Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Rose

It was two years ago this morning that Craig, my handsome young lover died. At 8:00 AM I found his body on the floor of his bedroom. He had died of "accidental auto-erotic-asphyxiation". [see my blog on here dated September 19, 2006]
The last two years have gone so fast....were it not for my many friends I could not have survived as well as I have. Today I spent some time with Jazz [that's her picture in the About Me column]. I'm sure she wondered why I cried all over her but she likes being held. Years after my father died my mother told me "It never gets better, but it does get easier". I have to agree with mom.

Tonight I went to the Baltimore Symphony with our friend Steven. On the way home this song was playing on the radio. While Craig and I both liked Bette Midler this song was not particularly special for either of us. Since he died everytime I hear it I tear up. Isn't it amazing how music effects us? The words pretty much describe how I feel about Love. Yes, I freely admit to being a sentimental old fool.
Here are a few pictures of Craig. The young man with Craig at the Cloisters in New York City is our friend Gunny. The first infant Craig ever held was Lila, a good friend's daughter, I'm glad I got a picture of the two of them. And that's me standing behind Craig and the big yellow duck.

The Rose Lyrics – (by Amanda McBroom)

Some say love, it is a river
That drowns the tender reed
Some say love, it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love, it is a hunger
An endless aching need
I say love, it is a flower
And you, its only seed

It's the heart, afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It's the dream, afraid of waking
That never takes the chance
It's the one who won't be taken
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul, afraid of dying
That never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only
for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snow
Lies the seed
That with the sun's love, in the spring
Becomes the rose
(performed by Bette Midler)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Stand Up 2 Cancer

Okay, I'll admit to crying at the drop of a hat. I don't really sob, it's more that my eyes well up with tears and overflow. Sometimes they flow through my beard and drip off my chin. Usually I mop them up before they get that far. Now you are probably asking right now "What got you started this time?"

Well, I just watched a one hour television special aired on the three big channels, ABC, CBS, and NBC. (Fox counter programmed with "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?") The program, Stand Up 2 Cancer, was a telethon for cancer research. It featured a number of celebrities as well as normal ordinary people whose lives have been touched by cancer (survivors, patients, family members, and friends). It also featured doctors making great strides in cancer research.

A close friend of mine, Mark, is currently undergoing chemotherapy for his third bout of Hodgkin's lymphoma. (Check out his blog at I've been spending a fair amount of time with him this summer. As I watched this program at first I was thinking of him and my mother who died, in 2000, from cervical cancer. Then it hit me I am a prostate cancer survivor. I don't often think about my own cancer (I was very sick afterwards with diverticulosis, totally unrelated to the cancer).

I am very lucky, my tumor was classified as Grade 1a (which means that it could only be diagnosed by a biopsy). Treatment last January was to have my entire prostate removed by robotic-lapriscopy using a machine called a DaVinci. The surgery went well with few complications. Thanks to the DaVinci there was very little nerve damage (no incontinence and few problems with impotence). Compared to Mark or my mother I suffered very little.

Each of us fights cancer in our own way. My mother was 88 years old and chose to accept death gracefully and with considerable faith. Mark is fighting his cancer with patience, enduring his chemotherapy and its side effects. And thanks to my many friends I, too, am a cancer survivor.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Just the facts, Ma'm, just the facts!

Okay, for the sake of open disclosure (and fearful that you might think otherwise). I am a liberal (make that very liberal) Democrat. I listened to Gov. Sarah Palin's speech last night. I found her more than a little irritating but that might have been because I am a liberal (make that very liberal) Democrat.

I'd like to suggest you who are reading this check out these links:

John Stewart Hits Karl Rove, Bill O'Reilly, Dick Morris On Sarah Palin Hypocrisy

Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland used the racially-tinged term "uppity" to describe Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama Thursday.

and one of my favorite sites since it is an equal opportunity "de-bunker"

FactCheck's Mission reads in part:

We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit, "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.

They have Special Reports going back to December 2003. Reports from 2004 focused on the last Presidential Election and took on both Kerry & Bush.

Now I recognize that I haven't posted links to the Republican National Committee or John McCain's webpage, but then again I haven't posted the links to the Democrats or Barack Obama.

On another post here I'll talk about my (short) career as a Democratic leader and that, my friends, is a "teaser".

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Freude und Freiheit

I am much more likely to cry in moments of great beauty than sadness.

It was last Spring that my friend Steven gave me a birthday ticket to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's final concert of the season. It was the first season for Maestra Marin Alsop, Music Director and Conductor. In scheduling her first season she had included all nine of Beethoven's symphonies. I must confess that I love "The Ninth" with it's stunningly beautiful music and Schiller's great "Ode to Joy". The rumbling baritone soloist sings Freude (Joy) and my tears start flowing, my feet start dancing (it's a good thing I'm sitting) and I'm doing my best air conducting until the conductor turns to the audience and we can start applauding. It was the best birthday present imaginable.*

Two or three weeks ago MPT (Maryland Public Television) was doing one of their fund raisers. I was channel surfing when I discovered they were broadcasting the film of an incredible concert from 1989. It was a special edition of PBS Great Performances.

In December 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and the two Germanys began their reunification. On Christmas Day there was a concert at Berlin's Schauspielhaus (Playhouse). Leonard Bernstein led orchestras, choruses, and soloists from Berlin, Dresden, New York, London, Paris and Leningrad (representing the two Germanys, the wartime Allies and European Jews) in a massive rendition of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The original concert was broadcast live in more than twenty countries to an estimated audience of 100 million people. For the occasion, Bernstein reworded the text of the final chorus, substituting the word Freiheit (freedom) for Freude (joy). He said he thought Beethoven and Schiller would have approved.

I remember that original concert. My partner Joe and I sat glued to the television. It hit home for both of us in different ways. Joe's mother was from Czechoslovakia and he had done his undergraduate thesis at Cornell on Nazi Europe. My mother's family was German and although they had been in this country since the mid-1800s they suffered discrimination during the war because of their German last name (Franz). Joe was even more emotional than me and we hugged and wept all through the concert.

And so now you know the story of the last time I cried.

in October 2008 the BSO will be performing Bernstein's Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Today is the 63rd anniversary of the detonation of the first atomic weapon of mass destruction. The United States dropped the bomb, nicknamed "Little Boy," at about 8:15 AM on Monday, August 6, 1945, on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing 80,000 people (by the end of the year the numbers had risen to 140,000). Three days later, August 9, the second bomb, "Fat Man," was dropped on the city of Nagasaki eventually killing 80,000 people.

This is one of the six photographs recording the disaster of Hiroshima. A precious photograph taken only three hours or so after the explosion.

Mr. Matsushige, who was a news cameraman then, wrote in the "Hiroshima Tokuho," issued on August 6, 1980, based on his experience, as follows:
" front of the police box of Senda township located at the west end of Miyuki Bridge, a policeman took off the lid of an oil can and started to give first aid treatment to the people with burns, but the number of the injured increased rapidly. I thought this must be photographed and held the camera in position. The scene I saw through the finder was too cruel. Among the hundreds of injured persons of whom you cannot tell the difference between male and female, there were children screaming 'It's hot, it's hot!' and infants crying over the body of their mother who appeared to be already dead. I tried to pull myself together by telling myself that I'm a news cameraman, and it is my duty and privilege to take a photograph, even if it is just one, and even if people take me as a devil or a cold-hearted man. I finally managed to press the shutter, but when I looked through the finder for the second time, the object was blurred by tears." (

At the Peace Memorial Park this morning in Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba said "We who seek the abolition of nuclear weapons are the majority....
Last year 170 countries voted in favour of Japan's U.N. Resolution calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Only three countries, the United States among them, opposed this resolution,"
The memorial speech was attended by the ambassador of nuclear-armed China, as well as Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and elderly survivors of the attack.

Officially the bombs were necessary to prevent the greater loss of life that would result from an American invasion of Japan. I don't know if this is true or not. I do know that we are living in a world with far too many nuclear weapons.
We are fighting a war in Iraq because (officially) our government was convinced that Saddam Hussein had developed atomic weapons. He did not. We have come close to war with North Korea and Iran over their development of nuclear weapons.
Earlier this year, if I remember right, Sen. Barak Obama said that he would talk to the leaders of Iran and that nuclear weapons would be off the table. Sen. Clinton made much of that promise, criticizing him for making it.

