Tag Archives: glee

23 Reasons to Love My Readers

Today on Alphabet City: As the countdown to the new Poptimistic blog begins, Jon Paul looks back at the 23 Most Popular Alphabet City Posts of 2010.

Thank you to the thousands of readers from around the globe who have spent time in Alphabet City.  You’re a diverse bunch with varied tastes—from eco-friendly travel to gay hook-up apps—there’s been a little bit of something for everyone in 2010.  And you’re always surprising me—I mean who knew there were so many Glee fans in Brunei?  In case you’ve missed some of the favorites, I’ve pulled together the Top 23 for you—a little primer on what your fellow Alphabet Citizens have enjoyed.  Why 23?  Because it’s a funny number.  Let me know—did your favorites make the cut?

#1 40, Love: Glee Bargain I’d like to think that my take on Fox TV’s hit show Glee and the producer’s difficulty in portraying Kurt in a more realistic light hit a nerve with the blog-o-sphere.  But judging from the Google searches that linked to the post, I honestly think folks were searching for pictures of cute gay high school student Blaine.  Maybe a channel dedicated to my thoughts on the show is in order?  I think I’d call it KurtiousGLEE.

#2 40, Love: Hello, Meat Grindr No surprise that sex sells, especially to gay boys on the prowl.  My humorous take using the hook-up site during jury duty is one of ABCityblog’s perennial favorites.

A chance encounter with photographer Jamie Beck lead to my favorite Alphabet City publicity shot!

#3 BizSavvyBlogger’s Peek-A-Blog: From Me To You Out of a chance encounter in the blogosphere—courtesy of Whole Foods—blossomed a fun friendship with phenomenal photographer.  The result has been spectacular pictures of me, Chef and our home.  This post gives a peek behind her stylish blog.

#4 Alphabet City’s Episode 1: Whoopi A crazy cat and a mishap with her Oscar, make my encounter with Whoopi a perennial favorite—and the perfect opening to Alphabet City.

#5 BizSavvyBlogger’s Peek-A-Blog: PerrinPost.truth.travel For years travelers have been religiously following the advice of Condé Nast Traveler’s Wendy Perrin.  In this post, I get my longtime friend to dish about how her print job keeps her from blogging 24/7 and what that means for PR folks.

Another Jamie Beck captured moment

#6 40, Love: Tattoo Police I’m an exhibitionist at heart, so I take every chance to show off my tattoos—even on the blog.  According to Google, many people are worried about being “booked” in this tattoo database.

#7 Alphabet City’s: One Night in Bangkok Okay, I’ll admit that I was pandering to my readers with, shall we say, more prurient interests by posting this scandalous excerpt from Alphabet City about a gay sex palace in Bangkok.  But it has one of my favorite comic lines, ever.

#8 Green Globe Trekker: Blue Bahama Mama Thankfully, my readers have rather diverse tastes—especially for eco-travel.  In advance of my panel at Condé Nast Traveler’s World Savers Congress in Singapore, I get the green scoop on The Atlantis.

#9 Kitchen Knightmares: Something Fishy Moroccan Halibut and Carrots from a Bon Appétit recipe is the star of this post—the top viewed recipe related story.

#10 Alphabet City’s Alpha-Beltway This entry is the most-read post related to the Alphabet City Book Tour. While in DC, I get an insider perspective courtesy of old friends, have nauseating John Boehner sighting, and wonder what happened to my favorite Rosalynn Carter outfit.

#11(tie) Tex and the City: Lela & BA Café MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts makes a guest appearance in this post, sharing a picture of his taxi driver’s name Ram Amandeep.  Read it aloud.  That name has become the #2 Google search directing traffic my way.  The first?  “Glee Blaine.”  There’s a joke there, but for now, I’m going to refrain.


40, Love: Virgin Queen My first time with a woman—first time getting a tattoo, of course.  Next to sex, tattoos sells.  I guess they are related in a way.

