Neiman Marcus Downtown, Fuse play hosts to celebration

By Tammye Nash Staff Writer

Toast to Life is the Resource Center of Dallas’ largest annual fundraiser, and this year’s event has even more to offer, with a VIP party before the main event and an after-party for all ticketholders, organizers said this week.
The fundraiser, featuring gourmet food and beverages, is Saturday on the first three floors of Neiman Marcus Downtown in Dallas. The VIP party and the after-party are both at Fuse restaurant, across the street from Neiman’s, Marianne DeLeon, director of development, said.
This year’s theme is Kismet, DeLeon said.
“It’s an Arabic word that doesn’t translate exactly. But the basic idea of it is love, fortune and life. And that’s what we are celebrating this year – love and life,” DeLeon said.
VIP ticket-holders get drinks and hors d’oeuvres, and a gift bag put together by Carlos Banda and Net Play Productions, DeLeon said. The top item in the gift bags will be silver watches featuring the red AIDS ribbon instead of numbers on its face, she said.
The main event gives participants the chance to sample food by chefs for Hattie’s, Parigi, Margaux’s, The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Salum and Daniele Osteria, wines from Barefoot Wine Cellars, specialty martinis by Ciroc and Godiva and beer from Bud Light.
There will also be a silent auction and a raffle for a $5,000 shopping spree at Neiman’s, DeLeon said. The silent auction includes more than 50 works by well-known artists such as Joan Chamberlain and Jay Maggio, American Airlines tickets, products from Aveda, Aqua Spa massages, dinners, Dallas Theater Center tickets, movie tickets at the Magnolia Cinema and Inwood Cinema, jewelry, symphony tickets and more.
There will be about 250 items offered in the silent auction, DeLeon said.
As an added bonus, she said, Neiman’s will also be open for shopping.
The evening winds up with the after-party, open to all ticketholders, back across the street at Fuse.The VIP party is from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Fuse, 1512 Commerce St. Tickets are $150.

Toast to Life is from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., on the first three floors of Neiman Marcus Downtown, entrance in the 1500 block of Commerce Street. Tickets are $100 per person or $175 per couple.The after-party is from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Fuse, and is open to all ticket-holders.

For information call 214-528-0144 or go online to www.rcdallas.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.
E-mail nash@dallasvoice.com

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Rescue from men of steel

By Steven Lindsey Contributing Writer

Hiring a professional trainer can assist you in losing weight and stayng in shape. How do you find the one that’s rigthf or you? Here’s how



SEE SPOT: Personal trainer J.R. Brown of Flex Fitness spots one of his clients during a workout routine.

For many people, New Year’s resolutions have been made, broken and all but forgotten. The initial motivation that causes Americans to put “get in shape” at the top of their lists year after year can be hard to maintain. Even with warmer weather, it’s still easy to hide behind bulky sweaters and jackets and put off the reality of one’s physical conditions. Then it hits: Swimsuit season is close. Very close.

Most people know what we need to do to lose weight and improve their overall health. But for those without extreme will power, the discipline to eat right and get to the gym, it can seem like a more arduous task than the actual process of working out.

Enter a personal trainer. Whether self-motivated or not, the support and encouragement of another person can aid tremendously in achieving personal fitness goals. And because a trainer can push his or her clients hard, it’s key that both jibe on a personal level.

“It is important that you get along with your trainer and that you have confidence in them,” says J.R. Brown, managing partner of Flex Fitness and a certified personal trainer for more than eight years. “After all, they will be coaching you, inspiring you and motivating you to become the person you want to be.”

There is a process to follow when picking someone to help out. Brown stresses the importance of determining a trainer’s qualifications.
“Ask about certifications, first aid and continuing education,” he says.
Simon Rajwani with Fitness Evolution has been a personal trainer for five years. He also emphasizes the need for checking certifications, which run out after one or two years and have to be maintained through continuing education courses.

“A good trainer is one who has continued learning and who can assess your fitness level and design a program for your specific goals, whether that’s gaining muscle, flexibility or overall fitness,” Rajwani says.

Next, someone in training should make sure to inform his trainer about his personal health history and make sure he customizes a workout based on individual abilities and goals.

“If you have back problems, for example, make sure to ask the trainer if they have experience working with that,” Rajwani says.