I sure do hope it's a promise he keeps. I fear for our world. I believe that if we aren't careful atomic weapons will yet destroy us. Whether it's the unsupervised weapons left over from the Soviet Union or weapons produced by new nuclear powers like Iran I am afraid for our world. We must speak out and hope to whatever God we worship that we can disarm before it's too late if it isn't already.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mt. Vernon Methodist Church in Hampden

I'm not all that big on copying directly from another source to this blog BUT it would be silly to rewrite. This church was a few blocks from my old place in Hamden.
Fire officials are now blaming the fire on a fast moving thunderstorm that came through around 7 AM.
The storm was very loud with lots of thunder and lightning so I wouldn't be surprised if Jazz and I heard this happen this morning. The pics are from my friend Ed Schneider.
Sorta makes you wonder just what they did to offend the gods!

Hampden Church Destroyed by Fire
Reported by: Sara Spangler Last Update: 11:10 am ABC2News in Baltimore

The fire broke out shortly before 7 a.m. Saturday morning at the Mount Vernon United Methodist Church. Arson investigators are sifting through the rubble this morning after a 3-alarm fire completely destroyed a church in Hampden.Crews were called to Mount Vernon United Methodist Church on the 800 block of West 33rd Street shortly before 7 a.m.According to Chief Kevin Cartwright, spokesman for the Baltimore City Fire Department, when firefighters arrived to the scene they found the church to be fully engulfed in flames with heavy smoke throughout. Chief Cartwright described the steeple as glowing orange with fire.The church is a stone, 2-story building with a steeple reaching approximately 100 feet into the air.Chief Cartwright said about 30 homes in the area were evacuated along the 800 block of W. 33rd Street and the 3200 block of Chestnut Avenue. Firefighters were afraid the steeple might collapse and they couldn't be sure which way it would fall. So, residents on both sides of the church were told they needed to leave their homes.Fortunately, the steeple did not collapse and no one was injured in this fire. Arson investigators are now working to determine a cause.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Candle For Tibet

August 7th 2008 is the day before the opening ceremony of The Olympic Games in Beijing.

On this day Candle For Tibet aims to create the world's greatest LIGHT PROTEST, when at least 100 million people from all over the world will light a candle and say YES to freedom in Tibet!

All you are asked to do is to light a simple candle on August 7th at 9 pm in your own time zone. Light the Candle at your home, workplace or in a public place. Put the candle in your Window, or on your desk, or anywhere else where other people will see it and hopefully do the same. Our light protest will be seen by billions on TV screens all over the world on the day the Beijing Olympics open. We are not against the Olympics or anything else for that matter, we stand for Freedom. Period. On the following day we will issue letters to every head of state in the world to tell them exactly how many people from their country wish Tibet to be free. We will also insist that each one of them act for the freedom of Tibet. We will also issue letters to the general secretary of UN, the government in Beijing and to other global organizations with data on global participation.

Why are we doing this?

Candle For Tibet is a non-profit, non-violent grassroots campaign that aims to help in the process of Freeing Tibet, to support the value of freedom to all humankind, and to help in creating a new tool of influence for individuals from all over the world.

Why Tibet ?

Tibet has become a symbol of freedom. It is a symbol that represents the natural right of any human being for self determination, freedom of thought, conscience, belief and religion.

Why Now ?

The Olympic Games in Beijing which will open on August 8th 2008 are a unique opportunity to focus the world's attention on the annulment of those rights in Tibet and in many other places in the world. This is a unique opportunity in time when China is sensitive to worldwide public opinion. This is why we feel it's the right time and place to make our stand.

What's the plan ?

We will start lighting our candles in India on Thursday, Aug 7th 2008 at 9 p.m. After that, people from each country will light their candles at 9 p.m. in their own time zone. In this way we will ensure that our millions and millions of candles are seen and noticed throughout all the time zones of the world. Our friends in Australia, Japan and the Far East will light their candles when the official ceremony begins on the following night.

For more information please check out: