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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In Praise of the San Diego Eagle

You can't SEE the Eagle, but it's there.

It is impossible to express admiration of the San Diego Eagle without first honoring the men who keep it the way that we love it:

- The bar-staff at the Eagle are HAPPY with their jobs, and it shows. I don't have deep knowledge of their day-to-day challenges as employees, but 1) they tend to stay, once they are part of the family, and 2) they don't complain to me. They just share what is new and interesting. In the current economy, this is really saying something. Our brothers behind the bar (and out at the front door) work together as a team, and they hold the craziness of a busy, busy night at bay. Whoever does the hiring is doing a great job, because we have always had some great guys on the team.

Boy Kevin

- Boy Kevin hosts the Red Hankies Night, and is actively working to make them better and better every time. He has big plans coming up, and the news will be coming out soon.

Preston Steel, interviewing the utterly charming Jeremy Stevens
who handed out porn DVD's and answered every question with playful enthusiasm.

- Our own Preston Steel does a masterful, charismatic and focused job of keeping STUD Nights interesting, entertaining, and casually relaxed. He doesn't put the adult-film actors on a remote, inaccessible pedestal - he shows us their fun, human and authentic side.

- Chris and Chip work VERY hard to change the Eagle's calendar to be more relevant in the modern age. Their efforts are paying off big, and their newer, modern perspective on kink and fetish are keeping the old Eagle bar from becoming static or boring.

- The present and former Mr. San Diego Eagles have been provided with an opportunity to learn more about their ability to entertain, educate and guide a crowd.  They've been forced to learn social skills that they will never need to un-learn. How often do we get such an opportunity?

Upper left: Doorman Tom, with boy kevin and Sir Nicholas

- I've known Sir Nicholas longer than the twenty years since he bought the bar and brought it back to being OUR bar. He has a big, big heart. I have never seen him say "NO!" to any request for donations, and I pay attention to such things. He and I are both rather highly-opinionated, Big Dog personalities. Rather than being enemies, we are true friends for life. We tend to lock horns sometimes, and even talk past each other, but we always work it out, like brothers do. I admire him greatly.

Russ in action

- This last Saturday's Mr. San Diego Eagle 2013 Contest shows that Russ can KICK ASS when he runs a team.  I grumbled and growled after last year's contest, but rather than shutting me down, he listened, and incorporated several people's suggestions into this year's effort. It was a TIGHT team, the evening was snappy and flowed well. Together, the team, plus the tallymasters, the Judge's boys, and so many of the folks in the audience (FOUR photographers!), worked together like a well-oiled machine.

We all came together to support our brothers who were stepping up to declare their intention to be more active in our community. This wasn't a "pageant". It was a powerful, shared effort that provides historical continuity. Our Tribe continues its ever-growing history.

Thanks to events like this, and many, many more, we can celebrate: We didn't all die from AIDS, we didn't lose our connection to each other despite being vaporized by a zillion Internet cruising sites, and true community matters. We still need a physical connection, face-to-face, and a way to feel that we are a part of our shared history.

VERISIMILITUDE: the appearance of being true or real: realism, believability, plausibility, authenticity, credibility.
We need a place like the Eagle. We need to feel like our history didn't all go into the landfill when so many good, kinky men died, and their families emptied out their closets and playrooms. We need to know that the traditions of mentoring between the generations can particularly include learning social skills in cruisy environments. Interpreting tricky social signals flying past you is HARD when you're only used to texting. The only way for primates to learn the Courtship Dance is in realtime, in actively social circumstances.

Like at 11:47PM, on a crowded Gear Night at the Eagle.

If you are a well-loved, respected brother in a Tribe, then useful tips are available at all times, from all generations, with no strings attached. In what OTHER gay subculture is this the tradition?  How about Trust, Honor, and Respect. Those have been our watchwords for decades. Not flawlessly, but we keep getting back to them.

When a lonely out-of-town visitor pulls into town, he has a natural, looked-for place to go. He won't find Tribal information on Recon, or Manhunt, or  Those online resources actively dislike local cultural information being promoted. There is no money in it, so it's bad. A local, world-renowned leather bar provides a strong possibility that cruising face-to-face will succeed. Many people don't like the trivializing, vacuous online cruising scene.  If we ever lost the Eagle, we would lose a social opportunity that would scatter our community's meeting-sites, to hard-to-find places.

We still need to continue building community - We got damaged pretty severely by AIDS. The Leathermen's Tribe was hit first, and the hardest. We're picking up the pieces fast, but there is much more work to be done.

We need grounding in a social center that holds historical significance. Imagine demolishing Hillcrest's heart and building a factory. We would all lose a precious part of our community's heart. The same applies to the Eagle. We can't afford to take it, or the people who love it, for granted. The vast majority of the planet doesn't care about such things, but for our special, strongly-loyal subculture, it means everything.

None of us is disposable. If we've learned anything from our history, is that things can change in a flash.  Tomorrow is promised to no one. Life can be random. All that we can do is to appreciate what we have, and thank the people who labor every day to make sure that we continue to have useful, worthwhile and socially-relevant choices.

Many thanks to everyone who has ever done the work, paid or unpaid, to keep our Tribal center at the Eagle alive and well. You're doing us all a world of good.

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