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September 2002

Sweets from the Sweet

You're Egg's

Speaking of good grammar, there is a brief hit list of common grammer pitfalls that are worth reading in this week's Stranger. Its you're duty to pay attention, kids.

Satisfied Customer

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Jessie's summary of his visit a couple of weeks ago. He's finally posted the first part of a few, as well as a beautiful photo gallery of his time here.

I don't think I’ve ever babbled much here about how fantastic a photographer I think he is: I usually do that in comments on his site, or in pep-talky e-mails. He knocks my socks off, though. He's got a good eye, and I know from watching the way he sets up shots and waits for the perfect moment that it's not accidental by any means. My favorite quality of his pictures one I can never quite seem to get in my own comes from his ability to photograph quiet moments and empty spaces in a very resonant way. I tease him about his pictures of nothing, but what he really does is take moments of nothing and draw something out of them. Damn him.

I miss Jessie. We got on like gangbusters from the first day we met, and he's just been a better and better pal ever since. I’m glad he got to see the magic of my home town through my eyes, and I’m glad to see it again through his.

Me in my loft. Photo by Jessilicious.

100 Things About Sparky

A meme makes for easy content. I admit it, and I often find it's a good way to babble on about some bit of nonsense when I’m not feeling particularly inspired. Plus, it also gives a nod toward community spirit. Yay team! And I really do like the ones that encourage the revelation of amusing or alluring trivia. So here are 100 Things About Sparky:

[1]

I actually like being in my thirties. I think they suit me.

[2]

I’m not so crazy about the thinning hair that’s slowly turning grey.

[3]

My brother Bob killed himself when he was 23 and I was 13. that’s why you may hear me refer to being the youngest of either 5 or 6 children. It depends on which time of my life I’m talking about.

[4]

All my brothers and sisters are (or were) married and have kids. I have 9 nieces and nephews altogether.

[5]

I really, really love my parents and get along with them very well. When I was seeing a shrink this summer he kept trying to dig up dirt about my folks, but I didn't have anything bad to say.

[6]

I have a powerful sweet tooth.

[7]

I have had 8 teeth removed, all because of overcrowding in my mouth.

[8]

I’ve been tipsy a few times, but I’ve never once gotten drunk.

[9]

I tried smoking when I was about 14, always in private. I didn't really care for it.

[10]

My mother once told me I was never to dye my hair, get anything pierced, or get a mohawk. I still haven't gotten a mohawk, but I’d like to.

[11]

She never said anything about tattoos. I now have 5.

[12]

I went to the country's only tuition-free private high school a Jesuit school in Manhattan for Catholic boys who were smarty-pants.

[13]

I had a full-tuition scholarship for all of college that required maintaining at least a 3.5 GPA. I never dipped below 3.7.

[14]

I have tried going to grad school twice for a Master's in graphic design. I quit both times because I wasn't being challenged, only overworked.

[15]

I still have to pay $9,000 for the one year of classes I took the last time I tried grad school.

[16]

I should have just kept teaching myself things by making zines.

[17]

Between an ex-boyfriend and an ex-roomate, I’ve paid $3,500 rent for other people who've lived with me.

[18]

I only have one testicle (the left one). The other had to be removed when I was 13 because it got twisted up and choked until the tissue died off. That hurt a lot. Having only one ball doesn't make much of a difference, in case you're wondering.

[19]

I am a native New Yorker. I was born and raised in Staten Island, left there at 18 for college and few years of work and grad school, and returned to New York over six years ago. I’ve lived in Brooklyn ever since.

[20]

I have lived in New York and Massachusetts, and travelled to Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, California, and Washington, D.C.

[21]

I have also travelled to Canada, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Brazil, Iceland, England, France, Belgium, Italy, Japan, and China.

[22]

I’ve been on every subway line in New York City at least once. I’ve also been on the Staten Island Rapid Transit, the Staten Island Ferry, a horse carriage in Central Park, and the Roosevelt Island Tram.

