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Attention.

It’s only natural that I noticed the two Harleys parked outside of Dunkin’ Donuts as I made my way in for my daily iced tea. There was nothing unremarkable about them aside from the fact that they were Harleys. The riders were apparently in the store.

As I made my way through the double doored entrance, I held the outdoor for the two customers that were exiting. The quick glance confirmed that it was probably the owners of the aforementioned Harleys. The first was one walked by as he looked at me quickly, the second one followed. He had a shaved head and a good sized beard. He had a leather vest on over a Harley t-shirt. As I held the door, he grinned at me and said something I didn’t expect.

“Thanks, cub.”

I think I might have blushed.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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Community.

It’s no secret that Earl and I have been somewhat hosting a semi-monthly bear night at the only gay bar left in our fine little city. Tonight was the latest bear night and with it being pride weekend and all, we thought folks would be in a festive mood.

Earl and I like to make every one of our bear nights extra special by adding extra goodies; we usually have a 50/50 raffle to raise money for the local HIV related charities, we give away lots of door prizes and we bring goodies for the crowd to snack on. We’re not that much different than bear nights in neighbouring cities but it’s something a little different for the crowd in our area and we like to think they enjoy it. To cover the expense of gathering the prizes, buying the food, etc., we charge a cover charge at the front door. This gets you entered into the drawings automatically and as I mentioned before, gets you in the door where we like to think you’ll enjoy something a little bit extra. As an added bonus we had professional photographers taking photos for those that were interested in sprucing up their online existence or even wanted a print of something extra special for their living room.

Now, I’m going to sound a bit elitist here, but over the past year or so the typical crowd at the bar has, well, degraded. What was once the hangout for the 30+ crowd and those that wanted to enjoy a somewhat civilised party has turned into the catch-all for anything and everything gay in our region. This is not uncommon in the days of instant gratification and hook-up through the internet, but nonetheless the population of the bar has tipped in the favour of the 18-25 crowd with an emphasis on the lower half. Anyone under 21 is marked with large “X”s on both hands. Some claim that the permanent marker indicators sweat off whilst they’re dancing but we know better.

But I digress.

Tonight we began the night by charging our standard cover charge of $5.00. The crowd started picking up around 11 and at 11:45 I had a line of about 10 people or so waiting to show their ID and pay their money. This is when one of the employees of the bar came up to me and said that we had to stop charging the cover charge immediately. I asked him why, he replied that he was getting urgent text messages from people that said they didn’t like the $5.00 cover charge and that word was getting out about it and it would kill the crowd.

Here’s the thing. (I say that a lot). It’s no secret that we were charging a $5.00 cover charge. We never make it a secret. We include that information on all mentions of our events. Making it a secret would be moronic.

I countered that you can’t stop charging a cover charge at five minutes until midnight because that would be very unfair to those that had already paid. He said he didn’t care, we needed to stop the cover charge. To prove his point, he called the owner of the bar and got him to agree.

So we stopped charging the cover charge.

At 12:15 we gave away half of the door prizes; we usually have the drawings closer to 1. At 1 a.m. I shot away whatever food was left, packed up our toys and got the hell out of there.

I was pissed.

I don’t care about the money. Earl hates to hear me say that but I couldn’t care less about the money; we had barely covered our expenses but it wouldn’t be a total loss. What did anger me though is that the rules of the game changed one third of the way into the night, and that was extremely unfair to those that had paid to get into the bar. This change in the rules significantly changed the vibe of the party into some sort of youth-infested rap fest that was making the bears in the crowd quite uncomfortable. So much for bear night.

Tonight was the last time that Earl and I will ever contribute a bear night to the community in this area. We will continue to support our friends as we travel here and there but we are _done_ with what we had going here.

I’ve picked up my toys and brought them home.

Wet.

So last night I joined Earl and the Cubster in Erie, Pa. for “Drenched Fur 5”, a gathering of bears from all over for a weekend of bear fun, including a private party at an indoor waterpark.

Earl and Jamie got there Friday afternoon and set up shop in the vendor mall area, where they sold Jamie’s bear clothing. Business was pretty good, from what I hear, and the two of them are coming up with even more ways to promote the business and such. I think my web development skills have been enlisted for a new website.

I took the long way there yesterday, leaving the house around 10:30 and getting there at 6. (It’s usually a five or so hour drive). I drove through many small villages in the Southern Tier and could have done so all night, but when I realised that it was getting a little late, I hopped onto the the Southern Tier Expressway at Olean and used the fast route for the final 100 miles or so.

There is always LOTS of food at a bear run and this weekend was no exception. Attendance warranted overtaking the entire Quality Inn in Erie, Pa. and the hospitality was quite impressive. The dinner buffet was quite nice and Earl, Jamie and I made new friends and visited with those that we know from the community.

After dinner was relaxed a bit and hopped on the shuttle bus to the indoor water park, which was opened exclusively for the bears from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. Jamie and I rode every water slide in the park (some several times), including the “Hurricane” where you shoot down at 40 MPH and get thrown into this donut shaped thing, spun around and then you fall through the whole in the middle into a pool underneath. Like the staff at the hotel, the staff at the water park seemed to be enjoying all the ensuing merriment of the bear run. By 1 a.m. we were wiped out and headed back to the hotel, after someone was kind enough to take our photo.

DSC03466.jpg

There was a late night buffet in place of the traditional after hours party. I had a quick snack and hit the hay relatively early for this sort of thing; Earl and Jamie lingered longer and came to the room a bit later, claiming that I was talking in my sleep when they got to the room. Unfortunately they won’t tell me what I was saying.

All in all it was a very good night and I’m glad I made the trek out there for the fun. I’m looking forward to next year’s Drenched Fur.

Contentment.

Earl and I are in Buffalo for the weekend for “Buffalo Bear Trap”: a gathering of furry men of all ages and sorts (and those that admire of them) where we meet up, bump bellies, party a bit and hang out with old and make new friends. The festivities began last night.

I don’t know if it’s the recent bout of illness, a feeling of “turning a corner” in my life or what but I am the most content that I have been in a very long time. I’m in full relaxation mode this weekend. I’m happy with the way I feel physically but more importantly I’m happy with where my heads is at. I guess my contentment could be interpreted as “completeness”. I feel complete these days. Complete and comfortable. I am happy with who and what I am. Complete and comfortable therefore equals contentment.

Last night I was the “sound designer” for the performances last night, which included a musical guest (complete with video) and two stand-up comedians. Kendall took the stage first with his music, followed by Kristen Becker and Frank DeCaro of Sirius Satellite radio’s OutQ. The performances went well and my DJ sets before and afterward seemed to go over well with the crowd. The space was basically a large box with 25 foot ceilings and the group rented a sound system. It was a bit of a challenge to keep things and sounding good without a huge amount of echo.

One of the best things about the weekend is meeting up with our friends Steve and Tim. It’s been a year since we’ve seen them but we seem to pick up right where we left off a year ago. Our schedules have been too crazy to get together any more than that, we need to make a better effort in 2009. We love them both.

I’ve taken a bunch of pictures to share but neglected to bring the interface cable. This is a little bit of a pet peeve of mine: I own my third Sony digital camera. The first two, and our video camera, all used the same cable to transfer pictures to the computer. This camera uses a completely different cable and of course it’s sitting on my desk at home. I guess I’ll share the pictures tomorrow night when we get home.

Tonight it’s the big party at a local show house and then an after hours party at the hotel. It’s going to be a long night.

I’ll be the guy in the corner who is content watching the crowd.

Shufflin’ Off To A Gig.

I’ve been asked by the Buffalo Bears to DJ at their run in October. Sirius Out-Q’s Frank DeCaro is doing his thing on Friday night and I’ve been asked to spin before and after his set. If the night were a sandwich I’d be the bread and he’d be the meat. I’m not use to that role.

If you’re in Buffalo on Friday the 10th of October, stop by the Century Grill for the fun!

More details here. I’m hoping they add me to the site soon!

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Elementary Inspiration.

Back when I was in elementary school, I was one of the first selected to be in the “Enrichment Program”. I was the only one in my fourth grade class to be selected for the pilot program, which was designed to inspire students that showed an interest in the less-traditional elementary scholastic subjects such as math, social studies and spelling. My interests included maps, roads, power lines, clocks, cash registers and acting.

