Archived entries for New York

Reflections of New York

“A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.”
-Joan Didion


Keep The Lights On

I have such ADD that I rarely watch films. But this week I saw a screening of Ira Sachs’ “Keep The Lights On” — hosted by Out Professionals — in advance of its New York and LA opening next week, and I was gripped. I simply have not been able to shut up about it since.

The film mirrors so much of the story told by Sachs’ ex-boyfriend Bill Clegg in Portrait of an Addict, the story of their relationship and Clegg’s descent into crack addiction. Far more than a gay drama, though, the beautifully shot film seems a universal story of confusion and obsession in love. The music, by Arthur Russell, is haunting and perfect. The last ten minutes of the film is perhaps one of the most incredible sequences every shot; I promise you’ll go to bed contemplating what happened with the lead characters, Erik and Paul!

Dutch Kills

A nice discovery in Long Island City – the fabulous bar Dutch Kills.

NLGJA Headlines & Headliners

The annual New York benefit for the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association is always a blast – a great party for a great organization.

The gang (very Vanity Fair, if you ask me):

With Aaron:

Eva and CNN’s Don Lemon:

New York, six years on

Six years ago today, I moved to New York, a place I never wanted to live — and that now I can’t imagine ever leaving.

Within an hour of arriving on that dark and dreary Saturday night, my friend Paul whisked me to Therapy (the Hell’s Kitchen bar, not the counseling session, thank you very much) for a raucous night of cocktails and meeting new friends.

Immediately, my biggest fear of moving to New York–not being able to break into this famously tough town–proved unfounded.

I moved for work, not because I’d ever desired to live here. Growing up, our lives were more oriented to Montréal and Boston, where I lived for years. New York was never part of the picture.

In the interview for the job that brought me here, my future boss even cited an excerpt from this very blog in which I wrote that I couldn’t imagine wanting to live in New York. (But I was depressed then, I told her. And times change!)

It turns out I fell in love, and six years on, New York is still magical.

The other night, as I crossed Sixth Avenue in a drizzle and gazed south, to the twinkling lights of lower Manhattan, I had one of those New York moments. Like that feeling you get when the skyline swings into view on the drive in from LaGuardia, or during walks across Central Park, when you can’t help but stop in your tracks on the Great Lawn or the Sheep Meadow to marvel at the expanse of green and the towers beyond.

To me, New York is not Times Square, the image it often represents to the world. New York pulses with energy, that is a known fact. But the city is also incredibly intimate, despite its size.

New York is the quiet nights at Turks and Frogs, talking politics and books with the bartender. New York is the day your barista tells you she’s moving away and will miss serving you every morning.

New York is the friends. The sad days when we say goodbye to old ones, and the hope that comes from the new ones we’re constantly meeting in what must be the most social city on the planet. New York is always having a place to go where people know your name, and just as many where no one knows it, when that’s all you need.

New York is the dog days of summer on the sidewalk at the Duplex that you don’t want to end, and that you wish you’d worn the sunscreen for.

New York is high brow and low brow. The simple pleasure of brunch at Jackson Hole and the indulgence of drinks in the clouds at the Mandarin. Lincoln Center. The Met. The Monster. Laying on the grass and reading a book at the Christopher Street Pier. Walking down Fifth Avenue with the sun in your face.

I don’t know how better to describe New York.

“The deepest aspects of life are about wordlessness,” the author Pico Iyer wrote. “Something you can’t articulate.”

With 2,190 New York days under my belt, I don’t think I’ve gone a single one saying I hate this place. And while it’s true I’m a compulsive traveler and love nothing more than to escape to the wilds of Maine or British Columbia, or lust after the romance of Paris, the truth is, there’s no place like this.

“Once you have lived in New York and made it your home,” Steinbeck said, “no place else is good enough.”


PFLAG NYC is such an important organization, and their annual benefit is a total blast. This year the keynote was offered up by the one and only Sandra Lee, who marched in June’s Gay Pride parade alongside her boyfriend Andy Cuomo days after he became a celebrity by leading the charge for same-sex marriage in New York.

Sandra speaks – and the gays listen:

With my friends Dean and Brian:

My new fav web site

Overheard in Chelsea – check it out!


The snowpocalpyse of 2010 was pretty impressive. There is something about the city after a blizzard that’s cozy and nice – so long as one does not have to get anywhere.

Here is Sixth Avenue (and one of my favorite buildings) in Chelsea as the snow was beginning to melt yesterday:


I’ve been fascinated by the story of Brendan Burke since I first learned about it. This week I had the immense pleasure of being there as his father, Brian Burke (head of the Toronto Maple Leafs), gave the keynote address at PFLAG NYC’s 30th Annual Gala. It turned out to be the first time he’s publicly spoken at length about Brendan since he died earlier this year, and there weren’t many dry eyes in the house — including Burke’s himself. (Meanwhile, the wackadoodles from the Westboro Baptist Church protested outside.)

“He was a great kid, a much nicer person than I am,” Burke said. “We would have been praising his accomplishments for many, many years.”

A long-running NHL executive, Burke said, “We still haven’t had a professional athlete come out — we know we have gay athletes, but no one has had the courage to take that next step.”

Related: Brian Burke Honours Late Son with Pride (Torontoist)

Cathay Pacific party!

Flying doesn’t get much better than Cathay Pacific, the only airline I spend more time on than JetBlue, thanks to their daily JFK – Vancouver flight which is perfect to supporting the life of the Vanyorker. So I was thrilled to attend a party they hosted the other night at the Madison Avenue outpost of Shanghai Tang, the Hong Kong retailer that makes Cathay’s first class pajamas (not to mention some of the most fabulous leather goods). Great champagne, great company, a great fashion show!

Chris and Brian’s wedding

I usually dread weddings, but not my first same-sex wedding! I was thrilled for my BFF Chris and his boyfriend Brian for officially (and legally) tying the knot yesterday in Connecticut before having a fantastic party with hundreds of friends back in New York. Chris was my first new friend when I moved to New York more than four years ago, and I love him to death — so glad to see him finally hitched!

With Andy:

With Kenneth in the 212:

With Andy and Chris:

With Yosbel and Drew:

Broadway Beauty Pageant

I can’t say enough good things about New York’s Ali Forney Center, the largest shelter for homeless gay kids in America (an estimated 40% of homeless youth in America are gay). The other night was one of their many annual fun fundraising events, the 2010 Broadway Beauty Pageant.

Five Broadway performers vied for the title of Mr Broadway in talent, interview, and swimwear competitions before host Tovah Feldshuh (who managed to scandalize the audience with some hilarious banter about the Polish presidential plane crash) and a panel of judges that included the riotous Michael Musto and Christine Ebersole (who seemed to have downed an entire bottle of some sort of pill before taking the stage). Their commentary helped make the show was absolutely riotous.

Charlie Williams, from “Memphis,” was ultimately crowned the winner through audience voting after an impressive talent performance that showed his range — he effortlessly switched from a hilarious and very butch rap to a bit of sparkly ballet — before taking his clothes off and revealing the body of a god. (As Next magazine described it, he has “Herculean thighs that could crack walnuts.”)


Last night I headed down to Mitchell Gold on Lafayette Street for NLGJA’s annual Headlines and Headliners benefit, the biggest annual fundraiser for the organization. As usual it was a star-studded but not stuffy affair, emceed this year by the hilarious Kathie Lee and Hoda (see the clip below for the pair’s thoughts on the event during the next morning’s Today Show).

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Everyone and their mother seemed to be there: ex-Newsom babe Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fabulous Megyn Kelly from FOX, Andy Cohen, Andy Towle, Kenneth Walsh, Manuel Gallegus, Jeanne Moos, Jill Dougherty, Carl Quintanilla, Andrew Shue, Jane Velez-Mitchell, and fellow Mainer Contessa Brewer. But the best looking group was definitely this trio:

Causes to care about

The older I get, the less into Christmas I get. Although I enjoy the hunt for the perfect gift for special people in my life, I am admittedly uncomfortable receiving gifts anytime of the year. I’m too modest — really! I think there are far too many good causes that are worthy of our money. A few for your consideration:

At a recent benefit in the West Village (hosted by Tom Fontana at his spectacular former New York Public Library-turned-apartment), I discovered that I’m not the only young New Yorker who is obsessive about Buffalo’s park system (though I may be the only one who didn’t grow up in Buffalo). The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy is a great, little-known cause that is working to restore the grandeur of Frederick Law Olmsted’s parks, a comprehensive system first proposed for Manhattan that was never carried out here — Olmsted reportedly said New York didn’t have the vision for it, so he went to Buffalo to work his magic. The Conservancy is not only returning parks to their original state — how they looked and flowed before urban renewal destroyed many of them — but they’re doing it all while running the day-to-day operations of the city’s parks after Buffalo transferred stewardship to them. Turns out a private group can do it better — and more cheaply than the city government. Imagine that.

I can’t think of a better cause in New York than the Ali Forney Center, the shelter for homeless gay teens. (Even Golden Girls diva Bea Arthur thought so: she left Ali Forney $300,000 in her will earlier this year.) The issue of homeless gay teens is huge — and largely flies under the radar in Chelsea, the center’s home base. I’ve been stirred by the issue ever since reading an incredible New York Times article on Ali Forney a half decade ago. As Carl Siciliano, director of the center told the paper, “I think it’s shameful that these kids are out there alone and in danger, in a city where gay men have so much money.”

Helping them make it through the night [NYT]
For Young Gays on the Streets, Survival Comes Before Pride; Few Beds for Growing Class of Homeless [NYT]
Thousands of New York’s homeless teens live with violence and despair. Ali Forney was one of them [LAT]

A week of shows

What a whirlwind of a week! Wednesday night I had the good fortune to see Jude Law in Hamlet on Broadway — a seriously hot ticket. While I tend to avoid anything associated with big name celebs, on the grounds that they must be over-commercialized, I was hugely impressed by Jude Law’s performance. (Ben Brantley at The Times wasn’t so effusive in his praise.) So many famous – and fabulous – lines in popular usage originated from Hamlet: “Brevity is the soul of wit,” being my simple favorite (and of course Hamlet’s cry to Ophelia to “Get thee to a nunnery!”). While Jude’s performance was spectacular over the 3 1/2-hour performance, it was the realer-than-life lighting design that stole the show and the contemporary touch in the costuming that tied it all together. No wonder this show’s taking in a $1 million haul each week.


