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Posts Tagged ‘Oklahoma City’

So tonight I took Oklahoma’s Most Beautiful Boy to Mickey Mantle Steakhouse in Bricktown. To cut right to the chase, it was a disaster of a dining experience.

Ratings (Key)

Overall: 1.50
Presentation: 0.75
Taste: 2.50
Service Quality: 1.00
Service Promptness: 1.25
Service Accuracy: 2.50
Menu Selection: 3.00
Menu Clarity: 2.75
Value: 1.50
Queer Friendly: 2.50
Hot Staff: 0.75

Lets be clear from the get go that this was not a date, Oklahoma’s Most Beautiful Boy has a husband and despite the fact that I find him extremely attractive (which he knows) this is a friends night out and nothing more. I enjoy his company a lot and so I don’t mind spending a little money on him as one might spend on a boyfriend. Many people don’t understand the dynamics of the relationship and mistake it for, well, whatever. As he often points out, its hard to find a “complete package” of beauty and brains in Oklahoma City. While it was not a date, we do go to nice places and I do expect the same level of service I would expect on a date, after all, it’s not any cheaper because it isn’t a date and I expect to get alot of the same things out of it most people expect on a date, like the ability to talk one on one.

To put it bluntly, the atmosphere, presentation of the food, service and the arrival of the check made me want to vomit. For starters, the place bills itself as a top of the line steakhouse. Its nothing of the sort. Undoubtedly the most over-rated restaurant I have ever had the misfortune of dining in. I wound up leaving $170 on the table for a meal that wasn’t worth $70, this includes the customary tip of 20% which was left out of respect to my dining guest and my desire not to raise a stink right then and there not because it was earned. If I were dining alone, I would not only have not left a tip, but I would have left an address to mail the refund check to and I would have taken the manager back into the kitchen and shown him how to make food presentable before it hits the table.

The atmosphere reminds me of a nice Dennys on the good side of town. People sit right on top of you, so there is no privacy (which makes talking about blowjobs, anal sex and who has a nice penis over dinner and wine without offending neighboring tables difficult) and there is nothing in the place to buffer the sound, so its like sitting in an echo chamber. Here is a hint, fancy restaurant designers: people go to nice restaurants to relax, unwind and enjoy peace and quiet. They also go to talk to the person they are taking out to dinner, to enjoy their company and enjoy being with them. None of these was possible, and I often had to ask Oklahoma’s Most Beautiful Boy to repeat himself, much to his annoyance. I couldn’t hear him over the clatter and roar of the restaurant. If I want to hear everyone yap about their lives, I can go to Applebees or TGI Friday and pay $40 for two including drinks.

The presentation of the food was awful, save the cheesecake which we both agreed was attractively presented. When it arrived, Oklahoma’s Most Beautiful Boy remarked “Wow, I think this is the most attractive thing to come to the table yet”.  I had to agree. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have snapped a picture of it with my iPhone, because the presentation on the desert really was well done. Ironically, it was also the cheapest thing on the ticket and probably the only item not prepared in the restaurant.

His Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo was presented with a touch of class – with four shrimp set at compass points on the rim of the plate and the pasta piled in the center – but it still was not what you’d expect to have gotten for the price. It looked like an Olive Garden specialty. My Surf and Turf was just thrown on the plate with no particular attempt to make it attractive. Neither dish was garnished. Every chef knows that presentation is one of the most important aspects of the dining experience and they made little effort to do so much as throw some parsley at these dishes.

The service was for shit, I have gotten better service at sit down burger places. The server filled the drinks a total of three times, often left them unfilled for a long period of time. The server made an awkward show of reaching across my face and over my plate to remove my lobster tail from its shell without asking me if I’d like it de-shelled. Prior to that, some guy who was not even our waiter walked by and took my shrimp cocktail off the table without a word – and without noticing we were not done with it as there was still a jumbo shrimp clinging to the side. Before I could object after a moment of speechlessness and shock, he was already half way back to the kitchen. A few minutes later, he returned to apologize for taking it, saying he didn’t see the shrimp there and gave me the cocktail back. Never offered to make me another one, or asked me if I wanted it back.

This incident was probably the biggest screw-up of the evening here. Proper procedure in what is supposed to be a high-class restaurant dictates then when you fuck up and snatch someone’s food off their table and don’t realize they weren’t done until you get back to the wash pit, you don’t bring the same thing back to them without offering to make them a new one. First off, it was your error and the establishment should eat the cost. Second, you have just had your grubby little hands all over my food, to bring it back to me and suggest that I eat it is an insult. Finally, you took my food back to the wash pit. How unappetizing is it for you to bring me something from the trash can to consume? Give me a break. Never mind the fact that the kid clearly doesn’t know the first thing about waiting tables in a decent restaurant, if he did he would have asked before reaching to the middle of the table while we are talking to ask if we were done with that dish. Heck, the even do this at family restaurants!

Finally, we get to the bill. Before the check arrived, I asked Oklahoma’s Most Beautiful Boy what the check would be. I wasn’t adding it up and my surf and turf was a  market price item, so the price wasn’t in the menu. He guessed about $80 and I concurred. I felt that was about what it was worth, sort of. When the check arrived for $141.75, we both exhaled at about the same time and said words to the effect of “no way, not worth it”. They charged $75.95 for my surf n turf, and I must say that while the lobster tail was good size, the turf portion of my dinner was barely larger than a business card. I don’t believe it was a 7 oz filet, even if that’s the precooked weight. We both agreed that it wasn’t a $75 plate. Of course, presentation goes along way to making a diner feel like they got a good value

The bottom line: Mickey Mantle is an overpriced steakhouse that touts its ritzy location on the Bricktown canal to the hilt, charges way too much for what they deliver and is extremely over rated. I don’t mind paying for quality, but when you are gonna stick a bill for $170 (including 20% tip) on my table over a diner for two that didn’t even include drinks (Oklahoma’s Most Beautiful Boy rarely drinks), you had better be doing something doing something exceptional to earn your asking prices. At the very least, give me competent service from a wait staff that acts like they have worked in a world-class restaurant before. These hacks were a complete disgrace to the profession. Its clear that the management does not provide training and has terrible hiring procedures.

Now, lest this review find its way to the wait staff who served us this evening, I want them to know that I don’t blame them for the awful experience. I blame their boss. Its clear they were doing the best they could with what they were given. They were polite and caring, but are clearly just ignorant of the proper way to wait tables. The responsibility for that, my friends, rests solely with the management, as it is the management who is ultimately responsible for the performance of the wait staff or lack of it. Oklahoma’s Most Beautiful Boy owns several businesses and while I don’t always agree with his business decisions, there is one thing about his approach to business that is spot on and that is that management is always responsible for the success or failure of the business and satisfaction of the customers. Knowing that, he often chooses to manage everything himself rather than delegate that to anyone else.

The buck stops with the management, period. All failure or success in a business, regardless of who actually screwed up or did good, is a product of the management and therefore they are directly responsible for it. This is something that Mickey Mantle could apply to its business methods. Start taking responsibility for its staff and get them on par with other area restaurants, because this one is far below par to say the least.

I am printing a copy of this blog post (along with a cover letter) and mailing it to the owners of the restaurant with a copy of my receipt along with an address of where they can send me a refund check. The experience was that awful. I wouldn’t recommend Mickey Mantle Steakhouse if it was the last restaurant in Oklahoma City unless they had a dollar menu, because they don’t deliver much above fast-food levels of service.

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Oh, I’m not going to list all of the reasons. Just point out one that’s relevant this time of year. The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.

Like many cities in the United States, there will be a celebration and remembrance of those who lost their lives. Thankfully, one city in Oklahoma is also taking part. But its not Oklahoma City – its Tulsa. That bothers me. This is a capital city. If any city in this state is going to have such a resource first, it should be us. We’re bigger, we have more people and we have more money. Now, this is not an Oklahoma City vs. Tulsa thing, so lets not go there and I’m hardly advocating taking Tulsa’s center away in favor of us getting one. I’m simply expressing outrage that our own folks here haven’t seen fit to get their asses up or together and make it happen here.

As you might expect, the event I mentioned above is taking place at the The Dennis R. Neill Equality Center, which is run by Oklahomans for Equality. For those unaware, thats Tulsa’s community center. Every month of every year, the center plays host to numerous events of all varieties. The center is what allows Tulsa to call itself a gay community and its the glue that holds that community together in trying times. Trying times like when Brandon Patrick was bashed. Who was right there, organizing community support and demanding action? Thats right, OkEq.

Tulsa’s equality center is more than just a building. It provides a place for small, underfunded organizations and community groups to maintain an office and have their meetings. It plays host to numerous safe, responsible gatherings for the queer community. Its where Tulsa Pride comes together, planning happens and the event gets executed. Community members who need help can go there for referrals, information and help. Its a central point for dissemination of information. When an authoritative comment is needed by the media or elected officials on queer folks, its the center that they turn to. Tulsa has all this and we don’t. Why don’t we have it? Well, I addressed that in another recent note.

In 2010, I am going to dedicate as much time, energy and resources as I possibly can to getting a community center off the ground in Oklahoma City. We need it. We’ve needed it for a long time. Not just so transgendered people can be remembered, but so that the queers who inhabit Oklahoma City can become the Oklahoma City Gay Community. Because we don’t have a gay community here, we have a bunch of queers who happen to live near each other.

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Three Cheers for Lazy, Good for Nothing People

These are the kind of blog posts that make my phone ring right after they are posted. Usually, the person calling me tells me I am alienating support, dividing the community and so on. Well, anyone who knows me a little bit knows that if I think something needs said, I’m gonna say it and I don’t really care who it pisses off. Its pretty much become my trademark. It keeps me from getting invited to alot of fancy shindigs and keeps me off a good many holiday card mailing lists. Oh well, less holiday cards means trees saved anyway.

But I am not here to be Mr. Popular. I’m not running for Man of the Year. And I haven’t been nominated for Mr. Nice Guy, the last time I checked. I am a 27-year old gay man who lives in a state where too many of its inhabitants would rather see me dead, which routinely elects officials to office who feel I am not even human and have a government that on all levels wants to deny my rights at every turn.

So it may come as a massive earth-shattering surprise to some people that I don’t quantify my existence by a measure other than how many people like me – or if Mr. High and Mighty who sits on the Board (or owns) of whatever Gay, Inc. establishment happens to be most revered at the moment – likes me or thinks I am a great guy or whatever.

Could it be that maybe, just maybe, I am the way I am because I think its whats going to get my desired results? Maybe I have a different idea about how things should be done. And since we’ve tried it their way for what, the last 2,000 or so years, maybe we could try something new and see if it works better that way? Yeah, maybe thats it.

A Kick in the Ass

The other night, I had a wonderful conversation with a man from Jackson, Mississippi. Every once in a while I have an interaction with someone who makes me think that what I do is worthwhile. That perhaps, despite the mental and emotional toll it takes on me (and yes, it is taxing) maybe what I do actually accomplishes something and is somehow worthwhile. So who is this person? Well, his name is James Paul Johnson. He is a transgendered man. He and I share a few things, one of them is the fact that we firmly believe in moving gay rights in our respective geographical areas forward. We talked extensively about the topics and ideals covered in this post.

While Mississippi and Oklahoma are hundreds of miles apart from each other, there are many commonalities. If you’re sitting in someplace like Chicago or San Francisco or New York City this post may not resonate with you that much. It might be hard to see things from my vantage point. In such areas, when something needs to be organized or gotten done, its relatively easy to make it happen. You get people together, you talk about it, make a plan of attack and put it into play. Cities built in days, mountains moved in minutes. No sweat.

STP: Same Ten People

Paul Thompson, the former co-chair of OKC Pride, Inc. did not see eye to eye with me on a great many things. He is an older man from a different time and a bygone era. But he is intelligent and while somewhat annoying at times, there are some things that he gets that few others manage to. One such thing was a philosophy he shared with me one time which he called “STP”. It stands for Same Ten People.

He was basically saying that everything that needed to be done in our area – if it got done – was done by the same ten people. It was the same ten people who sit on all the boards, make all the efforts, show up to all the meetings and by and large do everything. What we did not talk about is the fact that the STP also get very set in their ways and sometimes tend to exclude when they should include. For obvious reasons, this is undesirable when you are trying to advocate for civil rights. Because ten people simply cannot do it all. It takes far more than ten, or twenty or fifty or a hundred folks. It takes everyone, working together at the same time and from the same page to make some things happen.

The Sarah Palin Connection

So I recently decided to picket Sarah Palin’s book signing in Norman. I did it not because I disagree with her right to sell her book or even out of a personal hatred for her. I do not like the woman, that much I do admit. I did it because I know she is getting ready to run for the White House in 2012 and I don’t want to see that. Her views on homosexuality offend me and I have every confidence that she would use her office to represent her right-wing wacko constituents exclusively.

Almost immediately, I start getting messages and phone calls and “encouragement” from folks to not do this event. I was informed that “the community” (whoever the fuck that is – oh I’ll get to this little gem in a minute) had decided that it would be best if we did not respond to Palin and give her attention. Some Democrats want to let her think she has a clear shot at the oval office so that she runs and loses, allowing a re-election of Barack Obama to be a slam dunk. They are afraid that my little rally may discourage her from running.

I’m not going to get into whether or not another four years of Obama would be a good thing or a bad thing here. But what I am going to ask is this: so fucking what? Sarah Palin is a snake in the grass. She is a terrible person with terrible morals. She is a homophobe and she has shown by her speech and actions that she is incapable of representing all of her constituents fairly and equally. Its imperative that every elected official represent all of their constituents – yes, even the ones who are gay – equally. I don’t want her in my White House and I think I have good reason not to.

The bottom line is that these are my civil rights that they either want to play political football with or are too lazy to defend, depending on whether we are talking about the do nothing and good for nothing crowd or the let Obama have a cake walk crowd. Its inappropriate and its insulting to think that I should just sit down, shut up and go along with it. Rather than support me in potentially sparing our nation from having a Sally Kern clone in the White House, they’d rather shout me down.

Déjà Vu

Of course, this would not be the first time I have had to deal with headaches created by those who should be helping organize rather than being an obstruction. My very first experiences with rocking the boat in Oklahoma City gay politics was when I heard that the creeps at Westboro Baptist Church were going to picket Moore High School. I started calling around to see who was going to counter-protest and I was shocked to hear that there was no protest, it had been decided it would be best to ignore WBC and not give them attention.

Well, thankfully the order to stay home – which was originally issued by people connected to Cimmaron Alliance Foundation on information and belief – was ignored and there was a HUGE counter protest. While my video does not do it justice, there were about 2,000 people there from all walks of life to condemn it. I was elated. I talked to all of the media there – including the state newspaper – The Daily Oklahoman. Which is why I was shocked that there was no coverage in the Daily Oklahoman about the issue. Not a single item. The rest of the media was silent on the subject as well. I attributed that to the fact that its a bigot-owned newspaper and at an Oklahoma Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus (OGLPC) meeting I was at, I brought this up and demanded that we as a group write a letter chastising the Oklahoman for not covering what was obviously a newsworthy event. OGLPC voted to approve the letter and send it.

When it wasn’t printed as well, I started asking around. I found out that the chair of that organization – Paul Thompson, ordered the Secretary – Victor Gorin (who is a reporter for Metro Star – the regional gay newspaper) – not to send the letter. The reason? Because The Daily Oklahoman was in on the media blackout with the Cimmaron Alliance assholes and they didn’t want to upset the apple cart. I was livid and resigned my membership in that organization, but not before I had choice words for all involved. Victor and I are still friends as I realize he was in a tough position and made a call to follow an order from a chair and he did report his actions voluntarily so its not like he was hiding it.

Shortly after the Moore High School diabolical, I decided it was time for some changes to be made at OKC Pride, Inc. To make a long story short (you can read the only version of the story over on Gossip Boy – here, here, here, here, here and here.), I found myself being cannibalized by my own gay community and hung out to dry. I eventually resigned that organization as well and wrote it off its prospects for reform and being made useful as hopeless.

The point is this: where I come from, silence is consent. This is a principle of parliamentary law and I believe in it. It means that if you see something going on around you and you don’t speak up in oppositions, then you are deemed to be content with whats going on. Its a fair assumption to make. If you allow something to take place with your knowledge and you say nothing, then you may as well be apart of doing it yourself.

Well, there are some things I wont be a party to. Knowingly undermining gay rights is one of them.

I’ve Wanted to Run Away

At the time the Pride diabolical happened, I wanted to run away. I was scared, hurt and angry all at the same time. I seriously considered moving out of state and changing my name as well as a variety of other cowardly options. Thankfully, I did none of the above. I am a fighter and I don’t give up. I am not used to not having my way and I see no point being a quitter now. As I look back on that incident, I have decided that what does not kill me will make me stronger. I am more effective, more efficient and more useful to myself, others and my causes because of what I have been through.

Lets Clear This Up Right Now

In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: there is no gay community. There never has been, there isn’t now and its fair to wonder if there ever will be. What we have instead are hundreds and maybe even thousands of gay people who refuse to do anything for their community that does not involve drinking alcohol. Its hard to get more than a handful to agree on anything and even harder to get more than the STP to show up to a meeting. Regardless of who the cause is or who called the meeting. One of the most respected leaders of this community once remarked to me how hard it was to get folks out even to meetings that are called by this person.

If Richard Ogden (he is the head of Cimmaron Alliance – which I have nothing but contempt for) came to me today and said “Keith, lets change the condition of things here. Real change. No buddies, no holds barred, lets make it happen.” my response would be “Richard, where do I sign on?”. But thats not the way it is here. There are a good number of folks here who simply wont work together no matter what the cause is because of petty disagreements and personal opinions.

Until we get people who are willing to work together for common goals and learn the art of compromise, then we don’t have a gay community. We have a bunch of gay folks who happen to leave somewhat close to each other who meet for drinks. Thats a drinking club, dinner club or social club. Its not a community by any stretch.

If You Don’t Want to Get Involved

If you are one of those people who never wants to get involved but always wants to complain, I’ve got two words for you: fuck you. Stay home. Bitch from your easy chair. Send messages to your friends and encourage them to take your non-researched position on the issue. Do whatever it is that you do that has not done a single god-damned thing for anyone, anywhere at anytime. While you are being a useless bump on a log, I will be out fighting for my rights and by extension yours too.

Quite frankly, I am tired to the traditional Gay, Inc. approach of slow and steady with my civil rights. I want them now, I want them all and I am willing to fight for them right here and right now. I personally don’t want to get married right now, hell, I don’t even have a boyfriend right now. But I would like to have that opinion open to me in the future should I wish to. So gay marriage is an issue that I am concerned about and I feel entitled to comment and take a position on it, which I have done in previous notes.

Yes, you bet I am young, dumb and full of hell fire. I’m impatient and I am demanding. People who wait for good things to come to them will likely be waiting a while. We make our own luck in life. If you’re not actively looking out for your interests, how can you expect others to do so?

I’m Not Always Right – I’ll Listen to Others

Lets be clear, I’m not always right. Not by a long shot. But at least I am doing something to try and make my corner of the world better. Even if its the wrong thing. And I’d rather do the wrong thing than do nothing at all.

Another important note to make is the fact that I will listen to opinions expressed by other folks who also put themselves out there. People like Brittany Novotny, who constantly give of themselves personally, professionally and politically to try and change. I wont always agree with their decision or position, but I will respect them for it and you can bet that when they have something to say about something I am doing, I am going to find the time to listen and carefully consider what they say.

The Bottom Line

I’m going to hold my events and I’m not going away anytime soon. And even if I do go to Boston as discussed, I’ll still be here on a regular basis. If you aren’t out there trying to make a contribution to our struggle, don’t come and yell at me about how I am doing it all wrong. If you have constructive criticism, then please offer it – constructively. If you want to help, then by all means get involved. If you don’t know how to help, then ask. If you respectfully disagree, then do so respectfully. But if you just want to bitch and moan, call someone who cares.

Because we as a species need to get our act together. Right here and right now.

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