Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What to write about?

I'm trying to force myself to write something, anything every day. Even if I don't feel like I have anything to talk about. Today for instance, I'm having a particular writer's block. While trying to think about new things to talk about on stage, all I can focus on is the sound of my fridge in my apartment. It makes this weird noise that can only be described as a ghost moaning. It's a subtle, quiet noise that works one's nerves slowly, like a Katy Perry song.

What to talk about? I guess I should start with what annoys me this very moment. This is a lot and very little at the same time. One item I find annoying is people who talk about getting married every 5 minutes. If you are getting married, don't complain to people who legally do not have the right to get married and then ask us to plan it for you. Does that make sense? If you want to get married, great. Go do it. They call it an institution for a reason. I am for being committed to another person, but the wedding part with all the hoopla ain't me. It's no big deal. I would rather wear the rings and travel the world with whoever I fall in love with. Call me crazy. I may even consider doing a small party and even a littler ceremony because my mother had told me that if I ever get married, it doesn't matter to who (even though we know that means, "as long as they are Jewish."), she will kill me if she isn't invited. Anyone who knows Jewish mothers, knows not to fuck with them, cause they will fuck a bitch up all through instigating, complaining and guilt. Unlike Catholic guilt, where you can say a few hail marries and be out of a situation, Jewish guilt lasts for generations. For the longest time I thought "Romeo and Juliet" was about a Jewish family for this very reason.

Whenever people hear that I'm not big on weddings and the idea of marriage the way society throws it at us, everyone around me turns into pushers. They are like the ones that D.A.R.E. doesn't tell you about. They end up coming at it all wrong too. Marriage is simple and something that should sell itself. I will be very clear, I am for the right to marry, cause we all should have such a right. I should have the right to invite 4 of my best friends and force them to wear for of the ugliest dresses ever made. I should also have the right to live in sin, or create a loving home for an English Bull Dog names Tallulah or a little half-Japanese, afro-puffed child just like straight do. I'm for commitment but feel like a wedding or ceremony is something that should be done 5years in, possibly as a victory celebration. People always push marriage on me though, like it's the only way and in turn always sound like used car salesmen trying to sell a lemon.

"Step right up! She's a beaut! She will take you from point A to point B. After a while for some reason you won't need to service her, but she'll need a shit load more gas cause that's the only way she'll be able to fuck you over in the end... Oh and before you aren't supposed to test drive her or look under the hood before buying. Oh, the small print, it just says that you can't test drive other cars even if they feel better to sit in and hug all the turns tighter... And it's for life. Need a pen? Sign here..."

Another thing that annoys me are people with ugly children who always ask you what you think of their kids. You'll be nice the first few times, but after a while just keep silent. I wouldn't want to be mean. I just usually smile and nod. Then by the millionth time when they try to show you a photo of their little uni-browed hyena, you may crack and say something like, "he's a character." The truth is, it's better to be ugly anyways. Ugly people learn how the world works earlier. When one doesn't have to rely on their looks from day one, they become much more interesting people in the long run that actually do shit with their lives and run the world, while the hotties just ride the coat-tails.

More bitching to come soon...

Friday, June 24, 2011

What's a Gnomic?

The week before last, I was performing all over Southern California. While in the Los Angeles area, I decide to meet up with my father to do what I do best, eat feelings. Even though my father lives deep in the valley, I convince him that going to Hollywood for some matzo ball soup and guilt would be worth it. I decide it best to do this at Cantor's Delicatessen, so I could also get my Jew on.

A little background on my father. I don't know how to describe the man. We have a hot/cold, but not bad, but quietly resentful relationship. I'm Jewish, holding a grudge is what we do best! We have talked nearly every other day pretty much since my parents divorced when I was 7, about what I'm still unsure. As we get older, we both realize that we will never completely understand each other and are learning to understand the limits associated with that.

My father himself. He is like most Russian men and Wayne Brady, he thinks he's black. This is no joke. He has worked out at the Broadway gym in South Central for nearly 30 years. He was also the only 5'7 and a 1/2, jewish, amateur boxer, in the middle of the LA-riots for no apparent reason. He "needed cigarettes" he claims. In that hood, he is known as the "Russian bull." He can be spotted by the trail of smoke coming from his Benson & Hedges, Ultra-Lights.

I meet him and my grandmother in at the entrance of the restaurant. I could spot them from a block away, because my dad is one of those guy's who has so much muscle that his arms dangle on the sides, similar to myself. He is also wearing a Nike shirt that says "Just Do it," circa '92 that one can't miss in a crowd.

We sit down at the booth and immediately start with the nuances of talking to someone you haven't seen in a while over some good, kosher pickles. The meal starts off relatively smooth. We eat, my dad tells me of his latest favorite hip-hop artist and I tell him about where I'm performing. He asks me about what I talk about on stage and I respond by telling him to come see it for himself.

The important not about my father is also one of those people who cannot control the volume of his voice at any time. He has never whispered in his life. He also likes to talk shit about things going on around him under his breath in an aggressive tone, yet a sarcastic-passive-agressive way that can be embarrassing and never makes cohesive sense. Going to the movies is always fun with him. While I am someone that never looks to get in a fight, but can protect myself if I have to, my dad is one of those guys always ready for the fight. These notes will make sense in a minute.

Half way through the meal, as I start on my pastrami sandwich, these guys sit at the booth across from us. My grandmother and I are stuffing our faces in gluttony. The guys both have hair that is meticulously styled, tans that are meticulously fake and start a conversation that is annoyingly loud about the movies they are working on. One of them kept dropping the words "I have studios backing this," every 20 seconds. By the 5th time, I wanted to go over there and tell him what I think of him. In true San Franciscian fashion ask him to please quiet down. I don't do that. My dad though does start mumbling stuff in Russian under his breath. Most of it is just unintelligible rambling.

He then says in Russian and reference to the two jackasses yapping about movies, "Gnomics"...

He says this loud enough for other people to hear and repeats it several times. By the third time, for some odd reason it strikes a chord in me and sends me off the edge. I tell him to be quiet. He tells me to respect him for no other reason than the fact that he is my dad. I tell him to F off, cause I'm classy. He slams his little fists on the table. We both have unusually small hands for men, yay genetics. I then tell him he needs to have respect for me. As we are arguing in Russi-nglish, we of course create a scene. I demand for my grandmother to hand me my backpack which I have sitting next to her on the other side of the booth. She asks me to sit down and I am livid. Too much so to sit down. As I am about to leave and the entire place is staring at us, my dad realizes what is happening.

He says in his Russian-ghetto accent, "Yura, not gomics, i said gnomics. Please excuse me, you misunderstood yo."

I guess I should mention that my Russian is very rusty. I guess I don't speak it enough. In Russian, "Gomic" means fag. "gGnomic" (the G is not silent) means gnome, as in the ones of cartoons and forests. The words are very similar.

Embarrassed at my confusion, and unable to admit defeat, I sit down and begin to scarf down all the food at the table. I then quickly order goods from the bakery and stay quiet through the rest of the meal.

Meanwhile, my dad is keeps eating and yapping things like, "want more pickles, hope I don't offend you"... "gnomic not gomic."

Here is the thing. Who calls someone else a gnome? I can think of many other choice names, but gnome? really?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Coming out to a Jewish mother

People who encounter me aren’t blind or deaf… Whenever they meet me they always want to hear the quintessential coming out story. Why do we all have to have a compelling coming out story? Who the fuck cares?

It’s always some blonde bitch named Lexi who asks with an overly concerned and confused look on their face. “What was it like comingggg oooout? (pant, exhale) It must have been soooo diiificuuult.”

Not every gay person’s life are like episodes of Ellen. My life is not an after school special, I wish I could be that lucky!

What most non-Jews seem to not understand is that with Jews, we have so many issues, being gay isn’t really at the top of our list of “issues,” so to speak. It’s somewhere in the middle and our mothers are hovering over, somewhere at the top.

For those who have never encountered a Jewish mother, they are lucky. A Jewish mother is like Acne, they tell you that shit will go away, but it just lingers on… and on. You can use all the Pro-Active in the world and she won’t stop nagging!

