Bottomed Out.

“If you’re going to be in my apartment, there won’t be any screaming like a girl.” This statement by my roommate to his best guy friend who screamed in the key of Mariah Carey sharp was admittedly funny — fucking hilarious — but also a cause for reflection. In elementary school, perhaps 4th grade, my music teacher — the chillest closet pothead mom ever — once overheard another student picking on a boy with a soprano voice. Before putting the hater in time out, she said, “He doesn’t sing like a girl — he sings like a child.” I always remembered that. At present, if a girl screamed in our apartment, is she then banished? What’s wrong with a man screaming like a girl? Why does the tone of ones voice, or their bone structure, the clothes they wear, their sexual activities, etc. all need to be thrown into a binary of this/that — his/hers — male/female? AND, on what basis can one group validate their reason to demean the other?

In recent months, Caitlyn Jenner, Kitana Kiki Rodriguez of the film Tangerine (the sexual contents of which Neflix describes as “strong and disturbing”), Jaden Smith’s womenswear campaign for Louis Vuitton, and the documented, heart-breaking murders of India Clarke, Zella Ziona, Elisha Walker, and the 18 other transgender women in 2015 have brought the concept of gender fluidity to the masses. There was a time, not long ago, when I would try to categorize a beautiful woman with broad shoulders walking toward me on the street. If a straight man seemed to know a little too much about Sex and the City, I’d exhaust myself trying to pull him out of the closet in which I locked him. Categorization is a natural process of the human psyche. It allows us to understand the role something or someone plays in our environment to therefore feel comfortable in that environment. Contrarily, categorization also causes emotional and physical anxiety, hatred toward an entity which differs from us, violence, and death when it is used selfishly. Determining whether or not someone is queer or transgender in an attempt to understand their life experiences is much different than asking, “what are you?” in order to put someone in a transgender, effeminate, sinful, unfuckable box.

While attending a friend’s recent get-together to watch the VMAs, a bowl set atop his coffee table became very popular amongst the group (of all gay men). It contained a handful of rubbery, slip-on fingers with bright red-painted nails that you win in an arcade. As they slipped the prizes on their fingers, their reactions were expected: daintily touching their pursed lips, dramatic batting of eyelashes, and the signature exclamation, “Oooh, girl!” I couldn’t help but overthink their reactions. In the past, a number of these men playing dress-up expressed the type of man they prefer (either as a long-term or 4am partner): “muscular and masculine.” As a man whose nails are always painted and whose closet is 90% fem, imagine my disdain at the thought of people I love deeming me sexually unattractive while fostering mockery of what they believe it means to be a man with painted nails.

A few months prior, I found myself inebriated in my bed with someone for whom I once had really strong feelings. As we made out — passionately and less sloppily than expected — he began positioning my body to fuck me. Having topped exclusively since 2008 (I tried bottoming a few times in high school and HATED it), my defense mechanism kicked in: “I’m not a bottom…I haven’t tried in a really long time.” We instantly stopped kissing…his reaction was as if I took my nails and clawed his dick off in one slashing motion. He says, “…what? I can’t believe you’re saying this now. You come off as sexually fluid! Like, one of the reasons I’m attracted to you is how you carry yourself…why would you tell me that?” Long story short, he and I only speak to each other on Grindr at 4am to flirt and pretend one is going to Uber to the other. Despite his complete misunderstanding of who I am, as well as his inability to communicate or accept a man who looks like a bottom but isn’t a bottom, I don’t hate him. That awkward instance was the first time someone expressed what I know a lot of gay men feel towards someone who looks like me.

Any time I reference Alfred Kinsey’s revolutionary Heterosexual-Homosexual rating scale, people drone on and on about how simple-minded and dated it is. “Sexuality is actually on a spectrum…” they say. While I agree that sexuality today is influenced by many factors once unheard of during the scale’s inception in 1948, it’s interesting to note how gay men today still choose their partners based on binaries: masculine vs. feminine, top vs. bottom, etc. As a devout top my entire life, I recently decided to (literally) open-up and purchase my first dildo from my talented, glassblowing friend (bless his heterosexual heart…he sat on my couch and collaborated with me for over an hour as I rummaged through his collection and talked about my sexual history and the importance of this purchase.) While I am in no way a power-bottom (yet) after one stab, I no longer want to limit myself to one end of any particular spectrum or binary. There’s nothing quite like cabbing home from Queen at Smart Bar as the sun is coming up, groping and pushing a man upstairs, taking his clothes off, and learning he, too, is strictly a top. NEVER. AGAIN.

Fluidity in life, whether it’s with the type of food you eat, the brands you buy, the drugs you consume, or with whom you lie in bed, progresses and develops as you get older. Or, that’s the hope, any way. As much as people over 30 seem to place a deep or intimate relationship on a higher pedestal than looks alone, I’m fatigued by the number of mature adults who scream “EQUALITY!” but only top white boys with no body hair. If you consistently date someone who looks exactly like you —or, if you can line up pictures of the different people you’ve dated in front of a stranger and he or she can’t tell them apart — TRY BEING WITH SOMEONE WHO LOOKS TOTALLY DIFFERENT THAN YOUR NORM. People don’t love you until you love yourself. And, since your thoughts, intellect, interests, tastes, etc. all change with age and time and experience, your inability to progress and maintain your intimate life is a direct reflection of self-mutilation. Open your heart. Open your ass. Open your fucking eyes.


8 reasons to risk living like a peasant to relocate to San Francisco

When you’re a suppressed child raised in small town, the most powerful and overbearing desire is to escape. “Surely, not everyone in the world believes sodomy is a sin,” I told myself as early as 5 years old. This mentality – that I belonged elsewhere – is the reason I went to Indiana University, a college known for LGBTQ advocacy, transgender teachers, and for being one of the only universities in the country who offers Gender Studies as a major. In fact, I first came out of the closet on Xanga my freshman year (read here: plenty of lulz).

Despite hiding who I was as a child, I found solace in manipulating one of Christianity’s many hypocrisies: nothing is worse than being gay. My parents were divorced. Everyone around me had sex out of wedlock. The couples who lived next door, across the street, and all over our apartment complex beat and killed each other. Huh…As long as I suppress and deny feelings of homosexuality, I could get away with murder. In this case, “murder” for a child/teenager is smoking cigarettes, cursing, and watching inappropriate movies — Pretty Woman, The Birdcage, Set it Off, and more — which confirmed to me that queer people and outcasts can be happy and successful in places other than Indiana.

As a gay mecca at the forefront of progressive attitudes towards healthcare and (homo)sexuality, San Francisco has become my haven, conjuring me and depleting my vacation days four times in the last two years. The friends I visit insist I relocate there, to which I always respond, “I don’t know how anyone affords to live here!” Lately, though, the temptation to say goodbye to the Windy City – undoubtedly spending thousands of dollars moving and doubling or tripling my living expenses – to move West is stronger than ever. Here’s why:

Men in bars caress and make out with each other
WITHOUT A SINGLE FUCK GIVEN. And not just in gay bars. In Chicago, people are programmed to stare at their phone and worry about what the standoffish couple in front of them thinks. It’s as if they’ve forgotten their human right to show affection to whomever they want. Seeing two dudes holding hands and kissing at a Burger King that wasn’t located in the Castro (yes, this bitch went to Burger King) put me over the moon.

Calves and booties are voluptuous.
Climbing up all those hills does wonders for the legs and thighs. I tend to look at bulges and bumps no matter what, but in SF, the only remedy to looking is looking until someone tells me to stop.

True Burger – Oakland, CA

People aren’t hung up on my race or appearance.
Walking around any habitable part of Chicago outside Boystown (which, I don’t frequent unless there’s a special event) prompts side eye from Lululemon-wearing whites or thuggish POC (people-of-color) who undoubtedly think I stole or fucked a daddy for the $2,500 worth of outfit I’m wearing. SF folks smile. The baristas smile as they give you your latte. Passersby howl instead of scowl. And, “whites only” is nowhere to be found on Grindr.

Lyft-Line introduces you to new people.
During my vacation last week, I took my first Lyft Line — a service that allows you to hop in a Lyft with a passenger whose route aligns with yours. When we got in the car, the passenger and driver were deep in conversation. When asked if they knew each other, the two women explained they had never met, but realized their families grew up and worked together years ago. I love meeting strangers, and this service — only available in five cities (for now) — is a unique way to find out where someone is headed (and where they’ve been.)