#13 Kitchen Knightmares: Kiss My Grits After meeting Chef Marcus Samuelsson at a Kraft-sponsored event, I’ll admit developing a little crush.  Will his next restaurant be in Washington Heights?

#14(tie) Alphabet City’s Even Jesus Had a Publicist A rejection from a literary agent who thinks the general public won’t know what a “publicist” does provides an opportunity to excerpt from Alphabet City.


Alphabet City’s Episode 4: Tyra, And Nothing But the Truth Before she was America’s next top media mogul, she was grazing the breakfast buffet and quizzing me about my sexuality.

#16 Alphabet City’s First Excerpt from Episode 13: Happy Soul The online encounter that changed my life.

#17 40, Love: Justice Jo(h)n Paul Unearthing a letter from his father’s papers, I pay tribute to Supreme Court Justice John Paul.

#18 Alphabet City’s First Excerpt from Episode 14: And Baby Makes Three A heartbreaking farewell to a special cast member.  Pet lovers won’t be able to read without crying.

Outside Hanoi's Golden Cock

#19 Green Globe Trekker: iPho Vietnam—Motorbikes & Golden Cock While I’d like to think it’s my lovely description of Viet Nam that makes this post a standout, I believe the name of Hanoi’s gay bar is what calls out to many in their Google searches.

#20(tie) 40, Love: Share, and Cher alike AND Kitchen Knightmares: The Premiere The launch of my cooking show with a nightmare of rancid pork is as compelling to readers as my fighting with neighbors and their kids at the local CSA food pick-up spot.

#22 Tex and the City: The Parent Trap Confronting the question of “are you guys going to have kids?,” I turn to theater reviews for help.

#23 Green Globe Trekker: Costa Rican Eco-Luxe Many of the travel industry’s most pressing sustainability questions have been answered by the Costa Rican trendsetting company Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality.

Jicaro property

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Spit List Recap: Charlie Sheen, Taylor Swift and Recreational Drug Use

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul’s top moments of the 11th Annual Thanksgiving Spit List.

My post-turkey daze ritual is always the same: first, from my kitchen blackboard, I take down and pack away holiday recipes snipped from the pages of Bon Appétit—this year’s Malt-Beer-Brined Turkey with Malt Glaze will go in the fan-favorite file along with 2003’s Sweet Potato Brulee and 2001’s Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Zinfandel.  Then, I can settle in for one more sip of coffee as I reflect on the dinner conversation provided by The Spit List.  Even in the 11th year of the game, the debate was wildly controversial. Here’s a recap of the proceedings.

The Launch.  As tradition holds, I threw out the first pitch: Rupert Murdoch, for using his media empire to advance a debilitating Republican agenda and fanning the flames of the Tea Party insanity.  For background: I launched a quiet protest a few months ago by boycotting the mogul’s media properties.  Honestly, I’d never been a big reader of WSJ so that was easy.  And Fox News?  Please.  What channel is that anyway?  But the New York Post was more complicated—leaving behind PageSix was hard enough (I’m a bold-faced name there after all), but not getting my Michael Reidel Broadway gossip fix was excruciating.  So, I decided I could read that online—for free.  When I fretted to Chef that I felt like I was cheating since I love Fox TV’s Glee, he helpfully suggested that I just not frequent the advertisers for that show.  Since I don’t use Dove hair care products, that sounded like a plan I could get behind.

