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View Article  How I made recycling just a little bit easier

Again, nothing to do with the gay.  Still, I think it is interesting.

I'm bringing in the PA Resources Council to give a presentation to my consumers and during our planning chats, I told them that I had several recycling questions which I was invited to submit.  More on that in another post somewhere down the road.

ANYWAY, I'm dwadling over the list during my lunch and can't get past "Why aren't there any large blue bags for recycling made out of recycled materials?"  The only large bags we can find are Hefty newish bags which seems completely ridiculous to use for recycling.  Rather than wait for an answer, I called the Co-op.  They have large trash bags made from recycled materials that are biodegradable, but they are not blue. Hmmm.  So I suggested they investigate blue bags.  Then I called Whole Foods.  Whole Foods also has biodegradable recycled bags that are also not blue.  However, the Whole Foods guy told me -- no one ever told me this before -- that I can tie a blue bag around the neck of the large bag which holds my recycling.  I did not know that.  It still seems like a waste of a bag.

Then, I asked him if blue bags were available.  He told me that he's going to ask his manager about it b/c he gets multiple calls EVERY WEEK about this very issue.

So I am on the cutting edge of recycling innovation.  Yeah, baby.  I made two phone calls and got results.  Well, I got two people to tell me that they might possibly consider taking action on something I suggested, but whatever.  It made lunch so much more interesting than leftover Chicken Tikka Masala alone.  Even with jasmine rice and string cheese.

Anyway, pick up the phone and ask your recycling questions.  Get those answers.  Be the change. 


View Article  Stuff I wonder about ...

Just some random questions I have ...

1. Why can't you recycle caps from plastic bottles?  No one from the recycling world has been able to answer this question.

2.  Do thongs/shoes with a little thing between the big and second toe hurt all women's feet? While at the Waterfront this afternoon, I noticed that many women slid the shoes off when they were standing still or sitting down, but just far enough to free up the toes from that little wedge of pain.  I only have one pair of shoes like this and the wedge of pain is covered in soft cotten.  I wear them to scoop the yard and pick up the paper when its not on the stoop.

3.  Speaking of recycling, why only plastic types 1-5?  What's so hard about recycling a 6?  6 is what the little sauce cups from restaurants are made from.

4.  Still speaking about recycling, why don't all of the Giant Eagle stores provide blue bags?  And why are Glad giant blue recycling bags NOT made from recycled materials?

5.  We are remodeling.  Exactly how many different types of toilets can there be in the world?

6.  What's the deal with the flower people on the street corners? 

It is really the recycling and the thong issues that bother me.  I should sign off and put my attention to something useful such as the laundry.

View Article  Thursday Flashback - Just Because


When I was in high school and college, I loved this show.  When I grew up and learned that Patty Duke was playing two roles while living with undiagnosed bipolar disorder, I loved the show even more.  I think I had a secret desire to go back to the "good old days" and actually believed the 50's might be it.  I had a passing flirtation with the 20s and the late 1800's, but the 1950's where it for me, man.  Until I left the nest and learned what the squabbles about bussing us kids during the 1984 WM high school merger really meant -- - funny how those same phrases are coming to light now regarding the Duquesne students ... 23 years later.  Sigh.

Anyway, Patty Duke is my dirty little secret.  I also loved teen romance novels set in the 50s of which the WM junior high library was well stocked.  To balance it out, I read a lot of boys stories, too.  In fact, I would hide my brother's copy of "Boys Life" (from Boy Scouts) when it arrived and read it under the covers at night.  My all-time favorite was "My Sister Mike" about the tomboy who got the guy without compromising who she was.  For a long time, I thought I wanted to get the guy, too. Took me awhile to figure out I wanted to get the tomboy.  LOL.

View Article  Video Monday: Sinead Lohan

This is Sinead Lohan.  I first heard her at Lilith Fair in 1999.  She was on a small stage and I stopped for a few moments. I have absolutely no idea what happened for the next 7-9 minutes.  She played "No Mermaid" and "Whatever It Takes."  I just stood there transfixed.  Then I bought her album on my way home.  Then I played it 90 gajillion times.  Then I put at least one song on every single mix tape or CD I have made since then.  Including the mix tape I made for Ledcat because she had a tape deck in her car. 

