Saturday, December 29, 2007
A year later, I am packing to leave for Fort Lauderdale, FL, and while away it is highly unlikely that I will add anything to my blog so I wanted to extend my wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful 2008 to all who read this.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The sheer gluttony I showed overeating at nearly every meal the past couple of days is sickening. Suffering from chronic food coma, I have come back to the office seeking solace from my refrigerator which has so much food it could feed an entire African village.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
In honor of the Christmas holiday, I thought I would end tonight's blog entry with an excerpt from one of my favorite holiday tales...
...The Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood
puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came
without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and
puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he
hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store?
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Recently this diner in a doublewide was remodeled, menu revised and hours extended (open now 24-hours on the weekends). The waitstaff told me that a male couple who recently bought the diner were responsible for the changes. Aside from the change in decor in the front room (which still is a bit off in my opinion), there must have been a change in the kitchen as well because everything being served looks far fresher and has much more taste.
Because the new owners have not changed the affordable prices and large portions Victoria's regulars can still be seen lining up in the cramped foyer of the diner waiting for a seat every weekend. Lines tend to get a bit long by 10:30am but everyone always seems to be quite friendly about the wait. Victoria's clientele boasts a large cross-section of Bostonians. On any given weekend you are likely to see young, old, gay, straight, latino, black and asian. My favorite patrons are the African-American women who come after church decked-out in their Sunday finest. They add a touch of elegance if not over the top fashion 'a la roxbury' which I never was exposed to growing up in the suburbs.
An added bonus previously not mentioned if you happen to be a 30- or 40-something is that the music played during weekend brunches is 80s only. I'm sure for the younger clientele, this retro feel fits in just fine with a dining room in a trailor but for someone like myself who grew up during the 80s it is an unexpected and pleasant touch not overlooked and definitely appreciated; brunch always tastes better listening to the likes of Prince, Madonna, and Cindy Lauper.
How to get to Victoria's
Victoria's is located on Mass Avenue on the Dorchester / Roxbury line, at 1024 Massachusetts Avenue. It is easily accessible off of I-93 and as the address indicates, on Mass Ave.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The 20 minute drive into the suburbs looked like a winter wonderland and provided me time to contemplate what I would say when I saw her. I was concerned that due to the stroke or medications she might not be alert, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that nothing was further from the truth. We had a wonderful conversation reminscing of stories from the past, talking about family members and the current holiday season.
At times the conversation was tinged with sadness, and it made me realize how very aware she was /is of her mortality. When sadness would enter her voice, I would acknowledge what she said and let her know I shared her sentiments, but I did not let her dwell on the moment or forget about how lucky we both were to have our family so close (both in proximity and emotionally). That was what our morning together was like; conversations about nothing in particular and enjoying our moment alone together. If I noticed she was sad, I would use my humor or wit to lift both our spirits.
However, when it was time to leave, I could not help but notice that the vivacious grandmother I knew most of my life has in recent years seen her spark dim. My grandfather passing away a decade ago followed by an accident a couple years ago that resulted in her taking a bad fall and now most recently her faltering health has changed the grandmother I have known most of my life. Today's visit made me long to be back in my grandmother's house like when I was a child. My memories of those years bring me tremendous comfort, and I will continue to wrap them around me like a thick blanket to ward off the cold feeling I had when I turned my back to leave her room in the hospital earlier today.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Bank to employees: Pay it forward
FARGO, North Dakota (AP) -- A bank is giving its full-time employees $1,000 each and part-time employees $500 each. There's one condition -- use it for people in need. State Bank and Trust Chief Operating Officer Michael Solberg said each full-time employee will receive $1,000 and each part-time employee will receive $500, as part of a $502,000 "Pay it Forward" initiative. "We're going to really see some huge impact on our community," Solberg said.
Employees were told not to use the money for themselves, their families or families of other bank employees. The bank asked each employee to document the good deed with a video camera. The deadline is June 30. The employees were told they may choose an individual cause, pool their money for a larger project or collaborate with donors outside the bank. The privately owned bank has more than 500 employees, he said. The bank made the announcement over the weekend.
In previous years, the Fargo-based bank has taken 5 percent of the company earnings and divided it up at holiday time among employees.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
According to the Santa Speedo Run website, the run has raised over $150,000 over the past 7 years for the following charities:
September 11th Children’s Fund
Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
Children’s AIDS Program at Boston Medical Center
Children’s Hospital Boston
The Ellie Fund
Eliot Community Human Services
No estimates for the number of runners or the amount of money raised for this year's charity, Women's Lunch Place,was published initially but you can check the Santa Speedo Run website in a few days and I'm sure the information will be available.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
You can check out my account by linking here.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Sunday, December 9, 2007
About Morro de Sao Paulo
For those unfamiliar with the island, the beaches are numbered and while most of the activity on the island is centered around beaches one and two, you can easily walk to these locations (10-minutes by beach) from Pousada Villa dos Corais. The island does not allow cars and most of the foot traffic can be found on the beach as people explore the pristine island. Our pousada and many of those out on beach four provide transportation into the town, but we opted to walk along the beaches each evening. The island is extremely safe and clean so walking even late at night was common. I would highly recommend anyone considering a trip to Morro de Sao Paulo to stay at Pousada Villa dos Corais (pre-season rates were $150 / night and includes breakfast). The grounds are meticulously maintained, accomodations are spacious and secluded, service is impeccable and the food delicious. For those who like to treat their stomach when they travel, we found that most of the restaurants on the island were somewhat lacking, but our Pousada did not disapoint. Next door to the hotel is a delicious restaurant (only open for lunch) that has beautiful views of beach four called Pimenta Rosa and next door (about 100yards away) is a large two story bar that looks like a Brazilian version of a log cabin. I've included both in the picture gallery above for visitors to see. The bar is open until about 11pm each night and is a great place to go grab a drink. We actually split our time fairly evenly between the beach and the inifinity pool with the swim-up bar at Villa dos Corais.
Cars are not allowed on the island which is probably a good thing because the roads (what few there are) are in horrible condition. However, it is very easy to get to the island and it is equally easy getting around once you arrive. Most people who arrive opt to take the boat which leaves from Barra in Salvador. The boat ride is relatively cheap (approximately $25 each way) but takes 2.5 hours. We opted to fly which is more money (approximately $100 each way) but it takes only 15 minutes. Flying is not for the faint of heart. Although one can hire a pilot to fly them to the island (there are two tiny landing strips) most who fly use the services of Addey Taxi Aereo or AeroStar (we used AeroStar). Personally, I loved the flight and had a good time but on both legs the weather was beautiful - I'm not sure I would feel the same if we were flying in bad weather.
Salvador claims to have 365 Catholic churches (one for every day of the year), but easily the most impressive must be the Church and Convent of St. Francis which was built in the early 1700s and includes 37 beautifully tiled mosaics and a profusion of carvings covered in more gold leaf than I have ever seen in my life. The affect is awesome (to use a truly Bostonian adjective).
Truthfully, Salvador was not one of my favorite cities to visit, but it was one of my favorite places to eat. While in Salvador we ate at two restaurants that anyone visiting should try. The first and more famous restaurant is Sorriso da Dada (loosely translated as Dada's Smile). Located in the Pelourinho district, the restaurant is not fancy but provides a very warm and welcoming atmosphere. The woman for whom the restaurant is named leaves a lasting impression and represents the best of traditional Bahian cuisine I have ever had. We also ate at a newer restaurant in Barra (pronounced ba-ha) called Pereira. The restaurant is across from the beach and provides a more modern take on Brasilian cuisine in a very cool setting. Here you will see tourists mingling with young, wealthy Bahians enjoying an evening out. It is next to a Japanese Sushi restaurant (same owners) called Sato which we did not eat at but also looked fun. Sato was busier at night but Pereira always had people out on their beautiful patio / deck.
