Friday, November 28, 2008

Camping (Slummin' it) in Yeehaw Junction, Florida

So I finally get bamboozled into going on this famous "camping" trip with my dear friend whom I'll call "Lip Gloss", her husband I will call "Taz" and her two young boys. She'd been at me for months to experience this place with her and where she promised an enriching experience for my nephew Diego, now age 7. Jason Mraz's song, "I'm Yours" is playing on Lip Gloss' Ipod and I mention notice of Florida Gator license tags on the cars passing us by. Her husband quickly retorts, "This is gator country boy!" My inner voice was yelling "yeehaw! I can't wait! in an ever-so-sarcastic tone. I get a text from my sister (Diego's mama), "feel fear" and my mind fills with images of the movie Cape Fear. I think to myself what have I gotten my ass into this time and are there any train stations nearby so I can get back to Miami? We exit at Yeehaw Junction, where Lip Gloss explains, "The locals call it a place where people meet and where US 441, State Road 15, State Road 60 and Florida's Turnpike all intersect.,_Florida

A quick search later on wikipedia tells me that it used to be called Jackass Junction and that's what I felt like when we pulled in to the Pilot gas station for some grub in the form of subs. I was a little drunk so that didn't help the surreality of this station-situation. There was some strange characters up-in-that-bitch. There were cowboys, a woman that looked like she was either a bull-dyke or a real truck driver, a guy that had a beaver skin hat with two toothpicks sticking out of it's side (i guess it's a trucker fashion statement), a couple of hunter guys with full camouflage gear even their boots were camouflaged (apparently deer check you out from head to toe). Any-yoo-hoo i get my sub and even get real crazy and serve myself a real Coke from the fountain. That's right, no Diet green tea for this brave soldier! Suddenly, I get a full glimpse of my girl friend Lip Gloss in that blinding flourescent light that only gas stations and prison holding cells seem to have. I rush to tell her that her camping fashion statement is going to ruin her marriage and that her husband will never want to have sex with her if she keeps wearing huge, red minnie mouse Croc's, black tights and a purple, oversized, Harry Potter style sweatshirt. Seconds later, the young clerk tells Lip Gloss how much she likes her outfit. I almost burst my lung from holding back my laugh. I guess she was a hit at Jackass Junction.

Eating outside the Pilot gas station, freezing my fingers off because Taz said it's part of the experience. Little Diego notices the desolation of the gas station and shivering, "I miss Miami-Miami is better than this." Taz quickly replies-"This aint no lala-land, shangrila boy!" I ask Taz "These cabins we're going to, are they like real wood or are they like Lord of the Flies huts made out of coconut palms and straw?" Taz-"No dude, There's 2 cabins and one Airstream trailer. You don't know how difficult it was to build it all out here. It's like building on the moon, there's rivers all over and lake Okeechobee." I spot a Panther Crossing sign and ask if they have ever actually seen a Florida Panther since I've read they are extremely endangered. Taz-"Never but the squirrels out here are mean and rowdy! They are like the squirrels in Manhattan. Everyone knows they aren't afraid of humans anymore. One time these crazy fox-squirrels ran through our camp while we were sleeping and ate our food! They jumped like 6 feet from the ground to a tree with bags of chips in their hands. They're so big they look like beavers" The conversation in my head was like "I can't wait-Yeehaw!" with an even more sarcastic tone than the last time. I looked up this mythical beast and it turns out they do exist.
Taz-"Here we are, you turn left at the triangle sign on the mailbox. River Ranch, for the ultimate country experience-don't put the name in that blog of yours, I don't want people to know about it!" (how could I resist it?)
Lip Gloss proudly claims-"It's like Disney without the on/off switch and security."

My mind-"Yee-friggin-haw!"

Taz- "Now duck down so we don't have to pay for you to get in."
Lip Gloss-"You gotta get through this gate before you make it in. It's like the troll gate, pay the toll."

My mind-"I smell pigs shit!"

Taz-"Check out the hog pen out here. They raise wild pigs for the kids to chase in a pen after they get bigger" We get out to get Taz's ATV and he let's me ride his. I gotta tell you, riding an ATV for the first time was a unique high like riding a motorcycle and a wild horse at once. Friggin awesome! I finally saw what all this hassle was for. It's all about the ATV riding. There's miles of dirt trails out here, pretty much made for ATV riding.

