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Monday, July 30, 2007

From Hot to Hotter to Hottest

Last night carried me through Phoenix. Hotter than bloody hell, it is. And that's just the guys. Namely, Jimmi and his partner, Darin, and two more really cool guys J&D who just might be moving to Portland! We had a yummy dinner and drinks (how do you spell Pomegranate Margarita???) -- despite lackluster service and a horrendous built-in gratuity charge -- at Fez on Central. We followed up dinner with more drinks (Lemon Drops this time) at Kobalt. The boys treated me like royalty again....with Jimmi and hubby coming all of the way out to Scottsdale to retrieve me and then returning me at the end of a great evening. As always, we had an excellent time. Thanks to all of my Phoenix friends for taking time out to spend it with me. You'll see the non-airbrushed pics here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pink Martini

So, do you want me to tell you that we're going to see these guys on Saturday evening.....outside, at the Oregon Zoo, under (hopefully) a beautiful, clear summer sky.....with friends.....and yummy food? If you haven't heard of Pink Martini, you should treat yourself. This is their newest CD, this is their second one, and this is their first....the one that set them on a fast road to success. I recommend the first. We're fortunate enough that they hail from Portland.
Sunday night will take me to Phoenix where I'm hoping to have dinner with Jimmi and Darin. I've promised to be on my best behavior which, if you know me, is going to be quite difficult. I hate behaving. It's so mundane. So overrated.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Our Neighborhood -- Home of Lap Dances and Fruitcakes

Pirate's Cove was known for years as The Sandy Jug. It's two blocks from our house. Really, it doesn't get much better than this. I mean, it's a phallic symbol and a strip club....all in one. Looks like a big old jug. Last week, the sign said something about them having little corn doggies on their menu. (Now, there's a reason to stop in.) It's the same sign that said "No Fruitcakes, Please" at Christmas. And here we are. Right in the middle of it. Gay as the fruitcakes are. I'm still trying to figure out the sign. It's like their phones have been ringing off of the hook with people wondering if they are still a strip club or not -- so they decided to tell everyone driving by so that, maybe, the phones will stop ringing. A few months back, they were advertising for "Dancers Wanted....Call Jody." Now, wouldn't you like to have that job? Anybody up for a visit? You can park at our place and walk up to "The Jug" (the former name and what everyone knows it by) from here. Who knows what you'll come home with. Maybe a corn doggie, a fruitcake, or a lap dance.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cruising Foreigners Visit Portland

Our friends from Philadelphia visited for the weekend. I think we wore them out. Even though we kept busy seeing everything we could in Portland, there was much that remained untouched. We introduced them to Portland's live and let live culture, Powell's Books, the Pittock Mansion, the Washington Park Rose Garden, the Pearl District, Hawthorne Street, Mt. Tabor, Newport Bay Restaurant on the Willamette River, every bridge we could find to cross, a nice walk around the Eastside Esplanade, a BBQ here at home, Rejuvenation Hardware, and another dinner outside at some good friends. Here are the pics. Ten of us are going on a Hawaii cruise in October....we had plenty of planning to get done. You've heard of rocking the boat? I'm afraid it may happen.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Do You Ever Get Tired?

Do you ever get tired of no please and thank you? Of honking horns in anger? Rolling of eyes in disgust? Fast cars in a hurry to go nowhere? Flippant remarks to fellow human beings? Arrogance that demands pleasing of self? Not speaking when you're spoken to? Cigarette butts tossed out of car windows? Children who scream and yell in public places and nothing is done about it? Trash left behind without regard? Speeding in and out of traffic to be the first? "Telling" others instead of "asking"? Blaming others instead of yourself? Noise, yelling, talking loudly, noise pollution? Groups or individuals demanding their own way at the expense of others? Money spent without regard or discretion? Tossing out half-finished expensive gourmet coffees? Children not being taught right from wrong or etiquette by adults who don't know any better? Lack of simplicity in home, social, and world affairs? Assumptions drawn too fast because we want fast conclusions to complicated matters? Of children, or adults, who are ill-prepared to fend, provide, and take care of themselves in this big world?

It scares the hell out of me sometimes. The worst part? Sadly, I'm afraid I speak from experience. I am worn out sometimes of making my way through this place we call our world, our home. I'm exhausted. I've developed a horribly cynical, stilted view of the sea of humanity. Suddenly, even violently, the fingers you are pointing are stretched forth -- outward -- in guilt and hope for self preservation. For I am little better.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Less-than-Admirable Qualities

Last night on email, a fellow blogging buddy -- and someone who I'd call a good friend even though we've never met -- had this to say to me: "Ugh. I hate it when you get overly serious and won't entertain my humor." We were just bantering back and forth about this or that, nothing heavy at all, and I apparently dove face first into an overly serious response. I admitted that I can definitely become overly serious from time to time. It's one of those qualities that lends itself to good sometimes and to being a real pisser at other times. How about you? Anyone else experience those same sorts of things or am I out here all by myself?
We've got a pretty heavy scene going on in our family this week. Could be seriously life-altering and changing. Quite frankly, I'm scared to death. I can't even stand the thought of what hell the outcome may bring. I'd love your good thoughts and such.

We've got house guests arriving Thursday for the weekend. I'll be away from email and blogging all weekend....we've got a full agenda and are really looking forward to entertaining these guys. They've never visited Portland before. I've already warned them: "You may not want to go home." It's a great place to live.
One last question for the world: Why is it that those crazy hairs on our backs, shoulders, even chest, turn a lovely shade of silvery platinum and poke up like a teenager as we age? I've just discovered this wonder of nature over the recent few months. Just a couple of strays on my shoulders that I try diligently to pluck.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Orlando Welcomes Lewispalooza 2007

From the moment my honey and I arrived in the theme park capital of the universe, the magic and zing of what is Orlando hits us right along with the humidity and sea of humanity from around the earth that have come here to relish in fun and frolic that constitute "Lewispalooza 2007." All appropriate pictures are here. After a few hours of Benadryl-induced sleep, we are met at our hotel room door by our good friend at Sorted Lives who has turned himself into our own personal taxi service -- we couldn't ask for a nicer chauffeur. We're off (like trousers on a cheap trick) to a yummy lunch in the food court at what has quite appropriately become known as the Gay Mecca....the Mall at Millenia. From Lacoste and American Eagle Outfitters to Hollister and Louis Vuitton, the place is awash with fashionable wide belts, tight fashion-conscious and pec-grabbing t-shirts, and nearly everyone swishing about in rich-boy flip flops, shopping bags in tow. Better bring your credit cards to this one. You'll need them. Sorted seems to know a handsome man in every single store which garnered no compalints from us. And, of course, we had to make an obligatory stop in "the cruisy pick-up men's bathroom near the food court" where Sorted spotted a tall, beautiful, blond Scandinavian doing his best to take a peek under the hood of my car. I usually charge for viewing privileges.

And with that, we were off to meet Whisper in the Void and his partner at their condo -- both horribly nice looking and welcoming. As is the case with everyone I've met in the blogging world, it's like we've known each other for a long while. It's nice, comfortable. We trotted next door to The Parliament House for a little tour and to watch the perverts play (as if we are any more refined ourselves). We are hardly even inside the front entry before we had a Miller Lite-toting guy in tight red square cut swim trunks trying to show us his tan lines...from both the top and bottom of his suit at the same time. We ventured off to see if we could catch any visual action in one of the many open-doored hotel rooms around the pool area (disappointing results) and returned to see Miller Lite-tan line man sitting at our table with Whisper's partner. Timothy Gerrard Armstrong was his name.....and he wanted to know ours and everything else about us. We made up a few names for ourselves -- Roger and Harold -- and told him we were from Baltimore. During the ensuing 20 minutes, and under a canopy while the thunderstorms poured down rain around us, we discussed the gays, Jews, public hair, African Americans, cropped/cut-off t-shirts, drag queens, our birth dates and ages, who was the cutest, and which of the boys hanging around the pool area he purported to know. He is etched forever in our minds. Believe me.

Whisper and Company were nice enough to haul us to the final stop on our tour -- BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse. Appropriate, eh? They finally acquiesced and said we could actually ride in the back seat of their beautiful car as opposed to the trunk. Unfortunately, Sorted had to rescue "M" who had a dead battery in his car. To round out the gang, CTO City, Actorschmactor, and I Deal With It all met us at the pub. We spent the next 3 1/2 hours staring down handsome men parade to and from the men's room -- and us making "emergency" trips into the bathroom "as necessary" for observation purposes only. Mike was our very cute jock waiter. I'm afraid the guy had either been hit in the head with a football in high school or snapped hard enough with a jock strap to cause some serious damage. In spite of telling us "You guys rock" about a hundred times, letting us take his picture, and being very sweet, he was missing something, somewhere.

Good food, cold beer, fattening desserts, cute waiter, great friends, terrible service = A Perfect 10 Hours! Seriously, we had a blast. One of those times in your life that you enjoy, appreciate and thrive on. They sort of make us who we are and happy to be alive.

A Huge PS: I don't mean to leave out any important details of the evening. We also discussed the following at one point or another: Wearing jeans with flip flops, foot fetishes, kava root and its seductive qualities, pot (as in marijuana), rings, cameras in the men's room, shower curtains, stemless wine glasses, work and jobs, car batteries and starters, gluten, camping, RVs and motor homes, Disney, dogs, other bloggers, cars and bio diesel, bus/transit systems, and about a million other things.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Naked.....Tattoos....Orlando Bloggers

It's been a cooker here in Portland....close to 100 for several days. My makeup's been running and my tan-in-a-bottle dripping off of me in stripes until I look like a candidate for the next production of The Lion King. We little weather weaklings (we do like our 40-80 degrees in spite of the rain) go a little crazy and start lapping up water wherever we can find it...pet dishes, rivers, garden hoses, ponds. So, another trip to the beach yesterday....the pics are all here.

I recently had my second ink project injected into my epiduris and it felt, anyway, like it went right down to the bone. The sweat ran and fingers drummed constantly for the hour it took. Oh, and did I mention the momentary electrical zap when the gun hit something that made something else shock the hell out of me? Who needs a pacemaker, anyway? It's definitely something I believe in and can support for the rest of my life. Peace, that is.

Last night found us at another of Portland Parks and Recreation's summer concerts in the parks. It's our ninth summer of frequenting as many of these free summer nights in the park as possible. There's just nothing like a picnic, free music, neighborhoods coming together, and relaxing in the grass under the giant trees. Last night was a salsa band...complete with a nice brass and percussion section. Really good stuff.

Tonight brings my honey and me to an overnight flight to Orlando. We arrive early Friday morning, rest a little, slam down a little coffee, and then we're going to be picked up by one of Orlando's hottest, Sorted Lives. The rest of the hotties (Spider, CTO City, ActorSchmactor, I Deal With It, Whisper in the Void and .alt>Mike) will join us at 6:30 for dinner at BJ's (appropriate -- yes! Ironic? I think not!). A couple of our partners will be there too....I think they should all have "First Blogger Wives Club" t-shirts. These guys have all become a staple of good times in Orlando and I appreciate them all so much. See you boys tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Gay Dude Contest and Award

Unbeknownst to me -- and quite a shock, I must say -- I've been nominated to receive the The_Gay_Dude Award for 2007 Best Personal Blog over at Gay Men Rule. I hope you'll take the time to vote and enjoy checking out each of the blog's nominated. There are really some awesome websites out there spilling over with creativity and fun. I appreciate all of my readers and the time they take to visit my site each day.

Don't forget to keep reading below for my true tale of sneaking around the streets behind the Iron Curtain.

Monday, July 09, 2007

KGB and Estonian Espionage

NOTE: I know this post is longer than usual....but there was so much to say. It was one of the most fascinating experiences of my life. I hope you enjoy.

The ride was three hours, give or take. Even though it was summertime 1986, the seas were dark, nearly black, as we sailed south from Helsinki aboard the George Ots complete with hammer and sickle (picture). I was 24 and thought that I had the world by the tail. I mean, who else had the been dealt the opportunity to find themselves behind what was then dubbed the Iron Curtain? This smacked of the espionage of James Bond. We were under the pseudo camouflage of a German tourist group. Close to 40 of us, nearly all from the United Stats, all musicians, all young and thought we were something to be reckoned with. We had been briefed, numerous times, by a variety of folks who had been there before us. Don’t stand in front of hotel mirrors…they could be double mirrors and the possibility exists that they’ll be watching you from the other side. No talking about private or sensitive matters anyplace….microphones will be hidden in hotel rooms, buses, restaurants, museums. Don’t stand in a group together….always walk in smaller break-out groups. No staring, mind your own business. Don’t be surprised when strangers follow you….it’s just a member of the KGB or other officials tailing you. Use no real names, especially of those whom we meet in Estonia…..it could put their lives in danger even after we leave. Say nothing, do nothing, be nothing. Just a typical German tourist group on holiday to experience the Russian museums and sights. The only problem was that we were a Christian musical group from the United States and had underground Christian hosts waiting for us on the other side. We were on our way to participate in activities that the government had identified as illegal.

We docked in the port city of Tallinn, Estonia, under a warm July sky. We had no identifying t-shirts on, nothing except our passports and required visas, none of our musical equipment. And, I’m sure, the deer-in-the-headlights look. We were taking in only the clothes on our backs plus a backpack each filled with clothing, Bibles, Christian music and study tapes,. And there were four of us who had additional contraband. Letters and information coming in from the outside to people we didn’t even know in Estonia. I was an assistant director with The Continental Singers, now known, simply, as The Continentals. The other assistant, me, and our director and his wife held a variety of letters to be given to our yet-to-be-seen host. The customs area was busy. Filled with all kinds of people coming into and going out of the Soviet block. Most of us passed through without question. A few were detained for questioning in small, plain rooms along the side. Pulled in by ourselves, questions asked, wondering why we had tapes and books and who we were. I remember Russ, one quite unassuming young guy in our group. He had a bunch of Christian training tapes that he was questioned about. I can’t remember if they kept them or allowed him to keep them. What I do remember is that he was quiet, shy, and did his best to remain calm. The machines looked inside each of our bags. They could zoom in to any particular section of our bags to get a better look. Intimidating to say the least. Suddenly, we weren’t quite so cocksure.

Our government-approved host was to meet us and stay with us each day up until dinner time. She would show us the approved sights, museums, and the summer home of Peter the Great resting on the Baltic Sea. Following her departure each evening, we were to hang, as incognito as possible, near our hotel in the center of the city. There were only a couple of approved hotels for Westerners to stay in. I remember standing there for the first time, waiting, wondering, watching. Well, not watching too blatantly. The reality of it was, as I recall, that we were scared to death. A man or woman would be standing nearby, listening, watching us. We’d move away, they would follow. We kept seeing the same faces throughout our entire time there. Suddenly, a woman appeared near our group -- she knew us (we were hard not to miss, I’m sure). We did not know what she looked like. “Please, follow me,” she said to our director. “Be quiet and just follow…in small groups only.,’ she directed. And we did. She led us through the streets of Tallinn, on a light-rail train, across busy streets, down one side of a sidewalk and back up the other. Trying our best to keep up and, yet, remain unnoticed.

We entered the building through the back door via the alley. You wouldn’t believe it if you hadn’t been there. The place was packed, probably 500 people or so. Standing room only. The blinds had been pulled on the windows, no one could see in or out. The room erupted in violent, almost frenzied applause once we were all inside and the doors had been closed. These people had stolen their way through the streets too just to see us perform. Remember that we didn’t bring in any of our own musical equipment. But it was all there for us. Borrowed and begged. Instruments lying in wait to be used by us. We organized and tuned quickly. And we sang. Without microphones or a sound system. Having been forewarned that the KBG and other government police and officials could very well be in the audience. You never did know when and where they would appear. “All over the world, all over the world, god’s spirit is moving, all over the world.” Without our typical array of costumes, lights, and makeup. Just us, happier than ever to be creating memories for these warm and wonderful people. Oppressed, yet with deep smiles. That’s what happens when you’re held down for just so long. We held concerts in this building for several nights in a row. We also sang in an old church with a KBG listening tower high in the steeple -- right while a funeral was going on. The body lay right next to us while we sang. Weird. Each day spending time touring with our young, pretty Estonian host. And the evenings spent under the watchful eye of our underground Christian host. She and her former husband had been participating in hidden work for the Christian community for many years. They had welcomed those from the West with open arms. Until the day that her husband was killed in an airplane crash with a high-ranking Soviet official. As a part of the crash investigation, they discovered the work that she and her husband had been doing. They raided her apartment,…bland, plain, and simple government housing. And now, we were actually sitting right inside of that particular place (picture). They scared her children, turning all of their few belongings upside down and inside out. Their lives were now known. She would never again be far from the eyes of her government. And now we were there, with her, not knowing who was watching or when. She took a few of us privately down a few streets, in the alleyways, and into the simple home of one of her friends. A cup of tea. We talked, sort of. We looked at their hymn books. Get this…handwritten church hymns. No hymnals or printed music were permitted. She even invited four of us into her home. To this day, I think back to that warm evening, sitting in her horribly simple flat. Many of us gathered in her small living room, a cold drink of some sort in hand, not knowing who was listening or watching. Smiling, hugging, and carrying on…..carefully and calculated. Cautious with our words, names, information. Even after we left, she would continue to be followed and kept under thumb. I received letters from her for several years after my visit (picture).

One afternoon during our time there, the other assistant director and I were to gather all of the Bibles, books, tapes, music, and clothes that we had all brought with us. We were going to pass these items off to someone that we didn’t know. We were to wait in a park right in the center of the city. Relax, be incognito, appear natural. Um hum. Sure. So, we were there, the sun beating down on us as we sat near a fountain in the park with several backpacks of goods to deliver. We had a description of the car that was to pull up. The car circled the park, we watched, and waited for it to stop. It pulled up alongside the curb. Near us, but not too close. We ambled that direction, nonchalantly as possible. The guy got out, opened the trunk, and we put the backpacks in the trunk. We nodded, said thanks, and turned to leave when he said, “You get in the car.” What? We were surprised. “You get in the car,” he said again. This was not in the plan. “It’s okay,” he said. “I know _____,.” the real name given to the underground host that we’d been working with. “I’ll bring you back here later on.” Oh my gosh, this was wild. Things were not going as planned. Rob and I piled in the backseat of the car and he started driving out of the city. He told us to relax and that there was nothing to be afraid of. He said he was good friends with ______, our host, and that she had asked him to help her. He also told us that we were, at that very moment, being followed out of the city by the police. They were right behind us! But, he said, don’t turn around or look. “They follow me all of the time,” he said. Pretend like there is nothing wrong. He assured us that everything would be fine. Rob and I exchanged very nervous glances as the car headed north, now out of the downtown core of the city. He took us on what seemed like a million-mile trip. In reality, it was probably only half an hour or so to a heavily wooded area, beautiful old tall trees everywhere, to a park, like a campground sort of forested park. We pulled into a parking space and he, again, told us that the police were right behind us and for us not to use any names or say anything that would get us, or him, into trouble. We got out and went over to the railing overlooking a small forested valley. The uniformed police pulled in right next to us and got out. They stood a few feet away -- talking, laughing, intimidating. To this day, I cannot believe that I was actually there and doing, what we called then, “god’s work.” The police finally left, leaving us alone and relieved. He continued to tell us a horribly detailed and intricate story of a project that he was going to ask us to help him with. He had numerous letters to be taken back out of the country and then mailed to various places in the world. These letters were not addressed -- no names, addresses, identifying marks at all. We were to keep the letters separate from the addresses until we were safely out of the country and then put them into envelopes, address them, and mail them -- all from outside of the watchful eye of the KGB and others. We were to carefully select those that would carry the letters. They must be trustworthy, quiet, calm, and as adult as possible. If questioned, they must know how to remain level-headed. He delivered us back to the park later. Safe and sound, the letters stuffed into our pants, pockets, under our shirts.

We picked out women who were less likely to be questioned than men. We had them tape these letters and addressed in between their breasts, in the smalls of their backs, and on their inner upper thighs. Less likely spots to be scrutinized. I can’t remember what I carried or where I carried it. I just know that we were all shaking and nervous as we cleared passport control and our bags were searched. They did want to know why we had no belongings or suitcases to take out. Where were our clothes and the things we‘d brought in? We made up some story and boarded the ferry for the ride back into freedom. The letters taped onto our bodies, the Bibles left to be handed out to the locals, and a few cups of hot tea in our bellies….served to us by some of the warmest, most perfect people in the world. I remember the last time I looked up at them, leaning over the balcony of their flat (picture). Knowing that we were being watched by the government, the official host who’d taken us to the museums and approved tourist sites, and also by the underground and hidden hosts who’d truly placed their lives on the line to have us there. I occasionally reread the ten or so letters that I still have from her (picture). In subsequent years, I’d be asked by an organization in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to marry this Estonian woman. Simply to get her out of the country and into safety. They were willing to move me, change my name, even perform a “fake” marriage, just to help her get out. My parents were really upset. And I was confused. In the end, I said “No.” I just couldn’t do it. I’ll never know if that was the right or wrong decision. I heard numerous years later that she had finally immigrated…..after many false starts and promises from her government. They liked to tease and taunt back in those days. Rumor has it that she first went to Israel, then to Switzerland, and finally, you won’t believe it, to Vancouver, Washington, just a few miles across the Columbia River from where I live today. In fact, out my bedroom window, I can look north, across the river and right into Vancouver where she may very well be living. I look over that way most nights before I climb into bed. Now that, my friends, is wild and crazy. You know those experiences in your life that you wouldn’t trade for anything? This is one of them.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's Got to be the Morning After

My eyes itch, they're hardly completely open, and I've just put on another pot of coffee. That feeling of being up past my normal bedtime, blood alcohol content higher than when the festivities started, and a decent amount of smoke and haze from Chinese-made fireworks in my eyes and lungs. (Be back in a minute...the coffee is done....and I need it bad!)

Hot dogs, turkey dogs, hamburgers, steak, garden burgers, pork tenderloin, sesame noodle salad, garbanzo bean salad, fresh tomatoes with mozzarella, pasta salad, homemade baked beans, English trifle, chips and salsa....it's no wonder things are a little iffy inside today. Man, it was good. Delicious. Our neighbors came over, and a few more good friends. You can see all of the pics here.

And, now, the aftermath. I've got lawn chairs to wash down (oops, Rolling Rock), noodles to scrape off of the table outside, and a dirty street full of spent fireworks to sweep up. I'm thinking about traipsing out to the nude beach today for a little quiet time. And another good friend wants to have a beer with us tonight after he's off work. The party continues. Oh, and hey, by the way....it is, like, really THAT wrong to have warm apple pie and cold French (hi there Nik) vanilla ice cream for breakfast? I hope not.

Isn't the morning after something else? (I hope they left the $$$ in payment on the bedstand before they left.)

I've arranged to work another trip to Orlando next week and looks like some of the awesome guys in Orlando will be able to join us for dinner once again. If you're in the area, let us know....we'd love company for dinner on Friday, 13 July.....and this weekend will find me in Anchorage and Kodiak, Alaska....actually really looking forward to that. .

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Restoring What's Been Lost

So, here's the SKINny on this deal. Despite the fact that not one of The Spirit's awesome readers were able to guess what the picture below (Sunday, July 1 post) actually is, you all showed a tremendous amount of creativity (and perversion) and really TUGGED at my heart strings. I'm going to give you a few TIPs here and I hope to be able to RESTORE what's been lost....so that you'll be able to HEAD in the right erection (er, ah.....direction) in the future. Take a look through this article...this one....or even this one.....and then you can order your own. And, please...butt plugs from Ikea? An urn? A COCKtail glass? You guys are crazy!

Now, do you want me to tell you a story or two about this thing coming loose, hitting the concrete, and trying its best to roll away? Or how about the tape coming unraveled and letting this sucker dangle down at about the knee level. Movie material. Bring the popcorn.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Any Ideas?

Any Ideas?

Dying for your thoughts on what this is.....

*** Don't miss my July video greeting to your left ***