Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Reuniting With Friends

On Friday night, I found myself standing in one of the high-end, commercial galleries in the Gold Triangle admiring an $11,000 painting.  I was tapped on the shoulder by Will, a photographer I had not seen since the pandemic started.  We got caught up while taking in the new offerings hung in the cavernous gallery space.  Will informed me our mutual friend, Brenda, was having an opening at a coffee shop on South Broadway.  Plans were made to check out Brenda’s new work after we visited with other people we knew in the gallery.  Soon I was in a conversation with Terry, who is a 78-year-old fashionista as well as a fixture on the gallery scene.  She was wearing a vintage, black Comme des Garçons jumpsuit over a long-sleeve, printed, sheer Vivienne Tam top which gave her upper body the illusion of being fully tattooed. As usual, Terry was stoned.  Our conversation was all over the board, from her first acid trip at age 30 to the five high schools her son attended.  If anything, conversations with Terry are always entertaining. Her husband, who always rocks a casual blazer over a t-shirt is a man of few words but evokes a cool downtown vibe.

As Will and I were leaving the gallery, we ran into Phil, who is another friend I hadn’t seen since the pandemic started.  After a brief chat, we agreed to stop back at the gallery to rendezvous with Phil before heading to a party Terry had invited us to at a cannabis marketing firm’s office in the Arts District on Santa Fe.

Having an art opening at a coffee house is problematic at best.  The regular patrons were enjoying beverages and light fare while socializing with friends or working on laptops. The art patrons were trying to view the art.  It was an awkward mix.  Brenda had one piece in the group show.  Will and I sat outside with Brenda while she filled us in on her life.  In May, Brenda’s girlfriend broke up with her, she lost her job and moved out of her apartment all in the span of two weeks.  She packed four suitcases and hit the road.  Everything else was placed in storage.  Brenda has been to India for an art residency, New York, Portland, Mexico and a few other places.  She booked one-way flights as she never knew when she would return to Denver.  Brenda couch surfs with a friend when she’s in town.  She’s halfway through a year of nomadic art life allowing fate to take her where she needs to be.

Will and I left Brenda with other friends and headed back to the gallery.  Phil was just leaving as we arrived. We caravanned over to the party which had an interesting mix of people of all ages.  A local indie-type band finished their set shortly after we arrived.  Ten minutes later, Terry and her husband headed to another party in RiNo leaving us at party where we knew no one.  We hung out for a while.  Will and Phil talked about dating younger women as it’s too hard to date older women. It seems women their ages (53 and 49) are not willing to do the things they want to do.  It was an enlightening conversation.  I was intrigued listening to the challenges of being a straight daddy.  When the guys finished their second beer it was time to meet Brenda at the Art Bar back in the Golden Triangle.  The guys wanted me to come for a quick drink, but I knew better.  There’s no such thing as a quick drink with Brenda.  She would most probably arrive with an entourage who would start ordering food and drinks.  Brenda has a way of wanting you to stay at the party.  I bid adieu to the guys and headed home.

Once home, I settled in with Netflix.  I watched the first episode of Chef’s Table: Pizza. I learned Chris Bianco’s Phoenix pizzeria offers what critics deem to be the best pies in the world.  Who knew the best pizza is in Phoenix?  Next up was the first episode of my cousin’s new series, Phrogging: Hider in My House, which is a true crime drama airing on Lifetime.  Not the best thing to watch before bed but certainly compelling if you favor crime thrillers.

What at night! I thought I would have a quick look at a gallery opening but the universe had other plans for me.  Friday night turned out to be the highlight of my weekend.

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Cashing In?

Bruce offered to buy my house for almost $1.8m more than I paid for it.  He thinks he can spend a couple of hundred thousand on renovations and make a $500k profit in a matter of months.  I told him I would not sell unless he met all my terms which included a cash sale, no inspections or appraisals, along with the option to rent the house for six months after closing for $1,000 a month. 