Back to coming out! When I came out to my mother, I was about 20 years old. I took a deep breath, marched on over to her and as I was about to tell her she couldn’t be bothered. Like many Jewish mothers, she was too busy working on her weekly Jew report. Every week she has to update me on her favorite Jew of the week.

Finally, I built up the courage to interrupt her as she informed me about the disappointment when she found out Robyn Williams wasn’t Jewish. Right when I was about to say it, she has to interrupt me.

“I know, I know flagella… okay, god made you the way you are, just remember one thing.”

She then said what I call the Jewish Mantra.

“If you don’t have Jewish children, Hitler won!”

Who the fuck says that? My mother does, that’s who. Years later I introduced her to my first boyfriend… What a treat that was. I introduce him in conversation and by showing my mother a picture of him.

She instantly yelled, in her subtle Russian accent, and at an octave level that could make dogs cry, “OH MY GOD! MEXICAN!”

I flash a Kathy Lee Gifford smile and say, “No mom, he’s Israeli!”

“Oh! I LOVE him! He soooo beautiful and Jewish!”

At least that stopped her sending me JDate profiles! Before I had the BF, she would send me 3-4 emails a week of elidgable JDate guys.

I would say “Mom, he’s 55, fat and in jail!”

She would smile and say, “He won’t cheat and he Jewish!”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Meet the Staff at the bar...

Chapter 2 Meet the staff...

There are so many different kinds of people employed there. It’s an eclectic, cutthroat group that works there to say the least. Everyone is in their own realm when they are compared to greater society. There is something in this place that makes us all similar and therefore creates a cohesive staff besides the fact that most of us are fudge-packing, Nancy boy queers and dyke.
I hate the word queer almost as much as I hate the word “partner.” When gay people use it, it makes me just want to punch them and say, "Hey, he's your fucking husband! That word makes us look even more like outcasts of greater society than we are or have to be." I hate that almost as much when straight people use it. This is not their fault though. They are making an effort to treat us the way they are told we want to be treated, even though the term just alienates gay people more. "Partner" makes gay people sound like they are talking about a business venture. If you are gold-digger and marry a person old enough to remember when the Louisiana Purchase was in escrow then, you should call your “lover,” “partner,” or "investor" in Anna Nicole's case (may she rest in peace stuffing her face with fried chicken). To sleep with an old sack of skin for some of their fortune seems to be a fair deal when it comes to this kind of partnership. If you are a well-to-do hippy, who now shops at the Mac store and Whole Foods, get over the PC crap, because lets be honest, you already sold-out the second you paid your taxes and invested in that family-van.

Back to the story, here, we all have become each other’s chosen/adoptive family. We watch each other’s backs when customers would gang up on us or even more so, when it is the owner of the bar. He is the be all and end all. He simply runs a tight ship and keeps that bar packed while keeping everyone within a camera monitor, big brother sort of a hand’s reach. All the alcohol pours are watch, record, counted and then scrutinized from his office at the bar. The cameras are even connected to his home computer. Keeping this in mind, we know that even when no one is watching, he could be watching us from home maybe right after an episode of “Golden Girls,” while smoking a doubie and maybe eating a pack of flaming-hot cheetos? We are observed like pandas at a zoo. We deal with the cage because we know there isn’t another bar in San Francisco where we would make the kind of money we are making there at that maze of a bar. Gay bars are much like zoos anyways. People dance horribly, like idiots on a dance floor to the latest Kylie or Madonna single and look for every reason to take their crop tops off in hopes that Mr. Right Now is watching. It’s very animalistic.

When it comes to each other, I have also noticed another approach my coworkers seem to have. We are all “friends.” We all keep our friends closer and then their enemies even closer. It’s hard for me to tell which of us playing this game and who is truly genuine. If they like you, they seem to actually help you from getting out of trouble with other co-workers, our boss and patrons. If they hate you, it’s like working with the little girl from “the Bad Seed.” For those who haven’t seen the film, it’s about a little girl who is a murderer, but no one suspects it because she plays this whole innocent act that people eat up like lifetime movies. We all keep a game face going while working. On the turn of a dime we can go from friend to killer. Most of the others have no problem stepping on a “friend’s” toes to save their ass or make a few more dollars. I guess time will tell who is a friend and who is a foe.

