Friday, May 26, 2017

Ten Years of Blogging

Ten years!  Oh my!  It's hard to believe but I have been blogging continually now for ten years.  I do this five days a week (originally I wrote these entries on the weekend too) and for the past eight months, I have also been writing a seven-days-a-week blog about kindness. 

Yes, I still remember that this is NOT about me, but allow me a moment to thank all of your for reading both of these blogs and the odd musings from before, that this grew out of.  I appreciate you taking the time both to read and to offer your comments.

Oh and if you thought this was a goodbye message, it's not.  I'll still be writing both blogs (between the two, that's about fifty entries per month) and I hope you will continue reading.  Your comments are always welcome too, and please feel free to offer suggestions also.  Tell me about some folks that you know of who are making a difference.  Tell your friends too!

If you haven't checked out my kindness blog yet, what are you waiting for?  Click HERE and kindly share that one with your friends too!  Thanks everybody!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Gospel According to Herb Caen

Herb Caen, the late newspaper columnist (who wrote for The San Francisco Chronicle and earlier for The San Francisco Examiner) was one of those people who made a difference in this world, mostly through his writing. When I picked up the morning paper, I went immediately to his daily column. A while back I reprinted here a column of his from back in April of 1991. For those of you who missed it, here it is again:

Scene: The Heavenly Real Estate Office. The Landlord is cheerily rounding up a covey of blazing comets that have skittered under Queen Casseopera's Chair. His business agent, Gabriel, enters, his Golden Trumpet in one hand and more reports from the tiny planet Earth in the other.

Landlord: (to the Comets) Come out from under there, you little scamps, before you set the whole galaxy on fire.

Gabriel: Excuse me sir. Another batch of prayergrams from your most devout Christians.

Landlord: (waving a hand) Whatever they want, Gabriel. Now where did those freaky devils get to?

Gabriel: Yes sir, they want you to evict ten percent of your tenants down there. (Raising his Golden Trumpet) I've never attempted a partial eviction. Shall I try?

Landlord: (looking up) What ten percent, Gabriel?

Gabriel: The gays, sir. Your devout Christians say they've done their utmost to keep them out of their schools, their offices, their churches, and their lives, but with little success. So their prayergrams ask you to remove them from the face of your Earth.

Landlord: To me Gabriel, that doesn't sound very Christian. I thought they were supposed to love their neighbors.

Gabriel: Oh they do sir, if their neighbors are of the same color, economic bracket, and sexual orientation.

Landlord: But what harm do these gay people do?

Gabriel: I'm afraid you're not seeing the big picture, sir. Gays simply don't fit into your grand design. You know, two by two, male and female? Generation after generation? The fact of the matter is that gays simply don't procreate.

Landlord: I thought there was enough procreation down there already.

Gabriel: And they commit unspeakable acts.

Landlord: Murder? Torture? Paving over my mountain meadows?

Gabriel: Unspeakable sexual acts, sir.

Landlord: Ah, you mean they express their love for each other in different ways.

Gabriel: (annoyed) Really sir! If these people were automobiles, they'd be recalled in a nonce. They're clearly defective.

Landlord: (frowning) Defective, Gabriel?

Gabriel: Exactly sir. Some essential part if missing; some vital drive is malfunctioning. Bungled wiring – a loose screw...who knows?

Landlord: But clearly they're examples of shoddy workmanship?

Gabriel: Oh definitely sir. And they certainly don't deserve to clutter up your little blue-green jewel of a planet a minute longer. (Raising his Golden Trumpet again) Shall I evict them now?

Landlord: (slowly) And who made these imperfect products, Gabriel?

Gabriel: Why you did of course, but. . .(he lowers his trumpet in sudden consternation) Good You sir. I didn't mean to blaspheme. You will forgive them then?

Landlord: (smiling) A wise philosopher said long ago Gabriel that if I made sinners, it is not I who should forgive them, but they who should forgive me.

Gabriel: Well, I'm sure the gays will be glad to hear of your tolerance and generosity, sir.

Landlord: The gays? I was talking about my most devout Christians.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Before you kick it

I've always felt that having goals is a good thing. Lately I hear more and more people talk about their bucket lists. Are they really such a good idea though? Some people say we are rushing death (the term "bucket list" coming from kicking the bucket, a popular expression meaning to die) and others say we are creating lists with difficult to fill ideas. I'm thinking though that having defined goals, can't be a bad thing.

Some folks list very simple things and some come right out of a thrill-seekers guide. What about you though - are there places you would really like to visit or people you want to meet of see perform or maybe some special things you want to do?  How about this:  don't just make a list, but include other folks.  There are organizations that help fulfill the wishes of dying people, but how about if we all did something really special before someone else passed away - a shared bucket list if you will.  I think I could really get behind that idea!