We go through about half an hour of mud and bumpy road to get to their camp. Lip Gloss tells me, "Small is the new big out here. These shacks and houses are all individual according to the owners income, no building codes and they're all off the grid!" She says it as if it's a good thing. I guess it's a good thing depending on how you look at it but my idea of being "off the grid" is a well-designed, contemporary structure with it's own water recycling system, solar panels and a windmill for auxiliary power.
We light a nice campfire while we unload our stuff into what i can only describe as an aluminum tube with no insulation but what they call their Airstream trailer. It's about 50 degrees and I guess it is better than a tent. At least it has solid walls and a door to keep them marauding, wild squirrels out. We drink some shots of Grey Goose vodka to warm us up. Little Diego is a little freaked out at the darkness of it all and asks for me. I tell him i'll be with him in a bit and to go to sleep with the other boys in the metal tube thingy. The next day we go to the nearest diner to grab some breakfast (thank god there's a bathroom there!) and i bring my toothbrush and face soap. We filled our bellies with some darn tasty and cheap American breakfast and high-tail it to their friend "Papa Bear's" house to spend the day. On the way we see a scene from Mel Gibson's Mad Max movie. There are about 30 ATV's with children and women all geared up, surrounding our jeep. I have to admit it looks like they were having a great time in the great outdoors.

A couple of joints later Papa Bear asks me to go with him to get some fresh deer meat from his neighbor. Papa Bear- "If he asks just say your my cousin from Atlanta." I ask-"Why he'll kill me if he finds out I'm Cuban and gay?" Papa Bear answers- "Just dont talk and play stupid...he just hunted some deer today." We pull up in the ATV to Larry's trailer and there is what I can only describe as a scene from Silence of the Lambs movie. A freshly killed deer hanging from a metal cage, lit from above by a spotlight, wrapped in a green tarp, blood dripping from it's antlers. Larry grabs the deer's lifeless head and proudly exclaims- "It's a 5 pointer! They said it was 3 but it's a 5 alright! I've been killing the fuck out of these deer. I've shot like 8 this week alone." My mind-"Nice real-nice...WTF am I doing here!! Mommy!"

Papa Bear- "Hey larry, thanks so much for the meat, it looks real good. Why don't you come over later and hang out with my wife and I? We've got beers and a barbeque going." Larry- "Well I dont know, I got my little lady coming over and were gonna rub-a-dub-dub you know. I gotta get some mud for my duck..ha-ha-ha." We get back to the camp with the two slabs of rear meat with two white bone knuckles poking out of the mass with some golden Bambi hairs still stuck to the side of it. Papa Bear cleans it up and slams it on the grill-"Hey Taz, wana try some deer meat? It's fresh and it's perfect off the grill here." Taz-"Hell no! I'd rather climb naked up that pine tree than try that shit!" I feel so relieved that he said that. Now I won't be the token pussy that didn't try the deer meat.

All in all, I got to know a part of Florida that I would never have otherwise. A place frozen in time (around 1892), with all that comes with it, unification with nature, living like a settler, lack of modern comforts, racism, homophobia, isolationist mentality, hunting for sport and good old dirty fun. It definitely wasn't my cup of tea but it was worth doing it for my nephew. He got to run around with his buddies in the dirt like a wild puppy and felt what it was to be truly carefree and one with nature. Something so few children in this modern world get to do. Even though I will probably never go back, it was worth feeling like a dad for a couple of days, for the long hug and quarter-second look of "thanks" my nephew flashed me before running off to his comfortably modern, permanent camp he calls home.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Text-ing etiquette 101

He texted-ed me! My heart pumps and a rush of adrenaline jolts my vein highway. I spring from the table and leave my hot Kobe beef burgers behind, excusing myself from the uber-cool Indigo Hotel restaurant in Newton, Boston. ( I had been waiting for a response from my previous text-ed date request to a hot Miami Cuban I had located via MySpace after bumbling an attempt to get his number at a Miami club months before. The rush you feel when getting a much anticipated text is equivalent to getting a Playstation 3 on Xmas morning or finding a 20 dollar bill by the bar at a nightclub.-take your pick. This text read a chilly, "Sure i'll go to dinner with you." My friends understood my rude reaction of jumping from the table since I'd already explained to them the "dating-dance" i was doing with this stud. The "stud" turned out to be a "dud" with the date never gel-lin'. This is why I never date Cubans (I am Cuban) they are too much work. Still -I enjoyed the ride either way.

Queue song "Im tired of using tech-no-logy"

Texting etiquette is so new a concept there isn't even a class for it and parents don't include it in their "birds and the bees" speech either. So where does a citizen of the modern wired world find out what is polite or inpolite when it comes to communicating via our ever-important devices that keep us connected at all times? There are no texting 101 classes offered at Miami Dade Community College or even online. You learn from dates who get up from the table and leave you with the bill after you keep looking at your phone for an incoming text while they are telling their life story to you. You learn from the rolling-eyes of your fellow elevator riders on your way up to your office as you nervously text on your Blackberry and your latte is leaking on the floor. You learn from the DMV lady that tells you go to the back of the line if you're gonna be on the phone while she helps you. You pick up the "norm" from the people around you and that can change from city to city. One thing that is easy is to pick up are the hundreds of texting acronyms out there and they spread like a computer virus. They free up hundreds of seconds a year in making our sentences shorter and prevent us from crashing our cars or bumping in to parking meters while we text as fast as we can going from point A to B across America. There are literally hundreds out there and even some that get listed into our dictionary of the English language every now and then. My faves are: OMFG (oh my f*&ing god), LMAO (Laugh my ass off), TTYL (talk to you later), TDTM (talk dirty to me).

Here's the online dictionary for even more fun:

While the concept of texting is fairly new and used by the younger generation and not-so-much for the older folks (McCain doesn't know how to email or text, Obama loves his Blackberry), I believe it is an ancient practice. The Egyptians used symbols (hieroglyphics) with meanings more complex and expressed much more than just looking at the actual symbol. So I guess we are going back to what the ancients knew, K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid). No one has time these days for full sentences. Thus the beauty of Blogs, they are short, sweet synapses of life. My problem is that I can never keep my blogs down to 400 words or less. I am new at this so wait for it, wait for it, I'll be more brief one day.

Here's some quick shortcuts for the holidays that may come in handy:

Tday- Turkey day (thanksgiving)

NYE -new year's eve

XMAS- do i need to tell u what that means?

Here's a sample of a text to my fledgling-texter mom and a perfect example of the dangers with texting when someone doesn't understand texting abbreviations:

-----SMS Text-----From: Eric

K will b thr w diego

------SMS Text------From Mom

why aren't you picking me up at the airport? are you mad at me? who is K?

------ SMS Text -----From Eric
Sent: Oct 19, 2008 11:53 AM
Subject: Lmao!!!

Lmao!!! (That means laugh-my-ass-off) kay or K in text language means OK. I have to debrief u on text-speak Its fun and great when u dont feel like talking- And BTW is by the way. BTW- im creating my own blog today- im calling it ERIC IN MIAMI and it will deal with all things related to miami-


ur "wired" son

Monday, November 17, 2008

"GAY" is the new "BLACK"

While I am exhilarated by the election of our shiny, new president Obama, the first presidential candidate that has ever been vocal in his support for the gay community, on the flip side i've been brought down from my "high" at the realization that while we made one large step forward, some small religious extremist groups in this country have succeeded to yet again tarnish the American Dream for all in their efforts to create a faux, holy utopia without us "gays". That envisioned utopia used to be one without any blacks, latinos or anyone that wasn't purely American and white. Since these extremist groups realized long ago that goal was impossible, they have settled on an easier target for their holy war, "By golly. let's get them gays and fix this country."

These groups; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Catholic organizations such as the Knights of Columbus (, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Saint Andrews Alms fund, the National Organizaton for marriage, and the American Family Association, all non-profits and have all collected large sums of money from their followers to write discrimination into the books across our country.

Let's call a spade a spade, these folks are our Taliban or "Ameri-bans", governed by their fear of the modern world as the Taliban in the Middle East. It is their "Jihad" and their satisfaction will only come when they see no homosexuals in the public light by either curing them or pushing them so far into the closet that they are invisible again. The only thing is, who will be their next target for a holy war? Unwed mothers, single mothers, couples living together that don't want to marry? There will always be a target for them. Today the gays are the target who will they attack next?

Now what I find painfully ironic is the groups that have been mostly discriminated against in this country; latinos and blacks were the ones that poll numbers have shown, widely voted for these discriminatory measures which ultimately passed.
Gay is the new black! Although blacks and latinos don't like to call it discrimination, although it is wrapped up in a blanket of religion, it is still a pig in a blanket.
The late wife of Martin Luther King; Coretta Scott King said in a speech at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago in 1998, “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spreads all too easily to victimize the next minority group,” Mrs. King explained. We are currently in a civil rights movement in this country and it will only grow louder until we win our equality and legal protection. In the words of a gay protester in South Florida, "No more Mr. Nice Gay!".

Anti-LGBT marriage bans passed in Florida and Arizona, and in Arkansas voters voted to bar all unmarried people, LGBT or straight, from adopting children or serving as foster parents. California's proposition 8 passed as well, preventing any further marriages of same sex couples to take place, statewide.

But that's enough about "them" let's now focus on us, the positive, forward thinking, non fearful, challenge and adventure-loving Americans. What can we do to win this ideological war against hatred?

I'll take this opportunity to blog about a blogger;

It's about time that another individual rose from the ranks to lead my people (the gays) a la Harvey Milk, to a new level. This new leader is a blogger named Amy Balliett who happens to be a lesbian. She blogs to the world from Seattle and several weeks ago she wrote calling for a national day of protest against the passage of California’s anti-gay marriage Proposition 8. Her blog spread like a gay virus, soon after, more than one million people read the blog. One blog created history, on November 15th at exactly 1:30 p.m. EST, dozens of cities across this great country staged peaceful protests where thousands attended. Gays, straight allies, politicians, citizens of the US attended in solidarity. This was truly a grassroots campaign in every sense of the word. All started by the greatest invention ever created; the Internet and one person's vision. I've never been so proud to be gay and an IT Help Desk Manager at the same time.

The next big event that you can take part in is a Day Without a Gay on December 10th. The time has come to really show the nation who we are and how much we contribute to it's growth and add to it's society. I am, we are citizens of the USA who deserve equal protections under the law!

We have a lot of work to do, DOMA (Defense of Marriage act) exists in 37 states in the US and it must be overturned just as the laws preventing women from voting and interracial marriages have been overturned in this country. History is on our side, you cannot continue to repress such a large group of human beings and expect them to just go away. We just need to better organize, focus on what is most important right now, maintain positivity (which has always been easy for us) and finally to speak out to everyone we know. Affect all of your circles of influence, instigate conversations on the topic and read up on the topics so you know what you are talking about. We cannot allow these small extremist and soon to be dinosaur groups of Ameri-bans in this country to take us back to the dark ages. We will overcome this! We will KEEP ON RISING! (queue music now)

Gay is the New Black video documentary


Positive highlights of our recent advances and a message from Joe Solomnese, President of the HRC (Human Rights Campaign).

We increased the ranks of pro-equality lawmakers in both the House and the Senate. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO), ringleader of the campaign to write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution, was soundly defeated. Jared Polis (D-CO) became the first openly gay man ever to be elected to Congress as a non-incumbent. Democrats took the New York State Senate, giving us our best chance ever to pass a same-sex marriage law in a legislature. We won the right to marry in Conneticut and marriages there have already begun.

With Obama in office we can now pass critical LGBT equality measures like the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act and begin unraveling the damage of the last eight years.

Moving forward, HRC will:
Continue our efforts to win incremental victories for relationship recognition, so that legally married lesbian and gay couples in Massachusetts and Connecticut have full standing under federal law; the same holds true for civil unions and domestic partnerships in places like New Hampshire, Vermont and Oregon.

As Obama said last night, “That's the true genius of America – that America can change.”

Yesterday, an unfortunate majority of voters stood with the most extreme and negative elements of society to deny the rights of loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. But it’s not the first time that has happened to us, and it won’t be the last.

"It doesn’t change the fact that we are married. It doesn’t change the fact that we have families. Make no mistake. We are bowed, but not discouraged. We are sad, but not disheartened. We grieve, but not as those who are without hope. "

Joe Solmonese President

Here's a couple of easy ways you can help with a click: sign the Anger into Action Declaration here:
Over 200,000 people have already signed the pledge—and thousands more are signing every day. Even non-Californians are signing the pledge in solidarity. If you'd like to sign, click here:

After you've signed, be sure to share with your friends and family, post to your Facebook page, and get the word out.
Sign a petition to overturn ammendment 2 in Florida:

Keith Olbermann's passionate plea to the religious right in this country: