15 December 2013

Two Gay Men Beaten To Death With Lumps Of Wood

22 October 2013

Celebrating my 29th Birthday

Yesterday, October 21st, I celebrated my 29th birthday, again.

It's a birthday I've celebrated before, and one that I will continue to celebrate, because I'm not done.

I've been thinking a lot this year about why I celebrate my 29th birthday, instead of my actual age. Most people -- most of my friends, included -- probably think it's because I'm vain. As a gay man, I can't age into my 30s. But that's only a part -- a very small part -- of it.

The year of my actual 29th birthday was the year of my automobile accident -- the one and only. The one that changed my life. The one that put me into a living coma, out of which I'm continuing to emerge.

That year, I survived a fatal automobile accident in Montauk. I shouldn't have survived and were it not for a good samaritan who pulled over when he saw my car go off the road, I wouldn't have survived.

I spent most of that year in hospital (including my birthday), both for my physical and mental health issues. The accident kick-started my Depression and dysthymia into high gear. I'd been suffering from both, in silence, and unbeknownst to me.

That year, my grandmother -- my surrogate mother who raised me since I was a toddler -- died, while I was in hospital. My last words to her were not kind; she was in a nursing home recovering from a slip & fall incident, and I did not agree with the facility where she was placed (King Street Nursing Home), as I considered them to be incompetent and inept, to be kind.

After my grandmother's departure from this Good Earth, my grandfather was diagnosed with melanoma. My father got married and didn't tell me. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, for the first time. My grandfather was hospitalized with pneumonia. A friend hung herself in hospital and I was there when they discovered her body, jerking uncontrollably. Hospital Staff then tried to blame me for helping my friend commit suicide, despite my being in a wheelchair and being hospitalized for depression and suicide myself.

I discovered the failings of our medical professions, both with respect physical and mental health. I asked for bereavement counseling after the accident, after my grandmother passed, and after my friend took her life. I never received it.

I went from being affluent to having nothing. $250,000 in savings (including retirement) wiped out by medical bills. Years later, I would lose what little I was able to retain and be forced onto the streets and, at one point, left with virtually only the clothes on my back. But I digress....

I never had a chance to heal from the machine-gun emotional trauma I experienced that year.

The last man I ever loved also left this earth around the same time my grandmother passed on and transformed her energy, although I didn't find out about it until a few years later.

The year of my 29th birthday, I spent the entire day crying, in tears. And no one could understand why. The medical professionals attending to my mental health care didn't have the time to talk with me, to help me understand what was going on in my life--to help me adjust to the limitations that were placed upon me, both physically and psychologically.

I needed to be in a place where I was insulated, protected from the harsh realities of life. But they soon threw me out of there, declaring that my desire to end my life wasn't serious. It was; I was just so doped up on painkillers, I couldn't work out the plans correctly. And if I weren't doped up on all the painkillers, I would have been screaming in agony from the physical pains as my body did its best to mend itself and, in the process, regain the 100+ pounds I'd lost at university.

And so, I celebrated my 29th birthday (my real one) in tears of agonizing pain--deep, profound, agonizing physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual pain.

I still feel like I'm turning 29.

And I will continue to celebrate my 29th birthday, until I actually have one to celebrate.

Happy Birthday to me. Right...Cheers.

28 September 2013

YouTube lets Informercials in (but it's not what you think)

Apparently, YouTube has decided to allow infomercials to be played on its network -- as advertisements! Consider this advert, which appeared (and I had to suffer through) on a 3:48 video I wanted to watch. I mean, seriously, forcing me to watch a 15:30 advert in order to watch a 3:48 video?

Can we say, #EpicFail, boys and girls? :P

01 August 2013

Reflections on the 2013 NYC Mayoral Race

Over the past few months, I have carefully been considering the 2013 New York City mayoral race and examining the candidates who are seeking office. I reserved making a decision about whom I would support until I had invested enough time to examine and try to work with all of the candidates.