“A good trainer is a person who is willing to commit themselves to their client. Share in the responsibility with clients as far as reaching and exceeding goals, providing answers to all nutrition and supplement questions,” Brown adds. “Doing some behind-the-scenes research on any special conditions that a client may have such as blood sugar disorders, HIV, pre-existing injuries, fibromyalgia” and the like are signs of a good trainer.
There may not be specialized certifications in most of these areas. However, doing some research and talking with doctors “will go along way to help your client achieve their goals,” Brown says.

A varied routine is also beneficial to maintaining motivation and targeting different muscle groups.

“A top-quality fitness professional does more than just “‘take you through a workout.’ Anyone can count to 15 by themselves and hold a clipboard,” Brown says. “Look for a coach who will educate you about all the components necessary to achieve optimal health and a fitness result.”


A personal trainer should be expected to review nutrition education with his client, educate the client about proper supplementation and employ a variety of exercise options.

“He should review resistance training, whether that be balance training, core work, stability balls, medicine balls, cardiovascular exercise to maximize fat burning, flexibility to avoid injury and speed recovery, and really walk you through all the steps that encompass the mental development side,” Brown says. “Goal-setting, putting together a plan of action and then holding you accountable and supporting you through the entire process is absolutely critical to the success.”

There are also specific things to avoid in a trainer, and there are a few key signs to look out for.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover. Just because a trainer has a great body doesn’t mean he’s a great trainer, ” Rajwani says.

Avoid trainers who are unwilling to provide references or who do not explain themselves well when demonstrating an exercise.

“A good trainer can motivate and educate you but let’s face it, using the big medical terms is not impressive if you don’t know what they are, too,” Brown says.

There are enough professional trainers in the market that no one should stick with one who doesn’t train for a living, Rajwani and Brown counsel.
“Avoid part-time trainers. They may be doing this only long enough until something better comes along. Do not always assume that a great physique on a guy makes him an expert. He may have lost weight with recreational drugs or unhealthy eating disorders,” Brown cautions.

Selecting a gym is also an important part of a successful training program. Sometimes, it’s possible to find a trainer who can work among multiple gyms. If that doesn’t work out, though, select a gym first and then look for the best trainer at the facility. Rajwani and Brown have tips on this, too.

“A great gym depends on the person’s idea of “‘great.’ If you like to take classes, look for a gym with a well-rounded schedule,” Rajwani says. “Some people enjoy a lot of cardio equipment variety, but everyone likes a clean gym.”

Brown advises finding a gym with convenient hours and a good location, such as on the way to or from work, but make sure to try out the gym before signing any papers.

“Most places will allow non-members to work out for a couple of days before making any commitments. Take note of things such as cleanliness, working condition of equipment and floor staff standing by to assist with any machines. Working condition of the wet area such as sauna, spa and showers is important, too,” Brown says.When shopping a gym, there’s more to the experience than just assessing the staff and facilities.

“It has to be said, check out the other members. These are going to be the people you will be seeing every time you go in to work out, so if you think they bug you now wait until you work with a cell-phone queen with an attitude,” Brown says.

No matter what, there is not an “all-things-to-all-people” gym or trainer. Research your options carefully for both, and try before you buy. Then with a lot of hard work, putting on that Speedo in a few months won’t be a traumatic experience.

J.R. Brown, Flex Fitness at South Side on Lamar. 214-428-FLEX. Flefitness.biz.
Simon Rajwani, Fitness Evolution, 3102 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-219-2167.

A BETTER BODY IN TWO WEEKS
With reports of American obesity at significant levels and fast food readily available, sticking to a weight-loss or exercise regimen can be like fighting the serpent’s temptation. With busy schedules and empty calories everywhere, it can be challenging to stick to weight-loss or workout plans.
David Kirsch, celebrity trainer and author of the book “The Ultimate New York Body Plan,” offers an intense nutrition and fitness system to improve the body in as little as two weeks.

As the trainer on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover” reality show, Kirsch had to turn hopeless into hopeful in 14 to 21 days. To get results, he “modified the traditional nutrition and fitness program that I generally prescribe to be much more intense,” he says.

The program generates fast results, but is also hard work. Here are three steps to getting started.

1. Motivate yourself. It takes commitment and stamina to transform your body in two weeks. The trick is to find and identify a challenge something that evokes passion and meaning in your life. To find your true source of motivation, ask yourself these questions: (a) Why am I taking this two-week challenge? (b) What do I hope to accomplish in 14 days? (c) What do I hope to discover about myself in the next 14 days? (d) What mental and spiritual strengths do I hope to build upon during the next 14 days?

2. Stay in touch with yourself. Keeping track of your thoughts, feelings and progress throughout the 14 days in a journal will help keep you honest. It may also help you get through the toughest days, as expressing your
thoughts and feelings on paper is often the best way to correct a problem.

3. Schedule your exercise time. Kirsch advises to get your day planner out now and for each of the next 14 days, schedule your exercise time. Writing in your exercise appointments will help keep you from backsliding. “Once you’ve written in your appointments and they’re staring you in the face, you are less likely to stand yourself up,” he says.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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You are what you eat

By Arnold Wayne Jones Staff Writer

Karim Harati-Zadeh practices the science of eating well for a long life



Karim Harati-Zadeh, a chiropractor and nutritionist, says everyone can learn to eat better without making tremendous sacrifices.

Healthy eating is sort of like Mark Twain’s definition of a literary classic: Everyone praises it, but no one actually reads it.

People who claim to be nutrition-conscious may not really know what’s going into their bodies, and how items affect everything from bone density to a strong immune system.

That’s where Karim Harati-Zadeh can help. A chiropractor and nutritional counselor, Harati-Zadeh is determined to inform people how to maximize the health benefits of what they put into their body.

Most of Harati-Zadeh’s clients fall into one of two categories: Those who have a particular condition and want specific advice, and those who know nothing about nutrition and just need general information. Whatever the situation, Harati-Zadeh says nutritional counseling can help.
Nutritional counseling, in short, is about designing a particularized intake of food.

One of his specialties is consulting with patients who are HIV-positive. “They go to medical doctors, but they only get the basics,” Harati-Zadeh says. “There is so much information out there. But it doesn’t work unless it’s tailored for them individually. What I do is much more detailed than recommending a good diet or taking medication.”

HIV can put pressure on overall physiology, he says. So he focuses on supplementation, which he says is often overlooked in the treatment of HIV but which can add to overall health.

Those asking about weight loss and sports nutrition common for those starting a program for athletes or just joining a gym for the first time represent other categories of those for whom nutritional counseling can be beneficial.

Take fad diets from South Beach to Atkins and everything in between. They may shed bounds quickly, but are not necessarily wise for you.
“When you lose weight, if you’re overdoing it, you’re putting a lot of pressure on your organs.” Harati-Zadeh says. “A lot of people say, “‘my friend tried this,’ but just because you hear about it doesn’t mean it’s a healthy diet for you.”

Harati-Zadeh gathers detailed personal information, such as your age, sex, health history, current condition, family medical history, lifestyle (job, activities), food allergies even food likes and dislikes.

“And if people say I can’t eat this or am allergic to that, I call tell then what to substitute. For instance, everyone knows oranges are very high in vitamin C, but green peppers and tomatoes have even more vitamin C in them,” making them options for those who don’t like the taste of oranges.

For those interested in losing weight, Harati-Zadeh doesn’t merely tell them what to eat, but when and how to eat. He even counsel patients in favor of snacking, because frequent eating fuels the metabolism. The kind of snacks is what matters try grapes, not Gummi Bears.

“It’s not about starving yourself,” he says. “The key is not even always to eat less. If you eat healthy foods it will spur your metabolism.” Harsh diets strike a blow to your system when you go off then, and most people “never stick with them forever.”

He dismisses the “no carbs” approach, suggesting instead that it is important to eat healthy carbs.

“Avoid bleached and processed foods. Avoid white bread and white rice in favor of whole grain breads and brown rice. Before, I was really into white rice but I slowly mixed the brown with white,” he says. Eventually, he was able to cut white rice entirely from his diet.

A lot of what we eat we do so out of habit. It is hard at the beginning to leave alone a food you’re used to reach for. His system of slow transitions works well for many of his clients, he says.

