Traitors

String the House Republicans up, the whole fucking lot of them. Osama Bin Laden’s stated goal was to bring the USA to its knees economically. He called Iraq war “America’s gift to me.” He’d be so proud of the GOP and their Sociopathic Teabagging Masters.

Bar Hopping

As unlikely as it may seem at this point in my life, not so long ago—okay, it was ancient history—on any given Friday or Saturday night I could be found at any number of different watering holes in the Phoenix metro area. Sadly, none of them still remain except in memory and in scattered (because one did not take cameras into gay bars at the time except under extraordinary circumstances) photographs.

Maggie’s/Moon’s Truck/His Co. Disco

One of the first clubs I went to in Phoenix (on the occasion of my nineteenth birthday, finally legally able to get in) was a place that went by various names over the years. Located in a non-descript concrete block building on the east side of 16th Street just south of Indian School Road, on that particular night, it was officially going by the newly-rechristened name Moon’s Truck. The actual name was unimportant because I soon learned that regardless of what was on the sign over the entrance, everyone simply referred to it as Maggie’s. It changed names again about a year later to HisCo Disco before finally being forced to close by the neighbors’ continual complaints about noise and other goings-on in the area.

It was a cavernous, magical place, and at the time was known for playing the some of the best music in Phoenix. It had a slightly raised lighted dance floor and a sound system that would leave your ears ringing for hours. I would meet up there with my friend and dance partner Kent and no matter where the evening eventually took us, we always started at Maggie’s.

While outwardly an all-inclusive club (gays, straights, men, women, and people of indeterminate gender) were always welcome at Maggie’s, the one thing I remember most about Hubert, one of the DJs (who did not want women in the club) was how he’d always yell “Uterus!” when one walked in. I found it amusing at the time, even if it embarrasses me now.

I also managed to repeatedly bed two of the bouncers who worked there: Ken and Paul. They didn’t particularly like each other and both were aghast that I would have sex with the other. Awkward!

It was also there that I heard the debut many of disco’s greatest hits, including Donna Summer’s Once Upon a Time album, Cerrone’s Supernature, Alec Costandinos’ Romeo and Juliet, and African Queens by The Three Degrees. The arrival of Supernature coincided with the club putting up a huge new mural over the dance floor, and to this day I still don’t understand the meaning of it:

Both Kent and I had assumed at the time it had been done by some local artist, but I discovered it in a wallpaper sample book several years later—still with no explanation or even name attached to it.

Kent and I decided it was an underground temple discovered by archaeologists on some far off world, something that would actually figure in my still-to-be-completed novel about someone being reuined with his long-lost love from an extraterrestrial past life—an underlying meaning Kent and I also both quickly assigned to Donna’s OUAT.

But I digress.

A few months later, one night I noticed a new face in the DJ booth. The most overwhelming sense of deja vu came over me, leading me to believe that perhaps this stranger was someone I’d known in a previous life. When I ran into him again at the local mall, I took this as a sign that I should at least strike up a conversation, which is exactly what I did.

Steve Golden and I became great friends over the following months, with him eventually becoming one of the great unrequited loves of my life. When he lost his day job at the mall, I got him a work in the mail room at the homebuilder I was working for, and later we both ended up as legal messengers for a prestigious law firm downtown. Unfortunately, it seemed after the Universe threw us together, time or circumstances were never right for our relationship to develop into anything more than an intense friendship; something I mourned for many years after he suddenly up and left all traces of his life in Phoenix for San Francisco in 1983.

Steve doing his thing.

I lost track of Steve after he left, but after I found myself in The City a few years later I secretly hoped our paths would magically cross. They never did. He passed from AIDS in 1991.

The Forum

If Steve wasn’t working or the music was off on any given night, we’d often migrate over to The Forum. This little dive with a sunken wooden dance floor was located in the corner of an L-shaped strip mall at the corner of East McDowell Road and North 41st Place. While a much smaller club, The Forum was still a fun place to go and the music was always good, even if the resident DJ—George—could get a bit surly if you asked what he was playing. I don’t remember it ever being a reliable venue for getting laid, but it was the first place I ever slow-danced with another man and I did form some very deep friendships there, a couple of which survive to this very day. 

Bullwinkle

In the weeks before Maggie’s officially closed, a new bar called Bullwinkle opened on the north side of East McDowell Road, just a few blocks east of 16th Street. It was a small club, on the end of a strip mall that had definitely seen better days. It had the distinct advantage of ample parking and no neighbors nearby who would complain about noise. The interior had also been completely remodeled from the ground up, so it hadn’t yet developed that stale beer-and-embedded-cigarette-smoke smell, and it was truly a joy to go to. Most of the staff from Maggie’s ended up there, including both Steve and Hubert.  I have many memories of the place, including the first time I heard the B52s’ Rock Lobster and Planet Claire. It was there that I also—on the eve of celebrating a year of involuntary celibacy—blew it completely by going home with a hunky, muscled psychologist who actually came up and asked me to dance (I was usually the initiator of these things). Mark was twenty years my senior and ended up taking quite a fancy to me.

The sex with the shrink was great. In fact, I have to say it was the best I’d had at that point in my life. It turned into an a very enjoyable little fling, but eventually ended after I showed up one evening at his house unannounced. That night I learned two important lessons: (1) always call first and (2) don’t date psychologists. They’re more messed up than you are.

Bullwinkle was also the place where I finally made the realization that in those settings, everyone was waiting around for the other guy to make the first move. If you were that guy, chances were good that you wouldn’t be going home alone. Yeah, I faced my share of rejection, but the more it happened the easier it got, and eventually going up to complete strangers became almost second nature to me. It was never effortless, but it definitely put an end to that almost year-long dry spell.

After Hotbods opened and siphoned off most of Bullwinkle’s clientele (not to mention its employees), it turned into Trax, the closest thing Phoenix had at the time to a leather dance bar.

Hotbods

About a couple years after Bullwinkle opened, the owners of the now-defunct Maggie’s opened a new club called Hotbods. It was located at 3437 East McDowell road and dwarfed Maggies in size. I remember Steve (who of course had re-secured his employment with his previous employers) showing me the place shortly before it opened and I was duly impressed. The dance floor, mirror balls and neon had all been relocated from Maggie’s and had been augmented by a state-of-the-art sound system controlled from the second-floor DJ booth. There was a lounge-type bar closed off from the main disco for those who actually wanted to carry on a conversation without screaming, and the sheer scale of the place was something very new for Phoenix at the time.

Hotbods came into full swing after I’d moved to Tucson, but I made numerous trips back to Phoenix when I was single—and even after Dennis and I had gotten together—just to spend an evening there, and I have several strong memories of the place. One concerns the first time I heard the BAM-BAM-BAM Disconet remix of ABBA’s Lay All Your Love on Me, and how after dancing with the adorable little blond cub to the song, and returned home with him  (on his birthday, no less) for a night of carnal abandon. The second involves the multiple weekends I came north with camera in hand to take these photos and watched in amazement as at one point the entire dance floor was taken over by leather-clad men dancing to Linda Clifford’s Don’t Come Cryin To MeHotbods was where I first heard Patrick Cowley, and where one night Steve came over the intercom to announce, “Mark, this is for you,” right before playing Paradise Express’ We are One.

Along with The Connection, Hotbods came to an end after I’d relocated to San Francisco. It will be missed.

The Connection

“Where the men are.” Never were more true words spoken. The Connection had been open for many years, but I never ventured there much until after Dennis and I moved back to Phoenix in 1983. Frankly, the place intimidated me. Silly when I think about it now. Funny how I had a preconceived notion of the type of men that went there, only to have those preconceptions totally thrown out the window once I stepped through those doors. Over the next couple years I made some wonderful friends and had lots of hot nasty sex via that place, and it saddened me no end to hear that it was another one of those venues that did not survive the ravages of the epidemic.

The group St. Tropez (or whatever group of performers they happened to scrape together to lip sync) giving a performance at the Connection’s 1983 Benefit AIDS fundraiser.
Bartender Brent Walker (who moved to San Francisco a few years after I did), the infamous Kenworth, and the dance floor/DJ booth. Ah, memories of all…
The back patio, where many a fine luau was held.

As I wrote earlier, sadly none of these places survive. Maggies/Moon’s Truck/HisCo. Disco is now a car stereo installer. The Forum changed its name and went straight. The space formerly occupied by Bullwinkle/Trax is now Karumba, described as “a latin dance bar.” The Hotbods building is now occupied by a company called Inventory Adjusters, something that appears to be a cross between a pawn shop and a second hand jewelry store.

Meme: Seven Deadly Sins

Lust: Something that I find attractive.
Have you not seen at the pictures I post?

Pride: Something that I like about myself.
My integrity, the fact that if I tell you I’m going to do something I do it.

Sloth: Something that I dislike about myself.
My general laziness and lifelong antipathy for exercise.

Envy: Something I wish I was better at.
I wish I understood more deeply the core concepts that I’m supposed to know for my chosen career.

Gluttony: One of my favorite [fast] foods.
Jack-in-the-Box tacos.

Wrath: Something that gets me angry.
Willful ignorance and the increasing insouciance of the human population.

Greed: Something I can’t get enough of.
Money. Once you have enough of that anything else you might want falls into place.

Denial Ain’t Just a River in Egypt

Yesterday Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s outgoing CEO took the opportunity at what is undoubtedly his last company meeting, to take a swipe at Apple and a couple of other competitors that have largely stolen Microsoft’s thunder in the new age of computing. Apple, Ballmer said, is about being “fashionable,” while Amazon is about being “cheap,” and Google is about “knowing more.” Microsoft, Ballmer said, is about “doing more.”