Here's my little Lilith Fair secret.  After my Sinead encounter, I enjoyed the Dixie Chicks, Queen Latifah, and Sheryl Crow.  Then, Sarah McLachlan put me to sleep.  My friend was horrified that I preferred some Irish singer-songwriter nobody to Sarah.  I'm sorry. I'm glad she founded the event and do like some of her music.  But, I can't understand her lyrics when she's wailing.  And that annoys me.   Why does it all have to be so dramatic?

So anyway, the latest I've been able to find on the Internet about Sinead is that she wrapped up her newest album in January 1997.   Not sure what that means, but there you have it.  I will buy it.  Whatever it takes.  :-)

View Article  Photo Exhibit Focuses on Queer Black Life in Pgh

Not a very exciting headline, I admit.  I'm a little tired this morning, but I've been meaning to blog about this exhibit for a few days so I need to get down to it.

Teenie Harris.  You may have heard of him -- photographer, documentarian of life in the Hill District for nearly 30 years (30's - 60's) which was, as you know, a period of intense socio-economic, cultural and demographic change.  Harris exhibits are nothing new for Pgh, but this one provides a unique glimpse into what is generally assumed to be an anomaly in Pittsburgh - historical queer black life. 

What's even more interesting is that these photographs are not from hidden little corners frequented by furtive members of Pittsburgh's African-American community.  No, this was an integrated scene wheer queer members were part of the larger culture, not separate from it.  From the City Paper:

While clubs such as Little Paris, the Loendi Club and even the famed Crawford Grill weren't necessarily gay-owned or specifically gay clubs, they hosted cross-dressing performers and welcomed a gay audience. In some photos in Carryin' On, in fact, female impersonators are backed up by legends of jazz and R&B, likely after their pay-gigs let out: R&B singer Sonny Hines, legendary drummer Joni Wilson, pianist Roy Hamilton. In one of Tines' favorite photos, a car, bedecked in streamers and toting a huge speaker on its roof, drives slowly along in one of the Hill's annual parades. On the car's hood, two drag queens bear a sign: "Meet Me at Little Paris."

The exhibit is the brainchild of Deryck Tines who serves as guest curator for the exhibit.  Tines plans to work with local photographers to document today's queer scene for a planned "Then and Now" exhibit in 2008.  (Tell your queer photographer friends.)  

I really like this particular photograph.  There's just this lovely fusion of flamboyance and ordinariness that makes me actually believe the rest of the story about the integration and acceptance of queer black community within the larger cultural context of the Hill District.

The exhibit runs through September 2 at the Andy Warhol Museum over here on the North Side.  We are absolutely going to catch it and I must say the articles in the PG and the City Paper have prodded me to make that happen sooner rather than later. 

I'm really interested in Deryck's plans to capture the current queer scene. I wonder what the photographers are going to document?  Most of the "images" the media feeds us involve this perception that the African-American community is highly homophobic.  The City Paper did a stunningly awful job on that front in April of 2006 <how can you write about the local gay black experience without including local gay black women?> 

My African-American friends deny that is true and regale me with stories about their parental generations mingling freely with gay individuals.  I'm sure my slice of friends are not representative b/c of the fact that they are friends with a lesbian, but still there's this dischotomy.  That's my new word ... dischordant + dichotomy = dischotomy. 

What should be really interesting is if Deryck's photographers examine the younger queer community and the older gay and lesbian community.  I wonder what differences, if any, would crop up? 

Anyway, check out the exhibit and stay tuned for more from Deryck Tines.  Maybe next year, the City Paper will have found a few local gay black women to interview <just kidding, Chris.>

View Article  Pgh Lesbian Variety Show Faces Accusations of Discrimination and Bias

For several years, Celebrate the Night has honored National Coming Out Day with a women's variety show featuring a slew of talented local, amateur performers.  Each year, the call goes out across the community to women of talent -- singers, jugglers, musicians, poets, dancers, comedians and so forth.  The unifying element is that performers are women coming together to "celebrate" women.

A local lesbian, Dr. Emilia Lombardi of the University of Pittsburgh, suggested that her partner, Jessi Seams, dust off her magic act and audition for CTN.  Jessi submitted an audition tape, but was denied the opportunity to audition.  Why?  Because someone on the CTN committee had connected Jessi with an online profile identifying her as an escort. 

CTN, apparently, did not want to be associated with sex workers.

Jessi and Emilia appealed the decision, claiming that the information on the profile was inaccurate and that Jessi had never worked as an escort.  According to Emilia, CTN refused to reconsider and was not open to discussing the issue.  Emilia then tried to have the Gay & Lesbian Community Center (GLCC) act as a mediator (the GLCC is the primary beneficiary of the event's proceeds), but again CTN refused.

That's when the story wound up in my email box.  Frustrated with their inability to negotiate with CTN, Emilia and Jessi decided to share their story with the larger LGBT community.

I contacted CTN for their response to the allegations, but there has been no response to my inquiries.  The CTN Producer  issued the following statement on a local queer events email list.

As the producer of CTN, as much as I would like to indivually and immediately respond to these emails, given my commitment to CTN, and it's vision, I'm not authorized to speak for CTN, absent the collegial action of the committee as a whole. After we meet, a statement will be forth coming from the committee ASAP.

CTN defenders have claimed there is more to the story, hinting  that Jessi had a "threatening nature" and the existance of conflicting information on multiple websites.  Other members of the local women's community have their hackles up over this tacit moral code of conduct. 

So let's take a step back.  This is the transcript Jessi and Emilia provided of the email from CTN:

 "It has come to our attention recently, at pridefest,that you are
 acting as an escort. As you already know, Celebrate The Night is a "Celebration" of Women,  and the information  listed on the website of URnotalone has you listed as an escort, and we can not risk having that affiliated with CTN.  It is with regret that we have decided not  to accept your application  to audition for CTN. We are sorry, we were looking forward to having a magician in the show, but we have to consider the interest of CTN first and foremost. "

What is unclear at this point is why the CTN committee has imposed a morality clause on the event.  If Jessi were an escort, how does being a sex worker impact a woman's ability to sing, dance or dazzle us with illusions?  Are there other behaviors that are deemed unacceptable by the committee?  If so, that information should be made public so that sponsors and patrons are aware of the lifestyles and moral choices of which they are tacitly disapproving.  I'd like to know because I wouldn't be happy if someone conducted a background check on me to determine if I am worthwhile to help raise money for the GLCC. 

Further, how exactly did this information come to light?  One can only presume that a member of the committee googled Jessi for some unknown reason, which looks suspiciously like a background check.  Granted, information on the Internet is pretty much fair game for public consumption.  But that should be an evenhanded process -- in other words, are they checking out everyone who wanted to audition?  And if so, for what information are they looking?  Did they search the online database of PFA orders or for drunk driving violations?  What about being behind in child support payments?  Remaining legally married to your heterosexual spouse while engaging in an intimate relationship with your same sex g/bf?  All of this is public information and accessible as easily as MySpace and Yahoo.   Where do you draw the line?

Finally, there's the fact that Jessi claims she is not, and has never been, an escort.  For some reason, CTN has not given her an opportunity to clear her name or face her accuser.  Why not?  If it is simply a misunderstanding, it should be cleared up quickly. Emilia is concerned that this is somehow connected with the fact that Jessi is a transwoman, in spite of CTN's history of behind the scenes trans participation.  I've been racking my brains to recall if there have been any transgender female performers, but I cannot honestly say one way or the other.  Emilia's concern seems to stem from some awkwardly phrased questions about Jessi's gender identity prior to being denied an audition.  Wrestling with questions about who is a woman and who isn't hasn't worked out so well in Michigan, so perhaps airing this issue now will at least make sure everyone in the community knows the lay of the land.

I'm looking forward to the statement from CTN.  I really hope there's a good "other side" to this story, because this side is really unpleasant. Remaining silent in the face of so many questions tarnishes the reputation of the event and diminishes the accomplishments of the many hardworking volunteers who have logged hundreds of hours over the years.  

I also hope that the GLCC is taking note as they would be the prime beneficiaries of a policy that would impose a moral code of conduct on women. 

What does ANY of this have to do with National Coming Out Day? 

And, yes, a magician at the event would be cool.  Let's work this out ladies so we can identify the internalized homophobia, transphobia, mysogeny and whatever else is going on and actually do something constructive to address it.  Let's be adult enough to admit we don't always make the best decisions and ethical enough to examine them honestly.

View Article  Priory Fine Pastries: Cupcakes = Good, Lack of Napkins = Not so good

Ok, this is really bugging me so I have to post to get off my chest. As a Northsider, I am a frequent flier at the best little bakeshop over here, Priory Fine Pastries on East Ohio Street.  I stop in to pick up bread, muffins for weekends breakfasts and the occasional pie/cake for a dinner party.  I usually get cookies, too.  Yum.

Last week, I picked up some PMS cookies and heard the staff person tell a woman at the coffee station that they were out of napkins as she handed her a paper towel.

Fast forward to this afternoon.  I have 45 minutes to kill before my car is ready so I trot in here for coffee and a snack (and access to an outlet.)  When I pour my coffee, I realize I need a napkin so I ask the very cheerful young woman behind the counter.  She tells me they are now out of both napkins and paper towels.  In disbelief, I say "You have no paper towels in the store."  She shrugs and nods.  Apparently, the distributor has not provided them. 

So as I sip my coffee, I begin to wonder what that means.  No paper towels in the staff restroom?  No paper towels to clean up spills and messes?  No paper towels even though the Cedar Avenue Giant Eagle is probably a 3 minute drive from here?  You can't send a smiling staff member trotting down the street to pick up a few rolls of Bounty to tide you over?

I'm sorry, but 99% of baked goods require some sort of dabbing materials upon consumption.  There are flakes and crumbs.  There is powdered sugar, jimmies and finely chopped nuts to contend with when you eat baked goods.  It is not a pretty sight.  If you want neat and tidy, eat carrots.

Especially, if you are eating PMS cookies. 

So, now I have this nice little bag of bakery treats that I cannot eat b/c I have visions of bakery staff wiping their post-bathroom hands on their aprons and trotting up front. I'm sure they have bathroom paper towels or something, but still ...

I should have gone to Beleza

View Article  Class Reunion

Yesterday, it finally arrived.  It being a very preliminary announcement of my 20th class reunion in the summer of 2008.  I have been out of high school nearly 20 years.  Wow.

To be honest, my recollection of high school is somewhat hazy.  Sometimes I'll think of a person from my past and not remember if I knew them in high school or college ... people sort of blur together when you lose touch.  Certainly, I remember my old friends as well as the folks who made high school less than pleasant.  But there's an entire circle of folks that meld into this outer ring of "that short guy/girl who wore red lipstick/guy in the back of math class" status.  Those are probably the ones making the most money and living the happiest lives now.  :-)

I volunteered to set up an email list for the planning group (1 person thus far) and several folks have joined.  None of my old friends, but at least I do recognize most of their names.  I'm a bit gunshy about reconnecting.  Sometimes, you run into someone and really hit it off as adults ... that happened with my friend Amy who I met at age 4 and reconnected with about 5 or 6 years ago.  Sometimes, you run into someone who seems really cool in their adult persona, but things never move beyond the parking lot chatter at the Giant Eagle.  And, to be honest, sometimes you run into people and hope they lose your email address.  What sucks is when you don't have reunion parity --- I might think they are really cool adult persona types and they think I'm lose the email address type.  Or vice versa.  It is all very complicated.  I learned this after moving back to my hometown of West Mifflin at the age of 27.  Apparently, I look just like I did in high school (just fatter)  so I constantly ran into people from back in the day.  Literally, b/c they would stop short and say my name, while I was hoping they weren't going to jump in line ahead of me.  No clue as to who they were.  Fortunately, I'm adept at bluffing.

And, of course, there's the whole thing about coming out to another 200 or so people.  I know for a fact that there is one other lesbian from my graduating class.  I'm inclined to believe there are plenty more gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons lurking amongst the alumni.  And that's what I'm looking to know -- who turned out gay?  It is shallow and silly, I know.  But I'm curious.  I'm also curious as to who will be freaked out, shocked or appalled (hello quasi-Christians).  I should add that Ledcat is decidedly not excited about attending my reunion and is only slightly mollified that my friend Amy and her husband Sean are going to be there.  We mutually decided to try and determine whether the lesbians or the biracial couple get more attention. 

I'm really hoping people will pleasantly surprise me.  Really.  In spite of my bluster, there is something precious about reconnecting with someone from your childhood or youth.  I don't believe in reliving the glory days and I'm certainly not a proponent that people reach their peak at age 16, but it can be nice to be transported back to less complicated times.  Don't get me wrong -- my childhood was not something I would ever willingly relive, but there were moments ...

