Tuesday, August 31, 2004

It's nice to know that so many fine Americans are protecting America from the likes of me and Bradykins.

People like Ed Schrock.

People like Michael Allen.

People like Deal Hudson.

People like Henry Hyde.

Thank you for not allowing us to ruin the institution of marriage for you. No, really.

Breaking news: this will mean nothing to any of you, but former Congressman Frank Horton died yesterday.

This is important TRL News because, in 1986, Representative Horton had to fend off a fierce electoral challenge from future Famous Author Rob Byrnes to keep his seat. After months of intense campaigning, I held Horton to a mere 70% of the vote, with the Democrat picking up, oh, another 26% or so. So close I almost demanded a recount.

Mr. Byrnes Almost Goes to Washington. Heady times, friends, heady times.

RIP, Frank.

I am not a huge fan of outing, but sometimes it's a Good Thing.

GOP Rep. Who Voted For Anti-Gay Amendment Is Outed & Quits House Race

(Original story via blogACTIVE)

UPDATE: Ed Schrock is "very tanned." (I may never have sex again.)

Monday, August 30, 2004

If you won't let me help, I can't help.

(Thanks. I just needed to say that, and this was the lowest-trafficked place I could think of.)

Currently seen out and about in several Manhattan bars:

The Evil Puppeteer
Psycho Cutie
The Weeble [Note: this one did fall down]
Heroin Tim
Debbie and Carrie [Note: both male]
Buddy Leno
Claudine Longet [Note: male]

If you think any of the above nicknames were given to you, ummm... you're probably wrong. On the other hand, there are a lot of nicknames I haven't listed.

So have faith. You are not ignored.

Two weekends, two dreams involving bloggers.

(And in case you were wondering, you were very popular at the party we were both attending. Much more popular than me and my roommate from college, who I haven't seen -- nor thought of -- since 1981.)

Maybe I should start taking taking bets on which blogger will show up next in my dreams.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Hopefully, I've now put up links to everyone who links to me, plus about 58 others who have better taste. If you're missing from the sidebar and think you should be there, let me know. (NOTE: that doesn't mean that I'll take care of it immediately. How much time do you think I have on my hands here?)

In other news, Palochi and A Small Victory have gone on hiatus, hence the strike-throughs. I hope to see them back soon. In the meantime, ASV's Michele Catalano has opened Popped Culture, so visit her there. Let me add that Michele has chosen a stunning template (although we'll all miss the Little Dead Girl.)

I de-linked New York magazine's blog "The Kicker" a few months ago, because it hadn't been updated since the Carter Administration and I had grown bored with making jokes about that.

But things change, so I decided to pop over there to check for updates.

Good news, folks. Good news. The site has, indeed, been updated. In honor of the Republican National Convention, it is now called "The Convention Kicker."

Of course, there's still no content, but they have a spiffy new title bar, so it's all good. And, uh... oh, yes! They offer feeds to sites like Gawker and Gothamist -- you know, blogs with content -- so you don't have to hunt them down, 'cause those blogs are so obscure you'd probably never find them without The Convention Kicker.

Let the de-linking continue.

1. Which members of the Posh Smoking Brigade read this blog, and wouldn't mind being mentioned in it. (Hi, Greg!)

2. The proper pronunciation of 'treacle'; followed by, the proper pronunciation of 'treacly.'

3. "What's that guy's name?"

4. It's funny to watch illegally-parked cars being towed.

5. "I'm gonna live to be 85? Yeah, sure. Stupid Time magazine quiz!"

6. "Who are all these people, and what are they doing in our seats?"

7. How one should re-paint a pair of beat-up metal tables found at the curb.

8. It's easier to order a "Rob, Mark, Greg, and Craig" at the bar than remember all those variations of vodka drinks.

9. "Arturo, did you put that picture of the naked woman in your pocket? Or did you throw it out. Tell us the truth."

10. Whether or not Mark sneaked off to have a cigarette.

11. "What is his name? Does anyone even know him?"

Thursday, August 26, 2004

In what I'm very sure is a sincere effort to bond with the brave men (and a handful of probably-simpering gays and gals) who became American icons on 9/11, prominent Republicans such as President (*cough*) Bush and Governor (*cough*) Schwarzenegger want to travel all the way to New York to watch the Republican National Convention on television... that is, televisions in the firehouses of New York's Bravest.

Oh, and by 'sincere,' I mean transparently cynical to the average 6-year-old.

