When I informed her that I’d already read all of those a few years back, it was clear to me that she thought I was lying. 

     Anyway, she said that she thought it best that I go and choose something else, and took the book away from me. Poor, poor Silvia. Little did she know what a can of worms she had just opened up. 

     I went right to my mother and told her what happened. I knew from the look on her face, her mouth going kind of crooked, that poor, poor, Silvia Shipe was in for it. My mother took me by the hand and walked me right back up to the counter. She addressed the pinched faced lady by asking her what right she had to dictate who had the right to read a certain type of book? I’ll never forget the shocked look on that poor, poor woman’s face. My mother demanded that she give me the book back and check it out to me. 

     I went through that book like a house-afire. There was one point when my mother found me still reading at midnight and took it away from me for the night. I could easily see my great uncle Dewitt in that story, which may be one reason why I could feel that book. He just seemed to fit there. Of course now I know he couldn't have been, but then, I just knew it to be true. 

     When I returned the book, ol’-pinch-faced Shipe wasn't there, but Mrs. Laughlin was. She had been my teacher in second grade and I had loved her. I handed the book over and she didn't bat an eye. Instead, she put her elbows on the desk and asked me to tell her about the book. See why I loved her? I think I was there about an hour telling her all about it. 
The End...get it?  ha ha ha
     Okay people, I’m going to leave it off there. I’m going to make two more installments about my book list. I may not be around much on FB for the next few weeks as I’ll be packing it all up for my move to Florida! YAY!!! But I’ll try and keep the blog posts going during this time. In keeping with the season, remember it won’t hurt you none to be nice or do something nice for someone. I’m going to give you a little example of how this works. A friend of mine and his partner recently went out to breakfast. Someone anonymously bought them their breakfast. In turn, they went and gave the money that they would have spent on breakfast to the Lost-n-Found so that a kid could have a winter coat. Life would be so much nicer and a lot more exciting if we all did this, don’t you think? 

     Go forth and have a great week! 

     Max ;-)
Because I can.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Oh Hell, Now What?

     I was sitting here this week, writing away, while in the back of my mind I was stressing over what I was going to blog about this week. Last week it was rather emotional and not exactly what I would call ‘up-lifting’, and I wanted to change that. Nothing drab, please. Enough is enough, after all. 

     I thought I had an idea and then completely forgot what it was. It’s funny how I can remember things from over thirty years ago and can’t remember a single idea from just a day or so ago. It is rather frustrating. 

     So…here I sit, rambling on as usual, about nothing in particular. Then I see a picture on FB that brings back a distant memory from years past. Then another, and then another. You see, for those who don’t know, I worked in the food industry for many, many years. There isn't enough time for me left on this earth to tell every story of my experiences while in the kitchen. Ask anyone who has ever worked in food service and they will also have more than a few stories to tell, I’m sure. 

     I've decided to concentrate my ramblings specifically on the holiday. Let me tell you, there isn't a busier time in the hospitality industry than the holidays. There is usually party after party after party. I worked in both hotels and country clubs, and man, they never seemed to stop. From the day after Thanksgiving, I knew I was going to be busy and have plenty of overtime available. Not too bad for the wallet! 

     Now, this one hotel I worked for had a customer that always had their big parties and important functions there. They also put up all their VIPs there, so I’m sure they were pretty tight with the sales department. They were a major boating company, known worldwide, and quite the big spenders. They have a massive work force and each year they would have their company Christmas party at the hotel. I looked forward to this party more than any other. Why, you ask? HA! They had the biggest, butchest, blue collar men around working for them, that’s why. You think I’m crazy? Well… don’t answer that. 

     So when they would ask for volunteers to do a carving station or something on the buffet line, you can damned well be sure my hand was the first one up! I looked forward to that party every year I worked there. Now it was no big secret why I always volunteered for these parties, and I was used to the ribbing and the laughing that went on when I volunteered. Back then, like now, I never hid who I was or what I liked. If someone didn't like it, fuck ‘em. Let them turn fruit into tropical flowers. Ha. Basically I had skills that were not very common and I made sure to use them. 
Not mine, but you get the idea. Yeah, I did this kind of work.
     Anyway, I digress. I mentioned that this boat company had blue collar workers right? Well, they weren't just your average blue collar workers. These men were skilled craftsmen. Not your everyday run of the mill redneck contract labor. No, these guys were a high quality type of blue collar guys. Educated, for the most part, polite, well behaved but still with that edge to them that I found irresistible. 

      Side note: There was another company who also had their big Holiday party at the same hotel. A huge mobile home manufacturer and they also had a large employee base. They also had a lot of blue collar types. The big difference was theirs were total rednecks. Let me just say that the tooth to tattoo ratio was a bit skewed. They had way more tattoos than teeth. Never volunteered for those parties, nor did anyone else. They were just awful. 

     I forget what year it was, but I’m sure it was pre 9/11. Anyway, I was given the carving station for the roast beef, the best station I could have gotten. I think part of the reason I got it was that I had, and still do actually, a Shun carving knife. If you know anything about knives, you’ll know that this is like the Rolls Royce of knives. Now you may ask why that particular job would be so desirable to me. Well, duh! Men like meat. They like red meat. Those hot men were always lined up in front of that big ol’hunk o’meat! Are you kidding? I ain't no dummy. 
     So here is where I need to tell you that this boat company was a major employer in the area. They treated their employees right. Rarely did you hear of a job opening or of anyone leaving unless they were retiring. They pulled out all the stops for these people, but they also understood these guys. They didn't insist on everyone getting all gussied up. All they asked is that they dress nicely. In other words, leave them jeans with holes in ’em at home. I have to admit, most everyone did wear jeans, but they were good jeans, and they wore collared shirts. They all cleaned up pretty good, if I do say so myself. 

     There I was, the night of their big Christmas party, carving that huge piece of beef, chatting with the guys, and yes, even their wives when they showed up, having a grand ol’ time. Then I looked up to the next in line and my eyes were met with the bluest eyes I think I’d ever seen. A big bright smile, surrounded by a short, clipped, dark brown beard, completed my idea of what a perfect man should look like. He also had on a big fluffy red Santa hat trimmed out in white fur. I know my heart skipped a beat right about then. 

     I asked him how he liked his meat, as I swallowed hard. He said he liked it rare with some au jus and some horseradish, which of course I had. I sliced him a few pieces, not daring to speak. I just knew I’d squeak if I opened my mouth. I gave him his plate of beef and smiled. He took the plate and winked at me. I just about pissed myself. I watched him walk off and take his seat. 

     He was sitting close to the back of the room, not far from where the buffet line was located, so I could watch him throughout the evening. He came back twice more, each time knocking me over with that killer smile. The last time he handed me a rolled up bill. He thanked me with that deep rumbling voice of his. You know, the type that vibrated through his chest each time he spoke. He had that deep Southern drawl which I thought might be from Alabama. I took the bill somewhat dumbfounded. No one else had offered a tip, and to be quite honest, I nor anyone else expected one. Well, with the exception of the bartenders. I stuck the bill in my pocket. Before long it was time to break down the buffet so I didn't give it a second thought. In my mind I said goodbye to the big hottie, satisfied with the knowledge that I had some serious fantasy material to work with later, if you know what I mean. 

     Later when I got home I emptied my pockets and there was the rolled up bill. I unrolled it—it turned out to be a five, by the way—and there was a slip of paper. I remember my hands shaking a bit. On that paper was his name and phone number and a message, ‘give me a call sometime’. I didn't know whether to jump up and down or pass out from shock. His name was Johnny. 

     If any of you have read my blog before you know I talk quite candidly about sex, and have even alluded to my own sexual exploits. Right here. Right now, I’m going to say…Johnny and I dated for several months and during those months, there wasn't much we didn't try. As I call it, ‘flip-flopped and fly’. We both seemed to enjoy everything equally so there was never any ‘I’m only a top’ kinda crap. There are plenty of sex scenes in my books that could quite easily describe some of my very own…experiences with Johnny, let’s say. I’m even going to go as far as to say there are several things that Johnny and I got into that are NOT in any of my books. Doesn't mean that they might not make an appearance sometime down the road, but…some things are just too personal. Or maybe not. 

     Johnny moved back to Alabama, where he was indeed from, when his father was diagnosed with cancer to help out. He was the youngest of seven, it turned out, and the only one who wasn't married (big surprise there) and didn't have a bunch of kids. So it fell on him to go and help his mother and father out. 

     We tried to stay in touch. I even drove down there once, staying in a motel that had seen better days, just to see him. Eventually we lost contact. I often think of Johnny when writing some scenes and I smile, thinking, ‘damn, that sure was fun’. 

     Now…for some of those doubters out there who say some of the things I write about just aren’t possible or true, I call foul. Well, actually I’m a little more colorful than that but you get the general idea. To those, mostly women I’ve noticed, I say…when you grow a fucking dick, you just let me know, okay? Then we’ll talk. 
     I hope you liked my little jaunt down memory lane. I have a fantastic Thanksgiving story that I’m saving for just the right book. I’ll let you know when I put that one in a book. A word of warning though…make sure you've used the bathroom first. If not, I’m sure you’re gonna piss yourself laughing. And yep, it’s all true. 

     'Tis the season right? Do me a small favor, please. Do something nice for someone else. Doesn't have to be much. Remember, a simple smile can make someone’s day.    

     Till next week… 

     Max ;-)

Gio Dell. One of the most positive people I know. A constant inspiration to me.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

My Time of Reflection


     Today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of World AIDS Day, as declared by the World Health Organization. This was done when the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, wouldn't even utter the word. 

     I felt I needed to say a little something today. One reason was that I felt I had to explain myself as to why I do not send out Christmas cards or holiday cards. Why? Well, a good friend, Dani Mass, asked that I send her a holiday card. It stopped me short. I hesitated. In the end I didn't tell her why I didn't do cards. At least, not anymore. 

     So…here goes… 

     In 1989 I was living in Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital, having moved there for a job that didn't last. Never fear, I persevered and got another job and had a grand old time. Of course, this was a difficult time for any gay man. The threat of AIDS was ever present in our minds as our government sat on its proverbial ass, doing nothing. There was fear in the eyes of most gay men in those days. 

     It was the gay male population that took control of the situation and demanded that something be done. We educated ourselves as best we could with the information we had. We took care of each other when we were sick. We held the hands of our friends while they lay dying, their families having abandoned them long ago. We made sure they had food to eat. Hell, there were even fundraisers to help feed and get vet care for their pets! 

     This was a strange time for the gay man. We were all scared for our lives but proud that we had pulled together, rallied for our cause and were slowly making headway. It just wasn't fast enough to save so many lives. You see, the only medication available was AZT and it was almost as bad as the disease itself. I don’t think a day went by when there wasn't either a fundraiser going on, a lecture on how to be safe with the latest knowledge or a funeral to go to. 

     The day after Thanksgiving in 1989 will be one I will never forget. Being the ritualistic individual I am, I always sat down and did my Christmas cards that Friday after turkey day. I got a good bottle of wine and went to it. That year was no different. I opened the wine, one of my favorites then, a lovely red, Robert Mondavi Merlot. I opened the two boxes of cards. Two boxes that was for all my gay friends and another box for the few family members that I stayed in contact with, and of course those pesky straight friends. He he he… Got my address book out and started. 

     The further I got into my address book, the more and more names were crossed out. I stopped filling out the cards and went through the entire address book, crossing out the names of all the friends I had lost that year. By the time I was done, more than two-thirds of them were crossed out. The more I crossed off, the worse I felt. 

     To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, it kinda goes like this. There were eighteen men in the Rook Card Club I belonged to. We meet once a month for a potluck and to play cards. That day, half were either dead or dying. The Gay Men’s Chorus of D.C. was decimated. There were over 30 dead. The Leathermen of D.C. was disbanded because there weren't enough members left of the hundred or so. And so on. The numbers just kept adding up. 

     I picked up both boxes of cards and tossed them into the trash. I poured the bottle of wine down the drain. Got my coat and went out and got totally shit-faced. I stayed drunk for three days. I called off work sick and did nothing but cried and stayed drunk. 

Since that mournful day in 1989 I've never sent out a Christmas card. 

     It sometimes surprises me when I hear or read something and I get a strong emotional reaction. I do the same thing with smells, too. Certain things just send me back to another time and place, and I avoid them like the plague. That old Aqua Net hairspray? That is one of the worst. The smell takes me back to the day when my mother told my sister and I that she and my father were getting a divorce. It wasn’t so much of an issue for me because I didn’t fully understand it, but my sister fell completely apart. My mother was fixing her 1960’s hair and using that hairspray when she told us. I know it may sound odd, but that smell brought it all back like it was a movie playing in my head. 
AIDS Quilt. Each panel is the size of a casket.

     I guess this is where I get my key out to the express escalator to the top of my soap box…hold onto your jewelry! 

     For those who are against Obama Care, pay very close attention here. Did you know that insurance companies could refuse anyone who was HIV positive or had AIDS? If they did accept them, they made them wait up to two years to provide any medical coverage for HIV/AIDS and that included any medications. 

     Why is it that our government sees fit to pay the drug companies to send these same life-saving medications to Africa and not force those same drug companies to provide these drugs to Americans? I gotta ask, what’s wrong with this picture? 

     In our not-so-great state of Georgia, the local government turned down the funds to expand Medicare, purely for political purposes. What did that do? Well, first off it denied seniors the added benefits to keep their drug prices low. It did away with dental coverage for children. Oh, and of course, it meant those living with HIV/AIDS were not able to afford life-saving medications. Do they have to worry? No, of course not. The STATE pays 100% of their health benefits, and their families. Am I the only one seeing this as a problem?  

     Okay, down escalator… 

     We are far from having this HIV/AIDS situation under control. What saved so many gay men’s lives was education. One of the largest school systems here decided they would try to teach abstinence instead. Yeah, well, we all know how that worked. What is really wrong with this picture is that parents are more than willing to let the public school system teach their kids the basic facts of life, which includes sex education. If I had kids, there would be no way in hell I’d leave it up to those ass-hats. Just sayin’. 

     I’d like to know how many of you have seen any type of public information about this day? Any announcements? Dedications? On the local TV stations here I’ve heard nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada. It is like it doesn’t exist. 

     I’m tellin’ y’all now, this is going to come back and bite everyone in the butt. The issue is still there and it isn’t going away anytime soon.

     So, today, I am dedicating it to the wonderful friends I've lost. The most creative, imaginative men who were artists, cabinet makers, pastry chefs, chefs, cooks, waiters, bartenders, landscape designers, musicians, telephone linemen, electricians, plumbers, accountants, architects, small business men… I salute you, I raise my glass and I remember your smiling, happy faces of so long ago. I wipe my eyes as I love you still. I miss you and wish I could hold you once again in my arms. 

     I remember…