I started looking for a new place to live.  I looked in my city of birth to be closer to family.  I found a four bedroom, 3.5 bath, 4,400 sq. ft. house on an acre lot for $899k (the house in the previous post).  A bargain compared to what houses cost in Denver.  Given the profit I would make on my house I could easily buy this house and a second home in Santa Fe.  I looked online in Santa Fe which has a booming housing market.  Cindi wants me to buy a house with a casita so she can rent it from me.  She’s carrying the note on her warehouse so while she has monthly income she doesn’t have the funds needed for a down payment on a house. And she doesn’t want to cash in her stock holdings to buy a house.  I didn’t ask what happened to the large down payment she received.  

A week later, Bruce revised his offer after doing market research, which, he should have done before tossing a number at me.  He reduced his offer by $300k.  It’s still a very attractive offer.  As with all things with Bruce, I don’t expect there will be follow through.  None of his projects have gotten off the ground.  Remember the $1m worth of building lots we selected in the high country?  The land was never purchased.  Then there was the house he was going to scrape in the Highlands west of downtown.  He never put together the investor package so he couldn’t secure financing.  The list goes on.  I doubt he will ever be able to fund a cash purchase.  He always seems to be arguing with his father who controls purse strings now that his mother has died. 

Then I came to my senses.  Do I really want my primary residence in a red state with laws I object to, and political leaders who still believe in the “Big Lie”?  Houses may be a bargain but the politicians in most of the key offices hold beliefs which are diametrically opposed to mine.  Plus my ex lives in this city in a nearby less expensive neighborhood.  Do I really want to run into my ex and his husband at the grocery store?  The climate also sucks.  Hot and humid in the summer while cold and humid in the winter along with the threat of tornados.  While I have family there, I have no friends still living there as I moved away 40 years ago.  Do I really want to start over building friendships? 

I have the luxury of not moving.  I can take my time deciding what to do.  I can avoid capital gains taxes by not moving and renovating my house.  I think I’m simply restless.  I need to figure out why I think moving will solve any of my problems. 

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Meeting The New Guy

I’m meeting Bruce and his new guy at a gallery opening tonight.  We’re having dinner after the opening but forgoing high-end fine dining.  Initially, Bruce wanted to cook dinner at his house but every time I’ve been to his house for dinner, we end up ordering in.  Dropping $150 on take out from a pricey restaurant, which is past its prime when it arrives, is not my idea of a good meal.  I suggested going to El Taco de México, which is a bare-bones stainless-steel counter joint with some booths known for traditional Mexico City-style plates.  The food is tasty, but the ambiance is similar to a 1970’s Dairy Queen in a small Midwestern town.  Most of the staff are only fluent in Spanish.  It will be interesting to see how the new guy, who is well-heeled, will react.  Perhaps it will be time to try a tongue taco.

Photo by Ellen von Unwerth.

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The Proposition

Mike has a proposition for me which involves moving into his house and renting my house.  He’s lonely in his suburban McMansion, which he purchased when he was partnered.  He doesn’t want to downsize until he retires in five or so years.  With no steady boyfriend, and no prospects on the horizon, he’s looking for companionship.  I’m looking for companionship too.  I would have my pick of any of the other four bedrooms which all have an ensuite.  I could use another of the bedrooms for my home office as Mike uses the library for his home office.  Additionally, I would not have to pay rent or contribute to utilities, which can be costly in large house.  I would be able to easily rent my house.

Mike’s neighborhood is a beautiful idyllic setting with lushly landscaped lots and expansive greenbelts.  Property lines are defined by landscaping as fences are not allowed.  And it’s only four miles from my house. The few neighbors I’ve met were very nice and accommodating. 

It’s a tempting offer to live in a swank house rent free while earning income on my house.  I’ve known Mike for 30 years.  I’m not sure I want to live with him.  I would be giving up most of my privacy.  Mike is a very social person.  He’s willing to entertain on a moment’s notice.  I predict there will be guests over quite often.  While the neighbors I met are nice, I’m not sure I want to be part of their country club lifestyle. Also, I think being a landlord has the potential to introduce a new level of drama to my life. And I’d have to put most of my possessions in storage as Mike’s house is fully furnished. 

As much as I’d like to have companionship, I’m not sure moving in with Mike is the answer.  Perhaps we simply need to spend more time together. 

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My friends have been urging me to join Scruff for a year or two. One even threatened to set up a profile for me with recent pictures from one of our walks. I finally gave in to their pleas. I created a profile. I got my first “woof” in a matter of minutes. The sender was a tall, lean and hairy young man of 30. He was handsome and beautiful. At least he was slightly older than Bruce. A few minutes later he messages me:

I live to serve alpha men. Men who know they are superior. Who don’t give a fuck is I like whatever they’re doing. I have a sick need to be degraded and humiliated and controlled, used and abused. I fantasize about being brainwashed and blackmailed. I need a guy who doesn’t listen to safety words.

I couldn’t help but wonder why he thought I would be what he needed. I thanked him for messaging me but let him I wasn’t into degrading and humiliating men.

The second “woof” came about an hour later. This one was sent by a 28-year-old man who happened to be blind. We chatted back and forth for a while. His messages were well written and nicely composed. I let him know I was looking for guys closer to my age. He still messages me. I still respond. I can’t imagine the challenges of gay blind man must face given how judgmental the LBGTQ community can be at times.

The third message came from a 40-year-old married man. He let me know he likes hot daddies. I clarified he was married to man in an open relationship, and not, cheating on the side. As you can imagine, dating was not his priority as he already has a man. He demanded nudes from me while he only had a face pic. In my book, you better send me a nude before asking for nudes. He finally sent a shirtless picture to me but no nudes. I’ve been ignoring him. I don’t need another married man in my life even if he is in an open relationship.

The final message was from a 65-year-old with no pictures. A picture less profile is a major red flag for me. His profile said he was HWP. We chatted for a while. He let me know his neighborhood and that he owned a single-family home. It was like he was showing off merit badges for home ownership and living in mostly white, but hip, neighborhood. He finally sent a picture. I guess I have a different interpretation of HWP.

Most of the guys looking at my profile are much younger than me. The “woofs” have stopped for now. In the age of instant communications and 24 hour news cycles, I’ve become stale. I’ve had my two days of being a fresh face. One young man told me I didn’t look a day over 49. Little did he know I took 2,000 selfies to get the one I chose for my profile picture. I guess, I’m destined to be cast as a daddy, or in some cases, a grand daddy.

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The Last Party

I’m invited to the neighbor’s holiday open house this afternoon. It will be my last party of the pre-Christmas season. I have mixed feeling about attending. They are great neighbors. He’s a partner in a law firm and she’s an accountant. They have one big party every year and invite professional peers, relatives, friends, neighbors and members of their church. Their large house is filled beyond capacity, it’s hard to navigate or have a conversation. The party has become a neighborhood obligation but isn’t always fun. I feel like I’m on the verge of a panic attack while at the party.

By contrast, my next door neighbors, Sheila and Thom, hosted a small solstice party last night. Ten people clustered around the fireplace in the expansive living room enjoying Cajun finger food and good liquor. The conversation flowed across many topics but somehow avoided the volatile political landscape. At the end of the evening we wrote wishes for the new year on small pieces of paper and tossed them into the fireplace.

Friday night I attended the Monet exhibit with an artist friend. I bought the tickets months ago thinking I’d take a date. Time flew by without any suitable prospects on the horizon so I asked my friend, Sharon, to go with me. The exhibit is a blockbuster show for the Denver Art Museum (DAM). It includes over 120 paintings. After Denver, the exhibit travels to Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany. The beginning of the exhibit was crowded and stuffy. After the first two galleries the crowd thinned out and became enjoyable. I had a great time talking to my friend about the paintings. I liked hearing an artist’s perspective on Monet’s use of light and color. At one point, Sharon walked into a gallery and became overwhelmed by the beauty of the paintings in the room. She had to take a moment to compose herself. I thought she was going to burst into tears. I was overjoyed to know my friend was having moment of pure bliss by looking at art. After spending over two hours in the exhibit, I treated Sharon to drinks and small plates at The Art, a hip hotel next to the DAM. I had a most enjoyable time.

The final party of season will be on New Year’s Eve at Miss Y’s house. Her divorce is final so she’s hosting a bash to celebrate her new life and the adventures ahead. It’s going to be a great time.

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Jesus Will Send You A Husband

My 98-year-old aunt, who lives in San Diego, sent a holiday card which included a 3-page letter. Usually, the letter which accompanies her card extolls the virtues of her two sons and makes indirect references to her wealth. She still recalls paying cash for her S-Class, an event that took place at least 10 years ago. She’s given up driving but now employs a chauffeur to drive her around town. This year’s card was pretty much the same except for the addition of how Jesus provided for her. In 1949, she asked Jesus to send her husband. She was 28 at the time so she was considered an old maid. A year later she met a lieutenant in the Air Force who swept her off her feet. She fell in love with him. Marriage soon followed along with overseas tours of duty which allowed her to see the world. After leaving the service, the happy couple settled in San Diego to raise their two sons. My aunt asked Jesus to make her husband successful. Jesus answered her prayers by allowing her husband to build a real estate empire which provided endless financial windfalls when the California real estate market took off in the 1970s. Another aunt once told me my uncle was a slumlord who took advantage of immigrants. I tend to believe the other aunt.

My aunt told me I need to ask Jesus for help. He sent her a husband so he can help me too. Hallelujah! Why didn’t I think of asking Jesus for a husband? He sent me three other husbands. Why wouldn’t he send me a fourth? Is this the same Jesus who allowed by first husband to be a drunk and a liar? Is this the same Jesus who let my first husband throw a hot iron at me? Is this the same Jesus who gave me AIDS when I was 27? Is this the same Jesus who let my second husband die of complication due to AIDS? Is this the same Jesus who killed most of my friends with AIDS in the 1980s? Is this the same Jesus who allowed the relationship with my third husband to wither away? Most importantly, is this the same Jesus who allowed my aunt’s husband to commit suicide by shooting himself in head in that award-winning garden with expansive ocean views? The man Jesus sent to her. If this is the same Jesus, I don’t think I need his help.

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Dinner for Eight

Thanksgiving in Santa Fe started with snow and ended with rain. It was a most enjoyable day. We had lively conversations which stayed clear of any topic remotely connected to the current political landscape in the United States. The dinner was not moved to accommodate Cindi’s friend. Sadly, this morning, the friend fell ill with a stomach virus. She texted a cancellation along with wishes for a happy day. I’m not sure if she was actually sick, or just used illness as an excuse to stay home with her dog. The party of eight had a great time. The menu was pared down this year. Everyone ate sensibly. Nobody overate which seemed to be a theme at previous dinners. The liquor flowed all day. Pre-dinner cocktails with caviar started the feast. Wine was served with dinner. Champaign flowed with dessert. After dinner liquors ended the evening around the fireplace. It was a most memorable day spent with good friends who have become my adopted family.

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Unsee The Seen

I flew solo on the art tour last night. My first stop was Space Galley to see their new show. Once again, they hit it out of the park. After Space, I stopped in Urban Mud, a new clay gallery opened by Mary Mackey and a few partners. Mary showed me some new medium sized vessels she’s working on. All looked promising. My final stop on Santa Fe was Mai Wyn Fine Art. I needed to pick up a pair of earrings I bought for Cindi’s birthday which was few months ago. I also wanted to talk to Mai Wyn about the Jackson Hole Art Fair which a number of Denver galleries had booths in, including Mai Wyn. The show was a bust. An add was taken out in the local paper encouraging people to boycott the fair so that art sales would not be taken out of the local ecomomy. It’s a shame someone would do that.

My next stop was Redline for the opening of counterART: Aesthetics of South Korean Activism + Global Perspectives. Here’s a summary of the exhibit from their website:

In the wake of the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen Square and ongoing protests in Hong Kong, CounterART: Aesthetics of South Korean Activism will examine public protest in East Asia through the lens of art. It is the first exhibit in the U.S. to focus on works of art created during the 2016 South Korean Candlelight Revolution, a distinctively peaceful anti-government protest that led to the dramatic impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, the first female head of state in East Asia. The widespread protests and creative participation that took place are an empowering case study for how art can shape political narratives and become an outlet for public participation. CounterART features works of art created as mechanisms for socio-political change within the political discourse of South Korea. The exhibit will feature 30 works of art by 14 established and emerging artists, including Oksang Lim, a Seoul-based artist who was a key figure in the historic Minjung (“People’s”) Art Movement, a political and populist art movement in the 1980s. Through Lim’s art one sees the intersection of South Korean history, politics, and visual traditions that gave rise to the forms employed by the artist-protesters.

It was a very interesting show with most of the attendees being Asian, There was a noticeable lack of the local art crowd, which usually flocks to the groundbreaking exhibits shown at Redline. I wondered why the event was so poorly attended. I enjoyed the art, especially the effigy of the current United States president, which doubled as a kick ball. Attendees enjoyed kicking the ball around. I want to go back for a second look.

My last stop of the night was EDGE Gallery, which moved into a new space one block east of their previous location in the 40 West Arts District. Faith Williams and Stephen Shugart presented new works. I really liked Stephens’s light sculptures.

While at 40 West, I ran into Mr. L. We has a brief but friendly conversation. I noticed he was touring the galleries with a woman who is a local artist. I thought nothing of it at first. Then I noticed there seemed to be a lot of touching and body language which lead me to believe there were on a date. I really didn’t want to see this so I kept positioning myself so they were out of view. The couple kept moving into my eyesight as if to make sure I could see they were together. Mr. L. knows I’ve been spending time with Mrs. L. so he may have been testing me to see what I would do. They were hanging on the each other which confirmed my suspicions. I wish I hadn’t seen the couple together. I wanted to unsee what I had seen. I wanted to text Kelly but I knew she would probably inform Mrs. L. who was at an event across town in RiNo. I decided to keep my mouth shut. I don’t want to be a gossip. There were plenty of other fixtures of the local art scene present who will spread the news around town. I just need to sit back and let that happen.

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Art and Friends

My friends drove back to Santa Fe on Sunday morning. I had great time with them. We toured almost every gallery and art venue in town. Stops were made at a dispensary on Thursday and Friday evening for “supplies”. We attended the grand opening of the new Space Annex gallery on Thursday night before having a leisurely dinner at Potager which is one of my favorite restaurants. The ladies toured the Denver Botanic Garden Friday morning while I worked. Friday afternoon was spent shopping in Cherry Creek. I picked the ladies up at the hotel on Friday evening for a tour of the Co-op galleries. Along the way we ventured over to the west side of town for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant as Santa Fe lacks certain types of ethnic food. On the way back to the hotel, we drove by the $50m Meow Wolf construction project, which got its start in Santa Fe. Saturday morning the ladies toured the Denver Art Museum and the Clyfford Still Museum. The women were awed by Clyfford Still’s large scale paintings and by the sublime architecture of the building. A friend joined us for lunch on Saturday who, coincidentally, follows two of the women on Instagram. After lunch we toured the high-end galleries in the Golden Triangle, Santa Fe drive and LoDo. The women were very impressed by the offerings and rosters of talent in the commercial galleries. After the galleries, we had drinks at the Cruise Room in the historic Oxford Hotel in LoDo just steps from Union Station. The women enjoyed our dinner at Potager on Thursday night so much they wanted to go back for second meal. We had another wonderful meal at Potager while we rehashed the art tours and venues. We saw a $50 painting on Friday night and a $150,000 painting on Saturday afternoon. Surprisingly, The women concluded the Denver art scene is more vibrant and inclusive than Santa Fe.

It was the best weekend I’ve had in a long time. I seldom get to spend the better part of three days touring art venues with friends. I look forward to their next trip to Denver.

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