From high brow Shakespeare I went a little downscale to see Rihanna at Hammerstein Ballroom. The babe of Barbados performed a quick 45-minute free promotional show that was sponsored by JetBlue and Barbados Tourism. She was actually quite a good performer, though her quick appearance seemed to miff quite a few of us (OK, so it was free…!). The best part of this show was certainly Rihanna’s clothing, which the Daily News called a “revealing outfit that didn’t quite qualify as a dress.” One less centimeter of fabric and the world’s her gynecologist.


From Mr Blue Eyes and Miss Barbados the cultural tour of New York this week proceeded uptown to the famed Apollo Theater, where my friend Andy somehow managed to get us 7th row center seats to the last weekend of Dreamgirls. It was quite simply the best show I’ve ever seen (thanks, Andy!). Not only were the singing and acting talents pretty spectacular, but the stage and lighting (if maybe a little over-the-top) combined with the most indescribable costumes and an electric crowd to produce one spectacular evening on the town. The star of the show was surely the costumes — some 580 of them, created by William Ivey Long. If he doesn’t get a Tony for their not-so-subtle contribution to an incredible show, I’d be shocked.



It’s been a week of gay events in New York! Last night I went to the annual NYC PFLAG Annual Dinner at Tribeca Rooftop — our table was, of course, quite good looking, as were the views from the roof. The highlight of the night was not the PFLAG mom who told the sad and predictable tale of her son’s spiral into crystal meth addiction and HIV (As my friend Andy observed afterward, “You know, I was so expecting her to go to the HIV place in that story that I found the meth revelation to be a nice palette cleanser.”), but Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal faith, and the subject of worldwide anguish by some (well, many) Church faithful…and a very impressive performance by Barbara Cook, who has been singing her heart out for decades, if not centuries.





Ali Forney Center

There’s no nonprofit group in New York I’m as obsessed about as the Ali Forney Center. Not since I read an amazing article in the New York Times way back in 2004 have I felt so moved by an issue: gay teen homelessness. In New York, the problem is epidemic, and AFC is on the frontline tackling this huge problem.

Every fall they host a benefit, “A Place at the Table,” and last week’s event was superb, what with Mayor Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Chris Quinn, and celebs Sandra Bernhard and Rufus Wainwright on hand to show their support for the Chelsea (and now Queens and Brooklyn) shelter.

As The Times explained back in 2004, “There is no official count of those who are homeless and gay in New York, but Carl Siciliano, who runs the city’s largest shelter for gay young adults, puts their numbers in the thousands. Most national studies estimate that as many as half of all homeless youth are lesbian or gay, many of them tossed out by parents who scorn homosexuality for a variety of reasons.

“As director of the Ali Forney Center in Manhattan, Mr. Siciliano can shelter only 12 people at a time and wring his hands as the waiting list grows beyond 100. He seethes with indignation when talking about the teenagers who are forced onto the streets, where they quickly become acquainted with drugs, hustling, violence and the virus that causes AIDS. For many, he says, suicide becomes the only way out.”

Give to Ali Forney today!

Turks & Frogs

One of my favorite things about living in New York is being able to wander the streets and discover the city anew each time I venture out. New places, curious spots, and crazy people beckon down every street. One of the nicer discoveries I’ve made lately is Turks & Frogs, a Turkish wine bar taking up a sliver of a storefront on West 11th Street in the West Village. My experience in Turkey last year taught me that Turkish wine is awful but their national beer, Efes, is unrivaled. Fortunately, Turks & Frog is well-stocked with Efes so those of us who fantasize about it can finally get our fix on this side of the Bosphorus. Turks & Frogs seems, above all, like a great place to bring a mistress — it’s very dark and discreet and it seems unlikely anyone would every find you here. With its friendly and legitimately Turkish staff from Istanbul and Adana, it’s a great place to get a quiet drink or a lesson in the latest Turkish political excitement.


Saying goodbye to summer

A few shots taken around the city over the last few days of summer…






Bye, bye, Brett

Last night we said goodbye to our friend Brett (“my girlfriend” as our mutual friend Donny has nicknamed him), who is abandoning our posse for warmer climes. Despite choosing Seattle and not Vancouver as his new Pacific Northwest home, we forgive Brett and wish him nothing but the best in his new life.

Brett and I been travel buddies for years — having ventured across the Atlantic more times than I can count. He was the first friend to ever suggest a spontaneous trip to Europe — we up and went to Munich — and he forever changed my way of thinking about travel. I’ll miss having him around for the spontaneous trips, because he travels so well: I can’t imagine another friend who’d let me drag him through dark alleys of Istanbul for hours looking for a gay bar, or who’d agree to put aside his own wish list in Paris for my own — every night. I’ll miss you, Bretty!


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