Hilly hates on Southwest Airlines.

So last night, I was chatting with my sister Hillary online...she was telling me about a wedding she attended in Chicago this past weekend with my parents. Now, my folks drove from Cleveland; Dad's got a pimp, Northstar V8-equipped, Cadillac Seville with front and rear buttwarmers, so there IS no coach section in his ride. It is a First Class Vehicle all the way, and whisked them down Interstate 90 in comfort, class, and style. Tell you what, it makes the five-hour drive much more tolerable, especially when you deal with all those goddamn Michigan drivers who don't know what the hell they're doing (kidding...Detroiters always complain about Ohio drivers). Hilly, however, flew Southwest Airlines out of Cleveland's newly-refurbished Hopkins International Airport, and had to deal with the Unwashed Masses that utilize the Public Transportation of the Skies.

As she drove home last night, she called and left two messages for me. Now, Hilly speaks a very fast dialect of Clevelandese, which I or anyone else from the Great Lakes region have no problem understanding. It sounds similar to the Chicago accent, but since we're closer to New York (and share the time zone) we speak much faster than the average Chicagoan, and people from Buffalo speak even faster than we do.

However, as people in different parts of the USA speak differently, and most of the world speaks different languages other than English, the Cleveland Dialect can sometimes be difficult to understand. When my sisters are speaking amongst ourselves at Full Cleveland Yammer, merging entire sentences into single words, swapping vowels, and dropping consonants left and right with wild abandon, it tends to be somewhat unintelligible and rather obnoxious to people from the South (or so I've been told).

I've transcribed her messages below for everyone's convenience.

BTW...when Hilly came to visit me last summer, she grabbed my camera while I was taking a nap or talking on the phone and went up to my roof for some self-portraits. Give that woman a camera - or a microphone for that matter, she's worse than a drag queen...she even has her own karaoke machine - and you aren't going to get it back anytime soon.

So here is the first message, which you can hear by clicking here.

Okay. So, can anyone tell me when you're about to get on a flight on Southwest, which is a cattle call, right? And you get A, B, and C Group, right? Can you tell me why everyone shuffles and pushes to get to the front of the line? Who gives a rat's ass? It doesn't matter where you sit! What, "OOO, YA GOTTA GIT, YOU SIT UP FRONT, YOU GOTTA GIT A BETTER VIEW!" It's like, who gives a shit? It was one-hour flight to Chicago, okay? It's a ONE-HOUR flight. EVER-BODY PUSHIN. Uh...pointless! And then, when ya land, you, people stand up, and then they gotta push and they gotta be in the center of the aisle. Uh, that'll get you out of the plane faster, ding-dong. Ya know what I mean? And then they stand and then their ass is like right in your face and you're like, "How ya doin?" AND...SCENE. TOTALLY unneccessary. Ya know, it just makes no sense to me, why EVER-BODY PUSH. Becuz, it's not like you're gonna get out of there five seconds faster and that's really gonna...ya know...WHATEVER. It's so...hillbillies, I'm telling you. Anyways, so, aah...okay. AND SCENE. Bye-bye.

But Hilly wasn't done. You see, she's a woman who speaks her mind, and quite loudly. When she was a kid, we called her "Foghorn" because you'd always hear Hilly's voice on the playground, carrying over all the other kids. When she and my dad watched Indians and Browns games in the TV room, everyone in the neighborhood could hear them in there hollering (and if you know anything about Cleveland sports, we do a lot of hollering, mainly from frustration and disappointment).

She was driving down a road I know is crawling with Cleveland Heights police, parked every 20 feet, bathing you with 24.15 GHz K-band love from their radar guns. As a result, people have been browbeaten into submission, and poke down that stretch.

So, she called back.