Pop-Culture.  Speaking of Glee, that phenomenon surfaced multiple times in the always sure to provoke incredulous protests: the Pop-Culture Category.  Scott wanted to spit on Glee’s Rachel and Fin for promoting “too much of a wholesome, all-American image.”  While Jimmy from Madison Facebooked (yes, I did, I made it a verb) in his nomination of Artie—Glee’s differently enabled character, “his character is way too white and geeky to be singing all the cool male vocals.  And, for God’s sake, get him some new glasses and stop wearing those ugly sweaters!”  The table nearly came unglued, until I read Jimmy’s other nomination—Taylor Swift.  Everyone agreed with Jimmy’s assessment, “she can’t sing live if her life depended on it.”  My own nomination of Dancing with the Stars—for giving ridiculous individuals like Bristol Palin some kind of platform—was followed up more specifically by Scott who objected to Jennifer Grey and her nose.  Darrell chimed in with Charlie Sheen, not because he’s just generally out-of-control, but for his unnecessary use of the N** word.  Mike took Charlie’s actions a step further expressing frustration with a class of people who mistreat sex workers.

Social Network.  Nobody at the table seemed to understand my distaste for Kanye West’s Tweets and the ridiculous amount of media attention it has generated.  Really New York Magazine?  So I was happy when Aimee Skyped in from Kabul (she didn’t really, she emailed from Afghanistan, but I just wanted to be Oprah for a second) with her unhappiness for the person responsible for Sarah Palin’s blog who wrote something like, “I hope we drove Democrats crazy by having Bristol as a final contestant on Dancing with the Stars!!”  Damn, there’s that show again.  As Aimee said the woman is crazy not only for dedicating her life to that “whack-a-doo” but also for “thinking that a lame e-list celebrity dancing show will have serious political ramifications.  Dumb-ass.”

Show Stumpers.  Aimee contributed Diandra Douglas to this category reserved for nominations that need added explanation.  Most at the table needed me to explain the background on Michael Douglas’ wife filing a financial compensation lawsuit long after her divorce was finalized—while her son was going to prison, and Michael was off to chemo.  I’m sure she’ll be a contestant on DWTS soon—and then everyone will agree.  Also in this section, Werner nominated Porsche.  Not the car—or a misspelling of Ellen’s wife—but the Fire Island/Key West drag queen songstress.  To be fair, Werner asked for a rule clarification if Porsche would be considered famous enough for the Spit List.  I reluctantly allowed it only because she was briefly Wanda Sykes’ side kick on the comedian’s brief talk show foray.  Porsche’s offense?  Squandering her talent evidently—Werner objects to her deteriorating Ice Palace performance from Friday night to Sunday afternoon.  Gay boys can be tough, I’m telling you.

Show Stoppers.  This is like the Best Picture Oscar—it’s the big kahuna.  The nomination that stops conversation cold.  It was inaugurated several years back when Angela nominated Trig Palin, Sarah’s down syndrome child.  She didn’t like the child being used as a prop—and she also didn’t necessarily believe the child was Sarah’s.  Well, stone cold silence at the table.  Last year, Scott won this category with Rihanna—in the midst of her Chris Brown beating controversy.  He didn’t like her haircut, but still, spitting on a gal when she’s down is pretty strong.  But he stood by it.  This year, hands down, the Show Stopper award goes to Chef for his nomination of a class known as “Recreational Drug Users.”  With a table full of gay boys, including me, who have partied their way around the globe—from Sydney’s Mardi Gras to Montreal’s Black and Blue—you could have heard a pin drop.  But Chef soldiered on, “Believe me, I’m all for legalizing drugs.  But that’s not going to happen here.  And in the meantime, drug use in America is ravaging my home country of Mexico.  It’s tearing it apart.  So every time someone takes a sniff or pops a pill, you are killing someone back in Mexico.”  We all paused for a second to take that in.  Then someone asked, “Could you wait until after New Year’s maybe?”  And then someone else started in on Gwyneth Paltrow and of course we were back to Glee.

But I looked across the table at Chef and smiled.  Proud that he had spoken up and taken an important stand.  We might have been laughingly playing The Spit List, but for a brief moment, the game provided a reminder of the relative comfort and safety we enjoy in America—and that it comes with a privilege.  A duty to say “thanks.”  It’s our freedom that allows us to even have something like The Spit List.  Who knew that 11 years ago, Chloe Sevigny and Scarlett Johansson would lead to this?

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Spit List XI: Tea Party Pat Down

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul sounds an alarm regarding preparations for The Spit List.

Chloe Sevigny was the original Spit List nominee 11 years ago

Confused by the kooky controversy surrounding TSA pat-downs?  Bored by the bogus buzz around Black Friday?  Then turn your attention to that imminently more critical consideration—the question that gets everyone gobbling at Thanksgiving gatherings: Who’s on your Spit List?

For those of you who don’t have time to read an excerpt from Alphabet City about The Spit List origin that includes Chloe Sevigny and the Condé Nast cafeteria, let me lay the ground rules:

  • Your Spit List nominees should be folks you so dislike that if you saw them, you would spit on them.  It is a guttural response based upon a visceral reaction, which means there’s really is no rhyme or reason.
  • You can only spit on famous people—someone that you might see on a red carpet.  It can’t be Bob in accounting.
  • Your Spit List doesn’t have to be long; people can move on and off the list over time.  Scarlett Johansson was on my very first list, but has since moved off.  Although the recent appearance of her lips on Saturday Night Live has me reconsidering.

Did someone just spit on John Boehner?

Friends have tried exporting The Spit List to overseas celebrations with varying degrees of success.  Last I heard, my friend Aimee was debating the delicacies of introducing The Spit List to Kabul based on her limited success with it in Liberia.  At last year’s Spit List 10th Anniversary Celebration, favorite choices included Lou Dobbs and Rihanna, the latter nominated because of a bad haircut that just seems to be getting worse.

WORD OF CAUTION: In a post-election daze, it’s easy to go wild with political appointees to your Spit List.  Believe me, I am all for a full on TSA pat down of the Tea Party baggers.

Gwyneth and a rain of spit?

But from experience, the game is far more fun when there’s a Spit List balance of party officials and pop-culture wackos.  So, for every John Boehner there should be a Gwyneth Paltrow—damn, her Glee appearance is throwing a curve ball at my Spit List.

Good luck, guttural speed, and may your Spit List be thoughtful and controversial.

And by all means, let me know whom made your Spit List.

Excerpt from Alphabet City’s Episode 11: Bold Faced Names

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40, Love: Glee Bargain

This popular post has moved to my new blog PoptimisticCLICK HERE to be taken directly to Glee Bargain.

Please join me at my new blog Poptimistic—the fresh, frank, fun outlook on life. Like Oprah, my life has grown from a single TV show into an entire network.  Thanks to the success of Alphabet City, my award-winning humorous book and blog about my sitcom life, I’m thrilled to launch a new online network called Poptimisitic.  With that charming gay Mary Tyler Moore spirit you know and love, Poptimistic has even more room to explore a fun, fresh, frank approach to life.  So check out my line-up of shows about relationships, food, travel and culture, and start living a Poptimisitic life!

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Tangled Web

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul considers Glee-ifying potential Alphabet City sponsors.

Happily getting my hands dirty with the Sunday NYT

Some days I long for the simplicity of yesteryear—when I was comforted by printed advertisements in newspapers.  It’s one of the reasons that despite training myself to digitally read the New York Times during the week, I insist on subscribing to the printed weekend edition of the Gray Lady.  I actually look forward to getting my hands dirty opening up the Sunday Arts & Leisure section for a clue from the advertising as to what Broadway hits/flops are headed my way, or which ‘70s TV star has a cabaret career courtesy of Feinstein’s at the Regency.  The ads themselves become part of my pop-culture fact-finding mission.

Promos online just don’t give me the same sense of satisfaction.  The great benefit of Internet advertising is supposedly targeting products directly to interested readers thanks to a generous helping of cookies profiling users’ behaviors.  Sometimes, I feel like there’s a mad baker behind the scenes who is just throwing tracking confections at me non-stop.  On Facebook, an ad for “Bichon T-shirts” seems like it has become a permanent part of my home page thanks to missives about my foofy dog Frida.  On Statcounter, I site a I use to track statistics for my own blog, I’ve been getting ads for the gay hook-up site Manhunt 24/7.  Okay, I get it.  I wrote about your competitor Grindr a couple of times on the blog.  Just don’t tell anyone I’ve checked out your site, too.

Things get a little more awkward over at NYTimes.com.  No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to escape the “Portraits of Peninsula” ad campaign from the luxury hotel company.  The black and white portrait features a multi-ethnic cross section of employees—it should give me a good feeling about the inclusiveness and diversity of the company.  But when it popped up next to a story about Arizona’s draconian immigration initiatives, the ad took an unexpected and appreciated political tone.  One click later, and it was next to a story on the continued waste and despair in Haiti.  Boy, that makes you rethink the meaning of luxury—and not in the way I imagine the Peninsula folks intended.

41 years of a Glee-ified existence

Like many bloggers, I am tackling how to incorporate advertisers and sponsors into my site that does not distract from the user experience—but enhances my bottom line.  Today’s NYT’s advertising column by my friend Stuart Elliott, Serving Up Musical Comfort Foodgives me hope.  Marketers are turning to songs from classic musicals like “South Pacific,” “The King and I,” and “Sound of Music” to advertise everything from Hyundai cars to Dove hair care.  The experts interviewed say the songs are like “comfort food” for folks during a recession.  I don’t know about that.  I think it’s the Glee-ification of America that suddenly makes show queens like me popular again.  When Oprah devotes an entire gushing hour to the corny, must see mega-hit show, you know America’s at a musical theater tipping point.  Incidentally, the ads that popped up next to Stuart’s piece?  Bonus miles for cross-country travel on American Airlines and an investment conference in Kazakhstan.  Clearly, the web cookie bakers know about my upcoming book tour.

So don’t be surprised in the next few months when you check out ABCitblog.com and you hear me singing some musical jingles authentically integrating sponsors into the site.  I’m thinking for my insurance company of choice crooning a show-stopping number as Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors… “Suddenly State Farm, is standing beside you…”

Other suggestions?

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The Bodyguard

Today on Alphabet City: Kristin Chenoweth and her hunky male Christmas pinup calendar inspires Jon Paul to reveal more of his cross-country travels with Tyra Banks.  Full Episode 5 now available.

Chef and I decided a few years back that if our little dog Frida were ever an animated character that she would be voiced by singer-actress Kristin Chenoweth.  They both share the same sense of perky spirit and sometimes curls, although I imagine  Kristin has a little more drive—we often refer to Frida as the “laziest dog in the world.”

Frida and Kristin, the resemblance is uncanny

So I follow Kristin’s career with considerable Glee (when is she coming back to my favorite show?), even devouring her memoir A Little Bit Wicked.  Of course I’ve already set my DVR for this Saturday’s Lifetime movie “12 Men of Christmas” where Kristin stars as A NEW YORK PUBLICIST casting a male pinup calendar!  Alessandra Stanley in today’s New York Times refers to it as “a watered-down reworking of Jane Austen’s famous comedy of manners (call it ‘Pride & Pectoral’).”  Sign me up!

Remember the literary agent who told me that a publicist wasn’t a familiar figure in people’s lives?  Well, I’m sure Kristin and Lifetime are about to change all that.

But if not, and you’re still wondering what publicists do, I thought I’d give you more of the behind-the-scenes tales of book tour with Tyra Banks.  You’ve seen only a snippet of this story, and if you forgot how I landed the job with the supermodel then you should probably read Episode 4 first.  Then delve into Alphabet City’s Episode 5: The Bodyguard.

As I was reading the chapter this morning, the non-stop cross-country travel reminded me of George Clooney’s character in the new film Up in the Air.  Would the suave Oscar-winning actor be the right choice to play me in the Alphabet City movie?  Nah, I’d probably ask Frida’s permission to let Emmy-winner Kristin Chenoweth step into the role—she may be the wrong sex, but the attitude is all right.

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There’s Something About Mary

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul reveals his obsession for Mary Tyler Moore.

Some readers have asked why I think of my life as a sitcom when the current American obsession is with reality shows.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m addicted to some of those programs.  But I am not sure where I’d fit in on some of my favorites.  Tap dancers don’t do well on So You Think You Can Dance.  My body image issues are not large enough to force a weigh-in on The Biggest Loser.  My fear of sewing needles precludes me from walking Project Runway.  And if you’ve read any of my Kitchen Nightmares posts, you know why Chef Juan Pablo is better  on Top (Chef).

Instead, a character in a scripted series is how I see myself.  Angela and I often got pegged as Will & Grace, which always offended me—they were kind of cruel to each other.  And just because I’m gay doesn’t automatically make me Kurt in Glee—my competitiveness in high school had shades of Rachel.

Growing up, I developed a crush on Mary Tyler Moore.  Thanks to her fabulous fashions and plucky spirit, Mary became my  role model—and that’s taken me pretty far in life.


JP's early Mary Tyler Moore fashion sense

Here’s more on those early years with an excerpt from Episode 2: Will He Make It After All?

No surprise really that I process my life through the lens of sitcoms and drama series considering that much of my worldview was formed by a steady diet of 70’s programs and variety shows.  Television was an event in my household—an opportunity for the clan to gather round the exotic Sony TV in our garishly ultra mod yellow and green den decorated with matching LeRoy Neiman tennis player lithographs.  Instead of imparting pearls of wisdom around the family dinner table, my father used television as a way to instill morals and values.  Every Sunday, when the new TV guide insert came out in the paper, my father went through it with a highlighter—our cue as to what TV show lessons were on tap for that week.  As such, he set the agenda—and the dial—with favorites like Barney Miller; Welcome Back, Kotter; Soap; and, my enduring role model, Mary Tyler Moore.

As a seven year-old, I spent an inordinate amount of timing thinking and worrying about Mary Richards.

“Will she ever have a steady boyfriend?” I asked my 16 year-old sister, Pam.

“Mary doesn’t need a man to be fulfilled, Paul, that’s the entire point of the show,” she replied exasperated.  Her feminist streak, now fully developed, had emerged when she was two.

“Will Mary ever move into her own house?” I asked my 14-year old sister Paige kicking the soccer ball around our half-acre backyard.

“Nah, her apartment’s pretty fab,” she said, proud of the orange shag carpet in the bedroom she shared with Pam.

“Will we ever meet Mary’s mom?” I asked my own mother who was frying up extra greasy chicken-fried steak for dinner.

“Mary’s pretty independent. She has a nice group of friends.  You should have some friends like her,” she counseled, always worried that I played mostly by myself.

“Where does Mary get her clothes?” I asked my constant feline companion Pfeffa.

“From someone named Evan Picone,” I verbalized for the cat, reading off the designer’s name from the closing credits.

“Will Mary ever get promoted?” I worriedly asked my father at dinner one night.

He was hidden behind the afternoon edition of the Dallas Times Herald, a dying breed of liberal journalism in Texas, and for the most part didn’t engage in conversation with the family at dinnertime.

“Dad, did you hear me? Will Mary ever get promoted?”

Dad knew a lot about work because he was always there.  He peered over the top of the paper.

“You’ll just have to keep watching.”

Week after week, year after year, Mary Richards, her friends and co-workers in the WJM newsroom formed the foundations of my perspective on life.  Mary taught me that things work out in the end—just remember to have on a cute outfit when they do.  She became my role model—perfect job, funny friends, and—after her move to the big city—no interaction with her family.

When Mary’s sassy sidekick Rhoda Morgenstern got her own show and moved to New York City, I dreamed right along, plotting my life in the Big Apple.  Maybe one day I could land my own series, leave behind my family and escape the long shadow of my father.

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