Location: The Mediterranean Sea, Europe
My self-absorption has reached Nirvana --- so inwardly focused am I that I no longer care what others related to me say or do. Such was the key to my survival on an 11 day trip through the Mediterranean with both sets of parents and my younger brother.
Location: Istanbul, Kusadasi, Turkey
If you're lucky enough to enter Istanbul via the Sea of Marmara, the first thing that will strike you is the sheer size of the city. From your first glimpse of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia your eye can wonder in any direction and your still looking at the same city (which I'm told can take as long as four hours to cross from either end) but at two different continents.
The Bosphorus Strait divides Europe and Asia -- and it's here, New Rome, Constantinople, Istanbul, where the East and West meet in a touchy, sticky amalgam of customs that I call "Islam Lite."
Yes, they're Muslim, but no, they don't mind belly dancers. Nor the mingling of sexes. And their mosques are open to everyone. And the men are kinda gay. Like, way gay. Like, I'm just buying a T-shirt-please-get-your-hands-off-my-crotch gay. Like, if I didn't have a boyfriend I'd head back to Istanbul gay ;-)
Something else that struck me about Istanbul was how clean it was. The subway was fast and spotless, and Taksim Square, which for lack of a better reference is the city's Times Square, reached forever along four main streets, all bursting with local versions of H&M and smart cafes.
Of course our trip included a visit to the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia and the Topkapi Palace. MInd you, these are all within walking distance of each other and you can do just fine by reading a good guide book before your visit. However, we checked our wits along with our luggage on board the ship so we paid for a cruise-endorsed tour of the grounds. That aside, stepping inside the Blue Mosque is like stepping into the middle of a ribbon dance. The sprawling cursive of the Arabic alphabet catches your eye from any corner of the mosque, as do the low hanging lanterns from the dome at the top of the Mosque. Everything in the mosque seems to swerve, not jet, upward.
The Hagia Sofia was amazing but you can only listen to a tour guide's broken English for so long. Bla bla bla, church, mosque, church, mosque, museum. I spent more time reminding my party to listen to the tour guide than I did listening myself. And it's fine. I learned that when the Christians were persecuted a drawing of a fish came to represent Christianity (per Jesus' parable of the importance of teaching a man to fish)...so the church has tons of fish renderings everywhere.
After two days in Istanbul our ship headed south to the Aegean city of Kusadasi, which literally means the island of the birds. We drove to the town of Ephesus, where the apostle John and the Virgin Mary are said to have spent their final days together. My mom was in tears at the tomb of St John until the guide told us that his remains were lost at sea when they were being transported to Rome.
More tears, this time from pilgrims, followed at the reported home of the Virgin. Apparently some German nun had a vision in the 1800s that Mary's home lay atop a hill somewhere in the Middle East. Not sure if I believe all that but hey, I can say I went and it was lovely. I was skeeved by the "pure springs" that ran out of a faucet...no thanks.
Location: Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini, Greece
I wish this blog came with sound. But it doesn't, so while you read this, just hum the following tune to yourself "ta-da (dum dum) ta-da (dum dum)" and it's like a bouzouki is playing in your head.
Yours truly had to hum "om" to himself for the better part of the trip to conserve his sanity. Still, the noise around me couldn't compete with the sights of the Mediterranean.
The dizzyingly deep blues of a seemingly endless ocean, the jagged, brown cliffs of the Greek isles and white homes that looked like Legos stacked under an even more blinding white-hot sun. How does that song go? "Blinded by the liiight..." anyway, that's how I felt. Well, sort of. I was wearing designer shades after all.
Every island has its charm, I guess. But the Greeks have almost 2,000 of them, so some of them are probably not so special and are owned by a Sultan or a Wizard or some other sort of overpaid athlete.
Our trip through Greece began in Mykonos. I was psyched. I was looking forward to the Euro version of the Pines. Instead, I got a bunch of rocks.
Mykonos is like Jones Beach for the Europeans -- it's cheap, seemingly accessible, and laden with somewhat tacky young people. Guidos if you will, only not so fat.
Rhodes was fun if only because we hooked up with a really smart cab driver who took us around the island and off to Lindos -- home of a very impressive archaeoligical site. Along the way the scenery changed from lush green to dangerously arid beige and then back to a million shades of foamy aquamarine.
Santorini was stunning --- the cable car ride up to the top of the mountain was choppy but worth it for the views. We hopped a bus to Oia (Eeh-ah) and I found myself in a yoga position I'd been trying to master for the past two years. I guess I needed the help of 30 smelly French tourists pinning me up against the backdoor of a bus to help me with my flexibility.
Still. For the four days that I was playing Odysseus (in a red speedo and sipping margaritas from a cruiseliner) I couldn't help but feeling like life had given me a little pat on the bum. Every morning a new island would appear outside my window -- one day I'm listening to my iPod on the LIRR headed to Long Beach, the next day I'm in love and splashing around in the Mediterranean.
Location: New York, USA
Trick or treat? The question that looms heavy over every gay man's head on any given night of the week is a national holiday once a year. Anything goes on Halloween, and while my own experience as a child reared in a non-Halloween household still clouds any full enjoyment of this unnecessary day, I thought to give fun a chance this year and dress up.
What I found is that my regular wardrobe is disturbingly close to a Halloween costume. That a pink top hat is the only thing that separates me from looking like a caricature is, well, disappointing. On the flip side, how cool am I for bringing sexy back to the streets of New York on a daily basis? Top hat or not, I'm one hip cat.
So I teamed up with the usual suspects: this, that, that other bitch, that bitch's boyfriend and some other bitch, and what's his face and that other chick. AKA: Jenny, Foote, Erin and Chocha.
Foote Yawnovich dressed up as a horse, Erin was Stacy from Wayne's World, and Jenny was a china doll. Jimes dressed up as a hot fisting top soldier, and I was a circus ringleader. OR an H&M/Zara version of Madonna on her Confessions Tour.
Jimes is fighting off infection stemming from second degree burns sustained on a recent fight with his car (I'm not name dropping but I want to file a lawsuit against BMW) so he bailed pretty quickly. In the meantime, me and my girls got our $40 worf and threw down the drinks faster than Anne can say "I object!"...Chocha couldn't join us either because she's busy preparing for life post-Menopause...it's coming VERY soon for her.
A great time was had by all...enjoy the pix.
Location: Paris, France
Just got back from a quick trip to Paris; thought it would be fun to take my mom on a visit as she's never been and I have some time to kill before starting a new job.
Glad to report that I'm still very much in love with Paris, and seeing it through the eyes of someone's first visit made it all the more enjoyable.
If you read my post on last year's visit you'll remember that I made a point of shouting out the French on their near-criminal use of stairs everywhere. Well, karma is a bitch and it shrieked and howled at me for four days as my mom bemoaned (what a nice, diplomatic word) having to trek herself through the Metro and through every last monument in town. Sigh, the price one pays to admire beauty.
Earth-shattering news: French food sux. It is official. Six months of living there and two more trips as a savvy tourist have confirmed that les Francais know not from food. And at an offensive average of 5 Euros for a cup of coffee, their wanton assault on American tourists (albeit with smiles and somewhat quicker than usual service) is something the UN should be tackling with the same zeal as this whole North Korea mess.
Anyway, enjoy the pix.
Location: New York City, USA
Things DP loves: pretty girls, tight t-shirts, bright lights and chicken wings. Anne Workman is all of these things to me: pretty, taut, radiant, and spicy; so it should come as no surprise that I should give a shoutout to La Workman as she celebrates another birthday, a new love, and a new do along some exciting and gorgeous people.
Knowing Anne like I do I knew she would appreciate me pulling myself together into the most fashion-forward ensemble possible and devoting more time to this achievement than to the actual purchasing of a birthday gift. As a gorgeous Saturday stomped through my senses (blame the previous night's cinco de mayo festivities), I checked looks in my mind that would complement Anne's mood for the evening. Whatever that might be.
Preppy chic (SO Anne, so proper), gay-acolante (Is she feeling La Lohan-ish tonight?), Big Fat Straight Guy (this would be a hetero crowd after all) -- so many looks to suit so many personalities -- what is a boy to do?
Having finally decided on an outfit I trepsed across lower Manhattan past hordes of unforunate looking people -- tourists, Long Island-imports, Jersey trash and "homeless" teens -- and presented my driver's license to the bouncer at Tribe.
It was worth the trek out of Chelsea to meet La Workman's parents and her beau of late, my after-hours replacement himself, Mr. Kevin. I'm sure he's wonderful, funny and bright -- but with the music being so loud and me being consumed with thoughts of how to reflect most light off my gold necklaces I could only gather that K to the M is a nice guy who doesnt mind affectionate, obnoxious queers who worship his girlfriend.
And so the night thumped along -- I was on a drinking break in order to make a 9am gym call the next morning, but I was crunk on the energy of the room. I got to check in with Sarah, Miss Workman's roommate whom I think has a thing for me; I met a gorgeous Argentina named Cecilia; I played a round of Footeball, and I reminded Jenny that we are in fact gorgeous, even if we do look bigger in pictures. Anne may have been the lady of the hour, but I was proud to play the role of supporting fag acquainting myself with her retinue of senoritas.
While I may be known to some as Daytime David, I had enough fun for one weekend and wanted to be lucid enough on this spectacular Sunday to jot down a recap of the night's festivities.
Happy Birthday, Anne!
Location: New York, USA
I WALK BECAUSE...
A few months ago I gained about 10 minutes of notoriety because "New York" magazine thought that my walking to and from work everyday was something worth writing about.
And maybe it is.
On Sunday May 21st Jimes and I are going to join thousands of other New Yorkers in the annual AIDS Walk NY, a benefit for the Gay Men's Health Crisis. The GMHC provides services to the men, women and children in this city who are living with HIV and AIDS.
I'm no Rachel Weisz, out to save the world a-la-Constant Gardener and all, but I do feel a sense of urgency about this issue. Yes, as a gay man AIDS affects me. And instead of sitting around worrying about it, being sad about, not wanting to believe it's happening, I'd like to do something different this year. And yes, with the help of my friends and family.
Tons has changed for me in the past two years, and all for the better. Out of gratitude for that, I'd like to help the process of better-ing other people's lives, other people like me, and perhaps not like me, who are suffering through a preventable, treatable but still deadly disease.
I walk because AIDS is real, because it's not a moral indictment from heaven and because it's claiming far too many lives in this city.
If you would like to support me in this year's AIDS walk, please visit
Location: Bogota, Colombia
Back to Bogota, for real this time.
That my family would drive 10 hours from Cali to come see me and my boyfriend says a lot about the open mindedness of the Colombian people.
I never thought I'd find someone who would be patient and kind enough to go to the ends of the earth to meet the people who matter most to me.
My last day in South America was spent back where the trip began, in Bogota. And once again, after pleading with customs to let me see my family, I was in the warm embrace of the people who gave me the most wonderful memories from my childhood.
OK, so we're in Bogota and we've got a gaggle of relatives, which means one thing: mini bus. My mom hooked us up from NY, where all things happen, so that we would have a vehicle to take us around the city for the day.
So off we went, with my aunts and my cousins, up to the top of Monserrate (which you saw in our first Bogota installment). From the minute I saw my family waiting for me at the airport, I stopped being scared of the city, I stopped caring about the smog, I stopped worrying about my vacation coming to an end. In some ways, in fact, I felt it had just begun.
In a culture that thrives on openess, it pained me to ever have to hide any part of myself for the greater good of positive hearsay. To show off my partner and his lovely sister to my family was in so many ways a breakthrough and a relief, and it made me realize how lucky I am to not only take this trip, but to have shared it with such amazing people.
Having lunch atop the Andes, looking down at Bogota and catching up on family gossip, I was touched to see my cousins Mafer and Alejandra speaking in English with James and Pam. The last time I saw these girls they were 10, and now they were 16, very much in the throes of sophisticated adolesence, and welcoming perfect strangers into our family.
The day flew by, up the mountain, down the mountain, eat starch, eat starch, more starch -- soon enough it was time to go back to the airport and sure enough I was a weepy mess.
I will be back for sure, this is my home after all.
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Loud, sexy, pushy -- no, I'm not talking about myself, I'm talking about Rio de Janeiro.
Or, as the locals call it, Hee-Ooh de Shaney-Ooh.
I'm not a fan of the Portuguese "language," but I love the beach and I love the sun and I love happy people. Therefore, yes, I love Rio. If only because I went.
After spending a week in Buenos Aires, where everything seems so civilized, landing in Rio on 3 hours of sleep is like getting slapped in the face during mass. Nothing prepares you for it.
The scorching sun, the slums (favellas) littering the mountains and the blue sea make an amazing first impression. And still I wanted to stay.
Rio could use some Swiffer action. Driving through the city is like wandering through the reminants of what must have been an amazingly fabulous party, but now all that's left are tatters and garbage.
For those who are adventurous and love a party, this is the place to go. I have never seen any place in the world like Rio, a city that's stubbornly proud in the middle of so much that just seems so wrong. We have a saying in Spanish "No hay fea sin su gracia ni bonita sin su pero.." which means "every great beauty has its flaw, and every ugly chic has her own charm."
Such is Rio. Perhaps its allure is lost on me because I'm a prissy queen from Chelsea who would sooner see a Starbuck's on every corner instead of a 12 year old prostitute, but I never felt like I could relax in this town. The beach is nice, but I'm not sure it's worth a 15 hour trip from home. The people are very friendly, but being a New Yorker, friendliness is as important to me as is knowing who my neighbors are. Besides, frequenting the gay beach as we did everyday in Rio was like going to the Pines -- I'm surprised I didnt develop an eating disorder. To our left were the most perfect toned American gay bodies that the Northeast had vomitted on South America. With a few pasty Brits for spite.
For all the noise and congestion and grime, Rio is, at its core, a beautiful city. I saw this while hangliding off Sao Conorado -- soaring above the luxury villas that dot the mountains beside the beach, I was amazed that not only was I so far from home and literally flying.
And then I got to see Christ Redeemer...postcards don't do it justice. I really did think back to my fifth grade geograhy class where we spent a day talking about Brazil.
I love Rio because it's a long way from Brooklyn...