Most importantly to me as an LGBTQ-rights activist, NYC Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn has stood out among the candidates as standing by the LGBTQ community, and I believe that she will continue to do so. Not many know about this but Quinn has laid out a plan for LGBTQ residents of NYC:

  • Establish a Mayor’s Office of HIV/AIDS Policy
  • Ensure That No Young Person in New York Has to Spend the Night on the Streets
  • Build New York City’s First LGBT Senior Housing Community
  • Make Sure City Agencies Effectively Serve all LGBT New Yorkers
  • Redouble Efforts to Combat Hate Crimes and Promote Tolerance

Quinn's plan and support for the LGBTQ community, laid out in more detail on her web site (linked to above), is something no other city-wide candidate can even begin to approach. While one needn't be a member of the LGBTQ community to support us, the fact that she is part of the community gives her a deep-rooted understanding of our needs and wants, as well as the passion, drive, and determination to see that we are not forgotten about.

There are a handful detractors out there who complain about Quinn -- whether it's about her bulldog personality (which led to a NY Times article about her sometimes acerbic nature) or those who continue to believe the misinformation disseminated by a spattering of short-sighted individuals who don't know how hard Quinn and her staff fought to save St. Vincent's Hospital from closure -- even after the Archdiocese of New York, the state government, and the federal government all walked away from the hospital that had incurred more than $1 billion in debt and had stopped paying its medical staff. Such narrow-minded vision detracts from the bigger picture, and those who refuse to examine the entire record, instead of mere soundbites, do a disservice to us all.

Additionally, I believe Quinn's bulldog personality will serve more as a benefit and, perhaps, may even be a requirement for the mayorship of NYC. Just a take a look at the previous "Hizzoners": Giuliani and Bloomberg are definitely the pit bulls of NYC's mayors but they effectuated positive change in this city, pulling it out of the brink of failure and decline. They revitalized the city after years -- decades -- of neglect. Indeed, crime is down, money is coming in, and things are moving forward.

On the other hand, we have Abe Beane and David Dinkins, whose meek natures and personalities allowed the city to fall deeply into disrepair and ill repute. Regardless of one's personal opinions of Giuliani and Bloomberg, one must admit that the city is in better shape under them than it was under Beane/Dinkins--despite the currently persistent, lagging national economy.

More to the point, Fiorello LaGuardia is perhaps most remembered for his boldfaced personality and as someone who moved the city forward in leaps and bounds -- a situation that could best be compared to how I envision Quinn will handle her mayorship based on her most impressive track record to date.

The harsh (to some) reality is that it takes a bulldog to get things done in this city. The fact that Quinn can be described as such a bulldog, to me, is an asset--at least in terms of qualifications for the position she seeks. She has a proven track record of getting things done -- from tenants' rights to caring for the elderly to holding Wall Street accountable to rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy, she's been there and gotten the job done.

New York City is a global leader; it's a city like no other and has one of the most complex infrastructures and bureaucracies of any city sitting on the world stage (I should know after my experience of trying to navigate the city government's system to obtain the requisite permits to produce the 2013 Bronx LGBTQ Pride & Health Fair).

As the Mayor of the world's stage, Quinn will be in a position to advance LGBTQ rights throughout the world in an unprecedented manner as no other can. Indeed, the mere fact that a lesbian has been elected as mayor of the world's preeminent city will send ripples of acceptance throughout the world.

One of the issues listed on on her web site is combating hate crimes and promoting tolerance. When the Mayor of NYC speaks, the world listens, and we can expect a Mayor Quinn to be very vocal on global acceptance of LGBTQ individuals and our community. Given her "bulldog" personality, do you really think she will remain silent on the inhumane treatment of LGBTQ individuals in Russia, Africa (Uganda and others), the Middle East, and beyond?

So just what can we expect a Mayor Quinn to do, as someone who will get the job done?

