This is a food blog. I know you know what that is. You’ve probably guessed that I’m rather passionate about good food. That’s why I started a food blog. But you might not know how I am came to be so passionate about the subject. So I offer the following timeline. I hope you’ll get to know me a bit better by reading it.
1. I was a love child.
2. I was a Honeymoon baby, conceived in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Born 9 months and 8 days after my parents wedding night.
3. My mother was barely 20 (if that) when I was born.
4. My mother quit college to have me.
5. My mother worked as a secretary so my father could attend Med-School.
6. My mother was not ready to be a mother.
7. I was born gay. I know this for a fact.
8. As a child I was painfully shy, at least that’s how I remember it.
9. I hated sports of all kinds.
10. My father is a brilliant man, and saves the lives of children for a living.
11. I was very mean to my little brother until I was 13, after that I practically ignored him until I was 30. To this day I’m sorry about that.
12. I went to Catholic school in Utah during the Vietnam War. We were not Catholic.
13. In Cincinnati my Dad caught me looking at my mother’s Cosmo Magazine. I guess he assumed I was looking at the cover because he gave me my birds and bees talk right then and there. He’s a doctor, so you can imagine all the anatomically correct drawings.
14. The issue was April 1972. I was looking at Burt Reynolds.
15. I never could make my mother happy. I realized this about age 10 and decided to punish her.
16. As a kid, I knew we were “well-off”. For some reason this embarrassed me.
17. As kids my friends and I used to make Radio Soap Operas on cassette recorders. Tragic love stories. I always died in those melodramas.
18. In 9th grade I got First Place in the state of Michigan for an informative speech I gave about Farrah Fawcett.
19. I still remember that speech word for word.
20. I may have saved the life of a little kid when I was thirteen or so. He was running into the road to catch a football. A car was coming. I tackled the kid. The car came to a screeching halt. I burst into tears and ran away. It’s the only tackle I ever made.
21. I remember how happy cooking always made my mother, no matter how much she complained about it.
22. I know no one is perfect, but my little sister was/is/always will be darn close and I am not being smarmy.
23. I had my first “girlfriend” in Farmington Hills, MI. Our best date was shimmying up the basketball poles on opposite sides of the court and sitting on the baskets waving at each other.
24. She is a serious athlete these days, but not a lesbian.
25. I lost my virginity to a girl that same year, but not to her.
26. We moved 7 times in 5 states before I was 16 years old.
27. We moved to Florida and my dad took me to (another) new school in 10th grade. A fancy prep school. I took one look and refused to attend.
28. It was the first important decision I ever made on my own. The virginity thing was not my decision.
29. I attended St. Petersburg High, a public school. I am still good and regular, life long friends with several of the kids I met there. Who says kids don’t know what’s best for them.
30. My dad once pulled me into the guest room and gave me a parable he had written about knights in shining armor and “romantic” love. He was trying to apologize for my mother. Trying to explain why she found me so difficult. He did not know that I had already decided to make things difficult for her.
31. I used to sneak out of the house early on Sunday mornings to take the bus to church (give a kid his own private entrance and he’ll use it!).
32. On one of these journey’s I came across an old woman sitting on a park bench with her purse on her lap. She was dripping wet. It’s Florida; there is always a lot of dew. She had been there all night. She was dead.
33. I kept that story to myself for many years.
34. I quit going to church by myself on the bus.
35. School was easy for me as a kid. I barely had to try. Then algebra kicked my butt in 11th grade and I quit trying entirely, though I still graduated with honors.
36. I never really bonded with boys as a kid. I had my first true and platonic male friendship through the luck of the college roommate placement system. It was the greatest feeling of my young life. Just to be a regular guy.
37. I joined a fraternity.
38. I took a photography class in college. It was odd because no matter the assignment, I only took pictures of myself. I got an A and a recommendation to attend photography school– anywhere but FSU. I guess I was no longer just a regular guy.
39. Greyhound lost those photos and negs. They never even apologized.
40. I re-read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I was flabbergasted. Who knew it was really about me?
41. In 1983. I quit college and moved to California to be on my own. I did not even tell my parents until the deed was done. I should have been scared but I wasn’t.
42. Living in Santa Barbara in the early 1980’s was an easy place to re-invent myself. So I did.
43. In 1984, in the process of pretending to be an interesting person, I started to become one.
44. When others my age were graduating college, or even starting families, I experienced a belated sort of adolescent self-discovery.
45. I loved Ton Sur Ton’s loose blousey shirts and how powerful they made me feel on the dance floor.
46. On a trip to San Francisco during this time I called my mother to say I was in one of those culinary cities she so loved. All she could say to me was, “I hope you’re being careful,” then hung up.
47. AIDS missed me. I don’t know how.
48. I thought Madonna was a flash in the pan. I really did.
49. I found I could go to the nude beach and not feel self-conscious. Self-conscious had been a way of life for me. It was nice to say goodbye to it.
50. I was as fickle as a 13 year old girl. I developed crushes at the drop of a hat.
51. I met John Travolta outside the movies in Santa Barbara once. We made small talk. He invited me to a picnic. It turned out to be a Scientology meeting; he was not even there. To this day, I still think it was a date.
52. I saw him again years later on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles, pumping his own gas. I walked up to him and asked, “Do you remember me?” He said he did not. To this day, I still think he did.
53. Another go at college revealed the missing piece of my life’s puzzle. The one that shows you what you want to do with your life. It was photography after all.
54. In 1986 I began to lose interest in my second round of college. Though I stuck it out and eventually graduated anyway.
