Starvoice • 12.30.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Todd Haynes turns 51 on Monday. The gay filmmaker sparked the New Queer Cinema movement with his 1991 feature debut Poison. Since then, he’s gone in a variety of directions with films like Velvet Goldmine, Far From Heaven and I’m Not There. His most recent work was seen on HBO as he directed Kate Winslet in the title role of Mildred Pierce.

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THIS WEEK

Venus in Aquarius sextile Eris, both quincunx to Mars in Virgo, makes people “helpful” with criticism, but sensitive in receiving it. Those who can take it and use it will benefit most. Put aside any defensiveness; listen and learn.

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CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
Your bleak vision of the future is more accurate than most. Opportunities can still be found. Trust your intuition. It’s not cynical if you bring others up with you.

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
Feeling unsure of what you believe is a healthy step toward deeper convictions. This is a learning opportunity: keep an open mind; listen to different opinions. Then take time to sort it out.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
Sexual frustration can reveal spiritual needs more than any lack of quantity or technical skill. If you can’t be with the one you truly love, take time out to focus on those deeper needs.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
You are too eager to get ahead, creating discord among co-workers. It takes some effort to keep an open mind and ears to match. Ttry talking softer and listening harder.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Focus on how your personal goals can serve the world at large. Keep your critical urges constructive and focused on yourself. Improve techniques at work and play to better your own life.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Much as you want to fix things at home you may be better off out with your friends. Maybe community work? If you need to deal with hypercriticism, target number one is in the mirror.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
You push and work too hard to appear in control. Be on top of the job, not on top of your co-workers. Listen to them and remember you’re all on the same team.

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
Being a drama queen is entertaining to others, but not in the way you want. There are better ways to deal with your worries. Focus. A mature, sensible voice is at hand with any help you need.

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
Worrying never helps. Put your imagination to better use. Examples and lessons from your family will help and can be a springboard toward new inspiration.

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
Be alert to hidden enemies. Carelessness in conversations can create more. An air of creative mystery can get you into a torrid affair. It probably won’t last, but enjoy it while it does.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
You’re feeling feisty, ambitious and sharp. To avoid counterproductive arguments, keep your mind on what’s important in the long run. Getting bogged down is a great way to lose the war.

SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
Heed those hunches that suggest new job opportunities. Of course you have to check them out with solid info, but take those steps. A new sport helps you keep fit mentally and physically.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

After debilitating fight with cancer, DJ Troy Sands is staging a comeback on the local club scene

COMPLETELY REMASTERED  |  Sands found strength in his partner, Morgan, and his colleagues to make a return to DJing after fighting cancer, and he found a residence at the Dallas Eagle. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

After performing for thousands of people, you wouldn’t expect DJ Troy Sands to get nervous easily. But his nerves are a jumble as he gets ready for his close-up.

Back in the day, he was quick to shed his shirt for a little beefcake snapshot. Not so much anymore. Sands is re-learning to be comfortable in from of the camera after a bout with cancer that affected his mouth and face, including a complete bone replacement of his jaw. But Sands compensates with a renewed vigor that is about to put him back in the game after a five-year absence.

“I really was about to throw in the towel,” Sands says. “But the things that are happening now tell me it’s for a reason. I’ve been given a gift and I’d be foolish to waste it.”

For most of the last decade, Sands has been virtually invisible in the club DJ scene. He built a name in Dallas spinning regularly at the old Brick and had high-profile gigs such as opening for legendary DJ Junior Vasquez at Club One and hosting T-dances at Liquid. He developed a reputation as a guest DJ nationally before that trend had really taken off, remixing and producing music for the Hot Tracks and Direct Hit labels. In dance music circles, the Dallas-based spin doctor was a pretty damn big deal.

Sands’ DJ career had hit its stride by 2005, with him on the cusp of achieving his personal goals. Working with high profile artists and keeping his nationwide gigs regular, Sands was getting the name recognition he wanted and even needed for a long career as a DJ — it was also wearing him down.

Then came Christmas 2006.

