everything is never quite enough (mikeijames) wrote,
everything is never quite enough

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the ten day contract and a sporting finish in hawaii and illinois.

believe it or not, i started this post less than three weeks after my last entry thinking that i had such a spate of trips and work issues coming up that i'll not have a good chance to record it all. well. we see how that went. now, i have to somehow recount the forever-changing state of my life, the upended world of fashion, and the mind-blowing state of our body politic and the funny way that the concept of identity has touched them all -- not to mention the fleeting idea of sport -- in, i don't know, ten thousand words or less. since i last wrote, i have gone to new york city, then had a long weekend in orlando, had my friends pop down for our semi-annual get-together, then i went to atlanta for business and pleasure, and finally wound up in toronto to celebrate my new someone's birthday. and yes, i'm going to keep the appellation of "new someone" with my fingers crossed any my heart on guard because we remain in a state of the unknown which should surprise no one. in the world of fashion, i began wanting to write about how the pendulum of fashion had finally returned to my personal aesthetic -- and, thankfully, it has remained -- but now we've seen it begin to swing toward a sportier and more athletic bent that i both loathe and love with equal measures -- while i hate the idea of the secretary in sneakers with a passion just by rote, i must admit that between the haute couturiers chanel and dior sending their girls down the runway in running shoes and hyper-elite menswear houses tom ford and berluti following suit -- or should i say, with suits -- i found myself with too many things to buy. so, let's see if i can recap what i have to do as an outline: (1) the introduction of new york city to my sister, (2) the best of times and the worst of times in orlando, (3) the coming of age and the moment of truth in tampa, (4) the reckoning of my professional and personal lives in atlanta, (5) things coming to their natural conclusion for the first time with the new someone in toronto, (6) the political correction of race and sexuality in basketball, (7) how one nfl player kissing his significant other gets more press than another dragging his across ground, (8) and the list of things i absolutely need in my closet by the end of the year (though which year, i won't say).

first, as my sister has started to have monumental birthdays one year before i have my own by virtue of our nine year age difference, we agreed to pack up and head to a snowy new york city. we stayed with my good friend jen and, though she stayed in bed the entire trip, i got to show my sister my favorite city on the planet and for me to experience that city as a newcomer. one of the most frightening and aging aspects of the modern age has come in the notion of the "selfie" and the "pics or it didn't happen" mentality of the younger generation. it's quite frustrating for those of us who have lived full lives because we can't show pictures of the time we visited the twin towers or met maya angelou or partied in the hollywood hills because we didn't tote cameras around with us like that back then. sure, we had phones, but they didn't have cameras and you only brought cameras to those top tier events. and even when you did, one move or one job ending meant that you could leave the proof -- that is, the actual photographs or film -- behind and thereby find oneself subject to the doubt of people who think your stories just too good to be true. it makes one feel the need. well, it make me feel the need to recreate those times so that it's recorded for the modern age. so it means that a world trade picture now requires a world trade selfie. it means that a trip to chicago requires an actual picture with the bean or at the bar or on top of the now-called willis tower. it creates a need to re-visit old places like los angeles or puerto rico just to get those pictures again. one's word isn't enough. as a result, this trip to new york required thousands of pictures and in those pictures, the city unfolded itself to me in a new way and impacted me in a deeper way. on our first night, we headed down to chinatown and creeped through the cool haunts that dot that neighborhood including pulqueria and then headed up to soho and the east village to hit up old stand-bys like mister h, verlaine, beauty and essex, fat baby, and so many others that i would probably never go to alone but felt like i needed to show my sister because she had never been -- and because i had never taken pictures! the next day, we started the day at a typical new york city diner and then went siteseeing all day with the world trade and shopping in soho and then we came home and got ready for her big birthday night out. of course, i took her to my favorite haunt in the city, andre saraiva's "le bain" at the standard hotel which played host to the bcbg after-after party of sorts (did i mention it was new york fashion week? yeah....best friend gets married during fashion week two years ago, my sister has a birthday during it this year). it was a good night, but my sister had a fight about the perfect selfie. ironically. she still has not posted a picture from that night because she felt she didn't get a good picture although i took such good pictures of her in front of the empire state and times square and so many others. but that's neither here nor there. finally, we spent the next day playing tourist in the village and uptown by walking the length of central park and hearing the organ recital at st. thomas and going to rockefeller center and seeing the tiffany diamond (and me trying on a ring i think will represent my thirties) and then my sister seeing snow for the first time. the last day, we hung out around nyu and union square and spent hours wandering in strand books and the new york public library. we left that night and we both felt exhausted. around that time, i started my new job and became part of the respectable working world again.

because of the money i spent in new york, i had called off my birthday: as it tends to go, when i don't plan -- read, pay for -- my birthday well in advance, i tend to have to have a lackluster time. well, i just planned on being depressed and staying home, but in a surprising turn, my new someone really spawned some deep feelings because he paid for our little trip to orlando where we stayed in a penthouse suite at the new aloft hotel in orlando. while i won't count this as a major trip in my life, i will say that our little retreats to downtown orlando have represented some of the best times in our relationship. there's something about hotel sex and the weekenders feeling that we get being away from home that really makes me fall in love in a particular way even if it is a lie. there's a romance in the city lights and there's a sexiness in these hotel rooms, but it never seems to carry over no matter how much i want it. and, if i can stay in that moment, the hotel room does certainly help: while downtown orlando remains a work-in-progress and the aloft by-no-means answers everything wrong there (although ember's brunch helps and the glossy condo towers help) the glass showers and the floor to ceiling windows with the bed looking out "shame"-style (yes, the movie where michael fassbender fucked the girl for all of new york to see): it really answers everything that that sad sheraton didn't. and although we didn't see a show -- i refuse to count a drag show -- and did not major meals together -- i'm no longer counting brunch as a mean so much as an excuse to day drink -- it was one of the better birthdays of my life. it was the thirties equivalent of my twenty first where i got a cosmopolitan-soaked kiss from my crush as my birthday present although i'll claim to not remember it.

since i've been broke lately, and as a part of the resolution to have more "girls trip"-type of trips, my two best guy friends came on down to tampa and, in doing so, made a lie of every claim i've made about my hometown over the past fifteen years. we had so much going on that it felt like we were a bonafide city. we had lunch on the gulf after they arrived (brass monkey never disappoints) and we had drinks and dinner alfresco on a thursday at my favorite place, cassis. we spent friday on the beach and friday night meeting my dad for first friday (taste of wine, midtown, etc) and then getting liquored up at z grille before landing at the only bar in town. saturday we searched for a pool unsuccessfully before heading to tampa where we hung out in ybor day drinking before heading out for a four-hour long dinner and drinking session at anise that again made me wax sentimental with emotion as the new someone showed up as did my sister and an old friend of rob from back in the day and the music swelled with "music and wine" and the streets were full of life and i could have died right there and felt my life ended happily. on sunday, alex had to leave early after we got a quick bite at the oxford exchange, and then i got to spend the day with rob showing him in even greater depth the place i call home: much like the time spent with my sister, it made me appreciate things in a deeper way than i had before their arrival. we had one of those friendship moments we hadn't had in years, if we're honest, where we got to catch up on the core of our friendship. we need to have more of that because the distance doesn't work for either of us. after i dropped rob off at the airport -- after a day driving around pinellas point, going to the resort, then hanging out at my new someone's pool -- i felt genuinely blessed to have not only my friends but my life.

one of the fun aspects of my new working life besides having a paycheck to support my fancies comes in the introduction of the business trip. while i had to play a little good-old-fashioned office politics, i managed to finesse my way onto a trip to atlanta to visit our corporate parent. atlanta, much like washington, dc, a couple of years ago, has been on a short list of cities that i needed to make a return visit. while i have been there ad nauseum as a youth (and even once for spring break), i had not returned for many years and i always remember the city as being fun. well, the city has certainly remained fun, but it has blossomed into quite the fun little adult playground. because i have had such a negative financial outlook (despite my promotion), i hooked in my new someone to this trip so that it could substitute for one of our normal almost-local adventures to orlando or some such and maybe repair some of the disarray that our dalliance had become. conveniently, my company trip started on the day after cinco de mayo (a monday) so it made for the perfect excuse for a long weekend at the w midtown atlanta. while i'll admit that half the motivation to go to such a place remained to reclaim my familiarity with places seen on shows like real housewives of atlanta -- not to mention the prospect of seeing one of them -- the rest of it came as some oddly incorrect euphoric recall of the night i had with an old columbus friend of mine, chad, who, in retrospect, has laid all the groundwork for my issues with my new someone seriously. anyway. we arrived on an early saturday morning and checked in right away. and although we had our issues, we could not resist the trappings of a fantastic suite overlooking the park and soon found ourselves naked and rolling around. we then went to check out the neighborhood and grabbed brunch at tap, a cute place nearly across the street. we proceded to joe's on juniper to finish out the afternoon watching the kentucky derby and day drinking. that night, we headed out to stk and then bounced around between ten and blake's on the park. apparently, i got so drunk that i needed to be rescued from the street which did not please the new someone and who felt some type of way for most of the next day. we opened our sunday with a great mimosa fueled brunch from the flying biscuit and a lot more time in our wonderful bed sleeping off our hangover. that night, we ordered sushi into the room and ate while watching the real housewives of atlanta while being in atlanta. the next day, we hiked up to the perimeter to check into my job's hotel (a le meridien which was once upon a time the first w in the united states). ironically, once we got off the marta, we ran into one of my coworkers and i had a moment of truth as my new someone appeared as my truly significant other in front of my coworker. new territory for me. rather than play charades (as so many do when they sneak their wives into their company-paid hotel rooms) i invited my coworker to come shopping with us down in buckhead. of course, buckhead was exactly the same with the added touch that i had the ability this round to shop not just with my parents or with my friends but with someone who i would deign to call my own. although i finally tried it on in new york at the flagship, i made up my mind to purchase the tiffany black onyx signet ring for my ring finger -- yes, that ring finger -- as a sign of my thirties. the singleness of my thirties. the independent singleness of my thirties. that and the sales clerk that greeted me was cute and wore the same ring. that night, we went out again to midtown because of cinco de mayo, but we had a chill night comparitively by just enjoying the midsummer breeze on the deck at henry's. on tuesday, my new someone went to visit family friends while i had to actually work and then on wednesday, we had a disagreement because i made my new someone pretend not to know me at the airport. a sin i still have not receovered from.