Twin Peaks – San Francisco, CA

You don’t have to travel dozens of miles to see the elevation change
Chicago is flat as FUCK. The only rolling-hills combination here are half-baked queens doing poppers while watching King-of-the-Hill. In San Francisco, your destination is always up or down-hill. The city is like a sound wave, bobbing up and down to the beats and hums and moans of the city. Chicago is flatlined, allowing you to only go up if you can afford a reason to be in one of downtown’s skyscrapers.

Wildcat Canyon – Richmond, CA

The Weather is chill. But not too chill
January, San Francisco and Chicago’s coldest month of the year, varies greatly in terms of average temperature and sunlight. Chicago’s average low in Fahrenheit is 18 degrees, compared to SF’s 46 degrees. Additionally, SF sees about 340 more hours of sunlight annually than Chicago. Lack of the sunshine’s vitamin D is linked to prostate cancer, dementia, erectile disfunction, schizophrenia, and heart disease. Lord, keep my heart beating and dick ERECT. Amen.

Drugs are easy to acquire because everyone does them

Admitting you take drugs for fun is still SO taboo in this nation. Despite celebrities like Rihanna, Miley, and Azealia making drugs more mainstream by openly smoking weed (and perhaps doing cocaine), normal people risk missing opportunities and losing credibility by admitting they do drugs. Clearly, there’s something people love about being high, and California makes it easy for citizens to taste the sunshine, smoke the kush, or snort the yay. And, don’t forget – Steve Jobs loved LSD! His legacy (Apple) currently has the highest market capitalization of any company in the world. Take that, haters.

Architecture is incomparable
As a fan of contemporary design, I won’t deny loving every bit of the gray, sterile, phallic skyscrapers that make up downtown Chicago. However, each and every time I visit San Francisco, I park my car anywhere, drop a pin so I remember where I am, and walk around alone to admire and photograph the colorful, bulbous homes and businesses that line the winding and ass-toning roads. It’s truly stunning.

Editor’s Note: I have lived in Chicago for four years. I am consistently grateful for my time here. The people I’ve met…the food culture…the career I’ve established…my life wouldn’t have been possible without the pulse of this city that pushes me to create beautiful things and share stories that inspire others to excel above what is normal. This piece is not throwing shade on Chicago. This is my reality of a 26-year old, bi-racial queer living in the Midwest.


Dear Azealia: You’re a hypocritical bitch, BUT YOUR MUSIC THO.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 1.41.02 PM 1

There is no other feeling quite like the euphoria of blocking out the noise of world. Car horns, a work call on my day off, a burning slur spewed by a passerby on the street — these things are inevitable (the latter more-so for flamboyant folks.) No matter where I am located, what I am doing, or how I feel emotionally, hearing a favorite song — regardless of its tone or mood — entices me with a memory…a particular moment in time.

My first introduction to Azealia Banks was in September of 2012. My good friend in college, whose R&B fever I embraced and to which I related (my white mother blared Prince, Aaliyah, Janet, Whitney, Brandy, Luther, and more throughout my adolescence), one day asked me, “Have you seen the 1991 video yet??” I hadn’t, nor did I know who Azealia was. After watching the video the first time, my initial thought was, “…so unique…so talented and unapologetic.” Later, I thought, “That gay backup dancer should have had more time on camera…” Later that night as I lie in bed, I watched the video well over a dozen or two times, learning all the words to the song. “Who are you, nigga? Ha ha ha!” I was hooked.

A few months later, tragedy struck. Azealia remixed Baauer’s smash (but only tolerable for thirty seconds) hit, “Harlem Shake”, adding her own flare that (now) makes the entire song worth listening to over and over again. Soon after the remix’s release, Baauer removed the song from SoundCloud, telling the Harlem rapper on Twitter, “…it’s not ur song lol”.



A few days later, Diplo (who signed Baauer to his Mad Decent label in 2012) emailed Azealia explaining why she couldn’t use the track…


The drama continued at an upward trajectory as time passed. At the end of 2014, Azealia renamed Iggy Azalea, “Igloo Australia…”, calling her out for thinking “Black Culture is cool” but not speaking up on “black issues”. Azealia also called T.I. a “coon” for associating with Iggy, whom she thinks is appropriating black culture. (For the sake of time and relevancy, I’ll save my thoughts on little Igloo for another time.) Banks has since called out Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, the BET Awards, black media and more for their own individual “wrongdoings”.

For the first time in my life, I am torn between an artist and her music. Azealia’s music is unique and innovative — her accent and quick tongue, combined with her lyrics and the production, make her music a contender for the best, ever. Then you have Azealia herself. The artist. The “angry bitch”. The drama queen. The woman — no, the whiny little girl — who would rather call someone out publicly (for publicity) than confront them directly.

For the record, I don’t think Azealia is actually a “bitch”. She is angry. She is passionate. She thinks black culture is being taken away and exploited and capitalized by white people who couldn’t care less about black people or black issues. Babe, I FEEL YOU. Cops kill innocent black children without even blinking. Money-hungry lawyers trick mentally-ill, dying black women into selling them her lawsuit winnings for 11% of their value. Racism is alive and well in this country, and it’s fucked up.

The thing is, Azealia, using discrimination to fight discrimination doesn’t help progress the human race. It merely makes your anger hypocritical and your passion a lie. I’m referring to her recent scene on an airplane, when she got angry at a couple for (allegedly) compiling their bags and not allowing her to pass. When a flight attendant got involved, she called him a “fucking faggot”.  Azealia also called Perez Hilton a “faggot” in 2014, justifying the slur by positioning her definition of the word as a “…coward, liar, backstabber…….”  NO, DEAR. THE DEFINITION OF THOSE WORDS — coward, liar, backstabber — ARE THOSE WORDS.

I recently wrote a piece about gay, white men being inherently racist. Confusingly, they certainly wouldn’t want Azealia or anyone calling them a faggot (despite their Grindr profiles basically reading “whites only”.) Similarly, Ms. Banks, you expect reparations for the mistreatment of blacks as slaves, yet you continue to use words with demeaning connotations – “faggot” or “pussy” or “coon” – in a hateful manner to promote your own confused agenda. I use the word “faggot” — hell, my handle on Instagram is “callmefag”. But I don’t use this or any other word to promote anger or hatred against another person.

Racism, misogyny, homophobia…all are a result of bigotry and confusion — a hatred that typically isn’t actually understood by the offender. I don’t know if Azealia understands her bigotry or anger, or if all of this is an act for attention. Whatever it is, I’ve ignored it up to this point to focus on the way her music makes me feel. When Broke with Expensive Taste came out last year, I watched the Chasing Time video dozens of times. At one point, I became super emotional watching it, pondering why such a talented person did not receive the type of media attention or praise as other, less talented artists. But now, in a turn of events I never expected, her shitty attitude is finally beginning to overshadow her musical talent. As much as I hate it, The Ice Princess may soon lose the Luxury of my Heavy Metal and Reflective coins. She Fuck(ed) Up the Fun, y’all!

In a 2012 interview with Hypetrak, Azealia stated, “I would eventually like to stop rappingThat’s just the honest truth. Like one day I don’t wanna rap anymore just because it’s easy you know what I mean, but it’s kind of tacky and I think it’s very unladylike. I like it, but I think I’m going to get tired of it. I would like to get two albums out. Like get all of the urban stuff like rap music out. Whatever ideas I have in me out and into fruition the maybe go back to school. Take voice lessons again and do like contemporary jazz. I definitely don’t see myself being a rapper forever.” Is clambering out of the rap industry by flying an airplane of controversy into Twin Toppers the right venture? Does she want the low-hanging shade of “that bitch” for the rest of her career? Whether me or you or Igloo ever support this Bitch With Questionable Taste, I’m sure we’ll continue hearing about her in the press. For the sake of great music – her music – I hope she keeps rapping, and breaks news headlines titled, “Azealia Banks Volunteers at Local School, Proves How Easy It Is to Help Move the World Forward.” instead of, “Azealia Banks Calls Someone Else a Faggot”, or, “Coons! Azealia Banks Finds Another One”.

Courtesy of Vevo

Courtesy of Vevo


Ground to Bits


Oh my God, so, I just deleted Grindr from my phone.”


