Thursday, July 29, 2004

Oh, America

Okay. I watched Edwards' speech last night. It was a pretty good articulation of what the Democracts are espousing this year.

As I was growing up, my father used to tell me that the honest politicians in this town (Denver) wouldn't fill the back seat of his car. My father was fond of big-assed vehicles, so I figured he was probably talking about three or four people. My father served the City and County Of Denver as a police officer (the last four and one-half years as Chief of Police) for twenty-six years. I served the City and County of Denver for twenty-three years, ending my career with six years as Director of Purchasing.

My father's admonition that honest politicians are few and far between was, in my own experience, confirmed. My father used to say that politicians lacked a backbone; that they were gutless, spineless sons-of-bitches who wouldn't commit to the time of day, much less anything else unless it enhanced their electibilty at the next election.

And, watching the Democractic convention, I'm convinced that politicians have not changed their stripes. They're still full of shit.

I did think John Edwards' speech was inspiring. But, then, Edwards is, indeed, still a politician.

Anyway, it is so important; it is so vital that the ignoble, digustingly evil administration of Dubya -- fratboy President -- be ended that I can move beyond my innate distrust of all politicians -- Democratic or Republican -- to embrace the Democratic polemic; the Democratic ideal.

Oh, America, wake up! Dubya has so divided our nation; has so divided our world that we will be so very lucky if the election of John Kerry is able to salvage our greatness; our humanity; our democratic spirit.

"...and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right ..."

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, "I Am Waiting."

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Micheal Moore (Goodbye Dubya)

Just watched Michael Moore on CSPAN. He's at the convention and was invited to speak at one of the many rallies the Democrats are holding in one of my favorite cities in the whole wide world -- Boston.

Anyway, I was a little agitated with the media reporting that Dubya is gaining percentage points in the polls and Kerry is dropping. I mean, given that the Democratic convention is going full steam, wouldn't you think Kerry would be gaining points?

Well, Michael Moore had a good point (as he usually does). The pollsters provide that their numbers, Moore said, are based on "...those most likely to vote..." in the November election. And, who is most likely to vote in the November election? Well, naturally, those who have voted in past elections. Moore wondered if that included the young, the poor, people of color. He cited a precinct in, I believe, Toledo, Ohio that is 98% African American which, in the last presidential election of 2000, realized a 13% voter turn-out. How sad is that? Moore's point, of course, is that Kerry and the Democrats have to give those folks in that Toledo precinct a reason to get out and vote for Kerry.

Moore also pointed out that Kerry and the Democrats have to give those inclined to waste their vote on Ralph Nader a good reason to get out and vote for Kerry.

Otherwise -- in both the case of the previously disinterested in that Toledo precinct and the Nader fans -- he warned, Dubya will retain the White House for another four years.

Moore is a good speaker. I understand why the Democratic Party probably didn't invite him to address the convention, but, damn, he would have fired up those delegates; he would have frenetically energized what, to date, has been a pretty boring process.

Dubya has got to go. I think the integrity, the greatness, the humanity, the strength of America depends on getting the little fratboy President out of the White House and back on his ranch where he can do us no further harm.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Sweet Melissa

Sweet Melissa Posted by Hello

This is our ten-year-old Alaskan Malamute, Sweet Melissa Marie, who recently lost her yardmate, Calvin, to Lymphoma.  She has, since the loss of Calvin, become quite needful.

She rarely leaves my side or, if she's more than five feet away from me, she keeps her attention focused on me to see if I'm going to modify our daily routine at all.  She is obsessive about our routine, which begins at about 6:30 every day with a run in the park Our day generally does not end without a walk to another park before lunch and, if it isn't too hot, another two mile walk when David comes home from work.  Then, of course, dinner; a drink for me with some teevee and a few slices of cheese for Melissa.

Melissa sleeps in the house.  She has, since Calvin's death, become anxious and uncomfortable in the back yard and will not stay in the back yard by herself.  In fact, if she has to do her business she will not do it in the back yard unless I physically go out there with her and wait until she is done.

She is my buddy, my companion.  David and I love her very much.



The other day,  I was taking a look at blogs, clicking on the ones that had cute, interesting or intriguing names when I came upon anonyboy and read the post entitled, "Boys on the Brain."  Here is a twenty-six year old, articulate, cute, chatty, intelligent young man who by his own confession hasn't "...gotten laid in almost a year."  Anonyboy is (I think he is convinced??) indubitably gay.
I emailed anonyboy with the information that I and my partner, David, will celebrate twenty-two years of life together this November.  I provided this information to him simply to communicate to him that, hey, if he has any questions about what this whole gay thing is about, I could probably provide some answers.  And, now that I think about it, what I could provide has probably more to do with just the nature of commitment and love than with how any of us are oriented sexually.

Hmmm... Love?
I have been reading lately about Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky. Last night I read that his death from cholera on November 6, 1893, (the same year David's and my old house was built) was, most likely caused from his decision to intentionally drink a glass of cholera-infested water; seeking the comfort of death rather than living with the painful knowledge that his beloved nephew, Vladimir, had forsaken their relationship by associating with female prostitutes.

Love hurts, or so the song says.

Yes, and love laughs and love cries and love is silent and love is cacophonous and love is ugly and love is pretty and love is all there is and love is lacking and love is fulfilling and love is a tear and love is a smile and love is a nod and love is a mystery and love is known and love is unknown and love is brilliant and love is stupid and love is bright and love is dull and love is tough and love is easy and love is … a many-splendored thing.

And, I guess love could sometimes simply consist of sitting before a monitor and, through cyberspace, just connecting with someone, somewhere.    

Love? No, I still don’t know what the hell that word means. I just know that the years David and I have had together have been … lovely.

And, I guess that’s really all that needs to be said, except … yes, except that the spirits who haunt our old house have returned. They whisper in my ear … their breath a cool wisp against my cheek. "Peter Illyich," they say in a voice as old as the walls of this house, but as vibrant as a new spring. "Peter Illyich," they say as softly as the creak they make as they pass through the floor to surround David sitting on the love seat below. "Peter Illyich," they say softly, sweetly, as they leave me to kiss David’s eyes with their smiles as our old house reverberates with the sound of the Sixth Symphony, known as the Pathetic which Peter Illyich gave us in 1893.

Anyway, give anonyboy a visit. 



Sunday, July 18, 2004


I hate to run.  I've always hated to run.  I've never enjoyed running and would rather eat nails than run.
But, over the past three or four months I've begun running at least a mile in the morning with my trusty companion Melissa Marie at my side.
Melissa Marie is a ten year old Alaskan Malamute who, before we started running, was about twenty pounds overweight.  In fact, the Vet prescribed some RD prescription food for her.  (She absolutely refused to eat it, so I took the big bag of dry and the twenty-four cans of meat to the Maxfund, a no-kill shelter in near West Denver.)   At the worst, Melissa weighed about ninety-six pounds.  She's now down to about eighty pounds.
I'm down to 165 after eight months of following Atkins and exercising.  (I started out at 205.)
Anyway, I hate to run.  But I do.  Every morning with Melissa at my side.
It's curious.  I've never really studied the physiology of running, but let me tell you there is a significant physiology to running which begins with pain.  Yes, after the first minute or so of actually giving physical movement to that commitment to run, the body churns up this, Hey are you kidding me! message to the brain, suggesting that this body, my body, is not capable of this much torture; every muscle, every bone, my lungs, my heart scream:  Stop!  Please Stop this insanity!   But, I move on.  I keep going.  I keep chugging ahead ... with Melissa at my side who, by the way, doesn't really have to run to keep up with me.  She just kind of walks fast. 
Soon, after about four or five minutes, my body says, Okay, I can do this, and the pain, the torture in  every muscle and organ of my  body abates, lessens.  As a matter of fact, after about four or five minutes, I feel as though I could go on forever.  I feel good.  I feel like what I am doing is about the most incredibly remarkable thing I've done in a long, long time.  (This is probably what's called the runner's high  which probably has something to do with endorphin production by the body.)
It doesn't hurt either that Melissa and I run around the Berkeley Park lake where we've seen storks (egrets??) and other exotic wildlife cohabiting with the gnats and mosquitoes, geese and squirrels, trout and suckers, all of whom call Berkeley home.
Pretty boring post.  But, what the hell.  If you're ever at Berkeley Park at, oh, six-thirty in the morning and see a newly svelt older gentleman in shorts, t-shirt and baseball cap with a beautiful, haughty Alaskan Malamute leading him around the lake nod a hello and understand ... I really hate to run.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

More Hickenlooper

Today's Rocky Mountain News lavished great praise on John Hickenlooper's first year as mayor of Denver. And, he deserves much of that praise. He's done a good job.

The article did, however, point out that Hickenlooper has chosen to take a "back seat" on issues like the gulag Wal-Mart intrusion into our neighborhoods. For me, that's unacceptable.

The News praised Hickenlooper for his public stand against the same-sex marriage Constitutional amendment that Dubya thinks is the issue that's going to save his ass in November. What the News didn't report is if Hickenlooper supports same-sex marriage. He's never, to my knowledge, said yea or nay. I'd like to know.

You know, it occurred to me that Hickenlooper's success as a restaurateur prepared him well to be the essential cheerleader, the inveterate performer who knows intuitively how to play the crowd. And, play the crowd, he certainly has over the past year, beginning with his ingenious campaign for mayor and continuing up to the cute photograph on the front page of the News, this morning showing Hizzoner bouncing on a trampoline.

Any restaurateur knows that you gotta' give 'em what they want to keep them comin' back for more.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Hickenlooper's Curious Silence

Denver's new mayor, John Hickenlooper, has been curiously unsupportive of neighborhood groups who oppose the intrusion of the corporate gulag Wal-Mart into communities. The following is an editorial I sent to our weekly Northwest Denver newspaper,The North Denver Tribune:

Helen Hu’s Hickenlooper refrains from weighing in on Wal-Mart proposal, that appeared in the July 1st edition, reminded me of a recent article in the Rocky Mountain News (June 11th edition) entitled, Citizens seeking ‘missing’ mayor. That story, too, involved Hickenlooper’s penchant for sidestepping issues related to citizen opposition to Wal-Mart intrusion into our neighborhoods.

What I've noticed about our mayor is that he wishes to be all things to all people. And, if that's not possible; if he can't stand center stage and please everybody, then he ends-up missing in action.

Hizzoner ran for mayor on a platform that centered on a convenient issue which captured the imagination of an enormous block of Denver's citizens: parking management and the bureaucracy that lorded over it. Yessir, a reformation of the bureaucracy was in order and John Hickenlooper -- private sector entrepreneur that he was -- was just the guy to do it. Little did he realize that being mayor of a major American city really doesn't dovetail nicely with being a successful restaurateur. Being a millionaire doesn't help much either.

It is axiomatic that there are essential differences between the running of governments and the operation of a business in the private sector. One of those differences is that if you're the CEO of a private sector business you can pretty much hide out whenever you want to. When you're the mayor of a major city, hiding out on major issues is just plain dereliction of duty. It may even be evidence of a wee bit of pusillanimity -- (some Denver cops have come to refer to hizzoner as chickenlooper). What's more likely is that Hickenlooper's team has become quick studies in the artful dodger style of politics: coat the boss in Teflon, keep him out of harm's way when the heat's on and, by all means, don't do anything without a committee or commission to blame if a decision happens to backfire.

Hickenlooper’s spokeswoman, Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, put a curious spin on the mayor’s silence with regard to the West Highlands’ Wal-Mart issue by explaining that all the mayor can do is to assure the bureaucracy does it’s job in evaluating whether or not the Wal-Mart proposal meets the letter of the law.

Forgive me, but that sounds a little like the kind of bureaucratic tap dance Hickenlooper’s run for mayor promised to wipe out at city hall. Indeed, this was the guy who was going to take the nonsense out of the bureaucracy.

Lent’s comment in nonsensical. There are many ways a mayor leads and one of them is NOT hiding behind the bureaucracy.

Come on, Mayor, you can do it. Just say it: West Highlands is NOT the place for a Wal-Mart. Period.

"All politics is applesauce!" said Will Rogers in 1924. (The word applesauce in 1924 was slang for "attractive nonsense.")

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Denver Drivers

Why, I wonder, do Denver drivers no longer stop at stop signs or red lights? David believes that it just simply is not convenient for them to do so. So, they don't. They just cruise right through the stop sign; some of them totally pausing -- as David says -- for a microsecond and then going on their merry way. Others don't even totally pause when they come to an intersection with stop signs, but just quickly whip their head from side to side checking, I suppose, to see if a mass of metal is close enough to cause mayhem and, if not, they just accelerate right on through. Ignoring red lights is a problem for me. When Denver drivers see amber they accelerate. It doesn't matter if they're 100 yards from an intersection, they accelerate. Most of the time, this results in the Denver driver running a red light. They enter the intersection just when the light turns red for them and green for others. If you happen to be standing on the corner, waiting to cross the street when the Denver driver accelerates through the red light and the Denver driver knows you're there, they will look the other way, knowing you're probably giving them the finger or shouting something pretty inane, like, "Hey, that was a red light!" But, see, to the Denver driver, it's okay what they've done if they turn their head away from you and don't have to experience your anger or gesticulation. Now, if the Denver driver is going to make a right turn on a red light it's kind of the same stop sign mentality in that the head quickly whips from side to side and, without really slowing down, the turn is made on the red light without stopping.

I actually saw a Denver driver stop at a red light, then -- since no vehicle was dangerously close to him -- make a left turn on a red light. And, no, these weren't one-way streets. Once again, it just wasn't convenient for that particular Denver driver to wait for the green light.

I guess the more important concern is the collective mentality behind this kind of behavior. Disrespect for the law? Or, is it more likely that what's going on is just what David implies: This is not convenient for ME so, fuck it, I'm not stopping; the law at this particular moment is just not convenient for ME to follow.

Denver drivers are the worst drivers on the face of the earth. They wouldn't last ten minutes on the streets of Boston. Ever driven in Boston? There is no ME on the streets of Boston. There's a collective WE in Boston and you'd better get with the program, 'cause ME just doesn't cut it in Boston.

Anyway, just thought I'd get this off my chest.