“I tell them to add one healthy new food to their diet each week. Overnight, it’s hard to change your eating habits,” but phasing things in and out over time can reduce the stress on your body. Harati-Zadeh says he hasn’t had a soft drink in five or six years “soft drinks have phosphoric acid which is not good for your bones” but he didn’t give them up all at once.
“Nutritious consumption is a process,” he says.

Nevertheless, there are a few absolutes and general principles everyone should strive for. (See sidebar.) Artificial sweeteners? “Leave ‘em alone,” he says. Like a daily jolt of caffeine? Get it from green tea or white tea, both of which have antioxidants. He suggests substituting tea for coffee or soft drinks entirely. Bioflavonoids are great for the body, and are available in fruits like blueberries and grapes, and even red wine.

The key to effective nutritional counseling is finding a formula that works for your health and your lifestyle. “It’s good to find something you can follow for the rest of your life,” Harati-Zadeh says.

For more information, contact Karim Harati-Zadeh, 3303 Lee Parkway, Suite 404. 214-520-0092.

THE BASICS
Although the best nutritional counseling is tailored to the needs of the individual, Karim Harati-Zadeh offers these basics for getting off on the right food when working on proper diet.

1. Avoid rapid weight loss. Sudden changes in weight put stress on the organs.
2. Set a realistic goal and stick with it. Don’t try to do too much at once. If you set out to do something achievable, you’re more likely to benefit from the rewards. Don’t over-commit.
3. Challenge yourself to try one new healthy food a week. It’s easier to adjust in stages than all at once both psychologically and physically.
4. Avoid chemically treated foods. Processing robs food of many of the components that make it valuable to your system.
5. Pay attention to portion sizes. Keep the meals small overdoing a good thing doesn’t help, either.
6. Snack on fruits and vegetables. Avoid junk food go organic.
7. Switch to whole grains.
8. Limit packaged foods. Again, processing is the villain of modern health.
9. Trim the meat. Some fat is OK, but you probably get enough in your diet naturally.
10. Prepare more meals from fresh produce and grains.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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White or wrong?

By Steven Lindsey Contributing Writer

When it comes to whitening your teeth, are all processes created equal?



Dentist Alan Maedgen says the Zoom whitening machine may look odd, but the results speak for themselves.

Dallas is resplendent with are beautiful people. Women are nipped, men are tucked and there’s enough Botox in foreheads to fill Texas Stadium.

The pursuit of perfection and youth is an unavoidable part of modern culture, is perhaps even stronger in the gay community. Yet the price tag associated with the vast array of cosmetic procedures is enough to give a person permanent frown lines. But there is great news and plenty to smile about when it comes to teeth whitening.

Thanks to advances in technology and increased competition, obtaining a gleaming white set of choppers has become fast, affordable and available everywhere from the local dentist to the nearest drugstore. So omnipresent are the products, they can even be ordered during late-night Meredith Baxter movie marathons on Lifetime.

A quick search on Walgreens.com is all it takes to understand the vastness of the whitening empire. Over 130 products are available through the site in the form of strips, gels, pens, toothpastes, mouthwash and chewing gum all claiming to have super whitening powers.

There’s also the “ionic” light advertised on TV. As if walking around with other bleaching apparatuses aren’t humiliating enough, at least one manufacturer has designed a system where people cram tiny blue flashlights in their mouths.

The American Dental Association divides whitening products into two groups: peroxide containing whiteners or bleaching agents and whitening toothpastes. But it lists only eight approved over-the-counter whitening products on its Web site.

So the question is, ADA approval or not, do OTC whitening products work?
The simple answer is yes, but the complete answer is more complicated.
While store-bought whitening products are less expensive than professional whitening, there is a cost in terms of quality. And in many cases, the price of drugstore whiteners could be higher in the long run. OTC product results typically don’t last as long as professional treatment, so more frequent usage is necessary.

Comfort is also a factor: Whitening gels can be applied too liberally and damage gums.

And whitening toothpastes, which are more expensive than simple fluoride alternatives, may not do enough to get a smile its whitest.

“Whitening toothpastes mainly just put a few molecules on teeth for a while and don’t have a lasting effect,” said Dr. Alan Maedgen of Maedgen Smile Designs at Turtle Creek.

What really works then? Several months ago, I set out to compare OTC to professional whitening and find the answer.