Okay, this is another thing. Um, can ya tell me why when you're in a hurry, everyone seems to go fifteen miles [per hour] in front of you? And they're always in a Buick Century or a LeSabre? And they always seem to be like, "OOOHHH! LOOK AT THAT OVER THERE!" and they're like, pointing? I'm like, uh what are ya pointing at? Stop light? Stop sign? Not quite sure. Uh...really annoying. And I left another message before, but I'm not sure - I didn't - I FERGOT TO PRESS "POUND" so I don't know if it went through. Because I don't follow directions because I'm A Horse's Ass. Uhhhmmmm...okay bye bye.

So there you go. Every time she leaves a message for me, I save it...she kills me.

She sent me some photos she took at the wedding...was she taking shots of the bride or groom? No. How about the cake, or the party? Come on, now...we're talking about Hilly here. She was playing around with her digital camera and just doing her thing. She actually has a pretty damn good eye, and is one of the photographers where she works. Now that I think about it, my mom is one of the Cleveland Heights city photographers as well, and has had some of her work published in a book (but she didn't get credit), city publications, and on the city's website.

Hey, it runs in my family. What can I say?

So at the reception...a cool self-portrait:

The candle on her table:


They're cool photos! I like them.

Of course, my mom grabbed the camera and took this picture of my dad...just being...well, Dad. He's doing his Bill Cosby dance there, not because he was imitating Bill Cosby, oh no. You see, he actually dances like that. I'm NOT KIDDING. He's the kind of guy who doesn't give a shit what anyone thinks, and does his own thing. I've never seen anyone in my life so comfortable with himself and who he is.

So here's my Pop...62 years old, almost 6'5" tall, tearing it up on the dance floor:

Hey, the guy's got style. Class, too...notice his tie is tied, his shirt is tucked in, and he was wearing his sport coat.

So there you go...now you know what it's like in my family.



And now...some ghost stories.

Seeing as we're in the days leading to Halloween, I've decided to "come out of the closet" with some strange experiences I've had. Ever since I was a little kid, I've been seeing things I KNOW are there in front of me, but I cannot explain. The earliest I remember is an old house in Chicago where my aunt and uncle used to live. The latest...well, is in the apartment in which I currently reside.

Now click on the ghetto blaster, and let's get this muhfukkin party started, aight?

And giving credit where credit is due, that above photo was taken on my roof one windy, freezing August night by my friend Jason Collins, who currently resides in Los Angeles.

Let's just say...I don't neccessarily believe in "ghosts" per se, I just can't come to any conclusions either way. I'm not a cleric. I'm not a scientist. Most importantly, I'm nobody who can say with any certainty that there is or isn't a "supernatural" force that is out there, but can't be explained.

All I know is what I've seen, heard, smelled, and experienced.

And speaking of experiences, I'll just lay them all out here, and let you all decide for yourselves if I'm crazy or not.

Chicago, Illinois, circa 1973-4

Note: The house pictured above is not in Chicago, but is actually next to a gas station on Divisadero Street here in San Francisco. It just looks spooky and run-down, that's all.

I don't really remember why I was in Chicago, but I do remember flashbulb memories of the old house. I was with my parents, who were visiting my mother's sister and husband before they moved to southern California. I think we had flown out there...I remember the crazy graphics on the airplane, the roar of the pre-noise controlled engines, the wild seat covers, and the "stewardesses" with huge hair and drag-queen makeup who looked like they had just stepped off the set of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh In" (am I dating myself or what?) and the smell of cigarette smoke everywhere.

Yeah, I'm in my thirties. Shut up already.

The strange incident I remember happened when I woke up in the middle of the night having to use the bathroom. I walked to the bedroom door, and opened it...it made a spooky-sounding squeak, and if I recall correctly, the glass crystal doorknob felt cold in my hand.

The hallway was pitch black, and I couldn't see a damn thing. I stepped outside the bedroom, and placed my hand on a wall so I could get some bearing. Suddenly, I saw a glowing, grayishly-fuzzy, shadowy figure standing at the end of the hallway. I wasn't frightened, as I was too young to know what a "ghost" was, and to be honest, I thought maybe it was my dad coming to help me find the bathroom. I didn't say a word, I just stared at the strange figure at the end of the hallway. Suddenly, it started walking towards me with long, confident, yet gentle and friendly strides. As it got closer, it extended its arms towards me, as if it wanted to take my hand and lead me to the bathroom. I held out my right hand, my left one still on the wall, and suddenly the figure stopped, seemed to turn around quickly, and the hallway light abruptly turned on, the old-style lightswitch making a loud snapping noise.

The shadowy figure vanished.

My 30 year-old father was at the end of the hallway, looking scruffy, sleepy, and bleary-eyed. Well, everyone kinda looked like that in the early 70's, so it was hard to tell.

"What are you doing up, Duder?" he asked me. ("Duder" was a nickname he had for me, a variation of "Dude")

I was baffled...but I really had to pee, and soon I stopped thinking about the shadow person. However, I've never forgotten it completely. What could have it been?

Who knows. I sure don't, and I suspect I never will.

Cleveland Heights, Ohio, 1974-1991

Ever since I was a little kid, when my parents moved from the townhouse in Euclid to the house in Cleveland Heights, many of us in my family, the dog included, have heard strange noises in the house and backyard from time to time. As it turns out, a woman died in the house (the TV room) and her husband suffered a heart attack or aneurysm just after starting his car in the garage and putting it in reverse. He went barrelling across the backyard, and hit the house next door; you can still see the damage to the brickwork to this day.

When I would go to bed, I would hear my folks downstairs watching television for a while, then I'd hear them talking, turning off the lights, bolting the back door, securing the basement door, calling the dog to come upstairs, bolting the front door, shutting the foyer door and locking it, and finally, trudging upstairs...first my mom, then my dad. The exact same order, every night. They'd go to bed, and the house would be silent, save for the passing cars or the wind whispering through the huge trees outside, the distant "whuff" of the furnace kicking on, the steam pipes clanking, my parents' snores, a leaky toilet tank refilling for a few seconds, an occasional radiator whistle, or assorted creaks and groans of an old house settling. Stuff that I had grown to love, that would lull me to sleep.

However, sometimes, that wouldn't be all, and my peaceful slumber would be interrupted.

I would hear someone else coming up the stairs, slowly, methodically, ploddingly. I would recognize the order of the steps creaking, as whoever it was would slowly walk down the stairs again after reaching the top. This would go on for a few minutes, up and down, up and down, then I'd either fall asleep with the covers tightly pulled over my head or it would stop.

Now, a few years later, I was talking to one of my sisters, and asked her if she had ever heard that. Her eyes flew open and her face turned white..."YES!" she exclaimed. We asked our other sister, who had also heard the strange footsteps on the stairs. It's strange...all of us heard it, but we NEVER talked about it. Maybe we were afraid everyone would think we were crazy.

But the craziest thing didn't happen until around 1989 or so...my best friend Chuck and I were downstairs one Friday or Saturday at 3:30 in the morning. We had just come home from dancing at the industrial clubs and more or less getting into trouble in downtown Cleveland. We had just finished a meal of chicken parmesan (Chuck was a chef at an Italian restaurant), and decided to raid my parents' well-stocked liquor cabinet in the breakfast nook for an after-dinner nightcap.

We chose to drink some scotch, and were in the process of pouring it, when suddenly, we heard a creak on the stairs.

"Fuck," I whispered to Chuck, "I think my parents are up." We froze in place (I was 19, Chuck was 18, and my mom didn't approve of underage drinking...dad said to just keep it under control on the weekends when we didn't have to drive anywhere).

We heard the distant snores of my parents, and Chuck said, "It must be that freaky ghost of yours." He had heard it before.

I heard the dog start growling from her basket in the upstairs hallway, but she abruptly stopped.

"Yeah right," I said, pouring myself a shot. Suddenly, we heard someone come pounding down the stairs, quite loudly, I might add.

I choked on the whiskey I had just sipped, and as we hastily returned the bottle to the cabinet, the heavy stomping on the stairs, which was actually shaking the entire house, continued unseen across the living room, through the dining room, and stopped at the kitchen door.

Chuck looked at me, wide-eyed, and we crept towards the kitchen door and peeked into the dark dining room.

Nothing. Nobody.

I turned on the light. Again, nobody.

I poked my head through the passageway into the living room, which was also devoid of any sort of entity, human or otherwise. I heard the dual snores of my parents come from their bedroom, so I crept up the stairs, taking care not to make any of the stairs squeak.

The dog was cowering in her basket, shaking, thumping her tail when she saw it was me. I bent down and nuzzled her for a second; the poor Dalmatian was totally spooked about something, and I pet her for a few seconds until she curled back up into a ball and closed her eyes. I cracked open my sisters' bedroom doors...one was gone for the night for a sleepover, and the other one was obviously sound asleep in her bed with a long line of drool running down her face. Even if she HAD run down the stairs, she couldn't have done so without making the dog bark frantically, PLUS she would have made a ton of noise running back upstairs, opening her bedroom door, closing it, climbing back into bed, and drooling on herself.

I went back downstairs...and made some stiff drinks for Chuck and me. At that point, we needed them.

Incidentally, Chuck never spent the night at my house ever again...and only visited me during daylight hours.

Next...Biloxi, Mississippi, New Orleans, Louisiana, and San Francisco, California.

By the way, if you have an interesting or scary ghost story (ahem, Ed) just email it to me and I'll put it up here.



The picture says it all.

I took that photo a few months ago at the the San Francisco dump, and I can't think of a better picture to describe last Sunday night.

Let me explain.

It all started out at the last Feather Sundays party at the Bambuddah Lounge in the Tenderloin.

"Tenderloin." That should be your first clue. Everyone knows that's my favorite neighborhood in San Francisco, not to mention that's also where I get into the most trouble.

Nothing like the Walk of Shame up Leavenworth Street from Market at 2:30 AM.

So I walked in the party, and everyone I knew was there...Camper English, the Good Doctor, Tender Crisp, Cement Brunette. The music was hot and the people were pretty. I took a ton of photos...there are literally THOUSANDS of them on my camera now. I should really get on that.

The party started winding down, the Good Doctor left for a Castro Bootysearch, and Cement Brunette, Tender Crisp, and I left the Bambuddah to meet Daigle at a different kind of watering hole...the Gangway. Those of you who have been reading this blog a while will know The Gangway is my favorite Tenderloin gay dive bar of all time. The bartender that was working there that night is a really cool older gentleman who pours the drinks so strong, they'll knock you on your ass. It's hard to understand him sometimes, as he's had a tracheostomy and his stoma gurgles occasionally. It's kinda distracting. In addition, Daigle even somewhat-drunk-dialed my mom from the bathroom there once, calling her "Foxy" and leaving her in stitches.

I spent most of yesterday in bed with food poisoning...that's the last time I ever eat a Whopper. WHY I have such a sensitive stomach is beyond me. I'll just say it serves me right for eating at the Powell Street Burger King.

Bluh. Healthy food, Chad! Healthy food! I will say the Good Doctor made me a delicious, healthy meal last night, washed down with Napa Valley cabernet, so that more than made up for it.

But I'm digressing.

So when I picked up my camera this morning and looked at what was on it for the first time since Sunday, let's just say I was horrified, frightened, disgusted, delighted, and tittilated at the same time. Shame on you, Cement Brunette! Same goes with you, Daigle! You two are the filthiest people I know! Tender Crisp! Shame on you too! Why didn't you intervene?

And shame on me...I'm not exactly innocent here.

I've deleted the incriminating ones of me...so I'm thinking...should I post the others?

Decisions, decisions.



Another Madge album.

So, I got an email from a fellow blogger yesterday, with the new single from Madonna, "Hung Up" attached to it. I downloaded it, then started listening. Now, I've never been a huge Madonna fan, even when I was in high school. I liked the songs "La Isla Bonita" and "Open Your Heart" but I could not understand people who absolutely puddled themselves over her. I will admit, however, the "Express Yourself" video I'd see on MTV when they used to play music was absolutely HOT. I tried to grow my hair out like the guy in the video, but it just didn't work out like that. Anyway, if she was on 92Q (the Cleveland Heights-based teenybopper station of the 80's, WRQC), I'd listen to it, but I rarely, if ever, taped any of her songs off the air.

So I listened to the song from the dirty, filthy blogger. And trust me, this kid is FILTHY. I heard the Abba "Gimme Gimme Gimme" sample almost immediately.

Wow! Nobody has EVER sampled Abba before! [eye roll]

The song is okay, but it's nothing groundbreaking. Don't get me wrong, I didn't dislike the song, it's fun with frisky use of color (xoxo, Ed), it's catchy, and not overtly offensive, but it just didn't wow me.

It had about the nutritional qualities of a piece of Bubble Yum bubble gum...and the intense flavor lasted about as long. Let's just say I won't be listening to it over and over again, and am bracing myself for the inevitable heavy play it's going to get in bars and the on the radio.

Now let's talk about that album cover.

"Confessions on a Dance Floor" huh? That's SO cutting edge! Wow! AND she sampled Abba!

Is it just me, or does she look like she fell down in that picture, fractured her hip, and she's trying to hold herself up? I mean, I confess a lot of things on the dance floor, and I have been known to get a bit scandalous when shaking my ass at Badlands (a guilty pleasure I indulge a few times a year) but I never do that. Pick yourself up, gurl! Dust yourself off and get another cocktail! You don't have to "confess" anything to be because I can't hear a goddamn thing you just said! Just smile, nod, feel hella-good, and just keep on dancing.

Now, before any hardcore Madge fans start pummeling me with hate email, I will say this. Madonna was, and remains, one of the most savvy businesswomen in the industry, and is the master of media manipulation. She has built a powerful media empire, and her children will be hiers to one of the biggest Hollywood media fortunes in history.

I say, good for her. I adore her for those accomplishments. Good for marketing her product to the masses.

Oh, and her "Ray of Light" album was tolerable.

But as an artist?

Well...bless her heart.

And that's about enough out of me.




So I was enjoying my post-workout lunch at Polker's Gourmet Burgers at Polk and Green streets here in San Franfucko. Someone decided to stand on top of a fire hydrant, and I recorded it. However...

Suddenly...I see an amazing woman walk by outside.

She totally caught my eye.

With her purple chenille shawl and her bleach blond hair...who could miss her?

So, I followed her down Polk Street. She was Fab-U-Fucking-Lous.

Seriously...check her out.

I was totally dying.

Look at her keys...can you say "DIVA" here???

So I followed her to her car, and asked her if I could take her picture. She was happy to oblige, and was a complete sweetheart.

So...here you are.

See? Right there.

San FranTastic.

That's what I'm talking 'bout, dammit. You may not like what she's wearing, but this woman has STYLE.




The Camper English Project.

A few weeks ago, Camper English asked me if I could take some photos to accompany his interview in the Village Voice in New York. They picked one, and I got published a few days later.

I was looking through some of the other photos tonight (I took over 1200 in the space of an hour) and I decided these needed to be shared with the world. Camper is one of the most fun people I've ever worked with.

So...here you go.

The first one wasn't actually part of the shoot; I snapped it at Feather Sunday at the Bambuddah Lounge a few months ago. The rest, however, were all taken on the same afternoon. As always, click on any of them if you want to enlarge them.

This one in particular is my absolute favorite...this drunk guy wandered out of the tavern at the corner of Grant Avenue and Fresno Alley and stumbled into the picture. The fact that Camper is smoking two cigarettes at once only adds to the absurdity. I have this one as my desktop on my computer:

Oh, and if you haven't read Camper's book yet, you really, really should.

Camper English. He's a goddamn dreamboat. Now go buy his book. If you ask nicely he'll even autograph it or maybe write something dirty on the inside cover.

© 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by Chad Fox. All rights reserved.