Tuesday, July 26, 2016

San Diego Pride 2016

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Beers and I traveled to San Diego to visit dear friends and to be a part of San Diego Pride 2016. Our friends, Mr. Davis and Mr. Campbell, have always been gracious hosts and have invited us to come for this event numerous times, and this trip was perhaps the best yet. There are many reasons that this was a great trip. The weather was perfect. The pride events were wonderful. But the best reason that it was a great trip was the amazing group of people. We got to visit with old friends and we got to make new friends. From Mo's to The Hole and everything in between, we had such a good time.

Watching the Pride Parade Saturday morning, we were very emotional. It had been just over a month since the tragedy at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and one of the first things we saw at the parade was a group of 49 people, each carrying a placard with the name and a picture of one of the Pulse victims. It was breathtaking to see those names and faces represented on University Avenue in the Hillcrest area of San Diego. Another emotional moment was when the San Diego police force marched in the parade. The crowd cheered and applauded them without ceasing, showing their appreciation for the work they do, as well as for the willingness of these members of the SDPD to participate in the Pride Parade. We felt at once vulnerable and protected. We teared up more than once.

Another moment was when we looked up and behind us at the parade and realized that we were all being watched over by camouflaged and armed military personnel ready to respond to whatever unexpected incident might occur. Again we felt at once vulnerable and protected. This is the state of things. Friends who knew we were in San Diego for Pride sent text messages and Facebook messages asking us to "Please be careful," adding, "I hate that even have to say that."

Thankfully, there were no "incidents." The entire weekend was full of love and fun and good times. We were all there to celebrate life and love. We were there with thousands of people who refuse to live in fear. We were cautious and we were aware of our surroundings at all times. We greeted each other with smiles and "Happy Pride." We celebrated life and we celebrated love.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


If you're familiar with Fiesta (in general) in San Antonio and  (specifically) Cornyation, great. If you're not, I'll let you discover all the details for yourself. There's a lot of information online about both subjects, and I don't want to copy and paste a bunch of stuff here. You can Google either of those topics and get plenty of information if you're so inclined.

I would like to mention that Mr. Beers and I were selected to be Kings Anchovy for this past April's Cornyation. To say that it was a great and wonderful experience would be an understatement. From our first meeting with Jesse Mata and Ray Chavez we experienced nothing but fun and love. Lots of both. Yep, it's been all sunshine and lollipops, rainbows and unicorns for these kings. That first meeting went something like this:

Jesse & Ray: We're here today to ask you guys if you's like to be involved in Cornyation this year.
Beers & Bobo: Sure. We haven't been really involved in quite a few years, but that would be fun.
Jesse & Ray: Specifically, we'd like to know if you'd be interested in being Kings Anchovy this year.
Beers & Bobo: (Exuberantly, smiling) I believe we can do that. (And then) That would be great!

The weeks that followed were full of planning, and then parties (Thanks for letting us hang out with you guys, Tim Campion & Allison Little!), and then, eventually, Cornyation. Friends and family members stepped up and volunteered to do all kinds of things. Our friends Fred, Tom, and Craig put on a fantastic Cornyation fundraising party. The great people at European Artisan Upholstery got to work making a beautiful throne for for two kings. Greg Mannino began sketching and creating some of the most amazing costumes. Gloria Liu recruited and choreographed some beautiful tappers. Friends from near and far found it in their hearts to volunteer their time and talent (and sass) to be part of our court. Still others gave generously to the cause with money and checks and credit cards. It was overwhelming and humbling to experience so many acts of generosity and kindness.

When Cornyation ended lots and lots of people approached us and asked about the experience. "How was it? Did you survive? What was your favorite part?" The favorite part answer is easy. People. Old friends, deli customers, new friends, family members, strangers. People. A few weeks before Cornyation there was a great Kings Coming Out party (Thanks, Elaine!) held at El Mirador hosted by Chris Hill (King Anchovy 2015). There were at least half a dozen former Anchovies at the party, and they were (and are) some of the nicest and coolest folks ever. They all had little bits of advice to offer us. One told us that the trick to a successful Fiesta as King Anchovy was to "Try to stay drunk, not too drunk, but just drunk enough." Almost every one of them told us to get ready to have the best time and to savor every minute of it. Other sage wisdom included the necessity of "a bottle of really good tequila backstage."

We really did have the best time and we really did try to savor every minute of it. We will remember the experience fondly. It was an outstanding Fiesta for us, thank you. And next year, at the Kings Coming Out party, we'll be right there with a nugget or two of advice of our own.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I haven't posted in a while. For the usual reason: I didn't really feel like I had anything to say. That's not to say that there hasn't been anything going on. There's been plenty going on, and maybe I'll gather my thoughts enough to write something about Cornyation sometime soon. Maybe I'll post a word or two about our fantastic vacation in Cancun. But lately I've been thinking about relationships.

The thought that keeps going around and around in my head is that each relationship is unique. Each relationship is defined by the people who are in that relationship. For that reason, I feel that it's not just unfair - it's impossible - for anybody outside of the situation to make any judgements about a relationship.

It's difficult sometimes when you observe a situation in which someone you care about seems to be on the receiving end of some sort of mental or emotional or physical abuse. But here's the thing: you or I have no way of knowing what's going on with those two (or three) people. We may hear someone's side of the story, and we may choose to believe that side of the story without giving consideration to the fact that there may be several versions, several points of view to consider.

A friend recently approached me to ask what I thought about the prospect of marriage - theirs, not mine. I did not feel qualified to offer advice, per se, but I did offer my opinion that getting married is something you do because you want to do it - not because your friends or family continue to ask, "When are you guys going to tie the knot?" What's right for one relationship may not be right for another, I told my friend. You have to do what is right for you.

In another scenario, someone I know recently ended their marriage. There's no way that anybody but that couple can know everything that led to the decision for the two of them to part ways. There. Is. Just. No. Way. I don't care what you (or anybody else) heard. It's not fair for you or me to say it was one person's (or the other person's) fault. Too often we hear judgements being shared as to what went wrong and who was to blame.

My advice to you, gentle reader, and to myself, is to be careful and thoughtful about how we respond in situations where relationships are called into question. Similarly, we might want to be a little more careful and thoughtful about what we share on social media. Asking friends to support the rantings of a scorned spouse may backfire once you've cooled down (or sobered up) from a particularly torrid weekend.

To make a long story very, very short: BE NICE.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


Maybe something like this has happened to you. You're going to your family's place at the lake for the first time. You've never been there. And you're driving several hours to get there. You ask them for the address so that you can enter the information in your navigation system (most likely your phone). But your family member doesn't know the actual address. Well, either they don't know the address or they just want to withhold the information so that they can say instead, "Let me tell you how to get there. It's really easy to find."

And then. And then there's a really long narrative that includes phrases like "the second big curve" and "the new McDonald's, not the old one on Hwy. 69," and other equally vague (and frustrating) verbiage that alludes to points to watch for along your way to the new lake house. But you make the most of it and try to find your way using these "directions." Several phone calls happen next. Phone calls that sound like this: "Where are you?" "I don't know where we are. We were following your directions, and now we're in another town." "Oh, you must have missed the turn by the old Conoco station. Stay where you are and we'll come get you." "Where are you?"

This all happened a few years ago. These same family members have changed their view regarding directions. They're singing a new song. They demand, "Just give me the address with the zip code and I can plug it into my iPhone." Really? Now you're interested in actual physical addresses? Not just "down the road a piece pass the second big hill take the third right at the second flashing light?"

But there are still holdouts. Another dear relative just a few weeks ago said something like this: "Let me tell you how to get there. You know how Shady Brook runs over here? Well, don't go that way, go the other way over here. It curves around and then you can catch Shady Brook on the other side. You know it dog-legs back in there." I asked for the address. I got dog legs. The look on my face must have read as confusion, because my relative quickly added, "Surely you've gotten better at taking directions, Mike." My thought was: Better at taking directions? Have you gotten better at giving directions? Dog-legs? Really? Are you sure it doesn't squirrel-tail back there? Maybe it turtle-necks. Seriously.

And then there's the other extreme. The guy who enters his desired destination on his phone and then takes not Route A, not Route B, but rather Route C or D, because he's convinced that there'll be less traffic or maybe he thinks it'll be a more scenic route. My take on that - just be aware that you may find yourself cruising through heavy crime areas of the inner city. Just saying'.

I love the technology we use now to find out how to get to where we need to be. I remember using maps. I remember looking businesses up in the phone book and then calling them and asking how to get there. I can't imagine doing that now. I don't like to think about how hard it would be to figure out navigation without Siri or the nice Google lady who tells me, "In one thousand feet, turn left." Just give me the address with the zip code. Siri (or somebody) will do the rest.

Monday, March 7, 2016


These guys right here. If you ever have the opportunity to spend a little time with Fred & Tom & Craig, do NOT pass it up. They will probably buy you a drink. They will most likely feed you a delicious meal. They will have you laughing your ass off. And without a doubt, they will make you feel really special. What else could you want?

You may or may not have heard that Mr. Beers and I have been tapped to be Kings Anchovy this year. Yep, we have. It is an honor. It is a very cool thing. Of course, we're following in the footsteps of lots of cool Kings Anchovy (and one special Queen Anchovy - Hi, Jody!) of past years. Once the Cornyation folks notified us of the decision that we would be this year's kings, after we did our happy dance for a little while, we shared the news with our friends and family. If all of that sounds like Greek to you, you might want to look at www.fiestacornyation.org or check out the Fiesta Cornyation facebook page.

So, yeah, we shared the news with our friends, and Fred & Tom & Craig immediately said, "We want to help. We want to do something. We'll have a party."  What they ended up doing was hosting a very successful, very fun fundraising event in their beautiful home. And you know, when you're as wonderful as these guys are, other wonderful people want to help you, too. Their friends stepped up and helped with everything from food to door prizes, from set-up to clean up. It was really a beautiful thing.


Friday, December 18, 2015


Back around this time of year in 2011 (Wasn't that, like, yesterday?), Mr. Beers and I were planning our annual pilgrimage to New York City. We've been going to the city for Christmas for quite a while, so this wasn't anything new. What was new was that the state of New York, earlier in the year, had decided that it was okay for people to marry whomever they loved. Mr. Beers and I started talking about the possibility of getting married on this particular trip. We shared our feelings about this with a few people. Those feelings were mostly feelings of uncertainty since getting married had never seemed like anything that would really be feasible for us. We thought about it and talked about it and researched it and found out enough to think that we might actually be able to do it. Still there were rather loud voices in our heads telling us that it might not happen - that somebody would say, "Wait a minute. You can't do that." You see, since it had never been possible in the past, it was hard to imagine that finally we could just go get married. Like I said, we shared these thoughts and feelings with a few people - a couple of whom were Bob and Melanie Maxham, dear friends and regular customers at W. D. Deli (and, not incidentally, the parents of Will, our beautiful godson).

A few days before we were to leave for New York, Bob and Melanie came to lunch. Melanie had a small package of something wrapped in aluminum foil. She explained that it was a fruit cake that she had made, and that she wanted to give to us for - not just for Christmas, but also as a wedding cake. There was a time when fruit cake was a traditional wedding cake, and this one was made from a recipe that was Melanie's grandmother's. It was a such a sweet gesture, and that fruitcake traveled with us to Manhattan, and was unwrapped and enjoyed at a champagne brunch at Les Halles in the financial district immediately following our wedding at the city clerk's office on December 28, 2011. Since we weren't sure that the wedding would happen, as I said, we had only told a few people about it. But even those few people got excited enough about the prospect of this celebration that we ended up being surrounded by the sweetest group of eleven friends and family members from New York, Texas, and Maryland. The whole day was - there are no words, really - very special. 

The fruitcake was delicious. Once we were home, I asked Melanie to share the recipe and she graciously did. I don't think she'd mind my sharing it with you. When she gave it to me it was written beautifully - not only a recipe, but a story as well, with anecdotal notes letting you know that she used to help make this cake when she was a child, crushing vanilla wafers and graham crackers with a rolling pin. I'll give you a slightly abbreviated, less lovely version. You know what, never mind, I'm gonna leave it the way Melanie wrote it. Another nostalgic note on this recipe is that some of the amounts on some of the ingredients say things like "a can or half a bag of coconut" and a "box of graham crackers," harkening back to a time when things like coconut and graham crackers came in a standard size. Here we go:

Sybil Howard Sims' Ice-Box Fruitcake

1 box vanilla wafers
1 box graham crackers
1 quart (4 cups) chopped pecans
1 box golden raisins
1/2 bag or one can sweetend cococut
16 oz. can evaporated milk
1 bag marshmallows
16 oz. maraschino cherries, drained but retain liquid
1 - 2 cups dried cherries, depends on how much you like dried cherries

This was Melanie Sims Maxham's grandmother's recipe. and she made this cake at Christmas.  Even people who say, "Oh, I don't like fruitcake" will eat this one up.  It keeps a long time in the refrigerator, and travels well if you want to send it in the mail.

You can make this by yourself, but Melanie doesn't recommend it, as it is much easier with help.  Before you begin making the cake, get your pan(s) ready.

 It will all fit into one bundt pan, and that makes a nice presentation, but it is hard to get out of the pan.  Typically, she will use a small cake pan, and four mini-cheesecake pans with removable sides.  That way, we have cake at home, and little cakes to give away.  You will need to line the pans with waxed paper or cling film.  Melanie uses waxed paper on the bottom of pans with removable sides, and cling film on anything else.  If you use cling film, use enough so it extends over the sides of the pan, you will pull on this to remove the cake from the pan.  Don't worry if it wrinkles, it doesn't matter. I used small loaf pans and it filled three.

Crush the vanilla wafers and graham crackers very fine.  A food processor works well, as does placing the wafers and crackers in a paper bag and letting a child crush them with a rolling pin.  The paper bag / rolling pin combo was my job when I was a child.

In a VERY large bowl, mix the pecans. raisins, coconut and cherries.

Gradually add the crushed vanilla wafers and graham crackers, stirring thoroughly.

Put the marshmallows and evaporated milk in a large heavy-bottomed pan over low heat.  This scorches easily, so stirr constantly until the marshmallows have completely melted.  Remove mixture from heat and let stand until it cools slightly.

Pour the marshmallow mixture a little at a time into the bowl over the other ingredients.  This is where it's really good to have help.  One person pours the marshmallow mixture, and the other mixes.  You will have to mix this together with your hands.  Latex or food service gloves are a really good idea for this part.  At this point, you need to work fast, because as the marshmallow cream and the mixture come together it will get stiff quickly.  If it is too dry, add some of the liquid you reserved from the maraschino cherries.  It will be very sticky.

Once the ingredients are thoroughly combined, start placing into the pans, pressing the mixture down firmly.  Your gloves will be very sticky by this time, so placing a piece of waxed paper over the top of the pan to press on is helpful.

Put the pans into the refrigerator to chill.  I usually leave them in there for a couple of days before I try to unmold the cakes.  Keep uneaten cake in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Shift

Somewhere along life's long road up to where we are right now, we shifted gears. Our feelings about Christmas have changed quite a bit. We've moved on from first gear, I guess, when we used to take the catalog and circle all the things that we wished for Santa to bring for Christmas. We stopped making lists of what we hoped to see under our tree on the 25th of December. It was a long and gradual change.

These days we don't anticipate the arrival of Malibu Barbie in a shiny plastic Corvette nearly as much. Instead we look forward to things like Christmas cards with pictures of friends and family (Can you believe how he/she has grown?!). We get excited about having the opportunity to visit with dear friends at holiday parties (where, incidentally there has also been a gradual change as the years have gone by - more about the food, less about the cocktails).

The gifts are still there, and they're plentiful. But they aren't necessarily in a wrapped box with a ribbon. Nothing from a catalog. Not even from a store. More often these gifts are the ones we're the most grateful for - the smile, the hug, the beautiful music at church on Christmas Day. The cards with thoughtful notes. The great food shared with wonderful people. Priceless gifts.

The shift to this particular gear is not always smooth. There are almost always bumps in the road along the way. But eventually the road gets a little smoother, the hugs last a little longer and life is really, really good. Here's hoping you have a great holiday season. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.  Now go finish your shopping & baking & wrapping and crack open a fresh box of wine.