This is where I had some reservations about Quinn. In my work on building a new LGBTQ community center for the Bronx, I'd heard perceptions of an absence from Speaker Quinn in the outer boroughs. At first glance, this appeared to be the case.

However, as I worked with Quinn's office on various projects over the past few months, as well as with Quinn herself, I discovered that such perceptions were based on the sad fact that people are lazy, do not wish to research or read for themselves, and instead rely on rumours and innuendo spread by friends and family alike.

Quinn is, in my experience, passionate, dedicated, and willing to do what it takes to get the job done. Her energy is positive, and driven. She's not going to make everyone happy. She's not perfect. And she's not willing to change who she is in order to please everyone. In short, she has integrity and she's honest. Despite otherwise being the quintessential politician--her integrity and honesty are qualities that one very rarely finds in today's breed of career politician.

I have no misconceptions or misgivings that, from time to time, Quinn won't serve certain special interests. In running the most complex and preeminent city in the world, one has to mire their feet in such muck on occasion in order to move forward and get things done. But she has shown a commitment to the citizens and to progress each and every time she has had to dip her feet into the quagmire of politics in order to move the City forward--and that's what's important.

That being said, I expect Quinn to be a focussed, progressive leader who has a commanding ability above the other candidates to get the job done. In fact, I propose that should really be her slogan: Get The Job Done Quinn.

For the reasons set forth above, I hereby lend my name as an LGBTQ-rights activist of some 20+ years (hey, I was very politically astute as a teenager!) in a hearty (and heartfelt) endorsement of her candidacy.

It's not like one would be voting for the lesser of the evils, after all--something I refuse to do (I voted neither for Obamney nor Robama in 2012). But rather--and quite surprisingly--by voting for Quinn, one would be voting for the best out of an imperfect bunch. And to be honest, if there were a perfect candidate, I wouldn't trust them. I'd rather take someone who's flawed but real, industrious, honest, and committed, rather than the ideal of perfection that lofts about in lilliputian contempt.

Christine C. Quinn for Mayor of New York City -- the world's stage -- because she's my kind of bulldog!

18 June 2013

Ruminations on Progress in Recovery (or, How to Eat an Elephant)

During my many inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations for Depression and suicide (both ideation and attempts) after my car accident, I was suffering from not only a loss of social status (adjusting to living on SSD income) but a loss of physical and mental capacities (Depression really does a number on one's cognitive abilities).

I've since overcome many of these feelings, and even some of the physical and mental debilitations (although not all of them, unfortunately). I've had to learn how to live with a "new me" if you will, and learn that I have new limitations, in addition to discovering what previous limitations I've always had.

It wasn't the doctors who helped me with the profound sense of loss and feelings of inadequacy. They're just there for pharmacological stabilization--"let's get him stabilized on pharmaceuticals and shove him out the door" is the mantra of most psychiatrists these days.

It certainly wasn't my friends, most of whom abandoned me in my time of need. The few friends that have remained a part of my life to this very day, I can count on one hand. But I know they are true blue and will always be there for me.

It wasn't the nurses, or nursing staff. They were always too busy chatting amongst themselves, gossipping, talking with the pretty patients, and letting maybe one person per shift do all of the work. They rest were otherwise doing everything but their jobs -- except when a crisis arose (which wasn't that often, as I was usually placed on the more "stable" and "less disruptive" units).

It wasn't the therapy sessions -- individual therapy was nonexistent. Group therapy was usually monopolized by other patients, and at the time, I didn't feel comfortable revealing what I was dealing with to the others because, quite frankly, I either found it more interesting to work on their problems, didn't feel I was worthy of their support, or was placed in a room with a bunch of morons.

Rather, the one person who assisted me was -- of all people -- the hospital's nutritionist. She's the one who took the time to talk with the patients (including myself) each day. She's the one who made it a point to find, and speak with me, on a daily basis. And slowly, over multiple hospitalizations and countless discussions, she provided a gem of wisdom that turned a switch on in my brain.