I just said that as if it is some sort of grand accomplishment…

As the barrage of mobile hookup apps such as Grindr, Tinder, Scruff, etc. continue to increase, the media is focusing on the apps’ implications for and effects on society. And for good reason. As Details points out, the number of reported cases of “the big three” STDs — gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis — are rising. Fast. Are you fucking anyone who frequents the Chelsea neighborhood of New York? Wrap it, twice. Chelsea has the highest syphilis infection rate in the country. In New Zealand, at least three gay men on Grindr were targeted by a criminal who promised them sex. When the man arrived to the victims’ homes, he threatened them with a machete before robbing them.

If you’re reading this and you still use these mobile applications: kudos! We’re alive! I’m grateful to say I have never been threatened or harmed on Grindr. Nor have I (yet) contracted an STD. My growing issue with online hookup-apps isn’t derived from fear…

Asshole 1

Asshole 2

It’s derived from an increasing number of shirtless, white men telling everyone who differs from them they aren’t good enough to fuck, or even speak to. Let us break this down a bit.

First, take the shirtless, faceless picture. The mystery man, undoubtedly ugly, or perhaps stuck in the closet, doesn’t want you to know anything about his interests, personality (though we can guess what kind of a person he is), or lifestyle. Okay, that isn’t entirely accurate. He wants you to know he’s horny, physically strong, and racist. He wants you to admire something — his body — implying it is more important than his thoughts and interests which ultimately make up what type of person he is. He wants you to know that your skinny or unfit body doesn’t deserve his attention.

Asshole 5

Asshole 6

Next, the “whites-only” or “no fems, blacks, asians, etc.” tagline. I completely understand having a “type”. If you look at the roster of men I’ve dated, fucked, kissed, etc., most of them are white, have a little bit of scruff, and are shorter than me. I won’t call it a coincidence, but those traits certainly are not the only ones I actively seek out. If I had to choose a “type”, the traits I find attractive include: skinny, heavy, hairy, non-hairy, black, asian, white, latino, masculine, feminine — but more importantly, intelligent, driven, a good listener, honest, but not sarcastic, and capable of dealing with my moodiness. I’m not embarrassed to admit it took me awhile to open up to such a broad group of people. Like these close-minded torsos on Grindr, I was once in a dark place where rejecting others actually felt comfortable.

Before first coming out at age 18 and even a few years after, I loathed drag queens. I didn’t understand why a man would want to portray himself as a woman. I couldn’t grasp exactly what satisfaction a man derived from putting on a dress and a wig and heels. Anyone who knew me in college can attest to me overusing the phrase,“If I wanted to date a woman, I would do so.” As I grew older, moved to the passionate and very-OUT city of Chicago, and began meeting and falling in love with other queer individuals — drag queens included — I began to understand my resistance to people I didn’t understand. Like these faceless torsos, I too was afraid to accept something — effeminate men — as I was fearful of accepting that trait within myself. Once you break that barrier and portray a certain part of yourself to the world, there’s no going back. Luckily, I had open and accepting friends, family, and a job which allowed me to grow beyond my hateful way of thinking and accept myself (and others) for who and what we are. I’m 26 now…I wear heels, paint my nails, and get annoyed with people who mistake impeccable fashion sense as “dressing like a woman.” Perhaps these shirtless, “masc”, seemingly invulnerable group of men work in a corporate world that doesn’t allow gender expression outside the norm. Maybe their religious parents would never accept an effeminate son. Whatever internal issues they’re struggling with, those are far more dangerous and damaging to the host than the rejection I feel as a result of their inexperience with unfit, effeminate, non-whites.

Whether we like it or not, this technology age in which we live forces us to crave instant results from any particular action we take. We hope that ordering a package from Amazon, a cup of coffee from Starbucks, or in this case, an online chat with a stranger, will yield instant results. When a handsome guy messages me, I feel instantly empowered. When a 62 year old messages me asking if I’m “hung”, I feel icky. When I message someone else and they do not respond, I feel rejected and ugly. Think about how this differs from the generations which arrived before us. In order for our parents (and even more-so our grandparents) to feel these same emotions, it took seeing someone, approaching them, talking to them, perhaps meeting multiple times after, then deciding whether or not to continue toward a deeper relationship, or end it. For me and other 80’s/90’s kids, all it takes is the tap of a little yellow icon and a quick scroll through some photos to feel confident and determined or outraged and self-conscious.

I didn’t erase Grindr from my phone to avoid rejection — in fact, I embrace it. When I seek a connection with someone, I want us to meet and get to know one another before deciding whether we find each other interesting or attractive. I didn’t erase Grindr to run from this epidemic of “masc4masc” requirements. It isn’t my job to message closed-minded individuals and tell them their way of thinking is dated and supremacistic. Maybe I am naive to think I will find anything except sex on Grindr. But, regardless of what anyone is looking for on one of these apps, the voices of friends and advocates for gender fluidity and racial equality who use Grindr all seem to be finding one thing: hours wasted by scrolling through a community of bigots who offer nothing beyond frustration and confusion.

Still, even after knowing and accepting all of these details, Grindr is currently back on my iPhone, hiding on the last screen, out of sight, until just the right amount of alcohol (a sip) is coursing through my bloodstream. I just asked a 33-year old if the car he’s in is an Audi. Oh, it’s a “BMW X5”…”Even better. How are you?” I ask. Hopefully we’ll meet up, go out to dinner, then he’ll run me over with his car. When I wake up in the hospital bed, I’ll finally erase this app for good. Maybe.


9 Tips for Millennial Car-Buyers


Buying a car is fucking terrifying. Especially if you’re a twenty-something retail employee who, instead of building a savings account, spent $500 this month on beer, cigarettes, brunch, and some molly (hey, it was your birthday!) There are countless stress-inducing factors that require your attention before (and, usually during) car ownership — including, but not limited to: down-payment, enduring the stereotypical pushy salesman, vehicular body-repair (because let’s face it…living in a big city like ice-princess Chicago or hilly-ass San Francisco entitles you to dings and dents no matter how careful you are), and so on.

While we cannot control outside elements, we can control ourselves by racing ahead of and popping the zits of car ownership before they produce a nasty bubble…of anxiety! Here are nine tips to get you ghost-riding the whip in no time:

1• Get loan approval from a bank before going to the dealership

Salesman know how to fuck you. They know you’re “just looking”. They know they can coerce you into buying if they try hard enough. If you don’t say “I’m pre-approved for a loan”, they will try even harder to win you over so you finance within the dealership — which typically yields a much higher interest rate than your bank. My current interest rate is 4.64% — which isn’t horrible, but it sure isn’t flawless. For perspective, if I had done some research and applied for a loan through Capital One and taken that offer to the dealership, I would be saving about $500 a year on interest (a month’s worth of molly and alcohol!)

2• Consider hybrid, diesel, or conventional gas powertrains based on your lifestyle

I’ve always been intrigued by diesel engines. They offer more torque (from-a-stop power) than similar-sized conventional gas engines, and tend to beat the EPA fuel-economy ratings. For example, my car is rated at 31-city/43-highway miles per gallon (which is fucking amaze-balls). If I’m in a suburb or non-urban area, I can easily reach or surpass the city rating. On the highway, even at speeds of 80mph with the windows and sunroof open, I can still average 45mpg — even higher when I slow down and keep steady at 65mph. In Chicago, however, with so much traffic and stop and go, my city number lives anywhere from 22-26mpg.

If you live in a highly-populated city with a lot of stop-and-go traffic, hybrids tend to be a lot more efficient because their engines cease at low speeds, letting the battery-pack take over and power the vehicle for sporadic moments. For example, the average mileage of a 2015 Toyota Prius, per crowd-sourced website, is 47mpg. To be fair, Priis and Golfs are very different automobiles — one is the poster child for economic-minded folks, while one is a German sports hatchback. As tough as it is to go against Ms. Vida Boheme’s wishes of style vs. substance, try to mix the two (and add in some “value”).

3• Test drive vehicles at more than one dealership

Before arriving to the dealership, I was 90% set on the vehicle I wanted (a 2015 Volkswagen TDI SEL). There were, however, other vehicles by other manufacturers which caught my eye, as well. A Nissan Altima, Acura TLX, and Kia Optima-Hybrid were other contenders. However, after giving control to the salesman by arriving to the dealership unprepared, he knew just what he needed to lower the price enough to get me to sign on the spot. I love (almost) everything about my car, but I surely could have given others a look-over before signing a 72 month contract. Additionally, other dealers could have lower interest rates.

