Weekly Toon …

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I’m considering posting my favorite cartoon of the week on Sundays. Hopefully no one will get their panties all in a bunch about this because I’ll always give credit to the author. In any event, this is a good one to launch the feature with. I hope you enjoy it.

And don’t forget to visit Tom Toles’ column at the Washington Post. He’s definitely an interesting person, and very talented and insightful as well.

Happy Valentine’s Day …

Happy Valentine's Day

Just wanted to share some holiday greetings with you and to let everyone know I’m still alive. Be sure to be sweet to your sweetie today and to show him or her some love.

Stumped for ideas how to do so?

You have your traditional ones, of course, flowers, sweets, and chocolate. They’re always appreciated. But doing something original like writing a poem or a love note would be welcome as well I’m sure.

If you live in a colder clime, your sweetie’s buns are probably freezing right about now so feel free to help warm them up. I’ll leave the details to you. However you do it, put some passion in it.

Don’t have a sweetie to be sweet to? Then feel free to be sweet to me.

You could whisper sweet nothings to me in an e-mail; enclose a (mildly) naughty picture of yourself or someone you think would be the perfect valentine for me; or even just tell me what’s happening with you these days.

I like hearing from people.

As for me, I’ve been very busy. There’s no end to things to protest with Trump in the White House. The twit loves to tweet, but those tweets have been cruel and vicious at times.

In any event, I may still have a surprise or two in store for you in the next month so be sure to keep your eye on this site if I do.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Welcome …

Another one of my fans who loves wallowing in the muck :-)

Welcome to the Café Palermo. This is one of two connected web sites I created back in 2011 when I first started posting stories online. Just so you know, my stories feature characters who are young, gay, and sexually active. If you’re not into those kinds of characters or stories, consider yourself warned and feel free to leave.

You can learn more about this site and the Café Palermo Annex, a different but connected site, by checking out the About page from the menu above. The main difference between the two sites is that this one is devoted primarily to blogging, including on topics unrelated to my stories, whereas The Annex is where I actually post my stories for people to read.

In many ways The Annex has become the primary site these days because I no longer have time to blog as much as I used to. That’s my way of encouraging you to take a look around there as well. The easiest way to do that is by clicking on the Stories link in the menu above, but keep in mind you’ll be leaving this site if you do.

You can also access any of my stories from that link as well. But you’re probably better off doing that from The Annex rather than here because the menu over there provides access to the individual chapters in a particular story, not just to the story introductions I’ve linked to above.

I still post chapter announcements on both sites and may have something to say here occasionally that I don’t post at the Annex, usually something I think members of the LGBTQ community should be aware of or perhaps some commentary on American politics and the clowns like Donald Trump who run this country.

If you’re not into political rants or stuff like that, you may be happier wallowing around in the muck over at The Annex like that cute boy above 🙂

Have a question that needs answering? Want to share a comment or opinion about this site or something else? You can e-mail me directly by clicking that button to your right or fill out the Contact form in the menu above. The Contact form also provides an option to be notified whenever I start posting a new story online or even to receive a free hug if you need one 🙂

Finally, if you’re young, gay or questioning and need help, please check out the resources to your right and on my Links page from the menu above. If neither provide the help you’re looking for, feel free to email me and we can talk about whatever is on your mind.

Farewell …

Relaxing will be fun ...

Letting go of something you love can be as hard as letting go of someone you love. In our just completed story, Jimmy told Jeff he needed to let go of him because he was dying. Although Jeff resisted, he had little choice in the end. I have more choice, but I’ve decided to stop writing and posting new stories online for the foreseeable future.

There are a lot of personal reasons for this. It’s not that I don’t like writing anymore. I still do. But I’m tired for one thing. Writing stories is harder than it may seem at first glance; and then editing and posting a new chapter online every week is harder still.

I’m also pretty much out of ideas at the moment. Actually, I did have one idea for a story and I had even written a few chapters. I was excited about that because it gave me a chance to explore writing a story in a different way than you’re used to seeing from me.

Sadly, the election of Donald Trump pretty much killed the idea I had. Absent new ideas (and you’re welcome to share any you have), there’s not very much a writer can do.

It’s also hard writing for such a small audience. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the encouragement and support you’ve provided me over the years. I have the best audience any writer could ask for. It’s just kind of tiny and I have no way of expanding it having been blackballed by those who run some of the larger gay story sites on the web.

I’ve also come to believe that using my spare time to write stories is selfish at a time when we are about to swear in a narcissist, bigot and serial liar as President. Think I exaggerate? Here are the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder listed by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association.

  • Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance

  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it

  • Exaggerating your achievements and talents

  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate

  • Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people

  • Requiring constant admiration

  • Having a sense of entitlement

  • Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations

  • Taking advantage of others to get what you want

  • Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others

  • Being envious of others and believing others envy you

  • Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

Does that sound like anyone you know? As for the rest of it, if you don’t recognize by now that Trump is a bigot and serial liar, you never will. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is. All you have to do is read the news every day and you’ll be reminded of that over and over.

It isn’t a crime to be a narcissist, of course. The Constitution doesn’t prohibit one from serving as President. It also doesn’t prohibit a serial liar or a bigot from being President. The Founding Fathers counted on the good judgment of the electors to weed out people like that.

Sadly, 2016 was an epic fail.

I believe Trump and the Republicans are going to do some terrible things in the next four years and need to be fought.

I don’t entertain any illusions they can be stopped by citizen action. Too many people don’t give a damn for one thing. Like Trump, we have become a country where it’s all about me. We don’t feel connected to our fellow citizens. Being selfish is in, empathy with the less fortunate out.

At least that’s the way I see it; and because I see it that way, I think any spare time I have should be focused on doing whatever I can to fight what’s about to happen. We won’t win, but the least we can do is try.

In about a week or so I’ll be putting up a post welcoming people to this site. You can ignore that. I’m not expecting a lot of visitors, but I do want whoever wanders into this site to feel welcome even after I’ve stopped posting here. The stories will remain available to read.

No one can predict the future. If I do get the urge to write, I may try to rewrite some of my stories to make them more acceptable to a mainstream audience and then possibly try publishing them as e-books at a place like Amazon. Or I may not. I’ll let you know with a post if I do.

Thank you for reading my stories and for being supportive over the years. Many of you seem like old friends and all of you are appreciated. But, like they say, all good things must come to an end.

Farewell for now.

Epilogue …

Thank you Ryan ...

Last week’s chapter brought us face to face with the reality of AIDS at the end of 1982. Like today, there was no cure. Unlike today, there wasn’t even a treatment regimen. Indeed, even the cause of the disease, what we now call HIV, was unknown. Nor was there a test to determine whether you were infected.

The only certainty about AIDS at the end of 1982 was death.

In retrospect, I probably should have ended the story last week. I won’t discourage you if, upon reading these words, you decide to skip this week’s chapter, which is narrated by Tommy and takes the form of an epilogue. Try as hard as I could, and I tried very hard, I had difficulty making the chapter work.

It was certainly well intended. I didn’t want to leave you as readers on such a bleak note. I wanted the ending to convey at least some sense of hope. But I probably tried to accomplish too much in this epilogue and may have ended up not accomplishing anything much at all.

But you’re probably the better judge of that so read on at The Annex if you choose and let me know what you think. Be honest!

I decided to post two images tonight, one at the top and another at the bottom of this post. The sizing and locations were deliberate.

At the top is an image of Ryan White. Ryan wasn’t gay although he was taunted for being so by some of his peers and their parents. And yet even though Ryan wasn’t gay, he probably did more than anyone else to change how Americans reacted to AIDS. Unlike Tommy’s story about Jimmy, which is fictional, Ryan’s story was real.

Ryan was the innocent victim of AIDS that the media was looking for; the young boy who acquired the disease as a result of a blood transfusion he needed and could thus be sold as a genuine hero to the American people. He was sweet and pure and innocent unlike all those guilty victims of the disease, the ones who probably deserved what they got in the minds of many.

That wasn’t the way Ryan looked at it, of course, but it would take a while before Americans finally realized innocence and guilt are inappropriate ways of looking at such a horrific disease; that Christians who believed AIDS was God’s punishment for sin weren’t really Christians at all, just hateful bigots.

For all of that, Ryan White was a genuine hero who made an extraordinary difference in his brief life. In our story Jeff believed that the only way of opening the hearts and minds of the American people was by humanizing the disease; and that’s precisely what Ryan did when his story finally captured the imagination of the nation back in the mid-eighties and beyond.

It would have been better if it happened earlier because Ryan was truly a transformational figure, one who will be long remembered. But like they say, it is what it is.

Thank you, Ryan.

There were other heroes, of course, two of whom are shown below. You’ll learn more about the two Bobbies, however briefly, in tonight’s chapter (or by following this link, which I encourage you to do). They deserve your thanks as well, especially since, like so many who died of AIDS, they’re largely forgotten these days.

As many of you know, I’ve berated myself quite a bit about this story. Not because the topic was unimportant or the message I wanted to deliver unclear in my head. I just feel the delivery was very uneven. So let me share a few parting words.

If you go back to that public service announcement which I used as an introduction to the story, you’ll see a good example of the message being sent to American boys in the 1960s and 1970s. Boys needed to beware of homosexuals because, uniformly, they were pedophiles and mentally ill. Indeed, some homosexuals were so depraved they would kill you to satisfy their lust.

It may be easy to dismiss this today, but it was an all too common message at the time and it had real effects for many boys who were subjected to similar messages in their schools, churches, and homes – a message endlessly reinforced by families and friends. The one thing you definitely didn’t want to be if you were a boy was a homo!

Is it any wonder a boy who was homosexual himself would be filled with fear and self-loathing when exposed to such messages; that he might try very hard to suppress who he really was or to find some way of reconciling what he wanted with his own interpretation of himself?

The question this story was designed to raise is what might have happened if Jimmy had grown up in a more loving atmosphere, one where love in all its many variations was respected and honored? I’ll let you judge for yourselves, but I believe many boys like Jimmy would still be alive today.

In any event, I plan to put up a final post next Wednesday before taking my leave, but don’t feel compelled to read it. When you strip it down to its basics, all it says is that I don’t have any plans to write any more stories as I feel there are more important things I need to do with my time.

The two Bobbies ... Bobbi Campbell and his "friend" (as Newsweek called him) Bobby Hilliard

Chapter 32 …

Follow the light they say ...

Last week took us from October into December and close to the Christmas holidays. Some positive things happened along the way.

After a long discussion in which Mark shared his fears with Jeff about the possibility of infecting Leo with AIDS, they finally agreed this was something he needed to discuss with Leo so that the two of them could decide together what they wanted to do.

By now it was apparent Mark and Leo genuinely loved one another and one thing they decided to do was to affirm their love in a commitment ceremony, something new and unusual for Jeff. But he seemed to warm to the idea after his discussion with Mark because soon enough he and Jimmy followed suit in a more private and low-keyed fashion.

By the end of October Tommy had finished his interviews with Jimmy and Jeff, but continued to spend time with the two of them as the end of the year approached. At one point Jimmy mentioned he thought Tommy was gay and liked Jeff. But Jeff resisted the notion even after Jimmy told him he needed to let go of their relationship at some point.

Letting go of someone you love is never easy. It only made Jeff more determined to secure funding for AIDS in the continuing resolution Congress needed to pass in the wake of the 1982 mid-term elections. Those elections had ended in a split verdict that left the Democrats in control of the House and the Republicans in charge of the Senate.

Having prepared his boss for his meeting with the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Jamie Wheeler, before the two chambers formally worked out their differences, Jeff waited anxiously for the outcome of that meeting. In the end, his hope of securing funding for AIDS was dashed because, without money in either bill for AIDS activities, there was no issue to conference

But Congressman Wheeler seemed sympathetic to the case Jeff’s boss had made for such funding, even going so far as to his give his word he would put something in the first supplemental appropriations bill the following year. For Jeff it was a bittersweet promise because by now he realized time was quickly running out for Jimmy.

That brings us to this evening’s chapter, which I’ve now posted at The Annex and which takes place as Christmas Day approaches. It was a difficult chapter to write so it may be a difficult read as well. And yet the truth is that reality was far more difficult than tonight’s chapter portrays for many AIDS patients.

Too many died alone, unattended, and in conditions that can only be described as beyond belief. Tonight’s chapter doesn’t capture that reality and I apologize for that.

But tonight’s chapter is difficult enough; and what makes it even more difficult is that it’s based on a true life experience so I hope you’ll pay it the respect due to the real life Jimmy who died of AIDS many years ago.

The image? One can only hope it’s as easy as following the lights.

Site Update and Advisory …

Was I annoyed?  Just a little :-)

This post is here because I was having problems getting the Firefox web browser to render the Gallery at The Annex correctly after updating it.

What made it especially frustrating is that the Gallery here was rendering correctly after the update and that both galleries also rendered correctly in several other browsers I use to test the sites, including Internet Explorer, Iron (a Chrome variant), and Palemoon.

After spending far too many hours of my life trying to diagnose the problem, I finally found a setting in WordPress that seems to resolve it. You should be able to click on one of the images in the Galleries and then be taken to a page where you can add a comment or view the image full-size.

I continue to have other problems designing these sites with Firefox, but those do not affect you as directly as readers. They have more to do with my ability to upload images from within Firefox to the sites and then to insert them into web pages.

For now the bottom line is simply that I have updated both the Café and the Annex. However, if you are using Firefox and something doesn’t seem to work correctly on the sites, I would appreciate hearing from you.

One of my failings as a human being is I tend to be a perfectionist. Humor me for another couple of weeks before I move on to bigger and better things as the Donald would have us do 🙂