Before my car accident, I was somebody who could launch into a situation, attack a problem, and provide a resolution (or complete a task) in short time. After my accident, I didn't expect things to change, and when I realized that they had, and that I had permanent physical damage, it sent my dysthymia into a tailspin, throwing multiple episodes of major depression on top of it.

During one of our discussions one day, the nutritionist -- the only employee of the hospital to spend a significant amount of time providing talk therapy with me (even though she wasn't licensed to do so but hey, she's the one who actually helped me out the most) -- asked me a simple question:

How do you eat an elephant?

I was stumped, and this goes to show how off my thinking was. I was guessing at answers, throwing everything in the book at her, except the (now) obvious answer. With a fork? A spoon? A knife? A saw? 

Smoked? Stewed? Spiced? Baked? Fried? Fire-pit roasted?

Over a period of days? Weeks? Months? Years? Decades?

My answers to the question revealed two things about me: I tend to overcomplicate things, and I think too damned much about things.

The correct answer, of course, is something I never thought of:

One bite at a time.

That revelation blew my mind away. I spent the next week reflecting upon its simplicity, and veracity.

I realized, and began to analogize, my struggles with recovering from my accident to eating an elephant. I began to see that even miniscule amounts of progress were significant -- moving from a wheelchair to crutches. Moving from crutches to a cane.

Being able to read a paragraph in a book -- being able to read a simple sentence in a book. Things I had taken for granted for years and couldn't do (because of the Depression's impact on my cognitive functions). Being able to recognize a word and recall its meaning. 

I began to see these accomplishments as tiny bites in my elephantine meal, instead of overlooking them.

I began to celebrate every little extra thing that I could once again do, instead of dismissing or ignoring them, as I had been doing.

By celebrating each of these accomplishments -- by recognizing that I could once again accomplish something, no matter how small that something was, I began to pull out of the black hole I had existed in for quite a number of years.

I stopped looking at all of the things I couldn't do (which I still do from time to time) and began focussing, and concentrating, on all of the things that I could do.

The nutritionist actually suggested I make a list of what I could do. The first day after she gave me this task, I presented a blank list to her. She corrected me, in a loving and supportive way: I could breathe. I could see, I could taste, I could touch, I could feel. I chortled.

But those items, and the nutritionist, got me to thinking. There are people in the world who can't do some of those things. So in a way, perhaps she was right.

And she was.

I began adding to the list. It took a fair amount of time but I eventually had an entire page of things that I could still do--accomplishments I could celebrate.

And with that, my road to recovery began. I've had to build that road from scratch, just as all roads to recovery must be built. But I learned that I could do it, and the feelings of accomplishment, of being able to celebrate each victory--no matter how small--are what propelled me into being able to take on the enormous task I undertook last summer.

Despite often feeling overwhelmed and that I'm not up to the task or the challenge of building a new LGBTQ community services center for one of NYC's more populous boroughs, I've been able to get a great deal accomplished. The most important of those is, of course, assembling a group of caring, loving, supportive, amazing, talented, and wonderful individuals who really care about the community, and building this new center.

So for all of those doubters, nay-sayers, and obstructionists out there, as well as all of those who are facing their own road to recovery, I say this: Start eating your own elephant, one bite at a time. And when you've finished your first, come join us in a great big pot-luck elephantine dinner, and help us tackle this huge pile of elephants.

Once you've discovered your individual ability to eat an elephant, joining in an elephantine feast becomes a piece of cake. Speaking of which, I'm going to go hunt down a nice piece of black forest cake this week! ;)

Note: No elephants were actually harmed in the making of this post. FFS people, it's an analogy! SMDH

11 April 2013

Conversations in a Hair Salon

I was having a discussion with an older gentleman in my friend's hair salon yesterday, while I getting my hair done (the salon is owned by my friend, and as we barter for services I don't pay anything out of pocket).

The essence of the conversation revolved around the political crisis that we're facing. We discussed some of the possible reasons that we've managed to sink into such a time of extreme crisis: the vast majority of people in this country (the USA) do not want to know what's going on in the world or in this nation, unless it's something they don't have to think about. In other words, they just want to kick back, pop open a brewskie, and be entertained. They do not want to think about and/or deal with real-world issues—something they leave to the realm of their employment (should they be one of the 37% in this nation who are gainfully employed).

I posti that a very large part of this mentality is due to the fact that we have no real news coverage in our country. Our "news" and "media" are, for the most part, sources of pure entertainment. For instance, the other day, the stories that caught my attention were the protests against Russian Premiere Vladimir Putin in Amsterdam, the death of Baroness Thatcher, threats by North Korea of nuclear attacks against the USA, the civil war and strife in Syria, the crisis in Cypress, flooding in Thailand, and a few other stories.

What was the most pressing issue in the US media: "What did you think of the new Mad Men episode last night?" That -- a poll about what the public thought of a fictional television drama -- was the lead story of the day for most of the media outlets across the nation.

If you think media in this nation isn't a source of entertainment, look at who's presenting the media: 95% of the anchors and news reporters one sees on television could qualify as contestants in beauty pageants. I dare anyone to find me a current news anchor on one of the major networks with the looks of Roger Grimsby, Hal Fishman, Larry King, or Bob Schieffer. Why do you think Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil are relegated to PBS (public broadcasting station) news shows -- the least-watched of all news shows in the nation?

Have you ever seen what the disastrous silence that ensues when one of the current TV news anchors' teleprompters runs into a glitch? Or worse, when a field reporter (who all must meet the beauty requirements of news anchors these days) runs into technical difficulties with the writers who are feeding them questions into their earpieces, in the middle of a live interview? The field reporter hasn't a clue what to do without those directions being fed into their earpieces.

I'm tempted -- and this is something that the Occupy and Anonymous movements should consider -- to show up when field reporters are conducting live, on-air interviews, and initiate an EMF-jamming signal, preventing the reporters from receiving their instructions and questions to ask the interviewees. Now that would be entertainment, and it just might wake some people up to the fact that the "news" shows they watch every night are merely another form of entertainment.

It is this mentality that has crippled our nation (and some other nations around the world who seek to emulate us) to the point of it no longer being the shining mecca of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness it once was. The mega-rich, those elite few who have plotted for decades, now control just about everything that goes on in this nation. Nothing gets done without their say-so or that doesn't inure to their benefit.

One would think this uninformed, apathetic attitude would exist solely in the lower, uneducated classes but that's far from the truth. The vast majority of even the so-called well-educated in this nation haven't a clue as to what's going on in our own back yards, let alone the world. And again, it's because the elite few have turned our media and news agencies into sources of entertainment, all to keep us placated and them in power.

If the citizens of this nation ever were to wake up from their entertained dreamland of wonderment, they will be in for quite the rude awakening. Unfortunately, I have very little hope that we will awaken in time to save this nation from the destructive path upon which it is most certainly headed.

Oh, and in keeping with the spirit and mentality of the American public, this is how mah hurrrs came out:

For those of you who don't realize it, today is 4/11 -- 411 is a number commonly used as an abbreviation for information (in the USA, dialing 411 usually reaches an operator (or nowadays, an automated system) where one can ask for "information" about a phone number they're trying to look up). Perhaps this little 411 post will awaken a few minds and unplug them from the Matrix -- which will be just as much a shock in reality as when Neo was unplugged....

08 April 2013

Changing Meanings via Censoring One Word

A friend from a BBS suggested that I watch this video, which is taken from an episode of Sesame Street. They censored one word, and the entire meaning of the video has changed...if you can't figure out what the word is that they censored, let me know and I'll post it in the comments. But first, watch the video and be prepared to laugh!