[23]

I’ve never had a driver's license. I’ve only driven a car a handful of times.

[24]

I visited the roof of the Word Trade Center four times. It was really cool.

[25]

Getting caught in a snowstorm while walking along the Great Wall of China was still cooler.

[26]

I know a little bit of Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin, but not that well. I can read all of them much better than I can speak, understand, or write them. I can also read a little bit of Italian and French, through interpolation.

[27]

I don't tie my shoelaces properly, nor do any of my brothers and sisters. My parents tie theirs the normal way, and have no idea how we all learned the wrong way.

[28]

I got 1380 on my SATs.

[29]

I'll bet I have the biggest tonsils you've ever seen.

[30]

I don't know who infected me with HIV, or exactly when it happened.

[31]

All the bold names on my links page are bloggers I’ve met at some point.

[32]

I’m 32. I’ve known one of my best friends for 30 years.

[33]

I’ve known my best friend for almost 8 months. I’m completely in love with him, which is occasionally awkward for the both of us.

[34]

Apparently I have a lot of artistic talent, but I’m usually too lazy and uninspired to prove that.

[35]

I make a living doing really nerdy computer stuff, but my skills aren't very portable. I think I may be trapped in my current job for years and years to come. But it's basically OK.

[36]

I’ve had a website for about 7 years, and I was basically blogging before they called it that.

[37]

I’ve never been mugged, although some guys pushed me down some stairs once and tried to grab my wallet. I screamed as loud as I could and they ran away before doing anything.

[38]

I’m not afraid of heights so much as I’m afraid of precipices.

[39]

I don't eat pickles, olives, mustard, ketchup, or eyeballs.

[40]

I never ate a cheese I didn't like.

[41]

I took ballet for two years in high school as an excuse to avoid going to gym. Believe it or not, this was considered a pretty clever idea, not a faggy one. All the punks and skinheads in the class below mine did the same thing.

[42]

I bite my fingernails.

[43]

I think god is a nice idea, but I just don't buy it.

[44]

I find it much easier to believe in alien life and intelligence, although I don't expect us to encounter any for a long, long time.

[45]

I’ve always wished I could live on a spaceship and have adventures with a kooky alien or robot sidekick.

[46]

Instead I live in the basement of an old factory and have adventures with a Texan math-teacher sidekick.

[47]

I’m a homo. Did you know that? Yes, I’m sure about it I’ve tried both.

[48]

I have engaged in naughtiness with six other people who have or have had blogs of their own. There may have been others, but I was never informed about their having web sites.

[49]

I’ve pretty much given up on sleeping around. I got it out of my system and discovered it wasn't really my thing after all. I’m no prude, but I’d rather get naked with someone I really like.

[50]

I often pretended I was the Bionic Woman when I was a little kid. I thought she was about a thousand times cooler than the Six Million Dollar Man.

[51]

I knew the bride when she used to rock-n-roll.

[52]

I used to have two piercings in my left ear. I never thought about the piercings much, and I only noticed the rings had fallen out months after the fact. I never felt like replacing them.

[53]

I’ve seen "Hairspray" more often than any other movie.

[54]

Contrary to popular legend, I never developed hairy palms, and my face never froze like that.

[55]

This is a lot more boring than I’d guessed, so I’m going to skip this one.

[56]

And this one.

[57]

Even though I do technical work for a living, I haven't taken a math or science class since my junior year of high school.

[58]

But I really do find that I use algebra and geometry in everyday life.

[59]

People with excellent penmanship fill me with envy.

[60]

I like Thanksgiving better than Christmas.

[61]

Leather really turns me on and I’ve cultivated a decent collection of it, but the whole scene doesn't do much for me. I usually think those guys are kinda goofy.

[62]

When it comes to houseplants, I am the Angel of Death.

[63]

I was never really into computers or electronics until I got to college. I now own my sixth and seventh computers, my third printer, my third scanner, my second Palm Pilot, my fourth cell phone, and my first iPod and digital camera.

