Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Message from the Grove Hotel

I'm on an email list for the Grove Hotel in Cherry Grove, the one that was decimated by the fire the other night.  As I read it, I thought it would be a good thing to share it, so here's the email...

Esteemed Guests and Patrons,

This has been a difficult time for our Ice Palace & Grove Hotel family. Early Friday morning March 27 a fire swept through the Grove Hotel destroying the building.

The Ice Palace Nightclub was undamaged thanks to the amazing efforts of the Cherry Grove Fire Department as well as other neighboring departments. The Cherry Grove Fire Department's knowledge and training helped them contain the fire to the west side of the property. Sadly the fire consumed the hotel as well as homes on Holly Walk.

The Grove Hotel has been a gay hotel for over 59 Years and has had famous guests like Lady Gaga, Liza Minelli and countless Drag Superstars. We are still processing our emotions over this loss but assure the gay community we will rise from these ashes and rebuild.

Once our engineers evaluate the property we will announce the 2015 season opening of the Ice Palace Nightclub. Thank you to everyone for your kind words, love and support.

Dr Frank Liguori and the entire staff of the Grove Hotel

Let's hope and pray that the coming season at Fire Island will be a fruitful one for them, and one of the best for its guests.  Here's to a bright future for this summer and the ones to come...

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Sad Day in Cherry Grove

It was the first thing I saw this morning when I turned on my pc.  In case you haven't heard, there was a major fire over in Cherry Grove last night, over at the Ice Palace complex.  According to Edge Media, the blaze started around 1:30 a.m. and it took several fire departments from the main island to finally extinguish the last of the flames, but not before destroying much of the Grove Hotel, The Holly House, Kokomo and Carousel Guest House. The whole thing is eerily reminiscent of the November 2011 blaze that decimated much of the Pines, and one can't help but feel a sense of great sadness over it all.

For much of the gay community here on Long Island and far away, the news of this tragedy is devastating.  Fire Island, and Cherry Grove in particular, has been a staple of the community for years and years, and I (as my readers well know) and virtually every other PLU (people like us) has spent many a summer night dancing their butts off at the Ice Palace.  Preliminary reports say that there wasn't too much damage to the club itself, but with the hotel being completely gutted, who knows what to expect this summer.  

Most of my Facebook friends have been posting picture of themselves over the years at the Grove, and the Ice Palace, and so I think I'll share some of mine here.  Today was a sad day, but these memories will last a lifetime, and hopefully there are still more to come...   

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Best Costume Ever!


My pal Rich shared this video on his Facebook page this morning and I can't stop watching it. Doesn't that look like AbFab's Patsy and Eddy in the front seat? Hehe...

A New Adventure Awaits

Enjoying life is all about taking opportunities as they come, especially when it comes to travel.  I love to travel, and if I were a rich man, I would spend a lot more time seeing what I can of the world.  To this point in my life, I've been pretty fortunate to have had the opportunity to see and experience many different places.  I've traveled through three continents and seven countries, sunned on islands in the Caribbean, and traversed across more than twenty states, and there's always more to see.  Well, recently I've been offered an opportunity to see even more of the world, and I'm excited to say that in less than two weeks, I will be embarking on a 12-day trip through Europe.


Every year, the sophomore class of the school I work in goes on a trip to the Old World during spring break, and for the first time in 12 years, I've been asked to go as a chaperone.   We'll be visiting seven cities in four countries and after about three months of waiting, I'm finally starting to get excited.  

Our itinerary includes stops in Amsterdam, Paris, Lucerne, Switzerland, Venice, Florence and Rome. With the exception of the cities in Italy, I've never been to any of these places, so I know it's going to be an awesome adventure, especially combined with the fact that we'll be with a group of 41 kids. It's not the typical vacation I like to take, but it's going to be fun, that's for sure!  


Stay tuned for more travel adventures, stories and follies coming in April.  

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Sobering Reminder from a Hot Sexy Goddess

It is with a troubled and heavy heart that I write this post.  It's one of the types of posts I hate to write, yet always seem to find therapeutic.  Early this morning, at school, my classroom phone rang.  It was my buddy Laura Kim...

Did you see the email about Rita?

I hadn't, but before I could even answer her, I was given the saddest of news.  Rita, a colleague and onetime friend of mine had passed away.  I'm not exactly sure how old she was, but she was young... several years younger than me, and way to young to die.

Since that phone call this morning, a myriad of memories have washed all over me.  Rita and I have a storied past.  At one time, I considered her one of my good friends. and we shared many good times together.  But then one day, just about three years ago, a rift opened up between us over nothing really, and our friendship evolved into awkward run-ins at first and then eventually total nothingness. Now that she's gone, I can't...I don't...regret anything that ever happened between us.  I just can't help but feel immense sorrow for her losing her life, especially at such a young age.  Her death is a shock, and serves as yet another reminder that life is such a precious thing and it need not be wasted on things that don't really matter.

I first met Rita, whom I eventually came to call 'Reet,' several years ago.  She was an elementary school speech pathologist and she'd been tasked with working with a student of mine in the 7th grade. She was looking for a space to work with him and none of the teachers in my school would allow her in their classrooms.  Then one day she knocked on my door, and of course I invited her in.

It was really nice having another adult in the room for a change.  Working as a teacher is like being on an island, and so having her there gave me someone to talk to.  Soon enough she and I became fast friends and for about three to four years Reet and I shared lots of good times together.  I remember when we first exchanged phone numbers, she put hers into my phone and called herself "Rita, the Hot Sexy Goddess,' lol.  That name and number is still on my phone.

Rita was one of those people I felt comfortable sharing all of myself with from the get-go.  I believe that the first time she and I went out together socially, I told her that I was gay.  As things turned out, perhaps that part of me was partially to blame for our eventual rift.  Over time I'd learned how she viewed homosexuality and felt that maybe I was more of a novelty to her and not looked upon as being 'normal.'

I have to give her credit, though.  During the times we spent together, she met all of my friends and she even went to Cherry Grove with us on Labor Day, as well as clubbing with me in the city.  I remember her being nervous about going to the Grove out of fear that she was going to get hit on, but she persevered and went and I'd like to think that day was one of the best days she ever had.  Every photo of her that day shows a great big genuine smile.

Three years ago, a misunderstanding between us lead us to drift apart, and eventually we just stopped speaking to one another.  We never had an argument, but we're both stubborn Italians and neither one of us made the effort to reconcile, sadly.  The following school year, she took a leave of absence and ended communication with most of us at school.  No one ever really knew what was going on with her...until this morning.  

So for what it's worth Rita, you Hot Sexy Goddess, you, I hope you have found peace.  I thank you for your friendship and I promise to hold on to the good times and let go of the bad from this day forward.  And I also want to say thanks for the reminder that life is so precious, and that we all need to make the most of the time we have here, for every day that we wake up we are lucky.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Spring Has Sprung? Well, Yeah!

Spring has sprung!  Well....sort of.  Last night, we 'sprung ahead' with the time, meaning that the sun was out, in the sky, approaching the 7 o'clock hour this evening.  Holla!  Temps climbed all the way into the 40's today, as well...a virtual heatwave!  These two things give us winter-weary peeps even more reason to look forward to the coming spring.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I could already feel it coming, and now the signs are becoming more apparent.  This winter has been too long and too dreary and I think we all need a little lifting of the spirits, which spring will most certainly do.  Spring is my favorite season, and as far as I'm concerned, it has sprung!   

Monday, March 2, 2015

An Awesome Weekend of Birthday Fabulousness!

It was a busy weekend.  It was a fun weekend.  It was a weekend full of birthday celebrations from start to finish and it's about freaking time!  It seems like it's been forever since I've enjoyed myself as much as I did this weekend.  The birthdays I helped celebrate all belonged to special people and so this last weekend of February and first into March was one that I'll remember for a long, long time to come.


Happy Birthday Manny!

The plan was two trips into the city on Friday and Sunday, with a family birthday party for my nephew Jake sandwiched in between on Saturday.  First up on Friday night was an evening of debauchery for my pal Manny's birthday.  His birthday is actually today, but Monday's not really a good night for going out, and so he, our friend Ozzie and I traipsed into NYC for a little fun with Manny's friends Norberto and Raj at the Fairytail Lounge and then on to Icon in Astoria for a nightcap and some dancing.  I'll spare you any gory details, but let's just say it was great to be with these two friends for such a fun night!

Happy Birthday Jake!

My youngest nephew is a teenager.  My brother's younger son turned 13 years old on Saturday and after spending an awesome day with him seeing Wicked a few weeks back, I was only too glad to spend his special day with him.  Until that jaunt into the city I'd never really spent much time with Jake, and I'm so glad that we took that trip because for the first time I really got to know him as a person.  All I can say about that is he is one awesome, young man!  Jake, you rock!  Happy Birthday!


Happy Birthday Blanchie!

Last, but certainly not least was the best part of my weekend.  You see, tomorrow one of my oldest friends, Bobby, will be joining the '50 Club,' and me and our third Rich treated him to see Kinky Boots on Broadway,  The three of us spent the awesomest of days together in the snow-covered city laughing, dining and enjoying a spectacular show.  Though I consider many of my friends a part of my extended family, these two are my real family, and it was nice to be just the three of us together. The only sucky part was an awful ride home because a murky forecast of snow turning to freezing rain was mostly snow...and a lot of it!  Poor Dita had to drive us for the better part of a two and a half hour ride through unplowed expressway to get home.  That didn't stop the mood of the day, though, as the ride was full of good music and good friends, just like the day had been.

Anyway, since I feel like a lot of the time lately I've been writing about negative stuff (it's been a long winter!), I wanted to share a good time for a change.  So for what it's worth, happy birthday to Manny, Jake and Blanche!  I love you all and I'm lucky to have each of you in my life!