to say that we have skated on thin ice since then would serve as the understatement of this post. by any other measure, we are finished. but for my earnest affection and the dream of a love we could one day recover, we have not had any real contact since we got back from toronto for my new someone's birthday. much like my own, it wasn't an entirely good idea for me to go at all. i mean, if i had my druthers, we would've gone to montreal as i have not been and that would've made sense, but because i had given up everything in the name of maintaining some sort of cold war peace, i said yes to a place i had been twice before. this year has been nothing if not a return to places i have loved in lives past: new york, as i have always, orlando, if one can even consider that "away," reminding me of the best of times with the new someone, atlanta, as i did in my childhood, and now toronto, which represented not only an apex of my friendship with rob and alex but also an apogee when i went there during my lonely thirtieth year: but this trip, i felt something change. it had the feeling of a last resort and a sad attempt all at the same time. the trip started poorly with us flying in early only to have a horrible commute to a horrible airport hotel that i might have enjoyed alone but not with my new someone. next, we traveled to the city center to the toronto i remember, but we stayed in grander style than either of my two trips with a boutique hotel down in the financial district overlooking the cn tower and the bevy of restaurants, bars, and shops that stretched from st. catherine's on one side to queen street west on the other. on our first official day, we started with a long wet lunch at earl king street followed by a brief tumble between the sheets in the proper hotel room and then we got ready for a night out in the village. we started at crews and tango and slowly worked our way up the strip until we got to maison which had a fantastic dj on the patio and small bites -- and large cocktails -- to launch us into a proper night of revelry. after dinner, we bounced around to woody's and other places, but closed the night at church on church after eight cocktails between us. on saturday, we spent the day hitting the shops on bloor street and after battling the rain, we tucked in for a sushi lunch in yorkville and caught the train back to the hotel to recuperate. that night, we had dinner at sassafraz -- finally! -- which was life-changing; i mean for the beef tartare alone. we called in an early night that night where we both drunk ourselves into passing out -- with a little sex in between -- with the bottle of vodka we brought back to the room. on sunday, we had brunch at smith on church and ten attended the youth festival near eaton square mall -- ironic since just a year ago, we were at world youth day in brazil -- and then, again, back to the room momentarily before heading back out later to drink until it got dark at woody's and making friends with the local drag queen and the bar staff. it was one of those moments that i've envied my friend rob for in columbus, where they're just that lowkey couple with their lowkey bar....together. that night, perhaps buoyed by the mountains of vodka, or due to that feeling of togetherness, or of a beautiful day or maybe just that last good burger from a joint called "the works", i came for the first time with my new someone. for me, it represented the turning of a page, but perhaps, for my new someone, it represented the closing of a chapter. our last full day in toronto, we did the touristy thing and scaled the cn tower and had an early dinner at momofuku's toronto outpost. we ended the night at a comedy show at second city and then strolling the streets at night marveling at that thing that cities like that have where hotels -- like the st. germain -- look perfect in the night light and the tower is lit just outside the corner of your eye and revelers from the baseball game dance in between the horns of taxicabs and the waterfall in front of some glassy skyscraper on the edge of sleep. i haven't spoken to my new someone since.

it's with perfect irony that i find myself cast like a discarded necklace into the deep as couples like mine and relationships like mine find themselves reaching new heights of acceptance. while years ago, i found myself appalled at the notion that "crash" could beat out "brokeback mountain" for the best picture oscar, i must say that current events have shown that race has a much rougher road to hoe than issues like marriage equality do. while i must say that jason collins represented a proud moment -- and a moment of reckoning for myself as jason collins, robbie rogers, and tom daley, all athletes, all have creatives as significant others: like, maybe i need to find myself an athlete; since when have athletes become so en vogue in all things?! -- it struck me as even more momentous as it became an after thought as the world got embroiled in the donald sterling fiasco that saw that the ugly racist attitudes of the past are just as present as they have always been even though they no longer wear white hoods.

in recent days, this juxtaposition has become even more apparent as the hullabaloo about michael sam's potential placement on the roster of the st. louis rams and the post-draft kiss that sent the sportscenter masses into a frenzy have gotten wholly overshadowed by the protests and riots that have subsummed the city after an unarmed eighteen year old black man got gunned down by a white police officer. and while issues of race touch even the controversial rise of michael sam -- as his boyfriend is white -- it's clear that gay men and women have taken more strides toward equality than the average african-american man has in recent years. and while i believe that much of the homophobia of past years has moved from outward expression to whispered conversation, it's interesting to note how marriage equality -- and its movement from a state-by-state legislative battle to one getting waged in the courts post-windsor -- has made it so that gay men and women have become palatable parts in even the most unassailable enclaves like athletics.

other points of interest over the past few months: i have a friend at work who might replace my old high school friend and has already replaced me as that guy at the bar who's still quite new and who has sway with the fairer skinned patrons of choice. i had a good pride and fourth of july. my sister's most significant other has moved to columbus, ohio, in an ironic turn of events. i haven't really talked to my friends in months. i've got a new therapist. i'm drowning financially after a tire blow out and other financial malfeasance of late. my company took us to a baseball game. and i probably need to start grad school soon before my life spins completely out of control. and speaking of out of control, i need my tiffany ring, my balmain boots, probably a couple of bracelets, a tiger print burberry duffle from last fall, and a dollop of black-on-black before i get to paris for new years eve. at this point, alone.

Mexico City Considers Temporary Marriage Licenses

By Christina Ng @ChristinaNg27

Sep 30, 2011 10:56am

‘Til death do us part … for two years? Mexico City lawmakers are proposing legislation that would allow newlyweds to apply for temporary marriage licenses, instead of making the plunge into wedded life a lifetime commitment.

The legislation’s proponents argue that the hassle of divorce could be avoided by making these licenses an option, according to Reuters. The change to civil code was proposed this week and would allow couples to decide the length of the commitment, with two years as the minimum.

If couples are still enjoying wedded bliss when the contract ends, then they would be able to renew the license. And if they’re unhappy, the contract expires and they are both free without going through a divorce.
“The proposal is, when the two-year period is up, if the relationship is not stable or harmonious, the contract simply ends,” Leonoel Luna, the Mexico City assemblyman who co-authored the bill, told Reuters. “You wouldn’t have to go through the torturous process of divorce.”

The legislation has proved to be controversial in Mexico, the country with the second largest Catholic population in world, after Brazil.

“The reform is absurd. It contradicts the nature of marriage,” Hugo Valdemar, spokesman for the Mexican archdiocese, told Reuters. “It’s another one of these electoral theatrics the assembly tends to do that are irresponsible and immoral.”

A vote is expected on the proposed legislation by the end of the year.


By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED: 10:02 a.m. HST, Nov 12, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 01:17 a.m. HST, Nov 13, 2013

Senate voted 19-4 to pass SB1 into law, legalizing same sex marriage. Gov. Neil Abercrombie will sign the bill today.

The state Senate, as expected, overwhelmingly approved a marriage equity bill today, sending the measure to Gov. Neil Abercrombie who has vowed to sign it and make Hawaii the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

An invitation-only bill-signing ceremony is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Hawaii Convention Center's Liliu Theater. The event will be streamed live at http://governor.hawaii.com and broadcast on 'Olelo's channel 55.

Today's 19-4 vote, while historic, was a somewhat anti-climatic end to the legislative special session that began Oct. 28 and included more than 55 hours of public testimony, followed by two day-long sessions in the House where lawmakers approved the bill late Friday night in a 30-19 vote.

"I look forward to signing this significant piece of legislation, which provides marriage equity and fully recognizes and protects religious freedoms," Abercrombie said in a statement after the Senate vote.

Click here for today's vote breakdown, which is on Derrick DePledge's Political Radar blog.
President Barack Obama issued a statement soon after the vote, saying, "I want to congratulate the Hawaii State Legislature on passing legislation in support of marriage equality."

"I've always been proud to have been born in Hawaii, and today's vote makes me even prouder. And Michelle and I extend our best wishes to all those in Hawaii whose families will now be given the security and respect they deserve," he said.

More than half the state Senate lawmakers spoke in support of the bill today, with many urging the public to come together to heal divisions within the community.

"This is nothing more than the expansion of aloha in Hawaii," said Sen. J. Kalani English, a Democrat from Maui.

Sen. Sam Slom, the chamber's only Republican, said the government should stay out of legislating marriage. "People have differences, and you can't legislate morality. You can try, but you can't do it," he said.

Once the bill is signed into law, gay couples could get married in Hawaii as soon as Dec. 2. Clergy would have the right to refuse to perform gay weddings. Churches and other religious organizations would be able to decline to provide goods, services and facilities for gay weddings and celebrations if it violates their religious beliefs.

Two senators -- Donovan Dela Cruz and Brian T. Taniguchi -- were excused from today's vote. The four no votes were Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, Sens. Mike Gabbard, Ronald Kouchi, and Slom.

Senators took up the bill a second time because of changes made in the House, where the bill was amended and passed after a five-day public hearing and two lengthy floor sessions. An earlier version of the bill passed the Senate 20-4 with one lawmaker excused.

The vote today brings a legislative end to a decades-long journey for proponents and opponents of giving gay couples the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples. The state Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that denying same-sex couples marriage licenses was a violation of equal protection under the state Constitution. The court's ruling influenced Congress to approve the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which restricted marriage to heterosexual couples, and prompted Hawaii voters in 1998 to approve a constitutional amendment that gave the state Legislature the power to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the federal Defense of Marriage Act was an unconstitutional violation of due process and equal protection, allowing same-sex couples who are legally married to receive federal benefits. The court left it up to the states to decide whether to legalize gay marriage. Abercrombie responded to the court's ruling by calling the Legislature into special session.

While the legislative action on the bill ends, opponents vow to continue the fight in court. On Thursday, Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto declined to issue a restraining order sought by state Rep. Bob McDermott to halt action on the special session's same-sex marriage legislation. But the judge said once the law is adopted, he'll consider its constitutionality.

McDermott (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point) sent Abercrombie a letter on Friday stating that he would seek a temporary restraining order in Circuit Court to prevent the state from issuing marriage licences to gay couples.

McDermott contends that the 1998 constitutional amendment that gave the Legislature the power to define marriage as between heterosexual couples trumps any statutory change to the law. He insists that another vote by the people is necessary to redefine marriage.

Sakamoto on Thursday raised questions about how voters who ratified the 1998 amendment knew that it authorized the Legislature to later approve same-sex marriages.

In his statement today, Abercrombie said, "I believe this bill provides equal rights for all people, is legally sound, and is in accord with the Hawaii State Constitution."

Once Abercrombie signs the bill Wednesday, Hawaii will be the 15th state plus the District of Columbia to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. The Illinois legislature passed a similar measure last week, but Gov. Pat Quinn said he would sign a the bill into law at a ceremony in Chicago on Nov. 20.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Quinn signs Illinois gay marriage bill
November 20, 2013|By Monique Garcia | Clout Street

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn gets ready to sign the law that makes Illinois the 16th state to legalize gay marriage, at UIC Forum in Chicago.

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday put his signature on a historic measure making Illinois the 16th state to allow same-sex marriage, capping a 40-year push for gay rights that picked up major momentum during the past decade.

Playing master of ceremonies during an hourlong event, the re-election-seeking Democratic governor slowly signed the bill with 100 pens that quickly became souvenirs. He did so at a desk shipped from Springfield that the administration said President Abraham Lincoln used to write his first inaugural address in 1861 — a speech on the cusp of the Civil War that called on Americans to heed "the better angels of our nature."

But it was another Lincoln speech that Quinn referenced as he spoke to about 2,300 supporters gathered at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"In the very beginning of the Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln of Illinois said that our nation was conceived in liberty. And he said it's dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, and that's really what we're celebrating today," he said. "It's a triumph of democracy."

Signs were banned for security reasons, but attendees shared celebratory kisses and waved miniature rainbow flags featuring the outline of Illinois.

Among the first in the door were Jan Arnold and Mary Anderson, of Oak Park, who brought their 8-year-old son to witness the bill-signing. The couple have been together for 15 years but said they got tired of waiting on Illinois to pass gay marriage and were legally married in Iowa in 2011.

Their union now will be recognized in Illinois, which Anderson said will free her family from second-class status and means they no longer have to carry a "dossier" of legal paperwork to prove their relationship should an emergency occur.

"We're finally safe and protected in our home state," Anderson said. "We'll have the same protections that our straight friends do."

The bill-signing illustrated the rapidly changing views in Illinois and the nation on gay rights. Supporters first introduced an anti-discrimination bill in the legislature in 1974. It didn't became law until 2005. It took an additional six years for civil unions to be approved, but only about half that time for the gay marriage measure.

Still, support for same-sex marriage is far from universal in Illinois. As politicians talked up the merits of gay marriage in Chicago, down in Springfield, a crowd gathered for an exorcism by the local Catholic bishop in protest of the governor's action.

"It is not the church that must change to confirm its teachings to the views of the world, but it is each individual who is called to be configured to Christ," Bishop Thomas Paprocki said during a service delivered mostly in Latin.

The new law changes the definition of marriage in Illinois from an act between a man and a woman to one between two people. Civil unions could be converted to marriages within a year of the law going on the books. About 6,500 applications for civil unions have been filed since 2011, with about 4,000 originating in Cook County.

As it stands, the bill won't take effect until June 1, which is when the first marriage ceremonies could take place. That date falls on a Sunday, but officials with Cook County Clerk David Orr's office said they will be ready for what they expect to be a huge demand. That includes the possibility of providing special waivers so couples don't have to wait until the day after receiving wedding licenses before they can be married.

The start date could be moved up under a measure backed by Sen. Don Harmon, a Democrat from Oak Park. If that bill is passed, gay marriage would go into effect immediately upon Quinn's signature. The measure could be called for a vote when lawmakers return to Springfield in the new year, though they face a light legislative schedule before the March 18 primary election.

Harmon said he's weighing whether it's fair to ask his colleagues to take another tough vote so soon after voting for gay marriage, acknowledging that a later effective date was the trade-off for passing the proposal this fall because a delay in implementation meant just 60 House votes were needed to pass the bill instead of 71.

But Harmon pointed to some gay advocates who died waiting for the right to marry, saying some people who want to take advantage of the new law might not be around in seven months. "I'd just hate to leave people poised on the precipice of equality be told they can't commit — yet," Harmon said.

The lag time did little to dampen spirits Wednesday, as supporters noted just how far Illinois has come in supporting gay rights in a relatively short time.

Casey Cameron, 38, who traveled from St. Elmo in southern Illinois, noted that just eight years ago gay people in Illinois were fighting for basic rights such as equal housing and employment opportunities. "It took a long time and a very tall mountain to get to that, and to finally see this is quite an amazing bit of accomplishment for the state," Cameron said.

The celebratory tone was a marked departure from late May, when the legislation stalled in the House after first passing the Senate on Valentine's Day. Supporters funneled their disappointment into action, launching a summerlong lobbying blitz that was soon buoyed by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman for the purpose of receiving federal benefits.

That helped sway about a dozen lawmakers who spent much of the summer undecided. Another nudge came from powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan, who personally lobbied some members to vote for the bill. Madigan, who represents a Southwest Side district, also is chairman of the state Democratic Party. That means he controls the purse strings to large chests of campaign money that could be vital should one of his members face a primary challenge over their decision to vote in favor of gay marriage.

On Wednesday, Madigan gave much of the credit to sponsoring Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Greg Harris, both Chicago Democrats, who at one point faced protests from some gay rights advocates unhappy with the way Madigan was handling the bill. With Quinn's signature, Harris was able to shrug off much of those criticisms.

"We're here to celebrate family, commitment, equality, love, courage and community," Harris said, before taking a dig at conservative opposition. "Marriage is a family value."

Still, Harris and others noted that the bill would not have passed without the votes of three Republicans who broke ranks: Reps. Ed Sullivan of Mundelein, Ron Sandack of Downers Grove and Tom Cross of Oswego.

"It takes both parties to make something happen, and when we work together, look what we can do," said Republican Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. "I am available to be a flower girl, and I'll even waive the fee."

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle offered Topinka "kudos" before taking aim at the four Republican governor hopefuls.

"I'd like to point out that none, none of the Republican candidates for governor have been willing to stand up on this issue," she said.

Although the law would not force religious organizations to perform or host same-sex weddings, some faith groups contend it doesn't offer enough protections. They argue, for example, that they may be forced to provide health insurance to an employee's same-sex spouse.

Further, they contend it offers little in the way of protections for wedding photographers, bakers or other service providers who could face legal action for refusing to work for gay couples. Supporters argue that the benefits of the law outweigh those concerns.

Seth Hannan, 20, of Tremont in central Illinois, said the measure would give hope to gay teenagers facing adversity.

"I grew up in a very small, conservative school district. I was the first out kid in my school district, and I was teased a lot for who I was," Hannan said. "(This) normalizes it, it makes it more of an accepted thing and that will filter into the rest of society, so in 10 years that boy who was like me in high school won't have an issue."

Tribune reporter Ray Long contributed from Springfield.

mcgarcia@tribune.com Twitter @moniquegarcia


Christian Dior Spring 2014 Couture
JANUARY 20, 2014
By Tim Blanks

Raf Simons has always been mesmerized by closed, secret worlds. At his own label, it was the youth tribes who coalesce around certain types of music. Since he started designing womenswear, other doors have opened for him. The beauty parlor/spa scenario of his Spring 2012 collection for Jil Sander was the most obvious expression of his wonderment at the world of women and the closed societies they create for themselves. Then came the job at Dior, and, with it, the opportunity to truly decipher the codes of haute couture and its sorority of female artisans: These are clothes that women make, by hand, for other women.

Simons is like a kid in a candy store with couture. Its combination of technique and psychology could have been tailor-made to satisfy his obsessions. So the first thing that struck one about today's show was the lightness, not only in the openness and airiness of the clothes themselves, but also in an attitude that reflected the designer's oft-stated desire to modernize couture. And if that boiled down to something as straightforward as pairing a couture dress with flower-strewn trainers (Simons painted a picture of a woman leaving the red carpet, plucking her shoes out of her bag, and spending the rest of the night in a club), then so be it. "Dior loved movement in his clothes," said Simons, "and I was wondering what would have happened if he'd been in business twenty or thirty years longer, when the sixties happened, when there was a literal movement in society." Wonder no more…the collection that Simons showed today had the free spirit that you imagined he imagined Dior would have brought to couture.