Sands felt something inside his mouth that seemed off. He dismissed it, but his partner, Morgan Millican, ended up taking him to get it checked out.

HEY MR. DJ | ‘I wanted to make sure I left a mark so people can say I was here,’ he says about his music. With a new lease on life, Sands is anxious to take audiences on musical journeys again.

“The day after Christmas, I got news that squamous cell carcinoma showed up on my biopsy [in his mouth]. It was devastating,” he says. He had had two previous cancer diagnoses, but that was 10 years earlier. And this was a lot more serious. (It is similar to the cancer than has afflicted Roger Ebert, though Ebert’s is more severe, Sands says.)
Sands was in good physical shape and health, despite being HIV-positive, but with his compromised immune system, this cancer was back with a vengeance.

“I knew something was wrong and I had to do something,” he says. “I hadn’t been taking any antivirals and I didn’t have insurance, so I got scared. I didn’t think I had any choices, but Morgan kicked me in the ass to look into it.”

Initially, doctors at Baylor Hospital decided severing his tongue to eliminate the cancer was the only option — and even with that, they gave Sands only a 25 percent survival rate. But the doctors who had treated him for cancer in 1997 stepped in and moved him to Parkland.

“I was hesitant to get into their system, but I found out that people shouldn’t be afraid of Parkland,” he says. “I didn’t have any choices. They became my saviors. I almost died in 2007. I normally weigh about 165 and had lost 45 pounds. But if you look at me today, it’s thanks to Parkland.”

Still, it was the hardest road he has ever taken.

Sands worked his last gig in February 2007 in Akron, Ohio, at the Hearts on Fire circuit party before undergoing chemo and radiation treatment on his face and neck throughout that spring. Although he kept his day job at the Knox-Henderson branch of the Apple store through November 2008, the radiation took its toll — and was also liquefying his jawbone.

“I worked through my treatment, and I was very happy at Apple,” he says. “But I had to leave to get focused on my health. It wasn’t until almost a year later, that I was diagnosed with osteoradionecrosis, where the jaw bone is dead.”
Sands had jaw replacement surgery in May 2009. You could literally say his leg bone’s connected to his head bone: A medical team connected a portion of his fibula to replace the missing mandible. Then he learned that the cancer had been incubating in his lungs.

“I thought I was cancer free, but it was found in the upper left lobe of the lung and I had to have that removed [last] October,” he says.

Sands had a long tenure at the Brick when it was located on Maple Avenue, building up his name there. When the club was closing and regular DJs returned for a big farewell bash, it broke his heart that he could not attend. He did return eventually to the club in the new space last September, but his optimism was outweighed by self-imposed pressure.

“I was depressed not to be part of the closing party, but I look back and it would have been foolish to do it,” he says. “When I played the Brick this last time, I had mentally gone to a dark place. My skill was rusty and I was nervous. I was trying to be what they remembered and tried too hard.”

Local DJ Blaine Soileau stepped in to help get Sands back on track, but in his eyes, he was merely returning a favor.

“Troy was my inspiration to move forward with my DJ/production career and into the circuit realm,” Soileau says. “The face of music and touring has changed dramatically since his departure from the scene.”

Sands was there helping Soileau get his career off the ground and he credits him with lighting a fire under him to now get back into the game. Soileau loaned him equipment to tinker with and pushed to have him play at the Dallas Eagle, only this time, Sands feels ready.

“Blain told me that the Eagle was interested in talking to me,” Sands says. “I used to be the one trying to help people and now Blaine was working to help me get back. The crowd and staff seem excited and [owner] Mark Frazier has been awesome. What they are going to hear from me is not your typical circuit fare, but definitely appropriate for the club. This is giving me my life back and I have Blaine and Chris to thank for that.”

Chris refers to famed DJ Chris Cox, who owned the Hot Tracks label Sands worked on and who has now gone on to international fame. To Sands, Cox has been an inspiration and hero. That was reaffirmed when Cox performed at the 2010 Austin Pride in front of thousands and requested Sands as the opener.

