The first time I recall ever really knowing someone was gay was in 1976 at Wilfred’s Beauty Academy in Red Bank, New Jersey. Most of the kids I went to school with went to barber shops if they were boys, or hair salons if they were girls, but Mom liked a bargain. She’d drag her three kids kicking and whining to Wilfred’s. Wilfred’s would give you the deal of the century, if you were willing to let their students practice on you. It was a total crapshoot. I never knew if I was gonna walk out as Farrah…
Peace, Love and Cauliflower
The U.S. has been feeling like a scary place lately. In the last few years, fear mongering, hate spewing, misogyny, homophobia and racism have stirred up a division in this country probably not seen since the Civil War. Once again, it’s brother against brother, sister against sister, red states and blue states, Black lives matter (they do), white supremacists. Lordy. Was this how it felt in 1861?
I didn’t think things could feel any worse, but then, enter Corona. Fear, loneliness, loss of jobs, loss of business, loss of life, 230,000 lives … one might think…
I recently saw a painting by one of my favorite artists, Erna Partoll. The painting, called Doorways, spoke to me. Unlike the bright and vibrant colors in many of her other abstract paintings, the colors in Doorways are somewhat muted, pleasing pastel shades. The image of four doors and the sun shining over them is soothing. Doorways is a perfect name for this painting. Were I to give it another, I might call it Peaceful Transition.
Peaceful transition has been on my mind a lot these days. I am hoping, (and praying) for a peaceful transition in the United States…
When I was a bartender in South Street Seaport, I equated the World Trade Center with the sea of drunken yuppies who swung their polka-dotted yellow neckties over their shoulders as they downed tequila shots with oil cans of Foster’s Lager.
They easily threw 50 bucks down on my bar to buy shots for their buddies but tipped in quarters and dimes. No wonder I gravitated toward the back of the house.
I traded in my martini shaker for a whisk in the late ’80s.
I became a wedding caterer, which, I must tell you, is one wild-ass way to…
Small Is the New Big (How a Wedding Caterer Survives Corona)
All my life, I’ve yearned for the big things.
When I was a kid, adults were always asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Especially teachers. That seemed to be the chosen greeting for grammar school teachers, “and what do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer for many years was the same, “I want to be president of the United States!” Back then, I believed, as many of us did, that president of the United States was a job for which…
It wasn’t as if I decided to be a wedding caterer.
In the ’80s, I was catering mostly corporate cocktail parties. Everyone seemed to have money in the ’80s. It was the yuppie invasion. Then I catered a wedding. The wedding guests said things like, “Wow! I just ate good food at a wedding! I can’t believe it!” In the old days, wedding food was notorious for looking good but tasting like linoleum. It didn’t take long for my wedding guests to tell people, and so on and so on. …
Reclaiming the Flag
I’ve always loved the American flag. As kids, we pledged allegiance to it every day in school.
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
The “with liberty and justice for all” part always stuck with me. To me, America stood for freedom against oppression. My grandparents came here to escape anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe. Hitler and all the bad guys were out there, wherever out there was. Not in America.
I grew up…
This June is the 50th anniversary of the Gay Pride march.
New York City is where it all began, with the Stonewall Riots. After years of being beaten, arrested, jailed, harassed and murdered, the LGBT community rose up, fought back and changed the world.
I think about the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests around the United States and the world. Black Americans know a little something about police brutality. It makes the struggle of Stonewall feel all the more poignant this year.
In June of 1970, on the one year anniversary of Stonewall, the first ever Gay Pride…
Written early May 2020.
I’m trying to remember the last time I hugged anyone.
Was it at the open house I catered in Gowanus first week of March? Nah. We were already giving elbow bumps by then. Some guy shook my hand without thinking, and I raced to the bathroom to wash my hands. Granted, that wasn’t about Corona. The guy had some seriously clammy hands. Yo, Clammy hand people, what’s that about? That’s even worse than the dead fish handshake.
Ronny was the first of my pals to start wearing a mask. He was wearing one with his chef…
Rest in Peace Larry Kramer. You were a Giant.
My Normal Heart
First Published on Huffington Post June, 2014
I watched Larry Kramer’s “Normal Heart” this week and was transported back to a strange and terrifying time in New York City.
I moved to NYC in 1981 as a punk rock, 17-year-old who wasn’t exactly palatable in the small, quaint town of Rumson, New Jersey. In Jersey, my leather jacket turned heads, but in Manhattan, I didn’t even register on the “freak” scale.
Another little tidbit about NY that I loved: Nobody cared that I was gay, although even I…
Rossi (aka Chef Rossi) "Queen of The Raging Skillet" Author, writer, blogger, radio host, caterer, chef and subject of a hit play! Out Loud and Proud!