55. Sometime in 1985 or 1986, I did something dishonest. It got misconstrued, but I still lost my job. I wish I could go back and explain the situation to the man, my boss. The man whose belief in me gave me the opportunity to live independently at such a young age. But it boils down to one fact. I did something dishonest. The next opportunity that man, my boss, gave me was the opportunity to learn from my mistakes because I never saw him again.
56. I lost faith in myself in 1987.
57. When you lose faith in yourself, people lose faith in you. More of my Santa Barbara friends began to drift away; they began to start their ‘real lives’ without me. I see now it was the natural progression, we were at that age.
58. The funny thing about idyllic places like Santa Barbara is, eventually you are faced with a choice. You stay or you go. Whichever decision you make will haunt you the rest of your life. Santa Barbara is beautiful, but it’s limited in its life choices, but then again it’s so damn beautiful.
59. I read Accidental Tourist and learned about second chances.
60. I moved back “home” to Florida. I was tired of taking care of myself. I wanted somebody to take care of me. I wanted that somebody to be my mother.
61. I found I could still be cruel to my mother.
62. About this time my mother told me the story about the big fish in the little pond. She said as much as I wanted to be that big fish in her little pond, it was never going to happen.
63. In 1988, in a tremendous gesture, my dad gave me his beloved Audi 5000. Midnight Blue. My mother stood in the driveway upon presentation and pointed west. It made me mad, but I heard what she was saying.
64. I live in a pretty big pond now, here in Los Angeles, and I feel right at home.
65. I bunked with another gay photographer upon arriving in Los Angeles.
66. My first job in photography was secretarial. It was a good job.
67. The friends I made in Los Angeles mostly worked in Show Business.
68. We started our own little “circuit party” called the Cute But Stupid Boys Club, or CBSBC (see pic). It was a riff, but it felt like home.
69. One of life’s little coincidences led me to a cafe on Wilshire Blvd. Where across the room I spied a woman who looked like a young Sophia Lauren. She was waving at me. I had run into one of my Santa Barbara friends. She was somebody I had worked with, somebody who I feared might judge me. She did not.
70. With the old and the new reconciled I was finally able to put Santa Barbara behind me and in the process she and I have a friendship that will last our whole lives long.
71. I still fantasize about moving back to Santa Barbara.
72. I found I could be a power dater. Which is different than a professional dater, but not much.
73. I went to a lot of great restaurants.
74. I went to a lot of great parties.
75. I met famous people.
76. Show business did not seem that hard to me.
77. I put my eyes on the rungs of the ladder in front of me and decided to become a celebrity photographer. I did not look up and I did not look down.
78. I assisted some of the great celebrity photographers of the time. I was always a lowly 3rd or 4th assistant, which turned out to be good thing, because it kept the door open for my own photography career that was to come.
79. The most important lessons I ever learned in photography have nothing to do with taking good pictures.
80. It was easy to learn for me. As I said, I was always a good student.
81. December 17, 1989. My life would change once again. Another lucky break for me.
82. I met a man named Ken during a night of industry “holiday party hopping”.
83. I fell in love almost instantly, and that has not changed. I doubt it ever will.
84. I know it’s politically incorrect, but Ken and I, we never wanted marriage, we never wanted kids. Too old, too used to living outside the system I guess.
85. But if I did have kids and my little girl (or boy) grew up and met a lovely woman (or man) she (or he) loved. I hope she’d (or he’d) feel quite different than I feel. Because I hope kids get to grow up in a world where love is not limited or hidden away like something wrong or illicit.
86. Ken and I did have a pug dog named Buster though. He lived with us for over 16 years. I hope we made him as happy as he made us.
87. The 90s were all about work.
88. Ken and I bought our first house during this period. We moved in just weeks before the LA Riots turned the city skyline black. I remember going on the roof of the house with a hose, because that is what all the other neighbors were doing. Despite the ominous beginning. The house turned out to be a good thing. Ken and I turned out to be a good thing.
89. We sold that house and bought another in the same Hollywood Hills neighborhood.
90. I loved being a photographer. I think I was pretty good.
91. I am not really a movie buff. Though I have worked in show business going on 2 decades.
92. But I did see Brokeback Mountain. I’m still devastated by that movie and cannot bring myself to see it again.
93. Coincidentally, I did shoot Brokeback director Ang Lee once. In the photo I did, he appears very tiny, standing pressed up against a large tree. There is an older white man looking up from his paper on a porch across the park. He seems startled by what we are doing. Ang Lee doesn’t see the man. It’s almost as if he doesn’t see the camera either. I think it’s because he’s too focused on what was coming up in his own life, in his own career. In the photo, Ang Lee seems to be taking a moment to hide out and prepare for what lies ahead. It’s a good photo because I knew how he felt.
94. I am not a photographer at the moment (there I said it!)
95. It’s sort of a shock leaving photography, or maybe I mean having it leave me. It’s a relief, but it’s still sad.
96. But the biggest shock is finding out that your job doesn’t define you.
97. Still, I continue to have stress dreams about demanding young starlets, and the absurd scenes that can only occur in the make-up room (“I told you no loose powder!”).
98. I have given up on running into John Travolta at a photo shoot someday. I doubt he’d admit to remembering me anyway. Heck, maybe he really never did.
99. It took me a while, but I think I finally learned life’s simplest lesson– “Mother knows best”. She saw my life, and my life’s direction long before I ever could. She may have gone about it “ass-backwards” to borrow one of her more colorful phrases. But the lesson finally stuck. She died in 1993 I never got to say “Thanks Mom”. I miss her.
100. I do love cooking. I find it makes me happy, no matter how much I complain about it.