This is how I’m told it works here. People here either work at this place for a hot second, a week, maybe three, and others are there for years. While the barbacks and doormen employed here keep a revolving door open for new drifters, the bartenders seem solid. Bartenders would get fired for various reasons. Sometimes the reasons can be obvious and understandable like “over pouring” and giving away free booze. Other times the reasons are more vague is less reasonable and more superficial. There is though always a “valid” reason even if it is completely fabricated by the owner of the bar.

For the owner, sometimes it looks as though we are just pawns, and maybe more like shoes. One could always have extra pairs of shoes in their closet, and then use them to walk from point A to point B. Then, when you purchase a new pair of sneakers, you start to wear them at all the times you used to wear your old sneakers. Then those old sneakers make their way to the shadows of the closet and eventually you may decide to get rid of them. This is all because they are worn down and or maybe just less shiny than the new ones. One day you could be his pet and the next, he could and simply make up reasons to get rid of the old and move the new into their spots. For all of us, keeping our jobs seems to be a calculated guessing game of watching each other’s backs mixed with a shit-load of luck.

The group of people who work there, are more interesting than words can tell. This is because there, everyone employed there, all see the value in who they are, in relation to the bar. They know where they stand in the larger gay community. This is even if the rest of the world didn’t give a rat’s ass. While there, these individuals all seem to think of themselves as hot shit, most of them are recovering nerds and misfits. Most of us here are recovering kids that were teased in high school for being fagots and not being what hero-normative society tells us we are supposed to be and support. Here our uniqueness is applauded and precisely what people like about us. The shoe I hope is on the other foot. We now get to see what it’s like as the big kids on campus, it is just a different terrain.

Gina has been there for 2 years at that time. She is the resident, self-proclaim bitch and Queen bee. She is what I would call a career bartender, one of those who knows their job, does it well and doesn’t apologize for rocking. Being the only woman there, she demands respect from all of us and will not settle for anything less. Gina is about 25 years old. I guess the bitch attitude concept is her replacement for her lack of balls, literally speaking. She seems like the type of girl that probably at one point had and may still have those stupid hanging nuts dangling off of the rear bumper of her truck. If she didn't, she has guy friends who do for sure. She is a recovering party girl who went to San Diego State a few years prior. She is an ex-sorority, Capa-Delta-something. She was apparently the only lesbian there, so she said. Gina has a masculine haircut accompanied by curves that only could be described as feminine and gentile. Her frame and tits perkier than a bottle of adder often overshadow her rigid-masculine persona. I guess it is because she has to compete in a bar made for gay men, in a staff of men. The thing that many people misunderstand about her is the fact that they consider her a bitch and often write off the rest of her as being anything but. In truth, she is the most straightforward of the whole bunch. If she had problem with you, she would tell you. If she likes you, she will tell you, if not in words, actions. If you get in her way, she will make sure you get a good swift kick or step on a toe. The odd thing is that she actually does guide people whom she likes. Help them do better at their job. She always offers unsolicited criticism to those she loves and even worse critiques to those she hates to working with. When she walks through a crowd she demand attention and the same is true when she is behind the bar. Gina often offers management that doesn’t necessarily require her intervention. She is our know it all. What people seem to rarely understand is that is her way to help? She truly is the foster mother of the bunch, in a semi-butch sort of way. It is like she is the big sister I never knew I needed.