“I think his passion for music is partially responsible for his fight to live,” Cox says. “I knew he still had it in him but he needed to be sure. When he was on at Pride, he totally nailed it. I’m so happy to see he’s come back. This is beyond surviving the cancer. He’s living again.”

Sands now finds himself with a resident gig at the Dallas Eagle twice a month, calling the night “Troy Built.” He loves the name, but is more in tune with the shirt he has on from Apple. Across his chest is blazoned the motto: “Completely remastered.”

“It’s a magical feeling when you connect to the crowd and Dallas has allowed me to take them on a musical journey,” he says. “I’m lit again and figuratively and physically, I do feel remastered.”

As only a DJ would say.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 21, 2011.

—  John Wright

Riding for fitness, riding to make a difference

TARA DANNEHL Team Dallas Voice

TARA DANNEHL Team Dallas Voice
TARA DANNEHL Team Dallas Voice

Look out 150 miles, here I come!

My name is Tara Dannehl, and I am very proud to be apart of the 10-year anniversary Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS!

Life for me revolves around health and fitness. So when I was asked to participate in this year’s ride, there was no reason in my mind to say no.

My friend and SPIN professional, Arlen Miller, is the man that got me on a road bike. I know Arlen from The Texas Club located indowntown Dallas, where I am a personal trainer and group fitness instructor.

I have been working as a trainer and instructor for seven years. I get fulfillment in aiding and watching the changes people make in their lives for the better.

Many of my clients have come to me for assistance in reaching personal goals of completing a half or full marathon, a triathlon and other distance events of running or biking. I’ve also had some friends starting running for the first time in their lives to raise money for charities dear to them.

And finally, it is my time. I decided that if all these individuals of different ages and abilities can achieve such incredible goals that I needed to make one for myself.

I’ve always enjoyed bike riding and the outdoors. I have spent my time on a hybrid mountain bike, so at the beginning, I didn’t really think there would be much difference in a road bike — wrong! I’ll share that experience with all of you hardcore road bikers in just a second.

Next, I am going to brag about the wonderful bike loaner program.

I was so eager for the ride and this new experience, but I didn’t have a road bike. So Arlen put me in touch with David Minehart and the Loan Star Locker.

And I was set! I now have a wonderful, royal blue Marin to put my miles on.

I took it to the shop and after a little touch up and some new clip shoes, I was almost ready to begin putting miles on the odometer.

While the bike was in the shop, I took my clips and began regularly attending a spin class at the gym. I also would hop on the spin bike in my spare time. I wanted to get comfortable with the clips and felt this would be good practice.

Once I picked up my bike, I must admit that it spent a few days in the garage as I dealt with some small anxiety about this new experience, clips and all, that was looming in the back of my mind.

Then one beautiful Saturday morning, my husband and I finally geared up and headed out. Wow! It was such a completely different experience than what I was used to from a mountain bike!

That first ride was great. What made it even better was that I hit the one stop light between our house and the lake while it was green, both ways, and didn’t have to unclip.

Yes, I told you I was anxious!

But not to worry fellow LSR bikers, as I have been practicing with my clips. I will be a pleasant and respectful rider with you on this amazing 150 mile ride.

Yes, 150 miles — I can’t wait!

The icing on the cake for me is that this experience is an opportunity to raise money for organizations fighting AIDS and supporting those affected by HIV/AIDS.

The Lone Star Organization reaches out to so many and continuous support is needed to make significant progress in research and education. It is an incentive to be backed by family, friends and acquaintances to raise money for an organization such as this one.

I am ready to hit the road and be apart of the 10-year anniversary ride this September. It is going to be an experience of a lifetime, and it will be so wonderful to share it with so many other supportive riders and crew.

Thank you to the organization and those that have gotten me this far. I especially appreciate my husband for going on practice rides with me and my parents for believing in me.

See you on the road! Go LSR 2010!

Tara Dannehl is a member of Team Dallas Voice. Donate to her by going online to LoneStarRide.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas