Oh to be the whip cracker…

As a kid this tune, performed by the Boston Pops on dads stereo, meant Christmastime was fast approaching. Later in high school band practice, playing this tune meant it was only October as we had to prepare early. Both as a kid and a high schooler it was always a favorite. I do have to say that when actually performing in the high school band it was always a joy. It’s just plain fun.
Crack that whip!

The Boston Pops / John Williams – Sleigh Ride – Live

Happy Star Wars Day!

Life has dealt us a moment to reset.
Therefore why don’t we start from the beginning.
It’s summer 1977, I’m just hitting puberty and arrived at a crowded 800 seat cinema scope AMC rocking chair theatre to find it packed to capacity and the only two seats left together for my neighbor and I are center front row. Needless to say it was a life changing summer.

May the force be with you.

Dance floors of my past

To say that uncertainty rules my head today is an understatement.

I decided it’s best to pause and escape to a place of bliss, a place I’ve spent many enjoyable hours, a place where I can feel life living itself through every muscle fiber and sensation of my being, a place where I can truly escape.

I’m escaping, if only for 5 minutes, to a dance floor of my past.

Round and Round – New Order – 1989

How about joining me for a twirl?

Big Boys Don’t Cry

I was but a young pre-pubescent boy in the summer 1975 as I swam the pool at Hollow Creek Swim Club a few blocks from my home. I was usually there with my older brother, he would hang with his buddies as they all flirted with the girls. I would swim the pool, practice dives in the triple diving well and search for dropped treasures lost to the bottom of the pool . Once in a great while I would even work up the courage to try the high dive in the middle.

Hollow Creek was a popular and busy place on those hot southern summer days. I was a loner though. Younger than most of the crowd and felt different. All the boys were older and busy trying to impress the girls. I was busy looking at the boys.

Especially one boy. My brother’s friend Jimmy’s friend Kurt. Kurt was cute and Kurt would actually let me hang with him some as he chatted up the girls. He made me feel welcome and included. I realize today, that since I was younger, I was a prop to get the conversation started with the girls. It didn’t matter then because I loved being around him and close to him. It doesn’t matter today because I fondly remember being included and having my first man crush.

Hollow Creek had a jukebox located at the snack bar and the music was piped out to the pool via a couple of those white bullhorn shaped outdoor speakers popular in the 1970s. That summer’s hottest love song was 10cc ‘s “I’m Not in Love”. To this day I don’t hear it without immediately thinking of that community swimming pool, the taste of an ice cold Dreamsicle  from the snack bar and of Kurt’s handsome teenage smile.

10 cc – I’m Not In Love – 1975

The young boy I was that summer felt different. He knew he would always like boys. He knew he’d never feel the way about girls that he was supposed to feel about girls because he felt that for boys. That boy was a loner and frankly was scared of the unknown and scared he would be found out. He was scared that he would never fit in and would always be lonely. Yet that young boy loved life and hoped that one day he would either change and feel like other people, or maybe, just maybe one day he would find one other boy who was like him.

That young boy today is a full grown man who is happily married to wonderful husband and he just filled out his presidential primary mail in ballot for March 3rd Super Tuesday. On that ballot he voted for another man, who like him, was different as a boy and today is happily married to another wonderful man.

If I could say one thing to that boy it would be to keep being just who you are because one day not only will you find love, you will also learn to appreciate all the differences that make up a beautiful world.
Oh, and you will find others who are just like you.

In Memory

A leader, an inspiration and simply a very nice man.

Elijah Cummings with Fearsome May 2019

Elijah, we thank you and we will certainly miss you. Your inspiration shall live on through us.

Godspeed.

Gay Anthems!

Is it possible to cry as one dances in the middle of a crowded dance floor? Yes.

John was the newly hired director of the newly established AIDS Foundation in my hometown. He was a handsome eligible bachelor, I was “on break” from my first lover relationship. He had invited me over to his place as we were on our first date and he was cooking for us. After he poured me a drink, he clicked on the stereo as we sat down on his sofa.

“This is the new release from Bronski beat” he said as I deeply inhaled the nostalgic antique smell of the large living room of his apartment on the second floor of a stunning old gingerbread Victorian home. I wasn’t yet familiar with Bronski Beat much less Jimmy Somerville. Jimmy’s voice enveloped us with a trancelike vibration. I was hooked even before the rhythms kicked in a couple minutes later. I remember wiping tears from my cheek as I listened to the lyrics that I understood all too well. John embraced me and I realized I wasn’t alone in my feelings.

Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy – 1984

Above is the 12” extended mix that we danced many a night to in the clubs, below is the original 1984 video depicting the chilling story from the lyrics.

I don’t know what became of John. He sure was handsome. It was a confusing and scary time. We didn’t yet know how gay men were contracting AIDS and or who was going to be next. At that time it wasn’t if but when. AIDS in the 1980s was a death sentence and the deaths were miserably horrible experiences to live through. He was busy trying to set up the floundering new foundation to help area victims. I was young, scared and immature so I went back to the safety of my known lover. John continued his work and we drifted apart. However the memory is cherished.

Notre Dame

It was late December as my birthday was approaching number of years ago in the late 1990s, I was starting to pack for a weekend away to Palm Springs to celebrate the passing of another year. While I was packing my Better Half walked into the room with an envelope. He handed it to me and said “I think you had better open this as it may help you pack.”

I opened the envelope to find a round trip ticket to my favorite city on earth, Paris. We would be leaving in 48 hours. Wow, what a surprise! A week in Paris, a week in Paris the first week of January. Yeah, I guess the bathing suits I was packing weren’t going to be useful for this trip.

I had only been to Paris once before but it had already secured that special place in my heart that it still holds today. My first trip there had only been probably some 18 months before. On that trip it was high tourist season. Getting even close to Notre Dame was almost impossible on that first trip. However I remember my first glimpse of that imposing structure that was also one of the most beautiful works of art I had even seen. Still to this day I can feel my breath leave my body as I turned the corner to look up and see it’s magnificence.

I was transported to another time. I knew this beauty. I knew this cathedral like I knew the back of my hand. I knew deep inside of me, having never even paid attention to photos much less studying anything about it, that I had been there before. Whether it was some dream or maybe a past life experience I’ll never know, but I had been here. I knew her grandiosity to the point of intimate comfort. I could not wait to get inside to re-visit the interior that I knew so well. However this story isn’t about that trip. That was the first trip there. The trip where I actually laid eyes on a familiar place for the first time. The first time at least in this lifetime.

This trip, this special trip that the man who would one day be my legal husband gave me as a birthday present, was in the dead of winter. Turns out tourists don’t go to Paris in the dead of winter, or at least not the first week of January. It was cold but it was magnificent. It was the two of us freezing Southern Californians and a city with its doors wide open and no one in our way.

We walked right up to the ticket counter at the Eiffel Tower, with not a soul in line to buy a ticket, and walked right up to step onto an elevator. An elevator all the way to the top with only two others aboard. We walked into The Louvre only to walk right up to the Mona Lisa, when before we couldn’t even get into the room where the Mona Lisa was. We walked right into the magnificent work of art that is Notre Dame and spent hours enveloped in the beauty, history and majesty that I adored. I adored not only from my previous trip but knew from some other time, some other experience that was still a mystery to me. We walked right over to the corner, where we previously may have had to wait outside in line all day to even hopefully possibly access,  only to take our first step into her infamous towers and walk right up to the top.

Seeing Paris from The Eiffel Tower is incredible. Seeing Paris from the towers of Notre Dame is life changing.

A young Fearsome Beard sets eyes on the most beautiful city in the world from the top of the world’s most magnificent work of art, Notre Dame. 

The Better Half with Fearsome, Thank you Better Half.

Two of the famous friends we made that day in Paris.

Radio Blessings

While driving to the gym today, a treasured song from my past found it’s way from the satellite airwaves through my car speakers onto my eardrums. As my tympanic membranes vibrated to the rhythms, and the vestibulochoclear nerve impulses transferred the information to my brain, my emotions became full of overwhelm. The flood of sadness, grief, warmth, joy, hope, gratitude and rage resulted in a stream of mixed emotional tears into the softness of Fearsome Beard.

Memories enveloped me.

I’m a survivor. I never contracted the HIV virus.

I graduated high school as a very sexually active young homosexual male. I had a ball. I even attended an all night orgy the night before my high school graduation. It was the early 1980s after all and I was a young adult. I was 18. I was one of 4 students who spoke on that graduation day before our class of 500 students. I give you, my dear reader, such a graphic example for a reason.

There was an unknown threat surrounding us males of the homosexual persuasion. A threat unknown to any of us. Even unknown to men 10, 20, 30 or more years my senior.

Apparently sometime during the sexual revolution of the 1970s a virus had turned up in our population. An undetected virus that was just about to reach a critical mass infection that would soon wreak havoc on our community.

We didn’t know. We had fun. We loved. We partied. We fucked.

Love is Love is Love is Love.

It was then. It is today. Yet then we had no idea what was about to happen, and then it did happen.

Those rare cases of an immune deficiency ticked up. They ticked up in the gay community of the U.S. and suddenly we had a syndrome. It was first named GRID. Gay Related Immune Deficiency they called it. GRID was rare. GRID was seen only in large cities. GRID didn’t affect us in smaller towns. Yet it was there, we just didn’t know it yet.

Keep in mind this was the early to mid 1980s. Safe sex wasn’t yet a known practice. Gay men didn’t use condoms. Two men can’t get pregnant. No one yet knew that the virus was spreading nor how it was spreading.

As this virus did spread it showed up in a few other populations, but not in the numbers it did amoung gay men. Researchers soon discovered that it was transmissible, probably from a virus, and thus it was acquired. The name changed to AIDS or Aquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It was still rare, but starting to scare us. Then it started to happen. People around me started to get sick.

One of my favorite sexual partners, Jerry, came down with it. Jerry was 38, I was probably 20. Jerry was in his prime. Jerry was succesful, owned several homes and was stunningly handsome. Jerry became very ill. I was scared. I went to visit Jerry. He was thin, pale, had wierd dark cancerous spots on his skin and was short of breath. Jerry looked like hell. He offered me a drink. I said I wasn’t thirsty. I was actually afraid I would catch it from the glass. I couldn’t wait to leave. I never saw Jerry alive again.

Within about 5 years of the night of that orgy celebrating my high school graduation, with the exception of me, every single other person that was there had died. I can still see each of their faces and remember each of their names.

The 1980s for me was a war zone. It wasn’t “if” I would catch AIDS and die, it was when.

In 1990 I fell in love and moved away. Far away. Even though I moved far away, that virus was still here on the west coast. I never contracted that virus. I still haven’t today. I don’t know why I didn’t as I was never, nor did I ever become, no angel. Today the virus is called HIV. The deadly disease that is a result of HIV is AIDS.

My flood of emotion was gratitude that I am here. Gratitude that I ain’t never contracted HIV. Gratitude that I knew those wonderful men I lost, who were not only sexual partners, but mentors and friends. Grateful I loved. Grateful that I could hear Bruce Springsteen’s words. Grateful I could feel. That I could feel all the emotions pouring from me of grief, sadness, love, anger, joy, warmth, disappointment, hope, fear, gratitude and rage.

Fearsome Beard absorbed my tears. I made my way into the gym as a healthy, grateful, loving, kind and hopeful 50 something gay man. A man who was now far removed from the 1980s and far removed from the origin and experiences of the song and memories that had just overwhelmed me.

I will never forget those men whom I lost. I will never forget the times I went through. I’ll never forget the joy, laughter and tears. Those men and those experiences made me who I am today. I look forward to what is to come. I am forever grateful.

I love life. I love who I am. I have been blessed. I am blessed.

Veterans Day 2018

The Music used in the attached video is from my childhood. I remember it playing at the swim club during summer as well as emanating from behind my older brother’s closed bedroom door. I always loved this tune.

My childhood was innocent. I thought people always landed on the moon. I come to find out later that the moonlanding I watched was the first ever. I thought Seasame Street and color televisions had always exhisted. Turns out that season of Seasame Street I was watching in 1969 was the very first season, and that color TV we had was the first my parents had ever owned.

I hated war. Vietnam reinforced that fact. The TV showed horrible scenes. I didn’t understand why people had to do such destructive things. It was wrong. I knew it was. Innocence tainted.

My uncle was in Vietnam. My father and another uncle served in the Korean era. My father’s uncles served in WWII and his father’s uncles in WWI. War stole innocence. War destroyed lives.

My brothers and I avoided the service. No war drafted us nor demanded our service.

Even though I hate war, I respect and I wish to honor those who serve. The serve their country. They serve their family, community, neighbors and each other. They didn’t start nor cause any war. Those who serve do so for a common good of service to something greater than themselves.

I am deeply grateful.

If you served, either in war or hopefully in peace, I thank you.

When I Think of You

You go Janet!

It was another of my regular Saturday nights out at the local gay disco in 1986, a disco called The Park. That cute guy I had met last weekend was out with me. His name you ask? Well like most really cute one, two or three weekend stands from that era of my life his name escapes me. However he was hot, or at least my memory says he was. One thing I do know for sure is that he was just slightly taller than I, he had dark hair and he could dance.

The mix of familiar pulsing music had us sweaty from a seemingly endless twirl on the dance floor. We took a break and stood in line to grab a couple cold draft Budweisers (it was the 80’s after all) when the pulse of music paused and the first few percussion beats of this new tune followed by those now familiar twinkle notes enveloped us. He screamed in his best queen for that moment voice “Oh my god, we have to get back out there! It’s Janet’s new song!” And the beers were forgotten as we lost ourselves back out on that dance floor to what would become one of may favorite all time Janet tracks.

What happened to that cute guy I’ll never know, but when I hear this tune I think of him…and when I think of him I smile.

Crestfallen

It had been a while

A while since we first met

The fun, smiles, laughter, excitement

Convivial companionship

The message came through

Yes, yes I remember!

A plan to meet

Anticipation builds, memories swirl

The time comes, the time passes

No message, no word

Connection missed

Was it a dream?

 

Mystery of love

As far as the movie goes, I wasn’t very familiar. We rented the movie on iTunes and watched it during the Academy Awards Show since it was a nominee. Wasn’t a flick I really had an interest in seeing.

Then again the universe works as it should and I watched it. Beautiful film of innocence, love and understanding.

But then there is this:

Wow.

I haven’t been moved by a piece of music like this in a long while. The movie awakened many a distant memory and revived many a treasured emotion. It’s theme song, this song, reminds me to be forever grateful for all the love that has ever touched my life. Love that lasted, love that was lost, love that maybe never came to be and even Love that hurt.

Mystery of Love – Sufjan Stevens (Call Me By Your Name)

Update:

I’ve decided to add the Academy Award performance of this beautiful tune that I missed while watching the film.

Molested

Repeatedly

That’s me as a young boy. You can see me now with Fearsome adorning my face as a shadow in the reflection. The small photo in the corner is my mother and brother during a happy moment of my childhood.

Dont get me wrong, my childhood wasn’t horrible. In fact it was pretty good.

But a pretty good childhood doesn’t erase the scars of sexual molestation and abuse that were endured during that childhood.

What is your earliest memory? I hope yours is a good one.

Unfortunately mine isn’t. Stop reading now if you are offended by violence or descriptions of child abuse or sexualization of the underaged.

Still here? If you are just be prepared.

I was crying, naked and hiding. I was scared. I was between the bed and the wall trying to not be found. I was holding a stuffed toy or a blanket. I felt terror.

I screamed as the faceless male pulled me from my hiding place. No one heard my scream except my attacker. I remember blood and pain from my rear end. I remember tears and I remember fear. I don’t remember anything else. I don’t remember who it was.

That is my earliest memory. I know now I was being molested, most likely raped.

The only thing I know about my abuser is it was a male. The rest is blacked out. I’ve never been able to picture his face.

Was this the first time I was sexually abused? I haven’t a clue.

It’s just my first memory. Memory was still spotty for a while after that.

Was it the last time I was sexually abused? No it was not.

During my teen years, starting about 13, I was repeatedly molested by three different males. Two of them were my teachers, one was a trusted neighbor. One I continued having sex with until I was about 17.

…..oh and all three were “straight men”….and one even gave me a constant supply of drugs to keep me coming back.

Oh, and each of these three convinced me I wanted and needed them. Two of them worked their way from suggestive petting to full blow sex.

The other just heavily petted, described what he wanted, told me what he thought I wanted, fondled me through my clothes. He seemed to get off on his verbal graphics and heavy petting without fully completing the act. He actually made me feel the dirtiest and most violated. Yes he repeated this behavior multiple, multiple times. He taught a class I needed to pass.

Why?

Why did it happen? Why is it affecting me now?

Yesterday I lost it. I broke apart. In front of a sister-in-law and in front of my mother-in-law I lost it. I threw a ham across the room after I opened the refrigerator and found it leaking all over. I then threw left over spaghetti sauce and a thawing turkey both onto the counter and against a wall,  then I blacked out into a crying heap on the floor.

I remember The Better Half getting me up and walking to get me to the bedroom. I remember tears and hyperventilating. I remember being numb.

I’m still numb this morning. The pain in my two injured shoulders is more than I can bear. I’m eating Motrin & Tylenol. I hurt all over.

I have, however, had an epiphany. I just saw the news and I suddenly remembered the news was on when I had my breakdown. I remember seeing the report that the current resident of the White House had just endorsed the senate candidate from Alabama who is accused of molesting underaged girls.

Could it be? Did I fall victim to my own experience upon hearing the news that the current White House resident endorsed a child molester? Endorsed a child molester just because he is republican?

Can anger come to full rage causing a full breakdown after news such as this?  I think so.

Abusing children is wrong. A big part of my life struggle is to make sense of why others would hurt me, or any child, to accomplish their own pleasure.

Did the leader of our country just endorse an accused abuser of children? He endorsed abuser accused by more than one? He endorsed a person who stole the innocence of children for his own pleasure,  just for political gain and party loyalty?

Yes, the acting leader of our country endorsed an accused, by more than one, child molester for political party gain. Yes, and I went into full breakdown. Yes my life experience and PTSD got the best of me and overcame my serenity and almost my sanity.

How do I recover? How do I get better after a full blown breakdown?

I start by writing this post.

Child molestation is wrong. It is wrong period.

The scars I have hurt. May they, from this day forward, only make me stronger. I was a victim. Today I’ll be a survivor.

Today I will speak out. I will speak up.

Today I will take a step out of the darkness.

The Iconic Boeing 747

First released in 1968, Boeing’s 747 was, and still is, an engineering marvel.

United is retiring their 747 fleet for more fuel efficient 777 & 787 aircraft and fuel efficiency is a definately valid reason. Other airlines will continue to fly them so the iconic look will still be seen in larger international ports. However their numbers may continue to dwindle as technology changes.

I’ve only flown the 747 six times in all of my travels on these routes:  Miami to Aruba, San Diego to London, Los Angeles to Sydney. Thus far it is my favorite airliner. The adjectives roomy and majestic come to mind. I even know the layout well enough that I have a favorite seat. I’ll miss this mighty bird for she gave me many wonderful memories.

Fireflies

Summer childhood memories.

Punching holes in a metal lid for the glass relish jar that in which I would later imprison several unlucky ones.

Lightning bugs, as I called them, were always a summer highlight. Little did I realize the depth of their striking beauty.

We don’t have fireflies here in Southern California. While I do prefer my SoCal summer weather over the sweltering humidity of my native southeast, I sure do miss my mesmerizing little friends.

Whats one of your favorite summertime childhood memories?

…oh and Happy Summer Solstice 2017!

Festival – Evita!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend Y’all!

Now get those toes a tappin’ and bootys a shakin’ to Festival’s1979 Evita!

Side A

…and side B…

Disco music of an era … shirtless sweaty mustached men pulsing on the dance floor.