There is also James. He is a newly appointed bartender. He has been here for about a year and a half as a barback and has just recently been appointed to the ranks of bartender. He at is also roommates with Johnny, the “all American” guy from dinner. It is rumor that the two had dated at some point but I am not one to subscribe to rumor rubbish. James always talks about how he is at the bar just to pay off a few debts and then go back to traveling the world. It’s ironic since he has already been working here for a while. “It is just the mobile to get from point A to point B,” so he says. He is about 23, skinny, blonde, average height,. He seems to be of the type made for the Labyrinth. Everything about him screams it. He always jumps and waves his hands when his “jam” cams on, which is usually Mariah Carey or Kylie. He LOVES those bitches in a way that I simply can’t grasp. James does to not look like what I have imagined a bartender to look. At the end of shifts with him, he often offers to drive me home. I will admit that I do love these moments, although I would never say this out loud. We often roll up to McDonald’s late at night, get milkshakes, fries and soak our sorrows by listening to guilty pleasures of cheesy pop and talking about cute boys we meet or don’t meet throughout the week. We both pinky-swore and promise to never tell anyone about Mc Donald’s because it’s really a gross place and we don’t want anyone knowing that we ate from there. In San Francisco, going to McDonalds is like driving a Hummer there, it’s just asking for someone to slash your tires or throw red paint on it.

There is Michael. He is tall, skinny, with dark hair and light features that made him look somewhat exotic. He is a loudmouth who always assumes he is right. We are very similar in the fact that we are both pig-headed. Like me, Michael is the cynic, but in a different style. I consider myself more masculine, than Michael is, although he finds a way to bring out that part of me. He is a complimentary mixture of masculine, male hormones, with slightly feminine undertones, yet he himself is a package is more masculine than not. I love him for the fact that he is so comfortable with himself. I admire it and aspire to get there some day. He is like the jester of the bar. If he has something to say he doesn’t hold back and just says it. He is not one to hold back or sensor himself at any time in any way. No bullshitting, no blowing smoke up people’s ass. He is also the first guy I have ever met in a committed gay relationship. They have been together for 3 years. That span of time together is equivalent to a lifetime in gay years. Having been tied-down for so long, he always tries to live vicariously through me by pushing guys he thinks are cute on me even though our tastes differ vastly. We also have become friends over the love of our friend, Mary. She is would bring us up when we are down and down when we are up from the adrenaline of a long work shift going to the ladder parts of morning light.

There is also Aaron who is probably barely 30 years old by this point. He is the most exocentric person I had ever met. He is really tall and always commands that everyone notice his presence in a room. His outfits, jeans to the tiniest details where all custom made. His fashion sense is a mix of punk, high fashion and drag queen glamour. His hair would change color, shape and style more often than an infomercial. While he probably became a life bartender, I don’t think that this has been his goal. But, who end up doing the job or career they plan? He lives like a rock star. He parties with them and when he goes out he is treated like one. Going out with Aaron is like going out with rock royalty with a gay twist everywhere we went. I love working with him, I lately have started to call him “Gentle” due to the fact that he is the only other Jew other than myself who works there and has a love of Barbara Streisand. The only other person I know who loves her more than him is my mother. My mother will gladly sell her left arm to meet that woman. Aaron always fascinates me by hitting on every fuzzy little bear man who crosses his path. He always talks about how he loves their “chubby, mushy, furry, little, average bodies.” The first time I heard him say this, I didn’t know how to react to that comment. Now I just laugh.

Aaron is known for many, many things. The tag line, for which I will always remember him is the first sentence I hear him say during my first shift with him. “The human body is so resilient, I have been up for 3 days.” Aaron truly lives like a rock star. He is also a self proclaim – J.A.P. With taste more expensive and gaudy than any Jewish American Princess I ever did meet.
It is interesting how there are so many different types of people who work at that bar. Everyone works there for very different reasons. For some, it is a lifestyle, a career, a means to an end, a way to pay for their habits, a social mechanism, and for others a summertime job. It is like when I studied abroad. I’m living in Florence, Italy for a semester. I’m 18-years old. I am always fascinated when walking through the various outdoor markets of Italia and by all the random people I meet who work there. Many Americans live there, all there for very different reasons. Some come through on vacation and simply never leave. Others start off at a local university studying abroad and essentially defect there. There are some who stay for love, while others are running from the mob, or something back home.

Whatever the reason is, like Florence, the Labyrinth is a place many people run to in order to escape stuff in their lives for whatever reason, it kind of consumes people. You would start there, with one goal, end with another. Eventually you are just there and unsure why because your initial reason for being there is now irrelevant. The question all of us working here wonder is, why am I here?

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