First up was Crest Whitestrips Premium ($32.99), used for the one-week schedule recommended on the box. The strips, which look similar to those blackhead-removing nose pads, had to be worn twice a day for 30 minutes each session. The strips were uncomfortable and increased salivation so much that an unexpected visit from a friend could end in an unnecessary trip to the ER for rabies vaccinations.

After about 15 minutes, the adhesion can lessen enough that they lose contact with the tooth enamel. They do result in whiter teeth, but they can end up looking chalky, unevenly colored and overly sensitive. Irritated gums were also experienced a few days into the test.

In comparison, a post-Whitestrip visit a month later to Maedgen proved far more effective. The popular smile makeover technology from Discus Dental, known as Zoom!2, has a great reputation on the Internet and among peer groups.

While whitening costs in Dallas can go as high as $1000, Zoom!2 is typically around $500, and can run as low as $300.

The results are amazing and many months later, still apparent. Treatment varies from patient to patient based on the amount of discoloration they’re experiencing, but a typical session lasts just about 45 minutes.

“In less than an hour of time, your teeth will become dramatically whiter,” said Maedgen. “Zoom!2 chairside whitening is ideal for the patient who wants immediate results.”

The speed is a huge selling factor. Results can last anywhere from six months to a year, with touch-up kits available.

After applying the whitening product, a special light is wheeled over to the treatment chair and placed through a protective mouthpiece so that it beams its rays directly on the teeth, thus activating the gel.

The device looks a little like an alien pod from the latest War of the Worlds, but for a superstar smile like Tom Cruise’s, it’s worth the possibility of battling intergalactic terrorists.

The custom-fit trays and protective gel used during the procedure alleviate gum irritation and tooth sensitivity in most patients, so biting into an Eskimo Pie two hours later won’t cause pain ripples through the nerve endings.
Make sure to question any dentist about the whitening products he or she uses. Some dentists who have used the term “zoom” are not really using the trademarked light and whitening products. Offers of free whitening should also be questioned thoroughly for possible bait-and-switch tactics. Most medical professionals are on the up-and-up, but it’s always good to put on your “buyer beware” pumps before walking into a new office. Education is key.

With any type of whitening, Maedgen recommends the most basic oral hygiene routine, including a minimum twice-daily brushing (preferably with a high-quality electric toothbrush), flossing in between teeth and maintaining a regular six month schedule of professional cleanings from a dental hygienist. For people with HIV and other conditions that compromise the immune system, Maedgen suggests three-month professional cleaning cycles.
Members of Maedgen’s staff stress the importance of limiting consumption of red wine, coffee and colas, as well as tobacco, chocolate and anything else that will stain a white shirt.

With whiter teeth, though, it’s easy to smile big and show ‘em off. But you know, that eventually leads to tiny wrinkles around the mouth, crow’s feet around the eyes and

Maedgen Smile Designs, 3838 Oak Lawn Ave., Suite 177. 214-559-7266.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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Pride Houston to announce grand marshals for parade

By Staff Reports

Pride Houston will announce the grand marshals for the 2006 Houston Pride Parade at a special event Thursday at Guava Lamp.

The committee is also looking for individuals to perform in the nighttime parade, and committee members said that for the first time, organizers will sponsor individual participants who will not have to pay the regular parade entry fee.

The nighttime parade is scheduled for June 24.

Nick Brines, president of Pride Houston, said the sponsored performers are expected to include flaggers, drag queens and male dancers, who will complement the performers who are part of regular parade entrants.

“Our nighttime parade has always had really incredible performances from a wide variety of groups,” Brines said in a written statement.

“The performances are a big crowd favorite and a great way to celebrate our pride as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. We wanted to add some extra flair to the parade by sponsoring our own performers who may not be part of an already-established group,” Brines said.

Rehearsals for Pride parade performers have already begin, according to Jose Reyes, who is director and choreographer. He said Pride Houston will provide the necessary costumes and materials, including costumes for drag performers for a Brazilian “Copa Cabana”-themed performance.

Dance routine rehearsals are held each Saturday and Sunday, and those interested in participating would need to attend most of the rehearsals, Reyes added.

He said no experience is necessary and there are no age requirements, but participants need to be able to perform throughout the entire mile-long parade.

Male, female, honorary and organizational grand marshals were chosen by a community vote. The party to announce the winners begins at 7 p.m. and will include complimentary hors d’ouevres and a cash bar.

For more information about the parade, Pride Houston or the grand marshals party, call 713-529-6979 or visit the Pride Houston website (www.pridehouston.org).

For more information on being a performer in the parade, contact Reyes at jreyes@pridehouston.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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Kinky votes only once in 12 years

By Associated Presss


Kinky Friedman


Humorist fails to vote on measure that banned same-sex marriage

AUSTIN Humorist Kinky Friedman has voted just once in the last 12 years, even skipping a recent constitutional amendment election on a gay-marriage ban after he’d declared his candidacy for governor.

“Quite often, I did not like my choices,” Friedman was quoted as saying in Friday’s Dallas Morning News. “If God wanted us to vote, he’d give us a choice. This time, God has given us a choice.”

The musician and author, who has sought to portray himself as the anti-politician, is trying to get on the November election ballot as an independent. To do that he’ll need to collect 45,540 signatures from registered voters who don’t take part in the March 7 Republican and Democratic primaries.

Friedman said he didn’t vote on the same-sex marriage ban proposal last November because, while he supports gay marriage, he knew the measure would pass overwhelmingly.

“The voting record doesn’t look strong, but my voting record is better than Dick Cheney’s,” he said, referring to reports in 2000 that Cheney skipped 14 of 16 votes in Dallas County including the presidential primary in which he could have voted for his future running mate, George W. Bush.

According to Kerr County voting records, Friedman voted in the 2004 presidential general election but not in any other contest since 1994.

“I was for Bush in 2004,” he said. “He’s a good man trapped in a Republican’s body.”

Friedman said he supported Bill Clinton in the 1990s but didn’t vote for him because he was often on tour outside the country.

“I was doing a lot of music then,” he said.

He added: “And I campaigned like hell for Ann Richards (in 1994), but I don’t think I voted. I should have set up absentee arrangements, but I didn’t.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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Oklahoma City library passes new policy on children’s books

By Associated Presss

Materials dealing with issues such as gay parents, child abuse, drug abuse, premarital sex and 7 other topics to be put in separate space

OKLAHOMA CITY A newly adopted policy would place children’s books dealing with socially sensitive topics in a separate collection in the Oklahoma City-County library system.

Members of the Metropolitan Library Commission voted 12-to-1 on Feb. 16 for the proposal, which supporters say provided the library system with a positive way of dealing with potentially controversial issues such as homosexuality.

Four board members were absent.

A “parenting collection” will include books on homosexuality, child abuse, drug abuse, premarital sex and seven other topics.

Donna Morris, executive director, said the policy guidelines will apply only to children’s books classified as “easy,” “easy-reader” and “tween.”

Those terms refer to children’s reading levels from just learning to read to about age 12.

Before the vote, nine members of the public signed up to make comments to the commission board. Eight said they opposed the proposal and the ninth declined to speak.

Karen Parsons, who identified herself as a lesbian and a former teacher, said she was “appalled” by the proposal.

“It’s not up to the library to be the thought police or to act as parents,” Parsons said.

Board member Nancy Anthony, who served on the five-member committee that drafted the new children’s book policy, said the plan was a compromise.

“There were people on both sides who have very extreme points of view, and we all have to figure out how to get along,” Anthony said. “These books may be on a different shelf, but they are still there in the children’s area of the library and accessible to everyone.”

The library commission formed the special committee after a patron complained in April about young children having free access to library books with “homosexual themes.”

The specific books criticized were “King & King,” “Daddy’s Roommate,” “The Duke Who Outlawed Jelly Beans” and “Heather Has Two Mommies.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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Effort to curb funeral protests moves forward in Oklahoma

By Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY Boisterous protests at funerals, like those conducted by members of a Kansas church, would be banned under legislation passed Tuesday in the Oklahoma House.

Supporters, including Disabled American Veterans, said the bill and a similar measure passed by the state Senate last week will prevent demonstrations by members of a Topeka, Kan., church who claim soldiers are being struck down by God for fighting for a country that harbors homosexuals, referring to the United States.