Or maybe they got wind of this! Yes, I think I'm on to something here. Okay, this is a bit crazy for W, but Ah-nuld should feel right at home.

Personally, the only major Republican official I think should be whoring for attention at the firehouses is Dick Cheney, because it's probably a smart move to keep him near oxygen.


Once again wearily speaking on behalf of the world, I hereby declare the following items officially over:

swift boats, National Guard service, Cambodia, Vietnam, Jane Fonda, draft deferrals, Purple Hearts, and pretty much everything else that happened pre-1975.

Instead, you and your compatriots are encouraged to devote a little more energy to the following:

Iraq, terrorism, the economy, trade issues, the role of the United States of America in a complex and increasingly international world, health care, and issues of relevance in 2004.

Honestly, if I hear anymore 'he said/he said' squabbling over a war that ended 30 years ago -- and squabbling between a lot of people who avoided that war, at that -- I am going to smack your collective heads together. Let it go. All of you.

Got it? Thanks. I'll be here if you need any more guidance.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

An e-mail exchange with Jeff today reminded me that I sometimes use phrases or abbreviations that readers don’t always understand. Although I’m tempted to just tell you to figure things out for yourselves, I will take this opportunity to define some terms commonly used by me and my non-blogging friends (of which there are, uh, three or four.) Follow along, though: I’m only going to type this once.

Flounce – Verb, meaning to exit a scene in a state of anger, the drama of which is undercut by the prissiness of the departure.
Usage: “Did you see the way he flounced out of Posh when the waiter took to long to take his order?”

Fort Lee - City in New Jersey that serves as the butt of almost every twisted-sex-related joke we make. Especially fisting jokes. Bonus: If you are with me and/or my Friend Brian when Fort Lee is mentioned, you'll get to see us giggling like schoolgirls, because we think it's far funnier than it is.
Usage: "Want to go to Posh after work?"
"Nah... I'd rather go to Fort Lee. (giggle, giggle)"

Friend Chain-of-Command – Theoretically, the Friend Chain-of-Command should bar friends of friends from communicating directly, instead going through the mutual friend, but it never seems to work out that way.
Usage: “You went with him for drinks at Posh? Without me? But you only know him through me! You broke the Friend Chain-of-Command!”

GDW – Good Drinking Weather. Warm and pleasant, and perfect for sitting on a deck with an adult beverage.
Usage: “Let’s go to Posh after work. It’s GDW.”

HH – Happy Hour.
Usage: “Are you in for HH at Posh after work?”

Homospectacle – Commonly used whenever one has had too much to drink, then publicly makes out with anything with a pulse.
Usage: “I was at Posh last night for HH and made a complete homospectacle of myself!”

Liver Appreciation Day – A day without booze.
Usage: “Even though it’s HH, I’m not going to Posh tonight. I’m having a Liver Appreciation Day.”

Office; works in a – Used to describe someone’s job when you don’t know what the hell they do.
Usage: “What does Kim do?”
“She works in an office.”
“Oh. Want to go to Posh for HH?”
“Sure! It’s GDW!”

Thirty-five - Age all my fortysomething friends claim to be, based on a former acquaintance's rather outlandish declaration.
Usage: "I don't need a Liver Appreciation Day. I'm 35! Let's go to Posh!"

There will not be a quiz.

eXpressive: 7/10
Practical: 4/10
Physical: 7/10
Giver: 6/10

You are a XSYG--Expressive Sentimental Physical Giver. This makes you a Sex Bomb.

You are sexy sex sex sex! The sexness! You are the sexiest, hottest and most charismatic of all types. You are a captivating speaker and a great dinner date -- relaxed, self-effacing, charming and generous. Your type probably has origins in something sad -- trying to keep the peace in a tough family situation, or an early heartbreak -- and you'll probably want to address and resolve that at some point, but in your relationships that heartache is pure gold!

You lie effortlessly -- not necessarily a bad thing. You can have problems with fidelity. You need frequent praise and validation, and in seeking it you can make decisions that aren't consistent with your general good judgment. In other words, don't cheat on your significant other just because someone is paying attention to you.

You strongly dislike conflict, and will avoid it. Like an XPYG, you give so much of yourself to your partner that you feel dismissed and unappreciated if you don't get the same in return. But you internalize your feelings more and have a hard time getting over them. You don't *want* to cheat -- you just keep finding yourself in vulnerable situations. But you'll stay with your partner in the long run from guilt and a desire to please.

Your sex life will always be hot. You are one of the rare people who can keep the fires of passion going forever -- if you find a good match. Find another XSYG and you will never need (or want) anyone else again.

Of the 2562 people who have taken this quiz, 12.2 % are this type.

I am sexy sex sex sex. I knew it, and now it's been scientifically proven. So shut up!

Better yet, take it yourself: 20 Questions to a Better Relationship

(Via the kids in Washington)

Monday, August 23, 2004

I must set the record straight, since many readers will no doubt think that Vincent Gallo is referring to me when he tells HX magazine:
You hustled? I did do sexual things for money...

Anyone famous? Yes! Yes! Very famous, yes! Let’s say a famous writer who doesn’t have what seems to be an Italian last name but he’s an Italian-American.

It is not true. My taste may not always have been impeccable, but I have never been that drunk. Plus, my lineage is pure Byrnes-Fisher-Beckett-Weisenborn.

Now, I'm not saying that I know anything, but if you think about it, Gallo could be talking about Alan Cappolino Cumming. I'm just sayin'
(Via Gawker)

Bloggers you've never met who live halfway around the world have prominent roles in your dreams.

(Don't worry, Flip. Everyone had their clothes on. Because, of course, we were trying to find our way back from Michigan. And, no, I have no idea what that was about.)

Friday, August 20, 2004

I won't bother posting the original message. You've all seen them before. But here is my response:
Dear Mr. Kuti:

Thank you very much for contacting me to act as an intermediary in this potential financial transaction. I am, of course, quite interested.

However, I am also considering serving in a similar capacity for another party who has contacted me regarding a financial matter ($15.3 million American) originating in the Republic of South Africa. If I was to enter into that particular relationship, and also deal with you, I'm afraid it would alert the authorities that something was suspicious.

There does exist a possibility that the South African deal will fall through. I have asked Mr. J. Bhota (of South Africa) for evidence that he is not an atheist, because my religion forbids me from engaging in transactions with atheists. To date, he has not responded.

Therefore, I would like your assurance that you are not an atheist. Or even an agnostic, which is just as bad. Also, it would be helpful if you were not one on those Nigerian Jews I keep reading about in "The Atlantic." If you could send me these guarantees, and I receive them before I receive guarantees from J. Botha, I will probably choose to deal with you.

Yours in Christ,

Richard Boyland Yrnes
Yrnes Inc.

No, really. Pack up the U-Haul, Bradykins! We're going to Hoboken!


Ah, spam... Like you, I once considered it to be a headache. But after I started responding to some spammers (see "Play With Your Spam" on the sidebar), I realized that it can provide hours of amusement.

Via Daniel, I've discovered another site where spam is celebrated. Go there now!


Apparently, there's an opening for a copy editor at the New York Blade. I hope they will waist waste no time in filling the position.

Alleged Editor Steve Weinstein in his column "Dear Jim: Welcome to the club":
This was, in fact, a seismic event, far overshadowing the way overhyped Ellen Degeneris episode a few years back.

Um... I think you mean "DeGeneres," Steve.
Then he’ll be a footnote, a Trivial Pursuit question. Just look at Monica Lewinsky or Jennifer Flowers.

Um... I think you mean "Gennifer," Steve.

Alleged Executive Editor Chris Crain in his column "Pointing fingers at McGreevey":
McGreevey hired Golen Cipel...

Um... I think you meant "Golan," Chris.

And I haven't even been reading with a critical eye.

Dear New York Blade, please believe me when I tell you that I am not a senior officer with the Spelling Police. But these were just sloppy and lazy. As editors, you have a responsibility to do more than guess at spelling.

Okay. I'm done.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Okay, so I suddenly started feeling sad that Mrs. Harriet Sayler was ignoring me, so...
Dear Mrs. Sayler:

I have not heard from you for the past ten days, by my calculation, and I am growing concerned. I do hope you are all right, and that no harm has befallen you. It would rattle my peace of mind if ill-fortune entered your life. Beyond that which has already entered it, of course, since we cannot undo what the lord has already done.

That is a saying of my wife, Peggy. Oh, I do think you would like her if you met her. Perhaps one day we will all have an opportunity to meet. Maybe I will take Peggy to the Ivory Coast, and show her some of the world I saw when I was a merchant seaman. I feel a bit sad that Peggy has not seen much of the world, except New Jersey, Pennsylvania, a bit of Ohio, and that little part of West Virginia that juts out and looks sort of like a turkey drumstick, or maybe a chicken wing.