Finance aside, test the cars’ functions. Open/close doors and windows. Lean on the armrests. Test how easily your phone connects via Bluetooth. Check for a power outlet or USB port (After buying my car, I learned Volkswagens typically don’t have USB ports, but instead these unnecessary “MDI” inputs that require a special cable.) A vehicle brand or model that initially catches your eye may not always rub you the right way.

4• A large down payment is not required.

The years prior to buying my first (new) car, I went online to build and configure ones I wanted. A part of this process included calculating how much it would cost over the course of 60 months. The vehicles were nothing fancy — usually priced anywhere from $27,000 to $35,000 (the cost of the average school loan). It seemed that reasonable monthly payments based on my income — around $300/month — were only attainable if I put down $4 to $7-thousand. My monthly payment is significantly higher than that now (about $470 a month), but I only put down $1,500. If you have extra money each month, you can pay that against your premium and lower the amount you pay on interest, saving hundreds of dollars over the coarse of the loan.

5• Tease the salesman for awhile, then offer to leave

Milk that test drive. Take the car all over the city. Get to know your salesman. Then, after at least an hour of chit-chat, driving, and offering how much you’re willing to spend, say you’re going to test drive other vehicles at other dealerships that day. The salesman knows that if you leave the dealership, the likelihood of you coming back drops significantly. Once he or she thinks they have you in their grasp, say, “bitch, biyeeeeee.” Me doing this was by no means a strategic move in some game I was playing. I legitimately wanted to explore other options. However, the salesman did everything in his power to keep me there. This included bringing a “Manager” into the conversation, who lowered the total price of the car over $3,000.

6• Buy near the end of the year

Or the end of the month. Dealerships will do anything to beat their sales forecast or, more commonly, move a certain number of units by a certain date. Because of this, they are willing to give you a great price just to get the car the fuck out of their sight.

7• Plan for dings, dents, and fluctuating insurance costs

Sure, new vehicles come with a number of warranties — paint/rust, powertrain, etc. However, most cosmetic issues, such as a flat tire or dented rim as a result of the poorly attended-to Chicago streets, typically require an additional warranty through the dealer (or paying out of pocket after something bad happens). In the 7 months I’ve owned my car, my OCD-ass visited a body shop numerous times, including once when the repair-facility fucked up the paint after removing a $600 dent. If you can, put money aside for wear-and-tear expenses — driving for Lyft helps a lot (my referral code is right chere).

8• Read blogs to determine if the next model year will sport sexier features

My model-year Golf underwent a major redesign from the previous version. It looks sleeker, more modern, and has more interior room than its predecessor. Despite this, I recently learned the next model, coming out in 2016, has upgraded safety features like blind-spot detection, and CarPlay for iOS devices (STILL CRYING ABOUT THIS). Again, I love my car, but I can’t help but feel a little duped. Cars.comCar and Driver and Autoblog are great resources for acquiring information before (or immediately following) the dealer announcing it publicly.

9• Fucking wash it

The time and money required to wash your car — especially if you live in a rainy or tree-laden city — is worth it in the long run. Tree sap, bird droppings and other liquid devils can eat through the protective-coating on the paint, causing discoloration and/or rust. As I’ve learned, paint and body damage is not cheap. Splurge on a Groupon or LivingSocial car wash package and keep momma clean.

Processed with Rookie

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Hetero and Homo-normativity Are Everything But “Normal”.


There are people in the world — young boys and girls, teenagers, full grown adults — who are emotionally and physically abused and beaten for not fitting into the heteronormative standards society has placed upon them, us…the human race. For no apparent reason, a homosexual man was recently beaten and almost run over by the CEO of an oil company in Texas. Transwomen — particularly those of color — are being murdered…the narrative of their legacies being tucked away by media who would rather portray trans-lives as a commodity meant for consumption. Last week, a man with whom I had every intention of fucking became abruptly enraged (while lying naked in my bed) by the fact that I wasn’t “sexually fluid enough to bottom for him.” The fluidity with which I carry myself by painting my nails, wearing “women’s” clothes, etc, branded me a tease who shouldn’t “lead people on.”

Hetero-normativity, in a nutshell, states that every human being is born either a man (penis, macho, breadwinner, pussy penetrator) or a woman (vagina, feminine, kitchen-guru, dick storage). Additionally, it suggests that heterosexuality is the only “normal” means to establish a human connection. Similarly, in the case of my effeminate-top–shaming friend, homo-normativity suggests that masculine women are butch, scissoring dykes, and effeminate men are bottoms who are just a Drag Race episode away from turning into a queen. Hetero-normativity — this concept that cultivates centuries-old ideologies that define everything by “this or that” (black/white, gay/straight, rich/poor, etc.) — isn’t anything new. Politicians and activists such as Hillary Clinton and Jon Stewart attempt to disrupt this narrative by promoting marriage equality and denouncing racist and homophobic statements by their counterparts. What is new, or, what isn’t yet being discussed, is the frightening realization that this homo-normative dialogue being promoted within the homosexual community is more powerful and degrading than hetero-normativity AND continues to fuel that narrative.

If you’re a man, you should be straight. If you aren’t, though, it’s acceptable if and only if you play the part you’re supposed to play, based on your skin color, the tone of your voice, how you dress, and your physique. 

I have fallen victim to this stereotyping on multiple occasions. Once while on a date, my counterpart asked, “So, what initially prompted you to dress like a woman?” While I am in no way uptight enough to take complete offense to such a statement, I couldn’t help but assume this man met with me for my physical appearance alone — to perhaps fulfill some sort of fantasy that only an “effeminate man” can fulfill. A prominent Chicago drag queen once shared a story on his Facebook timeline describing an encounter he had with another man he met on Grindr. After they entered said queen’s apartment, the man noticed all of the dresses and quickly asked, “Are you a drag queen?” When the man answered, “yes”, the visitor abruptly grabbed his stuff and walked out of the apartment without saying a word.

The judgement and rejection we feel from peers after acting against “normal” human behavior (which, if you’re a gay man, is just being yourself) places all of us out of touch. You really want to compliment and start a conversation with the beautiful, fit guy who’s wearing the same shoes as you on the train, for example — but you don’t. You remain silent. You’re afraid the glares and telepathic hisses from commuters make you think your kindness is outside the scope of what normal people should do. On top of that, you’re afraid that the person catching your attention will think the same thing and ignore you, or, say something hurtful. As a gay man, speaking out in public (while without the company of at least one other friend for support) doesn’t happen as much as it should, if at all, as the fear of judgement and rejection in the form of verbal or physical abuse is always, ALWAYS lingering in the forefront of my mind.

This country is notorious for waiting until a horrific or generationally damaging event for a positive change to occur. It took the highly publicized killing of multiple black men by white police officers for this country to realize and accept the notion that racism is alive and well in the United States. It took one young terrorist’s attack on a church in Charleston, resulting in the murders of nine people, to determine that it isn’t in our country’s best interest to sell or display the Confederate flag — a historical symbol of oppression and hatred. In a world where technology is becoming easier to communicate with and trust than people, where social anxiety and depression are more prevalent than ever, choosing to ignore or condemn another man before getting to know him — his soul — will ultimately lead to the degradation of the freedom and acceptance for which our (gay) allies are fighting.

Lately, I have made a conscious effort to say what I mean as I’m thinking it. To friends, to strangers –– to anyone. Just the other day, while visiting a restaurant on the north side of town, I told the server to give negative feedback to the chef about my meal. As minuscule as that output of energy seems, the reality that I had to make a conscious effort to muster up the courage to say anything at all is utterly a result of the rejection and oppression I have endured by the hetero and homo-normative actions of society. The next time you meet someone new, or see someone on the ‘L’ train you can imagine in your bed (or at the altar), consider listening to him before you listen to your brain. The worst expectations you can create for yourself (and allow to alter your presentness) are those that lack experience, understanding, or a simple introduction.


High, L.A. : How a Midwest Bae Spends Vacation

#TBT to February 11, 2015 when Chicago was a frigid bitch. Although, not nearly as frigid as he was last year, or the year before. While wrapped up snugly on the couch in a microfiber blanket, I was exhaustively scrolling through my Facebook feed in an eerie, zombie-like state. My cold, lethargic existence exploded to life when a blurb from Yelle caught my attention.


I knew if I didn’t escape Chiberia imminently I was going to jump off the Sears Tower. Luckily, I had been thinking about taking a trip to California for some time. To force the procurement of a plane ticket, I did the sensible thing and purchased a pair of tickets to see Yelle in Los Angeles for April 10th. To you 365 days/year warm-climate dwellers, yes, Chicago is still cold (and sometimes snowing!) in April. The following afternoon during my lunch break, I researched and purchased the cheapest, week long, April tenth-ish American Airlines ticket I could find (rackin’ up them miles, nigga). $326 later, the countdown to Los Angeles had begun. I booked a premium car through Hertz and, due to the copious amount of points I accrued, only paid $10 for a week.


Wednesday April 8th (Day 1): After parking the car next to a homeless man peeing in broad daylight on an electrical box, I began walking toward The California Market Center for the LA Men’s Market (@LAMENSMARKET), a bi-annual men’s trade event in downtown LA.

On the way, a cube-shaped building advertising coffee caught my attention. The Classic Coffee, located at the corner of Main Street and 9th Street, is hands-down the most inviting coffee spot I’ve ever visited. Floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides, dozens of hanging wall plants, and a multi-tiered wooden bench smothered in pillows ask patrons to hang around for awhile and soak up the sun and a good conversation with their caffeine. By the time I finished my latte, my bearings were secured and my excitement for LA Men’s Market (partnered with the caffeine rush) was in full swing.

I headed across the street to the thirteen-story building where the event took place. Little did I know, it was on the top floor — nice. It was glorious…I’m not typically into streetwear, but if I were to be swayed, this event pushed me over the edge. Two notable brands on which to keep an eye are Native Shoes ( and STIKELEATHER Apparel (

IMG_0014Native Shoes’ Apollo Moc collection serves a Nike Roshe Run vibe, but with super lightweight materials and a more unique design. These airy and comfortable kicks will be available F/W 2015.

Next, STIKELEATHER has developed a fresh take on modern, well-fitting blazers, baseball tees, and asymmetrical crews with — get this — completely invisible magnetic closures embedded in the fabric. Despite their muted color pallet, these fresh designs really make a statement. Did I buy anything? No. I was saving money for (legal) California weed.

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SPEAKING OF WEED, little did I know that almost everyone in California has a prescription for “medical” marijuana. After leaving the Market and stopping by Venice Beach, my friend hooked me up with three fat, pre-rolled joints from a dispensary. It only takes me two hits to get blasted — how in the hell can I finish these in 6 days?!

IMG_0191Thursday April 9th (Day 2): Located on the north-side of Hollywood, Runyon Canyon is a collection of 1.65, 2.65, and 3.25 mile hiking trails. It draws the attention of runners, yoga-enthusiasts, and (if you follow @lukeaustinphotosthe3rd on Instagram) the sexiest, shirtless gay men known to man. Before arriving, I didn’t know what to expect — I was wearing green-khaki shorts, a heavy, mesh, long-sleeved shirt, and a light-cotton floral blazer. As I approached the base of the shortest hill, I knew I was in for some sweat and stank. I removed the victory joint from my blazer and tied it around my waist. Time to climb.

The view from the top of the peak is absolutely incredible. Looking south showcases all of Los Angeles in its seemingly flat glory. Looking north reminds you of your five-figure salary, as every home is >4000 sq. feet and built into the side of a mountain.

Noticing a few Filipinos playing with a selfie stick a few clicks away, I approached them and joked, “I left my selfie stick at home — would you mind taking a photo of me?” The young woman was really nice, and even added a third-party camera lens to my phone to take a better picture. “I’m really fascinated by iPhone photography,” she says. After capturing dozens of pictures, I mentioned I was visiting from Chicago for the week. Her and her friends suggested restaurants, coffee shops, and other neighborhoods to explore. I was smitten by such generosity — I regret not asking for their contact information. Life of a Cancer…
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After making it back down the hill, I pulled out and smoked half of my now soggy joint on the way back to my rental car. For the rest of the day I explored the mansions in Beverly Hills and walked around a few shops in Melrose. A particularly elegant coffee  house, called Alfred Coffee and Kitchen (, was recommended by my new Runyon friends. It’s quiet, but a little on the expensive side (a salad wrap and 16oz iced chai was about $18). BUT, the clientele looks like a million bucks — I was eye-fucking everyone.

I rounded out my evening exploring the mansions along Carmelita Avenue in Beverly Hills. Nothing instills more paranoia than smoking a joint while passing Aston Martins and Rolls Royces parked casually on the street.

When night fell, I drove up to Griffith Observatory to capture a glimpse of the glowing city under a black sky.

Friday April 10th (Day 3): Today was a special day for two reasons: First, the initial reason I came to L.A. was upon me — Yelle performing @ The Roxy. Second, an iconic day for one of the most influential organizations in the world — pre-orders begin for Apple Watch. While spending hundreds of dollars on another device that will take my attention away from humans and nature and the “real world” isn’t necessarily the most economical or emotionally-present decision I could make, it’s a decision I made for two key reasons.

First, it is an iconic fashion piece. Despite what Editor-in-Chief Nilay Patel and his colleagues at The Verge say about the Watch, this is the most highly anticipated, customizable piece of wearable technology to ever exist. Infinitely customizable watch faces, six new bands in an array of colors patented and built by Apple, and the potential for an unlimited number of third-party bands make this device acquirable and appealing to all ages, body types, and genders. Despite the millions of dollars I assume the company has spent on advertising, they knew what they were doing when they built a camera viewfinder for your iPhone into the Watch. #FreeAdvertising.

Second, I’ve never purchased or owned an expensive timepiece. I know what some of you are thinking….WHY WOULD YOU SPEND HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS ON A “WATCH” THAT WILL BE OBSOLETE IN THREE YEARS? It’s simple. Every watch I’ve ever owned (I’ve owned about 10) has cost between $50 and $100. When the battery dies after 3-4 years, not once have I ever replaced it. Sure, If I did replace the battery, I would wear them for many years to come. However, fashion and taste and aesthetic tend to change and develop as I age and I experience new things. For 3 or 4 or 6 or whatever years, I can customize Apple Watch with different bands until a new watch is released. Spending $500-1000 on a revolutionary piece of technology every few years is nothing considering we “upgrade” our things – shoes, cell phones, computers, jewery, etc. – all the time. I’ll wager that most of the people criticizing people purchasing an Apple Watch versus a Rolex spend more money replacing their PCs than us “iSheep” do replacing or beloved Apple devices.
Before the Apple store opened, I stopped by Marmalade Cafe to grab some salmon and poached-egg goodness. To prevent being late for my Watch try-on appointment, I scarfed my meal in about fifteen minutes and ran over to the store. Although they didn’t have the exact color/model I wanted to try-on, I knew in my soul which one to buy. July cannot come soon enough.
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Come nightfall, I called an old college buddy and invited him to see Yelle (I always buy two concert tickets, just because). While waiting for him to arrive, I walked around West Hollywood and finished joint number one. I can’t emphasize enough how amazing it feels to publicly smoke and enjoy marijuana without anxiety of being arrested. Hey, rest of the U.S., can you catch up, please?

Yelle was amazing — funny, engaging, and full of life. Her performance was perfectly planned and curated, including selfies with the audience, bongo drum solos, choreography with the drummers, and a meet-and-greet after the show. I haven’t purchased band merchandise in a long time, but this was an easy decision. If you’ve been dying for electronic, out-of-this-world beats with french vocals, check out her SoundCloud. I had never heard her opening band, Seattle-based “HIBOU”, but their electric guitar, west-coast vibe, and hot-as-shit bandmates are definitely worth checking out.
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Saturday April 11th (Day 4): People who know me personally know my wardrobe consists of three primary colors: Black, gray, and brown. As I scroll through my Instagram feed from the Winter months, most of my photos have a very clear ominous tone, even if the content or subject is positive. Today was perhaps my favorite day of the entire trip, as it popped my winter-woe cherry and allowed me to embrace color and warmth for the first time this year.

I began at Santa Monica pier, enjoying the sounds of children laughing and talented singers and musicians entertaining and gracing us. A bit crowded up-top, I escaped the boardwalk to walk along the beach, smoking joint number two and allowing the sound of the crashing waves to break away the armor I built during Chicago’s winter months. After finding the most attractive man sitting alone in the sand, I sat close enough to ogle behind sunglasses but far enough away to disguise my lurkiness. I sat for about 45 minutes, silent, eyes closed, high as a fucking kite, thinking, “Is this real?” Officers circling the beach in dune-buggies, a collection of kite-enthusiasts flying dozens of kites, rollerbladers whizzing past — I was enamored. Furthermore, the condos lining the sand were like nothing I’ve ever seen. One had a yellow-spiral staircase reminding me of slides I frequented as a child. One building was white, structured, with floor-to-ceiling windows sitting boldly like a miniature White House. One was a bold orange, flashing symmetry from all angles. I was half tempted to knock on each door and ask if I could be a live-in nanny/sex-slave — anything to see (and stay) in those condos!
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Sunday April 12th (Day 5)
: I woke up early today to go to church. Just kidding. Do people still do that? I woke up early to get some writing done, as well as spend some time at Amoeba Music on Sunset Boulevard — the world’s largest independent record store. Imagine two stories and about ten-thousand square feet of vinyl, posters, DVDs, CDs, and LaserDiscs (yes, LaserDiscs). I spent about 15 minutes walking around with the new album from Lapalux, Lustmore, until realizing my port-less and driverless MacBook won’t eat the damn disc. I downloaded the album later when I returned to my Airbnb (I recommend you do the same). Soon after, I went to Starbucks and awaited the arrival of my old college friend. We roamed the touristy part of Hollywood Boulevard, dodging local thugs asking if we “had a cell phone to check the time” (literally, we crossed the street to avoid them). While helping me finish joint number two, I took my friend a bit north to explore unfrequented hills. “I love this shit,” he says. I wouldn’t normally come over here, but this is really pretty.” If anyone ever wants to walk until your legs feel like they’re going to fall off, hit me up.
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After a long day of exploring, I said goodbye to my friend, went back to my loft, started joint number three, and passed out.

Monday April 13th (Day 6 – The Finale): At some point when I first arrived to the city, I passed a charming hotel with a diner on the first floor on the corner of 6th Street and Normandie Avenue (so charming, in fact, I pulled off to the side of the road to compose a note of its location in my phone). With sore legs and a groaning belly, I decided to head over to what I learned was Normandie Hotel, and its sister restaurant Cassell’s Hamburgers. One of the baristas (whose name escapes me now, sadly) was very sweet and beautiful — so much so that I asked if I could take her portrait. She didn’t feel comfortable being in a picture alone taken by a stranger (I don’t necessarily blame her), but she agreed to be in one with me. After our quick photoshoot, I went back inside and had brunch, followed by an experimental chai blend from my new friend, on the house.
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Years spent lusting over others’ pictures of towering street lights led me to The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Unfortunately, my dumb ass parked in a two hour zone a sizable distance away, so I felt hurried throughout my exploration. Hell, I could have easily spent two hours outside the museum worshiping the sky-scraping rock resting upon an underground walkway, the top of the building shaped like origami, stabbing the sky, and the shower of yellow, licorice-like strings hanging from the sky.
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I walked briskly as I entered the museum, quickly skimming the directory for exhibits that would appeal to me. I’m not a connoisseur of art by any means, nor do I have a particular favorite artist. However, after years of watching Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego (in the first episode of the series, The Stolen Smile, she travels around the world to steal facial-features from different pieces — eyes from Van Gogh, a nose from Picasso, and the mouth from the Mona Lisa), seeing a Picasso in real life was a very emotional moment. So much so that I risked being thrown out (or yelled at, at the very least) capturing a photo of one of his pieces. My favorite exhibit, Islamic Art Now: Contemporary Art of the Middle East, is the first of its kind at the museum. “Technology Killed Reality, 2013”, captured by interior/fashion designer turned photographer Abdullah Al Saab, displays a beautiful woman ignoring publications and other pieces of art to instead take a selfie. This concept isn’t new, especially in the Western world, but it is captured in a much more powerful and iconic fashion.
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As my final day came winding down, I couldn’t leave L.A. without getting my Pretty Woman on. Rodeo Drive was calling my name. I did a lap around some mansions to smoke 75% of my final joint, then headed over to the strip. I didn’t want to stay long, as my wallet was screaming “STAAAAAHHHHHHP”, but I did stop in Chanel to remind myself of how poor I am. A blouse for $3,000? Is this real life? As I continued to mosey, I came upon a bright, beautiful courtyard surrounded by a slew of restaurants and shops. I stopped at Sweet Beverly and ordered the most delicious banana, strawberry, and blueberry parfait I’ve ever consumed. It was $9, of course — which is probably the cheapest thing in Beverly Hills.
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As the sun began to set, I found myself driving to Silver Lake for one final nature-loving moment. The roads inclined at least 45 degrees, and were no doubt the cause of many “check engine” lights on residents’ vehicles. I climbed an iconic staircase to the top, sat on the stoop of one of the mansions, and watched the sun set as I took a few more hits of the joint.
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As a final hoorah, I took the train downtown to La Cita Bar for the weekly Mustache Mondays dance party. (Rather, I got on the train then waited 20 minutes for it to begin working. Some advice: Just Lyft, y’all — NEVER take the train in L.A.) It was perfect timing, as one of my favorite Instagram celebrities and Moschino brand ambassador, @Mazurbate, was DJing. I finished my final joint (R.I.P, legal weed) before approaching the bouncer, and went inside to some poppin’ ass Rasta beats, followed by #BBHMM. When I’m alone, it takes a few drinks for me to go from zero to one-hundred. In this instance, it only took two gin and tonics and I was at about one-hundred-fifty. The crowd around me was clearly surprised at my sudden urge to dance, as I had spent the first hour lurking, sipping my cocktail, and holding onto my purse. Within an instant, I corralled the people around me to follow suit. A girl approached me, saying how much she loved my moves. We instantly became friends. A dancer turned DJ, she told me that if I ever come back to L.A. and want to learn and grow from “some of the best”, she’s got my back. We exchanged Instagram handles and danced together the rest of the evening. At closing time, I took a Lyft back to the loft and prepared for my departure the following afternoon.

The warmth, as it burns the skin and inspires and puts anxiety to rest, is no substitute for the grind. It is slow — the city, it is slow. Almost too slow. Traffic moves constantly, its pace at crawl MPH. Stoned bodies smile, with sticky gums. They write, act, and talk about writing…acting. What are you working on? My audition is tomorrow. Are you in film? Advertisements loom. Homeless friends ask politely for a dollar while Six-figures worth of aluminum and pistons and leather line lavishly the perfectly-paved streets. The waves wash away worry, each breath a new hue of pleasure. Unforgettable.

Welcome to Hollywood.


Common Courtesy for Twenty-Somethings.

Whether or not your parents/caregivers planned your existence, the life-lessons they instilled within you were their way of saying, “please, don’t grow up to be douchebag, and try to make the world a better place.” I’ll always remember the things my mother taught me just before starting kindergarten in 1993:

Always hold the door for others.

Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.”

Look people in the eyes when they’re speaking to you.”

Don’t fuck men, because you’ll go to hell.

I ignored the latter piece of advice at age 16 in the middle of a field with a blonde named Tommy…but, the first three remain very much ingrained in my DNA, as will they in my children (if I have any.) Despite the twenty-two years that have passed since receiving my mother’s advice, they, along with countless others (“always use your turn signal, don’t litter, rinse your dishes after a meal if you’re going to leave them in the sink”), will forever show those watching you that you’re a considerate human being.

As technology continues its rapid trajectory of dominating every aspect of our lives, it’s important for millennials to recognize that, without proper coaching, our children are going to be socially awkward, self-centered robots who think saying “bless you” after someone sneezes is an urban legend. In order to protect the notion of integrity, here are seven Standards of Courtesy (SOCs) we need to set (or reset) for ourselves and future generations:

Yes, some over-confident bikers weave in and out of traffic while on their cell phone and cut you off, instilling hatred and rage. However, slamming into you, your vehicle, or vice versa at +/- 25mph can be fatal. If parking on a busy roadway, look in your side-mirror before opening your car door. For you small-town folk who still yell, “GET OUT OF THE ROAD! BIKES ARE MEANT FOR THE SIDEWALK!!”, please school your fucking self.

Or dancing, or shitting, or driving, or working. Your company thinks you’re rude. If you want to be somewhere else, try planning your day a bit better and decide that prior to meeting for a meal. Plus, your constant need to scroll through Instagram on the shitter has smothered your phone in poop particles, which I don’t want near my utensils.

With instant access to almost everything — a ride, your man-crush living in Australia, a glitter bomb — people expect everything NOW. As self-satisfaction and impatience becomes more prevalent in our society, composure and “customer service” — that is, for example, smiling at a customer who asks to “speak to a white-employee instead of a black one” — are critical traits to retain. Instead of bitching at an AT&T representative over the phone or sending a shitty text message to your roommate for not cleaning up after a party, SPEAK, out loud, in-person, to someone in order to make a change. If you don’t have the confidence to treat someone to their face, you shouldn’t be treating.

As millennials count more and more on ride-sharing to get to and from work and play, it’s easy to forget that you are riding in a complete stranger’s vehicle. Doing your makeup in the visor mirror? Wipe your glossy hands on your own clothes before touching anything else. Carting a new piece of furniture? Take it out delicately to avoiding scratching the paint. And please, please, if you feel like puking, say something sooner rather than later.

As much as I like to think the constant stream of information in my News Feed is intrusive, I’m starting to realize just how much entertainment, news, communication, and education I consume through Facebook. I don’t remember the last time I sent a mass text to all of my friends and family telling them, “Hey! Let’s boycott Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act!” or “Here’s how you can help prevent more trans-people from dying.” With over one billion users, your post may just start a revolution.

This oldie but goodie needs revisiting (especially for Chicago drivers.) The further to the left you are on a multi-lane highway, the faster you should be going. If you’re in the left-most lane and the car behind you is quickly approaching, get the fuck over and stay there ASAP.

Not Yours
Yes, I did just take a picture of you. Yes, I will send it to you when I’m done editing it. Do not, while you’re drunk, grab my $950 iPhone out of my hand without my god damn permission. Hey, HEY! What did I just say?! I’m cropping you out of the photo. Byeeeeee.

With a little common sense, we can help protect the future from assholes.

What new (or legacy) life lessons continue to shape who you are today? Sound off in the comments.


Ladies, He’s a Fag.

Before I came out of the closet — and even more so when I came out — nothing infuriated me more than people who discussed my sexuality with others before I had even established it myself. But I get it. I completely align with and understand the curiosity and this inherent need to know someone’s sexuality. Your friend, who has kept his sexuality a secret since infancy, is essentially lying by omission. That need to know whether someone is or isn’t gay is built into all of our DNAs whether we want to accept it or not. Since this “is he or isn’t he?” tick will forever eat into our curious souls, I am here save you. Put your stress, anxiety, and curiosity to rest; I am outing the male population. Here are eight ways to determine if your guy-friend is a flaming homosexual:


He has never had a steady girlfriend.
C’mon, man. You are 26 years old. You mean to tell me that out of the 4 billion women in the world, you have yet to find a single one that fits your lifestyle? I call “hoooomoooooo”.

Drunk Bros
He’s very touchy-feely with other guys when he’s inebriated.
Alcohol tends to bring out our true feelings. It also tends to make closeted men ask you to blow them (true story).

A lot of his friends are gay.
Being accepting of everyone’s individuality is one thing. Going to Boystown every weekend is another. Steamworks much?

He doesn’t have a personal stylist, yet his fashion sense is above above-average.
Ladies, if he has more shoes than you, he’s a bottom.

He was raised in a very suppressed or uber-religious household.
Religion is the reason I was so fearful of coming out in the first place. There is something about the idea of burning in hell for all eternity that makes a man want to suppress his homosexual feelings, ya know? While most religions condemn premarital sex, here in America, with our dick-pic-sending and twerking culture, any man who does not have sex with a woman one month into dating is only turned on by the thought of dicks.

He’s a virgin.
Again, if you’re in your twenties (or god-forbid, your fucking thirties) and you STILL have yet to put your D in a V, you gay, son.

His iTunes library is full of music by Britney Spears, Beyoncé, or other female pop sensations.
You may have already walked in on him dancing in his underwear in front of the mirror to “Anaconda”.

He constantly asserts himself as heterosexual before, during, or after complimenting another male.
Dude, I am so straight, like I fucking love eating the vagine, and boobies are great…but damn Josh, your ass looks so good in those pants I could just fuck the shit out of you right here and now.” UHM OKAY, QUEER.

If, after sharing this list with the man in question, he still will not admit to his homosexuality, check his internet history when he’s in the bathroom. I guarantee you will either find tons of gay porn, or torrents of every Bette Midler movie. Either way, he gay.


A Club Kid’s Guide to Saving.

Save Money

Besides my work managers and HR representatives, not a single person knows how much money I make at my job. You know why? Because I fucking hate money. I hate talking about money. I hate obsessing over it. I hate how much of an impact is has on establishing a human connection. In our current Tom Ford, $1,000 Beyoncé concert ticket, and Tesla-obsessed culture, it is almost impossible to forget about money and live a humble life of frugality. Anyone with nothing wants something, and everyone (myself included) with something wants more ― a lot more. Americans continue to spend more money than they save or, even worse, spend money they don’t even have. What do we do?

When I moved to Chicago in November of 2011, I had just finished a four-year Bachelor’s program at Indiana University. My only major assets were a four-year old MacBook and a 1995 Ford Taurus. That’s it – my life “savings”. My physically-disabled mother, whose primary source of income was a meager monthly stipend from the government, supported me financially throughout my childhood and provided all of life’s essentials (food, clothing, a place to live, and love.) As soon as it was legal for me to acquire a job at the age of 16, I started working at Taco Bell after school and during weekends. It was tough to sacrifice my free time and neglect friends and loved ones in order to buy and pay for auxiliary items and non-essentials like my first car and insurance, a cell phone and its resulting monthly bill, clothes, and other items my friends’ parents bought for them (some of them still do!) Saving money was nowhere on my to-do list. With whatever money I had leftover, I became more of a social butterfly ― going out to eat and to the movies more often, buying gifts, taking road trips, and experiencing a life I was finally able to afford.

When I got to college, the concept of saving money became even more difficult. My admirable academic standing alongside my family’s financial situation (or lack thereof) prompted a nice surprise from my school councilors: a connection to a non-profit organization that would pay my entire tuition at any four-year university in Indiana. “Holy shit, thank the stars.” I did, however, still have to pay for other essentials like textbooks, rent, and utilities, as well as my cell phone bill, car insurance, and gas, whose costs seemed to rise and rise as time went on. This was also the time I received my first, second, third, fourth, and fifth credit cards, which quickly racked up a considerable amount of debt those first three years. As a full time student who also worked at least 30 hours a week to make ends meet, I started realizing how scary and stressful debt can be ― I also started thinking about my family’s finances and how a lack of a financial cushion really put stress and worry on my mother all those years. We rarely went out to eat as a family. We had never taken a family vacation. Hell, I didn’t fly on a plane until I was 23 ― we just couldn’t afford it. One day, while sitting at a computer configuring new cars and pricing out tentative trips on the web I knew I could never afford to take, I decided to make a change. I told myself, “You will NEVER wonder where your money is coming from or worry about buying things you want or need. Pay off your debt and save, NOW. It’s time to start building your future.”

So, I did. Since I always paid my credit card bills on time, my credit worthiness began to rise ― quickly. It was rather intriguing to build financial savvy as I opened-up new credit accounts while transferring my existing, interest-accruing debt to new accounts which enticed me with their “zero-interest for a year” promotions. As I moved my debt around and maintained my credit worthiness by paying the monthly-minimums (doing this does not negatively impact your credit score), I simultaneously opened and supplemented a savings account. Despite knowing my net worth (ASSETS minus DEBT) would have remained the same if I had simply paid off my credit cards first, seeing a tangible and growing amount of cash I could touch and spend only encouraged me to pay off my debts faster. By the time I graduated and moved to Chicago a year-and-a-half later, I had considerably less credit card debt and my first ever savings account, which contained $3,200.

Exactly one year later near the end of 2012, two months of which were spent without a job, my savings account had surpassed $5,000 and my remaining $3,500 of credit card debt had dropped to $0. I know I know ― as we read through magazines advertising seven-figure homes or discussing multi-billion dollar company acquisitions, those numbers may not seem like a lot. For some perspective, I lived on no more than $150 a month for almost a year in order to pay off my debts and build my savings. Although Chicago is not the most expensive city by any means, it’s mind boggling to think about it today, as it is sometimes difficult now to get through a week without spending $150. But, it was what I needed. I needed to be debt free. With three years of spending and saving in the Windy City under my thrifted belt, I am still an avid saver ― but I found a much healthier and more satisfying balance between what I now consider hoarding my money and thoughtlessly buying things I do not need. In addition to my high-yield savings account (which, due to a recent vacation to San Francisco, is quite thirsty), I also have health and dental insurance, a 401K, and I recently invested five-figures in the stock market.

As I mentioned previously, I hate speaking of money. Frankly, it is no one’s business, and people who openly discuss their finances are typically arrogant, rich assholes who use money to supplement a lack of feelings, emotions, and relationships. But, I truly care about your financial independence, and the aforementioned data from my past helps build a picture about what is truly possible. Even if your employer doesn’t provide financial benefits or incentives, don’t fret! You work hard for your money, and only you can decide and control how to grow or deplete your funds. Here are seven additional ideologies that will minimize your debt, maximize your savings, and make you feel fucking fabulous:


Eating out is eating your money. Fast.
I’ll admit it: I am guilty of being a slave to Starbucks’ sugary crack-drinks, made and handled with love by their friendly Baristas. Additionally, After a solid two years of bringing my lunch to work every single day, I have since stopped, as the convenience of ordering pad-see-ewe from the Thai restaurant next door has rendered the grocery store useless. Totaling around $14/day, five days a week, that equates to $280 a month spent on food and coffee. This, of course, doesn’t account for my days off, which could easily be another $15/day (at least) spent going out to eat. This brings my monthly total to roughly $415 a month.

Now, consider the alternative: Spending $50 on groceries can easily last more than a week, sometimes two, as long as your portions are under control and you are buying the right items at the right time (for example, try not to buy a ton of parishable items that will spoil before having a chance to eat them). Getting into this routine saves $130 a month, or over $1,500 a year.


Brick-and-mortar banks are so 20th century.
Going to the bank is and always has been annoying as all fuck. I usually have to stand in line for what feels like hours, the hidden fees pop-up unexpectedly (I believe banks charge you each time you take a Dum Dum from the bowl at the counter), and the Representatives try to “upsell” you, offering credit card and other promotions which, despite not needing, you signed up (and are now paying) for. In 2012, I registered for Simple™, an online-only bank with no branch locations whatsoever. Their app, which I access on my iPhone, has built-in money management tools that are easy to use. Additional features include quick feedback to and from customer support via messaging in the app, thousands of conveniently-located ATMs throughout the United States, and the ability to transfer money to/from external accounts in a timely manner. Because they have no brick-and-mortar stores to maintain, they offer their services free of charge.

I am in the process of transfering my Chase™ savings account to an online savings account with Discover™. Since Discover also does not have any branches, they are able to offer this account free of charge while offering a significantly higher interest rate than Chase (.85% vs .01%). Although this option eliminates the idea of accessing quick cash in the moment, you are able to transfer money out of the account six times a month without incurring a charge. Paired with Simple’s in-app budgeting tools, it’s easy to setup a makeshift “rainy-day fund” within your Simple account if you’re ever in a pickle.


Being chauffeured is glamorous ― and cheap.
I love cars. I have loved them since I was a teenager. Coming from humble beginnings and always driving around ten-year-old shit-beaters, my goal throughout high school and college was to one day buy a brand new car that no one else has used. However, the cost of ownership, especially in a city like Chicago (time wasted in gridlock traffic, parking tickets, more maintenance caused my dings and dents, the pay-to-park requirement almost everywhere — in addition to gas and insurance), can easily account for thousands of dollars spent per year. The alternative, taking public transportation and taxi services such as Lyft, eliminates the hidden-costs associated with having a car, as well as reduces the stress and anxiety of owning and maintaining a vehicle. I still hope to one day own a car that is mine, but I will buy one pre-owned that came off someone else’s lease, as they are typically better maintained, have lower-mileage, and are significantly more affordable than a brand new one.


College is a career path, NOT a post-high-school path.
America’s education system is built upon a foundation which requires scholarship recipients and expects all other students to to immediately attend a university upon high school graduation. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what the fuck I wanted to do when I finished high school. And I’m not alone. It’s no surprise that in 2012, job-placement firm Adecco found that over sixty percent of U.S. college graduates were working in a job outside their “chosen” profession. Some people argue that the jobs just weren’t there, but that’s hogwash. It is impractical to expect an eighteen year old high school senior with no true experience in the real world to know exactly what he or she really enjoys doing, or how to utilize those passions in order to be successful. Instead of our leaders and mentors encouraging teenagers to gain real-world experience through internships or real work, society pushes them into tens-of-thousands of dollars of college loans and debt, offering empty promises of “unparalleled experiences” or a “successful life” after college. Those sixty percent of graduates working outside their field are doing so because they were pushed on a path, realized it wasn’t right, then settled into whatever job was available so they could reestablish what they want and defer their loans as long as possible. I am not working in my “field” ― however, my two-and-a-half years at my current job has offered more insight, business acumen, and deep human connections than the four years I spent in college. If you or someone you know didn’t attend college or dropped-out, don’t be discouraged. Spend time out of your comfort zone and determine what you love ― your passions will bring you more happiness and success than a $50,000 college bill will.


Frappa-latte-cinno? How about a simple coffee.
To reference my first point, eating out is costly. Every time I order a Grande-Mocha from Starbucks and see my total ($4,59), a part of me wants to beat the shit out of myself for falling victim to the cult of high-priced coffee beverages. for those of us who drink coffee daily, we can save $90 a month by purchasing a standard coffee instead of a froo-froo-frap or specialty drink. Additionally, so many coffee-houses offer loyalty reward programs that offer free drinks on certain days, or after you spend a certain amount of money. Do yourself and your wallet a favor and save the fancy drinks for those “free” days.


It’s okay to say “no” to your friends.
Being a social butterfly is great and all, but it is important to know when your body and budget need a break. I was recently out at a cocktail lounge with a few friends for my birthday. One of them, who tends to get drunk, forgetful, and way too generous too quickly, spent about $100 on drinks that night, then went home around 4AM and spent her night over the toilet. We’ve all been there, yes, but the idea of spending that much on something that not only do we forget, but ends up making us feel like shit is a little ridiculous. Nightlife is expensive. Of course, you don’t want to be a recluse ― alone in your apartment on a Friday night (unless you’re a Cancer =D) ― but spending $100 a week on alcohol will soon put you in a shared living space at the YMCA or, more realistically, in an awkward relationship with your housemates, because you can’t afford your rent. Your friends will still love you if you take a night off from partying, your liver will leave a chocolate on your pillow the next morning, and you’ll smile when you look at your bank statement and realize no money was spent between Saturday and Monday.


Put the Michael Kors back on the hook, breathe, and think.
As a Jew, I thank the lord regularly for making me a cheap bastard. As a fashionista, it is difficult for me to “window-shop”, as there is always some deal flashing in my face. Inversely, buying a $250 purse certainly turns my shitty day into a fantastic one (until the jew-guilt kicks in). When I’m in a store and find something I like, I’ll walk around with it for awhile to seek out something similar that is more affordable, both in the store, and using my phone to browse Amazon, Zappos, etc. During my walk of guilt, I also think backward and forward in time, asking myself, “When was the last time you bought an item like this?” and, “If you buy this now, will you be able to afford groceries or that trip to Six Flags in two weeks?” 95% of the time, the purse or the pair of shoes I’m holding ends up back on the shelf. There are, of course, occasions for which I have saved and planned ahead; still, I almost never pay full-price. People’s jaws drop to the floor when they see my outfit and learn I only paid $40 for the entire ensemble. Thrift stores can seem overwhelming, I know, but spending an hour rummaging through all the unique pieces versus ten minutes in a department store can easily save you hundreds of dollars per visit. It’s okay to treat yourself once in awhile, but spend five extra minutes researching prices, and hell, use the money your thrifty ass just saved to buy a matching accessory.