“This will protect our soldiers from disrespectful behavior,” said Danny Broyles, a Vietnam veteran and spokesman for the disabled veterans.
Anti-gay protests have been conducted at military funerals in Oklahoma and other states by members of the Westboro Baptist Church, who chant and carry signs thanking God for improvised explosive devices, a major killer of soldiers in Iraq.

Broyles and other supporters have said the protests defile the memory of soldiers who sacrifice their lives for their country.

“You’ve got a bereaved family who’s just lost a loved one. And you want to do something like that? And you call yourself a Christian?” Broyles said.

The bill’s author, Representative Paul Wesselhoft, a Republican and a retired U.S. Army chaplain, dedicated the measure to the memories of three Oklahoma soldiers kill in Iraq or Afghanistan.

At least 14 states are considering laws aimed at the funeral protesters. The House measure would restrict picketing and demonstrations within 500 feet of a cemetery, church or home where a funeral or memorial service is being conducted and prohibits protests within two hours before or after a funeral service.

Violations would be a misdemeanor punishable by 60 days in jail.
Wesselhoft has said lawyers for the Kansas church have warned that they will challenge the bill if it is signed into law. But he said there is broad public support for restricting the funeral demonstrations.

If it becomes law, the measure will apply to all groups, not just Westboro Baptist Church.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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Mirror, mirror

By Ryan Short Contributing Writer

Proper grooming is a more compicated process than most men know



Regimens in the West Village carries many different products to help the grooming-challenged man look his best.

“Guys need help,” says Tom Granese, founder of the Uptown boutique Regimens. “They have no idea where to start, what to buy, or even what they need.”

Regimens’ philosophy builds on the concept that men need guidance in order to groom properly.

“Everyone has a different skin type and everyone has a different routine. The key is finding out what products work best for you and that fit into your life,” Granese says.

Regimens offers an entire world of carefully engineered products. One man’s shaving routine can employ up to eight different products to achieve the ultimate in skin clarity: pre-shave oil, exfoliater, cleanser, toner, shaving cream, a medicated stone, balm, or after-shave. Another man may need far fewer.

Because most men have little foundation in grooming knowledge, common misconceptions often lead to incorrect facial maintenance, especially with moisturizers. For instance, just because a gentleman has an oily complexion does not mean he should skip the moisturizing lubricant.
Every man should have two bookends to his daily shaving ritual: A cleanser (to help a razor to glide smoothly over unsoiled skin) and a moisturizer (to firm and supplement irritated or sensitive skin).

Pre-shave oil saturates he beard with relaxing oils, softens the skin, and provides a slicker lubricant. Granese recommends Sharps Barber and Shop Daily Prep Lotion for a daily pre-shave regimen. It helps medium to oily skin, has a delicate, light texture, and even works well at protecting harmful UV rays.

Sunblocks aren’t just for the beach. Skin can be damaged by ordinary, daily exposure to normal sun conditions. Granese says a separate sunblock maintains a healthy look.

Whether in scrubbing form or a cover-all masque, an exfoliating agent works deeply on the rough surfaces of the face, removing dead skin cells and deeply held grime from the pores. Nickel Mug Shot #4, an exfoliating and cleansing chewing-gum masque, uses a quirky rubber engineering to lift out buried impurities and toxins.

Billy Jealousy Hydroplane shave cream remains one of Regimen best-selling products. Tiny silicone beads embedded in the cream provide a viscous surface for the razor blade to drift over.

Perhaps the most curious item on Granese’s list of recommendations: the Billy Jealousy Six Pack Slimming Solution. This cream decongests the skin and gives more tautness using natural caffeines to enhance lipolysis. It stimulates the body to emulsify fats and further refine areas of your body that need definition, especially if used post-workout.

“Results speak for themselves,” Granese says. “Men aren’t as concerned about packaging or brands. All they care about are the results. If you look good, then its all worth it where grooming is concerned.”

Regimens West Village, 3699 McKinney Ave., Suite 102. Regimens.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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East meets West

By Arnold Wayne Jones Staff Writer

The new world of day spas is transforming with
a variety of choices for men and women



Asian elegance and a social atmosphere lend a refreshing image to the new breed of day spas like Benu.

It used to be that when it came to seeking out health and beauty options, men and women were as divided as the hygiene counter at the corner drug store. Men went to athletic clubs or the local gym; women went to salons and took aerobics classes.

But things have changed. With the metrosexual movement, popularized by shows like “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” the concept of both sexes being pampered in one environment doesn’t seem so unusual. The dividing line has become blurred, and the day spa is now something for everyone.
“People who haven’t gone to a spa and have a notion picked up from “‘I Love Lucy’ or “‘Seinfeld’ are in for a surprise,” says Doug Chambers, co-owner of Benu Salon and Spa near Mockingbird Station.

The image of Helga karate-chopping your back in a locker room no longer holds true. But while many gay men probably know more about day spas than their straight contemporaries, there is still something mysterious, and even intimidating, about the idea for many guys. And a new breed of spa is beginning to emerge to make it easier on them to assimilate.
“We heard a lot of customers say, “‘I’m worried by the temple-like environment. I’m afraid I’m gonna do something wrong,’” says Chambers. The concept of Benu and similar spas is to demystify the spa-going experience.

Storied formal retreats like The Spa at the Crescent continue to maintain appeal for lavishness and style, but places like Benu are developing a different approach to the spa experience.

One of the innovations: A concept that is more Eastern philosophy than Western machismo.

“That’s by design,” says Chambers, who traveled the world extensively before starting up Benu. “We were trying to take some of the clever things in projects we’ve seen all over the globe without making it necessarily attached to one specific locale. We wanted a tasteful sampling of some projects that had appeal to us.”


Style guru Billy Yamaguchi translated his feng shui approach to beauty to the concept at Benu.

The spa teamed up with styling guru Billy Yamaguchi, whose feng shui beauty concept infuses many esoteric ideas into the practical application of making people look and feel better. Feng shui is Japanese for “wind and water”, which represents the air we breathe and the high water content of the human body.

Benu wanted to apply these rules to the human sense of beauty and achieve a synchronicity of the client’s body, personality and lifestyle.
The challenge was to transfer Yamaguchi’s innate skills over to a staff of stylists. According to Chambers, the feng shui framework not only allows the stylists to come to a more thorough understanding of the guests’ personalities and lifestyles, but it also allows guests to be better to articulate what they want.

“A lot of people underestimate the anxiety of getting their hair cut or colored they are putting a lot of trust in a stranger,” Chambers says.
Eric Werner of Benu is one of the stylists who approaches an ideal appearance not in terms of how muscular and toned one’s physique is, but how well the elements that make up the person are highlighted. He performs regular feng shui consultations that determine which elements apply to individual clients, and maximizing their look.

“It makes us more attuned to all the variables at play,” Chambers says. “Somebody may be an accountant by day but wants to be a rock star by night, while someone else might be an accountant by day and a parent to young children at night.”

Chambers himself was suspicious at first of what he calls a “well-founded skepticism about a New Age spa,” but many of the rules employed have definitely made sense.

“In Hong Kong, one of the things we really admired was the social atmosphere of some of the spas and how popular foot treatments are,” Chambers says. “I had a treatment in Hong Kong that I thought I was gonna hallucinate from. We didn’t see a lot of focus on foot treatments in many of the Western spas we were familiar with.”

They also have what they call a water house, which is something more than just a whirlpool and steam room. The co-ed room has hosted parties and other social events in a relaxed, spa atmosphere.

“We try to recreate in a Western version some of the social aspects we see in Asia. We make it accessible but not take ourselves too seriously,” Chambers says.

The services offered are all gender-neutral by design. Other spas, Chambers notes, might list six facials on a menu, “and then the last one is the “‘men’s facial.’ Men were telling us they felt odd asking for any of the other facials. There’s no reason why any wouldn’t be appropriate for male or female.” The same holds true for everything from manicures to pedicures to massages. The client profile is almost evenly divided between men and women, “which has been an emerging trend over the last few years.”

Benu also shares access to Trophy Fitness Center, which expands the services beyond a typical salon or massage parlor to a full-service athletic club.
While there’s not one type of spa for everyone, places like Benu are helping show a wide variety of customers that they can be as friendly, and as soothing, as they want to make it. And no one should be afraid to order a facial no matter what it’s called.

Benu Salon and Spa, 5555 E. Mockingbird Lane, Suite 300. 214-827-4200. Benuspa.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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