Please let me know that you are all right, or if you need me to contact the International Red Cross or some other agency. I would be happy to do that for you. Also, let me know if you would still like my assistance in that banking matter.

Take care, good lady. I await your response.

Alexander Bertrand Kyle

Sure, I can't seem to respond to my own e-mail, but I can do this. Ah well... as long as you're remotely entertained, I guess it's worth it.

Uh... you are entertained, aren't you?

  • I'm not voting for Bush, but I still think Ted Rall is a huge, huge, huge asshole.

  • This is so much wrong upon wrong. And, perversely, I'm loving every minute of it. If you can get your hands on a dead-tree version of the Post, there's a bonus photo of the doctor-boyfriend meeting the press wearing only his shorts. We're not talking male stripper, okay?

  • Hurry back, Palochi. And be strong.

  • For the first time in a long... well, ever, I'm jealous of Michael. Soon he'll get to live with his boyfriend, and in a nice apartment, too. I'd better not have to get him a housewarming present.
(There. That should get you through your Thursday morning.)

From 1980 to 1983, under the name "Joshua the Stripping Philosopher," he was a male stripper and, in this capacity, appeared on the nationally televised program, "Real People."

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Here's a quick update on my recent fun with the Foreign Money Scam Spammers. It seems that Mrs. Harriet Sayler has left the building continent. Too bad, because "Alexander Bertrand Kyle" still had more to say about the colony of homosexuals from the Ivory Coast who have invaded northern New Jersey. Ah well... there will be other times.

That's the bad news. The good news is that "Robert Pizeek Byrnes" is getting drawn into a web of intrigue... It started here, which brought the following response (edited for length):
I am Dubs Miller Corporate and Institutional Banking Service and Sales Manager HSBC Bank PLC including private Banking. A staff of ECKO CONSULTANT on behalf of HSBC Republic Bank PLC contacted you earlier concerning MR. STANLEY PIZEEK (coded account name) and an investment placed under our banks management 3 years ago. I would respectfully request that you keep the contents of this mail confidential and respect the integrity of the information you come by as a result of this mail. I contacted you independently of our investigation and no one is informed of this communication.

It turns out that Stanley Pizeek banked with my friend Dubs, to the tune of a cool $18.35 million. Dubs and Stanley moved the money through the murky world of European finance, until Stanley apparently went to see "The Brown Bunny" in Cannes and, well...
In June last year, we got a call from the security firm informing us that the inactivity of that particular portfolio. This was an astounding position as far as I was concerned, given the fact that I managed the private banking sector I was the only one who knew about the deposit, and I could not understand why Stanley had not come forward to claim his deposit. I made futile efforts to locate Stanley. I immediately passed the task of locating him to the internal investigations department of HSBC. Four days later, information started to trickle in, apparently Stanley was dead. A person who suited his description was declared dead of a heart attack in Cannes, South of France. We were soon enough able to identify the body and cause of death was confirmed.

Sad. Very sad. RIP, Stanley Pizeek.

But since this is a good news/bad news kind of day, you just know that there is a silver lining. And there is:
Private banking clients apart from not nominating next of kin also usually in most cases leave wills in our care, in this case; Stanley died interstate. In line with our internal processes for account holders who have passed away, we did institute our own investigations in good faith to determine who should have right to claim the estate.

This investigation has for the past months been unfruitful. We have scanned every continent and used our private investigation affiliate companies to get to the root of the problem. It is this investigation that did result in my being furnished with your details as a possible relative of the deceased. My official capacity dictates that I am the only party to supervise the investigation and the only party to receive the results of the investigation.

All good. All good. But then:
You have unfortunately declared that you are in no way affiliated with this individual. What this means, you being the last batch of names we have considered, is that our dear late fellow is dead with no known or identifiable family member. This leaves me as the only person with the full picture of what the prevailing situation is in relation to the deposit and the late beneficiary of the deposit.

Oh Dubs, Dubs, Dubs... I was beginning to think that all hope was lost, and I'd never receive Stanley's hidden fortune. Fortunately, Dubs is always thinbking:
The investigation has come to an end. My proposal; you share similar details to the late fellow; I am prepared to place you in a position to instruct the firm to release the deposit to you as the closest surviving relation. Upon receipt of the deposit, I am prepared to share the money with you. That
is: I will simply nominate you as the next of kin and have them release the deposit to you...

I ask that if you find no interest in this project that you should discard this mail. I ask that you do not be vindictive and destructive. If my offer is of no appeal to you, delete this message and forget I ever contacted you. Do not destroy my career because you do not approve of my proposal.

I wouldn't think of it, Dubs.

I want to play...

Monday, August 16, 2004


Can I ask you a question? When did I start vanishing into the background?

Bradykins came to visit this past weekend, and, well... look, I live in this damned city. Bradykins visits irregularly and infrequently. So why, oh why, New York, have you decided to treat me like his guest?

Case in point: we went for brunch at the diner I frequent near my apartment on Saturday. I asked for a table for two and the hostess nodded politely at me... until she spotted Bradykins and squealed, "Oh, hello!" And then, adding insult to injury, the waitress brought him a glass of water twice the size of mine.

Case in point, Number 2: for the past few years, I've been stalking becoming friends with singer/songwriter Michael Holland, whose new musical (more about that later) opened on Saturday night as part of the New York Fringe Festival. My friend, got it? Mine. And yet, as we're riding in an elevator to the theater, this guy turned to Bradykins and said, "I'm bringing Michael his mail."

First of all, who are you and why should we care? But more importantly, if you are going to tell someone this important piece of news, Mr. Stranger, you should be telling the one of us who knows Michael, not his out-of-town boyfriend.

Sigh. My boyfriend is in New York maybe three days a month, and his popularity has seemingly eclipsed mine. Okay, not the highest hurdle to leap, but still...

There is a downside to being Bradykins, of course. After the show, when we joined my friend Mark for an six post-theater cocktails at O.W., a couple of old queens were convinced that Mark and I were a couple who had picked up Bradykins for extracurricular fun.

I got to call him 'Hooker' for the rest of the weekend. That was fun.

Friday, August 13, 2004

In Connecticut's capitol, State Senator Louis DeLuca has cut through lies and finger-pointing and blame-passing to uncover the truth!

Louis DeLuca: he won't stand for the usual political crap!

(And on that note, I'm outta here! Thanks, everyone; it's been a great week here at TRL! Remember to tip your bartenders and drive safely!)

Julia Child dies at 91.

And I still can't cook anything more complicated than a grilled cheese sandwich. With bacon.

It's now apparently become trendy for politicians to have man-sex: Louisiana State Representative Tommy Wright has been caught with his pants down... in a park restroom.

I'm sure he's hoping to sneak in behind New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey's domination of all things gay-related this week. Good luck, Tommy!
(Via Fark)

Thursday, August 12, 2004

So... um... this McGreevey story is, um... something, isn't it?

And here I thought it was going to be a slow news day...

UPDATE: Of course! An al-Qaeda Gay Bomb has obviously been detonated in Trenton!

Via Gawker and the imaginations of the fine journalists at the Weekly World News comes this story of an al-Qaeda plot to drop The Big Gay Bomb.

Damn. And here I was just saying that Posh was getting too crowded. Where are we going to put all the newbies? And... ugh... how many times are we going to have to hear their banal coming-out stories? This time, the terrorists may have gone too far.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I just realized that this is my third straight death-related entry. But it's on a much, much happier note. Yes, folks, we're playing with the scam-spammers once again!

(Since this one came simultaneously to both my work and play e-mail addresses, I decided to use a variation of my real name, given the likelihood that the scam-spammer already knows it.)

Here goes:
My name is Panter Suhas.I am a senior partner in the firm of ECKO Consultants: Private Investigators and Security Consultants. We are conducting a standard process investigation on behalf of HSBC, the international Banking conglomerate. This investigation involves a client who shares the same surname with you and also the circumstances surrounding investments made by this client at HSBC Republic,the Private Banking arm of HSBC.

The HSBC Private Banking client died intestate and nominated no successor in title over the investments made with the Bank. The essence of this communication with you is to request you provide us information/comments on any or all of the four issues:

1-Are you aware of any relative/relation who shares your same surname whose last known contact address was Brussels Belgium?

2-Are you aware of any investment of considerable value made by such a person at the Private Banking Division of HSBC Bank PLC?

3-Born on the 1st of June 1927

4-Can you establish beyond reasonable doubt your eligibility to assume status of successor in title to the deceased?

It is pertinent that you inform us ASAP whether or not you are familiar with this personality that we may put an end to this communication with you and our inquiries surrounding this personality. You must appreciate that we are constrained from providing you with more detailed information at this point.

Please respond to this mail as soon as possible to afford us the opportunity to close this investigation.

Thank you for accommodating our enquiry.

Panter Suhas
For:ECKO Consultants

My reply:
Dear Mr. (or Mrs.) Suhas:

I do believe that you may be referring to my first cousin, Parnell Byrnes, who moved to Brussels, Belgium some years ago following a disagreeable family matter. I would prefer not to discuss said matter, if it's all the same to you, since now that I am getting on in years I would like to let bygones by bygones.

I do hope everything is all right with Cousin Parnell. He was always a strapping young man when he was young, although I know that age and infirmities slow us all down. I was known as quite a strapping man myself in those days. Yes, indeed.

Cousin Parnell would have been born at roughly the time you asked. I do not specifically remember his exact birthday, and there is no one I can ask anymore. I am sorry about that. but that means that if anything did happen to Cousin Parnell, I would be his sole surviving heir.

Please advise me of what I should do next. I hope this will not involve lawyers, as I have a strong disliking for them and don't trust them. If you happen to be a lawyer, please don't think that I am talking about you. Oh no, indeed. I am talking about AMERICAN lawyers only, sir or madam!

If Cousin Parnell is well, please say 'hey' from Cousin Robby. (He will probably say in return, 'hay is for horses' -- get it? 'hay' and 'hey'? -- because he is a card like that.)

All my best. I hope to hear from you soon.

Robert Pizeek Byrnes

I hope Panter is more responsive than Mrs. Harriet Sayler.

I spent my last few years in Rochester living with a guy named Jimmie (yes, he spelled it with the ‘ie’) in a big house in a bad neighborhood. Jimmie had bought the place thinking the neighborhood was going to rebound. It didn’t. It just kept bounding further downward. So for protection of his investment and personal safety, Jimmie rented rooms to a revolving series of friends, mostly gay. We were the Fagz N the Hood. Which isn’t relevant to this story in the least, but I thought you’d like to know.

I thought of Jimmie when I was home in Rochester last week for my Sixth Grade Class Reunion (about which there will be more later. Promise.) Jimmie liked to tell the story of his aunt, who – when discussing the dearly departed – would lean close and append their names with a whispered “Dead, you know.” We all found it an amusing verbal tic, on par with the whispered “cancer,” as if his aunt had turned the inevitability of death into an unmentionable.

As gay men of (ahem) a certain age, the Fagz N the Hood had buried enough friends to earn the right to use black humor as a coping mechanism. So it was inevitable that when conversation turned to reminiscence, the Dead, You Knows would fill the room. My current roommate, Paul (who I met through Jimmie), and many of my friends continue the tradition to this day. Paul and I can spend an entire Saturday afternoon watching old movies on television and uttering “Dead, You Know” as each now-deceased actor appears on screen. It’s very addictive once the phrase takes hold in your brain.

Ah, Jimmie. Dead, You Know. He died about seven years ago after the HIV infection finally caught up to him. He would have appreciated how hard Paul and I laughed at the ridiculous number of subsequent memorial and funeral services – there were five, by my count – requiring us to trudge back to Rochester and/or his parents’ home in rural Central New York, where he couldn’t be buried for five months because the ground was frozen.

Jimmie didn’t welcome death, but he had longed accepted the inevitability, and saw ridiculousness in pretending that each new death was the first time the phenomenon had occurred. His was an attitude I’ve observed in many older people, who have become so inured to death that word of a new one is accepted not as grand tragedy, but as a normal part of the circle of life. The only real difference was that Jimmie had been burying the young.

It’s been thirteen years now, but I still remember the dread I felt late one Sunday night when I had to call an 80ish part-timer in my office to tell him that our employer – and his long-time friend – had suffered a massive heart attack and was, well, Dead, You Know. I was devastated; he was saddened, but philosophical. Only on reflection did I reconcile our different reactions. Yes, I had lost a few people in my life, but he had almost 50 more years under his belt, and he had lost many, many more. Through repeated exposure, death had lost its ability to shock him.

So you’re probably wondering how this relates to my trip home. Here it is: everyone in Rochester is Dead, You Know.

Mmmm. Okay, a bit of an overstatement. But while I was there I came to the realization that a lot of the past I left behind is now six feet under.

Late last year came the news that an old high school friend died of a massive heart attack. That same week, a teacher who – post-high school (no Mary Kay moments, thank you) – had become a good friend for a few years had died. Death in small doses… like the recent deaths of parents of two current friends, it’s sad, but it happens.

