Monday, January 12, 2009

New Year Musings

Sitting in the waiting area to board my flight to Palm Springs on New Year's Eve, I commented via text to some friends that it was like sitting in death’s waiting room, on account of all the old people. It turns out I was completely correct as a woman in first class had a heart attack in the restroom and we were forced to make an emergency landing in Colorado. And after we took off again the guy across the aisle from me had to be put on oxygen. It was really insane.

[And as a nice bookend, as I waited for the flight that would take me back to the Midwest – a flight that was delayed on its way to Palm Springs because of an emergency medical landing – I heard the gate agent put in a call for SEVEN wheelchairs to assist the arriving passengers.]

But Palm Springs isn’t just old people. It’s gay people too. A lot of them. Like so many it’s a little uncomfortable, as least until you get used to it. Well, if you come from the gay desert of Detroit it takes getting used to. 40% gay is the number I heard. Isn't that nuts?

I went to Palm Springs to meet up with a group of guys who were my core group when I lived in Ann Arbor. Over time we all moved away, me only as far as Detroit, but the rest to various California locales. It is always absolutely wonderful meeting up with them, because as we've all noted, we've met great people in our new homes but there was a special kind of connection on the sense of humor front in that group. Whenever we meet up it's pretty much constant laughs. And we're not even high.

Palm Springs is like the opposite of Detroit - it's mostly modern, the weather is beautiful (even in winter, when it is the cold desert). The amount they do modern there is actually almost crazy. Even all new contruction seems to be modern, and you know America loves a neo-traditional homestead. All in all, it's very pretty there.

An open house at the condo across the lane from my friends' place ...
the pool was gorgeous, but alas, the interior was straight-guy TRAGIC.

A lady moment at the wonderfully prissy Kaffeehaus.

Fruits are cheap in PS!

A spontaneous drag moment while out for Sunday afternoon cocktails

As mentioned, the gays are everywhere. And they skew older, this isn't a young man's town. So it is a little strange to go to the bar and see guys in their 40's and 50's acting as typical and stupid drunk as the kids you might see at Menjo's. Honestly fellas, haven't you learned anything in the past 20 years?

The up side, of course, is that I am basically a twink when I go there, and that was kind of nice. Everyone wants to feel pretty now and again.

Now speaking of pretty, even though not all the architecture there is executed flawlessly, people there are pretty house-proud and modern is the prevailing aesthetic for commercial spaces as well as residential, so from my perspective things look good. And there is no blight. Even the homeless people seem pretty happy (and they aren't braving frostbite standing out with their stupid "Why Lie? I want beer" signs).

It was with a heavy heart, then, that I returned to the depressing winter weather and the oppressive oppression of the economic disaster that is Michigan. Everything just looked so ... ugly. It was just so ... cold. And getting together with friends - the usual antidote when the bad parts of living in Detroit get to you - is met with people complaining about the same things you're complaining about.

Now boarding: flight back to Detroit.
I would have been lucky to be seated in between these two. Instead I got the overweight single mom from downriver
with a smoker's voice, and a styrofoam container of fast food and a two-year old on her lap.

It's an ugly time in Detroit.

And that leads me to thinking about the Supergay agenda for 2009. Last year I wanted to promote the city as a good destination for gays and help foster gay community. I think overall I can say that was achieved, although without any measurable result (except for Doggy Style, that's a certifiable hit).

This year I need to strike closer to the root of the problems that disturb me. I learned in Palm Springs that a surplus of gay people isn't what I really want - being there, as delightful as it was, actually made me long for the mosaic of people who are part of my life downtown, even if I do sometimes feel like I'm somewhat isolated as a gay dude. All good things in moderation, I suppose.

This year, we've got to work on the aesthetics of life in Detroit. As inspiring as the cycle of decay and (ideally) rebirth can sometimes be, the downward slope can be really depressing. Palm Springs showed me what pretty can do for your attitude, and my return home showed me how ugly can just suck the life out of you.

I can't fix the weather, and I can't fix the blight. But I can point out what is right and I can try to encourage individual efforts to make Detroit slightly more attractive.

So on top of the gay attraction agenda of 2008, this year we'll add "beautification" to the list. Because Detroit, you can do better, even if means not wearing that ugly sweatshirt out in public. I'm sure I'll follow through as well as last year, but at least we'll get the message out there for a while.



Kathe said...

Even if we just step up our game sartorially, that's got to help. I just got back from Brooklyn, where the streets aren't paved with gold either, and everyone is freaking out over the recession, but at least people DRESS for the day.

Ed said...

As HGTV says, "Start at home," which I plan to do. Botox, anyone?

Anonymous said...

I'm just glad our "Ray of Sunshine" is back home where he belongs.

See you tonight!

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, Supergay. Your observations on age and sexual orientation in P.S. reminded me of how my friends used to describe Palm Beach. The Gay 90's... All the men are gay and all the women are 90.
And give us 50 year olds a break. I'd feel like an ass on the dance floor in West Hollywood. So every once in a while I can shake my funky groove thang in Palm Springs without too much embarrassment.

SupergayDetroit said...

I am glad to see my readers are picking up what I'm laying down!

Oh Anonymous, I'm not talking about guys past the twinkie freshness date getting funked up, I'm talking about 55 year old drunk messes dressed like a Tijuana hustler dirty dancing to Rihanna. And trying to make out with random people.

It's not an age thing, it's a maturity thing!

Backintheday said...


Palm Springs has the best consignment stores in the country. Old, rich people go there and buy all new furniture for their retirement homes and then they die. A lot of it is a bit "vegas" but some of it is way cool.

SupergayDetroit said...

Oh Backintheday, you know I was all over that!

Anonymous said...

I love your idea to make things more beautiful. The Greening of Detroit is one organiztion that makes a difference. I personally have planted over 120 trees around the Wayne State area with their help. Detroit needs beauty and you have a voice to inspire real change. What do you suggest would make Detroit more beautiful?

Anonymous said...

I lived in Detroit for 50 years and now live in THE GREATER PALM SPRINGS AREA, going on 5 years.

There is A LOT more than Palm Springs itself here in the valley.
I live in Rancho Mirage twelve miles from downtown Palm Springs. The entire valley is gay friendly and most of the older gay community does not even go to gay bars, they entertain and get drunk in the homes of friends,lol.

There is a energy in Detroit that inspires the creative and unusual and I am not just talking about the blight.

Your experience in Palm Springs sounds very surface.

All I can say is thank god I no longer have winter, 80% gray days per year, snow to shovel, traffic jams/rush hour traffic, and only a few truley gay friendly cities.

I miss NOTHING about Detroit and the burbs but I do miss many of the people.

I lived in Hamtramck for 10 years during the supposed come back after the RenCen was built...well we all know the story there. I remained positive and involved for many years believing it could/would happen.

It is great to have people like yourself still trying.

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