steve_berkeSteve Berke is a comedian who made a run for mayor of Miami Beach last year, challenging long term mayor Matti Bower. He didn’t succeed in his quest for office, unfortunately, but he does have a couple of great pro-marijuana music videos on YouTube. Berke is unabashedly against the so-called “war on drugs,” and makes the demand for (re)legalization of weed in both of these videos.
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My South Park based alter ego.

The South Park based avatar for my online persona, Dunrobin Macdhai.

I have been using the handle, Dunrobin Macdhai, online for the past couple of decades, but the name originated years earlier than that. Back in the 1970s I got interested in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), which is a group that re-creates medieval culture for fun. When I got out of the Army in 1975 and moved to western New York, I tracked down the local group for the Buffalo area, and through them I met my best friend, Brian.

Brian was the group’s resident Celt, and since I’m of Scottish ancestry I decided to join his “household.” (A group’s status rises as it’s leader gains more followers.) In the SCA you develop a medieval persona, so I decided on a old-style Scottish Highlands parson (sort of a very secular priest) whom I dubbed “Dunrobin Macdhai.” Dunrobin is an old Scots Gaelic name which means Robin’s Hill or Fort (see Dunrobin Castle, for example,) and I took the Macdhai from my own clan history. (The Davidsons were known as Clan Dhai back in the 13th or 14th century.)

I hadn’t heard of Cosmo Jarvis until I stumbled across his music video, Gay Pirates, on YouTube a few days ago, but he has quickly become one of my favorite new musicians. (I’ll probably be sharing a few more of his videos.)

Cosmo Jarvis is a 23-year old musician and film maker. He was born in New Jersey, but he grew up in Devon, England. Gay Pirates is from his second album, and he wrote, directed and starred in the video for the song.

AfterElton.com had a fascinating interview with Jarvis after the Gay Pirates video went viral in 2010. In discussing his motivation for the song, Jarvis said:

You know the stereotype of pirates — these gruff dudes who can take anything, they live on maggot-infested biscuits in the middle of the sea, they whip each other, they’re really tough guys.

So if one in ten guys today is gay, then one in ten guys back then must have been gay, so I was just thinking there must have been gay pirates, although pirates were very tolerant toward homosexuals for the most part. But if you did end up on a boat in the middle of the ocean and you can’t run anywhere and everybody is totally against the idea of you having a partner on the boat, I felt that it was the worst thing that could happen to somebody who was gay.

When AfterElton asked Jarvis, who is straight, whether he ever had any second thoughts about kissing another guy in the video, Jarvis had an interesting observation, which demonstrates that attitudes have definitely changed since I was his age:

No. No way. Why would you? Nobody would think twice about kissing a girl. I’d be a shit actor if I was going to get up there and think twice about it. I have to tell their love story some way or another.

It doesn’t bother me. I’ve never been shy about that kind of stuff. I’m not gay, but growing up we had this game called Gay Man Chicken, where two guys face each other, and go to kiss, to make out seriously, and whoever wimps out first is the one with the problem about being a homosexual. The guy who does it doesn’t have a problem with his sexuality, because it’s just kissing a guy. So it was just not a big deal.

The only person who really had a problem with it was my mum. She was worried people would think I was gay. I said, “Lovely. Why would you worry if people think you’re gay? If people think you’re gay, so what?” A lot of people think somebody is gay just because of the way they carry themselves, the way they act, they way they talk, and the fact is, you never know who’s gay and you never know who’s straight. It doesn’t even matter. It’s completely irrelevant. It’s just like I like chicken or I don’t like chicken. It’s no big deal.

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Denying myself for 30 years had an unfortunate side effect; I quit caring about living. I wasn’t suicidal as such (at least not after the early years,) but I stopped giving a crap about my health. I suppose my fundamental thought was that there was no point in a long life if you have to live it alone, to never know really being in love and having a relationship with another guy.

As a consequence I put on quite a few pounds over the years, peaking at 310 lbs., although I have dropped about 30 lbs. or so since then. I am fairly tall (6’3″) so I can hide a few extra pounds, but 300+ is hard to disguise. Being overweight made it easy to adopt an even more sedentary lifestyle, so I also lost a lot of muscle tone over the years. Other than groaning when getting my fat butt out of the recliner, I didn’t really care. If anything, my being out of shape was an additional defense mechanism; if I didn’t find myself attractive I’d be less tempted to try to hook up with another guy, since I’m attracted to toned, athletic builds.

Now that I’ve accepted myself, I find that I have a renewed interest in life after all these years. Unfortunately, I’m still an overweight, out of shape blob.

Fortunately, there is a community gym in town that is very reasonable and has good extended hours. I’ve become a lazy bugger at the best of times, so the idea of dragging my butt out of bed and off to the gym on a regular basis is a bit daunting, but I’m also a bit excited over the idea of finally getting into shape. Fortunately, my brother used to belong to the same gym a few years ago, before he moved out of the area, and he used to go all the time with his best friend from high school. Jim hasn’t been going there since Pete moved, but he jumped at the idea of meeting me there on a regular basis when I asked him. I haven’t been in a gym, to speak of, since my Army days – long, long ago – so it will be nice to be able to work out with someone who already knows how to use the equipment, and the commitment to meet him there will give me an additional incentive to get up and do it.

I’m actually looking forward to going to the gym. Will wonders never cease?   Who knows – if I get into shape I might finally develop an interest in clothes beyond “does it fit?”