But my weekend in Rochester was a virtual orgy of death. First, there was a planned visit with a former co-worker, whose husband died in a car wreck six weeks ago. Then, upon arrival at the Rochester airport, I opened the paper to read that a former state legislator with whom I had once worked (albeit not very closely) had died. Again, small doses. Manageable.

It was on Tuesday night – the last night of my trip – as my father and I sat on his deck, bonding through cocktails and memories, that death stopped shadowing me and took center stage. My father is only 70 – and a healthy 70, at that – but as we talked about our old neighbors and his old friends, he could have overdosed on Dead, You Knows. If, that is, I had ever shared the phrase with him. And if, that is, he found it even remotely funny.

Let’s just say that there are apparently few survivors in my old neighborhood. One by one, the neighbors have gone to that big Clayton Street in the sky. And his old friends/drinking buddies? Dead and dead and dead. By his own admission, my father is a regular on the funeral home circuit, averaging one every month or two. It’s become a non-event for him; at 70, much of the shock has worn off. The deaths of people once close, now remote, and delivered in small doses, is no longer news to him. If I still lived there, maybe it wouldn’t be news to me. But when 80% of the people I asked about are suddenly discovered to be Dead, You Know, it felt… eerie.

I was hardly traumatized by the number of people who had passed away, but since part of the reason for my long-delayed homecoming was to recapture a bit of my past, it felt strange. I’m not so naïve that I expected to return to 1974, but I guess I hadn’t thought the whole ‘lifespan’ thing through.

I suspect I’ve got a few more decades in me, but in recent years I have found myself thinking about the inevitable. Not in a concrete way – who will be my executor? How will I divide up my precious heirlooms? – but vaguely, the way I think about possibilities like, say, having money in the bank or living in a decent apartment. I think about things like ‘how?’ and ‘when?’ and ‘will I be remembered?’ (Aside: just last Saturday night my friend Lynette noted that if I died that day, I’d have a great obituary. Of course I had to note that if I die in a few decades, the headline might read in part ‘Dies in Prison.’ I am too funny for my own good.)

I don’t know… maybe these thoughts are natural when one is slowly closing in on 50. Maybe I’m starting to realize that I’m a mere mortal. That doesn’t mean that I’m in any rush; just that I’m growing closer to accepting that our time is ultimately short and limited.

Last Wednesday morning, waiting for my flight to depart from the Greater Rochester International Airport, I opened the newspaper and read the obituary notice of a kid – well, late 40s at death, but still a kid in my memory – who had helped teach me how to ride a bike. Another one down. Somehow that seemed appropriate.

I had gone home in part to revisit my history, only to be reminded that life and death march on, with or without me.

Thanks for helping to wean me from the training wheels, Johnny. Dead, You Know.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Or, Fay Wray, RIP

Mrs. Sayler finally wrote me back! After waiting four days, I was beginning to think that she was pulling the lamest Internet scam ever. But, fortunately, my faith in the Power of Spam has been restored.

In case you've forgotten what I'm writing sbout, you'll want to read this first.

Anyway, I obviously offended Mrs. Sayler, who today wrote:
Dear Alexander Bertrand Kyle,

Thank you for your reply. Before I go on, I want to
know why you ever tought of my own brother being or
associating himself with homosexuality.

I feel very bad at the closing of your mail. I demand
an anwser before I go further.

Harriet Sayler

Well, I can't have a lack of trust color my new relationship with Harriett, can I? Fortunately, I know some of the dark secrets lurking in the suburbs:
Dear Mrs. Sayler:

I mean no offense, dear woman. However, as you may or may not be aware. there are a number of homosexuals of Ivory Coast heritage living in Northern New Jersey, which is where I live. Although I have seen your beautiful country during my days as a merchant seaman, it was only when I moved to Morristown that I learned that homosexual practices are apparently common there. I was shocked, of course, especially being a deeply religious man (and part-time pastor), however I realize that not every person in the Ivory Coast is a Sodomite. If so, that would mean that your father would be a Sodomite, and you never would have been born, but since you clearly have been born, he could not have been a Sodomite. Do you follow me?

Perhaps the homosexuals of the Ivory Coast have moved to Northern New Jersey because of the moral corruptness present in this country. It is a shame, Mrs. Sayler. A true shame. Some day, I fear that our Lord God will smite this once-great nation. I suspect he will also smite the homosexuals from the Ivory Coast. God does not play favorites!

I hope and pray this answers your concerns. I do apologize if I gave you any offense in suspecting that your brother might be connected to the homosexual Ivory Coast natives of Northern New Jersey.

