Monday, August 16, 2010

The Weird and wacky world of Rideshare

White man in bright sunlight
I traveled up to the North Country to spend some time with the Lando Bear.  For the record, the trip is pretty arduous even though I don’t drive it. We have been dating for almost a year and a half and we have been lucky to have seen each other every weekend since we met with only a few exceptions.  It took a while for me to figure out how to travel from San Francisco to the Shasta County area- being a non-driver and all. In the beginning, I looked toward Greyhound for the most economical option.  Greyhound stops in every teensy tiny California Town on its way up North. It takes about nine hours.  I decided that was not really a good option for me to spend a majority of the weekend traveling on a not-so-clean bus with a bunch of people that looked like they had all just gotten out of jail. With my history with bad boys ….well it would complicate things. I strive to a more simple way of life these days…really I do.
By car, a trip to Anderson Ca from the Bay Area runs approximately a little over 3 hours.  You travel through the Sacramento Valley which features many versions of a long hot bug splattering stretch of road through the valley.  Eventually you hit a bunch of orchards of almost any fruit or nut you can imagine. In the spring –the blossoms are beautiful. Since Orlando owns a car he comes down to see me far more than I go up to see him. I feel a certain amount of guilt, but one long night on Shawn’s Rideshare cures me of all that. Shawn’s Rideshare is my salvation and my bĂȘte noire.
First off –Shawn is a good guy-a great guy actually. He has a folksy amiability that makes you trust him immediately.  He is polite and thorough, which I imagine comes from his military background. He seems to truly enjoy working with people and has a genuine curiosity about who you are what your life is like.  Shawn lives in Ashland Oregon with his wife and kids and works in here in Mountain View Monday through Friday. Most locals recognize the horror of that 8 to 10 hour commute but Shawn saw it as a business opportunity.  Shawn was specifically designed to do this drive, because he never seems to exhibit fatigue or for that matter appear to require sleep. (I envy that! I think of all the plays I could write and essays and  cookbooks !) On Friday evening  Shawn picks up all sorts of people from all sorts of economic backgrounds and lifestyles from all over the Bay Area and charges us a mere $45 to cart us up through the Capitol Corridor. (Not sure if that’s what it’s called when you DRIVE  it, but when you ride Amtrak  that’s what it is called.) Then on Sunday evening he does the whole thing in reverse from Ashland. His service is quite incredible and has been a Godsend to me when I first found it. He formed it because he recognized the need for such a service.  I also suspect that the enterprising lad found the commute a bit lonely until he hit upon this idea. Truly he struck gold because the demand for transport up north for us non-driving types far exceeds supply. I’ve told you about the hell of navigating via Greyhound but Amtrak is  a slightly less hellish way to do it. You take a scenic short train ride to Sacramento and then transfer to their bus service. The busses are clean and spacious. However you do deal with a long bus ride. The shortest I have ever done it train and bus is 5 and a half hours, but it can take 7 hours depending on which time you depart. Sometimes there is an hour wait in Sacramento. It’s near Old Sacto but you probably won’t have enough time to explore it by foot. I don’t hate it too much because most times I have the whole bus to myself for a couple hours. Most all the passengers get off it at Chico since most of them are Chico State students. That’s when I will lay down,  stretching my legs to the seats across the aisle without fear of blocking someone’s trip to the bathroom.  September can be a little rowdy with students on board but it gets mellower as the year progresses.  With exception of the roar of the bus engines, I find the trip somewhat relaxing. I doze, listen to books on CD, watch movies on a portable DVD player and try to write. Writing is far more difficult because of all the jostling about. I have to write in long hand on a spiral ringed notebook because I do not own a lap top. The dull roar of the engines sometimes comes through my earphones and that can annoy me. I looked into noise canceling head phones but those weren’t a sensible purchase for someone on a debt diet.   After doing this infrequent weekend commute, I have devised a method where I take Amtrak up in the afternoon and arrive early evening in Redding then travel back to the Bay Area on Sunday via Shawn’s Rideshare. This enables the Lando Bear and I to spend the maximum amount of time together.  This makes him very happy. I do enjoy making the Lando Bear happy. 
At one point I was doing Shawn’s Rideshare round trip. This did not maximize Lando/PA nuzzle time.  I would leave the Bay Area around 8:30 and arrive at Orlando’s at midnight. Unlike my hirsute honey, I require a strict 8 hours of zzzzzs. He and Shawn are cut from the same cloth when it comes to sleeping. I am old and doze off at 10PM. Orlando can party all night without the use of chemicals, sleep a few hours and bounce out of bed and do his grueling Power 90X work out. That concept is boggling to me.
  One of the greatest services Shawn offers is also one of the biggest reasons the trip can take a long time: his door-to-door pickups and drop offs. My primary complaint is that the rest of the passengers don’t realize that they are living in MY WORLD. I get a little grouchy when I remind myself of this at 1:45 AM while Shawn patiently navigates through the hills and tiny side streets of San Francisco to drop off the OTHER passengers. Usually I am at the end of the aforementioned drop offs and it is agonizing to be so near to my lovely cushion-topped extra thick mattress yet so far. Many times I am tempted to have him drop me off in downtown SF so I can catch a cab but hey – you do the math.  A simple cab ride from downtown to my house costs half of what Shawn charges to drive me for 3 hours from Orlando’s front door to mine. Yes I sit it out. I have a survival kit: A lusty historical fiction with an Irish Lass who makes a go of it in the 19th Century Tea business. My handi wipes that smell of Lavender and Chamomile, The Wordy Shipmates on CD by Sarah Vowell, My ipod, My travel pillow, and my Hall’s mango flavored mouth moistening lozenges with twice the moistening power.  Last night was easy. The two young men I wedged between weren’t smelly or grossly obese.( I have had some smelly encounters on the Rideshare so I also pack some natural scented bergamot and lavender water to spray as needed. It greatly helped a trip where a young man had accidentally gotten dog poop on his sneaker at the previous rest stop.) Regardless of my current rideshare buddie’s good hygiene,  the three of us were not comfortable being so close to one another. Closing my eyes and having my head accidently loll onto one of their shoulders was not an option.  I sat there rigidly for the next few hours listening to a movie I had seen with Lando last month that was playing on the small drop down screen in the van. I couldn’t even really doze. I put on my headphones and still had to listen to the movie whether I wanted to or not, because it was so loud and the screen hung directly in front of my face. Still I count my blessings on this trip and remember a previous one where there was a hippie who reeked of cigarettes and whiskey . He and I and a tiny quiet young woman had to squeeze in together cheek by jowl in the furthest smallest back seat together which really wasn’t designed for 3 people. Lucky me-I got the middle seat. He shifted and wriggled, tossing his braids about and grumbled the whole 5.5 hours, and to complicate things Shawn was doing drop offs  to Chico, somewhere outside of Sacramento, Berkeley and San Rafael before arriving to San Francisco. At every drop off the Hippie would leap from the car and greedily suck down a cigarette. This little scent sensitive cub had to endure the human ashtray the whole ride. My survival kit helped me endure it –last night’s ride was a piece of cake compared to that ride. Shawn’s rideshare is not suitable for people who don’t like to risk anything and cannot tolerate being uncomfortable for 4 or 5 hours. I once rode to Anderson jammed next to a lady in her 50s who said out of the side of her mouth to me in a low but declarative voice, “I am never doing this again.”  Since the options are few and far between, I suck it up and try to just go along for the ride.
Whiskey Town Lake
Lando does all the work
but he gets to play too
big cutie
Splash Lando Splash
Cutie Lando Bear
MMMMM Steak and Ice Cream
The Lando Bear has been feeling shorted lately because of the proliferation of his Bay Area trips. I think I manage to get up to his neck of the woods only once a month.  Heck we are both very tired of doing this trek. I can see that it’s not all that fun to sit in a car all by yourself for over 3 hours –sometimes longer due to loathsome traffic jams around the Sacramento area. What with the marriage storm whirling about us as we traverse each other’s personalities, and the strain of our arduous commutes,  we could both do with a lovely relaxing vacation….but that may not happen for a while yet. For now – we will appreciate those mini-vacations of a stroll through a fog ridden Golden Gate Park  and a lovely afternoon of kayaking and swimming in Whiskey Town Lake. Hopefully these little moments in time will solidify what’s already turning out to be a great relationship.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tigga PLEASE !!! A night of a 1000 Show girls thanks to Peaches Christ

Saturday evening was a busy one for the Lando Bear and myself. We rushed down to the Castro to catch the Beerbust for the Intersection of the Arts at The Edge. Rodney Clay aka drag hostess with the mostest, “Rhoda” ran into us on Friday Night and told us about it as he hurriedly trying to deliver posters and then head home to make jello shots to sell at the Beer Bust. You see Rodney doesn’t only look like a pretty version of everyone’s Aunt or Cousin, he is also an accomplished playwright! Since I am the Bay Area Cub 2010 who supports all fundraising for all theaters, I felt it my duty to support them. I was also pleased to see that Rhoda was also hosting it with one of my Bearlesque Bears, Bo Hoshaw. As Lando and I dashed out to catch the Limo aka the 36 Teresita he asked why I wasn’t wearing my title vest. I said that I would rather be P.A. Cooley, local performer, then the Bay Area Cub tonight. I chose one of my favorite Graphic tees that was silver and black and a pair of washed-out faded jeans that I had inherited doing a One Act years ago. Rhoda mouthed a “Thank you” at me as we entered the Bar. We imbibed some Pabst Blue Ribbon and did a Jello shot and purchased raffle tickets. A quick shout out to all you people looking for a good place to host a fund raiser -I strongly suggest The Edge. Terry the Manager will definitely treat you right.
Alan Quismorio , artistic director of the Asian American Theater was also there because he kind of has his iron in several fires. Intersection of the Arts is one of his many fires. Alan and I had worked together in Ronnie Larson’s A Few Gay Men. (He played my wife, my Orthodox Jewish Wife, and mother of my four sons. Alan is a diminutive Filipino Man. Aint Theater Grand? ) We didn’t have time to see if we won anything on the raffle because we had to dash off to Peaches Christ at the Castro Theater for “ Night of a 1000 Showgirls.

Peaches Christ is a SF Drag Legend when it comes to Midnight Cult Films. This evening’s gala was at the Castro and I think she typically operated out of The Lumiere but earlier in July it was at The Bridge theater. She’s been doing this a long time and she is officially a big deal. She even has her own movie trailer where bats fly out of her kaslopuss.  It started many years ago- possibly almost 20-where she hosted a Midnight Rocky Horror flavored evening of cult movies. ( I tried to find the actual anecdotal history of it’s creation on her website but couldn’t locate that info.)

Note to Mom, you may wish to stop reading this.

Luckily for us my new friend Chuck Chou was saving a place in line for us for the show. I never had been to a Peaches Christ event and was wondering if tonight was going to be typical of what she did. Chuck knows his Peaches and is a big fan. This was a special event I was assured by him. I was a fan of the movie Show Girls and wondered if Orlando had ever seen it. Luckily he hadn’t seen it. For those of you who by chance were unfortunate enough to miss it –allow me to give you a quick summary. Nomi Malone (Saved by the Bell’s Elizabeth Berkley) is a shapely lovely tough chick who is hitching her way to Vegas to become a dancer. It has a bit of an All About Eve thing going on as we watch her rise to stardom, sleeping her way to the top-amongst other things. The film is downright appalling. It is so truly horrifying in its badness so that you will likely NOT forget it-ever! It has fallen the way of Mommie Dearest due to the terrifically over-the-top acting. For the queens who are faint of heart at the live female form be warned. There is an awful lot of Ms Berkley’s poontang on view. Just to give you a flavor of the type of film it was, here is a review from Roger Ebert
The film is not, in short, quite unredeemably bad, and despite its NC-17 rating, it isn't anywhere near as perverted as "Basic Instinct." The actors throw themselves into it with the abandon that material like this demands, and Verhoeven brings to it the same skill he once lavished on good movies, like "The Fourth Man" and "Total Recall." It's just that you can't believe a single second of it, and you do begin to wish that in his research for his next project, Eszterhas makes it his business to learn something about eroticism.Showgirls" is such a waste of a perfectly good NC-17 rating.
   So these big names made a bad but entertaining film. Many reviewers called upon Joe Esterhaz’s (screenplay) fear of women. They all have knives in nearly all his films and they usually enjoy a little Lesbo action. Nomi loves her switchblade and I am sure has had her fair share of fur pie. I was informed during the show that Show Girls was the last NC-17 rating ever given to a film. It was also (Ta DA) – the films 15th Anniversary. Peaches has been doing this party for 13 years. We were first treated by PC’s own film trailer where bats flew out between her legs and her eyes had an evil red glow. Then another trailer for a movie Peaches was in called All About Evil. It looked like a good scream. Then Peaches –all Show-girled-out came on stage with her fun dancers and did a number. Then her sidekick Mar-tiny joined her to perform some prerecorded-lip-synched scenes. The voices were of Peaches and Martiny. A joke was made earlier about Martiny actually rehearsing the bit. Apparently that was an uncommon occurance. Good thing she didn’t have lines to memorize. Martiny is the perfect foil for Peaches larger-than-life glam persona. After listening to Martiny’s pre-recorded listless, flat delivery and inability to do more than one body position, I began to wonder. Where had Peaches found this little…person? Martiny gave off the vibe that she had never worn drag or ever set foot on stage. I felt as if Peaches had plucked a heterosexual dweeby library employee and said “Hey, You want to spice up your nightlife?” Peaches gleefully poked fun at Martiny calling her the most tragic drag queen on earth. I thought “drag queen” was pushing it a bit.

My new facebook friend Drag make-up artist, Cousin Wonderlette made an appearance in a dance number as her ghastly vision of a Showgirl. I couldn’t see if she had done the inbred Hillbilly girl look she favors on her face since I was so high up in the balcony, but her body suit was great. A nude suit complete with a vagina that looked like it was on the verge of becoming a prolapsed uterus. She had a tiny tiny tiny little gold skirt that didn’t do a damn thing to cover those protuberant vaginal lips. During the Nomi Look alike contest –Modest Super Star Heklina pointed out she had a little problem down there. By the way the winner of the Nomi -Look alike contest was a bio girl. Heklina and the other judge Lady Bear iced the astonished girls nipples (as was done in the movie) right there on stage! Hey she shoulda known what she was getting herself into. I thought Heklina was gonna catch hell from the trannys for choosing a real girl as the winner but she diffused them with a cool version of “Get over it.”
So this event was billed as the Night of 1000 Showgirls and we had a lot of show girls -and Peaches introduced every SINGLE one of them. I am not sure exactly how many we had but I would say she had about 75. Bambi Lake who is a local SF legend for reasons I have forgotten appeared as one of the lap dancers. She had a little problem with knowing when to exit. She also had a little problem with appearing to know where the hell she was. This was from Peach’s website.
“And whether we like it or not, legendary local icon Bambi Lake showed up and got onstage, gave lap-dances, and exposed us all to her rack. In true Bambi form she left the event in a rage, demanding I pay her for said unsolicited services, cussing Heklina out for no reason, and then blowing kisses and waving goodbye from a cab. It was a night to remember!”
I can’t wait to see Lady Bear’s video footage of that! As I saw all the lap dancers on stage I said to Orlando and Chuck that I wanted “Tigga Please” to me my Lapdancer. It was a man dressed in a Tigger Costume -if Tigger lived in inner Harlem. I was way up in the Balcony so my chances were pretty slim that “Tigga” would be giving me a lap dance...well I was wrong. Tigga nearly killed himself going over the edge of the balcony rubbing his plushy orange butt in my face! I was more than delighted.
Martiny with Peaches

Icing the winners nipples

Nomi's Revenge Nail

Tigga Please gives me the business

HELP There's a Tigger in my face
Bambi Lake
After all that Hullaballo we settled down to the earnest watching of Show Girls. A Quieter than usual crowd but there were a few humorous lines shouted out. I recognized Leigh Crow's melodius Tenor from time to time. Orlando was astonished and horrified and greatly amused. The writing was dreadful. The acting horrendously surreal. All in all Fun Night at 5 hours long -and Peaches...if you ever need a judge for “Heathers” -Call me. I was without a doubt - the meanest Heather in my high school.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

An actor gets new skin

Beauty Cub strikes again. Recently I completely dismayed the Lando bear as I calmly tried to tell him that I simply must spend money I don’t have. There could be a healthy argument made that I was even spending it on something I don’t need but I can assure you that angle would fall on my deaf ears. All this Cub modeling has been doing a number on me preaching self acceptance to the “would be” Bears out there. I had been getting a few face bookers beginning to ask what was going on. Recently my status would blurt about eating less and considering a little scalpel work. In all seriousness I wasn’t really interested in going under the knife to improve my appearance but I was considering "lasering" my skin to perfection. All these improvements seemed antithetical to my “be yourself be beautiful” sermon.  Wasn’t I out there posing in barely there bear wear to make a statement that having a pot belly is a beautiful thing? Well yes …but I also feel that if you are genuinely unhappy with how you look then you SHOULD do something about it-provided SOMETHING can be done about it. For example-I had gone back on South Beach Last month because some of my favorite pants were no longer beginning to fit. Skinny is something you will never hear as an adjective to describe P.A. Cooley, but hey, clothing is expensive and I didn’t want to adjust my entire wardrobe to accommodate my expanded 37 inch waist. I had to get it back to at least to a 34. After a slightly difficult 2 weeks the weight seemed to melt off and voila! My pants fit again.
Me and Dad
Now what has been bothering me is the sudden tan splotches and light brown speckles that were appearing more on more on my face. I would take a look at all these photos that the photographer had shot and go “what the hell is that?” I’d run to the mirror to confirm what I’d seen. It’s as if a cup of dark tea had been spattered on my face. Most disturbing were these two tan circles appearing between my eye brows. I don’t think I would’ve minded all this marking if it took on a leopard design that kind of wove up from my neck to my forehead like a cool character from Star Trek but no. It didn’t look cool. It didn’t look flattering. They resembled the liver spots that dotted my father’s face. He is over 80 for crying out loud, so did it really start this young??-40 years earlier? Really God?  You mean to tell me dear Lord up above that I am not going to be a cuddly little old white man in an off-white cable knit cardigan smelling of a nice woodsy cologne that all the young gay male nurses in the home love to hug and keep in clean diapers? Instead I’ll be this speckled toad sitting in a ratty run down old house in Vermont with my two goddam brothers- untouched and unloved because I am so unpleasant to look at? Really God??
Orlando reminded me drily that while my father doesn’t wear cologne, nor is he hugged by Gay Male nurses, a lot of people hold him in high regard despite his be-speckled face. He actually still has a great deal of charm and good looks. I don’t mind resembling my father all that much. It seems to have served him well through out the years but I have a vision of my dotage and it DOESN’T INVOLVE ME HAVING AGE SPOTS AND SUN DAMAGED SKIN. Dad drives a tractor all day and we all wonder if he remembers to wear a hat. It’s doubtful given what I am seeing on our Skype conversations these days. My eldest brother, Danny is also “blessed” with this extreme Caucasian skin. He is a college professor, but spends many sunny days outside at the U Mass Orchards looking at apples for …little brown spots. Huh? How bout them apples?  Both of them have had cancerous spots removed. Not too long ago I had heard that my brother had his whole face burned off to avoid any further skin cancer occurrences. Perhaps I exaggerate a bit because he looked fine the last time I saw him. Maybe it was just the outer layer of skin he had burned off.  In fact, My over 50-something Cooley brother looked pretty darned good. Very few wrinkles and speckle free!  My other brother Peter has some stray American Indian blood genetics in him and doesn’t have skin vs sun issues that we boys of proper English descent have. ( It’s okay – we love him anyway.)  So judging from big brother Danny’s experience, I figured if MY Doctor would simply say there was some skin cancer on me then I could have the whole thing paid off on my Insurance. I am very sad to report that he wouldn’t agree to do that. (Some nonsense about it being fraud.) So instead my little procedure is considered “cosmetic” which translates to costing money. Money I shouldn’t be spending if I have put myself on a debt diet…you see? Imagine the Lando bear’s face crumpling in frustration as I exhibit yet another similar characteristic of his ex of 11 years. The love of Gourmet food was the first sign that made him nervous. My fascination with Christmas tree ornaments almost put him over the edge. My mismanagement of funds has him pulling out the few remaining hairs on his adorable head. Hey – if I can learn this weird new thing where I have to keep my apartment tidy, I can learn how to get my debt in order. (And for the record folks…there’s a very good chance that YOUR debt is waaayyyyy worse than mine. I compare with random strangers on the bus all the time.) 
See the speckles? See them?

So I arrive at Kaiser with the new credit card in hand and met two nurses who were very kind. I lifted my chin and said with as much dignity as I could muster and said that I model frequently for other photographic artists but the pay wasn’t that great so try not to charge me an arm and a leg just to get rid of a few liver spots ok? They looked at each other blankly for a second and then the older one said, “Well we could try something more aggressive?” I was intrigued and terrified at the same time.
IPL(Intense Pulsed Light) technology improves the appearance of photo-aged skin, removes age spots (sun-induced freckles), most benign brown pigments, and redness caused by broken capillaries through a process called photo-rejuvenation for face and body. The process is ideal for patients with active lifestyles because the procedure requires no downtime and has a low risk of side effects. IPL systems work on the same principles as lasers  in that light energy is absorbed into particular target cells with colour (chromophores) in the skin. The light energy is converted to heat energy, which causes damage to the specific target area. IPL systems are different to lasers in that they deliver many wavelengths (or colours) in each pulse of light instead of just one wavelength. Most IPL systems use filters to refine the energy output for the treatment of certain areas. This enhances penetration without using excessive energy levels and enables targetting of specific chromophores (these are skin components that absorb light).

IPL therapy is considered a non-ablative (meaning not sandpapering your skin)  resurfacing technique, which means that it targets the lower layers of skin (dermis) without affecting the top layers of skin (epidermis). The results are not as dramatic as ablative resurfacing where both the dermis and epidermis are injured to produce a much more noticeable overall outcome. Yet I wanted a noticeable outcome so the ladies came up with a more INTENSIVE version. You understand? We are damaging the damaged cells deep down further to allow them to heal. –and baby…it hurts. It stings. It feels like tiny pins being PUNCHED into the skin very quickly. The older nurse gave me squeeze balls to squeeze. Yeah…they didn’t really help. Eventually I convinced the younger nurse to wait every 6 stings so it wasn’t quite so fucking awful. Actually….it was her idea. The older nurse’s duty was to distract me from the horrible ordeal by talking to me about my inane life.  Blah Blah My love of older people and when will my partner find a job here in the bay area etc etc etc They didn’t warn me about that scent. One doesn’t forget the smell of burning flesh.
After the pin stabs and bright flashes of light then came the funny cool sprays. They younger nurse seemed to be in charge of the pulses while the older one monitored the laser. It was explained to me that within a few days I would get these coffee grounds on my face. Coffee grounds? “You mean burned skin” I asked? “No!” the younger nurse exclaimed, “ It’s new cells under the older ones. Eventually it will slough off. I spoke in a serious tone and repeated in a statement. “You mean burned skin” –she didn’t answer.   I forgot to mention that I wore these funny stick-on sun glasses but the funny sprays required additional sunglasses over the ones that they placed on me. Then a cream was applied that was cortisone for pain relief and a strong sunblock. That was it. After a significant charge on my credit card I was done. I kept thinking about the Ipad I wanted and maybe a new camera lense but no I opted for clear skin. My face felt …burnt. I panicked as I typically do when I spend money I don’t have and rushed across the street to a Kentucky Fried Chicken to nibble on a few wings to settle my nerves…I would be okay. This was the right thing to do. I would feel better about myself. Really I would. The tea stains would be significantly lightened and I would just have to do this again in four little weeks.