Health XXXL

AIDS Memorial Quilt in the Castro: A gorgeous celebration of life

On this cold Valentine’s Day I was whisking past storefronts in the Castro, when something grabbed my attention. Through the window of Under One Roof, between 18th/19th on Castro, a vibrant set of patterns caught my eye. From these patterns my brain started to discern words. From these words came emotions that cannot be described.

Rock Hudson Memorial Panel On Display at Tower Location, Next to Cafe Flore

Flanking the left and right sides of Under One Roof are portions of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Upon walking through the doorway you will see the third, I repeat third panel ever made. This panel has the name of Bobbi Campbell. I didn’t know who that was. If you also don’t know, read on.

Bobbi Campbell (January 28, 1952 – August 15, 1984) was an early United StatesAIDSactivist. In September 1981, Campbell became the 16th person in San Francisco to be diagnosed with Kaposi’s sarcoma. He was the first to come out publicly as a person living with the then unnamed disease. He became known as the “KS Poster Boy” (even appearing with his partner on the cover of Newsweek on August 8, 1983), and wrote a column for the San Francisco Sentinel from January 1982 describing his experiences. Campbell, who was also a registered nurse, joined the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at the time of the health crisis in early 1982; in his “sister” persona as Sister Florence Nightmare, he co-authored the first San Francisco safer-sex manual, “Play Fair!”, written in plain sex-positive language, offering practical advice and adding an element of humour.

Bobbie Campbell Panel on Display at Under One Roof

The panel on the right has a name I know very well, disco legend, Sylvester. Mixed among other names I didn’t know, the message was clear. It’s rare, in this day and age, for something to speak so loudly that isn’t fueled by the internet or electricity.

Disco Legend Sylvester Panel on Display at Under One Roof

Vivid impressions captured in this post are from the same tour you can do. Either start at the old Tower building, next to Cafe Flore, or at Under One Roof. Between these two points stop at Body, between QBar and 440, and Catch, next to Pottery Barn.

While the tower location holds the largest display, Catch is the most historical as this was the original headquarters for the Names Project Foundation before moving to Atlanta.

Largest portion on Display Next to Cafe Flore

I can’t tell you how sad it makes me we don’t have a permanent display of the quilt in the Castro. It’s a living history of one of the darkest and brightest moments in our history.

Leathermen of SF, Title Holders on Display at the old Tower Records

This display is only going on until Feb. 20th, so get your ass to see it this week.

To donate to the Names Project, click here:

Fast Facts from the official AIDS Memorial Quilt Website:
• Funds Raised by The Quilt for Direct Services for People with AIDS: over $4,000,000 (U.S.)
• Number of visitors to the Quilt: +18,000,000
• Number of names on the Quilt: more than 91,000
• Size: 1,293,300 square feet
• Viewing time: To see the entire Quilt spending only one minute per panel – over 33 days

Video of Bobbi Campbell, Speaking in Front of The Democratic Convention — 1984

Living XXXL: Italia Vogue Plus Size Model Poses Nude, Next to a ‘Regular’ Size Model

Katya Zharkova is not only stunning, she is marking a new era beauty.  From Vogue Italia to the latest edition of PLUS Model Magazine she’s making a statement by simply being herself.

Featured on the cover of Vogue Italia last year, the images of Katya shot by Steven Meisel are his typical sexplosion.

Katya on Piano

This month Katya is featured in a spread in Plus Model Magazine to shape a perspective on shape. Side by side the photos speak for themselves, as do her standalone images.

Ideals of beauty, side by side

Video from the Vogue Shoot:


Video from a recent interview, in Russian:

Mixing Magic Mushrooms Into Your Diet, Shown to Have Positive Effects

When you don’t munch the entire bag, and lock lips with the ghost of Jerry Garcia as a result, magic mushrooms have been proven to have long lasting positive effects on behavior.

French Shrooms Shot by Bearron 2005

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) — Psilocybin, or “magic mushrooms,” can make people more open in their feelings and aesthetic sensibilities, conferring on them a lasting personality change, according to a study by Johns Hopkins researchers.

Read more:

Amsterdam Not So Dope Anymore, Plans in Motion to Ban Cannabis Smoking for Tourists By End of Year

Amsterdam is extinguishing their famed tolerance for marijuana smoking. While they aren’t banning pot smoking entirely, the Dutch Cabinet will be limiting coffee shops to 1,500 memberships. The idea is the coffee shops will have to choose their regular customers over tourists for membership slots.

The best memories I never had were in Amsterdam. If you haven’t been I suggest you put your bong down, wipe the neon orange from your fingertips, get off the couch slowly so you don’t spill bong water all over your floor,  and book yourself a ticket ASAP.

Once you book your ticket write it on a post-it, and stick it to your bong–immediately–so you don’t forget.

Classic Amsterdam, Trip in 2003

According to the Associated Press:

The Dutch Cabinet says it will push ahead with plans to force anyone wishing to purchase marijuana at the country’s weed cafes to first obtain an official pass — a move designed to curtail tourists from buying the drug.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte says he plans to begin rolling out the system in the country’s south later this year, an area popular with French and German buyers, before moving on to Amsterdam’s famed tourist cafes later in his term.

Justice Ministry spokesman Wim van der Weegen said Friday the supreme court must still rule on whether foreigners can be blocked entirely.

Regardless, he said the plan will prevent cafes from issuing more than 1,500 permits in all, forcing shop owners to choose between tourists and their regular customers.

Reading material left in our hotel room, Amsterdam 2003

Ban, or no ban,  the rest of the world could definitely take a queue from the Netherlands on their harm reduction drug policy. Wikipedia sums the Netherlands drug policy, ever so nicely:

The drug policy of the Netherlands officially has five major objectives:

  1. To prevent recreational drug use and to treat and rehabilitate recreational drug users.
  2. To reduce harm to users.
  3. To diminish public nuisance by drug users (the disturbance of public order and safety in the neighbourhood).
  4. To combat the production and trafficking of recreational drugs.[1]

Most policymakers in the Netherlands believe that if a problem has proved to be unsolvable, it is better to try controlling it and reducing harm instead of continuing to enforce laws with mixed results. By contrast, most other countries take the point of view that recreational drug use is detrimental to society and must therefore be outlawed. This has caused friction between the Netherlands and other countries about the policy for cannabis, most notably with France and Germany. As of 2004, Belgium seems to be moving toward the Dutch model and a few local German legislators are calling for experiments based on the Dutch model. Switzerland has had long and heated parliamentary debates about whether to follow the Dutch model on cannabis, most recently deciding against it in 2004; currently a ballot initiative is in the works on the question. In the last few years certain strains of cannabis with higher concentrations of THC and drug tourism have challenged the current policy and led to a re-examination of the current approach; for eg. ban of all sales of cannabis to tourist in coffee shops from end of 2011[2][3]

While the legalization of cannabis remains controversial, the introduction of heroin-assisted treatment in 1998 has been lauded for considerably improving the health and social situation of opiate-dependent patients in the Netherlands.[4] In 2010 research shows that the “heroin-junkies” have disappeared from the streets of the Netherlands and the treatment is upgraded from a test-trial to standard treatment for otherwise untreatable addicts. Also, the number of heroin addicts has dropped by more than 30% since 1983.[citation needed]

Pass the Dutchie…Wait Dutchies, don’t pass this ban!!!

WSJ Article Leaves Out Important Facts on HIV Antiviral Slowing Transmission, also the study they reference was 97% hetero

Perhaps I’m reading this article wrong or being too critical. Bottom line, I’m confused. While it’s exciting to hear antivirals are slowing HIV transmission, something the gay community has talked about for sometime, the WSJ article that ran today leaves out important points of clarification.

My concern with the way this is positioned is it doesn’t specify if the insertive partner or the receptive partner is infected. Perhaps the study digs deeper into this, but I haven’t been able to locate it.

While I understand antivirals reduce the infection, even without antivirals women are less likely to pass HIV to their male partners. So if a woman is infected, even without medication or condoms, it is very unlikely the male will get it (something like 2 – 5 %). Reversed however, if the male partner is infected, the female partner is very likely to get it. (somewhere around 85%)

This is an important point that is missing.  Also interesting, this study was 97% heterosexual. The question remains, in these couples how many are infected men and how many are infected women? If most of these are infected women the transmission is unlikely, regardless of the study findings.

I sent the reporter a note. Will keep you posted on what I hear. Just feels like he needs to expand on the point he made and provide additional context from the study.

This is especially true for folks not as familiar with transmission. Read the full article and let me know what you think.

Excerpt below from the WSJ on HIV Antivirals Slowing Transmission:

Treating AIDS patients with antiretroviral drugs makes them strikingly less infectious, researchers said Thursday, in a landmark finding that is likely to reinvigorate efforts to slow the pandemic.

The results were so overwhelming that an independent panel monitoring the research recommended the results be released four years before the large, multi-country study had been scheduled to end.

“This new finding convincingly demonstrates that treating the infected individual—and doing so sooner rather than later—can have a major impact on reducing HIV transmission,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the U.S.’s National Institutes of Health, which funded the study.

The randomized trial of 1,763 couples—in which one partner had HIV and the other didn’t—confirms a growing body of less rigorous research and is likely to inject new urgency into treatment campaigns, which could have the added benefit of slowing the spread of HIV. AIDS workers have dubbed this “treatment as prevention.”

Euthanasia Coaster Puts a New Twist on Dying

The Euthanasia Coaster puts a new twist on assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

For more amazing images click on the deconcrete link

As covered by the blog Deconcrete.

In an impressive way to take a last journey to cease existence, Julijonas Urbonas embarks us on a roller coaster which provokes a lack of oxygen supply to the brain, by riding at a maximal speed of 100 m/s. For those who decide to stop living under unbearable pain, this assisted dérive can teleport them into a gratifying last emotion far away from a conventional gloomy hospital:

“Euthanasia Coaster” is a hypothetic euthanasia machine in the form of a roller coaster, engineered to humanely – with elegance and euphoria – take the life of a human being. Riding the coaster’s track, the rider is subjected to a series of intensive motion elements that induce various unique experiences: from euphoria to thrill, and from tunnel vision to loss of consciousness, and, eventually, death. Thanks to the marriage of the advanced cross-disciplinary research in space medicine, mechanical engineering, material technologies and, of course, gravity, the fatal journey is made pleasing, elegant and meaningful. Celebrating the limits of the human body but also the liberation from the horizontal life, this ‘kinetic sculpture’ is in fact the ultimate roller coaster…”

Developed at the Design Interactions Research Department of the RCA London – which focuses on exploring interactions between people, science and technology – Urbonas’ device also matches the aim of the department of going beyond simply making technology sexy, easy to use and more consumable; instead, they rather focus on using the language of design to pose questions, inspire, and provoke — to transport our imaginations into parallel but possible worlds.

PETA Suggests to San Francisco They Rename the ‘Tenderloin’ to ‘Tempeh’ ::the protein-packed fermented soybean product::

In their ever amazing viral PR efforts PETA, people for the ethical treatment of animals, suggested San Francisco Officials should rename the Tenderloin District, to the Tempeh District–the protein-packed fermented soybean product.

I  prefer Firm Tofu (District).

As covered in the San Francisco Chronicle:

With city officials contemplating a proposal to rejuvenate the struggling Mid-Market and Tenderloin with a payroll tax break to lure more businesses to the two neighborhoods, the activist organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals suggests another way to — at least — revitalize the Tenderloin:

Rename it the Tempeh District after the protein-packed fermented soybean product.

”The city deserves a neighborhood named after a delicious cruelty-free food instead of the flesh of an abused animal,” PETA’s executive vice president, Tracy Reiman, wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Mayor Ed Lee.

The word Tenderloin has dual meaning: the most tender part of a cut of meat (PETA’s beef, er, complaint) and an urban district notorious for vice (the reputation of the San Francisco neighborhood that city officials hope to put in the past tense).

There's the beef...

Radioactive Rain Reaches East Coast :: bottled water for me, but not for Japan:: EPA yet to release contamination levels for California

After drinking an entire pot of coffee made with good ole San Francisco tap water, I sat down with my last warm cup, from the pot, and saw this doozy.

The Bay Citizen reported today, rain with iodine-131 from Japan reached the East Coast. The results for California are due out in the next few days.

I’m definitely worried, if radioactivity has reached Massachusetts, we are in for a bigger dose of the of fallout.

And then I look to Japan.   According to NPR, Japan has said it’s safe to drink the tap water and to not rely on bottled water!

I'm going to take the side of caution until we get the California report

In any event, I’m stocking up on bottled water, until we get the California report. While I’m not a fan of bottles, with all the rain we’ve been having it seems like it might be the right thing to do until we get the report for California.

An expert in the Bay Citizen article explains why:

Iodine-131 is among the most toxic particles released during nuclear accidents, according to Daniel Hirsch, a nuclear policy lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz. It can build up in thyroid glands, where it can lead to cancer.

“We’ve had immense storms, so there was a large amount of rainfall that potentially brought down a significant amount of radioactivity,” Hirsh said.

And although the radioactive rain has been detected in Massachusettes, the only state, so far, to issue a waring to ‘not drink rain water’ is Virginia.

The Virginia Department of Health has issued a warning to state residents: do not drink rainwater.

The warning comes after radioactive particles released in Japan have been documented around the United States and now in places on the East Coast.

From a release issued Sunday:

VDH is advising residents that the state’s drinking water supplies remain safe, but reminds Virginians out of an abundance of caution they should avoid using rainwater collected in cisterns as drinking water.

DONATIONS: If you haven’t already you can donate money to learn more about donation options on The Huffington Post.

While a bit confusing at the beginning, this video clip has more details on Japan lifting their ban on tap water:

TurDunkin’ Doughnut Turkey; Cough Syrup Sundae; Strawberry Pop Tartes ::Unwholesome Foods::

I just discovered a new blog that is truly antithesis of healthy eating, Unwholesome Foods. Eat enough of these dishes and you will truly be living life XXXL.

I pulled some favorites from their blog to share. You should definitely visit their full site.

The turDunkin’ is a turkey brined in Dunkin’ Donuts coolattas, stuffed with munchkins and served with coffee gravy and mashed hash browns. The turDunkin’ should not be confused with the hot meaty mess that is a turducken, which is a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken.

Sprinkles make everything better

Cough Syrup Sundae
This ice cream recipe is for anyone who loves their cocktails so sickeningly sweet that their friends say “Gah, it tastes just like cough syrup!” because this ice cream actually does taste just like cough syrup.

A note about dosage: This recipe uses 180 mL of cough syrup to produce about 1 L of ice cream. The adult dose is 2 tsp (10 mL) every 4 hours, so one adult dose is 1/18th of the ice cream produced. The dose is on the order of a scoop of ice cream, but if you want to be precise, we suggest you don’t take your medicine by ice cream.

A throwback to junior HIGH

Strawberry Pop Tarte
Pop Tarts: A source of wholesome childhood memories and unwholesome artificial colors.  They aren’t just for breakfast anymore!  We at Unwholesome Foods have melded them with strawberry soda to create an elegant dessert.

The Original Pop Tart

San Francisco Gene Therapy Trials for HIV Treatment, Taking Candidates

Earlier this week, I posted news from The Huffington Post that a stem cell transplant cured HIV in the fellow known as the ‘Berlin Patient’. For some this was old news. For others it was a trigger to send me some really good information.

Based on this post, I was contacted by  readers with  information on gene therapy trials taking candidates in SF.

If you, or someone you know, could benefit from this program please review the criteria to qualify:

Candidates for the trials must be:
– HIV Positive and have never be treated for HIV
– T Cell count above 500, Viral Load above 1000
– Clean and Sober
– No Hep C

To get more information on the program:
You can contact Quest at 415.353.0800 ask for Dr. Jacob Lalezari or email Dr. Lalezari at

To learn more about this type of therapy, here are some articles readers sent:
- Technology Review - Can AIDS Be Cured?
- The Medical News – Preclinical efficacy data of Sangamo’s ZFN based human stem cell therapy for HIV published

Gene Therapy Holds Great Hope For Our Future

From The Huffington Post: Stem Cell Transplant Cures HIV In ‘Berlin Patient’

I had never heard of the ‘Berlin Patient’ before today. Very interesting news as reported by the Huffington Post.

Apparently the procedure leading to the cure was 2 years ago, but they just released official findings this month.

The follow-up highly suggests a cure has been found.

Definitely worth a full read.

December 1 is World AIDS Day --


13 weeks, 12 steps – My Personal Re-Brand of Sobriety

One thing is certain, I’ve never staid sober for any length of time during my 18 years in San Francisco. Yes, I’ve stopped drinking for a month. However, the reality is drinking is just one toy in a box of fun that I’ve dragged around for more than half my life.

Today is my 13th day of no booze or illicit substances of any kind. I nearly slipped last night, without even thinking about it, as I threw a Vicodin in my mouth to try and ease the pain in my legs from an especially ferocious workout.

Moistened by my tongue, but not ingested, the white demon is now disintegrating in my composter. Hopefully, this is what Gavin Newsom had in mind when he made composting mandatory in SF, and imposed the strictest recycling laws in the nation.

12-step inspired, but I’m not good at following directions
Perhaps Mr. Newsom sent out an instruction guide on composting, or it’s somewhere on the Internet. I didn’t even look.

The reality is I’m not good at following directions of any kind, as I’ve been painfully reminded while trying to assemble a myriad of items from IKEA. So while I’m inspired by the idea of a 12-step program, I know deep down going to meetings or reading their literature will only confuse my personal journey.

So the one big takeaway: I’m going to stay sober for 13 weeks and do it my way.

I’m not going to lie. It hasn’t been easy.
My biggest concern of being sober, aside from the word ‘sober’, having some really negative connotations if you look at the definition, is that I’d have to give up the things I enjoy so much about San Francisco—the parties, the disco, and the carrying on.

while sober sure doesn't sound fun, i know people who make it fun

Then I remembered, when I’m partying I don’t always remember. It’s completely a blast, however there are sections that are typically fuzzy, browned out, or in the worst case blacked out.

If I enjoy these times so much, then why am I doing things that makes me forget them?  So for 13 weeks I’m going to engage with the community, and my life, in a new way.

A Salmon Swimming Upstream, Day 13 of Sobriety

The last 13 days of sobriety have not been easy. Like watching a salmon swim upstream, I don’t know that I’m going to make it. What I do know is that there is a pool of creativity and new experiences waiting for me at the end of this journey. Ironically, if a bear (that would be me) doesn’t eat my intention (me staying sober) all should go according to plan.

the moment after this was shot, the bears looked into each others eyes and forgot abou the salmon

So far, I’ve discovered the city in a light I had never seen it before. This by far has been my greatest inspiration to keep going.

And even though the word sober still isn’t something I like the ‘true’ definition of, I’m sticking with my personal re-brand of sobriety and see where it takes me.

Perhaps, sobriety will become my new bad habit and zeitgeist addiction.

French Use of Sex To Sell Anti Smoking Backfires

In pulling together my ‘what’s the next zeitgeist addiction’ post, I discovered this controversial anti-smoking campaign unleashed in France, February 2010.

I may be late to the party on this one, but felt like sharing as it blew my mind.

Sex sells, but selling anti-smoking with sex???

The photos speak for themselves.

From the French AP:
A provocative anti-smoking ad campaign featuring teens in a subservient sexual position has sparked a storm of controversy in France, with the country’s family minister calling Wednesday for the advertisements to be banned.

What’s the next zeitgeist addiction?

The only offensive things left on planes are garlic breath, babies not on Benadryl, and flight attendants.

I miss smoking.
Sure smoking was unsanitary and unhealthy, it was also the zeitgeist of an era. Living for pleasure. Pleasure being addiction. And no one caring.

Not so coincidentally, anyone who has been to Zeitgest, a bar in SF, have likely seen all the above. Bad stuff can be really fun.

So what’s next?
While math is not a strong suit, physics are incomprehensible to me. I do know, however, through dating and a multitude of abuses for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.

Make people stop drinking at 2 am, binge drinking happens @ 1.30 right before everyone jumps in their cars. Continually overreact to your three year old, who just learned the word FUCK at preschool, you will likely never get them to stop saying it. The other option, ignore it, don’t react, and eventually–typically one week–it goes away.

Tell kids they can’t drink and they become alcoholics at higher rate of kids in countries where alcohol consumption isn’t an issue, regardless of age. Legalize drugs and watch crime rates drop. Criminalize drugs, give them three strikes as they do in California for even non-violent crimes, and watch the prisons fill beyond capacity without a reduction in non-violent crimes.

Why ‘Just Saying No’ Doesn’t Work

This is a partial expert is from an awesome site called Schaffer Library of Drug Policy. It helps explain the issue, and the power or harm reduction.

Over the past few decades numerous approaches have been tried to detour drug use. The reality is it’s fun and not as bad as authorities say. Early methods emphasized information provision and scare tactics. In the 1980’s America embraced “Just Say No” campaigns. The success of any of these approaches has been questionable at best.

I as many, feel that a major limiting factor of these approaches has been a faulty assumption — namely, that all drug use is unhealthy and therefore that the goal of drug education should be the elimination of all drug consumption.

A harm reduction approach could offer a greater chance of mitigating the negative consequences of drug abuse in the future, because it considers the realistic dynamics of human drug consumption in our past.

Harm Reduction, Sign Me UP!
So while I don’t know what’s going to happen as a result of banning smoking all over the world—including France for god sakes–I’m looking forward a new bad habit and some form of harm reduction so I can enjoy it even longer.


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