[64]

I splurged on my first computer by upgrading to an 80MB hard drive and 12MB of RAM.

[65]

I needed so much extra money for art supplies when I was in college that I felt I had to explain to my parents that I didn't have a drug problem.

[66]

I’ve actually never taken any recreational drugs, except for smoking a little pot for the first time a couple of months ago. It was OK.

[67]

I take one antidepressant and two viral inhibitors each day.

[68]

I haven't been to a gym since 1993. I was taking a weight-training and exercise class when I worked in Boston, but I quit because I got bronchitis.

[69]

This is the number that Bill and Ted were thinking.

[70]

I really want to go skydiving one of these days.

[71]

My friends Chris and Brin first started calling me Sparky around 1994. Chris introduced me to my co-workers at a part-time job as Sparky, and it stuck once and for all.

[72]

I know it's a conversational cop-out to talk about the weather, but sometimes you have to do it in order to keep things moving along.

[73]

Although I spent a lot of time watching the World Trade Center burn, I was on the subway when both planes hit, and I was at my desk trying to calm down by writing about what was happening when each tower fell. I don't feel bad that I missed seeing those actual moments, because the whole scene was bad enough already.

[74]

I don't know anyone who died that day.

[75]

I like both boxers and briefs but I really hate wearing boxer briefs.

[76]

I only know two people who I really hate. They are from the same state.

[77]

I only wear white or black socks.

[78]

Reading the newspaper invariably makes me either furious or depressed. Watching the news on TV usually just makes me feel like my intelligence is being insulted.

[79]

I don't think it's our freedom they hate us for.

[80]

I don't think we have nearly as much freedom as we like to think we have.

[81]

I really love New York City, but I’m pretty sure that I'll need to live somewhere else eventually and expand my horizons, if only for a little while. I worry, though, that I'll never afford to come back again.

[82]

I don't own a single piece of furniture that wasn't found, inherited, or purchased from a thrift store.

[83]

I am riddled with insecurities. If I seem to be accepting a compliment gracefully, I’m just being polite. I probably don't believe you.

[84]

I’ve read the entire charter for the United Federation of Planets, but I’ve never gotten all the way through the Constitution of the United States. I know the Preamble, though, because of that song. Maybe they should set the Prime Directive to music someday.

[85]

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist party.

[86]

I often get the feeling that the freedom to dissent and question our leaders is considered a luxury rather than a right.

[87]

I am pretty timid when it comes to making a fuss, so I’m just as guilty as anyone of not defending the right to dissent. that’s something I’m not very proud of.

[88]

I’m trying to get over my own apathy.

[89]

I always thought that the Silver-Age Green Lantern and Aquaman were really hot. I also know I’m not the only one who's had the same thought.

[90]

I have never actually fantasized about a comic-book character, however.

[91]

I fantasize more about people I’ve already slept with than I do about people I’ve never met. That still gives me plenty of material to work with.

[92]

I would rather fall asleep nuzzling against someone I care about than have sex.

[93]

I just thought of a good one, but now I’ve forgotten it.

[94]

I’ve wasted so much time on this today.

[95]

I don't want to go to Chelsea. (Elvis said it first, but he said it best. I just mean something slightly different.)

[96]

This is all trivia. It only tells you little details, but gives you no substantial information about who I am am or what I’m like.

[97]

I am a crackerjack copy editor, but usually too lazy to proofread my own writing. Your punctuation mistakes, however, will drive me crazy.

[98]

There was a time when I bore an uncanny resemblance to Andy Rourke, the bass player for the Smiths. I don't think I need to tell you that was about 1985.

[99]

To be perfectly honest, the only reason I ever owned a skateboard was because I thought skaters were so hot. I could have saved so much time if I had just realized that then instead of years later. Hell, I might have even managed to kiss a skater.

[100]

I love all the love in you.

Qwe're Boys

I turned 32 yesterday, but instead of spending the day celebrating my birthday, I spent it celebrating New York City's expanded Human Rights Law at the Qwe're Music Fest with a couple hundred festive liberals from all over the gender spectrum. I didn't know much more about the show when I went over other than that a few of my favorite acts from around town were playing short sets, but soon after I got there I realized it was whole big tranny-fest that restored my faith in New York as the most spectacular place on earth.

The audience was the standard mix of queer and pro-queer Williamsburg/East Village/Losaida hip kids, but without the jaded cynicism that usually brings. Everyone was totally festive and totally cheering on all the drag queens and trannies and assorted folk who took to the stages on both floors of the Fez. I swear, this blew all my expectations out of the water. The acts rocked and ranted and rapped and sang and pranced. Whether you were looking at the audience or the stage, you got better theater than I’ve seen in a while. Better still because it was just a bunch of gutsy folk doing their thang.

The whole thing was all about gender and the many ways to blur the lines between male and female. Granted, all the pro-gender-freedom rhetoric was preaching to the choir, but there was still plenty on display to make one think. There was a definite political slant to the whole show, despite the splashiness of the performances, and a lot of angry rants about ongoing violence against people in the transgender community. Also, it was a startling thing to discover that a whole bunch of the hot guys in the audience turned out to be female-to-male transexuals. Before long, I couldn't be too sure about anyone in the room. That was quite a head trip.

Stick 'Em Up

Ever since I was diagnosed, I get really tense whenever someone I’ve slept with goes for an HIV test. No matter how careful we've been, there's always that outside chance that something could happen, just the way something happened to me once. It was bad enough when I first found out, and I had to worry about all the times I’d slept with people many of whom became good friends when we'd both assumed we were both in the clear. It's actually much worse for me when I wait now for the results about someone who knew what he was getting into with me. Just as he may be waiting for good news, I'll be doing the same. It's a burden that really upsets me: maybe it was a mutual and lucid decision for two people to have sex when one is positive and the other isn't, but I can't help thinking that if the other guy gets the short end of the statistical stick, then he got it because of me.

I really hate feeling like a loaded gun. I hate wondering if this is the way it will have to be for the rest of my life. I hate knowing that I could be responsible for someone else's life getting that much harder. I hate wondering if someone who likes me really understands the risk he may be taking. And I hate that I can't yet accept that the burden isn't all mine to carry.

But what can I do? I carry on, I proceed carefully, I fret, and I keep trying to make peace with myself. Just like everyone ought to do anyway. Still, though, it's pretty sucky to know I’m not a hypothetical threat to someone's well-being.

JJD in NYC

For two photo buffs, Jessie and I didn't actually spend much time using our cameras. I blame the bleak, rainy weather. Here are a few to give you a taste of some quiet moments when we weren't having wild, madcap adventures:

Bloody Brothers

Jessie and I topped off his visit by getting matching tattoos that pair up to make the old Krispy Kreme logo.

Double Dating with the Big Apple

I’ve been having a ball wandering all over town with special guest star Jessie, who's here on his very first visit to New York. I’ve been introducing him around to the gang, trying to show him a good assortment of magical things about the city, and trying to keep up with his body's schedule, which is running about 5 hours behind mine. (I’m adapting, though. Yesterday we managed to crawl out of the house by 4 p.m., and only got back home after 5 a.m. this morning after a day crammed with book browsing at the Strand, dining with the Rooster in Astoria, riding the Roosevelt Island tram, checking out midtown TV studios, and laughing our asses off in a seedy Times Square McDonald's at 4 a.m.)

Pictures will follow soon.

Every time I show an out-of-towner around the city, I feel like such a yenta. I’m reminded of how completely I love this city, and I go to great lengths to show why that’s the case. But it's not like I’m just playing tour guide or ambassador: I want people to fall in love with the city. I want to introduce them, point out a few enticing details, and then step back and let them fall in love. When something clicks and I see a friend suddenly realize the magic of New York that lies beneath the muck and the crowds, that lies beyond the slick tourist-tuned facade, I just beam with pride at a job well-done.

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