I'd like to get to know some of the grownup versions of my high school chums.  I bet they turned out to be really neat people.  And I'd like the chance to clear up some of the hazy memories with modern interactions. 


View Article  Non-Live Blogging: Luke really knows how to throw a party

This afternoon, I thought it might be interesting to live blog an event that the Mayor actually attends. Something critical and groundbreaking, perhaps even newsworthy.  Like, say perhaps, a "garden" party to celebrate his single-handed reclamation of a porn palace for the good citizens of Pittsburgh.  <insert applause>

So off we toddled to West Park for the 4 PM kick-off time.  We were promised live music and refreshments, plus entertainment.  After snagging a primo parking spot on Arch Street, we thought things were going to be groovy and we were really looking forward to seeing the theater.

Unfortunately, Luke's partying aptitude requires a heavy dose of yinzerettes and Iron City, because this was just ... sad.

See, the party was across the street from the Garden Theater.  But ... we weren't allowed to go in because there was a performance scheduled for later that evening.  The nice lady keeping the homeless people away from the refreshment stand told us that we could save $2.00 on admission to the show.  She also told us that the garden party was from 1 - 4 PM (it was 4:15 at the time) and refreshments would be served at 5 PM.  So, perhaps she wasn't the most reliable of reporters. 

This is where I stop the narrative.  Why would you throw a party to celebrate reclaiming a theater and not let people see it?  What the hell?  Instead, I got to see 20 photos of the glory days and argue with a fussy gay man that, no I was not spending time at the Garden in 1974, because I was three years old and dealing with a curfew.  Thus, I could not authentically sign his Garden Theater memory book.  He seemed pissed. 

So we milled around with the yuppies for awhile and fended off the overly eager Citi-Parks employees handing out programs, as well as some frightening giant puppet people.  There were a few artsy vendors.  I think someone drew a giant circle of protection in chalk around the whole affair to ward off people who don't pay property taxes.  <am I being too mean?  Ledcat thinks that, yes, I am.>

Meanwhile, I thirsted.  The food lady told me that there were two whole coolers of beverages, but none for me.  I had to wait until after the Mayor spoke. Cause if you throw a summer party and invite the entire Northside, why provide beverages to slake their thirst?  Make 'em wait!  I suppose I could trot down to the corner store ... oh wait, this is the Northside.  The corner store is 17 blocks away.  Darn. 

My thirst got the best of me.  So we trotted back to Arch Street with plans to head to see our niece and get a glass of water to boot.  With ice.  On the way, we passed a car with tags that read "Ms. Tonya" and a bumper stickers proclaiming "African-Americans for Kerry/Edwards" so I presume my City Council Rep was there.  Good for her.

I hope she brought a bottle of water.

Truth be told, I wasn't really going to live blog. I brought my trusty notepad and several pens.  I even wrote some stuff down until I was accosted by yet another puppet person and decided to flee for the relative sanctity of Perry Hilltop.  I did make time to stop and tell all the locals (taxpayers and otherwise) that dinner was on at 5 PM sharp.

This was a silly little event designed for self-congratulations and the never-ceasing Mayoral commitment to throw us off the important issues.  Who throws a party and doesn't let you see the inside of the building?  If my tax dollars built the damn barn, get the friggin giant puppet the hell out of the way and let me see what I have bought.

Maybe they should just send the giant puppets to City Council meetings and leave Luke to do the really important stuff ...  

View Article  Lesbians Dirtier Than Political Junkies, Comets, and Carbolic Smoke Balls -- Rivaled only by MacYapper

Gay is a bad word.  This I discovered after Maria pointed out that her blog was rated R for adult content.  So I just had to see where the lesbians ranked.  And guess what?


Online Dating

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

  • gay (24x)
  • lesbian (12x)
  • queer (2x)
  • bomb (1x)

What's up with that?  They missed all the really creative bad words I've used.  Like spokesfag, one of my all-time personal favorites.

However, this is still a more risque site than just about any other blog in the Burghosphere, except for MacYapper.  That or the other sites aren't talking about gays and lesbians often enough to warrant an adult rating.  Hmmm?

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