Yes, I’ve been a square peg in a world of round holes.

“Enrichment” took us out of the ordinary classroom and into a seldom used alcove off the library where we were encouraged to explore our interests with the guidance of teachers that were trained to handle geeks like us. I guess the job didn’t pay well though, because in the three years that I participated in the program we had three different teachers. The first was Mr. Hazard who organised a tour of the local nuclear power plants. Other than that I don’t remember much about him, though I thought his field trip was nifty and a glowing success. The second teacher, Mr. Rayburn, was my first crush and I suppose there’s a hidden side of me that wonders what that bear of a teacher looks like today. (He was 6′ 2″, had a crooked smile and auburn hair and a bushy beard to match). My crush went to crushed when I discovered that he wasn’t around my third year of the program. The name of the third teacher escapes me, but I remember him being somewhat of a hippy with his long hair, liberal attitude and out-of-the ordinary beard/goatee combo.

I decided to give that last teacher’s beard style a whirl today. I’m liking the look, it’ll probably stay around for a while.

sideburns and goatee

BFF.

So Earl and I spent last night in Buffalo. It was their annual bear run, fittingly called “Bear Trap” and it had been nearly a year since we were in Buffalo last.

It’s amazing how time flies when you’re not even thinking about it.

Having arrived too late to join the crowd of bears for the dinner at Century Grill, we opted to go it alone at the Pearl Street Grill and Brewery. Earl had been there before and knew that the place was right up my alley and he was absolutely right. I have to admit that I had a few fleeting moments of worry as we were driving to the restaurant, as I have recently decided to give up drinking alcohol completely. I’ve never been much of a drinker, in fact, I really only started drinking beer and such when I started at the telephone company a couple of years ago. However, the experience of going back and reading a couple of blog entries I had written while drunk and a conversation that Earl and I had while driving home from a dinner in which I was going to be the designated driver, and then ended up drinking, persuaded me that I definitely don’t need to incorporate alcohol into my future social plans. All the heavy stuff aside, the Pearl Street Grill and Brewery is a great place to go if you’re in the Buffalo area. Like so many other buildings in Downtown Buffalo, it’s an old brick building with that feeling of the industrial revolution of the early 20th century. So many cities have opted to tear these places down and build something in stunning concrete in their place; I admire when a business takes an existing space and turns it into something special. I wish more places would learn to do this.

The food is great too.

After dinner we freshened up a bit at the hotel and headed to the Town Ballroom for the evening’s festivities. All of the Buffalo Bears were gracious as always as we shared many hugs and kisses with those we hadn’t seen in so long. Earl and I both got a little tearful when we saw the two guys we consider to be our closest friends walk into the club. Here’s a picture from a camping excursion from a couple years ago of our friends Tim and Steve.

We used to see Tim and Steve quite a bit when Earl was traveling to Buffalo on a weekly basis, but now that his work locations have moved around, coupled with my school responsibilities and general life chaos, it’s been entirely too long since we’ve seen these guys. God bless them both, it was like we had seen them just yesterday.

The Buffalo Bears traditionally held all of their events at a local club, first Buddies and then it’s successor Buddies II. However, Buddies II recently closed so they were forced to the Town Ballroom, which is an absolutely fabulous space. It has had several incarnations; a casino, a dinner club (think Ricky Ricardo), a gay bar and now an entertainment venue. The Bears utilized a couple of the rooms well; one room was the dance floor (and Karl the DJ [skabear] played the extended disco mix of the theme from “Wonder Woman”!), the “Leopard Lounge” was used as a quieter space for conversation and in the middle lobby was a huge circular bar. Again, this is another old space in Buffalo that they continue to breathe life in.

Afterwards we went to the after hours party where we stayed until the closing of the room at 4 a.m. There was a lot of giggling in the hallway; it’s a good thing that we had the whole floor of the hotel.

This morning we joined our friends for brunch before heading out. Again, more tears and hugs as we made our way to the door.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend in many ways for us, and it was great to reconnect with our friends. We’ve always found the boys in Buffalo to be quite hospitable and this weekend was no exception. We look forward to going out there again soon.