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In an era of manufactured bimbos, reality TV stars and prepubescent Canadians with lesbian hairdos, Amy Winehouse was the real deal. While the plastics paraded around in their sequence and stilettos, Winehouse flicked her cigarette at a bottle of gin and said, “Fuck it.”

Undeniably talented, she had more musicality than Britney’s muffin top, more bravado than Christina’s fake eyelashes and more artistry than Justin’s bangs.

I remember when she first burst onto the scene. As a lover of jazz, I was happy to see a young performer breathe some new life into those classic tunes, especially some of the more obscure ones.

Back then, I saw some of her earlier performances on youtube. She just stood there on stage, smiled and then effortlessly belted out a tune like it was no big deal, as if she were doing some silly card trick she learned as a child. Made me wonder if she realized the enormity of her talent. “Who IS that girl?” I thought.

Later, when she dipped into booze, bad boys and drugs, I quietly rooted her on. I was happy that there was someone real out there, someone unwilling to settle for the mundane. Winehouse was willing to embrace her demons, nurture them. I envied her fearlessness, her ability to explore that self-destructive side we mostly choose to deny.

On the day she died, I held up my glass of wine at dinner and said, “To Amy Winehouse.”

My partner thought it was an odd way to celebrate her, but I told him I thought it was perfect. I tried to explain why but failed miserably. I said that I know we’ll marry one day but that part of me (a small part) hates the idea of marriage because it’s so traditional. Ever since I was a kid, I questioned everything. I saw the hypocrisy in my Episcopalian elementary school, the discord in my parents’ marriage, the phoniness of my neighbors, and I thought, “Why? Why is this normal and acceptable?”

I wanted something real, something on the edge, something different from the norm. And after a spectacular start, somewhere along the way, I retreated. Now, scared of cable cars, clowns and the dark, I shop for produce, arrange the flowers, cook dinner and wait for my man to get home. I live life safely, securely, far away from deep water and my own balcony. But not Amy. Fearless in her disregard of societal norms, she straightened her beehive, took a swig from her flask and flicked her cigarette.

Earlier this week, Wendi Murdoch went from slouching, leg-crossing, miss-matched yawner to kung fu, kick ass, take charge master.

“Hands off my meal ticket, asshole!!!”

You’ve got to hand it to Wendi. Putting up with Rupert can’t be easy. I have a hard time just watching Murdoch on TV. His jowls, those wrinkles and that evil Donald Duck as Mr. Scrooge impersonation. Poor Wendi has to see him naked!

Of course, I use the word “poor” loosely. Given that Rupert resembles a Shar Pei, I guess it’s only fitting that Wendi love him. Like Wendi, those dogs come from China. But what exactly does Wendi love about Scrooge McDuck?

It’s easy to call Wendi a gold digger, a trollop, a tramp. I mean, she paid back the couple that first sponsored her visa to America by breaking up their marriage and then marrying the husband. Later, when she saw that there were other, bigger, wealthier fish in the sea, she put herself back on the market like a good Capitalist and traded up. She’s no dummy.

I remember reading in Vanity Fair a while back about Wendi getting Rupert to include her children with him as heirs to the News Corp fortune. This after Rupert agreed with his ex-wife that in lieu of an ugly and costly divorce, he just split the empire between the three children that they had together and the other child from a previous marriage. Rupert has been married three times. What a dog! I mean Shar Pei.

Wendi is a Chinese immigrant with a green card and a Birkin. Rupert is a naturalized American citizen from Australia with an empire and an attitude. Theirs was a love story that could only happen in America. One where merciless, immoral media moguls marry social-climbing home wreckers.

Still, it can’t be easy for Wendi. I imagine Rupert’s bald head tastes like a peanut. Can you imagine what the rest of him must taste like? Wendi just pretends she’s sucking on a log roll, one that will soon die and leave her with two young heirs, four bumbling adult step-children and one aging ex-wife.

Wendi, your limo is waiting.

My partner and I celebrated our 8th anniversary Cebu this year. We were supposed to go back to Bali but waited too long to book the tickets and couldn’t get any round trip business class tickets on Cathay Pacific. OK, I waited too long. Me. And I waited too long on purpose.

You see, spending our 7th in Bali was so magical, so fantastic, so incredibly amazing that I was afraid to go back. I’m a firm believer that if you ever try to recreate an experience, you’ll fall flat on your ass trying. Why cheapen the initial memory?

If you don’t believe me, rent Ground Hog Day and see how you can end up in hell, or at least purgatory, trying to recreate any experience. Besides, we’ve been in Asia for nearly seven years now. There are still many places we have yet to visit. I figured, why not knock The Philippines off our list?

I had no problem cashing in miles for our tickets and on the exact dates I wanted too. Of course, this was alarming. If it’s too easy…

I also booked an ocean view room with club access at the “best” resort in town, The Shangri-La Hotel. Basically, I went all out for every bell and whistle I could find. It was our anniversary after all (and yes, I’d find another excuse to do the same even if it weren’t our anniversary).

Did I listen to our friends who had stayed there when they said that the hotel was in need of a renovation? No. Did I read up on the fact that this is a child friendly resort? No. Did I bother to stress about the fact that I might have made a terrible mistake in booking this resort. Yes. Every night and every day.

It got to the point where if my partner said, “I think you put too much garlic in the guacamole.”

I’d say, “It’s because you don’t want to go to Cebu, right? You think it’s a bad idea. You’re going to blame me for not being in Bali. You’ve heard what our friends with kids say about it and now you don’t want to go. Right!? Right!!?? Admit it.”

The day before our trip, I stepped up to the plate and let the shit fall where it may. You can’t cry over spilled milk. We booked the damn flight and now there was no getting around that.

As in Bali, when we arrived in Cebu, we were greeted by a man from the hotel at the airport. Unlike Bali, this man wasn’t interested in making us feel warm and fuzzy inside. Unlike Bali we were not greeted with an ice cold peppermint towel, bottled water, fresh juice and a box of truffles. No. We were greeted with a smile (sneer?) and told to get in the back. The towels were lukewarm and the bottled water hot from sitting in the sun.

As soon as we entered the resort compound, we knew, each of us, quietly and with a stiff upper lip (at least for me) that this was not going to be the St. Regis Bali. Incidentally, if you are ever going to Bali for vacation, do yourself a favor and book an Ocean View Room or a Villa at the St. Regis Bali. You’ll thank me later.

We were greeted in the shabby Club Room Lobby Lounge by some headish honcho and several of his minion. I was all smiles and exuberance. I could teach women on how to fake an orgasm, I’m so good at being unfailingly joyful, at least at the start. Again, like a woman.

Our “Ocean View” room was ocean view if you were Plastic Man or had a trick neck and so I kindly requested what we paid for and was told that we could not have it until the next day. Now normally, I would find this unacceptable. You see, after being unfailingly polite and joyful, it is my hope that I’ll get what was promised. When this does not happen, well, I’m not so polite or joyful. But this was our anniversary and I had gone out on a limb to book Cebu and the Shangri-Nah Hotel.

Let me say right now that this experience in Cebu has colored my impression of the Shangri-La Hotel brand. The Island Shangri-La Hotel here in Hong Kong is (was) my watering hole of sorts. I’d sit at the bar and the host or bartender would say, “Grey Goose martini straight up with a twist?” I’d smile and say yes. We have friends who swear by this hotel brand. But now? Now, I’ve started to frequent the Blue Bar at the Four Seasons. Do they have a live jazz band? No. Will I likely go back to the Shangri-Nah hotel for live jazz? Depends on the singer. And there are plenty of nice hotels with live music. It’s too bad that said live music is often hit or miss.

But I digress.

The best thing about the hotel was the beach. The beach and the spa. The food sucked. The pool was overrun with rug rats. The bathroom was mildewy. The balcony furnished by Wal-Mart interiors, but the beach, the beach.

I guess you can’t go wrong with the beach in Cebu. Weak current, clear water, live coral, colorful fish and white sandy beaches. In Bali, the current was strong, the water not as clear, and sadly, often polluted with trash (it’s not in any of the brochures).

The spa was an oasis of kid unfriendly calm in a resort otherwise teaming with expat children and the people responsible for them. The men’s water garden was set amid lush trees, tropical flowers and soothing fountains. My man and I were the only ones there at the time. He was using the indoor facilities so I was able to spend the first fifteen or so minutes by myself, naked with the water jets, the blue skies above me. It was the happiest moment of my trip. I started humming my favorite Jobim bossa nova songs. Hell, I was singing them.

Was it a bad trip? No. Was it a good one? No. Was it a memorable one? Yes. On the one stormy day, I saw the royal wedding live on CNN. And the day we left, President Obama came on the television to say that we had killed Osama Bin Laden. Now, I don’t follow the royals but the weather was crap outside and before I knew it, I was caught up in the whole enchilada. Incidentally, Kate’s brother is a total Mary. As soon as he got up to speak, I thought, “Yeah, Baby!”

On the plane back to Hong Kong, everyone in business class had been staying at the Shangri-Nah Hotel and everyone ignored each other. It’s oddly comforting to know that no matter how far you go in life, no matter where you are, or where you are from, everyone is still a small-minded, middle-school child. Well, at least it confirms my cynical view of humanity. Be kind, be courteous and always insist on what you want. Life is too short to do otherwise.

In light of recent events, I’ve started to question my no kids policy. Sandy Bullock looks so joyful on the cover of People Magazine. Very Roots that photo. And Angelina Jolie is one smart cookie. If Brad left her now, he’d be the biggest asshole on the planet. That poo poo platter of kids she’s got has bought her some insurance, a Don’t You Dare Leave My Tattooed Ass policy.

With all the horrific tragedies–earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, floods, Sarah Palin–it’s easy to come to the conclusion that now is not the time to be procreating. But as I’m gay and partnered, it would be impossible for me to have a child the old fashioned way. And since there are literally millions of unwanted African babies from Malawi to Madagascar, I might as well pick one out before black babies go out of fashion.

You might think that as a Latino, I would prefer a Guatemalan or Bolivian baby. But you’d be wrong. My partner is white and he often says that one brown person in the family is enough. Bastard. I haven’t thrown a dish in months!!! And I swear, those bodies will never be found.

A white kid is out of the question. There aren’t as many of those and they’re so unfashionable, the Wall-Mart of adoptable babies.

As we live in Hong Kong, an Asian baby would be too obvious. Besides, I wouldn’t want anyone on the sidewalk mistaking me for a male nanny, especially if I had to beat the kid with my shoe. I’d be arrested.

No, only a black baby would do.

We’d be the Benetton ad of adoption: A gay Latino and white couple living in China with a black baby. Hell, Oprah probably has my number on speed dial and is just waiting for me to choose a child.

Oprah: How hard was it for you to make the decision to adopt an blind, armless, autistic Ethiopian girl?

Me: Oh well, Oprah, you know, I have a lot of love to give. I’m a lucky man in a loving relationship with a great guy. It was the easiest decision I’ve ever made.

I bask in the glory of my own saint-like selflessness as the audiences rises to its feet and applauds. Oprah wipes a tear from her cheek and pats my shoulder.

Your turn, Madonna.

I told everyone years ago that Senorita Ricky Martin would come out of the closet when he was a has-been, a footnote, a Trivial Pursuit question. We’d all respond with shrugs, smirks and rolled-eyes.

“Ay Dios. So Papi like salami. Que sorpresa.”

He could have done this at the height of his fame, just after his last big hit, “She Bangs”. I mean, who didn’t think it was going to go downhill after that rancid turd hit the airwaves. It should have been called, “He sucks.” Which let me tell you, is truer now more than ever.

And what’s up with that “fortunate homosexual” statement? What the fuck is that supposed to mean?

“I jus a’want to say, to all my fans, all five of jew, dat I am a fabulo–I mean a’fortunate homosexual. I still e’look good and I have dees two a’lily white shildren. Yes, es un milagro.”

What’s he want to be with those J-Crew Catalog kids anyway? The new Michael Jackson?

I hope he doesn’t think the “gay community” is going to throw its arms around his sorry ass. That would be a miracle.

Let’s hope Anderson Cooper and Gerard Butler are taking notes. Come out on top boys. Not at the bottom–unless the bottom is where you like to be.

According to most recent reports, 26 people have been implicated in the death of Mahmoud al Mabhouh, a senior leader of the Palestinian group Hamas. The assassins carried passports from all over the world, arrived by boat and plane and left as quickly as they came, but not before leaving one terrorist dead in his hotel room. Imagine the poor chamber maid’s horror, “Excuse me Sir, would you like turn down servi-AHHHHH!!!”

Everyone knows Mossad is behind the killing, but Israel remains tight-lipped. You know, that whole can’t confirm or deny thing. And who can blame them? It’s worked in the past. Hell, it even worked for Putin. Remember that guy he had poisoned in London? The British were up in arms but Putin just said, “Who? Me? Him? Nahhhh.”

I’m just surprised Mossad handled the assassination so sloppily. They’re supposed to be the experts at this sort of thing. And Jesus, exactly how many Jews does it take to kill a terrorist? So inefficient.

We Mexicans would have got the job done with a much smaller hit squad, albeit with heavy collateral damage. Four guys in a truck with automatic weapons drive up to his house. Boom! Even the dog is dead.

Of course later it would be, “What? What do you mean the wrong house, Ese? The neighbors? Shit, you told me the directions. Orale buey, and I just opened a can of beer? Now we have to go back.”

Thank God we get The Joy Behar Show in Hong Kong. Thank God the show is aired at a time I’m free to watch. And thank God, he cured Ted Haggard of his homosexuality. The thought of Haggard grimacing with his big hippo mouth as he’s plowed from behind is enough to make even me turn straight.

I’m glad Joy has people like the Haggards on her show. It’s too easy and unfair to dismiss people like them as stupid, pathetic and hypocritical. I actually found myself liking Gayle Haggard when she first appeared on Joy’s show a couple of weeks ago.

Do I agree that her husband was cured of his homosexuality? Of course not. Do I think she’s dilusional? You bet. Do I think she’s pathetic? Surprisingly no. Gayle is a sympathetic character and not so obviously brain-dead like Sarah Palin. She’s a woman in love with her gay husband. That’s not pathetic. That’s sad.

For his part, Ted Haggard did the best he could under the circumstances. He must have known that Joy didn’t give two Elisabitch Hasselsnatches about his advice to Tiger Woods. She was more interested in discussing his own transgressions. But he, like his wife, is dilusional.

I honestly think the two of them really believe what they say: that you can be cured of homosexuality, that it’s a product of sexual molestation as a child, that you can choose to align your sexual orientation with your spiritual values. Now, THAT, that’s just stupid.

When I first started teaching fifteen years ago, kids didn’t label something dumb as gay, or call someone annoying a retard. Back then, they said fag or faggot.

An idealistic newbie from a liberal university at the height of the politically correct movement, I forbade the use of either slur outside my classroom, in the hallway, gymnasium or wherever I happened to be on school grounds. I told my kids that I equated both slurs with the N-word or the S-word (spic). Most of my kids were brown like me, so they got it. They respected me for it. No one should be put down for who they are.

In 2010, most students understand that using the word fag or faggot to make fun of someone is not cool. You only make yourself look bad.

When I left New York for Asia six years ago, the words “retard” and “gay” were becoming popular among students. There were a few incoming freshman at the university I worked at that would use these terms. I’d always tell them the same thing.

“I have a retarded brother.”

“Sorry.” They’d say.

“My sister is gay.”

“I didn’t mean it like that.” They’d say.

I’d then tell them that I didn’t have a mentally disabled brother, but what if I did?

I’d tell them that my sister wasn’t gay, but that I was.

In ten or fifteen years, I don’t think we’ll hear the words gay or retard thrown around as much. Thank God. Making fun of someone because they were born black, brown, gay or with Down Syndrome is low and inappropriate.

Making fun of someone for something that can be helped, like being an ignorant, incurious embarrassment ala Sarah Palin is fine–so long as the jokes don’t pertain to her being a woman. She was born that way. I refuse to believe she was born a dumbass.

Tiger Woods could, would and did. Not once, not twice, but several times and with numerous ladies.

Now, I’m not a Tiger Woods fan for the same reason I’m not an Andy Roddick fan. Someone that intense and serious just has to be a prick in real life. And from what I’ve heard and read, Tiger is an enormous penis. Hard to talk to, difficult to read, tough to get to, he’s an intensely private man. Unless, that is, you’re a classic bimbo.

Rachel Uchitel and the other mistresses are classic bimbos in the Hollywood sense. They’re tall, long-haired, collagen-injected walking sticks. They look fake, are fake and act fake.

Last week, my Spanish conversation teacher asked me if I thought the rumors about Tiger Woods were true. I said yes. People tend to have a type. Michael Jackson preferred Latino boys, Jennifer Aniston prefers emotionally unavailable men and Tiger Woods likes “blond” bimbos. I guess that’s OK because Tiger isn’t really “black.” Remember that awful answer he gave Oprah when she asked him how he thought of himself? You ask me that question and I’ll tell you, “Brown, pink and green, Baby!”

But I digress.

This morning after my Spanish lesson, my teacher again brought up the subject of Tiger Woods. I said, “You see! I told you he did it.”

She replied that she thought Tiger might have a sickness. “He’s married, jew no, to hees wife, and zey have two daughters. Ten women in two jeers. Dats like some sickness, no?”

I smiled, sipped my cappuccino and recalled my college years. If Tiger had a sickness, then I needed to be put down back then.

Tiger is just another asshole sports god who likes to get laid. Where’s the news in that?

Carly Simon is broke. Yes, broke. After losing money in unwise investments (Madoff?), and taking on too much debt, the Simon and Schuster heiress finds herself in the poor house–two of them. One a West Village townhouse, the other a beach pad on Cape Cod. We should all be that destitute.

I remember, years ago, the first time I moved to New York, when the then mayor was cracking down on rent-controlled and rent-stabilized abusers. Mia Farrow and Carly Simon cried foul from their below-market price apartments with fabulous views of the park and hardwood floors.

“We can’t afford to live in New York now!!!” They wailed.

“Really?” I thought in the cramped living room of my illegal sublet. True, it was in Tribeca, but I had to run past the doorman on my way through the lobby. Bitchy queen loved to give me hell. Thankfully, he was Puerto Rican, so I’d just throw him something shiny or point out a studly black man and make a break for the elevators while his attention was diverted.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a big Carly Simon fan (Mia Farrow too–go rent Alice and see why). I have many of her hits and misses on my iPod. Nobody Does it Better is arguably the best Bond song ever. Really sums it up. You’re So Vain? Great song and I’m pretty sure it’s about Warren Beatty. My personal favorite is Loving You is the Right Thing to Do. Such a happy 70s love ballad.

And while I’d love to have a Simon sighting while walking down Christopher Street, I’m not very sympathetic to her plight. She says Starbucks didn’t promote her album enough. I got news for her. Everyone just listens to whatever CD they’re hawking while sipping their lattes. The don’t buy.

Poor Ms. Simon says Daddy only gave her a mere pittance, $60,000 in fact, and that she wasn’t an heiress like so many people claim.

$60,000 may be a mere pittance when you’re an heiress, but if you’re black or brown and in living in some man-made hell-hole, $60,000 is a lot of dough.

Carly should just ask her ex-husband, James Taylor, for the money she needs to help keep her afloat. Maybe she’s too vain? But if she hasn’t got time for the pain, I’m sure Mr. Taylor will lend a helping hand.