The key to the code was the cutwork. Outfit after outfit was slashed or winkled open to form a lattice that veiled the female form below. Then there were actual overlays, and veils of sheer silk covering polka-dot sheaths. Everything shook or shimmied: "It's not about stillness, not about the couture pose," said Simons. It was also quite sexual, as concealment infused with the peekaboo promise of revelation often is. The sole jewelry was a tiny chain that wrapped the neck and the fingers in a tiny bow. It was another way for Simons to communicate the charged intimacy of couture.

The show was a celebration of the hand—with the clothes, obviously, but also with a set that had been laboriously hand-plastered in swooping curves and columns, a bit like Bedrock carved out of lard. The result was an all-white, womblike space, inspired by the work of Valentine Schlegel, a little-known ceramist from the fifties who graduated to making "architectural suggestions" with biomorphic plaster jobs. To Simons, the interior represented "a radical, female gesture." That choice of words alone in the context of couture underscores how this man is the standard-bearer of a transformative sensibility.

And the fact that he is able to imbue his mission with the sweetness and light we saw in today’s presentation makes it that more remarkable. For all the lip service that designers pay women, Simons is one who is truly dedicated to respect and celebration. A jacquard top (intended to convey the ease of a T-shirt) featured a graphic that wasn't quite clear from the audience. "It's a woman, on top of the world," the designer explained.


Chanel Spring 2014 Couture
JANUARY 21, 2014
By Tim Blanks

The set of a Chanel show is the gold standard of fashion excess: icebergs, forests, the world after the world has ended…nothing is too much for Karl Lagerfeld. The set for today's couture presentation gave nothing away—an enormous glistening white tube loomed center stage, so blank that its only possible promise was revolution. And revolve it duly did. When it revolved, it revealed shaggy French pop star Sébastien Tellier, his orchestra, and two giant sweeping staircases fresh out of an Art Deco fantasia from the Hollywood thirties. No, Lagerfeld corrected, "It's an ice palace, a nightclub on another planet."

He knew those stairs, the kind of stairs down which vedettes would make a grand entrance, posing every step of the way. Couture stairs. So he had his models sprint down them, as light as fairies, skipping and spinning. It was an adorably spritely fuck you to any notion of heritage. And yet Lagerfeld also strapped his fey young things into corsets with stays, the very thing that Coco herself cast off in the name of modernity nearly a century ago. He compared them to motocross belts. "This is ballroom-cross," he joked. Laughter aside, the supreme irony of corseting a Chanel woman was surely not lost on smart cookie Karl.

Anyway, the corseted midriff was the core over which he laid a bolero (or crop top) and a short skirt for the collection's defining look. It was energetic, athletic…and it was really the only thing that could successfully match the footwear. Every outfit featured a couture sneaker by Massaro: python, with lace, pearls, and tweed. (If you're curious about the cost of such an item, the price tag will probably be something in the vicinity of €3,000.)

In the spirit of sportiness, there were also knee and elbow pads, and there was athletic-wear transfigured: A crystallized blouson was one of the prettiest pieces in the collection. In fact, the luminescence of the trim, lively clothing seemed doubly noteworthy, given that yesterday's Dior Couture show was also about light and movement. The two most significant fashion houses in France just made a major commitment to a new generation…to the future, in fact.


High fashion sneakers? Chanel, Dior send couture kicks down Paris runway

Chanel's models wore custom running shoes with each outfit, while Dior's Haute Couture Fashion Week collection included three pairs of sporty and sparkly slip-ons. Will upscale tennis shoes replace high heels as the favorite footwear?


Published: Friday, January 24, 2014, 8:19 PM
Updated: Friday, January 24, 2014, 8:19 PM

Karl Lagerfeld paired all of the looks from Chanel's Spring-Summer 2014 Haute Couture fashion collection with matching sneakers.

Karl Lagerfeld paired all of the looks from Chanel's Spring-Summer 2014 Haute Couture fashion collection with matching sneakers.

The models who showed off Chanel’s latest couture collection in Paris Tuesday had an extra spring in their step.

Why? They were all wearing sneakers instead of stilettos.

Karl Lagerfeld, the French fashion house’s outspoken, sunglass-wearing creative director, decided to pair each of his looks with matching, upscale running shoes.

Even Cara Delevingne, who closed the show as ‘the bride,’ was wearing sneakers. Here she is with designer Karl Lagerfeld and his godson Hudson Kroenig.

“In the history of fashion, around 1800 to 1840 or 1845, women had flat shoes. Even with a ball gown, they had flat shoes," Lagerfeld said in a video interview posted on Chanel’s website.
The sneakers gave the show a youthful and athletic feel. The models, some of whom were wearing corsets, skipped down the stairs to the runway. The sophisticated sportswear spirit was furthered by accessories like knee and elbow pads.

Comfy couture: The models wore sneakers during Chanel’s Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2014 collection show in Paris.

Chanel’s custom kicks were made by atelier Massaro, and it reportedly took at least 30 hours to complete each pair.

But Chanel wasn’t the only design house to embrace sporty chic footwear. Dior’s runway show on Monday included a few pairs of bedazzled slip-on sneaker-like shoes. These looked more like aqua socks, but they still seemed like a more comfortable alternative to high heels.

The models skipped down the steps and onto the runway in their trainers

Fashion fans rejoiced when they saw that these high-end brands were showing comfy couture footwear. Does this mean the days of suffering for the sake of high fashion are over?

Maybe. Chanel’s luxe sneakers will be available for purchase — but only if you buy the whole couture look, the company told Fashionista.

‘In the history of fashion, around 1800 to 1840 or 1845, women had flat shoes. Even with a ball gown, they had flat shoes,’ Karl Lagerfeld said.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/fashion/chanel-dior-send-couture-sneakers-runway-article-1.1590800#ixzz39f9MB7ia


Jason Collins to sign second 10-day contract with Nets
Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports 5:41 p.m. EST March 3, 2014

Brooklyn Nets plan to sign Jason Collins to second 10-day contract, USA TODAY Sports has learned
Nets then will decide if first openly gay player in NBA history warrants keeping for rest of season
35-year-old defensive-minded center has four points, four rebounds, three steals in 34 minutes

The Brooklyn Nets are expected to give center Jason Collins a second 10-day contract Wednesday, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA Today sports.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been finalized. When Collins signed the first 10-day contract, which is set to expire on Tuesday, he became the first openly gay athlete in the four major North American professional sports leagues. Because teams can only sign players to two 10-day deals in the same season, the Nets will have to either sign Collins for the rest of this season at the conclusion of this 10-day agreement or part ways with him.

Collins has played 34 minutes in four games with the Nets, totaling four points, four rebounds, three steals and 10 fouls.

The 35-year-old, who is in his 12th season, came out as gay in a Sports Illustrated article in April but was not signed by a team entering training camp or in the many months that followed. In joining the Nets, he became part of a group that knew him very well as a person and a player.

Collins spent his first six-plus seasons with the New Jersey Nets, and was teammates with Nets coach Jason Kidd. Yahoo Sports first reported the Nets' plans to give Collins a second 10-day deal.


ON JUNE 02, 2014 AT 7:05 AM
Fashionably Late: Tom Ford Enters the Sneaker Game

What finally persuaded Tom Ford, the Sultan of Swank himself, to join every other designer selling sneaks? Men started spending Fordian levels of cash on them, and he found a way to raise the high-end even higher. "I swore I would never make a sneaker until I found a way to make one that stayed true to the quality that people expect from our products," T.F. tells us. Each pair of Air Ford-ans requires more than a week to construct. The leather is taken from the most prized layer of the hide, and is hand-tanned to feel super supple. "It's the exact same process we use with our dress shoes," Ford says. Now it's only a matter of time until you're mowing the grass in your wingtips and saving your "dress" sneakers for special occasions.

High-tops, $990, and low-tops, $790, by Tom Ford. Available at tomford.com

PHOTOS: Tom Ford Gives Five Regular Londoners the A-List Treatment in GQ's Project Upgrade: Tom Ford Edition.

Berluti Spring 2015 Menswear

JUNE 27, 2014
By Tim Blanks

École des Mines is an engineering school in Paris, with a garden that is incongruously beautiful in light of the fact that teachers and students are more interested in what is going on under the surface. But the garden, a relatively secret space, was exactly the sort of place Alessandro Sartori was seeking to present his first runway show for Berluti. You could find a metaphor in there somewhere. Berluti's end product is the tip of an iceberg of incredible imagination and artisanship. For his new offering, the designer extended the brand's reach into the realm of the familiar—sportswear, rather than the elevated stratum of bespoke menswear. He claimed that was a response to a number of customers who are perfectly happy to have Berluti make everything for them: jeans, bomber jackets, cabans. The ateliers were ready. Ninety percent of the new collection is handmade.

This might have been the Berluti collection where Sartori's own instincts truly asserted themselves. In his previous gig at Z Zegna, his experimental bent gave the label its character. Here, the creative impetus was origami. No cutting, just folding and pleating for pockets, collars, and lapels. It's difficult to convey the effect in words, but it was definitely 3-D, even more so when seams were hand-painted to give a patina of age. It was a novel notion in fashion, with its fresh-flesh fixation. Your Berluti will grow old alongside you.

And on the evidence of this collection, it certainly seemed resilient enough to do so. Leather jackets of a supernal softness rolled effortlessly into a small ball. A silk and linen coat, with an enzyme glaze printed like leather, did the same. And using that treatment inside any garment meant that Berluti could get rid of canvas interlinings, so everything was light. Then there were the colors—rich natural tones, from sand and pond green to coral and purple. A suit of linen and paper was radiant in a shade called sunflower.

Berluti is still insinuating itself into the men's luxury market. If you were looking for one item to define its capabilities, it might be the Playtime, the trainer the label launches this season. It is cut from one piece of leather, shaped by the artisans who have made Berluti shoes for decades. The feat is technical, and the feel is physical enough to clarify exactly why you would want trainers made for your foot—and your foot alone.


Why Michael Sam and Jason Collins matter

By Jeffrey Morton  @jmorton78 on Aug 4 2014, 6:00a 1087 - USA TODAY Sports

In an age where people shrug and say "It's no big deal, just keep it to yourself" I'm here to explain why sexuality matters ... and how sports can overcome homophobia.

It was one of those late night TNT games during the forgettable 2013-14 Nuggets season that I finally understood what "being yourself" meant.

The Brooklyn Nets were in town, and the Nuggets were about to lose by a ridiculous amount (scoring eight points in the first quarter ... ugh) but none of that seemed to matter. As I sat in the press lounge at Pepsi Center before the game, I was ... nervous. This was in large part, if not entirely because I wanted to see, and talk, to Jason Collins ... the end-of-bench player for the Nets who had signed multiple 10-day contracts and was recently brought in for the rest of the season. He is gay, and this was huge.

Collins mattered to me because as someone who is himself homosexual it was just really cool to see. History in the making and it was coupled with (for my part) an enormous sense of pride. As I tried to get closer in the pre-game media scrum, I was thwarted by an enormous throng of reporters and cameras ... as well as the Nets, umm, interesting PR team. One individual resembled Harvey Kietel in Pulp Fiction ... actually acted like him too. All I could muster was some very poorly taken photos of Collins from the back. I didn't get my chance to talk to him then

I did later though.


There's something to be said about taking control of your own life. Owning your own narrative. Dictating terms of your personhood and not letting anyone tell you to shut up. When Missouri Tigers All American and SEC Player of the Year Michael Sam came out of the closet shortly after the college season ended (he had come out to his teammates the year before) he gained control of his life in a very public way. In many ways, the subsequent fallout from NFL types (Peter King's anonymous sources, and Tony Dungy's odd comments about "Distractions") has been about exerting that measure of "control" the NFL values so much back on to Michael Sam.

Make no mistake, becoming the first openly gay athlete to be drafted into a professional sports league is a monumental step in society. More than that though, Sam announcing his sexuality will go a very long way toward it NOT being a big deal in the future and the most important step was taking control of his sexuality before the NFL could "manage" it. We saw the overreaction in the Peter King anonymous scouts article, diminishing Sam's draft stock within a night of his announcement. The control elements within the NFL are so great, that if Sam came out while he was in the league, I wonder what those forces would do to crush it. Sam owning his sexuality pre-draft stripped that ability from those elements.

When I made the decision to come out many years ago, it was a part of what I would like to call a journey to self-acceptance. Too many times we are told to be something we aren't, simply for the comfort of others. Not enough is done to change the mind of those who are uncomfortable.

Much of the reaction from those who'd rather not deal with the fact of homosexuality is "Who cares? Just keep it to yourself" or some variation therein. This is a narrative that is based in the fundamental misunderstanding of the importance of coming out of the closet in sports. It defies a very nasty stereotype that has been culturally ingrained into most societies worldwide. That gay men aren't tough enough, and that the implication that you are gay means something less than manly (to put it kindly). For some reason people can't put the image of sports, toughness, competition and the lot ... and match that image with the stereotypical view of homosexuality. It's unfair. I've fought that stereotype for most of my adult life.

Michael Sam shattered that stereotype (earning Co Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC a year after he came out to his college teammates) and I'm relatively certain that has contributed to the weird reaction he has received both inside and outside the NFL. The reactions of the likes of Dungy, and others are the result of retreating back to your comfort zone. Stay quiet and keep the status quo. Don't draw attention to yourself, otherwise you'll make me uncomfortable. The "team" won't like it. They sit in the comfort of their stereotypes because the realization that you can be gay and "tough" and compete at a high level doesn't compute. Using buzzwords like "distractions" under the guise of protecting the team ... when in reality they are protecting themselves.

In reality what Sam is doing is extremely brave in a sports culture that has a very, very long way to go. People look at the likes of Johnny Weir and point out his flamboyance, but forget (or don't acknowledge) that his training regimen is right up there with the best pro-athletes in any sport, let alone figure skating. If you follow him on Instagram ...amidst the fashion, the dogs and outre behavior, you will see someone who trains HARD and likely has the best core in professional sports. Don't let your preconceived notion of humanity interfere with one hell of an athlete.

Coming out of the closet is essential. It speaks to the very real fact that homosexuals have competed in all sports throughout it's history. Coming out means that you have to accept its reality, and can't conveniently lock it away and pretend that it's not there. This is the only way everyone will be accepted for who they are, rather than box them in to a place where you can label them per your own comfort or interpretation of religion.

I've faced this in a miniscule level compared to the likes of Sam. I can't help but look on at him in admiration for taking control of his own life before others took control of him. Regardless of how he turns out as a pro in the NFL, he took THAT leap. That ... well, it's incredible to me. I wish him the best of luck, and no doubt at all it will be an uphill battle for him ... but in the end, the likes of Tony Dungy can't overcome the likes of Michael Sam.


After the Nuggets were annihilated at Pepsi Center that cold February night, we in the media schlepped out and wrapped up as we usually do. We made our way to a rather somber Nuggets locker room, spoke to the players who would have rather been anywhere but there, and then began the journey out. Games become routine in the NBA, and at the end of February ... you can't get any more routine than this.

Jason Collins did end up playing and it wasn't exactly an inspiring performance in garbage in on his part. However, he did his job and I couldn't care less if he was good or bad. It was a great moment regardless ...

I stopped in at the Pepsi Center lounge and grabbed the first quarter stats as a souvenir, because hey ... you only see a team score 8 points in the first quarter every so often. As I sauntered across the media lounge to get a drink of water before I left, I noticed Jason Collins come in on his way to enter one of the adjoining media rooms. He was apparently speaking with Matthew Shepherd's parents ... in what was a very nice gesture for all. He was surrounded by a couple of the Nets PR contingent. Realizing it was my last chance to speak with him, I said "Hey Jason!" He looked over. I smiled, nodded, and managed to say "Thank you" right as we walked in. He nodded appreciation and went on his way...

That was a cool moment for me. How long before those cool moments become the norm? With pioneers like Jason Collins and Michael Sam, we are one step closer to that point. It won't matter anymore, not because people want you to be quiet, but because you are accepted.


Ten Days Leave (W. D. Snodgrass)

He steps down from the dark train, blinking; stares
At trees like miracles. He will play games
With boys or sit up all night touching chairs.
Talking with friends, he can recall their names.

Noon burns against his eyelids, but he lies
Hunched in his blankets; he is half awake
But still lacks nerve to open up his eyes;
Supposing it were just his old mistake?

But no; it seems just like it seemed. His folks
Pursue their lives like toy trains on a track.
He can forsee each of his father’s jokes
Like words in some old movie that’s come back.

He is like days when you’ve gone some place new
To deal with certain strangers, though you never
Escape the sense in everything you do,
“We’ve done this all once. Have I been here, ever?”

But no; he thinks it must recall some old film, lit
By lives you want to touch; as if he’d slept
And must have dreamed this setting, peopled it,
And wakened out of it. But someone’s kept

His dream asleep here like a small homestead
Preserved long past its time and memory
Of some great man who lived here and is dead.
They have restored his landscape faithfully:

The hills, the little houses, the costumes:
How real it seems! But he comes, wide awake,
A tourist whispering through the priceless rooms
Who must not touch things or his hand might break

Their sleep and black them out. He wonders when
He’ll grow into sleep so sound again.

Tags: decadence, domestic, just me, marriage, new someone, new york, nightlife, sister, the office, travels, verse
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