So how many of you think that is a good idea? How many of you have a bucket list of any kind? Before you kick the bucket, is there something special you want to do for others?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

You are a child of the universe

Last night I kept hearing the words of this poem in my mind, and so I decided to write about it today - The Desiderata. Early in 1972, Les Crane's spoken-word recording of this poem (a poem with a very confused history, but I won't go into that), peaked at #8 on the Billboard chart. I can still remember listening to it over and over back when I lived in Nashville. As you all know though, this is NOT about me.

The words are quite inspirational. "As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons." Who can argue with that? "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself." Certainly this is another good thought. The poem is full of them! The words - the ideas - the list of things to be desired (the actual translation of desiderata) here are so uplifting!

My favorite part of the poem, is a section that was used as a refrain in the recording: "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Never give up

On this date back in 1930, not far from where years later I would be born, Harvey Bernard Milk came into this world. His early years were on Long Island, and even after a stint in the Navy, Harvey returned to Long Island to teach. We remember him more for the short time he spent in San Francisco, and for the encouraging words he spoke, and for his tragic death.

I've written here a lot about Harvey - more than any other person. People need to know who this man was and what he did. His famous "Hope speech" is so often quoted, but there was much more encouragement than that. In a taped message that wasn't heard until after his assassination, he urged gay people to come out. "I cannot prevent anyone from getting angry, or mad, or frustrated. I can only hope that they'll turn that anger and frustration and madness into something positive, so that two, three, four, five hundred will step forward, so the gay doctors will come out, the gay lawyers, the gay judges, gay bankers, gay architects ... I hope that every professional gay will say 'enough', come forward and tell everybody, wear a sign, let the world know. Maybe that will help."

Today is designated as a "day of special significance" for public schools in California, after the legislature there in 2009, passed a bill, which Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger signed. Special observances will take place today, not only in classrooms, but at events all around that state, particularly in San Francisco. Hopefully folks in other parts of the country will remember Harvey Milk as well. His political career was short and he didn't accomplish many of the things he would have, but he became a symbol - an icon. He gave us hope, and he continues to, 39 years after his death.

Once, in an interview with The San Francisco Chronicle, Harvey said "If I turned around every time somebody called me a faggot, I'd be walking backward - and I don't want to walk backward."

Harvey Milk led us forward. I recall those days in San Francisco, and the energy and the enthusiasm still exists. There may be difficult moments and our country may regret some political decisions, but we must continue to move forward and never give up. Recalling a portion of Harvey's most famous speech, "The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right. Without hope, not only gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the us'es, the us'es will give up." Let's remember Harvey, and never give up!

Friday, May 19, 2017

it takes all kinds

We often hear it said that it takes all kinds.  Indeed it does!  I am so fortunate to know al kinds of people - people who serve, people who lead, passionate, talented, committed people, those who are seeking, those who have heard a call, innovators, givers, people who make this world so much better.  Making a difference in this world for the better, is the theme here.  All I have to do each day is look around and I find so many people and so many ideas to write about.
Yes, there are some who are only takers.  There are people who are more inclined to destroy than to build up.  These are not those folks who make this world so great and thankfully, these are not the majority of folks I know.
It takes all kinds - even the ones who don't want to contribute.  They help inspire us to do good instead of following them.  When we see bad, we are not inclined to follow it.  The positive wonderful things in our lives are the things that inspire and lead us forward.  Thanks to all of you who serve and who lead and who give!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Giant winners

I've been a fan of the San Francisco Giants baseball team for most of my life, and living in that city back in 1994, I was especially proud of the Giants when they teamed up with the Until There's A Cure Foundation and become the first professional sports team to host an AIDS benefit game.  It was something that needed to happen, and the Giants came through.  Over the years I have written about this event, which tonight will be happening for the twenty-fourth time.

I'm sorry to say that the need is still there.  A lot of folks have forgotten about HIV/AIDS.  Many are too young to remember when there was no such thing.  Many are also too young to remember all the suffering and all the deaths.  Yes, things have improved - in fact they have greatly improved, but there is still no cure.  That's why the Giants and Until There’s A Cure Foundation keep raising awareness of prevention education, care and services, in an effort to help find that cure.

I have probably written here about HIV/AIDS more than anything else.  It's important.  That's why I do AIDS Walk San Francisco every year, why I support other fundraisers and why I think education and testing are so important.  I support the use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).  I support the many organizations who are working to remember our past and fighting for a better future.  Of course I also support my baseball Giants for this annual effort and all the other ways they give back to the community. 

Tonight, a portion of your ticket proceeds goes directly back to the Until There’s A Cure Foundation, plus you get to see the Giants take on the division-rival Dodgers.  I hope we win the game of course, but more importantly, I hope we soon win the fight against AIDS.  This is a fight we must win.  I'm so glad to see that the Giants are still giant!  Let's all do our part too.