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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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A Multimedia Evening

Miss Y texted on Friday afternoon.  I saw her briefly at the Pride Parade in June as her contingent marched by.  She said she would be in touch.  We hadn’t hung out in over a year. Life got in the way until Friday.  Miss Y wanted to accompany me if I was venturing out to the galleries.  I called her to firm up plans for meeting on her side of town.  In the brief conversation, I learned her transgendered niece committed suicide a few weeks ago.  Her family was devasted. Her niece was finishing her Ph.D. in a college town in Kansas and somehow lost the will to live.  I warned Miss Y I was planning on stopping by a gallery to see her ex-husband’s latest work.  She was up for seeing her ex. Time seems to have partially healed the wounds of divorce.

We met at the co-ops in Lakewood.  Our first stop was Core New Art Space to see Julie Vaught’s new show, which is a multimedia presentation mostly consisting of pictures taken by an iPhone and manipulated in a software program.  The piece is a commentary on abusive relationships and the journey to survive after one escapes.  A few of the photos feature a topless woman.  The artist is a single mother of 2 as well as a teacher in a local public school district.  Someone complained to the district superintendent because, in their misguided opinion, the piece was about supporting a BDSM lifestyle.  Clearly, the complainer does not understand what a BDSM lifestyle is because there was nothing in the presentation that represented BDSM.  The school board deemed Julie was simply exercising her First Amendment rights.  It’s a powerful display.  One needs to read the included text as there is no artist statement. 

We stopped in all the galleries in the building.  Edge gallery also has a multimedia presentation.  This one stopped us in our tracks.  The gallery artists each contributed to the show which is a commentary on relentlessly escalating gun violence.  Part of the installation is a mockup of a classroom amid a gun violence episode.  Miss Y fled the gallery. I understood her action when I saw the classroom. Her niece shot herself with a handgun. This is very a powerful exhibit, but it will undoubtedly upset many people.

The final stop of the night was Pirate Contemporary Art for yet another multimedia installation.  Catalyst 2,000,000 is based on a previous installation and performance by the artist, Charles Livingston, which comments on how a repeated action is intended to create a meditative state.  The installation includes a series of stark mono-prints which are expertly done.  A sole performance will take place next Friday night.

After Pirate, Miss Y and I chatted in the parking lot.  Her relationship with T is going well.  They went through several rocky patches but have gotten into a grove that suits them.  Miss Y is happy.  She’s been unemployed for a year but has a promising interview next week.  We made the usual promises of staying in touch along with doing future gallery tours together.  We’ll see if life gets in the way again.

As I drove back into the city on the 6th Avenue highway, I was treated to a spectacular lightning show from an approaching summer storm which would soon consume most of the city.  The dark cloudy sky was continuously lit up by the lightning, which reminded me of an abstract fireworks display.  One last multimedia presentation for the night.  I managed to pull into my garage just as the first few raindrops began to fall.  The cat magically appeared by the French doors in the family room.  I let the cat in leaving the door open to enjoy a cool breeze from the downpour outside.  I continued to binge Kleo on Netflix.  The cat sooned joined me on the sofa after he refreshed himself with food and drink.

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On Sunday afternoon, I took Double A to the annual Summer Art Market hosted by the Art Students League.  I thought the art fair would be something fun to do.  We spent a few hours at the fair then headed for drinks at a bar on South Broadway. 

JP joined us soon after we arrived at the bar.  He has one last round of chemo before his next scan to determine if he will need radiation.  JP was in a good mood.  He’s looking for a second home in the high country and is planning on going on a cruise in 2023.  I have to admire his positive attitude.

Soon it was time for JP to leave for a dinner engagement.  Double A and I decided to walk down the street in search of dinner.  As we left the bar, Mike pulled up in his Bentley with Jed, a mutual acquaintance of ours.  The four of us headed to an Italian restaurant in Englewood for dinner. 

While at dinner, which was mediocre at best, Mike was texted by a friend letting him know Monkeypox vaccines were being given out at Trade, a local leather/fetish bar.  After dinner, Mike dropped Jed, Double A and I off at our cars.  Mike headed home to feed his dog while the rest of us went to Trade for vaccines. 

While Trade was packed, there was no line for vaccines.  Within a few minutes we filled out the paperwork and were vaccinated.  Kurt arrived just after I got my shot.  I hadn’t seen him for years.  He’s still handsome but in need of a good grooming as usual.  Kurt told me Carol, a friend who was a fixture on the scene for many years, has moved back to San Diego from Sidney.  A few years ago, Carol moved back to Australia after ending a bitter, years-long custody battle for her son.  I’m sure she’ll be visiting Denver soon.

After our shots we decided to check out the bar crowd.  The bar was hosting a fetish event with a robust crowd along with vendors selling a variety of goods.  We watched a guy getting flogged while another man was spanked with thick wooden paddle.  The bar patrons were attired in various types of dress or undress.  A number of men were simply wearing jockstraps, which is not unusual at Trade.

It was getting late for a school night, so we headed home.  What a day! We went from fine art to flogging in a matter of hours.

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Cancel The Jet

I doubt I will be spending a week at Bruce’s boyfriend’s house in the Hamptons this summer.  Bruce’s relationship with the guy is going down in flames faster than the Hindenburg.  I didn’t expect this man to be long-term, but I thought he would be around until fall.

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The New Generation

When I moved into my house many years ago, there was a 16-year-old girl living across the street.  Andrea was a cheerleader and one of the popular kids in her class.  She was also a bit of a wild child.  Fast forward to currently times.  Andrea runs a foundation, is married to a lawyer and has two teen age sons.  Her oldest son, age 14, came out two months ago. 

Yesterday, I attended our Pride Parade with this young man and his mother along with many other family members and a few close friends.  For two and half hours we cheered and clapped as the various groups and floats passed by.  The young man was amazed.  While at the parade, the young man’s friend, also 14, came out to his mother as bisexual.  If that wasn’t enough, a family friend was at the parade with her three teenage daughters.  One daughter has come out as bisexual, and another has started transitioning to male.  It was the first Pride Parade for all of these teenagers.  While not a perfect world, these teenagers have come out in a much more accepting environment with loving parents who take the time find out what they need to do to support their children. 

I felt proud to be an older gay man watching the next generation enjoy their first Pride Parade.  It’s not going to be an easy journey, but many doors have already been opened by the generations who fought the battles before them.  The new generations are being trained to continue the quest for equal rights, and to make sure those rights are not taken away by future Supreme Court decisions.

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Monsoon season has started here.  Rain started in the late afternoon and continued into the evening.  I attended a friend’s art opening in the western suburbs before stopping by Bruce’s Pridefest party.  The rain stopped while I was in the gallery.  Mother Nature rewarded us with a double rainbow over city.  A fitting way to kick off Pride weekend given the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe, which seem to be providing the catalyst for throwing same-sex marriage under the bus next.

I arrived at Bruce’s party a little before 9.  I was the last guest to arrive.  As expected, Bruce’s boyfriend and I were thirty years older than most of the other guests.  The guests were mostly gay men and straight women in smart outfits.  I met the most adorable muscle cub with hair in all the right places.  He, along with his husband, were sporting military type haircuts and masculine dress along with black lace-up platform boots with 8-inch stack heels.  Quite the contradiction!  These guys must have been really short as even with 8-inch heels they were shorter than me. 

I had a cocktail and socialized a bit before heading home.  I passed on playing beer pong.  I was home before 11 and in bed soon after.

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Trashed At Dinner

Last weekend flew by.  One minute I was at a gallery opening with JP on Friday night and the next thing I knew it was Sunday night.  Along the way, I did laundry, yard/garden chores, hit the gym a few times, watched Netflix and attended Bruce’s birthday dinner, which turned into a most interesting event.

Bruce hosted cocktails at his house before dinner at a high-end fish restaurant in the heart of downtown.  When I arrived for cocktails, the boyfriend was already there with his long-time friends, a married couple who split time between Atlanta and Los Angeles.  CJ was running uncharacteristically late so he met us at the restaurant.

Over dinner, the boyfriend and his friends managed to work their PhDs into the conversation. The husband was giving a lecture the next day on the Russian invasion of Ukraine which included a warning as to why Putin’s replacement may be worse than Putin.  The conversation shifted so I never heard his assumptions.  The wife, who is now a potter of some acclaim, got trashed at dinner and proceeded to spill the contents of her handbag on the floor in the middle of dinner.  She pushed her food around the plate while continuing to drink. At one point I thought she was going to puke so I moved my chair away from her.  She didn’t barf but left the table and walked out of the restaurant during the dessert course.  The dinner soon ended as the husband ordered an Uber to whisk his wife away.  The boyfriend paid for dinner which was a relief as the bill was most certainly close to a grand. 

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We’ll Split The Jet

I feel like I’ve been bombarded with nothing but unpleasant news over the last few weeks.  The ongoing war in Ukraine. The leaked alleged decision on Roe v. Wade.  All the people I know with cancer.  Rising inflation with escalating gas prices.  The Buffalo massacre.  A major stock market correction.  The monkey virus.  The ongoing domestic political unrest.  The senseless Uvalde massacre of 19 children and 2 adults. 

I went to the dermatologist only to be told a suspicious mole needed to be removed and biopsied.  I left the doctor’s office with five stiches along with the promise of a new scar.  Days later I was relieved to know no cancer was found.

JP had his first of five rounds of chemo.  He’s seems to be tolerating the chemo so far but it’s early in his treatment plan.  I’ve known JP for many years as a fixture on the local art scene but only recently became friends.  It seems too early in a friendship to be so involved in his life.  But what does one do?  I can’t walk away.  I know what that feels like.  I had friends distanced from me when I was in treatment. It’s just Double A, JP’s sister and me providing support.  I need to suck it up so I take this challenge head on.

My good friend and neighbor’s mother died on Sunday.  It was an expected death. Her mother was four months shy of 101.  She had been in a memory care facility for the last few years.  My friend flew to Oklahoma to say goodbye to her mother last week.  I went for a long walk with my friend on Sunday afternoon.  She talked while I listened.  It was what she needed. 

I had to talk another friend off the ledge on Tuesday.  His sister embezzled $1.2m from two of his family’s privately-held companies.  It has torn the family apart.  His sister was arraigned yesterday.  My friend is at a loss as to why she did it.  If she needed money all she had to do was ask for it.  My friend’s father was beyond furious and instead of handling the issue privately, he has involved high-profile lawyers and the courts.  It’s a fucking mess.  I talked to my friend for hours over two days.  He was devastated and needed a supportive friend.

I needed something pleasant to look forward to.  Enter Bruce to the rescue.  He stopped by while I was working in my garden yesterday afternoon.  Bruce invited me to spend a week at his boyfriend’s house in the Hamptons this summer.  I would prefer the invitation come directly from the boyfriend, and not, second hand from Bruce.  It could be a great vacation.  It could also be like being a lessor character in the Devil Wears Prada given Bruce’s well-heeled boyfriend operates in that world of privileged A-gays.  Details are vague.  I tentatively agreed to go.  I would like to get to know the boyfriend better.  I would also like to know more about the others who will be staying in the house.  As Bruce was leaving my house, he said we could split the cost of the jet.  I hope he was joking about the jet.

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This new house was originally going to be 12,000 sq. ft. It looks like the main house is more like 20,000 sq. ft. There’s also a guest house which is not pictured.

Developers have started on two other houses in the neighborhood but neither will be this big as they are on much smaller lots.

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