While in Salvador we stayed at Grande Hotel de Barra. The hotel was conveniently located across from a small beach, and while the accomodations were clean I found the rooms lacking in almost every creature comfort. The rooms were spartan and old (despite being assured we were in a newly renovated room). However, for two days - it was easy to deal with and the location was both safe and seemingly fairly central. Moreover, the hotel was quite affordable costing approximately $90/ day (keep in mind when I was in Brasil the US dollar was quite weak - the rates in Brasilian currency was 190 / night). If one were to book a room at the Grande Hotel de Barra, I would strongly recommend requesting a room facing the beach. We stayed in room 511 which was a corner room, closest to the beach and five stories above the street noise and smells. While walking through Barra, we stumbled across Pousada Manga Rosa which looked beautiful from the outside. According to the B&B website, rooms range from $70 - $100/ night.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Today, Thanksgiving, I ventured about 30km south of Belo Horizonte, to the small town of Brumadinho. Brumadinho happens to have a rather extraordinary contemporary art museum & gardens. The more than 85 acres of Inhotim contain approximatly a half dozen 1-story buildings to showcase their semi-permanent collection of modern artwork (the collection changes every 2 years); many eye-catching outdoor sculptures; and a delicious restaurant. By far, my favorite art installation is from the Canadian artist Janet Cardiff. 40 Part Motet, originally housed in the Tate Museum in London, the exhibit is now at Inhotim. The installation is set in a sterile white room with chairs in the center. Surrounding the chairs are 40 speakers aligned in a large circle clustered in 8 separate groupings of 5 speakers set side-by-side. Each speaker represents a single voice in a church choir.
Although the drive is a bit remote; it was worth the trip.
I wanted to acknowledge the Thanksgiving holiday which has always been a personal favorite of mine. In recent years I have used the time off to travel abroad and visit new places. This year is no exception. My partner and I find ourselves back in Brasil celebrating the day with his family. Later this week we will leave to travel to Salvador, Brasil.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Well we arrived in Belo Horizonte yesterday afternoon. Our flights in the U.S. all took off without a hitch and we were able to stretch out a bit more comfortably in the EconomyPlus section of our United Airlines flight. Sadly, these seats can not compare to the comforts available in First or Business Class and after becoming accustomed to such travel for the past several years, it is difficult to be thankful but after travelling to Brazil in economy for the first time last year - the extra leg room and the empty seat between my partner and I was heaven. We had to wait for a few hours in S.P.s busy city airport while heavy rains fell. After the tragedy at the airport a few months ago, everyone who works at Congonhas aeroporto is rightly cautious when the weather is bad. The landing strips at Congonhas are much shorter (or so it seems) than the ever so short runways at NYC LaGuardia airport so we did not complain much when rain caused the airport to close briefly.
The picture above shows how urban Belo Horizonte is. The city which has a downtown population of approximately 2.5M is very modern with architecture to match, and has some of the steepest hills I~ve ever seen in a city. For those who have travelled to San Francisco, you will appreciate my description when I explain that parts of Belo are far steeper. Combine the fact that many of these cobbled streets can have rain come gushing down these massive inclines and you will understand why driving in bad weather in this city is not for the faint of heart. Hopefully I will be able to log on again and have something more interesting to write about then our flight down to Brazil or our two-hour delay in S.P. airport.
Incidentally, it is warm and sunny here today...31 degrees Celsius or approximately 85-90 degrees Farenheight with a gentle breeze and plenty of sun.
Friday, November 16, 2007
This weekend I leave for Brasil, and I can hardly wait. The two week trip will take me to my partner's hometown, Belo Horizonte, as well as to Salvador, Morro de Sao Paolo, and Sao Paolo.
I think travelling to Brasil this time of year is perfect. The weather is already warm and inviting but there are far fewer crowds and it is easier to make hotel and airline reservations.
While on vacation my access to a computer will be limited so I don't think I'll be adding many posts while travelling. However, I will make it a point to post some pictures after I return.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Let me explain... Based on my definition, a person can value honesty but not always act honestly. However, one does not ‘value’ that trait conditionally by only exhibting that 'value' when it is convenient. I believe that is an important distinction. I don't think one would 'value' honesty if it was contextual. An individual might think honesty is a noble trait, but if a person is only honest when it suits them then maybe it is not "a quality they hold dear and which defines their character" to paraphrase my definition. The idea that one's values change based on context I find frightening. I recognize that I am an audience of one reading my blog, but I can not help but ask back, “Do you agree?” Am I the only one to find this troubling?
The reason I have been thinking about this is because I am bothered by what I’ll refer to as “shifting values”. An example of this is the current issue of waterboarding by our military to extract information from terrorists. I understand that for many Americans they no longer are bothered by the idea of torturing terrorists – esp. if it might yield life-saving information. It is true that I find this change in attitude troubling – but I get it. The problem I have is when people start changing the definition of what constitutes torture because they are uncomfortable saying “I support torture” or to be more offensive "I have no problem torturing people". This is what I mean by "shifting values". Most people (including many who would support waterboarding in certain situations) are uncomfortable verbalizing their support for torture so they place caveats on the practice to intellectualize or justify their position. I don't buy that argument anymore than I agree with a person who says they value honesty but justify situations where it is palatable to lie.
Something I find interesting about values is that we sometimes delude ourselves into thinking we value honesty, integrity, human rights, (insert whatever value-language you like), but until those values are challenged it is hard to say with certainty if we really live them. Anyone can be a pillar of integrity when posed with an hypothetical - when we are forced to live those values is when I think you truly understand the character of an individual. When tested - do you live your values or do you momentarily forget about them or make exceptions because you find them inconvenient?
I’ll get off my soap box as I continue to work through this and maybe in time I’ll be able to more eloquently explain my concerns – I feel I’ve done a poor job, but it has been a bit cathartic to get it out on paper (well its not exactly on paper…)
Monday, November 12, 2007
On Sunday, November 11th I went to see the Police on the second leg of their farewell tour. They came to Boston earlier this summer and played Fenway Park, but I was unable to get tickets to that event.
This weekend, I was able to score tickets to see the band as they rocked Boston one last time and it was worth every penny. They played most of their hits and the show was great. If you get the chance to see them on any of their remaining dates, I would definitely recommend seeing them.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
The following night, Thursday, November 8th, I attended the opening of DScale which according to the website is a “new and provocative luxury furnishing atelier”. However you want to describe it, I want to thank Dennis Duffy, Duffy Design Group, for opening such a beautiful store on Harrison Avenue in Boston’s South End neighborhood.
The opening party was absolutely packed on Thursday night. Passed hors d’oeuvres, white wine and champagne provided by Rocca (a restaurant designed by Dennis’design firm) helped make the party a feast for both the eyes and taste buds. Dennis has raised the bar with the opening of DScale and it will be the envy of retailers in the neighborhood.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Earlier this morning such a situation occurred. I was attending a class and I thought one of the guest speakers was quite charming. Within the first few minutes of his speaking, I found my attention wandering looking for clues to either affirm or challenge my assumption. My attention wandered from the subject matter - to how handsome he looked - back to the subject again - to how soothing his voice sounded and so on and so forth all the while quietly asserting or refuting my initial assumption that the speaker was gay.
I had no intention of flirting with the speaker, and I doubt I will see the person again. So why was his sexual orientation of such great interest to me and why does this happen? These situations never play out when I meet a woman. I never assume a sexual orientation or seek clues to validate my assumption. Although I’ve never asked any of my heterosexual male friends, I’m fairly confident that this is not something that crosses their mind. Make no mistake, they might fantasize about an attractive woman being a lesbian (I still don’t understand that fantasy), but I don’t believe they obsess over the ambiguity of an individual’s sexual identity.
I think part of the reason this happens is because on a very base / fundamental level, it is really hard for me to believe (ironically this only applies to people I’m attracted to) that they would not be gay. I always find myself wondering “How could they not be attracted to a man?” This is an odd epiphany, considering for years the gay community has asked the world to take note that sexual identity is not a choice and here I am confessing on some level, I would like these attractive men only (of course – how shallow is that) to reconsider – so to speak. Wishful thinking or not, I doubt these distractions of mine will subside – there is no easy way for me to intellectualize my sex drive.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Boston is expected to be fairly mild today with temperatures in the low 60s, so I plan on skipping the gym after work to walk around the South End to see all the kids in the neighborhood (of which there are many) decked out in their costumes. When the weather cooperates (and it has plenty in the recent past), Halloween in Boston can be a real treat.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Sadly, this list of scrolling pictures does not include photographs from past visits to great European cities like Edinburgh, Prague, Milan and Athens but for now these will do. I promise I will do my best to reconcile the problem by taking many pictures on return visits to those cities.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
I have to admit the entire issue is quite appealing. I consider myself a bit of a travel junkie, and I love to read about visiting exotic locations. Although Matt did not take the pictures for my favorite article "A Year of Gay Island Hopping", I think his cover picture is the most inviting in the entire issue.
Martha's Vineyard made OUTTRAVELER's top 12 list and despite it's proximity to my hometown, Boston, MA, I have never been there. Ironically I have traveled across the globe to relax on some of Phuket, Thailand's most beautiful beaches, and I have trekked to the remote island of Fernando de Noronha, Brasil in the South Atlantic Ocean. Both destinations were also featured in the article as one of 12 island destinations not to miss.
As average temperatures in Boston dip into the 50s and the days quickly shorten, I'll have to keep pictures like the one my cousin took on this month's OUTTRAVELER close at hand to keep me warm and not too depressed about the on set of winter...
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
This week, Ben Affleck's new film, Gone Baby Gone, opened in Boston. Ben who has been out of the spotlight for a while is back in a new role as director. This being his directorial debut, I'm more than a little curious to see it. The story is based on the novel of the same name by local author Dennis Lehane. This is the same best selling author who wrote Mystic River -- notice a trend?
While I have yet to see the film, initial reviews for Ben, his brother Casey who stars in the film and the rest of the cast seem to be mostly positive. This film, like last year's detective flick, The Departed, was filmed in some of this city's grittier neighborhoods Southie and Dorchester. If you happen to see the film, please shoot me an e-mail and let me know your thoughts.
About Gone Baby Gone (As provided by Dennis Lehane's website):
The tough neighborhood of Dorchester, MA is no place for the innocent or the weak. A territory defined by hard heads and even harder luck, its streets are littered with the detritus of broken families, hearts, dreams. Now, one of its youngest is missing. Private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro don't want the case. But after pleas from the child's aunt, they open an investigation that will ultimately risk everything—their relationship, their sanity, and even their lives—to find a little girl-lost.
Monday, October 15, 2007
I'm a bit of a sucker for images of sexy athletes. My real weakness seems to be for soccer, hockey and baseball players and (of course) swimmers and divers. Feel welcome to continue to send me similar 'jock-shots'. I can't guarantee that I will post them, but I will certainly appreciate having them passed along.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Since I'm still a novice at navigating this site, I'm not sure how to add video clips to my entries... If you would like to see the clip which is 80-seconds long, link to Dear Abby Supports Gay Marriage.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
In my humble opinion, Boston is more of a large town rather than a big city. However, because it played such a prominent role in American history, politics and culture (especially in the 20th century), the city's image to those who have never visited is larger than life. Needless to say, Boston does not appear on many celebs radar screens unless they are born here and have family still in the area (e.g. Jay Leno, Matt Damon, Ben and Casey Affleck, Bridgette Moynihan, etc...) As a matter of fact in all my time living in Boston I've seen far more musicians than actors.
However, lately Boston has had more than its share of celebrity sightings. Indeed, by L.A. or NYC standards, our sightings would be considered 'cute' or 'quaint', but as compared to the recent past, there seeems to be a rash of A-list celebrities walking about town and filming here.
In the last month Kate Hudson, Alec Baldwin, Jason Biggs, and Dane Cook were in town filming scenes from their upcoming film, "Bachelor 2".
Jada Pinkett-Smith, Annette Bening, Debra Messing Candice Bergen and Meg Ryan have all been spotted ordering their double chai lattes at local Starbucks and popping into one of the many boutiques that line Newbury Street (Boston's version of Rodeo Ave) while filming "The Women".
And two personal favorites, Steve Martin and Andy Garcia have been all over the BackBay filming "Pink Panther 2".
The reason for the increased filming is two-fold, a recent tax credit given to film makers that makes it quite affordable as compared to other locations and the weak American Dollar which makes filming in Europe and other parts of the world even more cost-prohibitive. Hence filming movies like Pink Panther 2 - which is suppose to take place in Paris.
The local paper, The Boston Globe, provides a nice collection of photos from many of the celebrities listed above. To view these you can link to Celebrities in Boston.
Monday, October 8, 2007
The taller vertical pictures in the middle are all pictures of me while away on vacation. The first shows me sitting on the ruins of Caesar's Palace in Rome, the second is a snapshot in Schipol Airport in Amsterdam impatiently awaiting a flight, the third is at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, and the final picture is of me just outside the Design Center in Buenos Aires. All exceptional cities and places I would recommend to travelers.
Try to guess the location of the smaller horizontal photos. Here is a hint...the photographs on top represent cities and places in the Northern hemisphere and the bottom row of horizontal pictures are from cities and places in the Southern hemisphere. Some of these pictures should be easy to figure out - others might prove to be more difficult to place.