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2011/06/17

Just Say 'NO' To Social Terrorists: Exercise Your Dollar Power - Shop Elsewhere

Target is feeling the effects of the economy, no doubt. When one is struggling just to put food on the table and keep a roof over one’s head, frivolous things like – well, most of what Target has to offer, kind of go by the wayside. They are also feeling the heat of their politically aware shareholders.

At their Annual General Meeting in Pittsburg earlier this month, Gregg W. Steinhafel, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Target Corp. got grilled big time; peppered with questions regarding the company’s political contributions to Republican Tom Emmer. Emmer, a gubernatorial candidate during Minnesota’s last election season is staunchly anti-gay and against same-sex marriage. He also has ties to an organization associated with a music group, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide Intl., Inc. which brings it’s anti-gay, supposedly-Christian hard rock ministry to public schools and other youth organizations. Some of Emmer’s campaign monies went directly to this group which set off a shit storm of controversy. The leader of the music group, Bradlee Dean, once told a radio audience that Muslim countries that call for the execution of gays and lesbians are “more moral than even the American Christians.”

Bradlee Dean went on record with the following from a story posted by the Minnesota Independent:

“Muslims are calling for the executions of homosexuals in America. This just shows you they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian God, but they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do, because these people are livid about enforcing their laws. They know homosexuality is an abomination."

The group’s music also contains hateful, horribly homophobic lyrics inciting violence against gays.

Recently Rep. Ernie Leidiger invited Dean to open a legislative session at the Minnesota House of Representatives with a prayer, which resulted in another shit storm of controversy; with the Democrats denouncing the action and the Republicans remaining mum. On the plus side, bat-shit crazy, future GOP presidential candidate Michelle Bachman came to Dean’s defense, lauding his group’s focus and offering up a sort of prayer for them - successfully demonstrating once again just how stupid that woman really is.

Michelle Bachman is an ass (a crazy, dangerous ass). So is Ernie Leidiger. Bradlee Dean, too (Bradlee? - God is not pleased with you!). Tom Emmer is a huge ass. He, the hero of Hockey-Dads here in MN, is a real butthole. And Gregg Steinhafel? Gee. Yeah. I’m thinking if it has had its finger in the ass and that finger smells like ass – then, yep – I’m guessing major A-hole.

You see, Gregg hasn’t exactly apologized for that whole “we-support-those-who-call-for-the-execution-of-gay-people” thing. In fact, he found the questions – of which there were several – annoying and asked at one point if anyone had a question not related to political giving. Nor will he go on record promising that it won’t happen in the future. Yes, he did pay lip service, talking about having the right process in place, saying Target would be more careful in the future in regards to political donations – but, read between the lines and I think what he’s really saying is that Target will be more careful about not getting caught supporting anti-gay causes in the future. Gregg is kind of a snake. He has been ever since he came on board.

This whole anti-gay attitude at Target is odd, because without the legion of gays working behind the scenes at Target Corporate - without their creativity and input - Target would be, well, Wal-Mart (which recently banned Bradlee Dean’s group from soliciting their customers in their parking lots). I know, because I used to be one of those gays. I was at Target Corporate for six and half years. For several of those years I had a very homophobic boss – a real hateful ass, whose own children will one day grow up and hate him. But then for four and half of those years I had a couple of really GREAT bosses. Granted, I was not one of those gays that shaped the look and feel of Target (I’m not a fashion-fag – those that are set my eyes rolling), but I did contribute to it in my way. Yes, I was a peon, a nothing, but I was never interested in playing ‘the game’ – which pretty much explains why I had to leave after six and a half years.

When the story about the political donation to Emmer broke, the gay community called for a boycott of Target and I am happy to say I have not set foot in one since. I also sold my stock and cashed out my 401k. I am Target-Free now. I think everyone should be.

I now shop at my grocery store, a drug store and a dollar store. I buy my clothing at a large clothing/household goods retailer with no record of giving monies to anti-gay causes (no, not Wal-Mart). By the way, the clothing is of much better quality -Targets’ mens clothing has always sucked.

I no longer waste emotion on people as ridiculous as Michelle Bachman and Bradlee Dean; they will get what they deserve – although I do keep a wary eye out for them. After all, they are dangerous people – social terrorists - and I believe it is in my best interest to know where they are and what they’re doing. And I’d call for Gregg Stienhafel’s resignation – but you know what? I’ll let my money do my talking for me. My dollars are my power for change.

And that’s where your power lies, too.

So use your power wisely.

Boycott Target.

2011/06/10

Kristine W. Scores Her 16th #1

"Fade" hits the top of the Dance/Club Play chart at Billboard this week. This marks the 16th time she has reached the pinnacle.

I purchased Remix Collections #1 and #2, and have found that my favorite remixes are Chris Thomas' Black & Blue Club Mix (9:08) and the Johnny Vicious Warehouse Mix (8:11). Both are stellar. The Chris Thomas mix reminds me of some old Donna Summer remixes. Both these can be found on the second collection. As for Collection #1, I really wish the versions were longer. They all feel like radio edits and are numbingly the same. It would have been nice to hear the remixers take and open up the song in a longer format. A third remix collection just came out. I haven’t had the opportunity to purchase it or listen to it yet.

This song left me a little cold. Kristine’s voice seems a little on the tired side. There is a throat rasp that lends credence to such a suspicion. Also, the high notes are rather broad, having lost that marvelous focus that made her superior to other divas. Okay, so I’m being picky here… even less than perfect Kristine W. is still damn good music. I do wish she’d take some time off and rest her throat, though.

Her latest tour – “Love Never Fades” - will land in Minneapolis on Sunday, June 26, 2011 at the Lush Bar located at 990 Central Avenue NE as part of Minneapolis Gay Pride Week. Something tells me I will be hitting the town that night.

So – just because I love lists and Billboard Chart rankings, here is a list of Kristine’s hits and how the ranked on Billboard’s Dance/Club Play chart:

1994 Feel What You Want - 1
1996 One More Try - 1
1997 Land of the Living - 1
2000 Stronger - 1
2001 Lovin' You - 1
2003 Some Lovin' - 1
2003 Fly Again - 1
2004 Save My Soul - 1
2005 The Wonder of It All - 1
2006 I'll Be Your Light - 2
2007 Walk Away- Tony Moran featuring Kristine W - 1
2008 The Boss - 1
2008 Never - 1
2009 Love Is the Look - 1
2009 Be Alright - 1
2009 The Power of Music - 1
2011 Fade - 1

Congrats to Kristine and all those who work for her organization!

2011/06/03

Strange Days for Lemmings: How Safe is Unsafe Sex?

What strange times we live in. It was easy in the late eighties, early nineties; have unsafe sex, get HIV and you die. It was black and white and most people were on board with that whole ‘staying alive’ thing. Safe sex was ‘the word’ sold and as gay men, we bought it, because our lives depended upon it. Then the drug cocktails came along, namely the protease inhibitors, and people began living longer with HIV. The funerals of friends and partners became less and less frequent. And those living with HIV? They got stronger and healthier.

So healthy, they began to forget the lessons learned. Fast forward ten years and they began to backslide. Even those spared the horror of HIV began to tumble down the rabbit hole. High risk behaviors previously shunned were cracking open the door to see if they might be welcome once more. And, to the surprise of many, they were. Sure, condoms were always made available, but fewer were choosing to use them. At sex clubs, tops jonesing for the primal pleasure of seeding a hot ass looked the other way if you approached them with a pair of raincoats in your palm.

Now, a recent study conducted by NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has enough substantiated evidence to state that people who are positive, but on a disciplined drug regimen, have a healthy immune system, and are able to maintain a status of non-detectable have a considerably small chance of passing on HIV to their sexual partners. And now the flood gates opened? Well, to be fair, the floodgates opened some time before that particular study was officially announced – two to three years prior, to be exact.

Hey, it makes sense – that someone who is HIV+, and is undetectable (less than 50 or 75 copies of the virus), would have less of a chance of passing the virus on. So… that means that not only is having sex with an HIV+ no longer much of a risk, it also translated to people engaging in unsafe sex with HIV+ people. In fact, a highly controversial study conducted by the Swiss in 2008 seemed to support that mindset - even though it was a study about unprotected vaginal sex. Still, people heard what they wanted to hear.

So, given the propensity for people to lie about their status, the rush, thrill, and desire to have sex without a condom, and the message currently coming from the scientific community… how safe is unsafe sex?

Two words: gonorrhea and syphilis. Both of these STDs are at epidemic levels in the gay community (mostly due to the ParTy scene, but hey… everyone having unsafe sex is guilty). Given that, every three months or so, I have an STD scare which has me running to my doctor in a panic. Fortunately they’ve been just that… panics. But what about the time when it’s not? The idea of the CDC having a big old file on yours truly doesn’t light up my heart E.T. style.

Then again… there is that little, tiny possibility that you could indeed get the virus. Not a big deal? Really? I suggest you talk to someone who is HIV+. They’d probably disagree. Those drugs are expensive (thank you, greedy drug companies) and, without good health insurance, unattainable. Plus the many doctor visits, the wasting, the stigma, the complications, and the constant worry. But some still live in a bubble of denial, believing that to become positive is not a game changer.