Yours in God,

Alexander Bertrand Kyle

Yeah, I know. I probably went a bit over the top. But if she wants 'my' help badly enough, she'll respond. If not, well... I'll have made a new friend in the Ivory Coast, and that's good, too.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Just say scream NO!
(Via NRO)

I know this is the opposite of what I should be doing as far as self-promotion goes, but I want you all to know that it's not always easy being a Famous Author. Like others before me, I have been attacked and abused by the public. Because I'm in a good mood, I've put a lot of work behind me this week, and -- hell -- it's Friday, I thought I'd share a few slings and arrows. Consider these excerpts a cautionary tale about life at the top...

From Publishers Weekly:
Desperate times call for desperate measures in Byrnes's dialogue-driven, tepidly humorous sophomore novel... Though Byrnes relates some hard truths about the often unsavory lives of the well-moneyed, none of his characters are particularly likable. Readers wanting more than long chapters of dialogue and a few cheap laughs might want to search out Byrnes's first novel, The Night We Met, instead of this facile, featherweight beach read.

Feel the love!

Meanwhile, a reader somewhere in the UK (it wasn't you, was it?) writes:
I didn't even finish this one - I simply couldn't be bothered. Neither the lead characters nor the storyline held any interest for me. Whether Mr Byrnes is a "one-hit" wonder or he wrote this in a rush to fulfull some publishing obligation - I'm not sure. Harsh words I know but that was how it left me feeling. The lead characters are completely 2 -dimensional and didn't have any characteristics to win over my interest - I couldn't be bothered whether they would have a happy-ending or a tragic one. I guessed the ending easily - checked that I was right and threw the book in the back of the cupboard.
These sort of books aren't meant to be intellectual or thought-provoking. They are meant to entertain (preferably for me with likeable lead characters that, for a few days whilst reading, you care about).
This was a complete failure.

Feel the love!

And, yes, I get e-mail:
Just finished your novel, Trust Fund Boys, and while I liked the character development and the story line, there is nothing that irritates me more than incorrect use of the objective. Things like "He gave it to Mary and I" drive me up a wall and there were no fewer than four egregious errors of this type. Do a search of your manuscript of "and I" and you'll find them... Please, don't let me find any repeat of such in your future novels.

I guess it's good I'm under Dale Peck's radar, right?

After a few exciting months in the big city, blogger Nicole Garbarini is leaving us to return home. To pay our last respects, a gaggle of bloggers (bagel of bloggers?) including me and him and him and him will gather tonight at O.W., 221 East 58th Street (between Second and Third avenues), where we will cry shamelessly into our drinks. Feel free to join us.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

A few moments ago, as I was about to delete my 18th African Money Scam e-mail of the day (they're now coming faster than pitches for Viagra and offers to see Jenny on her webcam), I stopped before my finger pressed down the button and, instead following the lead of John at AmericaBlog, decided to entertain myself.

Using one of my top secret e-mail accounts, I wrote:

Dear Miss Harriet Sayler:

I thank you very much for your very kind letter soliciting my assistance in helping you obtain the money that is rightfully yours. I would like very much to assist you. It is a crying shame that such a thing could happen in this day and age.

The Ivory Coast is very beautiful. I was there as a merchant seaman some 30 years ago. Now I am retired. My wife Peggy and I live outside of New York City, where I am a part-time church pastor. Living near New York City would make it easy for me to help you, I think.

Please email me more information to see how I can help. I see also that this message comes from your brother. I will need his first name, so I can make sure that he is not a practicing homosexual. The Lord would not condone work done to benefit Sodomites.

Peace be with you,

Alexander Bertrand Kyle

I figure I can play with these people in my spare time for a few days. After that, I think I'll start putting them in touch with each others' e-mail addresses. Maybe they can make each other some hidden Nigerian cashola!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I did really good at this. Go figure.

Throw Rocks At Boys!

(Via Daniel)

...and fighting my way through roughly 700 e-mails, so you won't hear from me today. Probably. Let's just say that I had a very nice trip, and overdosed on nostalgia. I'll write something mawkish and poignant about it when I get a chance. You can't wait.

In the meantime, entertain yourselves by clicking here to go to the InsideOut Book Club website. See whose book is there next to Sedaris, DeGeneres, the Fab Four Five (sooorry!), and, er... okay, it's The DaVinci Code, but it is a bestseller, so shut up!

I told you I was a Famous Author.