Ballmer’s swipes and the company’s Siri-bashing ads are just the latest in a string of dismissals from Microsoft toward the company’s rivals, even as those rivals have gone on to greater heights in the areas where they are head-to-head with Microsoft. Apple, described as a “low-volume player” last year by Ballmer, is the most profitable firm making smartphones and tablets, which appear to be the future of popular computing. Google, too, has been the target of barbs from Ballmer, even as that company maintains a massive market share lead over Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

Microsoft has a search engine? Seriously? Who knew? /snark

This One’s Gonna Leave a Mark

I think I’ve experienced enough “Fuck Microsoft!” moments over the years to totally justify posting this.

From MacDailyNews:

Microsoft is (still!) led by a confused clown and hopelessly polluted at its upper levels with political schemers and backstabbers. It’s amazing the bloated carcass can even produce a product at this point, even if it is a product for a market that does not exist outside of Microsoft’s delusional dreams/misleading advertising campaigns.

The company is a failure. That’s why its products are failures, too. GIGO. Garbage In, Garbage Out.

In the end, Microsoft will be a mere footnote; a blotch on the early timeline of computing that nobody will remember fondly, if at all.

As we explained quite clearly last October in yet another prescient Take that even Microsoft could have read, long before they were forced to swallow a $900 million write-off over their Surface flop:

That dumbass kickstand is yet another ill-considered, misguided, corporate committee-driven “differentiation” squirted out of Microsoft’s back door unbidden onto the public.

Microsoft is staffed with stupid and/or lazy people. There’s no other explanation besides crippling narcissism – which is a very real possibility. Most people use iPads while lounging around. All Microsoft’s Surface “team” had to do was buy some real iPads and use them for a few weeks. Steve Jobs himself even demonstrated the iPad while reclining in a comfy leather chair, not sitting upright at a friggin’ desk. Microsoft was shown the way and, once again, they failed to properly follow Apple’s lead. By now, that’s just stupid and/or lazy.

Microsoft suffers from delusions of grandeur. They think they matter and that people will buy their pretend iPad over other pretend iPads because it’s from Microsoft. Microsoft does not matter. Microsoft no longer has the power to sell superfluous products. The world already has iPad. The thinking world finally woke up and moved on from Microsoft’s soul-sapping dreck. That clueless Microsoft haven’t figured this out years ago (Zune, Kin, how many total face-plants do they need?) is illustrative of the depths of their delusions.

More here.

Quote of the Day

Sorry Microsoft. No one cares about this one either.

“So Microsoft unveiled its Surface 2 tablet on Monday and there were absolutely no big surprises. The device is priced at $50 less than the original Surface RT at $449 but overall this is basically the Surface RT with better specs and a presumably improved Windows RT 8.1 operating system. It goes without saying that this will once again not end well for Microsoft.

“Microsoft has done virtually nothing to add consumer appeal to the Surface 2. Throughout its presentation on Monday the company kept stressing that the Surface 2 was a tablet for people who want to be ‘productive,’ and emphasized that it came with the full Microsoft Office Suite… People who need to use Office at home can do so by bringing their laptop home with them. What they will not do, however, is spend $450 on a tablet for their own personal use just because it comes with Office. In fact, they are probably buying a tablet for their own personal use as a way to escape Office and other work-related productivity software.

“The Surface 2′s other problem is Windows RT itself… The Surface RT was a commercial flop, OEMs fled from Windows RT and app developers are less than enthusiastic about making apps for it. Simply making hardware upgrades and implementing very small a price cut to the Surface 2 would have been an acceptable strategy if the original Surface RT had been even a modest hit. But it wasn’t a modest hit: It was a massive bomb that forced Microsoft to write off $900 million.” ~  Brad Reed

Yes, I’m in a mood today.

Bullshit

Like millions of others, I upgraded to iOS7 last week. I generally like it, but it’s taken me only a few days to discover a HUGE fail on the part of Apple and the bloom is definitely off the rose because of it.

The built in photo app now allows you to apply filters to your photos, either when you take them or after the fact. Pretty cool, right?

The problem is that when you transfer them off the phone using Apple’s own Image Transfer application on the Mac (or through iPhoto), all the filter information is stripped and you’re left with only the original photo.

WTF?

And moving the pictures back onto the phone does not restore that lost data.

So all of the original beautifully filtered photos that I took on our trip to Santa Fe are gone (except for the ones I uploaded to Instagram), and the only way I was able to get them back is to re-import them to the phone, reapply the filters, and then email the filtered photos back to me. Yes folks, email.

I would expect this kind of crap from Microsoft, but not Apple.

And did I mention that when you do this you don’t get the full resolution photos, even though they’re being selected to be sent as full size? Nope, they’re only 62% of the original resolution.

This is bullshit.