And then… there are those, like myself, who have dipped our toes in the waters of unsafe sex and remain unsure of the temperature. Let’s face it, at my age and given my physical deficiencies (not-so-good-looking, lack of hair, big ears, drooping face, barely above average body – see pic above – yep, that’s me two weeks ago), my opportunities for some kick-ass, no-strings sex are becoming fewer and fewer. Add to that the fact that dirty, filthy, slutty, totally anonymous, unsafe sex with multiple partners can be hot as hell (and trips my circuits) and you have something of an adolescent dilemma: if everybody else jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?

What am I, a lemming?

Maybe. There is something intoxicating about attending a warehouse party, making your way down into the basement, walking up the steps to that little dark alcove with the king sized platform, getting on top of it on all fours and offering your ass up to any comer (or cummer, as the case may be). Just the thought of taking dick after dick, load after load fuels many a gangbang fantasy. Also, bareback porn, which has been out there for some time now, is becoming even more prevalent, which not only makes it more enticing, it also makes it seem like more of a possibility: as in something to act out in real life. And BBRTS? Very popular these days. Nice guys, too. There’s something refreshing about men being so out in the open about something kept in the dark (barebacking) by those afraid of the light. They also tend to be more upfront about their HIV status and that’s rather ironic, now isn’t it?

So here we are, caught between two worlds. The total opposite of where we as a community were some 25 years ago. The choice was obvious then… and, to be honest, it still is. But you have to admit that the waters have been muddied.

I am amazed by just how volatile people become about barebacking – but then, lives are at stake, right? Hey, I’m not anyone’s role model. I’m more of a cautionary tale. Just in the past two weeks I had safe sex and bareback sex. They were both exciting… of course, the set ups had a lot to do with just how stimulating the sex was.

Two Friday’s ago, I stopped by the bog and ran into one of my favorite regulars – he reminds me of a hot Fred Durst. He’s just the sweetest guy in the world. Nice eight inch dick, too. We always play safe and usually in some very non-traditional places – under a railroad bridge, behind a tree by the bog, and, on this particular Friday, up on a hill by one of my favorite fallen trees. It was gray and raining on and off. There was a break in the down pour as he drove into the parking lot. I knew it was him, I know his vehicle. I wasn’t exactly prepared for the sort of encounter we usually have, so I ran off into the woods, thinking he wouldn’t come looking for me, given the rain and his propensity for privacy. But, apparently, he was horny enough to do just that. I told him I wasn’t prepared – no condom. He said no problem. Seems for once he was prepared with both a condom and poppers! He followed me to my favorite fallen tree. I took him in my mouth, and then took it up the ass. It was brief, but very satisfying. The poppers he had were something new that I had never tried… and now plan to track down – really powerful stuff. I let him exit the woods first and remained behind until I was sure he’d driven away. He never fails to leave me breathless and a bit giddy. I like to savor that. Bottom line: we played with a condom, so no worries. And no clean-up!

Then, nine days later (yes, I’m working on my compulsivity), I’m mowing lawn at one of my rental properties (it’s empty), when in the driveway pulls an SUV I’ve never seen before. I happened to be on-line updating my pics on one of my regular hook-up sites earlier that morning when I get hit on by someone who qualifies as ‘a definite possibility’. He’s tall, athletic, and has an eight inch beauty. He’s very upfront about what he wants and that is to fuck me. ASAP. I explain that I have to go mow a lawn and that the place is empty, and that we could do it in the garage. He’s game and, much to my surprise and delight, he’s not a no-show. I stop mowing and open the garage door. He slips in, and after very little preamble, he really slips in… and plows me good and hard. He shoots and scores and then is nice enough to wait around until I get myself off. I hadn’t cum in nine days, so it was somewhat impressive. And thick. And creamy white. We clean up, dress, I open up the garage door and we bid one another adieu. Then I make a beeline for home, where I can douche, clean out my ass and hope for the best. As in… that he’s as DDF as he claims to be.

Still, I worry. Bottom line: unsafe sex? Still unsafe.

And now what? Am I at a crossroads? Is some change coming? Is this the start of a new chapter. A new lease on life? Will I ever just shut up about this and do the right thing and abstain from having sex without a condom? Or will I still be struggling with these same issues and a year from now still be asking these same questions?

Probably.

I guess I’m becoming something of a professional fence sitter. But given my vantage point? The view’s not bad at all.

But views change. As for a definitive answer?

Sorry.

No where in sight, children.